It was something he had started doing after the events with his evil alternate future. No one else remembered completely. Even Jazz only recalled bits and pieces. He was on his own with this. And he had nightmares.
Blood- splattered against the walls, dripping from the ceilings...
He'd wake up in a cold sweat, tears streaming down his cheeks. Sometimes he'd awaken screaming with Jazz hovering over him protectively. He always told her it was nothing, a weird dream about being eaten like Tucker's Nasty Fries.
Torn, mangled limbs like some kind of twisted abstract art...
Some nights, it was so bad the Danny broke into pitiful sobs which racked his thin frame. He wasn't eating anymore, and exhaustion was his only motivation for sleep. On the plus side, he had more time for studying.
Horrified screams rippled through the night air in waves, almost tangible...
Every Friday night, he flew out to the tallest building in Amity Park. When the clock struck midnight, Danny Phantom could be seen pacing on the edge, contemplating suicide while drowning in tears of sorrow. He was so afraid.
Oh-Oh God! Their hearts were still-still... BEATING...
He no longer spent any time with Sam and Tucker, terrified that he would loose it in front of them and tear them apart. He couldn't stand looking anyone in the eye; he didn't have the strength to stand up for himself anymore.
They eyes... S-so dull and lifeless...
Then came the storms. Winter always brought about some rain, maybe a little lightning. He'd never had reason to be afraid. But there he'd be, whimpering at the explosive sounds and flashes of bright light.
And the fire! Why was there always fire?!
He's huddle in the corner, with his arms clasped over his head and his hands curled up in his hair, muttering to himself that everyone was safe and accounted for. Then another rumble of thunder. Another whimper. He never noticed the worried red eyes, watching him from beyond his window.
Why did he always get burned?
He was on top of the building again, the clock striking away in the distance. Who would protect everyone from the ghosts?
His parents and Valerie were highly capable ghost hunters, and there was always the Guys in White.
But that wasn't fair to them! They didn't deserve that!
Life wasn't fair! They shouldn't have chosen to become ghost hunters!
He shouldn't have stepped in the ghost portal...
Sharp, ivory fangs glinted in the dim lighting...
These ghost powers had been a curse. Why shouldn't he choose to give them up? To give up his life?
What about all of the promises he had made? How did he know he wouldn't become a full ghost and be evil?
Flickering, white flaming hair...
Why did he always have to do the right thing? Why didn't he ever get a break? Why was life always so hard on him?
Heroes didn't get breaks. They shouldn't need them. Heroes were strong; they protected the weak and the innocent, those who couldn't help themselves.
He didn't want to be the hero anymore! He had never really wanted to be the hero! He just didn't want to be useless! He didn't want to be a freak!
Piercing, crimson eyes...
The teen was extremely close to the edge now. Tears poured down his face like rain, and his chest heaved with silent sobs. His eyes had long since dulled to a dim forest green. His ghostly hue was unnaturally soft, hardly making him glow at all. He was remarkably skinny and pale now, signs of illness. He felt so weak...
Why? Why did it always have to be him?!
He could just give in... It would be easy... He'd be free...
Why-why was he so alone?
The quivering boy stepped even closer to the edge, swaying in the slight breeze. A light rain started to pick up now; it would surely be another storm. Could he handle it? Could he sit through another storm?
Why was he always so alone?
Could he deal with another beating from Dash? Could he handle another of Sam's rants? Could he be okay with Tucker's jealously and Jazz's superior looks?
Why did he always have to face it alone?
Could he deal with the next bad grade? The next lecture from his oblivious parents? The next ghost fight? Next sleepless night?
Why did they leave him alone?
A different kind of sob tore through the teen, making him shudder. It was much colder now; the rain was getting heavier. He should get inside...
Had he really chosen this difficult life? Plagued with fears and nightmares, failures and disappointments? Crushed dreams? Shattered hope? Endless enemies and careless friends?
Was he the only one that felt this way?
Had anyone else even realized the suffering he was going through? Would they mourn his loss? Or would they be happy?
Was he also alone... This way?
No more clumsy Fenton, making a mess of the chemistry lab. No more annoying Phantom, agitating the town. No more rebellious Danny, skipping class and forgetting his homework. No more destructive Phantom, destroying city property and dodging arrest.
So much blood...
The teen leaned precariously over the edge and stared down into the empty street. Of course- it was late at night. No one would be out here...
They just kept dying... WHY?! WHY DID THEY HAVE TO DIE?! WHY COULDN'T IT BE HIM-
Suddenly, a pair of strong arms enveloped Danny in a hug, scooping him up and warming him down to his core. "Please, little badger, don't do this..."
A flash of lightning...
A terrified squeak...
The teen wrapped his arms around his head. "Please. P-please. M-make it stop... I c-can't! Not a-anymore! M-make it... I-I can't watch them d-d-d-"
"Shhhhh," Vlad soothed, running his hands through Danny's hair comfortingly. "Everything's okay, little one."
A loud crash of thunder!
The boy whimpered.
"M-make it s-stop... I c-can't a-any-anymore... P-please..." The boy's eyes started to slide to a close.
Why did he feel so safe suddenly? He hadn't felt this way since before the accident. He- he felt so secure. Why did he feel this way? Who could make him feel this way?
Huge, bulging muscles...
Vlad! Vlad was the second half that created HIM! He couldn't stay with Vlad! Vlad and him, they would bring about the end of the world! They would kill everything and everyone!
Danny whimpered quietly and tried to pull away. "N-no- I-I can't-t! W-we can't... N-no! No! NO!" The blue eyed teen pushed away from the man and backed away from him, unconsciously moving away from the edge. "NO! T-THIS IS ALL WRONG!"
The red-eyed half-ghost reached out a gloved hand for the boy. "Little one, you don't have to suffer anymore! I can't bear seeing you like this! Come with-"
"T-THEN LEAVE!" Danny shouted. "I-I c-can't..." He fell to his knees.
The child cried out.
Because, really, in the end, that's all he was- a child. He was a child who made a mistake. Someone so innocent, who gave up their life for this mistake and chose to help others. Someone who grew tired and made a second mistake. That second mistake led to the end of the world.
But that entire time, he was only a child...
A dark cape, flapping wildly, the tips coated in their blood...
The blue-skinned man stepped forward and pulled the trembling teen into his arms. All the boy did in response was weep.
"Little badger, you can never shed enough tears to make any of this better." Another sob rang through the air.
"You've been through far too much for someone so young, and I will not have your spirit broken."
Another outburst of thunder had the child clinging to the man. Vlad just quietly stroked the back of Daniel's head.
"Little one, I'm not entirely sure what has reduced you to this state, but I intend to protect you. I will not force you to renounce your father. I will not attempt to flirt with your mother. I simply wish to see you smile again."
Danny started shaking for an entirely different reason. He wrapped his arms around Vlad's waist and wept into his chest.
"I-I'm s-sorry," he gasped out. He flinched at another burst of light across the sky. Light exploded from around his waist, transforming him back into his human half.
"Shhhhh," Vlad chuckled. "It's alright." Danny shook his head, quivering with restrained emotion.
The monster was starting to back away... ?
"T-thank you," he whispered. Vlad wanted to help him get past this. Vlad wanted him to be happy. Vlad cared.
"You're welcome, little one."
Where was he going?
"We should get you out of this weather. You'll catch your... death. Hmmm, that isn't quite as funny as I thought it would sound," Vlad murmured. The teen shook in silent chuckles. "Alright, let's get you home."
They were finally going to fight...