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The Master in the TARDIS

Chapter Text

Now was not the time to remember everything they had done together. Their rivalry was old but their friendship was older still. He shouldn't be remembering that now, of all times. Everything always got so complicated.

"The drumming. Will it stop?"

The disgust and triumph was gone from the Master's eyes as he looked up at the Doctor with a mad intensity.

"If you would just let me help!"

The Doctor was losing it. From the first moment on he had only wanted to help. The Master had gotten his one chance, but here he was, dying in his arms and the Doctor had tears down his cheeks. He didn't want to be the last one.

The onlookers stood in silence as the Master used his last strength to grab the Doctor by his neck and pull his head down. He whispered something to him, something they couldn't hear. The Doctor seemed more concerned with keeping the Master alive than with the words tickling his ear.

"Fine. Regenerate. Regenerate."

The smirk returned to the Master's lips, despite the pain he was in. Then the golden energy started to surge around his hands. They were still cuffed, but they had no time to mind that. The Doctor was almost too relieved to put him down and back off to a safe distance.

Afterwards, the world returned to normal. Mostly. Martha would be staying behind and the Doctor had a new passenger. It was a difficult goodbye, and it seemed to be the hardest on the Doctor. Martha would be going back to her family and while as the Doctor wasn't alone any more, it certainly wasn't the same.

"Are you actually taking him with you?" Martha asked once their goodbyes had been said. An afterthought, albeit a wary one. Her family would be traumatised for life after what the Master had done to them. He didn't deserve to be taken along with the Doctor, willing or unwilling. But the Doctor only nodded to her, then reached out to embrace her once more.

When he entered the TARDIS and shut the door behind him, it was like closing another one of the many chapters that made out his life.

Inside the TARDIS, the Master was standing with his hands still cuffed. Regenerating had made him blond, but otherwise he hadn't changed. This body still had some attempts at conquering the universe left in it.

"What now then, Doctor?" he asked with as much spite as he could muster. He practically spat the man's name out. "Going to lock me up? Stuff me in the engine room with a straight-jacket, put me in the back of your wardrobe and carry on like usual? Oh wait, you are too kind for that, aren't you?" he sneered at the Doctor. "You're going to try and fix me, but we both know better. This is a prison."

The Doctor had to lean a back a little to get the Master out of his face. He felt bad as it was, but with the Master's life out of immediate danger it was hard to be sympathetic after all the things that had been said and done.

"Oh, come on," he said instead, putting on his usual bright appearance. "You know your way around the place. You had more than enough time in here to feel at home, you and your wife." And he didn't say it without the proper amount of bitterness in his voice.

"You have a point. I should have put sticky-notes wherever we had sex in here," he said, aiming for a vile smirk at the Doctor.

"I'm not really too worried," the Doctor replied before he turned on his heel to face the dashboard of the TARDIS. He was already working on getting them off the planet.

The Master gritted his teeth at the Doctor's back. He wasn't getting the disgusted reaction he wanted, and the Doctor was just being awfully quiet and not any fun at all. Determined to have a response, he walked up behind the Doctor with care. It sort of ruined it that he had to stand on his toes to reach up, but nevertheless. He whispered at him, and the Doctor froze in mid-action.

"That girl was more than a friend, wasn't she? The Doctor and his companion; you keep screwing people up. And now there's just me, and I am already as screwed up as they get. You think you aren't alone any more, finding me, but now you are more alone than ev—!"

The air was knocked out of him as the Doctor slammed him against the nearest beam. Hands still cuffed, the Master had no way of pushing him off. He could just smirk that detestable smirk of his, enjoying this so much despite being pinned and chained.

"So is this what you do to your companions, Doctor? Whenever you get tired of acting as a free tour guide. We all know what 'showing you the stars' is an analogy for."

"Why do you have to be like this?"

The Doctor was almost as frustrated as when the Master had been dying in his arms. The Master was hoping for another round of tears on his behalf. He could have done without the Doctor's hands moving up to grab his face, though.

"When I look at you, I only think of how unfair this has all been to us both," the Doctor told him. "We are the last two Time Lords and we should be doing anything but fighting. You are just as lonely."

"Not at all." The Master's smirk turned into a wide grin. They were staring into each other's eyes, now, and the air was crackling around them with tension. "The drums, Doctor. I'm never without the drums."

The Doctor gave up. The Master was forever unreasonable. Wasn't it the Doctor himself who used to simply say yes when people claimed that things were unfair? With a frown, he whipped his screwdriver out to uncuff the Master.

"I still need to lock you up."

"Really, you should let me fly this thing," the Master said as he rubbed at his wrists.

"That's what I'm worried about."

"I am way better at it than you. You leave the breaks on. And I am taking your bedroom."

The Master pushed past the Doctor, wanting to remain in control for as long as he could. He stopped only to look back at the Doctor with insistence in his eyes. "And remember what I told you before I regenerated. This isn't a pleasure cruise you invited me for. It never will be."

The Master was a child trapped in a constant temper tantrum. The Doctor needed time to cool off, and so he supposed the Master did, if he could cool off at all. It was better to just leave him for now. The Doctor wouldn't complain about the Master taking his room. At least he was making himself at home. This time with an invitation.

*

"Ah, you'll love this, it's brilliant," the Doctor insisted as he danced back and forth around the TARDIS' control panel. He was taking them down and the familiar noise was sounding through the interior of the ship.

"This is what you get worked up about?" the Master asked with a demeaning look at the overexcited Doctor. "Travelling around, seeing things. No wonder we are fighting. You crave the excitement."

The Doctor didn't listen. Instead he ran to the door and pushed it open with a laugh. "What's not to get worked up about? Have a look at that."

He trailed off for a moment, just looking at the world that unfolded in front of him. Then he turned around to haul the Master with him outside. "These are the beaches of Sal Saliin." He gave the Master a push out the door, and the man actually stopped and looked.

As far as they could see, the surface of the planet was covered in sand and water. It was flat and glittery. The water was shallow, without a single ripple to disturb the reflection of a blood red sky. The suns were going down, making the sand glitter like diamonds.

"Crystal dust, all of it. Nothing lives here but for a particular coral that feeds on the minerals of the sand," the Doctor informed. He was pleased with himself, leaning on the doorframe of the TARDIS while he watched the Master.

"You only took me here because there aren't any people around. You are scared of me." There was a satisfied gleam in the Master's eyes as he looked back at the Doctor, but the Doctor was busy taking his shoes off.

"Shall we?"

Too bloody cheerful. As they wandered on, barefoot in the hot sand, the Master was thinking about all the things he could have done to the Doctor before his dictatorship went down the drain. He could have choked the life out of him, let him regenerate, applied various creative torture techniques until the Doctor had no more will to live. Oh yes. The Master was nothing if not enjoying himself where they walked across the alien beaches.

The crystals were burning hot, and they waded through the waters to cool their feet. It was hardly more than ankle-deep most places; a gigantic mirror that rippled around them.

If only he could get the key to the TARDIS and leave the Doctor stranded here. Then he could have this pretty little planet all to himself, and the Master would never have another worry in his life.

They watched the suns go down from atop of some tall crystal formations. What few clouds dotted the sky were specked with magenta and purples in all hues. The TARDIS could be spotted in the far distance, casting a long shadow. The night sky was a swirling mass of stars and gas clouds, something that should have been painted.

"You know, this is actually not too bad," the Master said. He moved a little closer. They were sitting on the edge of the crystal formation. He could push the Doctor down. The drop could knock him out. There were some jagged crystals down there to break his fall.

"Isn't it, though?" The Doctor had his eyes on the horizon. "Sometimes a planet like this is exactly what I need. You'd be surprised at all the amazing places there are like this, with nothing to go there for but for the sheer beauty of it. Just looking at it is conquering it, eh? You and me, the only sentient beings in an entire world."

"Yes, yes I'm sure." The Master's hand was moving up behind the Doctor.

"I should take you to Woman Wept some time. An entire ocean, frozen with waves a hundred feet tall. Rose and I went there one..." He trailed off. No, he didn't want to talk about that with the Master. Not so soon. He looked down, until he felt the Master's hand on his back and turned his head up again.

The Master had faltered, and nothing really came of anything. He couldn't help it if he was distracted by the Doctor's pain. His companions appeared to be the only thing that really hurt the Doctor. Even aged and put in a wheelchair, the damn idiot didn't give in. No, he needed something special in order to suffer. And the Master so enjoyed his suffering.

"So you take all your companions to desert planets void of life. That's heartbreaking," the Master said with a scoff. He was feeling kind of awkward. His hand was still on the Doctor's back and he didn't know what to do with it. So he patted the Doctor's shoulder and got up. "I'm bored. Let's go back before I push you off this cliff."

Though he wouldn't admit it even if it was to save his own life, he did find the planet to be pretty. Somewhere deep down. If he could just bury the Doctor in the sand and be the only living creature there.

*

The Master discovered new things about the TARDIS every day. For one, there was a swimming pool in the library. Another thing that interested him was the Doctor's collection of books. It seemed endless. It had taken him a weekend to finish them, and that was saying something on his part.

For now he was trying out the pool. Taking the most rare and exquisite books he could find, he was folding paper boats and getting ready for massive naval warfare. If only he'd had his laser screwdriver; then he could really make these bitches sink. Making complimentary noises of destruction, he drove one of the boats into a second one, crushing them together into watery mush.

"Pew, pew!" The Master cackled like only he could. "Boom!"

The entire TARDIS shook. It sent books flying off their shelves and dust crumbling from the ceiling. The Master slipped on the floor of the pool and his entire fleet was sunk by a tidal wave.

He had barely poked his head up from underwater and gotten his bearings when the doors flew open and the Doctor sprang in. He had his glasses askew and far too much excitement.

"Nothing to worry about! We just crashed into the Titanic," he said with the biggest grin on his face. "Small scratch on the old girl, nothing I can't fix, and then I'll take us onto the ship. Grab yourself a tux and we're off."

Petulant, the Master ripped a page out from an especially dusty old book and started folding another boat. The Doctor's glee wore off somewhat.

"What are you doing with—Those are my books!"

The Doctor snatched them up and out of the Master's hands.

There was a long-drawn "No," from the Doctor and he groaned with a pitiful look at one book in particular. "You were one of my favourites."

"Pew, pew." The Master was trying to subtly aim his boat's imaginary laser cannon at the Doctor.

"Oh, stop that." The Doctor straightened his glasses so he could properly frown at the Master. "Now you're just trying to make me angry."

"Don't look at me. I'm naked, you pervert." The Master rubbed his nipples for great measure. He was all too delighted to see the Doctor's face go completely red before he stomped off to fix the TARDIS.

"You have five minutes," the Doctor called out before the doors were slammed shut.

*

After a one-hearted scolding from the Doctor, they both stepped out of the TARDIS to be faced with the ship's luxurious interior. The Doctor had even talked the Master into a tux, as neither of them could deny that he looked smart in fancy dress.

Together they looked around, taking in the atmosphere. Rich people in expensive clothing eating expensive food, or dancing to Christmas songs.

"Not my rhythm," the Master remarked before he steered himself towards the closest serving of champagne. He grabbed himself a glass and downed it before he shot an angry look at a nearby mechanical angel. "What are you looking at?"

"Information: a soon-to-be drunk alcoholic sociopath," the angel replied in its robotic voice. The champagne glass shattered in the Master's clenched hand.

"What did you—?"

The Doctor grabbed him by his shoulders and pulled him to the side. "Evening. And you would be?" he asked the angel.

"Information: heavenly host supplying tourist information."

"Good," the Doctor said, shooting the Master a sideways look. "So where exactly are we from? Terrible memory I'm afraid."

The Master scoffed and went for another glass of champagne. There had to be a way of making this more interesting. If only he'd had his screwdriver.

He set the glass down to interrupt the Doctor's conversation with the angel, grabbing him by the waist. The Doctor was dragged flailing out on the dance floor against his will and found one hand placed on the Master's shoulder, the other in a tight grip.

"Come on, Doctor. Do you even know how to dance?" the Master asked. His hand was creeping around the Doctor's waist.

"Actually, if I can just remember how to—"

The Master waltzed him across the floor, pushing other pairs out of the way with little afterthought.

"Don't look so suspicious, Doctor. You took me out here to have fun, didn't you?"

"You said this wasn't your rhythm," the Doctor reminded him, not at all comfortable.

"Excuse me? Waltz is a four step dance," the Master corrected him with a frown.

The Master didn't let him get away. After a while, the Doctor began to relax in his arms. The slow music was filling their heads, and for once they were doing something together other than fighting. The Master almost forgot what his real intentions had been.

"You are better at dancing than my wife was, I'll give you that."

The Doctor furrowed his brows at him. "Did you care about her, even a little?"

The Master shrugged. "She had the intelligence of a hole in the ground. At least the bitch had enough balls to shoot me. That took me by surprise."

The Doctor had to wonder if the Master cared about anything at all. He was insane, but that didn't have to be the only thing about him. He could always hope that this was the beginning of the Master's rehabilitation. For real, this time. And while that was all nice and good, the Master was getting a little too close for comfort.

"Nervous, Doctor? I think you're still a little scared of me," the Master said, smirking up at him. The hand at the Doctor's back was now at the small of his back, going down. He simply had too much fun making the Doctor flustered.

"I'm worried for you. There's a difference," the Doctor said. He'd had enough, and he pushed the Master back. "Don't get yourself in trouble. I want to have a look around." He should by all means not let the Master out of his sight, but there was a limit to the damage he could do to others without a weapon. Worst thing he could do was destroy his liver.

"Aye." The Master gave the Doctor's ass a pat before he went to grab himself another drink. He watched the Doctor out of the corner of his eye, though, waiting until the man was distracted with chatting to some waitress before he slithered off.

Once he was on his own, he pulled the Doctor's screwdriver out of his coat and gave it a twirl between his fingers. That had been disappointingly easy. First on his list was to get revenge on the angels.

All over the ship were panels that looped an endless commercial. With the sonic screwdriver, he could hack into the ship's system and take control of the angels. Oh, this was going to be a laugh.

About the same time as the angels started to spontaneously combust, the ship was hit by three meteors in a row. Chaos ensued among the few passengers that hadn't already been sucked out of the broken windows and into space.

The Doctor was running towards the control room when he almost crashed into the Master, who was heading in the other direction.

The Doctor snatched his screwdriver out of the Master's hand and glared at him. "Please say it wasn't you who took the shields down."

"Of course not," the Master said, putting his hands up. "I might have blown up the hosts and activated the ship's self-destruct, but I would never lower the shields."

The Doctor looked at him in mute horror.

"And speaking of self-destruct, we really should get going," the Master insisted.

"This ship is headed towards Earth. The nuclear reactor is enough to wipe out the entire planet," the Doctor hissed at him. He took the Master by his upper arm and hauled him towards the control room.

"I agree. Best. Christmas. Ever."

Reaching the control room, they found one man wounded and the Captain dead. The Doctor looked to the Master.

"I wish that was my doing, but your screwdriver is a rubbish gun."

"What happened?" the Doctor asked while he scanned the burning control panel.

"The Captain lowered the shields, sir," the wounded man gasped from the floor. "I tried to stop him, but he shot me. He was killed when the meteors hit and I don't know what happened. Somehow the self-destruct was enabled."

The Master tried not to look too proud, but failed. The Doctor wanted so badly to hit him.

"There are still people alive on this ship. If we can get the ship stabilized and avoid Earth..." The Doctor worked feverishly with his screwdriver over the control panel.

"Wouldn't really help. I deadlocked the self-destruct," the Master said happily. "And as I said, we should really get out of here before it's too late. Think of it this way; if the ship explodes now, rather on impact, it might save a few countries from complete annihilation."

"Why would you do this?" the Doctor yelled at him. "Why do you have to be like this?"

"You tell me. Because it's fun?"

The Doctor struggled for another minute with the control panel before sighing in defeat.

"I am so sorry," he muttered to no one and everyone at the same time. He put his screwdriver to the control panel one last time before he grabbed the Master and dragged him along once more. "If I knew better I would have left you here," he growled.

"What did you do?" the Master asked. He was keen on getting away from the explosion himself.

"I raised the shields. The explosion will be contained and the Earth will be safe."

"But everyone on here will die."

The Doctor sent him a sharp look, not saying anything. Once they reached the TARDIS, they could feel the whole ship shaking and he pushed the Master inside first before following after and shutting the door.

Hands pressed to the door of the TARDIS, the Doctor stared at the floor. It shouldn't have to go like this. He shouldn't for a moment have thought that he could leave the Master on his own and this was his fault.

They heard the explosion all around them. The TARDIS was safe behind its own shields, but they felt the world shake outside. It seemed an eternity before silence fell and the only thing out there was dead space.

With an enraged cry, he slammed his fist into the door before he whirled around to direct his anger at the Master. "Are you satisfied now? You killed the few innocent people still left on that ship. For a second there I thought... But now I know better."

The Master let out a slight laugh. "But Doctor. It was only a few people. You saved the Earth. Again. Isn't that enough?"

It wasn't enough. The Doctor was enraged, and that wasn't good for the Master. He spent the next days locked inside a room in the TARDIS, kicking and screaming at the door, going mad by himself. Just like the old days. There was nothing but him and the drumming, and when he wasn't screaming for the Doctor to let him out, he was hugging himself in a corner, rocking back and forth.

When the Doctor came to fetch him, he was sobbing quietly to himself. Even so the Doctor looked at him with frigid eyes.

"Is it too much to hope that you've even thought twice about what you did?"

The Master sniffled and glared at his feet. The Doctor felt a pang of guilt. He didn't know what else to do, though. He didn't know the first thing about responsibility. Here he was, trying to live his life like he always had, when he had a murderer to look after. He kneeled down in front of the Master, looking at him over the top of his glasses.

"What am I supposed to do with you?" he asked. It was just depressing, having the man with him.

"Can't you hear it, Doctor?" the Master asked. Tears were still rolling down his cheeks.

"The drums?" The Doctor had heard the Master mention them over and over again. "I can't. I'm sorry." He reached out to wipe the tears away. "We'll figure it out. I promise."

"Always so quick to promise things, aren't you?"

"It doesn't have to be like this. If you could just try and behave, we could go anywhere, see everything. You'll like it, just give it a chance. Maybe it can make you better."

"I disgust you. Not once have you used my name." There was a gleam in the Master's eyes that made the Doctor wary again. "You're ashamed to say it."

The Doctor tried not to make a face. "That's not true. Come on, Master. Let's try this again."

*

It sort of went better from there on. True, the Master might have (not so accidentally) introduced the Aztecs to human sacrifice, but otherwise he had been on his best behaviour. They had visited Zazz, the planet of jazz-loving humans and taken a trip back in time to visit the painter Mark Rothko (who found himself quite inspired by the mind of the Master). At one point the Doctor had convinced the Master to see a therapist in New New York, with bad results for the therapist. They drank themselves stupid instead and spent the next day in the TARDIS, moaning and complaining.

The Doctor did of course have no idea that, while they travelled, the Master had composed a list of his thousand favourite ways to kill off the Doctor, but it was the thought that counted. The Master couldn't deny that he was somewhat fun to have around, even if he was a stick in the mud.

They had just escaped a raging mob of were-wasps on one of Saturn's moonlets in the year eleven thousand. They slammed the door of the TARDIS behind them, panting and laughing with the adrenaline rush.

"Where to next?" the Master asked. He was happy because he'd been allowed to shoot down a couple of tens of them.

"I hear Paris is nice this time of the year," the Doctor said. He was already running over to the control panel to take them off the moonlet. "Allons-y!"

"I want to drive," the Master said, throwing himself at the panel. "It's my turn. You never let me drive."

"And there's a reason for that, leave my TARDIS alone," the Doctor insisted. He was trying to fly the thing with both hands while pushing the Master away with one foot.

"I'm a better driver than you," the Master insisted, pulling random levers and knobs just to piss the man off.

"Stop that!"

Alarms were ringing through the ship and it was shaking like mad. Neither knowing what had happened, the TARDIS suddenly span around like mad and threw them all over the place. Lights were blinking and it seemed like everything that possibly could go wrong was going wrong.

When they finally went still, they felt as if they'd been turned inside out and back again. Slumped against the walls, it took a moment before either managed to get up.

"Your ship is crap," the Master grumbled.

"She's a fine old girl. You're the one who shouldn't be driving," the Doctor told him. He leaned onto the control panel to check where they were. "Don't say anything bad about her."

The Master picked himself up and straightened his suit. "Where did we land?"

"Oh no. Not again," the Doctor groaned at the screen. "This is bad. This is really bad."

"What is?" The Master pushed the Doctor out of the way so he could read off the screen. "We broke into a parallel dimension?"

They exchanged looks. They both knew that this was bad, but something else caught their attention. The coordinates they were at. Without another word, they stormed to the door as one to have a look outside.

The TARDIS was slowly orbiting a shining amber planet. It was more glorious than what either of them had seen in a very, very long time. They looked at each other, all differences set aside in an instant.

"We shouldn't be here," the Doctor said slowly.

"But Doctor, that's..."

"..."

They both turned around and went back to the control panel. Together they took the TARDIS down and they fought each other to be the first one outside. They stumbled out over deep red grass and fell in a speechless heap of awe. The familiar smells filled their nostrils and the sight of the burnt orange sky made them weep.

"It's here, it's all here," the Doctor exclaimed. "Look!" He pointed to the trees, with silver leaves that reflected the burning sky as if they were on fire. Mountains topped with shining white snow. It hurt so much to see it all again, but neither would have given this up for anything in any world.

The Master grabbed the Doctor and held onto him in what might have resembled a hug.

"This shouldn't even be possible," he said in a choked voice. It was possible that he meant it as thanks, and the Doctor hugged him back, feeling numb.

"It's even better than I remembered it."

They had punched a hole in the universe, but they didn't care. Now they were running over blood red meadows, breathing in the air of their childhood and rolling in the grass. The idea of actually meeting people seemed too scary a prospect at first. Their families might be alive. After a while the suspense was simply too much. The Doctor was still not letting the Master out of his sight, and so they went together.

"We only watch from a distance. Listen, look, but don't get involved," the Doctor insisted. "We don't belong here. We have to go back, so don't get involved."

"Why can't we stay? This is all we ever wanted," the Master complained. "Even if there's another one of me and you, what are the chances they will be around? I'll be off wrecking havoc somewhere and you'll be exploring planets together with your harlots."

"We'll see."

In fact, it didn't take long before the Master was proven wrong. The Doctor had taken them down not far from where they used to live, where they still lived. The Doctor could see his house, halfway up the side of a mountain and he held the Master back as he spotted a figure running down towards the fields. Not yet old enough to be off with a TARDIS of his own but already a young man, it was no one but the Doctor himself running down the side of that mountain.

Down in the field, someone was waiting for him. A boy on his own age, who was almost tackled to the ground as the Doctor reached him.

"That's—"

"They won't recognize us," the actual Doctor said. They watched the younger versions of themselves run off together. They both knew what the other was thinking, and so they followed after.

"They will know we are Time Lords," the Master pointed out.

"And there is nothing but Time Lords around."

They couldn't help a moment of glee when they reminded themselves of that. This was home. Not their home, per say, but as close as they would ever come. The Time War had spanned across four dimensions. They were all too lucky in finding this place.

Venturing in between the trees, they stayed close enough to listen to the chatter of their other selves, but stayed out of sight. It was no doubt them, but they realized that the Master wasn't called by that name in this world. The Doctor kept referring to him as the Architect. Here, he was not a man of destruction or control. He was a man of creation.

The Doctor was watching this and marvelling. How different things could have turned out. Here they were, alive and fine on their home planet, talking about all the adventures they would have together. Not a care in the world. Once they were convinced no one was watching, the young Master grabbed the Doctor by his hand, and they kept walking like that.

The actual Doctor turned to see the reaction of the Master, but found that he had turned around and headed back for the TARDIS. The Doctor hesitated, but then he turned around as well. He couldn't let the Master be off on his own. It would be catastrophic.

He caught up with the Master out on the field and was relieved to see that he hadn't run off. The Master was on his knees, feeling the grass between his fingers. The Doctor jogged over to him and kneeled down next to him.

"Hey. What happened back there?" he asked, putting a hand on the Master's back.

"He doesn't hear the drums. Is that what I would have been like if I couldn't hear the drums? He can't hear them. He can't possibly be hearing them."

The Master appeared to be in shock. The Doctor pulled him into his arms in an effort to calm him down.

"Should we go back?" he asked, as much as he hated the idea of leaving so soon.

"No. No! Not yet. Please, not yet," the Master groaned against the Doctor's chest.

"How about this; we stay till the evening. Go into the city, visit all our favourite places. That'll be a treat, eh?" He was desperately trying to cheer the Master up, if only to avoid him doing something stupid. They should at least be doing stupid things together.

He helped the Master to his feet, and together they headed for the city. They knew the way. Everything was as they remembered, fuzzy as their memories were by now. It all came back to them as they walked down familiar streets and saw familiar faces. Keeping themselves composed was near impossible, and soon they were running around the place like children on a sugar rush.

They hadn't ever grown up. The Doctor could claim he was taking responsibility over the Master all he liked, but that didn't hold any substance. The only thing that had changed with time was that alcohol had been added into the stirring pot of disaster that was them.

They stole themselves some Time Lord robes, went clubbing, climbed famous landmarks and did unmentionable things with a banana. No doubt would they look back at this and think of how they had wasted their one return to Gallifrey, but at the moment they couldn't care less. It was just like old times.

As they stumbled across the meadow towards the TARDIS, both in their stolen robes and utterly high on life, they could see the suns going down. The Doctor was wearing his tie like a bandana and the Master kept tripping up in his far-too-long robe. He had grabbed onto the Doctor to keep himself upright and just ended up making them both fall.

Lying in a heap in the deep red grass, they watched the burning light of the sundown dance over the silver forest and the snow-capped mountains. They were grinning like idiots the entire time. Not until it got dark did they sober up a little, knowing they would have to go back.

"Another day wouldn't hurt," the Master muttered.

"I'm afraid it would," the Doctor sighed. He would have been shepherding the other into the TARDIS by now, hadn't he wanted so badly to stay himself.

The Master wasn't able to get up, anyway. He was trapped underneath the Doctor, who was more concerned with taking a last look at their beloved home.

"This has been the best day in a very long time," the Doctor murmured.

"Best day of my life," the Master agreed. He was getting overwhelmed all over again. Everything was okay when they were here. Nothing hurt, except everything hurt but in a good way. This was something he wouldn't have found on his own, without the Doctor. "I still can't believe it's all here."

"It's like something out of a dream."

And they had sort of wasted it on acting like complete morons, but was there really something better to do? They couldn't make a difference to anything. They could only savour this tiny moment they had been given and make the most of it.

The Doctor was torn out of his thoughts when the Master grabbed his head and pulled him down in a fierce kiss. It was full of frustration, desperation and longing. For Gallifrey. The Doctor was far too surprised to really do anything. All he could think of was the two of them, in this world, holding hands.

The Master's hands were in his hair, ruffling it up worse than ever. It was rough and demanding, almost painful, and afterwards he was pushed aside. The Master got up and dusted off his knees.

"TARDIS. Now. Or I'll never be able to leave."

The Doctor looked up at him with utter confusion, but then he picked himself up.

"Yes, you're right. Off we go."

It wasn't at all easy to leave. When they got back into the TARDIS, back to their own dimension, they were once again the Master and the Doctor, with all the differences in the world to keep them apart.

*

Inducer activated. Inducer transmitting.

They were in the middle of taking down the Adipose. The Master was standing there with his hands full of wire, annoyed that he didn't get to tinker with the glowing, green machine. The Doctor had all the fun. Entertaining as it was to see fat humans turn into little alien fat-babies.

"She started the program." The Doctor sounded mildly panicked.

All over England, a million people were now being dismantled into small, living lumps of fat and the machine that controlled it all had been deadlocked. The fat was waddling through the streets like the most massive migration of penguins.

"Don't smile. They're not just losing weight. Skeleton, organs and everything is going to be turned to Adipose," the Doctor hissed at the Master, who was having a hard time standing upright as much as he was shaking with laughter.

"You don't honestly think I am going to help you save the world, do you?" the Master asked. He was working the wires into a very pretty braid.

"A million people are going to die!"

Pulling out the golden locket he had nicked earlier, he dismantled it and started wiring it into the machine. The pill-shaped locket had already proven itself to have an effect on the Adipose.

"This should cancel out the signal," he said to himself, pushing his glasses up for extra mind power.

Inducer increasing.

"No, no, no!" the Doctor shouted. "She amplified the signal. There's no way to stop it now."

"No way?" the Master mused. "What if you had another locket?"

"There's no time to get another one," the Doctor growled at the machine. "They're all going to die!"

The Master weighed his options, for in his pocket he had one of those lockets as well. He was fidgeting with it, running it through his fingers, thinking. One million people.

"What a shame." It was just far too much fun to watch the Doctor in despair.

The Doctor slammed his fist against the wall, unable to really do much else. The Master gave him a calculated pat on the back. All over Britain, people were dying from the Adipose. Ships were arriving from Adipose 3 to pick up the children.

The Master and the Doctor watched the ships from the roof of the building as the Adipose was beamed up.

"Do we blow them up, then?" the Master asked with hopeful glee.

Crushed as the Doctor was by his defeat, he shook his head. "They can't help where they came from."

"That's so like you," the Master said with scorn, but the Doctor had gotten distracted.

"There she is. Miss Foster!" the Doctor called out as he ran to the edge of the roof. "Listen to me!"

The woman who had created the Adipose and acted as their nanny was being beamed up right in front of them, but was now hanging still in mid-air. She looked at them over the top of her glasses with a disgustingly triumphant smirk.

"Oh, I don't think so, Doctor. If I ever see you again it'll be too soon."

"I am trying to help! Get across to the roof," the Doctor said, waving at her to come closer. "Can you shift the levitation beam?"

"What, so that you can arrest me?" she quipped.

"Look, they know it's a crime, breeding on earth. They aren't going to leave you as a witness."

The Master was in awe at how stupid this woman was. The Doctor and her kept on arguing for a minute or so, up until the ship turned the levitation beam off and let her drop to the asphalt below.

"Why does no one ever listen?" the Doctor groaned.

The Master peeked over the edge of the roof.

"I got a sudden craving for pizza," he remarked.

"Let's just go back to the TARDIS," the Doctor said. Shoulders slumped, he turned around for the stairs. The Master skipped after him, feeling that this had been one of their better days. He'd been hard to get in a good mood after Gallifrey.

The Doctor still hadn't cheered up by the time they were back in the TARDIS. What a bother. The Doctor stood over the control panel, moping. The Master came up behind him and put his hands on the Doctor's waist.

"Oh, cheer up. We'll have a night in. Watch a movie, order pizza. You'll forget all about this in no time."

"One million people," the Doctor reminded him with venom in his voice.

The Master raised his brows and let go. "You can have hot cocoa as well."

The Doctor slipped away from him and slumped on the bottom step of the stairs. "We have a mile long bill from the pizza company already. The pizza boys recognize you by your voice!"

"And they draw straws to see who has to do the delivery. I just love antagonizing them," the Master said. He perched himself on top of the control panel and grabbed the phone. They had galactic pizza delivery on speed dial. "Hello? I wish to order evil pizza."

At least the Doctor appeared to be in a better mood later in the evening, once he'd been given cocoa and a documentary so historically inaccurate that neither could help laughing their asses off. The pizza arrived, and the Master nagged the Doctor until he took a slice.

"Why do you call it 'evil pizza', anyway?" the Doctor asked after one big mouthful. "It's only pepperoni and extra bacon."

"And pineapple. Pineapple is evil," the Master explained. "And one side of the pizza is drugged."

The Doctor froze mid-bite.

"Oh, as if I would," the Master laughed. When the Doctor passed out, he leaned over him with a smirk. "Actually," he whispered. "I would."

With the Doctor knocked out, he leapt from the couch and ran for the control room with all the joy of a five-year-old on Christmas. He didn't know where he wanted to go, but it didn't matter so long as he was driving against the Doctor's will. It occurred to him mid-flight that this might have been a good time to chuck the Doctor out into deep space and leave him to die, but no time for that.

Right as he was about to land, the Doctor stumbled in.

"What are you thinking?"

The Master yelped, and maybe he twisted a knob a little too far, for instead of landing the TARDIS, he crashed it right through a wall and knocked them both off their feet.

The Doctor had a major headache from the drugs and the Master was disappointed they hadn't lasted longer. They collected themselves after a moment or so.

"Oh, why did you have to go and do that?" the Doctor asked him, rubbing his head. "For once we were actually having a good time."

"Would you love me if I was any other way?" the Master teased him. He was already going for the door and the Doctor hurried to catch up with him.

They stepped out in a decidedly roman room. Ancient Rome. It was also notoriously luxurious, except for the parts that had been wrecked by the TARDIS.

"Now you've done it," the Doctor scolded.

"I actually think I ran over someone," the Master noted. Indeed, there was a man crushed to death between the wall and the TARDIS.

"This is why I don't let you drive. Look at what you have done!"

"He sort of looks like me," the Master said. "This had better not be symbolical."

There was a clatter of feet out in the hall and the doors burst open for a number of roman soldiers to flock into the room.

"Emperor Caligula! Is everything in order?" one of the men asked. The others were eyeing the strange clothes and the giant blue box with quite a lot of worry.

It took a moment before the Time Lords realized that the soldiers were looking at the Master. Things slowly clicked into place and the Master stepped forth before the Doctor could say anything.

"One of my little games. Now, what have I said about interrupting me? Be off, before I change my mind about letting your interruption go unnoticed."

The soldiers were gone before he could say another word, and the Master was giddy at the prospect of people being frightened of him again. "They think I am Caligula. This is golden!"

"And we are not staying. You just killed the Emperor of Rome."

"You're always the first one to run off and explore. How does a little murder change anything?"

They glared at each other for a good while before anything was said.

"You drugged me!"

"It was the friendly sort of drugging. Come on. I could be Caligula," the Master pleaded. He took the Doctor's hands and looked up at him with big eyes. "We killed him before he was supposed to die. There will be a hole in history if we don't fix this. You don't want to tamper with history, do you?"

This was when the Doctor couldn't keep himself from cracking up. If anyone tampered with history, it was him. "Alright. We'll stay. You can't possibly be worse than Caligula. At least if we don't stay for long. I'll find out what year it is, and you put on something more appropriate."

"I could rule Rome in a suit," the Master considered. "But I always looked good in togas."

*

This was something the Doctor would forever regret. Not because the Master was doing a poor job at his role. No, he was far too good. He went down hard on the Senate and the nobles from day one, and he made sure the Doctor could do nothing but watch from the sideline. And while the Doctor couldn't tell from afar, he was sure the Master was pimping out the original Caligula's sisters and getting a little too close to the young Nero than what was really comfortable to think about. It was a disaster.

The palace was turned into a brothel, and when the Master appointed his horse as a priest, the Doctor gave up and went on holiday. At least the Master was following history, so he supposed he wasn't really doing any damage when he was getting people executed for no particular reason. Somehow? It was a bit of a moral dilemma.

They had decided on leaving the day before Caligula's assassination. By then, they had already stayed for far longer than what the Doctor would have liked. The Master was just too satisfied. Back in his suit and waiting outside the TARDIS, he didn't appear interested in leaving at all.

"You had a good time, then?" the Doctor asked. Ancient Rome was always enjoyable, if he just didn't have to worry so much for the Master.

"Oh, you have no idea," the Master said. "I should have been born in this age. You have no idea how much I missed sex, and here I can have it as much as I want and as filthy as I want."

"I really don't want the details," the Doctor assured, hands up in a defensive manner.

"You should live a little yourself," the Master insisted. He grabbed the Doctor and yanked him close with a vicious gleam in his eye.

"Uhm, Master? Day of your assassination tomorrow, remember?"

"The people love me, Doctor. I don't see what your problem is."

The Doctor replied with a yelp as the Master's hands went in places they had no reason to be. When he tried to move away, the Master took his hands and placed them on his own hips.

"You can't possibly say you're not enjoying this?" he asked with a grin. He was drunk on power and sex, and he wanted more.

"What's that in your pocket?" the Doctor asked with a frown.

"I'm just happy to see you."

"Stand still."

The Doctor's hand went down the Master's pocket and pulled out a golden chain. On it was a gold pendant shaped like a pill. The Master quickly gave up on his quest for booty.

"You had this all the time?" the Doctor asked him.

"I forgot."

"One million people."

This wouldn't end well, the Master knew. Before the Doctor could stop him, he called out.

"Guards! Guards, come quickly!"

His soldiers stormed in and he pointed to the Doctor.

"Arrest him! Throw him in jail. Only jail," the Master ordered. "I want to deal with him myself."

"What? What?"

The Doctor would have rained all sorts of rage on the Master, but he was grabbed by the soldiers and hauled out of the room. The Master felt a little numb. Some time in jail would do the Doctor good, however. He shouldn't feel bad. This was the Doctor, the same man who had foiled his every plan. He was the Master. Caligula. He was in charge.

For some reason it wasn't as much fun, now. The Master was not a happy Caligula, and his displeasure was taken out on the Senate and the rest of the people around him. People were getting killed left and right. Later that day, he had a whole section of the crowd thrown into the arena to be eaten by animals. He was such a passive aggressive person.

Not wanting to let the Doctor get him down, he took the better part of his harem to bed that night. It did wonders for what little conscience he had.

*

The Doctor was, for the infinite time, wondering why he was giving the Master a chance. Every time he wondered about that, he remembered Gallifrey and his thoughts trailed off. The Master needed help. Deep down there was still a decent bone left in him. A tiny voice in the back of the Doctor's head even told him that he should put one there, but that was a thought he quickly dismissed.

He had spent the night in a cold, dark, musty cell, all the while thinking of how to avoid the assassination come the next day. Searching his head for facts, he remembered they had found Caligula's body in the cryptoporticus beneath the imperial palace. He had been stabbed thirty times, much in the same way as Julius Caesar. He winced at the thought of the Master ending up like that. Not that he didn't deserve it.

The rest of the night was spent trying to fish the sonic screwdriver out of his coat. With his hands chained to the wall, that wasn't at all an easy task. He felt just a little proud when he managed to uncuff himself with the screwdriver between his teeth. In addition, the Master wasn't there to comment on what a talented mouth he had.

As he casually snuck his way out of jail, he wondered why the Master hadn't made sure they took his screwdriver. And the key to the TARDIS. In fact, the Master could have done all that while he was knocked out by the drugs. It was all a bit suspicious. He had to remind himself that he was still enraged with the Master, that he had cost the lives of one million people plus Caligula in only one day.

He went for the palace in hopes that the Master was still there and willing to come with him, using the slightly psychic paper to get past the guards. With the Master nowhere to be found, it was time to panic. He hadn't saved him simply to have him be stabbed to death in Ancient Rome.

He made for the underground tunnels with no idea on how he would take down a number of men from the Senate, army and the equestrian order. He trusted himself to come up with something brilliant once he got there.

Except it was already too late. He stopped in his tracks, panting and wheezing. His chest hurt but it didn't even matter, because on the floor of the underground tunnel was a body lying face-down in a pool of its own blood.

"No, no, no."

He ran over to the Master's corpse and fell to his knees. Clenching his jaw, he ran his fingers over blood-flecked blond hair.

"No. I'm so sorry. No, no you can regenerate. It doesn't have to end like this. We only just started. I was supposed to fix you!"

He yelled the last part out at the universe. Again he was the last of the Time Lords.

"Oh my. You really do care. I'm ever so touched."

The Doctor's head snapped up to see the Master standing over him with his arms crossed

"You really didn't think I would be able to avoid such a simple assassination attempt? And this way, history will go as planned. Everything is just peachy."

The Doctor looked down at the dead body on the floor. It wasn't the Master. The similarity was enough to fool the Senate, but the Doctor saw it as soon as he turned the body over.

"Shouldn't you be happy with me for once?" the Master asked.

The Doctor got up and looked at the Master. Just looked at him. He didn't know what to think or feel any more. It always got complicated when he brought people with him. Even with his arch nemesis on board. The man who had just let a million people die had him on his knees and crying over what he had thought was his dead body.

Before he knew it he was hugging the Master as tight as he possibly could. The Master had just gotten to liking it when the Doctor pulled back and slapped him.

"Ow! What was that for?"

"You had me arrested!"

"I don't like it when you yell at me," the Master whined while he rubbed his cheek.

"You let a million people die," the Doctor scowled as he pointed one accusing finger. "And then you made me care about you."

"Can we do this later? Before they find out that I am not really dead?"

The Doctor would have given the Master quite an earful, but he noticed that the man actually looked sort of guilty. If only sort of. He would let the lives of a million people go because he thought he was finally getting through to the Master. He felt terrible.

*

They had set the TARDIS to land on a random point in time and space. The Master had spent a long while trying to convince the Doctor that just because they landed somewhere, they didn't necessarily have to explore the place, but the Doctor was just too chipper about randomized time travel.

"It's bloody cold and I hate you," the Master moaned while he hugged himself and tried to keep warm. He was trudging through the snow, already falling behind the Doctor.

"Ah, cheer up. I said you could have put on a coat."

"And throw off my groove? No thank you," the Master hissed through gritted teeth. The bottom of his trousers were soaked through by the snow already. "Where are we even?"

"No idea!" the Doctor said happily. "I think I can see a research facility over that hill."

"Boring," the Master complained. "I'm not going there."

"There's nothing else out here."

"Anything is better than your stupid facility. I'm going back to the TARDIS."

"Where is your sense of curiosity?" the Doctor asked. He kept on walking, but looked back to see the Master flip him off and turn around. Not about to let that get him down, the Doctor concluded that the Master could need some time on his own and walked on.

Somehow, he wasn't worried about the Master taking off with the TARDIS. He had no idea that the Master was about to get himself lost, he just wasn't worried. But the Master did get himself lost.

It took a long row of shenanigans, including the saving of red-eyed Ood, hearing a prophecy and stopping the galactic Ood trade before the Doctor went back to find that the Master was not in the TARDIS.

*

It was nightfall. The Master couldn't remember feeling this much pity for himself. He had been caught in a blizzard and by sheer luck found shelter in a cave. There he was, arms wrapped tightly around himself and shaking. He hated this bloody 'explore the universe' crap. He hated the running, he hated the people and he hated the environments. For a moment he had forgotten why he wanted to take control of it and destroy everyone, but it was coming back to him, with greater force. The drums were beating in his head like mad.

The stupid Doctor never showed up when he actually needed him. Just dragged him places he didn't want to go. Everything had to be on the Doctor's whim. This wasn't about being the last two Time Lords at all; he was just another one of the Doctor's harlots, except he wasn't getting laid.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

Hate, hate, hate, hate.

Kill, kill, kill, kill.

The drumming was making more sense than ever. The entrance of the cave was almost snowed shut. The Doctor would never find him like this.

Stupid Doctor, stupid Doctor.

He sneezed and hated on life, going ever so slightly madder in the hours he spent freezing his balls off and listening to the infernal rhythm in his head. Somehow it got terrible when the Doctor wasn't around. He refused to think that the Doctor distracted him from it, or even worse, made it better.

Sniffling and sneezing, he let his self-pity lull him to sleep along with the sound of the howling wind outside. He was just getting comfortable, feeling warm even, when something violently shook him awake. He responded by punching it, because it was the Doctor who had sorely neglected him the entire day.

"Where were you?" he screamed at him. "And what's with that horrible wakeup-call?"

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," the Doctor said. He had avoided the punch by a hair and now he was feeling the Master's hands. He tried to rub some warmth back into them. "I had to save some Ood."

"Ood?"

"Ood."

The Master sneezed. "Hate Ood."

"No harsh words against Ood. Ood is good. Love an Ood. Come here."

"They took you away from me," the Master said, but he interrupted himself with another sneeze.

The Doctor looked down at him sideways, but decided not to say anything. He made a huge effort to pick the Master up into his arms and ended up half carrying him, half dragging him back to the TARDIS.

The Master was being decidedly pouty and bratty the entire time as the Doctor drew him a bath before tucking him into bed. He'd even made him wear pyjamas. It was so domestic it made the Master wonder if it really was the Doctor who had rescued him, and not some evil clone from planet bizarro. There had to be a planet like that somewhere out in space. There was even a planet for bloody jazz-lovers, damn it.

"I made you soup," the Doctor said as he entered with a tray and put it down across the Master's lap.

"Ood baby soup!"

"Those are noodles."

The Master sent him a look of immense dissatisfaction.

"And I'm going to read to you", the Doctor continued.

"No you are so not!"

"Oh yes I am."

"You're enjoying this," the Master said before he was hit by an extra violent sneeze. The Doctor patted the top of his head.

"As a matter of fact, yes I am. Eat your soup."

"You're a terrible cook and I hate you."

"The more you say that, the more I'm starting to think you're warming up to me."

The Doctor looked positively cheeky and the Master folded his arms over his chest, went all pouty again and looked away.

"Oh, but you'll love this. I have all these brilliant children's stories that you probably know. Remember the Three Old Sontarans? And the Emperor Dalek's New Clothes was one of your favourites. You kept teasing them about that one, good old you. Probably why teaming up with the Daleks never worked out for you, though."

"Please shut your happy-go-lucky face now."

"I've gotten some new ones you might like. You might find some of them were inspired by our adventures."

"Really?" the Master asked, looking up again.

"The Time Lord Who Cried Drums, ever heard of that?"

"You're trying to torture me!" the Master shouted while the Doctor flipped through the books. "Ooh, There Is an Old Man in a Blue Box sounds like a good one. Something I can relate to."

The Doctor flipped past that one nonchalantly. "Let's read something on neutral ground, hm?" He opened up a book entitled 'Where's My Mummy'.

"I will throw something at you," the Master warned.

"'Where is my mummy?'", the Doctor began reading. "'Is this my mummy? It goes "Go back to your room!" It is the Doctor.'"

A spoon barely grazed the Doctor's ear as it flew by. He read on.

"'Is this my mummy? It goes "If it's alien, it's ours." It's Torchwood London.'"

A glass of water shattered against the far wall.

"'Is this my mummy? It goes "Exterminate!" It's—'"

Soup exterminated the rest of the page as the Master reached the peak of his destruction, and then the empty plate was shattered against the floor.

"That's just childish," the Doctor chided him. "It's a good story. Now you'll never find out who the kid's real mummy is."

"Don't care."

"You're impossible."

"It's my thing."

The two glared at each other with a passion. It went on for a whole minute until the Master sneezed again. This was going to be a few very long days with a very whiny Master in constant demand of hot cocoa and warm blankets, and absolute monarchy on the TV remote.

He sat on the couch for what seemed like forever, and the Doctor grew bored and went off on some solo trips. It was all good and well up until a very sad situation in Pompeii where he had been forced to choose between the deaths of a few and the deaths of everyone. Choices like that would one day kill him, but no one else could make them.

He got back to find the Master opening a bottle of whiskey. It was a bad combination before they had even started.

"Rough day?" the Master asked while he watched the Doctor down his first drink with interest.

"You have no idea. Then again, you'd probably have enjoyed it." Sick, insane man. The Doctor felt sorry for himself right then, being stuck in the company of a psychotic sociopath.

In fact, they were both feeling pathetically sorry for themselves, and they watched trash on the telly while quickly getting drunk. It wasn't long before the Doctor went on a long rant about Pompeii, about how it was supposed to be a fixed point in time but he had no idea he was the one who flooded the city with lava.

"I didn't know what to do. I shouldn't even have stayed," he complained. "But you know what I'm like."

"Can't keep your big nose out of anything, can you? Always forget to set your watch for volcano-day," the Master said with a reassuring pat on the Doctor's shoulder. The Doctor sniffed. "It's a pretty nose, though," the Master assured.

"I keep ending up in situations like that. I save a lot of people, but I've killed so many. Broken so many."

The Master was growing bored with the pity party. He finished his drink and took the Doctor by his chin, tsking.

"You poor you. No doctors to help the Doctor. Let Master make it better. Come here, you."

He pulled the Doctor into a kiss. It wasn't a suggestion; they were making out whether the Doctor wanted them to or not. Alcohol didn't exactly make the Master any tenderer, and the Doctor was trapped in his arms with no will to try and get away. After a while he was even kissing back, clutching at the Master's hair and letting himself lose.

He should have been disgusted, but for once, someone else was willing to take charge. Right then, it was a good feeling. Even if the Master was getting way too touchy-feely with his hands. He was supposed to be a friend, and it was all getting complicated. Complicated was not good. Complicated was in the process of groping him through his pants and slipping a hand up under his shirt. Complicated was shoving its tongue down his throat and making him moan.

He reminded himself that the Master was his arch enemy, and a very far way from being rehabilitated. Still murderous, still mean, still psychotic, and also a bloody good kisser. It was only when they broke apart for air that the Doctor tried to stop him. It didn't really do any good. He opened his mouth to protest, but they were already clashing together again.

The Master wasn't letting him ruin a good snog. He held the Doctor down and felt him up while more or less raping his mouth to the best of his abilities. Being violent about it sort of made it okay. No way could he forgive himself for handling the Doctor nicely. He was only taking advantage of the situation, nothing more.

He moved down the Doctor's neck, kissing, nipping and biting until he found delicious collarbone. Too late did he realize what a mistake it was to leave the Doctor's mouth free.

"Stop," the Doctor groaned.

"Tease." The Master didn't want to stop. He bit down viciously on the Doctor's neck.

"Ow."

"When you say things I don't like, I bite," the Master warned him. That, and he liked biting. After ripping the Doctor's jacket and shirt open, he helped himself to a serving of his chest. While he licked and sucked on everything he could reach, his hands went down the Doctor's trousers.

There was another unwilling noise of approval from the Doctor before he surprised the Master by pulling his head back up close and kissing him again. If only to avoid any more bites to his nipples. They tore at each other's clothes and tangled themselves together in a fight for dominance, but no one was really winning. They ended up grinding together half-naked, touching and groping feverishly while they tried to get off.

"My name, say it, damn you," the Master panted. He hissed at the ceiling as the Doctor sucked at his neck.

"Master," the Doctor gasped against wet skin.

"Louder!"

There was no one to hear the racket they made inside the TARDIS. Slick with perspiration and heat, neither lasted very long. It felt rather chaste and awkward. The Doctor wasn't used to this and the Master didn't quite know what to do with him. When they stumbled through the control room in hopes of finding their respective beds, he wasn't by far satisfied. What happened next was the Doctor's fault for stopping to say goodnight.

"We should probably never even mention that again," the Doctor muttered. "We have far too much history already."

"You are probably right," the Master agreed. They had fought each other for centuries. Even if a lot of it was vague and didn't feel important at this point, too much had happened between them to simply forget.

It wasn't like he even wanted to fuck the Doctor. He'd been disgusted by the man's morals and do-goodery since the beginning. It was just because he was the only one there. Two people trapped together in a box were bound to do things like this eventually, whether they liked each other or not.

The Doctor was thinking much of the same. There were so many people, so many of his companions, who he'd rather be with. If there was even one redeeming or attractive feature about the Master, it was that he too was a Time Lord. He wouldn't die of old age. In his case, the Doctor wasn't sure it was a positive point. Being stuck with him for eternity would drive him insane.

Still, it was only a matter of seconds before they were locked in another frenzied kiss. The Master backed the Doctor against the dashboard and pulled his trousers down again. The Doctor was pinned down and didn't for a second care about the various instruments pressing against his back. He was far more concerned about the Master's intensions.

"What are you—?"

"Shut up. You'll love me," the Master insisted. He silenced the Doctor with a rough kiss while he forced his legs apart. He pushed his fingers into him and when the Doctor complained, he bit him. It wasn't kind or careful in any way, but the Master made it just enjoyable enough not to be pushed off. It was a fine line, though the Doctor was starting to see why the Master's wife shot him.

The Master turned him around and bent him over the TARDIS control panel. It was hard to find any place where he could support his hands, but it didn't really matter. The Master's hands were on his hips, keeping him in place. He wanted to protest, but the only noise that escaped him was a moan as he was entered. It was surreal, because never in his life had he imagined them getting to this point. It hurt and it wasn't right at all.

*

Come morning and a massive hangover, the Doctor wouldn't have remembered much if it wasn't for the fact that he was slumped by the TARDIS control panel with his trousers around his ankles and one hand cuffed to one of the instruments. He was also incredibly sore. Not just in certain places, but all over. Bite-marks, scratches and bruises covered him, and the Master was nowhere to be seen.

He was never drinking again, and this time it was going to take. Out of all the immense, painful and destructive mistakes he had made throughout his life, this was by far the greatest. He didn't even want to think about it.

By the time the Master came around and had a mind to unlock him, he was not a happy Doctor by far. At least his trousers were back on. The Master was about to say something, but the Doctor cut him short.

"We are never talking about this. This never happened, and we are never drinking together ever again. You, me, alcohol; not even on the same planet. Is that clear?"

The Master frowned at him, and it took a moment before he said anything at all.

"Where do we go next?" was all he asked.

The Doctor was relieved that the Master had gotten the point.

"Take us down somewhere random. I'm having a shower."

The Master rolled his eyes and let the Doctor go. In all honestly, he was fighting the meanest, most vile grin.

Things didn't go all too sour between them after that, surprisingly enough. The Doctor was the master of ignoring what he didn't want in his life, no pun intended. They were soon out there among the stars once more, with the Doctor trying to direct the Master's destructivity into something positive. It was easier said than done.

After the Master had accidentally (or so he claimed) wiped out all forms of life on a distant but tiny moon and thrown the Doctor into another fit, they returned to Earth only to find the place getting invaded by Sontarans.

While the Master was complaining about never wanting to see one of those walking, mutated potatoes ever again, they were far more successful this time around. Mainly because the Master managed to hack the ATMOS software and close down the entire business before they had even gotten started. The Master remained convinced that he had done something evil. The Doctor didn't have the hearts to break it to him that he had assisted in saving the world.

After that they went back in time, and the Master visited Francis Bacon. The Doctor made a point of staying in the TARDIS while the Master went partying and drinking with middle-aged, alcoholised painters. Making up for this not-so-elegant visit, the Doctor decided where they went next. He got to geek out over Agatha Christie and solved a case of giant alien wasps together with her. While this went down, the Master tried to get it on with some of the locals.

Everything was going much better, even after the Master released an alien parasite that distorted time onto Earth, but that was all in a day's work. The Master put them one step back, the Doctor got them another ten steps ahead.

*

"John, when you look out of the window, what do you see?"

John lowered his newspaper enough to shoot Sherlock a suspicious look. "Our street, I suppose?"

Sherlock was standing by the window. Couldn't be murder, then. If someone had been murdered at their doorstep, the man would be jumping with delight.

"I mean it. I need you to look out of the window."

John sighed and pushed himself out of his chair to have a look. What he saw was surprising. It wasn't one of those little things that normal people didn't think twice about, where Sherlock would go on for lengths about how someone was definitely up to no good. No, this was a lot bigger.

"A... A blue police box. Those haven't been around since the sixties."

"Oh, use your eyes, John. It's obviously not a real police box. The windows are wrong and the phone is clearly not connected."

"And how do you know that?" Watson asked to humour him, but Sherlock was already on his way out the door.

"Get all the material you can find on teleportation and meet me downstairs in ten minutes."

The police box was a bright speck of blue in the otherwise white and grey winter London. It had been snowing yesterday and there weren't many tracks by far. It was a good tone of blue, they couldn't deny that.

"Why teleportation?" Watson asked as he jogged after Sherlock.

"I would consider time travel going by the exterior, but anyone can make a replica of a police box. Let's not look at hoof prints and suggest zebra before we have at least taken a closer look."

He started circling the box, looking it up and down. John was wondering whether Sherlock had gone slightly madder, but the blue box was a mystery.

"Prints, John. That's exactly what doesn't exist anywhere near the box. There would have been tracks in the snow. Then how did it get here? Airlifted in with a crane or helicopter? Too much effort with no obvious gain. Highly unlikely, not to mention we would have heard. Or at least I would have, which makes materializing out of thin air the least improbable solution."

"Out of...?"

"Thin air, John. Do try to pay attention."

The doors flew open and two men appeared, not at all paying attention to their surroundings.

"See, I remembered to take the breaks off," the Master said proudly.

"You're not flying again. I like the noise it makes," the Doctor sulked, until he noticed the tall, eccentric man who was standing right in front of them.

"Explain," Sherlock demanded. "How did you do it and how is it possible that..." He took another look just to be completely sure. "That the inside of your box is bigger than the outside?"

The Doctor and the Master exchanged looks.

"We are illusionists," the Doctor said.

"Touring illusionists," the Master agreed.

"The best. Look, we are licensed." The Doctor flipped out the psychic paper.

Sherlock looked at it, then slowly glanced sideways at Watson. "What do you think, John?"

"It looks more probable than teleportation?" John tried. "They have a license."

"Except that the paper is blank."

The Doctor straightened his glasses in preparation for a lot of trouble.

"That's the illusion," the Doctor assured. "And you're obviously too smart for it. Well done. I applaud you. Be on your way."

"Highly unlikely. If it was an illusion, I would already have worked out how you made your box materialize."

The Doctor's face fell into a frown and he pushed the psychic paper into the Master's hand and drew himself up to his full height. "Alright then, mister too-smart-for-slightly-psychic-paper. Maybe you just don't understand everything."

"Everything of importance. On Earth," Sherlock said testily.

"Oh, sure. Quite the Sherlock Holmes you are."

A smile quirked at Sherlock's lips. "Then I am sure you won't mind if I examine your box closer."

He pushed past them and was inside the TARDIS before anyone could stop him. The Doctor and the Master exchanged looks.

"That was the actual Sherlock Holmes, wasn't it?" the Master remarked.

"Wrong time zone. Can't be."

"The parasite we are chasing has a slight control over time," the Master reminded.

"True," the Doctor said, stroking his chin as he considered the possibilities. "Yes, yes it could technically move someone, or even a chunk of history from the 19th century to... Excuse me, when are we and where is this?" he asked John, who had given up on the situation altogether.

"England, London, Baker Street. Earth," John said with a sigh. "Early 21st century," he added in.

"Good man," the Doctor said. He patted John's shoulder and went after Sherlock.

"This is fantastic!" a faint shout sounded from inside the TARDIS. Hard to tell whether it was Sherlock or the Doctor.

It was the Master and John's turn to exchange looks, but it was more awkward than anything.

"John Watson, I suppose?"

"Yes. And you are?"

"The Master."

It all got very complicated from thereon out. First it was the whole "I'm the Doctor. Just Doctor. No, people only call me the Doctor, I don't have any other name to give you and I am not from around here. Doesn't matter where, just nowhere around." This was followed by John lecturing Sherlock on not taking other people's things apart. It wasn't too much of a problem as the sonic screwdriver repaired itself.

"Marvellous," Sherlock remarked. He started to disassemble it again just to be sure he had done it properly the first time around. The Doctor didn't mind, because he was practically giddy to meet Sherlock Holmes, even if he was more of an Agatha Christie fan.

While Sherlock examined the interior of the TARDIS and the Doctor geeked out over him, the Master sulked in a corner and didn't really answer any of John's questions.

"Could I at least have another look at the psychic paper, then?" John asked. He had already tried all the obvious questions, like "Are you from another time?" and "Is this alien technology?" or "Are you from Torchwood?" Now he was trying to save his pride.

"It's not mine," the Master said, so he dangled it in front of John's face and let him take it.

"That's odd," John remarked after taking another look at it. "This says you are the Queen of Belgium."

The Doctor was not far away from them, and he spluttered. The Master just shrugged, as he didn't get the reference.

"Are there a lot of people who aren't fooled by the paper?" John pressed.

"I'm sorry," the Master said, grabbing a chair. "I need to destroy something before I go mad."

He smashed it into the dashboard of the TARDIS and sparks flew before the entire ship powered down.

"Spoilsport," Sherlock muttered.

"You broke my TARDIS! See why I don't let you fly if I can help it?" the Doctor asked, running over to assess the damage.

"It will fix itself. Now can we please remember that we were going somewhere? There was a parasite, and this is the 21st century. There are bars and strip clubs and I'm stuck with the three people I am least likely to have sex with."

He stomped out of the TARDIS, dragging the chair behind him.

"Sorry about him," the Doctor said without taking his eyes off the vanishing figure. "He's a bit... psychotic."

"Sounds like he and Sherlock would get off alright," John said, clearing his throat.

"You know I consider myself married to my work," Sherlock said without an afterthought. He was trying to piece the sonic screwdriver together in the dark, but it had a terrible habit of fixing itself faster than he could put it together.

"Ah, so you're not...? Been reading too much between the lines I suppose," the Doctor said. He was swinging idly back and forth with his hands in his pockets.

"Why does everyone think we're dating?" John muttered between gritted teeth.

"That's obvious, but you're not noticing," the Doctor said, bemused. "Of course, those who need to notice are never the ones to notice, and then they miss out. Pity." He clapped his hands together and strode for the door. "Now, we should find the Master before he sets the city on fire. Love London, would be a shame really."

Sherlock and John looked at each other in the dark of the TARDIS.

"You're going after him," John remarked.

"The time machine has powered down. Since I can't make an attempt at piloting it, yes. Yes, we are going after him."

"Certain it's a time machine?" John asked. Strange things happened, but time travel was a concept he had yet to believe in.

"Half certain," Sherlock told him.

"Half?"

"I am suspecting it might not be limited to travelling in time, but I require more data before I can make any conclusion."

They ran after the Doctor, having gotten used to their own fair share of running since they started working together.

*

Searching for the time-warping parasite was sort of forgotten. So was finding the Master. He would be happy for some time on his own; the Doctor wasn't feeling bad for running around with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, getting himself tangled in their work to a point where Sherlock wasn't sure whether he wanted to throw the Doctor out or dissect him. Dissecting him was a good option, because the more time they spent with him, the more obvious it was that he wasn't from Earth.

It was days later that they happened to run into what the police referred to as a terrorist attack, where several people had been fried to a crisp. Good that the case was quickly closed, because they were in the middle of something else.

"What? I made myself a new laser screwdriver. I had to take it for a test drive," the Master protested as they dragged him away from the scene. The Doctor insisted that they didn't report him. He was under rehabilitation already and had a personal Doctor seeing to his ailments.

"Can I at least keep the screwdriver?"

"That depends on who you are going to kill with it. And don't make me old again," the Doctor warned him.

"The English government is on the top of my blacklist right now."

"Now I remember. I knew I had seen you before," John interrupted. "You are that Harold Saxon bloke. You ran for Prime Minister a while back. And here Sherlock thought you were aliens. Fancy that, Sherlock? Aliens in our government?"

"It's more likely than you think," the Doctor muttered under his breath.

The Master sighed. "I miss being Prime Minister. Those were the days. I had you on a leash."

"But you weren't ever elected," John pointed out, confused.

"Oh, but I was. It was a glorious reign, but the Doctor didn't approve of my turning the majority of Earth into a battle fleet with intentions of taking over the universe. He broke my paradox machine made all of reality reset, like it never happened." He sniffed.

John closed his mouth and tried to lose the look of surprise. "I voted for you!"

"Just what I needed. A bloody fan. What about you, Sherlock?"

"Hm? There was an election?"

"He doesn't watch TV," John explained.

"But I had pretty posters everywhere," the Master complained. "And would anyone mind telling me where we are going?"

He wasn't exactly pleased to hear that they were on their way to the National Antiquities Museum. The Doctor was all excited about it. The Master perked up when he heard that there was a murderer on the loose who left messages in a strange language. A language that was giving even the TARDIS a hard time translating, which probably meant it wasn't a language at all, and rather a code, so the Time Lords kept their mouths shut and stayed on the sideline.

They surprised their soon-to-be-murder victim, Soo Lin Yao at the museum at night. She had used to look after some ancient ceramic teapots that were her sole joy in life, and somehow restoring them was more important than hiding from her assassin. Good for them, at any rate. She knew the code and could translate it.

The Master grew bored. He was twirling his brand new laser screwdriver in his hand when he remembered something.

"Doctor, I didn't show you yet. I improved upon the design. Never had time to make it isomorphic, but I have something far better this time around."

"We're sort of in the middle of something," the Doctor said. The less the Master used that thing, the better in his opinion. He still hadn't decided on whether to let him keep it or not.

"But look! It has a dehumidifying setting now. See." The Master pointed it at one of the teapots, which went grey and crumbled in an instant. "Deadly dehumidifying."

The Doctor felt Sherlock's sharp eyes on him, and John's as well when the girl's eyes watered up and she started shaking with sobs.

"What? What did I do?" the Master asked. "She's getting all leaky."

Sherlock shook his head. "Centuries old," he tsked.

"You can always glue it back together," the Master suggested.

This was when the assassin decided to make his appearance, and chaos ensued. Everyone but the Master was running out of the room in an attempt at catching him, except for John, who was really just worried about Sherlock. The Master occupied himself with juggling his screwdriver and not really paying attention. When he had a mind to look over his shoulder, the girl was lying dead on the table.

*

The Doctor was actually angry with him. The Master couldn't understand how this was anything different from the things he had done in the past, but the two of them were soon put to work. Sherlock and John had collected all the books of two previous murder victims, and the hope was that they would break the code by finding the right book, one they both owned. If there was one thing the boys from Gallifrey could to better than any human, it was reading. Among everything else.

"Definitely alien," John said quietly to Sherlock as they watched the two leaf through every book at far beyond superhuman speed and trying to make sense of the code.

"Shush, John. This is a very important moment for me; I am having my very own first-hand experience of jealousy," Sherlock told him.

John raised his brows at him. "And how does it feel?"

"Disgusting. Let's go out for dinner."

"I knew they were gay for each other," the Master muttered to the Doctor.

"Don't give them ideas," the Doctor warned. "We don't want another situation like with the Aztecs."

"You think they could get that rough?"

"It's not a date!" John exclaimed before the two were out the door. He put his hat on, descending the stairs right after Sherlock. "Why does everyone have to be so presumptuous?"

"Because people are and always will be, John. Have I taught you nothing?"

"Are we sure that they are... You know?"

Sherlock sent him a look of disapproval. "I never thought of you as racist. Aliens are people too."

"They look like us, though. Are they in disguise maybe?" John suggested. He was having a hard time deciding whether he even wanted to believe any of this.

"They might be aliens that look like us. Or maybe we look like them, who knows? I don't. You know how far my interest in space goes."

"Nowhere?"

"Exactly. But from what I deduce, they seem quite comfortable with who they are and the people around them. Either they look like us, or they are used to humans and very good at creating disguises they feel at home in."

John supposed this made sense. Count on Sherlock to be logical about aliens in a blue box. Worst of all, even aliens thought they were dating. Something about what the Doctor had said was at the back of his mind, but he thought no more of it.

"Do you think it's true? What they said about aliens in the British government?"

"It wouldn't surprise me. Nothing ever seems to," Sherlock said. The Doctor had made him think, though. Not that he didn't think at all times, but he was thinking about different things, things that weren't all about work.

*

The case was solved, but they still had the parasite to look for. With the TARDIS still rebuilding, John offered to let them stay without really thinking. Sherlock was the epitome of disapproval, but the Doctor accepted happily without hesitation. He was, by far, the only one who didn't mind how cramped the apartment became. Until he found out he had to share room with the Master. They took John's room while John slept on the couch. Sherlock wouldn't budge on this arrangement.

While Sherlock waited about for interesting cases, the Doctor and the Master chased an alien parasite up and down London. He observed, not one to run about unless there was something in it for him. An alien parasite was none of his concern. No, he was more interested the alien technology.

The Doctor was just on his way out that day when he saw what Sherlock was doing.

"What? No, no! Really?"

He put his glasses on and had a look at what the man was making at the kitchen table. Sherlock didn't spare him a glance, but tested his own sonic screwdriver. It didn't make quite the right noise yet. It needed some fine-tuning.

"Marvellous technology you have. This is a challenge even for me," Sherlock said. And challenges made him smile. "Still, after taking it apart I can recreate most of its functions."

"Oh no," the Doctor warned him. "No, you're not having that. That doesn't belong to your time or your race. That's a Time Lord implement and you shouldn't know anything about that."

"Time Lord you say? A bit pretentious, even for you, Doctor." Sherlock was having far too much fun with this. "I tell you what," he said, putting the screwdriver down. "Let me examine you and maybe I will not make use of your very poorly protected technology."

"Oh, come on. There's nothing all that interesting about us. Only difference you'll notice is that Master and I both have two hearts."

"Now, that is something I'd like a closer look at."

"Screwdriver. Now," the Doctor said, holding his hand out. "Come on, come on. Not waiting around all day, you're a smart kid, you know about time paradoxes."

Frowning, Sherlock handed the screwdriver over.

"And don't even think about making another one," the Doctor said before he was on his way.

Not at all happy with the Doctor, Sherlock joined John in the sitting room and started plunking at his violin. He couldn't be bothered to actually play. When did he ever?

"They are bossy and insane. Just like you," John commented over his book.

"Is that what I am like?" Sherlock asked with a shudder. "Fascinating but despicable?"

"About, yes," John said with a nod. "And here I thought you didn't have any insight into yourself."

"I do, I just don't care what people think," Sherlock muttered. He glanced out the window to see the pair run down the street, looking perfectly mismatched in their odd outfits. "What is with the sneakers?" His violin made a decidedly sharp and unpleasant noise that made John wince.

"Will you play that thing or put it down?"

Sherlock looked at him. Just looked at him in that way of his, and yet it was somehow like he was seeing him for the first time. John felt his skin crawl.

"I... Never mind the violin. I'm used to it by now," John muttered and disappeared behind his book.

*

They had run all over the city with a device that bleeped and had a spinning little dish on it. They knew the parasite was still somewhere in this place and age, but it was a small being that was hard to find. It was vital that they got hold of it before it made another time distortion and vanished again. Currently on coffee break, the two made an attempt at catching their breaths and their body heat at a small café.

"That thing... More obnoxious than the Daleks. At least you can catch those, if you really want to," the Doctor panted.

"But you wouldn't want to. The key is to not be looking for it, and you'll find anything," the Master said in an agreeing voice.

"Couldn't have said it better myself."

They went silent. It had been an awkward few days. Neither wanted to sleep in the same bed and the Master refused to sleep on the floor. The result was that the Doctor had massive pains in his back.

"When we catch that parasite, there is no way of resetting time without making this Sherlock Holmes and John Watson disappear," he murmured.

It was a bit of a downer for them both. Even the Master had grown a bit fond of the quirky couple. He liked how Sherlock played the violin.

"You know, if you just let me cannibalize the TARDIS again, we could make a paradox and they could... Or they couldn't. Your call." The Master had noticed the look that the Doctor gave him and he didn't want to press the matter further. He shouldn't have reminded the Doctor of what he had done altogether. "You do not cannibalize the TARDIS," had the Doctor screamed at him an entire evening when he last came to mention it.

They stared off into space, out the windows, anything to avoid the giant elephant that was slowly entering the room. In the meantime, their coffee arrived and they got something else to occupy themselves with.

"Remember I said I wanted to talk to you? Before you enslaved us all, took over the Earth and got shot?"

"I remember," the Master said testily. "And no, I am not talking to you. I know what you are going to say, and you are just being a sappy, weak-hearted twat."

"I know you're not bad all the way down."

"Shut up!" the Master yelled and he clamped his hands over his ears. They got quite a few stares.

"Fine, fine, I won't say it," the Doctor promised him. "Not yet, anyway. There will come a day when you'll want to be forgiven."

The Master hissed at the Doctor like an angry cat. The Doctor knew he was fully capable of biting and clawing, so he left it at that. He sent him lecturing glances over the rim of his glasses, though.

*

Back in Baker Street, the atmosphere was tense. John was on one side of the room, being polite and trying to read, while Sherlock was being moody and noisy with his violin. He stared off out the window, watching the blue box get covered in a fine layer of fresh snow.

"They aren't all that bright, are they?" Sherlock muttered to himself. "Way above average in intelligence, but lacks the ability to follow their own advice."

"What are you talking about?" John asked while keeping his eyes fixed on the sentence he had now reread about fifteen times.

"Oh, the whole missing out and that," Sherlock sighed. He stretched out, letting the violin slip down the side of the chair to rest on the floor.

John had no response to that. He watched Sherlock under the pretence of awaiting more monologue.

"The Doctor," Sherlock emphasised, waving the violin's bow about. "He has made me think a lot about our situation these last few days. I am honestly a little worried."

"Our situation?" John asked, hoping that Sherlock would eventually explain what he was going on about.

"I doubt you even noticed it yourself, but you are also thinking differently about me than you used to," Sherlock said. There was a wry smile on his lips for only a second.

"You can deduce a lot of things, Sherlock, but you are not a mind reader," John reminded him.

"Short quick glances that you are not even thinking twice about. You are worried that I will catch you. You get flustered and sweaty when I am in the room, even fidgety. Your mild discomfort when I am in the room, together with the countless other symptoms I am picking up, suggests you are subconsciously struggling against arousal."

"Sherlock!"

"I am simply telling you what I am observing," Sherlock said sharply, turning to face John. The man was flustered, right on cue. "And I am considering a course of action before this becomes a problem."

Sherlock could invade John's personal space without even getting near him. It was unpleasant. He felt naked and exposed, and that wasn't helping the situation. He took a deep breath, struggling to keep composed.

"What do you consider is the best 'course of action', then?" he asked. He hadn't realized his interest, and now it was painfully obvious. He was angry with Sherlock, but had nothing to call him out on.

"You know I consider myself married to my work," Sherlock reminded him.

John didn't say anything. He had to endure so much humiliation from this man, every day.

"But," Sherlock continued, and now he looked away. He, too, appeared to be ever-so-slightly embarrassed. "An affair would not hurt. A small one. Just to be certain that we are completely incompatible before we put the entire affair on ice. I have calculated its probability of destroying our friendship and it's a relatively low chance. Considering we already act as if we are married, it should make no difference whatsoever. So, what do you think?"

Sherlock at least had the decency to look at John while he awaited reply. John cleared his throat and got up from his chair.

"You, Sherlock Holmes, are the most cold, most calculating man I have ever met."

He didn't say another word and was out of the room before Sherlock could respond. The young man sat there alone with no idea of what he had done wrong, thinking it hadn't been too bad for a first try. Apparently he needed to revise his approach in such situations should one ever arise again. Considering the strange, unpleasant feeling that had just risen inside of him, he didn't think it ever would.

*

They had been out all evening trying to catch the blasted parasite. It was sitting dead on Sherlock and John's kitchen table, looking much like a four-legged spider the size of a hand. Its body glowed a venomous green.

"If we feed its rift energy into the TARDIS, we will reverse all the damage it did," the Doctor explained. The sonic screwdriver soaked up the rift energy like a sponge. "Your chunk of history will be back in its place."

"Were we ever out of it?" John asked. "These are our lives," he insisted. "You can't just... put us somewhere else."

"You won't even notice," he Doctor assured them, but he was feeling a pang of guilt. "You're supposed to be somewhere between the 19th and 20th century."

Sherlock shuddered. "The eighteen hundreds. Absolutely no technology. How could I live there? I wouldn't have my phone."

"You're a very different person, back there. Well, not too different. Still eccentric, still brilliant. Too smart for the people around you, experimenting and—"

"Can I keep these?" the Master interrupted. He had found the jar of human eyes in the microwave. "I mean, if you are going to never have existed in this time period, anyway."

"Take them, go ahead," John was quick to say. "There's a head in the fridge too, if you like."

The Master didn't need any more incentive and went to help himself.

"And eh, Doctor John Watson," the Doctor continued. "Still a military doctor. You two make a brilliant pair, you get famous, you get novels. Not that you won't do that now, but even today no one will have forgotten you. Well, people might have forgotten Lestrade," he added with a shrug.

"Good riddance," Sherlock muttered.

"We don't have a choice in the matter, do we?" John asked.

The Doctor inclined his head, considering. "Well, I could release the rift energy into the open air. Would probably end up in Cardiff or something. Lots of rift activity over there. You'd live on like usual, no harm done to your life. This would become reality. Or it could create a series of paradoxes that tears apart the fabric of the universe."

He hadn't even finished before Sherlock had snatched his screwdriver.

"Oh, no you don't! No one uses that but me," the Doctor protested.

"You should have made it isomorphic," the Master called from the kitchen.

"I am sorry Doctor, as much as I enjoy history, I like my phone more," Sherlock said. He released the rift energy, and they watched the threads of gold spread out and vanish.

"Good choice," the Master said as he popped back in. "In this century, you don't get hanged for having gay sex. Also, I am still taking the eyes, but the head stays. It has green fuzz on it."

The Doctor firmly took his screwdriver back and sent Sherlock a dirty look. It didn't last very long.

"I suppose you will be leaving now," Sherlock said.

"The TARDIS has powered back up, our parasite has been caught. Time to leave," the Doctor said.

John and Sherlock decided on following the Doctor and the Master out to the TARDIS to say their farewells. Hands were shaken, and even the Master participated, jar under one arm.

"Not a bad stay at all. Less boring than it tends to be. You're a funny man, Sherlock Holmes. And your sidekick, too."

"I am not his sidekick," John muttered under his breath.

"Will we be seeing you again?" Sherlock asked with no comment against the sidekick remark.

"Oh yes, invite the aliens back for Christmas or something," John huffed.

"Alright, then. Wouldn't mind a Christmas party," the Doctor replied with a bright grin. "We'll be back next year. Lovely place, London. Wouldn't mind having a quiet Christmas in here for once, one without giant space ships or swarms of Racnoss. Titanic, was that on Christmas, too? Almost crashing into Buckingham palace?"

"Christmas, yes. They were playing those foul songs all the time," the Master reminded him.

"Yes, just so long as it's no big family gatherings. Can't do domestic things. And speaking of Racnoss," the Doctor muttered and he trailed off as he heard a familiar voice calling out to him.

"Doctor! Doctor, it's you, I finally found you!"

"Donna?"

The woman ran up to him, elbowing her way past Sherlock and knocking him over.

"Doctor!"

She was squeezing the life out of him.

"Ouf. Donna, that was Sherlock Holmes."

"Sherlock Who?"

Sherlock was picking himself up, getting a hand from John. He dusted snow from his coat and frowned with displease. "John and I will be going now. Good luck with whatever it is you're doing."

He turned around, grabbing John by his upper arm and marching him back up to the house.

"Did you just invite them over for Christmas?"

"I think I did, yes. We are having aliens over for Christmas."

"They get your room," Sherlock informed.

*

The Doctor had hoped to avoid getting any familiar faces exposed to the Master, but Donna had been looking for him for years. It would be too cruel to at least not let her into the TARDIS.

"Donna Noble, the Master, etc. Please don't get too well acquainted," the Doctor requested.

"The Master?" Donna repeated as if it was the most stupid title she had ever heard. "Your new boyfriend, is he?"

"We are not dating," the Doctor said from between gritted teeth. He was glad that the Master had enough of a mind to put the jar of human eyes down before coming to greet her. He did so with one of the grumpiest expressions he'd ever been seen with.

"Who's she, then? Another one of your harlots?" he asked.

"Excuse me? Hey, aren't you that Saxon bloke?" she asked, taking a closer look at him. "I knew you were a bad egg from the moment I saw you. Well I didn't vote for you, for sure."

This had been a recipe for disaster all along.

"I didn't need your vote, and I don't want it either," the Master growled in return.

"Hah. You know, that's odd, because last time I checked, you're not the Prime Minister," Donna retorted.

The Master's frown deepened.

"I was in an alternate timeline, so shut your trap and—"

"Hold on, hold on both of you," the Doctor said, getting between them and putting his hands up. "Donna, you have no idea how happy I am to see you. I've been stuck with him for the past year."

"Hey!"

"You shouldn't be calling women names," the Doctor chided him.

"She stood up to me. I don't like women who stand up to me. They shoot me."

"Good riddance," Donna huffed at him.

"Can we just all be friends, this once?"

Donna straightened herself up and tried to act a little more composed. The Master folded his arms over his chest and went huffy, but didn't say more.

"Now," the Doctor said. "Tell me why you've been looking for me, Donna."

*

He didn't like it. He didn't like it one bit. That this woman from the Doctor's past should show up and ruin everything. The Master wasn't even sure what she was ruining. He had somehow liked it when it was just the two of them, though. At least the Doctor had completely forgotten about his laser screwdriver, which he was using to dehumidify some flies that were buzzing around. He snickered to himself.

There was a knock at his door and the Doctor entered, only to frown at the Master, because he was lying naked in bed and hugging the jar of human eyes to him.

"I just wanted you to know that Donna will be going with us. Just for a little while. Can't expose her to too much of you, after all."

"Don't care. Do whatever you like. I'm a prisoner. You've long since forgotten the promise you made me before I regenerated."

The Doctor had mixed feelings of guilt and frustration. "There is only so much I can do, alright? And maybe I need a change of company. You get on my nerves some times."

"And you get on mine all the time. Now get out!" the Master said. He was seconds from throwing the jar at him, but threw a pillow instead. It hit the door as it closed behind the Doctor.

The Master turned over and sulked. He wondered how that storybook had ended, but the Doctor wasn't going to be telling him now. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. The rhythm continued.

*

"I told you, there's nothing going on between me and the Master."

They were walking through an endless library, bickering back and forth. The last few trips had been nothing but bickering and shouting, but mostly between the Master and Donna. They didn't go well together.

"You're the last two Martians, travelling time and space together," Donna pointed out.

"For the last time," the Doctor groaned. "I just want a mate. Why does no one get that I just want a mate?"

"You just want to mate? Is that what you brought me here for, you sick pervert?" Donna raged. "There won't be no mating, for either of you. You're skinny and... and alien. Skinny gay Martian boys."

"Martian?"

"She always calls me Martian," the Master said sourly. "Make her stop."

"Alright, you two, shut up or we are going right back to the TARDIS," the Doctor warned them.

They went quiet, but they weren't happy about it. The Doctor walked ahead.

"So." Donna leaned over all conspiratory-like. "That Doctor. Does give he give or take?"

"You're not answering that," the Doctor told the Master while he scanned the area with the sonic screwdriver.

"He takes. Oh yes," the Master mouthed silently to Donna. She did her best to not laugh.

They continued through the library, encountering some interesting tourist information drones. Donna was disgusted, the Master wished he'd taken them into use when he was Prime Minister.

"It chose a face it thought I would like." Donna had trouble getting past that fact. "A dead face."

"Genius. They even make use of dead people in this place. Wonder how the mutilated ones show up."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you? Freak."

"Hush. Master, listen to the message," the Doctor interrupted them.

The information drone was reading up something, a warning from someone who had been there before the entire library somehow went empty. It was telling them to count the shadows.

The Time Lords exchanged looks.

"That sounds like something you would do if you encountered..."

"Yes," the Doctor confirmed.

"Alright. Back to the TARDIS," the Master decided. If there was one thing he wasn't, it was stupid.

"Come on, Donna, hurry," the Doctor said, making to march them right back there.

"What, what?" Donna asked. "What's going on?"

"If we are right, then we are in greater danger than we've been in for quite some time. We're not taking the chance."

As he said it, the lights began flickering out. It was time to run. The Doctor turned to the Master, but he was already on his way down the hall. Grabbing Donna, the Doctor shoved her ahead and the three ran as fast as they could, chased by the dwindling of light.

They shut themselves inside a smaller room and barred the door. This was about the time when the others arrived. From a door on the other side of the room, several figures in astronaut gear approached. The first of them took her helmet off, smiling at them.

"Doctor. Always comes when I call."

The Master sent the Doctor a sideways glance. The Doctor, too, was confused.

The Master did not end up liking River Song. She was something from the Doctor's future and she wouldn't say how she was involved with him. It didn't help that when she first noticed him, her reaction was less than polite. Her face fell into a displeased frown in an instant, as if she was used to looking like that whenever he was around.

"Oh. It's you."

"Tell me I at least did something spectacular to offend you," the Master said. "From a neutral standpoint."

"Spoilers," was all she told him.

They were scanning the doorways and all the shadows of the room in hope of discovering what was chasing after them.

"So, you said you knew what was chasing after us," Donna reminded the Doctor.

"Vashta Nerada," the Doctor explained. "It's microscopic creatures that disguise themselves as shadows in order to hunt."

"They latch onto their prey and strip their bones clean," the Master said cheerfully. "Every planet has them, but they're supposed to be in forests. What are they doing in here? And so many of them."

"Hold on. Every planet? Even Earth?" Donna asked.

"I need a packed lunch," the Doctor said.

"There's River," the Master suggested.

Before anything else could be said, a scream was heard. They rushed through a doorway to find the very clean remains of Miss Evangelista, one of the explorers. It was an unpleasant experience, particularly for Donna, hearing her Data Ghost's final thoughts about ice-cream. Mourning was cut short when the pilot of the explorer team spoke up.

"Uhm, guys. I don't mean to be rude, but I think I have two shadows."

The Doctor got up. "Alright, everyone, stand still and don't let your shadows touch his. Anyone can get infected," he warned.

"I love it when you take charge," the Master told him with a smirk.

"Shut up," the Doctor told him. "Stand very still, Dave, and let me just..." He reached out with the screwdriver, closing the vizier of the pilot's helmet. "That should hold them off, for a little while."

He turned to the Master and Donna.

"You two. I am teleporting you back to the TARDIS. Neither of you have suits and you aren't safe here."

"What?"

"But Doctor," Donna protested. "You don't have a suit either."

"You are not teleporting me out of danger. I'm just as good at handling these situations," the Master reminded him. "In fact I'm way better than y—"

Using the screwdriver, the Doctor teleported them without hearing out their complaints.

*

Everything was sort of fuzzy and pretty. It definitely wasn't the TARDIS. He arrived in an ambulance but couldn't remember being sick, and then there was this man standing in his living room.

"Who the Hell are you?" the Master asked.

"Had a little slip there, did you? It's to be expected. You have been ill for quite some time. I am Doctor Moon," the man said.

"Doctor?" The Master narrowed his eyes. "You're... black. And fat."

"Doctor Moon," Doctor Moon repeated. "Haven't we talked about these dreams of yours? It seems real, but it's not. Don't confuse dream and reality."

"Oh..." The Master's eyes were blank as he struggled to get a grip on what was going on. "I forgot."

"And then you remembered," Doctor Moon said with a smile.

The Master found himself to be confused and a little misplaced. Something was very wrong, but he was forgetting what it was.

"What's happening, Doctor Moon?" he asked, looking at the man with concern.

"Don't you remember?" Doctor Moon asked. "You and I are going to the park."

They were in the park. Feeding ducks. That was strange. The Master had no idea why he would ever feel inclined to feed ducks.

"Birds are weird," he muttered.

There was a woman on the bench next to them. A pretty one. In his mind she looked just stupid enough to be manipulated, but not so much that it made her boring.

The two of them went out. Then they got married and had kids, and it was all very strange and not at all like him. And every now and then he would see this woman, Donna, together with her husband and kids and he had a feeling there was something really familiar with her. Doctor Moon told him not to worry about it, though, and so he didn't.

It was all so normal. Somehow, he was fine by that. Normal was good. Good old boring normal. The longer it went on, the less he remembered of what he had been doing and who he had been before... Before everything. It was a new life, a new chance.

Then suddenly it ended. He was back in the library and memories flooded back to him. Surrounded by everyone else who had been stuck in the matrix, they were all loaded back out of the doctor moon.

There was Donna, and there was the Doctor running towards them with more relief than he should be allowed to feel.

"You sent us away!" the Master yelled at him, pushing people aside so he could properly bring down his wrath on the wiry little wanker who was the cause of this. "Have you any idea what I just had to suffer through?" he asked, mouth frothing.

The Doctor looked at Donna in confusion, trying to hold the infuriated Master at arm's length.

"Don't look at me, I don't see what he's complaining about," Donna said defensively. "Whenever I saw him in there, he looked all happy with a wife and kids."

The Doctor had to stop and really look at the Master while he tried to imagine that.

"You? Kids?"

"I don't want to talk about it," the Master said from between gritted teeth.

"That shouldn't be allowed. In fact, I'm deciding that now. You are never allowed to reproduce for the better of all sentient creatures."

"On whose authority?" the Master spat.

"Mine." The Doctor smiled at him. "So, did you kiss them goodnight? Read them bedtime stories? Was she lovely that wife of yours? Long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners?"

The Master's ears and cheeks were bright red. Also, his hands were fists and his jaw was clenched so hard that not even a sonic screwdriver would have gotten it open.

"Oh, you are flustered. You liked it, didn't you? Just won't admit it to yourself," the Doctor kept on teasing. He was getting such a kick out of the Master's expression. "Blissfully domestic and normal life, except this time around your marriage wasn't just a farce."

"It was the most horrible thing and they made me like it," the Master whined.

"It's probably good for you," the Doctor laughed.

"Can we just go? I take it you dealt with the Vashta Nerada," the Master requested. He couldn't even look at the Doctor. "Where did Donna go?"

They turned around, only to see Donna with one of the blokes who had been transported down along with them. They appeared a little awkward, and at the same time very excited.

"Who's that?" the Doctor asked, craning his neck to see better.

"I don't know. I think they were married in the virtual reality or something," the Master said with a huff.

There was a woman there, and she caught the Master's eye. She was hesitant, but she gave him a little wave. The Master was frozen for a second. Then he grabbed a book from a nearby counter and chucked it at her.

"What was that for?" the Doctor asked. "Was that the woman you—?"

"Shut up, shut up."

The Master stalked back towards the TARDIS.

It was curious how things turned out. Donna had found the perfect man. He was gorgeous, hardly capable of speaking and completely enraptured by her. Sometimes the universe got it right.

*

With Donna settling in with Lee, it was once again just the Doctor and the Master. Perhaps that was for the better, the Doctor thought. There was something to what the Master had said; he kept corrupting people, but the Master was already as screwed up as he was going to be. So there they were. The Doctor and the Master in the TARDIS.

"Ow. Ow, that hurt," the Doctor complained. He examined the cut on his hand. "Ow."

"Looking at it doesn't make it hurt less," the Master reminded him dryly. "Man up."

They were stuck in a dark, damp dump. People and Hath were fighting and they had encountered some humans who weren't nice at all.

There was a chamber opening up, and the gas inside it dispersed. A girl stepped out, and she looked at the Doctor and smiled.

"Hello, father."

There was a moment of silent shock. It had to be the first time the Doctor and the Master had their mouths shut simultaneously. It was the Master who spoke first.

"Ooh, a cloning machine."

The Doctor grabbed him by his shoulder.

"No, just no. You are staying away from that." Then he looked to the girl with annoyance. "And I'm not your father. You're just a generated anomaly."

"That's unusually cold for you, Doctor," the Master noted with slight pride. He was eyeing the girl up and down. Probably legal, he noted. The human soldiers had also been quick to hand her a gun, which was probably why the Master was taking a liking to her and the Doctor wasn't. She knew how to handle it.

The Doctor wasn't at all approving of the warfare going on. He was asking around, trying to make sense of it all, this "Source" that they were all searching for and fighting over. He tinkered with their equipment until he found the Source's location.

"We need to get there before they do," the Doctor said. "They want to use it as a weapon against the Hath."

"Good boys," the Master applauded. "Jenny is coming with us."

"Jenny?" the Doctor asked. He turned around to see the Master dragging his supposed "daughter" with him. She didn't seem to mind all too much.

"I can help," she insisted, holding up her weapon.

"You just put that away, miss," the Doctor told her very carefully. "Also, Jenny?" he asked.

"She needs a name so I can shout at her. You called her a generated anomaly. Jenny for short," the Master explained.

"And you call me cold. Alright, let's be on our way then, shall we?"

The three of them snuck off before the other soldiers got wind of what they were doing. They would soon be at their tails, and the Doctor was searching for a shortcut they could take.

"So, you're a clone." The Master was making small talk while the Doctor tried to open a particularly tricky door.

"So I am," Jenny said brightly.

"And that's working out for you, is it? What's it like? Are you very loyal? Would you kill with one command, and would you die to protect your creator?"

The Doctor turned away from his work to scold the Master with one sharp look. The Master threw his hands in the air.

"I'm not chatting up your daughter, I swear. Wouldn't dream of it. Even if she's hot it would just be wrong."

Jenny snickered. "Are you my mother?"

"What? No!"

Both men had heavy protests to that. Jenny just smiled.

"We're programmed to know how to fight. This war has been going on for generations and it's all we know."

"You don't have to kill," the Doctor gritted out. He got the door open and the three were on the run again.

"But what choice is there?" Jenny asked.

"Listen to the girl. She has a point. Your bloody pacifistic attitude is annoying, and look where it got me," the Master scoffed.

"There is always a choice. Always."

The Doctor's voice was harsh, and no one argued with him. Not at first.

"She's still your daughter, though," the Master muttered. "Your genocidal daughter. Fancy that."

"She's a generated anomaly."

"She's more comfortable with just 'Jenny'."

"I really am," she agreed.

The soldiers were right behind them. A small platoon armed to their teeth and ready to die, and the three of them were running as fast as they could until they could run no more. They ducked behind some debris.

"I'll handle it," Jenny said.

"Jenny, no! You have a choice," the Doctor repeated.

She was already up and aiming at the soldiers. "Run, both of you. I'll catch up."

"I'm getting so bored with the running," the Master sighed, but the two went off either way.

Jenny had all the soldiers pointing their weapons at her, she was taking aim.

She shot a tube in the ceiling. Hot damp shot out and prevented anyone from advancing. Grinning, she leapt over the debris and caught up with the two men.

"I didn't shoot anyone! I could have, but I didn't. You were right, father."

"I'm not your father," the Doctor was quick to point out. "But... well done."

Again, the Master sighed. She'd been so promising. Now was when the Doctor was starting to warm up to her, actually tried talking to her. He found that her mind was open to ideas, that she was more than just a programmed drone made to be slaughtered on a battlefield.

"How come you like her so much?" the Doctor asked quietly when the girl was walking ahead of them and out of earshot.

"The rhythm, Doctor. Didn't you hear?" the Master asked. "She has two hearts beating in that lovely chest of hers."

It was something for the Doctor to think about, for sure. He didn't want to admit it at first. She couldn't be Time Lord. She wasn't properly Time Lord, in any case. She was something completely of her own, and while it felt wrong to begin with, it wasn't at all such a bad thing. The Doctor accepted her with ease.

The Master actually decided not to butt in this time. He let the Doctor give her all the usual promises. See the stars, see distant planets. First of all see the sky. Suddenly the Doctor wanted all the best things in the world for her, and somehow it wasn't all that terrible for the Master to watch.

They reached the temple where the Source was being kept. It was a complete jungle. The plant life was astonishing for such a place underground. In the middle of it all was a big, glowing orb.

"That must be the Source," the Doctor said. He stepped closer to examine it.

"It's pretty," Jenny remarked. "Not what I expected. How is that a weapon?"

"Ah, it's so much more than that, not a weapon at all," the Doctor said with a wide grin. He was about to explain when soldiers started filing in, humans from one side of the room and Hath from another.

"Stand back!" the human general ordered. "We won't hesitate to shoot if you stand in our way."

It was actually the Master who stepped forth, before the Doctor could do anything.

"This is your Source, then? The solution to all your problems and what you have been looking for all this time?" the Master asked, just to be sure. "A beacon of hope but, according to the Doctor, no use as a weapon."

Hearing it wasn't a weapon didn't sit well with any of them, but this was obviously what they had been looking for.

"Master, what are you doing?" the Doctor asked warily.

"Oh, don't concern yourself with me, Doctor. I'm just a little cranky that we went all this way for something so utterly harmless," the Master explained.

He grabbed Jenny's gun, whipped around and shot the Source into pieces. It shattered, scattering glowing light everywhere.

"Well, that was a disappointment," he complained. "Not even a boom."

One of the soldiers screamed. Maybe several of them did, because everyone in the room shared an intense hatred for the Master right then. Someone fired a weapon. For a split second, the Master thought he was going to die. So did the Doctor.

When things quieted down, it was Jenny who lay dying on the floor with a bullet hole. Even the Master felt a pang of guilt at the sight.

"Jenny, you idiot!" he yelled at her. "You weren't supposed to sacrifice yourself for me." He didn't know why he was saying that. He didn't want to get shot. It was just very hard to watch the Doctor kneel over her and get all leaky-eyed.

Jenny seemingly passed away, and the Doctor stood back up. First thing he did was punch the Master in the face, then he turned on his heel to address everyone else.

"You lot have been fighting over nothing!" he said, shaking with rage. "That was a terraforming device. Breaking it set lose all its chemicals. They are going to make this world inhabitable. There is going to be life, there is going to be grass and trees and air. That's what you have all been fighting over. Your war is pointless."

There was dead silence. The Master had his hands over his nose, praying it wasn't broken. The Doctor panted, looking around the room from humans to Hath.

"All of you. You will colonize this planet together. In harmony. Remember those who had to die for no reason and let these words be the foundation of your society; there will be no more killing."

*

They were quiet when they got back to the TARDIS. The Doctor was angry, the Master knew. His bleeding nose was a proof of that. The Doctor hadn't said anything, and the Master wasn't going to encourage him. He knew that he was due for an earful. Of course, he had suspected it was a terraforming device, but he had meant to cause destruction. Hopefully make the device useless. That had been a bad idea, in retrospect. All his ideas were. It was a long while since he stopped looking at his ideas in retrospect.

He sat by a table with a cup of tea, dabbing away the last drops of blood with a paper handkerchief. It had finally stopped. The Doctor was across the table with a cup of his own, staring out into the room with one of those looks on his face. The look that said he'd lost something important. He'd only known Jenny for a day, but he'd really gotten his hopes up.

It got tenser by the minute. It was a slow sort of tension that crept up on them, all sneaky like. Uncomfortable and awkward, filled with disappointment and regret. It was unbearable, but it was the Doctor who broke the silence.

"Why did you keep calling her my daughter?" he asked, now looking at the Master.

The Master consciously had a sip of his tea, staring into the cup.

"I liked her and I wanted to tease you."

"You're lying."

It got to the point where the Master had to put the cup down, even if he seriously considered not to. He had a talent for pulling off awkward poses. When he looked the Doctor in the eyes, he had to say something.

"I didn't want her to die, you know. And she died because of me. That's a first; not wanting someone to die, I mean. It wasn't fun to see her go," he admitted. "All the other times people died around us, it was mostly because I had a great time watching them go."

He'd killed a million people on earth, wiped all forms of life from a moon and done serious injury to quite a lot of other places. It was accurate to say that they had left a trail of bodies behind them.

They had come a long way, though. At least in the Doctor's opinion. If the Master could care for even one life, then perhaps he would be more careful about killing again.

"You didn't answer my question," he pointed out. "I won't stop bothering you until you do."

The Master inhaled deeply, then let out a long sigh, making a point of it. "I thought... Maybe I just... You know, I feel sorry for you. I hate you, but I really do feel sorry for you. My arch enemy and all that aside, I want you to have something. Someone. In your life. Something that won't get complicated, like family."

It was the most embarrassing thing he had ever said. He was going red, and the Doctor wasn't even saying anything. He just looked at him. Then he got up and approached the Master whose stomach was churning with displeasure.

"What?" he asked, looking up at the Doctor from where he was sitting, tea in one hand and red around the nose with blood. "You pack one surprisingly good punch and I really don't want another one if I can—"

The Doctor leaned down and kissed him. The Master went limp. For a moment the world was spinning, and not because he probably had a concussion. He couldn't remember having been kissed like that before, with so much emotion. It was quiet and sweet and it was over far too quickly.

The Doctor looked him in the eye, tried to say something, but instead just straightened up and left him there. The Master was breathless and couldn't get one word out. His eyes were glued to the Doctor's back until he was out of sight. Then he just stared at the spot where the Doctor had disappeared around a corner.

It took him a while to get back in control. He brushed his fingers over his lips in thought. It hadn't been bruising or harsh in any way, and still he felt the ghost of the kiss still lingering. He turned back to his mug with a small huff.

"He wants me, alright," the Master said to himself. Then he took a smug sip of his tea.

*

"Are you sure you wouldn't rather join me in the pool?" the Master asked. The water was clean and transparent like liquid crystals and the sun was hot and blinding through the glass roof of the resort. It was all so white and pretty and relaxing. The Master was resting his head in his arms, leaning on the edge of the pool and letting the rest of his body drift in the water. It was just the right temperature to cool him off from the sun without actually being cold. This was bliss.

"Actually, I was hoping I'd be able to talk you into joining me for a shuttle bus trip. Guided. Sapphire waterfalls made out of actual liquid sapphires. How does that sound?" the Doctor asked. He was crouching down at the edge of the pool, trying to tempt the man. If anything, the Master seemed tempted to grab his tie and pull him into the water.

"Sounds romantic. No thank you," the Master said. He had his eyes closed and was only a belly rub away from purring. "I'm fine right here. You go, though. I don't need you staring at me while I'm almost naked." He wouldn't have minded, really, but those comments always got him rid of the Doctor.

True enough, the Doctor told him to have a good time and was on his way. This would be a good day, the Master thought. He could bask in the sun, lie back and relax for once. No running, no panicking, no Doctor shouting orders at him and being obnoxious. He could get used to that. In fact, he would just lie there all day and dream of all the ways he would have tried to take over the universe by now if he wasn't stuck with that old stick-in-the-mud.

It was, of course, too good to be true. Hours passed by, not a second wasted on the Master's part, and then the distress call arrived. There was a problem with the shuttle bus, the one the Doctor was on. The Master was informed. Whomever informed him should have been given a good slapping about, because that was the worst thing they could ever have done.

Clothes back on, it was time to run about and panic. But first he had to find out what was actually going on. He shouted at people until he was taken to a control room.

"We have hacked into the cameras on board and have visuals and audio, but no way of sending them any messages or indicating that we are watching. The pilot cabin appears to have been torn away," one of the men at the control panel informed him. "We can do nothing from here. They just have to wait until the rescue shuttle arrives."

"Well, then. They obviously won't be needing you."

The Master shut the door, locked it and then turned his screwdriver to the man in the seat. Once he was knocked out (possibly dead), his seat was quickly reoccupied by one concerned Time Lord. There was a number of screens showing the shuttle bus' interior from different angles. He could see them, the Doctor and the other passengers. They all were keeping away from one woman crouching on the floor. She was repeating everything they were saying. Oh no, this was not good.

The Master altered between watching the feed from the chair, swivelling on the chair and pacing back and forth. There was nothing he could do. Even if he wanted to go in and save the Doctor (which he really didn't), there was no way for him to do so. He could highjack a rescue shuttle and go out there on his own. That was a thought. Not that it would help. It took hours to get out there and a rescue shuttle had already been sent. By the time it would arrive, they would all be dead or saved by the Doctor.

Which left him, the Master, the controller, with no control of the situation at all. The Doctor always landed himself in trouble when he wasn't around. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. And that was just the beginning of it. The blasted woman stole the Doctor's voice, and he could see and hear it all on screen. The Doctor was reduced to repeating everything she said, and then all the passengers were turning on the Doctor.

"No. No, no!" the Master hissed, kicking at the machinery. "Put him down!"

There was no way the Doctor would survive being thrown out of the shuttle, and there he was, forced to encourage his own destruction while the other passengers carried him towards the airlock. The Doctor couldn't even move, and he was really going to die now, wasn't he?

"No!" the Master yelled, slamming his fists into the dashboard. The screens went blank and he screamed louder yet. This wasn't happening.

The door was broken down. People didn't like it when he occupied their control rooms, but he didn't care. He was trying to use his screwdriver to fix the control panel, but it wasn't really made to fix things. That was the Doctor's thing.

And then he didn't remember much else. Someone had actually been smart enough to sedate him before he made any further damage.

When the Master came to, he was very disoriented and worried. He'd been put on a couch somewhere quiet, and apparently not charged for murder. He hadn't even killed the bastard in the control room. That was just sad on his part.

The Doctor. Oh, by heaven and every galaxy he would one day conquer. The Doctor. His Doctor.

People were flocking to the rescue shuttle by the time he got there. He picked up snippets of conversation and heard that several people had been killed. They could all die for all he cared and he elbowed himself through the crowd. So long as...

The Doctor was alive. The Doctor had made it. The Doctor spotted the Master there in the crowd and made his way over before someone put a blanket around his shoulders and started making a fuss over him.

"Let's get away before this escalates?" the Doctor suggested.

The Master just nodded. He was pale as a sheet. His insides felt as if they had turned to liquid, and he just didn't believe how worried he was. He felt dazed. Stunned. Completely out of his element and he didn't even notice that they somehow ended up back in their room at the resort.

The Doctor was down, but the Master was simply a wreck. Once they were alone, he was able to speak again.

"I watched you. I saw it. Most of it. I thought you were going to die."

His voice was shaking. The Doctor realized that there was a time and place for everything. Those who lost their lives that day would have to be mourned later. The living would have to be in priority. He took the Master into his arms and just held him close. He was surprised to feel the man sob and latch onto him. It was dry and soundless, but it was definitely a sob.

"You were really that worried about me?"

"I'm in pieces, you wanker," the Master hissed. Being so worried and then so relieved made him angry. There were too many emotions inside of him and he turned it all into anger.

The Doctor sat down on one of the beds and held the Master to him, much because he was expecting to get hit if he let the man's arms free.

"I'm alright," the Doctor assured. "Been in worse situations and gotten out of it unscathed. Worst case I'll regenerate if something really bad happens."

"You couldn't have regenerated from that," the Master gritted out. His eyes were pressed shut, his fingers curled up at the back of the Doctor's coat. The Doctor let him sit there and tremble against him for a while, then he cupped his face and made the Master look up.

"Hey. This isn't like you at all, is it? Think of what the world would say if they saw the Master in the arms of his arch nemesis. Wouldn't want that getting out, would we?"

"That's a very poor way to cheer someone up," the Master scoffed. "Remind me of how soft you've made me."

The Doctor pressed a kiss to his forehead. The Master sniffed audibly.

"I hate you," the Master went on. "I've hated you all this time. For centuries. Always getting in my way and destroying my plans. But now I hate you more than ever; you made me care about you."

"Ironic, isn't it?" the Doctor remarked. His lips twitched with amusement. He held the Master close again, stroking his hair.

"Now you've done it. Now I really am one of your harlots," he spat. "Hopelessly obsessed with you and doomed to get abandoned somewhere. And I don't even have a home to go to."

"You're not, and you aren't going to get abandoned," the Doctor assured. "You won't grow old," he whispered. "We're the same, you and I. We could travel together forever."

"That'll be the death of me, Doctor."

The two looked at each other, just trying to understand what the other was saying. The Master knew that the Doctor was slowly suffocating him, even if he didn't mean to. He hadn't realized how badly he wanted the Doctor. That one time wasn't enough. He'd spend eternity hungering for more, and the Doctor would never...

Except he would. The Doctor kissed him again right there, and it was as kind as last time. It tasted of tears and worry. It didn't matter, because this was a genuine kiss and it wasn't just out of pity. Hands in each other's hair and along each other's bodies, intense and yet somehow without biting. It only stopped when they both had to gasp for air.

"I don't care. I'll travel with you if it kills me," the Master panted.

The Doctor looked relieved. Finally he could stop feeling guilty for keeping the Master with him. There was no prisoner on board of the TARDIS. None that walked about and talked, in any case. No, that wasn't the Master at all. He was so much more. Most of it was bad, but they could always add to the good things.

The Doctor pulled the Master close by his tie and claimed his lips once more. While the kiss grew more passionate and insistent, he got the Master's jacket open and pushed it off his shoulders. They would do this again, but he wasn't letting the Master in charge. That wasn't going to happen again in a long while.

They undressed each other with haste and fell over on the bed together while furiously snogging. There was a noise of protest from the Master when he was pushed down, but he had the Doctor's hand down between his legs and he couldn't really complain. Really. He was moaning into the Doctor's mouth and hoping he didn't look completely pathetic, but he did. The Doctor thought it was a massive improvement to have him squirming in the linen like this.

The Master groaned as their lips broke apart, throwing his head back when the Doctor went for his neck with lovely, lovely kisses.

"Doctor, are you...?"

"Oh, yes I am," the Doctor assured him. He made a point by taking the Master's wrists and pinning him down while his mouth ravaged the Master's body. Any struggling from the Master's side was weak and reluctant, because he was enjoying every second of this. There was just no way he could let the Doctor take him without even a small struggle, on principle.

The Doctor could have used this as an opportunity for revenge, but he didn't. It still baffled the Master how the Doctor could be kind in any situation if he only wanted. The Master was gasping and squirming as the Doctor prepared him, legs flailing. He wanted to make a ruckus but it wasn't working out. The Doctor held him down, kissing his chest and stomach and making him forget every desire to take control.

He hooked his legs around the Doctor's waist, pulling him down. "Hurry it up, Doctor," he hissed. Already he was frustratingly aroused, and he didn't have time for the Doctor's niceties.

"Don't you ever slow down"? the Doctor asked, which was a bit ironic.

"Nev-aah!"

The Master's hands were clutching at the Doctor's shoulders as he was impaled. Panting hard, he pressed his face to the Doctor's chest. He drew sharp breaths, clinging to the man over him. Oh, this was rich; the two of them coming together like this after so long.

Their moans and gasps rang throughout the resort as they desperately became one. Skin damp from exertion sliding against skin, hips grinding together and hands going everywhere, exploring and claiming. It was a shame that it hadn't happened like this sooner; both savouring each other and forgetting the past. Flushed and panting, the Master let the Doctor turn him over as he liked, handle him. He wanted to be handled and controlled.

This wasn't a battle to be won and he couldn't care less if he was underneath him or riding him into oblivion. He got a fair share of everything, and come morning it was impossible to say which limbs were whose. They were one sweaty tangle among the sheets and the Master had knocked the lamp on the nightstand over.

The Master woke up to the feeling of a finger running down his spine. A pleasant shudder went through him and he kept his face buried in the pillows. He didn't want to get up. Not ever. A kiss was pressed to the back of his neck. He frowned, then turned over to look up into the Doctor's face.

"You're looking smug," the Master commented. He sounded sleepy still. He hated early mornings. Early mornings were for nice people, or bad people who were just really desperate.

"You're looking satisfied," the Doctor replied. He looked more smug than ever. The Master was relieved to see him lie back down.

"So did you ever get to see those sapphire waterfalls?" the Master asked with a smirk on his lips. The answer didn't matter in the least. He had the Doctor there, next to him. That was for the best, because the Doctor didn't reply.

No one had known the name of the hostess who died on the shuttle bus. They had lost their pilots. And poor Sky. No, no he hadn't seen any sapphire waterfalls and they certainly didn't seem to matter now. He rested his head on the Master's shoulder and tried not to show how much it bothered him.

*

It was different, now. In small ways. Somehow, while they weren't looking, it had become a thing. This thing between them that pulled and pushed and couldn't quite decide on what it wanted to be. The Doctor found that he kept waking up next to the Master, even if they hadn't said anything about sharing rooms. They didn't, not really.

The Master had to explain to the Doctor about double beds. It took him a while to grasp the idea. Otherwise they carried on like usual; with the occasional instance of the Doctor getting grabbed from behind while he was trying to pilot them through time and space. The Doctor and the Master in the TARDIS.

To the Doctor's disappointment, the Master was just as destructive as ever. With the TARDIS controls set to random, the Doctor kept his eyes on the Master while they travelled. First to a distant start which, they found out a little late, was about to become a supernova. A lot of running back to the TARDIS ensued, and the Master slammed the door in the faces of some people the Doctor had promised to rescue. By the time he realized, it was too late.

Going back in time with a promise of dinosaurs, the Master turned out to be the real reason why they died out. Taking a trip to the middle ages, the Doctor found himself very suspicious to an early outbreak of the black plague in Norway, 1348.

The Doctor never stopped scolding the Master, but it would have been far worse if the man actually upset history. He had a tendency not to do that. Maybe he knew that would be crossing the line.

The Doctor was good at containing the damage, but it was wearing him thin. After the Master had destroyed Pluto's fifth moon, the Doctor dragged him back into the TARDIS by his ear.

"Ow, ow."

"Just tell them Pluto isn't a planet while you're at it," the Doctor scowled at him. "How do you even pull these things off?"

"Ow," the Master reminded. The Doctor let go of him, crossed his arms and glared. And yet he could never be properly angry with this man. His glare lost its sharpness as soon as the Master looked at him and reminded him that he had changed in very small ways since they started travelling together.

The drums were getting louder. It was as if they were building up to something, and the Master's need to destroy was getting worse than ever. He wasn't sure if he wanted the Doctor to know.

The Doctor let out a sigh and shook his head. He didn't know what to do about the Master.

"Master, in all these years we've known each other, there's one thing I always wanted to do."

"You already punched me, if that's what you mean," the Master said with a huff.

The Doctor didn't say anything, but started removing his belt. The Master watched him warily, and then he was shoved back against the TARDIS' control panel. It was strangely familiar to their first night together, except now it was the Master who was bent over and had his trousers yanked down. Hadn't he been so hopeful for something good, he probably would have been able to avoid what followed.

The Doctor had no intensions of being nice. When his belt cracked down on the Master's ass, it was channelling centuries of fury. The Doctor held the Master down with one hand at the back of his neck, and with the other he bore the belt down on him without mercy. The Master screamed and hammered his fist against the control panel, but while as tears streamed down his face, he was also somewhat enjoying it. Probably why the Doctor didn't hold back.

He spanked the Master's ass red and sore before he let him go. The Master slumped to the floor with a relieved gasp. He was half hard and not at all holding a grudge to the Doctor, because the Doctor was about to get bent over the nearest surface and be repaid sorely in a far more intimate manner.

*

There was a strange sound in Baker Street. Those who heard it would have described it as a sort of vworp vworp noise, had they any sense of accuracy. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson both ran outside to see the TARDIS materialize. Out came the Doctor.

"Well, I knew Christmas in London isn't usually the whitest," the Doctor remarked. "But I had expected less green and less people in shorts. It just gets worse each year, doesn't it?"

"This is the middle of July," Sherlock informed them. They had stopped right in front of the TARDIS to greet the time travellers. John never really had a time to say anything as the Doctor only kept talking.

"Oh, sorry about that," he said, making a face. "Let me just fine tune the old girl and we'll give it another shot. We'll be in for fruit cake and pudding before you can say 'wibbly wobbly timey wimey'. Before me and the Master can say it, anyway. To you it's going to be five months. Again, sorry about that."

He ducked back inside and it was only seconds before the TARDIS was gone yet again. Sherlock and John looked at each other.

"That was weird even for him," John remarked.

"No, John. No it wasn't," Sherlock assured him. One day he would figure out how that thing worked. It haunted him in his sleep.

It was a few days before Christmas when the TARDIS arrived next. Mycroft was visiting, and so it wasn't all that easy to run outside when they heard the noise. They just fell silent, and Mycroft looked around with a frown.

"What was that?"

John looked guilty, Sherlock's face was blank. It wasn't long until the doorbell chimed. No one moved. It ended up being John who had to get up, while Sherlock turned back to Mycroft.

"It really would be better if you left, now, as I simply have no time for your case. Missing missile plans is your own problem and not at all in my field of interest."

John greeted the Doctor and the Master at the door.

"A small blip, that before. You know what that's like," the Doctor explained away. He didn't stop talking until they were upstairs and he saw Mycroft, his train of thoughts diverted. "Haven't we met?"

Mycroft looked the Doctor up and down with a definite look of disapproval at the Doctor's general appearance.

"I shouldn't think so, no."

"Weird. That's weird, that is," the Doctor said, scratching his head. "I could swear... But you were blond. And scorpion-ish. Maybe you just have one of those faces."

Mycroft looked more confused than ever. Sherlock ushered his brother towards the door.

"He got you spot-on, Mycroft. Now, I am sure you have less important things than me that you are dying to attend to."

With Mycroft out of the house, the four sat down in the cramped living room and spent the better part of the night talking. When travelling through time and space, it was impossible to run out of stories, and the Doctor had a fascination for everything the crime solving duo was up to.

Next day, John was out doing the shopping and the Time Lords were reacquainting themselves with London. Sherlock was alone when the bomb went off.

Other than damage to the building, everything was fine. Someone had tried to put a blanket around his shoulders, but otherwise Sherlock was unharmed. It wasn't long before the pink phone arrived and the game was on. A serial bomber with a specific interest in Sherlock. It was hard for the Doctor and the Master to keep their noses out of this one, but Sherlock insisted.

"So much for Christmas," the Doctor said. They were at the kitchen in Sherlock and John's flat while the other pair ran around trying to save lives. The Doctor was itching to go out there.

"It's not Christmas unless I'm trying to conquer a planet, anyway," the Master said sourly. He was even less interested in this Christmas thing than the Doctor was. He hadn't spent nearly enough time on Earth for that. And yet...

"I got you something," the Master said. "I might as well give it to you now."

The Doctor watched in surprise as the Master set a quite flat, square box down on the table. It wasn't gift-wrapped or anything, just a plain box. He pushed it towards the Doctor, indicating he should open it.

"You shouldn't have done that," the Doctor muttered. He hesitated, but reached out to open the box anyway. It wasn't ticking, at least.

"I know I shouldn't have. Don't think I'll ever do it again," the Master scoffed.

The Doctor removed the lid of the box and looked into it.

"A scarf?"

"Yes it is," the Master confirmed.

The Doctor didn't know what to say.

"Thank you."

"You wear those, don't you?" the Master asked to be sure.

"Yes. I mean, six regenerations ago, but yes, I wore those."

"There's a stick of celery in there, too."

The Doctor brightened up considerably.

*

It wasn't the most exciting days for the Doctor and the Master, but at least nothing was getting destroyed at the Master's hand this time. The bomber hadn't sent any more threats or leads, and so they were having the evening in, all four of them. It was as much of a party as there ever would be. Had it been up to Sherlock, there would have been none at all. It was Mrs. Hudson who had decorated the flat and put up mistletoe everywhere.

To the Doctor's surprise, the Master and Sherlock had a lot to talk about, and that scared him. The jar of eyes he had brought with him last time had been glued to the TARDIS dashboard. It freaked the Doctor out every time. John on the other hand was a good man, but frankly a bit too worried. He wasn't pleased with what the Doctor had said to Sherlock last time around.

"I mean he can be charming at times but he is mostly just scary or offensive when he tries to ask me out. I have told him to stop but he insists I should give it a try and it's entirely your fault," John accused. He was a little buzzed at this point. They all were.

"Most things are my fault," the Doctor muttered to himself. He pushed himself out of his chair and looked to John. "You know, you really should give him that chance," he said before he called out to the Master. They were calling it a day before the Master could break Sherlock any further. It was getting late.

Sherlock was sitting in an armchair, knees tucked up under his chin and an empty glass dangling from his fingertips, leaning slightly on the floor. The Master had gotten a drink or two in him and he was going on about Jesus' birthday not being in December and whatever other reasons why their traditions were wrong and Christmas was a big hoax.

John went to sit with him, clearing his throat. "Mistletoe," he pointed out. It was hanging right over their heads. Surely not even Sherlock could screw that one up.

"Ah. Yes. Viscum album, the only species of mistletoe native in Great Britain. People used to believe it could ward off werewolves. According to the Doctor it really—"

John sighed. Then he leaned down and kissed him. Sherlock went silent. Blissful silence.

Upstairs, the Master had gotten a gift of his own, but only if he promised to play nice. He promised, and then he went right to putting the collar around the Doctor's neck.

"That's what I should have done when I ruled the Earth. I should have just kept you naked on a leash and then we'd both be happy," the Master said smugly. He yanked at the leash. The Doctor's glasses fell off.

"Don't remind me," the Doctor warned him. He folded up his glasses and put them aside. Then he looked at the Master.

They had come to some sort of understanding, they supposed. While they couldn't stop thinking of each other as enemies, they had gained quite the level of respect for each other. Trusted each other and even cared deeply. The Doctor on a leash spoke for itself.

The Master yanked him close for a firm kiss.

"You can say it now," he murmured while he stroked a finger down the Doctor's face.

"I forgive you," the Doctor told him. "For everything."

"You will be saying that a lot tonight," the Master informed him with a gleam in his eye.

It was a good night for everyone. This one good night that didn't seem all too special until they were looking at it in retrospect. A lot was going to happen that next day. For one, the Doctor and the Master overslept and missed out on the most of it. When they found both John and Sherlock to be gone without any message left behind, it was time to get involved.

*

The pool at midnight. It was as dramatic as one could expect of Sherlock Holmes. He had just met his arch enemy Moriarty and now he was helping John off with the jacket strapped with bombs. He threw it, letting it slide across the floor away from them. Sherlock actually seemed concerned for once. The danger was over and still he was concerned for his... Whatever John was now.

This was when the Doctor and the Master caught up with them.

"You shouldn't have come," John told them. "It's not safe."

"And you shouldn't be staying around. Quick, you two," the Doctor said, urging both John and Sherlock on their way.

"You read my email," Sherlock accused. "You couldn't have gotten past my password. You used the sonic screwdriver and hacked into my laptop."

"Never mind that. You two, running off into danger without inviting us," the Doctor accused likewise.

"I didn't want any of this," John reminded them. "I don't like having bombs strapped to me."

"Don't be modest, John. You love the action," Sherlock said.

This was when Moriarty changed his mind and returned. Sadly, at that point, the only one loitering behind was the Master, and there he was with countless little red dots taking aim at him. Snipers were so unfair.

"Don't!" the Doctor called out as the Master made to pull the laser screwdriver out of his pocket. It was already too late.

The Master fell to the floor, the screwdriver rolled from his hand and across the tiles. He was bleeding out.

It was a funny thing, time. How it slowed down the painful moments and made them seem that much worse. The Doctor yelled his name out.

The Master was starting to glow. Golden energy was flowing around him, from him and into him at the same time.

"Get away from him!" the Doctor called out. "Trust me, you don't want to be near him when that happens!"

"That's an option," Moriarty said. "Here's another one."

He signalled for the snipers to shoot him again. They did. The golden energy was gone. The Doctor screamed, and it took both Sherlock and John to hold him back. He fell to his knees. This couldn't be it.

*

Moriarty had gotten away. The Doctor had carried the Master out of there himself without saying a word to anyone. He didn't return to Sherlock and John after that. There had been so much hope for the man lying dead in his arms, but maybe some people weren't meant to have a shot. He remembered the Master saying that in one of his angry fits, that maybe he had been supposed to die when the Doctor convinced him to regenerate instead.

Death was never a solution. Death wasn't fair or fated. It was just death.

Away from the city, the Doctor built a pyre on his own. It was, all in all, not the worst day to die on, if such a thing had to be done. The air was crisp and cold, snow was coming down. Everything was white and blinding. He kissed the Master one last time before he stood back to watch his body burn.

He was wearing the scarf, if only for this one time. In his hands was the laser screwdriver. He was fidgeting with it while he waited for the flames to die out. Snow was covering up most of the ash and coal by the time he tore his gaze away from the place.

So once again he was the last of the Time Lords. Once again he went back to the TARDIS and it was just him. He couldn't remember feeling so alone.

He didn't take anyone with him when he left for his next trip, and not on the next one after that, either. He saved Earth from giant Cybermen and had one of his stranger bus trips before going to Mars. The incident at Mars didn't exactly cheer him up. Nothing was going right. He had perhaps saved the world once or twice, but while the results were good he had trouble taking any joy in the ride.

At one point he went back to the planet they first visited. Crystal beaches and lakes like mirrors. It didn't help. Mourning had never suited him, and he tried to get back into the game like he always did. And maybe he overdid a little. Naming a galaxy, getting married to the Virgin Queen and installing a car lock noise on the TARDIS was all good fun, but the Ood had summoned him a good while ago. They had been waiting for him, and so he gave them all his deepest apologies once he got around to the Ood Sphere.

He was invited to see the Elder in hopes that their prophecies and dreams would make more sense to the Doctor. He was expecting the usual; end of the world, rise of the Dalek Empire or some of the other cheery stuff he always got mixed into.

They showed him a face. A laughing face with all the bad intentions possible to hold in one expression. The Master looked more insane than ever, and the Doctor could hardly believe what he was seeing. The Ood also showed the Master's human wife, locked up in a cell, and other flashing images but nothing really mattered besides the Master.

"That man is dead," the Doctor protested. And apparently all the people in the universe were dreaming of him, not just the Ood. The Doctor had a flicker of hope that maybe he could have the Master back, but the vision of him was unpleasant in every way. He had failed. He hadn't been able to fix him and this was the result.

"Something more is happening, Doctor. The Master is part of a greater design," the Ood Elder said. "A shadow is falling over creation. Something vast is stirring in the dark."

The Ood were predicting the end of time itself. Something was returning, and it wasn't the Master they were talking about. The Doctor was throwing himself around and running back to the TARDIS before anything else could be said.

The world and time was first in line, sorry as he was to admit that. The visions of the Master did nothing but scare him.

*

As if being shot to death was the way for someone like him to go. Never. He wasn't going to die. Never die. Never die. He was laughing like mad as his body took form in a whirlwind of energy, and he had to laugh even harder when he saw the woman on the floor in front of him.

"Brought back to life by the widow's kiss. I hope you're happy to see me, Lucy," he cackled. "Oh, the noise. How I missed the drums. They're louder than ever."

He was revelling in his resurrection, sucking the life from the disciples who had brought him back while his wife watched. And once his resurrection was finished, he would wring the neck around on that bitch. Or maybe he would force her to stay with him just to torture her even further. She could watch as all of the human filth was wiped from the face of the planet.

But Lucy had a secret weapon. Something that would ruin his resurrection.

It was a while later that the Doctor arrived with the TARDIS, right outside the site of the resurrection. It was nothing but a smoking ruin at that point. Lucy herself was among those who had died in the explosion and the Master, if he was alive, was long gone. The Doctor had to throw himself back into the TARDIS once more and do another scan for the other Time Lord. Whatever the Master's intensions were, he needed to be found.

By now, the Master had hidden elsewhere. In the nooks and crannies of a construction site in hopes that the Doctor wouldn't find him at all. Anyone would recognize him as Harold Saxon, but it was the Doctor that always got in his way, always ruined his plans. It hadn't been any different when they travelled together.

And he was starved. So starved. He had all the energy in the world at his hands. Something had given him powers unlike anything he'd been able to do with bare hands.

By the time the Doctor found him, it was late in the evening. He'd picked clean the bones of anyone stupid enough to be at the construction site but he needed more. The hunger didn't stop and the drums were driving him mad. He was acting like an animal, and the black hoodie and baggy pants didn't help.

The Doctor came over him crouching in a corner. There was a hard look in his eyes. He knew. Oh, he had to know. The Master straightened up and walked towards him. Without a word, he struck the Doctor down with lightning from his fingertips.

As the Doctor collapsed, the Master grabbed him. He kneeled down, letting the Doctor lie on the ground. For some reason there was confusion on the Doctor's face.

"You're actually alive," he said, reaching a hand out. The Master narrowed his eyes but let the man touch him.

"What would the world do without me?" the Master asked, laughing. "Face it, old man. I'll never die."

The Doctor still didn't understand what was going through the Master's head. He was wheezing in pain from the shock of lightning.

"Oh, what. You thought I would be welcoming you with open arms, now? Oh no. Oh no that's not what's going to happen. You promised to help. You promised so much, and here we are," the Master hissed.

"It's not too late," the Doctor insisted. "Let me help now. Your resurrection went wrong. You're burning up your life force. How many people have you killed by now?"

"But Doctor." The Master leaned down so he was inches away from the Doctor's face. "I am so hungry."

"I can stop it," the Doctor pleaded, but the Master wasn't listening. He was ranting about food, about meat and grease and flesh and blood and hot gravy, and everything he just wanted to take. It was disgusting and the Doctor begged him to stop, to let him help.

"What, you heard about my return and you thought everything would be back to normal?" the Master murmured into the Doctor's ear. He was leaning over him, one hand on either side of the Doctor's body so he was sure the man couldn't get away. He laughed. "Oh yes. It was good, wasn't it? We had our sweet, innocent little travels in space and time, but now I can hear the drums again. Louder. So much louder. And I am so, so hungry. And you, pretty boy..." With a dark chuckle, he ran his tongue up the Doctor's cheek. "I could practically eat you up. You might even like it."

The Doctor made an effort to crawl away, but the Master grabbed him by his coat and pulled him back.

"Don't you see there's more than you and me at work here?" the Doctor called out in protest. "You and I could work together again and stop whatever is coming. The Ood talked about something returning."

"And here I am," the Master said as if it was something glorious.

"No, something else, and it's going to be the end of time if I don't stop it. Help me," the Doctor requested.

"Then tell me one thing," the Master demanded. He was glowering at the Doctor. "Can you hear it now? Can you hear the drums?"

The Doctor's face fell. "I can't. I can't hear it."

"It's so loud now. Listen," the Master ordered, but the Doctor shook his head. So the Master grabbed his face and pulled him close. "Listen!"

With their foreheads pressed together and the Master's hands on him, channelling, the sound became clear. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. The Doctor pulled away almost instantly and looked at the Master with wide eyes.

"I hear it," he said. "But that's no noise. It's the sound of your own sanity." And he had no way of explaining it. "What's inside your head?" he asked in horror.

The Master could only laugh.

"It's real," he said. He kissed the Doctor hard and shoved him to the ground. "It's real!" he screamed out at the world. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and he ended up with a mix of both. Staggering back, he couldn't stop going on about it. He was so relieved, and still so utterly plagued by the constant noise in his head.

"That means we can fix it," the Doctor went on once he'd picked himself up, but with one leap the Master was already far, far out of reach on a hilltop.

"You thought I was insane! All this time you thought it was just me," the Master yelled at him. "If you want to fix it, you tell me what's calling me, Doctor. What is it? What is it?"

The Doctor scrambled to his feet and ran towards him, but someone came up behind the Master and jabbed a syringe in his throat. The Master was knocked out within a second, and the Doctor had no way of catching up. The Master was taken away.

The Doctor wasn't giving up. The Ood had shown him many things, and he just needed to put the pieces together.

*

So it was some rich guy with dreams about keeping his daughter alive forever that had kidnapped him. The Master wouldn't so much mind being held on a leash if they would only feed him. He was starved and he had a hard time not laughing at these idiots who had stolen alien technology and thought they would be able to use it for good.

They had a gate that could heal everyone on the planet, and they wanted the Master to fix it. He was almost giddy as he worked on it. There he was, a new grand plan forming in his head as he worked, and the people watched and they had no idea of what he was making. Stupid humans. He was remembering why he disliked them so much. The Doctor had almost made him forget. Almost. They would be the first ones to go if only because the Doctor loved them so much.

When he was done, he leaned back with his hands behind his back. Until the humans wanted him back in a straight jacket. And he could only grin, even as they buckled it up. Their little tricks were useless. They started powering up the machine, and he was so close.

Of course, his near success was scheduled on top of his Doctor's appointment. The Doctor kicked the door open and stormed in as if he actually had a way of stopping any of this.

"Don't let him anywhere near the gate!"

The Doctor had already been down in the control room and found out what it was thanks to two very helpful cacti people. The Master made a point of rolling his eyes.

"As if they had a chance of stopping me."

The Master ripped the straight jacket to shreds and with one leap he was inside the gate. The Doctor turned to the people around them who were all starting to feel odd.

"What are you doing?" the Doctor demanded, and the Master only laughed.

"You'll see. I reprogrammed it, and oh you are going to like this, Doctor. Only seconds left," the Master yelled. "You love humanity so much, dragged me down here time and again. Watch all of humanity vanish in one go."

The Doctor didn't believe him until he saw the people around him starting to change. Even less did he want to believe what actually happened. They were all turning into the Master and every single one of them laughed with triumph. It was everyone on the entire planet.

The Master stepped out of the gate with a cheeky smile. He walked towards the Doctor and grabbed him by his tie.

"So how do you like the brand new Master Race?" he asked. "Think of all the fun we can have with you now. Pity there's so little of you to go around."

The Doctor would have yelled at him, but he couldn't find words to express how angry he was. The Master shoved him into the arms of another couple of Masters in guard outfits.

"Put the leash on him. That's how I like my pet."

"Master!"

The Master shuddered with delight. "I love it when you use my name like that."

The leash was retrieved and the Doctor was forced to his knees while they put it on. The Master stood in front of him, looking down at him.

"The drums are calling, and we are going to..."

He trailed off. He heard it, and so did the Doctor and every other Master in the vicinity. Something was leaving a trail of fire in the sky and it was about to crash into the ground not far away from them. Perhaps was it the smell, the feeling of it, but the Master was barking orders to find it in an instant. Then he turned back to the Doctor.

"What do you think?" he asked with his smile still in place.

"I think you're brilliant," the Doctor said. "You could be so beautiful if you just turned that talent of yours into something good. I mean it. We can go back to how things used to be. Don't you miss it, even a little?"

The Master looked at him. It was moments like these that the Doctor felt he really was mad; it was impossible to know what was going on in that head of his.

"It's the drums, Doctor. I need to know. And with six billion people listening at once, I should be able to find out exactly what the signal is."

"I could—"

"You didn't even try!" the Master yelled at him. "I asked you to promise. To promise me. You promised to fix me and to let me go when the noise went away. I regenerated because you promised, and you didn't even try." He panted hard, worked up with anger and glaring death at the Doctor. He could kill him now. He should kill him now and end this centuries old war between them.

"I'm begging you to—"

"Did you even want to help me?" the Master demanded. "I need to know."

"Yes. Oh yes," the Doctor assured. He looked up at the Master, so concerned and aware of how bad the situation looked. "There was only one thing I wanted more than to help you and it got in the way every time. That's my fault and I should have known better."

"What? What is it you want?" the Master hissed. Their eyes were locked together. There wasn't a moment with the two of them when the room wasn't filled with tension.

"I want you to stay with me," the Doctor said.

"Tch."

The Master turned around and clutched at his head. He let out a noise of frustration and then looked back at the Doctor with another hiss.

"You..."

The Master dropped to his knees and put his hand on either side of the Doctor's face.

"You don't have to say anything," the Doctor told him. He put one hand over the Master's. Whatever their time together in the TARDIS had done to them, it wasn't completely lost. It was struggling to win them both over.

The Master was flickering. Still he was burning up his life force. He gritted his teeth, growling with rage.

"We'll take care of it. I'll take care of it all," the Doctor told him. If the Master would only listen to him and they could salvage this entire situation.

"Doctor. Heh." The Master struggled to keep his composure, but he looked at the Doctor with his smile askew. "If there's one person in all of existence that I—"

"Sir, we found what fell out of the sky," one of the other Masters interrupted. "It was a diamond. A Whitepoint star."

The Master looked at the Doctor. Then he decided. He got up and went to meet his men.

"Give it to me!" he ordered.

"No!" the Doctor shouted. "No, you don't know what you're doing."

"But don't you see? It's all making sense now," the Master said. He looked back at the Doctor and laughed again. "Don't you see how the drums make sense now, calling from the end of time?"

He had the Whitepoint star handed to him by one of the Masters that had been sent out to collect it. Then he went for the gate. He would turn it into a gateway for all of Gallifrey if that was his purpose.

The Doctor struggled to get up and stop him, but a firm yank of his leash and a kick in the back had him on the ground again.

"Don't do this. You have no idea," the Doctor pleaded. "Please, just listen to me."

"But when was the last time you saw me so happy?" the Master asked. There was a bright light appearing, and it was the most beautiful thing. "Isn't this glorious?"

"I've seen you happy with me," the Doctor said. His voice was drowned out by the sound of the gateway materializing. They could see the Time Lords approaching. The President and his council first, with the President at the front. And oh, he was looking smug as he saw them.

"My Lord Doctor. And Lord Master. We are gathered for the end."

"You can't," the Doctor protested. He was tugging on the collar, which was almost choking him at this point.

"Ironic that our salvation comes at the hand of our most infamous child," the President said, looking at the Master.

"He's not—!"

"Hush," the Master told him. He looked at the President, glowing with triumph and ambition. "I have turned every human on this planet into me, and I'm going to do the same to all of you. All the Time Lords. You're all going to be me, and I'm going to keep going until there's only me left."

The President's face was going red with fury, and the Master was just grinning.

"Think, Mr. President. Finally you too can look this good."

The President raised his hand. He had a glove that immediately cancelled out the effect of the gate. All the humans were turning back into themselves.

"No, no," the Master groaned. "No, stop it, no! You're ruining everything."

The Doctor gasped as the leash was let go. With everyone turned back into themselves, he was able to scrabble away.

"I still saved you," the Master pointed out weakly to the President.

The whole place started shaking. The Doctor was getting himself to his feet and between the Master and the Time Lords.

"Don't you see?" he sneered at the Master. "All of Gallifrey is coming. It's returning here, right now."

"And I did it," the Master said. "I did it, and I get the credit," he shouted at the President, while the humans were all running away in fear. Then he glared at the Doctor. "This is fantastic. Time Lords restored. You should be happy."

"You weren't there during the final days of the war," the Doctor gritted out at him. "They want to destroy all of reality and become beings of consciousness alone. They will make all of time end. Not fantastic."

"The Final Sanction," the President said proudly.

"I can be part of that," the Master said. "I want to ascend with you!"

"You are diseased. Be it a disease of our own making," the President spat at him.

The Master's face fell. This was when the Doctor reached into his coat and pulled out the screwdriver. He pointed it at the President.

"What do you intend to do with that?" the President scoffed.

"While he has a point, he's the President. Kill him and you can have all of Gallifrey," the Master encouraged him. The Doctor really ought to start carrying a gun, because that petty sonic device of his was useless.

The Doctor turned around, aiming at the Master instead. Something clicked in the Master's head and he went still. He knew what was going through the Doctor's head.

"Kill me and the connection is cut. I see." The Master's eyes narrowed. "But you wouldn't."

The laser beam from the Master's screwdriver shot right past the Master's ear and at the Whitepoint star. The light from the gate shone brighter than ever and then it started fading.

"The connection is cut," the Doctor said with narrowed eyes. "Back to Gallifrey where you belong."

They were knocked off their feet by the force of the gateway closing. The ground was shaking and windows cracking. They were lying in debris when everything went still. And now it was dead still. Not a sound.

The Doctor lifted his head and looked around. He was alive and unharmed. That was unexpected. Not far away from him was the Master, down on the floor.

*

The Master woke up with a gasp. Not from surprise, but from the shock that was running through all of him. So much energy. It coursed through him, healed him, and then it surged back out. His vision returned. Everything was blurry at first. After a while the roof of the TARDIS began to take form in front of him.

He was lying on his back in the TARDIS. The Doctor was busying about with some cables, until he realized the Master was awake. Then he leaned over him, glasses in place.

"I used energy from the TARDIS' time vortex to restore your body. You should have stabilized by now, but... No more superpowers, I'm afraid."

"Gallifrey is gone?" the Master whispered. It took a while before he got a reply.

"Yes," the Doctor answered. He didn't meet the Master's eyes.

"You took my screwdriver," the Master accused. He was completely exhausted, and hungry. He had a feeling that this time, he might actually be able to still the hunger, though.

"You were dead," the Doctor reminded him. He stroked the Master's hair back, looking over him with worry. "You seem to have gotten better, though."

"I did," the Master agreed with a slight smile. He closed his eyes again. He was too tired to keep them open. Too tired to talk, too tired to think. He felt the Doctor's arms around him, pulling him close and holding him. He turned his face against the Doctor's chest and let himself be held. "It's so quiet," he said.

"Yes, I suppose it is, yeah," the Doctor agreed, shrugging.

"I mean the drumming." The Master's eyes shot open and he sat upright. "The drumming is gone."

"We broke the connection. That, or you can always count on the TARDIS and I to fix everything," the Doctor said proudly. "You don't hear it anymore? At all?"

The Master shook his head and scrambled to his feet. "No, it's just... It's just silent." He didn't know what to do. He looked at the Doctor in panic. "It's gone."

The Doctor got up as well. The Master looked to him with hesitation.

"I haven't forgotten," the Doctor assured. "I promised you were free to go when the noise was gone." Hands down his pockets, he glanced to the floor, and quickly back up at him. "I did a horrible job helping you, didn't I?"

The Master shrugged.

"I'll keep the second part of my promise, but I'm taking you away from Earth. The human race has had enough to deal with from you," the Doctor said with one lecturing finger pointed at him.

"You know I never felt like a prisoner here," the Master muttered, not looking at the other.

"Good, good," the Doctor said. He was trying his best to sound unaffected by the whole thing. "That's good, that is. Tell you what, let's find somewhere safe to put you."

"I'm not going anywhere," the Master said.

The Doctor looked at him with pleading eyes. Now was not the time to be difficult. This was difficult enough as it was, but the Master insisted on making it that much more painful.

"Your wife is dead, everyone here knows your face. You won't be safe anywhere."

The Master closed the gap between them with one step and hugged the Doctor around his waist firmly. "Shut up and take us somewhere nice."

The Doctor didn't do anything. He looked down at the Master. While as he placed one hand on the Master's back, he was frowning. When the Master tilted his head up, he was despairing.

"You can forgive me again, right? I wanted to be with the Time Lords. So what? You would have, too, if you were in my shoes. And turning all of humanity into me... Well, it was good fun, wasn't it?"

"We can't keep doing this."

"I know." The Master turned his gaze back down, pressing his cheek to the Doctor's chest.

The Doctor sighed and rested his chin on the top of the Master's head. He held him closer, even rocking him gently. It was more for his own comfort than for the Master's. "I don't know what to do about you," he whispered. "Nothing's going to make up for the things we've done to each other, to those around us."

"I'm better when I'm with you, though."

That was, in every way, true. They had been so close to achieving something before the Master was shot. With the drums gone, perhaps he was a changed man. If not, then it was still the Doctor's duty to prevent him from doing any more harm. He would gladly take that upon himself.

"I want to go with you," the Master said more firmly. "Let me come with you."

"You're coming with me," the Doctor assured. "Whatever happens between you and me, there is always a place for you in the TARDIS."

The Master relaxed. While it wouldn't be a good idea to say it out loud, the Doctor's heartbeat so reminded him of the drums. Their eyes met again, and they knew there was one question left, about what happened next between them.

"I still hate you," the Master told him.

The Doctor's lips tugged into a bright smile. "Oh, you do know how to make me laugh."

"I mean it," the Master scoffed. "You got in my way again. What am I supposed to do with you?"

"I ask myself the same." The Doctor leaned down and kissed the Master, to no objections. He kissed him right back and put a hand on the Doctor's shoulder.

"It's a very different kind of hate than it used to be," the Master muttered after the kiss.

"Because when you say 'hate', you really mean something else entirely?" the Doctor asked.

"Something like that."

The Doctor knew that, and he could do nothing but smile at the Master before he ran over to the control panel. "Help me out here, then. The TARDIS doesn't fly itself."

"Where are we going?" the Master asked, perking up.

"Wherever we want to go." The Doctor pulled a big lever with force and yelled out. "Allons-y!"