Author's Introduction:

I really do enjoy this series. I can relate to a ton of the characters. Lots of the time I can relate to Sam, who's full of honesty and integrity and is constantly disappointed because she expects the same from others. Other times I can relate to Danny, who just wants to do good and be happy, and still ends up fading away a piece at a time over the course of the day.

And some of the time I can relate to Jasmine Fenton—who often feels like she's babysitting the world. This is for the Jazzes of the world, for their lost sleep and their worrying, their term papers and complaints. I know it's hard for you, too.

Obligatory disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Danny Phantom, but if I ever run into Butch Hartman I'm going to offer to buy him a drink. I also don't own any elements of the song Ordinary World, which is by the legendary Duran Duran, and can be found on "The Wedding Album" (among other places).

Ordinary World

A Danny Phantom fanfiction

Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly
I turned on the lights, the TV, and the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you
What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some are saying
Where is the light that I recognize?
Gone away
But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way to the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

(Ordinary World, Duran Duran)

Chapter One: The Only Normal Fenton

It was the mornings that Jasmine Fenton liked the best. After the alarm went off, but before she cast off the covers and rose to wade into the day. When she was just starting to wake, but her mind was still relaxed and receptive to dreaming.

She'd imagine her day—downstairs, where her mother would be at the stove, breakfast ready on the table. Her father would already be seated, dressed perhaps in a pinstriped suit and precisely knotted tie, leisurely enjoying pancakes before heading off to work. Her younger brother Danny would be pouring maple syrup onto his plate, watching the time so as not to be late for school. She'd drift into the kitchen, and they would all say, "Good mor—"

Loud thumping, a crash and shouting tore Jazz's dream to shreds. The pounding of running footsteps grew louder as they passed Jazz's closed door, then faded back to inaudibility as they continued down the hall to Danny's room.

"Keep that goddamned thing away from me!" her brother screamed, and then the sound of a slamming door chased the last vestiges of sleep from Jazz's brain.

A beeping sound approached Jazz's door, accompanied by her father's deep voice. "I don't understand why this thing keeps insisting Danny is a ghost! Hunk of junk."

Her father, although he didn't know it, was right on both counts—Danny was a ghost. And the machine—whatever it was this time—was definitely a hunk of junk.

Jazz threw the covers off and padded to her dresser, her fantasy morning once again shot to hell by reality. There were no peaceful breakfasts in the Fenton house. There was no peaceful anything in the Fenton house. Ghost-hunting parents who couldn't even tell their own son was half-ghost. No wonder Danny was always jumping at shadows lately.

Jazz had found out her brother's secret entirely by accident—that he was half human, half ghost—but once she had seen the end result, she realized that the evidence had been in front of them all the entire time. But for better or worse, Danny wasn't normal, and neither were her parents. Only Jazz seemed to try to chase down normalcy in a house gone mad.

As she dragged a brush through her long red hair, Jazz willed herself to forget about pinstripes and pancakes. She was a Fenton, and those things never happened to the Fentons.

It was the mornings that Jazz liked the best.

When she could pretend.

Doom. Doom. Doooooooom!

Being the only normal one in the Fenton family was fraught with problems. It was one thing to be woken up by screaming and loud noise. But when you were the Only Normal Fenton, things were expected of you.

First of all, the Only Normal Fenton's duty was to maintain a near-perfect grade point average so as not to be confused with another Fenton who was currently flunking math, as well as set a high standard of excellence for the name Fenton.

The high grade point average was also essential to Objective #2: the Only Normal Fenton had to enter a career that had some real scientific merit, to prove to the world that not all Fentons spent their time chasing ghosts (or turning into them).

Which was why the Only Normal Fenton was currently bashing her head against her desk, having just received an assignment for her psychology class that was going to blow abovementioned crucial GPA completely to hell.

"And those are due in two weeks," Jazz's teacher said, turning back to the blackboard. "Okay. Let's talk anxiety. Chapter fourteen…"

Jazz was already anxious enough. Letting her gaze drift towards the nearby window, she saw the younger grades in the quad enjoying things like sunshine, fresh air, and beating up other kids for their milk money. It was their scheduled lunch hour. Like radar, Jazz's eyes found her brother and his friends almost immediately.

Danny didn't have many friends, but the ones he had were dependable as the coming of night, loyal to a fault. Jazz had to give credit where credit was due.

Tucker Foley was a grinning geek with skin the color of coffee with cream, small-framed glasses, and a PDA in a holster on his hip. He was tooling around on the PDA as Jazz watched, smiling every so often at a game Danny was playing with his other best friend, corpse bride Samantha Manson. She was kneeling across from Danny, her skirt tucked beneath her pale legs, which were in turn tucked into knee boots with two-inch treads. She had her hands, which were encased in fingerless gloves, palm up in front of Danny. He placed his own hands palm down on hers, and she would try to slap them before he could pull out of her reach.

Two hits and a miss, and Sam turned her hands over for Danny's turn. Jazz saw how happy her brother looked, how content and sweet his smile was. He never looked like that at home, never smiled that way at anyone else.

How? she wondered. How was he so happy? Even she was rarely happy, and she was the Only Normal Fenton.

Jazz always marveled at how Danny's friends kept coming over to the Fenton house. She herself was far too embarrassed to ever invite anyone over.

So it wasn't a surprise when she happened upon Sam in the kitchen. As usual, the goth was initially a visual shock.

She was sitting on the kitchen counter, heavy combat boots dangling. A short black skirt barely made it to mid-thigh, and chains jingled from her belt loops. A black, lacy camisole completed the outfit. Heavy spiked cuffs held her wrists prisoner; a collar to match was around her neck. Her eyelids were emblazoned with purple shadow, mascara and eyeliner weighing the lashes down. And she was drinking a glass of milk.

The milk puzzled Jazz. She was always wondering why Sam felt the need to dress like the punk bride from Planet X, but the innocence of the milk ruined the image.

So did the smile she offered. "Hi, Jazz."

"Hey, Sam," Jazz said warily. "Are you waiting for Danny?" As if she had any other reason to be in the house.

Sam finished her milk, leaving a purple lip print on the glass. She wiped the milk moustache away with a fingerless-gloved hand. "Yeah. He's changing clothes. We're going to the Nasty Burger."

Jazz arched an auburn brow. "He needs to change clothes for that?"

"He wants to look good in case Paulina's there." Sam said the name like it was usually accompanied with a lot of eye-rolling.

Jazz almost giggled at the goth's poorly concealed jealousy. She thought Sam was weird, but she had to give the girl credit—she protected Danny like a punk-rock Rottweiler.

Sam turned towards the staircase. "Danny!" she hollered. "Hurry up!"

"I don't understand it," Jack Fenton pouted, stomping into the kitchen. "It worked fine in testing." The drooping lip and sour expression looked comical on the big man.

"There, there, dear," Maddie Fenton soothed, following her husband into the room and placing a hand on his massive shoulder. "You'll get it eventually." She smiled at the room's other two occupants. "Hi, Jazz. Hi, Sam."

"Hi, Mrs. Fenton. Hi, Mr. Fenton," Sam said.

"Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad."

Maddie's mom-radar was considerably better than her ghost-radar. "What's wrong, Jazzie? Hard day?"

"Yeah," Jazz admitted. "I have a massive term paper in psych about suicide in the media. I'm supposed to either defend or oppose the idea that the media glorifies suicide and makes it more appealing to teenagers. I don't even know where to start. Why couldn't I have gotten obsessive-compulsive disorder?"

"I thought you had obsessive-compulsive disorder," Sam joked from the counter, but Jazz ignored her and continued ranting.

"I could have at least interviewed people for that one. Anyone who's committed suicide is a little beyond interviewing." Jazz plunked down in a kitchen chair to mope.

Jack Fenton's gaze eyes had taken on their trademark glazed gleam. "Never fear, Jazzie! We can get you interview subjects and help you with your paper!" He pumped a fist into the air. "To the ghost portal!"

Maddie gazed admiringly at her husband as he dashed from the room, then patted Jazz affectionately on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Jazz. You're a brilliant girl. You'll figure it out." She gave Jazz a squeeze.

"Thanks, Mom," Jazz sighed, leaning into the hug. Letting her daughter go, Maddie followed her husband out of the room, shouting, "On my way, Jack!"

Jazz and Sam were alone in the kitchen again. "Does she do that a lot?" Sam asked.

Jazz frowned. "What? Patronize me with useless fluffy encouragement before dashing back to the lab?"

Sam fiddled with one of her spiked cuffs. "Hug you."

"Oh..." Thrown off balance, Jazz thought about it. "Yeah. Yeah. I guess we hug a lot."

Sam kicked her feet absently but didn't say anything.

"Sam? You okay?"

Sam was saved from having to answer by the timely but smelly arrival of Danny. The goth's hand flew to her nose. "Danny—ugh. Are you wearing cologne?"

Yeah, about two gallons of it, if Jazz's olfactory channels were working correctly. She followed Sam's lead and pinched her own nose. "Jesus Christ, Danny! You smell terrible!"

"It's Hugo Boss," Danny defended, chest puffing out beneath his black t-shirt.

"Smells like 'Accident in the Cologne Factory' to me," Sam giggled, hopping off the counter and walking towards the door.

"Where are you going?" Danny asked.

"To the lab. I need a gas mask to go anywhere with you!" Sam laughed.

"Cut it out, Sam!" Danny gave chase.

And the Only Normal Fenton was once again alone.

Author's Notes: So there's chapter one. I know I got the idea for this sometime this morning, but I can't remember what prompted it or when it actually went down on the paper that followed me home in my purse. Guess I've just been spending a bit of time with Danny lately, not that I'm complaining.

Next chapter: Jazz can't figure out where to begin her assignment, but she might find help in an unlikely place.