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Jack stared at the glowing circle on the ground, and then glanced up to his son, who offered a small smile and a shrug. He had that look on his face like he knew he was about to be in trouble, it was one Jack was very familiar with.

“Danny.” He said in a low growl, in a tone he usually reserved for when his kids were in trouble. 

“Look dad, I know how you feel about magic but-” 

“Ahpbupbup no buts!” Jack raised a finger to the air, pointedly. “I may be a ghost but this is still a house of SCIENCE. We don’t do that occult mumbo jumbo around here.” 

Not only was it all nonsense, but it was the kind of thing that inspired kids to go running around in the night killing goats or whathaveyou on Halloween or full moons or during one of those equinox things. It was dangerous, it was a bad influence, and it had no basis in science. It had been hard enough convincing people to take the existence of ghosts seriously, it was people going around using crystals to ‘cure cancer’ that gave his field of study a bad name. 

He pointed at Sam, who was sitting cross legged with a book in her lap, muttering to herself over some notes. 

“You can tell Sam to clean up this mess, whatever you’re planning we can figure it out the real way, with REAL science.” Jack crossed his arms, emphasising that his words were final. This was still his house, and he wasn’t going to let his death get in the way of enforcing the house rules. Danny couldn’t just go around doing whatever he liked just because Jack couldn’t physically stop him, he still needed to show some respect. 

“Okay,” Danny began, speaking very cautiously. “Okay dad, I get it, but please let me explain what we’re doing here. Please?”

Jack rubbed at his chin, frowning as Danny continued. 

“Right now as a spirit, you are incredibly fragile. Mom’s blast almost destroyed you and it barely even grazed you.” Danny’s voice held a pleading tone, “If Vlad comes back here, if he finds out you’re here, he’ll wipe you out without a second thought.” 

“...Maybe you’re right,” Jack admitted, “But I don’t see how magic of all things is going to help when we have a whole lab full of equipment that we could-” 

“Your stuff isn’t equipped for this!” Danny cut him off. “You aren’t made of ectoplasm, your body can hardly even handle ectoplasm, that’s why I could barely make you so much as visible without tearing you apart!” 

“Danny,” Jazz stepped forward and placed a hand on her brother’s shoulder. “Let me.” 

Finally, Jack thought, Jazz hadn’t even believed in ghosts until she’d seen them with her own eyes, he was certain she’d be on his side with this entire magic debacle. 

“Dad, I understand why you don’t believe in this kind of thing.” she took a breath, looking through his right shoulder, before continuing. “It’s not like ghosts, you’ve never had an opportunity to examine or study magic as a concept, and there is so much out there that misrepresents it... but we’re not asking you to believe it. We’re just asking you to try, Danny is trying to do everything in his power to protect you, he’s already done so much for you. Don't you think you owe him one?” 

Jack wanted to be angry, how could Jazz of all people fall for this crap? 

But... she had a point. He really did owe Danny, for a lot of things. Jack felt disrespected, that his children were just flouting one of his biggest house rules, that they were actually expecting him to just go along with it, but how could he accuse his son of disrespect when it was Jack who had been trying to shoot him out of the sky for the past two years? 

He really did owe him. 

Besides, this was... technically an experiment. He was appalled by the idea of experimenting with magic, but at least when it didn’t work he would have evidence that it was all bogus. 

With a heavy sigh he uncrossed his arms and shrugged in defeat. 

“Ah alright, you’ve twisted my arm, but I’m only gonna try this once!” he insisted, “If it doesn’t work we’re going back to doing things the scientific way, got it?” 

“Sound good to me.” Danny laughed, smiling wide. 

“Oh, wait that worked?” Jazz asked, “Wow, I thought that would be much harder.” 

“Your sister’s a mean negotiator.” Jack grumbled. 

Danny laughed again, turning to Sam as he gave Jazz a passing pat on the shoulder. 

“He says you’re very persuasive.” Danny crouched down on Sam’s left and read over her shoulder. “Is this the passage?” 

“Yep,” she said, eyebrows furrowed, concentrating on something. “Can you check this translation for me? Andy already said it was fine but I just want to be sure.” 

As Danny worked her through some kind of pronunciation issue, Jack leaned over to Tucker, who had been standing off to the side playing on his phone. 

“Who’s Andy? Some new school friend of yours?” Jack asked. 

Tucker looked up at him, squinting slightly. 

“Uh sorry, didn’t have my pharaoh ears on, can you repeat that?” 

Before Jack had the chance he was cut off by Sam. 

“Okay, looks like we have it all ready.” She looked across the circle. “Mr Fenton, I’m gonna need you to stand across the circle from me, but DON’T step in it, not yet.” 

Jack did as instructed, if only half-heartedly. 

“So this is supposed to toughen me up or something?” He asked. “Give me a bit of a boost up, like that failed Ecto-Dejecto?” 

“Uhh, sort of but not exactly.” Danny hinted, “The thing is, spirits like you usually take a long time to develop a core and become a full-fledged ghost, we’re about to shorten that time-span from roughly six to eight months down to like, five minutes.” 

Jack eyed the circle carefully. The dandelions around the edge of the ring glowed ominously, likely as a result of that core Danny stole earlier. For fake magic it was starting to look rather daunting. 

“Are there risks?” he asked, a question he’d learned the hard way should always be considered before doing any kind of experiment. 

Danny looked at him sadly. 

“Maybe. We’ve never done this before. There shouldn’t be any reason for it to hurt you, but there is a chance it might not work. Other than that, the biggest issue is,” Danny paused for a moment, not looking Jack in the eye. “You are going to come out of that circle looking... different.” 

“Different how?” Jack asked, though he had a feeling he knew where this was going. 

“Well, sort of like,” Danny gestured vaguely before dropping his arms to his sides and huffing. “Like this.” 

He transformed into Phantom, it was the first time Jack had seen him do it right in front of his eyes. He hadn’t been expecting the bright flash of light accompanying it, and he couldn't help the cycle of questions flooding his brain. What caused the light? Why wasn’t there a light when parts of his ghost side showed through his human form? Was the light simply a result of the instant transformation? Could Danny gradually transform by choice? Would there be no light if he were to gradually transform? 

Wait, no, that wasn’t important right now. The meaning behind his transformation finally hit Jack. 

“You mean I’m gonna look like a ghost.” He stated. 

That shouldn’t have been a surprise, he was a ghost after all. 

He was a ghost. 

Somehow that fact just, hadn’t quite sunken in until this moment. Maybe because he didn’t look like a ghost, he didn’t even really feel like a ghost. He just felt like... well, Jack. Just a Jack who was a little less bound by the laws of physics. A Jack who couldn’t be seen, who couldn’t touch things. 

But he wasn’t... a true ghost was he? 

Danny had said so himself, Jack didn’t have a core, he couldn’t produce ectoplasm. He wasn’t like the ghosts he hunted. He was a spirit, a haunting spirit, as Danny had once said, but he was about to become a ghost, if this magic thing worked anyway. 

Would he still feel like Jack after that? Or would he become like any other ghost he’d hunted down over the years? Lost to an obsessive desire to destroy. Danny was still himself, sure, but Danny was also still partly human. 

His thoughts must have written themselves on his face because Danny was at his side in a moment. 

“Dad, it’s going to be okay.” He reassured him. 

“I don’t think I want to do this.” Jack took a few steps back from the circle. “I don’t want to become something that’s... not me.” 

“You’ll still be you.” He placed a hand gently on Jack’s arm. “Most of the ghosts you guys hunt aren’t made from human spirits, they’re poltergeists.” 

“I know that.” said Jack, somewhat annoyed. “Of course I know that, but I’m talking about the ones who were people. There are plenty of those around too, how do I know I won’t become like them?” 

“Because you aren’t them.” Danny stressed. “They didn’t get like that because they’re ghosts, they were always like that. Even when they were alive. Ghosts don’t become different people, it just seems like they’re all violent and destructive because they’re the only ones leaving the ghost zone looking for trouble. The rest just want to be left alone.” 

“There’s like, an entire ancient Egyptian civilisation in the ghost zone that I visit all the time,” said Tucker, looking up from his phone. “They’re just like people, some are cool, some suck, but mostly they just wanna get on with their afterlife and do their own thing.” 

“I’ve been spending weeks with a ghost translating this book.” Sam added, seemingly having picked up the context of the conversation. “She isn’t destructive or scary, she just really likes books. She wasn't even violent the one time I’ve seen her angry, and she was pretty angry.” 

Sam smirked at Danny, who seemed to purposely be avoiding eye contact. 

“But,” Jack let out a heavy breath, running a hand through his short thick hair, “But that’s not, that goes against all the data your mother and I have collected.” 

“That’s because you aren’t studying them in their natural environment.” said Danny. 

“May I?” Jazz tentatively raised a hand, she still seemed quite awkward about speaking to him when she couldn’t see or hear him. “Dad, imagine you’re studying a large, wild animal, but you’ve only ever seen it in a human environment. It destroys things and hurts people, so you think that it’s violent by nature, you build everything you know about it from this observed behaviour. Do you think it’s fair to call that animal violent by nature, when you’ve never actually observed it in its natural habitat? When you’ve never seen it interacting with its own kind in its own environment?” 

“I... I see.” Jack placed a hand against his chin, mind racing. “We don’t have enough data, we’ve only been researching from a limited pool of subjects. There are too many variables in our environment, it’s too foreign to give an accurate analysis for their natural behaviour. Why didn’t we think of that?!” 

He rubbed a hand down his face, feeling almost embarrassed. What an incredible oversight, this would set their research back years. They would have to throw out all the observations they had collected and start from scratch with consideration for environmental variables. 

Although... now that he was a ghost, he could get his own observations firsthand, without disturbing the natural ecosystem, he was part of the ecosystem now. He and Maddie could build their research from the ground up and it would be better than ever, who better to study ghosts than a ghost? 

Danny gave him a rough pat on the arm, a grin spreading across his face. 

“Warming up to the idea huh?” 

Jack barked out a laugh. 

“Don’t have much of a choice, do I?” He sounded more eager than he felt he should be, but he couldn’t shake the excitement of such a new realm of possibilities. The things he could learn as a ghost, the places he could see with his own eyes. They had always deemed the Ghost Zone as too dangerous a place to go for humans, but he wasn’t a human any more. 

He wasn’t... human. 

He looked at Danny, still in his ghost form, smiling at him. Green eyes, white hair, a sharpness to his canines, a blue tint to his skin. Is that what Jack would look like? 

“If it makes you feel any better,” Danny pulled Jack’s arm forward until he was standing at the edge of the circle again. “Your ghost form will still reflect your own self-image in a way, it just... gets the colours wrong, it isn’t permanent though, I can teach you how to alter your appearance. Apparently, Sam has some neat costume ideas.” 

Sam clicked her tongue and shot them a finger gun as her eyes stayed glued to the book. 

“If you want my references, check out Danny’s logo.” 

Jack looked down at the symbol on his son’s chest. 

“Hey think we could fit a FENTON logo on mine?” Jack gestured his hands across his chest and raised them up in front of his eyes, considering the space required. 

Danny looked over to Sam. 

“I think he’s ready.” He said, taking a few steps back once Jack was in place. “Okay dad, you need to listen to Sam, and follow her instructions exactly.” 

Oh yeah, the magic. Jack had almost forgotten about that. His anxiety lessened just a bit, he knew that becoming a full ghost was still something to consider for the immediate future, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen today, if magic was the only thing they had at their disposal. 

“Okay Mr F, I’m going to start the incantation, when I point to the circle, I need you to step inside. Make sure you do it as soon as I give you the signal, I know this is supposed to be low risk but I’d rather not take any chances.” 

Jack stood at the edge of the circle, twiddling his thumbs and feeling kinda silly. Sam seemed to be completely comfortable with the entire act, she was still sitting cross legged across the circle from him, book in her lap. She seemed to be mouthing along to the spell, quietly rehearsing before closing her eyes, and raising her hand. She was holding a stick of some kind, wrapped in a mix of different flowers. He could hear her speaking quietly but precisely. 

“Totem of poison, cloak of stolen grief, shift the veil.” 

The stick wrapped in flowers was moved from side to side. Jack had to bite his cheek to keep himself from laughing, he glanced around the room but everyone was focused intently on the circle, were the dandelions growing brighter? 

“Give him body, give him strength.” 

She snapped the little stick in half, the flowers smothered beneath her grip, she held one half in each hand, weaving the thin sticks between her fingers as she spread her arms, most of the petals falling to the floor. Jack suddenly realised that her words weren’t matching her lips. 

“Mourners bear witness, a sacrifice is given.” 

She lightly touched a small puddle of ectoplasm that Jack hadn’t noticed, it was pooled just by her right leg. He noticed her composure slip slightly and she shuddered at the touch of the ectoplasm, but she pulled herself together after a brief moment. 

She brought the hand forward, opening her fingers palm downwards, she dropped the stick, her other hand raised by her head following suit. 

“By ring and by crown.” 

Her eyes opened suddenly and Jack jumped, startled. They were a bright, shining white. Looking around himself he saw the others staring at her in shock, at least he wasn’t the only one surprised. With the green glowing drop of ectoplasm smeared upon her finger, she pointed at the circle. That was Jack’s cue. 

He jumped over the dandelions at the same time that Sam raised her hand to the ceiling and cried. 

“Ancients’ grace, may he RISE.” 

The circle lit up around him, a bright, white current flickered over as the green mist upon the dandelions shot straight to his feet. A sensation like cold lightning flew up from his toes into his chest and suddenly he felt heavy, so, so heavy. He felt his body sagging but he grit his teeth and held himself upright. 

The pain was disorienting, the light so bright he couldn’t see anyone behind it, he tried to reach out but he couldn’t seem to move. His chest was anchored in place by some unseen force. 

His heart beat loudly in his ears, with every thrum he could feel a chill pulse through him, his limbs tingled with pins and needles, but with every wash of cold they gained feeling again, little by little. Eventually his head started to clear, the white light subsided and he blinked. 

Sam was the first in his line of sight. Her eyes had closed again but her arm was still raised, she looked barely conscious but she stayed upright, though limply, as if held up by strings, her head lolled to the side. 

Tucker had moved to her side and hovered his hands around her, prepared to catch her if she collapsed. 

Then something struck Jack from the side, it startled him, and with a wash of tingling sensation, whatever had crashed into him fell right through him. He heard Jazz gasp in pain as she hit the floor. 

“Ah jeez, I’m sorry Jazzypants.” He took a hold of her arm and hefted her up off the floor. As soon as she was on her feet, she was grabbing onto him, arms wrapped as far around him as they could go as she buried her head in his chest. 

Jack put his arms around her, holding her close and tight. She was warm, and she was there, and she was real, and he could hold her, she choked on her sobs as her body shuddered. Before Jack thought he could feel things when he touched them, but compared to how he felt now, it was like eating plain boiled potatoes and then stuffing your face with creamy garlic mash. He wasn’t just imagining that he could feel his daughter’s arms around him, he could really truly feel them.

Danny put a hand on his arm, even he felt so much more solid and real than before, and Jack pulled him in for a big bear hug.

“Dad c’mon, you got plenty of hugs from me already.” Danny grumbled as he attempted to extricate himself from the onslaught.

“Nope.” Said Jazz, grabbing hold of him and pulling him back in. “This is family hug time, you’re getting family hugged.” 

“Aww,” Tucker cooed, Sam was slumped in his arms but her eyes were lazily flickering open again. 

“Ew, feelings, gross.” she mumbled, Tucker laughed. 

“She’s okay ladies and gentlemen.” he sat her up and gave her a solid pat on the back. “You did it Sam, nice job.” 

She looked up at Jack, finally making eye contact, then she grimaced. 

“Ugh, yeah we gotta work on your costume.”