Sorry about this one taking YEARS to write, but… I just did not want to write this. Writing is fun and recreational for me, and when something isn't fun to write anymore, I tend to stop writing it. That's what happened with my Naruto fics. I lost all motivation to write anything Naruto-related with what Kishi started pulling in the canon manga (which I also stopped reading) and have yet to rekindle the fire enough to rewrite them, because honestly re-reading them… a lot of it is fucking stupid shit I can't feel good about continuing without changing it first. Anyway, most of you probably don't care about those fics, being Danny Phantom and Teen Titans fans.
I wrote the first few chapters of this knowing the Dan fights were coming up, and now that they're over… that excitement's dwindled a lot. It'll pick up the closer we get to the next big story point, though… but getting there is the hard part. This chapter just did not want to be written and fought me almost every step of the way. I'm incredibly sorry it took so long, but I'm also glad it's over with.
Another reason I took so long to get this out is because honestly… last chapter was a great point to stop at for a while. It was the end of the first story arc, and had fairly good closure on everything. I didn't feel terrible leaving it there. And that neutrality in leaving it combined with how little I wanted to write this chapter is why it took so long. Also college. How the fuck did I fail three writing classes!? (Technical writing fucking sucks) And I switched my major from artsy computer graphics (I'm a terrible artist, so half that profession was a terrible choice for me) to computer science.
At any rate, this is getting pretty long…
Back to your normally scheduled author's notes.
If you know what I named this chapter after just by looking at it, you win the internet.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Danny and friends are 14, almost 15, while Jazz is 17-18, yes? If not, we'll just say she's almost there.
If I get the layout of the Fenton home wrong, just ignore it. I can't remember every little detail about it, so I'm just making it up. If you feel the need to correct me, go ahead—just remember I'm not changing it.
And now, without further ado,
Chapter 6 - ectoBiology
NOTE: I got impatient waiting for my beta to read this and get back to me, since it's been done for two days already. I'll re-post a cleaned up version within the next week, but I've got finals I procrastinated studying for to finish this, so... yeah. Enjoy it, wouldja?
EDIT: I changed up one scene, adding a couple lines because a reviewer noted, quite rightly, that one of the scenes seemed a little creepier than I intended, but I didn't think much on it since it was a part I'd written more than a year ago and just wanted to get this done and out. I hope this fixes it up to the point where my initial intent with the scene now gets across more clearly.
The remainder of the night could arguably have been called a clean-up phase. Those that had been there left for the hospital as quickly as they could manage, especially after Danny collapsed from exhaustion. Mr. Lancer was recovering from shock, and not of much help either. In fact, with Cyborg's arm still damaged most of the work in evacuating the wounded to receive medical aid was done by the elder Fentons.
Let it not be said that Jack can't move like a greased leapord when duly motivated. He'd gone for help while Maddie stayed to patch up the kids and Jazz called for an ambulance. Surprisingly, she'd worked part-time as a paramedic to put herself through college for her engineering degree. A job she didn't mind at all; helping people and learning skills that came in handy in emergencies like this, not to mention patching up her kids' childhood scrapes. Those that knew them in passing would have been shocked at the efficiency with which they worked, even convincing Lancer to help manage the makeshift bucket brigade Jack was rounding up to manage the fires and collateral damage until the fire department could get there.
With Cyborg disarmed, he wasn't able to do much besides following Maddie's sharp orders, like 'put pressure here' or 'hand me that gauze'. The younger teens mostly just watched stoically as she'd bandaged up Raven and then Danny, before moving on auto-pilot to check Sam and Tucker for anything bleeding or broken.
It didn't take long though, before the fire crews and ambulance arrived. The emergency crews of Amity Park were a well-oiled machine after all the fallout the town had seen from its ghost attacks. With the others fairly stable, Raven was carted into the vehicle- sharing one last long look with Danny before the doors shut to ferry her and Maddie to the hospital.
Raven's state was bordering on dire. A moderate concussion, several bruises, cracked ribs and a formerly punctured lung, but none of it stopped her from noticing the way the Fenton Matriarch had fallen morose and even sullen after the adrenaline started to wear down. With the pleasant auto-pilot of an emergency situation stripped away, all that was left was time to think as they made their way back to the hospital. The teen knew exactly what must have been going through her mind then… The woman's hated enemy and beloved son were the same young man, and she was struggling to reconcile with this fact.
The young Titan nudged her hand into Maddie's knee to get her attention, before they shared a look and she said, "It doesn't matter what he is. He never stopped being who he is. You acting like this, doubting him… it just gives justification to him hiding it from you. Trust him. He's still your son."
The rest of the short trip was silent, save for the sirens overhead.
Maddie had barely left the hospital since the previous night. She'd showered there at the hospital, and Jack had brought her a fresh hazmat suit and underclothes. Then they just talked about what'd happened until Jack left to finish helping with Cyborg's repairs and generally lighten the mood back at the house.
Amity Park's one hospital wasn't the biggest, nor smallest example thereof that Maddie had come across in her days, but it was a good one. It'd have to be for her to accept her kids receiving treatment from them. She smiled to herself, not being able to resist the urge to think of Raven and Cyborg in some motherly capacity. They seemed so young to be heroes… then again, Danny did too. Her smile faltered at that thought. Her son was a hero. A half-ghost super hero… she knew she'd have to face the reality of it at some point. With a sigh, she opened the door to Raven's hospital room, which brought a smile to her face, seeing the stoic teen so uncomfortable half-tucked-in and wearing a medical smock.
She followed Raven's eyes to the stack of neatly laundered cloth in Maddie's hands. She honestly didn't remember when she'd picked up the titan's things. "Here." She said. The girl started getting out of bed, but faltered as she tried to reach the floor. "You need help?" Her aid was rendered moot as the teen simply floated up out of the bed and down to the floor. It brought a wide grin to the Fenton matron's face. "Ha. A week ago I would've called you a ghost and tried to catch you for a stunt like that."
This caused the younger woman to raise an eyebrow as she gave the redhead an incredulous stare.
Maddie shrugged. "World-changing events tend to have that effect." She said, nodding her head toward the bathroom and walking in. The rest of the room's beds were empty, but this made for added privacy. Raven had no recourse but to follow.
When they were both inside, the elder woman shut the door and handed Raven her leotard, but kept the belt and cloak. Raven's scowl deepened marginally. Their eyes met, and she could see the smirk in those purple eyes. She didn't need to feel the woman's emotions to know she wouldn't be allowed to change alone. What was it with Fentons and embarrassing her?
"You're not leaving?" The young Titan ground out.
"Not when you were hurt enough that a normal girl would've been in intensive care for a week." The woman started, before her tone turned chipper. "Your legs could give out and then you'd smack your head on the sink or something, and no one wants that."
With a sigh and a grumble, Raven turned around and undid the smock, letting it fall to the floor as she fit herself into her clothes.
Maddie had to admit, she was impressed. She didn't expect the girl's physique to be as well off as she saw. And not a single scar or tan line on that ash-gray skin, despite what she knew to be the younger woman's choice of outfit. It all really made her wonder… "How old are you?" She blurted quietly.
Raven tensed as she slipped the tight suit over her arms. After hesitating a moment, she replied. "Sixteen."
Right between Jazz and Danny… Maddie mused as she handed the girl her belt. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say anything. I thought you'd be a little older." Her grin grew catty. "I can see why you wear the cloak. You'd have all the boys back home up a wall otherwise."
The fact that she was turned away didn't stop the woman from picking up on her blush. She wasn't used to being complimented- especially about her body.
Maddie, of course, thought it was adorable how shy Raven was, when most girls her age would be flaunting a body like hers for all the world to see… within modest reason, of course. She placed the young woman's cloak over her shoulders, using the motion to position her hands in a comforting gesture. "You've never had a boyfriend before, have you?"
Raven tensed under the woman's hands, taking a moment to contemplate her words, or if she'd answer at all. "There was… once…" After a deep sigh that shook her to her core, she continued. "He was just using me."
With a swift but gentle movement honed from nearly two decades of motherhood, Maddie shifted her arms around the girl in a comforting embrace. "He hurt you, didn't he?" She asked.
The girl felt her eyes moisten, which honestly alarmed her somewhat. All she could bring herself to do was let herself be held and nod into the woman's bosom. She felt the arms encircling her tighten and hands rubbing her back in soothing motions.
And with that, the young woman started to sniffle.
The floodgates now opened, the girl couldn't help but sob into the older woman's chest as the seconds bore unto minutes. Tears soaked into the blue fabric as much as the water-resistant outer layer of the combat-ready hazmat suit would allow.
When the girl was done, and the awkward silence between crying and ending the hug to finish the last few steps of dressing had passed, Raven cleared her throat and softly intoned, "No one will ever hear of this. Ever."
Maddie could only chuckle.
…she still had to make sure the girl'd had 'The Talk' before letting her loose with Danny, after all.
Meanwhile at the Fenton Residence-
And so it was that she left Cyborg in charge of breakfast in the morning after his many proclamations of success in breakfasts at the tower, which led to a thankfully ghost-equipment-free meal preparation.
"It's so much better when I don't need to kill my food before I eat it." The youngest Fenton said as he stuffed a sizable forking of pancakes into his mouth.
"You've said that six times already." Cyborg called from the kitchen, where he was busily making more food in the hopes that some might survive the whirlwind vacuum that was Jack for his teammate and Mrs. Fenton.
"Doesn't make it any less true." was the boy's retort.
Tucker ceased his antics stealing most of the bacon and sausage long enough to add his own thoughts. "I've eaten over here loads of times. Trust me, it's worth noting."
Sam nodded as she finished her pancakes. "Strange things happen every time I've been here for a meal too." The pair had made it over as soon as they could that morning, not wanting to miss Raven's return.
"No offense, but I'll be glad my food will stop trying to eat me when I go off to college…" Jazz added.
Jack seemed completely unperturbed by the statement. He did, however, perk up along with everyone else at the sound of the door opening.
Maddie -hood down and goggles off, showing the bright red hair her daughter had inherited- was holding open the door. Then they all caught sight of Raven, cloak fluttering as it covered everything but her head. Her hair was combed over the bandages that covered her forehead and scalp, acting as a completely unnecessary hairband, while her eye twitched ominously. For obvious reasons, this drew far more attention than the blush currently adorning her cheeks. "We will never. Speak of this. Again." The teen stated.
It was this scene that Cyborg walked in on, wearing a borrowed apron and carrying a large platter of pancakes and plates piled with eggs, bacon and sausage. "Rae…?" He toned calmly as he set down his bounty, his eyebrow rising. "Your eye is twitching again. Things tend to explode when that happens…"
"It will never… be spoken of again. Ever." She stated again as she seated herself between Sam and Jazz. She then began piling food onto her plate and proceeded to ignore the world.
Maddie closed the door with a dulcet chuckle, before sitting down next to her husband as everyone either started or finished breakfast.
After their meal, they all found seats in the living room, except for Maddie and Raven, who remained standing. Jack and Jazz were both sitting in the chairs, while the other Amity teens took the couch. The patron of the family occasionally shot sidelong glances at his son, still reeling from the blow to his worldview, now that food wasn't at the fore of his mind. Cyborg wound up pulling a chair from the dining room to sit in, backward—his arms crossed on top of the chair's back.
"Now then…" Maddie started. "According to what I've heard from Cyborg as compared to our own findings and paranormal knowledge base, I think I can sum up most of the discrepancies without dallying too long on matters that would just be restated."
Raven nodded, shrouded in her cloak sans hood while leaning against the wall. The matron was leaned over consulting the spines of a small shelf of books. After selecting a title and bringing it over to the girl. Violet eyes widened slightly at the title.
'Ectobiology: A scientific study of the paranormal'
There was a rather long secondary title she didn't bother to read before looking back to the older woman.
"You can keep it if you like." Maddie said softly. "I've already memorized it, and Jack always asks me anyway."
The titan could only nod. A book in their study was a very meaningful gift between scholars.
"Ghosts are complicated things." The woman stated. "Even we don't know everything about them, which is why me and Jack have always been trying to catch ghosts to expe-…" The woman coughed, her cheeks flushing a bit, as she glanced at her son. "Erm, anyway…"
Danny could only glower at the subject and the shift away from it. Sure, he didn't like thinking about what his parents might've done if they'd actually caught him in phantom-mode, but it wasn't like he couldn't handle talking about it… he thought so, anyway.
"Ghosts can be summed up as- something charged by or merged with ectoplasm. That's as basic as it gets." She said after she'd gotten over her flustered state. "One could argue that Danny isn't a half-ghost as much as a ghost with a human form, by this definition." Several gawking faces met her words. "I know, I know. That's just the most basic definition, though. A more advanced definition is 'A spirit, specter, phantasm or formerly living entity or parts thereof that have been merged or charged with ectoplasmic energy, thus given a tangible form." Now the audience, save Jack, seemed oddly nonplussed. "It's not like we've had a ghost to talk to about this, before. Lighten up."
The awkward silence continued, Jack still turning concerned eyes to his son occasionally before jumping to his feet. "I think that's enough talk about ghosts for now." Everyone who knew the man, which now included Cyborg, gaped openly at his words. "Maddie, we need fudge."
It took her a moment to realize this was her husband's attempt at diffusing the situation, turning her despondently furrowed brow and affronted scowl into a well-hidden smirk that still reached her eyes. "Well fine, Jack. Just this once, we'll ignore ghosts for fudge." The kids turned their gawking to her at this. She shrugged. "Any questions?" She directed at Raven.
The girl was already leaned over the book, her eyes devouring the preface and table of contents as she shook her head.
"Well okay then… Jack?"
"Wait!" Her daughter shot up. "I'll go with you."
"Really, Jazz?" Her mother asked, somewhat shocked.
Her husband, on the other hand, was thrilled. "YESSS! Finally she understands the wonders of FUDGE!" The man notably hesitated before turning to his son. "DANNY! Want to come with and make it a proper family outing?"
The boy gave a sheepish smile and replied, "Nah dad, I think I just want to hang out with my friends for a bit…"
"Well, okay then." The man replied, before grasping the arms of his family's female members and gleefully sprinting to the garage.
"I sometimes wonder how I'm related to him." Danny remarked.
Sam shrugged with a grin, poking him in his side. "As long as you don't start blowing up like a balloon when you hit sixteen, I wouldn't worry about it."
"SAM!" He gasped with obviously false horror. "Not that subject again! The nightmares, they'll come back! Never again…"
The girl laughed at his plight. "I forgot our group is an odd one, for once the girl isn't the one worried about getting fat."
"Not fat, just big boned." He added snappishly, remarkably like his father.
"Don't think you've got to worry too much then, dude." Tucker shot over their female compatriot. "You're about the smallest-boned guy ever."
Eyes were rolled before Cyborg cut in. "Uhh… any idea what to do now?"
"Horror movie marathon?" The automatic answer had to be said.
The Titan's human eye fell squarely on his teammate as she met his gaze with a cold, half-lidded stare.
"Uhh… pass." He said quickly.
"Could always use a fourth player for Doomed." Tucker suggested.
The cyber-titan's grin was almost feral, and somewhat unsettling. "I've heard of that. You ready to get your asses handed to ya?"
"What makes you so sure you're going to win?" Sam shot back with a grin of her own.
Cyborg stretched as he smirked, following them up to Danny's room to play. "I should totally tell you guys about the time I whooped a game-obsessed super-villain's ass and he tracked us down for revenge for bein' a poor sport and horrible loser."
Raven could only smirk behind her book as the rest of them made tracks upstairs.
Jazz and Maddie followed Jack as he gleefully made his way through the town's premier sweets shop, one mulling on her thoughts and the other trying to reign in her husband.
It was five minutes after they'd arrived that Jazz stopped and firmly stated "Mom, Dad… we need to talk."
Both parents stopped and looked at her, Jack using this distraction to slip another box of fudge into his cart before his full attention fell onto his daughter.
The girl couldn't help but fidget under her parent's scrutiny before she firmed her resolve to continue, having made sure there weren't any other patrons in earshot. "I think… it might be best if Danny went with the Titans to Jump City for a while." She had to halt their replies with a hand before she elaborated. "We've all learned things recently that've been major shifts to our worldview. Danny with his whole future self business and you two with…" She noticed someone else passing by. "…what he'd been hiding from you. I think it'd be best if we all let things settle before…" She struggled a little to think of a proper wording. "Before we try to force normality on a situation that isn't normal at all, and make things worse."
Both parents shared a worried look at that moment, emotions playing over their features in ways that told their daughter exactly what they'd been thinking… and that she'd been right.
Luckily, the small Swedish-style chocolate and candy store was almost entirely empty, save for the clerk in the back rooms whose family owned the shop. Maddie stepped toward her daughter and grasped her lightly around the shoulders in a semblance of a hug, her eyes tearing up. "I'm sorry, Jazz. I know you're right. This is just… He's Phantom, but he's my Danny!" She pulled Jazz in for a tight hug, then, before sniffling away her tears. "You're right. We need some time, I think…" She pulled away from her daughter and turned back to her husband. "…Jack?"
The man was unusually silent, his face stern. Jazz could count on one hand the number of times she'd seen her father like this. The man really was brilliant as much as she'd like to deny it, and when he put his mind toward something other than ghosts and fudge, it was actually somewhat intimidating.
"He's my Dan-o. But he's Phantom. You're right, Jazz. I have no idea what to think of him right now." The man shook his head sadly. "Could you look after him? You're almost old enough to be out on your own anyway… and you understand what he's going through a lot better than we do. He needs you a whole lot more than he needs us, right now."
The two Fenton women were surprised by his words… they made sense, but… "I'll look out for him until I head off to college in a few months. More than enough time to make sure he settles in…" it went unsaid that being a part of a superhero team was probably much safer than going practically solo, even if he had sidekicks.
"Well then…" Maddie started after a moment. "Let's get home and see what Danny thinks of the idea."
I know I'm starting to make Raven seem like a crybaby, but… it's kind of intentional. Let's be honest here, she has a fuckton of emotional baggage. Her father is some super-demon (I'm pretty sure he's some sort of evil dark god, but my beta says he's just a trans-dimensional reality-warping neigh-omnipotent arch-demon thing. … Yeah) she spent the first sixteen years of her life thinking she was going to end the world, and I assume it was only some azarathian moral code that kept her from killing herself to prevent it, added into the fact that people with world-ending prophecies tend to be ostracized by their peers, and the hinting that her mother never loved her and never bothered to try and hide it… she's got some right to be a tad screwed up in the head.
Sometimes you just need a good cry to help you through things, and sometimes a good cry just isn't enough. We'll see. Definitely haven't seen the last of her issues, though.
Before I start getting yelled at about 'a mother's love' and all that, Yes. Her mother cared about her. Her mother worried about her. Her mother did try to help her. But, did she actually do it out of love, or an instinctual obligation to her own flesh? I got the impression that she was just as scared of Raven as she was for Raven. That's just my take on it, and you don't have to like it. I'm probably making too big a deal about this anyway.
On to other topics.
I'm a little fuzzy on the details, it's been years since I've seen that episode, but did Raven and Malchior ever actually kiss? If so, then I'm right, and if not, who cares. Pretty sure they did share one romantic kiss right before she broke the bindings on the book and then he was all:
MWAAHAHAHAHA! FOOOOOLISH SAMURAAA- erm, I mean…
The Fenton Hazmat Suits. Pretty sure that doesn't need to be all caps, but Jack would disagree with me. I looked up info on real hazmat suits, just enough to realize that my ideas of what they wore were quite different than the actual suits. Thus, I explain… The Fentons are ghost hunters. As hunters of things (of a paranormal nature) their suits would probably need to be stronger than normal. I assume they just… make their own. What I thought of was a single piece (aside from gloves, boots, and headgear) that was made up of layers that've been fused together. The inner layer would, of course, be a comfort layer—keeping the skin from dying due to oxygen deprivation or chafing or any number of other problems that come with wearing something skintight and, if not airtight, then at least watertight over you almost constantly . …Because while most suits don't seem that way, the Fenton ones certainly do look pretty skintight (on Maddie, at least). Above that is the actual protective layer that is watertight, or possibly airtight, as is the point of a hazmat suit in the first place- to avoid contamination from hazardous materials. And above that, is another layer of strong rip-and-tear resistant fiber over-weave. This is the layer that things can actually stick and possibly soak into, that was referenced in the scene between Maddie and Raven.
ALSO- is it just me, or do you think Role Playing and Action games just wouldn't be as popular in a world with superheroes and peril around every city block? It makes sense that there'd still be sports games and some FPS-style stuff, but I think the Action/Adventure/RPG type stuff might hit too close to home in some cases, getting the "That was ME last week" kind of reaction when you blow up a building and see a bystander on the sidewalk nearby. FANTASY games might be in good swing, but I just don't see any of the characters liking that, except maybe Sam, and she seems to play video games more to hang out with the guys than just for recreation. Kind of why I play WoW. The game's fun, but I stay for the other people that play it, not just because it's fun.
Wow… wall o' notes thar.
Anywhut, I hope everyone likes this, and forgives me for being away for so long.