A CHRISTMAS WISH
With a weary sigh, Tejana picked up the tiny, sharp piece of stone and etched another mark on the wall at the head of her narrow prison cot. The tally was starting to take up a large amount of room now and was much harder to conceal than when she had first begun to keep track of the miserable, passing days, six long months ago.
Carefully, she replaced her pillow over the top and tucked the stone back under her thin mattress where she kept it hidden, before beginning to brush and braid her mane of dark curls.
Six whole months since the catastrophic day the Master had taken power. Today was Christmas Day 2008. All across the Earth, it should be a day for celebration and joy, a day for love and families, a day for peace and thanksgiving. Instead, there was only pain and hardship and deprivation, sickness and fear and starvation, the world made over in the Master's twisted image.
Tejana couldn't help shuddering. After all, this was their fault, hers and the Doctor's. If only they hadn't gone to Malcassairo...if only they hadn't met Professor Yana...if only he hadn't opened his fob watch...if only, if only, if only. Now it was their responsibility to turn things around. Somehow they had to put it all right, before the entire Universe was catapulted into an apocalyptic war. The Doctor's plan was progressing, but slowly, so very slowly. Sometimes, Tejana just wanted to scream with the slowness of it all. But instead, all she could do was endure, just as all the people she loved had to endure. Martha, endlessly walking the Earth, telling the Doctor's story across the world; Jack, hanging in his chains in the steamy engine room of The Valiant, tortured over and over by his sadistic captor; and the Doctor, his body aged and broken by the Master's Lazarus technology, threatened and humiliated on a daily basis. With their example before her, Tejana had no choice but to learn patience, a quality she had never before possessed and one which she knew would now never leave her.
The door slid open and her guard, Peter Evans, walked into the room, a pair of manacles ready to slip on to her wrists. Accustomed to the familiar routine, she finished securing her hair and allowed him to snap on the restraints, just as he did every morning.
"Merry Christmas, Peter," she said ruefully.
"Merry Christmas, ma'am," he responded gruffly, before shepherding her out into the corridor for their usual trek to the flight deck.
They were later than usual this morning. It was never easy to tell the time down in her dim cell, but Tejana guessed it was more or less around the middle of the day. Usually, she and the Doctor were escorted to the flight deck immediately after breakfast. Perhaps the Master had allowed them to sleep in for Christmas Day. Tejana almost giggled at the unlikely thought. Oh yeah, as if!
Everything seemed normal enough otherwise, until they reached the flight deck. But as soon as the automatic doors slid back in front of her, she realised that today was not going to be normal at all. The usually stark, utilitarian room had been completely transformed. The walls had been festooned with heavy garlands of greenery, interwoven with beautiful glittering fairy-lights. A huge, towering Christmas tree stood in one corner, weighed down by shimmering tinsel and gorgeous decorations. Down the middle of the room, the modern glass conference table had been covered by an elegant cream damask tablecloth and festively set with shining silver cutlery and gleaming glassware. Candles shone everywhere, softening the room and giving it a fairytale feel. Tejana stared around in amazement, feeling as if she had suddenly been transported to a traditional English stately home somewhere.
"Ah, the last member of our happy little family," a mocking voice said. "How nice of you to join us."
Turning, she saw the Master standing nearby, with his wife, Lucy. He was dressed, as always, in a beautifully tailored dark suit. Lucy was dressed in a close-fitting ice-blue velvet gown that perfectly matched her eyes. She was clinging tightly to her husband's arm, as if she was afraid he would abandon her at any moment. Tejana noticed that the other woman appeared to be wearing a pair of brand new diamond ear-rings. She was also sporting an equally-new black eye, which even copious amounts of make up couldn't disguise.
Our Lord and Master giveth and he taketh away, Tejana thought contemptuously. Unlike the Doctor, she felt absolutely no sympathy for Lucy. The stupid human woman deserved all she got.
The Master's brown eyes wandered slowly over Tejana's face, a sardonic smile twisting his lips as his gaze rested for a moment on her severely pulled back dark hair. She guessed that he was thinking of the day three weeks ago when she had succumbed to a strange impulse and had left her hair loose. Colour tinged her pale cheeks as she remembered how close he had come to kissing her back then. Ever since, she had kept her hair even more closely confined than before, not allowing even a single strand to come free. He had not shown by a single word or deed that he even remembered what had happened that day, but somehow, Tejana knew that he did.
"What's going on?" she asked shortly.
"It's Christmas Day, Tejana," he answered, as if it was obvious. "The last Christmas Day the Earth will ever see. So I thought it was appropriate to celebrate it in style. Good, isn't it?"
Lucy simpered and giggled as if her husband had said something astonishingly witty, her cold blue eyes shining with dislike as she stared at the Time Lady in front of her. Tejana ignored her completely and glanced over at the table, only now realising that most of the seats were already occupied. The Doctor was there in his wheel-chair, candle-light gleaming off his bald head. The captive members of the Jones family were also present — Tish, Francine and Clive - sitting stiffly in their seats and glancing warily around, as if they expected something to bite them at any moment. And last of all, there was Jack. Both Tejana's hearts seemed to turn over at the sight of him. She hadn't seen him in nearly two months and he looked absolutely awful. So thin, his clothes little more than rags, his body nothing more than a shadow of the strong, solid Captain she had known.
Oh gods, Jack, she thought in horror, what has the Master been doing to you?
Jack glanced up at her and gave her a cheeky, reassuring wink. She smiled tremulously back at him, even as worry for him clawed at her hearts. Somehow she had to find a way to talk to him alone — she had to be sure that he was all right. Tejana didn't know precisely what there was between her and Jack. But there was definitely something, a strong connection that had grown and developed when they were originally travelling together in the TARDIS, before the Bad Wolf had made him immortal, before he had become a fixed point in Time and they were separated. Now, he was back, but neither of them had really had a chance to work out what that meant for the two of them before Fate had intervened yet again, this time in the form of the Master.
Jack was such a flirt, she had never taken anything he said too seriously, because she knew that in ten minutes he would probably be saying exactly the same thing to someone else. However, all her keen instincts told her that a great deal of his cheeky, careless, irreverent personality was an elaborate front, carefully constructed to conceal the will of iron that formed his core. When Jack made a real commitment, whether as a friend or a lover, he would follow it through until the end of Time. Whatever ended up happening between them, from now on he would always be a part of her life, as constant as the sunrise across the Earth. He was never going to age, never going to wither and die, like so many other human friends had before him. He could not lose his life to accident, or illness or murder. He was always going to be there, no matter what. To Tejana, for whom nearly all people and things in her life had always been transitory, such permanence was almost as frightening as it was comforting. Even the Doctor, her mercurial, brilliant father, who until now had been the most steadfast thing in her Universe, had never been particularly constant — rather than the sunrise, he was more like a spectacular meteor shower that blazed across her horizon on a recurring basis, never gone for good, but not always present either.
So then, she thought to herself now. That made three. Only three constant threads destined to continually weave through the tapestry of her life, helping to form the pattern of her existence. And all of them here present on this ship.
Captain Jack Harkness, the immortal human, a new, untried thread that as yet held no colour, only unknown potential.
The Doctor, her father, a glowing, luminous thread that blazed and shone throughout her life, carrying with it all the colours of the rainbow.
And then there was the third. The dark thread that had always subtly been there from the beginning and now seemed to have completely taken over the entire pattern. Her eyes turned back towards him - the Master, her father's evil arch-enemy, who had once rocked her to sleep in his arms as an infant and whom she had been taught to fear and despise, long before she had ever run away from her home planet. Gallifrey's most infamous son, as the history books at the Academy had always named him. After travelling with her father and witnessing the Master's atrocities first hand, the hatred had no longer needed to be learnt, it had come to her very naturally.
But now, at least until the Doctor's plan came to fruition, the evil Time Lord was in complete control of her destiny. Her life — and the lives of those she loved - were held in the palm of his hand, subject completely to his whim.
As if to confirm her thoughts, the Master indicated a vacant chair beside the Doctor. "If you'd like to take your seat, Lady Tejana, perhaps we can begin the festivities."
Wordlessly, she went over to sit where she was told. Her father gave her a tiny nod of acknowledgement, his wrinkled face impassive and his brown eyes stern. Like Tejana, he knew that whatever new game the Master was playing, the outcome was unlikely to be good. The Master courteously handed Lucy into her seat on his left and then stood at the head of the table, a bright, cheerful smile spread across his face. Tejana shuddered inwardly — she had seen that terrible, beautiful white grin too many times before not to dread the sight of it.
"Now then, as Master of all and head of this close-knit little family, it falls to me to welcome you all to this final Christmas Day," he said. "Let us all raise our glasses and give the toast — Merry Christmas, one and all."
Lucy obediently raised her glass and echoed, "Merry Christmas, one and all."
Everybody else sat motionless and stared at him. A dark cloud of anger crossed over his face. "You know, it would really be a shame if I had to kill one of you today," he remarked coldly.
One by one, knowing they had no choice, they all reached for their glasses and reluctantly made the toast. "Merry Christmas, one and all."
"That's better," he nodded approvingly, as though they were a group of toddlers who had at last decided to behave.
He seated himself, just as a squadron of kitchen staff appeared in the room, each of them bearing steaming trays heaped with food. From what Tejana could see, there was every type of traditional Christmas food she had ever heard of — roast turkey, roast beef, roast duck, roast goose, stuffing, roast vegetables, mashed vegetables, mince pies, Christmas ham, gravy...she had never seen so much food before in her life.
"Go on then," the Master smiled. "Dig in — don't be shy."
For a moment longer, they all hesitated, each of them unwilling to participate in this surreal farce. But they had all been on slender rations ever since they had been taken prisoner and there was no way they could resist the tempting aromas rising from the delicious food. Tish, Francine and Clive piled their plates up high, while Jack tore into the food like a starving wolf, thrusting great handfuls of it into his mouth, as though he was afraid it would be snatched away from him at any moment. The Master watched indulgently, his malicious brown eyes dancing with ill-concealed amusement, while Lucy picked daintily at the small amount of chicken she had placed on her plate.
Tejana and the Doctor exchanged a glance, their plates empty before them. The Master's eyebrows rose inquiringly. "Not hungry? Oh come on now, not even a little bit?"
The Doctor's eyes narrowed as he unsuccessfully tried to figure out what the Master was up to. In the end, he leaned forward and put some food first on Tejana's plate and then on his own. Then he nodded at his daughter, silently urging her to eat. She knew what he was telling her — for his plan to succeed, they all had to stay as healthy and strong as possible. Picking up her fork, she reluctantly put a tiny morsel of beef in her mouth and forced herself to swallow, feeling the Master's mocking gaze on her the whole time.
She tried, but she couldn't eat much. The whole experience just kept getting more and more bizarre. They were getting the full benefit of the Master's suave Harold Saxon persona today — he was acting the part of the genial host to the hilt, making jokes and witty conversation, chatting affectionately with Lucy, ensuring all their glasses remained topped up, as if this was all some kind of elegant political dinner, instead of a gathering of his most bitter enemies. It was completely insane. He was completely insane. But none of the courtesy, none of the geniality, none of the pleasant affability ever reached his eyes — they were burning much too brightly, more so than usual, leaping with an intense, wild flame that frightened Tejana.
He had not overlooked any detail of this travesty of a celebration. After the first course, a small boy's choir was brought in to sing Christmas carols in their high, pure voices. After that, there was plum pudding, trifle, gingerbread, eggnog, nuts, Christmas cake, cheese...more and more food, just piled on the table, until even Jack could eat no more.
At last, the Master rose again to his feet.
"I trust you all enjoyed the meal? Yes? So what do we say?"
"Thank you, Master," they all chorused dully, knowing without doubt what was expected of them.
"Ah, but it's not over yet," he said gleefully. "Now it's time for the entertainment."
Tejana stiffened immediately. Whatever this was, whatever this had been leading up to, she knew instinctively it was about to happen now.
"Kneel," the Master ordered harshly. "In a line. Here."
Hurriedly, the black-clad guards forced them to stand and then kneel in a straight line where the Master had instructed. Each of them were hand-cuffed once more, their hands tightly secured behind their backs. Tejana found herself kneeling between Francine Jones and Jack. In front of them, the covers over the big view screens slid back, revealing a stunning panorama of a sprawling city, the horizon spiked with huge towers and sky-scrapers.
"New York," the Master said with satisfaction. "Being Christmas Day, I thought it might be nice to have some fireworks."
Pressing a button on the wall, he activated a microphone. "My children! Are you ready?"
"Fly and blaze and slice. Fly and blaze and slice!" came the deadly response, in a medley of eerie child-like voices.
Tejana's blood ran cold. Suddenly she realised what this was all about. It was going to be Japan all over again, but this time in New York, and on Christmas Day, the ultimate ironic cruelty.
"You may begin!" the Master commanded. Immediately, the sky began to fill with millions and millions of gleaming silver spheres, swooping and surging like an obscene swarm of bees.
"NO!" the Doctor shouted. "Master, stop this! Stop this now!"
But the other Time Lord merely threw back his head and laughed. "It can't be stopped! The drums, Doctor — can't you hear them? One...two...three...four...over and over, in my head, the call to war! Surely you can hear them!"
"Master, you know that I can't!"
"Then perhaps after this you will!" the Master snarled, all pretence of amiability gone now.
Down flew the Toclafane, into the depths of New York, their lasers blasting, their lethal blades spinning. The beautiful sky-scrapers burst into flame in front of their eyes, blazing like funeral pyres, palls of black smoke wreathing across the city.
The Master's eyes glittered maniacally. "Let's have a little audio, shall we?"
He switched on the comm channel and suddenly the silent room was filled with terrible, awful screaming, hundreds of thousands of humans running in fear, only to find that there was nowhere to go to escape the inevitable massacre raining out of the sky. Explosions ripped through the city, causing more destruction, more chaos. Pain, torture, death, suffering, horrifying butchery and annihilation, the prisoners on board The Valiant were forced both to watch and to hear it all.
Help us! Somebody help us! We're all being slaughtered! What do we do? WHAT DO WE DO? Help us! Please help us!
Tears poured down Francine's face, while Tish bent over and vomited the rich Christmas food she had just eaten all over the floor. Lucy, seemingly unmoved by the massacre of her fellow humans, put her hand over her mouth and giggled inanely, as though the girl had just committed an embarrassing social gaffe.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS, NEW YORK!" the Master yelled jubilantly, spinning around in insane joy.
Tejana drew in her breath against the horror, fighting to keep her face expressionless, knowing he was watching, not wanting to give him the satisfaction. But her eyes ached, blackness crowding at the edge of her vision, and she could hear a dull roaring in her ears. A wave of dizziness engulfed her, the sick nausea rising in her throat, and she wasn't sure she would be able to stand firm this time. Then, behind her back, she felt warm fingers close comfortingly around hers. Glancing up, she saw Jack looking down into her face, his blue eyes filled with sorrow. For just a moment she just allowed herself to drown in the ocean of his gaze, closing out the horror around her and concentrating on the feeling of their fingers twining together, steadying her and giving her strength.
And behind them, without their knowledge, a pair of restless, burning brown eyes that rarely missed a thing, took in every last detail.
Night had fallen across The Valiant. Christmas Day was drawing to a close, and the Master sat on a comfortable couch in one of the opulent observation lounges, the spectacular glass dome overhead providing an astonishing view of the darkening heavens. But the Master was not looking up — his head was in his hands, his handsome face twisted in a grimace of pain.
The damn drums were so loud tonight, louder and more insistent than ever before. His head hurt, it hurt so much, but it never stopped, the tortuous rhythm forever driving him, on and on and on. He knew he needed to rest. He hadn't slept for days and even a young, strong Time Lord body couldn't keep that up indefinitely. But the infernal noise in his head wouldn't give him any peace and the resulting exhaustion was beginning to take its toll.
He'd thought the destruction of New York would help. Usually, after he performed a terrible act of devastation, the drums would be quieter, more bearable, as though they were temporarily sated by the unleashing of the violence inside his head. But not today. At first, all had gone well. The pressure had eased off as he gloried in the fire and the terror and the death he had visited upon the Earth. But then, as the initial blast of adrenaline had worn off, the drumming had come back louder than ever, striking at his mind with a viciousness he had never felt before.
He had eventually retreated up here to the observation deck, hoping that some solitude under the stars would soothe his agony. But nothing seemed to help, even the half-bottle of malt whiskey he had just consumed neat. He didn't usually like to drink human spirits. The foul stuff never tasted anything like the alcohol he had been accustomed to back on Gallifrey. But the stupid apes seemed to think the concoction was useful for dulling pain, so he had given it a try. The amber fluid had seared down his throat and burnt like fire in the pit of his stomach, but unfortunately had not had any other discernible effect at all.
He swirled the useless liquid in his glass, watching it spin around and around in a mini-whirlpool, his shoulders aching with tension as the four beat rhythm sliced endlessly through his brain. All at once, he knew what he needed to relax. He needed a back massage. And he knew exactly who he would order to do it. Not Lucy, his long-suffering wife. Not Tania the stewardess, his current mistress. In fact, not any of the multitude of human women he had available. Instead, his mind shot back to the touching little scene he had witnessed while the Toclafane had descended on New York that afternoon...
Tejana's small, delicate hand resting in the Freak's, their fingers twined so intimately together...
His mouth tightened into an angry line as he thought about it. Perhaps it was about time the Doctor's daughter learnt who her Master really was.
Shivering, Tejana quickly slipped on her white cotton nightgown and huddled under her blankets, trying to keep warm. It was the middle of winter and the cells on board The Valiant were not heated. Normally, she didn't wear any form of clothing to bed, but it was just too cold to sleep naked in this miserable little cell. Thankfully, Peter had managed to sneak her in an extra blanket from somewhere, which had made things a little bit more comfortable for her. She could only pray that the Master didn't find out. The evil Time Lord didn't take too kindly to people helping any of his "special" prisoners, even in minor matters such as this. Peter had taken a big risk, knowing he would be severely punished if he was caught.
Tejana turned her face into her lumpy pillow, tears welling in her eyes as she thought back over the terrible events of the day. Human Christmas was never a particularly good time for her family — for whatever reason, the Doctor always seemed to get into more trouble at Christmastime than any other other time of the year. But always before they had been able to do something to make things better, somehow altering events to change the outcome. This time they had been forced to watch helplessly while millions of people died. Tejana was much too stubborn to ever allow the Master or his minions to see her cry. But here, in the darkness of her meagre little cell, with no-one to see, she was able to let go of her defences and allow herself to grieve as she needed to.
The door slid back and Peter appeared. This too was part of the usual routine. He was required to restrain her hands for the night, manacling them to a long chain set into the wall. Dully, she held out her wrists, waiting wordlessly for the harsh, abrasive clasp of the cuffs. Instead, to her surprise, Peter hovered uncertainly in the doorway.
"Ma'am, I need you to get up please," he said tersely.
Tejana sighed. "What for?"
"The Master has summoned you."
She sat up abruptly. "What? Why?"
"I don't know. I have orders to escort you immediately to Observation Deck A."
Tejana felt sick inside. Oh gods, what did he want now? Hadn't he done enough for one day?
"All right, Peter," she said resignedly, knowing she had absolutely no choice. "Just let me get dressed."
The guard stepped forward apologetically. "Sorry, ma'am, but there's no time. My orders were to escort you immediately. He's waiting."
Tejana's breath caught in her throat, the goose-bumps now rising on her skin owing nothing to the cold. Swallowing back her fear, she forced herself to smile tautly at her guard.
"Well, I'd just hate to hold him up," she said sarcastically. "I'm sure he has so many important things to do, people to kill, that sort of thing..."
Climbing to her feet, she tossed back her heavy mane of hair and held her head up high, her bearing as proud as if she was wearing elaborate Gallifreyan formal robes instead of a skimpy cotton nightgown.
"I'm ready. Let's go."
The Master focused his hard brown gaze on Tejana's guard. "Leave," he ordered.
"Yes, my Lord." Peter bowed respectfully and exited the observation deck, the door sliding shut behind him. For a moment, there was no sound and no movement in the still room, except for the ice-cubes clinking in the Master's glass.
Then he said curtly, "You can stop loitering back there in the dark. Come here where I can see you."
Again there was a brief pause, before he heard the soft swishing sound of bare feet on the polished floor and she stepped forward into the dim light. His eyebrows rose slightly in surprise. He hadn't stopped to think what she would be wearing so late at night. The guard had obviously brought her to him straight from bed. Her hair was down, rumpled dark curls flowing past her shoulders, falling to the waist of her plain white cotton nightgown. Without conscious thought, he found his gaze slowly sliding down from the delicate features of her face, over the full curves of her breasts, down over her flat stomach and the swell of her hips, all the way down her slender legs, clearly outlined by the clinging gown.
When his eyes finally returned to her face, he realised she wasn't even looking at him. Instead, she was gazing up, through the magnificent glass observation dome, her eyes fixed on the glorious panorama of night sky. For one brief instant, he saw a desperate longing for freedom written across her face as she looked at the stars, the frantic urge to escape her intolerable captivity. It was like watching a beautiful, wild bird staring through the bars of a cage. The Master couldn't help smiling, a savage sense of satisfaction stirring inside him. His beautiful wild bird, inside his cage. And that was the way it was always going to be from now on. The Doctor had no chance of stopping him this time. He had won. Anything he wanted, anyone he wanted, right across the Universe, all his, no exceptions.
Even the Doctor's own daughter.
"Nice view, isn't it?" he said, his voice full of subtle cruelty. "All those stars...just waiting for us to come visiting with the Toclafane, once my rockets are ready to fly."
The dark blue eyes swivelled back down to meet his, empty now of all expression except contempt. "What do you want from me?" she asked flatly. "Why have you called me here?"
His sense of self-satisfaction suddenly shattered into a surge of blistering anger. Even after everything that had happened today, even after his ruthless display of supreme power, she still refused to back down, still refused to show any appropriate fear or subservience. And most infuriating of all, even after all these years, when she addressed him, she still refused to voluntarily use his name.
With the anger came the flashback of her small hand resting trustingly in Jack's larger one earlier that day, as the holocaust of the Toclafane had descended on New York, an acute memory of the intimate glance the two of them had exchanged. Inexplicably, the Master felt his anger escalate into pure rage.
"I can't sleep. So I want a back massage to help me relax," he snarled. "And who better than my favourite masseuse to give it to me?"
"You can go to hell," she responded with quiet venom. "All those poor people you killed today...it would make me sick to touch you."
The Master threw back his head and laughed. Then he put his glass down and got to his feet, coming to stand in front of her. "Poor Tejana, you'd just love to kill me, wouldn't you?" he taunted, deliberately stroking the dark curls back from her face. "Admit it, you just want to put those strong little hands around my neck and choke me until I'm dead."
"Yes!" she exclaimed, her breathing quickening fiercely at the thought, as she pulled sharply away from his touch. "Yes, that's exactly what I want!"
"But we both know that's not going to happen," he said silkily. "Not while I hold all the people you care about at my mercy. I'm your Master now and you will do anything I say."
Tejana bit her lip and did not reply. There was nothing she could say. She knew he was right.
"But...since it is Christmas..." he continued mockingly. "I'll do you a deal."
She looked up at him warily. "What sort of deal?"
"You give me a nice little massage, no trouble, no back talk, no trying to kill me...and as your Lord and Master I'll grant you a Christmas wish."
"And what wish would that be?"
"Anything you want, within reason," he replied carelessly. "No giving back the TARDIS or freeing the Doctor or anything ridiculous like that, of course. But warmer clothes, better food, nicer quarters...all you need to do is ask."
"So you expect me to sell my soul for a bit more comfort, is that it?"
He grinned wickedly, his brown eyes dancing. "If that's how you like to see it...then, yes."
"And how do I know you'll keep your end of the bargain?"
"I give you my word as a Time Lord."
Tejana snorted in derision. "Your word? You must be joking."
"Take it or leave it." He shrugged.
For a few brief moments, there was silence as she considered his proposal. He couldn't help wondering what was ticking away behind those midnight blue eyes, what thoughts were passing through that agile little brain.
"Fine," she said at last, her tone ice cold. "I'll take your deal."
"Use my name," he ordered sharply.
She glared at him incredulously. "What?"
"You heard me. If you want the deal, use my name." At first, he thought she was going to refuse. He could see the internal battle raging inside her, every ounce of her considerable pride rebelling against saying the hated phrase.
But then she ground out, "Yes, Master," as though the words were broken glass in her mouth.
"Good." He smiled, loving the submissive sound of his name on her lips. He would win this battle of wills. In the end he would break her, it was only a matter of time. "Let's get on with it then, shall we?"
Quickly and efficiently, he stripped off his jacket, tie and shirt and resumed his seat on the couch. Tejana hesitated, but then slowly came to sit beside him, reaching for the bottle of massage oil that sat on the low, glass-topped table. He turned his back to her, listening as she took the lid off the bottle and rubbed some of the oil between her hands. Then, he felt the warmth of her touch as she stroked her palms softly across his tense shoulders. Despite himself, he gave a shudder of pleasure. All psychology aside, Tejana really was an amazing masseuse. Her deft fingers easily found every knot, every taut muscle in his back, gently but insistently seeking to loosen and ease his tension. She was very, very good at what she did. It should have been relaxing. It should have been soothing, just like he had planned, the experience only sweetened by his triumph and her surrender to his will. But instead, to his dismay, he found it was anything but relaxing. Everywhere she touched, his skin seemed to burn, a sensual awareness exploding throughout his body with unexpected urgency. Caught by surprise at the feeling, he took a deep breath, trying to clear his head. His nostrils immediately filled with the all-pervasive almond aroma of the massage oil. But beneath that, he could still smell her, a unique, intoxicating scent of honeysuckle and woman. Without warning, his mind went back to that odd day a few weeks ago, when he had nearly kissed her outside the doors to the flight deck and his body tightened still further at the memory.
Her fingers, smoothing, stroking, slick and slippery with the oil... her hands kneading, gliding softly over his skin, over and over and over again...all at once, he couldn't take it any more. He swung around sharply, moving with all the speed and agility of a striking snake, catching both her wrists in a ruthless grip. Tejana stiffened in his hold, her eyes widening in shock at the savage look on his face. He could feel her pulses skittering about wildly. With a grim sense of satisfaction, he suddenly realised that he wasn't the only one feeling the spreading heat. She wasn't nearly as physically indifferent to him as she would have him believe.
"Now then, that wasn't so bad, was it?" he whispered into her ear, his breath stirring the soft tendrils of her hair. "Who would have thought that the Doctor's daughter would turn out to be such a good little masseuse?"
Her gaze locked on to his. "I hate you," she said flatly.
"I know," he responded, releasing one of her wrists to trail his fingers teasingly down the exposed, vulnerable line of her throat. It was a tantalising psychological game he played with her, he told himself. Deliberately arousing her. Watching her pale cheeks flush, her beautiful eyes lose focus, her breathing begin to quicken. Watching her try to fight it as her own body betrayed her, beginning to want and need him even as her mind despised and loathed everything about him, hating herself more and more every second it went on. A cruel, deliciously exciting game, yes, but that was all it was. Just a game. He wasn't going to allow himself to get caught up in it. He was the Master and he was in complete control.
To him, she wasn't a woman, she was a weapon. His supreme back-up weapon against the Doctor, a vital piece of insurance, to be held in reserve to ensure that his enemy remained forever in his power, no matter what. She was just another prisoner, just another part of his plan. It didn't matter how soft she was, it didn't matter how good it felt to have her touch him, it didn't matter how much he wanted to...
But then her eyes dropped helplessly to his mouth and he could see her wondering against her will what it would be like between them. Just like that, all his good intentions went out the window and he pushed her roughly back on the couch until she lay under him, his weight pinning her down.
She trembled beneath the aroused hardness of his body, suddenly understanding just how much he wanted her. "My Christmas wish," she forced out, looking up into his face, her lips only millimetres from his. "You promised."
"Tell me what you want," he answered in a voice like gravel. "And I'll give it to you." He knew what she wanted. It was there, crying out to him in every line of her slender figure, in every rapid beat of her hearts. But he had to hear her say it, needed to hear her admit it out loud.
Tejana drew in a shaky breath. Something almost like fear stirred deep within her eyes. Then her soft lips tightened in determination and she said just one word. "Jack."
The Master recoiled backwards as if someone had just thrown a bucket of ice-cold water over him. "What?" he exclaimed, sitting up abruptly, the white-hot fury inside him already beginning to rise.
"I want to spend some time alone with Jack," she retorted defiantly. "No chains, no guards, just the two of us. That's why I agreed to your deal...Master."
He stared at her incredulously as she lay where he had left her on the couch, her beautiful hair spread out in a dark halo around her head. So, a game indeed. But who had been playing who? It seemed Tejana had more of her father's deviousness in her than he had ever realised. With a snarl, he opened his mouth to refuse. He had no intention of allowing that freak Harkness anywhere near her. After all, the game was his — it was his prerogative to change the rules. He didn't have to honour the terms of their deal. He could just take her anyway, as he pleased, here and now, and to hell with it. But then he had another thought and he changed his mind, smiling dangerously down at her instead.
"Very well," he said tightly. "You win."
She eyed him suspiciously, wary of his lightning-fast mood change, instinctively knowing he had given in far too easily. "Then you'll keep your promise?"
"Of course. I gave my word as a Time Lord, didn't I?"
She sat up slowly and moved nervously away from him, straightening her clothes as she went. "Yes. Yes, you did."
"No time like the present," he said with cheerful unconcern. Calling the guard back into the room, he gave orders for Jack to be unchained and escorted to one of the interrogation rooms on the lower levels of The Valiant.
Then, meticulously, he put his shirt, jacket and tie back on, tidying his hair and ensuring that he looked as immaculate as always. Then he gestured courteously towards the door. "Shall we then?"
Still tense with suspicion, Tejana allowed herself to be ushered out into the corridor. Followed by the black-clad guards, the two Time Lords walked to the lift together and travelled downwards to the cells area. The Master guided Tejana to the correct door with urbane charm, respectfully opening it for her to enter, as if they were on some sort of polite social outing. Inside, Jack already stood waiting alone, his thin wrists unfettered for the first time since the Master had taken power. Tejana gave an inarticulate cry of joy and ran to him. Startled, his arms closed tightly around her, holding her against him in a fierce hug, even as his blue eyes spat hatred at the Master, who was leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe, watching with his arms folded.
"Tejana! What's going on?"
"Your lucky day, Freak," the Master told him derisively, stepping forward into the room. "Tejana wanted to spend some time with you. And being a merciful Lord and Master, I've agreed."
"You what?" Jack exclaimed in disbelief. "Tejana, what did you...?"
"It doesn't matter, Jack," she cut in hurriedly. "I had to see you. I needed to be sure you were OK."
"Oh, now isn't that sweet? Just so touching really, what can I say?" the Master said sarcastically. He gestured to the two guards. "Now then, I suppose we'd better give these two kids some privacy. Let's go."
Turning, he moved with the guards towards the door, feeling the eyes of his two captives following him, incredulous that he had actually granted them this time together, wondering if there would still be a catch. A nasty smile curved his lips. Of course there was a catch. That was just life, there was always a catch.
At the last moment, just as they thought he was really going to let them get away with it, he snapped his fingers and turned back to face them. "Oh, just one more thing, I nearly forgot..."
And, before they could react, he strode quickly back towards them and viciously thrust a long, thin switch-blade directly into Jack's heart, killing him instantly. Jack made one small, surprised sound and then collapsed twitching into Tejana's arms, bright red arterial blood gushing forth to stain his tattered shirt.
"JACK!" she screamed, frantically catching him and lowering him to the ground.
The Master laughed at the horrified expression on her face as she gazed down into Jack's wide, lifeless eyes. "I promised you could spend some time with him. I never said anything about him being alive."
Crouching down, he grabbed Tejana's chin and forced her to look at him. "My game, my rules, Tejana. You really don't know much about being a slave yet, do you? Looks like it's going to be my pleasure to teach you. Consider this your first lesson. You will have no other Master...ever...except me."
Carefully, deliberately, holding her eyes with his own, he wiped the blood-stained knife on the bodice of her nightgown, leaving a lurid crimson smear across the white fabric. "And the only time you will spend from now on with Captain Freak will be like this, kneeling in his blood. So don't ever ask me again, do I make myself clear?"
Tejana refused to respond, her gaze glittering with murderous rage as she cradled Jack's dead body in her arms, the surrounding silence icy-cold with her contempt.
"I said, do I make myself clear?" the Master shouted suddenly, his voice echoing harshly around the small room.
Tejana shuddered, her lovely face twisting into a snarl. "Crystal!" she gritted out.
"Good." He smiled, his voice soft and mild once more. "Then we can both look forward to lesson number two in due course." Rising to his feet, he nodded to the guards. "As promised, Lady Tejana can stay here with the good Captain until he starts to revive. After that, you may escort her back to her cell." The guards both saluted and he headed back towards the door. Pausing in the opening, he looked triumphantly back at his prisoners. "Oh, and Tejana...?"
Her head came up proudly, defiant to the end. "What?"
"Merry Christmas, sweetheart."
Then the door slid shut behind him and he was gone.
- THE END -