by TardisGhost [Reviews - 79]Chapter or Story
The Master shifted both our weights to the side, trapping me between himself and the backrest of the sofa. His hands slipped between us to tug himself away and then wrapped around me protectively. My breath slowed, my pulse calmed. I drowned in the comfort he gave me, tired and content in a way I hadn't experienced before. Maybe never.
As if he had heard my thoughts, the Master dropped his head against mine, smiling softly. And that alone was enough for my heart to speed up to an almost painful beating for a moment. Wide eyed, I looked at him, mesmerised by the vivid hazel of his irises. They shone with all the beauty of the stars in the universe. Right then and there I could see them all, breath caught in my lungs.
And finally I understood. I understood with all I was and all I ever could be how deep his love for the stars ran. Somewhen during his long life, it had ingrained itself into each of his body's cells. This love was part of him. With every breath and every beat of his hearts he wove it deeper into every thread of his thoughts and his very existence.
"Staring is rude," he muttered, doing exactly that. "I know I'm fascinating." His eyes closed ever so slightly and I watched how he gathered his thoughts to speak the next question, softly and curious. "What do you see, lil' lumin? You look at me and you see something only you can see. Tell me."
"I'm… not sure you want to hear that."
"I'm sure I am."
I swallowed and placed my hand on his chest, feeling the now slow and steady rhythm of his hearts. How would I even put all of it into words?
"I see the stars." I settled for the simplest truth, heaving it out of my thoughts, whispering it into reality. "They reflect in your eyes, if you look close enough. You carry them in your hearts, every single one of them."
There was no way to tell what he thought. He kept his expression neutral, only slipped his hand under my clothes to find skin. No contact. But I could still feel his frustration, his curiosity, his pain.
"You miss them. You want them," I kept muttering. "You want them all and it doesn't matter in what way. Conquering is fun, but… you can't stay for long. It gets boring too fast. And then all you want is to run and run and run… be free. Roam, just roam and take with you whatever you want. Sometimes nothing but a memory."
He kept looking at me intensely, his eyes dark and, for a moment, suddenly ablaze with cold rage. It was gone as quickly as it had flared alive, replaced by something that could only be pain. The Master knitted his brows together, gritting his teeth and his whole body stiffened.
Fear spiked within me, then. All that warmth and safety I had found with him, and now I seemed to have broken it with some stupid thoughts. "I… just told nonsense. 'm sorry," I whispered, overcome by the hurt he emanated so strongly.
"Why…?" he choked out. I shut my mouth; there was no right thing to say here. The Master propped himself up on his hands, looming over me. "You're only human. You're so far below us." His voice trembled, either with rage or with pain. "Why… why is it that you can see it? Why do you understand and… he doesn't?"
My eyes widened when I understood. Of course, how else could it be? The Master swallowed, dropping back next to me as if he had lost his last energy. At first, I hesitated, but then I gently stroked along his jaw, huddling as close as I could.
"It's not fair," he whispered, boring his gaze into mine, almost pleading.
So, even someone like him, with a lifespan I could hardly comprehend, with a history that would make anyone's skin crawl… even he wasn't safe. Up until now I hadn't been sure if he was only playing a game, or if there was anything real to it. But now it was obvious.
"You really do love him, huh?"
My words hung in the small space between us. But to my surprise, the Master only huffed and grinned a little. "Would that make you jealous?"
I swallowed, looking at his boyish smile I had grown so fond of. I made myself aware of how close we were and what we had just done. And I remembered what he had said only minutes ago.
"At first. A little, yeah," I confessed. "He's of your own kind, after all. I can't compete."
"No. You could never." There was no mock or venom in those words. It was only a fact.
"But as long…" I trailed off, idly drawing circles on his shirt, not knowing how to put it.
The Master leaned closer, hovering above me slightly. "Tell me what you want," he uttered, his words brushing my lips.
"Don't leave me alone." It slipped out of my mouth before I had a chance to think. I was decently sure he hadn't used any hypnotism, but something about him, right now, made it so easy to talk. Maybe it was just the way he lingered so close to me, emanating warmth and protection. Maybe it was the reassuring, barely visible smile on his face. "You said it before, I'm yours. As long as that doesn't change… There is no reason for me to be jealous."
He chuckled quietly and leaned down, just enough to tap my nose with his own. A mischievous spark sat in his eyes. "You think I'd sleep with you if it were any different?"
Well, he definitely had a point there, considering his usual opinion on humans. He leaned closer and lingered right above my lips, obviously enjoying how that made me squirm. But when I dared to move, he promptly grabbed my wrist and pinned it down next to my head. My breath hitched, my pulse sped up. It took quite some effort not to arch up and against him, but I didn't want to give him that satisfaction.
"Don't worry, little light," whispered the Master. "I don't feel the same for him as fo…" He paused, glaring at me with a short flash of… anger? It was gone too fast and then his lips were on mine again, taking my thoughts away until I had to gasp for air.
The weight of his body on top of me was soothing and he made sure not to squeeze anything that might hurt. I could have dwindled away in the tender kiss, the warmth he emanated. I wanted to vanish inside this moment, knowing it would end anyway. What was it he had been about to say?
There was a knock at the door.
Confusion bristled between us and the Master shot up to rush to the door, positioning himself next to it. Anyone coming in would be in danger. I sat up, ready to… I didn't even know what. There was nowhere to run and I couldn't fight.
Another knock. There were voices outside.
"Oi! It's Donna! Are you in there?"
We shared a perplexed look and the Master opened the door, surprised to find it unlocked. Still careful, his body tensed. But it really was only her. And the clone girl.
"Jenny was brilliant," babbled Donna. "Flirted with that young bloke and then just knocked him right out. Oh… Why aren't you wearing pants?"
She had simply waltzed into the room, now blinking down at me with surprise. I didn't need to be able to read her to know what kind of thoughts might be running through her head. And rightly so.
I coughed awkwardly and hurried to grab my pants from the ground. "Scratch on my thigh. Wanted to make sure it's nothing bad. Nothing to worry 'bout."
"And you needed to take off your… shoes too?"
"Yes," I simply replied, putting them on again. I was glad she didn't also notice my missing glasses, which I found on the small table in front of the sofa.
"I thought they would check on us much later," said the Master, arms folded.
"Oh, that's right." Jenny beamed up at him, standing a few steps away. "But this one seems to have a little crush on me and came for a flirt. Now he'll have a headache instead."
The Master groaned. "Don't tell me he's still alive. I thought they program you to kill."
"I wanted to," protested the girl.
"And I kept her from doing so. Not on my watch. He's just a boy."
"And he will murder you right on the spot if he gets the chance," grunted the Master. "Tell me, he's tied up at least."
"Yes, Sir." Jenny performed a little salute. "Can't move. Can't talk or scream for help. But we should move anyway. The regular guards will come soon enough."
"Might as well." He tossed a quick glance at me and I nodded, indicating I was ready (and fully clothed). "If I memorised the map correctly, and I have, then I know how to get to the source. We might still reach it first and take it before them."
"What do you want with it?" asked Donna.
"Don't know yet. That depends on whatever it turns out to be. Now move."
Together we left the cell and walked down more of the corridors. We went up and down countless stairs. A few times there were more soldiers, forcing us to hide. In situations like that, the Master proved to be surprisingly useful. His enhanced hearing spotted any danger long before any of us could.
Except for Jenny.
It was when the Master was busy remembering the way that she suddenly froze.
"Hey, someone's coming. Three… No, four people. Three women, one man."
The Master blinked at her, dumbfounded, then listened for himself and nodded. We hid behind a large stack of crates, waiting. And when the soldiers moved past, I saw that Jenny had been right about her prediction. It seemed she had inherited the same fine senses.
"Oh, don't have that look," mocked Donna quietly as we went on. "I checked her heartbeat back in the cell. And now guess."
The Master wrinkled his nose, kicking some rubble away. "She's got two hearts."
"Yes." Donna nudged him lightly. "Why so grumpy about it? Isn't that great news? Another Time…"
"She's not a Time Lord," hissed the Master. "It takes so much more than DNA to be one."
"Right… You're probably right 'bout that. Sorry. But say…" Donna looked around. The Master already groaned. "No, not' cause of Jenny. D'you happen to have some paper and a pen with you?"
"What for?" I asked.
Donna pointed at a small metal plate above a tunnel segment. Those were everywhere down here. Cables and pipes, machines and controls. And those plates. "Because, do you see, the numbers are counting down. This one ends in one four. One further behind said one six."
"So?" The Master shrugged, aimlessly knocking against control panels and shoving away pebbles as if he needed the environment to feel his bad mood. "Some cataloguing system from the builders."
"Not so sure. I sense a pattern. I'm good with numbers, y'know?"
The Master sighed and reached inside his black jacket to really get out a small notebook and a pen. He dropped both into Donna's hands, watching with raised brows how she scribbled down numbers. Another look wandered over to me and I answered with a smile. One he reciprocated, much to my surprise. My heart jumped again, so I turned away, deciding to ignore this for the time being.
"You're always thinking, the bunch of you," mumbled Jenny when we continued to walk. "And why do you call yourself Master? That's no name. Don't you have one? Are you an anomaly too?"
Weird how she could wield weapons and kill without a second thought, but then be so childlike and curious in other situations. I wondered what her mental age actually was. Did they create child soldiers in adult bodies? Or did they simply create adults that were never taught how to lose that curiosity in the first place?
"Anomaly?" He snorted. "No. Not like you. Although the Time Lords would probably tell you differently."
"Time Lords," repeated Jenny, tasting the sound as if it were a foreign wine. "What are they for?"
"For?" The Master let out a humourless laugh. "They aren't for anything, except maybe for making my life miserable. Well… not anymore."
"Why not anymore?"
The Master shot her murderous glare, one with so much hate and hurt in it that it made my skin crawl. Their own kind always seemed to be a touchy subject for him and also for the Doctor. I really needed to probe them soon to find out what exactly had happened. Both of them were exceptionally good at avoiding the subject.
"Stop babbling," grunted the Master. "I don't want them to hear us. And I think we're getting closer."