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Spoilers are highly unlikely! UPDATE: One spoiler is in here and that's the true identity of Saxon, so if you haven't been told/found out about that, please don't read this!
Jack pulled a face. The world was coming to an end – again. “Same old, same old,” he growled under his breath as he studied the wiring of the device.
“This doesn’t look like Earth technology,” Tosh muttered beside him as she ran a swift diagnostic on the computer system that was running the entire Doomsday scenario.
“Oh, it’s Earth technology, all right,” Jack said absently as he reached for one crucial piece of wiring and got a fat shock in return. “It’s just not 21st century Earth technology. My guess is 32nd and they were a nasty paranoid bunch around then.”
“Wonderful,” Tosh sighed. “Are we going to be able to stop this before it goes off?”
“Pfft, no problem,” Jack said with a brash grin that failed to reach his eyes.
“So much for my hairdresser's appointment, then,” Tosh said with a downward twist to her mouth.
Jack laughed. He’d missed Tosh and her wry observations. When he’d returned from travelling with the Doctor, she had been distant at first. Gwen, of course, had welcomed Jack with open arms and Owen had been quietly relieved to see him, but Tosh had made him sit down and give her a proper explanation before she had thawed
It had also been Tosh who had told him that Ianto was gone….
“What do you mean, gone? Gone where?” Jack had said in a stunned voice.
“We were in the Himalayas, hunting for aliens,” Tosh said tiredly, her eyes bruised by sadness. “One moment he was beside me, the next he was gone. No dramatic flash of light, no weird noises. Just empty space where Ianto once was.”
“Did you try-“
“Of course we tried!” she flashed back in anger. “Well, I tried, but we were thousands of miles from the Hub, I didn’t have any satellite links and the equipment we did have had been acting up from the beginning because of the cold. He was gone and I don’t know where or who took him.”
It had hurt. It had hurt more than Jack expected it to. He’d lost people before, though, and he would in the future. Three weeks on and there was still a dull ache inside him that could sometimes become a sharp needle in his heart, but life went on and right now he had a bomb to defuse.
“What do we need to do?” Tosh asked.
“Well, the first thing would be to step away from my little toy and get rid of any weapons you might have,” came a cheerfully polite voice from behind them.
Jack froze. He recognised that voice. He’d hoped that he would never hear it again. He turned to find his worse nightmare standing grinning that damn grin not 20 feet away from him. “Fancy meeting you here,” he said, doing his best to suppress the snarl that threatened.
The Master’s grin widened. “The freak, as I live and breathe – and I do, your efforts notwithstanding. And who is this delightful creature?” he continued, running his gaze up and down Toshiko in a manner that made Jack itch to punch his teeth down his throat. “By a process of elimination, I would assume that this is Dr Toshiko Sato. My dear, your photos simply do not do you justice.”
“Mr Saxon?” Tosh said doubtfully. “I thought you were killed.”
“Oh, I’m almost as hard to kill as the intrepid Captain, here,” the Master said cheerfully. “Of course I’m not an abomination of nature, but we can’t have everything.”
Jack realised that the Master didn’t know that Jack had sacrificed his own immortality to regenerate the Doctor after the last climactic battle. That was reassuring in that it meant that the Master wasn’t quite as all-knowing as he liked to seem. It was also worrying in that the Master wouldn’t hesitate to kill him since he would assume that Jack would get back up.
“At least I’m a good-looking abomination,” he said glibly as he tried to work out their chances. “I’m betting that you have some friends hovering around,” he continued calmly. “Shy types, are they?”
“No, just very obedient,” the Master said. He lifted his hand and two huge creatures moved out of the shadows to stand beside him.
“Ogrons,” Jack said with an inner groan. Just what he needed. Clever enough to understand an order and carry it out, dumb enough to never question those orders. Big, tough and single-minded: the worst kind of enemy when you were operating to a tight deadline. “What an unpleasant surprise.”
“I’m delighted that you think so,” the Master said with a chuckle. “Now why don’t you come with us and we’ll leave this place.”
“What about the bomb?” Tosh asked.
“Oh, yes, I’d forgotten that. How careless of me,” the Master said jovially. He took out his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the bomb. With a heavy series of clicks, the bomb shut down. “My toy’s served its purpose so it can go back into storage.”
“Purpose?” Jack’s mind raced. “You wanted it to be found. You wanted to attract our attention.” A small cold knot formed in the pit of his stomach. “You wanted me?”
“Very good, my little freak,” the Master said approvingly. “And now I have you.”
“What would happen if I said that since you have me, you might as well let Dr Sato go?” Jack asked.
The Master’s smile got that little bit colder. “I’d say that she’s now surplus to requirements and kill her. I don’t like loose ends. But that won’t be happening,” he continued, bestowing a genuinely charming smile on Tosh, “because I enjoy collecting beautiful and clever things. I think you’ll appreciate the jewel of my collection when you see it.”
“I should be frightened, shouldn’t I?” Tosh said several hours later.
Jack paused in his pacing and gave her a troubled look. Part of him wanted to reassure her, but he knew that Tosh wasn’t the type to appreciate empty platitudes. Besides, she was right. Anyone with any sense was afraid of the Master. Even the Daleks had learned to be wary of him. They'd been left alone ever since they had been brought to what looked like a nondescript office block and herded into a windowless room, but Jack couldn't guarantee such good luck continuing.
“Let’s just say that it would be best if you stayed as invisible as possible,” he finally said.
Tosh forced a smile. “Pity you’re not with Ianto, then. He had stealth mode nailed.”
Jack winced. God, what he wouldn’t give to have Ianto with him. The young Welshman had a talent for saying or doing the right thing that sometimes seemed almost supernatural. Plus, as Tosh pointed out, he had an ability to fade into the background to the extent that people could stand right beside him and not really register his presence. On the other hand, however….
“I’d rather than none of you were with me,” he told Tosh. “I don’t like you getting hit by the fallout of my issues.”
Tosh smiled ruefully. “If I’d wanted a safe life, Jack, I wouldn’t have joined Torchwood.”
“You have a point,” Jack conceded. He paced some more. “I wonder what he meant when he talked about the jewel of his collection?" He hadn't liked the cruel twist to the Master's mouth when he had said that. Dear God, if he’d captured the Doctor again….
"I suppose he'll tell us when it suits him," Tosh said quietly. "At least Gwen and Owen are safely back at the Hub and not involved. Jack, would you mind not pacing for a little while? You're making me tired just looking at you."
Jack flashed her a look of irritation, but before he could say anything the door to their prison opened and one of the Ogrons motioned at them to come out. After a moment's hesitation, Jack shrugged and did as he was told, sensing Tosh following close behind him. There were more Ogrons in the featureless corridors they were herded down before they were escorted into a lift, which confirmed Jack's suspicions that they were somewhere the Master felt secure in. The lift took them up several floors. Probably high enough to be on the top floor, Jack decided, but when the lift doors opened, it was to a darkened room. Their guard prodded them out but didn't follow. Instead the lift doors closed again and the indicator showed that it was descending.
"Looks like it's just going to be us, Tosh," Jack said with a lightness he was far from feeling. "How select."
He prowled forward, wondering where the Master was. The small foyer they were in opened onto another, much larger room, which probably took up half of the top floor. The windows were all covered with a heavy black material that shut out the natural light. All around the room were display cases that were discreetly lit to show off their contents. Jack glanced at few of them as he went by and realised that they all contained something rare and precious. A manuscript here, a collection of coins there, some jewellery, what looked like an original painting on one of the room’s supporting pillar; all undoubtedly genuine and all probably pilfered. At the very centre of the room was a raised dais on which was another display case, only this one was illuminated from a spotlight in the ceiling.
Knowing that he was being manipulated, Jack nevertheless made for the dais and stepped up to see what was so important that it was at the heart of the Master's collection. He frowned at the sight of an old-fashioned fob watch gleaming in the light as it hung suspended in mid-air, the delicate chain falling in graceful curves as if it was resting on something more solid than a low-level force-field. The watch was a beauty, with an intricate engraving, but he wouldn't have considered it to be worth more than some of the other treasures in this place.
"Lovely, isn't it?" the Master said from behind him.
Jack turned and shrugged. "You've seen one watch, you've seen them all. I had a nice watch myself, once. Not sure why you have it as the centrepiece of your collection, though. Not quite the jewel I'd imagined."
The Master smiled as he walked past Jack to look at the watch. There was an almost tender expression on his face as he studied it. "This might be the centrepiece of my collection, Captain, but it isn't the jewel. That," he said, nodding beyond Jack, "is the jewel."
Jack heard Tosh gasp and he turned to follow the Master's gesture. He felt his own jaw drop as he recognised the slender young man who had been standing in the shadows while he and the Master talked.
He didn't really remember moving, but then he was standing in front of Ianto and had reached out to touch him. It wasn't until he felt the smooth material of Ianto's suit under his hands and then the warmth of Ianto's skin as he moved down to grab his wrists that Jack believed what his eyes were telling him. Looking into Ianto's eyes, however, was like ducking his head in a bucket of freezing cold water. Ianto's eyes were opaque and unfocused and he hadn't reacted to Jack's approach. Jack felt Tosh arrive beside him and he put out a gentle hand to keep her away, just in case.
"What have you done?" he demanded of the Master, not even trying to keep the vitriol out of his voice.
"Oh, just a little something to take the edge off our enchanting Mr Jones," the Master said with a small smile. "He tends to get a little restless otherwise. After the second escape attempt nearly succeeded, I decided that a little insurance was in order, so I make sure he’s less inclined to wander while my attention is elsewhere." His smile widened and took on a predatory edge. "Of course I let him wake up completely when I have some time to devote to him. It makes our interactions so much more... stimulating."
Remembering some of the things the Master had done to him while he had him in his power, Jack felt his stomach tighten. Tosh had gone up on tip-toe to try and catch Ianto's eye and she turned a distressed face in his direction when she failed. Doing his best to look reassuring, Jack couldn't help lifting his hand to lay it against Ianto's face. After a moment, Ianto blinked and Jack felt an infinitesimal pressure as Ianto leant into his touch.
"That's enough!" The Master's voice was sharp and Jack looked back in time to see something that was almost jealousy on the other man's face. It was gone almost immediately, to be replaced by the empty, insincere smile he was so good at. "I really don't like to have my possessions fondled."
"He isn't a possession!" Tosh burst out. "He's a person in his own right!"
The Master chuckled. "Such delightful naiveté. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, Dr Sato, and since I have possession, that makes Ianto Jones my property."
"Why?" Jack demanded flatly, turning away from Ianto with reluctance. "Why go to all the trouble of kidnapping him?"
"Perhaps I wanted a pretty Jones of my own," the Master said mockingly. "Perhaps I took him so I could trap you."
"But you didn't use him," Jack pointed out. "You kept him here, away from any possible chance that he might get free or be rescued. And why go after him in particular? There are quite a few Joneses on the planet."
"None quite like this one," the Master said with a smile. He snapped his fingers and after a moment Ianto started to drift towards him. "In fact I think I can safely say that Ianto Jones is absolutely unique."
He went to put his hand on Ianto's head and Jack didn't think he was imagining the slight flinch Ianto gave. He did his best to control the instinctive surge of anger he felt but he realised the Master had either picked up on it or had guessed he would be feeling it, because he sent Jack a look of such smug triumph that Jack actually did take several steps forward before he managed to control himself. He settled for a glare which he knew the Master would see as a victory for himself.
“Okay, so you have me and you have Ianto, and you’ve also managed to scoop Tosh up along the way,” he said as evenly as he could. “Care to go into the usual informative rant to clue us in on what you’re planning?”
The Master frowned, a distinctly petulant expression twisting his face. “Just because the Doctor was willing to tolerate your freakish presence, don’t imagine I’ll show you the same sufferance, Captain. You’re necessary to my plans, yes, but you don’t have to be either conscious or sane to fulfil my requirements, so I would watch that overly smart mouth of yours.”
Ianto shifted slightly under his touch, which effectively distracted him for a moment as he stroked the younger man into submission again. “Where was I? Oh yes, my plan…. Well, a true artist never gives away everything, my useful little freak, especially before the first night. Let’s just say that I entered into a business relationship and now I find that I have pressing need to produce some assets that I’d prefer to retain. Hence the necessity of suffering your unpolished presence. Dr Sato is an unexpected bonus that I’m sure I’ll be able to make use of in future.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Tosh snapped, disliking the way he looked at her.
The Master smiled charmingly. “Oh, you won’t, my dear. Have anything to say about it, I mean. But I can assure you that when I’ve finished with you, you will be more than happy to serve me in any way that I choose. And I do so like to multi-task,” he said as his smile became predatory again.
Despite her best intentions, Tosh felt herself shiver and move a step closer to Jack’s reassuring presence. She had little doubt that the Master could make good on his threat. She was also determined that any victory he achieved with her would be bought dearly. Lifting her chin in unconscious defiance, she glared back and had the dubious satisfaction of making him look away first.
“But I’m being an inconsiderate host,” the Master said smoothly. “I wouldn’t like it to be said that I was lacking in the finer courtesies of civilised living. Do please go through to the next room where we can enjoy some light refreshment.”
For a moment Jack was tempted to rush him and see if he could get the upper hand. Common sense told him that such a move would be a waste of time. The Master was basically a coward and wouldn’t expose himself to any unnecessary danger. He might look as though he was in a vulnerable position, but Jack was willing to bet that they were being closely watched and monitored, and that any attempt at violence would probably result in his being very thoroughly stunned – if he was lucky.
He moved off reluctantly in the direction the Master had indicated. Going through the door left him momentarily blinded by the brilliant sunshine that was pouring through the windows of the smaller room they entered. Blinking to clear the spots dancing in front of his eyes, Jack found himself staring at what looked like an elegant sitting room from a country house. Deep, comfortable chairs and a sofa were positioned around a circular table on which had been placed the makings of a traditional afternoon tea. A silver tea service and bone china plates were laid out, as was a three-tier cake stand on which had been placed dainty little cakes and sandwiches.
“Do make yourselves comfortable,” the Master urged them in a jovial tone. “Shall I be Mother?”
Jack shrugged and ambled across to the sofa, settling himself down and patting at the seat beside him for Toshiko to join him. He wasn’t about to hand over the psychological high ground to the Master. This wasn’t the first time he’d had to sit down and metaphorically break bread with a person who intended to kill him and it hopefully wouldn’t be the last. Tosh was looking a lot more dubious and he smiled at her reassuringly before switching his attention back to the Master.
“I suppose coffee is out of the question?”
“For afternoon tea?” The Master looked shocked. “I wouldn’t dream of such a thing! We’ll have coffee later on. I was tempted to serve Earl Grey but in the end I decided that Ceylon was a better bet. Milk?”
“Please. No sugar.” Jack made a point of relaxing back in his seat and looking around. The dusky rose, cream and pale green décor just didn’t seem to match the inner darkness of the Master, which made their surroundings all the more surreal.
“Cucumber sandwich?” the Master inquired solicitously.
Jack gave him an equally insincere smile. “Lovely. And maybe a fancy or two?”
The Master laughed. “Oh, if only you weren’t a freak. I would so enjoy turning you back into the self-absorbed criminal you once were.”
“Is this going to be drugged?” Tosh asked, eyeing the food and drink warily.
The Master looked scandalised. “Do you really believe that I would tarnish the sanctity of afternoon tea? I can assure you that the only chemicals on this table are the ones that would be here anyway. When and if I drug you, Dr Sato, I will do so quite openly and there will be nothing that you can do about it.”
Jack looked across to where Ianto had taken a seat in one of the wing-backed chairs. The lost expression in his eyes was beginning to make Jack feel a little nauseous. “I suppose letting Ianto wake up enough to enjoy this little tete a tete is too much to ask?” he inquired.
The Master blinked. “My goodness, I have been remiss in my duties as a host, haven’t I? Mr Jones and I have had so much time to get acquainted that I think of him as one of the family.” He smiled benevolently at Ianto. “And yet one must be fully aware in order to enjoy the full pleasures of afternoon tea, so perhaps a small treat is in order.”
He fiddled with the signet ring he had on one finger and then laid his hand against Ianto’s throat. Ianto jerked a little and the unfocused look rapidly disappeared. He leaned back away from the Master, an expression of intense hatred momentarily sweeping over his face, but that was replaced by horrified astonishment when he looked past him and saw Jack and Tosh.
“Captain! I thought…” He paused and gave the Master a venomous look. “I thought I’d imagined you and Tosh were here.”
“No, it wasn’t one of my amusing little games, Mr Jones. Your erstwhile colleagues have graciously accepted my invitation to join us.”
“It was hard to refuse,” Jack said dryly before focusing his full attention on Ianto. “Are you all right?” he asked, even though he knew the absurdity of the question.
Ianto smiled thinly. “Apart from being the toy of a megalomaniacal alien, you mean?”
The Master sighed and patted Ianto on the cheek, deliberately ignoring the way Ianto jerked away from him. “Such a sharply faceted jewel, but all the more brilliant and valuable because of that fact. You really were remiss in letting this one slip through your fingers, Captain.”
“It certainly wasn’t my intention,” Jack said tightly, “and I think the correct phrase would be ‘letting him get stolen from me’, given the circumstances.”
“Neither of you have any right to me,” Ianto broke in coldly. He gave Jack a level look. “You chose to leave. That broke any agreement we might have had.” He switched his attention to the Master. “You took me against my will and have to drug me to keep me by your side. I think that alone speaks volumes for any relationship you might think we have.”
The Master laughed. “Still clinging to your delusions of independence. You are an endless source of entertainment. In ever sense of the word,” he purred.
To Jack’s dismay, Ianto visibly paled and looked away. Ianto’s words to him had stung but he’d realised the risk he had run in going off with the Doctor without so much a goodbye note. Ianto had more than his fair share of pride and wasn’t the type to accept such cavalier treatment lightly. Jack had hoped that a little heavy-duty grovelling and a period of intensive seduction would get him back in the Welshman’s good books, but then he’d been told that he wouldn’t get that chance. He was determined that now he was going to somehow get that second chance, the Master’s plans notwithstanding. He didn’t like the fact that Ianto had given ground to the Master, though. That smacked of the fact that there was something a lot more serious than just being drugged into compliance being an issue.
Of course that all depended on what you were being asked to be compliant about…
“So what’s the order of entertainment, then?” he asked the Master, more in an effort to distract him from Ianto than any real hope that he’d find out anything. “Do I get tortured to death again in various imaginative ways?” He felt Tosh jerk beside him and reached down to squeeze her hand warningly.
“Nothing so gauche,” the Master said reprovingly. “I very rarely repeat myself, Captain. Boredom is always a threat for the long-lived, so I try and hone my creativity.”
“Funny how you keep getting yourself beaten by the Doctor, then,” Jack sniped. To his disquiet, that made the Master smile in what looked like genuine satisfaction.
“Those days are behind me, I can assure you. You see I’ve already defeated the Doctor. Defeated and killed him.”
Jack managed to swallow his shock and even force a fairly passable laugh. “Yeah, right,” he said mockingly.
The Master’s smile widened. “You don’t believe me? How very hurtful. Still, I suppose one’s reputation has become a little muddied over the centuries. I can assure you, Captain, that I very rarely lie; especially when the truth serves me better. Allow me to show you proof of my little victory.” He got up and walked across the room to where some curtains had been drawn against the wall. He reached out to pull on a silk cord and the curtains swung back to reveal an alcove. “Behold my souvenir of my last brush with the Doctor,” the Master said, laughing at the expression of Jack’s face.
Inside the alcove was the TARDIS.
Go to Part 2 here