A/N: right, hopefully this is the first and last AN I'll do, I always hate it when they distract a story, so I'll keep it to a minimum.
This is a learn fic, as I said on my profile, I am not a natural writer and everything I type is with difficulty. Still I want to write, so here it is. I have more fics I am working on, but I think I'll never finish those (I also dislike abandoned fics, so I don't post mine). There is a high possibility this one is never finished as well, I warn you now! But I want to learn how to write better and I hope this will help. And seeing as this fic comes quite naturally to me (at least till now), I decided to just take a chance.
Don't hate me when I don't finish it, but everyone else may finish it if I declare this abandoned, if they want to of course.
Apologies for any and all faults in the words, sentences and grammar.
I'm probably mad for posting this anyways...
Chapter one, Time and time again
A slight drizzle found a man lying on his back in a grassy field. He was young, not even full-grown. His shaggy black hair was pressed against his head because of the weight of the rain and his clothes, grey pants, shirt and an odd black collar, were soaked. Soaked with both water and blood. The clothes were filthy, as you could even see strange green smudges in them. In the distance, at the edge of the grassy field stood a town, once proud and imposing. Now it was crumbling, smoke arose from ruins of houses and all what once had been healthy green, lay destroyed. The buildings that still stood had cracks and rips everywhere in the concrete. They were like lone statues, grieving over what they had become.
The young man was not paying attention to the city. He did not even pay attention to the gashes on his body, the bruises that were black and green, or the scars that marred his entire body. Indicating that all the wounds had happened before. He just lay calmly there on the grass. Picture of serenity.
On the inside however, the only calm emotion was the appreciation for the drizzle. The man was fighting a war inside that he actually already given up on. The rain formed a line that could have been a tear streaking across his cheek. Slowly finding its way over random scars. Then surrendering itself to the ground.
"I am tired Clockwork," The black haired man whispered suddenly. "So tired."
"I know" a voice came, one that was, as far as one could see, not attached to a body. The voice could not be defined as an ancient voice, or a young one, when you listened to it, the only word to describe it was timeless.
"I don't think I can handle… anything anymore" The young man continued, slowly running his hand through his thick soaked hair. "I am loosing myself"
"I know" the voice responded.
"As always" The young man said with a wry smile. Any other would have gotten angry at the information-less answers, but the young man couldn't care less. He was so tired. The young man, not much more than a boy, closed his eyes again and sighted. His mind traveling once more over all the years that had past. Only four years ago he had been (almost)forced to walk into the ghost portal by his sister, friends Sam and Tucker. It still hurt to think about them. So many times they had helped him, so many times they had been in danger… And then once too many.
"Clockwork" his voice broke, making the desperate request for help very clear.
"Yes, time it is."
At these words the young man slowly opened his eyes, not really seeing. "Time?" he asked in a whisper, knowing the ghost would have his means of knowing what he said even if he couldn't hear it. But even still he hoped desperately to escape.
"Yes Danny, it is time" the voice said "Time for you to leave this behind."
"leave it behind?" the young man, now indentified as Danny asked, like a child, his mind didn't comprehend, the possibility made his mind blank. Could he really be free?
"Come" was the only answer and warning giving, before the young man instantly disappeared.
Never to be seen again.
When Danny finally started to see again he noticed that they were in Clockworks lair. The green swirl and the sound of ticking had a calming effect on him. He was safe here, at least, as safe as he could be. Humans had long since already invaded the Ghost Zone. Even though Clockworks lair skipped time and place as a often as the ticking of a clock, nothing stayed hidden forever.
The teen turned to the ghost with questions filled eyes. Why was he here? Surely the time-ghost understood that he was beyond saving? Still Danny hoped, Clockwork would not have taken him here just for the heck of it.
"Danny…" the Clockwork began, knowing that he was changing everything now. He was changing the boys future. Still he had no regrets. If he wanted Danny to live, he would have to make the change. And so the ghost would. "Ever since you received your powers, you have done nothing but fighting. Fighting to protect your town, fighting to be acknowledged, fighting to be loved. Especially by your parents." At the last word Danny showed for the first time some emotion. He cringed in pain.
The day that Jasmine, his sister, Sam and Tucker had died, he decided he needed to tell his parents. He needed to tell them everything, starting with the ghost portal. Deep within Danny had hoped that they would understand and free him from his guilt. He knew that they would accept it and continue to love him as their son. They had to, they were his parents after all.
When Danny finally had enough courage to tell them they reacted quite differently than he had hoped. His parents had not forgotten nor forgiven him the loss of Jazz, Sam and Tucker. Instead they blamed him, the half-ghost. His parents had tied him down, locked him up in their lab and began experimenting on him. Releasing their years-long hatred of ghosts on him.
Lost was the Son, they only saw the ghost-anomaly. He was the first ghost his parents had 'caught' and the fact that he was half a ghost made them even more intrigued. Day and night they would try things on him, ranging from medicine to heavy chemicals, testing his reactions. They were trying to create better weapons, shields, anything to help them defeat normal ghosts. They did not listen to Danny's screams, his pleading, begging them to stop. To look at him, he was their son! But they didn't listen, Danny was merely a ghost and therefore not their son.
After weeks of painful tests and mental abuse, the town was attacked. Fright Night had decided to show his face once again, trying to revive his master, Pariah Dark. The attacking ghost had rounded up most of the skeleton army and invaded Amity through a natural portal. People ran around, screaming and shouting, fleeing from the chaos that the army created. There was no order, no hope since Danny Phantom, -back then half a hero, half a terrorist in their eyes- had not shown up. When the situation became critical and the ghosts started to murder people Maddie and Jack had decided that their weapons were not enough. Not even their improved ones. They were only with two of them against a whole army. In an act of desperation they coaxed Danny in helping them. They told him they finally believed him, they told him they had forgiven him. So desperate they were for help.
Danny had been weak after those months in the laboratory, still he fought for his town. He wanted, no, had to believe that his parents had come around. That they had forgiven him for the deaths of Jazz and his friends, that they believed him to be Danny again, their son that they loved. Danny held on to that last shred of hopeless hope.
The battle had been a harsh one. One of the many gruesome to come, though only Clockwork knew at that time. Danny, on his own could not stand against the army. Therefore he had ventured into the Ghost Zone to acquire help from some friends. Together they planned, fought and survived. They had helped the humans overcome their fear of ghosts and Danny taught them how to handle the weapons together with his parents. He had truly believed that he had been forgiven for being a ghost since they worked together and got along fine again, like nothing had happened… Oh, how wrong he had been.
Humans and ghosts stood across from each other. It was clear that the skeletons had the large advantage of numbers. They stood in lines and lines. Across the humans stood, awkwardly and scared, clutching their weapons. Danny had flown over the mass, trying to encourage them. He knew the battle only had to last until he could trap Fright Night once again.
Without really knowing how the battle began, humans were shooting at the glowing skeletons, fighting for their lives. The skeletons marching towards the humans, fighting for their master. Many fell, on both sides, the battlefield, a plaza in the middle of the town, soon was drenched in blood and ectoplasm. The ground became cracked by the many forces that fell upon it and nearby buildings were obliterated. It was gruesome, filthy and frightful.
Above Danny fought for his life, and the life of everyone beneath him. He shouldered the burden of defeating the leader, even though he was weak. Even though none of them had done anything nice for him in a long time, he wanted to safe his town. His people. His parents. Then finally nearing the end of the battle Danny banished Fright Night once again to the pumpkin.
He fell to the ground, exhausted, as the skeletons fell apart before all eyes to see, no longer a threat.
When the dust of the final battle finally cleared the citizens of Amity were unsure of what to do. Their homes were destroyed, the battle had claimed many casualties. They would have to start anew to create the life they once had. But for what? Only to have it destroyed by ghosts again? No, they were trained, they had weapons, they could fight! But was it necessary?
Taking advantage of the crowds confusion, Danny's parents had seen it fit to tell everyone the true story behind 'Danny Phantom'. At least, their 'true version' of the story. Danny could still remember the voice that sounded loud and clear over the battlefield, his mother had spoken to the crowd. "Now we have all experienced it, we have all seen it. Ghosts are evil! They bring nothing but pain and death to this world! They have taken our beautiful town from us and reduced it to nothing more than rubble! They have taken companions, friends and family from us!" The crowd seemed even more confused at that. Yes some ghosts had taken all that, the skeleton army had destroyed a large part of Amity but there were good ghosts right? Like those that had helped them, like Danny Phantom, their local hero! Maddie, sensing the confusion went on, pouring all her hatred of ghosts in it. "I will tell you, that the ghost over there, Danny Phantom, was once my son, Danny Fenton. He is no longer Danny though, he has become a creature, an abomination, HALF A GHOST! Now you see? Ghost have infected him so badly he changed to what he now is! He is no longer Danny! No longer our dear son, no he is infected now. That is why he helped, our son was still strong enough to fight his evil side, but look at him now! He is overcome by it!
He is half a human and therefore he would want to help, only his ghost half prevents it. Thus, we must let him help us, without letting him have a choice because he would make the wrong one because his ghost half!" With this the crowd was convinced, they did not pay attention to the other ghosts that helped, the crowd surrounded Danny. Before he could even think of escaping he was grabbed.
As soon as Danny had been caught, he had been brought to a lab underground, one that had clearly survived the battle. His parents created an improved ghost jail from which a Halfa, such as Danny could not ever escape, human or ghost form. A large team of scientists were assembled to continue testing on him. Not caring that it hurt him, It was a ghost, half one yes, but ghosts nonetheless, so it deserves to be hurt. Besides it's a ghost, it can't die, right?
And then, at times when they needed his help, he was being set free to fight the threat. Only to be captured again once the battle was over. He was forced to fight the invading ghosts as the research on him had created a weapon lethal to ghosts and halfa's. It wasn't such a great wonder that Vlad had been destroyed, no, obliterated, the minute he showed up to 'rescue' Danny. There had been nothing left of him. After that none of Danny's ghost friends dared to lift a finger in rescue.
Ever since he turned into a ghost just after his twelfth birthday he had been fighting. After his capture, in 3 years Danny had been reduced to a weapon and nothing more, broken in spirit and will. And now, just after the greatest battle of his life with the whole evil ghost zone combined, under the rule of the dragon king, he had been finally saved by Clockwork.
Danny didn't blame Clockwork for his life. Even if Clockwork had the power to save him earlier. Clockwork was much of a prisoner himself. After the couple of Dan-incidents the Observers had increased their power on Clockwork and he was tighter bound than ever.
"You are taking a great risk, by helping me out" Danny said with only a spark of emotion. "As I said, It was Time" Clockwork explained, "You have fought so hard, and now, I have the answer. Now, I can set you free" the ghost said, with a smile that said so much, relieve, sadness, hope and happiness. "It is time" He said once again, as green claws seemed to rip the air right next to him.
Wulf stepped out of the portal, closely followed by a small Cujo. The little dog immediately bounded towards Danny, knocking him over and licking his face. This brought a small, though true smile to Danny's face. The two ghosts were exactly as Danny remembered them, Cujo small but puffy, with his bulldog grin on his face. Wulf, big, hairy with hunched shoulders and eyes that spoke of hidden intelligence.
"Cujo, Wulf, what are you doing here?" Danny asked in a breathless voice while picking Cujo off his face. Cujo barked happily in response, trying to lick his face again. Wulf said, in his own language that Danny only partly understood: "Help, Friend" Even if Danny and Tucker had learned him English, he preferred to talk in his own language.
"Yes Danny, they've come to help you," Clockwork looked at Danny with a grandfatherly smile. "Help me with what?" Danny knew that he was too far gone to be helped. He was just so tired.
Clockwork seemed to calculate for a while and then said "We still have time, besides you need to know" And the time ghost motioned the boy to sit down on a random clock, which was a bit of a strange gesture coming from the ghost, who was at the moment a baby. Cujo sat next to Danny, his eyes flickering between all the occupants in the room and madly wagging his tail.
"As you know, time is not substantial, it flows here and there, in circles or in bounds. It has no definite purpose, nor need it. But as people change thoughts, make decisions, time lines split and create a second time line in what could have been. Now most of the time these other time lines vanish or join the original again. Though not always, as there are certain true Other Dimensions. Mostly created from great choices a long time ago. These choices had such a big impact on the world that the shadow line, which had been created because of a second path that the choice could have led to, was ripped from its original time-line. Thus effectively creating another Dimension." Clockwork explained, and Danny listened interested, it was the first real new information besides ghost fighting he had in years. Besides he had a curious mind. "Now, after some research I have found a very old dimension. One so old, even I have only a vague idea what it is like, this dimension has its own observers and rulers. It is so hidden that no one could find the entrance in all the millions of years the Ghost Zone has existed, but then, I have never searched for it." Clockwork said, righteously proud of himself. "I have found the entrance to this dimension… it was hard since this particular portal likes to change places. This is your change to be free, Danny, if you go through it, then you will find a whole new world. You could begin a new life there." Clockwork was hesitant to say more. He didn't want this to seem like Danny didn't had a choice. He, as Danny's mentor, knew how important this had become for the halfa. But then he also knew the boy would only die if he stayed here. Clockwork didn't want to really see that happening.
"So… I can go through the portal?" Danny asked, to be sure. It seemed so unreal that after all this time he would be presented a way out. "I can actually go to another world without having to worry that anyone would follow after me?" Clockwork nodded.
Danny was unable to squash the hopeful feeling that was growing in him. After everything, he could start anew… Yes, Hell-yes was the only answer that he had. It didn't matter that it could kill him, it didn't matter that he would have to leave this world behind. He had nothing left here, and he wanted to escape so bad. He wanted to escape it all. Even if it meant plunging into the unknown.
"Yes you can, it is up to you, but be warned, once you go, there is no turning back" Clockwork said.
"There is nothing for me here, only the prison, more experiments, and fighting ghosts to protect a town that no longer holds anything for me…" Danny's decision was final. "I will go."
Clockwork nodded, it was time for the boy to leave this world, he had seen it already, so he explained further. "I believe this Dimension was one of the first to separate from this time line, so whatever you will encounter is something I can only guess at" Danny was amazed by the fact that Clockwork didn't actually knew everything. He soon turned his attention to the ghost in his old man form again, not wanting to miss something important.
"I do know that when you go through the portal, your essence will change so you can survive in that world." Danny shot the time ghost an dumb look. "Per example, you know you have a ghost core, and yours is specialized in Ice. Now if the dimension by any dumb luck would be a world of fire, it could be, you would immediately dissolve as the Ice in your core could not handle the heat. That is why the portal will change you so you will fit in the other dimension. I would even dare to say this change will make you who you are supposed to be in that world." That gave Danny a lot to think about, he might change entirely if he went though with this. But he would, consequences did not matter, if he could just escape this world. He was far beyond the point of no return, this world held nothing for him, and never would again. If this was his one way ticket out, he would take it. So he nodded, determination filled his eyes.
Clockwork understood, it was almost time, so he turned towards the two canines. "there is no stopping you either?" He asked for the sake of Danny. Wulf shook his head while Cujo growled negatively.
"What?" Danny asked, still progressing the information in his mind. "They want to come with you." Clockwork merely stated. "What? No, you have a life here, the ghosts treat you well, there is no need for you to let yourself fall in the unknown" he tried to persuade the canine ghosts. Danny didn't want them to through their lives away just because he was fleeing from everything. "It could be… it probably will be dangerous" He said, then why do I want to go? No more control over me… I will make every choice myself. Like this one to leave, to be free. He answered himself.
Wulf just huffed and Cujo growled, no way he was able to change their minds… So Danny sighted in admission, "If you are sure…" He was glad, in a way, that he wouldn't have to face the unknown alone. Besides it would be kinda crud if he didn't allow them to go with him while he wanted to escape other peoples orders…
A thought crossed his mind. "How will this world fare without me?" After all that had happened, Danny couldn't help but feel a bit worried. It was his home world after all.
"Things will change" Clockwork simply said.
He smiled at the look Danny gave him. "I suppose now that you are leaving this world it wouldn't hurt to tell you the future." Clockwork said, changing his form once again. "War will break out." The old Time ghost stated bluntly, "Even bigger than the wars you fought in. War between Mankind and the Ghost population. A complete war between the races, not only fights over towns or ground in the ghost zone" He cut Danny off when he saw that the young half-ghost was about to say something. "No, you can't stop this, this war would commence even if you stay. Man brought this upon itself when they first captured you. And they made it concrete when they started to battle the ghosts, not for protection of their own, but for control of the Ghost Zone."
Clockwork said, softly when Danny cringed once again at the memory of his parents betrayal. "You see Danny" He said almost like he was sorry. " You are the Balance in this world. You are the thing that keeps both Man and Ghosts in their own bounds. When Man found out about you the scales were tipped. Had they let you continue being the Balance without interfering, the boundaries between the races would have restored itself. But man captured you and used you for its own purposes. The balance was lost, you were lost. When you leave, it won't be long before complete war will break out. And first the Ghosts will win, the world will change to their likeness, Man will be thrown into slavery. Then the humans will rebel, following in to another war which eventually Man will win. The world will reassess once again with Ghosts as the lower class. And Man will take control over the Ghost zone until the ghost stand up again. This cycle will go on and on until either a new balance is reached or there is no one left to fight."
Danny shot Clockwork a dumbfounded look. That a war between the races would commence was logical. The battles over the town of Amity Park were only the beginning. Now they would grow until the whole world was in war. He just couldn't believe that he would have been the preventer of it all. He could have prevented all that suffering and death. Maybe, he could have prevented the hatred Man has against ghosts. Before guilt could overcome him though, Clockwork spoke: "Daniel, do not feel guilty. Man had their chance. As had the Ghosts. You remember the fights… first out of ignorance and protection, the need to be safe, but that changed. Reasons became greed and domination." Clockwork shook his head in sadness. For the boy, though, none of the inhabitants of this world held his affection anymore. "Do not feel guilty about the fate that the races have chosen for themselves. They took away your choice and controlled you. Now I give you a choice back and I hope that you will face it without the influences of this world. It will be your choice."
Had he been able, maybe Danny would have cried. He felt great gratitude towards the ancient time ghost. He was the first in a long long time that gave Danny the ability to make a choice for himself again.
Clockwork saw how hard it was on the battle and torture wearied boy so he decided to continue explaining. It was the least he could do, letting the boy prepare himself. "As your core will reassess to the new world you may find more than one change. Since you were vital to this world, it is highly possible that in that world you will feel like you miss something. Something you didn't need in this world because it needed you too much. You were like a second half to this time-line, literally a Balance. Now if you leave this world behind, the part of this world that needed you, you will miss in way as well. The world where you would arrive in will not hold the same importance to you as you do not hold the same importance to that world. That world will probably have something like its own second half. To keep it in balance. Thus a part of you will seem to be missing." The old time ghost said, changing to a teenager, as if that would make the subject better. "I only hope that you will not fill this hole with power, since that is what you fought in this world. It would be like you took a step back from where you stood in this world. I have full confidence in you though"
Danny nodded, it was all strange, but he would probably soon understand.
Clockwork smiled again "Danny, you never deserved to be in this position, you never deserved a life of fighting. I hope that you can find a better life in this other world"
"Thank you" Danny croacked, it was the only thing he could. He wanted- no needed to leave, to create a better life for himself. And he couldn't thank Clockwork enough for understanding, and presenting such a chance. "Thank you… so much"
Clockwork felt it was time. "Alright, now, Wulf, if you could," he said, pointing at another piece of space just next to him, before slightly backing away. He knew the hidden portal would pass there in a matter of seconds, almost waiting to be opened. Wulf smiled as his claws elongated. Cujo ran next to Wulf as he made a large slash.
Immediately the wolf and the dog were being sucked into the just opened portal.
"Cujo! Wulf!" Danny yelled in surprise, he was about to go after them when he felt a hand on his chest, holding him back.
"Not yet, if you will go in now, your core would be merged with theirs." Clockwork said, not sounding very worried. "What do you mean merge?" Danny asked, worried about his friends.
"This was meant to happen. Their cores will change, and while they are together in the portal, they will merge and, if it is seen fit, separated again. They will be different, and bound to each other. But they would have chosen for it anyways."
Danny shot Clockwork a look of incomprehension. Clockwork just shook his head slightly "You'll understand."
Danny sighted but knew better then to press the matter. He looked longingly into the portal.
Then he thought of something. Clockwork was a prisoner as well, wouldn't he like to be free? As he though it the time ghost chuckled, a little darkly. "Yes I could escape with you. But I won't, don't worry my young ward, I may be like a prisoner now. But times will change, they always will" He smirked darkly once again. "Now Danny, it is time, time for you to step through the portal."
The young half-ghost took a long glance of the old time ghost before saying "I wish you the best" And Danny truly did, Clockwork was in more ways his oldest ally and friend. Even bound as Clockwork always was, he never made life hell for Danny. He was truly grateful to have been something like a friend for the ancient ghost as well.
"Not something like a friend, Daniel," The Ghost said, as though he could read minds, he put a hand on Danny's shoulder. "I hope that you will find your way"
It was all Danny needed, and he was immensely grateful for Clockwork to say it. Time it was, he agreed in his head. He stepped forwards, stopped and turned towards the old time ghost for the last time. Danny nodded towards Clockwork. That one nod held everything, sadness, loss hope and most importantly gratitude. And Clockwork nodded back, understanding it all.
With this Danny smiled, truly smiled, and let himself fall backwards into the portal. Taking in the last sight of his own world.
Time seemed to slow while he fell and his own thoughts seemed to speed up. He saw his life flashing by, like he was dying. In a way he was dying to this world. But it didn't matter. He would leave, he would finally leave his prison, this whole world, behind. It was ironic that he saw the whole world as his prison when he was its balance and it needed him as much as he needed it, still now he could escape, and he felt no regret about it.
His last thoughts were on Sam, Tucker and Jazz, the last of his fond memories. He would leave those behind as well. The last ties to this world. But he knew that his friend would forgive him for that. He would not forget those memories after all, but now, he would be able to continue looking forwards. He could finally start making himself whole again.
So as the last glimpse of this world disappeared in the green and purple swirl of the portal he quietly sang to himself, in a tone filled with sadness, acceptance and determination:
"What's gone is forever lost, now all we can do is live."