There was neither light nor temperature in this place, nor was there emotion or memory. Only the nothingness, the void. Floating... through an endless ocean of calm, in the river of still-stood time. I merely existed.
A light. Something stirred in me.
A spec of not-darkness.
Another one. And suddenly... thousands more, bursting through the blackness like a snowstorm, raising , shooting through the void. Golden stars, audibly glittering all around. The noises became loud, so loud. One of them came close. I raised my arms to cover my face.
He was all alone on the hill, watching the suns set and tinting the red grass in beautiful purple. The last night here. The last hours. Soon he would steal a TARDIS, do as the Doctor had done... without him, even though they had vowed to travel the universe together, to escape the strict rules of their home to be free. But he had gotten oh so scared. And now he was alone. But he wouldn't stay. There was so much to see, to do.
Another star, it chimed so loud, whispering, singing.
Someone hummed a melody, faint and beautiful. He sat there and listened for a while, smiled even when her gaze met his. She hadn't agreed to hand over information, instead she would sing the oldest ballad of her home for him. When the woman was done he stood, smiled, raised his laser gun and shot a hole right through her chest. For not being useful.
Light, chiming, flashing.
How many planets had he conquered already? He sat on the table and looked over star maps, marking every place with a small red X. This was getting boring.
Stars. So many stars. All hitting, all singing, too fast, too many.
Music. People dancing. Someone laughed. From somewhere else there came a scream, then fire burst through the giant window. He ran. He ran over red fields, looked behind, saw the face of a smiling boy his age, grinned back. There were creatures as old as the universe, and he had the key to control them, make them obey him. The book's pages crumbling to dust under his fingers.
Blood. Screams. He didn't care. His goal was clear.
He cried up at the stars, begged them to give him a new body, to end his agony. Hands shrivelled, the hood hurting his decaying skin.
Chimes and whistles.
They all betrayed him in the end. Why should he even try to be good? Each time he did, it ended bad. So bad. He dragged himself to the TARDIS, hand pressing against the wound, knowing he wouldn't make it in time.
Millions of golden stars burst into dust. It was so beautiful, calm destruction.
He could. Oh he could indeed love. But may he be dammed to ever let another living thing steal his hearts. Betrayed again, by his own kind. It hurt. It hurt so damn much he didn't even know if it would kill him or not.
Sharp edges of blinding lights.
A laugh, loud and cruel. It was fun, it felt good. To just let go, to no longer care for anything but his own goals. Might this daft boy die here for him, if it meant to get a new body. What should he care?
An echo. A sound. Rippling through the chimes.
Red skies, burning. Blood and smoke and fire. The smell of burnt flesh, hot metal stinking. The carcasses of machines piling up around him. Good warrior. Do as we say. No. He shook his head, glared down at his shred hands. No more. No more. Not with me!
The sound. Louder than before. Closer. Stars fading, slowing.
He bent over, sick to his stomach, shaking, cold sweat on his skin. Still wearing the clothes of the old fool he had pretended to be. It was so loud. So loud. He wanted to scream. He wanted to make the Doctor suffer for bringing them back, for dragging him out of the fob watch. It wasn't fair!
It's not fair, I thought without knowing what it meant, reaching my hand out to touch the last passing star. There had been almost silence, but they had been brought back.
What had been?
Why where there no stars anymore?
It was so dark all of a sudden. So dark and lonely. All that had stayed behind was the sound, the steady, approaching sound. The closer it came the better I heard, the clearer I got, the farther away something pulled me from it. But I had to stay! I had to know! I wanted the stars back! It was... it was... calm. There was no pain, had not been. Now there was something, something bad. This place no longer accepted me, pushed me away, far, far away from the approaching noise.
Darkness. A flash. A breath, taken deep, as if resurfacing from a deep dive. And there the sound was. I had found it!
Du — du — du — du
It guided me. Like a beacon through the everlasting void.
Du — du — du — du
Soothing. Repeating. Always repeating. Always the same.
Du — du — du — du
Du — du — du — du
Du — du — du — du
It changed. Was the same and was not. Became cold, threatening. The beating closed in on me, ate into my mind, spread through my very existence. Every beat vibrating through me, hurting. No, not hurting. Still...
Light. There was light. And sounds, more sounds than the drumming. Slight buzzing of electric lights, beeps and whirrs from strange machines. A breath. The rustling of cloth. All of it drowning out the ever repeating four beats.
There were only two. Fast, but steady. My own heart.
My eyes opened so slow as if bricks weighed them down, as if someone had glued them together, the effort to drag my lids upwards almost too much. Success... in the end. I blinked. Above me was a white ceiling, plain and without information.
What was I laying on? Soft. A mattress? No blanket, but it was warm in here. My head turned to the right, found a room, not large, filled with strange machines that blinked and beeped. There was a simple folding chair and on it... a man. I knew him, didn't I? The brown, tousled hair, the rectangular specs.
He looked up, raised a brow and closed the book he had been reading.
"Ah, you're awake," the Doctor stated the obvious, his voice strangely sounding almost disappointed? No, it was something else. "A little too early."
"Wha'..." My own voice was raspy, sounded strange to my own ears.
"It's okay," he assured with a small, warm smile. He stood and trod closer, bent a little down to me, hands in his suit pockets. "You're out of danger." His brows raised again and he drawled, "Might take a while to fully heal, though."
My mind barely processed his words. Everything was so foggy, hard to grasp. "I'm... alive." The simple truth, albeit without meaning in my current inane state.
The Doctor's face turned thoughtful again, his brows knitted together tightly, looked at something behind me. Carefully I turned my head to the left and found I wasn't occupying the sickbed alone. The Master was there, a hand's width away. He lay on his side, facing me and sound asleep, head draped on one bent arm. Confused I looked back at the Doctor.
"What's he doing here?" It made no sense. Nothing made, right now, but his presence seemed weirder than the rest.
"Weeell..." The Doctor straightened, ruffled the hair on his neck. "See, that's the thing. You're still alive because of him. Came stomping in here, shouting, insulting me... carrying you."
"I was gone," I muttered weekly, remembering the dark, the calm.
"Yes..." He visibly hesitated, kneading his hands. "You were dead. Proper dead, I mean. Not for long, however. The Master, he... it's hard to explain. I have no idea why he did it. Honestly."
"Safe you." There was a deep sigh as he pushed both hands inside his pant pockets. "It's hard to bring one back from death. Possible, if it was recent enough. Dangerous, though. Oh... oh so dangerous..." He trailed off, staring into the distance. His eyes returned to me, questions upon questions shining within them. "Shared a part of his own life force with you."
"Huh?" I only managed to blink perplex, unable to understand what this meant.
"Told him not to. It's risky. Could have gone wrong. Very wrong." He clicked his tongue, raising his brows again in wonderment. "Didn't listen to a word I said. Now, here he is, probably lost a few years of his own life... not that he would hesitate to steal them back from someone else... Still... It's an exhaustive process."
"Is he... okay?" I asked, looking back at the sleeping Time Lord. In opposite to me he didn't have any tubes hanging on him. Why did I? Everything was so hard to grasp. Was I asleep? Was this even real? My eyes closed, my mind drifting away. Tired, so tired. But no... I had to know. "Will he be alright?"
For the first time the Doctor chuckled lightly. "Daaaah, of course he will! The Master is like... Hell, I sometimes don't believe he even can die!" He waved his words away and rocked back and forth on his heels. "He's just exhausted. Needs rest, as do you. And part of his life force is still flowing into you."
"I don't feel anything," I mumbled, pouting a little. Something like that happened and I couldn't even notice.
"Mhm... doesn't surprise me. Humans aren't very sensible to that. Well... anyway. I'll let you sleep a little more. Until the transfer is fully done you two have to stay close. So, even if you wake up again, don't run off, okay?"
I hummed confirming, already drifting back into darkness. Alive. What did that even mean? It made as less sense as everything else. My eyes were so heavy. It was... cold. No, it wasn't. Not in the room, but inside myself. How weird. And I missed the soothing noise from before. Not the threatening one, but... right. I remembered where it had come from and turned to my side, huddling close to the Master to rest my head against his chest.
"Oh, I wouldn't do... that..." the Doctor's voice stumbled into my fading consciousness. "Ah, well... whatever."
I had no clue what he meant, the void claiming me back, the only thing inside my awareness was the soothing rhythm of four against my ear, lulling me in, dispelling the cold. Finally.
Finally it was warm.