Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

One Flew Over Nurse Rachett

“I suspect they’ll find the real Pasmo unconscious in the Tomb of Rassilon,” the Doctor says evenly, his pregnant body precariously horizontal across the arms of his favorite chair, a genuine crimson-backed Meeks Stanton Hall, his square face pale with subsumed rage. His angry jaw, however, rocks back and forth infrequently, grinding like the steel in a bear trap as he recounts just exactly what he has been doing since the Master’s injury one month before. “The guards were flabbergasted when I explained how the Terrorist had managed the switch.” He holds up his own golden ring, and the Master’s.

The Master, shirtless and propped in a chair with some elegant yellow silk pillows behind him, is anything but impressed. “Those damn rings again. My brain feels like Swiss cheese. And, switch? Really? You mean, all those bad jokes the old geezer told us… that was… And what did you explain to them, exactly, Theta? Your arse doesn’t look half bad in those skinny black jeans, by the way. Even if it did, you’d be sexy in a plastic bag.”

The Doctor smirks, gets up, rubs his bum, spanks one buttock, then dusts off and drapes himself gingerly back over the chair again. His fingers drift over the buttons near the bottom hem of his long shirt, the fabric straining just enough over his stomach to accentuate rather than detract.

“Obviously, when I saw the pod in the Panopticon, and put it together with the fact of Keflistian’s unfortunate discovery and the relevant footage from your amusing little See See Tee Vee experiment, I came to the only reasonable conclusion.” He adjusted his tie, this one a rabbit hued number the same color as his hair, tied nice and straight against his unpopped collar. “We ought to discover who gave us these rings, Koschei… although, we probably never will. That’s what the failsafe must have been, a temporary death differential mnemonic buffer against fraying all of time and space. Before all this, it might have been fun to play with. Basically, whoever it was turned us into isometric schwarzchild radii for our own personal memories. We’ve been playing Manchurian Candidates in someone’s greater Game, Kos. I mean to find out why.”

The Master opens his mouth to complain that the Doctor has suspiciously not given his usual emaciated answer to a relatively important question, but Rassilon’s voice booming from the too-audible comms runs rather roughshod over his attempts to be heard.

“Would the Other please report to the Cardinal’s apartment? Thank you. Rassilon out.”

The Doctor stiffens at his old moniker, feeling suddenly, inexplicably dizzy at the strange announcement, while the beautiful red damask-like pattern on the chair back gives a foreboding shripping sound behind him. Had he heard a slight snicker at the end of Rassilon’s broadcast? He can’t seem to get his brain to stop spinning the room around… the scent of roses is deafening. Why can’t the Master smell it?

Meanwhile, the Master watches in horror as the wood in the chair splinters, arches out beside his friend’s prostrate body and breaks, collapsing the legs out from beneath him and sending the Doctor straight down to the floor with a yelp of pain as his spine strikes hard marble.

Then, just as he is contemplating how he is to manage getting down on the floor to check on the Doctor, the Cardinal’s voice starts to come over the comms again. But before the comms can give their second address, the Master lifts a large shard of wood, straining his small ability with telekinesis as he flings it at the comm control panel near the door, the small blue panel fizzing in a shower of sparks as it is pierced.

The Master feels sick as he looks down at the Doctor. The unfortunate man lies moaning and sprawled on his back, his hair longer than usual, some ends just longish enough for jagged bits to peek around the base of his ears, although most of it is halfway to his shoulders in some sort of boyish layer. Despite the child growing in his womb, in the face he looks a child himself, with hooded, bright eyes and a thin, girlish upper-lip pout.

“Idiot!” he croaks before regaining his composure. “You lose that baby and our leverage is gone, and the Restoration after it!” He continues in a roar, shaking with equal parts rage and concern so that his entire frame seems to quiver with the need to spit.

“…oh that hurt. But on the upside, I got a kink out!” says the Doctor, happy to roll his shoulders as something in his spine cracks disturbingly. Then he blinks and cranes his neck to gaze at the Master, who, obviously, is fretting his dark eyes out. “You know, Kos’…” he says, the words jovial and gentle and profound, the voice so soft, so precisely adequate it could have spent a lifetime under his breath, “…you look like Rassilon when you do that. The middle year students will be calling you the Spit Lord, next.”

“So I’m one-upping Rassilon already? Good to know. Hrm… should I be bothered enough to afford our usual fans a field trip to the cells?” the Master queries, letting his breathing ease up at the sound of so much of the Doctor’s voice.

“Meh. I don’t know… have they really been so terrible, Koschei? Most of them are just brilliant kids, being stupid. There are a few kinks in the linen that have nothing to with my fall, though…” The Doctor pats the broken bits of chair, then rolls himself over onto his side, propped up by a scuffed elbow. “One of them being that if a guard doesn’t come soon, I’ll have to take my tea on the floor.” He inclines his head toward the robin’s egg blue teacup and saucer sitting on the small table just out of his free arm’s reach.

“And the other point?” asks the Master, as the sound of heavy boots come close. Finally, some help for the accident-prone prawn.

The Doctor smiles then, and it was not a pleasant sight, for when his gaze meets the Master’s full on, his entire face seeming to darken and turn down, his green eyes burning like dark diamonds of spring. “It all fit for me once I completed an eidetic scan of the camera footage from your optical implants. Remember when my biodata from the Matrix was used to imply my presence and subsequent involvement during the murder of my House Tree’s Kithriarch? Well… I suspect something similar has happened here, and it might not have ended with Keflistian. Therefore, the question we should ask is not who is the Terrorist, but who did he see during his murder? If he had your little science fair project in him anywhere, I didn’t find it.” He pauses for effect, and to massage the magnificent knot forming on the back of his thigh. “I rather think the darkness obscuring the answer to that question might be lit somewhat better if we could get that pod down and examine it. What do you think, Master?”

The Master considers it. Better plan than his, if a trifle too simple. He’s been hoping for a chance to knock some heads, namely because he’s been far too tolerant recently, and having to be so sugary sweet during tense negotiations was grating on his nerves. “Save it. The guards are here,” he murmurs, clawing the air in emphasis to get the men coming into the room to tend the Doctor first. “The Doctor’s fallen and bruised himself- no no, on that stupid chair, can’t you see? Of all the brainless… I want him looked over by someone who knows prenatals.”

The guards blink in confusion as they look from the Doctor to the Master and back to the Doctor again. The Master is simply too angry to get words out, and the Doctor keeps trying to cover a laugh by snorting, which doesn’t work at all. Then he winces and rubs the small of his back. Moment lost.

“What the Master means to say is that he believes me to need the services of a gynecologist or midwife. Or a nurse. Or the requisite doctor. To check me over. I’m growing a time tot in here!” Slowly, for emphasis, he tugs the hem of his trim white clubber shirt up to show them, then pats his exposed bump. “You know, fetus, baby, offspring, infant, spawn? Little thing that crawls, looks cute,” The Doctor pauses, gesticulating in a precisely the size of a four-month-old human toddler with his fingers, “… eats and wails, then grows up to be maximally annoying but inherently useful and sadly, not necessarily endearing but always worthy of second chances out of pity or compassion? Sort of like you lot- only adorable.” He mentions it casually, as if chipping the golf ball into the sand trap on purpose, then looks over to throw a quick wink at the Master before the guards remember themselves enough to pick him off the floor and help him outside into the hallway.

“The Infirmary’s that way, morons!” yells the Master as he throws one of the yellow chair pillows out into the hall in the proper direction. “Hey! You! Don’t let him walk- carry him! Bloody ingrates!”

Everything will be fine now, the Master tells himself. The Doctor is notorious for at least attempting to bring out the best in almost any situation under his control. Why, then, had he, the Master of all save one, felt such relief when the troupe of guards finally did as he’d wished and turned around?


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