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Doctor Who Fic: A chink too wide

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  • Doctor Who Fic: A chink too wide

    Author: Rosamund
    Rating: PG-13
    Summary: Everyone keeps turning to dust, and in a world like that, everything is tarnished and drab. The Doctor remembers the Master.

    We have tested and tasted too much, lover ?
    Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.

    -Patrick Kavanagh

    He gets sick of watching everyone turned to dust. The bones of old friends, burnt and bleached, lost, not safe beneath red grass. He can't help the image of maggots crawling through decayed skin, worms in eyes that once held his. Sometimes he feels them in his own flesh, the man that should have died, but didn't. At moments like that, there's nothing to do but run.

    All the world's a stage, and he's such a good actor. He does not strut and fret his hour, but knows the gestures, the answers, how to perfect his charm and his mistakes.

    He never thought that things could become tarnished. That he could visit great cities and have to fain excitement. That he could look at Martha, and know she was enthusiastic and brilliant, and not care. Loosing Rose ripped a hole in his universe, rather than closing one.

    *

    He remembered brushing his knuckles against the Master's one afternoon, when they were teenagers. Just that: the ripple of desperate excitement that ran through him when he felt those warm bones dip against the back of his hand. There was nothing so exciting then as the merest hint of flesh on flesh: the Master's shoulder bumping against the skin beneath his collarbone, hair tickling his neck, or a finger lingering against the small of his back.

    *

    Although, that hole was always there, if he's honest with himself. It isn't easy to be honest with himself, and he doesn't do it often. He doesn't really believe he'll ever come to terms with this, ever be able to speak about Gallifrey. He can still feel the rocks of the Mountains of Solace and Solitude beneath his hands, still feel the cold burn of that air in his lungs, and it's hard to comprehend how they can be dust and nothing and silent.

    He's seen people being tortured. He remember so many pairs of eyes, after their bodies had been flayed, their organs toyed with, their bones broken, seen them guttering and choking and living with desperate, agonising breaths. He's held some of this bodies in his arms and killed them with utmost gentleness, because he's just kind enough for that. The memory of those eyes burns him.

    And he could have lived with all of that. He could have lived with pain and brutality and murder, because he's passionate, and he can never see these things and not care, and for all the evil he's seen, there's brilliance, too. But none of it compares to what he saw on the frontline of the Battle of Arcadia, and in the memory of that he is scorched, he's ashes, dust like everyone else he ever cared for.

    *

    Later those casual touched weren't close to enough for him. He remembers craving everything; no amount of tasting and feeling the Master would ever leave him satiated. His hands moved with such urgency, mapping the planes of the Master's body, above his clothes, beneath them, his tongue learning the flavour of everything: throat and mouth and **** and armpit and arse and stomach and the soles of his feet.

    The Master would look at him with faint humour, and even then he knew he was in his thrall. He'd see the pale fire in his eyes, as he lay spent and longing beside him.

    "Is nothing enough for you?" the Master would say, carefully arranging himself so no part of their bodies touched, sounding amused.

    No, no, no, the Doctor would think, and long for the feeling of him in his arms again, long to be ****ed again.

    "We're not going to be here forever, though, are we? What are you going to do without me, hm?"

    "What are you going to do without me?" the Doctor responded, somewhere between arrogant and pleading. "I'm good. I'm brilliant. You'll miss me."

    "You are good," the Master replied, and touched the Doctor's thigh speculatively with his finger, "but in all of time, I'm sure there's someone better than you."

    *

    "Don't you care about me?" the Doctor asked another time. "Do you only care about sex?"

    "Look at the sky," the Master responded, and the Doctor stared at the burnt orange, his eyes instinctively shying away from the brilliance of two suns.

    "What?"

    "There are places where the sky is blue," the Master said. "And pink."

    "I don't care about pink skies," the Doctor said, his gaze sliding easily back to the Master. "You're much more interesting than any planet, any city, any sky."

    "No, I'm not," the Master said. "I'm not. And neither are you."

    *

    He'd run for so long, from the endless intensity of stars and black holes and love. The Master was right, had been right all along, this was fascinating. How could he see all that was, all that ever will be, all that ever could be, and think the Master was everything?

    *

    He watched cities exploding and disappearing. He watched deserts and dust and wandered in caverns at the bottom of oceans. He thought so often of life coming to nothing and dust between his fingers, the dry dust of old lost bones sticking to the sweat of his palms.

    And then he remembered to throw it all away, to run, and save the world, and he did not have to be honest with himself. He never had to be honest with himself, as long as he kept moving.

    And it was fascinating.

    *

    "And where are we?" Rose asked.

    "Ah. This is far back. Earth is still covered in noxious gases and your sun is just a baby."

    "Yeah? So we're way back."

    "Mm."

    "And?"

    "And I've never been here before."

    "Really?" Rose pushed the door open and ran out. He watched her for a moment, trying not to remember the taste of someone else's skin beneath his tongue.

    "Doctor!" she called. "The sky's green!"

    *

    "You've been the best for so long, haven't you?" the Master said in the year that never was. "You're a Timelord and you're better, more brilliant than anyone else in the universe.

    "Until me, of course," and he grinned.

    "I'm good," the Doctor said. "I'm brilliant. But I'm not better than everyone else in the universe."

    "You've said you were before," the Master said, and his nails were sharp against the Doctor's cheek. "You could prove it."

    *

    The body shakes in his arms and he knows he's never held the Master quite like this before. Briefly, he remembers their hands entwining in lush red grass and a sense of adoration. There's still a sense of childish admiration as he shakes with anger and grief at the bastard who'll do anything to be better than him.

    He's sick of bones and dust and black suns. He burns the Master so he doesn't have to imagine maggots in those teasing, stubborn eyes.

    He's gone so far and seen so much. He never knew he could still love this tortured, desperate and sickening man, still long for him and need him and know he is everything. He feels the grief, and thinks he should be used to the desperate clamour of it, used to the burn of dead eyes watching him.

    He wakes, when he feels that grief, that desperate pain, and he remembers that this is all. He looks through the hole in his universe that Rose Tyler tore open, and he knows he is still full of wonder.
    "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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