Heart strung, young and dumb
Yeah, we had no fear
Way back when we said
We'd both be millionaire
Now those days are over
And we’re all ghosts
The grass is itchy against their legs, but they don’t mind it. The sun beats against their neck, sweat pools down their forehead, wind tears at their face and makes their eyes water but the pounding in their ears silences it out.
In the corner of their eye, they see a flash of dark hair, and smile unconsciously. Their friend chases after them, grinning wildly and throwing threats at them. They’re planning tag and they’ve always been faster, but then he opens his mouth and words not coloured in the thought of losing come through, through the wind and through their mind.
“Hey, watch out!”
The warning comes to late and their foot connects with something hidden in the grass, and they go tumbling forward.
Their chin is the first thing that connects with the dirt, making their teeth knock together and brain rattle. Then their arms get awkwardly pinned beneath their chest in an effort to stop their descent. Then they register how their legs were stinging as the skin got scraped by whatever had caused their fall in the first place.
Before they can push themself up, however, their friend collapses on top of them.
“Hey! Get off!” They yell through the pain. In their fall, their friends elbow had banged awkwardly against the back of their head and their knee had slammed in their lower back. That was definitely gonna bruise.
Their friend rolls off them, and they groan as their entire body starts aching. They turn so they’re on their back and looking up at the sky, sparing a quick glance to see what they had tripped over — a rock, hidden in the wild red grass. From their position, they can’t see much expect the dark red and orange swirling sky.
Slowly, they sit up, their friend following in suit. Off in the distance, they see their friends house, and the twin suns framing it like a portrait.
“Hey, you’re bleeding.” Their friend points out, gingerly reaching out to brush his fingers over their chin. They wince as the raw skin rubs again this fingertips, and he retracts his hand as if he was burned. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine.” They mumble. A quick scan over themself show scrapped legs and small dots of blood on their pale skin, pants torn, and they sigh.
However, their friend is moving beside them, rustling the grass, and they turn to see him stand up. He dusts off his clothes of dirt (that doesn’t really come close to making him appear cleaner, though) and offers his hand to pull them up.
“Come on. Better get back to my house.” He says. “I have some bandages. My father will terribly upset if you go home injured.”
They accept his hand and let themself be pulled up. “I’m not injured. Just scraped.”
“That’s the definition of injured.” He shoots back. “If I have to heal you, you’re injured.”
They scowl and cross their arms in defiance, but that ends that argument. One of the biggest factors of their friendship was stupid arguments that lead no where. “Fine. At least I won the game.”
“You didn’t win!” He cries as they start walking back to his home. “I caught you.”
“You fell on me. There’s a difference.” They grin as he splutters and defends himself. They forget the stinging in their legs and chin and body as they argue and they’re off again.
We used to sleep all day and talk all night
Stay up by the TV light (oh, oh)
When your baby teeth ain't milky white
Wipe the stardust from your eyes (oh, oh)
I said "oh come on love, we'll be just fine
We're gonna live just like it's 1999"
They meet for the first and last time on a battlefield, because of course they do.
The Timelords have won this time, the carnage of broken Daleks a sea of twisted metal and debris. Everyone else had already vacated, no need to stay when the battle had already been won. The acrid fumes make them want to puke, but they force themself to go slow on their way back to the TARDIS, making sure all the Daleks aren’t twitching.
They don’t want to think about it.
“I’m liking the silver fox look. Your last few have been too young.”
They whip around to see him standing behind them in the wreckage. Despite the battlefield, and their past history of violence, they feel a bit calmer to see him. “Well, it’s not like I get a say in the matter.”
The Masters face does that odd thing where it furrows in confusion, which is not something that happens often, but it was gone before they could focus on it.
When they were younger, they would dip into eachothers minds so often it was like second nature. Now, after years of separation and ripping up the pathway in fits of anger and frustration, it was hard to find it. However, in the traumatizing ... situation around them, they could feel their mind automatically reach out towards his.
They’re met with solid walls.
“I’m running away.” He says, as if they hadn’t told him that exact thing, all those years ago on Gallifrey. “I’m not fighting in this war any longer.”
They frown. “They’ll hunt you down. They’ll kill you for defecting.”
They had honestly been surprised when they heard he was fighting in the war, but it was only later did they learn Rassilon had sent messengers out to all the Timelords hidden in all the corners of the universe — come fight with Gallifrey, or fall against it.
They thought of Susan. Stranded, stuck. They had heard no word of her, from her or about her. They took that as positive, but they had always been an optimism.
The Master blinks at them, tilts his head. They nudge at a piece of burnt casing with the toe of their boot in distraction.
“I know.” He states. “That’s why I have a plan. Do you think I wouldn’t?”
They don’t ask what it is. There’s a whole bunch of different scenarios that could play out, ways to hide. They know because they’ve thought of them all before. But they’ve always ran from their problems, and told themselves they’ll come to a stop and deal with them eventually. He had no qualms about facing his demons. He hid and waited for them to pass them by, and then forgot about it.
If there was anyone who could hide from the Timelords, it was him.
(He hid and they ran. Patterns and patterns and circles and circles.)
“I never doubted it.” They reply when they realize he wants an answer.
He laughs, bitter and angry. It matches perfectly with the wind whistling through the destroyed Dalek casing and overarching silence of the battlefield. It’s the opposite of the eleventh hour, and they hear a clock ticking. Acrid smell in their nose, something squishy under their boot.
“I guess this is farewell, my dear Doctor.” He says when the laughter trails to an end.
“I guess it is.” They reply.
Neither of them say goodbye. Now that’s a word with way to many things stuffed into it. They much prefer hello, but that doesn’t work here. What they say instead is. “I’ll keep them off your back.”
“I never doubted it.” He smiles, and for once it’s not filled with glass and razor blades. It’s truthful, and they smile back, though both are tinted with sorrow. Patterns of sharp and sad things.
Good luck. It comes through in their head.
There’s nothing more to say, so he turns on his heel and marches across the empty battlefield. He kicks at the debris for giggles and whistles some mindless tune. They remember running across a red field not stained with blood and something pangs in their chest that makes them swallowed back bile again.
The sun on this planet is setting by the time he disappears into a rock way off from them (stolen TARDIS, then. One last fuck you to the Timelords.) and they don’t move until it disappears. The light casts a haunting purple glow over the entire place, and they take a deep, shakey breath.
They turn towards where their TARDIS waits, and don’t look back.
“Everything's changed!” They pound their fists against their own TARDIS, their own ship they’re locked out of. “It's only the two of us! We're the only ones left!” Their voice cracks on the final word. “Just let me in!”
And stars , it is. It’s just them and him at the end of the universe, end of the Earth.
“Killed by an insect. A girl. How inappropriate.” The words come through the door, or maybe in their head, Yanas words — no, not Yana. Professor Yana was a soft silly old man hiding in his laboratory. This was the Master, their oldest friend and oldest enemy and one can’t exist without the other, how could they not have seen that.
“Still, if the Doctor can be young and strong, then so can I.” The Master breaths. Maybe in the TARDIS, maybe in their head. “The Master reborn.”
They watch the golden glow through the TARDIS window, and silent words form on their lips because they’re not alone, anymore. Not the last one left, there’s someone else. Their hands curl into fists, nails digging into their palms hard enough to draw blood, and —
then a year, a hour, a minute later, time that never was and never will be expect in the minds of a few selected people, there’s a gunshot ricocheting in their ears and a thump as the Master falls to the ground.
Their feet move before the shock sets in, converses slapping on tiles as they grab their friend before he hits the floor and scraps his legs. “There you go.” They mummer softly. “I've got you. I've got you.”
The Master chuckles bitterly. “Always the women.”
They hug him close, feeling the two hearts beat against their own, gradually slowly. One of their hands stray to the bullet wound, golden red blood trickling between their fingers. “I didn’t see her.”
And I didn’t see you, till it was too late .
“Dying in your arms.” He breaths. Maybe aloud, maybe in their head. “Happy now?”
“You're not dying. Don't be stupid.” They reply. Death could never hold him. “It's only a bullet. Just regenerate.”
“One little bullet.” Their voice breaks on the last syllable. “Come on.”
“I guess you don't know me so well.” He spits. “I refuse.”
“Regenerate. Just regenerate.” They plead, but they know it’s no use. It’s like they were kids, he would do something because they asked him not too. “Please. Please! Just regenerate. Come on.”
“And spend the rest of my life imprisoned with you?” He asks. He’s growing weaker, shifting closer to their warmth despite the poison in his words.
“You've got to. Come on. It can't end like this.” They say, voice barley audible. “You and me, all the things we've done. Axons. Remember the Axons? And the Daleks. We're the only two left. There's no one else.” They can’t be alone again. The emptiness will eat them up inside. They can’t — “Regenerate!”
“How about that. I win.” He whispers, hands curling into their shirt, eyes going glassy. “Will it stop, Doctor? The drumming. Will it stop?”
He goes limp in their arms and no sound comes from their lips.
Back then we were trading
Cards behind the swings
Oh no, now it's money, gold, and diamond rings
Now those days are over
And we‘re all ghosts
“He's to blame, not me. Oh, the link is inside my head.” The Master is frighteningly still, a contrast to how much he was moving before. Wilfred is stuck in the booth and shards of glass spray across the ground, the revolver is heavy in their hands as he continues. “Kill me, the link gets broken, they go back.”
They never liked Rassilon. Still don’t. He was alway to big headed, full of himself to the point he would burst. And yes, the Master was insane and crazy and whatever synonym you choose to describe him as, but he was their friend.
“You never would, you coward.” Their best friend sneers. “Go on then. Do it.”
They aim the revolver at the Lord President. The Master chatters behind them, like a deadly songbird, but Rassilon just frowns as if this was a minor annoyance. However, they notice the fear hidden in his eyes, cloaked under loathing, and it makes them feel just a little bit better.
“The final act of your life is murder.” He says. “But which one of us?”
Behind the Lord President, one of the Timelords cursed to be an angel lowers her hands. She looks over their shoulder, behind them, and they realize what she’s staring at. They turn with a flourish, the revolver clicks in their hand, and if that a bit of sorrow in their friends eyes?
“Get out of the way.” They say.
He dives and they fire and the white-point star shatters like the glass ceiling.
The link explodes. There’s a quick flash of light, then a cry of terror as the Timelords began to be sucked away. They turn in time, suit frayed and blood pooling down their forehead, to find Rassilon staring at them with furious eyes. And he looks incredibly pissed off, which is never a good thing.
“The link is broken. Back into the Time War, Rassilon.” They state, thinking all the way back to the barn in the desert. “Back into hell.”
Something chants in their head as Rassilon growls at him and lifts his fist. “You'll die with me, Doctor.”
They never planned to come out of this alive. “I know.”
He aims his gauntlet at them. The Woman covers her face. There’s fire, somewhere they think, and Wilfred is still stuck in the booth. They take a deep breath, prepared to face this with some dignity, then there’s footsteps behind them and they turn.
“Get out of the way.” Their best friend says, and they’re not one who needs to be told twice.
We used to sleep all day and talk all night
Stay up by the TV light (oh, oh)
When your baby teeth ain't milky white
Wipe the stardust from your eyes (oh, oh)
I said "oh come on love, we'll be just fine
We're gonna live just like it's 1999"
“Stop shouting, love. Stop making a fuss.” The woman grabs their arm in a tight grip, flashing the humans a toothy smile of razor blades. She turns to them and drawls. “It's too late. All the graves of planet Earth are about to give birth. You know the key strategic weakness of the human race?” She leans close. “The dead outnumber the living.”
“Who are you?” They ask. She seems familiar, dressed in purple, hat posed elegantly on a head of dark curls. She smells like charred metal covered in a wave of flowery perfume. Familiar, familiar.
“Oh, you know who I am.” She says and they don’t, they don’t, but do they? “I'm Missy.”
“Who's Missy?” They ask over the pounding of Cybermen, the screams of people.
“Please, try to keep up.” Her grip tightens on their arm, fingernails digging into their clothing. Her smile is devilish when she looked up at them. “Short for Mistress.”
Her grin grows as it dawns on them. And oh, that’s where. Familiar, familiar. Dead, dead, dead, how was she alive, the white point star, how was she —
And later they ask, in the vault hidden beneath a building that was now a university. Nardole is upstairs (he doesn’t know they’re there, he would be appalled to find out) and that new student they took on, Bill, from the canteen, she went home a few hours ago. They’re alone.
They walk in to see her sprawled on one of the chairs. When they enter, her mouth twitches and she springs up. Missys lost her purple and her hat but her fingers and teeth are still the same when she grabs the lapels of their jacket and smiles sharply up at them.
“Well, Professor .” She greets. After a moment, she lets go, smooths out the fabric, and takes a few steps back, poised like a dancer. Even after years of confinement, which was really just a blink of the eye to Timelords, she still hadn’t lost her charm.
“I’m here to ask you something.” They state. She begins to wander aimlessly around the room, kicking at table legs and humming some mindless tune.
“And?” She prompts. “Come on, don’t leave me waiting.”
After a brief pause, they decide to get it over with. “How did you escape Rassilon?”
She pauses, entire body going still in a mere second. Her hands fall to her sides and she is very defiantly not looking at them when she answers. “A good magician never reveals her secrets.”
Sensitive subject, then. They let it drop and shatter on the floor.
“Really?” They reply, hoping their voice is light. “I always saw you as more of a witch.”
She flashes them a grin over her shoulder, picks up the shards and turns them into a smile and purple clothing. They smile back, it’s softer, but by no means less deadly.
Two Masters, it isn’t that bad. Compared to everything else going on, at least they distract eachother.
“Listen, me and sis are off now, but we were kind of wondering, what's your plan, Doc?” The Saxon incarnation flips whatever he’s holding in his hand. They can’t tell what it is, but they’re more wondering how he escaped the Timelords. Missy didn’t talk about it, but maybe he would.
But now they don’t have time to ask and probably now never will.
“Because whatever you've got, you can't save them.” Missy adds.
They growl, low and angry. They don’t understand, of course. They never expected them too. “There's another solar farm five levels above us. If I can get all the children up there, and most of the adults —“
“Then the Cybermen will find them again.” Saxon stills his hand and turns to stare pointedly at them.
“It's the best I can do, so I'm doing it.” They reply. They think of Bill, converted at his call. “Do you have a problem with that?”
Saxons mouth settles into a thin frown at their optimism. They’ve always been one, and he knows it. “You can't win.”
“I know!” They snap. “And?”
Saxon stares at them for a long, long moment, enough for silence to stretch across their brain, before pushing himself off the fence post he was leaning against. “Come on, Lady Version.” He says. “I honestly don't know what you see in him.”
“Likewise.” And oh, that’s not was they expected.
“No! No!” They cry, but the two keep walking. “When I say no, you turn back around.”
They sprint after the two, barley mindful of their injury and catches up with them. Missy stops and turns, Saxon is about to keep going until she grabs his arm in deadlocked fingers.
“Hey!” Got their attention, the deadly songbirds. “I'm going to be dead in a few hours, so before I go, let's have this out, you and me, once and for all.”
They talk. They talk and blabber because this is their oldest friend, and even if Saxon is more cut then before and Missy has began to soften around the edges, they alway end up here. Spinning around eachother and dancing and “join me, join us” and they want their friend back.
“Why not, just at the end, just be kind?” They finish their speech. Eyes dance around their face in the quiet. A lone bird chirps
“See this face?” Saxon breaks the silence by stalking over. They don’t know what happened between him the Timelords, and they don’t want to know. “Take a good, long look at it. This is the face that didn't listen to a word you just said.”
He walks off, but that’s what they expected. They turn to Missy, razor blade edges dulled, frayed around the edges. She was better, she was trying to be.
“Missy.” They whisper. They think of the graveyard, of Clara, hugging Danny, of the vault and Bill, converted at their past hands. “Missy. You've changed. I know you have. And I know what you're capable of. Stand with me. It's all I've ever wanted.
“Me too.” She replies, voice hushed. And for a moment, they see it in her eyes, he fete fixated on the ground, but then she deflates. “But no. Sorry. Just, no.”
She grabs their hand. Hers is cold and matches the frozen betrayal in their hearts. “But thanks for trying.”
She lets go and marches away, ice pooling off her feet, and their belief crumbles.
Oh, oh no, where does it go?
Well whatever fill your body up with chemicals
Oh, oh no, kaleidoscopes
Well whatever living better in, in —
“No, no, no.” They scold, still leaning on the airplane seat, trying to catch their breath. O stares at then, wide eyed, and something dings in the back of their mind.
“I read your file. You were a champion sprinter.”
And then it’s like a light switch. All the soft colours and warm edges that make up MI6 agent crumble. His smile becomes manic, full of teeth and tongue as he purrs. “Mmm. Got me. Well done.”
“What's going on, Doc?” Graham asks, eyes flickering between them and O. O, who was like an entirely different person, in his eyes and body and smile.
“I don't know.” They mumble back, because they really don’t.
O hummed, then gestured to the side of the plane. “You'd best take a look out of the window.”
Their companions rush to the window, and they spare a glance. A blocky shape, flying in the air, and the gears in their mind turn. How could his house be here? It had seem like a normal bungalow, the TARDIS didn’t pick up anything, and only one type of ship in the universe could cloak itself from a TARDIS —
“Oh, come on, Doctor, catch up.” O claps his hands and bounces on his heels, familiar and different at the same time. “You can do it. Come on.”
It dawns on them, like a lighting bolt to the chest, like a revolver in their hand. “Oh!”
“That's - that's my name, and that is why I chose it. Oh, so satisfying.” O twitters, a deadly songbird, let loose. “Doctor, I did say look for the spymaster. Or should I say spy ... Master?” He waves, the last pieces of O slipping from his face. “Hi.”
“You can't be.” They whisper.
“Oh, I can be. I very much am.” He says back.
And their mind goes to Missy, all those times ago. Ice in her veins, melting slowly. Their companions are confused, and he answers their questions in a joyful matter that does not match the hurt swirling in their hearts.
Missy. They thought Missy was dead, they thought —
“I met O.”
“I know!” He laughs and crinkles his eyes and how had they ever thought this man was O?
It explains so much, when they reflect on it. How O had an open mind, how he had so much technology in his cabin in the middle of the outback. Frozen over, a four-four drumbeat, and they feel the grass tinkling their legs, a fire burning in their chest.
Barton is barley an after thought, so of course he’s not in the cockpit, replaced with a bomb instead. They try their sonic screwdriver despite knowing it won’t work (he knows them too well, way, way too well) and hears him shriek at them, ‘sonic-proof, Doctor!’, and their entire body is torn between numbness and burning.
“Stick with me, Yaz,” They hear the smile in his voice as he croons at their companion, they hate it, “cus’ I control … everything. Even these guys.”
He whistles and clicks his fingers, spinning in a circle like an entertainer. Two light aliens appear, glowing in the small space. They spare a glance outside, can’t stare too long without their eyes watering, and when they turn back the bomb timer is down to 0.08.
“I can't do it!” They rush out, feet barley touching the ground. Clouds wave hello through the windows. “Get away!”
They get out and slam the cockpit door close just in time as the bomb explodes. The momentum sends them tumbling to the floor with a yelp. The cabin decompresses, they can’t breath (from the thinning air or the words caught in their throat, their lungs, they don’t know), and the plane goes spiralling down.
The humans yell in fear. The Master only grabs a seat to steady himself and he glares down at them. The light aliens stand strong, the only ones not caught in the roaring downfall.
“One last thing.” He says, eyes twinkling. “Something you should know in the seconds before you die.”
They’re not dying today. Still too much unfinished business between them. Missy behind their eyelids.
“Everything that you think you know .... is a lie .” They barley have time to process it because he smiles again, showing off razorblade teeth, and something is in his hand. Teleport. “Got you. Finally.”
He vanishes. Then there’s a blinding light, and they’re gone too.
“How are you here?”
He ignores the question, and extends his hand to them, eyes fixed on their faces and ignoring all the humans staring on in horror. “Take my hand.”
“Never.” They snarl, because they did that once and never again.
“Take my hand or I turn them into tiny human dolls right here.” He gestures to the three humans, and she glanced at them, Ryan, glaring, while the other two torn between a mix of confusion and fear.
“How have you connected Gallifrey to that Boundary?” They finally ask, because they know he’s not joking but they don’t want to go with him. They’ve always been an optimism, but not today.
“Fine.” He frowns, face twisting. “You really want me to show you I'm serious? Eenie, meenie, miney —” He reaches forward and grabs their hand. It’s warm and calloused and everything Missy wasn’t. “Miney.”
“Fine, I'll play your game.” They don’t have a choice. They turn to the humans. Ryan looks like he’s about the fight the Master head on, but they offer what they hope is a comforting smile to placate him. “I'll be back.”
”They won't.” He says, making them turn again. He adds in a deadly tone. “And it's not a game. Good luck, humans.”
Then they’re standing in the ruins of their home, all red fields burnt to a crisp. The sky clouded in smoke, houses burned to the group. They wonder if that rock they tripped over all those years ago is still there, hidden in the char and ash. It reminds them of a battlefield.
It makes something akin to sadness grow in their chest. At seeing their home was again destroyed, once again burned. Gallifrey falls again, and a spark is set alight in their chest.
Stars , they’re angry. Angry at him, for standing down, angry at him for destroying their home. They’ve done it before, they know what it feels like, and despite it all they care for him enough that they don’t want that guilt on his conscious (and a small, selfish part of that wishes he does as a punishment for leaving them.)
He doesn’t seem bothered by it.
“Look upon my work, Doctor, and despair.” He says. “Remember how we used to run through those streets as children? The alleys where we'd hide from Borusa as we skipped classes?” He gestures around at his masterpiece, his portrait, his artwork. “All gone now.”
He comes to stand beside them, watching the lingering smoke dance in the sky. “Come on, ask me why I did this.”
“Why did you do this?” They ask, because they can’t help themself. They’ve seen this scene one to many times.
“Not telling you.” He laughs. Noticing their crestfallen look, stops. “Oh, crack a smile.”
That makes the spake ignite and roar like a fire, burning in their chest, and they growl. “Proud of yourself?”
“All this death,” They turn to stare at him, and find nothing but a drumbeat. “finally made you happy?”
“Ecstatic.” Tongue in teeth, stretched across his face.
They lean closer, feeling the dust on their face, wind in their hair, and a bitter smile climbs over their mouth. They can sharpen themselves, too, ice and fire don’t play well together.
“And has it calmed all the rage?”
That makes him pause, and they revel in it. “I don't think anything will ever do that.”
Sega's my Ferrari
I got it, I love it, I,
Got Sony electronics
I got it, I love it, I, I
His voice screaming their name is the last thing they hear. And oh . There’s all the emotions he’s been hiding, hidden in the grass, the battlefield, the gunshot, the vault. Sharpened teeth, quick tongue. Oh, oh, it’s familiar but it the worse way.
Circles and pattens and circles and patterns.
They run, because they’re a coward. They’ve always ran from their problems, ran from him, because it’s really the only thing they’ve ever learned how to do. The times they’ve stayed still the most, stopping moving, was with their best friend. A deadly, twittering songbird with razor blade smiles and filled with ice.
Not for long. Never for long. Patterns and circles.
They’re two sides of the same coin, one can’t exist without the other. It didn’t matter where you went or how much you tried to avoid it, you would never escape. They’re like two stars caught in orbit, forever caught circling and patterning.
So let the shards shatter on the floor, purple reflected in the mirror. No rocks too trip over, no doors to hide their stride. Something glowing, someone yelling. The smell makes them want to throw up. Hard sad things under their boot. Tongue in teeth, I want my friend back —
Their friend is standing deadly still to hide, all the way back. They’re running, all the way forward, and that’s really the only thing you need to know about them.