The story of Phantom's life was a mess. Especially since, by most people's standards, he was never alive in the first place. Post PP, Phantom-centric, eventual Slash, PitchPearl.

A/N: So, explanation. I started writing this about a month after posting the fist chapter of Timekeeper (Ehehehe…. oops?). It mainly started as me being irked that Phantom was always the dominant one in every Pitch Pearl story, and then suddenly turned into this… thing. This crazy thing that is way too fucking serious for coming from one itty-bitty irritation, and left me completely lost on how to write it so that it made sense.

Basically, this story is weird. Maybe not in fanfiction terms (we all know the crazy shit that ends up here, there's no use denying it), but its still kinda odd for me and enough out of my skill range that I dread people's reaction to it. Oddly enough, I think that might be why I like it so much, which is why it's now getting posted.

Also, if it wasn't obvious before, this will be Pitch Pearl, which means Slash, manxman, yaoi, shonen-ai, diddly fiddling, whatever you'd call it. This is your warning.

Also also, for the slightly less obvious, to me this story isn't exactly a romance. It started that way, and it's one of the genre's it's labeled under, but for a reeeeeaaaly long time it wasn't a very romantic story. Those non-romantic parts didn't get cut out. There will be a lot of stuff going on, and any real romantic plot will… take a while to develop. Shippers, this is your warning. Seriously.

(Also also also, I don't own anything related to Danny Phantom. And you should be happy about that.)

Chapter One


If you lived your entire life locked in a box, could you comprehend the sky? If your every day was made up of four walls, a ceiling, and a floor, and then it was ripped away from you, could you face it? Could you live with that, the world you were left with? Would there be life for you, outside that box?

Phantom would have to say yes, but as far as most people were concerned, his opinion didn't really matter. Not that that was particularly unusual, mind you – most humans ignored his opinions. Besides, a human raised like that would never recover, never be normal.

Humans were different, though. All life was. You couldn't expect a human raised in total isolation to come out unscathed. Isolation changed people, especially as children. If they couldn't move, their bodies weakened and atrophied. If they weren't taught to speak, they lost the ability. If they had no interaction, they fell into a deep depression with no escape. And even if they were let out, once they'd been shaped and locked into place, they were stuck that way. If Phantom had been human, he would have never recovered.

But he wasn't. He was just a ghost, without even a memory of being human. He might have existed before Danny gained his powers, a weak presence unmanifested in the Ghost Zone, but it was just as likely he'd only started life when ectoplasm bonded with Danny's body. But that didn't matter. He knew the only reason he was what he was, had been because he was with Danny. And the only reason he'd become who he was, was because that had eventually changed.

Most of his earliest memories were a mix of emotions and physical sensations, without sight or sound or… well, anything. He wasn't quite sure he could be defined as a person back then. Danny would move, and Phantom would move with him. Danny would think, and Phantom would think with him. He'd been an echo, something ill-defined inside of the human's body, bound up in ectoplasm, unquestioningly at the human's disposal. Danny just had to think, and Phantom would act.

Not to say that he'd never messed up. He'd been weak at first, uncomprehending. Like a baby, in some ways. Danny's nerves would fire, electricity would surge through Phantom, stimulating the ectoplasm that made him up, and he'd do something in response. The only way Phantom would know one way or another how well he'd done was how Danny reacted. Sometimes he'd be pleased, sometimes irritated, sometimes angry, and Phantom would react accordingly.

From what Danny said later on, the whole process had made the first month rather frustrating. Sometimes his powers would act up out of nowhere, or react to how he was feeling, and when he tried to actively control them it was like trying to light a bum firework – sometimes it fizzled, sometimes it exploded, and sometimes he thought it did the first right up until it blew up in his face.

But things worked themselves out. It had gone on like that until about a year or so after the accident. He'd been doing well, learning along with Danny how to control their powers. He could easily discern between when Danny wanted to twitch a muscle and turn intangible, and Danny had a much better sense of how to send signals to him. It was still complicated, but Phantom was quite eager to please.

Up until the last moment, things had been normal. Phantom remembered he was resting, the constant currents running down the nerves a quiet lull, none directed at him.

And then, something changed. There was a great jerk, and suddenly everything was active. The signals sent muscles twitching, everything going in overdrive as something Phantom couldn't discern demanded attention.

Another jerk, and a shock of pain. Phantom cried out with Danny, every nerve firing pain through him, hitting deeper than it ever had before. He moaned out silently as the body around him was forced to move, and the confused signal came for Phantom to activate.

He immediately replied, and the body convulsed in pain. Phantom was assaulted with the feeling of being flayed open. He keened in agony, trembling, even as Danny began yelling. Phantom had never felt pain like this before – not this directly, not this completely. It bubbled across him, like electricity arcing through his body, burning holes straight through his being.

He had distantly felt Danny's continued convulsions, back arching up in a way that would have been agonizing in any other situation, all thrown in shadow by the pain. It felt like Phantom was dissolving, body and ectoplasm rebelling against his consciousness, turning on him.

Then he was forced out.

Phantom remembered seeing a video of a calf being born once. It had been rather short, with footage spliced together from different stages of the birth. The most notable thing he remembered, though, was how quickly the newborn had been able to walk. The clip had made it clear that standing had been one of the first things a calf ever did, and no amount of video editing could change for him how amazing it was, watching it happen. Like standing up was the most natural thing in the world. It had completely baffled him, because looking back on his first day in the world, it had been nothing like that.

There had been no way for him to process what happened. Even as the pain lessened, the fear hadn't. He'd never been able to see before. Or hear. Nor had he ever had a body. His senses blared like a siren in his head, contrasted sharply to the complete absence of nerve signals, making it impossible to think.

And through all of it, the world was awash with light, and as a creature that had no knowledge of such a thing…

It had been the first time his screams had truly been his own.