Soul's Shadow by TardisGhost
They all turned away after some minutes, leaving me standing there on my own, watching sun and dust settle for good. There would be no ghosts tonight.
The little dragon had climbed on my shoulder and was now sleeping peacefully, leaving me with a sense of affection I hadn't experienced in a long time. It was so small, looking as if it were just a toy, but I felt the warmth of its body and saw the faint movement of breathing. Whatever had made it grow, it seemed to be feeling well.
"We don't have many rations," noted Donna. She and the Master were the only two who still had their backpacks. Currently, she was looking through her own supplies. "And we still need to hike all the way back."
"Mhmm… we'll manage. I'm sure of that," assured the Doctor. "Once, I hiked three weeks through the carzethian mountains with nothing but a rope and my wits."
"And all the snacks you hide in your oversized pockets?" mocked the Master. "I bet you have so many in them you could survive two months."
The other man chuckled. "Well… that and I don't need to eat that much anyway."
"Never stopped you."
"Oi!" protested the Doctor, stabbing a finger in the Master's direction. "You're the one with the big appetite. Or do I have to remind you of the aroynego story?"
The Master groaned. "You'll never forget that one. See? That's why we're enemies!"
"Stop fighting, boys," complained Donna. "We have a long way ahead."
The Doctor immediately slithered into a cascade of ideas and snippets of stories and some ramblings that didn't seem to be connected to any of it. I had a suspicion that he needed that to sort his thoughts and find all those ridiculous ideas he always got.
The Master stepped next to me, looking over the broken remains of the city that slowly got swallowed by the entering night. I tried to ignore him, but, of course, he spoke.
"You like this, don't you?" His voice had a curious tone. "All this destruction. It's so beautiful and they just can't see it." He chuckled and nudged me. "But you… you can."
I only let out a grunt. Right now I was in no mood for his theatrics, so I ignored his burning stare whilst Donna interrupted the other Time Lord from his ramblings.
"So, you have no idea at all and we simply have to walk."
The Master gave me another dark glare, then walked away, interrupting the bickering duo.
"Good thing he's not the only genius here," he drawled, leaning casually against the remains of an overgrown concrete pillar. "In fact, I might go so far as to say, there is currently only one of them present."
"Oh, just spill it," said Donna with an exasperated sigh. "No one needs a big speech right now."
"No one needs ungrateful apes either." He didn't budge an inch, only grinning smug.
"We can always just walk," sighed the Doctor. "I'm not sure I even want to hear your idea, Master."
Neither was I. But I didn't care much about the how. I knew I could get back somehow. I always did. No matter how far away or how lost I am, and even with my bad sense of direction, I always got back.
The question only was… was back the place I wanted to be?
The Master reached inside the pocket of his jacket and produced a wide leather wristband with a device attached to it. "Well, then I just go ahead and wait until you follow."
The Doctor gaped at him. "How do you have a Vortex Manipulator? I got rid of them!"
"What's a Vortex Manipulator?" wondered Donna.
"Good thing I kept this one, then," drawled the Master, ignoring her and dangling the device from his finger with a pleased expression. "It's a bit broken still, but I'm decently sure it can transport us back to the TARDIS at least."
"A teleport?" shrieked Donna and rushed towards him. "You had that with you the entire time?"
"I had." The grin could not have been meaner. "You didn't really expect me to follow you into that without a failsafe, did you?"
Donna didn't take it well. She let out an angry noise and tried to punch the Master, or maybe slap him. I couldn't tell. And she wasn't successful, earning only a laugh that made her even angrier.
"Just stop, you two," pleaded the Doctor, trying to tear them away from each other. "Donna, it's not worth it. Master, stop teasing her!"
I felt movement on my shoulder. The dragon looked at the scene with curiosity, then at me, tilting its head to the side. I only shrugged and it went back to sleep, or maybe it was only resting, aware of everything around us.
"I'll walk," I announced, ending the struggle abruptly. "It's not that far and I don't think any of you can guarantee me that the little one doesn't get hurt inside the Vortex."
The Doctor was about to say something, but then his mouth snapped shut and he thought for a moment, giving Donna enough time to direct her attention at me.
"Alone? No way, Lucy! And why would that… why would it get hurt? 'S not hurting us, right?"
"Mhm… hmmm," made the Doctor. "Could. Not sure how the dragon would react. With being so connected to the void… don't know what that might cause."
"You could just get the TARDIS and pick me up," I suggested, shrugging my shoulders.
"It's going to take a bit to let the collected gas out, though. Maybe an hour or so. Little less. Shouldn't be dangerous anymore, but it still needs to go. Not sure I would hit the exact time mark to be earlier. You know how she is."
"No, Doctor! No! You're not leaving her here on her own! Who knows what else lurks here. We can't just-"
"I'll stay too," said the Master suddenly. "Can't stand both of you anyway." He shuddered dramatically. "So bugger off."
"Donna, stop, please." The Doctor lay a hand on her arm and cast a glance at the Master. "And you two don't get into trouble. I'll get you as soon as I can."
There was no time for Donna to voice more - appropriate - protest. Her hand got grabbed and placed over the Vortex Manipulator, and moments later they were both gone, leaving me pondering. How did it come that the Doctor warned me over and over again to stay away from the Master, to never ever trust him, just to, obviously, trust him himself to take care nothing would happen to me?
I shook my head, getting aware of the glare in my neck. And I ignored it. Whatever he was up to, I had no intention of being part of his schemes this time. So I jumped from the ledge and started to climb down, back in the direction of the meteor. Though night was settling, there was enough light from the big moon in the cloudless sky.
The Master was following me in silence for some time, his presence only marked by the occasional sound of steps, although even those were exceptionally quiet. If he wanted he could probably stalk me like a predator and the thought made me halt for a moment and turn around.
"Talking with me again?" he asked, a spark of amusement in his eyes.
"Not if I don't have to," I grumbled. "Was just… you move so quietly. I wasn't even sure it was you… or something else."
The Master barked out a laugh. "That should teach you to never let your guard down around me."
I scowled and grunted. "As if I wouldn't know."
"Still mad cause I snooped around in your head while you slept?" He seemed not at all bothered by it.
"I'm mad cause you could have just told me."
"And what? You would have resisted."
"Whatever." I turned around and continued to climb over plants and debris in the bright moonlight, trying not to fume too much.
But this time the Master didn't let me get far. As soon as he had caught up he grabbed my wrist and dragged me backwards, forcing me to face him.
"You really thought I wouldn't take some advantage?" he asked, voice low and suddenly bare of any humour. "You should know me better by now."
"You're right. I should," I snarled. "Then I would have known how far you would take it to sneak around places you have no business to be."
His eyebrow raised. "I told you I would have to watch everything."
"You didn't just watch, though."
The Master huffed and leaned closer with an impish grin. "I didn't hear complaints. You liked it. You wanted it."
Angrily I tried to shove him away, but, of course, he didn't budge, so I only gave him a dark look, snarling, "I didn't want to be fucked by some dream copy of yours so you can snoop around in the rest of my mind while I'm busy."
That caught him off guard, his look getting puzzled until he threw his head back, laughing hysterically. I managed to tear my hand away and shoved him back with minor results. It only caused him to laugh harder and I simply stormed away, trying to swallow the heat in myself.
I didn't get far, my wrist being grabbed once again, and I found myself yanked backwards, then pressed up against the wall of a house, trapped between stone and the Master's body. Both of his arms leaned against the wall to either side of my head and he was grinning down at me, madness shimmering through from somewhere deep behind his pupils. In the corner of my eye I could see the dragon flap away, startled and probably scared.
"You know, I had a theory about how to open your connection to the void." He ignored my struggles. "I think you can rip it open if your emotions get strong enough. It's all the rage and the pain inside of you that draws it closer."
"I don't care. Bugger off."
Of course he didn't.
"I wanted you to get angry. I wanted to see if anything would happen and it did. Tell me, little lumin-" his voice dropped to a breath- "when the void appeared, what did you feel?"
Oh this burning desire in his look. It made my breath hitch and stirred my memories. A resonance between us both. "I wished…" I whispered, mesmerised by his gaze. "I… wanted everything to just burn."
His grin spread even further and a low chuckle vibrated in his chest. "That's why I worded my discovery in a way that would make you angry," he said, leaning in closer, his breath ghosting against my ear. "I needed you to let it all out, some way or the other. And no, I could not tell you. That would have destroyed it."
Although I understood his reasoning, the fact of what he had done woke the deep and primal anger once more, made it well up inside of me almost as strong as before. Until the Master suddenly nuzzled my neck, his voice barely audible against my skin.
"I didn't want to hurt you, little light. It was necessary." He sighed and withdrew only slightly from me, still trapping me, still not backing away. His eyes were filled with fire and a darkness so old it threatened to swallow me. And I wanted to be sucked into those depths, wanted to lose myself in it and forget what was supposed to be wrong or right.
He dropped his forehead against mine, madness and fire and something more that slowly made his lips split into a mischievous grin. "And just for the record," he said in a husky tone, "If anyone fucks you, little one, it's me."
My breath caught in my throat. Not only because of the blunt response, but because everything he emanated through the vague skin contact right now. Desire and heat mixing with amusement and the taste of dreams.
"Wouldn't let some copy of me get all the fun." He chuckled and finally (sadly) retreated from me. "So…" His demeanour suddenly snapped into all business mode. "What did you want back here? The void is gone."
It took some seconds to regain my composure and to calm my racing heart. What had I wanted there? "Uh… I… there is…" Right. Yes. I remembered. "Just a piece of the meteor. Maybe the Doctor can find something useful. Or… you could, in case you're bored enough, or whatever."
Taking a deep breath I pushed myself away from the wall, surprised to not find a single trace of anger within me. I had been used, yes, but not betrayed. Not really.
Numbly I stared at the enormous pile of debris that was left from the collapse. Dust was still settling, dousing the moonlight in an eerie mist. Had this really been my doing? Had I summoned the void with all the rage I had felt? Amplified by the corpse of the dragon that had still worn memories of long gone times.
A quiet squeak made me blink and tear my gaze away, finding the tiny dragon sitting on a stone nearby. It looked up at me, tilting its head from one side to the other.
"Did you come here to stop me?" I asked quietly. And almost in a whisper I added, "Would I have destroyed the whole planet otherwise?"
It did a little jump and clumsily flapped up to my shoulder, rubbing its head against my cheek.
"It might have," mumbled the Master. "That rift in the fabric of reality…. Had it grown, it might have had the potential to swallow this place as a whole. Maybe the whole galaxy." The Master shuddered pleasantly. "What a sight that would have been."
I had to laugh at those words, not even finding them appalling in any way. Because deep within myself… I felt the same. "I bet it would have looked fascinating. Too bad we didn't get to see it."
The Master regarded me with an intense glare I had seldom seen from him. The shadow of a smile was playing on his lips, barely existing. He knew this feeling, after all. The feeling of wanting to see the universe go up in flames and just watch the pretty shadows the fire might create.
"I don't want this power," I mumbled, scratching the dragon's head. "What use is it to be able to destroy if I can gain nothing for myself in the end?"
The Master shrugged, watching the small creature on my shoulder. "I'd have lots of ideas on how to use it." He chuckled. "Only bad thing about each of them is… that it would destroy you. And I don't want that."
I huffed, shaking my head. "This isn't working, you know? Hurting me all the time and then crawling back with apologies and sweet words."
"It did so far, didn't it?" His grin was almost childish.
"Not forever. And if you go too far, I'll leave you to deal with the drums on your own." I poked out my tongue.
His face fell. "You wouldn't. You're too scared of being on your own."
"I've been on my own my whole life."
"I had the drums for my whole life," the Master hissed back. "And that's centuries longer than you'll ever experience."
"Well, though." I crossed my arms, glaring up at him. I had enough of his behaviour, of all the mind games. "'sides, I'm not alone anymore."
The Master shot forwards, bent down to my eye-level. "I could make your life a living hell, though, little one, don't forget that."
For once, I didn't budge and kept my stance. "Or you could just treat me better? Be a little more honest with me. Talk to me." Gently, my forehead bumped against his. "That can't be too much of a thing to ask. Even of you."
He only glared into my eyes, all fire and anger and… pain. His lips curled to snarl and he snapped backwards, and then stormed away without another word.
I sighed and nudged the little dragon on my shoulder. "I really don't know what to do with him."
The little one gave no answer. It had just fallen asleep.
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