Author's Note: This idea ambushed me while walking to class. I blame autumn weather. :) Anyway, it is at the moment only a pair of one shots. I may add on to it as ideas occur to me. Enjoy!
The flames crackle, a bright flare on the end of his torch. He stands by the stacked wood, the smell of herbs and sweet oils heavy in his nostrils. They are the closest approximations he could find to those traditionally used in the funeral rites of his–their–lost homeworld. Would he have appreciated the irony, laughed at as he might have in their long-ago childhood? Or would he have sneered, and mocked, and shown only contempt that his old adversary clung so desperately to the customs of a world they had both forsaken?
Well...now he'll never know. The dead keep their secrets from him, and always have. A mystery of this Creation he's never found an answer to.
He is alone up here, on these white cliffs of a small, out of the way planet that has been his battleground so often over the centuries. Just him and the wrapped, silent corpse. And what is he, but a corpse who hasn't remembered to stop breathing yet? Right now, at this time and in this place, he feels again the black despair he felt when he awoke after that last battle to find himself still alive. Alone, with the memory of Gallifrey burning vivid in his mind's eye.
And now, as a new seasoning, the bitter taste of irony. How many times had they battled one another across time and space, but mostly here on this little world? How many times had he left his adversary for dead, only to find him popping up again somewhere else like a damn weed? All those centuries, and the years after the war–which seemed longer than all his centuries together, though it had not been even half of one–alone in the empty vastness where once he'd heard his people, only to find that he was not, after all, the last. That his friend and enemy of old had, once again, survived.
Hope is a terrible thing. The writers never tell you how much it hurts. He'd known, even as the story of a pocketwatch tumbled from Martha's lips, he'd known who it would be, and found himself caught between a terrible fear and an equally terrible despair. Yana was a good man–if he could only persuade him to hang on to that self, to deny the other...
But hope betrayed him. And the worst thing, the most terrible irony of all, had followed. All those battles, in which they had done their best to end the other, and in the end it had been him, the eternal architect of his enemy's defeat, begging him not to die, to survive like he always had, not to leave him alone...Hope had lived again, that maybe with time and care they could be friends as they once had been, oath-brothers and allies.
Hope died with his enemy. He was alone. He would always be alone.
His eyes burn as he thrusts the torch into the pyre and watches the flames leap up, eager against the black backdrop of sea and sky. Smoke billows, and he moves several paces away to watch the corpse consumed.
And, strange thing: as smoke and sparks spiral up into the night he feels his hearts ease a little in their grief. Perhaps...perhaps this is not a thing of dark despair. Perhaps in death his ancient adversary has finally found the peace he never found in his tormented life. Perhaps, after all, it is for the best.
Peace can be a more soothing friend than hope. He realizes, in a sudden moment of clarity, that maybe it's time he found a little peace of his own.
There is a time for everything, and a season for all things under heaven. Standing in firelight of the Master's funeral pyre, the Doctor realizes that the time has come for him to make peace with some ghosts