"I don't think you're crazy, Lucy," said the Doctor with a widening grin. "Blimey! Isn't that brilliant?"
The Master snorted. "What? The fact that the portal probably transported us between time and space or do you refer to this bunch of rotten apes?" He wrinkled his nose in a display of disgust.
We walked to one of the few still empty tables and sat down on the crude stools around it. A short guy with a cigar leaned over to the pianist, asking him for a new song which he promptly started to play. It was a slow and still happy tune, filling the room with a casual lightheartedness.
A blond woman came over, asking what we wanted to drink.
"Just wat-" the Doctor started, but got interrupted by the Master.
"A beer for each. And it's on the house, because we're so likeable." The Master put on a smile so charming that it could make a nun blush.
The blond definitely did and she barely hid a smile when she quickly replied, "On the way, Sir."
"Before you complain," the Master drawled, "tell me if you got any local money on you, Doctor."
The other man closed his already opened mouth, letting the rebuke vanish into thin air, it's only remnant pursed lips. In the end he managed, but not for the actual topic.
"I actually didn't want to drink!" protested the Doctor, maybe only to let it out, if he already had no argument against the hypnosis of the waitress.
"Shut it. If this is how I remember it then people get suspicious quite fast if you order water."
Indeed, I didn't see anyone who wasn't drinking some sort of alcohol. People didn't come here to stay sober. Some eyes were already glued to our table, suspicious, curious. We surely must have look strange to them, although our outfits weren't too weird. The Master fitted with his waistcoat, the Doctor in his blue suit a little less. And I in only jeans and a green plaid shirt. My outfit wasn't suited for women at all, at least in those times, but neither was my hair cut, or my specs. Once again I simply relied on them thinking I was a boy. That probably would be easier.
The beer came in glass mugs, golden and with foam. Probably warm, since they didn't have the means to keep it…
"Huh? It's cool." I wrapped my hand around the glass and took a sip. Not very strong, also not too bitter.
"Yeah, that's quite interesting," the Doctor muttered, running a finger along the condensed water on the glass. "It's too cold to be kept in a river or well.
The Master said nothing, just glaring at the beverage with a slightly raised eyebrow. It appeared that it wasn't his first time in such a setting. I also couldn't imagine the Doctor never having been in that time period, but on the other hand didn't he seem to have a good memory for human customs. He was even worse at this than I, which was quite the ironic thought, considering my condition.
"So…" I took another sip. "What's this place? I mean… we wandered through an enormous whatever and then stepped through a door of light. I can't imagine this is only a time portal to the cowboy age."
"Mhm… probably not, no," the Doctor agreed, still not touching the drink. "I'll need to have a proper look, talk to some people, find out if anything strange happened or happens or will happen. No, they can't know about the will, but at least about the have and is."
"Let's stay for a while," the Master suggested, sounding suspiciously chipper as he downed half of his glass in one go. "Drink, Doctor, drink."
"Eeeehhhh… I don't knoooow." He glared at the glass as if it were a monster. "There might be ginger in it."
"Not a drop."
The Doctor sighed and finally nipped at the golden beverage, barely getting enough of it to wet his lips.
"I'm more the type for wine. Maybe whiskey. Never understood why humans like this-" he tapped the glass with his finger- "kind of stuff."
I shrugged with a smile. "Didn't like it at first either. Same as with coffee, actually. I guess it needs getting used to liking bitter things."
"Mhhhm," made the Doctor, daring another, bigger sip.
It was fun watching the people around and soaking in the atmosphere of old Western movies. Most of the men probably were farmers and cowboys, some looked as if they came straight out of mine shafts. The few women in the saloon were the waitresses and not less fierce than their male counterparts. If any of them tried to flirt or to grab they certainly knew how to stand their ground. All while the piano sang its merry tune to the song of laughter.
"I like it too. Let's stay," I agreed. "And I bet there is something special about this, considering all circumstances."
"Oh, I bet there is. The TARDIS never just lands me somewhere when there is nothing to see. Or to do. Or to run from."
"You want to see if there is anything worth stealing or manipulating, don't you?" I casually asked the Master while we waited outside a farmer's barn for the Doctor to return from chatting with the people inside.
The Master tossed me an amused glance, not saying a word. It was answer enough, honestly.
For the past few hours we had sniffed around town, had talked to people and had admired how everything looked just like you'd expect from old movies. Well, I had. The others weren't as impressed.
In the evening we found ourselves back in the saloon. The Master hypnotised the owner to let us stay in the room in which the portal was in. The Man had no clue about the thing, only wished us a happy stay with a broad smile.
The way back to the TARDIS felt strange after having spent a day in the wild west. It was good to be out of the heat, though. The hot weather there absolutely wasn't my favourite. However, it showed the stark contrast to the mild temperatures inside the black monstrosity. Not even the air was stale as one might expect.
While walking through the absolute darkness no one spoke a word, as if we all had agreed on that it was too creepy a thing to do.
The whole thing felt surreal to me. But I also was awfully hungry, pushing the thought away that my last meal had been hours ago and my last beverage had been alcohol. Not a good combination. Especially not after just having woken up from whatever the egg had done with me.
"Found anything interesting?" I asked the Doctor as soon as we were back inside the safe orange glow of the control room.
"Not a thing." He shrugged off his coat and hung it over a coral pillar. "People are happy, no problems aside from the usual. You know… The occasional bad harvest, a sick cow, things like that." Suddenly he grinned, bobbing on his heels. "They thought I was the new sheriff! Must be the coat. Maybe the shoes?"
"And you idiot didn't think about using that to your advantage?" The Master snorted derisively. "You could have asked and demanded whatever you wanted."
"Oi! I'm not here to take anything from them."
"Obviously. And that made you miss quite a lot."
I curiously glanced at the Master. He had been unusually quiet throughout the day, had not once tried to do anything at all. Witnessing him so passive was almost as eerie as the darkness outside.
The Doctor also gave him a long look, watched as a satisfying smirk grew on the other man's face. The Master folded his arms in front of his chest, tapping a rhythm of four against his own arm.
"Alright,what did you see?" the Doctor asked.
"Not telling you."
"Oh come ooon!" The Doctor sighed exasperated. "No games right now."
"No?" The smirk grew wolfish, almost malevolent. "Too bad. You won't learn anything new then."
My eyes darted back and forth between the two and I wondered what the Master wanted to achieve. I also was hellishly curious about what he might have found out.
They glared at one another for almost a minute before the Doctor caved in. Not knowing certainly wasn't his cup of tea. He grunted frustrated.
"Alright. What do you want?"
A small fire sparked in the Master's eyes, showing delight, as he stretched his chin out. "Beg me."
The Doctor opened his mouth in clear surprise, actually saying nothing at all.
"And use my name," the Master added in a low voice.
Well, if that's not kinky then I really don't know, I thought to myself, watching the Doctor struggle for words. It was hard not to laugh, about both of them.
"Stop that nonsense," the Doctor finally snapped. "If it's important just tell us already."
"Mhm…" The Master pretended to think about it, dramatically stroking his beard while doing so. He ended the act with a smacking sound of his lips and a delightfully drawn out, "Nnnno."
There was another sigh from the Doctor and he started to fidget with his fingers, uncomfortably. Then his head snapped up and with as much hesitation as one could put into words he muttered, "Please tell me… Master."
The other Time Lord snickered to himself, clearly enjoying the display of discomfort. To make things worse he waited with his reply until the Doctor was just about to speak up again.
"Something is living among them," he revealed eventually. "Don't ask me what it is, but I've seen some… movements, shadows in the corners of my eyes, quick streaks and dots of black darting around."
"Shure that's not just a prolonged side effect from one of the drugs?" the Doctor replied, sort of pouting.
"Most definitely," the Master growled. "But sure, go ahead and pretend. I'm just insane after all. What a shame."
"Oi! It was a valid question. It's not long since-"
"I still trust my senses. And mine tell me not only that my body is fine, but also that something is definitely off here."
The other one rubbed a hand over his face. "Alright, alright. Maybe there is something to it. Let's check for it in a few hours."
"Why not now?"
To my surprise the Doctor huffed and smiled at that question, his eyes unexpectedly wandering to me.
"Because not all of us can go without food and sleep for so long."
Dumbfounded, I blinked at him, pursing my lips slightly. I felt called out, as if my human body was a fault of my own. I knew it was stupid, but the feeling was still there.
"You… don't need to wait for me," I mumbled and fixated my shoes. "I can just follow later."
"And stumble through the darkness on your own?" The Master huffed, his look mocking me. "On the other hand… you are a hindrance here. Just stay and we're back in a few days. Come Doctor, move your annoying self through that door." He already strode to where we had come from.
"Oi, wait!" the other man called after him, already halfway through the room when he seemed to remember me and stopped to face me. "I can't leave him there on his own. Who knows what he's scheming again. Will you be alright?"
"Y… yeah, sure. I'll take a nap and… dunno. Go. I'm fine."
"Okay. See you!"
And with that the Doctor was gone and I stayed back in the console room, deflating like a balloon. A soft hum in my ears made me look up, eventually.
"I know," I muttered. "But I couldn't just hold them back, could I?"
There was another hum, this time somewhat sad.
"He thinks I'm useless," I mumbled. "You heard him. And he isn't… wrong. I'm just human. There is nothing about me that..."
A weary sigh left my lungs and when I silently made my way to the kitchen, a golden light followed my steps, as if the TARDIS was trying to make me feel less lonely in here.