When Danny released the wail on Dan, he felt…incredible. Yes, it was draining and he felt his ghost half beginning to retreat into his human half, but the amount of power radiating from him was intoxicating, he felt like Superman.

(it was intoxicating and oh-so-dangerous, but he couldn't help but revel in the feeling)

At the same time, he felt as if a sort of vacuum had opened up inside of him, a sense incompleteness that slowly began to spread. Clockwork had saved his family and saved him from his future, but even that wonderful relief was somewhat downplayed by the feeling that was slowly overtaking him.

He needed something, needed to do something. The feeling had diminished somewhat when he fought Vlad in space, but had soon returned with a vengeance. When his ice powers began to emerge later on, he noticed that the pain was vaguely similar and made him believe that it was only another ability that had yet to properly emerge.

He spent months training with Sam and Tucker, using his abilities in new and ingenious ways while he tried to discover what was being kept just out of his reach.

Everyone was surprised and happy by his sudden enthusiasm.

Well, everyone but Vlad. Danny's brute strength was unwittingly being refined in his search, and the amount of slip-ups he made in battle began to steadily diminish, which displeased the older ghost immensely as the gap between them began to close.

But no matter what element Danny tried to use, or how hard he searched within himself and tap the growing hole in his psych, the longing remained. He pulled and tugged and tore at the hole, trying to pull it into the real world where it could manifest and finally stop driving him to insanity, but nothing helped.

(it was an itch that he couldn't scratch, a strange ache that was slowly driving him mad)

Not all of it was bad, though. The amount of time it took for him to capture the invading ghosts shrunk, and his schoolwork improved, if minimally. He had more time for his friends and family, with less injuries and time spent fighting the amount of lies he'd originally been forced to tell shrunk too. Everything seemed to be going well in Danny's life.

And then Vlad struck again.

His new ghost hunting team, the "Masters' Blasters" trampled not only his reputation, but his vigor. His need to protect people remained, but the will to do it through ghost hunting began to spiral down into nothingness. When he stepped into the ghost portal again, he felt it was the best option for him. The burden of protecting Amity Park was on other shoulders, he could finally relax. But to his amazement, the loss of his ghost powers wasn't the only effect, the gaping inner hole he had seemed to almost disappear. He could finally relax.

It wasn't completely gone

(he feared at times that it had been there for so long that it might never disappear)

but it had been put on the backburner and could finally be ignored. He could hang out with his friends and not be constantly distracted by the incessant nagging in his mind, the promise of unfulfilled potential. He could focus on school, on his family, and for once actually sleep undisturbed. It was…amazing.

But of course, it couldn't last.

The announcement of the incoming asteroid, nicknamed the "Disasteroid" by the press, made Danny realize that he couldn't just stand back and relax with his friends and family anymore, because if he didn't do something now, there wouldn't be anyone left to relax and have fun with, no matter what the cost.

(and Danny had always been known to put the wellbeing of those he loved before his own)

Vlad's shocking revelation and consequent plan to turn the asteroid intangible was radical and highly unlikely to succeed, but the world needed something to believe in, and for the time being it was Vlad.

(it was incredible how things could change so unexpectedly when faced with death)

Danny knew the dangers and the responsibilities that awaited him when he stepped into the portal for the third and final time; the pain that would soon be coursing through his body and the loss of freedom in his life, but he did it anyways. The world needed Danny Phantom again.


(or rather falling)

out of the portal, was almost impossible through his screaming nerves, but he managed; and after looking at the smoking glove clad hand he held in front of his face and feeling the familiar yearning begin, he smiled tiredly and lost consciousness.

Sneaking onto the shuttle that was taking Vlad and his father to the asteroid was difficult, but he managed, thanking God that Vlad didn't have a ghost sense. The only real problem he had the whole flight up was his chest. A painful aching had begun where his heart was in human form, and as he rubbed it and sucked in an unnecessary breath, he wondered if the constant electrocutions he'd faced were finally catching up with him.

Breaking through the atmosphere, he gasped. The feeling had flared, sending waves of strange not-quite-pain through his entire being before greatly subsiding, leaving him to wonder if it was a warning not to continue, or a sign to finish what he'd started.

(not that he would, or could, if it meant the former)

As the spacecraft neared the object of impending doom, the three passengers tensed. It was so much larger than expected, a nightmare that was in reality worse than they had all imagined.

Vlad's effort, and subsequent failure, caused a spike of that indescribable not-quite-pain to burst from Danny's chest, and the suddenness of it made him tremble and lose his mental grip on invisibility as he nearly fell to his knees. Jack turned around at the noise, guns blazing, to find the ghost boy panting on the ground and clutching at his chest, looking up with fear-filled eyes. The man's gaze softened minimally. In this time of unity in the face of destruction, even grudges as old as the one held against this entity could be forgiven, albeit temporarily.

He lowered his gun.

"Inviso-bill, wh-" He was cut off by Danny, a slightly pained smile appearing on the boy's face,

"It's Phantom, sir. If we're gonna go out, it'd at least be nice for someone to know my real name." An amused half-smile appeared on Jack's face at the request,

"Okay then…Phantom."

Vlad's voice came in through the speakers then, pained and anxious,

"Jack, you have to help me! It didn't work! You wouldn't turn your back on an old friend would you?" Jack turned back to the viewing screen, his face hard,

"An old friend? No. You? Yes." Sighing tremulously, Jack rubbed a hand down his face, "But this isn't the time for grudges and revenge. In the long run they won't matter if we're all dead."

Before Jack could push the button that would send them back to earth, Danny grabbed his hand.

"Let me try."

(after all, he had always been one for incredible odds)

Vlad snorted,

"If I couldn't, what makes you so sure you can? It's comprised entirely out of ectoranium, no ghost can touch it, not even half and half creatures such as ourselves." Danny turned to Vlad, a dangerous glint appearing in his eyes at the elder ghost's slip up.

"Shut up. Either close your mouth and get back in here or fly off into the distance, I don't really care." Frowning and silent, Vlad floated into the ship. "Please Jack," Danny said, pleading with the larger man, "Let me just try."

"Why not?" His father sighed, "You're the last hope we have right now, even if it's a dim one."

Danny turned and shot out into space without another word, a strange sense of peace overcoming him as he floated in front of the asteroid. He could do this.

(he had to believe it, they all did)

Arms spread and head tilted back, he let the silence flow through him and wrap around the desire that festered inside his mind. Here, in his element, he realized he could finally fill the tear in his soul.

Rather than try to pull out the power that was residing in him, he put his mental hands together and gently pushed.

(for greatness is not a thing to be forced, even for a boy such as himself)

The panicked urgency of his earlier attempts was gone, he let the desire flow and pool within him and finally broke through the invisible barrier keeping him detached from the abundance of energy suddenly at his fingertips.

In a bright rush of light, everything changed.

He felt the immensity of space, knew the exact number of stars, planets, and distant galaxies. It flowed through his being and for a moment he lost himself in the utter bliss of finally discovering his obsession. A sudden understanding of Clockwork spread through his mind, contentment at the knowledge that there was a kindred spirit.

He dwelt within the cosmos just as the cosmos dwelt in him.

The universe was not his, for such a thing could never truly be owned, but it resided with him, a metaphysical entity teaching him and letting its powers be funneled through his vessel.

(he was a hose, a fountain, a spring; channeling far too much to ever be contained)

Almost lazily, he brought the asteroid before him to a halt, its momentum suddenly gone.

After all, in the vastness of space, what was a single chunk of rock to him?

Sending it off in another direction with the merest shard of a thought, he turned to the spaceship floating behind him. The men within were staring at him with gaping mouths, unable to believe the sight that lay before them.

Seeing his reflection in the shining surface of the ship, Danny could understand why.

He didn't look like himself anymore. His black jumpsuit, once a shiny latex, reflected the far reaches of space, paradoxically dark and colorful with multitudes of tiny stars and galaxies spread throughout. His white gloves, belt, and boots were bright with a white, almost divine light. And his eyes, once the vibrant green of ectoplasm, now matched his cosmic suit, having lost their whites and pupils.

They were…otherworldly.

(it was fitting, for the universe, contained in his head, shone out through them)

He smiled, serene for the first time in months since the emptiness inside him had finally filled. After a year and a half of tension, anxiety, lost sleep, and distraction, he finally felt…complete.

Floating back up to the viewing panel, Danny watched as Vlad and his father continued to stare, though their mouths had finally closed.

Vlad finally choked out what the two had been thinking.

"H-how? What…what happened to you?"

"I finally understand." Danny's voice seemed to stretch out into the distance, overlapping upon itself hauntingly as it left his mouth. "Your world is safe, it's time for you to return to Earth." Jack looked at him, eyes full of questions,

"Phantom, it's your world too." Danny's demeanor changed, a kind of sorrowfulness overtaking the former tranquility.

"It isn't. Not anymore. This is my home now, where I belong." A wistful smile crossed his face, "But I need you to do something for me before I let you go." Jack nodded, there was hardly anything he wouldn't do for the ghost at the moment, "Tell Sam…tell Sam I loved her. I always loved her. And Dad," Jack started, his eyes growing as wide as saucers as he finally made the connection, "Tell Mom and Jazz and Tucker that I'll miss them. I couldn't have asked for better people in my life."

And with that, Danny waved his hand and the oddly shaped spacecraft turned around, heading back to where it came from without any visible means of transportation.

Danny watched it go for a moment before turning to the immense space behind him and vanishing with a small burst of warm light, leaving a planet full of heartache and joy in his wake.

(it was pain, and pleasure, and beauty, and he wouldn't have it any other way)

Good? Bad? I'd love to know! Also, I'd absolutely love any feedback on the way that I rewrote this (I was aiming for a certain emotion but am not sure if it translated very well with the style I was using). Anyways, a happy late New Year to you all! Have fun and keep reading!