There was a pause stretching between the two of us, my heart hammered in my throat, a foreboding feeling threatening to overwhelm me. What the hell had I gotten myself into? What was I doing to say something like that? And what would I do if it wouldn't stay at simple words?
My previous words scared me more than the Master could in that moment. Because they were true.
Suddenly he burst out laughing, bending back and clapping his hands together. It took him a good few seconds to calm down and grin back at me, then he produced something from his jacket pocket. "Close your eyes."
I did. It wasn't as if I could defend myself against whatever he wanted to do to me. And in that very moment it didn't feel as if he wanted to harm me. My gut feeling proved to be right, the only thing that happened was that I felt how he slid my glasses on my nose, carefully, almost gently.
"Look at me, lill' lumin," he commanded in a soft voice.
Slowly I opened my lids, my eyes needed a moment to adapt after so many hours, but the glasses sat perfectly, not needing to be adjusted. There was a pleased, subtle smile on the Master's face.
"Why'd you always call me that?" I asked. He had used that term a few times already.
He shrugged. "Because you're small."
I pursed my lips. "'m not that tiny," I grumbled. "Wasn't what I asked, anyway. What does 'lumin' mean?"
He quirked a brow. "Means the same as Lucy... Light."
"Oh. Right. You didn't like my name." I smiled at the notion that he went so far to give me a new name, but with the same meaning, when he would have been perfectly able to simply keep insulting me with calling me ape or something.
"So, how about we steal the TARDIS now?" he offered with a sweet, boyish smile.
I couldn't. It just wasn't... right? Why did it bother me anyway? There was nothing to gain from not going with him, nothing to lose.
"No?" The Master tilted his head, voice sounding surprisingly unconcerned. He hadn't awaited a positive answer.
"I can't trust you," I simply stated.
"No... No you can't. You shouldn't, in fact." He poked his tongue out between his teeth, eyes crinkling.
"Then why would I help you? I might end up gaining nothing from it."
"You might end up not losing anything."
I huffed and turned my head away. "You have to offer more than that." Shrugging I glanced back and smiled impishly. "How about something to eat for a start? I'm starving. And coffee."
The Master rolled his eyes and shot up from the sofa. "If that's all."
"No, it's where we start." I stood too, still smiling. "As it seems you can't kill me or compromise my brain functions too much."
"I could just collect some other stray ape." He bent down to me and scowled.
"You could." I simply nodded, then grinned. "But I assume getting me some food and coffee would take a lot less time, right?"
The Master rolled his eyes, but, at the same time, appeared oddly amused. "Well, then come."
With that he rushed past me and left the room with wide steps, eager to let me fall behind and get lost in the corridors. Remembering the good old military way of walking, I followed without that much problem, fewer but wider steps. Saves energy, gets you farther, actually quite good for short legs like mine.
"How about you tell me some things?" I suggested, trying to hide that my breath was quicker than I liked it to be.
"I might change my mind about helping when I know more about who the person actually is I'm supposed to help, ya know?" There was no answer, so I dared to continue, curiosity winning over, "Where'd you come from? Is it far from earth? And why earth at all? What's your actual name and how old are you?"
Suddenly the Master stopped, making me almost bump into him. Luckily I caught myself in time, taking some deep breaths to calm down my pulse. Dang, my condition was really the worst.
"Who I am?" he repeated with a cold tone and dark eyes. "I am the one who killed countless of your kind already, and believe me, my methods are very creative." A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "I am one who is dangerous enough to be locked away inside this TARDIS to rot, because the Doctor knows I would just burn his beloved earth to the ground would he let me out." With an almost crazed smile he bent down to me a little. "I am the one who doesn't bother about you getting hurt or dying. I am the nightmare you wake up from, screaming and wishing you could simply forget. But you won't. The memory will haunt you for the rest of your pitiful existence."
I hadn't noticed how my heart had sped up due to his words, or rather because I could feel their sincerity. Now, though, I felt it with full force, drumming in my chest, my throat. I had stumbled into some weird story, one about a psychopath, eager to leave as much blood and misery on his way as possible. But what was my own role in it?
"How..." I swallowed and looked away for a second, then back into his cruel hazel eyes. "How did you...kill those people?" Shit, was I really asking that?
Slowly his smile widened as he straightened up and continued the way, slower this time. "Too many ways to get started somewhere. But... you might find that one... funny." The last word was spoken with such a sarcasm that it made me almost shiver. "Once I got the Nestene Consciousness to work with me. They inhibit plastic. And your little planet is so full of that stuff! A true paradise. Remember that time when all mannequins went haywire and started attacking people?"
"Oof, yeah, that was crazy. Only heard in the news, though. That was you?"
"The Nestene. Not me, this time. I was involved some decades before that. Had them inhabit small plastic daffodils that were handed out in the streets. As a nice little gift to everyone." He chuckled.
"And each of those had one of those Nestene inside?"
"Eh, let's leave it at that. The actual explanation would fry you silly small brain."
"Hey! I'm not stupid!"
"Compared to me you are, so be quiet." He ignored my slight sulking and continued, obviously happy to tell about his misdeeds, "The plan was to hand out millions of those, all over the world. And then awaken them via radio signals so they would spring to life and suffocate their owners. Brilliant! Isn't it?" He cast a look at me, boyishly smiling all over his face.
"A bit... complicated." I raised my brows, trying to remember if I had ever heard of an incident that could be linked to this. "It didn't work, though, right?" I tilted my head slightly. No, there was nothing I could remember. "A story like that would be famous."
The Master grumbled something inaudible into his beard. Something about the Doctor being infuriating. I puzzled together that he probably had foiled the plan. "There were still enough people, who died from it," the Master concluded in the end. "There we are."
He opened a door and lead me into a cantina of sorts. It looked modern, but not futuristic, cosy grey and blue tones decorated the room, there was a kitchen counter, some machines I couldn't identify and a table with a bunch of chairs.
"But don't you think I will cook for you or something stupid like that," the Master spat and shoved me in the direction of the machines. "There. They produce whatever you want."
"Just like that?" I curiously tapped the screen in front of me, grinning as it sprang to life and showed a bunch of items. There were different categories, enabling me to let it either produce ingredients or whole meals. "Huh, like a replicator. Cool!"
There was an annoyed growl from behind me and when I looked back, the Master stood there with folded arms and furrowed brows.
"What did I do wrong, this time?" I asked and sighed. "The Star Trek reference?"
"The not being bothered about me telling you about murdering countless of your species," he grumbled.
"Oh... sorry." I shrugged and turned back to the machine, my mind way too occupied by too many choices and a growling stomach. "Is there nothing with meat in it?"
The Master let out an exasperated grunt, stepped next to me and tapped one of the icons.
"Ah, thanks! Missed that one," I exclaimed happily and decided to let the machine produce something that looked like a burger. "Gosh, I'm really starving."
"I'm noticing," came a meek reply.
"Oh, come on. I wasn't even there. Why should it bother me who you murdered?" I raised a questioning eyebrow at him. "It's like crying every time you hear about someone dying in the news."
"Cold hearted twat."
"Wha-haaat?" I let out indignantly. "You're one to talk! You tell it like it's a game!"
"Because it is!" he snapped. "Your race means nothing to me."
"But I am the cold hearted one, yeah?" I snorted and watched the machine as it started to seemingly assemble atoms. It looked like magic, how a plate slowly manifested, then the burger. And next to it a plastic cup with coffee. "Want something, too?" I asked before taking both items to carry them to the table.
"You're insufferable," he growled back.
"A simple 'no' would have done it, too, ya know?"
"How about you don't even try to be nice to me? I won't thank you."
"Nice?" I asked puzzled."Geeze... if being a little considerate already counts as nice, then I really don't want to know what your life looked like, so far." Shaking my head I sat down in one of the chairs and started to shove the burger into me. It was exceptionally delicious and hard to believe that none of it was made out of real ingredients.
The Master planted himself on a chair opposite to me, elbows on the table, chin resting on folded hands. I decided not to be bothered by his staring, too hungry to let the remnants of my beaten social anxiety take over. Somewhere in-between bites, however, I recalled a small detail he had mentioned and I put down the food to glare back at him.
"You said that was some decades ago."
The Master only lifted an eyebrow.
"You... don't look much older than maybe... in your mid thirties or so?" I elaborated.
At that his smug smirk was back. Only that, though, leaving it to me to figure this out.
"You don't age like we do? You get older than humans? Or..." I pondered for a second, coming to the conclusion that the thought wasn't so farfetched, now that I mulled over it. "That's not your actual body, and in reality you're some slimy creature that highjacked it to not attract attention."
With every word his smile grew wider until the Master finally burst out into laughter, from which he recovered quickly, though.
"I like the last one. There are enough species who can do similar things." He chuckled. "But it's the first two. We Time Lords are simply better than you lot. In. Every. Aspect. Means, we don't age as fast as you, and, additionally we live a lot longer. And, on top of that, we don't die so easily. And if we do... well... we can even cheat that, to an extent."
"Okay, I start to believe the thing about the superiority," I let out after swallowing the last bite. "How old are you, then? In earthen years."
He made a face as if he had to actually think about it, but somehow I was convinced he already knew and made it just for show.
"Give or take a few decades," he stated with a smug grin, "roughly nine hundred years."
It took me some seconds to decide whether or not I had heard right. Was that even possible? Was he fooling me? And if not... what did such an old creature really want from me?