DISCLAIMER: I don't own Danny Phantom. Nope, not me!


A/N: I'm just going to skip the apologies for this chapter being so ridiculously late, because I'm sure you guys would rather hear the story instead. Thank you all, though, very much for your reviews! :) Allons-y!


Blood Blossoms Are Red

Chapter Four: It's Experimental, My Dear Fenton

The next time that The Cougar came for him, he had three completely new goons with him, and they were all wearing white lab coats. Danny wasn't quite sure what to think about this new development, and he wasn't really given time to dwell on it, because without a word, The Cougar pulled out a hypodermic needle filled with a clear liquid from seemingly nowhere and had plunged it into Danny's arm before the teenager even had a chance to remember how much he hated needles.

Darkness.


When he woke up, Danny was no longer tied to the chair, and while this was a relief, he was more than a little bit nervous to find that he was now reclining back on some sort of adjustable operating table, his wrists, ankles, and neck held firm to the cold metal surface with tight leather straps that pinched his skin. He wasn't gagged, and he was alone. "I'm going ghost," he whispered, just for kicks, and nothing happened.

He struggled, but when it became apparent that all he was doing was hurting the tender skin of his wrists and neck as they chafed beneath the leather, he stopped, taking a deep breath to try to calm himself. He didn't know what was going on, but he didn't like it. He remembered the goons in lab coats and fervently hoped that he wasn't about to be operated on. He wasn't quite ready to donate his body to science, especially considering that he was still alive and all.

He waited for what seemed like ages, but what was in actuality only about fifteen minutes. Finally, the door opened, and The Cougar re-entered the empty-except-for-the-creepy-operating-table room, followed closely by his three cronies. The two in front were wheeling some sort of table between them. From his position, Danny could only see what was going on from his peripheral vision, but even the little bit he could make out would have made him feel very uneasy, even if he hadn't been ominously strapped to a table. The Cougar and his men stopped beside Danny, and Danny saw what appeared to be some needles on the table. More needles, great, he thought, his stomach doing a cartwheel. Just what I want. Oh wait, no… what I want is to find a way out of this place!

The Cougar stood over him, leering, and a very creeped out Danny Fenton finally snapped, "What do you want from me?"

"You're just as brave - or perhaps foolish - as my informant told me," The Cougar stated, his eyes glinting maliciously. "Even without your powers, you aren't quaking in the face of danger. I can respect that. Unfortunately for you, that respect does not equate my releasing you, because you are far too valuable to my work."

Danny's brain was buzzing frantically. "Powers?" he asked, cursing his voice for becoming high-pitched and squeaky all of a sudden. "What powers?" He thought that playing ignorant might be the best course of action, but it was immediately apparent by the unimpressed expression on The Cougar's face that the man didn't believe him in the slightest. Danny's mind whirred as he waited for his captor to respond. So this man knew about Danny Phantom? Was he a ghost? Someone possessed by a ghost? He wasn't sure, but he knew that whatever situation he'd been so unceremoniously tossed into was even worse than he had originally thought.

"Oh, please, Fenton. It's a good thing you're not an aspiring actor, because you're not very believable. No, I know about your 'ghost powers.' And I'm actually quite interested in them. Don't worry; I'm not going to kill you, or even seriously harm you. You're far too rare for me to rid the world of. In fact, you can even say that I'm going to use you for good." The way that the man said the word "good," and the gleam in his eyes when he said it, made Danny think that this guy's definition of good was a heck of a lot different from everybody else's good. He would even go so far as to say that it was bad.

"Why don't I believe you?" Danny mused sarcastically, his eyes flashing angrily. "Oh, yeah," he answered his own question, cynicism dripping from his words, "Maybe it has something to do with the way you've strapped me to a table! Something tells me that the 'good' of the world isn't exactly what you have in mind here!" He tugged futilely at the leather strips that tied him down.

The Cougar just laughed. "On the contrary, discovering a foolproof way of effectively and totally controlling the ghost population will drastically help the world."

Danny felt the blood rush from his face. "Wh-what?" he asked.

"My… patron," the man said, eyes glinting malevolently, "is very interested in creating a solution that has the potential to quite literally kill any and all beings of the ectoplasmic nature."

Danny's heart pounded in his head. He tried to imagine a world without ghosts - Amity Park without ghosts. While the prospect of some peace and quiet at home was far from unpleasant, Danny couldn't help but think about what would ultimately be genocide with horror. And there were some okay ghosts. He even had a couple friendly ghost friends - and no, not one of them was named Casper. But generally, the ghosts weren't a problem when they were in the Ghost Zone. To kill all of the ghosts -

Danny froze in his thought process, confusion setting in. He must still be pretty out of it, because he should have seen this before. "Wait a second," he said. "Did you just say that you were going to kill ghosts?"

"Yes," purred The Cougar.

"Kill... ghosts?" Danny repeated, just to clarify.

"Mm-hm, that's right."

"You do know that ghosts are... you know, not alive, right? That's why they're... ghosts. You can't kill something that is already dead."

"I can't?" The Cougar asked, looking totally taken aback. Danny narrowed his eyes, not trusting a thing that his captor did or said. "Oh, but that means all this planning was for nothing..." He smirked at his own sarcasm, which Danny found to be arrogant and quite frankly, obnoxious. "I'm telling you, kid - when I have my finished product, all it will take is one drop, and any ghost it touches will be completely and utterly destroyed. Gone. Vanished. Never existed. Where they go, I don't know. On? Maybe, wherever on is. But the point is, they won't be here. For all intents and purposes, they'll be dead."

"Why would you want to do that? If they're in the Ghost Zone -"

"Oh, look who finally admits to knowing about the ghosties," The Cougar snarled. "'What powers?'" he mocked waspishly. "And what, Danny? Are you going to say that if they're in the Ghost Zone, they're not doing anyone harm? Please. No matter what 'zone' or 'world' or whatever they inhabit, ghosts are a problem. But regardless of that, I never said that I was going to kill them all. I said that I would have the power to kill them all. I understand your confusion, though. Subtle differences, and all."

Danny's eyebrows scrunched together. "You said something about controlling them," he said, a spark of understanding coming to them.

"Very good, Daniel. I'll admit, you're a little slower than I thought you'd be, but you're getting there. Slowly."

Danny tugged at the restraints again, trying to process everything that was going on. Part of him was itching to just spout off some sarcastic quips like he usually did during battle, but if there was any kind of battle going on, then it was obviously very one-sided, and without his ghost powers and at the mercy of a creep like The Cougar, he knew he had to watch his mouth so he wouldn't get into any more trouble - if that was even possible. He begrudgingly forced himself to calm down and said, "You mentioned a patron."

"Did I?"

Danny glared. "Who are you working for?"

"Myself."

"No, you mentioned someone else. Why are you doing this? Are you a ghost?"

"Dear me, you really are a bit dull. If I were a ghost, then why would I be trying to find a weapon to kill my own kind?"

Danny tried to shrug, but his bonds wouldn't allow him to, so he just settled with trying to flatten The Cougar with a seething look. "Humans kill humans all the time."

"True, they do," The Cougar almost hissed, and Danny didn't like the look that he saw in the man's eyes. Within just a couple of seconds of his agreeing with Danny, the criminal had whipped out a long, nasty looking dagger and had the point barely touching the vulnerable skin right under his chin, and above the neck strap. Danny didn't even swallow, afraid that the blade would nick him. Fear flooded through him, and he had to struggle to not slam his eyes shut as the prick of cold metal made the hairs on his restrained arms stand straight up. The Cougar looked Danny in the eyes, his own eyes suddenly unreadable. He fiddled with the dagger a little bit, causing the tip to just barely nip the skin. Because of the restraints, Danny couldn't see, but he could feel a small, warm trickle of blood on his neck. He sucked in a breath, unwilling to acknowledge his pain or fear.

With a short laugh, The Cougar withdrew the knife and sat it on the rolling medical table with the needles. Danny let out a breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding.

"But you're not really human, are you?" The Cougar asked, the predatory gleam in his eyes making Danny wonder if he'd sighed in relief a little too soon. "No, you're unique. Half-ghost, half-human. Blood flows through your veins, but so does ectoplasm. You are a riddle that has never been solved."

"Just so you know, I'm not the only half-ghost out there," Danny supplied, deciding that there was really no point in denying the truth now that The Cougar had revealed that he knew so much. He didn't feel an ounce of sympathy ratting out Vlad, seeing how the jerk had been making life miserable for Danny for some time now.

"Oh, really?" The Cougar drawled, not looking impressed or surprised in the slightest. Danny deflated a little.

"Yeah... I can give you his address if you want it. You like cheese?" Danny blinked his eyes innocently.

"I'm lactose intolerant," The Cougar said dryly. "Now, enough talk. I know what you're doing, Danny. You're trying to stall me, and it's not going to work. I have a poison to make, and I need your help."

Danny glared stonily at his opponent. "What makes you think I'd help you?" the teenager snapped churlishly.

"Oh, nothing," The Cougar smiled darkly. "I don't think that at all. Willingly, at least." Danny gulped and half-heartedly pulled at his bonds again, knowing that they weren't going to break. "But I am still in the experimenting stage, and every time I try to use a ghost as a guinea pig, they don't last long enough for me to be able to tell what I'm doing right or wrong, and I think there's something in their ectoplasm that I need to isolate in order to truly be able to destroy them, but you can't extract ectoplasm from a ghost, because they're not solid so you can't stick a needle in their arm and get what you need."

Danny paled. "I'm not a ghost," he said. "Not full ghost, anyway. Especially not now. My... my powers are gone. So how will that help you?"

"I've just managed to contain your powers; they're not gone. You can't use them, certainly not, but the ghost DNA still thrives in your veins. DNA that I need."

"O...kay," Danny said slowly. "So, it's just a little blood work, then? A trip to the doctor's, here's a sticker, come see me in six months?"

The Cougar chortled. "Cute, Daniel. Using sarcasm and humor to try and hide your anxiety and pain. So original." He briefly turned his attention to the goons with him, gesturing for something. Danny strained to lift his head up as far as he could to see what was going on, and he felt the spot of dry blood crack on his neck as he did so. Squinting, he saw one of the men reach into his lab coat and pull out a couple of vials. "Ah, thank you." He took the containers and placed them on the table, picking up an empty hypodermic needle. "Yes, Danny, I do need to take some blood, but that's not it. You see, you are going to be my new guinea pig. With your unique infrastructure, I should be able to not only isolate the genes I need, but conduct some much needed experiments that would more than likely maim or obliterate any full-ghost test subjects before I could learn anything."

Danny's heart hammered in his chest. "N-no," he said, cursing himself for the small stutter of fear. He was Danny Phantom, darn it!

"Now hold still, young man. This won't hurt a bit." He took a tourniquet from the table and managed to wrap it tightly around Danny's upper arm, despite the boy's increasing struggles. "Now, now, Danny, you're only going to make it harder..." Danny, his mind in full-on panic mode, didn't obey, thrashing around as much as his restraints would allow him, which wasn't much but enough to make it very difficult for The Cougar to find a place to stick the needle in his arm. Suddenly, Danny's head snapped back, the back of his head slamming into the table, and he saw stars. His head pounded, and he realized he'd just been punched in the jaw by one of the goons. Dazed, Danny stopped struggling, if only because he quite forgot why he was struggling for a short moment. By the time his head cleared and the ring of metaphorical, chirping birdies had stopped circling around his head, He'd already felt a sharp pain on the underside of his elbow, and before he knew it, The Cougar was standing over him, two vials of Danny's own blood held triumphantly in his hands.

"Excellent," he said, not bothering to bandage the slugglishly bleeding wound. He beamed at his newest lab rat. "I'll leave you alone for now, Daniel. I'll be back soon so that we can really start experimenting, though." He chuckled. "See you later, Fenton. Or should I say... Phantom."

He, followed closely by his thugs, bowed out of the room, still glowering madly, leaving a terrified, helpless, and bleeding Danny strapped to a table with nothing to do except fret over what was going to happen next.


A/N: Ooooh, suspenseful, yeah? Well, now we have a slightly better idea of what's going on and what exactly Danny's managed to get himself into, but... there's still much that we don't know. So keep reading, reviewing, and looking for updates, 'kay? Thanks for reading; hope you enjoyed! Please review!

~Emachinescat ^..^