"Which is worse? Being the cause of something, or causing it yourself?
What's the difference between thoughts and thoughtless actions?
Why do we fight?
Why do we try?
Does anybody know?"
Interview with a Phantom
It had started as a beautiful day; the sun shining down on the small town of Amity Park, the warm breeze filtering through the open windows at the Fenton household bringing with it a sense of peace. This was what Maddie Fenton awoke to, a beautiful day. As the morning passed the day seemed to only inspire her further, first her husband had discovered where he had misplaced the 'Fenton Ghost Neutralizers' which looked like a glowing pair of handcuffs, the second was Jazz, who had been selected by the community college here in town to give a speech on the 'philosophical minds of our generation and how to break down the inner workings of the human psychosis' had promptly run off to the library with a notebook and five pencils in hand ready to do research. And lastly her son Danny, who recently managed to raise his English grade to solid C average, had torn through the house this Saturday morning fully prepared to go celebrate with his friends. Yes, today was going to be perfect.
Until she decided to go tidy up her children's rooms, Maddie hadn't done this since they were kids but for some reason the open windows had stirred something inside of her, whispering of more innocent days. She picked Jazz's room first. It would be where she stopped. For while picking up some forgotten clothes and stuffed animals on the ground she came across a tape lying on the bed next to Bearburt, Jazz's favorite animal who looked like Einstein only bearrified. And on the tape was a simple sticky note labeled "P.D." Confusion spread across Maddie's face. Why would her daughter have such a simple label for such a tape, if anything Jazz was as picky when it came to labeling her work as her own parents'. Granted, she never added the word 'Fenton' in front of it but still those two letters puzzled her. Unless, Maddie thought, a sense of dread coming over her "unless Jasmine doesn't want people to know what is on the tape from what the title says." With this Maddie sat down on the soft fluffy sea blue and white bed, tape in hand, a debate raging inside her head. One side said that this was her daughter and she had a right to her privacy after all she was sixteen, the other side arguing that this was her daughter and Jazz never kept secrets. The latter side won, and slowly Maddie pressed play on the small device.
"April 5, 2011 physc-analysis of Danny Phantom." Came Jazz's voice through the tape's speaker.
'April 5, that was only a two weeks ago.' Maddie thought in panic, another voice suddenly interrupted her thoughts.
"Psycho is more like it Jazz. I can't believe you used the ghost neutralizers on me! Just to evaluate my mental health when I believe we should be looking at yours and your, crazy I-think- it's-fun-to-put-people-in-handcuff's-just-to-talk-about-their-feelings, idea!" Came Phantom's irritated reply. Maddie had to stop herself from dropping the tape right then and there, her daughter was doing an evaluation of Phantom's mental health and what was worse, she'd turned it into an Interview with the deadly ghost himself! But Maddie did give pause, Phantom had almost sounded…human.
"Oh, come on Danny we both know you really need this. And besides I won't let you go until you answer my questions truthfully." Jazz's voice bordering on that of sisterly concern.
"Or until the rest of the Fenton's return, discover I'm here and then proceed to rip me apart 'molecule by molecule'." Phantom responded sarcastically the chains around his wrists clanking in the background. "They aren't coming home anytime soon, right?" Although Phantom still sounded as if he were joking Maddie wasn't fooled, she could tell he really was scared underneath it all. Was he really afraid of dying a second time?
"No they aren't. Danny please, just answer my questions."
Finally after a great pause Phantom gave a sigh, giving in to Jazz's demands and Maddie waited with baited breath as her daughter began.
"First off, you are dead, are you not?"
"Yes. I am."
What a silly question Maddie thought, of course he's dead.
"Then because you are dead and yet still exist here on Earth and in the Ghost Zone, do you believe in God?"
Maddie couldn't believe it. Why would her daughter ask such a question for there is no such thing as 'God.' If any evidence besides faith emerged and proof could be given, not circumstantial but solid unbiased truth, then Maddie could begin seeking out this 'God'. But with the existence of the Ghost Zone, clearly it disproved the existence of a…
"Yes, I believe in God."
Time seemed to stop. Phantom, a ghost said he believed in God when, she the living breathing human would say 'no'. "Why?" Maddie questioned. Thankfully, so did her daughter.
"Why? After all you are a ghost?"She asked.
"You don't understand. Being a ghost doesn't mean there isn't a God. If anything it proves that there is one. I'm not just some ectoplasmic being comprised of multiple traits left over from departed humans, I'm real. I have a consciousness and while it is true that ghosts can be born out of powerful emotions of a person who's passed away, take for example Skulker; there are plenty of ghosts who aren't born that way. They were born in the Ghost Zone from their parents, grow up and even live there."
"I take it you are speaking of Frostbite and the Far Frozen clan." Jazz stated.
"I am, but not only them. I've seen the Box Ghost and the Lunch Lady get together and have a kid named Boxed Lunch. Granted, that's totally gross, but my point is each and every ghost in the Ghost Zone— we're all conscious beings. Even though some are driven insane from power, most merely wish to be left alone. We have animals, climates, trees, islands, it all just looks different, their different. Ghosts aren't just dead humans, they're an entire civilization. After all, when someone truly dies and completely moves on they don't go to the Ghost Zone. In fact, even I have no answer as to where they go. That's how I know a God exists for if they aren't in the Ghost Zone then they must be somewhere where even death cannot reach." Danny stated.
Maddie sat their thunder struck. Never in her life would she have thought Phantom could say such plausible things. He sounded so, passionate as if he were wishing Jazz to understand, for Maddie to understand. Still something seemed off, why did Phantom say 'their' instead of 'we're'? Once again Jazz didn't disappoint her curious mind.
"Danny, in your earlier statement you said 'their' why not 'we're'?"She asked.
"I'm not like the rest of the ghosts. I wasn't born there, nor was I born out of a person's emotions. I am just… Phantom, I have always been Phantom. I was him when I was alive and I am still him dead. Therefore, I can't exist in the Ghost Zone and I can't exist in the Human Zone either. I'm a freak."
"Do you really believe yourself to be only a freak? If what you say is true and you are the same person you were when you were alive then would you not call that a miracle?" Jazz countered.
"No. Because I can't believe in miracles. There is no such thing, either some higher power decides not to kick you in the ass, whether it be God, Angels, Demons, the Devil or Plasmius himself; or you yourself create the will to change what will become. Even still it's no miracle."Pain etching its way in Phantom's now hollow voice.
The sadness was becoming unbearable for Maddie, how could all of this come from the teenage spook she believed to be truly evil? And what was worse, this was still a teenager speaking, this was Phantom. A ghost who seemed as if he were carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And in many ways Maddie wondered if he truly was. After all, even though most of the town now believed him to be a hero; even if she, Jack and many other organizations were still hunting him was he carrying the world? The Interview continued,
"You say, 'gives you a fighting chance'. Why?" Jazz asked,
"I'm fighting a war. Every day I wake up, I have to fight. Not only for my survival but for those I have sworn to protect. All the while being hunted by them on both sides, then go home and lie to my parents, trying to explain why I'm failing school, brush off all of the unexplainable injuries, all the while getting disappointing stares from my parents and teachers who have NO IDEA what I'm going through. It's so infuriating sometimes to know that I'm the only thing standing in the way of oblivion and knowing that while I fight it, I can still BECOME it." Danny's voice was trembling now. "To know that one wrong move and I can turn into him."With this Danny's echoy voice died in his throat, the very life being choked out of him.
"He's afraid?" Maddie thought astounded. Afraid of himself.
"You are afraid of yourself."Jazz stated.
And Maddie couldn't help but wince at the harshness of the tone.
"Yes."Came the broken reply.
"What of those you have sworn to protect? Are they afraid of you as well?"
"No. But sometimes I wish they were. They should be afraid. You should be afraid, Jazz."
"But you should be!" Danny screamed. Power reverberating from his vocal cords.
"Jazz. You didn't see me. You didn't see my future self. You didn't see what I became. What I did. I destroyed the world in only ten years, and that evil is still in me. If I let go, even for a second I can still become him. And…oh, gods, the things I could do..." Phantom's voice was wrecked, wracked with strangled sobs, "and the worst part is I might become him."
"No you won't!" Jazz screamed back. "Do you really believe you should be afraid of yourself? Of what you Might become? Danny, Everyone is capable of great evil, you are no exception. Yes, you have a right to fear the future but you don't have the right to be afraid of yourself. As long as you believe in what you Do, you shouldn't worry about that future. After all, you yourself said that miracles are created by what you change. So stop thinking yourself evil!"
Never in her life had Maddie heard her daughter yell with such ferocity. Least of all at the very being who a minute ago admitted to at one point destroying the possible future. And yet, she couldn't bring herself to be mad at Jazz, if anything she was grateful to her at telling Phantom he wasn't evil. At that Maddie had to repress a shudder, for if evil Phantom destroyed the world then that would certainly mean he wasn't evil now and never had been all along.
"Take these neutralizer's off me."Phantom ordered.
"No, not until I'm done. If you believe yourself evil, then why keep going? Why fight?"
This seemed to shell shock Phantom. For he seemed to have never thought of this answer.
"I don't know. I fight to keep the ones I love safe. I fight so the innocent don't have to. I fight not because I can, but because I will."
As Phantom continued to seek the answer to Jazz's question his echoing voice grew in strength until it sounded unearthly in the power behind what he believed. Finally, the interview seemed to be wrapping up and Jazz's last question left Maddie speechless, not because Phantom didn't have an answer but because he answered without hesitation.
"I have one finally question. Do you regret it?"
"Danny, you're a hero. You always will be, and you'll always be forced to question what is good and what is evil. But remember that I will always be here for you, as will the ones you love. Remember, you are who you wish to be."
"Thank you, Jazz. Now can you take these silly things off me?" Danny asked.
And with this Jazz finished the interview the tape ending asking if it wanted to be replayed, but Maddie paid no attention to it, for her mind was running a mile a minute at what had just been revealed. Everything she believed was coming into question and soon she found herself walking out into the twilight afternoon, desperately seeking the one answer that was driving her to move.
As the sun continued to dip into the horizon Maddie found herself coming to the park. Strangely though, no one seemed to be out and about as she listened and watched she soon realized why. For up high in the sky two beings were fighting, one a flaming green, the other a black and white teen. 'It's him' Maddie thought watching the ghost boy slam the flaming green hunter into the ground creating a small crater.
"Give it up Skulker, you won't win." Came Phantom's cocky voice. While Maddie was still trying to make the connection that this boy was indeed the same one on the tape.
"Never whelp. I, Skulker, world's greatest ghost hunter, will never rest until I have your pelt resting at the foot of my bed."
Ew. Maddie thought. Her own answer being supplied by Phantom himself as he quickly pulled out the Fenton Thermos (when he took it she never knew) and sucked Skulker up.
"Okay, all clear!" Phantom cried.
And with that Maddie watched Jazz come out from behind a tree looking slightly worse for wear.
"Thanks Danny, sorry I forgot my thermos at home." She smiled. As Danny went over to retrieve her heavy bag filled with the lecture she would be giving at the college next week.
"No problem. Here, take it home and empty it into the Ghost Zone for me will ya? I have some business to take care of."
Jazz seemed to study his face for a while before finally nodding and walking off. Maddie suddenly got the sense that he knew she was here safely hiding in the leaves of the oak tree. But he gave no knowledge of her presence, he simply stood there, his eyes closed facing the orange and red cast sky, the breeze wrapping around him and his unearthly light, making him appear as if a holy being had stepped from the heavens and was gracing the day.
"How had I missed that?" Maddie thought her mind swirling like the wind surrounding Phantom. Her musings were cut short when Phantom's green eyes opened and he spoke to her, his voice barely above a whisper.
"I know you're here." He said.
Slowly, Maddie emerged from the shadows, Phantom turned his gaze upon her quickly taking in her unarmed appearance but Maddie noticed that he didn't relax and she realized he didn't know what she was about to ask. That he didn't know about the tape.
"Is it true? Phan…Danny? Is what you said true?"
Danny seemed startled by this question but Maddie quickly noticed the realization dawn on his face.
Maddie let out the breath she didn't know she'd been holding, it was all true. They were wrong. Maddie was wrong. Here was a being that stood before her in a new light, no, the light that he had always been standing in, the one she just wasn't willing to believe. But now she knew and she would never go back to unknowing. A smile crept along her face and slowly, careful to make her intentions known placed a hand on Danny's shoulder.
"Then may I begin again?" She asked.
She watched Danny lift his glowing green eyes to hers a smile on pale lips.
"No. We both may begin again."
And the two stood in silence. Watching the sun set. A new day was coming, one in which Maddie knew she would get answers to the questions being kindled in her mind from this new understanding with the hero, Danny Phantom. Who now stood by her side.
AN: Inspired by the fanfic writer: ghostanimal and her story Interview with the Phantom