I was fourteen when I stopped tripping over my parents' names.
At first everyone (meaning Sam and Tucker) thought it was a good thing. After all, I had a secret identity to protect; Danny Phantom had no reason to call Maddie "Mom" or Jack "Dad." He had no reason to keep stumbling and stuttering around them. It was easy with Maddie- her name started with M- but it was a minor miracle that Jack never noticed when I started his name with a D.
Yes, they are both oblivious, which is usually a very good thing.
Anyways, back on topic. I had finally managed to call them by their given names without slipping up. In fact, I didn't even think of saying "Mom" or "Dad." I was pretty proud of myself, thinking that I'd finally divided my human and ghost selves so effectively that no one (sans those who already knew) would ever find out.
Then I went home and asked Maddie- Maddie, not Mom- how her day was.
Fortunately she was so put out by not capturing my ghost self that she didn't notice my blunder, but I did. It freaked me out- did it mean that my ghost self was overshadowing (pun not intended) my humanity? I'd seen what would occur if I let that happen, so I went to the one person who might understand why my halves were blending in this weird new way: my sister and personal therapist, Jazz.
Amazingly, she didn't wax eloquent with psycho-babble for hours and hours on end. She just nodded sadly and explained that as Phantom took up more of my half-life, I became more accustomed to seeing Jack and Maddie in their hunter/enemy guises. Therefore, my unconscious mind was beginning to recognize them not as loving, nurturing parents, but as threats to be avoided at all costs. This avoidance had several manifestations: physical, as in flying away in ghost form or distancing my human self; mental, constantly reminding myself that they were enemies; and finally emotional, which meant that I really didn't think of them as parents anymore.
Needless to say, I flatly refused to admit that she was right. Ghost hunters or not, they were my parents: they had loved me, fed me, changed my diapers, kissed my cuts (at least before I started hiding them), told me stories, comforted me after nightmares (this was before the nightmares started featuring them). In short, they were everything a mom and dad should be.
But as time went on, as I even started thinking of them as Jack and Maddie the ghost hunters, I grudgingly acknowledged that maybe Jazz knew what she was talking about. It was not a fun process. It was more like tearing a Band-Aid off too slowly. When I was fifteen, half-dead for a year and a half, I finally admitted to myself that I had a new family now.
Like me, this new clan was part human and part ghost, with another halfa thrown in for good measure. It was a bizarre, mismatched group of weirdos, but hey, why not? "Normal" (and I say that sarcastically- no one is ever normal, no matter how much they try to pretend) people wouldn't be able to handle the stresses associated with ghost hybrids.
First there was Jazz, the only member of my childhood family to make the cut. She's the best big sister in both worlds- just don't tell her that. We have this whole sibling rivalry thing going; if she knew I respect her she'd never let me live it down. She's my medic and professional liar, my therapist and strategist, though she's not very good at the physical side of ghost hunting. Sure, she can make new weapons and fight hand-to-hand, but Jazz inherited our father's aim. That's why she prefers the Fenton Peeler to the Fenton Thermos- she's less likely to shoot me with it.
Next up is Danni, my tough and fiery twin. Admittedly, we're not exactly conventional twins in the sense that she was "born" when I was fourteen and Maddie doesn't know she exists, but we're twins nonetheless. We even kinda-sorta grew up together, thanks to my favorite time ghost and deliberate amnesia. It's complicated, okay? All you need to know is that I used to have an imaginary half-ghost friend named Danni Fenton-Phantom (which is actually how I got my pseudonym- time travel is weird like that) who was my age and always hung out with me. Then Clockwork (more about him later) erased our memories so I could befriend Sam and Tucker and Danni wouldn't recognize me when she was living with Vlad. Like I said, complicated. If I have time when this entire messed-up story is done I'll tell you more.
My third and final sibling is Tucker Foley, goofball and techno-geek extraordinaire. Seriously, the dude's PDA is enchanted or something. How else could he do all that amazing stuff with it? I don't even know what half his techno-stuff is, much less how to operate it. Without Tucker hacking into Skulker's suit or blowing up Technus with a computer virus or making FentonWork's meager defenses ignore me, I'd have been captured and dissected a long time ago.
Lately I've been trying to hook Tucker up with Jazz or Danni so we can really, literally be brothers, but he's not cooperating. Is this how he felt when Sam and I were being clueless? If it is, I really feel sorry for him. And Jazz. And our parents. And Mr. Lancer. And everyone who kept trying and failing to get us together.
Sam, by the way, is my girlfriend. Because of that I don't really count her as part of my new foster-family- it would be weird to date someone who was related to you. Simply put, Sam is amazing. She's Goth, though not as extremely dark as she was a few years ago, an animal and plant lover, and an ultra-recyclo vegetarian. She has the best aim of my entire team, though she's weakest in techno stuff. That's fine, though; we've got Tucker and, to a lesser extent, Jazz, for that. She's also very fit physically and capable of taking down a few minor ghosts (i.e., the ones too stupid to go intangible) with her bare hands. Trust me, you have not seen epic until you've watched Sam get into a catfight- literally- with an undead saber-toothed tiger. And win.
See why I love her?
These guys are my core, the best Earth has to offer. Without them- well, I've seen what would happen if I lost them. It isn't pretty.
That… incident… when I saw what losing them would do to me is actually how I met the first of my full-ghost kinsmen, Clockwork. I'm not exactly certain what he is to me- part brother, part second father, part favorite teacher. The point is, we're related. He's the Master of All Time with all the duties and power that title implies. Remember the whole complicated Danni- imaginary friend- time travel thing I mentioned earlier? Clockwork's the one responsible for that, which really shows you just how brilliant he really is. He and Jazz, who has an IQ in the 200s, will often get together to discuss history or quantum physics or some other thing I don't understand, much to the chagrin of his obnoxious employers, the Observants. They don't like me. They wanted to kill me once (though for a totally justified reason that I don't like talking about), but the plan backfired and they decided to make Clockwork my guardian ghost. That really backfired.
Pandora has a far more defined role in my little family. She's my slightly scary great-aunt, a fierce and powerful warrior. She trained me in sword, spear, javelin, bow and arrows, all kinds of archaic weapons until I thought my arms would fall off. Speaking of arms, she's got four of them, which is odd even for ghosts. Sam thinks that the Hindus once glimpsed her and got the idea for Kaali, a multi-armed goddess of destruction, from that glance. I wouldn't be surprised. After all, look at what the ancient Greeks did to her. They turned my tough butt-kicking great-aunt into some meek little girl with a box. The box bit is accurate. The other stuff is not.
She hates that myth, by the way. If you value your life, you will never mention it in her presence. Same with Clockwork and Chronos.
My next ghostly relatives, Frostbite and Pyrrha, are respectively the King of Ice and Queen of Fire. I mention them together because they're getting married in about a month to end a centuries-old war between their respective nations, Far Frozen and the Burning Lands. They're both elementals who trained me when I got my ice and fire powers. Unfortunately, they used to hate each other's guts until Danni and I lost patience and introduced them. It was love at first sight, and the peace treaty was signed within an hour. Us halfas were a bit worried about that- we'd only wanted the peace treaty, not the marriage, and they'd only just met- but Clockwork says that their love will only grow greater as the years pass by. He would know, so we put aside our misgivings and agreed to become maid of honor and best man. If and when they have children, we're going to be the godparents.
Speaking of godparents, I actually already have a goddaughter. Her name is Box Lunch. Yes, the Box Lunch, daughter of the Box Ghost and the Lunch Lady. I didn't know they'd made me godfather until ol' Boxy showed up one day when I was in the shower and told me that I had to baby-sit my goddaughter at seven that night. Apparently, since I am "mighty enough to defeat the all-powerful BOX GHOST," they figure I'm a "worthy candidate for a being of such power." Personally, I think they just wanted a sitter they didn't have to pay. So far, Box Lunch (who is actually a very cute toddler. She's kind of grown on me) hasn't really shown signs of "possessing ultimate power," but I don't mind. Baby-sitting her is a nice break from the constant chaos of my half-life.
Last but not least are my cousins, Princess Dorothea the Gentle of Aragon and Wulf, escaped convict and inter-dimensional refugee. Dora is a shape-shifting medieval dragoness and one of Sam's best friends. It's kind of odd, because Sam is tomboyish and Dora's kind of girly, but they're surprisingly close. Wulf is… well, a wolf. A big, broad-shouldered, black-furred, fanged, clawed wolf who only speaks Esperanto, the lingua franca of the Ghost Zone.
There you have it: the most important people in my entire world, and only two are related to me. I suppose that blood doesn't matter, that it's the thought that counts. Cheesy, I know, and usually associated with lousy too-small birthday gifts that you'd never wear in public, but true.
These ten people (eleven if you count Box Lunch), together with less important characters like the Fentons and random ghosts, are the warp and weft of my life. We have a system: I hunt ghosts, they train and help and cover for me. Without them, I would die.
I'm repeating myself, aren't I. Sorry.
Anyways, I established this little family pretty early on. Until Frostbite and Pyrrha have a kid, it's not going to grow any bigger. Other people like Amorpho and the Dairy King might dance around at the fringes, but my main family is pretty stable.
Blood doesn't matter. Sure, Danni and Jazz are related to me, but that's insignificant. It doesn't matter at all.
At least, that's what I keep telling myself. Because if I don't, if I think about what I've learned of my own heritage, I will scream.
Hey everybody, this is Corona (duh.). Ready to start guessing what he's talking about? C'mon, I dare you.
Disclaimer: I do not, have never, and will never own Danny Phantom. Please note that this disclaimer covers my ENTIRE story, not just this chapter.