Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC. Except the Master - I've adopted him for my muse. :D

Warnings: Yup, this is my first M-rated fic, so there are warnings. Mostly for gore and violence, but there's also allusions to drug abuse and addiction. Don't know how much you'll have to squint to see that, though - sometimes my allegories can be a little...ah...invisible.

So, this idea was originally an outtake from my longer fic "Keeping Time" (ID 6652051) - I cut it because the rest of the fic is a K+, but I knew this would go above that. Being near the beginning, it can also be tagged to the canon "End of Time". I wouldn't have even written it out if it hadn't been for Ilssii-Koschei's enthusiasm when I mentioned it in passing. And here it is, my first M-rated fic and first try at writing anything gory or of the horror genre. Hope it appeals! :)

"'Til death do us part, Harry!" Eyes wide with shock, the Master could only watch as Lucy drew back her arm and flung the glass bottle with its deadly, pale golden contents straight at him. It arced towards him and struck his still-forming body between the hearts, where it shattered the instant it met the volatile energy his physical form was still building itself from.

"No!" His desperate shout became a scream that ripped from his throat; thinly veiled terror gave way to pure agony as he felt himself torn apart, his life force ignited by the potion like a spark to a petrol tank. For a moment, he was the heart of a sun, the core of an inferno that blazed outwards from him in a surge of blinding, incinerating light…and then he was falling, and a curtain of blackness descended across his vision.

He was burning. Every fragment of him – just fragments, that was all he could possibly be now, precariously clinging to life by a failing thread – was on fire, the heat eating into what remained of his physical form. Enveloped in the darkness, he grappled with consciousness which threatened to escape and abandon him to the void of oblivion from which he had only minutes ago been drawn from. It couldn't be over…not for him, not ever…he was the Master…even life and death held no sway over him – and it was what he knew, this fight to survive, the struggling on through unimaginable pain…so many times, against all the odds…

...never dying, never dying

The heat was eating into him. That was it – it no longer came from him, it raged outside his body, beating on his skin, heating the concrete floor beneath him until it blistered his bare back. The curtain of blackness lifted as his eyes fluttered open to an orange-white glare.

...skin, back, eyes…his resurrected body must be intact, or at least enough of a shell to house his consciousness, even with the drums now beating as though his head would split with it.

One two three four…one two three four…

Burning! Around him, sheets of flame billowed and roared, all-consuming walls and columns with plumes of black smoke twisting from the hazy edges to form a roiling, sooty ceiling that arched overhead. Paralyzed with horror, his memory darted briefly back to when he had learned of the human concept that they called Hell – how could they have known…?

And then the clouds of smoke parted and he caught a glimpse of pinprick stars in a clear night sky, blurred into smudges by the heat haze. Almost without realizing, he was on his feet, hearts pounding wildly in his chest. The intense heat from the burning prison pressed in on him, suffocating and heavy. He felt light-headed; his whole body felt strangely light, almost insubstantial. Mind racing, he barely registered this – all he knew was that he had to run and run and run

In a daze, he fled.

The inky, blissful cool of the night was rent with whirling, red lights and fluorescent flashes of colour that seared into his eyes; ear-splitting sirens wailed and screeched, engines roared like demons or growled low and menacing. Recoiling, he covered his head with his arms, pressed his fists against his ears, gritted his teeth to stifle a cry as he ran through the chaos. A shout of alarm rang out behind him; ahead, impenetrable shadows reached out and he plunged into their embrace.

In the welcoming darkness between two grey stone walls, he fell to his knees. He could make out his hands pressed flat on the ground before him – skeleton hands, bones clothed in translucent, glassy flesh that glowed with the blueish glimmer of raw energy. The escaping energy left him feeling as though every cell of his trembling body was on fire, and he could feel himself growing weaker with each breath he drew. This was it, then – a fleeting taste of life marred by excruciating pain as he burned up from the inside out.

"Hello? Anyone there?" A voice – young, male, uncertain. Crouched on the damp, cracked concrete, shivering feverishly, the Master hardly even heard a sound over the relentless drumming until the beam of a torchlight swept across the ground and hung with a slight tremor on the wall over his head. Instantly, he snapped into focus, eyes darting to the entrance to the alleyway where a figure was silhouetted against the flickering of the blazing building. His senses seemed suddenly razor-sharp, honing in on the figure as something primal awakened within him.

He was hungry. So hungry. He needed energy – he had to eat, to devour, to feed his life force as it burned itself away into the air. Slowly, he rose and turned to face the young human man, whose face paled as he caught sight of the movement, the nightmarish skeleton that stepped out of the shadows. Partly transfixed with horror, partly held in place by the penetrating stare of the Master's eyes, now pale orbs in hollow sockets, the young man remained stock still as the Master crept closer.

His vision was now swimming, all sounds drowned in the hammering drumbeat that filled the air – but he could smell the human's fear, the stinging odour of sweat in his nostrils. The torch dropped from the human's shaking hand and winked out as it hit the concrete. Moving almost automatically now, the Master didn't even flinch at the clatter it made. His hands reached out, wrapping around the human's throat…he could feel the warmth of human flesh beneath his transparent fingertips, a racing pulse twitching in arteries filled with hot, living human blood…

…and he was starving.

With a burst of strength lent to his dying body from the dregs of his unstable life force, he deftly wrenched the man's head around, feeling the brittle crack of the neck snapping. Lifeless, the human crumpled to the ground – and like a predator retrieving its prey, the Master gripped the body under the shoulders and dragged it back into the concealing shadows of the alleyway.

His breath was coming quick and shallow as he tore back the fabric of the man's clothes with scrabbling, numb fingers; the desperate hunger racked his whole body…he had to eat… The moment the human's bare flesh was exposed, he was clawing at the soft, pale skin which yielded under his nails and teeth, gave way to red muscle that left his fingers drawing scarlet streaks across the skin. Glistening wetly, dark stains spread at the edges of the clothes, and in the icy December air, steam began to drift from the open wound.

The first mouthful tasted of life…tender and raw between his teeth, it filled his senses with its metallic tang, almost sweet and intoxicating. More and more – he swallowed mouthful after mouthful of the dripping meat, feeling it slide down his throat as he ate faster and faster, barely giving himself time to chew…hot, wet, red… Whitish fat, almost fluid, slipped between his fingers and across his tongue; it was filling him with energy – he could feel its reviving warmth spreading through him. The mass of pink intestines was still pulsating gently as though it had a life of its own…

…life – it gave him life! Life which coursed through his veins, an almost electric thrill that shook him from head to toe as he pushed aside delicate membranes to rip the liver from its attachments deep in the cavity and gorge himself on the dense, bloody mass. The energy that was building inside him felt like it could overflow at any minute – so much energy, like a pressure valve that threatened to blow and overwhelm him – but it felt so good, an incomparable ecstasy that swamped and swept aside the agony of the damage done to his body.

Brimming with elation, lost in an elevated stupor, he tilted his head back. Through half-lidded eyes, the silvery stars glinting in the black velvet blanket of the sky seemed to swell and shimmer with refracted haloes. They bathed him in warmth, the thousand barely discernable colours of white light – he spread his arms wide to receive it and could almost feel his skin tingling.

Oh, yes – he was so alive now! All the energy he could ever have imagined was his for the taking – and to think, only moments ago, he had been a starving wreck dying in a dingy, dirty alleyway. No – he was the Master, and no less. All of Time and the cosmos welcomed him, and he would seize them for his own; he clenched his translucent fists around the thrumming air which throbbed to the beat of his drums. Mirth bubbled up in his throat and his lips parted, sucking in a slow, savoured breath…

When the pain descended, it was as though the world had splintered before his eyes. Suddenly, the energy was tearing at his insides, and he reeled back as if struck, wrapping his arms tightly around himself. Forcing ragged breaths into his lungs, he could feel the weight of the raw meat sitting heavy in his stomach, which now felt painfully distended. He pressed his eyes shut, but not before catching sight of the ravaged carcass that lay in a slick pool before him – like the remains left by some savage animal, it looked. All at once, he was lurching to the side, retching and retching, purging his body of more than he thought he could possibly have consumed, until he was left doubled over, drenched in a cold sweat, with the taste of bile and blood in his mouth…whether it was his own blood or that of the human, he could no longer tell. His shoulders shook and he rocked himself back and forth, trying to quell the waves of pain and nausea. The drums mingled with the rush of his pulse in his ears, stabbing behind his temples; he raised his hands to his ears in an almost subconscious movement, clutching at his head and biting back a low, tortured moan.

Already, though, his barely solid resurrected body was beginning to stabilize itself, cells rearranging themselves to adapt his metabolism to this new, insatiable necessity. Even as his physical form attempted to patch itself together as best it could, the agony slowly subsided, and he cautiously lowered his hands. He watched his bare bones steadily recede into solid flesh with only the occasional telltale flicker of energy to betray the continuous burning and dissipating of his life-force.

A feeling of triumph swelled in his hearts and he stumbled to his feet, steadying himself against the wall at his back.

He was alive.

He had cheated death yet again, pulling himself above its icy surface and fighting the rips and tides to emerge entire, with a whole, unbounded life stretching before him. And what a life! His eyes were opened anew; he had been reborn like never before. Surely, he must be more powerful now than any Time Lord could ever have been – even the great Rassilon himself had not tasted the power that the Master had just commanded.

The mere memory of that phenomenal rush of energy was enough to send a shiver down his spine, and he became aware of a gnawing in the pit of his stomach. One thought filled his mind: the hunger had to be satisfied.

A light drizzle was beginning to fall as the Master stumbled off into the night. The hunger drove him on and the drums dulled his senses to all else. All that mattered now was to feed the white-hot flame that would never let him rest – and how he longed to feel its reward, just once more.

Yes, he was truly alive now.


By Aietradaea