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Ad Meliora

Chapter Text

“Take me instead!”

The words came quick to the Doctor’s tongue, nearly running together as she tried desperately to save her friend. Yaz – beautiful, wonderful Yasmin Khan – was being manhandled by a Rarfre slaver, infamous for their harsh mistreatment of any female representing being.

It disgusted the Doctor, had always disgusted the Doctor, that they thought they were allowed to do such a thing – to profit from selling innocent lives. She had felt an intense fury the first moment she had seen them prowling the marketplace.

She could have never imagined that Yaz, a twenty-first century earthling, caught their eye.

All four of them, her companions and the ugly, reptilian with two claws for hands, turned to look at her. Her companions looked ready to physically fight the Rarfre with their bare hands, Yaz included, even as she struggled to get out of its harsh grip. But the Doctor knew better – there were no better slavers than Rarfre, simply because they were faster and stronger than they looked, and even more vicious.

There was no hope in fighting them, and the Doctor never carried weapons on her.

Her fam was protesting fiercely at her declaration, Yaz even telling the Rarfre that they weren’t taking anyone. A feeling of pride swept the Doctor off her feet, watching as her brave humans fought so well for both of them, but it wouldn’t help. Not this time.

“Why would I want you?” The Rarfre asked her, voice an ugly hiss at the TARDIS tried her best to translate, “My scanner did not recognize your species.”

“I’m a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey,” The Doctor said, voice dark and dangerous, channeling her title of the Oncoming Storm, “I am thousands of years old, immortal, and, lucky for you, a woman this time around. I go by many names – the Doctor, The Bringer of Darkness– and I am far more interesting than a human girl.”

The Doctor could see how much the Rarfre was appreciating her little history lesson on Gallifreyan biology. Its claws were releasing Yaz’s shoulder, eyes filled with excitement as it looked her up in down.

“I’m the last of my species,” She added, at the very least standing tall in the face of immense danger, “Imagine the amount of money you could earn from me.”

“Why not both?”

“You take us both,” The Doctor whispered, “And there is no place in the universe that I won’t find you. No crevice, no dark alleyway, no present that my TARDIS can not find. I will destroy you, molecule by molecule.”

The fam was silent. They had never seen her like this – like the Oncoming Storm. This had been a new regeneration in every way imaginable. No left over remnants of the Time War that never happened, no more regrets, no more anger. She was lighter and happier.

Until now.

The Rarfre pushed Yaz harshly into Ryan’s arms, who was quick to catch her fall. The Doctor longed to say something, but she knew what she was now.

A prisoner.

“Go back to the TARDIS,” She told her fam, her family, who looked scared. Good. They had to be scared, it would give them time to run, “She’ll take you back home. Just hit the blinking red button.”

And the TARDIS would: She would be pissed about it for centuries, that she was forced to leave her thief behind, but it will be worth it to finally save her family.

The Rarfre’s claws dug into her shoulder. It hurt more than she thought it would, but it wasn’t nearly the worst thing she had ever been through.

“What about you?” Yaz asked her, tears in her eyes, “How do we come back? How can we save you?”

The Doctor smiled, looking carefully at each of their faces. Humans – she would always love them. “You don’t.”

And then she was gone. The feeling of a teleport wrapped around her, driving the air from her lungs, and then she was back on solid ground – somewhere dark, somewhere cold. It was a big change from the hot suns of the market she was just at.

It was…A cell. Sort of. It looked more medieval than anything else. Actual metal bars were in front of, but she knew that it wasn’t metal. That would be too easy to break out of. Luckily, the Rarfre that abducted her was gone and she was alone.

She studied the room, with it cement walls, and no bed in sight. She walked all the way to the back of it, a ten by ten room, and saw something carved into the wall, covered in specs of blood.

It was in Latin, of all languages. It took her a moment to recognize it and, when she did, she found that she no longer knew what bravery meant. What poor creature had scratched out such a longing sentence? What little sanity did they have to carve that?

She traced the words with her finger, eyes closing. This was not an ideal situation. She had to admit, if she were a man, this situation wouldn’t even exist. That wasn’t fair of her to say. She had enjoyed womanhood so far, a bit miffed by it, but she enjoyed being female.

She also got a closer perspective of what her female companions have had to deal with throughout their lives. The Doctor had never liked cat calling, but it was another thing entirely to be on the receiving end of it. The first time, she had stood frozen, more shocked than anything, and it was Yaz that quipped something to the rude human and had moved her aside.

It was the memory of River and her own dealings with cat calls that had her stepping on quite a bit of men’s shoes after the first incident. Which had always surprised her. She hadn’t been particularly handsome or pretty in her last couple of regenerations. She was always comfortable in them, but this body had gotten her more attention than any other.

She wondered, oddly, how Missy – beautiful Missy – would have managed cat calls. Perhaps, murder was to be allowed once in a while.

She was distracted from her own distracting thoughts when a guard stood in front of her cell. He opened the cell door without a word, a physical key being used, and moved towards her. The Doctor let him manhandle her out of the cell. There was no point in running now.

There were rows and rows of cells, filled with prisoners. Not one woman spoke as she was marched passed them. Children (children, the Doctor’s heart cried) were the only ones brave enough to stare, and even then the woman with them shushed them immediately.

One child, a humanoid girl with beautiful blue eyes and long, unkept hair, was being marched towards her. She was skinny, too skinny for her to be healthy, and was crying silently. She looked roughly eight human years old, and the Doctor found that her hearts couldn’t take the pain.

Just as the girl was about to pass her, the poor thing tripped over her own feet. She gasped, turning fearful eyes to her guard, who was already moving to slap the girl.

The Doctor refused to watch that happen.

She moved away from her own guard and stood in front of the girl, easily grabbing the offending creature in a harsh grip around his wrist. Evenly matched in strength, the two of them stared at each other.

The Doctor smiled, all teeth. Finally, a good reason to be a Time Lord. At least she had strength on her side.

But her victory didn’t last long. Before she knew it, the other Rarfre was on her, its claws buried deep in both her shoulders. She cried out more in surprise than anything, but her own scream was hushed when she was thrown harshly to the floor, her head banging against the unfamiliar ground.

Stars danced in her eyes, but they were instantly ignored. Instead, she was again forced to her feet by the Rarfre. She stumbled, blood trickling into her eye, but she stood once again, her eyes immediately searching for the young girl.

She looked scared, still crying, but she wasn’t hurt. She was already being moved away from her, probably to her own cell. She kept glancing behind her, looking at the Doctor with something far too close to hope. That was a bad idea.

Around her, the other women were staring, hardly able to keep their eyes off her. She had no doubt that they haven’t seen another person stand up to the Rarfre. That gave her just enough motivation to stand tall, even as her guard grabbed her around her already sore shoulders again.

“The prisoner will not fight.”

The Doctor said nothing. There was no point in fighting anymore anyway. At least the young girl wasn’t hurt.

She was again led to the end of the hallway, a thick metal door in front of her with a number lock. She tried to pay close attention to the code, but the guard was quick to push her aside. Next time, she would be ready.

It opened with an ominous hiss. Instead of sunlight, she was greeted with a singular, sterilized room. It looked like something out of a really bad human horror movie (that Yaz really enjoyed). One single, thin mattress, no sheets, and complete barren, white walls. There were two sets of cabinets and, for once, the Doctor had no desire to see what was in them.

The Rarfre pushed her inside when she hesitated. “Sit.” He commanded, gesturing towards the bed on the ground. She made her way towards it, feeling sick when she spotted a dark stain of red against it. Whatever happened in this room…She didn’t dare think of it.

The scaly monster was gone before she had a chance to really notice. Left alone in the room, and noticing no camera, she sighed deeply, bringing her hands to her head, running her fingers through her tangled hair. She winced, already forgetting her wound. She took a close look at the door, wishing that she had her sonic. She had left it on the TARDIS because of the marketplace. Pick pockets were everywhere and she didn’t want to risk it.

A stupid decision, now that she thought about it.

Her coat wasn’t anywhere near sterile, but she dabbed at the blood on her forehead, at least getting it out of her eye. It stung, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. With that done, she put it back on, hoping that she could keep it.

The door opened with another hiss. To the Doctor’s surprise, it was human. She was…Nice enough looking for a human – long-ish straight brown hair, with thick, round glasses that covered her dark eyes. She was wearing a medical coat and scrubs.

“Hello,” She greeted, surprisingly nice enough, “I’m Doctor Hera.” She didn’t even glance at her. Instead, she opened the drawer, grabbing a…Tablet from it and powering it on. Twenty-third century technology blinked in front of her – a medical scanner. The Doctor hated this already.

“I’m just going to do some scans. I’m told that you are…a Time Lord? I’ve never heard of one.”

Again, she said nothing. She eyed the scanner cautiously, knowing that it didn’t just scan. It was also a very powerful defibrillator, and she knew that it could be modified for other uses as well. She really, really didn’t like where this was going.

“A quiet one, like I don’t get that often enough.” Doctor Hera grumbled, “It’s always the crying, or the shell-shocked, or the begging. Like I have anything to do with this.”

“Don’t you?” The Doctor asked, unable to help herself, “You’re a doctor working for slavers. You’re helping them.”

Doctor Hera’s eyes widened. “I wasn’t expecting you to form a full sentence.”

The Doctor’s lips upturned into an ugly smile, “You’ll find that I’m not as docile as others.”

She looked her up and down, maybe impressed? “Sit down for me?”

The Doctor didn’t move. Why would she listen to her? If worse came to worse, she would definitely be able to take her in a fight. She was most certainly human – she was able to hear the one, single heartbeat in her chest.

“Sit down,” She said again, this time a command, “Or I’ll have to call in one of the guards. You really don’t want that.”

The Doctor eyed her, watched as her finger hovered over a button on the wall. A perfect threat, honestly, and she barely had to lift a finger. The Doctor nodded, ever so slightly, sitting down on the ‘bed’, even if she hated how vulnerable it made her feel.

“Thank you.” The woman complimented, and the Doctor felt sick.

She moved over to her, the scanner turning orange as it read her vital signs. At least it didn’t hurt. She watched the screen as it revealed her two hearts, then the larger than average lung capacity. Doctor Hera looked to be having a field day.

“Incredible,” She whispered, taking notes, “I’ve never seen something like this! Tell me, how long do you think you can hold your breath for?”

She said nothing, but Doctor Hera didn’t seem to care. Instead, the scanner was moved to the side. She moved to the cabinets, putting on a pair of blue medical gloves. The Doctor really, really didn’t like where this was going.

“Relax,” She said, seeing her face, “No matter what you think of me, I am a doctor. The Rarfre need to make certain that you’re a female.”

“And your scans couldn’t tell you that?” The Doctor snarled, “I’ve seen enough monsters in the world to recognize excuses when I hear one.”

Again, Doctor Hera seemed surprised, “Funny,” She said, “Two years here, and it’s the first time I’ve been called a monster.”

“Then give me a reason to think you’re not.”

The Doctor stopped her fiddling. She looked at her intently and must have seen something, “They have my wife.” She whispered, “I get to see her once a week, as long as I do what they tell me. I’m…I’ve done terrible things for them, terrible, awful things…” She was quiet, then a whispered a confession, “Pretending to like it made it easier, to see the girls as just...Animals, or experiments…”

“You have to understand, I can’t let them sell my wife. She’s my everything.”

The breath rushed out of the Doctor’s lungs. Her anger vanished, instead replaced with deep sadness for the person in front of her, “I’m so sorry.” She said, meaning it.

She looked down, shaking her head, “I don’t know why I told you. None of the other women usually care. I’ve heard so much begging that I think…You’re right, I’ve become just as much a monster as the Rarfre.”

“I know all seems hopeless,” She said, “But darkness…Darkness never sustains.”

Doctor Hera nodded, but she didn’t look impressed, “keep that hope,” she cautioned her, “It’ll get you further than most.”

She crunched down next to her, “I do have to do an exam. You’ve been injured, and I’m required to make sure you’re…healthy enough to sell. Would you mind removing your coat, and shirt? You can keep your bra on.”

She did so without complaint, even if she hated it. She was just as much as a prisoner as she was. The air was freezing, and it was really awkward when she moved to touch her. She didn’t like physical contact from her fam, let alone a stranger. She’s a doctor. Her mind whispered, but even than she had to hold in the urge to pull away.

“No stitches needed,” She told her, but she already knew that. Also, stitches? She didn’t have a skin regenerator? “But I’ll have to clean them.”

She nodded in consent, trying very hard to just stay still and not cover herself. For a moment, she allowed herself to pretend to be a man once again – after all, men took their shirts off all the time. No big deal.

“I’m the Doctor, by the way.” She said, suddenly, just as she kneeled back behind her with antiseptics. It stung, but it wasn’t so bad.

“The Doctor?” She asked, “Doctor who?”

She smiled, a lifetime worth of jokes, “Just the Doctor. Though, my fam sometimes calls me doc, if that’s easier.”

She moved on to the next shoulder. “Okay, Doctor,” She joked. “Is that a Time Lord thing?”

Humans. Sometimes, they ask far too many questions. “Yup. We pick our names. Rather daunting, but I think the name worked out for me so far. Though, it did land me here.”

“How did your name get you here?”

“I told them I’m the last of my species.”

Doctor Hera stopped. Her hand froze on her back. She tried to hide it by once again moving to clean her wounds, but they both knew that she felt it. “That was not smart.” She muttered.

The Doctor said nothing, agreeing with her. No, it wasn’t smart, but at least it kept Yaz safe. It was nearly the same thing that Doctor Hera was doing for her wife. Doctor Hera’s circumstances, of course, were so much worse. She couldn’t imagine having her fam’s safety hanging over her head.

“I won’t do a gyno exam,” She said, over the silence in the room, “but I hope for both our sakes that you’re the same as human biology. I saw the scans, but still…”

“Thank you.” The Doctor said, relieved. That was more kindness than she could ever hope to get.

“Don’t thank me yet.” She said, handing her a wet rag. She took it gladly, instantly washing her face of the blood.

“No, really,” She said, “You didn’t have to tell me about your wife. Or lie about the exam. It means a lot. In a place like this, it means even more.”

Yet, her eyes stayed downcast, ashamed. “I need to take pictures of you.” She said in a rush, “They’re required for...For the buyers.”

The Doctor winced, gripping her shirt in her hands tightly. That was absolutely not going to happen. Over her dead body. She was The Doctor, the greatest enemy or friend of the universe. She wasn’t going to have her pride diminished like that.

“If I don’t do it,” Doctor Hera said, a warning, “They will, and there will be consequences for you. I’ve seen it in person. Please, please don’t make me call them in here.”

She continued to grip her shirt in her hands, her eyes wandering down to her simple white sports bra. It was Yaz that picked it out for her, saying that she did so much running that she needed the support. She wasn’t particularly big, like River, but Yaz was right, running with a normal bra hurt.

The simple bit of fabric was suddenly a very big comfort.

The Doctor clenched her jaw, thinking of Yaz and her fam, of their safety. She nodded stiffly, getting up from the bed. “Could you…Turn around?” She asked her, knowing it was a ridiculous request.

“Of course.”

And she did. The Doctor took off her boots and socks, shivering as her bare feet touched the cold tiled floor. Okay, this was fine. She was just changing. It was fine. She undid her trousers next, letting them fall to the floor. She was in her bra and underwear, and she was frozen. Her hands went to take off her bra, and she suddenly found herself incapable.

The Doctor took a shaky breath. She had been in a confession dial for more than one billion years, she had died more times than she could count, she had walked through the fires of the Time War and survived, she had watched her greatest friend die in her arms, she had lost her entire family…Standing naked in front of a stranger was nothing compared to all of that.

She threw the sports bra off as if it were on fire and, before her brain caught up with her hands, her last piece of clothing was thrown aside as well. She felt…She felt awful; vulnerable in a way that hurt. She was always a bit prudish and now it was coming back in the worst way possible.

Tears made their way to her eyes, “Ok.”

Doctor Hera had the medical scanner back in her hands. To her credit, she did his utmost to keep her eyes either above her head or on her face. She didn’t make one comment when she took a second to wipe a stray tear off her face as she stood against the wall.

“I have clothes for you, but you’re allowed to keep your clothes if you want.” She said, opening a new drawer. It was a simple pair of blue medical scrubs. Though she hated it, she knew that they would protect her more than her current outfit of choice.

She grabbed the gown from her, again surprised when a pair of simple cotton underwear was provided. She put them on without complaint and snatched her sports bra before she changed her mind.

“They make you work,” She said, again with her back turned, “You’re strong, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, one of the prettier ones. They’ll probably put you with the kids to watch over them. They won’t want you injured.”

“You said you’ve been here two years,” She said, putting on her coat and boots, but leaving the rest of the outfit. Yeah, she really didn’t want to hear about what they would do with her, “Has anyone ever escaped?”

She turned away once again, knocking on the door twice, “No,” She said, quietly, “Whoever tries it…They don’t try again.”

Fine then, she thought to herself, the Doctor wasn’t just going to be the first to escape, she was going to be the first to raise this place to the ground.

“I wish…” Doctor Hera paused. She still didn’t turn to look at her, “It was an honor to meet you.”

And then the door opened, a Rarfre guard blocking her only escape, and she was gone. She had a feeling that she would never see her ever again. The guard opened the door all the way for her, obviously intending for her to follow him.

Exhausted and humiliated, she did. Again, she was marched passed the rows and rows of people, all devoid of life. She was led back to the cell she was in when she arrived, but to her shock, the girl that she had saved before was there, fast asleep and curled up in a ball.

“You will look after her.” The Rarfre demanded. He pushed her inside and then shut the cell closed. With that, she was alone.

The Doctor went over to the girl, worried for a moment when she didn’t stir in the slightest. Instead, the Doctor watched closely as her chest rose and fell. Even in her sleep, the girl didn’t look at peace.

She didn’t want to wake her. Who knows how long they’re allowed to sleep for? Instead, she sat down next to her, her thigh inches from the girl’s head, and did her best to shield her from sight. She took off her coat and draped it over the poor thing. Even then, the girl didn’t stop shivering.

She looked at the Latin words carved on the wall once again. She stared at them for hours, multiple stories of why someone would carve something like that there and coming up with worse options every time.

Ad Meliora. Towards better things.

The Doctor wondered, and wondered for a long time, if the person meant towards death.

And when she came to that realization, the girl had finally woken.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master had been stuck in the Kasavin’s dimension for twelve hours.

He wasn’t in a particular rush to leave. After all, he had done what he had set out to do. Plant the thought of Gallifrey – precious, despicable Gallifrey – in her head, and make her see the destruction he had done upon it. Honestly, he had won this time around, even if his plan with the Kasavin didn’t work.

The Kasavin weren’t the end-goal. They were in the big game now.

He smiled wickedly, deciding that he had spent enough time in this stupid prison. Honestly, did the Doctor really think this could hold him? Did she really think he didn’t have a way to leave?

He got the miniature vortex manipulator out of his pocket and strapped it to his wrist. He thought for a moment where to go next. He didn’t need to do much, except maybe try to decode more of the Time Lord matrix. He had about eight months until the Doctor was due to find the Cyberium.

So, he went to Earth, just for the hell of it. Besides, he was craving some chips.

He entered the coordinates, going for two days after his failed Kasavin plan, and transported away without another word.

It was light out, way too light compared to his pathetic prison, and he found himself shielding his eyes. Humans barely even noticed his sudden appearance. Thankfully, he was much cleverer than the Doctor, and had managed to place himself directly in front of a crisp shop.

He was just about to lift some money from some teenaged girl that wasn’t paying attention when he heard the familiar sound of the Doctor’s TARDIS.

He groaned, watching as her obnoxious police box appeared across the street. Come on, she couldn’t be that upset about his escape? She had to of expected it! And she was too much of a coward to want to talk about Gallifrey now. She should be off in the stars, running further and further away from her problems.

The Master stomped over towards the doors, arms crossed, too curious for his own good. It took a good three minutes for the doors to open, and it was with a surprise that no one came out.

Patting the door (he still remembered his time of Missy. She had loved this ship just as much as the Doctor) he gave a silent thank you and entered, eyes glancing over her new design. It was…Bright, and kind of obnoxious, and he loved it.

He would never admit it.

The humans were screaming at one another, oblivious to the danger they were in. He watched from the entryway, unable to contain his smile at how stupid they were. Honestly, how she called them friends the Master would never understand.

“We can’t just stay here and do nothing!” The girl was screaming. Huh, she was crying? The Master was loving this already, “She would go back for us!”

“You heard the doc,” The older one – uh – Graham or something, said, “She said not to go back.”

“Yeah,” The youngest boy – kind of boring if you asked the Master – agreed, “Besides, we don’t know how to fly the TARDIS.”

“You heard that thing!” Yasmin continued, a firecracker. The Master liked her the best – she at least had some brains, “It’ll…It’ll sell her! Or worse! You know it’ll be worse than that! We can’t do nothing.

The Master’s smile dropped. Sell her? What in Rassilon’s name did that mean? Where was the Doctor? Thoughts of scaring the humans disappeared instantly.

Where is she?” She growled to the group, all of whom shrieked in freight. He made his way to the console, looking at all of them as they stared at him in shock. Honestly. A bunch of apes – worse than that!

“How did you-”

“Ask another stupid question and I’ll feed you to a snake,” He said, looking at the girl. Probably his best chance of getting answers, “You! Where’s the Doctor?”

“T-taken,” The girl stuttered, “We were on a planet known for shopping – the Doctor said something about needing a part for the TARDIS – and then this…Alien came out of nowhere. It was trying to kidnap me, or sell me, and the Doctor…The Doctor took my place.”

The Master’s stomach dropped. No. She wouldn’t have. Well, yes, to save her pathetic humans, she would, wouldn’t she? He was suddenly furious with her – she was so stupid. There was only one reason the Doctor didn’t fight off a Rarfre and of course it had to be for the idiotic human girl.

Why couldn’t she carry weapons on her?

He slammed his palm against the console, furious. She was so dumb. So heroic. And worse, she was a woman now. If it was truly the Rarfre that took her, he didn’t dare think of what they were doing to her now. The Master didn’t wish anything like that on her or his worst enemy.

“Get out.” He growled at the humans, not needing their uselessness in his vicinity. And, honestly, the idea of murdering them just because they weren’t able to protect her was a bit stronger than he could handle.

“We’re not going anywhere, mate,” One of them dared to say, “We won’t let you take the TARDIS.”

“The TARDIS let me in, you blithering waste of space,” He said, his insults clumsy in his worry, “She’s the one that wants me here. Unlike you, I’m useful.”

They all winced. Good. They deserved to feel awful for their ineptitude.

“Can you save her?” The girl asked, hope in her eyes. Oh no, the Master didn’t ever want to be the cause of that particular emotion.

Could he? Possibly. It would be hard, ridiculously hard, and he couldn’t just blow up the place. That place was more guarded than Stormcage. He would need to be disguised, have a plan in place, perhaps even buy the Doctor.

He felt sick at that. No matter the hurts between them, the amount of history that she yet knew about, she didn’t deserve to be sold like a piece of furniture. In the most backwards way, he cared for her. She was the only one that truly noticed him.

A memory of Missy came to him. The one with Thing one and Thing two…Bill and Nordale. That time that the Doctor decided to test her. It was going pretty well she had thought, even if she couldn’t keep the names of the Doctor’s friends straight. Of course, in typical them fashion, it ended with them both betrayed and dying.

“What does he call you?” The memory of Missy whispered, “Companions, pets…Snacks?”

There must be reason the Doctor keeps these things around. Maybe they could help him. At the very least, he could use them for a distraction if things get dicey.

He moved towards the TARDIS console without a word, looking at the screens. Right, a couple of millenniums past this group of companions decade. The best chance he got of getting the Doctor out was truly having the credits to buy her.

First order of business? Get some money.

“Come on then, disposables,” He said, throwing down the lever. The TARDIS listened to him flawlessly, “We have a bank to rob.”

To no one’s surprise, they had complaints.

Chapter Text

The girl woke slowly.

The Doctor watched her as she stretched, eyes still closed. It had been a long, long time since she was a parent, but she could certainly tell that the girl wasn’t happy with the sudden awakening.

“Hey,” The Doctor whispered to her, quiet as to not scare her, “Time to get up.”

The girl was fast – she was up in flash, eyes wide and blinking, rubbing the sleep from them as fast as possible. She tried to move away, but her back hit the wall before she got far. “Who-you?”

The Doctor’s heart melted. She so desperately wanted to gather the girl in her arms, comfort her as best as she could, but she didn’t want to startle her. “Hey, it’s alright!” She said, smiling, “We were placed here together, yeah? You were asleep when I got here.”

“Are you mean?” The girl asked, too serious for a child, “The last lady was mean.”

The Doctor shook her head, “No, sweetie. I’m not mean. In fact my friends tell me that I’m a big ‘old goofball!”

“What’s goofball?” The girl was calming down. That was good.

“Well,” The Doctor said, pretending to think hard about it, “It’s sort of like a person who likes jokes! I bet you got some really good jokes.”

The girl brightened, “Nooo! But my daddy has the best jokes! My momma calls them ‘dad jokes’ ‘cos he’s my dad!”

The girl had a family. Of course the girl had a family. The Doctor wondered if the Rarfre killed them, or if the girl was simply snatched off the streets.

“I bet your dad does have better jokes then me.” The Doctor became fake-serious, “Now, I have a special mission for you. It’s really important! Do you think you can do it?”

“A mission?” The girl asked, excited. The Doctor loved kids. “I can do it!”

“I know you can!” The Doctor congratulated. “You’re very brave! Now, the mission. The mission is… telling me your name and how old you are.”

“Wat!” The girl said, “That’s easy. I’m Kara Traver and I’m nine…Nine and a quarter!!”

“Kara!” The Doctor cried, “What a beautiful name, Kara. Very unique. Excellent name, better than mine really.”

“Better than yours?” She asked, wonder in her eyes, “Woah…” Then, she became confused. “What’s your name?”

The Doctor smiled wide, “I’m the Doctor!”

“That’s really cool, Doctor!” Kara complimented, such a precious girl. She shivered suddenly and it was then that the Doctor realized her coat had been tossed to the floor when Kara had gotten up.

“Cold?” The Doctor asked. She picked up her coat, lifting it up for the girl so that she could slide her small arms into it, “Wanna wear my coat? It’s got amazing pockets.”

Kara didn’t hesitate. She ran towards her clumsily, bless little kid feet, and the Doctor helped her into it, unable to contain her smile at the very large sleeves on her. Together, they rolled up the sleeves, letting her little hands out. The Doctor waved back when Kara waved both her freed hands at her.

“You’re funny, Doctor!” Kara complimented. Again, the Doctor’s heart melted when she noticed one of her bottom teeth was growing in.

The Doctor took a half-sitting bow, “Thank you, thank you very much!”

Kara giggled loudly, causing the Doctor to laugh with her. What a bright spirit she had, even after everything she had been through.

Even with the coat, the girl continued to shiver. She wasn’t sick, was she? She knew that Time Lords ran hotter than humans, but she couldn’t imagine it was that cold in here. “Still cold? Do you want a hug?”

The girl nodded excitedly, smiling wide, “My momma says that hugs are for friends. Are you my friend?”

“Would you like to be friends?” The Doctor asked, letting the girl come closer. She decided to sit right next to her, and the Doctor was quick to wrap her arm around Kara, letting her head rest on her shoulder. She was freezing!

“You’re my best friend.” Kara whispered in her ear, as if it were a secret.  

The Doctor squeezed her tightly. Having feelings right now was exactly the opposite thing of what she should be doing. In fact, forming any sort of attachment could make things worse in a hell like this.

Yet, as she stared at the girl, who was huddling closer and closer to her, she couldn’t help but be reminded of her first born. She, too, was a cuddler, even when Gallifreyans weren’t exactly kind about human contact. However, the Doctor (and the Master) had never cared about Gallifreyan taboos.

It felt like a kick to the hearts, having another child so trusting and so full of life next to her.

She knew, right then and there, she couldn’t let anything happen to her.

They were silent for a moment. Without realizing it, she found herself tracing Gallifreyan on Kara’s arm, words such as safety, and love, and hope. It felt right, even when she knew that she had to ask Kara some painful questions.

“Hey, Kara,” She asked, “What do you normally do all day?”

“I play with the other kids a lot! Alexios and Lilly are my friends! They like to play I spy when we get bored. And-And when they let us outside, we get to play on the swings.”

Outside. There was hope for them yet. “When do you get to go outside?”

Kara shrugged against her, “Not a lot. I’ve been her a looong time and I’ve only been outside once.”

“And how long have you’ve been here?”

The girl held up two fingers. “Miss Helios told me that I got here two months ago, but that was forever ago. And Miss Helios isn’t here anymore.”

Two months. The Doctor couldn’t imagine life here for two months. She refused to imagine it.

“But you don’t stay very long,” Kara continued, “Um…My other people have only been with me for a couple of days. Then they don’t come back.”

So the Doctor was an expendable parent. Again, she wasn’t shocked. No wonder Kara thought the other women with her was a mean. To her, they had just disappeared with no reason.

Wait, another thought nagged at her, why was Kara here so long? Though the universe had always been beautiful, the Doctor knew that there was just as much light as there was dark. She knew that there were beings that would pay to have Kara.

It was a mystery for another day.

“I’m sorry about the other people,” The Doctor said, “But I promise to try and stay with you, okay?”

Kara, with her blue eyes, looked at her. With a complete serious face, she brought up her hand and held out one pinky, “You pinky promise?”

The Doctor took her own pinky and hooked them together, “Pinky promise! You can’t break those, can you?”

“Nope!” Kara said, cheerfully. “My momma never breaks pinky promises.”

Kara sighed suddenly, looking out towards the cell bars, “We’ll have to leave soon.”

The Doctor looked to where she was looking, “How do you know?”

Kara used her little fingers to point towards the guard walking passed the cell, “He lets us out, and then we go eat. But we’re not allowed to talk. We have to be really quiet.”

Kara was right. The guard came to her cell and unlocked it. Kara was up first, the Doctor’s coat dragging behind her. Quickly, the Doctor rushed to get it off of her, worried that it would cause her to trip, and threw it back into the cell. Together, with Kara in front of her, they made their way to the opposite side of where the medical examination was.

The women lined up without complaint. In fact, many looked relieved. A young Silurian girl stood behind her, breathes nearly on the Doctor’s neck as they all lined up single file. For a moment, she really felt like seeing what would happen if the Doctor moved just a bit to the left, but it was the thought of Kara getting caught in the crossfire that stopped her.

They were led to the only other door that the Doctor could see. On the other side of it, a very large – the Doctor loathed to say it – cafeteria was in front of her. Silver, metal tables lined the entire room in what she could only describe as a prisoner’s canteen.

Kara guided her to a table all the way to the back. At this table, a mixture of adults and small children sat together peacefully. When all of them were at the table and sitting, the Doctor counted three children to three adults. Noticing that the other tables didn’t have any children, she figured that this was what Doctor Hera meant when she said she was too pretty to be anything other than a nanny.

The women at her table glanced at her, one of them giving her reassuring smiles, to which the Doctor immediately returned. The children, to the Doctor’s absolute delight, began speaking to each other in sign language.

How they acquired such a talent, she would never know, but she was going to kiss the person who taught them. Excited, the Doctor tapped Kara.

“That’s brilliant, K-a-r-a!” She signed, “You are very good at sign language!”

The other children’s jaws dropped. Before she knew it, they were all signing at her. The Doctor hardly knew where to look! She signed slowly “one at a time!” and all of them stopped.

“Hello!” She signed, “I’m the D-o-c-t-o-r! Can you tell me your names?”

They went in an organized circle, each of them smiling wide when they realized that they gained a new friend. They complimented her coat, just as the Doctor complimented something about them. They loved her.

Another woman, this time a Kahler, joined when the last child went.

“I am S-o-s-a,” She said, “I taught them basic signs. Are you fluent?”

“Yes!” The Doctor signed, “It’s been a long time, but I can understand. Are you deaf, Sosa?”

“Not me, but my father was.”

“I think it’s brilliant that you taught these kids. Giving them a way to communicate can only help them.”

“I thought so as well,” Sosa continued, “But I fear I won’t be here much longer. I’ve just finished my training and they told me I’ll be going to the Mansion soon.”

About a million questions formed just from that short answers. What ‘training’ was Sosa referring to? What was the mansion? Why did she think she wouldn’t be here much longer? So many questions, yet not enough time to ask them.

Kara tugged on her sleeve, “Food!”

And with that, a couple of simple serving robots came to their table, depositing what didn’t look like food in front of her. The Doctor was convinced that it was near solid cement and was even more so when she tried to lift the plastic spoon from the bowl. At least she was given water.

She also took note that they had robots here. That could come in handy later.

“You get used to it.” Sosa signed to her, probably noticing the Doctor’s look of disgust, “And you will want to eat it. They won’t be giving you anything else.”

The Doctor nodded, regretting that this face seemed to be unable to hide her emotions. It was very frustrating sometimes. She watched carefully as Kara inhaled her own food, even daring to scrape all of it off the rim of the bowl.

Without a word, the Doctor pushed what she had left of the poorly made oatmeal, maybe more than half, to Kara. Quickly, she switched the two bowls, making sure that no one but her current table noticed.

A Time Lord didn’t need to eat as much as a human. She could go days without food. From the look of the rest of the women at the table, however, what she did was a very bad idea.

Kara seemed to think so as well. She switched the bowls back immediately, looking fearful. “No!” She signed.

“You can’t trade food rations!” Sosa quickly signed quickly, “If they noticed, you would have been put in isolation.”

“Why do they care?”

“You’re lucky you’re beautiful, and skinny, already,” Sosa signed, “Each person is put on a special diet. Nutrients are carefully chosen out. If you don’t finish your food, you are also punished.”

Noted. The Doctor looked down at her sludge, but was quick to shovel it into her mouth, trying very hard not to taste it. She loathed her Time Lord sensitivity more than anything at the moment.

Before she knew it, the robots from before came back, taking their bowls and cups away. In an organized format that the Doctor missed by half a second, they were all standing again, again forming a perfect line. The Doctor’s eye twitched at such blatant following of rules.

Kara turned to look at her, making sure that she was still there. Thoughts of causing chaos died instantly. She had someone to think of now.

This time, the children and their assigned females were led separately. Instead of going back towards their cells, a guard led them to a new door. It was a…Classroom, if the Doctor had to give it a name. A single chalk board was in the front of the room while small desks were facing it. It was close to the Doctor’s worse nightmare, and she had been a university Professor.

“Hi,” Sosa greeted again, “I see you’ve been paired with Kara.”

“Yeah, she’s brilliant!” The Doctor said, glad to see a friendly face, “Very brave, very smart.”

“Don’t get attached.” Another girl commented, sitting on one of the desks while the children, including Kara, played a wild game of tag around the room.

The Doctor stared at the new girl, another Kahler, much harsher than Sosa’s facial features. She looked jagged and warn, clothes dirty and torn. This one was a fighter.

“Kara told me that women leave suddenly,” The Doctor asked, “I’m assuming they’re…”

“Sold?” The new girl said, “Ding-ding-ding we have a genius.”

The Doctor blushed, just a bit peeved. She shouldn’t be, considering the hell that this girl probably went through, but at least she still had some pride.

“Ignore her,” Another said, kind eyes bright, “Thalia is a bit of a crank, but she means well. I’m Roxie. How are you, dear? I know this is a lot to take in. You were wonderful with the kids back there. Did you have a family?”

Unending kindness was always a surprise to the Doctor, but there was something about being on the receiving end of it that brought tears to her eyes. “Haven’t had a family for a long time, but raising a child doesn’t leave anytime soon. And all of this is…Fine. Been worse, honestly.”

“You’ve…” Roxie blinked, “You’ve been worse?”

Thankfully, Kara came running up to her in that moment, two other girls trailing behind her. “Doctor!” Kara cried, “These are my friends! Alexios and Lilly.”

The Doctor kneeled down to their level, smiling wide at their shy faces. Goodness, they were adorable. Alexios was a Drahvins, with wonderful purple dots covering her fair forehead. Lilly, meanwhile, was also human, with lovely russet, reddish-brown skin. “Hello!” The Doctor greeted, “Wow, look at how big you two are! Nearly as big as me!”

They giggled, and their childish smiles felt like heaven, “No!” Alexios said, “You’re big ‘cos you’re a grown up! It’ll take forever to be your size!”

The Doctor titled her head in play, “But I’m pretty sure I’m your size! Look!” And with that, the Doctor curled into a tight ball, trying her best to be small, “See!” She said, her voice a bit muffled, “Small as a pea, just like you girls!”

The giggled loudly, Kara poking her back lightly, “Doctor! Can I get a piggyback ride, please?”

The Doctor sprang up, all energy, “A piggyback ride? I don’t know. Are you sure you can handle a piggyback ride?”

Kara nodded enthusiastically, up and down her head went in a dizzying matter, “Yes!”

“Me too!” Lilly asked, eyes adorably wide. The Doctor was weak.

“Alright, everyone!” She said. Now, three children stared excitedly at her, jumping up and down. Their excitement was contagious.

“Form a line! The Doctor express can only do one at a time! Come on, Kara. You first. You asked so nicely after all. Manners are very important, or so I’m told.”

Kara jumped into her arms and the Doctor couldn’t help but lift her above her head instead of on her back. Making sure she had a good grip on her, the Doctor lifted her up and down and began to run from one end of the room to another, making dramatic whooshing noises as she did so. The kids were screaming in joy.

The Doctor, for a brief moment in a hell, was happy.  

“Uh, Doctor?” Roxie asked her, just as she had released Lilly, “The kids are supposed to be at their desks in a couple of minutes. They’ll need to have their lessons soon.”

Lessons? How in Rassilon’s name did they give kids lessons here. Don’t get the Doctor wrong, education was important, but what could they possibly teach them when there was no writing utensils or textbooks in sight?

“Right!” The Doctor said, putting down the last girl, “You’ve heard Roxie, you rambunctious lot! Time for…Lessons. Come on, now, to your desks!”

They groaned, but they did listen to her. Shocking, seeing as she wasn’t usually the one to enforce rules. The Doctor moved to the front of the room with the rest of the adults… She said adults, but Sosa looked to be less than twenty years old.

“What are you teaching them?” The Doctor asked Sosa and Roxie.

They grimaced, and it was Thalia, the cranky one, that answered her, “How to be good, obedient slaves, of course.”

The Doctor’s hearts stilled in her chest, “That's not funny.”

“And I'm not joking. You haven’t wondered why kids are here so long? They use them at the Mansion. They’re the servants while we’re the ones on display. We have the wonderful opportunity to teach them how to serve champagne to rich assholes.”

“I won’t be a part of that,” The Doctor said, stern, “I’m not teaching these girls how to take orders lying down.”

“We know, dear,” Roxie said, trying to comfort her, “We hate it as much as you, but there’s… Consequences to not following their rules.”

Sosa moved her scrubs from her shoulder, revealing a thick, jagged scar that went from the middle of her collarbone to the end of her shoulder. It…it looked like someone had burned it shut.

The Doctor, again, felt sick. “I’m so sorry.”

Sosa shrugged, “I’m one of the lucky ones. That’s all they did to me when I refused to help teach the children. At least they let me teach them sign language. I had to convince them that it would be helpful in staying quiet.”

Bile rose in the Doctor’s throat, “I can’t do this.”

“Then stand aside,” Thalia hissed, “And don’t let them see you do nothing.”

The three other girls grabbed something from the wall – serving trays – and began to hand the trays to the girls, who looked excited about it. The Doctor was going to be sick.

“Okay!” Roxie say, fake enthusiasm thick, “Now, who remembers how to hold their tray? Can you demonstrate?”

It was Kara that raised her hand, causing the Doctor’s heart to freeze. With practiced precision, she raised her small hands to balance the tray on her hands and shoulder – a perfect, little server.

“Excellent, Kara!” Sosa said, and the Doctor’s horror only continued to grow. Her legs suddenly felt weak, and she found herself with her back against the wall.

“The prisoner will stand.”

The voice echoed across the room, and it was only then that she noticed the security cameras and speakers in the ceiling. The Doctor clenched her jaw, crossing her arms. The prisoner certainly would not. She would suffer the same burns Sosa did before she taught sweet, precious Kara how to listen to orders without question.

“No.”

The one door opened again, a Rarfre guard coming into the room. The children went silent, eyes downcast, and it only gave the Doctor another reason to defy them. She crossed her arms, looking the guard straight in the eyes.

“You will stand, or you will be punished.”

“I’m a Time Lord,” The Doctor told them, “I’ve seen the end of the universe and the beginning of it – I’ve walked the sands of time twice, saved and killed more than one person could ever imagine. I’m the Doctor and you can’t make me.

The whole room froze, watching as she breathed harshly through her anger. “Go on, then,” The Doctor said, holding out her arms, “Drag me to whatever torture room you have. I promise you, it will not change a thing.”

The guard said nothing. Honestly, he looked less than impressed. He stalked towards her, grabbing her outstretched arm in a bone crushing grip, but the Doctor didn’t even flinch. Instead, she used her other arm to grab the monster’s forearm. With a feral scream, the Doctor used all of her strength to fling him into the wall behind her, its claws wrecking across her arm, but she barely felt it.

The guard let out a howl of agony. No doubt she had broken something in its body. It crumpled to the floor, but the Doctor wasn’t done. She went to kick it in the ribs, not willing to let it hurt anyone else in the room, but she was forced to stop when another guard harshly grabbed her by her hair.

It was much more painful than she ever thought it could be. She felt her hair get ripped out of her skull and it took everything for the Doctor not to shriek. Instead, her hands were forced behind her back and quickly held together with thick shackles. To the Doctor’s horror, there was no room for movement, and her shoulders cried out in agony.

“Doctor!” Kara was screaming, along with the rest of the children. The women were just barely holding the children back. “Doctor, Doctor!”

“It’s alright,” The Doctor said, yelling to Kara even as she was pushed out of the room, “It’s alright, Kara! I’ll be back soon!” After all, they couldn’t kill her. She was too valuable.

And, even as the door closed and Kara’s cries diminished, she felt like she had won something.

“Ad Meliora.” She whispered to herself.

To better things.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master was three seconds from throttling the one named Ryan.

He had tripped over one of the bank’s security measures, causing the entire place to go on lockdown. Currently, three bank tellers were searching each person, looking for the very access key that the Master currently had stashed in his jacket pocket.

“We really have to get out of here.”

No kidding, you one hearted walking exposition. The Master was trying ever so hard not to murder the Doctor’s companions, but it was getting harder and harder each moment that passed. Before he had a considered the thought of leaving them to get arrested while he made his getaway with the money, one of the bank tellers was in front him.

“Reason for business?”

The Master plastered on the biggest smile he could. Before he could answer, the girl’s arm wrapped around his middle, “Sorry, my boyfriend really isn’t the social type. I dragged him here for an errand! I mean, I just can’t believe this is happening!”

It took everything in the Master not to gag. How dare this little human. Boyfriend! Honestly, he would have rather been jailed. And the gall to wrap her arms around him! Was this why the Doctor liked them so much?

The bank teller was charmed, “Oh, sorry miss! I know, this is really odd circumstances.”

Ryan and Graham were already getting pat down. They were free to go. Damn, it would have been interesting to see them dragged away.

Yaz smiled, something very alluring if the Master was being honest, and fluttered her eyes at the young human, “Well, a bit of excitement never killed anyone. Right?”

It was then that the Master felt what she was doing. Her hand was slowly moving up inside his jacket, reaching for her pocket. Oh, clever girl.

“Are you flirting with my girlfriend?” The Master said, pulling Yaz closer to him, up against his chest. Easily, Yaz’s hand traveled into his jacket.

“Relax, love,” Yaz replied, pushing off him, looking annoyed. Maybe she really was, “I was just having a conversation!” And then she was back staring at the bank teller, eyes all wide again. Sickening.

He watched as Yaz passed off the key behind her back to Graham, who easily slide it into his pockets. Apparently, this group was more intelligent than he gave them credit for. Now that was annoying.

Another bank teller searched him, and the Master had to try very hard not to kill him for getting too close. Luckily, he was cleared fast enough and so was Yaz (his new favorite). They made their way slowly back to the TARIDS, the humans just barely able to continue their smiles. Disgusting.

Ryan and Graham were congratulating Yaz for her quick thinking just as they made it through the TARDIS doors, Ryan making jokes about her flirting ability, to which she blushed spectacularly. Ugh, humans. So embarrassing.  

“The doc is going to be right cross with us when she learned we just stole millions of dollars.”

The Master looked towards Graham, “If she’s alive, you mean.”

The TARDIS shocked him, literally. He yelped, wiggling his hand to get rid of the feeling. Fine, she was alive then. He got the message loud and clear.

“You deserved that.” Yaz commented.

The Master rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything. “A bit more than one million dollars, contradicting the starting bid of 600,000,” he told them, “I’m almost offended. I was convinced she would only go for 20,000.”

“How was she your friend?” Ryan asked him, looking too furious for someone that almost jeopardized their entire mission.  

“Don’t mistake my jokes for friendship with you,” The Master warned, “You’ll find yourself with less fingers than when you arrived.”

But Ryan didn’t seem frightened by the threat, “The moment we get the Doctor back, I can’t wait to personally kick you off her TARDIS.”

The Master hummed in thought, “Perhaps the thumb first. That’s the most useful one, after all. Not like you need it anyway; you’ll probably fumble with whatever you’re holding no matter what.”

Ryan moved to punch him, causing the Master to smile wide. Yes. This is exactly what he wanted – stress the pets out so much that they no longer wanted to travel with the wonderful Doctor.

Ryan Sinclair!” Graham yelled, holding Ryan back. How disappointing. He would have loved an opportunity to throw him.

“We need you,” Yaz said, eyes dark as she eyed him, “We get it. That doesn’t mean you get to threaten us. And we know that you care about her – you wouldn’t be here unless you did.”

He hated that she was right. He, unfortunately, did care for the Doctor, even he had his own plans to destroy her. There was too much history between them for him to simply let it go. Not only that, there was too much history between them to let her get sold. The idea made his skin crawl.

That was not something he could scare away. He had no doubt that she was resisting every single treatment the Rarfre were doing to her. The things they could do to her to make her compliant – it sickened him. Who knew if she would be the same by the time he got her out?

He moved to the screens, ignoring their conversation in its entirety, using the TARDIS’s telepathic circuits to find what he was looking for. Images of women, slaves with numbers attached to them, zoomed passed him, the TARDIS trying as fast as she could to find the Doctor.

Ding! Almost exactly three months after the day she was kidnapped, she was due to make her first appearance in the infamous Mansion.

Three months.

He didn’t curse often, but it seemed like a fitting time. Three months. Three months of hell and the Master couldn’t do anything to speed up that time. She would have to live through everything – every painful moment – until he had a chance to rescue her from the Mansion.

The Master had never been there. He had no desire to buy a pet or companion. No matter what kind of evil he thought he was, it had never crept close to forcing someone to serve him. He had killed a man for simply telling him about the place.

The Master knew that the image they had was actually of the Doctor naked, stripped off everything, but the TARDIS did him the favor of only showing him her face.

“Oh my god.” Yaz whispered.

She did look awful. There was some blood on her temple, still bleeding when they took the image, and her eyes: there really were not words that could describe the look she had. Agony would be the closet he could come to, but even that didn’t seem to be sufficient enough.

He remembered, for a moment, how prudish the Doctor had always been. Kissing was one thing, but sex to the Doctor had always been precious. It was love making to her, not something to do in her free time. He remembered the first time they had made love to each other, awkward and stumbling and wonderful, and he shuddered to think that another being was taking away her choice in it.

The Master gripped the console, nails cutting into his skin, “Five hours of sleep. Then we have a party to get to. Now, get out.”

They listened. Thankfully, they disappeared into the TARDIS, the TARDIS telling him that they had locked their doors. Good. Even he didn’t know what he would do in his rage.

He stroked the TARDIS’s console, sighing when she beeped at him gently. His eyes found the picture of her again. It hurt to study it, but he was never one to focus on his own pain. He searched and searched, looking desperately for just a little bit of that age-old heroics that she always seemed to have.

He could see it, somewhat, in the way that her head was held high. It wasn’t her usual, but it was there. Possibly. Maybe he was looking too much into it. Maybe he could see it better if he saw the whole image – if he saw the way her shoulders were held, her position.

“Show me.” He demanded at the TARDIS, who beeped harshly at him this time. The screen she had of the Doctor fizzled but stayed only on her face.

The Master didn’t even try for threats, “I need to know, please.”

The TARDIS said nothing this time. It took a couple of seconds, but she eventually caved, showing him the full image.

He tried so absurdly hard not to stare at her. He could have only guessed what sort of curves she had been given through that horrendous outfit she had chosen. So, he was surprised to see that she was much more well…Endowed than he expected. But he wasn’t focusing on that.

Instead, his eyes fell on the stab wounds in her shoulders. They were obviously cleaned and cared for (and the Master didn’t even want to think of the monster that did that) but it still looked painful. No wonder she had tears in her eyes. No, that wouldn’t be why she was nearly crying, would it be? Physical pain had never stopped the Doctor.

It was the humiliation – the stripping of her pride that she couldn’t stand.

The Master couldn’t stand it either.

The Doctor’s price tag of 600,000 credits flashed just below her ankles, obnoxious and horrible. The Master was going to wring the neck of the one who wrote it. No, he was going to burn every single one of them to the ground.

“Enough.” He whispered, glad when the TARDIS took the image of the Doctor away. He felt hyperaware of his body, burning in its anger, and hoped that the five hours would pass quickly.

After all, the Doctor had three months to live through. Three excruciatingly long months of utter hell. Without a word, he walked through the TARDIS’s hallway, opening a door to the room he found when he was a prisoner on this ship.

Inside, broken and smashed… Everything – mirrors, metal pipes, delicate items, hard to destroy items… This time, the TARDIS provided a wooden baseball bat. He smiled, twirling it around, and slammed it as hard as he could into an already smashed mirror.

The more he destroyed, the more his anger showed. He screamed, loud and raw, as he slammed the bat into a large glass table, watching shards explode everywhere. He was breathing harshly, breathes uneven and wrecked. He dropped the bat suddenly, he hands going to his face, rubbing his eyes.

A word… No… A phase came to him suddenly, as his hearts pounded out the sound of drums.

Ad Meliora.

The Master fell to his knees, knowing that it was from her - that her TARDIS was sending him the same message that the Doctor was using to keep herself going.

To better things.

Chapter Text

The Master met the humans back in the console room. He was dressed to the nine’s (thank you TARDIS wardrobe) and, considering he was posing as a human, a simple but form fitting tux. His cufflinks had two different functions, one of which was the deadly kind, while his jacket pocket had the Doctor’s famous psychic paper.

None of them looked like they got any sleep, but the Master didn’t have the energy to care. In fact, he didn’t care at all. “You’ll need to get changed,” The Master told them, sneering at their plain clothes. Twenty-first century humans – no taste. “We’re going to one of the most ambiguous party in the world. Impossible to get into. Well, unless you’re me.”

“You mean, unless you have a TARDIS.

The Master huffed, “Yes, give all the credit to the sentient spaceship.”

“So we gotta dress like that, then?” Graham asked him, “All proper?”

The Master rolled his eyes, “I suppose not. I mean, seeing your brains splashed on the walls when they think you wondered there by accident? Well worth not wearing a tie.”

“Come on, son,” Graham said, just before Ryan could say anything, “Think of the Doctor, yeah?”

The Master raised his eyebrows, a challenge, but the boy was sadly too intelligent to pick a fight. The old man dragged the boy away, no doubt heading towards the wardrobe. Yaz was just about to leave with them, but the Master stopped her. “And you,” The Master said, “We’re heading in the lion’s den of lion’s dens. Women will be…On display.”

The Master looked at her, dead in the eyes, “I’ll give you this warning once: look anything other than disinterested, and you will end up the same way. Do not help them. If you’re incapable of doing that, don’t come.

The girl looked properly scared, but the Master could see the moment she overcame it. She squared her shoulders, head held high… Was that pride in his chest? “I’m coming. The Doctor did this to save me, I owe it to her.”

The Master nodded, turning away from her, “Twenty minutes and we land. Show up late and I’ll leave without you.”

“You didn’t have to warn me,” Yaz said, just before she made her way into the hallway, “So…Thanks.”

She disappeared into the TARDIS’s, and the Master’s lips twisted into a smile. The TARDIS beeped at him, something sweet and harmonizing, and the Master couldn’t help but pat the console, “Oh quiet, you. Meddlesome thing. No wonder the Doctor likes you.”

The TARDIS lights blinked, showing off. He rolled his eyes good naturally. With the extra time, he allowed himself to re-check his weapons, his gold cufflink bright as he ran his thumb over it, the TARDIS’s screens lighting up and reveal his coordinates. Excellent. His escape would be easy enough then.

He would buy the Doctor, get the five of them in a private room, and then call the TARDIS to him. The worst part of all of this way navigating his way around disgusting conversations and not murdering anyone.

But he was lying to himself. No, the worst part of all of this was seeing the Doctor’s eyes, lifelike and older than time, filled with an eerie emptiness that he knew he could never fix. He knew he would not be able to contain himself if the Doctor, his oldest friend, came back broken.

When the humans returned, all of them, including Yaz, in a suit, he handed them a small communication bug.

“This will allow us to talk to one another telepathically,” The Master explained, putting the small patch, much like a human band aid, just below the collar of his shirt. “Don’t lose it.”

“What do we just think ‘hey Yaz, pass that here’ and – holy…”

The message played back to all of them, Ryan’s thoughts echoing in the Master’s brain. “Yes, glad to see you’re capable of thoughts. I had my doubts. Now, only use this in emergencies, understand?”

“Do – that is beyond freaky, isn’t it – does it have any side effects?”

“Only my increasing desire to murder you going up.”

And with that, the Master filled the levers of the TARDIS, flying her to their destination. She complained, loudly, as they passed through the rather genius level shields of the moving ship, landing safely in a supply closet.

The Master walked over to the doors, hand on her handle, when he froze.

The Master was saving the Doctor.

If their past history was anything to go by, none of this would go as he planned.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxX

The Doctor was shoved into her cell, her hands outstretched to stop her from slamming her head into the wall. She felt the sting of small cuts against her palm, but it was nothing compared to the aching in the rest of her body.

“Doctor!”

And then a small body was upon her, hugging her leg, and anything physical the Doctor felt was instantly forgotten. The Doctor smiled, detaching Kara carefully while she kneeled back on the ground, gathering the girl in a proper hug.

She was crying in her shoulder – large gasps of air that sounded painful. Without realizing, the Doctor began rubbing her back, just as she done with both of her children in Gallifrey.

The Doctor shushed her gently, rocking her slightly, “It’s alright,” She said, “It’s okay now. No need for tears. I’m fine, Kara.”

“You-” The girl sobbed, “You were…Gone! And-And-”

“I’m here now, yeah?” The Doctor told her, clutching Kara’s shoulders gently when Kara pulled away from her. In another moment, the Doctor was using her sleeve to wipe away the tears on her face, “It’s alright. I’m not going anywhere.”

For now. A depressing thought, but one that would have to get used to.

Kara put her small head onto her shoulder, exhausted, but no longer sobbing. When the Doctor asked if she wanted to sleep, Kara nodded her head against her. The Doctor picked her up, holding in her groan of pain, and went to lean against the wall. As if she weighed nothing, the Doctor draped her across her outstretched legs, her head on her thigh while the rest of her body was on the ground. She grabbed her coat and laid it across her.

“Please don’t go.” Kara whispered.

The Doctor grabbed Kara’s hand, squeezing tightly, “I won’t.”

Kara closed her eyes, almost immediately falling into sleep. The Doctor, worried of nightmares, softly entered her mind, a common practice for Gallifreyan parents, chasing away any feeling of fear she had before it could even form. Finally, Kara relaxed against her.

The Doctor sighed, her eyes looking at the ceiling. She had met the man behind the curtain – a Diplosian named Talsar – a name she would commit to memory – that gave a rather boring monologue of becoming splendidly rich off her. He was crazed, and intelligent, and the Doctor had longed to punch him in his arrogant face. She was held back by the chains that the Refre had attached to her handcuffs.

The Doctor didn’t even try to talk the bastard out of it. Instead, she had said nothing, watching his temper grow the more she simply glared at him.

It had earned her a human torture technique from World War Two, water boarding, and also the sneers and jeers of the Rarfre as they stripped her of her clothing. She knew they did it to make her feeling inferior, to kill her spirit, but it didn’t stop her from feeling disgusting with herself.

They kicked her ribs as she tried desperately to regain her breath, raspatory bypass going insane, and she had felt nearly all of them on her right-side fracture. At one point, they had left her to simply hang by her wrists, naked and wet, and she could have sworn she was going insane.

They had released her after four hours and thirty-six minutes of absolute silence and dark. She had dropped to the ground like a puppet cut of its strings when they had removed the weight of the chains, unable to hold herself up. They didn’t care.

She had to ask to have prisoner scrubs. That was the worst part. She had stayed silent for too long, and the Rarfre seemed fine with dragging her back naked. She had to swallow what little pride she had left and beg to have her clothes back. They had laughed at her while she changed.

The Doctor shivered, more out of disgust than the cold. The Doctor put a hand to her ribs, wincing when she pressed too hard. None of them were broken or fractured, but it hurt to breathe, even if she tried so hard to ignore it.

She felt like death. No, she felt worse than death. She wanted to cry, scream, hurt… Yet nothing came out. Instead, she was left playing with Kara’s hair, the picture of calm. She was numb – being able to feel anything for herself.

The Doctor unwilling thought of Gallifrey, of the fires the Master had caused, of the people he had burned. She wondered why it seemed like such an old hurt now, considering that she had only found out no less than two weeks ago. She tried to gather some of the anger she had felt at her oldest enemy, yet that also wouldn’t sustain. Again, her emotions were blocked off.

Instead, she longed for the Master. She longed for her friend. She longed for the person that would probably already have a plan out of here. She longed to have someone tell her to stop her mopping and save the day. “As usual.” His voice said.

She laughed at herself, pathetically, only for her to get an awful reminder of how broken her body was.

She would need a healing coma – at least three hours of sleep. Considering all the other girls were back in their cells, and most were sleeping, this was only chance she had to do it. The Doctor closed her eyes, fingers still intertwined with Kara’s, and begged the universe to allow her time to heal.

After all, this was going to be her routine for Rassilon knows how long. With Kara safely in her arms, she closed her eyes and let herself sleep.

Her dreams were filled with the same darkness she had in her cell.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

It was to Kara’s urgent voice that she woke up.

“Doctor!” Kara was saying, shaking and poking her shoulder.

The Doctor opened her eyes, the room spinning as she tried to focus on the scared voice. “Kara?” She asked, trying so hard to come out of her healing coma.

“Doctor!” Kara cried, the relief clear on her face, “They’re coming!”

Disoriented, the Doctor watched as the Refre opened their cell door. Kara took her hand, unsuccessfully trying to drag her to her feet. “Please!” Kara cried, and that was all it took for the Doctor to make her way to her feet, swaying. Kara – sweet, brave Kara – led her by the hand to their spot in line.

The Doctor moved on autopilot, her feet dragging as her vision swam. She wasn’t done yet. A healing coma had always made her disoriented, but it was even worse when she was woken in the middle of it. Kara once again grabbed her hand, dragging her to the right table.

Thalia, Roxie, and Sosa looked at her with wide eyes when she sat down at her table. They probably looked more stunned than herself. Finally, her vision was clearing.

The children signed to her, wishing her a good morning, and the Doctor made sure to smile back at them, greeting them all personally, even as her hands shook.

“You don’t look good.” Sosa signed. “And Thalia wanted me to tell you you’re the stupidest person she had ever met.”

The Doctor smiled, looking towards Thalia, who was busy holding Lilly, who still looked half asleep. The Doctor would have never thought that Thalia would let herself become attached the children, but it was clear that she cared more than she admitted.

They all ate their food without signing. The children were shaken, staring at her as if she would disappear. Kara was still gripping her hand, even as she ate her food. She didn’t realize the effect she had on the them.

When they were led to the classrooms, the three women nearly attacked her.

“Are you alright, dear?” Roxie asked her, hushing a seething Thalia.

“Fine,” The Doctor said, just barely a lie, “Already healed.”

“What is?” Sosa asked, “Healed, I mean. Do you need anything? There’s some bandages in here.”

The Doctor smiled at their kindness, “No, thank you. Really, I heal faster than most.”

“Or they didn’t physically hurt you,” Thalia muttered, watching Lilly as she played with Kara and Alexios. “No, probably beat you a little, left you to think you might die. But I’m sure you survived, right? No need to worry, you’re fine now.”

The Doctor bristled and then stilled, reminding herself that they were in this together, “Yes, I am fine. I told you, I’ve been through worse.”

Oh, right. I’ve seen the end of the universe.” Thalia mocked, “This must be like a spa to you, then. Just a little get away.”

Thalia!” Sosa hissed, looking furious, “Enough!”

“I’m older than three thousand years old,” The Doctor said, staring deep into Thalia eyes, “I have seen things that have made me weep upon sight – horrors that you couldn’t even imagine. I have traveled the stars and have saved and destroyed more than you could comprehend. This? This is a hell I could have never imagined. Do not mock me.”

And the Doctor took a deep breath, “I will truly die before I teach innocent lives how to become servants.

Thalia snarled still remained, “Apparently no one gets wiser with age.” She got to the Doctor’s face, “You’re selfish. You traumatized those kids yesterday with your little revolt. You could have gotten them hurt.”

The Doctor froze. She had never considered that they would hurt the children just to get to hurt. Her horror grew when she realized how stupid she had been. How could she endanger the kids?  

“You have your little moral debate,” Thalia huffed, just a hint of her anger finally leaving, “Keep your head down, and you might just survive here.”

With that, Thalia turned away from her and stopped over to one of the desks, plopping herself down. Her whole expression changed when Lilly came up to her, squealing and shouting something about playing tag.

“She’s wrong,” Roxie said, also watching the children, “I think what you did was brave. The longer you fight, the longer you…stay. It’s either this, or you get sold.”

The Doctor nodded, knowing the same thing. They wouldn’t sell her until she was broken down – more of a walking, breathing thing than a person. She knew that, but it didn’t make it anymore painful.

“They won’t hurt the children,” Sosa said, “They can’t. They need them, no matter how messed up that is.”

But they didn’t understand. No, what Thalia meant was that the Doctor hurt the kids emotionally. After all, she had seen Kara after she came back. A sobbing mess, nearly inconsolable, and it was the Doctor’s actions that caused that.

There was one way to fix that.

“I’m sorry about this.” The Doctor told them. The Doctor stumped towards the door, banging loudly on it. “Hey! You’ll find that I won’t be cooperative again today!”

“Doctor!” Sosa cried, “What are you-”

“Come on then, boys!” The Doctor continued, kicking the door with all her might, “Might as well take me now!”

“She’s insane,” Roxie muttered, “Absolutely insane, the poor thing.”

Before the Doctor could agree with her, the door was opened with a loud hiss, and the Rarfe wasted no time in dragging her out of the room. At least, this time, she didn’t have to hear Kara’s cries. As they pushed her towards the other rooms, she made sure to keep track of the keycode numbers.

The led her to the same room and made quick work in hurting her. Their weapon of choice today were brutally placed kicks to her chest.

She never screamed.

She wanted to.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Six hours and nine minutes later, they let her chains down. She refused to let herself fall this time. Instead, she was left awkwardly standing on her feet, pushing herself harder and harder to stay conscious. Stars danced in her vision, and she swayed, but she had made it.

They brought her to the showers.

She there found out that punishments included not only a brutal torture session, but also getting pelted with freezing cold water from a hose.

“All you have to do is comply.” Talsar, the leader, said as she was left shivering the corner. She tried her best to cover herself, but she knew she wasn’t succeeding going by the hungry looking his eyes.

“Comply, and this is all over.”

She glared at him, “No.”

He left without a word, neither angry or impressed, and somehow…She felt like she had lost.

They gave her her clothes back, her coat and boots being returned to her (she wondered why that was allowed) and held her head high as she passed the other women. Some stared, looking mildly impressed. By some miracle, she passed Thalia and Lilly. Thalia nodded at her, respectfully, and then went back to distracting Lilly, who was waving excitedly at her. Thankfully, the guards didn’t care.

Kara was awake this time when she made it back to her cell, again running to the Doctor. The Doctor kneeled down before she attached to her leg, getting a full-frontal assault of a child’s passionate hug, “Hello, Kara!”

“Hiya, Doctor,” Kara replied, just a little less enthusiastic, “I missed you.”

“I missed you too!” The Doctor said, “Is everything alright?”

Kara nodded, but she bit her lip anxiously. Something was really bugging her. Kara sat on the ground, her back to the floor, eyes downcast. The Doctor was quick to follow her, letting her lean her head on her shoulder. “Hey, what’s this all about? Why so upset?”

Kara said nothing. For a moment, the Doctor thought she had fallen asleep, but, instead, she began to feel Kara’s tears wet her shoulder. Now the Doctor couldn’t let her do that.

“We’re best friends, right?” The Doctor asked.

Kara nodded against her shoulder, still silent.

“So, best friends tell each other everything. Is there something you want to talk about?”

Kara was silent for a very long time. So long that the Doctor worried that she was becoming unresponsive. Had something terrible happened while the Doctor hadn’t been there? Did the guards hurt her? She would have to ask the other girls. If one person so much as laid a finger on her-

“You left me.”

The Doctor’s questions halted in her mind. What?

Kara moved suddenly, standing up and looking down at the Doctor. “You l-left me! J-just like momma! And dad! And-and you didn’t…You didn’t say bye!”

Oh Kara. The Doctor’s heart cried out, wishing she could wipe away Kara’s fears. It hurt so much to hear that she thought her parents had left her – that she thought she had left her. No wonder why she was so upset.

“Come here, love.” The Doctor said, opening her arms, “I want to tell you a story.”

Kara rubbed at her eyes, her tears slowing down, “A story?”

“Yup,” The Doctor replied, letting Kara curl up next to her, the new routine of having her sleep on her legs becoming an odd comfort, “Okay, are you ready?”

Kara nodded– not with her usually gusto but enough to spur the Doctor on.

“There were once two children named Theta and Koschei,” The Doctor began, letting the memories come to her, “Theta was a small thing, terribly frightened of the dark, and alone in the world. One day, after running away from her classes, they stumbled upon a beautiful field. It was stunning - The twin suns glowed on the miraculous plant, making beautiful colors in the air. Theta was so mesmerized that she didn’t hear another’s footsteps.”

“Theta was so startled that they fell, cutting themselves on one of the sharp thorns of the very plant that they admired so much.”

“Oh no!” Kara cried, getting really into the story.

“Theta screamed in fright! Causing the other person to do the same. They both stumbled away from each other. And then, when they got up from the sand, their eyes connected. You see, Theta know the person. They were named Koschei, and they went to the same class together. But Koschei was so much different than Theta. Koschei came from a wealthy family, brilliantly smart, and belonged in that world. Yet, as Koschei and Theta stared into each other’s eyes, seeing the differences between them, they knew they were going to be the best of friends – closer than any two people in the universe.”

“Against Koschei’s family’s wishes, they brought Theta inside their home, helping them bandage up their small cut. And, in that small moment of kindness, they found each other.”

Kara was looking at her with stars in her eyes, utterly entranced by the story. “That’s so romantic.” She whispered.

The Doctor sputtered, not realizing that was how her story sounded in the first place. “Right, yes! Exactly, Kara! Now, as the two grow up together, they promised each other something that was utterly forbidden.”

“Was it a kiss?” Kara asked, “It’s always a kiss in my momma’s stories.”

“No,” The Doctor replied gently, “No, this was something more powerful than a kiss. They promised each other every star in the universe.”

Woah,” Kara whispered, “Every star?”

“Every star,” The Doctor repeated, “And I’m giving that same promise to you.”

Even if she couldn’t keep that promise to Koschei – even if there were too many hurts between the Doctor and the Master, nearly a dozen lifetimes filled with revenge and petty endings, the Doctor promised to give this innocent girl the universe.

Kara smiled wide, “Wow.”

The Doctor smiled with her, unable to stop herself from bopping Kara on the nose, who giggled loudly, “I’m not going to be with you in that classroom, okay?” The Doctor said, growing serious, “But, even if I don’t say goodbye, I promise to come back. I owe you the stars, Kara Traver.”

“Pinky promise?”

The Doctor solemnly raised her pinky, joining it with Kara, “Pinky promise.”

“Come on,” The Doctor said, awkwardly trying to detangle herself from her own coat. Her injuries stung in protest, but the Doctor was quick to ignore it, “Let’s get some sleep, yeah? It’s pretty late.”

By the time the Doctor had laid the coat against Kara, she was fast asleep, little puffs of air tickling the thin fabric of the Doctor’s pants leg. The Doctor smiled at the sight, her own eyes closing.

For now, they were safe.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

When the Doctor was woken up, she knew for a fact that she was not done healing.

Her ribs screamed in protest when she took a gasp of air, eyes frantically searching for Kara, only to groan when Kara grabbed at her hand, trying to pull her up. That hurt, her sore shoulder screaming agony at her as Kara’s little hands pulled on her arm.

“Come on!” Kara said, “Up!”

Who was she to deny such an order? “I’m up” She said, trying to be cheery, “Very much awake, Kara. More awake than the Sleeping King, who was actually a woman disguised to be the dead kind that never slept. History books, don’t trust them.”

The words rushed out in a babble, mostly because she was trying so hard to distract herself from the burn in her body. The healing coma hadn’t done her any good. In fact, she could feel regeneration energy crackle and burn underneath her skin. She lifted her shirt, not surprised to see her stomach glowing gold in various places along her ribs.

She woke up way too early.

She stumbled into line, swaying. The girl behind her steadied her, letting her lean her weight against her. “M’sorry.” The Doctor said, not wanting to be a burden on another, but unable to help it. The girl tried her best to guide her, even making it as far as the cafeteria, but as soon as her and Kara made it hallway to their assigned table, she lost her vision.

She felt herself fall to the ground, her hands just barely catching her fall. She curled up in a ball, flashes of her vision returning. Kara was there often, saying something, but the Doctor couldn’t hear it, no matter how hard she tried. She wondered, for a brief moment, if she was meant to regenerate. She could feel it burning her entire body, trying desperately to come to life. Still, as the Doctor brought her golden hands to her face, she refused to give in.

She slammed her hands to the ground, watching as the energy dissipated. All at once, she felt the burning energy flame up in hopes of winning, but she wouldn’t give in. Instead, she forced the process away, the stinging pain instead morphing into stiffness. She was still injured, but at least she wasn’t due for her next body.

“…Needs a doctor! She’s glowing. People just don’t glow!”

“Take her…No excuses…Leave…”

The Doctor felt her surprisingly gentle arms slide under her legs and shoulders, lifting her up into the air.

After that, she knew nothing else.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor woke up.

She’s woke up quickly, all of her senses coming back to her faster than she could comprehend. Light and sound left her paralyzed, blinking against the lights. She forced her eyes to stay open, wondering how in Rassilon’s name she was back in the classroom.

“The Doctor’s awake!”

The children started muttering excitedly, but it was the three older women that greeted her first, bending down to her. Roxie was quick to smile reassuringly at her, holding onto her shoulder gently as the Doctor swayed just a little to the side.  

“Hello, dear,” Roxie said, voice quiet, “Gave everyone quite a scare. Troublemaker, are you?”

The Doctor laughed lightly, “I’ve been called that.”

“Was the glowing thing normal?” Thalia asked her, arms crossed as if she was disinterested. The Doctor knew she wasn’t, “Looked painful. You’re welcome, by the way. You’re really lucky you weigh close to nothing.”

So it was Thalia that carried her to the classroom. No matter how war-tired Thalia looked now – how uncaring – the Doctor knew that she had a heart of gold. The Doctor nodded her head in thanks, respect for her growing, but Thalia wasn’t even looking at her.

“You were raised in a barn, Thalia,” Sosa commented drily, “Seriously though, the glowing is normal?”

“Normal for a Time Lord. My body’s way to heal itself.” The Doctor answered, but then remembered where she was, “Is Kara okay?”

“Perfectly fine,” Sosa answered, “A little spoked, but you were muttering assurances to her even in your sleep. Kara said that she could feel your worry for her.”

The Doctor’s eyes glanced towards that very same girl. It had been a long time since she had let her touch telepathy run freely in another's head. It was still a surprise to hear that Kara was able to feel it. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Kara was hers now.

The Doctor was a parent again. It terrified her.

“They won’t let us talk long,” Sosa said suddenly, “We should get back to teaching the children.”

The Doctor’s head went down, furious. Of course. The cruel world continued on.

“Right then,” The Doctor said, holding out her hand, “Mind helping me up?”

Sosa took her hand immediately; the Doctor held in her groan at her sore ribs. Without a word, the Doctor made her way to the door and banged loudly on it.

“You can’t be serious!” Roxie said, horror in her voice, “They’ll kill you!”

The Doctor ignored her, “Come on then!” She yelled, banging loudly with her fists, “No time like the present! Come and get me!”

The door opened immediately, the ugly face of Talsar blocking her view of the rest of the hallway. The two of them stared at each other, one old soul to one evil one, and the Doctor had never felt more disgust and hatred for one being than ever before, and she had met the creator of the Daleks.

“I will have fun breaking you.” Talsar whispered reverently, “I think it’ll be beautiful.”

She only needed one word:

Never.”

Chapter Text

The routine from hell was firmly in place now, though some aspects did change.

Get woken up by a frantic Kara, scarf down food that was just barely considered that, arrive at the classroom only to bang on the door and get dragged out, get brutally attacked, return to Kara and tell her a story about Theta and Koschei.

Three weeks. Three weeks of the same hurts every single day. She was already petite, healthy from the running she had done (oh how she missed that. She missed her TARDIS and her fam. It hurt to even think about it) but now she was…Unhealthy, sickly, not a single ounce of fat on her body, much like Sosa.

Sosa had warned her weeks ago that she was due to go to the Mansion, yet she remained in their jail. All the children, Alexios the most, would watch Sosa with anxious, scared eyes now, especially when the Doctor would bang on their classroom door. Yet, she stayed, even when the Doctor heard mumblings from the guards that business was ‘a money maker’ as usual.

And then, three weeks and two days in hell, Sosa was no longer at their table when the Doctor and Kara sat down. Instead, Alexios was huddled in Roxie’s comforting grip, crying in her shoulder. The children didn’t sign that day, didn’t say a word, and the Doctor felt the same way.

The Doctor gripped Kara’s hand tightly in her own as they ate, yet the both of them did not cry. Kara had learned by now that people disappear, and the Doctor couldn’t bare to shed a tear. If she did, she wouldn’t stop.

When they made it back to the classroom, letting the kids run around, it was Roxie that started. “I saw them take her,” Roxie admitted, dabbing at her eyes, “It was awful. She just…She just went with them, with blank eyes. Alexios was screaming for her, but Sosa just…”

Thalia said nothing, but her eyes betrayed her anger. With no warning, Thalia kicked at the wall, hard as she could, causing the children to stop what they were doing.

“I can’t do this anymore,” Thalia screamed, furious, “You hear that, you bastards! You want to take someone, you take me next!”

The Doctor expected the door to burst open and guards to shove Thalia away. Instead, as Roxie and the Doctor waited anxiously for that to happen…It didn’t. No one spoke over the intercom and no one came to yell at her for her behavior. It was absolutely silent.

And the Doctor knew exactly why – Thalia would relish in the physical pain. She wouldn’t survive the emotional one.

Thalia yelled again, screaming obscurities so fast that the Doctor had a problem hearing her. Thalia went over to the door, banging harshly on it…Just as the Doctor had done for weeks. But… No one answered her own calls. In retaliation, Thalia banged harder, her knuckles turning red, screaming for them to take her, and – as if someone had sucked the life from her – she admitted defeat, weakly banging on the door until she was left with her head leaning against it, silent.

The Doctor went over to her as Roxie stood there, frozen. The Doctor knelt down, not surprised when Thalia went to look to her, hate strong in her eyes, “You-You fuck off. You selfish – stupid person. It should have been me, you understand. Sosa was kind and brilliant and loved Alexios and she’s – she’s…”

Thalia went quiet once again, “They’ll take Roxie next. And-and I can’t bare seeing the kids lose what little we had to give them. I can’t.”

“Whatever happens,” The Doctor told her, “there will always be people like you. People who care more for others than themselves. That’s why they pared with you Lilly in the first place. This is how they’ll break you down. You can’t let them. You won’t let them.”

“I’m so tired.” Thalia whispered, and the Doctor remembered when she felt the same, her own body trying so hard to regenerate as she held it back. She didn’t think she deserved another chance, not after what happened to Bill and Nardole… Not after failing Missy. She wanted the pain to stop.

It was the Doctor’s friends that reminded why she was born again. A life like this long, it's a battlefield, and it's empty, because everyone else has fallen. That speech to the memories of Bill and Nardole left a mark on her and always will because it was true. She had lost so much in her lifetime, missed so many good people, that sometimes she wondered if this was the life she was meant to live.

But looking at Thalia, defeated and alone, so young and such a spitfire, devoid of all life… She knew she couldn’t let her feel that same defeat.

“Up,” The Doctor demanded, getting up herself and holding out her hand for Thalia to get up, “Get up, right now. Come on, you can do it.”

Thalia stayed silent, unmoving as she continued to lean all her weight on the door. No, the Doctor wouldn’t let her. The Doctor looked behind her, looking first towards Roxie, who was holding the kids back. The Doctor looked at Alexios, then at Roxie, trying to convey what she wanted. Roxie smiled, letting all the children get closer. The Doctor got just a glimpse of little body flying her way before Alexios hugged Thalia around the middle, eyes closed.

“I miss her too.” Alexios said, “But… But she told me she didn’t want me to be sad when she went away.”

Thalia, to the Doctor’s horror, didn’t react for the longest time. Her arms stayed at her side, even as Alexios continued to hug her. When Alexios noticed, she tried to moved away, only for Thalia to latch onto her, dragging them both into a hug.

The Doctor stood watching, heart full at the scene of compassion in front of her. For a moment, the dread she had felt these past few weeks melted. It only increased as all the kids went to Thalia, Kara included, and giggled as they had a group hug. Thalia had tears streaming down her face, but she was smiling.

“Are you still sad?” Alexios asked her.

Thalia shook her head, hugging both Lilly and Alexios to her hips, “No,” She said, “I’m alright, thanks to you girls.”

“Get back to work!”

All of them winced at the loud intercom voice, the Doctor’s smile fading as Thalia put her head down, huffing out a dry laugh. Without a word, the Doctor held out her hand to Thalia, who took a moment, but eventually grabbed it. Thalia moved away without a word, head held high, and moved to the front of the classroom, jaw clenched.

The Doctor was never prouder of someone.

Kara went to the Doctor’s side, slipping her hand into her own. “Are you leaving now?” She asked her, and the Doctor sighed in response.

Maybe…Maybe she could stay. Just…Just this once. Just one day of peace. Thalia needed her – needed someone to be strong for the day. Liar her thoughts whispered to her, even as she found herself moving with Kara to her desk. The Doctor glanced at the desk behind her, the idea of sitting more alluring and then she thought.

“Hypocrite.” Thalia said, not even close to yelling, but somehow it was louder than anything she could have said.

The Doctor winced. Right…Right, Thalia was right. She had Sosa’s memory to honor, had her own pride to keep intact. The Doctor had he own strength to keep strong. With a growl, the Doctor got up, squeezing Kara’s hand in goodbye, and banged three times on the door.

Two Rarfre guards, as always, greeted her, and the Doctor smiled with her teeth.

Today was not the day they broke.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Her shoulders burned.

She was on her knees this time around, hands held above her by chains, shoulders crying out in protest every time she breathed. The muscle felt as if it could tear at any moment. She wondered, pointlessly, how long she could continue to do this.

“I can see it in your eyes,” Talsar said from behind her, voice like nails, “The weakness. That desire to give in.”

The Doctor said nothing, jaw clenched.

“It would be so much easier, you know,” Talsar continued, coming in front of her. He admired her body for amount, disgusting the Doctor (making her feel worthless), “The longer you prolong this, the more you get attached to that little thing in your cell.”

Don’t you speak of her.” She snarled, more furious than she could comprehend.

“Oh, struck a nerve, have I?” Talsar said, excited. “What was that little one’s name? Something with a ‘C’, maybe? No, it was a ‘K’.”

The Doctor wanted to kill this thing in front of her – wanted to take her hands and wrapped them tightly around his throat. She wanted to watch as the life drained from his eyes. She wanted him to suffer.

“Kara!” He said, snapping his fingers, “Knew I would get it. Well, either way, you won’t be seeing her again.”

The Doctor’s hearts stopped, horror filling her, “What are you talking about?”

“It’s Bid day! You must have noticed one of the girls was chosen last night?” The monster said, clapping his hands, “Anyway, big party to prepare for. I needed little hands to serve the people much better than them. Kara is one of the older ones, isn’t she? Maybe someone will want her. I do find children helpful, but I could always get more.”

The Doctor struggled against the chains, standing. She went to punch him, claw out his eyes, tear him limb from limb, but was stopped when one of the Rarfre yanked on the chains, throwing her to the floor in painful mess of limbs.

“Oh dearie,” Talsar said, “It seems I really did hit a nerve.”

“You’re lying.” The Doctor breathed, getting up on her hands a knees, trying so hard to stand.

“Am I?” Talsar asked, “Well, might as well see with your eyes now. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a liar, even if it’s a worthless slave.”

He looked towards the Rarfre guard, and instantly the chains came down. Her shoulders protested again at the harsh treatment, but she didn’t care. She waited impatiently as Talsar took his time unlocking the shackles, leading her to the showers, pushing her into a stall.

Instead of the hose, he turned the showerhead on. For the first time in months, hot water greeted her cold skin. She relished in it, goosebumps that seemed to never end finally went away.

“See?” Talsar said, voice soft as if he was talking to a child, “See what happens when you comply? I can be kind.”

The Doctor no longer enjoyed the warmth. Instead, it felt like shaking hands with the devil. She pulled her soaking wet hair away from her face, standing tall as she moved out of the heavenly spray, “Where’s Kara?”

He tutted, “You should really be thankful of gifts when you receive them. How ungrateful.” Without warning, he grabbed her by the hair, pulling at the roots. She cried out once again, trying in vain to push him off of her, but he held strong.

“She’s gone, Doctor, “Talsar whispered in her ear, “Someone took interest in her and bought her.”  

The Doctor stopped struggling, desperately searching his eyes for lies. “No.” She whispered, the word dragging on her tongue, “No, no, no.” The world spun around her, tears filling her eyes. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be possible. She couldn’t just be gone.

They left her there, huddled in the corner shower, mind breaking at the seams because of the only thing keeping her alive in this place. Kara, with her sweet eyes and caring nature, gone. It didn’t seem real. Fat, ugly tears from her eyes, and she took her hand and bit into it, begging for the pain to come.

Hours passed. It was dark and so cold, the Doctor shivered without the thin layers of clothes she was given. When she opened her eyes, dared to look into the dim room, she spotted a pair of clothes that was left crumpled on the ground for her.

She crawled to them, wiping her eyes. Putting them on felt like something she didn’t deserve, yet it seemed like the only next step she could take. As soon as she had settled again, the door to the showers opened, and single Rarfre guard came to her.

She got up without a word, legs still shaky, but she walked in front of him dolefully, ready to accept whatever they had in store for her. She hoped – she begged – that it would be her end, yet she knew it wouldn’t be.

They led her passed the cells, pass the other girls with their eyes as dull as her. When she reached her own cell, the Doctor closed her eyes, unwilling to see how empty and cold it would be without Kara to fill the darkness.

Only…Only…When she was shoved into the cell, and it clicked behind her, she heard…

“Doctor!”

The familiar feeling of Kara wrapping herself around her leg, as she always did when the Doctor got back, brought the Doctor to her knees. She opened her eyes, crying even harder when she realized what Talsar had done. Kara was here, safe and alive, looking at her with wide eyes and the Doctor dragged her into a hug, rocking them back and forth as she cried.

“Doctor?” Kara asked, fearful.

“Sorry,” She said, letting Kara out of her hug, but not releasing her hands. “Sorry, sorry Kara. I love you, okay? I need you to know that I love you.”

Kara smiled, wide and bright and lovely, “I love you too!”

The Doctor laughed, still some-what crying, wiping at her face to get rid of the tears, more relieved than she had ever felt in her life. Exhausted, the Doctor laid back against the wall, Kara automatically laying across her legs. The Doctor’s hand went to Kara temple, and she couldn’t stop glancing over Kara’s mind, relieved when she felt the familiar calm in her head.

“Were you somewhere else today, Kara?” The Doctor asked her, needing to know if Talsar lied entirely.

Kara hummed in agreement, “I served drinks with Alexios and Lilly. Roxie told us to count how many people took our cups! And then whoever had the least won!”

The Doctor nodded, glad that Roxie had told the children to turn it into a game, “Who won?” Even though the words felt like poison on her tongue.

“Lilly!” Kara said, sounding a bit upset, “I had four more, and Alexios had six!”

“Maybe,” The Doctor yawned, eyes closing by themselves, “Maybe next time.”

“Goodnight, Doctor. I love you.” Kara said, eyes closing herself.

The Doctor was asleep before she heard it.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The next time the Doctor banged on the classroom door and arrived at her usual chains, Talsar had one thing to say to her:

“Next time, the girl won’t be so lucky.”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor’s hair was getting long after three months here.

It reached way passed her shoulders now and often made its way annoyingly in her eyes. She had never had long hair before and found herself constantly pushing it out of her eyes. At one point, when the Rarfe had accidently left a blade just a bit close to her, she considered stealing it just to slash the offending follicles when she had the chance, but – of course – it was too far to her to reach when she actually tried.

Kara was looking at her after today’s usual greeting hug, eyebrows coming together in adorable confusion when the Doctor once again went to push her hair behind her ears, only for the stubborn hair to come right back.

“Why don’t you make it rope?” Kara asked her.

The Doctor, her parental wisdom a bit rusty, tried her best to understand how hair and rope went together, but nothing came up, “How do you make it into rope?”

Kara looked at her, excited even after a long day, “I’ll show you!”

Kara climbed out of her lap, gesturing for the Doctor to move away from the wall. The Doctor knew that it might not be possible at the moment, her stomach in upheaval from the movement, but she would do anything for Kara. The Doctor put her shoulder to the wall, letting her weight balance on it as Kara moved to put her small fingers in her hair.

The Doctor nearly flinched. She had never liked touch, not in this body, and lately only touch related to her head mostly meant pain. It was only Kara’s hands that the Doctor felt safe.

“My momma taught me!” Kara said, her fingers getting caught in the many tangles of the Doctor’s hair. Even then, she pulled at it gently to fix it, “You gotta loop ‘em, and then tie them.”

Again, the Doctor felt more confused than anything else, but Kara’s hands in her hair felt increasingly nice. She was gentle, even as she took large pieces of hair and…Pulled them…? Either way, the Doctor let Kara do what she wanted.

The Doctor’s eyes closed, content, and she found her mental barriers lowing just a bit as Kara touched her. She felt…Warm, excited, a bit sad and the Doctor was quick to gently coax that last feeling away, wrapping the love she felt for Kara around her.

Kara barely noticed, wouldn’t notice unless the Doctor pointed it out, but the Doctor could feel Kara relax more. A memory came through their link, a young human girl, Kara’s own mother given by the similar blonde hair, opening her arms, a wide smile on her face. She was beautiful, young and free, standing in a forest.

The Doctor hoped that she was still alive – The Doctor promised Kara the stars, and that including the person that raised her to be this brilliant human.

“This is the tricky part,” Kara said, just as the Doctor thought she would lose herself in her hope, “You gotta woosh!”

The Doctor laughed, “Woosh!” She repeated, “I often times find myself wooshing. I woosh from place to place, you know!”

Kara laughed at her ridiculous mumblings, “No, silly! Wooshing is for hair only.”

“Ohhh…” The Doctor said in understanding, though she honestly didn’t understand it all. She felt Kara pull a bit harder on her hair. She realized that, for once, the tangled locks were no longer tickling her face. She brought a hand to her own hair, surprised when she felt an intricate braid.

“See!” Kara said, excited as she came back to admire her own work, “Rope!”

“Rope, indeed!” The Doctor replied, for once wishing she had a mirror. Kara has braided both sides of her hair and tied if off behind her head, “Wonderful, Kara! You’re a life saver! Absolutely brilliant rope maker! An even better woosher!”

Kara blushed from the compliments, “You look pretty.” She said.

The Doctor blushed this time, not used to such a word when she was describing herself. She had forgotten, as she often found herself doing, that she was a woman this time around. Pretty hadn’t actually been a word she heard about himself, but she found she didn’t mind when it came from Kara.

“All thanks to you,” The Doctor said, and then dragged her into a hug, “Come on then, love.”

The Doctor stopped, shocked to find that Gallifreyan had slipped through her tongue. It had been ages – centuries – since she had spoken the language and an even longer time since she used that word.

It meant…It meant more than love. It meant protection – life itself – a promise of unconditional pride and affection. It meant more than human words could comprehend. It meant being a parent. Their mental bond flashed, growing and solidifying. Kara felt it too, gasping as she looked at the Doctor.

“That was so pretty!” Kara said, “It sounded like wind chimes!”

The Doctor nodded, pained in a way that was indescribable. She loved Kara, of course she did, and the moment the word had left her mouth she knew it was right… Yet she was reminded of what the Master had done… No one else would be calling their child that. Not a single person in the universe could claim to know what she said.

“Why are you sad?” Kara asked her, looking concerned, “Did I do something wrong?”

“No!” The Doctor replied, “No, Kara, you didn’t do a single thing wrong. I’m just…Missing home.”

Kara settled in their usual spot, her head on the Doctor’s lap as the Doctor began to run her fingers through Kara’s hair. “I miss home too.” Kara admitted.

It was usually when the Doctor would regal Kara with exaggerated stories of Theta and Koschei, but something else came to mind that night. Instead of her usual dramatic start, the Doctor sang a very old Gallifreyan lullaby.

Kara’s eyes opened in wonder, completely enthralled by the Doctor’s voice. It was a surprise from the Doctor herself that her voice didn’t sound half bad, a little high and a little less sturdy, but nice to listen to all the same.

The lullaby spoke of a warning to small children, much like the human version of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’. The first time the Doctor had heard it, she had fallen in love with its message, and the Master had sung it often to his own daughter.

“That was beautiful.” Kara said when she was finished. “Could you sing that every night?”

The Doctor smiled, thinking of sharing every Gallifreyan tradition she had with her daughter, “Was there a please in that sentence?” The Doctor teased.

Pllleeaasssee.” Kara replied dramatically.

“Oh, alright!” The Doctor said, tickling her side, loving the sound of her giggles.

The Doctor looked towards the back of their cell, spotting the familiar words carved there: Ad Meliora. The phase haunted her in sleep now, often leaving her feeling more hopeless every single day. She thought about how much longer she could last live like this.

She wondered what the point of getting interrogated anymore. She dared herself to think of future that had her leaving Kara behind, physically repulsed by the idea of leaving her. Yet, as she watched a nearly sleeping Kara, she couldn’t help but wonder if she was prolonging the inevitable.

The longer she stayed here, loving Kara more and more, calling her her daughter, the more it would hurt the both of them.

The Doctor stared at the Latin phase, letting the words swirl out of her version the longer she didn’t blink.

Tomorrow…Tomorrow, she wasn’t going to bang on the doors of the classroom.

She couldn’t do it. Not anymore.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxX

The Doctor’s hand shook as she raised her fist. Roxie and Thalia stopped what they were doing when they noticed she hadn’t banged on it yet. The Doctor squared her shoulders, begging the universe to give her just one more ounce of strength – just one more bit of defiance.

Only, as she clenched her jaw and brought her arm back to knock, she was once again frozen, unable to do it.

Roxie came up to her first, putting a hand on her shoulder, “It’s okay, dear.” She said, softly, kindly, “You’ve fought hard. No one will blame you.”

The Doctor shook her head, frustrated, “I’ve died so many times,” The Doctor told her, “I’ve lived so long. Don’t I deserve peace?”

“Yeah,” Thalia told her, eyes kind in a way the Doctor hadn’t seen from her before, “Roxie’s right, even though I hate to say it… You’ve figured it out, didn’t you?”

The Doctor glanced towards her, “Figured what out?”

“You figured out that there’s no getting out of here.”

The Doctor’s breath left her lungs, feeling hurt, “I can’t get passed every guard,” She whispered, defeated, “I’ve memorized every single password in this building, I had plans to change the code of the robots in the cafeteria… But I can’t get the one physical key without anyone noticing. And I don’t have a way to get off this rock.”

“I’m brilliant,” The Doctor said, but not arrogantly, “Stupidly, horribly brilliant. And the biggest idiot in the universe.”

“The next bid day is in three days,” Roxie said, deep sadness in her eyes, “Give up now…And you’ll be gone.”

 “Wait another month,” The Doctor replied, “and Kara will only be more hurt by my absence.”

The Doctor moved away from the door, disgusted with herself, and looked over at Kara…And Lilly…And Alexios. They were brilliant, smiling and playing, unaware of the terrible danger they were in. The Doctor wondered if they would continue to have that when they were all gone.

The Doctor moved to the desk behind Kara… Kara smiling at her brightly when she saw that she was staying…And, when the children’s backs were turned, watching Roxie coach them on how to open a bottle of champagne, the Doctor put her head in her hands and cried.  

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master’s skin was crawling.

Yet, as the group of humans and himself blended into the group of revolting aristocrats, he couldn’t help but smile. It was rather brilliant of him. After all, managing to hack the most secure dark server in this galaxy was a thrill that he so desperately craved.

The ship itself was a beauty. Engineered to keep running off nebulized gas, it could fly for years with needing a refill. Not to mention it was run entirely by an AI system that the Master had no hope of cracking without a couple days work. The only way off this place was either the TARDIS or a key card sent by the galactic post.

The room they were led to was stunning. It was based off the human Palace of Versailles; High hanging chandeliers with large windows looking out into space, golden accents bringing out the galaxies around them. The marbleized floor echoed the voices around him, bringing in a very rich theme. He almost liked it.

It died the moment he spotted how they were keeping the woman.

A paralysis field, much like the one he thought to trap the Doctor in inside the matrix. The idea sickened him now, watching as the girls were looked at like fish in a tank, completely bare. The Mater watched, revolted, as a couple pointed at a naked Kahler girl, no older than fifteen years old judging by the number of circles on her forehead.

“This is barbaric,” Graham thoughts filtered in, his disgust coming in with it, “I think I’m going to be sick.”

“No!” The Master growled, as he smiled at a curious – free – wife of a rather large buyer, “Leave now, and they’ll suspect something.”

“Oh my god,” Yaz thoughts came next, “That’s a human - That’s a human girl. Ryan, she could be my age.”

“Not from your time,” The Master said, hoping it would help the girl differentiate, “Concentrate. We’re here for one thing. Find the Doctor.”

“It’s alright, Yaz,” Ryan said, “It’s alright. Focus, yeah? We get the Doctor, and we never come back.”

“Look there,” The Master said, playing the part of the excited buyer, “That hallway leads to more options. Check it out for me, dear?”

Graham raised an eyebrow at him but didn’t correct him. Instead, he smiled at him, as if they were a longtime friends, “Sounds like a plan. Coming, son?”

Ryan nodded, fingers clenched around his glass. “’Yeah.”

“Tell me if you spot her.” The Master said, “She’ll be the main display.”

“You’re not disgusted by this?…Maybe we should head down the hall? People are gathering over there… The Doctor is your friend.”

“I’m not just disgusted… Led the way… I’m furious. As soon as we’re off this ship, I’m pushing it right into an exploding star.”

Yaz led them down the hall, the Master just noticing that the ones he was getting drinks from weren’t robots…They were children. As he grabbed at the wine glasses, his eyes found the girls eyes – a beautiful hue of blue – but she bowed her head before he could get a good look

“I’m sorry, sir.” The girl said, and then was gone, off the serve another villain a drink.

“You said into an exploding star?” Yaz asked him, watching as the girl disappeared into the crowd once more, “Is there something that could make it a little longer?”

The Master smiled, wide and crazed at her, “It’s like you’re reading my mind.”

“Nothin’ here,” Graham said, “Except a bloke that just paid 25,000 on a girl.”

“Worse than that, though,” Ryan added, “When they’re bought, they’re taken by the Rarfre away from the crowd. It looks like even when we…See the Doctor, we’ll have to stay the rest of the night.”

“I have ways around that.” The Master said, but didn’t elaborate. Instead, he was led by Yaz, slowly making their way to the back of the room, where a large group of people seemed to be gathering. Even then, they couldn’t see what people were looking at.

“Excuse me, madam,” The Master said to a random passerby, “Do you happen to know what’s going on up there?”

A Terthera women smiled at him, obviously delighted with the attention, “I’m surprised a man like you doesn’t know.”

The Master nodded his head at the compliment, trying his best not the shot her with his cufflink, “Well, I arrived here really at a whim. Didn’t even bother reading the letter.”

“Then you’re in for a treat!” The woman continued, “Apparently, they’ve managed to capture a creature of legend.”

His blood boiled in his veins. Oh, yes, a creature of legend indeed. If the Doctor wasn’t so valiant, she would be the one burning this place to the ground, watching as the skin melted off their bodies. The utter nerve of these people.

“Ryan – Graham, can you see anything?” Yaz asked.

“Trying, love!”

The Master smiled, “A creature of legend? How fascinating.”

“Oh, yes!” She dared to continue, “My husband is getting a look at her now. Apparently, she looks like royalty up there. They got her in a new designer dress, styled beautifully so I heard. She is rather stunning. And – the best part…” The woman leaned closer to him, as if it was a secret, “She’s a Time Lord. You know, the ones from literal legends? They say that the Time Lords know the future!”

“Amazing,” The Master replied, tone flat as he thought of a hundred different way to murder this one and her husband, “I thought they had all died.”

“Oh, excuse me!” She said, looking away from him, “That’s my husband. It was nice to meet you.”

“We have to see her.”

The Master couldn’t agree more. They met back up with Ryan and Graham, the two of them looking green around the edges, but luckily no one was paying attention. None of them said a word as they got closer and closer…Too anxious to see what she would look like.

“I’ll try to open a telepathic link with her when we get close enough,” The Master warned them, “She might not be able to respond.”

“Is it wrong to not want to see her like that?” Yaz interrupted, just as the Master got a glimpse of the glass cage, they kept her in.

“All of this was wrong.”

When the group finally made it to the front of the line, the Master knew that the Doctor herself couldn’t stop him for murdering these disgusting creatures one by one.

All of them would be dead by the end of the night.

Chapter Text

The Doctor learned that, after the kids lessons were done for the day – around five hours of how to keep your eyes down, how to properly apologize to an adult, how to be serious – they were finally allowed to stop. The girls were all lead to the showers that the Doctor was usually hosed down in.

She was very, very thankful that they were individual stalls. She wondered if she would ever get over being prudish, but it seemed to be something that stuck with her every regeneration. They gave them five minutes and then shut off the water. Still, the Doctor spent most of those five minutes letting Kara wash herself, making sure that no guard would come in and spy on them.

Kara was a bit upset when the Doctor was forced to take her braids out but was quick to reassure her that she could do it again when they returned to her cell.

The Doctor was surprised when they went back to the cafeteria. They were led to the same tables, Thalia and Roxie greeting her with a head nod, and the Doctor wished that they also learned sign language. Though the kids did know some, the Doctor knew it wasn’t enough to have a full conversation. Instead, she watched as a Refre guard went to the front of the room. Thalia and Roxie went to cover the kid’s ears, and the Doctor was warned with their eyes to do the same for Kara.

She did so, looking at them and trying to get them to give her a hint to what was going on, but they only shook their heads.

The Rarfre guard began to list of names of people, girls unable to hold their gasps and cries in as more and more names were called. It was then that the Doctor realized that they were calling the names of the girl’s that were going to auction.

“Petra Defcra…Thalia Grosha…”

Thalia’s froze, her hands shaking over Lilly’s head, she looked to Roxie, then the Doctor, eyes betraying how scared she was. Before the Doctor could reassure her, another name was called.

“…Doctor… Keysta Roshger…”

The Doctor’s own hearts stopped in her chest, her hands covering Kara’s ears suddenly feeling heavier than before. She knew, she absolutely knew this was going to happen…So why did it still feel like a kick in the chest? She spent months thinking of a way to escape – months of being disobedient, months of refusing to teach girls how to be an object rather than a person, months of memorizing every single thing about this building…And it led her to this.

The names stopped. The Doctor took her hands away from Kara’s ears, feeling sick.

She had never dared to imagine what being sold meant. She hadn’t dared to think of being put on display for people she had never seen. She had never stopped to think about what kind of person would buy; what they would do to her. What kind of life would she have.

Even if she could escape from her owner, it didn’t guarantee that Kara would be safe. No matter what she did, she had failed her, and that hurt more than anything else.

Another companion, another friend, another person she loved…Lost because she couldn’t save them.

The Doctor got up with everyone else, numb, going through the motions of getting lead back to her cell. Roxie passed her, squeezing her hand discreetly, before she too was gone in the crowd, Alexios following behind her. The Doctor watched as her own cell was locked, left alone in their own little place of safety.

Kara looked excited, and the Doctor stood frozen as she continued to talk.

“…And you get to be here with me the whole time instead of sometimes! Is it going to be like this all the time now? We get to see each other more! And-”

“Kara…” The Doctor interrupted, voice soft. She sat down in their usual spot, waiting for Kara to lay across her as always, but Kara instead chose to sit across from her. It was clear that Kara wasn’t tired, but the Doctor felt a bone deep exhaustion in her very bones.

“We can play games!” Kara continued, “My momma taught me this one game where you spot something in the room and the other has to guess!”

The Doctor smiled, big and bright as she could, “Let’s play it.”

The rest of the night was spent with Kara, playing various games that she came up with, laughing with each other as they passed the time. If the Doctor closed her eyes long enough, she could pretend that all of this was happening in her TARDIS, surrounded by her fam.

Her fam.

She hasn’t thought of them since the first day. She wondered if they were happy – if they were still together, despite their differences…If they thought of her. She knew that Yaz would have argued in the TARDIS for hours. Probably would have tried to get the TARDIS to fly her back. Ryan and Graham would talk her out of it.

She wondered if they were happy without her.

“You look sad again.” Kara said, interrupting her thoughts.

She shook her head, trying hard to smile, “I’m just thinking.”

Kara went to sit next her, laying her head on her shoulder, “My daddy says that if you think too hard, you get old too fast.”

The Doctor laughed, surprised, “Your dad is a smart one.”

Kara nodded against her, “I miss him.”

The Doctor closed her eyes, the now constant feeling of needing to cry coming back to the surface. She wondered if that was this body’s way to handle or emotions or if this situation was finally the one to break her. She held in her tears though, not wanting to upset Kara even more. How could she justify this? Kara was grieving for her family, grieving for the life she used to have, and her only saving grace was the Doctor. Would she lose her spirit with yet another unwelcomed change?

“I have something really important to say,” The Doctor started, but the words kept getting caught in her throat, “Do…Do you remember how upset Thalia was when Sosa left?”

Kara nodded once again but stayed silent. The Doctor felt her hearts breaking.

“Do you remember what Sosa told Alexios?”

“To not be sad.” Kara replied, but her words held no emotions.

The Doctor froze, arm slinging across the small girl. She kissed the top of her forehead, unable to continue. The words felt like knives on her tongue, ready to strike, and the Doctor was too faint-hearted to let them tarnish Kara.

“You’re leaving.”

The Doctor squeezed her tighter, minds molded together as the Doctor felt Kara’s numbed sadness just on the edge of exploding. Kara felt like the eye of a hurricane, emotions wild and out of control just on the edge of lashing out. Even so, the Doctor held her close to her chest.

“I’m leaving.” She admitted.

Kara said nothing for the longest time – she didn’t move, she didn’t react to the Doctor’s hugs. Worried, the Doctor turned towards her, only for hearts to break all over again. Kara was crying, letting the tears run down her face. Even when the Doctor moved to wipe her face, she didn’t look her in the eyes.

“You…”

The Doctor waited, hands trembling as she waited for Kara to explode.

“But you pinky promised.”

Anything would have been better than what Kara said. She would have taken small fists to the face, angry, hateful words, complete silence… Anything would have been better than the sound of a child’s hope being destroyed.

The Doctor lies.

“I’m so sorry, Kara.” And those were the only words she could offer her.

She promised the stars to someone else, long before she knew her own name. They had the same face, the same love and hope now…The same devastation when they couldn’t deliver what she promised. She had never deserved someone as pure as them.

“You’re a liar!” Kara screamed, suddenly, violently. She was up and away from the Doctor in the next moment, pacing the length of the cell like a caged animal. “You’re a liar and-and I hate you! I want you gone! I hate you!”

The Doctor couldn’t look at her. She deserved that. She let the hate Kara threw at her and devoured it herself, accepting it and letting it burn it. She deserved far less than Kara’s emotions.

Kara started crying again, rubbing at her face, “Please don’t go!” Kara begged in the next moment, running up to her and hugging her tightly, “I didn’t mean it! Doctor, I didn’t mean it! I love you! Please don’t leave me!”

The Doctor shushed her, rocking them gently as Kara continued to cry. She knew a temper tantrum when she saw one, yet this was even more painful knowing that it was something Kara had the right to rage about. There was nothing the Doctor could offer her.

“I love you, Kara.”

Kara was exhausted, sagging in the Doctor’s hold. The Doctor laid down, draping her across her legs and putting her tattered coat over her. Kara struggled to keep her eyes open, but the Doctor put a hand on her forehead, lulling her to the sleep she so desperately needed.

A coward’s move. She couldn’t bare to see Kara in agony any longer.

The Doctor didn’t sleep that night. Instead, she studied every detail of Kara; her long blonde hair, her rosy cheeks, sweet face. It was easy to see her as nine years old when she was asleep. When awake, she looked… serious, with the hope that children still had fading away with every passing day. The Doctor spent hours alone in the dark, taking in every second of having Kara with her, yet it still didn’t feel like enough.

It was early in the morning, not even daybreak, when a guard came and opened her cell. The Doctor gently slide Kara off of her without a fight, kissing her forehead just one last time, and tucked her coat around her.

She bit her lip as hard as she could, not allowing herself to shed another tear.

The Doctor got up, head high, and moved out the cell.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

They shoved her in the medical room that she was forced into the first time she was here. They left her alone, nervous and just a hint of scared, for nearly an hour. When she thought she was going to go insane, the door finally opened.

It was Talsar, dressed in a styled suit, with a grin that screamed victory, “You, my dear,” He said, staring down at her, “Will earn me enough money to finally bribe off that ridiculous Shadow Proclamation. Maybe I’ll even expand my operations.”

“In one hundred and thirty-two years,” The Doctor snarled, “Your entire operation is bought down by your own ancestors. But I promise you... When I escape, I will rewrite history and personally bring down every army, every person you have wrong, upon you.”

Talsar glanced away from her, “Idle threats don’t frighten me.”

“It wasn’t a threat,” The Doctor laughed, low and deep, “It was a promise.”

“I promise you this, then” Talsar replied, “Whoever buys you will not let you escape. You think this is bad? You think I’m the monster? Wait for whatever beast that buys you to get their hands on you.”

The Doctor said nothing, but her promise to kill Talsar still hung in the air around him, even as his own threat settled deep in the Doctor’s bones. He rolled his shoulders, dusting off his velvet suit as if there was anything on it. “You’re lucky, you know,” He continued, “You won’t even be displayed with the others. No, I need you to be stunning – different.

He clapped his hands, obnoxiously, and Doctor Hera (who she never expected to see again) and another woman the Doctor didn’t recognized came into the room, holding something tucked away in a cleaner’s jacket. Doctor Hera lips twitched in a small smile, both of them surprised to see each other, but gone the moment Talsar snapped his fingers.

“Make her beautiful,” Talsar told the two of them, “You know what happens when you disappoint me.”

Doctor Hera and the other women, who the Doctor knew for a fact was her wife, nodded their head respectfully at Talsar, who moved out of the room without a word.

“Hello, Doctor,” Doctor Hera greeted, putting whatever was in her hands down, “It’s good to see you again. Allow you to introduce you to my wife, Willow.”

The Doctor smiled at the timid woman – a lovely human girl with dark brown eyes and freckles, “It’s nice to meet you.” She said, meaning it.

Willow smiled as well, looking surprised, “You don’t look scared.”

“Terrified,” The Doctor admitted, “But fear only makes you stronger.”

The two of them stared at each other, “I told you she was different.” Doctor Hera said, squeezing Willow’s hand as they both smiled at each other. It was clear to see the love between the two of them. The Doctor was reminded fiercely of her friend Lady Vastra and Jenny and wondered, if these two had a different life, if they would be as impactful as them on the universe if given the chance.

“Have you’ve been injured?” Doctor Hera asked her, putting on medical gloves. Willow began to unzip what was in the cleaner’s bag, but the Doctor couldn’t see what it was.

“Healing already,” The Doctor answered, “Ribs will be fine in a couple more hours.”

“Bruising? Cuts?” Doctor Hera continued, and the Doctor understood why she was asking.

“Plenty of bruises that I’m sure some part of the crowd will enjoy,” The Doctor answered, “But I’m assuming you already knew that.”

“Hey-” Willow said, indignant, but Doctor Hera stopped her with a look.

“You know I have to look. And if you’re complaining about ribs, then I imagine you’re worse than most of my patients.”

The Doctor huffed, frayed at the edges, but nodded her consent. It would be nice to breathe without feeling like a thousand knives were cutting into her. “My chest, some parts of my back. They left what would be visible alone.”

Doctor Hera nodded, “Would you mind taking your shirt off, then? And laying down?”

The Doctor hesitated, looking at Willow, but her modesty wasn’t the point anymore. She pulled off her shirt, no bra, and laid down on the thin mattress placed on the ground. Doctor Hera sucked in a breath of air when she got a look, wincing.

“How are you breathing right now?” Hera whispered, pushing lightly on her ribs, testing each one, “You shouldn’t have enough oxygen to talk right now, let alone be…Normal.”

“I have a raspatory bypass,” The Doctor said, wincing when Hera pressed harder, “Able to conserve oxygen and use it for later.”

“Willow, love,” Hera called, “I’ll need that tissue regenerator after all. And the bruise gel.”

“Knew it was strange you didn’t have one last time,” The Doctor muttered, “I’m guessing it’s only allowed in emergency situations. Didn’t think this place could get any worse, really.”

Willow handed the device, a fancy looking scanner, to Hera, who grimaced, “This will hurt.” And, without another word of warning, placed it on her chest.

It hurt alright. She’s been through hell these past months, physical and emotional, and none had the ability to completely knock her out. Her back arched on the mattress, forced to muffle her own screams by putting her hand over her mouth, and counted the milliseconds as the device did its job.

She came back to two different people holding her hands, muttering reassurances to her and she slowly made her way to consciousness. “Ow.” The Doctor said drily to them, unable to move, “That was- that was a nice warning you gave me.”

Hera laughed, “Some people try to run when they realize what it is. Figured I wouldn’t give you the chance.”

The Doctor nodded, “Good choice. I’m definitely a runner. Love to run, I do. Once ran from an army of talking insects that wanted to eat me because I stepped on a plant. That was a rough one.”

The Doctor removed her hands from the two lovebirds, running her hands over her ribs. Well, at least they were healed. She took a deep breath in, relieved to not feel any pain as she did so. “Feels good.” The Doctor complimented.

“Sit up.” Hera said, and it was Willow, with gentle and patient hands, that helped the Doctor into a sitting position.

“You two work well together,” The Doctor complimented, “Good couple.”

“We don’t usually get to see each other this long,” Willow said, rubbing the bruise gel into her skin, “But Mr. Talsar needed someone to dress you. I used to be an assistant for a fashion designer, so when Hera heard he was looking for someone…”

“I’m glad you get to spend more time together,” The Doctor said, “Even if you have to spend it with me.”

They both laughed at the joke, “You’re shockingly enough a joy to be around,” Hera said, rubbing the last of the gel on her shoulder, “At the very least, a good patient.”

Willow went over to the cleaner’s jacket one more time, and finally the Doctor got to see what she was hiding. Inside was…A gown…A dress? The Doctor didn’t know fashion, but she did know that whatever was in Willow’s hands was expensive. It was black sheer all around, with gold embroidery – gold-threaded constellations decorated the dress below the tight waist and, above the waist, held a deep (very deep) v (thank you River) neckline that was again highlighted with gold accents. The sleeves were also sheer, more gold embroidery decorating it.

The worst part of the dress was how sheer it was. The only part that wasn’t see through was near her breasts and her…Lower parts, which were only covered by just a bit longer than normal underwear. Her body would be on display, and there was barely anything left to uncover.

“It’s…”

“Barely anything more than lingerie,” Willow interrupted for her, “And it’s around 14,000 dollars, and somehow beautiful.”

The Doctor nodded, “Is it a good time to mention I’ve never worn a dress before. Never had a chance really, always running too much.”

“I’ll help you,” Willow replied, looking just a bit more excited than she should be, “Um, I’ll get the dress, would you mind stepping out of your pants?”

The Doctor blushed, even though she was still shirtless and without a bra, being totally nude with two strangers was bit much. However, she knew it was going to happen no matter what. “Right!” She said, pretending this was just…Her, changing in her TARDIS, completely normal.

Putting the dress on took all of five minutes, even with all the ties in the back. Willow was fast with her fingers, trying to respect that the Doctor didn’t like to be touched. When she was done, both girls looked at her, nodding happily.

“You look amazing.”

There was no mirror in the room, but the Doctor didn’t want to see herself. She knew it was an outfit she would never wear, would never even dream of having her closet, so why bother? It wasn’t her. Still, she accepted the compliment with a quick “thank you.”

“Mr. Talsar still wants you to look natural, so no makeup,” Willow said, and she looked a bit disappointed at that, “But we’ll have to style your hair. I was thinking putting it up in braids.”

The Doctor was reminded of Kara – of course she was reminded of Kara. “Yeah,” The Doctor agreed, voice just a bit too hollow, “braids sound great.”  

Going by the astonished faces of Hera and Willow, she looked like some sort of model by the time they was done. Willow clapped, high fiving Hera in excitement when it all came together.

“I love you,” Willow told Hera, “But Doctor, you look stunning. Absolutely beautiful.”

The Doctor blushed something fierce, wondering if this was what Yaz meant when ‘girls like to dress up because it makes us feel…Well…Pretty, but for ourselves.’ It was a beautiful quote when the Doctor first heard it from Yaz, but now it made sense.

The Doctor said a quiet “thank you” trying hard to give them a genuine smile. Yet, as she ran her hands against the rough fabric…She was only reminded that it was a just as much as a prisoner’s outfit than her scrubs. She felt even more exposed like this – like she wasn’t for anything more than someone’s pretty statue.

The door opened, startingly all of them. Talsar stepped in, took one long look at her, and smiled wide.

“Perfect.”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The transport mat was right outside the medical examination room.

The transport mat, her escape from this entire circle of hell, was less than twenty steps away from her this whole time, unguarded.

The Doctor felt like screaming. All she had to do was run straight into a wall and put two wires together. All she had to do was recognize a perception filter. All she had to do to leave was in front of her this entire time.

“I always love that look on the girl’s faces,” Talsar said to her, hand tightly gripping her arm, “The horror when they realized they were so close to freedom all this time. It’s always the same – the disbelief and the anger. Well, some of them are too broken to realize but when they do…Magnificent.”

They landed inside what the Doctor knew was the Mansion. If she had any strength, she would have called it beautiful - would have commented to her fam that it was based of human history. Yet, as she stared at the golden walls…She didn’t have the energy.

She walked past the other girls, distantly horrified that they were kept naked in paralysis fields like artwork, but unable to process it all at once. She instead let herself get dragged passed them all, eyes down, as he led her to her own form of torture.

Talsar was still smiling as he put shackles on her wrists. Why, she didn’t know, but she still couldn’t bring herself to care. “I’ve instructed the children to not come near this area,” He was saying to her, walking her to the gold seat. The Doctor’s head was spinning, “You won’t be seeing little Kara again.”

He pushed her down by her shoulder, put her elbows on her thighs, and laid her shackled wrists in clear view. The worst part was, she just let him.

“Thank you,” He said, “Though I suppose I have Kara to thank. After all, without her, you would have never been broken.”

With that, he activated the paralysis field.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

She was stunning.

It was the only word the Master could think of when he finally saw the Doctor, but even stunning didn’t cover what she was. Contained in a glass cage, sitting on a golden throne, she looked like royalty. The clothes she was wearing was something she would have never chosen by free will, but the dress kissed every part of her skin – showed off every part of her body – elegantly. And, to the eyes of everyone, she was still a prisoner. Thick, silver shackles encased her wrists, shown off in clear view to everyone. Without the accessory, she looked regal enough to rule the universe.

“You said you could talk to her!” Yaz reminded him, “Did it work?”

Right. Yes, of course. A way to talk to her. He was so distracted by the image of her that he had forgotten the main goal. “Contact.” He whispered to her, looking for signs of life. Her eyes opened, strikingly brown, and she stared at them.

He could see it, the moment that her fiction became a reality. Her eyes blinked, searching their faces. Again, the Master sent her another “contact”, gently, not wanting to overwhelm her.

“This isn’t real.”

The Master breathed a sigh of relief, even as he turned to walk away from her. He couldn’t let anyone know his plans – not yet. “Your TARDIS wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“Doctor!”

The voice of her humans rang together in both of their minds, causing a small bit of pressure to build up in their temples. It was a bit much having three humans in their hands at the same time, but the Master knew the Doctor wouldn’t complain.

“This isn’t possible,” The Doctor said, and on the edge of it he could practically taste her dimmed hope, “You shouldn’t be here! They have bio scanners. They take humans.”

“Hello, friend.”

The Master’s connection to the Doctor weakened as the man introduced himself. He looked simple enough, a Diplosian, and at least had a tailored suit on.

“Talsar,” The Doctor whispered. A vision came to all of them, probably brought on by the Doctor’s weak mental walls. “You, my dear,” Talsar’s memory said, “Will earn me enough money to finally bribe off that ridiculous Shadow Proclamation. Maybe I’ll even expand my operations.”

The Master’s smile twitched, just barely able to stop himself from crushing Talsar’s hand. “Hello,” The Master replied, “I don’t think we’ve met.”

“Humans,” The Master warned, “don’t interact! Get somewhere else.”

“No, we haven’t,” Talsar said, suspicious. “But I couldn’t help but notice your interest in this one. Thinking of buying her?”

The Master could feel the idiot’s bones cracking under his fingers. One move and he would be dead beneath his feet. Even that would be too fast of a death. He longed to claw his eyes from his head, rip off a few limbs. He deserved it for doing this to the Doctor.

“Yes, actually,” He said instead, “Big history buff. And, well, it’s said that Gallifreyans know all of history.”

Talsar nodded, still looking a bit on edge, “Of course. I know very little of Time Lords, but their knowledge is priceless.”

“And yet there is a price, as always.” The Master replied, “One I might be willing to pay if it means gaining knowledge of the universe. That has more value than anything else.”

“No!” The Doctor said, suddenly and violently in his mind, “Forget me. I need you to get Kara. She’s more important.”

“Doc, who’s Kara?”

“An expensive investment just for the taste of history,” Talsar continued, “Nothing else about her has caught your eye?”

A memory was forced upon them from the Doctor. It was of a human girl, running towards them with open arms. Instantly, the Master recognized her as the same girl that had just served them wine. The Doctor had idiotically become attached to one of the other slaves.

The Master had to focus. Talsar was testing him. The Master knew it was a test. He wasn’t an idiot. Still, saying that he wanted to use the Doctor for other activities would feel like poison on his tongue. That was his friend, his only friend, and he was being forced to repeat it.

“She is beautiful,” The Master said, those words coming easy, “And the added bonus of having a Time Lord as a pet would certainly help my reputation. Not to mention I’m sure she would be quite fun in bed.”

“Sorry.”

“I think that’s the first time I heard you apologize in three hundred years.”

Finally, Talsar relaxed, “I would have never expected a newcomer to win the bid. How would you be paying?”

This was it, this was his chance to get the Doctor to safety. Finally, after the ridiculous amount of work he had to do to get in this place, he was finally going to free her.

“I won’t let you do this. Find Kara! Take her instead!”

“We’ll find her, Doctor,” Yaz replied, “We saw her before.”

Without a word, the Master revealed the stolen credit card from his inside pocket, and handed it to the Doctor’s jailer, “One million, three hundred thousand dollars. No more, no less. I’m not a bargainer.”

“Kara won’t trust you,” The Doctor continued, completely ignoring the saving the Master was doing, “Tell her that it was me that sent you…That you know about Theta and Koschei.”

The Master’s hearts stilled. He hadn’t heard those names for…Centuries, no lifetimes, and yet they held the power to bring him completely to a stop. He wondered how close the Doctor had gotten to this one girl… How close she could have gotten if she told Kara about him.

“Deal.”

Talsar looked towards the Rarfre and snapped his fingers. The Rarfre deactivated the paralysis field, forcing the Master to watch as the Doctor dropped boneless to the ground, too weak to move her own body, much to crowd’s delight. The Master’s hands twitched as embarrassment flooded through their link.

“I’m fine.” The Doctor told him (she wasn’t), even as the Rarfre grabbed her both her arms, dragging her away. The Doctor either couldn’t or didn’t put up a fight. “Find Kara!”

“If you’ll follow me, Mr…”

“I would rather remain anonymous,” He said, even though he longed to see the man calling him Master, “But you can call me O.”

“I found her, Doctor!” Ryan said, “She’s with Yaz now. We’ll make our way back to the TARDIS.”

The Master felt a rush of relief, not from himself, “Thank you.”

The Master hoped that the humans were smart enough not to get caught. He showed them how to bypass the scanners, but it was no guarantee that they could sneak away with one of the prisoners without causing suspicious. His plan was to have them all meet the Doctor in one room.

“Well, thank you O,” Talsar said, “I have a place you can view your item up close, away from prying eyes. I assume you want to talk to her?”

“Yes,” The Master said, again longing to kill the man. One little tap on his cufflink and he would be gone. “That would be nice.”

Talsar led him through a series of dark hallways, set up like a hotel if the Master had to call it something. The expensive rug under his feet felt like a lie. He saw people coming in and out, screaming echoing when they opened the door. The Master felt sick.

“We’re in the TARDIS,” Yaz said, and the Master felt a proud smile make its way to his face, “Kara says to tell you that the TARDIS is a lot bigger than she thought from your stories.”

The Doctor laughed, relief coming off her in waves, exhaustion following it, “Tell her I’m keeping my promise.”

Talsar stopped in front of a room, putting a key card in front of the handle. Talsar nodded, pleased, “Take as long as you need. There’s no cameras and no microphones. We know how to be discreet. Just knock when you’re ready to depart to your ship.”

What an idiot. No cameras and no microphone? Transporting back to the TARDIS was going to be a breeze, “Pleasure doing business with you.”

“Humans,” The Master told them, “Going to cut the line for now. Me and the Doctor have to have a private chat.”

They protested almost immediately, but neither the Doctor nor the Master kept the link open. It only showed how weak the Doctor was right now.

Talsar smiled, “Enjoy.”

The Master walked in, unsurprised to find himself in a simple room with only a bed in the middle of it. The Doctor looked at him when he arrived, a snarl on her face, only for her to stop when she saw it was him.

“How?” She asked, voice hoarse. She got up from the bed, wavering when she pulled herself into a sitting position. Before he knew what he was doing, he was at her side, steadying her by her shoulders. Her skin was freezing, and he realized she was shivering.

“What did they do to you?”

The Doctor laughed, low and dark, something that was painful to listen to. He took off his jacket and draped it over her shoulders, watching as she huddled into it. She looked exhausted, thin, and hurt. “I just need Kara to be okay.”

Always so selfless. “You were always too kind for your own good – haven’t you learned picking up strays isn’t good for you?”

“I don’t know,” She said, a wistful smile, “They seem to keep coming back.”

The Master nodded at that. After all, their lives were always in tandem with one another. Good vs. evil, kind vs. cruel, love vs. hate… They couldn’t be separated. He didn’t want them to be separated.

“I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Don’t,” he said, “Loath to admit it, but you would have done the same for me. No one, especially you, deserves this. Though I must admit, robbing that bank with your humans was fun. Bit of a disaster thanks to the clumsy one, but Yaz really did pull through.”

“Mas-” The Doctor swallowed, and both of them stopped.

He suddenly realized what his name meant to anyone other than himself. Calling himself Master was meant to honor an age-old promise; to never let anything be the master of him. It also helped that the Doctor hated it the moment he chose it. Now, however, his name felt like getting stabbed to the hearts for both of them.

“It’s fine,” The Master said for her, “Don’t-”

Koschei,” She said in Gallifreyan, and the Master was unable to look away from her eyes, “I missed you.”

There was more than anything he could put into words in that admission – more history, more promises, more forgiveness… More than the Master could hope to understand. But as she stared at him with wide, hopeful eyes, he felt something in his chest shatter, “Theta…”

The Doctor sagged in his hold, throwing him into a hug so tight that it was hard to breathe for a moment. Without another thought, he put his hand gently on the back of her head, and the other arm wrapped around her back.

“Come on,” The Master said quietly to hear, soothing, “Let’s get you back to the TARDIS.”

The Doctor nodded against him, head still on his shoulder, “I’m going to need to go into a healing coma. Shouldn’t be long, the tissue regenerator did most of the work, but while I’m out I need you to look after Kara.”

“Like she is my own.” He promised her, meaning it. If the parental bond he could feel throbbing within in her was anything to go by, this was one thing she could never forgive if Kara was hurt.

“And, Koschei,” The Doctor continued, tone hard, “When I wake up, there won’t be a single thing in my way from saving those girls. Every cell, every girl, every child will be freed from this place.”

“I’ll be by you side the entire time.” The Master promised again, the drums of war singing at the very thought of it. Finally, destruction to match destruction. If the Doctor wanted blood, who was he to discourage it? Who was he to stop the storm?

They would stand together as the Doctor and the Master – nothing but the universe itself could stop them.

Without another word, the Master tapped three times on his short-range transport, clutching the Doctor again as they disappeared with a short burst of white light.

He had a Doctor to take care of.

Chapter Text

Yaz was not overwhelmed.

Nope, not one single thing was overwhelming. She couldn’t feel her nails digging into her skin. She certainly couldn’t feel her leg bouncing up and down. She really could ignore the fact that girls her age were right there, in front of her, being sold to people.

So, no! She wasn’t panicking. She was levelheaded – she was calm. She had been traveling with the Doctor for a year, seen things that other people would go literally insane from, and walked right back to her everyday life.

This was just another adventure. She was fine.

“Relax,” Ryan said to her, just before they were about to split off, “You look like you swallowed a lemon.”

“No I don’t!” She hissed, but Ryan was already gone. She rolled her eyes, looking a Graham, who shrugged at her innocently.

“Don’t know what he means.” He replied, but then he became serious okay, “Come on then, love. Let’s find Kara.”

Yaz moved through the crowd, trying to smile as she moved passed more and more people. She was thankful she was wearing a tux instead of a dress this time around – not only was it good for running it, but it also meant that men would have a much harder time looking at her chest. Still, men, even aliens, looked towards her when she passed, and Yaz’s skin crawled the entire time.

Yaz spotted a child holding drinks, but it wasn’t the one that the Doctor had shown them. Yaz wondered if the Doctor had a plan to save this girl as well. She really didn’t want to know the answer.

“Found her!” Ryan said, “Right near the exits where the TARDIS is. I’m not sure I’m the best one to talk to her though. Wait, can anyone hear me? I think I only thinking to myself. Yaz?”

“I think we can have one-way conversations. I was doing it with Graham a little while ago.” Yaz turned, looking through the crowd and spotting…Yes! This was Ryan, and close to him was Kara. “I see you!”

Yaz moved through the crowd. In her haste, she accidently bumped shoulders with someone. Without even thinking, she said a quick “sorry” and tried to move on, only for a hand to wrapped around her arm.

“Excuse me?” The man hissed, coming in front of Yaz. He looked furious and Yaz found herself frozen as he continued to yell. “I expect a proper apology when you’re speaking to your betters.”

Yaz said nothing, more out of surprise than anything else, and stood there. She was trained for this. She had dealt with this exact situation a couple dozen of times, especially during her training. Yet, there was something so striking different here, where girls were already hurt, that had freezing.

“Oi!” A voice – Graham – called, furious, and storming to them. Yaz had never seen him look so angry before, “You let go of my wife’s arm this moment.”

Wife?

The man did so, much to both of their surprise, “Of course,” he apologized, looking only a Graham, “I should have realized.” And with that, he was gone.

Yaz looked towards Graham, both thankful and beyond confused. “Why did he…”

“Heard some of the others talk like that,” Graham replied, linking their hands together. His hand was steady, “Apparently, naming someone your ‘wife’ is some sort of…Code or something.”

Again, Yaz was faced with reality. That was…Disgusting, on so many levels. She had never really thought about her own marriage but using the title of ‘wife’ as some sort of…Property marker was something more appalling than she was willing to deal with.

She was finding many things too much to deal with.

“Are you okay?” Graham was leading them carefully through the crowd, towards Ryan and Kara. It was the first time that it was Graham instead of Yaz leading them.

Yaz squared her shoulders. “Fine.”

She had to be – for the Doctor, for this kid that she cared about. She had more important things to do than worry about her own feelings right now. Besides, nothing had happened.

Ryan was talking to Kara quietly, saying something to her that seemed to be doing more harm than good. The poor thing looked terrified. The silver tray she was holding was shaking.

“- we know the Doctor.” Ryan was saying.

Kara said nothing. Instead, her eyes went down to the floor, desperately trying to ignore them. Yaz heart cried out when she saw that she was wiping harshly at her face, trying not to cry.

“Hey,” Yaz said, kneeling down to her level as Ryan looked at them hopelessly. That’s what happened when you were an only child. “It’s alright, yeah? I know my friend Ryan is a little scary, but we are here to help you… The Doctor said to tell you that we know about…”

For the life of her, Yaz couldn’t remember the odd names that the Doctor said. Her pause made the girl look up at her.

“Theta and Koschei.” Ryan finished for her.

Kara looked up instantly, staring at Ryan with excitement in your eyes, “Really?” She asked, so quietly Yaz barely heard her. When she realized she had spoken, she looked right back down again. Again, Yaz’s heart hurt.

“Kara,” Yaz said, leaning in closer to her, trying to be comforting, “We want to get you out of here. The Doctor asked us to take you to the TARDIS.”

“How?” Kara whispered back.

Yaz smiled.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

No matter how much Yaz hated the Master, she had to admire his intelligence.

Not in a…Creepy way. No, he had the same mind as the Doctor. He had the same fanfare that the Doctor showed when she had her own ideas. Yet, when the Master presented them with one of his own plans, it somehow always insulted them.

And, besides, his little tech thing that stopped the scanners from scanning them as they made it back to the TARDIS went off much better than most of the Doctor’s plans. He was clever.

But, again, when it came to insulting them? He seemed to excel even more.

So really, Yaz couldn’t admire anything about him, considering he hated them based just on the fact they were humans. How the Doctor and the Master were friends, she didn’t think she knew. Yaz once had a friend in middle school that she blood pledged her loyalty to. (they found her mom’s sowing needles and pricked their thumbs) That being said, it took eight years and a boyfriend for that friendship to die.

How could the Doctor face saving the lives of all humanity (apparently multiple times) and still call a person that threatened them all a friend? How could Yaz justify that?

Yet… Yaz had seen kindness from the Master, hadn’t she? After all, they were here because the Master wanted to save the Doctor. He let them sleep before coming here, even when Yaz knew that Time Lords didn’t need as much as they did. He had warned her what she would see here… He had offered her a way out of doing this without judgement.

There was kindness… So why did she felt so nervous when the Master cut the connection they had to the Doctor and himself?

Kara, however, was blissfully ecstatic.

She was running around in circles around the console, pointing at different levers and lights, asking them if they knew what they did. The shy girl had disappeared as soon as she had seen the TARDIS, running towards the doors at full speed. Yaz went to take out the key from her pocket, but the TARDIS instead opened its (maybe it was her) doors for Kara the moment she came near them.

“The Doctor said,” Kara was saying, avoiding Graham’s legs once again, “That Theta and Koschei once traveled to a planet where everything was purple! Purple’s my favorite color.”

Kara finally stopped, realizing something, “Is the Doctor going to be here soon?”

Graham breathed out, looking a bit overwhelmed. After all, he had chased the girl for at least ten minutes, making sure she didn’t run into anything that could hurt her. His days of being a dad and moving into the title grandpa were coming too soon.

“A friend of ours is getting her,” Ryan told Kara, “She’ll be back soon.”

“She will, right?”

She shot a glare at him, but stopped the moment Kara came up to her, “I won’t leave without her.”

Yaz balked, surprised by Kara’s fierceness. She saw something in her then that she couldn’t quite recognize. No, she could recognize it, but it was something that she never could put into words. Often times, she saw it on the Doctor.

“I-”

And then, there were two.

The Doctor, wrapped in the Master’s arms, appeared in a blinding flash of white light. Yaz blinked, watching as they moved – staggered – away from each other. The Doctor’s hands went to the console, holding herself up as the Master watched with careful eyes.

“Doctor!”

Kara ran at her full speed, and Yaz watched dimly as the Doctor went to her knees to catch the girl, hugging her tightly to her chest. Yaz could only see Kara’s face, which was bright with a smile. Kara’s happiness was nearly contagious.

It was strange, seeing the Doctor so open to hugging someone. Ryan had once tried to pull her into a hug after a rather eventful escape from aliens with sunflower heads, and the Doctor had danced out of his hold before he could get close. The closest she had gotten to them was giving them a high five or (as she learned from Ryan) a fist bump.

Graham and Ryan came besides her. Graham watched the pair with glistening eyes. He slung an arm around Ryan and Yaz, hugging them close. Ryan shoved him off playful, to which Yaz couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

It was strange, how Graham could accept what was happening right in front of them. The Doctor was…What? A parent now? It’d been three months for her… Going through hell if Yaz was honest to herself. She expected to meet a whole different person… Expected someone a bit more broken…Yet, instead, she was greeted with someone who turned the worst situation into something else entirely.

Only the Doctor had that skill.

The Doctor released Kara, smiling brightly as well. She went to say something, but Kara interrupted almost immediately, “I don’t like your dress.”

The Doctor laughed, something just a bit too sad, “Me either.”

The Doctor turned to them. She stood up, looking a bit more elegant in that dress than Yaz could associate with her. But that smile was something she could recognize anywhere.

“Hello, fam.”

And, with that, everything fell back into place.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master watched as the Doctor clutched Kara to her, something unclenching in his own chest.

He had a daughter once – lifetimes ago, he held his baby girl in his arms, little hands and feet holding more power than any weapon he had ever held. He had thought that she would be his greatest creation – the reason his world was right.

The Doctor had been right next to him when he had whispered that confession. It was the Doctor’s smile that convinced him for years that caring for his daughter was what he was meant to do. Even with the drums in the background of his mind, he felt no use for them.

It was the Time War that ruined everything for him.

It was the Time Lords that ruined everything for him.

But he couldn’t focus on that right now… Not when he had the Doctor and her child to think about.

He watched as the humans had their reunion with the Doctor as an outsider. Instead of focusing on them, he watched carefully as Kara hid herself behind the Doctor’s leg, looking overwhelmed. To the Master surprise, The Doctor sensed it instantly, holding Kara’s hand the moment Kara held her up to her.

The Master watched as the Doctor hugged each human, one by one in quick succession, saying thank yous and asking Yaz if she was okay. It was amazing the way she could push pain as far down as she did, lower than the stratosphere below them.

The Doctor moved away from them, looking at him. “Kara,” The Doctor said, “I want you to meet an old friend of mine.”

Kara spotted him and finally the Master got to see her.

It shocked him – no, it hurt him. She had the same blue eyes his daughter had, piercing and full of wonder. It was like staring at his most painful past, his most agonizing mistake, and facing it head on, with no warning.

He shook himself, eyes moving away from hers. He looked at the Doctor, hearts loud in his own ears. “Hello, Kara.” He said, trying his best to smile reassuringly at Kara. He walked towards them, intending to greet her properly, only for her to hid behind the Doctor’s leg.

The Doctor took it in stride, “Right then!” She went to the console, dragging Kara along with her dramatically, flipping levers that that Master knew weren’t necessary.

Kara giggled, loud and bright, when the Doctor went to tickle her sides, “Come on, Kara,” The Doctor said, winking at the fam, “It’s been a bit. Failed my driver’s test when I was young. Mind helping me?”

“Helping you?” Kara asked, and the Master knew he was going to love this kid.

The Doctor smiled, “Press that.”

The Master watched as tiny hands went to press a random button. He knew, again, that it did nothing (it was meant for hallway lights that the Doctor removed centuries ago), but the TARDIS quickly played along. She changed and glowed, the orange pillars of light changing from a deep auburn to a dark blue, much to Kara’s amazement.

The old girl was sappy.

Kara gasped, watching the room as they took off, pulsing to the time vortex. The Master went besides the Doctor, helping her stabilize her ship. She smiled gratefully at him, looking towards Kara again, who was watching the panels spin and change.

“Kara,” The Master called, “I suddenly seem to not have enough hands.” He dramatically placed one hand behind his back, winking at her. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Yaz’s jaw drop, “You’ll have to pull that lever for me.”

“Okay!” Kara said, and instantly small hands pulled down on the lever. That was actually did do something. Nothing dangerous, but it leveled the TARDIS. The Master guided it slowly down with her, carefully watching the screens, even as he felt a tiny hand over his own.

“What’s she doin’?” Kara asked him, and the Master was again reminded of his daughter.

“You, my dear,” he told her, “Are keeping the TARDIS steady as she travels through the time vortex.”

“Cool!”

Again, the Master’s eyes went to the humans, huddled together, jaws dropped. To mess with them, the Master changed his expression, glaring darkly at them. Ryan actually jumped, bumping into Yaz on the way, who shoved him back into place.

“Stop scaring them.”

The Master smiled cheekily at the Doctor, “it’s still an open line.”

The Doctor stilled, looking towards her fam, blushing slightly. Before she could apologize, Graham did so first, “These things on are necks do come off, right?”

That was too good of an opportunity. “No-”

“Don’t even think about it!”

Kara looked to him, “You didn’t say your name. My momma says that its rude to talk to people without knowing their name.”

“Sounds like your mother is a smart woman.” He wondered, briefly, if Kara was referring to the Doctor, but he knew from the girl’s tone that that wasn’t true. “I’m…”

The Master squared his shoulders. If the Doctor couldn’t call him by his name, that he wouldn’t make a child do it, “I’m Koschei.”

Kara whipped her head towards him, looking at him closely, “Like the stories?” She whispered, filled with awe.

The Master looked towards the Doctor, who was doing anything but looking at him. “Depends,” The Master said, smiling. Sweet, sweet revenge, “Did the Doctor tell you who Theta was?”

The Doctor looked towards him, glaring, doing the universe sign in Doctor that screamed don’t you dare! Of course, the Master took it as a challenge. “Theta is standing right next to you.”

Kara looked to the left of her, where the Doctor gave the most awkward wave he had ever seen in his life. He absolutely loved this regeneration of her.

Kara looked confused, “That’s the Doctor.”

The Master nodded, “Wasn’t her first name, was it…Theta.”

Kara looked at the Doctor, then back at himself, then back to the Doctor. “Woah.”

“I don’t get it,” Graham said, just before Kara looked ready to explode with questions, “You have…Two names?”

“Time Lords pick their title when they finish their training…I…” The Doctor explained, but he wasn’t really paying attention. Kara was looking at him like he was some sort of hero. What had the Doctor told her?

“Did you really go to a planet that was all purple? What about the spaceship that you crashed on a beach with pink sand? And did you both really run away together? The Doctor said you can play piano, can you still? And-”

“Woah!” The Doctor said, “One question at a time, yeah? I’m sure the Mas – Koschei will have plenty of time to answer your questions. If you ask nicely.”

“But…” Kara said, looking confused, “But why won’t you answer them?”

Oh, Kara was clever, wasn’t she? No wonder why her and the Doctor got on so well. A young child that could recognize misdirection – he wondered who that reminded her of. The Master didn’t need the warning from the Doctor to protect Kara… He would have done it regardless.

“Do you remember the first night we were together?” The Doctor said, “When I was…Glowing?”

The Master looked towards her, surprised that she admitted such a thing in front of them. Then, all at once, he spotted the familiar glow of regeneration energy near her stomach.

Kara nodded, looking worried, “You wouldn’t wake up.”

“Right,” The Doctor said, looking towards all of them, “I need to do that again. For a couple more hours.”

“What?” Yaz asked, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” The Doctor said, mostly to Kara, “Just need some sleep.”

Kara nodded, looking too serious for a girl her age, “And after, we can get Lilly and Alexios? And everyone else?”

The Doctor held out her pinky, “Pinky promise.”

Kara smiled, wide and big, “Pinky promise.”

And, with that, the Doctor passed out.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Kara had taken the Doctor’s collapse well.

What Kara hadn’t taken well, however, was when the Master had tried to move her to her own room. Clad in pink pajamas that Yaz had picked out for her was the most terrifying thing the Master ever had the pleasure of encountering and he had grown up with the world’s best troublemaker.

The Master had carried the Doctor to her room, ordering Yaz to follow him. The two others he sent wherever they wanted. He found no use for them. The Master had grabbed some medical equipment from the med bay while Yaz had helped the Doctor out of the atrocious dress. When he had returned, IV supplies in hand, Yaz had managed to put the Doctor in a dark blue silk rob.

“Leave.” The Master told her, getting the saline ready. She would need fluids, maybe even some nutrients considering the indentation of her ribs.

Yaz hesitated, but eventually listened. “Come on, Kara,” Yaz said, “Let’s let the Doctor rest.”

Kara didn’t so much as twitch, “No thank you.”

Yaz and the Master shared a moment, looking to each other just a bit lost. The Master almost regretted it. Honestly, was he becoming close to her? How soft must he get?

“Kara,” Yaz said again, just a bit harder toned, “You can’t stay in here. We have a room for you to sleep. Aren’t you tired?”

Kara, again, did not move. Instead, she sat on the ground, back against the frame of the bed, “No.”

The Master shook his head. He should have realized this would happen. Kara was dependent on the Doctor now. They probably haven’t been separated in months and it wasn’t healthy to forcibly separate them, especially when the Doctor couldn’t reassure her.

“Go.” The Master told Yaz, inserting the IV. “She’ll stay here for the night. I’ll watch her.” Regeneration energy went to heal the intrusion, but thankfully Gallifreyan steel was resistant, design just for this. All throughout this, the Doctor didn’t twitch.

Yaz still looked unsure, “I’ll be down the hall if you need anything, Kara. Anything at all.”

Kara nodded. The poor thing looked exhausted, yet her eyes stay stubbornly open. She was a fighter.

The Master spotted one of the ugliest chairs, something that was a mess of colors, belonged in the rubbish, and so very the Doctor, and dragged it closer to her bedside, making sure he could watch over them both.

“Yaz is right,” The Master said, “There’s a bed in the other room.”

“I’m not leaving.”

The Master nodded, “How about taking a nap?”

Tired, cranky, rubbing at her eyes – all symptoms of a child having a temper tantrum, yet Kara never lashed out. Still, Kara shook her head in denial, “Not tired.”

“I’ll watch over her,” The Master promised her, “Both of you will be safe as long as you’re in the TARDIS.”

“The…” Kara was crying, and the Master had no idea when she had started, “The l-last time she was l-like this, the g-guards tried to h-hurt her.”

The Master forced his anger down as far as it could go – further than he knew himself capable. He had to, for Kara. “No one will hurt her here. I won’t let them.”

Kara nodded, wiping at her eyes, “Can-Can I have a hug?”

“Of course, little one.”

She rushed at him, throwing her entire weight into his chest, knocking the breath out of him. He didn’t care in the slightest. Instead, he wrapped his arms around the trembling girl, shushing her gently as she continued to cry. This was more of what he expected from a temper tantrum and his own daughter used to be the queen of it.

Kara crying lessened over time, and, eventually, she fell asleep in his arms. Without another bed, the Master placed her next to the Doctor. He watched as she shifted her weight, even in her sleep, to throw a protective arm around the girl.

The Master sat in the Doctor’s ugly chair for hours, going in and out of his mind space, sometimes even hers, to check on her.

Watching her like this, breathes small as she slept, he couldn’t help but feed into the rage she had displayed back in the Mansion.

An image of them, standing side by side, burning that prison and the Mansion to the ground came to his mind, bringing a smile to his face. Finally, a mutual understanding of destruction between them. He remembered his past regeneration; the way Missy had felt when the Doctor had grabbed her hand without fear. He remembered how much it hurt when Missy had pulled away. He hoped that they could stand together.

The Doctor moved suddenly, breaking him out of his thoughts. Her face scrunched in displeasure, an unconscious hand clenching into a fist. He hesitated, watching her discomfort increase as whatever nightmare plagued her continued to amass. It was when she whimpered that he couldn’t take it. He got up from his vigil, slowly bringing a hand to her shoulder.

She woke with a start, her arm coming around before he could stop it. Her nails dug into his wrist, bringing blood. He remained where he was, surprised more than anything, that the Doctor’s first reaction to a gentle touch was harsh retaliation.

She was below him, an easy target, and even easier to push her and get her off. Instead, he watched as wild, hateful eyes turned to recognition. Then, quickly, to horror. She released his arm immediately, breathes heavy and loud in the otherwise silent room.

“Sorry,” She was saying, eyes downcast, “Sorry, didn’t realize.”

The Master rolled the sleeves of his suit down, hiding the marks. They barely even hurt and it was ridiculous that she thought she had to apologize. “It’s fine.” He said calmly; softly.

She stopped with her endless apologies. Her eyes moved to Kara’s still sleeping form, visibly relaxing. “She’s okay.”

“Wouldn’t leave your side.” The Master replied, “Quite a little spitfire.”

“She’s stronger than she looks.” The Doctor groaned, bringing a hand to her side, “Not done yet. Tissue regenerators, brilliant invention but not great for overall health.”

The Master stayed silent, not willing to bring up this topic yet. Not willing to think about why she would have needed a tissue regenerator, or why she was beyond malnourished, or if they had dared to lay a hand on her. He didn’t dare think of it, not until she was ready for her revenge.

“It was…Awful,” The Doctor admitted, “It was torturous day after another, worse than anything the universe had thrown at me. I will never be able to repay my debt to you for getting us out…I won’t be able to repay my debt to Kara for keeping me alive.”

“But there’s still girls there, in those cells, hurting more than any being should. I can’t let them stay like that – I won’t let them stay like that. I don’t care how many people I have to get through, how many I have to hurt…I won’t let another girl suffer there.”

The Master smiled, wide and crazed, “Oh Doctor,” He said, “I’ve given you an army once. You don’t think I couldn’t do it again?”

“No,” The Doctor denied, and the Master could see that she was tiring, “No armies – no perverted Cybermen. Just you and me, in and out.”

“We’ll plan later,” The Master said, “You’re still healing.” And it gives him more time to convince her to let him do as he must.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow, “I can see you scheming.”

The Doctor laid down again, arm wrapping around Kara, who snuggled into the hold. She closed her eyes, but he could tell she wasn’t asleep yet.

“I know we’ll have to talk about Gallifrey one day.” The Doctor whispered. The Master froze. The thought of Gallifrey, of the Timeless Child, of what he had learned that led him to being O seemed like a distant past.

“One day.” He echoed.

“I…” The Doctor breathed out, “forgive you.”

The Master, as always, didn’t forgive himself.

Chapter Text

When the Doctor woke up, Kara wasn’t next to her.

She panicked, flinging herself up from the bed before she even knew what her own name was. A hand was on her shoulder in another second – light and comforting… Familiar in a way that had her physically relaxing before mentally.

She blinked, watching as the Master swirled in her vision. He stopped touching her the moment she was fully aware, but leaned back, sitting on her favorite recliner that he had dragged over. Funny, she hadn’t noticed that the first time she woke up.

“Kara went to find something to eat with the rest of the humans.” The Master said. How he knew that was what she was going to ask first only reminded her of their years together – both good and bad.

She leaned back in her bed, eyes catching a glimpse of her favorite blue robe on her body. She blushed, looking at him, but he held up in hands, “Yaz was smart enough to follow simple orders.”

“Yaz?” The Doctor asked, raising an eyebrow at him, “First time I’ve ever heard you use my companion’s name without me reminding you.”

The Master – he rolled his eyes at her, “She at least has a quarter of a brain. The two others are a waste of my time.” He paused, “You stopped regenerating an hour ago.”

She nodded, for now ignoring his insults to his fam, “A… Twelve-hour sleep would do that. It’s interesting. I’ve used more regeneration over the course of three months than I’ve had over a thousand years. Miracle I didn’t use another body.”

He hummed but looked uncomfortable - so uncomfortable that he got up from the chair and moved to the IV bag hanging next to her bed. She wondered what that could possibly mean – why he was so uneasy talking about regeneration energy – and then she simply gave up. It wasn’t worth the fight to pull it out of him now, not when she had Kara to worry about.

The Doctor began to the process of removing the IV canal from her arm, reaching for the syringe, only for him to swat her hands away.

“You’ll leave a scar.” He said, as if she even cared about a little mark on her skin. Yet, she let him take it from her hand. She laid back on the bed contently, watching him. It was…It was surreal, strange, confusing, awful, wonderful… The Doctor didn’t have enough words.

She knew it had something to do with her ridiculous hope.

It became suffocating in the room when she thought about it, when she could blink and see Koschei again just a millisecond after she opened her eyes. It was too much to hope for; an old hope that pulsed hot and painful in her chest.

“Thank you.” She said, just before gloved fingers touched her bare arm. He paused, just enough for the both of them to notice, before going back to work.

“My reasons are my own for helping you, Doctor,” He said, his hands soothing, his words said kindly, “There’s a past that needs to be explored, more than even you could run away from. But you’re a fool to think that I would let anyone but myself hurt you.”

She looked away from him, a sinking feeling her chest, “Of course,” She said, steady even in all her hurt, “Holding a power over me has always been your endgame.”

The IV was out of her arm, yet his gloved hands stayed, “It was never about power.”

She still couldn’t look at him, “Being better, than.”

“No, Doctor,” He said, soft and honest - Painful. “Equal. All I’ve ever wanted was to be your equal.”

Finally, she looked at him. She looked at the way his eyes were wide, vulnerable, at the way his hair stood nearly straight up by the amount of times he had run his hands through it. She looked at the dark circles on his eyes, the frown lines.

“I have never seen you as more or less as me,” She whispered, “I’m sorry-”

“Don’t.” He said, slipping, “Don’t turn self-righteous on me now, Doctor. Wouldn’t want to hurt your friends to prove a point.”

“And what a point it is,” She replied, “That you’re… Cleverer than me? A better component – a evil component?”

“Is that what you see me as?” The Master asked, like a switch had been flipped, “What a beautiful visage. You and me, good versus evil. Congrats, Doctor, you’ve defined our relationship down to its simplest terms. Well done.”

He moved away, and the Doctor found herself following before she knew what she was doing. Her feet hit the ground, only for her legs not to follow. He was there in another moment, guiding her back down to her bed as her head spun.

His hands were soft – comforting, gentle, caring… She felt betrayed.

“I…” She couldn’t think, “I have never seen you as evil. Brilliant, ingenious, so much smarter than me… But you’ve never been evil. Not to me – never to me. Do you know why?”

He said nothing. His stare would make lesser men run.

“You care.” She replied, “You looked at a scared, hurt little girl and you cared. You looked at Kara and you saw someone that needed help and you helped – without reward, without any scheme. I know there’s good left in you! I’ve always known that there was.”

“You’re wrong.”

“I’m not!” She yelled, furious that he didn’t understand. Tears rushed to her eyes, ones she didn’t even know she had left. She tired her best not to let them fall, but they did anyway. She looked down, away from him, ashamed.

“I’m not wrong.” She repeated, even as she forced his hands off of him, unable to look at him.  

She heard him turn away from her, gathering the various IV supplies from around the room. She didn’t know if it was simply to do something or just to ignore her. She sighed, rubbing at her face, a heavy weight on her shoulders.

“I killed them,” The Master said, suddenly, quietly – an admission that hurt him, “Gallifrey, the Time Lords, the children… are burned by my will – no one else’s. I take responsibility for it. I’m proud of it.”

“You always have a reason,” The Doctor said, trying so hard to stay subjective. Even as she imagined Kara as one of those children, “The Timeless Child.”

She had always hated Gallifrey. She hated its teachers, its motto, its very air. They had created the Time War, they had forced her in a hell of her own design for billions of years, they thought themselves better than everyone.

And yet, of course, it was home. It was were she raised her children, where she met her wife, where she met the man in front of her… It was the place that made her, that put her here in this very moment, with him. She hated that planet more than any other, yet she couldn’t let it go.

He turned towards her now, looking at her with wide eyes, “Yes,” he said, “Yes, all for the Timeless Child.” He shook himself, laughing, “For the Timeless Child, of course. The irony, Doctor, might just kill you.”

Madness had always been an easy fit for him, “But you want to play hero again.” He continued, “The Doctor, saving those imprisoned unjustly. No, not for revenge, but for those innocents.”

She hated him. She hated that, for once, he was wrong. She hated that she wanted to kill Talsar slowly, with purpose. This time, she finally craved blood. It scared her… Yet, next to the Master, she felt justified.

“I want Talsar dead.”

The words hung in the air around him. As she gathered to courage to look up at him, she felt a soft hand on her face, guiding her chin up, forcing her to look up at him.

Theta,” He breathed, reverently, “Your wish is my command.”

XxXxXxXxXxXx

Showering.

She had protested it when the Master had suggested taking one, wanting to see Kara first, but as she was moving around, she realized she also couldn’t stand how greasy her hair had become.

It gave her a chance to think of her own feelings.

It scared her. She wasn’t ready to admit to herself that she wanted Talsar dead. She certainly ready to admit it to her oldest friend. She turned the water hotter, scrubbing at her skin. The sting felt good, washing away all her literally deadly thoughts. It felt like she deserved it.

She didn’t know how much she missed warm water on her skin. No, how much she missed burning hot water on her skin. She missed the privacy, the smell of her soap, and conditioner. She had a hairbrush! She had a steamy mirror and the TARDIS gave her her favorite outfit.

Wearing her clothes again felt like freedom.

The Doctor looked at herself in the mirror; with her long coat and yellow suspenders, and felt herself relax. She smiled at the mirror, watching as the stranger slowly morphed into someone she recognized. The shower had done her a world of good, her hair not a tangled mess, but now down passed her shoulders. She was different – different hair, different smile, different eyes… But it was still her.

Some of it…She was still the Doctor, but she was more now; more bitter and crueler. She was a parent -a good thing – whether Kara saw her that way or not, but the experience also left her darker.

She was the Doctor.

Wasn’t she?

XxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master ended up in a random bedroom in the TARDIS. To his surprise, the TARDIS had gifted him with a rather stylish bed, black silk, and even left him clothes. “Thanks, old girl.” He said, but the TARDIS didn’t say anything else. Still annoyed with him then.

He sat on the bed and put his head in his hands. He groaned, wishing that the conversation they just had would melt out of his head.

“You care.” Her voice whispered.

He raked his nails through his scalp, relishing the pain. He cared. Right, of course he cared. He cared about destruction, and the pain he could cause others. He cared about doing what he wanted. He cared about getting what he wanted, damn the costs.

The Master cared about the Doctor.

It had been his whole life – chasing after the Doctor as she ran. Chasing the thing she thought he was. He thought…he thought for the longest time he had achieved that – that Missy had achieved that. Of course, following the Doctor always led him to the same point.

Disappointed.

Though, one thing did come for it. The Doctor had admitted, finally, that she could – would kill. It was invigorating imagining the Doctor high above everyone else, with him right beside her, standing as equals as they extracted their revenge.

Their revenge. Interesting, that he considered the Doctor’s pain his own. Almost frustrating – maddening. Why he cared so much for her had always been his downfall.

He shook himself. He was dramatic, not melodramatic. Besides, who knew what those humans were doing to poor Kara. Kara – the child with enough hurt that the Doctor latched on to her tighter than any companion. He would never dare to hurt a child, especially one already so burned by the universe, and he found himself truly enjoying Kara’s company.

He missed his daughter.

Maybe, just for a moment, he could imagine he got her back.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

When the Doctor walked into her kitchen, she was greeted with familiar arms around her hips. Though nearly ten years old and tall, the Doctor lifted her into her arms, giving her a proper hug, much to Kara’s enjoyment.

“Doctor!” Kara greeted, smiling wide, running away from her the moment the Doctor put her down, buzzing. She went back to the table, and the Doctor got a glimpse of a rather large chocolate muffin on her plate before Kara was offering it to her.

Kara hadn’t seen real food in months, longer than the Doctor, yet she offered it to her. It amazed her. “Thank you, Kara.”

“You’re welcome!”

The Doctor smiled, tearing a piece of it off, greeting her fam with a smile as she did so, “Morning, is it?” The Doctor asked them, washing away the memories of her time as she pretended that this was just another breakfast with her fam.

“Tea?” Graham asked her, but he seemed just a bit too awkward for it to be normal. She nodded anyway, knowing that it had been only days for them. She imagined it must be hard for them, not really knowing the effects of time travel.

The muffin melted in her mouth. She nearly groaned at the taste. Chocolate – it healed wounds. “Please. Lots of tea. Whole kettle, in fact. Missed it.”

That slipped out. She could tell by the way her fam’s smiles fell, “Your hair got long,” Yaz said, breaking the silence, “It looks good.”

The Doctor’s hand went to the frayed ends of her hair, “Not very good for running, though. Constantly in my eyes.” The Doctor said, not thinking about the way guards had used its length against her, “Might cut it.”

Small talk: it was not, and never will be, her forte.

It was then that the Doctor noticed Kara’s cup was empty, “Do you want more water, Kara?”

Kara looked at her with wide eyes, “We can have more?”

It was like being struck by lightening – an intense bundle of emotions, sparkling and hot, incomprehensible stabbed her through the hearts. It was always the simplest of questions that brought her to her knees. She went to reassure Kara – meant to put on a big display of giving her whatever she wanted. To make it funny and whimsical as she should.

She couldn’t. She couldn’t.

“You, my dear,” Koschei, saving her once again, “Can have anything you want.”

Kara got up from her seat once again, running full force at her oldest friend, greeting him with such absolute trust that she felt herself slowly come back to life. She watched as she giggled, as the Master smiled with her, hugging her to his chest.

Ryan had already refilled Kara’s cup, but it was the Master that presented it to Kara like it was gold – maybe it was, “For you, m’lady.”

Kara giggled again, “You’re funny.”

The Master looked towards her, asking silently – without any hints to her fam – if she was alright. She nodded, getting up from her seat, busying herself with making tea. Her hands shook, but no one said a word about it.

“I’ll get it, love,” Graham said, taking the mug gently from her hand, giving her a smile, “Go on. Sounds like everyone needs a good cuppa.”

She went to argue, but it was Kara that stopped her, pulling on her sleeve, “Can I rope your hair?”

She nodded at Graham, realizing the fight wasn’t worth it anyway. All that rest, and she still felt exhausted, “After you eat,” The Doctor said to Kara, “And shower.”

Kara nodded, “And then rope!” She decided and went back to her breakfast.

“Braids!” Yaz said, surprising the group. She blushed when she noticed the attention, “Sorry, my sister used to call it the same thing.”

“Girls,” Ryan scoffed, “It’s a different language.”

Humans.” The Master commented, handing her a piece of buttered toast. Her stomach grumbled at the sight of it, and the Master raised any eyebrow at her. She ignored him, opting to sit next to Kara.

“You can’t tell me you understood that.” Ryan asked, probably forgetting who he was talking to.

“Human gender roles perplex me,” The Master said, looking bored, “Honestly, you can have women in war in your time, but braiding a girl’s hair is where you draw the line.”

“So you know how to braid then?” Yaz asked him, laughing, “Really?”

It was like watching a mouse play with a cat, yet with less danger. The Master actually seemed to enjoy the conversation, and the Doctor was content to watch.

“I was the queen of the French braid,” The Master said, “Deadly, even.”  

“Did he just say queen?” Yaz staged whispered to Ryan, who did a very poor job of holding in his laughter. Graham, meanwhile, was eyeing the Master with something close to respect.

Little did they know the Master last reincarnation was a very scary lady with some very impressive braid work. Queen had been an apt description – and Mistress a better one.

It was nice. Sitting in her TARDIS’s kitchen, surrounded by people she loved, knowing that she was safe inside these walls…It was nice. Her hands stopped shaking, and she found herself relaxing in her seat, content to listen to the sounds of life around her.

“I’m done!” Kara declared, revealing the crumbs of her muffin, “Shower?”

“Yup!” The Doctor said, glaring at the Master: behave. “Come on, Kara! Most important thing is a shower… And breakfast… And-”

“Chocolate! And ice cream! And…”

Needless to say, the list went on for a while.

XxXxXxXxXxXx

Kara was showered, and the Doctor ended up staying in the ridiculously large bathroom as her hair got braided. It was soothing, just the two of them, completely safe.

“Kara,” The Doctor asked, “What do you think of… Koschei?”

“He’s nice,” Kara said, “He helped me sleep last night.”

The Doctor tried not to seem so surprised, “That’s nice.” She wondered how kind he truly was, to stay at both her and Kara’s vigil. Their conversation was a lot to take in.

“And Yaz helped me pick out my pjs!” Kara said, cutting off the Doctor’s train of thought, “Did Yaz help you pick out your clothes?”

The Doctor laughed, “Well, she did, actually, but it was a while ago.”

“I like Yaz…” Kara said, the same happy tone, “And Ryan and Graham. And the TARDIS! I like the TARDIS. She’s nice to me. And really pretty! And orange. She should have purple lights!”

“You know,” The Doctor said, whispering, “if you ask nice enough, next time we’re in the console room, she might do that for you.”

Kara gasped, excited, “No way!”

The Doctor winked, “Remember, only if you ask nicely.”

Kara nodded enthusiastically, “Can we go now?”

The Doctor hesitated, “Actually,” She said, turning towards Kara, “I have to talk to you about something.”

Kara happy mood disappeared, “Are you leaving?” She asked, fearful.

The fact that Kara went right to thinking that the Doctor was leaving her hurt. She knew, of course, that having the other women in that cell, including her parents, gone without any warning would cause abandonment issues, but it will always hurt to see it.

“No, of course not,” The Doctor denied, “I won’t leave, Kara. Not without telling you.”

Kara nodded, looking less upset, “Okay.” She said softly.

The Doctor had to let Kara go…just a little bit. She had made a promise her. She owed it to Kara. This had to happen… So why did it feel like she was losing Kara?

“How would you like to go back home?”

Kara froze, “Home?”

The Doctor moved to hold Kara’s hand, who squeezed back tightly, “Home, back to your mom and dad?”

Kara smiled, big and wide, “Now?”

The Doctor got up from the ground, pulled Kara with her, their hands still together, “Right now.” The Doctor went to guide her along to the console room, only for Kara to stay, frozen to the ground, eyes down.

“Hey,” The Doctor said, kneeling down to her level, “What is it?”

“Will,” Kara bit her lip, “Will you come with me?”

The Doctor looked Kara in the eyes, “I am never leaving you. Not again.”

It was Kara, then, that dragged the Doctor along, running faster than her little legs could take her.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The TARDIS was purple.

Bright, almost obnoxiously, purple. The columns glowed dimly, but pulsed when Kara touched her hands to it, much to Kara’s delight. The fam did the same, Ryan looking amazed, then quickly become bitter.

“The TARDIS does hate me,” He muttered, causing the Doctor to hide a smile, even as there were butterflies in her stomach at what was about to happen, “I told you, Yaz! She’s been moving my things!”

“You’re lucky, then,” The Doctor told him, “The TARDIS was particularly mad at a friend of mine. Hid every single washroom from her for a week. Nasty business.”

Her three companions looked at her, slack jawed. Ryan put a hand a hand to one of the pillars, patting it gently twice, “You can move my stuff anytime.”

Yaz and Graham lost it at that, hands on their knees as they caught their breath. The Doctor moved to the console, nodding at the Master as he looked over the screens.

“You’re in a time machine,” He said, quietly, watching as Kara made it to every pillar, giggling as Graham played a game of tag with her, “You could keep her here for years.”

“I made a promise,” She said, flipping the levers, refusing to not go through with this, “She deserves this, more than anyone.”

The Master hummed, eyes only on Kara, “And yet, the selfish hearts yearn.”

The Doctor said nothing, instead connecting the telepathic circuits, revealing the console that connected a mind to the TARDIS’s navigation. “She’ll be safe there,” She said quietly, convincing more herself than him, “at least while we save the others.”

“Okay, Kara!” The Doctor yelled, smiling as Graham threw the girl into the air when she was distracted, causing her to scream in delight. Graham groaned as he caught her, muttering something about being old.

Kara ran to the Doctor, jumping up and down, “We can see my parents now?”

The Doctor nodded, smiling dimming. This was it. “Put your hands here,” The Doctor guided her to the rather sticky circuit, but Kara took it in stride, “Now, think really hard about your mom and dad, okay? Remember your dad’s jokes, and your mother’s blonde hair. Remember your house, where you lived, your bedroom…”

Whoosh.

The TARDIS moved, groaning as the engines came to life. The Master got to the levers first. To compensate, the Doctor watched the screens, surprised when she saw the destination.

“New-New York.” She said, aloud, “In the farms.”

No.

No.

The year. This couldn’t be the right year. This couldn’t be the right date. This – this was famous. This was a fixed point in time. She could hear it, in the way the TARDIS groaned and complained. This was when war revenged this planet. When the famine started, causing riots in the streets. This was long after he had taken Rose Tyler here.

“Kara,” The Doctor said, trying not to sound scared, “Can you tell me the year?”

Kara titled her head, “Yeah! 2,894!”

The Master moved away from them, rubbing a hand over his face. He looked… He looked furious. No, devastated – murderous. “You never asked her the year,” The Master said, laughing, “Of course.”

“Stay here,” The Doctor told her fam, ignoring him, “Keep Kara inside.”

“Doctor,” The Master warned, “Don’t be a fool.”

There was hope. There had to be hope. There was always hope.

Without a word of warning, she rushed out the doors, flinching when she heard Kara call her name. When she made it through the familiar blue doors, she was hit with a wave of heat. She stumbled, tripping on sand, blinking as it made its way to her eyes.

She was in front of a house.

No, she was in front of pile of rubble.

It had the earmarking’s of a house. Smashed glasses, solid stone, old crop fields… It was decimated, destroyed by a bomb probably only days ago, still smoldering. Kara had missed her reunion with her parent’s by days.

Kara’s parents were dead.

Before she could truly process that, before she could understand what that meant, the doors to her TARDIS were flung open. The Doctor grabbed at Kara before she even realized that her body was moving, squeezing her into a tight embrace, holding her before she could see the full damage.

“Put me down!” Kara demanded, kicking her wildly, “Doctor! Doctor, I want to see my momma! Put me down!

The Doctor didn’t flinch, even as little, sneakered feet caught her in the ribs. She didn’t stop as Kara continued to scream and yell. She didn’t say a word as she made it back to the TARDIS doors. She could only listen as Kara screamed and raged, trying everything she could for the Doctor to let her go.

The Doctor fell to her knees when she made it, the doors closing behind her. She let go of Kara, watching numbly as she banged on the TARDIS doors. “Let me out!” She screamed, little fists hitting the door, “They’re right there! I want to see them!”

“Kara.”

Kara ran back to her, tears on her face, “No.” She said, quietly. She was trembling. “Please.”

Kara fell into her arms, sobbing loudly into her shoulder, clutching at the Doctor as if she were the answer, “no, no…Not them too.” The Doctor didn’t have answers – not for this. The only answer she had was to rock the girl gently, crying with her, even as Kara’s sobs grew louder and louder.

Sleep,” The Doctor said in her mind, pulling on their bond, “Kara, sleep.”

It hurts – it hurts – it hurts.

Kara’s cries quieted, slowly, painfully. The Doctor held the back of her head as she finally fell asleep. She carried her bridal style in her arms, unable to look at anyone other than Kara’s tear-stained face. Even in her dreams, she cried out.

All she’s been through, all of the pain… Nothing was worse than this.

Chapter Text

The Doctor couldn’t bring herself to lay Kara on her bed.

She tried to do so for a moment – got as far as laying her down – only to latch onto her again, burying the sleeping girl into her chest. The Doctor instead laid on her bed, back against the headboard, and placed Kara on her legs - the same position they had used to sleep for months.

Kara whimpered in her sleep when the Doctor settled. Gently, she shushed her, playing her Kara’s hair. Kara went silent, a deep sigh leaving her.

The Doctor’s tears fell silently, miserably, and when they started, she couldn’t stop. She was a fool for thinking that the universe would be kind. She had always been a fool for thinking that the universe owed anyone a sliver of kindness.

There was something nagging at her – drawing her closer and closer to something she wasn’t ready to think about. Yet, as she stared at the sleeping girl – at the child who had lost so much – she couldn’t help but have such a dangerous thought.

Kara was her daughter.

Kara Traver, a human from New-New York, was her daughter.

She knew that already, of course. She knew it the moment she had tried to save Kara a little pain the moment they had met. She knew it when the child had introduced herself, eyes bright with curiosity at the slightest hint of kindness.

She knew that Kara was hers.

Yet why now, after knowing that Kara’s parents were gone, did that scare her?

She had loved being a parent. She gotten yelled at multiple times by the Time Lords that the Doctor had other responsibilities than looking after their family. It had been one of their reasons for leaving Gallifrey in the first place… For dragging Susan off to see real stars. Family had always meant more to them than everyone else on Gallifrey.

Why now did father – motherhood scare her?

Perhaps it was because she was so alone now.  

The Doctor thought about how it felt to hold their firstborn in their arms, how their hearts had swelled with such pride and joy as their wife smiled in relief. The Doctor… She never had parents, not really. She grew up in an orphanage, dark and cold, and had only understood kindness through her only friend.

Her only friend.

Maybe that’s why they idea of parenting Kara was so painful. The only link she had to her family was someone that had hurt her multiple times – someone that she had loved, wholly and dearly, and had used that against her.

She didn’t have anyone to help her raise this beautiful, hurting girl.

It was then, at the very thought, that someone knocked on her door.

She knew who it was immediately – who would be brave enough to check on the Doctor. Her fam loved her, she knew that, but they didn’t know her. It was something wildly different, keeping the fam at arm’s difference. Safer.

The Master was anything but safe.

“Get out.” She snarled mentally, unwilling to disturb Kara.

She could physically feel the kickback from that sentence. It had been her instinct, to protect Kara from another hurt that could occur. Sure, the Master cared now, but what would happen when the Master decided that their game was no longer worth playing?

“She’s asleep?”

The Doctor sighed, angry at herself. It wasn’t fair of her to push him away – not when he showed how much he cared about Kara, “I’m sorry,” She said, “Come in, quietly. Please.”

The door opened, revealing a stoic looking Master. He was still in the three-piece suit, rumpled in places, and…Ripped? She didn’t dare question it, not now.

The Master took his shoes off at her door, quickly and efficiently, and dragged his feet across the wood, quiet as he could. He ended up on the side of her bed, looking down at them both, eyes soft when they landed on Kara’s sleeping form.

“She’s in so much pain.” The Doctor said, chasing away yet another nightmare.

“She has you.” The Master said, suddenly, “That’s more than you had.”

The Doctor winced, hand stilling in Kara’s hair, “I don’t know how to be enough.”

The Master looked towards the side of her bed - an empty space. The Doctor hesitated, but eventually nodded, letting him lay next to them, Kara in the middle. Kara shifted in her sleep, leaning away from the Doctor ever so slightly, hand reaching for something.

The Master took her hand in his own, rubbing gently at her knuckles. Any doubts of letting him this close to Kara halted in her mind at the touching sight.

“She has you, too.” The Doctor admitted, “As both the hero from the stories and your interactions with her.”

“Koschei is dead,” He said harshly, “You shouldn’t-”

The Doctor shush him, sending a wave of her affection for him without even realizing she was doing it. Embarrassment pulsed through their mental link. The Master took it in stride, looking at her closely, studying her.

“So trusting.” He whispered. The time, the Doctor got a taste of his own affection, laced with confusion and hurt. His emotions had always been more intense than her own – always twisted and turned with something else. She had always been straightforward.

The Doctor leaned towards him, her head sitting comfortably on his shoulder as they both looked down at Kara. If the Doctor closed her eyes, she could imagine them as a normal family, waking up to the sound of loved ones around them.

In her room, filled with pictures and memories of friends long gone, it was silent.

“Will you leave?” The Doctor asked, “After we free everyone, after we kill Talsar…Will you leave?”

The Master didn’t say anything for the longest time. She waited, dread filling her to the point she felt ready to explode. She went to move away from him, too hurt, but he instead laid his own head against hers, causing her breath to hitch.

“There’s a lot you don’t know,” The Master said, “History that will… Burn you. I thought for the longest time it would ruin me – would ruin you. And I wanted that. I wanted that more than you could ever understand.”

“If you could forgive me for what I’ve done to Gallifrey even without knowing my reasons… I believe…” He paused. “Not too long ago, a mad man with angry eyebrows asked me to stand with him.”

She didn’t dare move.

“If there’s one thing in this universe that I would stand for…”

The Master held out his hand to her. When the Doctor took it, fingers intertwining as they should, tears in her eyes.

It felt like home.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

They had fallen asleep like that.

The Master’s hand had left her own. Instead, his arm was under the Doctor’s head, supporting her. Kara, meanwhile, had thrown a small arm on top of him while she was snuggled up on her side to the Doctor, who had managed to throw a protective arm around her body. How the Master was able to fall asleep in such a position, still on his back with not a pillow to be found under his head, was a miracle.

“She’s calm,” The Master said, surprising her. Not asleep then. “Didn’t have a single nightmare.”

The Doctor lifted her head, giving him back his arm, “Thank you.” She smiled warmly at him, feeling at peace even as a war raged in her arms.

He shuffled away slowly, flexing his wrist, but froze when Kara moved.

“Go,” She said softly to him, “I don’t know what she’ll be like when she wakes up, but-”

He nodded, even before she finished, “Take care of her.”

It spoke volumes that he even asked her – how much he genuinely cared for her. He looked at her as he got off the bed, eyes taking the in scene. It must have been surreal for him, seeing her with a child once again.

“I…” He stopped. He rolled his shoulders, a new nervous habit that she was picking up on, “I’ll keep the humans distracted.”

“No hurting them.” She warned, even though she trusted him, “Physically or mentally.”

“Semantics, love.” He said, and then was gone, picking up his shoes with a grace the Doctor wished she had.

She smiled, privately, amazed by how much he was willing to change. She hoped that it was her – at least part of it – but she knew that she had Kara to give credit to for his change in behavior.

Kara groaned, stretching, but not waking.

“Kara,” The Doctor whispered, shaking her shoulder, holding her closer as she woke up, “Come on, love, time to wake up.”

Kara woke.

It was silent – no quick movements, no leaping out of her bed in excitement… No Kara. She was voiceless as she turned towards the Doctor, eyes dull. The Doctor opened her arms, letting Kara fall to her chest without a word.

“It’s okay to be sad,” The Doctor told her, “Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay.”

Why?” Kara asked her, voice groggy from tears, “Did… Did I do something wrong?”

“Oh, Kara,” The Doctor said, feeling her pain, “No, love. It’s nothing you did. There’s nothing that could be done.”

Kara didn’t say anything, but her grip lessened, even as her tears continued. She pulled away from the Doctor, rubbing harshly at her eyes. “Can… Can I see the purple TARDIS?”

The Doctor squeezed her hand, “Come on.” The Doctor said, getting out of bed, letting Kara get up on her own. The Doctor followed her through the halls, giving her both the space she needed to process and her presence if she wanted it.

She had experienced grief throughout her lifetimes many times. Everyone person had been different, and every way of coping had changed; each more painful than the last. Yet, she found she had no idea how to help Kara.

The TARDIS was seeped in blue when the Doctor arrived at the console room. At the end of the day, it was the Doctor’s TARDIS and the TARDIS’s Doctor…It wasn’t surprising that she was reacting to the Doctor’s mood. The Doctor hovered her hands over the levers, whispering a soft “thank you,” to her friend.

Kara laid her back against one of the pillars, and the TARDIS was happy to dazzle her with a light show. It was enough to draw out a small smile from the girl, and the Doctor admired the scene in front of her. Even in great sadness, Kara found beauty in the simplest of things.

It was Yaz that walked in hours later, holding two mugs of something steaming hot. She took in the changing lights, impressed, and then smiled warmly at the Doctor. “Graham made something for you two.” Yaz said, and the Doctor felt a rush of gratitude for her kind companions.

Yaz placed the mugs on the ground, revealing a rather good-looking hot chocolate filled to the brim with marshmallows covered with thick chocolate syrup. “Extra marshmallows,” Yaz said, “That was Ryan’s doing.”

“Thank you, Yaz,” The Doctor said, then glanced at Kara, “Kara, I’m going to have a chat with Yaz here. I’ll be right there, in the hallway.”

Kara, thankfully, was much too distracted by the steaming mug of a sugar rush in front of her, “Okay.”

The Doctor got up from the ground, letting Yaz lead her just to the start of the hallway. It was unreal for a moment, having Yaz, her fam, back in the TARDIS when so much had happened. The Doctor opened her mouth to say so, only for her to realize it would be quite awkward to bring it up once again. The fam had only three days to get used to her and Kara.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Yaz said, just a bit awkward herself, “We were all worried.”

“Thanks,” The Doctor replied, “For saving me. It was brave, and stupid, and I’m sure you went in with less than half a plan.”

“Not true!” Yaz argued, but was smiling, “You go in without plans all the time! Not fair to judge us on doing the same!”

“That’s my thing – quick on my feet! Who needs a plan when you got a sonic screwdriver!”

“Normal people,” Yaz commented drily, “Normal people need a plan. Besides, the Master was the one with the plan.”

The Doctor nodded, a bit on edge, “Always did have one.”

The Doctor didn’t want to talk to her about this. Though, after everything, she would answer any questions she had, even if she didn’t want to. They deserved answers.

Yaz shuffled her feet, uncomfortable, “Do you think…Do you want us to leave?”

The Doctor stared at her, confused at the turn of conversation, “No!” She said, just a bit to quick, “I mean, if you want to go, of course! I’ve been unfair with you, haven’t I? We can leave now- if you want. Be back only an hour or so after I picked you up and-”

“Doctor!” Yaz interrupted, looking alarmed, “I don’t want to leave.”

The Doctor, again, stared at her, “Oh. Oh, that’s…Good?”

“I was just worried,” Yaz said, “That we were… Intruding. You have a lot going on, a grieving kid to take care of. I would understand if you need a break from us.”

The Doctor felt so ridiculously thankful for Yasmin Khan. “Thank you.”

Yaz looked surprised, “Of course. Doctor, I know you…Hide things from us. I know we’re not the closest or anything, but we’re all here if you need us, yeah? You can talk to us about anything that’s bothering you. I mean, you’ve taken us to see some of the most amazing thing, the least I can do is call you my friend.”

“Yasmin Khan,” The Doctor said, “Brilliant, kind Yazmin Khan. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Yaz blushed, “Well, at least you would have the Master here.”

The Doctor hummed, teetering on agreeing or disagree. Yaz was right, of course. He was the one that saved her. Without the Master, she probably would be… It didn’t matter. Without him, she wouldn’t be here – she wouldn’t have Kara.

“All things considered…” Yaz said, stopping her train of thought, “He’s smart. You smart, really. And he didn’t hurt us. I don’t trust him, but I get why you do.”

The Doctor nodded, looking towards Kara, “I thought he had changed once before. It…” Bill – wonderful, inquisitive Bill, “Didn’t work.”

Yaz made a face, but didn’t immediately advise her against being the Master’s friend. “He cares about Kara,” Yaz offered, “Properly cares. Somewhere in there, I think he cares about-”

A scream of rage stopped them both.

The Doctor turned, watching as a mug made its way through the air and to the ground, chocolate liquid and glasses going everywhere. Kara looked at it furiously, eyes filled with tears. She went to pick up the other mug, but the Doctor was faster. She stepped in front of Kara, arms outstretched, trying to be both comforting and stern.

Kara looked at her, still ragging, other mug clenched in her own hand so tight that it was pale white. She went to say something, only for her shoulders to drop, “I’m s-sorry.”

The Doctor sighed in relief, taking the mug from her hands. Kara barreled into her, hugging her tightly, “Please don’t leave me.”

The Doctor watched as Yaz went around the TARDIS console, picking up bits of glass, carefully maneuvering around them as the Doctor tried her best not to step on any overly large pieces. The Doctor thanked her with a smile.

“Kara,” The Doctor said, “I will never leave you. No matter what happens, no matter what you’re feeling, whatever you do, I am not leaving.”

Kara’s cries continued, but at least she stayed in the Doctor’s arms.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Three days. After Yaz’s conversation with her, she decided to land the TARDIS back on Earth, letting her companions go home and get some rest. It also allowed Kara to form some sort of schedule. Wake up, eat breakfast, take a shower, visit one of her companions, back to the TARDIS to eat dinner with the Master, and go back to bed.

Throughout it all, Kara had many mood swings. It varied throughout the day, exhausting her, and she felt like she was splitting at the seams. The Doctor would spend most of her nights fighting nightmares. It was the Master that suggested she let them play out instead of keeping them at bay.

“Nightmares are a coping mechanism,” The Master reminded her, “Let her figure it out.”

That was the second night. The Doctor kept vigil the entire time, wide awake, feeling useless as she watched Kara whimper and cry in her sleep, only to eventually quiet down. It hurt to watch and it hurt even more that she wasn’t doing anything.

Kara had temper tantrums now. They were sudden, and violent, and always ended with her crying her eyes out in the Doctor’s arms. It was frustrating, but understandable. It pulled at her hearts when Kara would ask her if she was leaving, every time.

They were currently eating lunch at Graham’s place, and this time the Master had decided to come along. The Doctor watched carefully as Kara played with her food instead of eating it. Thankfully, it was the Master that encouraged her to do so, and the Doctor had a moment to lay her head on the table, closing her eyes.

She heard Koschei call her name, and she hummed but didn’t respond. For some reason, the table was rather soft…And comfortable…And a great place to rest her head.

Time Lords didn’t usually need this much sleep. In fact, when it was just her, she could weeks at a time without sleeping. Not exactly healthy, but she had never felt this tired. She wondered, dimly, if it had to with being so mentally close to Kara, a human, and child that needed many more hours of sleep that an adult needed.

Either way, she hummed one more time, and then fell into a deep sleep.

XxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master shook his head, not surprised to find that the Doctor had finally collapsed.

Kara went to check on her, but it was the Master that stopped her, telling her off a little with a quick, “let her sleep, love.”

Kara tilted her head at him, “She’s tired?”

The Master watched as the Doctor’s hair, tangled on her face, moved and tickled her nose as she exhaled. He felt oddly sentimental as he took in the scene. When was the last time he saw her so exhausted? It must have been when they were children – when Theta had passed out yet again on their desk in Borsua’s classroom?

“Kara,” Graham said, suddenly, “I got this big puzzle. You think you wanna give it a try?”

Kara nodded excitedly, hopping of her chair and following Graham.

It was then he realized he was stuck with only the humans. Why did he ever agree to going to lunch with them? He was perfectly content to be fiddling with the TARDIS, repair mechanisms that the Doctor had let rust. Honestly, for someone so smart she was very forgetful.

“You’re good for her,” Yaz said, sitting across with him. He must really be losing his touch if she didn’t even hesitate in doing so, “Both Kara and the Doctor.”

The Master raised an eyebrow at her but said nothing. He didn’t dare consider that she was right. “Yes, well,” The Master said, “Had a bit of practice.”

“You were a father.”

She said it such conviction. It bothered him that she was so sure. What was he becoming? He drummed his fingers on the table, beats of four – as always – and glared at her. At least Ryan, the really annoying one, saw the threat for what it as. He looked a Yaz, but she continued.

“What was their name?”

The Master’s four-beat tune stopped. He looked closely at the young girl, wondering what in the universe’s name gave her the right to ask him such a question. Graham came back into the kitchen, grabbing a glass, unaware that the Master’s was itching to wrapped his hands around Yaz’s throat.

It was then that the Doctor moved, mumbling something. The Master stopped, watching her, wondering how bad of a nightmare it was going to be. He pondered if the Doctor was forgetful enough to disregard her own trauma amid someone else’s. Considered it, then knew that she did. She probably forgot that she would continue to have nightmares.

The Doctor had always been a self-sacrificing idiot. He had, after all, used that against her on multiple occasions.

“Aurora,” The Master said, eyes on the Doctor, “Her name was Aurora.”

It was silent in Graham’s flat, maybe awkward. The Master didn’t care. He didn’t understand why he told them, nor did he particularly care. Though he swore to stay with the Doctor, it didn’t mean he had to civil to her friends.

“I’m sorry,” Graham said, “I lost my wife only a ‘couple of months ago. I can’t imagine losing a child.”

The Master hummed, going back to his tapping. He didn’t care about Graham’s loss. Not really. People lost each other every day, why should he bother to comfort them?

“Grief is not something I had the luxury of – not when there was a war going on.” The Master continued, again watching as the Doctor twitched in her sleep. The humans didn’t notice.

“War?” Ryan asked, “On… On Gallifrey?”

The Master looked at him, “She told you,” He said, laughing, “I’m surprised. I imagine I brought that on.”

They looked uncomfortable. Good.

“She said you were her oldest friend-” Ryan said, “that you went very different ways.”

The Master hummed once again, “Yes,” He said, darkly, “we did.”

“You loved her.”

“Don’t speak of things you don’t understand.” He snarled, reaching his limit for human stupidity. He looked towards the Doctor one more time, deciding that she could live with him for a night, and got up from the table, relishing in the fact that they all took a step away from him.

“Koschei!”

The Master’s leg was suddenly stuck to the floor. Kara had latched onto him tightly, fearfully, halting him in place. He took a calming breath, forgetting the humans, and bent down to Kara’s level, “It’s alright, Kara,” He said gently, “I was going back to the TARDIS.”

Kara shook her head, frightened, “What about the Doctor?”

The Master was confused, “You’ll both go back to the TARDIS when she wakes up.”

But Kara still looked upset. She looked towards the humans, and then, leaned into whisper in his ear, “She’s scared.”

The Master pulled back, looking first to Kara, and then back to the Doctor, who was still fast asleep on the table. The Master sighed, wondering if it was ploy by the young girl. He got up, walking towards the Doctor, watching as her chest rose and fell.

Kara moved faster than himself. She poked the Doctor’s arm, rather harshly, yet the Doctor didn’t stir in the slightest. The Master watched again as Kara poked the Doctor’s face. Kara looked at him, worried.

“What’s wrong with her?” Yaz asked, but the Master ignored her.

Gently, he put his hand on her shoulder, intending to wake her up, and –

And he was in a cell. He was freezing and it was hard to breathe. When he lifted his shirt to check why, he spotted the myriad of bruises on his ribs. He took in a shaky breath of air, wincing when it barely made a difference. His eyes were unfocused, yet, just in his peripheral, he caught sight of someone watching him.

Someone… Someone he knew. “You left me.” The child said, tone light even at the harsh words, “Why couldn’t you save me?”

Talsar appeared from out of the shadows, a knife in his hand, and stabbed Kara through the chest, the blade sticking out the other side. There was so much blood - on her body, soaking the cell’s floor in red, almost at his feet.

Kara reached from him, hand broken with crooked fingers, and the Master screamed as –

The Doctor woke.

Both of them sprung apart from each other, the Doctor tripped over chairs as she tried to get away. She looked around wildly, taking in the people standing in front of her.

“What?” She breathed, eyes landing on him. Her eyes then went down, where Kara was currently hiding behind his leg. The screaming had frightened her, and she was shaking against him. The Doctor stared, and then her hand went to her temple, rubbing at her eyes.

The Master, even though not his dream, still felt shaken. He expected nightmares, but nothing like that – not from the Doctor.

“I…” The Doctor shook herself, “Sorry, I fell asleep…?”

“Yeah,” Ryan said, when no one else seemed capable, “Are you alright?”

The Doctor nodded, “‘Course! Right as rain!”

No one believed her, him included, but they let her lie.

“I’m gonna go…” The Doctor said, bumbling and high energy, even in the wake of exhaustion, “Think I’ll take a nap on the TARDIS.”

“Right,” Graham said, trying to sound normal and falling flat. The Master wasn’t impressed, “We’ll see you tomorrow, doc?”

The Doctor nodded, even as the Master felt a bit perturbed at the use of such a ridiculous nickname. “Tomorrow! We can get crisps!”

Kara ran to the Doctor without another word, and the Doctor was quick to let her drag her to the door. Kara said a quick “goodbye!” to them all, and the Master was forced to watch as she stumbled out of the flat.

“You should go,” Graham said, and he was annoyed that he found himself agreeing with him, “Go on, then. She needs you.”

The Master wondered what timeline he had crawled out of to have the Doctor’s companions ask him to go after the Doctor. Again, he found he didn’t care. He made his way out the doors, not bothering to say goodbye to the humans, and caught up with the Doctor before she made it to the TARDIS.

She said nothing as he came next to Kara’s side, holding her hand when she held it up to him. He imagined, for a moment, that the history between them had melted away.

“I want him dead,” The Doctor said in his mind, “I want him dead… For Kara’s sake.”

The Master never had a better reason to extract revenge.

“Tomorrow.” He promised, “We’ll begin our plans tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

The most important thing on the Doctor’s mind was saving Thalia and Lilly, and Roxie and Alexios.

She stood, looking over her notes at a different angle, circles of Gallifreyan swirling together as her eyes blurred. She blinked, trying to focus, only to get frustrated with herself. She had been doing this for three hours now, sitting next to Kara as she slept, and she felt like she hasn’t gotten anywhere.

She needed to be in two places at once – both the Mansion and where they kept everyone. That was easy enough, given that she had a time machine, but the problem arrived when she realized that she had no idea where Talsar was.

She could pop in a moment after the Master had saved her, freeing everyone right after that event. Best case scenario: that went well, and Talsar was there. However, if Talsar escaped, allowing him time to move the prisoner ship to a new location, she had no way of tracking it.

Or, she could save the prisoners in the cells first. Best case scenario: she got everyone out and Talsar was there. If he escaped her there, he could order everyone out of the Mansion, meaning she couldn’t save Thalia and the other children, and they would be sold. She could track the mansion again, but that just prolonged Talsar’s operation.

Fail in getting Talsar in either scenario and she failed not only herself, but the other women.

The Master would probably have a much deadlier plan. She imagined more patience, more guns, more killing… She could see it – threatening and killing the aristocrats at the Mansion, destroying Talsar’s reputation before he even got the chance to run. That’s what the slave trader relied on after all – without his reputation, his world would crumble into dust.

A weaker her would even agree that it was a better plan.

She sighed, glancing towards Kara. Last night she didn’t have a single nightmare – her emotions were finally starting to settle. Six days – six days of hell for both of them – and it seemed Kara was coming to terms with her new reality.

She glanced at Kara once again, one last time, then quietly made her way out of her room. The Master would be puttering around somewhere, and she intended to… She didn’t know. She needed to talk to him – to someone who understood her.

The TARDIS was kind enough to light her way through the hallway, and soon she found herself in the console room. She did so quietly, for once thankful for being so small, and got a glimpse of the Master underneath her console, fixing something she had probably forgotten about.

He looked… Calm. Collected. Normal. His hands were steady as he stripped two wires, then twisting them together. He grabbed the pliers that laid on his chest, crimping them, no doubt, perfectly. She had always been the engineer, but the Master had been a good student.

“If I didn’t know any better,” The Master called out, and she blushed spectacularly at being caught, “I would say you’ve become sentimental in your old age.”

“Not sure you can bring my age into it.” She replied, coming up beside him. She sat down next him, watching as he taped up the ground wire. It was perfect – she was jealous.

He went onto the next set of wires, and it was only now that she realized he was tweaking the lights. Well, maintenance was maintenance, and she was happy to let him do the work. She said nothing, wanting to enjoy the peaceful moment… Yet…

She could never sit still for long. She tapped her finger on her thigh, a soundless rhythm that wasn’t even a nice beat. The movement then moved to her ankles, where she bounced them up and down.

“Stop that.” The Master said, focused, “It’s annoying.”

“You’re annoying.” The Doctor said, more out of reflex than anything. It was definitely childish, and she knew that the Master found it so when he raised an eyebrow at her.

She shrugged, smiling, “It slipped out.”

“Yes,” He said, deadpanned, “Childishly repeating me just ‘slipped out’.”

Never good at verbally sparing him unless she was using her words to distract him, she took the pliers from his chest and put them behind her back, stopping his work. She beamed at him when he sat up, glaring at her.

He sighed dramatically, holding out his hand, “Give it.”

She leaned back, slipping the pliers in a drawer behind her, and revealed her hands, “Give what?”

He looked at her, both exasperated and enthused, and smirked, “A dangerous game, Doctor.”

“Danger is my middle name,” She winced, “I changed my mind – Remind me not to do that again. Many things I can get away, that was not one of them. Off topic though, isn’t it? The point is, I have no idea what you’re talking about – with the pliers, of course.”

The Master grinned, “Has anyone told you you talk too much?”

She nodded, not hurt by the sentence in the slightest, “Long list, that. Might be a bit if I tell you all of them.”

He hummed, leaning back towards the console. The Doctor followed him, confused why he had suddenly given up, only for him to reveal the pliers in his hands, waving them in the air triumphantly.

She spluttered, hands going to the drawer she had shoved them in, only for it to be empty. She stared at him, slacked jawed. “Wha-”

“Ah-ah,” He replied, voice like velvet, “Can’t reveal all my tricks.”

The Doctor spluttered again, looking towards him and then to the console of the TARDIS. She opened the other drawers, running her hands along each one, looking for how he had done it. Throughout it all, she found herself ranting, going on and on about how her TARDIS had betrayed her, how stupidly brilliant he was, random topics that came to her head. All throughout it, the Master never revealed how he did it – never said a word.

She was on the last drawer now, slightly peeved, only to find him staring at her. He was leaning casually on one of the blue pillars, arms crossed loosely, eyes light. She blushed at the attention and her inability to enjoy silence.

She was just about to ask him again, just because it was driving her insane, when he said something that had her freezing in place.

“You’re scared.”

Her hand froze on the drawer, thoughts darkening immediately. It was peaceful, just a for a moment, that it just the two of them in the TARDIS, teasing each other. She gripped her console, centering herself – no time for dreams, “I’m not.”

He moved up next to her, shoulder to shoulder, and the Doctor felt herself tense, “You are.” He whispered in her ear.

Her hands were shaking, “I asked Clara once,” She said, softly, scared to say the words, “if I was a good man.” She laughed, darkly, “She said she didn’t know… And then, after trying to save a Daleks – long story – she said… That if I try to be, then that’s probably the point.”

“Sounds like the arrogant human,” The Master replied, and the Doctor felt angry at her friend for disregarding Clara’s thoughts. “But-” He amended, “She may have had a sliver of a brain.”

The Doctor nodded yet she felt as if the Master was missing her point, “If I do this - if I kill Talsar… What makes me any better than those I have defeated?”

“Nothing,” The Master told her, tone indifferent, “This man isn’t any different than a Dalek or Cyberman – This man isn’t an unjust Time Lord, or an arrogant commander. No, he’s a combination of those, the lowest this cesspool of a universe has to offer and… Granting him mercy? Well…”

“Who’s to say you aren’t a villain for letting him go free?”

The Doctor turned to him, looking deep into his eyes, wondering how far she could allow his words to travel. Is that how he viewed this? Is this how he justified his actions – not by the end result of his destruction, but by the benefit it gave to the universe?

He shook his head, “No, Doctor,” He said, softly, “Don’t paint me as the hero. I told you, if there was one thing I would stand for… This is it. I may glorify destruction, but make no mistake, killing this monster is something I will relish in.”

Disappointed, but not surprised. “Why?” She asked him.

His eyebrows furrowed, “Why?” He echoed.

“Why do you care?” She said, “If you had known about this, about Talsar’s slave trade, would you have hunted him down?”

The Master laughed at her, “So dense. All these years, and you still don’t understand.”

She didn’t – she really didn’t, “Understand what?”

He gripped her shoulders suddenly, violently, thumbs digging into the soft part of her flesh – almost painful. As if the very thought of hurting her was repulsive, he moved away. His hands trailing down her arms – slowly, tenderly, and finally gripped her hands. His eyes were wide, openly painful and honest.

“I love you.”

The Doctor’s breath hitched, overwhelmed. Yet, her hands moved by themselves, gripping him tightly, afraid he would run if she let go. She closed her eyes, knowing what was coming next, knowing that he would laugh at her as he revealed that he was just doing this to rile her up.

Only… As she waited for the Master to toss her aside, to make fun of her belated hope, he moved closer to her. He pushed her lightly against the console, leading her hands around his shoulders. She opened her eyes, surprised, only to get a split-second look at the wonder in his eyes before his lips were upon her.

He was soft against her, hardly moving... She realized, suddenly, that he was seeking permission to continue. She moved towards him, bringing them chest to chest, and opened her mouth. She moaned as his tongue swiped at her bottom lip, causing him to wrap his arms around her waist, bringing them even closer than before.

The Master’s back collided with the console. He pulled her towards him by the waist, even as the Doctor wondered if that hurt. The Doctor ended up straddling him, awkwardly. She did not care. They broke apart, breathing heavily, but the Master didn’t stop.

He kissed her quickly, a peek, and then another on her cheek, even as the Doctor chased him for more, Tell me.” He demanded. “Tell me you feel the same way.”

It was the easiest thing in the universe.

“I love you.”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

They had lost articles of clothing along the way to the Master’s bedroom.

Her coat was discarded, along with the Master’s jacket. They would laugh about it later, maybe even tease each other, but right now all the Doctor wanted was him.

They made it to his door. It was a miracle. He opened it without breaking their passionate kiss, and the Doctor vowed to never be jealous that he was so graceful. He smiled, maybe reading her thoughts, and maneuvered them around again, using his larger stature to throw her gently upon the bed.

Quickly, while he wasn’t touching her, the Doctor checked on Kara. She blinked, slipping into her mind space, happy to find that Kara was still peacefully asleep.

“You’re beautiful.”

She was pushed back to reality in stunning view of sparks. Her hearts racing, she was reminded of a time before… Before any of this. When she was just a child, lost and alone, and she had found someone that actually paid attention to her – that listened to her as she ranted about the stars above them.

That had called her beautiful, long before they knew what that meant.

“So are you.”

The Master stood frozen. He looked down at her, staring deep into her eyes. He licked his lips, once, quickly, and the Doctor found herself following the movement. All at once, she felt something building inside her – a heat indescribable and burning.

He smiled, wickedly, eyes on her lips, “I do believe you’re staring, Doctor.”

“I do believe you’re staring, Koschei.”

The Master shivered. Slowly, so slowly, he made his way down to his bed. The sight of him on his hands and knees, crawling towards her, only made the burning need of want stronger. She moved her hands, playing at the button of his shirt as he straddled her, hands to the right and left of her head.

She should feel threatened by the way he was looking at her, like she was five course meal – she felt anything other than that.

He was… He was gorgeous. Pupils dilated with lust – he looked at her like she was the only thing that could ever possibly matter. His hands, moving not of her own volition, went to smooth the hair out of his eyes, only for him to lean into the contact.

“Tell me you don’t want this,” The Master whispered, kissing her palm reverently. The Doctor’s breath hitched, “Tell me to stop.”

“No.” She told him, hearts racing.

His eyes closed, whole body shuddering against her – she couldn’t help thinking it was hot. The Doctor’s hands went back to the buttons on his shirt, only for him to gently move her hands away. Instead, he pulled at his own shirt, letting buttons fly and snap off. It would have been funny and ridiculous, if she hadn’t felt so delighted by finally being allowed to run her hands over his chest.

In another moment, he was helping her with her own shirt, getting it off her so fast she didn’t realize she wasn’t wearing a bra before his hands were upon her breasts and – Rassilon who knew these things were good for anything but back pain?

“Stunning.” He whispered, both mentally and out loud, and the Doctor found herself melting into the sheets, closing her eyes. This felt like a dream – this felt like a dream she never wanted to wake from.

His hands roamed over her, playing with her breasts, but soon traveling down, teasing at her ribs, scratching lightly at them one by one. She squirmed, only for him to growl, putting his mouth to work as he licked and bit at her neck.

She learned quickly that hands were nice, but his mouth was much better. She moved her head, allowing more access to her throat. He took that in stride, sucking and licking from her shoulder to her collarbone, all the way until he reached the fragile parts of her neck.

He used his teeth, scrapping at the delicate skin, causing a loud whiny noise to escape from her throat. She would have felt embarrassed, only that it seemed to spur him on. His hands began to move again, teasing at the waistband of her trousers. Her hips buckled, so desperate to get his hand where she wanted it.

She moved her hand to his, intending to show him exactly what she wanted, only for him to grip her wrist tightly. In another moment he was pinning her hand to the bed, above her head. She gasped, surprised, only for him to lean all his weight on her, trapping her. His lips went to hers, only all she could feel was his weight on top of her, holding her in place and -

“No!” She said loudly, ripping her hand away, causing him to stumble. That was – that was… She couldn’t. Not after what they had done to her – not after they had imprisoned her and made her hang naked and cold in that cell. She panicked. Chains were wrapped around her wrists, suspended in the air and pulling at her shoulders. She was cold, and scared, and humiliated and she wanted – she wanted –

He moved immediately, stilling above her, no longer on top of her. He hesitated, and the Doctor felt the electric atmosphere die. Embarrassment flooded through her, frustrated with herself, and he was quick to notice it.

He brought a hand to her face, cupping her cheek, eyes soft, “We don’t have to do anything more.”

She nodded, eyes closing. She didn’t want him to see her cry. “Thank you.”

She was cold and clammy – ashamed as she came back to. Feeling vulnerable in a way she never had before, she turned on her side, away from him, pulling the black silk sheets around her, covering her chest.

The Master said nothing. For a terrible moment, she was worried he would leave. “I’m sorry.” She whispered, hoping it was enough to make him stay.

“Don’t.” The Master said, tone harsh. She was glad she couldn’t see his face. “Don’t apologize.”

She curled in on herself. She bit her lip, trying to stop her cries. She was being ridiculous. She wanted this – she wanted to be with the Master. She wanted this. It wasn’t fair that Talsar had stolen this from her as well.

The Master, in her inner debate, had retrieved her shirt. She took it from him quickly, unable to look him in the eyes, and slipped it on, once again crawling underneath his sheets and on her side facing away from him.

“Doctor…” The Master said. She could feel him move, going back into a kneeling position on the bed. “Look at me, love.”

She shook her head against the pillow. She couldn’t. She couldn’t bare to see the disappointment in his eyes.

“Theta,” He said, “look at me.”

The Doctor was hopeless to go against him. She turned, wondering if this was the moment he left her, but she was instead greeted with warm eyes that she hadn’t seen for more than a millennium. He too was laying on his side, and she watched as he brought a hand to her face, brushing the hair from her eyes.

“I’m not leaving.” He promised – vowed.

The Doctor tried one more time to keep the tears in – just one more second and she could turn away – but she couldn’t. Tears slipped from her eyes and soon she was openly crying, sobbing as she thought about her own pain in suffering – of the bruises they put on her body.

The Master moved her. He made her sit up, letting her head fall to his shoulder, running soothing circles in her back. He didn’t judge, didn’t tell her to stop, just held her as she raged in her arms.

She remembered the water boarding – she remembered the burn of her shoulders, the kicks to the chest… She remembered being left in the cold and dark, naked, listening to the jeers of the Rarfre of how beautiful she would be like that, on her knees forever, unable to fight back.

She cried for her dignity, for the pride she had lost. She cried for Kara, when Talsar had told her she had been sold… When she had considered ending it there and then.

The Master laid her against the bed, and she was too tired to protest. He laid them both of their side and the Doctor’s frantic hearts finally stopped when he threw an arm around her middle, bringing her tight against his body in a comforting embrace.

She tangled their fingers together, squeezing tightly, and then, just as she let go…

She fell asleep.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master anger was only growing.

The Doctor was projecting loudly in his mind. For the past few minutes, it was easy to bat back the thoughts, but he was a weak man when it came to the Doctor. He knew he was capable of keeping her out of his mind, but through the few blurry images of what he had seen… He wished to know more.

One memory came barreling into him, and he found himself sinking into it instead of ignoring it.

The memory itself was fuzzy… Like she couldn’t keep her eyes open long enough. Either way, the memory formed, and he was able to get a glimpse of the Doctor, thrown to her knees, coughing roughly as water forced its way out of her system.

The Doctor, the real Doctor walked next to him, observing him, pausing it just before one of those Rarfre bastards was about to kick her in the chest.

“You shouldn’t be here.” The Doctor said, but she wasn’t angry.

The Master couldn’t look away from the grotesque scene, “You question whether killing one person will make you as evil as them…”

“This is a soldier following orders.”

He didn’t mean to, but an agonized laugh left his lips, “You think this creature didn’t gain any pleasure from this?”

It was mean, and cruel, and it was a trick that wasn’t fair. After all, this was the Doctor’s mind, not his. Yet, he resumed the memory with a snap of his fingers, watching as the beast kicked the Doctor, causing her to cry out.

The guards laughed as she again tried to take a breath.  Even then, they didn’t stop. The grabbed at her arms, pulling her towards the tub of water and the Doctor pulled away weakly as-

The memory snapped. The Master was forced up, floating through the waves of consciousness as she brought them to the forefront of her mind. She was sitting, legs dangling off the edge of nothingness. She looked calm, but the Doctor was skilled at focusing her anger for the right moment.

Hell hath no fury like the Doctor scorned.

“Loved the lesson on morals,” The Doctor called, tone light, “Rude trick, by the way.”

He didn’t sit next to her, “I don’t understand you.”

“I imagine you never did.”

That hurt. He didn’t let it get to him, “The idea of snapping that beast’s neck is the only other thing keeping me sane,” He told her, “How you would rather run from this than get the revenge you so rightfully deserve torments my mind.”

“The first thing?” She asked. It was like she was ignoring him, “What’s the other thing keeping you sane?”

“You, of course.” He replied, and he realized that it was far easier to say that sentence more than ever before. Ah, how ingenious. In his own anger, he didn’t realize she was pulling the truth from him.

She nodded once again, head bowed. Her hair fell to her face, hiding her from view. “Sit with me?” She asked, patting the ground next to her.

He did so slowly, ready for her to change his mind. As he sat down, she put her head on her shoulder. Even in her subconscious, she was warm.

“Show me?” She asked, voice small, “Show me how you would do it.”

He wondered what she really wanted. Either way, he had many solutions to this simple problem. He could list them for most destructive and successful all the way to the most docile thing he could possibly imagine. He looked at her small form, looking out at the vast expansion of her mind, and nodded to himself.

He replayed the memory in his mind, wincing when he could feel his ribs give way under the Rarfre’s boot. A large part of him wanted to wrap her in his arm, shielding her from it all. He had done that when they were kids – two people against a classroom of idiots. That part of him will always still be with him. The other one, the older part, thirsted for blood.

“We’ll split up,” He explained, bringing up the blueprints of the Mansion for them to view, “We may only have one TARDIS now, but there’s plenty left on Gallifrey.”

She laughed hollowly, “Why am I not surprised you saved them.”

He was forced to ignore that, “You’ll go save those in the cells,” He continued, stealing her layout of the place from her mind, “Forget fighting them. You’ll go at night, when the patrol is low. You’ll pop into each different cell.”

“The TARDIS won’t like that.”

“No,” He said, smiling, “She won’t. I imagine you’ll owe her a couple of weeks in the Time Vortex.”

She didn’t laugh. “The guards will notice those girls gone.”

The Master smiled wickedly, “Remember those time bombs you so lovingly created? Well, a little reverse engineering, and you have yourself a perfect distraction. Sent them back ten minutes in each location, and you’ll have frozen those moments… Just enough to think nothing suspicious is happening.”

“That’s…” She blew out a puff of air, “That’s brilliant.”

“While you’re off being your usual self,” He explained, “I’ll be causing… Well… A little panic at the Mansion.” He placed a marker in the middle of the ballroom, “I’ll go late, when most of the girls have been dragged to those awful rooms in the back.”

She shuttered against him, “I heard the guards say that… Patrons usually stay back there with the girls for most of the night.”

“Even better,” He said, “I’ll park the TARDIS at the end of that hallway,” He said, placing another marker there, “Causing havoc there first. I’ll need to convince the other women that following me into the TARDIS is their best chance.”

“Thalia,” The Doctor said, “Thalia was one of the women with me. She’s a fighter. If you find her, she’ll rally the other girls enough to get them to follow you.”

That was perfect. “I’ll work on finding Thalia first, then. Easy enough. I’m meant to be there with you, so asking the guards where someone is being kept shouldn’t be too hard.”

“If you go late enough to the Mansion,” The Doctor said, staring at the two blueprints, “The other children will be back in their cells. So, if you… ‘Cause havoc’ in the back first, there won’t be a chance of losing them.”

He nodded, “Even better.”

She titled her head, “Why go to the ballroom?” The Doctor asked, “If you’ve got everyone safe-”

“To draw Talsar out, of course,” He said, “Threaten his perverted guests and he’ll come running.”

“Or he’ll run,” The Doctor replied, “He’s a smart man – he’ll know when he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

“Then we’ll chase him,” The Master said, banishing the blueprints, “One little blip of this man in time, and we’ll find him. He won’t be getting away from me.”

“From us.”

The Master turned to look at her, at the fire in her eyes. Oh, what a beautiful image she was. Her righteous fury painted her as a vengeful angel.

“From us.” He agreed.

The Doctor turned suddenly, looking at something he couldn’t see, “Kara’s waking up.”

“Stay,” The Master said, grabbing her arm before she could wake herself up, “You need to rest.”

The Doctor looked surprised, “Kara’s not herself. I don’t know-”

“I’ll get you if there’s a problem.”

She looked unsure, “I…” She shook herself, “Okay. Anything at all, and you let Kara come and get me.”

His hand was still wrapped around her arm. He thought of how she looked in that cell, destroyed, and how he had forced her to watch that again, “I’m sorry,” He said, before she could push him out, before he could regret saying the words, “I never meant-”

“I know,” She said, eyes soft, “I know, Koschei. If… If we’re going to work, if we can truly have a relationship…”

“One day at a time,” He said, “We’re immortals, love, we’ll have time to go over every grievance.”

“You and I both know it’s not just grievances.”

He allowed a smile at that, memories of a time in their father’s field washing over him, “No. Not just grievances.”

And then he was gone, back in his own mind – his own body. In their sleep, the Master had thrown a leg around the Doctor, legs tangled together in the blankets. Her hand was still on his, light and soft, and she had leaned against him completely.

Rassilon he never wanted to leave.

He allowed himself one more indulgence, kissing her cheek as he moved away. She didn’t wake, and for that the Master was grateful.

He grabbed a shirt from his closet and rushed out the door. He made it to the Doctor’s bedroom in record time. Luckily, when he made his way inside, Kara was still asleep. On closer inspection, she was tossing and turning, in the throes of a nightmare.

Old instincts were hard to ignore. His hand went, to her furrowed borrow, shushing her gently, watching as she relaxed. He smiled to himself, watching as she slowly made her way to the waking world.

“Koschei!” She exclaimed, excited, when she saw him. She was up from the Doctor’s bed in another moment, standing on top of it, and throwing her arms around his neck.

It had been many, many long years without his daughter. It had been even longer since he felt such a heart-warming hug. He didn’t realize how much he had missed being a parent. It was disorienting, going from the Doctor’s friend to Kara’s parent, but that had always been his life.

“Good morning, Kara.” He replied, hugging her back. In fact, he picked her up, much to squealing joy. He brought her down to the ground, letting her grab his hand.

“Where’s the Doctor?” She asked, looking around the room, worried.

“She needed a bit of rest,” The Master explained, letting himself get dragged to the door, “She’ll be up after breakfast.”

“We should make her breakfast in bed!” Kara said, “My momma-”

Kara stopped in the middle of the hallway. The Master waited for tears, but Kara shook herself, “My momma used to like breakfast in bed.”

The Master squeezed her hand, “The Doctor would too, I’m sure.”

Kara nodded, happy once again, dragging him to the kitchen. She was adorable, and sweet, and loving – and the Master would do anything for her in that one moment. No, not in that one moment. He realized he would do anything for her period.

Just as the Doctor had, he felt himself following Kara into parenthood.

“Come on, love,” The Master said, just as they made it to the kitchen, “I think there’s some of your favorite muffins left.”

“The chocolate ones?” Kara asked, and when the Master nodded, she let out a happy little “Yes!”

The Master made his way around the kitchen, placing Kara’s apple juice on the table, and made his way to the kettle. Tea would be good for the Doctor, as well as something other than a chocolate filled pastry.

“Koschei?” Kara asked.

The Master hummed, distracted as he shuffled through her pantry. Honestly, was there anything healthy in here?

“Do you think the Doctor would be upset if I called her my mom?”

Bam!

The Master’s head hit the top of the shelf, and it took a lot for him to hold in a rather vulgar curse word. Breathing out his nose, he turned towards Kara, who was looking at him with wide eyes. This was good, wasn’t it? The girl had no one, and Rassilon knew that the Doctor loved Kara. This would be what the Doctor wanted.

Even so, he had to do this gently. The Master moved to sit next to Kara, trying his best to give her a reassuring smile, “Did you talk to the Doctor about this?”

Kara shook her head, looking down.

“I think,” The Master said, “That the Doctor would be honored to call you her daughter.”

“Really?” Kara whispered, hopeful.

The Master nodded, “Absolutely.”

“Will…” Kara looked down again, “Will you be with us? As a family?”

The throbbing in his head was nothing compared to the kick in the chest Kara just delivered.

That was his plan, wasn’t it? He told the Doctor he wasn’t leaving, he meant that. Just… There was always that small window of escape – the past that he could drag up if she started to push him away again. If his hatred for her grew too out of control, as it always did. He could leave and he knew the Doctor would hate him, but the choice was still there.

Leaving Kara? Leaving someone that looked up to him so completely? He would never be able to do that.

This time, and for the first time, the Master gathered Kara in a hug, holding her tightly to her chest. “Of course, little one.”

If a few tears were shed behind her back, no one would ever know.

Chapter Text

“You’re leaving.”

The Doctor winced, that particular sentence a stark reminder of the same thing Kara had said to her, “I’m coming back! Five minutes tops for you lot.”

Yaz crossed her arms, “You intend on coming back. It’s not the same thing.”

Ryan elbowed Yaz, coughing, but Yaz crossed her arms, “Without us. You’re going without us.”

The Doctor looked at her three humans. They had been brave, this lot. Didn’t once complain about the amount of times she had dragged them on unexpected adventures. Yaz stuck out as the most courageous, but Ryan was always one step behind her. Meanwhile, Graham was the glue – caring and compassionate, willing to take sides if he had too.

Her fam was spectacular.

She would not risk their safety – their freedom. She couldn’t guarantee the plan they had was foolproof, and she refused to get them killed due to her own mistakes.

She was thankful that the Master was with Kara. He would have left already.

“It too dangerous.” She said, looking each in the eye, warning, “I’m serious this time. I won’t risk losing you.”

“And if Kara loses you,” Graham asked, “That’s just fine, isn’t it?”

All three of them turned to him, the Doctor more surprised than anyone that a thing so cruel came out of his mouth. Yaz was slacked jawed, while Ryan had physically taken a step away from him. She didn’t know if that was because of her own glare or Graham’s anger.

She went to tell him off, but he was faster.

“That girl loves you, doc,” Graham said, “You can’t risk your own life now. What would she do if you died, eh? She’ll have to lose another one of her parents. Who’s she going to stay with?”

The Doctor felt like she had been slapped, “I’m doing this for her.”

“Why?” Yaz asked, “You’ve escaped – you’ve both escaped. What would going back achieve?”

“Saving the others, for a start,” The Doctor said, feeling threatened and cornered, “I won’t just leave them there. No one deserves what those girls have been through.”

“So it’s not just for revenge?” Ryan asked. “I heard you, talking to the Master. He may care about you, but he’s got his own agenda too.”

“The Master would do this with or without me,” The Doctor said, forced to ignore the part about listening in on her conversations, “I want to do this.”

“I am doing this, no matter what you say.”

The all looked to each other, seeming to have a private conversation right in front of her. She wished she was better at social cues – alas, being socially awkward had carried with her through every regeneration.

“Leave us on the TARDIS then,” Yaz said, “You’re saving the girls, right? We can watch them while you pilot the TARDIS.”

She looked at them once again, watching them as they stood tall, nodding at Yaz’s suggestion. The Doctor sighed, a hand going to her temple. They were annoyingly right. Having others to help to keep them calm would certainly make it easier on her.

“I need someone to stay with Kara – here, on earth.”

Graham nodded, “I will,” He volunteered, “I won’t be much good if something does go wrong – all that running is tough on my back.”

“Old man.” Ryan teased, and it brought out a small chuckle from all of them.

“Thank you.” The Doctor told Graham, meaning it. She wouldn’t trust anyone else with Kara, even if it would only be for an hour. She didn’t deserve them. She never deserved them.

“Doc,” Graham said, warning her, “You come back, alive, or I swear to you-”

“I know,” The Doctor said, not willing to listen to another speech, “Thank you.”

An agreement was made, and the tense atmosphere finally fizzled out. The Doctor breathed a sigh of relief, surprised to find herself tired. She hadn’t argued this much with her companions before, but the fam had seen her through some of her worst points. Not to mention, seen her with a daughter, a rather large lifestyle change, and then the Master, who they now had to see nearly every day.

“I have one question,” Yaz said, “And it’s personal, so you don’t have to answer it, but…”

“Was the Master’s kid, Aurora, yours?”

The Doctor had been fiddling with her mug of tea since this entire conversation started. Even so, the moment the name Aurora left Ryan’s lips, she tensed, the mug clattering back down on the table, clanging loudly.

Aurora. She hadn’t thought of the Master’s little girl, of her godchild, since the Time War… Since she had found Koschei looking blankly at his empty, decimated house, a bracelet that the Doctor had gifted Aurora on the day of her arrival clutched in his fist, pressed against his lips. His partner, a political match that barley worked in the end, was also gone.

There had been no bodies – Dalek’s left only ash. Another insult to Gallifrey culture – no body to burn. The Master had loved his daughter more than anything – more than himself. To lose her so fast, so brutally…

The day Aurora died was the last time she saw the Koschei… And the first time she had seen the Master.

“No.” She said, hollowly, memories washing over her like a tide. “I was her…” There was no human word for it, “I loved her, but Aurora wasn’t mine.”

She thought then of her own child, only two years old. Her partner, another political match that was at least was amiable, had clutched Antares to her chest, running through the chaotic, destroyed streets of the Citadel, only to be shot in the back. Antares, along with their wife, had not survived the fall.  

She had no time to grieve – not time to bury her son. While the Doctor had loved her son with every she had, she had to push away her own feelings and stop the war. She had thrown herself into the carnage – into hate and destruction – and had shed the title of Doctor.

“You love him.”

The Doctor turned towards Yaz, still shaken by her past.

“Graham told the Master the same thing – that he loved you,” Yaz continued, “But you love him too.”

“Tell me you feel the same way.” The memory of him whispered.

She thought of the way the Master had held her – she thought of his eyes when he told her that he loved him. She thought the way he furiously watched her memories. She remembered their legs tangled in bed, a protective arm around her middle. She thought of how he smiled when Kara was in the room.

“I love him.”

It felt… Good to say it aloud to someone else. To have someone to defend with her whole heart. She knew he could rely on the Master and, hopefully, he knew that she would do the same for him. So much had changed in such a short period of time – too much. Yet, she didn’t have time to focus on that.

She had always been a bad Time Lord.

The three of them looked at each other once again. They nodded once to each other, a solid team, and looked towards her.

“Alright,” Yaz said, “We’re ready.”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Telling Kara she was leaving was much hard than last time.

The Doctor knew that she had to do this alone. Thankfully, her fam was giving them the privacy they needed, waiting outside the TARDIS’s doors. The Master was already in his own TARDIS, waiting for her signal. She was thankful that he went alone to Gallifrey – she didn’t think she could handle seeing it, especially not now.

“One hour,” The Doctor repeated, smiling reassuringly at Kara, “We’ll be back in one hour.”

Kara wasn’t crying, but the Doctor could see that she was upset, “And you’re going to save everyone? I’ll get to see Lilly and Alexios again?”

The Doctor nodded, kneeling down once again, “That’s the plan. And after, when we get them all home, we’ll see the stars.”

Safe stars. Very, very safe stars. Calm and relaxing, beautiful worlds where Kara would never feel threatened. And if there was trouble, as the Doctor was always attracted to, the Master would be right there next to her. The dream was almost too good to be true.

Kara smiled, “Like you pinky promised?”

The Doctor brought Kara into a hug, holding her tightly to her chest. Just like she promised. No mattered what, she vowed to come back home to Kara. She owed that to her, at the very least. She owed it to Kara and herself.

“I love you, love.”

Kara squeezed her tightly around the neck, “I love you too…Mom.”

The Doctor stilled, hearts freezing in her chest. Mum. Oh Rassilon, she loved this girl more than life itself. Anything she could ever want, everything she could ever need, the Doctor would make it happen for her.

She kissed Kara’s forehead, tears in her eyes, smiling wide, “Thank you, Kara.”

“You’re not mad?”

The Doctor shook her head, wiping the tears from her eyes, “No,” The Doctor explained, “These are happy tears. It would be my privilege to call you my daughter.”

How could she leave her now? How could she go on this dangerous quest – risk getting captured again, risk failing those girls, when she had a daughter to think of? How could she let Kara go?

Kara finally smiled, eyes shining, “One hour!” She declared, grabbing her hand, dragging her out her own TARDIS doors. The fam, along with the Master, looked surprised by their sudden, energetic appearance, but Graham was quick to snatch a giggling Kara from running into the street.

“What do you say then, Kara?” Graham said, nodding at the Doctor, “How about an hour with me? I’ll make you some of my famous hot chocolate?”

“Yes, please!” Kara said, taking Graham’s hand, but hesitated. She turned towards the Master, who was watching Kara with a small, wistful smile that he was not hiding well.

“The cells are scary,” Kara explained, “But it won’t be so bad if you’re with my mom.”

With that bombshell, Kara ran at the Master, jumping into his arms. The Doctor was suddenly very thankful for superior strength compared to humans. The Master stumbled only slightly, but clutched Kara to her chest. Kara whispered something in his ear. The Doctor didn’t have a chance to hear.

“I promise, little one.” The Master whispered back.

And then, just as the Master placed her back on the ground, Kara was dragging Graham away, waving goodbye at them. The Doctor took a step forward, intending to end this whole thing – ready to let the rest of the world die for Kara. it was the Master who stopped her, placing himself physically in front of her.

“One more trip in the TARDIS,” He said, “And this will be over.”

The Doctor watched as Kara and Graham were just almost out of sight. She was safe here on earth, perfectly safe, so why did it feel so wrong to leave her here?

“One more trip.” She agreed, the words like sandpaper on her tongue. She shook herself, trying to remember why she was doing this in the first place.

She was the Doctor – the person who rushed in when all hope was gone and saved the day. The one who could save or destroyed planets with only one word. She was the Oncoming Storm – the one who stopped wars… Who killed millions to stop the War… Who made monsters run.

The Doctor was a mother… And she would do anything to come home to her daughter.

“Right then,” The Doctor said, snapping her fingers, opening the door to her TARDIS.

“Let’s save those girls.”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The first girl she saved had been so thankful that she collapsed, boneless, right in front of Ryan.

Thankfully, Yaz was more prepared, and she caught her before she could hurt herself. The Doctor took her time bomb for Yaz’s pocket, who was supposed to throw it in the cell, and made a clumsy throw at the TARDIS’s door, impressed with herself when it actually made it inside the cell.

“Okay,” The Doctor said, piloting her TARDIS, “Next cell.”

The TARDIS groaned, unhappy with the multitude of trips and the fact the Doctor had to fix the chameleon circuit just for one day. It took many promises of months in the Time Vortex to convince her TARDIS not to go to earth 1920s to get her usual form back.

“What do we do?” Yaz asked, looking worriedly down at their new guest, “Do you have an emergency kit?”

The Doctor was too busy hitting the correct levers, “Next stop after all this is a hospital.” Another lever, and they were now in a new cell, “We’ll check on everyone there.”

The Doctor watched proudly as Yaz coaxed other girls into the TARDIS, the promise of freedom an easy choice to make. On the sixth cell, the Doctor finally saw a familiar face.

“Doctor!”

The Doctor looked up just in time to see two bright eyed kids running towards her. She was just able to get on her knees and hug both Lilly and Alexios, laughing loudly as their excited words rushed together. They were looking around in wonder, asking her a thousand questions, and the Doctor couldn’t be happier.

Roxie came up to her next, smiling wide, “Still insane, dear?”

The Doctor laughed, loudly, happy to see her friend safe and sound. “Mad women with a box!” She agreed, and then remembered she had no time for reunions. “Excuse me, kids!” She said, shooing them dramatically out of the way, waving her arms, winking and Yaz and Ryan.

This felt good.

She could only hope the Master’s plan was going just as well.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master’s plan was not going well.

The TARDIS he had stolen from Gallifrey seemed to want to pick a fight with him. No matter what inputs he put in, what changes he made to the console, what telepathic urging, the TARDIS protested, changing them to some insignificant space that he didn’t want.

“Come on!” The Master yelled, “You are a TARDIS. This is your purpose! You don’t understand what’s at stake here!”

The TARDIS beeped at him, uncaring and unforgiving. The Master’s fist went to the main console, ready to destroy it to smithereens… Only to stop, just missing it. He had forgotten how sensitive a new TARDIS could be. Sure, his TARDIS in Earth’s Australia listened, but he had been with it for years, getting used to each other’s company.

This TARDIS barely knew him.

“Please,” The Master said, hands caressing the console, “My… Partner is in danger. I’m trying to save her.”

The TARDIS beeped once, a soft chime. Hopeful, the Master entered in the coordinates once again and carefully watched to see if they changed or not. To his immense surprise, they did not. “Thank you.” He said, and rushed around to the other side of the console, pushing the levers and buttons must right as they soared through the Time Vortex.

He arrived exactly where he wanted. Stepping out of the TARDIS doors, he nodded, impressed at the perfect chameleon circuit. No one would notice another door in the hallway. The first thing he spotted was two Rarfre guards, going back and forth down the hallway.

He smiled.

“Excuse me,” He said, playing his part well, “I’ve seem to have forgotten what room I was in. I’m looking for a slave sold roughly half an hour ago…A Kahler?”

The Rarfre rolled his eyes at him, obviously thinking he was an idiot, “All Kahlers are kept in rooms 108 and 109.”

“Thank you.” And with that, the Master used aimed his cufflink at the idiot and watched as he disintegrated into dusk. The other one had his back turned to him, and it was even easier to shoot him. The Master couldn’t help relishing in that for a moment – what a lovely sight that made.

He focused himself. He found the door he was looking for, going with 108 first, hoping he was right. He slammed his palm down on the card reader, letting it crumble into dust and sparks, and easily opened the door.

He was greeted by a man tying a crying, naked girl to the bed post by her wrists. They both turned towards him, surprised, and the Master wasted no time in obliterating the disgusting being to dust. The girl and him stared at each other, considering each other.

“Oh no,” The Kahler girl said, untying herself. The Master was quick to turn his back and give her privacy, “You’re with her.”

The Master smiled – a fighter indeed. “Thalia, I presume?”

“You’re what she is, then? A Lord or something? Time Lord?” Thalia asked. He heard shuffling and she walked towards him. Thinking she was covered, he turned around, unsurprised to find her in the dead man’s clothes. He really liked this one.

“Pleasure to meet you, my dear,” The Master said, “I plan to rescue everyone in this place, as well as kill some morally-inhibited aristocrats. Would you like to help?”

“Do you have a gun?”

The Master smirked.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor was getting just a bit tired, as was her TARDIS.

The TARDIS groaned loudly by the sixteenth trip, sparks tingling her fingertips as yet another circuit popped. “Now, Ryan!”

Ryan threw the doors open, grabbing the sleeping unsuspecting girl. In another second, Yaz threw the time bomb in, and shut the doors. The girl was passed to Roxie, who was happy to calm the new girl down.

Already, the Doctor was moving the TARDIS.

“She won’t hold much longer!” The Doctor called, shielding her eyes as the TARDIS’s screens dimmed and then went to full brightness. Maybe two – three more trips, and then her TARDIS would need to go back to the Time Vortex. Thankfully, the Master’s TARDIS would be fine, and they could transfer everyone over to his.

Not part of the plan, but it would work.

The Doctor flipped yet another switch, moving ten feet to the next cell. Ryan, again, opened the doors and quickly snapped yet another person with quick “Sorry!”, while Yaz threw another bomb.

The TARDIS shocked her harshly. The Doctor backed up, breathing deeply, flicking her hand to get rid of the feeling. This wasn’t good. “Okay, small problem. Very small. We can get through this.”

“What problem?” Yaz asked.

“She’s not gonna handle another trip, and we still have to get out of here,” The Doctor explained, “Think, Doctor. Need more power. No, need time to get out of these cells. Oh! Oh that would be brilliantly stupid. I could do it, right? Probably. Definitely!”

“Do what?” Ryan and Yaz yelled at the same time.

“Stay here!” She yelled to them.

With that warning, she was off. She ran through the TARDIS doors, stealing the bombs from Yaz’s unsuspecting hands, and ran out to the cell. Lucky for her, she finally had her sonic back. With one click little button, she was outside in a very familiar and horrible hallway.

Three cells. There were only three cells left, and there were no guards in sight.

She sonic-ed open the first one, a finger to her lips. And then, to her immense surprise, she realized she was face to face with both Doctor Hera and Willow. They looked at her, slacked jawed, frighten, but they were quick to follow her out of their cell. The Doctor pointed to the cell she came out of, snapping her fingers.

The doors to her TARDIS, disguised inside the wall, opened for a split second, revealing the scared faces of Yaz and Ryan. The girl ran towards them without question, Hera and Willow right behind her.

The Doctor repeated that with the two other cells, counting the seconds in her head, praying the guards kept to their usual schedule. The last girl, inches from the Doctor, tripped on her own feet, and the Doctor was quick to swing her arm around her shoulders, helping her up.

“Stop!”

Shots rang out around her, and not the stunning kind. She ran as fast as she could, already inside the cell doors, when she felt one hit the back of her calf. She cried out, more out of shock then anything, and waited for Yaz and Ryan to grab them both, holding them both up as she made it inside her TARDIS.

The laser burn was deep, going right to the bone. It stung, and burned, and it took a lot for the Doctor not to crumple to the ground right there and then. She put her weight on it, cursing lowly, and limped to her console.

“Doctor!” Willow cried, looking scared, “You’re hurt!”

“I’m fine!” She said, begging her TARDIS to get them back in the Time Vortex. She was fine – she was fine – she was fine.

With one last flick of a lever, the pillars around her changed colors, a warning of danger and low power, but she could soon hear the familiar, perfect sound of her TARDIS lifting off.

She closed her eyes, searching for the Master in her mind, calling out to him as loud as she could.

He didn’t answer.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor’s suggestion of finding Thalia had to be one of the best plans she had ever made.

The woman was a fierce, fighting machine. She had training of some sort, banging through the doors without a care in the world, shooting at those that were hurting others. With that all, she stayed calm, helping the freed slaves to the TARDIS.

The Master, meanwhile, was keeping guard so to speak. The Rarfre’s patrol schedule was easy enough to figure out, and it seemed that a new one came every two minutes. Shooting them had been oodles of fun, and each time a little part of him rejoiced at their death.

Maybe, one of them had been the one that dragged the Doctor to that tub of water. Oh, he could only dream.

“That’s all of them!” Thalia said, breathing heavily, “What now?”

This was far too easy, but he wasn’t complaining – a good plan was a good plan, and it was a great plan when the Master was the one who orchestrated it.

“Back to the TARDIS,” The Master said, “I have a great need to find Talsar and bring him to his knees.”

Thalia nodded, impressed, “I like you.”

“The feeling, my dear,” He said, holding out his arm for her to take, “is mutual.”

They both walked back to the TARDIS, arm in arm, and the Master was happy to find all the other girls comforting each other. “There’s a wardrobe here, third door to the left,” The Master explained to Thalia, “They’ll be something to wear for them.” Not to mention, plenty of bedrooms to keep him comfortable while he had a little fun.

“And after?” She asked, “What’s the plan after that?”

The Master put in the new coordinates, excited to truly cause chaos. It had been so very long. “Adline Hospital,” The Master explained, “If all went well, the Doctor is already there with all other girls.”

Thalia’s mouth fell open, “All of them – from the cells?”

The Master nodded, taking note of the very frail hope in her voice, “You have someone down there.”

“Lilly,” Thalia said, walking away from her, “If the Doctor saved her… I will owe you and her more than my life.”

The Master flicked the last lever, the TARDIS lifting through space flawless – without sound. The Master missed the Doctor’s parking brakes fiercely. By the time he realized he should probably respond to Thalia, she was gone, leading the other women (all eyeing him nervously) down the hallway.

Alone with his thoughts. A dangerous thing.

He landed, and the Master got out his old friend – something he had describe to those simpletons back on that Earth science gallery as a shrink ray – and smiled. Well, he was never one for a repeat performance, but he was on a time crunch.

He strutted out the doors of the TARDIS, whistling an old, haunting tune. People gathered around him, looking at the mysterious man that just popped out of a… random column. Well, maybe this TARDIS wasn’t the best then.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!” He called, throwing his shrink ray between his hands, “Tonight, I have one goal in mind.”

He pointed the shrink ray at a random man, clinging drunkenly on to two women. Bing! Gone, shrunken right before everyone’s eyes. People began to scream, but he was quick to stop them from running.

“Don’t move – nobody leaves this place! Not one. Little. Insignificant. Person.”

He laughed, loudly, madly, showing them just how serious he was, “I’m sorry,” He said, watching as a fat human shook in front of him, hands on his hands, pushing a young girl in front of him, “How terribly rude of me, I didn’t introduce myself.”

He shrunk him, causing more to scream, “My name…” He said over the panic, “Is the Master.”

He laughed again, watching as Rarfre guards came at him slowly from all sides. Brilliant. “Now, I’m to understand that a very… Important man runs this little disgusting establishment. And, until I get to see him…Well…”

Bing!

Another one, shrunken, falling in between his feet. He rolled his eyes, disgusted that even his body was that close. He kicked it away without care, causing more screams. The Rarfre pointed their guns, but the Master was quick to stop them. With one press of a button, the TARDIS’s shields expanded, creating a perfect little bubble of safety.

Four shots rang out, all of them getting absorbed by the TARDIS’s defensive mechanism. In retribution, the Master aimed at every one of the guards the fired, nearly buzzing as they each fell. He felt higher than the world, higher than the universe, as he watched the people in front of him cower in fear. How the mighty have fallen.

“Oh, Talsar!” He sang, laughing once again, “I’m afraid this is the end. You see, you’ve hurt someone I care about…”

“…And I am not a forgiving man.”

He waited, three seconds, four seconds, five seconds… But no one came forward. He growled, annoyed, pointing his weapon at one of the Rarfre guards.

“You.” He said, “Where is he?”

“I will not-”

Boring.

Another one, gone before everyone’s eyes. Truly, a wonderful sight. Maybe the Doctor wouldn’t be proud, but at least the Master felt justified in his own vengeance. “Try again!” He sang, pointing it at the least guard standing.

“Well?”

“Gone,” The Rarfre said, “Took an escape pod.”

The Master saw red. Coward. He shot the guard, just for the infuriating news itself. The Doctor had been right – the idiot had run. No matter, they would catch up, one way another.

“What a shame,” The Master said, playing it on thick, “Another life, wasted. Well, fun while it lasted, I suppose. Now…”

He pointed the shrink ray at random, making sure none of them moved, “If Talsar dares to show his face here,” The Master said, “And you disgusting wastes of oxygen decide to attend another of this eventsI will be here, and there will be no survivors.”

“Bye!”

He went back inside the TARDIS, enraged, feeling unaccomplished. Though it felt good to save the other girls, his main desire had been to Talsar, to rip him limb for limb, but it seemed it would have to wait. He flicked his TARDIS’s levers, aiming for the hospital, stopping when…

When he felt something. Tapping away at his mind – like a wasp sting.

The Doctor.

How long was he ignoring her call that she had resorted to such a painful measures?

“Help me – help me – help me.”

The Master froze, the buzz of adrenaline slipping into true terror, “Where are you?”

She sent the coordinates to him and the Master was moving faster than he ever had before. The TARDIS lurched in his erratic movements, causing them to nearly crash as he flew them into the Time Vortex. He prayed that he wasn’t too late.

He couldn’t lose her.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Doctor Hera had made her lay down and it was then that the pain hit the Doctor full force.

She bit into her hand, muffling a groan, trying hard to not frighten Yaz and Ryan. She knew they wouldn’t take her getting hurt well, not when they fought so hard to get her not to do this, but she knew she couldn’t hide her injury when Hera began to move her pants leg.

“That’s a nice one,” Hera said, “We’ll need to put pressure on it.”

“As long as…” The Doctor panted, “It’s not… That tissue regenerator…”

Hera laughed, “I have a feeling you’ll never let that go. Now, anyone have a sterile rag?”

“Med…Kit.” The Doctor replied, “Yaz?”

One time while fixing the console, a rather angry TARDIS had spat out a couple of rolls of gauze at her face at having mixed up two very important cables. Yaz have laughed for minutes at a time, but at least it had shown her where the medical supplies were.

Yaz moved with a fury, and soon enough she produced a pair of sterile gloves and disinfectant.

Hera took them from Yaz quickly and, again, with little warning said, “This will hurt.” She poured the disinfectant over the wound, causing the Doctor to throw her head back, stars in her eyes. Rassilon she was vicious. The Doctor looked down at the wound, getting a glimpse of blood and burned skin, and felt sick.

Willow was there in another moment, looking down at her, “I like your outfit.”

The Doctor laughed, surprised, “Yaz…And Ryan…Helped.”

Yaz and Ryan, to their credit, waved hello at Willow, who nodded politely. Not exactly how the Doctor thought their meeting would go, but it worked.  

“I have to…” The Doctor said, losing consciousness, “I have to…Talk to… Koschei.”

“How?” Ryan asked, looking worried, “Doctor, how can we do that?”

The Doctor’s hand went to the pillar behind her, a dark blue, and closed her eyes, focusing every she had on finding him. The TARDIS chirped at her, glowing under her hand, giving her the strength she needed.

“Contact-Contact-Contact…”

Nothing. No. Please don’t tell her that – he wouldn’t ignore her, not now. The only reason he wouldn’t respond now was because he was – he was. He couldn’t be. He wasn’t dead!

“Please!” She screamed to the void, to her mind scrape, to her connection to her oldest love. She couldn’t lose him.

“Help me-help me-help me…”

A breath, one last push, and the Doctor felt the connection form.

“Where are you?”

The Doctor sobbed in relief, sending him the coordinates. She had thought… She had thought he was gone forever. This was the stupidest thing she had ever done. This was the worst thing she had done – risking everything she loved. She couldn’t do it anymore.

The doors to her TARDIS banged open.

Girls screamed at the noise, but the Doctor could only smile, even if she couldn’t lift her head and see him. Her head lulled to the side; eyes unable to stay open.

Soft, familiar hands made their way to her face, and the Doctor leaned into the touch. He was saying something, screaming it at her, but she only just caught it.

“… Regenerate!” The Master was saying, “Doctor, you’ll lose your leg.”

“Noth…” She told him, “Nothing left.”

She couldn’t, not after the amount of times she used it in Talsar’s care. Anymore, and she would risk having her next regeneration something beyond insane. There were many horror stories about faulty regeneration, and she had no want of trying it out.

“I…” The Doctor said, losing the battle, “I love you.”

XxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master was holding her, shaking her to get her to wake up, only to watch as she fell unconscious.

The Master’s eyes went to the women’s hands, holding the wound. It was soaked in blood already, too much blood. A hospital would keep her alive, but it certainly wouldn’t guarantee keeping her leg.

What had he done?

“You,” The women, a doctor, said, “You’re the same species as her?”

The Master nodded, knowing where she was going, “A blood transfusion won’t save her leg.”

“It’ll keep her alive,” The doctor snarled, “You don’t think she doesn’t want to live?”

The Master glared at the brave women. She had no idea the type of person the Doctor was. If she couldn’t walk – couldn’t run – she would never be happy. She would regret this, regret his plan, and he couldn’t live if the Doctor hated him once again.

“Get out of my way.” The Master demanded.

“What are you doing?” Yaz asked, “Didn’t you hear her? She’s losing too much blood!”

He ignored them all. He laid his hands above and below the wound, focusing. He had seen the Doctor do this for Davros as Missy, but it didn’t mean he knew he had ever tried it. He thought of how painful regeneration was, remembering its pins and needles, and focused that on his hands.

He knew succeeded when he felt like something was stealing the very life force from him.

The Master groaned, pushing everything he had into her, watching as skin came alive under his hands. The burns healed first, all at once, and the Master watched as skin knit neatly back together. His hands shook…No, his whole body was trembling.

He was giving up his last life to live – officially out of regenerations.

One lifetime with Theta Sigma was worth it.

Koschei released her. He staggered, even already on his knees, he swayed, falling to his side. It was Ryan that stopped his fall, much to his shock, and laid him down flat on his back.

Beside him, he felt the Doctor take a deep breath of air in.

“What I’d miss?”

He smiled.

Chapter Text

The Doctor knew that both her and the Master were running on ten percent.

She was exhausted, despite her leg being healed. It throbbed, skintight and incredibly itchy, but that was nothing compared to the agony it had been. There was also a large scar there, raised bumps were the regeneration energy didn’t finish knitting the skin together. It was ugly, but she was fine, and she could walk.

The Master, meanwhile, looked ready to pass out. He was sweating, trembling slightly as he helped hospital staff transfer various girls to a bed. Yet, he had always been able to ignore his physical pain. If she didn’t know him, she supposed that he would look rather calm and collected.

“He’s a handsome one,” Roxie said, surprising her, “And the way he’s looking at you…?”

The Doctor blushed, “I have no idea what you mean.”

Roxie winked at her, “Of course, dear.”

It was then that Alexios came running towards them, smiling wide, with a lollipop in her hand, “Roxie!” She said, waving the lollipop around, “Look what I got for you!”

Roxie smiled gently, a bone-warry tiredness, “That’s wonderful!” She said, kneeling down to her, “Thank you, Alexios.”

The Doctor felt tears in her eyes looking at the two of them. It was… It was more than rewarding to see them reunited, safe, getting cared from in a hospital where they would free to go anywhere they wanted. Luckily, this hospital was equipped with advanced transmats, taking everyone wherever they want.

Everyone was going home.

She caught sight of Thalia and Lilly in the distance, Thalia holding Lilly tight to her chest, eyes closed – a true, happy ending. Sensing someone was looking at her, Thalia turned her head, staring at them.

She didn’t smile, and the Doctor didn’t expect her too, but she nodded her head respectfully. The Doctor did the same, but she couldn’t resist waving dramatically at Lilly, who waved back just as much on the hospital bed. With that, Alexios giggled loudly, running towards Lilly as fast as she could.

“Kara’s safe?” Roxie asked, quietly, quickly, like she was afraid of the answer. The Doctor felt silly for not telling them immediately.

“Yes!” She replied, “Sorry, she’s back on earth with a friend of mine. Very safe.”

Her head pounded with every word she said. She wondered if that was from the blood loss or the use of regeneration energy – though it wasn’t hers, it felt like the first time she had used it just to heal herself and she was so tired.

“Where will you go?” The Doctor asked Roxie, trying to distract herself from it.

“My parents…” Roxie swallowed, “My parents are still alive – I just checked using the hospital’s computers. I want them to meet Alexios… And maybe I’ll stay there for a bit, get back on my feet.”

“And… Alexios parents?”

“Gone,” Roxie said, “She saw them get… They’re gone.”

The Doctor nodded, understanding for too well that kind of feeling, “You’re both strong,” She said, “And have each other. You’ll be alright.”

Roxie nodded, “I’ll never be able to thank you.”

“Don’t,” The Doctor said, “Don’t thank me. Just… Oh! I forgot something! Hold on…” The Doctor patted her pockets, happy to find that they were still in her pocket, “Here you go!”

She revealed four pins, TARDIS blue of course, and handed two of them to Roxie, who looked confused, “Thank you…?”

“Sorry,” The Doctor apologized again, “Head a little wonky. Nothing to worry about! These pins are geo-trackers that work only for my TARDIS. I can track them at any time, but if you need me immediately, press that little button on the back and I’ll come. I promised Kara that she would get to see everyone again.”

Roxie smiled wide, “I would love to see her too.”

Without warning, Roxie dragged her into a hug. Though the Doctor had always hated physical contact, she melted into Roxie arms, hugging her back just as tight. This was worth it.

Roxie nodded at her one more time, tears in her eyes, and then walked over to Thalia and Lilly. The Doctor watched them, feeling lighter.

Too light.

She took a deep breath of air in, chasing the stars out of her eyes. She hadn't fainted dramatically in a while, she supposed. Wow, she really needed a nap… Or a coma… Honestly, just a bed.

“We should go.”

The Doctor hummed, watching as the Master came next to her, glancing at the numerous hospital beds occupied - Thirty-two in total. Thirty-two people that now have a chance to live their lives out in freedom and happiness. Thirty-two people that they have saved.

“Talsar,” The Doctor asked, “He ran, didn’t he?”

The Master huffed, “A coward will always run. Still, hunting him down will be fun.”

The Doctor ignored the bloodthirsty remark, too tired to correct him. She was just happy it was over. She held out her hand to him, smiling when he took it without question, squeezing lightly. Their eyes went to Doctor Hera and Willow, shoulders brushing as they checked on the other girls. It had been an honor to meet the couple, and she hoped that they would stay in contact with her.

She turned away without another word, glad to have the Master next to her. He was a comfort, even as both of them had to lean on each other to make it back to his newly acquired TARDIS. She had left hers in the Time Vortex with Ryan and Yaz.

They piloted the TARDIS together, intending to go back to hers, when the Master stopped her with a touch of his hand on her shoulder, looking increasingly worried.

“I love you.”

The Doctor smiled, wide and big, “I love you too.”

The Master nodded, looking relieved. The Doctor would have asked why, but he was already off, bringing up her TARDIS’s coordinates. She thought about stopping him, asking him what was really bothering him, but she was forced to stop when he opened the doors to his TARDIS and right into hers.

She closed her eyes.

The Doctor was free.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

“I love you.”

The Master meant it. He meant it more than just a simple declaration – he meant it as reassurance to himself. Selfishly. He understood what he had done. After all, she was the Timeless Child; he could have probably told her, forced her to use her own regeneration energy… Let her worry about what the next regeneration was going to be like until he revealed the truth about her past.

In the moment? In the moment he was terrified that she was either going to lose a leg or another body. The only thought on his mind was keeping true to Kara’s promise.

“Please bring my mom home.”

He couldn’t let Kara down.  

And, besides – an even more selfish thought – would the Doctor be so against giving him another life if he asked? He looked towards her, watching as smile made its way to her face, beautiful and radiant even in her exhaustion. He wondered how long she could stare at him like that, like he was the most important person in the world.

Like Theta had done when they were children.

“I love you too.” She said, like it was the simplest thing in the world.

Maybe, to her, it was.

That was their fundamental difference, wasn’t it? While she had been able to face her demons head on, he was left in the dust of her past – stuck on memories that were too far gone. The Doctor ran away from her darkness with her eyes wide open. The Master relished in it, doing onto others as they had done onto him.

His demons had always been louder, both due to the Time Lords and himself – loud enough to drawn out the Doctor’s cries of help back on her TARDIS. A minute later, and she would have lost her leg. Five minutes later, and the blood lost would have costed her another body…

…Would have costed Kara the woman that she knew. Even if it was still the Doctor after her regeneration, who was to say Kara, a human, would understand?

Guilt clawed at his chest at the thought of upsetting Kara. Guilt that he wasn’t enough.

Before this – before Kara, before the Doctor loved him again – he thought her as his greatest enemy. He thought her better than him, no matter what path he danced, good or evil. He thought he could break her, destroy her with the information that he would hold against her, bring her to his level.

He thought the story of the Master would end with the Doctor pulling the trigger.

He was so tired.

Tired of questioning right and wrong – tired of questioning who he wanted to be – the Master, or the Doctor’s long-lost friend… Love. He couldn’t do both. He proved that when he almost gotten her killed.

The Doctor flipped the last lever, sending them back to her TARDIS. His thoughts died with that, trying his best to just watch. His mind was a whirlwind – uncertain and raging – and he knew the Doctor didn’t need that – not now.

They landed in the Time Vortex, smoothly, unlike the Doctor’s driving. The thought was almost enough to make him laugh.

Maybe he was losing his mind again.

Either way, he let the Doctor go through the doors first, and his eyes caught the slight limp to her step. He took stalk of his own body, annoyed that he felt weak and achy – a normal regeneration process, yet this body seemed to be confused about it. Wanting to claw at his own skin was reserved only for when he received new skin.

He sighed, running a hand over his face.

He just needed to sleep.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor’s TARDIS was a mess.

Cables dangled and fizzed, sparking in places that the Doctor knew meant she had days of work ahead of her. The console was smoldering in places, hot to the touch, and one of the screens was completely blank. The other told her of the emergency plans put in place. Her older companions’ bedrooms were gone, making room for the TARDIS to only focus on protecting herself.

When the Doctor placed a hand on her telepathic circuits, she could feel the TARDIS agony. She tried her best to calm her down, whispering sweet promises of months in the Time Vortex and only the Time Vortex, but the TARDIS only beeped sadly at her.

“Is she alright?” Yaz asked.

“Yes,” The Doctor said, unable to hide the sad tilt of her voice, “Yeah, ‘course. Old girl can handle anything! Well… This was a bit much for her, but she’ll come ‘round. I planned to go right back to Kara, but there’s no way I can pilot the TARDIS out of here without doing some repairs.”

The Master took a look at the console, wincing when he caught site of the blank screen, “A good thing we have two TARDISs then.”

She turned to look at him, confused, “You’re not suggesting-”

“It’ll be a blink of an eye for you,” The Master explained, “Take me a day or two to get her happy enough to take off, but I’ll meet you a couple of minutes after you land back on earth.”

The Doctor couldn’t help but not like that plan. Going back to earth meant that this was over – that she could have the Master and Kara next to her, free at least, letting their adventures together begin. She selfishly didn’t want to wait another moment for that.

She didn’t want him out of her sight.

“You miss Kara,” The Master said in her mind, “And-”

“Ryan!” Yaz said, surprising her, “I think I dropped something in the other TARDIS. You mind helping me look?”

Next adventure they went on (would she still go on adventures with her fam after this?) Yaz was picking the planet.

“But you weren’t in- oohhh.” Ryan said, obviously getting the hint, “Oh, yeah! Other TARDIS. Got it. See you in a bit, Doctor.”

And with that, Yaz dragged Ryan out by the arm, nodding at the Doctor and the Master as she went. Ryan yelped as he got pushed through the doors but gave a quick wave as he went.

“I really like that one.” The Master said, watching as the doors shut, “Finally, a human in the twenty-first century with a brain.”

She rolled her eyes, exasperated with him, but let out a hum of agreement even as she did so, “Definitely owe her something for that one.”

They both stood looking at each other, the atmosphere tense and awkward, yet still them. She supposed this would be the part in the story where the Master would reveal that is was all some plot. “Got you, Doctor.” Even so, she knew it wasn’t the case and, honestly, found herself with no idea what to say or do.

Then, he laughed.

The Doctor stared at him, blinking.

He looked at her, pointed at her for a moment, finger wagging, and then laughed again – something that bubbled up inside of him and forced itself out. He looked just as surprised at her.

“Thousands…” He said, still holding back a smile, “Thousands of years, many trapped in a vault, in fact, with every betrayal and plot in front of us…”

She knew how this ended, “And here we are,” She said, grabbing his hands, “Together.”

“Together.” He echoed, laughter dying, something else giving way. He was breathtaking – open and honest, his brown eyes were memorizing to look at. He moved closer to her, bringing her arms up and around his neck – a new habit that she was quickly falling in love with – and he, in turn, put his hands on her waist.

She expected a kiss – maybe even wanted one. Instead, he brought her closer to him, hugging her tightly. She went boneless against him, his arms around her a comfort after the day the both of them had.

“I almost broke Kara’s promise.”

She could only guess at what he promised Kara. That had been easy, heartwarming even, and had only helped her belief in him. Though doubt still lingered far back in her mind, seeing him with Kara had batted her fears away.

She didn’t know what happened on the Mansion. She knew he succeeded – that Thalia had helped him save those girls. She knew that he was distracted when she called out to him. She knew that Talsar had escaped.

All of that didn’t matter, though, if it meant the both of them were standing here, unharmed and alive, with those girls free. He returned to her in the end. That was what mattered. Even now, with both of them standing in her TARDIS, safe, with her faith in him restored, he thought he failed.

“You didn’t.” Was the only thing she could offer. She knew words wouldn’t be enough to help him understand, and now wasn’t the time to push that.

He nodded against her, “let me fix the TARDIS – make it up to Kara.”

She hesitated. Leaving him to his thoughts had never seemed to do him any favors. Still, so much had changed in such a short period of time. Maybe, getting some distance for each other, just enough to get used to their new normal, would do them both good.

“Okay.”

Koschei was the first to pull away from their embrace. “Don’t leave the humans waiting,” He teased, “Such short life spans. They must have just withered away.”

She sighed loudly, dramatically, “You think you’re so funny. Honestly, I’ve met-”

The Doctor had never liked getting interrupted.

Koshei’s lips on hers was the one instance she would gladly accept it.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Landing on earth was cathartic.

It felt like a happy ending. The moment she had opened the doors, arriving a block or so away from Graham’s flat, she felt something lift off her shoulders.

She had done it. Now, all she had to do was make it to Kara.

“Oh,” Yaz said, “I thought you’d go right to Graham’s.”

The Doctor was taking a brisk walk to his flat, not ignoring her but certainly having other things on her mind, “I thought you’d like to go home, Yaz! Long day and all. You’re welcome along!”

Kara – Kara – Kara…

It was…A nagging in the back of her mind. Like a small needle poking at her temple. She felt worried, anxious, scared… Heavy in her chest. It didn’t make any sense. She was fine now, yeah? Out of danger. Done with everything. Why was she…Buzzing?

Kara – Kara – Kara…

She ran.

Something was wrong. She knew deep in hearts that something was very, very wrong. She felt like someone was clawing at her, stealing the air from her lungs, making her dizzy.

Something was wrong with Kara.

“Doctor!” Ryan and Yaz yelled, but she barely heard her. The only thing pounding at her mind was Kara.

She burst through the door of Graham’s apartment, calling out both Kara’s and Graham’s names. Yet, she heard nothing in reply. She moved from room to room, going up the stairs, nearly falling as she opened the door to Graham’s bedroom.

She had a moment to spot Graham, on the ground with blood dripping from his temple, when someone grabbed her from behind.

She cried out when she felt a hand harshly cover her mouth. An arm came around her stomach, lifting her into the air. Her legs came back down, but it wasn’t fast enough to stop the pinch of a needle against her neck.

No.

She was turned around, eyes going to Graham’s bed, when she spotted him.

Talsar, sitting comfortably at the end of the bed, a crying Kara on his lap. The Doctor snarled against the hand on her mouth, feral with rage as she tried even hard to escape her capture’s grip. To her left, Ryan and Yaz were gunned down, hands in the air. Two henchman, one evil overlord.

“Doctor!” Talsar said, revealing a knife in his hand, “No need for such resistance. After all, I wouldn’t want to hurt sweet Kara here, would I?”

The knife was placed against Kara throat, causing more tears from her eyes. “Mom?”

Talsar tutted, holding the knife harder against Kara, causing a spot of blood to appear. Kara gasped, wiggling in his gasp, but stopped when Talsar gripped her tightly around her middle.

Kara-Kara-Kara…

“Ask me,” Talsar said to her, “Ask me how I’m here.”

The drugs were already affecting her, his vision going blurry. “How are you here?”

“Well,” He said, getting up from the bed, bringing Kara with him, “When your friend O, pranced around my Mansion, I had a bit of epiphany you could say.”

O – Koschei – the Master. She needed the Master. “Contact-Contact-Contact-Contact…”

“You mentioned destroying my history – do you remember? I suppose you do, don’t you? It may have been five years since you’ve destroyed my livelihood, but for you it could have been a blink of an eye.”

She said nothing, eyes only on Kara. She focused on their link, feeling the waves of anxiety and fear. She tried her best to soothe them away.

“No matter.” Talsar continued, grabbing Kara by the arm, throwing her towards Yaz and Ryan. Ryan steadied her, letting her cling onto his leg as she trembled.

“Contact-Contact-Contact…”

“So, you mentioned killing me even when my successful future was guaranteed. Low and behold, your friend ruined my life. But I knew it wasn’t over. Seeing as he gave me access to a large, untraceable amount of money, I was able to get my hands on a little gadget.”

He pulled the sleeve of his shirt back, revealing a vortex manipulator, “Nifty and expensive little thing. Even so, I had everything I needed to track you down.”

“Contact-Contact-

“It’s only been a couple minutes, love.”

“Talsar’s here – Graham’s flat, bedroom! He has Kara!”

“I’m coming.”

He moved to her, knife tip pointed in her general direction, “It’s funny. The only thing I needed was a scan of that little human right over there-” he pointed the blade at Yaz, “-Gave me everything I needed to find the right century, the right general location on this dismal planet. Took me five years to find you, however. The Woman Who Fell to Earth. Lovely little article in the paper about six months ago.”

Her head was lulling, back and forth. She felt like she was going to throw up, “What do you want?”

Talsar moved step towards her, glaring at her darkly, knife blade her face, “Fix my future. Put back what you did.”

She laughed, darkly, “I can’t undo it – I can’t cross my own timeline. Space time would crumble around us. In fact, you would be lost in your own timestream if we went anywhere near it.”

Talsar nodded, “I understand,” He said, the knife moving away, “After all, you were so hard to break, weren’t you? How long was it? Three months in that dark, pathetic cell? Whimpering like a coward?”

With no warning, he moved. The knife was plunged into her shoulder, straight through. She cried out, trying to curl in on herself, only to be stopped by the man holding her. She screamed as he dragged the blade out of her skin, admiring her blood on it.

“Mom!”

“Kara, don’t move!”

The Doctor watched as Yaz grabbed Kara by her shoulders, holding her place. Both of them looked terrified.

“A shame,” Talsar whispered to her, “I didn’t want to kill the girl. But… If that’s the motivation you need…”

“No!” She cried, “No, I’ll do it. I’ll figure out a way.”

Talsar looked at her, studying her even as the Doctor felt her legs give way. She just barely caught herself as she went down, the shoulder wound crying out in agony as she moved. “What…?” She breathed… She didn’t know of any drug that was strong enough to knock her out so fast.

“Need you complacent,” Talsar explained, “I assume your ship is nearby?”

“Hurry. Master, hurry!”

“I’m here.”

Two shots rang out. The man behind her dropped, as well as the one holding Yaz and Ryan at gunpoint. Through blurry eyes, she watched as a figure made their way through the door, holding a pistol in their hands. The Doctor blinked, watching as Ryan smacked the knife out of Talsar’s hand – watching as Yaz bent down to check on Graham. She watched as Kara made her way to her.

She watched as two enemies stared at each other.

She blinked.

Two shots rang out.

Two people fell to the ground.

One of them didn’t get up.

She blinked.

She didn’t wake up.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was stuck in her mind scape.

It would be boring if she wasn’t so worried. The drug that Talsar gave her was strong and no matter what mental trick she had learned throughout her years, nothing seemed to be able to wake her up. She’d been trying for hours, and she was still stuck in her subconscious.

She got glimpses of other people as they moved her around. Ryan’s thoughts were always loud and pulsing and it was easy enough to sense when he was touching her. Graham, meanwhile, was subtle and soothe, like a breeze against her mind.

Kara was energetic and bright, always there when the Doctor focused on their bond. She was sleeping now, tucked up against her by Yaz, who was almost as energetic as Kara. At least she knew Kara and her fam was safe.

The Master had yet to make a connection with her.

It was what was driving her mad – the waiting. She had replayed the memory of Talsar and the Master numerous times, but she could never see the ending. She could see the Master burst through the doors, shooting the two other men, but she had passed out after hearing two shots.

Two shots.

Maybe it would be better if it had been one. She hadn’t seen Talsar with a gun and she had seen Ryan get the knife out of his hand. How was it possible for Talsar to be fast enough to get out a gun?

She groaned, laying down, pushing the memory away. All she could do was wait for herself to wake up.

Why wasn’t she waking up?

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master was sleeping.

He growled, annoyed at himself for not realizing it sooner. He couldn’t blame himself, not really. Training to recognize dreams from reality took years of practice and he knew that it was harder when he couldn’t wake up.

And no, it wasn’t because the dream involved the Doctor… Laying next to him, smiling, as Kara ran at them full speed, jumping on the bed and giggling loudly.

He ripped himself away from the dream, arriving at his usual mind space. Unlike the Doctor who preferred an abstract concept, he enjoyed having something tangible. He arrived in a small cabin type room, a fireplace blazing nice and hot, with an arm chair a little off to the side. He had found this exact log cabin on one of his less murderous travels and had fallen in love with the peace it brought him.

He sunk into the chair, staring at the flames. He took a moment, enjoying the warmth, calming his mind. Then, he focused himself, rolling his shoulders, trying to get in contact with the Doctor.

She was either too tired to reach out… Or –

The ‘or’ wasn’t an option.

He drummed his fingers on the chair, considering what could have possibly happened. The first thing he remembered was the Doctor reaching out to him, panicked and wild as her mind connected with his. He was still stuck in the Time Vortex with a broken-down TARDIS, not able to do anything until the TARDIS was stable enough to handle a trip.

It was painstaking, thinking of the hurt that the Doctor was in, even if he was suspended in time. He didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, didn’t think until there were enough repairs done to get them to earth. The TARDIS had helped immensely, never fighting him when he had to interact with her heart. She was steady, soothing, convincing him that everything would be fine even as he unraveled at the seams.

It was the TARDIS that provided him with a weapon, much to his shock. He figured the Doctor would keep something here with the old girl, but it never occurred to him that she would hide it nearly in plain sight, right underneath her console.

He should have come up with a plan other than save the Doctor. He just couldn’t think when he was so tired. He was already hurt from giving his regeneration to the Doctor, thinking was off the table after days without sleep.

The TARDIS would need more repairs to do a trip through time, but space was a piece of cake. Grabbing the small pistol, he landed right next to the newer TARDIS, running towards Graham’s flat like the devil was chasing him. Shooting the two other idiot humans was easy – quick even – exactly what he expected.

What he didn’t expect was for Talsar to shoot him back, right in his stomach. It had a been a shock, watching as blood collected on his shirt. He had waited for regeneration to burn on his skin, only to remember that he had given up his last life.

He had one chance to catch sight of the Doctor, bleeding from her arm, before he collapsed on the ground, unconscious. Dramatic, even for him.

Someone must have saved him, considering he knew this wasn’t death. He’s seen death one too many times to not know what it looks like – unpleasant and unknown, piercing. Thank Rassilon…

Thank the Doctor for regenerations. What an odd thing to say.

He wondered where his body was, physically, considering he had managed to shoot Talsar right between his eyes. He was dying to rip the man limb from limb, quite literally, but knew that this ending was (almost) just as satisfying.

He sighed, running a hand over his face. He tried to force himself awake once more, pushing on his own boundaries, but nothing came of it. He was too injured to wake up, then. Not surprising, considering he had a hole in his stomach.

Perhaps the humans had saved him. That would be dreadful. He couldn’t imagine having to thank them – would have rather died than do so. Well… That wasn’t necessarily true anymore, was it? He was starting to actually enjoy Yaz’s company. He nearly had a full body shiver.

He needed to wake up. He was truly going insane if he was enjoying a human’s company.

Staring at the flames, banging on his mental walls…

He listened… And heard nothing.

XxXxXxXxXxXx

Yaz thought saving the other girls was hard.

This took the cake.

She watched as the Master collapsed, boneless, nearly onto a dead man. She screamed, covering her own mouth to muffle it. Besides her, Kara was crying, shaking in her arms and Yaz tried to process everything that had happened.

The Doctor had been drugged, then stabbed through the arm.

Kara had been threatened and nearly killed.

The Master had killed Talsar and the other two men in what felt like a blink of an eye.

He fell just as fast too.

Yaz lifted a crying Kara into her arms, pushing her head to her shoulder, trying to shield her from the carnage, “It’s okay,” She said, shushing her gently, “It’s alright, Kara.”

She needed a plan. She needed… She needed to find a doctor – a real doctor. She needed… She needed to think. The room was spinning and she couldn’t breathe. Way too much was happening.

While holding Kara in her arms, stopping her from running towards an unconscious Doctor, she bent down to Graham, who was already making his way up from the ground.

“Faking it,” He explained, wondering how he was up so fast, “Did pass out, though. Came back to at the gunshots.”

Yaz nodded, “G-glad you’re okay.”

Graham nodded at her, looking at her with concern in his eyes, but didn’t say anything. He glanced down, grimcing when he saw the Master. He wasn’t responding to anything Ryan was doing to get him up.

“Get the Master,” Graham told Ryan, “I’ll carry the doc. Let’s get them to them to the TARDIS.”

The TARDIS? The TARDIS. Right, the TARDIS. Okay, she could do that. She swallowed, staring directly at the dead bodies, yet not seeing them. She shook her head, putting her hand once again on the back of Kara’s head, making sure her eyes couldn’t see anything before turning around, heading out Graham’s flat.

Did the neighbors hear the gunshot? Would they call the police? Would she be a fugitive again?

Each step closer to the outside rattled her world. She just seen three people get killed right in front of her, yet she felt no remorse. She felt nothing.

Somehow, she made it to the TARDIS. Kara was quiet as she pushed open the doors, much to Yaz’s concern. “Hey,” Yaz asked her, putting her down, getting a glimpse of the blood on her neck, “Are you okay?”

“Is mom and Koschei going to be okay?”

Right, of course. Her parents. She was so preoccupied with her own thoughts that she forgot that rather big tidbit. She watched out of the corner of her eyes and Graham attempted to gently drop the Master to the ground, next to the unconscious Doctor. This was honestly too much.

“They will be,” Yaz said, trying to sound sure, “Come on, love. Let’s look at that cut, yeah?”

Yaz bent down, hands going to Kara chin, gently tilting her head up. The cut was superficial, barely anything. The worst thing was the small amount of blood left on her neck.

“We need a doctor,” Ryan said, bending over a very dead looking Master, holding a rag he had found over the wound on his stomach, “Honestly, we might need a hospital.”

“Not an option,” Graham said, “can’t imagine a hospital will take well to a bloke with two hearts and who knows what else.”

The TARDIS, in a fixed sort of disarray probably done by the Master, groaned. Yaz watched as the screens came to life, blinking at her. The random circles she constantly saw fizzed in and out, incomprehensible to her.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” She said to the TARDIS, feeling ridiculous as she did so, “Can you… Put it in English?”

The TARDIS buzzed at her. Huh, maybe the Doctor wasn’t crazy when she was talking to herself – maybe she was used to having someone listen to her all the time. Yaz watched as the screen moved once again, but nothing had changed for her.

She was about to ask again when a very loud phone went off right next to her.

She jumped, pushing Kara away, making sure she was safe. Feeling ridiculous when nothing happened, she looked towards Ryan and Graham, who both shrugged. Eyes on the unconscious Time Lords, she picked up the phone.

“Hello?” She asked.

“Hi,” A voice, a woman’s voice, answered, “You’ve reached Martha Smith-Jones.”

Yaz looked towards Ryan and Graham, who again shrugged. She felt lost, “Uh,” Yaz said, “This is going to sound crazy…”

Martha hummed, “When is it not?”

“Right…” Yaz said, wondering what she could say, wondering who just accepted ‘this is going to sound crazy’ with such confidence, “You wouldn’t happen to know someone called The Doctor, would you?”

The line went silent for a while, then, “Who are you?”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Martha Jones-Smith, it seems, was a doctor.

She was thirty minutes from Graham’s flat, had an old ‘thing’ with the Doctor (whatever that meant) and was remarkably familiar with what traveling with the Doctor meant. She was confused when Yaz mentioned that the TARDIS wasn’t the usual police box and was even more confused when she heard multiple people on the line.

Either way, Yaz heard doctor, and that was enough for her.

“Yaz?” Martha asked her, smiling, gesturing to the man next to her, “This is my husband, Mickey.”

Yaz shook their hands, trying her best to smile, “Nice to meet you.”

“So,” Martha said, “Where is he?”

“Uh…?” Yaz asked, then remember distinctly that the Doctor was an alien who used to be a man, “Follow me…”

Yaz opened the doors to the TARDIS, disguised as a tree, and carefully watched Martha and Mickey take a look at the console room. Their eyes were wide, confused, and even more so when they spotted the Master and the Doctor, both passed out on the ground.

“It’s…” Mickey remarked, “Different.”

“Honestly, Mickey,” Martha said, “Big picture much? The Doctor is passed out on the floor of the TARDIS.”

Yaz thought to mention that the Master was not the Doctor, but was distracted by the fact that she seemed to know exactly what to do. Martha went to the Master’s side, medical kit already in hand, and pulled back the rags that Graham had placed on him. “Why isn’t he regenerating?” She asked Yaz.

“I -I don’t know.”

Yaz really wished she wasn’t the one that volunteered to stay and greet Martha. Graham had taken Kara to the kitchens to distract her, while Ryan kept guard at Graham’s flat, making sure police didn’t show up. Eventually, they had to figure out what to do with the…

With the bodies.

Maybe this was better.

“I can’t do this here,” Martha said, looking Yaz, “I need medical equipment – Not to mention, I’m a field medic not a surgeon.”

“What about her?” Yaz asked, not willing to deal with the idea of dragging the Master along to a human hospital.

Martha moved to the Doctor, fingers going to her wrist, “What’s wrong with her?”

“Drugged with something,” Yaz said, “She was hurt before, too, in the leg. It only happened a couple of hours ago.”

Martha looked confused. She moved to the other wrist of the Doctor, “Two fast heartbeats… I thought he was the last Time Lord?”

The Last Time Lord? What did that mean?

“Uh,” Yaz replied, way out of her realm, “is this a good time to mention that that’s the Doctor…?”

Mickey and Martha’s eyes went from the Doctor, to the Master, back to the Doctor, “She – her? She’s the Doctor?”

Yaz nodded, “And uh, I’m not sure if it’ll matter to you, but his name is the Master – also a Time Lord, obviously.”

Mickey and Martha stared at each other, then towards the Master, “That’s the Master.”

“Oh!” Yaz said, surprised, “You know him!”

Martha laughed, but it wasn’t a funny sound, “You can say that. He kept the Doctor trapped for a year on a ship called the Valiant – in a cage.”

Yaz nodded… Once, twice, three times. “Ah.” She said, eventually, wondering how in the world the man that had saved the Doctor was the same one that imprisoned her. Wait, she did know. After all, before this, he had tried to kill the entire human race.

“He tried to kill my friend, Jack Harkness,” Martha continued, “And wasn’t successful only because Jack isn’t killable. He tortured my family. I spent a year traveling around the world, telling the Doctor’s story just so the Doctor could get free. I saw him die on that ship. And-and you want me to save this monster?”

Mickey looked at Martha and slide a hand on top of hers, offering a silent comfort. If that look was anything to go by, that story was filled with years of hurt between the two of them.

“Monster,” Yaz echoed, wondering what the world the TARDIS was thinking when she invited this woman here to fix the Master, “right.” She thought about the way the Doctor looked at the Master; the way the two of them knew what each other was thinking with a single glance.

She thought about Kara, how Yaz had automatically classified the Master as Kara’s father without even blinking an eye. She wondered who this man truly was. She wondered why the Doctor trusted him.

“They have a daughter,” Yaz said, hoping she was making sense, hoping it was enough to convince her that the Master was worth it, “Her name is Kara. That girl loves the Master more than life itself. And the Doctor? The Doctor survived hell to get that girl safe. She’ll live just to make Kara smile. She’s with my friend Graham right now, over in the kitchen to keep her calm.”

Martha laughed, “They have a daughter,” she said, almost crazed, “The Master and the Doctor have a daughter. Good one, mate. The nine-hundred-year-old Time Lord forgave the man that nearly killed us all.”

Yaz looked at her, “Nine hundred?”

She had heard the Master joke about the Doctor being billion of years old. The Doctor had said that she’s thousands of years old. How long ago did Martha’s story happen for the Doctor? How many years did it take to forgive your jailer?

“How old is the Doctor?” Martha asked, quietly, “How long has a been since he-she saw me? How many years?”

Yaz shook her head, “Thousands, at least.”

Martha looked away from her, looking at Mickey. Mickey looked just as unsurprised as her. If Yaz had to put an emotion to it, she could have sworn she looked disappointed.

“I’ll call this into some old friends from U.N.I.T,” Martha said over the stifling silence, “They’ll deal with… Him. In the meantime, I’ll take a sample of the Doctor’s blood, have the lab figure out what’s strong enough to knock a Time Lord out.”

U.N.I.T. Yaz remembered them – they were on the news a while back, something about a government organization that got shut down ‘at the wrong time.’ The wrong time had been something to do with killer robots on the streets and –

Holy crap, U.N.I.T was the alien division of the government.

“Um,” Yaz said, head spinning once again, “It’s a really long story, but my friend Ryan is… I really don’t know how to say this.”

“Is it worse than finding out the man from your nightmares is alive?”

Yaz made a face, “No…?”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Ryan met Mickey.

He was older than him, rougher, something of a soldier type. That surprised Ryan, considering the Doctor hated weapons. He thought that Martha and Mickey had traveled with the Doctor – how was that they went from traveling with someone that hated guns and armies and then right to it?

“Mate,” Ryan asked, “You don’t seem… Squeamish with this. Does this happen to you a lot?”

“Seen weirder, is all,” Mickey said, like it was a Tuesday afternoon and they were getting lunch together. “I imagine you’d seen some weird things too. I never really traveled with the Doctor but I’ve seen what he does to people.”

He said the Doctor’s name like it was a curse. It had never occurred to Ryan that there were people, humans, out there that didn’t agree with the Doctor. What was it that made him hate her so much?

“It’s not like that,” Ryan said, feeling like he had to defend his friend, “She hates weapons… Normally. But this guy Talsar captured her.”

“Yeah,” Mickey said, not getting it, “And then he-she made some scientific mumbo-jumbo up and escaped with a barely a scratch. I know how it goes.”

“No,” Ryan said, really not liking this guy. How did he know the Doctor? “She was captured in a slave ring, saving my friend Yaz. It took the Master and us three months to track her down a rescue her. Listen, I don’t know the details, but I know she hasn’t been the same since.”

Micky stopped looking at the ground, turning to look at him. “A slave ring? In space?”

Ryan nodded, “She’s got these nightmares now. Before, I’ve never seen her sleep – she was just constantly fixing her TARDIS. And now, and with Kara… The Master is the only one that can calm her down. I don’t know what history you got with the two of them, but whatever it was, they moved past it.”

Mickey’s eyes went down. He began looking around the room once again, acting uninterested, “Yeah, well,” Mickey said, bitterly, “The Doctor changed my whole life in ways you can't even imagine. Then, he just leaves, like there's nothing else too it.”

Ryan took that in – watching as Mickey looked under Graham’s bed, lost in his own thoughts. Ouch. Ryan had never thought of what it meant to travel with the Doctor long. He knew it was dangerous - the Doctor had warned him plenty - but he could never imagine a world where he didn't travel with her anymore. He couldn't picture the Doctor just...Leaving and him being forced back to his normal life.

“I’m sorry,” Ryan said, knowing that it wasn’t enough, “I can’t imagine going through that.”

“Listen,” Mickey said, “I’ve… seen what traveling with the Doctor can do to people. It happened to Martha, it happened to Rose, it happened to Rose’s mum. The Doctor brings you to these amazing places, makes you feel special and loved, and, in the end, gets you killed, or leaves you, or destroys everything that you once were.”

“The Doctor is amazing,” Mickey continued, “And the earth needs him, but he hurt the people I love, and I won’t forgive him. It was Martha that taught me I don’t have to.”

Ryan said nothing. Even he knew that anything he said wouldn’t be enough. How was the Doctor that he knew – the amazing woman that put her heart on her sleeve when it mattered the most – was the same one that ruined Mickey and Martha’s lives?

“Found it,” Mickey said, grabbing something from underneath the Doctor’s bed. He crawled out, revealing a broken syringe – the same one that was injected into the Doctor. “Martha said it’ll help identify what’s wrong with the Doctor.”

“Come on,” Mickey continued, “Just got a ping from my friends at U.N.I.T. They’ll meet us outside and take us to their base. The Doctor… And The Master will be there.”

Ryan nodded, knowing there was nothing else to be said. He got up from the ground, head spinning. That seemed to be happening a lot. He wondered how Yaz was fairing against Martha. If Mickey wasn’t willing to listen to him, than he doubted Martha would either.

Ryan’s phone went off. He got it out quickly, relieved when he saw a text from Graham. “Going with Martha to their base. Be safe.”

Ryan looked a Mickey, watching as he made his way out of the flat, completely ignoring the horror scene behind him. Ryan wondered how long it would take for him not to bat an eye at the same kind of violence. Before, he was worried if he would ever go on another adventure with the Doctor, seeing as she had kid now.

Now, he was worried if he wanted to.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master was waking up.

He could feel it. The chair beneath him was wobbling slightly every five seconds or so, shaking as his subconscious tried to push him out. The fire, usually peaceful, was raging as well, flames licking at his feet.

The Master rolled his neck. Finally. He knew roughly three hours had passed in the waking realm, a ridiculously long time to be trapped in his own head and was desperate to check on both Kara and the Doctor.

Last he had seen her, she was passed out on the ground, blood dripping down her arm. His only hope was that that was her only injury.

He came to suddenly, taking a deep breathe of air in. Blurry eyes caught sight of a white ceiling with bright lights, causing him to wince. He tried to bring a hand up to rub at them, only to freeze when he realized he couldn’t.

He turned his head, looking at his hand, shocked to find handcuffs attached to what appeared to be a hospital bed. Where the hell was he? The Master shot Talsar between the eyes – he’d seen it himself. He watched as the man crumpled to the ground, finally dead. There was no way that he had survived. So why was he handcuffed?

He heard a scuffle. His eyes went around the room, taking in its very bare surroundings. The only thing he had was the white walls, the hospital bed, and a pair of handcuffs. Another sound went off, a knock just barely on the door, and the Master found himself tensing.

Ow. His stomach flared in pain, a painful fire going through him. He hissed, pulling up his shirt, revealing a line of stitches. Right, he’d been shot. Apparently, these people didn’t believe in at least 2,300 technology. He was doomed.

He moved off the bed, ignoring the pain, and ripped the handcuffs from the metal pole of the hospital bed. Honestly, if this was Talsar’s work, the Master could not understand how the Doctor didn’t escape sooner.

He creeped by the door, putting his ear against it. Sure enough, he heard…

Kara, screaming.

The Master kicked the door down, barely stopping as sheetrock dust and nails came down with it. He was greeted with a hallway, two doors to choose from, and listened for Kara’s voice.

“I wanna see him!” Kara voice shouted.

No weapons, no plan, and no logic in sight – this was how he got shot in the first place. Honestly, what we he becoming, the Doctor? It didn’t matter, he would rip apart the person keeping him from Kara with his bare hands if he had too.

He opened the door, stupidly unlocked, and barged in, taking in the scene in front of him.

Kara, crying in front of the Doctor’s bed, who was fast asleep. Yaz, Ryan, and Graham off to side, watching as a familiar yet unfamiliar face stared down at a crying Kara. The woman, of the same century as the other humans, had her hands on her hips, obviously trying to parent Kara.

Yes, she was going to die very fast.

“Koschei!”

Kara ran at him at full speed, and the Master hid his groan as he roached down, holding her in his arms, “Hello, little one.”

Kara was clinging onto him tighter than she ever had before, crying even more tears and the Master shushed her. “It’s alright.” He said to her, holding her just as tight, worried for her. A stomach wound wasn’t exactly the best for lifting people, and he could already feel the flimsy stitches attempt to give way, but it would require another near-death accident to stop him.

“I thought,” Kara said, hiccuping, “You were g-gone.”

The Master looked towards the four humans, wondering why in Rassilon’s name none of them told Kara that he would recover. What idiots let a child worry about their…

Their father dying.

Ignoring that thought for the time being, he turned to Yaz, raising an eyebrow.

“Martha,” Yaz said, “was trying to stop Kara from seeing you.”

The Master turned back towards… Martha. Oh, she was older, sure, but he would recognize those eyes anywhere. The little girl who had ruined everything for him when he was Harold Saxon. How interesting that she was here now, destroying what little he had – the universe in its infinite kindness.

Martha, unlike the scared girl that he remembered, looked stoically back at him, “Those handcuffs were made of the strongest metals on earth.”

The Master looked at her, considering. “The bed wasn’t.” To further prove how pointless the handcuffs were, he gave one strong tug to the handcuff still attached to his wrist, unsurprised when it snapped right off. Without care, he threw them behind his back, smirking when they hit the wall behind him.

Yaz snorted, causing Ryan to elbow her sharply. Favorite human, indeed.

Martha glared at him, eyes going to Kara. The Master didn’t care. Instead, he looked towards the Doctor, watching as the ridiculously basic heart monitor stayed at a steady hundred twenty beats per minute. Something was very wrong.

“What did you do to her?” He growled, new, murderous thoughts coming to mind. How many must he get through to get the Doctor and Kara safe?

“She was drugged,” Yaz offered, “Talsar said something about ‘making her compliant.’”

The Master was right before – killing Talsar quickly was too good for him. He put Kara down, letting her grab his hand as he did so. Kara deserved peace, not whatever was going on here. Again, he wondered where they were – if he had to escape yet another prison.

The Master moved to the Doctor, pushing past Marth as he do so. Whatever old thoughts of hate she had for him, the Master didn’t have time or the want to deal with them. “Whatever he gave her shouldn’t still be affecting her.” The Master said, coming up to her bedside.

She was pale – worryingly pale. It wasn’t often that Time Lords got sick, and even then they had so many medical advances that illness was hardly a problem on Gallifrey. They had taught basic medical in the Academy, but it was all trauma related. Sick, with a fever going back the goosebumps on her arm, was not something that happened.

The Master to put his hand to her temple, intending to talk to her, only for Martha to come up next to him, smacking his hand away, “Don’t touch her!”

The Master looked at her, glaring, “You’re lucky,” He whispered to her, “I assume I have you to thank for my recovery, which means I owe you. Though, I suppose, we’re even now.”

To give credit where credit is due, Martha did not back down. Many would have. “I saw you die.”

The Master laughed, “Dramatic back then, even for me. What an adventure that had been.”

Martha said nothing. In fact, she looked rather unfazed. A shame, really. He would have been happier if could have at least scared her. Again, he worried if he was becoming soft. Maybe a little hypnosis would go far in this situation. He’d love to make her a drooling mess on the floor… Or just make her leave the room.

Kara distracted them all. She let go of the Master’s hand, instead going to the Doctor’s side. “She’s waking up!”

The Master watched as the Doctor took a deep breath, eyes fluttering. She took another deep breath in, turning her head to the side, but her eyes didn’t open. Before Martha could make another stupid attempt to stop him, his hand once again went to her temple.

“Contact.”

“…Master!”

A jumble of emotions hit him – love, worry, affection, nervousness, fear, relief, love, love, love – and the Master couldn’t help but melt into them. He arrived in her mind scape suddenly – easily with no resistance – and was greeted with tight, loving arms around him. He returned the greeting, arms snaking around her middle, holding her close.

“You’re okay.” The Doctor said, relieved, “I thought…”

“It’s insulting that you think a bullet would kill me.” He joked, maybe in bad tastes, “Then again, I leave you alone for a moment and you manage to get into even more trouble.”

The Doctor laughed, breathless against him, “I told you before, danger is my middle name.”

He shook his head, not even trying to hide his smile, “You’re still ridiculous.”

In the real world, the humans were asking what he was doing. It was easy to answer with “talking to the Doctor.”

“Is Kara okay?” The Doctor asked.

“Can I say hi?” Kara asked him, excited. The Master winked at her.

“She says hi,” The Master replied, “I don’t intend to let her out of my sight until I figure out what’s wrong with you.”

“I felt something!” Kara said in awe.

The Master squeezed her hand, not surprised that the Doctor was projecting her feelings through him. While he had always had a certain flare for mental tactics and defenses, the Doctor’s emotions where – in this case, quite literally – all over the place.

“I’ll have to be quick about figuring out what’s wrong with you,” The Master commented, “Kara is eager to talk to you.”

The Doctor blinked, looking surprised, “Wrong with me?”

“Whatever Talsar gave you did a number on you,” The Master continued, “Though I loath it, I’ll have to ask the humans in the facility to use their equipment to test your blood.”

“Facility?” The Doctor looked even more confused, “We aren’t in the TARDIS?”

“You’re talking to her?” Martha asked him, unbelievably, “In your head?”

Martha, a blast from the past that is pushing me past my limits, has graciously saved us. Have to admit, she became a nuisance in her old age.”

“Martha Jones?” The Doctor said, “Good ‘old Martha Jones! Incredible! We must be at U.N.I.T location then! One of the last ones if it’s the fam’s time! How did you find her?”

“Touch telepaths,” The Master explained, “She’s very much awake in here. Now quite, the grownups are talking.”

“I didn’t find her,” The Master said, now wondering the same thing, “Must have been the humans.”

“Brilliant!” The Doctor said, smiling. “Love my fam - Love Martha Jones! We’re right lucky she’s here. Brilliant doctor, that one. Smart and brave!”

The Master rolled his eyes, “humans.” He cursed.

“You owe those humans.” She smirked at him.

They were silent for a bit, looking at each other, relieved. It wasn’t ideal, still worried about why her body hadn’t yet metabolized whatever Talsar gave her, but at least she safe. Alive. No longer haunted by Talsar.

“He’s dead?” The Doctor asked him, quietly, “Really?”

The Master nodded, knowing that this isn’t something he could make light of, “He’s gone. Everyone’s safe.”

The Doctor nodded, biting at her lip, “I thought I would feel better, knowing that this was all over. Instead it’s just…”

“Nothingness.” The Master said, familiar with pain in a way that she never had been, “Some hurts are unforgivable.”

The Doctor looked at him, nodding, trying to understand, “Maybe.” She said, softly, unsure. It was the first time in a long time that the Master saw her lost – she had always been so sure of her herself, maddingly so, and seeing her so uncertain, though he had longed for it only days ago, now only hurt him.

“Come here.” he said, beckoning her close again. Physical affection had always confused him, but it was seamless with the Doctor, with his Theta, always full of energy, of love and forgiveness. It was her that started their many nights together back in the Academy, but it was him that always begged Theta for more, even if he never said so in words.

The Doctor fell into his arms once again.

It felt right.

Chapter Text

“So we do nothing?”

The Master rolled his eyes at the group. Honestly, how did the Doctor put up with this amount of stupid? Sure, they had heart, but it would only get them so far. Being ignorant of another’s biology was what got people killed. He wondered if the Doctor’s endless supply of knowledge had ever failed her – if that was what got other pets killed.

He was very thankful that he sent Graham upstairs, Kara in tow. He really didn’t want Kara exposed to this amount of stupid.

“Time Lords have a far superior immune system,” The Master explained, “letting this run it’s curse is a far better alternative than putting unnecessary drugs in her system.”

“And how do we know this isn’t just part of your plan?” Martha Jones, a human that was definitely not allowed within a five-foot radius of him lest he lose it, asked.

If Martha hadn’t been so gracious in letting him leave to fix the TARDIS as the Doctor recovered, she would already be dead, damn the consequences. After all, the ‘U.N.I.T. base’ had ended up being a small house with a sub-basement – destroying it would be easy, considering he had not one, but two TARDIS’s to work with.

“It’s been a couple of hours already,” Yaz offered, looking at Martha as she asked him, “And the Doctor only woke up twice. Are you sure?”

The Master stopped fiddling with the part in his hands, barely wincing when the circuit shocked him in return for not paying attention. Honestly, the Doctor’s TARDIS seemed to fight him at every turn. The Doctor seemed to be fighting him at every turn.

“I’m sure.” He responded, thinking of his own wound. If he could heal a bullet wound in a couple of hours, the Doctor could handle expelling a little poison. Where the bastard had found an old vial of Yellow Fever he would never know, but it only made him seethe with anger at the thought.

“Three more hours,” Martha said, heading towards the door, “I’ll give him – her three more hours, and then we’ll do this my way.”

The Master’s hand curled around the screwdriver. Driving it through her skull was far too tempting. If he didn’t have the Doctor’s angry gaze on him the moment she woke to worry about, Martha would have already been gone.

He watched as Martha made her exit, not looking back at any of them. The Master looked towards the other two, who were looking at the Doctor with more than just their usual admiration – instead, it was tinged with just a bit of inquisitiveness. Interesting. He wondered what had made them change their moods.

No, he didn’t wonder. No doubt Martha and the other useless human had told them something.

“Come on, Yaz,” Ryan said, “we should get some sleep.”

The Master rolled his eyes. The amount of sleep humans needed repulsed him. They wasted more than half their lives away.

Yaz nodded, “Yeah, you go ahead,” She said, “I’ll catch up.”

Oh no. No, absolutely not. He had no desire to have a ‘heart-to-heart’ with her. The very thought of trying to be comforting for the Doctor’s sake was already giving him hives. She couldn’t possibly want to talk to him.

Perhaps he could go visit Kara, even as she slept, or go fix more of the TARDIS…

Ryan rolled his eyes, “No, you won’t ‘catch up’.”

…Or pilot the TARDIS into a supernova.

Yaz looked surprised. It was one of the most painfully awkward moments in his lives. “I- fine.

“Did you torture Martha’s family?” Ryan asked, quickly, like he was afraid of the words themselves, “And keep the Doctor locked in a cage for a year?”                                                                                           

He had a new order to the list of humans he hated. Ryan was first, then Martha, then the one she married that he couldn’t remember the name of, then Graham, then Yaz. It seemed like a reasonable list to him. The list seemed to change by the day, and he found himself very okay with that. He wondered if they would make it onto his ‘kill on sight’ list by the end of this.

Again, the Doctor haunted his thoughts. No killing.

He put down the now singed circuit on small table in front of him, peeking out of the corner of his eye to see if the Doctor would make a miraculous recovery. His luck prevailed, and she did nothing to help his plight. Typical.

“I did,” The Master replied, “Great year that was. Shame that little human had to ruin it.”

He got up from his chair, intending to leave the room. This was not a conversation to be having after the days he had.

“So you’re just going to leave?” Yaz asked.

The Master raised an eyebrow at her, “I attempted to kill all of humankind a month ago,” He remarked dryly, “That little escapade was thousands of years ago. What difference does it make?”

Ryan and Yaz looked at each other, clearly unnerved, “I thought-”

“You thought I held remorse for my actions,” The Master finished, “How human of you.” He moved to the door once again, fearful that he would lose his temper. Missy had almost gained control of most of his tendencies, but it was him that brought them raging back.

“You can’t have both!” Yaz said, crossing her arms, furious, stopping him from making his escape, “You can’t have Kara and the Doctor, act all nice, and then go back to murdering people.”

The Master, again, wondered what timeline he landed in to allow this child to comment on any part of his life. The screwdriver, clenched loosely in his hand, was now heavier than before.

“I’ll give one warning to you,” The Master said, only because he did like her, “Get out.”

Ryan, perhaps smarter in this case, pulled on Yaz’s arm, trying to get her to leave, only for Yaz to very stupidly stand her ground, “You saved those girls. You saved the Doctor and Kara. I know you love them both. How could you do all those awful-”

Enough. In a fit of anger, the screwdriver in his hand was thrown, hard as could, at Yaz. He watched as it made its way towards her, just barely missing the top of her hand. He smirked as the two turned around, barely breathing as the blade of the screwdriver was now embedded in the wall.

“Anymore comments?” the Master asked, the drums begging for more – always begging for more violence.

“Koschei.”

The Master eyes closed, more out of annoyance than embarrassment. The universe had always managed to screw with him – always managed to bring him to his worst moments. He turned slowly, watching as the Doctor – pale and shaking – was standing with her arms crossed, glaring at him.

Even weak as a newborn kitten, the Master felt something in himself shatter as she stared down at him.

“Ryan – Yaz,” The Doctor said, “Mind giving us the room?”

The humans might have been ready to argue, he didn’t know, but when the Doctor turned her gaze towards them, he could hear their footsteps retreat out of the room nearly instantly. At the very least, his malicious stunt had not only gotten them to go away, but had also woken the Doctor up. He couldn’t find it in himself to feel bad about it… Right?

She sighed as they left, depositing herself dramatically back on the bed, hands going to her eyes and rubbing at them, “There’s something wrong with my head. Feels… Fuzzy.”

“That would be the fever.” The Master said, not ready to move to her yet, even as he longed to wrap his arms around her. There was a dam in front of him, and it was just about ready to crumble into pieces. He wondered if this was the moment she decided their differences were too much.

She looked at him, red eyes, and patted the bed, clearing beckoning him over, “Sit with me?”

He hesitated. That was new. He was never one for hesitation – his actions were always precise and clear, never faulting. Having to hold back, to think over such a simple thing as sitting down next to his oldest friend, didn’t feel right.

He went to her slowly, like a frightened animal, and sat on her bed, making sure no part of him was touching her.

“You could have killed her.”

“I-”

“You didn’t,” The Doctor continued, “You frightened Yaz, but you didn’t kill her.”

He hesitated once again. She wasn’t… Wrong. He didn’t actually intend to kill. Scaring her, yes, but even in his anger he didn’t want her dead. He wasn’t sure if that was his own decision, or the Doctor’s influence. Either way, he supposed the end result was the same.

“Yaz is right,” The Doctor continued, “We – I can’t have both. I can’t have Koschei and the Master.”

His hearts stilled in his chest. That wasn’t fair. He was both the Doctor’s childhood friend and the person, the title, he had grown into. He’d earned the title of Master just as much as Theta earned the Doctor. Claiming that Theta and the Doctor were two separate entity was… It was insulting. He felt anger rise up in him again.

“I’m the Master,” He told her, cold, “You can’t pick and chose the traits you want. No matter how times you use my name against me, I won’t change who am, not for…”

Not for you.

“I didn’t-” The Doctor groaned, looking frustrated, “It came out wrong.”

The Master laughed darkly, getting up from the bed, wanting as far away from her as possible, “I think it came out perfectly fine, love. No need to explain yourself.”

“Wait,” She said, looking worried, “M-Master, please, wait.”

It was the first time she had used his name again while not in some dire situation. It was what made him stop in his tracks in the first place. He wouldn’t regret his name, but he would regret that it brought her bad memories.

His back was towards her when he felt her put a light hand on his shoulder. He waited for her to make her way in front of him, but froze when he saw how utterly pathetic she looked. Now she was really shaking – she was hunched over, breathing heavily, sweat gathered on her brow.

“I didn’t…” She took another deep breath, “I trust you. I trust you to take care of Kara. If you can accept my mistakes, I can accept yours.”

He stared at her, confused, yet hope blazing in his chest, “But?”

Killing. Hurting the people that I care about.” She shook her head, biting her lip, “I can’t let Kara be exposed to that. I can’t let myself be exposed to that.”

Surprised. It was the best emotion he could describe to hear her say that she had her own weakness. She had always been stubborn in her own goodness. It had frustrated him to no end. It was what started Gallifrey’s end. He had always wanted the Doctor on his level.

Maybe… Maybe she was once. Maybe she had been where he stood, somewhere in the middle, lost in what to do and how to act. Maybe that was still her, fighting every day to be good.

“-It’s cold in here?” She asked, suddenly, shivering.

Alarmed, his hands went to her waist, helping her into the chair behind her. Thoughts of leaving were gone in another moment. He watched as she wrapped her arms around her stomach, groaning.

“I once had a stomachache from eating twenty-three custard creams,” She laughed, even through the pain, “Or-Or that time we tried getting drunk? ‘member? You were so mad that I chugged three when you went to the restroom.”

He did. They ended up making sure that Theta wouldn’t accidently throw themselves off the balcony in their dorm room. It had been hilarious, watching as they tripped and giggled themselves into oblivion, until the morning had come, and Theta had spent an hour throwing up.

“Nausea was to be expected,” He said, shaking himself out of the memory, “I’ll get you some water.”

She nodded, then grabbed his hand urgently, “think I’m gonna-”

Oh no. He rushed to the left of him, grabbing at the small bin, and shoved it in her hands, trying not to wince as she threw up what was mostly stomach bile. His hands went to her hair automatically, holding it away from her face. This was much worse than when she drunk five bottles of ginger ale.

He heard footsteps from down the hall. It was Martha, along with who he assumed was her partner, that barged in, looking around frantically until they spotted them.

“’Ello,” The Doctor said miserably in greeting.

Martha blinked, looking towards him – feeling her eyes on him as he swept her hair back again, using parts of his sleeve to dab at her sweat.

“Let’s get you back in bed, yeah?” Martha asked the Doctor, coming up besides the Master. He felt himself tense but didn’t do anything while the Doctor was in so much pain. “Mickey, could you grab more blankets?”

The boy looked at him, a stupid little warning that was misplaced, and then left the room. Together, the Master and Martha slowly lifted the Doctor to her feet, guiding her back to her bed. She said nothing at being manhandled, only further proving how awful she felt.

This was to be expect. Why was he so worried?

“How…Long?” She asked, mostly incoherent, but the Master understood nevertheless.

“It’s a human disease, Yellow Fever,” He answered, “Maybe another day of this.

“I can give you some medication,” Martha offered, “Something to take the edge off the stomach cramps…?”

“Doctor Martha Jones.” The Doctor said, smiling warmly at Martha, even as she continued to shake on the bed, “Knew you would do it.”

“Doctor Martha Smith-Jones, actually,” Martha said to her, but looked worried as the Doctor continued to shiver. “I’m going to check your temperature.”

“Kara?” The Doctor asked him, grabbing at his hand.

“She’s fine, love,” The Master reassured her, squeezing her hand tightly, “It’s late. I’ll bring her around in the morning if you’re feeling better.”

Her sense of time must be off – the Doctor wouldn’t have asked him if she knew how early in the morning it was. He supposed a fever would do that to a Time Lord. Again, being in unfamiliar territory was beyond frustrating.

It was then that the other human showed up, a ridiculous amount of blankets in his arms.

“Why is there a screwdriver in the wall?”

Fine, Stupid universe, he thought. He regretted it. Happy?

As always, the universe didn’t answer.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Yaz imagined it could have gone better.

Though, she also could never imagine such an icy glare coming from the Doctor. She had been ready to punch the Master, maybe even jab his eyes out, but one look from the Time Lord older than civilizations had her freezing in place.

Ryan had been the one to get her to leave. Tugging on her arm had been the only hope she had of being able to run.

“Beyond freaky.” Ryan said, just as soon as the made it up the stairs of the somewhat creepy basement. The U.N.I.T safe house was nice on the two upper levels, even had a fireplace that kept out the chill. Graham was currently enjoying the flames with a hot chocolate while Kara was passed out on the sofa next to him.

It was surreal, watching them do something so human while two immortal beings downstairs argued – or talked – or something.

“That was right quick,” Graham commented quietly, “Doc isn’t up, then?”

Ryan let out of breath of air, “She’s up.”

Graham looked surprised, “That’s…Not good then?”

Yaz crossed her arms, “The Master threw a screwdriver at me and the Doctor woke up to…” yell at him? It honestly didn’t feel like enough, given the look she had given them. She had never seen the Doctor so furious.

“The Master threw a screwdriver at you?” Graham asked, yelled really, and they all watched carefully to see if Kara woke up. Luckily, being traumatized seemed to tire her out. Who knew?

Yaz’s dark humor was becoming too much for even her.

“You didn’t hear what the Master had done, Grandad,” Ryan said, choosing to sit on the floor, next to the fire. “Yaz told me that he kept the Doctor locked up, but I didn’t really think she meant it, you know?”

Graham looked even more confused than before, “Locked up.” He repeated, “I leave you two for ten minutes and suddenly I’m even more confused than usual.”

Yaz smiled, missing Graham – missing them. How long has it been since all of them had sat down with a cup of tea, hearing stories from the Doctor about planets Yaz couldn’t even imagine. How long has it been since they’ve been able to laugh over the adventures they had, complimenting each other on a job well done.

It felt like a lifetime ago.

“I missed this,” Yaz admitted, looking at the two of them, her family, “I missed just... Talking.”

Ryan and Graham smiled too, “Been a right minute since we’ve all sat down, eh?”

“I almost miss hearing about your boring bus job.” Ryan joked, to which Graham scoffed at him, looking affronted.

“Please don’t start,” Yaz joked back, “This age-old argument between the two of you is exhausting.”

“Bunch of children, you lot are,” Graham replied over Ryan’s quiet laughter, “Honestly. Should be ashamed of yourselves.”

It was then that Yaz heard footsteps. The front door handle jingled, a key getting shoved into it, and then Martha walked through along with her husband, Mickey. Both looked well for being out so late at night. Maybe they were used to working nights.

“Oh,” Martha said, surprised, “I honestly thought all of you would have gone home.”

Yaz did too. Still, she had called her family just before midnight, telling them that she was staying at Ryan’s. Her sister had teased her mercilessly in the background of the phone call, and it was with a heavy heart that she had to admit that she almost missed her normal life.

Still, it left her wondering why Graham and Ryan had decided to stay.

Martha’s eyes found Kara’s sleeping form, “Poor thing must be exhausted.”

“That Talsar bloke scared her something fierce,” Graham said, “Then having both her parents hurt in front of her? Safe to say it would take an earthquake to wake her up.”

“Her parents,” Mickey said, scoffing, “Crazy sentence, that one.”

Martha elbowed him the stomach, but the damage had been done, “Sorry,” She apologized, “We’re…Trying. You have to understand, I never thought I’d see the Doctor again, but I especially never thought I would have to deal with seeing him again too.”

Graham winced, “Yaz mentioned something about the Master hurting you.”

Mickey snorted, “Yeah, mate, you could say that – Could say that about the Doctor too.”

“You don’t know her,” Ryan said hotly, “I get you have history, but the Doctor isn’t-”

“And I respect that,” Martha said, just as angry at Ryan, “And I think we can all respect that we have different opinions, yeah? Let’s just all calm down and get through one night.”

“I understand the bit about the Master,” Graham said, unsure, “but how’s the doc hurt you?”

Martha looked away, uncomfortable, “I traveled with the Doctor for a couple of years,” Martha said, “And it was amazing, yeah? The different planets, the different cultures, the past! I met Shakespeare! I mean, it was crazy and best time of my life.”

“You met Shakespeare?” Yaz asked, “That’s amazing!”

Martha smiled wistfully, “Yeah, it was.”

“So why’d you stop traveling with her?” Ryan asked.

Martha sighed, looking at Mickey, “I – the Doctor loved someone, another one of his – I swear I won’t get used to that – her companions, Rose. The girl that traveled with him before me.”

“The one you were talking about,” Ryan said to Mickey, “That the Doctor changed or something.”

“Yeah,” Mickey answered, “Rose was my best mate growing up.”

“But the doc didn’t kill Rose,” Graham asked, looking worried, “Just wanna make that clear, yeah?”

“No,” Mickey answered, “The Doctor… It’s a long story. The point is, if you travel with the Doctor… You’re different, alright? Rose was so far gone into space that she just… She left me, multiple times. It was like all that mattered was The Doctor.”

“I get that,” Yaz said, “I mean, yeah, all of this has changed me, don’t get me wrong. I understand. But I’m not going to abandon my family after this.”

“You will if she gets you killed.”

Yaz looked at Martha – at the way she was standing, at how tall she was among the three of them. She looked... War-torn, like someone who had seen to much. Yaz looked down, thinking of what she was… What she would have done if she hadn’t met the Doctor. Where she wouldn’t be without the Doctor.

She always thought she was worth nothing. Being with the Doctor taught her she meant everything to the people around her. She wouldn’t trade that for anything. If it meant her end would be off in space, surround that people loved and respected her… That was her ending. That was her choice.

Maybe the Master needed the same push from the Doctor that Yaz had needed. Maybe she could forgive him for losing his temper.

Martha, Yaz knew as she thought more and more on how the Master had changed in the short time the Doctor had been with him, had walked away from the Doctor.

“I-”

Then, there was the unmistakable sound of someone throwing up.

Martha and Mickey were off like lightning, down the stairs and to the Doctor’s door before Yaz even knew what walking was.

“Well,” Graham said, eyes on Kara, “Saved by the Doctor, eh?”

Saved by the Doctor – that sounded about right.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor was still sick.

The Master couldn’t make any sense of it. Time Lords were designed to be genetically perfect – hardly ever ageing, all diseases deleted, all virus burned up by their superior immune system. Being affected Talsar’s concoction of Yellow Fever had injected her with did not make sense.

He watched as the Doctor played with Kara, sitting up on her bed, playing an old Gallifreyan hand game. She had translated it to a rough sort of English, but eventually gave up, simply singing the tone in Gallifreyan. It was calming, even as his frustrations grew. She was better, it was just slow going.

Though he loathed seeing Martha Jones again, and headaches he had caused her recently, her help had been invaluable. She was the one that figured out what the Doctor had been given, which had been a rather ingenious engineered sample of a human disease called Yellow Fever. It wasn’t infectious as its original, but it packed a wallop. If she was human, she would be dead.

Thankfully, the most it would do to the Doctor was tire her out. The nausea and the chills weren’t fun either, according to her. He imagined expelling everything from your stomach wasn’t exactly a good time and seeing it person wasn’t great either. 

“Mom!” Kara said, hoping into the bed before the Master could stop her. The Master shook his head fondly, watching as the Doctor snatched her midair, pulling her into a hug. It was a heartwarming scene, watching as the two of them reunited.

“I’m glad you’re okay.” Kara said, smiling wide at her, “It’s been forever!”

It had been a whole day since Kara and the Doctor spoke. Children’s understanding of time had always amused him. He moved away from them, heading towards what he had deemed as ‘his chair’. He had a couple of projects he was working on, all of them related to fixing the TARDIS, and the Doctor had commented many times on how to do them all. If Martha hadn’t put her on bed rest for another day, she would already be in the TARDIS.

Rassilon, he loved her.

Forever?” The Doctor asked, tickling her sides, “That is an awfully long time.”

Kara nodded, pouting, “It’s okay. It wasn’t your fault.”

The Doctor winced, but her smiled remained, “Thank you, Kara.”

Kara nodded, hopping off the bed suddenly, walking over to… Him?

“You promised to tell me about the purple planet.”

The Master smirked, beyond amused as she put her hands on her hips, demanding information. Oh yes, he could see how the Doctor had imprinted on the young one. He was reminded fiercely of himself at her age.

“I will, little one,” He said, “Only if you promise to not be as much trouble as your mum.”

Kara tilted her head at him, “Mom got in trouble?”

The Doctor glared at him from her bed, just daring him to continue. Well, he certainly wasn’t scared, “Your mother is the biggest troublemaker the universe has ever seen.”

“No!” Kara denied, crossing her arms, “She’s a hero!”

The Master looked at the Doctor again, who was blushing now, looking ready to make a run for it. He hated to admit it, but it was the cutest thing he had ever seen her done.

“And you’re a hero too!”

The Master froze, looking at her unbelievably, “No-”

“Your Koschei!” Kara said, stars in her eyes, “You battled robots and monsters! And you always saved Theta – my mom! Mom told me that you’re the smartest person she ever met!”

The Master hasn’t blushed in thousands of years – maybe more. He wasn’t one to get embarrassed, mostly because he could navigate a conversation to his favor without batting an eye. He was a manipulator, an expert at every craft he had tried… Embarrassment was not something he had ever felt.

“You should-” The Doctor said through hidden smiles and laughs, “You should tell Kara about that planet.”

He glared at her, not really meaning it, and got up, once again distracted from his project. Honestly, he was never going to finish fixing her TARDIS. Still, the chance to be with Kara and the Doctor was a welcomed change…

Was a welcomed change to the silence he was so accustomed to.

The Doctor looked confused as he came up to her. She raised an eyebrow as he motioned for her to move over. Just as she got settled, he grabbed Kara around the waist, listening to her giggle wildly as he gently threw her onto the bed, next to the Doctor.

“Hey!” Kara said, indignantly, only for the Doctor to latch onto her, giggling her.

The Master laid himself down next to Kara, more than surprised when she decided to sit up with him, putting her head on his shoulder. He expected her to lean on the Doctor more than anything else. But this… This was…

This was more than he could ever hope for.

He thought it would start the story – making up ridiculous and outlandish details and especially playing on that fact that it was the Doctor that got them stranded there in the first place. However, he felt himself freeze as Kara relaxed against him.

“I’m happy you’re okay too.” Kara said softly.

The Master nodded, unable to speak.

“Well, Kara,” The Doctor said, voice soft. He turned to look at her, basking her how gentle she looked in this moment. Their eyes connected and the Master watched as a brilliant smile took over her face. He missed that smile. He missed this.

“Our story begins on the shores of Kostbra…”

Aurora would have loved the story.

Kara loved it just as much.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was the most stubborn being in the universe.

The Master watched in a strange sort of awe as she continued to move on from one project to the next, never finishing one, and going back to each project randomly as she saw fit. She claimed to have enough sleep to “out dream a Fratzer” and now the energetic idiot was practically bouncing, even as her hands were steady while she worked.

“I’m thinking three days.” The Doctor called to him, googles on as she soldered. He hated how adorable it was on her – even the ages-old brown apron that was screaming to be put to its death did wonders on her. Her long blonde hair was once again in braids thanks to Kara, framing her face even as wisps of hair escaped. This regeneration may be his favorite yet.

“Three days?” He asked, turning a page of a book on astrophysics that he wasn’t really reading. However, two pages of reading it to Kara had put her right to sleep.

He was thankful that even after the scare Kara just had, she was able to sleep mostly without any nightmares. he was even more thankful that Kara now trusted him enough to have him comfort her without the Doctor’s intervention. After two days in that awful sub-basement with a recovering Time Lord, letting the Doctor get some much-needed rest without worrying about Kara sleeping was needed.

Technically, the Doctor had one more day of ordered bedrest, but no one could stop her when she was bored. The only reason he had caught her sneaking away to her TARDIS was because he had been doing the very same repairs she wished to do.

Great, old minds think alike he supposed.

“Three days until the TARDIS is back to her usual, sexy self. Isn’t that right old girl?” The Doctor explained, voice muffled due to the screws in her mouth. Rassilon, she was an idiot – a beautiful, intelligent idiot.

“Depends-” He said, trying to be nonchalant as he caught a glimpse of her sticking out her tongue in concentration. He suddenly couldn’t say a word.

She said nothing about it, too lost in her head, as usual. She was going on about something with the gravity of the other rooms, how some of them she had designed to keep plant life alive, and if the TARDIS had saved them when she self-deleted the rooms to conserve power.

The Master thought about their conversation from before – their first proper argument. He had expected their first fight to be something to write in history books, what with their penchant to be dramatic. It was relieving to know that the both of them could stay calm in the face of disagreement. Well, more relieved that the Doctor could stay calm even when his own anger was overwhelming. She had always been able to help his mood.

Though, the feelings from their disagreement still lingered. She had demanded for him to… What? Not give up his earned title of Master but give up the part of himself that he had thrived and survived on for years. Was he capable of that? Was it possible for him to give up everything he had relieved on to exist?

“…And the lights have been wonky ever since the circuits interacted with the vortex’s energy. You would think…”

He looked at her, rambling, wondering how she talked such much yet revealed so little. How was she the Timeless Child? How was she infinity older than him, billions of lives already had, and still this – the hopeful and kind idiot that rampaged through space and time with too much in her heart to not care.

He wondered if her life before Theta was better. How the Time Lords had treated her – how they had used her in this so-called Division. He wondered if the Doctor had ever tried to escape. He wondered if she had a hand in creating the Time Lords – if she wanted the Time Lords to exist.

He wondered why he no longer gave a damn.

He thought about why and how the Doctor had become his everyday life – how he wanted to be by her side through everything. He thought of Kara, of her kind, happy eyes when she greeted him. He thought of the humans.

The Master thought of losing them – all of them… And he couldn’t bare it.

“I’m the Master.” He said, suddenly, breaking her ramblings.

He watched as the Doctor stilled, hands freezing as she let the screwdriver clenched between her teeth fall to her chest. “Yes?” She tried to go back to her work, but it was obvious that he had rattled something.

The Master hesitated again. He hated feeling uncertain, but he hated it more when it was with her, “I won’t throw away the title of Master, no matter how much you want me to. Change has never been my nature.”

She shook her head at that, brows furrowed, “But-”

But,” He interrupted, “Adapting is something I find myself remarkably good at.”

The Doctor stopped all pretenses of fixing her TARDIS. She stood up, looking at him, “Adapting is just another word for change, you know?” She looked pensive, something in her eyes that mirrored her past regeneration, “Calling change something else doesn’t stop what it is.”  

He heard her true meaning perfectly: just because he wasn’t willing to call change doesn’t mean he wasn’t.  

She had always been graceful when she hadn’t understood something – never afraid of admitting it. Granted, she would fixate on the thing she didn’t understand until it drove him mad enough to explain it to her, or for her to go behind his back and learn the hard way.

He had never taken being wrong well.

The reason she could never understand the difference between a full change and adapting to the situation around you was because she never had to adapt. She never had to crawl her way to the top – never had to play the long game to get what she wanted.

The Doctor had never wanted or needed to play the long game. And, if she did, it had never come at the cost of remaking yourself.

Still, as she was staring at him with those eyes older than time itself, he couldn’t bring himself to argue with her about it – nor did he want to hear one of her long-winded moral debates.

“The point, my dear,” He said, coming closer to her, wanting to touch her but not sure if he had the right, “Is that those… Ideas you were trying oh so hard to teach me in that dreadful vault? Not all of them were lost. At the very bare minimum, I will never hurt Kara.”

She smiled, big and full of light and Rassilon the Master loved her.

“Knew you were listening,” She said, teasingly, “Never once doubted you.”

He rolled his eyes, “Ah, yes,” He said, sarcastically, “that’s what you got out of that - That I was actually listening to you blather on in there. Nothing about-”

And she was kissing him.

A noise of protest went muffled against her lips, more annoyed that she had used this to silence him, but eventually gave in, wrapping his arms around her waist, eyes closing as he pulled her closer to him. He was reminded fiercely of the many times they had done this on Gallifrey, hiding from their responsibilities. Theta had been always been confident and sure in their actions and kissing wasn’t the exception.

He was forced out of his memories when she pulled away from him. She sighed contently, coming closer, leaning her forehead against his own.

“I love you,” She said, “Whoever you are, whatever you do, I will always love you.”

The Master stared at her, unable to say a word, feeling both light and heavy in heart. Like he was forgiven, but the promise of being better was a heavy weight, almost crushing, on his shoulders. He closed his eyes once again, overwhelmed. He opened his mouth, trying to find the words only to fall short.

“Eww.”

They pulled away, blushing, the Doctor looking very much like a kid caught with her hand in a cookie jar. It was amazing how the both of them had missed the sound of Kara’s little feet walking down the hallway.

“You should be in bed.” The Doctor said, not serious enough for someone trying to reprehend a child. Granted, the Master wasn’t the only one unable to resist Kara’s charm.

“It’s morning!” Kara said, confused, “We always get up this early.”

The Master and the Doctor looked at each other, surprised, and even more surprised that both of them weren’t paying any attention to time. Time was funny like that, especially to Time Lords. Time only ever became a problem when they didn’t have enough of it.

The Doctor recovered better than himself, “Breakfast then! Could do with some cereal. Oh, Yaz told me about this cereal with marshmallows in it! Said it was her favorite meal growing up.”

“Pancakes it is.” The Master said dryly, not willing to deal with both a young and old child on a sugar high.

Kara looked confused, but then quickly smiled, “Both.”

Kara turned and walked away without waiting for either of them. The Master looked to the Doctor, dumbfounded, but was honestly not surprised to see her looking proudly at Kara’s retreating figure.

“She’s brilliant, she is,” The Doctor said, looking at him excitedly, “Excellent idea.”

“The both of you are going to be the death of me.”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Hours later, Martha and Mickey surprised the Doctor.

She wasn’t avoiding them! She wasn’t! She was glad to see them. She was always happy to see companions, especially ones who made a name for themselves. She had been proud that Martha walked away – the Doctor had deserved it, after all. Martha had been fantastic – absolutely brilliant and quick on her feet, and the Doctor had only treated her poorly because of her feelings for Rose.

And Mickey? The Doctor had no right to avoid him. In fact, he owed both an apology – a long one, if she was being honest. Selfishly, she wanted to leave that part of her past in the past.

She looked out at the corner of her eye, catching the Master turning another page of his book, Kara nodding along as he explained the different constellations of Earth. The Doctor smiled, watching them, completely distracted by the image in front of her. It was nice, seeing both so calm, happy even, and couldn’t help but continue her work with a smile on her face.

Their time was interrupted when the doors to the TARDIS opened, a frantic Martha Jones running in, along with the rest of her fam and Mickey.

“Hello!” The Doctor called to all of them, completely distracted by the very complicated bit of copper pipping she had in front of her. They couldn’t have picked a worse time to cause a commotion, but the Doctor worked well under pressure.

You,” Martha said, and the Doctor could practically hear her hands on her hips, “should still be resting.”

“Resting?” The Doctor asked, bending the pipe, “No, no resting for me. Things to be done! A TARDIS to fix. Old girl would kill me if I leave it like this any longer.”

“Oh no,” The Master said drily, “Please, come in. No need to knock.”

Kara, the Doctor noticed, was buried into the Master chest, uncomfortable. The Doctor was so used to her being so open to her fam that she had forgotten that strangers would certainly frighten her. She should have realized it sooner.

She really needed to find a new system for Kara. Maybe even a proper therapist. Whatever Kara was keeping inside, she needed someone to talk to.

Distracted by her own train of thought, the copper caps on the pipe were not longer hot enough to fuse, and she ended up reaching for her welding kit in a ridiculous amount of movements. “Ah-ah you little thing,” She muttered to herself, watching as the flames turned blue against the copper, “last time I get distracted. Ridiculously distracted, me. Shock me next time, eh old girl?”

“Your fever was two degrees over your average body temperature last time I checked,” Martha continued, “that was only a couple of hours ago. You really should be in bed.”

“I’m fine!” She called. She was! She felt ten times better already, “Better than fine, really! And – and… Oh.”

She was far too inattentive. She had managed to get one part of the electrical intertwined with the pipe she was working on. Not a big deal, but it was enough to know that she really shouldn’t be doing such delicate work in front of crowd.

“I should give a proper hello.” She said, coming up from under her console, looking at all of them. Her fam had dispersed slightly, no doubt looking at the very messy room with some glowing parts everywhere. Thankfully, none of it was dangerous, but Ryan’s eyes were alight with engineering excitement.

Martha and Mickey stood out in front of them all – they were both tense, awkward, almost invading the space. The Doctor was no expert at social… Things, but it was easy to see that the fam and them had disagreed about something.

The Doctor was stopped from asking when Kara ran out from the Master’s arms and instead to her. The Doctor took it in stride, picking Kara up and slinging her on her hip. She smiled reassuring at her, wondering why she felt so shy in the first place, only to get a glimpse of Martha’s confusion.

The Master had yet to get up from the small corner of the TARDIS. It was strange, given his tendency to want to be center stage of all the commotion. Something had happened when she had been sick then. Or was it simply the history all of them shared? Had something happened to make Kara uncomfortable?

“It’s good to see you two,” The Doctor said to Martha and Mickey, unable to handle the silence for very long, “Really good, actually! Been a long time!”

Martha nodded, looking at Mickey, “Bit more than twelve years.”

The Doctor winced, recognizing Martha’s tone – disappointment. She had nothing to say to that, and she found herself looking towards the Master. He shook his head at her, pretending to read his book.

“Does the TARDIS really need all these parts?” Ryan asked her, thank Rassilon. Ryan eyes were on a hyrdoflux indicator that was currently glowing orange. “Did all this break with the trips we made?”

“Good eye, Ryan,” She said, “Ten points.”

“Oi!” Yaz said, affronted, “I thought we did away with the point system when Graham pointed out that he had the most after making his secret tea.”

“I told you lot,” Graham replied, wagging a finger at them all, “It’s secret tea I learned from a friend of mine. I can’t give the recipe up.”

“You learned it from a friend of yours on one of your bus route,” Ryan said, “It can’t be that secret if they gave it to you.”

“Misses Carter was the smartest person I know, ‘cept you doc!” Graham continued, “Don’t you discredit that woman’s power, son. She may have been eight-two, but she was sharp as a tack.”

The Doctor put Kara down, arms getting tired, only for her to stand behind her, hiding behind her. The Doctor let Kara grab at her hand, squeezing lightly when she felt her nervousness creep through their bond. Whatever had happened when she was passed out revolved around the two people in front of her.

In his boredom, the Master had gotten up from his spot and moved to the console. He hummed inquisitively, distracting the Doctor from commenting on the lovely tea Graham made, and took a look at the near complete Chameleon Circuit. His fingers went to the last wire.

“Don’t-!” The Doctor warned him, but it was too late.

The TARDIS responded instantly. She laughed at him, going by the strange creaking she was doing with her pipes, and the Doctor quickly heard the sound of her breaks. Trying to stop what inevitably was going to happen, the Doctor rushed to the console, glaring at the screens, knowing what date the old girl wanted.

Everyone lost their balance for a moment when the TARDIS stuttered in her lift off, including the Doctor herself, but the jolt wasn’t enough to send them crashing. Everyone seemed alarmed, but no one seemed surprised. In fact, Martha looked the least bit shocked by everything that was happening.

“You rude, old, sneaky…” The Doctor muttered, crossing her arms, “Should be ashamed of yourself, you sexy thing.”

The Master sighed, turning off the gyro sphere as he glared at the smoking console. At the moment, the Doctor felt the same way. At least he didn’t seem angry by the sudden take-off. He seemed rather happy for someone that started the TARDIS’s ridiculous little temper tantrum. Honestly, the Doctor would have fixed her favorite (or least favorite) circuit eventually!

Kara released her tight hold on the Doctor’s hand, “Are we going on an adventure?”

“Oh God,” Mickey said, “Don’t tell me it’s space. Anything but space.”

“You’re in luck then, Mickey.” The Doctor replied, smiling at Kara, “1963 UK - Peaceful times! Actually, it was known as the Swinging Sixties! Economy has just picked up, people are happy and celebrating - And, it’s home to the TARDIS’s favorite inspiration.”

The TARDIS buzzed under hands, making Kara giggle. Well, the Doctor couldn’t stay angry at that, could she?

“Is she a police box again?” Kara asked, “I think the TARDIS really missed being a police box.”

The Doctor sighed, “Yes, the obnoxious girl I dare say is a police box again. Though…” She looked at the screens, frustrated when she realized the TARDIS had blown a fuse in her attempt to escape, “gonna need another extra day of repairs.”

The TARDIS said nothing to that. Figures.

The Doctor looked at Martha and Mickey, “Fancy another trip?”

Martha rolled her shoulders, looking at Mickey who shrugged, “Yeah, can’t see why not.”

“Oh goodie,” The Master muttered, just loud enough for the Doctor to hear, “More humans.”

Then, with that, the TARDIS let out a whole slew of mental feelings, ranging from indignant to downright mad. Familiar with this pattern after destroying her console one too many times after regenerating, the Doctor waited as the TARIDS eventually – sort of – settled. She was just about ready to announce it when…

Bing!

The smoking Chamelon Circuit popped out with a force that made absolutely no sense – or maybe it did, seeing as she had done many of the repairs with a fever. Given that the Master was still standing in front of its usual resting spot, the still sizzling circuit flew at him, very nearly hitting his face. Luckily, the Master had enough sense to catch it with one hand, totally unamused.

“Nice catch!” The Doctor complimented along with Kara’s clapping, both of them truly amazed, even as the Master ended up dropping the smoke tech to the ground. He shook his hand, obviously slightly burned, and glared at her console.

“Type 40 TARDISs,” He told the Doctor bitterly, “Why you couldn’t steal something with a bit more grace-”

The TARDIS zapped him unapologetically, much to the Doctor and her companion’s (mostly hidden) amusement. The Master found himself once again shaking his hand, unamused as he glared at the console. “I’m going to dismantle her cameras.” The Master said, though it spoke volumes of his fear that he said it only to her.

The Doctor rolled her eyes. She supposed some things would never change.

“Right!” She said, excited, glad that her ‘sickness’ was completely forgotten in the commotion, “Wardrobe then! Off you lot pop!”

They went without protest, Yaz looking particularly excited. She said something about reading about it in school, to which Martha agreed, and then their voices faded away.

Finally, it was just her, the Master, and Kara. She raised an eyebrow at the Master, gesturing to the now charred Chameleon Circuit, who shrugged with an uncaring smirk as he placed it on the TARDIS console.

“Peaceful silence.” The Master said, happy to pick up Kara, who went back to her usual giggling self. Interesting, it must have been something Martha and Mickey had done then.

And then, he mentioned something about changing as well, and the Doctor’s short dream of a simple day trip died.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxX

“No.”

It was the first time in a long time that the Master had ever heard such a plain-spoken ‘not-drawn-out-with-a-morally-ambiguous-speech’ denial from her. She was already walking away from him, heading towards her washroom suite, hairbrush in hand, dismissing him.

“No?” He asked, stupefied at her blatant disregard, “You can’t go like that.”

The Doctor paused, looking down at her outfit, covered in grease and oil and various small holes from soldering without the proper safety equipment. Honestly, she was going to get herself lit on fire if she wasn’t more careful.

“I like this outfit.” The Doctor said, going back to drawers, looking at something. She was staring at a picture of a smiling woman with perfect curls. He had heard about her – River Song – mostly in passing, but he knew from the wistful look in the Doctor’s eyes that she was gone. He shook himself – now wasn’t the time for that can of worms.

“I can tell you like it, love,” He continued, trying so hard not to judge the mess of rainbows and suspenders she called an outfit, “But this is the middle of the 20th century – humans will notice you. And I believe you’re the one that said you didn’t want to draw attention to yourself when we were out with Kara.”

She said nothing. The Master felt his frustrations with her grow, “Don’t force me to threaten Jones.”

She again stopped what she was doing, taking the time to look reprimanding, “Don’t make threats like that. I can’t tell if you’re serious or not.”

 “It’s a dress,” He said, exasperated, “You already know why you can’t go like that. You were the one that expressed interest in blending in the first place!”

“My usual outfit will fit in with this centuries’ colours, anyhow,” The Doctor said, once again turning away from him, “Besides, I never had to change before. I’m fine.”

Oh. He knew her well enough to know that whenever those words came out of her mouth, there was something raging much deeper within her. Something about wearing a dress, or wearing a different outfit, was bothering her more than she was willing to admit.

“Trousers, then,” He placated, watching her reaction closely, “You can even keep that shirt. The colours actually go well for this time period.”

“No, thank you.”

“Are we going to continue this,” He asked, not exactly having the patience to do this after the very long days they had, “Or are you going to tell me the real reason you don’t want to change?”

He would have never noticed it if he wasn’t already looking – or maybe he only noticed because he knew her for so long. Each regeneration of hers had secrets – secrets even he could begin to imagine – but none of her past regenerations had the ability to hide them so well. Smiles and manic excitement could go far in convincing the humans that she was fine, but it wouldn’t convince him.

“I can’t,” She said, trying to make the words strong but failing, “Not after…” She waved her hands vaguely over herself.

The Master felt like he couldn’t breathe – the thought of them touching her like that, “Did they-”

“No,” The Doctor said quickly, “’Course not. Needed me pure or something.”

He swallowed. Missy was many things, a woman being the forefront of her, but no one had dared to touch her. If they even got the hint, they were gone before Missy could hear their pleas. Being a woman had never made other people view him different. He supposed a murderer was a murderer.

Still, he didn’t realize how painful womanhood had been for the Doctor so far. Gallifrey, as arrogant as they were, simply never had the sexism of other planets. With bodies that could regenerate throughout their lives, their physical representation never mattered. 

“No dresses.” The Doctor repeated, “I just want to be me for a while, yeah?”

The Master again tried to understand that. She had always been the Doctor, no matter what form. What could a dress change? Either way, if being in her favorite outfit made her feel better, who was he to stop her?

One day, he would show her how amazing it could be a woman – even with these idiotic, sexist views these humans had.

“Alright,” He agreed, then thought about it, “At least let go of the coat. It’ll be warm.”

And with that, he walked past her nonchalantly, trying his best to imagine that it was just another conversation and not something he should be concerned about.

Letting it go was worth her relieved smile.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

“They look funny.”

The Master had tried to shush Kara gently, especially when they got offended looks, but it was the Doctor laughs that had him giving up trying to stop Kara. Even so, the Doctor squeezed Kara’s hand gently to remind her once again not to point. The Doctor had to admit the bright outfits, as well as the style, wasn’t exactly the most flattering clothes she had seen. Granted, she loved the vibrant colors people showed off.

“So,” Mickey said, hand-in-hand with Martha. The Doctor would have to get used to that, “There’s really no mysterious alien thingy we have to worry about? No dangerous criminal or nothin’?”

“Nope!” The Doctor said cheerfully, “Nothing of the that sort. Just a regular day. The TARDIS wants a break from the action – and deserves one too!”

Even the Doctor had to admit, she had missed her blue TARDIS. She was stunning now, as usual, with a fresh paint job. It was relieving to see that she chose to leave it the same since before… Everything. She wasn’t ready for another change in her life.

Kara was just as happy to see the TARDIS back to her usual self.

Yaz and Ryan had already disappeared into the shops. Yaz had said something about getting a colourful scarf for her sister and Ryan had been dragged along without having the time to protest. Graham was off getting food for all of them while the Master, Kara, and herself, along with Mickey and Martha, were waiting for them on the rough grass of an open field.

The Master had been right – the spring temperature would have fried her if she was wearing her coat.

“So, Kara,” Martha asked, and the Doctor felt herself tense, “Have you been to lots of places with your mum?”

Even if it was an innocent question, and one truly not meant of malicious, the Doctor couldn’t help but feel guarded. It was only exasperated when Kara looked shyly away, saying quietly that it was the first time she has been anywhere.

“Been a bit of nonstop running,” The Doctor told Martha, trying to sound cheerfully, “After the TARDIS is fixed, we’ll take a visit to some new friends, Lilly and Alexios.”

“Really?” Kara asked her, eyes going wide, “I thought you forgot!”

The Doctor winced, thinking of the many promises to Kara that she seemed to be forgetting. This wasn’t exactly how she envisioned their first trip in the TARDIS to go, nor was it what she promised Kara, but at least they were safe.

“I may be old,” The Doctor told Kara, winking, “But I wouldn’t forget a promise. As soon as the TARDIS is willing and able, we’ll be off to visit them.”

If.” The Master said to her, “If-Not when. That TARDIS has more disruptive personality traits than you.”

The Doctor looked to the Master and gave him a little glare, “I wonder who that reminds me of.”

He didn’t look nearly as offended as she thought he was going to be. Instead, a smirk found its way to his face. At least he didn’t say anything after that.

“And where will you go after that?” Martha asked.

The Doctor couldn’t help but be surprised by the question. She wasn’t really one to plan out the future – honestly, most of the time, the future found her in ways she could never expect. Martha knew that – she must have from the way they traveled together.

“Yeah,” Mickey continued, “ya know, with Kara and all?”

What did having a child have to do with the way she lived her life? Perhaps this was a part of being human that the Doctor had yet to see. In Gallifrey, having a child was something to worship and enjoy. Besides school, children were encouraged to walk among their elders and learn. Sure, her and Koschei had avoided that responsibility, but she would have done anything to be beside another Time Lord and travel with them.

Why were thoughts of Gallifrey not far behind when she thought of Kara?

“I-”

“There you lot are!” Graham’s voice called, and the Doctor felt just a bit too much relief to be justified.

“We looked everywhere for you,” Yaz complained, “You picked the middle of nowhere in this park.”

The Doctor looked around, head spinning, realizing that they did pick a rather secluded area. Sure, she could still see some people far off, but the large oak tree they had found protected them from prying eyes. She wondered when they had become prying eyes instead of just eyes.

She wondered when the idea of a large crowd made her skin crawl.

Graham was trying to hand her a cup of something steaming hot. She watched in a numb state as her arm moved to grab it, her hands wrapping around the warmth. A small “thank you” left her lips and she knew for the looks around her that it didn’t hold enough energy than it normally did. Still, she found she couldn’t care.

She didn’t dare bring the liquid to her lips. Instead, she placed it on the grass carefully, using all her energy to stop the shaking in her hands. Still, the drink nearly spilled. Why were her hands shaking?

Kara, the Doctor saw, was happy to take the offered drink, thanking Graham as it was revealed to be hot chocolate with many marshmallows. It was safe. It was Kara’s favorite drink. They were safe.

Why did she feel like she had to run? Maybe she was sicker than she thought. That had to be it. She had never experienced a fever before, never even known sickness outside of regeneration, maybe this was part of the healing process.

“I think I’m going to head back to the TARDIS,” The Doctor said, her voice miles away, “Feeling a bit peckish.”

“I knew you still had a fever.” Martha said, but the Doctor barely heard her. “Want one of us to walk you back?”

What did she ask? The Doctor couldn’t seem to remember. Someone’s hand went to her own, and she nearly jumped out of her skin.

Koschei.

He was tapping away lightly on her mental walls, reassuring and warm as her mind raged. Unwilling to let him see what was wrong, not wanting to worry him, she pulled away from him quickly and jumped to her feet – nearly falling in her haste.

“I’m fine!” She reassured to group, trying to mean the words, “Just tired. Came suddenly is all.”

The words tasted like ash.

“We’ll all go back, then,” Yaz offered, “No reason to stay without you.”

The Doctor nodded, even though she knew that she should have fought harder for them to stay and have a good time. She took Kara’s hand as offered, but we even more surprised when Koschei slipped his hand in hers, squeezing lightly.

The Doctor couldn’t look at him – she was thankful all the same that he was here.

She made her way through the nearly empty park, barely paying attention as the Master guided them. Her fam talked lightly behind them, sociable, discussing the fashion here – Graham saying how his life was as a young man in this time. The buzz of conversation helped calm her.

Then, Kara tripped.

It was nothing – a small rock in the sidewalk that didn’t even phase Kara. Still, the Doctor felt her heart skip a beat when Kara’s hand left her own, trying to keep her balance. Kara laughed lightly at her own clumsiness.

In her rush to have Kara closer, the Doctor’s shoulder bumped into a random human walking by – a young man – and both were forced to stop. The Doctor’s eyes went wide as the two regarded each other. The Doctor put Kara behind her on instinct and was thankful when Kara latched onto her leg.

“You’re not going to apologize?” The man said to her, anger building in his eyes at her silence. He then looked to Koschei, “And honestly, walking hand and hand with the likes of him?”

Likes of… Likes of him? The Doctor hadn’t even considered the Master skin color in an era like this.

A crowd was gathering. Why couldn’t she breathe.

The man’s hand went to grab the Doctor’s upper arm. Except, when his hand made contact, claws racked down her skin, feeling her with dread. She was going to be dragged to that room again, teased and tortured by Talsar, her pride stripped away and Kara -

The Doctor used her free hand to push on the Rarfre’s chest, sending him flying to the ground. The flash of fantasy was gone the moment her hand made contact with the smooth cotton of a shirt rather than hard scales, almost like a punch to the face. Her surroundings swirled around her and she felt breathless.

A cry of pain left the human’s lips before he was caught by another person behind him. If…if that person wasn’t there…The man could have fallen with enough force to hit his head, killing him. Even with that, she knew he hit him hard enough to at the very least bruise ribs. Had she felt one break?

She had almost killed an innocent person.

“I’m sorry,” She said, the words just barely her own, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

“Move!” The Master roared to the crowed, an arm slinging around her middle, even as the Doctor picked up a scared Kara, “Get out of the way!”

Martha and Yaz were already in front, pushing passed people to get to her police box – Her TARDIS. She looked to Koschei, hearts beating wildly, finding only worry in his eyes.

“It’s okay, love,” He said to her, just pushing on the TARDIS’s doors, “You’re safe.”

No, she thought. The face of that human, crying out in soundless pain, would haunt her more than she was willing to think of. What had she done?

The Doctor blinked as her eyes landed on the TARDIS’s pillars – a deep blue, swirling with pulsing orange. Her TARDIS was just as uneasy as her. She let Kara down, her arms shaking, and watched as the room sway more as her adrenaline died down.

The eyes of her worried companions had her biting her tongue, fighting the feeling.

“I…” her eyes again found Koschei’s… Her oldest friend – the one she could trust completely. Even he was wide eyed at what had occurred, but still he stood close to her, supporting her.

The energy snapped out of her.

Kara’s gasp was the last thing she heard.

Chapter Text

The Master really thought he wanted this at one point in his life.

He wanted the Doctor on his level – He wanted her to realize that she could hurt people just as much as he could. Wanted the famous Doctor, who could bring hope to millions with her mere presence, fall just as hard and fast as he did.

But watching her push that human? Watching as her eyes filled with horror at her actions, listening to her apologize as she tried to justify what she had done? Seeing her collapse boneless against him as she finally made it to the safety of her TARDIS?

Watching her fall was nothing like he ever expected… And he never wanted to see it again.

He knew what she was going through – the anxiety and stress of coming out of a terrible situation alive and whole, but mentally stuck in the same prison. He’d been in that loop before – of self-doubt and endless feelings of helplessness as drums bagged loudly in his mind.

He never dreamed it would happen to her – her, who was full of perfect smiles and unending energy. The Doctor, who looked monsters in the eyes and gave them second chances upon second chances.

Who had been forced into a horrid situation and found a daughter.

Kara had taken everything fairly well, which was only more worrying. The child had already been through too much – had seen so much evil in the world that it was surprising she had enough kindness in her to still smile.

The Master would really like one day where the Doctor didn’t collapse out of either a physical injury or exhaustion – just one.

Which is why he was taking the humans back to Earth.

“If you think I’ll let the Doctor out of my sight with just you to take care of her-”

The Master’s hand twitched, thinking of hypnotizing Martha Jones to walk out the TARDIS doors, straight out into the Time Vortex. How the human was still alive amazed even himself.

“What the Doctor needs,” The Master repeated tone hard, interrupting whatever tirade was making its way out of Martha’s mouth, “is rest. Having pets around – annoying pets that she has to worry about – won’t help her.”

“Bit harsh,” Graham said, “But gotta admit that having company isn’t exactly something you want after what the doc’s been through.”

Ten points to Graham, the Doctor’s excited voice whispered to him.

“Do you even know how to take care of someone after a panic attack?” Martha continued, completing ignoring ‘the fam’s’ acceptance, “I can’t imagine your presence will calm her down.”

He would not kill her. He would not hurt her. He would not hypnotize her. He would not threaten her husband. He would not cause her any harm. The Doctor’s rules, the ones oh so carefully outlined in that vault, were really putting him to the test.

“Oh, and you do?” Yaz asked Martha, (he was so bitter that he was starting to remember their names), “You’ll just waltz in there and make everything better?”

Great – now they were fighting amongst themselves. Maybe a little chaos between the group would make them leave faster. If anything, at least he didn’t have to talk to them anymore. A smirk made its way to his face, and he leaned against the pillars to watch the fireworks.

“Hey,” Mickey yelled, looking at Yaz, “Martha at least has training! What have you been doing?”

“Nothing!” Yaz yelled, and the Master caught a glimpse of Ryan whispering “cat fight” to Graham, who looked ready to physically break it up.

“I don’t know anything about taking care of someone who’s just been through hell and back and is thousands of years old than me! I’d argue the only one who has a shot at it is the Master!”

Martha opened her mouth, but Yaz wasn’t done.

“And what right do you have to walk in there making demands and orders? Everyone can tell it’s strained between you and the Doctor, not to mention Mickey hates her for stealing his friend. Can’t imagine that’s stress free.”

The Master had no idea who this friend was, but it didn’t matter. It was stunning to see the young girl go lose on another head strong moron. He knew that Yaz was the definition of firecracker, but this was something else entirely.

Hearing another person defend the Doctor with no ulterior motives was a breath of fresh air. Maybe this was why the Doctor called them her friends.

“Alright,” Graham said, tone hard, “That’s enough. No need to fight amongst ourselves, yeah? Besides, a few days – weeks, even – away from the TARDIS might give us a little perspective… Or, at the very least, a good six hours of sleep.”

The Master rolled his eyes, bored of the conversation. He pulled the parking break, silently lifting off, nodding in thanks when the TARDIS allowed him to steer her manually. He wasn’t in the mood for another one of her games. He wasn’t in the mood to fix another part of hers – he’d only just got her stable enough for two or three trips. Thankfully, the TARDIS landed on Earth five minutes after they had all barged in.

Martha had continued with her speech, exhausting him and the rest of them, and at that point he found no point in staying. He made his way out of the room without so much as saying goodbye, walking through the TARDIS’s many hallways with one thought in mind:

Sleep.

Sleep and him had never been friends, but the idea of it now was especially alluring. When was the last time he had decent amount of sleep? When was it that he went on that bank heist? Two – three weeks ago? He couldn’t remember.

He arrived not at his own door, or at Kara’s door, but the Doctor’s. He stared at the Gallifreyan words etched onto the frame – almost illiterate what with her odd way of connecting vowels, but still familiar to her first life… Theta’s life.

He considered turning back, going to his own bedroom, but it was with thoughts of the first time sleeping together in these regenerations that had him quietly opening the door, shuffling off his shoes and jacket and tossing them on the thing she called a chair.

He eyed her as he drew closer to the bed, not surprised to see that she was in a deep sleep. She looked pale – large, dark circles under her eyes – but with her snuggled underneath the very fluffy duvet, she at least looked peaceful. He was jealous.

He slipped under the bedding, watching carefully as she shuffled to accommodate him, muttering something indecipherable. He didn’t bother to hide his amused smile as he laid his head down next to her, only inches apart.

She hummed, always a light sleeper, and moved her hand, fingers lightly dancing down his arm as she linked their hands together – squeezing just once – then letting go completely, falling back asleep with a small puff of air that tickled his forehead.

It felt like peace.

He stared at her just one more time, hands twitching to push away the hair falling onto her face. Never one to not indulged himself, he lifted his hand slowly, fingertips just brushing her skin as he pushed the hair behind her ears. He lingered on her cheek, intending to pull away, but found himself cupping her face instinctively.

She hummed again. “Go to sleep,” She told him, whispering the words, “Exhausted.”

He didn’t know if she meant she was exhausted or if she was telling him that he was exhausted, but either way, he found himself agreeing.

He lifted his hand away, turning over to his side, facing away from her, eyes closing as he found just the right position. He sighed, only to freeze as the Doctor moved closer to him. Like before, fingers went across his arm, rubbing gently, and finally around his middle.

He tensed, not use to being the on cuddled - not used to the Doctor being the one to do so. He had other partners, but it was never this…intimate. Never this meaningful. This felt comforting. And…Nice, even as her breath tickled his neck.

He relaxed, eyes closing, mind finally quiet as he fell into a blissful sleep.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor woke to someone poking her on her shoulder.

One eye opened, the other one stayed stubbornly lodged against her pillow. Kara swam into view, wide awaking and smiling, pointing at something behind her. Oh. That was a very mischievous smile to have for a nine-year-old. The Doctor rolled on her side, fearing the worst, only…

Were those… Pillows? Roughly three of Kara’s pillows were stacked on top of the Master’s forehead, the edge of them just touching his eyes, who was sleeping with his mouth slightly open and dead to the universe. The Doctor’s mouth turned into a smile at the hilarious picture, and she found herself winking at Kara, putting a finger to her lips.

She slowly and carefully took the pillow from underneath her own head. She handed it to Kara, who was just able to hold in her giggles. The Doctor watched as Kara tipped toed around their bed, easily avoiding the mess around her, and slowly placed another pillow on Koschei’s head.

He moved, twitching, causing both the Doctor and Kara to hold their breathes. Just when the Doctor thought the game was up, Koschei settled back down, going still.

Kara looked towards her, giving two enthusiastic thumbs up. The Doctor returned them mouthing “good job!” Four pillows – two more left readily available. Knowing that the stack was too high for Kara to reach from the ground, the Doctor lifted herself up carefully, trying not the move the duvet as she shifted her body weight.

“The next one,” The Master said, voice low and deep, eyes still closed, “To place a pillow on my head will face consequences.”

The Doctor’s mouth fell open – how in the world did he fake being asleep that well? She could feel how calm he felt! There was no way he was awake!

Kara was gone in an instant – she threw herself down to the ground, crawling underneath the bed to hide. Rather brilliant, if the Doctor did say so herself, but in doing so she left the Doctor with no choice. Without remorse, the Doctor placed the pillow on his head, watching as it barely moved.

Six pillows! Absolutely brilliant!

And then, there were none.

Still, she wasn’t an idiot. She leapt from the bed just as she placed it on him, nearly cackling as she too threw herself to the ground, rolling at least four times before carefully placing herself under the bed, her back on the hard ground, waving at Kara.

“This is my hiding spot!” Kara said, pushing on the Doctor’s shoulders with all her strength, “No fair!”

“It’s no one’s hiding spot!” The Master declared. The Doctor tried to twist her head to view his feet, only for a hand to wrap around her ankle, sliding her out from underneath the bed. She screamed, but it quickly turned into a loud laugh. When she was finally out from under the bed, the Master let go of her ankle and stepped to the side, looking down at her.

She was greeted with an annoyed (liar) friend, arms crossed as he raised an eyebrow at her. She smiled wide at him, waving from the ground energetically, distracting him as Kara slowly made her way out from under the bed.

“You’ve got to admit,” The Doctor said, settling down, “That was funny.”

The Master’s lips twitched, “Only because I’ve won.” he replied, offering his hand. The Doctor took it, bouncing up from the floor, proud that she caught sight of Kara just sneaking out pasted the door of her bedroom.

“Won?” The Doctor asked, a teasing lit to her voice, “Are you sure? You seem to be missing someone.”

 The Master looked at her, confused, and then quickly to realization. “Kara!” He yelled.

A happy scream of a child’s delight greeted her ears, then, quickly, to running feet. The Master was off like a light, nearly pushing the Doctor’s laughing form, and out the door, following Kara’s footsteps.

The Doctor continued to smile to herself, listening as Kara’s gleeful screams were interrupted with Master’s own teasing voice. She grabbed at a pair of clean clothes, dark thoughts of yesterday the last thing on her mind. Instead, it was only of Kara’s wide smile and the Master’s laughter.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

“Where’s the fam?” She asked, realizing a little too late that she really should know.

“Back on Earth,” The Master answered, looking undisturbed, “Perfectly safe, I promise.”

She nodded, glancing at him, but from what she could tell, he actually meant safe. She wondered if the fam, along with Martha and Mickey, had asked to be brought back home, or if it was by the Master’s demand. Going by his relaxed state, the Doctor guessed the latter.

“But I didn’t get to say goodbye.” Kara said, genuinely sad that she didn’t have the opportunity. She had forgotten how instrumental the fam had become to Kara – whether it was Graham’s hot chocolate, Yaz’s kind smile, or Ryan’s presence alone, Kara had found family in them.

“Don’t worry,” The Doctor said, “We’ll pop right back to them next chance we get.”

Kara nodded at that, content, and went back to her breakfast. The TARDIS had supplied them with various fruits, much to the Doctor’s disappointment, but it was the Master’s dry remark about still being sick that had her swallowing down strawberries.

At least they were Kara’s favorite – a new little fact about her that the Doctor learned. All the traits she learned about her always delighted the Doctor and she could practically feel herself file each little detail about Kara away, ready for use at a moment’s notice.

She wondered if the Master did the same thing.

“Koschei?” Kara asked suddenly, and the Master hummed as he got distracted from his book.

“Do you have another name?” Kara asked, “Like the Doctor?”

Both of them froze. It wasn’t often that they were caught off guard, but Kara’s question had them both panicking for a moment. The Doctor looked at him, giving a little shrug, letting him handle this particular situation. After all, it was his title.

“Well,” He said, voice gentle, “I…” He shook himself, “A long time ago, I picked a name that made feel…”

He floundered. It was almost hilarious to watch, seeing the ever-ready Master fumble with words. Lying and storytelling had always come easy to him after the war – saying how he felt, with harsh words and angry tones, was as simple as breathing to him. But being truthful? Trying to be as gentle as he could be when it mattered the most?

The Doctor didn’t have a right to find him trying to be a parent to Kara funny.

“When you chose your title,” The Doctor said, also gentle, watching carefully as Kara focused entirely on her, “It’s one of the most important honors. It represents who you are, what you plan to do, who you love –”

“Like calling you my mom!” Kara said, and the Doctor smiled.

“Exactly.” She replied, proud that she was understanding, “being the Doctor, for me, meant, well, learning about everything. I wanted to know everything about every planet – about the whole universe.”

“So are you the Professor?” Kara asked Koschei, “Because you like so many books? Or- or the Trickster, because you’re really good at tricking me. Like when you’re told me one more story, but it’s instead a really boring book about plants.”

The Master was smiling, but there was something stirring behind his eyes, “I’m afraid not, little one.”

Kara stuck out her tongue in concentration, and the Doctor laughed, “It’s not polite to guess.” The Doctor replied.

“Oh.” Kara said, disappointed, “Then can you tell me?”

Koschei sighed, “A long time ago, I felt like I didn’t have control over my life.” He looked towards her, and the Doctor could only hope to muster an encouraging smile, “I didn’t think anything was going my way. I wanted normalcy. I wanted… I wanted to be The Master of my own choices.”

Kara looked confused, “So…You’re…”

“The Master,” Koschei answered, voice soft. “Yes.”

Kara looked down for a moment, then to the Doctor. She didn’t seem upset.

“I’m sorry,” Kara said, “It’s not as cool as The Doctor.”

The Master mouth fell open. At that, the Doctor lost it, Kara’s words only just processing. It was nothing like she expected – nothing like the tears and the confusion. Instead, she found herself clutching at her own sides, howling, losing it as the Master openly glared at her.

“Oh god,” The Doctor said to him, high-fiving Kara, who looked proud of herself, “That – that was good. I needed that.”

“Are you finished?” The Master asked, and the Doctor just managed not to lose it again. Opting not to continue her laughs, she nodded at him, nearly biting through her tongue. She was reminded of the time Koschei had fallen in the lake by his home. He had looked like a drowned cat, just as unamused at her as he was now.

“Alright, sorry,” The Doctor said, regaining her composure, “I know Koschei’s name might be hard, yeah?”

Kara nodded, “I didn’t like calling Talsar that.”

The joyful mood died as the Master and the Doctor thought of darker times.

“You don’t have to, Kara.” he replied, “Koschei is fine. Anything you want to call me.”

It hit her then how different her life had become. All of it had started with that dreadful day at that marketplace. It had led to so many changes in her life, some absolutely horrible, others more wonderful than she could ever imagine.

It led to finding the Master again – it led to being a family again. Kara had changed the Master for the better. She let him finally find that part of himself that the Doctor always knew he had. Kara had saved him in more ways than one, just as she had done for the Doctor.

Kara bit her lip.

“What about dad?”

Going by the tears in his eyes, Koschei did not have any qualms about being Kara’s father.

And neither did the Doctor.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor owed this to Kara.

Their lives had been busy – beyond easy going and normal, beyond horrible and wonderful. It had been nothing like Kara deserved. Freedom after those prison cells had been dreams of flying in the TARDIS with Kara, showing her the beauty and love the universe had to offer.

It didn’t include more death and fears coming to life – it wasn’t supposed to have Kara’s family dead, or Talsar wrecking more havoc on their lives.

It didn’t have the Master, either, but the Doctor was the last one to complain about that development.

She leaned against the console, a lever poking into her stomach. This was going to hurt, no matter what she did to lessen the pain, but it would be worth it for Kara’s sake. She entered the coordinates, the TARDIS’s breaks, for once, silent. She didn’t want Koschei’s help with this, nor did she want Kara knowing what she was doing.

She grabbed the spade from the ground, the metal scratching against the floor, and walked with large steps towards the door, pushing them open forcibly, smoke and debris hitting her full force.

The first time she had smelled the air of a destroyed home, she didn’t have time to reflect on it. Now, the ash was heavy in her lungs, suffocating. She pushed through, one breath at a time – one step at a time, eyes eventually landing on what was still smoldering remains.

Kara’s home was truly gone – nothing remained intact.

The Doctor stared at it for far too long, the flames creating spots in her vision. The spade in her hand felt heavier than before. She nodded to herself, rolling her shoulders, and stepped into the chaos, over burnt floorboards and walls that no longer provided comfort.

She wouldn’t find bodies. The fire was too hot – the destruction too much.

Nodding to herself, she stepped away, heading towards the fields. Kara had never said that her family were farmers, but there was no doubt that they were – whether it was by looking at the long grounds or the Doctor’s own knowledge of this raid on Kara’s home.

She chose a spot under a large oak tree. The ground was flat and moist, mostly shaded. Though she didn’t know Kara’s parents, she knew they were good people by the girl they had raised.

They deserved a grave.

Kara deserved a place to grieve for them, even if she was too young now.

So, with the sun high in the sky, and the heat nearly stifling, she plunged the blade into the ground and dug.  

It took hours. It was dusk, nearly nightfall, with the heat completely gone and the cold front coming in. She was shivering, the sweat from before not helping in the slightest, and her hands were red with blisters no doubt forming, but Kara parents could finally rest in peace.

A hole in the ground with a small urn filled with nothing wasn’t enough.

She looked around, spotting a rounded rock – it was perfect. She grabbed it from the ground, yanking it roughly from the dirt, and stared at the rounded edges, wondering what words would do this family justice.

Their names came easy – just peaked into Kara’s mind long enough to know her parent’s name were Sara and Thomas Traver and she carefully used her sonic to carve their names neatly next to each other. She hesitated once more, thinking of Kara’s smile, and the hope she still had.

She thought of the little girl in that cell, playing games.

She thought of the walls that contained her – of the writing that had become her mantra.

Ad Meliora.

Towards better things.

The Doctor placed the rock down, being as gentle as she could. She stared at the fresh dirt and the stone for well into the night, the moon casting shadows on old lives that she vowed never to forget.

“Thank you.” She said, voice hoarse. “I’ll do everything in my power to keep her safe – to give her the life she deserves.”

Through the soft wind and the silence, the Doctor knew that Sara and Thomas heard her.

XxXxXxXxXxXx

When the Doctor arrived back to the TARDIS, something was amiss.

With tear tracks still on her face, she froze as the TARDIS she knew from hours ago – just a tad broken – now resembled her newly decorated self. She shone brightly, the damaged lights fixed to perfection, and the TARDIS greeted the Doctor with as much excitement as she did the first day she stole her.

In the middle of the beautiful light display, leaning against the console with a familiarity that filled her with joy, was her partner.

“Hello, dear,” He said, “Did a bit of tidying up.”

She smiled, wiping at her face, trying to find the energy she wanted so badly – Koschei deserved the world for doing this for her. She walked – stumbled really – over to him, throwing her arms around his shoulders before he had the chance to protest.

“Thank you.” She whispered in his neck, filled to the brim with an emotion she couldn’t quite name.

He hummed, his chin going to her shoulder, “I’m afraid it comes at a cost.”

She pulled away from him, looking closely at his face – looking for that old madness, “What?”

Mischievous eyes, just like Kara, greeted him, “Kara may have gotten a few flying lessons without you. And, Doctor, I’m sorry to say, she’s much better than you.”

She laughed, concern rolling off of her. She imagined the two of them together, with Kara’s tongue sticking out of her mouth as she concentrated – Koschei’s own stern teachings making Kara even more determined, “I’m sure she loved every moment.”

“Missed you, of course,” He replied, as if the Doctor was concerned about that, “had to tell her you needed your rest.”

The Doctor nodded, just a bit guilty, “You saw where I went.”

“Hard not too. Honestly, love, leaving the coordinates up? You've gotten lazy.”

She smiled again, glad that he was making light of it – she couldn’t handle anymore sadness. Still, she felt like she owed him an explanation. “She deserved somewhere to go when she’s older. Her parents deserved a grave at the very least.”

He nodded, eyes going serious, “She’ll appreciate it. Both of you needed it. Besides, this only took three days.”

“I don’t know how to thank you.”

“You’ve had enough hard days,” He said, hand going to her shoulder, trying to be comforting, “I’ve done enough to you that you shouldn’t thank me.”

“No,” She said, shaking her head, “That’s not how this works. Your past-”

“I’m not proud of it,” He said, “and I would rather not discuss what I’ve done… Not now, at least. What’s important is being there for Kara. Let me do that – Let me be the father she deserves.”

“Okay,” She whispered, “Of course, Koschei. You’ve earned your right to do that.”

There were tears in his eyes, but she didn’t dare comment on it. Instead, she put her hand to caress his face, smiling gently at him, and kissed the side of his face. He shivered underneath her hand, eyes flickering closed as she pulled away.  

“I love you,” She said, “you don’t owe me a… A fixed TARDIS to prove your worth. I don’t want that – I don’t want you to feel like you have to earn your way into our lives.”

“Don’t I?” He asked her, vulnerable in way she hadn’t seen since they were children, “The things I’ve done, the mistakes I made… I’ve hurt you and-”

“Your past mistakes are meant to guide you,” She interrupted, “not define you.”

One of Bill’s many, many quotes. Bill had always had questions – showed them in the way she smiled and laughed. She was brilliant, and wonderful, and sometimes filled with more wisdom than the Doctor gave her credit for. Bill had been one of the Master’s mistakes… She had a funny feeling that fantastic, kind Bill would look at her oldest friend and finally see her ‘man-crush.’

“Kara’s asleep and will be for a while,” The Master said, and the Doctor felt her head spin at the topic change, “and I’ve been awake far too long – think I’ll get some sleep.”

She nodded, understanding his need for distance. “Think I’ll do the same.”

She led the way without a word, the TARDIS guiding them both as they made their way through the long corridor. She wanted the Master to join her, but she didn’t hesitate in her stride when he pulled away to go to his own bedroom.

“I’ll…” The Master cleared his throat, “I’ll be there in a moment.”

“‘Course,” She replied, casual as she could. They both turned away, and it struck her that this would be the first night as normal – as the three of them, as family, on her home. And the morning would be the same.

The worst was over. The Doctor had the rest of her life to look forward to.

She opened her door with a small kick, smiling brightly. She got ready for bed as slow as she could, trying to give Koschei the time he needed to gather himself. She checked on Kara briefly, happy to find that her dreams were peaceful – Koschei had been right, the flying lesson had tired her out.

Just as the Doctor had picked out a book to read and snuggled into her bed, the door opened. Koschei, even in sleepwear, looked put together. She really did love this regeneration of him – it was the eyes that did it.

He couldn’t hide anything with those eyes, not from her.

They had been sleeping together enough to have a system. He made his way under the covers, looking exhausted. Without a word, the Doctor moved herself to lean against his side, happy to be physically close.

He sighed, eyes closing almost immediately. Without thinking, the Doctor moved to play with his hair. He tensed, but quickly fell into it, whole body relaxing.

“Feels nice,” He said, voice thick with sleep.

She smirked. He had always liked this, “Go to sleep.”

It didn’t take long. Only five minutes into pushing his hair back and forth, and his soft snores filled the room. She took her hand away, giving up the pretense of reading her book, and stared.

Dark circles were under his eyes, but they weren’t as prominent in his sleep. Instead, he looked much younger than she ever expected. Even with his mouth open slightly, she found herself filled with endearment.

She was so happy to have him back in his life.

She sighed, clapping once as quietly as she could to turn off the lights. She snuggled next to him, content, unsurprised to find him unconsciously throwing an arm around her middle.

It was peaceful.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Doctor woke up to Koschei kissing her face.

She wiggled her nose, humming as she came back to the world. Koschei was above her when she opened her eyes. He was breathtaking, bathed in the artificial glow of her TARDIS. His eyes were filled with a light she hadn’t seen in a very long time.

“Good morning.” He said, and the Doctor felt herself melt.

“Good morning,” She replied, “What did I do to deserve such a lovely wake up call?”

He smirked, “Who said it was for you?”

Unamused, she leaned up on her elbows and repeated what he had done to her. He shook his head at her ridiculousness, but she could tell that he enjoyed it. In retaliation, he leaned down once again, kissing her on her lips.

She moaned against him, straining to follow him up, but it was him that pushed her, leading her back down on the bed. She barely noticed. Instead, she let him do as he wanted, and, by Rassilon, he was not a bad kisser in the slightest.

She knew where this was going – he did to, going by the way he pulled away from her.

“Are you sure about this?” he asked her, “we don’t need-”

“I want to.”

She was firm in her tone, sure in herself, and didn’t dare want to think about that damned cell right now. Instead, she focused on him, totally sure, trying to show how much she wanted to be with him.

She checked on Kara so very quickly – she was very happy to find that she was in a deep sleep. It seemed that the Doctor had finally returned to her usual sleeping schedule- it was only one in the morning. Kara would be asleep for hours.  

OoOoOoOoOo

“We’ll take it slow.” The Master whispered, voice like velvet, thoughts of Kara drifting away.

“Slow,” The Doctor echoed, hearts racing, “Slow. Right… I don’t do slow well.”

The Master chuckled, “This slow.” He reiterated. He looked down at her, calmly, in control, pupils dilated but still him. “Tell me what you want.” He whispered, lips teasing at her ear. She had a full body shiver.

She looked at him, “What?” She asked when the words registered in her foggy mind.

“You don’t like to be touched, love,” He said, “And the last thing I want is to make you uncomfortable.”

“Uncomfortable.” She echoed, wondering how in the world she could be uncomfortable when he was lovingly caressing her sides. “Not – not uncomfortable.”

“Good.” He said – lowly, roughly, and the Doctor felt something hot and burning inside her. Oh Rassilon she needed him everywhere.

“Can I kiss you?”

The Doctor nodded eagerly, and the Master wasted no time in claiming her lips. His tongue explored her mouth with a fever, making her toes curl. He was a good kisser – maybe she was a good kisser. Both of them had experience and both of them used it.

The Doctor bit the Master’s bottom lip, rolling it gently between her teeth, causing him to moan. At that sound, the Doctor moved her hands to his back, dragging her nails into him, a bit annoyed when she realized that they still had clothes on. The Master’s mouth moved to her neck and, with that, distracting her from the clothing problem.

“Biting,” The Master asked, “Good or bad?”

She thought about it, got distracted by what he just did with his tongue, his beard tickling her skin just right. She was just barely able to form the word “good.”

He wasted no time. His sensitive kisses went rougher, nipping first at her collarbone, then using his tongue to soothe away the small sting. Barely able to function, the Doctor’s hands went back to his back, scratching lightly. With that, he moved to her neck and bit down, nothing hard enough to draw blood, but definitely leaving a hickey for later. He would no doubt enjoy that.

He went up, admiring his work, “Beautiful.” He said, “Absolutely stunning.”

She blushed. Thankfully, she was too flushed for him to notice, “You’re not so bad yourself.”

“You,” He said, kissing her just for a second, and then after every word, “Are. A. Terrible. Flirt.”

“It seems to be working.” She snarked back, laughing when he rolled his eyes. This time, she kissed him. While he was distracted, her hands went to the buttons of his shirt, working expertly at getting them neatly off.

He let her. In fact, he stilled above her, watching her hands. Finally, when the last button was done, he quickly threw it off to the side. The Doctor, meanwhile, finally got her chance of running her hands on his chest, feeling something like sparks between her fingertips as she did so. He was so soft this time around – not exactly tone, but fit, and it was nice to look at him – to touch him. He closed his eyes when she dared to rake her nails lightly down his chest. He had always liked a little pain.

“Top or bottom?”

The Doctor stopped, considering the question. She hadn’t… She hadn’t exactly tested this body out yet. Sure, she had many good nights with River, but not in this form. River liked to be on the bottom, but she figured that was more of an experience thing than anything else.

“If it’s your first,” The Master told her, reading her nervous energy, “Top might be better.”

“Top.” She agreed.

She flipped them over. They were evenly matched in strength, despite appearances, and yet the Master seemed surprised at how fast she had him on his back. The Doctor laughed at his impressed expression.

“Is it, then?” He asked, easily leaning into the sheets as she threw her shirt off. His hands went to her hips, still clothed. She realized, all at once, that the Master was very hard underneath her. She was then aware of how wet she was.

Another new experience. That was to be explored more later.

“Is what?” She had the sense to ask.

“Is it your first time in this body?”

She nodded, not embarrassed to admit it, “Wasn’t really sure where to start.”

The Master’s finally began to explore her body. He moved over her skin like a painter to a canvas, taking in each detail with care. He missed no section as she kneeled over him, straddling him. His hands went to her breasts, and he carefully watched her reaction as he cupped them.

She…Supposed it felt good? Strange, but not in any way bad. Then, his thumb flicked over her nipple, and she found herself bucking against him, rubbing against his erection. They both took a breath of air in, surprised.

“New,” She said, “That’s new.”

The Master laughed, absolutely delighted, “Glad you liked it.”

“Trousers.” She said, while they still had enough sense to form words, “Trousers off.”

The Doctor crawled off him, and suddenly both of them were standing. She supposed they should have done this first, but the Master seemed all too happy to start this in bed. She wasn’t complaining.

She got a glimpse of him as he took of the rest of his clothes and, well… He wasn’t exactly small. All things considered, through the lifetimes they had shared moments together in a bed, this may be his prettiest.

That was not a thought she needed to focus on.

She hesitated in taking her last item of clothing off. Her fingers lingered on blue silk material. Taking them off seemed like the point of no return. At that, the Master sat down on the bed, bare to her, and gestured for her to come closer.

She did so, butterflies in her stomach. He smiled at her, kindly, and moved his hands to her knickers, his thumbs flicking at the waistband. “May I?” He asked.

She closed her eyes, feeling only the sensations, and nodded. With her eyes closed, she had no warning when he placed soft lips just above her bellybutton. She gasped, eyes opening, stunned when she caught his eyes.

He truly was beautiful.

It took her way too long to realize that he had not only managed to get her knickers off, but he had also managed to get her to step out of them. She glared at him teasingly, and he had the audacity to wink at her. In retaliation, she pushed him by the shoulders, getting him to lay back down on the bed. This part was familiar, no matter what body.

She trailed one finger down the middle of his chest, watching as the skin raised slightly. She teased him, going lower, just touching him, just about to wrap her fingers around him, when she moved her hand away.

He growled, “That’s not very nice.” His fists were gripping the sheets under him.

She went to tease him again, but he stopped her. “Wait.” He went to wrap his hand around her wrist but stopped midway.

“Can I?” He asked.

She nodded. Knowing what he was doing, being on top and in control, made it much easier.

He took his wrist gently, moving her hand away. “I’m afraid I won’t last very long, my dear, and there’s something to consider. You haven’t done anything in this body?”

She blushed, and this time he noticed. He smirked, “Thought so. Maybe being on top won’t be for the best.”

She looked at him, confused. He raised his eyebrow, and then he flipped her over. She squeaked, back landing softly, and laughed as he smiled cheekily at her. Fair was fair – she had just done the same to him.

He moved on top of her, again, watching carefully for her reaction. It was relieving, and sweet, and the Doctor was so thankful for him in that moment.

“Okay?” He asked, watching her face.

“Kiss me.”

He did, softly, gently, unlike the passionate one they shared only minutes ago. His hand brushed the hair from her eyes and traveled down, teasing at her side. Leaving her lips, he trailed down her stomach, and Rassilon this was so much.

The feeling from before, something hot and tight and ready to burst, was back. She relished in it for a moment, chasing it, but it didn’t seem to move. It stayed, heavy inside her, and she didn’t know what she wanted.

The Master, sensing her need, moved his lips lower and lower, searching for something in her folds, and when he found it - she lost it.

His tongue found her… her clit in one slow drag and she had never experienced something so piercing and strong. Stars gave way in her vision, and the tight feeling from before was released. She gasped, her body clenching and unclenching in places she didn’t know she had, increasing her pleasure.

That was the best orgasm she had ever had. 

She was breathing heavily when she came back too. The Master was still below her legs, smiling wickedly, proud of himself.

“Shut…” She breathed, “Up.”

“I haven’t moved,” The Master replied, “And you haven’t even experienced the best part of womanhood.”

Rassilon. It couldn’t get better.

“An amazing refractory period.”

He nipped at her thigh, and she hated and loved that he was right. Again, she felt that indescribable feeling in her lower stomach. She moaned, loudly, and that only made the Master climb higher, lips closer and closer to where she wanted them.

She knew her limits. Somewhat. She had a funny feeling she wouldn’t be having a third orgasm.

“No,” She said, “Want you.”

The Master shushed her, “Slowly, love.” But he listened. He pushed her legs apart by her thighs, and she was open and bare, ready for him.

“You’re so wet for me.” He whispered, and it was definitely said to himself. He sounded in awe, and the Doctor felt a smile creep up on her. Oh, she was proud of that? Okay, another new thing to add to the list.

He crawled back up to her, and the Doctor thought he would finally do what she so desperately wanted, but instead he placed his fingers back on her clit, just barely touching her, and the Doctor moaned, almost exhausted.

“I’m going to finger you.”

Her eyes opened, wondering what the point of that was when he was right there, but sure enough, he pushed a digit inside of her… Slowly, centimeter by centimeter, and the Doctor was so very glad that he had thought to do that.

It was…Intrusive. Different. Not… Nice, but not uncomfortable. She wondered what his cock would feel like, and she found herself nervous once again. If one finger didn’t feel good…

He shushed her gently, reading her thoughts. “Just takes a little to get used to.”

He moved his finger inside of her, making an upwards notion, and the Doctor bucked once again, something inside of her craving the motion more than she thought possible. The Master captured her lips in a rough kiss, teeth scraping together, and the Doctor was happy to let him do whatever he wanted.

He moved his finger out, then back in, and the Doctor whined. She was about to tell him to get on with it, when he put two fingers in, watching her reaction. Better, much better. She was okay. She was way more than okay. This felt good.

Finally, he added a third finger, stretching her, going slow and then fast, watching carefully to her reactions and sounds.

“Koschei,” She said, almost a growl, “Get inside of me.”

His fingers left her immediately, quickly moving to his cock and giving it a single stroke before starting to push the head inside her. Maybe in different circumstances he would’ve teased her a little more, been rougher or waited until she absolutely begged to be touched, just as he did years ago with her, back when they were on the Valiant.

But after everything - after the hurt, and the pain, and the time spent scared as a woman - going slow was exactly what she wanted and needed.

It was almost overwhelming – too much… Too much at once. She felt herself tense, scared, but it was his feather light kisses upon her forehead that had her letting out a calming breath. She opened her eyes, feeling even better as he watched her closely.

“Come on.” She said, urging him on, not wanting to hear him ask if she was okay.

It didn’t take too much convincing. He went slow, just barely, but when he was fully inside her, they both shivered. Her nails were not doubt leaving indents on his back, but he didn’t seem to mind – he had always loved just a bit of pain.

He stayed like that for a while, letting her get used to the feeling. It wasn’t painful, but it was different compared to her last regenerations. She rolled her hips, and it was with a strange pride to find the Master throwing his head back, eyes closing in pleasure.

They didn’t need words. The listened to each other with each different position, watching each other carefully as they figured out the best position for them. When he had put his finger on his clit, stroking teasingly, she had made a noise so loud that she didn’t even realize it came from her.

“Please god,” He moaned against her, losing his stride, “Do that again.”

She couldn’t speak. He pumped into her twice, quick and hard, and as he found their rhythm again, he did the same move as before.

The Doctor came with a shout, vision tunneling, clenching around him as he went faster and faster, chasing his own pleasure. They were both so wound up, so new to this, that it didn’t take long for him to orgasm above her. He was beautiful, and nothing could have stopped the Doctor from memorizing the curves of his face.

He pulled out slowly, and the Doctor was thankful. She was going to be sore, no matter how kind the Master had been. They were both sweaty, and slightly gross, but the Doctor was glad that the Master laid next to her.

OoOoOoOoOo

The Doctor laid her head against his bare shoulder, wincing only slightly as she turned on her side. Sore was going to be an understatement.

“Thank you,” She said, “That was…”

“Amazing,” He replied, sounding in a daze, “You were amazing.”

She laughed, surprised more than anything, but also blushing at the praise, “You did most of the work.” She answered, embarrassed. She never liked talking about sex – much easier to just do.

“What is it the humans say?” He asked, “It takes two to tango?”

She hummed against him, “I suppose you’re right. I-”

She really, really had to pee.

“Go,” The Master said with a smile, knowing something she didn’t that she was sure he would explain to her later, “Take a shower.”

The Doctor didn’t deserve him.

No.

They didn’t deserve each other.

Chapter Text

He was tracing patterns into her back.

It was soothing, serene… Something she would have never thought she would want in this body. This regeneration of her shied away from any physical contact, especially from those she cared about. Her fam, Martha and Mickey…She hadn’t dared to hug them. Perhaps she was scared to get too close, to see them hurt once more, or gone, or dead.

Keeping her fam at a distance was easier this time around – the adventures, the running, was all she had needed.

But with the Master? Casual intimacy was something she fell into – something she craved. Her body moved before her mind, constantly stepping in line with the Master, searching for his presence.

“Hello again.”

It was very early, 5:03 earth time in the morning, a whole hour and a half before Kara woke up. She smiled, glad to have just a bit more alone time with him. “Hi.” She replied. She didn’t turn around, so the Master continued his strange pattern across her back. She scooted closer to him, showing just how much she loved it.

“You’re beautiful.”

She didn’t know where the compliment came from – why he felt the need to comment. Beauty in her own form, and honestly in others, had never been something she concerned herself with. She was happy to have two legs and functioning brain stems – she never really cared what her face turned out like.

Then, the feeling against her back change. The Master moved his light scratches to the places marked by scars – she could feel it in the way numb skin reacted.

The Doctor tensed. Memories washed over her, of her time in that cell, and she nearly feel the tip of her knife against her bare back – it had never occurred to her that the scars stayed. Then again, looking at her shoulder with strange curiosity… She wasn’t surprised to see a still healing injury from where Talsar had stabbed her.

“Does it bother you?” She asked, making her tone of voice perfectly neutral, “the scars?”

He was silent for too long. She turned in the bed, scared to find him judging her, but was instead met with angry eyes.

“If I could,” He whispered finally, “They would have suffered a much worse fate.”

She shushed him gently. She didn’t want any more talk of death. She laid a hand on his bare chest, just happy to be able to do so, and was even more surprised when he laced their fingers together. It seemed his regeneration also liked her touch.

“They don’t bother me,” She said finally, deciding it before she even said the words, “Maybe I’ll stop at Yafera for a cream, try to let them heal a bit better, but I never cared what I looked like.”

“I may have to spoil you.” The Master said. He shifted his body weight slightly, reaching for something in her drawer. She wondered when he had time to place things there. He came back with the exact cream she was thinking of.

“How…?” She asked, baffled, “When…?”

“Popped over to my TARDIS and grabbed it – saw a jar when we were at Adline Hospital.” He explained, opening it up, “Told you I had three days here – only needed two to fix the TARDIS.”

He had put some in his hands already, warming it. He looked at her, gesturing for her to turn over, but she was still trying to process what he had just said. She hadn’t even considering scarring, or anything for healing, yet he had been prepared to help – to think of doing something kind for her.

She couldn’t say anything. Her throat was too tight. “I…Why?”

She was just so confused. It amazed her, how far he had come in such a short time – only months ago he was threatening humanity once again, tricking her into think O was her friend… Destroying planets – their planets – yet he had shown her so much love and compassion…It made her head spin.

She thought of them on Gallifrey together – of Koschei’s absolute terror of skipping classes. She thought of the way they had run through forbidden fields, hand-in-hand, dreaming of other stars.

She remembered when Aurora and…And her own children had been born. Both of them were wildly out of their element, but it was with wide-eyed vows that they named each other godparents, promising to do their best. Koschei had loved them both with all his hearts, and it had destroyed him to lose them.

It had destroyed her, too. He had never seen the War Doctor. It was Rose, humanity, that brought him back from that darkness.

It only made sense that Koschei found his redemption in Kara.

It clicked together for her like puzzle pieces. While the idea that it was her alone that brought him back to her, it was Kara, a daughter, their daughter, who made him whole.

“You think too loud. You were never one to enjoy the moment.”

She nodded at that, not surprised to hear his voice echoing in her mind. She had left her connection with him open since she had woken up in that safe house constructed by UNIT. She should have been embarrassed by his ability to sneak in, but she only felt comfort in it. She wondered how much he had seen.

“Go on, then,” He urged her, gratitude, fondness, love, and, oh yes, just a bit of desire, “Be a waste of stolen cream.”

“Why am I not surprised you stole it?”

“Oh, please, my dear,” He replied, all smugness, “You say that as if it was a chore.”

She shook her head, more amused than anything. Thoughts of him changing died with the way he looked at her – soft and caring. She turned over slowly, laying on her stomach, the blanket barely covering her. She felt nervous at being so bare to him, even when they had slept together.

This felt far more intimate – far too close. There was no task for her to do as he began to run patterns on her back again, this time rubbing gently. She closed her eyes, mostly at peace, focusing on him as his hands glided over her.

“Feels amazin.’” She complimented and, through their connection, he felt his amusement. Then, something else. He moved to her side, just for a moment, and tickled her. She found herself pushing away from him, screeching, nearly falling off the bed.

She covered herself with the blanket as his small laughs washed over her, even when she blushed. He was adorable. “That was mean!”

“It was far too tempting,” He said, his hands going up in mock surrender, “Won’t do it again.”

She hummed, disagreeing with him, “I’ll get back at you.”

“Oh, the fearsome Doctor,” He joked, even as he gestured for her to lay back down on the bed, “I wonder what you’ll do to me.”

“You got no idea what I’m capable of,” She joked back, watching carefully and she laid back down “I can be sneaky!”

“Kara is more inconspicuous than you, love.” He replied, and the Doctor couldn’t help but agree. The memory of her sneaking so many pillows on him came to mind, and she smiled.

He shuffled on the bed, and she again felt his rough hands on her back again. She almost moaned in pleasure. He was far too good at this – where had he learned to move his hands like that? Thoughts of him tickling her again stopped when he rubbed a particularly sore spot down her spine.

“The human,” he said suddenly, just when she thought she might fall asleep, “The one from the park. I’m surprised you haven’t brought it up.”

She tensed – she had almost forgotten about him – forgotten how she had felt when the man had grabbed her arm, how she had reacted with brute strength on pure, horrible instinct. She should have checked on him, made sure she didn’t…

Was she more upset that she had lost control, or that she had nearly killed him?

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Her voice had an edge to it, and it echoed painfully in their room. The Master, to his credit, didn’t stop what he was doing. His expertly rubbed harder at a particular knot in her shoulder, and whatever tension she gained from this conversation was gone a moment later.

“One bruised rib,” The Master said, “You hardly hurt him.”

It was…Relieving to hear that she hadn’t harmed an innocent man, and even more so to hear that the Master had checked on him. She turned, stopping him once again. She went to say something, to say that she was glad or thank him for checking…But it felt frozen in her throat.

She felt vulnerable under his stare.

“He grabbed you,” The Master said, “And you shoved him – simple as that.”

She wished it was that simple, “I was back there, in that cell, and I could see...” She took a deep breathe, “It didn’t happen because I was recovering from that drug – it was…”

She hated that she couldn’t say it. She had had panic attacks before, especially after the war. It was time the lessoned them and it was time that would lesson these same hurts.

“I’ve had them too.”

The Doctor looked into his eyes with the admission, feeling immense pain at him suffering the same fate. “I’m so sorry.”

She should have been there for him. They had promised each other that.

“Kara’s parents, giving them a place to rest… You go and do something stupidly selfless to repent,” There was something dark in his gaze, self-hating, “I burn planets.”

“Perhaps,” She replied, even as he looked away, “We can find a middle ground, together.”

She looked at the cream, taking it gently from his hands. He watched as she put some on her hands. Slowly, she moved to put it on his own bullet wound, created by Talsar, right below his ribs. It had healed, disfigured mark barely noticeable to her eyes, but still she took care in moving across his skin.

He eyed her with an attention that had her shivering. She wasn’t exactly an expert like him – never really good with her hands unless it was building something – but he seemed to relax into her touch. His eyes closed, and she found herself moving to his side, just as he had done, smiling.

He grabbed her wrist before she could even move, “You,” He said, “Have no patience.”

She did not pout. She didn’t! Before she could complain, she felt Kara awareness in the back of her mind. The Master, much to her surprise, felt the same.

The Doctor looked at him as he got up from the bed, stretching. It was all so very… Normal. It struck her, again, on how much had changed… Not only in the Master’s life and choices, but in her own. She was starting to enjoy sleeping. Something must be wrong with her.

No…Something was finally going right for her.

She wondered, very suddenly, how the other girls, Thalia and Roxie - Hera and Willow as well - were fairing. Did they have someone like the Master, helping through the chaos? Were the other children doing as well as Kara? Did they have the support they needed?

A thousand questions… And the longing for familiar faces that came with it. Kara had said she wanted to visit them. Finally, nothing was stopping them.

“How do you feel about visiting Kara’s friends?”

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

“Yes!” Kara said, looking at the both of them with pure joy and excitement, “Really? Right now?”

“’Course!” The Doctor answered, smiling at her excitement, “Pinky promised, didn’t I?”

Kara needed this – she needed people her age that she could connect to. In fact, there was no one else in the universe that exactly understand their situation. It would be good for Kara to keep these longtime friends close.

Kara smiled wide, practically bouncing.  “Can I help fly the TARDIS?”

“I’m not sure. Do you remember what this is for?” The Master said, and a vision of Koschei lecturing her about the importance of passing the Academy came so fast that she found herself nearly raising her hand to answer him.

The tone – he had always been a good teacher.

The Doctor made her way around the two, sliding open the third drawer from the bottom right, fishing around various other trinkets, one of them being a very long scarf, before finally finding the blue pin she had gifted to all of them. She tossed it neatly to the Master, and it was of no surprise that he caught it in the middle of his lecture to Kara, easily sliding it into the TARDIS’s telepathic circuits.

With that done, she found herself leaning happily against the railings of her TARDIS as the Master guided Kara around the console, inputting dates and times – flying the TARDIS perfectly… Even leaving the parking break on, much to the Doctor’s amusement.

She wondered if that was the TARDIS’s doing or Koschei’s.

“We’ll be aiming for this date,” He said, pointing at the screens, “The TARDIS does most of the flying, but it’s important to help her along.”

“Why that day?” Kara asked, and the Doctor felt her hearts soar at her curiosity.

“Well, your mother gave everyone a little pin – this pin – so that we could find them. It seems that all of them are relatively close to each other on this date.”

“December fifth, twenty…Twenty seven-eight.”

The TARDIS was translating Gallifreyian once again – it wouldn’t be long until both her and the Master taught Kara some basic words in their native language. Kara had already become fond of the nickname love.

“Twenty seventy-eight,” Koschei corrected gently, “Two months since they’ve seen you.”

Kara looked confused, “But… It hasn’t been that long since I saw Lilly and Alexios.”

“Time-travel, love,” The Doctor replied, stretching, “Which means… We’ll need some winter clothes. I bet the TARDIS already left you a coat in your room.”

“Really? Let’s go!” Kara asked, but she had already taken the Doctor’s hand, dragging her away from the console room. The Doctor laughed, letting her, a gave a quick wave to Koschei.

Today was a good day.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

“Purple,” She muttered, unable to help herself, “The both of you are teaming up against me.”

The Doctor had been right – the TARDIS did gift Kara was a rather adorable set of winter clothes. Kara had loved the color of her purple shirt and coat, and was overjoyed at the, once again, her favorite colour in winter boots.

It had never occurred to her that the Master’s colour was also purple. The Master, much to Kara’s excitement, matched perfectly with Kara.

It was nothing against them. In fact, the two of them looked adorable standing next to each other, even with the Master’s more stylish look compared to the Kara youthful outfit.

And the Doctor? Well, she stood out look a sore thumb compared to them – to which she was perfectly, happily fine with! She was used to looking like the odd one when traveling with her companies and this was no different.

It was Koschei that tossed the purple, leather gloves at her this time, and the Doctor let it bounce of her forehead and back onto the ground. Kara fetched it immediately, but it was her raised eyebrow that stopped Kara from continuing the Master’s mischief.

The Doctor grabbed at her rainbow scarf and – Thank you, old girl – matching gloves. They were quite stylish if she did say so herself. The Master, however, had declared it a ‘fashionable offensive’ and had nearly succeeded in hiding it from her.

“Give me that!” The Doctor said, holding out her hand, “I love that scarf!”

“I think,” Kara said, interrupting their rather brilliant staring contest, “that since dad has been mean, that he should have to wear your scarf, and that you should have to wear the purple gloves.”

They both turned to her, unsurprised by her kind-hearted, simple suggestion, but also unwilling to compromise on such a simple demand. Kara, in an even more mature display, put her hands on her hips and simply gestured for them to do as they were told.

“Well,” The Master said, “As logical and sound as that suggestion is, little one, I-”

“Will be doing as Kara says.” The Doctor interrupted, giving him a look and she took the gloves from Kara’s hands, “Isn’t that right?”

“The death of me,” The Master muttered under his breath, “Yes, fine.”

“Finally!” Kara cheered, grabbing both their hands, nearly skipping, “Come on!”

Kara was running through the TARDIS so fast that it gave the Doctor not a single hope of thinking about what she was going to say to the other girls. She had been worried about seeing them once again, wondering if they even wanted to see her.  

Kara had dragged them out the TARDIS doors and into the freezing cold before the Doctor could begin to regret anything. She was greeted with a very normal looking street that reminded her of Amy and Rory’s home. The air tasted of the planet named Plasea, known for its peaceful, universal trading.

And very average, happy living.

So, when it was Thalia – brave, strong, fighter Thalia – that opened the door after the Master had knocked on it, she found that she couldn’t say a word.

Thankfully, Kara handled it much better than herself.

“THALIA!”

Kara barreled into Thalia with the strength of a Pliterbeast – to Thalia’s credit, she only stumbled slightly, and it took her less than a second to recover. Thalia smiled at Kara’s energy, swinging her up and into a proper hug.

Thalia stared at the Master with a respectful head nod as she continued to hold Kara. Meanwhile, the Doctor received just a hint of smile in greeting. Thalia looked good – a fresh haircut, very, very short, and eyes that no longer held a dangerous fury.

She looked peaceful.

“KARA!”

It was then that Thalia was forced to put Kara down, and the screams of the delight that filled the street was nearly indescribable. A wide grin made its way unknowingly to her face as Lilly and Alexios jumped up and down in excitement, hugging each other tightly.

Thalia, even, was smiling as the girls talked over each other, pointing at their various outfits. “Kara looks good.” Thalia said, “All of them do.”

“They do.” the Doctor agreed, just as Roxie rounded the corner, waving at her excitedly.

It was Roxie that brought the Doctor into a tight hug. The Doctor tried to move away, but then thought of how silly that would be. She threw her arms around the caring woman, squeezing tightly. Thalia made of noise of disagreement, but she too was dragged into a rather ridiculous group hug.

“Hello, ladies!” Was that… Doctor Hera? “And mysterious man that saved our lives.”

“Are we having a party?” The Doctor asked, “What are all of you doing here? Not that this is a bad thing – in fact, it’s rather nice even with the boring neighborhood-”

“What she means to say is,” Koschei interrupted, “Is that it is wonderful to see all of you. May we come in?”

It took all of them a moment to realize that the Doctor and the Master were still on someone’s front doorstep. It was Roxie that looked horrified, blushing furiously, “Of course! Sorry dears! Yes, please! Come in – come in! Welcome to my humble apartment.”

“Apartment!” She said, speaking before realizing, “You’ve got an apartment!”

The Master looked scandalized by her behavior, but it only made Roxie laugh, “Yes, dearie, I have an apartment. Couldn’t stay with my parents forever, could I?”

“It’s lovely, truly!” The Doctor said, backtracking, as Roxie took her coat, “Never seen an apartment before. Seen a flat, so I suppose that’s the same thing. Very nice – very normal!”

“I’m glad to see your ridiculousness didn’t travel with you,” Thalia replied, deadpanned, just as they made their way into what appeared to be a dinning room, “I didn’t miss it.”

The Master, much to the Doctor’s annoyance, let out a rather loud, poorly muffled laugh. Thalia looked surprised by his agreement, looking towards the Doctor, who shrugged. She supposed that it was a fair enough assessment of herself.

The Doctor’s attention faltered as Kara and the girls came back into view. They hadn’t moved from the staircase near the front door, but with the open dinning room it was clear to see how thrilled all three of them were. The Master, to the Doctor’s relief, was watching them with keen eyes as the rest of the woman in the room continued their conversation.

“Doctor! What a surprise!”

The Doctor smiled kindly at Willow, who looked anything but shocked at the Doctor’s sudden appearance. Willow looked very content with her arm wrapped around her wife – the two fit together like puzzle pieces. They looked happy.

“Look at you two!” The Doctor said, “Proper couple, you are! You both look fantastic!”

“Easy there,” Hera threatened joking, “don’t let me catch you flirting with my wife! Might just have another tissue regenerator lying around…”

“I’ve faced down loads of people,” The Doctor said solemnly, “But by Rassilon you might be the worst with a threat like that.”

Willow let out a snort, nearly spitting out her drink, and it made the whole room laugh. The atmosphere was electric – happy, even, and the Doctor felt herself relax as they all settled down in various places. She was even more content as the Master chose to sit next to her on the living room sofa.

It occurred to her that he was the only man in the entire house. She looked around quickly, seeing if that was bothering anyone, but no one seemed particularly nervous about him. Even Thalia, who the Doctor suspected would be suspicious of most people for the rest of her life, looked perfectly fine.

The sounds of the girls in the background was soothing as they all talked to one another. The Doctor learned the Willow had gotten back into designing, and with a flaming red face she showed the Doctor a rather stunning blue ball gown. The Master, even, looked appreciative at the sketch. It was also the new source of income for the young couple.

When Willow went to ask Roxie something, it was Hera that took her place. She, apparently, had stayed at Adaline hospital and had been offered a position there, to which she turned down. The Doctor hadn’t expected it, but it was with sad eyes that Hera admitted she didn’t think she deserved the right to medicine anymore.

Both her and the Master tried to convince her otherwise, the Master scoff at Hera’s ‘idiotic waste of talent’ being more helpful then her own encouraging words, but Hera only smiled sadly at her. “I’m just glad to have a roof over my head and my wife at my side.”

Roxie had admitted that her stepfather had died from cancer, leaving her with the current house they were in. It was left to her mother, but after everything Roxie’s parents were happy to gift it to Roxie as she got back on her feet.

“What did you do?” The Doctor asked, “Before…?”

“A nanny,” Roxie answered, “Ironic, I know. I’ve always loved kids. Learned a long time ago that I couldn’t have them, which made my job difficult at times, but I always knew I would adopt. I’ve even considered going back to some sort of daycare job. Alexios, I have to admit, has been a blessing, which is making me think it’s alright to have her put into school soon.”

“No problems then?” The Master asked, “She’s been handling everything well?”

“Well for what she’s been through, yes..?” Roxie looked confused, “Has Kara been alright?”

“We learned that Kara parents died,” The Doctor admitted, trying not to think of the fire of her home that Kara had nearly rushed into, “Kara’s… Strong, brave, but there were many, many long nights. Still has some nightmares.”

The Doctor looked back over towards the staircase, where the young ladies were still sitting. Kara was laughing at something Lilly said, completely carefree. It was calming to see her so relaxed and happy – she could almost imagine that this was a normal night.

“I’m sure you’re doing the best you can,” Roxie said reassuringly, “You’ve always been compassionate, dear, and that’s all Kara needs right now. And with this lovely man here, I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

The Master did his best to thank Roxie for the compliment, but the Doctor could tell that he wasn’t entirely sure to react to such a thing. The Doctor thanked Roxie with a smile, and it was then that Alexios came running up to the three of them, practically jumping.

“Can Kara and Lilly go upstairs and see my room, please?”

“Of course,” Roxie replied, “Make sure to leave the door open, yes? And not for too long, we’ll have supper soon.”

“Thanks, Roxie!” Then turned towards the Doctor, “Hi Doctor!” With that, Alexios gave the Doctor the quickest hug, so fast the Doctor didn’t have time to wrap her arms around the girl, before the three girls were sprinting up the stairs, practically tripping on each other in their haste. It was Kara that stopped just for a moment, waving at her parents, to which they both waved back.

“Kids,” Roxie said, shaking her head fondly as they made it up the stairs, “Absolutely chaotic. Excuse me, the food should be done right about now.”

Thalia, in her typical fashion, plopped herself down as soon as Roxie left, looking at them both with something dark in her eyes.

“He’s dead?” She asked quietly, looking only towards the Master.

The Doctor was going to break the news to her gently, seeing as Thalia looked already uncomfortable with the question, but the Master answered with ease.

“It was far too quick for the scum he was, but I assure you, he’s gone.”

Thalia nodded, looking pleased, “Hope that bastards rots in hell. I’ve helped some of the Shadow Proclamation take care of the few Rarfre that were left – if there’s anyone, they hold no power.”

It was relieving to hear that they were all safe – that there wasn’t a possibility of more girls being sold in such a way. The Doctor knew it was a small portion of the universe, only one of the darkest places, but it was enough.

“You’ve been helping the Shadow Proclamation?” The Doctor asked, though not completely surprised, “They hardly ever accept Kahler’s into their ranks – beyond prejudice lot they are.”

“They allowed a… Third party is help with such a large project. I wasn’t able to do much field work, but staying with Lilly was far more important than actually hunting them down.”

“Speaking of Lilly,” The Master asked, “We’ve tracked all of the pins the Doctor gave you and chose this date due to the proximity of them. Was there a reason for this get together?”

“It was Roxie’s idea. She called all of us up and said that we shouldn’t lose touch, especially since we’ve got the girls. Don’t tell her, but I’m hoping well do this once a month – Lilly was practically dancing at the idea of seeing Alexios again.”

“You’ve found transport, then?” The Doctor asked, “You were staying on Trelika last Roxie said – most of your people are there.”

Thalia laughed, but there was something in her eyes, “Never was welcomed on my home planet. I followed Roxie here when she offered. We’re staying a couple towns over, where the best schools are.”

A renegade from their own planet. The Doctor could relate to that, more than Thalia would ever know. Thalia may be young, full of pain, but that pain had only brought out her love. The Doctor admired that and realized that, in a different lifetime, she would have invited Thalia to travel with her.

The Doctor could tell that the Master was bursting with questions, but it was then that Roxie yelled up the stairs for the girls. Apparently, the Doctor and the Master were to have dinner with them.

She never really had a proper dinner before – or, at least, not in a very long time. Though she loved everyone here, she was never good at sitting still for long. It took her everything not to mess with the outdated CD player Roxie had playing the background.

“Thank you,” The Doctor said quietly to Koschei, watching as Kara made her way to them, “I know this isn’t something you wanted to do…”

“I promise I’ll survive a couple hours with the people who kept you alive.”

The Doctor smiled tiredly, glad that he understood how important this was to her, but also tired of being the one to drag him places. She hoped that after this, they would be able to settle down for a little bit, maybe with a small adventure or two together, and finally discuss Kara’s long-term future.

The dinner went well. Okay, it went boring. But boring was good, for once! Talking about jobs and future plans and even Roxie’s new partner was nice to hear. And with Koschei ability to charm an entire room, it was easy for her to stay quiet… And goof around with Kara.

It was only near the end that things went bad.

Lilly had dropped her plastic cup, spilling it everywhere. The Doctor didn’t even register it, thinking nothing of it except to make sure Lilly wouldn’t be upset about getting some of it on her trousers… But Lilly went near catatonic when she asked.

Thalia was up immediately, chair scratching loudly against the ground. She kneeled in front of the small girl, whispering soft words as Lilly cried silently. The poor girl looked terrified as Roxie and Koschei made quick work of cleaning the mess.

Kara took the Doctor’s hand, looking scared herself. The Doctor tried her best to soothe her, smiling gently, but Kara could only stare as Thalia guided Lilly to the living room, holding her tightly in her arms.

“It’s alright,” The Doctor said to both Kara and Alexios, “Lilly just a bit scared, yeah? It’s okay to be scared.”

“Can we make it better?” Alexios asked, and Kara immediately brightened at the idea.

The Doctor looked behind them, glimpsing a crying Lilly in Thalia’s arms. Koschei looked as well, wincing at Lilly’s painful, irregular breathing. Panic attacks were not something to take lightly, especially not in a child so young.

“There’s nothing you girls can do right now,” The Doctor said, “But it’s very kind of you to offer. Lilly just needs a bit of space.”

Hera had made her way over the Thalia, offering advice and medication, but Thalia looked furious at the suggestion of drugging her. Time Lord hearing was sometimes a curse.

The other woman shuffled the two young girls into the kitchen, thankfully distracting them. They waited patiently, keeping their tone light as they cleaned dishes as to not worry Kara and Alexios. Still, it was hard to ignore the idea of a child in pain.

She knew that with one little touch she could take Lilly’s pain away – she couldn’t erase her memories, but she could stop the panic attack until Lilly received a better treatment plan.

“Don’t even think about it.”

The Doctor turned to look at him, but he was busy with the girls, distracting them by braiding Kara’s hair and teaching Alexios how to do it. The Doctor knew the braid’s style had some sort of name, especially in high Gallifreyan court, but she simply could not remember it.

“If I can help…”

“And discredit Thalia’s own teachings?” He interrupted, fully turning to look at her, “Always so selfless, even when your help isn’t wanted or needed.”

She felt she had been slapped. He, too, looked surprised by his own words. It wasn’t what he said that bothered her, it was the anger behind them – as if he had been personally victimized by her… And the Master had, hadn’t he? Missy was locked in a cage thanks to her. Is that where the bitterness came from?

“You’re right.” She said, “I shouldn’t-”

“No,” He cut her off, “That wasn’t… I’m sorry. That was harsh of me.”

She could count on her hands the number of times he had apologized to her, and one of them occurred only after Kara’s influence. Still, it was nice to hear him say it. “It’s alright. I understand what you meant.” She offered.

“Been a while now,” Roxie said, distracting her, “Maybe, Hera, you’ll want to ask Thalia again…?”

Hera shook her head, “Thalia said no and, trust me, she won’t be changing her mind.”

The Doctor turned to look at the Master, but he was clearly uninterested – pretending to be uninterested. He obviously had opinions on this.

Thalia stumbled through the door, looking uneasy. “Fine,” She spat out at Hera, but still quiet enough so the girls couldn’t hear, “I can’t get her breathing under control. Bring whatever you were going to do.”

“No need for that,” The Master said, and the Doctor felt paralyzed with fury as he proceeded to try and do what she had just offered, “I can get her to calm down.”

“In the nicest way, and only because I like you,” Thalia said, already turn back around towards Lilly, “having a man near her won’t be helpful right now.”

The justification she felt at Thalia’s words was hardly fair, but the Doctor wasn’t going to tell the Master that. At the heart of it, he was truly trying to help.

“Then let the Doctor help,” The Master said, halting Thalia. The Doctor was beyond confused at the change in view, “it’ll be faster than drugs, and less side effects.”

“And what will you be doing, exactly?” Hera asked, hands on her hips, “Got something better than modern medicine?”

“I don’t give a shit what you do besides helping Lilly,” Thalia hissed, “or did you all forget that’s why I’m back in here? Doctor, if you have something better than giving her a needle, figure it out.”

Thalia angry tone did not match her body language as she went back towards the dinning room, her voice already going soft as she addressed Lilly once again. The Doctor looked towards the Master, asking one last time, and then deciding she didn’t care for his opinion at the moment.

She followed Thalia in the dinning room, anger forgotten at the painful cries of someone terrified. “Hi, Lilly,” The Doctor said softly, kneeling down at her level with Thalia. Lilly said nothing, eyes blank as she stared off in the distance.

The Doctor looked toward Thalia once and, at Thalia’s nod, the Doctor reached for Lilly’s hand. It was a frightful ball of emotions that hit her, the Doctor’s body shuddering as it passed over it. The primal fear that Lilly had was strong – there was a glass of red wine spilled on the ground, and then a hand around her throat, chocking her as someone lifted her off the ground. It was no wonder she couldn’t catch her breath.

“Shh,” The Doctor said to her, forcibly pushing the memory away, “Sleep – go to sleep.”

Finally, Lilly collapsed in Thalia’s arms.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

“So what is it your two can do? Did she just… Make Lilly sleep?” Hera asked him, and he wondered if she truly desired not going back to being a doctor.

“Touch telepathic.” The Master admitted, surprised that he answered her so easily. He used touch telepathy only on a dire circumstance, often to have an edge over an opponent that went awry. Now, he was sharing it willingly.

It must be because he was staring at the Doctor as she comforted Thalia, watching as the two of them laid Lilly down on the sofa.

“Touch telepathic? Like, reading minds?” Roxie asked, only some-what joking, “So your immortal, can’t die, and now mind readers? Where do you two come from?”

Another stark reminder of his past. If the Doctor were here, she would already have those sad, sullen eyes, making up a feeble lie to justify his presence. Her lies never held any weight, something that used to be useful when planning around her little getaways.  

“The planet is gone,” The Master said, no remorse in his tone, “There’s a reason Talsar kept her alive so long – we’re the last of us.”

The best lies were the ones with hidden truths.

“She thought she was the last,” Willow added, “Why?”

The reason these woman were alive because they were smart – All of them had survived hell to be here now, and it was clear in the way they questioned him that they weren’t half as dull as some of the humans the Doctor traveled with.

“She thought I was dead,” The Master replied, “Or, at the very least, unavailable.”

“Thought?” Hera asked, “How does someone think you're dead?”

“Well,” The Master said, never one to resist chaos, “She was the one to trap me in another dimension. The Doctor and I have been friends – enemies, really – long before this occurred.”

Roxie’s mouth fell open, looking at him strangely, and then, with a shrug, muttered something about “not wanting to know.” Willow and Hera were, much to his amusement, hanging on ever word.

“Whatever he just told you,” The Doctor said, surprising him, “Is probably 96 percent a lie.”

“I’m afraid you’re wrong this time, love,” The Master teased, “would you not agree that we were enemies?”

“Ah,” She admitted, blushing, looking at Hera and Willow, “That part is true, then. Sorry.”

“I need this story,” Hera said, “When I’m 96 percent less drunk. Whatever Roxie put in this drink was much stronger than I was expecting from someone so nice. It’s a good think we’ll be doing this again next month."

"That juice had alcohol?” The Doctor asked, looking perplexed, “But it actually tasted good.”

The Master chuckled at her naivety, wondering how in the universe she knew so much yet so little. She had never been a fan of drinking, so it was no surprise of his that she had never tried sangria.

“And, with that,” The Master said, eyeing a blinking Kara, “We should get back.”

“Kara is tired,” The Doctor explained for him, “It’s already past her bedtime – huh, bedtime. Never thought I would be saying that again. Anyways, good to see you two!”

And she was gone, rushing over to Kara without a word – she had never liked goodbyes.

“I have one more question,” Hera asked him, “If she’s called the Doctor…”

“You’re far too clever.” He grumbled. It wasn’t worth it to keep the name O with them. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that if the Doctor decided to miss their now monthly meetings, Thalia would find a way to track them now.

“My name is the Master.” He replied, watching closely for their reaction, “However, O has been a name I kept for a couple of years.”

The couple looked alarmed, just as he had expected.

“I’ve heard Kara call you her father,” Willow asked him, suspicious, “What does the Doctor call you?”

“My childhood name,” He admitted, and then turned towards a warning, “One that I am not comfortable sharing with those I do not consider family.”

The two of them glanced at each other.

“You hurt her,” Hera said,

“And we will find you,” Willow finished.

A pause.

Thalia will find you.”

He laughed, really laughed, amused by them if nothing else. He was glad that the Doctor found these people, even with their half-hearted threats.

Their goodbyes (Kara and the Master’s goodbyes) were quick and painless, filled with promises of seeing each other. Kara looked a little disappointed that she couldn’t say goodbye to a still sleeping Lilly, but it was Thalia that promise that Lilly would call her when she felt up for it.

Hand in hand, his family walked out of a beautiful home, feeling lighter.