Story Title: Eternity in a Moment
Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom. Butch Hartman and Nickelodeon do.
A/N: Well, this is my first ever fanfic written, and a Danny Phantom one to boot, so be nice please n_n Anyway, this is my DP Angst Day fanfic, which I started writing only two days ago when I saw the announcement. I do better under deadlines anyway. Since this is my first fic I BEG you, PLEASE tell me if my writing sucks, since I'm really all humble and shy about my writing and don't think it's worth crap, but I want to know what you think. I would appreciate it very much.
I got the idea for the story from Cordria's Angst Day fic "Last Day", from that one sentence where 'Sam completed a movement she begun forever and a moment before.' That one sentence was enough to breed an oversized plot-bunny of the likes I've never seen when it came to writing oneshots. I welcomed it with open arms and thus, my first fic.
UPDATE 03/13/2010: Went over the story again and fixed some grammar mistakes, as well as added a hundred or so unnecessary words to make the atmosphere more tangible.
Eternity in a Moment
The clock on the wall ticked silently, the hands slowly inching ever the closer to the destination many of the students craved for it to achieve. Lancer's droning voice slowly faded into the background as the students eagerly awaited the end of class, every one of them fidgeting almost in tune with the others. Silently they begged for those last few minutes to go by faster, to miraculously be over in an instant. Suffice to say, it was an useless effort.
Danny observed all of this with an air of amused unconcern, totally unperturbed by the dragging time. He'd learned the virtue of patience long ago, and could only be entertained by the hurry of these teenagers nowadays. They acted as if time would go faster just because they desired it so.
He almost snorted at that.
Time had its own pace and you couldn't control the rhythm of it in any way. He should know that.
Five minutes, nine seconds left.
Never stopping from attentively taking notes during Lancer's lesson, which was a miracle in itself, Danny's apathetic eyes absently caught Sam in his peripheral vision again, her worried look present more and more by each day. He couldn't blame her though. He knew his friends had noticed the slight changes in his behavior, the new quirks he seemed to gain only recently.
Frankly, they thought it was because of Him, and, in one way they were right. They thought he was blaming himself for what he'd become, for what he could become. They had also told him so, and tried to reassure him all the time, to tell him he would never become something as vile and as cruel as that.
Danny, he knew that of course; he came to terms with it a long time ago, after all. Yet he let them continue believing that was the source of his change. Well, that way it left them blind and unaware of the fact the problem was another matter altogether.
Four minutes, twenty-two seconds left.
Why hadn't he told them anyway? He always seemed to share everything with them, so why not this too?
Yet the answer was simple; it was because they wouldn't be able to understand it, to understand him. And which they don't understand, they can't help with. Simple as that.
And it wasn't some sort of problem that could be solved if you just came looking for a second opinion on it. Danny was one of the only ones who could give an opinion on it, and the other was nowhere to be found.
He already knew how to solve his dilemma anyway, or at least where to go for advice; he was working on it everyday, but had yet to succeed. He wondered if his solution would work though. Everything else seemed to fail.
Best not to think about it. He'd rather not go down that road of fear again.
Three minutes, forty-nine seconds left.
It wasn't as if the changes were anything drastic. He'd gotten a few looks (alright, more like the whole class gaping at him, teacher demanding a logical explanation included) when he got the best score at the math test two weeks ago, but by now people were slowly getting used to him getting good (excellent) grades, as well as getting used to his apparently much more mature behavior that he'd begun to show.
His parents were proud of him. They said they always knew he had the Fenton genius blood within him. Even his curfew had been elongated, though not as much as he would have liked it to be. At least now he had the sense of time to arrive home before he got punished again.
Two minutes, nineteen seconds left.
It was another matter entirely when it came to Jazz and his friends, though. They knew something was going on with him, but couldn't pinpoint exactly what. His improving grades were a dead giveaway, and while it could easily be explained as guiltiness because of the CATs and him staying awake longer into the night to study, it didn't add up with his more and more frequent carefree apathy to the world and almost gone eye-bags that he'd earned from all that late night ghost-hunting of his.
One minute, two seconds left.
To them, it just didn't add up. Nothing added up when it came to him anymore. Jazz was ready to pull her hair out in frustration, but he simply couldn't bring himself to tell her.
Forty-seven seconds left.
They would only worry too much, or misunderstand the situation entirely, thinking it cool or something. He'd already considered the situation from all sides, curled up into a ball in the dead silence of his room, and it came out as the best solution. He had to do it himself, because only he could do it.
Twenty-six seconds left.
It was funny how the inability to tell not a soul anything at all could bring you to really think about where you stand. A rare smile graced his lips, but it was bitter, lifeless.
Twelve seconds left.
It was a really unique situation he'd found himself in, though. But when was anything normal at all when it came to him?
He closed his eyes for a moment, checking the mental clock he was glad he'd developed out of necessity some time ago. Not long till the bell rung. Soon he'll have to go out there once more, to meet his concerned friends and ease their worries by donning the mask of a careless, but slightly more mature teenager again.
Four seconds left-
A single faint heartbeat resounded through the room, the sound unheard to anyone but him. Danny opened his eyes, keeping his gaze firmly on the desk, but with newborn interest burning in the ocean blue pools. It never managed to bore him, no matter how many times he'd watched it happen again and again.
Two heartbeats followed the first, but fainter, more distant. As the last died down, so did Lancer's droning voice, as well as the buzzing teenage chatter all around him, it having faded out in an almost sick parody of a slow-going tape recorder.
Mentally preparing for what he'd see, Danny looked around curiously.
He watched silently as the movement of Lancer's hand, which he'd been waving around animatedly before, slowly died down, his eyes still alight with the subject he'd been teaching about. His mouth was half-open, caught in the action of monotone talking. All around him, the students' movements were slowing down, only to be caught in various states of frozen positions, from blowing a bubble gum to someone halfway falling of the desk in sleep. One boy was even caught leaning on a single back leg of a stool, as impossible as it looked.
The teen sighed softly at the display. Standing up from his seat with the grace of an old man, he skillfully maneuvered around the desks and teenagers, careful not to touch anyone on the way, and quietly walked over to stand before the opened window. The sound of his footsteps resounded in the dead quiet of the room, but Danny paid it no mind. He'd gotten used to it. Somewhat.
Humming softly, his foot tapping on the floor to an invisible rhythm, Danny looked out of the window. The sun had a lifeless feel to it, the birds weren't chirping and the soft breeze present not a moment ago wasn't ruffling his hair gently.
Time stood still completely.
It didn't start a long time ago, this... dilemma he'd gotten himself into. At least not by other people's view. A short while after the CATs incident, he began noticing certain things. Sometimes, at the oddest parts of the day, time seemed to be slowing down around him. At first he'd always been alone when it happened, and, since it had lasted only for a short while, his inexperienced and easily distracted teenage mind dismissed it as just the time 'dragging on forever'.
Oh, if he'd only known.
It took one such Time Out, as he'd begun calling it after Clockwork's example, to take place during one of his ghost fights to finally make him realize something was terribly wrong, especially after checking twice for any nonexistent trace of either Clockwork or a time medallion around his neck.
At first, panic had of course struck him, like it would any sane person in his place. He'd spent half an hour simply yelling at either Sam or Tucker to notice him. But Sam had continued gently smiling at the spot in the sky previously being occupied by him, and Tucker's determined eyes had never left the ghost frozen halfway sucked into the Fenton thermos he'd been holding in his hands.
After some time passed (he couldn't tell how long; it was impossible since his wrist-watch had stopped working and his mind had been too occupied panicking) he regained enough of his bearings to think a little more clearly about the situation, and decide seeking Clockwork out would be the best option to go about this. He left Sam and Tucker reluctantly, yet somewhat glad he didn't have to look into their frozen expressions any longer.
That was the first time he'd encountered the dead quiet of the timeless world. It had been frightening for him, to say the least, to fly above Amity Park; no sounds of either traffic or human gibberish resounding from below him, no wind blowing his hair back, with practically no pressure, no friction of the air at all; it made him want to hurry home with extra speed, afraid the silence would consume him if he stayed there long enough. By the time he'd been passing through the portal, he was already lightly humming a random song to alleviate his agitation.
He'd been so hopeful when he entered the Ghost Zone, so full of belief that if he simply found Clockwork, he would get all the answers he needed. However, countless hours later, it became apparent he'd forgotten one small bit about it.
"Where the heck is he?"
He didn't know where Clockwork's lair was. Of course it wouldn't be in the nearby neighborhood in plain sight, else the Time Master would have been subject to many more annoying visits from ghosts trying to get something out of him, but Danny had hoped that, if he looked hard enough, he'd eventually find him. That thought, that hope had been furiously written off later, for obvious reasons.
So set had he been on finding that elusive castle lair that he'd never realized the soft hum of the Ghost Zone filling his ears once again, never saw the green ectoplasm blobs in the air starting to twist around him once more. It wasn't until he'd blasted Skulker for getting in his way that he finally realized time had begun anew.
He'd returned home all hopeful and wanting to tell them all about his situation, but it appeared he had spent more time than expected in the Ghost Zone. A day and a half more, to be exact. Sam had covered for him, but she and Tucker had been furious and worried the whole time.
Danny had wanted to tell them; really, he did. And he would have done so too, had time not stopped again at just that moment.
"Guys? Hey, guys!" He shouted desperately. But they remained frozen on the floor of his room, unmoving, their faces just a tad turned away as they were in the process of scolding him for his recklessness. Danny sat on his bed heavily, the mattress dipping lightly below him, and moved to sit up against the headboard.
What now? What could he do?
Suddenly he felt alone. He felt small and alone, so alone in this big, big world of silence, like a child lost in a big city full of unknown loud noise around him. His eyes pricked and he felt his throat constrict, yet Danny refused to let the tears fall. He wouldn't cry.
If only... If only he could do something! He wanted to scream, to sob in frustration, but reigned himself. But... They were there, before him, forever and a moment away. If he could only make them aware of this... Only have them break from this spell...
And just as the thought formed in his mind, an idea struck him. Hope welled within him as he dashed to his discarded travel bag, the one Future Vlad had given him to carry the Ghost Gauntlets in, and Danny triumphantly pulled out a golden medallion, the dim gold and blue gently reflecting the light of the room. Clockwork's medallion. A time medallion.
With trembling hands he held the small item, as if it would break at any moment if he so much as let it fall. This should be the solution of his problem. Or at least part of it. If anything could help him, it was this medallion.
He slowly walked over to Sam, finding her to be the more level-headed of the two, and put the medallion around her neck, mindful not to ruse her ponytail up. Full of hope, he waited. He waited for her to blink slowly, to look around herself in confusion, and then to realize the seriousness of it all.
He waited. And waited.
And slowly the hope once filling him whole eroded away into nothing.
And the tears barely held back fell from those lost, lost eyes.
In that single moment, caught between now and forever, the black-haired boy curled into a ball on is bed and cried his eyes out in the booming silence of timelessness. That night, that seemed to drag on forever, Danny decided it was his burden to carry. That night he cried himself to sleep, only to be awoken hours later by his friends' concerned questions.
Apparently he suddenly fell asleep the moment they turned their backs on him.
'If only they knew,' Danny thought. But they couldn't.
That had been two weeks ago.
To him that was an eternity. He couldn't even begin to fathom how many times he'd found himself engulfed in that horrifying silence, time and time again, but he knew it was far more than a normal person would've been able to endure sane.
Fortunately though (he still wasn't sure on that) he wasn't just a normal person. Maybe it was because of his status as a ghost-hunters' son being daily exposed to weird situations, or his ability to observe from a ghost's point of view, but, slowly, he learned to cope with the situation and live despite the weirdness of it.
The silence could always be eased with the various sounds he did now and then, and the lack of friction always ignored or dismissed to a distant corner of his mind. You got used to it quickly enough... though, sometimes, he found himself wanting to be engulfed by it, by the silence, to be given absolute peace. It was relieving in a twisted sort of way.
He flinched in pain as the big muscular hand, so much like Plasmius' yet still not, tore the time medallion off his neck, only to hold it in front of him engulfed in ectoplasm, preventing it from sending him back to where he belonged.
With a sinister laugh the item, the powerful Ghost-made item was forcefully turned intangible and shoved into him, just below his heart, and then materialized.
It hurt. It hurt so much he wanted to scream from the pain. He could feel it there, cold and hard and painful. He didn't even try to comprehend what the other was telling him anymore; the only thing that mattered was the pain, the searing pain of the powerful time-altering item inside his body. He fell unconscious soon after that.
When he finally awoke sometime later, the pain hadn't lessened in the least. He tried to talk the other down, to get him to realize he would never become like him, but it was all brushed aside, dismissed without a glance. Dan already had a plan that would secure his existence in his time stream.
He tried to stand straighter, but the ectoplasmic bonds around him suddenly constricted tighter and the pain intensified tenfold. As he was forcefully lifted into the air, the only thing he could do was close his eyes and grit his teeth, but the painful throbbing was only growing stronger.
He vaguely felt himself pass through a portal. In human form. With the time medallion oozing ectoplasm from within him.
But all he could think of was the pain, and the pain engulfed him. Everything went black.
Before, he'd spent much of his time wondering what could've possibly caused it in the first place. At first he'd thought of new ghost powers, but quickly dismissed it. If controlling time was a sort of power you could just suddenly acquire through training, Danny was sure there would be more than just one Time Master in the Ghost Zone.
It had to be recent, most likely from the CATs incident, but for the longest of times he'd kept overseeing it. So when he finally realized what the missing piece that started the domino effect was, he couldn't have helped but laugh at how obvious it had been.
Dim blue, not ectoplasmic charged neon azure. The medallion was empty, useless.
Never mess with mythical Ghost Zone items. Especially not time-altering medallions, for those don't only have high-tech to it, but special ectoplasm powering them up too.
And his jerky future evil-self decided to just shove it inside him, all the way to the center of his ecto-bloodstream. You had to wonder if that guy had indeed been a genius, or just an idiot with issues. Probably inherited that part from Vlad.
So it was the medallion that did the magic. And it was him that sucked it dry due to the portal. And then the special ectoplasm got absorbed, and he couldn't do anything against it anymore. The only thing he could do is to seek out Clockwork and ask for help. If he could find him.
The fact that the Time Master himself hadn't sought out Danny yet meant he either didn't know, or didn't find it important enough to interfere; and since he seriously doubted the later, he would have to go with the first option.
He chuckled quietly; never stopping his foots rhythmic tapping. Even the great Master of Time could have a weakness. He could observe time from all sides in his hidden little castle lair, but time stopped seemed to be another matter entirely, even to Clockwork.
He'd tried to defend himself, to shout out it wasn't him that was at fault for their plight; but it hurt so much, and his protests were ignored.
Another punch in his side had him almost screaming. He blearily opened his eyes to look at the assembly of ghosts. The future, he decided, hadn't done them any well. Except SkulkTech9.9 maybe, but even that fusion was just wrong.
Bound in those tight ecto-ropes, the pain seemed greater than ever. If he could only pull the medallion out, tear it out of himself and get back to where his family needed him! If he could only make them stop!
"No..." he grunted in pain. "Get away..."
It hurt so much he wanted to scream!
And an ear-splitting wail tore from his throat, forming sonic waves on the way and knocking all the ghosts in its path into a blissful state of unconsciousness. Danny continued wailing, feeling the pain lessen with every ounce of energy that was quickly being drained from him.
Finally when he stopped, he found himself half-transformed to his human form. He changed back after regaining his bearings and was relieved enough to find the pain fainter than before. Not gone, but definitely fainter.
Looking around, he began to wonder where exactly he should go from there. The solution struck him suddenly.
Literally struck him.
In the head.
Often he'd found himself wondering what the consequences of his 'new powers' would most likely entail. He had no doubt in his mind the Observants would immediately demand for his execution if word of it ever got out, but that was not what he'd meant.
He wasn't so stupid as to not notice certain things, like the fact he didn't get hungry or thirsty while in Time Out. Sleep was optional; he could catch up on it if he wanted, but Timing Out never seemed to drain his powers or make him tired at all. Since he still got hungry and sleepy while Timed In, he could only hope those quirks wouldn't transfer over time, else he'd end up immortal or something of the sort.
The prospect of it didn't sound all that impossible to him anymore, and he could always go about spending part of his eternal time with Clockwork in his timeless castle lair in case the theory proved itself true, but he would have rather liked to stay by his friends' and family's side for as long as he could, thank you very much.
Tap, tap, tap...
He blinked twice, brought out of his deep musings by the soft tapping of his foot.. Lately, when he got lost in thought, he could stay so for long periods of time without breaks. Useful when passing time in eternal timelessness, but could become an annoying habit in the rushed world of the continued time stream.
He turned around to face the frozen class again, sighing quietly in annoyance. At this moment in time, unfortunately, he couldn't do anything. He was in class, and since he didn't know when time will set in again, he would have to be here the moment the heartbeats thumped in his ears, and only his ears, again.
He would continue his search later then, when time froze at a more convenient place. He had what seemed like eternity anyway. And while indefinitely large, the Ghost Zone wasn't infinite. He'd just have to wait.
As he always had. As he always would.
Shuffling his feet Danny slowly walked back to his seat, ducking his head and avoiding collision with a hovering paper plane on the way. He pulled a thick college book on Astrology out of his school bag and continued to read where he last left off.
What? Well, he had to do something in the last four seconds of class, and he'd read The Raven enough times already to recite it off the top of his head, so Lancer's assignment didn't actually mean much to him.
When you've got eternity in a moment, what would you do? There was only so much a teenager could think of, and he had long ago given it up.
Could you really blame him though? He's got eternity in a moment, after all.
Three seconds left
Two seconds left
One second left
Amidst the loud masses of students rushing for the exit, a quiet black-haired teen slipped a thick book in his bag, a carefree smile skillfully slipping on his face the moment his two best friends came into view.
"Dude, did you understand anything he said at all?" Tucker complained.
"Nope, not a thing." Danny lied smoothly.
"Ready to go?" Sam asked.
Danny smiled at her, taking the question in more way than just one. "Yeah."