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This Is A Little Bit Much

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Danny sighs at the board, philosophy mixed with ghosts and his parents' tech was honestly more concerning than it had any right to be. Watching as his teacher slaps a hand on the whiteboard, “everyone's ghost is locked away inside them. Existing in its base undefined state. Waiting for deaths key to imprint on it it’s true form”. Before pointing at the guest, who’s wearing a white lab doctor's coat, “Dr. Lewis here, lovingly provided to us by the Fenton’s, will be demonstrating this in a way I’m sure you’ll find riveting”. 

Anyone who wasn’t paying attention, which wasn’t very many since nearly everyone always did when something was about ghosts, is acutely interested now. As Dr. Lewis stands up, waving around what looked like a neon green mirror on a red sliver handle, “this device, the Ghost Mirroring Key, will allow us to glimpse inside the keyhole. See what your ghosts look like at their base form at your current age”, Danny groans internally as the guy keeps talking, “now because ghosts often retain the clothing they died in, none of your clothing will change or glow. All we’ll see here is your basic ghosts ghostly attributes. Skin colour, hair colour, ear shape, if you have claws, if you have fangs, eye colour, and any other more unique traits. Such as equipment, flames, permanent ghostly tail, or even a cape or cloak”. 

Needless to say, Danny’s a bit freaked out by this. Just how much like Phantom will he look? What about Dan? It’s always haunted him wondering just how much of Dan was Danny and how much was Vlad. Because physically? The only Vlad attributes he had was the cape and red eyes. The rest was all stuff either both of them had or just Danny. 

Watching his parents' doctor friend, Dr. Lewis, pass around the little mirror-like palm-sized plates; and tentatively taking his own. Danny’s not exactly surprised that everyone else is eager, they really don’t have any reason not to be. And honestly? Danny was curious too. Just way less curious and far more nervous. If anything Danny’s more curious about what his friends will look like. Man he wishes they were in the same class. But pretty well everyone in grade twelve was doing this, okay, it was probably everyone. Something tells Danny that this was going to become something of a senior year tradition. Getting to glimpse your ghost for a day. 


Dr. Lewis clears his throat, sitting on the corner of the desk, “now that that’s all sorted, simply place your hand on the device for ten seconds. You’ll turn invisible for a few seconds before gracing us all with your ghostly selves”. 

Danny only stares down at it, watching his reflection and mentally making black hair white and blue eyes green; while the rest of his class instantly uses it. Glancing his eyes around, Danny can’t help but snort at Dash looking like a green wingless gargoyle. Expected, but still funny. Kwan literally looks the same but purple-skinned and red-eyed. Paulina, who’s fingers are just a little too long with pink skin and long lazily flaming red hair, is fawning over Star's white hair and green eyes. While Star goes on about how every ghost and human wouldn’t be able to look away from Paulina’s hair. Which just descends into them complimenting each other back and forth. 

Looking around the rest of the room, no one really looks scary. Dale’s fangs stick over his lips, Todd’s claws are closer to blades, and Mikey didn’t have lips at all; but no one really looked non-human. Well okay, Lily has a second set of arms. 

Danny bites his lip and looks back down to his ‘mirror’ before getting slightly started by Dash, “what? You afraid of your own ghost Fentit? Or are you just afraid it’ll be as weak and loserish as you”. 

Dale laughs, “of course! Poor little freak won’t be able to look at himself without screaming!”.

Jasper sighs and shakes his head, “guys be nice, this is probably horrifying for the guy. Today will be like an exercise in not running away for him”. 

Danny grumbles as he side-eyes the jocks, “that’s honestly more insulting than helpful”, before looking back to the mirror. Getting startled again by someone kicking his foot. 

Turning around to see Valerie, he’d honestly forgotten she was in this class too, seeing as neither often showed up or showed up on the same days. Danny has to restrain a smirk at her red skin as she points a clawed hand at Danny’s mirror. Speaking while rolling her purple eyes, “just do it. I mean I can deal and you know how I hate ghosts”. 

Danny grunts but turns back around, biting his lip again before tentatively putting his hand on the ‘glass’. Of course, putting this off meant everyone was staring at him. 

Danny flips over his clawed whitish-green hand a few times, it also glowed far more vibrantly than was normal. While Paulina cries out, “what?! Why’d that loser freak have to get white hair too!”. While Dash huffs, “yeah, Fentina is nowhere near cool enough to share colours with Phantom”.

Danny looks down into the mirrored surface in time to spot Valerie’s red hand pat at Danny’s flaming hair. How funny that looked is the only thing really stopping Danny from cringing at his reflection. White flaming hair was very very Dan. Least he still had his green eyes, which like everything else, were glowing strangely bright. Danny’s just chalking that up to him already being partway ghost. He’s got no clue why there’s a tip of green flames to his hair though. 

Most of the class goes back to talking in their little groups while Danny checks out his, fuck those are bigger than Dan’s what the fuck?, fangs; and sticking out his, pointed and elongated but thankfully not forked, tongue. 

Danny tilts his head back as Valerie taps on his shoulder, resulting in her snorting at his face, “green eyes too? You better make sure you don’t get offed wearing monochromes”, squinting at him, “what’s up with your glow though?”. 

Danny shrugs, he had no damn clue, “well I am around my folks' stuff and frequently get accidentally shot by it. Probably been accidentally consuming ectoplasm for years”. Valerie hums in agreement.

Dr. Lewis claps his hands, “remember this only lasts for a few hours. So enjoy your unlocked states while you can. And please, try not to get unlocked permanently through natural means anytime soon. Ghosts may have powers and you may all look very cool, but they’re still dead”. 

Danny can’t help but chuckle, he was never going to see this look again. Since he couldn’t actually fully die anymore. 

Putting his chin in his palm as Dr. Lewis walks around to look people over, causing Danny to notice there are white flames where they logically shouldn’t be if it was his hair. Looking down at his chest and going wide-eyed at the white and not weirdly brightly glowing flames of what he damn well recognises as his cape. The sides pinned together via two green skulls and a smoking shadowy black chain. Sticking his left hand behind him to scrunch up the familiar plush-lined velvet fabric, with a mental groan. Of course, that was here! Before near panickedly groping through his hair flames for the crown. His hand stilling as his fingers push against the flaming metal, that’s why there’s green tipping! His crown is literally hiding inside his hair, since it wasn’t actually meant for someone with fucking flaming hair. Danny can’t help but laugh over the image of the crown just floating above the flames, like two feet above his head. Like a damn sims icon. Ancients that would look silly! 

Danny leans back in his chair and stares down at his Ring Of Suffering, of course, something like this would be imprinted on the very base of his ghost. 

Overhearing Dr. Lewis speaking to Valerie, “I’m not surprised at least one of you has a cape”, making Danny look behind him, this time actually noticing that Valerie’s got a cape. Red and thin with black lining. From the looks of it, Danny guesses it’s about knee length, unlike his which drags across the ground for about a foot. Dr. Lewis continues but is addressing the whole class this time, “having things like artifacts or tools. Such as a guitar or maybe a ring. Means that something is a source of power for your ghost, that other ghosts don’t naturally have”. 

Todd laughs as he smacks the whip on his hip, “so we’re basically better ghosts”.

Dr. Lewis tilts his hand in the air, “you could put it that way, yes, but it’s more so that you have a niche and special skill. This could be a bad thing in some situations”, while Danny mentally grumbles about how being High Ghost King did indeed suck sometimes, Dr. Lewis clears his throat, “as for capes or cloaks. They’re simply signs of power, skill and leadership in some form. Ghosts with capes or cloaks are always a cut above the rest. The apex ghosts so to speak. More fanciful capes and cloaks, means more powerful or important. Things like length, number of colours, accessories, details, etcetera. A ghost with a simple brown cloak would be below, so to speak, a ghost with a simple brown cloak that had clasps”. 

Danny easily hears Valerie mutter, “damn fucking right. Even my ghost is better than ghosts”. Making Danny chuckle, before tensing up over Dr. Lewis looking him over. Mentally chanting, ‘don’t notice the crown, don’t notice the crown, don’t notice the crown’. While the rest of the class comment about how ‘of course little miss gymnastics would be a powerful ghost’. 

Dr. Lewis pokes at one of the large green skull clasps with a raised eyebrow, chucking, “I’m not sure if Maddie and Jack would be proud or bothered. You’re going to be something impressive”, he laughs, “well here’s hoping you don’t retain you skittishness of ghosts in the afterlife”. 

Danny’s about to thank his lucky stars before Dr. Lewis parts away some of Danny’s hair flames and raises both eyebrows at Danny, “well then. I’m not going to claim to understand how or even why. Just do me a favour and don’t be a human-hating ghost”. 

Danny gives the guy an awkward nod and just decides to be glad that Dr. Lewis’s body blocked him from the rest of his classmates' sight. Valerie of course, heard everything, being the only person sitting near Danny. Whispering at him, “so that green isn’t part of your hair”. Danny just shrugs awkwardly. 


When the bell rings, Danny doesn’t really want to stand up but he’s also brutally curious about his other friends now. He already knows they’ll look at Valerie and smirk. Then look at him and cringe. Well, it’ll probably be in reverse order but still. 

Valerie whacks him on the arm, “well get up you lucky, or unlucky I don’t really know, asshole. Also fuck that cape’s soft”. Danny chuckles and rubs his neck, “tell me about it. Pretty sure the inside is damn plush, I could sleep in it”. 

Valerie snorts as she gets up and starts walking, looking back at him, “you got a damn napping cape. Figures”. Danny can’t help but blink and start laughing, before shaking his head and getting up; cape tail flopping onto the ground. 

Resulting in whom ever’s still in the classroom to stop talking, as now that Danny’s not slouching or hidden by the chair the capes collar flames are extremely noticeable. Danny walking out to whispers over the cape and how it’s ‘highly decorated’ and ‘really fancy’. 

Shouldering his way past Dash and his merry band of pricks, while Dash sneers, green fangs on full display, “wow I’m surprised Fentaco hasn’t run screaming yet. What? Am I not scary enough?”, making a point to attempt at snarling. 

Danny, kind of done with Dash’s shit and having the confidence and pride boost of his kings wear, rolls his eyes, “hardly”, smirking and baring his own fangs a little, “and Dash, this is how you snarl”, before giving Dash a more proper and threatening snarl. Starting the jocks. 

Valerie bumps shoulders with Danny as they walk past, “the hell Danny?”. 

Danny rubs his neck before pointing at her, “oh don’t tell me your cape isn’t a bit of a confidence booster. And Dash looks like a knock off gargoyle. A one in a million ghost. And it’s Dash, still human. No powers. Working heartbeat”. 


Both turning their heads as Dash shouts at them, seeing him pointing at Danny, “hey! What are you doing with a cape!?!”. 

Danny rolls his eyes, “doing better than you apparently”, before running his hand through his hair, easily revealing the flaming crown, and speed walking away. Danny 


Valerie pokes him as they’re approaching Sam and Tucker, pretty well everyone staring at them, “you are going to trip someone with that thing. And I know you’re used to getting odd looks but this is a bit much”. Danny shrugs, looking around a little, he hardly noticed. Basically everyone stared at him as Phantom. Fenton got it less often and it was usually more mocking. 

Danny smiles seeing his two other friends also with capes. Was it surprising? Not to any of them. Tucker’s got nearly black skin tinted green, with a near floor-length off white cape lined with gold and etched with hieroglyphs. 

Danny pats him on the shoulder while his two friends stare at his hair, “how very Egyptian Tuck. Red eyes kinda suck though”. 

Sam pokes his hair with a pale nearly white green clawed hand, “says Mr. Fire hair”. 

Danny pokes her horned helmet right back, “least I have hair”. Her green eyes and purple cape covered in green vines, was one hell of a reminder of Overgrowth. It honestly made sense that the ghostly bullshit they’ve all gone through has affected their base ghosts. 

Sam and Tucker look Valerie over then, both chuckling slightly. Tucker stretching out some, “wow, the whole quartet got capes. Nice”. 

Danny nods and looks around, “not the only ones”, jerking his head at Mia in a black cape with a red grid pattern and Hanna in a purple cloak. Danny couldn’t really help looking to see if she had some kind of time-related clasp or something. She didn’t, but it would honestly be weird if she did. 

Valerie shoulders him, “well yours is still the most excessive thing I’ve ever seen”. Danny just rubs his neck and shrugs. 


Eventually, the bell goes off and they’re stuck going their separate ways, largely because Danny’s stuck running off outside. Ghost sense making him groan. Though blinking and wondering just what the hell going ghost is going to look like right now. So he zips into a bathroom instead of out in the open. He transforms and stares in mild shock. The whites of his jumpsuit glowed slightly green, same with his hair; which was oddly not flaming. His skin was black and all the black on him seemed to suck in the light. His glow, normally white, was green. To say Danny was confused would be an understatement. Muttering down at his hands, “what the fuck? How the heck is my ghosts base ghost different from my humans base ghost. My ghost from and human form have different base ghosts...What the absolute fresh hell?”. Well, at least his Kings get up was easy enough to turn invisible. 

Shaking his head and phasing through the ceiling and promptly kicking Technus in the face. 

“You look strange ghost child! Perhaps you are trying out some new styles yourself!”. 

Danny laughs, “I unlocked Phantom 2.0, and I must say, it’s made me one hell of a glow bug!”, before blasting Technus in the face. Blinking at his hand over how absurdly bright the blast had been. 

Technus springs up, “you are stronger whelp! 2.0 indeed!”.

Danny shrugs, “don’t know what to tell ya dude. Wait! Hey! Get back here!”, rushing off to fly after the fleeing villain. Who cries, “I must regroup!”.

“Oh I don’t think so!”, Danny slams him over the head with the thermos and sucks him in. Wiping his forehead and looking around. Shaking his head at some people taking photos. His weird look was going to be the talk of the town for days. 

Turning invisible and flying off into the bathroom. Locking the bathroom door to really stare at himself in the mirror. Waving his hand around to see he’s leaving light tracers, pale green ones. “Sam and Tuck are going to lose their shit”. 

Shaking his head as he transforms back, before leaving the bathroom. Only to bump into a red-skinned Wes. The bathroom door getting stuck slightly open when it caught on the end of Danny’s cape. 

Wes looks him up and down with Halloween orange eyes, “why the hell don’t you look just like Phantom. How do you always manage to pull something off? And what’s with the cape?”. 

Danny smirks, “oh? I thought everyone knew Phantom was a King. Since you seem to think he’s me, then, of course, you’d see me with a cape”. 

Wes glares down at the ajar door, “I ain’t seeing shit Phantom”.

“But I thought you just said you could see a cape?”.

“I hate you”, crossing his arms and looking around, seeing they’re alone, speaking more seriously, “seriously though. What’s up with the look?”.

Danny shrugs, “dude you know I’m a weirdo. And everyone knows Phantom’s fucking weird. Wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t entirely dead or some shit”, shrugging and pulling out his phone, “oh and apparently Phantom looks weird today too”. 

Wes deadpans, “yeah, I bet you do”. 

Danny holds up his phone, showing a pretty decent photo of Phantom 2.0 he’d already found on twitter. Wes snatches the phone and stares before gesturing wildly at the screen, “what the hell is this!”, looking up at Danny, “how?!? HOW!?!”. 

Danny shrugs and takes back his phone, “for once, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t even think ghosts are supposed to glow that brightly. Wish I was there”, smirking and looking back at the bathroom, “an up-close look would be really neat”. 

Wes just glares and kicks in the door, nearly tripping over Danny’s cape as he goes. 


Danny throws his arms over Sam and Tucker as the wave bye to Valerie. Tucker chuckling, “so are you actually going to go home like this?”. Danny shrugs, “folks know what’s happening today and literally insisted on seeing my ‘ghost unlocked’. Not surprised but first...”. Danny looks around and points to an alleyway, “have y’all checked out Phantom on twitter lately?”.

Sam rolls her eyes, “giant tech companies are slowly crushing the middle class and destroying the youth through mindless distractions”. 

Tucker shakes his head as Danny steers them into the alley, “so that’s a no then. And Danny dude, I don’t think anyone has. Too interested in being ghosts, sorta, for a day”, poking him, “you’re the only one that this isn’t a novelty for”.

Danny lets go of his friends and spins around to be in front of them, looking excited, “oh that’s where you’re wrong. I’m about to slightly blind you”. Before transforming, rings brighter than usual, and floating in the air. His green glow making the alleyway look eerie, like it was part of the Ghost Zone. Tucker and Sam both gaping at him. 

Tucker eventually snorting, “dude, when you’re literally a half living paradox I thought I’d seen the most impossible thing ever. But now you’ve literally got two base ghost selves”.  

Sam nods, “that seems more impossible actually”. 

Danny sticks his hands out to the side, “I know right! I know I like to joke about being a glow bug but this is excessive”, dropping one arm and charging a painfully bright ecto-blast, “and I’m stronger. I think I may have actually startled Techy”. 

Both Sam and Tucker are shielding their eyes, Tucker giving him a thumbs up anyway, “dude you could actually blind someone with that”. 

Sam shakes her head and pats Danny’s arm as he extinguishes the blast, “so a ten-second mirror-touch gives you a multi-hour power boost”. 

Danny smirks, “video game power-up mode unlocked”. 

Tucker snorts, “what bonus achievements do you think this unlocked?”.

“Mass confusion, pissing off Wes level three, one confused call from Vlad, and at least twenty new FentonWorks inventions”, Danny taps his chin, “oh and one mild existential crisis because I have TWO BASE GHOSTS JUST WHAT THE HELL?”. 

Tucker snaps his fingers, “Pokemon dude”.

Both Sam and Danny look at him, “what?”. 

Tucker rolls his eyes, “come on dude. All the best Pokemon have three evolutions, and a mega-evolution”, Tucker counts off his fingers, “there’s your first, human. Second, ghost. Third, halfa. ‘Cause let’s be honest, halfas are stronger than y’all would be if you had just skipped straight to death. Besides, you were probably full ghost for a bit before getting half your life back. And now this”, gesturing at Danny, “your stronger, got a flashy appearance upgrade, and it has a time limit. It’s fucking megaPhantom. Your mega-evolution, the Ghost Mirroring Key your Phantomite”. 

Danny borderline squeals like a little girl and Sam sighs but smiles, “you two are dorks”. 


Danny waves goodbye to his friends with a little amused pep in his step, pushing open his houses front door only a little while later. 

Speaking with mirth, “I’m home! Please come and check me out so I can escape the poking to flee into my humble lair”. 

Jack laughs at his sons' humour as the two parents indeed come to look Danny over in the living room. Danny’s not even surprised they start poking at him and lifting up the cape. His dad running his hands through both sets of flames before pointing at his hair, “that one’s colder, and flames are pretty fearsome”. 

Danny tilts his head at the approving tone his dad used, “you seem... happy? about that?”. 

While Maddie brushes imaginary dirt off his capes shoulders, “the capes impressive too. You’ll be strong”. 

Now Danny’s really confused, because that sounded approving too; even a bit proud. But promptly internally cringes as his mom goes to ruffle his hair, nearly stabbing herself with his crown. Jerking her hand away only to motion for him to bend forward for her to get a better look. 

Danny’s practically holding his breath waiting form them to say something. His dad speaking up, “of course a Fenton would wind up ruling ghosts! Teach them how to behave and keep them in line!”. 

Standing back upright, “okay seriously, why are you guys happy about this? I figured you’d be, you know, not. ‘Cause ghosts”. 

Maddie successful ruffles his flaming hair around this time, “think nothing of that sweetie. We fully expect you’ll be a ghost someday. You’re already so ghostly as a living human”. 

Jack nods, “and with you being obviously destined for strength those other filthy ghosts won’t be able to bother you over being a Fenton! Not that any Fenton would ever let a ghost harass them freely!”. 

Danny’s flat out stunned and gapes a little, before shaking his head, “so wait, you guys want me to become a powerful leader ghost? That could potentially be a threat?”. 

Jack grabs both of Danny’s shoulders, “better you to be a strong ghost than a weak one, when around them. And Danny-boy, you could never be a threat. If any ghost could resist a ghosts nature to be evil, it would be a Fenton’s ghost! Besides! If we needed to catch you I’m sure I could just coax you to join me for some fudge!”. 

Maddie nods and smiles at Jack, before turning to look at Danny, smiling softly, “now, of course, we don’t want you to become a ghost. To die but not rest”, shaking her head, “but you’re already so much like one that it’s obvious you’ll become one. Setting off detectors, being affected by anti-ghost weapons, bloodblossom allergy, you snarl and purr, baring your teeth and curling your hands like claws”, while Danny’s realising he acts way more ghost than he though, Maddie shakes her head again, before continuing to speak, “with all of that how could you not become a ghost”, glancing at Jack, “and though it would be funny watching your father coax you with food, I’d rather us be long gone by the time you join the Ghost Zone”. 

Danny rubs his neck, cape bunching up a bit and still feeling a bit thrown, “uh, thanks”. 

Jack nods with a smirk and puts his fists on his hips, “of course Danny-boy! And this way we’ll now know what you look like as a ghost! So will your friends!”. 

Maddie smiles and motions for her two boys to follow her into the kitchen, “and when things eventually come to pass, everyone will know not to shoot at you or hurt you”. 

It takes a beat for Danny to follow, far too stunned. His folks wanted to see him, not to examine him, but to be able to recognise him as a ghost? So they wouldn’t harm him? By the time he gets into the kitchen, he’s barely keeping tears from flowing down his face. Promptly hugging his mom from behind and nearly whispering, “thank you. You-you don’t know how much that means to me”. 

Maddie grabs and rubs her thumb over one of Danny’s green arms. Leaning her head against his head resting on her shoulder, “always sweetie. Ghost or human, and regardless how tall, you’ll always be my little boy”. 

Danny squeezes her a little tighter before promptly hugging his dad, who was somewhat awkwardly standing behind them. “Thanks too, dad. I promise I’ll always come for family fudge. Maybe when things happen, and if you guys wind up ghosts too, I’ll come find you. Bring you some”. 

Jack squeezes back hard, “I could think of no better thing you could do”, patting Danny on the back firmly, “who knows! Maybe you’ll have to keep us in line!”. Making both of them laugh and Danny wipes his eyes quickly before sitting down. 

Danny can’t help but smile throughout dinner, which doesn’t go unnoticed by his parents. 

Maddie asking, “you really were worried how we’d react to you as a ghost, huh?”. 

Danny rubs his neck and looks around, “how could I not? You guys hate ghosts and chased after Phantom even though he was pretty good”. Not to mention the fact that Danny was Phantom and his third biggest fear was that they’d still shoot at him even if they knew. The second being anyone dying and the first being becoming Dan. 

Jack chuckles a bit awkwardly, “yeah we were a bit quick to the trigger back then. But everyone learns! You’ll have to learn to be a leader even! Judging by the crown”. 

Maddie smiles and giggles slightly, “though I don’t think you’ll be doing much learning”.

Danny tilts his head, “what do you mean by that?”, before eating some more of his mash potatoes. 

Maddie points at his spoon, “that. Your eating around your fangs-”.

Jack cuts in, “which are really impressive!”.

“-with ease. Like you just know how. And I don’t think you’re even noticing when your ears swivel, like you’re used to it. You easily move around your cape to keep it out of your way and you’re not fiddling with the ring. Like it’s always been there”.

While Danny’s internally freaking out a little bit about that all being apparently a little too obvious. Maddie continues, “so even your body knows what’ll be. All you’ll have to learn, I think, is how to go about being a leader. I’m sure you’ll do well though”. 

Jack nods and pushes away his cleaned off plate, “you’ll be respected and looked up to! Good! Like, well, like Phantom!”. 

Danny blinks, he knew his parents' opinion of Phantom had changed some. But to hear that so bluntly was stunning. Threatened to make him tear up again. Clearing his throat to distract himself, “I guess my bodies already got things figured out”, rubbing his neck before blinking and going wide-eyed at his parents, “wait, are you guys thinking of calling a truce? With Phantom?”. 

Maddie nods, “we’ve been thinking it over for a while now. And we really have heard everything you kids have said about him”, ruffling Danny’s flames, “and you look a lot like him. And thinking of that, you as a ghost. You’d probably be a lot like him. Quick wit and...and defending others. Being helpful”. 

Jack laughs, “honestly! You look more ghostly than he does!”. 

Danny can’t help but chuckle, that’s because Phantom was only half-ghost and Danny currently looked full ghost. “I bet he’d get a good laugh out of that. And I’m glad, for the truce thing. He’s a good ghost”. 

Maddie nods with a smile while Jack speaks up, “I imagine he’s pretty confused today! A bunch of teens running around looking like ghosts!”. 

Danny snorts and pulls out his phone, looking down at the picture of, snort, megaPhantom, before looking back to his parents, “yeah about that. You know how he frequents the school?”. 

Maddie raises an eyebrow, “yeah?”.

“Well, what’s supposed to happen if a ghost uses the Ghost Mirroring Key?”. 

The two parents exchange a glance.