The Golden Emperor
Not surprisingly, the nightmare breaks, but still the sound floats back to him on the scrawny scent of must.
This wouldn’t be the first time dust tried to climb down his throat. Every time he thinks of that blasted party...
Blinking sleep away in little bits of grit that scratch across the lower round of his eyes, threatening to devein his orbs like an imperiled jumbo prawn, the Master forces himself awake completely, vying for oxygen in the dark rectangle of space before him just long enough to fool the universe into thinking he gives a damn.
Then he withdraws the invitation of his lips, bares his white teeth, bunches his shoulders as if for a bull-run, and invests his head into the top of his six foot odd prison of dubious pine.
Wood sprays around his emancipated blondness, sprinkling here and there and everywhere against his face, the sides of the box, his arms. His naked skin.
They took his clothes, too.
Where is he, by the way?
He wraps strong hands around the splintering edges of his freshly-made exit and pulls, heaving out of his teetering tomb in a graceful leap.
He turns back as he’s scuffing his hair, to suffer an idle glance over his handiwork.
His fingers dig into his scalp, massaging all the dust into the mess; It’s like taking a sonic shower, only without the darts poster of the Doctor he always glues to every hotel bathroom.
Gravity pulls at his tender eyelids, and that strange and heavy liquid pools red-orange, tipping occasionally into the corners and draining down, leaving tracks in the dust stuck to his face.
His stubbled face jags downward, as he realises.
He’ll pay more attention to the dust now.
It smells a bit like...
He sticks a finger in his mouth, wetting the remains.
“Who are you? Who... Flavia.” he murmurs, wrinkling his nose. “...and a slight taste of living metal... where have I tasted that before...”
Blinking more carefully again, as to avoid more ridiculous blood tears, he coughs suddenly, gagging on the idea that has just tickled his nerves like a finger in a socket.
“Of course. That bloody bird. It smelled like this, the Hand. The Hand! But that means... Rassilon killed her... she must have opposed him, but... surely it wasn’t just that. The man is calculating.”
He speaks again, again to himself, and again to the cold pile of dust re-settling in his hair, newly-abandoned by his probing fingers as they lower, lost in the baggage compartment of his train of thought. Sifting the details like cake flour.
“Killed Flavia. The day Number Ten Son and I made nice, when I used the Gate to copy myself. And then the 10-point star diamond...the Doctor helped me find my answers... that the signal was placed in my head by Rassilon, when I was a child, when I stood before the Schism... The Doctor and I made up... I was grateful, ready to leave... so I protected my idiot and his pets from the old bastard... I told the Doctor to get out of the way, so I could shoot the diamond... burned a few years to force Rassilon back into the Time Lock with me... Not surprising he killed her, really. But what does it mean?”
He shoves his fist sideways, smashing into the rest of the coffin.
The wooden box cracks apart, its pieces flying away from him like little planes from a gorilla.
He reaches up again, planting his fingers in his scalp. His head feels slightly... off. The weight... there’s a...
His fingernails dig through the dust, made muddy from his sweat.
Piling through the mud.
Near the part of his hair, in the back mud forest of his lower right scalp, the curve of a singular sort of object becomes known to his fingertips.
Hollow in the middle.
He closes his eyes and tightens his fist around it slightly, touching it with every nerve impulse in his hand, feeling it through. Imaging it. Mentally scanning, meticulous, as though running a manual diagnostic on a complex engine.
A shiver breaks over his spine, like the crest of a sullen ocean wave, icy and deep.
He savors it.
Then he opens his hand and looks.
“Oh my,” he murmurs with a smile as he stares down at the thing in his palm, then the coffin, then the thing, then the coffin, back and forth, his eyes gliding between them.
Then he takes a step into the crumbling darkness, drawing deeply on the chalky scent of the air, each breath filled with particles that, perhaps, had once been a statue, a painting. An abysmally tasteful funerary urn.
They’ve shipped him off with the artifacts, you see.
He’s been retired to the Northern Museum, the one the Artifacts were stolen from, on the North cliffs of Gallifrey.
Well. Well. Well.
As he stalks away into a crack in the wall, he fondles the rough edge of the fissure for a moment before stepping inside, out of the night. Into the dark.
Whoever stuck him in this overgrown toy box is going to pay dearly for that dream.
“What dream was that, again?” a woman’s voice calls suddenly, halting his footsteps on their way half into the shadows.
A white figure with long white hair cascades out of the dark, a flower of silk and grin and pale lavender eyes.
He rubs his face, feeling his stubble scratch the skin on his fingers now roughened and raw from breaking out of the box.
The woman’s fingers reach for him, taking his fingers and sucking away the dark reddish blood welling from so many cuts and gashes.
“Oh god, you bitch, you great white bitch, don’t fucking do that again!” he murmurs, crushing her hand in his as he presses it against the large, sticky abrasion his cheek has become, “... I thought you’d... but who was... but then who... I thought... who gives a shit. You’re here, damn you. Bitch.”
She smiles and smacks the back of his head, then nuzzles her face in the cake of gray mud there.
“So you dreamed I was murdered, huh? That’s not the one I had. Want to compare notes?” Flamina swishes her white Japanese robe against her bare legs.
The Master wipes at his eyes with a dirty elbow, scowling a threat at the swaying kimono as he reaches for it with an angry palm.
“... take that fucking napkin off. It’s blocking my view of your milk things!”