Thought of this story yesterday, and typed it today. So if I majorly screwed up somewhere, please feel free to point it out.
The swish of red robes- the low mummer of the audience- friends and family embracing- the excitement nearly tangible in the air above their heads…
Lancer had seen this every year since he decided to become a teacher, but he never got bored of it. It showed all his hard work had finally paid off. And this senior class was an especially tough one to get through… but they worked through it together and now here they were.
Lancer watched each student walk up to shake hands with the principal, and finally grab their diploma. Then, so excided by finally finishing high school, they barely even registered what they were doing when they shook his hand.
There were, of course, a few exceptions… his prize students for example. They would shake his hand vigorously, beaming up at him. He always had a few of those star students every year, and it always made his sad to see them go. However, he never considered a certain ravened haired blue eyed boy to be one of those students, so he was frankly surprised that Daniel Fenton, clad in his robes and cap, actually looked into his eyes, gave him a firm handshake, and whispered, "Thanks."
He was far from one of his hand picked prized students. In fact, he nearly flunked out of his class. After a moment though, Mr. Lancer could see why he was so grateful. If he didn't lock that young man in his classroom and force him to study, he probably would have had to take freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year over again.
He never understood why. Daniel was a bright student. In fact, Mr. Lancer still remembered the first paper he turned in, freshman year. It was brilliant. Normally he was able to pick out his future star students just from their first paper on the summer reading. He had known Mr. Fenton would be one of them.
But something went wrong. He still didn't know what. Maybe family problems… drugs… girl problems… who knew? But after the first few weeks of school, everything started going downhill for him. It was a mystery. Either way, he thought, watching a grown up Daniel walk back to his seat triumphantly, it didn't matter now. Lancer wouldn't have to deal with him anymore.
He was struck by a familiar pang of sadness, and once again found himself confused. He only saved that emotion for his best students. Mr. Fenton was one of a kind, that's for sure. He was going to miss the mystery of him a little bit.
After a few more beaming smiles, and a lot more of shaking hands, finally, with a great whoop of excitement, the caps were thrown into the air. Everyone stood up and applauded as the new graduates left, marching along with the familiar 'Pomp and Circumstance'.
Then of course, there were the tears, the jitters, and the happiness of change out in the hallway. People embraced. Pictures were taken to be put in photo albums so that one day they can show their children.
A few people came up to him… to thank him… to share memories with him… even a few photos were taken with him.
Yet he always hated this part of the ceremony. Not only did he feel extremely awkward standing there, but he had to accept that next year the students he had come so used to seeing in the halls and in his classroom wouldn't be there.
In some ways it was a relief, but mostly he hated adjusting to the change. One thing Lancer counted on was consistency. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo always fell in love with Juliet. Always. In The Odyssey, Odysseus always took twenty years to find his way home. It never changed.
But once again, he found his consistency upset by a certain raven-haired boy. He was talking to Mr. Foley's family when Daniel caught sight of him. Excusing himself, he jogged over to him. In all his years of experience he knew that students like Daniel normally ran away and never looked back.
"Mr. Lancer!" He called, stepping around another family.
He quirked an eyebrow in interest, "Mr. Fenton?"
Danny smiled a gleaming smile, but then he swallowed, seeming nervous about something. "I… uh… wanted to thank you. For everything, really."
Mr. Lancer smiled, "It's my job, and this is the best part of it."
Danny laughed. "What? Seeing us all leave?"
Mr. Lancer sighed, "Of course not. Seeing all of your efforts finally paid off. Especially you."
Danny shook his head, "Naw. I wouldn't be here right now if you hadn't chained me to my desk. At the time I hated you for it, but now I can't thank you enough."
Lancer smiled again, "All in a days work. Right?"
Danny chuckled nervously again. "Right." There was a slightly awkward pause. "Oh! Yeah. I uh… have a gift for you." Danny finally blurted out. Then, for a quick second he looked slightly petrified, but it was quickly hidden.
But Mr. Lancer missed it. Danny had him at the word 'gift'. Lancer hid is astonishment well. "Really? You shouldn't have." Nobody had ever bothered getting him a present before. Lancer looked for a sign of a package, but Danny wasn't holding anything.
Danny shifted his weight from foot to foot, looking extremely nervous. "Well… it's kind of a big deal… and it probably needs some explaining," he said quietly. He seemed to have to physically push the next phrase out. "And it might explain some of my tardiness and not finished homework and stuff," he explained quickly. Lancers curiosity peaked.
"So I'm guessing it's not another book," Lancer stated more than asked. The crowd was thinning out. It was such a beautiful day, and one could ever get enough pictures. Danny shook his head, and bit his lip.
Danny looked around, making sure no one was paying too much attention to them. Then he took a deep breath, "I'm just going to get this over with," he mumbled. Quickly, before he could rethink his decision, he took something small out of his pocket and nearly threw it into Lancer's hands.
Mr. Lancer looked at the device blankly for a moment, his mind not quite able to register what it was. Surely it couldn't be real. A whirlwind of questions broke loose in his head. He looked up at his formal pupil, astonished. "Where did you get this?"
"From Tucker," Danny answered slowly but truthfully. "He actually is the… uh… the one who makes them." He seemed like he wasn't quite sure what to say. His face was determined now, but he still seemed extremely nervous.
The balding teacher looked back at the device in his hand again. It looked a little like a garage door opener, except in the middle was a large red button. That's all it was, but it was famous throughout the city… if not the world.
"Is it real?" Lancer breathed. Mr. Fenton nodded again, looking anywhere except for the teacher in front of him.
"So I guess you probably already know what it is then. If you press that button-"
"It sends out a high pitch frequency that only Danny Phantom can hear, and he'll drop whatever he's doing and come… but I don't understand. It's said that only his most trusted friends have one of these… why are you giving it to me?" He asked breathlessly.
"Well, for one, because a lot of ghosts hang around the school… but mostly because you're considered one of his…" he hesitated, "one of my…" he corrected slowly, "close friends now," Mr. Fenton finally met his stare. "I wouldn't have made it through high school with out your help. I thought it would be okay to let you in on the secret. I owe it to you."
Mr. Lancer looked at him with astonishment. "I- I don't understand. What are you trying to tell me…?" Mr. Lancer was trying not to jump to conclusions. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it yet. Somehow Danny was associated with Phantom… and by associated he guessed they were close friends… really close, if Phantom has him doing stuff like this for him.
But Lancer knew that even that didn't sound right. There was something deeper. He could see it in his student's eyes.
Danny looked down again. "I guess…" he hesitated, took a deep breath, then quickly blurted out, "I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that I'm Danny--"
"HA!" Someone cried behind Lancer, jumping to reach over his shoulders and hit the button. A soft hum, a small vibration, came from the box he was holding. He turned angrily to Mr. Foley, who was laughing behind him, ready to give the boy a good scolding… until he caught sight of Danny.
"TUCKER!" He yelled, stumbling back and covering his ears, glaring angrily at his friend. He quickly swiped the device out of the stunned teachers hands and hit the button again. Then he threw it at Tucker, who ducked quickly, but still managed to bounce off his head and clatter to the ground.
He seemed to completely forget about his stunned English teacher. "What did you do to it?! That hurt!" Danny growled. Then he paused, his face turning to wonder. "And it kinda sounded like…"
"Ember McLain's 'Remember'? Thank you, thank you," he bowed to a fake audience.
"But why is it so loud?" He asked, rubbing his ears. "It sounded like a freaking tornado siren times ten!"
"Humm. Really?" Tucker pondered. "Well… I didn't try to do that… well at least you won't be able to ignore it like last time."
"Tucker! You wanted me to come help you put your pizza in the oven because you were to scared to do it yourself!"
"Hey! You know my oven! That thing is seriously—"
"Mister… Fenton?" Lancer whispered, causing both boys to turn to him worriedly.
Tucker looked confused, and Danny slapped him again. "Plus I hadn't even told him yet!" He hissed.
"You didn't tell him?! I thought we agreed that you were going to tell him!" Tucker yelped.
"Well I was about to… until somebody just had to fill his daily quota of annoying me." Danny said between clenched teeth.
Mr. Lancer wasn't listening to their soft bickering. "You're… you're…" he stuttered.
Danny hesitated. Then he slowly nodded. Quickly sending one last death glare at Tucker, he finally sighed, and said, "Well, if you haven't already figured it out yet… I'm Danny Phantom." It was just loud enough so only he could hear.
Lancer felt his throat freeze up. He couldn't seem to get his voice to work. It made so much sense… but at the same time, no sense at all. How could little Daniel Fenton be the world-saving Danny Phantom? "How?" Mr. Lancer squeaked.
Danny seemed to know the question was coming. "Remember a few weeks into freshman year? When I got into that lab accident? Well, turns out I got ghost powers," Danny shrugged, starting to get slightly fidgety again.
"Ghost powers," His teacher whispered, still in shock. But how do you jump from a kid suddenly getting ghost powers to turning into a city saving super hero? Normally he would have thought this was some sort of elaborate prank. He actually wanted to accuse Danny of it, just so things would go back to normal.
He had always hated change. But looking into his student's eyes, he knew that what he was saying was real. Plus with Daniel's brilliant mind coupled with his horrible grades, and his punctual lateness, he knew it all made sense in a weird sort of way.
Danny waited for him to say something, and made quick eye contact with Tucker, silently communicating 'he doesn't seem to be taking it too well'.
After a few more moments, Lancer finally squeaked "Well-" he cleared his throat. "This actually explains a lot." He managed to get out.
"Doesn't it?" Tucker chipped in, bending down and picking up the device. He handed it back to Lancer, who unconsciously took it. "I personally thought you had it figured out after junior year."
Danny ignored his friend. "Please, please, please don't tell anyone," Danny begged. "You put your trust in me by- " his words stumbled, "you know- helping me out in class and stuff. And now look," he fingered his robes, "I'm done! We did it!"
Tucker added in a, "Heck yeah!"
Danny turned serious again, "But now I'm placing my trust in you. Will you keep my secret? I don't think I'm ready for the world to know yet."
Mr. Lancer moistened his lips, and took a steadying breath. Keeping Danny Phantom's identity a secret? But what if he ever got hurt? This caused Lancer to think back again. Throughout the years, Danny had always come in limping, bruised, and generally battered up. Lancer winced at the memory. How could he have not seen the signs?
He could put a stop to it. He could tell his parents and possibly save his life. Of course Daniel wouldn't thank him now… just like he didn't thank him back when he sat him down after school and made him do his late essays… but then he realized this is different. Even if Lancer decided to go off and tell his parents, that wouldn't stop him. He would just sneak out. Isn't that what he's already been doing for all these years?
Plus the city really benefited from having him around. He had already saved countless lives. Even though Lancer had a slight hesitation he had known his answer from the beginning.
"Fine," He sighed, "I won't abuse your trust." He stuck out his hand, and Danny, smiling and looking relieved, gladly shook it.
"You don't even know how thankful I am," he said, chuckling slightly.
"Danny!" Someone called. The trio turned to see Maddie walking towards them, waving to get their attention. She stopped when she got to them. "Where were you? We went to grab you a drink, and then you were gone!" Then she caught sight of his balding teacher. "Oh! Mr. Lancer! I can't thank you enough for helping my Danny out!" She cooed, shaking his hand.
"Oh… it was nothing, really." Lancer said smoothly, hiding the fact he was still getting over the shock of discovering he taught Amity's own hero for the past four years. He discreetly slipped the calling device into his pocket. "Your son was always a great student. A pleasure to teach really."
Tucker let out a snort. "Oooo-kay, what ever you say, Mr. Lancer."
"Paul." Lancer said, surprising himself.
"Paul?" Danny repeated, eyebrow delicately arched.
"Well, we're all adults now, and since I have the feeling we're going to be seeing a lot more of each other, I don't find it necessary to be so formal. I'm not your teacher anymore." He reminded.
In all the history his teaching, he had never allowed a student, graduated or not, to call him by his first name. Even some of the staff didn't know it.
"Paul." Tucker repeated, trying to get used to the name. He seemed to find it funny.
"Well, if I'm supposed to call you Paul, you have to start calling me Danny. Not Daniel," Danny argued back.
Mr. Lancer smiled softly, "will do."
"Ohh! There's your principal! We should snap a photo with her!" Mrs. Fenton exclaimed.
Danny groaned. "Moo-oom! Is your camera out of memory yet? You've already taken a bazillion pictures!"
Maddie, ignoring her protesting son, started to drag him away. "Thank you Mr. Lancer!" She exclaimed.
Danny couldn't resist throwing it in. "See you around, Paul!" He tried to suppress his laugh, but it didn't quite work.
Tucker trotted off after them. "Yeah! Bye Mr. Paul!"
He heard them laughing, so with an evil grin, he quickly reached in his pocket and tapped the button twice.
Danny jumped, and turned around, and pointed accusingly at him. Then he pointed to his own eyes and then to Lancers, in the universal 'I'm watching you' signal. Mr. Lancer chuckled slightly, and watched them until they were lost in a swish of red.
Graduation. The sadness, the excitement, and suddenness of change. Mr. Lancer still felt it hanging over him ominously, but this year, he smiled. With change came knowledge… and this year he learned that change wasn't always a bad thing.
The end! Quick oneshot. Good? Bad? Normally I'm not an oneshot kinda person, but this one stuck with me for some reason.
Plus I missed Mr. Lancer. So this felt good.
Dannnng! 30 some reviews for a little ol' seven page one-shot?! I want to thank everybody that reviewed and favored me soooo much! Thank you!!!