In the time since I first got my powers I've learned a lot. I mean, not only is there a second dimension parallel to ours that is accessible by human means, but there's life on other planets too. And they've visited us, interacted with us. And their ghosts can still come back to cause us trouble (or give knowledge, but that's rare) by virtue of the way that the Ghost Zone exists.
But probably the most interesting thing I've learned about is invulnerability. There's so many different types, ways that people are immune to the world around them.
I mean, there was my dad's; anything that anyone ever said to him he was able to shrug off. Nobody could ever hurt him because he had his own beliefs and no one could make him question them. Years of scepticism and ridicule from both the scientific and wider community couldn't make him doubt himself. He stuck to what he believed in, and by doing that was invulnerable because no words could ever hurt him.
My mom's brand of invulnerability was similar, but what gave her strength was us; her family. Everything that she was, was dedicated to making sure Jazz and I (okay, and dad too) were safe and happy. And if anyone or anything ever threatened her family she'd move the world to make sure we came through okay. Physical pain, rampaging ghosts, even the persistent flirtatious pursuits of manipulative villains; it didn't matter. Mom would set it all aside until she was a hundred percent positive everyone she loved was safe.
Tucker's type was goofy; his resilience and almost heedless tenacity. Whatever happened he managed to stay calm and in control. The world could go on around him, and it didn't really ever hurt him. And if it did he bounced back. I always found that admirable, because Tuck could be hurt, had been hurt, but he always bounced back and used every little defeat as a way to make himself stronger. For him it wasn't the getting hurt that made him invulnerable, it was his unshakable way of always coming back.
Then there was Jazz, her type of invulnerability was more subtle; her knowledge of the human mind. Somewhere in her books I think she must've stumbled across some secret decryption key because she understood people in a way that was just unbelievable. She could talk a villain down, could empathise with anyone. She was invulnerable because nothing could phase her, she could talk her way into and out of anything and as annoying as that was, sometimes I can't help but wonder if that was the best type of invulnerability, simply because she knew roughly how everyone around her was going to act and how to behave accordingly.
Sam's type of invulnerability was apparent to the world; her strength and her confidence. It was something of a mix between my mom and my dad's brands of invulnerability, but at the same time it was all her own. She believed in the good of others, of the world, in the idea that humans could make the world a better place for all that lived in it. And because of that she was immune to the pulls of society, invulnerable to any barb or sting thrown at her because somehow she was able to incorporate and utilise it in pursuit of her ideal world of equals.
And then I met Clark. He is invulnerable in the most literal sense of the word. I mean, he can shrug off bullets and walk through fallen power lines. And he can tackle some of the ghosts that give me trouble and walk away still smiling. The first time I saw Clark take a missile to the chest I thought he was a goner, but he just... dismissed it as if it was nothing. And he keeps fighting, saving people because that's what he believes his powers are for. What his steel flesh is made for.
But it's just the thing. His invulnerability is skin deep. Beneath the surface, beneath all the powers and the determination to do right, there's worry. And I worry. Because for all his powers Clark hurts. He might be able to shrug off bullets, but the people he protects destroy him. He loves everyone, with his whole heart. And I like sometimes to think I fall under that umbrella. But I know that it destroys him, to love them so much and not be able to save them. To have to push them away and not be able to tell them why. And sometimes I wonder how long it will be before Clark's invulnerability destroys him.
And then there's me. I know I'm not bulletproof in the same way as Clark. And it stings like hell to feel a bullet go in. But I heal; even as the bullet goes in I can feel it healing. So I sort of have a physical invulnerability as well. I know I'm a lot like the other ghosts that way. We can feel human weapons, and ghost weapons hurt even more. But it takes a lot more to destroy us, for a ghost to finally be ended. I don't even know what can kill me, not really. I mean, I've faced my mortality more than once, but I've never really felt it. If that makes sense.
The first time I found out I was bulletproof was an accident. Not so much the second or third times, but the first was. I was walking home from the mall alone 'cos both Sam and Tuck had been called home themselves for breaking curfew. I was walking through one of the seedier parts of town, and it was just on the cusp of sunset. But as I walked by an alleyway I stopped. There were two guys, all leather and thick black balaclavas. And they were attacking a young woman. She wouldn't have been much older than Jazz, but she was terrified.
Me, being the stupid hero that I was, walked straight into the alley. Still human, completely unprotected, but I was there, and I could save her, so I had to stop them. It happened quickly from there, and what I do remember is a bit of a blur. Jazz once explained that it was my mind actively repressing a traumatic event to the point where I could deal with it.
All I know is that suddenly the woman was on the ground unconscious, a three inch gash oozing through her jeans, and I was standing in between her and the two guys. One of them held a slip-knife, but the other pulled out a gun. I don't think he even realised what he was doing, but suddenly there was a burning pain in my chest, and when I touched my fingers to it, there was sticky blood. I remember the guy's eyes widening. I think I'll always remember that. They were brown, and scared. He didn't believe he'd really pulled the trigger.
The next thing the two were gone, running away probably. I just remember getting up off my knees, I still don't remember falling. And it was weird. I could still feel the bullet inside me. You don't want to know what it feels like, the blood rippling around the bullet like water around a stone. But it didn't hurt anymore. And I remember touching my fingers to the wound; expecting that I was just delirious from pain and was really about to... well that that was the end of me.
But there was nothing. No pain, no blood, save the remnants still stuck to my fingers. I remember being scared, uncertain. But I picked the woman up, and when they asked at the hospital I had to lie, had to say that the blood on my shirt was from the woman's leg because there simply was no wound for them to find. I'd been shot, in the chest, as a human. And I know that should have killed me. But it didn't.
I kept the bullet for ages; Sam wanted me to get rid of it. She said it was too morbid. But I didn't.
I learned something that day; something that I had never fully understood until that day; something that I never could have understood until I felt that happen. People like Clark and me, we're bulletproof. Nothing physical can hurt us long enough to be kept down. Bullets, blade wounds, missiles, heck, probably even a nuclear reaction won't kill us. And that's invulnerability in one sense. A very visible and often very awe inspiring sense.
But where it counts, that sort of invulnerability is crippling. Because I know that no matter what I do I'll never be human. I can't hold firm to my beliefs the way my dad did, and I don't have my mom's iron will to keep the family safe. I don't bounce back the way Tuck did, and I can't understand people the way Jazz used to. And Sam... I only wish I could stand strong the way she did. But I can't. I don't have that sort of invulnerability, and my own head is often my greatest enemy because I wonder if I'm doing the right thing or just causing more pain.
Every time I use my powers I'm reminded how very much not human I am. And I hate that, the self doubt and the mental beatings that come from doing what I do; the constant need to look over my shoulder, to keep the secret, to stay hidden; to simultaneously be a hero, and everyone's saviour. I can save them all, but at what expense? And if I do is it right to? Do having the powers that I have mean I have a duty to protect them, or am I just playing a fools game and leading them all to their own destruction?
Sometimes I have to wonder, knowing what I do now and what it all means. If being 'invulnerable' causes so much pain and doubt...
Is it really worth it to be bulletproof?
AN; Hope you enjoyed. I don't often write in the first person but this didn't want to be written any other way.
Ages ago someone asked about the story behind Danny's being 'bulletproof' in JAMF, and this is kinda what happened.
Anyway, thanks for reading and I love you all,