by TardisGhost [Reviews - 79]Chapter or Story
Over the next few weeks I really started to grow fond of Donna. She was loud and harsh and direct. She was gentle and caring and warm and just full of love for life. She was like a friend and a sister at once. When I was assured there wouldn't be any grand adventures I came with her and the Doctor, strolling through alien forests and having tea in underwater castles. I even introduced her to my dragon.
"That's not a dragon, is it?" she wondered aloud, watching the little creature nibble on my finger. "Thought they were much bigger, those."
I giggled and told her about our adventure with the Vikings, leaving out some of the details, though. She was astonished and shocked, but agreed that we had done the right thing in slaying the creature, despite what the Doctor thought.
"It's always the tough choices when you're with him," she mumbled. "Never thought I'd have to make those. I'm just a temp, you know. What can I possibly know about what's right and what could be done better."
Absent-mindedly she reached out a finger and fondled the dragon's head, smiling when it closed its eyes in pleasure and squeaking when she stopped. I giggled and nudged Donna with my elbow.
"You're the first besides me who's allowed to touch it. The little one always tries to bite the Time Lords."
"Can you blame it?" Donna laughed. "Sometimes I want to do that too. Especially this Master bloke. Such an ill-mannered being. Can't believe he's the same race. But, well, guess he's all the Doctor's got, now. Might be reason enough to endure him. Ohhhh, I really couldn't. No matter what."
There it was again. From Donna I had heard it a few times already, about them being the last, about a lost home. There were no details, only vague hints. Things the two of them had never mentioned.
"I didn't know they were the last of their kind," I finally admitted, although I wasn't sure if I wanted to know more or if I wanted her to stop giving away details they didn't want me to know.
"They never told you?" Donna asked, surprised. "Well, 's a touchy subject after all, but still… Probably better I don't say more. Wouldn't be fair."
"Yeah, I agree."
Each time I was in the TARDIS when evening neared - or whatever the ship' s inner cycle saw as evening - I continued my practise with the Master. He stayed out of the way whenever Donna was around, completely unwilling to even greet her or acknowledge her existence at all, which was probably for the better. But it also meant he wasn't coming along outside anymore, which meant I didn't see much of him at all. Which, maybe, also was for the better?
The sessions didn't take much time. He quickly found out how long I could manage before exhaustion hit me and ended them before, not without some teasing now and then, but that was all. What really bothered me, however, was that he now made sure to stay as far away from me as possible.
We sat opposite to one another on his sofa, my hands in his, swimming through the stream of intertwined consciousness, but never ever did he move any nearer, nor did he make any attempt of getting me closer as he had done so often before.
It didn't help my guilty conscience, despite his reassurance. It also didn't help the stupid desire to be closer. Having experienced how this connection could feel, how it could dispel every ounce of loneliness there was and make me forget about everything else for just a while… of course I wanted more of it. I'd even be completely content to keep everything on a pure mental level.
But as the weeks went on, I sadly accepted that I, apparently, had destroyed this opportunity.
"Something's bothering you," said the Master. His lids were closed as he held my hands, but a slight raise of his eyebrow was visible. Not much else. Our connection right now was too shallow to speak with thoughts or to sense more than dominant emotions.
"Not important," I mumbled, taking a deep breath, determined not to show any sign of my thoughts. I had to bury those emotions so they wouldn't be so noticeable. At least something I was good at.
"No? Shall I look?" There was a teasing undertone in his voice.
Almost immediately I felt a shift in his essence and I hurried to wrap my previous thoughts in a bubble. Then I proceeded to do the same with everything that popped up and also had to do with the topic. He was still probing after some time, but there was nothing left I minded him seeing and the connection was too weak to dig deep anyway.
"You've gotten faster. That's good," he commented. "Now try and read my emotions."
The sensation of him squirming through my memories receded and I relaxed somewhat, concentrating on what I picked up from him instead. This part was as easy as it was hard. Because of my slightly empathic side I had an easy time picking up emotions, but also had a hard time telling whether or not I actually read them through the connection.
"You're amused. But you always are when we do this." I poked my tongue out. "Well, thanks for that."
The Master chuckled. "It's really hard not to be when you're so bad at even doing the basics."
I focused some more, trying to read anything but the most prominent frequency. There was… something sharp and cold, not fear and not anger. Uncertainty, maybe. A lingering question without words to describe it. And there also was… was this mine or was it from the Master? The same longing for closeness I already knew so well. But it hadn't been mine, because mine was separate and as soon as I caught the emotion they both clicked together like puzzle pieces and I heard him suck in a breath and felt my body tingling.
Neither of us moved.
Slowly I withdrew from the connected stream and separated myself enough to discern what was my own. Fearfully I peeked up at the Master, almost awaiting him to scold me. But his eyes were cast down, glued to our hands and unreadable.
"Let's end for now." With that he let go of my hands and stretched languidly like a cat, suddenly a display of casualness.
"What?" he asked, when I didn't move.
Should I ask? Maybe that would be a bad idea. But it did gnaw on me. Why he was keeping me at such distance where, before, he had always tried to get me close.
"Don't tell me you want some praise for that meagre performance." He snickered and waved me away.
The attitude let anger bubble up in me. "Stop being such an arse to me. I'm trying to help here."
The Master's brows shot up and his teeth split to a wolfish grin. "Ouh, the human is making demands. I'm scared."
I let out a frustrated growl and shook my head. "I think you actually are," I hissed. "You're telling me I can't be afraid because this won't work, but then…" I waved over him and the sofa to symbolise the whole situation.
Of course he took it wrong. Or maybe he wanted to.
"What? Want me to pat your back each time and tell you some useless praise?"
"You could at least tell me how I'm doing at all… Without any insults." If he wasn't willing to indulge me in my actual question I could at least fire back.
"What do you think?" He snickered again, both arms draped over the back rest, the ankles of his feet folded neatly in front of him. The stance of a politician.
Could all of this really scare him more than me? Even if I tried not to glue any meaning to it, would the fact not vanish that there was… something. Something that tied us together in a way I doubted any of us had control over. But also…
"I'm not a Time Lord kid," came my grumbled reply. "I know I can't be doing as well, but maybe yes… maybe I do need some reassurance from time to time."
Stubbornly I crossed the arms in front of my chest and glared at the sofa, avoiding his gaze because I wasn't sure how he would react to that little outburst. I tried not to look as he got up and slowly took the two steps he needed to tower over me.
"I haven't taken my life force back from you… yet. Isn't that reassuring enough?" The mockery was dripping from his words and I bit my lip, now glaring at his chest, because I still didn't dare to look up. But he made me anyway, tipped his fingers under my chin and wore a smile that was both mirth and challenge. "Say my name," came the sudden demand.
I blinked at him, not quite sure whether or not to indulge him. Stomping on his foot or shoving him away seemed like much better options.
There was a dangerous glint in his eyes for a moment, but then he only pursed his lips in a mock pout. "What a foul mouth, lil' lumin." Swiftly he grabbed the lapels of my shirt and pulled me close, his breath ghosting over my ear. "Say. My. Name."
Damn. This definitely should not have the effect it had. And I was still somewhat pissed and simply in no mood to play his stupid games. There wasn't even a threat in his demand. There was only the warmth of his body and the smell of his aftershave and his mere presence prickling my skin and tingling in my mind like aftershocks from our session.
I exhaled and his name slipped from my mouth, more whispered than spoken and a tiny bit more shaky than planned and the last letter had barely slipped my mouth as his lips were shutting me up already, hands still clasping my lapels. The contact let his mind bristle against mine, without intruding, but yearning for much more than he was willing to give for now.
"That has to be enough reassurance," he uttered against my lips, thumbs stroking over the cloth he held.
We parted and I had to catch my breath, unable to keep a grin from my face. "I take that as a 'you're doing great'"
The Master snorted. "Not even close. But good enough for an ape."
"Same thing, coming from you." I poked my tongue out at him and then hurried to leave the room.
"Oh,someone's in a good mood today," said Donna as we were playing cards in a meadow of golden gras. No wind disturbed our play and the orange sun was just warm enough to be pleasant.
"I'm always in a good mood!" said the Doctor with a grin, tossing a card on the heap.
"No, not you, silly. I mean Lucy. You seemed a little down these days."
I glanced up from my cards and looked at Donna. "Uh… am I?" Stupid question. Even now it was hard to keep myself from smiling. "It's nice here. I love the colours." My nose pointed upwards, sniffing. "And it smells of herbs and flowers."
"Mhm… it really is a nice place," Donna agreed with a content face. "But we've been to a few nice places already and you're definitely happier today."
Warmth crept up my neck and I tried to hide my face behind the cards. She wasn't wrong, but this wasn't anything I could tell her. Especially not with the Doctor right next to us. What would he think about this all? Did he have any feelings for the Master? Would he hate me if he found out… But it wasn't even… anything… anything at all, actually. It had no meaning.
"Had a good night's rest, 's all. And today is a great day. The cake we had before was amazing."
"Ha! I win!" called the Doctor, tossing his last card on the heap. "Shall we go and grab dinner somewhere else or stay here?"
Donna cast a last look at me and then decided to stay for another while. "Just to keep everyone smilin'. There's enough bad stuff in the universe already." She sighed, but grinned. "We can get some of that stuff that looked like fish in the restaurant in town, yeah? That looked neat."
We agreed and spent a calm evening there, enjoying great food and an even greater view, while I did my best to stay away from thoughts I didn't want to deal with right now. Somehow I would manage to deal with the strange new situation I had found myself in. And somehow I could surely manage to let all the lose threads run together and make sense, in the end.
"You coming? We want to get back."
I blinked and tore my eyes away from the beautiful sunset I was watching from the restaurant's porch. The Doctor was still busy paying for the food - one of the places he actually had money for - and Donna stood in the fading sunlight, holding her summer hat and having her bright dress swaying in the mild breeze.
I smiled and got out the small camera I had gotten myself some time ago. "Stay exactly as you are, Donna," I told. "Don't move."
"Oh, don't take pictures of me, I always look weird in them. And sort of- Ah, whatever. Do your thing. But don't blame me if they don't look great!"
"Actually," I flipped through the images and giggled, "they look lovely."