A shrill sound suddenly permeated the air, the occupants of the room all turning their heads to stare at the telephone. Quickly, Sergeant Benton opened the lid and picked up the receiver.
“Hello, governor’s office.”
He paused for a moment as the person on the other line responded. The Brigadier was only able to hear a vague, monotonous tone but by the distraught look on the sergeant’s face, he had a feeling he knew who it was.
“Yes…” Benton handed the telephone to the Doctor, “It’s for you, Doctor.”
“The Master?” The Doctor looked concerned, his worst fears on the brink of being confirmed.
Benton nodded and the Brigadier and Jo both visibly deflated. The Doctor angrily snatched the receiver from the sergeant and brought it up to his ear.
The Brigadier couldn’t hear what the Master was saying but the Doctor certainly didn’t look very happy about it.
“So we won’t be seeing you for quite some time?”
The Brigadier perked up at that. Though the Doctor had seemed insistent that the Master’s TARDIS being fully functional was a bad thing, the soldier didn’t see the harm in it. It would keep him away from Earth. Less work for UNIT. Less stress for him, more importantly.
The Doctor let the receiver fall away from the side of his head and the Brigadier caught the endings of a familiar maniacal-sounding laugh that sent a shiver down his spine. The Doctor stared at the table, obviously deep in thought.
“What did he say?” Jo asked, beating the Brigadier to it.
“His usual threats…” the Doctor sighed, letting his hand fall to his lap.
“Never mind, Doctor,” Jo said cheerfully, squeezing the Time Lord’s arm, “You’ve beaten him!”
The Doctor turned to face her, his face full of concern.
“Have I, Jo?”
The Brigadier resisted interrupting and telling him that yes, he had but thought better of it and remained silent.
“He’s got his TARDIS back,” the Doctor continued, “He’s free to come and go where he pleases. While I’m stuck here on Earth,” the Doctor scowled, and faced the Brigadier, “With you , Brigadier!” he exclaimed in annoyance.
The Brigadier knew the Doctor was teasing him. They did it often. Mostly to keep up appearances in front of other people. Two old friends who teased each other often and who always seemed to teeter on the edge of fisticuffs. That was, of course, only one aspect of their relationship. The only one they’d share, though.
The Brigadier sat back, a smile quickly spreading across his face. He opened his mouth to say something but was cut off by Benton.
“Well, we’ll be ready for whatever he brings!”
“Well, maybe we’ll be ready for him tomorrow ,” Jo yawned, stretching her arms above her head, “I’m beat!”
The Doctor chuckled and ruffled Jo’s hair.
“Of course, Jo, of course.”
The young woman got up, yawning again.
“You coming, Benton?”
The man nodded and the two shuffled out of the room, the door shutting with a loud bang. Alistair leaned forwards, his smile widening.
“Is it really that much of a burden to be on Earth with me?” he teased.
The Doctor’s look of annoyance fell back onto his face but Alistair was able to detect the familiar glint of affection in his eyes.
“Hmm, I suppose eventually I’ll have to accept that I’m stuck with you.”
“I think you’ll have to,” Alistair said as he got up from his chair and made his way around the desk. He perched on the edge of the table and leaned forwards, his face only inches from the Doctor’s.
“Yes,” the Doctor thought as his partner kissed him tenderly, “ I most definitely will.”