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Redemption lies plainly in truth

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“I miss wearing velvet.” Missy said, suddenly.

She hadn’t spoken in hours. Her voice crackled, but she spoke through it.

The Doctor looked up from the beanbag leaning against the leg of the piano. A stack of essays – half marked – sat at his feet. Surprised by the sudden noise, the paper he was mid-way through marking slipped from his fingers and scuttled away across the floor. He didn’t move to get it.

“What?”

Missy didn’t look at him. The piano was shut – the keys protected from the elbows she had resting on the polished wood. The great instrument was as silent as her owner. Oppressive silence filled the vastness of the vault.

The ends of her skirts brushed against the skin of his hands as he turned to face her. He took the hem between his fingers, dragging his thumb along the fabric. It was heavy and purple: the wool was rough against already calloused hands.

“I used to wear velvet all the time, do you remember?”

“Of course.”

How could he forget? How could he forget the first body the Master had after using up all his regenerations, morphing from walking corpse to healthy man? How could he forget the righteous fury he had felt watching the Master run around the universe in a stolen body? Especially as he had Nyssa, the daughter of the man he’d stolen the body from, living in the TARDIS at the time. How could he forget the face that had pushed him off of Jodrell Bank? There was that, and so much more.

So, yes. The Doctor remembered that face.

Missy still didn’t look at him. She didn’t open her eyes, in fact. A small smile wormed its way onto her features.

“That Trakenite body I had got cold so easily. It really was the best option. Stylish, warm…”

She trailed off.

“Villainous?”

“Yes. It was glorious.” Missy sighed, wistfully.

They fell back into silence.

The wool was rather scratchy. It wasn’t her best skirt. She had spilt hot coffee on her best one this morning, and it now lay draped over the briefcase the Doctor had brought his essays in. He would get Nardole to clean it later.

The Doctor groaned as he sat up. A beanbag possibly wasn’t the best seat to have in the Vault. He should have considered the need to get up and run quickly when making his chair choices. Who knew when he’d need to make a quick exit?

He got to his feet, cracking his back as he did so. Missy furrowed her eyebrows at the popping noise, but she said nothing.

The Doctor wasn’t on his feet for long. Gently, as if approaching a dangerous animal, he lowered himself down onto the piano stool next to her. She scooted up, giving him room.

“If I get you some velvet,” the Doctor said, softly, “will you read the John Stuart Mill book I have left here?”

Missy took his hand in hers, tracing her fingers around the ring he wore. Her hands were quite cold – even for a Time Lord. Lightly, with the very ends of her nails, she moved down from the ring, following the grooves and lines in his hands.

“Don’t you have complicated views on utilitarianism?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point. He’s a moral philosopher that you should read.”

“Get me some velvet, dear, and I’ll read whatever you want me to.” She said. There was a slightly condescending tone bubbling in the background of her voice. Despite this, she leant against him. Holding onto his hand, Missy leant her head against his shoulder, a solid form resting on him.

He did not respond verbally. He pulled his hand out from between them, and wrapped it around her instead.

He had a velvet jacket at the start of this regeneration. It was purple. If he could remember where he had left it in the TARDIS, he’d give it to her. His clothes had a habit of going missing within its walls; he was sure that the TARDIS just found in funny to see him search. Still, purple and made of velvet? Missy would like it.

He turned his head, and rested it against hers. The pins holding her hair up dug into his head a little, but he didn’t move.  

“I have read him before you know.”

“Read and take it in this time. Don’t just use it to make your library shelves look more sophisticated.” The Doctor teased.

“As if I’d use human books to do that.” She said, the ghost of a laugh in her voice. It wasn’t quite a giggle, but it was leaning in that direction. The Doctor shook his head. “I have a whole section of my library on different dismemberment methods from around the universe.”

“See, that is something you shouldn’t have if you’re trying to turn good.”

“Academic interest.” The Doctor couldn’t see her smile, but he could feel it, as her head was pressed up against his shoulder. “Besides, you have loads of distasteful things in your library. I’ve seen the dalek schematics you have down there.”

“Yeah, but I’ve never built any dalek weaponry.” He usually found himself blowing them up, to be fair. “You have absolutely dismembered people. Which is bad, by the way.”

“I didn’t manage to go through all the methods.” Missy smirked. The Doctor elbowed her in the ribs, not hard but enough to get a laugh. “And now I won’t, dear, pinkie promise.”

She didn’t raise her hand, or her little finger. The Doctor didn’t believe a word of her promises, but stayed quiet about it. How was she supposed to improve if he didn’t believe in her, after all?

“Please take this seriously, Missy.”

This, of course, was not just referring to their current conversation. This was referring to their whole situation. The Vault. The reformation attempt. Their friendship. All of it. He took it seriously. He wasn’t sure that she was. There was a big difference between going along with something to save one’s life – Omega knew she’d done that many times in her life – and doing something because one genuinely wanted to change.

“I am here.” She said, simply.

“Yes.” He sighed, pulling her in closer, closing his eyes. “Yes, you are.”