Actions

Work Header

A Double-Edged Sword

Work Text:

He scratched at his chin, still expecting to feel hair that wasn't there. It wasn't that he couldn't grow facial hair, but he felt it didn't fit with the lack of hair on his head. His TARDIS stopped, making a sound he hadn't heard before and pulling him forward ever so slightly. He had to grab onto the console to stop himself from falling over.

Moments later he stepped out of his ship. Something about this place felt wrong, and after taking a quick look around he knew it didn't look right. The air even felt wrong in a way he couldn’t pinpoint.

He was in a large room with black marble floors, white glimmering veins running through it. Large thin pillars made of the same material lined the room. It seemed to go on forever until he noticed that mirrors had been placed on every wall, making it seem larger than it was. Still a large room, just not infinite. Not quite his taste in decor, but he could appreciate it nonetheless.

When he looked back to his TARDIS it had taken the shape of one of the pillars. The only distinction between that and the other ones was its placement. He slowly touched a metal rod in his pocket to assure the safety of his TARDIS, locking the doors and activating his defense system.

As he turned around he quickly jumped back. A short woman who appeared to be a nun was standing before him, holding something in her hands. Before he could say or do anything she reached for his hand and poked his finger with what looked like a pen attached to a metal box with a coiled cord.

As the pen pricked his finger and drew blood, the Master pulled his hand away, instinctively pulling it up to his mouth. “Ow,” he hissed at her. “What was that for?” It didn’t taste like anything had been added to his system.

“It's the law set into place by the President,” she replied in an unenthusiastic tone.

“It's what?” he began with a mix of anger and annoyance. “It's the law to just walk up to people and poke them with...” He waved his hands vaguely toward the machine. “...whatever that is? Who do you think you are? Do you have any idea who I am?”

The woman’s face dropped. A flash of every human emotion passed across her face in mere seconds before she settled on contempt. She looked from one side of the room to the next. “You know, you could have just told me who you are instead of playing these games with me. It's bad enough you’ve wormed your way into being the president of the entire universe, but now you question orders you yourself gave me. Really, can't you ever just be upfront about anything?”

“I assure you, I have no idea what you're talking about,” he said in his most sickeningly sweet voice, trying to peek at what was on the screen of the metal box.

Noticing this, she pulled it closer to her chest, almost glaring at him. That same moment he could hear another set of feet coming their way. He glanced behind him to see that a glass panel had been moved to reveal a door frame, through which strode a tall man with short, thinning, sandy red hair and something almost resembling a beard. It reminded him of someone who normally would have shaved but had forgotten to for a few days, but there was also something that looked very intentional about it.

The man stopped a few feet from where the two were standing. “Who is this?” he hissed at the nun before turning to face the Master. “What are you doing in here?” Both noticed and ignored the nun rolling her eyes. He looked past the bald man to the misplaced pillar. A movement, no, a flicker of despondent crossed his face. “Oh, I see. Your chameleon circuit works, then?”

Before either could say another word, the nun spoke up. “I could see one of you not knowing, but both?” she said sharply, not hiding the anger in her voice. “It's bad enough I have to go around cleaning up the messes you make around here and twisting it to look like you are the good guy. But I will not be a part of this, whatever this is. I have choir practice to get to, anyway.” With that, she clicked her heels and stormed off.

The Master grinned. He now had enough information about what was going on to find this amusing. As he turned to face the man he could only assume was himself, he noticed the same smirk on his face. Still with his eye on the nun as she left the room, the other man spoke first. “It was worth it just to see that.”

“President of the universe?” the Master said in slight awe.

The red-headed Master quickly turned to face the bald one. “Yes, everything you see, feel, taste, or touch is mine.” He looked very pleased with himself for a moment. “But she has a point. I can only assume you’re me. But seeing as I don't know you and you don't know me, I can only conclude that you're not from around here, are you?”

Despite this clearly being a rhetorical question, the Master decided not to answer, knowing that under normal circumstances he wouldn't hesitate to come back with some witty remark. It had only been another flicker in his expression but that's all it took. The Master recognized it immediately; he was plotting something, and he knew whatever it was would probably not be good for him. After all, he did know himself very well, even if this was an alternate version of himself.

Without waiting for an answer, the president Master moved his hand to the door. “Shall I show you my universe?” he said, not hiding a wicked grin that most people would confuse for being polite.

*****

The two of them walked down a few corridors. The Master of this universe went on about politics and how he wanted the stability of the universe. He, however, had a hard time listening to him. The light from the moons beamed in between the pillars that acted as a divider from the inside to the outside, leading onto a large balcony. The Master watched the sky to try to determine approximately where he was. The moment he had an idea, something would look off. Things he knew where on the opposite side of the galaxy from one another were next to one another. Some things were simply missing. He couldn't take it anymore; passing through two of the pillars, he climbed over a railing to reach the balcony.

After a step and a half, the president realized he had lost the attention of himself. He made a beeline to where he was standing. “It’s lovely, isn't it?” he said, turning ever so slightly to gaze at the sky. “And it all belongs to me. Everything I always wanted.” He shot him a wide grin. He wouldn't admit it, but he liked the company.

The Master didn't meet his gaze but kept his eyes to the stars. “It's all wrong,” he said in an almost accusing voice, but he quickly bit his tongue. That sounded like something the Doctor would say. “And what do the Time Lords make of all of this?" This time he did look over. He needed to see his reaction.

The President still had a smile on his face when he answered. “What Time Lords? They're all dead.”

The Master studied him for a long time. He couldn't put his finger on it but there was something wrong with this version of himself. He didn't think anyone else would be able to tell, but there were flashes, very subtle gestures he made that made him uneasy. He was clearly hiding something, but what was it?

“And the Doctor doesn't have anything to say about you ruling everything?” As the words came out of his mouth he felt like he would be ill for a moment. Startled by his own body's reaction, he turned back to the sky.

The President did the same as he waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, that hypocrite would have a problem with it, wouldn't he. Good enough for him, but no one else.” He snarled at his own words. “But no, he's gone. I took the presidency right from under his nose. Got a robot to bribe everyone into voting against him.”

The Master didn't like others taking control of the conversation, even if it was himself. “What are you talking about? Time Lords gone? The Doctor, President of the universe? All of this seems out of place. And why is the sky all wrong? And another thing—”

He couldn't complete his thought before the other interrupted, clearly having more in common with him than not. “The Time War.” He paused for dramatic effect, which seemed to work very well as the Master fell silent. “I never thought we could actually lose... that, is until the Daleks took the Cruciform.” He paused again, this time watching his folded hands rub against one another. Both of them noticed it at the same time. He stopped, laying both his hands flat against the railing. “You said the sky looks wrong; well, that's because it is. Everything is wrong now. Most of them were destroyed. When chasing the Doctor out I was able to put up a barrier. They call it a safe space. It's changed a lot of things, but the effects of the war can't make their way here."

The Master didn't speak. The moment of feeling ill had long passed but now he was stuck on why this Master was wrong. He didn't believe for a second it had to do with the Time War. He himself had been fighting in the war and if anything it made him feel more comfortable than ever. What was it? He wracked his brain, but he found no answer, not yet.

“Are you planning on leaving tonight?” The President asked in an indifferent tone.

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” the Master asked in turn, sounding ever so offended.

“Not at all” the President answered to his surprise, which just added to his suspicions about him. He knew if the tables were turned he would want his alternate self gone as soon as possible. But perhaps he was just saying these things and didn't actually mean them. He could also see himself doing the same.

“You may stay with me," the President said. "I have more than enough room." He was wearing the same grin as before, one the Master knew too well was not to be trusted. He began to walk off before turning to him. “Oh, one thing before we go.” He threw a finger at the Master. “I know how you think, because I would be thinking the same thing, but don't you even think about trying to take my throne.” His lips curled upward, from a serious smirk to an almost cheshire grin. “Shall we go?”

“Oh, wouldn't dream of it.” The same grin crept across the Masters’ face. He would go along with it. After all, it could be fun to outwit himself.

*****

Over the next few days the Master was enjoying himself more and more. Despite what he said about not wanting him to try to take over, the President had made it clear to everyone that he was to be respected and listened to. He, of course, didn't have the right to go over his own head but he still had as much power over everyone else.

The President spent those next few days taking the Master along with him, showing him how everything worked and what he did. He even took him to certain meetings with him. While he still couldn't pinpoint just what was off about this version of himself, he wasn't going to complain. After all, the President was just making his job that much easier.

*****

That night the two of them sat in what one may call a living room, drinking some wine the President had had to procure from what was now a dead asteroid, once referred to as KS-159. The room had a very nice gothic feel to it, but the fact that everything was in black made it hard to tell where one thing started and another ended.

They had been talking about some the differences between the two universes. The Master was more than happy to know where the Time War had gone wrong and learn ways he could stop it in his own world. He could set himself up as President there... if it was even worth the trouble. Obviously, a full universe would be better than a half.

The Present stood up, placing his half-full drink on a table. “I'm going to sleep," he announced. "I have a meeting in the morning.”

As he began to walk out of the room the Master called for him. “Oh, don't be silly. You have your TARDIS! surely you can stay up a bit longer. Your meeting isn't going anywhere."

And this is when he did it again. A flicker of something the Master was unfamiliar with, a feeling that made him feel ill. “I'm tired now,” he said before turning around and leaving the Master alone.

The Master glared at the door before taking another sip. He peered out the window, deciding he would like to take another look at this odd sky. He stood up, his foot found the corner of the table. A loud thud as his small toe began to throb. He reached down hoping to sooth the pain by applying pressure to it.

There were no two ways about it. After he got rid of the current President, he would have to redecorate. A smile came across his face. His mind was made up; he knew what he must do. The next day he would accmpaly the President to this meeting and begin his takeover.

*****

When he got up the next day, he found it was much later than he had expected. He calculated the amount of time it would take to get ready and make it to the meeting. After calculating he would only be about five minutes late he decided it wouldn't be worth retrieving his TARDIS that he had now parked in the garden, discussed as one of the bushes.

As he made it in to the meeting he tried to be quiet, though it had already started. Everyone stood up as he entered the room. “Oh, it's only you,” a man at the end of the table said before everyone sat back down.

Puzzled, the Master looked around the room and realized that everyone was there—everyone except for him. Once again, he felt that something wasn't right. He didn't waste his time asking any questions, not from this lot anyway. He found himself running down the corridor to the President's office. It too was empty of the President Master. Before he could turn to leave, though, a bunch of papers on his desk caught his eyes.

He rushed over, first expecting the worst case scenario, then seeing it. It was a notarized booklet handing over the presidency to him if the current President was not back by sunfall. The time, of course, was irrelevant but another thought crossed his mind. He grabbed the papers and made his way to the garden.

*****

As he ran around a corner, remembering exactly where he'd left his TARDIS, a hedge in the shape of a gargoyle began to dematerialize in front of him. “Oh, I don't think so!” he said as he ran toward it, pulling out a silver tool from his pocket and aiming it at the hedge until it began to manifest once more.

As he swung open the doors to his TARDIS he was greeted by his other self. “What are you doing?” the President hissed at him, watching him from the other side of the console.

“What am I doing?” the Master said, appalled. He held the papers up over his head. “What are you doing?”

“What's the problem?” he said, paying more attention to the console than to the Master. “Don't tell me you haven't been thinking about that since the second you got here. I know you have, because that's exactly what I would have done. Just take the universe and be happy.”

“Not until you answer me.” The Master began to follow him around, resetting controls and undoing everything the other man had done. “Why go through all that trouble if you didn't want it? Or would give it up that easily?”

"Because I didn't want it!" he barked. "I didn't want any of this. This wasn't my plan.” He began to make his way around even faster, redoing everything the Master had undone. “This was all his doing. He was the one who messed things up. He was supposed to be President. I even tried to help him when he lost popularity, but apparently that was all a part of his plan. He was the one who sent the robots to set it up so I would win.”

The Master had grown tired of this game they were playing. “So why would I want this if it's not even what you want?”

“Because I don't care! I just want out," the President said. "He had no right to do that. He had no right to put my TARDIS outside the safe zone before he left and he had no right to use me to get away and leave me here alone.” He did his best to keep up with the Master, but every time he thought he had made progress in getting out, the Master had already undone most of his work.

“So why didn't you just ask me to take you with me?” The Master finally stopped what he was doing. He could see the door from where he was standing and determined that would be the best spot for him.

“Because someone has to stay here," he argued. "Do you have any idea how stupid these people are, how fragile everything is? It's all hanging by a thread.”

As the President spoke those words, it made less sense to the Master. What did he care if they lived? He cursed the Doctor in his head. This was his work; it had to have been. “Yes, well," the Master said finally, "it's not going to be me.” He had a grin on his face, one that told the President he thought he had already won.

“What are you doing,” he asked in a panic, until he realized that the Master had just opened the TARDIS doors. He began to laugh. “We are only about fifty feet off the ground! Opening the doors isn't going to suck me out.”

"No," the Master said. His smirk didn't change. "But if I change the center of gravity of the room—”

With that, the room appeared to turn, causing the President to fall toward the door. His fingers scrabbled for purchase and found the door frame. The Master also let himself fall but with more precision, landing next to the door so he was now looking down at his other self.

The President tried to swing his other arm up. “You can't do this to me!” he hissed at the Master.

A wicked grin crawled along his face. “Oh, but it appears I already have.”

“You're going to kill me?” the President said, his anger now becoming fear.

The Master looked past him. “Oh, you know it's really not that far up.” The TARDIS was now hovering slightly above the garden. “You're a Time Lord. As long as you fall the right way, you'll be fine.”

“Please!” he begged. “You don't understand I can't stay here. You have to take me with you!”

“Oh?" the Master began mockingly. "And what about all the people that have to be taken care of, hm? Did you forget about them?”

“You don't understand! I'm so lonely. I have no one. No Time Lords, no Doctor. There is literally no one I can talk to. The world is full of idiots.”

“Oh, but you had no problem condemning me to that just a few minutes ago,” he said, not hiding his bitterness toward his other self. “Given another chance, I'm willing to bet you would do the same thing in a heartbeat”

“Of courses I would. My only concern is for who I currently am," he said coldly. "But we can both get out of here. I couldn't care less about the lot of them. They can rot, for all I care.”

“What was that?” The Master raised a hand behind over his ear as he bent over ever so slightly.

The President's face contorted. “They can all rot for all I care!”

With his hand over his ear still, the Master called out again. “No, the other bit."

The Presedent's eyes grew huge with terror. “No!” he shouted. “You can't do this to me. It would be like killing yourself!”

“You know, you're right," he admitted. "I don't think I could have worded it better myself. The only person I care about is who I am right now.” And in rapid succession his heel thrust down upon both of the President's hands, forcing him to let go and plummet from the TARDIS to the courtyard below. The Master looked over the edge to watch him. He laid on the ground for a few minutes before standing up. With that, the Master waved his arm with the metal rod in it. “Later!”

With a wave of his screwdriver the center of gravity went back to normal, sending him backward along to the floor at the same time the doors shut. “Aw,” he said as he pulled himself off the ground. “I should have thought that through.”

He went over to the controls, moving some levers and hitting some buttons that were around a small glowing blue gem. “No, this place will not do,” he said under his breath. And for a moment he considerded what this version of him had been going through.

The Master did not look up as he did this. If he did, he would have noticed, for a fraction of a second, the same look on his own face that he kept seeing on the other Master's face: the same one that had angered him so much, painted on his own.

The TARDIS disappeared from the sky as the gem begin to spin, taking him to another unknown universe.