This is the sequel to "Danny? Phantom?". It is suggested but not necessary to read that story first. Basically all you need to know is that Danny revealed himself to Maddie and it's now several months later. If you're wondering why it's taken me so long to get the sequel up, well, that's because D?P? was written for Darth Frodo's birthday last year, and I thought I'd continue the tradition. (Yes, that means it's her birthday. Go say hi!)
He's A Fenton?
Jack Fenton woke to find Maddie gone, a note on the table saying that she'd taken the Speeder out for a test drive. He took a swig from his Fenton Liquid Breakfast and unconcernedly went into the lab to tinker with the Ghost Gabber. That was when he realized that he'd been working on the invention in bed last night, and, trekking back upstairs, found it under his pillow.
As he was straightening the covers again, he noticed an orange stain spreading across the sheet. Funny, that looked just like Fenton Breakfast… Maddie was going to kill him. Unless, of course, he got rid of all the evidence before she got home!
He yanked the covers off the bed and carried them back to the basement, where he dumped them in the Fenton Ecto-Washer and got it running. Then he headed up to the linen closet, pulled out a stack of sheets, and saw something dark green stashed in the corner. Curious, he pulled it out and flipped it open. It was a binder full of data on ghost powers, almost everything that he and Maddie knew about, except that he hadn't helped write it. Everything was in Maddie's hand, or a variety of others he didn't recognize. Given that, and where he'd found it, Jack knew it probably wasn't meant for his eyes, but the amount of data in here: ectolevels, records of power growth, list of ghosts, rudimentary ectobiology, something called midmorph DNA…
Excited, Jack pounded down the stairs, sheets forgotten in front of the closet. Just think of what he could learn from this!
Maddie Fenton shifted the Specter Speeder into park and turned to her son, sitting in the passenger seat. A puddle of light green liquid was congealing around her.
"Thanks for the tour, sweetie," she said. "I learned a lot today. I didn't realize the Ghost Zone was so large, and all those readings I got off everything…. I'll be busy for weeks!"
"No prob," Danny smiled back. "And sorry about Cujo. He can get a bit enthusiastic."
Maddie laughed and wiped a string of ghost saliva off her goggles. "He just surprised me. Come on, let's see what your father got up to without us." She slid out of the vehicle and Danny followed suit on the other side. They both did a precautionary scan of the lab, but nothing in it seemed more dangerous than usual. In fact…
"Does this look a bit too neat to you?" Danny asked quietly. Maddie nodded. A clean lab only meant one thing—Jack had screwed up spectacularly and had tidied the lab to make amends. And any of Jack's bigger screw-ups were bad news. Both mother and son tensed, and cautiously moved upstairs. With any luck, the kitchen would still be there.
It was, but they hardly recognized it. Jack's wide orange back occupied the nearest end of the table, which was strewn with papers, notebooks, and plates of sweets. The counters and floors weren't much better, although the plates there were empty. Oddly, there wasn't an invention in sight.
"Jack?" Maddie asked carefully, stepping further into the kitchen. Her husband stirred and slowly turned around. When he saw who was there, his face lit up.
"Maddie! Danny! You'll never believe what I found upstairs this morning!" He grabbed a binder off the table, and both woman and teen paled at the particular shade of the cover. "There's all this data abo–"
"Danny?" Maddie interrupted quickly. "Don't you have homework, sweetie?"
"Yeah!" Danny actually sounded relieved. "I'll, um, just go do it, okay?" He almost ran over to the second door in the room and disappeared down the hall.
The brief pause had been enough for Jack to get his enthusiasm under control, and he curbed it further once it was just him and Maddie left in the room. This really wasn't a time for positive energy.
"Why didn't you tell me about this, Maddie?" he asked, waving the binder in front of himself.
"I needed time to go through it properly, without distractions," she answered sadly. "And I wanted to make sure that my theory was right before I came to you. Otherwise there might have been flaws that neither of us would see."
Jack nodded. That sounded logical. Maddie's notes in the book had been full of that theory, and it was one they'd basically discounted as impossible in the past.
"So this ghost … is also human?" Ectomagnetic bioresonance would explain the range and level of the powers. Being human would also be why the ghost was willing to cooperate, even side, with other hunters. And of course, there was the ghost's genome, with very recognizable strands of real-world DNA….
"I think so."
"You've got a fairly good case for it. Actually…" a page of the binder, with a sketch and various notations around it, flashed through his mind, "you've seen proof, haven't you?" Jack's eyes narrowed.
"Yes." Monosyllable. Not good.
"Do you trust Phantom, then?"
Maddie blinked. "How did you know it was him?" The question seemed almost involuntary.
"There aren't many ghost with these power levels." Jack shrugged and turned back to the table, expecting Maddie to come closer. When she did, he turned his face to look at her, and asked, "How long have you known?"
Maddie didn't meet his eyes when she answered. "Two months."
"We're supposed to be open with each other, Mads." Jack's voice was soft and pained. "Especially about research."
"I know, Jack." Maddie took a seat beside him. "But this was something I needed to do alone. I was going to tell you, I just wanted a good case for it first. You can be a little paranoid, honey."
That was true, and fair. It still hurt to know she'd kept this from him, when she knew how excited he'd have been about the discovery. But maybe he'd figured some stuff out today that she hadn't, and they could get back on an even footing.
Jack reached over to a pile of notes held down by a plate of fudge.
"I figured out how it must have happened," he said more animatedly, passing the notes to his wife and taking the fudge for himself. "The only way a hybrid would be possible is if you fused the ectoplasm with a human—you couldn't start with a ghost, it wouldn't work, not enough internal definition—and you'd need a huge amount of electricity for the fusion too. Look." He pointed to a few figures on one of the pages. There. That was one up on her. Nothing in the binder had been about that!
She didn't seem surprised. She'd known. The ghost boy must have told her, and she hadn't told Jack. The hurt started welling up again. There was one more thing, however….
"That's about how much energy the Portal uses."
"You think Phantom got himself caught in the Portal somehow?" Maddie sounded suspicious. Jack nodded vigorously. There. Something she hadn't thought of. This called for more fudge.
"Still workin' on that," Jack said gleefully. In all honesty, he'd hoped to have that information when Maddie got home, but the energy calculations took deceptively large amounts of time to complete. But now he and Maddie could solve the Phantom problem together… Even better! "Fudge?"
"No thanks." Maddie paused. "So what else have you 'discovered'?"
"Nothing, really." Jack shrugged. "I've been checking your calculations and crunching data, but I don't know what it means yet. As far as I can tell, you've been working with Phantom, instead of just observing… Do you have a way of contacting him? Because I think he probably has the answers already, at least to some of this stuff, and heck, I should probably apologize as well, right?"
Maddie laughed at his enthusiasm. "Probably. And actually, I think I might. I'll be back!" She headed towards the hallway door, then turned. "And don't eat all the fudge, dear. You need to save some room for dinner!"
A few minutes later, she came back and announced that Phantom would be there soon. Jack waited expectantly, trying to decide whether Phantom would come in through the ceiling or through the living room. As a result, the knock on the back door took him by surprise.
"Sorry," Phantom told Maddie as she let him in. "I didn't want to startle you."
"That's okay, kid!" Jack told him heartily. "A good scare does this body good!"
The ghost looked askance at him. "Riiiiight. Anyway, um, Maddie said you wanted to talk?"
"Yeah. I found all this data this morning and thought, well, I've got all these questions and it'd be easier getting the answers from you instead of doing the math—hate math, sometimes." Jack extended his hand towards Phantom. "And I think I owe you a big apology too. Hunting you and threatening to tear—"
"Me apart molecule by molecule?" Phantom finished, placing his gloved hands in Jack's and shaking. "Forgiven." The ghost felt cool, not cold, and surprisingly solid.
"Great!" Jack beamed. "Now sit down, kid. You don't mind, do you?"
"Uh, not really," Phantom said hesitantly. "But do you mind if I maybe don't sit down?"
Kid mustn't trust him completely. Fair enough. Jack knew how imposing he looked chasing ghosts with the Jack-O'-Nine-Tails.
"Sure," he told him. "Now, first question: How'd you get zapped in the Portal?"
"Hehe, funny story…" Phantom rubbed his neck awkwardly. "Um…." As he was trying to find a good way to start, Jack was hit by an idea.
"You were there when Danny—my Danny—turned it on, weren't you? No, wait, you turned it on and Danny covered for you." Which would mean that Phantom was a friend of Danny's he'd never met, which could explain why his son kept coming home hurt, was secretive, and shirked his chores….
"Actually, that's pretty close." Phantom seemed to be blushing. "But, uh, not quite. Mo- Maddie's told you I'm human too?"
"Yup!' Darn, the fudge was gone. Time for cookies. He offered the plate to Phantom first, out of politeness, but was pleased when the boy refused.
"And you really mean it about not killing me?"
"Of course." What did that have to do with anything?
Maddie made a dodge to snag the plate away from Jack, and missed, thanks to his finely honed sweet-guarding reflexes. Didn't she know it was impossible for Jack to ruin his dinner? Even possessed food was useful, if not always edible.
Phantom caught the woman's eye and a look passed between them. He gave an almost imperceptible nod that he probably thought Jack was too slow to catch. Ha! No ghost … human … thingy could get one over on Jack Fenton!
The ghost boy took a deep breath and seemed to center himself, and then suddenly a ring of white light materialized along the vertical center of his body. As Jack watched, it split into two bands, both slightly more than half as wide, and the bands started moving away from each other. Between the bands appeared black hair, a rumbled white and red t-shirt, battered jeans….
For a moment, Jack's paranoia resurfaced and he readied himself to attack the ghost holding his son captive. Then he realized that there was nothing unearthly about the boy appearing before him. His own son was the ghost boy. His own son. A ghost. A hero. A thingy. His son. Pestering poltergeists, was V-man ever going to be impressed!
"Hi." Danny gave a nervous wave. He looked ready to flee straight through the kitchen wall. Catching him up in a bear hug probably wouldn't be the best idea, then. Jack settled for cracking a smile and wiping the tears from his eyes.
"Takes right after his dad, don't he, Mads?"
"He absolutely does." She smiled at him and took the forgotten plate of cookies, hanging in the air in front of Jack, over to a counter.
Jack, meanwhile, sensing the ice broken, stood up and (carefully) hugged his son. "I'm proud of you, kid. And I'm sorry. I should … we should … never have hunted you."
"Apology accepted, Dad." Danny pushed back a bit and looked his father in the eyes. "I haven't exactly been the best son either."
"You kiddin'?" Jack grinned, letting go and grabbing the green binder off the table. "With all this data? I'd say you're better than best!"
Dinner conversation that night was centered around ghosts, as usual, but for the first time Danny was actually a willing participant in the conversation, explaining everything from the standard Amity ghosts to his theories on ghost powers to what he dealt with on an average day. Maddie chipped in occasionally to take some of Jack's 'third degree', as Danny put it, off her son's shoulders.
By the end of the meal, Danny had relaxed enough that he put everything from dinner away with telekinesis, just to show off. Jack gaped at that, naturally, and immediately dragged him into the basement for testing.
Unfortunately, he didn't get very far with that before a stream of blue-tinged air, that Jack had actually seen a number of times and forgotten about, left his son's mouth.
"Ghost," Danny explained to his dad's quizzical expression. "I can tell when they're around. Um, I should go, please."
"You don't need to ask, Danny," Jack said softly, taking the Fenton Mind Helmet off Danny's head and watching him transform into Phantom once more (Man, that is cool! I wonder what makes that light.). "Just let us know when you're leaving, as much as you can. We'll always have your back if you need it, too."
"Thanks. Don't wait up." Danny soared up through the lab ceiling, smoothly transitioning between intangibility and invisibility as he passed to the outside. As soon as he'd left, Jack grabbed a couple guns off a table and headed upstairs.
"Maddie?" His wife was going over the binder again, pencil working through a few calculations. She looked up at his voice. "Danny's gone out fighting. I'm going to go watch. Wanna come?"
"Not tonight. I've almost got this figured out…"
Jack nodded and left, but was back again a moment later to grab the keys to the GAV. This was going to be the best night he'd spent in a year.