Author's Note(s): So, I'm trying a multi-part story in the Who fandom for the first time. Let's see how this goes. ;D Seeing as I'm on break currently, I should be able to update regularly. Hopefully. ;D And please review? I subsist on a diet of reviews alone! ;D Thank you kindly.
Chapter One: Perception of Reality
Fact: they were not fighting.
Fact: they were living together in the TARDIS.
Fact: they were the only two remaining members of their species.
Falsehood: they were at peace.
Inherent logical fallacy: peace cannot simply be defined an absence of fighting. Peace also implies harmony. It connotes the existence of tranquility or serenity.
Screaming at each other across the TARDIS – crying on each other's shoulders when things became too difficult even for them and then never talking about it again – trying to thwart each other whenever they visited a planet – words unspoken so loudly that they echoed with the power of shouts: that was not peace.
The current situation was simply a cessation of hostilities: an armistice. The Master and the Doctor were not, perhaps, openly at war – but neither could their circumstances be described as peace.
Fact: the Doctor only slept when exhaustion nearly forced him to collapse – and he always triple-checked the isomorphic controls before he went to his room to rest.
Fact: the Doctor, who had regenerated with a skinny frame to begin with, was now fairly skeletal.
Fact: the Doctor didn't know how much longer he could continue like this.
Every moment of every day he was acutely aware of everything that had brought them here. The planet missing in the sky, drawing them together no matter what they tried to do to escape it, hovered in his mind, twice as large as it had been in reality. He dreamed of it – skies redder than they'd ever been before with raging fire and dust, explosions scattering dust and earth and shattering whole mountains in a single planet-shaking boom, fires burning all around him …
When they passed in the TARDIS hallways – when they bickered on the planets they traveled to – when the Doctor panicked because, oh, Rassilon, the Master had gone missing again and he was probably already trying to start an insurrection – when they ignored the other's presence, sneaking looks out of the corners of their eyes because they were in the same room and no one wanted to be the first to break – he was aware of everything. 'What happened?' he wanted to ask the other man. 'How did we get here?'
Falsehood: the Doctor ever actually spoke those words.
Fact: the Master slept as rarely as he could, haunted by the incessant pounding in his head.
Fact: the Master wasn't sure what Gallifrey being gone actually meant.
Fact: the Master didn't know how much longer he could continue like this.
Every second of every minute of every hour of every day, the drums echoed resoundingly through his mind. It was a wonder he could even think straight half the time (the other half he wasn't … sure about). And it didn't get better with time – he wasn't able to tune it out, turn it into just so much static, accustom himself to the background noise and forget about it. Every drumbeat – every single drumbeat – sounded as new to him as if he'd never heard it before. Every second: a new shock, a new unpleasant start of revulsion, because there they were and how had he even survived the last moment, anyways? How was he going to keep sane through the next? He thought he had himself braced for the drums, and then – crash! – there it was and what he wouldn't give to even just be completely sure that he'd never get rid of them, because then he could allow himself blissful sleep and final respite from the drums … Hope was agony for him. The Doctor believed, with the inherent lack of reason and idealistic insanity that defined the Doctor, that his drums could be cured. Without that, suicide would be an option. The Doctor gave him hope, and he hated that.
Falsehood: the Master hated the Doctor himself.
Fact: whenever they were on a planet, the Master tried to escape.
Fact: the Master had never won, though he had managed to actually catch the Doctor himself thrice. Each time, the Doctor had spent several sleepless nights in prison cells of varying degrees of unpleasantness – though nothing ever actually happened.
Fact: the Doctor never won either. At this point, he wasn't even sure what "winning" would constitute.
The Doctor tried to keep an eye on the Master – he did, he really did – but the Master somehow always managed to elude him. Somehow, every time, the Master got away. He never even bothered to try for proper universal domination, though: he always simply attempted a takeover of the planet they were on, with no clear end goals or even plans. They were both getting rather predictable: they would land on a planet, the Doctor would get distracted by something (occasionally an injury, but usually an interesting discovery about ancient cultures or customs of the time period), the Master would sneak away, three weeks later the Master would make his move, four weeks later they would return to the TARDIS, the original problem solved and the Master "foiled". Rinse, wash, repeat. The Doctor would end up running around like a half-mad scarecrow, his porcupine-hair more mussed than usual, and his enormous tan coat flaring out around him. The Master would end up sitting in a control room, all debonair grace and charming evil and dashing elegance, in a carefully tailored black suit and dark shoes. Day after day – month after month – planet after planet. Places and times began to lose any significance; they wandered along in the fourth and fifth dimensions, without any ability to distinguish the passage of time or changes of scenery, because everything was the same.
Falsehood: they would be able to continue like this indefinitely.