WARNING: This is the fourth installment in the "One Moment in Time" series, following on from "One Moment in Time", "Portal of Eternity" and "So Many Things Should Have Been Different". You will need to read from the beginning to make sense of it all.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or anything remotely related to it.
Summary: The Master has used the Cardiff Rift to send himself and Tejana back to The Year That Never Was, with the aim of using his knowledge of events to change the outcome and conquer the Universe. But the Rift is very unstable and unpredictable. Unbeknown to the Master, something else has come through with them. And this time around, he just may not be the "biggest bad" on board The Valiant.
- The Valiant, December 2008 -
The Master didn't come back.
At first, Tejana paced up and down the tiny cell like a caged animal, compulsively turning the psi-inhibitor bracelet around and around on her wrist, the fury boiling in her veins. It was all so crazy. She remembered pacing here so many times before, just like this, trying to take her mind off the claustrophobia of her imprisonment, trying desperately not to think of that other cell from long ago, back on Gallifrey. Time Lords generally did not deal well with confinement and Tejana dealt with it less well than most. During the Year That Never Was, she had managed to remain sane by concentrating on the many different and varied methods she would like to use to kill the Master, dwelling on each scenario in exquisite detail, fingers curling uncontrollably with the overwhelming desire to scratch his eyes out.
Some things never change, she thought angrily. Right now, if the other Time Lord had been available, she would quite happily have strangled him. Rassilon had been defeated, the Master's drums were gone again – they should be exploring the Universe together somewhere, making up for all the time they had lost, not stuck back in this ridiculous nightmare.
What could he possibly have been thinking? We've come so far, changed so much – how can he even want to go back?
Stupid question, really. She knew exactly what he had been thinking. What he was always thinking. Death, destruction, devastation, domination – any number of "D" words which had formed the Master's prime directive for centuries. The Doctor had tried to warn her, but she had refused to listen.
Well, Tejana, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into, she told herself ruefully. What the hell was she going to do now? Back then, in the old days, things had been so very simple - Doctor equals good, Master equals evil, therefore her priorities had been to save the Doctor and to kill the Master. Unfortunately, it was no longer that straightforward. Being in love with the Master was definitely going to complicate things.
Oh, ya think? mocked a sarcastic little voice in the back of her mind. That has to be the understatement of a lifetime!
The Doctor, Jack and Martha had been angry enough about her choice years after this had all happened. But trying to explain it to them in the middle of it all, while the Master was still reigning as supreme dictator – hoo boy, just thinking about it made her head hurt. But somehow she had to let the Doctor know about the temporal displacement. They had to find a way to stop the Master, before he changed the future forever.
Eventually, sheer exhaustion forced her to sit down on the narrow bunk, her limbs leaden with weariness. She was absolutely starving, her stomach echoing like a bottomless pit. Reluctantly, she eyed the tray sitting at the end of the bed. It had been delivered by the black-clad guards shortly after the Master had left. At the time, she had been far too angry to eat. Even now, having calmed down a bit, she was still loath to accept anything the Master gave her, just out of principle. With a shiver, she realised she was automatically falling back into the same old thought patterns that had characterised her original imprisonment on The Valiant.
Tentatively, she lifted the covers on the tray, revealing a delicious-looking gourmet meal. Her traitorous stomach growled in appreciation at the tempting aromas drifting through the air. This at least was different. In the old days, her meals had been adequate but certainly less than stellar. For one last moment, she hesitated. But then her hunger won and she began to wolf the food down, not stopping until the plates were empty.
The hours dragged by after that. Or, at least, she assumed they did. It was not easy to tell, trapped in this windowless cubicle. She wished she was wearing a watch. Ironic really, a Time Lady who had no idea what the time was.
Dully, she wondered what the Master was doing. Try as she might, she couldn't rid herself of the gut-wrenching thought that perhaps he was with Lucy. After all, in this time-line, he was still a married man. Sweet Lucy Saxon, his ever-faithful. One of the many drawbacks of being imprisoned was the huge amount of time you had to think. And to imagine. Against her will, she found herself remembering the passionate kisses the Master had openly given Lucy back then, on the flight deck of The Valiant, in front of them all. Suddenly, she couldn't stop picturing him in bed with his beautiful blonde wife, right now, touching her, making love to her. The vivid images made her feel sick to her stomach, the rich, gourmet food she had recently consumed threatening to make an abrupt reappearance.
Tejana had never been jealous over a man before. She had never really cared enough for anybody, not in that way, so there had never been a need. While she had always been happy to enjoy a physical relationship with a man, emotional intimacy was a whole other kettle of fish. She had never really understood why, but it had never bothered her. When she thought about it at all, she supposed it had something to do with the strange loneliness she had experienced when she looked into the Untempered Schism. Or, perhaps, the abuse she had suffered at the hands of Councillor Rohan, long ago on Gallifrey. Either way, falling passionately in love had never been her thing. While she had cared for Turlough and had ostensibly been in a committed relationship with him, she wasn't sure it would have disturbed her much if he had spent time with other women. As for the long-running flirtation she had enjoyed with Jack – well, Jack was Jack, enough said...nobody in their right mind would waste time being jealous over his innumerable liaisons.
But this...oh, this hurt, it hurt so much. Just thinking about the Master being with someone else made her want to punch the wall until her knuckles bled. And she didn't like it, not one bit. It was so undignified, so humiliating...the last daughter of Gallifrey, jealous of a human. And over the Master. Oh gods, the Tejana from this time-line would never for a single second believe that one!
Bitterly, she heard the Doctor's words echoing in her mind: You can't trust him, Tejana! Whatever happened between you in The Matrix, it was a lie. Everything he does is a lie! You've known him all your life, you know that.
Had her father been right after all? Perhaps the Master had been using her all along. Was it all a lie, just another one of his diabolical manipulations? Had she stupidly fallen into one of his carefully-laid traps to hurt the Doctor?
Forcing back the sickening doubts, she jumped up and began once more to pace, the anger blazing up all over again, this time aimed at herself. This whole love thing was definitely over-rated, it was turning her brain to mush. She should be trying to think of a way to get out of here, not obsessing like a fool over the Master. The entire situation was completely insane. How could the twists and turns of Time have brought her here again, with everything the same and yet everything so unbelievably different?
Again, she could hear the Doctor's voice in her head: That's the beauty of the causal nexus!
Well, she was sick to death of the bloody causal nexus. In fact, right now, she was sick to death of being a Time Lord. She was sick to death of everything! Throwing herself back on her bunk, she buried her head in her uncomfortable, lumpy pillow, trying to block it all out.
To hell with the causal nexus. And, most of all, to hell with the Master!
It was late - very, very late - and the Master was nearly dead on his feet from fatigue. He had forgotten how much work it was to run a whole planet. He had spent the entire day catching up on where his previous self had left things, as well as setting in train some necessary precautions to Doctor-proof his fifteen Archangel satellites, no easy task with the limited technology available to him on this backward planet. Not to mention dealing with the Toclafane, pressuring him for an update on the rocket construction. That was another thing he had forgotten – how irritating their child-like voices and simple thought processes were when he was tired. Consequently, his jubilant mood of the morning had disappeared, leaving him in a foul temper.
He stalked down the corridor, faithfully shadowed by his two body-guards. This time around, he was taking no chances with his personal safety – he was making certain that there would be no assassination attempts. As he walked, he tried to stretch his cramped neck muscles, feeling constricted within the unaccustomed collar and tie. He had changed into one of the expensive tailored suits belonging to his earlier self as soon as possible after arriving. After all, image was everything. He could hardly conquer the Universe dressed in a hoodie and jeans, no matter how comfortable they were. There wasn't much he could do about his anachronistic blonde hair at such short notice. But one of the major advantages of being a ruthless, tyrannical dictator was that nobody tended to question you, no matter what you did. There had been quite a few sideways glances from his minions, but no-one had dared to say anything about his new image.
Now all he wanted to do was to sleep. Time Lords could go for a long time without rest, but he hadn't had a proper sleep since leaving the Eye of Orion and he was exhausted. Nonetheless, he wasn't heading for his luxurious state room with its king-size feather bed. Instead, his steps led downwards, into the bowels of the mighty ship, where the cells were located.
Ana had been furious when he had left her and he had no reason to think that her mood might have improved, especially since he had unexpectedly taken so long to return. However, the less she knew about what he was up to, the better. He knew she had far too much of her father in her to meekly accept her new situation and he couldn't take the risk that she would somehow find a way to sabotage his plans. Once his empire was in place, things would be different. But until then, he needed to keep a tight rein on her. He had no doubt that she would be still be angry, but she would just have to bloody well get over it. He was damned if he would sleep without her in his arms, tonight or any other night.
Once he arrived outside her cell door, one of her guards leapt to unlock it for him with satisfying alacrity. Oh, it was definitely good to have people grovelling to him again. Gesturing for his bodyguard to remain in the corridor, he entered the cramped little room, wearily bracing himself for yet another fiery confrontation. It was immediately apparent, however, that he needn't have worried. Overcome by her own fatigue, Tejana was already fast asleep on the narrow bed, her mass of dark curls tumbling haphazardly over the pillow.
She was so beautiful. For a moment, he just stood and watched her, feeling an unexpected tenderness welling up inside him. Why was it that sleep always made people look so vulnerable? Unable to help himself, he reached out and gently stroked her flushed cheek. Tejana sighed, unconsciously nestling closer to his hand.
"Koschei," she murmured softly.
Hearing her call his name in her sleep, he felt a stab of possessive pleasure. Angry or not, she still belonged to him, even in her dreams. Taking off his jacket, tie and shoes, he climbed on to the uncomfortable bed, his arm sliding around her waist, pulling her hard against his body. Tejana stirred briefly, but did not wake, instinctively curling herself even closer to his warmth. The Master gave a satisfied smile and shut his eyes.
Now he could sleep.
Some time later, the guards outside Tejana's cell were getting restless. It had been several hours since the Master had gone inside and he still had not emerged.
"What if something's happened?" muttered one of the Master's body-guards, a tall, thin man named Marco.
The other body-guard, a stocky, well-muscled man named Joe, shrugged. "Oh, like what? It's not as if that little slip of a thing's gonna get the jump on him, is she? They're probably just...well, you know...getting friendly. After all, the Master does like a pretty woman."
"And what if they're not?" Marco retorted worriedly. "He's never shown that sort of interest in her before. They say that she's an alien, just like him. And she's made no secret of the fact that she hates his guts. Who knows what she's capable of? You want to take the risk? You want to be the one to explain to the Toclafane how we let the Master get killed?"
Damon and Peter, Tejana's two guards, exchanged a nervous glance at the mention of the deadly spheres. Damon, a young good-looking man in his early twenties, put his ear to the door. "I can't hear anything," he reported.
"We should look," Marco insisted.
But Joe was still undecided. Everyone on The Valiant knew that if the Master wasn't happy, bad things tended to happen. Very, very bad things.
"And what if there's nothing wrong? The Master's been acting peculiar all day – well, peculiar even for him. Believe me, it's not a good day to chance his mood! If he's having some private time with the girl, he's not gonna appreciate us sticking our noses in."
"It's our job to be careful!" Marco argued. "And I say we should look."
Damon sighed as the other two men continued to bicker back and forth, getting nowhere. He knew it was no use asking Peter for his opinion. The older man was taciturn to a fault, rarely saying a word at the best of times. He was hardly going to make a decisive contribution to the argument. That left it all up to Damon. Making a swift executive decision, he pulled back the bolt securing the door and, as silently as possible, cracked it open wide enough to peek inside. To his immense surprise, he was treated to the unexpected sight of the high-and-mighty Master fast asleep on the narrow prison cot, his arms protectively around the dark-haired girl, her head pillowed on his chest as she too slept. Even more surprisingly, both of them were fully-clothed, with no evidence that anything had been on the Master's agenda when he entered the room except sleep.
Behind him, Damon felt the other guards craning for a look, taking in the curious scene over his shoulder. Quickly, he shut the door and locked it again, before they gave themselves away.
"He came down into this rat-hole to sleep?" the young guard exclaimed incredulously, staring at his colleagues. "What do you make of that?"
"Nothing!" the normally-silent Peter said roughly, startling everybody. "We don't make nothing of it, because we didn't see nothing. And neither did you, boyo, if you have any sense, unless you want to end up at the wrong end of a laser screwdriver."
Damon knew his friend was right. The Master was ruthless and notoriously unpredictable. He also had spies everywhere. It was definitely not healthy to openly express an unwarranted interest in his business. But even as they all went back to their guard duty, he couldn't help thinking of the odd scene and wondering what it might mean.