I do not own DP. This disclaimer applies to all chapters in this fanfic, so please don't sue.
On another note, has anyone else noticed how many stories have been abandonded on this site? Yeah, me too. I propose an adopt-a-fic challenge: you go and PM the author of your favorite abandonded story and see if you can continue it. It would be good writing practice and a way to continue some stories that really ought to be continued. Think about it, okay?
Now on with the story!
Most of the few people who knew about my father's identity weren't quite certain how to react to it.
Dora was still stuck in a state of suspended disbelief. She'd been mad as… well, as a dragon when time started up again and she learned that Pariah had returned- she knew Danni and I were responsible; it was too big a coincidence to think otherwise- and chased us around the castle a few times in her larger form. Fortunately, once we'd told her about Djall and Ammut while holding her captive in a bunch of gooey ropes, she slipped back into shock. She reverted to her normal form and faintly asked for time to think about this and plan her next move. Then, just as we were about to leave, she called us back, apologized for trying to decapitate us, and asked for more detail. Danni and I obliged.
Pandora gave us a long, angry lecture about how stupid we were to have freed Pariah ourselves, but when we asked her what she would have done she grudgingly admitted "Probably the same thing. But that doesn't make it any smarter!" As we had succeeded, though, she was willing to forgive our foolish risks and even asked us to schedule a meeting with our father. It turned out that she'd known him during the Golden Age. They weren't exactly friends, but they'd shared acquaintances and experiences. Besides, as queen of Achaea, she was duty-bound to assure that he wasn't interested in eliminating her people.
I only wish that Frostbite and Pyrrha had reacted so well. They listened to my and Danni's tale with steadily growing horror, not wanting to believe that the Great One and the Keeper of the Infi-Map were children of their worst nightmare. They were silent for a long, long time after we finished. Finally, Pyrrha turned her flame-yellow gaze to us and asked, "Why did you tell us? You could easily have kept silent, and we would never have known otherwise."
I fidgeted. "It didn't seem right. You're getting married soon, and we didn't want to serve in your wedding when you believed a lie about us. Besides, there aren't a lot of people we can trust and who trust us back."
The Queen of Fire nodded. Her husband-to-be clutched at her hand. I flinched away, hating to see them so vulnerable and hurt.
Danni, eyes to the floor, whispered, "If you still want us to serve at your wedding, we'd be honored. But if you don't want Pariah's kids there, we thought you should know sooner rather than later. You know, so you can find someone else."
"Thank you," whispered Frostbite. With a start, I realized he was on the verge of tears. I'd never seen him cry before, and that more than anything made me regret what we had told them. Yes, he knew now that Djall and Pariah were separate beings, that the former had used the latter's power to wreak havoc, but the name of Pariah Dark had a lot of power over them both. They'd been born at the end of the Golden Age, had come of age in the War of Power. They'd spent their afterlives hearing about how awful the ghost king was, and that couldn't be sloughed off in one day.
If this was how the rest of the Ghost Zone would react, maybe we shouldn't have released him at all.
I forced the thought away. No, despite the consequences, we had done the right thing to free him from Djall's power. Perhaps our actions wouldn't bring back the Golden Age, but no matter what else happened, we'd still freed an innocent man from the worst slavery imaginable.
"Thank you," the King of Ice repeated, clutching his fiancée's hand like a lifeline. "But… please go, Great One, Keeper. We do not despise you- never think that!- but you have given us much to ponder. We need time."
"Right," Danni whispered. Crystal tears glittered in the corners of her eyes. She loved Frostbite and Pyrrha even more than I did. Until very recently, they had been the closest thing to parents she'd ever known. "Bye, then." She bowed from the waist, began backing out of the chamber. I followed suit.
"We will summon you," Pyrrha promised. "As soon as the shock has worn off, we will call you back to us. We just need time."
Needless to say, we were fairly miserable as we flew away from the border between Far Frozen and the Burning Lands. We'd expected a lot worse, but it still hurt. Frostbite and Pyrrha were like a favorite aunt and uncle. We'd introduced them by locking them into a closet together; they'd come out with hearts full of love and an engagement contract. We would have been best man and maid of honor at their wedding, godparents to their firstborn child.
At least the other people we told took the news a lot better. Wulf, who was running wild in the backwoods of Arkansas, wasn't surprised that we weren't Jack and Maddie's children. Apparently, we hadn't smelled a thing like them or Jazz. He was stunned to hear our father's name, especially since he, too, could connect the dots and reason out who had freed him, but he trusted us enough to know we had a good reason for it. When we were finished with the long, convoluted tale, he nodded solemnly and congratulated us- congratulated us!- on saving him.
Then he fainted, and we spent the next three hours trying to wake him up.
Clockwork had known for years that Danni and I were Pariah's children. He'd had decades to adjust to the idea, and he'd been there every step of the way as we hunted for our biological parents. He seemed to approve of the path events had taken, but that might have just been because the Observants were reacting like a flock of chickens with their heads cut off.
I didn't blame them.
They had known about the soul merge with Djall, yet they had done nothing to help their liege lord escape the other spirit's influence. Instead, they'd let the twisted soul merge lay waste to their kingdom, betraying both their king and the citizens who had looked to them for protection. Then they'd taken Pariah's power for themselves, reducing the War of Power from a desperate struggle for survival to an elaborate coup.
And not once in the three thousand years since the last battle had they shown any regret.
I had no sympathy for the High Observant Council. It was one thing to imprison someone due to ignorance, as I had done three years ago. It was another thing entirely to knowingly, deliberately, gladly let an innocent rot just for political gain.
They were paying for it, though. Soon the entire Ghost Zone would know what they'd done.
And that was the problem.
They needed an explanation about why all this had come to light, and they wanted to tell the plain, unvarnished truth. It was a measure of revenge on their part, I think, threatening to expose Danni and me as the ones who had re-released Pariah Dark. If they weren't so afraid of our father, they would twist the story, make it seem like we were foolish children who had risked everything for the love a madman- but fortunately for us, they were convinced that Pariah was looking for any excuse to annihilate them and didn't dare put one toe out of line.
Danni and I didn't know if we wanted that part of the truth to come out. Adding "Dark" to our surnames would (aside from completely destroying the alliteration of Fenton-Phantom) trap us in a minefield of politics, scheming, and attacks from those who hated Pariah- in other words, most of the Ghost Zone. It was, to put it lightly, a pretty big decision to make. We still had almost a year to think it over, though, and I was confident that we could figure things out before then.
At least things were less crazy in the Human Realm. Sam, Tucker, and Jazz hadn't studied the War of Power like I had, so they were less likely to compare the soul merge version of Pariah to Adolf Hitler. Sam was mainly grumpy about how proud her parents would be if they ever realized she was dating royalty. Jazz was trying to make us agree to family therapy sessions. "Personal shrink to the Ghost Zone's royal family" is apparently an excellent resume builder. Tucker had taken to greeting me with a sweeping bow and joking about how I really should make him a Ghost Lord.
I told him that's his next Christmas present.
And of course, Jack and Maddie are clueless as ever. They rarely noticed anything that didn't involve highly public, highly publicized ghost attacks, and those had been lacking lately. The spirits who usually attacked Amity Park had cleared out within hours of Pariah's reawakening. Unable to find me, the one who had defeated Pariah before, they spent the first night hiding in Sam's basement, jumping at every noise and shadow. Now they were in a mountain mansion in Colorado.
Hey, what Vlad doesn't know can't hurt him.
But back to Jack and Maddie. They have no idea about… pretty much everything. They have noticed that practically no ghosts have showed up recently, but they've deluded themselves into thinking that everyone was too scared of them to attack. Why ghosts would choose now to "flee in terror from the mighty Fentons!" as opposed to, say, two years ago next Tuesday, I have no idea. They probably don't know either.
Their cluelessness is what has kept me half-alive for so long. Had they made the connection between "Hey, we created a half-ghost experiment thingy named Danny" and "Hey, there's a ghost kid named Danny who looks an awful lot like our son," I would have been splayed out on their dissection table a long time ago.
Their cluelessness has been a constant in my half-life, one of the only constants. Ghosts could attack at any given moment, humans could show up at the worst possible times, but Jack and Maddie Fenton would always remain blissfully oblivious, engrossed in their own little world.
But now, for the first time, they might be getting a clue.