Missy stepped out of the TARDIS, heels clicking on a cold marble floor. She looked around with an air of satisfaction then turned back to the ship and waved through the open door. “See? We're here. Don't say I'm not good to you.”
The Doctor emerged from the tall blue box, glancing about as he left the safety of the ship. “I still don't believe you,” he said after a few long moments of silence.
Missy rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. “I'm not lying to you, not this time. We're here. We're home.”
The Doctor sniffed the air cautiously. “Seventy-six percent nitrogen, twenty-three percent oxygen -”
“Trace amounts of carbon dioxide and assorted other gases,” finished Missy impatiently.
“Still doesn't prove anything,” he said. “Any number of planets -”
“Yes, Doctor, I found a planet exactly like Gallifrey and brought you to it just to mess with your head. You're so clever, how silly of me to think I could trick you.” She glared at him. “Do a gravity test, if you like. It's nine point eight three, bang on, you'll see.”
“You've lied to me before,” said the Doctor, warily. “This whole thing could be an elaborate illusion.”
“For goodness sake, we're home. Is that really so hard to believe?”
He looked around. “It looks like the Panopticon, I'll admit that much.”
Missy growled her frustration and grabbed him by the arm, tugging him away from the TARDIS. “Stop being so stupid.”
He tried to shake her off, but she was stronger than she looked. “If this is Gallifrey — and I'm not saying it is -”
“Of course it is!” She shook her head.. “Do I look like I'm lying?”
“You never look like you're lying, but you almost always are.”
“I cross my hearts and hope to die, this is Gallifrey.”
“Then why is it so quiet? We shouldn't have been able to materialise in the Panopticon without setting off all sorts of alarms. Why haven't we been arrested for trespassing?”
“Perhaps they were expecting us,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. “How would I know?”
“I'd just feel a lot happier about things if someone was trying to arrest us.” said the Doctor.
“You might be about to get your wish,” said Missy. She pointed down a long corridor to where a small group of people with guns had appeared, heading their way.
The Doctor looked at the advancing crowd, then looked at Missy as though he were seeing her for the first time. “You weren't lying.”
“This is... we're actually on Gallifrey.” He leaned on her for support as his legs weakened under him.
“That's right,” said Missy, smiling as she held him upright, “I promised I'd bring you home, didn't I?”
“Don't cry,” said Missy, “I'll be terribly embarrassed if you cry.” She let go of him and let him fall to his knees on the floor. “I mean it, no crying.”
The Doctor started to laugh.
“Insane laughter is only slightly better than crying,” she told him as he knelt before her in a fit of giggles. “Pull yourself together, you're a Time Lord.”
The Doctor grinned up at her. “I'm a Time Lord! And I'm on Gallifrey!”
“Yes, yes, we've established that.” She turned as the guards reached them. “Don't mind him,” she told them, “he's a bit of a shock.”
“Bit of a... a bit of a shock?” the Doctor's laughter slowly subsided, but he was still smiling.
Missy pulled him to his feet. “I think we're being arrested,” she said, as the guards raised their weapons.
That seemed to sober him up. The Doctor stepped in front of Missy, more to stop her hurting anyone than to protect her. “Don't shoot,” he said, quickly, “we're Time Lords.”
The leading guard holstered her gun and removed her helmet as the others followed suit. “Given the circumstances we'll forgive the unauthorised arrival.” She smiled. “Welcome home, Doctor.”
“I knew they'd be reasonable about it,” said Missy, pushing past the Doctor to stand before the guards.
“You, on the other hand, are under arrest for crimes against sentient life,” said the guard, grabbing Missy by the arm.
“What?” Missy looked rather shocked. “He commits double-genocide to end the war and I'm the one that's in trouble?”
“He fixed his mistake,” said the guard. “You've done nothing but wreak havoc across the universe since you deserted your people in their time of need.”
“Doctor,” said Missy, “I demand that you sort this out immediately. It's a silly misunderstanding,” she told the guard, “I want to talk to your superior. And I will not be leaving a good review of your services.”
Missy sat in a holding cell, bored out of her mind. She was determined not to worry, and had already run through a few escape-fantasies, most of which ended — realistically but unpleasantly — with her death. She looked at the guard sitting outside her cell and remembered that thing humans did when they were bored. What was it called again? Oh, yes, trolling.
“I've already been executed for my crimes,” said Missy. “I assumed all was forgiven when I was resurrected.”
Her guard looked at her briefly, but he didn't say anything.
She stood up and held onto the bars. “I don't think it's legal to hold someone responsible for things they were driven to by loneliness and grief. It was terrible, you know, with no place to call my home.”
Still no reaction.
“Anyway, I regret my actions and I won't do it again.” She smiled serenely at him. “Also there's a cybermat crawling up your left leg.”
The guard glanced down, but disappointingly didn't do anything else. Missy glared at him and went back to sitting on the uncomfortable bench that ran along one side of the cell. She'd just have to wait for the Doctor to get her out of here, which was bound to happen sooner or later. He did owe her for bringing him back to Gallifrey, after all.
“Oh, and think of the devil,” she said as emerged from a door beside the boring guard.
The Doctor showed something to the guard and walked over to Missy's cell. “They've agreed to release you into my custody,” he told her.
“Well, that's better than nothing, I suppose.”
“Just a couple of rules we have to follow.” He produced something from his pocket. “Here, proximity bracelets.” He reached through the bars and snapped one onto her wrist before she could protest. “We have to stay within ten metres of each other at all times.”
“What happens if we don't?” asked Missy, watching the Doctor put on his own bracelet.
“I don't really want to find out, do you? And please don't do anything terrible, I'm legally responsible for you now.”
“I'm not a child,” she protested, angered by the implications.
The Doctor held up his hands in an attempt to calm her. “It's just until I can convince them that you've changed.”
“Have I?” she asked.
“Well, you haven't killed anyone yet, that's pretty good going by your standards.”
The guard with no imagination came over and unlocked the cell, stepping back a pleasing distance to allow Missy to leave it.
“There's probably a legal loophole,” she said to the Doctor. “Like when you got off with murder by becoming president.”
“I hadn't murdered anyone,” said the Doctor as they left the security area. “That was you. You shot the previous president.”
Missy waved a dismissive hand. “Mere details.”
“It's not a detail, it's my innocence and your guilt!”
“Why must you always fixate on minor issues of morality?” she asked. She felt a lot better already, a bit of verbal sparring with him tended to do wonders for her mood. She wasn't going to tell him that, though, in case he took it the wrong way.
“Anyway,” said the Doctor, changing the subject, “I got a message from my House. They want to see me.” He smiled at her, obviously pleased to be let back in so easily.
“And me?” she asked. “What about my family?”
“I don't know,” said the Doctor, smile fading slightly. He shrugged as though it were nothing.
“Maybe they don't know you're back yet.”
“Maybe,” said Missy, doubtfully. She was almost certain that her parents were dead, and most of the rest of the family had long ago given her up as a lost cause. They were too high-born, that was the problem. A loser family like the Doctor's would have recognised her worth and clung to her as their saviour.
“Hey,” said the Doctor when she was silent for too long, “don't worry about it.”
“I wasn't worrying,” she said, “I was just wondering how many of your little bastards are still buzzing about this planet.”
The Doctor scowled at her and went silent. She felt the tiniest bit bad for deliberately hitting such a sore spot, but not bad enough that she regretted shutting him up.
“Where's your TARDIS?” she asked after a while.
“Parking bay,” said the Doctor, still sounding grumpy. “They wanted to put her in a museum! Can you imagine a magnificent ship like her grounded and put on display?”
“Only in my dreams,” she said.
“You've never liked her,” said the Doctor.
“I've never liked it because it has ideas above it's station. And you've done nothing but encourage it, you old pervert.” Missy enjoyed insulting the Doctor's nearest and dearest. She considered it quite good for her health.
They arrived at a transit station and stopped as the Doctor dutifully checked the shuttle times. They couldn't teleport with the proximity bracelets on, and Missy had no intention whatsoever of mentioning that shuttle transport sometimes made her feel nauseous.
“We've just missed one,” the Doctor reported. He sat down on one the white plastic chairs in the waiting area. “Hey, do you remember that time we went on a school trip to the Sea of Sorrows, and you shut the entire shuttle system down by claiming you'd seen a little boy playing on the tracks?”
Missy sat down beside him. “Was that the same trip where you got stung by something and your head ballooned to twice it's normal size?” she asked.
“No, that was in third year. I remember because you had that broken arm.” He nudged her with his elbow. “See, we can get along perfectly well when you're not being evil.”
“How do you know I'm not being evil?” she asked. “I could be planning your untimely death at this very moment.”
She shrugged. “I might be.”
“I don't think you are,” he said after a moment.
“Well,” she said, “that's adorably optimistic of you.”
They walked up the path from the shuttle terminal to the Doctor's family home. The house was impressively large by most people's standards, and was, of course, even bigger on the inside. The family had simply added extra rooms with each addition to their ranks, and the resulting architectural monstrosity sprawled inelegantly at the base of a mountain.
The Doctor stopped and pointed up at a distant window. “That one's my old bedroom. I think.”
“Gosh,” said Missy, “I'm so glad I joined you on this fascinating trip down Memory Lane.”
She looked a bit tired and he suspected that shuttles made her feel a bit sick, not that he expected her to ever admit it. “Do you want to rest for a bit?” he asked.
She shook her head. “The sooner we get this over and done with, the better. I never did like your relatives. Insanity runs in the family, doesn't it?”
He chose to ignore her jibe. “I thought we could stay here for a while, until we can make other arrangements.”
“I refuse,” said Missy.
“You can't move more than ten metres away from me,” he reminded her, “so you don't have much choice in the matter.”
“I wish they had executed me instead,” she declared.
“You don't really.” They were nearing the main doors of the building. “I never really appreciated this place when I was young. I hated it until I went to school.”
“Where you spent your first month crying yourself to sleep every night because you wanted to go home. I remember,” she said. “I'm sure other people would find that tale just charming, but they didn't have to put up with your wailing every night.”
“You could have asked for a different room-mate,” he pointed out. “But then, would we be here having this conversation if you had?”
“Do we have to talk about this? It's boring. I don't get nostalgic for our youth, I like to live in the present.”
The Doctor shrugged off her complaints and approached the house. He hesitated in front of the tall wooden doors.
“Well?” prompted Missy. “Aren't you going to knock?”
“This is a big moment for me,” he said. “I thought I'd never see this place again. This is my family, Missy, people I love.”
Missy pushed him aside and rapped the door loudly with her fist.
Eventually the door creaked slowly open. An eye appeared in the gap between door and frame. “No unsolicited salespeople,” said the eye.
“It's me,” said the Doctor, waving.
“Oh.” The eye disappeared and the door closed. Missy and the Doctor looked at each other and then the door swung open before them. The eye belonged to an old robot with squeaking joints. “I thought you'd be taller,” it said.
The Doctor stepped through the doorway with Missy following him. “Are you new?” he asked the robot.
“New? I wish. I'm a thousand years old and I'm not getting any younger.”
“But you weren't here when I was,” said the Doctor.
The robot just looked at him. “Can I take your coat?” it asked with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
“Just let someone know we're here,” said the Doctor. “If you don't mind.”
“Why would I mind?” asked the robot, sulking away on its treads.
“Well,” said Missy brightly when they were alone, “isn't this wonderful?” She looked around. “Don't you have cleaners?”
The Doctor followed her gaze to a large cobweb the drooped down from the ceiling. “It's atmospheric,” he said, trying to seem casual. The old staircase that dominated the room looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years.
“Are you sure people still live here?” she asked.
“Well, I was told -”
“Most of us have moved to the capital,” said a voice from the top of the staircase, “and the servants keep breaking down.” An old man made his way down the stairs towards them. “What are you calling yourself this week?” he asked the Doctor.
“Just the Doctor,” he said. “Missy, you remember Braxiatel, my brother? Brax, this is... well, you knew her as Koschei.”
Brax peered at Missy in the dim light. “That spoilt little brat? The one who tried to push me through a window?”
“You do remember me!” said Missy brightly. She clapped her hands together. “It's always nice to know you've left an impression on someone, isn't it?”
Brax arrived at the bottom of the stairs. “I suppose it must be,” he said. He looked at the Doctor critically. “You took your time.”
“We came here as soon as we could,” said the Doctor.
Missy broke the awkward silence. “I know you didn't always get on, but why aren't you two hugging and crying and making yourselves look stupid for my amusement?”
“We didn't part on the best of terms,” said the Doctor. “We had... different ideas about the war.”
“Very different ideas,” said Brax.
“Well,” said Missy, “that's all ancient history now, isn't it? So you can get back to resenting each other instead, that was so much more healthy.”
Brax looked at the Doctor. “I suppose so,” he said. “Don't hug me,” he added, “I'm determined to live out this regeneration without untoward shows of affection.”
This wasn't going at all the way the Doctor had hoped. “Isn't there anyone else here?”
“Just me and the robots,” said Brax. “I like the solitude,” he said, rather pointedly.
“I need somewhere to stay,” said the Doctor.
“What about Koschei's house? Big estate, wasn't it? And a very nice house, if I remember right.”
“We'll find something in the Citadel,” said Missy. “Doctor, I'm not staying in this house and that's all there is to it.” She tugged on his sleeve. “Come on, there should be a shuttle due soon, we can make it if we leave now.”
The Doctor looked at Brax for a long moment and then turned back to Missy. “Okay,” he said, “if you insist.”
“I do insist. I insist very much. We can see ourselves out,” she told Brax, who nodded and turned to climb back up the old staircase.
The Doctor let Missy lead him from his family home, and didn't say anything else for some time.
They managed to find a set of empty rooms near the Panopticon, and so they had somewhere to stay by the time the suns began to set.
“How far is this couch from that bed?” asked the Doctor, standing in the doorway between bedroom and lounge.
“About eleven metres,” said Missy. “Why?”
“Help me move it,” he said, crossing the room. “I'm tired, I want to get some sleep.”
Missy just looked at him. “Doctor, I'm not letting you sleep on a sofa when there's a perfectly good bed available.”
“You want to sleep on the couch?” he asked, slightly surprised at her offer.
“Of course not. That bed is easily big enough for two people.” She held up a hand to stop his protests. “It's hardly the first time we've shared, and we both deserve somewhere comfortable to sleep.”
The Doctor just nodded tiredly, too exhausted to argue with her this time. Missy disappeared into the bedroom and he followed her.
Missy took off her coat and let down her hair, quickly tying it into a braid at the back of her head. The Doctor sat down on the edge of the bed and took his boots off.
“I hate sleeping in my clothes,” said Missy. “We should have picked some things up from your TARDIS on the way here.”
“Sorry,” said the Doctor, rubbing his eyes, “I didn't think.”
“I'll cope,” she said, pulling back the covers on her side of the bed.
The Doctor got into bed and turned onto his side to look at her. “You brought me home,” he said quietly as she slipped beneath the sheets.
“I promised I would, didn't I?”
“You did, but don't usually keep your promises. You lie so often I'm never sure when you're actually telling the truth.”
“You're one to talk about lies,” she said. “I'm surprised you can even remember what's true any more.”
“I can't always.”
“We'll have to fix that, won't we?”
“You're being awfully good,” said the Doctor. “Are you sure you're not ill?”
“I don't have to be bad when I already have what I want.”
Missy looked at him with something that might have been pity. “Isn't it obvious?”
“Is this where you declare your undying love for me?” he quipped.
Missy glared at him. “Well, if you're going to be like that about it,” she said, beginning to move away.
The Doctor caught her wrist to keep her close. “Sorry,” he said, “I've never been very good at this sort of thing.”
He brought her hand to his lips, kissing the backs of her fingers. Missy sighed, her eyes fluttering closed for the briefest of moments, and shuffled closer to him.
“You're stubborn,” she told him, “and arrogant, and needlessly rude. You judge me for being myself and you think the sun shines out of humanity's collective arse.”
“And you,” he said, “are evil and cruel and heartless.”
“Not heartless,” she said. She took hold of his hand and placed it over her chest. “They're beating quite as they should.”
He leaned towards her and pressed his mouth to hers. Her tongue flicked across his lips and opened his mouth to let her in. One of them moaned, but he couldn't be sure which of them had made the sound and which had responded with its echo.
The Doctor woke to find Missy leaning over him with an annoyed expression on her face.
“Get up,” she said, “I'm hungry and the kitchen's just a bit too far away.” She held up her wrist, proximity bracelet gleaming in the early morning light.
The Doctor blinked a few times. He'd expected something a bit more romantic, to be quite honest.
“I'm starving,” she prompted. She was fully-dressed and her hair was back up in its usual bun.
He repressed a long-suffering sigh and sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and picking his clothes up off the floor. Missy was impossible. It didn't seem to matter how much affection he showed her, she was still... her.
“You can't spoil this,” he said. “I won't let you.”
“Spoil what?” she asked as he pulled on his trousers. “I wasn't aware that there was anything to spoil.”
He picked up his shirt. “You know perfectly well what.”
“Our true and eternal love?” she queried. “Don't get ideas, it wasn't that good.”
He managed to button his shirt correctly on the third attempt. “What do you want for breakfast?” he asked, leaving the bedroom certain that she'd follow. He located the food machine and dialled up a cup of water for himself. It was ice-cold and it tasted of nothing.
Missy pushed him aside and got herself a block of bacon-flavoured protein. “Today we're going to get rid of these stupid bracelets,” she said with her mouth full.
“Gladly,” said the Doctor. “I just have to convince the High Council that you're not the genocidal maniac you actually are.” The food machine switched off after producing half of a cup of tea. He hit it.
“What did you do?” asked Missy.
“Nothing, it just stopped.”
“They don't do that,” she said, finishing her breakfast. “You must have done something wrong.”
He took a calming breath before responding. “I did nothing wrong.”
“Bet you did.”
“Could you just -” The kitchen light flickered off and on again. He looked at Missy. “That definitely wasn't me.” He walked into the lounge and looked out the window at the city below. “It's probably nothing,” he said, doubtfully.
Missy joined him at the window. She pointed down to the street below. “The traffic signals are off.”
“We should look into this,” he decided. “Better safe than sorry.”
The food machine powered up again as he spoke. He plucked his coat from the hatstand and, pausing only to make sure Missy was following, headed off to investigate.
Missy fiddled with the bracelet on her arm as she waited outside the High Council chamber. She hadn't been allowed in to argue her own case, and she hoped the Doctor was up to pleading on her behalf. Perhaps she shouldn't have been so abrupt with him this morning.
The power had failed three times on their way through the city, for mere moments each time but that was enough to make her worry. Something was clearly wrong and she wasn't sure if she wanted to be around for whatever happened next.
She looked up when the doors to the chamber opened. “Well?”
“They still think you're evil, but I pointed out that you're a valuable asset in a crisis.” He took her hand and punched the release code into her bracelet.
“And what, exactly, is the crisis?” she asked, slipping the bracelet from her wrist and rubbing her skin absently.
“The power flow from the Eye of Harmony was interrupted.”
“That's not possible,” she said automatically.
“Apparently it is,” said the Doctor. He looked at her seriously. “This implies sabotage of some sort.”
“Daleks,” she suggested.
“The President's going to consult the Matrix. You and I,” he said, “are to be a separate investigative unit on the ground.”
“Well, when the President has finished playing with the Dildo of Rassilon I expect to be given full authority to go anywhere and talk to anyone.”
“Good.” She felt a bit better knowing that she could shout at people and make them do what she wanted. It was her natural role in life, she was certain. “Where do we start?”
“I want to take a look at the Eye of Harmony itself,” he said. “Maybe there's a clue.”
“It's retina-locked,” said Missy, without thinking. “Gallifreyan eyes won't open it.”
The Doctor winked at her. “Good thing I have my mother's eyes, then, isn't it?”
“It isn't as impressive as I remembered it being,” she said when they entered the great hall that held the power-source. “Are you really going to look inside it?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Why not? It's usually best to go right to the source of the problem.”
“Everything's dangerous,” he said.
“Looking into a black hole that might have been compromised is pretty high up on the scale of danger.”
The Doctor looked at her. “You're really worried, aren't you?”
She tried to sound casual. “Let's just think about this logically. Assume someone has control of the Eye of Harmony. Obviously they want the unlimited supply of power.”
“Do they?” asked the Doctor. “It wouldn't be that hard to make your own.”
“But to stabilise it, that's difficult. Hardly anyone could do that, even these days.”
“Right, so I'll just have a look inside it and-”
“No,” said Missy, “I forbid it.”
“It's not up to you,” said the Doctor.
“Everything's up to me,” she insisted. “Now, let's see. What was it they taught us in school?” She closed her eyes and began to recite from memory. “The Eye of Harmony lies beneath the Great Citadel of Gallifrey -”
“And?” the Doctor prompted.
Missy opened her eyes. “...and is also located in the heart of every TARDIS.”
“Whoever controls the Eye controls every TARDIS in existence.”
“Exactly. A fleet of time machines. A potentially unstoppable army. An awful lot of people would want one of those.”
“I want one of those,” said Missy. “I wish I'd thought of it first.”
“Which doesn't answer the questions of who and how.” He looked at the casing that held the Eye. ”Just a tiny peek,” he pleaded.
“Absolutely not.” She followed him as he crossed the room to the retinal scanner. “I said no.”
“I can't hear you,” said the Doctor. “I think I'm going deaf.” Before she could stop him he activated the scanner and looked into it.
The Eye slid slowly open. The Doctor, connected to it via the scanner, breathed out slowly. “I can see -” He stiffened suddenly, a yell of pain falling from his lips.
Missy threw herself at the Doctor, pushing him away from the Eye. He collapsed to the ground and she quickly knelt to check if he was still alive. “You idiot,” she growled when she found his heartbeats. “You complete and utter, absolutely stupid -”
The Doctor opened his eyes. “Sontarans,” he breathed.
Missy helped him sit up. “Are you sure?”
“It's them or Mr Potato Head, and I think Sontarans are more likely.” He rubbed his head. “I've got a splitting headache.”
“Good,” said Missy, standing. “You deserve to suffer for that little performance.”
“I got the information,” he protested. He got to his feet slowly, obviously in pain. “We should tell the President.”
“It took the Demat Gun to get rid of them last time,” she said. “Any idea what happened to it afterwards?”
“Disassembled. So we'll need the Key of Rassilon to get it working again.”
“How do you feel?”
“Better,” he said. “The headache's fading already.”
Missy nodded her satisfaction. Then she slapped him, hard. “If you do anything like that, ever again, I'll kill you myself. Understood?”
“Someone let them in,” said the Doctor as they headed back to the High Council chambers.
“Are you sure?” asked Missy.
“That's what I saw,” he told her. “Nobody broke through the firewall, someone let it down, just for a few moments.”
“I don't suppose you know who it was?” she asked, not very hopeful.
“Either someone very clever or someone who had access protocols.”
Missy stopped walking. “You mean someone on the High Council.”
The Doctor turned to look at her. “Most likely.”
“So we probably shouldn't tell them that we know,” she said. “It's the proper procedure, yes, but you and I have always been above such things.”
“We need help,” said the Doctor, “we can't do the whole thing ourselves.”
“And why not? You dealt with Sontarans on Gallifrey last time, and I'm hardly a novice in the arts of subterfuge and sabotage.”
“Two of us against a Sontaran fleet and a High Council conspiracy? Do you think we could?” He seemed to be wavering from his fleeting need to do things by the book.
Missy nodded. “I think one of us could do it. Two is a luxury we should take advantage of.”
“You might be right,” he admitted.
“'Might be'? I am right and you know it.” She felt rather offended. “You find the traitor, I'll get the Demat Gun sorted.”
The Doctor nodded. “What about the Key?”
“I'll hit the books,” she said, already formulating a plan in her head. “Things don't just vanish without a trace, especially on planets with a bureaucracy like ours. People don't so much as piss without writing a novel about it.”
“This isn't a game,” he warned her.
“Obviously. Games are much less exciting.” She fixed him with a look. “Don't tell me you're not enjoying yourself, you love this sort of thing just as much as I do.”
“It's just adrenaline,” he said, dismissively.
“Exhilaration,” she corrected. “The thrill of the hunt.”
“Yes, but that doesn't mean you're not.” She stepped towards him quickly, kissed his cheek before he could react. “Don't get yourself killed,” she told him, turning on her heel and heading off to do her research.
The old robot looked at her from the doorway. “What do you want?”
“I,” she said grandly, “am authorised by the High Council to demand that you put all your resources at my disposal.”
“You can check the orders on your network, they're quite in order.” She pushed past it into the house. “All these cobwebs are mine now.”
The robot paused for a second, presumably confirming what she had said. It managed a pretty good sigh for something that didn't have lungs. “We don't have any resources.”
“There was a library, is it still here?”
“Which library? We have several.” It seemed quite proud of this fact.
“Theta's father's personal collection. You know how that man hoarded things.”
“That collection is intact,” it told her. A pause. “I must summon biological assistance.”
“Fine,” said Missy, already on her way up the stairs. She stopped for a moment, turned to it. “And make me a sandwich, I'm starving.”
The Doctor started with the High Council biographies on the internal web. After his experience with the Eye's retinal interface he decided to stick to keyboard and screen, which slowed things down considerably.
He also kept getting distracted by thoughts of Missy. As he skimmed the biographies he wondered what he'd done to offend her that morning. He couldn't think of anything. Maybe it was just her overwhelming need to break things and annoy people. It had stopped her getting what she wanted countless times before, after all.
He ran a search in the war records and tapped the desk irritably as he waited for it to complete. Missy, Missy, Missy. Why couldn't she just accept his affection? Did everything have to be a battle?
The power went down again, and he swore at the computer.
“Interesting man your father,” said Missy conversationally as she took a heavy book from a shelf. “Such a shame that you hate him.”
“Don't be ridiculous,” said Brax, looking up from his own volume. “I didn't hate my father.”
“Ah, I forgot, you hate the Doctor instead.” She smiled. “Silly me.”
“I may be duty-bound to assist you with your work, but I do not have to discuss my family with you of all people.”
Missy sat down at a desk and opened the book. “Which window was it that I tried to throw you through? I can't quite remember.”
Brax scowled at her, but his eyebrows weren't half as impressive as his brother's.
Missy leafed through the pages. “I think you should forgive and forget. It's been, what, two thousand years, give or take?” She shook her head. “Such a long time to carry a grudge.”
“Do you mind?”
“No, I don't mind,” she said pleasantly. “On Earth they have television shows about this kind of thing. Family strife, old feuds. People cry and throw chairs at each other, it's very entertaining.”
Brax ignored her, replacing his book on the shelf and selecting another.
“He betrayed your mother. He betrayed you.”
Finally she got him to snap. “He wasn't expected to be perfect.”
“He wasn't expected to sire an alien bastard and bring the wretched thing back to Gallifrey either, was he?” She shook her head. “And that alien woman, you never took to her, did you?”
“Your family disowned you, didn't they?” was the response.
Missy tensed automatically and then made herself relax. “We weren't talking about me,” she said lightly.
“It's a shame, really, you'd probably have inherited the estate. You could have been quite powerful.”
“I am quite powerful,” she snapped.
Brax smiled at her. “If you say so.”
The Doctor navigated his way through the network. A few levels down things got interesting. He found traces of signals from Gallifrey to Sontar, inexpertly hidden among local weather reports.
He shook his head. His people could be so disappointingly rubbish at these things. If he'd done it, or Missy, no one would have found anything.
He typed in a few commands and traced the messages to their source. Then he stared at the screen for a few moments.
Missy was speed-reading an old diary that seemed to consist mostly of complaints about the government. There wasn't even a torrid affair to liven it up a bit.
“I found something,” said Brax. He sniffed. “The gossip pages of a historical magazine. I doubt it's very reliable.”
“Then don't rely on it,” she said, not looking up.
“It says here that the last custodian of the Key took it to the grave, so unless you know a quick way to bring back the dead -”
Missy looked up from her reading. “Let me see that,” she demanded. Brax handed her the book without question and she skimmed the pages for the sentence she was looking for. “He didn't take it to his grave, he took it to the grave. No wonder we're being invaded if you're the brightest bulb in the box.”
He went a bit red. “What?”
“Time Lords don't bury our dead, you idiot. There's only one grave on Gallifrey.” She waited for him to make the connection.
“Oh,” he said, after a longer pause than she'd have liked.
Missy leaned on her shovel and looked at Brax, squinting in the light of the suns. “Are we grave-robbing or not?” she asked.
Brax looked down at the grave before them. “I don't know. It feels...”
“Wrong? Disrespectful? Unholy?”
“Yes,” he said, nodding. “It just doesn't seem right.”
Missy smiled. “I know, isn't it great?” She started to dig.
“Do we have to do this? What if-”
She looked at him with irritation. “Don't be such a baby, she's been dead for centuries there isn't going to be much left. Besides, who said the key was in the same casket as the body?”
Brax picked up his shovel. “I suppose,” he said, hesitantly.
Missy stopped digging. “Look, you hated the old witch, what's your problem?”
“However I felt about her she deserves a little respect,” he said. “She did marry into the family, after all.”
“Fine, we'll do some sort of memorial ceremony when we're done. Happy?”
“Oh, shut up and dig.”
Half an hour later she met the Doctor outside the Council chambers and presented the Key to him with a smile and an air of having put in no effort at all.
“Where did you find it?” the Doctor asked.
“We had to -” Brax began.
Missy nudged him with her elbow to silence him. “Best you don't ask,” she told the Doctor.
He looked at her strangely, but nodded after a moment. “I found the traitor.”
“Oh, good, is anyone I hate?”
“It's the president.”
Brax gave a little cry of outrage and Missy just nodded. “I thought it might be. I've never trusted her.”
“You've never trusted anyone,” said the Doctor.
“Shall we have a confrontation? I like those.”
The Doctor pocketed the Key and pulled the doors open. They entered the room in silence and with purpose.
Missy stepped forwards. “You might be wondering why I've gather you all here today,” she began.
The Council members looked at each other with some obvious confusion. “You didn't gather us here,” ventured one of the brighter ones.
Missy ignored him. “One of you is a bad person. A very bad person.”
The Doctor moved to her side. “We found the traitor. It's the president.”
Missy glared at him as a collective gasp ran round the room. “I was building to that,” she said.
“Why did you do it?” he asked, ignoring Missy.
The President got to her feet. “Our defences are not what they once were. We need allies.”
The Doctor was appalled. “Allies? Sontarans? Are you insane or just stupid?”
“They'll take everything we have,” said Missy, “and then they'll attack. Then I expect they'll go on to conquer the universe. But please, don't concern yourself with that.”
“I did what I had to do,” said the President, sticking to her position. “If I was mistaken in my actions then I will accept the consequences.”
“Someone arrest her,” said Missy, looking at the guards by the doors. “She's getting on my nerves.”
“A Sontaran fleet will be here within the hour,” said the Doctor. “Missy and I can deal with that, you lot need to get your act together before then and make sure there aren't any casualties.”
“We have the Transduction Barrier,” said one the Chancellor.
“You have nothing,” said the Doctor. “All our defences are compromised.”
Missy nudged him with her elbow. “I told you this was going to be fun.”
The Doctor worked on assembling the Demat Gun slowly and carefully. He didn't want to accidentally kill himself and leave Missy alone to defend Gallifrey. That would just be asking for trouble.
“Do you love me?” she asked suddenly.
The Doctor didn't look up. “This is your idea of a good time to ask?”
“It seems as good a time as any. Besides, you might accidentally blow yourself up.”
“I won't if people stop asking stupid questions.”
“What's stupid about it? It's a perfectly reasonable question. Do you love me?”
“You're difficult,” said the Doctor. “Actually, you're impossible. But yes, of course I love you.” He took the Key from his pocket and slotted in into the mechanism. “It's armed,” he said, stepping back from the weapon. “If we route the power through the TARDIS we can probably take out the entire fleet before it gets into orbit.”
“I didn't say my plan was perfect.” He picked up the gun. “I hate these things,” he said.
“I don't know why,” said Missy, “it's not like you don't kill enough people by other means.”
The Doctor stared at her. “This is what I mean about you being impossible.”
“Just because I won't let you carry on with your self-righteous charade of pacifism -”
“You always have to pick a fight, don't you?” He started walking towards the TARDIS, which stood waiting for them just outside the room.
Missy followed him. “You started it.”
“How did I start it?” he asked, belatedly realising that the TARDIS key was in his pocket and that he didn't have any free hands.
“I don't know,” she said, “but I'm sure you did.”
He certainly wasn't going to hand the most destructive weapon in the universe over to her. “Can you get the key?” he asked instead. “Left trouser pocket.”
“It's not a ruse to make me feel you up?”
“Missy,” he snapped, “we're quite short of time. Stop pretending to be stupid and get the key from my pocket.”
With a glare she retrieved the key and unlocked the door. “You don't have to be rude about it.”
The Doctor perched the Demat Gun on the console and started connecting it to the controls. “We have to get the power from in here to out there,” he said as Missy started up the engines and pulled them into orbit with a quick tug of the dematerialisation lever.
“Yes, Doctor,” she said, “please explain this to me again, I've quite forgotten what I'm supposed to do.”
“I was just checking,” he said. “Usually I work with humans and they're...” He trailed off, unable to think of the right word.
“A species of idiots?” suggested Missy.
He scowled at her. “No, they're clever and wonderful and compassionate and curious. It's just that sometimes you have to break information down a bit so that they understand it.”
“I see.” Missy turned the scanner round and looked at the assembled Sontaran fleet. “Get a move on, they're almost in range.”
The TARDIS shuddered. The Doctor managed to stop the gun from falling, holding onto it as the ship began to shake more violently. “What's happening?” he demanded.
“It's the Eye of Harmony, they're attempting to take control of this TARDIS through it.” Missy kicked the console. “I should have realised they'd try that.”
“Stay calm,” said the Doctor. “Reroute the power through the temporal stabilisers.”
“What do you think I'm doing?” she retorted as she worked at the controls. “This isn't going to work. A TARDIS will do whatever the Eye tells it to do.”
The Doctor managed to jam the gun against the console so that he could let go of it. “I had to make a few changes after the war,” he said, moving to the other side of the control column. “I couldn't rely on a power-source that didn't entirely exist any more.” He turned a dial and pulled on a lever. “I've turned off the connection to the Eye.”
Missy looked at him over the console. “So what are we using for power?”
“Rift energy. There's still some stored in the back-ups.”
“You can't run a power station on a Duracell battery,” she protested.
“Not forever,” he agreed, “but for long enough to make a cup of tea. Hold on,” he told her, “this is probably going to be a bit violent.”
Missy sat up, coughing in the smoke that filled the console room. She got to her feet and turned on the scanner. It flickered on and she looked at the empty space on it with satisfaction. “We won,” she said, a bit shakily. She tried to pull herself together. “I never doubted us for a minute.” She checked the internal sensors and started venting the thick smoke into space.
She found the Doctor underneath the hatstand and helped him to his feet. “Can we do that again?” she asked.
He looked at her with a puzzled expression. “Did we win?”
“Yes, of course we did. Don't look so surprised, you knew we would. Haven't I always said we work better together?” She thought the matter over for a moment, and then she kissed him.
And they still wanted to punish her for her crimes. Missy sat, fuming, in another holding cell, making no effort to hide her anger. The ingratitude of the Time Lords never ceased to amaze her. She'd saved the world — or at least helped save it — and they wanted her to stand trial?
The Doctor appeared on the other side of the bars. Missy stood. “Well?”
“They're going to hide the planet again, until the defences are solid enough to keep the new President happy. That shouldn't take more than a few centuries.” He seemed tired and disappointed.
“Yes, yes, but what about me?” She gripped the bars tightly as she waited to hear her fate.
“They're exiling you. You've to leave the planet immediately and you're not to return for a thousand years.”
“Is that all?” she asked. Exile was nothing, she didn't want to stay here any longer than she had to anyway.
“Isn't that enough?” he asked. He moved aside to let a guard unlock the cell door. “I can drop you off somewhere, if you like.”
Missy stepped from the cell. “And what about you? What are they doing to you?”
“They've offered me a place on the High Council,” he said, having the grace to look embarrassed about it.
Missy stared. “Those... I hope you told them where they could shove it.”
“Not in so many words. And Brax says I can move back into the old house.”
“Do you want to?” she asked. “Do you want to stay here?”
“I...” He lapsed into silence.
Missy touched his arm. “We could go anywhere. You and me, we could do anything we like.”
“If I don't stay I can't come back until the planet reappears again.” he said. “If it ever does.”
“Suit yourself,” said Missy, as though she didn't especially care what he did with his life. “But you also won't be able to leave while Gallifrey is hidden.”
“All I wanted was to come home,” said the Doctor. He didn't sound very sure of himself.
She nodded. “And now you're here. Boring, isn't it?” She started to walk, pulling him along beside her. “You know, I've heard of a planet where the grass is green and there's only one sun in the sky.”
He managed a weak smile. “Really?”
“Yes. I think you'd like it. And if you don't then there are plenty of others. Much more fun than this old place, I promise.”
“You're not good at keeping promises,” said the Doctor. “You're a liar and a thief and you can't accept happiness when it's staring you right in the face.”
“Takes one to know one,” she said, leading him to where they'd left his TARDIS.
“You want me to run away with you again. Maybe I don't want to. Maybe I've finally grown up.”
Missy smiled. “My dear Doctor, if you've grown up then I'm afraid there's no hope for any of us.”
“You'll inevitably betray me and break my hearts,” he said.
“So why, exactly, should I trust you?”
“You shouldn't. But if you stay here you're going to regret it every bit as much as I would. I'm saving you from yourself.” They stopped in front of the TARDIS. Missy looked up at the Doctor. “You can drive,” she said, generously.
“Where are we going?” he said, fishing in his pockets for the key.
“You once said that you'd fight me across the constellations. I'm going to hold you to that.”
“We don't have to fight,” he said. “Not everything's a battle.”
“You're so naïve.” She smiled. “Never change.”
“I'll try not to,” he said, stepping into the TARDIS.
Missy followed him in without so much as a backwards glance.