The day that Danny decided to reveal his secret did not go anything like he imagined. After three consecutive years of trying to expose him, he expected that Wes would be elated, overjoyed. Not… whatever this was.
"Are you out of your mind? Am I out of my mind?"
Danny had been about to transform in front of the entire student body when Wes had pulled the fire alarm. Before he registered what had happened, he was being pulled into the mob of students filing towards the exit. Realizing that his plan had fallen through, Danny begrudgingly made his way outside with the rest of his class. Now, Wes had pulled him off to the side and was interrogating him like he was the one off his rocker.
"That depends," Danny phased through Wes's grip. "I mean… which of us just pulled the fire alarm?"
"What exactly are you trying to do?"
"I thought I made that quite clear when I announced that I was done keeping secrets. You of all people should be happy, right?"
"What the fuck?" He snapped in Danny's face for good measure. "Are you like brainwashed or something?"
He shrugged. "It's time, Wes. I came clean to my parents and they were okay with it. The Guys in White are out of commission after that lawsuit and Vlad's on our side now! There's nothing stopping me from letting people know who I really am."
"No, that's not how this works. I've been trying to reveal you since the beginning and now you're going to forgo all my efforts and expose yourself? I will not stand for that!"
Danny rolled his eyes. "It's my secret, dipshit. If I want to tell people I'm Danny Phantom, I should be allowed to."
Wes growled. "Not on my watch."
He held up an ectoblast and flashed his eyes to get his message across. "Watch me."
He started walking back towards the group of students congregated in the courtyard, but Wes was irritatingly adamant.
"You don't get to do this, Fenton!" he shouted. "I've labored over your exposure! My life's work, everything I stand for—wasted!"
"I don't know why you're complaining about your life so much. There are literally people living in Wisconsin."
Danny kept walking. He figured that the staff must have cleared the fire alarm scare pretty quickly because soon enough he was standing back in the gymnasium like nothing had ever happened. Everyone was standing off to the side, which was kind of weird, but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. It was the perfect moment to reveal his secret, right?
"Hey Fenton, what are you doing?" Dash called, whenever he broke away from the group.
"What I'm supposed to."
It was time to tell the truth.
Danny probed within himself, searching for the spark that allowed him to transform. For a moment, it felt buried, stifled… but then it burst to life, cold energy rolling outwards toward his fingertips. A halo of light formed around his waist and split, turning him from human to ghost. He'd made the change a thousand times but now it felt different, more… momentous. Despite this, the crowd in front of him watched and he couldn't tell if they were shocked beyond belief or just unperturbed.
No one was reacting. He'd just transformed into his ghost form and they were all still, staring ahead as if nothing had happened.
"I don't understand."
Lancer tilted his head to the side. Tell the truth.
"I—I changed. You guys see it, right? I'm Danny Phantom. That's the truth."
He looked down at himself and sure enough, he was in ghost form. Black jumpsuit, faint green glow, and white gloves… undeniably Phantom.
Tell the truth, ghost.
It sounded as if the entire crowd had spoken collectively, but that couldn't be right. Could it?
He held a hand to his core, suddenly aware that something was off.
"What do you want from me?"
Did they want a confession? Proof that he was Phantom? Their eyes bore into him, judging him. All he wanted was to show him who he really was and he had! He'd transformed, what other proof was there to give? Still, their gaze was unrelenting and Danny felt that he had to give them more… something more. He had to give them a truth, any truth.
He'd give anything if it meant he could live out in the open.
He opened his mouth, but someone else spoke for him. Behind him.
"Fenton." Wes stood inches away from him. If he wasn't entranced by the crowd, he might have wondered how the other boy had snuck up on him unnoticed. "Don't give it what it wants. Don't you remember? I'm the one that's going to reveal you."
There was something in his voice, something raw and different from the real Wes that he knew but he couldn't place it. That didn't matter though, none of what he was saying mattered. His words paled in comparison to the crowd and what they wanted from him.
Tell the truth. Tell it—
"Alright," he conceded. "Alright!"
The chanting stopped and they waited. What was he going to say now?
"I'm…" he bit his lip. "I'm a ghost. Half-ghost, still part human. I still feel things but ever since this has happened to me I've known that…" he shook his head. "I've known that I'm not wholly human and I'll never be like any of you ever again. There's ectoplasm in my veins and I feel things that only ghosts feel. I'm just a step away from death—so, so close. I think that's what it means to be a halfa. Neither one or the other. That's the truth."
He spoke from his heart. His half-beating, half-dead heart that rested adjacent to his core. He hoped he satisfied them, he wanted to satisfy them. They were in his head, clouding his judgment after all. Wait, they were?
The crowd wasn't even there at all.
Danny was standing in an empty gymnasium now, with nothing but his admission echoing throughout the room. Why was he in a gym? He hadn't been to high school in two years, hadn't he? He was in community college now—Casper High was long behind him.
This wasn't real.
Of course it wasn't real.
Why did he want to reveal himself to his High School classmates in the first place? What was wrong with him? Wes had been right, he was out of his mind! Because this wasn't his mind.
It was a simulation.
At that realization, the scene before him dissolved into darkness.
The first thing he saw when he woke up was his own bloodied t-shirt. Lifting his head was no easy task but when he steadied his gaze he found four white-clad agents conversing just a few feet away from where he was restrained. From what he could tell, he was some sort of warehouse… but that didn't explain much. How had he gotten here? What was that simulation?
"Ah, Fenton's awake!" a cheery voice announced. "Or shall I say Phantom, now that my co-workers have finally seen my genius?"
From behind the four agents, Wes stepped forward. He too was wearing a GIW uniform and was holding some kind of helmet with probes.A simulation device.
"Did you like my simulation? I'm kind of flattered that you personified me as your voice of reason," Wes chided. "Of course, it probably has to do with the fact that I was the last person you saw before you went under… but nevertheless, it still warms my heart."
"What was that?" he rasped.
"An irrefutable confession that you, Daniel Fenton, are actually Danny Phantom and are half-ghost. By your own admission, you are significantly removed from your own humanity, giving us the legal go-ahead to detain you as a Level Seven ecto-entity… pretty nifty, right?"
"Weston," a man coughed. "You're causing the specimen to be distressed. Until we get the inhibitors he's still a potential threat."
He rolled his eyes. "He won't hurt me. Fenton's too soft for that, trust me. In all my years of trying to expose him, he's always played the hero and forfeited his own self-preservation. He's got a complex obsession, sure, but he stays true to his principles… just like every other specter."
Danny was in deep shit. Thanks to Wes… the GIW knew now. No, they didn't just know—they had proof. They were going to arrest him as an ecto-entity and from what he could tell, there wasn't an easy way out… fuck!
"Aren't you going to say something? Some witty comeback, a pun? Or did the simulation scramble your poor hybrid brain too much for you to come up with a coherent response, huh?" Wes knocked him in the head with a nearby ecto-ray.
"You've lost it, Wes."
"Oh, Fenton… I'm afraid you're the one who's lost it all."
On his other side, one of the other agents had punctured his skin and injected something in his arm. He could see it glow as it entered his veins and then—then…
Wes crouched in front of him and grinned, his radiant green eyes showing no sign of mercy.
"See you on the other side, freak."
Once again, everything cut to black.