"Hide me from the Doctor?" I repeated puzzled, glaring down at his hand that held mine.
The Doctor had tried to take my hand, too, I remembered. Was that a thing with Time Lords? Had it something to do with their touch telepathy?
Whatever it was, I didn't feel threatened and therefore didn't struggle.
The Master followed the path the TARDIS was providing, not giving an answer. Finally we reached another door and the Time Lord sighed in relief when he found inside what he had, obviously, been looking for.
I followed, not that I had another chance, but as soon as I saw the room, all possible thoughts of struggle vanished in an instant. Even without my glasses it was a sight to behold. It was a huge study with a fireplace and armchairs, walls lined with bookshelves and even a thin spiral staircase to an upper layer that was, as far as I could tell, also completely filled with books. The ceiling wore a design of colourful dots and lines, maybe star systems? I couldn't discern it. What I didn't need my eyes for was to realize that it was comfily warm in here and now I also spotted a sofa with lots of pillows on it. Or was it a bed? Could be both.
"Huh," I made surprised and fascinated, "Thought you'd tug me away in some dungeon."
"Who says I won't?" The Master chuckled to himself, moving towards one of the shelves. "This is a private room of mine. Found it a few centuries back. Don't think the Doctor knows of it, so it's quite useful."
He let go of my hand and picket out a book to flip through its pages. "Ah, here it is. Thought I'd seen that before."
Curiously I peeked over his arm and squinted at the pages, but frowned. There were circles with dots and lines scattered over the paper, together with what looked like blueprints of machines. Probably. I couldn't get close enough to make it out.
He seemed to get lost in it for a while, not even noticing me anymore, so I stepped away and looked over the shelves. My heart jumped excitedly at the sight of so many books. Most of the titles that were close enough for me to read, didn't ring a bell, a few of them sounded so weird I had the suspicion they might not be from earth at all. And why would they? But then again were they all written in proper English.
Running my fingers over a particularly dusty row I pondered about this. Did the TARDIS translate everything that found its way into it? If the ship was sentient it could probably do that. Then again... I thought back to when I had been having coffee with the Doctor. He had ordered our beverages using English, too. And those aliens sure as hell had spoken another language. Humans hadn't even made it into space yet, let alone discovered new planets, so how would they know what we speak?
Another mystery to solve, I decided as I found a true treasure trove. This whole wall was filled with books I vaguely knew. Fantasy and Sci-Fi literature from earth. Excitedly I grinned and grabbed one of my favourites. The Night Watch series from Sergej Lukianenko. It was with mages and creature living beside us and a secret society of kinds watching over each other. It reminds a little of Harry Potter, but in Russia and a lot darker and mature.
It was such a long time ago that I had read them. Back when my only company had been stacks upon stacks of books. So many stories, so many lives to be absorbed in, just so I wouldn't have to place my eyes on my own.
"You're still here," came the Master's slightly surprised voice from behind. "Thought you'd try to flee."
"And get lost in those corridors?" I thumbed behind me. "Nah, better not."
"Too bad. Would have been funny." He snickered and grinned impishly, then waved with the book from before. "Seems you won't stay here, after all. I found out how to break the seal the Doctor has put around the controls. Come, let's steal it."
I raised an eyebrow and slightly tilted my head while simultaneously folding my arms in front of my chest. "First you kidnap me, then I'm supposed to help you?"
His smile dropped, got replaced by something darker. He stepped closer to hover above me like a hawk, ready to snatch its prey. This time I didn't have the urge to back away, his disgusted words from when we were in the corridors still ringing in my ears. If he wanted to intimidate me simply by invading my personal space, then he wouldn't be lucky.
"I could make you," he stated in a softly threatening voice. "There are so many ways to break a body... a mind. Believe it or not. I don't have to get myself dirty for any of those."
He chuckled and leaned closer, reached a hand out, now causing me to flinch away, despite my previous determination. The wicked gleam in his eyes told of how much he enjoyed my reaction, his bent finger slightly stroking over my cheek. Pure stubbornness kept my eyes glued to his and after an endlessly short moment I realized, he wasn't going to hurt me. Not now, at least. There was something he wanted... needed? And there was this tinge of sadness in his gaze, barely noticeable, except by someone who knew about pain and loneliness.
"Steal the ship on your own. I'm not too eager to stay on earth, but I'm not going to get myself into something."
A slow, mean and amused smirk spread on his face, wrinkled the corner of his eyes. Eyes that loved to smile, that enjoyed mischief and fun. Somehow I was sure they could even hold some gentleness in them.
Damn fascinating bastard.
The smile never faltered as he answered, almost carefully, putting some weight into every word. "So stealing is bad? You were ready to commit murder, li'll lumin. Willingly even."
I swallowed, my mouth getting dry at the mere thought, at the knowledge of the gun still lying in my desk drawer. The words were on my lips already, tasting bitter and like the lie they were, so I never spoke them out. I would have done it to protect.
He chuckled when he saw the emotions fighting in my eyes. The Master stretched out a hand again, but this time as an offer. "Come. You wanted to see the universe, didn't you?"
Oh how much I did! Still, I narrowed my eyes it him, sensing that something was off. "What would you gain from showing me? To you I'm nothing but a toy."
He simply shrugged. "I'm bored. Maybe I want to know why the Doctor is so fond of your race? Does it matter?"
Did it? I owed the Doctor nothing. Hell, I didn't even know him. And he hadn't asked me to come along and see the stars! Hesitantly I reached out my hand, but stopped in the last moment. Pieces of a puzzle got put together, forming a vague thought.
"You need me to deactivate the lock around the controls, right?" His expression twitched at my words. "Not that I'd understand it, but if it were different, you'd have left me here and be gone already."
His hand snapped down to his side, brows furrowing in irritation. "Yes, true. It's a partially telepathic lock. Needs two different signatures, and both have to act on their own free will."
I huffed and folded my arms. "I see. And as soon as the lock is gone, I'm dead."
The Master gave me an eye-roll. "If you keep being so annoying, then yes. Help with the lock and I might let you tag along for a bit. As long as you don't get in my way, that is."
"And you would do what?" I countered. "All I know about you isn't really speaking in your favour. Can't judge if the Doctor has a right to keep you a prisoner, but I also don't want to be responsible if you do something horrible to other people, or planets. Or the entire universe."
Suddenly his hands were at my collar, drawing me right under his face that was contorted in anger, nose and mouth wrinkled to a snarl. "You're as sanctimonious as him!" he spat. "As your whole worthless species. I had some hopes you might be less infuriating, but fine." His grip loosened for a second, but then he shoved me backwards, against one of the shelves that spilled some books to the floor. "You're not going to leave until I got what I want."
And with that he rushed away, slammed the door shut in his back and left me alone in my confusion and the weird cold feeling that painfully twisted my guts.