Sestrin poured his morning glass of mara juice and took it to the table. He read over the morning news as he took his first sip. Suddenly the words on the page began to blur and he felt his throat begin to close up.
"Hello father." The Master stepped out of a corner on the far side of the room.
"Son!" gasped Sestrin. "Help me."
"You know, I searched for decades for what killed my mother. Before she died she was nursing a tree in the public gardens. A willow tree, from Earth."
"You see, what I didn't know is that she always gave you samples of her plants for your chemistry experiments." He held up a vial. "This simple little extract from the bark of that tree is what you found. It seems so innocent, doesn't it? They use it to cure headaches on Earth. Put it in a medicine called aspirin. But to Time Lords?" he tutted. "Absolutely toxic. It even prevents regeneration. You gave mother small doses over the course of a week. Made it look like an illness. That's the difference between you and me. I'm much more efficient. I laced your glass with a very high concentration. You'll be dead any second now."
"Please…I'm you're father."
"And I am the Master!" He held his father's gaze until the life left his eyes and he fell to the ground.
The Master watched the funeral proceedings with delight. As he watched the pyre burn he felt the Doctor come up behind him. "Lovely to see you, Doctor."
"You've regenerated again."
"Each body is stronger than the last."
"I know it was you," he said solemnly.
"The council will never be able to prove it."
"Speaking of the council, they've approached me with regards to you. They've noticed the trouble you've been causing and deemed me the most appropriate candidate to stop you."
"So you're to be their dog now? Whenever I muck about in time and space, they'll sic you on me? You'd never agree to that."
"I already have."
"Really? That's not the Doctor I know."
"I have a son to worry about now. I've changed."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"I thought you deserved fair warning." And with that, the Doctor left.
The Doctor watched the funeral proceedings trying to maintain composure. The pyres were burning, but there were no bodies on them. His son and daughter-in-law's bodies were never recovered from the vortex. He gripped Susan's hand tighter. Beyond the pyre he could see the Master. He put away his surprise that he would risk returning to Gallifrey and knelt down to Susan. "Sweetheart, you go with Shadra back to the house. I'll join you in a moment."
"What are you doing here?" he asked when he reached the Master.
"I heard about your loss. I'm sorry."
"Don't Mock me! He was my son!"
"I'm not mocking you," he said sincerely. "I'm truly sorry. I wouldn't wish the loss of a child on anyone."
The Doctor was taken aback. For a moment it was like he was Koschei again. "Why are you saying this?"
"We were friends once. If I can't offer condolences to an old friend in a time like this, then I am truly a monster."
The Doctor held his gaze for a moment and memories of better times flashed through his head. "Get off of Gallifrey before someone sees you. There's talk of locking you up and forced regeneration."
"Until we meet again, Doctor."
The Doctor ran with Susan's hand in his. They needed to find somewhere to hide. His uncle will have recovered from his regeneration now and fingered him as the culprit. It was self defense, but it was his word against Modrem's and no one would believe him. They ducked into a shipyard and found themselves in a room full of ancient TARDISes ready to be decommissioned. The Doctor heard noises outside and ushered Susan into an old Type 40 TARDIS.
"We should be safe in here."
"Oh, Grandfather, look at this old thing. Isn't it charming?"
The Doctor looked around. It would be a travesty to decommission this. He touched the consol and it came alive. He felt a bond forming with it, no, her. "She's the most beautiful thing I've ever known."
Suddenly he raced around the controls.
"Grandfather, what are you doing?"
Susan was silent for a moment. Then she said, "We can never come home again, can we?"
"Maybe someday, my dear. Maybe someday." It was strange. All those years chasing the Master and now he was the fugitive. Maybe next time they met they could find common ground in that. Now, though, they were off, into time and space. And nothing would ever be the same again.
- THE END -