To Suffer Love
"Suffer love! A good ephitet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will."
Benedick - Much Ado About Nothing
When the Doctor finds the Master, she's taken control over a small moon on the other side of the universe, and it takes him all of half an hour to free the people she's enslaved and shut down the entire operation.
"Oh don't look at me like that," she says to him in her English voice as she follows him into his TARDIS afterward, "I got bored."
"Yes but when most people are bored, they don't become dictators of planets only to get bored again within the hour," he replies, gritting his teeth. He doesn't know how it's possible to be so furious with her and yet so entirely unsurprised, but then, he's been doing it almost his entire life.
"Nobody's perfect." She hangs her umbrella over the railing and her hat on top of it and then claps her hands. "Oh, I do like what you've done with the place."
Well, that makes for a change.
"Where's your girl?" Missy asks. "I would've thought she'd be here...not that I'm complaining about having you all to myself." She bats her eyes at him and maybe it would have worked if she hadn't mentioned Clara.
"She's safe at home, with Danny," he says. "Perfectly happy without me hanging around."
The look she gives him almost suggests she knows something more, but with a hint of Scot in her voice, she just says, "If you say so."
Just the mention of Clara sends him straight back to that graveyard, with his impossible girl's tears and cold fury driving him to take the small device that could have ended everything right there.
"It's sweet that she doesn't know a teleport when she sees it," Missy continues, fully Scottish in her speech, working her way all around the console until she's standing right next to him, "But then it certainly makes your life easier, doesn't it, love?"
"Shut up," he growls. She's not wrong. That's exactly the problem, the problem that hasn't changed over all the centuries. That she knows him all too well.
Her hand comes up to touch his face and he almost allows it but jerks away at the last second. When he steps around the console to get away from her, she only follows.
"Oh come on, don't be like that," she coos.
He just glares at her. "You don't get to act like you're, as you put it, one of 'my girls'."
She snorts as she discards her coat and throws it over the railing carelessly. "I should hope not, dear, as they could never hope to measure up."
The Doctor is torn between grudgingly telling her that she's right and sharply telling her that she is entirely wrong, and when neither urge wins a way out of his mouth, he just clasps it shut and sits down on the jump seat.
When she glances over at him, again he is transported back to being surrounded by tombstones and her pleading with him. I need my friend back. The memory is bittersweet on his tongue and all he can think of is her right in front of him, begging, her, the one who always had to be the Master of all. Who would never bend a knee to anyone, least of all him, suddenly on both.
"That's a big frown, even for your eyebrows," Missy says in her English accent, her smile not showing the quietness of her voice, "What's in that handsome grey head of yours?"
Honestly, and oh so tiredly, he murmurs, "You."
She grins at him. It lacks warmth, as it always has, and therefore shouldn't be able to stir the troublesome feelings in his hearts that it does.
"See? You pretend to be mean, but I know you love me really."
The chipper and smug tone of her words grates against him to no end, and he jumps from the seat to stand only inches from her.
"No," he says firmly, and she just smirks up at him.
That's when she tries to put her arms around his waist. Like lightning, he grabs her wrists and has her pressed back against the console.
"No," he says again, steel in his voice.
"You know, you've been a lot of things over the centuries, Doctor, but monosyllabic isn't one of them," she says, giggling, "What's wrong?"
"You're wrong, everything about you is wrong," he mutters, his nose almost touching hers. She's surprisingly solemn in the face as she regards him, though he feels her body wriggling against his where he has it trapped against the edge of the console. "Everything about all of this."
His hand is grasping the tiny grey box that could end her life with the press of the button, and its all he can do to keep himself from shaking. His oldest...well, his oldest everything, who had been on her knees pleading for friendship, is now quiet in the face of death. He can remember once screaming at her to live and her refusing, only to die in his arms. How the tables have turned.
"I won, remember?" She breathes, tilting her face up to his. "You even said. No take-backsies."
"No, I very easily forgot about being a second away from killing you," he says sarcastically.
The Master just smiles at him. "But what a second it was." She tilts her head, her hands coming to rest on his waist with no resistance from him this time. "Could you have really done it? Killed me?"
He thinks she knows the answer, but she lives to torment him, so why would she hesitate to ask when she can make him squirm?
Because love, it's not an emotion. Love is a promise. And he will never hurt her. It had taken him a long time to admit to himself that he hadn't just been talking about Danny.
"No," he whispers so quietly that if she hadn't been nose to nose with him she wouldn't have been able to hear. Admitting it feels like a victory and a defeat all at once. Only with her is he laden with the conflicting urges to strangle her and put his arms around her every time they meet. So many times he has needed to kill her, for justice, to save lives.
But in the end, in that so very vital final second, that promise blazes white hot and suddenly he just can't. Every time.
At the tiny yet infinitesimal word, Missy smiles. Not her manic smile, the one that is so purely Master. This one's almost, almost soft. And when she speaks again, her voice is Scottish, thickly so, like she's trying to reach out to him.
"I'm not so sure," she says, but not in a way that accuses. She says it like they're talking about the weather and not whether he has the strength or weakness to take her life away. Betrayal, between them, is such a common speedbump in their chase of each other that it barely matters anymore. Especially not to her. "But it's nice of you to say."
His hands come up to cup her face, like they had in that graveyard when they were kneeling. And it's ridiculous, really, because usually they are so rough with each other, pain preceding pleasure. If only because they don't know how to coexist any other way. So much of their relationship is a thousand bad habits rolled into one toxic and addicting package.
But this time, when his palms meet her cool skin and he leans in to kiss her, it's so important to him to be gentle, gentler than this regeneration has ever been with anyone or any thing.
It's not awkward and rushed like in the graveyard (though he had been gentle with her even then), it's slow and yearning and everything he has never been supposed to want but does. The Master's hands rest on the small of his back and she barely returns the kiss, but he can feel it's only because she's so busy basking in it.
They linger, joined at the lips and face and waist without moving, because that would mean breaking the moment where everything fits and no one is killing anybody and things are a fraction less complicated. This moment is precious and one in a million and soon to be lost forever. And the Doctor knows he will treasure it even in his final breath.
When he finally pulls away, though only far enough that he can look into her endless eyes, he curses his weakness when he says, "Do you want to stay?"
The squeal she makes is both endearing and irritating and he just knows he's going to regret this. But she's always been his biggest mistake, and he's a very slow learner.
Inspired by this Tumblr post: nicolauda . tumblr post / 102658776167 /ashamed - reminder - i - am - doctor - master - shipper - trash
I was hit with unexpected feelings and this idea hit me so I ran with it. It's my first Doctor/Master fic but is going to be far from the last, don't worry!
Reviews are love!
p.s. Michelle Gomez is confirmed for next season and I am so excited I'm going insane.