Act Three, Scene Two: Who
"Okay, so, uh, what is this thing?" Danny asked, hefting the Fenton Thermos. Knowing his father he'd probably blathered about the thermos too, but Danny had been a little too busy fighting two ghosts to listen.
"Your dad says it's just a thermos with the word 'Fenton' in front of it," Tucker answered.
"It's supposed to capture ghosts, but he says it doesn't work. I don't know how he knows that if he's never seen a ghost," Sam scoffed.
Danny did not point out that his friends had never seen a ghost until, well, just a couple of hours before. He put the Thermos back down on the kitchen table and took another bite of pizza, using his fingers to catch the gooey cheese dripping off the end. "If it did work, that sure would help," Danny sighed.
"Huh? Help with what?" Tucker asked, licking his fingers clean.
Danny shrugged. "Well, if ghosts are just able to walk – er, float – out of the Portal like that, what if they get far away? Like the Box Ghost? Then you could just capture it, store it and … uh, throw it back in the Ghost Zone? How the heck is this thing supposed to work, anyway?" Danny picked up the Thermos again, opening the lid and peering inside to its segmented interior.
"Let me see it," Tucker answered, beckoning. Danny handed it to him.
Sam had a thoughtful look on her face. Danny rested his chin in his hand and smiled, his eyes half-lidded. "What're you thinking, Sam? Last time I saw that face we ended up running a 'Save the Rainforests' rally in a downpour."
"Hey, that rainstorm came out of nowhere," Sam retorted. "Anyway, I was just … you know, thinking. What do you—" Sam cut off, looking at the door to the basement lab, then out to the empty living room. She leaned in close. "What do you want to do with your ghost powers, Danny?"
"Do with them?" Danny asked, raising his eyebrows. "Try just controlling them! I don't know if you noticed, Sam, but I couldn't take notes in English class today because my writing hand was intangible for most of it." He crossed his arms, still sour over that; he'd spent most of the evening copying Sam's notes.
"But look what you did tonight!" Sam protested. "You totally took out two ghosts all by yourself! You saved me and Tucker!"
"And it's nice of you to treat me to pizza for it." Danny grinned. "… It was kind of cool. But …"
"But what?" Tucker asked, looking up from the Fenton Thermos. "Dude, tell me this isn't just like a comic book. You could be a superhero. How is that not the coolest thing ever?"
Danny sucked in a breath and let it out through his teeth, lifting a hand to run it back through his hair. It was all well and good to think about having powers and saving the world, but as a real possibility, it overwhelmed him. "I dunno. I mean, yeah, being a superhero, that's an awesome idea! But I just …"
Sam touched Danny's arm. "Danny, being a hero just means doing the right thing." Danny looked up at her; she smiled encouragingly. "Saving Tucker and me today … that was being a hero. And you just didn't do it to be a hero, you just did it because you were there and no one else could do what you did. Right?"
"Well," Danny started, thinking of his father. His dad could be oblivious, but surely he could have fought off the ghosts just as well as Danny had. But could his dad punch a ghost in the face? Turn intangible? Fly? "… I guess so." Danny rubbed the back of his neck and offered a small, nervous smile. "I couldn't let something bad happen to you guys."
"See? You're already on the right track," Sam grinned.
"So now all you need is a superhero name," Tucker announced.
"Woah woah woah, I didn't say—"
Tucker wore a smug smile. "Dude, you've already got a cool transformation sequence. You've gotta have a name ready for when the public adoration starts rolling in."
"Tucker," Danny warned.
"Never fear, I've already got one for you," Tucker continued, either oblivious to Danny's protests or having entirely too much fun teasing him. "The Phantom!"
Danny sighed, giving up. He eyed his slice of pizza, which had gone lukewarm, and resumed eating. "Taken. You can't just lift a name from a comic book! I'll probably get sued or something."
"Spectral Man? Well, that should be Spectral Boy, but that sounds like a sidekick."
"That sounds like a villain." Danny rolled his eyes. "I like the first one the best, but I can't just steal a name from – wait. How about Danny Phantom?"
"Don't you think people will notice the similarity? Danny Fenton, Danny Phantom … it's a little obvious," Sam pointed out, ever the pragmatic one.
"And that's why it's totally genius!" Tucker interjected. "Nice one, Danny! I mean, if you're keeping a secret identity, who would suspect the guy whose name sounds almost exactly the same? It's too obvious!"
"Right." Sam's voice was laced with sarcasm, but she brightened almost immediately. "Still, it does sound pretty cool."
Danny polished off his slice of pizza and licked pizza sauce off his thumb, spreading his math homework back out now that he was finished eating. "And you know what would be even cooler? Not getting grounded for failing Algebra. Tucker, can I borrow your PDA to finish this? My dad used my graphing calculator in that vacuum thing he's got all over the living room."
Tucker handed it over with a sigh. "Man, why does schoolwork always have to get in the way of anything fun?"
But as if punishing Danny for thinking about embracing his powers, he slept worse than he had any night since the accident. That night Danny woke up while falling through his bedroom floor three times, then slept through his alarm clock. He ran out the door in time to see the bus driving away up the street, crammed so full of students they were practically hanging out the windows.
"Aw, come on!" Danny groaned, throwing up his hands. He trudged back towards his house to face down the worst option ever: asking his sister for a ride.
Jasmine Fenton had her own car. It was compact. It was purple-pink. It had a bumper sticker reading 'Have you hugged your inner child today?' on it. In other words, it was a car no self-respecting man – or teenage boy – ever wanted to be associated with. Faced with no other options, Danny would succumb.
"Can I have a ride to school, Jazz?" Danny asked, sounding unenthusiastic. "Lancer's gonna kill me if I'm late to homeroom."
"No can do, Danny," Jazz answered, fixing her hair in the mirror. Danny couldn't tell what she was fixing, exactly; her hair always looked exactly the same after she was done. "I've got to pick up Spike this morning."
"Spike? Who's Spike?" Danny asked. A guy named 'Spike' didn't exactly sound like his sister's preppy crowd.
"He's a teenager in desperate need of my guidance," Jazz informed Danny. "And for that, I need to be alone with him. Ask Dad for a ride."
"Dad doesn't get back his driving license until next week," Danny reminded her. "And Mom doesn't get back from that ghost convention until this afternoon. You're my last hope. Come on, I promise I'll be quiet," Danny begged, glancing at the clock.
"You should have thought of that before you overslept," Jazz sighed. "Sorry, Danny. If you leave now you'll only be a few minutes late."
Danny threw up his hands and went to protest before the obvious occurred to him. Duh, ghost powers! I'll fly to school! "Fine, be that way," Danny snapped, stomping off through the front door in a huge huff.
However, as soon as he slammed the door shut behind him, he grinned. He'd been practicing his flying; it was impossible to go more than a few feet off the ground when he was human, but when he was a ghost, he could fly as high as he wanted. He'd also practiced turning into a ghost; Danny's greatest fear, above all others, was the thought of accidentally transforming into a ghost in front of everyone. "Goin' ghost," he said quietly, the way he did when he was warning Sam and Tucker that he was about to transform when he was practicing, and a moment later he was flying over the rooftops.
Danny loved the feeling of flying – weightlessness, the wind in his face, and the freedom of being above the world. He coasted to school, almost forgetting about his time crunch, until he got to the schoolyard where kids were milling everywhere. "Gotta find a place to land," he muttered to himself, unconsciously flying lower and lower as he searched for an isolated spot – until he crashed into a tree. "Gah!"
The surprise of the crash landing startled him into transforming back to human. He grabbed desperately at the tree branches, but he couldn't get a grip – his hands kept turning intangible, which just made him panic more, which made it harder to keep them solid. "Ah! Ah! Oh nooo—" Danny fell out of the tree, landing flat on his stomach, and the contents of his backpack spilled over the ground.
"I can tell today is going to be just awesome," Danny grumbled to himself, blushing as nearby students laughed at him.
"Yep. Today reeks," Danny glared at the red 'D' at the top of the pop quiz he'd had in Algebra. "I hate math!"
"Want me to tutor you?" Tucker asked. Math wasn't his strongest subject but he was far better at it than Danny.
"I don't think I can afford your rates," Danny grumbled, his mood black.
"Ouch. Come on, Danny, you know I wouldn't charge you for it," Tucker protested.
Danny sighed, feeling poorly for insulting his best friend. "Yeah, I know. Argh. Today just sucks, and it's barely even star—"
"Hey, look, it's Tuckerino and Fender-Bender," Dash crowed from down the hall. Danny cringed, his shoulders drawing upwards, and Tucker made a sound remarkably like a whimper. "A two-for-one special!"
Danny turned around to face his doom. Dash was clutching a piece of paper in his hand as he and Kwan cornered Tucker and Danny against the lockers. "Do you know what I got on my Algebra quiz? Huh? An 'F''! And that stands for 'Wail on Fenton Day'!"
"Okay, woah, wait a second," Danny stammered, waving his hands in front of himself. "So you only wail on me when you get an 'F'? How many classes are you failing, Dash?"
Dash glowered. "You think you're funny!? Come on, Kwan, let's see how funny Fenterina is when he's drinking toilet water!"
"Okay!" Kwan agreed. Kwan was big and strong but mostly harmless, until he was with Dash. If Dash told him to do something, he did it. "Should I bring Foley, too?"
"Sure! Think we can fit the heads of two nerds down the same toilet?" Dash sneered, hauling Danny up by his shirt and dragging him into the restroom.
"I dunno," Kwan shrugged, hauling a screaming Tucker in after Dash. "But it might be kind of fun to find out!"
Two minutes, several shouts of "Not the beret! Not the beret!", and a high-five later, Danny and Tucker had found out it was indeed possible to fit two heads down one toilet, but not nearly so easy to get them back out. They sat there uncomfortably until the sounds of laughing jocks had left the bathroom.
"Uh, are they gone?" Danny asked, trying not to breathe through his nose.
"I think so." Tucker's voice was broken.
"Okay." Danny turned himself intangible and got his head out from where it was wedged between the toilet seat and Tucker's cheek, freeing Tucker to lift his head. Toilet water dripped down their faces. "That was absolutely the most disgusting thing ever." Danny fisted his hands, jerking to his feet. "You okay, Tucker?"
"My beret is soaked with toilet water! How do you think I am!?" Tucker demanded.
"Wash it in the sink!" Danny suggested, glaring at the bathroom door. "Man, I just wanna – I could--!" I could turn invisible and stuff Dash in his locker, or shove his head down the toilet, or-or hang him from the flagpole by his underwear! He'd never know!
"You could what?" Tucker asked, turning on the tap water at the sink and ducking his head under it. "Ugh, I dunno if that smell is ever going to go away …"
But even as Danny considered all the fantastic revenges he could use on Dash, he remembered what Sam had said the night before. Being a hero is just doing the right thing. And the right thing wasn't getting revenge on Dash.
"Darn it," Danny groaned aloud, slumping his shoulders. He dragged himself to the sink next to Tucker to wash his hair out too.
"You could what, Danny?" Tucker asked again.
"Nothing," Danny sighed. "And that reeks, too."
"Not as badly as that toilet."
"Thanks for reminding me," Danny grumbled, gagging. "Now I think I'm gonna have to throw up, too."
To be continued
Once again, thanks to all the reviewers! It's been really fun to write this. Next chapter is currently planned to be the epilogue, unless you all really want to see me rehash the entire episode of 'Mystery Meat'. Can't believe the ride is almost over.
I will try to reply to all of you. Thank you again!
Anyway, cataloguing continues:
--Jazz 'never offers to drive Danny to school'. (Mystery Meat)
--Jazz drives the compact pink-purple car described up until Secret Weapons, at which point she's driving a red sports car. (I think I spotted the compact in 'The Ultimate Enemy'.)
--Spike is the goth kid Jazz is trying to get to have a 'breakthrough' in Mystery Meat.
--The 'vacuum cleaner thing' Danny's father is working on is the 'Fenton Xtractor', which sucks ghosts out of humans. It's not dangerous to humans unless it gets in your hair. Since Jack has to explain to Maddie what it is, I assume this is a private project of his. (Mystery Meat)
"Hey, that rainstorm came out of nowhere." –just a fun suggestion that maybe Vortex, who first appeared in the third season, was running around causing havoc long before Danny had a ghost sense to know it was a ghost causing freak rainstorms.
We have no idea where the phrase 'Going Ghost' came from, but Danny definitely says it right before he fights the Lunch Lady for the first time.
We have no idea how Danny ended up with the superhero name 'Danny Phantom'. It doesn't pop up with a canon reference until several episodes into the series and doesn't really come into being an issue until he picks up the name 'Inviso-Bill'.