"Feels like I haven't seen the sun in months," I mumbled, eyes fixated on the orange sphere on the horizon. "Like… like… I don't know." Maybe like being in lockdown all over again, although my memory of that time was strangely blurred. "Can't really describe it."
We were strolling through London, both with a paper cup of coffee in our hands. The Master hadn't paid for it, simply commanded the poor guy behind the counter to give it out for free. I didn't mind. The store wouldn't go bankrupt from that little.
We also didn't wear face masks, which made me a little uncomfortable. Time Lords might be immune, but I wasn't. And it simply had gotten such a habit that I felt a little naked without one. Not a single person seemed to mind or to even notice, though. Maybe more hypnotism.
"Not afraid anymore I could run off?" I eventually wondered aloud, when we stopped at a bench in a tiny park. I wasn't wearing cuffs or anything else. The Master didn't even keep that much of an eye on me.
Now though he turned and gave me a grin that told he knew exactly what he was doing. "I can tell if people are lying. And I can also tell if they say something right from within their heart."
"Uh… okay. Don't remember a particularly hearty speech of mine."
The Master snickered and poked my head, sitting next to me on the bench. "You blame the Doctor. He's the one who brought you into my handsome clutches." My eye roll was only answered by a poked out tongue. "So you won't have a problem working against him."
"Eh…" Raising both eyebrows I stopped sipping my coffee. "Dunno. How about I just run off when you don't look?"
The Master barked out a laugh. "You wouldn't."
"I know it." He winked at me. "You don't want to return to your pitiful meaningless life."
I shot him a dark look and growled into my coffee.
"And if I keep you, I might find out what makes you so strange."
"Could tell you that," I grumbled with sarcasm. "Well, never heard autism causes one to have a different energy signature, but who knows…" I couldn't help but giggle at my own dumb joke.
"Let's see how long you can laugh." A truly wicked grin accompanied his warning.
"Still want me to crumble from fear?"
"Ah, you've got it. Good little human."
I sighed. "I have a name."
"Still don't want to hear-"
The Master scowled at me, darkly. Then, as if nothing had happened, he simply continued, "Were not out here for mere amusement. Things will happen and you will not interfere."
"'Kay." I shrugged, not really willing to put up a fight.
My reaction clearly amused the Master. It seemed he was used to different responses. No matter his plans, he definitely was not a good guy. Not even remotely.
"Just so I know when to look bored and not move a muscle, what's supposed to happen?" I asked, glaring at my empty coffee as if that would fill the mug again.
"I sent a signal," the Master told, nonchalantly. "The Doctor thinks I broke his TARDIS. So I offered to repair the damage. In return he's not allowed to interfere with my plans anymore."
"You have lost your bite, Master," came a sarcastic, but happy voice from behind us.
We turned to find the Doctor sauntering towards us, hands in his suit pockets under the coat. An apologetic smile wandered towards me, but I only answered it with a dark frown.
"You knew he'd catch me," I grumbled, thumping at the Master.
The smile dropped. "No. I… I hoped not." The Doctor's eyes shot to the other Time Lord. "You haven't harmed Lucy, right? It was my idea, not hers and-"
"Not much," the Master said with a wicked smile.
"Liar," I mumbled. "You both are."
"Oi, I didn't lie!" the Doctor protested. "Maybe… I wasn't completely honest about the amount of danger…"
The Master laughed and jumped from the bench to step to the other man. "You can never be honest about that. Especially not when it comes to me." Casually he shoved his own coffee paper mug into the Doctor's hands. It was still full. "Come, sit, drink. We'll both be better off if we settle things here and now."
"Uhm… well… yeah. Probably, you're right." The Doctor gave the other man a wide, somewhat proud smile and sat next to me on the bench, emptying half the coffee. "Alright. First things first, then…"
"I never sabotaged your stupid TARDIS," the Master interrupted, hands folded behind his back, the look dark. "How even?"
The Doctor opened his mouth and shut it again. For some moments he thought and emptied the rest of his mug, before placing it on the bench.
"I thought about it before and it didn't make sense," he admitted. "I just put two and two together, you know."
The Master snorted. "Always blaming me for everything."
"To be fair, you are quite the troublemaker. And the TARDIS only started malfunctioning after you vanished."
The answer was a mock pout.
"I mean… she even said you could fix her."
"Wrong, Doctor," the Master drawled. "The human told you that."
At those words his eyes wandered over me and suddenly I found myself being the centre of attention. Something I definitely disliked.
"It wasn't a lie," I grumbled sourly and glared at the Master. "I didn't know you existed when she spoke to me."
"Thought so. I'm just saying… you have no idea. And whatever she told you might not be what you think it is."
"But you will try to fix her?" the Doctor asked with hopeful eyes.
Suddenly there was a wicked grin on the Master's face, one that certainly meant no good. He spread his arms a little. "Of course I will! Or do you think I want to stay on this vermin filled rock?" He chuckled and tossed a quick glance at me, winking. "I will repair the damage, remove your stupid lock from the controls…"
"What!? No, you won't!" the Doctor called out and tried to shoot up from the bench, only to drop back a second later, looking surprised, then shocked. He tried to get up once again, but couldn't.
The Master's happy laugh rang through the small park. My first instinct was to see what was wrong with the Doctor, but then it dawned on me that this was exactly the thing I was not supposed to interfere with. An uncertain glance at the Master confirmed it.
All colour drained from the Doctor's face as he began to shake and to sweat, his eyes wide in fright and shock and… betrayal. There wasn't even anything I could have done, but watch how his body went stiff, then limp, as he slumped together on the bench, almost slithering down from it.
"Now, that was terrifyingly easy," the Master mocked. His gaze darted to me, expectancy shining through the green. "Nothing to say, little human?"
For what felt like a minute I stared at the lifeless Time Lord before I returned my gaze to the Master. There was… nothing in me, not even surprise. It just felt surreal, like a movie or a video game. Nothing that really… happened.
"My, aren't you an interesting one." He stepped forward, grabbed one of the Doctor's arms and draped it over his own shoulder. With his free hand he tapped against my chest and grinned nastily. "Are you that cross with him or is your heart just an ice block?"
I winced at those words. Not the first time I heard them. Not the first time people accused me of having no heart, only because I didn't react like they anticipated. But why did I even feel guilty? The situation was completely out of my control.
The Master walked away, the unconscious Doctor limply over his shoulder. He didn't turn around. Not even when he was almost on the main street again.
Was I free to leave? He had gotten what he wanted, after all. There was no need to keep an eye on me any longer.
He vanished around a corner.
Wind rustled through the leaves, a few sailed down in front of me, red and brown. As I looked up, all the trees in the park were clad in autumn colours. How strange. I could have sworn it had been summer, just before.
And there, on the edges of silence, there I could hear the sound again.
Du - du - du - du
Like drums in my head. And for a while I simply listened to it, closed my eyes, shivered a little from the cool breeze, frowned when the sound faded away again, only to stop completely.
My eyes snapped open to find the Master standing just some metres away.
"I'd drag you upside down by your foot through the dirt." He shifted the Doctor's weight a little. "But I have my hands full."
Dumbfounded, I blinked at him.
"Did you break or something?" the Master mocked. "Chop chop. You're still a hostage. And if you keep being a good one, I might consider taking you for a ride or two."
"Why?" I breathed, still completely baffled by his return.
"Told you already. Not going to repeat myself. And now move, little ape."
Hastily I hopped from the bench and followed him. Yeah, right, he wanted to find out why I was connected to the TARDIS. No. Why I had projected my mind around myself. Or was it only because I hadn't stopped him from poisoning the Doctor? For certain, he knew that I wanted to flee from my own life. That was a better leverage than anything… for me at least. Even if it meant to be treated cruelly again, maybe even hurt.
But something in me twisted and turned at the thought of leaving. It had something to do with that rhythm, I presumed. It appeared when he was away and vanished when he was close. And maybe… when I looked at the trees around…
Maybe it was also because now…
Now it was summer again.