This is a story that grew out of an exceedingly unlikely beginning, in which my dear and slightly deranged fellow fans at a forum called 'Death by Asprin' engendered a request for a story featuring Ten, naked and covered in cake, chained to Three with both of them captive by the Master. Now some of you may have had the vast enjoyment of reading JJPOR's resulting crackfic, "Let them Eat Cake" - and if you haven't I highly recommend it - this one isn't as cracky, but if you have any curiosity of how in the world such an ungainly scene could show up in a quasi-serious tale, and if you wanted there to be an explanation for how Ten could have ended up that way, you are invited to read on.
I've never written for Ten before, so I thank my beta, Evelyn, for her checking over the dialogue for me. Her summary is as follows: 'In which the Master takes up baking, Three disapproves of his culinary planning and Ten loses his britches. No TARDISes were harmed in the making of this fic.'
Cake and the Rani
There was a shudder and a deep hum.
The Doctor, who had been only half-paying attention to his TARDIS' console sent the book he'd been perusing spinning off into a corner as he made a leap for it, slamming his hands down on a pair of glowing buttons. Nothing changed, in fact it worsened. The floor began to tilt, the hum deepened until it felt like his very bones were vibrating; he clenched his teeth and tried again.
"What's got you, old girl?" he gritted, turning knobs and pumping a lever up and down. "Come on, whatever it is you can pull out of it, come on…" His eyes went to one of the readouts and widened at what they saw. "But…that's not possible!"
. . .
"Ah, did we catch him at last?" the Rani purred, patting her TARDIS' console proudly. "Though I did think that random time jump around this miserable little planet would have netted him even sooner than this; easy as placing a trap in front of a mouse hole." She leaned forward to toggle on a switch and stepped back to consider the image she was rewarded with: a blue box, neatly held within a custom time-bubble all its own.
A smile curved over her lips as she sauntered through the doorway to see it herself. "Now I can finally get that filimental osmotifier back and get on with my work. The Master has gotten far too confident, hasn't he, thinking he can outwit me."
. . .
The Doctor was flying in a ballet around his console, pulling out all the stops he could think of to no avail. Sparks began to pop as his TARDIS strained to free itself.
"Oh, that's not good, not good," he said, slapping a lever back down to quell more popping. "I don't have too many of those left." He stopped, still breathing hard from his own efforts as the console sighed to a weary rest beside him. "Looks like we'll have to try another tack, won't we? …. And I'm being towed right along with her. Why?"
He flipped the scanner screen back on. There she was, real as real and just as he remembered her right down to that look on her face. He wasn't sure how it had happened, but it was very plainly the Rani. Standing in front of his TARDIS, which was apparently inside hers. He toggled on the audio.
A slight frown creased her forehead. "Doctor. I knew it was you; I've been looking for you."
"Oh have you?" he said. "What a coincidence. A manufactured one, apparently, but a coincidence nonetheless."
"Let me see you."
He reflexively half-ducked behind his own console at the thought. "See me? Don't you think it's a little early in our relationship for that sort of thing? In fact, if you don't mind, I'll skip the kiss on the cheek and just call it a night."
"Oh Doctor, Doctor," she shook her head. "Always so suspicious of my intentions."
"And why shouldn't I be?" he said, lifting a panel on the console and peeking beneath it to see if there was any way to create a bypass for more power. "You've hardly given me much of a chance to better my first impressions."
"Are you alone?"
"There, see? That sort of question can get you into all sorts of trouble all by itself."
She gave an irritated sniff. "Well, it's certainly you. That'll have to do for now." She turned her back on the blue police box and marched back out of the room. The door slid shut behind her.
The Doctor frowned quizzically, waiting to see if she would come back, maybe with something to illustrate why in the world she'd gone to the tremendous effort of holding him this way. He wasn't sure exactly how it was being done just yet, but he could tell it was taking a tremendous amount of power to maintain a localized partial time-stasis like this.
"What possible use could I be to her?" he wondered out loud as he knelt to pull up a panel from the flooring. "Well, strike that. Actually I can think of a few dozen possibilities right off the top of my head but… no, can't say I care for most of them, as nice as it might be to have a bit of company I don't think we're talking tea." He fished around in a slot and pulled up a wad of cables. "Of course, she wasn't really that interested in me, was she? No, I think I may be only a tool…" He shook his head as he set about trying to jury-rig a way out of the trap. "Predictable."
. . .
The Rani smoothly operated the controls at her own console, allowing a small satisfied smile as rematerialization took place. Perfect timing, of course. She quickly set the frequency and fed power to a set of small wine-red crystals that would align her with yet another TARDIS' communications system.
There was a pause, then she spoke very deliberately. "I know you can hear me. And yes, I know where you are."
An irritated but cultured voice responded. "Why do you think it matters to me that you know where I am? Your timing is off, by the way. You're too late."
"No, I don't think so," she replied smoothly. "I'm right on time. You've had a chance to stir up the humans and you've played with your new toy long enough; those filaments have a limited capacity for use. I want that organism back before your childish world dominion attempts use it up."
"Ah, but that would be most impolite of you," the voice responded. "It's been most diverting and I've invented so many amusing new applications for it. In fact, I was just thinking how nice it will be when I have not only this little toy, as you so quaintly call it, but the rest of your collection as well."
"Impossible," she snapped. "You know you won't take me by surprise like that again. I know you're trying to trace my signal even now, but you won't find it."
"No?" The voice was confident and silky.
She ignored the implied insult, knowing he was bluffing; no one could accurately trace a temporally crystallized signal. "Besides, I've picked up a little toy that'll give you far more amusement. And I'm willing to trade."