They’d dressed Sarah in what had to be the worst piece of alien fashion sense she’d ever seen. The gold material of the dress, costume- Sarah wasn’t sure what you’d call it- was just tight enough to make her almost glad it barely covered her. It was like she was in a very bad science fiction movie, except it wasn’t a movie, because when she looked down, the glint from all the gold they’d adorned her with nearly blinded her.
They’d braided her hair too in several tiny braids too. She could feel the blood rush to her cheeks as they chained her back next to the Doctor.
“Did you have fun playing dress-up, Sarah?”
“Shut up.” Sarah closed her eyes, but it didn’t make her feel the heat lingering over her nose any less. She knew he could tell she was blushing. “Why’d they put me in something and not you?”
“Perhaps they couldn’t help themselves.” There was a note of amusement in the Doctor’s voice. “Anyhow, there’s no one to see you but them and me.”
“Isn’t that enough?” She could feel the small shreds of material that were supposed to cover her legs shifting in the slight breeze.
Sarah sat on the large boulder she was chained to, putting her face in her hands. On her fingers were a multitude of gold rings. She could hear her bracelets jangle. “I don’t know whether I should feel flattered or annoyed by their apparent need to decorate me.”
“The more important question is what they are decorating you for.” The Doctor’s statement made Sarah sit up straighter.
“Do you mean they might sacrifice me or something?” She had flashbacks to the old King Kong movies and hoped that this really wasn’t a planet with a huge monster of some kind.
“It’s possible, but that wasn’t quite what I meant.”
“What did you mean then?” She winced into the harsh sunlight, looking for any of the funny camel-like animals these aliens seemed to ride about on. Sarah turned towards the Doctor.
“I’m not quite sure what they’re planning to do with us.” He sighed. “I just hope I can get off this boulder soon. You’d think they’d at least give us a proper dungeon.”
“Is that all you can think about at the moment? Shouldn’t we try to think of a way to get free?”
“As soon as I can find a means of escape, I assure you that we’ll start working on freeing ourselves.” The Doctor gave her a smile. Sarah had the feeling if they had been close enough to touch, he would have patted her hand. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
If she thought the costume had been bad, the headdress was worse. She could swear the feathers went all the way down her back.
The Doctor looked like he was holding back a chuckle. She glared at him as the priestess of the alien race finished painting her with swirls of black lines. The priestess dropped Sarah’s hand and seemed to step back to admire her handiwork.
It covered every inch of skin that the costume didn’t cover, which- Sarah thought to herself again- was most of her body. Whatever paint they’d used to draw the lines made her feel overheated in the already desert-like climate of the planet.
“Just tell me I don’t look completely ridiculous,” she begged as she sat on the ground, back against her boulder.
“It’s better than the green dress you wore to the planet.”
Sarah snorted and narrowed her eyes as she gave him a sideways glance. “Just continue poking fun at my situation, Doctor. I hope they put you in a clown costume.”
He snorted himself. “I’d never wear that many colors. Besides, what would be the purpose of a clown costume?”
Sarah closed her eyes, felt the sun beating down, red against the back of her eyelids. “I don’t know the purpose of any of this really.”
It was a few hours before two women came, riding their camel creatures in a side-saddle fashion, hands delicately gripping the reins. Sarah thought to herself again what a bad science fiction movie she’d found herself in the middle of.
They dismounted together, skirts rustling with the movement. One of them had a jug at her hip, and she untied what looked like two cups from her belt before uncorking the jug and filling them with a white liquid.
It reminded Sarah of coconut juice. She was about ready to drink anything at the moment. Between the heat, the costume, and the paint, she felt about ready to pass out.
Sure enough, the cup was handed to her, and she only took a moment to look at the milky contents inside it before she took a swallow. It was very sharply sweet, almost like drinking melted sugar.
After she finished, she noticed there was a salty aftertaste in her mouth. The Doctor was still staring at his cup, but he finally took a small drink before handing the rest back. “No thank you.”
The woman pushed it back in his hands. “You must drink it.”
“And if I refuse?” the Doctor asked.
The two women looked at each other before one looked towards the largest of the planet’s three suns. “You can’t refuse,” one of them finally answered.
“Well I do refuse.” The Doctor crossed his arms. Sarah stared at her empty cup curiously.
The two priestesses whispered to each other before finally setting the Doctor’s cup on the boulder. “We’ll leave you here until you drink it,” one said before she lifted herself back onto her camel creature.
The other followed suit. Sarah watched them ride off before the Doctor’s sigh distracted her. “Did it at least taste alright?”
It was almost night before two men appeared, spears in hand, along with a priestess Sarah recognized from earlier. There were about seven moons in the sky, which meant that even as the last of the suns set, the landscape was fairly well lit.
Even so, the two men started building a large fire a few meters from where Sarah and the Doctor were chained.
Sarah managed a glance at the Doctor who was watching the scene soberly. She’d seen him finally drink whatever the liquid had been earlier. She knew it was partly because if she were left here too long, she’d dehydrate. It occurred to her for the first time that she wasn’t sure if he himself would have.
Sarah turned back to watching the fire being set up. The priestess was still waiting atop her camel creature, gold earrings dangling swaying in the wind. There were so many gold bracelets on her arms, Sarah noticed the bands of skin that showed through more than the gold itself. She had to wonder if this planet had some fascination with the metal.
Her own jewelry was still weighing heavily on her, but she’d almost gotten used to the extra weight. It was easier to get used to than the heat, in any case. She was glad the temperature had fallen drastically with the setting of the first sun.
The Doctor hadn’t seemed to notice the heat. She leaned over as far as she could before she whispered, “What do you think they are doing?”
“Setting a fire, I would assume.”
“Well yes, I know that.” Sarah gave him an exasperated look. “But what are they setting a fire for?”
“The planet does seem to function like a desert. Perhaps we’ll need the warmth,” he suggested.
“How considerate.” Sarah sat back against the rock. “We still don’t know what they’re doing with us.”
“If we stay here long enough, I’m sure we’ll find out.” The Doctor looked up at the seven moons in the sky, appearing to measure something. Sarah wondered if he could tell the time by them. It was possible, she supposed.
The priestess dismounted her camel, and she didn’t bother to turn to look at the fire as she filled another two cups for them. Sarah was relieved to find water inside of her cup- a clear, cold water at that- and she sipped at it carefully, parched after an afternoon in the sun.
The men had finished building the fire, which seemed to stretch several meters into the sky. They turned to the priestess, who gave them a curt nod. As they remounted, the priestess turned and unlocked the chains that bound Sarah to her boulder.
Sarah rubbed at her ankles as she watched the priestess unlock but one of the Doctor’s chains. Her working being finished, the priestess stood back up and returned to her camel, and Sarah gave the Doctor a questioning look.
The small party rode off into the night, leaving Sarah to walk over to the Doctor freely. She put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright?”
“Quite. Though I’d prefer they’d given me the same level of freedom as you,” he sat on the sand.
Sarah smirked. “Well you don’t have a costume.”
The Doctor watched her for a moment as he looked up, and she could see the lines of his face traced in the firelight. “Indeed.”
“So why did they let me go? Because they didn’t think I’d try to escape without you? Why just let me wander around at night then?” Sarah sat herself next to him on the sand, and she could feel the places where their sides lightly touched.
“More likely it is because the temperature’s going to drop quite rapidly tonight.” The Doctor looked at the sky again. “I think the planet has a pretty thin atmosphere, so the parts that aren’t receiving sunlight cool off rather quickly.”
Sarah thought about it. “Like Mercury? I think I read something about that once.”
“Yes, like that.” He patted her thigh fondly. The feathers of her headdress rustled in a cool breeze that blew through, and the chill made the hairs on Sarah’s arm stand up.
“Do you think the fire will be enough then?” She watched the flames leap into the deep blue darkness of the night sky. It struck her how few stars there were on the horizon.
“I’d imagine it would.” Sarah shivered all the same, her arms bare except for the gold bracelets. The Doctor put his arm around her, and she leaned into his shoulder. She noticed he wasn’t as warm as a normal person should be, but he still helped to ward off the cold of the night air.
She felt herself drifting off as she watched the hypnotizing leaps of flame.
In her dream, Sarah could feel the cool river water over her skin, refreshing compared to the stifling heat of the air. She dipped her arms in the water, not guiding her actions so much as watching her body carry itself through the motions.
Some part of her knew it was a dream by the muted colors of the landscape, the almost too bright afternoon rays that slanted down from the three suns in the sky. And the skin was too dark to be her own, the fingers too long.
The river was running too fast for her too see a face. She could feel the slight tug of the undercurrent on her legs.
There was a rustling in the nearby reeds, and she turned quickly only to see them settling back into their normal calm demeanor. Her arms settled around her bare chest under the water as she kept an eye on the reeds.
Two arms suddenly grabbed her from behind, lifting her partially out of the river and into the air, drops of water glinting as they arced back towards the water. There was hearty laughing in her ear, and a tangle of cheerful words in an alien language.
Sarah, still caught in the dream, found herself muttering something back, foreign syllables that felt familiar as they rolled off of her tongue. His breath was a warm puff against her cheek as he pulled her closer to him.
Her head leaned back, and he took advantage of the access it gave him to her mouth. His hands moved from her hips up to the swell of her breast, just big enough to fill his palms. His tongue was insistent as it ran across her lower lip, asking for entrance.
She gave it to him. Sarah herself had no choice but to follow the experience, which was almost like reliving someone else’s memories. But she could feel the tongue running over hers, the rough thumb that ran over her nipple as she leaned back into him.
He turned her around quickly enough to make her gasp, pulling her leg over his hip. There was a warm need pooling between her legs, and the man wasted no time in burying himself in it, his eyes fluttering shut as he made his first few thrusts into her.
She could hear herself moan, a guttural sound with an accent she didn’t recognize, a sun-roughened sound that seemed to fit amongst the barren desert. Sarah could still see between the slits of her eyes the tan of her skin, the deeper tan of his, the muted colors of the landscape behind them.
It was half buried in the overwhelming want that drove itself through her like a mantra, beat on her like the harsh sunlight. She clung to his shoulders, long nails digging in enough that when her fingers had to relax she could see the four red half-moons on his skin.
The water moved around them, a cold chill to it like a nighttime wind. If she looked to the shore she could see a fire in the distance. It was wrong.
Opening her eyes felt like breaking through the surface of the water, and she took deep breathes to try to orient herself, to clear away the deep arousal that still thrummed through her veins.
A dream, but it still clouded her thoughts so that she had to blink hard to focus on the night sky above her head. A dream. She was half sprawled across the Doctor’s chest, and as the wind licked at her hair, rustled his clothing, she felt something stir inside of her.
Before it was even a thought, she had a leg over his form, and she leaned down, palms light on his chest, as she put her mouth on his.
That was supposed to be all it was, but her heart was still pounding, a steady beating mantra that told her more, just a little more, she needed more, so she leaned down again.
Her thighs tightened around his legs as she ran her tongue over his mouth. He tasted different than she’d ever imagined, every bit as foreign as the desert they were surrounded by.
Sarah gasped as his fingers closed around her wrist, and she tried to sit back up, but he held her down. The Doctor didn’t open her eyes, and Sarah watched him, trying to fight down the panic and the lingering want that had twisted together in her stomach.
He held her there, the cold wind occasionally blowing across them. Sarah gradually became aware of every place they touched, the pressure of his fingers on her wrist, the movement below her that was his breathing, the press of her thighs against his side. She closed her eyes to block these things out, but it only made her more conscious of them.
“Please.” Her mouth felt dry, and she swallowed, licked her lips. “Say something. Do something. Just, please.” Her mind was still filled with images of being taken in a river- the rough, desperate rhythm of it. Behind that need was something new, something Sarah felt as a part of herself. Something her own.
Finally the fingers on her wrist moved up her arm. They disappeared to touch lightly on her shoulder, then to rest on her face. “Sarah.” Just one word, leading nowhere, but it tore a sob from her.
She pulled the hand off and leaned down one last time, pressing her mouth against his like she was trying to pull a kiss out of him.
Sarah shifted against him as she tried to get closer, trying to take all she could while she could. Her hands curled around his jacket as he finally responded, hand sliding up her back, tongue sliding between her parted lips.
They kissed until it was hard for Sarah to breathe, but she refused to stop. Her whole body ached as he ran his other hand up her thigh, fingers running lightly over the skin there. Sarah sighed into his mouth, pushed at his wrist. As the Doctor pushed her skirt away from her legs, she could see the dark swirls decorating her skin.
His fingers traced the designs, almost absently, with one hand while he slipped the make-shift knickers they’d given her down her legs. All of his motions were smooth, purposeful, and watching him in the glow of the firelight, Sarah could almost imagine she was still going to wake up at any moment.
His index finger followed a swirl up the inside of her thigh, continued on with the imaginary pattern, his hand sneaking between them. Her breathing was shallow in her ears as he slipped his finger between her legs, moving it easily through the damp there.
Sarah pulled herself up to a sitting position, hips moving forward as he slid his finger out, then deeper. She pushed herself against his palm, eyes shut tightly, her body urging her harder. Faster.
Her hand felt along the ruffles of his shirt to where his jacket gave way to his trousers. Her fingers fumbled with them, their task interrupted by the stilted rhythm of her body. She finally managed to get them open, and her hand slid over his erection.
The Doctor pushed her off and stumbled to his feet. Sarah followed him quickly to her feet, thigh circling his, and he drove her against the boulder with enough force to knock the wind out of her. He pulled her thigh tighter around him in one quick, hard motion. She cried out as he pushed into her, but she wasn’t sure whether it was from pain or desire or something else.
The feathers of her headdress were the only thing protecting her from the stone surface of the boulder as she felt herself hit it. The pain and the tight need blurred together until Sarah only knew the feel of the Doctor between her thighs, the firelight burning onto the swirls on her arms as she tried to hold onto his shoulders.
There was the sound of her bracelets jangling and the cold chill of the wind against her skin. It struck her suddenly that only part of what she was feeling actually belonged to her, that half of her might be someone else dreaming. Her voice sounded strange to her ears as she whispered, “You weren’t supposed to see me.”
The Doctor covered her mouth with his hand as he shoved into her one last time. As he stilled against her, Sarah felt her own need die down. The world was becoming black at the edges.
He had his eyes closed tight, his mouth pressed just against her forehead, and as she closed her eyes, she could swear she heard him whisper her name.
Sarah could feel the bounds around her wrist before she woke up. She ran her tongue over her cracked lips, pried her eyes open to see two men clearing the ashes where the fire had stood.
She shifted onto her side and felt pain echo along several places in her back. It took a moment for the memories of the night to reform themselves in her mind. Her mouth tasted like chalk, and the blanked faraway feel of her thoughts convinced her that this was some type of hangover. That they’d drugged her with something.
She wasn’t sure if that made her feel much better. Nausea swirled over her, and she heaved a couple of times over the sand. Pulling herself into a sitting position, she delicately rested back against the boulder, ignoring the protesting of her body when she moved at all.
She watched the men clearing for the fire until they were nearly done, and only then did she turn her head to look at the Doctor.
He was on his back, on the sand, watching the sky, hands rested over his stomach. Sarah knew he could see her, if he wanted, out of the corner of his eye, and she wondered if he ever did.
She didn’t think so, and it made her want to force her eyes away, but her vision lingered on him. Sarah soaked in the details, the ruffles at the end of his sleeves, the exact darkness of his shadow.
The images from the previous night that flickered through her head felt surrealistic. In the sun, Sarah felt she was just Sarah, and he was just the Doctor, and things like that couldn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t happen. Releasing all of the air from her lungs, she titled her head back and wondered if he was reading anything from the sky.
There were oddly more stars visible in the daytime than at night, and Sarah squinted to make them out. They didn’t seem to tell her anything special. The intense heat of the morning was washing over her face as she looked up, and Sarah gave up and turned her eyes back to where the men had disappeared, and the fire was gone like it had never been there.
She drank the liquid again because by the time they offered it to her, Sarah might have considered trying to drink the sand. There was something obvious to what they were saying. Do what we want or dehydrate. It was her choice, and Sarah, with a careful sideways glance at the Doctor, lifted her cup to her lips and drained it in a few seconds.
They hadn’t said a word to each other. The silence had started to sink into the place like the heat or the endless barren repetition of the landscape. She’d started weaving herself stories of mirages, wondering if she’d go crazy, if she’d see things on her own, drugs or no drugs.
Except such visions probably didn’t involve her on top of the Doctor, her thighs pressed against his side. Sarah drew an absent pattern in the sand with her finger and watched the wind erase it slowly, lines turning into indentions that turned back into smooth patches.
In the middle of the afternoon, she found herself on her back, body still sore as she stretched it out. Her mind played her back memories of a cool river, and she felt the water as if it were there. Sarah hummed to herself, a lilting melody that vibrated in the back of her throat.
When she opened her eyes, it was the first time all day the Doctor was looking directly at her. Sarah turned away.
When the first sun started dipping towards the ground, the priestess came again with the same two men who had built and dissembled the fire. The men once again dismounted their camels, bare tan backs gleaming in the sun as they started digging with two tools reminiscent of shovels.
The priestess watched them, expressionless, until they’d dug a hole deep enough their shoulders were aligned with the top. She swung herself off her mount, robes flurrying in the wind.
Again, she poured a cup of water, but instead of offering it to Sarah, she titled Sarah’s head back and poured it over her forehead. Sarah felt the cool of it run over her eyes and down her cheeks before it started to already dry in the sun.
The priestess did it again with another cup full of water, and Sarah felt it make its way along her chin, then down her throat. She felt the press of very soft lips against her forehead before one last cup of water was pressed to her mouth. She drank from it, relishing the coldness of it. For a brief second, it occurred to her that it was illogically cold. So cold it almost hurt-
Sarah opened her eyes to find the nightscape stretching in front of her, the priestess gone, a small pool of water filling the hole the two men had been digging. She pushed quickly to her feet, noticing the lack of bounds around her wrists and ankles. With a quick turn, she assessed the landscape, but it seemed normal despite the fact that it was dark now where it had been light before.
The seven moons stretched above her in the sky, and she noticed her fingers, darker than they should be. Sarah turned her wrist and noticed the swirls still marked her skin.
Someone called out in a whisper to her, words unlike any language Sarah knew, and she twirled around to see the strange man from the dream she’d have step out from behind the large boulder he’d been hiding behind.
She meant to ask him where the Doctor was, but the words came out sounding like gibberish. The man laughed, his laugh still quiet, like he was afraid of being heard, as he took her face in his hands and leaned his forehead against hers.
Sarah could see the love in his eyes, but she didn’t understand it, unless this was a dream again. Except when she wanted to sigh, she sighed.
He sighed with her, mouth pressing against her forehead. She could feel his fingers delicately trace her arms before resting lightly against her waist.
Sarah didn’t know why, but she couldn’t bring herself to move as he slowly undressed her, taking off each garment to lay it out carefully on the sand. His hand roved the newly exposed area, fingers reverent as they traced her skin. She shuddered as he moved the back of his hand slowly across her chest.
After she was standing completely naked in the cold night air, he led her carefully into the pool behind her. The water was surprisingly warm, and she could feel a tickle under her feet as if the water were bubbling up at the bottom.
He rested his hands carefully on her shoulders, and Sarah absently noticed she was standing in the half circle the seven moons formed in the water before he started to push hard on her shoulders.
She was thrust down into the water, arms flailing. Despite her frantic movements, she could see everything outside of the pool clearly. It was clearer, in fact, than it had been outside of the water, and somewhere in the midst of her racing thoughts, Sarah noticed she couldn’t see the man holding her down, just his submerged wrists, the hands holding her down.
She pulled frantically at his wrist, feeling her lungs burning. Her feet could touch the bottom, and Sarah was painfully aware of how close air was, just a few inches from the top of her head. She looked up at the night sky, and she could see thousands and thousands of stars, littering themselves in clumps in the dark blue, like someone had tried to spray paint the sky and the can hadn’t worked.
Everything was burning. Sarah hurt and hurt, and she kept hoping- ashamed, in pain, not quite thinking- that she wanted to just die now, that she couldn’t live through this anymore. She’d never wanted to drown to death, had never thought much about it.
Her body tried to pull in air, and she felt the water rush into her mouth. She tried to choke on it, but it only made her swallow more.
“Sarah.” Her name was like a whisper in the back of her mind. Sarah recognized the Doctor’s voice, and it calmed down the muscles in her body, and she stopped flailing. “Sarah, I’m right here. Do you feel my hand on your arm?”
“No,” she tried thinking very hard. She could still see the water around her, and her vision was starting to darken around her, but she felt so much calmer now with his voice in her head.
Sarah didn’t want to think about it. If she was going to die, she wanted that one small comfort. She closed her eyes. If she concentrated, she could almost feel his mouth against hers, the ghost of a memory she shouldn’t have.
The sensation fleshed itself out though as she tried to concentrate on it, and she could feel fingers curled around her arm. Sarah pulled her eyes open to see the night around her, water gone, and the Doctor pulling away from her. She gasped in air, even though she didn’t need it, kept taking in air until the Doctor shook her. “Sarah, stop.”
She tried, but there was still that desperate fear she was never going to have air again. Sarah could feel tears stinging her eyes as the Doctor gathered her into his arms, and she sobbed, even though she was ashamed of that. Her fingers clung at his jacket, pulling at the material.
There was that fierce memory of the water around her, and if she closed her eyes it was still there.
His hand stroked her hair gently, and Sarah rested her cheek against his chest, fighting to steady her breathing. She could feel her heart thumping erratically in her chest, but eventually that steadied too.
Sarah pulled herself away from the Doctor, let her finger trace over his lower lip. “Let me forget this,” her voice was so quiet, and she had to fight to get her throat open enough to say it. Sarah felt lost, as if she closed her eyes she’d still be drowning beneath the pool in her dreams. Warm tears rolled down her cheek, and she wiped them away angrily with the back of her hand.
Sarah turned her head away because she couldn’t quite break herself from memory of water filling her throat, the burning of her lungs-
She jumped when the Doctor started unlacing the front of her outfit, and neither of them spoke, though they kept each other’s eyes. Sarah shifted onto her knees, slow enough not to disturb what he was doing, watching his fingers travel down her chest.
It made the world shift into focus, and it was suddenly very real, the sand scratching against her legs, the ease with which air was entering and leaving her lungs, making her chest feel cool.
The Doctor slid the material over her shoulders, and he pressed his mouth to her shoulder. “You’re cold.”
It hit her that she was. More than cold. Sarah shivered. “I hadn’t noticed.”
He finished pulling off her clothes, leaving them in heaps on the sand. “I’m going to lead you into the water-” Sarah could feel her heart leap in her chest. She shook her head. “But you’re going to have to do it.” He pressed his forehead to hers, and she followed him as he led her to the pool, nearly identical to the other.
“I can’t.” Her voice wavered, cracked. The memories flooded back over her until she nearly couldn’t see the Doctor standing in front of her.
“It wasn’t you, Sarah.” His fingers gripped her shoulders tightly, and she tried to pull away from them. Sarah struggled in the Doctor’s grip until he had to let her go, and she fell backwards into the sand.
The Doctor moved down after her, weight pinning her down into the sand. “It wasn’t you, Sarah,” he repeated. She blinked and shook her head even though she didn’t disagree.
“It felt like me,” she whispered, her throat trying to close in on her. The Doctor took off his jacket and lifted her to pull it around her shoulders. She let him without saying anything else.
He lowered his mouth back down to her shoulder. “It’s going to be alright,” his breath was warm against her shoulder, and Sarah realized how quickly the temperature was dropping. She breathed out and watched her breath form in the air.
Sarah worked at the buttons to his shirt, closing her eyes ever so often and just imprinting the feel of them against her fingers. After they finished with his shirt, she let her fingers continue down to his trousers.
When she looked up, the Doctor was just watching her, something unreadable in her expression, fathomless. It reminded Sarah of the empty night sky, and she swallowed that impression as she finished with his trousers, let her hands drop back down.
The Doctor pulled off his shirt, laid it to the side, before doing the same with the rest of his clothing. They lay naked together for a moment, just watching each other. Sarah finally wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and they got up together. She buried her face in his shoulder. Her voice was faint as she whispered into it, “Just take me.”
He led her, an arm around her waist, and Sarah closed her eyes tighter as she felt the first touch of warm water at her feet. She took a deep breath as they continued down the incline on one side of the pool.
The water did heat her skin, fighting off the cold better than the Doctor could. Sarah kept her eyes squeezed shut, her face still buried in the skin of the Doctor’s shoulder. It took her a second to realize he was whispering something in her ear, but she couldn’t make it out, even when she tried.
When they were both finally up to their shoulders in water, she let her eyes open. “It feels kind of nice,” she ventured, her voice only wavering slightly.
His hand traced her cheek, thumb making an arc over her cheekbone. Sarah pulled his hand to her mouth, kissed his palm. She pressed herself closer to him as she sucked his index finger into her mouth. In the back of her mind, she could still hear the flood of thoughts, frantic fears about the water, but she pushed them away as she slid her tongue along the bottom of his finger, pulling her mouth away to do it again.
The Doctor closed his eyes, and she could feel his reaction against her leg. Sarah pulled her thigh around his waist and slid herself onto him, his finger still in her mouth. She let it slide out and tightened her arms around his neck as she moved against him.
His hands latched onto her waist as his hips bucked against hers. It was their own disjointed rhythm, but Sarah felt it flood her whole system, until she was sure her breath was leaving with each thrust, being pulled in with each parting. The water rushed around her like a current, swirling with each movement, and Sarah felt like a part of that too.
If she closed her eyes, she could see herself underwater. Sarah forced her eyes back open, concentrated hard on the sky above her. There weren’t any stars, any stars at all.
Sarah felt her muscles tighten around him as she tried to speed up the rhythm to something more like what she wanted, but she was distracted by the unending blue of the sky.
She closed her eyes, and Sarah felt herself drowning, her lungs burning for want of air. The water was rushing down her throat, and Sarah could swear her heart was slowing down before black flooded her world.
Her head pounded, and Sarah ran her hand over it, her eyes staying closed even as she tried to push herself up against her palms.
Her fingers curled around the sand, grains of it sliding through her fingers, sticking to her skin. Her arms felt weak, and it was a strain for her muscles to even lift her shoulders off the ground.
Sarah could hear the Doctor’s voice, an angry buzz in the background, and he seemed to be arguing with someone or something, and she forced her eyes open to see him standing a few feet away, waving a hand at the priestess, who watched him stoically.
It occurred to Sarah that while she’d seen the Doctor frustrated, annoyed, and bothered, she didn’t remember him ever seeming furious like he looked now. Even with the distance, his expression sent tiny shivers down her spine.
Sarah brushed her hair back and noticed her wrists were still free. She brought a foot out from under her and saw her bare ankle staring back at her. There weren’t even bracelets on her arms. Sarah peered down hopefully, but the glare of the gold outfit still half blinded her, and she held a hand over it while she sighed.
Now that she thought about it, she could feel the extra weight of the jewelry missing from around her neck, and she hadn’t realized how used to it she had gotten. Sarah felt too light, like gravity wasn’t pushing down hard enough on her.
Thirst pulled at the back of her throat, but the thought of water made her gag. Trying to concentrate on the Doctor’s words made the quiet thrumming in her head amplify into a steady throbbing. Sarah lay back in the sand.
She hadn’t realized she’d drifted off until the Doctor was shaking her shoulder. “Sarah,” he whispered.
It carried with it a string of memories. Sarah wondered, half-awake, if they would be part of her name now, permeating it, until she’d write her name and have all of its new associations tickle at the back of her thoughts.
There was the sound of the sand shifting beside her before she felt his hand rub her shoulder. The steady rotating pressure was comforting. Sarah kept her eyes closed, but she mumbled, “I’m awake.”
“They’re going to take you for a few hours.”
Sarah bolted upright. “Where to? You’re not just going to let them. Doctor, I-” She didn’t know what she could say though. What was there to say? These people had drugged her, but did she want them to try to make it from who knows where to the TARDIS that was also who knows where, walking across a desert without water?
He wouldn’t let her go if there was a choice. She held onto his arm with one hand and stared across the landscape. Everything under the planet’s three suns felt so real, but the rest of the past few days blurred together, and Sarah wanted to ask him if it had actually happened. Except she felt the silence pressing down on them, and she didn’t think she could. Or she didn’t think she had the right to. So she took a deep breath. “When?”
“Soon” was all he said. The Doctor took her hand off his arm carefully, rising back to his feet. His shadow fell over her, and Sarah used it to watch him until he took a few steps towards the smallest sun, hand over his face, and Sarah had to turn her eyes away from the intense glare of light that replaced him.
They made her mount one of the camel creatures. At first the priestess tried to keep Sarah’s legs on one side of the camel, but eventually she let Sarah ride like the male who had accompanied the priestess out into the desert.
When they left, the male stayed behind with the Doctor, and Sarah watched the two figures getting smaller and smaller in the distance.
The sun that had seemed overbearing on the ground seemed even worse up on the camel. Its gait seemed to remind her of every sore spot she had on her, and Sarah tried to look for bruises. It seemed like they’d be confirmations of something. What exactly, she didn’t know. They wouldn’t be proof of anything more than she’d hit herself on something.
Maybe that she was real, or that she could bruise. Sarah had never felt so unsure of either thing as she did now, watching the straight back of the alien priestess ahead of her, the slight iridescent tone of the woman’s robe as the light fractured off of the white material. Her skin was a dark tan contrast to her clothing.
They eventually reached a river. Sarah closed her eyes as she saw it, her stomach turning over. Eventually she forced her eyes opened and noticed something familiar about the reeds that surrounded the banks, the particular wideness of the water.
The priestess waited for her camel to catch up and offered her a cup of water. Sarah took it, reluctant, but a day’s travel was enough to make her drink it rather she wanted to or not. The water settled uneasily in her stomach, and she handed the cup back and tried to keep it down.
They crossed the river, which was just shallow enough for the camel creatures to wade across without much trouble. The priestess was muttering low, comforting words to her mount, and Sarah kept her eyes shut and listened to the hum of her voice too.
Her fingers tightened around the reins in her hands as the river started licking at her feet. Sarah could hear the sloshing of water, the splashing as the animals made their way into it. Soon her legs were mostly submerged.
She took deep and shallow breaths, trying to recollect the countless times she’d been in the ocean as a girl. The water had been fine then. It was fine now, she told herself.
The crossing was still a long nightmare, and Sarah didn’t feel she could actually breathe until she was on the other side. She took a look back, a sense of déjà vu cascading through her.
The whole building looked like it was made out of marble, and Sarah wondered absently if they had marble on other planets. She supposed they would.
Inside of it was cool, though, and dry without being arid in the way that the outside environment was. The priestess was lighting what looked like incense in the middle of the near empty room. There was something that looked like an altar on the right, different belongings scattered on it, but Sarah imagined it could just have been a table where she stored her things.
The smell that filled the room was the same sharp sweet of the drink she’d been given. Without meaning to, Sarah felt her shoulders relax, and she noticed the priestess’s arms were bare for the first time since she’d seen her.
The priestess sat them both on the floor, placing a large gold basin of water between them. After a moment, she took Sarah’s wrist, grip light as she guided Sarah’s fingers to the water. As she touched the bowl, colors spread out from the point where her finger intercepted the water.
Sarah let the priestess guide her whole hand until it was resting just lightly over the surface of the water before she did the same with her own hand. The colors eventually spread out from both of them, intermixing in the bowl until Sarah could swear she could see whole pictures beneath their palms.
She looked up enough to notice the priestess wasn’t watching the bowl. Her eyes were on the wall, where the colors were reflected, playing out different fuzzy images. Sarah could just barely recognize people, but the actions, the actions were so familiar she felt the breath leave her lungs.
Her head spun, and she tried to blink to clear steady her vision, but the vertigo stayed with her. Sarah could hear the bowl skidding against the marble as she fell, and the ground was cool against her cheek.
The circular room was lit by candles, and the walls were dark. Sarah noticed a trail of water across the floor.
She sat up and was greeted by the sight of her own face bathed in the soft candlelight. “Now I know this is a dream,” she said, and her voice sounded strange in the room. It echoed to the ceiling before it died suddenly.
The other Sarah laughed. “I was about to say the same thing.” The other Sarah was in the green dress she’d worn when she came to the planet, and Sarah looked it over.
“It’s not an ugly dress.”
“You found it in the TARDIS, so it’s not like he can say much about it.” The other Sarah got to her knees, slid closer, disrupting the rivulets of water between them before they darkened the green material. “Well, you know this isn’t real, because obviously you aren’t talking to yourself.”
“Obviously.” Sarah was all too aware of the way her face was just inches from her, and it made her feel displaced.
“Alright then.” When she felt her mouth press against her cheeks, her lips felt as cracked as she imagined they would have. Her thumb was soft as she felt it glide across her mouth, before the lips against her cheek touched on her own.
The other Sarah pulled her forward, mouth demanding as it took hers. She bit at her bottom lip, and she lapped at her tongue, and it was so consuming she forgot which belonged to hers or if they didn’t both belong to her.
Because her fingers were tugging at gold material, pulling zippers down green dresses. She knew the sensation of skimming her fingers up a thigh and having fingers skimmed over hers, of sighing into a mouth and breathing it back into herself.
Her soundless demands were followed instantly, and her hands followed some invisible guide themselves, slipping with ease over skin, effortlessly evoking moans that Sarah echoed before the room reverberated them back.
She was on her back, and she was on top of herself, but the two blurred together. Her green dress was bunched around her waist, and her mouth slipped down her stomach, and Sarah could taste the salt of her own skin in her mouth.
Her fingers slipped into her hair as her tongue moved lower, down through the dampness between her legs, where she could taste the sharply sweet aftertaste of herself, like the smell that still lingered in the air.
Her hips arched as she sucked on herself, using just the barest grazes of teeth afterwards. Sarah was neither too fast nor too slow, was so on target that it made her ache with it.
She rose off the floor again as fingers joined her tongue, and she could feel the sticky wet covering the fingers at her side. The double exposure of the experience seemed to enhance every sensation, every reaction rather than distracting her. It was as if she existed in two places at once, the two consciousness tied by the connection, where her finger slipped in and out of herself, where she was connected by the hand between her legs that was just like the one she could hold in front of her face.
She was Sarah, gold costume, head pressed tight against the cold marble, legs spread, but she was Sarah, green dress, between those legs, and the dichotomy didn’t matter. There was a feeling of wholeness that warmed over her skin.
Pleasure swamped her body, buzzed through her brain. When she opened her eyes, she noticed she could see images playing over the walls.
“What are those?” she asked herself.
“It’s what they want,” she replied. The hand on her hair tightened. “Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to do anything.”
Sarah was vaguely aware her voice had changed, and she noticed the tan skin above her. She jerked away. Her body felt wound up, and she had to gasp out. “Who are you people?”
But the arm was familiar enough. Sarah had seen it under seven moons. She thought she knew the answer.
Sarah woke up in a boat in the middle of the river, and lifted herself up to see that she was tied to the shore. Her body felt like it had been thrown repeatedly against something hard. She winced as she turned to look around.
The Doctor was watching her from the other banks. “Did you have a good nap?”
“No,” she shouted back. Sarah started to crawl out of the boat, but the Doctor held a hand up.
“Don’t. That’s the best way to get back to the TARDIS.” He waded into the river, and Sarah watched him make his way over.
“So we are? Going home?” Sarah asked. “They let us go?” She’d been expecting to wake back up in the temple. Something told her it had been awhile since she’d been there.
The Doctor regarded her for a second. “Of course they let us go.”
Sarah’s mouth fell open. “How could you be that sure about it?” She wanted to shout, “How could you be that casual about it?”, but she waited for his response instead.
The Doctor didn’t look at her as he started untying the boat. “You act like something important happened, when all you did was sleep for a few days before they decided to help me drag you to the river. They were very nice about it.”
“But-” Sarah studied him carefully. “Doctor, how…?” Tears pricked at her eyes, and she brushed them away angrily. “You’re telling me I slept for three days straight?”
“Seven days,” the Doctor corrected. Sarah looked down and noticed her green dress covering her legs, dark in the places where it had soaked up water from the bottom of the boat.
Sarah was stepping into the TARDIS when she noticed the bruise on her arm. She was quiet as the Doctor shut the door. “You’d tell me?” she asked quietly. “If something really happened.”
“Of course,” but he’d busied himself messing with the console, and she noticed he didn’t even bother to glance up at her.
Sarah pushed up her sleeve, and she could see the finger shaped bruises there. “I’m missing whole chunks of my life,” she said, more to herself than anyone. “Even if everything that I think happened did happen, I’m still missing whole chunks of my life.”
Before the Doctor could say anything, she continued. “I mean, you haven’t even asked me what I think happened.”
“Does it matter, Sarah?” She heard the plea in his voice, just obvious enough for her to find it, hidden enough for him to deny it later.
“It does, because I can’t even tell if this is real.” Sarah touched her arm, and she could feel the slight pain that accompanied the press of her fingers. The sensation was just as strong as everything she remembered, even when she had known she wasn’t in her own body.
Sarah unzipped her dress just enough she could slide off both sleeves, and there were marks on both of her arms. The Doctor sighed, but then she could feel herself wrapped tightly in his arms.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered in her hair, and Sarah closed her eyes.
“Just tell me what really happened?” she asked.
“No,” his voice was firm but gentle. His hands touched her face as he repeated. “No.”
Sarah kissed him, a gentle press of her mouth to his. He returned it, holding her shoulders carefully, and Sarah sneaked her arms around his neck.
She found herself against the wall of the TARDIS, the Doctor slipping her dress to the floor. His mouth was still on hers, just as sure as before, and Sarah took in how alien the Doctor was, how alien the TARDIS was, but it felt familiar. It felt almost like a part of her.
Their movements were simple. It seemed like a heartbeat between the Doctor’s mouth on her throat, the sound of his trousers slipping down. She slipped one leg around him, glad to have this just be about this- whatever this was. Sarah knew she couldn’t think about it.
She knew. The Doctor’s hands over the curve of her breast, the slow, steady thrusts were all apologies for something, were trying to paint over days that Sarah knew she’d spend a lifetime trying to forget.
She came with her cheek resting against the velvet material of his jacket, and she didn’t know whether or not he could hear her, but she whispered in the lowest voice she could find, “Thank you.”
He held her more tightly before he let her go.