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Summoning

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Maddie carefully perused the manuscript in front of her- recently discovered during an expedition to the ghost zone. After carefully translating the latin books, they provided a treasure trove of information. Information on ghost repellant and ghost attractant plants, ways to fortify summoning circles, and incantations to summon a variety of ghosts. But the most interesting information regarded the king of all ghosts. This incredibly powerful being would unify all the ghosts, bringing prosperity to the Infinite Realms, as the book called the Ghost Zone. According to the book, the figure would also cultivate peace between the living and the dead, strengthening the bonds between the worlds as both prosper. To Maddie, it sounded like a legend but the very real looking summoning ritual peaked her interest.

"It looks like that's it Mads." Jack excitedly exclaimed. 

The woman looked up from behind the control panel she had the book propped on. Her gaze took in the carefully painted sigil she and Jack completed in the center of the lab fifteen minutes ago. The placement of the candles and crystals were all perfectly placed, with their own additions.

"It looks perfect dear." Maddie remarked. 

Jack grinned brightly. He patted one of the bazookas pointed towards the circle.  "These babies should be able to take out any ghost, no matter how powerful. "

The woman frowned lightly. "Hopefully we won't need to." She pointed at the paper, scanning the words once more. "We know from our previous test that the circle will trap the ghosts we summoned while nullifying their powers.  And these latest modifications will reinforce that power so no matter how powerful the ghost, they can't escape."

"You have a point but better safe than sorry, especially since we're supposed to be summoning the king of all ghosts."

Maddie rolled her eyes, good naturedly. “I highly doubt that will happen. I’m sure we will summon something but I won’t be the mythical figure book proposes.”

Jack chuckled. “The story is out there. But I think we’re ready for anything.”

“Hopefully. Are you ready to get started?” Maddie asked, waving him over to her.

“Yep.” Jack came to stand beside her, near the remote controls for their bazookas.

“Alright, I’ll say the incantation. As soon as the ghost appears, can you turn on the ghost shield?”

“No problem. And I’ll have the guns at the ready too!” Jack positioned his hands above the shield control.

“Now don’t get too trigger happy honey. We want to actually ask some questions while we can. While in the circle, the ghost can’t lie and will have to answer our questions.”

“Ah. Alright.” The man looked disappointed but agreed.

Taking a deep breath, Maddie started chanting. “Veni ad nos rex exspiravit.”

The lab lights flickered. Inventions and glassware started shaking on the shelves as Maddie continued.

“Et mediator vivorum et mortuorum.”

She kept going, ignoring the hair blowing in her face as a wind whipped up out of nowhere. The lights blinked more as the shaking increased.

“Maddie! It’s working.” Jack exclaimed.

The woman looked up but didn’t stop as her husband marveled. The wind swirled in the circle, the flames of the candles growing and flickering green. The lab lights blinked again.

“ Veritatem dicere.”

Neon green and white lights appeared in the circle, swirling in the wind. Eerie, far away whispers echoed in the room. 

“Et ostende te nobis!”

With a final shout, Maddie finished the incantation and all the lights in the lab blinked out. The woman almost felt her heart stop as she was left in darkness. Then five seconds later, the room relite and Maddie gaped.

There in the summoning circle stood a very familiar black-haired boy in spaceship pajamas and a toothbrush in his mouth. Wide blue eyes blink at the hunters bewilderedly as the figure slowing pulled the toothbrush out of his mouth. The lab fell utterly silent, except for the soft sound of breathing.

“Danny?” Jack asked surprisingly softly, hands falling away from the forgotten shield controls.

The boy only gaped silently as Maddie’s mind remained blank, unable to process.

The male hunter stalked forward, head tilted questioningly. “What...how….how did you end up down there, Danny-boy?” He reached a hand forward, as if to guide the kid out of the circle.

Seeing her husband almost cross the boundary, Maddie’s mind suddenly whirled into action. Anger sparked. “Wait! That’s not Danny.”

Jack frozen, hand drawing back while the figure in the circle stumbled back a step, fearfully. The toothbrush fell out of his hand, forgotten. The man turned to look at Maddie questioningly. “What?”

The woman gritted her teeth. “That’s obviously a shapeshifting ghost.” She glared, directing her ire at the ghost. “I bet you think you’re clever, using our son’s likeness to trick us into letting you go.”

The ghost swallowed, warily eyeing the guns aimed at him. “Mom! Dad! I’m….I’m not tricking you.”

Maddie crossed her arms. “Definitely not. I do not believe for a second that you’re our Danny.”

Expression turning pained, the boy’s lip trembled. “But….but I am Danny.”

The woman scoffed, glancing at her husband who was quickly staring between her and the ghost with wide eyes. “You disgusting ghost, don’t try to convince me.”

“But I’m Danny. I’m your son. Please, you have to believe me!” The ghost practically begged.

“No! You’re not!” Maddie shouted. How dare this monster use her baby’s face! How dare it pretend to be him! “I will tear you…”

“Maddie!” Jack called, desperately. The woman startled, feeling her husband's hand on her arm. He’d walked up beside her while she’d been yelling at the ghost.  Her eyes fixed on his, which were not angry or confused like she expected. “Maddie.” He repeated. “That is Danny.”

“What!?” Her mouth pinched shut and she glowered at the ghost again.

“Madds. A ghost in the circle can’t lie.” He said certainly, but a little desperate.

The woman’s mouth fell open, her eyes widening as she realized what he said. “He...he can’t be….”

The hand on her arm moved to holding her hand. “He’s not lying. He can’t be lying. So that is Danny.”

The woman shook her head, glancing up at the boy in the circle. His arms wrapped around his waist as he watched them warily. “No. That can’t be true. No.”

“He can't be a shapeshifting ghost trying to trick us. One literally wouldn’t be able to say it was our son. So he has to be our Danny.” Despite the confident words, the man’s voice shook ever so slightly.

Maddie glanced at the boy again. “Or it’s a ghost that actually thinks it is.” Though she tried from conviction, the words sounded hollow and untrue. Her gut swirled with anxiety, as she trembled. 

“Maddie. I don’t think that’s…..” Jack started.

But the woman cut him off, pointing. “And you know we can’t summon a human with that circle, Jack! He’s a ghost.”

“No….I’m...I’m not…” Panicked sputtering came from the circle. The boy stumbled back. “I’m not a gho-, I’m not a gho-. I’m not a gho-” He leaned forward, pained expression on his face as he kept choking on the words.

Letting go of Jack’s hand, Maddie marched forward. “Don’t try to lie.” Her voice trembled. “You can’t when you’re in there.”

“No. I’m… I’m….” The boy shook his head, physically unable to force the words. He stepped back and hit the invisible barrier around the circle, letting out a yelp of pain.

At the sight, Maddie frowned, crossing her arms. Another confirmation that the boy in the circle wasn’t human. 

 Jack walked forward, holding his hands out. “Okay. Just tell us the truth kiddo. Are you a ghost?”

A tear fell from the boy’s eyes. “Nnnn….” He tried to deny, but then he nodded. “Yes. yes. I’m a ghost. But...but I’m not...I’m not an imposter. I promise, I’m me. I’m Danny.”

No, no, no. Maddie’s mind stopped, swirling with panicked denial. It felt like the air was sucked out of the room. He couldn’t be Danny. He couldn’t be, because her son couldn’t be a ghost. But….but….

Beside her, Jack took a shaking breath. He pressed a button on the panel and all the guns deactivated and pivoted down with a whirl. Then the man stepped forward and bent down slightly, at eye level with the trembling boy. When Jack spoke, his voice, though shaking, was gentle and fond. “I believe you, son.”

“You do?” Watery blue eyes widened with hope.

“Yes, Danny.” The man nodded, his own eyes watering. “You’re my boy, no matter what.”

Maddie’s jaw dropped. Jack...Jack believed him. He believed him. And no matter what other people thought, her husband was not naive. He would never be tricked by a ghost, no matter how clever. And she trusted his instincts and his judgement. A trembling hand gripped her jumpsuit over her heart. Jack believed that this was their son, a ghost. And it was true, wasn’t it?  But...it couldn't be. It couldn’t. Her son, her baby, couldn’t be a ghost. 

In front of her, Danny walked slowly, cautiously towards the father. He looked up hopefully. “Really? You believe that, Dad?”

He smiled, comfortingly. “Yes. Of course Danny. I love you, always.”

“I love you too, Dad.” The boy said softly, truthfully. 

Because it had to be the truth. He couldn’t be lying, about anything. Maddie stood, staring during the exchange. Her pounding heart ached. That stance, that expression, even the words. They were so...Danny. 

He was Danny. He was her son, her baby. But….he was a ghost. Danny was a ghost. He was a ghost….meaning…. 

Danny and Jack ignored her mental freakout. The man walked a step forward, his arms open to accept a much wanted hug from his son. Visibly relaxing in relief, Danny stepped forward but stopped right before the line painted on the floor. “Umm...I can’t get out.”

Jack’s face fell. “Oh. I’ll find something to scrap the paint off.”  His eyes briefly searched the lab. “Or... Maddie?”

The woman didn’t register her name being called. Her son...her son was dead. He had died. He had died without them ever realizing.

“Maddie, you said the spell so you have to let him out.” 

“Mom?”

Her baby was dead and had been for who knows how long. They hadn’t even noticed.  

“Madds, the words to release him are right here.” Jack was right in front of her, pointing at the paper.

“Mom, can you let me go? Please.”

He’d just kept pretending to be alive, to still be human. Why? Why? Why? Did he do that to them, let them pretend their son was alive? Why didn’t he tell them?!

“Maddie?!” “Mom?!”

The words finally caught her attention. Her head whipped up, focusing on Danny. “Why didn’t you tell us?” She demanded.

“What?” The boy questioned.

“Why didn’t you tell us you died?!” She balled one fist.

“Maddie.” Jack’s voice trembled. “The three of us can talk about this later. Please let our son go.”

“No! Our son is dead and I need to know what happened. Now!” She shouted.

Danny tensed fearfully at the tone. “It’s...it’s okay, Mom.” He put out his hands placatingly. “It’s okay.”

“No it’s not!  You died, Danny! You died!”

“Yes but….” Danny started.

Maddie cut him off. “You didn’t even bother telling us!”

“I tried to, right after the portal….”

“The portal….the portal ki….did this. Your accident! You told us it was just a little shock!”

“What was I supposed to say?!” Danny held out his hands.

“The truth! That you’re a ghost!”

 “I tried!” Danny spat out. “But then you always started ranting about how all ghosts are evil and you want to rip them apart for experiments!”

Maddie paled, the words stinging her heart. They had said that, many times but.... “We wouldn’t do that to you.”

“You’ve already threatened too! I’m your favorite ghost to rant about dissecting!”

 Her brow furrowed. “We...didn’t even know until just now, so how could we….”

The boy balled his fists. “And how can you yell at me for not telling you? Why did you never notice?!”

The words cut into her heart, guilt spiking. “Danny..”

“The poor grades, skilling class, missing chores, sneaking out!” The boy gritted his teeth, the furious words pouring out. “You never tried to figure out what was wrong! You just punished me and ignored it, hoping I would talk when I was ready. But maybe I needed you to reach out to me?! And the injuries you kept pretending not to see! Did you really think I was just clumsy?”

Jack put his hands forward. “Danny, we couldn’t have known...”

“No! I used my powers in front of you and you never even noticed!” Danny shouted. “And that’s what kills me. You’ve seen me, not two feet away in ghost form. And you’ve never even recognized me!” 

“Ghost form…” The woman started asking.

But Danny’s eyes suddenly lit up green. Maddie’s mouth fell open at the ghostly display. A tear fell down his face. “I’ve told you I was a good ghost and begged you to work with me. But...but you’ve just shot and yelled at me! You just...you just see me as a monster, a ghost to capture and experiment on. But you never see me!” He screamed. “I’ve stood right in front of you but you never see me!”

Maddie just gapped, heart breaking as Danny slumped to the floor. “I needed you to see me! To see that something was wrong, that I was hurting, that I needed help. But you never did.”

The rant stopped as Danny let out a sob. And the anger suddenly left Maddie. Legs shaking, she walked to the edge of the circle. And Maddie’s mind wared, tugged in two. Between the apologies she wanted to pour out but also the problem, the ‘ghost form’ and the accusations that made no sense. Looking up Danny blinked at her with ghostly neon green eyes. 

Her heart clenched. Except those accusations did make sense. Those eyes. They looked so familiar. 

Before she really thought it through, she asked. “Phantom?” Danny’s eyes narrowed but she continued. “Danny…. Phantom?” She blinked, taking in his facial expression. She imaged his hair white, in a black and white suit she now realized was a lot like hers. “I see it now.”

His eyes widened and he studied her skeptically with wary eyes. “See what?”

She sat down, so the two were face to face. “You’re Phantom, aren’t you? Danny Phantom.” 

The boy nodded and brought his knees to his chest.

Maddie shook her head. “It sounds so much like Danny Fenton.” 

Her heart fell as it really hit her. Her son was Phantom, the ghost she had most wanted to capture. She’s ranted about wanting to hurt and experiment on him. A shaking hand covered her mouth. Oh god, she had shot at her child. She’d even talked about dissecting him to his face. She had told him he was evil. 

She was wrong, so wrong. He had vowed that he was good and had proved it again and again. She saw it on the news every night and in person. He found and captured the other ghosts. He saved and protected people. He never fought or even yelled at them when they attacked him but always pleaded to work with them. When they refused, thinking it a trick, he still fought the ghost and had even saved her and Jack several times. 

Tears fell down her face. He’d been trying to protect them but she’d been too stupid and blind to see it. 

Maddie sobbed. “You’re right. I should have seen it.”

Jack, who had been silently watching with a heartbroken look, sat down beside her. “We both should have seen it. We should have noticed. ”

Still looking down, Danny said nothing.

Maddie’s voice trembled guiltily. “I’m sorry Danny. I’m so sorry.” More tears fell from her eyes. “I shot at you, yelled at you, tried to capture you.” She swallowed. “And we talked about experimenting on you.”

“We messed up so badly.”  Jack’s shoulder’s fell; he sounded so dejected. “We have a lot to make up for and probably never can. But I have to try.”

Shaking, Maddie glanced at her husband.  “We were wrong about you, about everything.” She then turned to Danny, forcing her voice to be as steady as possible. “I know...I know you’re good, Danny.”

Still looking down, Danny wrung his hands. “Oh. Thanks. It’s….nice to hear, I guess.” 

Maddie frowned, heart falling again. She felt new tears welling at Danny’s defeated expression. She balled a fist, digging her nails into her palm to distract her. She couldn’t break down yet; she needed to keep it together to assure her son. “Danny….Danny.” The boy glanced up and back down. “ I mean it. I was wrong about you, about Phantom. You are a hero. ” She sniffled. “And your dad and I want to make up for everything we’ve done to you.

Danny just nodded, still avoiding the parent’s eyes.

The silence lingered heavily, the still lingering grief battling with the new guilt. Maddie’s heart sank. She had messed up so badly. Their son had died in their portal. Their life’s word, the highlight of their career, had taken their son’s life, cut down too soon. But...he was still here. And still himself, still the boy she raised. Yes, he was Phantom, their former enemy but now seeing him in a new light, she saw he was an incredible, selfless ghost hunting hero. But first and foremost he was their son, no matter what or who he was.

And Danny probably thought they hated him.

Maddie’s tears fell over her cheeks, falling off her chin. “I love you so much Danny.” Mildly surprised, the boy looked up, his expression softening. The mother’s hand reached forward, brushing the invisible barrier. “Et captivum me iubes circulus dimittere.”

Briefly the circle lit up with white light, causing Danny to flinch. But then it receded, leaving nothing changed as the child cautiously looked to his parents. 

“You can come out, Danny.” Jack calmly said, motioning him forward. “Come here son.”

Watery gaze still fixed on Jack and Maddie, the boy stood up and walked forward. He hesitated for a second at the boundary but then passed with no resistance.  Jack and Maddie sat with sad, though kind expressions.

“Mom? Dad?” Danny asked and his parents nodded.

 After a cautious pause, Danny sat down between Jack and Maddie. The parents put their arms around him. 

Maddie lightly squeezed his arm. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Danny.” 

The boy sniffled and soon all three were crying. “I love you, Mom and Dad.”

“We love you too.” Jack agreed. 

The silence lingered long, the candles eventually blinking out. They stayed, all three crying. Eventually the automatic lights of the lab turned off, leaving them in total darkness as their tears slowed.

Beside Maddie, Danny siffled. Then a green glow appeared in front of him. An ectoblast, conjured in his hands.

Maddie raised a brow, somewhat startled by the display. “So you actually do have ghost powers.”

Startled, Danny’s light blinked out but neither parent moved away from him. 

Dad found his hand. “What’s it like, being a ghost?”

“Well, I have powers. They were hard to control at first but now...they’re just a part of me.” His hands lit again. “It’s like breathing. Automatic but necessary. And I’m not scared of being a ghost anymore, like I was at first.”

Maddie studied his face, the way the neon green lit up his face eerily. He looked more like the ghost he was, instead of the human-like form he possessed now. The memory of life.

The woman furrowed her brow, considering the eerie change. She swallowed. “Can you show us what you really look like now?”

The boy looked at her, questioningly startled. “What?” His wide eyes turned to his father.

Jack rubbed his back. “Your ghost form? I think that’s what you called it.” He sighed. “We know you’re a ghost now. And we love you, no matter what. But we need to see you as Phantom, to get used to you like that.”

Maddie squeezed his arm. “You don’t have to hide who you are anymore, okay?” 

Wide blue eyes looked between his parents. After a pause, Danny stood up and the lab lights reactivated. His parents also stood. 

Danny swallowed. “All right. You might want to look away. It’s really bright.” He took a confident stance though, he definitely didn’t feel it. “I’m going ghost.”

A ring of light formed around the boy’s waist and separated, spreading towards his head and his legs. Where it passed, Danny changed. His pajamas became a familiar black and white suit. As the ring covered his head, his hair turned white and his eyes turned green.

Finally, a very familiar ghost floated in the middle of the lab. “Ummm. Ta da.” He shrugged nervously.

Maddie marveled. Though the hair and eyes were different, his face was the same. Not just the face even. The same height and build, same face. How didn’t she see this before? Then again, hindsight was twenty-twenty. Why would she think this glowing ethereal being was her child?

She walked forward, gently cupping his face. “Danny. You’re beautiful.”

His face flushed green. “Mom.” He whined.

Maddie tilted her head. Was he...blushing? And it was green? She didn’t voice that thought. Instead her eyes watered. “You are though. Just as handsome as ever.”

He huffed. “Just what I want to hear, my mom thinks I’m handsome.”

Rolling her eyes, Maddie didn’t respond but reached forward to hug him. While inhumanly cold, he was surprisingly solid in her arms. He relaxed into the hug as his mom squeezed him tightly.

Jack joined from the side, holding both of them tightly. He ruffled Danny’s hair, fondingly. “So. You’re a ghost hunter like your old man.”

“Yeah I guess I am.” The boy muttered, into Maddie’s shoulder.

“I’m so proud of you.” Jack said softly.

The three fell back into silence. Maddie’s eyes started watering again. Hugging Danny now didn’t feel that different than hugging him when he looked human. But seeing him as a ghost served as a stark reminder that he was dead and that pain, knowing that her invention had killed her child, came roaring back. She pinched her eyes closed and took a shaking breath, trying to keep her composure.

After a few moments, Danny pulled back. Maddie’s shoulders fell as he left her grip. She glanced at Jack. His silence and sad expression were telling; his heart was broken as much as hers.

Danny looked nervously between the parents. “Are you okay with me being...this?” He motioned up and down his floating body. “With me being Phantom?”

Maddie tried to give him a comforting smile but it probably looked more like a grimace. “Yes, sweetie.”

“Of course son.” Jack added.

The boy wrung his hands. “You don’t look okay.” As their face’s fell, Danny’s eyes widened and his speech quickened. “I’m sorry. I guess you guys weren’t ready for this and I’m making you uncomfortable. I’ll just...I’ll just turn back.”

The ring appeared around his waist again but Maddie quickly touched his arms. “Wait.”

The light disappeared and Danny studied his parents’ faces intently. Maddie steeled herself up his gaze, pushing her grief down. This wasn’t just about her and Jack and what they’d done or not done. This was about Danny, who despite dying was still here and still completely himself. He just wanted his Mom and Dad to love him and needed to know that they did, unconditionally.

Maddie swallowed. “Danny. It’s...it’s okay. You don’t have to pretend for us.”

The boy’s head tilted in confusion. “What?”

The mother sighed. “You don’t….you don’t have to..” 

She closed her eyes and shook her head, unable to get out the pained words. Jack walked beside her and took her hand, gently squeezing it. “What I think your mother is trying to say is….you don’t have to make yourself look human for us.”

Maddie breathed a sigh of relief, immensely grateful that Jack picked up on what she was thinking. But the relief fizzled as Danny’s confusion bleed into warriness. “What do you mean...look human?”

Frowning, Jack continued. “We know you didn’t tell us directly but we figure out, you can make yourself look like you did when you were...alive.” 

As Danny’s eyes widened in alarm, Maddie jumped in trying to calm him. “We understand why you’ve used that and I’m not mad about it.”

Jack nodded. “I’m not either. It looks like a really useful ability to have. But...it’s still a disguise.”

The alarm on Danny’s face intensified. “Ummm that’s not..” He stopped, unable to explain.

Maddie frowned, concern growing in her gut. She grabbed Danny’s hand and looked at him as sincerely as she could. “I love you, no matter what you look like. You don’t need to pretend to be human for us to love you.”

Danny’s jaw dropped. “I’m….I’m not pretending.”

The concern on Maddie’s face grew as she glanced at Jack. Jack gently grabbed his other hand, brows furrowed in thought. “Does making yourself look human make you feel human? Like you’re alive? Is that why you don’t think you’re pretending?”

The boy shook his head. “I am alive.”

“Danny..” Maddie started, frown deepening.

“No.” Danny cut her off. Letting go of his parent’s hands, he ran his own hand through his hair. “I didn’t even realize you guys hadn’t figured it out yet. But...you’ve got the wrong idea. I’m not dead.”

Jack and Maddie’s jaws dropped. “Danny...you’re a ghost.” The mother lithlessly argued.

“Well yeah.” Danny rubbed the back of his neck, looking down at himself. “I definitely am right now. But I’m human too. I’m only half ghost...so not completely dead.”

Maddie sputtered. “That...that’s not possible. You can’t be a ghost and a human at the same time.”

“Well I am. The portal….half killed me. Or maybe it temporarily killed me and becoming a half ghost revived me. I don’t really know how it worked. But the accident changed me so I have ghost powers but I’m still human.”

Maddie gaped. That scientifically wasn’t possible. It shouldn’t be…..but it would explain how not all of their inventions affected him, he got through ghost shields and could disappear from their radar. It would explain his very convincing human form. He actually was human.

Beside her, Jack tilted his head. “How?”

The boy turned to focus on his father. “Like I said, I don’t really know. I still have to eat and sleep and stuff. I have a heartbeat. And in human form, red blood .” He lit his hands with neon green ectoplasm. “But as you can see, I can float, make ectoblasts and do other ghost stuff in this form. And I bleed ectoplasm.”

Maddie’s eyes widened through the explanation. “You have a heartbeat? In this form?”

Danny nodded and held out his hand. “Here. It’s slow but you should be able to feel it.”

Tentatively, the woman held his wrist. Two fingers found the pulse point and gently pressed. She closed her eyes, searching for the sensation. Something pulsed under her fingers. There. 

“You have a heartbeat.” Maddie said in awe. She stepped back. “Jack, feel this.”

Without hesitation, the man obeyed. His eyes lit up as he felt. “You do.”

Danny smiled at them. “See. I’m still alive” He shrugged. “...at least somewhat.”

The mother’s eyes started to well with tears but this time, happy ones. Her boy was alive. 

Jack clearly had the same idea as he scooped Danny up in another hug. “You’re alive! My boy’s alive!”

Danny relaxed, smiling at his dad’s excitement. “Yeah.”

After a moment, the man let go. Maddie kissed Danny’s forehead, before hugging him again.

She pulled away. “You should have said something earlier, young man.”

“Yes, son. You had us thinking you were dead.” Jack tssked, not unkindly.

Danny’s lip turned down, ever so slightly. “Well I did die though.” He glanced at the portal and his parent’s expressions fell somewhat at that. “And I am just as much a ghost as I am a human.”

Maddie supposed that was true. She had seen it with his two forms, though her head was starting to ache with all this information. She put a hand on her head. “You are right, though I don’t really understand all of this yet. But you’re our son, no matter what.”

Jack patted him on the back. “We love you Danny. Ghost, human, or somewhere in between.”

With that Danny smiled again, relaxing. “Thanks Mom and Dad for understanding.” He flew forward, hugging both of them again. Maddie smiled, falling into the hug. She could feel the half-ghost’s core vibrating against her chest with an almost audible purr. She could help but marvel at the display. After a minute, Danny yawned. 

He pulled away, floating back. “I’m getting tired. Do you think we can we talk more in the morning?”

“Of course, son.” “Yes Danny.” Both parents agreed.

With a burst of light, Danny returned to his human form. Again, Maddie marveled as the familiar black hair, blue eyes, and pajamas returned. His bare feet touched down on the floor. He frowned down and then looked over the floor of the lab. 

“Maybe I should just float up the stairs.” His eyes started glowing as he rose off the floor.

Maddie gaped again. “You can do that in human form?”

Danny shrugged. “Yeah. It’s not automatic like in ghost form but it’s not that hard anymore.”

“That’s amazing.” Jack grinned.

Danny blushed then turned his attention to the circle. “I should probably grab my toothbrush.” He bent down and grabbed it.

Maddie wrinkled her nose. “You should just throw it away. There should be an unopened one under your sink.”

“Yeah.” Danny straightened, still holding the brush. He started floating towards the stairs and his parents followed. He looked back at the circle. “Why did you guys summon me anyway?”

Jack frowned. “We weren’t trying to summon you. I’m not sure why that happened. Maddie, any ideas?”

The woman tapped her chin thoughtfully. “The spell probably messed up and summoned the closest ghost, which was you.”

Danny hummed in response. “Who were you trying to summon?”

“The king of all ghosts.” Maddie answered casually. “But he probably doesn’t exist, hence why the spell failed.”

Danny suddenly stopped and stared wide eyed at them. Focusing wavering, he touched back down on the floor for a moment before righting himself. “The spell didn’t fail.”

Maddie’s head tilted, trying to put the pieces together. “What do you….”

Jack reached the conclusion first. “You’re the king of all ghosts!”

“What!?” The mother exclaimed. “What...how?” Just when she thought the revelations were done for tonight, another bombshell.

“How did that happen?” Jack asked after a disbelieving pause. 

Danny shoulder’s raised in an exaggerated shrug. “You know Pariah Dark, the last ghost king. I bested him in single combat.”

The boy turned and started floating away while the parents gaped. “Wait.” Maddie called. “How exactly did that happen? And why?”

Danny groaned. “Can we talk about it in the morning? My ability to talk about anything serious is shot.”

“Danny, we need more information.” Maddie crossed her arms.

The boy blinked at her, giving his best puppy dog eyes. “I’m seriously really tired. Can we wait, Mom? Please?” He turned to Jack. “Dad?”

Jack’s expression softened. “Madds, I think we can wait until the morning.”

Maddie glanced over looking like she wanted to argue but she sighed, choosing not to. “Alright.”

“Thank you.” The boy relaxed. He floated forward and gave his dad and then his mom a hug. “Good night Dad. Good night Mom.”

“Good night son.” “Good night sweetie.”

With that, Danny quickly floated up the stairs before touching down in the kitchen to walk the rest of the way.

Maddie took her husband’s hand. “That was…..”

“A lot. It was….Wow.” Jack also starred, just as dumbfounded at her.

They stayed silent for several moments as Maddie watched her enigma of a son walk away. Human and ghost. Fenton and Phantom. Teenager and hero. Her son and her former enemy. And apparently the king of all ghosts. They had learned a lot but still have much to learn and much to make up for. They had hurt their son many times and in multiple ways but they needed to do better. But hand in hand with her partner, the love of her life, Maddie knew that they would.