Jazz was already at home, doing her homework in the study room, when Danny and his friends came over. There was a loud BANG against the front door, causing the sixteen-year-old to jump out of her chair in fright and stare at the door.
There was a pause before she heard anything. "ONE, TWO, THREE, I WIIIIIINNNN!" came the excited hollers of two teenaged boys.
The red-headed girl sat back down and glared at the door in irritation. "Danny, you dork," she muttered before returning to her studies.
The doorknob turned and the door flew open, sending Danny and Tucker flying to the floor beside each other. "OOF!" they both shouted as they landed. Tuckers glasses tumbled off of his face and his beret flipped onto Danny's head instead.
Sam walked over them, not caring by the least that she stepped at least once on their backs. "You guys are so pathetic, sometimes, it's hard to believe," she said with a yawn.
"We're not pathetic," Danny replied as he got to his knees. Tucker slowly raised himself and began searching for his bifocals.
Sam looked back at him and smiled. "Uh, yes you are," she replied.
"What fourteen-year-old races up the front door to see who wins?"
"Tucker and I do, that's who," Danny replied as he removed the beret from his head and placed it crookedly on his best friend's. When he saw that Tucker was still blindly searching for his glasses, he reached out and grabbed them. "Here, Bud," he said, handing the glasses to his best friend.
"My point exactly."
As Tucker thanked Danny and placed his bifocals back over his nose, Jazz leaned back from her chair and looked at her brother. "Danny, did you even ask Mom and Dad if they could come over?" she asked.
"Dad never notices, and Mom never complains," Danny replied as he helped Tucker back on his feet. "Besides; they'll be gone before Mom and Dad get back."
"You can't just invite them in on your own terms."
"… House rules."
Danny scoffed and waved an arm at his sister. "Jazz, I've had a bad enough day already, thank you," he said grumpily. Hoisting up his bag, he walked up the stairs, followed by his best friends. "I don't need you giving me a lecture to top everything off with a cherry, thanks."
Jazz waited a moment and got out of her chair in order to walk to the doorway and watcher her brother stomp upstairs. This had not been the first time Danny had decided to be just a tad rebellious—against his sister, that is. Danny never spoke back to their parents, never argued his mother's punishments, and never tried to avoid a topic his parents wanted to chat about, whether it be his grades or his messy room.
Once upon a time, Danny had always been cheerful. Once upon a time, he shared all of his secrets with his sister. Once upon a time, he was not afraid of telling Jazz what was bothering him. Once upon a time… he never snapped at her.
The sixteen-year-old stared up the stairs in silence as Danny's bedroom door closed. Then, she sighed heavily and went back to work.
Teenagers, she thought, although she did so with even the least bit of concern for her baby brother.
Danny tossed his bag onto his bed and sighed. "You guys are so lucky to be the only child in your family," he groaned.
Tucker shrugged while Sam took her bag off of her shoulders. "Sure, I guess," she replied. "But I thought you and Jazz got a long nicely."
"Yeah; when I was younger. She's such a nag, sometimes."
Tucker sat down on the bean chair near Danny's computer and yawned. "So; should we check this thing out now or wait a few minutes?" he wondered.
"I say wait a few minutes," Danny replied. "If we go straight downstairs now, Jazz will suspect something… Not to mention we actually do have to work on that project, Tucker."
"We've got until next Tuesday, Dude; we've got plenty of time!"
Sam pulled out her homework binder. "Danny's got a point, Tuck," she replied. "Besides; the last thing we need is looking suspicious. If we have Jazz thinking that we're here only to visit the ghost portal, or just to fool around when Danny's actually got some homework to do, then we'll all face grounding charges."
Tucker groaned and pulled out his PDA. "Fine," he mumbled. He tapped the digital pen against the screen of his hand-held planner. "Okay, so the best thing we should do is split the chores of this dinky project between all three of us," he began. He looked up at his best friends. "Who wants to do the research, the drawing, or the writing?"
A solid hour leaked by before both Tucker and Sam became restless. Sam had appointed herself as the artist—according to her, neither Danny nor Tucker had the drawing capabilities—Tucker took charge of the research and design of their poster, and Danny was going to write down every section and glue them onto the finished project.
But by the time four thirty arrived, neither Tucker nor Sam wanted to work on the project any longer. And although Danny had become once more a little concerned about showing his parents' ghost portal to his best friends, they insisted and even ordered him to get up and take them downstairs immediately.
So Danny did.
"Oh-ho-ho, no way, dude!" Tucker said in complete amazement once he and Sam gazed upon the giant hole in the wall. "That's like, THE most advanced piece of technology I have ever seen in my life!" He looked at Danny with bright eyes. "Your parents would become the richest people on the planet, Dude!"
"But it doesn't even work, Tucker," Danny reminded him.
"Yeah; but still, they built a portal! That's better than any PDA I'll ever see, and that's saying a lot!"
Sam walked up to the portal and pulled out her grandmother's instant photograph camera. "It looks like a big hole in the wall," she commented as she snapped one picture after another, "But heck, I'd give to have a lab and a non-functioning ghost portal instead of the cheerfulness my parents deliver every single morning."
Tucker ran up to the portal and leaned into it. "So, this thing is actually supposed to connect our world to another dimension or something?" he asked.
Danny stared into the tunnel. "Supposedly," he replied. "And it almost did, until it sparked and blew its battery."
"Bummer. I'll bet this thing would look so sweet if it functioned properly."
Danny looked at the strange microchip-like markings along the insides of the portal. "Yeah," he said softly. "Totally."
Sam took a few more pictures of the lab before turning the camera at the boys. "Say cheese!" she exclaimed.
Both Danny and Tucker looked at her, just as the bright flash went off in their eyes. They shouted in surprise and covered their faces.
"More like, say blindness!" Tucker exclaimed as he attempted to rub out the stars in his eyes.
"Sam, what was that for?" Danny cried out.
Sam waved the photo around and stared at it with a grin. "Oh, just for memory's sake," she replied. She held up the camera again. "Okay, I'll give more of a warning this time. Look here, guys!"
Danny and Tucker looked at her before placing their arms around each other and giving the peace sign. Baring their teeth, they grinned brightly.
Sam snapped another picture and then ran to the hangers in the lab were. There, she found an extra jumpsuit, white with black gloves and boots. It was the perfect size for a teenage boy, and she knew exactly who would look better in it.
Danny rubbed some last stars out of his eyes before turning at looking at Sam. By that time, the girl had tossed the jumpsuit at him, causing him to shout in surprise before pulling it off of his head. "What's this for?" he wondered, holding it up from the shoulders.
Sam held up her camera. "Look here, Danny!" she said, taking another photo. "Smile!"
Danny had no time to grin for that one, though he once more tried to remove the stars from his eyes. "Okay, I showed you the ghost portal," he said, becoming once more anxious. He looked around the lab. "So can we get out of here now? My parents could be back here any minute now."
"We have to go now?" Tucker moaned. "But we just got down here!"
"Yeah, and I'm not out of film yet!" Sam added, holding up her camera.
Danny frowned. "Guys, I'm not supposed to invite people into my parents' lab without them knowing," he said. "If Mom found out, she'd kill me!"
"But there's so much more I want to know about this thing!" Tucker pointed out, running to the portal again and rubbing its frame.
"What's more to know? It doesn't even work."
"Well, yeah, but—!"
Sam walked up to the portal as well and stared into it while grinning excitedly. "Come on, Danny," she insisted. "A Ghost Zone? Aren't you the least bit curious?" She looked at her best friend. "Put on that jumpsuit and just… walk in!"
"What?" Danny exclaimed. "Sam, are you crazy or something?"
"You said yourself that it didn't work, so what's the harm? C'mon, Danny; you've gotta check it out!"
Danny hesitated a moment, but then walked over to her and stared into the portal again. Like the same morning, his curiosity began drawing different theories of what was waiting on the other side of the portal—if it worked. What kind of ghosts—if they really existed—lived in this said Ghost Zone? Were they friendly or evil? Were there adventures just waiting to be discovered?
Did he have the courage to step into a busted portal, for just a few seconds, and take a look? It would not do him any harm, right? It wasn't active. Could he really be scared to not take this chance? Could he finally do something out-of-the-ordinary for Ordinary and Invisible Daniel Fenton?
Danny studied the portal for a moment longer and then finally grinned. Sure… he could try to spice it up.
"You know what?" he said, looking at Sam, "You're right." He looked up at the portal again. "Who knows what kind of awesome, super-cool things exist on the other side of that portal?"
"But you just said it didn't work," Tucker pointed out.
Danny looked at him and shrugged. "I was… just imagining things," he replied. He stared into the hole. "I mean, imagine if this thing really did work, Tucker… we'd be the first kids on the block, never mind the whole world, to see the other side."
Without a single hesitation, which was strange for him, Danny unzipped the front of the jump suit and slipped inside, one foot, one leg at a time. He slid his arms into the thin yet durable material, adjusted the collar and then pulled the zipper up to his neck.
Once he had suited up, he turned and looked at his best friends. "How do I look?" he asked with a wry grin.
"Like a Fenton!" Tucker said, holding out a fist. "A Fenton with guts! And a jumpsuit! You just need to get a few muscles, Dude, and the girls would be falling for you everywhere!"
Danny's eyes brightened. "You think?" he said, staring at his thin arms. He had never considered himself good enough to attract girls. "Maybe I should start doing weights or something…"
Tucker gave him the thumbs up until Sam frowned. "Hang on," she said.
Danny stared at her as Sam walked to him. To his surprise, she reached out and grabbed a giant sticker that was sitting on the front of the jumpsuit.
A sticker of his father's grinning face.
Sam crumpled it up and tossed it over her shoulder. "You can't go walking around with that on your chest," she said. "Not only will the ghosts make fun of you, but the girls on this side would run in fright. No matter how big your muscles are, Danny-Boy."
Danny narrowed his eyes and yet cracked a small grin, making Tucker giggle in the background.
Once Sam had taken one last picture of him, he turned around, coming face-to-face with the hole-in-the-wall which his parents called a Ghost Portal.
For a moment, it seemed as though his childhood fears were coming back to life; but he quickly brushed them aside, frowned boldly for a second, looked at his best friends—who gave him the thumbs up—and then took the first step.
Well, he thought, here goes.
He stepped into the portal, the sound of his boots clanking softly against the smooth metal beneath his feet. Danny felt a cold chill run up his spine as he tried hard not to give into the fears he had known for so long. His head was telling him to turn back and forget about this sudden courage.
But his body was forcing him forward. So forward Danny went.
When he had entered the portal, Danny noticed that the strange designs in the metal were glowing dimly with a blueish-green light. I guess Mom and Dad designed them to be simple nightlights in case they worked on the inside when it wasn't active, Danny thought. It made him wonder how much they would glow if the portal actually worked.
He had made it nearly to the end of the portal. Danny stared about in silent awe, amazed at his parents' hard work and stunned as to why it would not function. Everything so far seemed to be properly designed and built. And nothing was sticking out. So then, why didn't it work?
Danny remained awestruck at the design of the portal. He raised a hand as he walked in a little further. "When you guys build things, you guys build things," he whispered, reaching out blindly to lay a hand against the wall.
"Yo, Danny!" Tucker shouted out, causing Danny to turn and look to the entrance. "How's it lookin' like so far, Dude?"
Tucker's voice echoed in the emptiness of the portal. Danny shrugged. "Uh, so far, it looks just like the front of it," he replied. "Nothing different, except for the fact it seems to get darker as I go in further."
"Absolutely nothing different?" Sam asked, sounding as though she was doubtful.
"Trust me, Sam; if there was something beyond amazing, I would have told you already."
Danny turned his head back to the back of the portal again and stared at the circular design at the very end of it. It looked almost like a thick steel door, as though it was meant to be opened, but was firmly locked in place without a handle.
The fourteen-year-old stared at it in curiosity. Is that… something like a door? He thought, reaching out again to trail his hand against the left wall.
To his confusion, he felt an uneven surface beneath his hand as it landed, almost like a small but obvious bump. His hand fell gently against it, levelling it with the rest of the portal wall.
Danny froze in confusion yet had not even a split second to ponder this when the portal suddenly began to hum. He made to turn and see what had happened, if Tucker had accidentally found a way to activate something, but before he could, the inside of the portal filled with bright blue light.
Danny looked up and gasped.
"Danny, GET OUT OF THERE!" Tucker hollered.
But Danny was already unable to move, even before Tucker had shouted. For no sooner had the portal lit up, did it come to life.
Rods of electricity-like energy streamed around him in every direction, and suddenly, Danny felt his body go completely rigid. A burning sensation surged through him, like what he imagined powerful volts of electricity would feel like, causing his body to throb with indescribable pain.
He let out the loudest scream he had ever heard himself unleash. The lights in the portal grew brighter and brighter, going from blue to green. The humming got louder and the pain continued to rise.
"DANNY! Oh, my God! TURN THAT THING OFF, TUCKER!"
"How? He turned it on from the INSIDE!"
Sounds began to merge together, creating echoes that made Danny's head throb even more. For reasons unknown to him, he could feel his body begin to change. For split seconds, it felt as though his pulse was slowing down, even stopping completely. He felt his arms, legs and chest grow if just a slight more sturdier and stronger. His brain felt as though it would eventually explode.
But the worst were his eyes. At one point, Danny unwillingly shot his eyes wide open, which only worsened the pain. Now exposed to the power that was bringing the ghost portal to life, he felt as though his eyes were burning up from the outside.
And the worst part was that he could not close them.
Tucker and Sam stood helplessly outside the portal trying to figure out how to get their best friend out of it before he fried himself to death. Neither of them had seen the On and Off switches inside the portal until Danny had pressed the On one by accident. Tucker attempted to warn Danny, but it was already too late.
He pulled on his beret. "And he was worried WE'D get killed!" he exclaimed in fear. "Sam, what are we gonna do?"
Sam was searching the room with her eyes, trying to find something that they could use to deactivate the portal. "Like you said, he activated it from the inside!" she said worriedly. "But his parents have got to have something in here that we could use! But what?"
An even louder scream of pain emanated from the portal, causing both Tucker and Sam to stare into it again. Sam covered her mouth in horror.
"Oh, my gosh!" Tucker gasped. "What the heck's happening to him? His hair is turning white!"
Danny could no longer hear anything except for his screams. And for one reason or another, he could no longer feel his heart beating.
He was more than certain now that his body was completely on fire. Everything began to twist and turn. He heard a loud alarm go off, and then suddenly he felt as though he was floating in mid air, without any suspension holding him up.
I'm falling, I'm falling, he thought fearfully. Tucker! Sam! HELP ME!
His heart and mind screamed out for help, but all that emerged from his mouth were screams. He just wanted the pain to stop. He wanted to find some way to turn that stupid Ghost Portal OFF!
Suddenly, a loud swoosh-ing noise surrounded him, and finally, Danny found the ability to close his eyes again. He did so, but only for a second before looking towards the opening of the portal.
A swirling green vortex of light twisted into view and covered the entrance. The metal walls of the portal faded away, giving way to a vastness of green and purple hues. Floating doors, platforms and odd creatures littered this unending world.
The… Ghost Zone? Danny thought.
But he no longer wanted to know. He only wanted to get out.
Although it no longer felt as though he was burning alive, he could still feel the pain pulsing through his body. Danny forced himself to turn towards the vortex, having a feeling that that was where the exit was, and reached out as far as he could while groaning painfully and grinding his teeth.
Fly… fly forward…
He heard himself instruct him what to do, though the orders made absolutely no sense to him. Whether they did or not, however, Danny was willing to do anything to get out of his situation.
Fly, Danny… flyyyy!
They had watched as he transformed before their very eyes. Sam grabbed Tucker's arm and shut her eyes tightly, placing them against her best friend's shoulder to hide the scene that was taking place. Tucker forced himself to continue to watch, not only out of an odd curiosity, but also out of concern; if Danny ever did manage to reach out to him, Tucker would have to be ready to pull him to safety.
But to his complete and utter dismay, a green whirlpool-like light twisted into view and completely covered the portal entrance, throwing the entire lab into an eerie silence.
Therefore, it hid Danny completely from Tucker's view.
Tucker gasped in horror and reached out. "DANNY!" he cried, catching Sam's attention.
Sam looked up. "Tucker, what is that thing?" she said, pointing at the portal.
"I dunno, try Swirling Vortex of Doom!"
"Where did Danny go?"
"He's still in there!"
"I can't see him!"
Tucker hesitated, and then dashed towards the portal. Sam gasped and grabbed his arm, pulling him back. "Tucker, don't be an idiot!" she exclaimed. "You don't know where that thing leads!"
"But Danny!" Tucker tried pulling himself free. "Danny's still in that thing, Sam! We need to get him out!"
"But what if you go in there and meet your doom?"
Tucker was about to argue the matter when a soft hissing noise caught his attention. Gasping softly, he turned his head and stared at the portal.
Out floated a fourteen-year-old boy, but it did not look like the same teenager who had first entered the portal.
"Oh, my gosh," Sam whispered while covering her mouth.
It took several unbearable seconds for Danny to finally reach the green vortex and stick his hand through it. His vision began to blur with all of the pain he felt. He whimpered but forced himself to continue flying forward in order to reach the exit.
The vortex hissed softly as he passed through it. On the other side, despite the dancing images in his view, Danny recognized his parents' lab.
He floated forward until he was completely out of the portal; once he was, he sighed loudly in agony and collapsed to the floor.
Danny tried with a great amount of strength to overcome his still-present pain and got on all fours. He groaned behind clenched teeth and shut his eyes tightly. His arms shook at the effort of keeping himself up. His head felt light, yet seemed to weigh a ton, as he could not lift it very far. He gasped painfully for air, but it did not feel as though he even needed it.
His heart was still not beating.
"Danny! Danny, are you okay?"
Danny could vaguely make out the panicking voices of his best friends. That was when he decided to raise his head as high as he could and look up.
The blurred outlines of Sam and Tucker came into view. They seemed to recoil in shock. Tucker's eyes went wide and Sam covered her mouth.
"Sam?" Danny panted as his vision began to blacken. "Tucker? Wh-what's going on? Wh-why are you staring at me like that?"
But before he could even think of hearing an answer from either of them, Danny's arms gave in and he dropped like a rock against the floor. Black curtains fell over his eyes and everything fell silent.
"Dude, you okay?"
Echoes filled his ears, giving him a headache. At first, Danny was unsure of what was happening or where he was. He had even come to the conclusion that what he remembered occurring in his parents' lab was just a dream. Just a distant dream.
The thought and possibility made him relax. And when he felt his heart beating, it made him even smile.
"Why are you smiling?"
"Maybe he's thinking of Paulina."
"Oh, for cryin' out… DANNY! WAKE UP!"
Danny shot his eyes open and cried out in fright, causing himself to sit up straight. "What? What? What's going on?" he exclaimed.
"Dude, you're alive!"
Danny blinked several times before rubbing his eyes. "I'm… I'm what?"
When he looked about again, he realized that he was in his own bedroom, sitting on his bed, in the clothes he had been wearing that day—white t-shirt, blue baggy jeans and his red sneakers.
Everything was like it had always been.
Danny panted loudly before sighing of relief and falling against the pillow on his bed. He laughed nervously. "Oh my gosh," he gasped, passing a hand over his face. "Oh, my gosh…"
Danny finally turned his head. There, standing by his bedside, were Sam and Tucker, looking just as they had before.
Except for the worried looks on their faces.
"Hey, guys," Danny said as cheerfully as he could. "Are we still Monday?"
Tucker nervously rubbed his hands while Sam nodded.
"Cool… So then, why am I in bed?"
At this, Sam and Tucker shared an even more concerned look. This began to worry Danny, and his blue eyes filled with anxiety. "Uh, guys?" he said. "Why are you looking at each other like that?"
"Danny, do you even remember what happened?" Sam asked, looking at him again.
"Sssshhhhhould I?" Danny replied, unsure if he would even want to know.
"You stepped into the portal, remember?"
Remember… remember… remember…
Danny opened his eyes wide and froze.
"You accidentally turned it on—!"
His heart began to beat in his ears.
"—You just survived getting electrocuted—!"
A cold chill ran up his spine.
"—And you came out… Looking like a… a ghost!"
This word was unfamiliar to Danny. The fourteen-year-old widened his eyes and jumped out of bed. "A GHOST?" he exclaimed.
To his complete surprise, the room filled with a bright flash of light. Danny raised an arm and covered his eyes for a few seconds, until he heard Tucker gasp.
"Sam! Sam, he did it again!"
These words were unfamiliar to Danny as well. He uncovered his eyes and stared at Tucker. "A… again?" he asked worriedly.
Tucker and Sam were staring back at him with wide eyes. Sam slowly raised a hand and pointed at him.
Danny waited a moment before looking down at himself. What he saw caused him to gasp and widen his eyes in horror.
He was no longer wearing his every day clothes; instead, he was wearing a black jumpsuit with a white collar, white gloves and white boots. It was as though the jumpsuit he had been wearing had inverted colors. His body was currently haloed in white light.
"What the… What's going on?" he whispered in horror while covering his mouth.
"That's not all, Danny," Sam added, as he looked up at her. The girl gently placed her hands on his shoulders and turned him around to face the mirror that was against the wall.
That was the first time Danny had ever mistaken his reflection… to be a complete stranger.
He gasped in dismay and shock. His jet black hair had now turned as white as snow. It almost seemed to shimmer in the evening sunlight that was coming from his window. His cheeks no longer had the natural blush that his mother continuously complimented.
And then there were his eyes. His glowing… green… eyes.
Danny let out a soft cry and forced himself to keep from falling to tears. He walked up to the mirror and slowly raised a shaking hand up to his eye. He placed two fingers down beneath his right eye and leaned forward. For a moment, his mouth only mouthed inaudible syllables. "… Wh-what…" he began shakily. "… Wh-wh-what's happening to me?" he finally managed to utter.
"Some sort of transformation," Tucker said softly. When Danny looked at him, Tucker continued while nervously playing with his fingers. "Somehow, activating the Ghost Portal while you were still inside caused you to… transform, you might say."
"Transform?" Danny echoed. "Wh-what do you mean, transform?"
"We're not sure how, but you just… did."
Sam held up a small device which Danny recognized from the lab. She handed it to him. "When you activated the portal, it made everything else in your parents' lab start working like a charm. Everything ghost… was working properly. Including the portal."
"That thing is some type of… uh, ectoplasm indicator," Tucker explained while pointing at the device. "You know, that stuff your parents keep talking about that composes ghosts… Or at least, that's what we think that thing is. It sort of verbally announced its presence, so when I carried it over to you it…" Tucker fell silent here.
So Sam finished. "That thing started chattering like a juke box," she said. "It went on blabbering all this stuff that we didn't understand, and then it said that… your body was composed of… 50 % ectoplasm."
Danny stared at her in disbelief.
"You're… you're half ghost, Danny. Somehow, that shock in the ghost portal made you half ghost."
Danny continued to stare at her until deciding to look down at the device again. He placed his free hand over his chest. Would that explain… why I don't have a heart beat… when I look like this? He thought.
After a moment, he looked up at Sam again. "My parents…" he began.
"They're not here yet," Sam replied. "Though they'll be wondering why the portal is working…"
Danny waited a moment and stared down at the device again.
To his complete surprise, his hand suddenly turned intangible and the object sitting in his grasp fell through it and landed on the floor. Danny gasped in shock and took a step back before holding up his hand.
"Y-yeah, you were doing weird things like that too while you were out," Tucker added. "I can do some research on ghost powers, but from what anyone could tell you, that was intangibility… one of the basic ghost powers."
"Ghost powers?" Danny echoed.
"Wh-what are the other basic powers?"
Tucker shrugged. "Invisibility, which you did once or twice… and flying, though we haven't see you do that yet."
Danny stared at him in silence before looking at his hand again. Fear and concern filled his eyes. "What… what am I?" he whispered.
"Still human," Sam replied. "Though you are now half ghost too… I mean, we may need to dig into it a little more, but…"
Danny looked at her as Sam's voice trailed off and she looked away awkwardly. Tucker rubbed his chin while frowning worriedly and studied Danny's body.
"Dude, don't take this wrong," Tucker said softly, "But you actually look… pretty neat like this."
His best friend remained silent.
"Half human, half ghost, ghost powers…" Tucker looked up at Danny again. "I mean, you're not just Danny Fenton anymore… you're…"
The front door downstairs opened up and Danny's parents announced their presence. Danny looked to his bedroom door for a moment, making sure it was locked, before looking at Tucker again.
"You're not only Danny Fenton, Dude… you're… Danny Phantom."