The Master sat cross legged on the bed, bending over my sleeping body, his hands both resting on my temples. I could clearly feel his presence, almost as if he was standing right next to me. Another ghost.
"Can you… maybe hear me?" I asked, hoping he might perceive it somehow through the mental connection.
He didn't react, however, so I stepped - floated? - closer and placed my hands above his. I still couldn't actually touch anything, my fingers simply gliding through him.
"Stop that," he suddenly grumbled, annoyed. "That's distracting."
I winced and retreated. "You feel that?"
"Yes, now shut it."
"Hey! Don't just ignore me, you prick!" I protested, realizing he had heard me the first time. "What're you even doing?"
The Master opened his eyes and left my temples, but the sensation of his presence stayed. "What do you think?" he said, annoyed. "I'm trying to wake you. So move your damn mind back into that thing here, will you?" With a crooked grin he pointed at my body.
"Dunno how," I grumbled. "How can you even hear me?"
The Master shrugged and looked vaguely in my direction. It seemed he couldn't see me. Not with his eyes at least.
"We're sort of connected, right now. The dream still ripples through our minds. And in your case… I guess you couldn't quite handle it. Humans work differently after all."
I sighed. "Can we do without insults until this is solved?"
"Sure." The Master laughed. "But then you also have to do without the truth."
I grunted again. This certainly was not going to be fun, but at least I wasn't alone.
"What happened there?" I wanted to know. "Were we dreaming?"
"Mhm… sort of." He tilted his head, contemplating his next words. "Your body is strained and your mind is wide open. That probably caused you to slip into my dream. Or maybe…" For a few moments he pondered. "Maybe the TARDIS also had her fingers in it."
A hum sailed through the air, vibrating deep within me. She didn't talk to me directly, but the message was clear. "Yeah, I think she helped. But how could I slip into your dream? I'm not telepathic. And I didn't even touch your skin."
"Can't you be quiet? I'm trying to think."
"'m just curious." I pouted. "You never explain much about the stuff."
The Master grunted and rolled his eyes. "First of all, humans can be psychic. Not much and everything about you is as untrained as it can get. That's the truth, not an insult." The smirk told a different story, but I decided not to comment on it. "As for skin contact - You can even have that through cloth." With that he lay a hand over my heart and immediately I felt a light, however sort of muffled, tingling. "And since you practically slept on me…"
"Didn't plan to," I grumbled. "Just happened."
"All circumstances combined, it's not a surprise."
At least it explained things and he didn't evade an answer.
"Alright… So, how do we get me back inside my body?"
Again he shrugged, closed his eyes and seemed to think.
"Yeah… that's helpful. Thanks."
He only grinned.
"It's interesting," I said, not able to keep my mind from working. "I can do things like blinking. I think I'm even breathing?"
"Just reflexes. You're not actually doing these."
That was a possibility. I stepped to my body and simply tried to focus on it to get back inside, but that didn't work. I went on to jump on the bed, only to find out I could actually float. Almost as if being out in space again.
"Hey, I can fly!" I giggled and floated to the Master to poke his head. Well, try at least. I still had no substance. But it was an unexpected source of short term fun.
"Stop messing around," he growled. "You can't stay like that forever. Your body might decide to die."
That actually made me stop. "Okay. But I'm out of ideas."
"Did you have any to begin with?"
"Uh… nope. You got me there." I lay on my back and floated next to him, thinking. But my head kept distracting me. It loves to do that. And with silly and useless things, at that. "Kidnap some prince," I offered, barely able not to break out into a laugh. "You know. To kiss me awake. Works in Fairy Tales. Or maybe… actually… I do have an idea.. I'm not sure it's worth anything, though…"
The Master sighed. "Spit it out."
"I think that dragon egg is draining my energy. I dropped it once, on accident and I felt better immediately. But I'm not sure…"
"Where is it?"
"My jeans pocket."
The Master bent over to search for the egg. The sight of him with his hands so close to me, vanishing inside the pocket, the other on my belly, it made me somewhat… it wasn't uncomfortable, just weird and I…
"Uh wait!" I called out when he took the glowing egg. "Won't it die if it's away from me?"
"You might if it stays," the Master countered quietly, his fingertips hovering over the purple veins. They still glowed. "And I'm rather sure we have established that your choice in that regard is very limited." He chuckled and sat the egg inside a small metal container that used to hold some medical equipment. Probably to hide it from the Doctor.
He had a point there, but I still disliked the idea of the creature maybe dying. What was the point of binding itself to me if it… Well, alright, there are more than enough creatures that drain and kill their host. We could figure out something later.
"Doesn't work," I grumbled after a while, seeing that I was still sleeping.
"Wait a little." He leaned back against his pillow, sunk together a bit and closed his eyes.
"Okay… then, meanwhile, care to tell me what just happened?" I gestured towards him and me, only then remembering that he couldn't see that. "That dream or whatever it was. It felt like a different life."
"Dreams can do that." He shrugged.
"Not like that." I pursed my lips in protest.
"I think it was a fine mix of things," he said, contemplating. "Your mental barriers are fragile because of the egg. And if the TARDIS had something to do with this I can imagine she created a frame to put us in. Or rather… me."
"What do you mean?"
The Master opened his eyes and fixated the ceiling. "The Doctor could heal my body, but… Some of those drugs have strong hallucinogenic effects. If you tear someone out too fast they might lose all sense of reality."
"Hmmm," I made, noncommittally. "It was still an oddly specific setting."
"TARDIS. It's connected to all of time and space. Probably picked a point in time that made sense. A snippet of the real world, a truth to conceal the lie."
I grimaced at him, hoping he could at least sense it. If what I saw there was really happening on earth then I was glad I had vanished from there before it all started. Or hadn't there actually been news about something like that? I couldn't quite remember anymore.
"Maybe try some of your mind tricks?"
"Oi, those aren't tricks," the Master whined. "It's a skill. And I'm bloody great with it. One of the best on Gallifrey."
Gallifrey… had I ever heard that name before? Was that his home planet? I wondered how it might look there as he leaned over my sleeping body again to press his fingers to my temples.
At first there was nothing, but after some seconds I began to feel my whole… body… soul… whatever I was right then start to tingle. Alas, nothing else happened.
"It does something," I informed. "But 's not really helping."
"Probably because you are a little too conscious, right now." His eyes stayed close, his fingers never left my temples, but the tingling weakened.
"Would a stronger connection help?" I pondered, turning upside down in the process. Just because it was fun. Okay, maybe the whole thing was a bit too much fun for me.
The Master started to chuckle and leaned closer down. "Want me to kiss you again?"
"Wha'? Hell no! Why would you…" It dawned on me. Right… this would strengthen the telepathy a great deal.
"It might actually help," he went on, grin still on his face.
"I really don't think so," I protested, turned the right way around and got closer to the two of us.
"Yeah… I'm afraid you're not much of a princess. This won't do."
"Bloody right you are," I grumbled and crossed my arms.
"But since you hate it so much it could still be a good trigger."
"No! No, no, it could not. Hey, don't you dare!" I called out when he leaned even closer.
I couldn't see what he did there, but felt… the warm sensation of lips on mine, the electric spark of our mental connection deepening. My hands shot upwards, not quite sure if they wanted to push him away or… no… definitely push… maybe not quite as hard as I should…. maybe…
It really wasn't much more than a quick peck, I realized, blinking dumbly into his grinning face above me. Oh, he had such a hard time not laughing out loud, I didn't need any sort of telepathy to see that.
"What about no did you not understand?" I grumbled, not sure if I was really pissed or if I just wanted to be.
"The fact that it worked?" Now he laughed and sat back on his haunches.
"It...whus?" Dumbfounded, I looked down at me and saw he was right. I definitely was back in my body. I looked at my hands as if they were something foreign, then let them sink. "Why the heck did that work?"
"Telepathic shock." He poked his tongue out.
"You so made that up." I groaned and tried to sit up, to move my aching muscles a bit. It felt as if I had spent hours in one position and… well, okay, I literally had. The draining effect of the dragon egg increasingly subsided, however, allowing my thoughts to be at least somewhat clear.
After the second attempt I finally managed to push myself up to the elbows and keep myself in a half lying, half sitting position. Not a good decision, definitely not. My head started to spin and even hurt a little, forcing a groan out of my mouth. I swayed and almost dropped back, but a hand on my shoulder kept me upright. For not more than a moment, however, before the Master carefully pushed me back down.
"Rest," he commanded. "It will take time for you to recover. I think the egg hasn't caused any lasting damage. But it and the dream sharing combined drained you pretty badly."
Under closed eyes I almost immediately felt sleep tugging at me, but I couldn't give in to it just yet. There was still so much I didn't understand, so many things I wanted to know.
"How are you?" I decided to ask. "I mean with everything. Are the… drugs out of your system?"
"Yeah… the Doctor made sure of it. I hate owing him, but… ugh… whatever." It wasn't the complete truth, that much was clear. Simply by the way he was staring at the ceiling as if he could tear it into pieces with his will alone. To finally, finally see the stars again.
I blinked, confused.
"Are we still connected?" I wondered. Or had I just learned enough about him to sense his desire.
There was only a barely visible shake of his head, as if he was hearing but not processing my words, lost within his own thoughts, memories.
"You wanted to run away," I muttered. "So far away. Somewhere where it is quiet and where you could have control."
"It was a nice dream," the Master answered, voice barely above a whisper. He lowered his head, let out a deep sigh and lay down to his side, facing me, his head propped on one hand. "I wouldn't have left on my own."
Victory over the Doctor, the TARDIS in his possession, humankind as his slaves. I giggled at the thought and poked my tongue out. "Yeah, why leave such a perfect outcome?"
I thought it had been a funny remark, thought it made perfect sense from his standpoint. But something was missing. Or maybe there was just so much more that I couldn't know… His features saddened, took on an almost painful look for a split second. The Master's eyes wandered over my face, searching. For what, I did not know.
In that moment I realized this might be the calmest, sanest conversation I had ever had with him. And it was nice. It felt… safe. Despite what he had done to me in the dream, in a place where we had met under different circumstances, where our story might have taken on a completely different way. Or maybe not so much…
"You wanted to run with me," he stated, tone so neutral it screamed of repressed emotion. A crack, a tiny gap in his facade. A question. A plea. The unspoken fact that he thought it impossible that someone could do this. He opened his mouth again, words creeping out almost unheard," Had I given you the button to destroy your planet, right there and then, would you have done it?"
His voice ran like ice down my spine, the barely hidden excitement, the heat in his words, the flaming desire to have it all burn under his… no… my fingers.
He had asked a question like that before. Different circumstances. A promise to make it undone right after. Now this promise was missing. Earth burning to ashes because I slid one finger over a small button, because our eyes locked in agreement that there was no better way to run from your past than to just burn it away.
I would have done it. I would have watched in horror and awe. I would have thought about the people I claimed to love, about the people who claimed to love me. I would have seen their faces and would have heard their voices, knowing their claims to be nothing but lies and I would still have…
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and laughed quietly. "The question is irrelevant. You don't have a button."
"Too bad." The Master turned on his back, staring upwards.
We lay there, next to one another, either one lost in their own thoughts. I was exhausted, aware that I wouldn't manage to stay awake a lot longer. At the same time I enjoyed this calm companionship far too much to already end it. Who could say what we were tomorrow, when today we could be this.
Whatever this was.