You really, really should. Should hate him with every fiber of your being, but you don't, and that's the most frustrating thing.
You've been spat upon (both figuratively and literally, on more than one occasion), you've been tied up, aged, unaged, reaged, and tossed about like a toy. It's all a game to him, and you're this enormous, frustrating puzzle that he can't get rid of.
He wheels you around the room, singing along to track 01 today (It's "Supervixen" by Garbage, and you can't help but think he played this last week, and he still can't hit the notes that Shirley Manson can), before taking you by the window for your morning discussion. It's like this every day, has been for the last 63 days.
"The human race gets tinier and tinier every day, population wise and physically," he says, "You know that, though, don't you. They're about the size of beach balls in comparison to us. We toss them about like toys. Us powerful Time Lords and our toys."
He then expresses his daily frustration that he didn't notice Martha Jones disappearing all those weeks ago, and informs you (for the 63rd time) that the key around her neck will only hide her for so long. She's becoming famous, and that's annoying him. Her charisma, her way with words, her determination--it's all poking a big hole in his beach-ball-human theory. All that, and that damnable wrist band that zaps her back and forth along the globe. She's making excellent timing in taking the world, giving it hope, and not looking back. She won't be played like he wants to play the Earth.
"You, however, Doctor, you're more of a pet than a playable toy," he says, and presents you with a yellow food dish that he's ever-so-proud of that says "DOG" on it. Tish looks like she might cry as she drops slop into it, and you wait until she's left the room to eat it with your shaking, aged hands. You have some pride. Not much, but some. When this is all over, you want to be able to look Martha's sister in the eye.
You always cared more about how the humans saw you than how your fellow Time Lords did, though you doubt he'll understand that.
He knocks the tiny tarp-that's-supposed-to-be-a-tent over on day 125 to the tune of track 14 by Voltaire, "Caught a Light Breeze" (a lot less dance-happy than his normal tunes). You didn't reply to his wakeup bell, and you don't react to his taunts.
He pulls you to your feet, and your eyes burn into his. There's no resignation, not this time, just cold, hard anger.
"You know, now, don't you?" he demands, and his lips curl into a sneer, "You know what the Toclafane are. You figured it out." He grins so hugely, so brightly. "And I knew you would, eventually. It's good, isn't it? It's ironic. And pretty funny, too."
The human race, reduced to this disgusting paradox. Your TARDIS holding it all together. You can feel her strain and buckle under the weight of it all. She aches, and you can feel it.
And you still can't hate him.
He won't kill you. You know this because Tish has begged for your death, even if you won't. After some particularly bad torture session (he refers to these days as "game nights"), or after he knocks you around, or peels away your aged flesh, all to humiliate you further, all to push into you the knowledge that he has won.
Because, in the end, it is all about winning, isn't it? The lives don't matter, it's all the fight. The battle between good and evil. Yin and Yang. The Doctor and the Master.
You like to fancy, curled up in your hay-bedded tent, that it's because he can change. He can't kill you because he doesn't want that final push into the darkness. He's not truly vicious, he's just along the wrong path. And the pain, well, it's nothing you haven't experienced before. You've suffered worse humiliation. You've felt lower.
"Rise and shine, Doctor!" The Gallifreyan vowels echo in your ears, and he slides in front of your tent, "Great news! Did you hear? Leo Jones was executed today outside of Cardiff! Him and some chap named Boxer! 202 days in hiding and he was found, just like that! Cut up into little Jones-sized bits! Isn't that brilliant?"
Francine curls into a pile of grief on the floor. A crumpled, broken mess. A shadow of the woman you remember that slapped you in the face and told you to stay away from her daughter. She shouts curses in your direction (in this instant she can't help but blame you, and you can't help but understand that blame), and you cower back into your tent.
He sends her away, because he's infuriated that you're more afraid of a mother's grief than his wrath.
You want to hate him so very, very badly.
It's day 365, and he removes your ability to regenerate, shrinks your body into a tiny, shriveled husk of what it once was, gives you some rags for clothes, and puts you in a birdcage with a mirror for a floor, so you can see what he has made you.
"You can stop this," you tell him, but the drumming, the drumming is so bad and so hard and so loud that he can't possibly hear the desperation in your voice. He doesn't understand that all this time you've been a prisoner because you could. Because you needed this countdown, needed this chance.
You've only had a year to save him. A year to change this man who was once your friend and then your best enemy and now he's all you’ve got left and you can't hate him because you both are all you've got left.
Countdown's over. The energy from the humans below fills up your senses, empowers you through the psychic fields or whatever it was you'd had as your backup plan if you couldn't save him. You're strong again, young again. You stand up straight and float towards him, telling him you're sorry. You're so sorry. You're so sorry you couldn't save him. You wanted to.
"No, no, it's not fair!" He curls into a ball of anger and frustration, and you wrap your arms around him and tell him what you've wanted to tell him as often as you've wanted to hate him: That you forgive him.
You don't, really. But it's better to say it now than never hear the words.
You want to forgive him more than you want to hate him.
You didn't have enough time, you decide. Maybe not in a year, maybe in a few decades? A few centuries? You can save him, you know you can save him.
"You're my responsibility from now on," you say, and you talk about change. About having someone to care for. He recoils from the concept so violently, you wonder if the makers of Chargers and Teletubbies realize that their message of caring just isn't getting out to even their most loyal of viewers.
Bang. Lucy looks so…confused, holding that gun.
He crumples from the bullet, and you slide to catch him. Your torturer. Your enemy. Destroyer of your favorite planet, slaughterer of innocence (Martha's especially, and you would do anything, anything to take that back), and overall bad guy. That's him, and he's in your arms. Dying in your arms, he says, and he asks if you're happy now.
"Don't be stupid. It's only a bullet, just regenerate."
There's that sneer again. You know it better than you know Martha's sassiest grin or Rose's sweetest smile, and that makes your stomach turn, but you hold onto him. "I guess you don't know me so well," he says, "I refuse."
You need to save him. You have to save him. You have have have have to save him. Because it's just the two of you, because you have history with him, because you grew up with him, because you can save him, dammit, why won't he let you save him?
For the first time in a year, you beg. "Please. Just regenerate. Regenerate!" Live. Please, live. You just need to save him, that's all you need is to keep him alive and you won't be the only one, but he's looking at you like he might laugh, because death is so much more pleasing a concept than being imprisoned with you.
But you don't want to be on your own.
"How about that?" he smiles, and blood shines on his teeth, "I win."
Because it's all about winning, in the end.
He shudders, murmurs about the drums, and it's over. His greatest triumph, dying in your arms while you beg for him to live. Taking the year you spent trying, trying, trying and erasing it. Giving up. That is how he defeats you. He leaves you alone, cradling his body that is so like yours, but full of a detestation you couldn't remove from him.
And you try to hate him, but you can't.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,579