A/N: Okay seriously, this took me all day to write. My hands actually kind of hurt from typing… so you guys better read and enjoy this, got that? ;) And if you wanna be nice, leave me a review too ;D
Oneshot. When Danny gets in trouble for passing notes in class, he gets more than just a detention from Lancer. In fact, the book-loving teacher proves to be more than just another figure of authority to the boy as he gives him a much-needed shoulder to cry on.
I continued flipping my pencil as Lancer droned on about the intricacies of literature of the Elizabethan era. He was saying something about the importance of authors like Shakespeare and Marlow, who helped shape society as we know it. If you ask me, the works of some old guys from over a hundred years ago have nothing to do with society as we know it. Seriously, unless Marlow had some connection with Dash beating me up everyday or my parents embarrassing me in front of all of Amity on a daily basis, he had no connection with our current culture.
About ten out of sixteen students around me had fallen asleep at their desks while the remainder of the class busied themselves by doodling or daydreaming. I myself had now turned my attention towards the window beside me. I stared outside as my mind drifted to last night's fight with Technus, when he'd decided that three AM would be the best time to terrorize a sleeping town and wake up the ghost kid.
Honestly, did these ghosts even own an alarm clock? Didn't they realize that the early morning hours were meant for sleeping at home, and not meant for attacking a sixteen year-old kid who had already stayed up late to finish homework and chores? I figured at least Technus should be aware of the concept of time, what with being the ghost of technology and whatever; seriously, that dude was sooo getting a digital watch from me this Christmas.
I ran my hand across the back of my left palm, my finger tracing the scar I'd gotten yesterday while fighting. Technus really wasn't kidding when he said his wirreless ray-gun had been updated. I eyed the mark suspiciously, wondering why it hadn't yet disappeared. Usually my scars from battle were gone by the time I woke up, but this one was still fresh, as if I had just cut it a few moments ago. Well, whatever, surely it would disappear soon enough. It was probably just a really powerful ecto-sample that Technus blasted me with; I just wasn't used to that kind of ammo.
Pushing the thought of my injury aside, I was about to join the ranks of those who were dozing off in class as I crossed my arms on my desk and lay my head down to rest on them when I felt a sharp jab in my back. I turned to see Tucker, who was holding a pencil that he had apparently used as a poking device on my back. He was holding a piece of folded up paper and there was a smile on his face. I grinned as I slipped the paper out of his hand and quietly brought it to under my desk. Quickly unfolding the note, I scanned over it.
Wow, this is soo boring. Does he even realize that half the class is drooling on their desks? Are we supposed to take notes?
"Yes Mr. Fenton, to take notes would be a very good idea."
I stiffened as I felt Mr. Lancer reach down and take hold of the note in my hand. Crumpling it in his hand, he gave me a wary but stern look. "Detention, after school Mr. Fenton. Be in my office, and don't be late."
You'd think getting caught passing notes in a class filled with sleeping kids would be less embarrassing, but boy is it ever the opposite. I felt myself redden as a few people started nudging their sleeping friends, telling them to wake up so they could observe the scene. People started snickering and from the other end of the room, I could see Dash making a loser sign across his forehead. Sinking into my chair, I caught a glance of Tucker mouthing an apology to which I just nodded my head.
Detention with Lancer? This was going to suck. Big time.
I let my books fall out of my arms and into my locker as Tucker apologized again. "Dude, I'm so sorry. I had no idea Lancer had eyes in the back of his head."
"It's fine, Tuck," I replied. "No worries. If Lancer hadn't used the note as an excuse to punish me, he'd have found some other reason to keep me after school. That guy just has it in for me. Just go hang out with Sam and I'll meet you guys at my house later, okay?"
"Alright. See you, man," my friend said as he and his red beret disappeared into the depths of the empty after-school hallway.
I had just closed my locker door and was turning towards Lancer's office, when I slammed into what felt like a giant brick wall in a red and white letter jacket.
"Hey geekwad, what do you think you're doing bumping into me like that? Do you know what I do to punks like you, Fenton?" I heard a loud, obnoxious and all-too familiar jock's voice boom from above me.
I felt my stomach churn at the threat. Did he know that right then and there, I could blast him into millions of pieces of jock waste? Of course he didn't. No one did. And all through the 'Bully Danny' session we were about to have, I was going to have to hold my patience and pretend to be the defenceless little teen everyone thought I was.
With quiet determination, I muttered, "Dash, I'm not in the mood. Just let me through." I tried to swerve around the giant teenager to get past him, but apparently this was a futile attempt, as I felt his palm slam into my chest. I gave a grunt at the pressure applied to my torso.
With a small huff, I clenched my hands, trying to keep my calm. "Dash. Please, just let me through." It came out as more of a plea than the demand I had intended it to sound like.
Dash's looming face leaned in towards my own and I could feel his breath on my face as he spoke, "You know, I don't think I want to, Fenton. In fact, I think I want to do just the opposite."
Before I knew what was going on, I felt myself being hoisted up into the air by the front of my shirt, which was in Dash's clutch. My legs dangled down to about the level of his knees as he violently swung me towards the wall and pinned me against one of the lockers. I saw his fist curl up into a ball as a smirk spread on his face. Oh, I was so going to get it this time.
I braced myself for full impact. Wincing in anticipation, I felt my heart rate accelerate. Just as Dash's fist was about to collide with my face, I heard the clicking of heels. Someone was turning around the corner! I was saved!
Quickly, my captor dropped me to the ground. I crumbled down across the wall and fell onto the floor, my wrinkled shirt riding up my back and my head swirling. Despite my current state, I couldn't have been gladder to see Ms. Gilmore as she appeared around the corner. Her heels tapped against the flooring as her skirt billowed around her.
"Ah, Dash. Just the man I wanted to see!" she said cheerily as she observed the big, blonde oaf. "I know you've been keeping very busy with those football practices of yours, but let's see if we can't try and boost up your grade in my class just a little, can't we?"
With all the innocence he could muster, Dash replied, "Of course, ma'am. Football may be my passion but academics always come first." She smiled in response. Seriously? What- was this guy in a professional thespians club or something?
"I'm glad to hear that. Why don't you come with me and we'll see if we can get you some extra work so you can catch up to your friends, hm?"
Dash nodded, though he looked a little disappointed. Apparently another one of his passions was beating me up, and he seemed a little ticked that he hadn't gotten the chance to finish up what he'd started. As he jogged to join the teacher who was walking off, she turned and looked at me, and with a somewhat disapproving stare, she said, "Danny, you'd best put your shirt down or you'll catch a cold. I know you teenagers have strange styles nowadays, but honestly! "
And with that, the two of them turned another corner and vanished from the hallway and from my sight.
I let a sigh of relief escape my lips. As I rose and adjusted my shirt and ran my hand through my hair, I caught a glance of the clock hanging on the wall.
Oh man. Fifteen minutes late? As if I needed another reason for Lancer to punish me…
Hurriedly, I ran down the hallway, turning left and right when necessary- I knew the way to Lancer's office by heart now, seeing as I'd been called there so many times. I reached the door marked Edward Lancer and came to a stop. Then, mustering all my courage, I brought my fist up to the door and knocked.
Barely a moment passed before the door was opened and a large, out-of-shape teacher stood towering over me, a hard expression on his face.
"Late again, Mr. Fenton?" He raised an eyebrow.
A nervous chuckle was all I could manage in response. After a few more moments of trying to wear me down with his icy glare, Lancer gave a sigh and let me into his office.
"Have a seat," he said offhandedly as he took a seat at his desk. I sat down in the chair in front of him. Clasping his hands together, Lancer stared me straight in the eyes.
Oh boy. I knew that look. This meant he wanted to talk to me. Ugh, couldn't this just be one of those awkwardly silent detentions where no one spoke until it was time to go?
"Mr. Fenton," Lancer began, his tone even, "I'm assuming you realize that this detention wasn't assigned to you solely for your antics in class today?"
Antics? Since when was reading a note that someone else passed to me considered as an antic?
"I've been receiving complaints about you from all your teachers. You're always late to class and your homework is never completed. Not to mention that you constantly disappear on the pretence of needing the washroom, but then never return to class. This is serious, Danny. I've never seen this type of behaviour from your sister and up until two years ago, I'd never seen it in you either. I'm afraid if things don't change, a suspension will be in order."
I felt my insides churn. A suspension? No, they couldn't do that to me…they just couldn't…
"Danny," my teacher resumed speech, his voice softening slightly, "What's going on? If you can tell me then maybe I can help. That's what teachers are for, you know," he added lightly when I didn't respond to his question.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I couldn't tell him. I wanted to…I want to tell someone, but I couldn't…I had invested too much into my secret to give it all up now. And besides, what would my parents think if they found out? They'd probably renounce me as their son and use me for their very own ghost expunging experiment. In any case, this wasn't just about me. I had Tucker and Sam to cover for to. They were in this just as much as I was, and if I exposed myself, I exposed them. They'd get in so much trouble with their parents…and maybe even with the law, once the GIW found out they'd been aiding and abetting public enemy number one.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you wouldn't understand…" I finally said.
Somewhat offended, Lancer countered, "Danny. I didn't go through four years of Philosophy in university just to have a sixteen year-old question my level of understanding."
I remained silent at this. What could I say? Four years of Philosophy or not, he still wouldn't be able to understand my predicament. No one would.
"How about if I try to guess?" Lancer tried. "All you have to do is nod or shake your head."
I frowned. What, he was going to deduce that I was half-ghost through a guessing game?
Without even waiting for me to confirm that I wanted to play his game, the teacher spoke. "Is it a problem at home? Are your parents neglecting you? I realize their job can be rather demanding, especially in a town like Amity."
Slowly, I shook my head. No. No it wasn't my parents. It was me. I was half-dead, and I was simultaneously trying to live a regular teenager's life. I was bursting at the seams to tell him that I was the problem.
"Alright, is it a problem with your friends? Or maybe with your peers? Are you being pressured into doing something you don't want to?"
Was he implying drugs? He thought I was binging on alcohol or something? Again, I shook my head. He was so off.
Lancer's forehead seemed to crease in thought. I could only imagine what was running through his mind at the moment. Maybe he thought I was lying? Whatever, what did it matter? Either way, he wasn't getting an answer out of me.
"Well, do you think maybe you could give me a-,"
"Mr. Lancer, I'm sorry. But I'm not going to tell you. I just can't."
"Well then, Danny, if you refuse to tell me, I'm afraid the only answer is to give you a suspension," he said, his voice holding a tone of finality as he rose form his desk.
My mouth dropped. No…no, he couldn't really suspend me. I was going to get in so much trouble with my parents. I felt my mind swirl relentlessly. He couldn't do this to me. Not after everything I'd done for this town. Not after all the times I'd saved him and this school from ecto-freaks. It just wasn't fair.
I don't how or why, but suddenly something inside of me burst, and it all came gushing out like a waterfall.
"You can't do this, Mr. Lancer! You just can't! I'm sorry, but I'm only doing my best! I'm trying to juggle a teenage life along with all the trials life throws at you," I said desperately. "Do you know what it's like to go to school, hoping it will be a better day than yesterday and ending up doing worse than ever before? Do you know what it's like trying to keep to yourself in hopes you'll be left alone to wallow in your misery, but instead being used as the punching bag for the school football team? Don't you understand how hard it is to keep coming home to a disappointed mother and father, telling you your grades aren't high enough and your ambitions aren't good enough?
"It's not easy, Mr. Lancer, to be me. You might think I'm just some slacker, but there's so much more to my life than that. You don't understand what it's like to feel like you're about to fall apart any second if you get one more jab, one more punch, or even just one more dirty look. All you try to do is help others, and in the end, all you get is punishment."
By the end of my rant I was out of breath, my face was flushed, and I was barely able to stop myself from crying. My ears were red hot and I wasn't even bothering to wipe away the tears that were now trickling down my face. My vision was blurry and a few sobs escaped my mouth as I hyperventilated lightly.
Suddenly, I found my hand was sitting under Lancer's. His eyes were boring into mine in a searching expression. Finally, he spoke.
"Daniel, maybe you're right. Maybe I can't understand what you're going through. But you know what? You're a strong kid. Just to have held out so long proves that to me. You've got a good heart. I see that when I see you helping others pick up their fallen books in the hallways or when you smile at the kids that most people sneer at when they walk by. There may be more to you than meets the eye, Danny."
I shut my eyes tightly, and in a low, cracking voice, I managed to speak. "Oh Mr. Lancer, there is so much more. So. Much. More."
"Which is why I'm going to let you go."
A few moments of silence passed before I realized what Lancer had just said. He was going to let me go? I brought a hand to my face and wiped away the tears with my sleeve.
"Why?" I asked, my voice watery.
"Because Daniel, you'll find that as you mature, things aren't always black and white. At school, we try to teach you right from wrong by handing out detentions or by handing out rewards. But you'll find, Danny, that in the real world, it's not quite as simple as all that. Sometimes all we really need is to get someone to listen to us and to understand us. And Danny, I think that out of all the students at Casper High, you're the most ready for the real world, because in a way, you've already entered it."
He let go of my hand before rising and closing his briefcase, which had been sitting to the side of his desk. "You're free to go, Daniel," he said with a small smile, his tone seeming to hold a deeper, underlying meaning. Then, without another word, he rose and headed for the door.
I sat in my spot, startled. Funnily, I didn't even care that the teacher was letting me off. In fact, all I cared about was that he had understood me. Even if just for a moment, Lancer took the time to listen to me and to help me. Not as a teacher speaking to a student, but as a human being speaking to another human being.
In wonderment, I watched as Lancer walked away, holding his briefcase in one hand. I may not know much, but one thing was for sure, I knew I would never again disrespect him or let my friends bring him down. Because somehow, Mr. Lancer really wasn't as bad as everyone made him out to be.
In fact, he was kind of like me.