SMOKESCREEN

Epilogue


My name is Danny Fenton. Daniel James Fenton, but I prefer Danny. I'm not sure what I should tell about myself, somehow the things that I can tell about me don't sound all that interesting. So let's start with the statistics. I was born in Amity Park on July 23rd, nineteen ninety. Which makes me almost sixteen years old. I attended Clarkson elementary school, Elm Street middle school and now I'm in Casper High school, tenth grade. I'm an average student.

My mother is Madeline Hayes, my father Jack Fenton. I have a sister, Jasmine, who is a genius, which can get annoying at times. Still sounds very normal and maybe a bit boring. Until I tell you what my parents do for a living. Because that's where all normalcy ends.

My parents hunt ghosts. And up until almost two years ago, everybody laughed at them. And at me. My sister simply denied their existence. They blundered around Amity Park with their ecto guns and the GAV (yes, Ghost Assault Vehicle). They were a total embarrassment.

And then the ghosts showed up. Which may or may not have something to do with the ghost portal they built. It has a door now, so ghosts can't get through, but in the beginning they caused ghosts to flood the town.

Now, when I tell people who my parents are, they no longer laugh. They may frown, tell me they are a menace to society, but never that they can't hunt ghosts because ghosts don't exist. Everybody has seen them.

As I'm writing this down, I'm realizing that it seems like I don't have a life of my own. Sure, my parents raised me, fed me, took me places, but I'm not only defined by my parents. I have friends, two very good friends, whom I trust implicitly. They'd literally throw themselves in harms way to save me, and I would do the same for them. One is Tucker Foley, self proclaimed techno geek extra-ordinaire and meat connoisseur. And in complete contrast with him, Sam (Samantha, don't ever call her that) Manson, ultra-recyclo vegetarian. Basically that means she doesn't eat anything with a face.

All these things, statistics, names, places, they tell something about me, and yet they tell you nothing of who I am, what I'm thinking, why I'm doing the things I do and the way I do them. You can only know people by their actions, by the way they treat other people. I always try to help others, try to be a good friend, but I won't deny that I can be a bit selfish at times. Luckily my friends forgive me for that.

These were my friends, my family. I have enemies. I won't go into them. I refuse to let them rule my life, but I know they have a deep impact on me. And even my enemies somehow define who I am, if only to remind me that I should never stoop to their level. I learned the hard way that taking the easy way out is not the answer.

This is my life. I have told you everything. And yet, I've told you nothing.

Mr Fenton, I had some trouble with your essay. Not the contents, but the language, the unusual eloquence you used made me question author of this. However, both miss Manson and your sister assured me that they hadn't helped you, that you and you only wrote the words, which, in absence of evidence suggesting otherwise, I will accept. Congratulations. You deserved the A.

Edward Lancer.


The park, a rare cloudy day. Not many people about, obviously put off by the fact that it isn't as sunny a day as it has been for the past weeks. Still, a nice day. Not warm, not cold. The grass on the hill is yellow from the dry spell that accompanied the exceptional good weather. It still doesn't rain though. No need to move from my spot, overlooking the park, the high buildings in the distance. The sound of traffic drowns any sound a bird may have made. I can imagine it though, I know I can. I can block out the cars, turn the sky blue, add in birds singing. The only thing I have to do is close my eyes, and I'm there.

Alone.

I don't know where he is. I haven't heard from him since that night, the night he rescued me, the night he tried to take over my body. I try not to think about that last part too much. He came close. Too close. I had to fight him with everything I had, and I finally managed to push him into my illusion, a place I controlled, my imagined, quiet hill in the park.

It had been scary to look at him. It was like looking at myself in the mirror, except I knew that I didn't look like myself anymore at that time. I'll never forget the look on my mother's face when she saw the extremely short hair on my head. I had mumbled something about wanting a change and she had left it alone.

I rub my hand over the back of my head, almost used to the short stubble there. It's starting to grow again, thankfully. I can't wait to get rid of this reminder of my two weeks in Vlad's room, the exhaustion, the pain and finally the utter confusion. When I think of Vlad now, I have to consciously remind myself that he is in fact not my father. And it hurts. I'm insanely glad that he didn't die when his house collapsed, but I don't dare show that to anybody. He's been keeping to himself the past week, and I'm glad. I don't want to face him.

Sighing, I pull the essay out of my backpack again. Again, I read it, word for word, sentence by sentence, a description of my life, written in a way I could never write it. Written by the clone. My hands, these hands, were not the hands that held the pen, pressed it onto the paper, caused the ink to form words, sentences, a story.

Yet I remember writing it.

It's been a week. My friends are treading around me with great care, treating me as if I'm made of porcelain, treating me like I could break at any time. Jazz in particular is very annoying in that respect. She seems to think I need to talk about what happened to me, and she thinks she qualifies as my confident, my shrink. Personally, I think she feels guilty about the way she treated him.

"You're dying anyway."

The words echo in my mind, and for a moment I close my eyes and retreat into what has become my sanctuary over the past week, the same hill I'm sitting on now, only without the annoying sounds. It's a nice place to be. I wish I had found it years ago. It would have made being shoved into my locker only half as annoying.

I can't talk to Jazz. In fact, I can't talk to anyone. I can't tell them what is on my mind, what I'm afraid of, why I have been standing in my parents' lab, staring at the Fenton Ghost Catcher, wondering what would happen should I pass through it. Because he's still inside of me, I know it. I just don't know where he is. I didn't do it though. I'm not sure which part I'd be splitting off of me and besides, the last time I tried it was a total disaster.

I open my eyes and real life presses down on me again. The noise of the traffic suddenly seems obnoxiously loud. I hear an airplane pass over, having just taken off from Amity Park Airport, taking a turn right above the park. And then there is movement at the edge of the park, two familiar figures entering through the gate, looking around frantically and finally spotting me on top of the hill. They start climbing in my direction. It'll only take them a few minutes to reach me. Time to get myself together again, to pull out Danny Fenton, the original one, smile, joke, slack, play games, make a general mess of my room, my life. They don't know, they can't know for sure, that I'm not completely him anymore.

Yet they know something is up.

I think, I hope, they write it off on the traumatic experience of being captured by Vlad, tormented with his machine, sleep deprivation, the occasional beating when I tried to escape. It's not that though. Not that it wasn't traumatic. I still have nightmares almost every night about being trapped in that room, of the darkness that enclosed me in the end, the fog in my brain, the memories that slipped away from me, to be replaced by fake ones.

But, chilling as that may sound, I'm used to those. Nightmares. I have them, I deal with them. It comes with the job of being Amity Park's ghostly defender. Ghosts are scary, but in a normal way. I do not fear the nightmares. They'll pass.

What scares me is that I'm acing math.

Sam and Tucker are halfway up the hill now, Tucker panting noticeably, Sam walking easily. Both are glaring at me. I slipped away from them again, skipped out on our usual after school Nasty Burger hanging out, to come here and try to find some peace of mind. I should stop doing it, but I can't. I can't act all the time.

Looking at Sam is killing me. Every time she is near me I want to wrap my arms around her, and it takes a conscious effort not to. I've always liked Sam, but in a sort of distant, "she's my best friend so don't touch" kind of way. If it'd be up to me, I'd never make a move. The clone made me realize how much I like her. And now she's out of reach. If I make a move on her now, she'll know. Because neither she nor Tucker told me what had happened between her and the clone.

I remember kissing her.

I clench my fists and tear out some dry grass, no doubt earning me a lecture from Sam on the importance of being kind to all growing things. I shiver for a moment when Undergrowh slips into my mind, which then triggers the image of Sam in a scant green dress. I really should stop doing this.

She drops down next to me, slinging her spider backpack on the ground. Tucker keeps standing, his hands on his knees, panting. I don't say anything.

"Why did you skip out on us again?" Sam asks.

There is concern in her voice, and confusion. I reach inside my backpack and pull out the battered Fenton Thermos I'm always carrying around.

"Ghost," I say.

I'm not lying, not really. There really is a ghost in there, the Box Ghost to be precise. It just isn't the reason I'm up here. I look at her, and again resist the urge to raise my hand to wipe a few stray strands out of her face, or to drown myself in her eyes. And I can look right through her too. She's happy that I'm back, but she's longing for the closeness she had to the clone. I look down at the ground to hide the sudden rage I feel, the jealousy of him, the other me, the me that is still inside of me somewhere.

The me that is also me.

Because I think I know what he did. I think he didn't mean to, I think he really thought he was giving himself up, that he would die and I would live on as myself. But something remained, something that nested itself inside my consciousness, my brain, my very being. No matter how I look at it, I can't deny the fact that there is something different about me now. I know my friends see it, I know my sister sees it, and I think even my parents see it. I am no longer the son they knew, or thought they knew. I try to be. But I'm not.

I'm not the clone either. Sure, I have his memories, both the vague ones about living with Vlad, calling him father, believing he is my father, and the time he spent thinking and later pretending he was Danny Fenton. I still feel the bile rise in my throat when I think of Vlad telling me, him, that he wasn't really Danny, that he was a clone, and a defected one at that. I remember his agony and I can't hate him, not anymore.

Because I remember the melting, the horrifying feeling of it, the falling apart. And at the same time, dizzyingly overlaying that memory, another one, watching me melt, seeing the ectoplasm dripping from wounds, cracks that appeared all by themselves.

I push myself off the ground and get up. Tucker straightens, having finally caught his breath. Sam smiles at me and I gallantly hold out my hand to help her up, mentally crossing my fingers she won't call me a chauvinist pig. She doesn't. Instead, she smiles and lets me pull her up on her feet. I grin at her.

"Race ya to the ice cream vendor," I say, taking off.

Sam yelps and sets off after me, never one to back down on a challenge. She'll overtake me about halfway down, I think. Both of us ignore Tucker's indignant yelling from the top of the hill.

Wind blows in my face. The speed is exhilarating. I laugh.

I'm neither Danny nor D17. I'm both.

I am Danny Fenton.


Done! Hurray! Sorry about the wait. I had this finished on Tuesday but then Angst Day came along.

Pay no attention to Danny's date of birth I'm mentioning at the beginning. Since the show, as far as I know, started airing in 2004 and Danny was 14 at that time, I'm assuming his birth year to be 1990.

Sincere thanks to:

TexasDreamer01, Luiz4200, inukagome15, Ocean's Nocturne of the COCA, Miriam1, Rakahn, DPcrazy, Rya Starling, spiritmind675, skitzofrenic, Invader Johnny, Cordria, Tears Falling Freely, RenesmeeScarlet, Mary Blondine, Garnet Sky, Secret Spy Guy, BleachPhantom, SH Aerrow's Girl, dizappearingirl, dessyweird5, xXAnimeKittenXx1, New Ghost Girl, TexasDreamer01, Thunderstorm101, enderverse, Chatter Puncher, Thouqhts-of-Nothinqness, Neko Danny, Koppella, Wishes for Wings, TPcrazy, Shining Zephyr, Spidery, Katie B 17, Kybo, Catadmin, pearl84,

because they took the time to review one or more chapters (I hope I didn't forget anybody). Reviews make my day.