"You know…I think Sam would kill me if she knew how much time I've been spending here." I kicked my feet out over the space below me, watching them swing. There isn't much furniture at Clockwork's so I was sitting on a cog. "Well," I amended, "kill the other half of me."
Clockwork didn't turn from the screen he was watching. I'd stopped trying to see what part of history he was viewing after he decided to watch all of my past one day. That, believe me, is enough to stop your interest- there are some things just creepy or embarrassing or both to watch from an outsider's view. "Your friend is right to worry about you. You spend too much time in a world that you do not feel is your own, ghost child."
"Don't call me that," I muttered. "You sound like Skulker when you call me that." I paused. "And I don't have a world of my own."
"You are looking at things in the wrong light, as always. You say you do not have a world," and Clockwork finally turned to face me, "But perhaps that is only the way you see it now. It is not necessarily true."
I stood up and jumped down to the floor, straightening and brushing myself off. Clockwork's lair is surprisingly dusty. Well, maybe not that surprisingly; he is the Master of Time, but no other ghost seems to have any problem with dust, sans me and possibly Vlad. But then, Vlad and I aren't exactly normal ghosts, and I'm not sure Clockwork is either.
…I'm babbling, aren't I?
"What do you mean?" I asked, a little bit warily, because I've long since learned that when talking to Clockwork sometimes you're better off not knowing his answers to certain questions. For example, knowing that the Master of Time is personally responsible for me is more than a little unsettling.
"You were here last Christmas, weren't you? You attended the ghost's Christmas party?"
I winced. Not even Sam and Tucker knew about that. "I…yeah."
"And you left early?" Clockwork persisted. I followed him as he started down a flight of stairs I'd noticed before but never been down.
"I kinda had to," I pointed out. "My parents might be a little oblivious sometimes, but they'd have noticed if I didn't show up for Christmas dinner."
"Yes," Clockwork agreed absently, "I'm sure they would have. However, in leaving early you missed the gift exchange."
I blinked, startled. "Gift exchange? Ghosts exchange gifts?"
"They have Christmas dinner and a Christmas party," Clockwork pointed out, clearly amused. "Is a gift exchange so unlikely?"
"I…guess not," I said slowly. "But why would any of them give me anything? I'm an enemy, remember?"
Clockwork actually laughed. "True, to most of them, you are an enemy. However, you are a respected enemy- and to a few, you are a friend."
"Clockwork…I hardly think Klemper counts."
"I wasn't speaking of Klemper." We'd reached the bottom of the stairs, and I realized we'd gone down an awfully long way. Clockwork stopped in a front of a huge set of double doors, one black and one white, and gestured for me to open them.
I hesitated for a moment when I saw the knocker- it was my Danny Phantom emblem wrought in silver, and in the Ghost Zone, things marked with your name or personal emblem are very likely to be booby-trapped. However, I kinda doubted Clockwork would be playing a trick on me after the last year of filling in as my ghostly therapist. After Spectra, I wasn't about to trust that position to anyone else.
I reached up and pushed the doors open. They swung inward easily despite their bulk and I stepped inside them and looked around.
That's what it looked like, anyway. I wandered further in. It looked like a one bedroom apartment, fully furnished, and when I opened the fridge in the tiny kitchen I was startled to see there was even food in it. The whole apartment was done in a black, white, and silver.
"A lair," Clockwork corrected from behind me. If I thought he'd sounded amused before he sounded a lot more amused now.
I kept looking around, noticing that I could actually tell where most of the stuff in the apartment-lair- whatever came from. The old TV and small collection of DVDs, for example, had to be from Technus. I was pretty sure the broadsword mounted above the fireplace- and I have no idea why I would need a fireplace in the Ghost Zone- was from Skulker. The guitar was probably from Ember, the dragon-shaped end table from Dora, and the massive teddy bear in the corner had to be from Klemper.
I picked up a couple of the DVDs and laughed. The Amityville Horror and Casper were on top of the stack. "Someone has a sense of humor." A thought struck me and I frowned. "Won't this just be a target for the ghosts?"
Clockwork shook his head. "That is my part of the gift. With your lair's proximity to my castle, no ghost but you will be able to find it. You can, by the way, come here without going through the castle," he added.
"Danny!" I blinked as I suddenly found my arms full of a black and silver blur. Bright green eyes looked back at me brightly.
"Well, almost no ghost but you," Clockwork amended.
"Danny!" my 'cousin' cried again. "There's a bunk bed in the bedroom, it's so cool! Can I come here too sometimes Danny? Can I, can I?"
"Uh, sure," I said, a little bit startled. Disentangling Danni, I turned back to Clockwork. "This is awesome, really, but…why?"
"Because, Danny Phantom," the Ghost of Time replied with a smile, "perhaps the correct way to look at things is not that you have no world…but that you have two. You do not deny your human side the things your ghost side does not need; the reverse should hold true as well."
And then he left me in my new lair with my cousin eagerly pulling me into the bedroom, calling the top bunk as we went.
GuardianSaiyoko: Couldn't resist. And yes, I know it's nowhere near Christmas, and I like Hallowe'en better anyway, but...it was fun.