The Master wasn't generally prone to reminiscing. Most of his memories at this point in his life were of being Koschei - a name he had just recently cast off - and he didn't like being reminded of how weak he had been. He was the Master now and he needed to focus on the present, unhindered by his past and the betrayals that had shown him his true strength.
While he was passing through an open air market while looking for spare parts, however, his attention was diverted to an antiques dealer and a beautiful old wooden cabinet. Maple wood, from Earth in the early 1900's, if he wasn't mistaken. It couldn't be...
Walking over to the cabinet, the Master pulled open the top to find his initial assumption correct. His eyebrows shot up his forehead as he ran a gloved hand over the fine wood. "A Victrola..." he said, eying the phonograph thoughtfully. A beautifully crafted one too. Now this was a long way from home, considering he was in the thirty-sixth century and a few galaxies away from Earth.
He glanced over at the merchant, who seemed to be busy selling a pair of earrings to a young lady. Rather than waiting, he pulled open one of the lower doors on the cabinet, finding the large, round disks he'd been looking for. The records in the Victrola were nothing he recognized, but as he pulled out one and placed it on the turn table the Master found it didn't matter. The act of cranking up the machine and placing the needle on the record was more than enough to bring back memories of the dusty old attic in his father's mansion where he and Theta snuck off to when they thought no one else was looking.
The voices of three American women started singing about sailors as he fell into the memories. Considering Gallifrey was long past such technologies, they'd never found out out where the old Victrola had come from. Equally more puzzling was how it had ended up in one of the furthest reaches of his father's attic when his father's xenophobic nature was well known as conservative even for the Time Lords. When they were seven such things hadn't mattered to either of them, and Theta had been so fascinated with the old machine. The gentle smile on Theta's face as Koschei leaned against his shoulder while they listened to the static and crackly records was etched into the Master's mind like an after image one got after staring at a light for too long. They hadn't understood the words, but they hadn't needed to. If he closed his eyes, he was almost transported back to Gallifrey and that cold attic with Theta's kind eyes...
"So that's how it works," the merchant said, bringing the Master out of his thoughts abruptly. All the betrayals, including the Doctor's, came crashing back to him as he was reminded that the innocence of those times was long since lost. For a moment, the Master was tempted to tear the Victrola apart in a fit of rage, but he controlled himself and smiled politely back at the merchant, listening to the fool blabber on about finding the cabinet. Only his fisted hands betrayed his inner emotions as the man went on. "Been wondering about that for well over a month now. The wife's been nagging to just sell it, but I couldn't bear to part with it until we found out what it did. I reckon that must be some primitive kind of music, hey? Though how anyone could listen to that noise is beyond me. I'm just a humble man, sir, not a history scholar. I, ah.. don't suppose you'd be looking into buying, sir?"
"How much are you asking for it?" the Master heard himself say, surprised at the words. He hadn't intended to speak, much less agree to hear a price. His eyes narrowed as the man listed off an exuberant price for the machine after looking the Master over once more. "I do not suffer fools gladly," the Master said courteously, his hand returning to the carved flourishes on the wood as he traced them absently. "I suggest you lower it to a more reasonable price or you might find yourself... in a more compromising position."
The idiot did not catch the drift, lowing the price slightly but still charging a ridiculous rate. Not in the mood to play games, the Master stared hard at the man and asserted his mind control. "I am the Master and you will obey me. You will give me the Victrola at no cost and you will help me carry it back to my ship. Do you understand?"
"I will... help carry it," the man said in a dazed voice, staring straight into the Master's eyes.
"At no charge," the Master repeated.
"At no charge, Master."
"Good." The Master released his hold on the man's consciousness, letting him blink for a few seconds before snapping commands at the merchant to hurry it up.
Once he was back in his TARDIS with no one else to see him, the Master started to play a few of the other records as he closed his eyes and took in all the sounds of the Victrola. He wasn't going to destroy it, he decided. Not for now. Destroying it would be a waste, after all, and he wasn't inclined to be wasteful. Especially not when... not when he could see Theta's eyes so clearly as he cranked the Victrola up. The Master would keep the machine and see if he couldn't polish it up a bit.
It was a sorrowful reminiscence, but he couldn't discard the mood even when he tried to focus on something else. He sat in his reading chair, letting the sounds of static and voices of singers from the records lull him to dreams of their childhood.