He Never Lost

And then I get a scary thought: That he's here means he's never lost.


The Master was keeping an eye out for the Doctor, when it happened. He was perfectly disguised, hidden away, so no one should be able to see him unless they knew what to look for, and that they should be looking in the first place, and yet still...

It was a man in a bowtie. Completely ridiculous, of course. At first glance, not something that would ordinarily give him cause to be concerned, especially as the man was talking away, completely absorbed in relaying his subject to his companion and oblivious to his presence. A stupid grin covered his face, and the redhead he was talking to rolled her eyes.

It was then that the Master realised the first thing that had attracted his attention to the pair. He was currently in the fourteenth century, unless he was mistaken. And when it came to precision timing, he very rarely was. Which meant that either the two were merely tourists from a certain particularly irritating time period in the future, or one of them had access to Time Lord technology.

That was bad enough – one Time Lord alone could devastate his plans, plans that were only just coming into fruition, and the Master simply could not allow that to happen – but then the man in the bowtie suddenly stopped talking, trailing off mid-sentence. Looked around. The redhead vied for his attention, but was practically swatted away when he asked her impatiently if she could please be quiet.

Their eyes met. Instantly, the Master knew that it was the Doctor who he was looking at – and a much older one than he had ever known, at that. A Doctor who had been through far more than any of his previous selves, evident in the darkness that the Master could see broiling away, hidden behind so many masks of childlike indifference, excitement and hyperactivity. Something shifted, and suddenly there was a chasm of sadness between them, of nostalgia at all things lost. The Master's hearts clenched, curious as to where this would go, if this future self would somehow inform his past self, already feeling a sharp stab of coldness permeating through him at an idea, small and quiet, that echoed around in his head and simply would not go away.

The future Doctor looked away, all smiles and cheer as though nothing had happened. Told his companion – change of plans, let's try Rio again, you never did get to Rio the first time, did you? Left.

After that, the idea ate away at him, always as cold, always as full of conflicting emotions and feelings as the first time, always so full of certainty. It could almost have been called prophetic if he had not always thought something similar anyway. That the future Doctor was there, meant that he had never lost. And there had been something in his old friend-and-enemy's eyes as he looked at him which made him glad that they had not been able to speak.


AN: Entire story inspired by the above quotation I saw on someone's AIM livestream. Originally was going to be a part of 'And Then There Was Silence', with Silence!Master being the one Ainley!Master caught eyes with... but this makes more sense if you haven't read the other verse, which is better.