This one-shot won my poll by the most votes, so voilà, here it is. Lots of thanks to Angela Ravenclaw for betaing this one shot. You rock!
This thing was birthed from a talking to my dad gave me after I took an unnecessary risk ... showed me a video over and over and over again of this professional who died doing an amped up (really, really, really amped up) version of what I was trying to do ... I'm kind of a daredevil.
He kept repeating that he couldn't sleep that night ... dragged me up a freakin' 6 in the morning to talk with me. And I kind of figured, man, I didn't even get hurt and this is how my dad reacts? What the heck must Danny's parents be feeling? And thus, this is the result.
Disclaimer: Ha, I wish. *looks over shoulder for Desiree*
Without further ado,
By The Mishmosh Bird
Maddie Fenton is ashamed to admit that she wished she never knew her son's secret.
Danny had always been adventurous. The first to leap, the last to look. She remembered the days when she'd lie awake at night, unable to rid her mind of the image of her eleven-year-old son, knocked unconscious after attempting to backflip off a diving board. Well, she remembered thinking, this is as terrified as I'm going to get. And she had believed that right up until she found out Danny's secret.
As Danny got older, he seemed to grow a lot more cautious. Preferring to duck away from danger instead of confronting it. Running off the moment ghosts came around the corner. Maddie wasn't sure what brought on this change, but she nailed it down to Danny growing up and breathed a sigh of relief. Imagine, she had thought, if Danny was adventurous now as he had been before! He'd probably go off to hunt Phantom solo!
When Maddie, oh the irony, learned that her son was Danny Phantom, she realized that he never lost his daredevil streak after all. It just manifested itself in other ways.
Maddie hunted her own son. How many of his injuries was she responsible for? How close had she come to killing her son? How many times a day does Danny brush with death?
"Danny, you can't keep doing this," Sam wrung out a blood-soaked towel, "you'll get yourself killed one of these days!"
"Take it easy, Sam, I'm fine."
"If you didn't have your healing, I would have needed to give you stitches," Sam sighed, "I don't know what's worse. The injury or the fact that you don't care you almost died."
"Oh, come on, I didn't almost die. It was just a small accident, Valerie didn't mean anything by it."
"And that's another thing! This is the girl you go to school with, the girl you dated. She cuts your back open with a goddamn ecto-sword and you just say she didn't mean anything by it."
"Sam, it's healing already. I'll be okay by tomorrow. It's only a little cut."
"Yeah," Sam scoffed, "a little cut that's been bleeding for four hours straight. Here, let's get it wrapped up."
Before, Maddie had been safe in the illusion that her son was normal. That he wasn't coming home littered in bruises and cuts. That there wasn't a very real likelihood she would find out her son's identity in the hospital, with him lying on his deathbed. Or after he died.
Oh, who was she kidding? That was exactly how she found out.
The crowd had been as quiet as the dead when the Fenton Jet crashed into the mountain in a fiery explosion. The Disasteroid could be seen now. It blotted out the sun, plunging them into shadow. Jack had grabbed her and Jazz, pulling them close, saying something that Maddie couldn't hear over the ringing in her ears. Something had gone wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.
"I love you too, Dad," she heard Jazz say.
"At least we're all together," she herself said, needing something to hold onto. If she and her family had to die that day, they would die in each other's arms. The words had meant to comfort, so Maddie was startled to see her daughter begin to cry at her words.
"I … oh Mom, there's something you need to know..." Jazz's gaze fell on Danny.
Maddie hadn't seen much of Danny since the Disasteroid crises. She had shared a plane with Jazz when they spread the cables while Jack had flown Danny. And she had been so focused on Phantom the entire time, embroiled with her inner dilemma of whether or not she should take a ghost at his word or speak up against his plan, she hadn't had the time to check in with Danny. Did something happen to him?
Maddie walked to her son for a closer look. Something about his hair seemed off and, as she reached for it, it slipped just slightly. Maddie pulled it off and it became clear what the issue was.
"A robot?! Where's Danny? Jasmine, where's your brother?!"
Jazz had looked over at the smoking wreckage of the Fenton Jet, and Maddie's world crumbled.
"JACK!" Her voice was ragged, shot through with denial, "where's Danny?!"
But Maddie had known, oh in her bones. In her gut she knew. Her Danny, her little boy, Danny Phantom, laid in the smoking crater on the mountainside.
For four, agonizing, searing seconds, Maddie thought that her son was dead.
Maddie hadn't slept since she learned her son's secret and she knew it showed in her haggard appearance.
She had been blind before, but now she saw things for what they were. His nervous ticks shone clear in her mind's eye, the way he'd stutter whenever Maddie or Jack brings out another ghost hunting device. The way he'd get sullen and down whenever Jack or Maddie starts rambling about experimenting on or disintegrating Danny Phantom (God, Maddie said in front of her own son that she wanted to vivisect him).
The way Danny would let out pained groans from his room that now seems impossible to ignore (she had no idea how she could have before). The sound of him shuffling around and pulling out something heavy, which would unlock with a click. Maddie never sniffed around, but she just knew that it was an extensive first aid kit. Maddie had always wondered why there was so much ash in their garbage, but now she suspected it was Danny disposing of his bloody bandages.
Was this what Danny saved up his money for? First aid supplies?
Every night, Maddie yearned to talk to her son. To stop him from going out and risking his life. But as loathe as Maddie was to admit, Amity Park needs Danny Phantom. More so than they need the Fentons. More so than they need the Red Huntress. More so than the GIW, or god forbid, the Masters Blasters, Danny Phantom had been there from the start. As much as Maddie Fenton hates it, Danny's powers placed him on equal footing with the ghosts, an advantage no other ghost hunter could ever hope to
"Stop in the name of all things pure and non-ecto!" Jack Fenton shouted.
"That's right ghost, we got you surrounded," the Red Huntress added, "you better surrender if you know what's good for you!"
"My, my, aren't you a big girl now?" It was a female voice, silky-smooth and dangerous, that drifted from the shadowy creature, "what are you going to do, shoot me like you shot Danny? Like you shot Danielle?"
The Red Huntress froze.
"How did you know about that?" her voice shook in a way that caught Maddie's attention.
"None of your business you post-mortem blob of ectoplasmic human conscience!" Maddie said.
The creature looked at her with its otherworldly red eyes, "You … I've got some words for you too. But for now ... Bertrand! Keep her and the oaf distracted while I have a talk with the little girl."
A green ghost-snake slithered out from the shadows and Maddie only had enough time to think, 'who the heck names their snake Bertrand?' before it wrapped itself around her, intent on crushing her ribs.
Maddie tried to keep her focus on getting out of Bertrand's grip, Jack was certainly doing his utmost to yank the snake off her, but out of the corner of her ear, she heard the shadow-ghost crooning,
"He'll never forgive you for the pain you caused him. You're a spoiled little girl, hiding behind anger and rage because you can't face yourself and what a horrible person you are. Don't you know how many nights he spent, nursing injuries that you gave him? Don't you know how often his friends cursed your name and cringed at the sight of you? Aw, you're in denial, how adorable."
And then Red's defiant reply, "No! I'm strong! I have a 9th-degree black belt, I-I have weapons. I can blast you to smithereens!"
"Then why don't you?" the creature's words were calculated, "If you can break free right now, why not? I'll tell you why, little girl, it's because I'm right. You know it. I know it. You can't help but listen because deep down, you agree with me. Deep down, you can't help but cling to my every word."
Maddie knew that the words weren't directed at her, but she reeled back from them regardless. She was exactly like the Red Huntress, except instead of hiding behind the roaring fire of vengeance, she stuck her head in the ground and refused to see truth. Maddie was a horrible mother. A horrible person. How did Danny stand her? How did he find it in himself not to hate her guts?
"Come on, Mads, you're free!" Jack's voice startled her out of her reverie, "Let's go help Red!"
Maddie swayed. She was dizzy and her vision danced. She really didn't want to go near the shadowy creature. The cruel ghost and its words like shards of glass.
"Mads?" Jack's voice changed, becoming gentle. He can't have known how hard the creature's words had struck her, but he wrapped her up in his arms just the same and Maddie loved him for it, "Hey, Mads, it's alright. Hey, it's alright, okay?"
Maddie felt angry with herself. How could she have crumbled into a useless mess at a few words that weren't even for her? Maddie was stronger than this. And speaking of who the words were meant for…
"Jack! Where's the Red Huntress?"
Jack looked around and blinks, "I don't know. Wasn't she here just now?"
"We have to help her! We left her alone with that-that thing. Who knows what it's going to-"
"Ahem, uh, hello, Phantom here...?"
Maddie turned around to find herself face to face with Danny Phantom. Her son. Maddie's mind fogged up.
"I, uh, I got Red, then she flew off. And Spectra, that shadowy ghost? She's right here."
Danny gestured to the Fenton Thermos he had clipped to his belt.
"Danny-boy, could I take that and go run some experiments?" Danny gave Jack a sharp look, "I swear I won't rip it apart molecule by molecule. I only want to scan its powers. We got caught off guard this time. That won't happen again."
Danny considered it, "You promise you won't hurt Spectra too bad?"
Danny handed Jack the Thermos and he took off with it. Then the ghost - her son - turned to face Maddie.
"Bertrand got away, he ran off before I could get him. Sorry."
That remark knocked some sense back into Maddie.
"Honey, what are you saying sorry for? Red, your father and I working together hadn't been able to defeat this … Spectra and you caught her single-handed. We can always go find the snake later."
"Uh," Danny seemed awfully awkward for someone talking to his own mother. Then again, Maddie reminded herself, you haven't been much of a mother, have you? "He's not just a snake. Bertrand can shapeshift, he's usually a short man dressed like a butler. And getting Spectra wasn't that hard. She was distracted and I got the jump on her. If it was one-on-one, I would have a lot more trouble."
Maddie was disturbed to hear this. Danny had faced off against Bertrand and Spectra on his own before, many times too, judging by the familiarity with which he spoke of them. What if Spectra said something to Danny? And taking down Bertrand was no walk in the park either. What if Danny got hurt? What if … wait a minute...
"Young man, aren't you supposed to be in school?"
Danny pointed to the left and Maddie followed his gaze. A wall of distinctive brown bricks peeked out from around the corner, the Star Spangled Banner waving merrily from atop its point. If Maddie tried to, she could almost hear Danny's classmates cheering. Spectra and Bertrand had attacked just a block away from Casper High.
"My ghost sense went off and, well, I'm never one to ignore a ghost attack. Besides, Mr Martinez let me out."
Maddie hesitated. It would be unfair to punish Danny for saving them from Spectra, but she really didn't want to give him the idea that skipping school to fight ghosts was okay.
"Just don't do it again, alright honey?"
"Mom, what if I need to? What if you need help?"
Maddie desperately wanted to say that they won't need help again. That she, Jack and the Red Huntress were more than capable of handling those ghosts, but then she'd be lying. Today's incident proved her wrong. And who was to say that Red is an adult? Spectra had called her a little girl and when her voice wavered, she had sounded so young. For all Maddie knew, Red could be Danny's age. How could Maddie justify letting Red fight while refusing her son? Especially when she actually needed her son's help?
"Alright. I'll make you a deal, Danny. Leave the ghost fighting to us during the day. That way you have time for school and homework. But if there's anything we can't handle on our own or need help with, we'll leave it for you, okay? And we can all pick out a time at night when you don't have anything to do, and we'll take care of things together, does that sound fair?"
The only reason Maddie allowed Danny to go out at night was because he insisted that half-ghosts didn't need as much sleep as regular people. He had told her that four hours made for a restful night while two hours are more than enough to get by. If the lab results hadn't supported this, there was no way Maddie would have allowed her son to fly off after hours.
Danny had paused a bit before he gave her a curt nod.
Click! The sound stroked the base of Maddie's neck. Jack snored beside her, as loud as ever. There was no way she heard such a soft sound over her husband's snoring. She must have imagined it. Her thoughts were on Danny and her mind conjured some phantom sound coming from his room. Maddie almost had herself convinced before a pained groan filtered through the walls followed by staccato grunts and the sound of ripping fabric.
Maddie endured the sounds for a whole three seconds before climbing out of bed.
Enough was enough.
Maddie found Danny Phantom in his room holding a cloth soaked through with green tight against his right tricep. He had his alien-green eyes screwed shut and he was taking in slow, deep breaths. It pained Maddie to recognize it as a technique she had taught him for managing pain.
The reaction was immediate. Danny lept up from his place on the bed into a defensive stance.
"I-it's not how it looks," Danny sounded strangled, "I promise your son isn't hurt, I-I-I I'll just be leaving. Yeah. See? I'm leaving." He edged toward the window.
"Danny, it's alright. I know, remember?" Maddie kept her voice light and soothing, "I know you're my son."
Danny froze up for a moment before relaxing, tension draining from his shoulders.
"Sorry," the ghost boy let out a self-deprecating laugh, "force of habit, you know?"
Maddie did know, but all the same, the fact that this reaction was a habit at all sent a scorching wave of self-loathing through her.
"Honey, you're hurt. Let me help."
Danny looked from his limp arm to her outstretched one before sighing.
"Yeah. Yeah, okay."
Maddie reached into the open first aid kit and pulled out a roll of gauze. Gingerly, as though tending a wild animal, Maddie wrapped the white material around, around, around. Green soaked through the cloth.
"Danny...you know that I care about you, right?"
Danny looked at her, clearly wondering where Maddie was going with this, "Yeah...?"
"Honey, this is important to me. I need you to answer honestly. You know that I love you right?"
She looked up from the bandaging with a sudden, burning need for him to know. To understand that she didn't mean a word of what she said back before she knew his secret, not a word. That she now saw how shortsighted she was, how she utterly failed at being the parent he deserved.
The ghost boy, her son, looked up at her with those green eyes.
"Yes, Mom. I know."
Something in Maddie calmed at his sincere tone. She continued.
"And as your mother, as someone who loves you, you have to understand that this-this hero thing is hard. This past week, I couldn't sleep. And it's not because of your father's snoring either,"-she attempted to joke but it fell flat. Maddie sighed, "I'm worried about you, Danny. I'm so worried about you."
"But Mom, I've been doing this for years-"
"I know, honey. I know that. But I-look, back before I knew your secret, I worried over your grades and your-your future and the fact that you always seemed to be skipping class. Even when I was just about convinced that you were taking drugs-"
"Mom! I'd never. I can't believe you would think-"
"I know, honey. I don't think that anymore. But my point is, even then, I didn't worry over you dying. I didn't worry that one of these days you'll meet a ghost you can't beat, that you'd leave class with-with your classmates cheering you on and then you don't come back. Whatever they say, Danny, they don't love you like I do. Like Sam and Tucker and your father does. They'd ooh and ahh and they'd happily stand by and watch as you're smashed into concrete headfirst. They just want to see action and you're entertaining. They'll watch you fly off into danger without a care in the world. I don't want you taking unnecessary risks and being all heroic to impress them, or something. They're not worth losing your life over, Danny...I-I'm terrified for you," Maddie realized the truth in her words even as she said them, "absolutely terrified. And I'm not just saying that. You don't understand because you don't have your own kid, thank goodness for that, but the one thing that terrifies every parent is outliving their child. Maybe it's selfish, but I'd rather die than outlive you. And considering what you do every day, h-how you'd take all these risks since long before I even knew...it's scary, Danny. It's really scary for me to wake up and realize that you could've died as Danny Phantom and...I could've been the one to pull the trigger-"
Maddie cut herself off. She took a calming breath before continuing.
"At the same time, Danny, it's amazing. After everything I put you through as a ghost hunter, as your Mom, everything I've seen on TV and with my own eyes, I feel ... so blessed that you're still here. That you don't hate me. But you're still going out there. You still insist on fighting off the strongest ghosts and not letting us help. You still sneak off every night, don't think I didn't notice! The fact that you're still here, alive and well after everything ... it blows my mind every time I look at you, Danny. Every moment I see you alive and well is like an amazing second chance that I don't deserve. A-and every time you leave to fight ghosts, I just, I worry that all this will come to an end."
Maddie stopped talking and found herself physically incapable of looking in her son's luminescent eyes. She saw with a start that she had yet to finish securing his bandage and quickly did so.
"I'm worried sick," she whispered into his shoulder.
Maddie gave her head a quick shake, setting her thoughts back on track.
"Are you injured anywhere else, honey?"
Danny shook his head jerkily, "N-no."
He was silent and still as stone.
"Honey?" Maddie said, jerking her head back up to face him, but Danny had his head turned away. Oh no, did she say something wrong? Is Danny upset with her for being overprotective? Is she being blind again, missing something obvious that she should've-
A sniffle interrupted her thoughts.
"Danny, are you … crying?"
Another sniffle and Danny's left hand reached up to wipe at his eyes. The white glove came away wet and tinted an odd green.
Danny let out a jagged breath, startlingly out in the solemn atmosphere, "I... th-thank you. Mom, thank you. I needed that. I-I'm so-"
His voice cut off and he let out a ragged sob, "thank you."
"Sh, sh, it's alright honey. I've got you." Without another thought, Maddie allowed her maternal instincts to take over and she wrapped her arms around her baby, "Let it all out, honey. It's okay to cry."
Danny turned and buried his face into her shoulder. Maddie tenderly patted his back. They stayed like that, mother and son locked in an embrace until the ghost boy's crying died down to gentle hiccups.
"D-do you want me to-hic-to transform?"
The words were so quiet, Maddie almost missed them.
"What do you mean, honey?"
Danny took a shuttering breath and looked at her with bright, bright eyes.
"Do you want me to tr-transform into-hic-Danny Fenton?"
Maddie was surprised, "No! Lord, no! Of course not! Ghosts heal faster than humans, I thought it was very smart of you to remain in ghost form. Why would I want you to transform?"
"I dunno, I just thought it might be-hic-weird for you since Danny Phantom used to-hic-to be Public Enemy number one and all. It wouldn't make much d-difference if-hic-if I change now, the only serious wound has stopped bl-bleeding anyway-"
"Don't you dare! Young man, you had better stay a ghost until everything is properly healed, you hear me?"
Danny's lips quirked up in a small smile. Maddie's heart melted.
"You can sleep in your ghost form, right?"
"Then sleep like this. You should be healed by morning."
"Alright," Maddie eased herself back onto her feet and shuffled over to the door, overcome with a long-overdue wave of exhaustion. She stifled a yawn.
"G'night, honey. Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite."
Satisfied, Maddie left. She shuffled, bleary-eyed down the hall. Her hand slipped on the door nob twice before getting it open. She collapsed onto her bed, wondering if her mattress had always been this soft. Maddie closed her eyes with a contented sigh the moment her head hit the pillow.
For the first time in a week, Maddie's sleep was gentle.
And...that...is...a...wrap! Lame ending, sorry.
So, what did you guys think? If enough people ask for it, I might turn this into a two-shot and write up something from Danny's perspective, or maybe Valerie's...
And a super special brownie point to whoever catches the reference to Avatar the Last Airbender ;P
Thanks for reading,