My Ghosts Like to Travel

Two Ponds, a Doctor, and a Re-Educated Master

Not my characters, though this specific scenario is from my previous fic, "Burn You Up and I'll Burn You Down", where the Master escaped the Time Lock and the Eleventh Doctor found him. By this point the Doctor had realized the Master needed to be tamed in order to be kept alive safely, so he enlisted the post-Torchwood Captain Jack's help in being the bad cop. Neither of them enjoyed this, but both felt it was necessary. The Master had to be completely broken in order to build him back up again.

After the initial phase, the Doctor and the Master traveled with each other for twenty years their time, a slow process of fixing the Master as much as possible (though it is adequate at best), and the Doctor believes it is safe for Amy and Rory to accompany them now. For the couple, it has been three days, post-Big Bang.

This Master no longer hears the drums or has any of his "The End of Time" powers/hungers. He still has the body of the Simm version.

1.

There's a lot more downtime in the TARDIS this go around, since this Master bloke, the only other of the Doctor's people left, who used to be both dead and evil, either isn't allowed or simply doesn't like venturing more than a few hundred meters from the ship at any given time.

The Master usually refers to Amy as "Earth Girl" and to Rory as "Nurse". Rory doesn't mind calling him "Master" since it seems to make him happy, but Amy refuses to on principle, calling him "Harry" or "Doctor's Boyfriend" or "Mr. M".

She once calls him "Koschei", having overheard the Doctor address him as such over one of their meals with the Doctor and the humans at the table, and the Master darting in to grab items and then scurry away to eat alone. (That is how he acts on an Average Days; he also has Good Days, Bad Days, and Terrible Days.)

Usually he just insults her if he's in one of his moods, but at being called this seemingly innocuous nickname, he throws a teacup at her, screams, and starts banging the wall in a weird rhythmic beat. The Doctor has to impose a Bad Day measure of grabbing, forcefully snogging, and then dragging him to a private room for a few hours.

2.

"Amelia Pond-Williams," the Master muses as Amy and Rory run into him in a corridor - they in bathrobes en route to the swimming pool, and he to one of the gardens to transplant a potted Venus flytrap actually from Ancient Venus. "I think I met you in an alternate timeline."

"Is there another timeline we've been in?" Amy asks, doing her best to be polite after the Koschei incident. "I don't know how the Doctor keeps track."

The Master scratches his two-day-old scruff – he shaves at some point every week – and there is a lively spark in his dark eyes. "Everyone on Earth was in the timeline for a year. Not a lot of them remember it. I ruled the world. The Doctor was my prisoner."

"So you never really wanted to kill the Doctor," Rory says, looking on the bright side. "As world-ruling maniacs go, it's touching."

The Master briefly smiles at the remark. "You wouldn't answer my questions about your 'Raggedy Doctor', young Amy Pond. A bit younger then. You stabbed yourself before I could ask you properly. I knew I'd seen you somewhere." And he whistles a Scissor Sisters tune as he walks away.

"He's almost as bad as the Dream Lord," Rory mutters as they hurry to the pool.

Amy sighs. "Less creepy. A lot more attractive."

"What?"

"Simple aesthetics; it's not a comment on my sexy and devoted Centurion. Don't tell me you haven't thought it."

"…Yeah…"

3.

On an Average Day, the Master will speak to the humans as necessary in civil but unenthusiastic tones, and with a politeness edging into affection to the Doctor. He will pursue hobbies of watching children's television, trying out different clothes in the wardrobe, reading, writing pages and pages in Gallifreyan spirals that the TARDIS does not translate, and intensely violent video games. He will sit quietly in the same room as Rory or Amy and for the most part ignore them.

If there is some distress signal or a mere case of wanderlust on the Doctor's part, the Master can be trusted to stay with the ship and come and rescue them if they need it. He will passively reciprocate – but not initiate – hugs and kisses from the Doctor.

He has a tendency to act like a psychiatric patient whose medications are working but sedating him a trifle too much

4.

"There you are, my dear," the Doctor says, knotting his bow tie. "And what are you making today?"

The Master is seated at a workbench with a bunch of fiddly metal parts and tools laid in front of them. He wears a simple white button-up shirt and black jeans and sneakers, with a leather apron over all to protect his clothes. He is sawing a bit of wire as he speaks. "I'm making another ring like the one I had. For you."

"I didn't know you were that sentimental." The Doctor drapes an arm over him and leans in to get a good look on the device; to be sure it's not something sinister.

"It's not another laser screwdriver, Doctor."

"Sorry. You know I have to check these things."

The Master shrugs. "If something happened to you and there wasn't a way to bring you back, I'd only be able to get the TARDIS to take your apes home. I'd be stuck with them or be alone. Self-preservation by proxy."

The Doctor squeezes his shoulder. "I'm proud of you for even that."

5.

Good Days are far less common. The Doctor and the Master will bicker in a friendly manner like the married couple Rory and Amy expect to become in twenty years. The Master holds conversations with the humans as if he considers them equals, sometimes even with their correct names. He performs the crucial bits of maintenance on the ship so the Doctor has more time to gallivant, though the Doctor double-checks all repairs afterwards.

On Good Days, the Master will initiate all sorts of things with the Doctor, ranging from chess to sex to taking a peek outside, even cuddling.

On a Good Day, the sadness behind the Doctor's smile, that Rory has only been able to see since his time being plastic, and that he's unsure Amy has ever spotted at all, goes away for a little while.

6.

"What's that you're writing?" Rory asks in the library, where the Master is writing in spirals at a table piled high with books.

"It's another list of bad things I've done so I'll know how good it is that the Doctor forgives me," the Master replies, not looking up. "The twenty years it was just the two of us I made them more often. The Doctor suggested I do this one after what I did last night."

Rory puts his own stack of books down and gingerly takes a seat beside him. "What did you do?"

That's when a pale, anxious Amy rushes in. "There you are. The Doctor wants to know if you can set bones. He didn't say why, and he didn't open the door, but…" She makes a significant glare at the Master.

"I'm not allowed to touch him for a week either," the Master says tonelessly. "Run along, humans."

7.

On Bad Days, a little less frequent than Good Days, the Doctor has bruises and cuts that he refuses to acknowledge to his companions. The Master screams and breaks crockery. They yell at each other, rushing from room to room.

If the Master does only these things, the Doctor will lock them both inside a private room and let the Master cause any temporary, non-medical-attention-requiring damage to him that he wants. There is a collection of cuffs, whips, floggers, and other masochistic items that the Doctor has amassed on and off over the centuries. It lets them settle into old roles in a symbolic fashion.

"You always were ready to be the sacrificial lamb, Theta."

"You never…could take your…attention…ahh…far from…me…"

The Doctor, in his hearts of hearts, is willing to admit that he enjoys this solution, that it taps into a craving he is the more whole for satisfying.

On three occasions, the Master goes beyond the acceptably bad: he hurts or attempts to hurt Rory or Amy. The first two times this happens, both times involving punches or slaps directed at Amy, and once hitting Rory in the head with a heavy book, they help the Doctor get him into a straitjacket and put him in a secluded dark room for seventy-two hours.

8.

The Doctor has recently given a new remedy for insomnia to the Master, resorting to experimentation after the Master spends three weeks without sleep, resulting in a streak of four Bad Days in a row. Possible, but rare, side effects of this particular one include seizures, severe dehydration, and vomiting. Though the past three days have been Average (and full of extra sleep), it isn't safe yet to leave him alone.

But there is a distress call concerning Daleks in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, the then-capital of a nation Amy and Rory know in their day as Thailand, and during its brief collection of decades when it is the most populous metropolis on Earth. Thousands of lives are at stake.

As the Doctor dithers, Rory gently touches his shoulder. "Doctor, you and Amy make the best team for this sort of thing. I've got the training to look after the Master."

"I don't know if I can…" There is such potential relief in the Doctor's posture, though, that Rory presses on.

"I protected the Pandorica for two thousand years. I don't have special powers anymore, but I'm not exactly helpless with all the stuff I know how to do. And the Master gets on with me better than he gets on with anybody except you."

"Just get him a sword to wave around," Amy suggests, tugging the Doctor's hand. "He's good at that. I wouldn't do this either, but we need you to stop the Daleks, and I wouldn't be able to handle a dozen hours alone with your blushing psychotic husband."

"I'm not…"

Rory tries a humorous tack. "Think of it, Doctor! No Pad Thai takeouts for college students ever. No such thing as Red Bull, either. How would my past self have made it through my first year at the hospital?"

He is rewarded with a slight quirk of the Doctor's lips. "Okay. But if he tries anything, tranquilize him with one of those pens I showed you."

Once the two of them leave for world-and-timeline-saving, Rory finds a small stun gun and secretes it in a puffy vest pocket. He knows the Master is watching Sesame Street in the theater room. Rory is willing to sit through it in order to keep an eye on him, as long as it's never those damn Teletubbies, and thinks he might be able to convince the Master to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy if he points out the similarities to a certain brilliant, excitable, bowtie-wearing man they both know and love.

He isn't prepared for the Master switching off the television the moment Rory enters the room, and then turning to him with a smile. "It's good to see you, Rory. Will you join me?" And he pats the seat beside him like trying to get a dog to jump onto the couch.

"I think I'll sit over here, thanks. I'm not a child."

The Master cracks his knuckles. "You'll have to forgive me. The Doctor is better at consorting with mayflies."

Rory raises an eyebrow. "I spent two thousand years as a Nestene duplicate of myself, and I have all those memories, so I think that makes me older than you. The Doctor says this body of yours has existed for just over twenty years. So has mine."

When the Master laughs, Rory can never shake the feeling that he's heard the laugh inside his head once, or seen it in dreams before he even met the Doctor. "I like you, Rory Pond-Williams."

"You're not so bad, considering."

"You'd taste great." The Master's on his feet now, and advancing.

Rory rises as well and backs away, brandishing his stun gun. "If you're hungry, we can get you something from the kitchen. Or I can make you something. There's no need to be super-creepy."

"Oh, don't worry. I don't have the stomach for that much meat at once anymore. I was thinking more of a…"

"Master!"

He shudders, pleased. "I like it when you say my name. I don't like your wife. She never says it. But you say it so casually, so matter-of-fact, like you've never doubted it, almost as if you remember…"

"Remember what? And I'm not afraid to use this. I've sliced Celtic warriors in half when they tried to harm the Pandorica, I'll have you know. Though on second thoughts I'd rather you didn't tell the Doctor about that."

Suddenly, the Master's eyes roll back in his head, and he collapses to the floor, convulsing.

Rory immediately stops being The Centurion and goes back to being The Nurse. He takes off his vest, not heeding the stun-gun's fall by the wayside, and cushions the Master's head with it. He does his best to keep the Master still and unharmed.

When the Master headbutts him, it's not just the force of the blow: it's a psychic package of all the screaming, blanking-out pain the Master has ever felt in his long life, from being burned to death, to falling in a black hole, to the centuries of torment the drums gave him. All this, in a split second of impact, is what it takes to send Rory into unconsciousness.

9.

Rory comes to in the medical bay, being scanned by the Doctor. He's wrapped in a blanket but not wearing anything else. "…Wha?"

"The Master took six hours out of your memory," the Doctor says with icy calm. "I haven't let Amy see you until I've finished with the dermal regenerator, though she did donate a pint of blood."

"May I see her?" Rory murmurs.

"Of course. I need to make a phone call about this situation anyway."

"Where's the Master?"

The Doctor grips his screwdriver so hard it looks like his knuckles might pop out of the skin. "He's in a cell."

"Don't be too hard on him, Doctor. He was on a new drug. It could have been making him act funny."

"I've taken that into consideration. Still, he's not coming out until my friend's had a chat with him. A long chat."

"Friend?"

"My other 51st Century friend. You haven't met him yet. His name's Jack."

10.

Rory feels fine now, just sort of…cold and quiet inside. Amy's been fussing over him. He's sitting in the console chair, wearing an actual poncho the Doctor purchased from some pre-Columbian Incan peasant woman – he finds them comforting – when she shows up with a platter of chocolate biscuits. "I remember these are your favorite, and we haven't had any in a while."

"Thanks. I'll go get some milk."

"Oh, I'll get the milk! Sorry I forgot."

"It's just that I want to see the Doctor's old friend when he arrives. The Doctor said he was rescuing him from repeatedly dying for decades; or something like that. It seems I'm not the only one who's been turned superhuman by accident; though I think this Jack is stuck that way."

Amy comes very close to dropping the glass of milk when she returns and the aforementioned Jack walks through the door. His clothes are hanging in tattered shreds that barely conceal his modesty, but his body is perfectly whole…and gorgeous.

"You've got a great matching set this time, Doctor," Jack says as the Doctor, who looks mildly singed, comes in and closes the door behind him.

"They're married, Jack."

"Which is why I'd only ever romance them at the same time, if they were so inclined."

"I'm Rory, and this is Amy," Rory says quietly, nibbling on a cookie. "It's not out of the question, but I'm not feeling that well today."

"It's not out of the question?" Amy whispers.

Jack nods understandingly. "I was nearly sacrificed to a volcano god this afternoon myself, so we'll table this for later discussion, after I've cleaned up a bit and dealt with your more important problem."

"Can you hear something?" Amy asks.

"Oh, it's nothing," The Doctor breezes, but he looks worried.

Rory cups a hand to his ear. He can barely make out the words, "Not the Freak! Please, Doctor, no!" being repeated with the sound of frantic pounding.

Jack sets his jaw. "You said he's made some progress?"

"He made me forget, and he didn't do permanent damage," Rory says. "He's usually okay. I think it was the new drug…"

"Why don't we get you some new clothes?" the Doctor suggests. He leads Jack away.

Amy and Rory share the rest of the treats in silence.

11.

After Jack does whatever he needs to do, the Master has a Terrible Day. He speaks when spoken to, as briefly and quietly as possible, and only moves, eats, or washes when directed. His eyes are like dead things.

Rory accidentally runs into Jack holding the Doctor as the Doctor is crying. He quickly backs out of the room, but he now knows what he must do.

12.

Finally, a solution has been devised for a Terrible Day. Rory explains his idea to Jack and Jack agrees to leave until further notice. Amy is consulted and gives her consent.

At the breakfast table, where the Doctor is repeatedly nudging and nagging the Master to take another bite of toast, Rory crouches beside this broken former enemy of mankind.

"We forgive you," he says, and kisses the Master on the forehead.

He turns to the shocked Doctor. "We forgive you too." Then kisses him, likewise.

Rory doesn't see what the Time Lords do immediately afterwards, as a teary Amy draws him away to their room, but the Terrible Days never return. The Master calls him "Rory" henceforth.

13.

There's a lot more downtime in the TARDIS this time around, but that's okay, because the breaking-things alien and the fixing-things alien both need time to heal.

The Ponds are good at saving worlds, even tiny corners of it, when the corner belongs to someone to whom they owe so much.