Slowly the Master raised his head, glared at me with a mix of disbelieve and almost hatred. He swiped my hands away from him, grabbed my wrists and shot to his feet, dragging me right along. The back of my head hit stone as I thudded against the wall, black dots sparking in front of my lids. The Master pushed himself against me. I was trapped, unable to move, dizzy and confused.
"I will break your silly mind, lil' lumin." The Master snickered, wrapped his fingers around my head, thumbs sliding under the stems of my glasses to rest on the temples. The pressure was light enough not to hurt, but so firm that it was uncomfortable.
My unspoken protest drowned in a sudden and ever growing pressure within my head, as if something was there with me that didn't belong. I gasped at the sensation, instinctively tried to struggle, but the Master held me in place. The sensation filled out my head, it hurt, spread within every fibre of my consciousness. Somehow I let out a whimper, gritted my teeth and fisted both hands into his shirt. Ragged breaths escaped my burning lungs. My heart hammered in its cage like a panicking animal.
Then it stopped.
No, it wasn't gone, I realized; only dampened to a manageable level, an unpleasant tingling on the crown of my head. It felt as if something crept through my mind, like... an energy of sorts. As if... as if...
"Hm..." made the Master. "That probably hurt, didn't it?" He chuckled lightly. "Needs getting used to, to navigate a human mind."
"Wha'... re y... doin'?" I brought out, barely able to speak.
"Don't you feel it? I'm right here."
The sensation in my head got stronger again, but this time not hurtful. I managed to concentrate on it, to feel... him? I grasped the edge of a thought, the tingling of an emotion that wasn't mine. He was inside my mind... literally.
"How... d'you do tha'?"
Shaky breaths escaped my lips, no, my whole body was trembling. There was no pain anymore, but it was so foreign, so weird. It exhausted me on a level I couldn't even comprehend and still...
"There. Listen!" the Master demanded, pressing his thumbs harder against my head.
Alright. If that was what he wanted... I tried. I listened deep inside of me, focused on the sensation of his presence within my own. Something was there, tugging at me, begging to be let in. I groaned in exhaustion, unable to grasp what was happening to me.
"I... c... can't," I mumbled, surprised I was still able to speak. "I hear nothing."
Utter silence filled the room for mere seconds. The Master let out a breath, more a noiseless sigh that told of and exhaustion far deeper than I experienced. One he must be carrying around for who knows how many years or decades... centuries even. His presence stayed with me, his forehead dropped against mine. Raw emotions flooded me, frustration, anger, and a deep, oh so deep sadness.
"I'm sorry," I muttered, meaning it and hoping he might sense that. "I tried. I really did."
He pinched his eyes shut, clenched his teeth as if in pain. It felt as if he was close to tears. His hands slid from my temples and to my cheeks, thumbs stroking lightly over them. Our eyes met and I saw a raw, almost animalistic desperation. Or did I imagine it?
The same moment I realised he had left my mind, my head started to feel too light, heart-rate speeding up, my skin suddenly clammy and sweaty. It was impossible to stand upright, the world around spinning too fast, making me sick.
The Master caught me before I could collapse, carried my shaking self to the bed and carefully dropped me there.
"You're still week," he said tonelessly. "No wonder. You were dead just some hours ago."
Shaking and freezing as I was I curled myself to a ball on my side, trembling. The Master had long slipped out of my mind, but something had still changed, was still lingering. As if he had awakened something deep within me, something that always had been there, but dormant.
I observed the Master while my body calmed down. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. The black dots in front of my eyes started to fade a little, the lying position making it easier for my circulation not to collapse completely. He looked as tired as I felt.
"What was that?" I wanted to know and his eyes met mine again, cold, but not wearing the same cruelness in them as before.
"Time Lords have psychic abilities," he explained calmly and sat next to me on the bed. If it was to get comfortable or because he wouldn't have to look at me in that position I couldn't tell. "We can see in each others' minds, we can even communicate like that. Even from afar... if the connection between two individuals is either strong enough by nature or strengthened artificially."
"Felt more like you were physically rummaging around in there," I grudgingly grumbled.
The Master chuckled and turned his head to look down at me, a sarcastic smirk playing on his lips. "Well, humans have not yet discovered that ability. You have some capacity for it. Not as strongly as we do, but..." He shrugged and chuckled. "Your own fault if it hurt."
"Pffff, bugger." Exhaling and curling myself together some more I managed to stay conscious. The weak moment had passed. "Damn, that's tiresome."
"I didn't tone it down." A mean snickering came from his direction. "Was curious if your head would burst."
"Liar," I mumbled. "You wanted it to be strong, so I can hear your drums."
At that he was silent, and although I had my eyes closed, I knew he was glaring hatefully at me. It couldn't have bothered me less. It was still cold and my body acted up, no matter how much I pretended to be a ball.
Some rustling came from nearby and suddenly there was something on me, over me. A blanket, I realised after a confused moment, and opened my eyes to blink perplex at the Master.
"Stay," he offered with a surprisingly warm smile. "You're in no shape to move around."
No, I really wasn't. "But, what's with you?"
The Master raised a brow, one corner of his lips twitching upwards. "Time Lords don't need much sleep."
"Might be," I mumbled into the blanket. "But you look like you could fall asleep on the spot."
He really did, no matter how much he tried to hide it.
"You think giving up a part of your life force isn't draining?"
"Dunno." I huffed. "Never done that. Still, proves my point." Somehow I managed to pick myself from the mattress and shoved the cuddly blanket away. "My room isn't far from here, I can..."
"It's much quieter."
Those words were confusing, seemingly so out of context. It got cold again, now that the blanket was gone, but I couldn't just stay, could I? Right now, no one expected me to be here, no one would be there to help if things truly escalated. (Well, they already had, considering how he had messed up my head.)
Speaking of which, it promptly got dizzy again, just by sitting up. A small groan escaped me as I swayed and involuntarily dropped against the Master. He promptly shoved me away, however not forcefully. Instead he only pushed against my shoulder, forced me to lay back down and even stole my glasses with a chuckle when I tried to prevent him from doing so.
He practically pinned me down, both of his hands around my wrists and a determined, albeit wicket grin on his face. "You're not in charge here," he claimed sweetly.
"What do you want?!" I almost shouted and scowled at him. "Besides, you are aware how this looks, right?"
"Right... It scares you when people get too close." He deliberately bent over me, smiling even wider. "You're still afraid I could lay hands on you."
I tensed at the words, squirmed uncomfortably in his grip, but the Master only chuckled and even let go of me.
"I'm not human," he spoke, his voice forebodingly low. "And if I ever experience any desire to harm you, I'll satisfy it without dirtying myself."
Suddenly he sighed and seemingly swayed. Maybe he was a lot more exhausted than he was willing to admit. The Master turned away, but only to lay down himself next to me. In the same motion he draped the blanket back over my shoulders, leaving himself bare, however.
"There, see?" he sarcastically stated, "Enough space for yourself."
"Why not just letting me go?" I mumbled, pursing my lips.
He lay there, one arm under his head, facing me, his look thoughtful. "It's quieter around you," he finally admitted. "Barely noticed it, at first, but now..."
"You mean the drumming?"
"What is it? Is it always there?"
"I'll tell you another day," he muttered, no longer hiding his tired state, "and yeah, always. Sometimes louder. Much louder since the fob watch released me. Has gotten worse ever since."
"Why... can't I hear it?" I quietly wanted to know.
There suddenly was such a sadness on his face, it made my chest clench for a moment. How long was he carrying this all around, already? "I don't know. No one could, so far. Maybe the Doctor is right, after all. Maybe I'm simply insane." He huffed and closed his eyes, still smiling a little. "You're not going to stab my back if I take a little nap, right?"
What a dumb que- ... Well, actually it wasn't. Thinking about it, there would be no better opportunity to rid the universe of such a cruel and ruthless person. The memory snippets had only revealed a tiny portion of how much trouble and suffering his mere existence had caused already. And then the Master had handed me a gun and I had...
"No, of course not!" I indignantly protested, shoving the memories away.
The smile faded as his breath got more even, tiredness finally claiming him as much as myself.
"You're a weird one," he mumbled. "'m glad I kept you."
Somehow I was too. Slowly, but insistently the strange realisation settled within me, that I actually regretted nothing. Every step had brought me here, and if given the choice, I would always repeat them.
Sure, the Master was a monster to many, and maybe the Doctor had given up on him, already. But, in a sense, I was weirdly sure to have found a friend in him. He would never admit it, nor would I. Still, there was more to him than the openly displayed cruelty. And I had met enough truly bad people to sense, that he was not entirely evil.
Not that I had any clue what to make of this. It might be a fruitless thought. But in the dark fog of my fading mind I developed the weird urge to give something back, to keep an eye on him, however much of an selfish act it might be.
Carefully I huddled a little closer and wrapped the blanket over his shoulders. The Master stirred, tensed, his eyes shot open, searching for any threat, but finding none as they settled on my face. It seemed to dawn on him that there was no danger and his features relaxed again.
The space under the blanket got cold fast, however uncomfortable, so I scurried closer a bit, head resting against his chest, where the faint an alien rhythm of his hearts lulled me in.
"Idiot," he mumbled, but didn't bother to shove me away.