AN: A very happy new year to you guys!

Chapter 16

The Beat of Discovery

The Soldier alighted from the National Express Coach onto Victoria Coach Station holding a small bag containing her meagre human possessions. She huddled into her red coat to protect herself from the biting chill of London, her clothes too threadbare underneath to give adequate protection.

The Soldier marched straight to the accompanying food stall and bought a small cup of coffee. She nursed her cup of machine coffee until the local bus to Central London arrived, boarding quickly and sitting down at the aisle seat. She ignored the passing scenery and drifted into her thoughts.

Localized time disruptions had started a month ago and while she knew it originated from London, her impromptu travel to Greenland had left her a little hard on cash to London. While she'd been tempted to fall off the grid like the Doctor and pull a rescue out of her…behind…like he did, the reminder that she would have to face UNIT and all other monitoring agencies without the TARDIS to provide her an escape prevented her from following that plan. The disruptions were mild, but continuously growing, as if someone were repeatedly travelling between two time periods. While time disruptions were a minor nuisance, they had the nasty habit of attracting time energy predators like Angels and T-flies and it was easier to fix time disruptions then deal with those predators. Given the nature of the disturbance and common sense, she suspected the culprit of the activity was the Doctor as he was the only one in the universe who even had a TARDIS to cause these disruptions.

If it hadn't been for the fact that he'd started usurping her role, her title, she would have ignored it. After all, it was Gallifrey law that all Time Lords had to neutralize any temporal disruptions that they created from their activities. But as it stood, after the Christmas debacle, after Canary Wharf, she couldn't bear the Doctor, a hypocritical, whimsical and unqualified Time Lord, doing her job…and being better at it. So in return, she would fix his mess and prove that she wasn't less. That he wasn't better than her.

The burn of indignation and her determination had driven her to resign from her job, destroying any form of financial stability that she'd had. But she was a Time Lord and she could make do. She was as good as the Doctor, even better. She wasn't going to let him get the better of her. Despite having been alone for centuries, the thought that she was alone, not because there was no one else like before, but because she had been rejected, wasn't good enough, burned. She regretted not saying something when he'd come to visit her just before his regeneration. Hadn't she meant something? It's been two years since their last meeting and he had yet to pay her a visit. So what if she hadn't told him that she was a Time Lord? Had she meant so little to him as a friend? After everything they'd done in their adventures, after repeatedly risking her life for their team, how could he not even check up on her? Send a letter, or even a call on her EMS? Had she been that meaningless? Had she been that useless and unwanted?

Deep down, she acknowledged that she was diverting blame for her loneliness onto the Doctor. She had been alone for too long now. Her one friend, Martha, had stopped visiting a few months back after the Hospital on the Moon incident.

The Soldier tried to massage away the tension headache forming between her eyes. She was falling into her insecurities again. She had to remember that she was better now. This downtime, despite everything, had been good for her. She was more grounded and passed more convincingly as human despite having deactivated her Chameleon circuit. But downtime was downtime; it needed to end.

Now that she was back in London, she wondered if her decision to remain as a Time Lord was a good one, especially since high officials in London were monitoring alien activity. She found it difficult to imagine humans in this age presenting any challenge to her. Perhaps it was arrogant of her to think so but it was also true. Humans with their current technology were no match for her.

The Soldier alighted from the bus and homed into the area of time disruptions, trying to dismiss the tang of nostalgia hitting her from her last visit in the 1940s. A lot had changed but much more had remained the same. But she knew very few people in London and her funds were meagre at best, rendering an extended stay in London void. It would be best if she resolved the time disruptions as soon as possible and returned to Cardiff.

The Soldier wandered through Central London, trying to narrow down the temporally disrupted zone. The region narrowed down to an official looking three-story building with a large fountain spouting water out of three Romanesque male statues. On the threshold of the property, near the sidewalk, a falafel stand was having large influx of customers.

The Soldier stood outside, surprised at the lack of mayhem in the scene. Generally anything that included the Doctor was a flurry of activity, so it was a shock to only see a disturbance near the falafel stand.

Curious and slightly unsettled, the Soldier made her way to the stand and stood last in line, content to watch the vendor while waiting for the lunch rush to get over. The dark-haired man at the stand gave her a confused and wary look.

"Is the'e something you wan'?"

"Uh," she made a snap decision, "Just a chicken falafel."

The man worked quickly to make hers, then handed it out firmly. "Pay and go. I wan' no trouble."

A little unnerved at the hostility, she apologized. "Sorry I didn't mean to offend you."

"Then you shouldn't hang aroun' just staring like that. Very weird."

"Uh. Did you see a rather odd guy come out or go through these gates?" She asked outright, ignoring his snub. Her attempt at discrete information gathering had failed spectacularly. She was losing her touch.

"Weirder than you?" He paused, looking smug. "I donno."

She retreated, giving up on getting anything from the man. Today was just not her day. She halted suddenly, noting the odd rhythm the man was beating out.

Thum. Thuddum. Thummm. Thudum.

The beat was on repeat and the man seemed to be in a trance. She snapped herself out of it and shook her head. Humans called those beats earworms, didn't they?

The Soldier approached the building and saw large campaign posters decorating the building. The posters were decorated with blue and red, advertising the next PM candidates: a young blonde man dressed in formal clothing with a charismatic smile and an older, rather austere gentleman with a smug look. Both their campaign messages seemed rather weak to the Soldier.

Her Senses buzzed, confirming this area as the focal point for the temporal disturbance. Her gut was warning her that something was amiss. Nothing had gone according to her expectations and the area was too calm to have had any Doctor interference.

Or he had decided to give his 'help' for the next elections.

But he wouldn't. Surely, he wouldn't. Despite his chaotic insanity, even the Doctor knew not to interfere in Earth's politics.

Didn't he?

Knowing the Doctor, he'd use some imagined moral dilemma to justify his interference. She clenched her teeth in remembered irritation as she walked through the sliding doors.

"Is the Doctor in?" She asked the receptionist seated professionally behind the table.

"Sorry, doctor who? Do you have an appointment?" The receptionist gave her placid smile.

That was rather telling. Plan B then.

"I'm here about the incident. I'm here for the cleanup."

The receptionist gave her a dubious look, looking her up and down.

"What incident? There haven't been any spills today, though you look more like you're from security."

She faked a sigh and shook her head before straightening up. "Miss, I am from security. We tend to operate discretely."

"Oh, oh! You're here to see Dr. Lazarus! Wait let me check." The receptionist perused the files on her desk and pulled out a memo that had 'URGENT' printed at the front.

"You're with UNIT then?"

Claiming to be from UNIT would only paint a target on her back, especially when the designated UNIT team reached here. But luckily, something had happened which she could captialize on, especially since UNIT dealt with extraterrestrial activity. She quickly ran through the meager list of people she knew on Earth. Jack. Jack worked with Torchwood.

"No, Torchwood."

"Torchwood? Haven't they shut down or something?" The receptionist brightened up at the chance of hearing confidential information.

"Classified miss. Call the people who can brief me, please." The Soldier said sternly.

"Right!" The receptionist, frazzled, checked haphazardly through the clutter on her table and paused upon reading one of her memos.

"Dr. Lazarus passed away a few days ago. All his work was taken by his sponsor."

"His sponsor?"

"Mr. Harold Saxon." The Soldier stared pointedly at her. "I'll book you an appointment."

"Appointment?" The Soldier asked condescendingly. "He needs to meet me right now."

The receptionist looked uncertain. "I don't think he's available right now."

The Soldier shot her a quelling glance.

"I'll try to reach him for you. Please wait right there." She replied with a frozen smile before gesturing to the leather couch in the corner.

"Let Mr. Saxon know he's keeping Torchwood waiting."

The Soldier turned sharply and sat lithely on the couch. Her centuries as an officer had pulled her through for that little act. She kept an eye on the receptionist who was giving her nervous looks every time their eyes met.

A few minutes passed before a ping of an elevator alerted her to someone's arrival. The young blond man adorning the posters outside strutted out and the receptionist rushed towards him, whispering hurriedly. The man stared at the receptionist in slight disgust for a moment, disdaining her proximity before his eyes wandered to her.

A grin took over his face and he waved the receptionist off before strutting casually towards her.

So this was Harold Saxon.

"I didn't know Torchwood was still around! Oh, but where are my manners? I'm Harold Saxon; it's an absolute pleasure to meet you."

He extended his hand in welcome. The Soldier stood there, unresponsive.

Her Senses were tingling insistently, like they did every time she had met the Doctor. Was it him? Regenerated again? But why did he have a name? Was he in disguise, like when he'd called himself John Smith? But the Doctor dabbling in human politics? The thought made the hair stand on the back of her neck in horror.

"I'm Red. Are you...a doctor?"

His face transformed into genuine surprise before shaking his head slightly with a small grin. "I've been called many things but a doctor, unfortunately, is not one of them."

"I see." The Soldier's head spun with the information. If it was the Doctor, then he would have claimed that title instantly in his usual gregarious manner, so why were her Senses still humming? Maybe, it was because they were at the centre of the time disruptions? Or perhaps the Doctor was deep undercover? A prickle of irritation swept through her before Saxon's voice interrupted her thoughts.

"So what can I do for you Miss Red?"

"I need information about Dr. Lazarus's experiments. There was a large incident due to his mistakes."

"Well, yes I was told something terrible happened. Please, if you would follow me to my office." The man gave a pretentious twirl, before giving her a bow that almost seemed to mock her.

She followed him quietly, observing him closely as he led the way to his office. She was surprised to find him giving her evaluating looks, a look of cold calculation in his eyes whenever he turned around to ensure she was following.

He opened the door to a spacious room decorated in beige and black furniture. A wide black desk spanned out across the centre of the room while full glass windows decorated the back, giving a clear view into London streets. A thick black leather chair sat at one end while two plastic chairs sat at another.

Saxon smiled invitingly and gestured to the plastic chairs before settling slowly into his leather chair, his fingers clasped together in front of his face.

The Soldier gave him an assessing look then remained standing.

"So how can I help you Miss Red from Torchwood?" He intoned mockingly.

The Soldier weighed her words carefully. His room, his false demeanour and the look in his eyes said more about him than words ever could.

"I need the details for the Lazarus experiment; who authorised it, what it entailed and where it went wrong."

"Well, don't take this the wrong way... Shouldn't Torchwood already have all these details? Why are you here asking it of me?" Saxon sent her a calculating look and the Soldier felt a spike of fear that she'd been discovered.

"You're the sponsor, so you get these questions. Are you telling me you've never faced an investigation before, Mr. Saxon?" The Soldier retorted doubtfully.

He laughed, "Well, that's what I get for being precocious. I'll certainly cooperate with you, Red." He tapped out a rhythm as he spoke and the Soldier was discomfited when she realised she recognised it.

Thum. Thuddum. Thummm. Thudum.

"...caused a mutation in his genetic makeup, forcing the recessive genes to the front. I hope you got all that," he smiled smugly as he noticed her distraction, " I don't want to be blamed because you weren't paying attention."

The Soldier glared at him in rebuke, having absorbed his words despite her distraction.

"I need the records, observations, machines and anything else you may have of this experiment. It's too dangerous to have them lying around."

"Well, nothing useful came out of the experiment except for a man devolving to a lizard, so please feel free. Even the Lazarus machine malfunctioned after some doctor took it apart." He gave her a dismissive shrug, his hand suddenly hiding his mouth. The Soldier had the distinct feeling that he was laughing at her.

"That changes nothing. That knowledge is too dangerous for humans and needs to be confiscated." The Soldier thought quickly through the facts presented to her. Living forever, even deaging was impossible, unless you were a Time Lord. This technology was far too advanced for this timeline and she needed to see who had presented this idea. These were experiments that Time Lords had done in the early ages after they had discovered the Time Vortex. Humans were centuries away from such developments.

"Where did Dr. Lazarus's inspiration come from?"

"Well, it's hard to say. After all that extra-terrestrial activity of the last few years, the mortality of us humans, became a huge concern and I had an idea. Lazarus seemed to have the intelligence and theoretical knowledge required to follow it through." He gave a modest shrug, shaking his head sadly as he continued, "Not one of my better ideas, I must admit."

"Where were you at the time of the incident?" She asked coldly, disbelieving his entire demeanour. Everything he did, either by design or subconscious, seemed to mock her.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't in London when all this was happening, I only found out two-no-three days ago. I had to compile all that data and make sure it wouldn't get stolen. It's useless now anyways." He took out a folder out from his desk and waved it around before throwing it carelessly on top.

"Where were you when all this was happening?" She repeated.

"Somewhere far, far away." He grinned at her. He got up, circling the desk before resting his arm intimately around her shoulder, his fingers tapping that rhythm again, right next to her ear.

Thum. Thuddum. Thummm. Thudum.

The Soldier shook his arm off, growing angry at herself for fixating on the earworm. She forcibly threw the compulsion of the earworm away. Earworms were pranks that children played on Gallifrey, making people do silly things under its compulsion. It was child's play to dismiss its compulsion. For a Time Lord.

She glared at him in annoyance and he pouted in mock hurt.

"You're kind of interesting, aren't you? I can't say what it is, but there's something special about you."

The Soldier was unnerved by his inflection. There was something about the man that was setting off her danger alarms. She couldn't shake off the feeling that there was something wrong with him. What human would be so comfortable when an investigative officer arrived to interrogate them? He was too confident, too secure in his position. This wasn't the Doctor. No reincarnation of his would be like this, so dismissive, mocking and arrogant. So casually cruel.

"Is there any other similar projects you're sponsoring? Actually Torchwood would like a copy of all your sponsorships."

"You don't have to worry about that." He waved his arm dismissively, settling back down on his chair. "After the disaster with Lazarus, we're no longer interested in scientific sponsorships. At least for the time being."

"And I'm just supposed to take your word on that?" The Soldier countered. She watched him tap out that rhythm on the desk again.

"Yes! Please do! But let it not be said that I wasn't as helpful as possible." He smiled and the Soldier wasn't sure if he was being sincere or not. "I've heard rumours about someone experimenting with time travel. You hear stories like this all the time, of course, but apparently Dr Lazarus's rival, Dr. Murral couldn't bear being left behind in the dust after the recent breakthroughs made by Dr. Lazarus. Is that interesting enough for you, officer of Torchwood?"

"As much as I appreciate your warning, I still need a list of all your sponsorships. This is not up for debate."

"Well then, I'll be direct. No. That's not up for debate." Saxon gave her a hard smile, daring her to challenge him.

"Mr. Saxon, you have been directly involved in one catastrophic incident and have knowledge of another potential incident. You are under obligation to provide all relevant information to help our investigation."

"See, I'm beginning to doubt this is a proper investigation. Torchwood agents are usually assigned as pairs and here you are, alone. Not only that, all the information you gained was provided by me. I'm not stupid Miss Red, you had no prior knowledge about the Lazarus case before coming into this room." He got up and leaned across the desk, giving her a threatening, almost eager look. "Who are you, Miss Red? Quickly now, before I call security."

She had been discovered. How? Her acting may have had a few flaws but her experience in the field should have made it foolproof. Now there were only two options before her. Admit defeat, or deny, deny and deny.

"I am security Mr. Saxon." The Soldier stood up in retaliation. "And it's exceedingly clear that you'll invent ridiculous lies in order to avoid presenting your sponsorship list. I will ask you one more time before the choice is taken away from you. And then we'll book you under obstruction of justice. Only decency is prompting me to give you the illusion of choice Mr. Saxon."

"You're good. Really, really good. If I had been anyone else, you would have fooled me." Saxon began, circling the table slowly. The Soldier backed away slowly, unable to dismiss her growing fear. He was bluffing, bluffing!

He backed her until she collapsed onto one of the plastic chairs.

"Now, out with it Red. Because I know you're lying. I have close ties with the Secretary of Defense, and I'm in the running for the next PM candidate. Come on now," He tapped that horrible rhythm directly onto her arm whilst giving her a maniac smile, "You know you want to tell me. You trust me. What exactly do you want from me? I might even grant it to you, if you're a good obedient girl. Hmm?"

The Soldier wrenched her gaze from his maniac smile and looked into his eyes, unable to believe his audacity. Their eyes met and she didn't know if it was the proximity, or the direct skin contact but for a second it was as if there was a foreign presence in her mind. It was but for a scant second, her Time Lord brain too broken to sustain any presence but her own. But it was enough; this man had hypnotic powers...almost as if...he were...a..

It couldn't be. It's wishful thinking. Every telepathic alien isn't a potential Time Lord.

Her body reacted and a moment later he was face down on the desk, his arm bent behind his back at breaking point. When in doubt, a demonstration of force was the best solution.

"Concede. Or else."

Saxon started laughing maniacally, disregarding the pressure on his arm as he shook in laughter.

"After all the people I've been looking for and here you are for a fake investigation." Suddenly Saxon jerked his twisted arm back and jumped back, trying to unsettle the Soldier by backing her into the arm of the plastic chair. Her grip loosened slightly and that was all he needed to push her face first onto the desk, twisting both her arms behind her back, locking her legs with his.

"You concede, or else."

The Soldier felt her back vibrate with his laughter and she lay in stunned shock that she'd been physically overpowered. She might have been out of shape, but that didn't change centuries of inbuilt muscle and mental memory.

Her, one of the last Time Lords, the last Gallifreyan soldier, conceding? To a psychopath?

Never.

She jolted her head back for a headbutt and missed but just as she'd done, he loosened his grip, allowing her to twist a little before stomping on his shins brutally. He collapsed, holding his legs tightly to himself as he crawled away from her.

"I really am out of shape. Me, the Master, brought to life to end the Time War, and here I am, crawling in front of a thing like you."

The Soldier, caught in the haze of battle, froze as she registered his words.

"What did you just say?"

"Finally came back to your senses, have you, my violent Time Lady?" He clenched his shins before standing up shakily. "Will you stop now?"

He observed her dumbfounded look and smirked, "Yes, my thoughts exactly. I was wondering why the hypnosis wasn't taking, how could I have guessed it was because you were a Time Lady? Though, by convention, we should have just known."

His smirk grew as he saw her jaw open slightly as if to respond, but closed again.

"So, officer, want to take a seat? Want to resume your investigation?"

The Soldier's head spun. There was another Time Lord that wasn't the Doctor. A Time Lord from the Last War, someone who could probably tell her what had actually happened on Gallifrey. The Master...why was his title sending danger bells through her? The Master, wasn't there rumours circulating about him? About how he'd looked into the Vortex and turned crazy, always claiming that he could hear something that no one else could? He was also known to have a love-hate relationship with...the Doctor...he was known as a nuisance among Time Lords, doing as he pleased for conquest and his one upmanship against the Doctor. He was a Time Lord who loved to be in command but was, unfortunately, a horrible leader, too narcissistic to lead or profit anyone but himself. And this correlated with her own observation of him, his language, his demeanour, even his room spoke of this desire to dominate.

But...

There was someone else….

It wasn't just the Doctor and her. Now there was one more Time Lord.

And if her Senses were accurate before, he had his own TARDIS.

She wasn't trapped on Earth anymore. Not if she had anything to say about it.

This wasn't going to be like last time, with the Doctor. She wouldn't let him dominate her, she'd be upfront about who she was, from the beginning. And considering his history, she might need to undertake a bit of precaution, but she knew she could make it work.

She wasn't going to be alone anymore. Not if she had anything to say about it.

She shook herself out of her stupor as the Master waited, seated patiently behind his desk, and made her way to one of the plastic chairs.

"So I think we started off on the wrong foot," the Master began cheerfully, leaning forward eagerly, "now since you were so eager with your questions earlier, I'll humour them. Anything you want to ask?"

"How," the Soldier swallowed, trying to get rid of her dry throat and attaining her composure, "How are you still alive? Do you know what happened to Gallifrey? Exactly what happened?"

"Well, I am the Master. The council brought me back to life, to fight in the Time War. I received elite training but I was there. I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. There was nothing I could do, so I did the only thing I could. I survived. The Daleks set out to find me, hunted me down, so I went to the only place I could, to the End. The End of All Things. You?"

"I was banished from Gallifrey, a few centuries into the War. I did something the Council and Rassillion didn't like, and I was exiled under the threat of execution if I returned."

"That's pretty harsh, even for them. What did you do? What do you do?"

The Soldier sighed, "I am Red Alpha, classified as the Soldier. Punishments by the Army Council aren't as lenient as the others."

The Master whistled, "Isn't betrayal or going against Rassilion classed as execution by the Army Council? Seems like they were plenty lenient to me…"

"So what happened? How did it happen?"

"How did what happen?"

"Why did Gallifrey go?"

"I don't know. I was hoping you could tell me."

The Soldier slumped back in defeat, closing her eyes before remembering her goal.

She opened her eyes and was discomfited by the weighing look in his eyes as he looked her up and down.

"Do you have a TARDIS?"

"...Depends."

"On what?"

"Why you're asking." The Master smiled, "I'm not a generous man, Red. I don't like to share, especially not TARDISes. But since it's you, I might make an exception. So, what do you want it for?"

The Soldier analysed him, knowing that she should doubt his sincerity, but he was...he didn't seem like he was lying.

But she'd stepped on eggshells with the Doctor before, and it had gotten her nothing. She could be upfront with the Master, and it seemed like he'd appreciate it, ironic though it was, judging from his title.

"I'll be straight with you. I want to get away. From Earth. From humans. I've been here for too long."

"Oh. Well, that's unfortunate. I can't actually travel anywhere with my TARDIS right now, at least nowhere except here and the End of the Universe." He shrugged nonchalantly, relaxing into his chair.

"That's odd. Did you lock your coordinates?" She asked, puzzled.

"Yep, just a malfunction."

"But it can easily be fixed-"

" I know, fix the trachoid crystal into the Septa Chamber and reset the entire mechanism. Unfortunately, the reset mechanism is controlled remotely."

"But there is a reset mechanism in the main console room, just isomorphically controlled. There shouldn't be a problem."

The Master glared at her in annoyance, "Like I said, a malfunction."

She gave him a look. Was he saying….did he steal someone's... it really didn't matter anymore, did it? It was just them now and if he'd been able to salvage a TARDIS or save one or even steal one before they'd all been destroyed... that was resourceful, wasn't it? That was Doctor 101.

"There is a way to fix it. That's what I have Dr. Murral working on. I actually don't have the time to sit and experiment so I passed all my theories to scientists here so they can do the grunt work for me."

"So, you did employ Dr. Murral then?" the Soldier stated dryly, "What are you having him do?"

"Well, the previous owner of the TARDIS left a hand behind, so I'm having the scientist re-energize the trachoid crystal so that the TARDIS recognizes me as the owner instead of the previous one."

"Left a hand behind, did he?" Her eyebrows were reaching her hair in shock. Did he think she was stupid?

"It wasn't me. I swear it. His body part was lying there when I came in." He corrected, aware that he had been implying that he'd killed another Time Lord just to get his hands on a TARDIS. Which, to be honest, wasn't the wrong impression.

"So will you help me?" The Master had an entreating expression on his face, leaning towards her, "I know we started off badly, but I'm genuinely glad that I found you. Will you help me?"

"What will I get out of it?"

"Well, that's obvious, isn't it? It's just you and me now. We only have each other. Unless you know any other Time Lords that are still jumping around?" He paused, waiting for her to fill it with a yes, but she remained silent, "You and I are a team now."

"And how do I know that you won't just disappear on me the moment your TARDIS is fixed?" She asked critically.

"Well, that's upto you. What should I do to convince you?" He leaned back, tossing his legs over the table.

"Imprint my signature onto the TARDIS trachoid crystal too. That'll make me part owner."

The Master grinned and nodded without hesitation. "Done."

"Then it's a pleasure to do business with you." The Soldier said, barely speaking through her shock. She hadn't expected this to be so easy. The Master, as he had also admitted, didn't like sharing yet he was ready to share ownership of his stolen TARDIS? That...was incomprehensible.

He...had to be lying.

Unless…

He was genuinely pleased to see another surviving Time Lord. That wasn't an impossible notion to grasp. Thinking you were the last of your kind changed you...and the notion that one of us would always be able to find the other through this TARDIS was an appealing thought. Especially since TARDISes were linked intrinsically to their owners.

Like the humans said, it was best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"Then please get the trachoid crystal functional and erase the previous biological imprint. I know I can trust you to handle and ensure there are no more temporal disruptions. Those trachoid crystals can be so tetchy."

"And why won't you be helping?"

"Because I have other business."

The Soldier stared pointedly at him, "Why are you getting involved in human politics?"

"Just...boredom. Plus it's astonishing how much trouble the human race can get into. Did you know, just the other day I had to issue orders to get rid of a Racnoss ship? A racnoss ship! They've been extinct since the Dark Times. It's exciting." The Master grinned, shooting her a wink.

"Another wannabe soldier, huh?" The Soldier teased.

"I'm not a soldier. I'm more of a commanding officer." He denied petulantly.

"Still not a good reason to skip out on TARDIS repairs." She raised an eyebrow in reproach.

"Yeah, about that, I'll be monitoring the TARDIS. You'll be working with the trachoid crystal. Fair trade isn't it? Because even I can't trust that you won't take off with the TARDIS once you're done imprinting onto the crystal."

The Soldier paused then nodded reluctantly, "Fair enough."

"Now, out. I have work to do." He waved her out dismissively and the Soldier felt a wave of irritation at the act.

"Since this is long term, I need a place to stay."

The Master looked at her confused, before an undecipherable look passed through his features followed by glee, "Sure, sure. My human companion, Vivian, show her this," the Master passed her a card, "she'll sort it all out."

The Soldier felt a genuine smile take over her features. Despite all of his eccentricities, the Master had been a lot more helpful than the Doctor had ever been.

"Thank you, Master. I am glad that I found you." She extended her hand with a warm smile.

"Me too. And I like it when you call me Master." He gave her a wink as he extended his arm. As he held it, he pulled her into his arms and held her loosely as he whispered into her ears,

"This is the beginning of better times. I'll bring about the best of times as the Master."

AN: Thank you!

Who can guess what's coming up next? Who does/doesn't believe the Master? What relationship do you think they're going to develop?

Please review!