Angst, Character Study, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Slash, Standalone
Five waited almost patiently at the table. From where he sat he could watch the Master move about the lab. Slumping forward onto his arms, he closed his eyes for a moment and analysed the sounds of metal and glass clinking and plastic scraping. He could make neither heads nor tails of it, but decided he liked it just the same. Whatever the Master was doing, he was in a very good mood. The Master began to speak and Five sat up straight in his chair.
“The key to such a project is precision and consistency,” he instructed, a joyful pride in his voice. “Two things at which I excel. Understand that not every one does. The Doctor for instance, never has had the temperament for such things,” he continued musing. “His experiments in the field have always been the most dreadful of failures.” Five made a little hum of acknowledgement and nodded his head as the Master continued his work with a smile.
Five wondered if he would ever get to meet the Doctor. Nothing in the whole universe fascinated him more than the Time Lord after whom he had been modelled. The Master spoke of him so much that Five felt like he knew him; he seemed to have a presence in their life despite his marked absence from it. Five opened his mouth ask the Master his question but then, catching himself, snapped it closed. He did want to know, but Five had noticed whenever he asked the Master always seemed to grow quiet and stop smiling as much. Five liked it when the Master smiled, and when he talked about the Doctor and about what he was working on (even when he didn’t understand it) so he asked something else instead.
“Is it almost done, Master?” He kicked his feet under the table.
“There is another vital component to this that both you and the Doctor are terribly deficient in,” Five pouted at the Master’s grave look. “Patience, my dear,” The Master smiled and Five knew he had made the best choice. “Fortunately no more patience is required today.” The Master turned and produced a plate that he set in front of Five on the table.
Five’s eyes brightened and went almost impossible wide. “This is cake? Real actual cake?”
“Yes, Five. Chocolate, to be precise.” Five tilted his head this way and that, goggling as he examined the huge slice of four layer, fudge-filled, ganache-and-chocolate-shaving-topped monstrosity of a gateau. “I have yet to encounter a regeneration of the Doctor who would turn down at least a taste of it.” Five simply nodded and continued to stare. He had seen pictures but nothing could have possibly done justice to this wonder that the Master created just for him.
“Can I eat it?” Five finally reallocated his active memory enough to ask.
“That was rather the point. I needed to construct something to test the improvements I’ve made to your digestive system and olfactory analysis nodes. Both were woefully limited. This was perhaps a bit decadent, but you have been especially well-behaved and you had expressed interest in the confection.”
“This is amazing Master, thank you.” Five smiled up at him so earnestly that the Master had to look away.
“You are mine, Five, you’ll have the best of everything.” The Master answered dismissively and smoothed Five’s hair. Five nodded and picked up his fork, he jabbed it in to the cake and pulled a way a little chunk. He brought it to his mouth, paused looking to the Master to make sure it was still all right. The Master nodded and he leaned forward and fastened his mouth around the fork. His eyes went wide again as he was flooded with new sensory information. It was soft and sort of creamy-sticky-lovely and his new dihydro spacing processors nearly over loaded with saccharide signals.
The Master watched the whole display from off to the side, filled with a pride that he liked to imagine had more to do with the improvements he had installed than the desire to ruffle Five’s hair and crush the artificial lifeform to his chest for a long hug.
“Well, my dear, how do you like it?”
“I like it very very very much and I’m going to eat every last bite!” Five proclaimed with vigour, and began shovelling forkfuls of cake into his mouth with determined glee. The Master chuckled. He could test Five’s ability to analyse the chemical make up of the cake later.
“Not quite so fast my dear or it will be finished before you have a chance to properly savour it,” the Master cautioned. Five paused for a moment and then stopped all together. The Master watched as Five’s smile faded to confusion and then to fear and pain.
“Master?” Five cringed, his voice pleading as he started doubling over, near falling out of his chair. The Master placed his hand on his shoulder to steady him, shocked by how disturbed and frightened he was at Five’s distress. “Master, I’m experiencing multiple sysy--sy-tem malf-f-unctions. Master,” Five reached up and clutched at the dark fabric of the Master’s shirt. “Master, I’m scared.”
“Five I need you to go to sleep, right now, it will slow the damage.” The Master drew Five close, supporting him.
“Master?” He looked up, uncertain.
“Right now, Five,” he shouted and then gentled, “Please. I promise I’ll fix you.” The Master held his breath until he saw Five switch off suddenly, going limp in his arms. The Master didn’t stop to think, but hoisted Five up and set off at a run for the robotics lab. He slammed through the doors in a puff but refused to slow for a moment until he could asses the damage. Setting Five on the table he gathered his tools and opened up his torso with a neat laser cut. The Master sucked in a breath to steady himself as he pulled away Five’s abdominal panel. It was a catastrophe, just what he had fear the most: a violent rupture in the digestive systems he had just upgraded. Near all of his vital systems where clogged with half processed food matter. Even in sleep mode he was in serious danger of permanent damage if the Master didn’t work fast.
Countless times before he had overreached himself and had it backfire but as long as he lived through to plan anew tomorrow he could look at it and laugh. Looking down at Five, open and slipping away in front of him was horribly sobering. He cursed himself; he should have used something safer to test. He had been foolish, cocky, indulgent and it might have cost Five his life. He had no time for self-pity, he reminded himself, and wiped his damp forehead with the back of his sleeve as he set back to his task, refusing to be distracted.
He worked frantically for hours switching between cleaning and repairing systems to try and keep up with the damage being done at at the same time prevent more from occurring. It was an up-hill battle, and one he had to fight while terrified at what failure would mean. There was no time to create a back up of his personality data or memory, so much of it was hard wired anyway that it would have been a waste of time to attempt. All he could do was work as hard and fast as he was able. He wished he had another pair of hands, he wished he had more time, he wished more than anything that the Doctor was there with him.
When Five opened his eyes again he felt very weak. A quick self-diagnostic told him that he was in safe mode but functioning properly. “Master?” He called out and turned his head to look around. Five sighed with relief when he saw him asleep in chair against the wall next to the bed. He slept fitfully, face set in a scowl as he dreamt of the worst, clutching Five’s beloved cricket bear tightly to his chest. Five decided that he didn’t like that at all. He used all his strength to sit up and swing his legs over the edge. He scooted a bit, leaned over and reached out to hug the Master.
The Master awoke with a little start. “Five you should be resting,” he scolded with a yawn. “How are you feeling?”
“I know, but you looked sad.” Five squeezed him and then laid back out on the diagnostic bed. “I’m in safe mode but functioning within normal parameters.” Five smiled and the Master set the bear in Five’s hands and tucked a blanket around him.
The Master said nothing for a long moment. He smoothed Five’s hair and the bot smiled happily from the attention, not an ounce of scorn or blame within him. Five looked up at him with the same Earnest smile as before and something in him cracked.
“Five, I’m sorry.” Five blinked up at him in confusion.
“Why? You saved me.”
“I was the one who endangered you to begin with. I should not have carried out these upgrades, It’s simply not worth the risk to you.”
“But I want to be better.” Five squeezed his bear.
“Why? Because I wish for you to be? Five you don’t have to be more like the Doctor, you are perfectly fine as you are.”
“I know,” he smiled as though it where the simplest thing in the world. “You told me that I’m not the Doctor and I remembered, but I still want to be better. I want to read and learn more and see more and taste more! I want to do everything that I can. You help me do that Master, you don’t have to be sorry at all.” Five sat up and kissed a stunned Master on the cheek and then snuggled back down under the blankets.
The Master shook his head, “Sleep well, my dear.” Five nodded and drifted off to recharge. The Master stood there a little while beside him, watching him sleep and wondered at what point Five had stopped looking anything like the Doctor to him.