A/N: It's finally here! End of book three. I decided to write this because some lovely reviewers encouraged me. Thank you.
Soon, I'll rewrite at least few of the first chapters and then some smaller plot points in the later chapters. After that it will probably take me a while before I start writing book four.
You can find the re-written story on my profile, it's called "To Hell in a Handbasket".
So enjoy! And remember to review.
"Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him."
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Chapter 9: Almost Human
As they reached the Valiant, it wasn't hard to slip away. Susan put on her perception filter and stepped away from the entourage, Martha and the Master both too focused on each other to pay attention to her. The guards didn't notice her sneaking past them. First, she reached the cells where Martha's parents were kept.
She hit the guard on his head with the gun she's nicked from Tom. The guard slumped down on the floor, unconcious.
Susan sonicked open the lock of the cell.
"Hi," she said to Martha's parents and Tish, who were all glaring at her, "I know you really, really, hate me. But I need to get you on the ground. Some shit is going on, and you aren't exactly safe here."
She was lying, of course. The Valiant might have been one of the most safest placest they could've been on. But she needed them on the ground so they wouldn't remember.
"Why should we do anything you tell us to do?" Francine spat out.
"Uh," Susan said and pointed the gun at them, "Because I have a gun?"
They shifted, and looked at each other. The seemed to come to the decision that they would obey, because they all walked out of the cell and to the direction she pointed.
She got them to one of the emergency capsules, still pointing the gun at them in case they decided to jump her. "I'll take care of Martha, she'll be fine!" she yelled and shut the door. Tish gave her a grateful nod, while her parents wouldn't stop glaring hatefully. The capsule took off. It didn't really matter where it would land, as long as they weren't at the center of the paradox anymore.
Next she headed toward's Jack's cell. She checked her watch and cursed, breaking into run. She only had ten minutes left before the Master would call everyone to him.
It was a bit trickier to get to where he was holding Jack, but she managed. She only had incapacitate three guards. Easy as pie.
"Jack," she said, hesitating. The fumes rising from the floor were like a veil between them. She wasn't sure if she wanted to cross it.
"Susan?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
Susan couldn't see his face, so she took a few hesitant steps forward.
Susan closed her eyes. She had to raise a hand to her face not to vomit. Nothing they showed on the show could have prepared her for it. Jack wasn't just dirty, he stank. It was obvious from the state of his clothing that he had been tortured.
"I'm so sorry Jack," she said, tears coming to her eyes. "I'm so fucking sorry..."
Jack looked at her, his head hanging tiredly, even though he tried to keep it up defiantly. He grinned sharply. "What, don't like what you see?"
"Of course not!" she pleaded, "Did you really think... Jack, fuck..." She had to lean against the metal to not fall down on the floor in a pitiful heap of tears. "I'm... I'm.."
"You're sorry?" he asked, chuckling. "What a laugh. You helped him! I know you did."
Susan bit her fist and tried to calm herself down. She didn't have the time to freak out now.
She stood up.
"Jack, look, I came here to ask if you want to go down to Earth," she said, clenching her fists, and dared a look at him again.
"Huh?" Jack asked, his brow furrowing in confusion.
"I know what's going to happen, the Doctor, he's going to erase this year from ever existing," she said. "Because I know of the hole in your memory from your time in the Agency... I wanted to give you the choice..." She swallowed. "I already helped Martha's family get down. This will never have happened to them."
He looked angry.
"I guessed not," she said and turned around. "Look, I couldn't stop this all from happening, I'm just doing what I can. I have to go now. I'll see you in a bit."
Susan left without another look at him. She didn't need to see his face to know he hated her.
Susan slipped in the room just moments before the Master called for the guards to bring in Martha's family.
"Sir, we can't find them," a guard said, "They must have escaped. One of the emergency capsules are missing."
The Master waved a hand at him. "Let them die down there," he said and grinned. "Bring in handsome Jack, then."
Susan walked up the stairs to stand next to Lucy. The Master glanced at her questioningly as she passed. She shrugged in response.
It only took moments for the guards to bring Jack in. He didn't struggle. He did however, keep staring at Susan, who ignored him with practiced ease.
"Open the doors," the Master said.
Martha Jones stepped in, flanked by two guards. She glanced at Jack, who gave her a tired smile. She also glanced at Susan, who kept staring ahead, not making eye contact.
The Master put out his hand. "Your teleport device, in case you thought I'd forgotten." Martha threw it at him and he caught it. "And now, kneel."
"Down below, a fleet is ready to launch. 200,000 ships, set to burn across the universe." He stepped up and pressed a button on the comms. "Are we ready?"
"The fleet awaits your signal. Rejoice!" came the answer.
He looked at his watch. "Three minutes to align the Black Hole Convertors! Counting down!" A timer started ticking down on the wall. "I never could resist a ticking clock." He grinned.
The Master bellowed, "My children, are you ready?!"
"We'll fly and blaze and slice! We'll fly and blaze and slice!"
"At zero, to mark this day, the child, Martha Jones, will die," he continued. He let out a chuckle. "My first blood... Any last words?" Martha stared up at him, silent. "No?"
The Master glanced at the aged Doctor in his cage.
"Such a disappointment, this one. Days of old, Doctor, you had companions who could absorb the time vortex! This one's useless!" He pointed his laser at her. "Bow your head."
"And so it falls to me, as Master of all, to establish, from this day, a new order of Time Lords. From this day forward..."
"What... What's so funny?" the Master asked, confused.
"A gun?" Martha asked.
The Master looked annoyed. "What about it?"
"A gun, in four parts?" Martha asked, her face betraying her amusement.
"Yes, and I destroyed it!" the Master growled.
"A gun, in four parts, scattered across the world... I mean," she cocked her head, "C'mon, did you really believe that?"
"As if I would ask her to kill," the Doctor rasped out.
"Oh, well," the Master said, grinning. "It doesn't matter, I have her exactly where I want her."
"But I knew what Professor Docherty would do," Martha said, still smiling. "The resistance, knew... About her son. I told her about the gun, so she'd get me here. At the right time."
The Master shook his head, laughing. "But you're still gonna die."
"Don't you want to know what I was doing?" Martha said. "Travelling the world?"
The Master looked amused. "Tell me," he said and sat down on the steps.
"I told a story, that's all. No weapons, just words. I did just as the Doctor said. I went across the continents, all on my own. And everywhere I went, I found the people and I told them my story. I told them about the Doctor. I told them to pass it on. So everyone would know about the Doctor."
The Master shrugged, "Faith and hope? Is that all?"
"No," Martha grinned, "Because I gave them an instruction. Just as the Doctor said. I told them if everyone thinks of one word, at one specific time..."
The Master got up. "Nothing will happen!" he said. "Is that your weapon? Prayer?"
"Right across the world," Martha said, still smiling. "Just one word, just one thought, at one moment... But with 15 satellites!"
The Master was stumped. "What?"
Jack grinned. "The Archangel Network!"
"A telepathic field," Martha said, "Binding the human race together, with all of them, every single person on Earth, thinking the same thing at the same time, and that word is... Doctor."
The Master stood up straight, finally getting it, when the countdown stopped. He glanced at the Doctor, who was already starting to change.
"Stop it!" he yelled, "No, no, no, no, no you don't!"
Everyone started chanting the Doctor's name. Jack. Martha. Lucy.
'Doctor,' Susan thought, and heard another thought amongst her own.
"I've had a whole year to tune into the psychic network and integrate with its matrices," the Doctor said. He was glowing, eminating a blue and purple field of psychic energy, floating above the floor.
The Master ran down the steps to look at him.
"One thing you can't do," the Doctor said. He was changing back into himself. "Stop them thinking."
Jack laughed in glee.
"Tell me the human race is degenerate now," the Doctor said, and floated even closer to the ceiling. "When they do this."
Susan saw Martha run to Jack. They hugged.
The Master fired his laser at the Doctor, "No!"
The Doctor wasn't affected. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm so sorry."
The Master calibrated his laser, "Then I'll kill them!" he yelled and pointed at Martha and Jack, but the Doctor waved his hand and the laser was flung across the room.
The Master looked at his empty hand, panicking. He glanced at Susan, who was biting her lip with a sad experssion on her face. And then finally at the Doctor. "You can't do this!" he yelled at the Doctor, raising his hands to his head, like he wants to rip off his hair. "IT'S NOT FAIR!"
"And you know what happens now," the Doctor said, floating towards him.
"No!" the Master yelled, backing down from him, "No! No!"
The Doctor approached...
"You wouldn't listen," he said, "Because you knew what I'm gonna say."
The Master huddled into the corner, hands raised to shield his head. "No!"
The Doctor has finally stopped glowing. He crouched next to his best friend and put his arms around him. "I forgive you," he whispered.
"My children," the Master protested.
The Doctor stood up. "Captain!" he bellowed. "The Paradox Machine!"
Jack nodded. He gave commands to the guards. "You there! With me," Jack said and nodded to Martha. "You stay here." They ran out of the door and towards where the TARDIS was kept.
Susan ran to Martha, and saw the Doctor and the Master disappear in the corner of her eye.
"We okay?" she asked hesitantly. "I got your family out of here, like we agreed. Once this is over, none of this has happened to them."
Martha smiled. "Thank you." She sounded sincere. "Now, let's do this!"
They ran to the controls. It didn't take long until the whole ship starts shaking, and the Doctor appeared again with the Master. Martha ran to him, and Susan followed.
"Everyone get down," he yelled, "Time is reversing!" They fall down, making Martha and the Doctor laugh.
Then it stopped.
The Doctor jumped up. "The Paradox is broken," he said, looking at the controls, "We've reverted back, one year and one day, two minutes past eight in the morning!" He turned a dial.
"This is UNIT Central, what's happened? We saw the President assasinated!"
"See? Just after the president was killed, before the Spheres arrived. Everything back to normal. Planet Earth restored."
Everybody was looking at him in amazement. "It never happened. The rockets, the terror. It never was."
"What about the Spheres?" Martha asked.
"Trapped at the end of the universe," the Doctor said. "We're at the eye of the storm. The only ones who'll ever know."
While the Doctor was explaining, the Master had been getting up. He had just bolted to the door when it opens, revealing Jack, who caught him.
"Whoa, big fella. You don't want to miss the party!" Jack said. "Cuffs." The soldier next to him handed them to him and he restrained the time lord.
Susan was slowly angling her way towards them around the edge of the room, trying hard to go unnoticed. Her percetion filter had fallen out of her pocket as time time was being reversed, and she couldn't find it.
"So, what do we do with this one?" Jack asked.
The Doctor stepped towards them. "You're my responsibility from now on. The only other time lord in existence."
"Yeah, but you can't trust him," Jack hissed, walking to him.
"No," the Doctor shook his head. "The only safe place for him is the TARDIS."
The Master's face went blank. "You mean, you're just gonna... keep me?"
"Mm," the Doctor said, his hands behind his back, thoughtfull. "If that's what I have to do..." He looked at Jack and Martha. "It's time to change. Maybe I've been wandering for too long." He glanced back to the Master. "Now, I've got someone to care for."
Susan stepped in front of the Master just a second before Lucy Saxon raised her gun, and faced her with a cold expression on her face. There was no way Susan was going to let Lucy shoot him.
"Do it", Susan whispered, looking Lucy straight in the eye. "Let's see if you can shoot two people before they stop you", she said and then glanced at the Doctor, Martha and Jack, who suddenly seemed to be frozen in their places. From the corner of her eye, she noticed the Master wasn't moving either.
"You!" Lucy Saxon spit out, "You were with him the whole time! You knew what he was going to do, and didn't stop him! You deserve die just as much as he does!" She raised the gun again, her hands steady, her eyes full of hatred.
Susan sighed and rubbed her face wearily. "Yes, I knew, and no, I didn't stop him. But that doesn't mean that I didn't try to", she admitted. "I just couldn't do anything."
Lucy Saxon snorted. "Yes, I bet you tried very hard to stop him while your friends were locked up and you were given a place on the Valiant as part of the Master's family!" Suddenly she laughed, "And your relationship with him! I've seen the way you look at him when you think that no one's watching, oh, I've seen…"
Susan clenched her fist. Her jaw was tightening so much that it hurt. She didn't bear to look at the Master, or even at the Doctor, because nothing she could see on their faces right now could make the situation better.
"They are going to stop you", Susan whispered as Lucy cocked the gun once more, pointing it at her. But then something about her expression made Susan freeze, this time with fear.
'I'm counting on it,' it said.
Susan noticed a movement at the corner of her eye and turned her head. Suddenly, many things happened at once.
First, the Master jumped at her, pushing her out of the way. She felt herself hitting the floor with a thud. Someone yelled. At the same instant, Lucy Saxon pulled the trigger, and the bullet hit the Master straight in his chest.
Her eyes were ringing. Even if everyone in the room had been screaming while they restrained Lucy, she wouldn't have heard them. The only thing that Susan saw was the Master, lying on the floor, with blood seeping through his white collared shirt, and the Doctor, holding him up.
Somehow her legs were working on their own. She felt herself crawling towards the bleeding time lord. Blood thumped loudly in her ears as she stopped beside him.
The Doctor glanced up at her and he must've realised something from her expression, because he left go of the Master and Susan draw his head on her lap.
"What have you done, you daft time lord", she said in a strangled laugh, touching his face and blinking rapidly to stop the tears from falling.
Master's lips twitched and he gasped through the pain, "Saved your life, sweetheart. Should be thankful." He coughed.
Susan scowled at him. "But there is no point in this now, I was supposed to save your life", she whined, and almost smiled as the Master left out a gasping laugh.
"I..." he started to whisper.
Susan's eyes widened. "Don't you dare," she warned, and the Master smirked at her.
The Doctor came beside her and looked down at him.
"Regenerate", he pleaded.
The Doctor's face went incredulous. "One little bullet! Come on!"
"I guess you don't know me so well," the Master whispered, and smirked. "I refuse."
"Please, just please! Regenerate!"
"And spend the rest of my life imprisoned with you?"
"But you've got to, come on, you can't end like this..." he gripped the Master's sleeve and held on tight. "All the things we've done! The Axons, remember the Axons? And the Daleks!"
The Master only stared at him, defiant.
"We're the only two left..." the Doctor gasped, tears streaming down his face. "I've no one else."
Through her tears, Susan saw the Master briefly glance at her, and then back at the Doctor, all the while keeping silent. The Doctor didn't notice the Master's glance. He pulled at his sleeve and changed his position so that his best friend was now lying on the Doctor's lap. "Regenerate!" he yelled, slightly hysterical.
For the last time, his eyes met her, and this time Susan understood. 'Take care of him.'
Then he turned his gaze to look at the Doctor. "How about that," he gasped out, smirking faintly. "I win." He grimaced, clearly in pain. "Will it stop, Doctor? The drumming... Will it stop?"
The Doctor had no answer for the Master.
He was breathing heavily for a moment, and then his eyes rolled back in his head and...
Susan felt the back of her head slam down to the floor. She didn't have the strength to sit up anymore. She lay there on her back, staring at the white ceiling, not bothering to move for a long while. From the corner of her eye she saw the Doctor start rocking his body in his arms all the while sobbing hysterically, while the others probably stood a few meters away and tried to look sorry for the two of them.
She couldn't really make a sound at first. She felt tears streaming down her face but she didn't really notice that she was crying. She just felt numb.
All the work and thinking just to save his arse from Lucy, and he went and did the only chivarlious thing he'd probably ever done in this regeneration and saved her's instead.
She let out a hysterical laugh which soon turned into sobbing.
They had his funeral the same day. Nobody else bothered to come, and they had their reasons.
Susan watched numbly as the Doctor took a torch and lit the funeral bonfire. She finally had an inkling what it felt like to lose a part of you. She'd never lost a close family member or a friend before, and it hurt. It hurt so much that she felt like she might just stop breathing and die right there. And maybe the worst part was that she didn't.
The Doctor finally threw the whole torch in the fire and stepped back to stand beside her. They stared into the flames for a few minutes.
"Do you still..." Susan started quietly, surprised by how loud and creaky her voice sounded in her own ears.
The Doctor turned his head slightly to look at her. "Do you?"
Susan stared into his eyes for a moment before staring back into the fire. "If you want me to."
The Doctor kept silent, but after a few minutes Susan felt his hand in hers. She tried to smile, and didn't really succeed, but it didn't matter.
Because they were not alone.