This is only a fanfic, using characters created by Butch Hartman.  No gratuities expected nor wanted.  Please visit to find pictures to go with the story.

This story takes place any time after the episode 'Urban Jungle' and before 'D-Stabilized'.


    In a small room, surrounded with glowing gears, deep within the Ghost Zone, two individuals sat looking into a portal into the real world.  One was a boy, dressed in a red and black punk fashion with an image of gears on his torn shirt.  The other was a drab looking girl with her long violet hair pulled in a braid and wearing slacks and a cardigan.
    The two were watching a fight between a white-haired youth duking it out with a stronger denizen of their own realm.

    "Give it up, whelp!" snarled Skulker.  "You cannot defeat me!"
    "Haven't I heard that before?" asked Danny Phantom as he dodged many ecto-technological weapons that were fired on him.  "Many times before?"  He fired his ecto-blast at his enemy in hopes of disabling some of the weaponry the other ghost wielded.
    "This time I mean it!  I will defeat you and you will become one of my many trophies!"  Skulker grinned at him sinisterly.  "I have the use of many new technological enhancements that I made specifically to hunt you, ghost-child."  He fired off some of the aforementioned enhancements, and Danny managed to destroy some of them and dodge the others.  He looked towards the menacing hunter ghost.
    "Why do you call me 'ghost-child' all the time?" he asked his opponent.  "It's not like I'm a little kid, you know..."
    Skulker aimed one of his ecto-cannons towards the half-ghost.  "Listen and listen well, whelp," he said.  "In terms of years of existance and experience obtained, you are a mere babe next to me..."
    "Oh yeah?!?" shouted Danny angrily.  "But can a 'mere babe' do this?!?"  His eyes turned an icy blue as he fired a freezing cold beam of energy towards his opponent.
    Skulker blinked.  "Hah!  You missed!" he chortled, then looked down.  He realised that from the neck down, his ecto-skeleton was encased in ice.  "Um.  I can't move," he said.
    Now it was Danny's turn to smirk.  "Also, can a 'mere babe' do this?"  He closed in on the trapped ghost and raised his fist...

    The two ghosts watching the fight winced as they saw the quick conclusion.
    "So, what do you think Coz?" asked the male ghost to the female.
    "What do you mean?" replied the other.  She watched the scene, keeping her eyes on the boy in the image.
    "I mean, do you think it is possible that we could take over that place?"  He pointed to image.
    "Amity Park?" she clarified.  "In the real world?"
    "Yeah."  He nodded vigorously.  "Wouldn't it be cool?"
    The girl tilted her head in confusion.  "Why do you want to take over this place?"
    "Because it is the Place!  The place where everything happens!  When our two worlds tangle Amity Park is always hopping."  He was gesturing madly, his voice rising with excitement.  "Wouldn't you love to be in control of all that?"
    "In control?"
    "Yeah. In control."  The punk ghost looked at his drab cousin.  "The ghost who can control Amity Park and its ghost portal will control pretty much everything. --The real world, the Ghost Zone, everything."
    "What good is all that?"
    "You'd have power...  Think of what you can do!"
    The female ghost stopped and thought back to all the times the other, more popular ghosts made fun of her.  They have always pulled pranks on her and called her names.  --Just because she could create and hold a schedule.  It would be nice just to be able to get back at them --even just a little bit.
    "I suppose there are a few people I wouldn't mind getting even with," she murmured.
    "Cool," he replied. "I thought so."
    "So, why are you talking to me?  I mean, you're one of the popular kids.  Aren't I the nerd?  The geek?  Why do you think I can help you?
    "Because you are the one who comes up with the best plans.  --I mean details. Sure I can come up with the greatest ideas, the greatest schemes.  But you are the one who can figure out how to make it all work.  And I need your help."
    "My help?" The girl ghost was surprised and suspicious.  "What's in it for me?" she asked.
    "What do you want?" he asked.
    "You mean to tell me that you, one of the popular kids, is willing to make a deal with your geeky cousin?" she asked.
    "Why not?  I need your help and I know what you can do.  So, whatever you want --it's yours."
    "Anything?"  She raised one eye-brow.
    "Yeah, anything.  You name it, it's yours."
    "You do realize that if our uncle was to find out what we're doing, we're going to get into serious trouble, right?"
    The boy shrugged and waved the concern away.  "Who's to say he's gonna find out? I'm not gonna tell him, are you?"
    The girl paused in thought for a moment more.  "No, I wouldn't tell him either..."  Her eyes narrowed, then she blinked and nodded.  "Okay, you got me.  But my price is high."
    "I'm sure that I can cover it.  So what is it?"
    "Two things," she said, counting off her fingers.  "One: You got to help me fix my image."
    The boy ghost frowned for a moment.  He looked at his cousin appraisingly.  "That's gonna be a challenge, but it's manageable.  You sure you want to change it?"
    The girl pulled on the hem of her cardigan and grimaced.  "Yeah, I'm sure," she said. "I'm tired of being called a nerd."
    "Okay, done.  I think we can put something together.  What's the other thing?"
    "Him."  She pointed through the portal at the white haired youth battling the other ghost.  "I want him... Danny Phantom."

Growing Pains.
A Danny Phantom Fanfic.
By Niki "NeeP" Paradis

"Watch the terror mature!"

Chapter One:  The Xtra Long Weekend

    "I LOVE Teacher's Convention!" cheered Tucker Foley.  He and his friends, Danny Fenton and Sam Manson were walking down the street towards the mall.  It was Thursday afternoon and they had the day off.  "Two extra days of no school work and no Lancer.  Just relaxation and video games."
    Danny snorted.  "Relaxation?  Only if Skulker finds another prey to chase.  Or if there is no other ghost to fight.  I really don't want a repeat of yesterday."
    "But at least your folks are outta town and we can paaaartay!"
    "I don't think so, Tucker," replied Sam.  "Jazz is still there."
    "And she will stop anything that involves loud music and lots of people," grumbled Danny.
    "Didn't Jazz want to attend the lecture on psychology at the convention that your parents went to?" asked Tucker.
    "Yeah, but apparently I'm not--" He used his fingers to make quotation marks.  "--'Old' enough to be trusted on my own for such a long period of time."
    "That stinks," commented Sam.
    Tucker shrugged.  "But at least we have two additional days to hang out together."
    Danny grinned.  "Yup.  That we do have."  Suddenly a shiver ran up his spine and escaped his lips in a puff of cool vapour.  He sighed.  "Even if the time we have is used in fighting ghosts."
    Quickly he scanned the street, looking for a place to transform to his alter-ego.   He spotted an empty phone booth.  "It's cliché, but it will have to do," he muttered as he ran to it.  He dashed in, and Sam and Tucker stood guard.  A burst of light came from the booth and Danny Phantom phased through the top.
    There were screams coming from the way they came.  Tucker and Sam looked and saw kids from their school running from some purple energy blasts.  They were being thrown from some sort of glowing nunchucks used by what appeared to be a teenage ghost in a purple and black hairstyle, dressed in red and black.  Already Danny was streaking towards the enemy.

    "That's right, you human scum!" yelled the ghost punk as he directed more beams towards his victims.  "Better get outta the way!  Things are changing!  Times are changing!"  Pieces of wreckage were scattered about.
    Danny soared up to his new opponent and stopped in front of the punk.  "Please tell me you have better moves and battle-cries than that."
    "Oh, wow," said the ghost sarcastically.  "I get to fight the oh-so-famous half ghost, Danny Phantom."
    "Yup.  It's your lucky day.  And who are you supposed to be?  Some reject from a cheesy music video?"
    "The name's Epoch!  Better not forget it."  The ghost sneered and started to swing his nunchucks around.  "I'm the ghost who's gonna kick your butt right outta the afterlife."  He sent a blast of energy towards Danny who countered with an ecto-shield.
    "Yeah?  You and what army?"  Danny fired off a few ecto-blasts towards his opponent.
    "I don't need one," replied Epoch as he swung his nunchucks around to block Danny's attack.  He sent more blasts off to Danny.  "But you just might."
    "Yeah?" said a voice from behind Epoch. "Fortunately, he got one!"  He was nailed from behind by a signpost, swung expertly by Sam.
    "Good one!" cheered Tucker.
    Danny took the moment to freeze his opponent's feet to the asphalt.  He grabbed the dazed ghost punk by the collar of his shirt.  "Why are you here?!?" he shouted.
    "Uh..." grunted the ghost.
    Danny started to shake him.  "What do you want?!?" he shouted into Epoch's face.
    "What do I want?" repeated the ghost punk as clarity returned to his eyes.  "Why, this place!  Amity Park.  But even I know that I ain't gonna get it today."  He smirked.  "Today, my cousin and I are here to get something else."
    "Your cousin?" asked Danny dumbly.  He looked around for any other ghost nearby.  He didn't see any, but he didn't look behind him.
    An ecto-blast hit him from behind, knocking the half-ghost away.  A second blast blew away the ice encasing Epoch's feet.
    Sam and Tucker turned to face the individual who fired the blasts.
    A female ghost, with green eyes and long purple hair, tied up in a ponytail, was walking towards their friend.  She wore a black and red sleeveless dress and earrings and a choker with red gears on them.  "I'm sorry, but I couldn't wait any longer," she said to her cousin as she walked past him.
    "No problem," replied Epoch.  "You're timing was perfect."
    "As always," smirked the female ghost.
    Danny was on his hands and knees, trying to get up.  The female ghost fired another blast which knocked him flat.
    "Sorry, can't have you up and about," she said.  "It's not part of my plans."
    Danny's friends ran to his side.
    "Danny?  Are you all right?" asked Tucker.
    "No.  I can't move," he replied.  "She got me with a paralysis beam or something."
    "This is one of Skulker's wonderful little devices," said the ghost as she reached the trio.  "It's called a Bioneuro-Neutraliser.  I borrowed it just for you.  I hope you appreciate it.  It's supposed to work on humans and half-humans."  She quickly fired a blast at each Sam and Tucker, who immediately crumpled to the ground.
    "Who are you?" asked Danny in a slurred voice.
    The girl ghost knelt down by him.  "You can call me Deadline," she said.  "And we better get going, because we have a schedule to keep."  She grabbed Danny's wrist and started to pull him away from the others.
    "What are you gonna do to him?" asked Tucker weakly as Epoch joined his cousin.
    "I'm going to take him home to my place," said Deadline.  "But don't you worry, we'll bring him back in a little while.  Just in time to help us take over Amity Park."
    "He's not gonna help you," said Sam as she struggled to get back to her feet.
    "Not willingly," laughed Epoch, "but by the time we're through with him, you'll be lucky to recognise him, let alone stop him."
    Deadline reached into a pocket and pulled out something.  She held it up and a portal into the Ghost Zone opened up.
    "See you, losers!" taunted Epoch as he and Deadline stepped through the portal, dragging Danny with them.  The portal closed behind them.
    "No!" shouted Tucker and Sam together.

    The two ghosts were back in the small room with their prisoner.  The gears on the walls ticked softly and was, for the moment, the only sound heard.
    Epoch snorted as he glared at the half-human chained to the slanted table.  "I can't believe you want that dweeb," he said.
    Deadline put down her clipboard on a desk nearby, next to Skulker's gun and a small glowing bottle.  "I'm the one who wrote the specifics of the plans and Danny Phantom is going to help us both."
    "No way!" shouted Danny as he pulled on the chains that held him.  "Forget it!  There's no way I am going to help you two take over my home town!"
    The ghost punk shook his head and looked to his cousin.  "Well Coz, if you can get him to do what we want, then I can't say no.  But I wanna know how you're gonna get him to cooperate."
    The female ghost gave a low chuckle.  She walked towards the table with its prisoner.  "Don't worry," she said turning back to face her cousin.  "I have plans..."
    Epoch snorted again.  "Don't tell me it has to do with that creepy room of yours..."  He looked towards a glowing door with a plaque of an hourglass on it.
    "That's my Study Room," replied Deadline with a shake of her head.  "And as I mentioned before, unless we use it, we won't have the time we need to get Danny ready for what he has to do."
    "Um, for what I have to do?" asked Danny.
    "That's right," she replied as she smiled down at her prisoner.  "The Study Room is a gift from my uncle.  A year spent in the room is equivalent to an hour spent out here.  I use it when I want to get a lot of studying done, or when I work on detailed plans."
    "Like this one," interrupted Epoch with a smirk.
    "Really?" asked Danny, trying to stall.
    "Yup," nodded the ghost punk.
    "We're just gonna get you trained right up so you can help us out," replied Deadline.
    Danny strained again against the chains.  "You can't make me!" he grunted.
    The female ghost walked back to the desk and picked up the bottle.  "Actually, I can."  She uncorked the bottle.  "All it takes is this special little something I got from Desiree."  She took a small sip and walked back to the table where Danny was chained.  She leaned over and gave him a tender kiss.  Suddenly Danny stopped struggling and his expression went blank as the spell took hold.
    "What did you do?" asked her cousin.
    "Be quiet for a moment," she hissed back at him.  "Danny?" she then asked.  "Do you hear me?"
    "Good.  I want you to relax for a bit, okay?"
    "You take a nap for a bit."
    "Okay.  Good night."  The ensorcelled half-boy/half-ghost closed his eyes and fell asleep.
    Deadline smiled.
    There was sizzling sound and dividing rings of energy ran along the sleeping prisoner, changing him from ghost to human.
    Deadline frowned.  "Hmm.  We're gonna have to do something about that," she muttered.
    Epoch shook his head as in disgust or incomprehension as to why his cousin was so wrapped up in this particular freak.  He turned to his cousin and stared at the bottle.  He then thought about how fast Deadline was able to bring the freak under control.  "Wow," he said.  "What is that stuff?"
    "Do you want to find out?" teased his cousin, shaking the bottle gently.
    "No way!" he said hastily, backing away.  "So... how long does that stuff last?" he asked in a calmer voice.
    "Until another person kisses him," she replied.  "And Danny is going to be too busy training so he won't see anyone else besides you and me."
    "I shoulda known you'd have it all planned," he said and shook his head in disbelief and admiration.
    "Of course," she replied with a smirk.  "That's why you wanted my help, after all."

    Sam and Tucker ran into the Fenton Works.  They stumbled through the living room, past Jazz who was doing some reading, and down the stairs.
    "Hi guys," said Jazz as she watched the two younger teens run by her.  "Where's Danny?" she asked.
    "Danny's in..." started Tucker but Sam slapped her hand over his mouth and smiled brightly at the older teen.
    "Danny's all right, he's fighting a ghost right now, but he asked us to get the Spectre Speeder so we can give him a hand."
    "Oh," said Jazz as she looked at her little brother's two best friends.  They were pleading at her with their eyes.  She sighed and shrugged.  "Okay, you guys can take it, just don't forget to fill it up before my parents come home.
    "Thanks Jazz!" said Sam as she dragged Tucker down the stairs.  "You got a deal!"
    They ran down the stairs into the lab and climbed into the Spectre Speeder.  Expertly, they ran down the start-up sequence.
    "Why couldn't we tell Jazz that Danny's in trouble?" asked Tucker, as he fired up the engines.
    "Because, as well meaning as Jazz is, she would only slow us down," replied the Goth girl.  "This way, we can go, get Danny and come back before she knows something is wrong."
    Tucker sat down and took the steering wheel.  He looked thoughtful.
    "What?" asked Sam, not used to seeing her friend like this.
    "What kinda fuel do you think this thing runs on?" he asked as manoeuvred the vehicle through the Fenton Portal.
    With a flash of green light, they were gone.

    Jazz put her book down and stood up.  She walked towards the stairs leading down towards the lab.  She realised the engine roar had stopped and she went downstairs to investigate.
    "Sam?" she asked.  "Tucker?"  The lab was empty and the Fenton Ghost Portal was open.
    Jazz sighed.  "Why am I not surprised that they're gone?" she asked herself.  She knew full well that her little brother was in trouble.  But she also knew that she could not as experienced in helping him as his friends were.  If Danny and his friends needed her help, she knew, they would ask her.  It was probably something they have handled before.  After all, they went immediately into the lab and into the Ghost Zone.  They obviously knew what they were doing.
    She just wished there was a way she could help Danny out as well.

    The glowing door in the gear room opened and Deadline left her Study Room.  She nodded at her cousin.  "It's ready," she said.
    "Wha..?" asked Epoch.  "You were in there for not even ten minutes," he said.
    "More like almost two months," she said.  "But the equipment is set up, and there should be enough food for three months --or fifteen minutes, depending on what side of the door you're on."  She winked and smiled.
    She turned to the table, where Danny Fenton was still sleeping.  She undid the shackles that held him down on the table.
    "So...  Are you sure that's a good idea, Coz?" asked Epoch as he watched.
    "It'll be fine," replied the female ghost.  She leaned over her captive and said, "Wake up, Danny."
    Unfocused sky blue eyes opened and turned towards her.  The he promptly slid off the slanted table into a heap on the floor.
    Epoch snorted.  "Ha!"
    "Stand up, Danny," she said.
    Silently, the human boy stood up.  He looked straight ahead unblinking.
    Deadline looked at him critically.  The only visual physical difference between Danny Fenton and Danny Phantom was the colouration.  But she felt he looked way too mundane as a human.
    "Transform, Danny," she said to him.
    Danny tilted his head, as if trying to understand.
    Deadline tried again.  "Change, Danny," she said.
    His head tilted the other way.
    Epoch snickered.  "Now what are you gonna do?" he asked.
    "Shut up.  I'm trying to think."  Deadline crossed her arms and tilted her head as she looked at her human.  Then she smiled.  "I got it.  Danny," she said.  "Go 'Ghost'."
    Danny nodded emphatically.  A ring of glowing energy formed around his waist and divided, changing him from human to ghost.  Brilliant green eyes remained unfocused.
    Deadline walk around him as he continued to stare straight forward.  She had to admit it to herself, the half-human was kinda cute.  The biggest visual difference between Danny Phantom and other ghosts was his complexion.  His face had a rosy hue that other ghosts, including herself did not have.  Everyone else had a complexion so pale, it verged on being pale green or pale blue.  She shook herself to her senses.  Yeah, he was kinda cute, but she needed him to be more than that.  And the food was going to spoil soon in the Study Room.
    "Danny, listen," she said and he turned towards her.  She handed him a list.  "This is your training schedule.  Can you read it?"
    "Yes," he said.
    "Good."  She turned him towards the glowing door.  "You must follow the schedule exactly.  Do you understand?"
    "Yes," replied Danny in a monotone voice.  "I must follow the schedule exactly."
    "Good boy."  She winked at her cousin.  She walked over to the door and open it.  "I will be coming to visit in about three months.  I will bring another training schedule.  You will begin training as soon as you go in.  Got it?"
    Danny nodded and walked into the Study Room.  "I will begin training at once," he said.
    The door closed behind him.
    Epoch grinned at his cousin's easy handling of their prisoner.  "Cool," he said.  "So now we get to sit back and relax, right?"
    "Nope," she replied, already walking towards a pile of boxes.  "We got fifteen minutes to get the next supply of food ready for him."
    "We..?" asked the punk boy ghost.  "You mean we gotta haul this stuff?"
    "Yes, we do," replied Deadline as she hoisted a box.  "So let's get busy."
    Epoch deflated as he looked at the pile.  "Man..."

    "So how are we gonna find him?" asked Tucker as he steered the Spectre Speeder through the Ghost Zone.
    "Well, we can try the Fenton Radar," suggested Sam as she flicked it on.
    The device beeped to life.  Then, "Real World item detected," announced the device.  What looked like a human silhouette appeared on the screen.
    "He must have gone human," she ventured.
    The image was there for a few moments, then vanished.
    "Hey," said Tucker.  "It's gone."
    "He must have gone Ghost again," she said.  "Just aim for the location of the last reading and we'll start looking for him there."
    "You got it."

    Sam and Tucker traveled for some time, following the traces of the last signal.  They went through areas of the Ghost Zone they have never seen before.
    "We've been lucky so far," said Tucker as he stared into the green tinted darkness.
    "What do you mean?" asked Sam.  "We haven't found Danny yet."
    "I know, but the ghosts haven't found us yet either.  And if you ask me, that IS a good thing."
    "Yeah, I guess you're riii..."  She stopped mid-sentence.  "Look over there!"  Sam pointed suddenly out the forward window.
    Tucker looked.  Sam was pointing at a large cuckoo clock.  "Now that's creepy," he commented.
    "That is also where that last signal for Danny came from," replied Sam.
    "Figures," sighed Tucker.  "I always seem to have to enter the creepy places."  He steered the Spectre Speeder towards the clock.
    "Hey," soothed Sam.  "It could be worse.  At least it's not a hospital..."
    "Watch it!" growled Tucker.  "Don't mention the 'H-word' to me.  Ever."

    Epoch watched Deadline come out of the Study Room once again.  She had just went in, not even a minute ago.  "How's the training?" he asked.
    Deadline smiled her satisfied smile.  "Much better than I hoped for.  Just a couple more trips and he should be ready to come out."  She paused for a moment.  "Oh!  That reminds me --I better get that other stuff ready.  It won't be much longer before Danny will need that."  She opened up another box and brought out what appeared to be black and white cloth.
    "Um."  Epoch tilted his head to the side, even as he placed his hands on his hips.  "What are you doing?"
    "Don't you worry about me," she said.  Just keep your eyes on the time and let me know when it's time for another food run."
    "Right, right..."  Epoch walked away, muttering.  Two more trips, he thought to himself.  Just another half hour to go...  Man!  He can't wait!

    Jazz was worried.  Sam and Tucker had been gone for about two and a half hours.  And still she cannot hear the sound of the Spectre Speeder returning to the basement lab.  "I hope everything is all right," she said to herself.  "But just in case," she muttered as she descended into the lab to look for something.

    The Spectre Speeder was tied to the bottom lattice work of the clock, but Tucker and Sam were inside, creeping down a dimly lit hall.  Glowing gears lined the walls, and they whirred gently and ticked softly.  Despite how small the outside looked, the inside of the clock contained many halls and resembled a maze.
    "This place is getting on my nerves," grumbled Sam.  "How long have we been walking around here anyway."
    Tucker pulled back his sleeve and looked at his watch.  "Little more than two hours," he said.
    "And it took us about an hour to get here," said the Goth girl.
    "So that makes it more than three hours," summed up the Geek boy.
    "Well we better hurry," muttered Sam.  "That Deadline girl worries me, and all these gears remind of something."
    "Like what?" asked Tucker.
    "That's just it, I can't remember."
    They crept down the hall a few feet more.  They heard a shout.
    "Hey.  Did you hear that?" asked Sam.
    "Yeah.  I wonder what that was."

    "I did it!" shouted Deadline with delight.  "He's perfect!"
    Epoch grinned at his cousin's delight.  And he had to agree, she did accomplish something remarkable with the half-human freak.  He looked at the sinister hooded figure.  "Yeah, but will he listen to us?" he asked.
    "He'll listen to me," confirmed Deadline.
    "How about you let him show us what he can do?" he asked.  "I'd love to see what Amity Park's former favourite hero can do."
    "Not yet!" exclaimed the female ghost.  "He'll tear apart my home!  Just wait for his friends to come and rescue him.  They shouldn't be much longer."
    "They're coming?" asked Epoch.
    "Of course they are," snorted his cousin.  "They are his friends.  Of course they will come."
    "And you're not worried?"
    "Not really.  I planned for this possibility."
    "Then why don't he and I go give the dumb humans a welcome party?" grinned Epoch as his nunchucks appeared in his hands.
    "Just don't go breaking any of my stuff," said the ghost girl reluctantly.
    "Yeah, sure, whatever...  C'mon Freak-boy," said the ghost punk.
    The hooded figure turned to his master for a moment.  Deadline waved her hand in a shooing motion.  "Listen to Epoch for now, Danny," she said.  "Show your friends a greeting like you've trained for."  The covered head nodded and followed after the other ghost.
    But the two didn't even get a chance to leave the room when the two human teens stumbled through the side doorway.

    Sam and Tucker stumbled through the doorway into another glowing gear lined room.  They immediately spotted Deadline and Epoch as well as a tall cloaked figure.  Sam pulled out the Fenton Thermos and Tucker uncapped the Laser Lipstick.
    "Where is Danny?!?" shouted Sam as Tucker covered their approach by aiming the lipstick at all opponents.
    "He's around," replied Deadline.
    "But you're gonna be too busy to go look for him," smirked Epoch as he started swinging his nunchucks.  "Let's get them!" he shouted to the hooded figure.  The two of them approached.
    Sam watched as the hooded figure approached.  She uncapped the Fenton Thermos, only to have it smacked out of her hands by a white glove.  She looked up into the hooded face.  She was unable to see the shadowed features but saw green glowing eyes staring sinisterly at her.  She brought out the Jack-o-nine-tails anti-ghost whip.  She snapped it towards her opponent, who caught it and yanked it out of her grasp.
    "Tucker!" she cried.  "A little help here?!?"  She backed away some more, then turned around and ran.
    "Hang on," called Tucker as he desperately and finally zapped the nunchucks out of Epoch's hands.  "Ha!" he cried.
    "Owww..." moaned Epoch as he shook his stinging hand.  "Who said you could cheat?"
    "Who said there were rules?" asked Tucker as he ran after Sam and her pursuer.
    "Hurry!" called Sam, still running.
    Tucker made a leap for the cloaked figure and was able to grab a hold of the cloak itself, just as the figure managed to grab Sam's wrist.
    "Tucker!" called Sam again.
    "I can't believe I'm doing this," grunted Tucker as he yanked on the white cloak of the menacing ghost in an attempt to get it to let his friend go.
    There was a snap as a clasp came undone and the long white cloak came off.  Distracted, the menacing ghost let go of the girl's arm in a vain attempt to grab the cloak.  Tucker landed on his backside and a pile of white fabric landed at his feet.  He stumbled to his feet.  He looked up at Sam and the pursuing ghost.
    "Whoa!" yelped the boy.  "No way..."
    "Huh?" asked Sam as she turned around.  "Omigosh..." she said just as Tucker came to join her.
    She found herself looking at the familiar face of the friend she and Tucker came to save.  She recognized the white hair and brilliant green eyes of Danny Phantom.  But she did not expect to see this...  This was not the lanky fourteen year old boy she started high-school with, but a tall muscular seventeen-year-old.
    What in the world has happened to him? her thoughts screamed out at her.
    Nor was he acting like the Danny she knew.  His eyes were blank and glowing, as if he was under someone's control.  Sam didn't know what to do.  She and Tucker backed up quickly while Danny pursued them.
    "We've got to do something," yelled Tucker.
    "Like what?" countered Sam, still backing away.
    "Danny!" shouted Tucker.  "Wake up!"
    Their friend turned enemy paused.  He blinked for a moment.
    "Nuh-uh-uh," said Deadline wagging a finger at them.  "He's under my spell and there's no way you're going to break it."
    "You hear that?" Sam asked Tucker.  "It's a spell.  We have to figure out a way to break the spell."
    "Like what?" asked Tucker.
    "Well, I can think of one way," said Sam, "but it's gonna be risky.  Cover me and distract her."
    "Okay..." the boy swallowed heavily.
    Sam nodded.  "I'm going in."
    She ran off towards Danny.
    "Hmm..." mused Tucker.  "I have to distract her somehow...  But how?"
    Suddenly, an idea came to him.  Tucker cleared his throat and applied a bit of breath spray.  He turned to the ghost who held his buddy in thrall.  "So, what's a nice ghost like you doing in an evil place like this?"
    "Excuse me?"  Deadline turned to him, startled.
    "I mean that because you're so cute and all that I can't see you doing all this bad stuff --especially to my buddy, Danny."
    "Are you trying to distract me?" she asked incredulously.
    "Well yeah."  He scratched self-consciously at the back of his neck.  "Is it working yet?"
    Disbelief quickly turned to anger.  "No, it's not!" yelled the ghost girl.  "Danny!" she commanded.  "Get them!"
    But it was too late.  Sam was already too close.  She leapt up, grabbed Danny's head and kissed him.
    Everything in the Ghost Zone was still for a moment.  Everyone else held their breath.
    The green blank look left his eyes and he stared at Sam in wonderment.  "Sam?" he asked in a voice much deeper than it should be.  "What's going on?"
    Sam backed up and she was grabbed by Deadline.
    "What did you do?" hissed the female ghost.
    "I broke your little spell," said Sam.
    Tucker ran up to join them.
    "How did you know that will work?" whispered Tucker to Sam.
    "All those fairy tales can't all be wrong --and in 'em, it takes a kiss to break the evil spell."
    "You mean it was a lucky guess?"
    "Yeah, it was a lucky guess."
    The older Danny looked around him.  He looked at Sam, Tucker and Deadline.  "Where am I?"  He rubbed at his eyes with a forearm, then froze and stared at his hands.  He turned them slowly staring at the backs, then staring at the palms.  He examined himself fully and Sam watched nervously.
    "Danny?" she asked, cautiously raising a finger.
    Deadline crossed her arms and smiled.
    "What have you done to me?!?" he cried out in terror.
    "You got to admit, he does look good, right?" asked Deadline with what sounded like pride in her voice.
    "Um." Sam didn't know what to say.  Danny was taller, wider in the shoulders and looked like he did a lot of exercise in his three missing years.  He was wearing a sleeveless jumper based on his original costume, but the collar was black and there was a black band around the cuff of his white gloves.  The Phantom D symbol, that Sam was still secretly proud of emblazoned the chest of Danny's new costume.  His hair, which had grown out, was pulled back into a ponytail.  If Sam hadn't been so shocked at the moment, she would have easily admitted that Danny was not hard on a girl's eyes at all.
    "Why am I like this?" Danny asked with panic in his voice.
    "You spent three hours --or three years, in my Study Room," replied Deadline.  "You were training."  She walked to a table and picked up a clipboard.  "And it looks like everything is right on schedule."
    "Schedule?" Sam started to ask.  But she was distracted by a moan.
    Danny fell to his knees, clutching his head.  "Why don't I remember?"
    "She had you under a spell," said Tucker.
    "The last thing I remember is being kissed by Deadline," said Danny who suddenly looked down and blushed.
    Sam walked over and knelt down beside him.  "That's not your fault.  It's probably was how she put the spell on you."
    Danny stood back up, still holding his forehead.  "Yeah, I know..."  He jumped up and stomped over to Deadline, who looked at him amused.  "You have to change me back!" he shouted at her.
    Deadline looked startled.  "Change you back?!?  But why?" she asked with honest confusion.
    Danny paused.  Why?  Because something about his body wasn't quite right.  Because of how he was looking down on his best friends.  Because...
    "It doesn't matter anyhow," cried Epoch as he reached for his nunchucks.  "You're working for us!"  He started charging at Danny, swinging the weapons high over his head.  "C'mon Coz!  Do your voodoo and bring the freak back under control!"
    "No!" shouted Danny and he let loose with a short but powerful burst of ecto-energy.  It knocked the punk ghost off his feet and threw him to the far side of the wall into the glowing gears, some of which cracked under the force.  He slid to the floor.  The half-human then fired of an ice beam, freezing his dazed opponent to the floor.
    Deadline grabbed the tiny glowing bottle with Desiree's potion.  "Danny!  Wait!" she shouted and started to run towards him.
    "Forget it!" snarled Danny and he sealed off the whole side of the room with a wall of thick ice.
    Tucker and Sam looked at each other, then at awe at Danny.  He managed to fight and contain two ghosts in less than twenty seconds.  But they didn't have time to dwell on it as Danny grabbed their wrists and flew out of the room.
    "We are getting out of here," Danny told his friends firmly.

    From their respective icy prisons, the two ghosts looked at each other.
    "He's gone, Coz," commented Epoch to his cousin.  "Now what?"
    Deadline just smiled.  "Don't worry.  He'll be back," replied the female ghost as she checked her clipboard.  "I planned it that way."

Chapter Two

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