“C’amon, Danny. Don’t you think it’s even a little cool that your parents are building a portal to another dimension?”
“Yeah, it’ll be cool if it works, but going by their history with things like this? I mean, how many working inventions have you actually seen down in that lab, Sam?” Tucker interrupted.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Tuck,” Danny shot back.
“Hey, all I’m saying is your parents have some great ideas but lack the execution.”
“Oh, whatever,” Sam said, pushing herself between the two boys. “Let’s just get there to see them try it.”
Realizing that was a potentially more amusing option than homework, the trio made their way to Danny’s house.
If you were to see them walking down the street together without really knowing them, chances are they would strike you as an odd group. And they were an odd group, bound together by the seemingly unbreakable bonds of the middle school and then high school social hierarchy. Or, as local bully Dash liked to say, losers attract.
You had Sam Mansion, goth, vegan, feminist, and general rebel. She realized a while ago she could have been popular but decided against it. Being an individual and standing up for herself and her beliefs was more rewarding, even if it came at a social cost.
Then there was Tucker Folly. African American techno genius and general geek. Video games, computer programs, those were his specialties. He was, in a way, the coolest of the local techno freaks, but that didn’t do much for one’s social status.
And finally, there was Danny Fenton. Social outcast simply because he aligned himself with social outcasts. Oh, and also his parents. Always his parents. You might think having Jack and Maddie Fenton, the world’s premier ghost hunters, as your parents would make you a popularity magnet. Nope. Not when they had a reputation for being the “ghost freaks.” But Danny didn’t mind too much. He knew they kept Amity Park safe, even if some people weren’t entirely aware of what they needed to be kept safe from.
The trio arrived at the FentonWorks building, a multi-level brownstone and ground zero for tests and experiments ran by Jack and Maddie Fenton. The place was like a fortress. Sometimes Danny couldn’t help but wonder what out of towners thought when they passed by their odd little establishment, but all that mattered to him was that for Jack, Maddie, Jasmin, and himself, was home.
Of course, like any home, it wasn’t without its problems. There was that one Christmas where the turkey had been accidently re-animated by one of his parent’s inventions. Or the day Jasmin had accidently brought her soup to school in a prototype ghost-catching device only for it explode in her locker (although in Jasmin’s defense, it did look just like a thermos). Or the incident with the Fenton Plasma Gun v. 3, which left Danny with only half a left eyebrow.
But otherwise, life was pretty normal.
Together they entered the house and went downstairs towards the lab, where Jack and Maddie were adding some final adjustments to the new device. This new invention was a big one, and complicated too. There were multiple chalkboards on wheeled stands lining the perimeter of the room, each one covered in complex equations and diagrams. In the middle of them, all one was rather simply done, just bearing the words “The Fenton Ghost Portal” above a drawing of the device now being worked on by Danny’s parents. It was a strange looking thing. The “door” was somewhat octagonal, with the bottom being the ground. Inside there were blue lights stretching about 20 feet back where the converged on the back wall. The inside walls seemed to be covered in all kinds of metal piping, tubes, and circuits, like it was part of a giant robotic leg.
Maddie Fenton stepped out of the inactive portal to greet the kids, with Jack following close behind her.
“Danny, Sam, Tucker! So great you could make it!” She chirped
“Yes,” Jack agreed, “great indeed! Now tell me, are you three ready to witness ghost-hunting history?
“Sure thing, Mr. Fenton,” Tucker replied.
“Yeah, I mean, c’amon,” Sam began, “a ghost portal? This I have to see.”
“Well, it certainly should be something impressive,” Maddie said, a proud smile crossing her face. Although she would never say it, as far as friends were concerned her little Danny couldn’t have done better. In her eyes, Sam Manson had hung the moon.
The three kids pulled up chairs to watch as the Fentons booted up the portal. Danny sat in the middle, straddling the back of the chair in the way so many high school boys seem to love to do, with Sam and Tucker on either side.
“Hey, uh, Dad?” Danny asked
“So do you really think this thing is going to work?”
“Please, son, have some faith in us! With your Mom’s science and my engineering skills behind it, what could go wrong?”
“That’s kind of what I’m afraid of. Didn’t your college friend get like seriously hurt or something from one of these?”
“Oh, Vlad? Yes, but that was just a prototype. The early days. Those bugs are long gone now. And besides, if it doesn’t work we’d have nothing to present at the ghost hunters convention tomorrow.”
Danny wasn’t exactly reassured. It was just after seeing so many inventions go wrong throughout his childhood, it was hard to imagine something this big working right away. But he also knew if anyone could do it, it was his parents.
Maddie looked up from the computer
“Jack, hon, it looks like we’re all ready to go. Would you mind getting Jaz, I don’t want her to miss this!”
“Sure thing!” Jack responded.
Standing at the bottom of the stairs, Jack bellowed “HEY JAZ, ITS TIME TO TEST THE GHOST PORTAL. COME DOWNSTAIRS!”
Maddie glared momentarily at Jack’s outburst, but quickly resigned, realizing she should have seen that coming. A moment later, Jasmin appeared on the stairs.
“This won’t take too long, will it? I have to go tutor someone at the library at 5.”
“Tutoring?” Danny exclaimed, “on a Friday?”
Jasmine just rolled her eyes and stood behind her brother and his friends.
“Now,” Jack began, clapping his hands together for dramatic effect, “Prepare to witness history unfold as ghost hunters Jack and Maddie Fenton unveil the world’s first and only functional, full scale, Fenton Ghost Portal! Drum roll, please.”
Jasmin, Danny, and his friends clapped their hands against their thighs, imitating a drum roll. Jack dramatically picked up two cables, one in each hand and held them up.
Sticking the plug into the socket, he exclaimed “Behold, the Ghost Zone!”
There was a small flash inside the portal and spark from where the two cables had joined. The lab fell quiet, and the smell of ozone dissipated into the air.
“Well, sorry Mom, sorry Dad,” Jasmin said, breaking the silence, “But I’ve got to go. Hey, if you’re at a loss for the presentation tomorrow, maybe you could try to explain what went wrong.”
“Yeah, sorry Mr. and Mrs. F,” Tucker said, getting up from his chair.
Sam was next to speak up.
“That really stinks. We’ll just let you guys have some time to process everything, right Danny?”
“Um, yeah,” Danny said, sounding ever so slightly disheartened. “Hey, Sam, Tuck, why do I meet you upstairs in a minute, that cool?”
“Yep,” Sam said, already corralling Tucker up the stairs.
Danny looked at his parents. He would never admit it, but everything they did was actually pretty cool, even if it wasn’t the kind of life he ever wanted. Jack stood behind Maddie, his large hands covering her petite shoulders. Quietly they were discussing what could have gone wrong.
“Hey, uh, Mom? Dad?”
“Oh, ahh…yes, Danny?”
His Mom turned around to face him, her eyes damp.
“I’m really sorry about your portal. Do you guys know what happened?”
“No,” Maddie said, “we triple checked all the calculations and the mechanics. I just don’t get it. And on top of it all, now we have to go to the convention and present a failed portal. Again. Maybe on the drive there I can look through all the notes again, try and find the problem. But don’t worry about us, sweetheart. Just try and have fun with your friends.”
“Dad?” Danny asked.
“What was that? Sorry, guess I got a bit caught up in my head…Maddie, maybe we should just leave now, get dinner on the road somewhere, spend the night in the RV. Some space might be a good idea, some fresh air. I’ll start loading up.”
Jack turned and headed up the stairs, running his hand through his hair and muttering to himself.
“He’s right. We shouldn’t just stay here all night obsessing over this. Is that alright with you Danny, if we leave you and Jaz here for two nights instead of one?”
“Sure, Mom. We’ll be fine. You and Dad should just go and do what you need to do.”
An hour later Jack and Maddie Fenton called their goodbyes from the bottom of the stairs. Jasmin wasn’t home yet, but they had called her to let her know. She was the responsible one in the family and didn’t require the rundown of rules Danny got. Danny stood at the bottom of the stairs reading the list his parents had left him. It was just basic stuff, no parties, no annoying his sister. The only unusual thing was the last item on the list, which had been underlined multiple times.
DO NOT GO NEAR THE GHOST PORTAL.
That was, in Danny’s mind, the most common sense rule of them all. A broken and possibly highly dangerous portal to another dimension? No thank you. He set the paper on the bannister and went up the stairs. Sam and Tucker were waiting for him when he got to his room. As soon as he saw Sam’s face, he knew there was going to be trouble.
“So, Danny,” Sam asked, with the manic energy of a madman, “what do you say to checking out that portal, huh?”
“What? Are you crazy, Sam? Of course not!”
“Told you he’d say that,” Tucker chimed in.
“Shut up, Foley. Danny, ca’mon! How many opportunities do you have to explore the world’s only almost-operational ghost portal? I just think we should get a closer look!”
“Sam, my parents specifically to not go near the portal, and besides, we have no idea what’s wrong with it.”
“Here it comes…” Tucker said to no one in particular.
“Please, Danny,” Sam pleaded.
Despite being the poster child goth rebel girl, Sam had somehow mastered the art of puppy dog eyes. And Danny, well, Danny was defenseless.
“Okay. Fine. We can take a quick look and then that’s it. Got it, Sam?”
“Totally. Let’s go!”
Sam grabbed her camera and bounded down the stairs, leaving Danny and Tucker alone in his room. Danny let out a deep sigh and dragged his hand down his face.
“Called it,” Tucker said, a smug look on his face.
“Shut up, Foley.”
“She gets you with that look every time, man.”
Danny glared at his friend as he threw his hands in the air and followed after Sam.
“See? Ghost portal. Broken. Probably dangerous. You happy, Sam?”
“Eh, almost. Put this on.”
Sam tossed Danny a white jumpsuit with black gloves and boots. It was, as his parents (Dad) had named it, a Fenton Suit. Like a jumpsuit, but with the word ‘Fenton’ in front of it. The jumpsuits were a staple down in the lab, or at least that’s what his parents believed. They were basically always in their signature Fenton Suits.
“And why would I do that?”
“Photo op. Duh.”
Tucker began laughing, “Yeah dude. Photo-op.”
Sam glared at him before continuing, “just put in on and pose by the portal. Then when you’re a famous astronaut one day you will never forget your humble beginnings.”
“Fine. But only because I want to get away from this thing, got it?”
Danny slipped on the Fenton Suit. Sam had, at least, grabbed one his parents had made to fit him. The whole time she snapped pictures.
“Dude, does your Dad put that on everything?” Tucker asked, pointing to the stick-on decal of Jack Fenton’s face now resting on the middle of Danny’s chest.
“Not everything. He ran out of stickers, and Mom won’t let him get any more.”
“Hold on,” Sam said, reaching out to peel the sticker off, “Okay, now one with the polaroid. Smile Danny!”
“Are you happy now, Sam?”
“I don’t know about Sam, but I for one am ecstatic,jump suit” Tucker said, flipping through the pictures he had taken on his phone.
“Do they know what happened, Danny?” Sam asked, her tone suddenly becoming softer.
Danny turned to look at the portal. It was kinda sad looking, he realized.
“I don’t think so. From what I could understand, which isn’t much, it really should have worked, but it’s like the power isn’t getting to it all the way or something. I wonder…”
Danny took a step closer to the mouth of the portal, looking up and around the frame and the inside machinery and technology. His parents really had worked too hard for it to not work. It wasn’t fair.
“Hey, uh, Danny? You sure you want to do that?”
“It’s just... it should have worked. And I don’t know why it didn’t.”
“Well, you could go take a look,” Sam offered, “See if you can tell what went wrong.”
“What?!” Tucker gasped in response.
“Take a look inside of it. I mean, he’s alreadjumpsuit. Besides, it’s pretty clearly broken.”
“You are insane, Sam,” Tucker decided.
“She has a point, Tucker.”
“Excuse me, Danny?”
“Sam has a point, I guess. It’s pretty clearly not working. Maybe something inside it went wrong. If I can find it and tell my parents, then they could fix it after the convention.”
“You’re not actually serious, are you?” Tucker asked.
“Um, I think he may be serious, Tuck,” Sam responded.
Gingerly, Danny stepped over the boundary line and into the broken portal.
Despite leaving for the convention early to distract themselves from the broken portal, Maddie Fenton couldn’t help but go through her notes one last time. Something isn’t right, she thought. We’re missing something. Ten minutes later, she found it.
“Jack!” Maddie shouted.
“What? Is it a ghost?!? Where???”
The RV swerved in the excitement, and Maddie grabbed onto the seatbelt for her own sake.
“No. The portal, Jack! I’ve figured it out!”
Stunned, Jack slammed on the break, bringing them to a screeching halt.
“Great Scott, honey, what is it?”
“The safety! Remember, we installed a secondary safety panel towards the back wall to prevent the portal from opening if we were in there. I forgot to switch it back to “on” before the test!”
Thrilled like never before, Jack threw his arms and his wife and kissed her.
“The kids! Jack, we need to tell the kids!”
Maddie took out her phone and began a text to Jasmin and Danny.
Up in Danny’s room, his phone vibrated and fell from his bed, the screen still lit from the new message.
Portal works! Safe…
Danny had never been inside the portal before, and couldn’t help but be amazed at the complexity of the invention. So far everything looked as normal as a complex trans-dimension portal generator could look. He was nearly to the back wall when he noticed something.
“Hey, guys?” he called, “I think I found something.”
“Don’t know yet,” Danny moved to inspect the anomaly close-up.
“Just be careful, okay Danny?” Sam yelled.
Danny didn’t respond. Instead, he was distracted by what appeared to be two buttons attached to a small panel on the wall. One was green and the other one red, with the words “on” and “off” written under them. He studied them for a minute, trying to remember what they were or what they did.
Well, he asked himself, What’s the worst that could happen?
And he hit the green on switch.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” and “What could go wrong?” are never the right questions to ask when in a high-risk situation, but Danny wasn’t thinking about that. In fact, he wasn’t thinking about much of anything. This was worse.
He was feeling everything.
As soon as he hit the button he knew something had gone horribly wrong. There was an immediate blast of light and Danny felt as if he had been flash-frozen and super-heated all at once. Someone screamed. It was him, he realized. He was in pain. So much pain. It was as if every molecule in his body was being peeled apart and shoved someplace it didn’t belong. Light and heat raced past him, every flair a supernova and every sound a piercing scream. Energy stabbed through him and pressure pushed against him.
He was dying.
He was dying and alone in a broken portal and no one would know what happened to Daniel Fenton.
Until he wasn’t. Until something snapped inside Danny. Shattered, even. He was in so much pain but god damn it this would not be the end of him. He supposed he must have crawled to the portal’s opening. He didn’t know anymore. He didn’t know anything anymore. Grasping onto the frame of the portal for support he pulled himself up, teeth grinding with the effort. He found the strength to take one more step, crossed the threshold, and blacked out.
“Danny!” Sam yelled as her best friend disappeared, overcome by whatever was coming out of that portal. She lunged for the entrance, only to find herself held back by Tucker.
“Sam, NO! You can’t go in there!” he yelled.
They could no longer see into the portal, only a spiraling green, and black…something. It looked thick, like jelly or lotion.
Several more seconds passed.
Then, from the silence of the void in front of them, a white-gloved hand reached around the frame and a boy fell from the portal.
“Danny!” Sam yelled, running forward to pull the boy from the portal.
“Sam, that’s not Danny! Look at him!”
She didn’t listen to Tucked, instead reaching down to grab the boy’s arm to pull him out, so frantic to save her friend that she didn’t notice what Tucker had. She didn’t notice anything too not right until she grabbed his arm only for her hands to pass right through it.
A fresh wave of panic swept through her.
“Tucker, help!” She demanded
“THAT’S NOT DANNY”
“I DON’T CARE”
They were crying now. Both of them. Tears ran down their faces as they pulled the strange boy from the portal. They pulled his feet free and the portal slammed shut behind them. They set the boy’s body back on the ground and flipped him to face up.
“Oh my god…” Tucker whispered.
“Danny?” Sam asked, her eyeliner starting to run down her face.
“Not Danny,” Tucked replied.
Laying on the ground in front of them was a boy. He looked to be about their age. He wore a black jumpsuit with white gloves and white boots. His hair was snow white, and he was surrounded by a fading green glow
“That portal, Sam. It’s a ghost portal. I think we’ve found a gh-“
Tucker was cut off by a flash of white light surrounding the boy. When the light receded, Danny Fenton lay in his place.
“Ohmygod,” Sam breathed, immediately kneeling down next to him.
“Sam, what are you doing? It’s not…it can’t be…”
She pressed two fingers to the side of his neck. His skin was cold as ice, but there was a pulse.
“Tucker. I need you to check if he’s breathing.”
Tucker tried to put his hand on his friend’s chest, only to find he couldn’t. His hand passed through it as if there had been nothing there. The boy groaned, and both Sam and Tucker jumped back, startled. His eyes flew open and he softly spoke a single word.
And all Sam and Tucker could do was stare, horrified, confused, and scared as the boy laying on the floor in front of them passed out.
After a minute, Tucker broke the silence.
“Jaz will be home soon. We should move it, get him upstairs to his…to Danny’s…room.”
Together they carried him upstairs and laid him in his bed. Sam and Tucker stood at opposite sides of the room, not saying a word.
After about an hour, Tucker spoke.
“What happened? Who..who is this? What is this?”
Sam walked over to the bedside before replying.
“Tuck, I don’t know, but I think….I think it might be Danny.”
“Danny? You think that intangible, shape-shifting, colour changing thing is my best friend?”
“What?” Tucker spat back
“Our best friend.”
“Okay, whatever, our best friend. Still.”
“Maybe not all of him or something? It’s just…his eyes.”
“What about them?”
“Didn’t you see? When he woke up for a minute they were open.”
“They were Danny’s. Or at least they weren’t, and then they were.”
“Sam, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“It means…first, they were green, and sort of glowing. Then, just like the rest of him, they snapped back. Blue again. But, even when they were still green, they were his. I’m telling you, Tuck, that’s Danny.”
Tucker sighed and gave up the fight, but not before Sam agreed to let him retrieve a prototype ecto-detector from the basement. He wasn’t going to turn it on or scan Danny or anything, he decided. Maybe. But he just wasn’t as convinced as Sam was that the boy in the bed was Danny. Better to be safe than sorry.
Another hour passed, and then two. Periodically Sam would get up and check Danny’s pulse, ensure he was still breathing. Jasmin got home at some point, but as far as she knew the three were just doing homework together. Finally, Danny stirred.
“What…” Danny grunted as he struggled to sit up. He blinked his eyes, squeezing them open and shut, and tried to adjust to the brightness of the room. Sam and Tucker slowly got up from their posts on opposite sides of the room. Sam approached the bed, eying her best friend with worry and the slightest bit of disbelief, and Tucker soon followed.
“Danny, do you remember what happened?” Sam asked. “You were in the portal and everything was fine and then there was this big burst of light or energy or something. Danny, we didn’t think you were going to make. You’ve been out cold for nearly three hours; how do you feel?”
Danny closed his eyes again, trying to stabilize his spinning vision. His head pounded, his ears rang, and he was cold. So cold.
“Like death,” he decided.
The room fell quiet as Danny attempted to replay the recent series of events in his mind. There wasn’t much after the initial flash; it was really only pain. Sam just couldn’t believe that he was awake and sitting here. It was her fault, she had realized. She wanted to see the portal, she told Danny to suit up, the whole accident-
Her train of thought was interrupted as a robotic, feminine voice emerged from nowhere. Or so she thought.
“Ghost?!” Danny said, his eyes flying open and shocking his system with a fresh wave of pain.
“Sam, get away from Danny. Now.”
Looking towards the familiar voice, Danny made eye contact with Tucker who was standing at the foot of the bed and holding a prototype ghost detector.
“Wha…” Sam began to ask, clearly confused.
Tucker took another step closer to Danny, then another.
“Ghost Detected,” the strange machine said, “Proximity 10 feet.”
Sam stood and started to back away. Tucker stepped closer. Danny panicked and grew cold. No. No ghosts, he thought. There are no ghosts. Tucker took another step.
“Proximity 5 feet”
Danny scrambled, using any remaining energy to throw himself out of bed. If there were ghosts around, he didn’t want to be near them. Not after the portal, not after the pain happened in there.
“Who are you and what have you done with Danny Fenton?” Tucker demanded, looking directly at Danny, who was trying to stand and back away from the device.
“Tucker, I am Danny Fenton!”
“No, you’re not, ghost. Where. Is. My. Friend?”
Danny had backed into a corner, Tucker coming at him with that strange device. He was scared, fully and completely terrified. Sam stood off to the side, unable to do anything but watch as Tucker drew closer to the boy. It had to be Danny, she thought, it just had to be.
“I am not a ghost!”
Out of nowhere a bluish- white flash of light surrounded Danny as if his whole body was being encircled and scanned. The light died and where Danny had been standing a boy was now on the floor, hunched over on his hands and knees.
It was a boy in a black jumpsuit. His hair was white like snow and his eyes were preternaturally green. Glowing even.
Danny looked down at the floor. He could see every detail in the wood. He had fallen. He looked up. Hair hung in his face, obstructing the view. Wrong. Something he was seeing was wrong. Alarm bells went off in his head. Hair hung in his face. White hair.
Danny’s breathing increased to the point of near hyperventilation. He stood up and Tucker jumped back.
“Woah, woah, woah. Stay back!”
Danny didn’t hear him. He could only hear the blood pumping in his ears and the alarms in his mind. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get enough air in his lungs. He half ran, half stumbled to the mirror on top of his dresser. Sam watched him, unsure of what to do and afraid of what this boy…this not quite Danny…would do.
Danny slammed his hands on the top of the dresser for support and searched the mirror for himself. Instead of black haired, blue eyed, Danny Fenton staring back at him, there was someone else. Someone so familiar but so wrong all at the same time. The stranger in the mirror had white hair and green eyes. He was wearing a black Fenton Suit with white accents. He was Danny.
“No. No, no, no, no,” Danny muttered, more to himself than anyone else. His breathing increased again and black spots started to dance in front of his vision.
He whipped around to face his friends. “Sam, Tucker, it’s me, Danny, I swear. What happened, please, you gotta help me. Please. What’s wrong with me? Sam? Tuck?”
He was crying now and had backed himself into the desk, only to find it was no longer supporting him. To his horror, his body passed right through it. Danny yelled and jumped back from the desk, only to find himself on the other side of the room with his back against the wall. Sam looked at him in shock, her mouth open. Tucker’s look of fear had morphed into one of pure concern. This is Danny, he realized. Oh shit.
Sam snapped out of it and began to approach her friend. “Danny,” she said, “Danny. I need you to breath, okay? Just breath with me. Count to four and breath in, count to four and breath out. We believe you. No one is going to hurt you. It will be alright.”
Danny listened to her and started to calm his breathing. Suddenly his eyes fluttered closed as he once again collapsed and was engulfed by the strange light. To Sam’s shock, Tucker was there to catch him. Danny remained conscious this time, and together they helped him into his desk chair. He was back in his t-shirt and jeans, with black hair and blue eyes. There were tear stains on his face.
The three sat for a moment as Danny did what Sam had told him and came back to his breathing.
“Danny?” Sam asked. “Are you okay?”
“I…I don’t think I am this time.”
“Well, okay or not, we’re here with you,” Tucker decided.
“And we’re going to figure this out,” Sam added.
“Actually, Sam,” Tucker said, thinking hard, “I don’t know if there is much left to figure out.”
Danny looked up at his friend. “What do you mean?” he asked.
Tucker grew quiet and walked to the other side of the room where he picked up the dropped and now broken ghost detector.
“Danny,” he began, more compassion in his voice than usual, “I think you might be a ghost.”
Danny and Sam sat in stunned silence as Tucker explained his theory. It was clear to him that Danny Fenton and the boy in the black jumpsuit, who he had begun calling “Phantom,” were really just both Danny. He didn’t know how but somehow when Danny had activated the portal from inside it seemed to have changed him. But not just on a surface level, down on a molecular level. That was why they had trouble picking him up before, and why he passed through the dresser, and how he crossed the room so fast. He had, literally, flown.
Tucker finished his thought. Danny wasn’t looking at him, he realized. No, instead his gaze was fixed down on the floor.
Danny looked up, his eyes were full of tears. “Guys,” he said, his voice just slightly breaking, “I think I died in there.”
Sam sat down on Danny’s bed as if the weight of his revelation had knocked her over. He did, she realized. He did die in that portal. But he died due to an influx of energy from a world so different from this. He died in-between the world of the living and the world of the dead. And now here he was.
“It’s more complicated than that,” said Sam, thinking hard. “I don’t know for certain or really have any basis for this, but you’re not dead. You’re here, talking to up, and you’re breathing and have a pulse. But…”
“But what?” Danny asked, his face hopeless and tired.
“But you’re not really alive either. I think you’re like…like Schrödinger's cat, you know?”
“Not dead, not alive,” Tucker agreed.
“Half human, half ghost,” Danny concluded.
Sam and Tucker both gave him shocked and pitiful looks. He had, while his friends were talking, come to that conclusion himself. He knew it was true, even if he didn’t know how. It was evident in the new sense for cold buried deep in his chest, the way his senses were heightened, the way his eyes matched the green that overtook him in the portal. He wasn’t alive anymore, not fully. And he wasn’t human anymore, not fully.
Danny buried his head in his hands, blocking out the world and the intrusion of his too sensitive senses.
“Want some time to process?” Tucker asked.
Danny nodded yes.
“Do you want to be alone?” Sam asked.
He shook his head no.
Sam and Tucker stayed the night. The three slept on the floor together with Danny in the middle and his friends on either side. The next morning, he woke up first and quietly got up and walked to his window. He was still processing everything, and probably would be for a while. He had processed all last night, too.
His parents would be home the next day and would realize the portal was working. They would probably suspect he did something, but he didn’t think he was going to tell them what. Not yet, anyways. Jaz would realize something was off, but he wasn’t going to tell her either. This was a family of ghost hunters, he realized as he looked out over Amity Park, and the last thing they needed was to hunt their own son, even if he was half ghost. Half dead, fully dead, fully alive, half alive, all at once. Schrödinger's boy. Danny, a Fenton, and Danny, a Phantom. He thought more about the strange other version of himself that he saw in the mirror last night. Ghost boy.
Sam and Tucker both woke up, at first confused that Danny was no longer in between them, and then comforted because he was awake and moving. This was going to give him hell, Tucker realized. It was going to give all of them hell, but none worse than Danny. He was the one stuck in limbo, the one who had been so fundamentally changed. Not himself or Sam.
He may not ever forgive you, Sam told herself. She looked at Danny as he surveyed the patches of town he could see out the window. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try and be there for him.
Danny took a deep breath and thought about when he had seen himself in the mirror. He focused on the cold in his core. The mysterious energy he now felt inside him. It was powerful, he realized. He had no idea how powerful, but it was powerful none the less. He breathed out and felt all the pain in his body that hadn’t been there before, but was less than it had been last night as he fell asleep. Breath in. He focused on the part of him that wasn’t remotely human. Breath out.
There was a flash of what light and in Danny Fenton’s place stood a boy who, despite the change in appearance, was still Danny Fenton. Black suit, white hair, green eyes.
“So you guys really think you saw me fly?” He asked, still looking out the window.
“Mm-hm,” Tucker and Sam replied.
Danny looked over his shoulder at his friends, smiling. “Do you think I could do it again?”