has anyone else just wanted Danny to go completely fucking feral at Dash? anyone?
yeah me too
this is some truly self-indulgent shit y'all
Danny slammed his locker shut, sighing as Dash clapped him roughly on the shoulder.
"I'm throwin' a huge ass Halloween party this weekend, ghosts are all about Halloween right? You should totally come!"
It wasn't the first party Danny had been invited to since being outed as Phantom, but somehow Dash didn't seem to get the hint that he wasn't even remotely interested.
"No." Danny snapped, he threw his bag over his shoulder and turned his back on Dash, walking away without another word.
"What's your problem?"
Danny stopped, turning back around with a face of utter disdain.
"I've been trying to be nice, but all you do is just brush me off! Like you can't even pretend to be busy or something?"
Danny stared, mouth halfway open as he tried to find the words to respond.
"Are you actually serious?" he finally choked out, almost too bewildered to be angry.
"You're not still mad about all that stuff from before right?" Dash asked. "Like, I don't even do that shit anymore, it's over."
"Is it?" Danny's eyes flashed brightly and Dash took a half step back as the air went cold. "Because I'm pretty sure it was just yesterday that I pulled Mikey out of his locker."
"Well, yeah but that was Mikey." Dash laughed. "C'mon man, I wouldn't do that to you. We're totally cool now, so why you gotta keep blowing me off? You talk to Kwan like it's not big deal, and he used to wail on you all the time!"
Danny took a deep, slow breath, then another.
"Have you considered that maybe it's because I don't like you?" Danny said through gritted teeth.
Dash huffed, shoving his hands into his pockets and staring at the ground.
"Look, I get it, I was a jerk, but it's over! I'm actually trying to be nice, now you're the one being an asshole."
Danny looked as though he'd been slapped.
"You're such a fucking idiot Dash." Said Danny, his voice trembling with barely restrained rage. "You can't just treat someone like shit every single day for two years and then expect them to get over it because you invited them to a few parties."
"Then how come Kwan gets to hang out with you?" Dash could feel his face heating up. "You're just gonna let him off the hook? That's not fair!"
In one thunderous moment, every locker in the hallway slammed open, sending papers and books flying across the floor. The few students still packing up their things got the fuck out of dodge, whether this was a ghost thing or a Fenton thing (was there even a difference at this point?) they wanted no part of it.
Dash couldn't move, his feet felt heavy, he wasn't entirely sure if Danny had done something to him with his ghost powers, or if he was just afraid.
Because he was certainly afraid.
Even after everyone found out, Danny still didn't use his powers at school unless it was a ghost emergency. He didn't use them for pranks, didn't use them to get even, didn't even use them to show off.
But he was sure as hell using them now, and Dash suddenly realised why he was always holding himself back.
He was terrifying.
Danny took a few steps forward, stopping barely an arm's length away from where Dash was rooted to the spot, trembling.
"Kwan apologised to me." He said, quietly this time. "He apologised to my friends, he even apologised to some other kids, and when I told him that I wasn't ready to forgive him, he accepted that and left me alone until I was ready to talk to him again."
Dash wanted to speak, but he couldn't seem to make his brain form the words he needed, it was too busy buzzing with danger run danger get out run run RUN.
"You made every single day of my life miserable for two whole fucking years, and that isn't even counting the bullshit you pulled in middle school. How do you feel right now Dash? Does it scare you to be around me? Does it scare you to be at the mercy of someone that you know damn well can hurt you?" Danny leant in, grabbing a fistful of letterman jacket. "I hope it does, because now maybe you'll have an idea what it was like for me going to school every fucking day knowing that you would be there, ready and waiting to hurt me. Every single FUCKING day."
Dash found himself being thrown backwards, his feet finally able to move again as he caught himself.
"I'm s-sor-sorry." he mumbled, his lips felt numb and tingly and his head swam with panic as he struggled to get the words out. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"Are you?" Danny's voice cracked, his face wasn't twisted in rage anymore, his eyes were blue once again, and shining with tears. "Are you really sorry for hurting me? Or are you just sorry that the guy you were beating the shit out of turned out to be Phantom?"
"I didn't... I didn't know." Dash gasped out, he could barely hear his own words, all he could hear was his own heart beating loudly in his ears as he struggled to draw in breath. "I didn't know it was like that, I just thought-"
Thought what? What had he thought? That he wasn't really hurting anyone? That it wasn't that big a deal?
No, he hadn't thought that, because he hadn't thought at all.
"And you're gonna stand here and tell me I'm an asshole." Danny was almost sobbing as he raggedly spat out each word. "Because I won't forgive you for something you never even apologised for. This is the first time you even acknowledged that you were an absolute jerk to me, and you followed it up by demanding that I just get over it."
Dash stared down at the floor, it sounded terrible when Danny put it like that.
"I wasn't... demanding anything." he said, he was embarrassed by how whiny he sounded. "I was just trying to make it up to you, I was trying, I just thought... it's not fair that I can't have second chance. I was trying so hard and all I wanted was a second chance-"
"I DON'T CARE." Danny's eyes were screwed up tight, but it didn't stop the tears of fury from pouring down his cheeks, his voice so shredded with pain it was barely recognisable. "I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU. I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT. I DON'T OWE YOU A SECOND CHANCE. I DON'T OWE YOU ANYTHING. YOU FUCKED ME UP AND YOU. CAN'T. FIX IT."
Dash didn't know what to do. Danny was openly sobbing, his breaths came out in grunts as he couldn't hold the rage and misery back.
He was still standing within arm's reach, Dash cautiously put out a hand, to comfort him? He wasn't sure, but he barely brushed Danny's shoulder before Dash found himself spinning violently and his cheekbone exploded with sudden pain as he hit the floor. Cold hands drew away from him roughly.
"DON'T TOUCH ME." Danny screamed. "DON'T YOU EVER FUCKING TOUCH ME EVER AGAIN."
Dash watched as Danny grabbed his backpack and his footsteps disappeared down the hall.
It was over, just like that it was over.
Dash sat up and touched his face, he wasn't bleeding but he knew it would bruise pretty bad. It hurt, he would be squinting through one eye for a few days.
Danny could have done this to him at any time, he could have done it to him every day if he wanted, and maybe he would, now that he'd done it once.
The thought made Dash feel cold as dread pooled in his stomach.
The next day Dash told people he'd gotten his black eye from playing football, his team knew it wasn't true, but they didn't ask. He kept his eye out for Danny, wondering if he would pop up invisibly and knock him off his feet, or drag him through the floor, or hit him when nobody was looking.
He clung to Kwan's side all day, afraid to be alone.
Phantom could be anywhere, he could get him anywhere, if he wanted to hurt Dash nobody would be able to stop him.
Nobody had been able to stop Dash, and he didn't even have superpowers.
But in the end, nothing happened.
Dash went through the day untouched. Danny didn't even look his way. Not once. He just acted like yesterday never happened.
But it did happen, Dash still had the bruise on his cheek, and the terror set deep in his bones.
In the following days, weeks, months, Danny still never touched him, never looked at him, never talked to him. Dash realised that Danny probably wasn't going to do anything else after all, that maybe he hadn't even meant to hurt him in the first place.
He was a hero after all, he protected people, even people he didn't like. The only time he had ever come into contact with Dash again was to haul him out of the way of a ghost, and he did so with the same care as he would with anyone else.
Danny wasn't like him, he didn't gloat about hurting him, he didn't revel in the fact that Dash was scared of him. He just went about his day, acting for all the world like Dash didn't even exist.
Dash never gave him a true apology, it was clear Danny didn't want one, it was far too late for that.
It left Dash with a sick feeling of unfulfillment. He understood now what Danny had been going through, the pain, the terror, he wanted Danny to know that he was truly sorry, that he really had changed this time.
But he couldn't, because forcing an unwanted apology on him would just make Dash the asshole all over again, he was trying to steal a forgiveness that he could never have.
So he had to find his closure somewhere else.
He stopped picking on Mikey, and Nathan, and all of the other nerds he frequently hassled. He even tried apologising to them, some forgave him, others didn't, and he had to be okay with that. He struggled not to lash out, it still felt unfair, the world had always told him that you were supposed to forgive people when they apologised. It always happened that way on tv, in the cartoons he grew up watching. The mean kid would apologise, the other kids would forgive him, and they would all become friends.
He was realising that the real world was a whole lot more complicated than that, he didn't earn forgiveness just because apologising was hard, he was learning fast that he didn't earn any brownie points for taking responsibility for his actions. He was just doing what any decent person should.
It took him a while to come to terms with that, to stop being angry at people for not letting him make it up to them. For not letting him prove that he had changed.
All it took was to occasionally pass by Danny in the hallways for him to cool his jets and think more clearly. To remind him that he was the bad guy, he was the one who hurt people, that his victims did not owe him anything.
In his last year of school, he had found himself watching the juniors below him falling into the same behaviours, the same struggle for power and control. Pushing other kids around without so much as sparing a thought to how it made them feel.
After a lengthy chat with Mr Lancer, Dash was given permission to pull out younger students from detention one day a week. He would talk to them, ask about their lives, ask about their feelings. He would ask why they lashed out, why they thought it was okay to treat people that way. Most of them didn't have an answer, or simply refused to give one, but he would push, he wouldn't let them hide in ignorance like he did.
Some of them did feel guilt for the way they treated people, and they only needed someone they could talk to who could understand what they were going through, so they wouldn't take it out on whoever was around at the time.
Others would take more effort, they need a far stronger push in the right direction, they were defensive and combative, selfish and unapologetic.
Dash had been one of those kids, he knew they would be hard work, but he did his best. He couldn't help all of them, some were simply unwilling to change.
So he contacted the school-board, he pushed for better protection for students, more programs to help troubled kids, he volunteered to keep running his own counselling groups even after he graduated.
It still never felt like enough.
After graduation he turned down his favoured college to attend one closer to home so he could continue his volunteer work. He joined petitions and rallies for change across entire school districts, he spoke at other schools' anti-bullying campaigns. He'd attended enough of them in his own childhood that he knew they did next to nothing, but it gave him the opportunity to reach out to kids for one on one support.
He found more volunteers for his counselling groups, he helped people start them up in other local schools. It was a lot of work, especially when he was also juggling his college studies. He was taking a major in psychology, it was brutal, Dash had never been good at studying, but he'd decided that this was what he needed to do, this was important to him.
It still wasn't enough.
It would come at him in the night, as soon as he laid his head down on his pillow. He would see the faces of all the kids he hurt, it felt so much worse the older he got, they just looked younger and younger every time the memories came back to plague him.
He had beat the shit out of children. Kids who were the same age as the students he now counselled. He beat them until they were bloody or bruised, he shoved them into lockers, pulled pranks that humiliated them in front of the whole school, and he had laughed.
He'd laughed at their pain.
When the guilt weighed him down, he would begin searching for new programs to volunteer for, new petitions or rallies to get behind, always finding another way to help protect kids like Danny from kids like him.
And to protect kids like him from doing things that would one day haunt them.
He had spread himself thin across every school in the district, barely keeping afloat at college, but it wasn't enough.
It was never enough.
Kids still slipped through the cracks, schools were still too lenient, there were too many kids, not enough volunteers.
Casper High was holding another anti-bullying assembly. It had been a few years since Dash had attended one at his old school. This year they had excitedly announced that they'd even secured an appearance from Phantom himself.
Dash's blood ran cold, his hands shook as he went over his notes, he was slated to do his speech alongside Phantom's, they would be sharing the stage for a solid 75 minutes, barely a few feet from one another.
When Danny showed up he was already in Phantom form, Dash spotted him discussing emergency exit plans with one of the organisers in the event of a ghost attack.
He was so different from when they were in school.
He was tall, and broad, he stood with confidence and had a good natured charm to him. He was a hero, he was strong, he was brave. He could fight monsters ten times his size with a smirk and a witty one liner. He could take on anything, he wasn't afraid of anything.
He was a kid, running down a hallway, screaming words that still pierced through Dash's mind every time he saw the hero's face.
"DON'T TOUCH ME."
Dash's hands clenched around his notes, shaking so violently that they barely even looked like words.
"DON'T YOU EVER FUCKING TOUCH ME EVER AGAIN."
A deep voice cut through the chaos in Dash's mind as cold hands closed over his tremblings ones.
"It's good to see you again."
Phantom was smiling at him, his hands still closed around Dash's.
"Good... good to see you too." Dash mumbled, not able to meet the man's eyes.
Phantom paused before releasing Dash's hands.
"I've heard all about your work." Phantom grinned as Dash finally looked up and met his eyes.
"Yeah." he said, and then before his mind could catch up with his mouth, he blurted out, "I'm sorry, for everything."
Phantom's eyebrows rose for a moment, before he gave a gentle smile and clapped a hand on Dash's shoulder.
"I know." he said warmly. "Thank you."
They gave their speeches, Dash had told his story many times before, the victim that he'd pushed to breaking point, the boy whose words drove the change that made him the man he had become.
For the first time ever, that boy was listening.
After the assembly had packed up and the volunteers were heading home, it was Danny Fenton who approached Dash and asked if he wanted to go grab a beer together.
Dash thought it would be rather awkward, but Danny had plenty of experience socialising with the public, awkwardness slid right off him, and soon enough Dash found himself laughing alongside Danny as he told a story about the new misadventures of the Box Ghost.
He returned to his dorm that night, head still swimming from one too many beers, and he had the best sleep of his life.
He pulled back on some of his volunteer work, hunting for new people to take his place as he focused on college. He was falling far behind, but he would work hard to make his way back. As a volunteer he could only do so much, but with the right education and training, he could do so much more.
The guilt still haunted him, every so often when the pressure and the stress weighed heavy, it would creep back into his mind. It would probably never go away, not entirely, but at least now he had his closure.
Finally, it was enough.
702 notes · View notes