Of Kindness and Empathy 6
First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, AO3
Danny had been having a good day.
It had been two weeks since he’d returned to Amity, and his parents were actually calmed down a little from the experiments. Some reporter had dropped by from Metropolis, of all places, and somehow made them see that Ghosts were not only sapient, but had their own culture and hierarchy.
Danny did not ask what the reporter lady had said to them, but when Tucker had asked his dad had gotten a haunted look in his eye and just. Shut down, for a bit.
Even his mom looked ashamed, and ever so slightly traumatized.
Jazz told him and Sam and Tucker that she hadn’t heard everything, but that the reporter had torn them a new one for so long it was sunset by the time their dad distracted the lady with the portal.
She’d gotten there at lunch.
Newspapers were the newest addition to the list of things banned from the house.
So instead of running from his parents shooting at him, he was instead running from them holding notepads and asking him cultural questions about Ghost society.
Which would have been great, if Danny knew much about Ghost society, but Danny did not know much about that culture.
He was incredibly tempted to get one of the eyeball ancients and sic his parents on them.
Or maybe sic them on Tucker, for how weird he was being.
His best friend had been stand-offish for a couple of days before coming back with an almost smothering vengeance, quoting books written by politicians for whatever reason.
Then, there was the fact that Tucker kept looking like he knew something, constantly staring at his phone and making Phantom pose for shoots, but he refused to say what.
“It’ll be funnier,” was all the techie kept saying, hiding behind his phone screen.
Danny didn’t think Jazz or Sam were in on it, they looked about as confused as he did. Jazz saying she was writing her entry essays to different universities, and Sam going on a tangent about how social media was a parasite on the human brain.
It had been just that morning that she and Tucker had been wrestling for Tucker’s phone.
Currently, however, his parents were duking it out with the GIW (and wasn’t that wild?) and the rest of the GIW unit that was not fighting them was chasing him down.
Their weapons were new, brutal, and they were operating like this was a kill mission. There was no regard for civilians, no signs that they were trying to hold back. They’d shot him with a tracker chip that burned and hadn’t stopped chasing him since.
Huntress was preoccupied; a family reunion four states away, so no help from there.
Sam and Tucker and the Phantom Phan Club were trying their best to distract the GIW, but after the bastards had dumped specialized pepper spray on them Danny had resorted to leading them away.
He really hoped that there wouldn’t be any permanent side effects from that; it’d had a strange green glow mixed in. If something had happened to his friends, he’d never forgive himself. He just needed to get away long enough to get the tracker out, and he’d double back to make sure they were okay.
But he’d been flying for so long, and he’d already been shot more than a few times.
This was…not going well.
He needed help.
He hated asking for it.
He had no choice.
The phone was slick with his own blood as he pressed the speed dial to get Mr. Wayne.
“Phantom?” Ah, that was his Batman voice. Whoops. Oh well.
“Hey Batman, I think I messed up,” Danny started breathlessly, almost losing altitude before putting on another burst of speed, “GIW tracked me down mid rounds and uh, I wasn’t vigilant enough.”
“Are you injured?”
Danny winced, lifting his free hand away from his new set of holes. Hmmmm. Yup. That was ‘you should probably get stitches’ levels of blood.
“...Yes. I think I’ve been shot three-” Danny let out a sharp yelp as another shot managed to hit, dropping a good fifty feet before rising again, “-Four. Four times. They can track me when I phase, they shot a tracker in me. It’s…moving. I can feel it. I can’t hide. I don’t know what to do.”
The last bit felt like it was being physically ripped out of him. He hated, despised, being forced to admit a weakness like that.
“...Help is on the way, keep your phone on you. I’m sending Superman. Keep talking to me.”
“Wait, you’re sending who-?”
Danny cut himself off and dodged another shot, careful to keep the phone in his hand and not crush it.
“Phantom, come in. Are you there?”
“Yes! Yes, I’m here. Sorry. Didn’t want to get shot again, I can only make so much blood.”
“ETA One minute. Stay with me. You lied about the King of the Infinite Realms, why? Are you afraid of him?”
Danny dodged yet another shot, sure he’d misheard.
“I…didn’t? Unless I misunderstood who the King is.”
He heard Batman say…something, but the glowing cord wrapping around his ankle and slamming him into the ground with enough force to cause a crater provided a slight distraction from the elder hero’s answer.
Shit. The phone was definitely broken.
Danny pushed himself up on shaky arms and forced himself to roll over, watching the government agents swarm around him.
He didn’t have the energy to phase anymore; everything he had was going towards keeping his ghost form up.
Damn. He’d managed a good run, though. And at least the official, recognized hero’s knew he wasn’t a bad guy.
The cord was cutting into him, and really? Exactly how much blood did they think he had?
But he guessed that was the point of catching him.
To find out.
Danny was blissfully unaware of the drone that Dash had managed to cobble together with the science club recording and broadcasting everything to the world.
Blissfully unaware that due to that story in the Daily Planet that not only was Phantom a renowned hero, but had many fans throughout the world.
Blissfully unaware that for the upteenth time, Bruce was watching another kid under his watch dance with death through that same feed.
The watchers cried out at the injustice of what they saw.
And Superman answered their cries.
Superman landed in front of Danny, tanking the shots meant for him and suffering no damage for it. After all, those weapons were specifically meant for ghosts; any other species wouldn’t be hurt by them unless the setting was changed. Which, for the purposes of the hunt, they weren’t.
Superboy landed at Danny’s side, scooping him up into a bridal carry and breaking the cord with one hand.
Superman turned his head and gave Superboy one nod, glancing up at the sky. At the Watchtower, home to their best medical equipment.
Superboy returned the gesture, and shot upwards, away from the Hell he knew Superman was about to rain down beneath him. He’d never seen his progenitor so livid, and he did not want to stick around to find out what would happen.
Superman turned back towards the GIW, eyes a glittering red.
That had been a child. A kid. A young Meta or Alien doing his best to protect and serve, and these people had been legalizing hunting him for sport.
The folks at the Watchtower would take care of the boy.
All he had to do was make sure that their weapons couldn’t be used against a literal child again, right?
The feed from the drone cut off in a flash of red.
Flash had been relaxing at the Watchtower-
Flash had definitely been doing serious business in a serious way at their space headquarters.
Yes, that was a better way to word that. If Batman found out that his super secret space headquarters was being used as a vacation home instead of for serious business, the man would lose his mind.
Barry narrowed his eyes at his reflection in the glass and took a long, slow sip out of his smoothie.
If he channeled it, maybe the security feeds would portray it-
-that was Superboy, wasn’t it?
Flash turned to look just as the kid sped past him and towards the medbay, someone in his arms.
Frowning, the speedster started for the medbay as well, but froze as a loud squeaking noise came from his foot.
“Please don’t be what I think you are,” the hero breathed, looking down to see what he had stepped on.
It was what he thought it was.
Throughout the hallway was a spattered trail of green blood, quickly turning red. Some of the civilian workers met his eyes, shock written on their faces.
The smoothie hit the ground as Flash raced to the medbay, desperate to see which one of them had gotten so drastically injured.
He made it in time to see a flash of white light as Superboy laid the unknown on the gurney and stepped back, and…Flash had no idea who that kid was.
It was not as comforting a thought as he wished.
“Come on Kon, let’s back off so the doctors can get to work.” He gently herded the young Super away from his…friend? Maybe? And said doctors converged on the new kid.
Kon just stepped away from him and almost ripped his own suit in his haste to get his phone out of his pocket.
Flash didn’t even bother to hide that he was listening in as he followed the kid out of the operating room.
“Tim, we got him here.”
Oh, so it was Red Robin’s friend.
“I don’t know what Clark is doing, and I didn’t stick around to find out. He was pissed.”
Flash glanced through the window in the doorway, at the kid currently being stitched together.
Yeah, he could see that.
“He uh…made a small explosion of light and looked human. Is that normal?”
Flash had a disturbing intrusive thought.
What if he wasn’t Red Robin’s friend and was another one of Batman’s-?
“Yeah, they’re treating him now. I’ll let you know-what? No, you don’t need to come here. No. Well, yes, technically, but-”
Kon sighed and tugged his phone away from his ear. The call was disconnected.
Then he turned and asked the last thing Flash had expected to hear.
“Do you know Constantine’s number?”
John Constantine had done a lot of stupid shit in his life.
Selling pieces of his soul, dating people of questionable morals, drinking, smoking, blood rituals-he’d done things. Stupid, idiotic things.
But he could take a small sliver of comfort that he had never made a mistake on the level of which the American government just had.
They’d seriously injured a denizen of the Infinite Realms.
Normally that wouldn’t have mattered that much; Pariah Dark was known not to give too many shits about his subjects individually, and John had been informed that the big bastard was locked in eternal slumber anyways, so his lust for battle was a problem for those in the past.
But the new King, the one Lois Lane had managed to learn about?
That King sounded like someone who cared.
That was new.
That was dangerous.
So when he got a call from Superboy asking if he knew how to treat a being from the Infinite Realms?
John almost messed up his teleportation spell in his rush to get there.
From what Batman had said, this kid was one of the few, if only, Spirits willing to talk things out and seek peaceful solutions.
Maybe his assumption that they had been courting an interdimensional war had been off mark before, but if this kid died there was a very good chance that he wouldn’t be off mark anymore.
The leak into the Realms was in the kids hometown, yeah? The kid was the one going toe to toe with multiple Entities, some of which John Did Not Want To Think About. The little Phantom kept winning those fights.
That meant in Realms culture he was at least incredibly respected.
At max, the result John really hoped wasn’t the case, it meant that the kid was an unknowing ambassador.
That the American government had just gunned down.
John prayed he was wrong.
He knew he wasn’t.
He shoved past Superboy and Flash, ignored their protests, and stomped into the operating room.
A spell on his fingertips and leaving his lips, he got ready to get as much of a read on the kid’s stability as a Spirit as he could.
None of the doctors were reacting to it.
No one else could see it.
Why did this child have the crown?
“No,” John breathed in horror, just as the heart monitor flat-lined.
Superman was…not sure how to proceed.
He’d destroyed the vehicles, the weapons, beaten the Agents black and blue, but this?
This was a little bit outside of his jurisdiction.
The entire town of Amity Park was gone.
There was a crater where it had been.
It wasn’t a smoking crater, there was no real sign of destruction. The ground around it wasn’t turned up from an impact, the trees weren’t blown down.
It was like someone had reached down and just…scooped the town out of existence.
“Batman, we…have a bit of a problem,” he sighed, opting to ask the detective what was going on.
There was no response.
Not even static.
“Now isn’t a good time Superman.”
“Nightwing? What’s wrong?”
Clark frowned, but obeyed. He felt like he really was not going to like where this was going.
Nevertheless, he floated to the ground and sat back on the grass.
“Okay, I’m sitting.”
He heard Nightwing take a deep breath.
“Daniel-the kid?-just flatlined. They’re trying to bring him back at the medbay.”
His ears started ringing.
“I’m sorry, Clark.”
Nightwing sounded choked up.
Superman didn’t remember taking the comm out of his ear.
He’d been too slow.
A child had been murdered in front of him.
A town had been stolen while he’d been distracted.
He needed a moment.
He just needed to think.
“Hey old man!”
-was mildly offended.
“Excuse me?” Clark turned his head to glare at…another version of the kid he’d just rescued?
Failed to rescue. The boy was dead and there wasn’t anything-
“Yeah, you! Where’s my brother? And the town too, I guess.”
Dani had been trying to get back to Amity before her stupid brother managed to get caught by the GIW. She wasn’t sure why he didn’t just phase away, but they’d probably done something to him.
Now this sad superhero old guy was harshing her vibe.
Also the city was gone, which like, what was with that? Probably just Ghost Zone shenanigans.
Oh right, the old dude was saying stuff.
“-We’re trying to resuscitate him, but-”
Ohhhhh, she’d made him mad. Good. That was better than the sad sack she’d just been forced to deal with.
“We’re dead, duh. We don’t have pulses normally, he’s probably just healing himself.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, full of doubt. Rude. She hadn’t done anything to warrant such mistrust.
“Look, I’ll prove it,” she said, and casually stopped her heart and breathing. She’d only kept it up because Danny had asked her to anyway.
Oh wow, this guy had superspeed? She barely even saw his hand snap out to grab the hearing aide.
“He isn’t dead!” The old guy shouted. Oh, that was like, a communication device or something. Bluetooth, then. Wait, didn’t she just tell him that Danny very much was dead? Talk about selective hearing.
“Clark I don’t know how to tell you what a lack of pulse means-”
“It’s a species thing, he’s healing himself! He doesn’t normally have a heartbeat!”
She could mark the underwear man as rude as well then, interrupting Nice Voice like that. She’d have to get him hearing aides as a gift or something. Help an old man out.
There was more talking on the other side of the line, but she elected to ignore it. It wasn’t important anymore.
Danny was fine, he’d been saved by a bunch of old people. He just needed to sleep for a bit.
Which meant that until he came back, the town was her responsibility.
The old man clearly didn’t know what had happened to it.
Which meant this was a job for super ultra detective Dani.
She would so nail this case on the head.
She floated down the crater, to the bottom and stuck her finger in some dirt.
She’d seen this in movies, so it would totally work.
She then stuck her finger in her mouth.
And spit it back out.
That was disgusting. Movies were dumb. Sam was right, they were just mind-control for the masses.
Dani screeched and almost jumped out of her skin, flickering in and out of invisibility.
The old man was behind her, looking a lot happier and genuinely curious if she’d found out anything.
Well well well, a fan?
She could work with that.
“Well, in my personal superior knowledge, I’d say that the town was taken into the Ghost Zone.” Dani crossed her arms and nodded. Yes, that was definitely what happened, no doubts. The how and why, who knew?
“Hmmm. And do you know how to get the town back?”
“Nope,” she answered, popping the “p”, “they should be fine though, they’re used to this. It’ll pop back up eventually.”
The man nodded, glancing around the crater.
“Well, if all we’re doing is waiting for your brother to get better and for the town to reappear, how do you feel about homemade pie? I’m hearing my Ma say she just finished one apple and one blueberry.”
Oh fuck yes she was all about pie.
In the medbay John Constantine had one hand in a tear in reality and the other feeding its essence into the boy.
The kid was a spirit, of course he didn’t need a pulse, that was probably just him tapping out to sleep. Of course, no one listened when John said it; Superman had to be the one to relay that news. Then it was all arse-kissing and bending backwards, ‘oh no Mr. Superman, we’re so sorry Mr. Superman, we’ll get right to work Mr. Superman’ and so on.
It was fine.
John didn’t need them. He’d helped himself often enough that firstaide wasn’t exactly foreign to him.
The state of the Little King’s stitches were a bit ragged, given that the doctors had stopped once he’d been declared dead and John had stepped in to take over that.
Hopefully he hadn’t fucked it up too badly and the kid had a normal healing factor for Spirits.
Other than that, John had effectively taken over the operating room.
There was a sigil drawn in blood on the floor, just under himself and the King. This was what was powering his little tear in reality, and unfortunately also what was shorting out most electrical equipment in the room.
It felt like there were eyes on the other side, watching his every move, feeding him the energy he needed to give to the boy. Nothing attacked his hand, nothing bit it.
The Realms, or its denizens watching him through that crack, knew he was helping.
John was so lost in concentration that the feeling of ice cold fingers wrapping around his wrist that very much was not in the reality tear made him let out a small shriek, ripping said hand away and clutching at his own chest.
Bright blue-green eyes stared back at him in confusion and concern.
Once the fright was over John couldn’t hold back anymore.
This kid was royalty. Where were his bodyguards? Why was he in the Mortal planes when it was so dangerous? Why were teenagers like this?
So he said the only thing he really could, given the situation.
“What the bloody hell were you thinking?!”