Disclaimer: I own nothing. Really. Doctor Who and BtVS all belong to their collective creators and other various people with greater purse strings than I possess.
Author's Notes: For Doctor Who, this takes place directly after Utopia and before the Sound of Drums. John Simms made such a wonderful Master, I figured he deserved to have his story expanded a little. LOL. This really did start as a two hundred word drabble, I think I need help to keep the muse centered, she settled down to update the Other Sister and this came out instead. *sigh*
The Master laughed.
He laughed and laughed and laughed, tears rolling down his face.
The Doctor’s face was blazoned onto his brain. That look of shock. Of fear. Of the knowledge that he, the Master, had won this round.
And perhaps the next round too, though that was still to be seen. First, the Doctor and his little friends would have to figure out a way to survive. The Master was certain the Doctor would survive. Probably his pretty little companions, too. The Doctor was an expert at managing to save lives, at being noble, at being the Doctor.
Even now the Master was certain that they were following him. Chasing him.
A merry little chase.
Another little game.
A war between the two, waged over centuries, across planets. A war built upon a need so great that the Master, even in his madness, knew and recognized and hated himself for the weakness he saw in his own mind. In his own soul.
The Master needed the Doctor, needed the Doctor to stop him. And the Doctor wouldn’t. Couldn’t.
It was a pity that the Doctor allowed his emotions to reign where only intellect should.
The Doctor should have killed him a dozen times over. The Master had done so many things, each always worse than the last, and every action aimed at gathering the Doctor’s attention. At trying to make him see that he had to stop the Master.
The Master had even learned through trial and error that simply hurting the Doctor himself was not enough to provoke the Doctor’s wrath. Oh no. To gain his foe’s attention, the Master always had to go a step beyond, had to pick at the things the Doctor treasured most.
To make the Doctor act, the Master had to kill, had to manipulate, had to torture and play with humanity to his heart’s content.
He had to make the Doctor know that he had to save the pathetic little humans. Save the precious little creatures. Save the little fragile pieces of humanity when the Doctor couldn't save him.
The Doctor could not just save him. Would not save him. The days were long past when the Doctor might have tried to save him. Now, all the Master could hope was that the Doctor would stop him.
A merry little chase. One final game. A game they had played already so very many times. The Doctor had chased him across the stars, through time, and into places so dark….
Places where the light could not dwell.
Places where the drums fell silent.
Places where the Master had felt nothing but a vast emptiness.
Places where the others of their race had refused to let the Master rest. And he yearned to return there.
To return to the oblivion he‘d been ripped away from. A place where the drums could not reach.
The drums. The rhythm. The beat that dragged the Master forwards, always beckoning, even when he wanted nothing more than a moment of respite.
He felt the laughter draining from his voice, the sound becoming harsh, empty of mirth, something deeper, something sinister, something darker. It wound itself through his body, snaking through his limbs and settling into his soul.
Throbbing. Pulsing. Beating.
Always beating. Even when he‘d run away, hidden away and reduced himself to being just mortal, the drums had been there. Muted, but still present. Even when he hadn’t known what the pulsing beat had been that had consumed his human mind - the drums had still echoed, still called.
Still beckoned, only he hadn‘t been able to answer.
Hadn‘t been free to do anything more than live a life he couldn‘t escape, a life where people had cared for him. Depended on him.
Chains upon chains, and he’d never even realized.
He was free of it now.
He had a new body, one freed from the weight of old age, from the wrinkles brought by sorrow and worry.
It beckoned. Called to him distantly over the thrumming that always sounded through his body. Absently, his fingers tapped out the familiar rhythm that consumed him, his mind already trolling through the possibilities that lay before him. Free to do anything he wanted.
It was almost as binding as being imprisoned, as living through a life of drudgery, knowing that there was something more out there. Something that he knew was there, even if he hadn’t been quite able to explain just how he knew.
He didn’t want to remember being that creature, that thing that had toiled away year after year, mourning as those other little lambs had died all around him, and working to try and save the remains of a race he despised.
It was almost humorous, in a way, that in his most recent re-incarnation, his mortal mind had become the thing he’d hated most.
A guardian of humanity.
Around him the TARDIS made sounds of disquiet, a slight wheedling hum that he suspected wasn’t natural. He didn’t pay the sounds much heed. He knew the reasons. She was mourning the loss of her precious Doctor. He couldn’t reassure her. Not when he was certain there were worse things to come in her future. The Doctor’s TARDIS was one of the most powerful he had ever come across. And one of the most strong-willed.
She was alive. So very alive. Even though the Time Lords had claimed such a thing was impossible.
The TARDISes had been nothing more than creations wrought by the experimentations of his own race countless millennia ago. By the time he and the Doctor had been born, the TARDISes had been reduced to being nothing more than relics, forgotten and shelved. They had been abandoned, forgotten by the race that had created them. Left languishing because they no longer suited any purpose.
A TARDIS was nothing more than a bauble, a play toy, a thing. He remembered hearing it again and again when he had been a child. Even then he’d known it was a lie.
TARDISes were alive. They sang.
He could hear this one’s song, just as he had heard his own TARDIS’ melody so many years ago.
The TARDISes had all been alive, each and every one of them, bound and forced to the will of their creators.
The Doctor had also known that, too. Even as a child the Doctor had been different. He had seen through the lies, as well. The Doctor hadn’t been willing to follow the orders, the rules, without knowing why. Always asking questions. The drive to question ‘why?’ had been, the Master supposed, one of the reasons they had become friends so very many years ago, before everything had...changed.
He smiled at that, at the memory of laughing together, sneaking away through brightly lit hallways in search of answers that usually led to trouble.
Even as a child the Doctor had wanted to explore, to learn, and the Master had been happy just to follow.
And then the drums had come.
Always the drums.
Once upon a time, the Doctor had led and the Master had followed. Now, the Master ran and the Doctor chased behind.
Once upon a time, the Master had believed that the Doctor would be able to stop the drums, back before so much blood had been spilled, back when the Master had cared about saving himself. About saving his sanity. About anything more than the drums and his quest to make them silent.
And he had silenced them.
Years had passed in blessed silence, ghosts had slept, and he’d been safe, and then he’d been awoken. And everything had begun again.
He’d been brought back to witness the beginning of the end of his own kind. He didn’t even know how many survived. He’d been their hope, their savior, and he had run because all he had known was the drums, echoing so loudly in his mind. They could have stopped the drums. In that instant before they’d dragged him screaming from the darkness. They could have stopped the madness, but they’d needed the fire the drums brought. They had let him continue on in madness.
He didn’t spare more than a thought to wonder if he would have been brought back had the Doctor been on Gallifrey. Had the Council sought the Doctor’s advice before they'd made their decision to rip him out of the darkness. Had the Doctor been there when he had been dragged screaming from the black and back into his own little merry hell, would he have still become one of things he’d loathed the most?
He ran across time to the end of the galaxy, to the end of time, and had become human just to stop the drums. To run away from all the expectations he’d been faced with upon awakening.
Now all he wanted to do was destroy the man who had been unable to help him. The childhood friend who had known him before madness had taken him.
Around him, he heard the sounds of the TARDIS moving through space and time, its passage nearly noiseless, graceful even, the earlier noises silenced.
Only the Doctor would have done such a thing, something so basic that the Master knew had the Time Lords still been alive they would have brought him to trial for his actions.
TARDISes had been grown to serve the Time Lords. They’d been created for comfort and enslaved with barely a care.
And there were times that the Master knew there was not as much difference between the Daleks and his own kind as they had pretended. The Time Lords had taken the TARDISes, had modified them so that instead of traveling through time and space, they would cease to exist between points, simply disappearing in one time and place and appearing in another. Such a movement required great amounts of energy, such actions made the TARDISes quiet, it made them obedient.
The Doctor had changed his, though.
The Master could hear her song as she traveled through the stars, he could feel her life. He could hear her song, because once upon a time, back before the drums had taken away every shred of his sanity, the Master had taken his own TARDIS and he had allowed for her to sing as well.
His TARDIS had been his home, until she had been taken away from him by the very person he’d once called friend.
And now only called "the Doctor," because remembering the other name, the one forgotten after so much pain had occurred, still hurt even after all these decades.
Slowly, the TARDIS’ song began to change. The TARDIS began to whine and scream. The Master drew back, uncaring, because to care for anything was to be weak. To be human.
And he was no longer subject to such trivial emotions, except….
Except that in his mind he heard another song end.
Another screaming TARDIS.
Bonds broken. Home taken away. Sanctuary destroyed. No place to run when the drums began to sound too loudly.
The TARDIS began to thrum a familiar beat, and the Master looked around, surprised to hear the beat that haunted his every moment reverberated back at him from every surface of the ship.
The sound grew louder and louder, till it was the only sound he heard, till it drowned out everything; the sound of the stars as the TARDIS flew through them, the song of the universe, the beating of his two hearts, even the voices of his victims so long dead and yet always crying out, even if only in his thoughts.
Desperately he sought to stop the sound, to stop the TARDIS, but the noise only increased in volume.
Scrunching his eyes closed, fists pressed tightly over his ears, he screamed.
The Master’s mind rebelled against the sound that had commanded it for nearly a millennium and in its place replaced the beat with laughter.
That was almost worse.
The laughter shared before friendship had become hatred.
The laughter from a time when there had been hope. When weakness had been strength and tomorrow hadn’t always meant another day of pain. Another day lost in a madness so deep he could only drown more and more as every second ticked by.
Above him, a portal swirled, the blue lights reflecting off the console and still the Master screamed, unaware.
There were only the drums; they flooded out the laughter and the Master cried as the sound of lost friendship was drowned out by the thrumming. Only the drums. Everywhere. That familiar rhythm. So painful. So familiar. He never realized when the whining of the TARDIS stopped and the beating became something different.
The blue light flashed. It thrummed and sang along with the TARDIS, and something fell through the portal, a body crashing into the Master, driving him to the ground, and leaving him stunned.
The Master blinked.
Propping his weight up on an elbow, he looked at the body laying atop him.
The tumbling of blonde curls obscured most of the features, and the color reminded him of the suns above the glowing city, back when he could look at his childhood home with something other than disgust.
Hesitantly, he raised a hand, and listened. He heard the sound of blood rushing through veins, a single heart beating (in tandem to his own two hearts beating), air moving in and out of lungs, the rustle of blonde hair against his clothes as he moved.
His fingers hovered above her skin, unbelieving, for several long moments. A startled realization spreading through him, leaving him incapable of thought or action from the sudden discovery that for the first time in a great while, the drums had stopped.
The hand fell, sliding over warm skin, his fingers running over smooth skin that was occasionally broken by barely there scars, and the figure -- no, the girl -- no, the woman -- moved, a soft groan falling from her lips before she stilled again.
But not before curling further into the Master’s surprised embrace, though when his other arm had wrapped itself around her, he wasn‘t certain.
The drums had stopped.
The Master sat there simply listening to the breath that fell from the unconscious woman in his arms.
Around him, the TARDIS sang as she traveled through the stars.
Hope y'all liked!!!!!!!
And thanks to the lovelies who helped me get this all ready for posting. *hugs*