Title: Running in Circles
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/The Master
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: PG
Table: 50ficlets
Prompt: 43, Hell
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.


The Master had always known how to put him through hell, the Doctor thought wryly, raising a trembling hand to touch his forehead. He'd succeeded in doing that all too well in the past, and it looked as though he was up to his old tricks again.

He'd expected his fingers to come away sticky with blood, considering the blow that he'd taken, but they didn't. Well, he wasn't bleeding; thank goodness for small favors. And he hadn't been taken captive. He was still free, to the best of his knowledge.

But he was being watched; he was sure of that. The Master was playing the usual game of cat-and-mouse with him, batting the Doctor around with his paw and waiting for him to head in the direction that the Master wished him to go.

The problem was, he didn't know what direction that was. And he had no idea if he was doing what the other man wanted, or simply turning around in circles.

That was the annoying, confusing thing about his ancient enemy, the Time Lord thought, clenching his small fists at his sides. He could be maddeningly, infuriatingly obtuse, until his plans were revealed. It was one of his most dangerous qualities.

Why had the Master let him go? Or rather, why had the other man simply had those two "guards" with him knock him out, and leave him here? What was the reasoning behind leaving the Doctor free? That made him worry more than if he'd been taken prisoner.

The Doctor looked around him, his eagle eyes taking in everything. There didn't appear to be any sort of hidden camera on the street, but then, he coudn't know that for sure. There were all kinds of ways for the Master to hide surveillance equipment.

One thing was obvious: He couldn't stay here. He needed to get back to the Tardis, to recoup and find out what the other man's next plans would be.

And exactly how was he going to do that? he asked himself, the inner voice taunting him. He had no idea where the Master was, or how to find him. And if they didn't have some sort of contact, it would be nearly impossible to find out what he was planning.

Well, he certainly wasn't going to let himself be captured, the Doctor thought, taking a deep breath and heading in the direction that he knew he'd left the Tardis. Unless .... a thought occurred to him that stopped him in his tracks.

What if he was already captured? What if the Master had lured him to this place for a reason? He could have taken the Tardis; at this moment, he could be somewhere far away, with the Doctor's ship, leaving him stranded here in an unfamiliar world.

The idea was terrifying; he could feel his hearts seem to rise into his throat. His footsteps became faster; he had to get back to his ship, make sure that she was still there.

Not that he hadn't been stranded in unfamiliar places before, he tried to tell himself as he hurried along the pavement. If he was, then he would find a way out. One thing he'd learned in all of his centuries of life was that there was always a way out.

And if he couldn't find it? that voice spoke in his head again. What if the Master had found a way to hobble him this time? He'd done it before; and he always learned from his mistakes. What if this was the time when he'd finally won their long, arduous battle?

"No," the Doctor whispered, his hands clenching into fists again. The Master wasn't going to win. No matter what he had to do, he'd stop that monster. He'd done it innumerable times before, and he'd do it again, as many times as he had to.

He didn't realize that he'd spoken aloud; the single word that he'd said seemed to reverberate in his head, bouncing off the walls around him as well as the walls of his mind.

Whatever the Master was planning to do, he would stop it. That seemed to be his lot in life; it was his own personal hell that never went away, never stopped burning. The fact that he had to be constantly vigilant, constantly fighting someone who had once been a friend.

That was a regret that he'd never be able to push from his life. How had they come to this? Was it just because of the Master's madness, or had they always been heading for this bitter rivalry, even before the other man had run mad?

Their friendship had been so strong when they were young, the Doctor reflected sadly. But even then, the Master had shown signs of not being everything that he seemed to be on the outside; maybe this had always been an inevitability.

Whether it was or not, there was always the possibility that it was just as much of a hell for the Master as it was for him. And in a way, that was reassuring.

The Doctor turned the corner of the street where he was fairly sure he'd left his ship -- and there she was, waiting patiently for him. Strange that the Master should leave the Tardis to him; that made the Doctor even more suspicious.

But this was a time for action, not thoughts. He nearly ran towards his ship, pushing away the idea that the Master had him running in circles. Whatever their confrontation would be, he would get the upper hand -- and he would make sure that he came out of it the victor.