Martha and Mickey Smith-Jones were celebrating their first anniversary with a picnic in the countryside, out under the stars. "Did I tell you about the time Rose and me were with him and we went on this 51st century spaceship and there were portals to 18th century France all over the place?"
Martha took another sip of champagne and laughed. "What on earth for?"
"There were these mental robots stalking Madame du Pompadour. They wanted to use her brain for their computer." Mickey lay back on the grass, marveling once again at how such a beautiful, brave, and intelligent woman had come to be his wife – though according to her the pressure of keeping her past with the Doctor and her work for UNIT and Torchwood secret had been too much of a strain on her relationship with Tom.
"Did I tell you that one of Shakespeare's sonnets was written for me?"
"You mean only one of them was?"
Then a very, very familiar sound reverberated across the hillside. Both of them jumped to their feet. They knew the Doctor would not be the one they had known.
"Blimey Doctor, you look younger than me," Mickey blurted out the moment he stepped out.
"Come ten more years and you'll be jealous," the Doctor said with a grin, shaking his hand. "Martha!"
She ran to him for a hug. "We were so worried about you. We knew you were going to change."
"I wasn't too thrilled about it, but this body's really grown on me. Think I'm still a looker?"
"If I wasn't worried about getting arrested, yes," she said, teasing.
"I came for a reason. Someone's here to apologize." The Doctor stuck his head back inside the TARDIS. "It's okay! Come out."
The Master emerged timidly, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt. Martha gasped and backed away. "Is that Harold Saxon? I thought he was dead," Mickey said, confused.
"Mickey, this is my old friend-lover-enemy-friend-enemy-captor-enemy-cautious ally-enemy-captor-enemy-prisoner-friend-lover, the Master."
"You live long enough, your relationships can get really complicated," The Master murmured, looking at his shoes. He took the Doctor's hand as if for comfort.
"He's the only other Time Lord in existence, and he's here to say something to Martha. Yes, he was supposed to be dead, but he's awfully good at coming back. This time he has agreed to stay with me." The Doctor nudged him. "Go on."
The Master cleared his throat. "Martha Jones, I know that nothing I can say would ever be remotely adequate, but I'm sorry for what I did to you, your family, and the human race. And I promise I will never hurt the Doctor again."
"What did you do to him?" Martha asked the Doctor, but in a questioning rather than accusing way.
"What did the Master do in the first place?"
"I'll explain later, Mickey."
"He fixed me," the Master said. Then he squeezed the Doctor's hand and returned to the TARDIS.
"It wasn't the easiest process," the Doctor admitted, "but it had to be done."
"Are you happy, Doctor?"
He smiled just like her Doctor had. "Yes, Martha. Very much." He hugged the two of them goodbye.
Wilf immediately ran to the sound of the TARDIS. "You're alive, Doctor!" His face fell when he saw the Doctor's new self.
The Doctor put an arm around his shoulders. "Cheer up, Wilf. It was a good way to go, and I'm just as handsome, if not more. The TARDIS is redecorated too. I think you'll find it cleaner."
"It's like a café!" Wilf said as he viewed the console room. Then he spotted the Master crouched on a stairwell, reading a book. "What's he doing here?"
"I found the Master again and we…discussed things. He's my passenger now. Come shake hands with Wilf, Master."
"I am truly sorry for turning everyone into clones of myself and attempting to have my clones eat your granddaughter," the Master said slowly as he came forward.
"How did you…how has he changed?"
"It's been how long for you since those events?" the Doctor asked.
"For us it's been twenty. A lot can happen in twenty years."
Wilf reluctantly allowed the Master to shake his hand. "Don't you dare hurt the Doctor again, or anyone else for that matter."
"I mostly stay on the TARDIS these days," the Master said. "May I go to my room?"
"Go on ahead." As the meek form receded into the catacombs of the TARDIS, the Doctor put a hand on either side of Wilf's shoulders. "How's Donna?"
"Rich, but you know that. She's been doing a lot of charity work; she's very good at bullying people to donate."
"That's my Donna."
Wilf smiled. "She's expecting. If it's a boy she wants to name him John Temple-Noble and if it's a girl she wants to name her Martha Rose Temple-Noble. She has no idea why."
The Doctor sighed and gave Wilf a hug. "Give Sylvia my regards."
"You did something to his mind, didn't you? He's been with you twenty years but he was evil for hundreds."
"I had to. It was the only way. He was too dangerous."
Wilf nodded. "That wasn't a great thing to do, but I don't see how you could have solved the problem without killing him either. I feel for you, having to make choices like that."
"It's…I…at least someone speaks my language, you know? Someone remembers me from before I ever stole this TARDIS."
"You stole it?"
"They were going to junk her. It was more like salvaging. Hello, saved the Earth, several planets, and occasionally the whole of reality how many times now? Sometimes you have to do something that's sort of bad to preserve something special."
Wilf laughed and thumped the Doctor on the back. "Promise me you'll pick up someone else to travel with, though. Not just him. It's not going to be good for you only keeping company with someone who does everything you say."
"You know me too well. Yes. I promise. I have someone – well, two someones – in mind."
"God bless you, sir."
"You too, Wilfred Mott."
"Tell me," the Doctor asked Amy when he stepped out of the TARDIS to find her and Rory standing on the lawn with fully packed suitcases in the middle of the night, "how much did I overshoot this time?"
"It's been three days, Doctor."
"How long did I say I was going to be gone?"
Rory said, "Two weeks. So…you actually messed up the right way this time."
"Three days." He massaged his temples. "It's been a bit longer for me. Doing this whole disproportionate thing in reverse. Still, you're both all packed and ready."
Amy noted the faint creases around his eyes, and she knew that Time Lords aged more slowly than humans even without changing. "How long?"
"Twenty years. It took a while to rehabilitate my friend. He's going to be traveling with us, if you don't mind. Come on inside, and we'll make introductions."
"Oh my God, it's Harold Saxon. How do you have Harold Saxon in your space ship?" Rory gasped.
"How do you even know what Harold Saxon looked like? He was in office for about a week before he died, and that was when we were kids."
"I did a report on him in school, okay?"
"That was an alias to try and take over the world," the black-clad man with short brown hair, about the same height and heft as the Doctor, with the face of the old Prime Minister. "Don't worry, I'm not interested in doing things like that anymore."
"Amy, Rory, this is the Master, and yes, he is a Time Lord like me, I know how I said I was the only one left but he turned out to have survived. Then he died, but then he came back, and then he disappeared, and when I sent you two home it was because I found him again. I had to make sure it would be safe for you to be around him."
"We were friends when we were children, and then enemies for several hundred years, and now we're...am I allowed to say it?"
The Doctor smiled and pulled the Master in for a kiss.
Rory nudged Amy and whispered, "You know, if you'd said something about this earlier I would have been a lot less jealous."
"He's definitely interested in some women; this is a surprise to me too. At least he can't yell at us anymore for shagging on his ship."
"Anyway! If you'd like to start up again where we left off, I'm happy to have you two aboard. Adventuring and so on. The Master generally doesn't go anywhere because a lot more people want to kill him than want to kill me, yes, I can see your faces. I know that's hard to believe."
"Okay. But only for a while, then we have to get back to our lives," Rory said.
"At some point we'll want to start a family."
"I think I'll go to our room, Doctor," the Master said quietly, hurrying away.
"Be patient with him, humans make him nervous now."
Rory took up the bags and headed for his and Amy's room. "You two catch up. I'll get our things settled."
"Why do you look sad underneath all your smiling, Doctor?" Amy asked, touching his cheek.
"I wish I hadn't been forced to do everything I did to save him," he said with a great sigh.
"What would have happened otherwise?"
"He would have eaten a lot of people alive and possibly conquered a few civilizations – he had this disease, it made him really hungry and super-strong – or he would be keeping me prisoner, or he'd be dead."
She rubbed his back. "You made the best of a bad situation, Doctor."
"Yeah. Why don't you help Rory? I'll look up a bunch of places and times we might enjoy."
"You can just say 'I'd like to be alone,' if you'd like to be alone."
"I just want to check on him, make sure he's handling your presence okay."
"You like your pets better than me," the Master growled at him from his side of the bed when the Doctor entered. He was hugging his knees and staring at the wall.
"Master, I spent twenty years with only you. I sent them away so I could save you. But if it's just the two of us forever and ever, I'm going to start thinking I can change the world however I like. Then I'd eventually be as bad as you were. And you'd go down with me."
The Doctor sat beside him and stroked his cheek. "They're very nice and they've never been affected by you, unless you count the Year they don't remember. You don't have to have dinner with us or anything like that. They're not going to hurt you."
"But they've never done you wrong. I have."
"I will never leave you," and then he said the Master's real name, not "Koschei" the schoolboy nickname, but his true, original name known only by his parents and the Doctor (the Master never married another of their kind, and his relationship with Lucy was hardly loving).
The Master said the Doctor's real name back, and pulled him down onto the bed by the bowtie. "If you really love me, you'll let them wait."
"They know where all the rooms are. They can go swimming or something."
"If you really really love me, you'll let me get out the handcuffs."
The Doctor knew he was going to get into some kind of relationship with River Song at some future point, but as far as he was aware she could be okay with sharing. She was from the 51st century after all. He wasn't going to let his and Jack's hard work go to waste.
Later, panting and most pleasantly exhausted, the Doctor asked, "Do you forgive me?"
A long pause. The Master nestled more closely against the Doctor's smooth flesh. "I miss the confidence I had, and how everything was simple and I could just do what I felt like without considering moral consequences. And I don't like being ashamed of what I've done and not being able to face Earth people and other species from planets I've affected. But I don't miss fighting you. And I want to be here, now, with you."
Author's note: I really like this 'verse I've created. I may have to write a fic concerning the twenty years alluded to with just the Doctor and the Master (and occasionally awkward!Jack), and maybe a short OT4 with Amy and Rory – my favorite Companion Couple – and definitely finding out what River Song thinks of all this. GERONIMO!