Numbly I followed the Master to another office room. This one, too, was filled with all sorts of alien tech, but I felt no more desire to touch any of it. A vague fear was occupying most of my thought, a fear that, as I realized, wasn't even real.
The longer this word lingered in my awareness, the more it gnawed its way to the forefront. It wasn't as if I didn't know what it meant, my mind only refused to grasp its meaning, so I would stay under its influence. However, even knowing what it did to me didn't help, didn't break the control or dispel the tightness in my guts. Barely did I realize how the Master pointed at two other rooms. One was a small bathroom, the other a kitchen.
"You can keep yourself clean and fed. Don't dare and bother me with any of your pesky human requirements."
I simply nodded, already dreading the hours to come. There would be boredom, there would be thoughts, there would be a constant fear of what might happen to me.
The Master bent down a little, tapped on my head four times and grinned at me. "I'll see if I can find the Doctor and if I can…" He chuckled to himself, hinting at nothing good.
"Why have you sabotaged the TARDIS when you don't want him near you?" I dared to ask, my hands, however, starting to shake from the fear of having gone too far. A reaction that reminded me by far too much of the time I had been literally crippled by social anxiety.
Perplexed, I blinked up at him, unsure if it was a lie. Would I say the wrong thing, he might get mad and hurt me. And it was always so incredibly easy to fall into that trap. One word, one look, a single involuntary movement of my body, all of it had the potential to be interpreted in the wrong way. Because what made sense to me often seemed to be downright insulting to others. Even when it only was not to look them in the eyes long enough.
The pleased expression on the Master's face told me it was the right thing to keep quiet. Or was it what my mind read into it, doused in fear as it was. I watched as he turned and left the room, drawing the door close almost carefully.
Again. Again it felt as if I had experienced something like this before. The familiarity was uncanny, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not recall what might trigger the feeling. Instead I sat in one of the office chairs - a big, comfy one with armrests - drew my knees up under my chin and wrapped both arms around them.
Would he find the Doctor? Would he hurt him? Had I doomed the other man to his certain death? Would his blood, figuratively, soak my hands? What would happen to myself? Would the Master just keep me as some sick version of a toy? Would he hurt me? And if so, how?
Deliberately I took some deep breaths, inflated my lungs and held the air for some seconds, before slowly exhaling again. I repeated the process, over and over again, usually a great method to ground myself and get calm.
Now, it would not work.
The sarcastic voice drilled through the wall of mad dreams. Violently I snapped awake, jolted upwards in the office chair and blinked at the Master.
"Didn't expect you to fall asleep with all that fear that must plague you." His lips spread to a wolfish grin.
"Guess I'm just used to it," I mumbled and got rewarded by a new flood of snippets of memories from long - and some not so long ago - times. I somewhat shook them off and straightened, finding a curious look on the face above me. I nodded to the kitchen door. "Please tell me you have coffee in there."
He bent forward, observing my eyes. And as I tried to look away he even grabbed my chin to force me to look at him. It was hard enough on its own to keep eye contact, but to be forced into it was always extra unnerving.
It never felt like this.
The thought shot through my head and puzzled me. Why would it be any different with the Master than with everyone else? Only because he wasn't human? That barely made any sense and also, clearly, wasn't even true. Quite the opposite. Glaring into the ancient depths of his green eyes unnerved me in a way I couldn't even begin to describe. As if I were looking into something that wasn't even… real, as if I would be staring into something impossible, like an infinite mirror. bending and twisting in on itself over and over and over again.
"I left you here for barely half an hour," he finally mocked, followed by a mean laugh and he let go of me. "Doubt you got used to being scared, just yet."
"Yeah, you're right," I mumbled and made my way to the kitchen. How would he know I had gotten used to it many, many years before.
The Master followed closely, hands in his pockets and observing my every movement as if I were an interesting animal.
"You're lucky," he drawled. "I couldn't find your boyfriend."
"Eh?" I made confused. "'m single, what're you talking about?"
I was confused as to what he might mean and also scared of the possibility of him maybe having found out about a crush I had for quite some time now. But how would he…
"I mean the Doctor, dumbas. All his pets seem to fall for him. Just assumed you did the same."
Finally I had found a pack of coffee and the matching machine to it. My hands were slightly shaking when I added the powder into the filter, reminding me of my still racing heartbeat. Maybe coffee wasn't the best idea in that state.
"I didn't even have time for that," I defended myself sourly. "And why would I?"
The Master shrugged and gave me a pitiful glance. "Humans seem to just love the hero type."
"'n you're mad they don't fall for the villain?" I gave back sarcastically.
"Pshaw! Your kind is disgusting! I don't want them flirting with me." He scrunched up his nose in clear disgust. "And he's not that much of a hero anyway. Just makes you all believe so."
I shrugged. "Can't judge that. He still seemed a lot nicer than you are."
A snicker came from the Master. "Oh, you have no idea, ape."
"I have a name, you know."
"Yeah, and I don't want to know about it." The amused twinkle vanished from his eyes, got replaced by one that was a lot crazier.
Ice cold adrenaline shot through my guts, making me wonder if I had been too cheeky. My body froze for several moments, waiting, anticipating. But he didn't budge. Only as I was about to pour me a cup of the freshly brewed beverage, did he stop me, snatched my wrist and hurled me around so I was forced to face him.
"Oh, no no no, you will not just casually sip some stuff while I'm here." With a rough hitch he dragged me right in front of him, in an angle that forced me to bend my head backwards to face him. My heartbeat sped up even more, making me newly aware of the constant fear he had induced. A pleased expression settled in his features at my sight. "The hypnotism is still working. Great, isn't it?"
"No?" I gasped.
The Master pursed his lips, still smiling. "You're right. It's not really good… enough." As much as the horror of what might come grew within me, so did the grin on his face. "I think I want to hear about what made you so resilient to fear. I want to dig out a few of these really nasty memories. Does that sound like more fun?"
"No! Not at all."
He smiled like a little boy as he released my wrist and instead grabbed my head with both hands. Skin connected with skin and I closed my eyes to brace me for what was to come. I knew it shouldn't hurt to have him in my mind, remembered that I even liked it quite a lot.
Wait! I do what?
My eyes shot open and searched the Master's. Filled with glee and madness, anticipation. But it was still wrong. They always had been hazel, but never so green. And he hadn't been blond. And…
Golden light filled my vision all of a sudden, spread within my heart and my mind and felt warm and assuring.
I knew the voice. But how could she reach me here?
Within this place he has more power over you. You cannot flee, not resist.
I could not answer, had no way to react or to make her know I could hear. It almost felt as if I were back inside the TARDIS, back in that moment when we had connected. However, I could still feel the fingers on my temples, could still feel the edge of agony searing through my mind.
Let me lend you my light, child of the void. It is all I can do.
The sound of stars rang in my ears, like soft chimes, singing in the wind. The light faded from my vision, the warmth turned into bitter cold, digging into my chest.
I gasped as a pain seared through my head like a burning knife, whimpered as it grew in intensity. A leviathan moved through the windings of my mind, walzed its way through thought and emotions, memories and dreams. But it was like magnets with the same pole, pushing away from one another, unable to ever stay close.
A nasty curse distracted me from the sensation, from the pain. The Master tried to dig deeper into me, his essence moving with precision and force, cutting and ripping through my very soul. I completely froze, overwhelmed and hurting and just wanting it to stop already, begging for him to remember, to find whatever was hidden and lost and exploded!
The Master shot away from me, stumbled backwards as billions and billions of sparks and stars combusted in front of my eyes. The pressure eased, as did the pain. I groaned from the relief, dropped to my knees and tried to blink the sparks away, but couldn't.
In the spreading silence I finally was able to catch my breath and steady my throbbing pulse.
"You…" the Master muttered.
I looked up, blinked and rubbed my eyes to no avail. The room had darkened, drowned in white and blue glowing sparks. No wonder I was unable to get them out of my head. They were no longer there, but all around us! Amazed I stretched a hand out, tapped a spark and watched wide eyed how it exploded into million tiny copies of itself.
The Master took a step closer, moving through the sparks with so much caution as if he feared they would hurt him. But all they did was to move out of the way, seemingly unable to touch him. Our eyes met and I found confusion and wonderment in them.
For long seconds he glared at me, towering. He only spoke three words, but all of them chilled me right to the bones.
"Who are you?"