Danny lay or more hung off the end of Jazz's bed staring a Bearbert Einstein who he held raised above his head. Jazz was quiet. Too quiet. Danny looked over at her, she had her arms crossed and appeared to be deep in thought. He'd just told her everything he had told Sam and Tucker. She shook her head and mumbled to herself then went back to staring into space. Danny sighed sliding off the bed but keeping his feet (with his shoes still on) on the mattress upsetting the bedding.
There was a soft knock on the door which jarred Jazz out of her thoughts.
"Who is it?" She called.
"It's me." Maddie said through the door, "Is Danny in there?" she called. Jazz looked to Danny who shrugged. But Jazz frowned.
"Yeah… Well I mean Danny Phantom is in here." She clarified with a wink to Danny who rolled his eyes.
"I need to speak with him." Maddie insisted through the door, "May I come in, I don't like speaking through the door like this." She huffed.
"Come in." Jazz agreed. Maddie opened the door, Jack behind her worrying his thumbs over a photograph.
"Danny… are you… I mean will you take your shirt off please." She smiled at Danny, he blinked.
"Um… excuse me?" He swung his legs off the bed and rolled into a sitting position throwing Bearbert at Jazz who caught him ungraciously.
"Your shirt." Maddie insisted. Danny tugged at the edge of his T-shirt.
"Um… why?" he frowned, "I mean… haven't you seen me shirtless enough with all your experiments and electrodes?" Danny protested.
"Well then you won't mind if we look now would you." Maddie folded her arms growing impatient.
"Fine, whatever." Danny stood and tugged off his shirt and threw it toward Maddie, she caught it in one hand and surveyed his torso. Danny folded his arms over his chest defiantly but Maddie could still see the scar under his ribs on the right. She inhaled sharply. It didn't mean anything right? Lots of children had to have their appendixes removed. Then Jack gripped her shoulder.
"Florida." He said. Maddie frowned. Danny jumped; then put his hand over his right shoulder covering up the large Florida shaped birthmark running down his shoulder.
"Can I have my shirt back now?" Danny demanded. Maddie frowned. Then thought back to what he'd told her about his death. There was a lab accident… the portal… Tucker had mentioned the portal and if she had known about it before Sam shut him up. The portal accident! Danny had had an accident in the portal and had been strange ever since, moody, secretive, frightened, late, rebellious and snarky. She had thought the near death experience had maybe changed his worldviews. That he'd gotten involved with gangs or the freaks from Circus Gothica, which later turned out to be false… but she had never imagined… he'd called her mom… on more that one occasion he'd slipped up and called her mom. But not because of ducks or dinosaurs or any type of imprinting but because she was… and he was… to him she was…
"Mom?" Jazz frowned, "are you ok? You look like you've seen a ghost." She said. Despite the severity of the situation Danny burst out laughing causing Jazz to turn bright red and snap at him.
"Shut up Invisobill." Which sobered Danny up slightly, though it seemed his amusement at her comment hadn't completely faded given he was still snickering from time to time. Maddie watched them interact; Jazz threw Bearbert Einstein at him to which he dodged smoothly with a laugh.
"Missed me." He grinned.
"You are so childish." Jazz folded her arms rolling her eyes before turning back to Maddie.
"Mom, Dad… seriously though are you ok?" Jazz asked while Danny covered up his chest again, hiding the birthmark from her and Jack.
"You knew." Maddie said taking in her daughter, "You two have been covering it up… together… you knew." She shook her head. Jack was silent behind her as if he were still coming to grips with things.
"Mom? I don't know what you're talking about." Jazz said, though there was a tinge of fear behind it.
"You knew Danny was a ghost… you knew what had happened after the portal accident what had happened to Danny." Maddie clarified. Her mind ran through the science trying to figure out how it had happened while Jazz and Danny exchanged a look.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Jack asked his face confused, "we could have done something. We could have helped. Or at least we would be shooting at you." He grumbled." Jazz looked at Danny who sighed.
"W-Wait a second guys? Who ever said Danny was a ghost? I think you're just getting the names confused, I mean Phantom does seem similar to Fenton but obviously they are two separated Dannys." Jazz covered clearly nervous. Danny sat down on Jazz's bed silent, staring at the floor.
"But we love you!" Jack blurted out. Danny winced. Maddie tapped her foot on the ground anxious and somewhat angry. Her children had been conspiring against them. No wonder why Jazz was so protective of Phantom, and why Danny avoided the subject and slipped out of the room anytime ghosts; Phantom or ghost weapons were involved, especially when ghost weapons were involved. But perhaps it was a trick and Phantom had modeled himself after Danny, or over shadowed Danny, or maybe he'd even killed Danny and taken his place, or the portal had killed Danny and Phantom had accidently filled the void left by her son's soul. But no; one couldn't fake everything; and while his behavior had changed his mannerisms and habits hadn't. It was obvious now; Danny caught Maddie's eyes then looked away rubbing the back of his neck.
The silence stretched on. Danny sighed plucking at the fabric of his jeans while Maddie scrutinized him. There were marks from where his fingers previously picked at the seams, he paused wondering if that just gave himself away more, then stilled his hands. That didn't last long, he found himself drumming his fingers along his leg, then glanced at Jack who was also staring at him. He rubbed the back of his neck again then tapped his foot.
He opened his mouth and looked to his parents then closed his mouth again. What could he say? What would they believe? He licked his lips and opened his mouth again forcing the words out.
"I'm sorry." He stated. The other three Fenton's stared, "It was… well it was easier… just easier not to say anything." He went back to looking at the ground choosing his words. "I… It's not that… I didn't trust you. Or that I was afraid that you'd either not believe more or tear me apart molecule by molecule… though at first I was scared that you would. The Freakshow thing happened which put those fears to rest. But by then… by then it was just easier for you not to know… no that's not entirely true. I mean… you said you'd love me quote 'ghost, boy or something in-between.' And I wanted to believe that. When I altered reality I guess I could have let you remember, just made the rest of the world forget that I was Danny Phantom, that I was a half ghost. Not just because of the Guys in White or the attention or the unlicensed comic books, but because… because I didn't want anyone to know I was… what I was." Danny frowned swallowing hard and he shook his head.
"I guess… as cool as being a ghost and ghost powers were… I didn't want to be more of a freak…" Danny drummed his fingers on his leg again, "But it's not that I didn't want to be half-ghost anymore… I thought… feared, that you'd… you'd think differently of me, no matter your kind words. That you'd try to 'cure' me as if I had an ailment or disease or as if there was something inherently shameful about being half-ghost." Danny sighed, "And most of the time I take pride in what I am… was. Only the second of my kind to be created, one of three known, something unique, something more than I was before. I had the ability to help people, save people, protect people. I could fly. And as much as I complained about wanting a normal life, a human life… I just can't go back, I couldn't go back to being normal Danny Fenton who gets picked on and shoved in lockers and is the most average of the Fentons." Danny looked up at his parents, "But… I guess I didn't have a choice; and it's too late now to think of what I could have done differently or why I didn't do what I should have done." He twiddled his thumbs, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you… I mean it. I'm sorry I couldn't trust you and you have to find out this way and that you won't even get to bury your son because I'm like this. And like this…" He stared at his hand and then ran a hand through his white hair fighting back tears, "I'm not even sure what I am anymore or what I'm going to end up as…" He wiped his eyes, "I don't want to die like this. I don't want to die again. I'm running out of time."
Maddie and Jack were suddenly hugging Danny.
"Oh Danny… we're sorry too… if we… if only we hadn't been so set in our beliefs that we were right, if only we had listened to you guys. Especially Jazz, we could have learned so much. We are just as much in the wrong as well." Maddie ran a hand through Danny's hair smoothing it down like she did when he was younger.
"We love you Danny. No matter what." Jack said his arms around Maddie, Danny and Jazz who had sneaked into the family hug.
"You should have told us… but I understand." Maddie leaned her cheek against Danny's forehead, "I understand why you didn't."
"I didn't mean for you to find out like this, when everything… it's all messed up." I can't…" Danny sobbed as the Fenton's broke the hug, "I don't know what to do." He tapped his thigh, Maddie took his hand in hers stilling his fingers.
"This situation was something I'd never thought of. I've imagined you finding out, what I would do, either if you caught me, or I found the courage to tell you, or if someone spilled the beans, either by accident or on purpose. But me… stuck like this… talking about it… not being able to prove anything or show you the truth… I never thought I'd believe me. I defiantly never thought you'd confront me after this happened." He gestured to himself. "How does one explain such things without proof… how did you guy realize it? I mean you're not complete idiots, and even Valerie found it out… but I thought you would be in deeper denial about it." Danny frowned.
"DNA testing." Maddie sighed.
"Really?" Danny blinked, "But I… I mean I'm Phantom." He frowned.
"Your ghostly structure turned human is 99% similar to your human form." Maddie sighed. She was still trying to wrap her head around how this had happened, and that the boy in front of her was indeed her son. "How… how did this happen." She asked, fearing she knew the answer. Danny blushed.
"Um… You… well the portal… it didn't work. And there was… well Sam wanted to check it out, and… you guys put the on button on the inside of the portal." Danny obsessively picked at his pant leg trying not to look at his parents.
"The on button?" Jack said slowly trying to process exactly what had happened, "But… that would mean you were inside the portal when it activated." Jack frowned.
"Yeah." Danny still refused to meet anyone's eyes.
"But if you were in it…" Jack shook his head, "Well… that makes no sense… But Vlad had ecto-acne after the portal blasted his face, and he's not a ghost… you didn't have ecto-acne." Jack accused. Danny and Jazz winced.
"Yeah… about that… the diet coke thing… I mean you didn't use ecto-purifier in the original portal you used coke, but the portal downstairs had ecto-purifier instead… the coke is what caused the ecto-acne." Danny explained.
"Though an argument could be made for any acne." Jazz interrupted.
"But Vlad isn't a ghost." Maddie stated, Jazz and Danny exchanged a look, "Is he?"
"That's the thing… there are 3 half ghosts that I know of… I'm one… Vlad is another." Danny revealed. "Specifically Vlad Plasmius… or you may know him as the Wisconsin Ghost."
"Suffering Spooks! Vladdie is the Wisconsin ghost… but that would mean… at the reunion… he used me as a meat puppet!" Jack was hurt, outraged, and confused. Danny flinched.
"Why would he do that?" Jack called.
"He hates you for marrying mom and making the portal the he thinks ruined his life and gave him ghost powers." Danny winced, "You wouldn't believe the amount of times he's hit on mom and tried to kill you." Jack shook his head.
"I always knew Vlad had never been the same since the portal accident but I never thought he was a ghost. I mean he was a creep but I would never have guessed he was a ghost… how come you didn't tell us?" Maddie glared at Danny who shrunk under her gaze.
"He threatened to expose my secret if I told his, but now that you know… I guess I don't have to keep his secret any more." Danny avoided his mother's gaze.
"But what about that time the Wisconsin ghost tried to steal our portal?" Jack asked.
"His blew up." He added.
"But he's our mayor!" Jack protested. Danny looked sheepish again.
"Uh… that's slightly my fault… I mean mostly Vlad's because he started it… but there were some pranks that got out of control, and he wanted to make my life hell." Danny glanced at his parents, "He really hates me." He shrugged, "I keep thwarting his plans to take over the world, or at least to kill dad and marry mom." Danny admitted.
"Speaking of Vlad, you think he'd take this opportunity to do just that." Jazz frowned.
"Lets back up for a moment…" Maddie frowned, "You said that there were 3, who is the other one?" Maddie asked. Danny sighed.
"Dani, with an I. She's my clone." Maddie started to interrupt, "Vlad made her." He answered, "He wants me as his son."
"I thought you said he hated you." Jack frowned.
"He does… but he also is a lonely creep and keeps offering me a ticket to the dark side. I keep refusing of course… I know a little too much about my dark side and how it ends with Vlad… but I guess after my refusing so often, and being a general nuisance to him, he decided to build his own son using my DNA. Probably would have succeeded too if it hadn't been for Sam and Tucker."
"Sam and Tucker know about this too?" Maddie blurted out, then she looked at Danny's face, "Of course they do." Her face turned red, Danny had mentioned that Sam had been present during the portal accident; logically Tucker would have been too.
(put a line break here)
Perhaps things were a bit awkward in the Fenton residence, but definitely more light hearted. Still looking back on it, Maddie was surprised that she hadn't noticed before. Her mind was perhaps so against the idea that the similarities had barely registered. Now that she knew though, they seemed to smack her in the face every few minutes. Danny was still keeping something from them; and some thing he'd said during his confession still bugged her "I don't want to die like this, I don't want to die again. I'm running out of time." While she was working on a way to change Danny back to normal, she started dwelling on those words. "You won't even get to bury your son because I'm like this." She figured being half-ghost (though she still wasn't sure how it was possible) would make one think about death; but he had genuinely freaked out when Skulker had attacked him and Maddie saved him. He was scared to die, in a way he had admitted he wasn't before.
She worked endlessly to try and find a way to bring back, what Danny called his "human half." She didn't even know where his "human half" could have gone or where she could find it. If it was in his genetics and she could find a way to shift it back, even given that these were Phantom's genetics, or if she could reverse the process by which she had created the human Phantom and Danny's human half would reappear with Phantom's ghost being revived.
If "Phantom" died she figured Danny as a whole would die, so she had no way of turning Danny back to normal. She briefly entertained the idea of using the portal. But when Danny had described the incident and the pain; she thought better of it. She would not put her child through anymore pain than he'd already endured. Besides she wasn't entirely sure if "Phantom" would be the human and "Fenton" would be the ghost. Indeed she didn't want to see her child as a ghost, even if she already had, this would be different. Besides her child dying was a fear that was quickly creeping up on her.
Running out of time… what did it mean? Being a mom she feared the worst, Danny's death of course. Danny had admitted to much after the big reveal, describing an entire other world, the ghost zone, describing his life through a ghost's and a human's eyes. Giving them insight to things they could only guess at before. It seemed tragic for one who danced through the borders of life and death to ultimately belong on only one side. Maddie feared the eventuality of him trapped on the wrong side.
Unfortunately her worst fear was soon confirmed.
Cujo, the ghost dog turned living was dying. Their analyzes of the dog's sickness revealed a breakdown of his genetic structure. Slow as it may be, it was happening, and while the dog still had long moments of clarity, he was slowly becoming more ill. He'd go for longer periods of time without food, and his vomit was oddly green tinged. The dog was dying, and if Cujo was dying… what was going to happen to Danny?