He sat in his darkened cell, smiling contently: it was finally over. It was something he could feel in his very soul, a certainty of which there was no doubt.
The war was over, and nobody had won.
He could leave this backwards world and return to his rightful place amongst the stars. It was none too soon, either: he was starting to grow almost complacent, and that was something that could not be permitted. No, it was time to go, even though it would take considerable sacrifice on his part, the ends would justify the means.
Reaching into his mouth, he quickly counted the right number of teeth forward until he found the one he was looking for. Pulling sharply, he was able to extract the tooth and pull it clear of his mouth, a few drops of crimson blood falling onto his bright orange prison coveralls.
He could already hear the guards running down the hallways, fumbling for the right key. Snapping the tooth in half, he exposed the liquid inside. Smiling to himself, he tilted his head back and let the potion fall down his throat.
The man known as Ethan Rayne was dead before his head hit the concrete floor. The guards who inlay burst in couldn't help but be a little shaken by the faint smile that sat across his face: it looked like he knew a joke, but wasn't letting anyone else in on it.
The blinding pain of regeneration sent spasms through his body, making him thrash inside the body bag: almost throwing himself off the trolley onto the cold mortuary floor. Strong hands ripped through the plastic and pulled it apart, and a mouth opened as wide as it could as lungs drew in their first breath.
Pulling himself free of the remains of the body bag, the Time Lord known as The Master sat up and looked at his hands: they looked younger than his last pair, the skin a little darker. Looking round until he found a mirror set above a sink, he gazed at his new face.
It was handsome, in a rough sort of way, but most defiantly completely different to his old one. His eyes were deep hazel, and seemed to convey trustworthiness and empathy. This made him smile: they were good eyes for what he had in mind.
He looked around for some clean clothes. While he had no real problem with nudity, it would get him noticed, and that was something he wasn't ready for just yet. No, first he needed to get away from this secret prison the American government had locked him away in and get to one of the stashed beckons that would call his carefully hidden TARDIS to him. Then, and only then, would he be ready to take his revenge on the inhabitants of this insignificant little backwater world.
Giles, the Watcher, would be first, followed closely by his pet Slayer and her friends. He take his time, years if he had to, drawing out their torment to the point where they'd beg for death. Then he'd kill off all the prison guards, one by one.
If there was one thing his long life had taught him, it was patience: time was, after all, on his side.
Earth had been a strange place to sit out the Last Great Time War, but it had been perfect: the ripples in reality had gone almost un-noticed by the inhabitants, allowing him to hide from both his own people and their deadliest enemy, the Daleks. And so he had survived, while all the othere's died.
It had been risky: using one of his precious regenerations to fool the guards into think he was dead long enough to get away. The potion he'd used was rear, highly illegal, and thus very expensive, but it did slow down the regeneration-cycle long enough for his body to be brought to the morgue and left unattended.
Something sharp and cold hit him in the back, pulling him out of his daydream with a jolt. He felt round his ride until he found the dagger and pulled it free.
"Who dares attack me?" He asked, slowly trying to turn, but suddenly finding his body unresponsive, "What have you done to me?"
"Something I should have done a long time ago." Giles stepped out of the shadows, his eyes cold and hard, "Hello, Master."
"You..." The Time Lord looked at the human, confused, "How?"
"A little gift left behind by a mutual friend." The Watcher smiled as The Master sank to his knees, "The potion that dagger was dipped in is a variation of the one you used to escape your cell. The only difference is that this one will stay with you when you regenerate again, time after time, until you have no more lives left."
"Because you are an evil, vindictive and all too ingenuous enemy to let live. I will not put Buffy's life at risk by having you come after her wit a new face. No, the universe will be better off without you in it."
"Please, spare my life and I will give you anything you want."
"I want you dead. Now have the good grace to die with a little composure..."
"It is done." Giles stepped out of the morgue, cleaning his glasses.
"Good." The Doctor nodded solemnly, "Thank you for doing this: he may have been my sworn enemy, but he was all that was left of my people. I just couldn't bring myself to do it."
"God's in his heaven; all's right with the world." Giles shrugged as he slipped his glasses back on, "It was the least I could do after all the help you've given us over the years. But you're wrong in one respect: the master was not the only other surviving Time Lord."
"Will found something interesting when she was locating all the newly activated Slayers: one of them was a lot further away than we anticipated."
"It appears that your adoptive daughter is alive and well, all be it with no memory as to who or what she is."
"Miranda..." The one word escaped the Doctors lips before he span on his heels, long black leather jacket flowing behind him as he ran as fast as he could down the corridor, dragging his confused young companion with him.
A grinding sound filled the air as the TARDIS moved into the time vortex.
"What was that all about?" Buffy asked, confused.
"I've just given an old friend the best gift of all." Giles smiled warmly, "Hope."
"No hope is forlorn."
"Yeah, but some hopes are less forlorn than others. Which is this one."
"What I told him was the truth. Miranda is out there, we just don't know where."
"He could spend years looking for her..."
"I know: he'll love it."
Again, I have NO intention of writing anything more to do with this story, so feel free to let your imagination run wild.
Just don't bug me with reviews simply saying "more!", "more please!" or "can't wait to read more!", or, indeed, any variation there of: they bug the hell out of me...