Author's Notes:
The Master is, of course, singing Leonard Cohen.

I began a note about why I was writing this and it turned into an entire essay. That is here.

By the way, for this story I'm envisioning old!Ten as someone actually looking/moving like a really old version of David Tennant ... not like David Tennant buried in overly grotesque, silly facial appliances. Just FYI.

It is easier to be a kept man, when you are a Time Lord. Time, you see, the passage of time, drives most of us insane -- the way it moves in fits and starts, the way it flutters and wheels or seeps through the frame like thick molasses. The way it doesn't behave.

When you are a Time Lord, time always behaves. You are aware the trees outside the train are not going faster the other way. The train is really not moving very much, either, but you know where you are and where you're going and how those points correspond to each other. You don't feel like some small creature kidnapped by the movements of forces around you. You transcend the tyranny of waiting.

Also, you're already insane. You've never found this especially to be a problem.


You're very old, though.

This is the result of time travel, too: internal time travel. You know what the Master has done; he's simply caught you up to yourself a little. Technically, having traversed trillions of years, you are potentially infinitely old. Age is only the potential rebound of the distance we've been.

Normally, your body doesn't use this as an excuse to damage itself. It's too smart for that.

It takes a very long time -- or external intervention.

You wonder why he picked this way of all ways to hurt you. After all, you've been old before. The first time, you didn't even want to give in and renew yourself. You thought, I'm just fine the way I am.

But listening to the Master speak, watching with your eyes as the sharp words come out of that cruel young mouth, you think growing old as a human might have treated him differently. It might have left a memory on him of mortality, pain, the urgency of despair; the isolation, ultimately, of not knowing the words.


He wheels you to the portal window and drapes his arms around you from behind, hugging your neck in a gesture slightly too tight to be affectionate. The pressure is not enough to dizzy, just to threaten, to remind you of where he has you and what he can do.

He's in one of his friendly moods.

You could almost forget eight hundred years of your life, if he would let you.

"Speak to me," he says in your ear. The breath is warm but not the warmth of a human's. It's strangely comforting.

"Release my friends."

"Forget them, Doctor," he says. "Forget them. I'll end it cleanly, if that helps. All you have to do is tell me you're giving up on them, and the Earth will burn, and you will be free and young again -- whole universe in front of you. Let go."

You'd forget eight hundred years of your life, but you could never forget your friends. He knows your answer, so you rest your voice.

He dangles at your neck some more and then stands up and spins around in front of you, singing. Serenading, passionately, in a drunken voice. Not that he's drunk in any form; it's only his vanity. The song, you see, sounds better that way.

"Your faith was strong, but you needed proof... You saaaaw him bathing on the roof... his beauty and the moooonlight overthrew you. He tied you to a kitchen chair, he broke your throne, he cut your hair... and from your lips he drew the halleluuuujah."

Whatever he is trying to do -- invoke fear, or irritation, or pity -- you are irritated with him and also, inescapably, moved.

As the Master choruses hallelujah again and again his head sways back and forth, rhythmic, entranced. He caves to his knees in front of you, a mocking twist to his lips, and runs a finger tenderly down your cheek.

Then a switch flips. He grabs you by the lapels, jerks your body forward. "I'm doing this for you," he says. "You're very grateful, aren't you? Show some gratitude." He lets you slide back into the chair. "If someone like me were serenading me with Leonard Cohen songs, I'd have my cock out already. Where'd you learn your manners?"

He's working himself up again, his temper climbing. There are much worse things than letting him have his way; there are other people here who can't take it. You reach down with a shaking hand and unzip your trousers.

"I need applause," he says, his voice vaulting upward with tension. "I need to know I'm appreciated here. I'm your best act, you know. If I quit, I would have to find something. else. to do." He bites off those last words in a steady rage. "But there are lots of things to do around here, aren't there? Oh yes everything. Maybe we could bomb the Netherlands. Or just disable the pump system. That's slower and more fun. And throw ev'ryone a ring of flower garlands on the water..."

You can tell by the cadence and the distance of his voice that he's listening to the drums again. "No," you say, to break through to him, and fumble with your briefs.

His voice gets quieter again, deeper, his face reverting instantly to a veneer of calm. "Oh good."

You curl your stiff, weakened fingers around your member and begin to stroke.

The Master starts to sing again as if you've put a penny in the jukebox. "I've been here before... I've seen this room, and I've..."

Your circulation isn't very good, but you concentrate on how good it feels to trace your fingers over your skin, and your body responds, slowly, like the way old Earth cars took time to warm up in the morning. Your cock hardens in your hand a little, taking on a rubbery, half-mast quality, becoming more sensitive.

"I've seen your flag on the marble arch... But love is not a vict'ry maaarch... it's a cold and it's a broken halleluuuuujah..." The Master's voice cracks on the high note, and he sings the chorus with a dark, intense reverence.

The stirring is more intense now, the sensation more internal than external. The flesh of your cock won't go much further than this, heavy and malleable in your hand. Perhaps he will be disappointed, and use one of his devices to force your body into another configuration, you think, but when you look in his eyes they aren't disappointed at all. He's gazing at you with a look of utter, deranged enthrallment.

You don't have to wonder what could push a man to this, because you know. Because the joy of being with one of your kind, after everything, sends a thrum of deep sweet calm and respite through your whole consciousness, and that, under the circumstances, is madness. Breath goes in and out roughly as you run your palm up and down, knead at yourself with your fingers.

"There was a time when you let me knoooow... what's really going on beloooow... but now you never show that to me, do you..." He comes up behind you again and leans his chin over your shoulder, puts his mouth right next to your ear.

It's hard to keep your mind on it, with him singing in your ear. It reminds you of the absence and emptiness that radiates out past the bubble of his presence. It reminds you of the rest of the world, the rest of the room. You forgive him his cruelty, but its results are still raw in your mind. You close your eyes and concentrate on only one thing -- the awareness of your old friend Koschei, the atonal, skewed clarity of his presence. He's there, his essence the same as it ever was, the conduit ragged and brittle, the core unchanged.

"Remember when I moved in youuu, and the holy dove was moving too," the Master croons, his usual frenetic motion reduced to stillness and singing, "and every breath we drew was hallelujah..."

You remember and feel and know, yes, wandering after each other under sunset-colored skies, in the low bellies of high towers and outside on the rockfaces and hillsides... a small piece of reality turns into a part of your fantasy, your history. He made you feel safe once. You're close now, gasping, and you rub your prick with both hands, clumsy, awkward, reaching for completion, bending forward in the chair. Two moments in time merge, and you're back there through the gateway of memory, children learning each other and making impossible promises in words like crystalline fractals...

A tingle sweeps through your body, blotting out aches and anguishes, leaving behind the voice of the Master still singing his drunken ballad, the terror of your friends.

For a moment there's only grace and the sunlit smile of an old friend and the slow, warm spasm of your climax, euphoria washing over you by inches, leaving the wet stain of seed on your trousers. Your head tips back and your eyes are shut tight and the brilliance of that long-ago picture occupies the whole of your mind.

The whole of his, too. You let it flow out of you like water, into his head.

The Master is singing. "-- but all I ever learned from love -- was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you..."

He stops, hearing your fitful breathing in that overwhelmed moment, seeing your hands retreat from your groin.

"Show's over," he says, in the tone that means he's tired of the game, and tips you out on the floor, leaving you to gasp like a fish and recover roughly. Tears come to your eyes, but you lie there, placid, uncaring, wrapped in the ecstasy of knowing you've won.