Danny slipped into the police station invisibly, trailing after the two detectives. They seemed like nice people. Good people. Dedicated people. That last was a problem. He didn't want them to be dedicated. Not about this.
What he wanted was for his body to be put back in the ground and forgotten about. He wanted his mystery to go unsolved.
The problem was, how to convince these two, and the rest of the Amity Park Police Department while he was at it, that it was better for everyone if the mystery went unsolved?
It really would be. Between Vlad and the GIW... Danny's secret getting out would have nasty consequences. But he couldn't tell them about Vlad, and the consequences concerning the GIW weren't immediately obvious without knowing the solution to the mystery.
Maybe Sam was right. He should forgo this whole 'interview' nonsense, come back when he actually had a plan. As it was, he would just give them more clues he didn't want them to have.
But if he left them alone...
He listened to them making plans to interview his human self and other students at Casper High. They were going to interview him, anyway. He bit his lip. At least, he could distract them from that. Perhaps he could make out that he was older? Too old for the students at Casper now to have known him? No, that wouldn't work. They had his body. They'd be able to tell how long it was buried. Even he knew that.
"Does it feel cold in here to you?" asked the younger detective, Patterson.
The other tilted his head, frowning. "Maybe," he said. "Phantom?"
Well, he wasn't going to just appear out of thin air in the middle of this giant room full of desks. Over half the police in town had to be there.
Some of them must have noticed Detective Collins question, because there was a wave of whispering, and the room began to fall quiet.
Despite being invisible, Danny felt very exposed.
"If you're here," said Patterson, raising her hands, "we just want to talk. Will you talk with us?"
"It doesn't have to be here," said Collins. "We've got private rooms. We can talk there."
After a few tense seconds, Collins began to walk away.
They're right over here. Interview rooms. They're actually pretty nice, not what you usually see on TV."
With some reluctance, Danny followed. He could just leave.
But that wouldn't accomplish anything, except, perhaps, to make them more suspicious of him.
The room was indeed nicer than Danny had expected. The floor was carpeted. The walls and furniture were wood. There was a mirror, a one-way window, on one side of the room. Danny wondered if the purpose of the room was to lure interviewees into a false sense of comfort.
He blinked at the one-way glass a few times, adjusting his vision so he could see what lay beyond. As expected, it was rather crowded. It looked like a good number of the other detectives had squeezed into the booth.
"You realize," said Collins, out of the side of his mouth as he situated himself in a chair, "that if he isn't here we'll look like idiots, right?"
Danny sighed, heavily, and the detectives stiffened. He faded into invisibility. "You aren't idiots," he said. Then he remembered what he had come here for. "About this particular thing."
"Ah," said Patterson. "Well, thank you for coming and doing this interview."
"Yeah," said Danny, crossing his arms, "about that. I could do without the peanut gallery." He nodded towards the mirror.
"The-" Collins glared at the mirror. "Oh, for the love of god. Patterson, can you clear them out and get Captain Jones? He's the only one who should be here for this."
Patterson rolled her eyes but left the room.
"Well," said Collins. "While we're waiting for her to get back, let's make ourselves comfortable. You can sit down if you want."
"I'm fine," said Danny. He watched as Patterson started shooing people out of the room behind the glass and the captain walked in.
"Alright, that's okay. I'm not sure we've been formally introduced. I'm Detective Collins. My partner is Detective Patterson."
"I know," said Danny. "You're the homicide team. Well, this, me, it wasn't a homicide. Okay? So you don't need to do this."
Collins spread out his hands. "I'm not going to pressure you to talk about it," he said. "I gather that ghosts don't like that particular subject. But we have to investigate any suspicious death we come across. And yours? It's pretty suspicious."
"I'm telling you, it isn't. It's just dumb," said Danny.
Patterson came back into the room. "Hi," she said. "I'm Detective Patterson."
"Yeah," said Danny. "I know."
She leaned up against the wall next behind Collins. "So, what should we call you?"
Danny shrugged. "Phantom, I guess," he said. Was that an unsubtle attempt at finding out his real name? "Look, I know that you want to know who I am, and how I died and all that, but I'm not here to talk about that."
"Then what are you here to talk about?" asked Collins.
Danny closed his eyes briefly. "It would be dangerous if you knew those things. I want to talk you out of it. I'm sorry I left my body in a public placel. If you want me to do community service to make up for it, I will. But I'm not planning on pressing charges, and there's not anything else that would come of looking into it. Like I said, it was an accident, and not one that's going to happen again."
"Because you'll make sure of it?" asked Patterson.
"No," said Danny, annoyed, "because it was freak chance. One in a million, or even less. Most ghosts aren't sticking around to avenge their deaths." Revenge was a boring Obsession, Vlad's notwithstanding.
Okay, so maybe the portal accident wasn't quite as 'one and done' as Danny was claiming, but that was why he didn't want anyone to know about it.
"So, why is it dangerous to know about?" asked Collins.
Danny puffed his cheeks out. Why, indeed. "It's dangerous to me," he said, finally. "If you haven't noticed, I have more than a few enemies, and there is a reason ghosts don't like to talk about their deaths."
"So why don't you tell us?" asked Patterson. "We're not going to tell anybody."
"No, but you'd have to confirm it, and people would know," said Danny. In retrospect, this was a pretty good cover for why he didn't want his manner of death to be investigated, and he'd come up with it on the spot! Well, he always did do better under pressure.
But just as Danny started to pat himself on the back, Collins sighed. "Phantom. What happened to you wasn't 'just' an accident. Half of your body was missing."
Danny raised an eyebrow. "It looked pretty whole to me," he said. "All three times."
"According to our ME, it only weighed about half what it should have," said Collins, leaning forward.
Static filled Danny's brain. Half. Half the mass gone. Stop. He already knew- It was not time to panic.
"So?" asked Danny.
"There was also a lot of ectoplasm in the body," added Patterson.
"Well, this is Amity Park, and I am a ghost."
"More than it should have gotten just from you handling it."
"What, and you're suddenly an expert in ectology?" scoffed Danny. It was a good thing he didn't sweat in ghost form.
Patterson leaned forward, stepping away from the wall. "Were you killed by a ghost?"
Danny blinked. "No," he said. "That's stupid. Ghosts know better than anyone that someone dying doesn't necessarily mean they're gone." He rubbed his eyes. "This was a bad idea. You're not going to listen to me." He turned to go.
"Wait, Phantom," said Collins. "Just one more question, please."
Danny glowered from his position near the ceiling. He'd been just about to go through. "What?" he ground out.
"Is the reason you don't want anyone to know that you're dead because..." he paused, apparently searching for words, "because no one even knows you're missing? Because you're still trying to live your life? Because you're pretending to be alive?"
Danny's very alive heart hammered in his chest. "That's more than one question," he said.