He didn't like taking off his clothes in front of anyone. He liked being stripped even less. Identity was such a fragile thing for Time Lords, the more so the more regenerations they went through, and all the titles and costumes and idiosyncrasies were necessary to reinforce a sense of control and self. To shed them was an act of sacrifice, a ceremony of trust, a ritual baring of the throat and the soul. To have them taken from him was terrifying. Not in the least because the touch was familiar, all too familiar, and he shivered and twitched at every contact, his lungs burning and his eyes swimming from the effort of staying silent and impassive. When he had suggested this deal he hadn't thought that it would be like this. Anger and pride and some last, stupid vestige of trust had pushed him to offer himself as a prize, sure that he would, if not safe, then at least be safer in the Master's power than any other being in the universe could possibly be.
Without his shoes the Doctor felt trapped, unable to run. Belt and trousers left him vulnerable. His shirt, white and bland without the bolder statements of the cricket outfit, nevertheless came off like the outer wall of his mind. He didn't resist, moved his arms in cooperation, bent and twisted on the bed as he needed to. As he sank back, naked, it was like taking a plunge into uncharted territory. He wasn't sure he could do this and still be himself.
Harsh breathing betrayed the Doctor's fear. A gloved hand settled on his chest, rising and falling with it. Black gloves. Black velvet all over. The Master hadn't taken off anything but his shoes so far, busy with unwrapping and unravelling the man before him on the bed. What applied to the Doctor maybe was even truer for him — not even his body was his own, and that made the costume all the more important.
The Master glanced up from his hand and looked him in the face. He hadn't done that before, the Doctor realized. That look, even clouded with lust as it was, anchored him, because there was some last rest of reserve in it. Reserve meant distrust. Distrust meant sanity. Sanity meant that they were still themselves. It also meant hesitation.
"Not that it isn't charming," the Master said and sounded quite controlled, quite himself, "but don't you think you're exaggerating a little? There's no need to be afraid now that we've come to an agreement. I'll even go slow."
The Doctor sent him a quick, mirthless smile. "Your call, Master" he replied. The calm in voice surprised even him. It was smooth as polished steel. "If you don't like my act, what emotion would you like me to portray?"
He didn't take the bait. Or quite possibly he truly didn't understand. Or worse, he didn't care.
"Pretending won't be necessary, Doctor," the Master smiled. "Just be yourself."
Still wondering how precisely to be himself — shocked, disdainful, hurt, angry? — the Doctor was unprepared for the sudden kiss. Not on his mouth, but on his neck, the soft place where the blood seemed to pump right under the skin. Not a bite, but a mere brush of skin on skin, warm, silky lips surrounded by a bristling beard. He gasped, and his hands shot off the bed and almost grabbed the Master's shoulders. In the last moment he forced himself to stop, to calm down, to let his hands sink back. But the Master had slipped off one glove, was running his fingertips along his ribcage, his side, gripping his hip, and at the same time chuckled close to his ear. "See? I don't want you to be afraid. Your surrender is so much sweeter."
It was a low, seductive tone that had him trembling with the need to agree. The Doctor squeezed his eyes shut, and just for an instant or two let go. In free fall, he seized a velvet-clad arm, squirmed under raking fingers and teeth, wantonly spread his legs and bucked up against the weight on him. Just for an instant. Panting, he opened his eyes to the feel of a leather gloved hand around his cock and the Master staring at him with a wolfish grin.
"You're wrong, you know?" the Doctor said, gulping for air, yet somehow managing a conversational tone. "I'm doing what you want. That isn't surrender."
The Master's grin dimmed a little, turning somewhat rigid, but he didn't drop it entirely. It was as much a mask as the velvet, and as such, necessary. And he kept moving his hand, slowly pumping the Doctor's cock. "You can go on talking," he decided magnanimously. "I've always liked your inability to stay quiet. Now turn around."
The perfect rhythm and pressure of his touch and his voice almost made the Doctor obey the command without thinking. He wanted more, he didn't want it to stop, he wanted to turn around and let himself be fucked while the Master talked sweet, cruel nonsense to him and made thinking entirely impossible. But it wasn't impossible and that was the problem.
Softening his features into a cold smile, the Doctor challenged the Master by meeting his gaze. Part of him, the part which had been stripped and confused, was thrashing and trembling on the sheets, but the rest of him had clarity, and he wanted the Master to be just as clear on what they were doing and why.
The Master ducked his head, breaking the eye contact, and hope almost flared up beneath the grief and the anger the Doctor felt. But it wasn't any kind of shame that made the Master pause. The Master was laughing, softly, at him. "Oh, Doctor." He seemed genuinely amused. The Doctor stared at him in horror as the Master ran his bare hand through the Doctor's hair and down his face in a gentle, compassionless caress. "You made quite a mistake in offering this deal, haven't you?"
He had. Doctor was numbed by this realisation, barely registering the minutes that followed. Their relationship was too integral a part of what defined the Master for him to truly change it. And more than that, some arrogant part of him had believed that he could make the Master admit as much. But what he hadn't considered was that for the Master, trust had not been a part of their relationship for a long time. He could break it because he didn't believe it existed.
Clothes fell on the sheets beside him, crumpled velvet, the glittering of metallic embroidering strangely fascinating in this moment of detachment. The Doctor saw his own fingers move over the golden threads, but he didn't feel their texture. A costume shed. Because to get what he wanted, the Master would do anything, even change beyond recognition.
Pain split open his shell of thoughts as the Master pushed into him, and the Doctor realized that he was on his stomach after all, his cheek brushing against the pillow with each thrust. The Master had prepared himself with something slick and warm, but he hadn't done the same for the Doctor and it hurt. The Doctor accepted the pain gratefully. Pain meant no mind games. Pain allowed him to claw at the sheets and push back and let rush it through him with breathtaking power.
"How many more times did you think I would fall for your games?" the Master hissed at the back of his neck, each word harsh with sudden rage. He had stopped his thrusting to speak, and the stillness magnified the feelings of pain and fullness and heady pleasure that rushed through the Doctor as he felt his muscles clenching around the hardness. "You promise the world on a platter but you never plan to deliver."
A bitter sound between a laugh and a sob escaped the Doctor, muffled by the pillow. "I guess we're lucky you're just going to take it."
The Master started moving his hips again and now the press and slide of their bodies was transformed, sending blinding pleasure along the same trails as the pain had gone before. "Quite right," he growled at the first choked whimper the Doctor gave. "You offered. I'm taking it."
This was the moment to signal defeat and call the bluff. To plead, if that was what the Master wanted. If he wanted it to be over and done with, the line crossed, the race against the entropy of their friendship finished, all he needed was to say no and have it ignored. A clear, dirty, painful end to the doubts and the twinges of sympathy. But what if the Master did stop? He had never forced this on the Doctor, had waited until the Doctor, although under pressure, gave his consent. Couldn't he see that this was hardly any better? It didn't matter if the Doctor begged him to stop or not - the Master was willing to settle for less than the real thing, for carrion instead of the living prey, taking what he could get. The Doctor latched gratefully onto that shred of anger. It drove the numbness and distance from his body.
The Master shifted above him when he felt the surge of tension going through the Doctor's body, hesitated, offering space and air to breathe, and the Doctor took the offer in a way the Master didn't expect, raising his hips and meeting the tentative thrusts forcefully. "If that's what you want."
That's what you'll get, he added in a brash surge of thought and defiance, cleaving into the Master's mind. He met surprise there, disappointment, slivers of confusion on a sea of simple, violent need. This wasn't the reaction the Master had anticipated. Their rhythm faltered gracelessly; the Doctor gasped and came in hard jerks while the Master went completely still and climaxed with small, startled noise.
Once they separated, the Doctor did nothing against the pain and discomfort, just rolled onto his side so the pillow would stop suffocating him. He cut the psychic connection between them just as artlessly. He didn't want to see what the Master's need turned out to be once the confusion cleared. Very slowly his muscles relaxed, the burning dulled to a bearable level that if he had let himself feel that way would have been pleasant.
He sat up and turned to look the Master, who lay on his back, a very carefully arranged picture of relaxation. Cold blue eyes met his boldly. "You really still think I can't look you in the eyes, Doctor?"
"You couldn't." Even their psychic contact had been one-sided. The Master had stripped him, taken his self-fashioned shields and masks from him, but he hadn't dared to look too closely at what lay behind them. In the past they had known each other so instinctively and completely that examining each other wasn't necessary. Now self-deception was possible. The Doctor's eyes wandered, and realized that on the bedside table, among other things, lay the tissue compression eliminator, almost within reach if the Doctor just reached across the Master. He looked away quickly, although the Master had clearly noticed the glance. But he still lay there, smug, talking.
"I don't know why I shouldn't, seeing as your indignation is at best ridiculous."
The Doctor ran a hand through his hair, which was damp at the temples. Imagining what he looked like made him want to wince. He sighed, wondering what had become of the times when righteous anger had carried him so far. Right now, he wanted far less to confront the Master than to put his clothes back on, pretend nothing had happened and go rescue Tegan and Turlough. He was angry, but not for the right reasons. It was a mess. "I'm not sure which of us should be more ashamed here," he muttered.
Shaking his head, the Master laughed. "Shame is overrated, Doctor. Personally, I left it behind with mortality and all those other traditional values."
The Doctor regarded him curiously, his attention caught by the honesty in the Master's voice. He was mocking the Doctor, but he meant what he said. It almost sounded like an explanation. Here was a man with no consideration for life, for nature, for his body or self, not when they stood in his way. He stole to survive, fed on scraps, carved himself vessels from the bodies of dead men. The parts of him that might have been humiliated by such an existence were excised from his soul and left behind. The Master took what he wanted wherever and however he could get it. He had settled for mere survival, and survival was ruthless through and through. And he was shameless as well, since death had burned the old fear of humiliation from his soul. Nothing could touch him now. He let himself fall, and like a cat got back to his feet.
Reaching for his clothes, since he would leave now and the Master wouldn't stop him, the Doctor said, soft with understanding, "It must be easier that way."