As I have stated in my very first posted fanfic I will be posting other fanfics of other categories. So here is one fanfic that has me very excited. I understand some of you are waiting for updates to my first fanfic, but if you read my recent note I believe you can understand why.

First off before anything I very much like to thank Bookworm Gal, writer of the Fairly Oddparents story "Never Had a Friend like Me" and a recent favorite of mine, for collaborating with me on this fanfic and helping with the plot and characterization. You've been a great help.

To anyone who is reading this, I am currently in search of a traditional beta if they wish to check my grammar and such. My current one is only temporary. If they wish to help, please PM me.

Ok then, as disclaimers all go, I state that I do not have any ownership over Danny Phantom. All rights of the show belong to Butch Hartman. The only thing I can claim any ownership is this plot and my OC character.

With that, I must warn you all that this is an AU. As such, I will be start from a slightly different premise before going to near the beginning of the series of the canon, somewhere between the first and fourth episode to be more specific.

I hope you enjoy this fic and please Read and Review.


Prologue

Michiko Shade was, to no one's surprise, currently enthralled by a picture book. She knew everyone would expect her to be lurking quietly among the various shelves of the library, enjoying the stories rather than running around with the neighborhood kids on the playground outside. With no siblings and with the local children considering her "weird" due to her less energetic ideas of fun, among other things, she found the solitude of the library comforting. Ever since her dad first brought her to the library down the street, introducing her to fairy tales and books in general, she loved to read them. Her dad would even call her "His Little Matilda". She was always curious to know more and books were reliable ways to find out amazing things. Besides, books didn't use mean words or call her names like other kids would.

She knew she didn't look or act like the neighbor kids or her classmates. She looked like her mother, with her beautiful black hair and her slightly-slanted eyes. The color of her eyes was the same light grey as her dad's. And Michiko knew that some of the words her mom taught her and used for important people weren't words her teacher and the local children used such as greetings and how to address other people. That was because her mom was from a place called Japan while her dad was from here. And it was why she had a "weird" name, as one of her classmates said the first day of school. She had a name like her mom, Fumiko, while her dad had a name that was more like everyone else, Matthew. People were different all around the world, but that didn't mean being different was bad. She liked the differences and liked the amazing things her mom knew how to do that no one else in the neighborhood did. But being different sometimes made it hard to make friends. So Michiko stayed with her picture books.

Abruptly, the doors slammed open and the sound of feet running filled the air. Being curious, Michiko put down her current book about how flowers grew and decided to see who was causing such a ruckus. Peeking out from a bookshelf, she saw a young boy being quietly reprimanded by the librarian. He looked to be about six years old, just like her. He had black hair and, when she squinted her eyes to look closer, Michiko noticed that he had dark blue eyes.

Once the librarian finished reprimanding him, Michiko saw him sigh in relief before he turned and met his eyes with her, startling her. Diving behind the bookcase once more, she quickly returned to her book and hid behind it. A moment later, however, she heard a quiet voice.

"Hi."

She hesitantly looked up to see the same boy she saw earlier now looking at her.

"I've never seen you around before, what's your name?" he asked, taking a seat across her.

"Michiko," she muttered as a reply. "What are you doing here shouldn't you be playing with the other kids outside?" she asked, lowering the book to look at him as he sighed and leaned back against his chair.

With a huff, he replied, "I was before some big bully decided it would be fun to chase the little kids around. I didn't know where I was going, so I ended up here." He crossing his arms over his chest clearly miffed. Then, relaxing once more, he asked her, "What about you? What are you doing here?"

He was looking at her in curiosity as she replied, "None of the other kids want to play with me, so why try?"

With that out of the way, she sighed and looked down at her book.

"Well, you seem nice, but your name's really weird though, so I'll call you Miki, let's be friends, okay?" he said quickly in one breath.

His words surprised her before she realized what he said last.

"Fine, but my name isn't Miki. It's Michiko," she retorted in annoyance, but with a hint of smile on her face.

Somehow, that was how Michiko met her best friend. There was no other word to describe the boy. Anytime that her father brought her to the library after school, she would look at the playground beside it to see if a familiar black-haired kid was there. And if he was, she would join her on the jungle gym or swings though albeit shyly at first. Or when he could he would follow her inside the building and help her look for interesting books. Sometimes, he would build small castles by stacking the books on the table. And sometimes, when he managed to talk her into it, she would help him, though she would scold him later on. With Michiko's shy nature and his free-spirited one they balanced out her quiet hobbies with his more energetic games, finding a way to enjoy each other's preferences.

And when summer rolled around, it seemed like they would have even more time together. But then her parents mentioned that they were going to a family reunion for her father's side of the family and they would be gone for a week. While disappointing to the six-year olds, they promised to get back together as soon as Michiko returned.

After all, it couldn't be that long of a wait. Right?


It took at least three days and two rest stops to reach the venue of the family reunion. Luckily enough though, they reached the event in time.

Mom had made her dress up nicely since she wanted everyone to make a good impression. While her dad just had to wear a nice shirt and khaki pants, the girls of the family wore dresses. Michiko wore a pretty white dress with a leaf green cardigan. She could always take off the cardigan if she got too hot, but Mom said it would be better to take it just in case. She was also wearing a necklace she got for her birthday. It was a little locket with a picture of her family inside and the letter "M" on the outside. She felt grown up wearing it, just like her mom wearing her necklace with the jade pendant.

The venue was a quaint little park, with a couple of swings and several picnic tables that were surrounded by some larger trees that kept the rest of the surroundings out of sight. And the entire area was packed with people; adults, kids, and even a few elders. They were scattered around, chatting or eating food from the tables. Most had blonde hair like her dad's and a few even had the same light grey for eyes, but a few brunettes were also spotted along with blondes with green eyes. They seemed to fill the park. And even if her parents told her that they were her family, she didn't recognize a single one.

As they got out the car, Michiko searched around for any kids her age to play with. But before she had the chance, she was swarmed. The older members of the group, the ones with wrinkles and grey hair, spent the first few minutes of her visit patting her head, commenting on how much she'd grown, and saying something quietly about how maybe it wasn't so bad that Mathew married someone from another country if they had such an adorable little girl. It was so strange to be at the center of attention like that while so many strangers smiled broadly while claiming to be her cousin, her aunt, her great-uncle, her second-cousin, her grandmother, or her really really distant cousin. Happily, they were eventually distracted away from her the moment another car arrived with more relatives for them to greet.

Now free from the endless swarm of new family members, Michiko continued her quest to find someone to play with. But to her disappointment, she was searching in vain. None of the kids were near her age. They were either too old or too young. There seemed to be nothing but teenagers who weren't interested in playing with a six-year-old, a few boys who were about twelve and refused to let her on the swings they'd claimed as their own, or toddlers who were wobbling around the grass while their parents watched them closely.

Disappointed and wishing she could have just stayed back home where she could just visit the library with her friend, she decided to find a nice place to read. Barely managing to tell her parents what she had in mind due to the sheer number of people talking to them, she was able to find a spot of shade a little ways off under a tree. With a book she'd brought out of the car, she sat down and started to read. she'd chosen a more difficult and longer book for the journey, this one with actual chapters and fewer pictures. She had to really focus on reading this one, but it was a fun story and she liked a challenge. It didn't take long for her to become completely immersed in her book and she forgot about the rest of the world.

Abruptly, a pair of arms had grabbed her. Before the startled girl could even scream in surprise, a hand muffled her mouth. She struggled against the strange embrace, but the person was too strong. She was held tight, the stranger's embrace like a mockery of a hug. The person was pulling her away, trying to get her out of view. She struggled helplessly as she saw that her family only a few meters away, but none of them looked in her direction. They never noticed that she was in trouble.

"What a pretty girl," a gruff voice said quietly.

Michiko was quickly moving from surprise to terror. She didn't know this person. It wasn't some kind of game, like how her dad would sometimes scoop her up and tickle her. This was a stranger and they were pulling her away from her family. She didn't want to go with them. The child was still trying to scream and cry for her parents to come and get her, but the firm hand across her face kept her silent. The person dragged her deeper into the forest with Michiko shaking in their arms in fear.
She didn't like this. She wanted to go home. She wanted to go back to her house or the library where it was safe and nothing bad ever happened. She wanted to get away from the bad person who wouldn't let go. He was scary, like a monster. She didn't like this at all and it was like one of the scarier books that she couldn't read before bedtime because it would give her nightmares.

Maybe this was all a nightmare and she would wake up soon. She tried closing her eyes, thinking about her safe room with her warm bed, stuffed animals, and her little tea set made of real china. She tried to make herself wake up. Michiko hoped with all her heart that this wasn't real. She wanted it to just be a horrible nightmare, but the strong arm wrapped around her body and the sweaty palm pressed against her mouth felt all too real.

Suddenly, they stopped. Michiko opened her eyes to a peek. At first, all she could see was a colorful blur. Then the six year old, realized two things. The first was that she was crying and the tears were the reason that everything was blurr. The second was wherever they were, there was a meadow of wildflowers.

"Perfect," the scary monster man said.

Suddenly, she felt herself being dropped as the grip suddenly vanished. Michiko didn't even think. Stumbling and tripping to her feet, she tried to escape. She didn't know which way to go or where her family might be, but the girl just wanted to get away. She only made it a few steps before the tight grip returned to grab her. Scared, Michiko screamed and this time there was no hand over her mouth to silence her. She didn't say anything specific; she just released a terrified and wordless shriek.

Her scream was sharply ended as she was thrown against a tree. She yelped as her side was hit by pain and the strong hand pushed her back against the rough bark. Then something slapped the side of her face.

"Good little girls should be quiet and stay still," he growled.

Groaning in pain, she opened her eyes once more to see the monster man pulling rope out of his backpack. He looked like a person, but he was too mean and scary. He really must be a monster in disguise. His hair was blonde and messy, like his mom had never helped him comb it before in his life. He was wearing blue jeans and a grey shirt that did nothing to hide how large and muscular he was. His eyes were green, but also kind of dark and murky. It was like there was something even scarier hiding in there.

With the rope in hand, he started tying her to the tree trunk. She tried to pull free on him, but it only took moments for several loops of the rough rope to bind her in place. Once the monster finished tying her up, he pulled something else out of his backpack. With a scary grin on his face, he swiftly tied a rag in her mouth. He seemed to glance over his knots one final time before nodding and standing up. Michiko then saw him go back into the forest.

She instantly began struggling once more, trying to wiggle free of the tight bindings trapping her to the tree. She fought against them for several minutes, but it was no use. She had no way of escape and because of the fact she was now gagged, she couldn't call for help either. Michiko stood in place, crying for several minutes. She wanted her mommy and daddy to come find her. She wanted to go home. Why wouldn't anyone come and help her? She was so scared and alone. In the fairy tales, someone always showed up to rescue people in trouble. She stood in place sobbing silently, wanting someone to show up to save her from the scary monster man.

The flowers were pretty. Why were there so many pretty and colorful flowers when everything else seemed so scary? Michiko found herself staring at the bright oranges and yellow wildflowers. She could pretend she wasn't tied up by a scary monster man, just as long as she only paid attention to the bright and cheerful colors. They were so calm and peaceful to look at. The girl could even see a few bees flying between them. The clearing and all the flowers were so pretty. How could anything bad happen somewhere so nice?

Everything would be all right. The little girl kept tell herself that as she looked at all the wildflowers. Everything would be all right. Maybe she could pick a few of these flowers and take them back to her mommy later. She'd probably like them. Everything would be all right. The different colors were so nice and cheerful that she couldn't help sniffling back the tears a little. She could probably weave them into a little crown fairly easily. She remembered girls at her school doing that with flowers sometimes. It couldn't be that hard. Everything would be all right.

Then the monster came back and she couldn't pretend anymore. Everything wouldn't be all right. He was a bad and scary monster man and she couldn't escape. She felt herself go cold and started to shiver. In the monster's hand was a shovel and she didn't know why that scared her, but it did. There was a smirk on his face as he walked close by her, reaching out briefly to touch her hair and face before he moved to a spot in the clearing not far away. There didn't seem to be as many flowers in that particular area, but there were still some surrounding it.

Giving her one last creepy grin, he began digging at an empty patch. The first layer was removed carefully, as if he was trying to keep the plants unharmed. But once he dug up the top part, he began to remove the dirt quickly. Michiko didn't know what he was doing. Was he looking for something buried? She didn't know and she really wanted to get away from him. She wanted her mommy and daddy to come find her now. They'd show up and fix everything. She knew they would. She hoped they would come soon.

Once the monster man was apparently done digging his hole, he went back towards Michiko. The shovel was propped on his shoulder as he approached, a dark look in his eye. When he stopped right in front of her, he knelt down to her level and smiled. It wasn't a friendly smile. It was a scary one, like how mean dogs would bare their teeth at people they didn't like. He reached out with his free hand and brushed away some of her tears on her face. His touch made her cry more.

"Such a pretty girl," he said in his gruff voice. "I think you're my favorite so far. I'll definitely be thinking about you for a while."

She tried to pull away from his touch, but she couldn't go anywhere. She was tied too tightly. He stroked her face and hair a few more times, staring at her intensely. Michiko tried to look away from him and his murky green eyes, staring instead of the bright flowers behind him. But her gaze kept drifting back to the monster man. He kept looking at her face and hair, like he wanted to remember how she looked forever.

Abruptly, he grabbed her necklace. He yanked it off her neck, the chain snapping and leaving a stinging sensation on the back of her neck. Michiko flinched at the small pain while he looked at her locket carefully.

"Yes, I'll remember you."

He tucked the necklace in his pocket and stood up. He shifted the shovel off his shoulder and held it carefully in both hands like he would a baseball bat. The monster man then swung the shovel, the metal end practically whistling through the air. That was the last thing she saw before pain and darkness seeped in.


Gasping awake, Michiko looked around and yelped in terror at the sight of her surroundings. She was no longer was in a meadow of wildflowers with a bright blue sky. Instead, she was somewhere that was both dark and glowing with a strange green light, the two aspects swirling and twisting together. It was like the sky had been changed by a toddler finger painting it. And then she looked down and screamed in fright. She saw standing on a floating piece of land. It was just floating in midair, surrounded by the strange shadows and glow.

But that wasn't the end of the strangeness. When she looked down at her hands, Michiko recoiled when she saw that they were now a pale blue.

Filled with shock, confusion, and terror, she curled into a ball on the floating chunk of land. Her mind raced as she sat there trembling, trying to figure out what happened. And even if she was only six years old, she'd read lots of books at the library and that included scary stories. And as scared as she was before, it got worse as she realized what had happened to her. The monster man did the same thing the bad guys always tried to do to the good guys in the fairy tales, only he succeeded.

Tears of sorrow ran down her cheeks. She didn't know where she was, but she knew would never be able to see her family ever again. She wasn't their little girl anymore. She was a scary story people were supposed to tell around campfires. She was a ghost. What was she supposed to do now?

It took what seemed like hours before she calmed down enough to unfurl from her position. But she eventually did, too tired to cry anymore. Once she looked down, she shivered at what she saw. She was now floating above ground.

It took weeks to finally get used to her surroundings. Not to mention the strange things she encountered. Most of them were scary green creatures that simply ignored her and flew by her without apparently caring about her presence. Other times, however, she would see ghosts that looked like her. They were humanoid-looking beings that seemed to just wander the place until they encountered another one. Some talked while others apparently fought anyone who looked at them the wrong way. But she never got the nerve to approach them herself out of fear that they would attack her. As long as she kept her distance, she was all right. And she grew less afraid of the place in general.

Still, thoughts of her family consumed her. She wanted to go home where everything would be all right, but she couldn't. She didn't know how to leave the strange place. And even if she did, she wasn't herself anymore. She was a ghost, like in the scary stories.

And no longer did she feel fear at the thought of the monster man. He was scary, but he was also gone. He couldn't do anything worse to her anymore. Instead of fear of him, she was full unadulterated rage. She was so angry that he did this to her that she wished that she could bring him to the strange dark and glowing place with the scary green creatures. Maybe some of the bigger ones would chase the monster man. But she couldn't find her way home, let alone find the person responsible. So Michiko mostly drifted aimlessly and alone while she thought about her family and the monster man.

One day, however, while she was roaming around, she stumbled upon what seemed to be a lair of some sort. It looked like a giant clock tower with gears and such. She'd passed other chunks of land with odd structures and caverns before. Some of the ghosts seemed to lurk in those places while others seemed to be deserted. This one, though, was the first to really draw her attention. Why would someone make a home out of a giant clock?

Curiosity winning over caution, she silently entered the lair. She almost expected the front door to be locked, but it opened quite easily at her touch. The moment she entered, she could hear the ticking of a clock, the moving of the gears, and soft and steady noises that measured the passage of time.

Not far inside, she found a small table. It was sitting in the middle of the hallway that was completely empty otherwise. Sitting on it, practically waiting for her to show up, was a strange necklace. Unlike the one that was stolen from her by the monster man, it was on a ribbon instead of a chain. And it wasn't a locket with her first initial. Instead, there pendant looked like a gear with a "C" and "W" overlapping each other. Michiko knew she should leave it alone, that she was already tresspassing and taking someone else's necklace would be even worse. What if whoever lived here got mad? Still, it wouldn't hurt to try it on for a little while. It was kind of neat looking and she'd put it back before she left. Besides, it almost felt like she was supposed to find it and try it on.

Decision made, she carefully slipped it over her head and marveled at the interesting necklace. Now she looked like she belonged in the giant clock building. Nodding to herself with satisfaction, the girl continued her exploration.

Marveling at the strange clock tower, she began flying around to take a closer look at the different gears and bells. She'd grown used to flying by this point and it certainly offered the nice side effect of being able to see things that were taller than her a lot easier than before. And with the strange clockwork mechanisms that stretched far above her and around her, that ability was certainly helpful with her exploring of the place.

While examining a bell, however, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Turning around, she saw what seemed to be a strange device and went closer to it. Michiko couldn't help but think it looked like some strange sort of TV. And the more she glanced around the room, the more of the devices she saw scattered around. Some where high above the ground or smaller, but the largest one at eye level was the one that held her attention the most. And while most of them seemed to be rather blank and empty at the moment, a few of the higher and distant ones appeared to show more of the green and black of the outside. Maybe they were windows instead?

As the girl was looking at the screen, she was startled when it suddenly came to life. For a second, she wanted to fly out of there, but nothing else immediately happened and she decided it was still safe. Taking a seat on the floor, she decided to watch what it would show her. Unlike her glimpses of the others, there didn't seem to be the shadows and green glow of the outside. Instead, the screen was showing a park. There was blue sky, green grass, and trees. And there were people, not the scary green and blue ghosts like the ones she'd seen since her arrival. Everything looked normal, without the floating islands of land or shadows and green glow. She missed normal.

However, the moment a banner stretched over the gathered people came into view, Michiko froze. She knew that banner. She'd seen them before. And even if she didn't recognize the sign, she could certainly read it easily enough. Depicted on the banner was the words "Shades Family Reunion" and the year.

"But that's impossible" she cried, shock washed over her as she sat frozen staring at the screen.

She continued to watch as the screen showed her the various relatives she barely knew. And after watching for a few more minutes, there was no denying it. The image on the screen was showing her family reunion from weeks ago. This strange TV was showing her her past. Or maybe she hadn't been in the strange shadowy and glowing place for weeks. Maybe it was only a few minutes ago instead. It was hard to judge time anyway without a sun or moon in the sky. Or maybe it was all just a nightmare and she'd wake up under that tree, the one she'd been reading under before everything went wrong.

Michiko moved closer to the screen as she caught sight of her Mommy, a wave of wistfulness washing over her. She reached out to touch the image, wanting more than anything to be back with her family. Then she yelped in fright as the screen actually sucked in her hand. Struggling to break free only made it worse and soon the rest of her followed as she fell through.

Feeling like she'd tumbled down a rabbit hole like Alice from the story her dad had been reading to her, Michiko found herself stumbling into a forest. And it was a real forest with a blue sky and everything looked normal. She was out of the strange shadowy and glowing place. Even if she still had blue skin and had trouble staying on the ground, she was still back somewhere normal. That had to be better than being lost somewhere so strange.

Looking around in wonder at the more normal and pleasant surroundings, she then heard the sounds of what seemed like struggling. Part of her wanted to hide, but curiosity seemed to be winning quite often that day. Cautiously peeking out from behind a tree, the sight that she encountered made her go stiff. The perspective was strange, but familiar. She'd seen this before. Michiko recognized exactly what was in front of her. She was seeing none other than herself struggling in the arms of her kidnapper.

She abruptly realized what was happening. The strange TV must have been some kind of time travel machine like the ones in the sci-fi shows she watched sometimes with Daddy. When the realization set in, a spark of hope lit in her chest. In the shows, sometimes the good guys would fix things in the past to make the future better. It was possible that she could change things too. She wouldn't have to be a ghost. She could be with her mommy and daddy again. She could go HOME!

With that new resolve, she silently followed them until they all reached the meadow. She knew that as a ghost, she couldn't set herself free. She didn't want to scare... herself? Time-travel was confusing. But she didn't want to scare the other Michiko anymore than the monster man was already doing so. That meant she had to wait until he was alone. Then she could try to scare her murderer away before he could hurt anyone.

She watched as the monster man shoved her other self against the tree and then slapped her. She'd wanted to wait, but that was the final straw. She was too furious with him and couldn't let him be there any longer. She hated him too much for ruining everything, for taking her away from everyone. And she couldn't stand by an longer.

She flew out of her hiding place and headed straight towards the monster, shrieking at the top of her lungs. Floating in midair, her hair whipping behind her, and her new green eyes glowing with malevolence, she was the image of pure rage. The monster recoiled and stumbled in fear her, ending up sitting on his behind.

"How dare you...?" Michiko hissed, floating in front of him so that they were face to face.

Tears of rage flowed down her cheeks without realizing it. She hated him. He was horrible and evil and... and... She couldn't even think of the right words to describe how bad he was. She just wanted everything to go back to the way it was supposed to be before he ruined it. And she didn't know why he did it in the first place. Why did he grab her? She didn't do anything to him. And he just dragged her away and then he...

Angry, frustrated, and confused, she cried out, "Why? WHY?"

He was scared of her. She could see it. She felt encouraged as she saw the monster actually shake in fear of her. Good. He did something so horrible to her that it was only fair that he was frightened now. He made her a ghost, so he should be the one to be scared.

"You. shall. PAY!" she yelled at him right before she threw herself at him.

"Time Out"

With those two words that seemed to echo in the air, everything just froze. Except for Michiko. In this moment, however, she continued forward towards the monster man, but ended up going straight through him. She tried again, waving her arms through the still figure, but she continued to pass straight through him. Like a ghost.

It was so frustrating. She'd almost had him! Why? Why couldn't she hurt him? Why couldn't she make him pay for ruining everything? It wasn't fair.

Shrieking in helpless frustration that she couldn't even figure out how to touch the most horrible person ever, let alone make him pay for destroying everything, she glanced back up towards her frozen surroundings. The plants didn't bend in the wind, the clouds didn't move across the sky, and the bees were suspended perfectly in midair. Nothing moved. Everything was completely still and silent. And she had no idea why.

Looking around for the cause of this anomaly, her search only ended when she heard a throat clear from above her. And there she saw the strangest being she had ever met. From first look, Michiko immediately knew it was a ghost. he had blue skin like she did and his eyes were bright red with a scar across one of them. He wore a purple cloak, carried a strange staff-type object, and his body ended in a ghostly tail instead of feet. But the strangest thing about him was how he was shifting from the shape of an old man to a younger man to a child before becoming elderly once more. It was like he was continuously aging in reverse and it confounded her.

But mostly she was angry. Since he was the only other thing that was moving, he was probably the reason why everything was still.

"Who are you? Why did you stop me?! I could have gone HOME!" she raged, not caring if the strange ghost would attack her.

Oddly, the strange ghost didn't attack her. Instead, he floated down to her level and placed a gentle hand on the top of her head. Currently looking ancient with his long white beard, he gave her a sad smile and his red eyes looked surprisingly apologetic. This small act of kindness startled her enough as she looked up at the shifting face that most of her fury evaporated. She just stared back at him with tear tracks down her cheeks.

The hand was strangely not as cold as she thought a ghost's hand would be. It shifted to her cheek, still gentle and almost protective with his touch. Michiko, almost without realizing why, found herself calming down and leaning into the contact. The last person who touched her was someone so monstrous and scary. This was so different, like how her mom or dad would try to calm her down when she was upset.

"Oh child," he stated gently, "I had to stop you. You were about to make a great mistake."

His words, though spoken softly, hit her hard. She her anger rising again.

"A mistake?! NO! he... he...," Michiko choked out as she fell to her knees, weeping once more in helpless frustration.

This time, a pair of arms encased her in a gentle embrace. She felt him shift in size, becoming nearly the same height as herself as he took on the form of a child, but she didn't care. This act only made her tears flow out even harder. She clutched his cloak as she closed her eyes, sobbing softly. As she felt him grow in size again into that of an old man, a bright light engulfed them both. Once she opened them again, she saw that they were back in the clock tower.

The change in scenery was enough to remind her of the current situation. Letting the strange ghost go, she sniffled and rubbed her eyes that soon felt puffy. Happily, he didn't seem at all bothered by the fact she'd been crying into his cloak.

"Please understand, child. If you had done what you had planned, you would have created a paradox. And while I have, in another time and place, dealt with the creation of paradoxes that lead to existing entities outside of time, they have to be handled carefully by someone who knows what they are doing. Without my interference, the whole time stream would be ripped apart at the seams," he said gently.

His words were met with a blank stare. The old man ghost sighed.

"The whole world would have collapsed. Meaning even if you have saved yourself in the past, all of you would have disappeared," he explained frankly before muttering to himself under his breath, "She's six. It's hard enough explaining this to fourteen year olds."

Sniffling, Michiko murmured, "So even if I saved myself from the monster man, I wouldn't be able to see mommy or daddy again. Would I?"

"I'm afraid so, little one" Clockwork replied, a regretful look on his face as he floated over to her. "I can see everything that was, that is, that will be, and that could be in another time and place. And there is no outcome that will lead you back to the life you once possessed."

The girl wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. For just a moment, she had hope. She'd thought there was a tiny chance to put everything back the way it used to be. But now that small amount of hope was utterly dashed.

"But there is something that can be done, little one" he told her, startling her into attention. "Something that you can help me with and that might ease your pain."

"What do you mean?" she asked him, confusion evident on her face.

Placing his hand on the top of her head once more he asked her, "Are you willing to trust me?"

There was a rather important question. She just met the strange, backwards-aging ghost. And even if he seemed kind of nice, she didn't know him. So could she trust him? Michiko found herself responding with slow and hesitant nod.

"Very well then. All I ask is that you follow my instructions," he said quietly as he reached into his cloak. "First, you must close your eyes."

She obeyed his orders, shutting her eyes. For a second, she thought she heard the first few notes of a song among the various ticks and clicks of turning gears. But that was quickly forgotten as she suddenly felt a strange sensation come over her.

It was like she was falling or something was being drained away. There was images and voices flashing through her head. Michiko saw faces, a black-haired woman with slightly-slanted eyes and a man with light grey ones. And there was a boy with black hair and blue eyes. Who were they? And there was a library with a playground. Did she know that place? And a blond man with murky green eyes that she didn't like? Why didn't she like him? Who didn't she like? What? What did she just see? There were people...? Who...? There were names, she was supposed to know the names of... someone... Herself? Didn't she have a name? And wasn't... What? Who was she? She was... She was...

The odd sensation, at least she thought it was supposed to be odd, abruptly came to a stop and there was a feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from her. Then the slight numbness wore off she felt dazed and confused. Then she heard a voice, one she wasn't sure she recognized since her memory felt... empty.

"Keep this box safe at all times, little one. Never open it until we meet again. And no matter what happens, you must never take that necklace off. Do you understand?" the voice said.

She unconsciously nodded in consent as she felt the item being pressed into her hands. She held it tight, the object square and smooth. Opening her eyes, she saw a red-eyed figure in a purple cloak smile at her. He looked so kind even with his blue skin and the scar across one eye, like something out of a dream. Everything had a dream-like quality at the moment.

Feeling weightless, and with a fuzzy mind to boot, she soon found herself engulfed in a bright light.


It was late in the evening when Danny Fenton, also known to the small number of ghosts he'd dealt with so far as Danny Phantom, returned home from ghost fighting. The black-haired, blue-eyed teen was the last person at Casper High who looked like they'd have a secret identity. He was kind of on the scrawny side, especially compared to the likes of Dash. Not to mention he was kind of far down on the popularity charts, though not at the very bottom thanks to the existence of his techno-geek best male friend. But thanks to poking around his ghost-hunting parent's lab and sticking his nose in their nonfunctional Ghost Portal at the suggestion of his best female friend, he somehow ended up half-ghost. And he managed to fix his parents' invention at the same time. So now he got to spend his nights (and some of his days) going out to deal with the other ghosts now wandering around Amity Park and stuffing them into a technologically-advanced thermos while avoiding letting his parents know about his most recent developments.

And for once he actually reached home and was able to get some sleep at a decent hour. There had been no chaos, no screaming in terror, and no ghosts haunting any of areas he'd flown by that evening. His Ghost Sense, which was like a chill up the spine cold enough to leave his breath visible and a fairly useful detection system, didn't go off a single time. Apparently all the things that went bump in the night decided to give him the evening off. And for that tiny blessing, he was thankful. Mr. Lancer was probably getting tired of him using the class for naptime. So Danny flopped on the bed, his face buried in his pillow and letting his body relax into slumber.

But that happy moment was short lived. Just as he was finally about to enter dream land, his Ghost Sense went off and he groaned in aggravation.

"I finally get the chance to have some actual sleep, but nooo... some stupid ghost decides to make some trouble. Ugh, don't they need rest?" he grumbled, pushing himself reluctantly up from his bed.

While initally a difficult trick to learn and he was still in the process of mastering his other abilities, shifting into his ghost form was now relatively easy. Rings of energy swooped over his body, shifting his hair to white and his eyes to a glowing green shade. He even managed to get a costume change in the arrangement, his body now covered in a black jumpsuit. But the changes were certainly more than cosmetic. While people were made of DNA, ghosts were constructed from ectoplasm. And thanks to a certain accident, Danny was too. Or at least, he was partially.

Once more prepared for whatever ghost was dumb enough to go wandering around the residence of a couple of ghost-hunting scientists (regardless of their actual skills), Danny set off to find the source. Once he phased down to the ground floor and took a quick look around, he realized it was probably coming from his parents' lab. After all, they kept a giant portal to another dimension filled with ghosts. If one showed up abruptly in their house, it likely came in through there. Thankfully, his parents and Jazz were already asleep. So maybe he could handle things quickly and quietly before going back to sleep. He really didn't want to deal with any trouble that evening.

So headed down there as quickly as he could. But nothing could have ever prepared him for he saw.

"What the?!"

To be continued...