Disclaimer: Alas, I lamentably own nothing...
Explanation: This is a "Bloopersverse" oneshot tagged to chapter 11 of my "Keeping Time" (ID 6652051). Or, for the uninitiated, it's a cracky little premise that involves the creation of a sci-fi/angst "End of Time" AU fanfiction with the aid of the fictional characters involved (not the actors). Ought to be pretty self-explanatory by itself.
Excuses: What it boils down to is this: I'm bawwing about a flame. This doesn't mean I don't like concrit - quite the opposite, in fact - so I don't want a bunch of messages saying "wah wah, you just can't take criticism..." I like intelligent, helpful tips on how to improve my writing. Besides, who am I to resist a plot bunny? So yeah, I'm bawwing...in my own special way... ;D
The Director's bellowed order startled a flock of seagulls into flight from behind one of the mounds of gravel; mewling shrilly, they wheeled away across the grey expanse of wasteland and silence once again descended over the drab landscape.
"But…but we'd hardly even started." The protests of the camera crew as they wound the film reels and repositioned their tripods fell on deaf ears.
"Wilf – hurry up, would you," the Director was already shouting across the set. From behind a rusting skip, Wilf's head appeared, one hand cupped to his ear. "I said hurry up – where's your sense of urgency? You're supposed to be panicking, you're supposed to be worrying that the Doctor's been murdered, you've got to find him before the Daleks do, remember? We can't wait all day while you potter around the gravel heaps like an OAP." Seeing the look on the Director's face, Wilf evidently decided against a comeback and disappeared back behind the skip, and the Director turned to the rest of the crew and characters. "Doctor, is that the best you could do with that coat? 'Worse for wear', the fanfiction says – come on, let's have a bit more soot, maybe rip one of the shoulders."
A costume supervisor hurried forwards with a pair of scissors and a stick of charcoal, grinning malevolently at the open horror that descended on the Doctor's face, but the Director was giving no mercy. It was a bitterly cold December morning, and even the promise of popping back in the TARDIS to spend a proper Christmas at home in front of the fire once the chapter was complete wasn't enough to console him. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more he couldn't quite shake the feeling that there was something decidedly not right about that arrangement. Shaking his head, he blew on his numb fingers and stamped his feet on the frost-hardened ground.
"Can we get someone over here to stoke up that fire?" he demanded, gesturing to the smoky flame flickering weakly in a dustbin near the Doctor. "Master, what do you call that look? The fanfiction says 'half-starved' – you look more like you've got indigestion. And you…" Sat huddled on a heap of worn tyres opposite the Doctor, the Master shot a half-hearted glare at the Director's back, but it went unnoticed as the Director rounded on the Writer. "You were the one writing about how still and silent this wasteland is supposed to be, now stop rustling those envelopes – these microphones catch everything." Apologetically, the Writer slipped the reviews carefully into her book-bag; one, however, remained crumpled in her fist, and the Director eyed it. "What's that?"
"Oh – nothing," the Writer shrugged. "Just another review. Might as well use this one for that fi-"
"Let's see." The Director held out his hand, and the Writer reluctantly handed him the scruffy envelope. "You're not getting me out here for two and a half chapters' worth of Christmas and keeping all the reviews for yourself."
"It's not even for this fanfic…" Removing the review from the envelope and unfolding it, the Director cleared his throat.
"'NO FLAMES !'" he read aloud, and raised his eyebrows as his eyes travelled further down the page. The attention of the whole crew was on him now, though, and he had no choice but to continue. "'You must be daft, that was horrible. You deserve FLames and more. Your kind of writing should be removed. Get a life you low thing.'" He turned it over in his hands, looking for a signature, and snorted. "Anonymous, of course. Charming." Red with mortification, the Writer looked as though she was trying to sink into the ground, and the Director tossed the envelope back to her. Having received no cue, Wilf had joined the crew in warming their hands over the meagre fire, and he turned a bewildered gaze on the Writer.
"Where's it from?" the costume supervisor asked. She was now brandishing three pairs of scissors in one hand and picking at the threads in a gash across the shoulder of the Doctor's coat with the other; perched on the edge of an upturned oil drum, the Time Lord winced as a pair of blunt metal blades snapped unnervingly close to his ear.
"Princess Bride archive," the Director replied. A thought occurred to him, and he glanced around at the crew. "Say – don't some of you walk home that way? Anyone see a shady character hanging around there last night?"
"Just him." The Doctor ducked as the costume supervisor pointed with her handful of scissors over his head towards the Master, who fidgeted and hastily turned away, drumming with one hand on the edge of a tyre.
"No, not literally a character – I mean…" Backtracking, the Director blinked in surprise at the Master. "Hang on – what were you doing around the Princess Bride archive?"
"I didn't see anyone else leaving after him," the costume supervisor added, her face the picture of naivety. "But there must have been someone there before, if you only got that review yesterday evening…" Pointedly ignoring the shocked look the Doctor turned on him, the Master glowered at the frowning Director.
"I was hungry…"
"Hang on – no, he can't have…did he?" Wilf stammered. Edging nervously away from the starving Time Lord, he glanced at the Doctor for reassurance, but none was forthcoming.
"You ate a reviewer?" Aghast, the Director stared at the Master, but after a few moments, a perplexed frown creased his forehead. "I say – are you all right?"
"Actually, I may have overdone it this time," the Master admitted. He grimaced, one hand moving to his stomach – now that the Director had noticed, he did appear more than a little uncomfortable.
"You'd better take the day off," said the Director, concern entering his voice. "Go on, go and lie down. See if they've got some antacid back at FanFiction HQ." Wrapping both arms around himself, the Master got to his feet and began walking away from the set, shoulders hunched.
"You've only yourself to blame," the Director called after him. "Everyone knows flamers are bad eggs."