Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etcetera, are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Title: Rise.

Rating: Mature.

Fandom: Danny Phantom.

Summary: No, no. Don't focus too much. Don't do much.

Warnings: AU. Possible OOC. Discussion of depression and depersonalization.

Notes: This is the sequel to Freefall. A lot of stressful and depressing things have happened since August, but what better way to get that out of my system than some good angst. Thank you so much for all your support, and I hope you enjoy Rise.

Chapter One

Don't Think

It was...funny...to open his wallet now and see a driver's license instead of a school ID. It was funny to comb his hair and realize it wasn't the grown-out mess he once had. And it was funny, truly in the worst way, to transform into his ghost half and realize nothing had changed at all when Danny Fenton became Danny Phantom. It was, as if, he hadn't changed at all.

As if, he hadn't gotten better at all, and was back at square one. It was truly frustrating.

June came and passed. As did July, and his project was complete. August rolled around and, with it, cold weather. When the first day of school came, Danny had a backpack full of new notebooks, pens, and pencils. And a Fenton Thermos, for good measure. Around his left wrist was the bracelet Vlad gave him in May, and around his right ring finger was a thick silver band.

Sitting on the front steps of Casper High at five-forty in the morning felt surreal. There was no breakfast in his body, his belly already full of knots. He stared up at the sky, looking up at the stars that still hung in the dark sky. The sun wouldn't rise until, at least, six-thirty, and with it, so will the majority of the student body. The new school year meant a new chance.

Danny tried not to put in too much hope. Too much hope led to too much work, too much work led to burn out, burn out led to failure. And failure wasn't any good in his current situation. If he failed again,...

No, no. Let's not think about that. Let's not think about anything.

Danny lied down carefully against the steps, his head resting on the higher step. The air around him felt surreal, his head felt like it was on a cloud, his body felt like it was floating on water. His stomach still hurt, but maybe this was all just nerves. Just nerves, he told himself. Not that strange sense of disconnection that hurt him for the past two years.

Focus. Focus.

No, no. Don't focus too much.

Don't do much.

His first class was Art Composition, an elective his parents wanted him to take when he had to build his schedule. Danny supposed it'd be a good class. Not an easy class – he was shit at drawing – but a class that didn't involve a lot of thinking.

His teacher was Miss Greene. She looked like a giraffe that hadn't grown out of the hippy movement. With glasses.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Greene said is a whimsical voice. "I want to make sure each of you can live up to your potential in the best possible matter. We are here, not to just learn about art, but discover our own sense of style. Some of you might already have a good feel of who you are, some of you might not have a single idea, some of you might just be following in your parents' footsteps,...

Miss Greene smiled, "I want you all to use art as a way of taking the first step of truly discovering yourselves, inventing yourselves, finding out exactly what makes you a person, an individual, yourself."

Danny stared at this woman. She sounded like she took too hard of a hit from Mary Jane this morning.

"Aside from the smaller pieces here and there, the major part of your Art grade will come from a year long project each of you will build."

Valerie raised her hand. "Will we have partners in this project?"

"Miss...Gray,...I'm afraid you will not have partners. The year long project is what I want each of you to use to truly figure out what you want in your future and yourself. I'm afraid you can't text your best friend at three in the morning and ask them if we truly exist, or if we are just the embodiment of the lesser thoughts of a higher being..."

Miss Greene tilted her head, "Well, I mean, you can, but your best friend will probably tell you you need sleep."

That definitely brought a few laughs to the sleep-deprived students, Danny included.

"While I'm passing out syllabuses, I want each of you to think of what you want your project to be about. But, think carefully of it, because once you decide on a topic, you cannot back out of the topic."

"Fenton will probably think of some crappy ghosts," Dash laughed.

The syllabus was slapped on the desk in front of him, which silenced the class. Miss Greene's calm demeanor became cold as she said aloud, "Mr. Baxter, you might be used to belittling your classmates for quite some time, but I will not accept any sort of misbehavior. All of you will be considering your futures, some of you even graduating early, which means you need to consider maturing."

Miss Greene kept passing syllabuses, but her eyes were locked on Dash's, "The next time I hear you, or anyone, belittling or bullying fellow classmates, l will make your junior year go from a breeze or a living Hell. Do you understand?"

Miss Greene turned and carefully placed the syllabus in front of Danny, who looked up at her with wide, amazed eyes.

Dash couldn't put in an answer.

As Miss Greene kept walking, she winked at Danny, childish playfulness in her face.

Danny felt he was going to have a good time in Art.

Nerves were a tricky thing when you couldn't control them. Nervousness could quickly become anxiety if you couldn't get a handle of them. And anxiety can lead to a few different outcomes.

Danny breathed. Jazz taught him to take in deep breaths, and let them out slowly.

It was, thankfully, lunchtime, but Danny couldn't stomach going into the cafeteria. As a first day treat, the cafeteria was giving out hamburgers and veggie burgers, but as soon as Danny took a whiff of that, he wanted nothing more than to puke. His skin felt clammy, his hands felt cold. His eyes felt cold.

Somehow, some way, his body still remembered his first major fight as a ghost, and the disgusting scent of cafeteria meat made the ectoplasm in his own cells jump out of pure fear.

His stomach was twisting, turning, and oh God.

Danny was already, thankfully, in a stall in the bathroom. He leaned into the toilet and puked.

"Danny? Yo, man! You in here?"

Danny puked even harder.


Tucker felt his own stomach turn in response, the two burgers he ate – one of which used to be Danny's – threatening to come back up. "Danny, man. What happened? You were fine. What? Is it first day jitters?"

"Ugh,...no, no. Tuck."

Danny wiped his mouth and flushed the toilet. He exited the stall, and Tucker frowned at the pale, clammy face of his best friend. "What happened? Danny-"

"It's nothing, Tuck," Danny said, turning on the faucet at the sink. He washed out his mouth and scrubbed his face.

"It's just...the smell, it got to me...I just...my body just felt like Lunch Lady was back, ya know."

"Oh." Tucker murmured. "...Lunch Lady's still the Ghost Zone, remember. You fought last month, and she kinda just stuck around in there."

"I thought it was last week?"

"Da-...No. Man, that was last month. You didn't fight anyone last week. I guess the ghosts were on vacay."

Danny stared back at his reflection. His skin was still a little pale, but his cheeks were beginning to flush with color, even though they felt cold. He poked his own cheek, feeling his finger on his skin. Was that really his hand?

"Hey." Tucker placed a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Get out of your head, Danny."


Danny lowered his hand and sighed, moving away from the sink and drying his hands on his shirt. He thumbed at the ring on his finger, a ring Sam and Tucker bought him as a memento.

Tucker kept his hand on Danny's shoulder. "Come on, Danny. Sam's waiting."

The two boy exited the bathroom, and took notice of Sam, who waited patiently beside the door. She smiled and lifted her hand to show Danny a can of ginger ale. "Drink this. All of it."

Danny scoffed, accepting the drink. "Yes, ma'am."

Sam looked over her friend and sighed. "Everything is going to be okay, Danny. But you can't get into your head too much, okay?"


"I'm serious."


Tucker slapped the back of the boy's head, and Danny laughed, spilling ginger ale over his face and the floor. But he kept laughing. "I'm fine, guys. Well, I'm not fine, but, ha...I guess I'm better than last time."

Danny wiped his face with the back of his hand. "I'm fine, I swear. I just...need some air."