Donna filled me in on what had happened to them while I had been busy with Kira and I was actually happy to have missed it all. Military and secrets and salutes. Not my cup of tea.
"I'm not sure it's wise to take the little one with us, though," she remarked. "My mum would have a heart attack."
"Yeah, you're probably right." I fondled his head and sat him down on the console. "We'll practise afterwards, Kira, yeah? Be nice in the meantime. I'll be back soon."
"Ohhhh! You have decided on a name! It sounds cute."
I giggled. "Yeah, finally."
"Alright then," said the Doctor. "I'll drop you off at the Noble's and be on my way. Maybe it's nothing, in the end, but I'd love to check anyway. And I'd hate to disappoint Martha."
The TARDIS landed with her usual rumbling and tossing and we stepped outside, having the blue box fade behind us. Donna waved at an old lady and then ran towards an old man, who probably was her granddad.
It was then that I stopped dead in my tracks and thought about what exactly I was actually doing there. Why had I even accepted the invitation? This would be awkward at best and I'd be a third wheel, to be ignored and unliked… like always. Being with Donna and the Time Lords had almost made me forget how it was to be among normal humans. And how much I disliked it.
"What are you standing there?" asked the old man, waving at me with a warm smile. "Come in, come in. You must be Donna's friend. Alien too? Donna, is he one of them aliens?"
"She, gramps. And no. She's human, like us." She smiled brightly at me and nodded to the house, leaving me no choice but to follow inside.
Donna's mum turned out to be exhausting. She wasn't informed about where her daughter had been and that seemed to be for the better. The woman regarded me with a venomous look, as if she was making me responsible for Donna vanishing for so long. I even heard her mumble something about getting jobs and something about money and responsibility. But, luckily, she left after that and we stayed behind with only Wilf.
Her granddad was nice, I found. He was old, yeah, and it showed in the way he moved and talked. But his mind was still sharp and his heart seemed to be as big as Donna's. He made sure I had a good place at the table with the two and he made me tea and even dug out some cookies he had hidden from his daughter. He placed them on a table with a cheeky wink and Donna chuckled.
I listened as he asked his questions, making sure Donna was okay and safe. Her devotion to the Doctor surprised me, but then again did she have more experience with going on adventures with him, where I mostly tried to avoid them. Unsuccessfully.
It took me a moment to realise Wilf was talking to me. I had only listened, spacing out somewhat and hadn't expected to be spoken to. Usually, people seemed to forget I was even there as soon as there was someone else in the room they could talk to instead.
Wilf chuckled, but it wasn't a malicious expression. Quite the opposite. "You're awfully quiet. You also travel with the Doctor? Thought you were a little boy first. With the short hair and all."
"I… err… yeah. I travel too. Not much of an adventurer though." I fidgeted with my fingers and forced myself to keep an acceptable level of eye contact.
"Lucy practically lives in the TARDIS." Donna grinned. "Doesn't want to go home. Can't blame her. No! Don't think wrong, Gramps. I love spending all the time in the world with you. 'S just… mum."
"Yeah… she can be a bit much sometimes. You two take care of each other. Promise me that."
Donna and I shared a look and a smile.
We stayed the rest of the day, playing cards with Wilf and, occasionally, enduring Sylvia's scolding. She never addressed me directly, but it was clear that she thought I was keeping Donna from getting a job or doing whatever she deemed to be socially acceptable. Then again, Donna assured me, was she thinking that of absolutely everyone.
Later, Sylvia vanished to visit a friend and we used the time to order pizza, deciding to visit Wilf's hill afterwards. Just to do him a favour.
As I stood there and waited for the two to change clothes, I couldn't help but let my eyes wander over the room. The kitchen counter, the shelves, the table, all the small items that lay and stood around. Common items, making the place alive and real and so, so… ordinary. It took me a good moment before the thought took proper form, but then it was clear what made me feel so strange here.
I had gotten used to all the crazy stuff happening around me. So much so that this perfectly normal home now felt out of place for me. It was a dream of a long lost memory, a faded image in a dusty drawer. And it made me think… think of all the horrible things that used to be ordinary for me when I was younger. All the things that I - years later - learned weren't normal at all, weren't supposed to happen to people, let alone to growing up children.
"Come, let's go, Lucy!" Donna called, tearing me out of my thoughts. "Gramps says we could have a great view of the moon tonight."
And so we trudged on through the cold night and up the nearby hill to where Wilf had set up a small space entirely for himself. There was a little chair and a telescope and a small glass stove over which he heated us some tea. He told us about the stars and the constellations. He let us look through his telescope to get a tiny glimpse of all those places so far away. And all this time there was this spark of childish wonder in his eyes, although he never even once asked the one question I waited for the entire evening.
To take him with us.
But the question never came, no matter how much he told and no matter how hard we listened. And Donna, for some reason, never offered.
I pondered about this the whole way back and couldn't find a reason or an answer. But when I saw the blue box parked near Donna's house I really couldn't keep silent.
"Let's take him on a trip," I suggested.
"What, me?" he laughed, holding a hand over his heart. "Oh, silly old me. I'm too slow for the stars, too frail already. You kids, you go and run and see all those wonders."
"Nonsense!" I called out. "You especially! Why did no one even ask to take him?"
"Probably because of me," came a sarcastic voice from behind us.
I jumped in surprise, not having awaited to find the Master outside. Usually, the Doctor made sure the other man wouldn't leave the time machine on his own. Especially on earth. He took a glance at us, letting his eyes wander over Wilf and scrunched up his nose.
"Are you that Doctor, then?" asked the old man.
"No, I'm certainly not." The Master shuddered dramatically and looked at me, eyebrow raised. "What would you want with that human anyway? He's dying."
All three of us froze, my heart rate spiking painfully. This couldn't be. Wilf was such a kind man. He couldn't…
"Why would he?!" shouted Donna. "You can't know it! And don't tell me about some bullshit Time Lord senses again! He can't! He's healthy as can be!"
Dumbfounded, the Master blinked at her and tilted his head. His eyes widened slightly and then he let out a laugh, throwing his head back.
"Noooo, stupid woman. I didn't mean now. But, just look at him." He waved a hand at Wilf. "What's he got left? Ten years maybe? That's as good as dead to me."
"Ten years, Sir," muttered the old man. "That's a lot of time."
The Master huffed. "No, it's not. That's like taking a deep breath. Nothing more."
Something stirred within me at his words. And at first I couldn't pinpoint what it was, until it hit me. A simple fact that no one could ever change. That whatever would happen from now until the day of my death, would be nothing more but a glimpse, the blink of an eye, the duration of a rain shower - for him.
"You must be one of them aliens too," said Wilf, distracting me from my thoughts. "But you also look like that bloke from the telly. That Harold Saxon guy."
"Oh, don't tell me he is! Never liked that bloke."
The Master frowned, then he took a step towards the other man and glared at him. "So, Archangel didn't work on you, huh? Let's see." His voice got a lot lower when he spoke next. "You will forget that you know me, old man. Or that you ever knew."
"Oi! What'ya doing?" called Donna.
"Oh, don't shout, Donna, darling," Wilf pleaded. "He's done nothing but staring. Bit unnerving, but oh well. You look a bit familiar, son. Did we meet before?"
Rolling his eyes, the Master turned away, glaring at Donna. "It's for the better. Not fond of people remembering."
They glared at each other until a new voice interrupted. The Doctor was quickly approaching us from the TARDIS. "Always running off. I told you to stay inside, Master."
"What, you expect me to just sit still after what you've just told me?" He scoffed and cast a glance over at me. "Well, at least nothing happened…"
Donna chuckled and all heads went to her, surprised by her sudden mood swing. "Were you worried?" She had the most gleeful look on her face. "And there I thought you're nothing but a grump."
"There are Sontarans!" hissed the Master. "Of course I was…. I mean, no. I wasn't worried." He folded his arms over his chest and glared at the woman.
I observed him closely, unsure whether it was true. But if I was nothing but a speck of dust on the lens of his life, then surely he wouldn't care?
"What are Sontras?" asked Wilf as we followed the Doctor into the TARDIS. He simply came along, not waiting for an invitation.
"Sontarans," corrected the Doctor. "And they are an alien species made entirely of clones. It seems they've got something to do with the Atmos devices. But why… why is the question. Controlling cars doesn't sound so useful."
"No?" The Master tilted his head. "I'm sure I could come up with at least three ways to conquer earth with cars alone."
The Doctor groaned. "Just… don't?"
"You never mentioned there were two of'em," muttered Wilf towards Donna. "Thought it was just the Doctor. Didn't think I'd see that man again. And he's alien, too. Who would have thought."
"You've met already?" asked Donna.
"Yeah. Vanished right in front of me. Christmas eve."
"You never mentioned."
"Didn't think you'd believe it."
Falling a little behind, I made sure to enter the TARDIS after Wilf, simply because I was eager to see his reaction to the ship. A man like him, who dreamed of the stars his entire life, surely would be impressed beyond measure.