A Danny Phantom/DC 'Verse Crossover
Summary: Re-write of HIVE Minded, Daniel Fenton never thought school would mean anything more than bullies, bad grades, and worse teachers...that was before the HIVE Academy.
A/N: Yes, for those of you who read the old version, things will be different! I envision more time at the HIVE Academy, less cross-dressing, and a somewhat different storyline. This means that some of the things you liked about HIVE Minded might also change, hopefully for the better. Also, we're going to start things over from the very beginning of Danny Phantom, which means:
Danny has not met Vlad yet.
Danny has not met the Ultimate Enemy yet.
Danny has not developed Ice Powers yet.
This fanfiction predates BOTH the Danny Phantom series and the Teen Titans series-at least, the beginning of it.
This is for emphasis-
'This is for internal thought'-
"This is for speaking aloud"-
"DC Phantom" - This is for scene separation.
Chapter 1 – Fenton Works, Works!
Life, for Daniel James Fenton, had taken a turn for the decidedly weird some time ago.
Specifically, fourteen days, sixteen hours, twelve minutes, and five seconds...not that he was counting or anything. Because he wasn't, really. It wasn't like he had calculated each and every second he had spent in a tenuous existence stretched between life and death, wary of every glance sent his way by parents, teachers, and bullies, twitching like a scared rabbit at the thought of anyone finding out. And, of course, it wasn't as though he possessed some horrible, hideous secret which was poised to utterly destroy his life and shatter the facade of normalcy which the teen clung to with all his might.
No, that was ridiculous.
So, of course, Daniel James Fenton had absolutely no reason to attempt to leap out of his skin when his father, Jack Fenton, greeted him with a face-splitting grin and a resounding cry of, "Danny! Glad to see you home, boy! C'mon, your mom and I need your help getting ready!"
Danny blinked, his heart rate slowing down as he came to terms with the Fenton family home-cum-Workshop. The ecto-encrusted walls had been scrubbed, displaying a shade of paint he hadn't seen except in his earliest memories, the miscellaneous bits of circuitry and gadgetry had been swept away from their various hideaways, and the household looked...almost presentable. A shiver crept up Danny's spine as he stepped cautiously into the building known as 'Fenton Works.'
"Dude," Tucker Foley, his best friend whispered from behind him, awe creeping into his voice as he looked over the startlingly-clean domicile.
"Which sign of the apocalypse is this again?" Sam Manson, his other best friend, asked lowly, the sarcasm dripping from her tone.
"It's gotta' be near the end," Danny muttered, still in something of a state of shock over this sudden revelation.
"Oh, Hi kids!" Madeline Fenton cried, wheeling a vacuum cleaner into the room. Amazingly enough, the device did not have the word 'Fenton' on it and, therefore, worked as intended; this also meant that his parents, the FENTONS, had decided to clean the house, voluntarily.
Danny opened his mouth for perhaps the third time, actually finding the words to convey the torrent of disbelief he felt:
Danny blinked again, since when did he speak in stereo?
A slightly older girl with a long mane of red hair swept around Danny and his friends, her eyes just as wide and disbelief just as plain on her face. Jasmine Fenton, aka Jazz Fenton, stalked into the house, curiosity and shock overriding common sense. 'After all,' Danny reflected idly, 'this wouldn't be the first time mom and dad pulled the house into another dimension.'
"Oh, please," Maddie Fenton sighed looking exasperated even with most of her body covered in a form-fitting piece of spandex. "You all act like its unusual to come home to a nice, clean house!"
Somehow, Danny and Jazz refrained from falling to the floor in laughter.
"No, really, what's up with the spring cleaning in August?" Danny asked, finally overcoming his shock.
Maddie huffed, crossing her arms and pouting. "We're having a family dinner tonight with a very important guest."
"Guest?" Jazz asked, "Is it your parents or Aunt Alicia?"
"Yeah," Danny sniped, "Who else would be crazy enough to come here?"
Everyone took great care not to mention Jack Fenton's side of the family.
Maddie rolled her eye...goggles at her teenaged son, "For your information young man, the person arriving tonight is a representative of Tech Conglomerate Inc, our main investor and the group that keeps Fenton Works in the black!"
Danny, Jazz, and the two other teens blinked, the same thought flittering, unknowingly, through all of their minds, 'Someone actually pays them to make this stuff?'
"Which means," Maddie determined, a steely glint in her eye, "that the house and you kids need to be spic and span by the time seven o'clock rolls around or you'll both be cleaning out the ecto-drains for a month!"
"Yes mom," Danny and Jazz parroted, sighing tiredly.
"Well," Sam grinned, sliding backwards, "I think that's our que to leave, see ya' Danny!"
"Sam!" Danny cried in mock-outrage, not needing to look at Tucker to know he was preparing to jump ship also. "Aren't you guys gonna' stay and help? What happened to 'through thick and thin?'"
"Sorry dude, I've got homework," Tucker shrugged, stepping outside.
"And I've got a..." Sam floundered, trying to come up with anything that would get her out of hours of laborious cleaning in a place where toxic ooze was considered a normal working hazard, "a-family dinner!"
Both Tucker and Danny looked at her in disbelief.
"Yeah, I know, it sounded lame to me too," Sam sighed and slipped out the door as well.
Danny heaved at large sigh and looked back to his mother, who was holding out a mop and bucket with all manner of cleaning products dumped inside. The mop went to Jazz, the bucket to Danny. "Now, kids, the lab hasn't had a deep cleaning in I-don't-know-how-long, so get to it."
The siblings Fenton marched off, dragging their feet the whole way.
Below the living quarters of the Fenton family was an area sane men feared and two crazy parents called a laboratory. A mass of twisting wires, bubbling liquids, and nearly arcane scientific instruments was strewn across every available surface, some having been boxed for storage, others standing half-completed or in various states of repair. Despite the mess, though, a visible effort to clean up had been made, at least in comparison to how the lab usually looked.
"Sure, take the easy part and leave us the real work," Danny muttered, looking over the pandemonium around him.
"Right there with you, little bro," Jazz frowned, making her own survey.
"I'm not even sure what we're supposed to be doing," the male Fenton said, picking up a...something and dropping it immediately when it began to spark and fizzle. 'Probably sensitive to spectral presences,' he thought darkly, eyeing the other equipment with distrust.
"Well, at least half of this stuff is junk, so why don't we throw all the boxes into the storage room and stack anything that doesn't look like it's finished? After that, we'll have some room to clean," Jazz contemplated aloud.
Danny shrugged and began the arduous task of moving his parents' vast collection of junk, failed inventions, junk, partially exploded debris, junk, unidentifiable machinery, and junk. Thankfully none of the gizmos or gadgets blew up as he was handling them, though a few warbled threateningly. "Hey Jazz, who do you think invests in the stuff mom and dad makes, anyway?"
The redhead swept aside her hair and shrugged as she maneuvered a box into the storage room, "You heard mom, some technology conglomerate or something, why?"
Danny frowned, "I don't know...I mean...most of what they make explodes or implodes or...I just wander what happens to the stuff that actually works, ya' know?"
Jazz rolled the idea around in her head for a moment, wondering why she'd never pondered it before. "No idea...I mean, if mom and dad are being funded by someone...technically all of this belongs to them, I guess."
"Yeah, but what do they do with it?" Danny asked curiously.
The female Fenton sibling's forehead creased in thought, "Well, I imagine they'd refine the idea and either sell it or put it into production. That's how business works little bro."
"Okay," Danny heaved, leveraging an especially heavy mechanism, "But-oof-who'd need an Electro-Spectral Analyzer? Or whatever that whirly thing-a-mabob they put together last month was?"
"No idea," Jazz grunted, moving to help her brother, "Why don't you ask whoever it is that's coming to dinner tonight?"
The piece of junk hit the storage room floor loudly making the Fenton siblings cringe. "Politely," Jazz preempted as she saw Danny's mouth open, "Or else you'll be cleaning out the ecto-drains, remember?"
Danny made a face, looking to the small circular grills all over the lab floor. The last time he'd stuck a hand in there, it had been green for a week...although, he wasn't half-ghost last time, either. Still, he rather not offend their guest and be stuck with cleaning duty. With his luck, the drain pipes would be haunted by a ghost that wanted to kick his ass or something. 'I'm really getting sick of all this ghost mess.'
His shirt had been starched and pressed, he was wearing slacks, and his hair had even been coerced into behaving for the night. Jazz had her hair in a braid and their mother had, somehow, gotten her to wear a dress; save for the few small facial tics, which indicated she was quite angry, that Danny was able to pick out one might be tricked into thinking that this was a normal outfit for her. Jack and Maddie had even peeled off the jumpsuits for a night and looked like normal human beings.
It was actually a little scary.
Still, it was very nearly a typical, average family which stood in the living room of Fenton Works, a building which had been scrubbed, organized, and polished to within an inch of it's foundation. Overall, Danny was fairly sure that the structure hadn't been this clean since before his family had moved in. The cleaning had truly been an arduous undertaking, but thankfully nothing had exploded, which all of the Fentons were somewhat amazed at, even though Jack and Maddie didn't want to admit it.
"Now remember everyone," Maddie began, "It's very important that we make a good impression on whoever the Tech Conglomerate sends. They've bought quite a few designs from us over the years and gave us the start-up capital to open Fenton Works in the first place, so best behavior!"
"Yes mam," Danny and Jazz chorused.
Maddie smiled and moved to get the door, giving Jack a warning glance in the process even as Danny discretely checked that all his body parts (and his pants) were present and accounted for. When he heard his mother open the door, Danny's eyes darted back just in time to catch the first glimpse of...whoever it was. The definitively male figure was tall and thin, looking almost sickly, but not quite; he had the sharp angular features that reminded Danny somewhat of a bird of prey...with graying hair. The charcoal gray suit had been neatly and cleanly pressed, giving the man an air of respectability that was amplified by a walking stick, attache case, and a black fedora perched on his head.
"Welcome to Fenton Works," Maddie smiled, gesturing for her guest to enter with a wide sweep of her hand.
"Indeed," The man noted coolly, his right brow arching as he surveyed the room, cold eyes lingering on the inhabitants before sweeping onward. "It was certainly the easiest laboratory I've ever had to find."
Danny cocked his head, 'I'm not so sure I like this guy.'
"That's Fenton Works for ya," Jack grinned exuberantly, raising a triumphant fist, "No one will every have a problem finding us!"
"Quite," The man nodded, his eyebrow rising still further as he looked at Jack Fenton, seemingly torn between scorn, amusement, and disbelief. "My name is Dr. Robert Sanguine, and I'm here to appraise some of your in-progress works and completed inventions. If you would, show me to your lab complex?"
"Ah, I thought we might have dinner first? It would give us a chance to talk about a few of our long-term projects and the overall advances we've made in Ghost Research," Maddie entreated, her voice involuntarily granted the words 'ghost' and 'research' capitalization. "Here, Danny can take your coat, hat, and briefcase while Jazz can show you to the dining room."
Danny stepped forward, almost regretting the action as he saw clear refusal on the man's face. Still, as the teen moved, Dr. Sanguine's eyes swiveled to lock onto Danny's and a curious expression flitted over the his visage. Just like with his father, Dr. Sanguine seemed torn between several emotions when he set eyes on Danny; surprise was chiefly among them, followed closely by curiosity and some further complex mix which the teen couldn't identify. Almost...reluctantly, the man turned back towards Maddie, nodding acceptance and handing his belongings over to Danny absently, "Very well, I suppose it has been several hours since I last ate...now, about your stated research goals..."
The voices trailed off as Danny moved towards the hall coat-rack and the guest moved towards the dining room. A relieved Daniel Fenton took his time putting away the man's things and pondering the very...odd way the man had reacted to him, 'I wonder if I had something on my face?'
A dark thought erupted and the teen caught a quick glimpse of himself in the hall mirror, giving himself a quick once-over, 'Nothing invisible or glowing...not even my eyes, thankfully. Hmm...I wonder what it was? I could have sworn that he was going to say 'no,' but...'
Shrugging, Danny chalked it up to general weirdness and turned back to the dining room, where Dr. Sanguine had taken the seat next to where the youngest Fenton normally sat. Thinking nothing of it, the boy sat next to his family's guest and gave him a smile which was only somewhat forced.
"Daniel, was it?" The doctor asked.
"Yes sir, but everyone calls me Danny," the teen nodded.
"Hmm," Dr. Sanguine frowned thoughtfully, "I wonder if you would permit a scientist's curiosity?" Danny nodded, somewhat confused. "Very good, what do you know in regards to your parents' exploits in their research?"
Danny stiffened very, very slightly, but responded easily enough. "Well...I'm familiar enough with most of their inventions. At least, the ones that are safe enough to handle." 'And some that aren't,' he thought ruefully.
"Interesting," Dr. Sanguine nodded, "And what could you tell me regarding-"
The evening continued, the Fenton's guest proving an amicable enough conversationalist that Danny thought he might have misjudged the man. Every now and then, the doctor would even make the effort to include either of the Fenton children in the discussion, asking pointed and insightful questions on several different topics, though whether he was satisfied by the answers they gave would be anyone's guess given how deep in thought the man sometimes drifted.
Dinner provided several nuggets of information regarding the man himself and the company he represented, as when Jazz asked the probing question of what, exactly, his doctorate was in. Dr. Sanguine took a sip of water before replying, "Parapsychology and psychology, actually, Jasmine. That was actually why my organization sent me to assess your parents: I seemed uniquely qualified."
Jazz's eyes glittered at the mention of 'psychology,' her interest rising greatly, "Really? I was thinking about majoring in psychology when I went to college in a year...although I wasn't sure about how the employment field would be in four or five years."
"That is quite a coincidence," the older man muttered. "Well, I can tell you that there will always be a place in the world for someone who knows their way around a person's mind." He seemed to smile at some inside joke, here. "Why my position actually necessitates a good understanding of the human psyche; I very much need to know when one of my company's investments has been...taken advantage of illicitly. To do that, 'reading' a person is important, being able to tell when you're being told the truth or when you're being lied to, for instance."
Jazz nodded, fascinated, while the Fenton parents looked a tad worried.
"Don't be concerned," the doctor remarked, grinning, "I haven't found any misdirection or untruthfulness in this meeting yet."
Jack and Maddie smiled, relieved.
"Thankfully, this is nothing like my last meeting," Dr. Sanguine sighed.
"Why's that?" Maddie asked, morbidly curious.
"Well," Dr. Sanguine considered for a moment, "I was investigating the assets of the Spengler Research Group-"
"-Really!" Jack cried, his boisterous nature coming to the fore, even though his wife looked just as excited.
"What's the big deal about the...what was it?" Jazz asked.
Maddied frowned, "The Spengler Research Group is one of the premier parapsychological research groups in the world. It was started by Egon Spengler, who is a retired veteran of the field, but I had no idea we were sponsored by the same corporation as they were!"
"Yes, quite," Dr. Sanguine nodded, seemingly annoyed by the interruption. "At any rate, one of their interns has been embezzling funds for a private project. Thankfully, it seems we will be able to settle the matter in-house rather than contacting law enforcement."
"That's awfully nice of you, letting the person make amends rather than having him or her arrested," Jazz inputted.
Dr. Sanguine snorted lightly and repeated, "Yes. Quite."
"So this Spengler guy researched ghosts too?" Danny asked, receiving a nod from Jack, Maddie, and their guest. "And you're funding his...group, too? Um...Dr. Sanguine, could I ask exactly what you do with all of this ghost research? I mean, out of curiosity?"
The older man blinked raising a hand to his chin and giving Danny an appraising look, waiting a moment before answering. "Well, I specifically don't do anything with the research itself, if that is what you're asking. Ultimately, my organization is centered around the development of new technologies. The study of the paranormal, in this case 'ghosts,' is merely one facet of our technological growth. Our ultimate aim when we invest in researchers is in the hope that they will develop something which we will be able to refine for sale to either the general populous or a specific consumer niche."
The doctor paused, taking a long drink from his glass and thinking on the matter some. "When such an advancement is made, we typically reinvest the profits or allocate them to one of the organization's other interests..." A strange gleam entered his eye here, "for instance, I'm also under the employment of the branch of my organization which specializes in education."
"Oh, I didn't know the Tech Conglomerate ran a school," Maddie gushed, feeling validated that she had been helping to fund an educational institution.
"Indeed," Dr. Sanguine nodded, "We have a variety of interests, such as a private security firm, a political analysis branch, and a special acquisitions group, as well as the school I mentioned. Of course, the school is mainly for children with special needs, those who perform at a higher level than normal...students."
"Amazing!" Jack enthused. "You guys must really have it together to have your fingers in so many pies!"
"I suppose," Dr. Sanguine ceded, "but enough about me. I really must be getting on with my assessment. I you would, show me to your lab?"
It was long after the Fenton children had been dismissed, the three adults off to talk shop and discuss the implications of the Fentons' research. Danny and Jazz had happily sequestered themselves in their rooms, Jazz to tie up the phone line and Danny to finish a well-procrastinated assignment for the acrimonious Mr. Lancer. With everyone happily ensconced in their proper places, it came as a definite surprise when someone knocked on the youngest Fenton's door.
Blinking, Danny stood up, feeling joints pop back into place as he moved to open the door; if it was a surprise for someone to come calling, it was almost shocking for him to realize that the graying doctor was the one at his door. "Oh, um...hi, sir! Was there...something you needed?"
"In a manner of speaking," Dr. Sanguine asked, "May I come in?"
"Uh...sure," Danny replied hesitantly, "where are my parents?"
"Actually, I think they're setting up a demonstration of something they call the Fenton Foamer. Meanwhile, I requested a bit of your time, which your parents were kind enough to grant...with your permission of course?"
"Oh...okay," Danny nodded, still blinking in surprise, "Um...what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Well, a few things, I suppose," Dr. Sanguine started. "Specifically, your school. Do you like it?"
"Well," Danny considered, his eyes flickering towards the door self-consciously. "I...like my friends."
A skeptical eyebrow rose, "Admirable...though I notice you didn't answer my question."
Danny sighed, staying silent for a moment before confessing, "I hate my school. I mean, it's bearable with my friends there, but my teachers are jerks and they always look the other way when the jocks start bullying kids-"
"-like you," Dr. Sanguine interrupted, tapping his chin as he looked at Danny curiously, even as Danny blushed in shame.
"Like me," Danny confirmed. "And I just don't...don't-"
"Fit in?" Dr. Sanguine asked, sitting down on Danny's bed. "Perhaps...strange things happen around you? Abnormal things? Things that your schoolmates wouldn't understand?"
Danny's head shot up from where he'd been staring at his shoes, looking at the older man with wide, frightened eyes. 'Did he know? No, how could he possibly-but, then...if he didn't know...' "Sorry, I d-don't know what you're talking about."
Dr. Sanguine quirked his brow, standing up now, "Perhaps a demonstration, then? I imagine you're not being completely truthful Danny...maybe you're hiding something? Something like this?" Dr. Sanguine asked, stretching out his open palm as his hand was encompassed in a red glow. A model rocket across the room glowed in a similar fashion and shot towards the elder man's hand.
Danny's jaw dropped.
"As you can see young man, I am more than familiar with the stranger side of life," Dr. Sanguine grinned.
"H-how did you know?" Danny asked, dropping onto his bed tiredly.
"It's actually very simple," the older man stated, "While I am capable of telekinesis, my greater skills lie in the field of telepathy and you, my young friend, are completely immune to telepathy. When I couldn't feel your mind, I immediately knew you were something special but, seeing as how this seems to be news to you, I do wonder at the abilities you are aware of. Having an inviolate mind is a highly desirable trait, but... Seeing as how I have given a demonstration, would you mind reciprocating?"
Danny looked up, startled, at the mention of an acquired immunity to psychic powers, something he hadn't known to exist until right then. Belatedly, he realized that he'd been asked a question and stood. "I uh...what do you mean?"
Dr. Sanguine frowned now, looking slightly irritated. "Your abilities boy, show me a little of what you can do!"
Danny nodded, looking for the well of power inside him, that strange 'switch' which had appeared the moment of the accident, when his body had become half human, half ghost...half-alive, half-dead. Still, he paused with his metaphorical finger on the button, caution making him wary. Yes, the doctor had shown him that he, too, wasn't 'normal' in the strictest sense, but...
Once he showed this man what he really was, there was no going back. This was the point of no return, and he was at the very brink. His hand shied away from the final 'push towards his ghost half as he leveled a serious eye at the doctor, "Why are you doing this? Why are you up here anyway? What's so important to you about me being special?"
Instead of further irritation, the man suddenly smiled, though it was a cold expression that made it's way onto his face. He almost seemed...happy? at Danny's initial refusal. "Well, I suppose it would seem a bit strange to you, an odd man walking into your home one day and demanding to see proof of a horrible secret?"
The elder man hesitated a moment, then nodded to himself, as if coming to a decision. "What if I were to offer you an alternative to returning to your school? Instead, how would you feel if I said there was a school, one you could go to, for people like us? You are young, yet, and I would wager that despite any amount of experience, you most likely have some problems controlling whatever powers you have, correct?"
Danny winced as the other man hit the nail on the head.
"We could teach you a great many things beyond your powers, of course: advanced technology, weapons use, surveillance and counter-surveillance, although we have other fields of study if that is where your interests lie," Dr. Sanguine looked around the room, "Astrophysics, for instance...or advanced rocket science and propulsion?"
Danny swallowed deeply, the tacit implication of his dream was tempting, but... "Weapon use? Surveillance? What kind of school is this?" Danny asked warily, his suspicions aroused.
"Well, at dinner I did say we controlled a private security firm? My organization has found that in-house training is usually the best for that sort of thing, however the education this school provides also well-equips any individual seeking a career in the military, police organization, or freelance investigative work." Sanguine grinned coolly again, leaving out the fact that no one actually pursued those types of careers.
Danny's face shifted to contemplative, Sanguine's points did make sense...it would be useful for a soldier to know how to use a gun for instance. "And...I could go there? What's the catch?" It seemed to good to be true.
"None for you," Sanguine replied offhandedly. At Danny's inquiring look, he shrugged, "We take in quite a number of orphans and homeless children...our ideal type of student seems to be the kind that many parents throw out of their homes after learning of their peculiarities. These students sign agreements to work for the company for a few years to pay off their education. In your case, I think your parents and I can come to an arrangement."
Danny winced again, though he suspected the man had a valid point...after all, a parent was bound to freak out if their kid started glowing, or turning invisible, or shooting ecto-blasts. Still, that was a point that struck to close to home. Given the fact that his parents were ghost hunters and he was half-ghost, it was all too disturbing to imagine what would happen when their worlds collided. It was almost daily that one of his parents' devices 'malfunctioned' and detected a ghost, or one of his 'powers' went off unexpected in the middle of class, further cementing his status as a clumsy freak, or a ghost happened to pop out of the portal and threaten his friends...something which was becoming a distressingly common occurrence.
"Of course," Sanguine stated, drawing Danny from his musings, "I will need 'proof' of your exceptionally before we can discuss the matter further...I suppose you could call that the 'catch,' if you wanted."
Danny bit his lip, torn between the offer and declining, sticking to what he knew, but... "Can I have some time to decide?"
Sanguine looked him over, an appraising glint in his eye, then nodded. "Very well. I have a plane to catch tomorrow, but I'll be passing through this town next week and I'll stop by. You should have an answer ready by next Wednesday."
Two hours later, his curiosity regarding the Fentons not at all sated, the man known to some as Dr. Robert Sanguine and to many more as Brother Blood, stood outside the strange structure of Fenton Works, pulling a cellphone from the inner pocket of his coat. Pressing a single button, he lifted the device to his ear and waited. On the third ring, someone at the other end picked up.
"It is late, Blood. For your sake, I hope this is important."
Brother Blood smiled, the expression looking sinister in the half-light of the street lamps. "Headmistress, good to hear from you as well. I believe we have a new recruit."
"Really?" The Headmistress of the Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination's Academy for Extraordinary Young People asked, her tone betraying disbelief.
"Indeed..." Blood continued, explaining the situation as he walked off into the night.
"Whoa," Tucker summed up.
"Damn," Sam muttered.
"Exactly," Danny nodded.
There was a long silence as both of his friends took in the bombshell he'd dropped. He'd explained the entirety of the evening, including the doctor's offer of a different school and the demonstration of telekinesis. He'd already thought the matter over for two days, even before bringing it to his friends' attention. Each looked fairly shocked that such a school existed at all, though it made a certain kind of sense that no one would know about such thing given the probable student body.
"So, like a school for superhumans, huh? I wonder if any big-name superheroes went there? Like Superman or the Dark Knight?" Tucker asked distractedly.
"Thanks, now I've got this image of Batman in jeans, a t-shirt, and a cowl," Sam snorted.
"I guess anything's possible," Danny admitted doubtfully. "Though I really don't know if I want to be a superhero. Honestly, I'd just like it if all my limbs would stay visible and substantial."
As if to prove his point, the arm he'd been leaning on suddenly passed through the table, landing his chin painfully on Tucker's table. "Ow," the half-ghost cried, waving the translucent arm in the air, "See what I mean!"
"Yeah, it's gotta' be so hard having ghost powers and kicking spectral butt every time a nasty spook pops up," Tucker lamented sarcastically.
"Lay off, Tucker," Sam chastised. "Danny has a choice. I mean, you've seen how scraped up he gets fighting those things. If there's a school that will teach him how to control his powers, I say he should seriously think about it."
Danny flexed his arm, having finally gotten it to return to a solid state and frowned. "But what will happen if I'm not here to deal with the ghosts?"
Tucker shrugged, "Well, if you went away to school, it's not like we'd be hanging around Fenton Works as much...that's usually where the ghosts are, right?"
"But not always." Sam sighed, acknowledging Danny's point. "Remember yesterday, with the Lunch Lady? That happened at school."
"It wouldn't have if you didn't put those stupid 'turf-witches' on the menu," Tucker grumbled.
Even as Sam opened her mouth for what was doubtless a fiery rebuttal, Danny raised his hand and voice, "Guys! Not really the time right now...you can argue later."
The ultra-recyclo-vegetarian swallowed her retort with visible difficulty, but grimaced at the reminder. "Fine. Well, your parents are ghost hunters, right? I mean, I know your dad's a bit of a goof, but your mom makes up for it...and it is their job."
"And they were at the school," Tucker added. "Just, the wrong side of it. And, hey, now that the Fenton Thermos works, that gives them a leg up, right?"
"Right," Danny nodded, perking up. His parents weren't ideally suited to fighting ghosts, but they did have years of training, a cache of weaponry that would make most third world countries nervous, and the added advantage of not scaring the pants off everyone they saved.
Just most of them.
"So is that a 'yes' to the whole school thing?" Sam asked, sounding somewhat disheartened.
"I don't know," Danny admitted. "I should at least talk it over with my parents." His friends eyes widened. "Leaving out the whole 'ghost powers' thing, of course. I'll just give them some BS about Dr. Sanguine hearing me complain about Casper High and offering the company's school instead. He even mentioned it at dinner, so it shouldn't be a problem."
"Good plan," Tucker nodded. "I like the part where it doesn't involve a Danny-dissection."
"Tucker!" Sam cried, outwardly angry at his disregard for politeness, inwardly cringing at her friend giving Danny yet another reason for leaving Amity Park.
"Hey, what do you guys think I should do?" Danny asked suddenly, looking up from where he had been playing with a small green ecto-light glowing on the end of his pointer finger. "Should I pull an 'ET'," the half-ghost brandished his finger, "and go hang with the rest of the freaks or stick it out here?"
"You're not a freak dude," Tucker denied, Sam right on his heels.
"Tucker's right," Sam nodded...then paused, "And I can't believe I just said that, but what's important is what you want to do, not what you think you should do because of what we think. If you want to go to this school, that's fine, but don't do it because you're afraid of your parents or that jerk Dash at Casper High. Do it because you think it's the best thing for you."
Danny smiled, honestly smiled for the first time in days before grabbing both of his friends in a big hug. "Thanks guys...I don't know what I'd do without you." Pulling away, the half-ghost teen gave them a somewhat watery smile, "But it looks like I might have to pretty soon."
"Dude, you know we've got your back, whatever you decide," Tucker repeated, tapping Danny on the arm with a closed fist.
"Ditto," Sam grinned, "I guess we'll just have to get used to not seeing your sad mug around as much."
Danny sighed, "Now, I've just got to break the news to mom, dad, and Jazz."
"...and I think I'd like to at least try the different school out," Danny finished.
His parents were uncharacteristically solemn as they looked at him, considering the teen before them. Maddie's eyes...goggles were watering, while Jack appeared to be choking on something. Jazz seemed torn between an enthusiastic grin and a curiously irritated expression. The half-ghost whet his lips, trying cautiously to solicit a response at his parents' continued silence, "So, what do you guys think?"
"Oh, Danny!" His mother cried, practically leaping across the room to capture her son in a tight hug. "I'm so proud of you!"
"Guh!" Danny responded eloquently, his breath taken away from the hug.
"Way to go Dann-O!" Jack grinned, seeming to teleport to Danny's side. "We're proud of you son!"
"Huh?" Danny asked, blinking in confusion. "What?"
"Danny," Maddie sighed in exasperation, though she looked happily tolerant of it at the moment, "You've obviously given a lot of thought to this and that means you're thinking about your education and your life. That's a very adult action, son."
"Oh," Danny replied, the realization that he'd actually put effort into deciding his future a little astonishing.
Jazz palmed her face, grinning in a distant way. "Well, little bro, I'm proud of you too. You're usually so..."
"So..." Danny asked, wondering if should feel insulted.
Jazz shrugged. "I don't know, but I just haven't seen you put a lot of thought into what you're doing before now."
Danny frowned even as his sister sighed in frustration, "Don't...it's not a bad thing, necessarily, Danny. I just mean-"
"You're growing up, sweetie," Maddie interrupted, smiling.
"That's right Danny," his father grinned, having evidently vanished sometime during the conversation when Danny was distracted, because he thundered into the room now, carrying a spare jumpsuit. "You're growing up son, which means it's about time for you to have this!"
The rest of the family blinked.
"I had two made! One for Jazz and one for you, but your sister doesn't seem interested in ghost fighting, so...well, I had thought you would both be swimming in my family's side of the gene pool. The side that's full of nachos and Fudge!" Jack grinned, putting the capitalization of his favorite food in with audible significance. "Lots and lots of Fudge!"
Maddie sighed, "Jack, Danny's already got a jumpsuit. You remember that black and white one? Whatever happened to it, I wonder?"
"I don't think I'll be needing it!" Danny interjected nervously, attempting to derail his mother's train of thought. "I mean, after all, it would be weird if I showed up to my new school wearing a jumpsuit!" 'Well, I hope not...don't most superhumans wear weird costumes, though? I mean, Superman wears a unitard and cape, Green arrows wears...a lot of green. I guess it is a little ironic that I'm going to a place my parents' fashion sense feels right at home at.'
Maddie nodded, effectively forgetting about the errant jumpsuit, "You're right honey! You're going to need a whole set of new clothing, school supplies, and we'll have to see about a cell phone. I want you to be able to call us if you need us."
Jazz brightened, seeming to latch on to one of the few things she and her mother had in common. "Ooh! They're having a sale right now at the Megamart!"
Danny blinked and looked at his father.
Jack sighed and slapped his son on the back, "Well, it was nice knowing you Dann-o! If you make it through your mom's shopping trip in one piece, come down to the lab and I'll load you out with ghost-hunting stuff for your new school."
Danny blinked once more in confusion, looking between his rapidly retreating father and his plotting sibling and mother, before cocking his head and wondering why an impending pall of doom was suddenly crawling down his back. 'Come to think of it, I haven't been on a shopping trip with mom in...years. Huh, I wonder why?'
DC Phantom After School Special:
A podium stands center-stage, composed of a fine, deep oak and tastefully bronzed trim. Across the dimly lit stage, a man walks, a long white coat wrapped around him. The audience (you) are utterly silent as he marches towards the podium and shuffles a stack of unruly papers. Coughing once, he nods to himself.
"Hello Readers," Slayer Anderson greets you. "For those of you who have been waiting since chapter 20 of HIVE Minded came out for new material, I'd like to apologize for disappointing you so badly with the two year wait. It was never my intention to lag so long on my writing, but...every I set down at the computer, I had an assignment, a research paper, an online project, or a job interview to get ready for. It is with my sincerest gratitude that I see you have returned for more of my sub-standard product even after so much disappointment."
Mr. Anderson coughs again, then continues, "For those of you who are new to my little corner of purgatory, I welcome you. For those of you who had no idea that this was a rewrite, be warned that the original story is still up, but will not be updated any longer. There are aspects of it that just seem...silly to me, now. Now, the review section is open, I allow anonymous reviews, and I encourage you all to use this opportunity to lambast me about how I'm a lazy no-account who needs to get a calendar, and learn to use it."
"That said," Slayer Anderson concludes, now grinning devilishly. "I'm back bitches."
A trapdoor opens up just as flaming chainsaws, rotten vegetables, and weaponized rodents begin pelting the stage. Alas, your writer has escaped his rightful punishment! To the reviews, lambast him! Lambast him I say!