The Five Freedoms
Dannymay Day 17: Freedom
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. ~ Franklin D Roosevelt, State of the Union, 1941.
Freedom of Speech
"Very good, Danny, you really seem to understand the material,” Mr. Lancer said with a nod as they finished the oral test. He scribbled down a few things on a piece of paper before handing it to Danny, smiling. “Congrats, I’m awarding you an A on your very last test in my classroom.”
“Mr. Lancer, I don’t want you cutting corners for me,” Danny began to protest even if his heart clenched in joy seeing the big red A at the top of the page.
“I think you know by now I don’t hand out unearned grades,” Lancer said with an unamused eyebrow raised. “You’re very bright Danny, your past school difficulties were from a lack of sleep, study time, overwhelming stress and simply not being able to attend class for justifiable reasons. All I’ve done is given you the resources to prosper, giving make-ups, allowing you to do homework in and after class, oral tests. You’re the one who’s put in all the hard work. You wouldn’t have earned this without serious effort.”
“Thanks,” Danny blushed, leaning down to tuck away his grade into his bag. “Really, thank you for everything. I never, I never liked failing back in Freshman year but the things you’ve done. I’m actually going to graduate high school, there was a time when I really thought I wouldn’t.”
“Well, knowing the reason for your constant tardiness and excuses certainly helped,” Lancer frowned. “I’m afraid I can’t help you more with the ghost issue, the least I could do was see our town hero educated. When you walk across that stage this Friday, you will have earned it, perhaps more than anyone else there.”
“It helps that the ghost problem has lightened up somewhat,” Danny chuckled, moving to grab his bag. “Are you still coming next week? It’s Saturday so after graduation and I guess I won’t be your student anymore so you really don’t-”
“Danny,” Lancer asked quietly, leaning up against his desk with a contemplative look. “Are you sure you want to go through with this? I want you to be honest, son. This is a safe space, I want you to be free to speak your mind.”
“I mean, I kind of don’t have a choice,” Danny mumbled a little bit but cleared his throat when he saw Lancer’s deepening frown. “B-but I probably could refuse the Crown, if I wanted to or even delay taking it. I-” he paused, looking for the words. “I’m scared, that I won’t be a good king. I’m 18, I’ve seen and done a lot but that doesn’t mean I know how to lead and heal an entire dimension. I want this, my ghost half wants to protect and my human half wants to fix and this is something I think only I can do. But it doesn’t make it any less... daunting.”
“Daunting is an appropriate word,” Lancer hummed. “It’s also not a word Danny Fenton, age 14 would have used. Danny who used to snap at well-meaning teachers and occasionally used his powers for selfish purposes. But that boy grew up and grew up well. I have every faith that you will be an excellent ruler.”
“Thanks,” Danny blushed again, brushing back his hair. The bell rang, signaling the end of study hall which is when Danny caught up on missed tests or assignments. “I uh I gotta go.”
“Yes, the lunch hall awaits, enjoy the cafeteria slop,” Lancer stepped towards the door but didn’t open it. “I just want you to know you have a choice, Danny. If this is really what you want then I’ll respect it but, student or sovereign, my door is always open.” He opened the door and gave a comical little bow, “after you, your eminence.”
“Save it for Saturday, old man,” Danny laughed as he exited the classroom for what may be the last time. It stung in a bittersweet way but it was soothed by the notion that he would be welcomed back with open arms whenever he needed a listening ear and a friend.
Freedom of Worship
“I aced it,” Danny announced proudly as he sat down for lunch with Sam and Tucker.
“Way to go dude, that should push your final grade into the 90s and raise your overall GPA.” Tucker exclaimed, looking up from his laptop with a smile smile.
“Knew you could do it,” Sam grinned and elbowed him in the side. “I told you reciting poetry during patrol would be a good idea. Studying and making your future subjects think you’re super wise and powerful instead of some dweeb.”
“Excuse me, your boyfriend does happen to be super wise and powerful,” Danny flirted lightly, leaning closer to his girlfriend’s face. Her expression was flat but he could see the smile pulling at her lips.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” she countered, pulling away to go back to her salad. “So is everything ready for the big day? Both of them?”
“Think so,” Danny said around his sandwich. “Graduation is Friday and you know all that prep work is done for that. As for Saturday, we just need to be at my uh castle by 9am to get things rolling. I do the final walkthrough tonight with Frostbite and Fright Knight so I should be good.”
“Another walkthrough?” Tuck asked, “haven’t you done like, two already?”
“I fumbled through the first one,” Danny mumbled, embarrassed. “I was super nervous and missed, like, all my cues and lines. The second went better but I was stressed with finals so I kind of raced through it. I need to get it right this time.”
“You will,” Sam said softly, setting her hand on top of his. “This is new for everyone, no one expects you to be perfect right away. Sometimes you take a little longer but you always get there in the end. They wouldn’t be taking the time to help, to ask you to be their king, if they didn’t think you could do it.” She raised his hand to her lips and kissed it gently. “And we all believe in you, so what if you stutter through some words? Doesn’t mean you won’t be a great king.”
“So uh,” Tucker interrupted with a knowing smile. “Are we going to have a wedding on Sunday after the graduation and coronation?” Sam and Danny jolted apart; Sam playing with her hair while Danny shoved more food in his mouth. They were both blushing heartily.
“Don’t joke around, Tucker,” Sam growled though the effect was dimmed by the bright blush on her face. “We’re not ready for that, we don’t even know if we’re even going to reach that point.”
“So Danny’s old enough to become king of an entire pocket dimension of dead people but not ready to marry his high school sweetheart?” Tuck teased, laughing as Sam threw an orange slice at him.
“Obviously, I mean look at him,” Sam said, gesturing at Danny who had a piece of lettuce sticking out of his mouth as he chewed. “This man is ready to lead a country but he still can’t put away his laundry.”
“Why would I put it away when I’m going to wear it?” Danny countered, “it seems a waste of time to put it away if I’m just going to pull it out again.”
“Clueless,” Tucker said, shaking his head but soon they all were laughing and Danny felt buoyed by the lightness of their belief in him.
Freedom From Want
“Val, you never got back to me about Saturday.” Danny said, cornering his friend outside of City Hall where she worked as an intern during afternoon classes.
“I said I would get back to you once I knew what was happening after graduation. My dad was hinting about a possible trip,” she said walking by Danny but slow enough for him to catch up. “Don’t you have that rehearsal today?”
“It’s not until tonight,” he shrugged, following her. “Surely he would understand if you needed a few hours to attend your friend’s coronation,” Danny joked to cover up some of the hurt. “Val, if you really don’t want to go just let me-”
“I do,” Val interrupted, “You’re my friend, Danny, one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I want to be there, I want to support you I just... you know I’m still angry you have to do this at all.”
“And I keep telling you, I don’t have to do anything, this is my decision. I want to take the crown and be king,” he explained for what felt like the millionth time.
“No, you wanted to be an astronaut,” Val frowned. “Before all this ghost crap, you were studying your ass off to get into the space program and now you’re going to do online community college when you have the grades to go to NASA.”
“If I recall during Freshman year you said you wanted to be a fashion vlogger and now you’re going to study law,” Danny said with an eyeroll. He looked up at the sky, the stars wouldn’t be out for a while but he could see the ghost of the moon hanging there. “Do I still wish I could be an astronaut? Sometimes, yeah but things have changed, Val and it’s not all bad.” He stepped in front of her so he could look at her properly, he let his eyes flare for effect. “I like my powers, I like helping people and while I’m stressed and nervous about everything, I want to do this.”
“Is that Danny or the ghost talking?” Valerie grumbled.
“Both, neither, ugh it’s just me,” Danny sighed. “I know I say I’m half ghost but it’s one whole just like your suit is just another part of you, not a separate person.”
“You know once you put that crown on, there’s no going back,” she said sternly. “No backing out, no changing your mind; you’ll be stuck as the king of a bunch of unruly, aggressive ghosts until the day you die and possibly even after.” Her hard expression softened and she looked away. “I don’t want to be a downer, rain on your parade, I’m just worried is all. It’s why, I don’t know if I can go on Saturday.”
Danny sighed but it was fond as he looked at his friend. Val didn’t operate on the near identical wavelength he did with Sam and Tuck. She always was a bit antagonistic, always pushing things but it always offered a fresh perspective. As much as her hesitancy pained him, he knew she did it because she cared.
“I know, believe me,” he chuckled, stepping closer. “I didn’t come to this decision overnight. You know how I agonized, it took me almost 2 months to make the call and you were there for me every step of the way. You’re gonna be a kickass lawyer, Valerie and I’m gonna rule the Ghost Zone. We’ll make it work, like we always have. There’s nothing the ghost hunting duo, Phantom Hunter can’t accomplish.”
“Stop trying to make that name a thing,” she said with a laugh. “Alright, okay I’ll go and watch them put a fancy crown on your stupid head.” Her lids lowered in conspiracy, “and if you get bored with the whole king thing, I’ll be there to break your shackles.”
“I’ll have you on speed dial,” he grinned, taking a quick look around before transforming. “Come on, race you to the ice cream parlor.” He said before speeding off. He grinned when he heard the sound of a hoverboard closing in on him moments later.
Freedom from Fear
“I’m home! Sorry I’m late, Val and I got ice cream and then Boxy showed up for a bit of chase,” he said, shrugging off his bag. “I swear, I’ve had more ghosts show up to fight the last two weeks than I have the last six months. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were feeling nostalgic before I’m like, their boss or whatever.”
“It could be,” Jazz said from the kitchen, lightly looking through her book. Her second year of college had ended so she was back home for a few weeks before heading to an internship. He’d missed having her around. “Ghosts are basically a collection of emotion and memory, they don’t process things like humans do. They know things will change Saturday so they’re indulging in one last tussle.” She looked at him critically over her book. “They haven’t been hurting you, have they?”
“Nah,” Danny laughed, reaching into the fridge for a soda. “They haven’t been able to do that for a while, it’s just kind of annoying.”
“There isn’t a ghost alive that can take down a ghost hunting Fenton!” Dad said, swooping into the kitchen and slapping Danny’s back so hard, he choked on his soda. “Well I guess they’re not really alive but you know what I mean. How was school, Danno? Trudging through that last week alright?”
“Yeah,” Danny wheezed as he struggled to get soda out of his lungs. “Aced Lancer’s poetry final so that’s it for school work. Really all I have to do now is walk.” Dad beamed and pulled him close and Danny leaned into the warm, comforting weight.
“That’s great, my boy! I always liked that Lancer fellow, from the moment I met him. I told your mother, ‘now that man is a good teacher who’s going to do wonders for our brilliant boy.’”
“Actually,” Danny laughed, making no move to leave his dad’s embrace. “The first time you met him technically I was overshadowing you. After that it was at Fall Formal when you demanded to know why he was talking to Mom.”
“Hmm, I don’t remember that,” Dad said thoughtfully.
“That’s probably because I overshadowed you again immediately after,” Danny grinned, laughing as his Dad began playfully ruffling his hair.
“Oh so my boy thinks he’s big enough to take on his old man? Got his cool ghost powers, gonna be ghost king? Well Jack Fenton can take care of any ghost, I’ll show you who’s boss, Ghost Kid!” Back when Danny was scared and alone, the idea of his Dad grabbing him like this would have terrified him. Now Danny can only laugh as his father hoisted him from the ground and spun him around like he did when Danny was little.
If there was anything Danny wished he could convey to his younger self it was that there was never anything to fear. Yes, the road getting here was bumpy and everything did change with his reveal. But his parents love for him never stopped, only got stronger without secrets and fear between them. He heard his Dad grunt in pain and Danny automatically lightened his weight.
“Going easy on the geezer, huh?” Dad said breathlessly as he dropped his arms to grab at his back. Danny stayed floating in the air for a moment before settling back down on the ground. “Ooof probably a good idea, my back isn’t what it used to be. A little of that ghost ice please, son?”
Danny set his hand on his Dad’s lower back, cooling it and smiling at his sigh of relief. He made eye contact with Jazz who rolled her eyes fondly.
“Dad, if you just acted your age for once, your back wouldn’t be hurting. Danny’s almost as tall as you are, you shouldn’t be tossing him around,” Jazz lectured but she was smiling too.
“Well,” Dad groaned as he set himself slowly into one of the chairs. “You’re not too big to toss around, young lady.” He grinned, reaching over with one hand to tickle under her chin. She squealed and drew back, propping up her books between them which Dad playfully knocked over.
“Danny,” he looked up from his sister and Dad’s escalating war with her textbooks to see his mom frowning at the clock on the wall. “You should probably get going if you’re going to make that meeting. It’s over a half hour to fly there,” Danny hissed when he saw the time and chugged the rest of his soda before speeding for the basement steps.
“Sorry lost track of time, I should be back before midnight. I’ll knock on your door like I usually do when I’m home.”
“Do you want us to come with, baby?” She asked quietly. Like Val, she had doubts on him becoming king but was doing her best to be supportive of his decisions. Her fussing though just made him feel more loved. “We can take the speeder and get the lay of the land before-”
“Mom, it’s fine,” he walked past her, kissing her cheek before opening the door. “It’s pretty dull and I don’t want to spoil what surprises there are before Saturday. Besides, I’ve got nothing to fear. I’ll see you guys later.”
“Alright sweetie, I love you.”
plus Freedom of Choice
“Very good, very good!” Frostbite praised when Danny finished reading through his lines. “Most excellent, Great One, your subjects will be most pleased by your performance and feel honored to call you their sovereign.”
“Oh uh, thanks,” Danny said, adjusting the weight of the fake ice crown on his head. He wouldn’t actually get the real Crown until his coronation where he’s told the Crown of Fire will convert to the Crown of Ice based on his core. The fake was just a placeholder but it already felt heavy, he wondered how the real Crown will feel.
“It will do, I suppose,” Fright Knight said, ever the downer. “I still say you need to add more of a menace to your tone, you need to command their attention and loyalty. They should be on their knees from the sheer force of your presence.”
“Dude, we talked about this,” Danny sighed, still playing with the crown. “I’m not going to be a king like Pariah. I want them to trust me, not out of fear but because, I don’t know, they like me.”
“Most unusual,” Fright Knight scoffed before stalking off into the depths of the castle he would soon haunt. Danny thought it was excessive to build a whole castle just for him but some traditions even he couldn’t break.
“Don’t listen to him,” Frostbite reassured him, patting the long snow stitched cape that covered Danny’s shoulder. “He doesn’t yet know the kindness of a benevolent ruler, he’ll come around. Now, I believe it is late in your world. You should head back and get some rest.”
“I will,” Danny mumbled, suddenly feeling very small in the cavernous throne room. “Can I uh, can I have a minute alone. You know, to process?”
“Of course,” Frostbite said genially. Danny couldn’t help the little wince when his friend bowed before leaving. Would all of his ghost friends bow to him now? He knew things would be different, being king but now with the date fast approaching and a fake crown on his head, it all felt too much.
He wandered over to a small window, looking over his soon to be kingdom with nerves bubbling up in him. The weight of a medallion around his neck only came as a little bit of surprise as time slowed to a stop.
“Hey there, just stopping by?” He teased, not looking away from the window.
“Your puns get worse as you age,” Clockwork said softly, floating next to Danny. “You look very regal, very different from the first time. I’m glad this is the timeline that came to pass.”
“Because you made it that way?” Danny couldn’t help but say with a touch of bitterness.
“Because you chose it,” Clockwork responded evenly. “Tell me, Danny, do you wish to forsake your claim? You still have time to back out.” Danny sat there quietly, twisting the question over in his mind.
“No,” he said finally after a minute or two. “No, this is where I’m meant to be, it’s what both halves of me want. If I tried to leave, if I did something else, I’d just feel like I messed up. Like I missed the opportunity to do the most good for me and the world.”
“Then what concerns you?” Clockwork asked.
“I mean just because this feels right doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing. The Ancients have been giving me a crash course in Ghost Politics and I’ve talked to all the major areas of the Zone for culture and Lancer really helped me understand morality and the human condition and what not... but will any of that help me rule?”
“Hmm, it’s a good question,” Clock work said in that infuriatingly calm voice as he moved to Danny’s other side and gestured out the window. “Do you want to know what I see in your future?”
“Yes,” Danny gasped, turning wide eyed to the Master of Time.
“I see successes and failures,” Clockwork intoned. “I see joy and grief, mistakes made, lessons learned and victories won. I see a young man who I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow up, be a kind and generous king to human and ghost alike. Who uses his knowledge of both worlds to seek peace and harmony. Not everything will be perfect and he will have regret and sorrow weighing on his heart at times, but overall he will leave the throne better than when he claimed it.”
“That’s awfully vague,” Danny said, wrinkling his nose. Clockwork chuckled beside him.
“Of course, I can’t see your future Danny because you’re actively creating it right now with every breath. But I know you as I have known many kings and queens in the past. And I know that you have the strength of heart, mind and will to be a most magnificent ruler.”
“Hmph,” Danny snorted, leaning out the window a bit to look at the beautiful swirls of his kingdom. It wasn’t the stars but there was a certain freedom in this too, the chance to reach his highest potential on his own terms. The chance to fully be himself, both human and ghost. “So I guess you weren’t really trying to off me back when my jerky older self was causing problems.”
“I would have if that future had any chance of coming to fruition,” Clockwork said honestly. “But this future burned so much brighter not because of anything as fanciful as fate but because you’re a good person Danny. No matter how it happened, you were always going to end up here.” He patted Danny’s head and readjusted the fake crown until it sat perfectly balanced.
“Now then, the hour is late and you have loved ones waiting for your return. Your kingdom can wait a while longer, enjoy your last few days of freedom.” The Master of Time stepped back and Danny followed.
“Who’s to say this isn’t my freedom?” Danny asked with a wry smile, winking a little at his guardian and friend. “I’m going to live a long life fixing up the Zone and repairing relations with the living. I can only do that with the support of my family and friends, human and ghost. With them at my side, not even the stars matter. The Crown of Ice and the Ring of Peace aren’t my prison, they’re my salvation.”
“Then you have nothing to worry about, My Lord.” Clockwork smiled, taking the medallion back and fading back out of the time stream. “I look forward to your long and prosperous reign.” Time restarted again and Danny let out a long breath, his shoulders relaxing for the first time since he got here.
He wandered back over to the window, his pretend crown still a noticeable weight on his head. In a few days, it would be real as would all the pressure and responsibility that came with it. But it also came the freedom to help make the world a better place.
Danny looked over at his future kingdom and felt nothing but peace and excitement for the future. He was exactly where he was supposed to be.