by TardisGhost [Reviews - 78]Chapter or Story
I peeked around the console's socket to see if Donna had returned, but she wasn't the one entering the TARDIS door.
It was the Doctor.
"Where's Donna?" called Wilf immediately. "Is she alright? Did it work?"
"Why of course it worked!" Donna's voice resounded through the room when she entered behind the Time Lord, head held high. "I repaired the teleporter so the Doctor could bring the TARDIS down," she told, whipping her hair back. "Cakewalk, really."
"Oh, that's my girl. My brilliant little girl." Wilf was almost crying, hugging his granddaughter with visible force.
The Doctor chuckled. "Yes, yes! Brilliant indeed. Of course she was. Never doubted it." His head snapped towards the Master. "Although she really wouldn't have to go through that."
"What? And risk getting dirt on my new jacket for a bunch of potato heads? Not going to happen." The Master grinned wickedly at the other Time Lord, then subtly winced when I stepped next to him. "Since when are you here?"
"A… while." I shrugged, evading a direct answer. There were more pressing matters at hand right now.
Behind Donna there was another person now entering the TARDIS. She had dark skin and wore the Doctor's long coat, looking weirdly fragile in it. Her eyes wandered from person to person. And then her look darkened.
"What's he doing here?" she suddenly demanded, pointing at the Master. "Why isn't he in chains!? Why is no one doing anything?"
The room fell silent; all heads turned to the Time Lord in question. He, on the other hand, looked completely unfazed, a slow, maniac grin even spreading on his lips.
"Martha Jones," he said, voice suddenly sickly sweet. "How's the family?"
The woman shot forwards. "You tortured them, you bastartd! How do you think they are?"
"Hush, hush, Martha. It's okay." The Doctor rushed towards her, grabbing her shoulders. "He's not doing anything. Calm down."
But she didn't. "When you said he's in your TARDIS, I didn't think you'd let him just roam freely! How can you… There are people around even. Doctor…" Her voice cracked when she said his name.
There was so much fear and anger in her voice, it made my skin crawl. Only someone who had gone through immense trauma could sound like that. And the one who had caused it now sat casually among us, not the least fazed by the entire thing.
"Martha." The Doctor grabbed her arm to turn her away. "C'mon. There is a planet to save. I have an idea."
The young woman turned to him, slowly, as if she didn't dare to take her eyes off the Master. Donna and Wilf followed outside instead, leaving the three of us behind. A bad idea, probably. But whatever was going on with the earth was obviously the more pressing matter for the Doctor.
There was a long moment of silence, then Martha's attention wandered to me, who was still standing right next to Master. "I'd get away from him, if I were you," she said drily.
I turned my head to look at the Master, seeing him staring, not moving a muscle. I shrugged, looking back at Martha. "What did he do? No one really told me."
"You don't need to know," hissed the Master.
"You're one of the Doctor's companions too, aren't you?" Martha asked, her voice getting instantly friendlier when addressing me.
"Uhhhh…. Sort of?" I rambled, not quite certain how to properly introduce myself and explain my situation. "I'm not that much into adventures. But yeah, I'm travelling along. I'm Lucy, hi."
Somehow my words had managed to draw an expression of surprise, almost shock, on Martha's face. Her eyes darted from me to the Master and back again, disbelief, fear, maybe even anger shining within them.
"Oh, don't give me that look," mocked the Master. "I'm not going to marry her too." He chuckled and poked my side, making me wince.
"Who'd want to do that anyway?" I countered. And then I remembered. "Oh, right. That wife of yours was also called Lucy."
His face turned sour at the mention of her, making me curious. "Not that it's much of a surprise or anything, but why exactly did she try to shoot you?"
"Because he abused her!" called Martha out, voice shrill. "He broke the poor woman, he-"
"Hooo! Slow down there, Jones." The Master took a step forward, his voice dripping venom. "Just because your precious Doctor is busy doesn't mean you can do whatever you want in here and shoot out whatever you think in your petti underdeveloped brain might be true."
"Oh yeah?" Martha sounded not less pissed. Her look was firmly locked with the Master's. "I saw how broken she was."
"You really want to know?" The Master scoffed. "I could tell you what happened to her."
"You happened," accused Martha.
"Well, that's true." He chuckled but shook his head. "That's not the whole story, though. You could ask and I'd tell you the rest of it."
"You mean lies."
"No need for that. I don't need to impress you."
I stepped in, hoping to prevent the situation from escalating. Not that I was particularly good at diplomacy, but right now no one else was there. And I owned all the curiosity Martha seemed to lack. "What happened?"
The Master slowly tore his gaze away from the other woman and looked at me.
"She's got the same name after all," I half heartedly joked. "Maybe I can learn-"
"You're nothing like her," said the Master. "She was, in human terms, pretty, but not very bright. I offered her power, I told her about who I am and what my plans are, but she was neither scared nor disgusted." Facts that seemed to please and astonish him in equal measures, judging by the way he told it.
"That's no reason to try and break her!" Martha still fumed, hands balled to fists.
The Master took another step towards the woman, towering above her with a menacing stare. "It's not my fault that your minds are too weak. There is only one thing I did and if you want to blame me for that, fine."
"I don't think I want to know what sick-"
"Just let him talk," I interrupted gently. "I want to hear it. And then it's up to you and I to judge if it can be trusted." I glanced up at the Master, hoping he would actually tell the truth. He always did. Sometimes twisted or concealed, but he never actually lied. Not to me anyway.
He blinked a few times and let out a sigh, talking to me now, instead of Martha. "I had stolen the TARDIS and the Doctor had locked the coordinates. Meaning I could only travel between earth and the end of the universe."
"There is an… end? Like… literally?"
The Master huffed. "The universe is ever expanding. One day the stars will be so far apart that you can't see a single one in the sky anymore. And one by one… they will all die. Alone, cut off from everyone. Every last light fading in silence"
"That sounds so sad. I can't imagine how a sky without stars might look."
"And you never will," growled the Master. His demeanour suddenly changed to be incredibly serious. "It's nearly impossible to get there, in the first place. The TARDIS normally refuses to even travel that far. But if it ever does then you will stay inside and not move." Now he stepped in front of me, an unspoken threat emanating from him, but not one to hurt me. "Never ever look at it, lil' lumin. I'll chain you if I have to, so don't even think about it."
I swallowed, unable to speak after the intensity of his little speech. It was hard to find my words again. "Is that… did she… did you… show her?"
His look darkened, speaking more than words ever could, his silence only overshadowed by the soft him of the TARDIS. There was something in his eyes and I was tempted to think it might be regret, sadness even. Maybe that woman had only been a political doll, but she had meant something to him.
"Oh, nonsense." Martha stepped into our field of vision. "I knew he would lie. Don't listen to him. I've been there myself. I've seen it with my own eyes and-"
"And you, Martha Jones," interrupted the Master, tone dark and foreboding, "were probably there with the Doctor, busy and distracted by whatever it was your little band was doing at that time. You never properly took it in, never really looked. Am I wrong?"
"I… I did!" she protested meekly. "'Cause I did. Until the otherkin chased us and then we were in the base and met you."
"See?" He smiled sweetly. "Distracted. Actually, I don't care about you at all, so go ahead. Take a proper look whenever you can. See what it really does to you, then."
"Oh, I definitely will," spat Martha. "And if it's only to prove you're lying."
"Stop fighting," I moaned. "I'm pretty sure it doesn't affect everyone equally."
"No." The Master turned to me again. "It probably doesn't. But I'm not risking you going insane over it. I've seen it happen once and it wasn't pretty."
"Okay. Maybe she was just weak-hearted or whatever," Martha objected. "But when we got her out, she had bruises on her face. You beat her!"
"I did not!" Suddenly there was rage in his voice and I knew it wouldn't take much for him to just slam the other woman into a wall. "That stupid thing was so disturbed, she wasn't very aware of her surroundings most of the time, after that. Just stared into the air and sometimes literally ran into stuff."
"And you really expect me to believe that?" Martha let out a choked laugh. "After all you did to the planet, to my family? To the Doctor?"
No, no he did not expect her to. Seeing them stare at each other made me understand. The Master didn't care about whether she believed him or not. The only reason he had told all of it was so that I could hear, hoping that I would believe his words.
He scoffed at that. "Not on purpose. Loyal people are hard to find. But, in the end, she realised there was no solution, nothing to prevent the universe from dying. And she hated me for that."
Losing all hope. I certainly knew how that felt. And there the Master was, offering a way out, seemingly. I could only imagine how badly it must have shattered that woman to slowly get aware of the truth.
"I'm pretty sure there would have been a better way to treat her." I poked his arm to interrupt their little staring contest, before it could escalate. "Still, I see why it ended like it did."
"You can't impossibly believe him!" shouted Martha.
I stared up at the Master, searching his features for any hint of deception. Maybe I wasn't good at reading faces, but I was sure that something would have told me, had he actually lied. And I found and felt nothing the like.
"She'd know would I lie," was all he commented, nodding in my direction, smiling softly, as if he had read my thoughts.
Martha shook her head and took some steps backwards. "I can't believe it. He's manipulating you! Don't you see? And not only you. The Doctor as well. He can't… he wouldn't just let a murderer like him run around on his own. He can't…"
Her words faded into the background as their meaning pierced my mind. Was I really manipulated? Had he put a spell on me with his hypnotism? I remembered how much he had pushed me away not so long ago, how I had never been entirely sure if he hated me. I remembered all the times he had actively, willingly, hurt me. And now, since we had come back from the abandoned city, it suddenly seemed as if he would actually open up. For the first time he was actually voicing his thoughts and feelings towards me, even if incomplete and confusing.
Was this all just part of some game?
Maybe the Master saw the slight hint of fear in my eyes, or maybe he simply put one and one together. Whatever the case, he completely ignored Martha and fully turned to me, reaching out both hands to cup my face and nudge his forehead against mine. The gesture was so tender, it made my heart ache in a way I couldn't even describe.
"Don't worry, little light. You'd know. At the latest when we're connected."
A heavy breath pressed itself out of my lungs. And I nodded, smiling. Deep down I knew that every kind of manipulation would not stand such a connection. It would simply dissolve.
The door to the TARDIS creaked open; the Doctor rushed in, having a weird machine slung around his neck. We all spun around to face him.
"Martha," he rasped out, needing a moment to continue. "Thank you. For everything, oh so many times. You're brilliant." He looked at us, gulping. "Master. Remember the doratani box. And try not blow everything up out there." His eyes wandered to me. "Lucy, take care. You're braver than you think."
And with that he rushed back outside, leaving us standing perplexed and confused.
"What the crap was that?" grunted the Master.
Oh! Oh, of course. A cold shiver ran down my spine. "He's saying goodbye."