Disclaimer: I own nothing but the general plot and OCs
This is more like a mini chapter. Before I start to write the rest of what would have been this 6-10k word chapter, I'd like to know if readers would rather; I spend a few chapters on developing the pre relationship of Harry and the Doctor on the Valiant, or summarise the year in a single chapter and focus on their development after the year-that-never-was is fixed.
On the Valiant would mean a greater depth look at how they got to know each other and what exactly was said/done at times. It would also stretch out the mystery of Harry back story. The latter would lead to the same sort of development occurring but laid out a bit like in the shows- where more adventury stuff actually happens alongside.
Either way romance would probably happen around the same pace for the reader.
Thank you so much for awesome reviews, as well as favs and follows- seriously I was blown away by the hundreds that in some way showed their appreciation for chapter one of this story. I never expected such a huge response for this! Let me know what works, or what doesn't work for you, as well as any prompts for scenes you'd like to see.
Chapter 2 - The Valiant Crow
It had been three weeks since the end of the world began. The age of terror. The Master was caught up in his plans of universal warfare, Lucy too was enamoured with the Master's plans -his charismatic, if psychotic, charm thoroughly distracted her from almost anything else. Corvus, as always, was a useful ally of the Master's and helped in any way he could. He was the only one out of the three of them who did not participate in or seem to enjoy the Master's near daily taunting of the ancient looking Doctor. If anything, he seemed indulgent of the other two in their vicious taunting, but nothing more.
The Doctor had been largely stuck in his tent with his dog bowl to eat out of, silent in his grief and horror once he had finally figured out what exactly the origin story of the Toclafane was. His eyes held a distant sadness and a muted rage, as though his mind was always preoccupied with something else to feel much more.
Regardless of the Master's near obsession with the Doctor, he was fairly easily distracted with his plans and it often fell to Corvus to ensure the Doctor received the bare necessities besides food and water, such as a wash and clean clothes. Despite this, it was still nearly three weeks before Corvus and the Doctor actually spoke to each other.
Corvus approached the Doctor himself for his wash, rather than delegating a guard to help the old man. He strolled casually toward the Time Lord's tent, hands in pockets.
"Get up. Wash," he informed in a slightly bored tone. The Doctor heaved a silent and tired sigh, before exiting his tent in a crawl.
The Doctor was exhausted in his body and his mind was constantly working away, leaving him with very little energy. He craned his neck upward and saw with some surprise that it was the Master's fake son himself who was to see to the Doctor's needs.
After the brief flicker of emotion he shrugged it aside and looked left and right for his wheelchair, slightly resentful as always for his need for it. He was used to his ability to run to and fro, wander here and there that to have his mobility restricted to such an extent was painful.
When he saw no wheel chair he looked up at Corvus in confusion. Did the young man expect him to crawl? He wouldn't put anything past someone who appeared to get on with Master so well.
"You'll be walking today. You still can and your muscles need fairly frequent use or they'll atrophy eventually. The Master may be a genius but he tends to forget about the little details like this. I think he's so used to you being mobile and dynamic and beating him that he doesn't know quite what to do with you now you're old. Besides mock you."
The Doctor said nothing in reply, holding fast to his silence, and shakily made his way onto his feet. The lazy geniality of the young man's tone was something of a surprise, but he was all too aware that sometimes cruel hearts lay behind appealing fronts.
The light touches to his elbows as The Master's fake son gently manoeuvred himself into a position to support him if the doctor stumbled was even more of a surprise. It was a casual move that seemed more subconscious than anything, and perhaps another would have taken Corvus' actions as pity, or pointed condescension, or perhaps something he was instructed to do. The Doctor, however, saw the unthinking and at ease quality of his support and knew better.
With brief nudges to his back from the other, the Doctor began to walk in a direction that was unfamiliar to him.
"Sir, the showers are in the other direction," one of the arms guards by the doors commented in confusion.
"I'm aware. My rooms are closer, however. They too have a perfectly serviceable shower," came Corvus' firm voice behind the doctors ear, not unkindly.
"Yes, sir," the guard stammered in response, flushing red slightly.
The journey toward the private bathroom passed at a slow shuffle, but the silence between them wasn't awkward or tense.
"I've sent for a clean pair of clothes. They're nothing quite so personalised as your current outfit, but I'm sure you'll manage," he informed the Doctor as they entered into the man's impressively sized room, toward his en suite, "there's a plastic chair in there in case you need to sit down while you wash. I'd wait for you out here, but everyone on this vessel has been informed by the Master not to leave you alone in a room at all costs."
It was only as they stepped into the large bathroom, where he was left to his own devices while Corvus sat in the corner on a seat and began to tap away at a phone, that the Doctor realised he was getting to clean himself with hot water for once.
It was such a small pleasure in the grand scheme of things, but he allowed a twitch of his cheek that might have become a smile if the world wasn't looking so very grim.
As the weeks went by, it became clear that either by convenience, the Master's orders, or out of personal choice Corvus had taken over the Doctor's scheduled shower. Words rarely passed between them at first, and when they did it was always from Corvus to the Doctor. However the young man was never actively cruel, and although he was impersonal like everyone else he was different.
The guards regarded the Doctor with a mixture of dehumanising apathy, and respectful wariness; he was clearly the Master's enemy laid low, someone the Master took pleasure in publicly humiliating time and time again, he slept in a tent on the floor and ate out of a dog bowl, but he was also someone powerful enough that the Master would consider them an enemy in the first place, a shared race with the Master, a shared history, someone the Master himself was still wary of in many ways despite his physical incapability. The guards were all too human in their reactions to him.
Corvus on the other hand, was something of an enigma. The young man more than anyone else should have been aware of the Doctor's inhumanity, of his age and his power, due to his closeness to the Master thanks to the young man's ability to weather the mad Timelord's capriciousness without blinking an eye.
The Master's fake son seemed to treat the Doctor with more humanity than any other. He was not humbled, or wary, nor pitying nor disgusted at what he saw when he looked at what was left of the mighty race of Timelords.
Month two approached on the Valiant, and the Doctor had not opened his mouth to say a word, but he had been watching and listening. He had witnessed the guard rotation in all areas of the Valiant he got to see, he had listened to the idle gossip they occasionally shared with each other in his presence, he had remembered their names and their personalities, he had snatched tidbits of information about Martha's family and Jack and hoarded them carefully.
He watched as the Master became slowly but steadily more manic the longer he was pent up without an enemy to actively defeat. He heard the faltering steps of Lucy Saxon on the days she had been on the receiving end of the Master's building intolerance.
He saw the uncertain side eyed glances the guards gave each other when the Master swept into the room with too little challenge, too little to do, this was too easy, no fun, boredboredboredboreddrumsinmyhead.
He saw that on the surface things appeared as terrible and hopeless and seamless and unbeatable as ever, but cracks were showing underneath. Bit by bit, muttered doubt by muttered doubt, day by day. The Master never had been good at keeping people loyal who weren't forced to stay there.
Which made the steady and unwavering rock that was Corvus Saxon all the more noticeable.
Even at the Master's most unstable, the young man could withstand the tempest that was an unhinged Timelord. The Doctor never saw or heard of a flicker of dissatisfaction from Corvus. The young man stood aside without a twitch when the Master tormented Jack in front of the Doctor, or invented a new and cruel humiliation for him.
The Doctor knew there humans out there that just didn't feel emotions the same as everyone else. Those incapable of empathy and with no regard for the well-being of their fellow man. Corvus gave every indication of being one of these people.
Except that when the Doctor was alone with Corvus, he caught glimpses that just didn't fit. He was courteous, polite, mindful of the Doctor's physical difficulties and sometimes he said things that gave little hints of someone who just didn't fit with who he was the rest of the time.
Despite the Doctor's constantly tired mind, he still had far too much time to do nothing but contemplate. He had hundreds of years to think back on and mull over, but that way lead to just as many tragedies and disasters as victories and happy memories. No, he'd rather think on his current situation for all that it didn't offer much more appeal.
He was wracked with guilt when he considered Jack and his own powerlessness to help, and so he turned his mind away from the man when he wasn't in sight - besides, if there was anyone who could come out of being treated so awfully with their sanity mostly in tact it was Captain Jack Harkness.
Guilt was also present when he thought on Martha's family, but from what little he'd heard, they were keeping their heads down and doing their best to blend in for the time being. Martha... everything hinged on Martha and he was simultaneously sick with worry about her and desperately clinging to his belief in her.
At least he could be certain that if there was any news on her he would know at the same time as anyone else outside of the Saxons. Whenever information came through on Martha, the Master lit up with rage, joy, hatred, charm and madness as he chased her across the globe and rubbed the hunt in her allies' and family's faces.
At the end of the day, though, there was only so much he contemplated Martha's current journey without a recent update of information. His thoughts could whir endlessly no doubt, but it would be a fruitless and frustrating endeavour.
The Master was too heartbreaking for him to think on much - the Doctor was filled with too much ugly emotion around his fellow mad Timelord, this new wound was too raw - so he chose not to.
When he considered Lucy Saxon, he only felt a deep sadness. She was clearly under the Master's thrall in more ways than one. The Master had used hypnosis and brainwashing to enforce loyalty and obedience in people who owed him nothing before, and clearly he had done so again. The Timelord treated her more like a pet he was increasingly inclined to abuse, and with her helpless mind and need to remain obedient sometimes she appeared as an abused pet too.
Even if the Master's control over her broke, it was likely that what he had done to her when she was helpless to him would deeply tarnish the health of her mind.
The Toclafane... he just couldn't.
All that was left to ponder over and pick apart was the contradiction that was Corvus Saxon. So for a lack of anything better to do, he did.
Which was why, when month two passed on the Valiant, he finally broke his self enforced silence toward the young man, once they were in the privacy of his rooms.
"Why," he quietly rasped, looking ahead as he stepped toward the bathroom.
If Corvus felt any shock at the Doctor speaking, it wasn't present in his voice when he replied.
"I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific, Doctor."
"Why do you follow the Master?"
Corvus' footsteps paused in the entrance to the bathroom behind him, and the slight pressure of his hands left the Doctor's elbows.
"I was there right from the start, when this blue phone box appeared out of thin air, and a mad alien with an insanely ambitious plan walked out of it. I knew then, that no matter what I had seen and been through, I was witnessing the edge of something so much bigger than I was, and I needed to know more.
"He took us to the end of the universe - Lucy and I, but just me at first. I saw it. I felt it. There was nothing but the last clinging crumbs of life. Black. Empty. Inevitable. What I saw terrified and confused and intrigued me. There was just death, and there was the Master. So I chose to follow the Master."
"You chose genocide," the Doctor rebutted in an unforgiving tone. There was a brief pause.
"I suppose I did," Corvus replied, sounding as kind and calm as he ever did.
No more words were shared between them that day.
Also for anyone who chooses to let me know which of the two directions they would prefer going forward, I post on ao3 too and will be asking the same question of those readers. I'll take both into account when writing the next bits but I'm only going to be writing one version. So... one site may outvote the other.