what happened the first time Wes tried to crack open the Danny is Phantom conspiracy did he like, confront Danny first or was it all behind his back like, maybe hoping ground zero would be lost among the gossip and that Danny wouldn't find out who spilled the beans once everyone knew
I mean it obviously wouldn't work because nobody believed him and the gossip didn't take off very far beyond a few people talking about Wes being kinda weird
I should absolutely write a fic about this.
I am absolutely going to write a fic about this.
I AM RIGHT NOW GOING TO WRITE A FIC ABOUT THIS.
"Hey Fenton! Fenton!!" Dash came bounding over and threw a meaty arm around his shoulder.
"Jesus Dash! What?!" Danny buckled under the weight (pretended to anyway) as Dash gave him a surprisingly lighthearted punch on the arm.
"You haven't heard?! Wes has this total batshit insane theory, it's hilarious!"
Dash was in a genuine giggle-fit, Danny didn't think he'd ever seen him this merry, he was also starting to suspect he was going to leave this conversation being the butt of the joke somehow. Wait-
"Wes? Who the heck is Wes?" Danny asked, it wasn't like he knew everyone in school, like Dash seemed to.
"He's on the basketball team, you know, tall guy, red hair, threw a sick move at least month's game! You know, WES!"
"I didn't watch that game."
"Oh," said Dash, flatly, "Oh yeah, almost forgot you're a total nerd. Anyway, like I was saying!"
Dash grabbed Danny by the shoulders and nearly lifted him off the floor.
"Wes thinks," he could barely speak through his giggling, he even snorted a few times, "Wes thinks your secretly PHANTOM."
Dash dropped Danny back down as he doubled over laughing.
"Could you imagine?! You! You're not even DEAD!" Dash honest to god slapped his knee in mirth.
Danny went through an incredibly swift array of emotions in the span of about five seconds.
The first was fear, clear and bracing, then came confusion, how did he know? Had he seen something? Then there was hope, Dash didn't believe it, and if DASH didn't believe it, maybe nobody else believed it either. Then relief, he could roll with this, he could TOTALLY roll with this! Dash was right! It was absurd, it was ridiculous, it was hilarious, him being Phantom? What utter nonsense!
Sam and Tucker had been standing by his side at a Dash-safe distance, looking absolutely horrified. Sam looked ready to jump in and lay down a swift defence, but Danny gave a quick little low wave for her to stand down. He got this.
"Oh my god SERIOUSLY?" Danny busted out a slightly hysterical laugh, okay so he wasn't completely over the initial terrified anxiety.
"How could I- I mean what- WHY does he think I'M Phantom?! I mean how does that even work I don't-"
Dash clapped him on the shoulder, this was probably the most contact he'd ever had with him without being physically assaulted.
"I know right?! Like apparently he thinks you look alike? And he's all like 'But I've seen his eyes glow green' and 'they're never in the same roo-hoo-hoom." Dash wheezed and started hacking and coughing.
Danny carefully constructed a look of offence.
"Hey I mean, it's not THAT funny. Why couldn't I be Phantom! I know how to use a Fenton Thermos! Look I even HAVE one right-" he torn open his backpack and pulled one out, making sure to fumble it in a terrific display of fuck-uppery and drop it noisily on the cafeteria floor, he dropped to his knees trying to grab it but knocked it under a table.
A few girls standing nearby who'd been listening in started tittering, one of the guys sitting at the table snorted milk through his nose and Dash was just about on the floor in hysterics.
Even Sam and Tucker covered their mouths in an attempt to look like they were holding in laughter. Tucker muttered to Sam, just loud enough for people around to hear.
"I mean, he's our friend and we love him, but god that was painful to watch. He knows he's terrible at ghost hunting! He's got like, nothing but thumbs."
Danny climbed under the table, grabbed at the thermos and lifted it up as he crawled back out.
"See! See! I have a thermos! I could TOTALLY be Phantom!"
Sam walked over and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "It's okay bud, I think you'd be a great Phantom." her voice was thick with her usual sarcasm, soaked in pity though it were.
Danny's ears burned in embarrassment, he might have been humiliating himself on purpose, but it was still humiliating, watching everyone laugh at him for being so weak and incompetent. He was grateful to his friends for pushing through their discomfort and keeping up the act, it was still painful, but it came with a wash of pure unadulterated relief.
Nobody believed this Wes guy, nobody thought it could be even remotely possible. People would talk about it for a little while, have a laugh, maybe there would be a few memes and in-jokes, but eventually it would drop off. People would forget all about it and it would be just another notch on the gossip mill belt.
Even if someone DID believe it, they could never admit it for fear of vicious ridicule, for once in his life peer pressure was his friend.
And then Wes walked in.
Once Danny saw him he realised that he did recognise Wes, he'd seen him hanging around Kwan a few times, and chatting with Star, he was also in Danny's english class. That was about as familiar as he got with the guy, they'd never spoken a word to each other.
Wes had a terrifying expression of seething fury ripping across his face. He was glaring at Dash.
"It's NOT. FUNNY."
Dash was completely unable to stand, it was honestly overkill, Danny almost thought he was hamming it up on purpose, but maybe not, his face was turning an alarming shade of red after all.
"Wes don-" Dash gasped. "Don't do this to me man, I can't brea-" Dash was gasping for air, trying desperately to hold down the giggles.
Danny could almost see steam rising as Wes seethed. Then suddenly that furious stare was shooting daggers straight at him. Danny shrank into himself, looking as small and helpless as he possibly could.
"Uh hey Wes, um, I've heard the news." he joked tacking on a nervous laugh for emphasis. "Uh, soooo," he tossed the thermos from hand to hand, nearly dropping it again. "Is this like, just a joke or do you really-?"
Dash continued to wheeze, Kwan was holding him up by the arm, muttering about getting some water to cool off.
Wes strode over until he and Danny were face to face, he was taller by a good couple inches, even more so with Danny making a conscious effort to appear small.
Wes jabbed a sharp finger into his collarbone.
"Don't think I'm fooled by this pathetic act you've got going on, I am ONTO you, Phantom." he spat.
Danny glanced sidelong at the table beside him, silently begging for assistance, they only watched in silence, strained faces trying not to laugh. A glance the other way to his friends, they simply shrugged.
"Um, okaaay," Danny started backing away slowly. "Uh look Wes I am honestly really flattered but, do we really look that alike?" Danny ran a hand through his hair and then pointed up at Wes. "I mean we BOTH kinda have Phantom's haircut."
Sam deadpanned from the sidelines, "Maybe they're BOTH Phantom."
"We should start marketing that haircut." Tucker muttered to himself, tapping something on his tablet. "We could make a fortune, are you any good at hairdressing?"
Sam shot him a look of disgust and did not dignify the question with a response.
"Don't play dumb you two," said Wes, flipping his focus, "You're definitely in on this!"
The entire cafeteria was awash with giggles by this point. Just about everyone had heard about Wes' theory, but were mostly convinced it was some kinda joke. Now? Now they knew Wes was straight up fucking delusional.
He glanced around as people laughed, at him. At HIM.
"It's not funny!" he yelled over the crowed, the tittering increased in volume. Someone across the room yelled-
"Hey if I get the haircut, can I be Phantom too?"
One of the goths stood up on her seat.
"I've GOT the haircut! Mom says it's MY TURN to be the Phantom!"
There was a fresh round of mirthful laughter, some kids wheezing as hard as Dash had been. Another few kids piped up above the cacophony, throwing jokes of their own.
"I've got a soup thermos so I'm Phantom now, sorry sweaty I don't make the rules."
"If I wear a Phantom shirt does that make me Phantom ALL the time or am I only Phantom when I'm wearing it?"
"I have an ass, Phantom has an ass. Conclusion: I am Phantom's ass."
"Tag yourself I'm the thermos."
"DO THE BUTTS MATCH?"
Wes had been trying to scream over the din, infuriated, desperate to find SOMEONE who would listen.
Danny gave him a pat on the back.
"Hey, if it makes you feel any better, The Guys in White once hunted some guy down because he had white hair, if a government agency can fuck that up then-"
Wes slugged him.
It wasn't a particularly solid punch like Dash's hits, it was quick and precise, Was wasn't a brawny guy, but he was lean and fast and had good aim.
Danny whuffed out a heavy breath as Wes' fist collided with his sternum and he collapsed to the floor.
Everyone in the cafeteria lost their shit, a few people screamed and one table of football jocks all stood up chanting, "FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT."
Tucker ran over to him as Sam stepped up and without hesitation slammed a fist straight into Wes' nose.
The footballers lost their minds, one of the goths stood up on their table screaming "REPRESEEENT!!"
Wes backed up immediately, crying out from the sharp pain blossoming across his face, he'd never been hit before and couldn't pull his thoughts together quick enough to throw a punch back at her, so he was taken by surprise once again as Sam placed a solid roundhouse kick to his stomach.
He had certainly not been expecting that kind of brute strength from her, she had incapacitated him swiftly and effectively, barely having broken a sweat.
One of his teammates hollered over the crowd and came barrelling down on the goth, she dodged without batting an eye and darted nimbly out of the way, giving the guy a quick kick in the pants to throw him off balance as she rocketed for the cafeteria door.
As Wes took a deep breath through his mouth, his nose dripping blood, he realised that Danny and Tucker were gone. The fight had lasted only seconds but Sam had run distraction well enough for the boys to take off without anyone noticing, a glance around showed Tucker supporting Danny about to exit through the cafeteria doors.
The doors opened to an out of breath Mr Lancer on the other side.
The lines between Fenton and Phantom have long since blurred. And it’s a common occurrence for news reporters to trip over their tongue when flagging him down, mid-transformation, for a post-fight interview. “Phanton.” “Fentom.” So often that, to most now, he is just Danny.
When Danny wants upgrades to his gear, he comes to his mother. When Danny learns a quirky new element of Ghost Zone lore, he brings it to his father. When the Amity Park Ghost Alarm is raised, he’s first on the scene with the Fenton RV right on his non-corporeal heels.
When he’s injured, Danny comes only to his friends and sister.
Jazz notices the pattern. How it is only her, or only Sam, or only Tucker who receives the late-night knock at the window glass, with her brother on the other side, corny sheepish smile on display and arm or leg or shoulder held up in explanation.
Jazz notices how hushed Danny remains, day or night, when he comes to her for first aid. How he speaks in that same hesitant muted tone as he did when all of this was still a secret. How he quiets himself in the way injured prey animals do.
Jazz doesn’t feel it’s her place to ask. Not yet, at least. Eventually. But not yet.
The window is open. Honeysuckle-sweet gusts of late-spring air swirl through Jazz’s room and tease away the sheen of sweat that has collected on her brow. She cannot wipe it away herself, not with both hands meticulously occupied in tweezering out the singed fabric from her brother’s arm.
Danny winces, and hisses, and Jazz frees another thread from its embedded hold in Danny’s burn wound.
“It’s kind of like… summer vacation when we were kids and we’d get splinters visiting Aunt Alicia’s lake house,” Jazz remarks with another careful tug. “…If we can call it a lake house.”
“Lake shed,” Danny replies, grinning through the sweat shining on his pale face. “And I think every part of that dock was an OSHA violation.” He laughs through another wince.
“Dad was the king of tweezers. I think he got out every splinter that dock ever gave me.” Jazz pauses. “I wonder why that was. Think it’s the needlepoint?”
“It’s definitely the needlepoint,” Danny agrees.
Jazz hesitates on the question lingering behind her tongue. Just a little too long. Just a little too obviously.
“What?” Danny asks.
Jazz’s hand falters. She puts the tweezers down. “Danny, I will always always be happy to help you like this. Same goes for Sam, same goes for Tucker, I know. I’m positive. But I wonder why… not Mom or Dad?” Jazz eyes the tweezers, glinting in the moonlight. “I’m just… I’m thinking how much cleaner this might be if you got Dad to do it. And Mom’s got like, wilderness survival level first aid expertise. I can’t help thinking I’m hurting you more by it being… me, you know?”
Danny looks at her, and looks past her a moment. His grin slips a fraction into discomfort as his eyes leave hers. “Maybe I just like the excuse to invade your room.”
“Danny…” Jazz waits until he looks at her again. “Are you afraid they’ll make you stop if they realize you’re getting injured?”
Danny lets out a puff of air from behind his lips. “No, never. I mean, maybe if I got really really injured they’d say something. But just getting a little roughed up? I think it’s about on par with a kid coming home from football practice with a few scrapes, at least, in their eyes. They get more banged up than me these days. I’m not worried.”
Jazz reaches for the bottle of disinfectant. She unscrews the cap to a biting alcohol smell. “…So will you tell me why?”
“Why you won’t ever go to them with injuries? Ever?”
Cotton swab, pure silver under the moonlight. Jazz douses it gently, a muted glug-glug from the bottle.
“…I’m that obvious about it, huh?”
“You’re obvious about most things. This’ll be cold.” Jazz applies the swab to the open wound, and Danny hisses in turn.
“Yeah. Cold. And stingy. Cold and stingy.” After a few seconds, the tension eases out of Danny’s body. He droops a little, shoulders slumped, and Jazz pulls the cotton swab away.
“Are you ashamed of your injuries?”
“Are you worried Mom and Dad’ll make them worse?”
“Nah. You said it yourself, those two are weird, unconventional medical experts.”
“Then why not?”
A beat of silence follows. A moment of trepidation. Awash in moonlight, Danny looks up at her, and the glow in his green eyes has a life of its own. “I don’t want them to see the injuries that have already healed.”
“Why would that be a problem?” Jazz looks again. Danny’s suit covers most everything, save now for the one sleeve that’s been rolled back. She sees what she already knew was there – what isn’t obvious to the eye not searching – threads of white ridges, puckers of skin, a faded rashy texture of what had once been an ectoblast burn. Old injuries. Long healed. Faded and fading further. “Those are all healed now. Just some scars, right…?”
“I don’t want them to figure out how many of those scars they caused.”
A gust of wind steals the antiseptic smell from the room. Jazz sits with the silence. She thinks, and she processes.
Danny straightens. “They kind of… live in this world where hunting ghosts is all fun and games, you know? Like it’s a sport, like they can just get into go-mode and jump into the fun. I don’t think they’ve figured out yet that they can—could—did …cause damage.”
Danny adjusts himself on Jazz’s bed, one leg pulled up, body angled to face her directly. He doesn’t let his eye contact wander now. “They both apologized. Definitely. Like that definitely happened, back at the start of this. But it was kind of like ‘We must’ve given you so much trouble Danny! How’d you come home every day and not bite our heads off over that?’ Like. Again. Like it’s a game. Like they’d been knocking my chess pieces over for a year and not—”
Danny falters. He raises his uninjured arm and tucks the hair away from his face. “And I don’t… want it to click for them. What I have right now with Mom and Dad is so nice… It’s so much better than I even imagined. I want it to stay like this. Forever, if possible.”
“And even that actually—maybe I’m actually wrong about that. Completely wrong. About their reaction, I mean. It’s possible maybe they’d see everything and just go,” Danny deepens his voice, “‘Wow! We did a number on you, huh? Man Danny I don’t know how you didn’t just smack us over the breakfast table every morning.’ you know? Like that. Like this was all just always a game. And they—and I-- …I like how relaxed ghost hunting is with them. I actually like that it feels like a game. I don’t ever want to go back to feeling how scared and afraid and unsafe and hurt I was that first year. ...But I’m afraid of how it would feel to know that maybe they’d see that, look at it all, everything they did and the scars like the actual proof and it—if it wouldn't ever be real to them. If they'd never get that it was like that. If they still wouldn’t realize—you know? That they—if they—I don’t uh…” Danny drops his eyes, and he shrinks in on himself. “I don’t know how to explain it…”
“No I—Danny I know what you’re saying. Don’t worry. Danny, I—”
“Either answer. Any answer. I don’t want to know… I don’t actually want to know.” Danny angles himself away again, feet dropped over the side of Jazz’s bed, staring down at the hands in his lap. “If it would horrify them, then I’d be ruining all the good things I have with them right now. And if it wouldn’t horrify them—” Danny falls quiet. The breeze has stilled. The room is colder now. “…then I think I just don’t ever want to know.”
Jazz nods, and nods harder.
“I get it. I get it. That’s a good enough answer for me, Danny, I promise. I’m your first aid person, okay? I won’t ask again. Thanks for… thanks for telling me, Danny.”
"Can always trust you to bring up the difficult conversations huh? Of course that's always been your thing. Talking to you is--well I'd say it's like pulling teeth, but maybe it's more like pulling ecto-demolished hazmat suit fabric out of a burn wound."
Danny offers a sheepish grin - it's an olive branch, a request to lighten the mood. Jazz meets it with her own small grin that does not touch her eyes.
"Yeah yeah, I'm your older sister. It's my job to be a pain. Now sit still, I need to be more of a pain if we're gonna de-hazmat suit your injury."
She picks the tweezers back up. The silence rings with an echo in her head now. Jazz focuses her attention back on her task, and she finds something she was wrong about before:
There is nothing faded about the scars that web up and down her little brother’s arm. They are stark streaks of lightning, glowing silver under the moonlight. And Jazz wonders how many others—how many that flaked away and melded back with healthy skin—how many of those might still be living, lingering, a permanent part of her little brother, buried well beneath the surface…
Young Justice: Deathly Weapons by @threewaysdivided
I’ve always liked storyboarding some of my favorite scenes from fanfictions I enjoy; there’s just something about the expressiveness and movement seen in storyboards that I feel really helps convey the emotion of the characters. And let me tell you, this story has
of that (how dare you make me feel this strongly for these idiotic boys 😂)
For the first board, I drew a scene from Ch02 (I had to include an action-filled scene haha). I took some liberties with Spectra’s character design and gave her a really wide mouth, since she’s always feeding and feeding from other people’s pain and never satisfied. The next board is more in anticipation for the future interactions between Danny, Wally, and Robin; I for one am looking forward to seeing what mess these three will get themselves into 😈
Seriously guys, go read this fic: the pacing and characterization are fantastic, and the amount of consideration and research that the author puts into the plot and character development is amazing. Plus, if you like theorizing and finding “clues” that hint towards the plot, this fic has plenty of breadcrumbs that will leave you hooked. Also, make sure you have tissues on hand.
Danny leaned back against the red brick chimney of the Casper High roof, and he looked across the stretch of land rolling far off from the building top. For a place so off-limits, so hidden-away from the normal bustle of the school, the view really wasn’t anything special. Sure, the school was decently tall, but it overlooked the staff parking lot, and the empty Casper High tennis courts, and the back of a strip mall two blocks over with the recently-haunted laundromat.
Not that it mattered. It took more than tall-building-views to impress Danny anyway, even the nice ones. And he wasn’t up here for the view.
Danny let his eyes drift shut.
“Sup loner, room for one more?”
Danny startled, and it wasn’t Sam’s voice specifically that startled him. (He’d grown used to her bursting from his Fenton Phone earpiece during most nightly patrols.) He’d just lulled himself a bit too comfortably into the idea that no other human could follow him to the top of the locked rooftop of the Casper High building.
“Did I just surprise a ghost?” Sam asked. “Should I do it again with a ‘boo’?”
“Haha,” Danny answered with a fake chuckle. He blinked himself back to prickly awareness, drowsiness batted away like dust bunnies, and stared up at Sam. “I’m not surprised. I just wasn’t expecting anyone else to be on the roof. How did you even—”
Sam was a few steps ahead of him. In explanation, she waggled the Fenton-branded grappling hook gripped in hand.
Danny leaned back with a faux-exasperated sigh. “Since when do you even have a grappling hook?”
“Since I told your mom it would be a wildly cool line of gear to add to the Fenton brand.”
“Does this mean my mom now has a grappling hook too?”
“Yes. And your dad. And Jazz. And Tucker.”
“Great. When I go home and all the ceiling fans are torn down I’ll know why.”
A gentle silence lapsed over them, punctuated with the swell of fall wind.
“So…” Sam continued. “Can I sit here?”
“Huh?” Danny looked at her, anchoring his drifting thoughts once more. “Oh, yeah. I thought the ‘yeah’ was implied.” Danny shuffled a bit to the side, back still resting against the chimney. He patted the spot he cleared. “What am I gonna tell you? No?”
“Just making sure.” Sam stowed the grappling hook to the side of her belt and settled into the spot beside Danny, feet outstretched. “In case maybe you wanted some alone time.”
“’Alone time’ isn’t really something I get anymore. I’ve had about a hundred-too-many ghosts crash through my bedroom for that.”
“So why the roof?”
“Roof is more for uh…” Danny twirled his hand, “‘less adoring crowds’ time. ‘Less classmates ogling me’ time. You can stay so long as you don’t ask me to sign anything.”
“I was never interested in the parasocial or capitalistic value of celebrity signatures. Besides, you cross your ‘t’s weird.”
Danny replied with a half-hearted chuckle. His line of sight drifted into the middle-distance again, unfocused.
“Is it getting to be too much?” Sam asked.
“Hmm?” Danny answered, eyes shifting back to her.
Sam gestured broadly, hands and arms outstretched. “You know just. All this. Everything.”
Another small silence grew from the cracks in the concrete between them.
“Paulina and Star are looking for you. You know that, right?”
“Oh, are they?”
“Danny. You knew that.”
“…And you’re not interested in seeing what they want?”
“I figure Tucker is keeping them busy.”
“You’re unfortunately right.”
“Phantom Phacts.” Sam nodded. “I made him promise to leave out any embarrassing trivia from the trivia section.”
“Thanks for that,” Danny answered. “Is his presentation any good?”
“You think I’ve ever stuck around to hear it?”
Sam pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs and set her chin to her knees, staring forward.
“You’re really not interested in sitting with Star and Paulina for lunch?”
“Not really. Why? Is that bad?”
“No, it’s absolutely great. But I’m…” Sam shrugged, “surprised, I guess. I feel like usually you’d jump at the opportunity. And I kinda don’t think you’re refusing because you’ve suddenly recognized the banality of A-lister status.”
“Maybe that is what happened, you don’t know that. Down with capitalism, Sam.”
“Danny.” Sam tilted a fraction to face him. “I’m worried that this is all too much for you, and you just won’t admit it.”
Danny sat with the silence that followed. “I don’t think it’s too much. I’m just—I dunno. I mean. I’m just not feeling it.”
“…You can admit if it’s overwhelming, Danny. I’ll be the first to shut down ‘Phantom Phacts’ if it is.”
“Nah, nah let Tucker have his fun. He’s not the problem. It’s… I dunno.” Danny pushed himself taller against the chimney, upright now and unslumped. “It’s a little bit overwhelming, I guess, maybe. But it’s kind of what I expected. Maybe even a little easier than I was expecting. I thought I’d be dealing with a lot of Phantom-hate once everyone knew but, I guess that kind of died down a long time before everyone knew.”
“Valerie holding you at gunpoint in the cafeteria wasn’t Phantom-hate?”
“We’ve had a lot of good talks since then, okay?”
Sam let out a quiet laugh. “So then… why aren’t you sitting with the popular kids right now?”
“I just didn’t want to, I guess?”
“And why didn’t you want to?”
“It just didn’t really feel right.”
“Is it because of me?” Sam asked, another side-long glance cast to Danny. “Because you can sit with them. I’ll still make fun of you if you do, but you don’t have to… not sit with them because of me.”
“What? Huh—no. Nah, nah I mean I do care what you think Sam. But I mean if I wanted to be sitting with them then I would so. I mean. You don’t have to worry that it’s you.”
“So then what is it?”
Danny took a moment to answer.
“It’s just… it’s a feeling. I dunno. Like.” Danny spread his arms out. “The invitation is wrong? Or the invitation isn’t actually for me?”
“…The invitation is for Phantom instead?”
Pensive indecision set into Danny’s eyes. “That’s not totally it. Because I mean I AM Phantom. I’m not not me when I’m Phantom. Maybe I trash-talk a little more in ghost form but I’m not… not me. That’s still just me. You know that.”
“Right, yeah, no Danny. It just sounded like that’s what you were saying.” Sam let her legs slide out a few inches. “So what are you saying?”
Danny sat with the question. “When the news first picked up on Phantom, way back when—Inviso-Bill?—that wasn’t really anyone, you know? They made up some spooky icon to make the news about. Which was just like, whatever, not me. I didn’t even take ‘Inviso-Bill’ too personally because that just wasn’t me. And even when I stopped being an enemy and started actually being ‘Danny Phantom’… no one actually got it right, you know? They kind of came up with a character for me. Just some hero. I listen to the news and how they talk about me and I think, even now, I think ‘That isn’t me.’”
Danny pulled his knees in, a mirror to Sam, and stared down into his tattered jean fabric. “And when everyone learned I’m Phantom I guess I kind of expected them to be like ‘Oh it’s Fenton’ and then that fake version of Phantom would go away.” Danny raised his eyes to Sam, far more bothered than before. “…I think the opposite happened. They don’t look at Phantom and think ‘oh it’s Fenton’. They look at Fenton and think ‘oh it’s Phantom.’ I think Danny Fenton got put away. I think the person I was for 14 years doesn’t exist to them anymore. Whoever they invited to lunch isn’t me. He doesn’t exist. But I’m suddenly responsible for him. And it’s not even me.”
Danny paused. “And now I’ve been wondering like… how long until I disappoint them? You know? How long until I do something that makes them angry because I’m not doing the thing they expect ‘Phantom’ to do? How long until they start seeing there’s too much ‘Fenton’ in me and they start to hate me for it all over again? For them to really like me, I don’t think I can be me, and I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to be someone who doesn’t just disappoint everyone in the end.”
A long gust of wind swept between them, stealing away the seconds.
“…So now you’re hiding on the roof.”
“It was the easiest solution to my problem.”
“But not a lasting one, if you ever want to get down.” The wind settled, and Sam swept a lock of hair behind her ear. “…Do you care if you disappoint them?”
Danny shrugged. “I. Yeah. I think. I don’t—I don’t think I totally know for certain, but I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”
“Well, you’re not going to disappoint me, or Jazz, or Tucker—and if Tucker does act disappointed over any lost Phantom Phacts ventures I’ll whap him over the head. But I mean, we know who you are. We’re not going to be disappointed realizing you’re not ‘Phantom.’ The worst you can do is land right back where you started.”
“And what if I started acting like ‘Phantom’ instead. Would that disappoint you guys?”
“Do you want to act like ‘Phantom’?”
Danny paused. “…No. Not at all.”
“Then don’t. It’s that simple.” Sam stood, and she stretched until her back popped. “It’s not your responsibility to uphold whatever delusions people project onto you. I won’t hesitate to call them out on it. You know I’m good at being direct, and you know I’m even better at making enemies.”
“I don’t wanna be mean to them though when they’re finally being nice.”
“They’re not being nice, they’re projecting. If their niceness to you is conditional on you fitting to the box they created for you, that’s not nice, that’s manipulation, and it’s exactly the root of my ever-frothing disdain for popularity. It’s always some element about popular people that people latch on to, and they can fit the box that people give them, or they can reject it and find themselves wallowing amongst us outcasts. Don’t do that to yourself, Danny. Don’t live in their chains.” Sam tilted her head to Danny. “You spend all day trapping ghosts into tight little boxes and you can’t even recognize when it’s happening to you. I think you’d be better at spotting this.”
“It’s a cylinder, really. The thermos. It’s a cylinder. And don’t say ‘box’ so much. You might summon company.”
“You just said ‘box’ though.”
“I did say ‘box’.”
Sam laughed, noise trailing light on her lips. “…Feeling any better?”
“A little, I think… I still… I still think I... it's not as easy to just say 'I don't care if I disappoint them.' It's still scary. I don’t want to end up proving them right that they were right to hate me all along.”
“Are the opinions of Dash Baxter really the ones to be holding on a pedestal? Is his opinion of you really more important than what you think of yourself? You’ve been through this with the A-listers already. Don’t torture yourself again just because the door is wide open. I promise you Danny, it won’t make you happy.”
“So I should just do whatever makes me happy?”
“Every time.” Sam nodded.
"Even if I'm a total disappointing loser?"
"All the better."
"Even if I blow any chance I have with Paulina out the window?"
“Wouldn't have it any other way. Got any idea what you intend to say to her when she finds you?”
Danny paused. He pushed himself standing. “Maybe I could talk her ear off about NASA until she gets bored of me?”
“Excellent. Can I join? I have a lot to say about SpaceX and private capital encroaching on space exploration.”
“Does that apply to me? I’ve been to space. Am I private capital?”
“You’re not private capital.”
“Then what am I?”
“Annoying.” Sam locked arms with Danny, and dragged him along forward, her combat boots clunking against the rooftop. “And my friend. Come on. I’ll brief you on everything wrong with privately-owned space exploration while we’re rappelling down the side of the building with my sick and cool as hell grappling hook.”
“I can fly.”
“And I have a sick grappling hook. What’s your point.”
“It’s probably called a ‘Fenton Hook.’”
“Is that a Phantom Phact?”
Danny shook his head, and a smile pulled on his lips. “Nah. I think it’s a Fenton Fact.”
you want me to give you fic recommendations??🥺 for some reason I don’t feel i’m qualified, but thanks, i’m flattered.
anyway, here are some of my favorite fics and some phandom classics ;)
Phantom of Truth by HaiJu
a classic among fans. if you are looking for some really heavy angst, this is the fic for you.
A Snapping Sound by Represent
this is a horror/murder mystery au of the show. also pretty popular among fans.
Things I Can(not) Do in Amity Park by ReadHeadsRock1010
pretty funny fic where danny is a senior and doesn’t care about his secret identity anymore, so he tests the limit of Amity Park’s ignorance.
Speak To Me by Miss_Nihilist
reveal fic where danny is stuck speaking ghost speak.
Everything Was White by @lexosaurus
you want more modern angst? don’t worry i got you. in this fic, danny is exposed to the public and is taken by the GIW and now he has to deal with the aftermath. (lexx has some awesome fics. you should definitely check em out)
Mortified by @five-rivers
pretty long gen fic for you to binge. if you like clockwork being a dad to danny, this is the fic for you. (marsalias is also an amazing writer. please check her fics, they’re always putting new stuff. another good fic by them is Flower/Moon/Corruption/Gloves)
What Means the Most by @feralhalfghost
a twist on kindred spirits. one of my favorite identity reveals out there.
Double Standard by @mystyrust
valerie centric fic! valerie is left with a lot of questions after the events of d-stabilized and the only person that could probably answer them is phantom (mysty has some hilarious social media fics too)
Threads of Time by ZombieRed
maddie centric reveal fic. maddie is trapped on a time loop and has to figure out the way get out of it
Easy Target by gallavichsecurity
dash centric fic! dash knows something weird is going on with fenton and tries to get to the bottom of it.
Magnetized by @imekitty
maddie wants to experiment on her son. just your good ol dissection fic (they have amazing fics! another well know fic by them is Planned. you should definitely give their stuff a look)
Mortality Salience by Alexa_Piper
danny and valerie get stuck together
@realghostboy by @dotsz
hilarious social media fic. perfect if you want some good laughs.
Unveiled by @darks-ink
jack centric! jack finds himself in vlad’s secret lab and discovers a lot of things while looking around (DarkNymfa is an amazing writer and has a lot of dp fics for you to check. some other fics i like from them are Glow Sticks and Grounded)
Danny Phantom’s House of Horror by Browa123
danny convinces his parents to let him open a haunted house for halloween and they make him promise no real ghost would be involved. halfas aren’t exactly real ghost though. (another fic i like from the same author is Self-Defense)
A Little Off Point by @wastefulreverie
maddie and jack mistakenly jump to conclusion that their son is a vampire after noticing the oddities that surround him. (rev has some really good dp fics that you should definitely check out. one that i like a lot is Speak to Me)
The Curious Case of Danny Fenton by @ladylynse
you like wes weston? then you are in luck, because here’s a really good wes centric fic (i feel like i’m repeating myself, but please go check the rest of their work. one of my favorites is Complications)
was this an excuse to shoutout my favorite writers? yes
(So, I like this thing y’all are doing to save Flynn from Hartman’s hands)
Danny knew very little about his Aunt Alicia.
In his memories, she was a gruff and bitter woman, tall like an obelisk, sturdy like his mother was, and unyieldingly cold like his mother wasn’t. She was calloused in the hands, and the elbow, and the heart, and carried an earthy stench like hay and rainfall that reminded Danny too much of the one time he got lost in the woods. It was her face he remembered best, because in every young memory of his, her face was cast into a scowl of disgust that she seemed to reserve solely for his company.
Danny knew very little about his aunt – except that she hated him.
He kept this almost exclusively to himself, and internalized it the way that young children do – with the paralyzing fear that his aunt knew something despicable about him that Danny did not. He had tried just once to ask his mom why Aunt Alicia hated him, and his mother had waved and laughed. ‘That’s silly!’, she’d said, and she’d said it with such wide probing eyes, such a waver in her smile, that Danny understood she too must know the Despicable Thing about him.
Danny was 8 when he’d last seen his Aunt Alicia. The years since then had left his memories to bury and rot and grow brittle, like autumn leaves long sogged under snow, then dried in the spring sun, left as spider-webbed skeletons that crumbled at the touch. By the time he was 14, these memories were little more than a wisp.
By the time he was 14, Danny had new Despicable Things about himself to learn, the kind which well-overshadowed any old and forgotten memories. He knew now that he was a Freak, and a Loser, and a Cheat, and a Menace, and the Bringer of the World’s End, were he not careful.
At 14, when Danny saw his Aunt again, he’d long since forgotten that she was a thing for him to fear.
He was only staying the night, after a convoluted stunt from Jack left him, Jazz, and his parents all but stranded at Alicia’s until daybreak would allow them to wander the roads back into town and catch a bus back to civilization.
So Danny passed the evening the best he could – seated in one of Aunt Alicia’s rocking chairs, breathing in the cool earthy late-spring air, listening to cicadas and the strain and squeak of the rocker as he pressed his toes into the porch. He fixed his eyes to the clear night sky. The stars were so much clearer out here.
To his left, Alicia occupied the other chair, fingers busied with a knife that she whittled meticulously along the splintered edges of a block of wood.
“How old are you now?”
Danny startled at the address, and found his eyes had slipped shut. When had his eyes slipped shut? He blinked them to the sky, and glanced to the left. Alicia was staring at him.
“Oh, uh. 14 now.”
“Mmm,” Alicia answered. Knife point dug deeper into wood. “…Maddie’s got that portal of hers working, I’ve heard. Is that so?”
“Yeah. Oh. Uh-huh. Yeah her and dad. Their ghost portal—probably like—four months now, maybe? I uh, I don’t really know. I don’t uh… interact with it much.”
“…Have they been inside it?”
“Uh, no? I don’t think so.”
“Do they plan to?”
“Maybe. Uh. Probably. The specter speeder – it’s like this RV… space ship… thing… for going in the ghost zone. It’s something they built. So yeah uh, I guess, they probably do.”
Alicia lapsed silent. Her hands had stilled.
“Have you been inside?”
Danny tipped a little too far back in the rocking chair, and he felt it bottom out behind him. He wasn’t sure if the bottoming-out in his stomach was the chair, or the question – not that it mattered – since Danny responded only with a yelp and a pinwheeling of his arms. He was saved only by Alicia’s quick reflex, springing up and seizing the arm of the chair with her left hand – whittled bit of wood dropped to the porch.
“Thanks,” Danny breathed. And he looked up at his aunt.
And he remembered with an icy rush every single reason his 8 year old self had to be terrified.
Face cast deep into shadow from the porch lights behind her, Alicia’s bright green eyes watched him. Pinning, thin and probing, aggressively predatory in a way that reminded Danny all too much of ghost beasts. Her lip was curled up, exposing a few missing teeth, set upon that scowl that flashed through a dozen memories racing back to his mind. It was an expression that seemed intimately aware of every Despicable Thing there was to Danny. And with the tiniest flicker of his eyes, Danny focused on the whittling knife in her hand. Brandished.
Panic doused him, lit his every nerve on fire, and Danny fumbled for escape. He crashed down to the porch with a yelp, and his head cracked hard on the wood. Danny hissed, hand pressed to his head, and looked back up.
Alicia had backed off, surprise overtaking her hardened features. None of that flash of malice showed. The light fell normally on her, painting a slight gauntness to her face, but the arched brows, the parted mouth, and the startled eyes contained not a hint of danger. She glanced to the whittling knife in her hand, and dropped it on the porch, and raised both her hands palm-up.
“S-sorry! I startled you, huh? Just trying to catch the—” Alicia lost her voice. She was staring back into Danny’s eyes, and confusion evolved into something caught between horror and revulsion.
Danny blinked, and realized his world was tinged in green. His fight-or-flight had activated, his body was pulsing with adrenaline and ectoplasm, and he felt it all too late in the shimmer of his eyes, doused green. The scary eyes. He blinked it away. The damage was done.
When the Fentons packed their things and left the next morning, very few words were exchanged between Danny and Alicia.
The Fentons set out to follow the single dirt road back to the center of town. Danny looked back, and watched Alicia grow small in the distance, her and the house both, left alone, sealed back into the nothing-ness and the no one-ness. Danny found himself shivering at the memory of the previous night, and wondering even why Alicia had chosen to join him on the porch in the first place.
Maddie and Jack chatted about idle nothings. Jazz had occupied herself in pocket-sized book she’d managed to stow along on the trip. Danny only stared forward, and said nothing, and walked.
Danny knew very little about his Aunt Alicia – except that she hated him.
Danny knew very little, except that now, she feared him too.
Danny sat on the memory, reshaping it, wondering how he must have looked from the other side. What did his glowing green eyes look like to those he pinned with his gaze? What did she know now? What did she suspect? What reason did she have to look so afraid?
The last question sat uneasily with him. Danny carried himself forward on legs all but numb, and wondered whether he was something worth being feared after all.
“Alright, who can tell me… what the first law of thermodynamics is?”
Danny smiled when a dozen hands went up. His fourth year as a teacher and he still managed to keep the students’ invested. Of course, he’d hardly expected to end up a teacher in the school he once hated, but there he stood, reviewing his students for the upcoming AP exam.
He picked out a student- one who had her hand up but rarely did so. “Amelia.”
“The… change in internal energy of a system equals the net heat transfer into the system plus the net work done on the system?”
“Correct!” Danny cheered, grabbing an expo marker and adding a point for the blue team. “Now who can tell me about the ideal gas law?”
No one even got the chance to put their hand up before the windows blew in, causing the students to scream and scramble back. Without hesitating, Danny walked over to a wall and pushed a bright green button on it. “Everyone, stay calm!” he ordered. “It’s just like the drills; everyone against the far wall! Crouch down, cover your neck! Did anyone get hit?”
A few voices whimpered out a “no,” and Danny relaxed slightly.
He tensed right back up when he heard screaming in the courtyard. Of course, a ghost would choose to attack during A Lunch, when there were students outside.
No. Hell no. He didn’t hesitate, letting the white rings pass over him as he ran to the window.
Danny tackled the ghost as he flew down, pinning him to the ground. Immediately, the ghost tried to phase through the ground, but Danny let a spurt of energy pass through his hands, electrocuting the ghost and preventing it from escaping. It was some sort of armored ghost, like someone from Dora’s kingdom had taken inspiration from Skulker. He seemed amazed that Danny was able to prevent him from turning intangible, so he tried again- only to end up with the same result.
“You really thought you could attack this school?” Danny growled. He raised his fist and punched the ghost in the face, denting the metal helmet. “You thought!? You could hurt!? My students!?” He punctuated each fragment with another punch. “How dare you attack my school!? How dare you endanger my students!?”
He flew a few inches into the air, just enough that he could hold the ghost up by the lapels. His voice lowered to a whisper as he growled. “Do you even know who I am? I’m Danny Phantom. I defeated Pariah fucking Dark when I was fourteen. Do you really want to find out what I can do twelve years later?”
The ghost shook its head quickly, completely at a loss for words.
“That’s what I thought.” Danny pulled the Fenton Thermos from his belt- now a permanent fixture of his costume- and turned it on, sucking the ghost inside. He capped the thermos and let out a heavy sigh, looking around the courtyard. No one was lying on the ground, but a few hid by the door with their cell phones out, cameras aimed at him.
He didn’t really care.
Danny flew back up to his classroom and started looking around at his students. “Is everyone okay?” he asked, going from student to student and checking them over for any injuries. All he got in response were nods and shocked faces. He let out a sigh of relief and returned to the front of the room.
Slowly, a hand went up. “Um… Mr. Fenton?”
Danny nodded and called on the boy. “Yes, Karan?”
Karan hesitated for a moment before the words came out. “What the fuck, Mr. Fenton?”
Jack stiffly continued his walk into the kitchen and, grabbing a stool next to Phantom, sat down and placed his gun on the counter. A black glove tapped against the stone somewhat debating. “ Why are you here spook?”
Phantom snorted, “ Protecting people, fighting ghosts…. The family business I suppose?”
Jack glared, “ You know that's not what I'm asking Phantom.”
Phantom’s green eyes dimmed and he hugged a knee to his chest. “You're asking why I exist?”
Jack looked to the teen tiredly, “I guess I am.”
Daniel winced, “ Is it wrong? To want to live for others? To do the right thing…?
Jack paused and stared up to Phantom questioningly, “ Odd choice of words. You know you're dead right?”
Daniel grimaced and snorted, “Am I really?” He chuckled bitterly, “ You know what? I think I’ve been dead inside for nearly two years now… Tell me da-Jack.” Daniel corrected and then continued, “ Am I really evil? Is my existence that big of a sin? What if I really wasn't a ghost? What if I was something more?”
Jack raised an eyebrow and stared into the counter. “ But you aren't. You're not alive. Living people can't do what you do. They'd die.You're the ghost of some poor kid that couldn't move on.”
Submitted by @phantomphangphucker: Danny Fenton seeming creepy, unnatural, predatory, etcetera to the general population of Amity Park. Or only seeming creepy, unnatural, predatory, etcetera to tourists, while Amity Park locals are confused by anyone finding Fenton ‘creepy/intimidating’.
Summary: Some mascots are great at pumping up a crowd. As Casper High's mascot, Danny has only one job: strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. This is the story of how Danny becomes the famed Mascot of Fear.
Word count: 9268
Tucker witnesses it first. His cousin from another state is visiting for the weekend and Danny comes over to hang out. Ozzy has met Danny before, a few times, so Tucker thinks they won't mind if Danny joins them for a little while. He arrives while Ozzy is in the bathroom, and Tucker gets a three-player game of the new Doomed: IV console game set up.
Danny lounges on a beanbag chair, leaving the couch to the Foley cousins. Clutching his controller, he plays with the controls, watching his character jump, roll, punch, and shoot, trying to get a feel for the different set up.
"I think they took out the high jump," Danny says. He spams the jump button while tapping various others across the controller, testing different combos.
"What?" Tucker lunges for the game case, taking out the pamphlet tucked inside the cover. He flips through, looking for the controls.
"Yeah, it doesn't seem to—oh damn that's fun."
"What? What?" Tucker scrambles up, throwing the pamphlet aside, and watches Danny's avatar leap into the air, then sprint forward.
"Air-dashing," Danny says with a grin.
"Sweet." The boys bump fists.
Danny, kneeling on his beanbag, keeps air-dashing across the screen, whipping the controller back and forth emphatically. The action does nothing to improve the gameplay, but at the same time, it just wouldn't be as enjoyable without it. Tucker lays upside down on the couch, hands braced on the floor, cheering Danny on. "Go, go, go!"
It's stupid and fun. They haven't even started playing the game yet, but this is the most they'll enjoy themselves all afternoon. And that's the scene Ozzy walks in on.
They remember Tucker's best friend, although they hadn't seen him since coming out. Ozzy's not sure what to expect from him, but it certainly isn't this. And by this they don't mean the raw enthusiasm for a simple game mechanic. They mean the shiver that crawls up their spine the second they lay eyes on Danny. They feel cold, like they've stepped in a bath of ice-water rather than their cousin's living room.
Danny turns his head toward Tucker and sees Ozzy standing in the doorway. Both of them freeze. Ozzy's heart beats fast and heavy in their chest. Their pupils dilate, stretching wide, and sweat beads on their forehead. They can't look away. If they do, then they're dead. If they let Danny out of their sight, they're dead.
Danny gaze slides away, back to the TV, and Ozzy can breathe again.
"Ozzy's here," Danny says.
"Oh!" Tucker's head swivels toward them. He hadn't noticed Ozzy and Danny's little staring contest. It had only lasted a second, but to Ozzy, it felt like an hour.
"Check it out!" Tucker says. He kicks off the back of the couch, flipping forward. His knees hit the carpet hard, making a loud thud, which earns him a shout from the dining room.
"Don't bother the neighbours!" Tucker's mom, Angela, says.
"Okay, Mom!" Tucker calls back, without much conviction in his voice. He beckons Ozzy forward and points to the TV. "They replaced the double jump with air-dashing! Which seems stupid at first, 'cause jumping forward isn't the same as jumping higher. But it looks like if you air-dash into something, you can climb up it!"
Tucker talks fast, making lots of vague gestures with his hands, not really looking at Ozzy. He grabs his own controller off the couch and swivels toward his cousin. "Here's how you do it."
Tucker looks up at Ozzy and pauses. "Hey," he says, tilting his head. "You okay?"
Ozzy is not okay, but they can't really explain it. Danny glances there way again, just for a second, and a shudder passes through them. Something about Danny is off, but Ozzy can't really explain it. He looks the exact same as he did the last time Ozzy saw him, even wearing the same damn t-shirt. But when Ozzy looks at him, and Danny looks back, their brain starts screaming not right, not right, NOT RIGHT!
"I'm, uh, I'm good, yeah," Ozzy says. They shuffle into the room, casting nervous glances Danny's way, and sit down on the couch, taking the farthest spot from Danny. Ozzy leans up against the armrest, taking the controller Tucker passes them, and looks forward. They think that, maybe, if they look ahead instead, if they just don't look at Danny, they won't feel so weird, and whatever this is will pass.
But oh, god, this is so much worse, because now they can't see Danny, and that makes their heart pound. An image of Danny suddenly lunging from his seat bursts into their mind and Ozzy stiffens. Hands tightening around the controller, they glance out of the corner of their eye.
Danny hasn't moved. Danny isn't even looking at them. It doesn't make them feel better.
"Seriously, are you good?" Tucker asks. He sits down to Ozzy's left, blocking their view of Danny.
"Let's just play," Ozzy says.
Tucker shrugs and starts the game. As they play, he keeps looking over at Ozzy, wondering why they're acting so strange. They were just fine half an hour ago, but now they're stiff, and kind of pale, and they keep looking away from the screen, even when they're in the middle of a fight. Ozzy's always been better than Tucker at Doomed, but today they're at the bottom of the scoreboard.
Tucker racks his brain, trying to come up with a reason for the strange behaviour. A bad phone call, maybe? Ozzy's mom has been in and out of the hospital for a while. He hopes it's not that. He wants to ask them what's wrong, but he doesn't want to push it. And they might not be comfortable talking about it with Danny there, either. So, Tucker decides to wait until they're alone.
His chance comes sooner than expected, when Danny says he has to go.
"Aw, really?" Tucker asks. He droops, shoulders slumping. "You've only been here an hour."
"Yeah." Danny nods. "I just remembered that physics assignment. I haven't finished yet."
"I thought you finished that?"
"Uh, so did I. But Jazz just texted me. She found the sheet and apparently, I left a few questions blank. I should go home and finish before she really gets on my case." Danny stands up and stretches his arms above his head. "Sorry. We can make up for it next time."
Before Tucker can protest further, Danny leaves, casting one last furtive glance in Ozzy's direction. Ozzy doesn't relax until they hear the front door close.
"What did he even check his phone?" Tucker mutters. Thinking back, he can't even remember Danny looking down at his pocket. It bothers him, but he knows Danny wouldn't lie without a good reason, so he'll leave it for now.
He pounces on Ozzy instead
"What's wrong?" Tucker asks.
"You're a worse liar than Danny. Is it... is it your mom?"
Ozzy groans. They reach up to run their fingers through their hair, faltering when they touch their shoulder instead. Moving their hand up, they touched their buzzed head. "I don't know. Danny, he–" Ozzy cuts themself off.
"Danny? What'd he do? Did he say something while I wasn't looking? I'll kick his ass," Tucker says, leaping to his feet.
"No, don't!" Ozzy grabs Tucker's belt and yanks him back down. "It's nothing, okay? He didn’t do anything. It's stupid."
Tucker stares intently at them, then sighs and backs off. "Okay. It's okay if you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. But if you do want to talk about whatever it is, I'm right here."
"Yeah, okay," Ozzy says.
Valerie sees it next. She invites Danny over for a study session at her new place in Elmerton. People say Elmerton is a neighbourhood at the edge of Amity Park, but as someone who now lives there, Valerie knows it's its own town. The people in Elmerton aren't like the people Amity. They don't have the same mannerisms. They don't have the same slang. They don't even have the same ghosts.
In fact, Elmerton has no ghosts. Which makes it a pretty poor place for a ghost hunter to live, but the apartments are cheap, and it's all her dad can afford right now.
They take the bus after school. It's an inter-city bus, because none of the school buses go out that far. The ride is more than hour. Plenty of people get on and off the bus in that time. Valerie likes to watch them. She can tell exactly when the last person from Amity Park steps off.
Valerie doesn't know how she could explain it to an outsider, but people from Amity can recognize each other at a moment's glance. It's something about the way they hold themselves, how they react to things. When your life gets threatened every day by ghosts from another realm, you look at things a little differently. It's like one day everyone from Amity Park collectively decided to stop giving a damn about anything that didn't immediately threaten to kill them.
"Huh," Valerie says as she looks over the bus. She and Danny sit at the very back, in Valerie's usual seat. After her first few times taking the bus, she learned it was just polite to sit further back when you had a longer ride. It also gives her a good view of the whole bus.
"What is it?" Danny asks, looking away from the window. So far, he has been spending most of the ride staring out at the passing scenery, watching as things got dirtier and poor run down the closer they got to Elmerton.
Instead of answering, Valerie leans over Danny.
"Hey!" He presses himself back against his seat, raising his arms, a scarlet blush creeping across his cheeks.
Valerie ignores him in favour of scanning the skies. "You don't see any ghosts or anything, do you?"
"What? No. Why? Why would there be a ghost here? I mean, it's Elmerton, right?" Danny says. He laughs and looks away, tugging the collar of his shirt. Is it just him or is it a little hot in here all of a sudden?
"Yeah, I guess so," Valerie says, pulling back. Her frown stays settled on her face.
There are only a few people on the bus with them, besides the driver. At the very front, a woman with weathered skin and greying hair, who got on at the last stop. Even though the bus is already moving again, she still hasn't taken her seat. Instead, she stands straight, facing the back of the bus.
By the middle doors is a young woman and teenage girl, their backs to Valerie and Danny. The woman has her arm around the girl's shoulder. Every once in a while, she cranes her neck and looks in their direction.
A man in a rumpled suit sits closest to them. Valerie sees him on the bus every day. They've chatted a few times, and he's nice enough. They usually say hi to each other. Today, he had started down the aisle toward them, giving a cheery wave. But the moment his gaze slipped from Valerie to Danny, he paled, dropping into the nearest seat. He clutches his briefcase tightly, holding it like a shield.
Valerie knows instantly that none of these people are from Amity Park because they all look afraid and she has no idea why. She stares at them a moment longer, glaring at the young woman when she peeks over her shoulder again.
It takes Valerie a minute to realize it, but she finally notices the one thing all of them are doing.
"Are they... staring at you?" Valerie whispers to Danny.
He shifts uncomfortably, tucking his hands under his arms, and leans his head against hers to whisper back. "Yeah."
Danny shrugs. "It's just a thing people do sometimes."
"People sometimes stare at you like you're about to, I don't know, pounce on them?"
Danny shrugs again.
"That's... really weird."
"Maybe they've heard of my parents," he says, grinning sardonically.
Valerie rolls her eyes and pushes his shoulder. He laughs, and Valerie does her best to ignore the tense atmosphere for the rest of the ride. She ignores it, but she doesn't forget it.
Valerie finds Tucker in the gym sound booth after school one day and corners him there. She locks the door behind her and pins him against the sound board. "What's up with Danny?" she asks accusingly.
Both Tucker and Sam have the annoying habit of dancing around Valerie's words whenever she tries to approach them cautiously. She's learned, from experience, that being direct and forceful is the only way to get information out of them. Getting Tucker alone with no back up also helps.
"I don't know! He's not a ghost!" Tucker blurts out, raising his arms defensively.
"I mean, nothing. Nothing's up with Danny. He's so great. You know how great he is. You dated him for a little bit, luck you."
Valerie stares at him, wondering for a moment if this is Tucker's way of confessing that he has a crush on his best friend. She shakes her head, casting that thought aside for now. Grabbing Tucker's collar, she pulls him forward until they're nose to nose.
"You mean you've never seen how odd people get around him?"
"What, no?" Tucker's genuinely confused by the question. His face screws up as he thinks, trying to figure out what the hell Valerie is talking about. He needs to tread lightly, so he doesn't accidentally spill Danny's secret. He doesn't think she knows, despite how weird her question is.
"Just think about it for a minute, okay?" Valerie says. She releases Tucker and steps back, crossing her arms.
Tucker composes himself, smoothing out his shirt, and gives her a dirty look. He decides to indulge her anyway. With a great, dramatic sigh, Tucker taps his chin, looking up at the ceiling, then down at the floor. He hums and haws, making a great show of how terrible and strenuous thinking about this is, and then he shrugs.
"Nope, can't say I know what you mean." Brushing past Valerie, he heads for the door.
She reaches out and grabs his collar again, yanking him back.
"Come on, you're gonna stretch it!" Tucker whines, batting Valerie's hand off.
"I'm being serious here, Tucker. You've never seen anyone looking, I don't know, afraid of Danny? Kind of wary?"
"Afraid? Of Danny? You can't be serious, he's not–" Tucker freezes.
"What is it?" Valerie reaches out for him again.
Tucker smacks her hands away and skips out of her reach. "A couple months ago. I had my cousin over, and Danny hung out with us for a bit. They were acting really weird. I thought it was about their mom. And then I thought it was because they weren't out the last time they saw Danny, but they said it wasn't either of those and told me to drop it."
"Danny came over to my place to work on our history project last week. On the bus, people wouldn't stop looking at him. He brushed it off, but that's weird, right?" Valerie asks. "They looked like... like they were afraid."
Tucker laughs. "So weird. Can you imagine people being scared of Danny?"
It's the most ridiculous thing either of them has heard all year. They break down into a fit of laughter, falling against each other. It's so outlandish and absurd that you couldn't make it up if you tried.
Which is why Star, who has her ear pressed against the sound booth door, grins and takes off the moment the conversation dissolves into laughter. She has only one thought in mind: Paulina has got to hear about this.
"Yeah!" Star nods enthusiastically. "I swear that's what they said."
"Afraid of Fenton?" Paulina asks. Star's already said it three times, but it's so unbelievable she has to hear it again.
"Afraid of Fenton," Star repeats. "Foley's cousin and some," she waves her had dismissively, "Elmertonites."
"Who's Foley's cousin?" Paulina asks. She can't remember if Foley has any other family in the city, but Star would. Star's the only person who knows this town, and it's people, better than Paulina. They are the gossip queens and they make everybody's business their own. Knowing a little extra something about a certain somebody could always come in handy somewhere down the line.
"An out-of-towner," Star says.
"Interesting." Paulina closes her locker and leans against. She waves at a few boys walking by, giving them a disarming smile. They crane their necks around to keep looking at her for as long as they can. As soon as they're around the corner, Paulina's smile drops and she turns back to Star. "You know, I think now's a great time for my friend from New York to come visit!"
Star grins. "Oh, great idea, Paulie. Amity is so great this time of year."
They walk down the hall, arm in arm, giggling and conspiring.
Everyone knows about Paulina's New York friend. Theirs is a friendship built not out of love but a mutual desire to constantly get one up on each other. Which means they aren't friends at all. But, their dads are business partners, so the two girls often find themselves forced together. These occasions are typically full of sweet smiles and sweeter words. Which everyone knows is a clever rich girls choice weapon in any circumstance.
When Paulina invites Whitney van der Bloom to Amity Park for the weekend, Whitney answers with a cheerful, "Sweetie, do you even need to ask?"
Which really means, "Sweetie, why on Earth would I want to go?" Sweetie, in both cases, is not a complement.
Whitney goes, of course. With a slew of backhanded complements tucked in her pocket. The battle begins the moment her plane touches down and she is determined to come out of this weekend as the undisputed victor. Paulina may have a home advantage, but Whitney was born into this kind of conflict. New money always flounders around a bit before learning how to properly navigate the delicate social rules of high society, and she can tell Paulina is still getting her sea legs.
Whitney finds it adorable, like watching a baby toddle through their first steps.
On her walk through the airport, Whitney touches as little as possible. She left New York in a private plane, from a private airstrip, where every surface was clean and shiny. Amity Park was neither of those things.
By the main entrance, she finds Paulina's driver holding a sign with Whitney's name on it. She passes him her luggage, a single Gucci bag, and follows him outside to the waiting car. She's impressed by Paulina's power play, although she would never say it out loud. Staying in the car while sending her driver out to collect Whitney, like a nanny picking up a child from daycare, is a bold move.
It's fine. Whitney will let her have the lead, for now. She won't have it for long.
The driver opens the back door. Whitney slides inside like she owns the car, tossing her hair over her shoulder, giving the driver a sugary smile. When she turns and gets her first good look at the inside, she freezes.
Rather than sitting on the other side of the car, at a respectful distance, Paulina is right beside her in the middle seat. And there are four other people with her. Paulina's little satellite—Whitney thinks her name is Sun—sits to her left. And across from them are two boys she doesn't know—and doesn't want to, based on how they're dressed—plus a girl she does know.
"Sammy?" Whitney asks, looking across the car at the Sam Manson, heir to the Manson fortune.
"Bloom," Sam greets her coolly. Sam doesn't even twitch at the nickname she loathes. Because that would be a sign of weakness, and she knows that if there's one thing you never want to do, it's look weak in front of Whitney van der Bloom. The girl may only be fifteen but she's a menace.
"Hi." Whitney drags out the "i," her voice rising and falling. "Oh. My. God. I haven't seen you since the Cabo retreat! What are the chances of seeing you here?"
Sam grins wickedly. "Pretty high, actually."
"Oh?" Witney doesn't have a response for that. Sam has always thrown her off, purely because she refuses to play the same games Whitney and Paulina do. It's infuriating.
She turns to the two strangers instead, looking them up and down. The boy on Sam's right makes her cringe. A turtleneck and cargo pants? Whitney would give him points for boldness if the colours weren't so garish. When she meets his eyes, he wiggles his eyebrows at her.
Whitney immediately decides she wants nothing to do with him.
The other boy, sitting right across from her, isn't much better. Worn out jeans that are actually worn out and weren't just made to be like that, and a ratty old t-shirt with a flaming green "F" on it. Gross. Resisting the urge to curl her lip, she lifts her eyes to his face.
He's not looking at her. He's looking down and away, his stare so intense it should be burning a hole in the carpet. Little does she know, it could, with very little effort on his part.
Normally, Whitney takes that kind of gesture as a sign of submission. Instant victory. Right now, something about this boy makes her think she doesn't want his eyes on her.
"Whit! I'm so happy you could come!" Paulina throws her arms around Whitney's shoulders and pulls her in for a hug, kissing Whitney's cheeks twice.
Whitney snaps out of her daze, although not fast enough to return the kisses. Another victory for Paulina.
"Of course, Lina!" Whitney says. She sees the boy in the turtleneck mouth "Lina" at Sam. She wonders what their relationship is. "There's no way I would pass up the chance to visit somewhere as quaint as Amity Park. It's nice to get a break from the lavish lifestyle, you know?"
"Oh, I know. You look like you need a nice rest." Paulina smiles widely.
Whitney's eye twitches. "So, Lina, who are your friends?"
"Well, you already know Sam. I didn't realize you ran in such high circles," Paulina said, earning another twitch. Before she can say anything back, Paulina moves on. "And these two are her friends. Tucker." The boy in the turtleneck, "and Danny." The boy that Whitney does not want to look at her.
Paulina leans forward and grabs Danny's arm, pulling him right out of his seat. He yelps and stumbles, bumping his head on the top of the car. Tucker reaches out to stop him, but Sam holds her arm out and keeps him back, wearing that same fiendish smirk. Before Whitney can figure out what's happening, Star's moved to take Danny's place, and Paulina has slid over to the other side of the car. She drags Danny down and sits him right next to Whitney.
"Danny's such a good friend, I can't believe I haven't introduced you to him sooner," Paulina says. She's still hugging his arm, pushing him forward a little more so Whitney has no choice but to squeeze up against the door to avoid touching him.
She doesn't want to touch him. She doesn't want to be next to him. She doesn't even want to be in the same car as him. Whitney unconsciously reaches for the door handle, but the car's already moving. She's trapped.
"Don't be rude, Danny. Say hi to Whitney," Sam says. She looks like the cat that ate the canary. And Whitney feels like the bird.
Danny gives Sam a disgruntled look before turning to Whitney. "Uh, hey, Whitney," he says.
Whitney tenses. The sound of his voice sends shivers down her spine. It washes over her, raising goosebumps along her arms. The cold certainly doesn't help. She thinks it's the AC in the car, until Danny's arm brushes against hers and she flinches away. His skin is icy to the touch.
"Sorry," Danny mutters. He finally looks at her.
Whitney wilts under his stare. Looking into his eyes is like looking into an endless expanse. Her own gaze jumps around, searching, but Danny's holds steady. Not even a twitch. Whitney's not even sure if he's blinked since she got in the car. When he looks away, his eyes slide off her.
"You– you're very," she stammers. For once, her words are lost to her.
Paulina's smile is bright as the sun. She leans back, giving Danny the space to do the same, and Whitney quickly tries to compose herself. She steadies her breathing, checking the other occupants of the car to see how they reacted. Tucker looks curious. Sam looks smug. Star looks delightfully vapid, eyes wide and smile wider.
"They're going to be with us all day, I hope you don't mine," Paulina says. "Danny knows the city really well, and Sam. Well, like I said. She's a Manson."
Whitney, still at a loss for words, nods numbly.
"This will be so much fun!" Star says, clapping her hands together.
Whitney doesn't think so.
Whitney lasts for four hours, which is far longer than anyone expected.
"I'm almost impressed," Star says, waving at Whitney's private jet as it takes off. "She's very good at faking important phone calls."
"Just never tell her that to her face," Paulina says. Hand on her hip, she eyes Sam, Tucker, and Danny. "I guess we can give you all rides home. But I hope you know this was a one-time thing. Mostly because Whitney probably won't come back after that."
"Uh." Danny raises his hand. "How do you know the phone call wasn't important? Why won't she be back? She's your friend, isn't she?"
"Oh, Danny. You're so sweet, you know that?" Paulina pats his cheek and pivots. Swaying her hips, she starts walking back toward the car. It's not even an insult this time.
"Thank you? I guess?" Danny says.
"Come on, Fenton. I might even help you with your math for what you did today." Star grabs his wrist and drags him after Paulina.
"I didn't do anything!"
Sam and Tucker linger a moment longer, watching Whitney's plane disappear into the sky. Tucker turns to Sam and says, "I'm so confused. Why did you even agree to this?"
Sam shrugs. "Whitney van der Bloom sucks."
"Yeah. Yeah, she does."
Paulina and Star eagerly spread the word: Danny Fenton scares outsiders. The rumour spreads quickly throughout Casper High, although everyone is careful never to mention it while Danny himself is around. Not even Sam and Tucker tell him. It's one of those rumours you don't want getting back to the person it's about. Not because it's bad, but because it's a hell of a lot more fun when they don’t know.
Nobody really gets the "why," except those who know Danny best. To everyone else, he's a scrawny kid with eccentric parents, and he wouldn't hurt a fly. Most of them decide outsiders are just weird like that and put it out of mind. But Mikey, clever kid that he is, decides to put Danny's mysterious ability to work.
"I'll help you with your physics homework if you cheer us on at the decathlon," Mikey says. He leans across the aisle between their desk, whispering low enough that the teacher won't hear them.
"You do sports?" Danny asks, raising on eyebrow.
"No, it's academic. Don't be ridiculous."
On the edge of his seat, Mikey waits for Danny's reply. The decathlon is tomorrow, which may have been short notice, but Mikey isn't a fool. He knows academics bore the hell out of Danny and the only way he will go is with incentive. Mikey waited until they got their most recent test back. Peeking at Danny's paper, he can see his classmate failed, which is good news for him.
One decathlon is a small price to pay for a passing grade.
Danny looks down at the big red F on his test. He whispers back, "Sure. When is it? Do people have to dress nice for these things?"
"Tomorrow. And," Mikey pauses a moment to consider, "yes. I mean, no. Not nice, but there's this thing we do. It's okay, I'll have you covered. Just wear what you usually do."
Danny looks uncertain, but Mikey knows he'll accept. He gave Danny no other choice.
Mikey tries to gauge Danny's reaction when he passes over the hoodie. It's ten minutes to the start of the competition. They're backstage getting ready for the judge to call them out. At the moment, they're separated from the other team, but there's no rule against some friendly banter before things get going, so Mikey has a plan. A plan that needs Danny to wear this hoodie.
Danny holds it up, frowning at the design on the front. A fierce raven with bright green eyes carrying a bloodied snake in its beak; they're competing with Silver Valley today whose mascot is a snake. He picks up the hood, inspecting the mask sewn into it. It's a simple black masquerade mask with a long, beak-like nose.
"And this is... standard?" Danny asks, lowering the hoodie so he can look Mikey in the eyes.
Mikey nods emphatically. "Yeah. I know decathlons don't seem exciting, but we get really into it. Lots of people do this."
"And you just had a hoodie with this exact picture lying around?" Danny turns the hoodie around, displaying the graphic image on the front.
"Yeah. Lester wore it last time. He's let me borrow it for you today," Mikey lies. It actually cost him thirty bucks to get custom made, but the mask was cheap. Besides, the competition today has a cash prize, which will more than make up for it when his team wins.
"If you say so," Danny says. He shucks off his button up and pulls the hoodie on instead, pushing the hood down to rest at the back of his neck.
Mikey immediately pulls it back up and lowers the mask over Danny's eyes. "It's part of the school spirit," Mikey says.
"Riiight." Danny adjusts the mask, but he doesn't take it down. "Shouldn't I be sitting in the audience?"
"You will. But I wanted to introduce you to the other team first. It's a sportsmanship thing," Mikey explains. He beckons Danny forward, leading him down a long hall behind the stage. As the hall opens up into the wings of the stage, the other team comes into view.
Like Mikey and the other decathlon members, they wear matching jackets. Although where Casper's jackets are red, Silver Valley wears grey.
Danny stops just before stepping into their line of sight. "Mikey," he hisses. "I don't see anyone dressed like a snake over here."
"Just trust me. You want that physics help, right?" Mikey only feels a little guilty about tricking Danny like this. Mikey's not actually hurting him, and they aren't breaking any competition rules, so it's fine.
Danny shuffles his feet, giving the other team a solid once through, and nods.
"Hi, everyone!" Mikey says, drawing the team's attention. "We just wanted to come over and wish you good luck! Friendly competition and all that."
Watching them closely, Mikey catches the exact moment they lay eyes on Danny, and it is so much better than he could have hoped. The whole team freezes. Mikey can see their eyes dilating, like they've been shot with a burst of adrenaline, a little kick-starter in their fight-or-flight response. Judging by the way a few of them shuffle back, they're leaning toward flight.
Mikey revels in the fear in their eyes. "Good luck!" he says.
"Yeah." Mikey turns at Danny's voice. For a second, he thinks he sees something in Danny's eyes, something swirling and green. But in a blink, it's gone. Danny smiles brightly, but with the mask it looks downright villainous. "Good luck. I think you'll need it."
The Silver Valley team pales. Casper High wins by a landslide that day.
The story of Casper High's raven boy spreads from Silver Valley out to other schools. Most of them think it's just a rumour, but enough people pass it along that it eventually works its way back to Casper and into the ears of one Dash Baxter. Dash, being the proud jock he is, can't let himself be one-upped by a nerd.
"Hey, Fenton!" he calls out to Danny at lunch hour. Shoving his way between Sam and Tucker, Dash slams his hands down on the table. Danny flinches. "Relax, I'm not here to wail on you. For once."
Sam shoves Dash's hand off the table. "Great, then get the hell out of here," she says.
"Shut up, Manson. I ain't talking to you." Dash sneers. He turns his focus back to Danny. "I got a proposition for you."
"I can't believe he knows the word proposition," Tucker whispers.
"I said shut it!" Dash raises his hand to smack Foley upside the head. Halfway through the swing, Danny lurches forward and snatches Dash's wrist.
"Dash, if you want to make a deal or something, I don't think hitting my best friend is the right way to start," Danny says.
Dash scowls at him. He jerks his hand out of Danny's grip and steps back, rubbing his wrist. He won't say it out loud, but Danny's got a pretty good grip. "Yeah, whatever. He's not worth it anyway."
People are staring at them now. Most of them looking for a show Dash isn't going to give, at least not today. Eager to get this over with fast, Dash leans over until he's so close there's no way anyone could overhear them.
"Listen. You do one thing for me, and maybe I won't wail on you for a week," he says.
Danny shoots him a deadpan stare. "Maybe?"
"Fine," Dash relents. "I definitely won't."
"What do I have to do?"
"Come to our next football game."
"Are you deaf, Fenton? Come. To. The. Game." Dash enunciates carefully, slapping his palms down with each word, leaning closer in. Danny reels back so far that he has to grab the table to keep from slipping off the bench. "And wear the sweater."
Dash saunters away before Danny has a chance to respond. The prying eyes turn away then, more than a few disappointed by the turn of events. Danny ignores them in favour of turning to his friends.
"Do you guys know what sweater he's talking about?" he asks.
"Probably the one Mikey had you wear," Tucker says. "Because it's so s–" Sam kicks him under the table. "–exy! It's uh... it's a sexy sweater."
"Oh, my god." Sam drops her face into her hands.
Danny doesn't know it's not standard practice to shake hands with the opposing team's quarterback, and their backup quarterback, and their backup backup quarter back before a football game. But he is pretty sure it's weird for him, a random student, to be doing it instead of someone from the actual team.
"Just stand in front of 'em until they shake your hand, that's it," Dash says, shoving Danny toward the Waterford Heights Weasels. He waves impatiently, motioning Danny forward. Dash personally doesn't see what's so scary about the getup. A sweat with a bird and a mask, big whoop. But he's willing to try it, anyway.
"Think it'll work?" Kwan asks. They stand side-by-side, arms crossed, elbows brushing. The rest of the team mills about behind them, some of them spying on Fenton, others getting in the right headspace for the game. It's only a couple minutes to kickoff.
Dash shrugs. "Worth a shot."
It's a great night for a game. The sky is clear. It's not too chilly. There's still an hour before the sun will set. It means they'll have the light in their eyes for half the game, but if this works, that won't even matter.
Dash and Kwan watch Danny approach the first player. They made sure to give him the jersey numbers beforehand. Kwan, who has neater penmanship, wrote them down on Danny's palm. Their original idea was to have him greet the whole team but that would take too long. They settled for the key players instead.
Danny plants himself in front of the star quarterback and sticks his hand out. Dash snickers when the guy tries to step around Danny, and Danny sidesteps right back into his path. He says something and shoves his hand in the quarterback's direction again.
"You think Fenton's playing along?" Kwan asks.
"Nah. As if he even knows what's up. Did you see the blank look he gave me in the cafeteria? Besides, I upped the 'no-beating' time to two weeks if he did the handshakes."
Kwan touches his fingers as he silently counts the dates in his head. "That's the next home game."
"Yep. If this works tonight, I might just give him the offer again then."
The Waterford's quarterback eventually shakes Danny's hand, scurrying away as soon as he's released. Danny moves on to the next one.
That night, the Waterford Weasels don't get a single touchdown.
Danny is suddenly the most popular kid at school, at least amongst the jocks. Considering how much weight Casper High puts behind their athletic programs, that makes him pretty damn high on the food chain. Not that he seems to realize.
The basketball team, the volleyball team, even the cheerleaders. They drag a confused Danny along whenever they can and set him lose on the opposing team. There's always a bribe, of course. Everybody knows Danny isn't big into school spirit. He'd never gone to a single game before all this, after all.
At first, they're just using him. He freaks out the competition so much it throws them off their game, which means a lot more trophies to fill up Casper High's dusty case in the near future. Eventually, though, it becomes something else. There's still the raw, primal joy of seeing Danny scare the hell out of some outsiders, but they start inviting him to the after parties, too. They let Danny's friends tag along. Dash even gives him a friendly slap on the back one day when they're passing in the hall.
Three months ago, nothing like that would have happened. Three months ago, Dash would have stuffed you in a locker for even suggesting it.
By some miracle, they manage to keep the teachers out of the loop. If any of them asks, the students either answer with a shrug, or suggest that Fenton's turned a new leaf and he's really into school spirit now. Most of them go for the shrug.
It doesn't last forever, though. The students get bolder, inviting Danny to away games outside the city. He rejects most of them, no matter how sweet the bribe, with a number of excuses.
"I have homework."
"I've got some extracurricular stuff to work on."
"I don't have a car."
"You don't need a car, we've got a bus!" Dash says.
Danny, already turning to walk away, stops. "What?"
"You can ride on the team bus with us," Dash says. It's not exactly conventional, but they've got the room for it. All they have to do is sneak Danny past Tetslaff and keep him out of sight until they're on the road. There's not much she can do about it once they've already set out.
"Are you serious?" Danny asks.
Dash rolls his eyes, not even deigning Danny with a proper response. Fishing his notebook out his backpack, Dash quickly scribbles out the time and date of the away game, plus when the team bus is going to leave.
Danny eyes the piece of paper, frowning as he tries to decipher Dash's cramped handwriting.. "You don't even know if I'll show up."
"You'll show up."
"I doubt it."
Danny shows up. He meets Dash by the back door, already donning the sweater he's now permanently borrowed from Mikey. He asked Mikey if Lester would ever want it back, but Mikey assured him his debt is settled. Whatever that means.
"Tetslaff usually waits until all the equipment is loaded up before getting on. We just have to sneak you by her, which won't be too hard," Dash says.
"You realize I'm not shorter than you anymore, right?" Danny asks.
Dash squints. No, he hadn't, actually. Even though they see each other every day, Dash still pictures Danny as the same wimpy kid from freshman year. But Danny's right. He has a few inches on Dash, now that they're a couple years older, although he's still got nothing in terms of muscle mass. Just looking at him, Dash is pretty sure Mikey has more muscle than Danny does.
"Whatever, let's just go." Dash leads Danny over to the bus.
Tetself stands with her back to them. She oversees the rest of the team as they throw their equipment bags into the storage compartment at the bottom of the bus. She's completely oblivious to the two rule breakers heading her way.
But Kwan and Dale see coming from afar and jog over to join them. They fall into step on Dash's left, making a little wall between Danny and Tetslaff. If Danny ducks his head, he's completely out of view. They're almost home free, a few feet from the bus, when Danny's foot slips into a rut in the grass he careens forward.
He cries out in shock, throwing his arms out to catch himself. Dash manages to snag his arm before he hits the ground, jerking Danny to a stop. He hangs there a moment, body limp, blinking at the grass and wondering if that really just happened.
"Daniel Fenton, what are you doing?" Tetslaff asks.
Dash jostles Danny out of his daze. He scrambles upright, brushing himself off as Tetslaff approaches. She stops right in front of him, fists on her hip, her glare stern.
"Getting on the bus?" Danny says.
Behind Tetslaff, Dash slaps a hand against his face.
"Only team members are allowed on the team bus. Those are the rules."
"But coach, he's out lucky charm!" Dash protests.
Tetslaff turns, squinting at Dash. Crossing her arms, she leans toward him. "Oh, yeah? How so?"
Dash, Kwan, and Dale share a long, considering look. Kwan shrugs. Dale tilts his head back. Shooting Danny a wary glance, Dash beckons Tetslaff over, out of earshot. She stays rooted to the spot.
Normally, a little something like saying please wouldn't do a lick of help in swaying Tetslaff. She's as stubborn as her arms are thick. But today, she feels a little indulgent. The team's being doing great, both in practice and on field. She's willing to give a little, if only for all the effort they're giving her back.
With a sigh, Tetslaff follows Dash.
"He scares the hell out of the other players so that they mess up and we win," Dash confesses once they're out of earshot.
Tetslaff's eyebrows shoot up her forehead. "Fear tactics, huh? Didn't want to rely on you own skill?"
"That's not it! I know we're a great team. We don't need Fenton. But he makes us work harder for it. He's kind of motivating, you know?"
Tetslaff looks at Dash and says nothing. With a shake of her head, she marches back to Danny. "Mr. Fenton, you're coming with me."
Danny gives the team a helpless look, a weak shrug, and follows their coach back into the school.
"Damn," Kwan says. "Almost had it."
"Did you mean what you said about Fenton, Dash?" Dale asks.
"I think I did?" Dash watches Danny and Tetslaff until they disappear through the doors. "I don't know about you guys, but whenever he scares the other team, I kind of want to earn that."
Dale nods. "Man, I wanted to see the fear in their eyes.
"Huh." Kwan taps his chin, deep in thought. "Does anyone else think we should be concerned about the fact that we enjoy that so much?"
All at once, more than half the team drones, "Nah."
"I think you're right, though," Kwan says to Dash. "Having Danny around is kind of fun."
"Today's game is gonna be so boring." Dale moans in disappointed. He boards the bus, quickly followed by his teammates. Soon enough, everyone is on and in their seats. All they need is for Tetslaff to return. She's gone for a solid ten minutes. There are still a few hours before the game starts, but it makes the players antsy. Dash keeps checking out the window for any sign of her.
The school's back door opens. Dash perks up, leaning toward the glass as Tetslaff steps out. She holds the door open. Danny comes out after her. And he's wearing the official Casper High Raven costume.
"Boys!" Tetslaff says when she climbs back on the boss. "Say hello to our new mascot!"
Her declaration is met with a round of cheers.
It's two hours before the game. Danny sits on a bench outside the locker rooms, the raven head resting beside him. When Tetslaff offered to make him the mascot, he admittedly hesitated. In the past, he didn't have time for stuff like this. But things are a little easier now, ghost-wise. His parents are better hunters. Valerie proves time and again how capable she is. The ghosts themselves have even backed off a little since Danny started junior year.
For the first time since starting high school, he actually has the time to do high school things outside of homework. It won't be his first time acting as the official mascot, either. He used to fill in for the mascot in freshman year, before things got too much for Danny to handle and he had to drop it.
He wishes Tetslaff let him keep wearing his hoodie, though. The raven costume isn't that comfortable.
The door to the locker rooms opens. Paulina steps through, already in her cheerleading outfit even though there's still an hour before she needs to be on the field. She takes one look at Danny and says, "Oh, hell no."
Danny recoils, offended. He thought they were on sort of good terms after everything with Whitney, but apparently, he was wrong.
"Tetslaff already made me the mascot, Paulina. I'm here whether you like it or not," he says.
"No, duh. I'm pretty sure you two were the only ones who didn't know you're are mascot." Paulina flicks the shoulder of the raven suit. It makes a dull thunk. The plastic feathers barely twitch. "But you're not scaring anyone in that thing. What are you gonna do, say 'boo?'"
Danny thinks about all the little tricks he has up his sleeve and grins. "I think you'd be surprise."
The costume may be bulky and round, with a wide friendly smile that gives one of those "huggable mascot" looks, but Danny's a ghost. If anybody can do scary, it's him. The past few months have proved that nicely.
"Wait, wait, wait," Paulina says, holding up her hands. She pivots in front of Danny and grabs his shoulders. "You know that you scare people?"
"I mean, yeah? It's kind of hard not to." Danny shakes his head. After the fifth time some stranger flinches away from your touch, you start piecing things together.
"And you never said anything?"
Danny honestly didn't think he had to. Did everyone just expect him not to catch on? Yes. Yes, they did. But that's not the point right now. Danny rubs the back of his neck and chuckles nervously. "I don't really care much about being popular anymore, but it's kind of nice to be invited to stuff, you know?"
Paulina doesn't believe him for a second. She crosses her arms and gives him a critical star. "And?" she asks.
Danny looks at her, looks away. Kicks the grass with his foot. He knows exactly what she wants to hear. He wants to deny it, but he can't. Sheepishly, he admits, "And it's kind of fun."
"Perfect. Then you won't mind what I'm about to do to you."
"Wait, what? Paulina, I– ah!" Paulina grabs his arm and drags him into the girl's locker room.
Danny holds himself perfectly still, arms out from his body. "Paulina, I don't think–"
"Ah, ah, ah! I'm almost done! No moving. And make sure you don't lean back against things too much, or else you'll smudge it." Paulina peers under Danny's arm, holding a paintbrush slathered in blue body paint so dark it's almost black.
"Aren't our team colours red and white?" Danny asks. Turning his arms over, he scans the parts of his skin Paulina has already finished painting. Bold feathers cover most of his upper arm, going up his shoulder and, from what Danny could feel as Paulina worked, down his back. She won't let him see what she's doing, though. He hopes it's cool.
"You mean the most boring colours in team colour history?" Paulina scoffs. She steps back, admiring her work for a moment, and drops her brush in the can of body paint. "I've been trying to get Ishiyama to change the school colours for years. Maybe with this, she will."
"Are you don’t yet?"
"Boy, I worked hard on this, let me breathe it in before you go out there and ruin it."
"Mikey's hoodie was scarier."
"Mikey's hoodie was garish. This is a work of art."
Danny picks at his new pants, heavy things made of a thick material and covered in a generous layer of black feathers. At least his legs will be warm tonight.
"You think I'm scarier without a shirt on? Gee, thanks." Danny rolls his eyes. He's not as offended as he sounds, though. Being a half ghost has led to some physical qualities he would rather do without, but can't do anything to change. Like an incredibly fast metabolism that burns through everything he eats before he even has a chance to taste it. Jazz keeps telling him he has to start making health choices, so he doesn't pass out or keel over from hunger.
He tries, but there's only so much he can do, and his ribs seem to be permanently on display. Danny pokes them now, scowling at how they press against his skin. That is so not healthy. He lets his hand drop back to the feathered pants.
"Where did you even get this on such short notice?" he asks. All Paulina did was make a phone call, then someone came buy and dropped off a paper bag with the pants, body paint, and a smaller plastic bag inside.
"I already had it made, silly. I told you, that sweater was so ugly. I couldn't let you keep repping Casper High in something like that." The noise Paulina makes is nothing short of disgusted. She really hates Mikey's sweater, effective as it was. But this is going to be glorious.
Danny peeks over his shoulder, trying to catch his reflection in the mirror, but he can't get a good view.
"Look straight," Paulina commands, pushing Danny's cheek. She raises his arms. "Hold them out like this, perfectly still. Perfect."
She takes out her phone and snaps a few photos of Danny's back. Flicking through them, she chooses the best one, posting it to the Casper Ravens twitter page with the caption "new mascot unveiling tonight." Once she's done, she passes her phone to Danny to show him her handiwork.
"Whoa." Danny stares down at the delicately painted wings on his back. Paulina made them just right so that when he raises his arms, it looks like the wings are unfurling. "Okay, that's a lot cooler than Mikey's hoodie. A shirt would still be nice, though."
"It'd take away from the look. You're practically a skeleton. What'll freak people out more than that?"
"Really feeling the love, Paulie."
"No using my nickname for her!" Star shouts from behind a row of lockers.
Paulina shooed the other girls to the other side of the room when she brought Danny in to give him his new look. By now, they are all changed into their uniforms and ready to show they're spirit.
"Okay. I'll just call her Lina instead."
"Please, god, no." Paulina groans. "That name is so stupid."
The other cheerleaders giggle as they join Danny and Paulina in the main room. They look nice, wearing their matching pleated skirts and crop tops. With their hands on their hips, the pom-poms give their steps a little extra bounce.
"We know you haven't choreographed anything. Just do your think, and we'll do ours. I know you aren't as clumsy as people think," Star says. She gives Danny an encouraging pat on his cheek. It is not as motivating as she thinks it is.
The girls start lining up by the door, doing a few small jumps to get their blood pumping. Danny does the same, shaking out his arms and hopping from foot to foot. He moves to take his place at the end of the line.
"Oh, what now?" Danny groans, slumping over. Paulina's shoes invade his vision. She sticks a plastic bag under his nose, holding it out for him to take. "What's this?"
"The last piece of your costume. It's my favourite."
Danny removes the piece from the bag. He grins wickedly.
Balmoral High, as the home team, runs onto the field first. Having heard of Caspers' unusual intimidation tactics, they came prepared. The players run onto the field amidst a burst of sparklers and strobe lights flashing their team colours. It pumps up the crowd, just as it's meant to, and the team is met with a roar of approval.
They pump their fists, leaping and bounding across the field. Cheerleaders in short skirts and shorter tops wave their pom-poms, do cartwheels and flips, and spur the crowd on. Their mascot runs on last. A guy in a bear costume, his raises his arms and roars, slashing his paws through the air.
It's all very cute.
Casper High comes in with far less fanfare. The cheerleaders are first, swishing their hips and blowing kisses at the crowd. Raising their voices, they cry out to the crowd. "We're the corvid to your carrion! We're here to fight to the break of dawn!" The few people from Amity Park who could make the trek to the neighbouring city cheer back, cranking their noise makers and stomping their feet. The players charge in next, thrusting their helmets in the air. They have feathers paint on their cheeks.
A few Balmoral players snort, bumping elbows and pointing to the face paint. When the last Casper student runs onto the field, all of Balmoral turns to watch for the infamous mascot. No one comes.
"Ha!" Balmoral's linebacker, in the middle of the team huddle, shouts. It would seem that Casper's reputation isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The linebacker freezes, feeling a tap on his shoulder. He turns, slowly, and sees a boy wearing raven skull mask and a devilish grin.
Danny paused in the hallway as Paulina, Dash, Kwan, and Star walked up to him.
“O negative,” said Danny. “Why?”
“Oh, really? That’s perfect!” gushed Paulina. “Did you know that you can give blood to anyone, Danny? Literally anyone with any other blood type can receive type O negative blood. You’re a universal donor!”
Paulina cheerfully held out a flyer to him. He did not take it.
“The Casper High blood drive is tomorrow. The cheerleading squad has been put in charge of advertising.” She pressed the flyer closer to his chest, but he still wouldn’t take it. “Come on, Danny. You could be a hero to everyone with your blood type!”
He hesitated a moment longer, then took the flyer. “Thanks,” he said quietly before moving to walk away as fast as he could.
“You’re gonna donate blood, right, Fenton?” taunted Dash. “You’re not gonna wuss out about this, right?”
“Um...yeah, I’ll try to make it,” muttered Danny.
“I’m gonna watch for you, Fenton,” said Dash with a tone becoming even more derisive. “And if you don’t show up, I’m just gonna assume you’re an even bigger pussy than I already know you are.”
“Yeah, and a selfish one,” said Kwan. “How could you not want to do your part to save lives, Fenton?”
Do his part. To save lives.
If only they had any idea just how large his “part” was in saving lives these past few years.
“Yeah, okay,” said Danny more firmly. “Like I said, I’ll try to make it.”
He again moved to get away, but Dash’s powerful hand clamped on his shoulder.
“I know what that really means,” he said with a cruel smirk. “It’s during school hours, so you’re gonna be here anyway, Fenton. You just don’t want to because you’re scared. Is that it, Fentonpuss?”
Danny shrugged him off easily. Dash’s expression changed momentarily to mild surprise at Danny’s unexpected show of strength.
“All right, look.” Danny carefully studied each of the A-Listers and settled on Paulina’s face, which looked the least threatening. “It’s not that I’m afraid or even that I don’t want to. I just...can’t donate blood, okay?”
He handed the flyer back to Paulina. She did not take it but instead stared at it while creasing her brow in sober confusion.
“You can’t? What do you mean?” she asked.
“Yeah, is something wrong with you, Fenton?” asked Star.
“Oh, my God,” cried Dash loudly. “I get it. I totally get it.” He whooped. “You have HIV, don’t you, Fentonfag?”
Danny’s jaw dropped, sounds coming from his throat in strained sputters.
“Of course. I should’ve guessed. Yeah, you’re right, faggot. We don’t want your blood.” Dash snatched the flyer from Danny and slapped it back on the stack in Paulina’s hands.
Several students in the hallway had halted to listen in. Danny’s whole body heated as he stepped closer to the A-List.
“I do not have HIV,” he hissed in a low voice. “Don’t you dare start spreading that rumor around.”
“Then why can’t you donate blood?” asked Dash, not lowering his voice at all. “What’s wrong with your blood, fag?”
Danny leaned back from the group, inhaling deeply.
No. He didn’t have HIV.
But what he did have running through his blood would absolutely kill whoever received it in a transfusion.
His organs, his blood, every part of his body infused with ectoplasmic properties could never be useful to anyone else. This would forever be a way he could never be a hero to anyone.
“There are plenty of reasons apart from HIV why some people can’t donate blood,” he finally said in cool monotone.
“Then tell us your reason,” challenged Dash.
Danny stayed quiet for a moment. “It’s personal.”
“Personal. Right.” Dash sneered at him. “You’re either a pussy or a faggot, Fenton. Which do you want to go with?”
Danny engaged Dash in his staredown. There was once again no winning with the jock. Whatever convincing excuse Danny came up with, Dash either wouldn’t believe him or wouldn’t care. Dash would just believe whatever he wanted to believe.
He turned his attention back to Paulina, who looked neither aggressive nor judgmental. Only very bewildered.
“Thanks for letting me know, Paulina,” he said with a kind smile. “I’m sorry I can’t help out with the blood drive.”
He turned away from the group without another word, blocking out any resulting jeers.
reasons why no one gives a fuck when danny transforms in public
because maybe they cant even see him unless theyre looking for him because dannys half ghost, so when he uses any sort of unnatural powers humans cant see it very well because what type of human uses ghost powers anyway? when danny's arm goes intangible instead of just unlocking his locker everyone else sees him fucking with the combonation. when danny walks through doors without realizing it everyone else sees him opening the door with no sound, despite the fact that everyone knows that door is the sound of hell itself when danny transforms in public, no one remembers him. sure, it crosses theyre minds for a millisecond that hey, THATS intresting but they have more important things to deal with. like getting the fuck out of there. then they might scratch their heads and think afterwards about what the thought, their memory altered or erased altogether, and when they see a picture of phantom next time they get the sickest case of déjã vü no one sees danny transform because no human should ever fly or shift their body past the visible light spectrum, and their brains are so hardwired that their own memories contradict and correct themselves. sam and tucker and even jazz have to remind themselves at first that danny could do that, yes walking through solid objects is normal, glowing eyes are normal. a few days after phantom planet takes place and no one remembers what happened, the big secret revealed. they just remember phantom and then.... well, it couldnt be that important could it.