Chapter Nineteen, Leave of absence
Morning arrived too soon with a whispered wish in his ear. He knew the wish, even in his slumber, Danny knew. And even if he didn't, he snapped his eyes open as if reanimated since last night's events. He was about to take full advantage of his silver haired master; reduce him to his primal desires and relish in it… That was precisely what he intended to do, and still had in mind to do but as his eyes caught the signs of morning light he realized that it was all too late.
He missed it. No, Daniel didn't miss it, Vlad had slipped out of his snare and from what Danny could guess, he was probably downstairs in the living room, dressed for the morning and acting like nothing had ever happened.
As if it was nothing important to him.
Danny's expression soured into the soft pillow in his arms. Even though he knew he had given the man a legitimate reason to react the way he had, Daniel felt betrayed. Perhaps he was too rough? No. Playing impenetrably-hard-to-get? No. Wanted to take it slow- No! Danny squinted coldly at the patterns on his pillow while the pessimistic voice in his head discarded his excuses like foil wrappings. Vlad had ruined a perfectly good opportunity to satisfy both of them. Daniel knew it. He had seen it in Vlad's face that night. Why would he destroy that?
You sure it wasn't wistful thinking? No, Danny didn't think wistful thinking could moan like Vlad did last night.
But there was still something in the way of all this. That something had to do with Vlad and his reluctance to enjoy having a ghost turned genie as a servant- a toy- a pet even. He had something to object in the given circumstance still; now what that objection was, Danny couldn't fathom what it was. Didn't Vlad always want him by his side?
Not like that. Danny snorted and pulled his head up from the warmth of his bed. His pessimism was digging a deep hole and trying to dump all of his hopes down it. Refusing to let that little voice get in his way to obtain what he wanted, Danny pulled the sheets off from his legs and scrambled out of bed.
Maybe Vlad didn't like him, but that wasn't going to stop Daniel, especially when he had magic to act as his catalyst.
Dressed in his night wear, Danny itched his crown of raven black hair lazily as he opened the door to his bed room. He couldn't remember going back to bed last night- not that he had intended to- so with a small smirk, Danny figured that Vlad must have put him back in bed without anyone noticing.
Speaking about anyone, as Danny opened the door, he could hear a little bit of idle chit chat from within the living room. Blinking hazily, Daniel started down the stairs and peeked into the living room to find his family already awake for the day- some dressed and others not- beaming over at the Christmas tree with delight. It didn't dawn on Daniel until he had stepped into the living room that he saw that there were new presents from under the Christmas tree wrapped in gold and white holly decorated wrappings.
"Merry Christmas, Danny-boy!" Jack appeared to be the first one to notice the pajama clad teenager and swept up to Danny to slap a hand on his shoulder to draw him into the den. Danny spotted Vlad sitting at the side of the couch quietly. Not because he was being anti-social at the least, but because he was nodding off.
There was a chuckle from his mother that alerted him that Maddie had caught Danny's curious stare at Vlad trying to keep his eyes open. "He must have stayed up last to bring in these gifts as a surprise." Vlad looked up when he over heard his name and smiled adoringly to Daniel's mother.
"Oh please, it was a little late night shopping," He said while trying to, but failing to hide a yawn. Danny smirked. Sure he was up late night shopping... Let's pretend that happened. Danny rolled his eyes, earning a short but disgruntled look from Vlad before he turned to see what exactly Vlad had brought to the addition of this Christmas holiday.
First and most obvious of the gifts were the new ones assorted neatly under the tree ranging in a number of questionable sizes. All of which, to Daniel's disfavor was nothing to what he cared to have. Unless some how Vlad could have wrapped himself in one of these. Hey… a genie could dream. Or wish.
After everyone found a place to sit in the small living room, a gift in all of their hands and waiting eagerly- save for one sleepy billionaire- for the chance to open up their presents. Daniel happened to pick out a present labeled to him that he didn't see the night before. It so happened to have no particular shape, or at least, if Daniel was any judge of containers beside lamps and Fenton thermoses, then the teen suspected that he was holding a wrapped basket. Danny was minutes from sliding his fingers beneath the paper wrapping when Jazz opened her present given to him.
"Ooh! Danny! I'm so glad you got me this!" She exclaimed in joy. Danny swiveled his head around to look at Jazz peeling open his present to her and hugging the book up against herself. Danny smiled even though he felt more inclined to open up his own present. However, the next to burst out their dramatic joy was Maddie.
"Vlad! My gosh!" Danny and the rest of the family looked at Maddie as she opened a small jewelry box that she had unwrapped and pulled out from it a gorgeous diamond studded necklace. She looked amazed, but a hint concerned as she looked over the brilliance of it, and Vlad's tired smile. "Vlad, this looks so expensive! You really shouldn't have- It's beautiful!"
Maddie wasn't flattering Vlad, but the older man appeared to be taking it in that direction. Danny rolled his eyes as Maddie discreetly placed it back into the jewelry box to probably never wear unless in Vlad's presence again.
Danny thought Maddie was being too nice to Vlad, but didn't say anything about it to ruin the festive morning. Instead, he returned his attention back to his own present while Vlad proudly boasted that 'it wasn't much'. However before Danny could pull away the ribbon, Jack hooted in joy.
"Waffles!" He exclaimed. Because this announcement made no sense, every one looked at him except for Danny, who was growing annoyed that he couldn't open his present without being polite and looking at what the other family member got. Jack produced from a box a waffle machine, and after a few gleeful ideas that he spouted upon what he intended to make of it- if not waffles- he thanked Vlad for the gift.
"It was really nothing…" Vlad said dryly. Danny believed him too.
"Why don't you opening something Vladdy? Santa probably got you something great!" As awkward as that sounded no one, even Maddie, felt inclined to crush Jack's childish joy on Christmas day by telling him that Santa wasn't real. Danny stopped all attempts to opening his present, figuring that he might as well wait a little longer for Vlad to open up some of the gifts contributed, but not labeled, by him.
Vlad quickly looked at Danny suspiciously before hesitantly agreeing. Danny didn't doubt that Vlad suspected something after Danny started using his magic to switch the cards around in their game last night.
To be true, there were only two gifts under the tree for Vlad due to the short notice. One present from the family combined- excluding Danny, and the other without a name secretly placed there by Danny. Vlad found it safer to open the one 'from the Fentons' and unwrapped it.
It was nothing spectacular considering Vlad's income, but the gift was silk red flannel pajamas. Vlad faked his amusement and thanks in receiving something that he probably already had only in shades of greens and gold, but as he pulled them out, he noticed something more.
"What's this?" He spoke, thinking nothing of it but some black cloth. Danny grinned from ear to ear. No one aside from Vlad could see what he held up from how the box was positioned on his lap. The flap blocked off everyone's view of what he was observing. Danny knew what it was however…
The wonders of magic had a magnificent talent of adding a little something more into the family gift. Some words to describe this marvelous gift are: shiny, leather, sleek, laced—
Vlad's expression changed from curiosity to shock and later embarrassment before he snapped the box shut.
"Never mind, it was just the packaging," He smiled sheepishly and thanked the family again without looking directly at Danny.
"It's always fun to have different styles of pajamas." Danny quipped as he sat back, enjoying the fact that Vlad's ears were turning red. Danny was unaware that Jazz noticed the odd interaction and had stared suspiciously at her brother.
Finally it was Danny's turn to open his present. Danny would have liked to believe that he would find something 'special' from Vlad, but considering the man's reluctances since last night, a tube of tooth paste or a twenty dollar gift certificate probably would be it.
Danny would love it anyways if it was.
He peeled the wrapping off and revealed his main assumption of his gift. It was a gift basket, but fortunately tooth paste was not in the list of things that were stuffed in them. DVD movies, computer and video games, sweets, candies, body wash, and last and quite possibly the least of Danny's interest there was a smooth clean container, a little larger than the thermos and fairing a similar size.
"Wow." It wasn't what he 'really' wanted, but with the body wash Danny could dream. It was a lot more than what he had expected from Vlad, which wanted him to ask if the man wanted him, or not. But being restricted by a number of wishes, Danny settled to picking through the items, and cooing in a fashion that was alarmingly similar to how Vlad addresses Maddie, Danny thanked the man. Over and over.
"What's this?" Danny shook the container, getting the feel that it was a shaker for drinks or something of the sort. Only with more observation there was a small dial on the cap with a changeable date on it. Maddie was the first to clue into what it was when she saw Danny prodding at it.
"Oh Vlad, isn't that a neat little idea! You got him a time capsule!"
"A what?" Danny said before thinking. The first thing that came to mind was some kind of sci-fi movie about traveling into the future- not that it wasn't too unreal for Daniel. He moved to open it but to his frustration he couldn't pry it open at all. Maddie gestured Danny to pass it to her and to Danny's mild surprise, the cap came off with an easy twist.
"This brings back memories. Jack, remember our time capsule? It was all the fad back then," She chuckled as she looked into it. Danny was anxious to see if there was anything in it. To answer his question indirectly, Maddie had turned it upside down while looking at the rest of the simple thing. Nothing came out.
"Nearly our whole year had one! We all spent our last week together finding the perfect places to stow them away."
"I've been keeping mine in a shoe box… I had completely forgotten about it until now." Maddie said, smirking while capping the capsule and handing it to Danny. Earnestly, Danny attempted to open it and failed to his irritation.
"I buried mine!" Jack announced proudly. "Where's yours, Vlad?"
The billionaire snorted. "I've never had one really. I didn't feel inclined to keep some of my memories from college." He said, putting on some effort not to sound or look bitter.
As if reminded of an awkward conversation Maddie settled to clearing her throat as she noticed Danny was putting a lot of his attention in trying to open the capsule again. "You pick out a few things that you consider worth remembering and keep them in there for safe keeping."
Danny huffed and gave up trying to open it now and making a fool of himself and opted to watch Vlad and otherwise enjoy what he could on this Christmas Day with what he couldn't have. In all essence, his mother loved the set of dissecting tools and gloves that Danny had wished up for her, and Jack, being the simple but loveable father that he was, took favor in the store bought maple fudge than he did the set of miniature action figures of Amity's frequent haunters.
Jazz seemed to be the only one who was curious as to how Danny could afford the gifts, but as Danny had hoped and suspected, she was far too polite in badgering him about it. Even Vlad's 'other' gift got a few laughs since everyone assumed it was a joke. No one knew 'who' gave it to him, but it seemed all the more amusing when Vlad opened a present to find lingerie for that 'special someone'. Inevitably, Vlad couldn't hide it this time when the entire gift consisted of six varieties of women's underwear. What was so amusing out of this was that each of them was tied to a little card that poetically described what each of them aught to be worn for. One for stripping, one for spying beneath a skirt, one for work in the office another for--
Vlad had hastily taken the remaining articles of Daniel's present and rammed them back into the box while the Fenton's had a hearty laugh.
Embarrassing Vlad was an understatement, but since everyone took it as a joke. He covered it up with a lie about 'a girl who has a 'thing' for him.'
The holiday was going relatively nicely. All the expectations that Danny predicted had been met in some way or form, even the eventual door bell ringing in the afternoon as his two best friends came to 'check up' on Danny and wish him a good holiday. Danny had answered the door since everyone else- by everyone else, it was mostly Jack- was trying to get Vlad to participate in collaborating all the possibilities that a waffle iron can become in the right- or wrong- hands.
"Jack, I was hoping you'd just make waffles out of it really." Danny could hear Vlad drawl irritably just as he went to answer the door.
The first and foremost action that Danny did not want was the hug he received the second he opened the door. A chill ran down his back too similar to the cold air outside for him to tell if it was the weather. Sam launched at him and immediately clung to Danny closely.
Opting to be surprised, Danny moved to push Sam off from him." Whoa, whoa, hey there Sam, what's gotten into you?"
Tucker was at her side seeming the more skeptical of Sam's fear as he pulled his scarf away from his face.
"Sam got a little worried about a night ago when she had a bad dream about ghosts." Tucker shrugged. Danny paused and looked between the two and frowned.
They stepped in and began to shuck off some of their snow gear while Sam explained a little distantly as if she wasn't entirely sure now that Danny was before her perfectly safe and sound.
"Well, I was dreaming that Tuck and I were in the specter speeder with Desiree and some other ghost. I don't know why we were really there or anything, but the next moment I woke up still holding the Fenton thermos I had in my dream."
Danny arched a disbelieving brow.
"And you thought I was in trouble."
"And usually anything to do with ghosts means that you are in trouble," Sam huffed indignantly. Tucker seemed to be glad that Danny was all right and Sam's premonition was wrong, and did what he initially came here to do.
"Merry Christmas Danny!"
Mocking an equal amount of cheer, Danny let the two in; having forgotten temporarily that Vlad's presence would raise a few alarms.
Before Danny had time to step into the kitchen and watch the amusement that was Vlad being forced to associate with his father Sam and Tucker stopped him.
"Why's he here?" Sam said, taking a short look into the kitchen at Vlad.
It was around that instant that Danny felt oddly resentful with the way Sam glared out at Vlad, or Tucker's concerned look. Rather than defending him as he felt to do so, Vlad's wish became active and Danny began to lie just as he had been told, but with a sour tone.
"I indirectly invited him here when he caught me snooping at his place." It was the same lie he fed Jazz and like his sister, his two friends began to fret.
"He hasn't tried anything while he was here?" Tucker said.
"Not unless eyeing my mom like a trophy is considered suspicious now." Danny grumped. "Honestly, I think Vlad didn't have anything planned. You know, especially with the ghost truce and all?"
"That was yesterday. Vlad could have something up his sleeve today."
"And you both know I'll be able to handle it. Jazz and I have been keeping a close eye on him. If anything, I think Jack's doing a better job keeping him in place around mom than Jazz and I right now."
"Well all right… you still enjoying your holiday?"
Danny tried not to sound too enthusiastic. "Of course!" and failed. To cover it, he smirked. "What? Vlad's completely harmless."
"It's not like you to take Vlad so lightly." Sam said skeptically.
"Just trust me. I have everything under control."
"Well, all right… but would you like us to stick around in case?" Tucker offered with a nudge of his elbow into Danny's side. The former ghost boy withheld a grimace.
Danny was about to tell them no, but someone else answered for him.
"No, no that won't be necessary, I'll be leaving soon anyways," Vlad said as he stepped from the kitchen, dusting his suit of flour that Jack had generously spilled while in the process of making waffles. "Daniel, I'm going to have a word with you before I head out."
Heading out? Leaving? Without him? Danny looked anxiously at Vlad for a few second when he remembered Sam and Tucker were there and smirked indignantly and gave the older billionaire an offhanded and normal response.
"Why? Enjoying your self too much here?"
Vlad pinched the bridge of his nose and resisted the desire to glare at Daniel when behind him he could hear Jack calling him back. He left the three teens with three visible grins across their faces.
Sam was the first to laugh. "Okay, we believe you now."
"Being here must be a task for him on its own," Tucker chuckled. Danny joined in, albeit hollowly as he fretted about what Vlad had in mind to speak to him about before he left. Danny didn't want Vlad to leave either. Not unless Vlad was planning on taking him along.
With his friends assured, they spent a portion of their holiday afternoon chattering about the gifts they got. Danny didn't really feel inclined to talk very much, but he did when some how their discussion usually lead to Vlad and how they, Danny's family were dealing with the fruitloop. Danny had even gone so far as describe what he thought was absolutely hilarious of the night before while playing the game of Mal.
"Dude, so he actually had to take his clothes off?" Tucker said, sounding a little grossed out, but still amused.
"Yeah, well he quit the game when he got down to his dress shirt and pants." Danny snickered at the thought, thinking about what it would have been like if Vlad hadn't quit. Unaware of it, he had earned two short lived glances between Tucker and Sam.
Before long Tucker and Sam left to return to their own family after Danny assured them again that 'nothing was up.' Danny didn't feel as terrible as he thought he would in lying to his friends that something was up. Sure, it was true that Vlad was harmless against him at this point, but it didn't mean something wasn't up. In essence, Danny felt himself not caring while he waited for Vlad to make his announcement to leave.
It was a little into the evening before dinner started that Vlad paused for attention and with he sincerest tone he could muster, he spoke.
"I want to make it up for you all for inviting me by offering all of you to come to a new years eve party at Wisconsin. All expenses paid for."
Jack immediately leapt at the opportunity, whereas Maddie gratefully thanked him and took into consideration of any plans that they might have had. Coming up with no excuses that Jack didn't already bat away, the Fentons accepted.
Did Vlad have something planned after all? Danny didn't know, but again, he doubted it was anything he couldn't handle.
It was a little after dinner that Danny caught Vlad in the living room with his luggage giving his thanks to Maddie for the stay before he gestured to Danny to come over to him. Maddie had gone into the kitchen to retrieve something that Vlad had purposely forgotten about- which included Daniel's gift to him- and during that moment alone with each other, Vlad moved to pick up Daniel's small time capsule and opened it up.
"How many wishes do I have left, Daniel?" He said calmly as he produced a letter from his back pockets and slipped it into the capsule. Danny stared in curiosity as he answered.
Danny couldn't lie, but he really didn't find a reason to lie to him any more. "Three."
"Then I wish that you will stay with your family regardless of where your lamp is until our next encounter." Unable to make out much meaning to that, let alone find a decent loop around his wish, Danny clapped his hands.
"Now I'm sure you've already figured out what this is made out of." Vlad capped the capsule and returned it back to its place amongst Danny's gifts. The genie didn't know and as if the answer was written confusion across his face Vlad sighed and filled him in. "It's made of smoof. And I'm going to wish that you don't let anyone try to open it up for you," Danny clapped his hands again and snorted.
"What did you put in there?"
"Nothing that you would care about, I assure you," Vlad said stiffly and returned picking up his luggage. Unwilling to let Vlad get away without some kind of answer explaining his actions, Danny moved and grabbed the man's sleeve before he could turn away.
"What are you planning, Vlad?" Danny asked, staring determinedly up at the older hybrid.
In the most 'Vlad' way that his master could answer, he grinned crookedly.
"Wouldn't you like to know?"
To be continued…
Thanks to those who have harassed me to get back onto the horse and loosen those reigns. You all know who you are, and don't be modest. It was really nice to hear from you all even after a year of no updates.
And no, I'm not going to put off the next chapter that long again.