As he contemplated his decision, Maddie scanned the area with her tools while Jack drove haphazardly through several trees in order to comply with her hurried directions. "Turn left, left!" she screeched.
"I'm trying!" Jack bellowed as he turned the wheel left and avoided another redwood. "Where's the ghost kid?"
"I'm picking up traces of his ecto-signature that way!" Maddie pointed in a random direction out of the windshield while she gazed at the instrument panel.
"Where? Dangit Maddie, you have to give me specific directions or I won't be able to fine where you're pointing to!" Jack replied, his nerves humming loudly at the prospect of catching such elusive prey.
Maddie looked frantically around, "Too far Jack! Go right!" she said and tapped on the panel that was supposedly giving her Phantom's location.
Jack sighed and turned the steering wheel in that direction. Unfortunately, in all of the confusion, Jack had forgotten to turn his high beams on, and by the time he saw the tree looming ahead it was too late. "JACK LOOK OUT!" Maddie screeched.
Danny was above, watching his parents' frantic weaving through the forest and he decided that no matter how little energy he had, it wasn't worth his parent's lives to conserve. Without thinking of any possibly consequence, he dove down and lit on the top of the RV, grabbing his parents by the scruff of their HAZMAT suits and pulling them through the roof and to safety as the RV crashed into the oncoming tree.
Maddie and Jack both braced for a crash that never came. When they opened their eyes they saw that they were hovering above the wreckage, looking at their burning vehicle. "I DON'T WANT TO BE A GHOST!" Jack cried out.
"Relax," a teen voice said above them. "You're not dead, so don't worry."
Both Maddie and Jack looked up to see Phantom above them, with a small, scared smile on his face. "You two okay?" he asked softly.
"GHOST!" Jack bellowed. "Let me go! I swear when I get my hands on you…"
The teen smiled shakily and brought them to the ground. Maddie felt her feet gently touch the ground and as if being on solid ground had flipped a switch, Jack was amazingly quiet. Phantom hovered in front of them and got ready to speed away before his energy ran out but next to them the RV decided to explode. The shock rippled through the forest and all that could be heard for a few minutes were the crackling of flames as the truth of what almost happened sunk into their consciousnesses.
"Why…" Maddie swallowed as she found her voice first. "Why did you save us?"
Phantom tried to put on his normally defiant grin to throw her off, but he was still trying to get over the fact that if he had been just one more second, or worse if he had decided to go home, he would no longer have his parents. "Because, I'm the hero, right?" he asked in a cheeky voice that shook a little. "You just don't know it yet."
Maddie saw his fluorescent white hair take on the red and orange hues that came from the fire. She studied his face closely and saw with surprise that there was fear in his green eyes. 'He was afraid for us,' she realized.
"I don't want to be in debt to a ghost!" Jack announced, jerking Maddie out of her analysis of the ghost teen.
"Then we'll call it even. I prefer you two to be alive anyway," he replied with a coy grin, finally regaining some of his old 'devil may care' personality back now that he was no longer in shock.
"And why would that be? What reason do you have to save us?" Maddie asked.
She watched as he shifted uncomfortably. He drew his legs up to his chest and hovered in mid air in front of her with an apprehensive look on his face. It was the same exact look Danny got right before he was about to tell a big lie. His green eyes shifted and he refused to meet her gaze as he desperately tried to think of something that would get him out of his current predicament. "I uhh… well I go after ghosts, not humans. I don't want to make more work for myself."
Maddie eyed him suspiciously, "Right. Two less ghosts to worry about," she replied evenly.
Danny nodded, thinking that his bluff might be working. "Exactly," he said, unable to keep the apparent relief from his voice.
"Well ghost child, I for one…" Jack began but Maddie cut him off.
"So then, you're just going to go back into town and continue to terrorize it like always now that we can't chase you?" she snapped.
"No!" Phantom shot back, obviously scandalized. "Look, I know you think I'm bad but I'm not. I'm just trying to help." Maddie could practically hear Danny's voice overlay Phantom's as he said, "I just want to do what's right."
Maddie blinked and relaxed her grip on Jack's shoulder. "Really now?" she asked softly.
"Why?" Jack asked, his own epiphany beginning to bud in the depth of his large gut.
"I..I don't know," Danny replied, his eyes shifting as he looked for a way to escape. His energy reserves what just about hit empty and either he got away or he transformed back right in front of the two people he last wanted to know his secret.
Maddie stepped forward and grabbed the one she knew as Phantom around the wrist and pulled him gently to the ground. "Look at me," she commanded in her motherly voice. Phantom's pale face snapped to attention as if he had lived with that voice his whole life. "That," she said nodding at the still flaming RV. "That is what could have happened to us tonight." She saw Phantom's eyes flick over then lock back into her own purple ones. "We could have died, died hunting you and yet you turned around and saved our lives. Time and time again you've helped us out somehow. I know about Jack's million dollar ghost incident and I know about both times you saved Amity park. I want to believe you're evil, because all ghosts are evil, right?" she asked, her lips shaking a little while Phantom's green eyes widened.
Danny gazed back at his mom as she gave her little speech. 'This is something she's believed in her whole life,' he realized slowly. 'She doesn't want to think…' Danny looked away shame-faced as he realized what she didn't want to realize. 'She doesn't want to think her precious little son is a ghost.'
Maddie's eyes softened and Jack came over, coming to the same realization as his wife, only a bit more slowly. Maddie let go of Phantom's arm and put her fingers under his chin, bringing up his boyish face to meet her own. "But you're not evil, are you?" she asked, her voice shaking.
Jack nodded and dropped whatever weapon he happened to be holding at the time. "Not evil," he repeated in a daze.
Danny felt his power reach its limit and he knew he was no longer able to stay in his ghostly form. "No, I'm not evil," he muttered as two rings of light appeared around his waist. "And I'm not completely a ghost either," he finished as they slowly parted.
Maddie's fingers stayed in place as the pale ring washed over it to reveal her son's face in its wake. "Danny, oh Danny…" she whispered.
Jack swallowed hard, "Son?" he asked softly.
Danny nodded, "Mom, dad, I'm sorry but…"
Maddie shook her head and pulled Danny into an embrace so tight he couldn't breathe. "Shh… please…" she said as two small tears made their way out of her eyes. "I knew," she squeaked. "I knew somehow…"
Jack patted Danny on the shoulder, awkwardly. "So…" he gave Danny a strange smile that Danny had never seen before. "So… was it the Fenton Portal?" he asked.
"Dad," Danny pushed his mom away and nodded. "Yeah, dad. I was stupid and I tried to fix it when it didn't work, and… I'm sorry," he said softly.
Then Jack did something that Danny never expected. He too pulled Danny into a tight hug that crushed Danny's already bruised ribs. "Son, whether you're dead, alive, or somewhere in-between I will never, never, ever let any harm come to you. Ever," he said again and squeezed even harder, forcing Danny to labor for air. "Ghost or no ghost, you are my son," Jack let Danny go and put his massive hands on Danny's shoulders. "You are my son, and you and your sister is what makes this crazy old man's life worth living," Jack cracked a shaky smile. "Who else would put up with daily explosions except my family?"
Danny smiled back, "Dad… thanks," he whispered.
Maddie nodded and pulled Danny into a one armed hug. "Besides, tonight you showed us your fidelity. Saving us like that, Danny, saving everyone," she smiled. "I couldn't be more proud."
Danny nodded and hugged his mom back, "Thanks, both of you. I… I know not telling you might have not been the best idea but…"
"We understand," Maddie said in reply. "Don't worry about it. However, please realize, that no matter what you may do or what you may become you are always our son, and because of that we will always, always love you. No matter what. I promise."
Danny smiled and looked back at the now smoldering RV. In what could have been a night of tragic ending, there now arose a phoenix of new beginning and hope from the ashes.
Whooo this was a hokey fic but I like how it turned out. A few months old but I wanted to post it regardless. It was so hard to keep them all IC you wouldn't beleive it XD written for a friend who has read it already. Hope you people enjoyed it.