I got bit by the plot bunny... again. So I was thinking one day, and I wondered if Danny thought what he did was worth it. I typed up this thing just to answer it. And just to let you know... I suck at action scenes. Read on at your own peril.
Disclaimer: Uh... I'm gonna go and...dance. Yeah.
I fly through the summer starscape, warm night air rushing past my face as I soar above Amity Park, thinking. It's been an eventful day. Inside the thermos strapped to my back are some five ghosts: not bad for a day's patroling. There was a math test today, and I'm pretty sure that I aced it thanks to Jazz's persistent (if annoying) help. I nailed Dash more times than I could count in dodgeball, which means that I'll get to know the contents of a few trashcans well tomorrow (it was worth it to see the expression on his face. Like he wasn't sure whether he wanted to be surprised or explode.)
But the thing that I can't stop thinking about now isn't really about any one thing. It's a question, one that I'm having trouble answering.
During a ghost attack today, I rescued this guy. That's not really special, at least not for me; I do that all the time. There was this wall that was about to fall on him, an old red brick one that was probably about to fall down anyway. I flew over and turned him intangible just before he, this sort of aging guy with a few tires around the waist, wearing a plaid blazer, was crushed underneath. He looked scared for a few seconds (which is understandable, he almost died) but then he thanked me, which sort of surprised me. Most people give me this glazed look of fear before I fly off, but he thanked me. I sort of brushed it off, you know, trying to be modest and all. And then he asked me a question:
"Is it worth it?" he asked. "What you do?" And that, I couldn't answer.
It wasn't just that there was a ghost out there that I needed to catch; the question confused me, caught me off guard. Just because I seriously didn't know the answer. I ended up flying off to fight the weird green squid-thing that was my current target, not answering him.
Sure, I do the whole superhero thing. By now, it's taken over my life. But I really only do it because of responsibility and habit: I opened the Portal, it gave me ghost powers, so I should use those to send the things that came out of it back in. And now that I've started, I can't stop, because the people expect me to be there. And I can't just leave them hanging there, can I?
So I'm stuck out here, flying in erratic circles around Amity Park and soaking in the moonlight. Why wouldn't it be worth it? A thousand answers to that one come to mind.
It's just tiring, for one. It's hard to remember what this "free time" thing is that they sometimes talk about anymore. Any hours that I'm not doing school stuff, I spend out fighting ghosts. Life as a high schooler is already tiring enough. There is a social ladder at Casper High: at the top are the jocks and the preps, people like Dash and Paulina; at the bottom, dangling precariously over the firey fate of the band geeks, are my friends and I. This has side effects, such as knowing the inside of my locker very...how do I put it...intimately (though a locker's got nothing on the Fenton Thermos.)
And fighting ghosts on a daily basis? Not my idea of fun. The easy ones like the Box Ghost are just annoying and only waste my already low supply of time. Real threats like Plasmius and my jerky older self make me realize that, though I may think so, I'm not the most powerful ghost out there, that I have such a long way to go... and I really can't beat them in an even fight. Another important lesson that I learned from ghost fighting is the fact that I only have so much blood/ectoplasm to bleed. And the coming home past curfew with a big, bleeding gash on my forehead is not the greatest way to make an inconspicuous entrance.
I hate all the secrets I have to keep and lies I have to tell just to prevent anyone from learning that I'm half ghost. I hate having to lie to my parents about where I've been and what happened, and see them just look at me like I'm a disappointment, a faliure. See them wish that I were another Jazz, instead of the screw-up they think I am, and that I might be. "Danny used to be such a good kid," I sometimes hear them say to their friends, "but then something happened...I just don't know about him anymore." Some days I just want to scream out my secret to the world, just want to lift this off of my chest so I can breathe again. But then I think about what could happen, would happen, if I did. Would they hate me, their son, as an abomination, a freak of nature, a thing that they had always hated? Would they try to kill me? I don't know, but this web of lies that we're spinning is beginning to tighten around me.
The whole "being shot at by my own parents" thing gets old, too. I mean really old.
Most people know what it's like to be hated. So do I. But when people hate you and fear you at the same time... When you turn a crowd intangible to save them from some flying debris, when you fly someone to safety from a collapsing building, and all they can do is look at you with this frightened, horrified expression... It makes you feel like a monster. And (I'd never tell Jazz this; too much psychobabble) it hurts. I wonder why they're so afraid sometimes. I mean, I'm trying to save them, not kill them. But then I realize that to them, I'm just another ghost out to destroy their lives.
I take a break from the deep thought for a second as I bank left over my house, the FentonWorks sign blazing a radioactive green glow that I'm sure can be seen from space. It's the brightest thing in this night, so I float down and perch (can't think of a better word) on one of the antenna that sticks out like the limb of a giant octopus. And I think: maybe I'm not much better than any other ghost. I've got my territory in Amity Park, and I try to push other ghosts out. When I'm in my ghost form, I don't breathe, I don't eat. My heart doesn't beat. The fact that it does the other half of the time just makes it worse. I'm an unnatural hybrid, not completely with the living, but not dead yet, either. I'm not really supposed to exist; I break the natural order of things. I'm just a freak.
No. Even though it hurts, being like this, it doesn't mean that I'm an abomination or a freak. Would Tucker, Sam, or Jazz respect me if I was, with no compassion or anything else remotely human? What's important, I think, isn't that sometimes my heart doesn't beat; it's that it beats at all that matters. I care about my friends, my family. I care about this town; why else would I try to save it? I may be a ghost, but I'm human, too.
And doing what I do...It isn't all bad. I like saving people, things. Okay, so I have a hero complex. Is that such a bad thing? Even when I see in the news a headline that has the words "Danny Phantom" and "menace" in the same sentence, I read down to the part where it says I saved twelve people's lives. That helps some, even when my parents are reading the same headline and ranting about "that insert your expletive of choice here ghost kid!"
Ghost fighting eats up your life, I'll admit. But it does give you some perspective. When you're sitting through some teacher's boring lecture (I swear that they try to write those things like that,) you can think something like, "Well, I could be being thrown through a wall by Spectra." When you're trying to enjoy some ectoplasm-coated hot dogs that your mom cooks? "My pelt could be hanging on Skulker's wall (still gross enough for even me to call it gross.)"
You know, even though my life's hard right now, I've gained some appreciation for the little things. Taking a shower without being interrupted by ghosts, or maybe disrupting Jazz's shower with some green food coloring in the shampoo? Priceless. I don't think that I would've ever appreciated my friends and family quite like I do now if I hadn't stepped inside the Portal and turned it on. I try to make just hanging with my friends high on the priorities list (it doesn't always come first, but I'm only human...half-human...whatever.)
And, whether or not others have noticed, I know that I'm a different person ever since the accident. I didn't grow up overnight, exactly. I know that if I had gotten the powers before, without the responsibility attached, I would've said carpe diem and gotten some serious revenge. But now, even though I've had more than enough opportunities to beat up or otherwise publicly humiliate, say, Dash, I haven't. Well, there was that one time with Pointdexter, but I've stopped since then.
Flying. Flying's pretty cool, too. I take off, leaving the low-flying aircraft hazard of my house behind, taking my time, soaring just above the warm orange glow of the sodium lamps. At the same time, my ghost sense goes off and I shiver, a stark contrast to the warm night air. A scream echoes against the old brownstones of my street. Lights turn on (including the ones at my house,) and I hear the collective, suspicious mutter of the people on my street. I speed up to whatever my maximum speed is now (Tucker doesn't bother to measure it anymore, says it fluctuates too much) and rush over to where I heard the cry. I turn, coming into an alley. A young girl, probably seven or eight, is hiding in the corner, clinging to a black trashbag while a blue ghost is slowly forcing her farther and farther in.
I shoot an ectoblast at its back, and it flips around, growling menacingly, its gooey face shaping itself into a feline snarl. It leaps at me, claws tearing at my jumpsuit. "Aagh!" I yell, its teeth snapping dangerously close to my throat. I throw the cat-thing off of me and kick it into the wall, where it splatters. I sigh in relief and grab out the Thermos. Another easy one. And then I look again at the wall, and realize that the blue ectoplasm isn't there anymore. The girl in the corner whimpers, and I turn around slowly, sort of like they do in horror movies when the killer is right behind them. But nothing is there.
And then something that feels like a bunch of white-hot knives hits my back, knocking me forward into a wall. I scream, very loud, and slide down the wall into a pile of trashbacks, smoking. I turn as fast as I can to see the cat-thing flying toward me, outrageously long but very, very sharp looking claws extended. I roll over just in time as the cat hits the trashbags, sending garbage flying as the claws slice through the thin plastic. I punch it in what looks like its face, sending goo flying everywhere, but it just reforms and smiles at me, revealing several rows of dangerous-looking teeth. Two ectoblasts form in my hands. Time to end this before someone gets hurt. I fire both, and the cat howls in pain and anger, melting down into a steaming pile of goo. I grab the Fenton Thermos off of the shoulder strap... but it isn't there.
"Not again..." I mutter, searching frantically through the trash heaps, trying to find it before the ghost reforms. I feel something hit my back, but it isn't really painful.
"Hey, mister!" I hear a voice yell. "Behind you!" I turn around to see the Fenton Thermos lying on the ground (it was what had hit me) and a very angry-looking ghost, big chunks missing from its ears and face, rising up right in front of it. Without even thinking, I pick up the Thermos and wrench the cap off, just before the ghost destroys it. It is sucked in, howling in protest the whole way. Mark the total up to six. I shake up the thermos, grinning as I hear assorted voices yelling in anger as they hit each other in the cramped space.
I look up. The girl is sitting there in the corner, still grabbing the trashbag in a white-knuckle grip. I grin. "Did you give me the Thermos?" She nods, and grins back. "Well, thanks." I hear the unmistakable sound of the Fenton GAV roaring down the street, bringing with it my parents and enough painful weapons to supply a small army. "Gotta go," I say, flying up before they get close enough to have a weapons lock.
"Thank you, mister!" I hear her yell. And I smile. Some people hate me, I know; that's life. But there are always those who smile at you after you save them, sometimes, trying to shake your hand or get an autograph. Those who trust you and what you do, who more than make up for those who don't.
They ask me if it's worth it; getting beat up and injured, sacrificing my life, maybe my future, for a town that, as a whole, doesn't appreciate what I do for it. That even tries to destroy me for it.
And I say yes. Yes it is.
Aww...warm fuzzies all around. And if you did experience some warm fuzzies, why not tell me so... In a review!
I don't beg. I merely suggest.