It must have been due to exhaustion that I slept so well – definitely no other reason! Now that I had properly rested, my head was clearer than the day before, my mind no longer in a somewhat delirious state. The sound of the drill probably woke me up, tearing into the world of black unconsciousness.
I was still lying in pretty much the same position as the evening before, the Master next to me, breathing regularly and slow, probably still asleep. Did Time Lords really require less rest than humans and this was only due to the life force transfer, or had he lied? It was impossible to tell and I actually didn't care much at that moment.
It was snugly warm under the blanket and I wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could, although it still felt weird to be so close to someone and yet so comfortable. It had never been easy to feel entirely safe around people, mostly because I had such a hard time comprehending all their strange social rules, but also because I knew they wouldn't bother accepting any of my boundaries anyways. But, weird, as it was, the Master had done exactly that, of all people.
Sure, he had kept me here, with him, but with enough space for my own, had I chosen to keep it. And even though I knew his behaviour was mostly to manipulate me, there also was something brutally honest about it. He simply didn't bother to hide who he was and what he wanted.
The sound of the door opening was what finally woke the Master. Or maybe he hadn't been really asleep, after all. He didn't pay attention to whomever was entering and instead only stared at me, brows furrowed and belying the calm state his face had displayed before. It seemed as if he was silently scolding me for still being here.
"Hey, wake up time!" Danny's voice tore through the silence. "I brought breakfast and the Captain said, if you behave all week, we might consider letting you out. Test-wise. So..." He paused and made some noise, like he was placing down some food on the table. A surprised sound indicated he had noticed the untouched meal from the evening before. "Well... don't mess up, yeah? We'll spend quite the time here, it wouldn't do any of us, including you, any good, if you were locked away here for the whole time."
The Master rolled his eyes and himself to the other side, where he sat up and probably gave the other man a dooming look. I sat up as well, suddenly a little embarrassed about how this might look to Danny. Lacking my glasses I couldn't see his expression at the moment, but it sure must have been baffled.
"Oh, here you are," he let out dumbfounded. "I was looking for you." There was a noticeable pause in which he glanced at the Master and then back at me. "Eh... right. You can meet me in half an hour. Follow the purple cables outside and you'll get to me, alright?"
I simply nodded and returned a small smile. When he left, the Master pushed my glasses into my hands and stood, letting his neck crack unpleasantly. "You heard him. Get lost. If not, I'll throw you out myself."
A little perplex I glared at the frame in my hands, slowly unfolded it and placed the glasses on my nose, before I answered.
"And that after practically keeping me prisoner, before." I sighed dramatically and poked out my tongue. "Maybe, for once, decide, whether or not you hate me."
"There really is no decision to make." He huffed annoyed and crossed his arms, waiting for me to move.
So I did and left for my own room. The Ood had brought beddings and other necessities like towels and hygiene products. I snatched some of the latter and went for the common bathroom to get myself somewhat fresh, before following the purple cables to Danny's workplace.
It was weird and scary at first, and I was hellishly glad to have been occupied by other thoughts the evening before, or else I would have worried myself to bits. But Danny actually was really friendly and patient and showed me lots of things that made my head spin.
Eventually he laughed. "Okay, I think that might be enough for one day. But hey, you did well."
My head almost shot up at his words. My hands were busy fiddling some small computer pieces apart. "Th... thanks," I muttered with a shy smile.
"Let's call it a day and get some food, yeah?" He stretched his arms and yawned. "Heh, it's actually fun tutoring someone."
"It's fun learning something useful."
"Didn't you before?" he wanted to know as we walked to the canteen."At your age..."
I glanced away, not saying a word. Danny nudged me against the shoulder and smiled broadly at me.
"Hey, I won't judge," he assured. "I'm just curious."
"I... tried. I really did. They just don't want people like me around. So no one ever gave me an apprenticeship somewhere. Guess I gave up trying, eventually."
"Why's that? What's wrong about you?"
Surprised I peeked at Danny, a little at a loss for words. He should have better asked what wasn't wrong. In the end I only shrugged.
"Guess I behave too autistic for most employers. Social skills count tenfold more than any other abilities. So, if you lack those..." Again I twitched my shoulders and glanced at my shoes.
"Weird," Danny muttered. "Why didn't they put you in the specialist programs like the others?"
"Huh? What're those?" Dumbfounded I blinked at him.
"Uhm... the... geeze. You don't know Oods, you have never heard of the Speccies..." He let out a laugh. "From what colony did you lot come? Well, anyway... back home they have the Speccies. They basically collect neuro-diverse people, like autists, to utilize all your special abilities."
"Certainly not where I come from," I muttered, again wondering what colonies he could mean. But I had no clue if it was safe asking, so I kept quiet about it.
"Eh, doesn't matter now, does it? I mean, you're here, now, and you seem to be really good with all the small parts and the logic stuff... After we finetuned you a little, you won't have trouble finding jobs for the rest of your life."
I couldn't help the smile plastering itself on my face. This was just too good. Being stuck here still scared every last bit out of me, but it was only for a few years, maximum. After that I could go and finally have a proper life of my own. The Time Lords probably hadn't planned on keeping me with them forever, anyway.
Absently my thumb stroked over my wrist. The healing scars were barely palpable, as if they were only a faint shadow of some dream. Maybe I really did owe the Master. At least in this very moment it felt like it.
The Doctor was in the canteen with the rest of the team. He was babbling about, obviously entertaining everyone.
"Oi, Danny!" Jefferson called out. "Did'ya know this guy's really something in his head?"
"Yeah, he really is," Ida seconded. "Did calculate the strength of the power source below in a few seconds."
"Did he now?" Danny raised a brow. "Well, I'm intrigued. Tell, Doctor, what is it?"
"It has an inverted self extrapolating reflex of six to the power of six every six seconds," the Time Lord shot out immediately and with the widest, proudest grin. "No wonder you want to find it."
"Alright, I'm impressed," Danny admitted.
I chuckled. "Six, six, six. We should be scared."
Surprised Danny raised an eyebrow, but didn't say a word. Maybe he was just not into horror movies.
We got our ratio from the Ood and sat at the table with the others. Today I actually was hungry. Quite a lot at that. Only after I had finished half the meal did I pay attention to the others again, admiring how the Doctor had been able to obviously befriend everyone in here within a day. He was just so bubbly and smiling all the time. The all laughed about his jokes and seemed to like him quite a lot.
If only I were able to do that. But me they all pretty much ignored, as if I weren't even there. Even when I tossed something in, or tried to make a joke. No one paid me much attention, and so I resumed my silence, continued what I had done all my life, observing and studying the people around me. It often happens that I know a lot more about the people around me than they realize, and more than most others know. By watching, you can learn a lot. And watching had always been the only thing I was allowed to do.
There had been times where I had seriously contemplated whether I might be somewhat invisible to humans. They so often treated me as if I didn't even exist, ignored what I said, bumped into me, totally surprised about my presence.
Even Danny, who had normally talked to me while we were alone, now completely ignored me. The whole situation was way too familiar and hurt more than it should. It reminded me of times with so-called friends, who acted nice and normal towards me, as long as we were alone, but as soon as other people joined I was forgotten, became nothing but a bystander, stopped existing in their world.
I glared at the rest of my food, suddenly not hungry anymore.
Nothing at all had changed, I realized. Apprenticeship or not, I still was no one. I still would live alone and forgotten, as soon as we'd return to earth.
No, I already did, would for as long as we stayed here.
What had I even expected? The world didn't simply change, just because we were on some planet near a black hole. It didn't change because I was alive, although I didn't want to be. It certainly didn't budge at all because the Master behaved like a total dock in one moment, then as if he cared, then as if he was disgusted by the mere thought of having me in close proximity.
My thumb slid over my wrist again, an unheard sigh escaped my mouth. I watched as they all left the room, one after the other, tossing good nights and sleep wells at the remaining people.
What a fool I was. So happy in the morning, only to be tossed back into reality with full force. I wanted to cry, but my eyes refused to produce a single tear, I wanted to punch something, but I felt too limp to move. So, in the end I only dropped my head on my arms on the table and let out a long, frustrated sigh.