Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom, Avatar or any other fictional work referred to in this story. Butch Hartman, Nickelodeon, and others do. The characters and whatnot being used are only being used for fun and not profit.
A/N the First: Yes, the new Guys in White--or rather the Guys in Grey--are exactly who the narrative says they are. They were originally meant to be more of a caricature. However, in my plans, this fearsome ghost-hunting foursome have wormed their way in, so instead of having them be caricatured parody versions of the original, they're going much more integral to the story, hence they are going to be themselves as they are--just as if they came about in DP-verse instead of their own world. You can't parody comedic brilliance.
If you haven't figured out quite who the new Guys in White are--although I imagine a few already have--read on. After this chapter, a new fandom is going into the disclaimer.
The way I figure it is: with a crossover this big, what's one more fandom squeezed in, right?
Also, I estimate one more shortish chapter of Avatar, then one more longish one of DP, before actual crossovering occurs. Sorry for the long set-up, but even when Danny and the gang are crossed over, there's still stuff that's going to be going down in DP-verse that'll tie into the crux of the story and why Danny and the gang are willing to get their hands dirty in the conflict of another world. It really needs the setting up. You'll see later.
ALSO SPOILERS: I managed to catch a glimpse of some of the upcoming DP episodes. This story will incorporate some of those unaired episodes, but with a distinct difference--the "series" did not end, because the events in D-Stabilized, and Phantom Planet happened very differently/didn't happen at all. There won't be huge spoiling, just little details here and there. The episodes will start airing on Nick this month, I believe, for those who haven't been naughty on the net and found them elsewhere.
Spartancommander: Danny is the spiritual guardian of the Earth—and the Ghost Zone, technically, as he's the Bridge between them. Just as Aang is the same for the World of the Four Nations and the Spirit World. Vlad isn't a guardian of anything because he's evil, and in a way, the universe balanced out Vlad's existence by Danny having the accident. With no Danny, who could keep Vlad in check? With no Danny who would stop the ghosts from mucking up the Earth and the Guys in White from mucking up the Ghost Zone? It's not just being half-ghost that makes him a guardian--he sort of shoved himself into that spot by deciding to be a good guy. OR maybe something else nudged him, whispered in his ear 'Hey. Hey, you totally want to poke around inside the portal. Go ahead. It's interesting isn't it? Come on, you know you waaannaa.' Who knows?
But regardless, it's that he's put himself in that position that makes him Guardian.
And as powerful as Vlad is, he will always lose because he's prone to two things Danny knows how to take advantage of because he's clever—monologuing and ego. Which usually run hand in hand. In fact, you might be interested as to what's happened to Vlad. You'll find out in a chapter or two.
And Danny will fit into the World of the Four Nations better than you might think at first, but then he's going to have a very wise and powerful ally that will be his traveling companion for a while. Also, he's about as powerful as some of the more elite 'Benders. If he and Aang were to ever get into a fight, at the height of both their powerful, there's no telling who would win.
And HAHA, his enemies following him…well. In reality, he's going to be following one of THEM. Although the mechanics of the Spirit World and the spirits in Avatar is very different. Some are malevolent, like Koh, some are distant and have their own neutral intentions, and therefore can be either hostile or kind, like the Hei Bai and Wan Shi Tong. Some are benevolent. They follow a different set of rules though rather than blindly wanting to cause destruction and actually some trouble will come of Danny mistakenly assuming that, being spirits, they intend to wreak havoc. He will piss some of them off, and rule number one is: Don't piss off the spirits. Look what happened to Zhao.
I don't think there will be any ghost ninjas though.
Sasia93: Danny did indeed dream the mirror image, in the first DP chapter. He was seeing Aang's eyes in Aang's dream of Ba Sing Se burning. And feel free to ask questions! So long as they don't spoil too much I love answering.
Soului: Thank you for the compliment! Part of why I wrote this was because I'm an "I can do it so much better" kind of writer. I've seen so many fics that just randomly throw two canons together without any real rhyme or reason so I wanted to try to think of something a little more reasonable. I'm relieved to know you think I've pulled it off.
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
Episode Three - Hiatus (From Life)
Danny and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
There are mystically in our faces certain characters which carry in them the motto of our souls, wherein he that cannot read A, B, C may read our natures.
--Sir Thomas Browne
It's funny how you miss some things only when they're not a constant in your life anymore.
For instance, and I know this sounds utterly ridiculous: I miss the Box Ghost.
See, about two years back, I realized that he wasn't getting in through the Ghost Portal. There are lots of random portals in the Ghost Zone, even if you have to search countless ones to find one that leads to the right place and time. Apparently that's what old Boxy does.
And you have to admire that kind of persistence, don't you?
So one time, he went all serious and got a hold of Pandora's box and released on the world--trying to get respect and get his bounty in the Ghost Zone to go up--and that was the only time he's ever been trouble. After that, he quieted down, and eventually, I stopped beating up on him and realized that the best way to deal with him is bribery. If he shows up, all it takes is a few rolls of bubble-wrap and packing tape, and one, he'll spout off the current gossip going around in the Ghost Zone and give me any information I want about the big fishes, and two, he'll just float on back to presumably tape and bubble-wrap corrugated cardboard things in his lair.
No fighting, no wasted time--the system works, and I always have a pack of tape or a roll of bubble-wrap in my bag when I'm fighting, just in case.
Of course, now I hardly ever see him at all anymore. He's content to stay in the Ghost Zone packing and taping, and I think--ew--he's starting a family with the Lunch Lady--ew.
I wonder if I'll be seeing Box Lunch anytime soon (did I mention "ew"?)
But the overall affect of that is that it makes me miss the days when I could let out some tension with the occasional Box Ghost beating, and I guess...I miss hearing the occasional bleated "BEWARE!"
(Have you ever tried saying that? "BEWARE!" It's actually kind of fun).
It's like a piece of my childhood is gone.
Another part of my life I miss more than anything? Pulled up in her pink convertible outside Sam's house to pick me up the next morning, when I hadn't even realized she was back in Amity Park.
"Hop in. We're going out to breakfast, just you and me. Mom and dad know."
With a quick goodbye to Sam and Tucker, Danny hopped right over the door and into the passenger seat of Jazz's car, and wrapped his arms around his sister's neck in a huge hug.
"What are you doing home? It's not summer yet!" A few years ago, he'd have grumbled about having to sit through a long, horrible car-ride with his sister, but now he couldn't contain the excitement in his voice.
Jazz hugged him right back. "The semester's over for me, and I didn't have that month-long seminar this year that I did last year," she said, and when she and Danny separated, she reached up and held his chin, examining the red and angry marks on his face, and sucked in a breath through her teeth.
"Yeah, I know. I look like crud," Danny sighed, shrugging out of her grip. He rubbed the back of his neck and gave her what he hoped was a reassuring grin. "You know how it is--with how fast I heal, it'll be gone in a day or two. Or by tomorrow."
Jazz frowned anyway and put her car into gear, and they started rolling along. The breeze was cool on his face, even if the May air was somewhat warm and stagnant to begin with. Yay for convertibles.
"Danny, you had a close call again, and you don't have to pretend everything is fine around me. You're upset and I can tell."
Can't put anything past her. In the past it was infuriating. Now...well, it's still infuriating, but the upside is that it feels like I have a grownup to confide in. Jazz pretty much is all grown up now--come to think of it, I pretty much am, too--but still. I wish I could talk to my parents about everything, and since I can't do that without making them worry, I talk to Jazz instead. When I'm being too immature, she tells me to grow up, when I'm being too serious, she tells me to lighten up and not to forget how to have fun.
...Who'd have expected that from Jazz?
But anyway, even superheroes need to feel like there's someone protecting them, and Jazz is the one who protects me.
She took me to this really good waffle place on the edge of town and over a giant mound of blueberry pancakes (I was so hungry after all that fighting), and her belgian waffles, we talked about, well, everything.
One thing we'd learned after a while is that when you're talking quietly in a restaurant, in a corner booth, nobody really pays attention to you. See: all previous discussions we've ever had in our booth in the Nasty Burger for proof.
"--And then it just disappeared."
"Just disappeared into the woods."
"That is strange."
Danny stuffed more pancakes into his mouth.
"Are you okay?" asked his sister, her eyes on him, wide and worried.
"M'okay," Danny said, around a full mouth. He swallowed. "A little spooked, but okay."
Jazz still looked worried. "And you've never see that ghost before? The one that grabbed Skulker and trashed the mall?"
"Nope," Danny said, mushing up his pancakes with his fork. "Of course, that's kind of in keeping with the many surprises I've already had to deal with lately--The Fright Knight still being alive--well, not destroyed at least, the White Rider showing up again, Desiree's little visit to the Amusement Park, Skulker getting out of the pit around the Black Bridge and joining with Technus..."
The last one had him worried, and thinking...
Jazz, of course, quickly figured out why that worried him. "Danny, just because Skulker and Technus joined together, it doesn't mean that future is going to happen. You stopped that."
"I know!" Danny dropped his fork to push a hand through his hair, and lowered his voice. "I know, Jazz. It's just, after what happened..."
"At the Towers."
A wince. "Yeah. I'm just afraid of screwing up more. You know?"
"Listen, little brother," Jazz said softly, "The fact that you care so much, and feel so guilty for what happened just shows that you're nothing like him. And I know it's hard. You're still grieving."
"I don't know if I'd use the word 'grieving'..."
"Why not? It fits. Just because she didn't die, it doesn't mean that you aren't grieving over what happened," Jazz pointed out, "but grieving is okay. I think you'd be better off grieving first and letting out all the bad feelings I know you've let build up since then, and then I think you'll be able to make some peace with it."
I was grieving. But I was too stupid to admit anything about my feelings at the time.
I...tend to do that a lot.
"Let's try some word association."
"Oh geez. Jazz..."
She got a list out of her bag. Why she had lists like that always on hand he had no idea.
Probably for moments just like these.
"Table," she said. "Booth," was his answer.
"Music." "Dumpty Humpty."
"Soft." "Skin." He flushed, as Sam had come to mind with that one, but Jazz went on.
"River." "Is Made of Chocolate," he said nerdily.
"Stop joking around. White." He sighed. "Rider."
She sighed and went on. "Man." "Ghost."
"Towers." His eyes were averted, looking down at his pancakes. "Failure."
He was leaning on his hand looking bored as they went through most of that, and she stopped, looking at him with an odd expression on her face.
Danny looked up from his pancakes and stared back, head still resting on his hand. "...What?"
Jazz thought I was getting obsessed with my "work." She also was curious as to why I'd answered the last few the way I did.
I knew that she thought all this because as we went home, she wouldn't shut up about it.
"It's just a strange jump."
"Well, 'black' and 'bridge' isn't. That place is creepy."
"Did you and Sam and Tucker ever see what was on the other side of the Bridge?"
"No. After you go a ways, it just starts getting too creepy. Shadows moving around, and they start attacking you. I'd rather not know what's at the end of it," he said, leaning his head against the car door so his hair was blowing around in the wind.
They'd discovered the Black Bridge a year before, during one of their regular explorations of the ghost Zone. It was exactly what the name implied, a huge black bridge over a great expanse, a swirling black hole of a chasm that couldn't be flown over or the flier faced risk of being sucked in. Only the bridge itself, which wound up and around and in impossible spirals, and the area right over its surface, was free of the suction.
The further along it you wandered, the darker it got, until it was nearly impossible to see more than a few feet ahead, and shadow things started lunging out of the dark.
Danny suspected that Johnny Thirteen's bad luck shadow had been picked up from the chasm, as it resembled the vicious creatures there, almost as if the rebellious biker ghost had tamed a wild animal for a pet, like people tamed pet squirrels and taught them to water-ski on feel-good soft news pieces on TV.
Who knew what was at the end of it--it got to a point where Danny, Sam, and Tucker gave up on the spirit of adventure, realized the Bridge was even more dangerous that Carnivorous Canyon and the River of Revulsion, and turned tail and flew right back into the safer regions of the Ghost Zone. Barring a few fights around the area--including the one where Danny had knocked Skulker into the expanse--he hadn't gone back.
Even the ghosts avoided that place, and Danny'd managed to squeeze some of the rumors and legends out of them, or rather he managed to squeeze the fear they had for the place out of them, if nothing specific. All he'd found out was that the place was rumored to be nearly as old as the Ghost Zone itself and was tied into its nebulous history, to the stories about the reign of Pariah Dark, the Ghost King, and the Ancient Ghosts that imprisoned him.
It, quite frankly, gave him the heebie jeebies. Not just because it was creepy, because he was used to creepy. He ate creepy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No, there was something...big about the place. There was a history to it, an air of 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.' It was as if there was a line there, and if it was crossed, there was no coming back.
"What about eyes?"
Danny was shaken out of his reverie by Jazz's question and he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I've been having these really freaky dreams lately, where I see these glowing eyes."
"No, they're not green. Kind of blue-ish--just really bright. They don't--they're not anybody's I know, at least. Not Vlad's. Not...his."
Jazz frowned again, this time in worry, eyes on the road, and bit her lip. "What about 'dark' and 'door'?"
He thought about that for a moment. "I think I dreamed that too." It had just been on the edge of his subconscious, the mental image of a big, black door. "I don't know, Jazz. You know how it is. I have weird dreams all the time--sometimes it means something, because of the whole ghostly hero, destiny thing, blah blah blah. Sometimes it's just because my life is nutty and my brain's, like, puking up stuff while I sleep."
"Lovely mental image there, little brother."
He smirked a little. "You asked." Even at his age, he still enjoyed grossing her out. It was a little brother thing. "Anyway, the other night I dreamed about this bald lizard slapping a priest in the face in front of a church. It doesn't mean anything. Not everything does."
"Actually, I have a dream interpretation book in the trunk and lizards mean--"
Facepalming. "It doesn't. Mean. Anything."
Jazz stopped her car at a red light, and all of a sudden the cars around them started beeping their horns. She perked up and craned her neck to look down the road perpendicular to them. "What's going on? Is there an accident?"
There was a sinking feeling in Danny's stomach and he sunk down in his seat right along with it, as his ghost sense went off, the little puff of blue fog coming out of his mouth.
Jazz noticed. "It's another ghost," she said flatly.
Right on schedule, a giant brown centipede-like creature scuttled up the road in front of them, across the intersection.
"You're already exhausted."
Jazz pushed the button that put up the roof of her car as Danny started knocking his forehead head against the dashboard. Repeatedly.
"Maybe you can make it quick?" she said hopefully, reaching into the back seat and handing him the Fenton Thermos she kept there. The design had changed a little over the years. It was sleeker, more compact, and came in customizable colors. Quite unfortunately for him, Jazz's was hot pink and his was back in the trunk.
Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. "Maybe." He held out a hand and grabbed the thermos. Now that Jazz's car was closed in, he sunk down further in his seat so that he wasn't visible and for a moment, green light flashed out of Jazz's car windows.
"--careful--" he said at the same time she said it.
"--little brother," she finished, as Danny sat there looking miserable.
"I know," he sighed.
It's easy to be a superhero when you feel great, when you're having a good day and you had a good night's sleep.
Flying around, saving the day, to the cheers of an adoring (so-long-as- someone-hasn't-turned-them-against-me) populace...
It's a lot harder when you've hardly slept at all, when you're hurting and exhausted, when all the everyday worries like school, and your future, and paying enough attention to your girlfriend, and making your parents proud of you, take over and make it feel like something is gnawing its way out from inside your stomach. Like something out of Femaliens.
It's a lot harder to do it when that's been your life, day after day, for years.
I don't think I remember what it's like not to be in pain. I don't remember what it feels like to have skin without bruises or scrapes or cuts stinging under my clothes, to not have joints wrenched and aching.
I know I don't remember what it's like not to worry about just about everything.
It gets so tiring sometimes, but what am I supposed to do?
Just let it go and take a nap?
The monster tore down the sign of the Nasty Burger and through it out into the road, sending a truck veering just barely out of the way as it smashed into the ground.
Uh, I don't think so.
Danny sighed again and Jazz smiled a tender, familiar smile at him. It was a sad smile, a 'I wish I could do more' smile. He'd seen it before--with the Fenton Ghost-tech working less and less efficiently, there really wasn't much she could do, just like Sam and Tuck.
"I'll be waiting up the street. And as soon as we get home, I'll get the hot water bottle and the icepacks ready for you."
With that she pressed a kiss to his forehead, and forget all the psychoanalyzation of the day and the questions, that was what made him break down. Closing his eyes tight and leaning into her, he mumbled into her shoulder, "I'm so tired."
She put her car into park, and threw her arms around him. "I know," she said, a hand rubbing his back comfortingly. "I know, Danny."
Danny wasn't exactly a huge fan of boxing, but regardless, Sam and Tuck were his cornermen. Jazz, on the other hand, was his cutman.
"I know, but you need to go. I'll be here."
She made sure he got doctored up and went back out into the ring.
Jazz let go and he phased, flying up through the roof of her car.
"Watch out, long, creepy, and crawly--the exterminator's here!"
The creature didn't turn around, only proceeded slithering towards the Nasty Burger and Danny fired an ecto blast at it, making it shudder and hiss, as it stopped right where it was. Danny put his hands on his hips.
"HEY!" he cried at the top of his lungs. "Turn around and face me, ugly!"
The thing turned…
It had no face. It didn't even have eyes, just a mouth with sharp serrated mandibles around the edge.
Danny's eyes went wide and he raised an eyebrow.
"Okay, I could have maybe worded that a liiittle bit better."
Still hissing, it lunged at him, launching itself off of the ground to a surprising height. Apparently all those little segmented legs were powerful.
Danny dodged, blasting the thing. "Whoa! Down, boy! Heel! Um, roll up in a ball." A paused. "Wait, that's millipedes, isn't it."
It leaped at him again, and he phased, but despite the phasing, it slammed into him bodily, knocking him to the ground with its crushing weight. "No--fair!" he grunted.
He couldn't figure out how the thing worked. It had no eyes, no ears--maybe the straggly things around its mouth were an antenna? And it was a mouth, complete with razor sharp teeth.
I have an inkling feeling that if I don't get free, I'm going to find out what's usually in its diet.
Except that as he sat there, his expression blank, as it often went when he was confused, the thing just sat on him, not letting him up, but not attacking him either.
Oooohkay. Now he was just confused. Why wasn't it attacking him? Had it only attacked in the first place because it was confused? Or frightened? Sometimes, dumber ghosts wandered out of the Ghost Zone, and they really couldn't be held responsible for what they did. They were usually the big dumb animal types. In those cases, it was more like he was playing at behind Animal Control and releasing them back into their yards, rather than fighting a sentient thing willingly causing trouble and chais.
Was this one of them?
"Nice bug monster. How about you get off of me and let me up, okay?
Danny's eyebrows both raised, imploringly.
"Skreeeeee!" it suddenly screeched. The teeth folded inward, apparently unnecessary, as the mouth opened, lowering towards his face, exuding a strange mist the same green-blue color of Skulker's toxic net.
Just like before, his face started to burn, around the edges, and the monster started sucking in. He felt as if it was trying to peel off his face, and it was tugging at something even deeper inside him, something that was rooted in his chest, that went down to his fingers and toes.
Something inside him was splitting in two.
When he looked inside, he saw...a light...and...and...
He had never seen anything like it.
It was a tunnel. A deep tunnel that went far too deep, and at the end of it…
At the end of it there was a green sea.
A green sea that was full of floating faces, twisted in anguish and terror.
One scream was all he indulged in, before taking as deep a breath as he could and using his ice power to blow out a gust of freezing cold air, causing the toxic face-burning mist to get sucked up and frozen inside the creature's open mouth.
It screeched again somehow, even though its mouth was frozen shut, and reared up in agony, turning and scuttling away as Danny climbed to his feet. Funnily enough, his face didn't hurt now. Weird.
He pulled out the Fenton thermos, aimed--and watched as the creature used the pincher-antenna around its mouth to make a portal, as if it was sticking it's appendages into reality itself and winching it apart.
He pressed the button, but the creature--the facestealer, Danny decided to call it--slipped through the hole into the green miasma of the Ghost Zone, causing the beam to narrowly miss its mark.
With a grunt of frustration, he motored through the air towards the hole, his legs forming into their usual wispy tail that wiggled away--and the portal closed, sending him sailing right past it.
"Crud!" If it wasn't such expensive equipment--and Jazz's--he'd have hurled the ghost thermos to the ground in frustration.
Before he could vent his temper at all, there was the mortified voice of his big sister behind him, rising in pitch in its trepidation. "Daaannny?"
Danny turned around.
Face-eating monsters aren't entirely a new thing. I mean, most don't try to do some weird soul-sucking thing along with it, but plenty of creatures in the Ghost Zone--and the real world, if we're counting the Guys in White--try to tear your face off.
Ha! I remember this time when me and Frostbite were on the Ghost Tundra, and there were these snow worms that--
Oh wait, I'm cutting in during a suspenseful part, aren't I.
Uh, anyway, face-eating monsters aren't an entirely new thing. Except that those try to literally eat your face. Face-stealing monsters were totally new.
Which was why the only things that remotely prepared me for what I saw were the fact that I can duplicate myself, and a certain incident involving the Fenton Ghost-Catcher...
Danny lowered himself down to the ground and stared.
And he stared.
For good measure, he stared some more.
Then he silently pointed.
"I came back because you were taking so long--and that thing--when it was--it did--and you separated!" Jazz stammered, cradling the body of...well, him. Black hair, white t-shirt with the little red oval on it, jeans, sneakers...
Except--and this was a big exception--it had no face. Gone. Just bare skin there, no eyes, no nose, no mouth, no nothing. Just smooth skin.
"Oh my God." Danny started panicking, and he ran over, dropping to his knees, hands hovering hesitantly over...it, him. His double. "I know I didn't duplicate. I was too distracted to duplicate. Oh my God. I already used the 'a ghost stole my face' excuse sophomore year with Amorpho! Mom and dad aren't going to buy it again!'"
That feeling of being torn in two now made a lot of sense now.
He suddenly noticed something. "Is he breathing?"
Jazz, who was holding a hand to the faceless double's neck, shook her head frantically.
He tried desperately to go human again, testing to see if he could, but he couldn't summon the spark, the rings of light. Panting hysterically, Danny looked up at his sister, eyes wide and terrified.
"I can't go human."
This could have been like what happened with the Ghost Catcher. Possibly. But when that had happened, he'd felt different. His ghost half had been all super-duper annoying and he didn't feel that way right now. He felt normal. Plus, when that happened, his human half'd still had a face and was breathing.
Since his body wasn't breathing, and he wasn't in it, and he was stuck in his ghost form, that meant...it meant...
He clapped a gloved hand to his forehead.
Am I dead?
Did that monster suck his soul right out of his body?
"Danny, I think we have a problem here..." Jazz said, looking just as terrified.
"Of course we have a problem! I think I'm dead! I don't--" he started to say, but before he could finish, his (un?)life just got even better, as he, Jazz, and his (dead?) double were surrounded by the high-pitched whines of ecto weapons charging.
"Sparky, I hate to break it to you, but being a ghost, you definitely are dead," said the very schmoozy man from the group of four that had been at the mall.
Both he and Jazz had been so distracted that they hadn't noticed the arrival of the newly deputized Guys in White, and their etco weapons--more strange nozzle-things attached to mechanical backpacks than guns--were all pointed right at him.
"Ray, you wanna do the honors?" said schmoozy guy. His ID tag read 'Venkman' in blocky letters.
The slightly husky man cleared his throat. "Good evening Danny Phantom, alias Invisobill," said Ray...Stanz, according to the nametag. "As a duly designated representative of the City of Amity Park, Adams County, and the State of Illinois, I order you to cease any, and all, supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin, or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension."
"Well, that ought to do it," said Venkman.
Under his breath, to Jazz, Danny muttered "--And our problems just got worse."