Chapter Fifteen, Part Seven: The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1945Mature

In the empty air, the only sound the Doctor can hear is the grinding of teeth. And they’re not his. He looks down at Flamina. His body can feel, instinctively, the tremor in her systems. They’re shutting down.                                                                                                                                                       

Her fingers are quivering, trembling with palsy like feathers in a cyclone. 

“Are you certain, Koschei? It will be the rest of her, next. Be absolutely cert-…” 

“DO IT! Just don’t either of you bloody die! I can’t take this! It’s bollocks, all of it!” 

The Master’s fist slams against the base of the console, leaving a dent. And far above that dent, where the Master’s eyes aren’t looking yet, there is a hidden screen with a very important date. 

 “Mustn’t be late for that one…” the Doctor mutters  under his breath. Then he blows out his cheeks and risks a glance at the Master. But Koschei’s eyes are elsewhere. 

The Doctor’s smile as he touches Flamina’s forehead is the same tired mask of pain and regret. He knows the shape of that mask, knows it in his bones. To the quarks. But the Master’s face, reflected in the glass of that hidden screen as he stares down at the only two people he’s ever loved? 

He never thought to see himself there.

The End

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