Passover Holiday Fic. Danny tries to make a favorable impression on the Manson's when he is invited for Passover. AU Danny did not reveal his secret to the world in PP
Author's note: AU. Danny never revealed his identity to the world during Phantom Planet. A few key people know including Danny's parents. Danny and Sam are in their twenties.
What has gone before: This is a problem when you are working out of order (ha, ha, Seder translates as 'order') I have some drafted drabbles and shorts that are still being worked on, but wanted to skip ahead because of the timing of the holidays.
In brief, Danny had 'gone all noble' and refused to ask Sam to marry him because he thought it would be 'for her own good.' Sam was understandably upset. Sam with (Skulker's!) help track, down Danny and have a 'talk' with him and help him see the 'error of his ways.'
Danny parked the car and retrieved his suit jacket and the hostess gift from the back seat and began walking up the long driveway of the Manson residence. He turned to give Sam a reassuring smile but frowned when he saw her place something in her pocket.
"Sam. You have to tell them sometime."
"You're one to talk."
"Are you having second thoughts?" Danny asked hesitantly.
"No. Absolutely not. Get that thought right out of your head." Sam said fiercely.
Danny couldn't help a small sigh of relief. "Then what is it?"
"Well, practically all my life, I've been at odds with my parents, and now, well for the first time, we're seeing each other in a different light and …"
"You think this will mess it up."
"Partly, but mostly, I don't want to mess it up for you. Just as I'm going to be part of your crazy family, you're going to be part of mine. Tension with the in laws is one tradition we can do without."
Danny smirked mischievously and quipped, "The difference between in-laws and out-laws is that out-laws are wanted."
Sam snorted. "Stop making me laugh," she mock-scolded. "Besides it's partly your fault. You were the one who told my Dad. "I have no intentions in regards to your daughter. Our relationship will be strictly business."
Danny winced as she mimicked his words. He had thought he was being noble at the time until he had been enlightened to the fact that he was just being astoundingly stupid.
"Do you want me to tell them?" he offered.
"Tempting, but they're my parents. It should come from me."
"Speaking of parents, that's another reason to tell them. My folks are going to blow it if you don't."
"Danny, you promised me you wouldn't tell your parents before I talked to mine."
"I didn't but they are asking some very pointed questions. The type that sort of answer themselves and they're not exactly stupid about everything. I'd be a lot more depressed if you'd said no."
"You mean if you said no."
"Heh. Yeah. I've been trying to avoid them but Tucker's not an idiot and neither is Jazz."
Sam sighed. "We'll tell my parents tonight." Sam promised. "Maybe after sharing a nice holiday meal with you my folks will be willing to see you in a warmer light. Show them you can fit into Manson family. So don't blow it."
Danny paused to pull his jacket on wincing as he rotated his sore shoulder. But when he saw that
Sam was giving him 'The Look', he said, "I'm fine. There's just been some unrest in the Death's Head Valley - that's always been a hot bed of contention in the Ghost Zone and some of it is spilling over into the Barrens."
"And into Amity?"
Danny put on his signature smirk. "Nothing I couldn't handle."
"That 'nothing' includes your shoulder?"
He shrugged and regretted it when a twinge of pain ran through his collar bone and across his back.
"Nothing's broken." He assured her and then added under his breath, "any more…..much."
The Look again.
"Sam," he said seriously, "It's better than it used to be but the risk…. It comes with the territory. If you don't want to deal with it, now's the time to say so."
"Danny, I've been dealing with it since we were fourteen. So don't try to weasel out of it. I thought we agreed that you'd take better care of yourself."
"Old habits die hard. I try to be better about it. I got treated and everything," he offered to mollify her.
Sam blew out her breath. They both accepted the risks associated with ghost fighting but that didn't mean she had to be happy with it. However since there was no point talking about what wasn't going to change she changed the subject.
"So, speaking about all this 'territory' stuff, is 'Daniel' ready to enter the Lion's Den and have a Seder with my relatives?"
He chuckled nervously, "Uh, what is a 'Seder' again?" he asked.
Sam stopped on the front portico and looked at him. "You're joking right? Oh my gosh, you're not. I thought you said you were going to do your homework and research Passover."
"I did look it up. Passover – the Jewish holiday when the Angel of Death passed over."
Sam covered her eyes with her hand. "Another thing that hasn't changed since ninth grade. You still don't do your homework."
"I was going to but things got busy. So what's a Seder?"
"It's a ritual meal that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt."
"No problem. I'll just watch you and do what you do."
"There's a lot more to it than that! There are a lot of strange customs that go with it."
"Sam, don't worry, I can handle it. They're at least human. You wouldn't believe the level of 'strange' in rituals involved in sealing treaties in the Ghost Zone."
By this time they had reached the door. Danny was about to knock when the door was pulled open and Sam was pulled into an enthusiastic hug from a largish woman in a bright patterned dress.
"Sam! It's so good to see you!"
Sam's reply was muffled in the woman's ample shoulder. When she was released, Sam pulled Danny into the foyer and made introductions. "This is my Aunt Neshama and Uncle Jacob. Allow me to introduce my boyfriend Danny Fenton."
Danny offered his hand. Instead of shaking his hand, however, the bearded man greeted him with a hearty clap on the shoulder. Danny's expression became rather fixed until the pain subsided.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Danny finally managed to say through gritted teeth.
Danny put on his best smile and handed the gift bag to Sam's Aunt before saying, "Thank you for inviting me to share your holiday with you."
"Oh thank you, how kind of you." She opened the bag and peered inside.
"Ahhhh! Chometz!  Don't bring it into the house!" She suddenly screamed before she shoved the bag back into Danny's hands as horrified as if he had offered her a severed head.
A bewildered Danny asked "What's wrong?"
"What's in the bag?" asked Sam.
"Bagels. I thought bagels are 'Jewish' and acceptably vegetarian."
"I'm sorry Aunt Neshama," Sam said with a weak smile, "Danny didn't know."
"I'm sorry, are you allergic?" asked Danny.
"This is an example of why you should have done your homework,." Sam explained. "On Passover, there are a lot of foods that are forbidden. Including all bread products. In fact anything made from most grains is not allowed. Except matzah that has been prepared in the right way. Grandma Ida had the cleaning staff going crazy removing every possible crumb. Aunt Neshama even insisted on using a special set of dishes, pots, and silverware. The kitchen is covered with aluminum foil to avoid any 'contamination' with forbidden food."
"Oops," Danny muttered as he nervously rubbed the back of his neck.
Sam rolled her eyes at him. "Off to a good start, I see."
Danny dropped the bag outside the front door and followed Sam into the house.
Two boys ran past dodging around furniture. He could hear Pamela Manson calling futilely "No running in the house."
Then the older one brought his brother to a halt with a flying tackle. "These are our two youngest boys Ezra and Izzy. Boys, settle down this is Mr. Fenton."
Danny nodded politely.
"I'm Izzy. I'm the smart one," said the boy on top.
"I'm Ezra. He's the fat one," The boy on the bottom twisted to dislodge his brother.
Climbing to his feet, the slightly taller one looked around him searching the floor until he spotted a folded piece of cloth. Seizing it, he unfolded it to reveal a beanie which he placed on his head.
The other child squinted up at Danny and asked "Where's your kippah? "
To Sam's surprise, Danny reached into his suit pocket and pulled out his own kippah. It was black and decorated with Phantom's DP sign in white. "Right here." He looked back at the boy and asked, "Where's yours?"
The kid reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled mass, which he made a futile attempt to straighten and pinned onto his own head. "I put it there so I wouldn't lose it. Izzy's always losing his."
His older brother turned to his sibling and said, "Mom says that it's supposed to go over your brains and if you keep it in your back pocket people might get the wrong idea. Of course in your case, they'd be right."
The boys made an attempt to swipe at each other but Sam's aunt reached down and grabbed each boy by an arm and began towing them from the entrance way. "If you have that much energy, let's put it to good use. Set the table."
As Sam and Danny followed them down the hall, Sam whispered to her boyfriend, "Where'd you get a kippah?"
Danny looked down at the black and white hand woven bowl-shaped hat and smiled fondly. "It was a gift. I was also given an Arab keffiyeh  but I thought this would be the more appropriate headgear." Turning his attention back to Sam, he popped it on his head and grinned. "See, I'm not a total goy."
Sam's Aunt led the boys off into the dining room while Uncle Jacob continued to fill Sam in on family goings on. On entering the kitchen, Danny could see that indeed, all the counters were covered with aluminum foil.
"Our oldest son is spending the holiday in New York with their mother's relatives. And our oldest is at her fiancé's," the man explained before pointing to a girl in her mid teens was stirring a pot on the stove. "This is Ruach.
Danny again gave a polite greeting. The girl turned to Sam. "So are you guys finally dating seriously or what? My mom says it's about time. If you're not going to get married you should break up already before you get too old."
Danny looked at Sam. He could tell by her reddened cheeks that she was obviously refusing to take the opportunity to say something sarcastic and simply glared at the girl.
After greeting Grandma Ida they made their way to the dining room where they found Sam's parents, impeccably dressed as ever.
"I didn't know your family was so religious," Danny said.
"We're not," Mr. Manson answered, "Well, my cousins are. My mother decided that this year she wanted all of us to celebrate our ethnic heritage and have a full-fledged traditional Passover. So she invited Jacob over to lead it."
"We haven't had a traditional Seder in many years, but Ida insisted and….well, she's getting on in years. She says I might be her last one so we're doing it her way." explained Mrs. Manson with that uncomfortable air she got whenever she was exposed to something not Barbie-doll American.
Then Grandma Ida rolled out of the kitchen and announced that it was time to start.
The festivities began with the women lighting candles and saying a brief prayer. Then they found seats at the table. Danny found himself between Sam and Ezra.
"I hope you don't mind sitting next to Ezra," Neshama said, "It's better if the boys don't sit next to each other."
"Better you than me," Sam whispered so only Danny's enhanced hearing could make it out.
At everyone's place was a booklet. Danny picked up his and flipped it open to the first page. One side was had some sort of poem about a goat which was presumably the translation of the Hebrew written on the facing page.
"You're holding it the wrong way," the kid next to him announced. "Don't you know Hebrew goes the other way?"
"Hey, it's my first Seder," Danny explained.
"You've never been to a Seder before?" Uncle Jacob asked. "Well you're in for an experience."
Sam took the book from his hands and turned the 'back' of the book before returning it to him. "Hey not everyone's been to Hebrew school."
Now that he was on the right page, the participants began to sing. Danny sat back and enjoyed the lilting melody. When it was finished he commented. "What a lovely prayer."
"That's not a prayer," Ruach explained. "That's the table of contents."
"You sing the table of contents? You're kidding me," he asked, taken aback.
"It lets you know what you're in for," Sam explained. Somehow from the expression on her face, Danny was beginning to suspect he was in for more than he bargained for.
Ezra grabbed the wine bottle and reached over to pour wine in to his glass.
Danny put his hand over his wine glass and said politely, "No thank you."
"But you have to. It's for Kiddush." by the boy's tone, he could tell he had committed another faux pas.
"It's only the first cup. It's okay. You can drink it; It's kosher."  Aunt Nechama said with a smile."
"The first cup?" Danny gulped in confusion.
"There are four," said Izzy "Everyone knows that."
"Four? Sam, I can't." Danny protested.
"Can't hold your liquor?" the boy next to him taunted.
Danny leaned down and whispered in her ear, "Pain meds."
Her eyes widened. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I did. I told you I got treated."
There was a pause while Sam went to the kitchen to get a bottle of grape juice. She explained he had to avoid alcohol because of a workplace accident.
The boys immediately wanted to know all the details. When Danny declined they came to their own conclusions.
"I bet it was something really embarrassing," said Ruach.
"Or maybe someone shot him," Izzy said excitedly. "Dad says Sam does classified stuff and so if they work together, maybe it's classified, too. Bet he's a spy or something."
"Are you a secret agent?" Ezra asked.
"You dolt," his brother scoffed, "He wouldn't tell you if he was. That's why he's called a secret agent."
"He could tell you, but then he'd have to shoot you," his sister replied.
"Then please, tell him," Izzy begged.
The boys kicked at each other under the table until their father told them to stop.
"I'm beginning to see why you refused to babysit your cousins," Danny whispered.
"You should have seen the little monsters when they were younger," Sam whispered back.
"What type of work do you do, Mr. Fenton?" Aunt Neshama asked innocently.
Danny was saved from having to explain by Grandma Ida banging on the table. "Come on. I'm not getting any younger. Let's get this show on the road."
Danny copied everyone as they held their glasses and Uncle Jacob chanted what Danny assumed was a prayer but did not ask in case it turned out to be the index or something. After drinking the ceremonies continued with a ritual hand washing. This was followed by a sprig of parsley dipped in salt water which Danny considered an odd sort of appetizer.
The man conducting the Seder lifted an embroidered piece of cloth. Danny recognized the square cardboard-like crackers as matzah that lay beneath. The man selected the middle one and carefully broke it in half. He then wrapped it in a cloth napkin and set it aside. The children jostled each other and eyed the hidden cracker like it was some rare treat.
Sam leaned toward him and explained, "That's the afikomen. It's required at the end at the Seder,
The kids try to steal it and hide it so they can later ransom it off for some sort of prize. It's a traditional game designed to keep the kids awake."
"This is the bread of our affliction which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt," the reader intoned.
"Eat that for a week and you'll see why," cackled Grandma Ida.
After another song the leader announced, "Time for the Four Questions.  Ezra, you're on."
"Why do I have to do them?" whined Ezra.
"Because you're the baby of the family." said Izzy
"Stop calling me a baby. It's no fair. I'm always youngest, why can't you be youngest sometimes?"
"I was until you came along," Izzy said resentfully.
"Just because I'm youngest, I always get stuck with everything."
"You never got stuck with changing the baby's diapers," his sister pointed out.
"That's not an appropriate topic for the dinner table," their father admonished.
"Ezra, stop complaining and just do it," demanded their mother, "You're wasting time."
Grumbling, the boy stood. Danny had to admit he had a good voice, sweet and clear.
"Mah nishtana haLila hazeh." The adults joined in on the chorus. Danny hummed along, faking it.
Then came the answer. Sometimes with songs or chants, sometimes in responsive reading in Hebrew or in English, that seemed to go on and on, the story of the exodus from Egypt was told.
To his chagrin, Danny's stomach rumbled loudly. When he heard that all the women folk of the Manson household, not to mention the hired kitchen staff had been cooking up a storm, he knew he would be called upon to do justice to their efforts. He had had enough experience with Frostbite's feasts to know how insulted a host could get when the guests refused to eat another bite. To prepare himself for, as Sam had termed it, an onslaught of Jewish mothers, he had skipped lunch. It was getting very late and one sprig of parsley was not satisfying his stomach. Delicious smells wafted from the kitchen but it seemed there were endless number of required readings and songs first.
And then there were the discussions. It seemed that four questions weren't enough and Uncle Jacob had a supply of his own. For the most part, it seemed only his immediate family was able to answer some of the esoteric details. When his eyes started to drift closed, Sam poked her finger into is ribs. He had been up fighting ghosts most of the previous night and that had been followed by a pretty busy day. The pain meds weren't helping either. He tried to disguise his yawns and saw he wasn't the only one. Dare he suggest skipping a few pages? Through it all, Grandma Ida sat smiling benignly.
It was then that he noticed that Izzy and Ruach were whispering urgently with each other and surreptitiously looking under their plates and napkins. His enhanced hearing was able to pick up some of their conversation.
"I thought you had it," whispered Izzy
"I did. It was under my plate," Ruach protested.
"…It's not there," Ezra hissed picking up the plate and checking again.
"We agreed to share. Are you trying to double cross me?" Izzy accused.
"No…I promise. Ezra must have swiped it," suggested Ruach.
"I did not!" Ezra denied.
"Well I don't have it either," Izzy hissed.
"Could Dad have stolen it back? He did that one year," Ezra speculated.
"Couldn't have. He's at the other end of the table," Ruach objected.
"Ah," thought Danny, "The afikomen." He wondered which one of the kids had it. Whoever it was must be a convincing liar. Then he noticed Grandma Ida's smug smile. She as holding her book but her eyes were directed at the whispered conversation of her grandchildren. It was then he noticed the tell-tale napkin wrapped package wedged between the cushions of her scooter. That sly fox! Well, two could play at this. Heh. Ghost powers. In moments he had the prize and was phasing it into his jacket pocket.
Eventually the action picked up once more and there was another hand washing ceremony, another cup of grape juice, and finally they were given a piece of matzah to eat. As far as crackers went, it left something to be desired. Dry, tasteless and slightly burnt, it was the cracker equivalent of toast.
Then lettuce leaves and bowls of some kind of shredded vegetable were passed around. Danny watched Sam for a clue of what he was supposed to do, but Sam was eyeing her grandmother.
"Really?" she asked.
The old woman just put on a challenging sneer, "I dare you."
"You are so on!" she said and began piling spoonfuls of the shredded white vegetable onto her piece of lettuce.
Danny followed Sam's example and heaped some on and wrapping it in his own lettuce leaf. Besides he was very hungry.
The cousins watched this with interest.
Then another bowl was passed around. It contained a brownish pasty substance. "Dip your maror in there," Sam instructed her boyfriend.
He sniffed at it suspiciously. It smelled sweet.
"That's charoset. You'll like it. It's made from ground nuts, apples, cinnamon and sweet wine."
Danny did as he was instructed. When everyone had finished constructing their packets he waited as yet another blessing was said and finally they were allowed to eat. He watched Sam take a sizable bite and followed suit. At first his tongue sampled the sweet paste but then as he chewed, the full flavor of the lettuce wrapped vegetable matter took effect. His mouth was flooded with a stringent bitterness so powerful his taste buds could only register it as pain. The pungent bitterness, clawed its way up into his nasal passages and reamed out his sinuses.
He chocked it down and began coughing. It was some time before he was recovered enough to speak.
By this time Sam and her grandmother had finished their own challenges and were laughing hysterically.
"You should have seen your face! Beet red!" hooted Grandmother Ida
Sam's face was also rather red but whether from the horseradish or amusement he couldn't tell. Probably both.
"What is that stuff?" he wheezed.
"Horseradish," laughed Sam.
"It represents the bitterness of slavery," explained Izzy.
"You sure took a lot of the hot stuff," said Ezra sounding impressed in spite of himself.
"Sam and Great Aunt Ida usually try to outdo each other but I think you might have given them a run for their money," Ruach chuckled.
"You could have warned me!" gasped Danny.
"What would be the fun in that?" chortled Ida. "An old lady has to get her kicks somehow."
"Face it," said Sam, "She got you good."
"Et tu Brute'?"  Danny slightly growled.
"Now we get to make it into a sandwich," announced Uncle Jacob.
"You're kidding me, right?" Danny asked.
"This fulfills the requirement to eat matzah and bitter herbs together. Contrary to popular belief, Rabbi Hillel invented the sandwich a couple of thousand years before the Earle of Sandwich."
"I can see why it took so long for the idea to catch on," Danny muttered.
"You might want to try using some of the romaine lettuce instead of the horseradish," suggested Aunt Neshama tactfully.
He copied the others in making and consuming a Mazoh-Maror sandwich.
Worst sandwich ever!
Then finally, the meal was served and Danny had to admit it was worth the wait. There were some odd entrées such as a boil egg in salt water and something called gefilte fish but it couldn't be denied that Grandma Ida's matzah ball soup was magnificent. There was a vegetarian version for Sam.
"Nothing beats your soup," Danny complimented, "It really helped me feel better when I was, sick."
"Glad I could help out," Ida said.
"Great Aunt Ida made you her special chicken soup? You must be really special," observed Jacob,
"She doesn't do that for just anyone."
"So what is so special about you?" Izzy asked. "Great Aunt Ida usually only makes her soup for family."
"I think I need another cup of tea," Sam said and grabbing her cup abruptly leaving the room.
"I hear you and Sam have known each other for a long time," Neshama said, her superficial casualness did not disguise the fact that she was fishing for information.
"I first met her in middle school, when she started public school," Danny answered but his gaze followed Sam's departure.
"I heard she deliberately got herself thrown out of that private school," commented Izzy.
"If you don't shape up in school they might throw you out too,"snickered his sister. "I can't believe you didn't get in trouble for convincing the substitute that you were supposed to watch a video instead of taking a test."
"Mrs. Hardwicke has it in for me, ever since I dumped the entire can of fish food in that giant fish tank she has," grumbled Ezra.
"At least I'm not 'a disruptive influence' in class" his sister smirked.
"That's because you weren't in class. Skipping class to go to the mall again?" inquired Izzy.
"And how would you know?" Ruach asked.
"I have my sources. For instance, I know it took Mrs. Hardwicke an hour to drain, clean and refill that tank," Izzy reported.
"How was I supposed to know too much fish food could kill the fish? It was an accident," whined Ezra
"Only the first time," said Izzy.
Danny excused himself and then went to find Sam. It seemed so strange that the same girl who had faced down her parents and demanded a normal public school education rather than the fancy private school was so rattled about breaking the news.
He found her in the kitchen. "It's Okay Sam, your cousins have gotten them distracted retelling their glorious misdeeds."
"But it still doesn't get you off the hook. Sam, why are you so hesitant about telling your family?"
"Because they are just going to think you're after the Manson family fame and fortune," Sam admitted.
"You know that's not true. Besides I didn't think that this was a concern to you. You always told them you would marry for love not money. The only shock is going to be that I'm not penniless," Danny prodded.
Sam frowned, "I don't like the idea of them thinking ill of you."
"Says the woman who doesn't care what others think. Besides considering what has been said about me, in both forms, I can't believe that's what's bothering you."
Seemingly, out of the blue Sam asked, "What did you think of the Seder?"
Danny was about to scold her for changing the topic, but he sensed that there was another reason for her asking. "It was ok, I guess. A few wild punches took me by surprise but I survived. At least so far. Why are you asking?"
"Well, it's a part of me. Even though we haven't had a full-blown holiday meal since I was eleven, it's part of who I am of where I've come from."
"Sam, I don't have a problem with this. I love you because of who you are and that includes how that came about, so what is it that's really bothering you? Come on. Out with it," Danny prodded.
"The trouble is my family. I used to think that I just wanted to get away from them and what they represented but, they are important to me. They're part of my past and part of who I am. No matter where I run, somehow they are always there in the back of my brain. Whether I like it or not my family is part of my future; part of our future." Sam ran her hands through her hair in frustration, trying to find the words to express how she felt.
"If you're asking me if I'm willing to have them in our lives, the answer is: yes. They may not especially like me but I think for your sake their willing to give us a chance." Danny added under his breath "I hope."
"That's the problem. We're not really giving my parents a chance. No matter how friendly we are to each other, there's always going to be this secret between us that will keep us apart, keep us from being a family. I think that is why they don't trust you. There has been too many odd things that don't add up. My parents know there is something I'm not telling them and it has to do with you."
Oh. Danny ran his hands over the back of his neck. "Do you think they're going to be able to handle it? "
"I hate seeing the hurt in their eyes when they know we're lying to them. I don't want to start our marriage off with lies."
"It's quite a secret to keep. It would be asking a lot of them."
"We're already asking a lot of them. They just don't know it. They deserve to know."
"It could complicate things for them," Danny warned.
"I have reason believe Grandma Ida probably already has her suspicions. The truth might be better than what they imagine."
Danny nodded. "Before my parents found out the truth, they were beginning to wonder if I was involved with drugs or gangs."
"Considering what a rebellious teenager I was, it might be surprising to find that I care about my parents. I want them to be part of my life."
Danny nodded again. "It used to tear me up inside that first year when I was keeping it a secret from my parents. Then again, I also had to contend with the worry that my parents might tear me apart molecule by molecule."
"Well at least you don't have to worry about that with my parents," Sam said with a smile.
"I'm not so sure. I think your father implied that if I ever broke your heart he would tear me apart limb from limb. You're their daughter, and they love you."
"And I love them."
"Then it looks like we both have something to tell your parents."
"Come on, let's get back to the table before they wonder what we're doing and sent out a search party," Sam said.
When they returned to their seats, Grandma Ida gave them a searching look. When she turned away the faint knowing smile on her lips was quite disconcerting.
At last, the meal drew to a close. By then it was close to midnight. The kids had run off to play leaving the adults to talk. The good food had left everyone feeling warm and sated. Even Pamela and Jeremy were looking contented. Danny was contemplating how to break news when Uncle Jacob called for his children.
"Ok," he said with mock sternness. "Which one of your rapscallions has stolen the afikomen?"
"Dad we don't have it."
"Don't tell me that. I know one or all three of you have taken it. So 'fess up and tell me what you payment you want."
It was then that Danny remembered that he had stolen it. He wondered what sort of ransom he could get for it.
"No really, we don't have it. We looked all over," the children insisted.
"Driving a hard bargain, huh? How about I give you each a dollar?"
"A dollar?!" was the indignant cry.
"It doesn't matter how much you offer them," said Ida with a smirk, "Because they don't have it! I do! It's right he…. Hey! I've been robbed!"
"Let's just say it's payback for that trick you pulled on me with the horseradish," Danny grinned as he drew the cloth wrapped package from his pocket.
Exclamations of surprise and laughter echoed around the room.
"Well my boy," Uncle Jacob turned to his new bargaining partner. "Would you be willing to part with it for a dollar?"
Danny made a show of pretending to think about it before shaking his head.
"Let me rephrase that" Uncle Jacob continued, "For the low, low price of a dollar, I'll take that off your hands and we can continue the Seder as opposed to sitting here all night."
"Actually there is something I want but I need to negotiate with our esteemed host and hostess."
With a mock bow, Jacob turned the bargaining over to Jeremy and Pamela.
Sam caught Danny's eye. She saw the mischievous lift to his lips and mouthed, "You wouldn't dare…"
Danny found his heart hammering in his chest and he had to clear his throat before turning back to Sam's father.
With formal solemnity he asked, "Sir, we would ask for your blessing."
Mr. and Mrs. Manson gasped, "What?"
Sam lifted her hand from her lap, displaying the engagement ring. "We're getting married and we would like to have your blessing."
A moment of stunned silence filled the room.
Then Grandma Ida raised her hands and let loose a warble of triumph, "Ha! It's about time!"
The cousins joined in clapping and thumping the table as they laughed at the chutzpah18 of it all.
Mr. and Mrs. Manson sat stoically. Danny and Sam searched their faces looking for some sign of approval in their severe expressions. By degrees, the growing tension forced the others to silence.
"Mr. Fenton," Jeremy frowned, "A scant two weeks ago, you told me you had no intentions in regards to my daughter and now you inform me you are getting married?"
"Yes, sir," Danny said respectfully, "At the time I thought I was doing the right thing or rather I was really doing the wrong thing for the right reason or maybe the right thing for the wrong reason. But then Sam.. uh… explained that by trying to do the right thing, I was really doing the wrong thing and the reason was because I was being stupid about doing the right thing and…." Danny broke off realizing that he wasn't making and sense. "I love your daughter with all my heart and soul and would do anything to make her happy. And it seems what would most make her happy is to marry me."
"Mr. Fenton, I'll be candid with you. My daughter may think that you will make her happy and no doubt you are a handsome young man, but marriage is a lifelong proposition and I have reason to have misgivings about your ability to stick with a long term commitment. I have seen your transcript and frankly, it leaves much to be desired. You barely scraped through high school with a GED and then you enrolled in the local community college where you took an odd assortment of classes but failed to obtain a degree."
Technically he did have a degree, several of them in fact, but he didn't think honorary ones counted.
"It's hard to go to school and work at the same time. I've been doing some very important work that has taken priority over my schooling, but I do try to take classes where I can."
"And what work is that?" the older man asked.
"I'm a sort of consultant for human-ghost relations among other things," Danny gave him the official job description.
In other words, it was a cover for being Phantom. Now for the tricky part; how was he going to clue Sam's parents his identity without letting the rest of the table in on the secret.
"What exactly, does that mean?" Jeremy probed.
Danny shifted uncomfortably, "I can't talk about it."
"Work you won't talk about," Mr. Manson's cold sneer gave his opinion on the value of his work.
"And you still live in your parent's house." This time the intended insult was obvious.
"I often work with them. It's been convenient," Danny answered aloud while mentally adding - to Amity Park's ghost portal.
Mrs. Manson's voice dripped with contempt, "And where do you intend to live when you get married?"
"I guess, I hadn't thought about it. I know my folks will be happy to make room for us or I suppose we can get an apartment somewhere. Sam and I really haven't talked about it yet." Danny shrugged weakly.
"I also question if you have the means to provide for yourself much less my daughter and any future children you may have," Jeremy stated disdainfully.
Danny's lips compressed into a tight line. He felt Sam grip his hand and under the table.
"I do have a job, sir."
"Tell me, Mr. Fenton, what are your financial assets?" Pamela asked haughtily.
It was the snide tone of the remarks that pushed Danny into replying with less humility than he had cultivated before. He addressed his answer to Sam's father. "Actually you have a fairly good idea already, since your company already manages my account. It's the 'big' one."
"I do not believe that we have an account for you." He replied tartly.
"It's under a pseudonym and handled by proxy."
"That is unusual."
"I'm an unusual client. It is imperative that I keep my business private. We had this understanding from the day we first set up the account. Our first meeting was eight years ago. Even though I made an appointment I recall you seemed a bit surprised to see me enter your office."
This was because he had come in through the window.
"You were startled and spilled your coffee, which stained your tie. I remember this because the tie was an unusual one. You said it had been a father's day gift from your daughter who could make the ordinary extraordinary."
Jeremy Manson stared at Danny wordlessly.
Danny wasn't sure what to make of Jeremy's silence. He wished the man would give some sign of recognition. He cleared his throat and went on.
"Perhaps you don't remember what you were wearing at the time but you probably remember setting up the account. This was because not only did I ask your law firm to handle my legal issues but asked you to handle my financial affairs as well.
Things had certainly changed since the day when he came through the window with a couple of shoeboxes of jumbled financial papers.
"In the years since that day you have handled law suits, legal claims, and charges, legal documents, treaties, agreements, contracts, taxes, royalties, bank accounts, and personal expenses although I believe that you have contracted out funding of sponsored charities."
Mr. Manson's eyes narrowed with suspicion. There was only one account that covered all that. How could Danny Fenton know all about that? This account always had the upmost security measures surrounding it.
"This may have been 'putting all my eggs in one basket' but from the security point of view it let me 'watch the basket carefully' by limiting the number of people who had access."
Danny stared directly into his future father-in-law's eyes and said sincerely, "I knew I could trust you because you are a man of honor. I knew this because, I knew your daughter. Even then, she was my moral compass. The man who had raised her to be a person of impeccable integrity could be trusted."
Was that understanding glimmering in the man's eyes?
"This eventually led to your firm expanding so it could offer similar services to other clients attracted by the reputation your company acquired as being my legal and financial representative. At first, you dealt with my affairs in Amity Park but that grew to include not just local business dealings but also national, international and even inter-dimensional."
They gazed at each other as if they were the only two people in the room. Danny saw the older man's eyes widen with realization.
"…but, that's Ph…
"Fenton's account under an alias. Yes." Danny interrupted quickly before he could say more. "You understand why it is necessary that you keep this information confidential."
"Then you're…." Mr. Mason gasped.
"Yes." Danny nodded in confirmation.
"It's a long story." Danny rubbed the back of his neck.
Pamela's moved her head back and forth between Danny and her husband who sat with his mouth gaping open. "Jeremy?" she asked hesitantly.
He husband blinked and turned to her and said a bit woodenly, "I'll explain later."
"It's a lot to take in all at once," Danny agreed with a sheepish smile. "I think Sam and I need to have a talk with you about this after we've all had a chance to get a good night's sleep."
"What's all this about?" asked a bewildered Aunt Neshama.
"I'm afraid I can't explain any further but suffice it to say you need not worry for Sam's financial well being." Jeremy stated.
All things considered his reply was amazingly composed. Note to self: Remind me never to play poker with him, Danny thought.
He handed over the afikomen. "I'm sorry if I disrupted your Seder."
"I'm not!" Grandma Ida chortled happily. "And if Jeremy and Pamela don't give you their blessing, I do. Mazel Tov!"
"Mother?" Jeremy asked, "Did you know about all…this?"
"Oh I figured it out years ago," she crowed, "and here you were thinking that I was just some senile old lady."
"And you didn't tell me?!" her son asked.
"It wasn't my secret to tell." She grinned like the proverbial cat that ate the canary.
"What's going on?" demanded Izzy.
"It's the happily ever after," said Ida. "It turns out our pauper is really the prince and can marry the princess after all. So if you behave yourselves, you'll be invited to the palace to dance at the wedding."
"What?" Ezra asked confused.
"Danny isn't a bum after all, so Aunt Pamela and Uncle Jeremy won't mind if they get married," Ruach translated.
The afikomen was broken into pieces and distributed. Sam ate her piece with relish. "This has been the best dessert I've ever had," she declared.
A third cup of wine was poured but just as Jacob was about to start the grace after meals, a cold chill invaded Danny's chest. A coughing fit disguised the blue mist that issued from his mouth.
"Uh, excuse me. I think all the excitement has gotten to me," Danny murmured and beat a retreat down the hall.
"He'll be fine," Sam assured them. "Don't wait. It could be a while."
With a shrug, her uncle began chanting the grace after meals. In times past, she had chaffed at its length but for once Sam was glad as it bought time for Danny to get back. Along with her prayers of thanks for the food they had eaten, she added a few silent ones of her own that Danny was alright and would be back quickly.
When the fourth cup of wine was filled Danny still hadn't returned.
"Should we check to see if he's okay?" asked Mrs. Manson.
Sam stalled for time. "No, sometimes he gets like this he'll be back when he's ready."
"Time for Elijah,"  announced the leader and the kids hurried to the door to open it.
Screams echoed down the hall. In Amity Park that usually meant one thing.
"Ghost!" Ezra wailed. "There's a ghost!"
In the distance a car alarm blared.
"Welcome to Amity Park," said Sam a bit dryly.
When Danny had left the table, the singing faded behind him as he ducked into an empty room, morphed into Phantom, and phased out of the house. He hoped he could find the ghost quickly before he was missed.
Ah there it was, coming through that clump of trees!
Not especially odd looking as far as ghost go, but he didn't recognize the large spikes attached to its head and neck. From its wordless moaning he assessed it as being a relatively low level ghost of the mindless sort.
He powered up and let loose with a series of coordinated blasts that hemmed it in and then knocked it down. Now to suck it into the Fenton thermos….oops, must have left it in the car. No matter, with a bit of luck he could grab it and be back before it had a chance to retaliate.
Good thing he didn't need keys to get into his car. He turned his arm intangible and reached under the seat. Blast, it must have rolled. As he was fishing around for it a sudden shock of impact slammed the part of him that was still tangible into the body of the car. Danny jerked around as the car alarm began to whoop.
He was confronted by a second ghost. He'd been careless; the first one had a partner. With a shout, Danny dodged a swipe from the peculiar weapon it balanced between three of its hairy hands. It was sort of a cross between a sword and a shield but he had no doubt that the sharpened edge could do damage. Danny deflected the next blow with a shield of his own and backed up to get more space only to be hit with an ecto-beam from behind.
The first one had recovered. Stupid! He admonished himself. He must have been really distracted to forget about an adversary that he had hurt enough to irritate but not to incapacitate.
Danny reached for altitude so he wouldn't be sandwiched between them. He could now see what the spikes were for as it fired a multitude of thin rays in all directions.
The blade-bearing beast came after him while the other stayed back to use its long range weapons. Hmm. They may not speak but he had probably underestimated their intelligence and power level. He really needed that thermos. He maneuvered until the multi armed ghost was between him and the spiked one so that it unintentionally provided a shield from its partner. Concentrating he switched to his ice ray and coated the beast with a layer of ice. Some ghosts were resistant to his ice powers but fortunately not this one. It plummeted from the sky to land with a crash on the Manson's front lawn.
Danny didn't stick around to watch. As soon as the ghost began to fall, Danny let loose with the same series of shots that had knocked it down the first time.
Some ghosts don't learn.
Putting on a burst of speed, he swooped back toward his car and dove in, grabbing the thermos off the floor in the back seat. He flipped around and fired again.
By now, doors were opening and curious residents looked out to see what was going on. He'd better make this quick before some bystander got hurt. Activating the Fenton thermos he sucked up the frozen ghost from the front lawn. Maybe they'd be able to plant a nice flower bed in the depression.
The spiked ghost was heading his way now. It seemed to be conserving its firepower. Danny again rose into the air and the creature moved under him flexing its spines to move more of them into firing position. Calling up a shield Danny withstood the onslaught but was knocked back a few meters. Then he put more energy into his shield and dropped into a sudden dive. Turning his legs into his spectral tail he put on more speed and slammed shield first into the ghost's back. The sound of the impact reverberated down the street. Danny picked himself up. His adversary lay unmoving, its collection of spikes spread limply around its neck like a mane.
When the blue light from the thermos faded he saw the wide-eyed stares of Sam's cousins.
"Hello, kids, It's safe. I got them locked up now."
"You're Danny Phantom!" they yelled excitedly.
"Yes, and you're Ezra and Izzy, I think you owe Mrs. Hardwicke an apology. Ruach, I wouldn't cut class to go to the mall, any more if I were you."
"Yes, sir!" they squeaked.
"And happy Passover!" He called over his shoulder as he flew upward.
Danny turned invisible and intangible and phased into the house. He passed through the dining room and was surprised to see no one there. Taking advantage of the moment, he turned tangible long enough to pick up Sam's purse and stuff the Fenton thermos inside and drop it back under her chair. In his haste, he bumped into the table as he flew back to the bathroom. He released his Phantom form. He washed his face and checked himself in the mirror to make sure he was presentable.
Coming out of the bathroom, he almost ran into Mrs. Manson. She looked at him through narrowed eyes. "Where did you come from? There was no one in there a second ago."
Danny shrugged and then rubbed his aggravated shoulder. "Uh….," but he was saved from answering by everyone returning from the front hall.
"You missed all the excitement! Phantom was here! We saw him catch a ghost and everything," Izzy shouted.
"Wow," said Danny trying and failing to sound enthusiastic.
"I suppose, being a resident of Amity Park you take such things for granted. But it was very exciting and rather frightening for us," said Aunt Neshama.
"How did he know it was Passover?" asked Izzy
"How did he know I skipped class?" asked Ruach.
"How did he know about Mrs. Hardwicke?" asked Ezra.
"How did he know your names?" asked their mother.
Since these were four questions no one was volunteering to answer, the all filed back into the dining room.
Then Ezra pointed to the wine glass in the center of the table, wide-eyed. "Look! Elijah's cup! It's shaking. He must have been here. He must have taken a sip!" 
Danny looked at the glass in question. It was taller than the rest. Danny realized that its height must have matched the natural frequency of motion when he jarred the table allowing it to keep rocking after the other glasses had stilled. Danny didn't want to explain what he was doing in the dining room while he was supposedly in the bathroom, so he kept quiet. Well one more question wouldn't matter at this point.
After much excited speculation, they finally returned to the table for the conclusion of the Seder. Lots and lots of songs and chanting during which Sam helpfully poked him to keep him from nodding off. He wasn't the only one he noticed. At last yawning and stretching the participants rose and bid each other goodnight. Danny thanked everyone for inviting him.
"Well how did you like the Seder?" Grandma Ida asked as they put on their coats.
"Well, I survived," he answered cheerfully, "But I'm glad it's only once a year."
Just as he moved to open the front door, Aunt Neshama asked them innocently, "Danny, since you
are practically family, are you going to be here for the second Seder tomorrow night?"
Danny turned to Sam. "She's kidding, right?"
Danny did not like the knowing smirk that spread across her face, and groaned.
1 Passover Offering – inside joke. Refers to the sacrifice offered at Passover as described in the bible. Poor Danny is the lamb for the slaughter.
2 Chometz – foods forbidden on Passover
3 Kippah – Hebrew. Also called Yalmulka in Yiddish. Skull cap. Worn by Jewish males as a sign of respect to G-d.
4 Keffiyah – Arab headdress. A cloth tied around the head with a rope circlet. Provides protection from the sun.
5Goy – Yiddish. A non-Jew
6 Hod Gad Yah – "One little goat" a song sung at the end of the Seder. It's sort of a "she ate the spider that ate the fly" type of kids' song but is also interpreted for deeper meaning. Actually, it's not even Hebrew but Aramaic.
7 Seder means order and yes, it begins with singing the table of contents.
8 Kiddush – blessing said over wine to sanctify holidays
9Kosher – acceptable according to Jewish law. This usually refers to food but can mean other things. Slang: right (as in there's something not kosher about this black market deal) On Passover there are additional restrictions. A common holiday greeting is to wish someone a "happy and kosher Passover."
10 Afikomen – Greek. Dessert. The rules of the game vary according to country of origin and family tradition.
11 The four questions – One purpose of the Seder is to pass the experience on to the next generation. Teaching is done in response to questions. The four questions help get the ball rolling. Many of the odd rituals are designed to prompt questions. Usually said by the youngest present able to ask.
12 Mah nishtana haLila hazeh? – Why is this night different?
13 Maror – Bitter herbs. Represents the bitterness of slavery.
14 Charoset – the recipe varies. It represents the mortar used by the Jewish slaves when building Pharaoh's cities.
15Et tu Brute – You too, Brutus? Latin. From Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. What Julius Caesar supposedly said when he realized he had been stabbed by his best friend.
16 The Earle of Sandwich – accredited with the invention of the sandwich. He supposedly put meat and bread together so he wouldn't have to take time out from gambling to eat lunch.
17 True story – this is how my husband and I broke the news of our engagement to my parents.
18Chutzpah – Yiddish. Audacity with an attitude.
19 Elijah the Prophet – associated with a variety of miracles and the heralding of the messiah. He is symbolically invited to the Seder as well as other Jewish events.
20 True story – a friend of my father told the story of when he was a kid a friend of the family waited outside the door draped in a sheet for the kids to open the door for Elijah so he could jump out a say 'boo!'
21 Elijah's Cup - A special cup is poured for the Prophet Elijah. He supposedly takes a tiny sip from his cup at every Seder.
22 Second Seder – Outside of Israel a Seder is held on both the first and second nights of Passover.