Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Change in the House of Oakdown

Why is River’s face in his mind, of all people?

The Master wonders at her laugh as he watches the Flesh version of his old friend meander around in circles, tripping over little stones he would have seen if he were…

If he were sane.

“It will be now, if ever,” he murmurs to himself, looking suddenly down at his hands.

His fingers itch to move, as if tiny golden scarabs are strolling up his sleeves. Using his flesh as a loo for their dead bodies, he imagines morbidly. A laugh brushes his lips.

This itch, this fervor to release, this golden irritation, he knows now, will never leave him.

It is, despite his former selves, that desire he buried along the lines of some dusty evening, so long ago, when he was made to look into the Schism, and all things Changed in the light of that darkened swirl of shattered mirror.

He allows this, this… Good… to flow, like a row of white candles burning swiftly alight the red runners of an Earthian church.

Desire floods up through his back, stuffing his legs with cool light that chills and comforts like ice on the tongue. Like the falling of snow on hot grass.

Is he steaming with it?

He steeps, like a piping teabag.

The itch drones across his shoulderblades.

Icy glaciers forecast themselves from his spine like augurs of ancient frost, pillaring out in spiral twirls from his shivering, twitching back.

His bluing eyes flicker over the Flesh-thing, still dancing in the dark amidst the failing connections between synapses, the dying lights of the crystalline trees around them now flickering across the spent face.

Soon this Flesh will die.

And Koschei of Oakdown will make sure it doesn’t take anyone with it.

As wings sprout like beanstalks from his upper body, he wonders at the Flesh’s melting face.

It is staring at him. Pleading. It is beginning a shift to complete hindbrain shutdown now; soon nothing will be left but a glimmer of the man he loves. And then, that spark too will fade.

The Doctor has shed his skin. And so must he, the Master. His heart is ice; his mind is ice. At last.

It looks like the poor Flesh is trying to cry, but the bits of its skin are drooping in sideways catchpools, trickling down over its body in white, soggy waterfalls.

He walks to it, wrapping his arms around its shivering frame.

The ice of compassion is melting them both now.

The Flesh reaches up with swaying loops of white doughy arms and clings wet fingers like paint to the base of his wings, clutching at shoulder muscles thickened by a few moments’ clarity.

It pulls.

He lets it claw at him. He allows this, because… it is still the Doctor, albeit a small sliver of him.

The brook-babble of red-orange fluid flows between them as the Flesh rips off his wings.

He falls, and bleeds, while the Flesh spills away, up the rest of the crystal path, dragging bits behind stained with vermillion.

He imagines, as his numb-muscled, borrowed body falls limp into unconsciousness, that the same happy smile is now plastered on both their faces.

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