A little while later, after they had packed up and Danielle had changed back into her dress, they were all seated in the car, just lounging in the sun.  Danielle was perched on the back, a little spy glass in her hands as she watched the coastline.  Danny turned around to look up at her, indulgent smile on his lips.

“What are you doing, little ghost?”

“I’m keeping an eye out for pirates!”  She proclaimed, before looking down towards Vlad.  “Do YOU think there are any pirates around here?”

“Oh, I’m sure there are~” Vlad smiled, then deepened his voice to play along.  “HUNDREDS of them!”

“Yes, of course there are!”  Danielle agreed, like Vlad had just confirmed everything for her.  “This is where they bury their treasure, right daddy?”

“Mhmm~”

Danielle twisted around, still looking at the sea through her spy glass.  She suddenly perked up, seeing something in the distance.  “A boat!  I can see a boat!”

Danny raised a brow, spotting the boat she was seeing easily enough.  A smirk graced his lips, before he altered his expression into a playfully concerned one.  “A boat…  A boat you say?”

“Yeah!”

“Well now… That’s not just ANY old boat out there,” he said, voice dropping to something deeper, serious, as he fell into story mode.  

Danielle immediately turned around to look at him, eyes wide and aglow with excitement.  “It’s not?”

“No…”  Suddenly, his voice took on a terrible mimicry of a german accent, making Vlad have to fight from snorting in amusement, while Danielle just became further enraptured.  “That there, is the private yacht of the notorious Baron Johnny!”

Danielle leaned forward, intrigued.  “Baron Johnny?”

Danny’s eyes widened in alarm.  “You’ve never heard of Baron Johnny?  Ghost ruler over the haunted country of Vulgaria?  The most EVIL man in the world?!”

“No!”

“Ja!”  Danny said, still keeping up with the ridiculous accent.  “And he has sailed all the way to England, because he has heard of a FANTASTIC motor car, built by the genius inventor, Daniel Fenton~”

“Hurray!”  Danielle cheered loudly, making Vlad laugh.  Danny’s proud expression quickly morphed to one of serious concern once more.  He pointed towards the ship in the distance, drawing Danielle’s attention to it.  “He has come to steal the car, and take it back to his ghostly undead kingdom, back in Vulgaria!”

“No!”

“Ja!”

~*~

The foreboding Vulgarian steamboat spewed smoke over the ocean waves.  On its deck, a small cluster of ghostly figures bunched together on the side of the ship.  The tallest of them – a man with greasy blonde hair, sallow skin, black robes of the nobility, and a captain’s hat so large it had to be compensating for something – stared hungrily through his spyglass at Chitty… parked so pristinely on the beach.

“UGH I want it I want it I want it I WANT IT I WANT IT!!” the ghost Baron Johnny yelled.

A blurb of talk rose from his entourage, and while it was unintelligible, Johnny whirled on them, green eyes glowing.  “ARE YOU ARGUING WITH ME?!” he barked.

“No, your Excellency!” Youngblood – the shrill-voiced first mate of the ship – declared, saluting.

“STAND BY THE BOATS, THEN!!” Johnny yelled.  The crew scattered left and right, yelling commands.  “AND LOAD THE CANNON!!”

~*~

Danielle stared out at the ship in horror.  “Oh no, he’s terrible!  Horrible!”

“Yes, he is,”  Danny agreed, dropping the fake accent.  “And not only that, he isn’t even very nice.”

“You won’t let him steal our lovely car will you, daddy?”  Danielle pleaded.  She turned to look back at the boat, only to gasp in dismay as they got closer.  “Oh no, they’re getting closer!  Quickly daddy, start the car!  We have to get away!”

“Well, little ghost, that’s easier said than done,” Danny admitted, looking a little sheepish.

“Why, daddy?”

“Because you see, what none of us have noticed the whole time we have been sitting here, the tide has slowly but surely been coming in.  And now…”  

Danny gestured around them, his face falling in dread.  “We are COMPLETELY cut off.”

Danielle and Vlad looked down in dawning horror to find that Danny was right, the water surrounded the car on all sides.  There couldn’t possibly be anything he could do… right?  Still, with the panicked shouts from his daughter, Danny jumped down from the car and into the water, hoping to find some way of getting them all out of there before it was too late.

Vlad jumped up worriedly.  “Is there anything I can do to help?” he called.

“The throttle, push the throttle!”

“Hurry, daddy!  Hurry!” Danielle cried.  “Quickly, daddy!  Before they get here!”

~*~

“Wouldja look at that!” Baron Johnny cackled.  He peered through the binoculars, smirking.  “They’re completely cut off by the tide!  Oh, I haven’t seen kids drowning in YEARS~”

His crew roared with laughter.

~*~

Chitty puttered, but didn’t start.  “It’s no good!” Vlad told Danny.  “It won’t start!”

Danny reached forward desperately to try and start up Chitty once again, but before he could crank it, something popped out from both sides of the little car.  Danny stumbled back, surprised, as the sudden new attachments began to inflate.  “What in the world…?!”

“You did it, daddy, you did it!”  Danielle squealed, clapping her hands excitedly.  

Danny shook his head, dumbstruck.  “I didn’t build this…”

“It’s a magic car, daddy!”  Danielle said with a smile.  “You said so yourself!”

Danny hesitated a moment before climbing back into the car, sharing a look with Vlad.  The older man’s face was alight in wonder as he looked at the young inventor; Danny blinked owlishly at him.  “Well, I… I guess I did!”

Vlad threw his head back in laughter.  “It’s uncategorical!” he exclaimed.

Danny blushed slightly, then looked bravely forward, stepping on the gas.  He wasn’t exactly sure what would happen back there, but nonetheless, the car moved forward!  Vlad grinned and held on, his long silver hair fluttering around his face as he stared out onto the ocean.  “A fuel-burning oracle!!”

The little girl in the backseat cheered loudly and leapt into Vlad’s lap, bouncing in excitement and laughing as Danny turned the shiny car over the waves like they were driving on land!

~*~

Baron Johnny gaped at the fantastic vehicle, jaw practically hitting the floor.  “A floating car?!  How’s that possible?!”

“Yarrrrr, it’s a car, floatin’ like a waterfowl~!”

“Shut up, Youngblood!”

~*~

“A phantasmical machine…”  Danny breathed in wonder, running his hands over the steering wheel with a bright grin, still looking a tad disbelieving.  His eyes suddenly lit up with impish delight as he turned to smile mischieviously at his daughter.  “How about we make those nasty pirate’s heads spin~?”

“Yeah!”

Danny laughed at her excited enthusiasm and steered the car away from shore and towards the pirate ship.  He pressed down on the gas, crowing in excitement as it sped up and practically flew over the water.  The motorcar was much faster than a single pirate ship, even if it WAS manned by a ghostly crew.  Danielle cried out happily as they soared around the back of the ship, her cheerful cries echoing over the water as she called the Baron all kinds of names.  Danny turned to grin at her, about to offer up his own idea of what she could call the Baron, when a loud cracking boom filled the air.

BOOM!  SPLASH.

Danny whirled back around, just in time to steer the car out of the way.  “What in the–”

“They’re firing at us, the scoundrels!” Vlad growled.  He wrapped his arms protectively around Danielle, keeping her in the car.  “Quick!  Back to shore!”

The inventor nodded quickly and turned Chitty back around, roaring back towards the sand; he wasn’t precisely sure what would happen when they hit land, but he didn’t see any sort of button or lever that would make the car switch modes, so… he just had to believe.  

Amazingly – sure enough – as soon as they hit shallow water, the raft under Chitty deflated and the wheels came back down.  Vlad and Danielle turned – eyes wide – to see the pirate ship grind up against the sandbar, the furious cries of the pirates audible from even down the road.  “YAYYYYYYYY!” Danielle cried, throwing her arms around her father.

Vlad gave Danny a congratulatory clap on the back.  “Well done, Mr. Fenton!!”

Danny blinked wide eyes at Vlad, barely concealing his flush before smiling.   “Ah, yes!  Thank you!  Now, let’s get out of here!”

The young inventor quickly switched gears and drove the car as fast as he dared over the sands and off the beach, not even slowing down when they hit the road.  He would feel better once they were all home and safe…

~*~

“You FOOLS!”  Johnny cried, standing up with some effort while banging his telescope over Youngblood’s head.  “GET UP, you IDIOT!”

He turned to glare at the shore as the car drove out of sight, snarling in outrage.  “Look what they did to my SHIP!  UGH!”

The young ghost Baron whipped around on Youngblood, eyes glowing in his rage.  “Where are my two spies?  Get them!  NOW!”

~*~*~

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang purred down the road, its wheels running smoothly from dirt to gravel and dappled sunlight shining through the branches of the willows that grew on the side of the road.  A tall, clean wall of white stone had been running along the left side for miles.

“Just keep following the wall,” Vlad said to Danny, smiling.  “We’ll get to the gate soon.”

“Alright,”  Danny agreed, keeping watch for said gate.  Little Danielle was curled up, fast asleep in the back seat.  She had worn herself out with such an adventure.  Danny looked back at her and smiled fondly, before resuming to focus on the road.  A moment of silence passed.

“You know, Lord Masters–?”

“Vladimir,” the older gentlemen corrected.  “Or just Vlad, please.”

“Right, Vlad…”  the younger man murmured, looking a little abashed.  “You know… I really owe you an apology.”

Vlad glanced at Danny curiously.  “In what way?”

“For my horrid behavior the first time we met…”  Danny explained with a sigh.  “I was tired and frustrated and you were FAR from the first person to bring up my daughter’s wellbeing to me and I just… I took it out on you and for that I’m sorry.”

He was quiet for a moment, before continuing.  “You see, I raised Danielle all on my own since she was a newborn.  I can be… protective and defensive, because no one really understands what it’s like, what all I DO for her… They just see a very young man with a little girl, and no mother…”

Vlad felt a pang in his heart for the young man.  “I… I suppose I have reason to apologize, too,” he admitted.  “I didn’t know the full story when I was accusing you of being negligent.  Danielle is a wonderful girl, and you are a better father than most men could ever be in your situation.”

“I thank you for that, but you have no reason to apologize.  You were concerned, and you had every right to be.”  Danny’s brows furrowed.  “My little ghost had no business running out into the road like that, she knows better…”

He glanced at Vlad, smiling softly.  “She likes you, and you are kind to her.  I’m thankful for that.  She has few friends, besides myself and my father…”

“Speaking of your father, he seems familiar somehow…” Vlad murmured to himself.  He thought on it for a second, then waved it off.  “Ah, I’ll figure it out later, I suppose…”

The older man glanced over at Danny, slowly taking in his soft blue eyes, long dark hair, and long, lithe body…

He really was a lovely man…

A lovely, lonely man…

Suddenly, the car came to a halt.  Vlad startled and glanced up to see they had arrived at the gate of his estate.  Danny hopped out of the car and came around to open Vlad’s door, bowing cheekily at him.  “Your castle awaits, my lord!”

He dropped the act after a moment, giving Vlad an honest smile.  “I– I mean, Danielle would love to see you again, so don’t be a stranger, okay?”

Danny blushed, rubbing the back of his neck before stepping away and returning to the car, keeping his eyes down and away from the older, handsome man.  He inwardly chastised himself for the slip, for seeming so eager.  It seemed it wasn’t just Danielle who truly hungered for outside companionship…

Suddenly, a large, warm hand touched his shoulder.  “Wait.”

Danny blinked and stared up at Vlad.  The handsome older man smiled down at him.  “Your car truly is magnificent,” he said earnestly.  “I would love to visit your workshop again and see how you made it.  Perhaps go for another ride in the countryside soon?”

“O-oh?  Yes!  Yes, of course!”  Danny said quickly, almost stumbling over his words.  He smiled happily, posture relaxing.  “Yeah, I’d really like that.  And Danielle would love to see you again, we can make it another picnic!”

He flushed.  “I mean, if you would like that, of course…”

Just then, the gates opened wide as one of Vlad’s servants came to let him back onto his estate.  Danny took that as his cue to leave.  He started the engine, giving Vlad another soft smile.  “I look forward to seeing you again then.  Goodbye, Vladimir.”

“And I you, Daniel,” Vlad smiled happily.  “Goodbye for now~”

Danny returned the smile with a happy one of his own, before backing the car up and turning around, heading back towards home.  Vlad stayed to watch till he was out of sight…

Then, he sighed longingly and turned, striding through the gate and dismissing the servant with a wave of his hand.  However, he didn’t go to the house right away – in favor of wandering his grounds, basking in the sunshine and the flora and fauna that wandered the property.  He didn’t get a chance to do this often… only when he was thinking about things that weren’t work-related, when he could appreciate the beauty of the little streams and pretty white flowers, quaint little swings hanging from a willow branch, marble fountains with a statue of Venus.  His heart swelled as his thoughts lingered on Danny, hopelessly lovesick in the best of ways.  It almost made him want to sing…

“This lovely, lonely man,

I’ve only known a day~

I look at him, and cannot look away…”

Vlad playfully splashed the fountain and spun, his platinum hair flowing loose and free around his face.  “He’s such a love~!  He’s such a lovely, lonely man~!” he sang.

“How did he touch my heart~?

How did this feeling start?

This glow that feels so warm inside!

This sudden summer storm inside~”

The man beamed, hopping along the stepping stones and for once not caring that the water splashed on him.  Then, he spotted the willow tree, laughed – his heart soaring – and jumped with both feet onto the bench that swung from it, feeling like a lovesick boy again as he grabbed the chains and swung it back and forth.

My life now has a plan!

To someday make him see,

That I need him as much as he needs me!!”

Vlad’s deep, magnificent voice rang out across the grounds…

And then, the silver-haired man smiled softly, chest heaving and hair everywhere.  Slowly, he sat on the bench, dragging his boots along the ground until he was swinging softly, gently.  “Oh what a love…” Vlad sang in a quiet voice.  “Oh what a lovely, lonely man…”

He closed his eyes, smiling to himself.  “Oh, how I love this one and only man…”

~*~*~

While the three of them were out the in the country a few days later, a simple little white motorcar came cruising up to the Fentonworks residence.  The driver, a short round fellow with a balding hairline, was dressed in an ill-fitting chauffeur’s suit.  It was far too small for his figure, and the coat was stretching the buttons quite visibly.  Behind him sat a tall, skinny man with a shock of white hair that seemed to curl out this way and that underneath his top hat, looking like the deranged man had been electrocuted.  He had on a pair of round, tinted glasses that only caused his skinny face to look even more drawn and pale.  He was dressed in a fine gentleman’s suit, but his was far too big and the jacket hung over his skinny shoulders.  The clothing had obviously been stolen and both of them looked very out of place, with pale – almost blue in the round one’s case – skin.

As the car pulled to a stop, the tall one sighed, leaning back in his seat.  “Alright, you know the plan, Box Ghost!”  he said in a squeaky, nasally voice.  “We grab the inventor, and take him back to the Baron!”

“But I thought he wanted the car?”  the other asked, voice low and whiny.  

The other glared at him.  “We failed to get the car, so we grab the next best thing.  The one who made it, you fool!”

“Oh, right…”

The tall one side in exasperation.  “The plan is simple, we are normal English gentleman.”

“Right, right.”

“Which means we ACT like English gentlemen.”

“Right!”

“Sooo…  OPEN THE DOOR!”  he screeched, slapping the others head with his gloves, voice raging to a high squeal.  “I will not have you ruining my GENIUS plan!”

“Sorry, Technus!”

The Box Ghost hurried to open the door for the older, smarter ghost, but still looked a little miffed as he went over to the sign in front of the Fenton’s house.  “Daniel Fenton, INVENTOR!” Technus read, laughing loudly.  “HA!  He would tremble before the might of my machines!!”

“Uhhhhh…”

The blue-skinned ghost pointed.  “Is that him?”

Technus whirled around, looking down the walkway just in time to see a very large man exit the house, dressed up in a sharp, British military uniform.  Jack was humming loudly to himself as he strutted out of the house, walking with a purposeful stride.  

The taller ghost smirked, nodding.  “Ah, typical English eccentric!  That MUST be the inventor!”  he gave his partner a nod.  “Follow my lead!”

The Box Ghost watched as Technus straightened his back and held his head high, strutting forward like a peacock.  He followed the other ghost’s move, head held too high and legs too straight as he stepped forward.  Jack paused when he finally saw them, raising a brow at their weird display.

“Pardon me?!”  Technus asked loudly, causing Jack to lean back away from him a tad.  “But do we have the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Fenton?”

Jack straightened up, striking a heroic pose.  “That’s RIGHT!  You should be pleasured indeed!” he declared.  “That’s me!  The one and only MR. FENTON!”

He pointed at Technus, still grinning.  “However, if you’re trying to tell me something, my name is Mr. Potts.”

The man popped a hat on his head and strode past the pair.  “Excuse me~!” he announced, throwing upon the door to his shed.  “I’m off to Africa!”

With a heroic salute, Jack disappeared inside his shed.  Technus laughed loudly, wrapping an arm around a confused Box Ghost and pulling him in closer.  Not that he needed to, mind, it wasn’t like he was whispering.

“‘Africa’, HA!  That was a clever ruse to put us off the scent!  I know where he is going!”

“Where?”  the shorter one asked, looking intrigued and confused.  

Technus just beamed at his own genius.  “Why, he has gone into his laboratory!  Now, quickly!  The portable wireless transmitter!”

“Yes, boss!”  the other ghost shouted, quickly running back to the car to grab their ‘portable wireless transmitter’.  He carried it back to Technus over his back, holding as still as possible while the taller one pulled up an antenna and cranked a few wheels, before pulling back the little microphone as static poured out of the speakers.  

“‘Ello?”

“Yes, this is Technus!”  he all but screamed into the mic.  “I have successfully obtained the package!  Send transport immediately!”

~*~*~

A few hours later, an enormous blimp showed up – with the crest of Vulgaria on its side and the baron in its basket.  Technus and Box Ghost squealed and ran around in circles, trying to get the driver’s attention before they finally realized they should probably hook “the inventor’s laboratory” up properly; with a hook, they attached it to the blimp and scurried up the ladder.  A few bumbling minutes later, the aircraft began to rise…

“Pull me up, PULL ME UP!!” Technus screamed, stepping on the Box Ghost’s head as he was pulled up by a member of the crew.  The other ghost followed and soon the craft was rising higher and higher until…

Jack’s shed, with Jack still inside, lifted right off of the ground.  The big man threw open the door in an attempt to get out, but it was already up too high.  He slammed the door shut again, staring wide eyed out through his little window.  “What’s going on?  I’m flying!”

~*~

A few miles away, out in the country, Danielle spotted a big, dark shape flying just ahead.  She blinked, looking at it curiously.  “What’s that?  It looks like a big balloon!”

“It’s a zeppelin, sweetie,” Danny corrected, even as his eyes narrowed suspiciously at the large aircraft.  “But what’s it doing here…?”

Vlad cocked his head, brows furrowed as he adjusted his white top hat.  “And what in the world is that underneath?” he asked aloud.

Danny’s eyes suddenly widened as they got closer.  “That’s… that’s my father’s hut!”

“What’s it doing up there?!”

“Well, I don’t know!”  Danny cried, pulling the car to a stop as they began to pass underneath the zepplin.  Jack stuck his head out and waved at them wildly.  “Daniel!  Danny, my boy! I’ve been kidnapped!  By FOREIGNERS!”

“Grandpa!”  Danielle cried, waving her arms towards him in distress.  

Danny stood up in the car, calling out to him.  “Dad!  DAD!”

“Danny, HELP!”

Danny quickly realized the zeppelin was about to fly past them, so he sat back down and started to turn the car around, an angered, determined expression on his face.  “Oh, they’re not getting away this, no SIR!  Hold on everyone!”

“Sit down, Danielle!”  Vlad cried, pulling her down so she was seated safely, even as she continued to wave her arms about.

“Hurry, daddy!”

The car sputtered loudly as Danny pushed it to its limits, roaring down the little dirt road after the fast aircraft.  “Hand on, dad, we’re coming!”

“No one tries to kidnap Jack Fenton!” Jack yelled up at the blimp.  “When my son gets his hands on you you’re all going to be sorry!!”

“Sprightly old codger, isn’t he?” Vlad observed, brows furrowed.

Danielle giggled.  “Heehee, you’re almost as old as grandpa is and you’re calling him a codger~!”

The silver-haired man frowned to himself, a bit troubled by the truth of that statement.

Meanwhile, Danny kept his eyes narrowed 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!”

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