“So,” Danny rumbled as he focused yet again on this fading technique, “ghosts usually can’t leave the consecrated ground?” He glanced at his hand, scowling a little at how it was still visible and focused again on it not being there while trying not trigger his phasing or invisibility. “Isn’t that kind of like trapping them…or something?”
He grunted with the effort he was focusing on his hand only to get distracted when he spotted Bod shaking his head out of the corner of his eyes. “You’re going about this all wrong. You’re still thinking instead of believing. You have to truly believe you’ve stopped existing.”
Danny opened his eyes as his brow furrowed. “Stopped existing?” How was that supposed to work?
Bod shrugged. “You’re a ghost. Ghosts aren’t supposed to be able to affect the human realm, so you have to internalize that feeling and believe that lack of interaction equals a lack of being.”
“But I can interact with humans,” Danny protested.
“Which is rare and strange and probably just a local phenomenon, as I’ve said before.” Bod shot back, just a tad of impatience ringing in his voice.
The half-ghost frowned. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Me and the ghosts around here are weirder then whatever normal ghosts are. Then why am I learning this again when I can just go invisible and still help people?” Besides, he knew he could be visible and use his powers in other parts of the world. Among all the mini trips he’d taken with the family in the RV, the length of time he’d spent away from the town on various trips to Wisconsin and the (mostly forgotten by everyone) road trip around Freakshow’s little kidnapping stunt proved that.
“You were the one who wanted to learn in the first place, Danny,” Bod said, just a little lost as if he couldn’t figure out how they’d taken this turn in the conversation.
“Yeah, well obviously I didn’t realize it would involve something like this. I mean, pretending you don’t exist? Ghosts do exist. I exist. We can interact with the world and it seems to me like pretending otherwise is a step in the wrong direction!” Danny hadn’t meant to go off, but pretending not to exist, well, all he could think of with that was that fear he felt deep inside (possibilities after the Freakshow incident non-withstanding) every time he flinched at his parents latest ghost trap and he pretended he wasn’t who he truly was now….
Bod seemed to look at him again, with something akin to understanding on his face. “I can understand, believe me, but the reality is you’ll never learn to fade with a mentality like that.”
Danny sighed. Maybe this really wasn’t such a good idea. He did not like the idea of thinking and believing that he no longer existed. Actually, the very idea made him extremely uneasy. He rubbed his arm with his other hand as if to warm himself. It was a nervous habit he’d picked up from Jazz recently.
Maybe he should talk to Jazz about all of this?
“And I guess it is.”
Danny blinked. “You guess what is?”
Bod smiled wryly. “Trapping ghosts on consecrated ground. But most of them like the idea of a sanctuary.”
“But not all?”
The dark-haired boy shrugged. “Does every human have the same opinon?”
“Why should ghosts?”
Danny thought about it for a moment and then shrugged, conceding the point. He of all people knew that ghosts tended to have different personalities.
Sighing, he pushed the conversation and ideas aside to concentrate on the task at hand. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Yeah, you’re doing about as well as I did when I first learned it,” Bod replied with a dry snicker. “I don’t know if I can turn invisible.”
The white-haired boy shrugged. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Bod put a hand to his chin, cupping it thoughtfully. “Alright, so tell me again what you feel of when you go invisible.”
Danny rolled his eyes. When Bod had first asked Danny what he thought when he went invisible, two days previously, he hadn’t really known what to say. He didn’t really think of anything…he just kind of did it. He’d told Bod as much and the other boy had then asked what he felt instead then. Danny still hadn’t know how to answer.
He’d said something along the lines of how he felt more hidden and safe. Apparently that had helped Bod about as much as the other boy’s words helped Danny—which was to say not at all.
So Danny thought about it again (although he couldn’t help the annoyance at having to do so for what felt like the umpteenth time). He even tapped into that cold core of his that gave him ghost powers to begin with and turned invisible.
“I feel cold,” he commented, unable to help the sarcasm.
Danny opened his eyes at Bod’s tone. “Yeah. I always feel cold when I use my ghost powers.”
“You’re not always using them?”
Danny opened his mouth and then closed it again with a slight frown. “Yeah, I guess I am,” he replied slowly. When he was in ghost mode, he really was always using his powers…or almost always in any case. It just came so naturally to him.
“Hmm. Cold, you say,” Bod muttered, putting his hands down to his sides and rubbing his fingers together. Danny had come to learn that he did this when he was thinking.
“Cold…but I never feel cold…do I? Is this completely different? Or have I completely missed something without realizing it?”
“Do you often talk to yourself?” Danny asked dryly.
Bod paused and glanced over at him, blinking for a moment as if realizing the white-haired boy hadn’t left. Then he shrugged. “Yeah. I don’t tend to have many other people to talk to.”
“Oh,” Danny said softly, frowning again. Not having anyone…that was just sad. He couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for the other teen.
“I need to think on this,” Bod said suddenly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, same time and place.”
“If another ghost doesn’t get in my way,” Danny muttered in annoyance.
Bod hummed dismissively, obviously too distracted to really give what Danny said any real thought. The half-ghost couldn’t bring himself to feel too offended as Bod had obviously listened to what he’d said before.
Danny rolled his eyes again and floated away, back towards his home. As he did so, he took out his cell phone and dialed Sam. He hadn’t told them he was meeting someone else to learn more ghost powers. They’d get too over protective and insist on coming along and probably scare Bod away (he didn’t seem to like people consciously knowing about him, and Danny had picked up on that almost immediately). He’d have to apologize for ditching them three days in a row…
“I figured it out,” Bod said the next day as Danny landed in front of him.
“Hello to you too,” Danny muttered, although again, he couldn’t bring his words to have any real bite to them.
The half-ghost blinked. He never could follow this kid’s train of thought. He had the most focused, one-track mind of anyone Danny had ever met (and that included Jazz). Danny tended to be a bit more scatter-brained and followed tangents easily.
“Of course I am,” Danny affirmed confidently, and then paused. “About what?”
The corner of Bod’s mouth twitched up in a smile that bordered on a smirk. “About the cold. I’d never noticed it before, but whenever I use Fade or Dreamwalking or Fear Raising, I feel colder. The change is so minute I can hardly feel it, but it is there. Observe:”
And with that, he closed his eyes and to Danny’s surprise, began to fade from view, but not like he normally did. Danny could still tell he was there, and could still partially see him.
He couldn’t help but smile. “You did it!”
Bod opened his eyes and smiled. “It is very tiring, but I believe that with some practice I can indeed turn invisible. It will be immensely helpful with my Fade ability.”
“What do you mean?” Danny asked. “I thought you used Fade instead of Invisibility.”
“Yes,” Bod nodded. “But to instigate Fade, their eye contact must be broken. Usually this is caused by a distraction, but the tactic will not work every time. Some people simply cannot be distracted.” His voice took on the wistful tone that it usually got when Danny suspected Bod was remembering something and the dark-haired boy shuddered.
Danny couldn’t help but wonder what the other teen had gone through to have a reaction like that.
Then he shoved the information away for later contemplation.
“And if you can use Fade and Invisibility at the same time…” Danny said, catching onto Bod’s line of thought.
“You will be practically undetectable,” Bod finished with a grin that Danny simply had to return. He was really beginning to like the ideas of what he could do with all of this…if he could actually learn it.
His smile fell suddenly at the thought and Bod must have noticed.
“I have also rethought how you may use Fade.” Danny glanced back at the other boy, perking up despite himself.
Bod nodded. “Yes. Firstly, I believe you may be trying to use too much power.”
Danny frowned. “What do you mean?”
“You told me your ability to turn invisible is easy and practically second nature to you, and yet it almost drains me. Fade, however, is one of the most basic abilities I claim to know. I have to have used it for a great deal of time before it begins to tire me out. Thus I came to the conclusion that you may, perhaps, be using too much power.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Danny muttered thoughtfully.
“And I also believe that your line of thinking will never be able to accomplish convincing you that you do not exist. So I recommend you think of yourself existing as your surroundings. You become apart of it, whether it be a wall, or the street, or the air itself. You exist, but only as that element.” He paused, glancing over at Danny. “Do I make sense?”
“Yeah,” Danny replied slowly. “Yeah, you do…” He couldn’t think of not being able to leave his mark on the world. It just…didn’t make sense to him. The idea that he wouldn’t be able to scared him, although he would never admit it aloud. Existing as something else though? That was a different story. He could do that temporarily.
By the time they went their separate ways that night, Danny couldn’t help the grin that spread from ear to ear all the way home. He hadn’t been able to fade as completely as Bod, but he had made progress. He didn’t know how long it would take to master the new ability fully, let alone combine it with Invisibility as Bod had suggested, but he was learning something that could be very useful in the future, and what was better, it expended so little power that he could use it while in human form. He’d be able to escape from Dash without using any obvious ghost powers, it would be easier to hide from really powerful ghosts like Skulker and Vlad…really the possibilities were almost endless.
Right about then was when he decided that he actually liked Nobody Owens. Without even realizing it, he’d come to trust the other boy.
At that thought, Danny froze in mid-air and smacked his forehead. Great. He still had no idea if Bod was a threat or not.
He stayed in the air thinking for several seconds and finally came to a conclusion: he’d have to introduce Bod to Sam, Tucker and Jazz and see what they thought.