After the orgy of blood and insanity of the first few days, they settled into a routine. Jack would be brought to the bridge to witness the Master humiliate and torture a more and more unresponsive Doctor until he got bored and turned on Jack. Following the Doctor’s lead, Jack fought to control his own pain until the inevitable climax where the Master killed him. Jack had thought he’d experienced all the possible ways to die. The Master loved to teach him differently. So far, he hadn’t resorted to destroying Jack’s remains entirely, for which Jack was glad. He wasn’t sure if even Rose’s gift would be enough to bring him back from that. But he knew he was winning. He could sense it every time as life faded away from him, the Master’s frustration. Jack wasn’t giving him what he wanted. And if Jack had anything to say about it, he never would.
Something was different today, though.
The Doctor was sitting in a wheelchair today, propped up in his half daze, taking no interest in the blanket tucked over his legs or the cup of tea at his elbow.
“You know, Doctor,” the Master said conversationally, leaning against the table with his arms crossed over his chest, “I’ve been thinking a lot about your ‘assistants.’” He emphasized the words with his fingers. “They must learn a lot from you. I mean, look at Jack here. So stoic, so noble. Willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. That can only be your example.”
The Doctor made no response, eyes unfocused on a point somewhere past his feet.
“I wonder if the pretty Miss Jones is the same way. You know, it wasn’t very polite of your little friend to disappear right in the middle of my party. But that’s probably your influence as well.”
Jack wasn’t surprised when the Doctor didn’t respond, didn’t even register the comments.
The Master leaned closer, lips disturbingly close to the Doctor’s ear. “Good thing I found a back up.”
He backed away with a madly devious grin as two of his thugs shoved their way through the door, dragging a small, struggling woman between them, her wild hair hiding her face, her hands cuffed behind her. But Jack recognized her.
The Master brushed her hair back almost gently off her cheek when they stopped in front of her. She jerked away, her struggles quieting like a rodent in the presence of a serpent.
“You do like to leave your cast-offs scattered about, don’t you, Doctor?” The Master’s frenetic energy kicked him into motion again, pacing the room, circling the Doctor’s slumped form almost gleefully. “I found this one in Ealing. Quite a little spitfire, isn’t she? She actually managed to slow down one of my children with that quaint little lipstick of hers. Just the fact that it was sonic was enough of a hint that she was yours. Aren’t you going to say hello to your old, old friend, Miss Smith?”
Sarah Jane threw her hair back to stare in horror at the Doctor. “My god,” she breathed, her tired voice cracking. “What have you done to him?”
Jack saw the Doctor start to lift his head, eyes shifting, mind starting to awaken in light of the new threat. Jack knew him, knew what he’d do, knew what he’d sacrifice for her. If he had to.
“Saxon, you leave her alone!” Jack shouted across the room, struggling against the guards holding him.
Sarah whipped around, horror still plain in her eyes, to find him. “Jack!”
“Oh ho!” The Master applauded. “So, she knows the intergalactic gigolo, does she? I guess there’s life in the old girl yet!”
“You bastard!” She tried to lash out but couldn’t overcome her guards.
The Master tipped his head, and the thugs holding Sarah shoved her at Jack. Jack pulled away from his own captors just in time to catch her.
“Truthfully, Jack,” the Master went on, “you just haven’t been much fun to play with lately. You’re just, well, too darn easy. But then I bet you hear that a lot. Now, though,” he reached out to stroke Sarah’s hair, “now I bet I can make you beg. Bet I can make you scream.”
Jack’s plan had worked. Instead of using her against the Doctor, the Master had now associated Sarah with Jack instead. She was Jack’s responsibility now. “Just leave her alone.”
The Master laughed and snapped, “As if!”
“Why isn’t he doing anything?” Sarah whispered, cringing away from the Master’s touch. “He’s just sitting there while people are suffering and dying. What’s he doing?”
Jack knew who she was talking about. “I don’t know.” He squeezed her arms quickly. “Trust him.” Looking across the room, he caught the Doctor’s eye. “I saved her,” he tried to project across the distance. “Now you save all of us.”
The Doctor’s frail shoulders eased, his eyes closing in an imperceptible nod before he retreated into catatonia again.
But Jack knew a thank you when he saw it.