Disclaimer- Butch Hartman owns Danny, I don't. You all know this by now, right? This short is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America, and TV-Y. They say all things come in threes, and these little shorts are apparently no exception, as I round out my top three favorite character list with a little more introspection...

Won't Change The Subject

"A Fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." -- Winston Churchill.

Glaziers for the windows. Steam cleaning for the punch in the carpets. Construction crew to fix the various walls punched through by the Fenton RV. A good excuse for the cleaning crew as to why his study had been filled with approximately two hundred pounds of overripe Limburger. (The Dairy King, while unwilling to fight, was apparently not averse to more subtle ways of showing his displeasure with the castle's current occupant.) Vlad Masters sighed, rubbing at his temples to try and assuage the growing headache. The aftermath of hosting the class reunion, while not a financial drain, had added more than a few items to his to-do list. (Get Skulker to design a vacuum that could adequately suck up ghost feathers, he remembered, adding that to the sheet of paper before him. His vultures tended to shed when traumatized or over-excited, and Danny Phantom had done an excellent job of that.)

All things considered, however, the reunion hadn't been a total loss. Oh, he'd failed completely to destroy Jack, either physically or by ruining his relationship with Maddie, but... he'd waited twenty years for his revenge. He could wait a while longer. Especially with such an intriguing puzzle as he'd been handed yesterday.

Daniel Fenton. Danny Phantom. Jack and Maddie's son was, in fact, the Ghost Child who'd been making huge waves all through the paranormal world. He should, he supposed, have made the connection earlier, since Danny Phantom was known to haunt Jack and Maddie's hometown, if he could be forgiven the pun. But frankly, he hadn't been that interested in the rumors, except to mark the boy as an obstacle that might one day have to be eliminated. To find out that Jack's son was this growing legend, and a hybrid like himself... well, it changed things considerably.

Danny's reversion to human after their battle had been the first real shock Vlad had encountered in some time. Logic stated that he probably should simply have disposed of the boy then, or at least allowed Skulker to do so after Danny had rejected his offer, but... He wasn't a monster. The boy was only fourteen, and despite his impressive record of dealing with ghosts, Danny wasn't likely to pose a real threat to Vlad and his plans.

Rule one, the billionaire thought with rueful amusement. Never underestimate your adversary, even if his voice hasn't finished changing yet. Danny had risen to the test admirably, and Vlad could respect that, even if the boy's loyalty to Jack was misguided. Overpowered in every respect, Danny had ruthlessly struck at Vlad's only weak spot-- not a trait he'd ever seen in either Jack or Maddie. It was enough to make one wonder.

No, Vlad didn't regret sparing Danny's life. The boy was young, and confused, and if he continued his heroic ways, there would be more dangerous gambits ahead, pain, hard choices, and a great deal of bitter disappointment. Danny might yet come to him, and even if he didn't... well, Danny Phantom would be a worthy foe. He'd already shown Vlad the dangers of growing complacent. Having a challenger in his schemes would force him to plan for obstacles, to get creative. In fact... perhaps honing Daniel's skills would prove advantageous for both of them in the future. He'd have to look into providing appropriate trials for the young man. In the words of Nietzche, "What does not kill me makes me stronger," after all.

If all went well, Danny would eventually become a worthy son and heir. If not... then eventually he would be disposed of. Just as Jack would, in the end.

After all, he might have lost a battle... but the war was still far from over.

End