A/N I've been hinting about this story in the author's notes of my others for several months now, and here it finally is. To make it work, some things had to be made slightly AU, and I'll explain those bits in each chapter as we go. Martha and Mickey, the first characters introduced, are the ones most altered. I have it so that, after Martha met the Doctor, she teamed up with Mickey, who fell back into their reality through some sort of random crack, possibly the Torchwood rift. After that, they started hunting together, but that much is explained in the chapter itself. There's a bit of an info dump in this one, but I implore you to hang in there, because I can promise that future chapters are much more action-filled. Each one is in a different character's POV. This fic does, in time, contain a number of pairings, including slash, het, and femslash. Enjoy!
Rated T for language, violence, and implied sexual content
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock/Doctor Who/Torchwood or any associated characters, events, etc.
We've been seeing what you wanted; got us cornered right now
Falling asleep from our vanity might cost us our lives
~ "The Howling," Within Temptation
It amazes me that no one else recognizes the Master when he finally makes an appearance again. After all, he is still a common subject of conversation both casual and formal—Harold Saxon, the charming and yet chilling Prime Minister who vanished mysteriously after the assassination of President Winters. Where has he gone? Is he even alive? No one knows. No one except for me, the Doctor, Lucy Saxon, my parents, Jack, and Tish. The seven of us are the sole bearers of a year of terror, of the memories that reflected the true man the Master had been.
So, perhaps the population isn't quite as familiar with his face at this point—it has been several months, after all—but still. He's right there, looking entirely normal, striding through the street in a black hoodie and dark sweatpants. I'm not sure what to think when I first see him. I do a double take, or perhaps a quadruple take, absorbing the slightly shaggier blond hair, the new beard scruff, the more ragged outfit that nonetheless fails to disguise the face and figure that I know all too well. I pause mid-stride in the middle of the sidewalk, and my hand instinctively flies out, laying itself on Mickey's shoulder.
"Martha?" he asks in confusion, but I don't answer. My eyes are wide as I see another man hurrying over to where the Master stands among the oblivious, mulling crowds, arms folded tight over his chest, face impassive. This new person has rather alarming musculature that strains against his already large suit, and though I can't see his face from where I'm standing, I take note of his extremely short-cut, dark brown hair. The Master's expression breaks into an icy grin and he gives a small nod to his visitor before whisking around on his heel and striding off into the mass of people surrounding him.
"Martha, are you—" Mickey begins again, but I'm not listening. I'm running, dragging him along behind me, expertly dodging my way through everyone on the street, not taking my eyes off the back of that blond-haired head.
"That man," I growl, the words slipping out between the swift huffs of air that I take in as I sprint. "The blond one in all black. Do you see him?"
"Yeah, what about—?"
"Long story short, he's a psychopathic mass murderer who's supposed to be dead. Now, come on, we can't let him get away!"
"But…" Mickey tugs his arm free of my iron grip, and our pace heightens considerably without the handicap. Now I think we might actually be gaining on him, though we're definitely turning plenty of heads in the process. I grit my teeth and let my feet pound harder against the cement.
"He basically killed a tenth of the human race and enslaved the rest. But then that never actually happened. See, it…" I cut myself off, aware of how ridiculous my words sound. "Just—just trust me, alright?"
"What, you mean like an… alternate reality?" Mickey questions. The words sound oddly familiar in his mouth, as though he has no trouble whatsoever with the concept.
"Of a type, yeah," I allow.
"Well, then." Suddenly, his voice is quieter, grimmer. "I've had my share of those."
I would shoot him a questioning look if not for the fact that we just turned a corner and now find ourselves in a much more deserted alleyway. In fact, the only other person here is the Master. I stumble to an abrupt halt, thrusting out an arm to stop Mickey, but it's too late. There's no way that the Master hasn't heard us.
He stops walking suddenly, his back still facing us, his hands curled into loose fists at his sides. Then, slowly, he's turning, his familiar brown eyes settling on the two of us, a feral smile curling up the edge of his mouth.
"Miss Martha Jones," he murmurs. I hate how my name sounds in his voice, twisted into a snarl, the r over-pronounced and the o too accentuated. I glare back at him, though, refusing to acknowledge the faint prickle of fear dancing down my spine.
"Mr. Saxon," I breathe in response, and the weight of the handgun concealed inside my leather jacket seems to have increased tenfold. I unzip the garment and whip out the weapon swiftly, pointing it at his chest, my aim firm and steady. "You're supposed to be dead."
"And so I am." His throat and mouth move in the manner of a short laugh, but no sound escapes his lips. "Full of surprises, aren't I?"
"Who are you?" Mickey challenges from slightly behind me, and I feel his fingertips squeeze my shoulder, a mix between a warning and a possessive statement.
The Master's eyes flicker briefly towards Mickey, and a silent scowl flits over his face before he returns his focus to me. "I came back," he hisses, grinning. "I came back, because my work here wasn't quite done. After all, look at the mess you've gone and made. You and your precious Doctor."
I don't really notice the sudden tightening of the fingers beside my neck, completely concentrated on listening intently to the Master's every word.
"I mean, come on. I had everything perfect, but then you, Miss Jones—you had to fuck it all up, now, didn't you?"
I let the harsh word sail over my radar. It's not important right now.
"You, with your story, with your word—Doctor… so pathetic, so utterly pathetic, you were. Alright, so you made the man you're oh-so-smitten with all sexy-looking again, good for you. But then you had to take it farther. You and your Doctor could've hopped into that blue box and sailed away, to another galaxy—and I would've let you, you know. I would've," he insists when I emit a harsh snort of disbelief. "But, no, your own happiness wasn't enough. You destroyed everything, everything I'd spent a year making! You destroyed it, Martha Jones, erased it, deleted it—and then, of course, darling Lucy had to take things farther. Had to kill me." He flinches ever so slightly on the last sentence, as if it costs him too much to mention such a weakness. "I wouldn't stay dead, no. Of course not. I wasn't done here."
"But how?" I demand, still gripping the gun firmly. He has to answer my questions, or I'll shoot him. And I will shoot him, too. All this hunting with Mickey has toughened me up. I'm ready to kill. "You refused to regenerate. I saw!"
"There's regeneration," he whispers, as though reporting massive news to a gossip-hungry schoolgirl, "and then there's reincarnation. This time, I managed to go for the latter."
"No." I shake my head unconsciously, unable to accept that. "You can't. You're gone. You're dead!"
"Not anymore," he beams. "I'm back, I'm ready to resume where I left off—and you, Miss Jones, have walked squarely into my trap."
I almost shoot him just at those last words, my reflexes springing to tell me that I'm in danger, that I might as well take him with me. But before I can so much as cock the gun, there's a sharp twinge in the shoulder that Mickey's hand isn't on, and my arm spasms, disrupting my aim. My free hand flies to the injury and stumbles across a foreign object, something long and slender and cool. I dislodge it with a slight jerk and let it fall into my palm, bringing it before my eyes. It's a combination between the image of the dart and the fact that I'm seeing it in double that clues me in to what's happened to us.
No, I think as the weight of Mickey's hand slips from my shoulder, but the pavement under my feet is already tilting ominously, and I have to stumble sideways to stay upright. The gun hits the ground with a ringing thud as my hands fly out, seeking purchase on the side of one of the garages lining the alleyway. The Master's maniacal laugh bubbles in my ears, even though I can no longer quite discern his figure among the tapestry of colors playing out before my eyes. No. No. No.
"Nighty-night!" the Master crows, and yet—perhaps it's just the sedative disrupting my mind, but it doesn't sound quite like him. This voice is smoother, higher, almost—
But before my thoughts can take me any farther, the wall disappears from behind my hands and the ground from under my feet, and everything collapses into two dimensions, then nothing.
My head hurts.
It's uncomfortable, and I'm not particularly keen on opening my eyes, since that's likely to send shockwaves of agony through my already sore skull. It's better to just lie here in a sort of suspended indecision, like I'm teetering on the brink of something, tingling with pain that hasn't quite been realized. I'll have to give in eventually, but this is good for now. Small surges of achiness dance across my parietal fissure, tickling at the spot where my neck joins my head—I should know the name of that little point, I realize vaguely. I am a medical student, after all. Well—I was, before… before I started hunting aliens with Mickey, that's it.
Mickey. In my woozy state, thoughts of him begin to fill my mind, and I don't try particularly hard to hold them at bay. They're easier to mull over, after all, than anything about our present situation.
Mickey Smith is an enigma. Hard as I constantly attempt to understand him, he remains stubbornly secretive, covering things up with a change of topic and a slight smile, white teeth gleaming against his dark complexion. He's intriguing, very much so, his personality constantly switching back and forth between war-hardened fighter and slightly meek, peace-seeking young man, like he possesses two physically identical personas and flicks them on and off at will. There's also an odd air about him that feels almost like he's not from this world, like he's one of the aliens that the Doctor and I saw so many of. But he insists on his humanity, stating simply that he was "living here, went somewhere else for a while, managed to come back."
Well, it's nice that he did come back—for me, anyways. Because the thing is, as little as I understand him, I can't deny that I think I might be in love.
I like to think that I've had my share of experience with love. Boyfriends have come and gone at a relatively steady rate throughout my life, for one thing. And, of course, there's the Doctor to contend with—he was something else, really, something that no other man has ever been for me before or since. He was brilliant, a genius—and a very sweet, humor-filled, selfless genius like that. But the thing about him is that he was lonely, so, so lonely, and that was always so clear to me somehow—despite his boundless energy, the Doctor was always crying on the inside. He needed help from someone, and that person would never be me. It might've been Rose Tyler, but she was gone now, so it was pretty much irrelevant. The best thing I could have done for both of us was to leave, so that he could meet someone who could really take care of him, who wouldn't be blinded and twisted by her own selfish desires for his unconditional happiness.
Then there was Tom. Dr. Thomas Milligan—another Doctor, yes, but a much more human one, in all ways. He was a regular person, really, an average man with an average life. He didn't know that he'd become the equivalent of a soldier, he didn't know that he'd lived on a planet where humans were entering extinction, he didn't know that he'd jumped in front of the Master's laser beam to save my life, sacrificing himself in the process—he didn't know, because those things hadn't happened to him. I didn't understand how I could remember them, not really. The Doctor—the alien Doctor—had never been all that good at explaining how all his paradoxes and reversals and rewrites worked. That was okay, though. Because what I knew—what I knew absolutely and positively—was that the side of Tom that I'd seen did exist, somewhere, somehow, on some level of his being. And that was enough cause for me to pursue him for no short amount of time. Months passed, and I kept trying, kept on trying to get some of that hero out of him—but it just refused to come. Seemingly, the only thing that could transform him properly was, in fact, the end of the world, and despite my attraction to him, I wouldn't go to measures that extreme in order to make him the person I remembered.
But then Mickey came along.
And Mickey, well—the thing about him was that he absolutely and completely was everything Tom had once but now never become. Mickey was brave, Mickey was heroic, and Mickey was— well— kickass. It didn't hurt that he seemed to know the Doctor, too. And yet those glimpses still shone through occasionally—fragments, reflections—of a quieter, shyer, more skittish person. And I didn't mind, because I liked that, too. I liked having someone to care for, someone who relied on me at least somewhat. Especially when, the other half of the time, he was so strong. I couldn't have asked for better, not really (and when I told this to myself, I tried not to think about the Doctor). It was perfect.
And so Mickey and I started working together, right from that day when he appeared out of the blue. He knew aliens as well as I did, and together, we hunted them down, found where they were getting dangerous, got rid of them. At one point, we met Torchwood, Jack's organization, and even joined forces with them for a while before deciding that we worked better alone. We were a duo, Mickey and Martha, Smith and Jones. And we were good. I became nearly half the legend that I was during the year that had never truly existed, and it felt great. Being with Mickey felt great. It was all perfect.
I'm not sure exactly what point at which we actually got together. It was a vague thing, really, and there wasn't any one moment at which I realized he liked me as much as I did him. The knowledge dawned on me gradually, like tides washing away sand to reveal long-lost treasures, glinting and sparkling in the sunlight. I can recall perfectly the first time we kissed, though—during a quiet night, we'd been tracking an unfamiliar alien and decided to camp out in the hills. I was sitting outside in the grass, silently watching the stars, on guard in case our quarry dared to approach our base. I didn't hear him come out from the tent where I'd thought he was sleeping, just felt the sudden gentle weight of a hand on my back. I knew it was him instantly, and didn't so much as flinch, instead letting my eyes drift shut against the unmarred blaze of the stars overhead. In the complete silence interrupted only by the ambient purr of crickets, I felt him crouch down next to me, breathed in his scent as an arm settled gently around my shoulder. I suppose we both must have turned towards each other at the same moment, but I wasn't even conscious of moving into the kiss, simply because it felt so natural, so utterly perfect and right.
Things went quickly after that, and our relationship escalated, until we were pretty much a married couple—save, of course, the fact that we weren't actually married. Our bond was no longer thoroughly professional, and everything worked out even better that way. My life and his both became a steady flow of action, of necessary violence, rescue missions, special operations assigned to us by ourselves, and, of course, each other. I don't know how long that could've lasted. Probably quite a while.
If only it hadn't been interrupted, leaving us here—a train of thought that brings me back around to my original question.
The bits of knowledge that have been drifting around in my brain like fish in too large of a tank suddenly fly together, forming a mosaic of memory. The Master. The Master is back, and he knocked me out—probably Mickey, too; he couldn't do his job too thoroughly, could he? I become slowly aware of the fact that I'm lying on a cold, hard floor, and at a rather awkward angle, too—someone clearly dumped me here without too much care for my own personal comfort, a conjecture that's reinforced by the throbbing bruises spotted along my arms, legs, and back.
Slowly, reluctantly, I let my eyelids inch open. It's not dark as I was expecting: rather, the air is full of a dirty yellow light, and above me is a damp ceiling speckled with grungy-looking water drops that threaten to fall at any moment. I groan and turn slowly onto my side, trying to ignore the pain all down my body. There's Mickey, blinking his eyes open a few feet away from me. He's propped up against the wall, which seems to be made of cement, his head sagging. A constant, echoing drip-drip fills our little prison cell, which can't be more than fifty square feet. It's pretty much a cube of solid, rough concrete, except for the side that I'm now facing, which is thin but presumably strong plastic with a few holes to allow oxygen through.
"This looks like Torchwood," I murmur aloud. And indeed it does bear quite a resemblance to the underground holding cells where Jack keeps his collection of Weevils. What are we doing here? A sick lurch clenches my stomach as I imagine the Master taking over the Hub, imprisoning Jack and killing the rest, killing Ianto and Gwen and Tosh and Owen—
"Very good," a voice congratulates, the words punctuated by the harsh noise of a single pair of hands clapping. My head snaps up, and I try to ignore the flash of agony that accompanies the swift movement. It's not the Master who's speaking now. It's the other person, the one I heard right before blacking out. The Irish voice.
Standing outside, hands now silenced and in his Westwood suit pockets, is an oddly normal-looking man. He's of average build, perhaps just a bit thin, with impeccably tidy clothing, pale skin, large oil-black eyes, and hair of a similar shade. He's smiling at me, mouth closed, looking rather pleased.
"Who are you?" I ask in a whisper.
Instead of replying, he begins to pace back and forth in front of the plastic, eyes now on the ground, and builds on his original statement. "We did model our little prison here after the ugly basement of your… Torchwood. It has a good atmosphere, don't you think?"
A particularly large and nasty-smelling drop of water takes this moment to fall into my hair, slipping down my neck and giving me chills, but I don't react.
"Martha," Mickey gasps from behind me. Glaring at the man one final time, I retreat, crawling across the meager area of flooring towards where he sits, rubbing at the side of his head.
"Are you okay?" I inquire softly, reaching a hand out to touch the side of his face. His chocolate brown eyes meet mine, and understanding passes between us. I have lots to explain to him, but it can wait. It can wait until this Irishman is out of our way and, preferably, we're out of this awful cell.
"Yeah, fine… fine. Where…?"
I shake my head to show that I have no idea where we are, then look back at the suited man, who's still watching us. "Who are you?" I repeat.
"Well, if you must know," he grumbles, voice taking a low swerve on the must, "my name is Jim. Jim Moriarty. Heard of me?"
I haven't, and I can tell by his sly grin that he doesn't expect me to. This Moriarty man seems to take pride in secrecy rather than fame, a trait that, however grudgingly, I can half-admire. "Do you know the Master?" I continue, wondering if he'll willingly answer my questions—even if I don't have a gun to point at him like I did for the subject of my most recent inquiry.
"Know him? Know him?" Moriarty echoes, looking almost offended. "Why, my dear Miss Jones, how could I not? Mr. Saxon, the great Prime Minister who almost took humans to a whole new level of discovery and knowledge… but he was stopped, wasn't he? Stopped by you scum."
I shake my head quickly, wincing against the pain that ensues. "No—Mr. Moriarty, please listen. The Master—Mr. Saxon—isn't who he says he is. He's… evil, he's twisted, he's prepared to kill to get what he wants… he might even kill you." I stare imploringly in his eyes, hoping that my desperation is communicated. Moriarty doesn't seem like the type of person who has to be dragged into an affair like this. Maybe I can even persuade him to let Mickey and me go.
"Hm, really? A murderer." Something in the dark-haired man's voice sends light shivers down my spine, which I try to ignore. "Don't you worry, dear… I believe I'm quite familiar with murderers… quite familiar indeed."
I swallow, instinctively pulling away slightly from him, watching with wide eyes.
"…Aren't I… Mr. Saxon?"
The Master comes slinking into my view, hood now pulled over his head, smirking cruelly. "Oh, yes. Mr. Moriarty is—might I say—a professional. After all…" He nips at the edge of his thumb, and his eyes glint out under the shade of his hood, cold and insane. "I only take the best."
"So is that what he is, then?" My fear is momentarily dispelled by disgust. "He's your—your companion? Your little destroying-the-world chum?"
"Something along those lines, yes."
I fall back, stumbling against the wall and slowly sinking to the wet ground, shaking my head frantically. Mickey's arm drapes itself across me, and I scoot up next to him, suddenly trembling. This can't be happening. It can't. The Master is doubtless the most evil person I'd ever laid eyes on, and now—now he's back, with this… this Moriarty character in tow… both of them terrify me, if I'm to be completely honest, and now we're imprisoned here… there has to be a way to get out. There has to. I run my hands up and down my body, feeling frantically for any of the concealed weapons that I had kept there, but it seemed that the only thing they'd left me with was my tight-fitting black outfit.
"What… what are you planning?"
"Is that even a question?" the Master shoots back incredulously. "Everything, Miss Jones, absolutely everything. Everything that I couldn't manage before… the world will be mine, and this time, time won't be reversed. I have plans… and so does my… comrade here. We're ready, this time, readier than ever before. And, oh…" His face softens for a moment into a babyish, pouting expression, and his voice heightens to match it. "Little Miss Martha Jones won't be there to save the world this time. The Doctor is useless without his little companions," he goes on fiercely, "absolutely useless. I'll get them all, one at a time… get them all and put them into my little cells."
"Our little cells," Moriarty corrects suddenly, still as an ice sculpture save the flickering of his huge, black eyes.
"Of course," the Master agrees smoothly, reaching a hand up and running it ever so lightly along the other man's back, fingers dancing fragilely down his spine. The intimate touch surprises me, and for a moment, it strikes me that perhaps there's more going on between the two than business. But before I have the time to consider this theory any farther, they're pulling back, retreating out of my sight, and I'm left with Mickey, surrounded by silence broken only by the dripping that comes from all around me.
"No," I whisper. "No."
"Martha…" Mickey's voice causes me to turn and face him. His more delicate side is shining through now, glimmering in his softer-than-usual brown eyes. "Who is he? And how does he know the Doctor?"
I sigh slowly, resting my head against his shoulder. "He's called the Master, and he's… another Time Lord, you know, like the Doctor. He's the only other one left. And lots happened with him last year—well…" I struggle, trying to explain. "I suppose that wasn't a year, not really. See, he actually became Prime Minister and killed enough humans to put Earth into extinction mode, but then—we reversed time, basically, and… the year during which he did all that never actually happened. Then his wife shot him and he, well, died—he refused to regenerate. Even as the Doctor was begging him…" I trail off for a moment, lost in the memory. The Doctor, my Doctor, eyes brimming with tears, hair mussed and face flushed in a way that I'd never seen before, screaming, begging, pleading… REGENERATE…
"But he's here now," Mickey points out. "Right? That's him. So… he was reincarnated. But how?"
The fact that he takes all of this without asking for farther explanation reminds me how much I love him. I reach out to squeeze his hand gently. "I don't know. That was definitely him, though." I swallow. "Definitely."
"Well—we'll find a way out of this, we have to," he insists, half to himself. I nod along thoughtlessly, grateful that the stabbing effects of the sedative seem to be wearing off. He's right. We have to find a way out.
We have to find the Doctor.
"You don't have any weapons left on you, by any chance, do you?" I ask half-apprehensively, not daring to hope.
"Nothing," he replies bitterly, glaring at the spot where Moriarty and the Master disappeared. "I can't believe this, though. Why did they have to capture us?"
I let out a sharp, humorless laugh. "Isn't it obvious? They think that we'll get the Doctor's help otherwise. Which is true enough. Still…"
"Still," he agrees.
I let my eyes drift shut, breathing shallowly against the awful odor of our prison. I'm not used to having no plan. After all, I'm usually significantly more intelligent than those that I hunt, but Moriarty seems human, and the Master is a Time Lord, meaning that both of them are at least as smart as Mickey or me. It's hardly a reassuring thing to know, but I tell myself that there still has to be a way out of here.
Finally, taking a deep breath, I blink my eyes open again and stand up, trudging over to the sheet of plastic that seals our cell. Slowly, gently, I lay my hand against the cool barrier, pressing my forehead to it at the same time and glancing as far as I can in either direction. The untraceable light source must be situated directly above our cell, since I can't see more than a few feet around—everything is plunged into murky darkness. I may as well be blind for all the vision that I have. Hopelessly, I press hard against the plastic as though it might give way at my touch, but it remains firmly in place. Finally, in an act of frustration more than anything, I take in a breath, curl my fingers into a fist, pull it back and—
My knuckles and the nerves all along my arm spark and jolt, and I let out a small yelp, a flush darkening my face as I realize that I let my temper go for a moment. Clutching my aching forearm, I stumble back to where Mickey is still sitting and lean against the wall.
"Shatter-proof," I hiss out through gritted teeth.
"I can tell," he agrees, sounding more than a little concerned. "Martha, are you…?"
"I'm fine," I mutter, trying to ignore the upset boiling away in my stomach. "Just fine."
"Martha…" He stands up slowly, and I watch the movement of the muscles in his arms and legs, refusing to meet his eyes as he reaches out and gently takes my face in his hands.
"I'm scared," I whisper, my voice low and barely audible over the dripping. "Mickey, this man—the Master—I've seen so much… so much… and he's the worst of it all, I swear. More than ten percent of the world dead because of him… I…"
"Shh," he murmurs, leaning in and gently pressing his lips to my forehead. I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself. It's okay. You'll find a way out of this. You always do. Mickey's scent flowing through my sinuses helps a little, and I find myself relaxing by tiny, minute degrees. "We're a team, remember?" he reminds me gently. "We've killed tons of aliens. This is just another alien. Just another alien."
"But he's not," I insist, despite the fact that I desperately want to be able to agree with him. "He's so much worse…"
"We'll make it," he promises simply. "We're survivors, both of us. You'll see."
The movement of his mouth on my skin is soothing, and I wrap my arms around his shoulders, holding him as close as I can, my fingers massaging the back of his jacket as I press my face into his chest.
Survivors. Both of us. You'll see.
He's so sure of himself, and yet I can't bring myself to have really any hope at all. Things seem so dark, so dreary.
Where's the Doctor when I need him?
It comes to me then in a bolt of inspiration. I can't believe I didn't think of it before—how couldn't I have?—but of course, the Master wouldn't have seen it as a weapon…
I pull away from Mickey, ignoring his protest, and reach into my pocket, pulling out my cell phone.
"There won't be a signal here," he warns me, sounding confused, but I hold a hand up for silence, pressing one finger to the speed-dial 2. Can it possibly work? There's no way it can, and yet… and yet…
How can't it?
Ring… ring… ring…
Then there's the click of the other end being picked up, and his voice is in my ear for the first time in months, sounding confused and a bit harried. "Hello?"
Relieved warmth flows through my chest as I turn to grin at Mickey, and as the words I've imagined so often are finally formed.
"Doctor? It's Martha. And I'm bringing you back to Earth."