Hi everyone! So turns out, I'm not dead! And I know you all gotta be super mad at me for not updating for so long, but life happens sometimes! Anyways, it astounds me that I still had people reviewing almost a YEAR after I last posted, and that BLOWS MY MIND. You all are AMAZING. And it's thanks to you guys that I found the motivation to write again! So, despite being a year late (again, many apologies), here we are!
It was a clear and warm night, the kind that reminded Danny of long nights with Sam and Tucker on the roof of his home, his telescope sitting beside them as they laughed the night away. Of evenings staring up at the bright stars, shining against the dark canvas of the night sky, arguing about meat versus tofu, or investigating into the paranormal.
Danny tilted his head back, and briefly closed his eyes. He was forgetting them, he knew. He knew major details, such as their hobbies, their preferences, their hair, their eye colors, the dumb hats that Tucker always wore, the black lipstick that Sam always had. But he couldn't remember their favorite movies anymore, or their parents' names. He even had a hard time remembering his parents' birthdays, or the name of Jazz's favorite stuffed bear.
He wasn't surprised he was forgetting - it'd been close to a century since he landed in this dimension, just shy of ten years, but he wished it hurt less when he forgot major details. Details he knew that he would have recalled immediately were he still back in his own dimension. Details that made the entire experience more real. Nowadays, his life, his childhood, his family was starting to feel like a figment of his imagination.
Danny sighed dejectedly, and turned his attention back to his research, sinking further into the couch on the front porch. He'd done this before, long ago, when searching for Ford's journals wasn't giving them any leads. Maybe it was time to switch gears for a moment, now that the search for the journals had hit another dead end, and focus on something new before he got frustrated with the lack of leads again.
A series of girlish squeals resonated upstairs from the open attic window, and Danny winced. Mabel was inviting her new friends over more and more, and frankly, their shrieking was high enough to make his ears bleed. Props to Dipper, however, who was still up there with them.
"Makeovers!" he heard Candy exclaim, accompanied with another round of delighted screams, and rolled his eyes. Absently, he scrolled through the occult website, pausing when he found a reference to the Freemasons. He scanned through it for a moment, before he scoffed and continued on. He could believe unicorns, yetis, and ghosts, but demons? Yeah, right.
The front door slammed open, and Danny's head jerked up to see Dipper standing in the doorway with a mulish expression and a blanket and pillow tucked under his arm.
"I was wondering why you would submit yourself to that level of torture," Danny said, gesturing vaguely up towards the attic window, where another round of squeals exploded, "But now I see that definitely not the case."
"Do all girls do this?" Dipper complained, coming to take a seat beside him, and Danny shrugged.
"I don't know - my mom never really cared about appearances. She and my dad almost always wore these hazmat jumpsuits, and I barely recall her wearing anything else. Maybe some lipstick?"
"Jumpsuits?" Dipper asked, wrinkling his nose in confusion, and Danny grinned.
"You've seen it - my ghost form wears one, since I half-died in it," Danny pointed out, and grinned even more when he saw Dipper fidget uncomfortably. "And for my sister, she was more concerned about getting good grades and psychoanalyzing me and our family than sleepovers."
"So not much like Mabel, then, huh?" Dipper asked, and Danny shook his head.
"No, not really. And my girlfriend Sam would have rather vomited than wear what Mabel typically wears." He caught sight of Dipper gaping at him, and shrugged. "She was a hardcore Goth." When Dipper continued to stare, he raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"I - it's just - other than a mention here and there, you never talk about your family," Dipper said, fiddling with his blanket. He gulped, and then asked nervously, "Did something happen?"
Danny fell silent, unsure about how to proceed. He couldn't tell Dipper about growing up in an alternate dimension - that was something that Danny and Stan were not willing to risk, lest Dipper volunteer to help out and accidentally ruin years of work. But he didn't want to lie to the boy, either.
"They're...I was separated them years ago," Danny finally said, before he sighed and shut his laptop. He wasn't going to get any research done after this, not when it felt like his heart wanted to claw its way up his throat. "And I don't know how to get back to them anymore."
There was a long pause as Dipper processed this. After a moment, Dipper opened his mouth, and said, "That...sucks. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Danny reassured him with a crooked smile, and sat up with a stretch. "It's been a long time since it happened, anyways." He then turned his attention to the boy, and studied the blanket and pillow in the boy's lap. "Were you just planning on sleeping outside?" he asked, and when Dipper blushed, Danny rose to his feet. "C'mon. You can crash in my room. I can just float or something."
"What? You can do that?" Dipper asked in amazement, and he followed Danny into the house. He watched Danny change from Fenton to Phantom, and blurted, "What else can you do?"
Danny quirked a white eyebrow, and let the younger male into his room. "Maybe we should wait until morning? Unless you want to forget the sleep you so desperately wanted before."
There was a pause, and Dipper sighed, before he grumbled, "I guess I'll sleep."
Danny mockingly patted the top of Dipper's head, like a dog. "Good boy."
That night, Dipper stared up at the ceiling, then at Danny's floating (sleeping) form, then at the blinking number on Danny's alarm clock. It read 3:02 AM, and Dipper resisted the urge to groan. Ever since that conversation with Danny, his head refused to rest. Instead, his brain stuffed itself with questions about Danny, questions that he was eager to ask the halfa the next morning. But unfortunately, it also made him unable to sleep.
Het let out a quiet, indecipherable grumble, and rolled over, smothering himself in Danny's pillow. There was a moment, before he pushed himself up onto his elbows, and leaned in to sniff Danny's pillow.
"Huh," he muttered under his breath. "Apple blossom shampoo."
"Whoa, what happened last night?" Danny asked when Dipper trudged into the kitchen the next morning, heavy bags under his eyes.
"...Couldn't sleep," Dipper grumbled, sliding into the closest available chair and pouring himself a bowl of cereal.
"Really? Stan is always complaining about how my bed is comfier than his," Danny said with a confused tilt to his head.
"Well, I couldn't stop thinking last night," Dipper mumbled around his spoon, staring blearily at the bowl in front of him. "Like, what do ghosts eat, how long do they need sleep for, what's a ghost's greatest weakness, can ghosts go to the bathroom…?" He trailed off, then squinted suspiciously at Danny, who was absently flipping through a newspaper and sipping on a cup of coffee. "Do you use the bathroom?"
Danny snorted suddenly, and then yelped when hot coffee shot through his nose. With red, embarrassed cheeks, he hurriedly grabbed a napkin. "Of course I use the bathroom! I'm half-human too!" he exclaimed indignantly, doing his best to wipe the spilled coffee up.
"Yeah, but what about ghosts?" Dipper pressed, a slow grin forming on his face, and Danny rolled his eyes.
"No, because they don't exactly eat anything other than ectoplasm, which is best described as the ghostly, spiritual energy that all ghosts put out. Which answers your second question on whether or not ghosts eat."
"Huh. Cool." Dipper yawned, and finished his bowl of cereal. "I'm going upstairs for a second. I need something to write this all down, or there's no way I'll remember it."
"Great," Danny muttered sarcastically, and tried to clean off the front of his white shirt. "Come find me when you do, preferably not while I'm drinking boiling hot liquids."
After thirty minutes and no sign of Dipper, Danny went to change shirts before he met up with Stan in the living room.
"The stuff we find in TV nowadays," he said in amusement when Stan paused on a show called "Baby Fights," and the conman smiled happily as babies slapped each other in a miniature boxing ring.
"TV! It knows what I want," he said brightly, before Dipper and Mabel ran into the room. The twins were both sporting scowls, and they stopped right in front of Stan.
"Grunkle Stan? We want different rooms," Dipper declared angrily, and Stan laughed in their frowning faces.
"And I want a pair of magic money pants," he commented with a wiggle of his eyebrows, "but it's not gonna happen."
"Magic money pants?" Mabel repeated, confused, and Danny snorted.
"Pants that somehow always have money in the pockets," Danny explained, and then felt a rush of shame that he even knew what his longtime friend meant by that.
"Come on, Grunkle Stan," Dipper complained. "Can't we work something out?"
"Look, kid, there's my room, Danny's room, and the room in the attic. That's it," Stan snorted, and reclined back into his seat with a noncommittal wave of his hand. "What do you think, there's some kind of secret hidden room in the Shack?" Stan asked with a disbelieving roll of his eyes.
A crashing sound exploded from the back of the shack, accompanied with a shout from Soos. To Danny, it was if the fates themselves were mocking Stan, and he couldn't have been happier with the outcome. "Dudes! I just found some kind of secret room in the Shack!"
"You know..." Danny said, as Dipper and Mabel bolted down the hall.
"Shut it, Casper!"
"But seriously -" Danny tried again, ready to mock Stan and his impeccable timing, and Stan scowled before stomping after them.
There was a pause, before Danny spoke again. "You know whose room that has to be," Danny said softly, and Stan stopped dead in his tracks before his shoulders slumped.
"...Shut it," he whispered, before he trailed after the twins.
Danny sighed, and caught up to his friend before he wrapped a comforting arm around the older man's shoulders.
"...This old shack is full of weird secrets," Soos was saying when the pair caught up to the twins, gesturing at a familiar, old door. Stan grimaced, and took in a deep, fortifying breath when Soos opened the door.
It'd been years since Stan placed the bookshelf in front of it, and it was easy to see when the door opened up to reveal a room covered in cobwebs.
The twins stepped into the room, and immediately began to explore. Mabel blew off the dust on an old mirror, coughing all the way, while Dipper knelt down to inspect the blue shag rug.
"Experiment seventy-eight?" he asked, confused, yet intrigued. "Grunkle Stan, what is this place?"
Grunkle Stan cleared his throat, and stepped into the room. Danny could tell that he was purposely keeping his voice gruff, so that the twins nor Soos would notice the flood emotions he was holding back. "Just another room I gotta clean up now."
Danny's heart just about broke at the sight of a pair of glasses that Stan picked up, and he watched as the conman easily slid them into his pocket without anyone else knowing.
"This carpet is amazing!" Mabel exclaimed, falling down onto the rug and making rug angels into the shag.
"Yeah, if you're into things that are terrible," Stan muttered bitterly, unhappily, and Danny placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Problem solved," Dipper said cheerfully, grabbing a key off of a hook near the door. "I'll move in here!"
"What?" Mabel complained, "Why do you automatically get the room? We both saw it at the same time!"
And then, the unhappy look on Stan's face shifted. It morphed into something that Danny knew he should probably stop, but decided that it was better if it simply played out and took Stan's mind off of things.
"Wait a second," Stan declared, striding fully into the room and snatching the key from Dipper's hand. "So you both want this room, huh?" He glanced between the twins, considering, before a conniving grin spread across his face. "I guess I'll give the room to whichever twin I like more!"
And with a flourish, he leaned down, and untied his shoe.
"Uh oh, looks like my shoe's untied," he said loudly, dramatically.
Danny watched the twins process that, staring blankly at their Great-Uncle's shoe, before they both leapt forward, like a pair of dogs chasing after the same rabbit. They began to smack one another, yelling.
"Give it to me!"
Stan cackled, "To the kitchen! Fight, fight, fight!" He left the room, a large, devilish grin on his face, and the twins made to follow, when Soos moved to block their path.
"I don't know, dudes," he said, twiddling his thumbs with a quick, nervous glance around the room. "This room is gives me major creep-o-vibes. Y'know, the attic is a pretty good space." Wisely, he added, "Maybe you two should appreciate what you've got."
There was a moment as the twins processed this, before they bolted past the handyman.
"I want that room!"
Soos scratched underneath his ball cap. "Huh, what do I know?" he asked, before he bent down to pick up his broom again. "Maybe there's nothing creepy going on in this room."
Danny cast a quick glance, and turned his attention to Soos. "I'd still be careful," he warned. "You never know, especially since this place had a previous owner."
"It did? Huh, you learn something new every day," Soos said as he began to sweep.
Danny looked around again, and with another sigh, quickly left the room.
He found Stan in the kitchen, complimenting himself. "Ah, Stan, you're a good uncle," he declared, as Mabel's voice ironically cried from the backyard, "I'll kill you!"
"You doing okay?" he asked, and Stan grimaced, then deflated with a sigh.
"What do you want me to say? If I wanted to see Ford's room, I wouldn't have hidden it behind a bookcase in the first place," he said unhappily. "Maybe if one of the twins turns it into their own room, it won't sucker-punch me in the chest the next time I see it."
"Do you want to come with me and help me get rid of anything incriminating?" Danny asked, patting Stan sympathetically on the shoulder. "I won't blame you if you don't."
"What, and think I'm a pansy?" Stan slapped his hand away, and scowling, he marched himself back over to the newly-discovered room. "Save your sympathy! I'll go and take care of that nerd's stuff by myself if I have to!"
"C'mon, Stan, you know I don't mean it like that," Danny argued, following after his friend and shooing Soos out when he noticed the handyman still cleaning. He waited until Soos was gone before continuing, "I know what it's like to be faced with someone you've lost. I'm not trying to make fun of you or anything like that."
"Shut it, Casper!" Stan snapped, glaring around the room like it personally offended him, and Danny ignored how the corner of Stan's lips twisted downward. "It's been years, and he could be dead for all I know! You're just from an alternate universe!"
Danny opened his mouth, and then paused, before he closed his eyes and fought against the rising tide of emotion and hurt that suddenly flooded through him. Unbeknownst to them, static electricity began to twine around their shoes, building up a charge that rivaled the spike in tension between the two.
"Stan," he said, as calmly as he could, but he knew that Stan could hear the halfa's voice break. "Think of how long I have been here. I've been in this world since 1922. Before I landed here, I didn't even have grandparents that lived for more than seventy years. It's been almost a hundred years since I've come here. What makes you think the rest of my family is still alive?"
Stan sucked in a startled breath, realization and guilt slamming into him with the force of a wrecking ball. He reached forward, with the intention of grabbing Danny by the arm when the halfa spun on his heel to leave the room. "Danny, wait -!"
Sparks leapt between his fingers to Danny's arm, and the whole world went white.
Danny groaned as he came to. "Why does my body hurt everywhere?" he moaned, and struggled to push himself up into a sitting position. He blinked and demanded, "Why is everything so fuzzy?"
He was rubbing at his eyes when a familiar voice said, "Ugh, I feel like I just drank fifteen cups of coffee."
Danny's voice. His clone?
Danny frowned in confusion, and paused in the middle of rubbing his eyes when he realized that a ring was scraping against his forehead with each eye rub.
But Danny didn't wear a ring.
He opened his eyes, and squinted at his hands. They were gnarled, and aged, covered with knuckle hair, with a thick, gaudy ring adorning his index finger.
With a growing dread of suspicion, Danny felt around himself, and froze when his hand encountered a set of glasses. Slowly, he grabbed them and put them on.
Immediately, his vision cleared, and he found himself staring at...himself.
At first, he thought it was his clone, but when the "clone" simply stared at him in horror, before grabbing at his face and practically shrieking, "What the heck?!"
"What?" Danny asked, and started when the voice that emerged from his mouth was Stan's. The creeping feeling of dread broke into an all-out sprint, and he tried grasping for that icy-cold ghostly core inside of him, only to stare at his "clone" in terror when he felt nothing. "Stan?!"
"What's happening?!" Stan screamed, before looking down at himself. "Did you do some weird ghost voodoo?!"
"What? Why would I?!" Danny snapped back, before rising to his feet with a groan. "Ow. Wow, your body is falling apart."
"Tell me about it," Stan grumbled, before he hopped to his feet. He wobbled as he nearly overbalanced, and 'Danny's' blue eyes widened in surprise. "Geez, do you always feel like this?"
"I guess," Danny said with a wince as he popped his back. "Ugh. Ow."
"What happened?" Stan asked, tilting his head and grimacing when shaggy black hair fell in front of his face. He batted it out of his face, and added, "The last thing I remember is you complaining about getting stuck in this dimension."
Danny stilled, before he turned narrowed brown eyes on Stan. "Complaining?" he repeated slowly, furiously, and Stan blanched.
"Okay, maybe that wasn't the best choice of words -"
"Okay, here's a complaint," Danny snapped, striding forward and poking Stan - well, himself - in the chest. "You're a terrible friend! You don't seem to care that I've dedicated almost fifty years of my life trying to get your brother back here, instead of searching for a way back myself! I've wasted half a century trying to help you out!" Danny made to storm out, when a thought occurred to him.
"Oh, and Stan," he added, pausing in the doorway to Stanford's room, "I would refrain from using my ghost powers. You might blast the entire town off the map if you use it irresponsibly."
And with that grim warning, Danny swept out of the room.
In the silence that followed, Stan sighed, and whispered to himself, "Stan, you're an old fool."
Dipper scowled as he mowed the lawn. He paused to wipe off some sweat, and snuck a glance at the man sitting on the porch sofa. Stan seemed...unhappy. Surlier, grumpier. And oddly enough, he was drinking Corko-Cola, something that Dipper had never seen his great-uncle drink before.
Dripper sucked in a deep breath, and began to push the lawnmower again. He paused again when he reached the porch, just in time to hear Grunkle Stan mutter to himself.
"...I swear, if he even attempts to shoot off an ice beam, I'm going to suck him up into the thermos so fast, he'll think he's being flushed down the toilet," he heard Stan grumble, and wisely decided to stay out of that conversation.
What did that even mean?
"Hey, uh, Danny," 'Stan' said as he fidgeted near the fridge, and 'Danny' scowled, digging into a plate of scrambled eggs that looked like Stan's face. "Hey, can we talk?"
"Not now, Stan, I'm busy ignoring you," he said, and Stan grimaced.
"Well, can I at least grab something to eat without you glaring me out of the room?" he asked, opening the fridge. "I feel like my stomach is gnawing a hole into itself." His stomach rumbled, and Stan grabbed the first thing he could find, a slice of pizza. Immediately, he crammed it into his mouth. "Are you always this hungry?"
"No, because I'm good about keeping my big fat mouth shut," Danny muttered, and threw down his fork. "Forget it, I'm not eating this." And without another word, Danny left.
"Casper, come on!" Stan whined around his pizza, hurriedly swallowing it and wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "You can't be mad at me forever!" Silence was his only reply, before Stan called, "Can I eat the omlet?!" When Danny failed to reply, Stan hesitated, then nodded to himself. "I'm going to eat the omlet. I mean, it's my face."
About an hour later, Stan managed to track Danny down. Mostly by accident - he accidentally phased through the shack's floor and ended up sprawled down in the hidden basement. Funnily enough, Danny was sprawled next to him, just planted face-down on the floor as well.
"Casper?" Stan asked hesitantly, and pushed himself up onto his elbows. "What're you doing here?"
"I was going to work on the portal because I wanted to avoid you, but then I fell and your body decided to hate me," Danny grunted, not bothering to move. "I thought you stretched every night."
"Yeah, I, uh, I've been kind of neglecting that," Stan admitted. "Not like you're any better! I literally fell through the floor!"
"Yeah, that'll probably keep happening until we manage to switch back," Danny muttered, raising his head. "It was that carpet, right? I can't think of any other way, because you shocked me when you touched me, and everything blanked out after that."
"I think so," Stan said, before he flopped onto his back. He looked over at Danny, and his forehead creased. "Look, I'm sorry," he finally said, his voice quiet in the empty basement. "You know I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you."
"Well, you probably would be," Danny pointed out. "Just not as successful."
"True," Stan agreed, smiling a little. Then, his smile fell, replaced with a more serious expression. "But Danny, if we somehow manage to get my brother back, then we'll be able to get you home. Ford's nerdy enough to be able to figure it out."
Danny exhaled, and nodded in agreement. "I trust you," he said. "And I'm sorry too."
"You have nothing to be sorry about," Stan scoffed, before he got to his feet. He held a hand out to Danny and gave his best friend a wide grin. "We good?"
"Yeah, we're good," Danny said, and reached up to grab the offered hand.
...Only for Danny's hand to phase through Stan's and smack against the concrete floor.
"Dude," Danny said with a scowl, and Stan grimaced.
"Not intentional, I swear," he protested, waving his intangible hand. "I don't know how this works!"
"Just focus on making it solid for a second," Danny said, and after a moment, grabbed the offered limb. "There we go. If you keep thinking that your body shouldn't be falling through things, then you'll be fine."
"It shouldn't be falling through things in the first place!" Stan complained sourly as he pulled Danny to his feet.
Together, they walked over to the elevator, while Stan continued to loudly exclaim, "And your body is always freezing, you know that?"
"Yup. Also, I think you broke the twins earlier, you know that? I just had Mabel come in and give me a sandwich filled with rocks, and Dipper poured cereal all over himself."
Stan paused. "Yeah...I think I should probably talk to both of them. I had to awkwardly give Dipper the talk earlier, which I don't think he was too happy with, since it's - y'know, you. And I don't think he accepted the fact that it was technically Danny giving him the key, instead of Stan."
They were quiet for a moment as the elevator rose, and Danny spoke.
"We will never mention this to anyone."
After a few moments, they managed to figure out a way to switch back, and Danny sighed in relief, reaching for that ghostly core before his eyes lit up with an unearthly green light.
Stan patted himself down instead, before sighing in relief. "Thank goodness. I was worried I'd be a freak forever!"
"A pleasure, as always," Danny said with a roll of his eyes. He shifted forms, and floated up off the ground. "I'm going to get back to researching, if you don't mind. You were going to talk to Soos about his pay, right?"
"Oh, right!" Stan brightened. "I was going to go and cut it!" he darted out of the room, and Danny, stunned, took a moment to process before he hurried after Stan.
Moments later, Danny laughed hysterically as Stan shuddered from the experience.
"Shut it, Casper!"
"Your - your face!" Danny choked, then burst out into laughter again.
"Ugh," Stan groaned, scrubbing at his face where Soos touched him. "What the heck was that? With that snorting- urrgh!" Stan shuddered again. "Does he normally drool that much?!"
"Not that I know of," Danny snorted, and scowling, Stan threw the towel he used at Danny's head.
"You're the worst," he said with a growing smile. "Wanna watch some Baby Fights with me?"
Stan moved to sit down on the couch, but shifted when something moved in his pocket. Reaching in, he froze when he pulled out Ford's old glasses. He sighed again, and Danny clapped him on the shoulder.
"Don't worry," he assured quietly, "We'll get him back."
"And then we'll get you home," Stan replied in turn, and together, they shared small smiles. Ignoring the twins shouting (they must have started fighting again, Danny thought absently), they turned up the volume on the TV, and settled down together to watch babies fight.
So life has been a little crazy - I never got that job overseas, but I did get a steady job near my hometown! I also moved into a new apartment, got a new car, and finally, adopted a stray kitten, which is the main reason why I haven't had much chance to write. Gouda (now running around at five months old), LOVES to sit on my keyboard, because she's also a gigantic asshole like most cats. So I blame her for my inability to write.
But again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! Thank you all for supporting me, even after such a long break! I'll be trying to get back into the habit of writing every week, and I have big plans for this story as well! See you all in about two weeks!
Posted and Edited: 1/31/2019, 12:22 PM EST.