The Doctor had promised you a trip back in time to see Howard Carter uncovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. But as usual, the Tardis had other ideas and had materialized inside the National Gallery in London in 2019. You had all decided to make the best of it and explore the gallery. Besides as the Doctor had figured, something must have caused the Tardis to land there, so you might as well find out what. The five of you had split up and had gone your separate ways to speed up the search. Well, the others were searching you found yourself distracted by the paintings, you couldn’t help yourself. As you reached your third gallery you saw a sign saying Russia through the ages, from the 1700s to the 1900s.
Ryan was a few meters behind you as he had also gotten distracted by a cute gallery assistant. The two of you had originally been with the Doctor, but she’s gotten maudlin when she saw Van Gough’s Sunflowers and two of you had found yourselves accidentally separated from her as a group of tourists flooded the gallery. The last you had seen her she had been muttering something about someone called Amy.
As you entered the gallery your eyes fell on a large painting in the centre of the room. The sight of it made your mouth run dry.
“That’s impossible.” You said walking towards it.
There in oils was the Master. Sure, he was clean-shaven, wearing glasses and dressed in 18th-century clothing but you knew that face anywhere. It had burned itself into your mind for all eternity. Next to him was a woman dressed in a purple 18th-century dress, you knew her anywhere too because you saw that face every single day…in the mirror looking back at you.
You raced over to the plaque next to it which read, ‘Count Orlo and Companion. Dated 1762, Artist unknown. This is the only known painting of Count Orlo, one of Catherine the Great’s chief advisers. He is accompanied by a woman known only as Y/N.’ You backed away to get a better look and you hoped this time you wouldn’t see yourself with your hand on the Master's shoulder.
“It’s very striking isn’t it said a cheery voice from behind you. I think they love each other very much.” Her words felt like a punch to the stomach. The Master and love, you refused to believe he could ever have such feelings for you. “You can see it in the eyes and the way she has her hand on his chest.”
You turned to see a woman with a lanyard looking at you smiling, however, you did not return the smile.
“Do you work here?”
The woman lifted her pink National Gallery lanyard and jiggled it. “Guilty as charged.”
“What do you know about this painting?” You tried to keep your voice calm.
“Ah, not that much sadly. It was bequeathed to the museum by an unknown benefactor many years ago. His only request was that the painting should be hung here on this date. We agreed as it gave us the excuse to arrange this exhibition and get our hands-on paintings, we had only dreamed of seeing hanging on these walls.” She clasped her hands together like a small child excited for Christmas.
“The Master.” You muttered to yourself.
“I’m sorry the who?” The woman paused for a moment when you did’nt answer her. “You know if I didn’t know any better, I would say you were her.”
“What?” You were alarmed that she had noticed the resemblance. You didn’t want to believe it was you in the portrait, it couldn’t be.
The woman pointed to the painting. “Your likeness to the young woman is remarkable. She’s not a relative is she.”
“What do you know about this Count Orlo?” You asked swiftly changing the subject.
“Very little I’m afraid. It’s almost like someone has tried to wipe him from the history books.”
“What you look…” Ryan’s voice stopped midsentence. “Oh my god!”
You turned to face Ryan who was stood slack-jawed at the painting, “Is that who I think it is?”
The woman looked at you both strangely. “Are you both alright.”
“Ryan get the Doctor.” Then you turned to the woman. “I’m…with the art squad, I have a colleague who will have a few questions for you.” The words were out of your mouth before your brain had even engaged.
“Oh, not again.” she sighed, “We had a visit from your lot last week.”
After what felt like a lifetime of small talk, the Doctor and Ryan finally appeared in the doorway. You saw her face as she walked towards you, a mixture of fear and anger. “DI Smith!” you called out. “I told Doreen here that you would have some questions for her regarding the painting and the art fraud we’re investigating.”
“Art fraud… right. Yes. Art fraud that's me.” The Doctor pulled out the psychic paper and plastering on a happy smile, “here’s my ID.” she waved it quickly in the woman’s face as she started scanning the painting with the screwdriver.
The Doctor turned to you, Nothing. Then she scanned you, still nothing.
“How long have you had this painting?” The Doctor asked Doreen.
“As I told your colleague it’s been in our collection for 50 years. Gifted to us by an unknown benefactor.”
“Who’s only request was it be displayed here on this date.” You added.
You could tell from the way the Doctor grimaced, she did not like that news one little bit.
“What are you up to?” the Doctor asked the painting. But the painting didn’t respond, but you could have sworn the Count's smile looked more like a smirk the more you looked at it.
“You haven’t seen any odd-looking men round here, beard, messy black hair, love of purple. Looking a bit like him.” The Doctor pointed at the painting.
“No, I'm afraid not.” Doreen looked at the two of you bemused. “You’re welcome to look at the CCTV though. What may I ask is all this about? All of you are reacting very strangely to a simple picture and if you ask…”
“Banksy!” You blurted out.
Both the Doctor and the woman looked at you confused. “Bansky?” The Doctor mouthed.
“Yes, the Doc…erm DI Smith will explain everything. Won't you boss.”
The Doctor was bemused by your outburst. You gave her a sympathetic shrug and mouthed sorry, I panicked.
“Would you show me the way, only I have a few more questions for you.”
“Of course, DI Smith. We’re always more than happy to assist the art squad.”
“Banksy?” Ryan laughed as Graham and Yaz entered the gallery.
“I wasn't thinking. It just came out. Besides what was I supposed to say.” You folded your arms defensively.
“What’s this Ryan's been saying about…oh my god!” Yaz yelled out.
“What the hell!” Was Graham’s reaction.
You rubbed the top of your left arm self-consciously.
“So that’s why the Tardis brought us here.” Yaz read the plaque. “That’s you, how can that be you? And with him.” Yaz wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“After everything, we’ve been through and that’s your priority!” Ryan teased her.
“No, I don’t mean that, I mean how would the Master convince Y/N to pose for that. She’d never agree would you.”
“No, of course not!” you shook your head.
You saw Graham glance at you, there was something about the look on his face.
“Maybe you two should check the other galleries, make sure the Master isn’t in any others,” Graham said. “After all this is a big exhibition this one. Who knows what that git is up to.”
“Good idea Graham,” Yaz replied. “Come on Ryan.” She tapped his arm and motioned to the next gallery.
you sat down in front of the painting staring at it and pulled out your phone. Graham sat down next to you.
“What about you, Y/N”
“I’ll stay with her Yaz,” Graham answered.
“Okay.” And with that Yaz and Ryan headed towards the next room.
“What and protect me from the big bad Master?”
Graham raised his fists and did a mock impression of a boxer. “I used to box, give him the old soft shoe shuffle and he’ll be down in 10.”
You couldn't help laughing at that and you realized that was Graham’s plan all along. He put an arm around you.
“It’ll all be okay; the Doctor will make sure of it.”
You smiled but it never quite reached your eyes as you couldn’t share Graham’s confidence in the time lord.
“He’s up to something. I know it. The clues right there in that painting but I'm dammed if I can see it, Graham.”
“Then maybe you should give yourself a break, let the Doc figure it out. Which she will.”
“Well, Google’s not much help. No one seems to know anything about either the painting or this Count Orlo. It’s like they just appeared out of thin air, which was entirely possible.”
You downloaded a high-resolution version of the image and started enlarging sections, looking for anything that could be a clue. Your eyes fell on a silver pocket watch in the Master’s hand, engraved with odd symbols. The kind you had seen in the Tardis and on Galifrey. You looked at his waistcoat and saw he had a watch chain on. But it wasn’t connected to the pocket watch in his hand.
“Why would you have two pocket watches?” You asked Graham.
“You’ve lost me, love.”
“Look at the painting. He has a pocket watch in his hand and another in his pocket. Why would you have two? No one needs two.”
“Maybe it’s his not so subtle way of telling us he’s a time lord. He’s the kind of flash git who would think he’s being funny.”
“It means something Graham, I know it.”
“It’s okay to be scared you know.”
You looked at Graham unsure of what he meant.
“No matter what The Master is up to, the Doc and I aren't going to let anything bad happen to you. Neither will Ryan and Yaz.”
“That’s not what I'm scared of.” You paused, unsure if you should say what you were thinking.
“What do you mean?” Graham pressed.
“I’m by his side, smiling. See.”
“You think he might brainwash you or something.”
“No, I think I might be at his side willingly. What if I'm a bad person Graham?”
“I don’t believe in good and evil.”
“Even after everything you’ve been through with the Doctor.”
“Especially after everything I've been through.”
“What matters are the choices you make. That’s what defines a person.” Graham paused before continuing. “You’re attracted to him aren’t you.”
“It’s just you and me girl. I ain’t gonna tell the Doc or the others. However, I saw it. Back in Australia with O. And the way you looked at him back in that warehouse when those Kassavin things took him. And Ryan told me about what happened at the Boundary, how you went after him.”
“Go on laugh at me, call me an idiot.”
“You know I'd never do that. Sometimes in life, you can’t help who you fall for. Even if they are crazed nutters from out of space with god complexes.”
“You know when he was O, for a moment…just a moment, I considered giving up the Doctor for him.”
“Blimey now, that must be love. I've seen the way you look at the Tardis. It’s how Ryan looks at a Lamborghini.”
You laughed and Graham hugged you.
Suddenly the walls flickered as though someone was adjusting the picture on an old fashioned tv set.
“Graham, did you see that?”
“Yes, I did.”
The two of you pulled back from each other.
“Think this could be a trap?” Graham said.
You stood up, “Wrong question. Check the seat.” you replied.
“The Master, it’s what he said that day on the plane remember. When you asked him, who was flying if Barton wasn't on board. That’s what he does misdirection. Makes you ask the wrong question. Makes you look in the wrong direction.”
You jumped up and started scanning the room frantically, but nothing. Everything was the same.
“What am I missing Graham!” You yelled in frustration.
Graham could tell the portrait had put you on edge and placed a hand on your shoulder, “Come on let's find the Doc. She’ll get to the bottom of all this. Knowing her she’s probably solved the mystery already.”
As you went to follow Graham out, you heard a tapping sound. A sound you'd heard somewhere before, but you couldn't place it. It reminded you of Morse code. You closed your eyes as you tried to remember where you'd heard it. That was the moment you heard a voice in your mind.
"Come on love, you can do it." You felt your heart stop.
"Master!" And there it was, the memory you'd repressed, those big brown puppy dog eyes as he handed over the cup of tea. The rhythm he tapped subconsciously on the kitchen table in the outback as he started to drive a wedge between you and the Doctor.
“What do you want!?”
“Is that any way to greet an old friend?”
“You snorted at that.” Anger and fear mixing with lust.
“I need help, specifically your help.”
“What makes you think I'd help you? You tried to kill me remember or have you forgotten?”
“I've always regretted that you know.”
“Sure, you do.”
“I'll admit it I like you. You’re the smart one. You asked all the right questions back in the Australia. At one point I was certain you were about to unmask me. I'll admit it, you got under my skin. I figured if I left you on the plane, I'd get you out of my system.”
“Don't tell me, it didn't work.” You said sarcastically.
“It might have if I hadn't had over seventy years stuck on this miserable planet to think about you.”
You felt the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
“All those times I was so close, and you never even noticed I was there, watching you. I came to realize we're a lot alike, you and I.”
“We are nothing alike.”
“Always so cynical Y/N.”
“I don't remember giving you permission to be in my head.”
“No, but you gave me permission to be in your heart.” He altered his tone as he spoke, so he sounded like O, all meek and mild-mannered.
You turned and there he was in the doorway, fixing you with his sweetest, most innocent smile and for a second there was O again, the adorable, shy geek and in no way a genocidal Time Lord in disguise. You tried to fight the panic that was now rising in your chest.
“I remember the way you looked at me back at Barton's party. I do wonder what would have happened if the others hadn't been there. Would you have ripped that tuxedo off my body and had your wicked way with me there and then in the Tardis or were you waiting for the right moment to push me into one of the bedrooms in Barton's mansion?” His voice was low and sultry.
You couldn’t look him in the eye as he spoke. You felt the blush creeping across your cheeks.
The Master walked over to you, grinning. He tilted your chin, so you had to look at him.
“No point in trying to hide it. I'm in your mind, I can see it, I can feel it. All those things you're trying so hard not to think about.”
The Master raised an eyebrow as he found your fantasy of him tying you to his bed and fucking you senseless.
“Ooh, kinky.” He teased. “Never realized you were into THAT! And to think the Doctor thinks you’re so sweet and adorable, that butter wouldn't melt in your mouth.” He was now inches from your ear. “Imagine if she found out you wanted me to do that to you.”
The Master mock gasped as your mind betrayed you with another fantasy. This time of him taking you on the Tardis console.
“Maybe I should recreate that one for you…even better yet, time it so the Doctor walks in on us. I know you'd like that.” he purred. “To have her find me buried deep inside of you. Her best enemy fucking one of her beloved pets, I know you’ve thought about it.”
His fingers lightly brushed against your jaw. You tried to hide your arousal, but it was no good. Your body was betraying you. He was like a computer virus, inside every system. Your memories, emotions, even your perception of touch. Everything your mind controlled the Master could see and read like a book. His lips were now so close to yours.
“Just tell me what it is you want?” You tried to stay calm.
The Master grinned. “Say my name. You know you want to.”
You took a deep breath and for a moment you considered your options, but deep down you knew you had only one.
“Just tell me what it is you want…Master?”
“Oooh, I do love it when you say my name. Especially when you scream it aloud.”
Your eyes went wide as you realized he was seeing those memories of your nights alone in your room. You couldn't stop him; that was when you had an idea if he was in your mind... Suddenly you saw him alone, curled up in the darkness of the console room in his Tardis. His eyes were red rimmed from tears. Suddenly you felt his hand at your throat as he shoved you into the painting of Count Orlo.
“Don't…” he growled.
You clawed at his fingers however he didn't tighten his grip. You could feel his anger rippling through him, but he was trying to stay in control. You saw the look in his eyes. Those chocolate brown eyes, the kind of eyes a girl could happily drown in. Nevertheless, you couldn't quite read them.
Suddenly the air felt like someone was charging an electric current through them. The Master turned slightly, like a predator listening for something. Then he turned back to you.
“I don't have much time. They're coming for me. When the Tardis enters the time vortex after taking off there will be an explosion.”
“Why would you do…”
You felt him put pressure on your throat, not enough to hurt you but just enough to make you stop talking.
“It isn't me…this time. The Stakan are after me, long story. No time. They are going to use the Doctor to try and find me. But they screw up and their tracking device affects the Tardis. The outer shell will be damaged. You will be sucked out into the time vortex. You will die…” The Master paused for a moment, but you weren't sure why, was he worried about you? “Unless you use the device I've put in your pocket.” He quickly added.
Before you could speak the Master answered your questions for you. “How do I know all this? Because you've already told me, in the future.”
“What about the Doctor and the fam?”
“As always they'll be fine. More lives than a cat those four.”
“What happens if I use the device?”
“You'll end up in Russia in the 1700s. why? because there's someone there I need you to keep safe from harm. Don't worry, it's only for a few months. I'll come back and rescue you when the time is right.”
“Who do you want me to protect?”
“You'll find out soon enough.” He grinned.
“Why aren't you protecting them if they're that special to you.”
“Because if the Stakan find me they will kill me and then we'll both be dead. I need to stay off the grid for a while.”
“How do you know I will do what you're asking me too? Why not ask the Doctor?”
The Master laughed, “You really think the patron saint of Galifrey will help me?” You saw his eyes darken for a moment. Then he pushed himself up against you, trapping you between his body and the painting as he whispered into your ear. You scrunched up your eyes and tried not to imagine how it would feel to have him lying on top of you like this in his bed.
“Because you already have, look at the painting. I'm your future, you're my past. Events are already in motion.”
With that, the Master disappeared.
“You alright?” Graham asked concerned as he waved a hand in front of your face. “You tuned out on me for a moment then. Gave me a right scare.”
You nodded as you realized you weren't standing in front of the painting; you were stood with in the middle of the gallery. Yet you hadn't moved. That was the moment you knew your conversation with the Master had all been in your head. You hoped you hadn’t said anything out loud that Graham could have heard. For a moment you swore you could hear the bastard laughing in the distance at your embarrassment.
You put your hand in your pocket and you suddenly remembered. The man in the black coat and glasses…with the silk purple scarf… who bumped into you on the stairs as you walked towards the central hall.
You put your hand in your pocket and gingerly felt the device, you realized what it was…the TCE. Why would the Master give you that? You wondered.
Suddenly the room flickered again, and three figures appeared. They resembled blue glass figurines, shimmering in the light.
One waved a hand in the direction of you and Graham, in its hand was a smooth golden disc. “Artron energy…one heart, wrong species.” You and Graham looked at each other. Then just like that, they were gone.
“You don’t think he’s teamed up with whatever they were do you?”
“Where the Master’s concerned Graham I don’t think we should ever assume anything.”
“Let's tell the Doc about this.”
The two of you rushed out of the gallery to find the Doctor, but as you did so you couldn’t help but linger in the doorway for a second or two as you looked at the painting. “I'm your future, you're my past. Events are already in motion…” his words echoing in your mind.
You reached the central hall and saw the Doctor with the creatures.
“Artron energy, two hearts…correct species…wrong entity.”
“Doc!” Graham called out
“I’m alright.” She replied, her eyes never leaving the glass figures.
“What do you mean the wrong entity?” She asked scanning the creatures.
“You are not the being known as The Master.” They said flatly.
“Where is the Time Lord known as The Master?” They asked.
The Doctor shrugged, “Don’t have a clue. Last time I saw him he was getting blown up. Then again which version of them are you after because there’s been a few.”
The figures looked at each other before teleporting out of there.
Ryan and Yaz arrived. “Doc you aren't going to believe this!” Ryan called out.
“Let me guess you saw three blue glass figures,” Graham replied before the Doctor could.
“Yeah, how’d you know.”
“We saw them too.” You added
The Doctor looked at all four of you. “Right you lot, Tardis now!”
“Where are we going Doc?”
“Russia, 1700's. If I'm right either The Master is there, or the next piece of the puzzle is. Either way, we’ll get some answers to all this.”
“Did you find anything in the CCTV footage. Ryan asked. The Doctor looked straight at you, which you had to admit unnerved you somewhat. “No.”
You knew she was lying. She had seen something. Maybe she had seen the moment earlier on the stairs. Maybe she had realized what you hadn't at the time. The four of you piled into the Tardis. But you hung back slightly away from the console and the Doctor. A sense of guilt washing over you as your fingers brushed the TCE.
“Right Fam, here we go.” The Doctor dramatically pulled down the lever on the console.
The Tardis engines started to whir into life and the gallery faded away, replaced by the time vortex.
You replayed the Master’s words over in your mind, “Their tracking device affects the Tardis. The outer shell will be damaged. You will be sucked out into the time vortex. You will die…”
Maybe you should tell her you wondered.
Unfortunately, before your lips could part the Tardis imploded around you, just like the Master had said it would. Sparks flew from all sides causing you to stagger backwards as you flung your arms up to protect your face. The next thing you knew there was an almighty cracking sound as if someone were smashing glass. Then the Tardis outer shell cracked, and the doors burst open. You could feel the ice-cold suction of the time vortex pulling you from the safety of the ship.
“Y/N!” you heard Graham and the Doctor scream in unison as they clung to the console.
Graham reached out a hand in desperation, but his fingers couldn't quite reach you. Then you felt yourself falling backwards and the Tardis fell away from you. You tried to pull the TCE out of your pocket but it got stuck on the fabric of the pocket lining, you could feel yourself starting to struggle to breathe and it took all the strength you had left to yank it free of the fabric and push the button. The next thing you knew you were hitting the ground, hard and there was pain, lots of pain.
After what felt like an age you finally picked yourself up and found you were in a corridor of some kind and it was now night. You stumbled forward towards the window as you tried to get your bearings. Wherever you were they had no outdoor lighting and what you could make out looked like a fancy mansion or something. Then you remembered the Master's words. Russia 1700's.
You turned around at the sound of footsteps and found yourself starting to grow dizzy. You cursed the Master and found yourself bitterly regretting not telling the Doctor everything before letting her take off. This was a trap you could feel it and you had stupidly allowed him to push you face-first into it. A man walked around the corridor with black hair and glasses. You could tell from his body language; he was upset about something. That was when he looked up and saw you stood in front of the window. He let out a gasp as he took in your outfit. You couldn't quite make out the face until he got closer.
You have got to be kidding me. You murmured, but he didn't hear you. He was too busy jumping at seeing you standing there. You felt your legs start to go wobbly.
“Madam you cannot go running around court dressed like that. It is indecent. I mean far be it from me to judge a lady’s sartorial choices, but that dress is…”
“Master?” You tried not to hyperventilate but you really weren't feeling well, and he was dressed exactly how he was in the portrait. In a fancy silver frock coat and matching waistcoat. It was unnerving, it was as if the painting had come to life right before your eyes.
“No, my name is Count Orlo.” The man furrowed his brow in confusion.
“Orlo…O…” You tried to laugh, but you found your voice trailed off as your vision started to blur at the edges and your fingers instinctively scrabbled for something to hold on to.
“Yes, my name does begin with the letter O. I’m not sure why that’s…”
That was when he saw the blood starting to trickle down your forehead. “Madam you appear to be bleeding.”
And just like that, you found yourself falling and the last thing you saw was the Master’s brown eyes looking back at you in worry and confusion as you fell into his arms. At least you thought it was the Master. Who else could it be…?