Soup Kitchens and Runaway Ghosts
Dani let out a breath of relief. Danny’s injuries were all accounted for, and now he’s fast asleep on the makeshift bed that she made out of cardboard and scratchy cloth that is... semi-clean. There were still bandages that Jazz threw in a backpack that she packed for Danny before Dani flew as fast as she could out of their house, clutching onto Danny as hard as she could until she knew that they were safe and away from his parents and the GIW.
An old, abandoned apartment that seemed haunted (but not really) was the best place she could take them.
But with only clothes and bandages for Danny in the backpack, there wasn’t any food. She took a look outside, and deemed it still early for a few soup kitchens to still be open, especially for dinner.
So, she leaned down, patting Danny’s head, whispering how she’ll be back as soon as she could. She’ll just get some food for Danny and her to eat. She took her own pack, filled with ice-cream containers and plastic spoons that she’s collected over the months she went travelling.
Then, turning invisible, she flew out of the abandoned apartment building.
- Okay, so, what happens is that Jason runs a soup kitchen. He’s still Red Hood, and the people helping him run the kitchen are his Goons. But his Goons have no idea that Jason is Red Hood. They just think that Jason is someone Red Hood wants to help, and the Goons love helping the dude. Not just because he’s good at cooking, but because they actually feel like they’re doing something good when they help.
- There’s always a new face coming into the soup kitchen, new kids that ran away from toxic home environments, people who lost their jobs and became desperate, families who are trying to get by...
- Then, Jason felt a chill run down his back and the Lazarus Madness in his mind hiding away where Jason couldn’t feel it. He looked around to what could have caused that reaction, and locks his eyes on his black-haired, blue-eyed child carrying ice-cream containers asking one of his Goons, Bill, if he could fill it up.
- Bill doesn’t ask questions. He told all of his Goons that are working in this kitchen to never ask questions when someone asks for more, or to bring some home. Just do it.
- She doesn’t eat in the dining area that Jason set up, instead tucks away the sealed soup and bread, and some eggrolls Jason taught his goons to make, and walked out of the place.
- The Lazarus Madness then returned, though still dulled and almost whining in annoyance in his mind.
- Shaking his head, Jason walked in to replace the empty pot of soup for a new one. Then, he turned to Bill to take care of the place, saying he needed to report to Red Hood something.
- “Is it the kid with the containers earlier?” he asked.
- “Yeah,” Jason just decided to reply. “I just have a... feeling.”
- Bill frowned and told Jason that he got it from here.
- Jason went out back, opened his security cameras to locate where the kid went. But, when he went to the time the kid walked out of the door, it was like she just disappeared into thin air! Jason wondered what was with the girl that caused the Lazarus Madness to crawl into near inexistence to the back of his mind.
- But Jason decided that he’ll look more into it later.
- The young girl shows up a the next day. This time, not only does she ask for the containers to be filled, she even asks for her water bottles to be filled with drinking water because the water jugs that were brought out were empty.
- Interestingly, the girl seemed more tense in front of Jason, squirming where she was standing and trying hard not to stare at Jason, looking away when Jason directs his gaze to her.
- Does she also feel how she’s pushing away the Lazarus?
- A question for another time. He had food to give out.
- This time, Jason and Bill were switched. Bill, his faithful student in the art of cooking, is in the kitchen cooking up more soup while all the other Goons were putting together some ham and cheese sandwiches. And Jason with some of the other goons were giving out the food.
- Jason calls for one of the other goons to change the empty water jugs with new ones while he fills her containers with soup, one container with some rice porridge, and another one with the sandwiches his goons put together. He gave enough that could be eaten for two people.
- When Jason sees the state of the little girl’s water bottles (it’s the plastic water bottles, and it’s all crinkled up like paper), Jason tells the little girl to wait and goes to the back kitchen (noticing when he looks back how the girl relaxes as he leaves) to get one of his water bottles that he stole from Bruce that he wasn’t using. It was big, enough to be filled with four glasses of water.
- Jason could always steal another one. Not like Bruce was using them anyways.
- So, after washing the bottle, he steps back out, refills the bottle, and gives it to the little girl. Her eyes widen, letting out an excited gasp, seeming to forget how tense she was in his presence.
- “I can have this?!” her eyes were sparkling towards him, and Jason couldn’t help but let out a little laugh.
- “Yeah! I have plenty more where that came from.”
- The little girl stuffed the containers in her bags, and the water bottle last. Then, she gently brought her pack over her shoulder.
- With a grin towards Jason, she said, “Thanks Mister!”
- With a huff, Jason says, “Just call me Jason.”
- Repeating his name and thanking him again, the little girl was out of the soup kitchen.
- Checking the security feeds again, she disappeared into thin air just like last time. There is seriously no trace of her walking out the moment she exited at the same time as other kids. Either she’s really good at stealth and misdirection, or she’s a meta.
- Jason wouldn’t be surprised if she were one.
- For the next 3 days, the little girl keeps coming back with newly washed containers, and even comes over during brunch times.
- But Jason notices how she’s getting more anxious as the days went by. So, on the 6th day she came over, Jason pulls her aside and asks her if there was something wrong.
- The little girl starts crying then and there. She has a kinda-brother, kinda-cousin who’s hurt from his parents hurting him, and he’s had a fever that won’t go down. She doesn’t know what to do, and none of the fever medicine she stole from the drug stores were working, and she tried getting the antibiotic ointment but Danny, her brother-cousin’s name, wasn’t getting better at all.
- Jason calmed the girl down. Bill, his most trusted Goon, said that he’ll man the kitchen. Jason should go help the girl.
- And Jason gathers some things that would most definitely be useful for some emergency first aid. Judging by what the little girl told him, this Danny would need to be brought to Leslie.
- Before they leave, Jason asks the little girl her name.
- “Danielle, but everyone calls me Dani, with an ‘I’.”
- “Does Danny call you that, too?”
- “We think it’s funny.”
- Jason is brought to a nearby abandoned apartment. On some ratty bed and covered by some blanket that was definitely stolen, lays a teenage boy whose breath was stuttering as he breathes. There was a cooling pad over the kid’s head.
- He ran up to the kid, and gasps when he feels the Lazarus Madness completely vanish from his mind.
- He ignores that for now, peeling off the blanket to take a look over Danny, who was sweating through his clothes.
- “Where is he hurt?” Jason asks.
- Dani tells him he’s hurt badly on his back and chest. He removes the shirt. The bandages were wrapped clumsily, but covered all the important parts.
- The important parts being wounds as if he was blasted by a ray gun, and cuts on his torso as if he was being dissected. A vivisection.
- “His parents were scientists,” Dani said from behind him. Jason turned towards her, and this time her eyes were glowing a familiar shade of green. He’s seen it many times in his reflection, but seeing it on another person made goosebumps rise on his arms. “I... I could explain what’s going on, but Danny can’t go back to his parents... Because his parents aren’t the only people who are after him... They’re probably after me, too.”
- “I don’t need you to explain to me,” he said, bringing out his things to perform emergency first aid. “But we need to bring Danny to someone who could heal him better, alright?”
- “No hospitals... he... his blood isn’t... normal...” she said, wringing her wrist with her hand, face scrunched up as if she doesn’t know what’s okay to tell him.
- Jason pursed his lips. He could... call in for one of his favors with someone the Red Hood knows. They’d ask for nothing except to repay him.
- So, Jason tells Dani to wait for him here. Don’t answer the door for anyone, because Jason will be coming in through the window to pick them up. He tells Dani to fix up their things, and to prepare because they were taking Danny to a friend of his who wouldn’t ask any questions no matter what he saw.
- Once he was out, and after feeling the Lazarus filling his mind up again with a vengeance, he calls Bill, telling him that he’s leaving the cleanup of the kitchen to him and the others. And that he’s also going to Red Hood for some help. Bill, who had also grown fond of the little girl who he shared his Stolen Femurs story with, was worried but told him to stay safe, and to keep the kid safe.
- After hanging up, he changes into his Red Hood gear, calls his illegal doctor, and drives his Hoodmobile (lovingly named by Dick - 9 years old at heart - Grayson) to the apartment where Dani and Danny were staying. But he also found some suspicious White Van, and some people in white suits holding... blaster guns? Those are definitely blaster guns. They were probably the ones who hurt Danny, then.
- Red Hood parked his car in a location he would easily be able to get into, and scaled the apartment to the floor Dani hid her and Danny in. He knocked on the window, lifting his helmet up a little to show his domino-mask-less face. He put it back on as he went inside. Just like he told Dani to do, all of their things were fixed. By the panic on Dani’s face, she knows about the suspicious people.
- “I can carry Danny out of here without being seen,” she said. “But me and Danny could easily be tracked by them because of what we are... But I can be quick. I promise!”
- Dani didn’t even wait for his reply, something green shined in her hands, and she easily picked up the kid, easily floated into the air, and easily turned invisible.
- “So that’s how you managed to disappear from my cams,” he said.
- He couldn’t see her, but he could tell that she was grinning. He took their packs and scaled down the walls.
- But just as he landed, a blaster gun was pointed at his face.
- “Can I help you gentlemen?” he asked the men in white.
- One of them was holding some kind of gadget that was rapidly beeping when pointed at Jason’s direction.
- “There are three ghosts in our current location,” the one holding the gadget said, staring pointedly towards Jason.
- “Well, that’s just rude,” he said, because he’s more of a zombie than a ghost, and immediately punched the one pointing the blaster in his face. He disarmed him, grabbed the blaster for himself, and disarmed the other men in white whipping out their own blaster guns. With every shot, a blaster was destroyed. And when Jason accidentally hit a pole, that pole had a melted hole, creaked, and fell to the ground.
- The blasters were stronger than Jason thought, and he was wondering how Danny survived such a thing. He took out a smoke bomb and through it to the ground, using the smoke to get to his Hoodmobile. (God, he hates that name.)
- Once he was in the driver’s seat, he dropped the packs beside him and called for Dani. “You guys in here?”
- “y-yeah! We’re in the back!” she said, letting go of the invisibility. Danny’s head laid on her lap, but his breathing seemed to be getting worse.
- “They’re this way!”
- Jason starts the car and starts driving.
- The Hoodmobile is breaking every traffic law known to man, but so were the men in white’s van, which also had some built in blasters Jason knew Tim and Batman would secretly drool over. The vans seemed to multiply the more corners he turned.
- These men in white don’t seem to care about property damage, either. Or about civilians being affected or injured by the consequences of their blasts.
- Thankfully it was night, and Jason was calling for Oracle to respond.
- “Hood, who are the people chasing you?”
- “No idea, but they pointed some blaster to my face. Called me a ghost with some gadget they use to track for some,” he said. “No matter where I go, they seem to be able to track me because of what I am.” He was using Dani’s explanation for this. He cursed and turned a hard left to avoid hitting a civilian. “I don’t know what the range for the gadget is, but I need you to disable it so I could get somewhere safe.”
- “On it,” Oracle said. But a few seconds of swerving around the road later, he heard Oracle curse.
- “What is it?”
- “Their tech is all protected by something. No matter how much I hack into them, a newer code just keeps coming in to stop me.”
- “Can you fry their systems?” Jason asked.
- “...I could,” said Oracle. “But we’d never get the information we need form them. Are you okay with that?”
- Jason snorted. “You know how I get my information,” he said, jokingly. “You Bats and your fancy technology got nothing on threatening people with guns.”
- With a huff, Oracle began typing rapidly on her computer. And, in 5 beautiful seconds, the Vans all screeched to a stop as the technology in their vehicle fizzles and pops in tiny explosions.
- Jason threw some smoke bombs outside his window, and broke even more traffic laws driving to the outskirts of Gotham.
Graves aren’t the only place people die and rest
People don’t die at their graves, nor do they all die from accidents. Logically Danny knew this, he knows this.
Maybe it’s because of Amity Park. Amity is just a small town, a place out of the way from the rest. It’s not completely isolated but it’s not really close to any other town or city as well.
Then again, his ancestors did burn witches so it might have added more into his surprise in later years once he realizes what ‘dead’ is.
It started off as one of mom and dad’s normal ghost hunting trips. It was a new location and this time both he and Jazz were being brought with them since it was the spring break. The location was an empty cabin, it was old but well cared for and clean. The couple that owns the cabins said that some unusual actives were happening which caught the interest of his parents. And as usual, they had to get rid of the ‘spook’.
Danny didn’t care as much as he should have, having grown up with his parents' wild urges to find anything remotely close to their research of ghost and getting rid of them. Ever since he became Phantom, he started to care a whole lot more since, after learning and understanding the spirits of the dead, were just people who can’t officially cross.
But that wasn’t the story. It was when night fell, did he realize an important fact about ghost.
It was a night flying, just a bit of air and quiet time after dealing with his parents rambling all day and avoiding their weapons. He needed a breather, and nothing brought he more peace than a nightly timed stroll.
Then that's when he felt it.
A ghost was nearby.
Huffing that his parents were right, he flew towards the direction of the ghost he detected.
Now Danny isn’t a stranger to childlike children ghost. Sidney and Youngblood were one of the few child-like ghost he met. Cujo was a dog and others like Ember and Kitty were practically teenagers when passed on.
(And he himself knew that his death should not have happen, should never happen. He was a child when he lived, and he was a child as he died. But he likes to think the moment he became Phantom was the moment he had to grow up.)
In other words, he wasn’t a stranger to young looking ghost.
He was a stranger, however, to the tense aura of fear-help-sorry-fear-fear-hurt-pain-scared-scared-mom-help washing over him as he looked upon a girl was no older than he was, crying over a crack in the ground.
It was the first time he saw the effects of a newly killed ghost.
Things became a blur after that, but the moment Danny woke up with white eyes watching him in curiosity did he remembered what happened.
Her name was Anna, she loves to do photography. She wanted to take pictures in the woods. She saw a man in the woods. She turned around. She made a mistake. She died with a stab wound and her body was left to rot in that crack in the ground. She wasn’t buried. She was killed and left behind.
She died two months ago.
That was when Danny remembered that not everyone can die a quiet death.
(He helped her cross over and brought her to a city in the zone. He didn’t want to leave, not yet, but he knew he had a duty and promised to visit.
It took a couple of weeks until he saw her smile through her endless tears.)
Then months passed and more trips became a common thing during the summer break. Since it was the summer, their ‘ghost hunting’ trips would take them further away from Amity and all over the state.
In that one summer season he found other ghosts that were just like Anna. Some in alleyways, others on the road, some at gas stations, a few in front of their homes and the scary sad few that were found in the middle of nowhere.
Murdered, killed, car accident, strokes, hunger and more.
Death is not something Danny thought of as scary. He thought that those that had died already, those that where ghost, the scary ones. He forgot that death was not something everyone wanted.
(He repressed the memory of how painful his death was.)
But he learned, he remembered, and he helped.
He wanted to help, to help those that died to soon or to sudden, He wanted to help the ghost that seem so angry, so sad, and the few that looked so empty and helpless that they look worse the living.
Those looked like they never lived at all.
So, he helped, he helped because this was all he can do. If he can give at least one ghost a peaceful passing, then he can trade those few hours of sleepless nights happily.
half a year later his parents chose to make an extended trip during the winter break (which he didn’t mind since they would miss chrismas in Amity Park, a miracle all on its own.)
The problem is that the place they wanted to take a trip was in Gotham.
A city where crime and death rates are at their highest.
He wasn’t surprised when he saw a ghost in Gotham, however, he was surprised when most of the ghosts seemed to be far more calming then all the rest.
They did not wail in sadness nor did the scream to the high heavens of the unfairness of it all. No, they simply watched over the people that lived there for years and lifetimes more than them.
He thought that it might be easy to take them across the zone and back to their home because of how calm they were, how reasonable, however, that was not the case.
Instead, they wanted him to help Gotham and the people that lived in those very streets.
He should have said no, he should have turned away, heck, he should have dragged them back to the zone and be done with it all.
But he looked deep into the eyes of the dead citizens of this crime filled city and saw sadness. Sadness for the living that had to walk a life of danger, a never-ending release.
They cared not of their own undead lives but the ones that have yet to die.
And the undead teenage can only sigh before reaching out his hand as a sign of peace.
“Who would you like me to save?”