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Doctor Who: "The Blue Depth of the Sky"

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  • Doctor Who: "The Blue Depth of the Sky"

    Plot Summary:
    Spoiler:
    The Master doesn't die in The Last of the Timelords.
    Slashy but nothing remotely graphic.

    The Blue Depth of the Sky
    by Rosamund

    On bad nights the Doctor imagined moths fluttering into the TARDIS. How they got there was not important, it was their grey shapes. He imagined their bodies filling the rooms, brushing against his cheeks, worming their way between the machines. Sliding into the Master's mouth, into his ears, his eyes, exploring his brain.

    Moths' flight is more definite than that of butterflies. They move confidently towards the light. Butterflies waft on the breeze, seeming to flounder frantically in the currents of air, so much that he wondered how they ever managed to migrate anywhere.

    The moths the Doctor imagined were steady and calm. He thought often about their delicate antennae, the chalky powder that rubbed off their wings and stained the fingers. He imagined them filling the room, as quietly and definitely as a snowstorm at night, covering every crevice, torturously tickling him with their fine legs.

    He tied the Master up at night, his hands working with a strange gentle firmness he never thought he possessed. During the day he could stand the Master's ceaseless prowling, his struggles to escape. He felt a strange fierce pride in the Master when he realised he wasn't going to give up.

    At night the Master shouted and swore and tapped out the rhythm with his feet. It echoed endlessly in the metal prison.

    *

    Sometimes they would go out into the light, never roaming far from the TARDIS. The birdcage, the Master called it, and the Doctor wondered if it was kindness that stopped him from calling it a prison.

    Because he was kinder in the sunlight. His hands would sometimes touch the Doctor vaguely, in the most innocuous of places: his wrists, the inside of his knee, between his shoulder blades. He could still smile, and underneath the smugness and despair, that smile contained a kind of casual complicity that the Doctor longed for.

    He still remembered lying in the artificial light of some spaceship, watching as stars burnt and died in the distance, far away from him.

    "They're never far away," the Master had said beside him. His hand rested at the small of the Doctor's back, his pupils too wide as he took in the night. The Doctor had watched the gentle white lights flickering. "Never far away enough."

    He hadn't understood then. He'd rolled over and looked away from the segment of stars, and at the Master's face in the harsh light. He tucked his hand into the warm space between the side of the Master's chest and his upper arm and they'd found something to laugh at.

    The Doctor knew what he meant now. He could not look at space without feeling the stars burn, without feeling them die.

    *

    "Doctor, Doctor," the Master would crow. "Not pathetic enough yet? Still letting me stand here, still longing for me?"

    The Doctor never had words for him now, except his plaintive "I forgive you", which sounded trite and insignificant even to his own ears.

    "You could play some music. You could liven this place up. We could dance."

    The Doctor watched him.

    "Or we could destroy. Don't you ever get sick of it? Sitting here, listening to me. Don't I make you angry? Don't you want to grind me between your hands and hear all the little bones in my face breaking?"

    The Master paused, pacing around the Doctor like a lion.

    "Or, no, you won't hurt me, will you? But don't you want to hurt someone, something? Don't you want to watch someone disappear? Don't you want that power?"

    The Doctor caught him as he paced and rested his fingers on his temples.

    "That isn't power," he said as the Master shook him off.

    "There's no point, there are no words to make you see, to make you see anything. You're stuck in your straight lines, in your goodness, in your righteousness, in your polite, kind world. And you know you could be so much more than that. I've seen you ? I've?"

    "I'm not kind," the Doctor said.

    "No," the Master said. "The only real kindness would be a bullet in the back of the head. A knife to the throat. To let me burn at the heart of a supernova."

    "And I'm selfish," the Doctor said, burying his face in the Master's neck, knowing he would be pushed away. Muffled against the Master's skin, he whispered, "I'm sorry."

    "Are we going to wait here for all eternity?" the Master said, breaking away from the Doctor.

    "I don't know," he said. "I don't know."

    *

    Outside the endless walls of the TARDIS, their bodies found each other more freely. Those casual touched the Doctor associated with real intimacy.

    "Will it ever stop?" the Master asked as the Doctor placed one cool finger to his hot temple. "Will there ever be silence?"

    And the Doctor could only look into the blue depth of the sky and quake.

    *

    On the worst nights, the Master didn't keep still, but tugged and tugged at his bonds and screamed. When the Doctor touched his stiff spine, he coiled tighter, all tensed like a cat with a bird.

    "Why?" the Master would look at him with the twisted expression of violent despair. "Why?"

    Sometimes the Master would submit to being held in his arms, while the Doctor listened to his deep rasping breaths and forgot his own guilt. The Master, with his bound arms, could not cling to the Doctor, but sometimes his form would sag against him. The Doctor could smell him, so sweaty and human, and he'd remember why he was doing this.

    He nestled his head against the Master's chest and listened to the rhythm of his heart.
    "When people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, 'You like stuff', which is just not a good insult at all, like 'You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness'."
    -John Green
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