Title: Hidden (4/?)
Genre: Doctor Who/Crime & Punishment crossover
Setting: AU post LoTTL
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Raskolnikov & other characters from ‘Crime & Punishment.
Rating: PG – possibly NC-17.
Summary: The Doctor finds himself in nineteenth century St Petersburg, where he sees an unexpected face....
Image copyright BBC Television
The Doctor fumbles awkwardly with the lock – he’s not helped by a delirious Rodya, who grabs his hand and implores him to ‘lock the door, for pity’s sake, lock it...’ as he leans against the battered blue box. Finally the door is open and the Doctor grabs Rodya’s arm again, holding him tightly as they step into the ship.
He isn’t sure what reaction he’d been expecting – confusion, denial, outright freaking out – any one of those would be perfectly understandable in the circumstances. What he hadn’t quite anticipated (but probably ought to have, given Rodya’s fragile health) is the one he gets:
‘Doctor...’ Rodya sighs softly and crumples to the floor like a rag doll.
‘Rodya!’ Quickly he drops to his knees beside the unconscious man, pulling the collar aside as he searches for a pulse. It’s there, and its way, way too fast, even for a Time Lord with two hearts, only one of which is working. The other would have been shut down by the chameleon arch, along with other organs not consistent with human physiology - a chameleon-arched Timelord is normally undetectable except by autopsy – and by that point it would hardly matter anyway.
The Doctor looks up, addressing the Tardis. ‘I know it’s a lot to ask of you old girl... but can you find any data relating to the Master in your memory banks? I think he’s chameleon-arched himself again but I can’t find his watch and he’s unstable...’
He feels the tiniest nudge against his mental barriers as the Tardis reads his mind and considers his request. A moment later comes the reply – the psychic equivalent of a shrug, followed by various images of newsreel footage from the Master’s reign of terror over planet Earth. The clips she’s showing him consist mainly of close-ups of the Master’s left hand, over and over. It takes him a moment to figure out what she’s trying to tell him.
‘The ring - of course! You are amazing, you know that? Can you track it down for me? Try not to cross my timeline if you can help it... but hang on...it was destroyed when ....’
And then he gets another message from the Tardis - multiple images all overlaid and he feels a ridiculous surge of hope. ‘He had more than one? Oh yes... of course he did... Master, you are beautiful!’ On impulse he leans down and kisses Rodya’s forehead – at the precise moment his eyes flicker open.
‘Don’t mind me – I think you’d call it an ‘excess of emotion’,’ the Doctor babbles as he helps a still pale Master/Rodya to his feet. ‘I need to take you on a short journey, Rodya – do you think you’re up to it?’
Rodya pulls away from the Doctor and drops heavily onto the jump seat – his eyes dart around the console room and the Doctor watches carefully for signs of impending breakdown. Curiously, they’re absent, and he begins to wonder if he’s been doing the Master’s student persona a dis-service. Perhaps the time has come to be honest with him.
‘I... don’t know. How far is it? My head aches abominably...’ he shudders and swallows. ‘What happened... back at Police Headquarters?’ He asks, his voice shaking.
‘You don’t remember?’
Rodya shakes his head, and then winces. ‘No.’
The Doctor takes a deep breath. ‘The Magistrate suspects you, I think, but he doesn’t have any evidence...’
‘Suspects me of what?’ Rodya says sharply, instantly on his guard.
‘Of the murder – the pawnbroker and her friend.’
‘Half-sister. And what do you know of this?’
The Doctor walks slowly around the console until he’s between it and the Master/Rodya.
‘I know what you did, Rodya – and ...’ he holds up a staying hand as Rodya starts to rise from the seat. ‘I’m not here to condemn you or hand you in to the police or anything like that. I want to help, believe me.’
‘But...’ Rodya shakes his head – but then he looks into the Doctor’s eyes and sees the truth of it. ‘How do you know this? Have I given myself away in my delirium?’ He seems crushed.
‘No, no, nothing like that! I saw it in your mind, Rodya, in your memory. It’s a ... ‘gift’ I have. I wouldn’t lie to you,’ he adds.
‘But... how is this possible?’
‘Rodya... you’ve seen the stars in the night sky, and your planet’s sun?’
‘What? Of course I have! Why do you ask?’ Rodya looks at the Doctor as if he’s a fool.
‘Well...those stars are the same as the sun that you see in the sky. They’re stars, and they have planets orbiting around them like this one. I was born on a distant planet, Rodya. I’m not human, and I have certain... talents that –in your present state - you don’t have.’
‘This is madness...what do you mean, my ‘present state’?’ But there’s a gleam in Rodya’s eyes that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Whether its the first stirring of memory or a latent fascination is hard to tell.
‘No, I assure you that it isn’t. If I’m right, it’s a skill you once had – and it’s how I know what’s in your mind.’
‘Can you see into my mind now?’ Rodya seems alarmed, looking about himself for an escape route.
‘No, it doesn’t work like that ... for one thing I need physical contact... may I demonstrate? I can show you images, too... if you’ll allow me?’ He stands, and reaches out both hands.
Rodya leans back against the seat, alarmed. ‘No!’
‘There’s no need to be afraid, Rodya – it’s completely safe, I promise you. In fact, it might even help you...’
‘This is... I don’t understand....’ Rodya winces and puts a hand to his head as if in pain.
‘What’s wrong? Are you in pain?’
‘My head... it hurts so much... I can’t think...’ Rodya sways on the seat, and the Doctor steps forward to support him. This time Rodya doesn’t shrink away from him.
‘It’s been getting worse, hasn’t it? I think I know what’s causing this, Rodya.’ The Doctor’s mind races. Is Rodya ready to hear the truth? Because quite clearly things are escalating – if he leaves it too long then the human’s mind will be too broken to ever be able to accept the Master’s memories, his identity... and if he’s wrong and this mentally unstable young man isn’t a chameleon arched Master – what will be the effect of having the Master’s memories dumped on him? It’s obvious – the human mind isn’t designed to take even a fraction of a Time Lord’s memories; he’ll die. Even assuming that they can locate another ring with the Master’s DNA intact. Somehow he will have to stabilise his condition until they can locate one... if he doesn’t do this properly, the test to ascertain whether or not Rodya is really a Time Lord could kill him.
‘I’ve been unwell...’
‘Tell me – have you been having strange visions, perhaps dreams, thoughts you can’t explain?’
Rodya gives the tiniest of nods. ‘Yes...’ he whispers.
‘It’s why you killed the pawnbroker, isn’t it?’
‘I... don’t know. I had a theory ... regarding great men and the rules which govern... You say you can help me?’
‘I think so. In fact I’m almost certain. You see...’ the Doctor swallows; he’s making a huge leap of faith here. ‘You’re like me, Rodya. You were born on a distant planet too – the same one that I was. It’s called Gallifrey.’
Rodya’s face hardens. ‘No. I was born here – my mother, sister...’
The Doctor places a hand gently on Rodya’s arm. ‘It’s a false memory, Rodya. I’m sorry. I know it’s hard to understand...’
‘But... this is impossible – you’re talking in riddles....why...?’ The brown eyes are wide and frightened.
‘I’m not sure... but he – you – were running from...‘ He can’t say ‘me’, can he? ‘Some people who wanted to imprison you...’
‘Why? Had I done something ... wrong?’ Am I murderer there, too? Is the unspoken question.
‘Look, it really doesn’t matter at this point in time. The main thing is that you need to get your memory back.’ He reaches out and gently touches Rodya’s hand. ‘Feel the temperature of my skin? It’s cold, isn’t it, compared to yours?’
Rodya slowly nods. ‘Yes,’ he whispers.
The Doctor slips his hand around Rodya’s and gently pulls it to his chest. Rodya tenses and the Doctor stops the movement but doesn’t let go. ‘Only when you’re ready...’ he says softly. After a moment, the tension eases and the Doctor continues; ‘that’s because I’m really not human, Rodya. One of the differences between us is that I have two hearts. Feel them. Go on, I won’t bite.’
‘Two hearts...?’ Rodya says, wonderingly, but he doesn’t resist as the Doctor resumes pulling his hand until it’s resting on the Doctor’s chest. The Doctor looks at him steadily as he places it, palm resting against his chest, before moving it across to the other side. Rodya’s eyes widen as he feels the second heart beat, and he brings his right hand up to rest it on the Doctor’s chest. Now the Doctor can see that he’s registered the double heart-beat. Clearly it touches something in his mind because his eyes suddenly fill with tears. ‘Why... am I so affected?’ he whispers, suddenly pulling his hands away.
‘Haven’t you worked it out yet...? Master?’ the Doctor asks gently.
Rodya shakes his head. ‘No... That’s impossible. You talk nonsense, Doctor Smith.’
The Doctor looks down at his feet and then up at Rodya. ‘My name is not Doctor Smith, and you know it, don’t you – Koschei?’ He pronounces the name in High Gallifreyan, their native tongue.
The affect is instantaneous; Rodya’s face goes suddenly slack with shock, and then before the Doctor can reach him he collapses to the floor to lie shuddering and writhing, clutching his head. His gasps and whimpers of pain twist the Doctor’s stomach.
‘No, no....’ The Doctor drops to his knees beside the stricken man and wrenches the Master’s hands from his head, quickly clamping his own to the Master’s face, which is contorted in anguish as his still human brain tries to assimilate the resurgent memories – memories which, whilst far from complete, are still far too much for human physiology to assimilate safely. The chameleon arch device must be found, so that his biology can be re-written and the Time Lord physiology restored. Otherwise his brain will burn up, bringing instant death. There’s only one thing for it... the Doctor strengthens his grip on the Master’s head, ignoring the pain as Rodya’s hands beat and gouge at his fingers in an effort to loosen his grip. He shuts his eyes and forces his way past the human’s paltry mental shields and down, down, deeper and deeper as he searches out the remaining essence of the Master’s mind, the dregs which were left behind when he activated the chameleon arch. It’s a failsafe – there has to be some remnant of a Time Lord mind remaining in the otherwise human body of a chameleon-arched Time Lord, to enable it to lock onto and accept the chameleon arch data dump which will restore him. The Doctor remembers that when he used the device to hide himself from the family of blood, the human he became, John Smith, would suffer dreams and nightmares that he never truly understood. Even the 20th Century human mind had found assimilating the information difficult. How much harder then, for the 19th century Rodya?
Quickly he slips through Rodya’s non-existent defences, down, down until... there he is! He reaches around the pitifully meagre remains of the Master’s essence. He’d really pared it down to the minimum needed for a successful return, hadn’t he? He must have been terrified to have dared go so far. At least it will make his job somewhat easier... he spins a protective shield around the Master’s persona faster and faster until it’s entirely cocooned. Only an additional data dump would now free it – the Master should be safe enough in there until he can reunite him with the rest of his DNA.
He pulls out as slowly and as carefully as he can, trying to lay an amnesia trail as he goes. The last thing he wants is for Rodya to flee from him in fear, which he might well do if he suspects the Doctor of an assault.
/You fainted, stopped breathing – I was helping your recovery/ he plants the suggestion at regular intervals as he slides free of Rodya’s psyche, marvelling as he goes at the intelligence of the man. No doubt his theories, and subsequent murder of the two women, were as a direct result of the Master’s influence. That his fellow Time Lord could so drastically alter the behaviour of a basically decent man is a frightening thought and yet a comforting one at the same time; all Chameleon Arch personalities are of necessity drawn from the incumbent Time Lord’s own psyche, so in many respects Rodya is one aspect of the Master’s personality, just as the schoolmasterly John Smith had been part of the Doctors’.
When finally he pulls free, the Doctor is ready to catch Rodya as he slumps unconscious into his arms. Gently he lowers him to the floor, arranging his limbs so that he’ll be comfortable upon waking. Resisting the impulse to stroke the pale face, the Doctor leaves the Master’s human form to sleep, and begins to set co-ordinates for Earth some hundred and fifty years in Rodya’s future. He has several hunches about where he might find the Master’s ring and he needs to work out how best to get hold of it without affecting that particular Time Line. He’s going to be breaking all the rules to do this, but he can’t let the Master die, unknown, in Earth’s past. He just can’t...