Soul Catching

Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who...probably just as well, really...

Dedications: My love today goes to Vicky and Jamie...because you both rawk =]

A/N: Apologies for the angst-overload in this chapter, it felt necessary if I was going to attempt to do Last of the Time Lords any justice. According to a website I found whilst researching bits of this fic, 'soul catching' is a process that Gallifreyans can use to absorb another Gallifreyan's dying memories, so of course that led onto the whole ThetaKoschei part of this fic, because who wouldn't be thinking about the Doctor if he was your gorgeous ex-boyfriend and you were dying in his arms? Well, certainly not the Master, that's for sure! The rest of this fic will be ThetaKoschei drabbles and mostly unrelated; they're just snatches of the Master's memories...So, enjoy, I guess!

A/N Take Two: Please remember that all reviews are greatly appreciated so once you've finished reading, have a go at pressing that purdy li'l button at the bottom of the page...Pretty please with an even prettier Time Lord on top?

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Data Ghost

The gunshot reverberates throughout the Valiant, the sound bouncing off the metallic consoles and cascading down the walls.

The Master doubles over, his eyes wide and dark with shock. Dark crimson blood seeps thickly through his pristine white shirt, long tapered fingers of scarlet trickling across the silk of his stomach, matching the evening gown he had chosen for his murderess.

Lucy Saxon watches as her husband collapses to his knees, gradually freeing her from her jailer. She can barely feel the captain as he removes the gun from her trembling hands. She can hardly hear anything; all sounds are muffled. Sight is a blur of shaking dots of colours; touch is a blissfully numb tingle. The only sense that seems to have survived the explosion of that singular death-marked bullet is smell. The tainted tang of rust; the scent of bleeding death dissipating throughout the room, making her head reel as she watches the scene of screaming silence in front of her; an impassive stranger.

The Doctor catches him as he falls; Koschei, his wonderful, deranged Koschei who could have been so beautiful, who always was so beautiful that it almost hurt. As he lays the Master down on the cold wooden floor of the Valiant, head resting on his thigh, he wonders when they were last this close to each other. The Master's breathing is slow and laboured, painful in each inhalation, struggle as each puff of air escapes him. Regeneration should be easy, which is why the Doctor finds himself screaming, begging him to do it, to stop toying with him and get on with it. Just because he's seen it happen before, doesn't make it hurt any less.

The Master's refusal is cold. He doesn't care what the Doctor wants or needs, or what Theta would have wanted; he just wants to win, just this once. He wants to push it until the Doctor realises what he has refused, the chance he has taken from them. But that's the bravado talking. If he was completely honest with himself, he'd see the fear. He likes this body, this face, and regeneration has always been an unnecessarily messy process for him. He's terrified of what he might look like, of what he might become if a new man saunters away with his name and his life. A bullet just seems so much easier.

The last breath is simple and his eyes close; his last memory, the Doctor deep brown eyes, so different from the sapphire blue of their childhood, brimming with silver tears. It is good.

The world disappears.

And the emptiness returns. The Doctor clutches at the Master's body, holding it to him as if he could force the regeneration out of his lifeless body. There is a sting in his eyes and he realises that he is crying but he doesn't care anymore. Let Martha and Jack see him weak; what does it matter? There's a hole in his stomach, gnawing away at his insides, like hunger, only raw and tearing and powerfully lonely. He curls his head into himself, brushing across the Master's temple and suddenly, the Valiant swirls away from him, blurring madly and he realises that this is it; the last thoughts and memories of Koschei, almost like a data ghost, although never as primitive. Soul catching.

The Doctor gulps down the air, letting him choke him as his head clears and he can see rolling fields of crimson grass, a sky of burnt orange and, more intriguing still, tantalising flashes of creamy peach curves and crevices. And a voice; the most beautiful voice he has ever heard. It wraps around the words like silk; delicate, yet protective…

"Draw what you see…"