Author's Note: Don't ask me why but I seem to be on a Timey-Whimey kick recently as well as going through a slight infatuation with the Master. Although to be truthful, I've always had that, as never was there a better nemesis for the Doctor, at least in my eyes.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to Dr. Who.

"So, how long will you be gone?" asks Rose as she holds onto the console, more for support than for balance.

"About six hours," replies the Master, trying to make it sound as if it wouldn't be more than a few minutes. He takes in her anxious gaze and deathlike grip on the edge of the console while she desperately does her best to appear relaxed.

"You know I wouldn't even consider leaving you alone with him if we didn't need the mercury so badly," he explains with overwhelming guilt, even though it's no one's fault except for the Doctor's own carelessness. He has no idea how a man who tinkers so much with his TARDIS can so easily miss such crucially needed repairs.

She does her best to smile and fails miserably. "I know, it's not your fault, it's like you said…the fluid link has a huge gash in it. If you hadn't discovered it in time, all of the mercury would have leaked out and we would have been stuck in this sector of the universe." She sighs heavily. "We were really lucky to be so close to a planet that has such large stores of mercury."

"Yeah, lucky," he grouses, "so lucky that the nearest planet contains an atmosphere that's completely toxic to humans." He stares at her forlornly and offers, "Rose, you don't have to do this alone, I can stay until we've both given him his lunch."

"It's alright," she assures him with a slight tremor in her voice. "I can do this." When he still appears reluctant to leave her, she insists, "Honestly, love, I'll be fine." In a firmer tone, "I'm definitely ready for this."

Now he's the one to clutch the console for support as he shuts his eyes tight and takes a deep breath. Rose slowly heads over to him and trails the back of her fingers along his jaw in a loving caress. "I'll be fine, Master, I promise."

"Fine!" he growls out before he grips her arms and jerks her in front of him. "But be careful, never let your guard down for a second and don't go anywhere near him!" She nods silently and he adds, "And remember how much I love you."

"Always," she whispers back. He hauls her to him and gives her a searing kiss, one full of possession and punishment, almost as if he were marking her as his more than kissing her goodbye. The punishment she senses she knows is aimed at himself and not her, so she does what she always has for him, she attempts to make him better.

Rose draws him tighter against her, pouring all the love and faith that she has for him into this last moment before he has to leave her. Her end of the kiss is just as forceful, making her own mark on him declaring him hers as much as she is his, as they always will be.

She pulls back only when the need for air is too great and he places a kiss at her temple and vows, "I'll be back as soon as I can," before striding to the doors and walking out of the TARDIS.

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Rose places her hand against the door of the Doctor's cell, and hearing the click of the lock, pushes the door open and enters the room.

He's already sitting up, hands linked behind his head and looking for all the world as if he were casually sitting on the jump seat waiting for her to come out so that they could start out on one of their adventures.

"Hello," he whispers softly. "The TARDIS has informed me that the Master has left the TARDIS. Where's he off to then?"

She goes off to the side of the room where his table is that she leaves his meals on. The TARDIS always lengthens his chains once she leaves the room but for now, he remains tethered on the bench safely away from Rose. "The mercury is leaking out of the fluid link; he's went to go find some more to replenish it."

"Ah, yes," he muses as he stares up at the ceiling. "I'm sorry about that old girl; I've been meaning to fix it. Careening through the void must have punctured it during the crash."

He watches her closely as she sets out his food and makes his tea and murmurs, "So…we're alone then." He suddenly pops up into a full sitting position and chirps, "Great! Now you can release me!"

She doesn't even turn around but she doesn't need to for him to hear the pity radiating from her voice. "That's not going to happen, Doctor, not until we can cure you of this madness."

"And how long will that be?" he questions petulantly as he leans back against the wall.

"I don't know," she replies softly as she turns to face him, her tone full of sorrow. "But I'm not giving up on you, not until you're better."

"You made me better once, Rose Tyler," he recalls fondly as he stares at the wall opposite his bunk." His head swivels around and he pins her with a heated gaze. "You also gave up on me once." He stands and straightens to his full height and warns, "So as a man who doesn't believe in second chances, I'm going to be incredibly generous right now and offer you one last chance. Let me go."

"I wish I could, Doctor," mourns Rose, "I really, really do."

"Actually," his voice growing cold, "that should be 'Your wish is my command', don't you remember? But no matter!" he exclaims cheerfully as his mania returns and he returns to his seat on the bench. He stares at her and urges, "Come closer, Rose, I want to show you something."

She offers a snort of disgust before inquiring indulgently, "Like what, Doctor?" She averts her eyes while she remains in her spot, leery of the answer that she'll give him but awaiting it nonetheless. She knows better than to walk away from him while he's the Time Lord Victorious; he views it as taunting while she sees it as self-preservation. The Master has had to pull her back from him more than once when he strained at his bonds in attempt to reach her, always for a different reason. Sometimes apologetically, sometimes with excitement or depression, but usually…usually out of downright fury or sometimes even passion. Rose can't help shuddering at the last memory when he was actually able to seize her, promising his own brand of forever. And it had seemed like forever, forever before the Master could remove the Doctor's hands from around her neck.

She unconsciously rubs at her neck in recollection and the Doctor mocks, "I'm so sorry for that Rose, but it's not as if I can go out and buy you a necklace to remember me by, is it?" She stands her ground and glares at this man, this complete stranger to her and for the first time, she begins to wonder if she will ever truly see her Doctor again.

"Well, anyway," he states dismissively, "it's time to show you my latest magic trick!"

"What magic trick?" she asks wearily, trying to speed up his delivery so that she can escape the room as soon as possible.

"This one!" he cries as he lifts both hands into the air. "See? Nothing up my sleeves!" he shows her as he tugs his shirtsleeves down his arms one at a time. His voice changes to a darker tone and if she had to describe it further, almost deadly. "And that includes the manacles that you had me shackled with, Rose Tyler."

Her eyes widen in sudden realization that the Doctor is indeed free and she needs no taunt or threat from him to know that he is coming after her. Perhaps in that one moment, he realizes it as well because she catches one last brief glimpse of her old Doctor as he stares at her wild-eyed with rage while clutching the bench he still sat on if to hold himself back. He growls one word to her and she follows his instruction as swiftly as she did regardless of which of his incarnations had uttered it. "Run."