The Master had never actually had an a secret underground volcano lair. That sort of thing was rather impractical and in any case there were no active volcanoes in the United Kingdom in the 20th century. An extinct volcano just wouldn't be the same (though he did have his eye on Edinburgh Castle for when he inevitably conquered Scotland).

A non-volcanic secret underground lair was probably the next best thing, so it was with some enthusiasm that he embarked on his latest insane scheme. He waited in what probably passed for a foyer, patient as a Weeping Angel.

Jack was determined to find the Doctor. He'd been determined for quite some time, which meant that he was extra-determined by now. He had a sharp mind, a competent staff, and really good skin. Sooner or later the Doctor would show up on Earth and when he did Jack would be ready to confront or seduce him, whichever seemed more appropriate at the time.

150 miles away in London the Doctor sat in his laboratory entirely unaware of Jack's less-than-innocent interest in him. He was clad in velvet and he had a face that couldn't decide what age it was. He was also stuck on Earth for some unspecified period of time until his people decided that he as a good boy now who could be trusted on his own with a TARDIS. He kind of hated them a bit for that.

Plus the Brigadier had betrayed him over the Silurians, and that didn't bode well for the future of their working relationship. He thought about getting a pet snake just to spite him. He could ask Liz how she felt about snakes and whether she'd be able to secure a supply of dead mice for it to eat.

“Liz...” he began.

“Yes, Doctor?” Liz turned from her latest experiment and took off her safety-goggles.

“Do you think the Brigadier would let me keep a pet?”

“You're not getting a reptile,” she said, with worrying insight. “Or a snake. You're especially not getting a snake.”

“Oh,” said the Doctor. “Am I really that obvious?”

“Yes. Can you help with with this?” she asked.

“Do you really need my help or are you trying to distract me?”

“Bit of both.”

UNIT knew all about Torchwood, of course. It would have been a bit silly to have two alien-fighting organisations in the same country who didn't know anything about each other.

The Brigadier sat in his office filling out the Doctor's personnel file. It was rather enjoyable. He made up some quite outrageous lies about “John Smith,” including the fact that he'd been born in a cabbage field and then delivered to his mother by a friendly talking stork.

People didn't usually read these things anyway, and if they did he certainly didn't want Torchwood finding out that their entire purpose in life was sitting in UNIT HQ asking a superbly-qualified physicist to make him cups of tea and look impressed when he said something clever.

He needed a photograph for the file. He thought for a moment, and then attached a photograph of Benton that someone had stuck on the noticeboard last Christmas. Benton was probably quite attractive from certain angles, and the Doctor was fairly egocentric.

He leaned back in his chair, pleased with his work. Torchwood, as far as the Brigadier was concerned, could shove it right up their... posteriors.

It took several months to set up the business with the missile, the prison, and the peace conference. It was perhaps a rather convoluted plan, but those were surely the best kind. The Master worked at Torchwood Three during the afternoons, where the only difficulty was not knowing too much about alien technology. He worked almost diligently, cataloguing and reverse-engineering. For sheer giggles he hid his TARDIS in the outer office disguised as a hatstand and told people that his name was T. E. Matser.

When his plan was ready he sent the rest of the team to Inverness to look for unicorns. There was, of course, no such thing, but it amused him to think of Jack trying to first find a virgin and secondly to avoid relieving said youth of his/her qualification in the matter.

It was a brilliant bit of work.

Well, Doctor 2 — Master 0. Plus the Doctor had almost actually died for real which was the last thing the Master wanted. He sat in Torchwood's secret underground lair and wondered how he could have missed the obvious flaws in his own plan. Miss Grant had been an unexpected problem, for one thing. He didn't like her. The Doctor did like her, which made the Master dislike her even more.

Worse, Torchwood had almost stumbled onto his scheme. That would have been awful, since they hated the Doctor (though not as much as the Master did, obviously) and would probably want to imprison him. That would be much less fun for the Master, not to mention exceedingly unpleasant for the Doctor (who he hated). He'd have to pay more attention to stopping them finding out that the Doctor was currently on Earth and working for the military.

The Satan incident was a bit difficult to cover up, what with the live broadcast on BBC3, but the Brigadier managed to concoct a decent cover-story and Torchwood remained none the wiser. This was important, because the Brigadier wasn't having anyone arresting his Scientific Advisor, thanks very much.

It wasn't that the Doctor was the only person at UNIT capable of foiling evil plans and stopping alien invasions, it was just that the Brigadier wanted to keep all his pieces on the board. Admittedly the Doctor really, really good at dealing with aliens and the like, but that didn't make the rest of the organisation surplus to requirements.

So he hoped, anyway.

The Master was watching an episode of The Clangers when Jack burst out of his office and ran over to him.

“We've found him!” cried the annoyingly-handsome American.

“Who?” asked the Master, innocently.

“The Doctor, of course!”

The Master played stupid. Humans weren't very bright, after all, and he was pretending to be one.“Who?”

“He's only the entire purpose of our organisation and of my existence!”

The Master didn't like Jack Harkness. For one thing he appeared to be a Fixed Point, and those made him want to scratch his cerebellum until it bled, but he also hated him because Jack liked the Doctor. Jack really liked the Doctor. It would have been endearing if it wasn't for the fact that the Doctor — who the Master utterly despised — was obviously far too good for him.

“Shall I call HQ?” asked the Master, knowing that this wasn't what Jack had in mind.

“No! That is, not until I've confirmed that it's him. I wouldn't want to get their hopes up.”

The Master was perfectly aware that Jack and the rest of Torchwood had something of a... mismatch of priorities. Jack didn't want the Doctor to die, other than in a euphemistic sense, and Torchwood's official policy was to stop the Doctor “by any means necessary.” Which almost certainly included killing him. The Master didn't want that, even though obviously he hated the Doctor even more than they did.

“What does he look like?” asked the Master.

“He's a woman with curly blonde hair and a gun.”

The Master stared at Jack for a full minute.

“I know the Doctor,” said River Song, “but I'm not actually him.”

“How do you know him?” demanded Jack, pacing the interrogation room.

“In the Biblical sense?” asked the Master, who was leaning calmly against the wall.

“That would be telling,” said River with a filthy smile. “But yes.”

The Master looked over at Jack just to watch the immortal freak's heart break a bit more. It was almost entertaining enough to distract him from the fact that the Doctor had had sex with a woman rather than... well, he hated the Doctor, so he didn't want him to have sex with anyone, ever.

“What does he look like?” asked Jack.

“It depends,” said River, “but surely you already know that?”

“Is he handsome?” asked the Master, out of curiosity and not because he especially cared.

“Our relationship is based on more than physical appearance,” she said. She looked at Jack. “For one thing it's based on passionate, borderline illegal, sex.” She smiled, and the Master felt that here was a kindred spirit, in that she obviously didn't like Jack either.

Jack glowered at her. “Are you going to help us finding him or not?”

“Obviously not,” said River. “Can I go now?” She raised her handcuffed wrists. “And do you mind if I keep these?”

The Doctor and Donna sat on a picnic blanket by the side of the road. It was a warm sunny day in South Wales and they were wearing sunglasses. They were also eating popcorn.

The Doctor checked his watch. “Right about... now.”

A bright yellow roadster shot past carrying a young blonde and an older man. The Doctor waved at them as they passed.

“That was you?” asked Donna, sounding rather shocked.

“I was quite dashing back then,” said the Doctor, thinking he was agreeing with her. “Right, in three... two... one...”

A black van flew past headed in the opposite direction, driven by a dark-haired man with flawless skin.

“That was Jack,” said Donna, “I'd know that jawline anywhere.”

The Doctor nodded. “And that, Donna, is as close as Torchwood ever got to me during my exile on Earth.”

“Surely they must have passed each other up the road,” said Donna. “Did they not know what you looked like?”

“No idea,” said the Doctor cheerily.

“All this time I thought Jack was... observant.”

“Funny, that,” said the Doctor, chewing a bit of popcorn.

The TARDIS tumbled through the vortex happily. She had her freedom, her Thief, and the new human seemed quite clean and pleasant. Plus she was a dimension away from that awful Fixed Point. All she needed was a fresh coat of paint for her outer shell and everything would be perfect. Until the Fixed Point clung onto her and refused to die, but that was some time ago or yet to come.

She was, of course, totally over the Master's TARDIS. Or would be, anyway, which was much the same thing from her perspective. Things would be/had been/were going pretty well.

Her Thief turned a dial and she spun into observable space-time with a contented sigh.