Ever since first starting to watch Danny Phantom, I've wanted to write an origin story. There's a month's worth of stories between Memory Blank and Mystery Meat that are waiting to be told; others have written their takes on it, and now I would like to take a stab at it. Please enjoy, everyone: Danny's journey from 'boy with ghost powers' to 'superhero'.
Act One: What Happened
"Who knows what kind of cool things are waiting on the other side of that Portal?" – Danny Fenton, Memory Blank
Danny saw it as an adventure, a journey into the unknown – an astronaut sort of adventure, right here in his own basement.
He should have been looking where he put his hand.
Danny sort of saw it coming, but not really. He pressed his hand against the wall and felt something depress beneath his palm, and then green light was burning his retinas from the focal point at the back of the portal.
Then there was pain.
He never thought anything so dramatic as This is what it feels like to die – he had no time to, as the energy and ectoplasm fried his neurons and tore through him like burning wires. He might have screamed, but he would never know. His friends screamed for him, but he heard nothing except the roaring in his ears.
He thought he ran, staggering back towards the entrance, trying to escape the hurt, but he couldn't feel himself move, could barely see.
Mercifully, he passed out.
Danny groaned softly. His joints ached and he so dizzy, but he felt strangely weightless. Someone was saying his name, but hesitantly, as if they weren't sure they were disturbing him. Probably just his sister checking in on him.
"Danny? Dude, wake up …"
Tucker's voice. What was Tucker doing over at his house at this hour? Usually he was the last one out the door for school …
School! Danny's eyes flew open, and he sat straight up – clonking his head against Tucker's in the process. "Ow!"
"Ow!" Tucker echoed. Both boys jerked away from each other, rubbing their foreheads.
This wasn't Danny's room. Everything came back to him in a rush – the Portal, the pain – Danny looked back and forth between his two friends in horror. "I'm alive!" he exclaimed, and immediately followed that with, "Uh, what the heck happened?"
But neither of his friends replied, both pale and stricken-looking. Sam recoiled slightly when Danny's eyes fell on her. "Danny?" she said with a confused look.
"What?" Danny asked. "Did it work? After that much hurt, the portal had better be work—"
He broke off as he caught sight of his gloves.
When Danny had stepped into the portal, he'd been wearing a black and white jumpsuit. He was still wearing a black and white jumpsuit … but none that his parents owned. His gloves were white now, as were his boots; the rest of his outfit was black, a direct inverse of what he'd worn into the Ghost Portal. "Uh … what happened to my clothes?"
Tucker cleared his throat noisily. "Better question would be what happened to you, man," he said softly. "You look … different."
Danny was beginning to feel a slight tremor, as if he was cold – only he wasn't. His hands trembled slightly of their own accord, as if sensing something Danny didn't want to acknowledge. "Different how?" he asked, his voice shaking as well. "How, Tuck?"
"Um …" Tucker broke off, exchanging looks with Sam.
"Different how?" Danny howled. But when neither of his best friends answered fast enough, he shoved Tucker aside, practically flying to the emergency sink with a mirror his parents had installed in the basement.
The face that looked back at him was not Danny Fenton's face.
This face possessed white hair, tanned skin, and most disturbingly of all, green eyes – but not natural ones. These glowed, as if the ectoplasm swirling in the Portal he could see in the reflection had found a new home in his irises.
"What happened …?" Danny whispered hoarsely … and for the second time in five minutes, he passed out cold.
When Danny woke up again, he was in his bed. A delicate hand brushed the hair – his own, black hair – out of his face, and he looked past it to his mother, flanked by Sam and Tucker.
"Good evening, sweetie," his mom said with a cheerful smile. "Are you feeling all right?"
"I … um …" Danny's voice was hoarse. He cleared his throat. "What happened?" he asked. He'd been asking that a lot today.
"You had an accident in the lab," his mom answered. "Sam and Tucker told me all about it when I got home from running errands. It was sweet of you to try to fix the Ghost Portal for us, but you shouldn't mess with our inventions without one of us around," she admonished gently.
"You scared the bejeezus out of us," Sam said, her voice filled with reproach.
You were the one that talked me into going in there! Danny thought – rather unfairly, he supposed, but he felt hot and sweaty, and so tired. His head spun. "Sorry," was all he could manage.
"It's all right," his mom said gently. "You've got a slight fever and your blood pressure is low, but you're very lucky. Much worse could have happened to you in there! I'm going to fix you some chicken soup, okay?"
Chicken soup was relatively safe, as long as Danny's mom heated it up on the stove and not in the Fenton Microwave. Danny smiled weakly. "Thanks, Mom," he offered, watching her leave before looking down at his hands – plain, pale hands, attached to plain, pale arms under his usual white shirt. He looked back up at his friends.
Sam and Tucker were silent for a long moment, looking like they had no idea how to break some kind of bad news to their friend, so Danny spoke first, asking the burning question on his mind.
"Did I dream all that?"
Sam frowned a little. "All what?"
"Waking up with—like that!" Danny exploded, throwing his arms in the air. "Down in the lab!" He couldn't quite give voice to the image of glowing green eyes …
But Sam slowly shook her head. "No … when you first staggered out of the Portal …"
"You just fell on your face right outside it," Tucker continued for her. "And you looked totally different – like you saw in the mirror." Apparently he too couldn't bring himself to put words to 'it'.
"We dragged you a little ways away and turned you over," Sam added. "We thought you looked like a …"
"A ghost," Tuck finished.
There was a moment of silence, the word hanging between the trio like a black cloud. Danny felt even sicker; he forced himself to speak. "And after I passed out again?"
"This ring of light formed around your waist," Tucker said, gesturing, "And it split, going up and down your body like a Star Trek teleportation light or something. But when they disappeared, you were back to normal."
"And that's when your mom came downstairs," Sam said. She glanced at Tucker. "We figured your mom didn't need to know about the white hair green eyes thing, so we just told her you had an accident in the Ghost Portal."
Danny frowned. "Sam, why shouldn't Mom know about the … the hair and eyes thing? I mean, what if something really bad's happened to me? She'd know what to do; she's been studying ectoplasm and stuff since college!"
"You didn't see her face when she saw you passed out on the ground, man," Tucker said softly. "I mean, you can tell her if you want to …"
Danny could imagine the look on his mom's face; one of stricken horror, the way she'd looked when Jazz had tripped down the porch steps and split open her chin. Only this time, it was her kid, passed out on the floor in front of the Ghost Portal, which was deadly … Danny was sure of it. He felt very lucky to be alive.
"Maybe I'll just wait, give it some time," he said slowly. "If 'it' happens again, though …"
Tucker looked relieved; Sam seemed slightly disapproving, but she hated her parents. Danny liked his – although they were embarrassing and weird and maybe even crazy.
Actually, he'd never really thought they were crazy, but now there might even be proof to the world that they were right all along …
"I think that's a good plan," Tucker said after a beat. "Maybe that was just a fluke, after all."
"Maybe," Danny said doubtfully, although he hoped with his whole being that it was. That all he needed was a good night's sleep and everything would be perfectly normal again. But Tucker and Sam were avoiding his eyes again; there was something they weren't telling him. He opened his mouth to ask when his mom came back into the room, bearing a steaming bowl of apparently normal chicken soup.
"Here you are, honey! Now take it slow all right? Your friends can stay, but no pillow fights." She paused as Danny sat up in bed with the aid of some pillows and took the soup. "I'm going to go down to the lab to look at the Portal before your father comes home. He'll be so excited, Danny." Her smile was intense, reflecting her own excitement. "I'll be back up to check on you in an hour."
"Okay, Mom," Danny said, his tone slightly pressing. It was nice to get mothered sometimes, but with Sam and Tucker in the room some appearances did have to be kept. "Have fun," he added dryly.
"Of course I will, honey. If you're not feeling any better later, I'll call you out sick tomorrow."
A freebie day off? Danny made note to act sick even if he wasn't. "Okay," he said, purposely dampening his enthusiasm. "Bye, Mom," he added pointedly.
"I'm just a holler away!" she called as she sailed back down the stairs.
"A day off? Lucky," Tucker accursed as soon as Mrs. Fenton was out of earshot.
"Danny glared at him. "Yeah, all I had to do was get horribly electrocuted by an invention to get it," he said dryly. "You should try it sometime." Tucker looked duly chastened.
But Sam was unusually silent, and she didn't even scoff at Danny and Tucker's exchange. Her face was schooled to her usual stoic look, but both Tucker and Danny knew her well enough to recognize a mask when they saw one. Danny sighed. "What is it, Sam?"
Immediately the mask dropped. "I was scared, stupid," she snapped, scowling. "I thought I – it killed you."
Danny was quiet, cowed; Tucker looked stricken again. "I just passed out," Danny said, "And got … weird-looking for a bit."
"Danny, you didn't have a pulse," Sam's face was stony. "You weren't breathing. You just laid there, totally still. What was I supposed to think!?"
No pulse. Not breathing. Every word struck Danny like a blow. He pressed a hand to his chest to assure himself of a beating heart, soup forgotten. "…What happened to me …?" he whispered.
Neither of his friends had an answer for him.
Act Two, Scene One preview:
Danny put his foot down on the first step …
And somehow missed it entirely.
He looked down in a flash and saw his calf sticking out of the first step, but his foot had disappeared entirely into the stairs That was all he had time to realize before he was falling, toppling forward face-first into a somersault.