Years after the events of Phantom Planet, Danny's fame has become more manageable. Now attending college in Florida, all those adventures from his first year of ghost powers have been all but forgotten. Until one perfectly normal morning, when he wakes up in his fourteen-year-old body in the middle of Wisconsin.
Rated K+, but it may go up to T. Only canon ships are going to be used; everything else is totally platonic. Against my better judgment, I am posting this chapter before I'm completely done writing the story. I at least know exactly how everything's going to play out, so that's a plus, and I should be able to update regularly. Here's hoping. For those of you who followed me for my two Dragonball Z oneshots: Don't worry! I'm working on a multi-chapter story for that fandom, too.
Anyway, this is my spin on a TUE fic, essentially. I thought it might be more interesting if it was canon, and if Danny wasn't busy wallowing in grief the whole time. Plus, it kind of sucks that everyone pretty much forgot all about Vlad after he was left in space. Here's my attempt at changing that.
I know I'm being confusing, but just… read. It'll make sense.
You swore and said,
"We are not, we are not shining stars."
This I know,
'Cause I never said we are.
Though I've never been through hell like that,
I've closed enough windows to know you can never look back.
If you're lost and alone,
Or you're sinking like a stone,
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground and,
- "Carry On" by fun.
In retrospect, Danny probably should have known immediately when he woke up that morning that something was very, very wrong.
When consciousness began working its way into his mind, he fought against it, as he always did. Sure, he knew he had an exam today, and he also knew his professor did not allow make-ups for anything short of a funeral. He snorted and thought to himself, still in the groggy state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, Please, a funeral probably wouldn't even cut it. My whole family would have to burst into flames before he let me make up a stupid test. He rolled over onto his stomach and wrapped one arm around a pillow, burying his face into it.
Yes, he knew he had to get up, but his bed just felt so comfortable… It felt so much warmer than it usually did.
Maybe that should have been his first clue.
His face contorted in a tired scowl when he remembered that his alarm had not gone off yet. So either he had accidentally woken up in the early hours of the morning, or the alarm had never gone off and he was already late for the exam.
The latter thought sent a quick spike of panic through his chest, and he opened one eye to look at the clock on his nightstand, keeping the other half of his face still buried in the pillow. The open eye blinked after a moment, and his brow furrowed.
He sighed in frustration, turning to let his face be smothered by the pillow again, and then he placed both palms on the mattress and pushed himself up. The multitude of cracks that usually sounded from his spine—a souvenir from five years of fighting ghosts—never happened, and maybe that should have been his second clue. Instead he craned his neck to get a good look at his surroundings, fully expecting his confusion to fade away with the early morning drowsiness.
He leaned back so he was sitting on his knees on the mattress and continued to look around as he scratched the back of his head, his eyes narrowed. Okay, this was weird.
Where the heck was he?
This was definitely not his dorm. For one, he was alone and sitting on the only bed in the room, a four poster at least twice the size of his standard-issue university mattress in a bedroom even more massive. The walls were painted a pale gold, with pristine white trim along the floor and ceiling. The plush carpet was forest green and absolutely spotless, and the only decorations consisted of a lone painting of a field of flowers hanging on the wall. It was a stark contrast from his hardwood floor and poster-covered walls back at college.
He was beginning to think he had been flying in his sleep and that he had somehow wound up in some stranger's room when his gaze fell on a single picture frame on the nightstand. He blinked, eyebrows rising in genuine surprise.
Well this definitely disproves that theory, he thought to reached over to pick it up, fumbling across the pile of pillows—Six pillows? Who the heck uses six pillows?—and pulled the picture closer. His head cocked to the side. "Huh," he mused aloud under his breath, "I didn't even know I still had this thing."
It was a photo of him with his parents, his sister, and of course, Sam and Tucker. It had been taken back when he was fourteen, all of them in the front of his house in Amity Park. He could barely help the way the corner of his mouth tugged up in a small grin, and he wondered what they all might be doing right now. His parents he had spoken with two nights ago on the phone, and his sister never stopped with the constant texts, but Sam and Tucker… He sighed and leaned over the mountain of pillows again, placing the photo down on the nightstand. He could always visit Tuck if he ever missed his best friend, but he and Sam had barely spoken since he had broken up with her at the end of their senior year. Maybe it was seeing that photo of them all together and happy, but thinking of their break-up sent a stab of pain to his gut that had not been there before.
Quickly he shook his head. That was not the issue right now. If that photo was here, then him being in this room was not some random occurrence. He was definitely here for a reason.
"So why don't I remember anything?" he asked himself aloud, and he bit the inside of his cheek in thought, glancing around the mostly bare room.
He could not sit here wondering, though; he had to investigate. So he detangled himself from the blankets, swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood, still marveling over the huge room with its too-high ceiling and its too-clean floor. He padded across the carpet in his bare feet and quickly opened the first door he found, which just so happened to lead to a bathroom. Crossing his arms over his chest, Danny silently scanned over the bathroom for any clues as to where he might be, but aside from being very upscale and so clean it seemed to belong to one of those home improvement magazines, the bathroom was just as generic as any other.
Danny let out a frustrated sigh and swung the door back into place, spinning on his heel to approach the closet. He gripped the handles of the double doors and pulled them open together, his narrowed eyes sweeping over the contents of the spacious walk-in closet.
It was empty except for an open duffel bag on the floor. There were some clothes spilling out of the opening and a pair of sneakers haphazardly thrown on top. Danny grinned. This definitely looked more like his handiwork than the immaculate bedroom did.
After changing into some normal clothes and pulling the sneakers on, Danny left the closet and leaned his back against the closed doors until they clicked shut. He turned his gaze to the only door he had yet to try, the door that surely led out of this bedroom and into the rest of the house. He bit his lip. Did he really want to meet whoever had brought him here just yet? He certainly had a lot of enemies, and waking up in a strange house with no recollection of having come here was just screaming "psychotic ghost scheming to kill-or-otherwise-destroy the ghost boy."
He sighed, having made up his mind. It would be better to know the situation better before he tried to have a run-in with whoever was responsible for him being here. He closed his eyes as white rings appeared around his waist, and he relished in the familiar feeling of them transforming him into his ghost half. When he opened his glowing green eyes, he immediately became intangible and shot up through the ceiling.
He had assumed that the bedroom he had woken up in was on the second floor, so he had not expected to fly through another floor before he reached the roof. And he certainly had not expected to fly through seven. It was room after room after room, each slightly different than the last but all of them too plain to give a clue as to where he might be.
When sunlight finally shone in his eyes, he relinquished his intangibility and gently touched down on the roof. Or, at least, he tried to gently touch down. The roof was so steeply slanted that he nearly lost his balance, and so he decided to settle with floating. He crossed his arms over his chest as he surveyed his surroundings. There were acres and acres of forest surrounding the building, and the closest neighbors Danny could see, even from way up here, were in a city whose skyline he could just make out on the horizon.
So he was not in any place that he recognized, but at least he was on Earth. That ruled out crazy ghosts, or at least made the possibility much less likely.
He ran a hand over his face, pausing when his hand covered his mouth and locking his eyes with the city in the distance. It was pretty far away, but certainly not too far for him. He had flown much farther under much more dire circumstances in his lifetime.
And besides, he could do for a little free flying to clear his head.
He smirked and took off into the sky.
After flying as fast as he could over miles of forest—which somehow did not feel as fast as usual, but he chalked it up to still being a bit tired—he finally touched down on a bustling city sidewalk.
And what happened next was even stranger than the rest of his morning had been.
A woman screamed loud enough to wake the dead, and Danny's muscles instinctively tensed in preparation to help her against whatever had caused her to scream, but then someone else screamed, and someone else, too.
Those that were not scrambling to get away were all pointing directly at him, all with looks of horror on their faces. His head moved back and forth as he tried to look at all of them, frowning in confusion. "Hey, wait!" he began, waving his hands to try and get them to listen to him, but they all seemed much more preoccupied with running. If anything his movements only heightened the panic of everyone rushing around below. "Don't you people recognize me? It's just me, Danny Phantom!" he yelled.
No one answered, and the screams continued unabated. This was crazy! Why was everyone running from him? For Pete's sake, he could even swear he had just heard someone yell Inviso-Bill.
Did these people really not know who he was? A look of determination fell into his features, and he flew higher up into the air until he could see everyone in a two block radius.
It was a far cry from his ghostly wail, but his voice still rippled across the pavement like something tangible and sent shock waves through the air.
Everyone down below on the ground froze in terror, their wide eyes staring up at him as though he was about to kill every last one of them, and he shouted, "Why are you all running from me?"
He glanced around at all of their terrified faces in search of an answer. They all just stared up at him, daring not to move a muscle for fear of attack, and somewhere a little kid started to cry. Danny groaned again. "You know what? Just, never mind."
In a flash, he was invisible, and he ignored the collective gasp from the crowd who had just seen him vanish into thin air as he flew into a nearby alleyway. After he landed, he took a furtive glance around the area to be sure that he was alone and transformed back into his human half.
"Jeez," he mused aloud as he stepped out of the alley and into the street. "Wonder what's with them?"
It did not take long for him to decide that the issue was not worth his time. Who cared if a bunch of people in some random city somehow had never heard of Danny Phantom? Inwardly he shrugged as he looked to his right and then to his left, in search of somewhere to get information. A sign to his left advertised a small convenience store. That'll work, he thought, and he headed down the street the old-fashioned way in lieu of flying, his hands in the pockets of the sweat jacket he had found in that duffel bag.
When he pushed open the glass door to the convenience store and a bell chimed, he walked right up to the counter. The girl standing behind it was about his age, and pretty, too. She was taller than him, though, something he was not used to. He smiled as he made eye contact with her, casually leaning against the counter as he said, "Hey, I'm Danny."
She raised an eyebrow at him, then quickly scanned her eyes from his head down to his feet and back up before responding, "Um, hi?"
He blinked. Okay, not the friendly type then.
He cleared his throat in an attempt to break the awkward silence and continued, "Uh, yeah, I was just wondering if you could tell me what town we're in," he explained. "I got a little lost."
"You're in Park Falls," she replied simply, returning her attention to the magazine lying open on the counter.
"Um," Danny began, "and that's in...?"
She looked up from her magazine and raised an eyebrow at him again. "You really are lost, aren't you, kid? You're like in the middle of Wisconsin."
There was a pause after that, in which that information sunk in and Danny's eyes widened.
Wisconsin? But that was so far away from... everything! It was a least a three day drive from home, and even further from his college in Florida. How the heck had he wound up here?
"You okay?" the cashier asked suddenly, jerking him from his thoughts, and he nodded shakily.
"Uh, y-yeah... I'm fine."
His heart skipped a beat when he remembered the huge building he had woken up in, with its spacious rooms and California king beds, and green and gold everywhere, and... Take it easy, Fenton, he scolded himself. There's no way. They tore that place down years ago. There's like, a development of houses there now, or something.
That served to calm his nerves a little bit, especially when he added to himself, You're more likely to run into Vlad himself then wake up in his mansion, and he's out floating in space somewhere.
He took a breath to really calm himself, and although he was still beyond confused, he decided he should leave before this cashier really thought he was crazy.
"You sure you're okay?"
"Yeah," he lied with a nod, and he turned to walk away, but something stopped him. He did a double take, and locked his gaze on the small pad of paper on the counter. It was red with yellow lettering advertising the words, 'Born after 09-21-1987? No cigarettes!' He blinked, and then let out a nervous chuckle as he pointed at the calendar. "What, is the legal smoking age in Wisconsin, like, five years over everyone else or something?"
Now she was looking at him even more strangely than before. "No..." she began slowly. "It's eighteen."
Danny had a sinking feeling he would not like the answer to this. "But 18 years after 1987 would be..."
The girl responded matter-of-factly, speaking slowly as though he was a five-year-old when she said, "2005."
His jaw dropped, and only one thought passed his mind. He barely managed to choke out the words, "Do you have a bathroom?"
She pointed toward the back corner of the store, and he bolted before she could say another word. He tore the bathroom door open and slammed it shut behind him, scrambling toward the mirror, his hands perched on each side of the sink. He stared wide-eyed at his reflection.
That settles it. I'm dreaming.
Danny reached up and let his fingers trace along the line of his jaw, feeling perfectly smooth skin. No stubble. The same hand moved up and ran through his too-long hair while the other remained braced against the sink.
He turned on the faucet and splashed the cold water in his face. It did not help. He was still wide awake and definitely not dreaming.
He bit his lip and transformed, watching as the rings made his t-shirt disappear, leaving behind his trademark black and white jumpsuit. He gulped, placing his hand over the emblem on his chest. At least something was still normal.
How had he not noticed this earlier? He was so much shorter and scrawny too, and… He had barely made the trip here in half an hour, a flight that he should have easily been able to accomplish in ten minutes!
It's because I could barely hit 120 miles an hour back then…
"Alright, Fenton," he muttered determinedly as he gripped both sides of the sink and looked himself in the eye. "Here's what's not gonna happen: You're not gonna panic. There has to be some explanation to this."
He broke eye contact with his reflection and stared at the still running faucet, wracking his brain for an explanation. How could a nineteen-year-old college student fall asleep in his dorm one night, and wake up the next morning five years younger?
If it really is 2005, he reminded himself, Plasmius isn't in space yet. That means his mansion would still be here. That's where I woke up.
But why in the world would he be in a mansion that belonged to his arch-enemy? Especially when that enemy was still on Earth!
There were just so many unanswered questions, all with answers he could not even fathom. He had almost nothing to go on, no clues whatsoever.
He knew one thing, though; he could not stay here. He raised his determined gaze up to the mirror. He needed answers, and if they were not here in Wisconsin, they would be at home.
Backing away from the sink, he took in a breath of air and vanished on the spot in a puff of green smoke.
When he reappeared, it was in Amity Park. He was floating in the middle of his old bedroom, and he immediately and unwillingly transformed into his human half and collapsed onto the floor. He sat there on his hands and knees, panting heavily as he attempted to refill his lungs, sweat breaking out on the back of his neck.
He had mastered teleportation when he was seventeen, and the action had become second nature over the years, like shooting a blast of ghostly energy from his palms. Granted he only used it when the distance was too far for flying—there had not been too many fights that required such quick movement in recent years—but even though it was not an everyday thing, it was still no sweat.
In his fourteen-year-old body, though, "no sweat" was the furthest from the truth. He might know the technique to teleport himself across far distances, but evidently his body could barely handle it without falling apart.
When his breath finally came back, he muttered a curse and scolded himself for being so stupid. Getting himself killed by sapping away every ounce of his body's energy would not help anything. Slowly, very slowly, he stood on his shaky legs and attempted to crack his back, only becoming more frustrated when he realized he couldn't.
He sighed, stepping toward the door to the rest of the house. As he placed his hand on the doorknob he glanced around at his room. Why was it so… clean? There were no dirty clothes littering the floor, no crumpled up bags from the Nasty Burger. He shook his head. He would find out soon enough. "Mom? Dad?" he called, wincing at the sound of his own voice. It was barely noticeable before, but now the high-pitched inflections his voice had were impossible to ignore. He opened the door, glancing down the hallway at his sister's room. "Jazz?"
He bit the inside of his cheek. Maybe everyone was out? He tried to remember exactly what he had been doing on September 21st in 2005, but it was no use. He had no idea where he was supposed to be, let alone where his parents and sister might be.
Knowing his parents, though, he decided the basement would be his best bet.
He opened Jazz's door anyway, just in case she was in there. The room was empty, the bed a mess of covers and a few books lying open on her desk. He shrugged and continued downstairs.
The moment his foot touched the bottom stair, he knew there were people in the lab, and seconds later he could tell they were definitely not his parents. His brow furrowed.
"Check this out," a voice called, its echo muffled by the basement walls.
"That's evidence," another voice responded sternly, this one deeper than the first. He sounded older, and his voice rumbled and carried through the house, much easier to hear than the other. "Put it down."
"Ah, come on…" the younger one's voice trailed off, and he said something else indistinguishable. Danny made his way across the kitchen to the basement entrance, tilting his head to the side and trying to make out his words. "You really think the Fentons could have caused this?"
"Honestly? No," the other answered. "They were crazy, but I can't believe they were actually dangerous. Whatever caused that explosion might have been a chemical accident, but until that's proven we have to address every possibility."
"Like the Fentons accidentally blowing up a whole city block with one of these… what-do-ya-call-'ems?" the younger one asked. There was a clang of metal on metal.
"That, or someone tampering with their weapons," the other corrected. "You heard the report from those witnesses, Vince. Danny Phantom was there, and that means the Fentons probably went guns-a-blazing on him. One of their weapons could have backfired, and the Fentons may have been a lot of things, but faulty mechanics they were not."
"Never thought of that," Vince answered. There was a pause and the sound of them moving things around, and Danny was so confused by what they were saying that he stayed where he was, hoping to hear something that might clear up this whole situation.
"I'll tell ya," Vince spoke up after a while, "I won't miss the Fentons… but it sucks about the kid."
The older one murmured his agreement. "Well, let's get out of here," he said. "We've got enough friggin' evidence. No prints other than the Fentons', and nothing weirder in here than what's normal for a couple of ghost hunters. Come on."
Danny heard them begin walking up the stairs, and almost without thinking about it he made himself invisible. He watched as the two made their way up toward him, each holding a plastic bag of small items from the lab. The older one was big, especially in his stomach, and balding. He was probably around his forties. The other, Vince, was only about Danny's age—well, Danny's real age, not fourteen—and had his free hand running through his thick head of brown hair. Vince walked within inches of where Danny stood, and when he spoke again it made Danny jump.
"Lucky for him he's friends with Vlad Masters though, huh?" Vince continued. "That castle can't be a bad place to live."
"The only blessing in that kid going to Wisconsin is that it's far away from here. All those damn reporters will leave the poor kid alone there, at least."
Vince chuckled. "I think Masters being around period scared off plenty of the reporters. Y'know there's a rumor he paid off every newspaper company in the country to stay away from the kid?"
"Yeah, and there's also a rumor he blew up a reporter's camera by shooting lasers out of his eyes," the older one responded. "The lady from Amity Park Weekly swore she saw it herself. Don't believe everything you hear, kid."
That was the last thing Danny heard before they walked outside and shut the door behind them, and he lost his invisibility, staring dumbfounded in their direction.
Ten minutes later Danny stood on the sidewalk, the chilly autumn breeze cutting through his jumpsuit like butter. He wrapped his arms around himself as he stared ahead at the destroyed remains of what had once been a fast food restaurant. The charred sign on the ground, cracked in half but still recognizable, left no doubt as to what this place had been.
"The Nasty Burger," Danny muttered under his breath, his eyes focused on the wreckage. The conversation he had overheard in his house had left him with suspicions, and now they had just been confirmed. "I'm not in the past…" he whispered to himself, "I'm in an alternate timeline."
The words sounded strange coming out of his mouth, but he knew they were true. For whatever reason, he had gone to bed last night and woken up in the horrible version of reality that he had once fought for his life to prevent. He had woken up in a world where his family and friends were dead. He shuddered, and it had nothing to do with the cold. He stepped forward, invisible boots crunching on dead leaves and ashes as he approached the demolished remains of the Nasty Burger condiment vat. When he reached the giant, ruptured metal vat he reached out, almost expecting it not to really be there, but his hand met cold metal. When he pulled his hand away, he looked down at the ash that had rubbed off on his glove, a smudge of black floating in midair.
So the explosion happened. Of course he had forgotten that the CAT Test had been in September; why would he remember something so trivial? He had gotten into a mess involving—as Sam had often put it—his jerky older self, and he had gotten out of it. He beat the bad guy, no one died, and he learned his lesson about trying to cheat his way into a promising future.
And he had learned his lesson. He had never so much as glanced at another student's test since then, and he had gotten into a good college on his own steam. There, problem solved, lesson learned.
"So why am I here?" he asked aloud. He made himself intangible so that the soot fell from his hand, his eyes following the thin, smoky trail as it fell silently to the ground.
His eyes widened when he caught a glimpse of green to his left. No, that wasn't… it couldn't be, could it? He stepped toward it and crouched down, brushing away the ash to reveal the Fenton Thermos. He picked up the device and rolled it over in his palm. The thermos was dented all over, and there was a huge crack spanning from bottom to top, right through its side. Had the explosion caused that, or…? What? Danny sighed and dropped the thermos. It landed with a thud in the soot, and Danny stood straight, having decided that the thermos was not important.
Getting back to his own time was, and luckily, he knew someone who could help.
This kind of thing was right in Clockwork's area of expertise.
End Chapter 1