The Doctor was going to come up with a brilliant plan to stop the King of the Cojalphane, save the planet Haxtlphane, and save his life and the lives of his companions any second now.
Still nothing? Oh dear.
"I will kill you, Doctor..." the King continued blabbing on and the Doctor tuned him out, right up until a loud gunshot rang through the room. Someone had shot the King's own large gun right out of his hand.
"I really must object to anyone killing the Doctor. Other than myself, of course."
The Doctor stared, and then boggled. He'd regenerated, of course, but the Master was the Master, and the Doctor could feel the strong, familiar touch on his own mind.
He beamed. He couldn't help it, really. Trust the Master to escape the inescapable— he always had before (the Doctor, quite frankly, depended on it). He was all in black, of course, with black hair and he'd gotten back a rubbish little goatee he was probably terribly proud of, bless.
"Who is that?" Amy demanded.
"Ah... an old friend of mine." The Master and the King were now trying to out-monologue each other, so this could take some time.
"'Old friend'?" Amy raised an eyebrow. "You're making googly 'My Hero' eyes at him."
"Don't be ridiculous, Pond," the Doctor said. "I have never in my life made googly 'My Hero' eyes at anyone. Except at myself."
Amy snorted. "That I believe," she muttered. "But you are, in fact, right now making adoring googly 'My Hero' eyes at your 'old friend.'" Amy was tied up, but the Doctor could tell she would have made air quotes around "old friend" if she'd had the option.
"You really are, though," Rory said, where he was tied up on the other side of the Doctor.
"Hush, Pond 2," the Doctor said.
"Stop calling me that!" Rory sounded very put-upon. "I am not Pond 2! I have a name—"
"Shut up, Rory," Amy said. She lowered her voice and leaned over to whisper to the Doctor, "Is this the same kind of 'old friend' Dr. River Song is? Because—"
The Doctor hissed in alarm. "Let's not, ah, mention River while the Master is around, shall we? He tends to react badly to things like me getting married to other people."
"Oh ho," Amy said.
"The what?" Rory said. "Did you say—"
"The Master," said the Master. He was now standing in front of them.
The Doctor looked around and spotted the now ex-King of the Cojalphane lying on the floor, in a decidedly still way. He gave the Master an I'm-very-disappointed-in-you look.
"Well if you'd been paying attention instead of gossiping..." the Master pointed out. He thoroughly considered the tableau in front of him. "I ought to just leave you like this. Serve you right."
"But you won't!" the Doctor said, with a large grin. "Because who would you have to gloat to without us, eh?"
Amy, who of course did not yet realise how much the Master needed the Doctor as an audience, shouted "But he was making adoring googly 'My Hero' eyes at you! You can't just leave us here!"
These unfortunate, entirely fictional googly "My Hero" eyes that were in no way "adoring" were of course highly relevant to the Master's interests, and he looked at the Doctor with an expression the Doctor did not approve of at all. He reached out slowly and laid a finger on the Doctor's bowtie.
"Well," he said. "I've seen you in worse."
"Bowties are cool!" the Doctor argued. "You're just jealous, because you're stuck with a little beard again. I used to have a fez, too, and it was very cool, but Amy—" he remembered at the last second to omit River— "took it away."
The Master turned to Amy. "You're Amy, I presume."
She lifted her chin. "I am."
"Well done. You may go free."
Amy's cry of triumph competed with the Doctor's shout of outrage, and poor Rory's unhappy groan was lost entirely.
The Master really did cut Amy free and then kissed the back of her hand.
"Amy Pond. And you're... the Master? Really?"
"Most definitely." He looked Amy up and down. "Ginger this time." He looked at Amy's legs under her miniskirt. "Otherwise, typical."
Amy frowned, like she knew she'd been insulted but couldn't prove it.
Rory, though, shouted "Hey! That's my wife!"
"Your wife?" The Master looked at Amy and then looked at Rory. He looked at Amy again. "Really?"
Over Amy and Rory's objections, he looked at the Doctor. "What, are you running a honeymoon service now?"
"What's it to you?" the Doctor sulked.
The Master burst into laughter. At least until Amy socked him in the arm. Then he looked furious.
The Doctor hung his head. He really ought to have some sort of training manual. "Do not sock the Master in the arm" would be number one.
"Stupid girl," the Master hissed. "You're entirely expendable, you know." Of course this made Rory shout and thrash at his chains, and Amy looked brave, and the poor old ex-King was still lying dead on the floor.
"Master," the Doctor said, loudly, and with exactly the right tone of voice. The Master's attention snapped to him at once. "Please let me go, Master."
The Doctor tried to get down on his knees (knowing the chains wouldn't let him), but the Master seemed to appreciate the effort.
The Master released the Doctor while Amy was getting Rory out, and they let the guards in to deal with the mortal remains of the late King. The guards were far more concerned with who would be the next King than the last King's prisoners, so they all just walked out of the dungeons.
"Always a bit anti-climatic, isn't it, just walking out of the dungeons?" Amy said. She was walking behind, with Rory, holding hands. The Doctor and the Master were walking in front of them but they were in no way holding hands. At all. Not even a little. If the Doctor's hand occasionally brushed against the Master's it was entirely an accident.
"So," the Doctor said. "Did you just break through a timelock, the walls of the universe, and all the laws of physics to find me or did you have some other plan in mind?"
"Shut up," the Master said.
The Doctor gave a little skip. "You saved my life!" he noted. "Twice now! Twice in a row!"
"So I guess that means it's time for you to leave me for dead, isn't it?" the Master sneered.
"I never would," the Doctor protested.
"How interesting," the Master said. "So you're a liar, now?"
"He lies all the time!" Amy hollered.
"Quiet back there, Pond," the Doctor glared at her over his shoulder. She stuck her tongue out.
"Do you have a ship around here, or..?"
The Master rolled his eyes. "No. I took over Gallifrey, executed an extremely complicated bit of flying and an extremely complicated bit of temporal physics affecting space on the quantum level, but I forgot to bring a TARDIS." He looked at the Doctor as if implying this was something the Doctor might do, which was ridiculous. The Doctor had never forgotten his TARDIS while doing any of those things, nor anything else.
"Took over Gallifrey? How unlike you not to mention it sooner."
"I thought it went without saying," the Master said coldly.
"I did assume," the Doctor admitted. A certain stiffness went out of the Master's shoulders.
There was a burst of laughter behind them and when the Doctor turned around, Amy made a stupid soppy face at him and mouthed "My hero." Rory made a kissy face.
The Doctor turned around. As far as he was concerned, there was no one behind him.
The Master had, predictably, parked his TARDIS right next to the Doctor's.
"So," the Doctor said. He stared at his shoes, then the Master's shoes, then a fountain off to the side. It really was an interesting fountain.
"Doctor?" the Master sounded as if he might possibly be amused, somewhere deep down. It was practically a laugh.
"Are you coming with us, then?" the Doctor asked. He realised he was scuffing his shoe in the dirt, and stopped.
"What," the Master sneered, "like a double date?" They both looked round at Amy and Rory, who immediately pretended to be busy with the TARDIS door.
"Do you have better plans?" the Doctor asked.
The Master glared. "I'm very busy."
"Of course, of course, you're very important. Places to take over, innocent people to kill. Horribly complicated plans to devise for me to foil. But you know... you know I... want you with me," the Doctor said, and even by his standards it was incredibly awkward.
"You are kidding," the Master sneered, laying it on thick, in the Doctor's opinion. "Am I supposed to swoon into your arms now? Or worse, be grateful?"
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "A little swooning wouldn't hurt, but really, the entire universe— and at least one or two things beyond it— know how you feel about me, so I'm not sure what the point of this display is. Come on, travel with me. You know you want to. You always have."
"Under my terms," the Master seethed.
The Doctor cut him off before he could really get his rant on. "You'll have your own TARDIS, won't you? Come on," he coaxed. "Time ram?"
The Master glared, and grumbled, and postured, but finally agreed, "Time ram."
The Doctor immediately turned and ran for his TARDIS, ushering Amy and Rory inside. "Time ram!" he shouted, and kicked up his heels a little.
"Time ram?" Rory said. "That sounds—"
"Kinky," Amy said.
"Hush, Ponds." The Doctor set about setting co-ordinates, lowering shields, and flipping switches because it was fun to flip switches.
"I'm going to have three boys," Amy said, throwing herself in a chair. "That's like a harem!"
Rory glared at her. "You're not having three boys," he said.
The Doctor stopped and turned to look at them. "Pond 1, Pond 2, this is important. You must be very, very careful around the Master. He's not..." The Doctor searched for a word, but there wasn't anything the Master wasn't; or, rather, the Master was everything. "He's very dangerous," he finished.
"Dangerous?" Rory repeated. "Then why—"
But at that exact moment the Doctor had to press a very complicated series of buttons. When that was done, Amy was saying: "Because he's in love with him, aren't you, Doctor?"
The Doctor stared at her, just for a moment. "Don't be absurd." He turned a couple of dials and accidentally turned on the ketchup. "Of course not."
Amy leaned against his shoulder and whispered "Liar."
The TARDIS began giving off warning bells and whistles, but she didn't seem to be having a problem with the time ram if the Doctor didn't have a problem with it. "Time ram!" he shouted. "Hang on!"
He was grinning, and grinning, and grinning, and then the Master's TARDIS materialised in the control room at the same time as the Doctor's TARDIS materialised in the Master's control room, and the fabric of space time wavered a bit. The Doctor spun across the room and the door of the Master's TARDIS opened right as he arrived.
The Master came out and looked around.
"Ta-da!" the Doctor said, throwing his arms around.
"It's very... attention-deficit," the Master said.
The Doctor gave that remark all the attention it deserved— none— and leaned close to whisper to the Master. "No killing anyone."
The Master leaned in too and whispered "Too late."
"Fine," the Doctor whispered. "No killing Ponds."
The Master rolled his eyes and shoved the Doctor away. "So where are we going? Off to save puppies?"
"Anything you like," the Doctor said, racing to the console. "You can choose."
"And will your TARDIS actually get there?" the Master asked.
"Of course. She's perfect." The Doctor's fingers moved over the controls behind his back.
"You really are a terrible liar," the Master said, and smiled, leaning very, very far into the Doctor's personal space.
"Is that a Tissue Compression Eliminator in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
"Guess." That was definitely a smirk.
The Doctor sent the TARDIS dematerialising, and they all lurched around. The Doctor tried not to look totally and completely thrilled, but he didn't seem to be fooling anyone.
The Master grumbled at him and started fiddling with the controls. "How can you find anything in this mess?"
"If anyone can find anything in this mess," the Doctor said, with an overly casual air, "it's you."
He could feel the Master pause and give him a searching look— he even brushed a mental touch across the Doctor's mind. The Doctor did not look up; gave no sign he'd noticed him, other than to bat his psychic touch away like a wandering hand.
"Miss me, did you?" the Master said, out of the corner of his mouth.
"Not at all," said the Doctor, who really was a terrible liar.