We Bake a Likely Lussebulle, For St. Lucia's Day
The Doctor adjusts himself. There’s a mirror in the corner, handily arranged. They’ve had to makeshift everything, since the clean-up started. But it’s going slow.
His hands fumble at the cufflinks. They’ve always been rubbish, but he wears them now. He wants to shine himself up, and how better then his new usual of white and black?
The cufflinks go undone in favour of defiance and the last button on his nice crisp shirt. He thinks perhaps he’s got a craving for the thing- the shirt that is, not the button. He’s grown to fancy them, since taking on Flamina as a… ward.
As he reaches down to pat her where she’s growing, he smiles somewhat, hovering his hand halfway between his stomach’s blunted apex and the undone two-button drop front on his near-black trousers, and thinks of Paris and the Louvre.
His knuckles turn flat. He presses them to his chin, considering the Mona Lisa as he remembers her. Or him, depending on the season. Nice bloke, she was.
With the wrong hand, the hand with the Ring, absently he reaches down to touch his guest again.
Metal meets pale skin, and roots of ice penetrate hard muscle beneath the protective fat, and he bawls soundlessly with an open mouth, biting his lip as pain flays open nerves rendered temporally raw by her presence inside him.
“Wrong… hand… idiot,” he grits through grinding teeth. Vibrations rattle his personal timestream, past, present, future, and the ring whisks him away, into a swirling storm. “…so much for the failsafe.”
He is walking down the hall, away from the Infirmary.
His eyes catch on a glimpse of shadow trailing red robes. This blur of red, it’s coming toward him.
“Oh, Rassilon, hello! Where do you think you’re going?” he hears himself say.
His eyesight must be going- he’s seeing in squares! The other man’s smirk, the greyish walls, the retro-modern plastic-looking dog food scoop of a chair beside a door- it all becomes a mess of scattered tessera, a pool of tiny glass tiles cast for divining.
Lines of temporal force are converging, the tails of black lines lighting the darkness before the powder keg. He must follow them. He must. So he does.
While walking backward, he shakes his head, trying to rid himself of the mosaic, and trips over another chair, a brown one. Funny, he doesn’t remember Giovannetti ever consulting on the Brady Bunch...
He reaches the door before the Assassin does, putting the guards to sleep with a word and a tap to the shoulder. No casualties are what he’s aiming for, but he can’t control everything. He isn’t everywhere at once. Save Rassilon. Save the Master. Save…
“You all right in here, Koschei? I’m out to (a bit of) lunch!” he murmurs, elbowing the Master and affecting a knowing look he’s stolen from the late Lord Robin, consisting of raised eyebrows and a general air of loveable cluelessness. Well, someone stole it from someone, anyway.
“I’ll say. Weren’t you just in here? Are you using that damn ring again? I’m not keen on staying in here with Him.” The Master points to Rassilon, then brings his hand up, mimicking a hanging rope. “Did I mention I hate you? Get me out of here.”
“Oh, no you don’t! But first things’ first, Koschei. You only have one wish left. What’s it going to be?”
“Honestly, I’d have to go with GET HIS HAND OFF MY THROAT YOU BLOODY WANKER. It’s the obvious one, but I’m at your discretion.”
Whipping his favorite fizzy straw from somewhere and stuffing it in his mouth, the Doctor holds the Master’s chin on his fingertips, then raises one palm above and taps the man’s head as if taking measurements for a fitting. “Can you stop moving please? I’m trying to gauge the correct size.”
“Of your coffin, silly! You’ll be dead soon. Just thought you should know. Bye!” says the Doctor, sucking idly on the straw. He holds it up. You’re just mad ‘cause you didn’t get a fizzy straw.” His eyes dart to the door of the Infirmary, then back to Rassilon and the Master. Obviously he’s been a gold member of the straight face brigade longer than either one of them. Obviously.
“I never thought I’d say this, but you’re more insane than I am. At least I have my limits…” The Master trails off when he sees what’s on the chain the Doctor is pulling from his pocket. “What are you… doing? Are you hormonal?”
Grabbing the Master’s cheek and giving it a good pudgy pinch, the Doctor adds, “Now don’t be flip. Tell me nicely. What do you want, little boy?”
“You’re an idiot. I want OUT OF THIS ROOM! And I’m older than you.”
“Ah, you should have said that to begin with!” Placing the chain around the Master’s neck, the Doctor skirts a glance once more toward the exit of the Infirmary, then holds the ring up to the Master’s face. “Be nice. I’m trying to save your life. Geronimo!” Then he presses the rose...
The Master groans, because flailing will do no good with an obviously affected person. “Oh no, you shit! You shit! Angels and Ministers of Grace preserve-”
There is that signature <bamf!> sound; the Master disappears.
“Have a good time wherever it takes you, Kos,” the Doctor breathes as he turns to straighten Rassilon’s purple robes on his shoulders. “Now you have been a very naughty boy haven’t you, Dallyrasse? I wish I could stay and help you, but I can’t. I have to protect her from him. Which means you’ll have to improvise. Just know this- that man, your former pet, is coming to give us our medication, so you’d better snap out of it or I will be very cross. Now wakey-wakey!” He flattens his palm and smacks Rassilon twice, once for each cheek. “Think of Tzipporahkozceskatilya, of Cossie, your wife. And remember to breathe, there’s a good bloke!”
Rassilon whispers something, but the Doctor clicks the Rose on his own ring, and goes.
He lands back where he should be, in his half-robed body, in the disrobing room, where he always was, now. Was he on the ceiling, before? He can’t recall. All he knows is that his hands are cold. He holds them against himself, careful not to touch Flamina where she’s sleeping just below his navel. She’ll kick him for certain. His bench is still beneath him, still solid. He molds his fingers to the edge of the little dressing seat and struggles for air. A knot is building in his throat, like the crunch of leaves when dark intentions follow a child into the woods. He berates himself, swallowing something back down where it belongs. “You ought to be glad you only want to sick up, after screwing around with the chronologic presets like that. Even if it was an accident, it was stupid of you, because of Flamina.” His fingers drift afloat over his stomach again, loathe to touch because they’re like icicles dangling from his palms. “Stupid, stupid Time Lord. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, st-?”
“Nonsense. You’re not a boy anymore.”
A hand lands like a feather on one shoulder blade. He stiffens, his motions at once thick with the abrupt grace of a crane alerting to something in the water.
The small voice and hand, as it turns out, belong to a small face, judging by the size of the hand.
The Doctor looks up.
A seven year old blonde girl in a white gown is standing on the step next to the bench, her delicate fingers pressed against his back, her young shoulders drenched in a bright velvet cloak of Prydon red.
“Hello, Theta. You’ve been absent far too long. There are many among us who may have missed your meddling. I of course, was not one of them. As for the Ring, I know better than to ask what you’re about. And, as for that greenish tinge to your face, if you’re too ill to give evidence today, you will still have to do it eventually.” Her voice is direct, crystalline and surprisingly powerful, for a child. Of course, this is no child.
“Oh my-! I can’t… Borusa? My old master of studies, former Cardinal Borusa? Oh my word. That’s just… that’s just… Oh I’m so sorry sir, but… this is… oh, this is too much! Saint Lucia on a step stool! Ah hah ha ha ha HAH HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Suitably chastised, the Doctor slides down to the ground onto his back, still laughing as girl-child-Borusa glares down at him with moist, slightly pouting lips.
She gestures to the Doctor’s stomach. “Ah- I see. That’s where you put her. I was suspicious when her tracer vanished off the screens near the Eye of Exit. “
The Doctor stares, his eyelids shoving down like a dog’s tail as he struggles to regain himself. He snorts his way into one last obstinate grin, then, out of air from laughing, lies back on the stones of the floor and rests himself, his teeth groaning apart in gaping draws of breath, his four lungs heaving like he’s just run away from something substantially larger than he.
Borusa, recalling her genius student as dubious at best, settles herself on the step and waits for him to remember the courtesies. “You are the most chaotic, devious, destructive, most irritating and insufferably noble creature in the history of Gallifrey, my boy. Give me your wrist.”
“I’m okay, really, just let me…Ow-ow-ow!” The Doctor writhes on the ground, his arms wrapped around his belly, face scrunched in a school boy wince. “Oh, blimey. I laughed too hard. “ <koff-koff> “Hey listen, would you help me u- oh right. You can’t; you’re a midg- I mean a minor...erm… substantively diminutive person…” He rolls onto his side and looks up in time to see Borusa plant her kiddy foot on his forehead.
Three merits for that honest albeit feeble attempt at curtailing your rudeness.”
“Thanks, miss.” murmurs the Doctor, ducking away.
”Oh lord. Get up, insolent boy. We’re already half an hour late for The Testimony! And you call yourself a Time Lord!” she deadpans, her voice hotly clipped, manicured and flat enough to fry several strips (and really, whole slabs would be more appropriate) of bacon.
He sighs, scratches his middle and straightens himself, finally, holding the wall and the bench to avoid any silly incidents.
“Do you mind turning ‘round so I can slip my robe on, sir?”
“I’m fairly certain I’m older than you are, Doctor.” says Borusa, her blue chalcedony eyes twinkling with sharp intelligence as they narrow at him. Across flushed apple cheeks, a brief smile dances on one end of a dainty mole. Still, her hands go up to cover her eyes, almost like the shamed ones, and she closes her gaze to him. “And two, you’re clothed already. Be quick; just don’t hurt yourself.”
He sighs again, remembering his mother, and bends to get his robe, a length of red Prydon importance dangerously close to sliding off onto the floor. He grabs it up, but stands too fast and has to flop down on the bench... knocking his former teacher over into a pile of dust in the corner between the door and the seat leg.
“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry. Are you all right, Borusa? Here, let me…”
The Doctor twists to pick her up, wrapping strong hands around her small body and planting her gently on the bench seat alongside him. Her crystal blue gaze widens as his fingers palpate her scalp and chest for any bruising, but she doesn’t speak until he stops to take another breath. Then she reaches up and cups his cheek.
“Stop fussing and tell me the truth, my boy. What are you up to? You’ve hardly spared me the indecency of this bucket on my head and as such I expect expedience from you…obedience would be too much to ask, no matter how old you are.”
“Yes, mam.” the Doctor murmurs, leaning on the wall as he carefully sticks one arm into his robe with out raising it all the way. “This from a Prydonian with a pail on his head. Sorry- her head. Gods I uh, can’t think straight… stupid erm, hormones.”
Borusa, her gaze turning steely in her stern little face, stands up and snaps her fingers, sending the dust back where it came from with a handy little trick. “Rubbish. As Time Lords we have superior control over our body systems. It’s that ring of yours. Well, you’ll tell me when you’re ready, and preferably before you’re dead. But you won’t be dying, will you? Not in your… state. In any case, never believe I think less of you now than I did when I first realized what type of man you really were. If you don’t feel up to this, it can be postponed. You still look a bit like one of those pallid cress sandwiches Pasmo so favours.”
Forcing a smile after having his bluff called, the Doctor pulls his robe the rest of the way on, hoping vainly that Borusa won’t notice the tightness of his mouth as he raises his right arm a bit too high. “Oh that’s just lovely… the gestational blood pressure spikes are starting up again. But really, we’re okay. Come on,” he adds, taking Borusa by the arm and swinging her to her feet and out the door along with him, “… let’s discuss the active pieces in code on the way to the Panopticon. It’ll annoy Rassilon- both of them. And speaking of Pasmo… wasn’t he your man in Havana?”
“Yes, Man in Havana! Haven’t you ever seen that? It’s got Sir Alec Guinness!”