'The Master Returns'
At the end of “Last of the Time Lords”, we’re shown a female hand retrieving the Master’s ring from his funeral pyre, leading to speculation that we haven’t seen the last of him. The implication perhaps being that the hand belonged to Lucy Saxon. The Doctor believed that the Master would never willingly kill himself; so it seems reasonable to assume that the ring is a device which will enable the Master to return.
This isn’t the normal way for a Time Lord to regenerate and I got to thinking..... presumably the ring is connected to the Lazarus technology (rather like the modified laser screwdriver) since it bears the Logo and I seem to recall reference being made to that in relation to the Master’s laser screwdriver. Now the Lazarus technology wasn’t without its faults, so what if, having relied on the ring to bring him back from the dead, the Master discovers that there is a problem.....
Tags: Doctor, Master (Simm) set after Last of The Time Lords
Tone: Mainly angst, hurt/comfort, with a little naughtiness
Characters: the Doctor, the Master, Lucy Saxon, Martha Jones, Jack Harkness, little bit of Owen Harper
Disclaimers: They aren’t mine; but I do enjoy playing with them, so thank you to the BBC.
Part One – Aftermath
Lucy felt empty and cold. Harry was dead. She had killed him, hadn’t she? Why had she done that? When she had picked up the gun and took aim, it had all seemed so clear; the choice that wasn’t a choice at all.
She remembers watching blankly as Harry staggered, the shock on his face as he fell backwards, blood spreading oh so brightly over his shirt. She blinked, and saw the Doctor - pleading, desperate. “Regenerate!” “I... refuse...” and then “I ... win...” She saw the life leave Harry’s face; the mobile features becoming suddenly still and grey as the tension drained from his body. He lay unmoving in the Doctor’s arms.
The whole room seemed frozen. The only sound was the broken sobbing of the Doctor, last survivor of an ancient race. That was what he’d said, wasn’t it – Harry and the Doctor were the last of their kind, and she had murdered Harry, leaving the Doctor alone to keen his rage and distress.
Afterwards, the American gently took the gun from her shaking hand, and the enormity of what she had done threatened to overwhelm Lucy. Her legs buckled and the room grew dark and distant around her. She never knew that the American caught her as she fell and lowered her gently to the floor, his expression a mixture of sadness and disgust.
She came to, feeling confused and so very cold. Harry?
The memory came flooding back and she gasped, sitting bolt upright, panic overwhelming her. What had she done? What would she do now, without him? A sob burst from her. A hand touched her shoulder and she flinched.
“Hey, easy, it’s okay. You’re safe now.” The American helped her to her feet, guided her to a chair and sat her down. She was shaking uncontrollably. “You’re in shock. Just take it easy for a while.” She couldn’t speak, could only nod dazedly through her tears.
The flight deck of the Valiant was strangely deserted now. Only Lucy, the American, and the Doctor and Martha and... Lucy gulped.
Harry’s body lay where he had fallen. The Doctor and Martha knelt beside it, the Doctor quiet now but stony-faced.
He looks numb, Lucy thought. We’ve both lost.... what? What had Harry Saxon, or the Master, been to them, exactly? Lucy did not know the depths of the relationship between the two time lords, but to her, he was ... a friend? Yes..., at first I think he was, in a strange and cruel way. He was ... my husband, my lover, and a sadistic bullying bastard. But...he was everything to me. And now I’ll never see him again. Even as her grief overwhelmed her Lucy wondered at it. After the beatings, the abuse, the violent mood swings when she feared for her life ... she knew even as she mourned him, that she had loved and feared Harry Saxon in equal measure. But she simply could not imagine what she would do without him. A familiar voice whispered in her mind – “Lucy....” but before she could focus on it, it was gone. She shuddered.
Lucy looked at the body of her husband and wanted to rush to him; shake him and bring him back to life. Her eyes met those of the Doctor, and she flinched away from the raw sorrow she saw there. It mirrored her own. She could barely cope with her own feelings; she couldn’t - wouldn’t - acknowledge his too. But his stare was relentless. His companion, Martha, laid a hand on the Doctors arm.
“Doctor, don’t –” Martha was cut short as the Doctor rose, almost knocking Martha over as he strode over to where the miserable Lucy sat.
“Do you know what you’ve done? Do you?” He hissed, leaning over her, his dark eyes boring into her mercilessly, and she shrank away from him until she could go no further.
“I...” Lucy gulped. The Doctor’s intensity was so like Harry’s, and yet so not like him at all.
“Doctor!” Martha tried to drag him away. “Doctor, this won’t help – you know what the Master was capable of! Lucy’s as much a victim as anyone else! This isn’t like you...”
The Doctor’s face crumpled. He stepped back, wiped a trembling hand over his face. “You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry, so sorry.” His shoulders slumped and he turned away.
Martha sighed – and suddenly all briskness, was at Lucy’s side. Lucy flinched again, she couldn’t help herself. Almost three years of not knowing whether the day would bring Harry’s friendship and confidence or beatings and abuse had brought her to this.
Martha took Lucy’s hand, felt for her pulse. “We need to get you to hospital – I think rehab would be the best place for you.” Her tone was brisk but kind. Amazing, considering everything that she and her family had been put through, Lucy thought, and suddenly had the overwhelming urge to laugh. She hiccupped and gulped a strangled “Yes, I suppose so...” She felt sick, and giddy.
Martha seemed unfazed as Lucy went white and slumped back in the chair and in a second Martha had thrust Lucy’s head between her knees. “It’s ok. Just relax, take deep breaths...”
Lucy soon began to feel a little better. “Please... she gestured towards where Harry still lay. “I want... I need... to ...to say goodbye...?”
Martha nodded, knowing the need for closure. She helped Lucy to her feet, noting that the woman was barely the slim side of emaciation. She knew that Stockholm syndrome was no respecter of species; Lucy would need skilled treatment if she was not to slide into permanent insanity as a result of her treatment at the hands of the Master. Martha could only guess at the horror of spending the best part of two years closeted with the Master.
She also knew that her own family wouldn’t understand her concern for the wife and outwardly willing partner of a mass murderer, and sighed. It was a worrying thought that the world would know Lucy only as the widow of the man who murdered President Winters. She might not be treated with as much sympathy as she probably deserved, even if she had been the one to send him to his grave as far as the public were concerned. It could go either way, she supposed.
Lucy hesitantly approached Harry’s body, her gaze drawn to his face. He looked so peaceful in death – and so much younger. A sob rose up in her chest and suddenly she was on her knees beside him. Her tears fell freely, splashing onto his face. With trembling fingers she wiped them away, flinching at the coolness of his skin, thankful that his eyes were closed and that he would not see her dishevelled state. He always liked her to be smart. “Must look the part, eh, Luce?” he would say, and wink at her lewdly. She cried out forlornly, and careless of the drying blood, gathered him into her arms. “Harrrryyyyyy....” she wept, wanting only to see his crazy grin, for him to jump up and say it had all been a big joke: not dead really, Luce......
“Oh my god – “
Lucy felt strong hands pulling her up and away from Harry, and struggled. “No...! Noooo... Harry... I’m sorry!” She tried to pull away, but the American was too strong. He pulled her arms down to her sides and drew her into a bear hug from which she couldn’t break free. Pulling her head into his chest he rocked her as if she were a child, sshhing her. He smelled of stale sweat and blood but he was warm and he was the first touch of kindness she’d known for a while and so she sobbed and cried until she felt drained. When Jack finally released her, she did not care what they did with her anymore and just stood blank and uncaring until finally, Martha came and took her, and gave her an injection which sent her into blessed sleep.
Part Two - Farewell
“I have to do this alone.” The Doctor spoke flatly, as if tired of explaining.
Martha was worried. Not only was Lucy Saxon not responding to treatment, refusing to eat, drink or even speak, but now the Doctor too seemed to be falling into a deep depression. Martha had never seen him like this before and she was worried.
In the few days since events on the Valiant, the Doctor had been making preparations for the Master’s funeral rites – which apparently involved a funeral pyre.
Lucy seemed unable to accept that the Master was dead. The staff told Martha that she spent all her days at the hospital gazing from her window, turning away only when the door opened with a hopeful smile, which vanished as soon as she saw that it wasn’t Harry. Martha felt that observing the funeral ceremony might help Lucy come to terms with her loss, and to move on. It would be an uphill struggle; and Martha was not the one to help long-term, but she could at least see her through this before turning her over to the professionals. As one of the few who had shared at least some of Lucy’s experiences, Martha had felt unable to abandon her thus far and felt strongly that Lucy should be present at the funeral. The Doctor refused. Martha knew that he could be stubborn, but this was unfair.
“Doctor, I know this is very personal for you, and I respect that. But you have to take some responsibility for what the Master did to Lucy. You explained it yourself; she was brainwashed along with the rest of the human race - she didn’t have a choice. All I’m saying is that she needs closure before she can move on. We can’t wipe her memories; we can only help her come to terms with them. You owe that to her, at least.”
They had tried Retcon, courtesy of Torchwood, but to Jack’s puzzlement, it hadn’t worked. Whatever spell the Master used to ensnare Lucy’s mind, it was resistant even to Torchwood’s amnesia pill. Martha privately despaired of Lucy ever making a full recovery; she seemed too damaged. But she had to try.
But the Doctor was adamant. Lucy was not to be allowed anywhere near the Master’s funeral, nor in fact was Martha. It was to be between the two Time Lords and he would not be moved. Martha was mystified by his refusal to allow witnesses, and wondered what strange ritual would take place that couldn’t be shared.
So it is that Martha finds herself with an unresisting Lucy Saxon in tow, following the Doctor as he makes his final farewell to the Master.
Martha is not comfortable having to go behind the Doctor’s back. She desperately wants to get back to her own life and care for her own family, but finds herself unable to abandon Lucy without doing all she can for the poor woman. It would be all too easy to hate the widow of Harold Saxon/The Master, and deny her the care she badly needs. But the Hippocratic Oath Martha has taken and her own moral compass will not allow her to discriminate.
Martha had decided that she would take matters into her own hands. After a year on her own, making her way around the planet, she is not going to just stand by subserviently any more. Martha feels that her unrequited love affair with the Doctor is well and truly over.
Lucy still seems dazed and unsure of herself. Martha has explained to her that she’s taking her to Harry’s funeral, but that they must keep quiet and allow the Doctor to perform the ceremony without intruding. Lucy has seemed to take this in, merely nodding slowly, her gaze fixated on the figure atop the pyre. She gave a little gasp as the Doctor ignited the bier, but remained otherwise silent. As the minutes pass, Martha wonders if the Doctor will stay until only ashes remain. He does not appear to speak any words of ceremony, merely bowing his head momentarily, before turning and walking away. He does not look back. And he didn’t want me to see that? Martha thinks, exasperated and cold.
As soon as the Doctor is out of sight, Martha leads Lucy closer, until they can feel the warmth of the flames. Martha waits patiently, wondering if she should say something. Not knowing what would be appropriate ritual for a Gallifreyan, still she thinks that Lucy might need something traditional. Even as she starts to speak, Lucy startles her by speaking for the first time in days.
“No – it’s alright. Don’t say anything.” Seeing Martha’s hesitation, she adds quietly “Please.” Martha nods. Perhaps this is all that Lucy needs? Maybe now she can move on.
They stand until the fire has died down, and only smouldering ashes remain. Throughout, Lucy has stood calmly and quietly. Martha finds this a little worrying, but perhaps Lucy is all cried out.
“I think we should leave now, Lucy. It’s over.” Martha puts a hand on Lucy’s arm, to lead her away.
“Yes. I – oh!” and as they turn to go, Lucy stops, putting a hand to her forehead and swaying. Martha steads her. “Are you alright?” Lucy nodded. The expression of pain on her face is slowly replaced by a look of wonder. “Oh, yes...” and suddenly she darts forward, to the edges of the dying fire, and is on her knees, retrieving something from the ashes.
“Lucy, what is it?” Martha helps Lucy to her feet, as she clutches her find possessively. The woman looks at Martha, smiling through tears.
“It’s Harry’s ring! He meant for me to have it, and I forgot. I forgot...” she looks at the ring wonderingly, slipping it onto a finger. She draws herself up, and hesitantly pats her wind-swept hair. “I’ll be alright now, Martha. Thank you.”
Part Three – Awakening
The Doctors at the Private Clinic had all been very kind to Lucy. They had treated her drug and alcohol addictions with compassion and firmness. Of course, the exorbitant fees guaranteed a certain standard of care.
When Lucy had finally emerged from the clinic two months later she was bemused to discover that she had become something of a heroine during her recovery.
Both the tabloid and broadsheet newspapers told the story of how, moments after her husband Harry Saxon had ordered the Toclafane to murder President Winters in cold blood, Lucy had calmly shot him dead. Lucy had refused to give interviews (in fact she wasn’t capable) so this only fuelled the speculation. The most popular theory being that the Prime Minister was not only utterly mad but a wife beater (photographs blown up from grainy footage shot by the media cameras on the Valiant revealed her black eye in all its gruesome glory) and that seeing him murder the President finally caused her self control to snap. The fact of her hospitalisation following the shooting was seen -as a cursory police investigation concluded- as evidence that she had shot her husband while the balance of her mind was disturbed. No further police action would be taken provided that she received appropriate treatment.
So, here she is back in her Chelsea flat almost as if the last two-and-a-half years had never happened. Family and friends seem to be expecting Lucy to pick up her life where it had been before she met Harold Saxon. But she can’t. She tried, she really has, but Lucy can’t forget the year that somehow got rewound after the Doctor defeated Harry.
For the rest of the world the year had simply never happened - so Lucy has no one to confide in, to tell her that the nightmares were normal and simply her mind’s way of coping with the horrors she’d seen. The clinic had treated her physical problems - Lucy had found that the only way to cope with Harry’s “new world” was to seek oblivion in alcohol. The cocaine addiction had come about after a deliberate attempt of Harry’s’ to “spice things up” - she had became so befuddled with drink that abusing her no longer seemed to excite him. That was when the other women started to appear, and in desperation - and hoping to reclaim him all to herself again - Lucy took to the cocaine with a fervour which delighted Harry. For a while, she became “My favourite wife”. But it didn’t last.
Even now, Lucy isn’t entirely sure what prompted her to pick up the gun Francine Jones had dropped. She had been high, as usual, and had become caught up in the moment when everyone began chanting “Doctor” ... and it was possible, she mused, that perhaps by that time she really had not known quite what she was doing.
The problem, Lucy acknowledges only to herself, is that deep down, she still misses Harry. Oh, not the cruel Harry, the Harry who demanded to be called “Master” and who did such terrible things to so many people. But the smooth, oh-so-very-charming Harry, who had seduced her with his cheeky smile, irreverent humour and playful demeanour, so unlike his peers. He had been simply irresistible and Lucy was the first to admit that she had never been too strong-willed when something (or someone) caught her fancy. And his voice – he’d had the power to melt her resolve from across a crowded room with just a twitch of an arched eyebrow, a little smile teasing his lips. His voice whispered intimate things in her ear and made her blush, even as they stood inches away from a senior member of the Royal family... Lucy’s heartbeat quickened even now, remembering... and even though the other Harry mocked her, humiliated her, abused and raped her then cast her aside when he grew bored, Lucy still longed for her Harry to reappear and make everything alright.
Because when her Harry was with her, all the pain and humiliation had melted away and she’s been content. Some days Lucy would look back at how she had been treated and wondered at herself, at her capacity for self-deception.
The Doctor, Martha and Jack had all spoken to her of paradoxes and the Archangel Network and other matters that she couldn’t begin to even halfway make sense of, in an attempt to help her understand what had happened to her; but at the end of it, it simply seemed to boil down to the fact that Harry had not been who he said he was. For reasons she can’t now recall she had either not noticed or cared until it had all been too late.
But she still misses him. At times it’s almost a physical pain, like the worst kind of migraine she could imagine and then some. There are days when she can barely stagger from her bed, and no analgesic ever seems to dull the pain. It had proved impossible to return to work.
And then are the dreams, which are becoming more and more frequent as the headaches intensify. She often wakes, heart pounding and drenched in sweat, convinced that she’s heard his voice.
Lucy – where are you? Lucy, don’t forget....
She tells herself that it’s simply a reaction to everything that she’s been through, that it will get better with time. She has considered therapy but dismisses it as impossible; they would surely lock her up and throw away the key. Lucy could see it now – “This young woman has delusions and hallucinations, and seems to live in a fantasy world bearing no resemblance to her normal life. “ “I recommend committal and medication to combat this psychosis since therapy has not helped...” she shudders.
Some evenings she comes to herself, not even knowing how she has spent her day. Perhaps she has been laid low with one of her headaches again? On those days she feels physically tired even though she has no idea what she’s been doing. One day she notices bruises on her hands. Another day, a broken nail... and her car keys are not always where she’s sure she left them the night before. She begins to wonder if perhaps her imaginary psychiatrists are right and she’s going mad, needs locking up.
One morning she wakes to find herself lying fully clothed on the bed, wearing clothes that are soaked and muddy. She gets as far as opening the phone directory to look for a clinic. Even being locked away, -sedated and removed from reality- can’t be worse than this waking nightmare.
She starts to key in the number, but stops as a voice trickles across her mind.
I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Luce.
With a start, she recalls hearing those words once before: she’d wanted to call a doctor for Harry when he first began suffering violent headaches, but he had forcefully prevented her from making the call. That had been the start of it..... He’d called them “the drums”.
She’d always known when the Harry’s headaches were at their worst – she’d find him tapping - da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum - on his desk, his knee, her arm, any available surface... At times she’d wanted to scream at him to stop the never-ending tap-tap-tapping - but of course, she never did. And now as she relives the memory she realises that her own fingers are tapping – da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum. She snatches her hand away from the arm of the settee, and puts her head in her hands. What is wrong with her? What is she to do?
Sighing, she wearily pushes herself up out of the chair. She would shower and go to bed. The only thing wrong with that is that the dreams will return. They haunt her sleep almost every night and there are times when she longs only for a stiff drink and to fall into a dreamless slumber, as she would have done on board the Valiant. But the clinic had warned her that she risks alcoholism if she goes down that slippery slope again.
It had been bad enough on the few occasions when she’d tried to pick up her old life, go out on the town with her girlfriends; but their inane chatter about clothes, men and sporty cars and their vapid gossip grated. The whirl and triviality of the social scene in general holds no attraction for Lucy anymore. She can’t drink. She can no longer let herself go, in case her fragile self control breaks.
Lucy knows that she is no longer a Bright Young Thing with a Good Marriage ahead of her... she’s done all that, and look where it got her. But of course she could never share those experiences with her friends, so conversation is stilted. Eventually, the invitations and phone calls stop coming. Lucy doesn’t really mind – in fact she’s relieved not to have to keep up the pretence. She had never really been terribly good at lying, anyway – it was one of the traits that seemed to endear her to Harry, she recalls with a smile. He would tell her that she was so transparent - Your face is like an open book, Lucy. Now, let me read you... and he would put his fingers to either side of her temples and pretend to read her mind... except that sometimes, it really did feel as if he was invading her head, learning her innermost thoughts and fears. Later, when he was feeling particularly sadistic, he would use that knowledge to torment her for his own amusement.
She sighs as she steps into the warmth of the shower. If only she could stop thinking about him. She catches sight of his ring on her finger, which she still wears. Apart from a couple of suits in her wardrobe it’s the only thing she has left of him. She’d been unable to find their wedding photos; had turned the flat upside down looking for them. Lucy stifles a sob, her tears and the water blurring her vision, and puts the ring to her lips. If only he would let her go....
LUCY! The force of Harry’s voice makes Lucy’s head swim, and she staggers in the shower stall, falling against the cold tile and gasping with shock. Her eyes fly open but she’s blinded by the hot water and can see nothing. Stumbling semi-blind from the shower, she grabs a towel and frantically wipes the water from her face. She looks around, quite expecting to see him in the room with her. But there is no one there.
She must be going mad.
Despite the heat and steam in the room, she suddenly feels cold. Wrapping herself in her robe, she quickly dries herself off. This is crazy, it has to stop. She’d loved Harry –in spite of his many sins – but he is dead, and she is alive. It’s time to move on.
NO! This time the pain drives her to her knees. Gasping, she moans. “Leave me alone! Just leave me alone – this isn’t real – just stop!” She pounds her fists against her head. Is this what it feels like to go mad?
If only you knew... Come along, Lucy – pull yourself together now. You’re of no use to me like this!
The pain recedes a little, and Lucy warily opens her eyes. Still she is alone, but now she can feel his presence, as if he’s hiding just out of sight. “H - Harry?? Is that really you? Where are you?”
A sigh, as if she’d completely missed the obvious.
At the moment, my dear simple Lucy, I’m inside your head. It’s slightly more spacious than the ring... I was starting to think you’d never remember your instructions!
“What- what do you mean, you’re inside my head? And how could you possibly have been inside the ring?” Her head spins – how could he even be alive? She’d seen his body, seen the blood – and just who is he calling simple?!?
Ooh, feisty Lucy – I won’t bore you with the technicalities – besides, you’d never understand them! Let’s just say my essence -if you like to call it that- was kept safe inside the ring, until you could release me with a kiss. Isn’t that so romantic - d’you like it? But how disappointing that it took you this long to remember – I’m deeply hurt, I really am. The trance didn’t work nearly as well it should have – must’ve buried it too deep, I suppose. Funny, cos I didn’t think there’d be that much to bury it in... Ooh, sorry, that was a bit rude of me, wasn’t it? I’d better be nice to you, seeing that I’ve got this little job I want you to do.
His laughter bubbles crazily in her mind. She gulps, terror picking away at the last vestiges of her self-control.
“Oh don’t worry Luce; I don’t plan on staying here for long! That’s where you come in. It’s been hard work trying to get you to do things for me, trapped in that dammed ring – so I’m way behind schedule. I just hope the machine is still intact.”
“What machine–“ Lucy suddenly realises that she doesn’t need to speak out loud for him to hear her – if he’s in her head, he could just read her thoughts, couldn’t he? She doesn’t want him in her head.
Bet you’d like me in your bed, though....
She gasps as, impossibly, an invisible hand cups her breast, his fingers stroking down her stomach...
She gasps again in shock and sudden pleasure as the invisible fingers seem to slip lower still.
Mmm.... I know – it’s good, isn’t it! See, you don’t need a physical body to enjoy the finer things... but it does make life a lot easier when you’ve got one. Which reminds me... The pleasant sensations suddenly stop, and Lucy feels strangely disappointed. It’s been so long...
I know, Luce - I feel the same – horny as hell! But time’s ticking on, more important stuff to deal with first, and then we can play! Come on, get dressed! His voice has taken on the bullying tones Lucy knows all too well.
Bewildered, she throws on clothes without thinking, feeling ridiculously self-conscious as Harry watches her through her own eyes. She can sense him looking her up and down in that way he has, a little curl to his lips as he takes in the fluffy pink cashmere sweater that clings to her breasts, tight black jeans, stiletto boots and a long black leather coat.
How very fetching, if somewhat... High Street, he observes dryly.
Lucy follows Harry’s directions to the old LazLabs building. It appears to have been deserted some time ago, and Lucy recalls some kind of scandal - an experiment going wrong and people dying.
Harry chuckles in her mind. “Well, that’s the condensed version, but essentially correct.”
With Harry directing her to the back of the building (which is surrounded by a chain link fence on which hang signs warning ‘Beware – Guard Dogs’ although none are in evidence) Lucy finds some wire cutters and a torch in the boot of her Porsche – what would she be doing with wire cutters and a torch in her car? “Didn’t you ever wonder why you sometimes woke up in your clothes, Luce? C’mon, you must’ve done? That was me, of course – I managed to get you to do a bit of shoplifting for the things I needed.”
Pushing aside the uncomfortable vision of herself wandering around like an automation, Lucy thinks wryly that it that explains the bruises, the broken nails and the car keys not being where she’d left them. But what on earth could Harry want with this abandoned place? He doesn’t answer her.
Once they are inside the perimeter, Harry directs her across the car park and to the back of the building, to a ground floor fire escape. “It should still be open...” Amazingly, it is. There must have been guard dogs at one time, to deter would-be looters and squatters, Lucy thinks.
“There were. I had you poison them last night...” Lucy shudders.
“Don’t go soft on me, Lucy, not now!” There’s that hint of coldness again, that makes her quake a little. She gulps and pulls the door open with considerable effort. “That’s my girl.”
Lucy finds her way to the fourth floor by torchlight, using the stairs, since there is no power to the lifts. By the time she reaches her destination, Lucy is regretting her choice of footwear.
She’s found the laboratory. It appears that this one room in the whole of the deserted building still has a power supply because as she pushes the door open, the lights flicker on.
Lucy stands in a small, windowless room. A strange machine sits in the centre; it looks rather like a double sized Photo Booth, sealed by a sliding door within which is set a small Plexiglas window. As the main lights came on, so did a light within the chamber. The whole thing looks odd, and Lucy can’t imagine what it might be for.
The ring, Lucy – put it in that slot there, just by the door panel – that’s it. Now – press the ‘open’ button”
The door slides open, revealing a tiny chamber with a stool set in the centre. “In you go, Luce – don’t worry. You’ll be quite safe. Would I lie to you? Well – yes, perhaps – but not this time. Now - fire her up! Oh, and you’d better sit yourself down.” Mouth dry with sudden trepidation, Lucy sits.
The machine hums into life. For a few moments nothing seems to happen and then the sound reaches an unbearable pitch. Feeling as though her skull is about to split open, Lucy screams and clutches her head. Everything goes black.
When Lucy comes round she feels cold and stiff. She isn’t sure how much time has passed. The machine is now silent. Grabbing the stool, from which she must have fallen, she pulls herself upright. What had happened?
No reply, either from within her head or outside of it.
She pushes shakily against the door panel and it slides open, revealing not the lab but another room inside the pod. It’s similar to the one she was in. On the floor are slumped two naked bodies.
The first belongs to a young dark-haired man, whose sightless blue eyes gaze up at the ceiling in horror and pain. His almost skeletal features are contorted into an unnatural grimace. She gasps and covered her mouth, fighting the urge to gag. Beside him another body lays, face down and unmoving. This man has dark blonde hair. Lucy can’t see the face, but she knows that body shape only too well.
She reaches out tentatively. The flesh is cold. Too cold. With mounting dread, she grasps a shoulder and turns the body over.
It’s Harry. He seems to be deeply unconscious, his breaths so slow and shallow that at first glance he appears lifeless.
She presses her ear to his chest, trying not to recoil from the coldness of his flesh, and after a few moments she hears the double heart beats. Very slow – should they be that slow? But they’re there, nonetheless.
Lucy hugs him to her. He’s so very cold. She feels instinctively that she must warm him up before trying to move him. She looks around the lab, but there appears to be nothing that she can use as a blanket. How unlike him not to think of providing clothes, she muses. He usually thought of everything.
She would have to get him out of the cubicle – it’s very cold in there and Lucy is already shivering, her breath condensing in the chill air.
It proves difficult to move him in the restricted space, but she manages to drag him out of the cubicle and onto the floor of the main lab.
She quickly shuts the door of the booth, sealing away the poor unfortunate man who presumably had given his life so that Harry could have his back. Lucy can’t imagine how it all worked, but work it had, and here is her Harry, restored to her. She chokes back a sob, and takes off her coat.
Laying beside him and pulling the coat over them both, she draws him to her, and drapes as much of herself over him as she can, in the hope that her body warmth will transfer itself and revive him. She strokes his hair and his face, murmuring his name, as he begins to moan and shiver violently beside her.
Alarmed, she sits up, careful not to dislodge the coat covering him. What’s wrong with him? Why is he not waking up? Presumably that was the whole idea, after all.
He now seems to be in the grip of a fever, his skin no longer cold, but sweating profusely. His forehead is burning. He begins to mutter and moan, thrashing about in his delirium. What can she do?
Lucy feels the onset of panic and fights it down, knowing that she has to stay calm and act quickly. She needsto get him back to the flat, where she can keep him warm and perhaps medicate him – oh God, would human medicine help or hurt him? She has no idea – apart from the headaches he had never been ill during the time she’d been married to him so the subject had never come up. Harry just seemed – invincible. He didn’t get ill. She wasn’t even sure that he ever slept, so what use would human medicine be to him? She just doesn’t know, and feels suddenly frightened for him.
First things first; she has to get him out of here. She ponders – being of slender build he isn’t exactly heavy but Lucy is quite petite. She knows that she won’t be able to carry him all the way back to the car, especially in the stiletto boots, which she now regrets wearing.
She stifles a sob. Come on Lucy, she thinks. There must be a way... her eyes alight on a bundle of plastic sheeting. It looks like wrapping material for the machine... She straightens it out. Yes, if she can roll him onto that she could drag him along the corridors. But then what about the stairs, since the lifts are out?! What the hell is she going to do?
She looks at Harry again. Perhaps... would she be able to rouse him enough to get him to the car? It would seem to be the only way. She pulls him into a sitting position, and shakes him. His head rolls from side to side and he moans, but does not waken.
“Harry, please – you have to wake up! Come on – Harry!” she shakes him again; his eyes open a fraction, and then roll up in his head. He’d passed out again.
“Harrryyy!” in sheer fright and frustration, she slaps his face. His eyes fly open, and he draws in a shuddering breath. Blinking, he seems to have difficulty focusing and appears confused.
“What...” he groans, and seemed about to pass out again. Lucy grabs his chin and pulls his head to face her.
“Harry – it’s Lucy. Please, you have to stay conscious - I need to get you out of here and I can’t carry you!”
He opens his eyes again, but they’re still unfocused, and his face is screwed up in pain.
“Lucy? It shouldn’t be like this. Something’s wrong... “ He clutches at her, breathing heavily. “I need –“ his voice gives out and he falls back, coughing dryly. “Wat-“
“Water?” Lucy realises that he’s having difficulty swallowing.
He nods weakly, and Lucy looks around for a sink. Come on, all labs have a sink, don’t they? She finds it and fills a glass tumbler with stale, tepid water. Well, it would have to do for now.
Helping him to sit, she lifts the glass to his lips, tipping in only a little at a time lest he choke. He swallows gratefully, eventually pushing the glass away.
“That – is – disgusting!” He gasps, his body shaking violently. He gags but manages to keep the water down. His hair is soaked with sweat, which trickles down his face as he manages to focus on her at last. She tries ineffectively to wipe it away.
“Lucy – there you are.... help me up...” She does so, and finally he’s standing, leaning against her and swaying drunkenly.
“Can you walk?” She manages to get her arm under his, his arm around her shoulders. He clings to her so tightly she winces. But at least he’s on his feet.
He grins tightly, his face pinched with pain. “Have – to. Let’s go.”
Progress is painfully slow. Harry can hardly stay upright, barely managing to put one foot in front of the other. He grunts in pain with each step.
They eventually make it down the three flights of stairs to the fire escape and out into the cool night air. This seems to be the limit of Harry’s strength. His legs buckle and he sinks to the ground.
“I can’t –“ Anger, frustration and pain make his voice hoarse.
She kneels down and hugs him to her. “Harry, it’s alright. I’ll get the car. Just wait here.” As if he’s going anywhere!
Lucy drops a kiss on his brow. God, he’s really burning up now! She runs to the car, stopping only to use the wire cutters to make the hole big enough for a car. The Porsche bumps over the uneven ground, Lucy uncaring of the dents and scrapes her once-loved car collected on the way.
Somehow, she manages to get him into the passenger seat, where he collapses with a shuddering sigh into unconsciousness. She straps him in, not liking the pallor of his face one little bit.
Wrenching the car into gear, she drives home as fast as she dare, wary of attracting police attention. How would she explain the naked, delirious man in her car? Sorry Officer, he’s had a little too much to drink, I’m just taking him home... she begins to laugh and cry at the same time, and realises she’s close to hysteria. To have Harry back and lose him all over again... no, she won’t even think about it, she can’t. She has the feeling that her sanity hinges on his safe recovery, now.
Parking the car in the underground car park, she manages to rouse Harry enough to get him to the lift. Thankfully they encounter no one in the corridors, and with a sigh of relief Lucy pushes the door of her flat shut behind them.
She guides Harry into the bedroom where he sinks down onto the bed with a deep groan. Removing the coat, she draws the covers over him in and sits by his side as he shivers, sweats, moans and thrashes throughout the long night. She gets up only to fetch more water, most of which he vomits up again. She feels desperately tired but dare not sleep.
Finally, as dawn approaches, he seems to quieten. His body is no longer burning up, and his breathing has fallen into a steady rhythm. Exhausted, Lucy crawls into bed beside him. She’s asleep even before her head touches the pillow.
Bloody hell, but everything aches. Warily, The Master opens his eyes – at first he doesn’t recognise his surroundings then memory returns and he grins, only to wince as pain arcs through his head.
Of course – Lucy’s flat. How could he have forgotten? Faithful companion Lucy. It was here that he had first taken her – not that she remembered it, of course. As far as Lucy was concerned, he had “behaved himself” until their wedding night.... what quaint customs these humans had.
He manages to prop himself up on his elbows, and looks across to where Lucy sleeps the deep sleep of the utterly exhausted beside him. He has to admit, he’d underestimated her quite badly. She had shown a determination he wouldn’t have said she possessed, getting him out of the lab and back here. It wasn’t as if he had been forcing her – he’d barely been able to put one foot in front of the other, let alone control Lucy’s movements as he had done on previous evenings.
What had gone wrong? Regeneration was always painful, often debilitating and sometimes requiring a period of rest while the body settled in. But this... the pain had been excruciating, is still excruciating. He feels incredibly weak. He definitely shouldn’t be feeling like this. It had better have been worth it... carefully, he sits up, fighting sudden dizziness and nausea.
This regeneration process had been slightly different to the usual – storing his DNA and a copy of his life essence in the ring he wore had been a gamble, he knows. There was no guarantee that it would work, although all his research and calculations indicated no reason why it shouldn’t.
The Pod was based on the technology Professor Lazarus (with the Master’s funding and oh, alright, more than a few hints along the way) had used to reverse his age. The Master had borrowed a component of this in his laser screwdriver, enabling him to play around with the Doctor’s age.
The Doctor. Just the thought of how he was getting one over on the Doctor sends a pleasant fission through him and he chuckles, only to cough painfully. Ah well, time to see how I look in my new body, he thinks, and slowly makes his way to the bathroom, using the wall to support his still unsteady legs.
Lucy wakes with a start. The bed beside her is empty. Why wouldn’t it be? She thinks, before memory comes flooding back.
“NOOOOO!!!” An angry shout and the sound of splintering glass and objects hitting the tiled walls of her bathroom draw her out of bed. She tries to open the bathroom door, but it’s locked.
“Harry? Harry! Are you alright? What’s wrong? Open the door!”
She pounds on the door, which suddenly flies open. Harry staggers past her, and sits down heavily on the bed, his pale face a study in petulance and temper. He draws shaking fingers through his sweat-stiffened hair. “Look at me! Just look!”
Lucy looks. Saw nothing to concern her, save that he’s paler than normal and badly needs a shower. “What’s wrong?” She makes to sit beside him but he waves a hand in dismissal before leaping once more to his feet, wincing as muscles protest.
“It hasn’t worked! That’s what’s bloody wrong!” He turns to face her, eyes blazing. She shrinks back.
“What do you mean, it hasn’t worked? You’re here, aren’t you – wasn’t that the plan?” Lucy is confused.
“I wasn’t supposed to look like this!” He snarls. “What happened to the boy?”
He strides forward and gripsd her upper arms so tightly that she whimpers in pain.
“What did you do with him?” If she’s bungled it, messed it up –
“I – I didn’t do anything with him, Harry – he was in the machine, wasn’t he, in the other booth, with you. That’s where I found you...” she shrinks back, her heart pounding with fear. “He was dead, Harry – but you’re alright – “
He pushes her away, and she collides with the bedside table. A lamp crashes to the floor, the bulb shattering. He paces around the room, seething with impotent anger as Lucy gets shakily to her feet.
“No, I am NOT bloody “alright”, Lucy! I needed a new body, so no-one would recognise me. Everyone knows good old Harry Saxon - I won’t be able to go anywhere on earth now!”
Lucy feels confused and frightened. He’s ranting, and she doesn’t have a clue what he’s on about.
“Harry, you’re not making any sense. I don’t understand –“
“Of course you don’t bloody understand, you stupid bitch! How could you possibly?”
He sighs, runs a hand through his hair again, and seems to regain some control over his anger.
“I haven’t always looked like this “– he indicates himself. “This is my... oh, i dunno, I’ve lost count now, sixth regeneration? Might be sixteen or sixty – it hardly matters. But I should’ve changed form. That was the idea of the boy - he was a template. I didn’t regenerate in the normal way after you kindly killed me. Normally my own DNA chooses the format – blonde, dark, white, black – but because I had to hide myself in the Lazarus ring, I couldn’t fit everything in. I had to use Lazarus’s machine to create a body I could live in. Now d’you see?” He grimaces again, his already pale face blanching, and sits down suddenly on the bed.
“I suppose I can understand why you’d be known... but why hide in the ring? What is this “regeneration” process? What’s the point?” Lucy feels bewildered.
Harry rolls his eyes and mutters something intelligible. So many bloody questions! “Didn’t you pay attention to anything you overheadon the Valiant, Lucy? Or did you spend the whole bloody time in a drug induced torpor, waiting for me to notice you and give you a shag?” he sneers nastily, and puts his head in his hands.
Lucy gulps back tears. “Now hang on a minute – that’s bloody unfair, since it was your fault I became addicted in the first place!” she hisses. All of a sudden she feels furious with him – after all her efforts tonight, all her worrying about him, he has the nerve.....
“You can just bloody get out now! You ungrateful bastard!”
She runs to the wardrobe, grabs some of his clothes hanging there and flings them at him. Then she runs sobbing to the bathroom, and locks herself in.
The Master winces as one of the hangers catches his temple, the clothes fluttering to the bed around him. For once he’s momentarily speechless. He has never seen Lucy angry – she had been such a timid creature, easily manipulated and fearful of upsetting him. If he didn’t feel quite so unwell, her fury would be rather arousing. But right at this moment, sex is the last thing on his mind.
Another spasm of pain rips through him and his head spins alarmingly. What has gone wrong? Why has he returned to the same body he’d used as Harold Saxon? An alarming thought strikes him and he looks down at his belly, half-expecting to see a gaping bullet wound. Thankfully there’s nothing but a faint puckering of the skin, a little tenderness. Thank Rasillon; at least the flesh is healing. But why the pain, and why had the human died?
His plan had been to take over the boy’s body using the Chameleon Arch technology (carefully transferred from Yana’s fob watch). It would bury the human’s personality and let his own take over. It should have given him a even younger body than this one to use, with the added advantage that no-one would recognise him. But now here he was back in the Harry Saxon reincarnation, which appeared to have been reconstituted imperfectly.
Another thought strikes him – would he even be able to regenerate from this body, now that he has a corporeal form again? Or is it too damaged? Will he end up trapped in this body until it dies? Like a.... human?
He shudders, and reluctantly acknowledges his mistake in not regenerating on board the Valiant. He had been so angry with the Doctor. He had wanted only to get back at his fellow Time Lord, to defy him because the Doctor had wanted so much for them both to survive....
Pain spikes through him again and he realises with something like dismay that he’s losing consciousness.
“Lucy.... Please....” he groans as the room begins to spin and darken around him. He knows he’s falling, but is powerless to stop himself.
Lucy, sobbing in anger, is unaware of the Master’s collapse. She’d wanted so much for Harry to survive. She’d been hoping, she now realises, for the insane and cruel man he had become to have changed. , To be once more the sweet, charming Harry who had stolen her heart, and quite possibly her mind. She feels like a fool.
She gulps and looks at her reflection in the mirror – which now has a crack down the centre, splitting her image into two. She is a mess. Her face is pale, her eyes red and puffy. She looks every bit as exhausted as she feels. All she wants to do is shower and go to bed. She wants to sleep for a very long time and never have to think about Harry bloody Saxon ever again. Lucy turns the shower on, as hot as she can take it, and steps into the cleansing spray.
When Lucy steps from the shower a short time later she feels tired but slightly refreshed. She feels as if she has woken from a long nightmare. As she towels herself dry, she wonders if Harry’s ring has something to do with the lethargy and headaches she’d suffered over the past months. It certainly seems that way – now that she’s no longer wearing it and has given Harry his marching orders, she feels clear-headed and more like her old self.
She decided that she would refer to time now as BH, DH and AH – Before Harry, During Harry, and After Harry. She feels rather like a besotted teenager who has suddenly grown up. The thought amuses her, tired and shaken as she is, and she giggles a little as she opens the bathroom door and steps back into the bedroom.
The laughter dies on her lips – Harry hadn’t left, as she’d assumed, but is passed out cold on the bedroom floor. He looks worse than ever. The fever seems to have returned with a vengeance, and his lips have an alarming blue tinge to them.
Angry with him she might be, but Lucy realises that there is no way she can throw him out on the street in this condition – even assuming she could get him down there, which is unlikely without help as he’s deeply unconscious. So she straightens his limbs from the crumpled position into which he had fallen, placing the duvet around him as he shivers. Then she sits on the bed, watching him and considering her options.
She can hardly take him to a hospital – not only would they be confused by the double heart beat, but he would also probably be arrested for murder. But she knows nothing about his physiology. Perhaps even a simple aspirin would kill him? He’d never been ill since she had known him, apart from the headaches.
How is she to help him? Does she even want to? In spite of everything she realises, albeit reluctantly, that she does. But not for the Master – for her Harry, the man she’d fallen in love with.
Fetching water and a cloth, she sponges Harry’s forehead down when he burns, and wraps him in the duvet and lays beside him as he shivers. She manages to get only a little water into him, since he still can’t seem to keep it down, and she begins to be seriously worried. What if he were to die here in her bedroom? How would she explain his resurrection and subsequent death to the authorities? Would she be arrested for murder? As the afternoon wears on Harry grows weaker, and Lucy begins to despair.. Who could she turn to?
Martha. Martha would know what to do, surely – she had travelled with the Doctor; she must have some idea what made him tick. The Doctor and Harry were from the same planet, weren’t they? She searches through her handbag for her diary, and Martha’s phone number. Sitting on the bed with the phone in her hand, Lucy pauses.
She supposes she should have had known all along that Harry was not human, especially after he had revealed the Toclafane to her and explained his plan to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. He had made it plain enough, without going into detail about where he came from. If he’d had tentacles or pointy ears and green skin.... but he seemed so human in every way that mattered, and somehow she had managed to pretty much ignore his claimed alien origins. It hadn’t seemed to matter. Now, though, it might mean the difference between life and death for him.
Lucy suddenly realises that she felt sorry for Harry, or the Master, or whatever his name really was. If she took a step back and looked at him dispassionately he was a rather sad creature, wasn’t he? With his intelligence, he could have had so much. He could be strange and cruel, but was still inexplicably attractive. He didn’t need to do all those terrible things. Certainly not as far as she was concerned.
It was all about the Doctor, wasn’t it.... and he was ... well, again a little strange by human standards, perhaps. But the Doctor at least seemed sane if a little morose, as if he were carrying a huge weight on his shoulders. But poor Harry - well it’s obvious to Lucy now that he must be mentally ill in some way. It would explain so much. It’s obvious that he isn’t exactly normal for his kind, or by any standards.
Looking at the pale face of the man in her bed (she supposed she could still think of him as a man – he is definitely male, that much is certain) Lucy makes her decision. He might not thank her for it –in fact she feels certain that he won’t – but even if she saves Harry only to see him end up behind bars, well, at least he will be alive. Perhaps he can be treated. And if he is every bit as intelligent and resourceful as he seems to be, she feels sure he will find a way to make something positive out of it. She just hoped it wouldn’t mean the loss of more innocent lives. But that was a chance she’d have to take, if she wanted to save his life. She flipped open the phone.
“You’re kidding me!” Martha’s reaction is rather predictable. “Lucy, you are joking, right?”
“No, I’m serious, Martha. He’s here, in my flat. And he’s very ill. I think he’s dying.”
Martha is about to say “No more than he deserves!” When her conscience steps in. Even the life of a homicidal maniac is sacrosanct. OK, so all the people he’d murdered during that year are actually alive, but the intent was there... Martha swallows. She has to help. But no way is she ever going to mention it to her family. They would never approve. Martha isn’t even sure if she approves herself, but it can’t be helped.
“How long has he been like this?” Martha is, in spite of her training, shocked by the Master’s condition. He looks far from dangerous now – he seems so thin, his skin pale and dry, the lips cracked.
They carefully lift him back onto the bed and Lucy explains how she’s tried to keep him hydrated but that he’s sweating so much, and seems unable to keep even water down. She hadn’t tried anything else, for fear of poisoning him.
“I doubt you’d do that, Lucy – Time Lords usually have a very strong constitution, if the Doctor is anything to go by. He can eat anything. Although I don’t think he drinks alcohol. Or not very often, anyway.”
“Harry does – or did. It didn’t seem to affect him very much though – I think he just liked the taste of it. Sometimes he used to take it for his headaches....” Lucy recalls the many times that he drank her under the table, without showing any sign of drunkenness.
Martha hadn’t known that, although she had heard the Master speak of “The drums” as he lay dying in the Doctor’s arms. She filed the information away; it might come in useful later on.
Martha had bought her medical kit with her, and now she busies herself unwrapping syringes.
“I’ll need to take some bloods,” she explains. “I’m not entirely sure what’s normal for him, but he must have certain similarities to us otherwise he wouldn’t be able to eat our food, for instance.”
She wraps a tourniquet around Harry’s upper arm as he thrashes weakly in his delirium.
“Hold his arm still, please; I’ll do this as quickly as I can.” She taps the inside of Harry’s elbow to raise a vein, since the circulatory system at least seems similar to humans. Harry flinches as she inserts the needle and Martha tenses, hoping he won’t struggle and break the needle off in his arm; but Lucy murmurs in his ear and strokes his hair and he quietens.
“Have you never had to treat the Doctor?” Lucy wants to know.
“No – he’s disgustingly healthy, that one! What happened to cause this?”
The hesitation is momentary, but Martha picks up on it and frowns.
“I’m not sure.” For reasons even she isn’t sure of, Lucy hesitates to tell Martha the whole truth. “He ... he just turned up on my doorstep, looking dreadful. What could I do? I couldn’t turn him away.”
Martha notes the Master’s lack of clothing. Well, it seems he couldn’t have been too ill when he “turned up” at Lucy’s, she thinks. She has good reason to remember the seemingly insatiable urges of the Master. She firmly pushes the memory aside.
“But he was dead, Lucy! I saw him. I checked his vitals – both hearts had stopped. And the Doctor burned his body. I mean, I know that Time Lords can regenerate - but not, as far as I know, from ashes.” Martha caps the final phial of blood, labels it, and stows it away in her kit. She stands up.
“I just don’t understand this regeneration business, Martha. What does it mean? Harry talked about it going wrong for him. He seemed to think he should look different. He had - “ Lucy stops short of mentioning the dead man at the lab. The body is probably still there... Lucy shudders.
“Well... from what I understand, if he’s fatally injured he can regenerate instead of dying. I haven’t actually seen it happen so I don’t know exactly how it works, but I do know that his previous body was older. I think they sort of... reshuffle themselves into a different set of genes, but the personality stays the same. The Doctor is actually 900 years old, and he doesn’t look a day over thirty!” Even now, the fact of it still startles Martha whenever she thinks too deeply about it. This isn’t often.
“Oh.” Lucy thinks about this for a minute or two, while Martha washes her hands and prepares to leave. “So, when one body wears out, they just... grow a new one?!” It’s the oddest thing Lucy has ever heard.
“I suppose that’s a good way to put it. Beats me how they do it, though.” She makes for the door.
“I’m going to go and run these tests now. It shouldn’t take long – while I’m gone just keep trying to get some fluid into him. As soon as I know what’s flowing in those veins I’ll be back with an IV and we’ll get him properly re-hydrated. Then hopefully his body should do the rest.”
She looks Lucy in the eye, putting a hand on her arm.
“I’m really glad to see you’ve recovered so well, Lucy.” She looks towards the bedroom and its occupant. “But – take care; you know what I’m saying? Just – be careful of him. He might be helpless now, but if he recovers... well, we both know what he’s capable of. I doubt he’s changed.”
He hasn’t, Lucy thinks, but all she says is “I know, Martha. But I’m not the helpless little woman he seduced three years ago, anymore. I was on the verge of throwing him out when he collapsed, to tell you the truth.” Well, it’s close enough to the truth.
Ah, so now we’re getting there, Martha thinks. She would have liked to have seen Lucy stand up to the Master. She smiles warmly at her.
“Good for you. I’ll be back as soon as I know what we can do for him, okay? You take care.” Impulsively, she hugs Lucy, who looked exhausted. “Try and take it easy, if you can – if his condition changes for the worse before I get back, ring me, okay? But I won’t be long.”
The flat seems very quiet after Martha’s departure. Lucy pours more fresh water, and returns to the bedroom. The cover she had wrapped around him had come adrift as he’d thrashed about in his fever. He moves restlessly on the sweat-soaked sheets, his hair plastered wetly to his skull. The smell of sweat is overpowering, and Lucy feels that she should at least make him more comfortable. Fetching a facecloth, towels and a bowl of warm, soapy water, Lucy sets about her task.
She’s shocked to see how thin he’s become since she’d last seen him on the Valiant. He is neither as tall nor as slender as the Doctor but then his compact body had been firmly toned, as if he worked out every day, although she never saw him doing so.
Now he’s painfully thin, a shadow of his former self. She starts with his hair, unable to resist running her hands through its once silky smoothness. Its dull and lifeless now. Are those grey hairs? Towelling it dry lest he become chilled, she briskly tends to his upper torso, and tucks a warm towel around him when she’s done.
Moving downwards, she pats his flaccid member dry and can’t help but remember the heady days of their early relationship, when Harry had courted her with an almost manic intensity. He had been the perfect gentleman during their brief, whirlwind engagement, she recalls.
But once his ring was on her finger that had all changed... She flushed, remembering the inventiveness of his love-making and the way he’d taken her to heights of passion she’d never before imagined. He loved to push the boundaries of respectability – Lucy remembers all too vividly a private box at the Opera, and how Harry had managed to keep up his energetic ministrations for the entire first half. Their flushed and slightly dishevelled appearance in the bar during the interval caused more than a few raised eyebrows, but of course nothing was said. Harry had found it vastly amusing. So, of course, had she.
She sighs, and fetching a clean duvet from the closet, she tucks it around him. Placing a pillow behind him, she cradles his head, raising a cup of water to his dry lips.
“Harry, try to drink this. It will help.”
His eyes open blearily, gulping at the cool water. When he seems to have taken enough, she lowers his head back to the pillow. She puts the cup on the nightstand and turned back as he violently spews up the water he’s just swallowed. Wiping his lips and putting a towel over the worst of it she can do little but sit with him as he enters another feverish phase, pushing the coverings aside distractedly.
It seems odd and somehow not quite right at all, to see the normally hyperactive Harry lying so weak and pale, his acerbic tongue silent. He seems smaller and not at all threatening now. As she places the cold flannel on his clammy brow, she wonders if he will ever get the chance to insult her again. Well if he does he’ll be in for a surprise; she isn’t going to put up with it anymore. She realises that she would rather die than become that pathetic creature she used to be.
Harry moans and tosses restlessly, as if sensing her thoughts.
As Martha left Lucy’s flat, she was deep in thought. She knew that there was something Lucy wasn’t telling her, but she had been so pleased to see the change in her that she’d decided to let it go, for now. The most pressing matter was what to do about the Master.
Martha knows that she should probably put Torchwood in the picture, because the Master being back on Earth can only mean trouble. Torchwood is probably the only organisation that can properly deal with him, apart from the Doctor.
As for the Doctor – he deserves to know that the Master has somehow survived, doesn’t he? He had seemed like a broken man after the Master’s death on the Valiant. When Martha had told him of her decision to stay behind with her family, part of her felt as if she was betraying him when he needed her most. But having discovered the Doctor’s true age, and learning more of his history, she knows that he is quite capable of looking after himself. Even though he would have preferred her company, he is a survivor. If he felt differently, he wasn’t admitting it to her.
Martha had realised that at the end of the day, your family are the most important thing of all. She was very sorry that the Doctor no longer had a family, or even anyone of his own kind; but lets’ face it, she thinks – he and the Master had been the cause of all the trouble to start with. If the Doctor hadn’t been so fond of Earth, the Master would not have targeted it, and she wouldn’t now need to help her family through the trauma of that terrible year. And Martha had made her own life with Tom.
The Doctor would be just fine, like he always was. But he should know about the Master. And sooner rather than later, she thinks.
“We need to bring him here, Martha, and soon, before the bastard disappears again!”
Jack’s reaction is not unexpected. Martha had decided to run the blood tests there, rather than at the hospital – much faster, and fewer questions asked.
“Jack, I’m telling you, he’s not going anywhere at the moment. He’s unconscious, and if he was human I’d be calling his family!”
“Bloody hell, that’s one sick bugger!” was Owens’ considered opinion as he peered over her shoulder at the blood results. Martha has to agree with him. Trouble is, she doesn’t know quite how to change that, she admits to herself. There is something very strange going on in the Master’s blood, and she needs the Doctor to explain it to her – if he can.
“Need any help?” Owen offers. His curiosity is clearly piqued by the conversation and the odd test results.
“No thanks, Owen. We can manage just fine.” Jack answers before Martha can even open her mouth. There is no way Jack wants his team exposed to the Master, she realises.
Martha raises an eyebrow at Jack as she snaps off the monitor and removes the disc, placing it in her kit.
Jack is not finished. “So – you’re just gonna make it all better for him, and let him waltz off into the sunset to practise a little more homicidal mania, is that it?” He paces restlessly.
“I didn’t say that, Jack – obviously I know he has to be dealt with, and Torchwood may be the best way of holding him temporarily, once he’s in better shape. But he’s not exactly one of your wash-ups from the Rift, is he – and I know the Doctor would want a say in what happens to him. We owe him that.” As she speaks, Martha is pulling various items from Torchwood’s medical supplies. She quickly checks them off against the list in her head, and snaps her medical kit shut, preparing to leave. Jack steps in front of her, blocking her exit.
“We don’t owe the Master anything, Martha, and you know it – except maybe a bullet to the brain. And if you mean we owe it to the Doctor – Jeez, Martha, you know just how cut up he was when he thought the guy was dead. What will it do to him if you let him know the Master didn’t die after all? Oh wait – he might still die on us, so then the Doctor gets to go through that all over again.”
“I hear what you’re saying, Jack, and I don’t disagree. I just think we ought to give the Doctor the option, that’s all. Now, I’ve got to get back to Lucy – it’s about her, too, y’know. She’s made a really good recovery, considering, and I don’t want to do anything to damage that. Now, are you going to let me go?”
Jack steps aside. “I’m coming with you, Martha. I don’t trust that guy as far as I could throw him – and believe me, I would love to throw him a long, long way away from here!”
Martha knows when she’s beaten. “OK. But remember what I said about Lucy. At the moment, she’s also my priority, okay?” She shoves her car keys into his hand. “You drive; I’m going to call the Doctor.”
They arrive at Lucy’s flat just as dusk is beginning to fall. Snow is threatening, and Martha shiveres as she and Jack quickly cross the car park to the lifts. Suddenly she stops, and Jack nearly runs into her.
“What’s wrong?” Jack’s hand is on his revolver.
Martha points. “Look at Lucy’s car!” Jack follows the direction she’s pointing and lets out a low whistle.
“What the hell happened to it?” He circles the car, evaluating. “This is gonna cost a bomb to fix.”
The once pristine Porsche Boxter is a mess: deep scratches have gouged the paintwork along the length of both sides of the car. There is mud and grass embedded in the tyre treads, and even stranger, the passenger door is not quite shut.
“That’s really odd – Lucy loves that car! She once told me that she was really nervous when Harry drove it.” Martha hadn’t noticed the damage to the car earlier, but the underground car park had been busier then, so it had probably been hidden by another car.
Jack pulls open the passenger door. Muddy footprints were in evidence on both passenger and driver carpets, and the black leather of the passenger seat is smudged. Jack sniffed. “Smells like dried sweat to me, “ is his opinion.
Martha frowns. “I bet she brought the Master here in the car,” she muses. “But she told me he’d just turned up more or less on her doorstep. Why would she lie about that?” I knew there was something she wasn’t telling me.
Jack shuts the car door. “Let’s go find out.”
Lucy answers the door quickly, a smile of relief lighting up her wan features. “Martha, thank goodness! Oh.” the smile disappeared as she realises Martha has company.
“It’s okay,” Martha tells her. “Jack was just worried that he might recover and cause trouble, that’s all.” Martha shoots Jack a warning look at his muttered “that’s putting it lightly”.
“Well, alright...” Lucy follows Martha and Jack into the bedroom. “I’ve tried to get him to drink but he still can’t keep it down. I didn’t know what else to do...”
The Master looks dreadful, Martha sees. His skin is grey, and the flesh seems to have melted off him in the short time since she’d last seen him. His breath comes in slow, laboured gasps. Even Jack is shocked into silence, as he stands over the ailing Time Lord.
Martha is shocked to realise how much weight the Master had in do short a space of time. He is almost skeletal. She wishes that Jack hadn’t stopped Owen from accompanying them. After all, he’s been qualified a lot longer than she has, and wouldn’t be fazed by the Master’s alien physiology.
“Can you open the wardrobe door, please, Lucy?” Martha quickly sets up an IV line into the Master’s right arm, and hangs it from the open door. “We need to get some fluids into him quickly” she explains to Lucy, who nods anxiously.
“So what’s the diagnosis, Doc?” Jack calls from the kitchen, where he has retreated to make coffee, feeling that he was in the way in the bedroom. Lucy looks as if she’s about to join the Master on his sick-bed, Jack thinks. Some caffeine might help.
Martha takes her time answering, aware of Lucy’s hopeful gaze. “Well, he’s severely dehydrated. I can’t imagine how he got to this stage –if he was human, he’d be dead by now.” She looks straight at Lucy. “Did he say where he’d been since the Valiant?”
Lucy looks away, and swallows nervously.
“Well, no – not really. He just... turned up.”
Martha shares a glance with Jack. “Yeah, so you said before. But I’ve got to be honest with you Lucy; I can’t see him being able to walk anywhere in this condition. Not without help.” She prepares a syringe, drawing clear fluid from a phial and expelling the air. Swabbing an area on the Master’s left arm she deftly empties the contents of the syringe into it.
“That should help his breathing.” She explaines, for Lucy’s benefit. When Lucy remains silent, Martha looks across at her, to see tears silently coursing down Lucy’s cheeks.
“Hey, come on now.” Putting the empty syringe down, Martha steers Lucy into the lounge, sitting them both down on the settee. “Jack, would you mind – “ she nods towards the bedroom. “Let me know if his condition changes?” With a curt nod, Jack leaves the room.
Lucy watches Jack’s exit warily. It’s obvious that she doesn’t trust him not to hurt Harry.
Martha puts an arm around Lucy’s shoulders. “What’s really going on, Lucy? Jack and I saw your car...”
“Oh. I’d forgotten about that,” Lucy gulps.
“So are you going to tell me what really happened?”
Lucy’s eyes flick toward the bedroom and back again. Her fingers twist the wedding ring she still wears.
“You know you can trust me, don’t you Lucy?” Martha presses.
“Yes, it’s just – well, I think he “– she nods towards the bedroom – “would rather like to kill Harry...”
“He won’t. We have an agreement.” Martha mentally crosses her fingers. “He just wants to be sure there’s no danger, to you or anyone else.”
“He’s not exactly dangerous at the moment, is he, Martha?” Lucy begins to sob in earnest. “I was beginning to think I was over him, over it all, you know...”
“Yeah, I know. So – what happened? Please – it could have a bearing on his condition, you know. Without all the facts, I could misdiagnose.”
Lucy swallows audibly, and shakily begins to recount the events of the previous day. Martha becomes aware that Jack is standing by the bedroom door, listening in.
“So he didn’t properly regenerate?”
“I – I don’t know. I don’t think so, from what he said. He said he should look different, have a different body... But because he’d used the ring, he couldn’t... “
Lucy struggles to remember Harry’s exact words.
“He couldn’t fit everything in, was how he put it. So he had to use – oh God – he had to use someone else’s body....”
She shudders, and Martha squeezes her hand encouragingly.
“But that didn’t work – he – the young man – he died. And Harry came back looking the same. He was quite upset about it.”
“Yeah, I’ll just bet he was,” Jack steps into the room. “Martha, you know what I think –“
Martha stands abruptly.
“Yes, I know, Jack, and you’re probably right. But he’s not in any condition to be moved at the moment.” She pushes past him into the bedroom.
Checking the Master’s pulse, which seems to have steadied a little, Martha has to admit that it does seem as if the Master had been intending to get up to no good. She pulls back an eyelid – eyes still rolled right back into his head, so he isn’t about to leap up and murder them all just yet. Martha isn’t sure if that is good or not. Good for them, yes, probably not for him. But his breathing has eased somewhat, which had to be a good sign. She checks the IV bag, and sets about replacing it.
What she hasn’t told either Lucy or Jack was that the Master’s blood is not at all good, as far as she can judge it. It’s very thin, and aside from the fact that he is very dehydrated and seems to be lacking a number of essential minerals and salts common to all carbon based life, Martha would have said that he appears to be ageing at an alarming rate. She remembers the horrific aging process he had subjected the Doctor to on board the Valiant. This seems to be a similar process but at a much slower rate. His pulse is thin, but seems to be holding steady for the moment. Placing the thin hand back on the blanket, she pulls out her mobile. She’d been unable to raise the Doctor on the way here, but knows that he could well hold the key.
“Martha!” The Doctor’s cheery tones, at top volume, make Martha wince and pull the phone away from her ear. So he isn’t alone, then – she could always tell by the sound of his voice if he had company or not.
“Doctor! Got you at last! I’m not interrupting anything, I hope?” she stalls, wondering how to phrase what she has to tell him.
“Nooo..well, maybe... just a teensy bit....so, what’s up?” As always, he’s quick to pick up that Martha’s humour is forced. He is very astute, Martha recalled, but only when it suites him.
“Doctor... um... I don’t quite know how to tell you this...”
“You’re not inviting me to a wedding, are you? ‘Cos I don’t ‘do’ weddings, Martha... too many relations for my liking! All that argy-bargy... ‘sides, you don’t need me... spare p –“
“Doctor! Will you just shut up and let me get a word in?” Martha has almost forgotten how simply exasperating he could be at times. As if he were trying to put off the moment of truth. As well he might, she thinks.
“Sorry, Martha, sorry. Go on then. What’s wrong? You only call me when...” as if realising he might have gone too far, the Doctor’s voice tails off.
Martha swallows. “I’m at Lucy’s’. Lucy Saxon.” Martha bites back the urge to say “You remember her?” and listens to open air on the Doctor’s end. Funny how silence can say so much...
“And?” the Doctor’s voice is suddenly hard.
Martha glances across at the prone figure on the bed.
“Doctor, it’s the Master. He’s –“
“Martha, please don’t.” The timbre of the Doctor’s voice tells Martha that he was far from recovered. Probably locking it all away as usual, Martha thinks.
“But he’s here, at Lucy’s flat. And he’s – “ The line has gone dead on her. Martha looks at the phone in her hand in surprise. He hung up on her! She redials, gets voice mail, dials again, gets voice mail again. The third time she leaves a message.
“Doctor, don’t you dare hang up on me, d’you hear?! I’m trying to tell you – the Master is back, he still looks like Harry Saxon, and he’s very ill. I think he may be dying. Lucy says he was hiding in her ring, his ring. He had Lucy take him – it – to LazLabs, but something went wrong. I’m doing my best but I don’t think he’s going to make it. We need your help –“ the sudden beep tells her she’s run out of time. She sighs and flips the phone shut. He would either listen to her message or not; she had done her best. She looks at the Master, who is stirring feebly and muttering incoherently.
“Well, “Harry”, the Doctor knows. I hope for your sake that he gets here in time.”
As if he’d heard and understood her, the Master moans one word. “Doctor...” before falling silent again.
Martha finds Lucy dozing fitfully on the settee, Jack pacing restlessly around the room. “She just kinda – passed out on me. Must be losing my touch,” he intones darkly. “So – what’d the Doctor say?”
Martha plonks herself wearily in a soft chair, and sighed. “I don’t know if he’s coming, Jack. He hung up on me as soon as I mentioned the Master. I don’t know what to think. I left him a message.”
Jack stops his pacing and crouches down in front of her, his hands on the chair. “He’ll be here, Martha. You can count on that. The Doctor and him “ – a sharp jerk of his head to the bedroom – “ are like this. “He holds up tightly crossed fingers. “They may love and hate each other in equal measure, but he won’t leave him to die.”
“I hope you’re right, Jack. But he’s never hung up on me like that before, or refused to answer the phone. He switched it off!”
“Might’ve dropped it in shock, y’know. Probably trying to fix it right now...” Jack sits back in the other armchair, and yawns hugely.
Martha can just see the picture Jack has cleverly painted for her, and is forced to smile in spite of herself.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, Jack.” She sighs. “I don’t know what more I can do, though. It’s as if he’s aging, just like the Doctor did ... “ she stops, not wanting to relive that particular memory.
“Probably just his past catching up with him.” Jack is unsympathetic, and Martha knows that he won’t need much excuse to end the problem of the Master once and for all, in the most final way possible.
“Yeah, yeah, I know – life is precious and all that. But ... Martha, some lives just are beyond the pale, y’know? When I think of what he did to those people - to you, to me... to Lucy, here... somehow I don’t wanna save the guy’s life. If it wasn’t for the Doctor, I swear I’d....”
“You’d what, Jack?”
Jack and Martha shoot up out of their seats. “Doctor!” Martha gasps, and rushes to hug him.
“Hey, Doc.” Jack acknowledges the Doctor warily.
“Come on, Jack. What would you do if it weren’t for me?” The Doctor’s voice is hard edged. He pushes past Jack and into the bedroom, only to stop with a small sound of shock.
“What - ” he steps up to the bed, and puts his hand on the Master’s forehead, his brow creased in concern. “Martha!” he yells, and whirls, only to find her standing right behind him. “How long has he been like this? How long?!”
“I’m not certain. Lucy called me around lunchtime, but he’s been here since late last night I think.”
The Doctor slaps his forehead in exasperation. “And you didn’t think to call me until now?”
“Hey, hang on mister – I tried ringing you earlier, couldn’t get a reply, I couldn’t even get voicemail the first time!”
“Oh. Ok. Sorry. Bit preoccupied with – never mind.” He flings back the covers, stops, swallowing as further evidence of the Master’s physical deterioration becomes obvious.
“Has he got clothes?”
The Doctor strides over to the wardrobe, almost tripping over the abandoned suit that Lucy had thrown at the Master. It now lays crumpled on the floor. “Ah. This’ll do. Help me, Martha, quickly.”
“You’re not moving him, surely? He’s much too sick –“ Martha catches the shirt the Doctor flings at her.
“He’s going to be a lot sicker if we don’t get him to the TARDIS very soon. Come on!”
The Doctor is busily pulling trousers over the Master’s legs. He winces as he fastened the Master’s belt on the narrowest hole. The trousers still seem too big for his shrunken waist. Martha manages to get one arm into the shirt, ripping the other sleeve so that she can feed the IV bag through it. The Doctor holds the Master upright while she slips the shirt over the other arm, and fastens some of the buttons. The Doctor paces backwards and forwards as she does this, muttering to himself.
“If the DNA is unstable...” he stops, looked at Martha. “Has he killed anyone?”
“I’m afraid so. Just one as far as I know. A young guy whose body he was planning to use.”
“Hm. I’ll probably need to see the body. But let’s get him back to the TARDIS for now. Jack!” he hollers.
Jack appears in the doorway.
“I’ve got to get him to the TARDIS. Can you help me lift him?”
“Are you taking Harry to hospital?” Lucy appears, bleary-eyed, beside Jack.
“Yes, sort of.” Martha answered, since no-one else seemed to want to.
“I’m coming with you.” Lucy looks past them, to the still figure on the bed. “Oh .... He looks so much worse!” She tries to go to him but the Doctor grabs her arms.
“Lucy. I’ve got to take him to my ship. He needs treatment. It’d be better if you waited here.”
“No!” Lucy’s eyes fill with tears.
“Doctor!” Martha’s tone is a warning. The Doctor spins, to see Martha leaning over the Master.
“He’s stopped breathing! Help me!”
She tips the Master’s head back to clear the airway, and begins mouth to mouth resuscitation. The Doctor places his hands on the Master’s chest and at Martha’s nod, pushes down, hard, first one hand, and then the other. They continue for what seemed like an eternity, until suddenly the Master draws a gasping breath. His eyes shoot open briefly, and then slide shut again.
“If we’re going, we’ve got to go now. It could happen again, any time, “ Martha warns them. Jack strides to the bed, deftly lifting the Master. “Come on then, let’s go. Doc, where’s the TARDIS?”
“Car park, where else?”
They follow Jack into the corridor, taking the stairs two at a time. Martha tries not to imagine the result should Jack miss a step. They clatter down the stairs and out into the car park. The familiar blue box stood quietly in a space all its own. The Doctor put his key in the lock and flung open the door, rushing over to the central console. He began frantically unscrewing plates, opening up panels in the central console.
“Lay him just here, please, Jack, next to me.” He seemed not to have even noticed that Lucy had followed them in, and was standing miserably just inside the door.
Jack lowered the unconscious Master to the floor, unable to prevent his head hitting the grating with a thump. “Oops, sorry, buddy. Guess he’ll have a headache when he wakes.”
“That’s the least of his worries right now; believe me, “ the Doctor muttered, frantically banging about under the grating.
“I want everyone out! Now!” Seeing their hesitation, he shouted; “This is dangerous! Out! Now! Please!”
“Doctor – Let me help –“ Martha began.
“You won’t help me or him by dying! Please, Martha – just trust me?”
She nodded, albeit reluctantly, and followed Jack, who was guiding a tearful Lucy firmly back through the door. As Martha turned to pull it shut it behind them, she saw a golden glow start to spread within the ship, and blinked. It was so bright! She couldn’t imagine what the Doctor was going to do, but it rather looked to her as if he had exposed the heart of the TARDIS.
This is more or less exactly what the Doctor had done. He plunged one hand into the TARDIS core, shivering as her cold heat began to burn his skin. Taking one of the Master’s limp hands in his, he set his jaw and waited.
The glow crept up his arm, and began to suffuse his shoulder before creeping across his chest, towards the opposite arm. He closed his eyes in concentration, wincing as the power burned him. As the light flowed down his arm and across onto the Master’s hand, the Doctor began to shake with the effort of holding the energy flow, trying to stop it spreading all over his body.
He needed to contain the energy, to make sure it didn’t smother him. He’d be no use to the Master if that happened. He needed just enough of the TARDIS’ life force to restore life to the dying Master; no more, no less. It was a fine balance, and one he was struggling to maintain.
He remembered the last time he’d done something similar, when Rose had looked into the heart of his ship, and had absorbed the power of the Time Vortex. He’d had to draw it back out into himself before it killed her, causing that incarnation to regenerate. He wondered if the same thing would happen again; perhaps both he and the Master would regenerate. Or perhaps they would both die. I’m sorry for everything, Martha, he thought, as he began to lose consciousness.
Jack, Martha and Lucy waited anxiously outside the TARDIS.
“How long will this take?” Martha wondered.
“As long as it takes, I guess,” Jack offered.
“Is Harry going to die?” Lucy wanted to know. Martha and Jack looked at each other, but before either of them could answer they were startled by a blood-curdling scream from within the TARDIS.
Martha rushed to the TARDIS. But before she could open the door, Jack was pushing past her.
“Let me do this!” The door slammed behind him.
Martha pushed at the door but Jack had flipped the lock. It had always slightly amused Martha that here was a fantastic ship which could fly through time as well as space, and the only security comprised an old-fashioned snick lock. She’d often wondered at what point during his travels the Doctor had decided that it would be just the thing to secure the TARDIS against intruders. If we aren’t all murdered by the Master, she thought, she really was going to have to ask him.
The light was blinding, but Jack shielded his eyes with one arm and managed to make his way to where he knew the console was situated. At first he couldn’t see anything; then as the light began to dissipate, he saw them.
Both Time Lords were unconscious, lying side by side under the console. A panel was open on the console above them, from which the glow of the TARDIS energy streamed and swirled around them. Jack knew he had probably only seconds to act. Grabbing the Doctor by the feet, he pulled him away from the console. The Doctor had been gripping the Master’s hand, but there was no resistance as Jack pulled the Doctor away.
Jack went back to the console, looked around for the cover that would seal away that terrible light. Finding it, he slammed it back into its rightful place, wincing as the tendrils of vortex energy coiled around him. Where it touched his skin, it burned white hot, and he winced, looking away from the heart of the TARDIS.
He knew what had happened to Rose, and how she had inadvertently made him immortal. He didn’t know what would happen to him if he were to look into that power house now but had no wish to find out. The Doctor wasn’t in any position to help him if he got into difficulties; in fact he looked in need of some help himself. The hatch slid into place with a decisive clunk, and he reluctantly turned to the other Time Lord. Not so sure that I want to save you, though, he thought.
Was it his imagination, or did the Master’s features seem to be filling out a little? Yes, there was a definite improvement. Jack hurriedly went in search of something with which to restrain him before he regained consciousness. Finding nothing remotely useful, he shrugged out of his greatcoat, and pulled the blue shirt over his head. Ripping it into strips he rolled the Master onto his stomach and tied his hands behind him, jerking the knot tight with satisfaction. “Get out of that, if you can!”
Then he turned his attention to the Doctor, who was still out cold, but breathing normally. Jack wondered how long he should wait before he ought to start worrying. It didn’t take long to find out.
The Master groaned, and Jack went to stand over him. The Time Lord seemed groggy, but definitely much improved from his earlier condition. His eyes flickered open. Seeing Jack (or rather Jack’s legs, since he still lay face down on the deck) towering menacingly over him, the Master’s lip curled in derision.
“Why, it’s the Freak....I’d recognise those scruffy boots anywhere.... What a disappointing welcome back from the dead.” Suddenly realising that he was bound, the Master snarled in frustration, struggling upright to a sitting position. The effort seemed to leave him weak, and he panted, his face paling.
“Where’s Lucy? What have you done with her, you bastard –“
In a flash, Jack was in the Master’s face, snarling back, his finger stabbing the Master’s shoulder to emphasise every word. He ignored the wince that each contact elicited.
“Don’t you call me a bastard, you bloody maniac! And since when have you given a damn for Lucy’s welfare?”
The Master sneered at him, and Jack backhanded the Time Lord across the face. He went down with a thump, his head striking the side of the central console. He didn’t rise.
“Jack....Stop it!” Jack spun, to see the Doctor struggling to his feet, eyes blazing in fury.
Jack was at the Doctor’s side in a flash, helping him to stand. As soon as he was on his feet, the Doctor pushed Jack aside, and hurried to the Master’s side.
“I didn’t save him just for you to kill him again, Jack!” He lifted the Master’s head, probing the back of his skull where it had hit the console. His hand came away wet with blood. The Doctor turned furious eyes on Jack.
“Is this all you’re good for now, Jack? Hitting the defenceless when they’re already down?!” The Doctor was almost incandescent with rage.
“That’s unfair, Doctor, and you know it! I assume you heard the conversation?”
“Oh yes, I heard it alright. He taunts you, so you beat him senseless. I never took you for a bully, Jack.”
Jack was stung by the unfairness. “You know that’s not how it was!”
“I don’t know any such thing, Jack. Now please, get Martha back in here!” He ripped Jack’s make-shift handcuffs from the Master’s wrists, his lips compressing into a thin line as he registered the tightness of the bonds. He shook his head in exasperation. “Oh, Jack....”
“That’s not my name....” the Master croaked. He opened his eyes, saw the Doctor leaning solicitously over him, and a small smile played on his lips. “Ah, Doctor.... how nice to see you again... and in such intimate circumstances... “ he coughed dryly.
“Why do you do it? Why taunt him? “
“Because I can, and because its’ fun.... haven’t had much fun lately...” the Master reached up a hand to his wound, grimacing as he saw the blood. “He’ll pay for that...” he whispered.
“Oh stop it!” The Doctor had pulled a rather grubby handkerchief from a pocket, which he now used to try and staunch the flow of blood from the back of the Master’s head.
The Master winced. “I’m touched by your concern... and I suppose I should thank you for saving my life...” he winced again. “Except that I don’t think I will. Don’t feel like it.” He blinked groggily.
The Doctor regarded his fellow time lord with concern. “Not looking for thanks, actually, Master.”
“I like –“
“Just stop that, will you? “ The Doctor put a finger on the Master’s lips, as the other man’s eyes widened in surprise.
“- It when you use my name –“ the Master sagged against the Doctor, his eyes closing briefly in pain.
“What happened? Lucy said something went wrong with the regeneration?”
“Lucy... hmmm.” The Master drifted for a moment, and then suddenly tensed, eyes snapping open. “Where is Lucy?”
As he spoke, Jack, Martha and Lucy reappeared.
“Harry!” Lucy smiled uncertainly. “Oh – you’re bleeding! What happened?”
Harry blinked, looked at her appraisingly, appearing to have forgotten something.
“Oh yes – Lucy, have you got it?”
“Have I got what?” Lucy looked puzzled.
The Master sighed loudly, and winced again as Martha probed the wound.
“What do you think? The ring, of course!” He yelped as Martha dabbed antiseptic on the wound, and flung his hand up, knocking hers away. “Don’t bloody fuss!” he snarled, before falling back, his face suddenly paling.
Martha shone her flashlight into his eyes. He pushed her hand away again, shutting his eyes and swallowing as if fighting nausea.
The Doctor pulled Martha aside, his brow furrowing as he fought to make sense of the Master’s symptoms.
“Martha, I’m worried. He should be recovering by now. I’ve just given him a dose of energy from the Time Vortex which should have got him back up his feet, or at least caused him to regenerate. It hasn’t done either.”
“He does look better than he did earlier,” Martha observed, “but the head wound shouldn’t be causing this much trouble. He’s not concussed, either – pupil responses are normal. So what’s wrong with him?”
“I really don’t know. Hang on...”
The Doctor strode back to the Master’s side, where Lucy was now cradling his head in her lap. He was still conscious, but obviously in great pain.
“Master – “
“I like – “ the Master whispered.
The Doctor ignored him. “Master, pay attention! You asked Lucy if she still had the ring. What’s its purpose?”
“I need it.” He swallowed. “To complete the process.”
The Master ignored him, and looked up at Lucy.
“Ah, there you are... where’s the ring, my sweet?”
“It’s still in the machine, Harry. At the lab, do you remember?”
“Oh... Yes. Well....” he pushed himself up from her lap. “We have to get it.”
The Doctor grabbed the Master as his knees threatened to give way. “Which lab? Why do you need it?”
He steered the Master to the pilot seat, seating himself beside the other Time Lord, who was struggling to remain upright and conscious.
“Lazarus.... Why? I don’t know... I just do... why Doctor, this is very cosy...” and the Master giggled, his eyes sliding shut.
The Doctor shook him. “Stay with me, Master! Why do you need the ring? What does it contain?”
“I dunno... anymore... just want to sleep...” The Master’s head lolled against the Doctor’s shoulder.
“Oh bloody hell!” the Doctor muttered. “Martha – can you give him a stimulant? We’ve got to keep him awake so that he can help us work it out!” He slapped the Master’s cheeks, and was rewarded with a smile and a muttered, “Are you still here?”
Martha rummaged in her kit.
“We-ell, you’ll have to tell me if this is safe to give him, Doctor. Your physiology is similar to ours but there’s still a risk that he might have a reaction. I took some bloods earlier and he was very dehydrated. He also seemed to be ageing rather quickly.”
The Doctor barely glanced at the ampoule Martha was holding up, and nodded.
“It sounds as if the regeneration isn’t holding. Probably because he’s using the same template as before. We’re only supposed to use them once, you see. “ He ran a hand through his hair in frustration.
“Damn him, why didn’t he just regenerate on the Valiant?!?” All this just to spite me... he sighed.
“He-ee who would valiant be..eee...” the Master sang weakly. “I quite like that one, don’t you, Doctor? But then you’re a bit of a pilgrim, aren’t you....” he zoned out again, before jerking back with a visible effort. “Where’s Lucy?” He tried to rise, but fell back with a sigh.
Martha pushed the Master’s sleeve up, looking for a vein.
“The faster we get this into his bloodstream the better. Can you hold that up? Thanks –“ as the Doctor obliged, Martha deftly loaded the syringe. Finding a vein she slid the needle in, depressing the plunger steadily. The Master twitched, causing the needle to jerk.
“Damn!” Martha quickly pulled the syringe out, and applied pressure to the tiny puncture wound, from which blood was now welling. She jammed a cotton ball onto it. “Stick your thumb on that. Press hard,” she instructed the Doctor. “I’m going to inject the rest into muscle. At least the first dose will get him started. I hope.”
Jack had stood quietly during all of this. Now he came forward. “”I’m sorry, Doctor.”
The Doctor met Jacks’ gaze and held it. Finally he nodded, accepting the apology.
“I know the co-ordinates for the lab. We can go straight there.”
The lab was just as Lucy and Harry had left it the previous evening. And still cold.
“Martha, would you stay with the Master while Jack and I check this out?”
They had laid the Master on the deck, where he lay prone and silent. The stimulant did not seem to be having any affect at all, but Martha balked at trying a second. Too much could so easily kill him. Lucy sat, quietly miserable, her hands absently stroking the Master’s hair. He did not appear to know that she was there.
Martha had a feeling that this wasn’t going to end well.
The Doctor paced around the lab, homing in on the pod.
“It looks as if he’s cannibalised Professor Lazarus’ device. If in fact he didn’t build it to begin with.” He opened the pod door, stepped in. Seeing nothing in the first cubicle, he slid the second door aside.
“Oh dear.... “
Jack had followed up behind.
“You poor bastard.”
“As you say, Jack, as you say.” The Doctor quietly addressed the corpse, “I’m really sorry.” Reaching down, he carefully shut the young man’s eyes.
“I’ll have Toshiko take care of him, Doctor.” Jack said, not elucidating. Tosh would do what had to be done. It might not be pleasant, but at least his family would be spared knowing the true horror of their son’s death.
“So – what does this rig do?” Jack asked. “It’s damn cold in here,” He added, unnecessarily.
“Hhhmmmm - Well, I think it’s intended to merge the Master’s life force with a new body. Presumably this poor chap’s.”
“So why didn’t it work?”
“Well, If I knew that.... now, where is it?”
The Doctor paced around, poking and muttering to himself. He stepped outside the pod and walked all the way around it.
“It’s got to be here somewhere. Jack, see if you can find the Master’s ring – Lucy said it was here somewhere.”
“That signet ring he wore all the time on the Valiant?” Jack had noted it during his year of captivity, and saw how the Master would often finger it absently. He had obviously been planning this for some time.
“Yeah, that’s the one.” The Doctor answered from the depths of a drawer, where he had found what appeared to be schematics for the machine standing silent in the centre of the room.
The Doctor’s head jerked sharply around, to see Jack reaching for a small panel to one side of the Pod’s outer door control.
“Don’t touch it!”
Jack snatched his hand away as if burned.
“You sure know how to frighten a boy, Doc!”
The Doctor was by Jack’s side in two long strides.
“It might still be in flux. Touch that and any chance the Master has of surviving will be gone.” He got close to the ring, whose face was embedded neatly in a round slot the same size. Jack feared the Doctor was in danger of ignoring his own advice.
“Yep. It looks as if the process may not have completed. Wonder why?” The Doctor went back to the schematics. “Thing is, I wonder what will happen if we try again....”
Jack frowned, but kept his thoughts to himself. A sound from the open TARDIS door alerted him and he spun around, hand reaching for his revolver. He stopped in mid draw.
“Doctor.....” he said warningly.
When the Doctor and Jack had gone, Martha fetched her medical kit and pulled out a stethoscope. Putting the bell to the Master’s chest, she listened intently. Lub-lub-lub-dub. Lub-lub-lub-dub. Well, she supposed that might be normal, for a dying Time Lord. But not what she’d expect to hear in someone who had received the stimulant shot she’d just given the Master.
Give me a human any day, she thought. At least I know what’s normal. Should I risk another?
Lucy was still stroking the Master’s hair. “He’s not sweating any more, “ she observed quietly. “That’s bad, isn’t it?”
Martha had removed the IV line, since the bag was now empty. She’d left the others back at Lucy’s flat, but she had the feeling they wouldn’t have helped, now.
“It probably, is, Lucy. I’m sorry.” She pulled back an eyelid, shone her penlight into it. No response at all.
What the hell, she made a decision and reached for another phial of stimulant and a fresh syringe. He’s dying anyway. It will either make a difference or it won’t, there’s nothing to lose now.
“What are you doing?” Lucy asked. Her voice had lost its hopeful tone and she seemed resigned.
“He’s got nothing to lose now, Lucy. If this doesn’t work, I’m afraid nothing will. “
Martha expelled the air from the syringe, and pushed up a sleeve. Raising a vein, she slid the needle in, pressed home the plunger. No reaction, not even a twitch as the needle pricked the skin.
Martha lifted a wrist, felt for the pulse. Counted.... nothing. She looked up and met Lucy’s eyes. Placing the stethoscope on the Master’s chest, she listened. Deafening silence. Two minutes. Three minutes. Four minutes. She took the scope off.
“I’m so sorry, Lucy.”
The other woman drew in a deep, trembling breath. “I don’t think I am, anymore. I wanted to see him again so much. I thought it would be different. But it’s not. He’s not.” Despite her brave words, hot tears coursed silently down Lucy’s cheeks, splashing onto the Master’s face. She leaned over and gently kissed the Master’s forehead.
“Goodbye Harry. I loved you, do you know that? Even after... after... I still loved you. But I realise now, I was only ever a plaything for you. And the worst part of it is that I still miss you. Bastard!” She turned away, her shoulders quietly heaving.
Martha swallowed. Poor Lucy. And she still had to tell the Doctor. She went over to Lucy, steered the weeping woman to the pilot’s seat, sitting her down before she could fall down.
“Well,” Lucy sobbed, “At least I can stop waiting for him, now. “
Martha did not know what to say. She had comforted plenty of grieving relatives since qualifying, but what to say to a woman who has lost her husband twice in the space of a year? As she comforted the other woman, searching for the right words, she felt a presence behind her. A hand slid around her neck, something sharp nicking the skin. She gasped.
“How about – “Welcome back, Master”?” The Master’s velvet tones sent a shiver down her spine, his breath warm and very much alive on the side of her face as he murmured into her ear.
Martha gulped, her stomach churning in sudden fear. Beside her, she heard Lucy’s sharp intake of breath.
“Thank you Miss – or should I say Doctor? – Jones. A very timely intervention, I must say.”
Martha was frozen in shock and fear.
“Cat got your tongue, Martha? Lucy? My, what a sad little welcome party this is! Let’s go and find the rest of the gang – I’m sure they’ll be just delighted to see me!” He gave Lucy a little push, his lips curling in amusement as she stepped away from the seat, her head turning slowly to regard him in shock.
The Master kept his arm around Martha’s neck; it was one of her own scalpels, she realised, drawing a thin trickle of blood.
“Up you get, Doctor Martha. And I’d do it carefully, if I were you. This delightfully sharp little blade might slip, me just being out of my sick-bed and all...”
As Martha rose, feeling the press of the blade on her throat at every move, she berated herself for being so stupid for ever thinking it was safe to turn her back on the Master. She should have known better,
The Doctor looked up, the tone of Jack’s voice not quite preparing him for what he now saw.
Martha and Lucy were walking slowly out of the TARDIS. Lucy: blank-faced with shock and stepping carefully as if on eggshells. Martha with a knife held firmly to her throat by the grinning Master.
“Hi Guys! Bet you’re surprised to see me!” He pulled Martha to a halt, one hand still at her throat and the other placed around her waist, cupping one breast with undisguised enjoyment.
“Little Martha is a nice handful, isn’t she Doctor? But then you’ll remember that I have something of a soft spot for Doctor Jones. Well actually...” he winked lewdly, “It’s a hard spot at this moment! I find the near-death experience really does fill me with the urge to –“
“Why you–“ Jack took a pace forward in fury. The Master’s grin disappeared, and he pressed the scalpel to Martha’s throat, increasing the pressure. Her eyes widened and Jack could see the effort it took her not to move. Martha’s pulse raced in the curve of her throat. The trickle of blood increased.
The Doctor seemed frozen. “Master, please don’t do this. I can help. The ring –“
“Oh, have I told you, Doctor - I do so love it when you use my name? Of course I have. It really does make me want ... “ and he ground himself against Martha, holding the Doctor’s gaze as he did so. Martha’s arms flailed the air as she tried to pull the Master’s hand away from her throat. The Master hissed through gritted teeth. “Stand still you stupid girl! A dead hostage is no use to me! Lucy –stand with the freak, if you please.”
Lucy stumbled over to where Jack stood; hand on his holster but knowing he could never draw and fire in time to save Martha’s life. And he didn’t have a clear shot in any case.
“The gun Jack – if you please. Thank you.” The Master kicked the revolver, sent it spinning out of sight beneath a workbench.
“Now then Doctor. What were you saying?” The Master turned glittering eyes to the Doctor.
The Doctor glared at his fellow time lord.
“This is just so unnecessary. We’re quite prepared to help you, you know that. There’s no need to kill anyone else!”
“But Doctor, it’s so much fun! Besides, how do I know I can trust you? Do even know how this” he indicated the pod with a jerk of his head “works? I doubt it.” He blinked.
“I’ve looked over the schematics, yes, and I think I can see the problem. The cycle didn’t complete although I don’t yet know why. But remove that ring from the machine, and any hope you had of regeneration is gone.”
“Is that so?” The Master fell silent, appearing to consider the Doctor’s words.
Martha, however, realised that the stimulant shots she had given the Master seemed to be wearing off. The hand at her throat was beginning to tire; the pressure on her throat eased fractionally, allowing her to swallow at last. Thankfully the Mater’s arousal had also dissipated. Instead she felt a shudder run through his body as he stood close behind her and hoped that he would let go of the scalpel before he fell. She was surprised the stimulants hadn’t lasted longer, but she wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The Doctor and Jack, however, were unaware of the Master’s impending collapse. Lucy, as if sensing something, was clutching Jacks’ arm. Fear was writ large on her face, but she said nothing.
The Doctor looked searchingly at the Master. “Well? Are you going to put Martha down and help me to help you?”
The Master swallowed. “No, I don’t think I will. You work it out.” He blinked again.
Martha saw by the way that the muscles in Jack’s jaw suddenly tensed that he had picked up on the situation. She rolled her eyes frantically at him, trying to warn him, No, not yet! The Master’s legs were now trembling against hers with the effort of holding himself upright. The hand at her throat slipped a little lower. She made no reaction – the further away that blade was from her throat, the better. The Master must be aware of what’s happening to him, she realised. What would he do? Stand there until he keeled over? Or slit her throat out of spite? She wouldn’t put it past him.
Again the Doctor looked searchingly at the Master before he replied. I think he’s realised, Martha thought with a surge of relief.
“We-ell... For some reason, the process didn’t complete – “
“I know that!” the Master hissed. Sweat was now beginning to run down his face. “Get on with it!”
Martha could almost feel the fear radiating off him in waves. She swallowed. Won’t be long now...
“I don’t think you allowed a big enough processor for ...”
The Doctor’s voice trailed off as the Master swayed, the hand holding the scalpel wavering before returning to Martha’s throat. It was visibly shaking, now, and the blade caught the skin, Blood welled up. The Master blinked, sweat trickling into his eyes. He began to stagger backwards, Martha gasping as he pulled her with him towards the open TARDIS door.
“Oh no, you don’t!” In a flash, Jack was beside them, pulling Martha out and pushing her away to the side. The scalpel clattered harmlessly to the floor and Jack deftly caught the Master as he fell backwards.
“Get your filthy hands off me, freak!” The Master wasn’t done yet. He struggled futilely as Jack held his arms with ease.
“Martha – are you alright?” The Doctor dropped the plans and went to Martha’s side as she fought tears of relief and shock. He drew her to him in a all enveloping hug. “Easy, Martha, easy. You’re safe now.”
He looked over Martha’s head to where the Master and Jack stood. The Master had stopped trying to pull out of Jack’s grasp, and was almost leaning on him for support, blinking slowly. He was not smiling anymore.
“Jack, take him into the pod, please.”
Jack raised one eyebrow, but made no further comment.
“What are you going to do with me?” the Master croaked as Jack pushed him towards the pod.
Oh, how the mighty are fallen, thought Jack. Strangely, the thought didn’t give him any satisfaction.
The Doctor pulled Martha away from him, looked into her eyes.
“Martha, I need to sort him out. Will you be alright?”
She nodded. Lucy, who had stood silently throughout, stepped forward and steered Martha to a lab stool. “Now I can do something for you, Martha, “she smiled sadly, as she dabbed at the blood on Martha’s neck.
The Doctor joined Jack and the Master in the pod. The Master seemed close to passing out, and put up no resistance as Jack lowered him to the floor.
“You need this guy out of here?” Jack nodded toward the body of the Master’s victim.
“Please, Jack. There mustn’t be any other living creature in here with him.”
Images of the film “The Fly” crossed Jack’s mind. He wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even the Master.
When Jack had removed the body, he and Jack lifted the Master into the inner chamber, and lay him on the floor.
“Do we need to strip him?” Jack wanted to know.
The Doctor shot Jack a disbelieving glance, decided the question was genuine. “Not necessary.” He Doctor knelt down by the Master’s side. He shook him, gently, The Master’s eyes fluttered open, finding the Doctor’s face. He smiled weakly.
“Deja vu, Doctor...” he swallowed.
“Just be quiet for a moment, and listen to me.” The Doctor took his sonic screwdriver from a pocket.
“I’m going to use this to boost the processors. The ring is still in flux, so there should be enough residual energy to complete the cycle.”
“Will – I – regenerate?” The Master shuddered as pain ripped through him again. The Doctor gripped his hand, squeezed it.
“Honestly? I don’t know.” He cupped the Master’s face with the other hand, dropped a kiss on the other’s forehead, and stood up.
“Why, Doctor....” the Master whispered, his eyes sliding shut. His head lolled, and the Doctor choked back a sob. He pushed himself to his feet, his expression tortured.
“Come on Jack! We haven’t got long!” He turned on his heel and strode through the door.
Jack stepped through the door, and turned back to the prone figure. “So long, Master.”
There was no reply, and Jack slid the door across. It locked with a heavy clunk.
Part Four - Resolution
The Doctor roughly wiped a sleeve across his eyes, and aimed his sonic screwdriver at the ring. With the other hand, he depressed the button beside the ring, and activated the screwdriver. The pod thrummed with power, the sound increasing to an almost unbearable pitch before subsiding.
It certainly sounded as though it meant business, Jack thought, watching the Doctor’s face as the Time Lord held the screwdriver steady, its blue beam enveloping the ring and the panel surrounding it. With a sudden judder, the machine grew quiet. The lights inside flickered and dimmed then went out. Smoke curled from the recess where the Master’s ring was embedded – what was left of it fused to the mechanism.
The Doctor finally depressed the lock and the Pod door slid open. He stepped inside, his mouth dry and his hearts pounding loud in his ears. The interior lights seemed to have blown and the only light came from the laboratory lights outside.
He stepped forward, his foot meeting resistance. Dropping to his knees, he found the Master, laying still and quiet, exactly where they had placed him. He felt cold and the Doctor realised that he couldn’t sense the other Time Lord the way he should be able to if he were alive. It hadn’t worked, had it? This time the Master was gone for good. The Doctor suppressed a moan. He would not cry – had done all that on the Valiant. It was pointless. What was done was done, and he was alone again. The Doctor felt as if he would always be alone.
He didn’t hear Jack step in behind him, or feel the man’s hand on his shoulder, trying to comfort. Didn’t hear Martha’s sigh, or Lucy’s choked sobs. To lose the Master once was bad enough; to go through it again incomprehensible. Now that the Master’s ring was destroyed, there was no way back for him. The Doctor felt numb.
“Are you sure you wanna do this?” Jack’s steady gaze met the Doctor’s. The other man nodded tersely.
“Yes, Jack, I am. If there’s ever a chance...” the Doctor could not complete the sentence.
“OK. You want some time alone with him?”
“No.” It was barely a whisper. The Doctor flinched as Jack drew up the zip – the sharp sound seeming intrusive in the silence of the Torchwood vaults. As the Master’s face was obscured by the body bag, the Doctor turned and walked silently away, head bowed.
Jack waited for the door to close behind the Doctor before he slid the draw shut. He felt as if some words, some acknowledgment of a life ended, were needed, but was at a loss to know what would be appropriate.
So Jack simply nodded. This is Torchwood. This is what we are, what we do.
He walked away.