Take Pride in Your Humanity
The idea was stupid. No, scratch that. The idea was downright idiotic. Really, he should just go back upstairs and study for his make-up C.A.T. test. Heaven knew he needed the study time! Or maybe Clockwork knew… Either way, Danny knew he should have just gave up on the whole endeavor and never think of it again.
Yet, there he was, in the basement, standing in front of the eerie Fenton Catcher.
The entire idea was too stupid. He had just finished fighting his evil counterpart from the future who was born from the separation of his ghost and human halves. Granted, Dan was created from an extremely painful extraction from the Ghost Gauntlets, had been in misery from the death of his friends and family, and not to mention was half fruitloop…
But the principle of the matter stilled remained.
"Why am I doing this?" Danny mumbled to no one in particular. It wasn't like anyone could hear him either. After confronting Jazz about knowing his secret and taking out the giant ghost that threatened the town, he had asked for a little time alone in order to collect his thoughts. Jazz had hesitated, of course, (it wasn't good to keep those emotions bottled up inside him) but after a bit of persuasion (And his best Cujo eyes), Jazz let Danny have a little space of his own for a bit, taking his parents out to who knows where for a couple hours.
Unfortunately, alone time meant thinking. Thinking meant panicking about how close he came to losing everything he loved. The panicking led to thinking about Dan which led to contemplating about how damaged his ghost half was after they became separated in his evil alternate reality.
What had led him here? Was it fear? Morbid curiosity? Danny didn't know. All he knew was that the Fenton Catcher was right in front of him, and he needed to know if his ghost half was okay.
In the alternate reality, it was his ghost half that had become evil. The halfa was pretty sure the loss of his family was what led to Phantom going bonkers. In this reality, there was no need to check on his ghost side because it would be good because his family didn't die…Right?...Right!?
Danny glared at the dream catcher-like item that stood in the middle of the lab. Why did this thing even exist? If the thing didn't exist then Danny could have been on his marry way, not having to make the potentially life alerting decision of jumping into the dang thing. But no. It existed and had to make his life even more complicated.
There was only a small chance that he would be evil... or his ghost half would be evil so to speak ("Murphy's Law usually took that small chance!" A small, panicked voice sounded in the back of his head). However, it was one of those things that he had to know for sure. No 'ifs,' 'ands,' 'ors,' or 'buts.'
He sighed more perhaps the thousandth time in the last- who knows how many?- minutes. He needed to know. He couldn't let the idea go. Danny stared up at the lab's ceiling.
"Clockwork. I know you can hear me." Or at least, he thought he could. Hopefully the time ghost was watching his stupid butt or this could end messily. "If this is a deadly, stupid idea please stop me now because I really don't want to end the world for this."
He waited a moment then another. He half hoped that Clockwork would come shake some sense into him by banging him against a wall with his time rod for being so stupid. After a good minute or two, the halfa realized that Clockwork was not coming to stop him either because he wasn't watching or because his ghost half wouldn't be crazy if he tried to talk to him.
"Hope, I don't regret this." He flinched. Famous last words. He shook his head, clearing his doubts. Not waiting to actually think about what he was doing, he started his transformation. "Going ghost!"
He watched the familiar rings of light travel up his body, hoping that this would not be the last time he saw them. No, everything would be alright.
Danny flew up and looked at the green of the Fenton Catcher. The halfa closed his eyes, letting out a strangled sigh once more. Everything will be alright. Everything will be alright. No Dan. No nightmares. Just me and my ghost half.
With these thoughts, he suddenly opened his neon eyes and without a second thought, he flew straight into the green abyss of the device.
"So, I'm not evil. Didn't really expect to be. I don't know what we were trying to accomplish when separating." Phantom looked down leisurely from his spot in the middle of the lab. Said ghost was laying lazily in the air, laying back with his hands behind his head and one leg crossed over the other. He looked as if he was lying in a hammock instead of defying the laws of gravity.
The aftermath of their separation had been anticlimactic at best. The two halves had popped out of the machine without a trace of malicious intent or evil nature. Unless, of course, you count the glare that the human gave when he fell face first on the ground, his ghost half looking at him with only slight concern. At the moment, the human sat crossed legged on the floor, nursing his face.
Fenton sighed, flinching slightly as he rubbed his sore nose. "I don't know. I needed to make sure that we're okay….. I mean you're okay?" His eyebrows furrowed and he paused in his rubbing. After a moment, he simply gave a quick huff before looking at the casual position the ghost was in, forgetting his aching nose. "This is confusing."
Phantom snorted. Fenton watched as the ghost gazed at the ceiling, slightly drifting through the air. The scene was a bit surreal. Watching his ghost half simply relax especially after fighting himself didn't particularly comprehend well in his mind. It wasn't like the ghost was being threatening, far from it, considering the far away expression on his face. It was just the idea of relaxing in his life didn't seem to be possible, especially knowing what the future could present.
Yet Phantom seemed completely at ease.
After a moment of silence, the human spoke up again. "So… are you okay?"
Phantom's head snapped towards him, all forms of serenity leaving his features. He stared at the human for a moment (gauging his reaction?) before responding. "Define okay."
"Well, you aren't going to kill me, so that's good." The human rambled. Phantom rolled his eyes. He continued. "So…do you still need to defend people or do you not care and are just laying around for no reason?"
"Then by your definition, I'm okay, and that means we're done here." Phantom floated down to the human. "We should just get back together and forget this whole thing ever happened." He lifted the human up from the ground, receiving a small yelp from his sudden movements.
The ghost turned away from him and added as a side note. "Oh, and by the way, protecting the city is your obsession, not mine. I think protecting the town is just a part of your hero-complex." He looked at the human with a casual expression that didn't match the bomb he just dropped, holding out his hand for the human to take it. Fenton simply stared. "Did I say something wrong?"
"What did you just say?" Phantom raised an eyebrow.
"Fenton." He started, talking to him as if he was a child needing to explain the basics of life. The boy bristled at the tone. "If ghost fighting and protecting the city was our real obsession, Dan would never exist. We would probably suck it up and put our emotions aside for the sake of the greater good or something like that instead of dying on the inside to the point of wanting to lose all of our humanity. Ghost fighting is not my obsession." Fenton blinked.
"Okay... If crime fighting isn't our obsession, then what is it?"
Phantom shook his head. "My obsession, you mean."
"You're not a ghost. I'm the ghost half." The human huffed.
"Fine. Then what is your ghostly obsession, Mr. Technicality?" He said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. The ghost rolled his eyes.
"Tell me, what are most ghosts obsessed about? Humor me." The ghost added the last part from he saw the expression on the human's face. Fenton crossed his arms over his chest with a huff.
"Ghosts are obsessed about a lot of things. There are too many to count." Phantom nodded.
"Right, but what does each obsession have in common?"
Fenton pondered what he asked for a moment, thinking about his previous ghost encounters. Most ghosts didn't seem to have a singular thing in common except… the human half's eyes widened. "They are attached to their previous life!" His voice had a tone of awe. The ghost smirked.
"Yep." He said with a small pop at the 'p.' If they could, the human's eyes widened even more.
"Wait you're not saying?" The ghost nodded again.
The human gasped as he jumped to the other side of the lab, as far as his non-super powered self could take him away from his ghost half. His hands were in front of him as a makeshift shield as they waved frantically in front of his person. Phantom could have sworn he saw a slight blush dust his cheeks.
"That's so gross! A ten on the yuck scale, dude! We're the same person!" Phantom blinked and after a moment his eyes widened at what the human was implying. He couldn't think…. Oh gross. The ghost's cheeks blushed an interesting shade of green as he fly up, farthest corner away from his human half, the Fenton Catcher equidistance between the two of them.
"No! No! Not... how does that even make any sense?" He looked down shaking his head of the mental images, the green staining his tan cheeks. Just because he had the ghost instincts, it didn't mean he wasn't a teenager with an... active imagination. Phantom groaned and looked back at his other half only to find an accusing finger pointed at him.
"You tell me! You're the one who implied…" The human's cheeks seemed to glow even brighter. "…That!" Phantom's blush didn't even dissipate as he gave an annoyed scowl to the human.
"I did not imply… that." This is stupid… The ghost thought, looking at the human. He shook his head to get rid of the stubborn blush that seemed to not want to leave his face and let out a frustrated sigh. Once he was sure the green was gone, Phantom looked back at his other half. Judging by the embarrassed rather than horrified look on his face, Fenton must have realized his mistake and knew that he overreacted.
Not that Phantom would blame him, considering what the human thought that he was implying. How would that even work anyway?
After a moment, Fenton seemed to have found his voice. "Then what do you mean? Are you saying you're obsessed with me?" Phantom nodded, ignoring how his human's half voice was bit too high at the moment.
"Yes, in a way. It's…" How could he tell his other half in a way he could understand? "….it's hard to explain." It sounded lame, even to his ears, but how could Phantom explain something that even he couldn't really comprehend that well?
"Try me." Phantom raised an eyebrow. Fenton's cheeks flushed again. "You know what I mean."
The ghost huffed. Guess this is going to happen anyway. He looked for the best way to explain, rocking his head side to side as he floated in his own little corner of the lab. "Well, my obsession is fulfilling your will, I suppose. Since we aren't all the way dead, I guess want to do what my humanity wants me to do. Ergo my obsession."
"Then why would an alternate version of yourself kill the human side of me?" Phantom rolled his eyes in frustration.
"I don't know, Fenton, maybe…." He froze, his body stopping completely midair like a statue. If Fenton hadn't known any better, he would have thought he was a weird model made by his parents to fight ghosts. The ghost boy's eyes widened as Fenton saw his facial features fill with horror, but he otherwise kept his paralyzed state in midair.
"Phantom?" The ghost didn't move. He human took a cautious step over to the ghost, but he didn't even react. "Hey.. uh.. Phantom? Hey, you in there?" No response. Fenton had no idea what to do if the ghost didn't get out of this state. If his parents found them…. He shivered at the thought. Just as he was about to try to find something to throw at the ghost to wake him up (he was floating too high to reach), Phantom suddenly spoke.
"I can see a way that I would potentially want to kill you." Fenton froze. He slowly lifted his head to see the ghost staring at him, an ironically haunted look on his face as he floated warily down to the lab floor.
"Oh.. really?" The human mentally cursed his voice for coming out an octave higher. He cleared his throat, half out of necessity and half to just get away from the expression on Phantom's face. Fenton was suddenly very aware of the small distance between them, and the power that seemed to radiate off the spectral form.
Stop that! The human mentally berated himself. Your ghost half won't kill you! If he was, he would have done if already! Fenton backtracked to what he just thought then mentally slapped himself. He had the worse thought process sometimes. "That's..ummm… nice?" The human offered as he unconsciously rubbed the back of his neck. The ghost snorted, though albeit humorlessly.
"If by nice, you mean completely morbid and horrifying then yes, it's nice." Danny gave a small laugh. It wasn't really that funny, but laughing was better than stressing. He wasn't stressing. Totally not stressing. Fenton put his hands in his pockets and semi-casually looked back at his ghost half asking him a totally-not-freaking-out-mentally question.
"So.. umm…why would you.. uh… kill me?" Fenton hoped that to whatever deity was watching him that his voice didn't sound as scared shitless as he thought it did. Clockwork was watching them (hopefully), but he would probably just make his voice go higher on purpose just for kicks.
If his voice was fearful, Phantom ignored it opting to continue unintentionally horrifying the human instead. "If you didn't want to live, I would kill you." The human gaped at him.
"You would kill me because I wanted to die? That's just sick!" Phantom shook his head rapidly.
"No, because there is no purpose in relying on the humanity of someone who wants to be dead. My obsession involves you living and wanting to live your life. If you don't want to live, then what's the point with being with you?" He paused then chuckled dryly. "Actually, in a way, yes. Yes, I would kill you if you wanted to die if only because you would be useless to me." The ghost's voice had no speck of emotion in it. He could have been talking about the weather with the same amount of detached feeling.
But Fenton knew better than to think the ghost didn't care about him. The pained look that he saw in his ghost half's eyes was reason enough to know that he would never hurt him... or at least at the moment he wouldn't. He almost reached out to touch the ghost's shoulder, but with how tense they were, he didn't want the guy to accidently blast him or something.
Phantom had unintentionally decided for him on whether or not to comfort him as the ghost gave a small sigh and floated back up to the corner of the lab, ghostly tail trailing behind him. The ghost simply stared at the little corner, trying to look at anywhere, but his human half.
Fenton mentally sighed and prepared himself once more to continue this conversation. It may have been morbid, but so everything else in their life. They were two halves of a whole halfa after all talking to each other in the lab basement with equipment that could tear them apart "molecule by molecule" so to speak. In the back of his mind, Fenton realized that while talking to his other half that happened to be a ghost was a strange this wasn't even one of his weirdest moments of his life.
He couldn't decide if that was amusing or depressing.
Shaking his head to get rid of the weird train of thought, he looked back at his ghost half with his best 'calm' expression. "So…what you're saying is that Dan only exists because I had wanted to die?" Phantom turned and looked down at Danny then nodded solemnly before looking at one of the walls.
"That's… disturbing." Another thought occurred to him. "But wait, why did you become evil, then?" For a moment, Fenton thought the ghost hadn't heard him. Phantom had stayed in his place midair, and looked at the walls with unseeing eyes. The only indication that the human saw that Phantom had heard him was the slight furrow of his snow white eyebrows.
After a long moment, the ghost spoke. "Tell me, what's the point about caring about other humans when you don't even care for yourself?" Fenton was slightly taken aback by the question. He answered immediately.
"Because it's the right thing to care, no matter what." Phantom let his gaze fall lazily to the human, but his sharp eyes contrasted to movement.
"Yet you still wanted to stop caring by ripping out your humanity." Phantom replied coldly. He pretended not to care as his saw his other half flinch. The ghost sighed looking up at the ceiling once more. "I think I became evil because I hated that I lost my purpose."
"Your obsession." Fenton gulped. "Me."
"Yes." Fenton found that he couldn't meet the ghost's gaze and looked down at the ground. "That and the fact that I had free rein once I stopped obsessing over you and started obsessing over power."
"That doesn't sound right." Phantom looked sharply to his other half to find he was staring at the floor with a thoughtful look on his face.
"What doesn't sound right?" Fenton shifted awkwardly at the ghost's intense gaze. He sighed and answered.
"Dan obsessing over power. Yeah, he wanted control of everything, but he seemed to be wanting everyone to suffer more than wanting power." The ghost crossed his arms with a huff.
"Then what do you think his obsession was?" He expected the human to be unsure, or at the very least, slightly hesitant. What he did not expect was the suddenly dark expression to cross his face, his body to deflate, and his voice to be hallow like the ghost of a defeated war veteran.
"Making everyone miserable, alone, and depressed like his human half was." The human seemed to be unable to meet his gaze and looked at the ground. Phantom's core quenched at the site, and further constricted on itself when he realized the implications.
The ghost's eyes widened and, to Fenton's astonishment, started chuckling. The human looked up, concerned about the mental health of his other half. Carefully, as to not irritate his potentially insane ghost half, "Are you okay?"
Phantom shook his head and stopped chuckling, but a small, sad stayed on his face. "Yeah, I'm fine." He paused and shook and head again. "It's not funny, not really. I…I… just realized that even with you dead, I would have carried out your will."
As the ghost predicted, Fenton objected with passion with no sense of thinking things through, to the ghost's distain.
"I wouldn't have wanted you to kill everyone! That's-" Fenton stopped at the look Phantom gave him. He bit his lip, but didn't say anything more.
"Of course not… but's that's the irony, isn't it? With you gone, my morality goes too. That's one of the reasons why I would've stolen the Fruit-loop's ghost half. I would have become depressed because you were depressed, and like any good ghost, a violent death, which if getting ejected from a human via claws is not violent, I don't know what is, means they're more vengeful." Phantom huffed. "So to put it in perspective, yes I would have killed everyone because of you if only because I would have been completely miserable as well with no human morality to keep that misery in check."
Fenton tried to wrap his brain about what his ghost half just told him. If he let himself get too depressed would that mean his ghost half would turn evil? What is the sense of morality in ghosts? The Dairy King helped him when he was stuck at Vlad's, but then again there were ghosts like Skulker as well. Are ghost's morality based on their previous human lives, or do they adapt to real life situations like humans do?
The human groaned. "Oww.. my brain hurts…" Fenton resisted glaring at his ghost half when he heard him snort. The human half closed his eyes and sighed, thinking about the topic that started the morality tirade. "So, you won't go against me unless I want to die, right?" The ghost nodded solemnly, previous humor gone.
"Even then I killed you because of your will." He smiled. "I want to make sure you can live your life, Fenton. If I'm a part of it, and if these powers can help…" He looked at his hands, clenching them before releasing the tension with a sigh. "Who am I to complain?"
They stood/floated there in silence, each lost in their own little worlds. Once he thought it was clear that the conversation was stopping for the time being, Phantom had started floating around the lab again. This time he kicked one of his legs slightly every few seconds, creating a small burst of speed. As Fenton watched him, he imagined the ghost would fit perfectly in the middle of a lake, floating lazily in circles on the crystal clear shores like he did around the pearly white walls of the lab.
After a moment, the human half spoke again. "So there hasn't been a time where you've… I mean our ghost instincts wanted to take over? Because it sounded like to me that you aren't too entirely happy that you're obsessing over me."
"Well, of course there have been times where ghost instincts have taken over!" Fenton realized the ghost was probably rolling his eyes at him, judging by his tone. "Every time our eyes flash green when we're in our human form. Learning the ghostly wail to save ourselves. To name a few."
Fenton shook his head, but then realizing the ghost probably couldn't see him, he answered. "No, I mean has there been times where the ghost part of you has wanted to do things that I haven't wanted to do? Because, you're really just our ghost instincts, right?" What was Phantom, anyway? The thought hadn't really occurred to the human half before that moment. Was Phantom our ghost instincts or was he simply a ghost version of ourselves that came from the accident? The idea kind of disturbed him. Phantom huffed, and Fenton was pretty sure that the ghost would be pouting if it was in his nature.
"I don't really need to answer that do I?" At the human's 'yes, yes you do' he sighed. "Yes, I am our ghost instincts. And to answer your other question it's kind of obvious… I mean, look at the times where you repressed yourself from crushing an enemy. I mean... Look at Dash! We've taken revenge multiple times. Well, not since Pariah, but that's not the point. But right now I wish I could go crush the bully for everything he's done to us!" He stopped circling and gave the human a pointed look. "But of course, you wouldn't want me to hurt him, correct?"
"He's an innocent, and we shouldn't use our powers for revenge."
"Innocent?" Phantom scoffed incredulously. "Tell that to how many times we've been stuck in lockers, beat up, lung from the flag pole, given us swirlies if only to name a few things."
"And using our powers against him would be fair, how?" Fenton countered. "These powers have a purpose, Phantom."
The ghost nodded. "It's his just deserts for hurting us and other defenseless people."
"No. That's petty revenge!" In the back of his mind, he thought that Sam would approve of defending the innocent, even pricks like Dash. Fenton forced himself to calm down and look at the ghost with an even expression. "Besides, we let him hurt us, so he doesn't take his anger out on someone who can't take a punch, remember?"
The ghost sighed and started circling once more. "Yes, yes I know. And this is why you're the better half, Fenton." He said offhandingly. That had caught Fenton off-guard.
"Me?" Fenton asked.
"Yes, you can see beyond power and know the consequences and morality of your actions. I, on the other hand, simply want to protect you, the humanity, no matter what the cost." A shill ran down Fenton's spine at Phantom's seemingly casual comment. He felt a wave of gratitude towards Jazz for making sure their parents weren't home. He didn't know if Phantom's protection would extend to his family if they tried to blast at him.
He shook his head and returned to the conversation at hand. "It's not that hard to not want to use power after you know what it can do."
Phantom rolled his eyes. "For you maybe."
"Same person." Fenton pointed out. Phantom shook his head, denying the human.
"Not in this way. How do I explain?" He closed his eyes, trying to think of a way for his pure hearted human half to understand. After a moment, he found an answer. "Power… power is addictive. The only reason we haven't fallen to that trap is because you haven't wanted us to. Part of my instincts just want to crush everything in my path and take over Amity just so we wouldn't have to worry about anyone else ever again. However, I stop that urge because you don't want the power." Fenton's eyes widened to the size of saucers.
"Crush Amity? No, just no! Why would I crush my home! Besides, taking all that power" His insides froze as he felt those blazing red eyes of Dan burn into his mind. They would not become him. No. Never again. "… it's not me."
"You fear it."
The human growled, crossing his arms over his chest. "I don't fear power."
"Yes, yes you do." The ghost floated down from his place from the ceiling. He looked Fenton straight in the eyes, bright blue clashing with glowing green. "You wouldn't take power if it wasn't for me." Danny's ghost half's voice grew deeper and more hollowly as his speech continued. A chill ran down the human's spine before he could stop it. "We wouldn't be this far if we hadn't tried going beyond our limitations. You feared going beyond what we've known. I've seen it, the way you hope that one day your power will stop growing. Let me tell you now, it won't. I know that you're afraid that one day, that one damn day that you'll snap!" The ghost stepped away from Fenton, but his eyes drilled deeper into the human's skull even as the ghost's speech concluded. "And you won't be able to stop it. It'll be inevitable."
The ghost's voice ended on a cold hiss, colder than the chill from his ghost sense. In contrast, his eyes were blazing, flashing at random intervals during his speech. As Phantom clenched his fists to his side, Fenton couldn't help but see something else in that fiery gaze.
And suddenly, everything clicked.
"You are hurting." The realization hit Fenton like a ton of bricks. It was no wonder he wanted to see what was going on in his ghost half. Phantom didn't know himself! It was his ghost half that was terrified he was evil, not his human half. Phantom's furious gaze, only slightly simmered at Fenton's realization.
"What?" The human's eyes widened, his face turning into a frown.
"We separated so we could figure out if you were okay. You're not."
"What do you mean? I-… I'm fine!" His argument would have been more convincing if he hadn't stuttered. Phantom clenched his fists to his side. Fenton's frown deepened.
"No, you're not. We may be able to hide what we're thinking from everyone, except for Sam that is" He added as a side note. "But you can't hide it from your other half and right now, I think seeing Dan has hurt you."
"How would you get that conclusion from me yelling at you?" Phantom's voice started to rise a bit, the echo-like quality reverberating around the room.
"You're afraid to snap. You're just as afraid of our new powers as I am. You don't want to crush Amity. You would fear that you'll yourself in the process." Fenton could tell he struck a cod within his ghost half when he didn't answer him. He watched as Phantom clenched his fists tighter, staring at him, his mouth open as if he was about to say something, but couldn't. Suddenly the ghost looked away from him, but the tension in his body seemed to increase rather than dissipate.
"How couldn't I be?" His voice was barely a whisper. Fenton had to strain his ears in order to hear him. Phantom swallowed. "Dan… Dan wasn't… isn't you, Fenton. His evil comes from me, the ghost half. It would be my fault that he exists."
"I'm the one who chose to cheat on the C.A.T."
Phantom's head suddenly snapped up at his human half, eyes flashing. "Don't you dare blame this on yourself! You wouldn't have gotten the answers without my powers."
Fenton shook his head. "I wanted to cheat. I was afraid of the future. Using our powers was my decision. You said so yourself, your obsession is my will, and I wanted to cheat." To the human, it was all true. The ghost would have had no problems with the future, ghost had no instincts about the future for they had all eternity to 'live.' His human (teenage) mind on the other hand had been terrified about the future and what the C.A.T. test would have given him.
Phantom's fists clenched even tighter to his sides, ectoplasmic energy looked to be fighting to be released from his hands, his form slowly rising off the ground.
"Damn it, Fenton! You wouldn't have needed to cheat if you hadn't been ghost fighting!" The human smirked dryly.
"But you just said you don't want to fight ghosts. That's my obsession, apparently."
"You don't have an obsession. You're just determined with your stupid hero-complex. Either way, if I didn't come in to your life then you wouldn't have to worry about things like becoming evil! Damn it. It's our ghost half's fault! Me! Danny Phantom!" The ghost's eye's flashed with his confession. At this point, he floated high enough until he was almost a head taller than his human counterpart. The ghost's eyes, glared at his human half with such an intensity that it took all Fenton's willpower to keep his the ghost's gaze as he said his next words.
The human took a breath and stated calmly to the seething ghost. "Phantom didn't exist when Fenton went into the portal." Phantom's intense look diminished as he realized what his human half said. Fenton continued before the ghost could give a retort. "Look, no matter what way we put it, I was the one who went into the portal, creating you, and creating this situation. We're a halfa because I'm too clumsy for my own good." Phantom snorted dryly. Fenton smiled before becoming serious again. "Dan is both our faults, Phantom. Don't take all the blame for yourself. I might start thinking you do have a hero-complex."
Phantom stared at his human half, thinking about his words for a moment. Fenton could practically see the anger and self-loathing drip away from him, leaving the ghost bare. With what emotions? Fear. Pain. The self-loathing was still there, Fenton realized, at least a little bit, but mostly he held a pensive, shaky look. A look that told anyone and everyone that one wrong move could set him off.
This look slowly melted away as well, leaving a guarded expression that Fenton couldn't read.
It was after that roller-coaster of emotions that Phantom spoke up once more. "You know... I know another reason why Dan became evil." Fenton cocked his head to the side, urging him to continue. "Well, he didn't have his human half to keep him from hating himself. From feeling like he needed to prove that he wasn't worthless from only being a half. Like he needed to prove himself to show that his misery wasn't just his own."
Fenton's eyes' widened, but he didn't say anything in fear of setting off the ghost again. The human half looked up at the doorway nervously, hoping his family wouldn't come down and see the disgruntled ghost.
Phantom spoke up again, suddenly. "Fenton, no matter what has happened, I like the situation we're in. Not now at the very moment, I kind of want to become a whole halfa again soon," He smirked, and Fenton could tell that his ghost half was starting to feel better. Phantom looked at the Fenton Catcher as his smirk turned into a small smile. "But with our half-life overall? I'm content."
"Really?" Phantom nodded.
"Well, I do wish we could talk to our parents about this eventually, not now of course!" He said quickly, seeing the distressed look appear on the human's face. "But soon. I wi-" He stopped himself before Desiree came and twisted their wish again. Stupid ghost always showed up at the worst of times. "I want to get more sleep, and I don't like that we're almost failing our classes, but I don't want to reveal our secret either. We have great friends and our sister supports us for what we are…" He sighed. "So, with what we have, I'm content."
"So….You don't mind being stuck with plain, old Danny Fenton?" The ghost smirked.
"Only if you don't mind being stuck with an obsessive Danny Phantom." Fenton rolled his eyes. "Come on, we better get back together before our parents get home." He held out his hand "We don't particularly want to explain why the infamous Danny Phantom is hanging around their house." They flinched simultaneously, thinking about being torn apart 'molecule by molecule' by their overly enthusiastic parents.
"That means you have to take my hand."
"I don't like you like that."
"Fenton!" The human huffed.
"Fine. But why can't we just grab the Ghost Catcher and put it over us? Or better yet, why not just see if overshadowing works!" Phantom crossed his arms over his chest and glared at his human half. He stuck up one finger.
"One, because I can't hold the thing and put it over us at the same time." He stuck up a second finger. "Two, if I just overshadow you, we won't be whole halfa, just a ghost overshadowing a human."
"But overshadowing worked last time." He retorted, thinking about how they accidently flew into the Fenton Catcher when it was first invented. Phantom sighed at the human, his arms going down to his side.
"I wasn't as powerful as a presence last time." The ghost held out his hand impatiently, and Fenton looked bemused as he saw the growing tick of annoyance on the ghost's head. "Now take my hand before I throw us in, but with you by the collar." Fenton threw up his hands in mock surrender.
"Alright! Alright!" He smirked. "But I'm not taking you to the next dance."
"Wouldn't dream of it, Prince Charming." The ghost said rolling his eyes. Phantom then copied his other half's mischievous smirk. "Besides, I'm too pure for you."
"Of course you are, you are Snow White after all." The human poked at the ghost's bangs which swayed at bit from his touch. Phantom did not look amused.
"That was bad pun, even for us, Fenton."
"Oh, come on! That was a good one!" The human protested indigently. "Besides when will we ever get another chance to banter with ourselves, again?"
"Just take my hand."
Before the ghost could kill him any random laser eye powers that he might have developed just to spite the human, Fenton took the ghost's gloved hand, feeling the unmistakable coolness underneath. Instead of being creeped out by the unnatural cold, Fenton relaxed at the touch. Underneath the glove, he could feel the familiar buzz of ectoplasmic energy running in the ghost's body.
It took a moment for the human to realize the emptiness he felt inside of him, right where the place where he should have been able to reach and overwhelm him in order to "go ghost." He supposed the emptiness was there the entire time, but he didn't even notice it until he felt what he was missing. It was odd, Fenton supposed, that he missed being half dead, but he knew that he couldn't exactly go on living feeling so empty all the time. The deep cold in his heart made him feel whole, or as whole as a halfa could get. With a single touch from his ghost half, Fenton realized how much he missed his ghost powers, despite the trouble they caused him.
"I wonder..." The whisper shook the human half from his musings. His eyes widened in shock as he realized that the ghost was having a similar feeling of awe as he did.
"You wonder what?" Apparently, Phantom had not meant to speak out loud, for he looked a bit startled at the human's voice. He shook his head.
"Phantom, we've already talked this much," Fenton reasoned. The human unconsciously tightened his grip on his other half's hand. "The least you can do is finish your thoughts. Don't leave me hanging."
Phantom snorted dryly, much to the distain of Fenton. "We'll be the same person soon anyways, why does it matter?"
"Because, you matter. Yeah, we might become whole soon, but it's not the same as you telling me face to face." When his ghost half didn't respond, Fenton frowned and said in a softer tone. "Come on Phantom. Tell me." His ghost half didn't say anything for a moment, merely looking at his feet with closed eyes. When he did finally speak, Fenton had to strain his ears to hear Phantom's unusually soft response.
"I was just thinking that our alternate ghost form must have felt this…" Phantom scrunched his eyebrows. The ghost clenched his hand tighter over his human half, trying to find the words to describe the weird feeling in his core. Fenton gave him a soft look.
"Emptiness?" Fenton offered. He matched his other half's soft voice.
"Yes, that sounds right." The ghost whispered to himself. "Emptiness." Fenton watched as the ghost looked at the ceiling, organizing his thoughts. Green eyes closed, shutting the world out. Their owner's only connection to the world was the warmth of his human half and the ache that drilled in his core.
Fenton waited patiently for his ghost half to continue. After all, he was the reason why they were there as two halves. His ghost half needed these moments to think. Even if he needed to shut out the entire world to do it, even if they needed to separate for his ghost half to understand that he was not evil, they would.
And Fenton would take all the time in the world to do it.
Phantom didn't even open his eyes when he spoke again. "I must have felt so alone when you had Vlad reject me that I couldn't help but take Plasmius, just to get away from it."
"So you would filled himself up with a bowl of the Fruitloop to feel complete?" The weird feeling in his heart felt odd, but he didn't know if he would as far as to be part Plasmius. Then again, he was the human half, so he would say that he wouldn't go as far as to take part of some else's soul? The idea disturbed him.
Phantom sighed loudly, startling Fenton. "Who knows? Maybe we're just overthinking this and too focused on what could have happened instead of what is happening right now." Fenton raised an eyebrow.
"You're just saying that because you have no sense of the future." Phantom frowned at his human half.
"Not true, I sense that if we don't get together back soon, we'll be in a heap of trouble." Fenton scrunched his eyebrows.
"Why do you say that?"
"Danny? Where are you?" Oh, the universe loved messing with Danny, didn't it?
At the sound of their mom's voice, the two stared wide eyed at each other. Their eyes widened even further when the heard the rattling of the door knob from upstairs. Panicking, Phantom roughly gripped Fenton's hand and, ignoring his yelp, flew quickly into the Fenton Catcher, once again becoming a whole halfa as they flew into the green abyss.
However, the moment before they came together, a wide smile enveloped Phantom's face as he silently thanked his human half for helping him in his time of distress.
Please don't be in ghost form! Please don't be in ghost form! Jazz Fenton followed her mother frantically down the stairs, her heart beating almost as fast as the moment she found Dan pretending to be Danny.
After going from random place to wherever Jazz could think of for the last couple hours, her parents decided that they had had enough and wanted to come home. Unfortunately for the Fenton children, that meant that whatever time that Danny had wanted alone would be cut short without warning.
With the Nasty Burger still destroyed, Sam and Tucker still at their C.A.T. test, and his room empty, Jazz only hoped her little brother had the sense to be flying invisibly or something rather than be in the lab where their parents could potentially find him, and do who knows what to him.
The only consolation was that their dad was going out to get fudge instead of blabbering about ghosts in the house.
"Danny, Honey, you down here?" Jazz watched in panic as her mother reach the lab itself and hoped to whatever deity was out there that her brother's secret would stay that, a secret. "Oh, there you are! You had us worried!"
"Danny!" Jazz ran the rest of the way down the stairs, almost tripping at the bottom step. She looked around the lab (her mother looked at her with confused expression) only to find a perfectly human (looking) Danny moving the Fenton Catcher to the corner of the lab, a slightly startled expression on his face.
Jazz stored this scene in her head for later (Why did he have the Fenton Catcher out?), and outwardly relaxed into a relieved smile. Danny blinked.
"Hi, I was just cleaning a bit down here, so Dad won't get mad at me for not doing my chores, you know?" His voice trailed off at the end, and Jazz had to resist the urge to facepalm. Clean? Really? That was the best he could come up with?
It was a wonder his secret hadn't been found out yet.
To Jazz's surprise, Maddie smiled, accepting the obvious lie. "That's great, Danny, but shouldn't you be studying for your make-up C.A.T?" Danny flinched and put down the Fenton Catcher, slight panic on his face.
"You know?" Their mother nodded.
"Mr. Lancer called us. While I'm not happy that you didn't return the answers right away," The teen flinched again. "Let me finish." She walked up to Danny, a soft smile on her face. "You did the right thing in the end. I'm proud of you, Danny." At this, Maddie brought her arms around her son and gave him a hug. Jazz watched as he froze, slight guilt in his eyes, before relaxing in his mother's arms. Her little brother closed his eyes, and Jazz could see a small smile form on his lips.
"Thanks, Mom… You don't know what it means for me for you to say that." They hugged for a moment enjoying the other's presence before Danny started shifting uncomfortably.
Danny looked up from the hug. "Hey, Mom?" Their mother hummed in recognition. "Where's Dad?" Maddie loosened the hug and looked down at her son with a small frown.
"Well, he should be out getting the fudge..." Something rang wrong in Jazz's head. She interjected.
"Do you really think that's the best idea? Remember what happened last time?" The three simultaneously winced.
"Now, your Father may be excitable but it doesn't mean-"
"He almost bought out the entire store last time."
Maddie sighed. "I should go find your father, shouldn't I?" Jazz nodded.
"I think that's for the best." Their mother smiled at the two of them and kissed Danny's forehead with a small peck, much to his protest. She laughed then walked up the steps to the ground floor, her children following behind her.
As Maddie went to get something from the upstairs, the two sat themselves on the couch. Jazz had a book in her hand while Danny simply looked at the ceiling, a slightly dazed expression on his face. Jazz looked towards her brother and frowned at his expression, but before she could comment, their mother came barreling down the steps stashing a mini ecto-gun in her purse.
She looked up at the two of them. "You two be good, okay?"
Jazz rolled her eyes and put down her book, momentarily forgetting about Danny. "Mom, I'm practically an adult. There's no need to chastise me about behavioral issues when I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself and Danny."
Said boy stated protesting. He sat up from his previous position. "Hey! What about me? I'm fourteen, you know!"
Jaz huffed. "Yes, but you are still a child, and as your older sister, it's my responsibility to take care of you, okay?"
Before the argument could get too out of hand (and before their father could buy all the fudge at the local store), their mother interrupted the two of them. "Jazz, you're in charge while I'm gone." She looked towards her son. "Danny, no going out until after your CAT make-up exam next week. That's your punishment for almost cheating. Love you two! See you later hopefully with only a slightly more than average amount of fudge!" Before Danny could even protest, their mother was nearly flying out the door, yelling about the dangers of too much fudge.
The two sat together on the couch in complete silence. After a fit of sputtering and growling like a small child, Danny laid back on the couch with a huff, muttering about the injustice of telling the truth. Jazz shook her head with a small sigh, but a smile still on her face. She was about to look back at her book when she saw her little brother's expression once more.
His eyes were slightly dazed again like he was somewhere else, his eyes furrowed as if in deep thought. Jazz saw that his muscles were tense. He tapped a hand against his outstretched thigh in rapid succession, the other hand on the back of his neck in an almost death grip. Jazz frowned.
"Hey, little bro, you okay?" He looked up her, expression slightly startled as if he forgot where he was. He blinked, trying to process what she said before answering.
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Just thinking."
"Is there something you want to talk about?" To her surprise, Danny smiled mysteriously, looking slightly amused before shaking his head with a 'no' and returned to his contemplative position this time closing his bright blue eyes. She mentally stored his reaction to analyze for a later date.
Instead of their usual bickering, continue to sit together in peace on the couch. Jazz stuck glances at Danny every once in a while, watching as he closed his eyes mused over… whatever he was thinking about.
Suddenly, her brother relaxed, the tension that she saw in his shoulders earlier, gone. In the corner of her eye she saw his blue eyes open and a small smile form on his face, probably unconsciously judging by the far out expression his eyes held.
That little smile had a secret though, one that had to do with his ghost half, no doubt, but for the life of her, Jazz couldn't figure it out. It had the kind of quirk that held a mysterious quality that practically announced that he knew something that she doesn't know.
But, if he wanted to tell her, he would. Jazz already knew about his biggest secret. It just wasn't her place to go asking everything about him in one day. Of course, she would eventually ask. It was her duty as a big sister and future psychologist after all.
But for the moment, Jazz was content. Danny looked almost happy as he smiled, so she supposed that instead of pushing the matter, she would let it go for the moment.
And so the two relaxed on the Fenton household couch, enjoying the rare serenity that the rest of the day had. As Jazz read her book, she looked on amusingly as her little brother fell asleep on couch's arm. The boy laid on his back, one hand flinging over side of the couch while the other wrapped haphazardly over his face. Somehow one of his legs settled to the top of the couch, stuck on the plush of the family's couch.
Jazz smiled at the little scene, and her smile grew when she saw the small smile on her little brother's face. If she was honest with herself, the older girl thought she would have to help Danny with nightmares about his evil self. She might have to later, she supposed, but at the moment, Danny seemed… fine. Happy even.
Whatever, he did in that time they were gone, whatever he had thought through, did him well. She would talk to him later, of course, but for now...
The psychologist-to-be bookmarked her page, and strode out of the room and up the stairs, smile gracing her lips.
For now, she would let her brother have his moment of peace and let him sleep. After all, his human half needed it, and why deny the hero what little peace he could find?