Not wanting to waste another second in the house, Danny and Jazz grabbed their wallets and dashed out.
It turned out to be a very beautiful day. Danny was surprised to find himself actually enjoying the walk he had with his sister. It had been years since he had last enjoyed being in his hometown.
The buildings had not changed. The stores were all the same, save certain names, of course, and to Danny's surprise, many of the owners were in fact, the same as well. The only things that had physically changed were the people he had grown up with.
"Is that Dash?" Danny said with a laugh, pointing at a man down the street.
Jazz followed his finger. There was a tall man with blond hair, wearing a red t-shirt and jeans. He was talking to an asian man while two children, one girl with black hair and a boy with blond hair ran around in circles, giggling.
"Sure is," Jazz replied with a smile. "When he went to join the NFL, Dash met a news reporter and married her. He comes back every summer between games to visit his parents, and brings his kids along with him."
"You mean those two there are actually his?" Danny said in shock. "I don't believe it! I never thought Dash could actually be a father! "
"Of course he can. People change, Danny, remember?"
Danny looked at her, but before he could reply, the man with blonde hair looked up at them and pointed at the Fentons.
Danny recoiled in shock. "Oh, great," he muttered.
The two men looked at them and then, along with the children, walked across the street.
"Great; now he's gonna give me a good dose of high school," Danny complained, hiding behind his sister. "Just to remind me that nothing's changed!"
"Danny, get a grip," Jazz sighed. "He won't kill you."
"You don't know that!"
"Yes, I do. I graduated with him, remember? He's changed, trust me."
Danny looked at her worriedly until Dash and the asian man stopped in front of them. Danny gasped quietly and cowered behind his sister.
"Hey, Jazz," Dash said with a grin.
"Hey, Dash," Jazz replied. "How's Courtney?"
"Off in Afghanistan, on another report," Dash replied with a sigh. "Hopefully, she doesn't get herself killed. Left the two brats with me."
Danny squeaked, catching Dash's attention. The man leaned over to get a better look and smiled. "Oh, ho, no way, man!" he laughed, reaching out and grabbing Danny's shirt.
Danny yelped quickly as he was pulled out from behind his sister and smoothed out his shirt.
"It's Quiet Danny Fenton!" Dash exclaimed as the other man laughed. "You never mentioned that your brother was comin' over, Jazz!"
Danny frowned at him. "That's because he didn't want to be mentioned," he said.
"It's nearly been five years, Fenton. What've you been up to, lately
" He paused and leaned towards the Fentons, so that his next words could not be heard by the other man. "
Other than fighting ghosts, I mean?" he whispered. Before Danny had left Amity Park, he had asked Tucker to create a device strong enough to wipe out the memory of everyone on Earth, so that no one could remember his identity. He had only allowed his family, his best friends, and two other people from high school to keep their memories.
And now that he was four years older, Danny silently wished that he had not chosen Dash as one of those two.
Danny placed his hands on his hips. "None of your business, Dash. And FYI, I haven't been
fighting ghosts," he whispered sarcastically. "I've been living clean for four years."
Dash was slightly startled by the tone of voice Danny used. He looked at Jazz in confusion.
Jazz sighed and rolled her eyes. "He's worried you'll pound him," she muttered.
Dash recoiled in surprise before looking at Danny with an amused grin. "C'mon, Danny; that was ages ago!" he said, waving an arm through the air. "People can change, right?"
"Of course they can," Jazz muttered behind her teeth while nudging her brother's side.
Danny rubbed his arm gingerly before looking at Dash again. "So, you're not gonna kick my butt or anything like that?" he asked.
"Other than the fact that you saved this town and made it to the front page news, I don't hold a grudge against you anymore," Dash replied.
"I didn't know you had a grudge against me."
"Not the point. I mean that, considering you've saved my butt more than I've clobbered yours, I figured it was just a waste of time anyway." Dash leaned towards him again and added in a whisper, "Besides, other than the fact that you can turn into a ghost and fly around, shooting lasers and stuff, you're a pretty decent guy."
Danny was impressed. He had never expected Dash to actually apologize, but hearing him say these words made all the difference.
"Uh, well, thank you," the young astronaut said while rubbing his neck. He grinned timidly. "Thank you, Dash."
Dash shrugged in reply. "So, back to my first question," he said. "How've you been, Fenton?"
"Oh, just doing some studying, I guess," Danny replied with a shrug. "I've actually become an astronaut."
"Astronaut, eh? Impressive. I didn't think you had it in you."
"The brains for that stuff."
Danny frowned in annoyance while Dash and the other man burst into laughter. Even the children giggled.
"That's hilaaaarious," Danny said slowly, although his voice announced how irritated he was.
Dash wiped a tear before looking at him again. "I'm just kiddin' you, Fenton," he replied. "What I really mean is that it's pretty surprising. Didn't you spend most of high school near the D- average, like most guys like us?"
Danny shrugged. "By the time I had reached Senior year, I managed to bump up my grades," he said. "That's part of what got me into NASA."
"And none of your abilities had anything to do with it?"
Once more, Danny frowned. "If that's all you people will talk about, I'll just leave now," he said, peeved. He turned on his heels and stormed off. "I'm going to get a milkshake, Jazz. Meet me when you and your pals are finished talking ghostly matters."
Jazz quickly explained to Dash how Danny was trying to forget his powers before she rushed off to meet her brother at the Nasty Burger, a restaurant they used to hang out at as teenagers.
Danny was quietly stirring his milkshake in a booth, sometimes making his hand transparent and allowing it to pass through the glass.
Jazz sighed and walked over to him. "Hard not to just play with it, huh?" she guessed, sitting across from him.
"Clam it," Danny replied gloomily, not looking up at her.
"Danny, come on; you haven't been here since you graduated. That's nearly five years now. People are gonna talk to you like that!"
"Then stop them," Danny snapped tiredly, looking up at her and frowning. "Fine, I'll admit that it was nice seeing Dash smile at me, but it gets annoying when everyone is talking to you about your ghost powers. Not to mention that the only reason I let him remember was because I didn't want him to go back to clobbering me as an adult." He looked sadly at his milkshake. "I just want to be normal, for once. I want to spend one day in this town without hearing the word ghost. Is that too much to ask?!"
"Danny," Jazz began.
She was quickly cut off when something outside caught her attention. Walking past the building, headed straight for the skate park, were Danny's two closest friends since childhood.
Rich-Goth girl Samantha Manson and Techno-geek Tucker Foley.
Jazz gasped and grabbed Danny's arm. "What you need is some cheering up," she said with a grin, pulling him to his feet. She ran to the exit, dragging Danny with her.
"Whoa! Hey, Jasmine, cut it out!" Danny complained as she dragged him out of the restaurant.
"Not yet!" she replied.
Danny looked up and gasped when he noticed that he was about to run into the pole his sister dashed around. Quickly causing himself to turn transparent, he floated straight through it without any harm done. "Would you slow down?!" he complained as he returned to normal. "If it wasn't for my ghost powers, you would have knocked me out!"
"Thanks for the heads up, Phantom, but we really need to move it," his sister replied. "Before we miss them completely!"
Jazz pushed him forward, nearly sending her brother stumbling to the ground. When Danny had regained his balance, he looked up at the skate park ahead of him. He gasped softly.
Tucker was busy trying to climb a halfpipe while Sam sat at the bottom, speaking to him while tying her hair. They both looked exactly the way they had looked when Danny had graduated with them-save the fact that they were nearly five years older.
Their style of clothing still matched their personalities. While Sam had ditched the purple leggings, she still wore dark clothes and leather boots. Tucker had a light green buttoned shirt, dark green pants and a pair of brown hiking boots. And he still wore his trademark red beret. The PDA glasses he used to wear as a teenager had not been replaced by more casual bifocals.
Danny was too surprised to see them again to say anything. Four years was far too long for him to have never contacted his best friends.
Jazz walked up to him and placed her hands on his shoulders. "So, are we gonna go see how they're doing, Little Brother?" she asked with a smile.
Danny looked at her for a moment before finally grinning. "I
I'd like that," he said as she showed him the way.
Sam was just finishing tying her hair up when she noticed the red-haired woman walk towards them. She looked up in Jazz' direction. "Hey, Tuck, we've got company," she said.
Tucker finished climbing to the top of the halfpipe and looked at Jazz. "Hey, what's up, Jazz?" he greeted, although he seemed less than pleased to see her. He frowned softly and crossed his arms.
Jazz smiled back at them. "Hi, guys," she said while waving. "What's up?"
"Obviously nothing," Sam replied, a little peeved as well.
"What's the big deal, Jazz?" Tucker wondered. "You send us an email saying that Danny was going to come visit this summer, and we've been here for nearly two whole weeks, and still nothing."
"You know how much you wasted our time?" Sam added, crossing her arms.
Jazz shrugged. "Oh, I don't think I wasted it that much," she replied.
Tucker frowned a little more. "No?" he said. "Well, then, if you didn't waste our time, where is your brother? I've been here for fourteen days, and still no sign of-!"
Suddenly, out of thin air, Danny decided to go from invisible to visible again. He smiled brightly and waved.
Tucker and Sam stared at him in silence before smiling excitedly and standing up. "DANNY!!" they exclaimed, running to him.
Danny spread out his arms and all three hugged each other while laughing and shouting for joy. They even jumped in place before hugging again.
Jazz beamed and looked on, happy to finally see her brother smile more than a timid grin.
It was only a few minutes later did the three friends decide to finally let each other go. Tucker straightened his beret and placed a hand on his best friend's shoulder. "Man, Danny, it's been way too long since we last hung out!" the black man said with a grin. "I haven't heard from you since we graduated!"
"Sorry about no keeping in touch, Tuck," Danny replied, placing a hand on Tucker's shoulder. "I've been so busy with work and trying to keep ghosts off my mind, I didn't really notice time fly by."
"Lame excuse! You owe us an apology, Danny!" Sam said joyfully, hugging him again and kissing his cheek. "We honestly thought you had actually died or something!"
"Come on, Sam, you know me."
"Not anymore," Tucker said with a laugh. "Jazz told us that you made it as an official astronaut, Danny! That's way cool! I knew you wanted to be one, but I didn't actually think you'd stick to it since we were kids!"
"Sure I would! I've stuck to everything else, haven't I?" Danny replied.
Tucker chuckled as the two of them shared their secret handshake. "You da master, Bro!"
Sam clasped her hands together and excitedly shifted from one foot to the next. "Come on, come on, Danny," she said eagerly. "I know I'm gonna sound incredibly lame and girly saying it this way, but you've just got to go ghost for us again!"
Danny gaped in disbelief and frowned. He crossed his arms. "Has everyone in this town actually lost their heads or something?!" he exclaimed angrily. "Even my best friends want to hear more about my powers!"
"Forget hear about them; let's see them!" Tucker added.
"What's with this town?!"
"Come on, Danny; it's been four years since we last saw you in that mode," Sam admitted. "Couldn't you just do it for us one more time?"
"We know you left Amity Park mainly to put your ghost busting past behind you," Tucker added. "But don't you think it would be safe if you just transformed
for your two best friends in the whole wide world who haven't seen or heard from you in years?"
Danny stared at them in silence for a moment before rolling his eyes amusingly and grinning. The halo of light appeared around his waist and split into two. As they slid over his body, his appearance transformed until he had become once more the hero he had been in his childhood.
Sam and Tucker were bowled over. The last time they had seen their friend in this shape, they were teenagers. This was the first time they had seen Danny take his phantom form as an adult.
"Oh-ho! Sweet!" Tucker laughed as they ran to him. "Check out those biceps, man! They may not be built, but they sure feel sturdy!"
Sam trailed a hand over Danny's chest and stomach. "Wow, really firm muscles there, Phantom," she said. "Lean but strong." Looking at him again, she grinned. "You've really worked out, Danny. I'm impressed."
Danny grinned slyly. "Just impressed?" he asked.
Sam covered a blush and tried to frown in reply. "Just? What else do you want me to say?" she wondered.
Tucker giggled and pointed at her. "Go on, Sam," he teased. "Tell him how you feel!"
Sam glared at him. "Shut up, Computer Geek," she replied. She looked at Danny again and grinned timidly. "Um, you look
very handsome, Danny, despite the fact that you're wearing a one piece suit."
Danny smiled in reply and struggled to control a blush himself.
"Ooh, I feel the heat comin' on!" Tucker said with a grin. He leaned towards Danny. "She hasn't stopped thinking about you since grad, Bro."
"Tucker, I told you to shut up!" Sam snapped again, yet it only made Tucker giggle some more.
Danny rolled his eyes while laughing softly and shifted positions. "Thank you for the compliments, guys," he said. "Honestly, it's probably the only thing I'll enjoy hearing about my powers all summer." His smile disappeared and was replaced by a stern frown. "But that's all," he added. He returned to normal before crossing his arms again. "I came here to relax before going back to my job; the last thing I need is everyone asking me questions about my powers."
"Danny, you do realize that no one's officially seen Danny Phantom in four years, right?" Tucker pointed out while raising an eyebrow.
Jazz sighed and rolled her eyes. "Yeah, he knows that," she replied. "But he's as ignorant about the truth as my dad is."
"I'm not ignorant, " Danny argued. "I just don't want to make Danny Phantom my identity!"
Sam raised an eyebrow and placed her hands on her hips as she, Jazz and Tucker stared at Danny with sarcastic looks. "Um, dude, Danny Phantom is your identity," she pointed out.
Danny frowned back at her. "Not the point," he replied. "What I mean is that I don't want to make ghost hunting my actual job. I need to make a living, and my first priority is to become a great astronaut." His frown disappeared and was replaced by a concerned look. "I just want to be normal for once. And show my parents that I'm not the same failure I was in high school."
"Failure?" Tucker echoed. He placed an arm around Danny's shoulders. "Pal, you are no failure. What fourteen-year-old would have been able to juggle being a superhero while passing classes?"
"Passing?" Danny said while raising an eyebrow. "Tucker, I was a D average student."
"But you still passed."
"Not by much, that's for sure."
Sam rolled her eyes. "Danny, what Tucker's trying to say is that you were able to do the impossible at a really young age," she said with a grin. "I mean, we didn't even know how to drive a car yet, and you were able to fly. You faced unthinkable dangers, but still made it through to Senior year and graduated with flying colors."
"And for the record, Danny," Tucker added with a wink, "You were never a normal kid."
Danny blinked a few times before grinning timidly. "One thing's for sure; you guys never forgot how to get through," he admitted.
Sam punched him softly in the shoulder. "Just because you never stayed in contact with us, doesn't mean we would forget about you," she replied.
Tucker raised a hand in the air. "So, why not get this summer started while we still have some time?" he announced.
Jazz watched as Danny and Tucker high-fived before turning and walking off. "Well, I guess I'll leave you guys to do your stuff," she said.
"Aren't you coming with us?" Danny wondered.
Jazz smiled back before shrugging. "Never planned to," she replied. She waved to him before leaving. "They're your friends, Danny; it's you who needs to do some hanging out. I'll see you tonight at home."
Danny grinned. "Thanks, Jazz," he said before placing his arms around his best friends and walking off.