Everything came back to me in an instant. The nebula, the day I had floated through space to collect samples, the Master trying to forcefully invade my mind…. The kiss. And then the drums that I finally could hear as clearly as he could.
I remembered the dragon's egg, still resting in my pocket. I remembered how tired and exhausted I had become without having an explanation. I remembered finding the Master, with so many drugs in his body that he barely had made it to the med bay. And then…
I opened my eyes and glanced around the room. Nothing had changed and still it felt as if an eternity had passed in which I had… dreamed? Everything from the alternate life was still burned into my memory and I wondered what exactly I had experienced there.
The door opened and in strode the Doctor, concern on his face. I raised my hand in a short greeting, but he didn't react, only came closer and observed the bed behind me.
"How is he?" I asked.
The Doctor just sighed and dragged a chair next to me. I turned to scold him for ignoring me, but then froze at what I saw. Or rather… whom.
Okay, this was definitely weird. And wrong.
Somehow I, or rather my body, was still sitting next to the bed, also on a chair, sleeping, my head resting on the Master's chest. He stirred a little, seemed to slowly wake up. In stark contrast to myself.
Was I dead?
I tried to poke my sleeping body, then the Doctor. But I couldn't touch anything. Great.
"You really worried me there," the Doctor spoke and I saw the Master opening his eyes. "It wasn't easy to keep you alive. Even after the detox."
The Master let out a groan and rubbed his forehead, then his look wandered down where he found me and his look darkened.
"I'm not a damn pillow," he grumbled and shoved me to the side, where my body lay still, unmoving.
"I found her like that," the Doctor said. "But… I couldn't wake her."
The Master glanced down and poked my head without getting any reaction. At least I seemed to be still alive, so I simply watched the two.
"Still no reason to sleep on me," the other one grumbled.
"Lucy was really worried about you, you know."
The Master snorted. "Yeah, right. As if."
"What did you even try there, Master?" the Doctor asked, his voice getting a higher pitch. "You should know better than to…" He waved his hand in a small circle, as if words were failing him.
"Was maybe a bit too enthusiastic." The Master snickered. "Thought it might help, but the side effects collided too heavily. Didn't expect that."
"You could have died!"
"Sorry to disappoint."
The Doctor grunted annoyed and leaned forward in his chair, head resting in his palms. It took him some seconds to look up again, the brown eyes filled with sorrow.
"Why did you tell Lucy she could hear the drums?" he eventually asked, voice laced with something I couldn't quite make out. Was it anger, contempt? "She blamed herself, you know that? Thought it was her fault you almost killed yourself there."
"Her…" The Master's eyes widened and he glanced down at my sleeping body. "It's not your fault, stupid," he muttered towards me, hand stretching out as if he wanted to touch me, but then retreated, limply fell down. He sat up a little, back still leaned against the pillow. "I told her because it's true."
"You invaded her mind! You forced yourself upon her! How would she even know what is from her and what you only project!" In the middle of the tirade the Doctor had sprung up from the chair, hands balled into fists.
Slowly increasing in volume, a chuckle made me look at the Master again. One hand was pressed against his stomach, the other fist was in front of his mouth. It seemed hard for him not to burst out into a full blown laughing fit. Probably only because it would hurt him right now.
"It's not funny!" the Doctor called out. "How can you laugh at that?! We're not supposed to do those things! How many decades have they hammered that into us at the academy? How many?"
"Oh please, as if I ever followed their rules." He calmed down a little, but still bit into his fist, eyes wrinkled with mirth.
"Yes…" The Doctor sighed, deflating like a balloon. "Actually you did. You valued the Time Lord rules. More than I even did."
"So? It doesn't matter anymore. And only because I prefer to have a little order doesn't mean I don't see which of those rules are plain stupid."
With a groan the Doctor dropped back to his chair, massaging his temples. "You did ask at least, didn't you?"
"Uh…" His still twinkling eyes wandered to me. "Not exactly. But-" he quickly tossed in as the other already opened his mouth for the next protest - "she offered to listen. To try. You know… because no one else does."
His answer was another groan. For a while the Doctor only sat there, digging his palms into his eye sockets. I wondered why this was such a big deal for them. Maybe because people could get lost if the connection was too deep? Or was it simply something that was important to their society and had nothing to do with what humans would consider important.
The Master, meanwhile, leaned over my sleeping body and stroked some hair from my forehead, whispering something I couldn't understand. Even when I came closer. Through all the noise they had made I still hadn't woken up and also still had no clue why the rest of me could move around like this and observe everything. It was uncanny, to say the least.
I reached out and tapped against the Master's arm, my finger not meeting skin, not meeting matter. Perplexed, I looked at my hand. Am I a ghost? But I'm not dead.
"Why doesn't she wake up?" the Master eventually asked. There was no way to tell if he was concerned or just curious.
Slowly the Doctor lifted his head, looked next to him to where I was, sitting half on the chair, lying half on the bed.
"I don't know. You two have been out for hours, but each time I tried to wake her…" He shook his head. "The scans show nothing. She's fine… physically."
At least something.
The Doctor's head snapped up, eyes dark. "You tell me."
"Haven't done a thing." The Master raised his hands in mock-defense.
"Stop playing around! If you invaded her mind, and more than once, it seems, then she could be harmed in… in so many ways."
"Mhm… maybe a little sore." The Master snickered at the horrified expression of the other man. "I'm almost sure it wasn't me, though."
The expression grew even more horrified as a thought appeared to form in his head. "How… how deep?"
"Doctor!" the Master called out, barely swallowing a laugh. "Seriously, that's not something to ask."
"Don't tell me… I've seen people react in similar ways. Exhaustion, the loss of oneself… You… you have not…" He almost choked on his own words, barely whispered his next. "You have not initiated a bond with her… have you?"
"Now, don't be ridiculous." Finally the playful demeanour vanished. "Why would I do that to myself?" Again he leaned over me, a smile returning, but one that could almost be called gentle. "Don't worry. I won't do harm to her."
"Then I'll take her to the bigger med bay and see if I can find anything out."
"Master!" The Doctor threw his hands up. "I can't leave her like that. You know that. And if-"
"No," he repeated, this time more determined.
A heavy sigh followed. "Have you not done enough damage already?" He rubbed a hand over his eyes. "We barely even know what to do with her. A human life might not seem long, but it's still many years."
"Hasn't bothered you with other humans, so far. Or do you have different standards for puppy eyes that fall head over heels for you?"
"Or are you scared because her life has hardened her heart so much that it doesn't allow for any warmth anymore? And now you're scared she might not be such a blind do-gooder as the rest of your pets."
"Master… She needs help! And I need to talk to her abo-"
"No, Doctor," the other Time Lord growled. "For once you'll shut up." He bent forwards, locking eyes with him. "I don't care if you don't believe me. I don't care if you'll never even try to listen. I don't care if you keep thinking I'm insane. But I am not hurting Lucy. And you are not going to try and alter who she is with your insufferable persuasion attempts."
Silence fell over the room. Perplexed, I blinked at the Master, suddenly almost certain this was still all part of a dream. Were I in my body and had a heart it probably would speed up now, but instead I only felt… numb. Never before had anyone cared about who I was, everyone was always only trying to make me who they thought I should be.
The Doctor didn't find words immediately, only sat there, maybe shocked. Meanwhile, the Master grabbed my body under the arms and dragged it up onto the bed, placing me next to him. His thumbs landed on my temples and for a short moment I felt his energy sizzling through my mind.
I tried to reach out, to say something or tell him otherwise about my state, but nothing rang through. Or did it? An almost unnoticeable smile appeared on his face.
"I'll take care of her," he mumbled. "I might have an idea or two what the cause might be."
"Just… promise to call me if it doesn't work." The Doctor stood and walked towards the door. His hand was already on the handle as he looked back. "And if you don't feel well, also call me."
There was only a small huff from the Master when the door closed. It didn't seem as if he was going to accept any more help than he had already gotten. At least he appeared to be relatively fine again. Maybe a little pale and his hand was a bit shaky when he stretched it out towards my temple again.
"It's time to wake up lil' lumin."