The Way We Weren't
White showers down in little bits onto the floor of the Zero Room.
The drops form shoes, baking themselves into dual back-curves of keratin and phalange and sinew that wind up like stairs into a bolus of bulging foreleg.
The forelegs bend slightly, surging up and toward themselves like transfixed eyes following the shine off a newly-rinsed palette knife, bending and curving and rounding until they reach a certain height, a height suitable for sliding kneecaps and the gristly tinsel of glutes.
The curve of all-white laces itself in the old time fashion of good stout boots, up the walk and down and up again of pelvis and spine, jutting little pieces out here and there.
Soon, a brilliant red bowtie hangs for a second across a bare and blankish scapula; there is no skin to hold it though, so it soon melts away again, leaving alabaster lungs and other brother and sister organs pumping anti-climactically in its place. No reason, their master thinks softly, to name them here.
He already flunked Academy once.
And once is enough really.
Really and truly.
He reaches out with new hands, white hands, to touch the empty air.
His back feels chalky still; there is a certain grit to him, and for once it’s not some consequence of the life he’s led.
There are tiny bumps of dryness curdling across his upper body, scampering across him like a melanoma on shore leave.
His life, he thinks, shrugging mentally.
Soon he will be dry, hard clay instead of drippy slip.
At last, some action.
“I thought he’d never leave, Doctor…” Rosette’s interface calls softly to him, rising from the floor behind in a whirl of girl and eau de something pleasant.
The whole ship smells of roses, that sweet, soft, delicate spray of reddish or greenish or white or cream or rainbow. Or blue. Or black. Of hips and petals and all things named as they should be.
Rose. Oh Rose.
“Do you have it?” he asks with white lips, his flesh taking on its natural color as she leans toward his back, a tower of white in Rose’s form.
The Bismuth Sunrise Rose.
And Rose’s slow acknowledging nod- not quite a cameo, not quite a pop culture poster on a teenager’s bedroom wall.
And eee by by gum! The hands… oh the hands… that scent!
All over the ship!
All over the ship!
Mmm… all over the ship…
“Hi, Doc… I hear that lots of places have a north…” the interface murmurs, falling against his back and staying there, one hand wrapping and snaking irreverently like a porcelain coat, “…that still true?”
The fingers of her free hand cling to his skin, gripping his jaw. His rusty mouth springs open like an old iron trap as she tucks the brilliant rainbow-colored rose behind his ear like Biv’s boutonniere, idling over everywhere of him. Especially his hair.
A giggle escapes her.
“Look at you- you’re Carmen from Toreador,” she laughs, eyeing the multicolored blossom in his hair; the bloom, caressed by the ample light in the room, cascades itself into every corner in a spectrum of stained glass. “…a barefoot Count on consecrated ground…” She dances her eyes away from him for a moment, taking in every fractured split of light on the walls. “… and you’ve turned me into a cathedral.” Her lips whisper to his, crossing him like a nun’s silent refrain. “I like this better than being a bouncy castle. Just thought you should know. Doctor.”
“Helloooo, Fortuna!” he gasps, with an entirely reverent lack of oxygen, his re-formed lungs staggering against his usually formidable ribcage like two beached whales before he sighs, and endeavors toward a modicum of speech.
It comes out in a whisper, too.
“…I take it you missed me… my Goddess of Gold…”
But in Rosette’s console room, another conversation is brewing.
The Master stands in the center of the emptiness; his long arm, here again, is molded against his side like a plastic boat left uninflated against the torrent of the falls, his fingers clipped on the lavender hem of a bluish corset, dangling a rusty old tag.
The unnecessary bank of controls, with its blinking squarish lights and panels and screens seems so very far away.
But he’s the Master.
He’s not going to bitch and sob ten feet away from the console like that idiot would.
He stuffs his empty hand in his pocket, drags out a crumpled white bag, and begins tossing back the Doctor’s favorite little sweet iconic candies like a barfly at the peanuts.
And every time he gets one in his mouth, he takes a step.
With every step, his smile gets a little wider.
Jelly baby steps it is, then.