Title: Black Black Hearts
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/The Master
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: PG-13
Table: 6, 12_stories
Prompt: 3, Despair
Warnings: non-con
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.

***

He shouldn't feel like this. Sinking into despair wasn't going to do him, or anyone else, any good. It would only impair him, make him feel more helpless and useless than he already was. Ultimately, that would render him utterly useless.

But wasn't that how he already felt? The Doctor sighed, curling up under the covers in his bed on the Tardis. He hadn't left this bed for a few days now; he hadn't felt the need to. Why should he? There was no reason for him to be out and about.

The only other person in the universe who could possibly understand what it was like to be what he was had gone. By their own choice, even though they could have been saved. They hadn't wanted to stay. Because of him.

The Master's death would leave a void in his life that he hadn't expected. He'd always known that he would feel regret when the other Time Lord ceased to be, but he hadn't thought that it would hurt this badly, that it would feel like such a betrayal.

Why did he feel this blackness, this utter and complete despair? Was it because he was now the last Time Lord, with no one in the entire galaxy who could possibly understand him? Was that why he felt so bleak and empty?

Or was it because that he'd felt he would have someone with him forever if the Master was still alive and with him here in the Tardis?

He sighed, squeezing his eyes shut and pulling the covers higher around his bare shoulders. He hated himself for feeling that way; he wanted to tell himself that he'd merely been trying to keep the Master from causing any more chaos in the world. That was all.

But he wouldn't be honest with himself if he allowed that belief to burgeon in his mind. No, he hadn't been thinking of the rest of the world when he'd planned to keep the Master with him. He'd been thinking of himself, of alleviating his own loneliness.

That had certainly backfired, hadn't it? He'd lost the Master, lost the only other person in the entire universe who could possibly know what it was like to be what he was. The one person who could ever truly understand him.

His greatest rival had died in his arms. Rather fitting, in a strange way. It had driven home to him the impossibility of anyone ever staying with him, wanting to be with him forever. Just what the Master had wanted.

The other man had always known how to cut as deeply as possible into his hearts. The smile he'd given the Doctor right before he died had shown just how much he delighted in twisting that knife one last time.

Though if he was perfectly honest, the Master was so different from him that any kind of real understanding between them would be impossible. Their minds, their desires, ran in completely different directions, and always would have.

The Master wanted conquest, control, power. The Doctor simply wanted the good of the world. He didn't ask to be the king of the world -- just to exist in it and do what he could to make it a good place for everyone to be in.

Two ambitions that ran counter to each other. Just one more thing to prove that he and the Master would always have been at loggerheads, in any situation.

It was ridiculous to feel this sense of emptiness, of having lost so much with the Master's death. The two of them weren't friends; the Master had been his greatest enemy, the being who'd caused him the most trouble in all of his long life.

But at one time, they'd been friends. They'd spent time together as children, shared confidences, felt that they could always count on each other. That had changed over the centuries, but maybe there was still a small part of that friendship that had never died.

He almost snorted at the thought, turning his pillow over and punching it with one small fist. Now, that idea really was ridiculous. Nothing of his childhood frienship with the Master remained. It had completely died. There was nothing left but rivalry.

Then why did he feel so devasted knowing that the other man was irrevocably gone?

The Doctor sighed, closing his eyes and trying to force his body to relax. He had to find a way to make this despair disspate. It was for the best that the Master had decided to end it all. Now he wouldn't have to chase the blasted madman all over time and space.

And he would have the rest of his life to be alone, to wonder what it would have been like if the other man hadn't chosen that particular way out. He would never know; the Master had refused to give him that chance.

Maybe he was right. Better for him to die than to live as the Doctor's captive -- because that would have been how he'd seen himself, even if it wasn't really the case.

He was being too soft-hearted. The Master had often accused him of that, saying that his love for humans and the time he spent with them made him weak. He'd often played on what he'd perceived as that weakness, and taunted the Doctor for it.

Those black hearts had somehow always known what was in his own. It was just another of the strange things that had been a tie between the two of them, keeping them circling each other in a dance that never seemed to end.

They'd clashed so many times, ever since they'd first become Time Lords. They'd grown further and further apart, until there had been so much distance between them that they'd inevitably been thrust into battle against each other.

But somehow, he'd always managed to win out, hadn't he? He'd never given in to the Master, and he'd always been able to put an end to whatever nefarious plan the other Time Lord had concocted. He'd always managed to be the world's savior.

It had been quite a time. Quite a life. Following the other man around the galaxy, trying to fix what he'd broken. Stopping him from doing things that would upset the balance of the world. It had been exciting, exhilarating. A rivalry to end all others.

Now that would be gone from his life. There wouldn't be that sense of adventure, of danger, of a chase that either of them could triumph in. It was gone, that feeling of having something that he had to accomplish. It had died with the Master.

There would be no way to resurrect it. Not unless the other man could come back -- and the Doctor was sure that wasn't going to be a possibility.

He was dead. Even for a Time Lord, death was a finality. Jack was the only person that it wouldn't be able to take away -- and he couldn't help wondering if that was permanent. No way of knowing until Jack finally met his end.

Something that he hoped wouldn't happen for a long, long time to come. He'd rather go first; seeing the last person who he felt an emotional bond to pass out of his life would leave him with nothing at all. At least he did still have Jack to hold on to now.

Sighing again, he turned over onto his back, folding his arms behind his head and staring up at the ceiling. The feeling of black despair had lifted somewhat, but the Doctor had a feeling that it was going to take a long time for it to go away completely.

He couldn't help but wonder if it ever would.

***