The first week was great. No really, once Danny got past the awkward looks, and his friend's not-so-stellar reactions.
Sam was pissed. They'd gotten into an argument about it, Sam proclaiming that his secret was more important that showing off in gym class.
"You have a responsibility, Danny," she growled, "You can't risk it over something so trivial!"
"Trivial?" Danny returned, annoyed, "So, what, I can't actually try and get a good mark in a class that I can actually pass?"
"Not if it risks your secret!" Sam was getting louder, "You were way too obvious, especially that thirty foot jump!"
"That was barely fifteen feet!" Danny exclaimed, "No one's made the connection all week, and they're not going to! Besides, why can't I do something for my own benefit sometimes? Why does it always have to be about everyone else?"
Sam looked infuriated. Danny had a suspicion that this argument wasn't just about him almost blowing his cover. As much as he liked Sam, he'd always thought that she wanted him to be unpopular. She liked things that were outcast or different. She'd never purposefully try and bring him down, he figured, but on some level she probably felt threatened.
"That's enough, jeez you'd think you guys were four," Tucker said, annoyed. The greatest part of their trio was that whenever two of them got into an argument, the third would be able to defuse it.
Sam sighed, "I'm just worried about you Danny."
"You don't need to be," he said, reassured that she wasn't mad anymore, "I can take care of myself."
Tucker had his own problems with Danny's sudden immunity to bullying. Despite his friend status with Danny, Tucker was still shoved into lockers and knocked over whenever a jock passed. In short, Tucker was envious.
Tucker would never tell this to Danny, however. The techno geek was always the type to quietly simmer instead of taking it out on his friend. There was always a tension in the air though, and the hybrid would be very relieved when it was gone.
Jazz was actually happy that he was climbing up the social ladder. He really had to appreciate his sister for understanding his point of view, even if she faced it like the psychologist-to-be that she was.
"It's important, Danny," she would say in her best therapist voice, "that you don't let this get to your head. Remember who your friends are."
It was nice, in a way. Her comments often got repetitive, though. Quite a few of them Danny could easily quote, but then again he was used to his overbearing sister.
But the point of the first week's greatness was that Danny was virtually immune. Not once was he shoved into a locker, and even the teachers were treating him nice, compared to before. While the popular kids now just chose to avoid him, he was getting incredibly positive feedback from the other end of the social spectrum.
Every kid that had thrown a ball at him on Dash's orders had walked up to him and literally apologized. Not like they needed to, Danny knew what Dash would have done to them if they hadn't. It was nice, though. Except for Nathan, who asked Danny if the hybrid could get him a date with Valerie. Needless to say, this irritated Danny, as Valerie was a past girlfriend.
"Hey Danny," Mikey approached him, eyes shining in admiration, "Did you get that English essay done for today?"
"Oh crud!" Danny stopped, whacking himself on the forehead. Sam and Tucker stopped a few paces ahead and watched.
"You forgot, didn't you?" Mikey exclaimed, expecting this answer. It was common knowledge that Danny's grades were terrible. Danny wondered why he looked so happy about it, though. Mikey was shifting excitedly and reaching for his bag.
"I can give you mine if you like," he said, pulling out his own essay, "I got an extra title page with your name!"
Danny stared, incredulous, and oblivious to Sam's sudden frown behind him. Was he really that popular? He'd probably never even had a conversation with Mikey, and here the kid was, offering him his homework! Immediately, his head filled with ideas. If he actually tried to become more popular, then maybe he wouldn't have to worry about his grades anymore! Other than Wellness, he was still failing nearly everything. Not to mention his ghost hunting activities made it impossible for him to improve those grades on his own. After all, that's how Dash managed to pass—
And there was the problem. This was how Dash passed. Dash, who bullied almost every kid in the school and got away with it through his popularity and football skills, but Dash beat nerds into doing his homework, and Danny was being offered his. Was there any difference? The hybrid suddenly thought of his arch nemesis, Vlad Masters. Didn't Vlad use his powers to gain fame and fortune? Vlad didn't deserve the admiration he got, and Danny knew that he probably got a lot of free 'benefits' wherever he went. Danny looked at the essay again, hating himself only slightly less than if he would have if he had taken the alternative.
"Nah, Mikey," he said kindly, though he couldn't hide a touch of resentment, "You worked hard on that, you deserve the mark."
He turned around, a bit embarrassed, and walked quickly away, not wanting to see Mikey's face. If he had, he would have seen the blatant hero worship from earlier gain a touch of true respect. Sam and Tucker joined him again, as they walked down the hall in a moment of silence. Sam was the first to speak.
"I'm proud of you, Danny," she said, smiling at him.
"Yeah, good job bro," Tucker added, his smile a bit more of a smirk, "But dude, Lancer's gonna kill you."
"Argh, crap!" was heard quite loudly down the hall, followed by laughter.
The hype died down after a few weeks. Danny was no longer afraid to show off a small amount of physical prowess in the gym, so no one could properly deny the rumors that he was athletically equal, or more so, with Dash. The trouble was, no one could seem to decide upon the actual events of the story. The two jocks that had been there refused to tell their version, yet didn't deny any other story. People began to notice that they often shot furtive glances at Danny in the classes they shared. This could be explained by some of the rumors that Danny had actually beaten them up on that mysterious day.
Tucker was the one to notice how fortunate this was. Not only did those rumors stop Dash and Kwan from actually wailing on Danny (they were afraid that he would actually make the rumors true), but also those and the rest of the crazy rumors were a great cover up in case someone did make the connection between Fenton and Phantom. Who would believe such a crazy idea when no one seemed to know exactly how high the kid had jumped? Some people, like Paulina, thought Danny had gotten lucky and tripped.
The only negative change, in Danny's eyes, was that he suddenly seemed to have gained a second shadow. A third, and a fourth as well trailed after him occasionally. Mikey was always on his tail, seemingly content to do nothing but look at him. Sometimes other nerds and geeks would be trailing along behind him at a short distance. Danny figured the reason for this was because Dash was avoiding him like the plague, and a few of the blonde's favorite targets sought protection. It made it difficult at lunch and between classes for him to run off and 'go ghost' when that familiar blue mist escaped his mouth.
Danny smiled. For the first time in his life, high school didn't suck. He wasn't sure how long this change would last, but he would just have to take it as it came.
'Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.' ~Pauline R. Kezer
Hey guys, this was intended to be a one-shot, but I got a lot of feedback, and squeezed out a bit more. But this is it for this one.
I might get complaints on how I portray Sam. I don't hate her, but I don't think she's a perfect friend. It's actually pretty pro that the writers for the series gave her flaws, like her need to control Danny. She's often his moral compass, but sometimes what she thinks is best isn't best for him. In Phantom Planet, she wasn't thinking about how Danny was safer and happier as a full human, she was thinking about how he was giving up a responsibility that he never had to have in the first place.
Thank you to everyone that reviewed the last chapter. It feels great to get such positive feedback.