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A Gamble

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“Well, I’d like to say I’m surprised… But I’m not.” The Master rolled his eyes and leaned against the TARDIS like he had all the time in the universe. Which he, they, did, of course, though that wasn’t the point.

The point was that the Doctor was keenly invested in not spending that time shipwrecked on some backward planet with nothing but purple trees as far as one could see. Especially as there was an ever-increasing number of eyes – yellow and malevolent – appearing between the branches.

“You can be as unsurprised as you want,” the Doctor said, “but as powerful as your smirk is, it’s not going to get us off this rock any time soon.” He pulled off one of TARDIS’ outer panels and peered at the gently smoking innards. “A little help here?”

The Master lifted an eyebrow, raising his cuffed hands demonstratively. “A little freedom of movement here?” he countered.

The Doctor pinched the bridge of his nose, rapidly calculating the probability of survival if he unchained the Master and the probability if he didn’t, not much liking the odds either way.

Then again, better the devil you knew and all that…

“Here,” he said, tossing over the keys. “Make yourself useful. And quick.” In the trees, a cacophony of angry screeches was starting to gain momentum.

“With pleasure,” the Master replied. His hands were unbound and reaching for the tools. The smirk on his face had quadrupled in strength.

Their gazed locked and held for one infinite second, stretching between them like a galaxy. Then the Doctor blinked and turned back to the TARDIS, leaving himself deliberately vulnerable. Not like he’d gotten this far by playing it safe, anyway.

“Alright then,” he said, holding out a hand behind him. “I’ll need the micro energy calibrator first...”