Disclaimer- Danny Phantom does not belong to me, it belongs to Butch Hartman. But I'll take a Danny Plushie if anybody starts selling 'em... This short is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America, and TV Y. Another one-shot of behind the eyes, with one of my favorite characters, this one after Million Dollar Ghost

Midnight Contemplations

Jack Fenton was not a complicated man. In fact, you could probably count his instances of deep contemplation on the fingers of one hand, and still make change. Aside from asking Maddie to marry him, there was very little in his life he'd ever had to sit down and THINK about for any length of time. Of course, that was possibly the only decision in his life he'd absolutely never had any cause to regret, which might say something. But Jack being Jack, that wasn't an idea he was going to give too much screen time to, either.

Tonight, though... Well, for the first time in a long time, he had something he wanted to think about, and think hard, which was why he was working alone in his lab, long after midnight, when the rest of the house had gone to bed. Well, that and the mess that the Wisconsin Ghost and his vultures had left, anyway. How those things managed to get shed feathers in some of the places he'd found them boggled even his imagination.

The Wisconsin Ghost. The creature he'd fought today was more powerful and malevolent than any ghost Jack had ever encountered, and a lot smarter too. Most ghosts were focused creatures, bound to Earth by some type of uncompleted task or unfulfilled desire, and it made them rather single-minded. This one, though... Jack had still no idea what it wanted, except that it didn't seem to care for him that much. Which was all right; the feeling was definitely mutual.

But... the ghost had offered a bounty. A million dollar bounty, on another ghost. What ghost knew that much about the way the living world worked? And what ghost could mingle with humans long enough to put the bounty out in the first place, even if it had never intended to deliver?

Something was nagging at him about that ghost, something he couldn't quite grasp. It was out of place, inconsistent, just plain WRONG. And for the life of him, he couldn't figure out what it was.

Then it hit him. In the middle of screwing a handle on the inside of the weapons locker door, he stopped dead. Maddie. In Wisconsin, the thing had definitely been targeting her... but it hadn't tried to hurt her, despite seeming more than happy to inflict damage on everybody else. And tonight, the ghost had simply thrown her and Jazz into the weapons locker, trapping them without causing them any injury. So... this ghost wanted him dead... but it wouldn't hurt his wife? That didn't make any sense.

"Well, Jack Fenton," he grumbled, tossing his screwdriver back into the toolbox, "maybe you ARE just a big fat idiot."

Idiot. Wait a minute... he didn't remember much of anything from when the ghost had taken him over at Vlad's reunion, but he DID remember, very vividly, coming out of it in the middle of the destroyed dance floor, someone else's rage and hate still boiling in his brain... and that one word repeating over and over in his ears. And then tonight, the ghost had called him that again. Not that it was the first to attack his intelligence, not by a long shot, but the thing seemed almost fixated on that. Which meant... the ghost knew him. Possibly even blamed him for its death. That didn't make sense, of course, even HE wouldn't forget being responsible for that, but he wasn't naïve enough not to realize that hatred could easily be unfounded. Mistakes happened all the time.

Like Amity Park's ghost boy. (Jack couldn't bring himself to call the kid "Inviso-Bill" again, having noticed it provoked more than one eye-roll during their temporary partnership.) The bounty offered hadn't rung any alarms for him or Maddie, since they'd seen firsthand how dangerous the ghost could be. But now, he wondered. When facing his hunters, the ghost boy seemed to prefer running to fighting, even or especially when he had the upper hand. When Maddie's bazooka had failed, the boy had simply bowed, let loose a smart-aleck comment, and disappeared. And even though the ghost could have simply left him in the trap and disappeared, he'd instead risked capture and destruction to help save Maddie and Jazz. Which meant... well, heck, he had no idea what it meant, honestly. But he was reserving judgment on whether or not the ghost kid was actually a threat until something else came along to clear it up.

Which left only one more thing on his mind tonight, as he picked ghost feathers out of the ventilation system, and that was his son. These days, he actually felt more connected to his reformed skeptic daughter than to the boy who'd listened to his theories with appreciation, even if it was accompanied by a raised eyebrow or two. Hearing Danny's opinion of his abilities had hurt, but not nearly as much as when, after their make-up, Jack had actually LOOKED at his son for the first time in... well, possibly months.

Danny looked awful. He was thinner than normal, which was quite a feat considering the usual metabolism of a teenage boy. Dark circles were beginning under the boy's eyes, and his attention constantly seemed to be split between what was going on and... somewhere else. He hadn't stopped eating, which for a Fenton male was generally a sign of the apocalypse... but he rarely paid attention to what it was he ate.

There were other changes, too. Jack had started stamping as he walked around the house, after the third time he'd had to peel his startled son off the ceiling. And even he'd noticed that Danny'd become far more cynical than was normal for a teenage boy. Any and all attempts to talk to him, though, had met a brick wall as Danny had just given them a look equal parts innocence and pure panic, and had spouted off a lot of ... well, he really hadn't SAID anything at all.

Sighing, Jack turned his attention to his newest project, the Fenton Ghost Breeze. It could blow a flying ghost out of the air, and also doubled as a leaf blower for yard maintenance. All this thinking was getting him nowhere except to conclude that ghosts were much, much less complicated than teenagers... and that he wasn't going to be getting any answers from Danny any time soon. Firing up the air compressor, he frowned as it sputtered a few times, then suddenly blew a wad of something green and glowing in his face.

Vulture feathers.

Shaking his head and spitting to clear his mouth, Jack began to disassemble the machine. It was going to be a long night.