Ghost Puberty, a Danny Phantom fanfic by Tsunami Storm
Chapter 1: Acquittal
It had been three years since the Disasteroid had passed safely through the Earth thanks to Danny Phantom and his team. Daniel 'Danny' Fenton and his two best friends- Samantha 'Sam' Manson and Tucker 'Tuck' Foley- were now high school seniors, finishing up their last year at Casper High. Or more accurately, his best friend and his girlfriend, as the two had finally made their relationship officially public last year.
Amity Park had not changed much over the past three years, and that included the more than frequent visits from its most famous- or infamous- 'guests'. Amity Park remained the 'ghost capital of the world', and likely would continue to hold that title for years to come. The human denizens of the town didn't mind much, as they had their very own hero to rely on. Danny Phantom still took it upon himself to protect the home he loved and the people he cared about from spectral invasions, whether it be dangerous and potentially deadly encounters with the Fright Knight, or minor annoyances like the Box Ghost- who would pop up on an almost hourly basis.
Speaking of which, Danny and his friends were en route to school when the Halfa just happened to glance at his watch. The Box Ghost would be due any second now. "Three- two- one-" He muttered to himself, and sure enough an ethereal shout of "Beware!" broke the crisp morning air.
"Jeez. You could set your watch by this guy." Danny groused as he made a face in the specter's general direction. He didn't even bother changing to his alter ego to remove this annoyance, merely blasting him with a weak ecto-blast from his human hand and sucking him into the Fenton Thermos. The little blue man hadn't even finished with his introduction before he was absorbed into the machine's innards in a blue vortex of light. "I am the Box Gho-whoa-Whoa-WHOA-ST!"
"Actually, Danny, I think you did set your watch by him. Remember?" Tucker joked, looking at his friend and grinning widely.
"Oh yeah. Who needs an alarm clock when you've got him around?" Danny laughed back, tossing the canister into the air and catching it again in one hand, repeating the exercise to practice his coordination. Today was off to a surprisingly good start, and thus the young ghost-hunter was in a sunny mood. It was a beautiful spring morning, and- except for the hiccup with the Box Ghost- it had been relatively quiet and peaceful so far.
Of course, this peace couldn't last for long, and Danny instinctively stepped to the side as Johnny 13 blew right between the three friends on his motorcycle- his girlfriend Kitty riding on the back and holding onto his shoulders. "Hey Phantom!" She called back, and Johnny gave an acknowledging salute from his bike.
"Hey guys. Out on another date?" Danny teased with a laugh, and Kitty scowled at him. "Shut up! What's it to you?" But he knew she was only teasing, as she grinned after that.
Danny just continued to smirk and shrugged his shoulders, continuing along the sidewalk as if nothing had happened.
"They seem- friendlier." Tucker observed, confusion portrayed on his facial features.
"Yeah. Those two have turned into kinda 'frenemies'. They leave me an' this town alone, I leave them alone. Kinda like that." Danny answered with another shrug. "We're not allies like Clockwork an' Frostbite, but we're not bitter enemies anymore either."
"What happened?" Sam asked. "I mean, you and Johnny couldn't stand each other."
Danny shrugged for a third time. "Guess we both grew up. Metaphorically speaking in his case. They've been somewhat civil ever since the Disasteroid thing. Can't say I'm complaining." He smiled a little in relief, knowing that he had at least two less enemies that he had to battle on a daily basis.
After walking for a few more blocks in companionable silence, Danny chuckled, "How d'you guys think Lancer will react when I'm actually on time for class for once?"
Tucker snickered and Sam smiled. "Probably the same way he always does. Quote the title of a famous piece of literature and act like a total spaz. What d'you think?" They both laughed.
"I guess some things'll never change." The Halfa laughed back as they entered the school building.
"FENTOAST! Yer dead meat when I catch you!"An all-too-familiar voice shouted as they walked through the hallways to their homeroom.
Sigh. "Speaking of never changing, it's ole Meathead himself." Danny groaned sarcastically to his friends, who just smiled and rolled their eyes. Dash Baxter was still at Casper High, but no longer as a student. He was working as an assistant football coach in addition to his classes at the local community college, but never failed to pick on his old favorite punching bag. Not that he shoved the ghost-teen into lockers anymore. Much to Dash's annoyance, Danny Fenton had grown too tall to be shoved into the narrow metal cages meant for books and lunchboxes. So instead he took every opportunity to humiliate the boy in every other possible way. Of course, few of them ever worked, and none of them actually hurt anymore, but the former jock didn't know or need to know that.
"What'd you do this time, Danny?" Sam glared reprovingly at her boyfriend, but she was grinning too.
The Halfa gained a positively evil grin on his face for a second, then whistled innocently. "I dunno what you're talking about." He opened the classroom door for his friends, the image of a perfect gentleman.
Tucker snickered even louder behind his hand. After all, he had been in on last night's prank too. "He just put Dash's favorite teddy bear on top of his old locker and put a picture of him when he was shrunk on the locker door. Nothin' too major."
"I DON'T- DO- PUNY!" Dash howled at that moment, causing the threesome to burst into gales of laughter.
"Come on." Danny huffed when his giggles had subsided. "We don't wanna be late for homeroom again." Then they walked into the classroom just as the part-time coach walked around the corner of the hallway, his face a brilliant shade of reddish purple.
As expected, Mr. Lancer reacted in surprise when the roll was called, but did not cite a book title as he usually did- much to the disappointment of the trio. Instead, he started right into his lecture on the works of Shakespeare, putting the entire class to sleep in record time.
As the bell rang at the end of the day, Mr. Lancer looked up from his stack of papers and called, "Mr. Fenton. I would like a few words with you. Mr. Foley, Ms. Manson, you are free to go."
Sam and Tucker looked at their friend quizzically- wondering what was up- but Danny waved them off. He too was wondering what the teacher's problem was- as nothing had happened during the day to warrant this little talk- but he kept his fears to himself. "I'll meet you guys at my place later." He whispered, closing the classroom door behind him.
Lancer continued to shuffle and align his papers on his desk, seemingly not taking any notice of the teenager standing next to the door. But then he sighed. "Take a seat, Mr. Fenton."
Danny walked over to the nearest desk and chair and sat in it, his apprehension building by the second. There had been no ghost attacks today during class- and thus no barely explained disappearances- so why was Lancer keeping him after class?
"You can relax, Mr. Fenton. I just want to talk. You're not in any sort of trouble." The teacher sighed with a slight smile of reassurance. The smile grew wider when he saw his student visibly relax, slouching down into the chair.
"What's the problem then, Mr. Lancer?" Danny asked, curiosity now replacing his absent fear.
"Well, I think that it's plain for anyone to see that you have not been at 100% lately, Mr. Fenton. With the exception of today, you are consistently late for class- making frequent trips to the bathroom; when you do return from your 'bathroom break', you're always covered in cuts and or bruises; and frankly, you look dead on your feet. I realize that this isn't really any of my business, but is anything bothering you? Anything that you want to talk about?"
Danny's eyebrows disappeared into his hair at this question. He hadn't been expecting this at all. He'd thought it would be another lecture about his less-than-praiseworthy grades. Sure, he'd maintained a solid B average throughout his senior year so far, but that was nothing to write home about. Still, it was a far cry from his grades in freshman year.
Turning his thoughts back to Lancer's question, Danny pondered to himself, Where do I begin? Well I'm half-ghost; I haven't been sleeping at all lately with all the ghost attacks; my parents love one half of me an' wanna tear the other half apart molecule by molecule; my grades aren't the best 'cuz I'm ghost-hunting 'til all hours of the night an' I don't have time for homework or studying; Oh yeah, an' I'm constantly being shot at by hunters in Amity Park and the Ghost Zone. But that's nothing I can tell him. He'd probably freak.
Looking down at his feet, Danny answered, "I appreciate your concern, Mr. Lancer, but I don't need to talk. I have been having trouble sleeping lately, but it's nothin' a warm glass of milk won't fix. I'm sorry I keep coming in late. I'll try to be on time more often."
Lancer sighed again, realizing this was a difficult subject to broach to anyone, much less a teenage high school student. "I know it sometimes seems that life is too painful to handle, but adding more pain will not solve anything. Talking about the problem is often the best way to handle emotional wounds." He hinted, casting a knowing and sympathetic look at the young man.
Realization then dawned on the seventeen-year-old ghost-teen, and he started in his seat. "Mr. Lancer! I- I dunno how you jumped to that conclusion, but I'm not hurting myself on purpose. Almost all of those bruises come from doin' my chores around the house. You know how clumsy I can be. I have no idea where the other ones come from. They just show up outta the blue." [Shameless self-insertion here. That happens to me all the time. XD]
"Okay, Mr. Fenton." Lancer sighed, seemingly satisfied with Danny's answer. He was relieved to know that Danny wasn't hurting himself deliberately, but there was still something that seemed to weigh heavily on the boy's shoulders, something that had been there since freshman year-
Danny got up to leave, and the teacher didn't move to stop him. As the teen put his hand to the doorknob though, he muttered, "If you ever need to talk, Daniel, I'm always here to lend an ear. Metaphorically speaking, of course."
Danny smiled a little at that and answered in a voice barely above a whisper, "Thanks, Mr. Lancer." then disappeared around the corner of the hallway. Lancer smiled as he turned back to his papers, then sighed. "Ah, the joy of every teacher. Grading." He groaned facetiously as he uncapped a red pen from his mug of writing tools and set to work.
"So what'd Lancer want?" Sam asked her boyfriend when he'd walked out of the classroom door.
Danny chuckled to himself. "He actually thought I was turning emo 'cause of all the cuts an' bruises I get fighting ghosts. My life may be messed up, but I'm not about to start hurting myself more."
As they walked out of the school building toward the park, Danny's trademark ghost-sense went off for the nth time. Ugh. Danny complained mentally. Who is it now?
However, his expectant frown turned into a smile of surprise when he saw which of the denizens of the Ghost Zone had decided to visit. "What's up, Phantom?" Youngblood called from the back of a blue and green dragon, grinning from ear to ear in his shiny new 'knight' costume. The dragon waved at the three friends too, and they answered with friendly waves. Princess Dora was a good friend of theirs, and Youngblood had become almost like a little brother to Danny in the three years since the Disasteroid incident. Or another cousin at the very least.
"Hey, Youngblood. What's your theme this time? The heroic knight saving a damsel in distress?" Danny called back, a slightly teasing smile on his face.
"Nope, but close! I'm a Dragon-Rider! I just got through the Inheritance Cycle, an' I loved it so much that I asked Princess Dora to help me reenact some scenes!" The child ghost called, his wide smile still on his face.
"All right, just try not to cause too much trouble. Contrary to popular belief, most people in the human world don't appreciate their buildings being smashed into tiny pieces." Danny called after the pair as they started to fly away and the humans continued to Fenton Works.
Youngblood gave an acknowledging salute with his blade, then flew off on Dora to fight some imaginary enemies- or Ecto-pi, if Danny was lucky.
"He's quite a bit friendlier too." Tucker observed, watching the duo as they disappeared into the distance.
"Most of 'em in the Ghost Zone are now, pretty much." Danny admitted with a shrug. "There're a few who won't give up. Skulker for instance- and the Fright Knight. Technus is okay half the time, an' Ember's just a pain all the time. The rest mostly leave me alone."
"You forgot the Box Ghost." Sam pointed out, eyeing the Fenton Thermos meaningfully.
"Who cares?" Tucker and Danny replied in sync, and they could just barely hear an ethereal shout of "Hey!" from inside the cylindrical container.
-At Fenton Works-
When the threesome had reached Fenton Works and once again returned the Box Ghost to the Ghost Zone- for the gazillionth time- Danny sighed to himself, "I wish he would just lay low for a while. Or at least get a little bit stronger so he's actually worth the effort." Another "Hey!" sounded, but- like the first- it went unacknowledged as usual.
"So you have wished it-" Another ghostly voice began, but Danny cut her off. "What d'you want, Desiree?" He sighed rhetorically, rolling his eyes at the appearance of the Wishing ghost.
His question apparently caught the spectral genie off-guard, because she paused and stuck her head out of the Ghost Portal. "Huh. No one's ever asked me that before. What do I want?" She floated out of the portal completely and hovered in the air of the Fenton's basement/lab, tapping her chin with her index finger.
"That was a rhetorical question." Danny sighed, and the ghost-genie looked at him. "Oh, I know. It's just that I've never really thought about it before." She floated this way and that for a while, but then shrugged and flew right back into the Ghost Zone.
"That was- different." Tucker commented. "Usually she'd at least try to attack you or something."
"Yeah. She's more one of the 'frenemies' now." Danny answered his friend. "She always gets this really sad look in her eyes whenever she sees Kitty an' Johnny together, an' it's there when she sees PJ an' Siobhan together, but then it turns to an 'Ew' face pretty quickly."
"Who're PJ and Siobhan?" Tucker and Sam asked in unison.
"Oh, the Box Ghost an' the Lunch Lady." Danny shrugged, causing the two to recoil in disgust. "Yeah, that's what I thought too. Siobhan is her real name, an' I just made one up for Box Ghost because he sounds exactly like PJ from 'Goof Troop'. Y'know, that kid's show we used to watch on Toon Disney?"
"Oh yeah! He really does!" Tucker exclaimed, just now putting the two together. Then his face turned serious again. "But how come Desiree gets sad when- Oh."
"Yeah. I guess what she'd really want is a boyfriend, but I don't think she'll ever admit it." Danny answered, nodding to his friend. "An' it's not like she has a very wide selection. I mean, Johnny's spoken for, and the only other real 'good-looking' ghost that I can think of is Plasmius, an' that's just an 'Ew'. Skulker: 'Ew', Technus: 'Ew', PJ: already taken and 'Ew'-" "HEY!"
"What about that 'Ghostwriter' guy?" Tucker suggested, but Danny shook his head.
"He's too absorbed in his books. Plus he's kinda psychotic. Same with Walker. Kinda forgot about him." The Halfa added as an afterthought. "Everyone else is too young, too old or locked up forever." He finished, thinking of the Ghost King Pariah Dark.
"Well, I hope she knows you're spoken for as well, Danny." Sam added with a slight threat woven into her voice.
"Oh yeah. That's obvious to everyone in the Ghost Zone. Heh, Frostbite even carved a pictograph of you in the ice cave right next to one of my pictures. And we're holding hands-" Danny grinned, waggling his eyebrows mischievously.
"Oh stop it." Sam smirked, giving her boyfriend a playful shove. Danny grinned even wider and gave her a swift peck on the cheek, causing her cheeks to pink prettily for a few seconds. Tucker just rolled his eyes. "Oh brother. Get a room, you two." He laughed.
Just at that moment, Jack Fenton came barreling into the lab, followed closely by his wife Madelyn- or 'Maddie' for short. "I coulda sworn I heard a ghost in here." Jack grumbled loudly, and the three friends looked at each other. "Oh yeah, Phantom was just redepositing the Box Ghost back in the portal. For the nth time, might I add. Then he flew off again." Sam fabricated easily. Covering for Danny was second-nature by now.
"Phantom was in here?" Maddie asked, surprised. The three teens nodded, and she continued in a quieter voice, "That's funny, hardly anyone has seen him lately, but I guess he's still around- doing his thing and causing mayhem. Filthy, ectoplasmic punk."
"Mom, I keep telling you that-" Danny began, but Maddie cut him off.
"I know, I know. He's supposedly one of the 'good guys', and he's trying to keep this town as 'ghost-free' as possible, but I just don't buy it. If he's so 'good', then why'd he kidnap Mayor Sanchez?"
Danny sighed for the nth time. This subject again. Finally fed up with everyone bringing up that particular incident, he asked in an annoyed voice, "Does anyone have an actual video clip of that 'kidnapping'? Because it's high time I proved something once an' for all."
Maddie and Jack were confused and taken aback at their son's uncharacteristic tone and behavior all of a sudden, but then Jack slowly nodded and began rifling through one of the many goo-covered cardboard boxes scattered around the lab. Boxes that Danny was supposed to have organized by now. He finally found what he was looking for and handed the cassette to Danny, who took it with a raised eyebrow. The tape was splotched in various places with green ectoplasmic goop, and he wasn't sure if it would still work in their ancient VCR.
"That tape still works, believe it or not. We used it just last week for some research on how to best upgrade our weapons so they'll be more effective." Jack announced proudly as he patted the Fenton Foamer affectionately. Danny just scowled and walked upstairs with the tape, motioning for his parents and his friends to follow.
When the four humans and one Halfa had marched up the stairway and into the living room, Danny slid the VHS into the tape player and turned on their TV. He fast-forwarded the tape to a specific point, then paused it, pointing at the screen.
"Exhibit A in proving Phantom's innocence in the trial of Phantom vs. Fentons: Look closely at Mayor Sanchez's eyes." Danny directed, pointing back and forth at the man's two ocular organs.
"Sufferin' Spooks! They're red!" Jack yelled a tad too loudly, and Sam and Tucker winced at the volume.
"Yep. Red-eyed humans: a classic case of either sleep deprivation or overshadowing. An' since I highly doubt it's the former, Mayor Sanchez was being manipulated by a ghost." Danny explained. "-Other than Phantom." He added when his parents both opened their mouths to interrupt. He pressed 'Play' again on the remote, then paused it again at the mayor's phony cry for 'help'.
"Exhibit B: the hand positions." He indicated, pointing to the orientation of the human's hands versus Phantom's gloves.
"Gallopin' Ghouls!" Jack yelled again, though- luckily- the two other teens were prepared this time. "From this angle, it looks like the Mayor is manhandling Phantom, not the other way around!"
"That's exactly what it looks like, Dad. An' that's exactly what happened." Danny answered, looking to his shocked parents. "Phantom was framed. By a rule-obsessed ghost named Walker, the prison warden of the Ghost Zone."
"Okay, I admit that you have some strong evidence there, but that still doesn't explain why Phantom attacked us after that!" Maddie put in when her husband couldn't think of a convincing rebuttal.
Danny raised an eyebrow and resumed the video, pausing it after Phantom had shot fairly weak ecto-blasts at his parents. He nodded grudgingly, realizing that his parents did have a good point there. He turned back to them and asked, "Do you guys have a version of this on a computer by any chance? The quality isn't very good on this tape, an' I might be able to figure out what Phantom was muttering right before he shot at you."
Maddie nodded and took out her laptop, pulling up a window containing the video on her desktop. Danny then took over the keyboard and opened a sound-mixing program next to the window so he could reduce the other noise in the clip and increase the volume on Phantom's dialogue.
" - - may be overshadowed, but - should harmlessly push - ghosts out - 'em." Phantom muttered to himself as he charged up a weak plasma ball in his palm. Danny allowed himself a small smile before pausing the video again and turning to his parents.
"See? Phantom wasn't trying to hurt you with that 'attack'. He thought you might've been overshadowed an' was trying to get the ghosts out of you. An' if I remember correctly-" Danny trailed off as he played through some more of the video- "There! He was gonna apologize, but you kept shooting at him."
"Oh." was all Maddie could think to say, clearly out of ammunition to use against the ghost-boy. Jack just sat there looking slightly sheepish and guilty.
"Does that clear things up for you?" Danny asked with just a hint of an accusing tone in his voice, though not nearly enough to be detected by his parents. Sam and Tuck heard it though, and looked at their friend sympathetically. It must be tough to have a life like Danny's and everything that it entailed.
After a minute or two, Maddie recovered. "Well, I guess we were a bit off about Phantom. And now that you mention that whole 'red eyes means overshadowing or mind control', I seem to recall Phantom having red eyes when he was stealing all of that jewelry and stuff. That 'Freakshow' guy was the real culprit. I was so focused on what Phantom was doing that I forgot about that clown ringleader completely."
"Exactly." Danny answered. "Phantom was set up there, too. He's just been trying his best to keep this town- an' the people he loves- safe. Just like you guys do every day." He smiled at his parents, hoping that they'd finally see the light about Phantom's true intentions. Maybe- if all went well- his ghost half wouldn't get shot at anymore by his own parents!
"Nice job on that 'case', Danny." Jasmine 'Jazz' Fenton commented as she glided down the stairs from her room. "You'd make a decent lawyer someday if you wanted to." She shot a sly wink and knowing smirk at her little brother, then turned to the kitchen to get a snack that hopefully wasn't contaminated by the samples of ectoplasm in the refrigerator. Danny merely rolled his eyes. Currently, Jazz was on Spring Break from her classes at Harvard University, and had decided to spend the two-week vacation with her family back in Amity Park. Unfortunately, Jasmine's Spring Break and Danny's did not coincide on the calendar, so Danny still had school while his sister did not. Yep. Life was unfair.
-Speaking of unfair-
"Butter biscuits!" Vlad Plasmius cursed as he floated through the vast, untamed reaches of space. "Butter biscuits, fudge nutters and CHEESE WHEELS!" He roared to himself. After all, he was all alone in the cold, dark emptiness of space.
"If only I hadn't been so presumptuous." He groused. "If only I hadn't been so greedy and arrogant, I could be down there on Earth right now, curled up in my custom-made easy chair, sipping a cup of hot cocoa by a roaring fire and stroking my only friend 'Maddie' as she lay curled up and purring on my lap." [The cat, people, not Danny's mom. He only wishes.] He sighed. "Alas, here I float, stranded- quite literally in the middle of nowhere- unable to return to my home because of a fruitless, foolhardy bid for world domination and riches." He hung his head.
"Oh, Maddie, my only love. How I miss you." Vlad sighed, gazing longingly at the emerald and sapphire orb before him. "I miss my lovely almost-daughter Jasmine, I miss my witty little badger, Daniel- Why, I even miss that completely idiotic oaf, Jack." Briefly, the vampire-like Halfa questioned his sanity after voicing that particular confession aloud, but then shrugged. No one was around to hear it, and- even if he had lost his marbles- who would even care about it? Out here in space?
"Perhaps Daniel was right in calling me a 'Froot-Loop' all the time." Vlad mused aloud and to himself at the same time. "I really have made a mess of things- countless times- on Earth, haven't I? The crown jewel being that stupid Disasteroid. Oh, why couldn't I just let go of the past? Forgive and forget, as they say? Why did I have to hold it against my only two friends, who eventually left me to my bitterness?"
Finally giving in to his sorrow, Vlad Plasmius dropped his face into his hands and wailed, "I wish that the world would forget that Vlad Masters became Vlad Plasmius and demanded world domination!" He sniffled pitifully a few times, then added in a much softer voice, "Perhaps then I could return home and finally start anew."
Unbeknownst to the ghostly space nomad, a face poked out of a natural ghost portal a few feet away and whispered, "So you have wished it, so shall it be!"
End of chapter 1
Next chapter teaser: A Shocking Change
I think I should mention to my lovely readers that in this story, everything in Phantom Planet happened except for the 'big reveal'. So according to everyone but Sam, Tuck, Jazz, and some ghosts, Danny Fenton and Danny Phantom are two different people.
I can't be the only person that noticed that the Box Ghost and PJ have similar voices, and I thought it was funny, so I put it in here. And I grew up watching 'Goof Troop' on Toon Disney, so sue me. [Not really! Please don't sue a poor author like me!]
Call me crazy, but I actually kinda like Desiree. She's spunky, powerful, GORGEOUS, and not completely evil like Pariah Dark, just a little mischievous sometimes. I think she's earned the right to make a small wish of her own, don't you?
On that note, I like Youngblood too. He's kinda like a kid-brother-figure to some of the other ghosts, with a wild imagination. I really liked Eragon, [the book only, not the terrible movie. That travesty is worse than 'The Last Airbender'!] so I let him borrow my copy. Wouldn't ya know it, he liked it too! Now he gets to play with his very own Saphira- er, I mean Dora.
Y'know, I kinda feel sorry for Vlad. I mean, being stuck in outer space all alone has gotta be lonely and boring. I mean, he totally deserved it for everything that he did to Danny, Valerie and Danielle, but I still feel bad for the guy. So like it or not, I'm gonna give him another chance.
Until next chapter!