She didn't know yet if she was much of a dancer this time around. Hardly anyone to practice with, really. Graham constantly said he was too old for dancing, Yasmin claimed she had two left feet and Ryan preferred dancing with men.
She did feel like dancing, though. Everything looked a bit brighter through her new eyes, the universe was a less scary place and she seemed to have a lot of new energy that just wouldn't let her rest.
And so she bounced through the TARDIS, an excited, wide grin on her face and the letter in her hand. Yasmin watched her with an amused smile, but whenever she tried to catch a glimpse of the paper, all she saw were some circles, seemingly drawn with a lot of care.
„You're in a good mood,“ she commented when the dancing Doctor caught sight of her. She handed her a cup of tea after she had come down to Yasmin and sipped on her own. „What are you up to?“
The Doctor shrugged. „Nothing in particular. I just felt like dancing.“
„And what is this?“ with a nod, Yasmin gestured towards the paper in the Doctor's hand.
She looked at it like she had already forgotten it existed.
„An invitation,“ she replied after a few seconds. „Well. More like a request, really.“
She saw Yasmin raising her eyebrows and sighed. „Right, let's call it by its name, it's blackmail.“
The girl still looked a bit incredulous.
„But it's only... circles?“
„Oh,“ the Doctor laughed with another look to it. „Yes, right, you would think that. No, it's my language, actually. Gallifreyan. My people are... ehm... inviting me to a dance. Lot of important people coming to show their support for our current leadership and show off their pomposity.“
Yasmin just laughed in disbelief. „How is that a language?“ she wondered, staring at the paper. Then she fully registered the Doctor's words. „Wait, a dance? On your planet? Can I come?“
The Doctor's face darkened. „Oh, I'd really rather you don't. I'd love to have some friendly faces there, but you know... They're all terrible racist when it comes to other planets. They think they're the best, I don't know why, really, considering they almost got wiped out from the universe.“ She cleared her throat. „They probably wouldn't even let you in. If only you knew how they all treated Leela...“ she ended grimly.
Yasmin just stared.
„Besides,“ the Doctor went on. „I'm not even sure I'll go.“
„What do you mean you're not sure?“ Yasmin replied stunned. „It's a dance, it sounds lovely! And you really should visit home once or twice, don't you know that?“ She frowned. „Also, didn't you say they blackmailed you?“
The Doctor rolled her eyes. „And if that doesn't tell you anything about that home I avoid visiting, I don't know what does.“
Yasmin pulled a face, thinking. „It just means, they.... want you to be there.... really... much,“ she finally replied, without actually believing it herself.
Laughing, the Doctor shook her head.
„What do they have on you, anyway?“
„Oh, they just very politely reminded me of the fact that I almost blew up their planet and shot a Time Lord, and also felt inclined to mention they're able to deactivate my TARDIS.“
Yasmin blinked, unsure what to ask first. „They can't, though, can they?“
Thirteen just grinned darkly. „They can try.“
She left out the part of her time exiled on Earth, when they could very well indeed and she was stuck with trying to repair her ship while the Brigadier constantly nagged her with all sorts of concerns.
What did a woman wear on these occasions anyway?
Dancing was fun, she thought while pulling on the black dress she had put on. She wasn't used to dresses yet, but she liked how it made her look and Yasmin, who had helped picking it out, had said she liked it, so it was settled. She wasn't going to wear Gallifreyan festive robes, that was for sure. Rassilon might have been able to force her to attend, but she would still rebel as much as she could.
But even in all her resolve, she still had to swallow while standing in front of the huge oak doors in front of her.
Dancing was fun, but she wasn't even sure whether she could dance or not. And who would she dance with, anyway? Oh well, maybe Romana was up for a dance. With the reminder of having actually one or two friends in there, it didn't feel all that bad to enter.
And she would be able to mock Braxiatel, which was a plus for absolutely every event. Now that she thought about it, it would actually be nice to see her brother again. It had been ages.
So, with one last deep breath, she entered.
Music met her before the doors had even closed behind her, soft and melodious, filling up the air with the sweetest tune. There were voices chattering around everywhere. The Doctor looked around, while a stressed looking man in red robes ran towards her, ready to greet her.
„Welcome,“ he said, sounding quite hectic.
The Doctor tried a smile. Hearing Gallifreyan again was actually kind of nice. All those centuries thinking she was the only one knowing how to speak a dead language were finally over.
„Your name please?“
She had somehow expected that reaction, even though she didn't welcome it. The clubby old men's eyes widened and the already faint try of a smile completely vanished from his face.
„Oh,“ he replied franctically. „Oh. You are... you are expected. I.... Oh.“
„Well, I'm sorry if you expected a man,“ she retorted with the politest of smiles. „ I did too, for what it's worth. Though I like it a lot better this way. Still. Wish I was ginger.“
„It's not that,“ the Time Lord replied hastily. „Just... Oh. Well. Just go inside, you'll see.“
He ran away with something similar to panic on his face. The Doctor looked after him with a little frown. Why, that was not very encouraging, was it?
With a shrug she stepped through the hallway towards the ball room. Couldn't be worse than that ball on Raxacoricofallapartorius she had been invited to once.
She sighed while looking around.
Well, it smelled better than Raxacoricofallapartorius. But she had found her company far more interesting back then. All she could see here were the same old faces - even if it were new ones - showing off the same old attitudes (and juwels). Almost no one was dancing, most people stood by the buffet, a drink in their hands, chatting nonchalantly with an opposite the Doctor wasn't even sure they saw.
The whole hall was decorated festive in red and golden, so bright it almost hurt her eyes. There were cakes everywhere, huge, untouched cakes to celebrate the rule of not interfering by not allowing anyone to interfere with the cake.
Rolling her eyes, she made her way through to the buffet. She was gonna need a drink or two to cope with this dance full of dusty old Time Lords.
Nothing had changed, she realized. A war, the end of the planet and its resurrection, all the change and revolution that had overcome Gallifrey and yet, they had once again missed their call to embrace change and taken the same old dusted-in roads.
Before she could pour herself a drink, unfortunately, Rassilon found her.
„What an honour,“ he spat when he saw her. „The mighty Doctor back in Gallifreyan halls.“
She didn't even look at him, but grabbed a glass and poured in some punch instead. When she finally turned around to him, her face was calm and collected, showing nothing from the anger and the rage that boiled in her chest when she looked at that hateful face that had not only betrayed her, but also her oldest friend.
Well, technically the latter had been another face.
Ouh. She would have to have a talk with the Master about that , actually. (Pretty sure Missy had mentioned something about shoving White Point Stars down his throat. She wasn't judging. She just wanted details.)
„You didn't leave me with much of a choice,“ she answered while taking a sip.
„No, certainly not,“ Rassilon replied with a cold smile. „I've learned very early that choices aren't what brings out the best in people.“
The Doctor crooked her head. „I think a lot of tyranns came to the same misguided conclusion before you.“
Rassilon simply maintained his fake smile and said „Thank you for your support, Doctor“, loud enough for everyone around them to hear.
To her relief, he stepped away after that announcement. With a roll of her eyes, she emptied her whole glass.
„It looks like you're in need of something stronger,“ said a voice behind her.
„I'm starting to think I'm the main attraction here,“ the Doctor gave back, but there was a smile on her face and it came easily.
She couldn't remember a time she had been more relieved to see the Master's face. To be fair, as pretty as it was, it was rarely the cause of relief. But right now it was more than welcome.
There it was, dark eyes gleaming, nose just as chubby as she remembered and he even had the beard already. And in his hands, he held a bottle of.... Oh. Well, that promised to save the night, indeed.
„What did they lure you in with?“ she wanted to know, her eyes not leaving the bottle and therefore missing that short, affectionate smile he showed.
„Same as you, I expect. Shall we?“ He offered her his arm and she took it without a moment of hesitation. He wouldn't plan anything devious on a night like this. No, through this kind of hell they'd gone together all their lives, as they would now.
He led her out of the crowded hall and up the stairs. She clang to his arm like it was a rescue boat in stormy water, and in a way, it was. She remembered all the annoying ceremonies and balls they had gone to together, fighting their mutual boredom with challenges, pranks and a lot of mind-altering substances.
And for a second it was like nothing had changed.
They slipped through one of the many doors and out on a balcony. The warm night air was a welcome change from the stuffy air downstairs. The Master smirked while opening the bottle and the loud „plop“ cut through the night in a promising way.
„I didn't think you'd be here,“ she said while taking the offered bottle.
„Can't believe you came here without Whiskey,“ he retorted with a shrug. „Haven't you learned anything in your time here?“
She laughed and took a sip. Then another. And another. By the time she gave him back his bottle, a comfy warmth had started spreading towards her belly.
„I mean, I could've,“ she admitted. „But even drinking is no fun without you.“
Oh. Whiskey worked quickly, didn't it? She really hoped it did. That had been the Whiskey speaking, right?
He frowned while taking a few sips himself.
„Well...“ he finally muttered. „Since we're both stuck here, we might as well make the best out of it.“
They shared a smile. It felt weird, a bit clumsy, like they were trying to bring back long gone times, trying to go back to their childhood days, when they had regulary drank together on balconys or behind bushes.
But at the same time it felt so insanely familiar that it almost made her hearts burst.
And the more they drank, the more obvious it became. They might not have been the same people they had been as children, but at the same time, they still were. Still stuck in a life that wasn't what they wanted, trapped in expectations of Gallifrey, all eyes on them.
Well, the Doctor thought with what was left of her sharp mind. Let's give them something to watch.
When they re-entered the hall, all eyes were on them indeed. It might have been because they were giggling and walking arm in arm, it might have been because Rassilon had just held a pretentious speech about two very prestigious Time Lords being here for his support – probably leaving out the part of them getting drunk in his private rooms. She didn't really care. She just grabbed the Master's collars and dragged him towards the dance floor.
With a laugh, he let himself be dragged into the centre of the room, but as soon as they started to dance to the quiet music that accompanied them, he took the lead.
She felt home, she realized. Not on Gallifrey, not amongst all those people whose eyes bored into her back, not on a drafty old balcony above the red grasses, but right here, in his arms, as they flew over the dance floor.
Did the Whiskey even affect him? He still moved over the dance floor lightly, every move as elegant and graceful as ever. Damn Earth alcohol. This wouldn't have happened with Gallifreyan liqueur, though she was sure this was exactly what he had intended.
„I've been wondering,“ she whispered, aware that everyone in the room was looking at them. „Can I dance?“
„I'm not sure,“ he whispered back. „I'm a very good leader. And you're looking way too pretty right now to actually notice.“
She laughed. „You did have a thing for blonde women, I do remember.“
That smile on his face looked almost kind. She had seen it far too rarely on this face. She stared at it, silently swearing to herself to keep the memory of it alive for all eternity.
He had dimples. How could she not have known that he had dimples?
„It's not that, really.“
„Then what is it?“ she wondered with a frown.
He pulled her a bit closer, his forehead now touched hers and she had almost forgotten how it felt like to be this close to him.
Whiskey might have been intoxicating, but it was nothing against the thrilling feeling that overcame her while looking into those dark eyes this close to her.
He crooked his head a little.
„You look happy,“ he finally muttered. „More happy than I've seen you in thousand years. Alive. Don't you know how beautiful that makes you?“
She didn't. Maybe she did. While she looked at those dimples on his face, she had a feeling that she did.
„You should smile more often,“ she blurted out before she could think.
He snorted, than pecked a tiny kiss on her nose.
She laughed and he whirled her around, reminding her of the fact that they weren't alone in the room.
„They're staring at us,“ she muttered and hid her face in the crook of his neck.
She didn't want to see them, not tonight, not in this moment too perfect to even compare.
His lips gently brushed her forehead.
„Have you seen Borusa's face, though?“
The mischievous tone in his voice made her look up. She recognized Borusa next to the buffet, desperately clinging to the glass in his hand like he was trying to smash it in his grip. His face seemed frozen in shock.
„Uh oh,“ she giggled. „I think we broke him.“
„He must be having flashbacks right now,“ the Master spluttered.
Laughing, they took another few whirls. The Doctor's gaze caught Rassilon's, who looked less angry than she had expected, but instead rather.... confused?
„What's up with him?“ she asked and the Master looked over his shoulder with a raised eyebrow.
„Uhm, last thing he knew is that we're mortal enemies, dearest.“
She threw her head back laughing and he caught her hands, let her hang in mid-air for a few seconds before pulling her back into his arms.
„Don't they know?“ she asked, back in the safety of his arms, back home, a content smile on her face and then it occured to her that probably they didn't.
People like Borusa, who had thaught them when they were children or their parents, they would remember, of course. They made sure they'd never ever forget all the trouble they'd been up to together, all the times they had been inseparable.
But Rassilon and all the ones that came later... How would they know? How would they understand all their facettes in their one dimensional views, in their craving for only one thing, for more and more power? They had never understood, never known what they shared.
She had resented Rassilon for what he had taken from them in his decision to turn the Master into a ticking timebomb. But now she realized he had never even cared, never even looked at what he had crushed underneath his shoes.
The oldest love in the universe, the strongest love she's ever come to known, almost forgotten on the planet it was born on.
He kissed her lips, softly and short and infinitely comforting and it was only then she realized she was crying.
But he still held her and that was alright.
She could be sad about what they've become and happy at the same time, could feel at home in his arms and like a stranger in this place, just like they could be mortal enemies and eternal lovers.
She could be lost in the moment and still remember what was yet to come for him.
They didn't let go of each other all night. They stopped dancing only when her feet hurt (because she really wasn't used to heels just yet), but they wouldn't stop clinging to each other, sitting by each other, laughing with each other and for one night, she truly, truly felt home again.
When they finally decided to sneak out of the building, Borusa caught them and stood in their way with slightly raised eyebrows.
The Master chuckled.
„Please tell me, you're not trying to stop us. You couldn't even when we still were your students.“
But Borusa shook his head slightly.
„These days, I'm not sure if it's reassuring or scary to see you two unite again.“
They shared a little smile.
„Be careful, children. If he realizes you're dangerous for him, he might try to stop you.“
„Let him try,“ the Doctor replied calmly. „Wouldn't be the first time.“
With a little smile, Borusa stepped aside but none of them moved.
„We're not children anymore,“ the Master said after a little while of silence.
Borusa chuckled. „For me, you will always be children. You two... Gallifrey was never big enough for you.“
„Nothing is,“ the Master and the Doctor said in unison.
Ahd they walked out into the night, arm in arm - leaving behind a panicking doorman who hid behind the counter.
They ran into the fields, passed the forests, until they reached red grasses and they threw themselves in, looking up at the sky, hand in hand.
She wanted nothing more than to keep this moment in her hearts forever. It was a little night in peace from all they had faced and become. They didn't talk because both knew that words might destroy their little truce, but they stayed until the last star had faded from the morning sky and the two suns rised again.
But when they said their goodbyes and he leant in to whisper something into her ear, he said „You're a fantastic dancer“ and she laughed, because from all the words unspoken between them, all the truths and betrayals, all the love and all the rage, she had decided to ask him the silliest questions of all and gotten her answer.
It was the only answer he needed to give her.