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The first thing Jazz saw when she walked through the door was the busted-up wreck of the nasty looking gun her mother had been toting around in the van all week. The sight of it snatched her breath away, like an iron grip on her lungs. She dropped the bag of groceries in her hand. 

Oh no, oh no

She had only been gone for ten minutes  at most. Why did she leave  god why did she leave, this wouldn’t have happened if she’d stayed home, she knew going out was a bad idea, she knew she shouldn’t have- 

Before panic completely set in, Jazz closed her eyes and gave herself a moment to breathe, deep breath in, slow breath out. In, out. In, out. She opened her eyes and looked again, more closely. Okay, okay so the gun was broken, it was broken which meant Danny had destroyed it, which meant he was okay. He wasn’t lying in pieces in the street- 

Deep breaths Jazz deep breaths

Mom had brought it home, so she was okay, she had dumped it on the kitchen floor instead of taking it back to the lab, she was angry, she didn’t want to look at it, she had failed. Danny wasn’t down in the lab shot full of holes bleeding out- 

In through the nose out through the mouth, slow breaths, slow breaths.

She should go check, just in case, just to be sure. 

Jazz stepped over the twisted metal and headed down the stairs, her footsteps quick and light, her heartbeat was loud, it felt like a hammer inside her chest. He was fine, he was fine, he was fine.

As the lab came into view she could see her mother leaning over her workstation. Arms extended out propping herself up, head hanging low, her sobs echoed off the metal walls. As Jazz approached, Maddie picked up a wrench and lobbed it across the room with a guttural cry. Jazz shrieked as it smashed into a metal filing unit to her right, leaving a massive dent in the front panel, the frame crunched and buckled and a haphazard stack of blueprints sitting on top slipped off and scattered across the floor. 

“Oh my god Jazz! I’m so sorry I didn’t hear you!” Maddie rushed to her side and wrapped her in a sideways hug. “I’m so sorry, are you okay?” 

Jazz gripped onto her mother’s arms as she stared at the mess, breathing ragged. 

In, out. In, out. In, out.

“Yeah, yeah just,” she swallowed, “Gimme a minute.” 

Danny wasn’t down here, she would have felt relieved, but her mother’s sudden violent outburst had rattled her. It seemed to have rattled Maddie too, the hands clinging to Jazz were shaking. 

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry sweetheart I don’t know what I was thinking I just-” 

Jazz pulled away and took a hold of Maddie’s trembling hands, she pressed her forehead against her mother’s. 

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked, gently. 

She felt Maddie nod, and brought their hands up between them, holding tight. 

“I messed up,” Maddie’s voice was hoarse with pain. “He was so sure this one would work, he put everything he had into it, it was the last thing he made and I-” 

Jazz recalled the giant gun, almost entirely split down the centre. Irreparable. 

I messed up.” Maddie brought their hands closer to her, clutching desperately. “And now it’s destroyed and I can’t fix it because Jack is-” as soon as his name fell from her lips she lost her composure once more, Jazz pulled one of her hands free and used it to wipe the tears from her mother’s cheek. 

“Dad wouldn’t care if his gun was destroyed mom, he’d care that you didn’t get hurt.” 

“But it was the last one he ever-” 

“You still have all of the others.” Jazz pressed, “Every other invention he ever made, you still have them all. More importantly, you still have every moment you spent together, you still have a life’s worth of memories and good times and bad times and who cares about some  gun.” 

She brushed her mother’s hair out of her face. 

“I just thought, I thought if I could catch him, he could tell me where to find that Wisconsin son of a bitch.” Maddie spat, “They’re enemies so if anyone knew how to find him, how to destroy him-” 

Jazz’s breath stilled, oh, oh.

“You wanted to catch him... because you wanted his help?” 

“I don’t NEED his help!” Maddie pulled away slightly, rubbing the tears from her eyes, “I just, I think he could be useful. If I could just catch him long enough to interrogate him I could-” 

“Have you considered... maybe just asking?” Jazz suggested. Her mother looked at her as though she’d been slapped. “Look, hear me out! Phantom hates the Wisconsin Ghost, they’ve been mortal enemies for years, so don’t you think he might be willing to, you know, maybe hold a temporary truce? Enemy of my enemy and all?”

Maddie didn’t say no. She didn’t say anything, but that alone said that she was listening.

“I know you don’t want to hear this, but you have to ask yourself what’s more important, capturing Phantom, or taking down the Wisconsin Ghost? Because realistically? You might not be able to have both.

Jazz dropped a light kiss to her mother’s forehead and gave her a quick hug before heading back up the stairs, she’d planted the seed, now she just had to wait and see what would grow. 

As she reached the kitchen she picked up the groceries from the floor. It was mostly ready-made frozen meals, some canned goods, cereals, energy bars. Things that were easy to eat and wouldn’t perish too quickly, an appetite was a rare thing in this house these days, but still someone had to replenish the kitchen. 

As she passed the living room to head upstairs she paused, she could hear the shower running. So Danny was home. She wondered what her father was doing, when he wasn’t talking to Danny. Had he been down in the lab? Had he seen all of that? She tried to think about what he would be doing if he wasn’t a ghost, if he was still alive. When Maddie was sad, he would comfort her, but when she was angry, he usually kept his distance until she cooled off. Maddie had likely come into the house angry when she’d thrown the gun to the floor.

Jazz stared at the empty living room, hoping to see something, anything.

She walked over to the TV and flipped through the channels, one of Jack’s favourite fishing shows was on. She turned the volume up a few notches and went upstairs, the sound of running water had stopped. Danny opened the bathroom door just as Jazz hit the landing, he turned to her as he rubbed a towel over his hair. 

“Oh hey,” he cocked his head, as if listening to something. “Is that... Fishing Adventures?” 

“Yeah, I thought dad might like something to watch.” She pursed her lips, wondering why Danny hadn’t thought to do it first. 

“Oh,” Danny breathed, “Good, he’s already better at flying than I am, if he’d figured out tangibility already-” 

“He what?” Jazz  exclaimed. “Is that why you got in a fight with mom? You took dad flying?" 

“I didn’t ‘take him flying’!” Danny hissed quietly, eyes flickering down the staircase. “He figured out gravity didn’t work for him anymore, I barely got a word out before he shot through the ceiling!” 

He pulled the towel down off his head, he didn’t need it, Jazz had seen him phase water off his body plenty of other times, but he seemed to like keeping a sense of normalcy when he was at home, when he could. He didn’t even use his powers to help him with chores any more. He didn’t use them for a lot of things, even if it made them easier. 

“Have you talked to mom?” Jazz asked. She had warned him to stay away from her, she had warned him.  

“No, I heard her come in but, she sounded pretty mad.” 

“Yeah, that’s an understatement.” Jazz scoffed, “But I talked to her, she’s okay. For now.” 

Danny looked at her, his face unreadable. 

“...There’s something else, isn’t there?” 

He could be so annoyingly observant sometimes. 

“Yeah so, mom is...” Jazz gestured vaguely with her hands, as if trying to physically pluck the right words from the air. “She wants to interrogate Phantom for information about Plasmius. So I... suggested that maybe she should consider a truce?” 

Danny’s eyes went wide, his expression had transformed from slightly annoyed to startled and anxious. 

“Look I don’t know if she’s gonna go for it,” Jazz backtracked quickly, she didn’t want to give him any false hope. “But I’ve given her the idea, so just, keep it in mind if she starts acting different around Phantom, or says that she wants to talk, okay?” 

Danny nodded, frowning. 

“Okay,” he looked pensive, “But I’m not sure if it’s a good idea.” 

“Why not?! You aren’t revealing Vlad’s identity, mom won’t know anything she doesn’t need to know, Vlad wouldn’t dare reveal his identity to her right now. Which means he won’t reveal yours either.” 

It was sound, it was the perfect plan. 

“If we back him into a corner he might.” Danny growled. 

“All we need to do is show him that we aren’t going to back down without a fight.” Jazz hissed, “Take the wind out of his sales, he thinks he has all the cards right now if we can just show him that we aren’t defenceless he might-” 

We can’t risk it.”

“YOU can’t risk it!” Jazz felt her face heating up. “I’m trying to be understanding Danny I am trying, but Vlad will be walking right into that door any day now and mom will welcome him with open fucking arms." 

She felt like she was overstepping, but she had been holding back so much frustration, so much rage. She knew it wasn’t Danny’s fault, none of this was Danny’s fault, but she was only human, she could only do so much and she was doing so much, all of that paperwork, the cleaning, the cooking, the groceries, the entire fucking funeral and this was something only Danny could do why couldn’t he just do something.

“I can’t just sit by and let him walk all over us!” Stop stop“I can’t do it anymore,” Too far too far. “Maybe you’re willing to sit on your hands as dad watches his own murderer claw his way into our lives but I won’t just lay down and take it! I can’t!”

She shouldn’t have said it. She knew she shouldn’t have said it. But she felt so helpless, and Danny was just standing there, face entirely unreadable, he should have been angry at her. She wanted him to be angry at her. She wanted him to be something, but all week he’d given her nothing, no rage no fear no anger nothing since the night he beat Vlad into the ground, he had felt something then, he had shown something then, what was stopping him from doing that now? He had all the power, so much more power than he ever even let on, why wouldn’t he use it, did he even care?

Jazz shoved him. He barely moved. She shoved him again even harder. 

“Why won’t you do something!” she cried, “You’re the only one who can so why?”

She shoved him again, pushing against him with all her strength but he didn’t move, it was like pushing a rock. He was so strong, and he was doing nothing. Danny took her hands gently, she pulled away, balling her hands into fists and beating at his chest. 

No! Be angry! Show me that you care! Show me that you care please! Show me something!” He grabbed her fists, she twisted and tried to pull away, but he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her in, hugging her tight. 

No.” she cried into his shoulder, “It’s not fair.

It wasn’t fair. Nothing was fair. It wasn’t fair that dad died. It wasn’t fair that Vlad had gotten away with it. It wasn’t fair that she had to be the one to hold the family together. It wasn’t fair that she had to cry. It wasn’t fair that Danny could keep it together while she was falling to pieces. She was supposed to be supporting him. She was his rock. 

I am angry.” he whispered.

Jazz stilled, her breath caught in her throat, she could feel his chest rumble unnaturally with the words. The air grew cold around them.

“But I can level entire buildings with my  voice , Jazz.”

The rumble had permeated the air, a picture frame dropped from the wall. A lightbulb popped. Jazz was losing feeling in her arms, her tears froze on her face. She could feel the ice crystals forming on her eyelashes. 

He pulled back. The air went still once more. 

“I’m sorry.” It wasn’t enough, but it was all she could say. 

“We’ll get him, Jazz. We will.” he put a comforting hand on her shoulder, it was cold, but not icy. 

“That was awful Danny I’m sorry I shouldn’t have-” 

“No, you shouldn’t have.” he sighed. “But you didn’t mean it.” 

“Yeah.” 

She did. She did mean it. And she hated herself for it.