“Hi, Vlad!” Danielle chirped, swinging her legs happily on the bench where she sat as she sucked on one of the sweets.  

Danny turned around, flushing slightly as he spotted that handsome older man again.  

Dressed all in white, Vlad raised a critical eyebrow at him.  Danny ducked his head slightly before striding over, offering the man an honest apologetic smile.  He had done a lot of thinking last night, and he realised just how out of sorts he had been the day before…

“Vladimir… Right?  Listen, I’m so sorry about yesterday, I wasn’t in the best of moods and I never should have taken it out on you like that, I–”

“Lord Masters!”  The snooty man from before suddenly interjected as he noticed Vlad at the door.  “The documents you requested are in your office!”

Danny blinked, before flushing crimson.  “Masters… As in… ‘Sweets’?”

Vlad smirked, looking amused.  “Yes, that’s right.”

“Oh boy…”  Danny shook his head, looking terribly embarrassed.  “Come on, Danielle, I think it’s time we go home.”

“But you haven’t showed him your invention yet!”

“I have a feeling he won’t be interested, honey…”

Vlad raised his brows at that.  He caught Danny’s arm as he passed.  “Just a moment, Mr. Fenton!” he requested.  “I’m an entrepreneur, I’m always interested in new products.  What exactly did you want to show me?”

Danny chuckled, still looking a little embarrassed.  “Ah, well, you’ve seen them…”

“Oh… those?”

“But they whistle!”  Danielle cried, holding her sweet aloft.  

Vlad’s eyes widened in surprise.  “Whistle?”

Danny held up one of the sweets from the bag.  “The um, holes?”

Danielle held out an uneaten sweet to him, smiling encouragingly.  “You just blow through them!”

Vlad accepted it from the little girl.  He eyed it with a calculating look, then slowly brought it to his lips.

Toot!

He blinked, raising his eyebrows in surprise.

Danny smiled softly at the look on the man’s handsome face.  “Kind of a… novelty, isn’t it?”

Chuckling, Vlad nodded.  “Indeed!” he agreed.

He bit the little candy, chewing thoughtfully.  “Hm!  Rasberry,” he analyzed.  “Do they come in any other flavors?”

Danny blinked in surprise before catching himself, nodding eagerly.  “Y-yes!”

He reached into the back and pulled out a light pink striped candy and a yellow one.  He held them out to Vlad for him to inspect.  “They also come in strawberry, lemon, and pineapple.”

The older man accepted them and took a small bite of each.  He chewed, eyes thoughtfully – if unconsciously – locked on Danny’s big blue ones.

Danny swallowed, mouth suddenly going dry while under the older man’s gaze.  He stuttered a bit, glancing down at his daughter to hide the flush trying to crawl up his cheeks.  Danielle blinked back, thinking her father’s distress came from nervousness.  She didn’t want Vlad to frighten him…

Maybe she could boost his confidence?  This was his dream after all!  To have one of his inventions work and be recognised!  She turned back to Vlad, looking up at him with a big smile.

“Don’t waste your pucker on some all-day sucker!”

Danny startled, looking at his kid like she had grown a second head.  She carried on, uncaring of the attention she was gathering.  

“And don’t try a toffee or cream!  If you seek perfection, in sugar confection, well there’s something new on the scene!”

She reached into the bag of candy her father held, and pulled out one of the sweets.  “A mouthful of cheer, a sweet without peer!”

“A musical, morsel supreme~!”

Dani blew into the sweet, making it whistle cheerfully.  

“Toot sweets, toot sweets~!

The candies you whistle,

The whistle you eat~!”

A bright, delighted smile spread over Vlad’s face.  He laughed, grinning at Danny, then bent his knees so he could continue to watch Danielle from her level.  She was such an adorable little girl…

“Toot sweets, toot sweets~!

The eatable, tweetable, treats~!”

Toot toot toot~!

Danielle danced around her father, drawing him into her play.  She had always had a knack for sucking him into her little worlds, and today was no different.  He soon forgot about everyone around them and where they were as he laughed at her antics. Danny set down the bag after taking out his own sweet, and started to whistle along with her.

Then, he joined in the song.

“Toot sweets, toot sweets~!

The toot of a flute with a flavor of fruit~!”

Toot~!  Danny gave her a little spin, dancing with her easily as she continued to play her little candy whistle.

“Toot sweets, toot sweets~!

No longer need candy be mute~!”

Toot toot toot~!

Smiling along with them, Vlad clapped merrily with their tune.  His dark blue eyes twinkled affectionately.  To be honest, when he had first met Mr. Fenton and his daughter, he had found Danielle charming enough… but her father too negligent for her own good.  However, seeing these two like this; Danny had to be a good father.  

Or… at least trying his very, very best with what little he had.

Danny laughed as he continued to dance his daughter around the room, the little toots of the candy whistles filling the air.  He suddenly knelt down to Danielle’s level as they sang together.

“Don’t waste your pucker on some all-day sucker~!”

“And don’t try a toffee or cream~!”

He lifted her up and spun her before settling her back down on the bench.  They held their sweets aloft proudly, making a striking pair.

“If you seek perfection in sugar confection, then there’s something new on the scene~!”

“That mouthful of cheer~!”  Danielle crowed.

“That sweet without peer~!”  Danny trilled, voice amused and light as he sang.  “That musical morsel supreme~!”

Vlad straightened, smiling at the laughing young father.  //I can think of another musical morsel~// he thought to himself.  Half-kidding.  Probably.  He frowned to himself, the thought catching up with him.  //Wait.//

“That savory fife~!

That sweet of your life~!

Is clearly the best of the bunch~!”

Danny lifted his daughter once more into a spin, joyful giggles and whistles filling the air before he finally set her down.  They danced together once more, his eyes only on her.

“Toot sweets, toot sweets~!

The bonbon to blow on, at last has been found~!”

“Toot sweets, toot sweets~!

The treat that’s so tweetable,

Lusciously eatable,

With that unbeatable~~!!”

“Sooouuuuunnddd~!!”

They finished off the song with a loud harmonious tweet, before Danielle fell into a fit of giggles.  Danny laughed as well, scooping her up and hugging her close.  “My little ghost, you are an utter scamp!”

“But daddy, it worked!”  Danielle proclaimed loudly and proudly.  “You’re not nervous anymore!”

Danny blinked, surprised.  “Nervous–?”

And then it seemed reality had come crashing down on Danny as he whirled around to face Vlad.  His face drained dangerously of all color before flushing scarlet.  He ducked his head, backing out of the room.  

“I-I’m so sorry, we m-must have caused you qu-quite a scene, I–”

Danny bowed, then turned and all but ran from the factory.  “Goodbye!”

He never realised that he had left his bag of sweets right there in Vlad’s hands.

A laugh was startled from the older man, and while he did have some time to stop the two from leaving his factory, he didn’t.  He had an odd feeling in his chest…

Vlad glanced down at the bag of candy, brows furrowed in confusion.

He opened the bag with a rustle of paper, took a candy, and munched on it thoughtfully.  Mr. Fenton – no… Danny – had left him a lot to think about…

~*~*~

Later that night, Danny crept up into the attic bedroom of his little girl.  He smiled softly as he watched her sleeping in her bed.  He turned to leave–

“Daddy!”

Only to turn back around in surprise.  “Now why aren’t you asleep?” he asked.

“Please don’t be sad, daddy!” Danielle pleaded.  “It’s not your fault!  If Vlad doesn’t like the sweets, then he has no taste in candy!”

Danny chuckled, coming over to sit on her bedside.  “I think there are quite a few people that might disagree with you there, little ghost.”

There was a moment of silence, before Danny spoken again.  “Honey, about the car… 30 shillings is really hard to come by…”

“I know, daddy!”  Danielle proclaimed, crawling out of her dad’s lap to grab a wooden box by her bed.  She opened it to reveal a collection of knick knacks.  “It’s my treasure chest!  See, an ivory tusk, that must be worth a fortune!  And these jewels, and an old crown!”

Everything she pointed at was indeed priceless, treasured only by her and her imagination.  Danny smiled softly.  “Oh, little ghost…”

“You could sell it, daddy, and get our car!”

Danny sighed softly, then closed her little box and placed it back beside her bed.  “These are wonderful treasures, honey, but I don’t think anyone else will want them…  They won’t appreciate them, they don’t see things the way you do…  Besides, they’re yours and you love them.  You should keep them close.”

Danny pouted.  “Okay, daddy…”

“Come on now, it’s time for bed.”

He tucked her in under the old quilt, brushing back a lock of her dark hair as he gazed down at her lovingly and began to sing the song her mother had sung for her when she was a baby… and that Danny had sung for her ever since.  

“A gentle breeze from Hushabye Mountain…” he hummed.

“Softly blows o’er lullaby bay.

It fills the sails of boats that are waiting–

Waiting to sail your worries away…”

Danny stroked her cheek, as always, feeling the sweet, soft ache of loneliness that he experienced whenever he sang this lullaby.  

“It isn’t far to Hushabye Mountain…

And your boat waits down by the quay,” he murmured, slowly getting up from her bed.

“The winds of night so softly are sighing–

Soon they will fly your troubles to sea…”

His singing growing softer and softer, Danny walked backwards – his eyes gazing softly, lovingly down at his little daughter.  She was so important to him… more important than his inventions or this house or any material possession.  The reason Danny had gotten so defensive whenever Vlad had tried to tell him how to be a parent is that, truly?  He struggled to be a good parent.  He tried his hardest, but she was born when he was very young, and while his dad tried to help, he wasn’t the greatest paternal figure in the world, either.  Jack had a good heart, though.  It helped.  A little.

“So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain…”

Danny touched the knob of the door.  “Wave good-bye to cares of the day~”

He closed his eyes, voice falling to a sweet whisper as he finished the lullaby.  “And watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain… sail far away~”

The young father left the room.  “From lullaby… bay,” he murmured.

The door clicked shut.

~*~*~

Danny wandered outside the house, watching as the sun set over the hills.  Sighing, he leaned against the fence, lost in thought, when a loud upbeat music drew his attention.  He looked down to see a small caravan of circus performers as they moved down the road towards the fair grounds.  He smiled softly.  

//Thats right, the fair is tonight…//

The young man looked back away and towards the setting sun, only to whip his head back around with wide eyes.  

A beaming smile spread across Danny’s lips.

//Thats it!//

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