empyreal (em-pir-ee-uhl) adj. - pertaining to the highest heaven in the cosmology of the ancients.
"You're one of the ones who were never born."
I glanced up at the sudden words. Master Clockwork usually didn't talk about me, ever. Normally it was just "Why aren't you studying this?" or "Why aren't you practicing that?" He was like that nagging teacher that always would hound you until you were driven up a wall. Never once were my origins spoken of.
But right now, I was his main focus.
"What do you mean?" I asked, shifting, Cujo stirring in my lap. Master just placed a hand on his forehead, closing his eyes.
"You're one of the specters who never lived amongst humans," he said, as if this thought had just occurred to him. "It's… odd. I've never worked closely with one of those types of ghosts before."
"Is it bad?" I asked. I never really thought about my own existence before.
"No, Phantom, it isn't bad," he said, his elderly form glancing back at me. "It's… it's just rather sad is all."
"What do you want us to call you? Danny? Daniel?"
I'm not used to the feeling of warmth.
Before now, I didn't even understand what warmth was, or that I existed in a cold abyss. My fingers have nerves in them now, which send sensations running throughout my body at breakneck speeds.
But I've never had a body before, either. This is all incredibly new and complex to me. I feel like I'm wearing a large jacket that completely holds my form in, keeping me cozy and warm. Every few moments I placed my fingertips on my chest, feeling the gentle beating of my heart.
This… is incredible.
I wish I could have done this before.
Things that people need to know were infused straight into my subconscious. I don't know how, but when I agreed to this, I woke up the next day with all this newfound… knowledge.
"You'll need it," my master had told me, giving me his odd, calm smile. "I think you'll greatly enjoy being amongst the living."
I'm still not used to this reflection.
Every time I catch myself in a mirror, or a window or on the stainless steel refrigerator door, I see something that isn't me. I see thick, dark hair covering bright blue eyes, and pale skin that's pinkish in tone. It's bizarre – to me, anyway.
I glanced up at my new 'mother' of the moment. Has she been speaking to me this entire time? I was being shocked into seeing my living self, for the millionth time since I found myself in this town. I was also thinking of what happened back 'home', when I was first given this chance.
She frowned slightly, raising one eyebrow in what I guessed was a confused expression.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs. Fenton," I murmured, tearing my eyes away from the window. "D-Danny's fine."
"What a pretty name," she said, sighing contentedly. I smiled, glad to cheer her up. She seemed extremely tensed about this entire situation. "If I ever had a son, I would've named him Daniel."
Her daughter, Jazz (I think that was her name?) lifted my bag into the back of her little black car.
"Mom, c'mon, we have to get him all comfortable at home," she said, smiling at me. "You'll be staying in our spare room for the time being." She excitedly closed the trunk and hopped into the driver's seat, gesturing to her mother and myself to follow.
We opened the doors and slid inside, myself taking up the back seat. Jazz revved the car into gear (I have no idea what the even means, yet I knew that's what she had done) and pulled into the street, taking us down winding roads lined with huge buildings.
"So, Danny, how long are you here for?" Mrs. Fenton (she insisted I called her Maddie, but I wasn't comfortable with that yet) asked, turning around in her seat. I smiled politely.
"Only three months," I replied.
Only three months until I go back to being… whatever I was. What am I considered? A monster? An apparition? A spirit?
"So, how did you get entered into this program?" Mrs. Fenton was asking me. My thoughts were getting all jumbled and mixed up in my head again. Ever since having this new body, my thoughts feel all cramped up inside this head, as if they have no room to reverberate off of each other anymore.
"Oh – I wrote an essay about why I should be an exchange student," I answered, remembering my lines almost perfectly. Master would be proud of my delivery.
"And, where are you from, again?"
"Moooom! Stop asking so many questions! He's my guest, not your interview subject!" Mrs. Fenton just rolled her eyes at her daughter's angry outbursts.
"Just ignore her, Danny," Jazz said as we pulled behind a big brick building. She turned the car off and swiftly turned around to look at me.
"Welcome to Amity Park," she said, gesturing around her at the general neighborhood. "I hope your stay with us is as wonderful as you'd hoped it would be."
So do I.
This is what it's like to be human.
The room was a bit sparse, but it had a bed and a dresser, and windows that closed at night and lights that came on all the way. It certainly wasn't a bad setup at all.
I sat down on the bed, testing its feel. It felt very soft and comfortable – almost as if it were brand new. I placed my hands on it, feeling that same rush of excitement as I could feel the bed beneath my hands. Ever since gaining this body, I've only slept in a bed a few times, and each time has been exhilarating.
But then again, one can only expect that.
"Danny? How's the room?" Jazz asked from the doorway. I looked around and smiled at her.
"It's awesome," I told her, lying back on the bed. "This is already better than I thought it would be." Jazz smiled, pushing her red hair behind her ears. She bore a great resemblance to her mother, with her bright hair, thin figure and bright, inquisitive eyes.
"Well, I'm glad," she said, stepping into the doorway. "I just wanted to let you know that you'll start school with me on Monday. Unfortunately, I'm two years older than you, so you'll be two grades below me." I just looked back at her. I had a vague idea of how the school system works, but since I've never been to school, I just let her tell me about it.
"So, the school's assigning you a guide-buddy-type-person for the week," she continued, not noticing my lack of response. "His name iiiiiiiis… Tucker Foley," she read off of a sheet of paper. "He's a Freshman, just like you. I don't know this kid, but I'm guessing he's a pretty good person if they're allowing him to be your guide."
"Tucker Foley, huh?" I said, wondering who on earth that could be. "Sounds interesting."
"Yeah… Freshmen are weird," she said, giving me a playful smile. "I'll be driving you to school normally, unless, well, I can't for some reason, I guess," she said thoughtfully. "And um… there's a dress code, but it isn't a real strict one. It's the normal thing you see at high schools – no indecent exposure, or gang colors, or offensive clothes and whatnot. But you don't seem like the person who would wear any of that anyway, and—" she stopped talking suddenly and blushed. "Am I talking too much?"
"No, it's fine," I answered. "I mean, I guess I'll need to know this eventually, anyway, right?"
"Well… yeah, yeah you're right, you do," she said. She walked across the room and sat down on the bed next to me.
"Well, quite honestly, the reason I've been so enthusiastic about this whole thing is because… I'm an only child," she said, beginning what I could tell would be a lengthy story. "Most of the kids at school have at least one other sibling – y'know, two kids, two parents, the 'ideal family'? Ever since—" she stopped, swallowed, and started again. "Well anyway, I've always wanted a sibling. That's one of the reasons my parents agreed to house you in the program. They know I've always wanted a sibling, so…" she trailed off. I just looked at her.
I've never had a sibling, either, I wanted to say to her. I've always been on my own, too. I felt this great sense of loss inside of me, something that I'd never really experienced before. I'd only just met her and yet, I felt this strange connection to her. It was as if I were reuniting with an old friend.
"I'll stop rambling," she said, standing up. She walked over to the doorway. "I mean, I know we just formally met, but… I kinda feel like I've known you for awhile, y'know? Or am I just being to up-front?" she sighed.
"It's alright," I said, standing up as well, that same feeling of despair rolling around inside me. "The point of this is to get to know people from other places, right?"
I held a poll on dA and this got the most votes. I posted the first half of this chapter ages ago in Cotinuus, so don't be alarmed if you've read it before. This isn't going to be nearly as long as TW, so... I guess. I don't know. Anyway, disclaimer, Danny Phantom is not mine, and it never will be. Hooray for the first chapter?