Force of Nature

God interrupts lunch.

This is fanfiction. Probably helps to be at least passingly familiar with Danny Phantom before reading, but hey, I'm not the boss of you.

Length: 2,235 words

Force of Nature
Written by Sudo (Pseudinymous)

"So, what is it like?" Clockwork asked, leaning in. He had an almost conspiratorial look to his face, and a dangerously inquisitive smile. "Having too much power."

The Ghostwriter looked up from an empty glass. It had been given to him by the bartender, though of course there'd never been anything in it to start with — ghosts by nature were incapable of consuming food or drink. The ancient time ghost had apparently seen fit to join him at his table several minutes ago without a word, instead settling down to watch the poor man write. Quite naturally of course, the Ghostwriter had became a little too paranoid to do so after the Guardian of Time himself had just sat down right there in front of him, though the writer had continued to stare at his poor damaged notebook full of silly, deranged thoughts.

"Why are you here?" the Ghostwriter asked, voice so low, so dark, that it was almost under his breath. He flipped the book shut. "They say you never show up without reason."

Clockwork's smile transformed from inquisitive to soft. There was a sparkle in those sclera-less red eyes, and — the writer could swear — a glow to that hideous scar all of its own. It was the sort of look that struck fear into your heart but was not itself inherently dangerous, making the situation all the stranger.

"Everyone has reason in the end. Even if they do not realise it."

The writer looked away, eyes travelling down from Clockwork's face and trailing onto his tail, which rest just off the side of his seat and occasionally twitched at the end. Normally the writer's mind had far, far too much to say, but up against this entity he felt small. So very small.

"… When you say 'too much power'…" the Ghostwriter began, cautiously. "You mean my keyboard."

Clockwork's eyebrow arched upwards, as if he were actually genuinely surprised about something. "You know as well as I do that the keyboard you possess is as much a part of you as your arms and legs. A physical manifestation of the power within your core, perhaps."

The wooden table seemed nice right now. The writer stared at it intensely.

"You can't ignore me forever," Clockwork added, face falling for just a moment before that grin was immediately replaced, his eyes sparkling in bloody red, his voice slowing to a drawl. "Your existence may be infinite but I will long outlast you."

"One infinity can be greater than another infinity…" the Ghostwriter muttered back, not so much in agreement but from memory of some sort of mathematical set theory. Finally, his mind seemed to catch up properly to the situation at hand, and he started with a stammer: "A-are you here to do something about me? I didn't ask for this!" he pleaded. "I didn't ask to be so powerful! I'm not even sure how it happened."

Clockwork reached over the table. The writer leaned back, but there was only so far back one could lean before the chair would stop them from going further, and soon enough of the tip of the old time ghost's index finger was resting gently but firmly upon the Ghostwriter's forehead. "I'm not here to do anything about you, no."

"… Then what…?" the ghost asked, his voice nearly failing him. Clockwork leaned in a little further, the temperature of the room seeming to change. Of course, ghosts couldn't really feel temperature — not traditionally, anyway — so perhaps it was all in the Ghostwriter's head. Finally, Clockwork removed himself from a rather large bubble of personal space and sat back, apparently satisfied with himself.

"I thought I should pay a visit to one of the most powerful ghosts of this generation. See how he's doing."

"He's doing fine," the Ghostwriter shot back, finding it difficult not to be worried and irritable given his company. "I don't know why you'd call me the most powerful. I'm crippled. If I don't have that keyboard with me, I can't even use my power properly."

"Ah yes, but with it," Clockwork continued, trailing off just a little before bringing his voice back to its normal tone. "Altering the very fabric of reality isn't something too many could claim to do. The sorts of actions you can take are more akin to some sort of god… not so much a ghost."

There was quite a lot of staring. The Ghostwriter had almost become used to such stare downs from disagreements with his brother, but there was something quite different about it when the Guardian of Time was staring back at you instead. Those wise, bright red eyes could tear through your own as if they were made of paper, and the writer found himself quickly overpowered — if to be 'overpowered' truly was the best word here. His eyes dropped to the table, his head slowly arching over it as he placed most of his weight on his elbows.

"You're closer to a god than I am," he muttered. "Considering—"

"I am but a spirit born of concept," Clockwork cut in, gentle smile returning. "Regardless of the manner of our conceptions, our motivations for living as we do, we function in a surprisingly similar way… don't you think? I use a perspective from outside of time to push and prod the time stream into something a little more… palatable. Something that does not end in complete catastrophe. Perhaps you could serve a similar function — yet there is no need, as I simultaneously have, am, and will always be involved in some way in averting the very worst of disasters. Trace the energy back, however, and you seem to be at the epicentre of some of the smaller miracles. You have been pushing and prodding reality from a perspective within your own time stream — simply to reorganise the universe, apparently, and create peace from the chaos and entropy you see. It doesn't even seem to be an inborn obsession of yours, it is simply something you have been doing… on the side."

Clockwork lowered his gaze while still — somehow — managing to lock the Ghostwriter's eyes.

"Do not think I haven't been watching."

"You always watch, I know," he replied, uncomfortably. "Well, what would you have done? All of those people struggling and suffering for no good reason? It's not like I just fix things for them, I just try to… make it so that the world isn't quite so awful."

Clockwork left them in well-placed silence. The Ghostwriter could almost feel himself twitching where he sat.

"What else am I supposed to do with a power like this?" the writer suddenly exploded. "Living in fiction is fine, but it doesn't nullify the fact that there's a real world outside the ones I create in my library, and it's a mess! It's chaos! It's horrible! Maybe there is no meaning to anything in this world, this universe, this multiverse, maybe there's no real reason I even have this much power! But I do, so I might as well— …"

He trailed off. Clockwork was listening patiently in that oddly psychiatric way that made even the oldest and wisest of grandmothers uncomfortable. It disturbed him mostly because he was sure there must be some sort of ulterior motive to all of this. Furthermore, the rest of the bar was strangely unaware of the presence of the Guardian of Time, and went about doing whatever it was that ghosts did quite in spite of him. One ghost, the air of unawareness surrounding her entire being, was seen 'drinking' from an empty glass.

Clockwork drummed the fingers of his gloved right hand pensively upon the table. The light caught the glass of his watches and reflected directly into the Ghostwriter's eyes, and he squinted back at them. It was almost as if some previously unknown sense of his could feel the impression of time passing, just by having them in sight.

"The funny thing about my position in the universe," Clockwork said, slowly, "Is that you don't get to hear what people are really thinking."

So the time ghost was… getting to know him? Was that it? The Ghostwriter's eyebrows knitted themselves together into some strange configuration resembling a knot, before unstitching themselves as he tried to relax.

"Well… considering the amount I write, there's probably very little you couldn't gleam from me by peering through your mirrors. You might not hear my thoughts, but I know you can see my words."

Oh. He was grinning again. "Really?" he asked. "Is that what you believe?"

"Well, the lore—"

"As if the lore is always correct," Clockwork laughed, flicking one hand to the side. "As if. I thought you would know better."

"Well," the Ghostwriter stammered. "If I'm being honest with you I don't really know much more than what's outside my books! And it's not as if too many have ever had the… privilege… of meeting you."

He laughed again. This time it was genuine. "I would say most don't regard meeting me a privilege. Most meet me in times of terror and dread."

"Then it's probably beginning to make sense to you why I find your presence so concerning," the writer muttered back, even as his eyes settled into tired sockets. "Seeing you even in the same premises is disturbing enough, but then to have you sit down in front of me, and look at me like that? I thought you were about to tell me that I needed to be subdued. Especially with stupid questions like 'What's it like to have too much power?'. Scare a man half to death saying things like that."

"You're a ghost," Clockwork calmly reminded him, smile not even budging. By this point the Ghostwriter assumed it was fixed in place. There was a taunting quality to it, although whether or not that was intentional remained to be seen. The Ghostwriter moved about uncomfortably where he sat, trying to find some sort of position that worked for him. Nothing did.

Clockwork drummed his fingers on the table in the silence that followed. "This bar is an interesting creation," he noted. The Ghostwriter's eyes flicked over the occupants, the roof, and the floorboards, in quick succession. "Peculiar but homely wooden architecture. Has a warm feel to it even though we're sitting in the middle of the Ghost Zone, don't you think?"

"I… it's why I came here," the writer said slowly, trying to keep up with the change in topic and to not at all show deep suspicion. Indeed, the architecture was a bit odd, but he liked it. A lot, actually — little elaborate geometric shapes had apparently been hand-carved into the wood, and aside from the occupants looking a little worse for wear, there was a charm to it. Normally he could sit and write here quite happily, for those times when he simply needed to go into the world outside his library.

"An unusually warm feel," Clockwork continued, as if he hadn't even heard what the Ghostwriter had said. This time he was being very, very serious. The Ghostwriter involuntarily flattened himself against backrest of his wooden seat.

"What are you implying?"

Oh that grin, that grin was destroying him, why did Clockwork have to keep up the incessant grin? "Haven't you noticed, yet?" Clockwork asked. "It might be filled with ghosts, but in this bar this table is a table, and that glass is a glass. Real glass."

"Real—" said the writer, picking up his own glass, but he cut himself off when it suddenly came to him — the glass did not glow. In fact none of this establishment did, aside from the ghosts. He couldn't believe he'd completely missed it — how was he supposed to miss something as obvious as this? This glass was a glass because it was made out of real glass. Ectoplasmic energy was void for this place and everything in it. The bar wasn't made of ectoplasm, and yet here it floated in the Ghost Zone anyway, in spite of all the odds.

It felt warm because it was warm. The Ghostwriter leaned in.

"Why is this place here?" he whispered quickly. "How hasn't anyone noticed?"

Clockwork clasped his hands and rested his chin against them, bouncing it lightly back and forth, back and forth.

"Well," he said, with a draw of breath, "I suppose you needed somewhere to go."

"W-wait—" the Ghostwriter stammered, but then the old Time Ghost was gone.

His eyes raced over the wooden support beams again. That pattern, that geometric pattern… he knew he liked it, but suddenly it was becoming quite clear as to why. It was a pattern he'd scrawled in the margin of some notebook or another some years ago. The ghost over the counter serving drinks looked like someone he'd seen in a dream he had forgotten. One that was only now briefly flashing through his mind, several months later.

The writer closed his notebook. The world around him, with which he was so worryingly familiar, seemed so unreal now. He stood up, staring around. This was real, but this was unreal. And it came to him all at once that he had caused this — he had unintentionally created this place for his own purposes, without being aware of it. No writing had been involved, just fragmented parts of his own imagination.

He drifted home soon after, trying his best to stop his mind from racing.

After all, he hadn't any idea what it might cause next.

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