Most people didn’t even notice that there was a new kid in town. After all, he didn’t go to school (almost everyone who thought about it didn’t even know if he was a minor or not), but he didn’t make trouble either. To most people who saw him, he just seemed to be a normal teenager with nothing to do but bum around street corners until you looked away.
He wasn’t anybody special.
That’s what Danny Fenton thought the first time he caught sight of the boy. He had dark hair and gray eyes, wore faded, torn jeans and a t-shirt under an old jacket. Really, as soon as Danny saw him, he classified him as a ‘non threat’ and forgot about him. Until two days later, that is.
As Danny Phantom, he’d just managed to take out Technius again, and although the fight had worn him down, he couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride and satisfaction as he flew back towards Fenton Works with a full thermos.
That was when Danny saw him again. The half ghost practically screeched to a halt in surprise when his eye caught sight of the same boy in the exact same place as he had been a few days earlier, looking right at Danny….who was invisible.
In his mind, he upgraded the kid to ‘possible threat’ and decided to investigate cautiously.
Slowly, he approached the kid, making sure to stay invisible. The boy’s eyes never left Danny, and it only freaked him out more.
“How are you doing that?” the boy asked with an obviously British accent. Danny, only a few yards away, froze in the air again. Then, deciding that staying invisible was pointless, he faded back into view.
“How am I doing what?” he asked slowly.
The boy shook his head and then looked back at Danny. “You’re completely invisible. That isn’t Fade and it’s not an illusion either. Your spectral body exists on a visual plane, like a human’s (like most of the ghosts around here—very strange),” the boy added that last part on with a wry shake of his head before continuing. “So you should have the same problem Fading that most humans do. You’ve overcome the problem by turning invisible instead. How?”
Danny blinked, a bit taken back at the boy’s analysis. It sounded like someone had given Jazz their father’s love of ghosts…or like someone had given his father Jazz’s brains. He shuddered at that.
“Uh…” he said intelligently. “Don’t all ghosts turn invisible?”
The boy blinked at him. “No. They use Fade. Surely you, as a ghost, would know of Fade…”
Danny’s blank expression must have given him away because the boy pulled the hand he’d had in his pants pocket out holding a penny. Danny relaxed marginally. It wouldn’t have been the first time someone had pulled something to surprise him from their pocket.
“Like this,” he said and threw the penny behind Danny. Unwittingly, Danny’s eyes followed it for just a split second before he turned his attention back to the other teen…who had vanished.
“W-wait! Where did you—“
“You really don’t know,” the boy’s voice said incredulously. Danny whirled back to where he’d seen the other teenager and squinted. It sounded as if the voice were coming from where he’d been standing earlier...hadn’t it? Or was someone just playing with Danny’s mind…again?
It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust, but they eventually caught site of a form and his eyes widened. The kid hadn’t moved. He was standing right where Danny had left him, but it almost felt like his eyes just didn’t want to see him.
“How did you do that?” he asked, not liking the situation in the slightest. If the boy was a ghost… Great, that’s all he needed: another ghost coming in to try and take over.
“I faded,” the kid said slowly, as if he were explaining something to a particularly rambunctious child. “You know, from a person’s perception?
“No…” Danny said slowly.
“How can you be a ghost and not know that?” The boy sounded absolutely stunned. Danny didn’t like the implications. Was the boy saying Danny wasn’t a ghost? That hit a little too close to home for comfort.
Years of hiding his secret told him he had to misdirect.
“And you would know about it how?”
The boy raised an eyebrow, his face a mixture of sadness, longing and pride all hidden under a wry smile. “I’m not a ghost, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Danny couldn’t help but be impressed at the boy’s correct assumption, but he hid it under a scowl. “I come across a lot of ghosts who say that.” Actually, he didn’t. Most ghosts panicked if their human cover was blown, but this boy didn’t need to know that. There was a first time for everything after all.
The boy’s eyebrow rose again, this time giving his face a distinctly amused expression. “Really?”
“Yes,” Danny responded, a slight edge to his voice.
“I’m impressed that any ghost can make themselves visible long enough to masquerade as a human to begin with.”
The half-ghost couldn’t help a snort. “You haven’t been around here long, have you. Fresh out of the Ghost Zone?”
The boy blinked, seemingly taken aback. “Ghost Zone?”
Danny rolled his eyes, but the kid looked genuinely confused, so Danny decided to cal his bluff. “Yeah, you know, the realm of ghosts? The place most ghosts come from?”
“But…” the boy blinked, “doesn’t the spirit stay with the remains of the body?”
“Huh? Why would they?” Danny asked now a bit confused himself. The other kid was either a really good actor, or he really didn’t know much about the ghosts that haunted Amity Park.
The boy cocked his head, seemingly perplexed. “Well…consecrated ground and all. It gives ghosts a sanctuary—a home,” he added the last part a little wistfully before continuing, “and protects them.”
The boy paused and scratched his head. “You know, I’m not sure. The Living, probably.”
Danny rolled his eyes. “Why would the dead need to be protected from the living?”
The boy regarded Danny for a second, and then shrugged. “Ghosts have powers the living don’t. A lot of people would want to take advantage of that.”
The white-haired boy’s eyes widened. He’d never thought of it that way before…
“Aren’t you getting it mixed up?” he insisted after a moment. “Ghosts are the ones who use their powers to attack humans around here.”
“Yeah,” the boy conceded, a strange expression that Danny couldn’t quite read crossed his face. “I noticed that. I’ve never seen so many malevolent spirits in a single area, let alone those that can actually affect the physical world so easily…”
“I’ve never come across a ghost that can’t,” Danny assured him, frowning.
The blinked and scratched his head. “Must be a local phenomenon.”
The conversation was starting to really annoy Danny. He had no idea what was going on with this kid and he did not like being left in the dark when it came to ghosts.
“What are you talking about?” he insisted.
The boy raised an eyebrow at him, his expression amused again. “In most other parts of the world, ghosts live in their graveyards or they remain where their body fell or was buried. They don’t move on to a ‘Ghost Zone’ and they can rarely affect the physical world.”
“How do you know that?” Danny asked again.
“Because I was raised by ghosts.”
All Danny could do was blink as his mind tried to process that. He would have laughed outright if he hadn’t been so tired and annoyed. “What?” he asked, bringing a hand up to rub at his right temple. He just knew this would lead to a headache eventually, so he may as well start the process of relaxing muscles now. Maybe the kid was insane? Maybe Danny should just leave now and forget this ever happened…
“I wandered into a graveyard near my house when I was young. The ghosts there took me in and raised me.”
“Just like that?” Danny asked skeptically.
“No,” the boy said, his voice gaining a hard edge for the first time in the conversation. “There were circumstances, but they’re none of your business.”
The half-ghost wanted to protest, but he could see the logic in the kid’s words, so he settled for another frown instead.
“Is that how you could see me when I was invisible?” he asked coldly.
The boy’s expression lightened back to normal. “Yeah. Well, I couldn’t see you, per se, but I knew you were there.”
“You ask a lot of questions.”
Danny couldn’t help but bristling defensively. “Yeah, well, I never asked someone to come into my town and be completely immune to one of my best defenses. Other ghosts can’t see me when I’m invisible most of the time!” Although Vlad always seemed to be able to tell where Danny was. Half the time Skulker and Spectra could too. And strangely enough, the Box Ghost and the Lunch Lady…
“Fair enough,” the boy said with another shrug. He seemed to like doing that. “Every ghost has a presence. The more in tune someone is with the spiritual world around them, the more they can sense it, whether they’re dead or alive. Most of the dead live in the spiritual realm, so they can sense a ghost’s or a human’s presence.”
“And because you were raised by ghosts,” supposedly, “they taught you how?” Danny asked, catching on.
“Precisely. Most ghosts are invisible to humans anyway, but those who can sense them…well, invisibility doesn’t exactly work. Perhaps that is how the ability to Fade came about,” he said with a contemplative expression, as if he’d just discovered or connected something in his mind.
“And how does this ‘Fade’ work?” Danny asked slowly. “Could…could you teach me?”
The boy seemed mildly surprised. “You would trust me?”
Not in the slightest, but that didn’t mean that Danny couldn’t learn something that could be very helpful in the long run. “As long as you don’t try to attack anyone or try to take over the world,” Danny warned.
The boy snickered. “I prefer my anonymity, thank you.” He held out his hand. “The name’s Bod by the way.”
Bod shrugged yet again. “If you want to know my real name it’s Nobody Owens.”
“Did the ghosts give you that name?”
“Yes,” Bod replied slowly. “Why do you ask?”
Danny snickered. “Because it seems that no matter where in the world you go, ghosts will always have about the same level of creativity.”
It was Bod’s turn to frown apparently and Danny couldn’t help but snicker. “Please refrain from insulting my parents.”
“Sorry,” Danny said, although he was still smiling.
“You know, you just insulted yourself. You are a ghost too, right?”
The half-ghosts smile vanished. “Why do you say that?”
The boy contemplated his answer silently for several seconds. “And what do I get in return?” he asked.
Danny paused, wondering what the heck the kid meant.
“You asked me to teach you how to Fade. What do I get in return?”
“Oh,” Danny responded. “Uh…”
“Teach me to turn invisible.”
Danny blinked. “Uh, humans can’t.”
“I’m not an ordinary human.”
Danny frowned. “Why not?”
“Grew up with ghosts, remember?”
“Yeah, but how does that make you different from other people?”
Bod nodded as if conceding the point. “When I was 8, the ghost of a witch put a spell on me. It gave me the ability to learn what ghosts could, I think.”
“After that I could Fade and I’d been trying to learn that for months before hand. I could also Dreamwalk and—“
“Dreamwalk?” Danny asked hurriedly, growing more and more worried. He couldn’t help but think of Nocturne. Also if this kid had powers, was it anything like when Desiree had given Tucker ghost powers? If he was actually human, was he a ticking time-bomb?
“Another ability normal ghosts have.”
“How many other abilities do ‘normal’ ghosts have?” Danny asked worriedly. He didn’t like that he was starting to believe the kid in spite of himself.
Bod hesitated, suddenly wary as he scrutinized Danny. He didn’t seem like a very open person, but Danny figured that after being raised by ghosts, he could see that. Still, he needed to know in case a ghost from outside of Amity Park and/or the Ghost Zone came to town.
Finally Bod seemed to deem Danny worthy of his secrets as he shrugged as if to say ‘why not?’ and spoke again.
“Fading, Dreamwalking—joining your consciousness with another’s subconscious or dream, Haunting—or inserting perceptions into another consciousness, kind of like illusions but with feelings instead of vision, it’s very similar to Fading—manipulating Fear and sometimes Terror although I don’t use that last one.”
Danny frowned. “Seems like most ghosts can do that last one.”
Danny didn’t answer.
“I don’t want to know how.”
Bod blinked at Danny for a moment before breaking into a smile. “Right. I like you. How about this, in exchange for me teaching you how to do everything I can do and about ghosts outside, you teach me how to do what you can do and about the ghost around here. We can compare notes and what not. What do you say?”
Danny thought for a moment. He didn’t normally trust people that just rushed into the town (he’d been taken advantage of a few too many times under similar circumstances for him to have not learned his lesson), but here was a boy who had demonstrated his abilities harmlessly and then offered to teach them to Danny for no other reason than to learn in return. It could still be a ruse, but it was a risk Danny was willing to take. Besides, this way he could keep an eye on the kid.
“Alright,” he said, extending his hand.
With a small but genuine grin, Bod took it and shook.