STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC and "One Night in Bangkok" belongs to Murray Head… and I hope he forgives me for what I've done to it later on in this fic! I'm not making any money from this, either.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: Gallifreyan naming style doesn't belong to me. I first saw it in Warinbabylon's fic Twenty Questions, which I highly recommend.
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me.
The TARDIS scanner suddenly flared white, its own dampers dimming the glare of the explosion both to prevent the screen itself from being burned out and to protect the eyes of any viewers.
"What was that?" Tegan cried.
Turlough bent over the TARDIS console. "Radiation signature characteristic of – " he broke off, astounded.
He looked up at her. "Of the destruction of a TARDIS."
Tegan gaped at him. "We've got to get out here – " she began.
"The Doctor told us to stay here," he reminded her. "We still don't know what's going on yet. Someone's been mucking about with time in your present day Bangkok."
"Another Time Lord, probably," Tegan mused, indicating the destroyed TARDIS with a wave towards the scanner, which now displayed a view of downtown Bangkok at night. "What could destroy a TARDIS, anyway?"
Turlough shrugged. "From what little I understand about TARDISes, I would guess a small number of things. In this place and time, the most likely culprit would be a nuclear weapon."
"Someone's detonated a nuclear weapon in downtown Bangkok?" Tegan's eyes were so wide with shock that they threatened to swallow her face. "But the buildings are all still standing!"
"Hmm, yes," Turlough frowned, looking thoughtful. "The destroyed TARDIS probably absorbed the full force of the blast." He glanced at some readings on the control console. "Yes, radiation levels appear normal. That would explain it."
"That's it," Tegan said, grabbing her coat from the coat stand and hurrying toward the main doors. "I'm going to find the Doctor!"
"No, Tegan," Turlough said, grabbing her arm. "You mustn't!"
"Let go of me!" she said angrily, wrenching her arm free of his grasp.
"Tegan, you can't – "
"Shh!" she hushed him. "What's that noise?" They broke off their argument to listen. "Do you hear that?"
"Yes," he replied.
Someone was frantically pounding on the main doors.
"It must be the Doctor!" Tegan said with relief, moving to throw the red switch that opened the doors.
Turlough stopped her with a single sentence. "The Doctor has a key."
The two time travelers exchanged a glance, and then turned their attention to the scanner.
"I don't believe it," Tegan said, sounding disgusted. "Of all the bloody nerve – "
"Open the doors!" the Master cried. "Please, you must open the doors!"
The usually immaculately turned out villain was looking decidedly worse for wear; his hair was a tangled mess, sweat and blood ran down his face, and his black velvet clothes were torn in several places, showing ugly red gashes in the flesh beneath.
Running feet could be heard approaching from the distance. The Master's head turned briefly in that direction, then back toward the scanner's external camera.
"Please! You must hurry! They'll kill us!" He shifted, laboriously pulling something up into view.
It was the Doctor.
He appeared to be in even worse shape than the Master, for the evil Time Lord was at least still conscious. The Doctor's head lolled bonelessly back against the Master's velveted shoulder. He had lost his cricket sweater and his coat along with his TARDIS key in its pocket somewhere along the way, and his white shirt and blond hair were both stained dark with blood.
"Tegan! It's a trap!" Turlough cried, grabbing her hand before she could hit the door switch. "Look at him – he's already dead!"
Tegan watched the Doctor on the scanner for a few moments.
"He's not dead, he's unconscious," she finally said clinically.
"But how do you know?" Turlough demanded.
"Because he's not regenerating," she told him in a reasonable tone, her hand coming down decisively on the door switch.
"Tegan!" Turlough yelled, but it was too late. The doors swung open to admit the Master, who was dragging the unconscious Doctor behind him.
Tegan was about to snap at him for his rough handling of her friend when the Master sagged against the control console, his legs finally giving out on him. She realized that it had taken nearly all he had just to get them both back to the TARDIS in one piece, and held her tongue. Instead, she and Turlough went to the Doctor, kneeling on the floor on either side of him.
With effort, the Master pulled himself together and hit the door switch, and then began setting coordinates.
Tegan expertly felt at the Doctor's neck for a pulse, and then laid a hand on his forehead.
"He's definitely not regenerating," she said at last, sitting back on her heals.
"No, he is unconscious," The Master said without looking up from the TARDIS controls.
Tegan glanced up and saw what he was doing.
"What do you think you're doing?" she demanded, though the answer was obvious.
"Those barbarians have already destroyed one TARDIS with their primitive nuclear device," he replied absently, absorbed in his work. "I don't think we should allow them the opportunity to destroy this one as well, do you? Especially as we're all inside it."
Tegan saw his point and couldn't think of any appropriate nasty retort to make, so she settled for sending an angry glare in his direction instead. Soon, the Time Rotor lit up and began moving. She wondered vaguely where they were going, but couldn't seem to summon the emotional energy to ask the question or to cope with the answer.
"Let's get the Doctor to sickbay," she told Turlough heavily. She glanced at the Master. "And you need medical attention as well," she continued in a grudging tone.
"Why would you – " Turlough began.
"Because the Doctor would want it," she said harshly, almost angrily. She gestured at their unconscious friend. "Come on, help me move him."
Shrugging, Turlough obeyed. Together, they carried the limp Time Lord out of the console room, with the Master limping along behind them.
Turlough looked up from the diagnostic monitors and shook his head. "He's got a fractured skull and some brain trauma. We're not equipped to handle injuries like this here," he told Tegan. "We've got to get him to better medical facilities or he'll die."
"Or he'll regenerate," Tegan reminded him.
Turlough, who had not seen regeneration first hand as she had, seemed to keep forgetting that it existed.
"Or he'll regenerate," he repeated, nodding in agreement. "And how is our other patient?" he asked ironically, gesturing at the other bed where the Master lay unconscious.
She shrugged. "Dunno, He doesn't seem to be getting any worse. That's about all I can tell from these crazy machines."
Turlough walked over to take a look himself.
"Hmm," he said thoughtfully. "He's suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. Aside from the nasty gash in his right thigh, his injuries are confined to superficial cuts and contusions. He hasn't lost enough blood to be in any real danger, and that gash in his leg has already begun healing." He glanced up at Tegan. "Must be those regenerative powers they've all got."
Tegan frowned. "But he's on his last regeneration, and that body isn't even his! He stole it from Nyssa's father!"
Turlough shrugged. "These readings say that his anatomy and physiology are as Gallifreyan as the Doctor's. Two hearts and all the rest. Don't expect me to explain it, because I can't," he told her. "I am not a bioengineer like Nyssa, and I don't understand it any better than you. I'm just reporting the facts."
She sighed. "So what are we going to do?" she asked.
Turlough thought for a moment. "I suppose we'll have to take the Doctor back to Gallifrey," he finally said. "It's the only place that would have facilities capable of treating him. Frankly, with the state his brain's in, I'm not optimistic about him being able to regenerate if his body eventually fails completely."
"But we can't fly this crate, and I can't imagine the Master taking us there… at least not willingly!"
"Now there's a thought," Turlough mused, picking up a syringe and studying it thoughtfully. "Maybe we can convince him. I wonder if hypnotic drugs work on Time Lords."
Tegan began to protest, appalled by the idea of using pharmaceutical mind control to force someone to obey her will, but then recalled that were the situation reversed, the Master wouldn't scruple to use less humane methods of persuasion. Plus, the Doctor's life was at stake.
"All right," she finally agreed. "But I won't feel right about this unless we give him the opportunity to do it on his own first. If he doesn't agree, then we give him the drugs."
"You mean you're going to wake him up and ask him nicely?" Turlough asked, stunned.
She nodded. "That's what the Doctor would do, don't you think? He's unarmed – I made bloody sure of that! – so it's not as if he can hurt us, even if he were in any shape for it."
Without waiting for a reply, she bent over the Master and gently shook his shoulder. "Wakey wakey," she told him.
His eyes flicked open and gradually focused on her, and he gave her a vague, dreamy smile.
"Beautiful one," he said. Her eyes opened wide with shock, and he chuckled weakly. "It is only your name, my dear. Did you not know the literal translation of the name 'Tegan'?"
"No, and I can't believe that you did!" she told him.
He made a motion like a weak shrug. "I make it my business to know these things," he murmured. "I assume you interrupted my sleep because you want something."
She nodded. "Yeah," she told him, steeling herself for his reaction to her next words. "We need you to take us somewhere."
His eyebrows went up. "Where?"
She and Turlough exchanged a glance.
"Home," she said finally. "Your home. Gallifrey."
When he laughed this time, it was stronger, more like the Master-ly laugh Tegan knew and abhorred. She suppressed a shudder.
"Oh, my dear!" he said, still chuckling. She had expected an outright refusal; his next words shocked her. "You saw me set the coordinates. Wherever did you think we were going?"
"You mean we're already on our way to Gallifrey?" Turlough asked in disbelief.
"That is exactly what I mean, you simple child!" the Master snapped contemptuously.
Tegan gave Turlough a meaningful look, and he quickly excused himself to go check the coordinates for himself.
The Master watched him leave, amusement dancing in his black eyes. When he spoke again, it was in his usual velvety tones. "You don't trust me, do you?"
She shook her head. "Not one bit farther than I could throw this TARDIS," she told him coldly.
He sighed. "There is so much you do not understand, Beautiful One," he told her sadly, without a hint of the contempt he routinely used when he addressed Turlough. Ruddy Time Lord gallantry, Tegan thought, scowling down at him. He remained unaffected by her ire.
"Beautiful and brave," he murmured, giving her another faint smile. She felt a cold hand clutch one of her own; the Master raised her hand to his lips and brushed it with a kiss. She suppressed another shudder. "Theta doesn't deserve you, Beautiful One."
Before she could ask what that odd statement meant, his dark eyes closed and he slept, still holding her hand in his.
"Hmph," she said, pulling her hand away and moving to sit in a chair by the Doctor's bed. She took his hand, clutching it like a lifeline.
"Well, Doctor, this is a fine mess," she said, knowing that he couldn't hear her. "You're comatose, and the Master's flying the TARDIS and feeding me cheap pick-up lines when he's not talking nonsense." She reached down to brush an errant strand of golden hair from his forehead. "What a mess," she repeated with a sigh.
"We're definitely on our way to Gallifrey," Turlough said as he walked into sickbay.
"But it doesn't make sense," she protested, frowning. "Why would he want to go back there? The Time Lords are likely to shoot him on sight!"
"I don't know, Tegan. We're obviously both way out of our depth." She yawned. "Why don't you go to your rooms and get some rest? I can keep an eye on things here."
Tegan shook her head. "No, I'll stay, thanks."
Turlough shrugged. "Suit yourself," he told her. "If you're staying here, I'm going back to the console room. I want to make sure that we actually end up on Gallifrey and not some Godforsaken rock out in the middle of nowhere." He gestured at the Master. "I just don't trust him."
"That's two of us," she agreed, yawning again.
"Are you sure you'll be all right in here?" he asked, concerned.
"I'll be fine," she assured him, waving him away. "You go keep an eye on our flight path. I'll yell if I need something."
"All right," he agreed.
Through drooping eyelids, she watched Turlough leave. Though she tried to fight it, eventually exhaustion won.
As she drifted off, she heard the Master's cryptic proclamation in her mind: Theta doesn't deserve you, Beautiful One. She frowned sleepily. What did that mean?
Finally, she slept.
Tegan opened her eyes to see Turlough and the Master standing on the other side of the Doctor's bed, their heads bent over a computer printout that Turlough was holding. The renegade Time Lord was clearly up and about. He had obviously bathed and had evidently found one of the wardrobe rooms, for he had discarded his torn and stained black velvet finery for plain black trousers and a black shirt.
She smelled coffee, and saw that there were three steaming mugs sitting on top of one of the monitors. Those two have been busy this morning, she thought, yawning sleepily.
The Master glanced at her.
"You're awake, I see," he said.
"Yep," she said shortly. She wasn't a morning person under the best of circumstances, and the current ones hardly qualified for that rating. She saw the Master glance at her lap, where the Doctor's hand was still clasped in her own. He met her eye and his eyebrows went up but he did not comment.
Feeling oddly embarrassed, she hastily released her friend's hand, placing it gently on the bed at his side, and then stood and stretched elaborately. The Master picked up one of the mugs and offered it to her. She accepted it, eyeing it suspiciously.
"Don't worry, I made the coffee," Turlough assured her before turning his attention back to the printout.
Tegan took a cautious sip and sighed contentedly.
"I don't understand this," Turlough told the Master, obviously continuing a discussion that had been in progress while she had still slept. "Why isn't he regenerating?"
"For regeneration to occur, the brain and nervous system must remain intact," the Master replied in a familiar lecturing tone. Tegan suddenly realized that it was the same tone that the Doctor frequently employed, and smiled slightly at the irony of the whole situation. Then the Master's words finally penetrated her sleep-fogged brain, wiping the smile off her lips. "He won't be able to – "
"Wait a minute," she interrupted. "Do you mean he should be regenerating but can't?"
The Master gave her a withering look that suggested he found her dumber than dirt, but when he answered, it was in an even, patient tone.
"That is correct, Ms. Jovanka," he said. No more "Beautiful One" now that you're back in what passes for your right mind, eh? Tegan thought wryly as the Master continued. "Turlough here has many skills, but correctly diagnosing major head trauma is not among them. A human would have been killed or made a vegetable from a similar injury; we Gallifreyans are slightly more robust. Unfortunately, the Doctor won't be able to recover from this injury on his own. Brain tissue does not grow or heal, and as we have already established, he cannot regenerate. Outside intervention will be required."
A new thought occurred to Tegan. "How did he get this injury in the first place?" she asked suspiciously.
"Not from me, as you are obviously thinking," he assured her. "You have the Rani to thank for this, should you ever have the misfortune to encounter that venomous creature."
"What's a Rani?" Turlough asked curiously, the Master's words making him think of an especially nasty snake.
"The Rani is a Time Lady," the Master replied. He gave Tegan an ironic smile. "And she's not nearly as nice to know as I am."
"Hell's teeth!" Tegan exclaimed, imagining it.
"So what was this Rani person doing in Bangkok?" Turlough asked.
"A variation on her usual nastiness."
Is it my imagination, or did he just shudder? Tegan wondered. Anything that could make the Master shudder… She hastily killed that thought and suppressed a shudder of her own as he continued.
"The Rani is very interested in biochemistry, especially the chemistry of the brain, and she doesn't have any qualms about using sentient creatures as test subjects. Why she chose Bangkok for her current base of operation is beyond me. In any event, word about what was happening to children unfortunate enough to visit 'Miss Rani's Sweet Shop' somehow got out, and the locals were decidedly not amused. By the time the Doctor and I – quite independently – stumbled upon the scene, an angry mob was already forming up to give the Rani a taste of Bangkok street justice, which I assure you does not involve anything as silly or tedious as a fair trial. After their experience with the Rani, the locals were understandably not well pleased to meet two more Time Lords…" He made an expansive gesture. "Let us just say that things went downhill from there and leave it at that."
"Someone detonated a nuclear bomb in downtown Bangkok!" Turlough exclaimed, as though just remembering.
The Master made another of his ironic smiles. "Yes. As I said, the locals were decidedly not amused. I cannot even begin to speculate about where and how they acquired the device, or how they knew it would take a nuclear bomb to destroy the Rani's 'sweet shop', so don't bother asking."
"What happened to your TARDIS?" Tegan asked. "Did you leave it in Bangkok?"
He shook his head.
"No. With the Doctor and I unwittingly serving as a distraction, the Rani managed to escape from the mob…" He shrugged. "I am certain that you can guess the rest," he said wryly.
"She stole your TARDIS?" Despite the gravity of the situation, Tegan just had to laugh. "Good on her!"
"I am pleased that you find it so entertaining."
A soft chime sounded from the hallway.
"Ah, it seems Gallifrey is hailing us," the Master said, starting for the door.
"Wait," Tegan said, grabbing his arm to stop him. "Let me handle this for now."
The Master's eyebrows went up. "As you wish," he agreed.
"Turlough, you stay here with the Doctor," she continued. The boy nodded. "Well, what are you waiting for?" she asked the Master, sounding exasperated. "Come on!"
When they reached the console room, the scanner was displaying the Prydonian seal overlaid with text in that odd mix of Greek letters and mathematical symbols that was the written form of the Gallifreyan language. The Master scanned the text hurriedly; Tegan could see his lips moving as he read.
"What does it say?" she finally asked.
"You don't want to know," he replied with enormous sincerity.
"Oh, great," she complained mournfully. "Just great."
The image suddenly vanished, and Tegan grabbed the Master's arm, shoving him out of the scanner's range. When he opened his mouth to issue a nasty riposte, she cut him off.
"You're a wanted criminal, remember?" she hissed at him. He offered no further protest.
The Prydonian seal was replaced with the image of a red-haired Time Lady resplendent in her scarlet and orange robes, a large winged headdress seated on her shoulders. Tegan recognized her immediately.
"Chancellor Flavia!" she exclaimed, smiling with relief.
"Tegan Jovanka," the Time Lady acknowledged regally, briefly inclining her head in greeting. "How is it that you are returning to Gallifrey?"
"A medical emergency, ma'am," Tegan told her. "The Doctor's been seriously injured and needs medical attention." Flavia frowned.
"Why does he not regenerate?"
"Can't." Tegan replied shortly. "Brain trauma. He's in a coma."
"Ah," Flavia said, understanding. "And who is piloting his TARDIS?" she asked innocently.
Had Tegan not been giving her full attention to Flavia, she would have seen the warning look the Master was giving her; as it was, she walked right into the Time Lady's trap.
"I am," she said without batting an eye.
"Really." came the cool reply. "How interesting. You see, I was under the impression that only a Time Lord could materialize a TARDIS on Gallifrey. When did you graduate from the Academy?"
"Um..." Tegan began. She heard the Master sigh heavily. Before she could stop him, he stepped into range of the scanner.
"Chancellor Flavia," he said, sounding every bit as regal as she.
The Chancellor's eyebrows went up. "You."
"Castellan," Flavia called to someone out of camera range, "Please have a compliment of the Chancellery Guard meet the Lord President's TARDIS upon materialization and arrest this criminal pending his execution." There was a sound of acknowledgement from the Castellan.
"Now wait a minute!" Tegan protested. "He saved the Doctor's life – your Lord President's life. He set coordinates for Gallifrey before I asked him to, even though he had to know he'd be in deep trouble with you lot once he got there. I think that counts for something, don't you?"
"You would ask that we show this criminal mercy?" Flavia asked remotely.
"Yeah," Tegan agreed. "I never thought I'd hear myself say it, but I'm actually asking for mercy for the Master. Let him rot in jail for the rest of his life, but please don't kill him."
Flavia appeared to think the matter over.
"Very well," she finally agreed, sighing. "If the situation is indeed as you have described and he has saved the Doctor's life, I suppose that you are correct in that it must count for something."
"I should hope so!" Tegan said, and frowned. "I would like your word that he won't be killed."
"Very well," Flavia said again with another sigh. "You have my word."
The TARDIS console suddenly made a beeping sound. "We have locked the Doctor's TARDIS into a preprogrammed flight path. Do not attempt to alter it." This last was said to the Master in a meaningful tone.
"As you wish," he agreed.
"You will materialize in the medical center, and there will be medics to greet you upon arrival. Flavia out."
The screen went blank. Tegan and the Master exchanged a glance.
"I guess we'd better go get the Doctor ready to be moved," she finally said.
"Ms. Jovanka, why did you ask the Chancellor for my life?" he asked, sounding very interested in her reply.
She shrugged. "It's what the Doctor would have done," she told him shortly, and exited the console room without another word.
They were waiting in the console room when the TARDIS materialized on Gallifrey a short time later.
Before Tegan could open the doors, they swung open on their own to admit a team of medics who swarmed around the Doctor's stretcher and bore him off to parts unknown. The medics were followed by the Castellan and a compliment of Chancellery Guards, who promptly placed the Master under arrest and took him away to await trial (not execution, the Castellan was careful to emphasize to a fuming Tegan).
Before the guards left, one of them bent down and removed a component from the underside of the control console. Immediately, the lights in the console room dimmed and the Time Rotor powered down; clearly, the Time Lords didn't want them going anywhere.
"Looks like we're stuck here," Tegan observed glumly.
Turlough nodded in agreement. "I wonder if we're allowed to leave the TARDIS," he said.
"Of course you're allowed to leave," a new voice said. They turned to see Chancellor Flavia walking into the TARDIS. "You aren't prisoners in the Doctor's TARDIS, though you will be expected to testify at the trial."
"I suppose we should have known," Tegan said, sighing. "I don't know anything about your legal system – " she began.
"You will be provided with legal counsel to advise you about the proceedings," Flavia assured her. "As well as quarters on Gallifrey should you desire."
"Well, I'd rather stay here on the TARDIS, but…" Tegan made a sweeping gesture. "It looks like we've had a power outage."
Flavia smiled. "We've removed the main space-time element to prevent you going anywhere, but the rest of the Doctor's TARDIS is fully operational."
"I'll stay here then, thanks," Tegan told her. "I'm afraid your planet is much too cold for me. But I would very much like to see more of it."
"Your last visit here wasn't very pleasant, was it?" Flavia recalled in a musing tone.
"Not at all!" Turlough agreed fervently.
"I'll see if I can arrange a small tour for you both at some point in the future," she promised. "In the meantime, I'm afraid you will be quite occupied with preparing your testimony."
Their legal counsel turned out to be a crotchety old buzzard nearing the very end of his second incarnation. He introduced himself to Tegan and Turlough as Lord Zeta of the House of Starkweather of the Prydonian order. Tegan quickly decided that filling him in on the exploits of a human named Charles Starkweather would probably not improve the perpetually grumpy Time Lord's mood any, and wisely held her tongue.
Lord Zeta spent several hours giving them a crash course on Gallifreyan legal proceedings and coaching them on appropriate dress and behavior for the trial. When Tegan asked him how they could possibly believe that the Master would give truthful testimony at his trial, Lord Zeta told her that the Master would be physically unable to lie, which unsettled Tegan to no end. Technology capable of making it physically impossible for a person to lie frightened her, and the fact it rested in the cold hands of the Time Lords was hardly reassuring for some reason. She looked forward to the trial with a mixture of anticipation and dread.
Making it worse was the fact that she was not allowed to visit the Doctor; the medical staff informed her that he was encased in a regenerative therapy tank and would not be aware of her presence even if she were allowed in the sterile room, which no one was until the process was complete.
She contented herself with the knowledge that he was receiving the best care possible, and eagerly anticipated the end of his treatment. We'll definitely have a lot of catching up to do! she thought wryly, smiling at the thought of his likely reaction to recent events.
Little did she suspect that things were only to become more interesting in the near future.
"How did it go?" Tegan asked Turlough nervously as he exited the huge double doors of the courtroom.
"It wasn't as bad as you think it'll be," he assured her. "Lord Zeta is there to represent your interests, so they can't give you the relentless badgering they've been giving the Master."
"You've seen him?" she asked.
He nodded. "Yeah, he's there. Did you know he's a Prydonian?"
Before Tegan could reply, the doors swung open again and a female voice called her name.
"Wish me luck," she whispered. He gave her hand a quick squeeze, and she smiled. "Right," she said, squaring her shoulders and following the Time Lady who had summoned her.
The courtroom was enormous.
A jury made up of an assortment of Time Lords and Ladies sat off to the right of the judge's desk, which was raised above the rest of the room. Behind it sat an unsmiling Time Lord of indeterminate age dressed in the scarlet and orange of the Prydonians; Tegan wondered briefly if there were any other chapter worth belonging to, as the Prydonians seemed to be overly represented amongst the Gallifreyan elite.
To the right of the judge's desk was a chair with a white globe at the end of one of its armrests. It was to this chair that the Time Lady led her, motioning for her to be seated and to place her right hand on the globe; evidently this was the famous Time Lord Lie Detector.
She sat, smoothing the skirt of her sedate navy blue suit so that it fell in graceful folds around her legs. She placed her hand on the globe and looked up expectantly.
There were two tables facing her; the one directly in front of her belonged to the prosecution, and the other clearly was for the defense, for that was where she spotted the Master sitting with his defense counsel, both of them decked out in full Prydonian regalia. She caught the Master's eye and gave him a nervous little smile before she could stop herself. From the bench behind them, Lord Zeta scowled at her disapprovingly.
"Miss Jovanka," the prosecution counsel began, and she turned her attention to the Time Lord who was quickly bearing down on her, his dark eyes unreadable. "Please describe for us the events leading up to the defendant's arrival here on Gallifrey."
It was several days after their testimony that Turlough and Tegan learned of the Master's fate. As outsiders, they were not privy to the actual courtroom proceedings, so Lord Zeta went to the Doctor's TARDIS to tell them the outcome as soon as the verdict was read. He found them sitting on a stone bench in the Cloisters, awaiting his news.
"He's been granted a full pardon with the stipulation that he can never again leave Gallifrey," he told them.
Tegan's jaw dropped.
"Why – " Turlough began.
"The jury took two things into account," Lord Zeta said. "He went to Bangkok with the express purpose of foiling the Rani's plot to – "
"Wait a minute," Tegan interrupted. "He was working against the Rani? I can't believe it! She sounds like just his type!"
Lord Zeta shook his head. "Even Lord Kappa draws the line at experimentation on children," he said.
Tegan frowned. "Who's Lord Kappa?" she asked, clearly confused.
"Ah yes, you know him by that silly name he used." Lord Zeta snorted. "The Master. Indeed. He is more correctly called Lord Kappa of the House of – "
"And the other reason they pardoned him?" Turlough interrupted, clearly impatient for the interview to end.
"The other reason is that he saved the Lord President's life at great risk to his own," Lord Zeta said tetchily, clearly not happy with Turlough's impertinence. He rose to his feet. "Now if you'll excuse me, there are much more important matters requiring my attention."
"Thank you for everything you've done for us," Tegan said in a contrite voice. She rose to her feet and gave him a slight curtsey. "We're in your debt, Lord Zeta."
"Hmph," Lord Zeta replied, casting one last withering glance at Turlough before huffing out of the TARDIS.
"Well, at least that's over," Turlough said softly.
Tegan sank back down beside him on the stone bench, her mind whirling giddily as the crushing weight of the stress of the past few days suddenly came crashing down on her.
Suddenly, her mind incongruously supplied her with a snippet of lyrics from a pop song, hastily revised to suit the occasion: Bangkok, Oriental setting, but the city don't know what the city is getting. The crème de la crème of the Time Lords in a show with everything but Lord Borusa! Time flies, doesn't seem a minute since the Terileptil base had the TARDIS in it. All change, and don't you know that when you play at this level, there's no ordinary venue. There's Earth, or Deva Loka, or Manussa… or, or this place!
She brought a hand to her mouth to smother a slightly hysterical giggle.
"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself," Turlough told her dryly.
"I'm sorry," she said through her giggles, wiping tears from her cheeks. "I don't know what came over me."
"Stress reaction," said a new voice, making them both jump.
They looked up to see the Master entering the Cloisters. He was back in his customary black velvet, and he moved with a feline grace that made Tegan think of a black panther she had once seen at the zoo… only that dangerous creature had been safely behind bars.
"I see you're on the loose," Tegan finally said as he strolled over to join them. Rather grudgingly, she made room on the bench for him.
"Hardly that," he said mildly as he sat down beside her. "I've no TARDIS and I'm not allowed to leave Gallifrey."
"You got off pretty lucky if you ask me," Turlough said. "I'm surprised they didn't execute you."
"Flavia gave Ms. Jovanka her word that they would spare my life," the Master replied. "Time Lords do not break their word."
"Well, most of them don't," Tegan said meaningfully, giving him a look.
The Master sighed.
"I was hoping, Ms. Jovanka, that we could – as you humans so quaintly put it – allow bygones to be bygones."
"That's not quite how we put it," she told him. "And I'm not sure that you and I can mend our fences and be best mates. You murdered my aunt, remember?"
"Along with quite a few others when you disrupted Logopolis, if the stories I've heard are correct," Turlough added.
"And if the stories I've heard are correct, you nearly traded Theta to the Black Guardian for a sparkly bit of rock," the Master snapped, his voice suddenly brimming with venom.
Turlough opened his mouth, and then closed it again. Without another word, he stood and left the Cloisters.
"You certainly do have a way with people, don't you?" Tegan said after a long moment.
Though her tone was cool, casual even, her thoughts were in turmoil. The Master's muzzy statement in sickbay a few nights previous came back to her: Theta doesn't deserve you, Beautiful One. So, she thought, he wasn't talking nonsense after all! Theta must be the Doctor's name…
"It is part of my charm," the Master replied ironically, bringing her back to the present. "Speaking of Theta, has there been any word?"
She shook her head. "No. I go to the medical center every day, but it's always the same thing: He's fine. Go away and don't come back until we tell you."
"And yet you continue to return there."
"It's part of my charm," she mimicked, earning a chuckle that only a week ago would have chilled her blood. Could it be that I'm actually getting used to him? Oh Lord, help me… She decided to change the subject.
"So what will you do with your second chance?"
"My second chance," he repeated ironically. "Little did you know it, my dear, but you gave the Time Lords an easy out by exacting that promise from Flavia. My people are practical if nothing else. They would prefer to have me alive and making useful contributions to their society than dead, my talents wasted. They've chained me to this cold, miserable little rock quite nicely, don't you think?"
He shifted slightly on the bench, pulling up one trouser leg so that she could see the metal band with a blinking red light clamped around his ankle. The Doctor would've had that off five minutes after it was put on… four minutes on a good day, Tegan thought but did not say.
"It's better than being dead," she said instead.
He gave her a look. "Is it?" he asked softly.
She cocked her head to one side, studying him intently. "You and the Doctor," she said quietly. "You're two of a kind, really. Opposite side of the same coin." His eyebrows went up at that, which she took as encouragement to continue. "Gallifrey is such a cold place. The people are all so cold, so… "
"Pragmatic?" he supplied.
"Yeah, that too… but there's another word I'm looking for… rabbits! Why can't I think of it?" She was quiet for a moment, thinking.
"Dispassionate!" she finally said triumphantly. "That's the word I wanted. I don't think any of them would be much affected by a death sentence, because they don't seem very alive in the first place! But the Doctor… and you… you're both very much alive. You're not like them at all… why, you're more like me and other humans than you are Time Lords!"
"An interesting observation," the Master said musingly. "I must file it away to think on later."
Something – the look in his eyes, or perhaps the tone of his voice – warned her that she was suddenly treading on very dangerous conversational ground. She hastily decided that another subject change was in order.
"May I ask you a question?" she asked, with no real idea of what she was going to say next.
"You may certainly ask," he replied warily. "I will not guarantee an answer."
She asked the first question that popped into her head.
"Do all TARDISes have Cloisters?"
The Master blinked; from the look on his face, he had clearly been expecting an entirely different sort of question, and Tegan immediately knew she had been wise to change the subject.
"TARDISes have whatever sort of rooms their owners want them to have," he finally replied. "In a very real way, a TARDIS is an extension of its user's mind."
"I bet your TARDIS was dark and gloomy with lots of twisty corridors to fool a person into going the wrong way all the time!" Tegan blurted out before she could stop herself.
To her surprise, he chuckled. "You're not far wrong," he admitted.
"I wonder what it's like now that the Rani's got her hands on it," Tegan mused.
"Probably like a dark box with sweaty, contracting walls and rattlesnakes all over the floor!" he said.
"Remind me to stay well clear of this Rani person!" she said, thinking of the Mara and shuddering.
"It is not exactly a thing that would require a reminder!"
"Do you know her well?" Tegan asked.
"Too well," he said shortly, his tone not inviting further questions on the topic.
Her eyebrows went up and he could see that she was dying to know more. He sighed.
"We were at the Academy together," he elaborated.
"Along with the Doctor," she said carefully.
"Along with the Doctor," he agreed, sounding exasperated. "Ms. Jovanka, I have a feeling that I know what you are going to ask me next. May I suggest that if you want to know more about Theta's past and his life here on Gallifrey, you employ the far more expedient method of asking him your questions?"
She was about to give him one of her trademark snide replies when Turlough came running into the Cloisters.
"Come on," he told them breathlessly. "The medics are preparing to take the Doctor out of the regenerative therapy tank!"
"You'd better stand back," Tegan murmured to the Master as they waited for the tank to be opened. "If he sees you first thing, he might take a bad turn!"
"I know I would," Turlough muttered under his breath.
"What was this thing supposed to do for him, anyway?" Tegan asked the Master, gesturing at the opaque white shell that evidently encased the Doctor. "I could never get a straight answer on that from any of the stiffs working here."
"It aids the regeneration process," he replied.
"But he wasn't regenerating!" she protested.
"No, he wasn't. In the Doctor's case, it will have made repairs on the cellular level, restoring him to – " His voice broke off abruptly as the white shell was lifted off of the Doctor.
"Hell's teeth!" Tegan exclaimed.
"Who's that?" Turlough asked, confused.
"It's the Doctor," Tegan said heavily, and indeed it was; however, it was the Doctor she had first known, the tall gangly one with the wild mop of curly brown hair.
"Oh my," the Master said quietly. "They've left him in there too long!" He sounded like he was trying not to laugh, and Tegan entertained a quick fantasy of punching him. Instead, she grabbed the nearest medic's arm. He turned to face her, his eyebrows going up in silent inquiry.
"Put him back the way he was!" she demanded.
"Impossible." His eyebrows came together in thought as he obviously pondered what to say next; he had never met a human before and he wanted to get it right. At last his eyes lit up with satisfaction as he recalled the correct word for a situation like this. "I believe on Earth you would say, 'oops'," he told her helpfully.
"Oops?" Tegan echoed incredulously. "Oops?? All you can say is 'oops'?? I'll show you bloody oops, you incompetent little wanker!" She started towards the hapless medic, but found herself restrained by Turlough on one side and the Master on the other.
"Not now, Tegan," Turlough hissed furiously in her left ear.
"Pull yourself together, Ms. Jovanka," the Master hissed in her right one.
"I don't believe this," she wailed, putting a hand over her eyes. "They were supposed to fix him…"
"And so they have," the Master told her wryly.
"But they've… this… he's… how…" She seemed to run out of words.
The Doctor's huge blue eyes snapped open, and he grinned brilliantly.
"Steady on, Sarah Jane," he told Tegan in that cheerful, booming voice that she remembered. He glanced at the Master. "Now remember Jamie, when I say 'run', run!"
His eyes rolled up in his head and he began to convulse.
"Doctor!" Tegan cried as Turlough and the Master pulled her out of the room. Just before the door slid shut, she caught a brief glimpse of the medics swarming around the Doctor, working frantically to save his life.
She burst into tears.
Hospital waiting areas are the same the Universe over, Tegan decided. They've all got the same uncomfortable furniture, the same overly bright lights, and the same terrible coffee. She took a sip from the paper cup in her hand and grimaced in disgust. Or whatever local drink is comparable to coffee, she amended.
She wasn't sure what the bitter beverage was called; the Master had told her, but she hadn't paid close attention. She only knew that the drink was a Time Lord favorite… and that caffeine actually has a taste if it is present in sufficient quantities. She had only taken a couple of sips and already her nerve endings seemed to be singing. She crossed and re-crossed her legs, jiggling her foot nervously.
"No more of that for you," Turlough murmured, taking the cup from her hand. "You're high-strung enough as it is." She opened her mouth to protest.
"I quite agree," the Master said from her other side. "I am afraid you are outnumbered," he told her mildly.
She glared at both of them, re-crossed her legs and forced herself to sit still.
"Why isn't anyone from the Doctor's family here?" she asked suddenly.
"Time Lords do not have families," the Master replied.
"The Doctor does," she shot back. "He has a granddaughter. I've met her."
"So you have," the Master agreed amiably. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, clearly unwilling to discuss it further.
Tegan re-crossed her legs and began jiggling her foot again.
"Would you stop that?" Turlough asked crossly.
"I can't help it!" she protested.
"Well, we both told you not to drink that stuff!" he reminded her. "But you would insist!"
"Rabbits!" She got up and began pacing the floor.
A medic appeared in the waiting area's doorway.
"How is he?" Tegan demanded immediately.
The medic shrugged. "Come see for yourself," he invited.
Turlough and the Master came to their feet, and the unlikely trio followed the medic into the hallway.
"This incarnation is unstable and is not viable," he told them as he led them to the Doctor's room. "It's an artificially induced regression to a former incarnation, and it has already begun to deteriorate."
Tegan shook her head. "What's all that mean?" she asked.
"It means that your earlier demand – I believe 'put him back the way he was' was the exact wording you used – will be met in a matter of weeks, perhaps even days."
Tegan frowned, trying to understand. "He's going to regenerate?"
The medic shook his head. "No… it's rather more complex than that." He launched into a complicated explanation involving nanites, genetic factors, and the uncertain perils of regenerative therapy.
"Do not bore her with the science," the Master interrupted, sighing. "We will be here all day explaining it." He turned to Tegan. "The bottom line is that you will soon have your old Doctor back, fit and whole and mentally stable… well, as mentally stable as he ever was, anyway," he amended wryly.
"You're a real comedian," she told him bitingly as the medic waved them into the Doctor's room. "A regular Don Rickles."
"Who?" he asked, bemused.
"Never mind. I won't bore you with explaining it!" she shot back.
She plastered her air hostess smile onto her lips and moved to the bed to greet the Doctor. "Hello, Doctor!" she said in her best "happy voice".
"Well, hello there!" he said cheerfully, waggling his fingers at her in greeting.
He was sitting up in the bed, wearing a set of gray hospital-issue pajamas.
"Tegan, Turlough… you're both looking wonderfully fit. And you…" he turned his attention to the Master. "I've been told that you're back in the fold, as it were. Good man!"
The Master grunted noncommittally.
There was an awkward silence.
"You're quite cheerful today, aren't you Doctor?" Turlough finally observed.
"Why yes, yes I am," he replied absently, running a hand through his thick curls. "You know, I'd only just gotten used to my fifth body when bam! I suddenly found myself back in this one! It's all a bit much to take in at once."
"Not only for you!" Tegan told him with feeling.
"Ah yes, you rather liked the fifth one, didn't you?" the Doctor observed meaningfully. "Oh look, she's blushing – how charming!" He turned his megawatt smile on the medic. "I don't suppose I could go back to my TARDIS now, could I? This hospital room is awfully dreary!"
"I still don't think this is a good idea," Tegan opined as they followed the Doctor back to his TARDIS.
She had raided the TARDIS wardrobe rooms earlier and found clothes to fit him. He had asked for his long coat and scarf, but she had been unable to find any sign of them and told him so, and so he had settled for the dark gray sweater and blue jeans with a sigh and a mental note to find clothing more suited to his personality when they got back to the TARDIS.
Personally, Tegan rather liked him in the sweater and jeans; they emphasized the long, lean lines of his body in a way that the coat and scarf never had.
"I think you should still be in hospital!" she continued emphatically as they reached the TARDIS.
"Nonsense," the Doctor said. "I am fit as a fiddle, Vicki!"
"Yes, obviously," Turlough said dryly, rolling his eyes.
"Now, where did I put that new key they made me?" he wondered, searching the pockets of his jeans.
"I have it, Doctor," Tegan told him, moving forward to unlock the door.
"Good Lord," the Doctor exclaimed when they entered the dim console room. "Didn't you and Turlough remember to pay the power bill while I was away?"
"They've removed the main space-time element, as I am sure you know," the Master snapped impatiently.
"Have they?" the Doctor goggled, seemingly astonished. "How rude!"
The Master sighed.
This particular incarnation of the Doctor had always especially gotten on his nerves for some reason. It was much more annoying than the space tramp or the dandy or the cricketer had ever been… and much, much more annoying than the original model.
"I suppose I've got to see Chancellor Flavia about having it replaced," the Doctor continued.
"Yes, Doctor," Tegan agreed mildly, knowing that there wasn't a snowball's chance that they'd be allowed to leave Gallifrey while the Doctor remained in his current state. Thank God the other Time Lords are more sensible than he is, she thought. Not that it would take much…
"Tegan, have you any idea where my coat and scarf have gone?" he asked suddenly.
"I told you, I can't find them," she replied.
He frowned. "Did you? I can't remember." He suddenly brightened. "Oh well, if you did, you did. No use dwelling on it."
"Doctor, are you feeling all right?" Turlough asked, looking concerned.
"Just fine, Turlough," he replied absently, suddenly lost in thought. He looked at the Master, and when he spoke, his voice was very serious. "I think you and I need to talk."
"Do we?" the Master replied coolly, making an eyebrow at him.
"Yes, and time is short. So come on!"
Without another word, the Master followed the Doctor into the main TARDIS corridor, leaving Tegan and Turlough standing in the console room, apprehensive and confused.
One day my curiosity is going to get me into real trouble, Tegan mused.
She had stealthily followed the two Time Lords as they walked in silence through the TARDIS corridors. Now, she was crouched outside the door to the Cloisters, listening to the low rumble of their voices from within and trying to make out their words. The small snatches of their conversation that she did manage to catch only served to make her even more curious about what was being discussed.
"…things cannot be changed, Theta. They are…"
"…even you know better than that…"
"…always knew you'd be the one to…"
"…and you are as impossible as ever, Kappa! Why on Gallifrey did I ever imagine…"
"…we are as we are, as you should well know by now..."
"…the Rani certainly put paid to that foolish notion of yours, didn't she Kappa? Why, she…"
"…won't discuss this any further, Theta!" The Master finished angrily, and suddenly the door was wrenched open, sending Tegan pitching forward on her knees into the Cloisters.
"Eavesdropping," the Master noted as he walked swiftly past her. "How unsurprising."
Chagrinned, Tegan hauled herself to her feet and saw the Doctor watching her guardedly, his hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans.
"Do you want to tell me what you two were talking about in here?" she finally asked.
"No," he said shortly, choosing to answer her question literally.
She sighed. "There's something going on between the two of you – " she began.
"It is not up for discussion!" the Doctor told her firmly, and strode out of the Cloisters, leaving her alone with her thoughts.
The next several days following the Time Lords' heated argument in the Cloisters passed uneventfully. Tegan and Turlough were duly given their promised tour of Gallifrey, with the Doctor and the Master providing a running sotto voce irreverent commentary in a blatant competition to see who could make the two visitors laugh harder at the most inappropriate moment. Chancellor Flavia bore it all with a surprising good grace, occasionally issuing a caustic remark of her own that would reduce the two Time Lords to a stunned, if temporary, silence.
A few days later, Tegan and Turlough suddenly found that they had smoothly integrated the Master into the normal TARDIS routine, and wondered how that had happened.
It somehow did not seem at all odd to find the two Time Lords sitting on a bench in the Cloisters, their heads bent close together in earnest discussion as they talked long into the night, or in the console room poking and prodding at the underside of the darkened Time Rotor with various tools while trading remarkably creative insults and arguing amiably about the repairs that needed to be made.
Little by little, Tegan felt her hatred and her wariness gradually fading to more manageable levels, and wondered vaguely what had come over all of them; could there be something odd in the air on Gallifrey?
It seemed to be the only explanation for her own recent behavior.
She had walked the main thoroughfare of the Time Lord capitol arm in arm with the Master, allowing herself to succumb to his courtly charm as he bought her glass after glass of excellent red wine at a local café and told her scathingly self-deprecating tales of his misadventures with the Doctor during their Academy days that made her laugh until she cried.
She should have known then, sitting in that café half-drunk and wiping tears of laughter from her cheeks, that it was all too good to last.
"I am quite tired and am going to bed!" The Doctor announced one evening after dinner, surprising no one. His energy levels had always been high in his fourth incarnation, but he had gradually become absolutely manic in the past few days, which the Master had quietly attributed to his impending change.
"This incarnation is going to fail soon," he had told Tegan and Turlough only a few hours earlier. "It's peaking, and soon it will crash."
And crash it did; the Doctor remained secluded for the next seventy-two hours, turning Tegan into a bundle of jangled nerves whose agitated company neither the Master nor Turlough could tolerate for long.
The Master's continual reassurances that the Doctor would be just fine fell on deaf ears, and he refused outright to lead her to the Doctor's rooms, leaving her to wander hopelessly through the mazelike corridors. He knew that she had no hope whatsoever of finding the place she sought without help, and was secretly relieved that her search had the practical effect of keeping her occupied and out of his hair.
And then one morning, the Doctor appeared at the table for breakfast, blond-haired and cricket-sweatered and asking for French toast and bacon as though nothing important had happened and seeing the Master at his breakfast table was the most natural thing in the world. A particularly raucous breakfast ensued as they celebrated the Doctor's recovery.
That afternoon, the medics declared the Doctor fit and healthy once more, without a trace of the brain injury that could have killed him.
The next morning, the Master removed his supposedly irremovable ankle bracelet and slipped into an unguarded TARDIS, vanishing from Gallifrey without a trace.
That afternoon, after a particularly heated discussion with Chancellor Flavia that Turlough and Tegan were not privy to, the Doctor returned to the TARDIS with a new main space-time element in his pocket and a determined expression on his face.
They left Gallifrey shortly thereafter.
That evening, Tegan retired early, pleading exhaustion. What she really wanted was time alone to process the whirlwind events of the past few hours.
She entered her rooms intending to have a good long soak in a nice hot bath before settling down for a long sleep in her nice soft bed, when a white object on her pillow caught her eye. Closing the door behind her, she went to the bed and picked it up.
It was an envelope.
Written on the front in a small neat hand that she didn't recognize were the words Beautiful One.
Gritting her teeth, she opened it and sank down on the edge of her bed to read, never guessing that the signature at the bottom of the letter was the real answer to many of her questions if only she had known and understood its significance.
My dear, the letter began.
I know you must have many questions about all of this. I suggest again that you address them to Theta… and that you keep at him until he gives you satisfactory answers! You deserve that much at least, and so much more besides. He does not (the rest of what was obviously a very long sentence was crossed out and illegible)
Please do not believe that I have plotted what Theta is undoubtedly already painting as my treachery from the very start. I did intend to make a go of things, but as I reminded Theta not long ago in the Cloisters, we are as we are. I feel that I am forever destined to play the villain to his hero. You once called us opposite sides of the same coin, and you were more right than you knew. Perhaps Theta will tell you all one day… but knowing him as I do, I rather doubt it.
You were quite wrong in your assertion that being forever chained to Gallifrey was better than death; for a wanderer like myself, it would be worse than death. No matter how lovely the gilded cage may be, the fact remains that it is still, in the end, a cage. I hope you will understand. I know Theta does, even if he would never admit it.
Whatever else may transpire between you and I in the future, or between Theta and I, I will ask you this for your eyes alone: Look after him.
I understand that this missive will raise more questions than it answers. I regret that, but there is nothing to be done. As scientists, Theta and I would both tell you that the excitement is in solving mysteries and uncovering answers for oneself, and I encourage you to do so. I believe you know where to begin, though I imagine it will be a tough road; Theta does not part with his secrets easily. Nor do I, for that matter. We are more alike than either of us cares to admit.
Remember, Beautiful One: You deserve the best that life has to offer. Do not hesitate to reach for it, even though the sweetest fruits often elude one's grasp. Fortunately, so do the bitterest. We can only try.
Though in future we may again meet as enemies, know that until that day comes to pass I remain your most devoted,
Lord Kappa of the House of Lungbarrow of the Prydonian order