Intermission is over! Back to our regularly scheduled program~


Danny kept his eyes narrowed and on the zeppelin, barely watching the road as he chased after them – unfortunately, not seeing the fast-approaching cliffside.  “Where do they think they’re GOING?!”

Vlad grabbed his shoulder, eyes wide.  “LOOK OUT!”

“DADDY!”

Danny’s eyes widened and he pulled hard on the brake, but it was too late.  The car went sailing over the edge of the cliff, the three of them screaming as they plunged towards the water below!

But just when it seemed that hope was lost, an amazing thing happened.  

The car began to SLOW DOWN.  

Danny looked to the side with wide eyes as large, thick wings of yellow-and-crimson canvas and steel began to unfold from the side of the car, slowing its descent and righting it, bringing it aloft.  Danny gasped as the wings snapped into place, along with a large propeller in the back that revved to life.  Danielle cheered as Chitty began to soar up above the water and into the sky, the three of them safe and sound.

“Amazing!” Vlad marveled, turning to Danny with a beaming smile.  “Daniel, you are a GENIUS!”

Danny laughed shakily, still a little pale from their near death experience.  “Well, it was nothing… really.  Really, I did nothing…”

Vlad looked at the younger man with a troubled expression.  He was about to ask him if he was alright, when Daneille cut them off.  “Look!”  she cried, pointing out ahead of them.  “There they are!  Hurry, daddy, after them!”

Danny nodded, swallowing past his lingering fear and putting on a brave face, eyes narrowed in frustration as he took hold of his earlier anger.  “Right, we’ll catch up to them!  Hang on!”

But as they flew closer, the aircraft soon got ahead of them and disappeared amongst the clouds.  

“We lost them!”

“Don’t worry,” Danny said confidently, beginning to relax once more.  “We’ll find them again.”

“But what about grandpa?”

“Dad knows how to take care of himself!” Danny said with a grin.  “He’ll be just fine!  He might even enjoy himself!”

~*~

“This is livin’~!”

Jack kicked open the door to his shed.  “This is STYLE!” he declared, lounging in the doorway.  “This is elegance by the miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile~!”

~*~

Vlad’s brow furrowed.  “If you insist…”

He sighed, then squinted into the clouds.  “Do you know where we’re going…?”

“Not really,” Danny admitted sheepishly.  “But they are Vulgarian, and that’s pretty far north of here.  Plus, uh…”

Slowly, Danny took his hands away from the steering wheel, revealing that the car itself seemed to be in control, steering and flying on it’s own.  “Chitty seems to know the way?”

Vlad blinked in surprise, laying a gentle hand on the wheel.  

The engine rumbled warmly under his touch.  Sure enough, the car seemed to be steering itself.  “Strange…” he murmured.

Danielle unbuckled her seat belt and crawled to the front seat, between the two men.  “I’m worried about grandpa…” she murmured.

Danny cooed, pulling his daughter into his lap and tucking her head under his chin.  “I know, little ghost, I know.  I’m worried too…”

There was a moment of silence as they continued to drive towards the sunset.  Before long, Danny started to hum a soft lullaby, encouraging his daughter to get some sleep.  Her eyes drifted closed as she snuggled close to him, breathing softly in slumber.  Danny smiled, his humming falling silent as he held her close.  

Vlad glanced between the two, then at Danny.  The young inventor blinked at him, then smiled and shrugged.

The billionaire felt that familiar warm sensation spread through his chest again… but this time, it was laced with a bit of pain.  

As night fell and the stars came out, the older man began to think.  Danielle hadn’t meant to point it out, but it was true; Danny was young enough to be his son, and Vlad his father.  To have feelings for him was hardly proper… and now they were quite literally soaring through a starry sky together, and Vlad was plagued by these stressful thoughts.  What would Danny think of him… if he knew?

“Vlad?” Danny asked quietly, watching him.  “Are you alright?”

The older man blinked, startled, and glanced at him.  “Y-Yes, of course.  I mean, why would I not be?” he asked with a smile, trying to brush it off.

Danny frowned.  “I hope she didn’t upset you.  You’re really not as old as my father.”

He flushed when Vlad glanced at him.  “I-I mean, well, I know how old you are from the paper, you know?  Seeing as you’re one of London’s famous bachelors and all… A-anyway, please pay her no mind, even I’M old in her little world…”

Vlad laughed at that, almost ashamed to feel as relieved as he did.  “Thank you, Daniel…”

He sighed and lay his head back against the seat.  “I suppose a man gets more sensitive about that sort of thing as he grows older…” he murmured, adopting an all-too casual tone.  “I mean, would you consider dating someone my age?”

Danny took the question more seriously than Vlad probably intended, seeing as this was something he and his father, and even his daughter, had talked about once.  “Well… actually, yes.”

The young man never saw Vlad’s sharp gaze, too busy looking out at the stars as he became lost in thought.  “After taking care of myself, Danielle and my father for so long, I find the idea of an older lover, who can take care of ME for once, very appealing.  I mean, when Danielle was old enough to be left with Jack, I dated a few times.  Or tried to, anyway.  Still, anyone I’ve ever seen myself dating or was attracted to was much older then me.  I actually haven’t dated much since then, however…”

He scowled slightly, huffing.  “Having a child was always the deal breaker in the end.  So I stopped trying.  Father thinks I should keep looking, but I’ve given up.  It’s useless, really.  I have no time to date between my work and my daughter, she’s my life!  Why should I accept anyone in my heart, that won’t also accept HER?  And besides… what does a poor inventor have to offer anyone, anyway?”

Vlad never took his eyes off of Danny the whole time.

Slowly… he sat up.

“Would you be interested in… a MAN my age…?” Vlad asked quietly.  His expression was steady, but his heart fluttered like an uncertain butterfly.

Danny, still lost in his own head, nodded with a chuckle.  “Well, I should think so!  Considering I’ve pretty much only dated men besides Danielle’s mother and… oh…”

His head whipped around, face flaming red and his eyes as wide as dinner plates.  “You mean… I… but um…. well, obviously I… ah…”

He swallowed thickly.  “Well… yes.”

“Who have you dated?” Vlad pressed, more curious than jealous.

Danny blinked.  “Who…?  Oh, um… I dated Mr. Baxter once.  Dash?  He was kind, but… his expectations were to high for someone of my standing.  I dated my best friend, Tucker Foley for a short time, till we realised our love was more of brothers…  A passing hunter treated me to dinner once.”

He shrugged, looking away.  “There were others, but they only lasted a day, always losing interest when they met Danielle or learned of my… status.  The longest relationship I was in was with the clock and toy maker in town, before he moved away.  I’m… sure you remember him?”

“Yes, I do…” Vlad thought aloud.  “Always told people to call him Clockwork, if I remember correctly.  He was an odd fellow, but he made watches like no one else.”  

“Yes, he made Danielle’s favorite toys too…” Danny said with a soft smile, looking down at his daughter fondly.  “Our relationship was really just platonic, but he was a wonderful friend and distraction…”

He glanced up at Vlad from the corner of his eyes, a pink blush dusting his cheeks.  “And, as I’m sure you recall, he was a bit older than you…”

A happy little twinkle shone in Vlad’s eye.  “That he was…”

Danny turned a little pinker, as the older gentleman sidled just the slightest bit closer.  The younger man looked up and away for a moment, flustered, before turning his upper body slightly so he could lean against Vlad’s shoulder, sharing the weight of his daughter’s sleeping body.  He kept his eyes down, unsure what to do or say.

“I don’t want to take advantage of you, Daniel…” Vlad murmured, wrapping a gentle arm around him.  “I hope you know that I would never do that to you.”

Danny smiled softly, nodding.   “I know you wouldn’t.  It’s just… it feels so sudden and… a little unreal…”

“I feel the same but still, I…”

Gentle fingers touched Danny’s chin, bringing his wide blue eyes up to meet passionate cobalt ones.  “I like you…” Vlad told him quietly, slightly red in the cheeks.  “It all seems so fast, yes… but I really do like you a lot…”

If possible, Danny’s face turned even more red.  He stuttered for a moment, before swallowing, clearing his throat.  “I-I like y-you too…  A l-lot…”

He lowered his gaze and smiled shyly.  “I think I fell for you, the first time you went off to play with my daughter…  No hidden agenda, or anything, just… you let her drag you around that beach and I… I…”

Vlad chuckled and squeezed Danny lightly around the shoulders.  “For me, it was that car ride home from the picnic when I really fell.  Nothing special happened but it was just… the way you looked, and spoke, and your passion for your daughter and what you do…”

“What an interesting pair we make…”  Danny murmured, getting drowsy.  After a moment of hesitation, he laid his head on Vlad’s shoulder as they watched the night slowly pass by.  It was quiet for a moment, both comfortable with the silence.

“I hope my dad is okay,” Danny finally said in a hushed tone.  “If I had known they would go this far, I would have just given them the car…”

The billionaire sighed – internally in agreement – but he brushed his thumb over Danny’s cheek, trying to lift the mood.  “But then we wouldn’t be on this grand adventure, now would we?” he smiled.  “We’ll be there soon…”

Danny smiled sleepily, closing his eyes as he hugged his daughter tight.  “Adventure… yes…

“What a wonderful adventure.”

~*~*~*~

Dawn came clear, fresh, and cold in the clouds.  Red light streamed through the early morning mist, bathing the small family – cuddled in the front seat of their beautiful car – in the orange beams of sunrise.  Sleep clinging to him like a blanket, Vlad blinked slowly awake, looking around himself… then down at Danny and little Danielle.

//So it wasn’t a dream…// Vlad smiled softly.

He leaned down, kissing Danny’s forehead, then carefully took his arm out from around the young man.  The lord straitened, yawning, and shivered at the morning dew; he shed his jacket and rung it out over the side.  “Ugh… wet wet…” he muttered.

“Mmm…”  Danny groaned, slowly waking up from Vlad’s movements.  He smiled down at his daughter, all snuggled up in his lap, and quietly yawned.  He turned his smile towards Vlad, chuckling as he watched the man mutter over his jacket.  

“Good morning, Vladimir,” he said in a soft tone, not wanting to wake up Danielle just yet.

The older man startled, glancing up, then nodded with a little smile.  “Good morning.”

Deciding his jacket was beyond saving, Vlad put it in the backseat and huffed, straightening his ruffled white sleeves and collar.  “It seems we’re over land,” he murmured, taking a look over the edge.  Mountains and green forest – an almost Switzerland-like landscape – passed by below them.  “Do you think we’re still in Europe?”

“I’m not sure, I… oh…”

Danny fell silent, eyes squinting a tad as he spotted something up ahead, the clouds beginning to thin.  His eyes widened as before them materialized a tall, grand castle, nestled right on top of a tall hill surrounded by mountains.  The dark stone of the castle gleamed under the sun, with rising spires reaching towards the heavens and multiple flags waving the national colors of Vulgaria.  

Danny leaned forward a tad, jaw dropping.  “I…  I think we might have reached our destination.”

He gently woke Danielle and had her move back into the backseat while he took the wheel, eyes peeled on the castle below as they began to descend.  His gaze immediately snapped to a familiar hot air balloon anchored right in front of the castle.

“Oh yes, this is definitely the place…”

Vlad swiftly braided his hair and looked down onto the courtyard.  “Do you see your father?” he asked.  Danielle grasped at his shoulder worriedly; he patted her hand.

Danny shook his head, frowning.  “No… it looks like they landed a little while ago, he must already be inside…”

His frown turned into a scowl as he turned the car, keeping just far enough to hopefully stay out of sight.  “Let’s circle around a bit, and see what we can see.  I’m sure wherever dad is, he’s doing just fine.”

~*~

“This way, this way, KEEP UP!!”

Jack followed after Youngblood hastily.  For such a tiny little general, he sure could move fast…

The zeppelin had touched down nearly half an hour ago and Jack had watched as the baron and his entourage had waltzed into the castle, leaving Youngblood to come scurrying over to collect their ‘guest’.  Jack followed him up the steps leading into the castle, looking around at all the guards that watched him go.  At the top of the steps he turned around and puffed up his chest, grinning.

“On behalf of her Majesty the Queen, I would like to–!”

“HEY!”  Youngblood snapped, waving at him.  “Come on!”

Jack grinned sheepishly at the guards as he followed the general hastily.  “Right, excuse me.”

Inside the castle he saw all manner of strange and colorful people.  They must have been some type of nobles, he assumed.  They sure dressed eccentrically enough for it.  Jack wasn’t sure yet WHAT these strange people must want from him, but he was sure it couldn’t be anything good.  Damn foreigners.

VROOM VROOM!

The big man startled as Youngblood came to an immediate stop, just as a two-wheeled motorcar monstrosity came roaring into the hall.  It screeched to a stop in front of them, and Jack quickly recognized the blond man seemingly in charge, sitting atop it.  

Baron Johnny eyed him up and down, then squinted at Youngblood.  “THIS is the inventor?” he scoffed.

The boy saluted.  “Yar, matey!  This be the inventor of the amazing flying car!!”

“Stop talking like that, kid.”

“Sorry…”

“Flying CAR?” Jack exclaimed.  “If I’d invented anything like that I’d be taking ACTUAL trips to the safari!!”

Johnny and Youngblood looked at him.

“…So… you’re NOT Daniel Fenton, the inventor?” the baron deadpanned.

“Well, I’m–”

“EXECUTIONER!!”

“NO NO, no need for that!”  Jack cut in loudly, laughing with a hint of panic.  “Sorry, sorry, I just misheard you!  Yes, you see, I AM Daniel Fenton the inventor!  Yes, I just um… my hearing isn’t so good in my age, you know?  Ha ha!”

The two stared at him for a moment, before Johnny smirked, patting Youngblood on the back so hard he nearly fell on his face.  “Ya see, I TOLD you it was him!  You shouldn’t doubt me!”

“No no, captain, never.”

“Right… Alright, inventor, let’s go!”  Johnny snapped, revving up his motorcar once more.  “I’ll show you to the laboratory.”

“Laborator–”

VROOM!

Jack and Youngblood had to run to keep up with the baron as he went speeding down the halls, leading them this way and that, further into the castle.  Suddenly, he slowed down, grimacing slightly as he drove at a crawl.  Jack raised an eyebrow at this, noticing that even the small general was trying to walk quietly.  Odd…

Johnny cursed under his breath as his hand slipped, revving the bike just slightly–

BANG!  A door flew open down the hall.

“JOHNNY~?”  came a high pitched female voice from a nearby room, followed by the sound of clicking heels.  “Is that you?”

“Hahahaha, heyyyyyyyy Kitten…” Johnny groaned, hunching over as a woman came…

FLOATING around the corner?

Jack stared, jaw practically hitting the floor.  Youngblood nudged him with a scowl.  Ignoring the silent order, the man leaned over to the kid, whispering in his ear as the green-haired duchess threw her arms around Baron Johnny, cooing over his outfit and motorbike. “What the heck is that?!”

“Hold your tongue!” Youngblood snapped, although he looked a little reluctant himself.  “That’s the baroness…”

“No, I mean why is she FLOATING?”

“This is the kingdom of ghosts, poophead!!” the kid hissed, throwing his hands up in the air.  “Don’t you know ANYTHING?”

“GHOSTS?!”

“Ooooh, Johnny, you look so powerful on this machine~” the baroness cooed as she straightened his hair.  Unlike the more casually dressed baron, Kitty was dressed in a gown fit for a woman of her so called status.  It was a lavish red dress, hidden mostly under her huge black fur coat.  She settled down on the ground, heels clicking against the stone once more as she scurried to the side to reach the back of Johnny’s mussed up hair.  

“Yeah, babe, it’s the best gift you ever got me~”  Johnny commented, smirking lopsidedly as she continued to fuss over him.  “But uh, I really need to go, soooo…”

Kitty opened her mouth to comment at that, only to pause when she caught sight of Jack, red lips pulling back in… disgust?

“Johnny…  WHAT is a human doing here??”  she exclaimed loudly, voice grating.

“Ahahaha… yeah, about that, babe!” Johnny replied sheepishly.  “You remember that sweet ride I went to steal a couple days ago for a birthday present to me?”

“Yes…?”

“Well, the real car was a little too much for our hooligans to steal, so we nabbed the inventor!” the baron said brightly.  “He’ll make my car!”

Kitty frowned, seeming to consider the idea.  “He’s going to make it able to fly right?  You said it could fly.”

“Of course, babe!”

“Hmm…  fine!”  she finally snapped, crossing her arms.  “But I don’t want to see him around the castle!  He’ll dirty it with his… ugh, human hands…”

“He’ll stay in the laboratory the whole time, your excellency!”  Youngblood chirped, dragging Jack away down the hall.  “You’ll never see his human face again till the car is done!”

“Yeah, I better not… ew!”

Jack was dragged off, left with more questions than answers as the little captain took him down staircase after staircase, deep into the dungeons…

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