Three years later…
“Hey!” Flash called out.
Phantom spun around, eyes wide as he tried to take deep breaths. He clenched his fists to keep them from shaking; his palms were sweaty and he didn’t know why he was even here in the first place.
“And I thought that I was the only one who could vibrate that fast,” Flash laughed, pulling Danny’s mind back to earth… metaphorically speaking. “Come on man, don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay! Just go in there, do your thing, and then you’re done!”
“Wally,” Phantom whined. “I don’t know if I can do this! Everyone’s out there, and they’re all expecting—“ he puffed up his chest and made a pose “—and I’m just—“ he let out his breath and slouched. He looked back up and glared when he heard Flash start to laugh.
“Oh—no, I’m—I’m sorry Danny, it’s just—“ the speedster choked out through giggles. “You just went through your Ghost King coronation thing like, what, two months ago? You looked fine then, what’s so different now? Aside from the fact that no one in there spent years trying to kill you.”
Phantom sighed, a green blush threatening to make its way to his face.
“Clockwork—uhh… right before my coronation, Clockwork promised to stop time for me… if I froze, or if I started panicking,” the eighteen-year-old admitted. Flash raised an eyebrow.
“Did he ever have to?”
“Then you’ll be fine!”
The speedster grinned wide and patted the nervous Phantom on the back. Flash’s enthusiasm and confidence was incredibly infectious, making the teen give a genuine smile before long.
Phantom wasn’t the scrawny kid that they had met those few years ago; three years of training with his ghost allies, his parents, and the Justice League has done him, and his reputation, a world of good. Without Vlad and the GIW trying to make him look bad, and without his parents misinterpreting everything and spitting out anti-ghost propaganda, the town slowly accepted him as their protector; especially after the League helped him create a cover story as to why both Daniel Fenton and Danny Phantom went missing for those couple of days when he was sealed in his core. They had said something about Phantom learning of Vlad’s plot, and taking the youngest Fenton to the Justice League for assistance. It really helped that Danny himself could corroborate the story in both forms.
Now that he was getting older, he had started to grow into his genes somewhat, as he was now almost as tall as Superman; but instead of growing into his father’s bulk, he had more of a lean build with toned musculature. About a year after he had indirectly come out to his parents as Phantom, they had presented him a new costume that they made specifically for his duties as the ghostly protector of Amity Park. He was surprised, to say the least, when he first saw it, because it looked almost exactly like the suit that his darker-self wore in the alternate future, except the cape didn’t look tattered.
At first, he had refused to wear it, scared that the future was trying to reassert itself. But after he explained the situation and his fear to his parents, with the support of his family and all of his friends, he decided that he was not going to let the fear of a man who he was never going to allow to exist ruin anything else in his life. That day, not only did Phantom change his look, but the people in Amity could tell that he was more content, in some way.
“Lastly, I would like to introduce the newest member of the Justice League…”
“Oh, that’s your cue!” Flash said in a rush. “You remember what you’re going to say, right?”
“What? Oh, uhh, yeah!” Phantom blinked, bringing his mind back to the here and now. “Just gotta remember to breathe. Just breathe.” He walked on stage, next to Superman at a podium, and looked down at the audience, which consisted of the growing number of League members and reporters from around the world.
“Danny Phantom,” Superman announced. The teen waved sheepishly. “As of today, like Wonder Woman of Themyscira and Aquaman of Atlantis, Phantom will also be acting as a diplomat and representative of his people from our sister dimension, the Infinite Realms… Now, I believe that Phantom has something prepared for us.” Hushed whispers spread throughout the crowd on the Watchtower as Superman stepped back from the podium, and shook hands with Phantom. “You’re going to do fine, Danny,” he whispered before he stepped to the side and allowed the teen to take his place at the microphone.
With the glare from the lights shining on his face, and the occasional flash of a camera, Phantom could not see anyone in the audience, just an unidentifiable mass of people that could have anywhere from encouragement to outright hatred and disgust on their faces; he would never know for sure. He gulped.
… … …
“Hello from the other side, I guess,” Phantom started with a smile. He breathed a small sigh of relief when he heard a few chuckles from the audience.
“As you all know, my name is Danny Phantom, and I’m a ghost, and yes, we are real. Throughout history, ghosts have been seen as evil, unfeeling, and non-sentient beings; one of my goals here is to dispel that rumor once and for all. Ghosts, for the most part, are just like people. Some lean towards violence, and will attack if provoked; others will go out of their way to protect, or do good; but most just want to live out their afterlife in the peace of their own realm.
“It is my duty as King to allow my people to have the most peaceful, prosperous, and fulfilling afterlife as possible; and that includes reaching out to the living world to ensure the continued safety of my realm, and its occupants. So far, the Infinite Realms—or the Ghost Zone, as it’s known today—has just been viewed as a mystery, an unknown, something to be feared. I believe that it is time that we come out of the shadows, and shed some light on things.
“Just like humans and aliens, ghosts can form bonds, relationships, and even families, with both the living world, and the dead. We have our own cultures and technologies, laws and traditions, and interests and ideas, which we would be more than willing to share, if you’ll have us. This may be the first time that we of the Ghost Zone have come to the living world in an official capacity, but we have always been here, running parallel to your world, and we will be here long after this planet is gone.
“As long as we have time on this world, we would like to share our resources in order to make both of our societies better for all of those who dwell within them.
“I, Danny Phantom, as Protector and King of the Infinite Realms, would like to thank the Justice League and the people of Earth for this alliance. We will work hard in order to solidify this union for many years to come. I look forward to working with all of you.
… … …
An applause rung out around him as Phantom took a step back from the microphone. The flashes from the cameras increased dramatically as Superman stood next to him and patted him on the back. He took one last calming breath and smiled.
“Phantom will now be open to taking your questions,” Superman informed them.
The reporters burst into noise and waving hands trying to be the first one to get their questions answered. Superman nudged Phantom slightly, indicating that he should be the one to choose. The teen stepped back up to the podium and pointed to a random journalist. The crowd quieted, and she stepped forward, notepad in hand.
“Mr. Phantom, is it true that you pulled the town of Amity Park into the Ghost Zone to take it over?”
“What? N-no!” Phantom stuttered. Not a good start. “That was the old Ghost King, Pariah Dark. That was actually when I got the title; I—how did Frostbite put it—I ‘bested him in single combat and inherited his status as Ruler of the Ghost Zone.’ So, yeah, that wasn’t me. Next question… um, you.” He pointed to a reporter near the back of the group.
“What does this mean for your apparent home town of Amity Park? Will you be leaving it unprotected?”
“There are many extremely competent and experienced ghost hunters in Amity Park, some of which I have worked closely for some time. Whether I’m there or not, the town will not go unprotected,” he answered. The teen then pointed to an older-looking man near the front row.
“Are you able to tell us who you were when you were alive?”
Phantom frowned, it seemed like he needed to teach these people a lesson—he unnoticeably winced at his internal wording—literally, not metaphorically. He sighed.
“I know this is very new to all of you, and most of you don’t know what lines shouldn’t be crossed when it comes to ghosts; so I’m just going to lay some quick ground rules,” he started, looking into the crowd. “First, it’s not cool to ask about our past lives. We’re dead. The memories of our lives are very personal to us, if we remember it at all. If a ghost wants to talk about their lives, they’ll let you know. Second, do not, under any circumstances, ask how a ghost has died. It is often one of the most traumatic experiences one has to go through. Again, if they want to talk about it, they’ll let you know. A hot-tempered ghost might get violent if these questions come up without their consent… so no, I’m sorry, but I can’t let you know anything about my life. Last question…” He pointed to a person in the center of the audience.
“What made you want to join the Justice League?”
Phantom thought about it, for a moment, with a fond smile on his face.
“Aside from the fact that they’ve saved my bacon a couple times,” he paused for some chuckles in the crowd. “It would have to be because outside of my closest friends and allies, they were the first people to accept me for who I am without any judgement for what I am. They’ve helped me through some tough times, and have even changed the way I see humanity. Without them, I would not have thought that an alliance between the living world and the Ghost Zone to be possible, let alone accepted. Plus, you know,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “I wanted to be a superhero ever since I was alive, so… who would say no to chance like that? Umm, thank you.”
He stepped back again to let Superman have the podium, and walked offstage as the older hero made his closing statements.
… … …
About half an hour later, Phantom was standing next to a round table where all of the original seven Leaguers were seated.
“You could have joined earlier, you know,” Flash commented. “I mean, Clark’s kid cousin is in the League and she’s what, sixteen?”
“Yeah, I know,” the ghost boy said. “But I promised mom and dad that I would at least finish high school first.”
“Smart,” Batman interjected.
“In any case,” Superman stood up and walked around the table, handing something small to the teen. Phantom looked at it, eyes wide, with a grin slowly growing on his face.
It was his official League Membership card.
“Welcome to the Justice League.”