Summary: The last Doctor meets an early regeneration of the Master.
Characters: Other!Doctor (13), Other!Master (early regeneration)
Pairing: Implied Doctor/Master
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately. BBC owns them.
Word count: 759
Author’s Note: So it’s been 2 years since I’ve written any D/M. Or any DW fic. Or any fic at all, I think. Which is a very sad state of affairs, caused mainly, I think, by my lack of love for the last series. But now, apparently, I am positively awash with plot bunnies and fannish feelings, and who am I to deny such inspiration? As it is, this is a (very) belated continuation of my doctorwho_100 prompt responses, done for 001: Beginnings. It’s unbeta-d and not particularly wonderful, but hey, fic! And life from me :) More to follow soon, I hope. Comments are love, let me know what you think.
This time, the Doctor finds the Master at the beginning of the Universe, when planets and space rock were just barely forming, and TARDISes can only just withstand the heat.
They often manage to find each other at such points, momentous occasions in the whole of Time, ones that matter in the grand scheme of things, but for them present little more than a backdrop for their encounters.
They are out of order, perhaps more horrendously out of order than they have ever been before. For the Doctor, it is his last body, relatively newly acquired; the Master is one he does not recognize, but he can already tell it is an early regeneration, one he never happened to meet – there had been a few of those.
This Master looks young – younger than the majority of his first regeneration cycle, maybe thirty, and clean-shaven but for a short, neat goatee, fashionable among young men of the twenty-first century. His hair is a darkish auburn, his eyes startling green, and there is something about his face that looks a little softer than many of the others. The Doctor feels a pang at the thought of never knowing him at the proper time.
‘Hello, Master,’ he says, and the Master looks at him, surprise lighting his eyes; this man is too young to have learned how to mask his emotions quite so completely as he will do.
‘Doctor.’ He squints a moment. ‘Heavens, this is quite a tangle in the timelines.’
The Doctor smiles, and steps across from his TARDIS into the Master’s. He could not do so with later versions, this casual assumption of welcome, and it is dangerous to do so now, but he takes the risk and brushes a hand down the Master’s arm, the fabric of his jacket smooth beneath his fingers.
‘Has it been awhile for you?’ The Master asks, and the Doctor smiles, shakes his head and thinks of blond hair and no beard and a neat suit, the press of rough lips and the surge of adrenaline as he thwarts his latest scheme.
‘Not so very long,’ he says.
‘None of that! Just because you’re barely out of Academy robes doesn’t make me old.’
The Master ignores this, says, ‘You are though.’
Sighing, he nods. ‘Yes. But that’s hardly the point.’
There is a long pause, and then the Master says, accusatory and sounding so very <i>young,</i> ‘You ran away.’
The Doctor had wondered when – if – they would get to this – and the statement makes him want to sigh, or perhaps go back and shake some sense into his younger self, tell him, ‘Don’t do this, don’t give up, you could spare yourselves so much misery and hate and anger and grief, don’t lose so much time, don’t lose this, because you’ll never get it back the way it is now, and something’s better than nothing, but it’s not what it was, even now.’ But of course he can’t, and he doesn’t.
Eventually, he says, ‘I’m sorry.’ Inadequate, but it’s all he has to give.
The Master is not impressed, spins around looking furious. ‘Sorry? You left, like we always said we would, but you left <i>without me.’</i>
‘I was young, and stupid, and I’m sorry. I will spend my long life regretting it.’
‘I will make you pay for this, Doctor.’
‘I know you will.’ And then, though he knows he shouldn’t, he adds, ‘Don’t give up on me. Hate me, hurt me, but don’t give up on me. It … does get better, eventually. I promise.’
‘I can’t trust you.’
‘I still promise.’
And he still knows he shouldn’t, but he can’t help himself, so he leans forward and presses a kiss, rough and quick, to this unknown Master’s mouth. He draws away before it can become anything more, but perhaps that, more than any promise, will give the Master the hope he needs.
The sound of his nickname, spoken through the Master’s lips, a name he hasn’t heard since he left Gallifrey that first time, all those centuries ago, makes his hearts tremble.
‘I have to go. I’m sorry.’
He can see it, the Master closing himself off, the cool, calculating mask falling across his face, and it saddens him, but it was own doing and he says nothing, just presses a hand briefly to the Master’s chest, over his hearts, and returns to his TARDIS.
The Master deep, green eyes and his even voice as he says, ‘Goodbye, Doctor’, stay with him long after he has dematerialised.