Author: Jo Masters
Rating: PG-13 for language and some adult situations
Other characters:Martha and Mickey Smith, Jack Harkness
Verse: "Space Family"
Summary: When the Master can’t sleep, paradoxes get unwound—much to the annoyance of his TARDIS-mates.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: This fic, like most of my Simm!Master fic, treats the Master as a person with a physical disability, and one with a cluster of symptoms of several mental illnesses. This means that he also deals with the frustrations, pains, and yes, the joys and moments of dark and/or weird humor that attend those symptoms. If detailed discussions and portrayals of things like anxiety attacks, depression, auditory hallucinations, and intense physical pain are triggering for you, you’ll probably want to skip anything tagged Simm!Master on this LJ.
Notes: This fic may not make much sense by itself, so please read this little explanation before you dive in. My partner and I are writing a huge 10/Simm!Master fic right now that explains why Mickey, Martha, Jack, and our favorite Time Lords are currently traveling through Time and Space like the dysfunctional but not entirely unhappy family they are, but we’re so not ready to start posting it yet. For now, suffice it to say that something happened, the drums are gone, and they’re all here together. The fact that these three humans happen to be three of our favorite New Who companions has nothing to do with it, either. ;) We jokingly call this story line "space family," hence the silly label.
When no one raced into the TARDIS’ kitchen as they should have, The Master frowned and drummed his fingers against the counter. Realizing that he was engaging in the same useless, nervous tic he had been attempting to throw off for several months, he splayed his fingers across the hard marble surface and pressed down until the flattened pads turned paper-white.
No. he told himself. No. No. NO.
When the drums had finally left him for good, the Doctor, in that strange mixture of sanctimony and concern this regeneration seemed to use as both sword and shield, had tried to teach him something that humans called “yogic breathing.” Most of them involved breathing deeply and…counting. To some multiple of five, because humans apparently turned into sobbing balls of confusion and incapability if they had to group natural numbers in any other fashion. Against his better judgment, the Master had humored him only to have the four-count that haunted his conscious mind spectacularly derailed along with his afternoon and what passed for a rare moderately good mood.
The Master hadn’t spoken to him since. That had been two days ago—well, Earth days, anyway; the bloody little Cro Magnons his lover insisted upon traveling with would have been so put out if their circadian rhythms were interrupted, and of course the Doctor and his half-senile old TARDIS had to indulge them. He had locked himself in the laboratory the Doctor had “given” him and torn apart every device he had been toying with for the past two months. While the others were sleeping he had reassembled the pieces into the thing of beauty that now hummed on the counter between two covered silver plates.
“Attennnntion!” He called again. “Oh my God, oh no! Did I just set the kitchen on fire?!”
Silence. Complete, utter, boring silence.
The Master frowned. Oh, this would not do at all.
Jack Harkness had some strange obsession with keeping the TARDIS’ pots and pans hanging above the range. The Master had brushed his insistence off as something that was probably, knowing the captain, annoying and/or sexual and thought nothing more of it until now; now, they suited his purposes.
The Master selected two of the most expensive-looking frying pans and removed them from their hooks with a flourish that jostled the entire rack.
“Right, then!” he shouted. “Allon-fucking-sy, you lot!” He flipped the pans and slammed their backs together.
The fourth crash brought the Doctor into the kitchen, sleepy-eyed and groggily tugging his bathrobe over his ridiculous rubber ducky-print pajamas.
“Sorry, Doctor! Can’t hear you for the pans! Come ON, guys! Wakey-wakeyyyy!”
The sixth and seventh clash brought Martha and Mickey from their bedroom, looking annoyed and vaguely confused, respectively.
“What the hell are you doing?!”
“Ah! Hullo, Martha Smith! And Mickey Smith! All in good time, my dear little humans. Just as soon as clever Jack drags his cute little arse out of bed—ahh, speak of the handsome devil!”
“There had better really be a fire out here, or an explosion or something,” Jack muttered as he walked into the room wearing nothing but an undershirt and a pair of boxer shorts. At the sight of the Master grinning like a toddler who’d just scribbled on the walls, he groaned and swept his hand over his eyes.
“Doctor, I know Time Lords get by just fine on an hour a night, but the rest of us actually need to sleep every now and then. Couldn’t we just get him a playpen to put him in at night, or something?”
“But I already have the best toys ever, Jack Harkness! You lot!”
“Master,” the Doctor said calmly. “Put down the pans.”
“Of course, my dear.” The Master placed them both on the range and wriggled his fingers. “Now that you’re all here, I’ve no more need for them. Well,” he asked when his fellow travelers all just stared at him. “Aren’t you going to ask me why I’ve called you out of bed, then?”
“Because the Doctor likes pounding your—”
“Jack,” the Doctor cautioned.
“Well it’s true, isn’t it?”
“Hahahaha,” the Master drawled. “You’re lucky I find you both amusing and sexy—God knows why, though. Usually animals aren’t my thing. No. No, I’ve called you out here to show you what is probably the pinnacle of Time Lord scientific achievement.”
“What, d’you mean this little thing?” Martha pointed at the machine humming away between the covered dishes.
“Really, Martha Smith, you should know what that “thing” is, considering you and your little friends broke the last one I made. This “thing” is a miniature paradox machine.”
“What? This?” Mickey ran a finger down one smooth side. “Kind of cute, isn’t it?”
“DON’T! Touch the paradox machine!”
“Easy, mate. Easy.”
“Anyway, it isn’t cute,” the Master grumbled.
“Yeah it is.”
“Mickey Smith, I could just kill all four of you and take over this TARDIS if you keep interrupting me. You do know that, hmm?”
“No you won’t,” Mickey mumbled.
The Master ignored him. “Now, you’re all probably asking yourselves,” he drummed his fingers against the counter again, “Why would that clever, clever, oh-so-sexy-and-brilliant Master make another paradox machine—particularly one so compact, so flawless, so—’”
All three humans snickered, and even the Doctor smiled.
“They’ve got you there, love,” he said. “It really is kind of twee. I mean, you didn’t really need to make it look like a little rocket, did you?”
“Well, let me see…” the Master shook his head back and forth, pursing his lips in mock concentration. “Given that I had to make a shell to protect it and this was the only stable design for a device of its size, yes I did. Now do kindly shut up, all of you.” The Master cracked his neck in annoyance. “Anyway. You’re probably also wondering, ‘Whatever could this brilliant little—’”
“Captain Jack, would you like me to use your head as a football while it’s still attached to your neck? Because that sounds like some bloody good exercise to me, and I do need to burn off some energy.” His fingertips crackled with white light.
“All right, all right.” The Doctor held his hands up. “No more teasing him, everyone. Okay, Master, you win. Why’d you make it, and what paradox is it stopping?”
The Master drummed his fingers harder against the countertop as a grin spread across his face. “Oh, I think you’ll like it, Doctor. Look!” He whisked the covers from the dishes, revealing two small chocolate cakes with pink frosting and a single red maraschino cherry on top.
The four blinked.
“I don’t get it,” Martha said. “You made a paradox machine and you baked two cakes?”
“Bzzzzt! WRO-ONG! Really, Martha Smith! And you’re supposed to be the smartest human on this museum piece.”
“Hey!” all three men squawked at once.
“Don’t call my poor TARDIS names!” The Doctor added.
The Master waved a hand in annoyance. “It isn’t two cakes—though, yes, I really do quite enjoy baking. Gives me something to do with my hands that doesn’t leave scorch marks on the walls and get me lectured at.”
“Of course it’s two cakes,” Jack said snidely.
The Master rolled his eyes. “I know it’s a right strain, but I’d like you to think very, very carefully now, Jack Harkness. The Time Lord has made a paradox machine. The Time Lord has two beautiful, tiny cakes sitting on two plates by the paradox machine. That means…”
He spun his fingers in small circles and looked at Jack expectantly.
“Twoooo cakes, Jack. One. Two.” The Master held up a finger for each and waved them in front of the captain’s face. “Anything? Any idea at all? Come on. I know you’ve got to think about having sex every five seconds in order to keep your heart rate up, but you can’t be that thick.”
“You haven’t…” Martha lowered her head into her palm and groaned. “Oh, bloody hell. You’ve cloned the cake, haven’t you?”
“Ding ding ding! One hundred points to Gryffindor! You always were my favorite protozoa, my dear. But it isn’t a clone, actually. Oh no, no, no, no, no. It’s something much, much better.”
“Oh,” the Doctor groaned. “You did not.”
“You humans really have such delightful little paradoxes. Catch-22. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Zeno. But,” he waggled a finger, “tonight I’ve created an even better one. I can now…” he drummed his fingers against the counter, “wait for it…wait for it…I can now have my cake…and eat it, too!”
He flashed them all a wide grin and held his arms out, fingers wriggling like worms. “TA-DA!”
The three humans blinked.
“I don’t get it,” Mickey said at last.
The Master’s hands fisted in his blond hair and pulled as he closed his eyes and made a loud, strangled noise. “It’s the same cake, you fool! Existing at the same point in time and space without blowing up the TARDIS!”
“So how is it different from two cakes?”
“IT’S THE SAME. CAKE!”
“Master.” The Doctor tapped him on the shoulder.
The Master pivoted. “What.”
The Doctor motioned for him to lean in. “I don’t want to be rude, or to insult your very impressive intellect. But…did you really need to wake everyone up to show them this?”
“Hmm…yeah, yeah I did, kinda. See, it was either that, or put gum in all the controls again, and I figured you wouldn’t like that very much.”
“Well, can’t really say I argue with your logic there. Timing, though…”
The Master stepped closer. “Doctor…don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what, now?”
“This...concern thing. I’m fine. Just having a bit of a go at the pets. Rather like teasing a cat with a laser pointer, isn’t it?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Can’t say as I like cats all that much. But I do know they can often outwit their people.”
“Might want to have a look ‘round at what they’re doing to your toys.”
The Master spun back to find all three of the Doctor’s companions pinching bites from both plates.
“No,” he said.
Jack popped a large bite into his mouth and chewed noisily. “Delicious, Master! Never knew you were such a great pastry chef.”
“Stop that,” the Master hissed.
“Yeah, how’d you get the icing to taste like real cherries?”Martha asked before licking a dollop from her finger.
“No. No. Oh nonnonono. NO!”
“Mhh,” Mickey said as he bit into a fairly large chunk. “Just like my gram used to make.”
The Master surveyed them with unusual calm for exactly five seconds before he reached out and casually tipped the tiny paradox machine from the counter to the floor. “Oops,” he trilled. “The paradox machine is broken. You know what that means!”
Instantly, the slab of cake vanished from Jack’s hand, and Mickey’s mouth closed on nothing but air.
“The paradox is a paradox again—which means you all only ate half the cake you thought you did!” To emphasize this fact, he pointed at the humans in turn and laughed. “And that’s what you get for eating the demonstration! Where are you going?”
The Trio of humans had looked at each other, shrugged, and moved towards the door during the Master’s speech. “Dunno, Master,” Jack called over his shoulder. “We’re the human pets, and you’re the Master. You figure it out.”
“That was so stupid,” Martha told her husband as they vanished down the hallway.
The Master stared after them, looking thoroughly deflated.
The Doctor stepped forward and slipped his hand onto the other Time Lord’s shoulder. “If it’s any consolation,” he said, “it was pretty stupid.”
The Master shrugged out of his grip and turned his back to him.
“I suppose you think this is easy.”
“Easy?” The Doctor frowned. “I don’t follow.”
“Yes, well, we can’t have that now, can we? You might ruin a perfect track record and all.” But he didn’t pull away when the Doctor touched him again.
The Master closed his eyes as the Doctor’s thumbs pushed against the knots in his shoulders. “One guess.”
“Oh, I can guess. I’d just, you know, rather not. I think I do that too much, actually, when it comes to you.”
The Master felt his eyes widen. “Did you just admit you don’t know something about me,” he said carefully. And that you actually want to know the answer, he did not add.
The Doctor was quiet for a few moments as he continued rubbing. “I think there’s a lot I don’t know about you,” he said at last. “I’m sorry about the breathing exercises.”
The Master waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, do stop whining, misery guts. I’ve been through worse, and so have you.” He leaned into the Doctor’s fingers and sighed as one particularly large knot gave way. “Thanks, though,” he added. “I like it when you say you’re wrong.”
“Mhm. Huge turn-on. Positively mountainous. Do it too much, and you might get some head.”
“Fancy I’ll have to be wrong more often, then.”
The Master laughed, a low, dry sound that indicated both relaxation and amusement. “Yeah. I fancy you will.” And when the Doctor’s hands slid down his sides and clasped around his waist, he didn’t do anything to push them off.
“What’s it like?” he asked instead.
“Hmm?” The Doctor asked.
“All that…silence.” The Master felt his face pinch into an expression of simultaneous confusion and longing. “How do you manage? How do you…dunno…sit alone with it?”
The Doctor didn’t answer right away. “Can’t say as I’ve ever thought about it too hard, I’m afraid. I guess you fill it up with thoughts, memories, bits of music. Or, in your case, quadratic equations, blueprints infernal devices, Tinky Winky’s best dance moves. The usual suspects.”
“Hn. Everything I was already doing before, then. So helpful.”
“Look, I may not be able to explain it, but…” the Doctor sighed.
The Master sucked on his lower lip and waited.
“I can’t fix this,” he said at last. “I always say I can—no secrets there. And 75 percent of the time I can—well. Eighty. Eighty-five. Give or take. But the rest…nope. No idea. Guess this is one of those 25…20. Fifteen.”
The Master inclined his head and didn’t respond. Normally, he would enjoy this. But now he just felt tired, null.
And the silence was still there.
“I’m wasting my time doing irrelevant things. Gum. In the controls. Toys.” He kicked half-heartedly at the remains of the paradox machine. “I once ruled the Earth, you know.”
“Could have ruled the cosmos too, given time. Now look at me.”
The Doctor stepped in front of him and met his gaze. “I’m looking.”
The Master snorted. “Like what you see, then?”
The Master didn’t pull away when the Doctor cupped his cheek and trailed his thumb over his lips.
“I don’t know how to fix it, Master. But I know how to stay. Just stay. And I know—I hope I know—when to try and when to just—”
The Doctor chuckled, soft and more than a little sad. “Yeah.” He continued tracing.
“Yeah,” the Master repeated. “So stoppit now, and give us a kiss, hmm?”
“Yeah.” The Doctor pressed their lips together and kept them there for quite somet ime.
“Heh. That the best you can do?” the Master asked when they separated.
“Guess I can try again.”
“Mhhn.” The Doctor repeated the kiss, this time licking along the Master’s chapped lower lip until his lover let him in. This time, the kiss brought them together into an embrace that quickly turned hotter, closer, as their hands moved to each other’s waists, then lower.
The Doctor broke their kiss and touched their foreheads together. “What,” he whispered, “do you need right now?”
“I think that would be obvious.”
The Doctor bit back a moan as his lover rubbed against his fingers. “Stop that. You know what I mean.”
“And so do you. This is what I need right now, Doctor. And I need it to last until this artificial night ends and your humans are up and about doing…whatever it is humans do in the morning. Brush their teeth, I guess.”
This time, the Doctor didn’t try to contain his whimper of pleasure as the Master slid a knee between his thighs. “Bedroom, then?”
“Unless you fancy a go on the counter—buuuut I reckon our little gang has had enough fun in the kitchen for now.”
“I bet they’d agree. So, sex then?”
The two Time Lords exited the kitchen, arms around each other’s waists.
“And one other thing.”
“My mini-paradox machine?” The Master leaned in close and whispered, with a bright little gleam in his eyes, “brill-iant.”
The Doctor sighed and pulled him into another kiss. “Now what,” he said when they separated. “Am I going to do with you, hmm?”
The Master laughed. “Between the two of us? I’m sure we’ll cook something up.”
The Keller Process--of Love
- Cake (10/Simm!Master)