I placed my glasses on a drawer next to the med bed and tried to simply slip into some well deserved sleep. My body and mind were screaming for it. If the Master would rest too was not of my concern. Should he leave or stay, I didn't care much. But after some minutes had passed, I grudgingly realized that sleep wouldn't come so easily. Too many things still raced through my unresting thoughts.
Especially the things that had happened within the artificial dream. There was too much I just couldn't ignore.
I sighed wearily, sadness coating my voice when I asked "You still hate me, don't you?"
Only after the question did I open my eyes, finding the Master lying next to me on his site, head propped up on his hand. He gave off a laugh and peeked at me. "Seems awfully important what I think about you. Why's that?"
"Do you remember everything from the dream?" I asked instead of an answer. As if he would understand. Not even I myself completely grasped why I wanted him not to hate me.
"Yes. And before you ask, no, when we were there I had no memory of you. You only felt so oddly… real. More than all the other people. I couldn't stand it."
So it had felt the same for him. We had been the only real things within that world of memories and wishes. The only two beings that were able to shape it in any form.
"That why you thought torture was a good idea," I concluded dryly.
"Nooo!" The Master laughed and poked my head. "I would have done that anyway. For your pesky insolence."
I sighed and rubbed with two fingers over my eyes. Why had I even asked? He hated everyone and humans in particular. It shouldn't even be important… at all.
Just let me sleep and rest my weary mind, I thought to myself, closing my eyes again. The med bed wasn't the most comfy thing, but in case anything happened it was the best place to stay for a while. The Doctor probably could be trusted with taking care of us.
I remembered how I had felt towards him by the end of the dream and almost felt a bit sorry. It also made me wonder if he would have acted like this in the real world or if our combined perception of him had created the scenario.
Suddenly feeling fingers on my temples made me wince. A burst of energy coursed through my mind. It was short and sharp, verging on the edges of not yet pain. It toned down immediately, almost shocked, faded to a sensation that was strangely warm and gentle.
Puzzled, I opened my eyes and looked at the Master.
"You're such a lonely creature," he muttered with a smile that could be mocking if it wasn't for the hint of sadness in it. The warm sensation increased slightly. "I don't hate you more than any other human, don't worry."
"Yeah, I won't… not even in case you ever find a weapon to burn us all. Totally not worrying there, nope." I tried to slap his hand away, but failed. "And what do you want in my head again? Stop that."
"Just see if we're awake." He simply ignored the rest of my statements. "In the dream I couldn't look inside, because the dream itself was our minds."
Well, that made sense. I still felt inappropriately pissed. I didn't want him to hate me. I had saved his life. Or at least helped along. And I had been through a small mental hell to get there. Not the first one, at that. His fault. And then he had also just kissed me… again.. Maybe for the right reasons, but still without permission. As if I had ever given that.
A light snicker made me look next to me, my annoyedly squinted eyes meeting his crinkled smile. Only then did his fingers leave my temple.
"My, you're awfully concerned about the smallest things."
Crap! He had heard my thoughts. And if not heard then at least sensed what they were about. My frown got even deeper.
"You were fighting it so hard, that's always a good thing to use as a little shock. Did work, didn't it?"
"That's not the point," I groaned.
"Noooo! You don't just go and kiss people!" I called out. "No one ever told you some manners?" Why did I even ask?
A groan escaped me, sounding a lot more annoyed than I should feel. It hadn't meant anything. Not in the space base, not in the dust field, not just now. I knew it and still was confused. I didn't even want it to mean anything. The thought was simply scary.
"What's bothering you?" the Master asked, curiosity in his eyes, belied by the hint of mockery in his voice. "What's so horrible about a kiss?"
"I really have to teach you everything," I grumbled, not caring that my attitude might enrage him.
"Careful," he muttered, "I know so much more than you will ever be able to learn."
"Yah… so much and you still don't know that this sort of stuff is considered… well, uh… you know. It's sort of intimate."
One of his eyebrows shot up questioningly. "Is it now?"
"Is it not for your people?"
A smile slowly faded onto his lips. The Master skidded closer, too close. His head almost rested against mine.
"It is," he told, connecting our foreheads. His hands reached out to cradle my head. "But for my race it's probably not as… important. We don't share much of this stuff. Ever."
"Sounds sad," I mumbled, staring into his eyes that were close enough to see them clear without glasses. Brown. Not green. And here it wasn't uncomfortable to look into them, even though their look was intense.
"There are other ways to connect," the Master continued, moving just a little closer. "You are aware that a kiss is only a catalyst."
I was aware that his gaze was almost burning, hypnotising without him trying. It was impossible to move or to speak. My heart thudded rapidly in my chest, my breath ghosting over his lips. I should push him away. But I didn't.
"Let me show you a small difference, lil' lumin," he whispered.
And closed the gap.
Our lips melted together, warm, barely moving. It was different. No connection. His mouth moved so carefully against mine as if he wasn't sure not to break me otherwise, coaxed me to respond, only a little… only for a second. And when I did there was a surprised tingle in my head, a bristling urge to dive deeper, a spark within two minds. Then an explosion of shining embers as he pressed his lips firmly against mine and let his mind pour into me. My muscles tensed, breath hitching from the sudden intensity. But that didn't last. I forgot the world around me, forgot I even had a body. I felt him in his entirety, felt me, us. There was no difference for the smallest span time could have and yet it lasted for eternity.
The sensation faded, as sudden as it had started, got replaced by the feeling of retreating lips and left me panting and even a bit shaking, heart fluttering.
I opened my eyes to meet a smug smile, realized my hands were clawed into his shirt. To hold him close? To push him away? None of it and both at once.
"If you worry about intimacy," the Master muttered softly, "you should maybe start in a different place."
Numbly I blinked at him while my body reluctantly calmed down, still yearning for what it had felt and had now lost. The meaning of his words sank in, squeezed itself through the gaps of my defenses. There was no way of hiding from this simple truth. That we shared something and that this thing wasn't anything but simple.
So… " I swallowed, my mouth dry. "That's something we do now?"
The Master smirked and turned on his back, arms behind his head. "Yo calm the drums. Not significantly, but it's better."
"Simple skin contact is enough for that, though," I countered. But then it clicked. "Except if you… you want to use me to find out more about them."
"I can't use you like that." His derisive snort told me how much he hated that fact. "And you're completely untrained, which makes it impossible, even if I could do that."
If he could force me… Had I been less tired I would have burst out into a laugh. Instead I watched him for a bit, trying to comprehend the situation in its entirety. So many variables. So many things I didn't and couldn't know. But there was potential, a possibility. The Doctor would never believe the drums were real, would always deny that I had really heard them. But I knew. My instinct told me it had been real. The Master wouldn't lie about that. Not when it was so important to him.
He still hadn't answered my initial question. Only evaded it, although I started to understand that these things didn't mean the same to him that they did to me. And if I could treat certain kinds of intimacy in a light and casual manner then he was allowed to do the same. At least that was what I could settle on, for the time being. Or maybe I was just lying to myself and it scared the shit out of me to suddenly be so close to a person I barely knew. To a person I still had no idea if he might not kill me on a whim.
I glanced sideways and found the Master with closed eyes and breathing slow and regularly, still in the same position as before. Was he sleeping? Due to the drugs and then the dream he must have been as exhausted as I was, probably even a lot more. I contemplated leaving, since I wasn't sick or anything. The only thing I did there was steal some of his space.
But right as I decided to leave, he shifted a little and then turned to his site, coming frighteningly close to me again. Not that there was much space here, anyway. Especially not for two people.
"Not that I could hear your thoughts," the Master mumbled, "but you feel rather uneasy."
"I… what?" I turned too, minimizing the distance between us even further. It was just too tempting not to feel so alone, to just lie there and feel another person's presence.
"People always emanate what's in their minds." He snickered a little as if that were funny. "Makes it easy to manipulate them, use their own state against them. It's like what you might call an aura, only that you can't see it."
"But it feels," I mumbled. "Some feel like blank sheets of paper, others like gentle drops of rain, some people feel like a burning sun and others like a calm mountain creek."
The Master blinked, then smiled. "Look at that. Not so unskilled, after all."
I snorted. "No, it's only the autism. Guess, since I can't read people like everyone else, I have to rely on different… senses?"
The smile grew to a grin, one that was full of smug sarcasm. "And what do you think those senses are?"
"Uh…" Okay, maybe he had a point. "You mean I'm psychic?"
"A little. Told you, many humans have some dormant abilities. You might be right in that you're able to use yours to compensate for other things, though."
"Mhm… yeah, maybe." I yawned and fought the urge to snuggle up on him. "But I'm too exhausted to think about it."
The Master poked my shoulder, once, twice, a few times more when I didn't react. Eventually he stopped and ruffled my hair.
"Turn away," he muttered.
Tiredly I blinked my eyes open, sadness seeping into my heart. "Yah, sorry. Didn't want to steal your space."
So I turned, facing the dimly lit room. In the process I even skidded away a little, more towards the edge of the mattress, hoping that would suffice. Behind me I heard a chuckle.
And then there was an arm snaking around my middle, swiftly drawing me backwards until I was pressed flush against the Master. In surprise I completely froze, only daring to look behind me when he didn't move for some seconds. Wide eyed I tossed a questioning glance at him, whilst his hand slipped under my shirt to rest on skin. I felt his breath ghosting over my ear, sending goosebumps down my spine.
"You dragged me out of the dream, it's your fault I'm hearing the drums again," he murmured. "So be a good pet and make them a little quieter for me, will you?"
I didn't respond, only turned away again and nestled against him. He was warm and solid and lying like this felt so wrongly secure. A sense of safety I actually hadn't felt in years. Or had I ever? The double rhythm of two hearts steadily thudded against my back, soothing and calm. He didn't hold me too firmly, gave me enough freedom to simply slip away if I wanted to. And when I didn't for a while, there was also the sensation of his mind almost hesitantly intermingling with my own. Only a little, present, however not intrusive.
But it was enough, calmed my raging thoughts and allowed me to relax with a deep, silent sigh. All tension left me, all the bundled up fear and confusion fell from my mind and evaporated into nothing as I finally drifted into a deep slumber.