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The Name of the Game

The Name of the Game
By: Memory Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, nor do I make any claim to.   Nor do I own the concept of Dust, which I stole from Babylon 5 and beefed it up to make it new kinds of terrible.
Characters: Third Doctor/Delgado Master, the Brigadier
Warnings:  Though my beta reader calls this condensed awesome, the real life drama this fic got caught up in still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I dunno.  I just don't really like either of them.  Also, I'm pretty sure there is absolutely horrifically bad technobabble in this that would make my cousin who is earning her biomedical engineering degree cringe.  However, this is Three and Three era is known for bad science, so I think it fits.
Notes: This is a sequel to Foolish Games... except it's not a sequel at all.  Think of it like the two Fourth Doctor serials, Ark in Space and The Sontaran ExperimentArk in Space effectively sets up the reason for being there in The Sontaran Experiment but has little or nothing to do with the plot other than a few beginning remarks.  Without Foolish Games, this fic would have no reason for the Doctor being in this particular situation, but you don't really need to read the other fic in order to understand this one.  You can just take it as 'Events x in Serial A have caused Events y in Serial B, but really aren't that important' sort of backdrop and dive in.
Thanks: Many thanks to narwhale_callin for betaing this and telling me it was worth posting regardless of my issues with it.

~

"Are you sure that thing is working, Doctor?" the Brigadier asked, leaning over to get a better look at the device in front of the Doctor. 

"My dear Lethbridge-Stewart, I'm quite certain it's not working," the Doctor snapped.  "I wouldn't be trying to fix it otherwise."

The Brigadier said nothing to the insubordinate tone or the obvious annoyance in the Doctor's eyes.  He was quite used to it by now, and the Doctor was generally the exception to every rule.  As long as the Doctor didn't push too hard, the Brigadier didn't push back. 

Besides, everyone at UNIT knew of the Doctor's current temper.  It was nine days after a harrowing encounter with the Master over a dangerous alien substance, and the Doctor was cursing the temporal bypass converter for refusing to work properly when the Brigadier had stopped by.  It was probably an attempt to cheer the Doctor up, but the Doctor was in no mood to be cheery. And right now the Doctor was furious with a particular bearded idiot, and he had a problem in front of him.  The Brigadier wasn't helping.  He could see that the Brigadier understood this fact, but for some reason the man didn't make a discreet exit.

The Brigadier held up a packet of fine black powder for the Doctor to see, proving he hadn't just come in to talk.  "A man named Peter said to give this to you."

The Doctor's head shot up in surprise, snatching the bag away from the Brigadier with great care before putting it on the table.  He motioned for the Brigadier not to touch it as he pulled on a pair of gloves.  "I left specific instructions for him to bring it to me personally," the Doctor said as he checked the package to make sure there were no leaks.  He wasn't going to take any chances with a drug this dangerous, not when it was pathogenic and the Master was so clearly interested in getting his hands on it. The only reason he'd given it to a human in the first place was to throw the Master off the scent and give him some time to look up how to destroy the substance.

"He said he had to be at work in fifteen minutes and didn't have the time for you to show him around," the Brigadier said, hiding a small smile.  They both knew the Doctor had wanted to show off and possibly gain a new assistant in the process, but Peter had seen through that ruse.  That didn't stop the Doctor from sulking, however. 

Though, right now he needed to focus on getting rid of the dangerous West Henisien Dust Peter had delivered for him.  Sulking could start later.  "Brigadier, could you fetch me the container in the cooler please?" the Doctor asked impatiently, wanting to get started on sulking properly.

He got a raised eyebrow as he continued to check over the package, but the Brigadier did as he asked.  With Jo out on an errand, the Doctor had to make do with whatever help he could get, even if it was the Brigadier. 

The Brigadier returned with a pail of white liquid that the Doctor had set aside this morning and glanced up at him questioningly.  "Is there any reason you've asked me to get milk?" the Brigadier asked when no answer was forthcoming. 

"West Henisien Dust is a very sturdy molecular compound, Brigadier.  It can only be dissolved completely in certain circumstances.  A positive electrical charge of casein protein micelles found in milk, plus the slight acidity of the liquid are about the only things in the universe that can do it," the Doctor explained as he set the sonic screwdriver to the correct frequency.  That set, he opened the packet containing the drug as carefully as he could.  "The only problem is that the protein micelles in milk are always negative.  But that's easily fixed by reversing the polarity once I pour the Dust in.  And good riddance to it."

The Brigadier's eyebrows continued to steadily creep up his forehead.  In the end, he merely shook his head and let the Doctor babble on.  "I'll take your word for it then, so long as it's destroyed before the Master can get a hold of it."  The Doctor nodded.  It was something they both agreed on for once.  The Master had been a fool to want to use the Dust and the Doctor had been fuming at the discovery of just what the Master had been trying to get all week.

Looking around for a cloth to make sure none of the dust became airborne, the Doctor and the Brigadier were both surprised to hear a third voice interrupt their conversation.  "Actually, Doctor, I think you'll find handing it over to me would be the best course of action."

The Master always did like picking his times.  The Doctor looked up to see the Master pointing his Tissue Compression Eliminator at them both in a very threatening manner.  "That was a clever ploy to keep me distracted, Doctor," the Master continued.  "But you didn't really think it could fool me?  All I had to do was wait for the boy to bring it back to UNIT.  Now, Brigadier, let's not be hasty.  Put your gun on the ground and slide it towards me, if you would."

The Brigadier stilled.  His hand had slowly been reaching for his gun as the Master spoke, hoping to avoid the Master's attention.  "Do as he says, Brigadier," the Doctor said quietly.

"Doctor, you said if he-"

"Not to worry, old chap," the Doctor said confidently.  It was largely a bluff, but the Brigadier trusted the Doctor to have a plan.  As long as the Brigadier thought he had a plan, he was less likely to do something foolish to give the Doctor time to destroy the drug.  It was selfish, perhaps, but the Doctor didn't want either the Master or the Brigadier to be hurt in this encounter. 

The Brigadier looked about to argue regardless, but the Master shifted the TCE in the Doctor's direction.  Finally, the Brigadier lowered himself to the ground and placed his gun down, before standing back up and kicking it toward the Master.

Smiling charmingly, the Master took a few steps forward.  "Now, Doctor.  Don't try anything foolish like dropping the packet in the milk.  I'm sure I could get to it before you manage to reverse the polarity, so please hand it over."

"Even for you this is a ridiculously foolish thing to do," the Doctor said as the Master continued to walk forward.  He was honestly angry with the Master for even attempting to use the drug, but the consequences of losing his temper here would be unthinkable.  He kept his anger tightly controlled, though he let the Master hear it in his voice.  "It could overload your brain in a matter of seconds.  Your psychic abilities would be enhanced, but you won't be in control of-"

"I don't need your lectures, Doctor.  Just let me have the Dust," the Master repeated, the TCE moving back to point at the Brigadier. 

The Doctor could see the anger in the Brigadier's eyes, and his opinion on what the Doctor should do was apparent.  The Doctor ignored it, however, knowing he could count on the Brigadier to move when he was needed.  The Doctor held out the packet for the Master to take, holding it loosely in his hands.  "Don't blame me if you put out a star," the Doctor said.

Greed entered the Master's eyes as he reached out for the packet.  His attention shifted from the Brigadier as he reached out to take the drug, and it was in that moment the Brigadier sprang into action.  Knocking the TCE out of the way, the Brigadier started to grapple with the Master for control of it.

"Don't!" the Doctor shouted as the Master's hand knocked against his, sending the open packet out of his hands and hitting the Brigadier right on the cheek.

The Master froze as the Doctor did, but the Brigadier kept on and wrestled the Master to the floor while he was distracted.  Swallowing, the Doctor moved to retrieve the packet.  The white powder had spilled on the floor, but the majority of it was still in the packet.  Later, the Doctor would wash the floor with milk, but for now he swept up as much as he could onto a sheet of paper and dumped it into the milk as quickly as he could. 

He'd just gotten to his screwdriver and started reversing the polarity when the Master started screaming.  Chills went down the Doctor's spine, though he didn't move until the milk started clumping together and he was sure the Dust had disintegrated. 

Footsteps outside in the hall could barely be heard over the Master's scream, but the Doctor forced himself to concentrate.  The Doctor wasn't prone to religion, but the fact that it was Sergeant Benton that stormed in was probably some act of good Karma being revisited on them.  "Doctor, what's-"

"Sergeant, whatever you do, do not enter the room!  Keep everyone else out as well," the Doctor ordered, carefully making his way around the spill area to where the Brigadier and the Master were.  By this point the Master's scream had faded to whimpering, but the sound of it still echoed in the Doctor's head.

He knelt down next to the Brigadier on the opposite side the dust had hit, making very sure not to touch either of them.  The Brigadier's eyes had gone completely black.  "Brigadier?  Can you hear me, Brigadier?  I need you to let go of him, old chap."

"Doctor," the Brigadier said, his voice unsteady as he seemed to have trouble breathing.  "I can see into his mind.  Every thought he's ever had.  How..?"

"It's the Dust.  You've gotten a bit of it on you," the Doctor explained, not looking at the Master.  "It should fade, given time.  But you should let go for now, Brigadier."  The Brigadier didn't move, still staring at the Master underneath him.  Gingerly, the Doctor reached out to the Brigadier's shoulder.  "You're hurting him." 

The Brigadier's hands immediately let go as he tried to push himself away.  The human gasped as he stumbled back, his mind already searching for a new target to focus on.  The Doctor acted fast, pulling the Brigadier over to the TARDIS until they were both leaning against the blue wall.  "Can you hear her?" the Doctor asked, letting the Brigadier slide to the floor.  "Focus on her voice.  She'll help give you control."

"Is she singing?" the Brigadier asked, staying where he was.  His blackened eyes trailed up the wall as he placed a hand against the TARDIS.

The Doctor pet her side fondly, a sudden ache to hear her as the Brigadier did nearly crippling him.  "It sounds like she's really quite fond of you," he said, to cover the envy.  Wishing the Dust had hit him instead so he could blast through this damned block the Time Lords put on his memory wouldn't serve any purpose and was just as foolish as whatever plans the Master had for the Dust.  "Just listen to her sing for now, Brigadier."

"Is the Brigadier alright, Sir?" Benton asked from the doorway, a worried expression on his face.

The Doctor couldn't have blessed him more for following orders.  Or more likely, trusting the Doctor.  Either way, Benton was just the sort of person to have around in a situation like this.  "I don't think enough of the drug got on him to cause any lasting damage, Sergeant.  It's just a matter of waiting for it to get out of his system."

"It's awfully good to hear that, Doctor," the Sergeant said as he offered the Doctor a broad smile.  The grin faltered when his eyes glanced down at the Master's body, which had gone still.  "What about him, then?  Is he..?"

"I suspect he'll be alright too," the Doctor said with a mental sigh. He hoped so, at any rate.  The Master was very good at surviving in general, but this time...  No, it wasn't the time to think about that.  "I wouldn't fear for his sake, Sergeant Benton.  I do need you to evacuate everyone out of here though, within a ten-mile radius.  Not even Jo should be allowed through.  Anyone without proper psychic shields is just going to hurt the Brigadier more in his current state."

"Are you sure?  They both look like they could use a doctor," Benton said, worry returning to his face.

At this, the Doctor stood up and placed his hands on his hips.  "I assure you, Sergeant, while I may not be a medical doctor, I am perfectly able to take care of this sort of problem and probably a lot better than any of your human physicians could."

Benton started grinning again as he gave the Doctor a salute.  "Yes, Sir!  I'll leave them both to you, Doc.  Take care of him for us." 

"My dear fellow, that's what I intend to do," the Doctor said, but Benton was already turning on his heels and giving orders.  Shaking his head, the Doctor turned back to his two patients.  He was torn, wanting to help both of them at the same time.  Perhaps he shouldn't have sent Benton away.  He could have trusted the man to look after the Master while he took care of the Brigadier.

No, that wouldn't work, not if the Brigadier lost control.  Benton's life would have been in far more danger and with less of a chance of recovery.  The Master was fine where he was resting for now, which meant the Doctor had to keep the Brigadier sane until everyone evacuated. 

Finding a washcloth, the Doctor wet it in the milk and gathered a few other things he might need from the TARDIS before returning to the Brigadier's side. His eyes were still a dark obsidian that showed no white at all, and the Doctor found his reflection in the Brigadier's alien eyes one of the most eery things he had encountered in recent memory.  Those weren't eyes that could see on their own.  They reflected and saw through other people and the Doctor found the sensation unnerving. "How are you feeling, old chap?" the Doctor asked, his mouth feeling suddenly very dry. 

The Brigadier winced at the sound, his hand rubbing his temples.  "Do people always think this loudly?"

The Doctor chuckled.  "That's just the effects of the drug growing stronger.  Everyone should be evacuated before it reaches its full strength."

"You mean this isn't the worst of it?" the Brigadier asked casually, though the Doctor could feel the fear that was coursing through him at the thought.  The Brigadier had no more control over what he was broadcasting than what thoughts he had picked up from the Master.  All the more reason to send people away.  "You could have mentioned that before the Master knocked that blasted packet out of your hand," he continued.

"You'll be asleep through the worst of it," the Doctor said firmly, because he had no intention of letting the Brigadier suffer the worst of the drug's effects nor let him accidentally sift through the Doctor's mind with a simple glance.  He'd still be a danger unconscious, which is why everyone had to be sent away before the Doctor even attempted it, but the Doctor would manage as long as he and the TARDIS kept vigilance.  "You just have to keep control until everyone has evacuated, then I can put you to sleep."

"Everyone but you," the Brigadier said, this time with the fear and worry creeping into his voice. 

"Everyone but me," the Doctor repeated.  The Master was still here as well, but the Doctor was putting him in the TARDIS' zero room the next chance he had.  He'd be safe enough in there and only the Doctor would be in any real danger.

"Doctor," the Brigadier started, his eyes leaving the Doctor's face for the first time since the Doctor leaned down.  The Doctor hadn't realized what a relief it was to not have the Brigadier staring at him.  "My gun is under the table over there.  If I start to go out of control-"

"Don't be absurd," the Doctor said, cutting him off.  "I intend to do exactly as I promised Sergeant Benton.  That doesn't involve shooting you, self-defense or not.  Just be careful not to have direct skin contact and you should be fine."

"Doctor..."

The Doctor pat the Brigadier's shoulder at the warning in his voice.  He was touched by the amount of concern he could feel from the Brigadier.  He'd known the Brigadier cared about the people under his command and had seen it frequently.  He'd even known, vaguely, that this extended to him, and he did have a habit of worrying the Brigadier.  It was quite another thing to actually feel the Brigadier's concern and know the depth of it for everyone at UNIT HQ -- even more deeply for those he considered friends.  The Doctor was at the top of that list.  For a moment, he didn't quite know what to say.

"There's always the TARDIS, if worst comes to worst," the Doctor said finally, opening his thoughts up to let the Brigadier see the truth of that.  He couldn't take the Brigadier into the TARDIS without overwhelming his senses; outside of the TARDIS' shields, the Brigadier could benefit from her.  But inside the shielding, she would overwhelm him in his current state since he didn't have the telepathic control to put together a shield of his own.  It was a refuge for the Doctor and the Master if things got too bad, however.  "Now, let me clean the Dust off so we can limit its effects."

The Brigadier nodded, relaxing when he realized the Doctor had some defenses.  He hissed in pain as the Doctor gently started to wipe his cheek with the washcloth and the Doctor was all too aware of how even with the gloves and the cloth that the Brigadier could still charge through his mind just like he had with the Master. 

"How is he?" the Brigadier asked, picking up on the thought. 

Continuing to clean away the Dust, the Doctor spared a glance back at the Master.  "He's sleeping sound enough for now and probably will for a while.  I'm surprised to hear you ask about him."

"I just saw his whole life," the Brigadier said as he closed his eyes wearily.  Again, the Doctor immediately felt the effects of not having those eyes on him, though he tried to keep the Brigadier from feeling that.  "All of it, Doctor.  I think I know him better than I've ever known anyone.  That wasn't right, was it?"

"No, I'm afraid it wasn't," the Doctor said honestly.  As nice as the Brigadier's new-found empathy could be, it had come at too high a cost.  "It wasn't your fault though.  If anything, it was his own folly for bringing something so dangerous to Earth in the first place.  Don't blame yourself for something that happened under the effect of the drug." 

The Brigadier said nothing for a moment, just tensing under the Doctor's hands.  The Doctor tightened his own mental shields in the hope that it would give the Brigadier some reprieve from the intrusive thoughts around him.  "Did you know he's in love with you?" the Brigadier asked after a moment of adjusting to the pain.

The Doctor very nearly dropped the washcloth at the question, almost reaching to rub the back of his neck before he remembered the reason he was wearing gloves.  "I was aware," he said dryly, attempting to keep all memory of their past affairs out of his mind.  Even if the Brigadier had probably seen it all through the Master's eyes, there was no reason to let him see the Doctor's side of things as well. 

Shaking his head, the Brigadier opened his eyes again, staring at the Doctor without seeing him, yet seeing and understanding the Doctor's soul far better than he ever had before.  "No, Doctor.  I don't think you are," the Brigadier said.

Folding the washcloth over, the Doctor wondered what that meant.  He'd been about to ask when the Brigadier grabbed his arm with a bruising grip.  He could feel the Brigadier's panic as the drug continued to expand his mental abilities, and it took all of the Doctor's will power to not let it overwhelm him as well.  Pushing back against the Brigadier's mind, the Doctor forced a controlled pulse of calm against him.  "Easy now, Brigadier.  You've been doing a splendid job of controlling it so far.  Just listen to the TARDIS."

It was a small wonder the Master had been helpless against this onslaught.  The Doctor was barely managing to hold on to his sense of self against the Brigadier, and that was with the help of the TARDIS.  Just before his shields were broken, the Brigadier pulled back and mentally grasped at the control the TARDIS was offering.

"Doctor?" the Brigadier gasped, looking painfully young and frightened to the Doctor's eyes.

"It's alright, Alistair.  I'm alright," the Doctor reassured, though he was trembling at both the effort and in fear of what had nearly happened.  His first instinct was to take hold of the Brigadier's hand in comfort, but the Brigadier's hands were bare.  Instead, the Doctor squeezed his shoulder gently, making sure to keep as much fabric between them as he could. 

"Is this permanent, Doctor?" the Brigadier asked once he'd regained more of his composure.

"No," the Doctor said, taking the Brigadier's wrist through the fabric of his jumper so the Doctor could clean his hands.  He'd seen the Brigadier rubbing at his cheek earlier to get the powder off.  The jumper itself would have to go as well, since he didn't think the milk stains would come out very well, but right now the Doctor focused on what was in direct contact with the Brigadier's skin.  "It should wear off in a few days, though I'm afraid you'll have a hangover for a bit longer than that.  You'll be back to normal and working again in about two weeks.  And before you ask, not any sooner.  Your body needs to recover from the effects of the drug, so you're getting a lot of bed rest.  I'm sure everyone will be more than willing to make sure you get it when I have to keep you here for observation if I think you're not getting it at home."

The Brigadier raised his eyebrow in such a typical fashion that the Doctor couldn't help but smile.  It was far more reassuring to him that the Brigadier would be fine than any medical fact.  "I suppose there's no chance of avoiding it," he said, managing to put some humor into his voice.

"Absolutely none," the Doctor confirmed. 

They slipped into silence after that.  Any reassurance the Doctor could give the Brigadier would be understood before he could say it, so talking became unnecessary.  At the end of thirty minutes, however, the Brigadier was at the end of his rope, even with the TARDIS' help.  They couldn't afford to wait any longer, and the Doctor could only hope Benton had gotten everyone out by now. 

"I'm going to put you to sleep now, Alistair," the Doctor said as he prepped a needle with a sedative he had taken from the TARDIS' medical stores. 

"Will I remember any of this?" the Brigadier asked, the strain in his voice making the Doctor move a bit quicker.

It took him a moment to consider the question.  Memory loss wasn't a normal effect of Dust, but... "Do you want to remember, Brigadier?"

The Brigadier shook his head.  "It's enough to remember my own memories without having anyone else's in my head."

Smiling, the Doctor rolled up the Brigadier's sleeves.  "I'll see if I can't muddle the memories a bit when you're more stable.  Should that suffice?"  As he spoke, he slipped the needle into the Brigadier's vein and administered the drug. 

"Thank you, Doctor.  That will do nicely," the Brigadier said, though he was already sounding more distant, as if he were fighting sleep.  The sedative worked quickly, and those obsidian eyes were already falling shut.  His words slurred, "He's terribly afraid, you know."

"What?"

"He's afraid," the Brigadier repeated, oblivious to the Doctor's surprise.  He was quiet for so long that the Doctor almost thought he'd missed his chance to understand what the Brigadier was talking about, but the Brigadier stirred one last time.  "He's afraid of you not..."

The Doctor caught him before he slumped to the ground, hugging the Brigadier against him as he looked over to the Master's still prone form.  It was one of the single most absurd statements he'd heard anyone ever make.  The Master was afraid of him?  The Brigadier had to be talking about someone else.

But who else?  The Master was the only one he'd been in that much contact with, other than the Doctor.  The Doctor was fairly sure it wasn't him either, and the Brigadier had said... He'd specifically said that whoever the Brigadier had meant was afraid of the Doctor not... not doing whatever it was the Brigadier had been about to say.  It had to be the Master.

Which lead to some very uncomfortable conclusions, if the Doctor were to come up with his own theories to the end of the Brigadier's sentence.

The Doctor sighed and shook his head, leaning the Brigadier against the TARDIS.  He would move the Brigadier to a bed nearby when he was sure the sedative had settled him.  Right now he needed to make sure the dear idiot who was afraid of the Doctor not doing something would be alright. 

Kneeling down next to the Master, the Doctor quickly checked him over.  The shallow breathing and elevated heartsrate was worrisome, but it was the Master's mind he was most concerned with.  Leaning down, the Doctor placed his hands over the Master's temples.  "Contact."

The Master immediately tensed, whimpering as the Doctor's mind brushed against his.  "Sh," the Doctor said as he sent thoughts of comfort.  "I won't hurt you, old friend.  I just need to see how much damage was done."

He traced down the Master's neuro-pathways and was startled by the damage.  The Master had fought having his mind torn inside out rather than just letting the Brigadier in and having a neat wound.  The Doctor shook his head sadly, but was glad to find that the damage wasn't so deep that it couldn't be healed.  They'd all been lucky that the drug hadn't taken full effect when the Brigadier had attacked.  The Master would have a headache to match the Brigadier's when he woke up, but it was nothing that wouldn't heal with a few weeks' rest.  The Master was already in a healing trance, but the Doctor sent it deeper, giving the Master more of a chance to recover while soothing what he could. 

While he was here, the Doctor could take a look at what the Master was afraid of.  He doubted the Master would even remember the contact.  Given the fact that if the Master had taken the Dust, he'd have implanted his thoughts on nearly everyone in Great Britain and the rest of Earth depending on how much of the Dust he took, it wasn't like the Doctor wouldn't have known then.  He'd even know what to avoid that the Master was afraid of.  Or have something to hold over the Master if things went wrong like today.

...No, it was still morally wrong, no matter how the Doctor tried to reason it.  The question was, did he want to take the ethical path this time?  He was already half-way wandering down the Master's thoughts to find the source before he stopped himself, appalled at what he'd nearly done. 

The Doctor shook himself and pulled himself away from the Master's mind and the temptation.  Maybe he would confront the Master about it later, but now wasn't the time.  He needed to let the Master rest.

"Alright, old chap," the Doctor said as he picked the Master up.  "Let's get you to the zero room."

* * *

Three days later, the Doctor was exhausted.  Time Lords didn't need as much sleep as humans, but he had been continuously on guard.  The Brigadier, at least, had woken up for a few hours and was doing well, if still slightly telepathic.  The Doctor had to snatch his hand away from the Brigadier's forehead as he found that out the hard way, but overall the drug was leaving the Brigadier's system.  There would be withdrawal symptoms soon, but he put the Brigadier back to sleep before those could take hold.  The Brigadier was strong and still young; his body would be able to handle the aftershocks. 

It was the Master he was far more worried about.  Another check down to the zero room proved the Master still hadn't woken up yet.  The Doctor decided it was high time that he got a few hours sleep himself since there was nothing more he could do than wait.

He woke up four hours later than he had planned to, but feeling a lot more refreshed.  A quick check on the Brigadier proved him to still be sleeping.  He'd expected to find the Master in much the same state, and was rather surprised to find the zero room empty.

No, not empty.  Walking further into the rose-scented room, the Doctor found the Master curled up against one of the roundels next to the door and breathing shallowly.  "You should still be in the healing trance," the Doctor said with a sigh, letting the door shut behind him.

The Master groaned at the sound, curling further in on himself.  Perhaps it was uncharitable of him, but the Doctor hoped the Master learned something about foolishly tempting fate.  Somehow, he doubted it.  "By all rights I should just leave you in here to your misery," the Doctor scolded.  "You certainly deserve it this time, after what your foolish attempts to gain power have done to the Brigadier.  He'll be alright, no thanks to you."

"Then leave," he heard the Master say... or thought he heard the Master say.  It was rather hard to hear when his words were muffled against his legs.  "If you're under the impression that I care about those humans, you're sadly misinformed.  Leave."

He didn't leave.  Instead, the Doctor sat down next to the Master, but he didn't reach out just yet.  "Now that's a pity.  He was asking after you, you know.  You could at least show some remorse when your stupidity hurts other people."

The Master didn't respond this time, simply holding his head and whimpering.  Sighing again, the Doctor did reach out this time, pulling the miserable huddled ball of the Master against him.  There was no point in continuing to lecture the Master when he was in too much pain to comprehend it.  Indeed, there wasn't much point in lecturing the Master at all, considering he'd just go out and do something equally foolhardy and dangerous once he'd recovered, but it made the Doctor feel better.  His anger at what the Master had done had faded, but it was still there.  It was a pity he needed to keep his temper in check because of how hurt the Master was.

He started to soothe the Master's broken and painful neural paths.  This was more the Master's area of expertise, but the Doctor did what he could and slowly he felt the Master relax against him.  He didn't comment when his fingers came back damp as they brushed against the Master's cheek, though he did wish he had taken his jacket off once he realized it was going to get wet.  The Doctor was content to wait until the pain had resided enough for the Master to speak.

"He doesn't remember any of it," the Doctor said sometime later.

"Doctor, is that meaningless platitude supposed to make me feel better?" the Master asked, somehow managing to scoff even though he was still in so much pain.

"You're lucky he was willing to respect your privacy."

The Master looked up at him, the pain and fury in his expression one of the most honest things that the Doctor had seen there.  "He did the mental equivalent of raping my mind, and you're defending him?"

"My dear fellow, if that was rape then you were the one who slipped a date rape drug into his drink." The Doctor's eyes turned cold and he held the Master in place as he tried to pull away.  "What happened wasn't right, but it wasn't his fault either.  If you hadn't been playing these childish games for power-"

"This isn't a game!  It's always a game to you!" the Master hissed as he yanked himself away, only to curl up again in pain from the movement.

The Doctor stared at the Master for a few seconds, the answer to his earlier question found quite unintentionally just before the Master pulled away.  This was all one giant game to the Doctor, which meant he never took the Master seriously, not really.  Oh, he was serious enough when the Master started killing innocents, but not on the scale the Master wanted.  He could hardly believe the Master had done all of this just because he was afraid the Doctor wouldn't bother with him otherwise.

The dear idiot.  Sometimes the Doctor really wished the Master wasn't so insufferably stubborn.  "Come here," the Doctor said, drawing the Master back against him after he had collected himself.  This time the Master didn't fight and the Doctor ran his fingers through his salt and pepper hair.  "I take it this means it's never been a game to you?" the Doctor asked.

The Master didn't answer.

Fighting off yet another sigh, the Doctor told himself not to get frustrated.  Despite how much the Master might have needed the lesson, he still hadn't deserved what happened.  "I've been hurting you quite a lot, haven't I, old chap?  But there are better ways to ask me to be serious.  You didn't have to lie about it all this time." 

"You didn't have to believe me," the Master said, a little bit of spite mixing in with weariness. 

"No, I suppose I didn't."  It had been easier this way, believing the Master when he had said it was just a passing fancy.  Much easier to think that than to admit he was hurting the Master by treating their relationship so casually.  The Doctor honestly didn't know if he could reciprocate the Master's feelings to the point that he wanted. 

The Doctor looked down at the man in his arms, thinking over their games and love affairs.  It had been a lot of fun, even with the occasional death to mar the experience.  What would taking it one step further do, he wondered?

"I'm not opposed to trying it out," the Doctor said, almost not believing the words himself.

The Master certainly didn't believe him.  He had been resting his head against the Doctor's shoulder when he looked up in shock.  "If this is out of pity-"

"It's not," the Doctor said, placing a kiss on the Master's forehead.  "I believe I mentioned easier ways of asking.  Whether it will work is an entirely different matter."  The Doctor shrugged, hugging the stunned Master a bit tighter.  Then he smiled down at the Master with every ounce of charm he had.  "I'm game to try it if you are."

Wincing at the pun, the Master leaned back against him after a small nod.  Leaving their trappings of games behind was a frightening concept for both of them, but the Doctor felt a thrill at the fear.  This was uncharted territory and the Doctor was ready to explore.

~FINI~

Memory: And there you have it.  I'm kind of glad to just be done with these fics...

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
elviaprose
Aug. 25th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
Yay! You reversed the polarity of Alistair Gordon-Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell-Lethbridge Stuart and it worked and I loved it. The part where the Doctor had to control his jealousy of the Brig's ability to listen to the TARDIS was my favorite, but the whole thing was great.
dragonofmemory
Aug. 25th, 2011 02:19 am (UTC)
*blushes* Thanks! He did have his whole world view widened with all the Master's memories and the TARDIS speaking to him, so I imagine he'd have gotten a bit of the Master's frustration with the Doctor. He's probably not one to meddle, but even the Brigadier can feel sorry for what the Master's had to put up with. XD I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks again for the comments.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )