Summary: Two's company, three's a crowd.
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Harold Saxon, Lucy Saxon, The (Tenth) Doctor
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is owned by the BBC. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement or defamation is intended.
Original story: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by selenak
Lucid Diamond Sky (the Misogynistic Lash cut-up)
When you are the Lord, all time is Now.
-The morning after, Lucy wakes from a dream of -- of something, of a vast array, cracked and broken, of a constellation without a heart, only a great hollow space -- and she forcefully uncurls her hand from around his ring so carefully hung on the chain around her throat.
-The cameras are flashing and humming and he turns to look right into the lens as he says "right now" and starts to smile.
-"Chan. Then who are you? Tho."
"I. Am. The Master."
-She does not leave the Valiant, not once, in that whole year that never was, not once, from the beginning of the fold to the end, not once. She walks along the inside of that massive Möbius strip, in her purified, recycled air, in the constant coolness of endlessly conditioned air. Step after step after step, until she is slow pacing through her own inevitable echoes, drifting through the drumming of her feet. There, always there, in her head. She never leaves. Not once.
-The furnaces are still burning.
-The problem of the paradox machine is its inherent weakness. All of its complexity, its power, its majesty, builds to the moment of the climax, to the point of temporal intersection. To stop that build up, to interfere at any point before completion, is to unleash that majesty unfocused. It would ripple across the timelines, shatter continuity, breach causality.
(And if the Doctor does this, so be it; they will all go together when they go.)
But afterwards. Afterwards, all it does is sit there, tick tick tick ticking over. The heart of twisted time. And like any heart, so easily broken. So susceptible to attacks. And the Doctor is so endlessly, so deliciously defiant.
So the Master makes contingency plans.
-"Lucy Cole," she says, at some function or other, her in a cream dress, him a black suit, her with champagne in one hand and offering him her other. "Lady Tarminster."
"Harold Saxon," he says, and does not say 'Lord of Time' but takes instead her fingers in his own and presses a kiss to her knuckles. "The pleasure is all mine."
She smiles, just a little. "Maybe not entirely yours."
He likes the way she flirts, though she is, of course, quite, quite wrong about that.
-Sometimes, the ring is heavy, pulling her down. Sometimes it is so light she has to keep touching it to make sure it is there, there and humming against her, like the buzz of insect wings, like two dozen tiny hearts beating against her skin.
-The Doctor makes everything possible, of course.
He does what Time Lords should never do, what they both do so well. He interferes. Harriet Jones - the architect of Britain's Golden Age - is deposed with a simple suggestion. It is both elegant and cruel and the Master appreciates its perfection. He could not have done better. Well, he could have done better. He has done better.
Nevertheless, it is a nice try, all the same.
-"Utopia," he says.
And laughs. It is a good Joke. Less than three as they write. Less than Three.
He opens her eyes.
"I don't understand," she says, "I don't", and, "Harry--"
"The Last Dark," he says, looking up. There are no stars. The dim red glow below the horizon is not some bloated, struggling sun. It is the furnaces, and you can smell the fuel, the only thing they have left.
Burn out. Do not fade away.
"Breathe deep," he tells her. "Breathe it all in."
Her eyes are as dark and as empty as the sky and he cannot stop smiling.
-"But," Lucy protests, Lucy who does not, cannot, will not understand this most basic thing, "would it not be simpler to, well, kill him? If there is even the slightest chance he could undo your work, Harry?"
"Oh," he says, "but I couldn't possibly kill him."
He could not possibly.
Not after everything.
-And as he spins the globe he says, low and sweet and into that phone, across the ether, and into that ear, "must have been like God".
Must have been like God.
-Lucy does not, does not, and does not leave the Valiant. Still, they come to her, smelling of the ground, of steel and dirt and blood and rot. She dresses them so prettily in their little maid uniforms, in their little overalls, freshly laundered, steamed, pressed. She makes them scrub and scrub and scrub, perfume and soap and scrub, and the air, that too, scrub it, scrub it, scrub it, make it clean; make it sanitary; make it safe.
"You're adorable." Harry pats her cheek. "My faithful companion."
His words, her promise, all stuck in her throat - that, perhaps, is the burning she smells.
Maybe he just likes to remind her.
-("I am the Master and you will obey me. You will obey me.")
-"He didn't hypnotize me, you know," Lucy says. "You mustn't think that."
It is night. She thinks they are alone.
"I don't," the Doctor says.
He is old. He knows they are watched.
"I'll be with him always," she insists. "Forever."
The Master smiles in the dark, smiles his devil smile in the deep, deep dark, smiles and smiles and smiles.
-"I made my choice. For better or for worse. Isn't that right, Harry?"
-Sooner or later, he always breaks his toys.
-He leaves the UNIT files for her to find, so she can understand, so she can get the joke. The Doctor would find this childish. Perhaps this is why the Master does it. There are cameras everywhere, of course; that is the point -- to see, to be seen, to know and be known. Really, she brings it on herself. They all do. If only they would realise it, they would beg for him. They would cry out, scream, and beg for...
They do, don't they?
-If the Devil did not exist, God would have to invent him.
-It is faith that breaks him in the end. He was always too much of an intellectual. And so the Doctor takes the stand and blah, blah, blah.
Really, we have all been here before. There is no need to make so much fuss!
And of all the offers to make, that one? That one, Doctor? Have you learnt nothing? Have you understood nothing?
Even Lucy --
"You will be."
-"I didn't see her."
-but the Master sees.
It is faith that breaks him, just as it is faith that sustains him. For he is the Master, and what is death to that?
I did it all for me, he will never tell them. I always do. What else is there?
The Master. Reborn.
Space. Time. The drums.
Third time is the charm.
-Gallifreyans have no funeral rites, of course.
Still, the Doctor would not want human authorities to get their hands on a Time Lord corpse with all its wonderful genetics. So he builds the pyre, in Tarminister, and sets him burning, where the Master first fought the Doctor on Earth, subjectively speaking. It is almost nostalgic.
That is why he picked Lucy, after all, for the name. A little tribute.
-She cannot stop touching the ring. She knows better than to put it on, of course, but she cannot put it away, either. She just keeps touching, over and over and over.
Over and over and over.
-All those years in the dark. All those years locked away in the back of a mortal skull, slipping closer and closer to the edge. All those years of pounding.
He will not be trapped again. Not for the world. Not for him. And certainly not for her.
Contingency plans, plural.
-"I'll be with him always," she says. "Forever."
-"Too late," he says.
-And the drums come thrumming; humming; drumming; up, up, coming; as the ring slips on, the Master--
-"We'll be together, like you said. You and me. A Time Lord and his faithful companion."
- the Master opens her eyes.
And it is good.