So this would be a random short story that literally came to me in a dream and also serves as some excellent third-person practice. :P
"I'm fine, Mr. Lancer."
"If that's the case, then why is such a good kid like yourself constantly skipping class?"
"I said I'm fine. There's nothing you need to worry about."
"You say that every time."
"Can I go now?"
"I suppose so, Mr. Fenton." Mr. Lancer watched as Danny once again walked out the door to his office after insisting he was fine when was so obviously not.
Whether it was because he was Danny's homeroom teacher, or because he was the vice principal, Mr. Lancer will never know, but he was constantly hearing about Danny missing class for no reason at all these days. Just from the time he saw Daniel on a daily basis, Mr. Lancer knew very well how this worked. Danny would gasp and get a worried look on his face before asking to go to the bathroom and disappearing for half an hour or so. When he finally made it back, Danny looked frowzier than he had when he ran off. The only alteration to this pattern was how Danny would bang his head against a desk in frustration sometimes instead of gasping. Mr. Lancer always preferred this as more times than not, it meant Mr. Fenton would be back within five minutes and wouldn't get any kind of questioning look from his friends; if anything they always looked slightly amused or annoyed after one of these incidents.
Then there was the matter of his friends, Ms. Manson and Mr. Foley. It was no large feat to determine that they knew exactly what was wrong with Danny, however every time Mr. Lancer asked them about Danny's problems he always got the same answer.
"Mr. Lancer, no offense, but we're Danny's friends. Meaning we keep his secrets from you."
Lancer sighed and picked up his phone, dialing a number that had become very familiar the past few weeks.
"Mrs. Fenton? It's Mr. Lancer."
"Did Danny tell you what was wrong?" Naturally, Danny had not, but this was not going to last much longer.
"No. I'm afraid we are going to have to move forward with our plan after all. Hopefully we'll be able to get his open up a bit when he's done being mad at us for forcing him away from his friends for a few days." At least, he hoped it would only be a few days. Both he and Maddie were more than willing to spend longer out at the old house if they needed to if it would tell them what was wrong with Danny, and with as closed off as he was acting it was already clear it was going to take them at least a week to get through to him.
"Alright Mr. Lancer. I'll pack us up and head over to the house once Danny gets home."
"Good. And I doubt I really need to say this, but make sure he doesn't bring a cellphone or anything. It'll only take us longer if he can still talk to his friends."
"I know, Mr. Lancer. Bye."
"Bye, Mrs. Fenton." Danny didn't know this yet as he was probably still enjoying his walk home with the only two friends he really seemed to have, but both his mother and Mr. Lancer were intent on figuring out what was going on with the boy, regardless of what it may be.
An hour later, Danny walked through his front door, only to be abruptly dragged right back through it by his mother leading him roughly to the GAV. Danny wasn't given the time to question or protest before he was locked inside the vehicle, his mother sitting beside him behind the wheel.
"Mom, what's going on?"
"You'll find out soon enough dear." Maddie had decided that she was going to give him just as much information about this trip as he was about whatever was going on in his life. If he felt it was right to keep secrets, then he should have no problem dealing with having one kept from himself.
Danny sat quietly for a good half hour, staring out the window, before he finally spoke again. "Is this because of something I did?"
He was close enough to the truth that Maddie gave in with a sigh. "It's something you've been doing for a while now." He seemed a little surprised at that answer, though whether it was because of the answer itself or because he'd actually gotten his mother to tell him something about this trip was something Maddie would never know.
"What have I been doing to earn this? Dad's not here, so it can't be about chores again, and if it were just about missing curfew you wouldn't bother dragging me out of the house." He was stating the obvious here, almost thinking out loud. He muttered the next part to himself. "Actually, if it were curfew, you'd probably try to lock me in the house. Not that'd it'd really work anyway." Maddie was relatively sure she wasn't meant to here that last statement. However, she did want to know how he'd manage to sneak out even if he was locked in the house. Oh well, that was a question to be asked when Danny finally opened up enough to explain what was wrong.
This was a trip that had been in the planning stages for a few weeks now. Both her and Mr. Lancer had decided it would be the best way to get Danny stop insisting he was fine when he so obviously wasn't. Normally, she would have brought Jack and Jazz but Mr. Lancer had agreed that they probably weren't the best people to bring along. Maddie loved Jack with all her heart, but she somehow doubted he'd be able to stop blathering on about ghosts long enough for their son to get a meaningful word in. With Jazz being the psychology nut that she was, you'd think she'd be a great asset in getting her brother to talk, but it was also clear that she too knew what was wrong with him. Jazz was loyal enough to her brother to keep his secret, no matter how much Maddie and Jack questioned her about it. She'd always say that he'd come clean when he was ready.
Well, he was going to have to be ready to come clean soon, otherwise they'd be having a very long vacation and for once Danny couldn't even use school as an excuse to get out of it. Mr. Lancer was more than willing to help Danny keep up while they were out.
"Actually, Danny, it's about the fact that you're constantly saying you're fine, when you're so obviously not"
Danny seemed to think about the response for a second before it hit him that she was answering his earlier question. "And just what would it take for you to turn around and go home?"
"The truth, Danny, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That's all we want to know." As Maddie looked to her son, she saw the look on his face that told her he'd been expecting that response.
"I was afraid of that." He muttered, once again just loud enough to be heard, but not really loud enough to warrant an answer for the time being.
Two hours later, they arrived at the old house, briefly noting that the overweight teacher had beaten them there. The house was rather large and the sky blue paint on the siding was clearly a victim to the weather as it was more faded in some spots than others. It used to belong to Lancer's now deceased parents. The house was rather large, hence why it had been kept by the family to serve as a meeting place. The way it was built made it to where it could actually serve was two completely different homes if need be. Upon entering the house, you'd come to a breezeway, and from there you'd find a hallway with a door on each end along with one directly across from the entrance to lead to the other side of the yard.
The door to the right led to an area that was laid out in design much like a two bedroom apartment would be. You would enter directly into the living area, from there you'd find a small kitchen and dining area off to the left. On the far right hand side of the room, you'd find three doors. The two placed on the far wall led to the two bedrooms while the third door residing in the corner would lead to the tiny bathroom. This apartment-like area was to serve as Maddie and Danny's living quarters for the time being.
Now, if you chose to take the door on the left end of the initial hallway, you'd find yourself in a larger, more house-like area. You'd enter directly into the kitchen area. This was because, unlike the apartment, the door to the hallway was meant to act as more of a backdoor than a front door. Passing through the kitchen, you'd find a suitably sized dining room and a choice between two doorways (they weren't really doors as the door itself was never put in). At this point, you could tell that this area of the house had been started but never actually finished. If you walked straight through the dining room, you'd find yourself in a sort of theater/office crossover and a door on the far side of the room leading to the "front" of the house. That was the door intended to be used as the front door to this area. Now, if you instead chose to venture into the doorway on the left side of the dining room, you'd find yourself in a small hallway with a bedroom right in front of you, a bathroom to the left of you, and a living area to the right of you. Since Lancer was here on his own, he was going to reside here at night, though everyone would be more than welcome to go to any area of the entire building during the day.
However, I doubt you're here to read about the exact living arrangements of everyone, so we'll leave that alone for now. On with more exciting things…
Danny and Maddie dropped off their bags in their rooms in the apartment before heading to the front area of the house to meet with Mr. Lancer.
"Wow, Mr. Lancer. Who would have known you'd have a house like this at your disposal."
"Yes, well, it's actually a family meeting place, Danny." Danny's eyes gained a slight sense of hope, perhaps he'd get out of here with his secret intact after all. "However, it's rather quiet this time of year. It'll probably be another six months before it's needed again. I think that will be more than enough time to accomplish what we need to." The flicker of hope left Danny's eyes. He was going to have to come clean eventually, but he was also going to hold out as long as he could; with any luck they'd grow bored and deem it a lost cause before too long and Danny would be able to go back to doing what he was meant to do. Sure, Sam and Tucker could handle the ghost attacks for a few weeks or so, but six months was way too long to be away from home. As it was he was probably going to have to fight off the ghosts that found him.
There was mindless chatter for an hour or two before Maddie and Mr. Lancer left to get some groceries to stock at least one of the kitchens with. This left Danny on his own to think.
There's no way this is going to end well. I can't tell them, I just can't. It would put them in the line of fire from all MY enemies more so than they already are without knowing who I am! It's bad enough Sam, Tucker, and Jazz have to put their lives and sanity on the line for me, I can't push that onto anyone else! Danny was mulling things over in his head, trying to figure out just what the bloody hell he was going to do about this whole thing. Then again, I may not have much of a choice. I can't be stuck here too long, Sam and Tucker have gotten pretty good at ghost hunting, but they're only human, they can't do this forever. I could try to lie, but Mom knows me well enough that anything I manage to come up with simply won't fly with her. She's let me off in the past, but it's not happening this time, she's already made that clear.
In the end, Danny opted for putting it off as long as he could in the hopes that something would drag him out of his mess before he had to come clean about who he really was on a regular basis. He wasn't all that concerned about what Lancer did if he found out, it was his mom that worried him. Danny was well aware that he could talk her out of hunting him like Skulker seeing as Lancer had somehow managed to get her to agree to leaving all the weapons in the GAV. It was the fact that she might try to stop from doing what he needed to do, refusing to let her baby boy get hurt, that worried him. He really could handle his powers and himself pretty well now, but that wouldn't stop the overprotective side of her from coming out. He loved his mother to death, but if she tried to stop him, his town would come before following her orders.
Danny sighed. As long as nothing happens, I might be able to avoid telling them. Naturally, it was as he thought this that Danny's ghost sense went off and Skulker made his move. The fact that Danny wouldn't want to transform in such close quarters with his mother and teacher was something nearly every ghost already knew and as if by some unspoken agreement, they were going to make his life miserable for as long as they could. In their mind, it was just a little something called payback. Danny was weakened with the adults around, but seeing as they were out of the house, he was more than willing to kick Skulker's butt properly, but he was well aware that probably wouldn't be happening again for quite some time, it was a miracle he was allowed some time alone as is.
Lancer and Maddie returned right as Danny powered down, the time to stay low was now until he could get back home to where he was supposed to be. Danny stayed quiet as he helped put the groceries away, and only said what he had to as he helped his mom with dinner. He didn't feel like talking much as that would undoubtedly end with either Maddie or Lancer pestering him for answers more so than they already were. Danny was still hanging on to that hope that he might possibly be able to get out of here without them realizing he was Phantom all along, but we all know it doesn't work that way.
Danny had woken up several times throughout the night out of habit, or at least he thought he did. It was really a combination of two things. One being that a few, like the Box Ghost and Technus, had gotten bored and woken him up on purpose. The other being that after about the fifth time this happened, it wasn't night anymore, it was just so dark in his windowless room he couldn't tell it was already the morning time his body was used to being up at. By the time he finally got up, it was well past one and he knew that he'd either feel fully refreshed for a change all day, or pay for it with insomnia all night.
He got up and made his way to the main kitchen before deciding such a late breakfast probably wasn't worth it, it wasn't like his body needed a whole lot of food to function anyway. Most mornings he just skipped breakfast in an attempt to leave room for food of some sort at lunch and dinner. He found his mom and Lancer in the living room, already up and fully dressed. They had woken up normally as their rooms weren't nearly as pitch dark as Danny's was. The Amity Park news was playing on the screen, and at first Danny thought news playing in the middle of the day was just another odd thing about his home town. Then he saw his mother pick up the remote and skip over the commercials, informing Danny they had recorded it earlier and this really was the morning broadcast that had come on at the normal time.
The daily ghost watch segment was the only thing that really held Danny's interest. He knew that he could judge just how far over their heads Sam and Tucker were by the number of reported attacks. It was a little higher than normal, a grand total of 18, but not enough for Danny to worry. He knew that on an average night, there were somewhere around forty ghosts that made their way out into the town, but Danny managed to take care of most of them before they were reported. He prided himself in keeping that number at or below 15, and he knew an 18 from Sam and Tucker just went to show how good they'd gotten. He actually probably had a little more time than he had initially thought he had before they wore down and needed his help.
Maddie also noticed the number of attacks was slightly higher than normal, but she didn't know there were more than what were reported on any given night. The number barely caught the attention of either her or Mr. Lancer, they were both more focused on the damage reports. Danny couldn't care less about hearing about all the damage that had been caused by the attacks. He already knew what they were going to say most days seeing as it was his fights that caused it and even today when he didn't know he didn't really care to. The thing's on Danny's mind didn't have anything to do with the damage, he had other things to worry about, mainly his secret.
By the time evening came around, Danny had allowed himself to start talking a little more than he absolutely had to, he just kept a careful eye on what came out of his mouth. The ghosts hadn't bothered him much today, which was odd, but Danny wasn't going to complain as they would make it a little harder to keep his secret life under wraps. The only ghost that came to bother him was the Box Ghost, and by now even Lancer could take care of him. Danny found it amusing to see the out of shape teacher take down the Box Ghost without a sound when any other ghost made him scream and run for the hills.
By the third day, the ghost-boy's home town had noticed his disappearance. It was all over the news. Some wondered if they had been abandoned while some argued he just needed a vacation from it all. Neither one of those as true, but how could the citizens of Amity park ever know that?
In her mind, Maddie saw this as proof that the ghost boy wasn't as deeply rooted to the safety of the town as many preferred to think. Danny couldn't hold back the laugh that served as the initial response to his mother's comment.
"And just what do you find so funny, Danny?" Danny was too busy trying to find a way of coving his trail to respond before his mother spoke again. "You do realize he is ghost with no real emotions, right? If anything, his daily actions are just a cry for the attention he likely never got in life." She paused for a second, her mind making a new connection as she spoke. "It's likely his disappearance is simply to make people recognize his existence now that he's left them" Danny, who had just gotten over his previous bout of giggles, burst out in laughter again. It really shouldn't have been as funny as it was, but he really got a kick out of hearing his mother's theories.
When Danny saw the odd look his mother was giving him, he tried to find an explanation that wouldn't raise too many red flags in his mother's mind. He knew there would be some after his sudden loss of control, but he still needed to keep that number as low as humanly (or half-humanly) possible. "I just find it funny that no one has even suggested it might not be Phantom's fault he can't be there." Cue the raised eyebrow Maddie gave her son at this point. Sure, even her biased mind could see that it was minutely possible, but it was the way her son had handled the whole situation that caused the brunt of her current reaction. The way Danny had spoken, it was almost as if he personally knew Phantom. How, just how, was it that her son, who ran as soon as a ghost came anywhere near the vicinity know the ghost boy?
It was clear to her that Danny knew something about the ghost boy that most people didn't, but she could tell he didn't want to be talking about this from the look on his face. Maddie mentally debated with herself about whether or not to push her son for whatever it was he knew and was hiding about Phantom before deciding to let it drop seeing as he was only just beginning to really talk to her and Lancer about much of anything.
Danny mentally smacked himself as he watched the thoughts running through his mother's mind make their way to her expression to play themselves out. He'd very nearly slipped and considered himself lucky when Maddie decided not to push him any farther for information.
Nice going, Fenton. Much more of that, and she's going to have it figured out before even Skulker attacks again!
Danny stayed quiet for the rest of the day, not fully trusting himself not to say something else incredibly stupid. He managed to make it several hours before life decided to screw with him just a little.
Danny nearly slammed his head into the table when Skulker appeared in the middle of dinner.
"I have come to finish the hunt, Ghost Child."
Alright, Fenton. We've got to work like Phantom, but look like Fenton. I can do that, right?
"Seriously, Skulker, just because my parents hunt ghosts doesn't mean you have to refer to me as the Ghost Child. It makes me sound like the ghost!" It wasn't his best work at damage control, but it was all he had. He hoped that both his mother's and Lancer's tendency to look way too far into things would actually help him for once, and let them make the connection he was trying to force into their minds. As the words left his mouth, however, he did realize that he probably shouldn't have let on that he knew the ghost. It would most certainly worry his mother to find out he was ghost hunting, though it might satisfy her and Lancer enough to let him go home.
He grabbed the wrist-ray he'd been keeping in his pocket just in case and grabbed the thermos he'd hidden under the couch as he dodged an attack by throwing himself down to the ground for a split second. He tried to keep himself as human as possible, only using his ghost powers enough to give him the speed and agility his human form did not yet possess. The usual ten minutes he was used to taking Skulker down in became twenty as the limitations of his human form sunk in, slowing him down and forcing him to actually dodge attack instead of phasing through them.
At the end of his twentieth minute in battle, he finally trapped Skulker in the thermos his mother wasn't fully aware actually worked, and turned to see the shocked faces of both Maddie and Lancer. Danny stayed quiet, deciding to see what the adults would come up with in response, and work from there.
"You're ghost hunting, aren't you?" Maddie finally spoke, disbelief evident in her voice.
"Yeah." Maddie couldn't quite wrap her mind around the fact that while she'd always assumed her son was running from the ghosts, it was now clear he was running to them. A part of her was proud he'd taken a liking to the family line of work, but a part of her was scared and worried that he'd been fighting without telling her.
"Am I to assume this is why you're constantly skipping class, Mr. Fenton?" Danny just nodded his head. While this was technically the truth, it still bugged him the same way a lie did that they were still missing a vital piece of information.
"That certainly does answer a lot of questions, doesn't it, Mr. Fenton?"
"Yeah, I suppose it does, Mr. Lancer." Danny was hoping beyond hope that this would be enough for the two adults now staring at him and he'd be allowed to go back home. "Can we go home now?"
"No." Maddie's reply was quick and certain.
"Why?" Both Lancer and Danny asked the simple question at the same time. Danny because he had really thought this would be enough to get his mother off his tail and Mr. Lancer because he thought they'd gotten the answers they'd been looking for.
"Your eyes have always given you away, Danny. That's how I know you're still not telling us the full story, just like you I knew you were never really fine all those times you swore you were. Now would you like to tell us the full truth?" Before the words left her mouth, Maddie already knew what her son's answer would be.
"No." Danny turned and walked away without finishing his dinner. He wasn't going to stick around right now, there was too great a chance he'd say something that would make them see what they were so clearly missing. Danny knew it was going to come out sooner or later, but he was still hanging on to that thread of hope that he wouldn't have to tell them about the full extent of the problem.
That thread of hope he had left died as the next day unfolded. To start off with, Maddie noticed something odd about Phantom's disappearance, the one detail Danny had been hoping and praying she didn't catch. The news reporters gave the last time that their hometown hero had been spotted. Maddie ran back through her memories several times over, just to make sure she wasn't going nuts, but came to the same conclusion every single time. Phantom had last been spotted between when she had gotten the call from Mr. Lancer and when she'd dragged Danny to the car. It had to be a coincidence, but her gut was telling her that was not the case in the slightest. She brought it up to Danny, but he kept a neutral expression on his face and simply shrugged at the thought. He was panicking on the inside, but he was also hell bent on keeping his mother from finding out his secret if it was at all possible. Maddie saw her son's behavior and realized that he obviously knew something about Phantom's whereabouts, but he really didn't want to tell her. It didn't really matter anyway, why would Maddie care for a filthy, evil, putrid ghost?
Just off that short interchange with his mother alone, Danny already knew this would be the day all his hard work to keep his ghost half a carefully guarded secret would come crashing down around him.
This sinking suspicion was only further driven into Danny's mind as he sat through his daily tutoring session with Lancer. That idiotic Box Ghost made another appearance and while he was normally more of an annoyance than a threat, today he was apparently intent on spilling the true identity of Danny Phantom, even if he himself wasn't fully aware of that fact.
"Beware! For I am the Box Ghost! Tremble, Phantom, before the might of my cardboard vengeance!"
Rational, not freaking out at hearing his alter ego's name, Danny would have cut old Boxy off midway through the sentence. At the moment though, the rational, not freaking out about hearing his alter ego's name, Danny wasn't there at the moment, so the Box Ghost got to finish his mini rant for once.
Lancer held a slightly shocked look on his face, wondering why this idiot of a ghost had just referred to Danny as Phantom. Danny on the other hand, gained a look of determination that normally wasn't needed to defeat someone as powerless as the Box Ghost. That determined look on his face was more there for the sake of keeping his secret than anything else.
After Danny had locked the ghost up, Lancer began to ask a question that Danny had only found an answer to in the thirty seconds before he asked it. "Why…?" He didn't even bother to finish, he knew the real question was pretty obvious.
"Ever since that idiot found out my name, he's been referring to me as if I have some connection to Danny Phantom. All it does it get on my nerves, but I swear that's why the idiot does it." That lie was full of holes, and both of them knew it, though only Danny really knew the full extent of those holes. He ran through the first few in his head, trying to add up the total damage done.
Well, let's see. I just pointed out the name similarities between me and Phantom. I also just flat out told Lancer there's a connection between the two. And I made it clear these ghosts know me better than any other hunter out there. Yup, it's official, I'm screwed.
Lancer didn't bother pushing Danny for any more answers, counting himself lucky he'd gotten as much as he had out of his young student.
The day wore on, and Danny quickly found that every time he began to think his secret identity might stay that for one more day, another ghost popped up to try proving him wrong.
Ember showed up, looking for some new grounds to set up stage for a performance. Then came Johnny 13 and his shadow, quickly followed by Kitty and a rather nasty argument between the two before Danny managed to convince them to go home to work it out. Skulker and Boxy each made another appearance, and by this time, Danny was honestly surprised Plasmius hadn't paid him a visit.
In the end, however, it was Technus that finally forced Danny to let the cat out of the bag.
"Tremble, child, for I, Technus, Master of all technology, am going to totally fry your bacon!"
"Dude, seriously. What is wrong with you? You're going to 'fry my bacon'? Are you even aware that that's so far out of date it barely makes sense anymore?" Danny was annoyed, make no doubt about that, but his tone came off as a cross between amusement and boredom. He was more than used to this, Maddie realized as she watched her son face down yet another of the ghosts that had been showing up all day.
"I, Technus, shall-"
"Shut up now before we all fall asleep during one of your ridiculously long speeches. Do you ever stop talking about yourself?" Danny absolutely loved the fact that he could so easily cut Technus off and make it sound like a flawless continuation of the previous statement even if it was obvious that wasn't what the ghost was originally going to say.
Technus made a shot at Danny, or at least that's what Danny had originally thought he had done. It wasn't until he'd moved out of the way that he realized that for once Technus had gotten a little smart in his fight and forced Danny into letting him trap the two adults.
"Let them go, Technus." Danny's voice was even, and he let a green glow come to his eyes to prove his point. He knew at least one of the onlooking adults would see his eyes flash their neon green, but he figured (or at least hoped) he'd be able to pass it off as a trick of the light in their eyes.
"Oh, no, child, I have bigger plans."
"Because you actually take the time to plan out anything past your obligatory monologue." Danny rolled his eyes at the end of his witty remark.
"Technus 3.0 plans out more than just his speech!"
"And yet you still haven't overcome the bug that forces you to say all of that in the first place." Danny smirked at the end of his comment this time. Technus very quickly wiped that look off Danny's face as he sent a small electrical jolt towards Maddie and Lancer. It wasn't nearly enough to seriously injure them, but it was enough to make them scream for a second or two, more than enough to get Danny to stop fooling around.
He fumbled around for the wrist ray, mentally cursing himself for being more focused on his witty banter than actually preparing for a fight, as Technus made another shot at Danny. As soon as Danny had the ray on his wrist and ready to shoot though, Technus took full advantage of his control over all technology and summoned the wrist ray towards him, leaving Danny defenseless without the use of his powers.
There was another jolt of electricity sent out towards the adults who were now watching with their eyes peeled. They hadn't seen Danny fight without any form of weaponry, and as much as Maddie would have loved to offer any of the equipment she had stored on her to help her baby-boy, she couldn't even activate the simplest of it with the way she was restrained. She didn't have a clue how Danny was going to make it out of this, and by the look on his face, she'd have to say Lancer didn't have a clue either. Danny was on his own, and Maddie absolutely hated it.
Danny on the other hand, knew exactly how to get out of this, he was just trying to find any available option he might have possibly miss before resorting to it. His powers could finish this off in a matter of minutes, but he wasn't all too willing to use them if he didn't have to. He went for one last ditch effort before he would give in and reveal himself.
He did exactly what his mother had probably expected him to do and worked on distracting the ghost long enough to get his wrist ray back. Danny got Technus to drop it rather easily, and realized with a start that even Technus, no, even the Box Ghost wouldn't have been stupid enough to drop a weapon so uncaringly. It was when Danny tried to fire off a shot that he realized why Technus hadn't really cared about giving the weapon back. Sure, Danny now had to weapon back in his very capable hands, but it was useless now that Technus had worked his magic on it and broken it. The damage was probably repairable, but there was no possible way to fix it in the heat of battle.
Technus gloated and started rambling off about something or another, and Danny took that chance to make his final choice. He saw that Technus' shocks of energy being delivered to his mother and teacher were gradually getting stronger and stronger, and he made the choice to fight in his usual style. He took a few steps back, just enough to put him within hearing range of the on looking adults.
"I was really hoping you wouldn't have to find out this way." Lancer and Maddie exchanged a glace, they both knew they were about to get the full answer they had been looking for when they initially decided upon this trip.
Danny took a deep breath, calming himself before he finally let his secret out. "I'm going ghost!"
Lancer and Maddie watched in shock as blue-white rings suddenly appeared around Danny's waist before they separated and moved to opposite poles of his body. They both saw a familiar black and silver jumpsuit appear as the rings passed over the boy's body, and they suddenly realized what they should have caught onto long ago: Danny Fenton was Danny Phantom.
Danny dropped into a fighting crouch, a new look of determination in his now neon-green eyes. "Now that I can kick your butt properly, how's about we get this over with, Technus?" Both the adults saw a cocky side of Danny come out that they had both seen on occasion, but never for more than a few seconds.
Danny started firing off shot after shot. "That's for being a royal pain in the ass this week." One shot made contact and left the ghost visibly weakened. "That's for making me reveal my secret." A second shot hit, knocking Technus to the ground before Danny struck again. "And that's just because I felt like it!" A third, powerful shot hit the ghost as Danny summoned a thermos to his side. Within seconds, Technus was gone and Maddie and Lancer were free.
Danny took yet another deep breath before turning to look at the two adults. No one really knew what to say, so Danny finally spoke.
"I'm sorry for not telling you, but you have to understand it wasn't for my sake."
"I think we're both extremely proud of you, Mr. Fenton." Lancer found his words seconds before Maddie did.
"But that doesn't get you off the hook, young man." Danny gave her a confused look. "Why didn't you tell us?" Danny wasn't particularly fond of that question, it was one he was hoping to avoid.
"Would you believe me if I said I just never got the chance?" Danny had a feeling this wouldn't fly, and expressed that in the way he phrased his response. Mr. Lancer visibly backed out of the conversation; he would ask his own questions after Maddie had a chance to talk to her son. Maddie looked at the boy in front of her before answering.
"No, I wouldn't"
Danny sighed. "I didn't want anyone else to get involved."
"But Sam, Tucker, and Jazz all know."
"Yeah, and it's bad enough that they have to risk their lives and sanity in addition to becoming a target of all of my enemies just for keeping my secret. I didn't want anyone else putting their necks on the line for me." Maddie looked at the son, when had he grown up so much? When had he stopped caring about himself and learned to look at the big picture?
Then another thought hit her, this one much more disturbing in her eyes. "Me and your father…" She began, only to have to stop that far along to steady herself before continuing. "We shot at you, hunted you. Why did you let us do that?"
"Actually, I didn't. I never let you get a good hit in and never let myself get into situations I couldn't get back out of. I knew what I was doing, mom. However, now that this is out in the open, can we avoid the whole shooting thing?" Danny gave a little lopsided grin to accompany his attempt at humor. That did little to calm Maddie.
"That doesn't change the fact that I threatened to do such horrid things to you, my own son."
"Mom, stop worrying about it. I don't hold it against you and never will. You were just doing your job, if anything I brought that upon myself by not telling you. Besides, have you heard the threats Skulker's been giving me all day? And he's been rather mild about it today." Maddie saw that Danny was desperately trying to lighten the mood with humor, and Maddie allowed herself to crack a small smile to ease her frantic son, even if it did nothing to ease her own heart.
She finally actually took the time to really look at her son's ghost form. How had she missed it? She'd been living with the ghost-boy – her own son – this whole time and never noticed that once you get past the snow white hair and glowing green eyes, there really was no difference. It was rather ironic, really. She and Jack were the ghost hunters that literally couldn't catch a ghost if it lived under their own roof. She almost allowed herself a small laugh before the weight of the situation came crashing back down on her. Her own blindness and actions were not easy for a mother to forgive anyone of.
"I'm so sorry." She whispered as her body fought to keep from breaking down in tears. She didn't want Danny to see how much this was affecting her, she couldn't risk him thinking it was all his fault after all he's done for the town. It's funny how finding out it's your son that's been fighting makes everything you once thought evil to be the actions of a pure heart.
Danny was more intuitive than she gave him credit for though as he ran to his side before changing back to help comfort and calm her down.
Ten minutes later, Maddie had composed herself and Mr. Lancer deemed it okay to start with his own line of questions. Danny knew he was going to get grilled by Lancer nearly as much as his mother, but the question he was asked first was not one Danny even expected to be on the list.
"I have been wondering, why do you sometimes bang your head against the desk before running off?" Danny nearly burst out laughing at that question. Of all the things to ask, Lancer's most burning question was that one.
"About 99% of the time it means Old Boxy is paying me a visit for the fifth or sixth time that day." Danny let out a chuckle. "I swear that guy is the cosmic joke of a ghost." Both Lancer and Maddie let out a short laugh alongside Danny.
Apparently, the Box Ghost took this as an unofficial cue. "BEWARE!"
"Speak of the Devil." Danny muttered. He spent all of about five minutes trapping the ghost in his cylindrical container. He didn't even bother to go ghost, it just wasn't needed with as weak as Boxy was. He was good for misplaced aggression, but that's really about it.
Danny spent the next few hours explaining everything, from start to finish. Lancer and Maddie were all ears, only occasionally stopping Danny to ask a question. He never thought this day would come, but it really did feel good to get such a heavy weight of his chest.
When he finished, Maddie and Lancer were at a loss for words. They were looking at what should have been a fifteen year-old kid but was instead a hero at heart that'd been forced to grow up rather fast. They were both still trying to figure out how they'd managed to miss the obvious for so long, how they'd managed to miss the one piece of the puzzle that'd been right in front of their faces.
A silence spread over the group for several minutes before Danny spoke again. "Can we go home now?" Lancer and Maddie both laughed; Danny may be a hero when he needed to be, but he could still be a kid at heart.
Roughly six hours later, Danny returned home to see his friends sitting on the front steps awaiting his arrival. Danny wasn't sure if he wanted to know just how long they'd been sitting there.
Sam and Tucker looked at him, then to the proud adults standing behind him, an obvious question in their eyes. Danny let out a sigh. "They know."
"What'd it take for them to finally crack you?" Tucker asked, apparently not the least bit surprised.
"Technus taking all my normal ghost gear and trapping those two did it." There was yet another questioning look in his friend's eyes. It's amazing how much can be said without words.
Danny led them into the house. Jack wasn't home, but Jazz was standing at the top of the stairs with a knowing look on her face before she came down to join the others in the living room. Danny retold the story of his reluctant revelation.
"Technus? Really? Well, at least it wasn't the Box Ghost." Sam remarked.
"You're telling me. That would have just been plain embarrassing." Danny chuckled.
Jazz stepped in, redirecting the conversation. "Are you going to tell Dad?"
Danny gave his mother a look, telling her it was really her choice. He wasn't too fond of the idea, but if Maddie wanted him too, he knew he wouldn't really have a choice. Now that his mom knew the truth, Danny was quite positive she could force it out of him if she really wanted to.
"You are going to tell him and you're going to tell him as soon as he asks. I won't make you say anything out of the blue, but when he asks, you are going to come clean or I will make you. Do I make myself clear?" Maddie held a no-nonsense tone of voice that Danny couldn't ignore.
"Yes mom." He muttered. He may be a super-hero, but his mom and Sam could whip him into shape at any time.
So...good? Bad? Somewhere in between?
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