My mind simply blanked. For seconds all I was able to do was to stare at the man in front of me, not knowing what even scared me so much about him. The Doctor had barely told anything, neither had the TARDIS. And still, my heart did its best to escape its confinements, the adrenalin in my blood made my head light, but froze my body.
And in that moment I realized that the Master, as he was, with all the emanating danger, felt as oddly real as no one else before had. As if he were the only true person within the entirety of existence, as if I had never met anyone before who had been truly… alive.
"The Doctor sent you here, didn't he?" the Master asked in a mocking tone. "'Cause he has. Doesn't have the guts to come himself."
I opened my mouth to speak, to say something, but no sound escaped my lungs. The Master fisted a hand into my collar, pressed me right into the wall and leaned down to my face, the green tint in his eyes glinting with madness. And he… blinked, relaxed, looked at me almost dumbfounded.
"Do I know you?" His eyes narrowed to slits as he observed my face.
I lightly shook my head, although I was suddenly unsure it was even true. But that wasn't possible. I had never met him… I… hadn't?
"No, I remember his pets. You're a new stray, aren't you?" The mock was back in his voice, contrasting the blooming anger in his gaze and the hand that tightened its grip on my clothes. "I'm gone for some days and he picks up a new one. Bet he couldn't wait to be rid of me," the Master spat.
"I… don't think… It wasn't like that," I stammered.
"No?" His lips spread to a snide smile. "Then tell me where he is hidden. I don't need him interfering with any of this."
I gulped and tried to calm myself. Somehow. I hadn't ran away only to end up being killed by someone I had no business with!
"He… hid the TARDIS in a nearby park, " I told. "Just a few blocks away. But… it wasn't him."
"What wasn't him? Don't try my patience, human." The Master's gaze locked with mine, distracting my racing mind. Remaining eye contact and simultaneously having a conversation was always hard for me and this was a completely new level of challenge.
"The TARDIS, she said that. You need to get back and fix her."
"Don't play dumb on me," his low voice warned. "The ship can't say anything. What is he planning?"
With that he pressed me even more against the door, his fist boring into my throat, restraining the amount of oxygen I could get. My head started to feel light, even spun a little. On instinct I tried to loosen his grip, but had no chance. And all I could get out was a choked sound that barely resembled a word.
The Master let go of my collar, but right as I sucked in some air, he had already grabbed both of my wrists, pinning them above my head. He was so close, I could feel the warmth of his body, could feel the almost suffocating aura of danger around him. It was instinct to struggle, but he had effectively trapped me, made it impossible for me to do anything, so I forced myself to keep still and frozen.
"You will tell me everything I want to know," he growled and fixated my eyes. There was something incredibly dark in them, something old, something mad, something that spoke to a part deep within me. "No lies, no stories."
Something that told me to obey.
"Yes, Master, " I muttered, having suddenly lost all will to fight. A small voice in the back of my head tried to stop me as I told everything that had happened recently, but the rest of me didn't… couldn't listen. My mind was split in half, one side screaming in terror at what I did, the other obedient and willing to do whatever he would tell me to do.
"Well, that is quite a story." The Master had listened closely to my monotone voice. "Means he has a clue I'm here." With a scowl he finally let go of my wrists and stepped away, not before commanding, "Don't move."
And so I didn't.
Somehow I now felt strangely calm, or rather… empty. Not in a bad way. I simply stopped being someone. But that was the extent of thoughts that made their way to my consciousness. Don't move. I didn't know or think any more than that, while the Master paced up and down. Hadn't there been a part of me rebelling, just a moment before? Or had I imagined it? Why would I even?
"You…" Suddenly he stopped and faced me with dark eyes. "Go to the Doctor and tell him, you didn't find a thing."
I nodded, but raised a brow.
"He said, everyone before me told the same. I'm not sure he will believe it."
What had he told? - 'This screams hypnotism!'
Yeah, right. Hypnotism. A strange word. It wanted to scratch something on the edge of my awareness, but couldn't.
"Right. Clever." He smirked at me. "So, what you're saying is, that he won't believe anything I'd command you to tell him, is that correct?"
"Which also means that there is no reason for me to let you run. Is that also correct?"
Was it? I opened my mouth, snapped it close again and contemplated the question. "There is no logical reason for you to keep me here," I finally concluded. "The Doctor won't believe me, no matter what. But if I stay he will also try and get in here."
"Logic?" The Master laughed out and jabbed my head. "I didn't ask for that."
"You didn't specify the question." And since something in my mind had decided to simply shut down and answer whatever he asked, I did what seemed most natural to me.
Again I noticed how strangely calm I had gotten. A hand automatically wandered over my chest, lightly pressed down on it to feel the faint pulsating of my heartbeat. What was this? I was scared, but I couldn't feel it, my body didn't act as if I were. In all my wonderment it took me almost a second to realize that another hand slowly pushed mine away to press against the same spot. Confused, I glanced up and met the Master's amused smirk.
"You're not in control of yourself anymore," he said proudly. "Your will belongs to me and me alone, now."
"It does?" My question was calm, detached.
"Mhm." The Master chuckled. "It's called hypnotism." That word again. Right, I knew what it meant. Of course I did. "Although it is remarkable that you can still wonder about it. Would be easier if you couldn't. But like this..." He laughed quietly, removed his hand and pushed my chin upwards. "...it's much more fun to play with you. Actually… I think I will keep you around for a while. You are terrified about this."
The last sentence had been a statement, not a question. And instantly my heart rate spiked, my palms got sweaty and my whole body tensed up. The Master stared at me for a second, then he stepped back, clapped his hands together and let out another laugh.
Watching him I sank down to the floor, too shaky to stand any longer. All the fear and panic I had repressed before now washed over me like an icy ocean wave. My whole body trembled and it was hard to hold back tears. How I managed was impossible to tell. I wanted it to stop, wanted to dissolve into nothingness. I wrapped my arms around my torso, dragged my knees up to my chest that hurt unbearably from the tremors that went through it. Not the first time I felt like this. Not the first. There had been a moment before. One. One of knowing I would certainly die if anyone would find out where I was, knowing I would be beaten to death or so much I would wish to die. I remembered the night, spent in fear, the moment when the bell had rung and my father had stood there, in the doorway, asking my aunt if anyone had seen me. Me, hiding behind their sofa, in a tiny corner, curled together to a shaky ball, wishing I could run out and hide in my father's arms instead. I wanted to be held, wanted him to protect me, just once. Just once in my life. Protect me from her. But I didn't budge, didn't move, briefly I wondered if he would just watch how she beat me to an unrecognizable remnant of whatever I had once been.
There was a hand on my shoulder, tearing through the flashback, ripping through the triggered emotions of long gone times. It was warm and real and the only thing anchoring me in the presence. A sob shook me as I felt a figure kneel in front of me, speaking something that couldn't make its way through to me. He tugged my arms from my knees, pulled me up a bit, rough, sending a spark of pain through my wrist. A spark that bore itself into the images of the flashback, that was like a glowing grain of sand falling into an iceberg. No longer was I in control of anything, only shot forward and wrapped my arms around the figure in front of me, sobbed tearlessly and trembled, felt the person stiffen to unmovable stone... Only to then rip me away from him and throw me backwards. My head thudded painfully against the wall, making me groan.
"Don't you ever do that again!" a voice spat hatefully. A hand grabbed my chin, made me look into greenish hazel eyes that were filled with hatred and contempt. "Fine. You're not terrified. But you are scared. Scared enough to stay wherever I put you. Do not ask questions, do not struggle. And don't touch me!"
Trembling I sat up, rubbed a hand over my face while my breath allowed itself to calm from almost hyperventilating to a fearful hitch. The Master was squatting in front of me, lips curled to what could only be described as a snarl. I winced as my eyes met his, the rage and… confusion? He shot to his feet before I could properly make it out, then he reached down, grabbed my elbow and tore me up.
"Let's find a nice spot to lock you away," he growled. "And then I'll decide what happens to you."