“The Doctor is no longer here!” the Doctor is saying as Missy’s Vortex Manipulator delivers her to the Trap Street. “You are stuck with me! And I will end you, and everything you love!” His self-important eyebrows are in attack mode, and he’s advancing on one of the not-Clara humans, as his little pet calls for him to stop, her hand pressed to the chronolock on the back of her neck.
“Ah, I’m right on time, I see,” Missy says mildly, drawing attention to herself.
She saunters into the room, Vortex energy still crackling around her, and watches in satisfaction as all eyes turn to her, each face bearing various shades of shock and confusion.
“Was this you?!” the Doctor thunders, coming at her like he’s trying to be the physical embodiment of that old cliche of his, the Oncoming Storm. “Missy, if you did this—”
“Of course I didn’t do this!” she tells him honestly, voice full of mock indignation. “Does this even seem like my style, darling? You know me better than that,” she chides, patting his cheek fondly.
“How are you alive?” the Doctor’s pet asks, and oh, she’s coming along so nicely, grown so much from the unmoulded potential Missy had first discovered. Minutes away from death, and the puppy is more interested in what Missy’s up to than in her own mortality.
It would be such a shame to waste all that growth now.
“We left you on Skaro,” Clara presses, demanding an answer.
“Boring,” Missy declares, drawing out the word dramatically. “Yes, as you can see, still not dead, escaped quite cleverly, whatever, moving on. Do you know what’s not boring?” she asks, turning to the Doctor and pulling a slim control panel from her pocket. She answers herself, not giving him time to speak, “Fixing your timeline when Rassilon specifically told me not to do!” She grins at him gleefully, manically. She’s half-certain that somewhere, somewhen, the poncy President of Gallifrey is watching all this happen, enraged and powerless to stop her.
The clever thing she needs to do has to happen outside, and that countdown on Clara’s neck hasn’t actually stopped yet, so Missy turns to go see to it. But the Doctor stops her with a hand on her arm, eyebrows attempting to cover confusion and fear with rage.
“What the hell are you talking about, Rassilon?” he demands.
Missy rolls her eyes. “Dearest, did you even stop to take a look at that lovely piece of jewelry you’ve acquired?” she asks, nodding at the metal cuff attached over the sleeve of his jacket. “I know you’re worried about your pet, but honestly, Doctor, a little deductive reasoning goes a long way in times of stress. That bauble’s got Time Lord Bullshit written all over it.”
He glances down at it as if seeing it for the first time, as from behind him the puppy asks, “What was that about fixing the timeline?”
“You’re moments away from an agonising death, dear,” Missy tells her condescendingly. “I’ve seen that future, and as far as I’m concerned, Rassilon can go—” The TARDIS elects not to translate the long string of profane Gallifreyan that Missy enunciates perfectly, but the Doctor understands well enough. He stares at her in disbelief.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she says, voice gone high with hurt. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the two of you stay together, and alive, and you know how I get when my long-term schemes are interrupted. Now if you don’t mind, we’re on a bit of a schedule here!” Missy tugs her arm from the Doctor’s grasp and sweeps out into the alleyway outside.
The Doctor follows her out, calling her name, and his strange little collection of humans trails after him. Clara is the only one of any consequence, of course, and she’d happily kill the rest of them if it meant saving her little science experiment. But that would lead to a row with the Doctor, something they simply do not have the time for, so Missy is grudgingly grateful that the only one who needs removed from existence today is the damned bird.
“Ah, here we are,” she says, spotting the caged raven a little further down the street. The thing disguised as a bird shifts nervously on its perch as though it knows that she’s come for it. And perhaps it does, poor murderous dear.
“It’s a quantum shade, Missy,” the Doctor says testily. “You can’t kill it, you can’t stop it— This is a waste of time!”
“Are you really giving up that easily?” she asks, turning back to him. She clucks her tongue at him in disapproval. “I thought I’d trained you better than that, after all these centuries chasing me around.”
He steps in close, glaring at her down his nose from only inches away. “You are costing me these last minutes with Clara,” he growls at a volume meant for Missy alone. “And giving her false hope. I thought I had seen every form of cruelty possible from you, but this really sets a new standard. Get the hell out of here before I change my mind about letting you go.”
“Oh, hush,” she tells him impatiently, rolling her eyes at his melodrama. “I’m going to need that, if you don’t mind,” she says, reaching for the teleport bracelet on his wrist.
The Doctor looks at her with disbelief and confusion as he tries to pull his arm from her grasp. She holds firm, wrestling him around until she has a clear view of the metal cuff.
Behind him, the shorter non-Clara — the immortal girl whose selfish idiocy started all this, Missy knows — raises her hands in warning. “Don’t tamper with that! It has built-in safeguards against any attempt to alter it. You can’t remove it.”
“You can if you’re clever enough to have hacked into the Matrix on Gallifrey and stolen the authorization codes!” Missy replies gleefully. Holding tight to the Doctor’s arm, she raises her sonic control panel towards the teleport cuff and sets to quickly releasing the locked clasp.
“What are you doing?” the Doctor demands, suspicious but at least not trying to stop her. The bracelet comes open with a pop and she catches it with her free hand. Another quick scan with the control panel wipes the destination information, clear and ready to be used again. She balances it awkwardly on top of the control panel, and uses her other hand to search through her pockets for the last piece she needs.
“Missy—” he starts up again, but she cuts him off.
“Shush, Doctor, and let me work,” she says, still rifling through the contents of her pockets. Bigger on the inside sometimes has its downsides.
The puppy calls the Doctor back to her side and he goes willingly, quietly, and ah, it’s like watching astrophysics in action, the way his orbit is nudged by Clara’s, like a binary star system, stabilised and thrown off track all at once. It’s gorgeous.
Missy finally finds what she’s looking for, pulling the stasis cube from her pocket with a flourish, but turns to find Clara and the Doctor absorbed in their own little world, utterly unaware of her astounding cleverness. Behind her, the quantum shade shifts against its perch and caws, and Missy knows they’re getting close to the moment when she’ll need to intervene.
Her little science experiment throws her tiny arms around the Doctor’s shoulders and pulls him into one of the most emotionally-fraught embraces Missy has ever seen. “Everything you’re about to say, I already know,” she says into his neck, her eyes positively inflating with tears. “Don’t do it now. We’ve already had enough bad timing.”
And oh, the places they’re going to go from here, once Missy fixes this cosmic mistake, the Doctor and the dwarf star Missy threw into his orbit. The path they’ll cut through spacetime will be beautiful and destructive, spurred to even greater heights by this near death experience. She cannot wait to see it in action.
“Don’t run, stay with me,” the Doctor says to Clara, and Missy bites back a sigh for no other reason than because they do not have enough time for him to yell at her again.
“How about no one runs, and I save the day instead?” Miss says loudly, breaking into their soppy shared moment. She needs them tangled together, to be sure, but she shouldn’t have to witness this sort of nauseating intimacy up close.
“You,” Clara says, breaking away from the Doctor and advancing a few steps towards her. Her eyes are still red but her spine is straight, and Missy wants to coo at her and pet her pretty hair for how well her development is coming along. “Whatever you’re up to better be good. Don’t you dare make this any harder on him than it has to be.”
“You’re both going to be really embarrassed when I pull this off flawlessly,” Missy sniffs. It’s a little awkward juggling all three objects in two hands, but she manages to reset the teleport bracelet, linking it with the stasis cube. “Now poppet, just stand here behind me and don’t get in my way.” She turns her back on the puppy and the Doctor and the unimportant humans, and fixes her gaze on the quantum shade.
The mental alarm she’d set when she arrived ticks down to zero, and the raven in front of her dissolves into smoke, only to reemerge a moment later, outside its cage. It glides towards them, angling itself directly at Clara, but Missy steps into its path, pointing her control panel at it.
“In you go,” she says as she hits the activation button, and with a quick blink of light, the quantum shade disappears from view. She pockets the controller and the teleporter and turns back to the Doctor and his pet.
“See?” she says, tossing the stasis cube into the air like a ball. Beneath the crystalline surface, the dark shape of the raven is just barely visible. “Frozen in a moment, tucked away, and not budging from here so long as I want it that way.” She smiles at the Doctor smugly as he gapes at her. “I thought it an elegant solution, given Gallifrey’s part in all this.”
“But the numbers— she’s still got the tattoo, Doctor! It’s all zeros, now,” says the taller of the couldn’t-possibly-matter-less humans.
The Doctor rushes to check for himself, and Missy rolls her eyes at his predictability. Stabilised orbit indeed.
“Yes, as I said: frozen,” Missy drawls. “Can’t hurt you, but isn’t going away. I’m afraid the tattoo’s permanent, poppet,” she tells Clara, frowning at her theatrically.
“But... that’s it?” her precious little dwarf star says, turning to look up at the Doctor before cutting her gaze back to Missy. “She really fixed it?”
“What’s the catch?” he asks Missy, voice gone cold and threatening. “Should we be expecting Reapers any minute now? Is the Web of Time going to unravel around us?”
“Don’t insult me,” she says, crossing toward him to poke a red-nailed finger right between his hearts. “I know what I’m doing. Time will heal itself, it always does.”
“Seriously?” the puppy says, less appreciative than Missy would like. “You just swoop in here and save the day? I’m with the Doctor: what’s the catch?”
“One teeny, tiny catch. I’m keeping this,” she says, holding up the stasis cube before tucking it away in her pocket. “As long as the quantum shade is trapped in there, you’re safe, so maybe be a teensy bit grateful, and try not to get on my bad side, hmm?”
“So it’s all about blackmail, then,” the Doctor says. “Hold the threat of Clara’s death over my head.”
“It’s about investment, you daft biscuit!” Missy retorts. “If you think about it you’ll realise I’ve always had the power to kill your little pet whenever I want to do. A quantum shade in my pocket doesn’t change that. Now go on,” she says, shooing them back toward the door they’d left open behind them, “you have your own messes to clean up. This one,” she points to the shorter of the not-Clara humans, “sold you out to the Time Lords for security for her little model neighbourhood here, so you might want to deal with that.”
He turns his threatening gaze on the small not-Clara, and the little thing actually backs up a step, hands raised in front of her. “Doctor,” she says, pleading.
Oh, the places they’ll go!
“Well,” Missy heaves a sigh. She knows befuddled acceptance is the best she’s going to get out of her favourite frenemy and his little dwarf star right now, which means it’s time to make her exit. “This was fun! Let’s do it again never. Keep an eye on that investment of mine, darling,” she adds, then blows the Doctor a kiss, and hits the buttons on her Vortex Manipulator to take her away from the Trap Street and into a future of her own creation.
She flips off Rassilon as she goes, just in case the bastard is watching.