Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

The Great Northern Cave

The Master throws his reading material down onto the latest pile of moldy old books.

“Nothing but bloody love letters and a fucking museum orders list! Doesn’t anybody around here KNOW ANYTHING about the little twerp? The moron who organized this section is batshit! Who was it? I want him MADE INTO GOULASH AND SERVED IN TIME FOR SECOND LUNCH!”

A hand-like fleshy object coated in a white substance saunters into the Master’s line of sight. Slightly similar to a claw, the thing appears to be clutching a…

“Doughnut?” asks the Doctor with a naughty little innocence of a powder-caked smile, shoving another damn round of fried dough in his friend’s face again as though he didn’t just ask that very same murder-invoking question two minutes and six seconds ago. The infuriating man then sighs his content with the whole of his body, lifting up like a drama queen at festival, and proceeds to stick the first of five fingers in his mouth and suck off the sugary coating.

The Master thinks on this for a moment, tapping a finger on his scratchy stubbled cheekbone. Then the tapping stops before he does, and an idea puts words in his mouth, right there where everyone can see. “…oh you’re not saying it’s you. Don’t say it. Just you don’t say that, you whistle-brained waddling wintery warbling windbag! Wipe your mouth- you missed a spot you fool.” He dips a corner of the napkin in his swirly glass of deep delicious bourbon, wetting the tip of the paper, then tosses it onto the Doctor’s face, like a ring toss. Despite himself, an upward quirk of lip grabs him smoothly as the damp thing leaves his hand.

The other Time Lord blows out his cheeks, throwing off the napkin and grinning as he sticks a finger out from an advancing springy doll-fist and spears loopy fish in the Master’s direction. “Ha ha! I knew I could get you to smile eventually!” He frees the napkin from the end of his large nose and swipes it across his teeth, clearing his lips with Olympic abruptness. Then the hand goes back into a pocket, one supposes for another yummy.

But the Master cannot smile for long. There is Gallifrey to think of. He fidgets in his own small pockets, each found hem a subconscious wish for the omnipresent largess of his friend’s designs. He has them in all his jeans, save for one pair. “…mindful of the sugar rush, idiot.” He adds, swiping the fried treat away from the proffering hand with a sweeping flick of wrist and elbow.

“Yes, well…” the Doctor says, smirking and turning on his brightest smile, “I have an idea, being as that I’m the one who cared for that particular section of the Archive. Why don’t you try the…”

Slam! Skirrrrrr-ish!

Rassilon comes as near to crashing into any room as he ever will into the room, finishing the sentence in a swirl of brown fabric and command.

“…planetary tracking system I built into the Transduction Barrier? I’ve just done exactly that. It turns out there is an Artifact still on Gallifrey, in an area the Doctor is associated with. It’s called the Cloud of Stryphfea. The events of the War altered its gravity, according to my sources.” the tall dark Time Lord says, settling down in a sloping metal chair opposite the two other men in the room. “You have some explaining to do, it seems, -old friend-, being as that you were there.”

The Doctor stares back at Rassilon; suddenly the mood of play in the room is dissolved, the Master dismissed.

And the Master does not like this, not one little bit. Still, because he is not a stupid man, he listens.

“Don’t dismiss Koschei, Dallyrasse. He’s a good boy, lots of charm and technical knowledge. And he’s my friend.”

“You said that about Omega too, and look what happened to him. Clumsy fool ought to have looked where he was going. That said, I can’t imagine why you’ve suddenly started collecting toys.” Rassilon’s blue ice asteroid eyes flirt down and up with gutting the Master like a filet of Tafelshrew. Or maybe a fine piece of fabric ready for the clothier…

“I never approved of your use of him, Rassilon. In fact, as I recall, I vehemently decried it.” The Doctor turns to the Master, whose normally insufferable bottom lip pout is scruffily absent. “You, too, Koschei. You remember when I crashed through the ceiling and played stupid with the shiny objects, don’t you Kos’? After all you were there as well. You were so beautiful, and I was so proud to know you.” He smiles a little. “So very proud.”

Koschei of Oakdown meets the Doctor’s gaze as though a shooting star has just landed in his latte. In other words, cool and sleek and usual. Usually flabbergasted, that is.

“…to –know- me? As in you –knew- I wouldn’t be dead after entering the Time Lock with the others? Prat. I think there’s an award for being the biggest, really.” The Master waves his hand in languid dismissal like the last fish caught before the fry. “Oh you two don’t have to mind me; please continue. I would have brought refreshments, but the Doctor has that covered. We had best check his pockets for jelly babies though- I hear they’re addictive to prenatal brains. Explains a lot. He must have tossed them into the Loom during The Event at Lungbarrow.” He turns, belatedly, back to the Doctor and says, “… on that note… you were –playing-?”

The Doctor sighs, then leans back in his chair and pulls a foot across his knee. He rests one hand on his stomach for a moment, then arranges his arms behind his head and settles back. He says, as he closes his eyes and turns his head into the crook of his elbow to sleep, “It might be prudent to send a team out there. And I know just the people. I’ll tell you tomorrow.” He pushes himself up from the chair.

“In a moment.” The Master gripes, shoving a hand down across the Doctor’s belly and forcing him back down. “What’s funny is you think you’re actually going. Where’s your sense of duty to that child?”

The Doctor smiles. “Duty? Duty is as duty does. I care about your –girlfriend- just as much as you do. Now leave off- I’m going to visit Jack. And Koschei…” his eyes glitter like flecks of goldstone suddenly, and he watches the Master’s upper body dart back in hindbrain fear, despite itself. “…touch me like that again and I’ll have your head for breakfast on my best silver.”

“…somehow I don’t doubt it, Theta. Very well. I’ll never understand you and your bloody mood swings.”

As the two men leave from opposite doors, Rassilon grabs his chin and tilts his head in the Doctor’s direction.

“…as always, you are a source of endless fascination, old friend. See that you don’t lose sight of the goal, as I did.”


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