Hi, I'm Danny, Danny Kern
Danny Kern knew one thing in life – his mom hated talking about her past. Asking her about the series of events that contributed to the now would only be rewarded with one answer
"They made me who I am. Just because I don't like talking about it doesn't mean they're not important. When you get a little older, when the time comes, you'll learn everything I promise."
That never happened.
Now, young Danny lived in the "quiet" town of Amity Park where the Fentons ran rugged chasing after ghosts and blowing things up – however they always apologized for the devastation they accidentally caused. He knew them from their daughter Jasmine "Jazz" Fenton, as she was his freshman mentor. His best friends Samantha "Sam" Manson and Tucker Foley also lived in this charming little American village with all its eccentricities.
Most days Danny hung out with Sam and Tucker. Either goofing off, semi-seriously doing schoolwork, or doing their vigilant training, they stuck together almost 24/7/365. In any case, the Nasty Burger stood tall as the hang out of most teenagers of the area and that stood true for that trio, normally they were found lounging around after school, homework on a table and a burger or – in Sam's case – a salad.
Danny crunched on the crispy fries before reaching for the salt. "It's been rather quiet recently."
"Well, no news is good news, right?" Tucker swallowed an abnormally large bite of BBQ Burger.
"Yes, and no," Sam scratched down an answer on her question sheet, "It could be either. And please, keep your dead animal muscle away from me. Meat already makes me gag, I don't need to smell it."
Danny rolled his sea blue eyes. "Oh c'mon guys, let's not have another meat vs. veggie war again. Don't you guys remember what happened last time?"
Their faces blanched and Sam's turned green at the gills. The Lunch Lady swinging around heaves of raw and cooked meat all around the school – the stench alone was bad enough the school had been canceled until they could clean the odor.
"If we get attacked in the middle of class this week…Screw high school, I'm working full time." Danny sucked the remaining soda out of his drink.
"Really, and how would your mom feel about that?" Tucker raised an eyebrow, his voice full of sarcasm.
Danny frowned. "I know, I know." He dragged out a sigh. "I just wish I didn't have to deal with this all the – fudging – time."
"Well it could be worse. You could always be dealing with Murphy's Law and the Fentons could be your folks. Thank goodness you're not though. Could you imagine dealing with lying continuously to ghost-hunters?"
She had a point. If Danny had been born to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Fenton… He shuddered at the crazy impossibilities. He'd be lying 24/7 to "Ripping apart molecule by molecule!" scientists, not that he wasn't already lying to his wonderful, worrying mother. Though that would mean he wouldn't have to sneak in every time he needed to return a ghost to the ghost zone.
"If there's something strange, in the neighborhood-"
"Hey Mom!" Danny loudly gulped the remainder of what he had been chewing and grinned into the phone. "Work going okay?"
"Well we've had one delivery, four appointments, and three more appointments to go."
"Does this mean we'll be having dinner at the Cottage tonight?"
"Unless anyone feels like a May baby is a 'go', then yeah, I'll see back at home, Danny."
Danny gave his friends a thumbs-up. "I may be back a little late, Tucker and Sam have been wanting to show me this new game at the arcade. But I promise I'll do my best to be home as fast as I can."
He heard fuzzy laughter on the other end. "That's fine, Sweetie. Enjoy your fun, get school done first, and we'll be having some rotisserie and enchilada rice."
"Sa-weet! Thanks Mom! I'll hopefully see you at five!"
Snapping his phone shut, Danny cheerfully munched away at his burger and yanked out Lancer's homework. While he began his work, his two friends watched him bug-eyed and gaping.
"Dude," Tucker shifted his glasses back into place. "Hardly ever do you do homework with a smile on your face."
Danny looked up from his short start on school work to glance at Sam. "My mom's coming home early. Hey Sam, do you have any idea what Mice and Men is about?"
"Really!" "That was last week's reading, Danny." Both exclaimed in differing tones at once.
With a hum, he glanced at the question sheet and jotted some more words down before nibbling on a salty fry.
Soon enough they also cracked down on school work – or rather, Tucker did. Their little study group went without a problem for the most part. Sam usually groaned at the idiotic and 'brainwashing' questions they had to answer for several different classes. Math was a pain, except for Tucker. He thoroughly enjoyed their suffering through complex equations and radicals and imaginary numbers. Darn that Algebra II.
Danny shivered unconsciously as he grumbled about a problem. Numbers and signs constantly revolving around his brain he almost missed the faint screams in the distance. Head shooting up, Danny looked at them both in the eye and they nodded. Racing to the restroom, a freezing sensation overwhelmed his functions as they nullified every nerve and awakened every other sense. Visible breathe appeared in front of him and he grimaced. The inner pulsing wouldn't quit and he dove through the wall, the shaky feeling not bothering him anymore.
White bangs clouded his vision slightly, so Danny rushed into the sky, weightless and freed against gravity His ice-cold heart thumped along as the pulsing strengthened the closer he got towards the clinic – his mom's workplace.
"Looks like she's heading home early, regardless." Danny bit out to himself.
Energy thrummed in his hands as he swirled into the building to find the mechanical, ghostly body of the hunter tossing the desks and files aimlessly throughout the rooms. Terrified shrills pierced the air as his altered voice chortled.
"Ah, Ghost-child." Skulker spun around with a smirk painted onto his faux face. "I have been looking for you."
Danny spun a smirk of his own, while he covertly scanned the area for his mother's signature. "In a pregnancy crisis center? I'm a dude, not a girl – you might want to have your eyes checked."
Skulker smashed into him with a flaming punch. Fiery chaos came so close to breaching the hazmat suit that Danny had to wince at the unnatural heat. Ribs complained and his skin screeched, however Danny flipped over Skulker and blasted him through the building.
"I never thought you so low, Skulkie." Danny hissed. "That place is where life begins – what we are is the complete opposite, the other side of consciousness after death. We don't belong near people like them. Got it?"
Skulker merely grinned, trading a blow to his face. The two pounced on each other, meeting the other with a punch, blast or kick, or sometimes – when roulette is played correctly you get all three. Danny slammed into the ground, ectoplasmic fluid creeping down his face.
With a scowl, he burst off the ground and wiped off the ectoplasm. He threw his arms as far apart as he could, drawing up an ectoplasmic shield. This shield didn't just shield Danny it exploded into Skulker, shoving him into the ground. Danny darted down at him and drew him up with his glowing arm. If being thrown down by a shield hadn't been embarrassing enough, the road rage Skulker was currently experiencing made up for that.
Sometimes if one is lucky enough to be near them, they can catch a sarcastic or sassy comment made by Phantom and the angry retort of Skulker.
With one final push to the ground, Danny flipped and whipped out the thermos and hit the button. Wincing at the faint feeling of the Fenton thermos pull, Danny watched the equally bruised and hurt Skulker get sucked into the thermos.
After he clipped the thermos back onto his belt, Danny flew back to the clinic.
He helped move the pregnant mothers and workers out of the torn apart building. Diligently, Danny searched and looked for his own mom. Going through the rubble and trash, he flew deeper into the building, his heart slowly catching pace to a normal pulse.
Where was she?
Danny scanned area after area, but nothing – no signature, no familiar presence.
"Phantom!" A scream resounded from outside the clinic.
The warped and battered frame and begun to shake and in all his anxiety Danny hadn't noticed the movement in the beams until just then. Tremor after tremor pulsated amongst the buildings framework until it visibly shattered down on top of him
He barreled out of the building, hoping with all hope that he would spy his mother out amongst the crowd.
He couldn't find her.
Someone ran out of the car towards the scene until a stranger stopped her. Danny, floating above them, saw her – his mother – trying to get into the mess of debris and he boyishly grinned.
Satisfied that she would be all right, he rushed back to the Nasty Burger. At this point the sun drifted downwards in the sky, painting the sky an orange color, wafting into the deeper blue. He dove into the back of the restaurant and embraced the human warmth that touched his being, pulling his lungs and heart back into a quicker motion.
Tucker and Sam stood right next to the bus stop in front of food place. Holding out his backpack was Sam. She gave him a warm look and he returned it.
"Ugh, just kiss already!" Tucker whined.
Their faces reddened instantly and they turned on their meatatarian friend. "TUCKER!"
"Stop messing with us about that already!" Sam glowered at their tech friend. "We're friends – just – friends."
After an awkward pause waiting for the bus, Tucker peered at his friend before he rolled his eyes and pointed the bench nearby. Danny rushed to feel his face, only to groan before Tucker could say anything.
Tucker shrugged. "Well, this is one of the reasons we're around, dude. We gotta look after you when you can't take care of yourself."
"I thought you only showed that kind of devotion to your PDAs." Same raised a heavy eyebrow.
Defensively, he pulled his PDA out of his backpack and close to him. "She didn't mean it, Carrie. Sam's not that mean a person."
Danny chuckled, holding his bruised cut with his hand as some sort of tourniquet. With a sigh, Sam pushed him on the bench and took off her backpack. Easily, she pulled out some bandages and cream. Sam rubbed the antibiotic cream on his cut after he cleaned it and patched it up. The threesome sat in silence for a couple minutes before the bus pulled up to the curb.
The gasping doors wheezed open and all three friends joined the few passengers. With money in the bin, the bus driver – Stan – revved the engines and they joined the evening Thursday rush. Sam was the first to leave the boys, she didn't say much, shrugged and smiled before she left. After, Tucker stepped off with a promised of Doom later that night. At the edge of the main populated area of Amity Park was the last bus stop before the next city, here is where Danny got off. He took the next couple of streets and pulled off the bandage, eager to feel the smooth skin underneath. At the end of the dead end street of Lincoln Road sat a little cottage house with a cheery light on at the door step and the delicious wafting smell of enchilada rice.
As he opened the cherry red door into the warmly decorated house, his mother stood by the kitchen doorway. Danny grinned at her and encompassed her with a hug. Many say that Danny was almost the spitting image of his mother. Her dark hair pulled back into a French plait and her sharp blue eyes twinkled and softened at her son. Danny let go of her and they walked into the kitchen.
"So how was the Arcade?"
"Oh it was fine, turned out the game wasn't as exciting as we thought."
She hummed and turned towards the frying rice. "Probably a good thing. Your grades need a little less video game and a little more participation. Cut the chicken, Sweetie?"
"Sure," He yanked a drawer open and pulled out a serrated knife and a fork. "How'd work go?"
"It wasn't too shabby, we've got some clean up to do what with the ghost attack and everything."
An ugly sound scraped the air and Danny stopped slicing the knife against the fork. Quickly, he went back to carving the rotisserie. "Sorry… Ghost attack! What ghost attack? You work at a pregnancy center, shouldn't they not attack that kind of place or something? Isn't there some sort of unspoken rule with ghosts and unborn babies or something?"
"Its fine," She laughed, stirring a little more salt into the rice. "But it doesn't matter, no one was hurt, there were births and the only ruined was the work place. And yeah, there should be some sort of a rule, but there isn't. This may be the first attack, but I doubt it will be the last." Her voice hardened at the end of her sentence. Quick as she could, she flipped off the burner and poured the food into a ceramic bowl on the kitchen table. "Ready to eat?" She smiled.
"Yeah, I guess so." He placed the remainder of the chicken on a platter next to the bowl.
They scooped their food and traded conversations about the lighter things of their day – coworkers' jokes, the insufferable Mr. Lancer, friends – and laughed it all up with a glass of milk each. The honey brown walls glowed with the candle lights that inhabited the kitchen and they were shadowed by Danny's hand shadows creating stories across the walls.
Time flew by for the young family and before they knew it some candles began to go out and food needed putting away and dishes needed to be washed. All of this done by song. However poorly or beautifully they sang, Danny's mother and Danny packaged the food and washed and dried the dishes with a smile on their face.
"From Zero to Hero-"She serenaded.
Danny piped in, "In no time flat!"
"Zero to Hero just like that!" They finished.
When the last plate clicked on top the family went to the living room. Anna sat down next to the fireplace and scripted away on a piece of paper, her face somber. As he sat down on the couch opposing the fireplace, Danny frowned.
"You good, Mom?"
Anna looked up, some strands falling into her face. "Oh, yeah, I'm fine. I just need to finish a letter for tomorrow. Which that reminds me, Danny, I've been needing to talk to you about something."
"What is it?" Danny peeked with interest.
"Yes it does have to do with the letter, but" She folded it up and set it on the wooden floor. "No, you cannot read the letter."
She moved to the couch and wrapped her left arm around his shoulders. They sat quietly for a moment. In that moment, Danny kept looking from her to the fire and back again, curiosity flooding his features. Smiling, Anna removed her arm and pushed a little away from him.
Clearing her voice, she began. "We're going to be going to New York once school lets out. Your father's-"
"Hold up, my dad?" Danny shook his head and crossed his arms, "My dad's now in the picture?"
"Sweetie, he's always been in the picture. He's always loved you, and now that you're old enough, we're going to be doing what he always hoped you would do." Anna turned her face to the fire, letting its moving light dance shadows across her face.
He groaned. "I thought we've talked about Dad! I doubt the deadbeat even has anything for us in New York! He's never been around for us, ever! He is one crazed, messed up fruit loop!"
"Your father has never been allowed to be in your life! But he loved you the minute he found out I was pregnant! Now if you're going to continue to speak this way, than you may resign to your room and no computer games."
He jumped off the couch and launched himself into his bedroom down the hall. With a final growl, he slammed the door shut. Danny glanced in the mirror long enough to see his vivid green eyes haunting him.
On the walk to school the next morning, Sam oddly said little to no words while Tucker yammered almost all the way to school. Danny couldn't quite shake the feeling that someone was watching him. As they passed by City Hall and the shopping district, distracted Danny jolted at his best friend's words.
"Uh…Danny? I didn't know you had a twin." Tucker jutted his thumb towards the shaggy-haired male with the sea-blue eyes.
His lips parted in a gasp before attempted to compose himself, "I-I don't, Tuck."
Love the R&R, Readers!