The two were watching Earth television, a small indulgence of the Master’s preferences in pop culture, when they found a BBC3 series about some Undead youths in a Lancashire village. The Doctor did not like Zombie stories, whether realistic or implausible. They had good reason to pity anything that was in the process of becoming its own worst nightmare. And the one time they’d attempted to combat a zombifying force, it was one of the few undefeatable foes they’d faced in this particular lifetime.
Much to the Doctor’s dismay, the Master stared transfixed. There had never been any question of him letting the Doctor hold the channel-changer, and to be fair, it was the only part of the TARDIS controls that She let the Master operate.
True, these “rotters”, as the more bigoted characters on the show called them, were much prettier than most zombies you see in the media. They didn’t actually seem to be decaying, just greyish… and that only if they washed off their state-issued concealer makeup. They appeared to have survived dying and undying with a variety of sexual orientations intact, so that was… nice? Well, except when relationships ended as tragically as they sometimes do even for the living. The Doctor did become emotional at some of the events, but that was nothing to what they saw of the Master’s reactions, when they managed to catch flashes of his engagement with the show on the mental wavelength or saw out of the corner of their eye how he started when something awful happened to any of the protagonists. If only he cared like this about real people! But he didn’t see real live humans as actually people.
These “PDS sufferers”, as political correctness wanted them called, only tried to chew on the brains of the living if they missed their state-issued medication or took illicit drugs. But still. These elegant undead children had flashbacks of having eaten their flipping neighbours. Othersblood, was that what the Master liked about this programme?! The Doctor struggled to keep down the bile rising in their throat and in their mind. Luckily this hadn’t been a very tactile day for either of them, so the two were curled up companionably enough at opposite ends of the sofa with a tea-tray of (untouched, on the Doctor’s part) snacks between them. The Doctor would’ve had to work much harder at shielding those uncharitable thoughts from the Master if they’d had their arm around him.
Thanks to time and relative dimensions in programming, actual reruns, or whatever passes for streaming in the vortex, they had been able to see the entire 3-episode first season. And they’d watched it in silence, a rarity since the Master usually made lots of cynical or even appreciative comments while watching telly. But the Doctor’s relief at finally reaching the end was cut short when the Master turned, eyes shining wickedly out from under lowered brows, grinned his most cheerfully murderous grin, and imitated perfectly the protagonist’s slightly dead and mostly northern intonation of the supposedly empowering phrase:
"I am a Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferer and what I did in my untreated state was not my fault."
The Doctor nearly tipped over the tray in their hurry to stumble away from the sofa and find any excuse to be anywhere else in the TARDIS but here.