Alex felt the stern grip of Captain Jack on his shoulder as the two of them, along with his father and Martha, carefully walked into the room where the press conference was happening. He knew that what they were here for was incredibly dangerous, and his father had been adamant that he be taken to a safe place, but Alex had rallied against the Doctor. For once in his life, he knew that this was a situation of life or death - he had never met the Master personally, but had heard all about him, and if his father was going to face a potentially deadly fellow Time Lord, he felt he needed to be there. "I'm not a baby anymore, Dad," he had said. "I can fight my own battles." Eventually, and very reluctantly, his father had relented and had turned to Jack sternly. "If anything happens, you get him out of there," he said. "I don't care what happens to me, but take care of him, you understand?"
Alex Smith knew he was making a big mistake.
But that was the thing, he was a baby, purely through natural Gallifreyan biology. That was why the Doctor had almost sent him away with Jack, and boy did he realize that now as they walked into that room. His hearts were thumping in his chest. He wanted to grip onto his father for comfort, but he knew that doing that would break the illusion of fading into the background and they'd be toast.
The boy glanced over at the figure sitting in the chair just in front of the American President. The Master; the man he'd heard so much about. His father's greatest friend and subsequently his greatest enemy. The one who had revealed himself back on Malcassairo at the end of the universe, as the only one who had survived the Time War, and the only one like him and his father. He'd stood next to his father and watched that man burst into orange flame, and a new voice rang out from beyond the doors of the TARDIS. If he had been terrified then, he was terrified now. Of not only the Master, but of what the Doctor would do to stop him. Alex didn't even hear the words that the American was saying on the podium, all he could do was stare. How could these people be so blind to such villany?
He glanced over at his father, who was holding up a silver object on a chain. "If I can get this round the Master's neck," he whispered. "Cancel out his perception, they'll see him for real." That was when it flashed into Alex's head. Maybe this was his chance... to save the world again, just like he'd done at Canary Wharf (although that had resulted in the loss of Rose and his father's depression, which still plagued him to this day, years and years later). Jack's hand tightened on his shoulder.
"Don't. Move," he heard Jack say in his ear. "Your dad's got this."
But those words fell on deaf ears. All of a sudden, the Toclafane were in the room, swirling around the crowd's heads, their blades jutting out from their bases glimmering in the harsh halogen lighting. Those things could cut him down in a split second, but the time tot did not care. All he wanted to do was run up to the Master, slip that chain around his neck and reveal to the Earth what a monster he really was. He didn't even see the President being murdered before their very eyes, his body disintegrating into dust, or the Master standing up and giving his great speech to the peoples of the Earth. All that existed was the two of them, like two cowboys about to have a shoot out.
Pushing Jack aside, Alex snatched the chain from the Doctor's hand and raced toward the platform the Master was standing on. "ALEX! NO!" the Doctor yelled. Before he even got an inch near the platform, he felt the weight of several men slam onto him and he was wrestled to the ground. The Doctor sped forward to reach him but he too was restrained.
"We meet again, Doctor... oh, I just love saying that!" the Master said, that evil grin spreading across his lips.
"STOP IT, STOP IT NOW!" the Doctor yelled, looking frantically at Alex on the ground. "Let my son go, Master! He's done nothing, he's just a child! It's me you want, Master, ME!"
"Aaah, Alex," the Master said, ignoring the Doctor, looking down at Alex in mock pity. "The last time I saw you, you were this big." He lifted up two fingers, his lips pouting. "Look at you now. Just as arrogant as your dear father." He reached an arm out and beckoned. "Bring him here."
The guards started to wrestle Alex off the ground. The Master registered the presence of Martha and Jack in the room. "Oh look, it's the girlie and the freak. Though I'm not sure which is which." Incensed at the sight of Alex being assaulted, Jack streaked towards the group of guards holding it, but was cut down by a quick blast from the Master's laser screwdriver that he had quickly removed from his jacket.
"Master, just calm down! Look at what you're doing, just stop!" The Doctor pleaded. "If you could see yourself... you'd seriously harm a child?"
"Not just any child, your child, Doctor," the Master sneered. "I lost everything, I think it'll make us even, eh?"
By now, Alex was in front of the Master. "Master..." Alex stammered. "You don't want to do this. Dad and I... we don't want to fight you, we want to help you."
The Master slapped Alex hard across the face. "Don't tell me what I don't want to do, you arrogant child. You're just desperate to be like dear Daddy, aren't you? Make him proud of you? You've already let him down... and the universe down, thinking you could save them."
Alex glanced and saw Martha bending down over Jack, his eyes pleading with her to do something, but he knew it was no good. They were trapped, all of them. Tears brimmed in his eyes and spilled down his face. "Dad!" he cried out, looking at his father below him. "Dad, I'm so sorry."
"Aww, blubbering little baby," the Master said, drawing closer to him. "Pathetic. I think you need a change of attitude. And a change of face." He waved a hand to the guards surrounding them, pistols drawn. "Kill him."
His father's screams rang in his ears as the guards opened fire. Bullets pumped through Alex's body, spraying blood onto the floor and walls. Alex writhed in agony as his innards were torn apart, collapsing to the floor and vomiting blood from his mouth. All he could muster was a pained choking noise. The Doctor was still screaming, this time coupled with those of Martha.
"YOU MURDERER!" Martha said, leaping up from Jack's body. The Master did nothing but laugh. "Now sit back and watch the fireworks, boys," he said, crossing back to the chair. "Kiddo's first regeneration, they're always a whopper."
Alex tried to stumble to his feet but the weakness in his body quickly stopped him. His vision was starting to blur and he continued to cough up blood from his mouth. He looked down at his hand and noticed a faint orange glow was starting to form, getting stronger and brighter with every second. He glanced over and noticed the same on his other hand. It was starting... the one thing him and his father had mentioned, but never really talked at length about. Because it couldn't happen, not to him. It was then that the pain started, the most agonizing pain he had ever felt as every cell in his body began to be rewritten. Erased and created again, like a videotape being taped over. He noticed the same orange glow beginning to form around his vision, stinging his tear-streaked cheeks. "Dad..." he choked out. "I love you," he managed to shout before the energy fully took hold and burst. Regeneration energy almost filled the room as it poured out of Alex's head, hands and feet. Papers on the tables flew in every direction and chairs fell over with the rush of air that appeared. The Doctor looked on, tears flowing down his cheeks as his son regenerated, unable to get him through that painful process that he had gone through many times but always feared. Because it was literal death, and it had come for the one other person he loved.
Suddenly, the burst of energy came to a stop and the boy lay on the floor, except it wasn't the same boy. He looked up, brushing away sweat from his brow. This boy looked older, still a lot of youth in his face. Stubble clung to his face and chin. He heaved himself with great difficulty and looked at the Doctor. "Dad... I don't feel so--" a deeper voice said, before he collapsed onto the floor. There was a loud gasping sound as Jack revived, shaking off the weight of yet another death. Getting up, he noticed Alex on the floor. "Where's Alex?" he asked. Noticing the same clothes but a different face, he shook his head in disbelief. "No... no, this can't be happening."
The Doctor gave one almighty heave and the soldiers were knocked to the floor. He sped over to Alex and took him gently into his arms. "I've got you, I've got you," the Doctor said, trying to sound soothing. "Just take a deep breath, it'll pass, I promise." But that was all he could get out, as the guards leaped up and tore Alex away from him. "JUST LET ME HELP HIM!" he screamed. "HE'S MY SON!"
"And I don't care," the Master said, giving a mock yawn. "I forgot how whimpy you could be, Doctor." He nodded at the guards carrying Alex awkwardly. "Take him, lock him up. Do something, just get him out of my sight or I might vomit."
The world swam before Alex as the guards wrestled him out of the room. All he heard was more screaming... the worst screaming he had ever heard in his life. He didn't know whether it was his father, Jack or Martha, the sounds just blurred together. He didn't even register the fact that he had just regenerated, for the first time in his short life. But it hurt. It hurt a hell of a lot.