Warning: Religious Reference

Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom

I wish to thank NebulousMistress, who's story "Last Will and Testament" inspired my muse. What if Jack was a bit more repentant? And Truephan who Beta'd

AN: This takes place post Phantom Planet. Vlad has been rescued and Danny is recovering from prior adventures.

Yam Kipper Surprise

It was a one of those bright early fall days in September that seemed to be trying to hold onto summer. Jack was closest to the door when it rang so he opened it. Sam greeted him cheerfully as she stepped over the threshold.

"What's the occasion?" he asked when he saw that she was wearing much more conservative clothing than she usually wore.

"It's one of those Jewish holidays. I'm supposed to be at Temple [1] but I'd thought I'd take a break and check on Danny. It's boring just standing around praying the whole day."

"Maddie emerged from the lab. "Oh hi, Sam, can I get you something to eat?"

"No, it's Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I'm fasting."

"Then how about something to drink?" Maddie offered.

"Can't drink either. Fasting is supposed to help focus the guilty conscious on asking for forgiveness for our sins. How's Danny?"

"He's upstairs. He's just had a treatment so he's going to be a bit worn out."

Jack watched Sam head up the stairs. He couldn't help thinking about Sam's holiday: this yam kippers, or something. It sounded like that awful space food on Vlad's mission: yam-smelt surprise.

All this talk about guilt made him think about his own guilty conscious. He had justified it. Vlad had betrayed them all. He put the world at risk in his quest to rule it. Surely, someone who was willing to risk extinguishing every living thing did not deserve mercy. And he had betrayed him personally. In his desire to discredit him, Vlad had sabotaged the mission he had financed. What kind of sick mind puts that above saving the world?

But in his heart Jack knew he was guilty of murder. Not just the thought of it, but actually carrying it out. He had always thought he would never stoop to such a thing, but in a moment of weakness, he had done the unthinkable. What did his family think of him?

There were only a handful of people who knew the whole truth. The government believed that he had been unable to recover Vlad because Plasmius didn't cooperate or the ectoradium prevented it. For a while he tried to convince himself that it was true. They hadn't heard Vlad begging not to be left to die in space.

He told himself that he made up for it later with rescuing Vlad. But it was for selfish reasons; it didn't count, his conscious told him.

He knew Vlad blamed him for the accident in college. And for stealing Maddie. But Vlad was blind to the fact that Maddie never really loved him. Maddie respected him, liked him, felt sorry for him, cared for him, even. But it was Jack who loved him as a friend and brother. That's why it hurt so much when Vlad refused to let them see him in the hospital even after the quarantine had been lifted. They hadn't even known he was released from the hospital until they heard of Vlad's success in the financial market.

Truth be told, a part Jack hadn't wanted to see him, either. It meant facing his guilt. His complete disregard for lab safety was nothing short of being criminally negligent. It didn't matter that they had believed in those days that ecto-energies would have absolutely no effect on humans like neutrinos, they would pass harmlessly though real-world matter. [2]

So when Vlad, responded to his letter with a curt form letter that the CEO of Vladco was not interested in corresponding with him at this time, he didn't seek him out. They didn't seem to have anything in common anymore. Vlad had moved on with his life, so they thought.

Vlad blamed him for the accident but the ghost powers were way cool. True, the man had spent a year in the hospital but he had then had gone on to become fabulously wealthy and powerful. He should have been thanking me!

Again his conscience reminded him that his own son had tried to get rid of his powers when he was given the choice. After all, having those posers meant that his son was the one to stand in harm's way, the one to pay the price. He suspected Danny had come close to dying more than his son ever let on. In fact he was sure of it. It would explain those times when Danny had woken up screaming from nightmares, and he would simply tell him that 'he didn't want to talk about it,' as he wiped the sweat from his face with a shaking hand.

Danny had also told him, "Vlad's the only one that can understand." What else did he not know about that made his son turn to his arch enemy for answers? He shuddered to think about it.

Still Jack had never tried to tell Vlad he was sorry. Maybe if he had taken the effort to ask for forgiveness, Vlad wouldn't have let his resentment fester in his mind all those years. Once again Jack could feel his guilt festering in his own heart. Vlad deserved it, he argued with himself. But then again, who was he to judge? His conscience mocked him. In his own moment in the Garden of Gethsemane he had failed and chosen betrayal.

With a sigh, Jack stood and walked to the kitchen where Maddie was washing some pots.

"Are you going out? Could you pick up some milk and stamps on your way back?" she asked when she saw him pick up the keys to the GAV from the hook on the wall.

Her brow creased as she noticed her husband's uncharacteristically troubled expression. "Honey, is there anything wrong?"

"No, just thinking…about Vlad."

Maddie sighed and gave her husband a sympathetic smile. "Do you have any particular requests for dinner?" Food had an almost magical ability to cheer him up.

He looked thoughtful. "I think I'm going to go over to Vlad's and try a helping of that Yam-Kipper Surprise that Sam was talking about."

1 It was told to me as sort of a joke but there's some truth to it. As a rule of thumb, Reform Jews call their places of worship temple, Conservative Jews call it a synagogue, and Orthodox Jews call it a shul.

2 Neutrinos are small subatomic particles. At the time of their college days, it was unclear whether neutrinos had any mass at all.