Danny Phantom is owned by Butch Hartman, Nickelodeon, and, unfortunately, Viacom

The clocks were ticking.

All around him, different times clicked gently, hands moving across broad faces of clocks surrounding him. Most of them read different times, one for every time zone. Some of them were old, beautiful grandfather clocks with all the inner contraptions, and some were sleek, fluorescent digital clocks, with every other type in between. Some moved a bit faster than others, some slower. A few of them were spinning completely out of control.

Clockwork sighed. He felt anxious, as if waiting for something. He couldn't help but feel that something was about to happen. Something big. Something monumental. Something that would change the course of history itself.

He switched his staff from one hand to the other, drumming his fingers in his now younger form. Switching between ages, since he was an ageless being, he waited impatiently. It wasn't the waiting that bothered him so much as he wasn't sure just what he was waiting for.

And then, it happened.

His glowing ring that he used to see the world around him began to resonate. He turned to it, an image appearing on the screen. He waited—

"What's this?"

The ghost floated close to the screen, scrunching his eyebrows in confusion. He was seeing three young humans on the screen. Judging by the way they looked, he knew they'd only been alive for a little over a decade. They were too young and smooth and vulnerable to be much older.

One of the humans, a skinny, dark haired boy, was standing at the head of what looked like a gate. He was standing half inside, half out, his hands clutching something that was white, black and long.

Clockwork listened to his words.

"Well, I have always wanted to go inside of this thing," he said breathlessly, touching the sides of the gate. "I mean, I can't even imagine all the awesome, super-cool things that exist on the other side of this portal."

"Portal?" Clockwork voiced, peering at the gate. It didn't appear to be a portal, but then again, who could ever tell with humans?

"C'mon, Danny, just take a quick look," one of the other humans said. A young girl. The first human (Danny, was that his name?) glanced back into the portal.

"I… don't know," he said. "I mean… why me?"

"Your parents built it," the third human replied, taking his backpack off and walking up to it. "C'mon, man, just look at it." Danny didn't reply. He just looked at the portal, and began putting the mysterious white-and-black thing on. (It appeared to be a suit of sorts.)

"I… don't understand," Clockwork said. "What is the significance of this event?" He froze the scene before him, and looked around at all the clocks around him.

"Show me what happens after this," he said. "Show me why this is important." The faces of the many clocks began to glow stark white, and all of them suddenly began playing scenes, like many videos being played at once.

Clockwork couldn't even believe what he was seeing. The boy, the dark-haired boy named Danny, would take on another identity. His hair would turn a brilliant white, his eyes a fluorescent green. He would adorn that suit from that day forward.

He was a ghost.

In all the scenes he could be seen fighting various other ghosts. Ghosts that Clockwork knew himself. He saw the boy going through, ghost after ghost, gaining enemies and allies and powers and strengths. Clockwork saw Daniel Fenton's life go from simple to more complex than he could have ever imagined. He watched as Danny's life became a complex twist of relationships and power struggles.

"He doesn't die, does he?" Clockwork asks. The clocks show him that this sudden ghost appearance isn't death; it's a half-death. Danny will be… half ghost.

Suddenly, a heartbeat began in the forlorn room. Clockwork closed his eyes and listened. It was a normal human heartbeat. It was quicker than normal – but not so fast as someone running. It was a nervous heartbeat, speeding up out of fear and uncertainty.

Clockwork listened, and words float into his mind. Answers come in the mysterious way that they normally do.

"Ohhh," Clockwork said, a realization coming over him. "I understand. If he goes into the portal in the middle of a heartbeat, he comes out with these ghost abilities. So, his heart must be in the middle of a pump. So… show me what happens if he goes in and his heart is between pumps."

One by one, the clocks faces fade to black. The colorful displays they had become darkness, as if someone draped a curtain over all of them. Clockwork's jaw dropped slightly.

That was the sign of death. If the faces were blank, that meant that there was no future to show.

"My, what a hefty chance," Clockwork muttered. "If he's shocked in the middle of a heartbeat, he gains an incredible, fulfilling life as a half-ghost." He waved the clocks away, and they resumed their ticking and time-keeping, as if nothing had happened.

The scene was still paused, and he stared at it, frowning.

"…If he is shocked in between heartbeats, he'll… die. His life will end before it even began." He waved his hand, and the scene continued on. Danny pulled the suit on all the way, and walked cautiously into the portal. The heartbeat was still being heard throughout Clockwork's chamber.

"I wonder what will happen?"

He watched as Danny walked up to the wall with the hidden switch. He watched as Danny's hand grazed the switch, and then he pushed without realizing what he did.

Clockwork listened as Danny's heart pumped when he pressed the button.

"I suppose he'll be a—" but he stopped. His heart was in between pumps now. Just a split second later—

The shock came. Danny screamed in pain as thousands of volts of electricity and ecto-energy was blasted into him at once. Clockwork blinked in surprise.

"Hmm," he said, realizing that the beating didn't resume. The shock ended, and Danny was suspended momentarily, eyes wide open, stock still.

Suddenly, he was ejected from the portal, flying into his other friend, (whom Clockwork found out was named Tucker). Both boys crashed into the far wall, the girl running over in concern.

"Danny! Tucker!" she cried, running over and dropping down to her knees. "Oh my God, are you alright?"

"Yeah… ow," Tucker said, sitting up. Danny was draped over him, unmoving.

"Danny?" Tucker said, and he immediately straightened up. Clockwork watched with faint interest.

Tucker turned Danny over, tilting his head towards them. Danny's eyes were closed, and he was completely unmoving. The girl had her hands over her mouth, her eyes trained on his unmoving form, barely making a sound. Tucker placed a shaking hand on Danny's neck, and pressed gently. He lowered his head to his chest, and listened.

For a moment, all was silent. Even Clockwork – who already knew the truth – felt as if he were holding his breath in tension.

Tucker leaned back, biting his lower lip. He shook his head, gently at first, then, still shaking, he swallowed heavily, trying to fight back tears.

"Sam," he said his voice barely above a whisper. "Call an ambulance."

"No," Sam replied, not listening to his instructions. She shook her head and repeated her mantra. "No, no, no, no no noooo…"

"Sam, please… we can't have his parents finding him like this…"

"No… this is my fault… Oh, my God, I killed him, oh, God, please, Danny…" Sam couldn't contain her tears, and she lowered her face on his chest, shaking and sniffling loudly. Soon her sobs became louder and more apparent, and she allowed her tears to flow freely, coughing and sighing and crying all at once.

Tucker, still biting his lower lip, sat back, his head in his hands. He brought his knees to his chest and buried his face in his arms.

It would be a time before his parents came home and found an ambulance waiting outside of their home. They would rush downstairs, and find Sam and Tucker in hysterics, along with paramedics loading their second born onto a stretcher, covering him with a sheet.

It would be about a week before he was buried, barely fourteen, just starting high school, just starting his life. He would be buried with the majority of his fellow Freshmen around him, everyone staring in disbelief and sadness.

"We're just starting our lives," they would say. "And now one of us is already gone."

No one noticed the completely open and unguarded portal lingering in the Fenton's basement.

Clockwork sighed. So much potential – shattered. After the boy's funeral, the scene finally disappeared, and he was left with a swirling mass of green and blue in his looking-glass, as he called it.

"It would have been amazing," he said to no one. "All it took was a misplaced heartbeat, hmm? How tragic."

Five days later, while scanning the Ghost Zone for any interesting news, he received word of a white-haired, green-eyed, young, slightly confused little powerless ghost who was wandering around the Ghost Zone without a name, a plan, or a reason.

"Interesting," Clockwork breathed, remembering the future he could have has as a half-ghost instead of a full one. "Are you still going to do your duty, young ghost? The portal is still open. Ghosts will still come out of it, just like your future used to hold."

"What will you do, little Danny Phantom?"

This is what I do instead of SAT prep homework. I got this idea a couple weeks ago, while watching a Discovery channel show about the heart. I always figured that a blast like that would kill him, but if he died, there would be no story.

...Or would there be?