by TardisGhost [Reviews - 78]Chapter or Story
"I thought it'd be cleaner."
The Doctor glared at Wilf, eyes wide and mouth hanging open. "C… cleaner?"
"Would be far worse without me," came a snarky remark from the Master.
"That's all you have to say?" asked the Doctor in a whiny tone.
"Well…" Wilf bobbed his head from left to right. "I mean… it is impressive, Doctor. You fit this all into that old phone box. But if you can travel through time…I guess this isn't too special, innit?"
The Time Lord in question let out an indignant whimpering, much to the Master's delight, judging by his barely contained chuckle.
"But what now?" Donna stepped between them. "What's happening with the cars? And what about those Sontranas?"
"Sontarans." The Doctor weaved a hand through his hair and looked around. "Martha and Unit are looking into it. Not much we can do here until tomorrow. She'll call if anything happens sooner."
Which is how we ended up in space again, the TARDIS idly floating next to our moon, allowing a stunning view on earth and the stars.
"Never thought I'd see it like that," muttered Wilf, still astonished about the view. "Must really be the end of me then, I guess." He chuckled.
But Donna gave him a dark glare. "Don't talk like that, Gramps. You've got enough time left. You're not that old."
His chuckle died down, but a spark stayed in his eyes when he looked at her, then at me. We both stood next to him by the door. It was clear he had accepted his fate already, he wouldn't fight whatever would come, whenever it would come.
It made me wonder if the Doctor was the same. He stood by the console and seemed to be in dark thoughts. So I left the pair alone and stepped to him, nudging him lightly with a smile. "You okay?"
The Doctor blinked a few times and turned his head, returning the smile after some seconds. "Yes, yes, completely okay. Always okay."
"You were having such a dark look, though."
"Oh?" His eyes flicked towards the Nobles, but didn't linger. "I… Oh, I'm just happy to see them happy, is all." Which was the perfect opposite of an explanation.
"Isn't it strange," I muttered. "You're centuries older than each of us. But you don't seem like an old man. Not like…" Shrugging, I turned away.
"Now it's you with the dark look." The Doctor laughed and ruffled through my short hair. "Actually, you were having that look the whole time already. What's on your mind?"
From the side I glanced at him, unsure whether I even could put my thoughts into coherent sentences. Instead I looked around to see if the Master had come back, but he still was somewhere inside the TARDIS, unwilling to spend his time among so many humans. Somehow he had appeared to be even more grumpy than usual.
"It's just… time."
"Time? That's not an issue. We can travel to every moment, every place. Maybe not every every place… can't cross my own timeline…"
"No, I mean… my own time. I see the stars and the universe and planets and… you. And compared to all of that… it feels like I have only the shortest of moments left to live, left to… be. And experience and to share."
The Doctor looked at me with those big brown and somehow sad eyes, thoughts and ideas almost visibly running through his mind. His gaze wandered over to the Nobels again and I knew what he saw, knew what he thought, before he even spoke.
"It's about what we do with the time we have, Lucy," he spoke, smiling softly. "One day can be worth more than a thousand years if spent well enough."
"Yah…" I glared at my shoes. "But what if this makes you completely unimportant to… to everything that will stay behind?" I sighed and shook my head. "'m sorry, I'm just a little tired." It wasn't a lie. Only an incomplete truth. "It was a rather long day. Did you hear back from your friend on earth?"
"Mhm… no. Not yet." Luckily the Doctor didn't mind changing the subject. He sighed and his look got even darker. "I'm worried about her. She played quite the role when the Master was ruling the planet. And she was really pissed that I still haven't handed him over to Stormcage."
My eyebrows shot up. I didn't know much about this year that had been completely erased from time. Neither the Master, nor the Doctor had told much about the details. Maybe I could ask this Martha, in case we would meet. It didn't surprise, though, that she had suggested locking the Master away.
"Stormcage?" I still asked, having trouble thinking of a place that would be secure enough to keep him from running.
"It's one of the safest prisons. High security. Hovering in deep space. So even if you can get out of your cell, you still can't leave. "Some of the most dangerous people are locked away there. No one escapes."
I hummed thoughtfully, letting the implications run through my mind. But even after all of the things I knew the Master was capable of, I also knew, "I don't want him there."
"Me neither," confirmed the Doctor immediately. "It's better to have him here. And he's changed. Maybe only in subtle ways, but… he did."
I huffed out a laugh and nudged him playfully with my shoulder. "Well, being stuck with your happy face for years has to have some effect on anyone."
"Oi!" he protested, laughing, nudging me back. "'T wasn't me alone, though. You also had an effect on him."
"Me?" I shook my head. "Certainly not." How could I? Being nothing but a mere second on the clock of his life. Maybe not even that.
"Doctor!" called Wilf, waving happily as he trotted over to us, interrupting. "My dear told me you have some food in here. And maybe a bed to stretch my limbs out a little. I'm just an old man, you know. Need a little rest, opposite to you young folks." His words were followed by a wink and he smiled warmly at me.
"Errrr…. You're going to stay? I never said…" The Doctor glared at Donna, his eyes almost pleading. But a single scowl from her made him shrink and he hurried to call them both to the doors and probably lead them to the kitchen.
Even when everyone had gone to bed I stayed, enjoying the view and the silence. Just standing there, leaning against the door frame, I glanced at the nearby moon, thinking of nothing, until there was a shuffling nearby and then something warm in my back.
"You're almost as star-sick as I am," the Master said in a light tone, folding his arms on top of my head. "It's only a moon. There are greater places."
"Get off of me." I giggled and leaned slightly back at him.
"Mhm… don't think so." However, he did move, now placing his chin on the crown of my head. His arms wrapped around my middle, drawing me closer against him. "I could show you places in the universe that would make your head spin, little one. Phenomena you wouldn't be able to wrap your head around." His voice got low, longing. "There are nebulae that sing to you, if you listen carefully. There are planets that literally dance, and living suns."
My heart sped up at his words, his excitement contagious. And maybe it was also the proximity of his body against mine. This closeness that felt still so unnervingly foreign, yet soothing.
"Which reminds me…," he muttered, stepping back a little. "Bye bye."
Confused, I wanted to turn, but already got pushed in the back, falling into space with a small yelp. Panic started to rise within me until I remembered that there was no need for fear, the TARDIS field would keep me from falling.
The shock settled and I started to laugh, turning on the spot to face the Master. "You bugger. What was that for?"
The Master leaned in the door, both hands at the frame and a wide grin on his face. "Just a reminder to be careful around me."
I rolled my eyes and floated closer, grabbing his black shirt with one hand and dragging him out a little. "Oh, I'm not ever going to fully trust you, no worries." I tugged a little harder, but he only grinned at my vain attempt.
And I stopped. Not because I gave up, but because of what I felt from him. All the things behind the grin, behind the facade. All the pain and anger were so palpable for a moment that I could do nothing more but stare into his hazel eyes, absorbing, accepting.
"You should never trust me," the Master said darkly, cupping my face with one hand. There was something like a smile on his face, but turned and twisted, like a wrong reflection, making him look sadder than I had ever seen him.
"But you wish I would," I breathed, my hand landing on the spot between his hearts. They were beating steadily, not showing the slightest sign of all the burning thoughts that must be racing through his mind.
He hummed and closed his eyes for a moment, bumping his forehead against mine. "This can never work, you know that," he answered so quietly I could barely hear it. "Whatever… whatever this is."
I swallowed, my heart wasn't as steady as his, and all I could do was to listen.
"In the blink of an eye you will get old. You will wither and die." It wasn't a question, but a statement, an inevitable fact that could not be changed. And the pain of its truth was audible in every word, tearing at him as much, or maybe even a lot more, than on myself. "We can't even be friends. Let alone… anything else."
My breath was heavy from everything I felt from him, from the pain, the rage, the frantic beating of my own heart. Everything that had been on my mind the past hours was now laid bare, was spoken out loud and moulded into truth.
I swallowed the heavy lump in my throat, forced myself to look directly at him and to… smile. "You wouldn't let me live that long anyway."
Something flashed behind his eyes. It was dark and ancient and cold and roared up like thunder in the distance. I felt his hand grabbing my jacket, felt how I was pulled closer. And then, unexpectedly, I saw the spark of madness in him that had been absent for so long now that I hadn't awaited it so suddenly. The air got pushed out of my lungs as he roughly shoved me backwards into the black depths of space, his face a carefully crafted mask that showed not a single trace of the storm within him. I floated away, sucking in air and watching as his figure got smaller and smaller until he turned away and stormed off.
Briefly, I wondered how long I could float away without leaving the protective shield, not feeling like moving at all. My thoughts were blank, my eyes staring at nothing. What was I supposed to feel anyway? It seemed, at this very moment, as if I had lost something. Something I wouldn't be able to bring back. We both had realised… what even? That time was limited? My time especially. Not that this was anything new, but he had seemed so furious about it…
I let out a sigh and closed my eyes, wishing I could somehow fix this.
'This can never work, you know that.'
Had this even been an option? Despite not putting any name or definition to whatever was going on between us, there had been… something. And this something was now lost. And it hurt. It hurt so much more than I was willing to accept.
So all I did was to float, feeling numb and lost and confused, until there was a small tug at my clothes.
Kira was there, his teeth sunken into the fabric of my jacket, his little wings flapping clumsily to return us to the TARDIS. I blinked at the small creature, needing a moment to find back to the present. "Okay, okay. Don't worry. I'm coming."
I started to move, half walking, half swimming, somehow. The light gravitation brought me back with little effort and Kira finally let go of me and started to whizz through the air, obviously happy about being able to move so freely. Here, it didn't matter how good his flying skills were and he performed a set of loops and swirls and let out happy squeaks that made me giggle.
Back at the door I held my hand out to let Kira climb up on my arm. But instead he sat on my head, lying flat and nuzzling his head into my hair. We floated back into the calmness of the interior, but instead of having a soothing effect, the familiar place let my chest tighten. When my feet found solid ground again it was as if the whole of reality came crashing down on me. All the things I couldn't hide from, all the things I couldn't change.
"You need to be more independent, Kira," I muttered, taking the dragon from my head and looking at his curious face. "You'll probably become far older than I. Maybe it's better we don't get used to each other so much."
The little one tilted his head, emanating confusion. He didn't seem to understand. And maybe it was for the better.