Hearts

Chapter 15

The first thing Kate heard was music-WWII swing dancing music, of all things. She and the Master were dancing in an empty ballroom full of British flags. There was no band, no other dancers, yet they could hear music, and voices. The sound of falling mortars echoed beyond the room.

They were dressed in the clothes of the period; the Master wore an airman's uniform that could only seem creepy on him. Kate wore a simple green cotton dress and high-heeled shoes she would normally not be able to move in, yet in this place she somehow could.

She didn't know this particular dance either, but somehow the pattern of it hung in the front of her mind. "Did you create this place?" She clutched at her throat in wonder as she realized she had her voice back, at least in this dream world.

The Master smirked at this and then replied, "No, this place belongs to our freakish host. He has quite a World War Two fetish, doesn't he?"

"Certainly less disturbing than your obsession with control."

"Maybe, but I've got better taste in music." The Master dipped her and then let go. Kate threw out an arm and caught herself with her hand, jarring her wrist painfully before springing back to her feet. The world changed, and suddenly Voodoo Child blared all around them. The comforting ballroom shifted to an empty disco full of flashing lights. The Master was back in his suit, and Kate was still in the forties dress.

She saw him draw the screwdriver from his inside pocket in time to spring out of the way. If he could manipulate the environment, then so could she. She felt the reassuring weight of her weapon of choice in her hand. She sprayed the Master directly in the eyes with her little pink can of mace.

He stumbled back clawing at his eyes in pain. Kate willed them into her own place of power. They were on earth in the forest behind Stephanie's house, standing on the tree house. She turned the mobility limiting dress back into her normal trousers, and tank top. The Master had nearly overcome her attack as the world solidified around them. Clearly damage in this dream world didn't last as long as it did in the real one.

Kate rushed forward trying to knock the Master off the platform. He saw her coming and held his ground. For a moment they grappled, and then they went down rolling and scrambling across the platform. The Master was a bit stronger; after all he was a grown man, albeit a skinny one, and Kate was a small woman. Kate, however, had fear and desperation on her side. Neither of them was much of a fighter, though. The Master had always relied more on his cunning than his fists and Kate usually ran away before things came to blows. They stumbled across the small platform, throwing awkward punches and kneeing and kicking each other sharply.

With a terrifying jolt they rolled over the edge. They struggled for a half second in the air, and the Master ended up on the bottom taking the full force of the fall as they made contact with the soft earth.

The tree house was high enough off the ground to break an arm, or at least crack a skull. The Master however seemed almost uninjured, or was good at hiding it. He got a knee up and shoved Kate off. She tumbled into the grass and stumbled to her feet.

The Master took advantage of her momentary distraction and changed the world again. They were in a meadow of red grass under two distant red suns. In the distance was a giant glass-domed citadel. "Gallifrey!" gasped Kate. She knew it well from her father's journals.

"A place you will never see, half-blood," laughed the Master. He seemed incredibly at ease in these surroundings. He flicked his hand and a rapier appeared in it. As he lunged at her, Kate quickly created one of her own, blocking his strike.

She had never held a sword before in life, yet now she knew how to wield it, almost as if a voice were whispering in her ear. "Jack" she murmured as she parried another blow and then struck out.

She was in his mind after all, he was helping her in whatever way he could, Sharing his skills and knowledge, as she needed them. This filled her with a new courage. She wasn't playing hero all on her own. She held her ground and continued to look for an opening as the Master intensified his assault.

They flitted across the open field as graceful as any dancers. Everyone knows dancing is just a metaphor for sex or sometimes love; this, however, wasn't a metaphor for anything other than what it was. It was a fight of pure animosity, a power struggle, plain and simple.

The Master snarled when she managed to nick his shoulder. "I'm tired of this game. I think I'll end it now."

As the very earth shifted under her Kate realized how much the Master had been holding back in order to draw out the game. She lost her footing and he was on her in a second, a dagger, hidden in his sleeve, now solidly in his left hand. "You lose," he whispered in her ear as he drove it into her throat.

But before he could do more than pierce the skin the world shattered. They were back on the Master's ship, all three of them were tumbling to the floor from the rude awakening. They were surrounded by the sounds of gunfire. There were bodies scattered around the room, both the Master's mercenaries and red capped UNIT soldiers.

The Doctor was kneeling beside the Master, hands pressed against his head. The Master remained still for a moment, and then he began to writhe with his eyes still closed. Suddenly his eyes sprang open and he shoved the Doctor away hard, slamming his head against the floor.

He rose to his feet, drawing his screwdriver in one fluid moment and blasting the Time Lord. The Doctor writhed in pain and curled around himself, paralyzed, as all his muscles clenched at once.

Jack leapt at the Master, and he blasted him too, dropping him dead. He made the mistake of ignoring Kate while all this was going on. She scrambled over to the familiar, and now very dead, body of the UNIT soldier who had helped free her and the other prisoners. She snatched up his gun, turned, and shot the Master.

She wasn't a great shot, but at close range it was hard to miss. The bullet pierced the Master's chest, sending him tumbling back. He landed hard, already soaked in dark red blood. From the floor the Doctor made a despairing wailing sound, but still couldn't move.

Kate ran to the Master, pulling the aspirin tablets from her pants pocket and crushing them in the bit of cloth they were wrapped in. The Master was already glowing with regeneration energy when Kate reached him. Later she would have liked to tell herself that she hesitated, that she didn't kill without thinking twice, but that would have been a lie. With steely eyes she ground the powder into the open wound, mixing it with his blood.

The Master screamed as the poison hit his blood stream. The glow around him faded, and with one final pained jerk, he died. Kate slumped to a sitting position as the adrenalin faded. She doubted she had ever seen anything quite so hideous as the face of her tormenter contorted with death.

The Doctor regained the ability to move and crawled across the floor to the Master, clutching the body to him and sobbing, and whispering hoarsely, "Please, please don't leave me, not again, please!"

After a moment his eyes fell on Kate, a frightening snarl crossed his almost innocent face. He leapt over the body clutching her roughly by the shoulders and shook her. "You killed him!" He yelled. "Why did you kill him? You didn't have to kill him."

Kate shook her head.

The Doctor dragged them both to their feet, lifting Kate by her shirt, an impressive feat for such a skinny man. The look of fury and desperation in his eyes terrified her. "He didn't have to die this time!" He looked much like a wrathful god. Kate was too transfixed to try and escape.

"Doctor, put her down." Jack's voice was full of gentleness. He laid a comforting hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "You're hurting her." Well, actually more freaking her out than anything else, but that was beside the point at the moment.

The Doctor blinked and stared at his hands as if just realizing what he was doing. Very carefully he set her back on her feet. Jack pulled the Doctor close and hugged him, turning him away from the sight of the Master's body.

"Where's your TARDIS, Doctor?" Jack whispered. The Doctor mumbled something, and Jack slowly propelled him from the room. The Doctor followed as tamely.

Kate watched them go silently. She wished Jack hadn't left her alone, but for the moment she was wholly forgotten. She raised her hand to brush the tangled hair from her face, only to find it stained with drying blood. It smelled more coppery than her own half human blood, quite a bit like Jenny's, actually. Her stomach turned, and, as always happened after she killed someone, she was violently ill in one of the waste bins by the wall.

The Master's soldiers surrendered to UNIT almost immediately after his death. Whatever manner of hypnosis he had used was gone and they became nothing more than scared mercenaries, who knew when it was in their best interest to give up.

Early in the battle both sides had taken heavy losses, the worst of the firefighting starting soon after Kate and the Master began their duel. Kate was infinitely glad Jenny and Stephanie had gotten off the ship by that point. Gwen suffered a slight bullet wound to the shoulder, and Owen a twisted ankle, but beyond that Torchwood had no casualties.

UNIT rounded up the defeated soldiers, and when the Doctor eventually reemerged from his TARDIS, he helped Tosh beam them all back to earth. UNIT wanted to take the Master's body but the Doctor refused to let them, quickly moving it to his TARDIS with Jack's help.

The spaceship proved surprisingly easy to dispose of. Tosh was able to learn from the logs that the Master had apparently had it delivered from a ship building company several galaxies away. He'd done it with an impressively forged credit account. All that the Doctor had to do was call the ship building company and a group of very embarrassed Clavians came to repossess it within a day.

Kate used her TARDIS to ferry herself, Gwen, Owen and Tosh back to earth. Jack went with the Doctor. She was glad to be back in her ship. Before they left she and Tosh quickly checked it for any damage the Master might have caused when he was in it alone, but they could find nothing.

They couldn't figure out where the Master had gone either. He had wisely destroyed the records. The ship responded to Kate as it always had, and she could only pray there was no greater damage. When she was assured, she hit the few necessary buttons and sent them back to the Hub.

Her mother caught her in a close embrace the moment she stepped out the door. "My baby! You're alive." Kate clung to her mom, glancing behind her to see Jenny, Ianto and Stephanie waiting.

Tosh, Gwen and Owen followed her out of the TARDIS. Janice smiled at them. "You brought her back to me."

"We promised we would," assured Gwen.

There was a familiar wailing sound and the Doctor's TARDIS materialized next to Kate's.

The Doctor and Jack stepped out. They were wearing completely different clothes than when they had stepped in moments before in the earth timeline. Kate wondered if they had taken a few days to deal with the Master's body. The Doctor seemed more at peace.

He surveyed the room. His eyes fell on Jenny and he ran to her, scooping up the child and swinging her around. Jenny was laughing and giggling by the time he set her down, kneeling beside his daughter. "I thought you died."

"I did dad, but I came back after you left."

"I'm sorry, I should have waited."

Jenny stroked his face with a small hand. "It's alright, I forgive you."

"Thank you." The Doctor hugged her again then stood up, running a hand through his hair. "Um if you'd like I can restore you to your normal self. I've got he Master's screwdriver, and I've reset the isomorphic controls. This should only take a minute unless you want to try growing up the normal way."

Jenny glanced at Kate quickly and then shook her head. "No, I want to go back to who I was."

The Doctor clicked a few buttons on the laser screwdriver. As he was about to turn it on, Kate held up a hand to stop him and quickly slipped off her coat and put it around Jenny. This made Jack smirk, but she gave him a warning glare.

"Ready?" asked the Doctor. Jenny nodded and he zapped the screwdriver. The change was clearly painful but she didn't cry out. One moment there was a child, and the next a fully-grown young woman was standing there adjusting the coat. She stretched, feeling the full length of her arms and legs.

She did a few experimental kicks and punches, enjoying the strength in them. "I hated being that helpless. How does anyone stand being a kid?" Then she noticed Kate standing beside her and smiled in a way that would have looked wicked on anyone else. She caught the redhead off balance and snogged her solidly, making everyone in the room feel either embarrassed, interested, or discreetly look the other way. The Doctor seemed mildly disturbed to see the woman who had killed the love of his life embracing his daughter.

"Damn, I missed that," Jenny laughed releasing Kate to catch her breath. Had she been able to speak Kate might have agreed.

"Oh, you're still missing your voice then, aren't you? Dad, can you fix that?"

"Yes, but you're probably going to have to let go of her first." The Doctor adjusted the laser screwdriver again. Kate instinctively backed away when he pointed it at her. She remembered the look of pure hatred she had seen in his eyes before, even if at this particular the moment he seemed mostly disinterested.

The Doctor sighed. "I won't hurt you." Kate remained ill at ease.

"You can trust him." Jack reassured her. Jack's word was enough and she stood still. With a calm professionalism reminiscent of a real doctor, the Doctor gently pressed the laser screwdriver against her throat. She felt the severed connections latch back together, the lost bonds in her brain blossom back into existence. True to form the first words out of her mouth were somewhere along the lines of "bloody hell!" After that she didn't actually have much to say.

Kate's mom had watched in silence until this point, but now that Kate's voice had been restored she could not wait any longer to confront the Doctor.

She stepped forward. "So you are the Doctor, yes?"

The Doctor nodded.

"You destroyed all of Gallifrey and the Time Lords during the war?" There was something frighteningly cold in the way the widow said this.

He nodded again slowly, his face darkening.

"My husband, Kate's father, his name was Rodageit. I will only ask this once, Doctor. Was he still alive when you killed everyone?" There was a sharpness to her tongue now.

The Doctor met her eyes sadly. "Yes. I know for a fact he was."

The blow knocked him off his feet and sent him sprawling to the floor. It was an impressive punch for a middle-aged Irish woman who had never hit anyone before in her life. Jack moved to stop her, but she made no other move of aggression. To the contrary, she offered the Doctor a hand up, and with a confused frown he accepted it.

"I can't forgive you, but hatred is to heavy a thing for me to carry about. Let's start our acquaintance as a blank slate."

The Doctor nodded his assent.

Janice returned his nod and then turned her attention to Kate. "Right, now I want to know what happened on that space ship. I suspect everyone else would as well."

"And I'd like to know what happened on earth," added Jack. "But let's not do it standing. Why don't we reconvene around the couch?"

"I'll start the coffee," Ianto was already acting his old self again, all traces of recent trauma hidden behind his professional smile. He had learned the value of keeping routine. Life often slipped out of his control, but he could still manage coffee.

Soon with warm ceramic in hand they all gathered and compared their accounts of the last several days.


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