"And this is our DNA test lab. All the chemicals are of course handled and stored following the latest EU-safety guidelines." Professor van der Kamp informed the Doctor and Donna as he guided them through the last laboratory of the department. "Right, and that's about it. There's not much more I can show you. If you want to take a look at our licenses we can go back to my office and I can go through the paperwork with you."
"Nah, that wouldn't be necessary." The Doctor cast a glance around the white washed lab space with shelves filled with mysterious bottles. To Donna they seemed to contain nothing but clear water, although the enigmatic scribbles on the labels indicated otherwise. "Our colleagues can check on that next time, we're more the field researcher type of people." He spotted doctor Grant sitting behind a microscope. The young scientist seemed to be extremely intrigued by the content of a dead mouse's stomach.
"And what this young man working on?" The Doctor asked enthusiastically. Felix Grant looked up from his work and, noticing the Doctor and Donna standing behind him, turned to professor van der Kamp with a look of pure irritation on his face.
"This is professor Felix Grant." His old mentor introduced him. "He's one of the top researchers in the field of regenerative medicine and my star protégée." Felix coughed when the professor gave him a friendly slap on his shoulder. "Felix, this is dr. John Smith and dr. Donna Noble, two inspectors from the health and safety department. They are here to pay us a surprise visit."
"How do you do?" The Doctor shook Felix's hand. Donna did the same. "A doctor?" Felix Grant muttered, studying the pair.
"Felix. There are two doctors here. Don't forget dr. Noble." The old professor said, keen to remind him to stay polite.
"Really?" He flashed him a smile that border-lined on sarcasm. "And since when does the national health and safety department employ doctors now to do this mind-numbing job?"
"Well, at least we probably get better pay than you do." Donna replied sharply.
"What a waste of keen academic minds this must be." Felix murmured, and glared at her with the same mild interest that he reserved for studying a chimp performing sign language.
"May we speak to prof. Grant alone?" The Doctor asked professor van der Kamp.
"To Felix? Are you sure?" The old professor was clearly hesitant to leave the pair alone with him.
"Random survey of the employees. It's just standard procedure. Don't worry. We're not shutting you down…well at least not today." The Doctor laughed.
The old professor joined in rather nervously.
"What do you say Felix, could you spare some time?"
"Why not?" Felix replied. "It's not every day that we get a visit from inspectors so fine and thorough." He peeled off his latex gloves, tossed them in the bin and leaned back in his chair with his hands supporting his head. "Fire away."
"Maybe I should stay." Van der Kamp opted, fearing that this might not end well.
"Oh come on George, don't you have papers to write, experiments to do? You can leave these two to me. I promise that I'll play nice." Grant replied, radiating pure arrogance.
As soon as they were left alone with Grant, the Doctor put on his thick-rimmed glasses and examined the pink slippery mess that lay spread out in the petridish.
"Oh that looks interesting."
"What's so interesting?" Grant asked.
"The lining of the stomach." The Doctor muttered, fascinated by the bits and pieces that the young scientist had removed from the tiny carcass. "This mouse is what? 2 years old? 2 and half? This should be riddled with small cancerous polyps, but it's as smooth as a baby's bottom. No signs of cancer whatsoever." The Doctor stole a pincer from Grant and started picking through the rest of organs. "Bowels, liver, spleen and kidneys, all in perfect condition. They look like they belong to a young animal on a healthy diet with plenty of exercise. Do you keep them in cages with those little running wheels? Oh I bet they do two times the marathon each night. Look at those hindlimbs, this is a mouse on steroids!"
Felix Grant crossed his arms and regarded the Doctor with a mixed look of surprise and growing resentment. "How did you know that this one is two and a half year old?"
The Doctor took off his glasses and looked at him as if Grant was now the ignorant one. "Well, isn't it obvious?" He asked innocently, driving an angry flush on the cheeks of the young scientist. It was exactly at these moments that Donna completely adored her crazy Doctor.
"This specimen was treated with the biogenic stem cells." Grant pointed out, infuriated that he was being outsmarted, and eager to regain the upper hand. "It is absolutely undistinguishable from the younger animals. You could not have noticed it!"
"Oh I know you can change a lot with genetic engineering, but what you cannot hide are these seemingly insignificant adaptations to life that this little animal had made to survive for so long." The Doctor answered knowingly. He pointed at the snout. "See these whiskers here? They keep on growing throughout a rodent's life. These ones are far too long for a young adult. Also –" Donna felt a bit nauseated when the Doctor dipped a finger into the mushy grey mass of the dissected brain. "This neo-cortex is packed with neuron connections, it's stiff with use and stored knowledge. This isn't the flexible brain of a young animal."
"Please…don't do that." Donna muttered, feeling her breakfast coming up.
"Dr. Noble seems rather sensitive to these matters." Felix remarked with suspicion. "Never performed animal experiments before?"
"Don't mind her. She's not feeling very well. Must be something she ate this morning. The breakfast buffet in our hotel was a bit dodgy." The Doctor lied.
"Oh please, don't even mention food." She objected.
"Tell me, how do the cells look like? Do they stop aging as well?" The Doctor continued, trying to distract Felix Grant from keeping an eye on Donna.
"That's not how this works." Grant replied sharply. "Hey! What are you doing? Don't touch that!" But before he could stop him, the Doctor had already picked up one of the glass slides that were lying around on the bench and popped it underneath a microscope.
"Oh and look at this liver tissue." The Doctor exclaimed as he gazed through the binoculars. "The cells look perfectly normal, no sign of abnormalities what so ever! And this is what?" He checked the label. "A mouse of 4 years old? Oh that's very clever! What did you do? Elongate their telomeres to stop their DNA from fragmenting? Make them produce enzymes that protect them against oxidative stress?"
"Oh please. Those strategies have long since been proven to be ineffective. You're referring to studies that have been performed in the late 1990s. We're living in the year 2020 now." Felix Grant snorted in contempt.
"Is it?" The Doctor noted, faking surprise. "Sorry, my mistake. I have not kept up with the literature for a while. You know how it goes. Government job, just pushing papers around all day, no time to exercise that big grey mass up here." The Doctor said, pointing at his head with a big silly grin. "So what exactly did you do? What's the scientific miracle behind all this? It must be something really clever. It has the marks of a true genius written all over it." He added, shamelessly feeding the young scientist's arrogance.
"That's a contradiction in terms Doctor. A miracle is based on ignorance. It is in its essence inexplicable. My work on the other hand is achieved and can be explained by science. Therefore, it cannot be called a miracle." Grant answered haughtily.
"Oh I don't know, creating life, even if the entire process is know from the first division of cells till the very first breath taken by the newborn, it remains one of the last great questions still unanswered, doesn't it? I mean the spark of life, where does that come from? Nobody really knows. Now the end of life, that's much more transparent. An injection with the needle, and you can start that process in these little creatures whenever you like." He stared silently at Grant, reading into his eyes all of his ambition and greed. "And after years of studying it, you think that you finally understand it." The Doctor whispered. "You might even believe that you grasp the science of death so thoroughly that at last you will even be able stop it." The Doctor stepped up to him, his eyes still fixed sternly on Grant. "Call me old-fashioned, but if someone succeeds in such an impossible task, that is indeed a true miracle to me." The Doctor said softly, challenging him.
"It's not impossible." Felix Grant replied. "Not if you're smart enough to figure out how." A strange smile appeared on his face that reminded Donna of the white washed smile of a shark rising from the deep. "You want to see your miracle doctor? Shall I show you?"
"Astonish me." The Doctor told him with a smile as cold as his.
Felix Grant led the Doctor and Donna into a smaller lab at the back. The walls here were lined with glass cabinets. Sitting in front of one of them was a technician who was busy pipetting a translucent liquid that had the color of pink lemonade into a petridish through two holes that were sealed by rubber gloves.
"Safety level 3 culture facilities." Felix Grant explained. "Not that what we are doing here poses any danger to public safety of course. We culture these cells with the sole purpose of bringing them to the clinic to treat our patients one day, So we have to take every precaution to keep them clean of any contaminating factors. In fact, the animal facilities, the culture labs and the incubators for keeping the cells are all connected and monitored by one central system."
"So you're not taking any chances." The Doctor commented.
"Patients?" Donna remarked. "Age is not a disease. You're going to earn big money from rich pensioners and faded movie stars you mean?"
"Of course, I do offer treatment to whoever can afford it. One thing I cannot stand is hypocrisy. I've never said that this was all done for the good of humankind." Felix Grant flashed her a shameless smile. "I am not an idiot dr. Noble. I know what my inventions are worth. Like my sponsors, I want a good return on my investments."
He took a stack of petridishes out of an incubator and placed one of them under a nearby microscope. "Take a look." He told Donna, stepping aside. Donna peered through the binoculars and saw a whole bunch of transparent spindle like shapes stuck on the bottom of the plate. "What are these things?" She whispered to the Doctor, who examined the petridish after her.
"Neuron cells or human brain cells, if I am not mistaken." The Doctor concluded out-loud.
"They are indeed." Grant replied. "Isolated from donated bodies and notoriously difficult to grow because their capacity to renew themselves is very limited." He took the dish to one of the glass cabinets and added the pink solution before placing it back under the microscope for the Doctor to reexamine. "But now, watch what happens after I've added the stem cells."
As soon as the stem cells that looked like round transparent spheres came in contact with the human brain cells, they started to transform, adapting their shape into that of the neuron cells.
"This is happening way too fast." The Doctor was hardly believing his own eyes. "What have you done to them?"
Felix Grant smirked. "I showed you the miracle. If I told you how it was done you would probably be disappointed."
Donna leaned over the Doctor's shoulder and peered through the microscope. To her, the cells didn't look quite so remarkable, although they were growing very fast indeed.
"This is not natural." The Doctor said sternly, standing up to face Grant. "Stop with what you're doing. You're out of your dept here."
"Don't call everything what you cannot understand unnatural." Grant replied. "I am a genius." He added defensively. "You're just ordinary. That's why this is so puzzling to you. To me, the solution was only logical."
"You're lying." The Doctor stepped deliberately away from him. His hand swept over the bench unnoticed. "You didn't think of this yourself."
"What? Are you calling me a fraud?" Grant asked, seemingly infuriated.
"Oh no…I am calling you a liar. That's all." The Doctor answered, letting his hand slip back inside his pocket.
For a moment, Donna thought that Felix Grant was going to fly right off the handle, but instead he just gazed back at the Doctor, unblinking, before rolling with his eyes. "I don't want you here in my lab." He concluded in a calm and controlled voice that somehow sounded even more threatening to her than the expected tirade. "I want you both to leave now. I have better things to do than to entertain a couple of nosy nobodies." He picked up the petridishes and put them back inside the incubator.
"Come Donna. We've seen enough." The Doctor said, briskly making his way out of the culture lab.
"Bye!" Grant shouted after them in a strange upbeat tune that gave Donna the creeps. "Don't trip and break your necks on your way out."
"What was going on?" Donna asked, following the Doctor.
"Those miracle cells are definitely not Grant's own creation. In fact, I am pretty sure that they are not even from this planet."
"You mean they're alien cells? Where did they come from?"
"I am not sure. I will need to take a better look at them first."
They were just stepping inside the elevator when professor van der Kamp spotted them on their way out. "Ah, Dr. Smith. Dr Noble. Leaving us already? Did everything go well?"
"Great!" The Doctor lied. "Mind you, we will probably be back. That doctor Grant is an absolute delight to talk to. Would you thank him for his time?"
"Oh I will." The old professor hurriedly replied before the elevator doors closed. "But next time, do send us an official letter, will you?"
"That's not going to work." Donna said. "Grant's never going to let us back in. Not after what you just said to him."
"I guess you're probably right." The Doctor replied, faking a sigh. He rummaged inside his pocket and brought out a closed testtube with a pink liquid inside to show it to her. "I still need to take a better look at those alien cells though." He gave her boyish smirk. "Now, I wonder where I've left that old microscope. I am pretty sure I moved it to the storage room in the attic last time I did spring cleaning in the Tardis."
Cathy was still rattled when she left the police station. She had been kept there for a good two hours, and most of it was spent waiting in the crammed seating area with Rob. When she was finally been called in, she was so nervous that they could have just said one wrong word to her and she would have completely lost it. Yes she did call prof. Duinkerk an old Cheapgoat, and yes, she did wish he was dead last night, but that didn't mean she made it really happen! Please don't throw me in jail! I am really not a jail-person, and it's going to look mightily bad on my CV, which is already not much to start with. Please don't charge me with murder!
But of course, she did not need to worry. The security guards downstairs in the hall had seen her leave with Robert well before Duinkerk lost his head. There was even actual security camera footage of professor's last terrifying moments that registered the exact time of the crime. She knew this, because the nice policeman who was conducting the investigation showed it to her, and had told her to really pay attention in case she might notice something unusual. She didn't. The back room and the surroundings of the service elevator all appeared normal…Except perhaps for the fact that Duinkerk was in one shot still begging for his life to someone hidden off screen, and decapitated in the next, with his head severed from his neck up and flying in the air. She actually missed the last part of the footage because she had to rush out to be sick in the bathroom, but at least they didn't make her watch it again.
"Do you want me to walk you home Cate?" Rob asked, noticing how spooked she looked. They were standing outside the police station and it was starting to get dark. The street lights behind them were switching on one by one. Cathy just shook her head. "No. I'm okay." With the craziness behind her, she suddenly remembered that Grace had moved out yesterday, and that she was going to have to live with her new flatmate pretty soon. She didn't feel much like going home.
She shook her head. "I am not going home directly. I think I am going to see my sister first. I haven't visited her for a while."
"Cathy…" Rob tried, reading in her wariness a trace of guilt. "What happened to Duinkerk wasn't your fault."
"I know." Occupied with her thoughts she started to walk away from her friend. "It's not that. I just need to get some fresh air. On my own." She added, to further discourage him from coming along.
When she sat in the tram on the way to the hospital, she kept wondering why did she not tell that policeman that the old prof had been horrible to her. Instead she told him nothing but lies about what a kind and understanding boss Duinkerk was. She didn't even mention the fact that she was fired by him. What was she going to do on Monday? Go back to work like nothing had happened? Why not? She thought. Nobody-else knew about this except for herself and Rob, and he would never tell on her. Duinkerk died before he could sign anything to make it official. It was such a macabre coincidence. It was almost like she really did make it happen…She shivered at that thought, even though the evening was still warm and the stagnant air inside the tram was stifling.
Arriving at the hospital, she went straight up to the 11th floor to the intensive care ward. She greeted misses Veels when she passed by her station. The cheerful plump nurse had looked after Anne since she had been brought here and knew Cathy well.
"Evening my dear." He replied cheerfully. "Haven't seen you for a while. You're coming for a late visit?"
"I still have half an hour before visiting hours are over right?" Cathy glanced at her watch.
"Oh yes. Go right in. By the way, your friend is here. He's been waiting for you for quite a while now."
Cathy stopped dead in her tracks. "My what?"
"I'm sorry, I forgot his name. A young man, quite handsome and very tall. He's been with Anne since the dinner service."
"I would never bring anyone to see her. You know that." Cathy couldn't belief what she was hearing. "You leave a stranger alone with my sister?" With her heart racing in her chest, she ran down the corridor to get to Anne. When she rushed inside the room she was shocked to find her new flatmate sitting beside her unconscious sibling. The sight of him holding on to Anne's hand was enough to make her completely lose it.
"You! Get away from her!" She screamed, just when misses Veels came rushing in.
"What's going on? What's the matter?" The nurse asked, looking quite shocked by Cathy's response.
"This man." Cathy pointed out angrily. "I don't know him. Why did you let him in?"
"What do you mean, you don't know me?" The Master contradicted her. "I am your new flatmate. We've just spoken this morning."
"But…he said he knew you." Nurse Veels apologized, blinking her eyes in confusion. "Actually. I don't really know why I let him in. Of course I should have called and checked with you first. It's completely against hospital policy." She covered her mouth and stifled a cry when she realized what she had done. "I am sorry Cathy, I don't know what got into me." She uttered, glancing at the Master. "He just seemed so trustworthy."
"Him?!" Cathy was practically having a fit. "This coke sniffing psychopath who's been stalking me all day?"
"Really, from all the things I said, you only remember that bit? I wasn't stalking you. I found the address of the hospital in one of your notebooks." The Master stated as he stood up and brushed his suit straight.
"Shall I call security?" Nurse Veels opted, realizing that she had made a horrible mistake.
"If you don't, I certainly will!" Cathy watched the nurse rush out to get on the phone. "Get out!" She shouted at the Master after gathering her courage. "Get out or they will drag you out!"
"Do you know how irrational you sound right now?" The Master replied with growing irritation. "You don't know my intentions. You don't even ask why I am here, and yet you presume that I want to harm you or your sister. Tell me, on what experience do you need to draw this conclusion? I can't remember that I have threatened to kill you this morning, did I?" As he came closer to her, his presence became quite intimidating. Cathy suddenly lost her nerves and spun around to get away from him. She ran right into nurse Veels who stood behind her with her one hand still reaching out for the door handle. It shocked Cathy that bumping into her felt like walking into a solid brick wall.
"I know." He raised his hands, trying to calm her. "Don't be alarmed. I don't want you to scream. Not that it would do you any good…I just…don't want you to scream." He actually would rather pierce both his eardrums with the blunt end of a wooden spoon then to listen to Cathy's hysteric high pitched shrieking again. "I want you to shut up, and listen to me." The Master continued in a calm but demanding voice.
Cathy slowly turned around and stared at him with her eyes wide and her mouth dropped open. "What happened?" She gasped. Not sure that what she had experienced was real, she pocked into the nurse's chest. Instead of sticking her finger into plump elastic flesh, she touched something that was very much the equivalent of rock-hard granite. "She's not moving." She muttered.
"Do remember that part about not screaming." The Master warned her, recognizing that look of blind panic on her face.
Frightened, she checked the nurse's breath. "She's not even breathing. What the hell have you done to her?! Is she dead?!"
"Please." The Master said, wincing at the volume and the pitch of her voice. "She's not dead. I just stopped her. I stopped everything. In fact, nothing inside this room will move. Time completely stands still in here, unless I release it again."
"It's not too difficult if you know how. Well I mean it's not difficult for me, for you it's certainly impossible. But then again, I can't hold that against you. I am practically omnipotent now…with certain restrictions. Which leads you to the conclusion that -?" He waited for her to provide the right answer to him, hoping to see just a glimpse of intelligence from his future partner.
"Oh my God…" Cathy mumbled. "You are a complete nutter!"
"No. No that's not right." The Master said tired and irritated. "Look, are you even trying or do your neurons just fire at random?"
"I knew it!" Cathy rambled on, quickly backing away from him with the eagerness of someone who was locked up with a rabid dog. "With my luck, how can my new flatmate ever turn out to be normal!"
"What are you doing…" He frowned as he watched her reach for her mobile. "Oh I wouldn't do that. Trying to phone someone while you're temporarily placed outside the main time-stream can have some very grave consequences. Put that away! You don't want to cause a juxtapositioned space-time paradox..."
"There is no signal…" Cathy muttered, tapping the mobile with the flat of her hand desperately, and getting more and more into panic mode. "No dial-tune…nothing!"
"Or it wouldn't work. Obviously." The Master quickly corrected himself.
"Stay away from me!" She grabbed blindly in her bag and shoved a pink spraycan in his face. "I've got mace, and I am not afraid to use it!"
"Oh please, that is a can of hairspray." The Master replied, rolling his eyes.
"No it's not…" She mumbled, defeated when she realised that he was right.
"Look, I have quite enough of this charade." The Master said, waving his hands in frustration. "Tell me, what do I need to do to convince you that that I can really alter time and space?"
Cathy didn't say a word but kept staring at him as if he was dangerous lunatic. The Master sighed and glanced around the room. He noticed the vase with flowers sitting on the nightstand next to Anne's bed.
"How about this?" A small gesture with his hand and the roses and lilies closed, folding their pedals over their yellow hearts while their vibrant colors faded and reverted into green.
"H-how did you do that?" Cathy stammered.
He was glad that he had finally caught her attention in the right way. "It's simple. I just reversed time."
"No." Cathy shook her head. She simply didn't want to belief this, not even after what she just saw. "No! It can't be! That's impossible."
The Master, fed up with her stubborn refusal to accept his supremacy, waved his hand in the direction of the time-frozen nurse, and before Cathy's very eyes, the woman who had been in her mid-forties began to age.
Her skin was sagging. The cheeks were hollowing out. Wrinkles began to appear and deepen around the eyes, the mouth, her forehead and neckline. Her statue began to shrink and bend, shriveling away of old age, while her chestnut hair turned grey, then white before it began to fall out in large handfuls of brittle thin threads.
"No! Stop it! Stop it!" Cathy yelled, realizing that this could not go on forever. "You're gonna kill her!"
But Master did not stop. He kept his hand turned on the unfortunate nurse, allowing the aging process to continue. The woman was now well beyond 100 years old. Her head looked like a skull. Her ancient body was a mere skeleton with every bone and every sinew visible underneath a ruined bag of withering skin.
"All right! I believe you!" Cathy finally admitted. "I believe everything you say!" Stop it! Please! Don't turn her into a corpse!"
The Master gave a meaningful look. "You promise to shut up and listen?"
"Yes. Yes, I promise. Just…Stop with whatever you're doing to her."
"All right." He lowered his hand and the destructive process immediately ceased.
Cathy pushed out a deep breath in relief, before she looked at him again with large frightened eyes.
"What?" He snorted. "You want me to turn her back as well?"
"Please. You can't leave her like this." Cathy begged.
He sighed. "If you insist." A snap of the Master's fingers, and the hideous transformation was reversed. The nurse was once again her flabby 40-year old self. Even the flowers in the vase were back in full bloom.
There was a long pause before she dared to open her mouth again. "Who are you?" She whispered after she had regained some of her wits.
"Finally, a sensible question."He sighed.
"What do you want from me? Why are you here?"
"I've been following you. You, and your sister Anne." He stared at the woman who was lying in the hospital bed. Seeing her sleeping so peacefully touched his hearts, but he wouldn't allow it show. "I've been watching over you two ever since you were children."
"What are you talking about?"
"I was there when the accident happened." He turned to her. "That one dreadful day in the summer from which you will always remember how the air smelled of dry grass and salt from the sea. When the French grain lorry driver forgot to signal that he was heading your way. That one dreadful moment in which you and Anne became orphans. When you were growing up, how many times did you cry yourself to sleep, believing that you have killed your parents because you distracted your dad from paying attention to the road? Tell me Cathy, do you still feel guilty?"
"How…" She swallowed, tears welled up in her eyes. "How can you possibly know this? I've never told anyone."
"If I can alter time, don't you think it will be also possible for me to return to the past?" He stepped closer, his blue eyes looking right into her soul. "I came to help you Cathy Summerfield." He said, his voice filled with sincerity. "Don't be afraid of me."
"Help me? Help me with what?"
"Your sister Anne. The doctors have diagnosed her with severe brain-trauma, irrecoverable damage to the reticular activating system and cerebral neocortex. They've told you that she'll never wake up again, but you couldn't accept that. Without her, you would have lost everything. So all your life you've been caring for your little sis, spending every waking hour of your existence trying to bring her back. You worked so hard, and yet have achieved so little." He paused, noticing the tears gliding down her face. "Oh don't be so ridiculous now. Don't be sad. I am not blaming you. It's not your fault. There were complicating circumstances, other people have stood in your way, and to be fair, however much clever you may be, you're just a human whose ancestors have just dropped out of a tree only a few million years ago. One truly cannot expect miracles when that many odds are stacked against you."
"What the hell is your point?" Cathy asked, noticing that despite her fear she was actually getting quite annoyed with him for being so insulting.
"My point is, you must not think that your task is impossible. Don't give up on her. I will help you to bring her back."
"Why?" She asked, wiping the dampness from her eyes with the back of her hand. She suddenly remembered how he held on to Anne's hand when she first came into the room. "Why do you want to help us?"
"Just consider me as your guarding angel." He replied, keeping his secrets. "And hers." He gazed at Anne with a sudden sadness in his eyes.
Cathy didn't know what to think of him. Everything what had happened today was so bizarre and frightening, and had happened so fast. It was almost impossible for her to get a grip on reality. "Wait." She muttered, finally realizing something. "If you know everything about me…Are you responsible for what happened to prof. Duinkerk?"
"You mean did I murder him? Of course not." It was lie, but the Master was trying to gain the trust of his new companion, revealing the truth would only scare her away.
"Because you said something…about people standing in my way…" She rambled on.
"I am not a murderer. It was just his time to go. Besides, you don't seem to mourn his passing too much."
"What do you mean? I didn't want him to die."
"But it was convenient for you though, wasn't it? You didn't even mention the fact that he had fired you to the police, which I assume was because you still want to go back to work on Monday. Act like nothing has happened." He gave her a knowing smile. "And don't tell me you didn't think he deserved it, just a little?"
"You didn't murder him?" She asked, her own guilt slowly gaining the upper hand over her doubts.
Slowly and determinedly, he shook his head.
"And you want to help me?"
"What if I don't need it? What if I don't want your help?"
"I have not seen your future, but I can predict it quite accurately based on how things are now. You can toil all you like, but you won't be able to bring back Anne on your own." He leaned closer till she felt the warmth of his breath on her ear. "Come on Cathy." He whispered. "Accept my offer. Everyone needs a bit of help from time to time, a guiding light in the dark." His hand traveled down, following the line of her sleeves till his fingers gently touched hers. "You deserve it. Anne deserves it."
He stared at her, eyes unblinking.
The voice of reason was shouting in the back of her mind that she was being manipulated, that he was feeding her lies, but she couldn't make herself listen to it. Not while the Master was speaking. She didn't really know why she trusted him, this strange, dangerous man with a voice so smooth as velvet, other than that she really wanted to believe in every word he said. So she closed her hand around his, and gave in.
"Clever girl." the Master smiled, and with that, he sealed the fates of his wife and his new companion.
Next chapter will be published next saturday. Please review and comment if you have the time.