A/N: So, uh, note that this is a missing scene as opposed to something that comes after the credits. It's where everyone gets to talk about how they feel. The part I originally skipped. Not the long-in-coming revelation that many of you suspected I would get to.
It's a bit cheesy, but it shows you some of the things that might be said in such a session. (I am sure it could turn out many different ways.)
"Do you guys want me to start?" Jazz asked, glancing around at the others. They were sitting in a circle, facing each other, in the hope that it would help them focus their emotional energy.
"Might as well," Sam said. "You probably know more about what we're doing than the rest of us."
Jazz gave her a weak smile in return. "Okay, then," she said. She thought for a moment, took a deep breath, and started, "It probably isn't a secret that my parents embarrass me, but I wouldn't be me without them. Mom, especially, has pushed me to be my best. I know she wants me to follow in her footsteps, but my first love is psychology, and I can't turn my back on that. But just because I'm not embracing ghost hunting, I've realized that I can't ignore it, either. Like Dad always says, I'm a Fenton. It's in my blood. So, if things get rough, I'll grab an ectogun. I need to help.
"It's hardest," Jazz continued, "when I can't. When I know my family is getting into something dangerous and that I'd be more of a hindrance than a help. When I have to watch them leave, knowing they'll get hurt and I'll have to do my best to help them stitch up the wounds, but knowing that they're doing it because it's the right thing. That they're doing what they can to help, to protect our town from ghosts. And I love them for it. I'm proud. I might moan and wish I had a normal family, but then they wouldn't be my family. It wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't be right. I've learned to deal with all sorts of crazy things and to adapt to all kinds of situations because of the family I've been raised in. It took me a long time to accept that, to admit that I'm a better person because of them than I would be if I hadn't had them. But I think I am."
Jazz stopped for a moment. Then, quietly, "And that's why I can't lose them. I might lock horns with Mom sometimes, and I might drive Danny around the bend and we might end up yelling at each other and fighting just like any other siblings, but we're family, and I love them, and we wouldn't be who we are without each other. So I wouldn't change things. I need them. I need Mom and Dad to remind me of who I am, and I need Danny to remind me who I can be. I need someone to look up to. Some people have heroes that they'll never meet, but I've had the pleasure of knowing mine personally. I just…. I don't want that to change. Not like this. We're Fentons. We stick together. Especially in ghost-induced crises like this. Because that's who we are."
Jack was sniffling but smiling at her, clearly proud of his eldest child. "That's right, Jazzerincess," he said, digging a handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbing at his eyes. "We're Fentons. We stick together, and we'll beat whatever that evil ghost did! We'll get our family back. I don't know what I'd do without Maddie and you and Danny. I'm not going to let a ghost stand in the way of my family! Jack Fenton will never let a ghost take his family away."
Jazz, who had caught sight of Vlad's scowl, couldn't suppress her smile. "You'd rip apart any ghost that would try?"
"Molecule by molecule," Jack swore. "Because my family is the most important thing in my life."
"More important than ghost hunting?" Tucker asked, sounding like he'd spoken without thinking. Sam elbowed him, and he yelped.
Jack, however, didn't seem to find the question odd. Jazz wondered if it was because he was well aware of his reputation. Her father certainly did seem to be smarter than anyone gave him credit for. "More important than ghost hunting," Jack assured him. "I'm passionate about ghost hunting, but I love my family." Looking pointedly at Jazz, he added, "But like you said, Jazzy-pants, ghost hunting can be dangerous. That's why your mom and I want to make sure you and Danny can use all our weapons and handle yourselves in a fight. You and Danny may not share our passion for ghost hunting, but you're Fentons, and it's in your blood. And as far as ghosts are concerned, that means you have a target on your back. You kids need to be able to take care of yourselves." A little quieter, he added, "Especially when things like this happen and we can't protect you."
"Least that explains why he keeps telling us about everything he invents, too," Tucker muttered, "given how much time we spend around Danny."
Sam elbowed him again. "I know what you mean, Mr. Fenton. Tucker and Danny and I watch each other's backs. I mean, high school isn't dangerous like ghost hunting, but we watch out for each other. We're good friends, and we don't keep secrets from each other. It's always good to have someone to talk to, to depend upon. Danny's been like that. He's been, well…."
"A great friend," Tucker cut in, perhaps finally taking pity on Sam, whose cheeks had started to burn. "And he'll always be a great friend. I mean, man, he's put up with a lot from us, and we've put up with a lot from him. With everything we've been through, we couldn't not be great friends. I mean, Danny and Sam still have to admit their feelings for each other, but—"
"Well, you do," Tucker said frankly.
"He's got a point," Valerie added. "Danny's a great guy. He's sweet and funny and—"
"We're not talking about his character here!" Sam burst out. "We know he's all of that, but saying what he is isn't going to bring him back, is it? We need Danny. Even if we all don't want to admit it, every one of us here needs him. Not just his blood family. Jazz and Mr. Fenton are right. They're a family, and you can't just take away a piece or two and expect everything to be fine and dandy. They need each other, and all of us need them. What kind of state would Amity Park be in if the Fentons weren't here?"
"Well, it would, in all likelihood, be dealing with fewer ghosts," Vlad commented. "That portal of yours, Jack, did open up a stable gateway. It was practically an invitation."
"It was for science," Jack argued. "V-Man, you of all people know that."
"Oh, yes, of course, Jack. I do know better than anyone what you've created in the name of science." Jazz noticed the bitterness in Vlad's voice, even if her father was blithely unaware of it. The trace, however, was gone as Vlad continued, saying, "But the children raise a good point. Amity Park would be in quite a different state if it weren't for your family. I would hate to see things change."
"Yeah," Tucker added. "I mean, the Red Huntress does a pretty good job of fighting off ghosts, but she can't be everywhere at once. We need you guys in town. Without the Fentons, well, Amity Park probably would've been destroyed even before it got sucked into the Ghost Zone."
Valerie smiled. "That's true," she agreed. "That Ghost Shield you and Mrs. Fenton put up that time saved a lot of people from getting hurt, and you guys helped calm everyone down. You sorta united the town and kept people from going nuts and doing something stupid." Her smile changed to a smirk then as she added, "And if the rumours are anything to go by, Danny's done the same, organizing a bunch of kids to fight off ghosts when all the adults were caught in a scheming spook's plot. And Danny's a great friend to boot, just like Sam and Tucker say. A genuine one, someone who doesn't turn you away when everyone else does. I know that better than any of you guys. And you and Mrs. Fenton are really welcoming, too," Valerie added, looking over at Jack.
"Well, of course," Vlad put in. "Maddie wouldn't dream of turning away someone in need, would she?"
Jack nodded happily. "I'm so lucky to have married her, Vladdy! She and the kids are the best things that have ever happened to me. I wouldn't be half the man I am without them!"
"And I've seen Mrs. Fenton in action," Valerie added. "She's got a pretty good shot, so I can appreciate more than just her character. When it comes to ghosts, we probably really do need all you guys, more than any of the people here want to admit. You've saved our skin more than once."
"And they'll keep at it," Sam added.
"All of you will," Tucker put in. "The entire Fenton family. Fighting off ghosts like true Fentons. Right?"
Jack beamed. "That's the spirit!" he said. "We stick together and do what we do best: fight off ghosts!"
"Yes," Vlad agreed. "Your family can be quite invaluable by those terms. But I'm sure that none of us would be here if we didn't have some deeper connection to Maddie or Daniel. We all know them quite well." He paused. "If I've learned anything over the years, it's that some people spend their lives as unwitting pawns. But that isn't the role Maddie plays, and she's taught Daniel well. He balks at that role, as he should. I feel I share a particular connection, shall we say, with young Daniel. At times, he reminds me of myself when I was younger. Since I've moved to Amity Park, it has been… enlightening to watch him grown and develop. I care for both Maddie and Daniel deeply, as I'm sure you are all well aware. To lose Daniel would be to lose my own son. To lose Maddie…."
"Would be like losing a sister, right?" Jazz asked, well aware that that wasn't what Vlad meant and still terribly disturbed by that knowledge.
"I wouldn't feel complete if she weren't here," Vlad replied.
Jack smiled. "Just like Danny and his friends! That's a sign of true friendship, isn't it, Vladdy?"
Vlad's smile was tight. "Quite."
There was silence for a moment, everyone surreptitiously peering around to see if they could notice any sign of this working.
No such sign emerged.
Jazz caught Sam's and Tucker's eyes, wondering how much time they had. If they dared reveal the one thing that would surely be strong enough to break into the other realm…. The same thing that could destroy their circle or bring it closer together than ever, ruin their chance of success or ensure it….
Vlad gave a slight, nearly imperceptible shake of his head, which didn't go unnoticed by anyone who knew Danny's secret.
Well, whether she liked it or not, Jazz knew that what Vlad had said was true. He did care for her mother and brother. She didn't have to like it, especially because of his reasons behind it, but she knew he wouldn't risk their lives. He wasn't just holding out to save his own skin.
Still, she couldn't help but wonder…. What if this wasn't working because they never mentioned Phantom? How could they bring him up without giving Danny's secret away and still manage to keep people yearning for her mother and brother? Valerie's hatred of Phantom alone would probably be enough to counteract everything they'd said, and Jack Fenton still wanted to destroy him. It was usually Maddie who had to patiently remind him that they would still need something left of Phantom if they were to study him once they caught him.
"I just want them to come home," Jazz whispered, so quietly she doubted anyone else could hear her. "To be safe. To be together with them. To hug Danny and be held by Mom, just like when I was little…." She had to blink back her tears. It was hard to put on a brave face, to keep the worry at bay, to truly believe that they would get through this. "I miss them so much. I just wish this would work."
Sam reached over and squeezed her hand. "We all do," she said quietly. Slightly louder, she added, "We all want them back because we all need them back. We miss them, and we…love them."
Jazz couldn't help but smile at the huge grin on Tucker's face, even though they both knew full well Sam Manson hadn't quite admitted, unquestioningly, her feelings for Danny, since she probably wouldn't until he finally admitted his. "Yeah," Tucker said. "Let's face it. We'd be lost without them. And probably in a lot more trouble."
"Friends and family," Valerie added. "Ties that bind us together, right? Through thick and thin? We need them to pull through this, and they need us. And it'll work because it has to."
"Because we're all connected," Jazz agreed softly.
"Because we aren't ourselves without them," Jack agreed, echoing the gist of Jazz's earlier words.
"Because we couldn't be, just as they wouldn't be who they are without us," Vlad continued. "No matter how they may feel about us at times."
"And because we don't know what we'd do without them," Jazz finished.
For a minute, Jazz thought it might have worked. She thought she'd caught a slight distortion in the air, the same sort that sometimes signalled an invisible but tangible Danny who wasn't being as careful as he should. But no matter how she strained her eyes to see a similar shimmer again, she couldn't, and she had to admit to herself that she'd probably imagined it.
This time, she couldn't stop the tears.
"Sh, sh," Jack said, enveloping her in a hug. "They'll be okay, Jazz. I promise. They'll be okay." The words, so like something her mother or brother would say to her, caused her to completely break down. She couldn't hold the hiccupping sobs back even though she tried. Danny and her mom were stuck somewhere, and…and….
She couldn't help. She was trying, everyone was trying, but it wasn't enough, and they were running out of time….
A startled gasp caused her to jerk her head up. Over her dad's shoulder, she could see her mom, looking bewildered and a little bit battered, but still undeniably there.
"Mom!" Jazz cried, her tears forgotten as she scrambled to her feet and ran over to envelope her mother just seconds before Jack had wrapped them both in a hug.
"It worked!" Jack was positively gleeful. "Mads, you're back! Where's Danny?"
Maddie, who had been smiling at them all, froze. "Isn't he here?"
The others had gotten to their feet, and at Maddie's question, they glanced at each other, not wanting to admit it to her. Finally, Valerie said, "No, Mrs. Fenton. He's not."
"But I haven't seen him," Maddie said. "I thought Phantom had taken him first, that Danny was the first of us to escape."
"It's not Phantom's fault," Sam insisted stubbornly.
"It's because of the wishing ghost," Jazz said. "Desiree. As far as we can tell, anyway. Phantom's not behind it."
"We're still not completely sure of that," Jack reminded her, and Jazz remembered that they hadn't told him about Valerie's wish. Well, not specifically. They hadn't told him it had been Valerie who had made the wish, only that Desiree had twisted one. And she knew just about as well as Danny that it was pretty hard to completely change how their parents felt about Phantom. They still hadn't cleared the 'not all ghosts are evil' hurdle.
"It doesn't matter," Maddie said quietly. "I was talking to him, just now. He'd said he suspected Desiree. He'd said something earlier about wishing, but it hadn't worked at first, and then I opened my mouth and made another wish and this one did exactly what Phantom said it would. It took me home and left him behind."
"Wait," Tucker said. "You wished he was back here, too?"
Maddie sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "It was…. Things…changed. We talked, and I think Phantom was telling the truth for the most part. He was caught up in this just like we were." For a moment, Maddie's eyes looked haunted. "But I wouldn't even wish that on a ghost."
"Besides," Jack added, "we can't hunt him, catch him, and dissect and study him if he's stuck in a different world!"
"Reality," Jazz corrected. "Of sorts." But though her tears had dried, she still felt terribly worried. What about Danny?
Maddie smiled weakly, seeming to read her mind. "Don't worry, honey. We'll get Danny back. You kids should go off to bed and get some sleep. Jack and I…and Vlad," she added, a bit more hesitantly than she perhaps should have, "will sort this out."
"It's not late, Mrs. Fenton," Tucker said. "It's technically not even six o'clock. So we're going to stay and help you get Danny back. And Phantom, too."
"Yeah," Valerie agreed, much to the surprise of nearly everyone in the room. "I mean, I don't like Phantom after all the trouble he's caused me, but if he's going to be wiped from existence or something, it should be different than this. I hate to admit it, but he's helped save us all, too. It doesn't make up for all the trouble he causes, not really, but if he hadn't stolen that Ecto-Skeleton thing of yours and helped defeat that ghost king…."
"Pariah Dark," Vlad supplied smoothly. "Yes, we all are indebted to Phantom for that. None of us can deny it."
"You least of all," Sam muttered darkly, shooting him a glare which Vlad ignored.
"Phantom's done a lot of good for all of us," Jazz said, "whether you guys want to admit the rest of it or not, and I'm sure he has a very good reason for every bad thing it looks like he's done."
"He has a reason, at any rate," Maddie said softly. "He told me a few of his excuses. But I'm not sure what to make of the fact that Danny isn't here. Phantom's explanations can't have been true, but…." She trailed off, shaking her head. "I don't have enough information to answer to all my questions."
"There, there, Maddie," Vlad said, drawing her out of Jack's embrace to give her a welcoming hug of his own. "Daniel will turn up yet. I'm sure of it. He and Phantom will both make an appearance, I daresay."
Jazz, trying to ignore how Vlad was looking at her mother, pulled Maddie away and hugged her again herself. "Phantom's not evil, Mom," she whispered. "I'm sure of it. He's different from other ghosts."
"I know he seems different, sweetie," Maddie whispered back, giving her daughter a fierce squeeze before stepping back and releasing her, "but getting your brother back is my priority, and—"
"Danny!" Sam's joyful cry cut across their conversation. Jazz turned and was relieved to see Danny, still in ghost mode, staring back at them in pure disbelief.
"Ghost!" Jack Fenton cried. "Where's Danny? What have you done with him?"
"Dad," Jazz cut in, sounding exasperated. "I told you Danny Phantom wasn't behind this. Look at the state of him. He was dragged into this just like the rest of us."
As much as she hated to admit it, her little brother did look horrible, much worse than the last time she'd seen him, and she wondered what he'd been through. She'd find out tomorrow, she decided. Right now, it didn't matter, because right now, he was back.
They were all together again, and that's all that mattered.