Hansel's All Alone
“We are so fucked. We are all-hail-the-great-Saint-Barkus-of-Quilylon fucked! And you just…"
The Master squeaks, feeling like some poor sod in coach as a red fiberglass rod falls on him from a sudden overhead hatch.
“Spiteful bitch,” he murmurs at the TARDIS. “What in the blazing, bloody hells am I supposed to do with this thing?”
he raises his hand, pulls himself up from where he’s been sitting and watching the Doctor and Flamina’s therapy session on the other side of the console.
He slows, then stills.
Again the sound, fissuring through the thick glass floor.
He can’t grab on; the floor breaks beneath his bum like a collapsing iceberg, sending up jagged sections of glass that look more like airplane wreckage than a walking surface. Naturally, as he dangles and looks, he notices the floor beneath the Doctor and Flamina is still perfectly sound…
“Course not,” he murmurs. His foot is hanging precariously like bait over the visible bits of temporal engine, all gears and clicking teeth and glowy machine. He imagines the grind of those gears to be a line of clinging elephants, swinging loose trunks and clutching tails as their matriarch trumpets mightily at the attempts of a young buck to stall the line and show his worth.
And speaking of line…
He holds the strange rod between his feet, trying to thread the nylon coming out of the reel mechanism into each eye along the tapering length. There’s a locked lever on the console, just above. If he can get the fool thing threaded… make enough loops to hang for suspension so he can climb up…
The glass is biting into his hand, cutting into him like breaks in the frost on a window. His blood is running over his wrist. He’ll lose feeling soon. But if he does he’ll be prime ground Time Lord in those gears. He’s sure the TARDIS wouldn’t hesitate.
He’s also sure… that he could just let go.
He could just… let go.
But he doesn’t have time to think it through as the glass slices through to the white on his middle finger.
He yelps, shuddering even though he’s endured so much worse than this. Hot, angry tears well, and as he looks up at the Doctor and Flamina through the wet, he starts tying the first knot in the nylon.
In a few minutes, he’s managed to get three loops over the lever. His injured hand is numb and dripping. Much more and he might lose it. Ah well. He and the Doctor can swap jokes, once everything normalises.
…normal? Really? Idiot. What normal?
As he works, he hears another sound. It isn’t new, but it isn’t old, either.
Thank Rassilon for that bastard lying up there on the glass. His lazy arse can get the door.
Laughter wants to shake him so he lets it… there are still four more knots to tie- he’s done the rest and thrown the loops over. Time to test if the line will hold his weight.
He hooks the reel’s handle in one of the loops on his jeans and grabs the glass with his good hand, slicing the fingers.
But the glass is already covered with blood; he scrabbles- his eyes goggling like he’s a toad being squeezed as he flails-a fly in gossamer.
His body flips- it’s sort of funny, but he’s not laughing now. All the blood is rushing to his head because he’s hanging upside down.
Oddly enough, he feels calm, like an amoeba.
It’s a struggle to look up, but when he does, he notices a pair of boots and dark grey trousers staring down at him. These, of course, are topped by that ridiculous tweed jacket. The tinted dress shirt. The bowtie. Floppy hair follows, then a strong chin and peridot eyes that hold half the world.
“Are you busy?” the Doctor says with suspect softness, edging himself away from the mountain range of glass. His squarish, long fingers unconsciously scratch his stomach for a half-second, then retreat into the air and waggle limply. He must look little more than a neurotic knot of nerves as he peers into the depths, the way he’s standing so still and yet not. But he adds another sentence or four as though he owns a shoehorn, affecting just a snatch of plaintiveness with thin lips and a trifle less melanin. “No? Good, because, um… I have something to tell you, before I help you right yourself. But you’re not going to like it very much, which is why I have to tell you now, while you’re tied up… you know, because… it’s sort of, ah, um, well-this thing I’ve done, it has to settle in, so to speak.”
A swallow. He’s swallowing, out of reflex.
The Master stares at him, the blood racing through his skull and pounding his brain stem because of the angle of his neck. Then his eyes flicker over to where Flamina… her shape is absent from the console silhouette. How… no. It’s got to be the rush of blood to his brain.
“For how long?” he says, blinking. In the back of his mind, calculations are running, running. Running.
But she’s not, quips his traitor hindbrain. She’s not running.
The Doctor is a scarecrow in rapture for a moment, weaving like wheat there far away from the black typewriter keys of a Victorian rubbish bin console, far away from roundeled walls that beam with the color of honeycomb. He hasn’t picked his coat up yet, and he’s in the middle of the floor, just… standing.
His big hands rifle through his hair, as though he’s a drunk farmer looking for a mouse in the dark. With a shotgun. A toothpick? A prayer. All the same thing, really.
“Everything’s… all right, Koschei. Just… I’m sorry, I can’t help you up. But I’ll get someone who can.”
The Master doesn’t see it, but the Doctor’s hands stroke the inside moulding of the double doors before he leaves.
Where the hell does the bastard he think he’s going?