"How the heck did you manage to mirror me?" The Master asked eventually, his tone grumpy. He released his death grip on me enough to slightly turn away and look at me.
I glanced up, blushing a little and giving him a flustered grin. "No idea? I just didn't want to have all the fun alone." His glare could have been deadly to anyone else, so I cheekily added in a whisper, "And maybe I enjoyed having a bit of control over you for once."
For a second I wasn't sure anymore that he wouldn't harm me, his eyes turning so dark I could barely see them anymore. His hands twitched and suddenly he rolled above me and I was screaming as he abused my position to mercilessly tickle me until I could barely breathe anymore.
"S… stop," I cried. "Peace! I Surrender!"
To my luck he did stop and grinned down at me with the most smug expression I had seen in a while. "Who's in control here?" he asked, his fingers twitching just enough to make me jump and wriggle.
"Doooooon't!" I begged, laughing. "Please, Master."
Well, that always worked. Somehow. There was still a certain darkness in his eyes, but definitely not from anger. He let a look wander over me, regret emanating from him so strongly I didn't need a psychic connection to feel it. Maybe because the feeling was, partially, also my own. His head dropped against my chest, his hair tickling my chin, and I felt him chuckle quietly.
Somehow I hoped he couldn't feel how fast my heart was beating, despite him practically lying on top of me. I couldn't help it, this childish side of him made me feel warm and fuzzy and I couldn't resist stroking my fingers through his hair, playing with them for as long as he would let me. And for a while he did, precious seconds in which I could feel his breath slowing and his entire form relaxing.
But eventually he seemed to remember to be himself again, his head turning up to look me in the eyes. "Didn't know you were so ticklish." His tongue poked out and his fingers twitched slightly, making me jump again for a second. Much to his delight.
"'Cause not," I mumbled, half smiling, half serious. "You preferred choking me, so far."
Something flashed over his face, but I couldn't quite make it out without my glasses. The Master folded his arms on top of my chest and laid his chin on them, observing me. "Tough," he eventually mumbled defiantly. "But… maybe I'll resort to tickling you into obedience from now on."
"I'm noooot sure I'd prefer that," I protested, trying to laugh, which was hard with having extra weight on my lungs.
"Am I too heavy?" It didn't sound as if he was bothered by that possibility.
"No, actually not." I folded my hands behind my head, smiling. "But… didn't we want to practise? That went a bit sideways. Not that I'd complain."
"You learned enough for one day." He pursed his lips, obviously pouting.
"You could have stopped me anytime."
"No chance." He huffed and let out what could only be described as a low growl, glaring at me with puckered brows. It made me giggle and my hands found their way back into his hair.
Both of us froze.
For an eternal second neither of us moved, maybe we didn't even breathe. Slowly I retreated my hand, blinking confused. The Master looked at me, not with anger, not with hatred, but almost with a sense of shock. And suddenly he rolled down from me, glaring at the ceiling without a word, and I was left cold and too light.
In that short moment we both seemed to have realized actually how comfortable we had been with each other. How familiar. How…
"I don't like this." His voice broke through my thoughts, low and laced with a hint of stubbornness.
I turned my head to the side. The Master was still glaring upwards, but he soon turned his head, regarding me with a long look I couldn't decipher. And right when I was about to ask, he shot up, climbing from the bed.
"You can stay here, if you want," he offered toneless. "I… need to finish stuff."
My heart dropped and I sat up, watching him sit down by his table to tinker with whatever. A lump formed in my throat, the fear that I had gone too far, that I had driven him away for good now, gnawed on me, made my stomach ache.
"'m sorry," I whispered, not knowing if he could even hear it.
He had, obviously. His head turned around and his eyes rested on me for a solid minute. "What for? You did nothing wrong. I…" He shook his head and suddenly laughed quietly. "This isn't exactly my territory. I'm not mad. Not at you at least."
I let out a relieved sigh and nodded. "Alright. Just… tell me if I do something stupid. I'm not good at this either." I gave him a crooked smile and plucked my glasses from the night stand. "Guess it's better to go. I'm not sure what the dragon is up to. Maybe I should keep an eye on him."
I slid from the bed, sauntering over to him to look over what he was building there. It was his Vortex Manipulator, only that it was taken completely apart.
I winced when a hand brushed my arm. The Master drew me closer and gently yanked me down to his eye level. A smirk was on his face. "You're not getting out of this, little Lumin. You're mine, no matter what."
I huffed, nodding slowly. "Then don't run from me."
"I'm not running." He chuckled, tilting his head. "Well, maybe a little." His grip on my arm tightened and he drew me closer, his other hand cupping my chin, his head diving forward to capture my lips in a short, sweet kiss. "But I can't get enough. Never enough," he whispered, nudging my forehead with his.
"Sounds dangerous," I remarked, smirking. "I think I like that."
The Master laughed and let go of my arm, nodding to the door. "Go on, take care of that little nuisance before I put it in another pot."
I saw him rubbing the tiny bite marks on his finger and had to smile. "Yeah, I'll do my best."
"Hold stiiiill!" I begged, trying to stretch the measuring tape. But each time I did so, Kira turned his head to keep an eye on the thing. "It's not going to bite you, promise. Stand still."
Finally he did, just long enough for me to get a quick glance at the number, then he jumped on the tape and squeaked frightened when it snapped backwards.
"I told you to hold still. Sixteen centimetres. From head to tail. I want to see if you grow. And how fast."
Kira poked the tape in my hands with his snout and looked up at me. The little one was certainly intelligent, although I hadn't yet found out in which ways. There seemed to be a basic understanding whenever I talked to him, but I wasn't sure if he understood a vague meaning or the actual words.
I spread my arms to both sides to signal him to do the same. "Spread your wings, like this. Yeah! Good. Exactly like that." This time he held almost still, only the eyes followed my every movement. "Twenty eight centimetres. Alright."
I noted both down into a small notebook, then I trickled some ink on a plate and poked my finger into it, making a fingerprint on a piece of paper. "Can you do that?"
I showed him again and the little one watched curiously, holding out the fingers on his wings to dip them into the ink. But instead of giving me a print he started licking it away and let out an indignant sneeze.
"I know, it's bad. That's why you're not supposed to lick it. Do it like this, see?"
This time he did it properly, sniffing the handprint afterwards. Kira seemed to be pleased and promptly hopped onto the plate, dunking legs and claws into the remaining ink and hopping back on my notebook to leave all four prints there. I laughed and showed him a bowl with water to wash the ink off.
"Thank you. Here, have a bug."
I fished out a small, dried bug from my chest pocket and threw it in the air where it got caught mid flight. They were from a planet called Duggarel and were the size of pennies. Somehow Kira was crazy for them, so it was a good way to treat him for good behaviour.
"Next on the list is flight training." I looked at the little one, tilting my head. "Im still not sure if your wings are simply too small yet or if you don't have enough practise. But you fly like an imp with low health points. Not… that you would know what that is. Maybe it's better if you never see a video game… dragons don't get treated so well in them, most of the time."
The thought made me grimace and Kira only looked at me, expecting something to happen.
"Let's ask the Doctor if he wants to land us somewhere nice. I bet he knows a good place to get you some practice."
We entered the console room just in time to see the Doctor and Donna excitedly talk about something. Hands were gesturing, voices were raised. There was a hint of fear in the air.
"Well then, I'll have a look at the Rattigan academy. It'll be fun! We're going to the country. Fresh air and geniuses, what more could you ask?"
Donna gave him a small smile. "Actually. I'm not coming with you. I've been thinking. I'm sorry. I'm going home."
Home? Why would she go home? My heart clenched at the thought of her leaving. Her mere presence had filled the TARDIS with light and laughter. And so much warmth.
The Doctor rubbed his neck, his face expressionless. "Really?"
"I've got to."
There it was. That moment again. People leaving, living their own lives, chasing their own goals. Kira nudged my cheek and I smiled at him, hoping that at least he would stay for a little while longer.
"Oh, if that's what you want." Strangely enough, the Doctor didn't appear to be sad. And I realised that he, too, had only waited for this moment to come. "I mean, it's a bit soon. I had so many places I had wanted to take you. The Fifteenth Broken Moon of the Medusa Cascade, the Lightning Skies of Cotter Palluni's World, Diamond Coral Reefs of Kataa Flo Ko."
"You really going?" I asked, stepping next to the Doctor."
She didn't get to answer, though, being interrupted by the Time Lord, who was in full speech.
"Thank you. Thank you, Donna Noble, it's been brilliant. You've, you've saved my life in so many ways. You're…" Suddenly he stopped, his mouth hanging open for the duration of a long breath. "You're just popping home for a visit, that's what you mean."
The redhead stared at him with a stern expression and then just erupted, "You dumbo!"
"And then you're coming back," the Doctor concluded, and my heart did a relieved little jump.
"Know what you are?" Donna scolded. "A great big outer space dunce."
The Doctor ruffled his own hair, making them a mess for a second. Maybe his way of showing relief. A smile tugged at his lips. "Yeah. Yeah, guess I am."
"And you thought it too, Lucy!" exclaimed Donna. "Why would I just leave you all? And just like that!"
I turned my head away and huffed. Maybe it was good that she didn't understand. But then again… "Cause that's what people do. They all just vanish one day and never look back at you."
"Know what? You're coming with me. Enough of that depressing talk. I'm your friend and I'm not just leavin'."
I blinked at her, perplexed. Wasn't that almost the same thing I had told the Master last night? And now I was standing here, making the same assumptions about people. Maybe we really weren't too different after all.
"Okay, okay. Why not? I'm coming."