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09 March 2009 @ 04:37 pm
practical experiments [dw - Rani, Master]  
Title: practical experiments
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters/Pairings: The Rani, Simm!Master. Sort of implied Doctor/Master (because the Rani sees it too).
Rating: PG/PG-13 for insinuations.
Word Count: 1700
Summary/Notes: She’s even more convinced than ever that he’s a complete idiot. In which that “Hand of the Rani” comment is taken completely seriously, but is decidedly not a part of the Master’s plan. Spoilers for series 3.

The Master has been dead before. Not permanently, obviously, but he still knows what to expect. He knows that the countless afterlives of the universe’s religions don’t mean a damn thing; the only thing he’s been spending his existence avoiding is nothingness itself. Which is rather fitting, really, but what the hell was he thinking refusing to regenerate? Sure, the look on the Doctor’s face may have been utterly worth it, but…

The thought draws him short, because at this point, any thought at all comes as a bit of a surprise. I think therefore I am. The cogito ergo sum may hardly be the high point of intelligent thought (Descartes was embarrassingly human), but it’s something of a relief all the same. The sudden pain (almost worse than dying in the first place) and the faint echo of drums in the back of his head are somewhat less of a relief, but life is life.

He forces his eyes open and notices two things. One, he’s in a TARDIS. A suspiciously familiar TARDIS, and one that probably hasn’t seen a desktop theme change in at least half a millennium. The remnants of about a dozen different experiments are positioned around the console room, and the Doctor’s melodramatic bullshit about last in the universe suddenly strikes him with no small amount of pleasure.

Two, he’s not alone. Not quite.

“You…” he finally manages. His voice is exactly as he remembers it having been, and there’s a third thing: same regeneration. “You’re dead. You’re…” He tries to lift his arm and finds that he can’t. “Why am I tied up?”

The Rani doesn’t even look up. “Because I don’t trust you, Master,” she tells him, never pausing in her observation of several liquid filled vials. She too is every bit as he remembers her, aside from a more modern approach to clothing that, despite everything, he can’t help but admire. “You’re far too dangerous, and clearly even more unbalanced than ever.”

The Master chews on his lip. “Nothing too kinky, then?”

“Absolutely not.” The Rani pulls one of the vials free and carefully taps her finger against the edge of it. Nothing could better have driven home the rather inconvenient fact that her experiments are all that have ever mattered to her. A moment later she’s somewhere behind him, and it takes every bit of what little self-control he still possesses to keep from twisting nervously around.

How delightful, he thinks. Trapped in a TARDIS with the universe’s most obsessive-compulsive biochemist. Lovely. And he’s convinced that it’s really the Doctor’s fault – the Doctor with his nauseating joint offering of absolution and life imprisonment (and does that even make sense?) – and wouldn’t he be pleased if he could see this?

Once he can see her again, he sullenly says, “You’re still supposed to be dead. Come to think of it, so am I.”

The Rani’s lips twitch into something that might have been a smile. “The confusion will pass. Hopefully.” Yes, that’s definitely a smile. “You seem to have contracted the Doctor’s weakness for… unfortunate regenerations, so I cannot be certain.”

“This has nothing to do with the Doctor,” he snarls.

“Of course not.” She moves over to the other side of the console room, off to tinker with another experiment, most likely, and the Master takes a moment to test his bonds. They’re made of a metal alloy he doesn’t quite recognise and, unfortunately, don’t yield at all. Pity the Rani has always been so very thorough. He doesn’t mind a challenge, but he’s going to need to find some leverage to work with here.

“I can’t sense you. At all,” he observes after a moment. Time and space are no less empty now than they were when he awoke at the end of the universe. “Which must mean that you’re masking yourself somehow. Hypnotism isn’t really your thing, so… biochemical, am I right?” He smiles. Of course he is. “But… I can still feel the Doctor, off playing the tragic hero again… how sweet. Say, is that mutual, Rani? Because if it is, you may be in for some trouble yet.”

“It is not,” she coolly informs him. “Don’t expect your friend, lover, sworn enemy – whatever you two think you are now – to come for you.”

The thought is vaguely nauseating. “Sworn enemy, thanks,” he spits. “And I’d rather kill myself. Again.” The drums begin to beat more loudly, and he shuts his eyes for a moment. “Still… you, Rani. To have survived that war, that’s…” he breaks off, because it’s more than simply impossible.

“You weren’t there, were you?” he laughs. “You didn’t fight.” The Rani doesn’t reply, so he guesses that he’s right. “Not that I blame you. Hypocrites, the lot of them. They toss you out and then expect you to come… crawling back as soon as their pacifist nonsense doesn’t work out.” Toss you out or far worse. Such is the price of failure, he knows, but that hardly makes it easier. “So how did you do it? How did you manage to hide from all of them?”

“Certainly not by making myself human,” the Rani laughs, glancing over at him. Her scorn isn’t quite the Doctor’s revolting pity, but it still stings. “I would have expected such idiocy from the Doctor, but you, Master… you surprised me.”

“Well, isn’t that nice for you?” He rolls his eyes. “You still haven’t answered my question.”

“That technology is untried at best,” the Rani continues, ignoring him. “And it was never intended for use over an extended period of time. I wonder how much of your current… state is linked to that.” She shrugs. “Not that you were ever particularly stable.” Despite her apparent indifference, he can tell that she’s intrigued. Perhaps enough to force him to use the chameleon arch again.

“I’m not one of your science experiments, Rani,” he hisses at her.

“On the contrary.” Something in his expression must amuse her, because she suddenly lets out a short bark of laughter. “Oh, you egomaniacal fool. I’m not going to torture or conduct tests upon you, as much as you might enjoy it. Your continued existence, such as it is, is merely a by-product, so to speak. And one of dubious worth. I’ve already taken all I require from you.” As if to strengthen her claim, she turns away from him again, her attention returned to whatever experiment she’s studying now.

“Then why don’t you release me?” he suggests pointedly, biting off each word as if he’s addressing a child.

“Because you’re liable to destroy the universe, accidentally or intentionally. And that, Master, would interfere with my work.”

Which is… quite true, coincidently, but leaves him pretty much where he started. Except that there’s no conveniently spiteful way out this time. There isn’t even the prospect of lifetimes spent slowly driving the Doctor insane, which, retrospectively, might have been diverting, at least for a time.

“Don’t expect me to thank you for… whatever you did to me.”

“Saving your life?” She sounds amused. “I have no interest in your gratitude, Master. I assure you I would have done no such thing had circumstances been any different.”

He stares at her for a long moment, considering her words. The Rani isn’t the Doctor; she’s too detached to be truly stimulating, but she’s as capable as anyone he’s ever met, and the possibilities

“What is it this time, Rani?” he murmurs, unable to quite keep the lust out of his voice. “What lovely little experiments are you playing with now, I wonder. Something impossibly brilliant, no doubt. Something… oh. I see,” he breathes. The Time War seems to have shifted everyone’s priorities. “So much for the lesser species. Does your latest pet project require a living Time Lord, perhaps? If that’s the case, you’re welcome to the Doctor instead. I’m sure he’d be positively thrilled.” He smiles then, more a bearing of teeth than anything else. “And despite what he may be saying now, vengeance really isn’t his style.”

The Rani laughs at the implied threat. “One of you is more than enough,” she remarks dryly. “And his latest regeneration is even less palatable than yours.”

The Master rolls his eyes. “And just what have you been up to, Rani? Stalking us?” he suggests with mock horror. “What happened to that famous aloofness? Or did you just happen to be passing by?”

“Hardly,” she scoffs, but her irritation is obvious. And telling. “I would have had to be completely senseless to miss the shockwaves sent through the universe by your collapsing paradox. You’re exceedingly lucky that there was just enough flux still in the system to salvage what little remains of you,” the Rani explains. Which makes quite a bit of sense, really, though he can tell that she’s leaving out almost every detail. “Even for you, this last scheme was unbelievably absurd. Or were you actually trying to announce your presence to every temporally sensitive being in the galaxy?”

“And as condescending as ever!” he crows. “So much ambition… so little tact. You know, it’s no wonder you were never well-liked back home.” Really, he’s forgotten how much fun the Rani could be. “I don’t remember you ever successfully building a paradox machine.”

“I don’t remember trying.” She backs away from her experiment, rubbing her hands together in satisfaction. Apparently she’s finished with whatever she was trying to do, and successfully from the looks of it. She throws a final glance at him, scathing and dismissive, and the Master realises that this entire conversation has been little more than a short diversion. Or at least she’d like him to believe is much. He hates her for it.

Picking up on his mood, the Rani frowns. “I’m not about to play one of your nonsensical games,” she warns him. “Any unnecessarily devious plan you concoct had best work, because you won’t be getting a second chance. If you annoy me enough, perhaps I’ll simply hand you over to the Doctor.”

“You wouldn’t,” he hisses.

“Wouldn’t I?” She leaves the console room then, moving deeper into the TARDIS, and her final words echo back to him. “I’m certain the two of you will make each other… quite miserable.”

Oh, bloody hell. He stares after her for a long moment. He can’t say that he’s sorry to be alive again, because he really isn’t, or that he’d have rather stayed with the Doctor. Even the Rani’s threats are better than the Doctor’s… well, everything. Laughing helplessly to himself, he wills the drums to quiet enough that he can begin to think his way out of this.

asherescher: 3.13 hopping for our livesasherescher on June 13th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
This was great fun. I like how you do Master-ambivalent-about-the-Doctor.

Around here, the public libraries stock a fair amount of Classic Who..
Rhaella: Doctor/Master OTPrhaella on June 14th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! :) Oh, he's completely in denial. About pretty much everything.

You are very lucky. Around here, it's Four only (and not that much of that). I've managed to track down much of the rest, so I'm not half as clueless as I used to be, but it's still inconvenient.