Growing Pains
A 'Danny Phantom' Fanfic
By Niki 'NeeP' Paradis

Chapter Two: Growing Up is Hard!

    The Spectre Speeder entered the basement lab through the Fenton Portal.  The side door opened and the three friends came out.  Danny Phantom, now taller than his friends, had to duck to avoid banging his head on the way out.
    "Did you see how he took out those two ghosts?!?" exclaimed Tucker excitedly.  He turned to Danny.  "I have never seen you move so fast."
    "Must have been because of the training," sighed Danny.  "I've had three years worth that I can't even remember."
    "It must have been intensive," commented Sam.  "You look like you're in great shape."
    Danny flexed for a moment and looked at his arms.  "Whoa!  I got muscles."
    "And then some," agreed Tucker.
    "But we gotta get you back to normal," said Sam.
    "I suppose so," said Danny reluctantly.
    "And before your parents come home," she finished.
    Danny nodded.  "I know," he said.  "But before we figure out how to do that, I want to see what kind of changes I went through.  Then we can figure how to make me normal again."
    Sam and Tucker looked at each other.
    "Can't hurt," said the techno-geek.
    "Fine," replied Sam.
    Danny concentrated for a moment and became human.  Tucker and Sam started laughing.
    "What's so funny?" he asked.
    "I think Deadline forgot something," said Sam as she smothered a laugh.
    "What to you mean?" asked the older teen.  He suddenly became aware that the clothing he was wearing was uncomfortably tight.  He looked down and realised he was wearing the same thing he did before Epoch and Deadline kidnapped him.  "Yow!  That's not right.  I wonder why she only gave me a new costume and not regular clothes."  He noticed his shoelace was untied and bent down to tie it.  There was a ripping noise behind him and Sam's and Tucker's laughter began anew.  Danny's face went red as his friends held onto each other to keep from falling over.
    When she was able to speak again, Sam suggested that they look for clothes that would fit his human form.  Danny, red faced, nodded, shifted back to his Phantom form and grabbed his two friends and phased through the ceiling up towards his parent's bedroom.

    Danny Phantom paused for a moment in front of the bedroom mirror.  "Wow," he said as he examined himself fully.  "It must've been some training program, I look 'buff'."  He quickly flexed and posed, trying not to feel too proud of his new appearance.
    "I wouldn't be surprised if that's all you did while under Deadline's spell," commented Sam.
    "That would suck," said Tucker.  "Doin' nothing but eat, sleep and train.  In my opinion, you're better off not remembering..."
    "Yeah, I suppose so," Danny replied as he turned away from the mirror to assist his friends.
    They were looking through the closets and drawers of Mr. and Mrs. Fenton.
    "Don't your parents wear anything else besides jumpsuits?" asked Tucker as he put away another orange hazmat suit.
    "Well, there's the clothes they wear when they go camping," suggested Danny.  Sam found some of the aforementioned clothes belonging to his father.  He shifted to human and tried them on.
    "And they don't fit you at all," said Sam.
    Danny stood still, feeling very foolish.  His dad's pants were around his ankles and the flannel shirt was sliding off of one shoulder.
    "Please, no more," chuckled Tucker weakly.  "It hurts to laugh..."
    In a vain effort to recover some dignity, Danny pulled the shirt back up over his shoulder.  It slipped down again.
    "I think we're gonna have to ask for Jazz's help with this," said Sam.

    Jasmine Fenton was doing homework on the kitchen table.  She wanted to finish her extra credit report on the study of the effects of constant contact with ghosts could affect family life.  She wondered occasionally if she was too close to the subject she was writing about.
    "Jazz?" came Danny's voice out of nowhere.
    The teenage girl frowned for a moment.  Something sounded a bit off in Danny's voice.  Discreetly, she reached down for her schoolbag.
    "Danny?  Is that you?" she asked.  "Why are you invisible?"  She looked around the brightly lit kitchen, trying to find some other evidence of her younger brother.
    "I need your help, but I don't want you to freak out..." he said hesitantly.
    Jazz pulled her bag onto her lap and reached inside.  "Why would I freak out?" she asked almost casually.
    "Well," said the disembodied voice.  "I guess I will just hafta show you."
    A figure faded into view.  And Jazz bit back a yelp.  It was Danny, well, she was pretty certain it was Danny, but this is not her younger brother but someone a little older than she was.  She frowned.  There was only one other time that she could remember when she met a Danny older than she was...
    That was not a pleasant experience.
    She stood up and aimed the Fenton Peeler towards the older Danny in front of her.  No evil older Danny Phantom was ever gonna catch her off guard again.
    "Jazz!" yelped her (possible) brother.  "Wait!"
    "You better tell me you're not evil!" she demanded as the crazy anti-ghost device shook in her hand and started to glow.  "Tell me!" she shouted again.
    "Jazz!  Wait!" cried out the older Danny as he covered his head with his arms.  "I'm not evil!  I'm NOT evil!"
    Jazz glared at him, not quite sure if she believed him. The other older Danny Phantom was a good actor too.
    "Jazz!  Stop!" shouted Sam as she and Tucker ran into the kitchen.
    "That's our Danny!" yelled the geeky teen.
    "He's NOT evil!" they shouted together.
    The Fenton Peeler wavered for a moment.  "Are you sure?" asked the teen holding it.
    "YES!" shouted all the others in unison.
    Danny put down his arms.  "I'm just a bit... Older..." he said lamely.

    Jack and Maddie Fenton were having the time of their lives.  Both carried bags full of gadgets and products.  They have just left a lecture about dealing with troubled teen-age ghosts.  Jack was yawning, and Maddie was thoughtful.
    "You know, I think Jazz would have found that lecture enjoyable," she said.  "It seems to be along the lines of what she is studying."
    "I dunno," yawned Jack.  "I can't see a lecture like that as practical.  I mean, we don't have any teenage ghosts in our family at all.  So, what's the point?"
    "You may be right, but I kinda wish we didn't have to leave Jazz home with Danny.  But he's not quite old enough to be left on his own yet."
    "I wouldn't worry.  Kids grow up so fast these days.  Before you know it, we won't be able to recognise him."

    The four teenagers were now in Danny's room.  Jazz shook her head in disbelief as the others told her the story of what happened.
    "If I was not looking at you right now," she commented, "I would definitely be having trouble believing this."
    "He doesn't look like a kid anymore," said Tucker.
    "No kidding.  I have trouble recognising myself," muttered Danny as he sat on his bed and stared at his hands.
    "I dunno, Little --I mean 'Big' Brother," grinned Jazz.  "I think you're easy to recognise.  You still have your baby face.  It's just the rest of you have grown."  She held out a measuring tape.  "Let's just see how much."  She handed a note pad to Sam.
    "Um, what are you doing?" asked Danny as he stood up again.
    "Measuring you," replied his sister.  "Sam, write this down..."  She started to recite numbers.  "Chest, forty-eight inches.  Shoulders, twenty-six.  Height, um, five foot, nine..."
    "Why did you start by measuring his chest," asked Tucker.  "Aren't you supposed to start with the height?"
    "I'm doing it for Sam, of course," replied Jazz as she wrapped the tape measure around her brother's waist, arm and thigh.  She recited more measurements.
    Sam blushed as she wrote, but she was grinning.
    "It's not a custom suit that I'm expecting," growled Danny.
    "I know," replied his sister.  "But I want to take measurements anyway.  "I would like to keep track of how much you've grown."
    Sam pulled her trusty camera out of her pocket and took a few quick pictures of the distracted half-ghost.  "She can put them in her scrap book, along with these pictures."
    "I still find it hard to believe --that someone can age three years in about three hours.  It's just not normal."  Jazz put the tape measure away.  She left Danny's room for a moment, and came back with a bundle of clothes.  "Here," she said as she handed the clothes to him.  "These should fit."
    "Um.  Thanks."
    "How did you get the clothes already?" asked Tucker.  "We just explained the story and you just took the measurements."
    Jazz smile and blushed as she headed to the door of the room.  "I got them a while back.  They were going to be a Christmas gift.  I bought them at a sale and I figured that Danny would fit into them, eventually."
    The others looked at each other and shrugged.
    "You know something," said Tucker, "you're really weird."
    "So speaks the techno-geek who hangs out with the half ghost and the Goth girl," retorted Danny's older sister.
    "We'll leave so you can get dressed," said Sam to Danny as she grabbed Tucker by his elbow and dragged him out of the room.
    And the door closed.
    Danny looked at the door for a few moments.  He sat back down on his bed and examined the clothes.  He groaned.  "They're exactly the same..."  Except for the size, and the fact the shirt had no sleeves, the clothing were almost the same style he always wore as a human.  "Well," he sighed and smiled.  "At least I know I should be comfortable in them."  He shifted from Phantom to Fenton and proceeded to change.

    "So you're sure he'll come back, right, Coz?" asked Epoch as he leaned back in the chair.  The two of them have been cleaning up the melted water from Danny's ice attack, but had decided to take a break.
    "He'll have no choice but to come back," replied Deadline as she inventoried the components to their scheme.  Besides Skulker's gun and Desiree's potion, there was a containment box from the Box Ghost and a strange electronic device from Technus.  "Who else is going to undo what I have done to him?"
    The boy ghost sat up.  "Can you change him back?"
    Deadline put down the clipboard and looked over her shoulder to her cousin.  "Actually, no, I can't."
    Epoch started to chuckle.  "But the freak doesn't need to know that."
    The girl ghost smiled.

    Because their parents were out, Jazz had ordered pizza.  Tucker and Sam had permission to stay over for dinner.
    They sat around the table with four pizza boxes.  Jazz handed out the plates.
    "So tomorrow, we have to find a way to change you back," said Sam as she started into a slice of the vegetarian special.
    "I suppose so," replied Danny Fenton as he reached for a couple of slices of the guacamole and sausage pizza.  "But I find this body kinda cool."  He finished each slice in a couple of bites.
    "Yeah?" asked Tucker.  "But how cool do you think it'll be to explain your new bod to your parents?"  He was already on his fourth slice of Meat Passion pizza.
    "Mom and Dad will completely freak out," said Jazz as she took another slice of her Hawaiian special.  "Then you would have to explain to them just how you became three years older.  You will not be able to keep your secret from them then, Danny."
    Danny swallowed his eighth and last slice of pizza and stood up and walked to the fridge.  "Don't get me wrong, I know that you're right.  But I just want to have some fun with this stronger body of mine before I have to give it up."  He opened the door and pulled out a large salad, apples and some leftover chicken.  "There can't be any harm in that, is there?"
    The others stared as the extra food was put on the table.  "Dude," exclaimed Tucker.  "You just ate an entire large guacamole and sausage pizza.  You can't possibly still be hungry?!?"
    Danny had already finished the leftover chicken and was halfway through the salad when he stopped and noticed the amount he was eating.  "Weird," he said, "but I am."  He continued shoving food into his mouth.
    "It must have been the way you were trained," commented Sam as she watched the food disappear down the Fenton Black Hole.
    "Maybe," conceded Danny.  He then belched.  Jazz and Sam turned away in disgust.  Tucker cheered.
    "Impressive," he commented.
    "Thanks," smirked Danny.
    Jazz leaned over to Sam.  "Remember, it's just his body that matured," she said.  "The rest of him is still a little boy."
    "Yeah," agreed the Goth girl.  "I can see that."  She looked up at the kitchen clock.  It was 10:30.  "Wow, it's getting late, I really have to get going."
    "Me too," agreed Tucker.
    "I'm gonna walk them home and be right back," said Danny as he put the dishes into the sink.

    "See you tomorrow, Danny," said Tucker as he went inside.
    "See you," Danny called back and the door to the Foley household closed.  Danny turned, walked away and went into a nearby alley.  He grinned to himself.  Now that he had seen both his friends home, he could take a moment to play.  He shifted from human to ghost and took to the air.
    It was a beautiful night.  The moon was nearly full and there were no clouds to block the stars.  Once he was up high enough, he went flying towards home.  But he paused for a moment.
    "I wonder how fast I can go now?" he asked himself.  He turned around and headed towards the far side of the city.  His legs merged into the more aerodynamic tail as he picked up speed.  He felt the wind stinging his eyes and heard the wind whistle in his ears.  It didn't take long at all before he reached the outskirts of the city.  He laughed out loud.  "Wow!  That was fast.  Maybe this new body of mine ain't so bad..."
    He flew back towards home, doing loop-de-loops along the way.

    Epoch wrung out the mop for the last time.  He and Deadline spent a good chunk of the afternoon mopping up the melted ice from the attack that Phantom made.  He looked towards his cousin who was watching her pet freak through her view portal.  She was smiling in an infatuated way.
    "Maybe this new body of mine ain't so bad..." he heard the half human freak say.
    "I'm so glad he likes it," said Epoch sarcastically.  "We spent a lot of time making him that way."
    "Relax," said Deadline, as she turned away from her portal.  "He'll be back here tomorrow."
    Epoch shook his head in amazement.  "How do you know?" he asked.
    "He's going to find his new body is not as good as he thinks.  He'll be experiencing problems soon and he will be back, asking for help.  He will have to realise that what has happened to him comes at a price."
    The punk ghost grunted.  He picked up the bucket and mop and left the room.

    Danny woke up.  He stretched and propped himself up on his elbows.  The bed seemed smaller to him.  His hair fell into his eyes and he pushed back the snow-white strands with a gloved hand.
    "Huh?" he asked himself.  He pulled back the bed sheets and stared at the toes of his white boots.  "Weird," he mumbled.  "I slept as a ghost instead of changing back to human."  He placed his feet on the floor.  "Or did I change from human to ghost while I was sleeping?"  He was pretty sure he went to bed as a human --he always went to bed as a human.  Even if he was able to maintain his ghost form while unconscious, he would have remained human in case his parents were to check up on him.
    He stood up and was a little dizzy as he looked down to the floor from a different height than he was used to.  He stumbled to his dresser and mirror and gasped at the tall white-haired teen in his reflection.
"Right," he mumbled to himself.  "I'm older now."  He leaned on the dresser and touched his face.  "This is still very weird."  He concentrated and shifted to human form.  He looked at the dark-haired, blue-eyed teen who was much bigger than the fourteen year old he was yesterday morning.  He grinned.  "You're lookin' good, Fenton."
    "Are you talking to yourself again?" asked Jazz from the open bedroom door.  Danny spun around to face his sister and blushed.  "You know you can't keep that body," she told him.  "So don't get used to it."
    Danny scowled.  "Yeah, I know.  If we can find a way to change me back, that is."
    "Well," sighed Jazz.  "Breakfast is almost ready.  I hope you like oatmeal --I made a lot of it."
    Danny wanted to protest.  Usually, he would hate oatmeal.  But then his stomach grumbled loudly.  He blushed even redder and Jazz grinned.
    "Oatmeal sounds good," he said at last.  "I'll be down after I wash up."
    "See you at the table, Big Brother," said Jazz as she walked away.

    Danny came into the kitchen.  There was a large pot steaming on the stove and a jug of milk on the table, as well as a bowl of fruit and many slices of toast.
    Jazz was already eating.  She paused and pointed a spoon towards the pot.
    "The oatmeal's in there," she said.  "Help yourself."
    "Okay..."  Danny picked up a bowl from the counter, and filled it up with oatmeal.  He took it to the table and sat down.  He looked at all the other food.  "What's with this?" he asked as he gestured at everything on the table.  He didn't wait for her reply before he started eating.
    His sister swallowed before replying.  "Well, it's just a hypothesis, but judging on how much you ate last night, I figure you will eat at least all this and what is in the pot."
    Danny looked at his now emptied bowl.  "Oh," he replied.
    "So eat up," she said, "then go find a way to change yourself back or at the very least, to find a way to keep yourself from eating us out of house and home."

    It was late morning.  Danny walked out of the Fenton Works building and saw that Tucker was already having his share of problems that day.
    Tucker Foley had run into Dash.
    Holding the smaller teen by the collar of his shirt, Dash was about to give him a close-up of his fist.
    "C'mon Foley," taunted the bully.  "I just wanna know where Fenton is."
    "Have you tried knocking on the door?" asked Tucker.  "Dude, we're right in front of his house."
    Neither Tucker nor Dash noticed Danny coming behind them.  Danny was fighting to keep from laughing.  He was bigger than Dash!  This was going to be great!
    "I'd rather knock on you than the door," growled Dash as he pulled his fist back.  But he couldn't bring it forward.  It was being held in a firm grip.
    "That's enough, Dash," said a low yet familiar voice behind him.
    Dash turned his head just far enough to see the dark hair and the blue eyes of a familiar face.  A face that appeared to be on a body much larger and stronger than Dash was certain it should be.
    "Fenton?" Dash gasped in disbelief.
    The much larger Danny Fenton grinned at him.  "Why you want to hit my widdle fwiend?" he asked.
    Tucker chuckled at his friend's comment.
    "Um," gasped Dash as he was at a complete loss.  His grip on Tucker's shirt loosened and the shorter teen had his feet on the ground once again.
    Once Tucker had straightened out his shirt, he looked towards the bully with a smirk on his face.  "So, Danny?" he asked.  "How do you want to get even with Dash?  All at once or in a slow and painful manner?"
    Danny pretended to be deep in thought.  He still had Dash's fist held in his hand.  "That's a tough one," he said.  "There are so many options available, it's kinda hard to decide..."
    Dash's eyes opened wide in horror.  "No way, man!"  He yanked his fist out of Danny's grip and ran down the street screaming.
    Danny and Tucker watched as their usual nemesis ran off.  They looked at each other then started to laugh.
    Sam walked up to the boys and watched for a moment as the boys were being boys.
    "Very funny, you two," she said.
    "Oh come on, Sam," gasped Tucker.  "You can't say he didn't deserve it."
    "You should've seen his face!" snorted Danny.
    "And that will be worth all the future pain you will encounter afterwards, right?"
    Danny blinked.  "Um," he said.
    "Erg," said Tucker.  "That's one way to think of it."
    "Besides, we have work to do."
    "Right," said the boys in unison.
    The three of them began walking.
    "So how do we begin figuring out how to get Danny back to normal?" asked Tucker.
    "We could go back to those two ghosts and somehow get them to change Danny back," suggested Sam.
    "Forget it," grumbled Danny.  "The first thing Deadline would do is try to bring me back under her control.  I don't want to get close to her."
    "Um, right."  Sam remembered Danny saying the female ghost kissed him.  Not that she was jealous, she reminded herself.
    They crossed the street.
    "So what else have we got?"
    "Um..." Danny started and a wisp of ghost breath escaped his lips.  "We will have to figure this out later."
    A bolt of green energy hit the concrete just between Sam and Tucker.  They jumped back in surprise.  They all looked up to see Skulker bearing down on them.
    "Where are you, whelp?' called out Skulker, not quite recognising the tall human.
    Danny quickly looked around, crouched down behind his friends and shifted to his other form.  He leaped up over Sam and Tucker and raced towards his adversary.
    "Looking for me?" he asked as he faced the hunter ghost.
    "Danny Phantom?" asked Skulker incredulously, using Danny's name for one of the rare times.
    "Who were you expecting?" asked Danny.  "The Box Ghost?"
    Skulker goggled for a few moments longer then smiled.  "Well.  I'll be...  You look stronger --more worthy a prize..."
    "Why, thank you," replied the half-ghost with mock modesty.  He fired off several ecto-blasts in quick succession, using his index fingers like the guns of a sharp shooter.  Several of Skulker's mounted weapons crumbled to dust and ashes.  "But you forgot to mention that I'm much more a difficult prize to catch..."
    But Skulker wasn't at the end of his arsenal.  He brought out one of his big guns. "Perhaps you have gotten better," he said.  "But I still have more experience," he fired off more blasts towards Danny.  They were dodged easily.  The ecto-energy hit the nearby brick wall, leaving black scorch marks on the side of the Fenton Works building.
    "Hey!" shouted Danny.  "You realise that I'm gonna hafta clean that up later, right?!?"  He retaliated and fired back at the hunter ghost. Skulker tried to defend himself, but Danny's blasts were too quick.  Once all of Skulker's weapons were disabled, the half-ghost fired off his freeze attack, quickly encasing the ecto-skeleton in ice.
    "Gotcha!" shouted Danny victoriously.
    Skulker grinned.  "Not this time, Phantom," he smirked.  The metal suit heated to a glowing red colour, quickly melting the ice.  Soon he was free.
    Danny readied another plasma attack, knowing his enemy was out of ammunition.
    Instead of being worried, the older ghost grinned.  "So this is what that girl was working on.  I am impressed," he said.  "Once again, the thrill of the hunt is kindled within me.  You have won today, but I will come better prepared the next time.  Be on your guard."
    "Get out of here already," growled Danny as he let the ecto-blast go.
    Skulker yelped and departed.
    By now, they have reached the park.
    Danny dove into some nearby bushes and came out as a human.
    The resumed walking.  It was a nice day.  The sun was shining, and not far off, the sound of a pickup softball game could be heard.
    "If it wasn't for the fact my parents would find out my secret and try to dissect me, I would love to keep this body," said Danny.
    "But what about the last great years of youth?" asked Tucker.  "You're three years closer to being a responsible adult.  That's three years of serious video game time lost."
    "And a three year gap between us," said Sam glumly.
    "What do you mean?" he asked.  "I'm still me.  It isn't like I am going to let anything like three measly years get in the way of me and my best friends."
    "There's also the matter of how you were trained," she continued.  "All that was trained was your ghost half --That's gonna have to cause some problems somewhere."
    "I'm not sure of that," countered Danny.  "I noticed that I have the same measurements no matter if I am ghost or human..."
    "Look out!" called a kid's voice in the distance.
    The three teens turned around, but Danny, who was still talking, turned a bit slower --Just in time to catch a softball with his forehead.
    "Danny!" cried out his friends.
    He stood stunned for a moment.  Then his eyes crossed and he fell backwards into the bushes.
    "Huhn," said Tucker looking at his unconscious friend.  "I would've thought his reflexes would have been faster."
    "Except that Danny's human half never trained like his ghost half did."  Sam looked thoughtful as she bent down to check on him.  "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if..."
    She stopped talking as a flash of light appeared at Danny's waist, and he was transformed from Danny Fenton to Danny Phantom.  He groaned and sat up.
    "Dude!" exclaimed Tucker in a hushed voice.  "You went Ghost!"
    The half ghost was rubbing his head.  "What?" he mumbled.
    "You changed from human to ghost when you lost consciousness," explained Sam.
    Danny looked down at his costume.  "Whoa!"
    There was a yell behind them.  "Hey!  You okay?"  A kid of twelve came running up to them.
    Danny had no time to shift back, so he sank into the ground and out of sight.
    The boy ran up.  "Is everybody okay?" he asked breathlessly.  "Did I hit anyone?  I thought there was someone else..."  He looked around for the missing third person.
    "He's fine," lied Tucker.  "He had somewhere else he had to be."
    Sam picked up the baseball and handed it to the younger boy.  "Here."
    "Thanks," said the boy with relief.  He ran off to rejoin his friends at the game.

    Sam and Tucker crossed the street from the park and entered a nearby alley.  Danny faded into view.
    "That was weird," he said as he rubbed his forehead. The lump was still a fair size.  "I should have stayed human."
    "Yeah," agreed Tucker.  "Usually you would change from ghost to human when you're knocked out --not the other way around."
    "I know.  And this morning, I woke up as a ghost  --And I'm pretty sure I was human when I went to bed last night."
    "It must be because of the training," said Sam.  "Since it was only your ghost half that was trained, it's stronger than your human half.  It's now your dominant form."
    "No way," argued Danny as he shifted to his human form.
    Both Tucker and Sam gasped.  Danny looked down at them.
    "What?!?" he asked.  He looked down at his sneakers, jeans, and shirt.  They looked fine.
    Both of the younger teens pointed up at his head.  Danny felt at his face, and pulled down some of his hair to examine it.
    It was still white.

    "How much longer do we hafta wait?" complained Epoch.  He was working the kinks out of the chains of his weapons.  "I know you like to watch your pet freak playing around, but I want to see him doing the stuff we had him trained for."
    "Relax," said Deadline.  "He should be heading into the Ghost Zone any minute.  You will need to intercept him and bring him here."
    The punk ghost's eyes opened wide in shock.  "Hold it!" he cried out.  "Me?!?  You want me to intercept him?"
    "I said, 'relax'.  You wanted my help because I'm the best at making plans.  So, trust me."  The female ghost walked back to the table and picked up the Box Ghost's containment box and the Technus' small odd device.  She placed them in her cousin's hands.  "Use these and you'll be fine."
    "What are these things?" Epoch asked.
    "The box is a containment unit, made for the specific task of containing Real World objects.  The device from Technus is a power enhancer.  Put the two together and you would have a device capable of capturing and containing Real World items and humans.  Much like the thermos that Danny uses on ghosts."
    "Sweet," breathed the boy ghost.  Then he looked up.  "But he's gonna be a ghost --this won't work on him."
    Deadline took the items from her cousin and put them together.  "True, it won't on Danny, but it will work on his friends..."
    Epoch laughed.  "And that goody-goody freak would hafta do whatever I say to keep his friends safe."  Epoch laughed.  "Coz, you are a freakin' genius!"
    "Of course.  That's why you wanted me to work with you."  She smiled.  She handed the box back.  "You better get going.  It shouldn't be much longer before he enters from his portal."
    "Do you know where's he gonna go?" asked the punk ghost.
    "Of course," replied Deadline.  She gestured to her view portal which shimmered then displayed a certain part of the ghost zone.  "He is going to head towards there," she said as she pointed.

    Danny tried again.  He concentrated and the ring of energy that always accompanies his transformations flashed again.  After the glow went away, he reached up and grabbed his now black hair.
    "See?" he asked.  "Nothing to panic about."
    "Except your eyes are still green," commented Tucker.
    Danny slapped a hand over his telltale eyes.  "Oh, for Pete's sake!" he growled.  He shifted back to his Phantom form.  He grabbed his friends' wrists and turned invisible.
    "What are you doing?" asked Sam.
    "I am going to visit the one ghost who can help me out," replied Danny.
    They took off into the air.
    "Didn't you say you wanted to avoid Deadline?" asked Tucker.
    "No, no...  I'm not going to see her," said Danny.

    They phased through the walls of Fenton Works and into the lab in the basement.  It was now late afternoon.  The portal was open and the Spectre Speeder was pointed towards it.  The engine was humming.  Jazz was cleaning up.
    "I had a feeling you would be coming," she said as she held out the assorted weaponry.
    Sam grabbed the Fenton thermos, the Jack-o-nine-tails, and jumped into the speeder.
    Tucker grabbed the lipstick.
    "Why do you always grab the lipstick?" asked Jazz.
    "I figure I'll just stick to what I know," the geeky teen replied.
    "Thanks, Jazz," said Danny.
    "Try to come back normal," she said.
    "Gee, thanks, Jazz," replied Danny sarcastically.
    Both Spectre Speeder and half-ghost entered the ghost zone.

    The Spectre Speeder and Danny were cruising through the Ghost Zone.  Both teens inside and the half-teen outside were wearing the Fenton Phone communication devices.  Doors were scattered all around as well as random spooks.  They were heading in a direction that was pointed out by Danny earlier.
    "So where are we heading?" asked Tucker through the vehicle's intercom.
    "To see Clockwork," replied Danny.
    "Clockwork, the time ghost?" echoed Tucker.
    "That makes sense," commented Sam.
    "Yeah.  Because time was manipulated to make me older, Clockwork would be the one who'd know how to change me back."
    They flew on.
    "Hey," said the geeky teen suddenly as he pointed ahead.  "There's someone ahead of us."
    They got closer.
    Epoch was waiting for them.
    "Where d'you think you're goin', freak?" taunted the ghost punk.
    Danny paused, and the Spectre Speeder pulled up beside him.  "What's it to you?" he asked.
    The punk ghost only laughed.  "Y'know, I just gotta hand it to her...  My cousin said you will be coming this way, and whaddaya know?  She was right!"
    "Go away, Epoch," snarled Danny.  "You're not getting me to help you or Deadline take over Amity Park."
    "Well, I know that you won't do it willingly," smiled the other ghost.  From behind his back, he brought out an unusual looking latched box.  "But I know how we can make you..."
    Epoch aimed the box towards the Spectre Speeder and opened it up.  A glowing violet vortex swirled out of it.  Danny watched it as it went by him harmlessly.
    "What's that?" asked the half-ghost. "A portable light show?"  Then he heard his friends cry out.  He looked beside him to see the glow surround the Spectre Speeder. It was over in a moment and he could only watch in horror as the violet glow sucked the real world vehicle like a vacuum and returned into the box.
    Epoch snapped the box closed, there was a very loud click.  "There," said the purple and black haired punk.  "Now what are you gonna do?"
    Danny was in front of the other ghost in a flash.  He grabbed Epoch's shirt with both hands and pulled him closer.  "Let my friends out of there...  Now!" he shouted.
    "Sorry," Epoch smirked.  "I don't have the key.  If you want to have your friends out, you're gonna hafta go to my cousin and get it from her."
    "Arrrgh!" cried out the half ghost.  "Fine!" he shouted into the other's face.  Using the strength his strange new body had, he grabbed the box, and with a well placed foot, kicked Epoch far enough to give him a head start towards Deadline's lair.
    Epoch managed to stop his backwards momentum and was considering pursuing the half-human freak.  He thought better of it.  He remembered Deadline telling him that she had also put her pet freak through speed training.  There was no way he could catch up.
    "Huhn," he said as Danny Phantom disappeared from sight.  "I hope she's prepared for this," he muttered.  He shook his head and shrugged.  "What am I saying?" he chuckled.  "Of course she is."

    Danny flew towards Deadline's lair.  He was furious.  He hugged the box holding his friends closer to his chest.  Grimly, he noted that as a well trained seventeen year old, he was covering the vast zone faster than as a skinny fourteen year old.  He passed by ghosts he knew, like Johnny 13 and Youngblood, but ignored them as he flew past.
    "Don't worry, guys," he said to the box.  "I'll get you out of there."  He wasn't sure if his friends heard him or not.
    Soon he came to the large cuckoo clock that was Deadline's lair.  "Why a cuckoo clock?" he muttered to himself.  "I would have thought a ghost like Deadline would have something more modern."
    He paused.  He knew he was going to be walking into a trap.  Deadline, with all her planning would definitely have something ready for him.  But what choice did he have?  He had to free Sam and Tucker.

    "Danny!" said Deadline.  "What a nice surprise!"
    "Yeah, right.  I seriously doubt anything is a surprise to you."  His tail divided into legs and he set down on the floor.
    "Well, actually, I expected Epoch to be with you and for both of you to come a little later.  But, it's not like it was totally unexpected for you to come by yourself."  She smiled.  "No one's perfect, I guess..."
    "I came like you wanted."  He held out the odd silver box.  "Now let my friends go!"
    "I will.  Promise."  She looked at him.  "But you have to understand that I can't let you go as well.  I've worked too hard to get you ready --I can't let all my work go to waste."
    "Your work?" he asked.
    "Yes.  I have created the main plans for Epoch, with many variations.  For example, if your friends did not come into the Ghost Zone with you today, I would have had Epoch go out and get them.  Or your sister if they weren't available..."
    "So you can make plans..."
    She turned away for a moment.  "I have set up the training room, stocked it with food, created your training schedule."  She continued in a low voice.  "I have made deals with Desiree, Skulker, the Box Ghost and Technus."
    She turned back, and Danny was surprised to see tears in her eyes.  "They all expect me to fail.  All of them!  Including the Box Ghost!  I will show them!" she cried.  Mascara ran down her cheeks.
    Her anger blazed around her in a red aura.  "They will not make fun of me again!"  Her hair came out of its pony tail and began to whip about her.
    Danny was at a loss.  "Look," he said.  "I will do whatever you want, just let my friends go."
    He didn't know what else to do.  What else could he say?  This was so unlike the calm cool female ghost who appeared to always be in control.  Her emotional outburst was throwing him off.  Because of this, despite his well trained reflexes, he was caught totally by surprise by a sharp blow to the back of his head.
    The aura dissipated and her hair settled and stopped moving. "I know you will," she said in a calmer voice.
    "Well done, Coz," was the last thing Danny heard before losing consciousness.

    When he came to, Danny found himself chained to the examination table in the same room he was in before he was put under the spell by Deadline.  He blinked away the grogginess and focused on the female ghost and her cousin standing at the foot of the table.  She had cleaned up and appeared to have herself in control once again.  She was holding the box that was keeping Sam and Tucker prisoner.
    "Hey, your freak's awake," said the male ghost.
    "Oh," replied the female ghost distractedly.
    Danny was surprised to see what happened next.
    Epoch drew Deadline aside and provided her with a handkerchief.
    "Hey.  Don't let those jerks upset you," he said soothingly to his cousin.  "I know you are waaay smarter than they are, and soon they will know it too."  He patted her on the shoulder.
    Deadline took a deep breath.  "Don't worry," she replied.  "I'll be fine."  Despite the calm on her face, her voice cracked just a little bit.
    "Are you sure?"
    "Yeah," she insisted.  "I'm sure."
    "Cool," replied the punk ghost.  "Now you can get your freak ready to do his thing."  He looked at Danny for a moment and shrugged.  "Just do what she says, freak," he said to him. "Or else."  He left the room and went down the hallway.
    Danny tested the manacles and chains around his wrists.
    "Good morning, Danny," she said.  "You've been unconscious all night."
    "All night?" he asked incredulously.
    "That's right," Deadline replied.  "Epoch must have hit you harder than I would have thought him capable."
    The half-ghost shook his head to clear it.  "Why are you helping him?" he asked her.  "You're obviously very smart, so why are you doing what he says?"
    The calm expression she wore slipped and Danny saw something very familiar.  Her face reminded him of how he felt on the days knowing that Dash, Kwan and the other bullies were waiting to pound on him.
    She took a deep breath before replying.  "Say what you want about Epoch, but other than my uncle, he is the only one who never made fun of me.  He has enough confidence in my abilities to know what I can do.  So I will help him."  Her face resumed its mask of confidence.  "So, in order to help him, I have to get you to obey my orders."
    Danny strained against the clamps that held him.
    "Sorry, Danny," said Deadline.  "I really can't let you escape again."
    "Hey!"  All pity he felt a moment before was gone now.  "You promised that you would let them go!" he shouted.
    "Yes, I did."  The girl ghost walked over to her table, carrying the box.  She picked up a silver key, inserted it into the lock and turned it.  With a loud click, the box opened and the nearly grown half-ghost could here the grumbling from within.
    "Get your boot out of my ear!" came Tucker's voice.  He sounded angry.
    "You get your boot out of my ear first and then we'll talk," Sam's voice was equally as cross.
    Deadline tipped the box over and the violet vortex came out and deposited the Spectre Speeder onto the floor.  It landed with a thud.
    "Ow!" Tucker's voice cried out from within.
    The door opened and Sam rushed out.  "Danny!" she cried out as she saw him imprisoned.
    "I'm all right," he said.  "How about you guys?"
    "Well, I think me and Tucker got a little bit closer to each other than either one of us ever wanted to be..."
    "But we're good," finished Tucker.
    "Yes," said Deadline.  "They're fine.  So, now that I have kept my promise, you are mine."
    "Say what?" asked Tucker.
    Epoch came back into the room, carrying a load of white fabric.
    "Hey!  Why'd you let these humans in here?" he asked his cousin.
    "They're here to insure Danny's cooperation," replied Deadline.
    "Okay..." the male ghost scratched his head.  "Whatever works, I guess."  He dropped the white cloak carelessly on the nearby table.
    "Hey!" protested Deadline.  "Be careful with that!  Don't you realise how much of a pain it is to iron that out?!?"
    "Sorry, sorry..." muttered her cousin as he carefully picked up the cloak and folded it back up.  He looked towards Danny, still chained to the examination table.  He put the folded cloak back onto the table.  His nunchucks appeared in mid-air and he grabbed them.  Swinging them rapidly, he began to advance towards Tucker and Sam.  "So, how much longer you gonna take before you bring your freak under control again?"
    "Not much longer," replied the female ghost.  "Right, Danny?"
    The struggling half-ghost stopped struggling and deflated.  "Yeah," he said finally.  "I'll keep my promise.  --Just don't hurt them."
    "I promise," replied Deadline.  She picked up her little bottle and started to walk towards Danny.
    "Danny!" shouted Sam.  "No!"  She started to run towards her imprisoned friend.
    "I don't think so."  The male ghost punk was fast. He let one nunchuck go and it disappeared.  Then Epoch grabbed her by her shoulders and held her back.  "Sorry, babe," he said.  "But I can't let you go."
    "Danny made a promise to acquiesce to my wishes once I let you out of the box," confirmed Deadline.
    "Sorry Sam, Tucker," said Danny softly.
    "No way..." muttered Tucker.
    Deadline took a sip from the small bottle and reached up and kissed her prisoner.
    Danny cringed for a moment before the spell took hold.
    "NO!!!" cried Sam.  She strained against her captor's grip.
    "Sorry doll, but the freak can't hear you now."
    Sam turned around to face the male ghost.  He shifted his grip to her wrists.
    "You're monsters!  Both of you!" she shouted.
    "Hey!" chuckled the punk.  "Whaddya know?  You're a real fighter..."
    "And you're a real jerk," snarled Sam.
    "It's a shame, really," said Epoch smirking as he brought his face closer to Sam's own.  "You'd be cute if you weren't human."
    There was a loud snap.  The manacles holding Danny Phantom to the examination table came open all at once and the half-ghost stood up.  His face remained blank as he surveyed the room.
    "Danny?" asked Tucker as he took a step towards his friend, his voice rising in panic.  "Talk to me, buddy!"
    But there was no reaction on Danny's face.  It was as if his best bud didn't even exist.
    Deadline chuckled.  "Sorry Tucker.  Danny can't hear you now.  He only hears me."
    "Now what do I do?" muttered the techno-geek.

    "Honey!  Look!" shouted Jack Fenton.  "They're showing that Phantom kid on TV!"
    "Ooh!  Really?" asked Maddy Fenton as she put down the ghost tracker she was working on.
    The Fentons were staying in a ritzy hotel room.  So far, it has been an interesting weekend for the two ghost hunters.  At least for Maddy.  Jack had some trouble sitting through the lectures, but he did have fun at the booths.  After the third purchase that cost more than a thousand dollars, Maddy took away the credit cards and hid them.  They really couldn't afford to spend much, although she was anticipating the moment she could try out the Ecto-Whizzer.  She wanted to make puree out of that white-haired ghost-boy.
    "Today, Amity Park is still waiting for news of its own ghost hero, Danny Phantom.  He was last seen battling two unknown ghosts two days ago.  Through some sort of unknown measures, the unknown ghosts brought down the heroic young spook and carted him away to parts unknown through some type of portal.  Reports also say two teens were also temporarily caught up in the battle and were momentarily stunned, but have come through unharmed."
    There was some camera footage of the fight through the report.  Two ghosts, a male and a female were fighting the well-known Danny Phantom.  The two teens were very familiar to the ghost fighting couple.
    "Maddy?" asked Jack.  "Look.  It's Danny's little friends.  Why do you think they were doing so close to that Phantom kid and a battle between ghosts?"
    "I don't know," replied Maddy as she picked up the phone.  "But I am going to call home and make sure that Danny is okay."

    Jazz let out a breath of relief.
    "Whew!" she said as she collapsed on top of her books on the kitchen table.  "I finally finished the rough draft."
    Normally she would be working on her desk in her bedroom, but she wanted to be close to the basement lab entrance in the kitchen for when her brother and friends finally came home from the ghost zone.  Danny and the others have been gone all night and since she now had her homework up to date, she can concentrate on worrying about them.
    The phone rang.  She went over to the phone and looked at the call display.  "Oh!  Mom and Dad's hotel..."  She picked it up.  "Hello?"
    "Hi, Jazz dear.  Just calling to see how you're doing."
    "I'm doing fine Mom.  Just finishing up on my report."
    "That's nice dear.  How is Danny doing?  Can I speak to him?"
    "Um, Danny's not here right now.  He went out with Sam and Tucker."
    "Well."  There was a pause on the other end.  "To be honest Jazz, your father and I were just watching a broadcast from Amity Park and it had that Danny Phantom ghost fighting some other ghosts.  I saw both Tucker and Sam in that news cast and I am wondering if Danny is okay."
    Jazz swallowed.  "Danny?  He's fine, Mom."  She gave a weak chuckle.  "In fact, Danny seemed to be very mature this weekend.  You wouldn't recognise him for a kid."
    "Really?"  Maddy's pride could be heard over the phone.  "That's good to hear.  Maybe next time we go to a convention, we can trust him on his own and you can come with us.  How's that sound?"
    "Sounds great, Mom," replied the nervous teen.
    "Then we'll do it.  Oh, before I forget.  Your father and I will be coming home tomorrow."
    "What?!?" cried out Jazz, her voice rising for a moment in panic before she got it back under control.  "But doesn't the convention last for two more days?"
    "Well, yes," admitted Maddy Fenton.  "But your father has been buying so much ghost hunting gear that we don't have much money left.  "Why are you concerned?" her voice took up a note of suspicion.   "Is something wrong?"
    "No!  I mean, no, there's nothing wrong Mom.  We were just a bit slack on keeping the kitchen clean.  There's just a few things Danny and I will have to pick up before you get here.  But we'll have the place spotless before you get home."
    "If you say so," replied her mother, then her voice brightened.  "Well dear, I gotta go.  Your father's trying to find the credit cards I hid.  See you tomorrow.  Love you!"
    "See you Mom.  I love you too.  Bye."  Jazz hung up the phone.  She chewed on her nails for a moment in nervousness.  "You better get back to normal soon, Danny," she muttered.

    Tucker tried calling out to his friend again.  "Danny!" he shouted.  "Snap out of it!"
    Both of the ghost cousins started chuckling.
    "Too bad the freak can't hear you," laughed Epoch.  "Otherwise I would be shaking in my boots right about now."
    "You should be shaking," snarled Sam as she tried struggling out of the male ghost's grip. She raised a heavily booted foot and brought it down hard on one of Epoch's.  He yelped in pain and surprised and loosened his grip on Sam long enough for her to break free.  She started to run towards Danny.  "Tucker!" she shouted.  "C'mon!"
    "No!" cried out Deadline.  "Danny!  Restrain them!" she commanded.
    "Yes," replied Danny as he fired off a frozen beam of energy, creating a wall of ice.  Epoch barely got out of the way as the ice nearly trapped him in the one side of the room with the humans.
    "Watch what you are doing, freak!" he leaped as he rolled to safety.
    Sam and Tucker tried to stop but ended up crashing into the ice.
    Tucker peeled his face free.  "Nice try," he said, "but we're human.  The walls of the ghost zone can't stop us."
    He and Sam ran towards one of the walls, knowing that within the Ghost Zone, humans were like ghosts, and Real World items and people were intangible in it.
    "Good thinking Tucker!" cheered Sam.
    But the two teens crashed into the walls of Deadline's home.
    "Sorry," said their hostess.  "The walls of my place have a special type of ecto-field due to the time warping abilities of some of the rooms.  You won't be able to slip through them."
    Tucker and Sam slid off the wall and onto the floor.  "Now she tells us," groaned the techno-geek.  Danny watched emotionlessly.
    Deadline took the elbow of the teen-age ghost boy.  "Time to go, Danny," she said.  "Put on your cloak."  She opened up a portal to Amity Park.  Danny put on the cloak and pulled the hood over his head.  She looked to her two prolonged 'guests' and smirked.  "We'll be going now.  You two are welcome to make yourselves at home."  She turned to her cousin and ensorcelled servant.  "Follow me," she said and stepped through the portal.
    Tucker turned to Sam.  "So now what?" he asked her.
    Sam sighed from her slumped position on against the wall.  "Why can't you ever take the initiative?" she complained.

Chapter Three

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