I have always been of the opinion that Jack is smarter than he appears in show. He's easily excitable, distracted and forgetful—but he's not stupid. Jack has feelings that can be hurt, and he cares very much for his family and friends. His relationship with Vlad has always been of interest to me, just because he's so gung-ho about Vlad being his best friend. When Vlad ran for mayor sticks out the most. Jack was just so over supportive I loved it.
Particularly because Vlad makes absolutely zero effort to hide that he dislikes Jack. At any point. He's very obvious about it—there's no way Jack hasn't noticed. Anyway, just wanted to write a little fic with Danny confronting his Father about that. :3
Characters: Jack Fenton, Danny Fenton and Vlad Masters.
Rating: PG for Alcohol references.
Summary: "Please tell me you noticed he did that on purpose." Danny confronts his father when Vlad's teasing goes a little too far in Jack's own home. His father's answer isn't quite what Danny was expecting. (No/Before "Phantom Planet")
Football and Father Son Talks
"Sorry Jack!" Vlad exclaimed, the fake sincerity dripping with so much vitriol that Danny had to roll his eyes. The man closed the freezer door, covering his grin with his mouth as he got a good look at his handy work: Jack Fenton rubbed his bruised nose, wincing from the impact of the door. Vlad cooed, "Didn't see you there!"
Considering Danny's father was the practically size of a small elephant, Danny doubted that.
"It's okay, V-Man!" Jack said, giving a thumbs up as Vlad overturned the ice tray he had retrieved, dumping the cubes into the beer bucket. Jack took the bucket from him and headed back to the couch. "Accidents happen!"
"Sure do," Danny said, glaring at Vlad. The rich man took a seat as far from Jack as possible on the couch, and crossed one leg over the other. The commercials blared loudly, and Danny contemplated kicking the back of Vlad's seat. "Especially when you're over."
Vlad pulled out a still warm beer with a smirk, ignoring Danny's comment. He popped the cap off using the edge of the metal bucket and took a long sip. Jack turned up the television when the game came back on, and for a while there was peace in the house with all three keeping their eyes on the game.
Danny pulled a foot up on his chair and sighed. At least it was a Packers game and Vlad's full attention was on the screen. Danny didn't think he could have handled Vlad causing Ghost trouble alongside teasing his dad. There were worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching the man who wanted to murder your dad share beers with your dad.
An hour or so later, Jack and Vlad both hollered in a cheer, leaping out of their seats when the Packers hit the scoring touchdown. Danny rolled his eyes, annoyed that Vlad's team won, but also happy and relieved his dad could be happy about something not Ghost related. Danny stretched, getting up from the kitchen chair he'd relocated to the living room behind the couch, and dragged it back over.
"What a game, right, V-Man!?" Jack exclaimed, smacking his buddy in the back. He fist-pumped the air, and laughed. "What a game!"
"I expected nothing less," Vlad said. He sat back on the couch, stretching out his spine and leaning into the worn seat before pulling out his cell phone. "They've been on point this season."
"This was fun, Vlady! You should come over to watch the game with me more often," Jack said, plopping back on the couch. His weight sent Vlad up in the air an inch before he came back down. Danny snickered as Vlad tried to shove his hair back down and keep in the urge to hit Danny's father. Ignorant of Vlad's irritation, Jack grinned over at Vlad. "You, me, Danny! We had a real boy's night here!"
Danny groaned in the back, wincing when Vlad smirked at him. The only reason he'd accepted this stupid invite in the first place was to pick on Jack and annoy Danny. It figured his dad would practically hand Vlad free range of the house when Mom and Jazz were off having some mother-daughter bonding. At least Vlad had contained his evil to the bare minimums.
"We'll see," Vlad said, clicking his phone closed. "But for now, my ride is here. See you later, Daniel."
Danny bit his lip, holding in his comment that Vlad hadn't said anything to his father.
"Yeah, bye-bye, Uncle Vlad," Danny said, drawling out the word 'Uncle' until Vlad's eye twitched. He mouthed right after, "Good riddance."
Vlad may have knocked into the table standing up, sending a few beer bottles to the ground. They shattered on the carpet and he held a hand over his mouth. "Oops, looks like I may have had one too many, Jack."
"Hey, that's what guy's nights are for and since you've got a ride, definitely no problem!" Jack said, smiling brightly. He stepped over the mess and walked Vlad to the door. "Danny and me'll take care of that! Have a good night, V-Man."
"I will," Vlad said, tersely. He waved at Danny before stepping down the stairs and getting into the waiting limo.
Jack closed the door, and Danny walked up to him with a sigh on his face. He looked at the shattered beer bottles and back at his dad. This time Vlad had gone too far with his stupid jabs at Jack.
"Please tell me you noticed he did that on purpose," Danny said, waving at the broken bottles on the carpet.
"Nah, Vlady's just a light-weight," Jack said, stepping over to the coffee table. He started stacking the still whole leftover bottles into the bucket. "Guy's the size of a twig. Can't hold his beer."
"I don't think he's drunk, dad," Danny said. He crossed his arms and rubbed the side of his cheek. Danny mumbled, "He also hit you with the freezer door."
"Accident," Jack said, smiling. He waved Danny's concerned look away with his hand, and chuckled heartily. "Look, I know Vlady can be a little uncoordinated, but he's still my best friend. I think you're being a bit hard on him considering how many beakers you've dropped at school.
"Hard on him?" Danny asked, stomping over to the kitchen and grabbing a broom and dust pan. He helped himself to sweeping up the glass before his father had to bend over to get it. "What about him being hard on you? He also, if you recall, knocked your food plate off the counter, nearly stabbed your arm with the steak knife—your suit is even ripped still—and then that thing with the freezer door and the beer. And that was just today!
"Every time he comes over something happens to you and he does that fake apology thing!" Danny swept up the last of the glass, staring at the shining shards of brown glass instead of looking at his father. He bit his lip, wanting to say the rest of it, too:
Vlad wants to kill you. He hates you. Vlad has already tried to murder you. He wants to marry mom. He's not your friend. Vlad lies to you. Vlad has tried to kill you!
But unable to say those things, Danny settled for the still very truthful: "He's so mean to you. Why do you put up with it?"
"If I don't, who else will?"
Danny looked up, and his heart skipped a beat.
Jack Fenton smiled at his son, but it was strained and sad. An expression that had no place on his happy, ghost-enthusiast, jumpsuit wearing father. Jack sat on the couch and patted the seat next to him. Danny sat next to him, setting the tray full of glass on the table.
"Vlad's a lonely man, Danny, and that's not healthy," Jack said, saying something that Danny had long known. But how long had his father? Jack ruffled Danny's hair, and let out a short laugh. "People shouldn't be alone, and that includes Vlad. I'm the only friend he's got, and if I leave, then where will he be?"
"He brought that on himself, don't you think?" Danny asked, pulling his knees up to his chest.
"Maybe, maybe not," Jack said, shrugging. He rubbed his palm on his knee and sighed. Danny watched his Dad's face, every wrinkle that formed on his brow as his face concentrated on the words he wanted to say. "I've got regrets in my life, Danny. I'm the forgetful type, so often they go away as soon as I get them, but seeing Vlad at that reunion brought one back.
"And I haven't been able to shake it," Jack laughed. He licked his lips and leaned his head back, staring at the ceiling. "That was the first time I'd seen him in twenty years, and everything felt so wrong no matter how much I lied to myself about it. Me and Maddie used to do everything with Vlad. Work, go to football games, hang out. But you knew that part, I already gave you the best friends and roommates description."
"He was nice to you then?" Danny scoffed. He'd bet his ghost powers that Vlad only hung out with his Jack to see Maddie. "Somehow I have a hard time believing that, even if he was your 'best friend.' "
"No," Jack said. He reached over and ruffled Danny's hair hard, before leaving his hand on Danny's head. "But he wasn't really a people person. Even when Vlad tried to be nice it came out wrong. It was hard to tell when he was being mean and when he wasn't. Vlad was mostly, cranky, but I didn't mind so much.
"How could I?" Jack laughed suddenly, rubbing the side of his eye. Danny ignored the shine there, and the hint of excess liquid in his dad's eyes. "I lived with the guy."
"Still sounds like you were better off without him," Danny muttered into his hand.
"We were," Jack said. He squeezed his fingers in Danny's hair before dropping his hold. He grabbed both of his knees with his hands and hunched over. "And that's what I regret."
Danny waited patiently for his dad to continue.
"We were his only friends, Danny," Jack said. "Me and Maddie. And after the accident, we sent him a get well card and that was it. He was still mad, so I gave him his space, and we lost touch. Your mom and I drowned ourselves in our work and somewhere around there we started dating. It was just so easy to never pick up the phone, or call and before I knew it twenty years had went by. Truth be told, I barely thought about him. How do you just forget someone you were that close, that quick?
"And Danny, when I saw him at that reunion," Jack's voice cracked. "It hit me how badly I'd screwed up."
"Dad?" Danny asked.
"Took me a minute of course," Jack said. "I'm sure you noticed. I referred to him as my 'Old Pal Vlad' even though we hadn't seen each other in years, assumed I was forgiven and realized that wasn't the case when he slammed the door in my face.
"It was easy to notice from that point just how badly things had gotten," Jack said. His gaze locked on a spot just above the television screen. He was watching something that wasn't in Danny's living room. Old memories. Jack shook his head, rubbing the back of his neck. "Vlad was always a little mean, but he was never that cruel. That angry. And I couldn't help but wonder if he'd still be like that if I'd tried harder to patch things up after that accident. Maybe things would be better if he'd had a friend or two along the way."
"Dad, it's not your fault he turned into a jerk," Danny said. He pushed on Jack's arm, and shook it. "The acne might have been your fault, but all that bitterness is all him! You're not the only one who could have picked up the phone and called, you know?"
"Maybe, maybe not, Danny," Jack said. He stood up and grabbed the tray full of broken glass. "All i know for certain is that right now I'm still the only friend he's got, because frankly, Maddie wants nothing to do with him.
"And before you open your mouth," Jack said, rolling his eyes and cutting Danny's intended sentence off. "Yes, I know that because he's been hitting on your mother. She tells me things like that."
"So what? You're just going to ignore him being mean to you because you want to be his friend again?"
"Yup!" Jack said, dumping the glass in the trash bin. "That's sums it up! Whether he likes it or not, Vlad needs at least one person he can count on and I plan to be that person."
"Dad, he hates you," Danny argued. He climbed off the couch, stepping on a chip bag on the floor. He slammed his hand on the table. "It's not worth it, and one of these days he might take it too far and actually hurt you. You should just leave him alone."
"Can't do that, Danny," Jack said. He dropped the empty beer bottles in the recycling bin and dropped the bucket into the sink. "Already made up my mind!"
"The dude's a lost cause!" Danny said.
"No one is a lost cause, Son," Jack said. He poked Danny in the forehead and smiled wide enough to show his teeth, big and bright and something much more familiar on his face. "Trust that your old man knows when too much is too much, and right now I can handle V-Man and his tantrums."
"Tantrums," Danny snorted. He looked at the broken glass in the trash and laughed. "That's one way to put them."
"I thought it was nice," Jack said. He dusted his hands off and looked around at the mess in the living room. The leftover bottles of beer he'd missed, Danny's cans of soda, the chip bowls, the salsa and cheese dips, and all sorts of napkins and plates leftover from their football viewing. Jack cleared his throat, "We really should clean all this up before your mother comes home."
"Right," Danny said. He grabbed a trash bag and headed into the disaster area to clean up the worst of it. His dad came right behind him, oddly helpful considering how fast he normally shirked chores. Danny squeezed his grip on the trash bag. "Hey, dad?"
"Yes, son?" Jack hummed, dumping the chips from the bowl into their bag.
"Be careful with Vlad, okay?" Danny said. Plasmius' hateful glaring entered his mind against his will. And he sucked in a breath. "I know you feel bad about what happened to him, but sometimes people change."
Jack hugged Danny, a tight bear hug that made him drop the trash bag and lifted him flat off the ground so that his feet hung around Jack's knees.
"I know that you're worried about me, Danny," Jack said. He squeezed the boy tightly before dropping him back down. Jack slapped Danny on the arm and pointed at his chest. "But you don't have to worry. I hunt GHOSTS for a living, kiddo! Next to that, V-Man is nothing I can't handle.
"So stop freaking me out with all that words of wisdom stuff you shouldn't know at your age yet," Jack said, ruffling Danny's hair. He looked up and held his chin, mumbling to the side wall. "Pretty sure you got that from your mother."
Danny laughed, smoothing his hair down. "Nah, I'm sure I got a little of it from you."
"Great!" Jack said. "Now let's get this clean, and remember!"
"We don't tell mom we had a football party with Vlad over," Danny said rolling his eyes. "I remember."
"Good boy!" Jack said.
As his father went back to cleaning, turning his back to his son and picking up the remainders of their afternoon, Danny moved a little slower as he stuffed trash in the bag. His mind raced with new information, and half wondered how Vlad would feel about it all.
Half the fun he had teasing Dad came from the belief that Jack "didn't notice" Vlad did it on purpose.
For now, Danny figured he could keep that to himself. He couldn't break his dad's confidence that way, unsure if his Father even really wanted to tell him all those things he knew about Vlad. Jack knew that Vlad hated him, and he didn't care. However much sense that made.
Jack was right. Danny was too young to try and understand this mess.
He shoved the last chip bag into the garbage bag and tied the top. However it turned out, Danny promised that if it ever did get too much for his dad to handle, he'd be there to knock Vlad into next week.
"You think your mother would be mad if I invited Vlad over for your birthday? That'd be fun right? All of us together as a family?" Jack asked, opening the garage door to dump the trash bags. "I think I'll ask now so she can't say anything!"
As his dad raced to the Fenton Phone, Danny covered his eyes with his hands and collapsed on the couch.
Why did things that made both Vlad and his Dad happy have to make Danny miserable?
"Hey said yes!" Jack called from the other room, and Danny may or may not have knocked over the coffee table when he stood up.