Disclaimer: Danny Phantom and all related characters are the property of Butch Hartman and Nickelodean Studios. Kat/Electra and the Ghost Master (and all related characters) are the product of Silent Elegy.

A/N: Happy Twentieth Fic, everyone.

A metallic thud echoed through the compound, and the only person there to hear it sighed heavily. It was time, he knew, and he found himself more reluctant than he had realized. It would have been so easy to simply remedy the situation and go on, but that would have been irresponsible. Even he couldn't see past the ripples such an act would cause in time.

No, doing what he knew he could, would have been the epitome of foolishness. Certainly, time might recover. They called him its master, but time had no master. Time was the master, and he was nothing but its willing slave. He was relatively certain time would adjust and go on without him, but he couldn't take the chance. He'd been too much a part of the continuum for too long. So many things had happened simply because he existed, that he didn't want to think about what would happen otherwise.

Or was he just being egotistical?

Either way, he knew that he would let occur what was about to occur, and he would not lift a finger to stop it. He sighed again and let his hand hover over the button atop his staff. It would have been so easy, so much easier than doing nothing. He was about to put his very existence in jeopardy, and even though he knew how it would turn out, there was always uncertainty. There had to be uncertainty, for without it, there could be no certainty.

It was an interesting paradox, to be sure. A thing could not exist unless its opposite existed in conjunction. Existence itself existed because the void waited just beyond its borders. Even time bowed to the void…

And then he realized he was wasting time and let his hand fall to his side. He looked around, listening to the silence. His prisoner was resting briefly for one final assault on the prison.

So easy, his mind wailed. Just hit the button, go get a new Fenton Thermos, and hit him when he comes out. Let time sort out the paradox. It had existed for countless eternities before he came along, and it would go on just fine without him. And even that was assuming that he could be erased from existence after all this time, which he seriously doubted.

So easy…

He drew a shuddering breath for the simple comfort all ghosts felt from pretending, however briefly, that they were alive. He glanced around one last time, letting his eyes rest on the clock that adorned his staff. His traitorous mind reminded him, once again, of how easy it would be to ensure it never happened.

Slowly, reluctantly, he leaned the staff against a wall and let go. Slowly, he drew back while his thoughts beat against the inside of his head, demanding that he act and consequences be damned. Something exploded in the far room, and he simply left.

He burst from his prison with a joyously enraged howl and blasted down the nearest wall. Some part of his mind reminded him that Clockwork could simply stop time and be done with him, but the sudden freedom from long imprisonment had temporarily robbed him of rational thought. It was the unexpected sight of nothing that finally broke through the berserker mode he had worked himself into.

He paused, suddenly uncertain, and looked around. There was no one there. He took a few steps forward and looked around again. There was still no one there. Clockwork's staff leaned unattended against one wall, and he froze upon seeing it. Surely, this was some kind of trick. Surely the Master of Time wouldn't have simply left the source of his power lying around for any vengeful spirits to find.

He narrowed his eyes and looked around. There continued to be no one there. Clockwork had to have known he was on the verge of breaking free, so why…?

There was no one there. He didn't even need to look around, that time. Lunging forward as though any moment would bring the world tumbling down around him, he caught the staff and fled. He had the power to control time, and no one was going to stop him. Not this time, and not ever again. He would have his revenge, and he would start with Danny Fenton.