After a very eventful night at the fair–the automatic hair cutting machine was not quite the success Danny had hoped for–Danny somehow managed to scrape up enough money to not only buy the old car from Mr. Lancer, but also enough for repair supplies.  Little Danielle was obviously thrilled, but she soon became less so as her father spent day and night in his workshop, working on the car.  Grandpa Jack had warned her that it might take weeks before her father was done, but Danny surprised them both by revealing the new, shiny car on the day he promised.

FWEET!!

The sudden whistle made Danielle jump up from her seat inside the house.  “It’s daddy!  He’s done with the car!”

She raced out of the house towards the barn – which also served as her father’s secondary workshop – only to skid to a stop as she spotted her father and the car.  

“Wow…”

The car looked brand new, polished and running smoothly.  Never once would she have guessed this was the old car she used to play in at Mr. Lancer’s!  Where the junk vehicle had been rusting and dull, now it was shining so bright she could see her face in it, flaunting polished oak accents and plush red seats, rims shining such a beautiful vermillion she could hardly believe her eyes!

Danny walked up around the side of the car, all dressed up for a day’s ride with a smug look on his face.  He gave Danielle a grin, leaning against the side of the car.  “Well?  What do you think of her?”

“It’s wonderful!  Oh daddy, you’re so clever!”  Danielle gushed, coming to run a loving a hand along the polished surface.  “Can we go for a drive, daddy?!  Please?”

“A drive~?”  

Danny’s smile grew wider as he bent down a tad to meet his daughter’s big blue eyes.  “I got a better idea~  How about a picnic?”

“A picnic?!  YAY!”

Danny laughed, steering her towards the car.  “The basket is already strapped to the back, just hop on in!”

Danielle did so excitedly, bouncing on the red leather seats.  She stood and waved her arms when she saw Jack come strolling out of the house all decked out in furs and winter apparel.  “Come on, grandpa!  We’re going on a picnic!”

“Oh, I doubt it will run my dear, not if this one has anything to do with it~” Jack teased at his son, not actually meaning a word he said.  He shared in his son’s pride when Danny did indeed manage to start the car without any issue.  He laughed jollily.  “Well, then it will never stop!”  he joked.  “Besides, it’s too hot for a picnic, so I’ll pass.”

“Where are you off to, dad?”  Danny asked curiously, eyeing his strange outfit.

Jack beamed.  “I’m off to Alaska, my boy!  Cheerio!”

“Bye, grandpa!  Come on, daddy, lets go!”  Danielle called between giggles.  Danny laughed as he climbed into the car beside her, and with a loud whoop from her part, they were off.  The car drove smoothly down the hill and away from their home, chugging along almost happily.  

Danielle leaned out of the car slightly, a thoughtful look on her face.  “What a funny noise it’s making!”

“She’s talking to us!” Danny concluded, humoring her.  “All engines talk~”

Danielle turned to look at him, interest perked.  “What’s she saying?”

“Hmm…”  Danny thought, head cocked to the side as he listened to the sound of the engine.  “She’s saying… Chitty, chitty, chitty, chitty–”

BANG BANG!

Both Danny and his daughter jumped in place a bit as the engine backfired loudly.  Danielle laughed in delight.  “Bang, bang!”

Danny laughed with her, nodding.  “Chitty chitty, bang bang~  That’s what she’s saying~”

“How marvelous!”  Danielle concluded.  “Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang~”

“Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang~” Danny joined in, laughing.

“Oh you pretty Chitty Bang Bang,

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

We love you.”

Danny and his daughter waved to the neighbors and the fellow townspeople as they drove past them, both equally proud of their little motor car.

“And, in

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

What we’ll do.”

Danny nearly crashed from how much his daughter was making him laugh with her antics, watching as she danced in her seat to the little song.  She excitedly waved to her fellow schoolmates as they drove through town, obviously delighting in their jealousy.

“Near, far, in our motor car. Oh what a happy time we’ll spend.

Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Our fine four fendered friend.

Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Our fine four fendered frieeeeend~!”

“Oh daddy, look out!”

Danny cursed under his breath as he swerved on the narrow road, trying to prevent them from hitting the golden car that was driving right at them.  He immediately pulled over and stopped, turning around to see if the other driver was okay…!

“Oh no…”

Just his luck, that the other driver had been none other than Lord Vladimir Masters…

And he had driven his car right into the marsh.  AGAIN.

The president of the sweet company whirled around, eyes ablaze.  “Well, wasn’t THAT A CLEVER THING TO–!”

Then Vladimir blinked, recognizing the inventor and his daughter in the glamorous car.  “Oh, Mr. Fenton.  Danielle.”

He relaxed a bit, huffing in resignment.  The older man’s silver hair was pulled onto a long braid down his back today, dressed in a classy white top hat and a billowing-sleeved, high-necked shirt with black riding pants and gentleman’s riding boots.  He pulled off his crisp white gloves and gave Danny a look.  “Is this a hereditary trait?” Vlad asked, only half joking at this point.  “Driving people off the road?  Seems a dangerous gene.  COULD get someone killed one day.”

Danny quickly climbed down from his car, moving towards the marsh with intent to help the older man in anyway he could.  “I am SO sorry Lord Masters!  It’s… It’s been awhile since I’ve had an automobile, it won’t happen again.”

He eyed the man’s fine suit fretfully.  “Oh, you’re going to get your clothes ruined… again, I’m really sorry, can I give you a hand?  I can call Mr. Lancer to come give your car a tow…”

Vlad sighed, but he smiled – only a little bitterly – at the younger man’s fearful blue eyes.  It was like trying to stay mad at a puppy.  “That’d be lovely, Mr. Fenton,” he replied.  “Thank you.”

Danielle suddenly stood up on the seat of the car, beaming widely.  “We’re headed to the seaside, for a picnic!  Won’t you join us?  Please?”

“Well I–”

“We got sausage tarts!”  Danielle cut in, bouncing in excitement. “And marmalade rolls!”

Danny chuckled, running a hand nervously along the back of his neck.  “I’m afraid I got her a little mixed up, haha~”

Vlad raised an eyebrow, then glanced back at Danielle… then his lips twitched.  After a minute, he gave in and laughed.  A day at the beach might be nice…

And so, that was how Danny, Vladimir, and Danielle all piled in the car to spend a day at the seaside, in a little cove where the sapphire waves crashed white against the pebbles of the shore.  It was a beautiful summer day – the sky was cornflower blue, wildflowers sprouting on the grassy hills that surrounded the little inlet, and the sun shone bright.

Danielle and Danny set up a little tent so they could change into their swimsuits, matching little blue striped outfits.  Danny had pulled his hair up in a messy looking bun, keeping a good bit of his hair out of the way, while Danielle had hers braided.  Danny came rushing out of the tent with Danielle thrown over his shoulder, laughing and squealing all the way to the water where they jumped in with a loud SPLASH!

Vlad even joined them at one point, taking off his socks and shoes and rolling his pant legs up.  They ate lunch there, swapping stories, and even had a game of tag along the shore line.  All in all, it had turned out to be a spectacular day.

Danny went to clean and pack up the finished picnic, so Danielle dragged Vlad away to go seashell hunting with her.  Vlad worked at unbraiding his hair; the ocean breeze had whipped loose too many tendrils to reasonably keep it in, and he liked the feeling of the wind.  Finally managing to undo the last plait, he dragged his fingers through his long silver locks – shaking them out.  The ocean breeze tugging at them with admiring fingers as his mane fluttered about his shoulders and face, like a pure white halo in the sun.

“Thank you for coming with us, Vlad!”  Danielle said with a smile, skipping along as she gathered pretty seashells.  “Daddy doesn’t have any friends his own age to play with.”

Vlad raised his brows.  “Oh?” he asked.  

Danielle nodded, not seeming to notice the look he was giving her as she moved on ahead down the shoreline.  “He claims he’s too busy, with his inventions and running the house and taking care of me…  But I know that’s not it.”

She picked up a shell, gasping in delight when she found a little crab inside.  She showed it to Vlad before tossing it back out to sea.  “Daddy just thinks he doesn’t have time for friends… or love.  He thinks he has to dedicate all his time to me.  But that’s silly!”  She proclaimed, hands on her hips.  “I’m a big girl now, I can take care of myself!  Daddy should start taking care of HIMSELF now!”

She nodded her head proudly, turning to march down the shore again, head held high like the adult she seemed to think she was.

Vlad pulled his hair over his shoulder, absently playing with it as he absorbed this information.

“…Well, Danielle, you have to think about whether your father WANTS love or not,” he informed the little girl.  He was a solid believer in the fact that when adults talked down to children it did their young minds more harm than good.  “Maybe he wants to love just you.  Maybe, even if there is somebody out there that he might grow to have a relationship with, he sees YOU as his world.”

Danielle frowned a bit at this, seeming displeased.  “But… but he’s LONELY!”

She turned around to look at Vlad, talking to him on just as equal of a level as he was to her.  “I know he is!  He has me and he has grandpa but I see him!  I hear him!”

She shook her head sadly.  “Daddy stays up most nights, reading, or just… thinking.  He doesn’t know I see him.  Sometimes, I think he might cry…”

Her brows furrowed, looking as upset as any girl could for her father.  “Daddies aren’t supposed to be lonely!  Or sad!  It’s not FAIR!”

Vlad’s heart ached for the little girl in front of him.  Poor thing… it was hard to see a parent like that…

It was hard to BE that parent.

//I guess I never really saw him like that…// he realized silently.  //He’s a man who is trying his best to provide for his daughter with what he has… and I just went up to him and called him negligent with this little girl who is his whole world…//

Kneeling on the rocks, Vlad put a comforting hand on Danielle’s hair.  “What do YOU think is fair for your daddy, Danielle?” he asked quietly.  “What would make YOU happy?”

Danielle seemed to actually think about that question for a moment, like she needed to sort the answer out in her head.  “Well… I want him to be happy!  I know he says he’s happy now, and he is!  But… I don’t think he’s as happy as he SHOULD be!  He… He deserves to have someone who will… will… spend time with him!  Yeah!”

She began to perk up as she continued to answer him, bouncing a little on the soles of her feet.  “Someone to talk to and laugh with!  Someone who will take care of HIM and make HIM happy, like he does for me and grandpa!”

She scowled suddenly, pouting.  “Daddy can’t take care of himself really good you know.  He forgets to eat sometimes, or sleep.  He’s too focused on me and grandpa.”

The little girl crossed her arms and then nodded once, like she had suddenly found her answer.  “He needs someone to take care of him and love him and make him happy!  Then he won’t be lonely anymore!” she huffed, stomping her little foot.  “Now if only daddy would see that…”

Dani frowned a bit, looking disheartened.  “Or maybe he already does… and he just won’t try…  Oh, daddy…”

Vlad stared at her in shock and heartache.  This poor little girl was so smart, and she KNEW her father and wanted him to be happy…

The older man quickly changed the subject, presenting Danielle with a pretty shell.  He wasn’t sure if he could continue that conversation…

Finally, between the two of them they had collected a bucket full of shells.  Danielle went to start a sand castle, skipping off to the shoreline.  Raising a hand, Vlad bid her good luck – then sighed sadly, standing there for a long moment, his pure white shirt and silver hair billowing in the wind.  He wasn’t sure what to think about this little family anymore…

Finally, Vlad glanced down the beach.

Danny’s feet were sticking out from under the car – “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” he had called it?  Vlad chuckled and began to walk over to him.

“Mr. Fenton?” he called when he was close enough.

BANG!  

“OW!”

Clatter clatter!  “I’m fine!  Hang on a sec!”

After a bit of flailing, Danny scuttled out from under the car.  There was a smidgen of grease on his cheek and his hair was a mess, but his smile was blinding when he spotted Vlad.  “Hey, somebody call~?” he grinned.

Vlad couldn’t help but laugh as he offered his hand down to Danny.  “Are you alright?” he chuckled, trying to cover his smile.  “I’m sorry about that.”

“Oh, it’s fine!  No harm done at all!”  Danny brushed a hand down his trousers, dusting off the sand.  He had gone ahead and changed back into his regular clothes after they had finished their lunch.   He moved around to continue checking the maintenance of the car.  “So, what’s up?”

Vlad’s face softened – although Danny didn’t see it.  “You know, Mr. Fenton… you have a wonderful daughter,” he told the younger man.  “She really cares about you.”

Danny looked up, a pleased smile on his lips.  “Thank you.  I have to agree with you there.”

He walked around Vlad, putting the last of his tools away, before turning to look out at the ocean.  He smiled softly, taking in the sight as the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, casting the water in a golden hue.

“Isn’t it beautiful…?”

Vlad’s eyes wandered slowly up the silhouette of that messy, lovely, lonely man… from his feet, all the way up to his face, his long black hair, those beautiful, sad blue eyes and that soft, untouched mouth…

“Lovely…” Vlad agreed, a smile spreading over his lips.  “Just lovely.”

From the rocks, Danielle watched the two adults with a knowing look in her eyes.  Vlad liked her daddy, she could tell.  Now, if she could just get her daddy to admit he liked him back, then maybe they could kiss!  And then get married!  Then her daddy would HAVE to let Vlad take care of him…

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