Disclaimer: Danny Phantom and all related characters and information are the property of Butch Hartman and Viacom International, Inc.
I am sorry that this story took so long to get written. I meant to be done with this, as well as the other four Hearkenings, a while ago, but my life has just been one long string of stuff coming up when it was least expected. Hopefully, I can get my rear in gear and actually get all of my work out there by the end of the year, though I'm figuring a bit of what I'm doing is going to bleed over into 2011. Here's to hoping nothing ELSE interferes with my life. Last year was bad enough.
Werewolf of Suburbia, thanks so much for the review to my story all that time ago. Here's the end result of your submission.
An hour had passed since Danny's surprise visitor had come and gone, and in that hour, a decision had been made. If this entity was as strong as Wulf had led him to believe, Danny was in for a massive fight. Anything able to completely level the entire western wing of the prison had to have been powerful, and with twenty ghosts released alongside him, there was the ever-present risk of them coming to Amity Park, especially with the Fenton Portal downstairs being a free pass into the human world.
Walking downstairs, it barely surprised him that his mother was still the only other person home, and she smiled towards him as he plopped down at the table. "Hungry?"
"A little," Danny answered, apprehensive about what he was about to do. "Mom, I have a question."
"What is it?" Maddie asked, turning away from the grilled cheese sandwich she was preparing.
"If someone you knew had a really big secret that they were keeping, what would you do if they told you?"
Maddie flipped the sandwich before answering. "I'd want to know why they kept it, and why they trust me with it. After that, it's all a matter of what the secret has to deal with, and if they need help with it."
"And if it had to do with ghosts?"
"Why? Have you seen a ghost lately?" Maddie would have never expected this topic to come up with her son, but if the door opened on it, she was willing to look inside.
"Actually, yeah, Mom, I have."
"Anything special about it?" she asked, sliding the sandwich onto a plate and resting the pan on the stove to cool. She poked the sandwich with the spatula, slicing it in half, before tossing the spatula into the sink to wash.
Danny swallowed against the fear and the hatred for the name he was about to use, and answered his mother, waiting just long enough for her to put the plate down in front of him, so as to prevent her from dropping it. "It was Inviso-Bill."
Maddie was immediately on the defensive. "What did he do to you? Are you hurt? Did he bother you? What happened?"
"Nothing happened, Mom. It's not like that...it's...it's hard to explain." Danny nudged his plate. "I guess the best way to say this would be that I saw him in the mirror."
"So he was floating outside your room and just...poof?"
Danny lowered his head. "Not exactly. I kind of meant something with asking about that secret thing earlier." Looking up at his mother, his radiant emerald eyes found his mother's startled lavender ones. "After the accident in the lab a while back...I found out I was like this. I tried to do what I could to keep the town safe, but...I haven't done a very good job, have I?" His eyes returned to their normal sapphire, and he couldn't help but feel the pang of tears gripping at his eyes. "I've put so many people in danger when all I wanted to do was help and make a difference in this town."
Maddie, suddenly lost between her scientific need to understand and her motherly affection for her son, could do nothing for a moment but lower herself into the seat nearest her, gazing thoughtfully at her son, emotions intermingled between hatred for the ghost and sympathy for her child.
"And before you ask, Mom, no, he doesn't have me overshadowed. I am Inviso-Bill, though prefer the name Danny Phantom."
Finally finding her voice, Maddie uttered a single word - "Why?"
"Why did I walk into the portal or why did I hide the ghost thing from you and Dad?"
"Both, I guess."
"Well, Sam told me that it would be cool to find out what was in the next world, and we all figured that nothing would happen because it didn't work. I put on the suit you and Dad got for me, went in, and while I was inside the portal, my hand hit a button on the wall and...well, bam, I got electrocuted, for lack of a better word, and the ectoplasm from the Zone must have been..."
"Bonded with your human genetics," Maddie finished. "That was a theory Jack and I were working on during our college years, but it fell through after Vlad's accident. We honestly didn't think it was possible for the two energies to maintain the required homeostasis to keep a person alive."
Danny smiled faintly, nudging apart the two halves of his sandwich. "As for why I kept it a secret...I didn't want you and Dad to use me as an experiment, or dissect me or anything like that. You two are so into this ghost hunting thing that I thought you'd...forget I was your son since I'm...sort of not anymore."
Maddie stood up and walked over to her son, kneeling down as she took him into her arms. "Danny, despite the way we act, you're still our son, no matter what happens to you or what you do with your life. You should have told us about this, though. There's so many things that could happen to you because of this."
"A lot has already happened, Mom. You have no idea how many ghosts I have to fight on a weekly basis, and how much I really hate that I do. I want to help make a difference, but I want to be myself, to be Danny Fenton for a while, and that's really hard when I have so much I have to do to protect this town and those I'm close to."
"And I can fully understand that kind of mindset, but you've done a lot of bad things, too, Danny, and that's what I don't understand. We didn't raise you to be that way, and there's only so much that being a ghost can steal from you." Maddie pulled the chair around the table so that she could sit next to her son.
"That's the issue, though. I didn't do half the stuff I'm being blamed for." Danny pushed his plate aside, letting his head fall against the table. "I knew you wouldn't understand."
Maddie rubbed her son's back gently, feeling his body shake with restrained anger, through the target of his rage was unclear to her. Reaching around his slight frame, she held him close to her, running her hand over his hair like she'd done so often when he was younger. Memories of his youth flashed through her mind at that notion, and Danny, similarly caught in the web of comforting reminiscence, slid over into his mother's grip, resting his head on her shoulder. "Shh, sweetie, it's okay. It's not that we don't understand, it's just that we...we don't..." Reality struck Maddie hard, and she patted Danny on the back slightly. "We were so busy with being ghost hunters that we never really paid attention to what was going on. We should have noticed this about you long before now, Danny, and I'm sorry that we have been so...horrible towards you."
Waves of guilt claimed Maddie's mind, the images of her own son staring at the business end of a piece of Fenton weaponry coming forcefully to her mind, and she bit down on her lower lip to keep from crying out. Once she'd gotten her own emotions under control, she stroked Danny's back softly. "I know this sounds weird coming from me, Danny, but I need you to tell me everything about this ghost thing. I don't want to test you, I just want to know what's going on with you."
"What about Dad? He's been wanting to tear me apart for the longest..."
"Don't worry about your father. I'll handle him. Just...here, eat your lunch, and we can start talking about this once you've finished eating."
- - - - -
Walking down into the lab, Danny thrust his hands into his pockets, more than concerned about telling his father. His mother had taken it well enough, but he was still worried about how Jack, the more ghost-centric one, would take it, and that was nothing comparative to the fact that his sister hadn't known about this...
Finally reaching the bottom stair, Danny looked up, a sinking feeling taking over his stomach as he saw his family sitting down in the lab by one of the computer banks. None of them had even noticed his entry, and he figured that getting this over with was better than standing around like a lout.
"What's up?" he asked, the nervousness he was feeling evident as his voice broke slightly.
The three Fentons turned their attention away from the computer screen that Maddie had been working at, and Jack mustered up a smile before standing and taking his son into his arms. No words were exchanged, but Danny knew that whatever happened to him, his parents were behind him one hundred percent.
Pulling away, Danny looked over at his sister, waiting for her reaction to the news. When she met his eyes, he saw something in them that he couldn't identify, and it worried him that she was hiding something, either from him or from their parents. Shunning the thought aside, he faced his father. "So, what's going on?"
"Danny, my boy, your mother and I were talking, and we...we'd like to see just what you're capable of, and if it's okay, run a couple of tests."
Maddie stood and walked over to her son as she saw the look of panic cross his face. "It's nothing serious, Danny, we just need a blood sample from your human form and ectoplasm from your ghost form. We need to make sure that the anomaly in your system isn't going to present a risk to you later on. Just that, and nothing else. Nothing invasive."
Danny relaxed slightly, feeling the familiar soothing warmth of his mother's hand on his shoulder. "Okay, I guess."
Sitting down on a nearby chair, Danny looked away as his mother drew a sample of blood, his eyes catching the receding form of his sister as she headed upstairs. Worry renewed in his mind that his sister was hiding something, and Danny silently pleaded that it wasn't something to do with their parents…if they were using this as a ruse to capture him...
Shaking his head, Danny ran the fingers of his free hand through his hair. "I know this has all been a lot to take in over a really short amount of time, but what would you say if I told you that there was another half-ghost like me?"
Jack and Maddie glanced at each other for a moment before Jack shrugged. Maddie turned to her son, and she bit her lip before speaking, her voice low and soft. "Who is it?"
"Vlad," Danny answered plainly. "He's been using his powers since he found out the accident gave him those abilities. He's taken over companies by overshadowing the owners, robbed banks because no one can see him when he's invisible, and he's spent the last twenty years trying to figure out how to kill Dad just because he thinks that Dad stole you away from him. He's been trying to get me to join him ever since the class reunion trip, when he found out I was hybrid. I've just never been able to say anything because he threatened my exposure if I ever told you what he was."
Jack immediately went into overprotective father mode. "If he even thinks about harming one hair on any of our heads, he will pay! Nobody hurts my family and gets away with it, even if they were my friend!"
Danny raised his free hand in what looked to be either a calming manner or the international symbol of surrender. "Dad, hold up. I get where you're coming from, but I've had my fair share of beatings from Vlad. He's no pushover, and he knows how to counter Fenton weaponry. He's been designing his own for some time now."
"Even more of a reason that I wouldn't mind tearing him apart, molecule by molecule," Jack answered.
Maddie looked over at her husband. "Jack, right now, we need to focus on Danny. The idiot ex-friend can wait." Turning back to her son, she tilted her head to the side in an inquiring gaze. "So, what is it like, being part ghost?"
Danny thought about it a moment before answering. "It's…weird, to say the least. When I transform, it's like the world pulled back a few layers of gauze or something from me. Every sense is hyper-aware, and things that just looked normal to me before are snapped into stark contrast with the rest of the world surrounding it." Danny rested a hand against his chest. "My heart slows down to only about three or four beats a minute, and I can manage nearly an hour or so without having to breathe. Hunger and thirst don't affect me in that form, but if my human body needs something, it hits like a ton of bricks when I change back."
"So you're in full control of yourself in that form?"
"For the most part," Danny answered softly, his hand immediately going to the back of his neck.
Danny's sign of nervousness raised a number of red flags for Maddie, and she ran her fingers over his hair before drawing the needle out of Danny's other arm, having collected five vials of blood during their talk. Drawing the needle out, she was shocked to see a coil of vibrant green energy course over his arm, and when it vanished, the small hole left by the needle had disappeared completely. "What…?" she asked, stunned.
"I heal really quickly because of my powers. It's kind of a necessary ability, considering all that's happened to me over the last few months. If I didn't heal as fast as I do, I'd have been hospitalized on numerous occasions, if not killed in action." Danny winced at the look of horror that crossed his mom's face. "Sorry."
"Don't be," she replied. "Like I said before, we should have noticed this about you long before now." She let her eyes pass over him once before mustering the strength to ask about his earlier motion. "What did you mean by saying that you're only in control for the most part?"
Danny hung his head. "The…thing with Freakshow recently. It showed me just how weak I really am in that form. He barely had to think about using the orb on his staff, and I was a mindless servant to his whims. It nearly cost Sam and Tucker their lives because I couldn't fight against the mind control."
Jack looked over at his son. "If you're that concerned about other people, why do you even let Tucker and Sam hang around you when you go…hunt ghosts?" Jack blinked, his mind still trying to get around the idea that a ghost hunted other ghosts, but seeing as the ghost was both his son and still half-human, it made for a slight degree of understanding.
"Tucker and I have been tight since day one, and Sam wouldn't let up if I told her I wanted her to stay away. Neither one of them really cares about themselves as much as they do about me, and it kind of scares me. I mean, if something ever happened to them, I don't know what I'd do, seeing as it would be mostly my fault." Danny looked to his mother. "Am I right in letting them stay at my side, or should I be keeping them away during the fights?"
"All I can say to that is it's their choice, though I sincerely doubt that the Mansons would approve of Sam taking part in those kinds of activities."
"The Mansons don't approve of Sam breathing without them saying it's okay," Danny muttered under his breath.
"What was that?" Maddie asked, preparing another set of vials.
"The Mansons really don't approve of Sam being the way she is, let alone being around me and hunting ghosts. Tucker's folks may be a bit more understanding, but let Sam's parents find out what we do after school and they'd roast me over an open pit." Danny looked at his shoes, concerned with his father's relative silence. "Dad, you haven't really said much about all this. Are you okay with…with what I am?"
"Honestly, Danny, most of me doesn't even know how to respond to the fact that my son is halfway dead, let alone the fact that your mother and I have been after you like crazed bloodhounds. Had we ever gotten our hands on you in ghost form, I don't want to know what we would have done, and it scares me senseless to think that I could be that cruel and…to be that way to my own flesh and blood." Jack looked over at the vials of blood, watching as the red cells drifted downward, the plasma starting to separate and hover on the top of the vials, flecks of green flashing through the fluid. "Part of me wants to jump for joy now that we have actual living proof of the human-ghost interface theory we were working on in college, but the rest of me is beating me up for the way I've treated you."
Maddie readied the first of the new set of vials. "Danny, could you be a dear and…change for me so I can get the ectoplasm samples?"
"Sure," Danny replied, standing and closing his eyes. Still nervous about all of this, Danny took a deep breath to calm himself, reaching for the frozen center buried within him, unleashing the phantasm within.
Jack and Maddie watched in muted awe as a pair of bioluminescent blue-white rings snapped into place around Danny's waist, moving away from each other and changing their son's appearance right before their eyes. T-shirt and jeans were replaced with the black haz-mat suit they'd known Inviso-Bill to wear, and black hair bleached white, his eyes glimmering green as he opened them.
Knowing that his mother was going to need to find a vein to gather the ectoplasm samples, Danny reached for the zipper of his jumpsuit, pulling the tab down and removing the suit from his upper body. As his mother neared him, he saw her shiver slightly, and he averted his eyes from her as he sat down. "Sorry. I tend to drop the room temperature a little in this form."
"It's okay, Danny," she replied, taking the same arms she'd drawn the blood from and feeling for a vein. With such a severely slowed pulse, it was nearly impossible for her to feel the blood vessel beneath her finger, but after a few minutes of feeling around for the faint pulsation beneath her fingers, Maddie punctured his arm again with a fresh needle, green ooze sliding into the vial she had attached to the syringe. It took a longer time for the vials to fill, and this was spent in an eerie silence, Danny seemingly afraid to talk to them. Maddie had heard the echo in his voice, and she mentally slapped herself for not hearing her son's voice under that ethereal resonance, so clear to her now that she knew his secret.
As the fifth and final vial was filled, Maddie pulled the needle from her son's arm, watching once more as the ghostly energy moved over the small incision, healing the wound before her very eyes. The same lighted rings moved over his form once again, leaving the human Danny Fenton sitting in the seat.
Pulling his legs up into the seat and folding them under him, Danny hazarded a glance at his parents. "You know, I always thought that the first few days after you two found out would be a pile of questions or tests, depending on how you took the news. I'm a little surprised at how…reserved you two are."
Maddie and Jack exchanged a quick glance, and Jack was the first to crack a smile. "We really don't know what to say…or where to begin, for that matter. I mean, I don't know for sure about your mother, but right now, there are so many questions running around in my head that I don't even know which ones I should ask and in what order."
Maddie nodded. "It's the same way with me. There's so much that I want to know, but I don't want it to seem like we're turning you into our guinea pig. You are our son, after all."
"Not really," Danny replied. "My genetic code has been all screwed up and screwed with because of the accident. Technically, I'm not anyone's son at this point."
Jack shook his head. "By blood and genes or not, you're still our son. Your mother spent nine months carrying you, and we've spent the last fifteen years raising you, so don't start any of that 'I'm not the Danny Fenton you gave birth to' fooey. Neither of us want to hear that kind of nonsense."
Danny couldn't help the smile that graced his face, and he felt his nerves finally begin to settle, feeling much more at ease around his parents now that they'd gotten at least a few things out in the open.
"So, what can you do?" Maddie asked. "Besides the basics, like flying and turning invisible."
Danny leaned forward slightly, mentally pouring over the abilities he'd learned since he'd acquired his powers. "Well, I can walk through solid objects, and I can manipulate my ghost energy into beams. I can turn myself and anything I come into contact with intangible or invisible, and…It would be easier to show you, wouldn't it?"
- - - - -
"Jazz?" Danny asked, knocking lightly on her bedroom door. "Can I come in?"
"One second, Danny," came the reply, and he closed his eyes, letting his ears take over. Amidst the sounds of moving cloth, likely her getting off the bed, he heard the faint flutter of paper, which meant that Jazz had either been writing in her journal or reading one of their mother's ghost psychology books. A muffled thud reached his ears, and he opened his eyes, not wanting to appear as if he'd been snooping. "Okay, little brother."
Pushing the door, Danny walked in, head bowed, feeling unable to bring his eyes to bear on his sister. The last member of the family he would talk to was the one that seemed most distant since he'd let them all in on his secret. "Jazz, about what's been going on today…"
"I know," she answered.
"Yeah, I realize that. I just wanted to let you…"
Jazz stopped him once more. "No, Danny, I don't mean I know in the sense of you talking to Mom and Dad today. I mean it in the sense of I've known you were Danny Phantom. I've been doing what I can behind the scenes, trying to keep Mom and Dad from realizing that you're out every night, beating the tar out of whatever spook happens to cross your path."
"How long have you known?"
"Since the Spectra thing. I figured it wasn't for me to push you to tell me, that it would be easier on you if you came to me about this and let me know. I'm just confused about why you waited so long to talk."
Danny huffed. "If you could live my life for one day, I think you'd understand why I was always afraid of talking to anyone about it." He looked away for a moment before his eyes turned to the carpet between his shoes once more.