For the next few days I did my best to hide from the Master. It wasn't that I was afraid of him maybe hurting me. It was that I didn't want him to lay his hands on the egg.
Sometimes I wondered if it was still his hypnotism that kept me protecting the small thing. Ever since I had spent so much time with it in that room, I had a hard time leaving it out of sight and especially out of reach. Only when I took a shower did I set it down. In all other times I wore it inside a tiny shoulder bag I had crafted from some stuff the TARDIS had offered.
At night - or what would constitute as such inside here - I lay awake for long hours, holding the egg within my hands, watching the delicate pattern pulsate and feeling its warmth and the tiny heartbeat within the shell. During the days I tried to stay close to the Doctor, knowing the Master wouldn't confront me in front of him.
"Up for some sightseeing?" the Doctor asked, grinning, when I entered with my usual mug of coffee in hands. "Nothing big. We'll just hover in space for a while, watching the birth of a double quadroon nebulae cluster. Always fascinating. Happens-" he tilted his head and thought for a second- "only every billion years or so. I think there are only roughly a hundred of those in the entirety of time and space."
"Wait... like... actually going to space?" I gaped at him.
"Well, we're on different planets all the time..."
"Yeah!" I interrupted, excitedly. "But that's on the surface. And not in space itself. Do we have a spaceship? I mean... the TARDIS, yeah, but can it fly through space?"
For the last few days the Doctor had taken me to some harmless places. Cities, forests, a space-station with a black market. Okay, the last one had ended in us being chased by what could be called the local mafia, but it had still been a relatively quiet day. The Doctor did his best to stay out of trouble, even though I sometimes caught him twitching in the direction of certain conversations that hinted at bigger things going on. Once, I only patted his arm, told him to run off and marched straight back to the TARDIS. (He had to follow to open the door, but after that he was gone. And I never learned what had or hadn't happened.)
"Of course it can!" he now told, beaming from ear to ear. "The TARDIS has special protection shields. Not even an army of elephants can get in. Not even a Dalek can shoot through it."
Whatever a Dalek was.
He grinned at my wide eyes and jumped to a set of buttons to get us going. I held tight onto one of the seats, somehow even managing not to spill my coffee. After we stopped I pre-emptively emptied the mug and sat it down.
Meanwhile the Doctor had already hastened to the doors to open them wide. With a grin back at me he waved and when I trod next to him I saw a wonderful sight that is hard to put into words. I'll try it anyway, because it were sights like these that burned themselves into my mind, that kept me moving, even in moments when everything inside of me screamed to just stop.
Before us spread a field of vines - at first it looked like some, at least - their size was unbelievable and the TARDIS was only a speck of dust in comparison to a single colourful strand. Dark blues and purples dominated the palette, weaved themselves through the fuzzy vines, blinked and glowed where they concentrated.
And all of those strands ran together in the middle, a point I was only able to make out after several minutes of trying to comprehend the massiveness of this. The centre, now, was an enormous sphere of colour and dancing lightning, so far away that it would take a century to reach. A storm cloud of matter, a blazing nest of energy, sizzling and compressing itself to something new, something rare and spectacular.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
The voice startled me. Firstly, because of how consumed by the sight I had been, Secondly because it belonged to the Master.
My heart leaped to my throat and I dared to peek behind me. Not that it would have been necessary. He put a hand to the door frame right next to my head and left barely any space between my back and himself.
Being trapped like this, I couldn't move away. The egg weighed heavily in my small bag, hung so close to the Master's hand. But he made no attempt to steal it. For now.
"It is!" the Doctor happily seconded, unaware of the slight tension between us. "They say if you witness this phenomena, you should make a wish. Any. The sheer energy of this place will carry it along and weave it into the fabric of reality."
The Master huffed. "Legends, Doctor. Nothing more."
Somehow his words wore a tinge of sadness. The other Time Lord replied something, a bubbling of words. But I heard none of them. There was a hand near my throat all of a sudden, but it quickly slid lower, rested somewhere near my collar bone and slightly slipped under my shirt. Skin met skin and immediately I felt a nudge and a tug in my head, so unexpected that I could barely bite back a gasp.
And I saw… I saw through the Master's eyes, saw him glaring at a similar sight like this, wishing for the drums to be taken. He shouted it out into space, screamed it into the weaves of colours. And when there was no answer and the drums still hammered in his head, he sunk to his knees and laughed, and then cried and screamed, begged.
The images vanished. I had no idea if he let me see them voluntarily or if it was just a slip. Might be for the better not to mention it.
"Do I make you nervous?" the Master muttered, his mouth close to my ear. "Your heart is beating so fast."
Crap. I couldn't move away while he held me like that. And now I also saw that the Doctor had left. Then there also was the foreign stream of energy in my head, making my perception hazy. The Master must have felt my slight, sudden panic and pushed me back against him a little.
"Hey," he quietly laughed. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"
"N… no. I'm just not used to this."
"Relax, I only want the drums to shut up for a bit."
I nodded, took a deep breath and allowed myself to calm down, to sink against him a little and just enjoy the view. It was indeed breathtakingly beautiful. Maybe I was the first and only human to ever witness it, taking into account how rare it was.
As rare as just being held like this. Admittedly, I had kind of missed the Master a little, during the last days. As annoying and dangerous as he could be, there was just something about him…
His other hand started to frisk my hoodie until he reached the strap of the shoulder bag and started fumbling with that. I froze and started to slightly panic at once, but there was a soothing nudge from his mind, running through me.
"You've taken good care of it," the Master mumbled and his hand left.
"'course I have," I grumbled back and tried to grab the small bag to get it out of his immediate reach.
"Uh oh." His soft laugh reverberated through my back. "Did I wake your motherly instincts?"
"My what?" I snorted. "Pretty sure I don't have those."
"No? You're not hypnotized anymore and still guard the thing like a hen. But that's not important. It reacts to you and keeping it close… well… I hope you realize it might still take a long time to hatch it. Centuries even. Maybe longer."
Could that be the case? But if that were true, why would it react to someone like me, who had such a limited lifespan?
"You… won't take it away?" I asked hopefully.
The Master chuckled. "No. I can't do anything with it. You might as well make yourself useful."
I smiled and skimmed a finger over the bag. Useful. That was a first. The egg kept warm simply by being close to me. Body contact wasn't required, although I still loved to feel its texture and the faint heartbeat.
"Oh, you're still here."
The Doctor's voice dragged me out of my thoughts and I got aware of how quickly the Master removed his hand from my skin. And therefore also my mind. I slightly winced, shuddered a little. Losing the contact so fast made me feel uncomfortable in a way I couldn't even describe.
"Yah," the Master replied late. "Was just contemplating getting some samples from the dust clouds."
"Oh, that's a brilliant idea!" The Doctor appeared next to me, peeking his head through the door. "We might even learn something completely new. I think I remember they told us about this at the academy. Something about that there were barely any studies."
"What can we learn from-" I waved outside - "this. It's pretty, but isn't it just stardust and stuff?"
"Might." The Doctor shrugged. "But I've seen sentient suns and talking moons. I know of life forms that are made of sound and elements that defy every single rule of physics. So…" He giggled happily. "Better to check than to miss out, eh?"
"And how do we get samples?" I wondered, tilting my head in thought.
"That's easy," the Master replied, and there was something in his voice that exceeded mischief and made me nervous.
I turned around and looked questioningly at the Time Lords. The Doctor fumbled around in his suit pockets that seemed to contain far more items than were possible to even fit in. The Master had stepped away from me a little, but was still in arm's reach. His eyes rested on me, then he reached over to the Doctor to rip the small vials out of his fingers.
"Oi!" he protested. "Don't steal them."
"Shut it, Doctor. I'm saving us some work here."
With that he slipped the vials into the pocket of my hoodie and answered my puzzled look with a childish grin. I opened my mouth to ask, but in that moment he already grabbed my collar, wriggled the fingers of his free hand at me and then... simply shoved me backwards and out into space.