There was something about this particular time rotor that held Missy’s attention like no other, with a feeling of comfort that made her back itch. Usually, the mechanism was thrilling, only in that it gave her escape, freedom, and the way to reach new places that needed to learn The Master’s wisdom.
“Oh, Doctor, can you play this one?”
“From this band? Seriously?”
“I know, I know, but the song’s a good one. I remember it from when I was a kid.”
The guitar started up on some low tones, the Doctor muttering something about keeping women happy. Their gazes met for an instant. The Doctor looked away, then back, then pushed his dark glasses down to cover his eyes. He still stared in Missy’s direction as his fingers lazily plucked out a bittersweet melody.
Missy looked back to her tea, blowing out a slow and steady breath. That strange flipping between her hearts was back, interfering with her lungs’ capacity. So oddly made, women’s bodies, like being tossed about by the time vortex. One moment crying for no reason...and the next, feeling hot, cold, and tingly from the touch of one man’s hands on hers and the promise of a friendship that should already be.
“Y’alrih’ere?” Across the table, Nordole was talking with his mouth full.
“Yo’ook a’ittle...” he swallowed again, waving his hand about. “...flushed.”
“Mind your business,” she hissed, using her middle finger to flick the raspberry off her tea cake. It left a tiny smear of cream on his robe.
“Well, I don’t see how that was called for.” Nordole wiped up the mess with his hand, disposed of it in his mouth, then washed it down with a loud, rude gulp from his oversized tea cup.
A throat clearing drew her attention back to where the Doctor and his other pet were prancing around the console. The Doctor kept playing, but sent her an amused warning glance over top of his glasses. She pouted at him and wiped her fingertip on her napkin. Her only regret - that she hadn’t had an angle to lodge it up a nostril.
Perhaps, it was simply that this console room’s design was more homey than any she could remember. The time rotor was like a hearth of goldenrod fire that warmed that home. And that was wrong on so many levels. As wrong as the wooden bookcases and furniture that accented this upper level. A TARDIS was a living work of art. The most advanced mode of transportation invented. Not a sitting room, to be littered with one’s record collection and dirty dishes.
To be by her friend’s side roaming the universe, was what she’d always wanted. The only thing. But this? Taking tea with an android still wearing his bathrobe? It was all, excessively, nauseatingly domestic, and not at all what she’d had in mind.
The problem, as always, was his still ongoing obsession with notions of good and evil. She saw the universe as it was, and lower lifeforms for what they were. What could possibly be wrong or evil about fundamental truths?
She couldn’t give a flicked raspberry for what anyone else thought, or if they ever understood her intentions, but it hurt that the Doctor didn’t understand, because he was the only one who should. But no matter what she did, she just couldn’t get him to see things her way. Who knew he could be so small minded? It was a such a constant disappointment, she didn’t know why -
“This is like us, ya know?” Bill was doing something she probably called dancing, pulling Nordole to and fro.
“What is?” Nordole asked.
“Like how space, the stars used to be called the Heavens. And we travel around in ‘em, like we’re knockin about Heaven.”
The idiot looked so ridiculously pleased with herself, that the Master couldn’t help the laughter that rolled out of her.
“Oh, be reasonable, Doctor, you can’t coddle them forever. Heaven, child,” she snapped to get the puppy’s attention, “is a fictional, or sometimes digital, place where everyone is happy, and nothing bad or interesting ever happens. While the universe is a real place filled with real horror, upon misery, upon horror.”
Bill crossed her arms and sneered. “You should know, eh?”
Missy leaned forward in her chair. “No one knows it like I do. I have seen the heart of existence, and believe me, there is nothing of mercy or forgiveness there.”
“What does she mean, ‘heart of existence?’” Bill frowned at the Doctor, hugging herself.
He had long since stopped playing, but now began again, a melody she recognized, simple and so old, it made her feel young. Their gazes met, her hearts suddenly pounding as they raced across the red grass that was always in the minds.
“She means the Time Vortex, the heart, the center of everything. We all see it, when we’re children. It’s part of a...coming of age ceremony on our homeworld.”
“And is she right about it?”
“She isn’t...” He paused, looking off to the side, glasses pushed back on top of his head.
He strummed one powerful chord that vibrated across the room and into Missy’s skin. The sound abruptly halted with his hand laid across the strings. The following silence thrummed even louder in her head and hearts. Was it possible...
“She isn’t wrong, precisely.” He held up a hand at Bill’s sound of protest. “We all see...what we see. Truth is - everyone has a truth. Truth is relative but still truth. But relative...relative truth.” He nodded as Bill and Nordole exchanged confused expression number four. “But it doesn’t matter, because there is mercy and forgiveness in the universe. Even if it only comes from us.” He fixed Missy with a hard, meaningful stare.
She allowed his point with a small tilt of her head. “As well said as ever. To truth and mercy,” she toasted, raising her cup. “That’s meant to be me and you, ya know,” she added in a conspiratorial whisper.
“Yes, I got that.” His eyes were warm and knowing before he hid them again behind his ‘shades’. The guitar started up again, another human song, she imagined, as it made Bill’s sour face soften a bit. She had already started swaying again by the time he shuffled to her side, but then music was an easy way to lure a dumb animal to you. Nordole came back, grabbed another cake, then laid down on a couch across the way.
She put together another cuppa while turning this latest over in her mind. What a shocker, maybe the Doctor didn’t completely misunderstand her after all. And if it meant staying by his side, she could, possibly, learn to tolerate his eccentricities, even if they believed in silly things like a supernatural Heaven. Sipping her tea, she went back to staring at the time rotor. There was just something about those six golden pipes...