The rest of the day passed in a daze. I felt tired and restless at the same time, exhausted, but still driven. And my bloody head wouldn't stop bugging me with this barely hurting headache, that was subtle, but annoying. It actually made me wonder if there might be a tear in my mental barriers again. There had been one when the Master had tried to force his drums on me, back in the space base under the black hole. However, I had the feeling that this was a different situation. There had been no force involved, only a tumbling and falling and...
I lowered the book I was reading in the library and groaned towards the ceiling. There was no way my stupid brain would allow me to concentrate on the contents of the pages. I knew the kiss had been part of the snowball effect, remembered what I had learned about nerve endings and all that. Deepening the connection to a level that would otherwise be impossible.
Wasn't that what a kiss was about anyway?
Maybe on another level, maybe the meaning was a different one. I did my best to convince myself that it was, because there was one thing I was certain about. I had definitely not stupidly fallen in love all of a sudden.
Because I knew how that felt. I knew it far too well, remembered those sweet moments, when the world seemed perfect, when my heart was fluttering away and nothing was able to hit a dent in my mood. It was a warm feeling and not… Not this. On top of that I felt silly for even considering it.
We weren't even friends. Not really. He kept hurting me in various ways, he was an insane, dangerous mass murderer and also an alien. Well... and the only reason I was still alive, was because he would need me for something unknown, somewhere in his future. And I was damn tired, exhausted and literally not in my right mind, anyway.
Sleep only helped so far with the tiredness and I decided to take a break from everything, told the Doctor I would not go out with him for a while and just do my best to keep myself away from every source of sensory stimulation.
Ever since I had set foot inside the TARDIS I hadn't had a truly quiet day. And I desperately, physically and psychologically needed such times. With a bitter huff I remembered that this was one of the reasons no relationship, so far, had lasted. People just don't understand it and assume I didn't like them anymore or even cheated on them, when I told them I didn't want to see anyone for a few days.
Therefore I was thankful and glad that the Doctor knew about the struggles of my autism, he had no problem with that, even recommended a few meditation techniques that might help to calm my overloaded brain. Not that I ever had an easy time meditating. It's so difficult to sit around and do nothing, not to focus on one of the millions of thoughts that run through my head at every time.
Thoughts, that mostly were too hazy to grasp anyway. Snippets of words, of ideas, images, sounds, that just twirled around aimlessly. And while I could live and ignore it, most of the time - sometimes it was even helpful to be able to think three things at once - now it was only adding to my overloaded state.
At first I stayed a little in the console room and watched the Doctor tinkering about. It was fun to watch and he was always happy to ramble about technical details I didn't understand, but found fascinating anyway.
"You're doing an awful lot of maintenance," I commented thoughtfully. "Aren't there some.. I don't know... TARDIS repair stations? I bet your people have lots of those."
"There used to be!" the Doctor answered with a beaming face. "Really handy and useful." Then his features darkened, got overshadowed by something sad. "They are all... Of course they are still there... they were. I could travel back and use them. But... they would know. Time and occurrences are like inscribed in a TARDIS' matrix. It would cause a major... well..." His eyes dropped to the floor. "Doesn't matter anymore."
"Did something happen?" I dared to ask. There seemed to be a sadness lingering around him whenever anyone mentioned his people.
The Doctor looked up from the opened control panel, a bitter smile playing around his lips. "Things always happen. Yesterday, now, tomorrow." Suddenly he grinned. "How about we make a nice dinner happening, later? There is this amazing take away restaurant on Erathin. No, no, you don't have to come along. I'll get us some."
Distraction. Well, why not. I agreed and didn't brush the subject again.
For almost a day I hid in the library, skimming through all the shelves and their contents until I almost fell into… a swimming pool. Well, okay, I hadn't awaited that to be here, of all places. It was weird and funny and one day I surely would hop in there.
The next day the TARDIS led me to a room that made me almost squeal. It had all the gaming consoles I had ever heard of in it and also lots of which I had never seen. It probably was almost a week before the time ship decided to hide the room. She only gave me a hum that felt like a giggle and a scolding at once, when I begged her to return the damn door.
She alleviated my sulking by guiding me to something that could be a café. It had a counter and small round tables and chairs and displays and everything you would await in a café. Everything but staff. Only a cat was in here, making me wonder if it was real or only a projection. A living animal inside the TARDIS? How did it survive?
A question I would not get an answer to, but the cat jumped on my lap as soon as I had poured myself a cup of coffee and had sat down at one of the tables. It cuddled itself against me and purred happily when I started to stroke the soft, orange fur. I sat there, even long after my cup was emptied, not wanting to disturb the animal. And that although I could really need some more coffee. These days, no amount of it seemed to be able to get me properly awake.
Thoughtfully my hand stroked through the fluffy fur while I pondered about my state. It had started before the mind incident, and it hadn't become significantly worse after it. Gradually, yes, but not in a way that pointed at the mind sharing having anything to do with it. The reason probably was... just everything.
Within some weeks I had died, had met the devil, had fought a dragon. All of this was bound to wear me down. But why then didn't I recover now, where I took a break and did nothing special all day? Quite the opposite seemed to be the case.
Not only that. In moments of true silence, when I drifted away or closed my eyes for long enough, I could still make them out.
I had noticed it only some days after and I wasn't even really hearing them, but more… sensing? Feeling? A memory of a memory.
I went on with exploring for some more days, because it was fun, because it kept my mind busy and my body moving. Each morning and evening I took out the dragon egg and wrote down it's state, took a picture of the glowing pattern with a small camera I had found. But nothing changed.
And gradually I ran out of options to keep my mind from wandering to places it shouldn't wander. Mostly because I wouldn't get any answers. The only one who could provide them was the Master and he...
He was gone.
Not literally. Had he left the TARDIS the Doctor would probably have started panicking immediately. But he didn't show himself for even a second and each time I asked the TARDIS to bring me to him she plainly refused.
Honestly, I had no idea what to even say to him or do, but his absence drove me crazy. Which it shouldn't, considering that he was a jerk and always did his best to be mean to me in any way possible, let alone that he did nothing to hide how less he could stand having me around. This might only be because of my race and there had been enough moments where it seemed as if he did not regret keeping me close. But still... To him I was more of a nuisance, a toy to play with and toss away afterwards.
That - after carefully recalling everything we had been through, so far - was the logical conclusion when analyzing his behaviour. If only it weren't for this nagging feeling in my chest that told me that there was more. Something he did not speak of, something he made a great effort of never showing, things that were hidden and that he desperately wanted to stay that way. Things like pain and exhaustion and maybe even plain loneliness.
And now he had learned that someone beside him could hear his drums.
I remembered his reaction, the look of shock in his wet shimmering eyes. After centuries of suffering he still refused to let a single tear fall, swallowed down every bit of weakness he could hold back, even while visibly breaking under that burden.
My heart ached when I remembered it. No one should ever feel such a pain and then be left on their own. There was no way to cope with that.
Or maybe he avoided me because he feared I would interpret too much into that kiss. This stupid, stupid kiss that should not have happened, but had. It wasn't even important who had started it, because the other person, clearly, had responded. And yes, I knew about the effects of psychic connections, but this only made it worse. Because I had tasted something that was unreachable for a mere human, deeper and richer and so much more powerful than anything my species would ever experience.
I groaned, annoyed about my own thoughts and glared at the egg in my hands, like I did so often. Laying on my bed, on my stomach, hands stretched out, enveloping the smooth, dark scales, my eyes mesmerized by the faint glow. It also wouldn't give me an answer, wouldn't budge or change or do anything at all. Slowly my lids crept close, too heavy, a curtain to relief me of my waking thoughts.
And in the fog of my dreams - no, in the gap between them, the thin slips of realities bending and twisting around one another - I could again make out the soft repeated drumming of four beats. It was in my head, but not inside myself.
When I awoke some hours later, my body felt stiff and heavy, as did my head, clouded by an even greater tiredness than before. There weren't even thoughts and vaguely I recognized this as something good, before I drifted away once again and for who knows how long. Here and there I awoke and slipped back into the darkness, sometimes with the sense of having heard the drumming again. The process repeated until my head felt as if it would simply burst.
Was I ill? Aside from the tiredness and the headache I felt nothing bad. Sitting up actually helped with the pain. It probably was only there to knock me out of the sheets and force me to move a little. Eat something, get hydrated. A shower maybe. Every movement took so much strength, it was as if I could simply fall asleep again on the spot. How I managed to get dressed, cleaned and remembered to pack the egg was a mystery.
But at the end I found myself back in the TARDIS corridors, sauntering through the now familiar hexagonal shapes until I had reached the kitchen. Two coffees helped a little, just enough to feel less knackered. The thought of food, however, made my stomach churn and so I kept away from it.
"I bet that's because of the psychic stuff," I grumbled into the air, when I was in the corridors again. "Can't you bring me to him? I need to kick his butt."
There was hum in the air, but instead of slightly amused it now sounded concerned, alarmed even. I stopped in my tracks, confused. The concern hadn't been directed towards me. And it was urgent, almost panicky.
I still had no idea how exactly this ship communicated, only that I was able to make out a lot more than only tonality from its hums and electric tugs. Right now it more felt as if an invisible entity was trying to grab my hand to urge me in a certain direction. I let the sensation lead me, allowed it to guide me for what felt like an hour. Tiredness fought with curiosity, kept me energized enough to keep a good pace.
It tugged me again, then suddenly panged in my head as if it was screaming stop! Stop, stop, not here, don't go further. Turn around! Run away! Confused I almost stumbled. I hadn't heard actual words, only felt them, sensed them within my very self, but couldn't understand why the TARDIS would bring me here if it actually wanted me to run.
Shaking my head I rounded another corner.
And found the Master.