Actions

Work Header

Evanescent Signs

Chapter Text

"Class is boring and life hates me," Dash Baxter summarized.

"Did you get all that from staring at your locker wall?" Kwan Tao responded, amused.

"No, but my fractured shoulder seems to be sending me a lot of mixed signals."

"You sure it's not your massive ego that's the issue here?"

Dash's eyes turned away from the small mirror in the back of his locker to glare at his best friend. Used to these looks, Kwan snickered and shut the blonde jock's locker door before he could turn around to check the mirror again.

"Dash, you look fine," Kwan reassured, pulling his friend into the crowed hallway traffic by his good arm. "You're lucky that fall caused so little damage. It could have been much worse."

"Much worse?" Dash gasped, appalled by his friend's lack of situational awareness. "I'm out for the season, Kwan. That's four months of games and six months of training during my sophomore year of high school. We just started out and I'm already benched. Do you know how bad that's going to look to colleges and scouters?"

Kwan eyed his best friend. Dash's scarred lips were pressed tight and his eyebrows furrowed together in worry. Although he wanted to comfort the blond somehow, Kwan couldn't help but take a moment to recognize how much Dash had grown in the past year. Normally the jock would have been more worried about the scars on his face rather than his ability to throw a football, but time changes a lot of people.

"It was a ghost related accident, dude. Coach understands."

"Yeah, but out of state scouters won't," Dash worried. The town of Amity Park had quickly gotten over the fact the rest of the world thinks they're crazy, but claiming they were overrun by ghosts and needed government aid during the Pariah Dark incident and being attacked by a giant plant ghost caused relationships to sour even farther. It'd be extremely hard for someone like Dash to get a football scholarship out of state if adults would look at the location on his resume and throw it away without a second glance. He needed to be noticed before it was too late.

"Dash, chill. You've got two more years," Kwan said, rubbing his friend's back to ease his stress. "As long as you leave the ghost battles to Phantom from now on, you'll be fine."

Dash blushed and scratched his cheek as him and Kwan stepped through the doorway to their 5th period class. It wasn't in the newspaper because no one but him and Kwan were there, but when a large ghost with a flaming mohawk attacked downtown yesterday, Dash jumped in front of a falling light post to save a seven year old girl without thinking of the consequences.

"I just- well, I didn't see Phantom anywhere and I just couldn't let that kid get hit."

Kwan smiled, swelling with pride. "You did a good thing, man. Phantom would be proud." The blond wasn't so sure about that, it was just some stupid light post after all, but the thought itself made him grin like an idiot.

The classroom was set up with lab tables when they walked in, something that surprised the two jocks as they took their seats near the front. It wasn't very often they did labs in their chemistry class, as ironic as that may be, because their teacher seemed to enjoy children as much as he enjoyed brushing his teeth- which he obviously didn't enjoy doing if his yellow canines were any indication.

Dash winced as his sling was jostled and felt a cut on his elbow rip open, but Kwan helped him adjust in his seat without any other incident. The asian teen suddenly eyed the discolored test tubes in front of him.

"Were these even washed this year?"

"Were these even washed last year?" Dash said, pretending to gag at the rust and yellow substances coating the 'white' equipment. "That's got to be a safety hazard or something."

"It probably is, but you two better not say anything to ruin this lecture," Valerie hissed from the next table over where she sat with her assigned group: Mikey, Star, and Nathan. "I heard Mr. Trenton got permission to examine ectoplasm for educational purposes this week. If you two mess this up, I will personally see to it that you're expelled."

Kwan whistled. "Jesus, Val. You've always been a bit crazy about ghosts, but that's a little much."

The African American teen frowned and crossed her arms. "You guys don't understand. Mr. Trenton had to personally ask the GIW for a sample. This is a huge deal."

Mikey nodded from his seat next to her, already going through the process of reading through the lesson plan and lecture of the day. "She's not joking! It says right here that we're actually going to be able to see ghost blood up close and personal today."

"Nobody asked you, dweeb," Dash muttered, mostly out of habit. Mikey sent him an unimpressed look.

Kwan suddenly made a disgusted face and glared at the front of the room where their teacher was moving around a giant metal container.

"Don't you think it's a little gross that the GIW is giving us ghost blood? Like, whose blood is it? How did they get it?"

Valerie huffed and turned back to her station. "Who cares. A ghost is a ghost. It's not like it hurt them when it was extracted."

"Still," Kwan muttered, definitely not looking forward to this lesson. There was something odd about the way humans seemed to treat the existence of ghosts that just churned his stomach.

The rest of the class piled in as the bell rang, the last student racing through the door just as the teacher was about to close it. Fenton was usually late and Dash and Kwan rolled their eyes as the small teen shuffled quickly to his seat. Mr. Trenton locked the door- as was required in order to launch a ghost shield if an attack took place- and eagerly turned to his students.

"This, right here- take in this moment, kids," he whispered to the quiet classroom. "This is the moment that will change your life." Dash heard Fenton ask his friends what was going on before their teacher started again.

"It took several months to get permission, but after piles of rigorous paperwork I was able to legally obtain a sample of ectoplasm for us to examine today." Mr. Trenton paused as a hand was raised. "Yes?"

"Where did you get it from?" Sam Manson asked, her tone flat, but her eyes holding a very different expression.

Mr. Trenton smiled. "The GIW so graciously offered us one of their old experimental pieces for us to work with," he explained. If anything, Sam looked more stiff than before. "If it's safety you're concerned about then have no fear, Ms. Manson. The GIW insisted that the safety of you students is their top priority and provided us with anti-ectoplasm gloves and goggles for the procedure. We're perfectly safe as long as we don't touch the sample."

Mikey raised his hand. "What happens if we touch it?"

"Ectoplasm is like acid to humans, so it will quite simply burn like hell, Mr. Driscoll."

"Cool," whispered more than half the class.

Mr. Trenton moved behind the metal container in the center of the room and clicked the lid to unlock it. When the class heard the noise, they eagerly leaned forward. Dash moved to sit up as well, attempting to see more and get closer to the action, but only succeeded in ripping his cuts open again. Kwan sent him a concerned look as the blond jock sank into his seat again to fix his bandages.

"Now," Mr. Trenton announced, using special anti-ectoplasm tongs to reach in and remove the sample, "here is what a chunk of raw ectoplasm looks like." The hardened blob was pulsating so intently with green light that the students had to squint behind their goggles to see it at first. "Don't worry, the glow will fade after a moment, it's just adjusting to the elements in the air."

Kwan wasn't sure what to make of the chuck of green before him, but for some reason he really wanted that thing to go back in the metal case. It just felt wrong. Like, really wrong. The jock heard someone make retching sounds from the back of the class so at least he wasn't the only one feeling this way.

"This, ladies and gentlemen, is the raw ectoplasmic core of a ghost," Mr. Trenton grinned, proudly, setting the sample down on a metal tray. "And what the GIW have been studying recently is the way it reacts to living tissue."

The teacher reached underneath his desk to pull out a vile of red liquid. "The Fentons, as you may know, have created many working weapons to fight against ectoplasm, but something only the GIW have permission to study is the reaction of blood and ectoplasm," he grinned, holding up the vial. "This is a tube of animal blood, recently extracted and very much alive and warm, the complete opposite of ectoplasm, which aids in the continued existence of the dead."

Mr. Trenton uncorked the tube. "Human blood is said to have too great of a reaction, so animal blood was suggested by the GIW to use as an example," he explained as he started to tip the bottle over the sample. "All we have to do is wait for-"

One minute the teacher was pouring a glass tube of blood onto the green mass, then suddenly the tube was shattered on the ground and a student held the raised wrist of Mr. Trenton. It happened faster than anyone could follow.

Mr. Trenton jerked his hand in shock, but was greatly angered when he couldn't budge it. "Daniel Fenton, unhand me this instance! What do you think you're doing?"

Danny stood clutching his teachers wrist with such a force that even the students in the back of the class could see his hand shaking. He was small compared to the forty seven year old adult before him, but didn't seem to care about the difference in strength or power. The class held their breath as Danny simply stood there, watching, until all the animal blood rushed down the drain in the classroom floor.

"Saving a life," he said, finally.

"Excuse me?" the teacher cried, swelling with anger. The blood was gone and now the experiment was ruined.

Danny's eyes met the teachers as he lowered the man's fist to his side. "I said," he repeated louder, "I was saving a life." After a moment, he added, "and your job by default."

"This-this is uncalled for! In all my years of teaching I have never had a student sabotage an experiment like you just did! Was it jealousy?" he demanded, finally freeing himself from the teen's grasp and moving to grab his student's shoulder. "Did your parents put you up to this because they are unable to research such a reaction?"

The teenager looked into the eyes of his superior. "What happens when you mix two elements that are completely incompatible in every way?" he asked, calmly.

"I do not care, Mr. Fenton. You had absolutely no right-"

"Mikey," Danny interrupted, calling out to his classmate. "What happens when you mix two elements that are completely incompatible in every way?"

Put on the spot, the red-haired male was suddenly extremely thankful he knew the answer to such a question. "Um, an antagonistic reaction, correct?"

Danny nodded. "And what do antagonistic reactions release?"

Mikey's eyes widened, suddenly following along. "Gas."

The class turned to their teacher who rolled his eyes. "You don't think I know that already? I explained it to you, as long as we don't touch the ectoplasm, not even the gas from the reaction can hurt us. The GIW have done experiments on this before."

"Yes," Danny responded, pointing backwards at Dash. "But they've never done experiments in the same room as someone who's injured."

Everyone turned to Dash who looked down at his own shoulder in confusion. Danny continued, "The GIW gave you a ghost core, the most concentrated ectoplasm out there. When blood and ectoplasm mix, it sets of a serious of bright flashes and gas as a response to the two opposing elements attempting to coexist in the same space."

The teen walked towards the blond jock who could only gaze up at him in surprise. "The gas can harmlessly bounce off the human skin if someone is healthy, but if someone's blood is out in the open for the ectoplasm to latch into," Danny explained as he lifted Dash's bad arm gently to show everyone the bleeding cuts on it, "you can burn them from the inside out."

The class and teacher were silent as Danny approached Mr. Trenton again. "Don't mess with something you don't understand," Danny warned, narrowing his eyes at the adult before him. "The GIW don't understand blood and ectoplasm yet so why would you think, even for a second, that a high school chemistry teacher would?"

It took a while for class to get started after that.

Dash spent the rest of the day in a daze. Kwan and him split after 5th period and could only meet up again after school before football practice, or in Dash's case sitting on the bench for three hours, so his best friend had no idea how his close brush with death was affecting the blond.

Kwan took one look at his friend after 7th and pulled him into a hug. "I could have died," Dash mumbled into the shoulder of Kwan's jacket, wide-eyed. "If Fenton hadn't stopped him, our teacher would have killed me."

The asian male squeezed his friend once more, being mindful of his fractured arm, before letting go. "I know, dude. I know."

Dash shook his head. "No, you don't get it! I could have died, Kwan. Like, been turned into a ghost and stuff, and it wouldn't have even been painless either- burned alive holy fuck man."

"But it didn't happen. Fenton saved you and you're all right. You're not a ghost, I promise, although your Phantom-like tendencies might show up again if any little girls need saving from light posts," Kwan teased, attempting to cheer up the panicked jock.

A small gasp from behind them caught their attention. Danny Fenton stood there clutching something in his hands. "That was you?" he asked, eyes wide. "The little girl that almost got hit Tuesday- you're the one that saved her?"

Dash was unsure what to say now that he was confronted by the kid who saved his life. Blurt out a thank you for earlier? Answer the question about the girl? Ask how Danny knew any of these things- the girl and the ectoplasm? He settled for stuttering out, "W-what? I, uh, yeah. It was nothing."

Danny shook his head. "That girl came running back into the center of the battle to tell everyone that a blonde man saved her. She was so happy, Dash, thank you."

Before the jocks could shake their heads and respond with how thankful they were Danny saved Dash's life, the smaller teen held out his hand. "Here."

Confused, Kwan excepted the object since Dash only had one good arm. "Jesus, it's cold," he cried, shivering from the tiny crystal in his palm.

"It's a healing remedy," Danny explained, softly. "It's, um, a special one so don't tell anybody about it."

"This thing?" Dash questioned, gazing at the beautifully crafted blue diamond. "It looks like a pretty piece of jewelry.

Danny grinned. Were his eyes always that blue? "Right, well, it's a ghost type crystal, and it's not made out of harmful ectoplasm so I've heard its supposed to help humans heal faster. Just keep it on your arm for a few days and you'll be back throwing game winning passes in less than a week," Danny smiled, sheepishly.

The blond gaped at this small, wonderful boy he used to bully. His attitude was bashful and playful compared to the calm anger he exhibited in the classroom earlier, and Dash didn't know which personality was the real him.

"You're joking," Dash breathed. Danny grinned and waved goodbye quickly, attempting to exit as quickly as he usually enters classrooms. Dash quickly blurted out "Thanks!" before the teen disappeared around the corner of the school building, and although he was embarrassed, the jock secretly hoped Fenton heard him.

"Wow," Kwan muttered, running the crystal over his palm. "That kid really is something."

Thinking back to all the times they pushed him around Freshmen year and made his life miserable, Dash honestly wondered why Danny would even care enough about him to not only save his life, but his career as well. The two stood there for several seconds.

"Nice people are terrifying, Kwan," Dash finally whispered.

Chapter Text

"Daddy!"

Smiling at the sight of a flying bundle of pink tutu, the man reached his arms out to catch the screaming child. Setting her on his hip, he carefully brushed away a sparkling boa and picked purple feathers out of the curls of the giggling girl's hair. The child attempted to hide her face in his shoulder.

Now that just wouldn't do.

Making sure his previous frown from work had turned into a big smile, he blew softly on her beautiful brown cheek, creating loud raspberry sounds and succeeding in tricking the little girl to lift her head as she tumbled into fits of laughter.

"Daddy, no, that tickles!"

Keith grinned at his daughter's angry pout. "Aw, but pumpkin, you're just too cute."

The little girl's eyes widen. "That don' mean you get to eat me."

The father frowned in mock hurt, putting the hand not holding his daughter over his heart. "Not even a nibble?"

"No, Daddy! No nibbles!" she cried, angrily wagging her finger in front of Keith's face. He nipped at her hand in retaliation, causing the child to pull her precious finger away fast and jump off her father.

"Mommy, mommy, mommy, Daddy's tryin' eat me 'gain."

A beautiful woman with dark brown skin and long curly hair peeked through the doorway of the kitchen. Her expression was less than amused. "Keith, if I get another call from the school teacher questioning if we're a family of cannibals, I will contact your mother," his wife threaten, only half serious.

The man smiled and circled his arms around his wife. "Did she really ask that?" he asked, wondering if the teachers at school truly thought that.

"No, but it was heavily implied."

He snickered at her response and buried his nose into her hair. The woman froze, feeling his tensing muscles, and looked back at her husband. "How was work?"

Keith sucked in a deep breath, messing up his wife's bun and tickling her ear. "God, Talia, I don't know," he whispered. "We thought the anti-ecto sprays would work, but they aren't. Three deaths this time- a collapsed bridge due to a rampaging ghost made entirely of fire." His arms tightened around her. "They were just kids, no older than our Hannah, and I can't get the looks of the family's faces out of my head-"

"DADDY!"

Husband and wife schooled their expressions as their six year old daughter ran into the kitchen again. "Hey sugar," Keith grinned, moving to scoop her up and allow his wife to finish preparing dinner. "Did you have a good day? Tell me all about it."

"You won' believe it. I saw Phantom today!"

Keith concealed his cringe, aware of his wife pointed look. "Wow, that's amazing, Hannah. And where exactly did you see him?"

Hannah gave her father the most unimpressed look. "The TV, Daddy."

"Right, silly me." Keith stuck out his tongue and the child giggled.

"There was a big bad fire man and Phantom swooped in and froze him so he couldn' hurt nobody anymore," she squealed, excitedly. "He was savin' everyone, like you Daddy."

This time, the man couldn't withhold his wince. "That's really awesome, pumpkin."

The girl nodded, seriously. "Life is 'mportant, even to the ghosties who don' have it no more." She smiled up at her father. "Phantom says all life is good, Daddy."

Keith really didn't know what to say.

Hannah stared at her father's odd expression and decided that he must be jealous. Oops, time to fix that. She crawled over the seats at the kitchen table and maneuvered herself to fit in his lap. A small hand poked his smooth cheek.

"But don' worry, Daddy. You always be my favorite superhero."

Despite himself, the father melted and squeezed his daughter tightly, ignoring any thoughts of ghosts and dead children in favor of cherishing his family.

"Alright," Talia announced, suddenly appearing behind both of them. "Momma wants in on this too. Come here." The strong woman reached over the back of the chair to cradle both her husband and her daughter, forcing all of them together in a massive hug.

"Momma, you squishing me," the girl laughed.

Keith quietly took in the sight of his beautiful girls and was reminded of his reason to fight.

Tomorrow would be a better day at work.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

It wasn't.

As soon as Keith put on his white suit and dark glasses, the emergency alarm system of the GIW headquarters sounded, demanding that all available agents report to Amity's newly built playpark. The agents currently there needed backup.

Keith raced to his partner, Octavio. "What's going on?" he screamed, following the man to their vehicle.

"Agent K!" Agent O yelled over the siren, surprised. "I thought you took today off to spend time with your family." After yesterdays tragic events that resulted in the death of three children, several GIW agents requested time off to visit the people they loved.

Agent K shook his head, thinking of the epiphany he had last night. "No, I want make sure nothing like yesterday ever happens again. If it means protecting the people I love, I'll do this job until the day I die."

His partner howled with laughter. "You've always been the dramatic type, K. Let's just focus on staying alive right now. I heard not even Agent L was able to take down this ghost!"

K frowned. If he and Agent O were sophomores in the hierarchy of the GIW, Agent L was a senior. He had the most training out of all the cadets, the most experience, and the latest technological advantages. What kind of ghost could get away from someone like him? Agent K was suddenly filled with dread.

"Is it Phantom?" he asked.

Agent O shook his head as he jumped into their government issued car, and K sighed in relief. As much as he hated all ghosts for the death and pain they caused, fighting against the one ghost his daughter seemed to love always drove a stake through his heart.

But if Phantom, one of the most powerful ghosts of Amity Park, wasn't causing the GIW to call for backup, what kind of monster was?

Apparently a giant green ball of fire.

Agent O drove as fast as the notorious Jack Fenton so they arrived at the park in under a minute. Within seconds of stepping out of their car, both agents were bombarded with the most horrifying and heart wrenching scream, forcing them to retreat behind a rock and clutch their ears. Agent O quickly motioned for another agent hiding near them for some ear plugs. Soon the screaming was a dull roar, and the agents were briefed about the situation.

"It came out of nowhere suddenly," one of the rookie's screamed to them. "One of the parents trapped over there called us when it appeared in the middle of the sandbox and started screaming its head off. She said it disguised itself as a kid and then freaked out for no apparent reason."

Keith took one look at the green fire and the trapped people under the playset, and was immediately reminded of the bridge from yesterday. No way was he letting that happen again. No one was going to lose their child today. "What do we need to do?" he yelled, noticing that the agents shooting at the entity were barely affecting it at all. "It seems anti-ecto resistant."

"It's because of all the fire! We're waiting on Agent L to get back. Our orders are to keep it away from the trapped humans for as long as possible. So far it's taken no interest, but that fire is preventing us from reaching them."

Agent K nodded before finally noticing the citizens of Amity Park several feet behind them. His eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "What do they think they're doing? Stay back!" he yelled, hoping the reporters and nosy civilians would stay at a safe distance.

The rookie shook his head. "Don't bother. People are so used to ghosts that they're not as hesitant to get close anymore. They think Phantom's going to swoop in and save the day if anything happens," he snorted, probably rolling his eyes behind his glasses. "As long as the reporters stay off our asses, I'm fine with them being there."

"They could get hurt," Agent O commented.

"Then let's make sure they don't."

A truck pulling up behind them caught their attention. Agent L in all his glory stepped out carrying a large metallic hose attached to the side of the truck. "Sorry, boys! Had to make a quick stop to get this baby," he cried, grinning like a child holding his favorite toy.

The agents eyed the hose. "Wait, is that...?" Agent K asked.

"Yep, it's our most powerful anti-ecto ray. It doesn't just mess with their senses, it splits their molecules," Agent L explained, excited to use the invention they typically don't bring out. "We don't have much of a choice with this ghost. The higher ups have ordered its immediate removal."

As far as Agent K knew, the GIW usually captured ghosts for research and then released them back into the Ghost Zone. Keith held no sympathy for ghosts, but he still had a sense of morality. "So we're basically killing it," he commented.

Every agent present looked at him. "Keith, it's already dead," Agent O answered, slowly.

Embarrassed, Agent K mumbled, "Right."

Still, as the GIW agents fired up the machine in the back of the truck and aimed the hose at the screaming ghost, he was reminded of his daughter's simple, childish words from this morning.

All life is good, Daddy.

Maybe ghosts didn't count since they were already dead, but Keith Davis couldn't help but feel a heavy weight settle at the bottom of his stomach the longer he stared at the ghost before him. It's disguise as a child was pretty good, but why did it look like it was crying?

"Wait- WAIT!" cried a panicked voice from behind them.

Agent K turned and was surprised at how close the crowd had gotten. He could hear their startled conversations now.

Oh my word, is that the same one as yesterday?

Susan, that ghost had actual flames. This one's green.

That's my daughter! My daughter's in there!

Mommy, I'm scared!

As you can see here, I'm directly in front of the scene where the GIW have resorted to using their old "death machine" in order to stop this ghost. Are they unable to handle the threat on their own? Or will Phantom-

The other agents let out annoyed hisses at being interrupted. They seemed to be able to ignore the crowd, and turned back to the machine and hose. Agent L was ordering them towards the back of the truck in order to remove the weapon while Agent O tried to grab Keith's arm to pull him over, but the man couldn't take his eyes off the teenager running through the crowd right towards them.

"Stop!" the teen screamed again, eyes wide and terrified, desperately trying to reach the GIW. The boy's bright blue eyes locked with Keith's brown ones before moving to the machine behind him. "Please, listen to me."

Maybe it was the desperation in the kid's voice or maybe it was just a product of his earlier hesitation, but Agent K immediately whipped around to turn off the key keeping the truck and the motor for the weapon running.

Agent L jumped back, stunned. "What the hell?" His other coworkers gave him similar looks of hatred and surprise.

"Just wait," Keith begged, pointing at the teen that was less than a few meters away.

Several of the GIW agents squinted. "Dude, is that the Fenton kid?" Agent O asked.

Daniel Fenton sure wasn't as popular as his parents and intelligent older sister, but the teen knew everyone in the town by name and for some odd reason everyone in town not only knew him, but adored him as well. Sometime in the past two years, his presence had become entirely welcomed by the community, and the kid seemed to be everywhere at once.

The GIW normally didn't care about the lives of everyday citizens but being a Fenton, Danny was a common topic of conversation. The most worrisome thing, though, was if the higher ups knew they'd interacted with a Fenton, they'd be in a lot of trouble.

Agent L groaned. "God, please don't tell me the rest of the Fentons are right behind him."

"Actually, it looks like he's alone," Keith responded, looking behind the teenager.

Agent L shifted his hold on the hose from the back of the group impatiently. "Look, I don't care what the kid wants, he's impeding a government investigation," he stated, turning the key on the truck back on. "You take care of entertaining him long enough for me to finish the job."

When a senior agent gives an order, everyone listens. The agents behind O and K turned to help him set up the weapon again, dragging the hose and the giant machine out of the truck and towards the still screaming ghost.

Octavio followed their movements. "Keith, what were you thinking?" he asked his partner when they were alone. "You could get in so much trouble for that."

Keith could have given him one hundred and five excuses, but honestly, the kid's pleading eyes were the reason why he stopped. Keith had always been a rather superstitious man, and if someone was sending him a sign that they shouldn't kill this ghost, by God he was going to listen even if it came in the form of Danny Fenton.

The kid finally reached them and raced forwards to grab Keith's arm, surprising the agent. "Wait, what are they doing? Please, you have to stop them," he screamed over the noise, looking at the agents behind them.

Agent O placed a gentle hand on Danny's shoulder. "Kid, you need to get back with the other citizens. I know you're a Fenton and everything, but anything you say really can't help us in this situation-"

Danny turned his panicked eyes to them. "You don't understand, they're going to kill her."

Octavio sighed as if dealing with a toddler. "It's a ghost, it's already dead," he explained, slowly.

"Please," Danny turned to Keith, whispering but still sounding so loud. "Please. All life is important."

All life is good, Daddy.

Agent K looked into the eyes of a panicked teenager and drowned. "Go," he whispered, before he changed his mind.

Danny smiled with blood dripping out of his ears as he pushed passed Agent K and escaped Agent O's grasp.

"Hey," Agent O cried, swirling around. His eyes glared into Keith's. "How could you do that? You're letting a kid into the blast zone! What happened to protecting everyone?" Agent K didn't reply. The only thing running through his head were the words of two children.

"Dammit, Keith!" his partner yelled, racing after the teenager. "You've always had a soft spot for kids."

Keith turned and followed him until his eyes rested on the ghost "disguised" as a little girl.

They're going to kill her!

Yeah, he always had.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Agent L turned away from his disobedient subordinate. There were seven people, kids and parents, trapped under the play-set a few feet behind the ghost. The ectoplasmic fire surrounding the being had spread around the contraption, trapping the humans inside. If nothing was done, the acidic substance would burn them in a matter of minutes, and no one wanted more deaths after yesterdays accident. They needed to act now.

The rookies followed his lead and moved the large machine closer to the ghost, setting it behind a rock and waiting for instruction.

Agent L screamed over the noise, "Alright, we're going to do this quick and easy. Aim the hose away from the play-set, but keep it on the center of the ghost and fire on my signal."

The rookies nodded, making the adjustments quickly. Agent L moved out from behind the rock to approach the ghost slowly. If he was being honest with himself, L would be extremely impressed with the ghost's disguise as a little girl. Whatever its plan was, it had managed to trap several civilians and was still maintaining its current form. That made it either an extremely powerful ghost, or an extremely vengeful spirit.

They weren't going to stand around to find out which one.

"On my mark," Agent L cried. "3, 2, 1, NOW!"

The machine fired and a loud shockwave of sound ripped through the surrounding area, sending the agent to their knees and making the citizens behind them cry out. The screaming came to a halt for only a second before it started up again.

Startled, Agent L looked up. The ghost was still standing in the center, the humans were still trapped behind it, but at least a large tree that had apparently been offending someone was completely torn apart.

"What the– who?" screamed Agent L, turning to his subordinates. The rookies shook their heads, pointing to the front of the machine.

Agent L stared wide-eyed at the teen struggling to hold the end of hose up. Daniel Fenton had blood gushing from his ears and nose- probably from the screams- and his body was still shaking from the previous pressure of the weapon's launch. He was the closest to the attack yet he was still conscious. No one was supposed to stand that close to the weapon when it was firing, yet he did it to save someone who was already dead.

"What do you think you're doing?" Agent L shouted, angrily. How reckless could this kid get?

Danny looked him straight in the eyes and cried, "Look at her."

Pissed behind belief, Agent L stood and prepared to shout something back, but the kid interrupted. "Just look at her!" he screamed again.

For reasons completely unknown, every agent turned to the ghost and looked. They looked at the fire and the creature for several seconds, but the longer they looked the more irritated they became until someone from the back said quietly, "She's crying."

Then they finally saw.

"Is that...?" one of the rookies asked, moving closer.

"My god, I'd know that birthmark anywhere." Agent O whispered.

"You don't think?" questioned another, taking off his glasses.

Agent L turned to look at the teenager who had yet to take his eyes off of him. Danny Fenton didn't even flinch as he tore off his glasses to stare at him without anything in their way.

"That's the kid from yesterday, isn't it," he asked, expressionless. "The one in the center of the fire when the bridge gave way."

Danny nodded.

The agents behind them gasped. "My god," Agent O whispered, turning to Agent K who was trying not to collapse.

Everyone knew who she was. After all, they were the ones who retrieved her body.

The screams continued in the background, but the GIW agents were frozen. How were they supposed to handle this now? The ghost they were dealing with was actually a kid; and not just any kid either, but one they couldn't save yesterday. Could they honestly still kill it? It was a lot different when you knew who you were shooting at.

"This doesn't change anything," Agent L announced, apparently having made up his mind. "It's still a ghost that's hurting people. We need to save the humans trapped behind it no matter what!"

"But she's the one who's hurting. Can't you hear her?" Danny screamed, shoving a finger in the ghost's direction. "Just wait for a second. She needs a doctor."

"She's a ghost," Agent L countered. "Ghosts are copies of the souls of the dead. You can't heal her or bring her back to life."

"She's in pain," Danny cried once more. "Just let me try. I can get her to listen, just please don't shoot her before she has a chance to move on. She deserves to live!"

"SHE'S DEAD!" Even though Agent L continued to argue, he could already feel himself relenting. His fellow agents were looking very unmotivated to start up the machine again as well. This kid was a Fenton, maybe he knew something that could help. Although they could get in a lot of trouble for this, Agent L groaned, "Fine! Okay, fine! Three minutes and then we're firing."

Danny's face lit up, giving everyone present an odd image. It wasn't everyday someone covered in their own blood smiled. Agent K moved forward to shove two earplugs in the teens hand before he moved towards the ghost. The teen looked surprised, but grinned appreciatively at the Agent.

Murmurs were heard from behind the group. The audience had moved closer, eager to capture this moment on film. One of the Fenton kids was going to try and talk to a ghost.

Once equipped with earplugs, the teenager slowly move forward, careful to avoid the ectoplasmic fire. He took his hands out and put them in plain view so the girl wouldn't think he was planning on attacking.

"Smart move," said Agent L. "But it won't work."

Teenagers just loved to prove adults wrong, though.

"Madeline, sweetie," Danny asked, shouting to be heard. "Are you alright?"

At first the ghost didn't move, but when Danny made a strange gurgling noise*- wait what the hell was that?- the girl's screams significantly lowered in volume. The flames also receded, if only a little, and Agent L immediately ordered the rookies to get the people out. Danny's eyes never left the girl.

"Hello, Madeline, my name's Danny. Are you okay?" he asked, creeping closer as the agents retrieved the trapped families. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

The ghost sniffled loudly, changing her screams into hiccuping sobs.

"Can you talk?" Danny asked again.

"...hurts."

Everyone looked up, startled by the innocent echoey voice coming from the small being. Danny smiled encouragingly, standing only a foot away. "It hurts to talk? Does your chest hurt?"

"Hurts," she repeated, moving one hand over her chest. She looked down at the clenched fist and then back to the crowd, giving them a pleading look of pain. "Hurts."

Danny nodded before turning to the crowd of people. "Please tell me one of you is a doctor or at least has some medical knowledge," he asked, searching he reporters, agents, and civilians. Everyone hesitated and the agents felt even more useless than before. Their medical staff was never called on the scene until after, and it'd take them at least two minutes to get here.

"I'm an intern at the emergency clinic down the road," one woman spoke up, startled when the crowd parted to look at her. "I'm still a student, but I can... take a look at her?" When Danny nodded, the blonde woman moved forward, sending looks of fear at the fire around the girl. "I need to be able to get close," she informed Danny and was startled when the fire around the girl vanished.

The little ghost looked at the woman wearing a medical vest. "Doc...tor?"

Heart melting, the blonde nodded. "Yes, sweetie, I'm just going to have a look at you, is that alright?" The girl whispered "hurts" again so the woman moved forward.

The audience stood silent as the "doctor" examined the ghost of a little girl. Agent L felt foolish for allowing such a thing. The woman was basically examining a dead body, but at least Danny Fenton had gotten the ghost to calm down. The woman hesitantly placed her head against the little girls chest and was surprised when it met solid flesh. Was it really flesh, though? She didn't know what she was looking for because obviously the girl wouldn't have a heart beat, but she heard the Fentons say once at a ghost rally that sometimes newly made ghosts would forget they didn't have to breathe and would mimic the motion on accident.

The little dead girl seemed to be struggling to do it.

"It... sounds like there's something in her lungs," the woman said, moving to look into the glowing green eyes before her. "Can you cough for me, sweetie?"

The girl winced, but hacked up a lung for the doctor, knowing that doctors always knew best because that's what her mommy taught her. A glowing red glob flew out and landed on the woman knee, who jerked in surprise.

"That's not ectoplasm," she observed, knowing that ectoplasm was always green or sometimes a light pink. "Does anyone know what this is?"

The GIW agents felt like shit on the bottom of a shoe because they knew what that was. They had all been there for the trial period a week ago when the higher ups proposed a newly made, untested, form of anti-ectoplasm glowing red sprays to place around the city. Apparently it didn't keep ghosts out, it just destroyed them from within.

Danny seemed to know what it was too because he looked blankly at Agent L, wondering what he would do next.

Thousands of thoughts ran through the senior agent's mind, but the only thing he could focus on was the fact the higher ups knew this would happen yet they allowed its production. The GIW were responsible for this little girl's pain, and although Agent L was having an inner struggle with morality due to the fact the little girl was technically dead, he felt guilt at having been connected to such a crime. And since the media was here, not only were they going to get in trouble for interacting with a Fenton, now their bosses would probably fire them, or pin the blame completely on them, in order to cover up the fact they purposefully made weapons to rip ghosts apart from the inside out.

Though, no matter what, Agent L knew he had to make sure this incident wasn't repeated. "It's something that will never ever find its way into another ghost again, I can assure you of that," Agent L finally said, looking towards the media. "And, please, if you would, turn off your cameras."

The reporters were hesitant. Nothing had been recorded LIVE as there remained a 60-second delay in order to ensure nothing such as cursing or death was broadcasted before editors could catch it and cut the stream. There was still around 30 seconds left before the incident where the girl coughed up the red material would show.

They wanted to reveal that the GIW were responsible for this–it was a huge story–but the GIW were also in control of basically every ghost operation in Amity Park.

"Trust me," Danny said to the reporters when they hesitated. "They will do anything to keep this silent. Until those responsible are out of Amity Park for good, or at least not an immediate threat, don't challenge them."

They did understand, and their fear of retaliation from the leaders of the GIW overran their eagerness to run a news-worthy story. They cut the streams.

Danny smiled before turning to the GIW Agents and raising his hand as if in school. "Um, if you'll let me take her there, she'll be fine if she's exposed to the Ghost Zone," he informed, knowing everyone there was still concerned about the girls health. The crowed sighed with relief at hearing the girl could be healed. "The amount of ectoplasm in the Zone is more than enough to flush her system of those anti-ecto sprays."

Agent L frowned. "And you'll take her there yourself?"

Danny nodded, pulling out a thermos from behind him. "She'll be safe in here, and other than what was already broadcasted on television, no one will hear about this, I promise." He turned to the reporters. "I wouldn't run a story on this if I were you. You'll get a lot of people in trouble if you do, and I don't want anyone here to lose their job."

The reporters weren't thrilled, but the GIW had too many strings in high places. They didn't want to lose their jobs over a story either. Danny grinned before turning to the ghost.

"Alright, time to go, little one." Unafraid, the girl allowed herself to be sucked into the thermos.

Watching Danny interact with the kid, Keith knew he'd made the right choice.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.

As they were cleaning up the scene, the lower agents made sure the press and citizens were alright, and transported the ones who had been trapped to the hospital. Soon there were only three agents and one teenager left.

"I got to say, Fenton, you make a pretty good Fenton," Agent O commented, slapping the kid on the back.

Danny surged forward from the impact, but laughed. "Glad to hear."

"But how did you know?" asked Agent K, remembering the teen's eyes as he raced to stop them from activating the machine.

"I didn't, not really, but all life is worth saving, even the lives of those who have lost theirs," he replied, eyes shining as he stared at the stunned agents. "If you had killed her, she never would have been able to accept her own death and move on. Your anti-ecto rays are what kept her grounded on earth, the other children's souls from yesterday safely passed."

None of them bothered to ask how he knew what happened to the other kid's souls. They were better off not knowing.

"We really don't understand anything about ghosts, do we?" Agent L said suddenly, seeming very out of depth.

Danny observed the three agents and smiled softly. "Not many people do. Don't be so hard on yourselves, you're only human."

"But what- have there been any others times where this happened and we just...?" Keith asked. The teen's silence was answer enough. "Oh God-"

"My family was invited to the Amity News Station for a talk on ghosts in a few days," Danny interrupted, changing the subject. "You should watch it." The agents looked skeptical so he continued. "I know you guys don't like us Fentons much, and my parents may be awful hunters, but believe it or not my mom and dad are brilliant inventors and scientists. And my sister is one of the smartest people I know and a wiz at ghost psychology. You might learn something that could help you deal with ghosts better."

Keith knew the higher ups would never allow this for they only despised two things besides ghosts: all things Fenton and ghost sympathizers. The cold war between the GIW and Fentons had been going on for two years, but it's not like their bosses would find out if a couple agents took a day off to watch it at home. Plus, if their suspicions about their bosses' motivations were correct...

"We'll think about it," Agent L answered for all of them.

Danny smiled and handed Agent L a piece of paper. It had a phone number written on it. "That's an outside line that connects straight to my Fenton phones back home," he supplied. "I know I'm just a kid, but I am a Fenton, and if you guys ever need any help."

The three agents were both amused and grateful. "We'll be fine, kid. But I'll keep this just in case," Agent L snorted, shaking his head.

"Thanks again," the teen laughed, waving and backing away.

"For what?" Agent K asked, surprised. Didn't the kid help them?

Danny smiled. "For listening."

GIW Agents K, O, and L stood together and watched the back of the teenager until they could no longer see him over the horizon. Each of them spent a moment reflecting over the past two days that started with death but ended on a slightly happier note.

"You don't really think the bosses knew the anti-ecto sprays would do that, right?" Agent O broke the silence, turning to his senior who looked uncomfortable.

"I'd like to reassure you agents, but sadly I don't think I can," Agent L replied, still following the horizon, seeking out the teen who knew more than he let people believe. "Unfortunately, it appears we may be fighting for the wrong sort of people."

Keith stood watching Danny Fenton disappear and thought about the long talk he'd have with his wife when he got home and imagined hugging his daughter the moment he walked through the door. He pictured them eating dinner and laughing together, imagined all the birthday parties and games they'd play in the future. He could see them at theme parks, on dates, talking about boys, teaching his daughter to drive, kissing them both and treasuring them until the end of time.

Keith Davis thought about his wife and his job and his friends and his family, and couldn't help but think how lucky he was to be alive.

Chapter Text

It was a typical Monday at the Foley household until Angela opened the fridge and received the surprise of her life. "Maurice, honey, I'm so proud of you," she exclaimed, overwhelmed.

Maurice Foley looked up from his cell phone with a bewildered expression. His wife stood in front of their fridge with her hands clasped together. "Excuse me?" he asked, walking over to see what she was so excited about.

Angela stepped aside and pointed at the rows upon rows of fruits and vegetables now occupying their fridge. "I know you and Tucker just love your meats, but I'm so proud of you for trying something new for once," she gushed, leaning over to give her husband a peck on the cheek.

For trying something new the amount of food just recently stocked was a bit ridiculous. Mr. Foley scanned the contents and quickly realized not only had he not purchased these, he also couldn't recognize even half of what was before him. There were fruits and vegetables of every shape and size- and were those chi seeds? No one in their family even remotely liked chi seeds.

"Angela, I didn't do this," Mr. Foley admitted, leaning backwards so his wife could peer in again.

Mrs. Foley pursed her lips. "But I haven't been shopping in a week and Tucker doesn't eat anything but meat."

"You can ask him when he gets back from school," Mr. Foley shrugged, grabbing his shoulder bag. "Who knows, it might be for a project."

"I didn't even think about that," Angela said, kissing her husband goodbye and quickly leaving for work, stopping only for a brief moment to send a puzzled look at the fridge.

She'd ask her son about it later.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The worst part about shaving, according to Maurice, is when the blade breaks while you're using it. He heard the snap before the metal fell into the sink, but wasn't fast enough to move out of the way before it sliced his arm.

"Damn it," he hissed, sealing two fingers over the cut to stop the bleeding. Looking for a bandaid in the medicine cabinet was unsatisfactory. Apparently they were out.

"Honey!" Mr. Foley called. "Can you check the other bathroom to see if we have anymore bandaids?"

"Sure, just a minute!"

In the meantime, he turned back to the mirror and assessed that the damage was minimal, if not a bit painful. Hopefully they had some backup gauze in the guest bedroom if all else failed.

Quiet footsteps alerted him to his wife's approach. At the sight of what she was holding, Mr. Foley laughed. "Jesus, sweetie, it's just a little paper cut, I didn't lose a limb."

"Maurice, did you buy this?" Mrs. Foley questioned, softly, holding up a gigantic emergency kit. It looked like a pack that you'd give to a soldier before they went into battle.

"Me?" he snorted. "Dear, I'm not the worry-wort in this family. I know you think Tucker's clumsy with all those cuts he has, but this is ridiculous."

Mrs. Foley frowned, opening up the pack to pull out a strip of bandaids. "I didn't buy this, I thought you had."

"When would we ever need something this equipped?" His wife raised her eyebrows as she bandaged his arm so he rolled his eyes and clarified, "Okay, I don't mean now, but other times. We really don't need a mini ambulance pack in our house."

Mr. Foley looked in the mirror quickly to check the position of the bandage. His wife was oddly silent as she stared at the package. Wanting her to stop looking so confused, Mr. Foley reached over to touch her shoulder in a comforting manor.

"We probably got it as a gag gift during our anniversary years ago. Where'd you find it?"

"Under the guest bathroom sink," she answered, looking unsure. "It was already opened."

"I guess Tuck found it first and thought we bought it. Sweetie, it's not that big a deal."

Mrs. Foley looked up suddenly with an intense expression. "But the bed, Maurice, in the guest bedroom. It looked like someone had just recently been sleeping in it. We never have guests over."

"Tucker has sleepovers with Danny and Sam all the time. One of them most likely couldn't take his snoring anymore and moved downstairs. I know I get tired of hearing it."

"That's your boy, darling."

Mr. Foley smiled. "So he's only my boy when his habits are annoying?" he laughed in a teasing manor, finally managing to ease her tense posture. But as the couple left the bathroom, it was Mr. Foley who paused to send a contemplative look at the overpacked bag of medical supplies.

He'd ask his son about it later.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

"Irene, I am telling you, the weirdest things have been happening at this household lately," Angela complained to her friend over the phone.

The voice on the other end replied in amusement, "Is your meat supply disappearing again? Darling, check the stomachs' of the men of the household. Mystery solved."

"No, actually, food has been appearing. Vegetables in my fridge, Irene! I thought I'd never see the day."

"Yes, that is a problem."

"Oh hush, you. I don't need your sass right now."

Irene chuckled. "And exactly what else has been magically appearing that makes you so concerned?"

"Medical supplies; bandages and herbal medicines I've never even heard of," Angela explained, waving her arms about while using her shoulder to balance the phone. "And just the other day we found these pills- good lord those gave my husband and I quite a scare."

"Have you talked to your son?" Irene asked, voice soft and hesitant. "My James tried to get into that stuff too-"

"Oh, dear no, they were vitamins. And supplements as well, those fancy things doctors give you when you're... underfed," Mrs. Foley trailed off, sounding unsure. Irene was silent for a moment. "What do you make of that?" Mrs. Foley begged for an answer. "Is this God trying to warn me that I'm doing something wrong? Does Tucker think he's not getting enough food and care?"

"Angela," Irene interrupted, "I think you need to call the Fentons."

"The Fentons?" echoed Mrs. Foley.

"Well it sounds like you've got a pretty mischievous ghost on your hands."

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

"A ghost?" Maurice laughed. "You're joking, right? Why would a ghost be giving us vegetables and medical supplies? Does it want to "healthy" us to death?"

Angela was not amused. "Think about it. This entire week weird things have been popping up out of nowhere. It's the only thing that makes sense." Granted, if they lived anywhere else but Amity Park, then it would have sounded a bit unusual.

"Have you talked to Tucker yet?" her husband asked, typing away on his computer in their room. "It could still be his stuff."

Angela sucked in a deep breath, suddenly recalling Irene's idea about using doctor prescribed medication for other purposes. "No," she replied, stiffly, "none of it's Tuckers."

Mr. Foley paused at her tone, turning around. "So a ghost then?" he eventually admitted. "You going to call Maddie?"

"I'll put an end to this, don't you worry," Angela nodded, grabbing the phone and making her way up to Tucker's room.

She knew the Fenton's number by heart- practically everyone in this town did by now- and dialed it after opening the technology-covered door upstairs. The phone rang three times before the booming voice of Jack Fenton came through.

"HELLO! IS THIS A GHOST?! HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER, YOU BASTARD?" he shouted, practically shattering any nearby glassware. Thankfully, Angela knew the Fentons well enough to move her ear away from the phone before dialing.

"Jack? Is Madeline there?" she asked, stepping over a pile of clothes by Tucker's closet. Does her child ever pick up after himself?

"Oh, it's just you." Angela could practically hear the man pouting through the phone.

"Hello to you too, sweetie. Now could you please put your wife on?"

"More girl stuff?" Jack whined. Shuffling was heard through the line. "Maddie, phone's for you." An explosion went off in the background.

"Angela!" a woman's voice gushed after more shuffling was heard. "It's been so long since I've seen you, which is definitely weird considering Danny practically lives at your house."

Mrs. Foley laughed, recalling how Sam and Danny seemed to always be around whenever she came home. "Yes, I miss you as well. How have things been?"

"Good, Jack and I have been experimenting with ectoplasm recently," Maddie explained, thrilled to be able to talk to someone who would actually listen.

Angela laughed at her friend's enthusiasm as she searched through Tucker's room. It wasn't as though she didn't trust her son, but she wanted to make absolutely certain he wasn't into drugs before getting the Fentons excited with the idea of her house being haunted.

"What kind of experiments?" she asked, opening the drawer by Tucker's bed.

"Mostly dealing with human blood and opposing elements- oh! We were also offered to do a live interview for a news station from Washington. They're coming here to Amity Park in a week."

"Maddie, that's wonderful," Angela said, as she searched through Tucker's closet. There was something in the back she couldn't quite see.

"Well anyways, enough about me," Mrs. Fenton laughed. "You must have called for a reason?"

Mrs. Foley hummed, confused. What was this notebook doing in the back of Tucker's shelving unit? "Hm? Oh yes, well my husband and I were just concerned about some things."

Moving the phone so it sat in the crook of her neck, Angela opened the book and froze. This was...?

"Angela, are you alright? You sound distracted."

Mrs. Foley had to exhale three times before she could answer. "No, I'm," she said, slowly as if thinking carefully about every word. "Maddie, your son- is he, where is he?"

"Danny? Last I heard he and Tucker were heading over to your place. Angela, is something wrong? Are you being threatened? Is it a ghost?"

"No. No, Maddie, there's no ghost. We're fine. I'm so sorry I called you so inconveniently."

"You are never an inconvenience! Danny absolutely adores Tucker and your family!"

Mrs. Foley swallowed. "That's wonderful."

"I guess I'll let you get back to whatever you were doing. I'm sure the kids are being quite loud over there."

Downstairs was silent. "Yes, thank you. Have a good day, Maddie."

"You too! Take good care of my son," Maddie instructed, laughing playfully before the line went dead.

The crinkle of paper finally brought Mrs. Foley out of her daze. Her fingers were slowly beginning to crush the pages of the notebook she found filled to the brim with-

A noise from the kitchen distracted her. Her husband was still in their room, wasn't he? Robotically, Mrs. Foley folded up the notebook and held it to her chest as she silently crept to the railing. From above she could see two figures in the kitchen: one was wrapped up in bandages, the other was searching through her fridge.

The giant emergency kit was on the kitchen table.

"-no way!"

"I swear to God, eat 'em, Fenton, before I shove those down your throat."

"Parsley, spinach, and leeks, though? All at once?"

"I'll get you some potassium centered foods in a second. If you want your blood to clot, then I suggest you eat those first."

"Can't I just have some fruit and be done?"

"Fruit? Lord have mercy- did you even read those charts I made you? Vitamin K first, no Vitamin E unless you want your blood to thin, Vitamin C next to reform tissues, and then your calcium pills for Vitamin D."

"But the pills are disgusting. I thought I only have to take those once every week."

"No, those are once every day. Your B-12 are once every week. I swear to god, how are you even alive?"

Danny laughed deeply. "What would I do without you?"

This was too much for Mrs. Foley whose entire body started to shake as she once again opened the book in her arms. Pages after pages of information on medicine, food, chemistry, anatomy; doctors notes and dates a patient was seen, receipts for groceries, articles printed off the internet; calendars that had little marks on them that said "last full meal," "last full night of sleep," "B-12 dose skipped," "buy more Vitamin C," "full-body checkup," and lists taped next to them with statistics about someone's blood sugar and their white blood cell count, blood pressure, calcium intake-

It went on forever. The notebook was as thick as a college textbook, yet every single page was filled.

And it was all about Danny Fenton, her son's best friend.

As a parent, she was extremely concerned. She had so many questions, so many questions, but her voice caught in her throat as she reflected back upon her son and his life during the past two years. He had become so independent, so intelligent, and so protective of his best friends- for a good reason it seemed- but he had also become so secretive. She could also recall Maddie and Jack's worry about Danny during his freshmen year of high school. Was this situation really okay?

Mrs. Foley took a deep breath and stared down at the two children who looked so much older than they actually were. She looked carefully at the plate her son prepared- only fruits, bread, vegetables- and her eyes followed the bandages on Danny's arm until she finally rested on his smiling face as Tucker rubbed a hand through his friend's unruly hair affectionately.

"Take good care of my son."

Don't worry, Maddie, someone already is.

Chapter Text

"You know our town is weird when this is the most normal thing we've ever done," Paulina commented dryly, looking out the window of the bus.

Star was sitting next to her, and although she desperately wanted to pass the next level of Candy Crush, she turned to her friend. "We won't be the only school there," she reminds.

"Yeah, but we'll be the only ones who find visiting dead kids normal."

"They're not dead," Star said, voice hard and even.

Paulina's eyes follow the stern expression as it passes over Stars face. "Sorry, that wasn't what I meant."

Star knew what she was implying. "I know. These are the kids in the last stages of their treatment," she whispered. "If it doesn't work..."

Both girls understood what their job was. The city of Chicago, Illinois had contacted all neighboring cities about allowing local high schools to visit their largest children's hospital. They voiced their concerns about the morale of their patients as they entered their last stages of cancer treatment and thought it best if people closer to their age would volunteer to visit and cheer them up. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lancer had decided to make it a school field trip throughout the entire week and now it was the sophomore class's turn.

They arrived at the hospital after about an hour and signed in at the front. Several other school groups were there, but all of the students were smiling except Amity Park's. Maybe it was because they didn't want to get their hopes up or maybe because this was a far cry from weird for them. Visiting kids who hung onto the balance of life and death was like going to high school for them. Just an everyday occurrence.

The head nurse smiled warmly at the class. She was dressed in her professional scrubs, but her hair was pulled in several directions and contained a variety of colored clips, obviously the work of someone under ten. "The kids are waiting, right this way if you please," she instructs, gesturing down the hall.

Grant Clemn Hospital had apparently sectioned off corners of their building and split the kids evenly amongst patient groups. Amity Park was to visit those who were in their final week of chemo therapy.

The class stopped at a glass door at the end of the hall. There were several beds clustered together inside the room with toys thrown all over the floor. "Their names are Amanda, Dylan, Florian, Xavier, and Tyler," the nurse explained. Her smile showed the class how attached she truly was to these kids. "All of our patients are rather shy, but these are a handful of our youngest ones: ranging from four to eight years old."

Lancer asked her a few questions, but the class was ready to meet the kids. Dash was the first one through the door, and surprisingly the kids paused to watch them. None of the children had hair, but one of them looked to be wearing a dress-up wig.

"Hey," Dash spoke, voice barely a whisper. He stepped closer to the kids, but they seemed to move farther away.

"You look funny," one of them said.

This had several of the students laughing at Dash's misfortune, but the jock took the insult in stride. He had a younger sister and knew how to deal with this. "Oh really? Are you sure because I think I can look even funnier if you put some of those clips in my hair."

Two of the kids giggled and showed their handful of accessories. "Nu-uh! You 'ould look be-u-te-ful," the one in the wig said matter-of-factly. "We make you look best!"

Dash was already kneeling next to them and tilting his short hair towards their grabby fingers. "Show me then," he challenged.

They practically tackled the jock to reach him first. Mikey and Star joined their friend on the floor as the two kids ran out of room on Dash's head. Apparently, his hair was "too short to make more pretty" so they started combing Star's into braids and Mikey's into little ponytails. Dash remained covered in glitter clips.

Valerie was the one to approach the two remaining children. Both were still eyeing the newcomers with guarded expressions. "What are your names?" she asked, settling down crisscross applesauce next to their pile of toys. Nathan and Paulina followed her, but remained standing.

The boy on the right shrugged. At least it was a response.

"Can you tell me what you're drawing?" Valerie asked, voice soft. She noticed that both boys seemed to be creating a picture with colored pencils. "The girl over there is an artist too." She pointed at Paulina who took the cue and nodded, reaching for a pencil.

The kids were less than enthusiastic about sharing, but once they saw Paulina start to draw a cartoon version of the two of them, they warmed up to her easily. After five minutes of watching her sketch, they began to call out things she could draw and even allowed Nathan and Valerie to help as well.

Ignoring Nathan's starstruck expression at sitting next to his crush was hard, but Valerie managed for the sake of the kids, and thankfully Nathan had enough sense to know what was appropriate behavior in a hospital.

As they got to know the kids better, Lancer and the nurse stayed outside to watch from the window, deciding it best not to interfere with the tentative peaceful atmosphere the students created. The class had settled easily, but one thing Kwan happened to notice was the final child refusing to move from the corner he had hidden himself in. "Hey, do you want to play?" he asked, gaining the attention of the students and kids.

"Florian don' like you," the girl in the wig giggled, clipping a pink strip into Mikey's red hair.

"He doesn't want to play with us?" Paulina asked, holding out a colored pencil with a smile. Her kindness was rewarded with a glare.

"Florian does not like nobody," the boy urging her to draw said, shrugging. "He never want to play."

The boy in the corner didn't rise to the bait. Instead, he sneered at them and turned his head around the room, sharp eyes watching everyone carefully. He paused once, and the group getting their hair done believed they finally caught his eye. Florian slowly uncurled his legs and stood. He was small, smaller than the other children at least, and shuffled to the teenager standing frozen at the doorway.

The class watched as Danny Fenton's expression seemed to drop. It was as if he had been desperately hoping none of the kids would approach him.

Florian stared up at Danny quietly while Lancer's class watched in awe as he lifted his arms to be picked up. Danny hesitated barely a second before he leaned down and eased the child into his arms.

"Florian like you!" the girl squealed, momentarily distracted. She rocked Dash's shoulders back and forth in excitement.

Dash laughed. "I see! I see!" he answered, turning to Fenton. "Looks like you snagged one, Fenton."

Danny's smile was extremely forced and everyone present- besides the children under ten- had to question whether he liked kids or not. "Seems like it, doesn't it?" he said, tone even as he watched the child in his arms with wide eyes.

Surprisingly Kwan was the one that came to his rescue. He saw how uncomfortable Danny was and stood up with his arms out. "Do you want me to take him?"

Florian reacted instantly by turning his head into the crook of Danny's neck. "No!" he cried, speaking for the first time.

"Aw, come on! I promise you'll have fun with me too."

Florian shook his head gently, peeking one eye out to look at Danny who was watching him. "Feels good." Danny stiffened at the childlike response and his expression looked even more pained.

Kwan looked for a sign from Danny, but the teenager shook his head and reached a hand up to clutch Florian's tiny hand. "It's fine. He'll be fine with me."

The class exchanged glances, knowing very well it wasn't the kid they were worried about. Before Lancer agreed to the field trip, Danny had expressed his dislike at the idea. His classmates thought it was because both his best friends had been forced to go earlier in the week with the senior class due to faulty seating arrangements and bad luck of the draw, but his dislike remained even after the announcement. Fenton was weird, but this was a pretty important trip so they were extremely confused by his refusal.

During the rest of their time there, Danny and Florian remained seated together on one of the beds. The students watched them like hawks, but neither spoke again. Sometimes Danny would reach up to rub a soothing hand against the six year old's back or hum a quiet tune none of them had heard before. Florian seemed to know it and as they neared their time to switch rooms, the two of them were singing softly.

The girl adding beads to Star's hair swayed. "I hear that b'for," she said, looking at Danny.

Her friend nodded. "Me too."

Dash reached up to poke their noses as they giggled. "Do they play music at the hospital for you guys?" Both kids shook their heads.

The boy drawing a heart on Valerie commented from the other side of the room, "You used to sing it in your sleep."

"Did not!" the girl snapped.

"Did too!" her friend replied, pointing at her. "You say you never, but you did. I heard it."

"You did also," the boy by Valerie said again. Before the two younger kids could respond again he explained, "Both of you always said stuff in your sleep, but when you first moved into the room with us you were humming that."

The girl was pouting so Dash smiled at her. "Is it so bad that you talk in your sleep?" he asked, laughing when she faced him with a betrayed expression.

"I don like tha' song no more," she answered, looking at the ground. "I don' need tha' song no more." Not liking the expression on her face, the students were thankful when Lancer and the nurse stepped back inside to interrupt them.

The head nurse apologized politely, but informed them that they had a few more groups to head to before they could head home. The class reluctantly stood up from their groups and hugged each of the kids goodbye. Dash, Mikey, and Star tried to take the clips out of their hair only to be stopped by the kids. They were adamant about the students remaining pretty and refused to let them take them out. The teenagers were touched and decided looking like a kindergarten art project wasn't too bad if it was only for one day. Besides, Mikey actually liked the pink strip and Star was particularly fond of the butterfly clip in her bangs.

The last to leave was Danny who received protests from the child in his arms.

"Please don't leave me," Florian whispered, gripping Danny's white shirt tightly. The teenager had carried them to the door and looked like he wanted to ask for help from the others.

The head nurse reached out to drag the child away, but he started to scream. "I've never seen him act like this before!" she exclaimed, looking apologetically at Danny.

"It's no problem at all," Danny said. He gazed down at the kid. "Florian, I have to go now."

"Please don't. I'm scared."

"I know you are," Danny whispered, clutching Florian tightly, hands curling around the child's head as if to protect him. "But I promise, it's going to be okay. You won't have to be afraid anymore."

Florian seemed to take a deep breath before nodding and loosening his death grip. He was immediately removed from the teenager by the head nurse who prayed he wouldn't make a scene again as she set him down.

The kids gathered at the door when the class left. The students were actually sad to have to go and hoped that all the visits wouldn't be so hard to leave because if they were then this was going to be a long day. These kids were too young to have been exposed to thoughts of death. Thankfully none of them seemed to bring up their treatment during the stay.

Danny walked behind the group and as they followed the head nurse down the next hall, the class could hear the echoes of Danny and Florian's song as they seemed to exchange their own unique goodbye.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

As the sophomore students of Amity Park guessed, the day passed slowly and painfully. After each group, it got harder and harder to leave the kids they visited behind. Something they noticed reoccurring was each time Danny Fenton would enter a room he stayed by the door. Sometimes kids would approach him, but other times they completely ignored him. It was the times when kids who ignored everyone else and immediately ran to Danny that the class could see how pained their classmate's face was.

They always knew Danny Fenton was different, but seeing that oddness follow him outside of Amity Park was a new experience.

Their final stop was at the room of Emily Montsuere who was twelve years old and the only occupant of room 314. "She's our miracle kid," the head nurse explained, walking the kids down the hall and smiling at her co-workers. "We've cured a handful of cases of child leukemia- which was unheard of until this year- but not only did her hair stay while on cancer medication, she started showing signs of recovery after a week of treatment!"

The nurse stopped at the doorway. "She gives all of us hope for the younger ones. Although other children have shown signs of the new drug healing them, her recovery has been the fastest." She turned the nob and gently pushed open the door. "Emily, sweetie? Are you awake?"

At her motion to move forward, the class stepped in the room and were almost startled at the song the girl laying in the bed was humming. It was the tune Danny and several of the other kids had been harmonizing since they came. Sure enough, Danny's expression was pained and he tried to place himself farthest away from the patient.

"Good Afternoon, Emily," the nurse greeted. "How are you today?"

Emily paused her singing long enough to respond. "Same as always. Everything hurts and I smell like a sewer," she huffed.

The class already liked her personality, and it seemed the nurse found her amusing as well. "These kids are here to meet you."

"Great, more visitors," she said, tilting her head around. She paused for half a second when her eyes landed on Danny, but continued to survey the occupants of her room.

The head nurse excused herself quietly and followed Lancer outside. Dash looked like he wanted to take the lead again, but as soon as the door closed, the patient spoke first. Her head spun until her focus was on Danny. "I'm going to die, aren't I?" she asked.

Her question startled everyone into freezing for half a moment. Her tone was so even and certain that they didn't have enough time to recover before she spoke again. "You don't have to lie to me," she said, still looking at the teen desperately trying to hide in the back of the group. "I'm not young like the other kids."

"You're twelve," Valerie breathed, finally.

Emily shrugged, the IV in her arm following her movements. "Everyone's old enough to die so I think I'm old enough to know when." Her eyes tore away from Valerie to stare at Danny again as she asked, "I'm going to die, aren't I?"

A pause, then Danny said, "Yes."

Emily snorted as if she knew the answer all along. "Figures."

"Fenton, you can't just say something like that!" Dash hissed, rounding on the smaller teen who met his angry gaze.

"Hey, be happy he only said it to me," Emily defended. "I'm sure he could have told a bunch of the others the same thing. I've been hearing that damn song over and over again since you guys got here." And then the twelve year old girl who was just told she was going to die began to sing a song with no words. The melody was louder than how Danny hummed it and the sound traveled out the door and down the hall because suddenly it was echoed by other little voices.

Danny himself was humming along with them.

"Stop that," Paulina pleaded, placing a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Please." The teenager listened to her, but the haunting melody echoed even as the other voices slowly trailed off.

"How long do I have?" Emily wondered, tone solemn.

"Minutes."

"Wow, that's like zero time at all," Emily laughed, covering her eyes with the crook of her elbow. "My mom's still out getting food. I don't even get to say goodbye." She uncovered her face to show the class how shaken she really was. "This is going to hurt her so much. They thought I was getting better."

Danny moved past the confused and slightly scared forms of his classmates to stand by her bed. His hand reached out to grasp the one not attached to the IV. He didn't say anything so Emily continued to fill the silence with her words as if she were trying to preserve her presence in the minds of these strangers.

"You know the song, and they can hear it. The doctors can't hear us, but our voices are so loud sometimes," she whispered solemnly, gesturing to the startled students. "What kind of lives do you guys live that make you able to hear the sounds of the dead?"

As his classmates were suddenly confronted with the significance of the song, Danny struggled to smile at the girl. "We see dead people."

Emily's startled laugh cut through the silence, but did nothing to relieve the tension. "Fine, keep your secrets, but it's not like I have time to tell anyone," she giggled, tone slightly hysterical. She calmed down and looked around the room at the teenagers. "You don't have to act so sad, at least I'm not alone."

As if suddenly realizing this girl was about to lose her life in front of them, they surged forward to surround her. "What are your parents like?" Paulina asked, placing a hand on the girl's bony shoulder.

"It's just me, my mom, and my sister. They're so loving and supportive of me."

"What are your favorite things?" Mikey panicked, words rushed together as he desperately attempted to soak up her presence before it faded.

Emily was happy to answer. "The color blue, goldfish- the crackers and the animal- and I love volleyball a lot. I never won a game, but my team was really nice to me."

Dash asked next, "How are you in school?"

"I hate science, but math has always been fun for me," she said, looking at their faces as several of their expressions crumbled. "I wanted to be an engineer. Go to the moon maybe."

Danny suddenly choked out, "Me too." Emily looked at him and said they must have a lot in common then.

Back and forth the students asked questions about her life and she happily answered them just as eagerly. As the responses started to trail off, the class found themselves half on her bed and each touching a small portion of her body. Emily had started off smiling at all of them, but she ended with a blank expression. The clock on the wall made small ticking sounds in the background, reminding the students of the urgency of the situation.

Emily suddenly tensed. Her head shook off a hand that had been running through her hair as she turned to face at Danny with a lost look in her eyes. "Can you help me?" she begged.

It was saddening for everyone present that her final words were a cry for help they could not answer.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The sound a machine makes when it flatlines would be the only thing Amity Park's sophomore class hears in their nightmares for the next several weeks. Word traveled fast amongst the groups at the hospital and soon enough Amity Park was known as the group whose 'patient died in their arms.' The doctors and nurses were hysterical, but nothing beat the sound of Emily Montsuere's hysterical mother when she returned with her child's favorite meal.

They could still hear her screams.

Lancer was quick to remove them from the situation. It was unanimously decided that they should return home as quickly as possible, and they piled onto the bus in silence. The ride home was filled with reflection. Not a sound broke the silence until Paulina suddenly hunched forward and sobbed, "It's not fair," with such resound certainty that it startled everyone.

"Mrs. Sanchez," Lancer quietly whispered, knowing there was nothing her could do to ease his student's pain. However, it seemed someone else did.

"Florian, six years old- he likes Oreos and reading nature books," Danny Fenton announced, arms crossed and continuing to look out the window. "Saisha, eight, likes the color pink, zebras, and toy cars. Johnathon, four, likes drawing and blue. Caitlyn, four, likes stuffed animals and blue. Hadrian, ten, likes playing monster, writing, and finger paints."

One by one, Danny listed off every child who he interacted with the most, their age, and their favorite things. Finally, he reached the end and looked at the students who she had spent her last seconds with, and said, "Emily, twelve years old, and the bravest girl we've ever met." He took the moment to look each of them in the eyes. "And someone we will never let go of."

Death wasn't something easy to move past, but as the teenagers from the most haunted town in America traveled home, they listened to Danny's humming as he sang the song of the dead, and were comforted by the tiny echoes of children's voices that followed it.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Chapter Text

Dash carefully positioned the flowers so each color pointed towards the door; fully on display for anyone who walked in. He'd asked the flower vendor which colors would let him convey a position for friendship, but a desire for something more if willingly given.

He was nervous, and his hands were shaking enough to catch the attention of his friends. Jason gripped his hands tightly and pulled them away from the flowers.

"Dude, it's a group study. You're going to be fine," he reassured, pointing a thumb back at the table of their friends.

"What if I do something stupid?" Dash whispered, panic evident. He rubbed his hair. "Oh God, what if I say something stupid?"

"Dash, we're all here 'cause we're stupid!" Garrell shouted from the living room. A chorus of deep laughter came from the same direction along with several agreements.

Jason steered Dash away from the kitchen and they heard Kwan mutter under his breath, "Speak for yourselves. I got an 89% on the last of Lancer's exams."

The chorus of voices booed, large bodies of well-built jocks pushing thumbs down towards Kwan and shoving him roughly. Jason and Dash joined in teasing Kwan before settling around the table where they'd set up their books, pencils, calculators, and extra paper.

Dash breathed in deeply to settle his nerves. His friends were watching him with surprised looks.

"Man, you really like this girl," Blake observed, scratching his beard. "If this is that important to you, why'd you invite us to join in?"

"I want her to like me first–no, Garrell, stop wiggling your eyebrows–as a friend," Dash explained with a harsh glare towards his snickering teammate. "She doesn't really know me except for the guy who was mean to her brother Freshman year."

"Oh, so that's why you stopped picking on Fenton," Jason said, nodding.

Dash wasn't going to correct their assumption. Ever since Fenton healed his arm (and if he were being honest with himself, even before that) it just made Dash feel like scum on the bottom of a shoe to pick on him. Then there was that thing with the hospital, and really, no one was the same after that.

Mr. and Mrs. Baxter swept into the room with bowls of snacks. "Sweetie, is she here yet?" his mom asked as she set the chips down, barely able to move her hand before the teenagers swiped several mouthfuls.

"Mom!" Dash was not blushing. He was absolutely not blushing.

Mr. Baxter ruffled his son's hair as he passed, grinning at the laughing football players. "Our son here won't tell us a single thing about his new crush," he said to the group that was eagerly listening for any teasing material. "Won't even tell us her name!"

His supposed friends cooed at him, making kissy faces to his disgust. "Awwww little Dashy-Washy is embarrassed," Kwan voiced.

Dash chucked a chip at him.

Five minutes into their chip war, the doorbell rang. The battle paused, each person staring disbelieving at the door for several seconds. Then, it rang again.

Dash shrieked, standing up and looking down at all the food crumbs covering him. Before anyone else could move, Jason, who had hidden behind the couch, ripped off his jacket and switched with Dash. Startled into action, four of the teenagers started shoving chip crumbs under the couches–thankful that Mr. and Mrs. Baxter were upstairs right now–and the others raced to wipe the crumbs off Dash's hair and shorts.

They cleared the table and floor in a matter of seconds; patting Dash on his back with quiet whispers of encouragement, they shoved him towards the hallway.

He almost tripped over his feet in his rush. Standing before the door he knew his crush was on the other side of, he felt his confidence build and allowed a smile to form. Before turning the handle, he peaked back to see all his friends giving him thumbs up from the living room.

Dash opened the door with a smile that only dropped slightly in surprise when he looked at the person before him. "Fenton?"

"Your, uh, your jacket's inside-out," Danny said, biting his lip to stop the amused smile from crossing his lips. The scrawny teen stood several inches below Dash in a bright green jacket with a cartoon ghost on it. His hair was disheveled more than usual and there were bags under his eyes.

Dash took all of this in as he remained stunned by the fact his crush was not on the other side of the door. The anticipation that had built slowly fled his body.

Danny leaned forward a step. "So, can I come in?"

The jock hesitated only for a second. "Uh, yeah, sure," he replied, stepping aside to allow Danny to enter. The smaller teen smiled, taking off his shoes to set them on the pile of everyone else's while Dash shut the door.

He turned to Dash with a raised eyebrow. "So, who's the peanut gallery?" he asked, nudging his head towards the group of teenage boys peering in from behind the living room wall.

Someone snickered. "Hey, Dash, hate to break this to you, but you've got the wrong Fenton," Gerrall said, dissolving into laughter that was soon followed by several other sounds of amusement from the rest of the group.

Dash followed Danny as he entered the living room, smiling at the group of jocks surrounding the center table. "Sorry I'm not as pretty as my sister, but our parents blew up the basement so she volunteered to help them cleanup all the toxic parts so we don't suffocate in our sleep tonight," Danny explained, plopping down next to Dash's spot on the ground.

"Dude," Garrell breathed, wide-eyed.

The others were also sending him looks of wonder. "Does that happen often?" Jason asked.

"Blowing things up or Jazz having to clean up after our parents? Because blowing things up kind of runs in the family."

Garrell laughed, stretching a long arm over to pat Danny on the back. "Your life sounds like a fucking train-wreck."

"At least things are always interesting," Kwan added, looking put-out. "The only cool stuff to happen to us happens at school."

Danny reached into his jacket pocket while the guys were distracted talking about the latest ghost attack. He placed a small, pink card in Dash's hands. "Here," Danny said, smiling up at him. "Jazz wanted you to know she's really sorry she couldn't be here."

Dash's heart filled with something that felt like buzzing fireflies. He turned the card over, easily recognizing the fancy handwriting. She'd even signed her name with a flower, apologizing for sending her little brother instead of her.

The fuzzy feeling remained even as he turned to Danny. "Are you going to tutor us, then?" Danny nodded.

"Eh?" Garrell exclaimed. "Seriously?"

Danny raised an eyebrow at him, calmly collecting some paper supplies and a notebook from the table. "I was raised by two scientists with Ph.D's in theoretical physics and engineering. I think I can handle 'Concepts of Chemistry,'" he smiled, reading the title of their book.

"Besides," he added when no one moved to grab supplies, "I made a 98% on Lancer's last exam."

The jocks practically fell over themselves opening their notebooks.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The football team knew who Danny Fenton was. Everyone in Amity Park knew who the Fenton kids were, at least; but they wondered if they could claim they really knew who Danny was after spending an entire afternoon with him.

His little habits were so endearing that half the football team found themselves leaning closer whenever he spoke. He'd mutter quietly while he tried to find a simple way to explain an answer, or bite the end of his pencil, or hum softly to fill the silence while they copied things down.

Danny was a good teacher. He was patient to an unnerving degree, and the way he explained the basics of each chapter felt like he understood exactly what each of them were having trouble with. He made connections they never saw before, and was almost gentle in guiding them.

"Hey," whispered Jason from beside Dash. "You like the other Fenton, right?"

Dash nodded, eyes narrowed. "Okay, perfect," Jason breathed with a smile, "so I can have this one."

The blonde rolled his eyes and shoved his snickering friend to the ground, knowing he was only joking. Probably.

Dash eyed the sparkling looks on each of his friends faces with a wince. Hopefully.

Blake asked their tutor a question with one of their old homework problems, something he'd gotten marked wrong. Leaning around the teenager, Danny nodded along with Blake's explanation of his thought process.

"Okay, here's where you should have used this formula," he explained, borrowing Blake's pencil and paper to write out the steps. When he was done, he smiled and moved on to help the next person, but Dash watched as Blake squinted down at his paper.

During the entire afternoon, not one of them had trouble understanding something after Danny explained it at least once or twice, so it was a bit odd to see Blake looking confused.

Since he was sitting next to Kwan, Blake leaned over to him, showing his friend his paper. Kwan took the offered sheet and paused, suddenly looking as confused as Blake felt. "What…?" Kwan voiced, turning the worksheet upside down for some reason. Now several of the jocks were watching them.

"Are you guys having trouble?" Danny asked, noticing their odd movements. He stood up, leaving Jason looking confused down at the problem Danny had just written out on his own paper.

"Yeah," Blake said, handing Danny the worksheet. "What do these weird marks mean?"

"Marks?" Danny said slowly, eyebrows raised. "You want me to define each of the numbers listed here?"

"Those are numbers?" Blake said, eyes-wide. "Woah, must be a weird chemistry thing."

Danny looked confused, but Blake felt bad about making him explain everything again so he tried to reassure him, "I'm just really awful with numbers and stuff."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I was probably going too fast," Danny said, rubbing the back of his neck and looking embarrassed. "My hand writing is terrible. Here, I can show you which ones are which numbers."

The entire group spent the next couple of minutes learning what each odd squiggle Danny wrote down actually meant. Dash was even surprised because he never thought Chemistry had that many weird symbols for numbers, words, and equations they already knew. It wasn't long before they were able to write each symbol out perfectly.

It was a good thing Danny was here to help them or else they might have failed tomorrow's test.

As they neared the end of the day, the football team felt 70% more confident in the material than when they started. Each had a proud smile on their face after Danny graded the mock exam they took for him; no one scored below a B, which was exactly what they needed to show their coach in order to play in Saturday's game.

"Wow," Gerrall whispered, looking at his solid B+ in bright red ink. "Fenton, if you're so good at this shit, why do you never turn in homework or show up to class?"

Danny rubbed the back of his neck. "Family stuff, mostly. I never have time to do the work, and I have trouble sleeping sometimes."

The group looked at the black marks under his eyes in a new light. Considering one of his best friends was the goth girl, they'd thought it was just makeup.

Jason patted Danny on the back. "Get some sleep tonight, shorty."

Bright, blue eyes scowled up at the laughing jocks who towered over him. "Not my fault you guys are ridiculously huge. What do you eat for breakfast every morning, a cow?"

Garrell waved a hand. "Nah, that's lunch. Breakfast is a whole horse."

Even Dash started to laugh when Fenton snorted into his hand. It was the first time they'd managed to make him laugh since he'd gotten here.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Dash noticed his parents smiling from the doorway. "Hey, guys, we're almost done," he called out to them.

"Yeah, don't worry Mr. and Mrs. Baxter," Kwan said. "We'll clean everything up!"

His parents walked farther into the room at the invitation. Dash's mom was smiling wider than he'd even seen. "Of course, it's no problem at all. But I'd love for you to introduce me to your friend here," she said, placing a hand on Danny's shoulder.

The way she stressed the word 'friend' had a sinking feeling settle in Dash's stomach.

Danny titled his head up to smile at the nice woman. "Oh, um, I'm Danny. It's really nice to meet you."

Mrs. Baxter gasped, gripping the sides of Danny's face and calling for her husband. "Oh, dear, come look at these beautiful eyes! And what a lovely smile on such a nice-looking face."

Danny blinked, his face, neck, and ears slowly turning red. "Um."

"Mom," Dash whispered, aghast, "No."

"Of course, you are a tad skinny," Ms. Baxter worried as she was joined by her husband. "You come over as often as you like and we'll make sure you have a nice, warm meal."

By now, his friends were holding their faces to keep themselves from bursting into tears of laughter. Occasionally one of them made a choking sound.

"T-thank you," Danny managed to say, sounding more like a high-pitched squeak than words.

"Mom," Dash tried again, starting to panic. "He's not who I was talking about!"

Mrs. Baxter paused, looking back and forth between her son and his guest. She hummed softly. "Well, he's still adorable and I would love to have you visit again," she spoke to Danny, making a happy sound when the teenager smiled back and nodded.

On their way towards another room in the house, Mr. Baxter stopped to put a hand on Danny's shoulder. He was smiling.

After they were gone, Kwan choked out, "I think that means they approve."

There was no holding back when the entire football team fell into a fit of raucous laughter. Even Danny found the entire situation hilarious. His eyes were filled with tears and his cheeks were still pink; it was the kind of laughter that made your cheeks hurt afterwards.

Taking pity on Dash, who was in a frozen state of embarrassment, Danny said to him, "She likes you, you know. My sister." At the blonde's smile, he added, "As a friend for now, but it's a pretty good place to start."

Dash breathed out a sigh of relief. The fireflies were back in his stomach knowing that Jazz approved of him somewhat and Danny wasn't bothered by his parents misunderstanding.

They walked him to the door when they were done. The football team usually slept over at one of their teammates house for good luck before a big game weekend, but even though they offered to make room for Danny, he said he needed to check and make sure his own family was still alive.

"Good luck with the whole blown-up-basement thing," Garrell said, trying not to grin because his cheeks hurt too much from earlier.

Danny laughed softly. "As long as everything works out, I'll see you guys tomorrow for the exam."

"Need us to walk you home?" Jason asked.

The youngest Fenton looked amused for some reason. "Afraid that just because I don't eat a horse for breakfast I might get attacked?"

Jason shook his head. "Nah, it's just kind of lonely."

Danny started at him, surprised. Then, his expression softened into a look of wonder. "No," he reassured, "I'll be fine."

"Ah!" Dash said, taking Danny's phone from his hands before handing it back. "This is my number so just text us when you're home."

Danny looked down at his cell phone. His expression was unreadable, but Dash supposed he felt confused, shocked, and maybe a bit thankful that they cared enough that he made it home safe.

He tilted his head up to smile one more time–a smile so bright it seemed to reflect the light from Dash's porch–before turning down the steps and leaving.

The group squeezed through the doorway to watch him go. The night was silent except for crickets and the occasional laughter from a house in the neighborhood. Although it's shine had nothing on the smile Danny had showed them, the moon was bright tonight.

"Jeez," Blake breathed, looking startled. "It's really hard not to like that kid."

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The next day, in the hallways after their science class, the football team eagerly discussed the Chemistry exam.

"I knew almost everything," Garrell breathed, disbelief on his face as he gazed down at his hands. "That never happens to me, guys."

The other nodded eagerly. "Same here," Kwan exclaimed, going into detail about one of the questions. "I remembered exactly how Danny worked out the formulas and finished a whole ten minutes before time was called."

Whistles of encouragement came from everyone. Kwan smiled at their playful shoves. It was a nice feeling for all of them, being able to be proud of their accomplishments outside of sports. Maybe that was why their coach had banned them from Saturday's game until they could pass Lancer's test.

"Boys," called a stern voice from down the hall. Dash and the others turned to find Lancer staring at them with a deep frown. It wasn't unusual for their teacher to approach them outside of the classroom, but Dash was more worried about the papers he held.

"Boys," Lancer said again, turning the papers in his hands around to show them the bright red 33% on the first one, "I thought you said you were going to do better."

They stared in shocked silence when Lancer passed out their tests in the middle of the hallway. Their teacher had a very disappointed look on his face as he watched each of them turn over their test papers in distress.

"I was going to give these back next week, but your coach insists on knowing your scores before tomorrow," Lancer explained.

"But," Blake said desperately, looking over the problems marked with red ink, "this isn't wrong."

Lancer's face hardened. "I don't know why you kids insist on the practical jokes, but I'm sorry, I'm going to have to tell your coach not a single one of you passed my test."

There was a weight sitting on Dash's chest. Next to him, Garrell looked like he was seconds away from bursting into tears; flipping through the paper and shaking his head. "But this is right," he insisted, trying to thrust his exam back into Mr. Lancer's hands. "This is right!"

Their teacher sucked in a deep breath, shook his head, and walked away.

The football team stood there for several seconds. Their chests were tight, their throats were choked up, and for some reason they couldn't seem to get their breathing settled. Dash eyed all the failing grades with growing resentment. Even when they'd tried their hardest, they still failed.

Before they could truly break down, a soft voice spoke from behind him, "Dash?" Jazz Fenton worried, stepping forward and placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Are you alright?"

He didn't know what expression he must be wearing for Jazz to look that concerned. "We failed," he whispered, showing her his exam paper.

Jazz looked shocked, eyes widening. "That's impossible," she said, taking the exam from him and scanning its contents. Dash silently agreed with her. Danny had been an incredible tutor, and they really truly understood the content after he helped them.

After a moment of turning the pages, Jazz suddenly smiled. "Oh my"– she cut herself off with a laugh. His friends looked up from their tests to watch her with varying degrees of confusion and annoyance.

The redhead started to collect each of their tests, smiling encouragingly at them. "You guys didn't fail."

Garrell looked at her with growing hope. "We didn't?"

"No," Jazz reassured, turning towards Lancer's classroom and racing off, excitedly. "I'll explain in a minute!" She called over her shoulder.

Blake laughed halfheartedly. "I think your girlfriend just saved our asses."

Dash was too distracted by the growing feeling of hope to comment.

They waited during the ten-minute break for Jazz to reappear, and when she did, she brought both her little brother and Lancer in tow. Danny looked upset as he approached them. Once he was within hearing distance, he shook his head.

"I'm so sorry," Danny pleaded, hands tugging nervously at his shirt. "I didn't even realize I was doing it."

Confused, Blake exchanged looks with everyone before asking, "Doing what?"

"It appears that Mr. Fenton was an effective tutor in not only just Chemistry," Lancer said, a smile on his face once again. He passed out their exam papers with new red marks on them. Large, bright scores of B+'s or higher stared back at them.

Kwan gasped, showing everyone his score. "A 93%? Seriously?"

"I beat you!" Garrell shouted, throwing an arm around Kwan's shoulder in his excitement. "94.5%, bitches!"

The entire football team compared their scores, ignoring Lancer, Jazz, and Danny for the moment as their pride in their work filled them to the very brim.

Dash was so excited he could barely speak. They did it. They could play this Saturday's game. "I don't understand," he told the others. "Why did we get such a bad grade before?"

Lancer looked amused while Jazz laughed. "Because you were writing in a different language."

The team startled, turning towards Danny who was flushing red in embarrassment and doing his nervous habit of rubbing the back of his neck. "I am so, so sorry."

After a stunned pause, Garrell dropped his backpack in shock. "Do you mean to tell me, you not only taught us Chemistry, you taught us Chemistry in a foreign language," Garrell whispered, eyes wide.

"Ah, well," Danny laughed, "I am fluent in Ghost Speak."

Looking down at the symbols they had thought were just weird squiggles yesterday, the jocks looked excited. Every number, word, or symbol Danny had taught them yesterday stood out as blaringly not normal. They had been writing in the ghost language that both Jazz and Danny knew and translated for Lancer so he could grade their tests correctly.

The had been writing in Ghost Speak.

"Jesus Christ, Fenton," Blake laughed suddenly, rubbing his face in wonder. "It is really hard not to like you."

o.O.o.O.o.O.o

Chapter Text

“A tornado,” Lancer muttered. “I almost forgot we have those.”

“The damage will be kept to a minimum at the very least,” his colleague, Linda, the 9th grade biology teacher said. She was a little old lady who barely reached his shoulders but provided companionship amongst the hoard of students, nonetheless.

“Maybe we won’t have to replace a wall this time,” she continued.

“I’ll be honest, I’m looking forward to no human shaped holes,” Lancer commented wryly. He’d take a tornado over a ghost attack any day.

The procedures changed roughly around the start of the year. During a ghost attack, more or less the instructions prior to the Fentons installing a ghost shield around the gym were to get low to the ground and pray. Now, every class sought shelter inside the ghost shield for both tornado warnings and ghost attacks.

His students may not have been used to tornado threats, but they’d adjusted to ghost ones and just did the same thing. Lancer eyed his class gathering blankets and pillows in the corner. He suspected they stashed them in the gym last week.

“Do we even have insurance for tornados anymore?” Linda wondered.

The Federal government provided them support for ghost attacks as long as they kept quiet about the reason – if the ghosts were content with remaining in Amity Park, then the rest of the world did not need to know about America’s little problem, according to the government – something that Mayor Masters negotiated a few months ago.

“We can claim the damage came from an attack during the storm,” Lancer replied, shifting his weight. The students occupied the bleachers and the floor while the teachers stood by the entrances. Lancer’s feet hurt. Ghost attacks were a lot shorter than unpredictable natural disasters.

“Do you think there’s a ghost that controls the weather?” Lancer heard Mikey ask. His students remained together in a corner by Paulina’s blanket hoard. They looked comfortable.

“Yeah, and he’s probably a little bitch,” Blake, one of the linebackers for Casper’s football team, said irritably.

“I think Phantom should show up for every disaster, not just ghost ones,” Paulina announced from under a blanket. Lancer thought he saw Star’s arm sticking out the other side.

“You want Phantom to fight the weather?”

“He’d win,” she grumbled back.

“We should make a bat-signal for him,” Nathan said.

“You idiots would call him for getting lost in the halls,” Dash cut in.

“As if you wouldn’t use it to invite him to your football games,” Sam said. Her voice sounded amused.

“S-Shut up!”

“Do you guys ever go to the football games? Not just specifically you, Danny, I mean you and your friends. Cause I play. Linebacker. At the games if you ever want to watch. Um,” Jason, one of the Casper High offensive linemen, said.

“Jason, please stop,” Dash pleaded into his hands.

“No, please continue,” Sam said.

“If I have to be stuck with all of you for another hour, I’m throwing myself out the window,” Valerie informed.

Lancer needed a drink. He eyed Linda’s thermos that, by the smell of it, did not contain water. She smiled innocently at him. Great, he was the only one left to suffer then.

A particular loud sound caught their attention when something scraped against the wall closest to them. The object sounded metallic and rather large, dragging against the East and West walls of the gym as the tornado tossed it around.

“I hope that wasn’t anything important,” Lancer said in one breath and “Brave New World!” in another when the lights went out.

Blackouts were popular when ghosts attacked, but the Fentons had truly thought of everything. With the installation of the ghost shield, any time a blackout occurred they’d have the glow of the dome to navigate by. Unfortunately, with Amity Park’s shitty luck, Lancer was pretty certain the metal object launched into oblivion was their ghost shield.

Did the teachers have a plan B? No. Were they going to pretend they did? Definitely.

“Everyone, remain calm,” Lancer heard one of the 11th grade teachers on the other side of the gym announce. It was pitch black outside and without electricity it was just as pitch black inside for a moment.

One-minute Lancer couldn’t see a thing, then the gym was filled with green light.

“The shield?” Linda wondered, squinting against the sudden change.

Lancer would like to think he had a six sense when it came to his class. Not only had he taught the genius that is Jasmine Fenton, he gained quite a few odd characters from the class two years behind her, including her brother.

The incident with the football team and the discovery that both Jasmine and Daniel could speak “Ghost Speak” wasn’t even the start of it. Lancer first vivid memory of the kids was when Jazz entered high school and little twelve-year-old Danny was dragged along to the parent teacher conference because there were “too many dangerous inventions at home the kids might get into.”

Jack Fenton’s proud face when he claimed Danny had taught himself how to pick locks would forever burn in his memory.

Back then, the family had been a joke. Amity Park was a hotspot for supernatural energy? What bogus! No one had listened to them. Lancer still remembered when Danny and Jazz had a hard time adjusting, preferring to hide in the corner and pretend to be invisible in Danny’s case, and distancing herself from her family’s weirdness in Jazz’s. Now, the two were quite recognizable for different reasons, and wherever they were, there was bound to be a scandal.

Lancer ignored the sudden increase in shocked voices in favor of rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“Daniel, why are your eyes glowing?” he asked.

Daniel Fenton, to his credit, looked just as confused as everyone else. His expression was fairly easy to see, even with the two beams of gentle green light radiating from his eyes.

“This is new,” Danny said, eventually, blinking a few times. The light shone through his eyelids.

“Neat,” Jason exclaimed, leaning closer. Beside him, Blake suddenly gasped.

“Wait, does this mean your sister didn’t clean up all the ectoplasm from that explosion you told us about?” he said, looking worried. “You’re not poisoned, right?” Lancer swore he heard him mumble something about a sleepover.

“Are you wearing goggles?” Mikey questioned, tilting Danny’s head back so he could get a closer look. Several students across the gym complained when the light was taken away.

Danny looked otherwise normal except his eyes. Lancer didn’t trust that as a measure of what was normal. Already several other classes were attempting to move closer, but the football team was making a circle around Lancer’s corner.

“Are you injured?” Lancer asked, kneeling beside his student to avoid looking directly at him. The iris, pupil, and sclera were all glowing, making the teenager look like a rather odd flashlight.

“It was probably last night’s Spaghetti,” Danny said, smiling. “I’m fine, Lancer, honest.”

Lancer wished he could express to Danny how much that answer did not constitute fine. His expression must have done that for him because his student laughed.

“Do you know how much ectoplasm I ingest on a daily basis from my own mother’s cooking?” Danny elaborated, looking unconcerned. “Not to mention the cafeteria food.”

“I hate everything about that sentence,” Blake said.

“You’ve ingested ectoplasm,” Paulina echoed, wide eyes reflecting off Danny’s light. It seemed she had forgone the blanket for this discovery.

Danny turned his head towards where Dash was sitting. “I told you guys I knew what I was talking about when blood and ectoplasm mix. Jazz and I have been exposed to small, nonharmful amounts of energy since we were toddlers. The GIW have no idea what they’re doing.”

Lancer heard about the incident that placed Mr. Trenton on temporary leave. Dash looked like he was contemplating how terrible it would have been to glow in the dark – even if it meant dying later.

“Your family is super fucking crazy, dude,” Blake concluded, nodding at Danny. He shoved Dash with a pointed look, “Good luck.”

The implications behind the sentence and Dash suddenly stumbling over his words meant Jasmine Fenton had arrived. She looked as unconcerned as Danny, and Lancer was beginning to regret the benefits that came with a $19,000/y salary.

That was a joke. There were no benefits.

“And why don’t your eyes glow?” Lancer asked Jasmine Fenton when she found herself a seat amongst Lancer’s 3rd period class like she belonged there.

“Takeout,” Jazz replied.

“I think somebody needs to look into the cafeteria food because I am not okay with those implications,” Tucker announced, looking queasy.

“Go vegan,” Sam said.

“Shut up, Sam,” Tucker said back.

During the commotion, a few of Lancer’s colleagues left the doors to investigate where the new light was coming from. To the shock of no one, they didn’t seem surprised it involved Danny Fenton. The 10th grade History teacher offered to phone his parents, but Danny declined.

“So, no hospital?” someone asked, hovering behind Lancer who was still crouched beside his student.

“I’m good,” Danny said, smiling.

“I could use one,” Blake said. “I bought lunch today.”

Lancer refused to take pity on his poor, confused, colleagues; his job here was done. He announced to the gym that Mr. Fenton was fine, that they had light and should be grateful for it, and everyone needed to stay in their seats under the danger had passed.

Linda was where he’d left her, sipping her thermos with a smile.

“Quite a few characters you’ve got, Edward,” she commented, making room so he could lean against the wall next to her. “They sure keep you on your toes.”

“I think I can confidently say I have never had a student quite like Daniel Fenton,” Lancer agreed, sighing with bone-deep exhaustion. “I swear, it’s one thing after another. If it’s not ghosts, it’s ghost-related.”

“That comes with having ghost hunters for parents.”

“I can’t even imagine what their childhood was like.”

“The rumor is the Fenton’s were invited to the Amity News Station in a couple of days. Are you going to watch?”

“I have had quite enough exposure to the Fenton family, thanks,” Lancer huffed, arms crossed.

Linda hummed. “I think I’ll watch. Jasmine’s a bright, young girl and Daniel’s such a charming young man. Maybe I’ll learn something. You can only pretend to be indifferent for so long, Edward.”

Lancer looked to his right where his class huddled around Danny, making shadow puppets across his eyes. He wasn’t indifferent, Lancer just believed nothing mattered in the face of making sure his students were happy.

Simply put, Lancer could care less about the strange things that revolved around Danny Fenton. The moment he made eye contact with a twelve-year-old boy dragged to his sister’s parent-teacher conference, Lancer made the decision to make sure the stars in his eyes never went out. He didn’t need to know why those stars were even brighter now. He just wanted to keep counting them as they grew; maybe even be the reason one or two were there.

Because Danny Fenton was a child born with stars in his eyes and nothing could change Lancer's desire to see him amongst them.