A/N: Sorry, I actually had this sitting in my Gdoc files for a while, then suddenly remembered it was there today. I probably won't be updating for a while, since I need to develop a proper plot and stuff, but I definitely want to give this type of story a try.

Heads up for agender Clockwork headcanon. They/them pronouns. And a warning for expletives.

This idea was adopted from SuspiciousPlayer. I own neither Danny Phantom or Code Geass.

chapter 1

A King, a Knight, and One Wild Card

The destruction of the Ghost Zone was unavoidable. For the first time, the inevitable parade danced toward the disappearance, the ending of one of its two greatest components.

Oh, how those words sent terror quivering through their core.

"Clockwork, we must do something!"

"You mean you wish for me to do something," their baritone voice bespoke resignation. "But any action leads to destruction. It is impossible to avoid the inevitable. This way, at least, the humans will survive and the Ghost Zone will have its chance at rebirth." The ghost turned world-weary eyes to the Observants at the door. The age lines on their oldest form's face seemed far too defined, and their cheekbones sagged. It had been a long time since Clockwork had taken the form of a carefree child.

"So you can't find the ghost child?"

So now you care about him? It was a bitter thought they wouldn't give voice to. "He is in the future. I have known he was there since his disappearance."

"Then bring him back!" the Observants demanded angrily, but their single eye was opened wide with fright.

"Then Dan would become a possibility," Clockwork answered grimly. "All is as it should be."

They returned their gaze back to the portal. It showed the gloomy scene that would occur just an hour from then: an ectonuke primed and loaded through the Fenton Portal, the grinning faces of their charge's parents and the dreadful Guys in White. They pressed the button and –

He angrily swiped the portal image to show his favorite young charge instead, ignoring the Observants' nervous titters. Did they really want to spend the last moments of his afterlife arguing with them, worrying about the inevitability of death? No, it was better to keep on watching the one who mattered most to them – a sweet boy who held the fate of their world in his hand.

Clockwork still had time left. And time, after all, was all he needed to lend a small helping hand.

• • •

Black hair. No gloves. So. I was in human form. A twitch, and –


I gasped and clutched my side, feeling as if a sledgehammer had pounded against my rib cage. In human form, the pain was so much worse. But what was it? A gash? A broken rib? Something else?

My hand didn't come away bloody, so it was probably a broken rib. Good. I could work with that.

What mess my life must be, if a broken rib is considered "minor," I mused darkly, coming to my feet. Where was I? They should write a soap opera about my life, that's how much it sucks–

Voices. They must have been too far away for hearing, because I didn't understand a word. Well, that gave me more time to figure out what was going on. Nice, grassy area. A large building that looked... well, like some kind of ancient palace. Was I on some sort of historical monument? Were those the voices tourists? Security guards? The Guys in White?

Oh, shoot. They were much, much louder than they should've been from the distance I had judged. I couldn't understand them not because of the distance, but because they were speaking a different freaking language.

Pain must have been making me delirious, because the first thing I did was run.

I have ghost powers, I can go intangible, I can fly – and the first thing I do is run. Right. Real smart, Danny.

If I was aiming to catch their attention, I succeeded. As soon as the group rounded the corner, the voices had reached a fevered pitch, indecipherable calling and shouting. I could only imagine how bad this must look. Random guy trespassing on this fancy place, and suddenly starts running. Not suspicious behavior at all!

Yeah, right. This wasn't going to end well.

• • •

Lelouch found himself with a genuine smile tugging at his face. When Nunnally had first suggested these strolls, he had been a skeptic, but her happiness had soon turned him into a believer. Although he did have to admit, the experience would have been much more enjoyable without Milly's teasing, Nina's glares, and Shirley's attempt at hiding her affection for him. Rivalz, at least, was easy to ignore, and Sayoko's presence was almost nonexistent.

"Lu-lu, are you even listening?" He made a noncommittal sound before he realized that the question was addressed to him and indeed required an answer. He smiled graciously.

"No, I'm afraid I was simply enjoying our time together too much to listen." Predictably, everybody seemed mollified by the statement, and in Shirley's case,looked ecstatic for even the simple words. Nunnally, however, was a different matter.

"That's still rude," she scolded gently, as was her manner with all things living, "You should always listen to those talking to you." And so Lelouch smiled again and apologized for his transgression.

Ah, Nunnally. You deserve a world kinder than this. "What did I miss?"

Instead of Nunnally, it was Milly who replied in all her flirtatious glory. "We were wondering if there were any plans for today, Lu-lu~" Lelouch shifted uncomfortably. There was nothing wrong with Milly of course, it was simply that this sort of attitude bothered him. She knew who he really was. Why bother with this façade?

He was about to open his mouth when Rivalz spoke over him, ruining all of his impromptu schemes of dancing around the subject. Why, forgive me, Milly, but I do indeed have plans –

"Sorry Milly, me and Lelouch were going to head out and play the boards," he said as if he didn't knew how Shirley would blow up at those words.

"Lelouch and I," muttered Lelouch, taking petty vengeance at his friend before the storm came. Not that the word order actually mattered in Latin, of course – but the mistaken tense grated on his nerves.

As did Shirley's stubborn refusal to understand his gambling habits.

She dashed in front of the group, hands postured angrily over her hips. "Hey, I thought you said you were done gambling!" She said it as if it were a dirty word. "Lu-lu!" She glared at him, demanding an explanation.

Lelouch was almost relieved when Nunnally offered a distraction, as morbid as it was.

"Brother, I think someone's hurt. I heard something to our right." His relief was quickly masked by a frown.

"Hurt?" He peered around Shirley, only to find a stranger on campus grounds. "Well, there is someone there, but I don't think he's – "

"HEY, ARE YOU OKAY?" Milly shouted, hands cupped over her mouth.

The boy bolted. For a moment, Lelouch could only stare, mouth agape.

What an unusual reaction, his mind observed, and suddenly was dragged forward by a rough hand on his arm. Milly. Why – ?

"Come on! If he's hurt, we need to help him!" But on her face was one of those trademark Milly grins. This was no charity case, but simply another one of her games.

He glanced back, and forcibly stumbled to a halt. He found that the rest of the group had followed in mindless pursuit, and his mind sought the easiest way out of the situation. Nunnally couldn't run blind in a wheelchair, and he himself was physically inadequate.

Ah. There was the solution.

"Sayoko!" He softened his voice, but it still contained the sharp commanding tone that seemed to naturally accompany it. "Catch that boy for Milly. I will wait here with Nunnally."

"Of course."

Lelouch watched them go with a sigh and walked back to Nunnally.

"What just happened?" Her eyebrows were furrowed in confusion, and Lelouch smiled fondly, ruffling her hair.

"Just Milly's antics. They went after that boy, but I'm not sure if he was injured like you thought. Let's continue our stroll, shall we?"

At last some peace and quiet.

• • •

Kallen had just wanted a break from the pretending, the lies. She had wanted some peace and quiet from the so-called "friends" – the ones who were just searching for someone to pity, and thought themselves doing her a favor. Well, she didn't need their pity. She wasn't weak. She was strong; she was Japanese

What in the world?

Someone was running towards her, far too fast for her liking. For a moment, she was divided: should she act the meek girl she pretended to be, or was this an actual threat?

The boy spoke.

Absolute gibberish. No, why would someone talk to her in gibberish? A different language? A code?

It was too late to think anymore. The boy had gotten too close. Her instincts flared at the challenge his charge seemed to imply, and she thoughtlessly let her body take action. A minute shift forward, a duck, and suddenly she was flipping him over, using his own momentum to throw him against the ground.

And there he stayed, groaning, clutching his ribs. She hesitated, and approached warily. Had it been a mistake? Had he not been attacking?

Had she just blown her cover?

"Are you okay?" she hesitantly asked. The boy threw his arms up in the air in exasperation and said more gibberish. Already on edge, she jumped away from the sudden movement.

"Uh..." Kallen was, for once, at a loss. She eyed him warily. Looked like a Britannian, but... "Daijobu?" Are you okay?

She figured she couldn't mess it up any more than she already had, and to her luck, the boy seemed to brighten at the Japanese. He slowly made it to his feet with a sort of self-deprecating smile.

"Er... Hai?"

She blinked. It hadn't really been a yes or no question.

"Daijobu?" she repeated more slowly, as if speaking to an infant, but this time, he didn't seem to register the words at all. His eyes were instead fixated on something behind her. She made to turn when –

He disappeared.

The frustration and confusion caught up to her. She stomped her foot against the ground, harder than her "weak" body should've been able to.

"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GOING?" she shouted. She didn't even know to whom exactly she had blown her cover to.

"Kallen?" a voice said tentatively behind her. She didn't bother turning around.


• • •

Japanese, Japanese. That girl had sounded like a native speaker. Was I in Japan? Obviously something had happened since I didn't remember how I would have gotten to this palace-place. Clockwork must had meddled again.

Or I could be going insane.

But since I preferred the Clockwork idea more, I decided to run with that instead. So if I were an omnipotent ancient ghost, how would I decide to mess with a young halfa's life even more?

I frowned. That didn't sound like Clockwork. Maybe another ghost, but Clockwork didn't do things without reason.

So maybe

"Bonum meridianus."

"Gah!" I drew to a halt, eyes wide at the maid – a maid, really? – who had appeared before me. It was unnerving, even after years of dealing with ghosts, that someone could sneak up on me so easily.

Then I registered what she had said. More of the gibberish.

"Bo- bonum – " I tried, but the word felt awkward and thick in my mouth. The maid smiled patiently.

"Bonum meridianus." She eyed me speculatively, then added, "Konichiwa."

Okay, so that was definitely Japanese.

"Konichiwa," he replied awkwardly. "Er..." How do I say this? No, no. That's Spanish –

What the heck, it was worth a try. He felt far too sluggish and nauseated for any more brain effort than what was required.

"¿Hablas español?" he asked tentatively, the foreign words awkward and thick in his mouth. Do you speak Spanish?

No wait, that was disrespectful. It should have been "habla," but it was too late for that.

She tilted her head in confusion, so I tried again.

"Necesito... saber dónde soy. Estoy," I hastily corrected, then realized it probably didn't matter by the blank expression on her face. Right. Back to attempting Japanese from the few glimpses I got from Sam's anime days. So how do I tell maid-girl that I need to know where I am?

But before I could make another attempt, nearly fluent Spanish poured out from the woman's mouth.

"Estoy soprendida que usted sepa esta idioma. Pensaba que nadie la usa aquí." She paused, then gestured to my side, where I rather suddenly realized I had been pressing my hand against my injured rib. I quickly took it off, wincing at the removal of even that slight relief, and tried to focus on interpreting the words. "Usted se lastimó."

Lastimo, lastimo... What did that mean again? High school Spanish didn't seem to be nearly enough anymore.

The world had turned dizzying shades of green, ghostly green, neon green, dark vomit green. It seemed to tunnel in until all I could see was this stranger's face and her ridiculous outfit, the edges becoming hazy and dark. I felt lethargic, and even the stabbing pain from my side didn't seem to be worth the effort of worrying about anymore.

"Sí," I said, even though I didn't really know anymore what the question had been. Or weren't we talking in Japanese? "Hai, hai." I had always found it funny the way the word "yes" was said so sharp and clear in Japanese...

Everything went dark.

• • •

"I have the boy. Should I bring him to Milly, or to the club house?"

"The clubhouse is fine."

A pause.

"Nunnally asked if he's hurt."

"Yes, sir, he just blacked out."

"... I suppose we'll have to get him to a doctor."

"Sir –"

"Yes, Sayoko?"

"I don't think you can dismiss this so easily. I think he's from the European Union."