Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 3,585
Warnings: the Master is sketchy and sex-starved; mild smut; some language; Shakespeare; shameless pop culture references; another S3 Master-as-a-really-bad-companion AU
Summary: In which the Doctor is oblivious and boring and depressed, so the Master takes matters into his own hands.
Author's Note: This fic was begun in a terminal at Mineta San Jose International Airport, continued on a twelve-hour flight to Heathrow, and finished in eltea's room in Oxford, which doesn't much matter to you but does to me. XD It wouldn't exist without the aforementioned not-so-evil super-genius (eltea), because she's the one who figures all of this stuff out and then explains it to me. This fic also has a sister fic, which is called Bumper's Last Stand, and which discusses very similar themes but has Jelly Babies as its central trope, rather than The Tempest. It frightens me how well that dichotomy sums me up. XD
Your charm so strongly works ’em
That if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender.
Dost thou think so, spirit?
Mine would, sir, were I human.
Subtlety and meaningful gazes and two-heartsfelt sighs were all good and well, but the Master had the approximate attention span of a gnat crossed with a goldfish, so after a day of completely misinterpreted hints, he simply spread himself provocatively on the Doctor’s bed and settled down to wait.
He had sketched out diagrammatic plans for a rather elegant vaporizer by the time he heard footsteps in the hall and hastily replaced the Doctor’s notebook on the nightstand. He’d have to make sure to take that out with him when he left—well, if he left. Ideally, the Doctor would renege on all of that “incorrigibly destructive” and “moral compass with a rusty needle and malfunctioning magnetics” nonsense, and the Master would inhabit their love nest pretty much permanently.
For now, he was in Stage One, which had to be executed flawlessly to ensure that Stages Two through Forty-Six could proceed. Accordingly, the Master stretched out, adjusted the sheets to draw them into an aesthetic tangle around his thighs, and supported himself on one bent arm, the better to display his sparing raiment.
He was going to make sure the Doctor appreciated the sparing raiment in question. He’d had to paint these black boxers himself—“VOTE SAXON” across the back and a check box on the front, which had proved to be a challenging design. He’d almost given up and settled for drawing a huge arrow pointing to the crotch.
His timing, at least, was impeccable: he had just assumed the prime position when the Doctor cracked the door open, slipped inside, and looked over the room critically, his right hand on the lock. The Master could think of at least three dozen better places the Doctor’s right hand could be, and that was just off the top of his head.
“What are you doing?” the Doctor asked after a long moment of processing the rather unequivocal grin-and-eyebrow thing the Master had been doing all this time.
The Master’s grin-and-eyebrow thing became more of a grimace-and-glare thing.
“Are you repressed?” he asked.
“What?” the Doctor said, looking startled now. “No. I’m the least repressed person I know. I’m the least repressed person Freud knows; he told me so.”
The Master folded his hands behind his head. “Smell that?”
“What? I don’t—”
“You don’t have to swear.”
“Believe me, Doctor, there is nothing that merits filthy language more than your unbelievable talent for denial.”
The Doctor shifted his weight, glancing at the wall. “Can you get out of my bed?”
The Master selected a pillow and snuggled with it suggestively. “No.”
“Can you stop molesting my belongings?”
The Doctor stuck out his bottom lip and pushed his hands into his pockets, collapsing his shoulders, which made him look significantly smaller than before. For such a completely tactless, feckless, brainless buffoon, he was really quite charming when he put his mind to it.
And quite emotionally manipulative, though the Master suspected a lot of that might be unintentional.
“Come on,” the Master bid him, patting the mattress and then smoothing a few slow circles on it with one hand. “Come to bed. I’ve warmed it up for you.”
The Doctor had started turning towards the door again, but now he hesitated, looking conflicted.
Progress. The Master could have done a jig. And he might have, if he hadn’t been so busy; he knew a couple good ones, just none that were erotic.
“Come on,” the Master purred again. “Long day. All those giant sand worms, and that very lost young man who almost got eaten by them—”
“Frank,” the Doctor murmured reflectively. “And he will write those books, though we’re not in them.”
“Lovely,” the Master said, though he couldn’t have cared less about displaced and replaced Earthlings’ literature if he’d tried. “Let me stroke the sand out of your hair and rub your shoulders, since you insist on carrying the weight of the universe on them at all times.”
“I do not,” the Doctor said, strangely blankly, having set a curious and distracted gaze on the painfully sexy Time Lord caught up in his bedsheets.
“You do so,” the Master responded, though he really didn’t fancy having this fight tonight. “Now come here and let me grope you.” He waved an invitational hand for good measure, and perhaps that was what did it, because the Doctor drifted over to the bed and sat down on the edge.
Slow progress, then, but progress all the same. The Master knew how to be patient whilst his brilliant schemes flowered and developed and spawned new brilliance.
He sat up and scooted closer to the Doctor, then slowly raised a hand and flattened his palm over the Doctor’s right shoulder-blade, one heart beating strongly. The Doctor flinched but didn’t pull away.
“Things are different,” he said, so quietly the Master had to lean in to hear. “You and I are different. We’re different every time. It’s a losing game. I’m always the wrong one. The wrong me. They always want the one they had first.”
“Don’t be stupid,” the Master said, though he was beginning to think his favorite idiot didn’t have much choice in the matter. He slid his hand down the Doctor’s back to press it gently at his hip. “You haven’t been this cute in centuries—maybe ever. I’d have to be mad to waste that.”
“You are mad,” the Doctor said dully.
“That’s not the point,” the Master replied. He elaborated before the Doctor could ask: “The point is that we should have steamy, sweaty, hot last-of-our-species sex, and then you’ll feel better.”
“That worm ate an entire caravan,” the Doctor said.
“Natural selection,” the Master said.
“It almost ate you.”
“Again, evolution at work.” The Master dragged his hand lingeringly up to the nape of the Doctor’s neck and curled his fingers in the soft hair he found. “Even the sand worms know my genes should be passed to the next generation. Which brings me back to the steamy, sweaty, hot sex subject.”
“We’re both here,” the Doctor said, mostly to himself. “So that’s all right. All right for now.” Apparently he had satisfied himself—what a gorgeous turn of phrase; the Master was having wonderful thoughts again—because as soon as he’d finished the sentence, he toed his trainers off and quietly lay down.
“That’s right,” the Master took up, coaxingly, squirming a little closer and starting to knead at the Doctor’s lower back.
“Yeah,” the Doctor said, and then, interestedly, as the Master probed hard at a tense place, “Oh.”
“Aren’t you going to take off your jacket to sleep?” the Master asked idly, and then, when the Doctor mumbled something noncommittal, he realized that he’d never seen him without it. They’d been trekking over sand dunes today, and he’d kept it on; they’d been traipsing through the rainforest last week, likewise. It was something he did so consistently that the Master hadn’t even noticed—he put layers of fabric between himself and the world, himself and the universe, himself and the people around him. It was a fortification. It was a wall.
“Take it off,” the Master ordered, tugging at it from behind. “Come on, I know you’re vain. Why aren’t you confident?”
“I am,” the Doctor said. “I’m borderline arrogant. Let go.” When the Master didn’t, he wriggled out of reach.
It just figured that the Doctor was foiling another excellent, if slightly dubious, plan for domination.
The Master scowled to himself for a minute or so, and then he regrouped.
“Doctor,” he said, softly, laying his hand on the narrow waist. “Tell me about it. Tell me what hurts.”
“I’m the man who makes people better,” the Doctor mumbled, but he didn’t move away.
“At your own expense, you masochist.” The Master rubbed gently at the Doctor’s hipbone, sensing the axis of the other Time Lord’s weight starting to shift closer to him. “Tell me. Tell me all the things you can’t tell the humans, can’t tell anyone, because they don’t have the capacity to understand.”
“I’m useless,” the Doctor mumbled. “I can’t fix things, can’t save things—what’s the point?”
“You sound like a bad drama film,” the Master told him.
“See?” The Doctor folded his arms beside him and hid his face in them. “Can’t even monologue properly. And I’ve met Shakespeare.”
“Have you?” the Master asked, interested now. “How was he?”
“Fantastic,” the Doctor sighed. “Extraordinary. Unlike some of us.”
“I refuse to be included in your funk,” the Master said. “I know quite well that I’m extraordinary. I’m the Shakespeare of my craft, which is a much rarer thing, with far fewer precedents. You…” He raked his fingers through the Doctor’s hair, as he’d used to do—dark now, and wild, but every bit as silky as he remembered it. “…are the same way.” This Doctor’s hair was the rightful successor to a long line of impressive heads. The way it was curling a little around his hand, as if to hold him there, the Master’s guess was that it was a little bit alive.
Fascinating. What an odd little Doctor he had this time around.
The Master—apparently unlike his odd little Doctor—had learned to take what he was given and turn it into what he’d been hoping for. Determination was a kind of hope, and there was nothing quite as motivating as a string of almost-successes.
He was not going to let the Doctor be an almost.
“’M not,” the Doctor mumbled, but he was just sulking now.
“I bet you saved him,” the Master said. “Didn’t you? And I bet you saved the whole stupid Earth while you were at it. Because that’s what you do. That’s where your instincts lead you, and that’s where you go, and you’re the reason there still is a universe to keep on saving.” The Master paused. This all sounded a bit too Chicken Soup for the Time Lord’s Soul. “Idiot,” he added helpfully.
“He saved himself,” the Doctor muttered. “I wasn’t even much help.”
“You reek of self-deprecating lies this evening,” the Master said, throwing an arm around him and trying not to be hurt by the way he tensed. “I’d bet two full lives you cured him of some writer’s block, at least. You can’t convince me The Tempest isn’t about you, certainly to some degree.”
“You’re delusional,” the Doctor replied. “It’s a play about an exiled wizard who marries off his daughter and then gives up his powers forever to be re-enfranchised. I don’t know why it’s not classified as a tragedy.”
Next time the Doctor was moping like a puppy with newspaper-shaped bruises, the Master was going to start out with the Shakespeare discussion.
“I don’t mean the stupid wizard,” the Master told him. “I mean Ariel.” He raised his eyebrows at the back of the Doctor’s head. “‘I drink the air before me, and return / Or ere your pulse twice beat’? You think that could be anyone but you?”
“Doctors in Shakespearean canon are charlatans and quacks,” the Doctor countered.
The Master poked his spine. “Maybe that’s because he never met an actual physician who lived up to you.”
The Doctor rolled over suddenly, bringing them abruptly face-to-face.
“But you hate me,” he said. “Why are you trying to make me feel better?” His eyes narrowed. “Is this all some sort of Rube Goldberg plan to let me down harder in the long run? I won’t buy it.”
“That’s fine,” the Master said. “I’ll give it to you for free. Also free of charge, a bit of advice: you’re an idiot. If I hated you, I’d’ve offed myself. It wouldn’t be difficult with all the explosives and sharp objects and toxic chemicals you leave lying around. Or I could just jump out of the TARDIS and suffocate in space, or aim for a star and make it quick. Or I could grab a gun any time we’re escapading and shoot myself before you wrested it away from me.”
“You’ve given this some thought,” the Doctor murmured.
“Really,” the Master went on, “it’s significantly harder to stay alive with you than it would be to get killed. Ergo my continued existence stands as evidence that I must be very fond of you indeed.” He paused. He had, as usual, said too much. “Despite myself. Of course.”
“Of course,” the Doctor said, with the first hint of a smile.
The Master frowned. “You owe me an entire night of steamy, sweaty… so on sex, now.”
“Why?” the Doctor asked, either because he was naïve or because he was a bastard, or most likely both. “Because I got you to admit that you like my company?” He stopped, considered, and began to pout. “I don’t in any way endorse that idea—trading sex like a commodity. That makes me sound like some kind of—you know.”
The Master knew. And the Master really wished the Doctor wouldn’t keep giving him such delectable mental images only to let him down.
“What’s so wrong with using sex as a bargaining piece?” he sighed. “I’ve been offering for weeks, and you’ve been ignoring every opportunity. If I have to blackmail you into it, that’s fine with me.”
The Doctor wrinkled his nose adorably. “That’s a bit sick.”
The Master smiled winningly. “Evil, remember?”
“Evil’s not about inherent qualities,” the Doctor told him; “it’s about choices. If you’d read Harry Potter, you’d know that.”
The Master yawned pointedly. “Never managed to wade through that tripe. Read the Wikipedia summaries, though.”
“Then you must be aware that Jo Rowling took over the world long before you did, with a book, instead of a Paradox Machine.”
The Master sniffed. “Humans have no sense of style.”
“Says the man who drops everything when ‘Teletubbies’ is on.”
“At least ‘Teletubbies’ doesn’t have magic wands and an illiterate giant in the first few chapters.”
The Doctor snorted. “Right, it just has a laughing baby trapped in the sun and a sentient vacuum-cleaner. I’m sorry; that makes so much more sense.”
“It’s modern art,” the Master said.
“It’s an acid trip,” the Doctor replied.
“And the Beatles would be nowhere if I hadn’t brought them that LSD,” the Master said triumphantly.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “I knew it wasn’t a coincidence that you married a woman named Lucy.”
“There’s no such thing as coincidences, Doctor,” the Master said smugly. “You, of all people, ought to know.”
They stared each other down for a moment, and then the Doctor sighed, his breath tickling the Master’s face.
“We can’t,” he said.
The Master struggled to disregard the creeping horror. “Can’t what?”
“Can’t have stea—can’t have sex,” the Doctor said, and both of the Master’s hearts sunk like stones, though they did twirl rather elegantly around each other as they plummeted coldly into his hope-heated gut.
Then the Master remembered a crucial detail of his existence: he was a Time Lord. He was, in fact, one of the last two, and if the other was going to insist on being a weepy, bewildered, befuddled, traumatized, extremely repressed sop all the time, that was simply more incentive for the Master to inherit all of their species’s drive, resolution, and rage.
The Master had always loved revenge.
Moving swiftly, too fast for the Doctor to posit any more pathetic little argument-like things, the Master rolled over and held himself up over the Doctor’s form, a hand planted above each of the Doctor’s shoulders, a knee on either side of his waist.
“Yes, we can,” the Master said.
The Doctor blinked up at him, his huge puppy eyes all rife with confusion and dismay. Fortunately, this was just the way the Master liked his quasi-enemies.
“But we can’t,” the Doctor repeated blankly. “They’re going to air the latest episode of ‘House’ in fifteen minutes, and I was at the hospital where Hugh Laurie was born, although I was distracted at the time by the disoriented adolescent Judoon—”
“You have a bloody time machine,” the Master hissed, repositioning one knee between the Doctor’s thighs and pressing it inward as unambiguously as physically possible. “The latest episode of ‘House’ is always airing in fifteen minutes, you twat.”
“’M not a twat,” the Doctor said, a little breathlessly, as he squirmed against the pressure of the Master’s knee.
“If you ceased to be a twat,” the Master said, sitting back just enough to loosen the Doctor’s tie, running the silken tail slowly through both hands; “and if you ceased to be an idiot, and if you ceased to be—” He leaned down, deftly undoing the whole row of buttons, jerking the Doctor’s shirt loose from where it had been tucked in. “—a total slut for me, you wouldn’t be anything at all. And that, my dear, stupid, beautiful Doctor—” He bent to suck hard on the Doctor’s lower lip without any attempt at a preface, grinding with his knee. “—would be truly evil.”
The Doctor moaned softly, arching up into the Master’s hands, his shirt falling open, his tie slipping sideways to crumple on the bed. He was still wearing that damned jacket, but the Master didn’t care, because he already knew what lay underneath.
The Doctor wanted a reprieve, however temporary, from the responsibility he always shouldered, no less crushing for its familiarity. He wanted to let go, to release all of the pretenses of pureness and magnanimity, and he wanted to be able to blame the lapse on someone else. He wanted to give himself over to someone he trusted—not trusted with his key or his feelings or his dignity, but trusted with the raw, bare, staggering essence well below the clothes and the civility.
He wanted the Master, and that inescapable truth was wonderful. Nine hundred years of striving and failing and sacrifice had burnt a lot of the light out of the Doctor, but time, in her infinite emptiness, had made him come around.
Sometimes, she did play fair.
So the Doctor rose, and the Master bent to him, and the Doctor’s hands fumbled at his shoulders, curled in his hair, slid slowly down his back and raked smooth fingernails along his spine.
And they were different. They were broken men now, fragmentary remnants of the bright-eyed, hopeful children they’d been when last they’d met this way. They were colder. They were darker. They were both insane. And they were so, so much more desperate not to be alone.
The Master had learned, in the interim, that getting what you needed outweighed everything else. He had learned that there was no compromise too great when the idol was on offer, and no vengeance too cruel when rejection was the prize instead. He had learned that a hurt gouged deep enough developed into a festering wound that would poison every vein and vessel as time went by. He had learned that deprivation corrupted, but he had no idea what fulfillment might do now.
The Doctor didn’t seem to know either, though he appeared to be equally willing to find out.
“Don’t,” he murmured, twisting, as the Master ran both hands slowly down his chest, skillfully undoing his trousers. “Don’t,” he repeated, louder, his voice edged with a hint of a wail as the Master pressed damp, languid kisses to his breastbone. “Don’t—don’t—ahh—”
The Master grasped his hipbones, one hand curling around each, tight enough to bruise, and hauled the Doctor’s pelvis up his own thigh, smashing their hips together. It would have been melodramatic to talk about sparks—about fireworks or starbursts or anything pretty and figurative, when that wasn’t true at all. There was nothing lofty about this flood of feeling; it was all lust and gratification deep past the stomach and scraping out of his throat as the whiteout overtook the drumming in his head for one blessed, fizzling moment—
“Don’t stop?” he breathed, dizzily tracking the flush that spread hotly through the Doctor’s cheeks and down his neck.
“Please,” the Doctor gasped, a spasm going through his slender body, his fingers clenching in the Master’s hair, “don’t—”
“Don’t hurt you?” the Master sneered. It was galling to admit it, but he was more injured by the implication that he would—would wound the scarred and battered creature beneath him beyond repair—than he was insulted by the cliché.
Either way, it couldn’t pass unaddressed, and he ducked to the Doctor’s throat, nipping at it, peppering the reddening skin with darker marks. He would show the Doctor hurt. Show him injury. Show him what it felt like to be claimed, cared for, loved, and then cast aside like so much refuse in favor of an imbecilic dream and an empty set of stars.
“Don’t—” The Doctor’s breath hitched, and he writhed as the Master’s hand closed tightly around his member and pulled off a long, slow stroke. “Don’t—”
“Don’t what?” the Master muttered, tensing every muscle in his body trying not to shiver as the Doctor wrapped both legs around him, heels digging into the small of his back.
The Doctor fisted his hands in the Master’s hair, clinging to him like a limpet on a bad day.
“Don’t leave me,” he said.
The Master paused, just for a moment, and then, softly, he laughed.
“Just try to get rid of me,” he said, “idiot.”