The hospital wasn’t in the citadel. It wasn’t even on Gallifrey. This one was on the moon and another was on a space station in Gallifrey’s orbit. It was as if the Time Lords wanted to deny that the war concerned them in any way. Except those injured and dying in these rooms far from home.
The Master wasn’t injured, and certainly not dying. He did not consider Gallifrey his home.
Weeks had gone by since he’d come back to life. He had done, out of necessity, what they had asked him to do. He had fought. He had killed and destroyed. He had led a fleet into battle, and the casualties had been high but they had won. That was, after all, the reason for them to resurrect him. Because he knew how to win. Knew how to survive.
That had been one battle. He could win another five-hundred and they would still lose the war. Gallifrey simply did not have the resources the Daleks had, nor the experience or the preparation. The Master knew, if he kept fighting for them he would die. But if he stopped and ran, and they lost, he probably wouldn’t ever have existed. It was a lose-lose situation.
He did not intend to lose. Not his life.
The room he entered was small, the light dim. It contained four beds, three of them occupied. Not one of the men lying here was awake. He suspected the doctors — Doctors! Ha! — had given them something to keep them quiet. Why bother with people who could talk to you or whine or protest? Much easier this way.
It was so like the Time Lords he wanted to laugh. He didn’t, since he didn’t want to wake anyone.
The room had all the charm of a storage closet. Hardly the place one would expect a close friend of the president to end up in. But the Master doubted Lady Romanadvoratrelundar even knew he had been hurt. Surely her senators had not thought it necessary to inform her.
He quietly closed the door behind him and slowly walked over to the last bed. The Doctor was deeply asleep, possibly unconscious. His chest and right shoulder were bandaged, as well was his right wrist. The Master didn’t know how badly injured he was, but he was certain his old friend would survive without having to regenerate. A few days of rest and he would be up and fighting again. In a war they couldn’t win.
Standing beside the bed the Master saw him lying there, motionless and peaceful and already very far away. He didn’t know why he had come. Maybe it was defiance, since the Lady President wanted to keep him away from the Doctor. That would make sense. That was what he would say if anyone asked.
He sat down on the edge of the bed, his eyes never leaving the Doctor’s face. He had hardly ever met him in this incarnation and the Master felt a pang of regret. The Doctor didn’t even know he was alive.
He didn’t stir when the Master ran his hand through his long tresses. Dark lashes resting on pale cheeks, and suddenly the Master felt incredibly sad.
He leaned down until he was almost lying on top of the sleeping man. He lowered his head so he felt the Doctor’s breath on his face, so their lips were almost touching. And then he stayed still for a long, long time. Caught in a moment between Could Have Been and Never Was.
“They’re going to take you from me,” he whispered. And realized that he had come to say goodbye.
He should take the Doctor with him and run. Take him away from here, from the Time Lords, from Romana and the war, to the end of the universe if he had to where they would never, ever find them. But he wasn’t that romantic.
And neither was the Doctor.
So the Master left.
He didn’t stay long enough to hear the Doctor whisper his name in his sleep.
September 22, 2007