A/N: This is another of my TUE stories (the second and last). I hope you enjoy my version of events once again. I hope it shows that I've thought things through. Anyway, please take the time after reading it to review. I love to hear what people think of my stories and I appreciate constructive criticism. Anyway, enjoy!
Warning: This fic contains spoilers for TUE. If you don't want to be spoiled, don't read.
Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom. Butch Hartman does.
The Other World: Part 1
By Fey Phantom
It was morning in Amity Park. Casper High's warning bell resonated through the early morning air, damp with humidity. It was the day before the CATs and all of the freshmen were nervous. One more day until they take the test that would determine their futures. Or, at least, most of the freshmen were nervous. Sam Manson and Tucker Foley took their regular seats in Mr. Lancer's English class, perfectly relaxed and ready for the test the following day. They wished they could say the same for their best friend, Danny Fenton. However, Danny had other problems to worry about and had barely managed to keep up with his homework load, let alone study for the CATs.
Danny was half ghost, and as a half ghost, he had to fight other ghosts who escaped from the Ghost Zone on an almost nightly basis. This ate into his study and sleeping time. There were weeks when Danny would get less than three hours of sleep a night and as a young teen, he had already given up any hope of having a social life. The last time he had tried to have one, he'd ended up splitting himself in two, one ghost Danny and one human Danny. The end result had him slightly mental on both sides and he wasn't set to go through that again. And so, Danny struggled through, trying to keep up with everything life would throw at him. Unfortunately, studying for his CATs fell far below everything else and now he was in dire trouble. The practice test he had tried to do ended with him getting a lower mark than the current record. If anything, he just wanted to get higher than that.
If only it were that simple. He reminded himself of his sister, who got the highest test results in the history of the CATs. And there were his parents, expecting him to get As in school as Fentons were meant to. His C average was hardly anything to brag about at home. In fact, he sometimes felt he brought home shame on his family. He knew they loved him no matter what, but he couldn't help but see the disappointment etched in their faces when he brought home his report that deemed him as 'slightly below average' in the eyes of the State.
And he was going to flunk his CATs and make a new low record… He couldn't stand the thought. If only there was a way he could get a higher mark. But how?
As if reading his mind, Tucker said, "Hey cheer up Danny. Don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do. It's not like you can cheat or something." Tucker leaned over from his desk and put his hand on Danny's shoulder. Danny's eyes were wide now. He repeated Tucker's words in his head. Sam seemed to notice and looked worried. Tucker stayed oblivious to everything and kept on talking. "I'm sure Mr. Lancer is just blowing this test way out of proportion. Even if you fail, it's not like none of your other tests will ever mean anything again. Employers aren't just going to take into account this one test." Tucker's words fell short of their target however. Danny was absorbed in his own thoughts now.
"Danny?" Sam asked cautiously, worried that he was thinking what she thought he might be.
Suddenly, Danny seemed to snap from his trance. "Tucker, you're a genius!" Danny exclaimed, attempting to keep his voice lower than the rest of the class' as students continued to file in before the second bell.
"I always told you but you never listened before. Glad you're finally catching on!" Tucker praised himself.
"Danny, no!" Sam said forcefully, fully aware now what was going through her best friend's mind.
"Come on, he'll never know!" Danny whispered to Sam. He won't be able to prove it was me… if I use my ghost powers."
"No! Sam almost yelled. She caught herself and lowered her voice again. "I'm the reason you have those powers and I'm not about to let you use them to cheat!" she hissed.
"Oh, come on. You can't actually say that after you wanted me to haunt a truck depot just to keep people from buying 'environmentally disastrous' transportation."
"Ugh. But what if Mr. Lancer catches you? This test isn't worth it, Danny!" Sam fought back.
"I already told you, he'll have no idea if I go intangible and invisible. He'll probably not even realize the answers are gone until after the test when he gets to correcting them."
"Fine! Do whatever you want! But I'm not bailing you out of it if you get caught."
"Which I won't," Danny pointed out one final time. Sam sat back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. Danny leaned on his arm, looking forward to the front of the class, thinking quietly to himself.
"Um, did I miss something here?" Tucker spoke up finally, still not understanding what was going on.
"What! You're going to cheat?" Tucker yelled out in surprise. Danny, Sam and Tucker were walking to their lockers for lunch period. Most of the students had already made it to the cafeteria so the halls were fairly empty now.
"Shush, Tucker!" Danny tried to calm his friend. If someone heard him yelling out like that, they might get suspicious. Danny, however, did not notice the pair of eyes peering at the trio as they passed the Staff Lounge. Mr. Lancer closed the door carefully and went to a table where he set down his briefcase which carried his copy of the answers to the test in it. He took out his key and unlocked the briefcase. The answers were still there, safe and sound. Of course nobody had gotten to them. They had been with him the entire time. A bunch of fourteen year-olds couldn't get it from him without him noticing. Mr. Lancer laid his head back and shut his eyes. He may as well snooze a little during lunch hour. Starting the following evening, he would be correcting piles upon piles of tests, more than half of which he was sure would get a failing grade.
Danny looked around cautiously. Although nobody could see him or touch him, he felt like he was on very dangerous grounds, hypothetically of course since he was floating three feet in the air. Danny looked around the room. It was unfamiliar territory for him. He identified the only person in the room as his teacher, Mr. Lancer, the man he was looking for. 'Good,' he thought. At least there wouldn't be anyone else around who might be suspicious of the ruffle of papers he was bound to cause when he took the test.
Danny flew over to Mr. Lancer. He was fast asleep, his mouth hanging open and a soft snoring sound coming from his throat every time he took a breath. Danny positioned himself carefully overtop of the black briefcase on the table in front of Mr. Lancer. Slowly, he reached down, his hand going right through the top of the briefcase until he reached the envelope which held the test inside it. Danny lifted the answers up and they came back through the solid mass with the rest of his hand. He had done it. In his hands were the answers to his future. Nothing could go wrong now.
Mr. Lancer woke up in a cheery mood. He'd had a good nap and was refreshed for the afternoon classes, which was a good thing considering he had another class with the freshmen – astronomy. Grade 9 students were always rowdy. They seemed to have boundless energy and had the toughest time with courses since they had to adapt to the life of a high school student. Thus, they were also the hardest to teach in Mr. Lancer's opinion. But he didn't mind, he enjoyed the challenge. Seeing a student come to Casper High with such little knowledge and following their progress through to the end, that's what he enjoyed about his job.
So, he headed for class, ready to face the young students. However, as he took his seat in front of the class, he noticed one student who seemed very nervous. Danny Fenton was drumming his hands together and looking in all directions but at the front. Mr. Lancer's mind shot back to the test. But he had checked… and the test was fine an hour ago. Still, Danny was worried about something. He knew his students enough to know the basic idea of what their different expressions and body language meant. He decided to wait to find out what it was though. The second bell had rung and the class was calming down, getting in the mood for a long, boring lecture.
As the class rushed out when the final bell rang, Mr. Lancer waited for the last student to leave. Then, he carefully placed his briefcase on his lap and opened it with the key. He gasped as he saw that his answers were gone. So, Danny had stolen them after all. He wasn't sure how, but he knew it was Danny. Mr. Lancer decided to go speak to Danny's older sister. Perhaps she could snap some sense back into his head.
"Well, it's about time I study for the test tomorrow," Danny said to Sam and Tucker.
"You mean cheat," Sam pointed out.
"I didn't say cheat," Danny replied.
"You didn't say 'not cheat'," Tucker reminded.
"Guys, come on. I would have loved to have spent the last month studying, but I was fighting ghosts. Besides, if you two think this test is so meaningless, why do you even care if I cheat?" Danny asked while he fished the answers from his backpack. "Why shouldn't I open this up and study the answers, huh?" he asked a little more vigorously. Sam and Tucker just looked at each other. "No answer? Well, that's all the answer I need," Danny stated, putting the envelope down. He looked at it. Inside this little yellow package were the answers that could guarantee him an A on the CATs. Sweat rolled down his forehead as his thumb and index finger inched closer to the seal. With one final decision, he ripped it up and took out the first sheet…
Sam and Tucker were preparing to leave when Jazz stormed in, not bothering to knock.
"Danny, we need to speak!" she said, narrowing her eyes.
Danny hid the CAT answers below his math book. Who said math wasn't useful? "Jazz, do you mind," he retorted.
"We're gonna go," Sam said slowly, pointing at the door as she and Tucker inched towards it. They didn't particularly want to get between the two siblings with the looks Jazz and Danny were giving each other. With one last shuffle of their feet, they broke into a run and made it out of the room in a few short strides.
"Danny," Jazz started again, "is there something you should tell me? Something about the CATs?" Jazz asked, wanting to give him the chance to come clean.
"What?" Danny said in surprise. Did she know? "No!"
Jazz sighed. "Then I suppose you didn't take the test answers from Mr. Lancer?"
"Of course not!" Danny yelled bitterly. How did she find out? "How in the world do you suppose I stole them? They've been attached to his wrist the entire time!" It was worth a shot to get her off his case. If he could prove that there was no way he stole them short of using ghost powers, he should be in the clear.
"Danny, do you really think I'm that stupid?" Jazz shot back at him.
"What?" He was really confused now.
"I know – " But what she knew Danny never found out. Sam and Tucker came running back in the room, panting heavily.
"Jazz! Come quick! Um – girl problems!" Sam pulled a protesting Jazz from the room.
"What was that about?" Danny asked Tucker.
"Danny, there's a ghost – outside – Skulker," Tucker managed to say between breaths.
"Got it," Danny said, transforming into Danny Phantom. "See ya in a bit, Tuck!" Danny shouted back as he flew through his window and into the night. Sure enough, as soon as he had landed on the pavement something hit him from behind and he went flying forward. In order to recover, he shot up into the sky above the rooftops. He turned and faced Skulker who was grinning back at him maliciously.
"Hello, Pup!" Skulker greeted. "Prepare to adorn my bed!"
"I don't think so, Skulker! I sooo do not have time for this right now! Can't you hunt me at some other time?"
"I do not follow your schedules!"
"I beg to differ," a voice shouted up at them. Danny looked down and saw Tucker with his trusted PDA out. "I think you could use a midnight bite to eat, you look positively famished," Tucker said as he typed instructions into his gizmo.
Skulker looked at the mechanism attached to his robotic arm as it beeped joyfully at him. "I have to go to the Nasty Burger to order five Nasty Meals! What is this – " Skulker's jet-wings activated and whisked him unwillingly away as he shouted 'nonsense' to finish his sentence.
"All right Tucker!" Danny praised. Tucker did have his moments.
Danny had 'gone to sleep' the moment he'd gotten home the night before and studied the answers under his bed covers and he got up earlier than the rest of his family in the morning. He was determined to avoid Jazz until after the test. She wouldn't do anything about it after the fact, right? She wouldn't rat out her own brother…hopefully. Still, Danny didn't want her to confront him again so he left really early for school and decided to stay hidden until just before Mr. Lancer opened the classroom doors for the test.
Having the answers memorized, Danny was finished the test before the test time was even half over. He went back over his answers several times, making sure he didn't miss anything and to try and wait until at least someone else was done so as not to draw suspicion to himself, but Mr. Lancer called him on it after he went through his papers for a third time.
"Finished, Mr. Fenton?" Danny's head snapped up and saw Mr. Lancer looking at him with an odd look which Danny couldn't read.
"Y – yes," Danny stated. He got up and brought his paper to the front.
"You've finished it even faster than your sister did," Mr. Lancer stated dryly. He didn't seem very impressed, Danny noticed. After a few moments, Mr. Lancer spoke up again, "You may leave now, Mr. Fenton."
"Oh – um – right!" Danny nodded, heading for the classroom door. Boy, was he ever nervous. He thought for a moment that Mr. Lancer might know what he'd done, that maybe Jazz had told him, but then again, that must be the feeling everyone gets when they cheat for the first time, especially on something as big as the CATs. Danny tried to get the feeling out of his head as he walked back home.
"Mom! Dad! I'm home!"
"Oh, hi Sweetie!" Danny's mother came to the front hall. "Is everything all right? Mr. Lancer phoned. It sounded urgent," she added thoughtfully. Danny stopped in his tracks. "Well, he asked us to meet him at the Nasty Burger at five. Don't know why he'd want to meet there after what happened last night…"
"Wait, what happened last night?" Danny asked trying to get his mind off of the uncomfortable squeezing sensation he had in his chest.
"Oh, there was a ghost attack at the Nasty Burger. The ghost nearly blew the whole place up but by the time we got there, he was gone. Your father was really disappointed," she said sadly but smiling at Danny with that knowing look she always had when it came to her husband. Danny on the other hand was remembering Skulker. Obviously he hadn't liked being forced to go to a fast food restaurant but, then again, who did like it? Danny just shrugged it off though. After all, he should be able to study once in a while, shouldn't he? It wasn't his fault Amity Park couldn't stop ghosts on their own. "Well, we'll leave at ten to. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what it is he wants." With that, Maddie left the room. Danny walked slowly up to his room ad collapsed on the bed. What would happen to him if Mr. Lancer knew he cheated? Danny couldn't see how things could get any worse.
At 4:50, Danny was sitting nervously in the backseat of the RV next to an angered Jazz as his father drove like crazy as usual. They weren't in any rush, at least Danny wasn't, but his father always drove like a maniac anyway. In two short minutes, they pulled up to the Nasty Burger, and Danny saw what his mother meant. A section of the building was missing, no doubt from a blast of Skulker's weapons. It was lucky for him that nobody was hurt in the attack. If someone had been injured, or worse, it would have been his fault.
Then Danny felt his heart stop. He saw Mr. Lancer standing outside the doors to the restaurant. In his hands were several pieces of paper. They were longer than the normal standard-sized sheets. It looked more like test paper. "Coming Danny?" his father asked.
Danny didn't move but Jazz yanked him out of the car anyway. She didn't say anything to him though. She hadn't spoken since the night before. Although Danny hadn't wanted to talk to her before, he wished she would say something now. Her staying quiet just made him feel guiltier for obviously hurting her so deeply. He knew she believed very strongly in studying to get marks and she hated it when someone would cheat because it not only helped their marks, but it made the test look that much easier and thus made her amazingly high marks seem less amazing.
Jazz stopped pulling him when they came face to face with Mr. Lancer. He looked at Danny with a disappointed expression then turned his focus to Danny's parents. "Mr. and Mrs. Fenton, Daniel, this is the Nasty Burger," he started, pointing out the obvious. "When people fail, this is where they end up; whether they fail because they don't study or because they cheated."
Jack and Maddie both gasped. "Danny, is this true?" Jack asked with authority.
"Did you cheat?" Maddie followed up rephrasing the question.
"N – no, why would I?" Danny lied. He was almost shaking. Fighting ghosts was nothing compared to this. His sister turned her back on him. "It's just one test," he said, remembering the opinions of his friends.
"Well, I have reason to believe that you stole the answers right from under my nose," Mr. Lancer stated.
""Do you have any proof?" Mrs. Fenton asked, hopeful that she could help prove her son innocent of such a crime.
"Not yet, but I did hear him talking about cheating just before the test went missing. Then he was so nervous in my class in the afternoon yesterday, his desk was even shaking. The bottom line is, I know it was him."
"But, I don't understand. Why would you cheat Danny?" Jack turned his attention towards his son.
"I – I – " Danny stammered but he couldn't think of anything to say. He was trapped. There was no way out. The pressure on his stomach tightened. He couldn't breathe.
"Cheaters are not easily excused Daniel," Mr. Lancer spoke up. "Cheaters don't get anywhere in life. And neither do slackers. If you had studied, you wouldn't have needed to cheat. It's as simple as that."
"But it's not!" Danny shouted out. He was angry. After all he'd done to try and help this town, these people, he was going to end up working at the Nasty Burger? They didn't understand. He worked so hard and here they were, berating him for cheating on this one test!
"Get back here!" an angry shout interrupted Danny's thoughts. Everyone turned to see Sam ad Tucker running their way chasing a very familiar ghost.
"I am the Box Ghost!" he shouted. "You can't catch me with that cylindrical device!"
Danny looked around at the reactions of the others. They were all staring at the ghost as if they'd never seen one before. "Danny! Go! Hide!" his sister shouted as she pushed him towards the doors of the Nasty Burger. He didn't know why she was doing it, but he took the opportunity anyway. He ran inside the partially demolished building and transformed. Before he left the restaurant, the Box Ghost flew in to join him. The ghost obviously thought he'd left everyone outside and let his guard down.
"You know," Danny spoke out, gaining the surprised attention of the usually very annoying ghost, "I'm glad you showed up. I needed a scapegoat right about now!" Danny lunged at the Box Ghost and pinned him to a wall. He started punching every which way. With every punch, he thought about the unfairness in his situation. He thought about how he would gladly give up ghost fighting if there were no more ghosts bothering the town. He thought about how normal his life would be if he didn't need to be a hero. And then he thought about how this was his reality and he wished they all just understood.
Danny didn't notice the crowd of people run in. He didn't notice his parents looking around frantically for him, or his sister trying to keep them out, or his friends looking to help him, or his teacher following everyone else. Instead, Danny's one focus was on causing as much harm to the Box Ghost as he could while trying to get his frustration out. The Box Ghost managed to escape his pummeling for a moment however, and floated away from him. "Oh no you don't!" Danny shouted. He aimed an ectoblast at the ghost and fired.
It took only a moment for Danny's life as he knew it to end. The Box Ghost dodged the blast and escaped up through the roof. Danny's ectoblast hit a vat in the corner of the room. Inside, the Nasty Sauce heated and exploded. As a habit of his ghost fighting, Danny turned intangible, but the force of the blast was still enough to send him backwards onto the grass outside. Debris flew around him. As the dust settled a while later, he felt his energy drain and he fell unconscious, his form changing back to human.
End of Part 1
So I hope you all enjoyed that. Part 2 will be up hopefully soon (depending on whether or not I can finish it tonight)...