Chapter 19

Humans and Ghosts

(Part 4)

"Don't play the victim to the circumstances you created."

IMPORTANT: This is now a separate story. This is the 4th chapter out of 5 and I will be posting the ending on the separate story.


Panic attacks were never fun for Danny Fenton. They always made him acutely aware of the fact he needed to breathe.

The cores of a Halfa weren't like those of traditional ghosts. If Frostbite hadn't explained it to him, Vlad's research of Danielle certainty would have. Halfas have cores – as that's the only way their bodies are able to regulate ectoplasm – but rather than a physical pulsing area of light deep within their chests, their beating hearts were a substitute.

Ghosts weren't supposed to have hearts that still beat. They don't have a place for a core to manifest its metaphysical purpose without physically forming. Halfa cores, on the other hand, were essentially hidden within their hearts: a section of moving flesh as opposed to a ball of light.

(Does that make Halfas stronger or weaker than the dead?)

"Dash, take Danny! Go!"

"Jasmine, why are you doing this?"

"He's OUR son!"

"Stay back!"

"How could you!? HOW COULD YOU–"

The faster the heart of a Halfa beats, the greater the stress on their core. It was a blessing in battle: added adrenaline only makes for a more powerful – more reckless – ghost teenager; but outside of a fight, it only creates panic attacks.

And instability.


"–left – the park– "

"Home again?"

"We have to, but not yet."

"Danny, breathe."

He choked on his next breath, pushing against the arms holding him. The person made a surprised noise and rushed to set them on the ground.

"Wait, he's not–!"

As badly as he wanted to stand on his own two feet, Danny's legs gave out the minute he stood upright.

"Oh, God! I'm sorry."

"It's alright, just help me move him."

He felt Jazz's hands as the world spun. His eyes were open, but he couldn't see. Had his parents given him their current affliction?

(Blind, blind, blind).

Someone's rough hands moved him to lean against a tree. Jazz was right beside him, one arm around his shoulder as he slowly slid down until his cheek pressed against her. Her other hand curled around his fingers.

"Danny, just breathe. Focus on the movement," she said softly, and for a moment, nothing else mattered except listening to her voice.

His chest moved. As much as it felt (wrong, wrong, wrong), he obsessively centered himself around the motion. Air caressed his throat, ribs expanded, his entire body felt like one big machine on autopilot. The ectoplasm in his veins slowly receded – not visible to anyone other than the body it traveled through – and his heart stressed against the sudden change. Danny could feel the difference between his blood and the thick green substance that forced his heart to move.

(Ironic that the only thing keeping him alive was what should have killed him in the first place).

"You're safe," Jazz said, sounding just as patient as before. She hummed softly, resting her head on top of his. "You're safe."

He felt safe. His body only needed to cooperate.

"Is there anything I can do to…?" the boy across from them asked, still hovering.

Danny felt his sister smile against the crown of his head. "No, but Dash, thank you."

He could imagine how pink Dash's cheeks turned at her praise. That alone was enough to make him release a slight puff of breath that meant to be a laugh. Jazz tightened her hold on him, as if understanding his intention.

The shifting of leaves meant Dash stood. After a moment, where Danny was acutely aware of the eyes watching him, he said flatly, "This is really bad, isn't it?"

(The situation? His parents? The panic attack he still couldn't move from?)

"Yes," Jazz answered, squeezing him again and tilting her head back against the tree. All was silent for a single breath.

Dash's reply, several seconds later, was a simple, quiet, "Oh."


"We could go to Vlad's," Jazz brought up, suddenly, long after Dash left.

They laid there pressed against each other for hours. Sometimes they spoke softly about silly things that made him laugh; other times, they just enjoyed the silence of the park. For the first time in a very long time, he felt safe.

Danny tilted his head up to give her an incredulous look. He received a raspberry in his face for his effort. "Jazz!" he laughed, rubbing the spit from his cheek. "That is way beyond gross."

Jazz stuck out her tongue again, leaning forward with exaggerate "Yehhhhhh," sounds as she tried to lick him. Danny pushed one hand against her forehead to keep her back, using the other to hold them upright as they both leaned sideways. "You stop that right now!"

"Stop what?" she asked, innocently, except with her tongue out it sounded like, "Sahp wa?"

He laughed, chest heaving. Breathing may have always been difficult for him, but laughing formed a pleasant ache.

(I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive.)

His thoughts started to build again. Before he could drown in them, Jazz pulled him out. "I don't want to go back, Danny." She didn't bother saying 'home.' The word felt empty, anyways.

He swallowed. He didn't either. He hadn't for a very long time.

"Sam and Tucker are probably texting me," Danny voiced, feeling his phone vibrate for what felt like the sixteenth time. He didn't want to check just in case it wasn't Sam and Tucker. After all, Jazz's phone was going off just as much as his.

When she didn't reply, he thought about what he noticed when they confronted their parents at Casper High. There was something there. Danny saw it when his father rushed forward only to freeze when his innocent hug was rejected. He saw it when his mother looked absolutely crushed at her children's avoidance. He even saw it when she held his hand and told him she'd kill him.

"They love us," he whispered with absolute certainty.

Jazz looked like the weight of the world was tugging at her face. "Danny, people can love someone and still hurt them."

(Parental love was unconditional, so why has he always felt like an obligation?).


Danny could hear them yelling from upstairs.

His door was safely locked and he remained as far away from it as possible. No matter what he heard, Jazz told him not to come down for any reason.

He wasn't sure why they went back. Maybe for the same reason, after all these years, they had never left.

Pretending had always been easier.

The words were unintelligible, but from the tone, Danny knew Jazz and Mom were fighting tooth and nail to get the other to understand their own actions. Dad would cut in every so often, sounding hurt rather than angry. It tugged at Danny's heart, even as it raced anxiously whenever he heard footsteps trying to come upstairs. At one point, Danny knew his father was standing right outside his door, probably trying to talk himself into knocking. He never did, and Danny never spoke.

The argument picked up and dropped like a chorus. Danny noticed his hands shook whenever their voices got too loud for him to think, and maybe that was a good thing. Being left alone to your own thoughts was even more dangerous than listening to others.

He rubbed his arms, curled up against the right side of his bed. He should call Sam and Tucker to make sure they were okay. He couldn't remember what happened after Jazz screamed for Dash to take him away, but he recalled hearing Tucker's voice like a lion's roar. Everyone had been so angry.

There was a crash from downstairs and he jerked up. It was silent for a moment before the screaming started again.

His heart tried to settle.

(Thump, thump, thump).

He wondered if Johnny had figured out who his parents killed. Not even Skulker had been back in Amity Park since yesterday so he knew his message had been received. Ghosts were always extremely protective of their cores, it's why humans had never known about them, even after all these years.

(Until now).

Danny breathed deeply. Nothing about any of this was okay.

He gasped when another loud crash was heard. This time his mother's shriek wasn't as quiet. Danny couldn't hear Jazz anymore as their Mom and Dad were yelling too loud. Another crash came and went, and before he could talk himself out of it, he moved to his door and peaked out.

They weren't in the kitchen anymore; the basement door was wide open as sounds of a fight came from deep within.

The basement door that haunted his nightmares seemed to watch him. Would he go down? Would he stay in the safety of his room? Did he dare to venture to the place he died while his parents were there too?

The loudest slamming sound he had ever heard suddenly reared its head as the house shook, forcing him to grip the railing and fumble down a step. Mom screamed Jazz's name. Danny was down the stairs and through the basement door in two seconds.

There was glass covering every inch of the floor: beakers, bottles, broken ecto-guns and computer pieces. Two of his parents' containment units looked like someone had taken a bat to them, and the portal was sparking dangerously. In the middle of it all was Jazz, swinging around the Fenton anti-creep stick with a crazed look on her face.

She was destroying the lab.

Dad managed to grab one of her hands, stopping her second swing at the portal that started it all.

"Jasmine, calm down!" he cried. Because it was their dad, he sounded more like he was pleading with her than ordering.

Jazz struggled against him, completely ignoring her mother who was on her knees, one hand covering her mouth, staring wide-eyed at her daughter from the center of the room. "It's THIS!" his big sister screamed, trying to swing the bat with one hand. "All of this is because of your STUPID PORTAL!"

"Just stop this!" Dad tried again.

Jazz was absolutely relentless in her struggles, but Dad was a very large man. It was an extremely one-sided battle.

Danny found his voice. "Jazz," he said, terrified.

(Thump, thump, thump).

Three heads turned quickly. Mom gasped and moved as if to go to him, but she stopped even before Danny could take a step back. "Danny," she breathed, looking very lost.

He ignored them.

(He tried to).

They probably had no idea why their kids were suddenly pulling away; why Danny looked terrified, or why Jazz was trying to destroy the lab that destroyed their family a long time ago without them realizing it. They looked seconds away from breaking down into tears.

A small, very angry part of Danny whispered, maybe now they'll know what that feels like.

Jazz slipped out of Dad's arms easily enough. She looked scared as her eyes bore into his. "I told you to stay upstairs."

Danny swallowed, making sure to keep his eyes only on her. "I heard something break."

"I'm okay," Jazz whispered, finally reaching him. She didn't look back once as she gently guided him back upstairs.

He thought maybe one of his parents tried to say his name, but the other stopped them just as quickly. Instead, his mom gathered her courage. As she kneeled amongst the broken pieces of years of research – her entire life's effort surrounding her – she glared sternly at her child who threw the equivalence of a tantrum at almost eighteen years of age.

"Jasmine," she snapped, eyes like fire. "Grow up."

Jazz didn't even flinch.

They made it to her room, but before she locked the door and shut it tight for the night, Danny was sure he heard someone sobbing in the basement.

His sister refused to let go of him. They made a pillow fort on the floor, like they used to when they were little, and as he settled into it, he noticed absentmindedly how Jazz placed herself closest to the door.

He felt breathless, laying there staring at her ceiling. He wondered if Jazz ever worried about how she had to breathe to live. He wondered if she ever felt the need to count her breaths.

Being alive wasn't something he remembered well.

Jazz must have been thinking hard about what mom said, because she suddenly laughed quietly. "All our lives we're told to grow up," she told him in nothing more than a breathless whisper, "that things will get easier when we're older; we'll understand more, do more, simply be more. But who are the ones fucking things over for everyone?"

She paused to turn over, sending him an annoyed look. "Adults."

"Kids, though," she continued with a smile, "even teenagers at your school – all they do is care. They're curious, they're kind, they're unafraid and compassionate in a way adults never will be."

He thought about the battle each of them were fighting now: Amity Park citizens arguing for the rights of ghosts, despite their fear of them. His classmates worshiping Phantom. They were the first to support him and believe he could be something more than what being dead meant for him.

Sam and Tucker with their protest signs; the first two to lead a charge to defend him.

Dash, rushing to get him away from his own parents without hesitation.

Paulina and the other A-listers protecting Phantom's reputation.

Mr. Lancer, who never pushed.

Valerie, willing to believe that Danielle could be just as human as she was ghost. Already halfway there to supporting what he was.

"So, I call bullshit," Jazz finished, quietly, but with more certainty than he had ever heard from her. "I really don't think we need to learn how to grow up, I think they need to learn how to be kids again."

(He had never compared himself to glass before, but at this very moment he felt two seconds away from shattering).


A/N: Sorry it's short, but I decided to make this a solid 5-chapter story instead of 4. There will be one more chapter that contains the conclusion/confrontation and possibly an epilogue.

Tell me what you liked / didn't like! How do you think this is going to end? The Fenton parents are kind of desperate right now.

IMPORTANT: This is now a separate story. This is the 4th chapter out of 5 and I will be posting the ending on the separate story.