Taste But Don't Swallow

by schildkroet [Reviews - 6]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Slash, Vignette

Gallifrey would fall. By now everyone knew. Only very few admitted it.

Tomorrow would not be the last day. The next battle would not be the last stand. It would take place far from home, at the edge of the galaxy where a large armada of Dalek ships was gathering. The Time Lords hoped for the element of surprise to bring them a much needed victory. The Daleks wouldn’t expect them because only the mentally challenged would attack such an armada with so small a fleet.

The Master had been chosen to lead it.

And they would lose. The Time Lord fleet would be destroyed within a few hours. The Master would stay in the background with his own TARDIS, save from the fight, and once all the other TARDIS’ where gone and there was no-one left to watch him he would run. Run as far as he could and hope that neither the Daleks nor the Time Lords ever found him.

His fleet would take off in less than an hour. He wondered if the men and women fighting at his side knew they wouldn’t come back. He doubted it. Everyone tended to cling to hope.

It would be a useless battle. Even if they won the remaining ships of the enemy were enough to overrun Gallifrey’s last defences. But then there also wouldn’t be a point in not fighting. It was merely a matter of when to die, and where.

The corridors of the citadel were swarming with people as the Master made his way to his TARDIS. Neither of them knew who he was.

He was crossing an area he had been forbidden to enter by President Romana, but why would he care? She was sending him out to die anyway. The Master nearly smiled when he ran into her and a small delegation of senators and guards standing in the corridor and discussing. It was all they ever seemed to do. She glared in his direction but said nothing, maybe unwilling to wake the interest of those ignorant of his identity.

The Master could very well imagine what was going through her head.

He had not expected to see the Doctor ever again but there he was. Standing between his Lady President and her counsellors he looked both exasperated and impatient. They must have taken away his terran clothes when he’d been injured since he was wearing gallifreyan robes in the colours of the prydonian chapter, flapping loosely around him when he moved. They looked surprisingly good on the Doctor, but they didn’t suit him.

He hadn’t seen the Master yet. Then their eyes met, briefly, as the Doctor let his gaze wander, but he didn’t recognize his old friend and his eyes wandered on. Romana was still staring, silently ordering the Master to leave. He’d stopped in his tracks.

What would you do, my Lady, if I just came over and told him? he thought. If I told you what you’ve done, that you’ve resurrected me without his knowledge, only to let me get killed in your war. That you’re using me as a weapon. What, do you think, would he say?

The idea was tempting.

She wanted him gone. She thought she could control him. The Master saw her opening her mouth to speak, gesturing one of her guards to come to her while her eyes stayed fixed on him. Before she could whisper her order for him to be removed he walked over to them in long strides, finally getting everyone’s attention. He saw the alarm in Romana’s eyes just before he grabbed the Doctor’s shoulders and kissed him.

His eyes stayed open and he looked into the Doctor’s own, blue this time and wide and puzzled. He still didn’t know him. The Master parted his lips just a little, his tongue touching the other’s lips for two and a half seconds. He tasted time and death and strawberries and the end of everything.

“Take him away!” the President ordered, her voice sharp, like ice. Strong hands grabbed the Master’s arms and dragged him away. He could see the confusion on his dear friend’s face, kept looking at him until he was pulled around a corner. All the confusing and overcomplicated plans the Master had come up with over the centuries had at best made the Doctor roll his eyes — it had taken something as simple as a kiss to go beyond his understanding.

The Master knew this was the last time he’d ever seen him.

As goodbyes went it wasn’t so bad.

Hours later, when he was in his TARDIS, leading a handful of people to die without him, the Master couldn’t forget that the last time he’d ever seen the Doctor, the last time the Doctor had ever seen him there had been no recognition in his eyes.


October 5, 2007