From Want of Family
Summary: Danielle comes to Middle-earth and finds what she didn't know she was looking for.
I officially thank Shiro Inutoko for the inspiration to make this story a reality.
Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom or Lord of the Rings.
It was Sunday, December 17, 2006, and Dani Phantom hovered invisibly outside of Fenton Works. Peeking in the window, she saw Danny and Jazz decorating the tree while Jack and Maddie discussed Danny's role in the bizarreness two Christmases ago.
The world knew that Danny Fenton was Danny Phantom. Vlad Masters was stranded in outer space, and Danielle… She sighed. She called Danny her cousin, but the only people she really thought of as family were gone. Vlad had three other clones. She was the most human of the lot of them, but they were… not quite brothers, but the four of them thought of Vlad as their "father." She called him 'Daddy', until she called him a jerk.
He told her that she was his most perfect creation. But when she heard Vlad yelling at Danny, who was held captive in chains, she discovered that, like Sparky, Bones, or Buff, she was only a mistake, an accident on the way to creating "the perfect half-ghost son". And later, all her Daddy did the next time he saw her was have her captured and melted down – like she wasn't a real person. She was only a thing to take apart and see what made it tick.
Tears slid down her cheeks as she watched Danny and his family. It was funny – most of the other ghosts only thought of her in terms of Danny. (It wasn't mental gymnastics – she was his imperfect clone.) The Lunch Lady was sweet, but she always mentioned how Danny had no respect for a traditional school lunch menu. That was silly, of course – having visited Danny once during lunch, Dani knew he didn't care one way or the other about the menu.
Desiree, Ember, Johnny, and Kitty were cool with her, but they always complained about how Danny didn't let them have their fun in the Real World. The Fright Knight had a pact of some sort with Vlad, but those plans never had anything to do with her.
The Box Ghost and Klemper were annoying and they had 'no social redeeming value,' as Vlad would have said. It made her angry to think of what Vlad would have said. Why should she care what he had to say? He never cared about her!
Walker was suspicious of her on principle. She hadn't done anything wrong, but as Danny's clone, she was suspicious by implication. She never had the right of the story behind that one. She just knew that the ghost sheriff hated Danny and had little patience for her.
Technus told her she was as cute as a button, but 'the original Danny' was quite annoying. He thought of her in terms of Danny, but he preferred her. Two points for Technus. Still…
The Ghost Writer was okay. He was friendly to her at the last Christmas party. That was something. And Wulf – he was weird. Apparently, Wulf was Danny's friend. She never got the full story on that one, either. It was nice that he decided to be her friend, even if it was only out of recognition of Danny. It would be nice to be friends and acknowledged for her own merit.
Danielle's ghost sense went off, and then she heard the whine of guns being primed. She turned visible and spun to see the source. "Skulker?"
The hunter smiled menacingly. "Yes, Ghost Child." She frowned at him, and he explained, "Danny Phantom, while a worthy opponent, is a hero who saved both this world and the Ghost Zone. I don't get the same satisfaction hunting him as I used to, and for me, it is all about the thrill of the hunt.
"As you are probably aware, my favorite quarry are the unique or the unusual." Skulker rolled his metallic green eyes. "Walker has officially declared all of the results of Plasmius's experiments to be off-limits; they are an endangered set of species."
Dani wasn't sure what she thought about that until the hunter smirked. "The exception to that rule is you, Ghost Child. You are the product of one of Plasmius's experiments, but for his own reasons, Walker has decided that you are similar enough to the boy to be considered fair game. I only tell you this to give you a sporting chance."
"Since you are new to this, I'll give you a head start. Since you don't have the history the boy has with me, when I capture you, I'll cage you as my treasure. If you annoy me, I'll change my mind and skin you for your pelt."
Danielle floated in front of him and crossed her arms. "And what makes you think I'll stand for that type of thing?"
"I know that you won't. That is what will make this so exciting." He pushed a button and a net came out of one of his apertures.
"Oh, fudge!" She dodged the net and, turning invisible, flew as fast as she could for the first hiding spot she could think of: behind the billboard across the street from Fenton Works.
She frowned as Skulker got closer. Danny's enemies always complained about being sucked into a Thermos. Vlad had a few of those, but the FBI took over all of Vlad's labs and stuff. Now what?
She teleported to the clock tower, hoping it would buy her extra time. Except for the time she and Danny were caught by Valerie, her cousin was almost always with Sam and Tucker, his friends. Danielle didn't have any… Wulf! She would find Wulf.
"Gotcha, Ghost Child!" Skulker did net her successfully.
"Arg!" The ectoplasmic net hurt! Still…
Danielle ignored the pain and flew, taking the net with her, trailing Skulker after her. He murmured, "Danny did that, but I didn't know you would think to."
In a burst of indignation, Dani tore the net. "I'm not Danny! I'm my own person!" She aimed a powerful ectoblast and shot off Skulker's net appendage.
Skulker rubbed his shoulder. "You keep telling yourself that, child." He aimed a missile at her and fired.
"No!" She rolled in the air, avoiding the missile, and landed a kick at Skulker's middle.
"Oof!" He complained. She blasted his head and was surprised when it spun around but didn't come off. The hunter was dazed and disoriented for a few minutes.
"Where to go, where to go… I know!" She flew off in the direction of Wulf's new lair.
Danielle found the cave outside of Amity Park that Wulf now called home. "Wulf!"
The addressed ghost narrowed his eyes until Dani materialized. "Dani! Friend." He licked her face.
The girl giggled and hugged him. "It's good to see you, too, Wulf. Right now, Skulker is after me."
"Dani hurt?" Wulf was working on his English, but it's been a while since his English-speaking friends visited him.
"No, I'm okay, but he's going to be looking for me. Listen – until I figure out what to do, if he comes back, I'm gonna need to find someplace safe. Can you find one for me?"
Wulf nodded curtly. "Dani safe."
"Thanks, Wulf." She thought for a moment. "Does Skulker bother you, too?"
"Just Walker, huh?" Her friend growled, and she figured that was a 'yes'. "I don't know what they've got going on, but it looks to me like Walker and Skulker are in cahoots with each other."
An ectoplasmic chain of some sort wrapped around her as Skulker materialized. "Nonsense, foolish child. We aren't allies. It's just convenient for me that you, who are most intriguing as prey, are not on his 'protected species' list. I don't know that we are allies as much as not interfering with each other's agendas, for a change."
Wulf howled and tore Danielle's bindings open, and then he slashed Skulker's right hand off. As Skulker screamed and nursed his metallic stump with his other arm, Wulf sliced a hole in the fabric of space/time, and pointed to it. "Go. Dani be safe. Skulker…" He roared again.
"Thanks, Wulf. I owe you for this." With that, she disappeared through the hole.
Elrond was of many different minds as he sat in his office in Rivendell. With the One Ring destroyed, he felt that his major task on this continent was complete. Galadriel, one of the Bearers of the Elven Rings (and his mother-in-law), was here. It was almost time.
Once he was in Valinor, he would see many he had missed for countless yéni, particularly his beloved wife Celebrían, and his parents Eärendil and Elwing. However, he would be leaving all of his beloved children behind. There was still hope that the twins may, in time, follow him, but that was yet to be determined. Arwen had made her choice, and Aragorn… had no choice, as far as his mortality was concerned. He would miss them terribly, and their parting in Gondor was final. At least he could be content that his two now mortal children would make each other happy for the rest of their lives.
What would be with Glorfindel, his companion for countless ages? He had not yet stated his intentions.
Before Elrond could continue his reflections, Elrohir entered his office. "Ada, a human girl has appeared in the courtyard. I have not seen a… portal like that since Vlad Masters left. But it is different. Elladan is attending to her. She has a… complicated spirit presence."
Elrond stood. "Come, my son. Take me to her."
Once Danielle stepped through Wulf's hole, it closed after her. "I hope he knows what he's doing," she said, as she realized that – for better or for worse – she was stuck here until Wulf came to get her.
Looking around, Danielle saw a rustic courtyard of a large house. Wide windows allowed her to see what seemed like organized chaos, to her. And the people she saw were gorgeous! Most of the people around her were tall, thin, young-looking, and stately. Vlad had nothing on the elegance of these people!
One dark-haired fellow flagged her down. He looked friendly, and Wulf said she'd be safe. She took a deep breath and said, "Hi. Where are we?"
The tall, dreamy fellow beckoned her closer, and he wrapped her in a blanket. She opened her eyes wide. "Um, thanks, but I'm not cold. But this could work." She might only have been in existence for a year and a half, but her hormones told her she was thirteen years old and just starting to get interested in guys. Especially when they looked like the guy holding her.
A person who appeared to be the twin of the guy holding her and a slightly older relative came out to greet her. The older one's eyes widened, stared off in thought for a moment, and then said, "Welcome to Rivendell. I am… surprised to see you here, but I am glad to make your acquaintance. My name is Elrond. Who might you be?"
She smiled at this fellow, feeling safe. "I'm Danielle, but you can call me Dani, with an 'I'. A friend told me that this place was safe, and… let's just say I feel really welcome."
Elrond smiled indulgently. "Then we have done our job well. Please pardon me, but I must speak to my son, and he does not know English." She nodded and then jerked her head. This man was the father of… oh, dear.
In Sindarin, the concerned father asked, "Elladan, what is going on?"
The addressed son blushed and answered, "Ada, this young girl is barely dressed. She was frightened when she arrived. She is now distanced from whatever danger set her on edge. She is fine now, but…"
Elrond nodded. "You have done well, my son." Switching back to English, he said, "Dani, your white hair, green eyes, and the sleeves of your clothing put me in mind of someone else I have met."
Danielle slumped, even in Elladan's hold. "Yeah. I know." Even here, wherever here was, she was being compared to Danny. It just wasn't fair.
Elrond raised his eyebrows. "If you are anything like the young man you resemble, then one of your character deserves the finest treatment." She blinked. He nodded. "You should be dressed like a princess."
Danielle gave him a sidelong glance. "Why would you say that? You don't know me."
"Perhaps not, but on this I must insist." While his endorsement of her good character was the manifest truth as far as he could tell, the fact was that this was also a good excuse to cover up the girl's immodest belly shirt that was part of her ghostly uniform.
He sighed sadly. "Only a few months ago, my only daughter was married and moved away. If you look like Danny Fenton in your human form, then my daughter's dresses would look particularly flattering on you." Arwen was also a dark-haired, fair-skinned beauty. The two girls were of the same size and body type when the elf-maiden was at the half-ghost's stage of development.
Danielle jerked out of Elladan's arms and backed away. "What do you know about that? How could you know about that?"
"The answer to that is difficult and complicated. The easiest answer I can give is that, I, too, am only half-human. My other, more predominant half is Elven."
Danielle blinked again. "You're an elf?"
"I am." She looked, and only now noticed the pointed ears on her host and his sons. "And you are half-ghost. I have met two of your kind."
Danielle crossed her arms. If she was only going to be compared to Danny and Vlad, she would give these people a piece of her mind. But for now, she only said, "Now you've met the whole set."
"And I am honored."
That was an interesting surprise. That could mean that he looked forward to actually meeting her, and not just because she was related to Danny. She looked hard at the half-elf. She couldn't tell for sure, but he seemed sincere.
She let that go for now and asked something else that had been bothering her. "How come you know English but your sons don't?"
He smiled proudly. "We have many languages here in this realm, and learning them is a favorite pastime of mine. When Danny… forgive me. When the older Danny was here, we worked night and day until I was fluent enough to communicate usefully."
"Usefully? It sounds like you know it better than I do, and English is the only language I know!"
"I do not know how to respond to give you a satisfactory answer. I would imagine… in the same way you have many powers unknown to this world beyond our limited experience with the elder Danny and Vlad, I have a particular gift with languages. And a very close friend of mine, who was able to discern Danny's spirit presence first and most strongly, learned English from me to be able to communicate more easily with him. Our experiences with the elder Danny prepared us to… have dealings with Vlad."
Danielle released her arms. "It sounds like you don't like him much, either."
His face turned hard. "He took advantage of a human in our realm using his considerable powers in an unconscionable way."
"Unconscionable?" That word wasn't in Danny's vocabulary when she was made, and Vlad didn't bother to teach it to her.
"Forgive me. That means 'in a way that would be unforgivable and impossible to be done by someone with a functioning conscience.' Although to be perfectly fair, Vlad did have a conscience of some sort. But still…"
Danielle huffed. "Yeah, that's Vlad all over. He can be a nice guy, when it suits his purposes. But when you don't fill his purposes…" She closed her eyes and turned away.
"I did not mean to cause you pain."
She opened her eyes and shrugged. "It's not your fault."
Elrond smiled soothingly at the girl. "I notice that you are hesitant to assign blame. It struck me that Danny took responsibility for his accident. Vlad laid the blame for his accident on Danny's father. Where do you place the responsibility for your…"
"I'M NOT AN ACCIDENT!" She started to cry angrily. "You don't even know me. How could you…" She screamed wordlessly. "If you weren't one of the only people I could talk to, I'd fly away from here so fast you wouldn't even be sure I was ever here!"
At that moment, a female Elf came out of the large house, exuding a radiance of calm. She was the most beautiful person Danielle had ever seen. In Sindarin, she said, "The waves of distress I have felt were palpable. What…"
She saw the tearful child and enveloped her in a hug. 'Come, child. All will be well.' The girl was so ensconced in emotion that she didn't realize that her ears didn't hear the words, but that the thought entered her mind directly.
Danielle lost herself in the hug, and realized that she never had a motherly hug. How could she? She never had a mother. Upon hearing these thoughts, the Elf woman hugged her closer.
Elrond furrowed his brows. "Galadriel, I do not know what I have said to do this to Dani."
Galadriel answered, "Perhaps it is not what you said, but what she heard. Sometimes, it happens that the message intended is not the message received. I will take her inside and dress her. Perhaps you will meet us in your office in an hour."
He nodded to his mother-in-law. "Of course, Galadriel. As you wish." He closed his eyes, distressed, and when he opened them, he said, "Please, Danielle, believe me when I tell you that I never intended to hurt you." He believed that, having hurt the girl, he lost the right to use her nickname, a familiar gesture. "For now, I leave you in the very capable hands of Galadriel. We shall meet again shortly."
Elrond called his sons to him and the three of them disappeared into the house.
After the strongest wave of emotion passed, Danielle took a breath and looked up at Galadriel. "Are you the friend Elrond taught English?"
She smiled at the girl. 'No, dear child. I do not speak your language. But I can read your mind and project my thoughts into yours, so it is almost like we are talking. But for now, please come with me. Such a beautiful girl should be dressed beautifully. What you have is very nice, but Elrond is the lord of the realm. Let us find you clothes that are fitting for a proper audience.'
Danielle frowned. "But I don't see why all this is necessary."
'Dani, I am a mother and a grandmother. You have no mother. Please permit me to fuss over you the way you should have been fussed over.'
Danielle thought about this. She wasn't sure how Galadriel knew that, but… she couldn't see the harm in it. "Okay."
An hour later, Galadriel brought Danielle to Elrond's office. The half-ghost was in human form and a long-sleeved ankle-length dress that was the same shade as her eyes in ghost form. Elrond bid them to be seated. There were four chairs in front of the desk. Elrond was in one, and the two ladies sat next to each other. Danielle shivered as a feeling not unlike her ghost sense went off.
A rich warm voice said, "Ah, my friend. Dani is practically a vision of young Arwen. I am glad to meet you. I am Glorfindel."
Dani's eyes widened. Elrond's sons were awesome to behold, but Glorfindel was even taller (she could tell, even though he was sitting) and blond. "Who are you?"
He nodded in thought. "I have declared myself kin to Danny. I have acted as a translator and – oddly enough – comrade in arms to Vlad, and a long time friend to Elrond."
"Comrade in arms to Vlad? But why?"
Glorfindel studied the young girl. "Vlad was not trustworthy as an individual, but he offered his services to help us defeat an enemy at a significant juncture in time."
She nodded in understanding. "So you didn't like him, but he was useful. Huh. Interesting."
The blond elf said, "You are worth knowing as a person, and I look forward to getting to know you a bit better. But we have received visits from people of your world so infrequently. May I offer an observation?"
Danielle was flattered and comforted by Galadriel and Glorfindel. Elrond sincerely looked contrite. They were going out of their way to make her feel comfortable. She took a breath. "Okay."
"When Danny was here, he spoke of his parents and his sister. He mentioned two other half-ghosts in passing. When Vlad was here, he spoke almost obsessively about Danny…"
Dani rolled her eyes. "Of course he did."
Glorfindel sat up straight. "There is something very wrong in your relationship to Vlad."
"May I ask why?"
Dani struggled internally. There were things about herself she didn't like to share. But these people, these Elves, knew far more about her than they had any right knowing. Maybe… Maybe she could share with these people.
"Well… You know how Vlad was obsessed with Danny?"
Both Glorfindel and Elrond nodded encouragingly. Galadriel was content to observe and absorb.
"You see, at some point, Vlad realized that he was never gonna get Danny as a son. But that didn't stop Vlad from wanting what he couldn't have. So he tried to make the 'perfect half-ghost son.' But the lady he wanted to marry was already married to Danny's father. So he… took Danny's DNA and tried to clone him."
Glorfindel shook his head at the unfamiliar terms. Elrond said, "Wait. Danny said that DNA is the building blocks that give instruction for our bodies to look and operate as they do."
"So what do you mean when you said Vlad tried to 'clone' him?"
Dani sighed. "He took Danny's DNA, or instructions, and tried to make a copy, or clone, of Danny. All of them were imperfect. Like me. I was better, more human, and more stable, but wrong – I was made two years younger than Danny and female. For real, I'm only a year and a half in existence."
Elrond furrowed his brows. "But how is this possible?"
Danielle shrugged. "I don't know. They're making scientific advancements all the time. Vlad may be a world-class jerk, but he's also a brilliant scientist. And he tried to take that DNA and… make another Danny."
Glorfindel's eyes flew open, and he switched to Sindarin. "Mellon nin – what Dani is describing is not dissimilar to how Saruman 'made' the Uruk-hai. They, too, are not… natural in their creation, in any definition of the word. Vlad may not have had magic, or the power of the Maiar at his disposal, but… the knowledge and technology he did have might have accomplished the same goal, or at least worked to that end."
Galadriel sighed painfully. "Oh, the poor dear! Saruman cared not personally for any individual Uruk-hai. Perhaps this… Vlad did not care for Dani. And unlike Uruk-hai, which were bred to be… Orcs… These 'clones' of which Dani speaks were bred to be children. But… If Vlad insisted on a perfect son, he… might not have valued her, as she was not a son at all. Her anger at Vlad makes sense."
She thought to Danielle, 'Oh, child. Did Vlad at all love you?'
Danielle closed her eyes. "I thought he did. He called me 'his most perfect creation' at one point. But then he told Danny that I was just another accident on his way to making the perfect clone. I even saw it, that 'perfect clone'. It was just missing that mid-morph DNA – you know, from when Danny's in the middle of transforming. But the lab got messed up, and that clone melted."
She sighed. "I was never good enough. I was nothing to him but a tool to serve him. I called him Daddy! But it was only a game to him. All he wanted was Danny, or a perfect copy of him."
Elrond bowed his head and took Dani's hand. "Oh, dearest Danielle. Now I understand." He looked up and into her eyes. "Danny and Vlad told me that they became half-ghosts by means of an accident. You, however, became a half-ghost by deliberate design. You are right – you are no accident. You are a precious treasure, and Vlad is a fool for not recognizing this fact."
"Do… Do you really mean that?"
"Yes, Danielle, I truly do."
Dani looked at her other hand in her lap. "No one ever called me a precious treasure before."
Galadriel wrapped an arm around her shoulder. 'But you are, and you should be so reminded each day by those who love you.'
Dani looked at the elves. "You seem to love me, and you don't even know me."
Glorfindel smiled. "Dani, I suppose you would say that… One power that Elves have is to recognize the spiritual essence of another being. Beyond feeling your spirit-presence, thereby letting us know you are a half-ghost, we can feel a sense of purity from you, in your intentions. We know that you are a good person, even if we have not seen you demonstrate this."
The young girl thought for a moment. "So, you got the idea that Danny was a good guy and you probably didn't like Vlad, sight unseen."
Elrond smiled for the first time since before he hurt Dani's feelings. "You are correct. And over the course of their stays here, the feelings that we had were vindicated by their actions. Danny was indeed the hero. Vlad… was complicated. He was villainous, but redeemable. Or, it might have been possible, at the very least.
"Please tell us what has become of them?"
Dani smirked. "Well, the world was in danger. Vlad tried to take advantage, and he almost ruled the world." Elrond peaked his eyebrows and Glorfindel gasped. "Yeah. He got the United Nations to pretty much make him king of the world, if he could solve the danger. The thing is, he couldn't. The situation was out of his control, and now he's stuck in the void of outer space."
This punishment, mirroring that of Morgoth, resonated in the minds of all three elves. Galadriel thought, 'Considering what he did to you and your… world, that sounds like a fitting punishment.'
"Yeah, I guess. And Danny was the hero, like he always is," Dani said with pride. "He got all the ghosts (including me) together and we worked hard to fix the problem. It worked, the world learned that not all half-ghosts are evil like Vlad, and Danny's recognized for the all-around good guy that he is."
Elrond thought for a moment. "Danielle, we have seen Danny in action, and we know that he is full of kindness and love. Why do you not seek him out now?"
She became shy. "I… I don't really know. I was thinking about it. But what if he doesn't want me?"
Glorfindel shook his head. "No, Dani. Your older… relative Danny and I found that we seemed to have a lot in common. I adopted him as kin, and I only knew him for a week and a half. I am certain that if you broached the subject, he would accept you readily. Perhaps more so, as you are his own… DNA. His family accepted him. I see no reason why Danny would not accept you as a little sister."
The naked longing in Dani's eyes was painful to see. Galadriel thought, 'I am sure of it.'
Elrond sat straighter and looked regal. "During his time here, Danny impressed us all with his power and compassion. During Vlad's stay, he made it clear that we only glimpsed a fraction of Danny's greatness, as his self-control with his power was only magnified by his refusal to join one he knew to be evil. Surely such a one that – upon completing four acts of heroism – his greatest concern was for the welfare of the victims he saved, would take in (or ask permission to take in) his relative whose greatest crime was being created by Vlad."
Dani shrugged. "For some, that's reason enough to reject me."
Glorfindel pointed out, "And Danny saves those who need to be saved. And you need a family to love and take care of you, and see you for who you are. Has he not done that before?"
She looked down. "Yeah." Danny made Valerie see that Dani was at least part human and worthy of being saved, or at least not being destroyed.
"I guess it couldn't hurt to talk to Danny and his family. Maybe you're right. It's worth a shot."
The four of them spun to face the direction of a tearing sound. Wulf appeared in the hole he just ripped.
Glorfindel shouted, "A Warg? Here?"
Wulf ignored the Elves. "Dani safe?"
Dani jumped up and hugged the ghost. "Yes, Wulf. I'm very safe. I'm also ready to go home."
The half-ghost peered back at her elven friends, who nodded encouragingly. "Danny Fenton's home. Can we do that?"
Wulf wuffled, nodded, and hung his tongue out of his mouth with doggie glee.
Elrond asked, "Are you sure you will be safe with… Wulf?"
Dani grinned. "Of course I'm sure. When I needed to go somewhere safe, Wulf sent me here. He's a good friend."
Galadriel got up and hugged Dani properly. 'Very good. Please wait here a minute.' She exchanged a glance and a wordless conversation with her son-in-law, and walked out of the room.
"Elrond, what's going on?"
The addressed elf smiled kindly. "I meant what I said before. You deserve to be clothed properly. Your shorts and your hooded shirt have been yours for a long time, but… You are coming into your own. You deserve to be clothed, not as an uncared-for waif, but the princess that you are. Galadriel is putting together a package of day clothes, evening clothes, and bedclothes for you. As I told you before, my daughter is grown, married, and moved away. She has no need for these clothes. You do."
Dani trembled. "I… thank you. I don't know what to say."
Elrond took her hand again. "Say 'yes'. And when you see Danny, tell him we miss him."
"I will. I promise. Right, Wulf?" He licked her face and she giggled. The elves raised their eyebrows, but said nothing – the child was safe and happy.
Galadriel returned. 'This backpack has all the clothes you will need. You will forgive me – your short pants, hooded shirt, and hat did not make their way to your bag. But many fine things like you are wearing now will be your new adornments.'
"Thank you, Galadriel."
'There is one more thing.' She unclasped a necklace from her own neck. 'This is my gift to you. It is naught but a chain made in the smithy of Ost-in-Edhil with a pearl from an oyster culled from the shores of Númenor. Consider it your own heirloom.'
Elrond widened his eyes and raised his eyebrows. "This is truly a gift of love, as it is an item of great antiquity."
Galadriel clasped it around Dani's neck and nodded. 'Wear it with pride, and you shall always remember us. We shall remember you, always, with tenderness and love.'
"I will." Tears welled in Dani's eyes, as she felt more loved in this moment than ever before in her life.
Wulf put an arm around the young girl. "Dani, come." With that, the two ghosts disappeared, and the hole they went through disappeared seconds later.
Galadriel gave a light, tinkling laugh. Elrond said, "Lady Galadriel, please share with us your source of mirth."
The lady's eyes twinkled. "I am sure you remember a conversation you had with young Danny more than five thousand years ago, about the only language ghosts could not immediately understand when spoken amongst themselves."
Elrond thought for a moment. "Yes. I believe he said it was Esperanto. I have never heard it spoken."
"The guest of our young visitor had a reason for speaking what sounded like broken English."
Glorfindel was intrigued. "Do tell us."
"Wulf spoke a broken English because he is still struggling with it. His native tongue is Esperanto."
All three elves laughed for a long time.
Wulf brought Danielle to Fenton Works. "Dani home?"
The young girl said, "I don't know, but we'll see." She knocked on the door.
Danny opened the door. "Dani? And Wulf?"
Wulf nodded curtly. "Dani safe." He licked her face. "Danny home." He turned invisible and departed.
Danny shook his head. "Wulf is a great guy, but I'll never really understand him. So, what's up, Dani? You look really good."
She looked up into his eyes. "I, um… Don't have anywhere I belong. I… wanted to come and live with you, and maybe… be your little sister?"
The older half-ghost realized what courage it took his clone to even ask. "Dani, come on in. We'll need to talk to my parents…" He grabbed one of her hands, remembering that the last time he made such a suggestion, she bolted out the window.
She smiled nervously. "O-okay. Can we?"
Danny blinked. "Of course. That's why I said it." He yelled, "Mom! Dad! Jazz! There's someone here I need you to meet."
The three older Fentons spilled into the foyer from wherever they were. Maddie asked, "Danny, who's here?" She looked at the girl. "Aren't you sweet? If I didn't know better, I might have mistaken you for the kids' cousin."
Dani blushed. "That's not too far off from what I said before."
Jack gushed, "Nothing's too good for family. Let's take this to the living room." Jazz ran to the kitchen to fetch tea and cookies. Danny once mentioned something… Whatever. It was too hard to believe.
They all took seats in the living room, Danielle sitting closest to Danny. As far as she knew, he was the only one who knew about her, and while the Elves' argument was convincing, Danny's family was made up of ghost hunters, and she wasn't sure what type of reception she would have.
Jazz returned to the living room with the refreshments. Once all five of them were seated, Maddie asked, "So, Danny, who is your friend?"
Danny looked back at Dani. "Are you okay with me making the introductions?" She nodded shyly. "This is Danielle, or she likes to be known as 'Dani, with an "I".' We met about a year and a half ago."
Jack took a cookie and nodded enthusiastically. "So, Dani, where are you from?"
She turned frightened eyes on her hopefully-soon-to-be brother. "You'll be fine, I promise," Danny whispered. "And I'll protect you, if need be."
Dani took a deep breath. "Okay. I am… an imperfect clone of Danny."
Jazz blinked. Now that story Danny told made a little more sense.
Jack cocked his head. "A clone? The resemblance is amazing. Imperfect? Well, you are younger, and a girl. But… while we love Danny very much, we would never have made a… Are you a half-ghost, too?"
She looked off to the side a moment. "Yes."
Maddie narrowed her eyes. "While it's true that we are only beginning to get an idea of all of Danny's ghostly enemies and allies, I can't think who would have spent enough time and energy on our son to try to clone him."
Dani trembled visibly. "It's not my fault! Please don't hate me because of who made me."
Maddie warmed to the girl and was ready to be as protective as necessary, or more so, just in case. "Of course not, sweetie. Who made you?"
Dani closed her eyes. "Vlad Masters."
Jack thundered, "Why that… how dare he! Why did he do such a thing?"
Dani whispered, "I'm not a thing. I'm a person."
Jazz got up and hugged her. "Of course you're a person. Having had to deal with that Froot-Loop has probably left you with all kinds of issues. Did he, at least, like you?"
The dark-haired girl looked down. "Not especially. I was… Vlad really wanted Danny as a son. And when he realized he couldn't have Danny, he wanted the next best thing – a clone of him. I was the best he came up with, but I wasn't good enough. I wasn't…" She closed her eyes. It was so painful to think the words, and this would be the second time she had to say them in one day. "The perfect half-ghost son. He said all he wanted was to be loved. But… I loved him. Sparky, Bones, and Buff loved him."
Danny shook his head in surprise. "They had names?"
Dani glared at him. "Of course they had names. Vlad made us, and if he would have left you alone, we would have all been his children, and he couldn't very well call us 'hey, you'."
Danny grimaced in embarrassment. "Right. Sorry. I wasn't thinking."
Danielle sighed sadly. "No one ever really thinks about me. Except for a few people I met today."
Determined to make things right for his clone, Danny asked, "Who did you meet?"
She swallowed, hoping desperately to be believed. "I met Elrond, Glorfindel, and Galadriel. Elrond told me to tell you they miss you."
Maddie refocused on Danielle, this girl clone of Danny, born from Vlad's sick, twisted desire to steal her son. The girl was right – Vlad's horrible intentions were not her fault. "Elrond and Glorfindel. Aren't those your friends that Clockwork told us about?"
Her son nodded. "Yup. But I don't know Galadriel."
Danielle smiled and relaxed. If they were going to reject her, they would have done it already. "Galadriel is Elrond's mother-in-law."
Danny brightened. "Then he got married!"
"Uh-huh. And he had three kids, two sons who are identical twins, Elrohir and Elladan, and a daughter Arwen. Elladan was absolutely dreamy, and if Arwen was the female version… Elrond said that I favored her. But she's grown up and married, and Elrond said I could have her clothes from when she was my size."
Jazz hugged her again. "So that's why you're dressed like a princess!"
Maddie thought for a moment. "Maybe it would be better to make another visit to your friend Clockwork, sooner rather than later. Perhaps after the holidays."
Danny smiled. "Very cool!"
Still, Maddie needed to get to the bottom of things. "So, Danielle, you sound like an impressive young girl. But why are you here?"
The girl took a deep breath to steady herself. "I… wanted to…um… be adopted by you. I have nowhere else to go, and I'm already kinda Danny's flesh and blood."
Maddie practically melted. "Oh, Danielle…" She got up, pushed Jazz out of the way, and hugged the younger girl.
Jack beamed. "Of course we'll adopt you. Danny's a hero, and you're practically Danny's kid sister already."
Both Danny and Danielle looked to Jack and chorused, "Really?"
Maddie released her soon-to-be youngest daughter, and crouched in front of her. "Really. The only thing we need to worry about is the adoption papers to make it all legal."
Danielle suggested, "Well, when I first met Danny, I told him we were third cousins, once removed. We can use that as a starting story. Then we could say that I was recently orphaned, which is technically true, as the only man I called 'Daddy' until now is stuck in outer space. And since I only have a year and a half of real-time existence, we can say that my records were lost in a fire, and that I have amnesia. That would cover just about everything."
Danny raised an eyebrow. "You've put a lot of thought into this, haven't you?"
Dani nodded. "Uh-huh. I've been on my own since I ran away from Vlad, and while I kinda felt free once you stabilized me, I just… And since we worked together to turn the world intangible, I realized that I didn't really want to be alone anymore. I've had a lot of time to think about this, you know? But… I was afraid of what… well, not what you'd think, Danny, since you already saved me, twice. But I was worried what everyone else would think, 'cause of Vlad, and… well… The elves told me that I was a precious treasure, and Vlad was a fool to not recognize that."
She looked at all four of the Fentons and took a deep breath. "No one ever made me feel so loved before, and they told me that… well, they said that I needed someone to… love me and take care of me, and I was kind of hoping you'd take the job."
Maddie smiled. "Of course we will. Welcome to the family, Danielle Fenton."
"Thanks, Mom." She looked up hopefully, and the mother planted a kiss on the forehead of her new daughter and hugged her again.
Jack chucked his new daughter under the chin. "I hope you'll feel comfortable calling me 'Daddy.' You see, I've always had a supreme soft spot for my little girls."
Dani giggled. "Yes, Daddy," she tried it out. It felt comfortable, and she also got the feeling that she wasn't going to have to constantly prove herself to earn the love from the man who got that title.
Danny rolled his eyes – he knew his father loved him, but he also knew that Jazz was his favorite. And now, apparently, so was Danielle.
Jack flashed a concerned look at Jazz. "Jasmine, I hope you're not disappointed that you're not our only little princess anymore."
"Nonsense, Daddy. I've always wanted a little sister. Danny's awesome, but… Danielle will be wonderful, too."
Clockwork smiled as he watched this ingathering on his view screen. He turned to Wulf. "Thank you for caring for my charges, old friend. Now I'll expect a visit shortly, and everyone is safe. Everything is as it should be."
Valinor – the Undying Lands. It is the westernmost continent of Arda, where only immortals are permitted to go, with only a few notable exceptions: Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Shadowfax, and Gimli, for example.
Sindarin – one of the Elvish languages spoken in Middle-earth
yéni (S.)- long years. One yén is 144 solar years.
Ada (S.) – father
Mellon nin (S.) my friend
Uruk-hai – Saruman's special breed of Orcs that were bigger, stronger, with more stamina, and the ability to withstand sunlight in a way other Orcs couldn't.
Maiar – (plural) sing. Maia. Powerful spirits similar to angels. Akin to the Valar, they existed prior to the creation of the world. Some are most recognizable as the Wizards in The Lord of the Rings.
Ost-in-Edhil-(S) Fortress of the Elves. The capital city of the Realm of Eregion, a place that disappeared in the Second Age. Danny visited this city when he came to Middle-earth.
Númenor – It was an island close to Valinor, and humans lived there. It was a great civilization, until the humans rebelled against the Valar, and the island was sunk towards the end of the Second Age.