Title: Take It To the Limit
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/The Master
Fandom: Doctor Who
Table: 1, 50ficlets
Prompt: 33, Limits
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or the Master. Please do not sue.
***The Doctor dragged himself to his feet, coughing as a cloud of dust surrounded him. He shoudn't have been surprised at that; the Master usually chose to confront him in places that were dusty and out of the way. Unused places that no one else would find.
He hadn't been like that in the past, the Time Lord reflected, running a hand through his hair and wincing as his fingers came into contact with a bruise on his temple. It was only since their last big confrontation, when the Doctor had thought he was dead, that he'd taken to hiding out.
The Master should have died then, the Doctor told himself fiercely, biting down savagely to keep himself from crying out as he took a hesitant step forward.
Something in him had become unhinged in tht last meeting. Maybe it was the fact that everyone around him had thought he was dead and gone; maybe it was the knowledge that he could never own the Doctor, never defeat him.
But he'd run mad that night -- well, even more so than he already was. The Doctor had known that the Master was beyond all hope of redemption, but it appeared that the other man had flung all sense of what he was to the winds at this point.
How many times now had he been a victim of the Master's madness? He couldn't count them all. Too many, since he'd been in this body. The Master seemed to have more of an obsession with him now than he ever had before.
That definitely wasn't a good thing. What was it about this body that seemed to drive people around him to distraction? He couldn't quite figure it out.
Jack. The Master. The female companions he'd had -- well, all except Donna, who had been like a sister to him. The others .... well, he'd cared for them in a friendly way, but the idea of any other sort of relationship with them made him shudder.
He certainly hadn't minded Jack's attentions -- in fact, he'd welcomed them. He hadn't wanted that relationship to come to an end, but he'd told himself that it was for the best. And he thought that he'd made his peace with it.
But the Master's attention was something that he definitely didn't want. Maybe he would have, many, many centuries ago, when he could still call the other man a friend. But that time was so far in the past that he could barely remember what it had been like.
The Master had always known how to push him to his limits, the Doctor thought, his eyes scanning the ground for his clothes. This time, he'd come very close to pushing him past them.
There was only so much physical abuse that this body could take, and the other man knew it. He was determined to push the Doctor past those limits, to force a regeneration. And the Doctor would be at his weakest point then, physically and mentally.
A shudder went through his thin body, a wave of icy cold foreboding washing over him. How much longer could he keep running from the Master? How much more of this could he take, these times when the Master tracked him down and cornered him?
If only Jack had been here this time .... But he hadn't been. The Doctor hadn't had anywhere to turn, no choice but to submit to what the Master had demanded of him. It had taken all the power of his mind and body to resist giving in to that madman's desires.
The next time the two of them met, he wasn't sure that he'd have the strength to fight. He was being worn down, little by little, and he was sure that the Master was more than aware of that. The next time, he might have no choice but to give in.
His chin rose, his eyes taking on a steely glint, his mouth thinning into a straight line. No. Never. He wouldn't give in, no matter what the Master might do to him. He still had his pride, his assurance of who and what he was.
He was a Time Lord, and that was something that the Master could never take away from him. The other man could force him to submit to whatever indignities he chose, push him to his limits and even past them. But he couldn't take away what the Doctor was.
The Doctor reached for his discarded clothes, wincing as he pulled them on, grateful that he'd at least have something to cover himself with as he made his way back to the Tardis. There'd been times in the past when the Master hadn't even left him with that.
Holding up one hand, he was dismayed to see the slight tremor, the physical evidence of just how shaken he was. Hopefully, he'd feel more himself after he got back to his ship. She would restore him, take away the nightmare of what he'd been through.
He wasn't sure just how much more of this he could take. With each encounter, he was coming dangerously close to the end of his limits .... and it wouldn't take much to send him careening past them and into oblivion.