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Death and Taxes

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2:23pm, and Danny was in hell. An unseasonable heatwave was rolling through the town, and contrary to his hopes, his ice powers only made him feel the heat all the more. Add to that an afternoon English lesson with a sub who had a voice even more monotonous than Mr Lancer’s, and he was fighting tooth and nail to stay even slightly conscious. That wasn’t to say that the rest of the class wasn’t - the last time he’d surveyed the room, he’d noted at least three people dozing happily, and as such he felt very impressed with himself for being so alert in comparison.

Suddenly there was a chill on the back of his head, and he felt something heavy around his neck. Danny blinked sluggishly, and yelped when he finally noticed the massive eyeball floating in front of him; so surprised was he that he toppled backwards, and was saved from a nasty bruise only by a purple-robed ghost’s perfect reflexes.

Now the correct way up and mostly awake, he asked the intruders the only pertinent question he could think of: “What did I do now?”

“Nothing,” replied a voice from beside him. “Not recently, at any rate.”

The Observant frowned loudly from across the desk. Apparently they disapproved of any words that came out of Clockwork’s mouth, not just when he refused to kill a fourteen-year-old boy. Who knew. “We are here to inform you that you will be required in Clockwork’s Tower two days hence, at 1pm sharp.”

“But that’s Thursday, and I have school,” Danny protested. He wasn’t sure what he was protesting, but as it was an Observant making the request, there was probably good reason to. That, and he’d take long Shakespeare monologues over long rules and regulations monologues any day of the week.

The eyeball ghost frowned louder. “This matter is rather more important than school,” it said, condescension dripping off every syllable like tar.

“Well, you haven’t told me what it is yet, so how am I to judge?” demanded the halfa, crossing his arms like the petulant teenager he was.

“Your coronation, Daniel,” said Clockwork, and Danny knew the ghost well enough to hear the immense amusement in his tone.

The halfa scowled. “My coronation.”

“Yes,” repeated the Master of Time, a grin tugging at his lips, “your coronation. My liege.”

“Why.”

“You defeated Pariah Dark, the previous occupant of the throne to the Ghost Zone, in single combat. Thus the title of Ghost King is passed to you,” said the Observant stiltedly.

“But that was like, ages ago. A year and- and something.”

“Exactly one year, eight months and twelve days,” supplied Clockwork helpfully.

“Yeah, that. Ages ago. I mean, I would’ve understood if today was my birthday - like, coming of age and all that. Wait, is it my birthday?” asked Danny, fearing for his sanity. “Clockwork, please tell me it’s not my birthday already. I’m not ready to be seventeen yet.”

“It’s not your birthday.”

“Thank god. In which case, why are you telling me this now?”

“Paperwork.”

“...Paperwork?”

“Paperwork,” Clockwork confirmed sadly. “You'd think you could escape it by dying, but no, there it is, in the afterlife as well. You might think that you hate paperwork now, but you don’t, Daniel. Not until you’ve been doing it for more than five thousand years.”

Danny shuddered. Five thousand years of paperwork. It was a testament to Clockwork’s character that he hadn’t snapped. But, then again, he’d had to have gotten that scar somehow…

“So everything is in order, then,” snapped the Observant suddenly, “and we will be seeing you Thursday at one o’clock. Sharp.

“Wait, wait, wait!” cried the halfa. “I never agreed to this!”

“There is nothing to agree upon. You do not have a choice in this matter,” hissed the eyeball. “Sir.

“Clockwork, tell him he’s wrong.”

“I’m female!”

“Okay, Clockwork, tell her she’s wrong.”

“She’s not wrong, Daniel.”

“There, see!” Danny stuck his tongue out at the Observant, but quickly retracted it when his friend’s words finally sunk in. “Wait, what?”

“Look, Daniel, I didn’t suffer through a year and eight months of otherwise unnecessary paperwork for nothing. You’re the Ghost King now. No backsies.

“Fuck.”