|The Most Happy Bride
Author: Harold Saxon PM
Wilf's attempt to restore Donna's memories of the Doctor goes horribly wrong and leaves her stranded in blood-thirsty 18th century revolutionary France. Will the Doctor and the Master be able to find her in time and bring her back home? COMPLETEDRated: Fiction K - English - Adventure/Humor - 10th Doctor & The Master - Chapters: 6 - Words: 63,100 - Reviews: 81 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 23 - Updated: 09-18-11 - Published: 05-15-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6992684
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Most Happy Bride belongs to a set of stories called: A Timelord and his madman, from which the first installment was posted in January 2010, directly after the final episode of the 10th Doctor. It is a sort of alternative season 5, in which the 10th Doctor has fortunately survived the events of "The End of time". Wandering alone in search of the Master, he finally succeeded to save the Master from the Timelock in the first story of the series called "His Silent Mind". Other installments include (In the right order): "Judoon Justice", "A Murderous Feast", "Shattered Worlds", and "Before Harry met Lucy". If you're interested in the rest of the series and don't want to miss out on the Doctor's and the Master's previous adventures, hit the author button and find the links on my author page.
In this story, both Timelords are finally traveling together as equal companions, and are following the trail of the illustrious and mysterious Infinity Corporation that seems capable to manipulate time and put the Master's drums inside people's heads. This story begins with a flashback to the final scene of "A Murderous Feast". After a dangerous encounter with a species of aliens called Timewarps who were causing havoc in an ancient Roman town, the Doctor returns Wilf home to 21st century London. After saying goodbye to the Doctor, Wilf has a moment alone with the Master...
The Most Happy Bride
14 months earlier, Cheswick lane, London.
"Here." Wilf pushed his mobile phone into his hand. "Take this. I got a new one for Christmas. Wouldn't know what to do with two mobiles."
The Master turned to check if the reassuring sight of the Tardis was still behind him. The blue light on the top was starting to show a soft blue glow, indicating that the Doctor was about to start up the engines. Better to keep this short. "And what am I supposed to do with it?" He asked, cocking an eyebrow, and showing not much interest.
"You give me a call next time you find yourself in trouble."
"You want me to call you?"
"Yes, and don't use it for anything else!" Wilf added hurriedly. "No prank-calls or anything to scare off my family, or my friends! I won't have it!"
"What are you trying to do?" The Master replied with an amused look on his face. "I know you just love to play the Doctor's dad, but you can't adopt us all." He mocked.
"I figured you might need some help." Wilf shrugged. "One day. When the Doctor is not around." He paused and stared at the Master, his old eyes shining with sympathy. "I know. It can't be easy for you. Not after what happened."
"Don't pity me old man." The Master replied in a soft voice. Teasing Wilf was fine, but now the old man was trying to venture into much darker territories where there will be monsters. "I've killed before. I've done more horrible things than you could ever imagine." He told him.
"But none of that has ever mattered to you. Until now." Wilf replied quietly. "You saved my life." He finally said. "I saw the look on your face when you…you killed her. I've seen that look before. Back in the war. In the army. Bright young lads, full of life, who went to the continent to fight, but came back hollow, aged into old men." Wilf paused. "It must be hard, trying to live with it."
The Master looked away for a moment, for Wilf's kindness had affected him more than he would ever admit. "I didn't-" He stopped. After all this time, the words still didn't want to come. "She said something to me, and I just, I couldn't…" He stared back at Wilf, who waited patiently.
The Master shook his head.
"Can't find the words, hey?" Wilf said, staring at him compassionately. "That's alright. At least you've reassured me now that the Doctor won't be traveling with some remorseless monster."
"Yeah. Right." The Master muttered with a sad smile.
"Keep the phone." Wilf repeated.
"You're one annoying old man." The Master told Wilf, but he was grateful, and slipped the mobile in his pocket.
The Master was about to head back to the Tardis when he thought of something. He turned back.
"Wilf, did you mean those things you said to me, about your granddaughter? What was her name again? That fiery redhead, Dena, Dina?"
"Donna. Her name is Donna."
"Donna!" The Master snapped his fingers, his eyes glimmering with a quick and sly intelligence. "That's right. Do you really want her to remember her time with the Doctor?"
"Oh, that would be the most amazing thing that I could wish for." Wilf said with a bleeding heart. "Only, that's impossible, right? Even the Doctor couldn't help her."
"The Doctor doesn't always know the answer to everything." The Master took a small object out of his pocket. It was Dea's silver earring that had once carried the white sphere. He handed it over to Wilf.
"Give this to her."
"What is it?"
"It's a third generation chameleon device. Not a very good one I must say, but I do know that the Timewarps have successfully used it to help them to return to their original form. I once had such a device, disguised as a seal ring, and it saved my life. This one, I wanted to keep for myself, just in case my guarantee on my immortality runs out. You never know when it comes in handy." He smirked. "But perhaps your granddaughter has more use for it right now. This little trinket will protect her and help to restore her memory."
"Thank you." Wilf blurted, lost for words.
"Thank yourself, old man." The Master said, embarrassed by his sudden act of kindness, he quickly headed back to the Tardis.
Wilf studied the earring lying in the palm of his hand. "Hang on." He muttered. "How does this thing work? Does it mean that I can tell her about the Doctor now?" But his voice hardly carried above the rising sound of the Tardis engine, and when Wilf raised his head, he was just in time to see the blue box dematerialize in front of his eyes.
Wilf didn't know what to do with the Master's gift. He kept it with him, tucked away inside his pocket, and once in while, when he was visiting Donna in her new flat or when she was coming over, he would hesitate to give it to her, but he never did. What was he supposed to tell her? Donna dear, I've this chameleon thing for you, and it will help you to remember a most wonderful man who took you traveling through time and space last year in a flying wooden box. Now that sounded really crazy. She would probably think that her grandfather had turned complete senile. Besides, Donna and Shaun were getting married now. They had picked out a date in April, and Donna being Donna, had been driving herself and everyone else close to exhaustion with planning this most important day of her life ever since the poor lad said yes to her proposal. So much had to be arranged, and she had been dragging her family from one expensive shop to another. The last few weeks had been just one mad sequence of cake shops, bridal bouquets, and flower parlors. There was hardly any time left for poor Wilf to talk to his granddaughter in private.
"What do you think gramps?" Donna asked, as she stood in front of the double mirror in her wedding dress and made an effort to suck in her tummy. They were in one of the more affordable bridal shops in Fleet Street. With Sylvia trapped in heavy traffic, Wilf was left alone in a tiny hallway waiting for his granddaughter to parade to him her choice of wedding dresses. "Do I look nice in it? Or is it like the other one…too much zeppelin trapped inside a sausage skin? Oh, who am I kidding? I never get those pounds off before April. I might as well go next door and buy a tent."
"Don't be silly. You look wonderful." Wilf gave her a peck on her cheek. "And don't let your mother tell you otherwise." Wilf wasn't lying. She looked beautiful. No man could set eyes on her and not fall a little bit in love with this blushing bride to be.
But Donna wasn't reassured. "I think the shoulders may be too big." She said, scrutinizing her reflection. "I'm telling you, they're absolutely humongous, like someone has stitched two puff-up pastries on this dress." She made a little twirl. "I can't wear this! Compared to that amount of shoulder padding my head looks like a shriveled little orange."
"I don't think your head looks too small at all." Wilf sighed. "You really shouldn't worry too much."
"I am a complete nerve wreck, that's what I am." Donna puffed a red lock of hair out of her face in desperation and sat down next to her granddad in a big balloon of lace and fabric. "I just…" She paused and gazed back at her granddad with a trace of panic in her eyes. "I don't want it to turn out like the last time. Gramps, I love this man. I don't want to mess it up…again."
"Now hang on. That's not fair. Last time wasn't your fault."
"If it wasn't my fault, why did Lance disappear on our wedding day?" Donna asked. Because of the meta-crisis, she remembered nothing of her deadly encounter with the Racnoss queen after the Doctor had wiped her mind. In her recollection, her treacherous fiance simply didn't show up at the altar. "I must have done something to upset him." She gave Wilf a funny look. "It was the dress, wasn't it?"
Wilf grabbed her hand and pinched it softly. "Of course it wasn't. What happened to Lance was…unfortunate, but maybe, that was just fate trying to tell you that he wasn't the right one you've been waiting for." Wilf swallowed, he knew he was supposed to be reminding her of how lucky she was to have Shaun now, but he still felt a nasty sting in his old heart when he recalled how happy she was when she traveling with the Doctor. Although she seemed content with her current life, Wilf knew that the old Donna wouldn't have wanted this.
"Shaun does love me, doesn't he?" She stared into the distance with a vacant expression on her face. "I think we should be very happy together." She added with a lack of conviction. It wasn't that she didn't love him, but sometimes, just sometimes, it was as if she knew that something was still missing in her life. Something very important.
"Oh well." She slapped on her knees to flatten down the bulgy dress and stood back up. "I should get on with it, still got 5 other dresses to try." She pushed the curtains of the fitting cabin to one side. "I better pick one out before mum gets here and I end up trying to strangle her with the bridal veil. I'm telling you, whatever she is going to say, I'm not going to wear a corset. If I am going to get married, I want to be able to breathe when I sit down and not be squeezed like a lemon."
Before she could head back inside, Wilf called out to her. "Donna."
In a moment of weakness, he had brought out the Master's little gift.
Donna turned back to her granddad. "Yes?"
Wilf licked his lips nervously while his thumb went over the smooth surface of the silver earring. "Before I forget, I have a little something for you." He showed the Dea's silver earring to her.
Donna's mouth dropped open as she took the jewel from her grandfather and held it between her thumb and fingers. Carefully, she turned the silver disk around to study the markings. "This is beautiful. Look at the pattern on this thing. It looks so old."
"Well it is. In a way." Wilf kept staring at her face, anxious to see if there was any change visible yet to reassure him that she was starting to remember the Doctor.
"You really shouldn't have bought me this." She said with a twinkle in her eyes. "This must have been very expensive."
"Oh, don't you worry. I got it from an old friend of mine. His wife died." He noticed the look on his granddaughter's face and realized what he just said. "It's not from his wife though." Wilf corrected himself quickly. "She never wore it. It was a family heirloom from her side of the family. I got it for an apple and an egg."
"Thanks gramps. It's absolutely wicked." She beamed and hugged him tightly. If she had been feeling a bit downhearted, Wilf's lovely gift had made her forget all about it again. "I am going to make it into a hanger for my silver necklace and wear it at the wedding. It would be perfect! Wait till Nerys sees this!" She shrieked excitedly. "I have to show this to her this. She is so gonna die!"
1824, prison de l'Abbaye, Paris
She had very little to prepare herself for the fateful day. On her final request, a small wooden box was bought to her tiny cell, with inside the very last of her belongings that the prison guards had allowed her to keep. There was an old wooden brush to comb her hair, a dented copper rougebox that she used to apply a little color to her lips and cheeks, and a small bottle of perfume with just a tiny drop left on the bottom. She dipped it behind her ears to cover the foul smell of fear and desperation that lingered around her like a shroud. Right before they came to collect her, she braided her long golden locks and pinned it down on top of her head, before covering her hair with a white bonnet. After she had washed her hands, she stared down at her reflection in the murky pail of water. Her hand gently touched her pearl earring that dangled from her left ear, as if to reassure herself that it was still there. Then she traced her thin, graceful neck down over her collar-bone till she caressed the silver locker that she always wore close to her heart.
Although she told herself that she was prepared, her blood still ran cold when she heard the heavy footsteps in the hall, followed by the turn of key in the rusty padlock.
She straightened her back till she stood tall and dignified. Calmly, she turned around to face the men.
"Madame." The French soldier informed her. "It is time."
She gazed back at her executioners with her green piercing eyes. "I am ready." Anne replied in a calm voice.
It puzzled Wilf that nothing happened after he had given the earring to Donna, but to be fair, she didn't have the chance to wear it very often. It went straight to the vault in Silvia's bedroom after she discovered what kind of ridiculously pricey present he had given his granddaughter. It only came out again when it was taken to the jeweler to be made into a necklace, and even then it was Silvia who was carrying it in her handbag instead of Donna, because she thought her clumsy daughter was bound to lose it somewhere on the way. When the necklace was finally finished, and Donna did get to try it on in the store, Wilf held his breath and kept staring at her in the hope to see a change. A twinkle in the eyes, a smile on her lips perhaps that told him that she finally remembered what she had lost. It didn't need to be much.
But he was disappointed.
Nothing happened, and Donna's life just went on as it had before.
It took weeks for Wilf to finally overcome this awful setback and to accept the idea that Donna would never regain her memories of the Doctor again. In the end, the conclusion was simple: The Master's little trinket didn't work. Wilf told himself that it was perhaps better this way. Maybe it was simply not meant to be, and Donna was supposed to lead a normal life just like everyone-else, one without all those wacky adventures and dangerous encounters with monsters and aliens. But still, when Wilf sometimes catches that lost look on her face, his old heart wept.
Time passed by. Soon it was April the 25th, the day that Donna and Shaun were to be married. Against all expectations, it was a beautiful and sunny spring day, and the tiny church in which the ceremony was going to take place was packed with relatives, friends and family, all gathered and dressed up to share this special day with the happy couple. The guests were already seated inside and were waiting for the bride while Wilf, dressed in his best three-piece suit, was still apprehensively pacing up and down in the porch, making himself ready to lead his granddaughter down the aisle.
He let a sigh of relief when Donna finally came out of the restroom. Quickly he handed the bouquet of flowers of white and pink roses back to her.
"That took quite some time. I thought you did a runner." He joked nervously.
"Sorry. It's these zippers, they're going everywhere, but just not where I can reach them apparently." She replied with flustered cheeks. She straightened her veil and carefully stroked the folds out of her dress. "Alright. How do I look? Do I look good? Do I look nice?" Donna rambled.
Wilf gazed at her, his eyes glistening. "More than nice. You look absolutely splendid. Your dad would have been so proud."
Donna sucked in a deep breath of air and smiled. "Thank you." She whispered, deeply moved. She gazed into the church where rows of friends and relatives were waiting for her. She took his hand and gave it a little squeeze. "Now, please gramps, hold my hand and walk me down the aisle. Don't let go till we reach Shaun, okay?"
Wilf nodded. They locked arms and walking side by side, they entered the church.
The guard pulled her down the cart and up the slippery steps of the scaffold, where the thick bed of straw was moist and stained by the blood of her unlucky predecessors. She was pushed forward, and suddenly she was staring at a sea of faces, all angry and hostile and shouting for her head. A pang of panic hit her. She whirled around and bumped into the large sweaty belly of the executioner, a lard barrel of a man wearing a black hood that covered his eyes. His breath stank of cheap beer and the decaying bits of meat stuck between his rotting teeth. "Bonjour Madame." He told her and grabbed her by her wrist. To her horror, he kissed her hand like a streetdog would lick a tasty bone. "Such delicate white skin. So very young and fresh." He whispered, before his meat-cleaver's hand grasped the back of her neck. "Such…a shame."
He pushed her down on the chopping board. Anne gasped when the cold sticky wetness of the wood touched her warm skin. When the upper wooden panel was lowered on her neck, she almost jumped, fearing that it was the blade of the guillotine dropping down on her.
The commander in charge of the execution stepped forward and raised his hand to silence the crowd. He was only partly succeeding in his efforts. The mob was like a pack of mongrel dogs, hungry for blood. Anne trembled like a leaf when the basket with cut-off heads was shoved below her. The dead aristocrats stared back at her with their last expressions of shock and horror frozen on their cold faces as they beckoned her to join them.
A shot was fired in the air by one of the commander's soldiers, and this time, the crowd did become silent. After clearing his throat, the commander tried again.
"Good citizens of Paris. Today is brought before you Madame Boleyn, the mistress of the late Marques de Lebrun, who has, in her greed and great arrogance made many offences against the good people of the Republic. For her crimes the Liberty court has condemned her to suffer the punishment of death."
He nodded to the executioner before he stepped back. A soldier behind Anne started ruffling a drum, and the blood-smeared blade of the guillotine was hosted up to the very top. Anne wanted to scream but forced herself to press her lips together. She had to keep faith. Her lord would not abandon her if she showed him that she was worthy, for wasn't it always how it worked for women like her?
"Madame Boleyn." The commander said, glancing down at her with as little compassion as a costumer would have waiting for the butcher to slice his piece of lam. "Would you have anything to say to the good citizens of Paris?"
Anne swallowed. "As a matter of fact, yes I have."
The officer signaled to the drummer to reduce the noise. "Madame?"
"Before I go. I beg you, let me pray to my lord."
The commander nodded. It was not an unreasonable request. "Of course Madame. As you wish."
Anne closed her eyes, trying to find that one little place of tranquility and control left inside her troubled and frightened mind, and began to pray.
"My lord, please save my soul. My lord, please save my soul." She could hear the drums rise again, and feel the rough hand of the executioner brush aside the last wandering locks of hair to clear the path for the blade. She stole a look at her audience, and was horrified to find the dark hooded creature standing at the back. The tall figure was dressed in a long black robe, and his face was a grinning skull with blue fires burning where the eyes should have been. The crescent blade of his scythe caught the late afternoon sun and scattered beams of light in all directions. No-one else but her could notice his presence. He was here to collect her soul, a debt for which her payment was long since overdue. Horrified, she shut her eyes. Her fear had now become a palatable thing, a bitter creature that lived inside her mouth and dried her tongue. Still, she kept praying, her lips moving quickly as she kept repeating the words.
"Please my lord, save my soul. My lord, save my soul. Save my soul…"
Her pearl earring suddenly shone with a strange light, as if someone was reflecting a beam of sunlight at the unfortunate girl using a mirror to trouble her in her final hours. Few in the audience noticed it at first, but then the light grew brighter, and larger, till even Anne picked up the harsh brightness through her eyelids. Still too frightful to look at the hooded figure, she opened her eyes and fixed them on the fear struck audience below. An old croon standing near the scaffold pointed at her with a shaking hand.
"Witch!" She shouted, her wrinkled old face was struck by fear. "She is a dirty witch!"
Her wild allegations caused wide spread turmoil and panic. A woman screamed and fainted. The sensation-hungry men and women at the back pushed their way forward to the front row to get a better look at her, while the God-fearing people in the front tried to elbow their way back and made the sign of the cross for protection.
"Kill her!" A man shouted. "Quickly, before she summons her master the devil!"
"No!" A woman yelled. "Don't do it with a blade! She will come back as a headless ghost and haunt us! If she is a witch, she must be burned!"
"Yes! Burn her! Burn her!" Came the consensus from the crowd.
The executioner, who was a cruel but simple-minded man, looked at the commander with an expression of pained confusion on his face. "What should I do sir? I am not qualified to perform public burnings. You need another license for that."
"Ignore them you buffoon." The commander hissed, staring at the restless crowd with growing concern. "Do your job, and be quick with it before this gets out of hand!"
"Yes sir." The executioner replied, and continued hoisting up the heavy blade with renewed confidence till the back struck the wooden beam at the top. "On your signal sir."
Anne took in a deep breath. It may be her very last.
"Now!" The commander ordered.
The drums stopped and the blade fell, dropping all the way down in a fraction of a second. It sliced through nothing but air, coming only to a final halt when it cut into the wooden support beam below.
"Don-Donna…?" Shaun stared into the face of the pale blond who had suddenly appeared before him. He stepped back and blinked his eyes in disbelief. On the spot where his fiance and would-be bride stood only a second before, was now another woman, a total stranger, who was wearing her wedding dress and holding her bouquet. "Who…who are you?" Shaun muttered, with eyes as big as saucers.
Anne was equally shocked. One moment ago she had been facing almost certain death by the guillotine in front of an angry mob in Paris. But now she had suddenly ended up in front of the altar with a Moor, wearing a oversized gown in a church filled with wide-eyed strangers.
"Oh my Lord." She whispered in both relief and gratitude. "You do work in mysterious ways." She quickly picked up her gown and started heading for the exit, knowing that the groom and the bride's family wouldn't be too pleased about the sudden disappearance of the unlucky girl who had surely taken her place. Making good use of the overall confusion, she was able to walk halfway back the aisle when an old man blocked her way and grabbed her by the arm.
"Donna?" Wilf muttered. For a moment, he was doubtful if the Master's device had somehow altered Donna, changing her from a fiery redhead into a pale blond. But one look into her green piercing eyes, and he quickly regained his wit. "You're not my granddaughter!" He said with great certainty. "What the heck have you done to her?"
"Let go of me old man." She pulled away from hem and started to run.
"Hey! Stop! Come back!" Wilf shouted.
"What's Donna doing? I thought she really wanted to marry this bloke?" Gladys said, as she watched the bride rush by.
"That's not Donna! It's someone else!" Wilf shouted, as he came running after her. Catch her! She might know where she is!"
Anne was almost out of the church when someone grabbed hold of her bridal veil and jerked her back.
She swirled around in surprise, and stared right into Silvia's very angry face.
"Oh no, you're not leaving before you tell me where my daughter is you blond little tart." Silvia hissed. "What are you, an alien? What did you do to her?"
"Close the doors!" Wilf yelled, waving his hands at the men sitting closest to the entrance. At the altar, Shaun had finally snapped out of his trance and was rushing over to Silvia's aid. Anne panicked. Spinning around, she pulled away from the elder woman with force and headed for the way out. A sharp pain cut through her left earlobe when the bridal veil was pulled from her head. She barely noticed it. With Donna's worried family following close at her heels, she rushed out of the church and into the streets.
April 2020, London Library, London.
The letters on the page started to dance in front of his eyes, making it almost impossible to keep his mind on what was already a very boring text. The Doctor sighed and removed his dark-rimmed glasses.
"For the last time, will you please stop doing that? I'm trying to read here!"
The Master, who sat at the other side of the desk, stopped playing with the light switch of the table lamp for a moment. It was one of those old-fashioned ones, with a green glass hood and a base of solid bras. It fitted perfectly in the sophisticated antique decor of the London library where they currently were, although the charm of the place had long since been lost to the Doctor's companion. The Master was absolutely bored out of his mind. They had been stuck in the library for what seemed ages after the Doctor had dragged him here do some research on the origin of the Infinity Corp. Three days of cultivating mold inside a reading room wasn't exactly the Master's idea of having a stupendous amount of fun.
"Can't we go anywhere else?" The Master asked in a whiny voice. "And why the hell are you still reading?" He added sourly.
"Because, unlike you, I'm still investigating." The Doctor replied, trying hard to remain calm when his companion started playing with the desk-light again. On and off. On and off it went. Like he was having some mad seizure.
"You know, you are a very slow reader." The Master commented with a big yawn.
The Doctor peered over the rim of his volume. "Don't you have something to read?" He urged.
"Oh I've finished my assignment ages ago." The Master nodded at the dusty volumes piled up high next to him. "Nothing interesting in there except for a couple of references on that secret brotherhood of 15th century monks who mark their members with that same emblem of the Infinity Corporation. It appears that our religious brothers don't take their vows of celibacy too seriously, considering the amount of bills they have to settle for the good company of the fairer sex." He grinned. "But except for that juicy bit, it was quite a boring read really."
"Well, there are still enough records left that we need to go through. If you've got nothing to do, why don't you take the next section?" The Doctor suggest, not without irritation. "The 18th century archives are on the second floor. Be my guest."
The Master wrinkled up his nose. "You're joking. I didn't rush through those dusty volumes to earn myself yet another load of boring reading material to numb my brain and torture my neurons to death. Go read it yourself."
"Fine. Just leave me alone then." The Doctor replied. "It could take a while though. Like you said, I am such so slow reader." He added with a little grin.
The Master sucked in his cheeks, leaned forward and aimed the desk light right on his companion's face. He started tapping madly on the light-switch till the light flashed like a migraine picture show right into the Doctor's eyes.
The Doctor might have more patience with him than with any other of his companions, but this time, the Master had pushed him a too far. The Doctor jumped under the desk and pulled the pin contact out of the socket, before staring at the Master with a look that would make a sane man's blood run cold. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly work on the Master.
"I said, stop it!" Hissed the Doctor.
"Fine." Snapped the Master with a child-like defiance. "If you want to play it that way." He turned around and waved at the lady librarian who attended a desk nearby. "Hey you." He shouted, breaking the silence in the reading room and making all the other visitors turn their heads. "Could you help us out here miss?"
The irritated librarian came rushing over to the two strange gentlemen. "Could you please lower your voice sir?" She asked in polite but urgent tune. "This is a designated study area. Our guests here do appreciate silence."
"I apologize my dear." The Master smiled most charmingly at her. "What is your name? Oh don't tell, I bet it is Charlene. You do look like a Charlene to me."
The librarian furrowed her pretty brows. "How did you…?"
"Stop poking inside her head!" The Doctor hissed. "Didn't I tell you to stop doing that to people!"
"Charlene my dear." The Master continued, fully ignoring the Doctor with a mischievous look in his eyes. "Now you probably wonder why my companion and I are stuck here inside this dusty reading room while outside the sun is shining and the birds are singing. We're doing a little research and need some help to finish it. So if you could be so kind to help us out, than perhaps we still have a chance to get out of here before I start sprouting roots."
"Well, if you need to know where you can find certain volumes, I can assist you." Charlene the librarian answered.
"Wonderful!" The Master replied in a voice that was a tad too loud for the Doctor's likings. "Now my nerdy friend here is trying to find out more about late 20th century pornography. He's particularly interested in the culture of human exploitation of women in the northern hemisphere. So if you could point us in the right direction where to find some historical documentation on that subject, we would be so grateful!"
The Doctor turned red while the Master stared back at the blushing girl with a content smirk on his face.
"You mean…you want…" Charlene blurted.
"Pornographic journals." The Master said in a calm voice, as if was perfectly normal to ask for such a thing. "Preferably with clear visual representations of the human female reproduction organs. I think my companion here is particularly fixated on the mammary glands. So if you could bring us more documentation about those?"
"I am NOT fixated on mammary glands…" The Doctor stammered, his eyes wide with naive innocence, and getting redder and more embarrassed by the minute. "I'm sorry, he's not serious about anything, just ignore him…He's rambling…"
"Of course you are fixated, you've been staring at dear Charlene's glands ever since we sat down here." The Master said and turned to the shocked librarian. "He told me he has especially picked out this desk, so he could study your assets from the most optimal angle."
Charlene covered her breasts and stared at the Doctor with a look of pure disgust on her face.
"Don't listen to him please. I'm not like that! I swear I am not the least interested in your breasts!" The Doctor blurted out in one breath. He suddenly noticed the 20 pairs of eyes across the reading room that were staring at him in the most unfavorable way.
"Oh come on, don't be too shy to admit it." The Master continued, turned back to Charlene. "Sure he's smitten by you. Or he wouldn't have wasted an entire afternoon to try to discover what was underneath your skirt yesterday."
"Get out of my face you sick pervert!" Charlene cried, furious and slamming the heavy volume that was lying in front of the Doctor shut. "And take that creep with you!" She added, pointing at the grinning Master.
"You know, it still surprises me that with your supposed massive intellect, you're absolutely no match against the fury of a scorned woman." The Master told him with a content smirk when they were making their way out of building as quickly and as discreetly as possible.
"She was completely embarrassed and humiliated." The Doctor told him, pacing angrily down the staircase. "Nothing what I could have said would have helped after the damage that you've done."
"Oh was that why you acted like a mindless gobbling turkey in front of her?" The Master commented teasingly. "For a moment I thought you had swallowed your tongue."
The Doctor took in a deep breath and counted slowly back to ten to ease down the angry tirade that was welling up inside him. He had to repeatedly remind himself to be more patience with him. Unfortunately, this kind of calamities had not been uncommon lately. The Master had been acting absolutely impossible ever since their last disastrous encounter with Lucy Cole. The Doctor knew very well that he had not yet been able to deal with the tragic demise of his ex-wife, for which his stubborn companion was still largely blaming himself. The way that the Master was acting out his frustration on him was his way of coping with his grief by simply denying that it ever existed. Some day, the Doctor should confront him with this, but today, he settled on giving him a scrutinizing look as they headed back inside the Tardis.
"Finally! No more dusty old books and frigid librarians!" The Master sighed, clapping in his hands and slamming the door behind him with his back. He was all too eager to get the hell out of here.
The Doctor went over to the Tardis control to face the vibrant display of dials and rows of flashy warning lights that were supposed to be informative, but from which true meanings had been lost with the disappearance of the instruction manual ever since the Doctor had redecorated the cockpit. Worriedly, he wondered how long it would take for Charlene to forget about this embarrassing encounter. One week? Two weeks? A month perhaps? He imagined how each of his female companions would have reacted, and finally settled on a safe bet of 5 years.
The Master, glad that he finally got it his way, leaned towards the Doctor over the console. "Tell me my dear companion." He said with a triumphant grin. "Where are we heading now?"
The Doctor shot him a disapproving glance, and then began to step lightly around the console, flicking switches and feeding coordinates in the helmic regulator without meeting his gaze. If the Master thought that their boring study days in the London library were over, he was wrong. Let's hope Charlene won't hold a grudge all the way until 2025.
The Doctor had just started the engines when a cell phone rang. Slightly surprised, but assuming that it was the small mobile that Martha had given him in case of emergencies, he patted down his many pockets to find the phone.
He punched in the receive button "Yes hello?" He said, but all he heard was the monotonous hum of an empty phone-line. The doctor cocked an eyebrow. "Martha? Is that you?" He tried. To his surprise, the phone rang again.
"What's going on?" The Doctor muttered, looking at the device in his hand with a look of puzzlement.
"Oh wait a minute. That's probably mine." The Master opted, gracefully fishing out a small blue mobile out of his pocket.
"You've got a mobile phone?" The Doctor asked, astonished.
"Wilf gave it to me. I think it might be him." The Master explained as if was the most normal thing in the world that one of Doctor's old companions would give him a ring. "Oh don't throw a fuzz." Noticing the change of expression on the Doctor's face. "The old man probably caught a glimpse of a two-headed horse or something. He's quite easily impressed."
"You've got a mobile phone from Wilf?" The Doctor repeated.
The Master rolled his eyes at him and stuck a finger in his ears to block out the noise.
"Wilf, is that you? Why are you calling me?"
"Let me talk to him." The Doctor muttered, but the Master held him off like a schoolboy with an interesting toy who didn't want his mate to get his greasy hands all over it.
"What?" He said, smiling delightfully, "I'm sorry. The reception is really dreadful. There are some serious disturbances in the space-time continuum in this place. Can you repeat what you just said about…what's her name… Dina…Donna?"
"Donna? What's wrong with Donna?" The Doctor asked, immediately worried.
The Master put his finger on his lips and shushed at the Doctor. Somehow, he didn't seem so pleased with the call anymore. "Yes. I know she's your only granddaughter, but what the heck are you yelling at me for? Why are you so upset?"
At the other end of the line, 18 years, 4 months and 3 days back in time, Wilf was quickly losing his patience and his temper. "You liar!" He shouted. "You told me that it was going to bring her memory back! You never told me that it was going to make her disappear!"
"Bring her memory back? What are you rambling about?…Oh wait…" The Master suddenly remembered his little parting gift. "The Timewarp sisters…You gave her that silver earring." He muttered, feeling his insides turn when he noticed the anxious look that appeared on the Doctor's face while he followed his side of the conversation.
"That cursed thing, she wore it on her wedding day and now she's gone!" Wilf cried. "Where is my granddaughter! What have you done to her? Tell me you swine!"
"I have done nothing! Don't blame me for your misfortunes, you crazy old loon!" The Master yelled back through the speaker. The Doctor leaped forward and pulled the cell-phone out of his hand. "That chameleon device was a real treasure." The Master pointed out to him, visibly annoyed. "I knew I should have kept it for myself instead of wasting it on these ungrateful biped apes!"
"You let Wilf hand over a powerful alien device to an Earth woman in full hibernation of a meta-crisis? What are you thinking? Are you insane?" The Doctor shouted back at him.
"He wanted it!" The Master yelled in a fit of self-righteous anger, waving his arms wildly. "He was all crying about how sad it was that his precious little Donna would never regain her memory of you again. I just gave him the chance to set things right. Why the hell is everybody now blaming me for?"
It was the clear frustration on the Master's face that convinced the Doctor that he was speaking the truth. "Wilf." The Doctor spoke as calmly as possible through the line, while giving the Master a lingering, disapproving look. "It's me, tell me what's going on."
"Oh Doctor! I am so glad to hear your voice!" Wilf sighed. "It's Donna. She has disappeared again, right on her wedding day. Oh and they say things never happen the same way twice!" He sadly shook his head. "She was standing there, right at the altar next to Shaun when that chameleon thing started to glow. Then the light became really bright, like the sun had come up inside the church. We couldn't see a thing. When it finally faded, Donna was gone…she was…she was sort of replaced."
"What do you mean...replaced?" The Doctor asked.
"Well instead of Donna, another girl, I think it was a blond, was standing on her spot. She was wearing Donna's wedding dress and shoes everything. I thought that it was because the chameleon device had finally worked, so I ran up to take care of her because she seemed confused and scared. She was even running away from Shaun. I caught her and looked her right in the eyes. She wasn't Donna. She was really someone else." Wilf voice broke. "Doctor, you've got to help us."
"And I will." The Doctor reassured him. "I will help you, but first you have to calm down and tell me where you are."
"Oh…Um, I'm in the holy church of the Sacred Hearts in London."
"Right!" The doctor rushed over to the keyboard and started typing the new coordinates. "And what day is it?"
"It's April the 25th, around 12 o'clock in the early afternoon." Wilf answered hurriedly.
"April the 25th, 2011." The Doctor muttered while he typed in the date. His skinny fingers danced over the strange arrays and dials. "Oh that's a beautiful day to get married. Beautiful. Plenty of sunshine with hardly a cloud in the sky. Donna should be thrilled." He smiled, trying to keep the old man's spirit up.
"Oh she was." Wilf said, and a sad little smile crossed his lips. "I wanted to invite you, but I didn't know how to send out the invitation and Silvia kept nagging about how dangerous it would be to have you here." Wilf paused and bit on his lower lip. "I'm sorry. You should have been here. If you were here today, nothing awful would have happened to her."
"Don't worry Wilf." The Doctor replied. "We're coming right now. Stay where you are and wait for us. We will bring her back, I promise."
And with that last message, the phone line went dead.
Wilf slipped his cell-phone back inside his breast-pocket. An awful feeling was still playing up inside his stomach, but at least he was reassured that help was on the way. He went outside, ignoring the confused family members and friends who had left their seats and were standing around in the aisle, filling the church with worried whispers. Out in the garden, he passed by a couple of Donna's friends grouped around Nerys who were busy smoking a fag while gossiping. He greeted them hastily, and went around the corner where an old hedge obscured him from their view. There he waited, assuming that this would be a perfect spot for the Tardis to land, and felt a wave of relief wash over him when he finally picked up the gruff, rasping sound of the Tardis engines.
The blue doors flew open and the Doctor rushed out first. "Wilf! Where is the blond girl you mentioned?"
"Oh Doctor, finally! She's not here! She ran away as soon as she had the chance." Wilf's eyes narrowed with hostility when he saw the Master appear behind the Doctor. "Oh you've got nerves to show up here! After all that you've done!"
The Master was about to say something really unpleasant to the old man when the Doctor was luckily a little bit quicker with his reply. "He has nothing to do with it. Believe me. You shouldn't blame him." He explained.
"But he gave me that Timewasp thing! It made Donna disappear!" Wilf objected.
"For the record, that was a perfectly working chameleon device to help her unlock her memories. It would have absorbed the excess energy from the Timelord meta-crisis once she started remembering her old self, not make her disappear into thin air, you senile old fool!" The Master pointed out aggressively.
"You're absolutely right. It shouldn't make her disappear…unless." The Doctor paused and gave the Master a pensive look.
"Unless…it was used a link." The Master guessed.
The Doctor slapped his forehead. "Of course! Someone must have tapped into that energy release from the meta-crisis to establish a two-way connection. And coming from a full-blown Timelord meta-crisis, that's a huge amount of energy! You could do anything with that!" He suddenly stopped with his ramblings when he realized the dreadful truth. "Donna could be anywhere." He muttered. "She could be on the other side of the galaxy! She could even be dragged through the timevortex into another century!" The Doctor paused, realizing that he wasn't exactly putting poor Wilf at ease with his mad guesses.
"If you are still wondering what he's babbling about, it means that your Donna is pretty much screwed." The Master said to Wilf with a vindictive little smile.
"Shut up you." The Doctor told the Master in an annoyed voice. "Wilf, don't listen to him. Don't worry. It doesn't mean that we can't get her back." he put his hands on his shoulders and stared Wilf in the eyes. "Take us where you last saw her."
Wilf led them inside the church and pointed out an empty spot in front of the altar. The Doctor knelt down to examine it more closely. He ran with his finger over the floor, and rubbed the dirt between his fingers while he sniffed thoughtfully. "Smells like the ocean after a thunderstorm, which mean it must be subatomic static." The Doctor mumbled. The Master reacted slightly nauseated when the Doctor put his dust-covered finger in his mouth. "Oh please, is that necessary? That can be never very hygienic."
"What is it Doctor?" Wilf asked with much concern.
"I think it's time dust." The Doctor sucked on his tongue to get a better taste of it. "Whenever time is disturbed, for example when something or someone is forced or pushed through a breach, you get a trail of these tiny subnano particles, sort of breadcrumbs of time, left behind where the rift has been after it was closed. They are sucked in by the vacuum that was created by the transfer."
"Subnano-what? I can't really follow you." Wilf muttered in complete confusion.
The Doctor was about to explain it to Wilf in elaborate but more simple terms when the Master rudely interrupted him. "Oh never mind that." The Master said. "They're useless. We can't track her down using only this. We need the original link. We need the chameleon device."
The Doctor turned to Wilf. "You said the blond was wearing Donna's clothes?"
"Yes she did." Wilf's face lit up in panic when he realized. "You think she still got the earring?"
"We need it back. Only then we will be able to find out where Donna went. Wilf, how long ago did the blond girl leave the church?"
"I dunno." Wilf shrugged nervously. "I called you as soon after she did a runner. A good ten minutes perhaps?"
The Doctor started rushing back. "Which way did she go?"
"She went through the frontgarden and turned left at the corner of the street."
"Right, I am going after her. A young girl dressed in a wedding gown running down the busy streets of London in the middle of the day, shouldn't be so difficult to find. You." He pointed deliberately at the Master who was already heading for the exit with him. "You're not coming with me. You stay here with Wilf."
"What? Stay here and babysit the old and the senile?" The Master scoffed.
"I need you to keep an eye on the rift." The Doctor replied.
"But it's closed up. Nothing's going to happen to it!"
"Just do it. And don't, and I mean Don't frighten any of these people in here." The Doctor told him firmly, wagging his finger at him. "Don't insult them, don't go poking inside their heads, nothing, nuffink, nada, understand? It's enough chaos already. We don't need more problems to complicate things."
"Fine." The Master muttered grudgingly. "I'll just talk pleasantly to them then."
"Oh, no you don't! Don't say a word to them." The Doctor said hurriedly, remembering how wrong that went in the London Library. "Just stand there and don't do anything." He added, before he swirled around and went in pursuit of the fugitive.
"Why don't I just stop breathing as well?" The Master shouted after him, but the Doctor was already gone.
"That selfish git. He always gets all the fun." The Master grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest before he turned to Wilf. From the corners of his eyes, he caught sight of Shaun and watched with amusement how the unlucky groom was still on the phone trying to talk to the police to convince them to go look for Donna while his kind and supportive parents tried their best to put the worried wedding guests at ease. "I must say granddad, this party is pretty dead." The Master remarked with a little grin, just to stir up trouble.
Wilf shook his head exasperatedly. "Oh I can't believe I felt sorry for you and gave you my phone."
"At least you did one thing right." The Master replied and clapped in his hands. "Right. When is the bar open? I swear I could murder someone for a drink."
Wilf looked at him, astonished. "We don't have a bar in here. This is a church ceremony. Aren't you supposed to keep an eye on the rift?"
"Well it's not going anywhere, is it?" The Master said sourly. "And why isn't there a bar in here? How can you not serve any drinks on a wedding? Were you on a really tight budget or something?"
Before Wilf could open his mouth to tell him what an incredible selfish prick he was, Sylvia came over to them to have an urgent talk with her dad.
"Dad, was that the Doctor? I thought I saw him, just a minute ago."
"Yes. Yes it was the Doctor. I gave him call. He's here to help us find Donna." Her father explained.
"Oh you shouldn't have done that!" Sylvia's exclaimed with a most disapproving look. "He can't turn up at the wedding. What if Donna sees him!"
"Well she is not exactly here, is she?" The Master noted, rolling his eyes at so much idiocy.
Sylvia finally noticed the strange man standing next to Wilf. "Who is this?" She asked, pulling a face as if she had just encountered something very unpleasant.
"Oh…um, that's someone the Doctor brought along. A friend of some sort." Wilf tried to explain rather reluctantly.
"He…looks very familiar." Sylvia muttered warily. There was something peculiar about him that her memories could not quite place, yet.
"What's that you're holding?" Wilf asked, pointing at the crumbled lace that she had in her hands.
"Oh, this. It came from that blond trollop. I pulled it from her head when I tried to stop her from running away. It's her wedding veil. Actually, it's Donna's wedding veil. Everything she wore was Donna's." Sylvia added with a sharp, bitter tune in her voice. "Oh, I still remember her getting all excited about picking out this floral pattern, and she adored these little pearls." She said, taking in a deep breath. Whatever other people might think of her. Sylvia was a strong woman. She didn't do drama. It was just not in her character, and in times like these all she could do was transform all her worries and grief into a kind of annoyed anger. "I just hated watching that imposter walk away with my daughter's wedding dress!" She stated with pain in her heart.
Wilf put a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry Sylvia. She's going to come back."
"There is blood on it." The Master remarked.
Wilf and Sylvia looked at him with puzzled looks on their faces.
The Master sighed, once again agitated by the very slowness of the minds of these human apes. "On the veil. There's a blood stain on the veil." Without asking, he snatched the veil out of Sylvia's hand and held up a fold that showed a small patch of red the size of a coin. "Our mystery blond is bleeding. How come?"
"Well, I don't know. Don't look at me like that! I didn't hurt her or anything. I was just trying to stop her from running away." Sylvia said defensively.
"I think you may have made a nasty cut in her earlobe." The Master noted with a glint in his eyes, unhooking the small glistening object from the bundle of fabric. He held it up against the light. "Oh look at what we have here." He muttered, delighted by his finding.
"That's not Donna's" Sylvia commented, furrowing her brows.
Wilf came closer to study it. "What is that…a pearl earring?"
"That's not a pearl. I thought you might recognize it. You've certainly seen it before." The Master glanced sideways at Wilf. "It's a Timewarp cocoon." He revealed.
"What…you mean the same ones that those Roman witches had in Ephesus?"
"What do you know, that's a correct guess. You're not so dim after all." The Master replied with a wide grin, and spun the trinket in the air before catching it and putting it away. "Come on granddad, let's get out of here. Or do you want to stay put to sulk and moan with the rest of the graying herd?"
"Where are you going?" Wilf asked, alarmed when he saw him heading for the door.
The Master was already half-way down the aisle, but turned around. "I'm going after Nerd-boy. I'm finished here."
"But, the Doctor told us to wait here and keep an eye on that rift thing."
"What are you, his obedient dog?" The Master scoffed. "It's closed and dead. Meaning it's not going to be activated any time soon. Besides, we've got what we wanted. There is no use to stay here and get bored, unless you really want me to get more acquainted with your lovely family." He added with a grin. Coming from the Master, it was more like a threat than a friendly proposal. It certainly convinced Wilf.
"Where are you going dad?" Sylvia exclaimed, amazed when she saw her dad going after the Timelord. "Don't follow him. Have you lost your mind? Whatever the Doctor is doing right now, it's bound to be dangerous. On your age, you should think of your health!"
"Huh, if you think I'm old, you should check his birth certificate." Wilf half-joked.
"Don't go!" Sylvia stamped her feet on the floor. "I forbid it! Do you hear me dad?"
But as was often the case with Sylvia's aggressive way of communication, the louder she shouted, the faster Wilf and the Master were getting the hell away from her.
Please review and respond, It keeps me motivated to carry on writing!