brb_evil: (Life On Mars)
[personal profile] brb_evil
Title: Tea At Alice's
Summary: Alice has a cunning plan to get the Doctor and Master back together. 50's AU.
Rating: PG or something
Characters/pairings: Master/Doctor, Alice Cartwright
Author's notes: This is basically just an explanation of what the crap happened on October 8th at two in the afternoon at Alice's house when she invited the Doctor and Master over for tea in the canon of our LiveJournal roleplay. She messaged them both, telling them to come over without saying that the other would be there in an attempt to get them back together after the huge fight they had three weeks ago.


Alice to Doctor:
"I thought maybe we could talk in person about all this. I may have lost my temper a bit on your journal before, and I want to make up for it. How about afternoon tea and coffee at my house at 2pm tomorrow? I made cinnamon cookies!"
Doctor: I don't actually know...I can't find it in my message history. Leah halp?

Alice to Master: "I was wondering if you might like to stop by tomorrow afternoon for a bit of a chat. I've talked to the Doctor about your current predicament, and I wanted to let you know in person what I found out. Say 2pm, my house? I'll have cinnamon cookies!"
Master: "My peace of mind is already shattered, so all right. Why not. I appreciate your assistance in this matter. I'm pretty much always free, especially since the...headaches started. Difficult to get work done. As I'm fairly certain they're stress-related, I imagine that a tea party will prove to be just the thing.
Oh sorry, of COURSE I mean simply 'tea'. It's hardly a 'party' when there's only two people attending. Phrasing is so important, don't you think?"

Anyway, that should be all the back ground needed, really. Here's the story.

Alice likes to...well, the Doctor hesitates at the word "meddle" but she certainly does like to involve herself in the "relationship" of himself and the Master. He is walking over to her house now with banana bread (because he can safely make that to Alice's standards) and he is mentally preparing himself to finally talk about the events of three weeks ago. He's not been REPRESSING it, per se but thinking about it hurts, so he's been trying to avoid it. If he gets it over quickly here, perhaps it will satisfy Alice. Okay, maybe if he makes sad puppy eyes at her and speaks REALLY SINCERELY she'll stop bothering him for a while. Maybe.

He reaches her door and rings the doorbell. After a minute, Alice comes to the door and smiles.

"Hello, Doctor," she says. "Thank you for the banana bread." She gives him a serious look. "Now, please, come to the living room."

The Doctor feels like he's missing something, like there's something about Alice's demeanour that isn't quite right. He is still pondering this when they reach the living room and the Master turns around, smug bastard, holding a tea cup on a saucer and a smile spreads across his face.

"Hullo," he says, "Or 'wotcha', as I believe the kids somewhere are saying." He has to snicker into his teacup. The Doctor is shocked at the double-cross although he should have known: Alice watches a lot of sitcoms. He stands limply in the doorway, the banana bread hanging limply in one hand, forgotten at his side, his mouth slightly agape. Alice snatches the bread from his hand and smiles in a sort of brisk way.

"Right," she says. "I'll leave you two to work this out." She walks over to the coffee table and puts down some lined paper and two pens out of her apron pocket. "If you want to write down any sort of RULES or a list of things to talk about, you have that option." She walks into the kitchen.

The Doctor is still standing in the door but he's squared himself, hunching a little bit inward. He is seriously considering crossing his arms. The Master turns around briefly to set down his cup and saucer then turns back around to lean his arms on the back of his chair and his chin on top of them. His expression has moved from insufferably smug to a neutral one, at least.

Alice comes back out of the kitchen with the bread sliced and on a plate and sets it onto the coffee table beside the paper. "I'll come in and check up on you later," she says. "You two need to fix this." She gives them both a serious look and then leaves the room.

They stay frozen, an awkward tableau for the next minute and then the Master rolls his eyes. "At least sit DOWN," he says. The Doctor stays where he is for another moment, no need to make it look like he's following orders and then shrugs.

"I'm not going to let the banana bread go to waste," he says. "Or...ooh, the lemon squares." He almost hurries over, then, to sit as far away from the Master as possible, which is at the other end of a couch and still not that far because it looks like Alice has rearranged the furniture so that no matter where he sits, he is forced into a close-ish position to the Master. The Master turns around to pick up his tea again and Alice darts in with a cup and saucer for the Doctor before darting out again.

The Master reaches forward and takes some banana bread and the Doctor waits until the Master's hand has definitely retreated before taking his own piece.

"Delicious," says the Master, crumbs flying a bit from his mouth. He swallows before he says, "I've missed this, at least. No oven though. Wouldn't be able to have any."

"Missed?" prods the Doctor, unable to help it.

"We're supposed to be getting along," the Master tuts, eyes hooded. "Don't go provoking me in Alice's house."

"'You won't like me when I'm angry?'" the Doctor says, mocking, and then lets his head fall into his hands. "Sorry...I'll just...sorry. Right." They're both quiet as they drink their tea. Then the Master pointedly nods his head sideways towards the door and the Doctor focuses his senses and can hear Alice, quiet and lurking in the kitchen for at least the moment.

"So, Doctor—" says the Master at the same time as the Doctor says, "Perhaps we should—" They stop. The Master starts again first. "—should we talk about our FEELINGS?" The Doctor gives him a thoroughly unamused look.

"I'm not a GIRL," he says. The Master looks like he is trying very, very hard not to say anything.

The Doctor sighs and begins his statement again. "Perhaps we should just...shake hands and pretend this never happened."

The Master raises his eyebrows and smirks a little again. "Bravo, Doctor. I was waiting for that suggestion. You seem to default to it every time."

"Which means it's worked so far," says the Doctor. "To an extent." He pauses and works himself up. "Look, I've been trying not to think about... that argument so much that it's essentially been like thinking about it anyway. We can't help but provoke each other, really."

"If you say 'best enemies' I will hit you," the Master warns him. He looks disgusted. "Or 'frenemies'. I will cause SERIOUS damage for 'frenemies'."

"Portmanteaus don't fix relationships," the Doctor snorts. "I don't know where you got the idea that I thought that."

"Oh, so we're a relationship now?" says the Master, his expression smug again.

"Relationship," says the Doctor blandly. "A connection, association or involvement."

"Oh all right," says the Master. "Go back to your soliloquy."

The Doctor gathers his thoughts. "If..." he says, starting slowly. "If I've learned anything about the sort of man I am this time around, through all of the aliens I've prevented from committing heinous crimes when I still had my TARDIS, or now, from invading Denfield, which happens a SURPRISING amount, I've learned that I don't give second chances."

"Yes, I know, you and your 'Ooh, I'll give you one chance' and that serious frowny face you put on," says the Master, going a bit wistful. The Doctor coughs unnecessarily.

"Anyway," he says, "Even with that resolution....you. You do things...horrendous things all the time—" The Master smiles, taking the praise. "—and I let you. Well, to an extent, I mean, I stop you but I don't STOP you. Not in the way I stop the others who don't take the option of their one chance."

"So what are you saying?" says the Master. "Is this my one chance?"

"Of course not!" says the Doctor, his hands going to claw at his hair. Then, he realises what he is doing and removes them slowly. "What I'm trying to say is that I can't! We're the only two left and....and it's YOU and I can't."

The Master is silent for a while before saying, "You realise, Alice went out into the garden two minutes ago. You can stop now."

"I know that!" says the Doctor, his eyes wide again. "This is extremely hard. Stop interrupting me!"

"It's difficult not to," says the Master. "If I didn't, you'd probably talk forever."

The Doctor ignores him. "All of this brings me back to the events three weeks ago," he says. The Master stiffens, looking vaguely worried but trying to cover it up. "I did provoke it somewhat, yes. Did my level of provocation deserve that sort of comeback......I'm....I'm not sure." One of the Doctor's hands goes behind his head to clutch at his hair again. "But about the very last part...I'm..." He has to take a deep breath and brace himself. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I brought it up and it was a cheap jibe. I didn't need to." The Master is looking a little trapped, pressing himself as far back as he can into his seat. The Doctor laughs a little bit and he's too nervous and preoccupied to notice the Master flinch slightly. "I didn't ever expect Alice's little meeting to work like this," he says. He puts his hands out in front of him, not sure what to do with them and then lets them rest on his knees, his fingers tightening as he braces himself for what he is about to say. "I suppose, then," he says, and then stops. "I know," he begins again, "I know you better than to expect any sort of apology from you. So I've...I've put unwilling thought into it and I...well, I for—"

"No!" says the Master loudly. "I've had enough of being humiliated by your holier-than-thou condescending attitude. Not ONE more word." He glares at the Doctor. "Go on. Fill your mouth with banana bread or I'm leaving. I'm not listening to any more of this either way."

The Doctor raises an eyebrow and the Master stares him down stubbornly until the Doctor sighs and rolls his eyes and opts for a lemon square this time instead. Alice is a figurative GOD of lemon square bakers.

***

The Master had told himself that the reason he was here was above all, for the amusement value. And yes, the Doctor's face upon coming in and seeing him sitting in Alice's living room was priceless. Completely poleaxed. Amazing. He'd come early on purpose, not that Alice had TOLD him what she was doing but it was fairly obvious. She wasn't as sneaky as she thought.

He above all wasn't here because he in any way needed to see the Doctor. The Master had wavered on coming for that exact reason, because he knew that the Doctor would start saying absolutely ridiculous apologetic things eventually, the bloody do-gooder or worse, much worse, that he would be laughing at him in his actions, his words, his eyes. He couldn't take it, couldn't stand being played the fool.

The deciding factor had been his complete lack of anything else to do because the drums in his head were crippling him. Ever since his experimenting had stagnated, the drums had been getting steadily louder, bringing new meaning to the term 'pounding headache'. He needed to get away from that house, towards some sort of light entertainment, tea, and the vision of the Doctor hurting more than him: that would be splendid. It DEFINITELY wasn't anything to do with the small hope that the Doctor might somehow calm the drums. That would be ridiculous.

So it had been amusing for a while, the Doctor, predictably, had started in on his serious talking, talking about his feelings right after he said he wasn't going to. The Master was just getting ready to taunt him about Gallifrey or the Doctor's TARDIS again, when the Doctor, the BASTARD, started in on APOLOGISING. How DARE he?! Trying to prove, always, that he was braver than the Master, that he was smarter, stronger, BETTER. And then he was laughing...laughing...and the drums rise in a mocking crescendo and he has to stop it somehow...

"No!" he says, before the Doctor can reach his final point, his killing stroke and blissfully, the Doctor shuts up. The Doctor shuts up, gives him a look (but now it can mean anything, can't it, really, now that he's finally silent) and takes a lemon square.

The Master is about to take some more banana bread when he glances and then stares at the Doctor. NO-ONE should be allowed to EAT like that: eyes fluttering closed, tongue savouring, licking the crumbs from his lips. The worst bit is how completely unaware he is of what he's doing...

Unconsciously, the Master leans forward in his seat and the Doctor opens his eyes to continue chewing, looks directly at the Master and then STILL LICKS HIS LIPS.

Not fair. NOT FAIR. The BASTARD. The Doctor has just been laughing at him, and this....this is just a continuation of the taunting, it must be. At the rush of warmth it causes, however, he is unable to stop himself from making a small noise in his throat. Fuck. The Doctor is wrecking his ordinarily perfect control.

***

This is a very good lemon square, the Doctor thinks. Alice has outdone herself this time. My banana bread doesn't even come close but it's not like I cook all the time except for very recently. I bet she took classes when she was in school. Actually, I think there were Home Ec classes at the Academy but they were transdimensional which probably wouldn't work with the tools I have here. Hold on, how do I know that? Someone must have taken them and it wasn't me and it DEFINITELY wasn't Drax or...or the Rani but it...no, it definitely couldn't have been. This is ridiculous! I never cared about not knowing until now, thanks to this bloody society. I really hate being sub par at anything! All right, I'm probably better than sub par. I am definitely par. Or maybe even slightly above par but Alice is at an entirely different level. If I still had my TARDIS I'd have to go and find Julia Child and actually take her up on that offer of cooking lessons. No...wait, if I had my TARDIS I'd just get out of here. That would be the rational response. Or maybe not. Maybe I'm learning how to interact with people on a human basis and that's healthy? Is it healthy for a Time Lord? I mean, I interact with people all the time... At least if I left I wouldn't have to watch them die. Actually, that's a good point. Are the American government going to come and shoot me at some point for never visibly aging? More things to worry about...I'd better try and create some sort of method for summoning my TARDIS....even if she really didn't like it here. But she likes me! Mmm, lemons.

He opens his eyes when he realises, a little bit embarrassed, that he'd closed them, and notices the Master looking at him with a vaguely annoyed expression. The Doctor finishes his bite of lemon square and is about to ask him if he's still annoyed about being APOLOGISED to and point out that that's ridiculous when the Master says: "Enjoying that lemon square, are you?"

"Yes, actually," says the Doctor, slightly confused. "They're quite good. Did you try one before I got here?"

"Yes," says the Master. "I don't think I looked like that while eating it or Alice would have worried."

"Like what?" says the Doctor. "I just ate it. I probably looked at least a little happy because it was GOOD but—"

"A little happy!?" the Master snickers. "A li..." He leans over to the table and grabs a lemon square. Then he eats it. Or...or...has sex with it or something. Making appreciative moany noises. There is NO WAY the Doctor looked like that when he was eating it and he says as much.

"Dii-id," says the Master in a sing-song after swallowing his mouthful.

"I...no," says the Doctor. "I definitely wasn't doing that."

"Take another bite of it," says the Master, his eyes suddenly dark and dangerous, standing up and walking over to sit at the other side of the Doctor's couch.

The Doctor, finding this all completely ridiculous, does.

"No, you're making an effort to eat it like you're a normal person," says the Master and then purrs, "Enjoy it."

This is one of the strangest teas the Doctor has ever been to and what happened to the Master being ANGRY at him. What's going ON? He tries to ignore the Master and focus on the lemon square, which soon becomes impossible when, as soon as he swallows his bite, the Master pounces on him and pins him backwards against the arm of the couch. He is going to protest or say, "Ow!" or something but the Master is already kissing him. So, finding it all a little bizarre and dreamlike, he kisses back.

***

Alice comes in from the garden and walks through the kitchen on her way to check up on the Saxons. They're a nice couple, generally seem so well-adjusted. It upsets her that they've fallen apart, which is why she organised this plan to get them back together. They're sweet in a snarky sort of way, like all the BEST sorts of romantic comedies. Not that she's living vicariously at all. All she knows is that the Doctor is a very lucky man. She wishes Peter were as willing to say nice things as the Master is. Well, as he is with a bit of gentle prodding from her.

She picks up the teapot from its coaster on the counter to use as her excuse to enter the room, walks over to the doorframe and—oh. Oh goodness. She had wondered why they were being so quiet. She should leave them to their privacy for a while, so as not to embarrass them and besides, she is NOT a Peeping Tom. Hm. Perhaps she'd best stay just a moment longer. For their own good. After all, this seems awfully soon for them to already be back together after such a long period apart but then again, maybe that's just evidence of how well-adjusted they are. Faced with this new, compelling argument, she sighs a little bit inwardly, brings the cosy-covered teapot back to its coaster and heads back to the garden. She'll come in in maybe another 15 minutes. She doesn't want to embarrass them but she might...cough loudly, perhaps, and suggest that they might want to continue in their own house. Couches are a trial to clean.

***

The Doctor's back is starting to hurt from being so insistently pressed into the couch's arm. He can feel the wood beneath the fabric and padding digging into his mid-back but he doesn't entirely want to shift from where he is, with his hands on the Master's back. His neck is feeling a little cramped too: even though the Master is holding his head up with one hand, he still has to focus on not letting it fall back. Although maybe that might be nice too, making his neck more obvious and the Master might...he might... He lets it go anyway and the Master kisses roughly along his neck before pulling the Doctor's head back up, supporting it properly this time as he brings his attention back to the Doctor's mouth.

This has gone past the ridiculous to where the Doctor has begun to think of this as the Master's form of apologising when he can't seem to 'lower' himself to the actual verbal apology. It's a nice apology, really, all apologies should be like this one; although, maybe they shouldn't be doing this in Alice's house... He doesn't quite want to stop the kissing to point this out: it feels like a dream and if he does anything to jar it, things are going to go back to how they were for the last three weeks. Not that he fully regrets it because Donna seems to be really nice so far, exactly the sort of person he'd choose for a Companion back when he still had that freedom and the TARDIS. But whenever she's not talking—and he's learned to rely on her steady stream of banter, between the two of them they can fill huge stretches of time—but when she is silent, there is nothing to stop his mind from going back to his previous Companions. The Master had been good at always keeping him thinking about something else and when he'd actually brought up some of the Doctor's most intense regrets, hitting him with them like a physical blow, the Doctor had been lost for what to do. Confusing that he hadn't expected it, really. This version of Earth has lulled the Doctor into a strange false sense of security. He's going to have to be very careful for a while, trying to bring himself gradually to trusting the Master again.

It's as he's decided this that he senses vaguely the sensation of the Master slipping into his mind and the dream and the introspection shatters.

The Doctor shoves the Master violently out of his mind, throwing up barriers, and recoils from him, or tries to, at least, considering how pressed up against him the Master is. He manages to squirm out somewhat and the Master actually looks a bit confused for a short period of time, although he covers it quickly with derision.

"What?" he says. "What is it?"

"What do you mean 'What is it?'" says the Doctor. "You WENT IN MY MIND. Did you think I wouldn't notice; you'd just have a quick riffle through?"

"What?" says the Master and for how clever the Doctor knows he is, he really is an idiot in certain ways. "You generally LIKE it. It's more personal than humans. We do this all the time. Stop being such a girl."

"We DID this all the time," corrects the Doctor. "Ever since you took advantage of it, no, we don't."

"Don't be ridiculous," says the Master, not backing off, so the Doctor stands up and walks around to use the couch as a sort of barrier. It makes him feel more comfortable, anyway. "You're honestly going to make a big deal about this?"

"You STOLE my MEMORIES!" says the Doctor, his eyes wide and angry. "You rummaged in my mind, ransacked it for what was most important to me and now you're SURPRISED that maybe I might not trust you going in there?"

"The only thing that surprises me is that you're not over it yet," sneers the Master. "I thought you FORGAVE me."

"You didn't let me say that," the Doctor points out.

"Well, it's amusing now, considering what an obvious fallacy it clearly is," the Master scoffs.

"If you start right in trying to generate a new fight then it's a little difficult to hold to the concept!" the Doctor snaps.

"Seems more like you're the one doing the fight-starting," says the Master. "*I* was just snogging you—"

"And raping my mind!" yells the Doctor, a little bit wildly.

"It was hardly raping," says the Master.

"I didn't want you in there," says the Doctor. "Thus, rape! Do you have no concept of moderat—what am I saying, of course you don't. You haven't changed since we were kids. If anything, you've gotten worse."

"And YOU haven't become any less of a drama queen," says the Master. "Lucky break that there's no-one left to judge you, as you've killed them all."

"And back to THAT we go!" yells the Doctor. "You just have to push and prod, see how far you can make it go. Well, congrats. You've found the edge again. Would you like me to punch you again?!"

"No, thanks," says the Master. "I'd like you to stop making a fuss over nothing and to come home and rule the world with me in maybe...two weeks. Give or take. I would also like an exorbitant amount of violent sex."

The Doctor stares at him.

"You were accusing me of being irrational so I thought I'd actually make some extravagant demands," says the Master. "So it might give you some perspective about reacting to a little bit of telepathy."

"It's not..." the Doctor says, almost rendered incoherent through helpless anger. "It's not a little bit of telepathy. It's RAPE."

"All right. Delicate flower," says the Master holding up his hands in front of him in mock-surrender. "Didn't want you back yet anyway. I'm busy. You can return once I've taken over, begging on your knees for me to take you back. Even better, I'll pull you in by force." He smiles seraphically.

"I'll stop you," says the Doctor fervently. "Whatever you're doing, I'll find out."

"I look forward to it," says the Master, pouting mockingly.

The Doctor gives him a look, trying to convey all of the anger he's actually managing to contain (he must have counted past a googol by now), all of the frustration at the Master having ruined what he'd felt coming back together, how much he's hurting.

The Master smirks at him in return.

***

Alice comes in from the garden, straight through the kitchen into the living room and picks up on the distance they are standing apart, on the Doctor's hunched shoulders and closed expression and on the smugness that the Master is once more radiating. She shakes her head slightly, lips in a tight thin line.

"Thank you for the tea, Alice," says the Doctor hollowly. "I think I'll be going back to Donna's now, though. The lemon squares were lovely as usual."

"Well, goodbye, then," says Alice, patting his shoulder briefly. "I'm sorry...that you couldn't stay longer." She darts a stern look at the Master who widens his eyes: 'Who, me?' and she walks the Doctor to the door where he puts on his coat, says, "Bye," and leaves. Then she walks back to the living room where the Master is munching on a lemon square like nothing has happened, looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

"I hope you're proud of yourself," she says.

"Mm," says the Master, his mouth full but he somehow manages to communicate that he is, in fact, VERY proud of himself.

Alice sighs, sits down and takes a slice of banana bread for herself. It looks like the Saxons just need some more time.



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Leah M

March 2011

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