Everyone covered their eyes as they watched Danny blast the Ghost Keeper with white light. The sound of the evil spirit yelling painfully only made the shield crack faster.
The Phantom crew watched as the world outside the shield began to change. More and more, the sky and hills around their town began to show, replacing the Ghost Zone.
"Do you think Danny can restore everything before the shield collapses, Jack?" Maddie cried out over the roaring wind.
"Here's hoping, or it's goodbye Amity Park!" Jack replied.
Tucker and Sam did not say a word. They only prayed with all their hearts that their best friend would not fail them now.
Danny continued to push as much as he could into his attack. He could feel his body growing weaker, but he refused to transform back into a human without saving his town.
The Ghost Keeper cried painfully a little longer before suddenly beginning to laugh. He opened his eyes and stared at Danny as rays of white light broke through his boy. "You stupid half-ghost!" he mocked. "You fool! At this rate, you will lose your whole self to this realm! Did you not understand when that ghost hunter said that those who succeeded at perfecting this gift lost everything? They were destroyed, Daniel! DESTROYED!"
Danny softened his frown yet continued to shoot his powerful ghost ray.
"You are using the energy in both of your bodies, Daniel," the Ghost Keeper clarified. "Once your ghost self loses energy, it will borrow what your human self has. Don't you understand? To perform this gift, you need an exceedingly large amount of energy, and any ordinary ghost does not possess that much! That is why they were all destroyed when trying to perform it perfectly, like you are doing now!"
Danny stared at him in growing concern, but did not stop shooting his attack.
"But because you are half human, you will simply lose that which you were born with: a human form to take," his enemy continued. "You would have used so much energy, your human body will detach itself from you and disappear into the Ghost Zone, perhaps fade away to nothing. It will remain lost in this sea of endlessness. Without your human body, you cannot go back home, Daniel; all that you knew will be forfeit. You will be forced to remain in the Ghost Zone as a ghost… forever."
Danny stared at him in silence for a very long time, contemplating what was being said to him. If this did happen, he could never become an astronaut, never get married, never raise a family; humans and ghosts just can't reproduce, if the ghost does not have a human and physical form to take. If what the Ghost Keeper said was true, he would lose everything.
But being a hero meant putting himself aside for later. Right now, all that mattered were the Ghosts in the Ghost Zone and the humans from Amity Park; his parents, Jack and Madeline Fenton; his sister, Jasmine Fenton; his best friends, Tucker Foley… and Sam. Samantha Manson.
Danny thought of them once more and it was enough to give him more strength. He frowned gravely and glared at the Ghost Keeper. "Then at least they can all remember this day as the day YOU FAILED!" he yelled.
He pumped out the rest of his energy in one shot and blasted it at the Ghost Keeper with a loud shout. His body began to glow more and more.
The Ghost Keeper stared at him in sheer horror and tried breaking free again. "No! No, don't!" he yelled. "I beg of you, have mercy! HAVE MERCY!"
He became overpowered by white light. He screamed painfully. "NOOOOOO!" his voice hollered, just before he exploded into thousands of light particles.
The force caused Danny to shield his face, even though everything that flew his way only skimmed off of the invisible forcefield that protected him. Once everything had quieted, he opened his eyes and stared at the sight before him.
Visions of different ghosts swirled in the darkness of the Ghost Zone before him, with an eerie green glow. Each ghost seemed to emerge from a dark pit, along with bright light. Once out, they each turned to Danny and smiled in gratitude before turning and fading into nothing.
Danny watched as each and every ghost that he released left and were free to fade away from existence in their own peaceful manner. It was only when the vision had finished did the world around him fade away as well. When he looked about, he saw the orange sky and the setting sun in the west, and the rolling green hills and forests that surrounded Amity Park.
The spell had been broken. He grinned weakly and looked down at the town, just as his ghost shield shattered and burst into oblivion. The town remained as it had always been.
It was saved.
Danny could hear people cheering loudly and rejoicing as they came out of their hiding places. A gentle breeze caught his attention, and he watched as the bright white glow that haloed him twisted around his body and formed a halo. It trailed down from his feet and went up his body until it had fully traced him. Then, it disappeared in the blink of an eye and never returned.
Danny blinked and his eyes returned to normal. He would have cheered for joy as well, but something felt different. He felt as though he no longer belonged in this world, that he could no longer fit in.
He looked down at himself and studied his hands. He was still in ghost mode, and he did not feel as though he had lost any energy at all; in fact, everything felt… normal.
Suddenly, normal did not sound like a good word. Danny slowly turned his hand over before staring at his fingers and rubbing them against each other. He could not feel any warmth in his chest anymore; he could not feel…anything.
The truth finally soaked into him as Danny sighed heavily and headed back down to the ground. Victory was his… for the moment.
Sam and Tucker were among the first to look up after everything quieted, and they were the first to rejoice upon seeing the setting sun in the distance. They laughed loudly and jumped for joy before hugging each other and dancing. Soon, they had the Fentons and the rest of the town doing the same.
"He did it! He did it, we're saved!" Sam laughed happily. "Danny saved Amity Park! We're all going to live another day!"
"I knew he could do it! I just knew he could!" Tucker cried out. "Danny Phantom is back to stay!"
Jazz, Maddie and Jack jumped for joy and cheered loudly. People around them began to dance together when the power returned to the town. People ran into their homes and blasted their stereos, sending the entire town into dancing.
Jack twirled Maddie around happily. "How's this for a going away party for Danny, Maddie?" he asked.
"I think it's the bomb!" Maddie replied, striking a pose.
Jazz ran over to Sam and Tucker and shared a hug with them. "I can hardly find anything to express myself!" she said happily. "After all these years, Danny's still got what it takes to be a hero!"
"He's Danny Phantom, Jazz!" Tucker replied, waving an arm through the air. "No one can beat him!"
A glint in the setting sun caught their attention, causing Sam, Tucker, Jazz, Maddie and Jack to look up again.
Gently flying towards them was Danny, the very same man who had saved their town.
"Danny!" Tucker cried out happily as he broke into a dash and ran towards him. Everyone else followed closely behind.
Danny transformed his ghost tail into legs and landed gently and soundlessly on the grass in the clearing. He looked up when he heard familiar voices shouting out his name, and found Tucker and the others racing towards him, waving their arms about while laughing.
He could not help but to smile at this.
Tucker slowed to a stop before him and spread out his arms while cheering. "Ha, ha, ha, Danny! You did it, dude!" he exclaimed. "You saved Amity Park!"
"And you said you were rusty," Maddie added sweetly as the others joined Tucker.
Jazz clasped her hands together. "We're so proud of you, Danny," she said. "You were able to use your Ultimate Control Power, and just in the nick of time, too!"
"Almost makes me wish I had given myself half ghost powers," Jack added proudly.
Danny grinned weakly at him and looked at the others. "Thanks," he said softly. "Though I couldn't have done it without you guys. The Ghost Keeper was really tough to beat, and if I had done all the battling you guys did down here before fighting him, no one would be alive right now."
"It was a team effort, we'll admit it this time," Sam confessed with a shrug. "But you were the real hero, Danny. You saved Amity Park, and all the people inside of it!"
Danny smiled back at her for a moment before looking at Tucker again.
Tucker ran up to him. "Come on, man!" he said with a laugh. "Let's go take out at the Nasty Burger for a celebration!" He raised his arm in order to place it on Danny's back. "My treat, pal!"
But when his hand came to rest, it simply continued and flowed right through Danny's body. Tucker gasped quickly in shock and pulled his hand back, just as the others stared at Danny as their smiles faded away.
Danny stared down at Tucker's hand before raising his eyes and looking at his best friend in silence.
Tucker held his hand near, not understanding what had just happened, and then forced up a nervous smile. "Danny, come on," he said, trying to laugh. "You can get out of Ghost form, now, you know."
Danny looked at him some more as his eyes darkened. He shook his head slowly. "No," he whispered.
"What do you mean no? You should, Danny. You should always revert to human form in order to conserve-!"
"No, Tucker," Danny repeated weakly. He raised his head and stared sadly at his best friend. "I… I can't."
Tucker fell incredibly silent and shared the confused and concerned looks of everyone else.
Danny looked at them all in silence for a moment before tears filled his eyes. "I can't change back, Tucker," he said through the lump in his throat. "When I performed the power of Ultimate Control, I used more energy than what was actually possible. Because of that, I no longer… have a human body to revert to."
At these words, everyone stared at him in sheer horror. Jazz covered her mouth and gasped.
"I'm a ghost," Danny went on, trying to steady his voice. "Just a ghost, for now. Because of that, I can't stay here."
Maddie was the first to object. "That's not true, Danny!" she said, trying to steady her faltering voice as well. "You are very welcome to stay here for as long as you want! Whether you're a ghost or a half-ghost, you're our son and you have the right to stay here!"
"That's not what I mean, Mom," Danny replied. "Ghosts come in and out of the ghost zone because if they don't, their bodies will eventually dissolve into nothing. If I stay here in the Real World for too long, that will happen to me too."
Maddie shook her head violently as tears overflowed her eyes. "No, no, no," she cried as her husband walked over and held her against him.
Danny stared at them for a moment before looking at Tucker again. "… My body is lost somewhere in the Ghost Zone," he said. "It's not destroyed, just lost. I don't know how long it will take me to find it…" He frowned as bravely as he could. "But I won't stop until I do find it. I promise."
Tucker only stared at him in silence, unable to find anything to say. Tears filled his eyes as he looked upon the only friend he had had his entire life.
Danny stared back at him in silence until Jazz gasped softly again. "Danny, you're disappearing," she whispered.
Danny looked at himself and noticed that his body was going transparent. The outline of his body began to glow dimly in the setting sun.
"You have to go back to the Ghost Zone," Tucker finally forced himself to say. When Danny looked at him, he raised a hand and wiped his tears. "But… why now? We just came home to see you again, Danny. Why is it that everything can fall apart in just three months?"
Danny finally smiled weakly at him. "It didn't fall apart, Tucker," he said. "If it hadn't been for you, Sam and Jazz, I would have just gone back to NASA and all of this would have never happened. I would have completely forgotten who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to do. But thanks to you guys and all the fun we had, I finally understand what it means to be a hero, and why I've been chosen to be the protector of this town and the Ghost Zone. If it hadn't been for your love…I probably would have never learned how to use Ultimate Control properly."
Tucker looked away sadly. "But what's the use of winning a battle," he began, "If you're not there to celebrate?"
Danny stared at him in silence. "I'll be back," he reassured him. "I've just got to go look for my body, first. I won't stop searching for it, Tucker. I promise."
Sam remained silent the entire time Danny and Tucker spoke. She was unsure of how to express herself in this moment, and was afraid that, if she opened her mouth, a sob would come out.
Danny waited a moment before looking at Jazz. "If NASA calls for me, just tell them that I went missing," he instructed her. "Tell them something happened and no one's been able to find me yet."
Jazz nodded sadly and wiped her tears. "I'll cover your tracks, Little Brother," she squeaked.
Danny looked at Tucker again. "I don't know what else to say," he said with a nervous laugh, "Except thank you for the best summer I have ever spent… And just keep being yourself, Tuck. I don't want you to change. I mean, maturity could help a singe, but…"
Tucker chuckled at this and nervously rubbed his arm.
"… But don't change anything else. Just finish up your college studies and get smarter, not different, okay? I want to come back to the best friend I've known my whole life."
Tucker nodded and looked up at him. "I promise," he whispered.
Danny smiled back before finally turning his eyes on Sam.
Sam walked hesitantly up to him while hugging her waist. She sighed shakily and looked up into Danny's eyes as tears streaked across her black makeup and the dirt on her face. The gentle August breeze blew through her hair.
Danny stared back at her in silence before more tears filled his eyes. Regret and sorrow flooded his green irises. He opened his mouth, let it hand like so in silence, before finally uttering something: "… I love you, Sam," he whispered through tears. He shook his head weakly for a moment. "… I love you… so much."
Sam tightened her lips together to keep any embarrassing sound from escaping. She slowly raised her right hand up to Danny's cheek and attempted to touch it, but only felt air. To anyone, even to her eyes, her hand could vaguely be seen through Danny's body. She held her hand up like that for a moment before leaning towards him, closing her eyes and parting her lips in order to kiss him.
Though their lips joined, she could not physically feel anything. It was as though she was trying to kiss empty space. But what allowed her to know that they had truly joined in that moment was the fact that she could feel an incredible burst of warmth on her lips, as though a warm yet painless flame was sitting there. It spread through her entire body and poured into her heart, up to the point that it made it overflow and burst.
After a long moment, Sam forced herself to part from him. Danny opened his eyes and stared at her in silence as the breeze played through his hair.
Sam waited a minute longer before speaking. "I love you too, Danny," she whispered as tears slid down her cheeks. "And I always will."
A light seemed to ignite in his eyes and bring even a sliver of hope to them again. He raised a hand and attempted to hold Sam's in his, but it only phased through, glowing dimly when it did.
Sam tried the same thing before finally pulling herself away from him and stepping back to stand beside Tucker. She placed her hands together and took as deep a breath as she could.
"I'll be back," Danny announced, looking at each of them again. "I'm not running away this time. I'll find my body, and once I do, I'll come right back home."
Maddie and Jack held each other tightly and tried to smile at their son, despite their sadness.
Danny stared at them and tried to grin. "I'll be fine, Mom," he added. "Don't worry so much."
Maddie took a deep breath and nodded as firmly as she could.
Tucker waited a moment before placing an arm around Sam. "Danny," he said.
Danny looked at him in silence.
Tucker held Sam close to him and raised his chin. "Don't worry," he continued. "… I'll take care of her. I promise."
Danny raised his head a little and finally smiled warmly, as though he knew those words to be true. He nodded weakly. "I know you will," he whispered.
The breeze blew a little more around him until Danny finally faded away from view and disappeared. Tiny light particles, green and white, fluttered in the air like dandelion seeds before joining together and disappearing like a star in the morning. Then, everything fell silent, except for the rejoicing in the streets behind them.
Tucker and Sam kept their eyes on the glow until they were sure that Danny was no longer present. Sam took another deep sigh and looked down at her stomach.
Tucker waited a moment and looked at her. "You… gonna be okay, Sam?" he asked.
Sam looked at him for a moment and grinned weakly before nodding. "Yeah," she replied. She stared down at her stomach again and gently laid a hand on it, rubbing it slowly. "… We'll be fine…"
To be continued…
AUTHOR'S NOTE: To clarify, No, Danny is not dead. Note the TO BE CONTINUED. The adventure continues in MYSTERY OF THE SPIRIT GEMS.
If you want the link to the slideshow or any other picture goodies, go to my gallery on my deviantart page.
Thank you to all who read this. The second story will be posted shortly, and then on to the next adventure, DOUBLE TROUBLE.