The Doctor spent little over a month worrying, despite his many assurances of the contrary to Jo. The Brigadier thankfully had much more sense, simply leaving the Doctor to potter around his lab so long as there were no more accidental explosions due to the aforementioned 'not worrying'. It wasn't like there was anything he could do, to be honest. It wasn't like he really had any reason to care anymore either - if he was going to follow those lines - but confound it, the Master had no right to disappear after sustaining a major head wound. Especially not while the Doctor been otherwise distracted by a giant cephalopod that was on its way to destroy South Hampton.
That happened to be the thought that lead him to crossing just the wrong wires and creating another mini-explosion, much to the Brigadier's annoyance. After a sound lecture on paying attention to what he was doing (which the Doctor only mostly pretended to pay attention to, after chiding Jo that she needed to listen when her commanding officer was speaking), the Doctor didn't fail to eavesdrop when the Brigadier rather angrily ordered Benton to resume a thorough search of Great Britain for the Master's whereabouts. He also didn't fail to see the slight smile on the Brigadier's face after Benton was dismissed, but he knew better than to comment on the fondness. It would only be denied and then he'd have to sit through yet another lecture on how UNIT resources shouldn't be wasted and they were only searching because the Master was a dangerous criminal.
And while that might very well be true, the Doctor wasn't so oblivious to not realize that the Brigadier's fondness for the men under his charge extended to him as well, despite their constant clashing. While the notion was probably slightly misplaced, as the Brigadier was probably far more concerned with getting his chief scientific adviser up to top shape again than mollifying the Doctor's concern over a one-time friend, the Doctor did appreciate the lengths these humans were willing to go to put up with his eccentricities. Most of the time. Right now if he heard one more pitying chat between Jo and Captain Yates, he might just blow up the lab on purpose.
With a sigh, the Doctor left his tinkering with the TARDIS' console and decided a nice stroll around the grounds would do him some good. At least UNIT HQ was on a beautiful little plot of land with a decent amount of trees and flowers. After about twenty minutes of walking, he came to the conclusion for the umpteenth time that the Master was perfectly capable of taking care of himself and was much harder to kill than that. It was just a matter of convincing himself that the logic was sound. Still, he had a much clearer head for the brisk walk and decided to give the console room circuits another go.
Before he could reach his lab, however, an over-excited Jo nearly ran over him. "Doctor!" she cried, grinning madly as she tugged on his hand to follow her. "They've found him! Oh, Doctor, they've found him!"
He pulled her to a halt, looking down at here with a lightly condescending expression. "Calm down, Jo. There's a good girl, don't just jump in to the end of the explanation. Who is this they've found and who exactly are 'they'?" He knew perfectly well who she was talking about and his hearts skipped a beat the second he heard her say that 'they'd found him'. However, it wouldn't do to let her know that since he'd been very insistent that no, he wasn't worrying. So he asked the obvious question and pretended that the Master wasn't all he'd been thinking about since the man had disappeared.
Unfortunately, Jo was not fooled by this tactic in the slightest. She simply gave him A Look that told him he should know better and continued dragging him onward despite his protests at the indignity of being dragged about without any knowledge of where they were going. Under normal circumstances he'd have had more than a few words with her about ignoring him, but right now he was rather more too concerned about the Master to properly keep up the charade.
Once inside the building proper, Jo led him straight to the Brigadier's office. He was only given a chance to make a brief impression who was in the room before the Brigadier accosted him. Sergent Benton and Captain Yates stood on either side of a very confused and baffled looking Master, while the Brigadier came around the desk to the Doctor. "Well, Doctor, it's about time you got back. What do you make of him?"
"My dear Lethbridge-Stewart, I've only just got here," he said, turning to take better stock of the Master.
Before he could start to question the Master, however, or even berate the idiot for making him worry, the Master's expression stopped him dead. There was no recognition in those brown eyes. Usually, the Master would be making some snide comment in reference to the hospitality or plotting some devious scheme to free himself, no doubt, but there was none of that in his eyes now. In fact, it was almost as if... "Look, would someone mind telling me what's going on?" the Master said, the bewildered expression never quite leaving his face, with a bit of... No, it couldn't be. The Master would never show fear, would he? Certainly not in front of humans. "What kind of soldiers are you, anyway? My head is fine now, thank you, and I don't need any more doctors so if you'll just tell me why I'm here..."
A sharp look from the Brigadier cut him off and all of them were surprised to see the Master shrink back slightly. Seeing the absolutely floored look on the Doctor's face, Sergent Benton stepped forward to explain. "We found him at a hospital. Says he doesn't remember anything, Sir, and the nurses there backed up his story."
"Are you sure he's the right one?" Jo asked, looking over at the Master curiously. "It's not like we haven't been wrong before. Remember the Spanish ambassador?"
This time it was Yates that spoke up, passing a few papers over to the Doctor. Medical charts, all confirming that this was indeed a Time Lord and one who was in fairly decent health despite the obvious confusion on the human doctors' part. "Doctor Thomas tried to keep us from the records, but we've confirmed it, Sir. Two hearts."
At this the Master visibly paled, looking around the room with an ever more frightened expression as he swallowed. "I don't know how that happened, but I assure you I've done nothing wrong. I don't know who this 'Master' is, but I want to be released immediately." He started to stand, but Benton and Yates took hold of his shoulders and gently pushed him back down. "I... I have rights, don't I?"
"You're all being awful about this!" Jo, by this point, was fending off both of the men and glaring at all of them with her hands on her hips. "Don't you see? Whether he's the Master or not, you're frightening him! Doctor, say something!"
The Doctor had, at this point, been trying to sort through the puzzle of the Master's reaction, the charts in front of him, and his own shock at the whole encounter. The Master not even looking his way as he entered had been a lot more cutting than the Doctor ever would have guessed and not being recognized at all... He shook himself out of the thoughts, scratching the back of his neck with a contemplative expression. "We don't know if he's faking it or not, Jo, and he could still be potentially dangerous. You said the doctor was trying to hide the files?"
Yates nodded, looking to the Brigadier for permission to continue and started explaining again once he had it. "They didn't seem to be hypnotized or anything. Actually, they all seemed genuinely concerned about him. Doctor Thomas made me promise we weren't carting him off to dissect him or anything before he let me take the Master out of the hospital."
"Good heavens," the Doctor said as the Brigadier raised his eyebrows. Dissection? The Master looked all the more panicked at the word, which lead the Doctor to add as a reassurance, "You've no fear of that happening here, old chap." Given human nature he supposed that was entirely possible, but currently UNIT was more interested in the Master for his past crimes than alien biology. Still, if he were disgusted by the natural human instinct, he had to at least applaud the people at the hospital for being better than the rest.
Leafing through the papers Yates had given him, the Doctor spotted something interesting. It was just so unlike the Master that he nearly went right back into sputtering shock, but he managed to take the new information in stride this time. "It says here that you accepted a job as a librarian at a local university... where you were going to start taking courses part time?"
The Master still looked uncomfortable and just a little frightened, but he nodded. "Yes. Doctor Thomas and Nurse Freeman thought I was good at science, so they found some funding to help me get started. They told me I'd need qualifications and that sort of thing." The latter came out more confused than anything, as if the Master still didn't understand the point but was willing to accept the logic for lack of a better option.
"You don't honestly believe this charade, Doctor?" Yates said, looking down at the Master suspiciously.
Rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, the Doctor gave the papers to Jo and kneeled next to the Master's chair. "There's one way to find out," he said, patting the now nervously fidgeting Master on the shoulder in reassurance. "Now, I promise this won't hurt a bit, dear fellow. Just going to take a look inside your memories to see if you're telling the truth."
"You can't just trust me?" the Master asked, looking very much uncomfortable.
The Doctor noticed with a bit of suspicion that the Master didn't ask how he'd be able to see into the Master's mind. Then again, it could just be the repressed memories of his own biology coming to light. The Doctor sighed, shaking his head sadly. "I'm afraid we can't. That's just the sort of person you are, unfortunately. Now hold still."
The Master looked even more uncomfortable and a touch disturbed by the knowledge, but nodded. Placing his hands over the Master's temples, the Doctor leaned in closer until their foreheads were almost touching. He felt the Master's hearts beat faster as smaller man took a sharp intake of breath, but the Doctor put that down to nerves or acting, depending on if the Master turned out to be telling the truth or not. With his eyes closed, he didn't notice the very faint blush on the Master's face, but Jo did and she had to hide a smile from the Brigadier.
Gently, the Doctor reached into the Master's mind, making sure that his intrusion was barely perceptible. Even so the Master gasped lightly, uncertainty filling his surface thoughts. The Doctor went deeper, searching for any trace of the Master's consciousness and finding only a small compartment that was sealed so tight that he couldn't pry it open without seriously hurting the Master. Opening his eyes, the Doctor leaned back and stood up, shaking his head lightly as he tried to hide the sorrow in his eyes.
"Well, Doctor?" The Brigadier asked, obviously expecting a status report.
"He's not lying," the Doctor said. "The Master must have known he'd be hit and thought it might be too damaging, so he compacted all of his memories, all of what makes him who he is, into a tight space that wouldn't be part of the impact. Like... ah..." The Doctor paused, bringing his hands up to gesture aimlessly before settling on moving his hands together in a shrinking motion. "Like making the target smaller. A smaller target is harder to hit and if he didn't have time to move out of the way completely, he could at least make sure the part of his brain with the memories wasn't hit. But now the memories are packed away so tightly that I don't think I could release them without killing him."
"So he really doesn't remember?" Jo asked.
"I'm afraid not, Jo," he replied, shaking his head lightly. Oddly enough, he found he was already missing the Master. They hadn't been friends for a couple decades now, but to have all of that erased so easily hurt quite a lot. A lot more than he was willing to admit to himself at the moment. At the same time, it was at this point in the encounter that the Doctor began to feel a little more at ease. Though he couldn't for the life of him have said why...
Jo and the Brigadier could, however, pinpointing that exact moment as when the Master's eyes started to follow the Doctor across the room. Jo managed to hide a knowing smile, while the Brigadier preferred to stick with a 'if you don't mention it, no one else will' approach. It wasn't exactly within the boundaries of polite conversation and none of the Brigadier's business who the Time Lords fancied so long as he was kept out of it. That stated, he still had a few questions about the situation that needed answering. "If he doesn't remember, then what do we do with him? Even without his memories, he's far too dangerous to let go, Doctor."
The Master looked startled at this, speaking for the first time since the Doctor had looked into his mind. "But you can't just keep me here locked up... Can you?" The latter came out almost as a plea as he glanced around the room at the unsympathetic faces. "I don't even remember doing whatever it is I'm accused of."
Unfortunately, the Brigadier was right in this case, however much it annoyed the Doctor to admit it. Even without his memories, the Master could still be dangerous. Should he by some miracle ever remember his past, they couldn't chance letting him escape. However, there was still one option that they hadn't discussed yet, one that the Doctor found he was rather pleased with. "The Brigadier is quite right. We can't have you wandering around England with or without your memories, but I don't see why we can't have you wandering here as part of the science department."
There was a wave of vocal protests, including from the Master himself, but since everyone was speaking at once the Doctor was unable to follow any of them. Finally, he raised his hands and asked for quiet which was only grudgingly given to him. "My dear Lethbridge-Stewart," he started, since the Brigadier would likely be the most important and hardest sell, "Getting through UNIT's security is child's play for someone like the Master, no matter how good it is. So he would hardly be a security risk any more than he already is and I don't see why he'd try to work against us now. I can vouch for him being discreet as well. We can keep an eye on him and I could use someone who actually knows what he's doing in the lab."
"But isn't that why I need... qualifications and the like?" the Master asked, surprising them all with a confused look on his face. The Doctor had to fight back a laugh as he went on, since it had obviously been drilled into him at the hospital. "Nurse Freeman said I couldn't be hired without them, like some kind of proof that I can do what I say I can." At this, even Jo was giggling because even without his memories the Master didn't feel like 'proving' himself was necessary so long as he could actually do whatever it was.
"I believe I can vouch for you, old chap," the Doctor said, no longer bothering to hide his amusement. It was the Master's turn to look surprised and he took the information in with an odd look on his face. "We went to the academy together."
"Surely that would work, Brigadier?" Jo put in surprisingly. Why she was being such a staunch supporter of the Master, the Doctor could hardly fathom, but it was welcome. "If the Doctor makes sure he's not getting into any trouble, then UNIT would be the safest place for him. And we can't arrest him when he doesn't remember any of what he did. That's hardly fair..."
The Brigadier was just as surprised as the Doctor by her support, but with far more idea of why. Again, however, it fell under the heading of 'none of his business and just as happy it wasn't' so he simply raised his eyebrows. "Miss Grant, fair is hardly our most pressing concern." Before the Doctor could come up with a better argument, he went on with a slightly pained tone. "If I release him into your custody, he'll be under your supervision, Doctor. I'm holding you responsible for his behavior."
"Don't I get a say in any of this?" the Master asked, bringing everyone's attention back to him as he shifted nervously.
"It's either this, Mr. Smith, or the UNIT cells." The Brigadier's tone held no room for arguments. "I believe you wanted to give us your choice in the matter?"
The Master sighed and nodded after a slight hesitation, but the Doctor's attention was on something else the Brigadier had said. He looked back at the medical charts Yates had handed to him in surprise. How had he missed that? "Mr. Smith? Not as in John Smith?" he asked with a slight groan.
Again, the Master's features settled into confusion, especially when Jo started giggling. Even the Brigadier seemed to think this was amusing. "That's just the name the doctor gave me when I said I couldn't remember my own. Is there something wrong about it?"
"I can't have you stealing my alias," the Doctor said, placing his hands on his hips as Benton joined in the amusement by laughing.
"We also can't go around calling him 'the Master' either, Sir," Yates said, the only one managing to hide his amusement at the Doctor's plight. "It'd cause an international incident if word got out that we're holding him here without imprisoning him."
A memory crossed the Doctor's mind as he looked over at the Master, who was trying to decide if it would be polite to interrupt this conversation or if it were simply better to ride out the storm. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, knowing how rarely he used the Master's current name to his face. "How does 'Koschei' sound?" he asked finally.
"Koschei..." the Master said carefully, rolling the word on his tongue as he tried the name out. He seemed pleased by the result, though the Doctor knew the real Master would have hated being reminded of that name and the betrayal that lead him to shed it.
He didn't mention that, however, instead just nodding. "It's the name you used until recently."
"Might as well," the Master said with a slight shrug, nodding his assent. The difference the name made was almost minuscule, but the Doctor could already see the bit of regained confidence in the Master's shoulders that hadn't been there a few seconds ago. Then the Master smiled and clasped his hands together as he leaned forward. "When do I start?"
* * *
Everyone was surprised at how easily the Master, or Koschei as they all called him now, fit in with UNIT affairs. Koschei didn't even seem to question his past existence, taking in the fact that he'd been a scheming villain in his stride without wondering how that would affect his current existence with UNIT trying to save the planet he'd tried to conquer before. They'd saved the world twice since they'd found him, the first time against the Sontarans and the second against a blob creature that had a fondness for velvet, much to the Doctor's dismay. Without Koschei's brilliant plan, there wasn't much doubt that there would have been a lot more lives lost. In fact, he and the Brigadier were getting along increasingly well after the initial distrust, considering the Master's lack of moral scruples with shooting first and asking later. It was that philosophy that had led him to accidentally kill a man who had been attacking the Doctor. While Koschei regretted the loss of life, it had been more for a lack of proper planning than for the actual man in question and that lack of compassion had always unsettled the Doctor.
It had actually ended with a giant row between them, but Koschei was too hard to ignore for long and he did apologize later. With a bit of help from Jo, they were now back on good terms with each other. Koschei wasn't currently in the lab, but after two months he was trusted enough to wander on his own. In fact, aside from the occasional odd comment indicating how much Koschei wanted a bit more power, it was almost like having the old Koschei back. The Doctor hadn't had this much fun in ages, though it'd been an interesting conversation trying to convince Koschei into not pursuing the mystery of the Dæmons at Devil's End. Again.
Right now, however, the Doctor was more concerned fixing a stabilizer unit in his TARDIS that had blown out the last time he'd tried to dematerialize. Koschei ended up being no help with that (he didn't know what a TARDIS even was, much less where his own was hidden), though he'd been brilliant in other areas of alien tech. The TARDIS was just too complex a ship for the vague memories he had of being a Time Lord to help the Doctor beyond a few mechanical difficulties. Besides, this was a delicate experiment and he really didn't -ow!- need any disruptions, or he'd pinch his thumb like he just did.
He was putting the final touches on the stabilizer when it started to spark wildly. "What the devil-" he managed to say before it neatly exploded in his face.
"Doctor!" Jo exclaimed as she ran up to him. "Doctor, are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Jo," he said after coughing a few times and waving away the excess smoke. His face was spotted with soot from the smoke and rubbing at it had only made things worse. "It's like someone was attempting an experiment with gravity as strong as Jupiter's atmosphere at the same time, completely destabilizing the entire experiment. I don't know anyone else on the planet currently that could pull that off, however."
By this point, once Jo realized that the Doctor was indeed okay, she started laughing at his rather sad state of affairs, but the sound didn't quite cover the low chuckle from out side the door. Suddenly, he realized there really was someone else on the planet who could pull that off rather effortlessly after a bit of tinkering. His assumption about the Master not remembering anything about the experiments had been wrong and he could rightly assume due to the nature of the laughter that the person in question had done so intentionally instead of on accident.
Furious, the Doctor stalked over to the door and pulled it open to see Koschei in his impeccably tailored suit holding a homemade hand-held gravity stabilizer, leaning against the wall and desperately trying to smoother his laughter. A fact that was made all the harder because the Doctor's face and jacket was smeared with soot from the explosion and looked all the more ridiculous because of it, standing there with his hands on his hips. "I should have known it was you. That was highly dangerous, I'll have you know, and - Are you going to stop that insufferable noise?"
That set both Koschei and Jo off laughing again. The Doctor realized the only thing for it would be to ignore them both entirely and retreat until his dignity was less obviously bruised. Storming off, he nearly ran into the Brigadier, who had apparently heard the disturbance in the work place and had come to give a stern lecture on proper military behavior. The Brigadier took one look at the Doctor's expression, not giving any indication that he found the soot that covered the Doctor was out of the ordinary, and raised an eyebrow. "Is something the matter, Doctor?" he asked conversationally.
"Only those incorrigible fools braying like the Pak'ma'rah version of a cat. They're making it impossible to think. Now, if you'll excuse me," the Doctor said, in no mood to elaborate further. Thankfully, the Brigadier simply stepped to the side and didn't allow any of his small grin to show on his face until the Doctor had turned the corridor.
He headed for the nearest sink and mirror combination to wipe off the offending particles and clean himself up a bit. Unfortunately, the jacket was probably ruined. He mourned the fabric for a minute before ducking into a spare clothing closet he kept close to the lab. It wasn't, after all, a very unusual thing for him to need a change of clothes if an experiment went wrong. Switching out the green velvet for red, he listened in on the door to the lab for a moment and was rather satisfied to hear the Brigadier well into the aforementioned lecture.
With a certain smug air that was usually reserved for when villains (the Master included) were outwitted and getting their just rewards, the Doctor took off to a walk around the grounds. It was a splendid day outside, after all, and why shouldn't he take a small break? He made for the small garden that was on the edge of UNIT property, idly picking a daisy. He found a small bench to lounge on and basked in the light of Sol 3's natural sun. It was a good century, if he was going to be stuck in one, at least as far as the sunlight went. There wasn't enough smog in the sky yet to dampen the view and it really was a stunning day to be outside.
He sat on the bench for a while, pretending not to notice the two humanoids who were attempting to stealthily come up behind him. Well, one was succeeding, but the other was making up for the lack of silence with an enthusiasm that gave the other away easily. He closed his eyes, pretending to be lightly dozing, and waited for the new arrivals to make themselves known.
Finally, the stealthier of the two humanoids cleared his throat politely, attempting to gain the Doctor's attention. Obligingly, the Doctor stretched and opened his eyes as he schooled his features into a look of annoyance. "Oh, it's you. What do you want?"
Koschei's gloved hands fisted in anger. Though the Doctor didn't show any amusement on his face, Koschei knew it was there. He controlled his anger a few seconds later though, carefully counting to ten in his head before continuing. Koschei remained ever the gentleman, even as Jo poked his side expectantly as if to prompt him. He gave her the same look he used to give the professors back at the academy when they didn't understand his brilliance just before he was about to forcefully remind them, plotting a prank that was devious, yet harmless for her in revenge. He didn't remember the professors, but he knew enough about Jo's tea habits to make the girl rethink poking him again.
Which meant getting back to why they had come out here in search of the Doctor. Shifting his weight to the other foot, Koschei clasped his hands behind his back while he prepared himself for something vaguely unpleasant. "My dear Doctor, I wanted to apologize for my behavior earlier. It was hardly befitting professionals of our caliber and..." Koschei trailed off lightly for a moment, the apology becoming more sincere. "I really hadn't intended any harm to come to you like that explosion could have done."
Leaning forward, the Doctor nodded as Jo apologized as well for laughing, his eyes flickering over Koschei thoughtfully. "Why the devil did you do it in the first place?" he asked.
At this, Koschei's expression became hazy as he tried to recall memories that were no longer his to remember. It had become a familiar expression by this point, along with the small bit of fear that the Doctor never managed to hide when it came up. Nothing jumped to his memory, however, and he saw the Doctor relax almost imperceptibly as he announced this was the case. "It just... felt familiar, I suppose. I'm not altogether sure why I did do it. You have to admit, Doctor, the look on your face was worth the effort."
Koschei's grin faltered when he saw the absent look on the Doctor's face and he looked back to Jo who looked equally baffled by the Doctor's sudden change of mood. "Doctor?" she asked, sitting beside him on the bench and taking his hand comfortingly.
"Sorry," the Doctor said, shaking himself out of those thoughts. Koschei fought to keep a wave of jealousy from overwhelming him at the sight of Jo and the Doctor's linked hands. He mostly succeeded, but the Doctor gave him a slightly questioning look which he ignored. "Just brought back memories, that's all. Koschei and I used to ruin each others experiments all the time back at the academy."
Koschei looked away, still feeling just a little guilty for not remembering their shared past despite knowing there was nothing either of them could do about it. He didn't like the Doctor looking this sad when he got lost in memories that should have belonged to both of them. He had tried to regain the memories of his previous self a few times, but to no avail. All that had resulted in were a few headaches and the Doctor making him promise not to try anything so foolish again after he'd blacked out for six hours.
As all this went through his head, Koschei barely noticed that Jo had moved until her hand was now wrapped around his as she smiled at him encouragingly. In her free hand, she held up a pale blue flower for him to take. "Rosemary is supposed to be for remembrance. Isn't that right Doctor? Maybe it will help you remember if you place some on your pillow at night. I think I remember an old charm about that..."
He accepted the flower a little awkwardly as the Doctor chuckled. "That's for keeping away nightmares, Jo," he said, not unkindly. Then he looked a little uncomfortable, as if he were suggesting something that he wasn't sure would be a very good idea. "Still, rosemary is said to help the memory. Worth a try, at any rate. 'It is the herb sacred to remembrance and, therefore, to friendship', according to Sir Thomas More."
Koschei looked down at the pale flower in his hand as Jo and the Doctor chatted amiably, rather taken in with its fragile beauty. For remembrance and friendship, two things that go hand in hand. Unfortunately, he lacked both at the moment. He had no memories beyond these past three months, one of which was spent in that hospital without the Doctor. No memories and no idea of where he stood with the Doctor, though he knew where he wanted to stand. Something in the Doctor's eyes always held him off from asking however, or even hinting that he wanted something more now.
He wasn't a fool. He knew the Doctor wanted Koschei to never remember his past just as much as he missed those shared memories and that meant something had happened between them. Something horrible, no doubt, and it was a relief to the Doctor that he didn't remember whatever it was that turned him into 'the Master'. Something that had been enough to turn him into a monster...
Koschei was surprised to have the flower plucked from his hand by the Doctor and pinned lightly to to the lapel of his suit jacket. Where the Doctor had managed to get a pin for such an act, not even Koschei could fathom, but right now he was rather more concerned by the Doctor invading his personal space and how the fond look in his eyes made Koschei's hearts skip a beat. When the Doctor stepped back to look at his handiwork, Koschei found he had to remind his lungs to breathe. "Yes," the Doctor said, eying the flower critically. "I'd say the flower rather suits you. New memories and new friendships. You know, they used to also use rosemary for weddings..."
The last bit, though teasing, did nothing for Koschei's rapidly increasing heartbeats and it was taking all of his control to not show any of it outwardly. Thankfully, the Brigadier chose just that moment to make his arrival known, startling all of them. Koschei had never been so glad of the Brigadier's presence. "It's also used at funerals," he said dryly, crossing his arms in front of his chest expectantly, the unspoken threat made clear by his tone. "You do all realize you're supposed to be working?"
"Oh, come now, Brigadier," Jo said, smiling her most charming smile at the unfazed Brigadier. "It's a wonderful day outside and when I saw that the Doctor had taken a walk I packed a picnic for us. There's more than enough in here for you as well."
It took a lot more pleading from both Jo and the Doctor, but eventually the Brigadier was, shockingly enough, won over by the promise of brownies that had also been packed. Koschei helped Jo lay out a blanket as the Doctor and the Brigadier discussed the Sontarans battle with the Rutan Host and they all fell into the packed lunch willingly. It was a pleasant afternoon and as far as new memories went, Koschei felt this was a very good one. Even if the Doctor had a habit of stealing both his and Jo's sandwiches...
After a while, the Brigadier pulled Jo away saying that she had some duties to attend to. It was rather obvious to everyone but the Doctor that he was trying to give the Time Lords some extra time to themselves (though it may be none of his business and he most certainly didn't want to know, Koschei's earlier stunt had amused him enough to grant them an afternoon off), despite how Jo was more than willing to stay in the bushes to watch. Thankfully, between the Doctor's reprimands and the Brigadier almost dragging her away, they both left as the Doctor lay back, watching the clouds floating through the sky with a lazy expression.
Gingerly, Koschei leaned back next to him, gazing up at a cloud that reminded him of a castle. They sat like that in companionable silence for a while, before Koschei rolled over to his stomach and propped himself up on his elbows. "Doctor, back when I still had my memories," Koschei started hesitantly as the Doctor leaned on his side to better see him. "Why did I change my name to 'the Master'?"
The Doctor winced, using his arm to pillow his head as he sighed. "I'd hoped you wouldn't ask about that..."
"Because you're afraid I'll become him again if I know?"
The Doctor's eyes widened, caught off guard by the blunt assessment of his reason for keeping quiet. Then he closed his eyes, looking terribly old weary. Koschei almost wished he hadn't asked. "Yes, I suppose so. A man is the sum of his memories and a Time Lord even more so. I do miss the old you, but... It's also nice having you back as my best friend and not my best enemy. You remind me a lot of how he was before he changed."
Koschei nodded. It was nothing more than he hadn't already guessed, watching the Doctor as he had for these past two months. He was oddly pleased, both to hear the Doctor admit to missing his past self and to the Doctor liking the new him. It allowed him to push on with the original subject, despite how tired the Doctor looked. "What happened?"
Still keeping his eyes closed, the Doctor started his recounting of the event. Koschei couldn't hide his disappointment on how vague it was, despite knowing that it was probably for the best that he didn't have details that might catch his memory. "You were betrayed, quite badly. You'd done something truly terrible, all for the sake of a single person. A person who made your act meaningless and then betrayed you completely."
"Was that person you?" he found himself asking, surprised at the words.
At this, the Doctor opened his eyes and shook his head. "No, it wasn't me. Though heavens knows we've both done some betraying since then, even arguably at that point too. I suppose we both betrayed each other in the end. No, it was someone you cared for deeply at the time, enough to try something monstrous to save them and I... I should have been there to stop you and to help you."
Koschei considered this information silently for a while, trying to imagine what it must have been like for himself at the time. To have some he apparently cared that much for betray him... The thought was chilling and it didn't quite feel like the whole answer, but it made sense, he supposed, if there were some other factor the Doctor wasn't mentioning. What could he have done to try and save that person that had been so horrible though?
"I'm sorry," the Doctor said eventually, looking infinitely sad as he leaned forward. "In some ways, it's better for you not to remember, but I failed you at that time and I am sorry, Koschei."
The Doctor saying his name brought out an immediate reaction. He so rarely did so, despite being the only one at UNIT who was able to pronounce it properly. It made the times the Doctor did use Koschei's name all the more valuable and this close... Koschei's body reacted before he even thought, leaning forward and kissing the Doctor chastely on the lips.
He felt the Doctor's shock at the motion and it was that which made him pull back, suddenly very uncertain. "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me just then," he said, trying to get control of the blush that was spreading across his cheeks. "That was... improper and I should have asked."
Starting to move away to put more space between them, he was startled to find the Doctor's hand on his wrist to keep him from going further. "There are two kinds of memories, you know," the Doctor said conversationally, not letting go of Koschei's hand as he traced his thumb over the back of it. The movement sent chills down his spine, especially as the Doctor shifted closer with a small grin. "Memories of the mind - that's what you lost - and memories of the body. It seems your body remembers a lot more than you do."
"So you're saying..." Koschei started haltingly, still thinking the thought through before he was comfortable with saying it aloud, "that was a reaction that I would have had before I changed?"
The Doctor nodded, letting go of Koschei's wrist much to his disappointment. "Yes, that's right. It was a very long time ago that we were this close though and it doesn't have to be that way again, but I wouldn't say no to some new memories."
Koschei didn't hesitate now that he had permission; he leaned forward to kiss the Doctor properly. It was a exhilarating and stimulating sensation, having the Doctor's lips responding to his in a way that made his own imaginings of the event pale in comparison. Oh, he'd wanted to do this since the Doctor had touched his mind two months ago and the intricate plans he had come up with for afterward...
When the Doctor finally pulled back and broke the kiss, Koschei was breathless. He grinned boyishly down at Koschei, who had, at some point during the kiss, ended up pressed back against the picnic blanket. "Remembrance, indeed," he said, caressing the slightly dazed Koschei's cheek. "Yes, I really do think that flower suits you."
* * *
It was, surprisingly enough, the Brigadier who made sure that no one commented or were allowed to collect on bets when Koschei had taken to sleeping in the Doctor's TARDIS, rather than the flat UNIT had provided for him. Or unsurprisingly, considering the man could be very discreet and the less said about office romances the better. The Doctor was more amused than anything, but he could tell Koschei at least appreciated the courtesy. Jo had been very put out, however, since she'd have won at least fifty pounds by his reckoning from earlier conversations he'd overheard.
Having Koschei working with him during the day and sleeping with him at night was nothing short of spectacular and the Doctor couldn't remember a time when he'd been happier. He couldn't even properly mind being confined to Earth, though he certainly wanted nothing more than to show Koschei the universe.
Koschei had taken up wearing a rosemary blossom on his suit jacket ever since that picnic, managing to make the flower part of his gentlemanly stature enough that no one even batted an eye at it. For his part, the Doctor was particularly pleased, though he knew better than to tell Koschei that. In a way, their current relationship was a way for the Doctor to make amends for leaving for so long before and not being there when Koschei needed him. A pleasant dream that he used to fool himself into believing had become a startling reality and the Doctor found he never wanted to wake up from it. Rosemary under your pillow was supposed to keep nightmares away, so the superstition went, and if that were the case he was never more glad Koschei had taken up wearing it.
It was in the end, however, only a dream. Little over two months after the picnic, Koschei was knocked against a wall by a Krynoid. The Brigadier finally got an alien threat that could be destroyed with sufficient firepower, but the Doctor was in no mood to consider that. He stayed at Koschei's bedside for a week, waiting for his lover to wake up. When it did happen, the Doctor knew even before Koschei's eyes opened.
"I'll explain later," he whispered into the Master's ear as he woke, imprinting enough of a psychic suggestion to tell the Master to go with the charade, though he knew the Master could shake such a thing off easily. The point was gotten across though and the Master nodded slightly.
"Doctor!" Jo cried, grabbing his arm from her spot in the chair next to him. "Doctor, look! He's waking up!"
"Yes, Jo," he said, unable to keep all of the sorrow out of his voice. "Yes, he has."
And so had the Doctor.
"So I've been living as UNIT's pet, have I? No, not UNIT's. Yours. Your precious little Koschei, back from the dead. My dear Doctor, I didn't realize you were in such denial."
"You had a choice."
"Did I? Now that is interesting. If I asked the Brigadier, would he give me the same answer?"
"I'm sorry," the Doctor said, standing awkwardly in front of the Brigadier's desk and announcing his presence a week later.
The Brigadier looked up from the paperwork he'd been sorting through, frowning lightly. He looked at the Doctor then behind him and the frown became more deep set. He didn't have to ask why the Doctor was apologizing. The answer was in who wasn't with the Doctor. "So he's gone then?" the Brigadier asked, anger lacing his voice. "I told you to keep an eye on him, Doctor."
"No, I didn't think as much. I'm almost glad I don't remember any of it."
"You were happy, Koschei. Even if you didn't have-"
"Koschei is dead, Doctor. He has been for a very long time. You were there when he died, remember? You helped kill him."
"So you did," the Doctor replied easily sitting down in the chair across from the desk with a relaxed posture that didn't betray anything about his feelings. "He slipped out when I wasn't looking."
That was a lie and they both knew it. The Brigadier stood up and placed his hands on the desk, eyes flashing with fury. "Are you aware of how much trouble he can cause while he's loose, Doctor? Would you like me to recount of all the men he's killed, not a few of them who were good men here at UNIT?"
"I know, Brigadier," the Doctor said softly, sorrow entering his eyes. "I do know that."
"You could stay here, you know. The Brigadier is the only one who suspects and you could..."
"I could play at your lap dog again? Trot along behind you all adoring like how I used to at the academy? I don't think so, Doctor; I'm no longer standing in your shadow. I've found myself again. Oh, it may have taken me awhile, but I'm still stronger for it."
"That's not strength, Master."
The Brigadier noticed for the first time what the Doctor was toying with something in his hands. They were constantly moving as if he were barely aware of the action, rolling a pale flower in between his fingers. The same one the Master had taken off and tossed to him before he'd left. Eyes softening, the Brigadier sat back down, shaking his head. "Koschei is gone completely then? No chance at repressing the Master and getting him back?"
At this, the Doctor seemed to remember himself, sighing softly. "No, I'm afraid not, old chap. Koschei is dead and I should have stopped trying to fool myself a long time ago."
"Are you alright, Doctor?"
"I'm fine, Brigadier. Just tired."
"I think you'll find it is. Good-bye, Doctor. Have fun saving this worthless planet of yours."
The Doctor looked down at the flower in his hands. Rosemary, for remembrance, for friendship and to keep the nightmares away. "I think you were right, Brigadier," he said lightly, lips forming a smile despite there being nothing cheery about the expression. "Rosemary is more suitable for funerals."