Check-Up

by Calapine [Reviews - 3]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Drama

Author's Notes:
Set during that lovely time between the Doctor and the Master getting out of each others' way and the Doctor's regeneration, when they went adventuring together for years and years. What d'you mean that's not canon?!!

“Will you slow down? This antique hasn’t even got seatbelts,” said the Master as the Edwardian roadster took another corner far too quickly. “You do realise this is a terrible idea?”

“So you’ve said,” said the Doctor. “Frequently. It’s no more convincing now that it’s been for the last three hundred miles.”

The Master groaned and sank back in his seat. “Three hundred miles of toxic fumes? This thing doesn’t even have a roof! This is abuse. Lung abuse. As soon as you’re finished indulging in pointless nostalgia, we are going to a hospital; a proper hospital, with no humans, to make sure I can still breathe properly.”

“It doesn’t seem to have affected your ability to speak,” said the Doctor.

“How did you get hold of this old thing anyway? I thought it’d have been scrap decades ago.”

“She’s a classic!”

“It’s yellow. A horrible canary yellow.”

“Don’t you dare listen to him,” said the Doctor, with an affectionate pat to the steering wheel. The Master grimaced and wriggled in his seat.

“No seatbelts, no cushioning. No destination of any interest whatsoever.”

“Actually, Donna’s living in a very nice country house. I think you’ll like it.”

“No, I won’t.”

“You might.”

“I won’t.”

The Doctor shook his head and grinned in a manner alarmingly like he was indulging an aggravating child. The Master resisted the urge to kick him.

“You can’t even talk to her,” he snapped.

“I don’t want to talk to her.”

“Don’t blame you,” muttered the Master.

The Doctor ignored that and said, “Besides, it’s a gorgeous afternoon, isn’t it? Look at that sky!”

“This is how far I’ve fallen,” said the Master, to no-one in particular, “I’m now having a conversation about the English weather.”

“Here we are!” The Doctor pulled the car into the side of the road, switched off the engine and jumped out.

The Master didn’t move from his seat as he looked around. He could see trees, fields, and a disturbing number of sheep staring at them. “Doctor, unless your friend has become one with the rabbits...”

“What? Oh, no, the house is about a mile and a half that way.” He pointed at the other side of the road. All the Master could see was a steeply sloping muddy field, a thick copse of trees and more sheep. “I can’t exactly drive up to the front door, can I?” added the Doctor.

The Master stared at his shoes. His very clean, beautifully polished shoes. “Lungs,” he said, “and new shoes.”

He contemplated just stubbornly sitting in the car, but leaving the Doctor on his own tended to lead to annoying complications. The sort of complications that involved highly reluctant heroics and a lot of the Doctor looking all sanctimoniously smug afterwards, as if the Master had just performed a very clever trick. No, better to stick with him and keep him from falling into trouble in the first place, especially on this bloody planet. Even if it did mean sacrificing a very nice pair of shoes.

Donna’s house was on the other side of the copse of trees and it was, as the Doctor had said, very nice. Not that the Master was about to give an opinion on it one way or the other. They stood behind a little wall at the very bottom of the garden with a small orchard, a vast and neatly mown lawn, and a ridiculous number of flowerbeds before them.

Just beyond the apple trees was a swing set, and on the swing a little girl was sitting, kicking at the ground to move herself back and forth. The Doctor waved and the little girl waved back; the Master winced.

“Do you really think it’s appropriate to encourage a young child to speak to two strange men hiding at the bottom of her garden?” he said. The girl jumped off the swing and walked towards them. The Master leaned towards the Doctor, whispered in his ear, “Why don’t you offer her a jelly baby?”

The Doctor jumped over the wall and crouched down in front of her. “Hello!” he said, smiling, and instantly the little girl smiled back.

“Hello,” she said. “Are you lost?”

“No, no, not really,” said the Doctor, still with that stupid grin plastered all over his face. “Is your Mum about?”

The girl nodded and pointed back at the house. “She’s making crumble,” she said. “It’s apple but I like rhubarb better. Do you like crumble?”

“Delicious,” said the Doctor. He looked towards the house. “Do you think...how is she? Your Mum? Is she okay? Happy? Any headaches?”

The girl frowned. “Do you want to talk to her? I can go get her.”

“No, no, that’s alright. Just...no, never mind.” He offered his hand and, after a moment, the girl took it. “It was a pleasure to meet you, young lady. You be good for your Mum, alright?”

There was a shout from the house and the girl looked back over her shoulder.

“Got to go,” she said and ran off.

The Doctor scrambled back over the wall and ducked down, pulling the Master with him. The Master rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t aware voyeurism was one of your kinks,” he muttered.

“Shut up,” said the Doctor, barely audible.

They stayed just long enough for the Doctor to catch a glimpse of Donna lifting her daughter up into her arms.

“Do you feel better then?” asked the Master when they reached the tree line. He didn’t like the expression on the Doctor’s face one bit.

“It’s nice,” he said, “that she’s got a kid, I mean. I know she wanted them.”

“If you’re going to get broody, please let me know now so I can lock myself in my room for the next decade.”

The Doctor kicked at a stone, sent it skittering into a tree. “I’m not broody. I just wanted to make sure she was okay. That she was happy."

“Well, you’ve made sure she’s alive and well in 2014. I suppose now we have to skip forward a couple of years and do this whole tedious trip over again, since your old bucket can’t seem to land within five hundred miles of her destination. You know, you could just look up her obituary.”

The Doctor’s head snapped round and the Master knew he’d hit his mark. He smirked. “You didn’t ask the child her name.”

The Doctor shrugged. “Probably best not to. Nice though, wasn’t she? I like kids.”

“Is there where you start bleating on about your dead children?”

This time the Doctor looked at him for a long moment, then turned away to march down the hill, coat flapping in his wake. The Master followed at a leisurely pace.

“Did you ever have kids?” the Doctor asked him when he finally reached the car.

The Master stared at him, taken aback. “No,” he said, “no, of course not.” He held out his hand. “I think it’s my turn to drive now.”

The Doctor shrugged and threw the keys at him. He didn’t say a word for the next five miles so eventually it was the Master who broke the silence: “Do you know what I was thinking about as you gazed at your friend’s child?” The Doctor didn’t respond, didn’t even look at him. The Master knew he was listening intently. “I thought how much I’d enjoy the look on your face if I snapped her tiny little neck. Right there in front of you.”

The Master held his breath, uncertain whether the Doctor would reply, but after a moment he spoke: “But you didn’t.”

“Yeah, and I should get a cookie for that, right?” Usually the Doctor didn’t miss a chance to praise the Master for behaviour he deemed morally acceptable. Even when it was simply not doing something the Master would really rather have enjoyed.

“No,” said the Doctor carefully. “But you’re only responsible for your actions, not every thought that passes through your mind. I know who you are.”

“It was more than passing.”

“You’re missing the point.”

“I’m not the only one.”

The Doctor sighed. “Is that really what you want to do? Threaten a helpless little girl?”

“The girl’s immaterial!” He jabbed the Doctor in the arm, letting the car swerve alarmingly. “I wanted to know what your face would look like.”

“I think you can guess.”

“It’s not the same. “

The Doctor frowned. “Do you want me to be angry with you?”

“No! I don’t know.” He shifted down a gear as the road steepened. “I don’t want any more of these ridiculous nostalgia trips.”

“You’ve never met Sarah Jane, have you? She’s got a whole brood of kids. I think you’d like Luke.”

The Master rolled his eyes. “No, thank you.”

“It’s your turn next anyway.”

“With your ridiculous restrictions.”

“I don’t think limiting your opportunities for violence is ridiculous.”

“I like violence.”

“I don’t.”

I don’t like nostalgia.”

“Fine,” the Doctor said. “No more nostalgia trips.”

“Which isn’t fair since you’ve already had your fun.” He pressed down on the accelerator and watched the speedometer tick up and up. Even with his excellent reflexes and co-ordination, he was going far too fast along the winding country road. He glanced at the Doctor, who was steadfastly refusing to react to his dangerous driving.

“It’s your turn,” said the Doctor again. He sighed, a gentle, reluctant sound. “You don’t have to kill to show me how brilliant you are.”

The Master’s eyes narrowed as he glared at the road ahead. He took his foot off the accelerator. “Flattery . That’s low.”

“Worked though.”

“Only because I know you meant it.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Doctor grin, just. “Well, you are brilliant.”

“Elucidate,” said the Master, and the Doctor obliged.

The Master found he didn’t need to speak for quite some time.