Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom.
This is a kiriban gift-fic for Sesshyluver, who wrote the 200th review of The Ultimate Hero, the Danny Phantom fic I am co-writing with moonymonster. The fic is up under her account. Sesshyluver requested Clockwork's thoughts about The Ultimate Enemy.
He'd done it because he had done it. In this timeline, at least. There were an infinite number of timelines, something that the humans of Danny's time were figuring out, many of them identical but for a single electron.
Identical enough humans switched between them might never realize it: Danny's family had first come to his attention when his father had put them into an alternate dimension. If it hadn't been for their technology, they would never have known and never figured out that they needed to go back.
As it was, it took two weeks as humans counted time, and they returned home to find that everything they had done in the other dimension had been done by their equivalents in this one.
If they hadn't both switched on the machine at the same time, they might never have gotten home.
Timelines, timelines were infinite.
Choices, however, were finite. People were formed by their experiences in time, and would only do what was in their natures.
And it was Danny's nature to do the right thing.
His friend had challenged him to show them one evil thing Danny had done. But was considering cheating on the CAT really evil? When he had done it so his family would be proud of his score, so he could get a good job in Amity Park so he could keep hunting ghosts?
The Observants hadn't seen that. The Observants weren't really that observant.
He'd seen it.
He'd seen it millennia ago, in elapsed time for him, when he'd been looking at the future to see what fun things he was going to get to do.
He'd seen exactly how to push Daniel's buttons so he would make the right decision, learn the right lesson. The ends didn't justify the means.
He didn't want a future colleague to get bad habits. One Pariah Dark was enough, and Vlad Masters was going to be enough trouble to make learn his manners as it was. It was fine for lesser ghosts to only care about getting what they wanted, but for the truly powerful it was dangerous.
In the beginning Daniel had been thinking like a ghost. It was necessary to show him all the trouble that would cause. He needed to retain his humanity.
He hadn't finished learning. That was why Clockwork had preserved his future self. But that was a lesson for another day.
Allowing Daniel to interfere with time would also help him learn the consequences with his actions. Just yesterday, or a month from now, he had altered the timestream. The boy was quick, to spot the Cola. Exactly as Clockwork foresaw. Or remembered.
Danny had a good heart and truly loved his family and friends. Clockwork remembered when he had felt the same. Danny would be devastated by their deaths. Clockwork saving them had made Daniel forgive him for the bell.
He really shouldn't have, but it had been too much fun. That was why the Observants couldn't stand him. The fate of the universe? It was a laughing matter. It had to be.
He looked forward to and looked back on Danny coming again, to thank him, coming to scream at him, knowing there was no way his evil future self could have escaped without Clockwork intending him too.
He didn't look forward to that rift in their friendship.
He didn't look forward to how subdued Danny would be the first few centuries after everyone he loved died, peacefully (it would take some time travel to ensure it, but their final lives would be long and happy) instead of joining him as ghosts. How he would bury himself in fighting ghosts and humans using ghost powers, playing superhero to guard a world that didn't understand the fire it was playing with.
How eventually he would recognize his friends and family, reborn, and they would not know him.
But 'now' he was explaining to Danny, and seeing the honest thankfulness as Danny realized, "You knew all of this was going to happen. All of it!" And advising him to take a second chance. Watching him take it, knowing he had done his job well.
Relishing taunting the Observants.
In the end, Danny's choice was his own. The same one he had made before, and would again. The same one he would make every day of his life and after his death. The choice to do the right thing.
He was present at the birth of a legend. A legend he wouldn't pay much attention to, ancient history, when he was human, even when ghostly technology was fused into him to extend his life, as was done for everyone that could afford it. A legend he wouldn't think of when he would die, and wish for more time, because the world was an amazing place and even though he'd lived a long life there was still so much more. He'd wanted to know everything.
He did know everything.
And what he was doing/had done/would have done/will do would ensure his own future (or past) came about.
He would exist because of his own actions. Because of a boy he will someday help.
He hadn't wanted ultimate power. That was why, he knew (as he knew everything) that he was willing to have it.
It had and would all come down to, in the end, choices and one boy's human heart. A hero's heart, that time itself would bend for. A destiny.
To kill time, he averted a disaster before the Observants could alert him of it (the three that appeared were very disgruntled to be informed of this).
Waiting for a boy who was already showing that he would become a legend come to ask nag him into telling him about Vlad's latest scheme. He already knew the teasing hints he would give him, hints he would only piece together after the fact.
He smiled at the memory.
"Care to let me in on the joke?"
"You'll realize in due time."