Danny is fifteen when the first Observant appears to completely ruin his life.
He wakes up with the feeling on the sun on his face and the birds chirping from outside his window. It’s peaceful, really, with his blankets being warm and his pillow soft. He feels more than a little well rested, which is a first considering his usual night-time activities, and thinks that maybe (just maybe) he can make it to school before the first period bell rings.
Belatedly, his ghost sense goes off.
Danny’s expecting it, really. It doesn’t stop the swirling aggravation as his good luck comes to an end. The day started out abnormal simply due to the fact that he had not once woken up at some ungodly hour in the morning to beat up a wandering ghost and send it back to the ghost zone. As per Fenton luck, his morning is ruined before it even has the chance to begin.
He groans, rubs sleep from his eyes, and comes face to face with the giant floating eyeball.
“Holy shit—” Danny turns intangible out of sheer surprise, falls through his bed, and is left grasping the sheets in order to pull himself as far as he possibly can away from the wayward Observant that is conveniently floating in his room. The Observant looks at him without blinking and its long cape flutters around its pencil-thin figure.
For a moment, they simply stare at each other. Danny, on the floor in his space pajamas, and the Observant hovering a few feet from the ground with its weird, unblinking, green eye.
“What are you doing in my room?” Danny says, slowly, and picks himself off the ground. He settles into a familiar fight stance and readies himself for a confrontation; space pajamas, bed head, and all.
His previous encounters with the Observants and their weird time-council have not always been pleasant.
The Observant blinks at him, once, and says, “I have come to collect you for your coronation.”
“Your coronation, Daniel,” the Observant says with a sigh (which is really weird considering they don’t have mouths or, well, anything other than their eyes and hands). “It is time for you to take the throne and rule the Infinite Realms.”
Danny stares at him, his mouth opening and closing but no words coming out.
The Observant sighs again, “Please, come. There is much to do before you are crowned.”
Danny rubs his eyes just to make sure he’s not in some weird hallucination. He doesn’t think he’s fought any ghosts that could trap him in some freak alternate dimension or some sort of weird dream, but one can never be too careful. It would explain the situation more than whatever the Observant is trying to tell him, at least.
The Observants hate him. As if his own self-loathing isn’t enough to cover that base already. They’ve made it perfectly clear that should he ever mess up, should he ever become anything like Dan again, he would be destroyed and the council would not spare him pity for being a fifteen year old halfa.
Danny doesn’t remember doing anything bad or anything that could potentially cause his evil-future-self to come about and reign destruction and carnage on the Earth, but then again Danny doesn’t have temporal clairvoyance like Clockwork and the rest of the Observants. Maybe he slept through one too many classes? Maybe he shoved the wrong ghost in his thermos?
Not like it matters, anyways. It doesn’t change the fact that Danny promised he wouldn’t turn into that. He isn’t just going to take whatever scheme the Observants dished out for him without a fight.
Danny holds up his hands. “Alright, okay. Listen, you had me going there for a little bit. I gotta admit that I was pretty surprised and kudos for the creativity but if you’re going to come up with a plan to kill me, at least make it believable.”
The Observant narrows its beady eye. “The council does not like it any more than you, child, but even we cannot directly disobey the Ancient Code of Rights.”
“Do you really not know?”
Danny’s irritation bubbles to the surface and he throws up his hands. “Its not exactly like any of you hand out Being a Ghost for Dummies book! Ghosts don’t tell me anything unless they’re trying to post-mortem murder me!”
The Observant blinks at him again and says, “You bested the previous king and his army in single combat thus earning the rights to the throne, the Ring of Rage, the Crown of Fire and the position of King of all Ghosts. I am to lead you into the Infinite Realms where we shall hold your coronation and crown you king. From there, you shall lead the Realms, as did Pariah Dark in his prime.”
“King of all Ghosts—” Danny splutters out before taking a deep breath and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Alright, ignoring literally all of that for a second—why didn’t I get this position, oh, wow, I dunno, right after I defeated Pariah? It’s been a year now.”
“You did not even know about your own core,” the ghost says, sounding miffed. Danny thinks if anyone should be sounding aggravated right now, its him. “A ghost—rather, a halfa in your case—that does not know his own power cannot take the throne. The Council made a decision to wait until your powers were under your control and you have more knowledge concerning the Infinite Realms and the power you possess before taking your rightful place.”
Irritation bubbles to the surface as Danny tries to ignore the painful fact that he knows very little about ghost culture and ghost politics. He doesn’t dare tell the Observant this, though, because he doesn’t want the power anyways and he certainly doesn’t want to be king of some stupid dimension. His parents shoot at him enough thinking he's a normal ghost. There’s no telling what they would do if they ever were to find out he’s the ghost king.
Ectoplasm sparks to life in his hands as he tries to keep his emotions in check. He’s angry and confused and worried and he wonders why couldn’t things just stay simple?
It still doesn’t change the fact the Observants have tried to do something worse than kill him on several different occasions. A thought comes to mind.
“You tried to have me obliterated.”
“Yes,” the Observant says simply. “That still would have been the preferable outcome to this entire situation.”
Danny blasts the floating eyeball out of his room and doesn’t once feel bad about it.
There’s an eyeball in his locker.
Danny glances around at the nearly empty halls and hisses out, “What are you doing here? Go away before I make you!”
The Observant hardly looks rattled at the threat. If anything, the thing seems even more determined to get Danny to go through with this absolute bullshit plan to make him, someone who is half human, king of the ghosts. “Follow me to the Infinite Realms for your coronation. You are under obligation to meet the council at Pariah’s Keep where you shall receive the Crown of Fire and the Ring of Rage.”
“No,” Danny snaps. “I have an English test next period with Mr. Lancer.”
“This is no time for your silly human games—"
Danny slams the locker in its eye. He turns to look at his friends, feeling deader inside currently than when he’s in ghost form.
“Huh,” Sam says and blinks in surprise. “When you told us this morning, I thought you were kidding.”
The locker rattles behind him. Danny casually leans against it when people start looking his way. The Observant could easily use intangibility to escape, but, for some reason, doesn’t. Danny’s not going to question it and says, instead, “I wish I was.”
“Kinda cool that we’re friends with royalty,” Tucker says.
“You’re not,” Danny says. “Because I’m not taking some stupid crown and I’m not ruling the Ghost Zone where I am constantly in danger because ghosts hate me. I’m perfectly fine out here, with my family, and away from all of them.”
“Frostbite doesn’t hate you,” Sam says. Danny shoots her a look but she continues on like she hadn’t seen him. “Neither does Dora or Pandora, I think. And Cujo and Wulf.”
“You gotta admit, dude,” Tucker says and slings an arm around him before meandering away from the rattling locker. “The whole Ghost King thing is pretty wild.”
Danny’s so tired.
“Tucker, honestly, I just want to get to college and maybe not fail at life,” Danny says. He has a horrible feeling in his gut that this is only the start of what might be the end of his entire future. “And I have a very bad feeling that my future is not going to be as normal as I want it to be.”
Jazz figures out the entire situation by the end of the first night when she sees a floating eyeball hovering in front of Danny’s bedroom door. She ends up yanking him in her room and forcing him to tell her everything. He tells her, albeit reluctantly, but he does have to admit it feels pretty good to get it off his chest.
It still isn’t a fun conversation for any of them considering Danny’s future hanging by nothing more than a flimsy string.
Life still goes on. Mr. Lancer assigns him an absurd amount of homework. The school gets shut down at least twice a day because of Observant sightings. Unfortunately for Danny, school doesn’t stop just because a bunch of ghostly eyeballs have taken to haunting the school corridors.
Besides, by the third day and seventh missed class, Danny makes it exceptionally clear that the Observants should not—under any circumstance—enter his school and disrupt his classes. If they do, then Danny hasn’t been scared to use force in the past and definitely isn’t scared to punch a giant eyeball in the face should he see them wandering the halls or loitering in the windows.
The Observants learn very quickly. So, instead of bothering him in the halls, they wait outside in the parking lot until he’s let out of class at the end of the day. From there, they float around him (along with an unwilling Sam and Tucker) and try to convince Danny to enter the Ghost Zone and become a king of a realm he doesn’t even totally belong to.
“—Your coronation ceremony awaits you in the Infinite Realms. The Council has requested your presence.”
Danny breaths through his nose, shares a sideways look with his friends, and tries not to do anything drastic. The Observant is just lucky that the streets are currently empty because, otherwise, Danny would not be putting up with the constant pestering. “Do you have anything new to say?”
“Should you not come then The Council will be forced to do things outside of prior tradition.”
At least it said something new, Danny thinks even though he doesn’t necessarily like the tone the Observant is using. Out loud, he says, “Does that mean you’ll leave me alone and find a new king?”
“No,” the Observant says.
“Damn,” Danny says. “Anything else profound?”
“The Infinite Realms is in need of a ruler—"
“I said anything profound?”
The Observant actually looks a little offended by that. Tucker hides his laugh behind a cough while Sam doesn’t try to hide hers at all. He gives them a wry grin when he thinks the Observant isn’t looking and all three of them burst into laughter.
The Observant narrows its eyes at the group and says, stiffly, “Very well. If this is your choice.”
It disappears in a puff of smoke. Danny glances at the spot where the Observant once floated and shrugs because, well, it’s not like he can do anything about it now. It doesn’t stop the sudden feeling of apprehension that washes over him.
“Do you think they’re actually going to leave Danny alone?” Tucker asks.
“Going off Danny's current track record," Sam says. "It'll probably just get worse."
Danny holds his head in his hands and thinks oblivion might not actually be that bad now.
“I’m not coming to the stupid coronation,” Danny snaps the moment he sees the eyeball in his bedroom. It’s a new one, of course, because The Council apparently never sends the same Observant twice.
This one is definitely different, though. It's holding something close it its chest in its green, clawed hand. Every couple seconds, Danny catches sight of a flickering green light despite not being able to make out the object’s shape.
“Since you have made your refusal to enter the Infinite Realms for your coronation, then we are forced to bring the coronation to you,” the Observant answers. It opens its hands and presents the object; small, black and flickering in a eerie green flame with a smooth bottom and tiny points at its top. He can’t help the small sense of familiarity as he takes the object in.
Danny feels his heart stop.
“Wait, what—this that the CROWN?”
“Bow your head, child,” the Observant says. “And we shall get this over with.”
Danny backs up so fast he hits the opposite wall before the Observant can move a single step closer. He drops into a fight stance. “Yeah, uh, no. I’m good, thanks. Please go back to the Ghost Zone and literally never come back here again.”
“You do not yet hold power over The Council.”
Danny shifts to into his ghost form and charges up an ectoblast. The combination of its flashing light and the fire from the crown cast an eerie green glow on the walls of his room. “Wanna bet?”
The Observant takes a step forward. “This is cumbersome—"
“Oh, wow, I’m sorry,” Danny snaps and spots his thermos right behind the giant, floating eyeball. He mentally makes a quick plan in his head. “Next time you try and make my life a living hell I’ll make it easier for you!”
The Observant makes a move as if it were going to place the crown on Danny's head but Danny's faster. He dodges, rolls out of the way, and blasts the stupid ghost in the side. It doesn’t make a sound, but it does narrow its eye further.
“If you put that thing on my head so help me—HEY, I said don’t. I don’t want your stupid crown or your stupid throne!” Danny tries to keep his frustration under control as the observant moves to place the damn thing on his head again. He lunges to the other side of his room, fingers curling around the familiar metal of his thermos. “Find someone else and leave me alone.”
The Observant slinks back, crown still in hand. It glances at the object before meeting Danny’s eyes. “I see this will not be easy.”
Danny doesn’t give it a chance to move. Before the Observant can even react, he opens the thermos and sucks the thing up (crown and all). The green glow of the room vanishes. Danny is left standing, alone, in the lightly damaged remains of his once-clean bedroom.
He finds a new Observant in his fridge with a certain flaming crown in its hand. He slams the fridge door shut without a single word.
Unfortunately, Observants are ghosts which means they have ghost powers and this one is much smarter than the locker-Observant. It phases through the fridge and attempts to place the crown on his head without a single word.
At least they were past formalities now.
“I’d say give it to Plasmius but we all know how that would end,” Danny says and dodges the hands that attempts to pin him down. He’s stuck in human form for the time being seeing as his parents are just a room over and he doubts they would be happy to find Phantom floating in their kitchen with Fenton missing. “Don’t—hey! If you don’t stop, I’m going to blast you, I swear to the ancients—"
“We are the ancients, Daniel—"
“Oh my god, shut up. Please, stop talking.”
“This is your destiny—”
“Has it ever occurred to you or your council that forcing a fifteen year old to become a king is really fucked? Like, seriously, I haven’t even graduated high school yet, I’m barley passing history, I don’t know anything about politics, I can’t even vote in human elections, and you want me to become a king?”
Footsteps come from the room next to him. Danny meets the Observant’s eyes as he realizes the fact that there is a ghost in a ghost hunter’s house. There is absolutely nothing good that will come from this.
“Danny?” His mom’s voice calls out.
Danny slams a pillow over the Observant and sits on it just as his mom rounds the corner. She looks around the room, once, and doesn’t seem to notice how Danny’s awkwardly sprawled out on the couch in a desperate attempt to keep her from seeing the Observant.
"Hey, mom," Danny says, casual.
“I thought I heard yelling. Is everything all right?”
Underneath him, the Observant squirms in clear discomfort. Danny hopes he elbows it in the eye.
Danny laughs nervously and plasters on a smile that’s just a bit too wide. “Nope, no yelling. I didn’t hear yelling. Everything is fine, mom. Nothing to see here.”
He feels a hand creeping up his back and he whips around to grab the clawed green appendage before it can force the crown on his head. Unfortunately, in his effort to resist being crowned, he forgets all about his ghost-hunting mom who has definitely saw the ghost beneath the pillow.
Danny likes to think that his life is just one string of disasters after another with absolutely no end in sight.
“Is that a ghost?!” Mom says and, oh boy, her gun is already out and pointed at the Observant.
Danny shares a slightly panicked look with the Observant, still holding it’s hand with the crown away from his own head. It might be the stupid eyeball’s fault in the first place, but Danny doesn’t think anyone really deserves to get handed over to his mom. Or get ripped apart molecule by molecule. That would almost be as bad as Skulker skinning him and hanging his pelt on the wall.
Danny scrambles off the couch, “Okay, this is all just a big misunderstanding—"
Mom’s not listening to him, though. Her gun whirls with power and she takes a step forward. “Step away from my son, you ectoplasmic fiend!”
The Observant either wants to die again or is stupidly brave because it stands up, billowing cape and all. “He is to bear the crown and the ring as seen by The Council and take his place as the rightful ruler of the Infinite Realms in order to—”
Mom blasts the Observant before it can say another word. Danny has never been so grateful for his mom’s trigger happy finger in his life.
His mom turns to look him over. Danny shrinks back and says, weakly, “I think they have me confused with a ghost.”
The Observant floats back into a standing position, the crown flickering in his hand. Unfortunately, one blast is never enough to force an Observant to leave. Danny should know. He’s blasted them enough times to figure it out.
Danny hates floating eyeballs with his entire being.
“Daniel James Fenton,” the Observant says and dodges the next shot by his mom. It tries to approach him, yet again, with the crown outstretched. “You must take the crown and the ring in order to rule the Infinite Realms as it is your right—"
“Shut up,” Danny throws a couch pillow at it. The pillow bounces harmlessly off the ghost but his mom shoots it a second later so he feels rightfully validated.
“Don’t touch my son!” his mom snaps.
She blasts the ghost enough to send it backward, into the kitchen. The crown goes skidding out of its hands and rolls right to Danny’s feet. Danny meets the Observant’s eye. Then, out of pure spite, he kicks the thing as far away from him as possible. The Observant narrows its eye.
Mom has a ectogun to the Observant’s face before it can protest. Danny tries to hide his smile, but doesn’t do a fantastic job if the look the Observant is giving him is anything to go by.
“Listen here, you odd manifestation of ectoplasmic energy and post-human consciousness,” Mom says and leans a bit closer. “You are going to tell me exactly why you are here and exactly what you were trying to do to my son.”
The Observant doesn't even look at her.
“Another time, then,” the Observant says. It’s glaringly obvious that it is not talking to Danny’s mom. It stares at him with its weird, beady eye.
Mom notices and shakes the thing with her fists. She looks a second away from decking it and, if it had been any other situation, Danny might have let her. He probably would’ve even laughed. This situation, however, is not one Danny finds much humor in.
The Observant gives him one more look before both it and the crown disappear in a puff of green smoke. His mom’s face twists into one of furious frustration but she doesn’t seem wholly surprised. The house plunges into a irreversible quiet and, sitting on the floor of the living room, Danny feels a familiar twinge of apprehension in his gut.
It’s incredibly apparent that the Observants have no qualms about secret identities.
Not a second later, his dad bursts into the room with a gun in hand. “GHOST?”
“You just missed it, honey,” Mom says, fuming, before dropping to her knees and pulling Danny into a hug. “Oh, Danny, I’m so sorry. That must have been so terrifying for you. I know how much those nasty ghosts scare you. I promise that we'll work on the ghost shield and nothing like that will ever happen again.”
Luckily, his mom seems more concerned about the fact that a ghost got into their house and tried to attack their son than to pay close attention to the words the ghost has spoken. It doesn’t stop the rush of guilt that holds his very core.
"Yeah," Danny says. "Never again."
“Take the crown, Daniel.”
“Can’t,” Danny says, tightly. “I have an algebra test tomorrow that I haven’t studied for because someone keeps trying to put a crown on my head when I’m sleeping so, as you can see, I’m trying not to be stressed about that. Can we please schedule this for another time?”
The Observant gives him a look. For a floating eyeball, the thing is shockingly expressive.
Danny shifts into a fighting stance. “Right, of course. I forgot nothing is easy with any of you.”
Jazz catches him shuffling down the stairs to the basement at four o’clock in the morning.
“Danny,” she says slowly, “How many of those eyeball ghosts are in that thermos?”
“Twenty seven,” Danny answers and tries not to fall down the stairs in pure exhaustion.
It’s more of a game at this point—try and get as close to the ghost kid as possible to put on the crown and the ring before he blasts them. Danny thinks the game sucks and he wants out.
“You don’t look very good.”
“Thanks, Jazz. I hadn’t realized.”
Danny can tell from her face that she’s trying to psychoanalyze him but he likes to think that he’s actually doing pretty well considering the sheer number of Observants that try to force a crown or ring on him. It’s been almost a week and, well, he’s still not the Ghost King so that has to count for something. Danny is holding off hope that the council will get the message and fuck off.
“Don’t be sarcastic, Danny, I’m just worried,” Jazz says and follows him down the stairs. “How are you holding up?”
“My life is a nightmare,” Danny answers. “And my nightmares manifest in the form of lots of floating green eyeballs.”
He takes the last couple steps into the basement and places the thermos in the release shoot. There’s no point in keeping them in there—Danny knows because he’s already tried. No matter what he does or where he keeps them, both the Observants that he’s captured and the crown vanish from the thermos. Then, they show up the very next day and the cycle begins all over again.
“That’s very specific,” Jazz tells him. Then, “If they keep popping up like they have, it’s going to be very hard to keep your secret from mom and dad for much longer.”
“Jazz,” Danny says and tries to keep the worry out of his voice (even if he knows it's a losing battle). “If this keeps going then I’m not going to have a secret to hide from anyone anymore.”
There’s yelling on the streets and an ectoblast whizzes past his ears.
Danny’s in ghost form, fresh out of a battle from a rogue ghost, flying high above the streets with his parents following behind him in their assault vehicle. They’re yelling at him, like normal, and trying to blast him out of the air. Had it been any other day, Danny could’ve lost them in mere minutes. Today, however, he’s exhausted from the fifteen observants he’s been avoiding and the two ghosts that he’s fought just this afternoon.
Another blast comes dangerously close to hitting him.
His ghostly tail flicks in irritation and he turns, just for a moment, to yell out, “Stop blasting me!”
He almost gets an ectoblast to the face in reply.
“Hold it, ghost kid! Listen to me when I’m talking to you!”
Danny races through the streets, the RV curving dangerously on the road behind him. A shot fizzes by his ear and he drives to the right, towards the school. He makes it a good thousand feet when an Observant pops, literally, right in front of him with the crown in his hand.
Danny shoots the Observant on principal.
Unfortunately, Observants are freakishly strong for only being a giant floating eyeball and, sure enough, he has a grand total of three different pursuers behind him. The only thing that could make his day better is if Valerie shows up to join the party.
(He really, really hopes Valerie does not show up to join the party. Danny doesn’t think he can handle his parents, the Observants, and Valerie well enough to keep the crown off his head and his secret intact.)
Too add to Danny’s extreme luck, he can only take so many ectoblasts before even he needs to land lest he be forced to transform back into a human. He lost the Observant a couple blocks back, but, sadly, his parents will not be bound by important things like traffic laws and speed limits.
His parents end up cornering him in some wayward back alley where they stand at the mouth, blocking the entrance. Both guns are trained on his grounded form.
His dad aims his ectogun right at Danny’s face and shouts, “Freeze, spook!”
Danny really, really doesn’t want to fight his parents but he also doesn’t want to be caught and dissected, so he powers up his ectoblasts anyways and waits for a good enough opening to fly away without being shot out of the sky for a second time today. His mom watches him with a wary caution that he matches. Out of the two, she’s definitely the more dangerous one.
“Come quietly, Phantom. You’re trapped,” his mom says.
It’s then that the Observant decides to make its appearance directly next to his parents at the mouth of the alley, holding out the crown. His parents jump at the sudden arrival of yet another ghost but the Observant pays them no mind.
“GHOST!” Jack yells and hoists his gun to the newest arrival.
“You’re the ghost that was in our house the other day,” his mom says with a sort of venom in her voice. She looks mad—actually pissed off—which is something Danny’s glad he’s never been on the receiving end of (yet). She seems almost conflicted, like she wants to aim at the new ghost but can't since her gun is currently trained on Danny's chest.
The Observant hardly reacts, holding the crown out further. It meets Danny’s eyes and Danny has half a mind to blast the thing, despite his parents being there.
“Please do not make this more difficult than it already is,” it says.
There’s a split second in Danny’s mind where he almost considers turning himself over to his parents. Surely, it would be better than whatever awaited him should the Observant actually manage to crown him.
“Listen, guys,” Danny says and backs away. He holds up his hands, placating. “This has been fun and all but I’m very tired and I don’t actually want to deal with this so if I could, like, leave, that would be great.”
His mom’s eyes snap back over to him and she lifts her gun from where she had lowered in during her surprise. “You aren’t going anywhere, spook!”
The order actually got a rise out of the Observant. It turns to his parents with its single eye narrowed. “You have no jurisdiction over Phantom.”
“Phantom is in our town,” his mom snaps right back. The gun unwittingly moves more towards the Observant and less towards Danny. "Therefore we decide what is and is not fit!”
“He is the rightful king—"
"Ghosts don't have kings—"
Through the bickering, no one notices as Danny sinks into the floor, slips out of the alley, and vanishes.
“Please, don’t,” Danny says.
He’s in ghost form, hovering about two hundred feet off the ground. It had been a normal morning for him so far despite the distinct lack of Observant appearances. Now, with a sick feeling in his stomach, Danny understands why.
In front of him, the Fright Knight stands in all his terrifying, ten foot tall glory. “You must bear the Crown of Fire and the Ring of Rage in order to take your place on the throne."
"Cant we talk about this, maybe?" Danny says, a little leery and more than a little pissed off. It's one thing to deal with a bunch of annoying, flying eyeballs but it's another thing entirely for said flying eyeballs to recruit the ghost of nightmares.
"I apologize, my prince, but there is no option here.”
Behind the Fright Knight, ten or so Observants loiter in the air. The one in the middle holds the familiar flaming crown and another holds the ring. They surround him in a semicircle, looking expectantly at the Fright Knight.
Danny’s life really sucks.
“Oh, there’s an option alright,” Danny snaps. This is going to hurt (it’s so going to hurt), but Danny is not going to let the Observants or the Fright Knight get that god-awful crown on his head. “I beat you once and I can do it again!”
The Fright Knight tilts his head in recognition and draws his sword. “Perhaps, but I am not playing to win.”
Has Danny ever mentioned that his life sucks? Because his life sucks.
“Should we help him?” Tucker asks Sam from where they stand below. Danny can just barely make out the words they’re saying with humming of his core and the rush of adrenaline that shoots through his system.
“I don’t think they’re planning on hurting him?” Sam answers back. “Besides do you have anything to go up against the Fright Knight?”
“Point,” Tucker says.
(Danny has great friends.)
“We would rather have done this the easy way,” one of the Observants says. The others bob their eyeballs in agreement.
Danny whirls on them, eyes narrowed. “You forfeited your right to have opinions on what's easy when you brought the Fright Knight into this!”
“It’s for your own good,” the same Observant answers. “The Fright Knight serves the king and the king alone.”
“For your own good,” Danny grumbles under his breath, mockingly. His hands light up with ectoplasm. “We’ll see about that.”
The fight doesn’t take long.
It’s as the Fright Knight said; he is not fighting to win. Fright Knight is not below a few dirty tricks to hold Danny down for just a few seconds. Danny puts up a good fight but he's running on three shots of espresso and maybe a sum total of six hours of sleep the entire week thanks to the constant threat of Observants trying to put the crown on his head or ring on his finger.
Safe to say, he's not in his prime condition.
The Fright Knight ends up pinning him down in the middle of the destroyed street. His friends rush forward to help, but two Observants hold them back. Danny thrashes from where he’s pinned but he can’t do much more than move his head around. The Fright Knight and his horse are, unsurprisingly, very heavy and apparently very well trained in holding down slippery, intangible ghost-teenagers.
The Observant holding the crown approaches him slowly. Danny tries to bite it’s long, claw like hands out of spite but the Observant goes intangible before he can make contact. It slowly lowers the crown towards his head.
Danny’s eyes flash a dangerous green. “I swear, if you put that crown on my head I’ll—are you kidding me?!”
The Observant drops the crown on his head. It hovers just a few centimeters above his hair and Danny immediately feels a heavy sort of energy expanding throughout his body. The crown flares to life, changing from a small flicking fire to a roaring flame as power gathers in his very core.
“You could have come to your own coronation. We were forced to take drastic measures,” the Observant that crowned him says.
Boy, doesn't that just set Danny off.
With a snarl, Danny uses the new energy to twist and blast the Fright Knight off his back. The crown follows his movement, flaring brightly whenever he uses his powers. Instead of fighting back, Fright Knight merely bows and disappears. Danny waits a couple moments, tense and ready to fight, but it seems the Fright Knight has done what he came here to do.
The crown feels heavy on his head.
He blasts the two Observants holding Sam and Tucker, too, just because they’re annoying. They rush over to him, but he holds up a hand and motions for them to wait. There are, after all, still ten ghosts and a ring that Danny needs to avoid.
Danny turns to the Observants, fights clenched and eyes narrowed. “Okay, congrats! You win. The crown is on my head. Please get rid of it now.”
“The Crown of Fire is your right,” one Observant says. “It belongs to you alone.”
An idea suddenly comes to mind.
“Cool,” Danny says, slowly. He takes the crown off and is surprised how little it resist. The fire doesn’t even burn his hand as he holds it by the rim. “Then you won’t mind if I do this.”
He throws the crown as far as he can, watching it sail above the homes. It flies for a hot minute before flicking out of sight. Danny feels strangely satisfied when he turns to the Observants with a grin on his face. However, the Observants don’t look nearly as worried as Danny expects them to. In fact, they look unbearably smug for what is, functionally, a giant floating eyeball.
The looks he's getting ring as very bad in his mind.
Something heavy settles back on his head. Danny’s smile drops and feels a sinking alarm in his gut when he reaches up to touch the flaming crown that he had, just mere seconds ago, thrown across the entire town. The same power settles in his core once again.
“No,” Danny whispers, horrified.
“Holy shit,” Tucker says from across the street.
Danny turns and catches Sam’s eye. She mouths what is going on? at him. Danny wishes he knew anything about what’s happening but, as always, he’s clueless and confused and no small part of him is very, very angry.
The Observants merely stare at him. One steps forward and says, “The crown is yours by right. Hold out your hand and we will bestow upon you the Ring of Rage. Then your coronation will be completed and we shall leave you and return to the Infinite Realms to continue our temporal duties.”
Danny’s flare a brighter green. Ectoplasm pools in his hands and he readies for another fight. He doesn’t know it at the time, but his crown flickers to life. Suddenly uneasy, the Observants back away slowly.
“If you try and put that ring on my hand I will cut off my fingers,” Danny says.
“You won’t,” another Observant says.
They get the ring on his finger but, by god, Danny doesn’t go down without blasting all ten of them into the ground first. They pin him just like before, in yet another crater in the middle of a street with the crown on his head, the ring on his finger and unimaginable power flowing through his veins.
Apparently satisfied, the Observants let him up and quickly retreat. Danny stands, grumbling all the while, brushes off the remainder of dust on his suit and turns to the Observants. He stares at the group, wondering just how he should get rid of them before they ruin more lives. Then, all ten of then fall to their knees.
Danny takes a step back in alarm.
“All hail King Phantom,” the Observants say together. Their voices echo across the quiet streets of Amity Park. “Defeater of Pariah Dark and ruler of the Infinite Realms.”
People come out of their houses, peeking and staring up at him in horrified awe. Children point to his crown and laugh while the eyes of the adults reflect unseen amounts of terror. Danny can already see whatever good reputation he had dying like a snuffed out flame due to a single announcement.
Danny meets Sam and Tucker’s eyes and wishes for nothing more than to flicker out of existence at that very moment.
Instead, Danny is forced to stand there, arms crossed and pissed off, with a burning crown floating on his head, a heavy ring on his finger and the weight of the entire Ghost Zone on his shoulders.
It’s quite possibly the worst day he’s ever had in his entire half-life.
The ghosts coming out of the portal over the next couple days to congratulate him almost make the situation worse.
It’s Johnny 13 who comes out first, gives him an exaggerated bow with a grin and says, “Hope you have a fun time being king, kiddo. I don’t envy you.”
Danny, who has had the worst two weeks of his life, simply rolls his eyes and mutters a sarcastic, “Thanks.”
“Kitty sends her regards as well," Johnny flashes him a lopsided grin and gets on his bike. He revs the engine before suddenly looking back. "Don’t expect the current peace to last.”
Danny watches him go, hands in his head. The crown flickers in the dim light and ring glows. He’s still not quite sure what a normal king is supposed to do; much less king of the Ghost Zone.
“The crown looks good on you, dipstick,” Ember says, later, when he’s out flying and trying to clear his head. "Better than Pariah, at the very least."
No matter what he’s tried, the crown and ring simply won’t go away. He's been forced to wear an assortment of hats and gloves in order to keep his parents from finding out. They're pissed enough that Phantom was crowned the Ghost King as it is.
“I hate this,” Danny tells her. “I want the crown and the ring gone.”
The other ghosts are definitely enjoying his absolute misery, even if they were all on somewhat friendly terms. As it turns out, a lot ghosts tend to play suck-up when confronted with unimaginable power.
Ember's smile widens and she says, “Well they’re your crown and ring. You can do what you want with them.”
Danny wants them gone. Then, he realizes something and stares at her in surprise.
“Was that advice?” Danny asks. "Did you just give me advice?”
“I thought you hated me.”
“Right now, I pity you more than anything,” Ember tells him. “It’s whatever, babypop. You’re the king now and you’re no Pariah Dark so even if you do get in the way of my plans, I’d rather have you be king than go back to his rule.”
“That’s a very low bar to set,” Danny mutters under his breath. He stands, the crown flaring as he does so. He tries to hide his scowl. “Don’t cause trouble or, I dunno, try and brainwash the entire human population and you can stay.”
He disappears into the air, content to head home for the night. Behind him, Ember calls out, “Think about what I said, dipstick! It’s your own power. You just have to learn how to use it.”
Later that night, he floats on his bed an concentrates. His own power bubbles to the surface and, in a fit on control, he wills his ring and crown to disappear. The objects flicker once, twice, before vanishing entirely. They’re not completely gone, of course, because he can still feel the power in his body but hidden is better than nothing.
It's the first bit of control he's felt in the past three weeks.
Technus gives him some weird ghost device as a congratulations present. Danny’s pretty sure it’s not going to explode and/or capture him, but he can never be certain with a ghost like Technus. He ends up quietly shuffling it to Tucker when the technology-themed ghost isn’t looking.
Youngblood, Spectra, the Box Ghost, Lunch Lady, Desiree and even Vlad (holy shit) come and give him (begruding) congratulations. Half of them think it's hilarious that he’s the poor sucker who gets the bear the burden of the crown while the other half think it’s too much power for his tiny halfa body to handle. Luckily, Danny now has a much easier time sending them back to the Ghost Zone if they get too rowdy.
Vlad gives him an especially vindictive look when he corners Danny in their human forms. Danny returns his look by secretly flipping him off since he can’t exactly shoot the mayor with an ectoblast in public.
Vlad leers over him in what's supposed to be intimidating. “I doubt you can hold on to that crown forever, boy.”
Danny might not want to be king but there’s absolutely no way that he would ever let the crown or the ring fall into Vlad’s hand.
He pushes Vlad away and clenches his fists, eyes narrowed. “Are you going to try and take it from me, fruitloop?”
“Perhaps another time,” Vlad says with a smile. Danny holds his fists to his side to keep from punching him in the face. “After all, a crown is a heavy burden for a child to bear.”
Danny grits his teeth. “I think I’ll manage.”
“We will see, little badger,” Vlad says and turns to leave.
Danny glances around, just to make sure no one is looking, before creating a tiny ice patch right in front of Vlad. He tries to keep his laughter muffled (but definitely takes pride) when the billionaire-asshole slips and sends him a particularly nasty glare. He gives Vlad the most innocent wave he can muster despite the grin on his face.
Danny finds that he probably needed that meeting with Vlad. While he still doesn’t want the crown, Danny finds that spite is one hell of a motivator to keep the crown as far away from Vlad as possible.
Skulker comes last. To Danny’s horrified surprise, he bows low and says, “Congratulations.”
Danny stands in his pajamas at three o’clock in the morning, feeling slightly overwhelmed. “Alright, what's going on this time?”
“It’s custom to greet the new king,” Skulker says and straightens back out. Danny’s half waiting for a gotcha! and some missiles but Skulker doesn’t do much more than observe him.
Danny narrows his eyes and crosses his arms. “Do you have to be weird about it?”
“Don’t get me wrong, whelp,” Skulker says as he turns to leave. “This will not last. I hope you realize that just because you're king does not mean I will stop hunting you. Your crown just makes you that much more valuable to mount on my wall.”
Danny shifts between feeling touched and a little relived at the normalcy of the situation and the normal disgust that comes with Skulker threatening to skin him because, really, it’s just gross. Despite his words, he still hears the silent message Skulker is trying to convey.
Just because your king doesn’t mean anything will change.
And that? That’s more than a little relief off his shoulders. For the first time since he was crowned, Danny lets out a genuine burst of laughter and a grateful smile comes to his face.
“Thanks,” Danny says. “I don’t think I’d have it any other way.”