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[personal profile] purple_bug
Title: Places of Safety
Rating: PG-15?
Warnings: None
Words: ~2100
Characters/Pairings: Peri/Erimem, Fifth Doctor
Summary: Erimem finds the most joy inside the TARDIS.
A/N: Written for [livejournal.com profile] wishfulaces for the Seventh Annual Femslash Ficathon at [livejournal.com profile] dw_femslash, for the prompt: "secret spaces / "Touch is the revolution" (Anne Sexton) / bedrooms / timestream crossing (ANY of the above!)". Didn't quite manage to fit timestreams in there, though, sorry. Beta-read by [livejournal.com profile] livii. References to The Eye of the Scorpion, No Place Like Home, The Axis of Insanity, The Kingmaker and The Veiled Leopard.


--

Erimem likes the wardrobe room. It contains so many different garments from places and times she's never heard of. Like the massive fur coat Erimem wears, that Peri asserts is 'just like Bigfoot'.

"It's like a big ape-man, about seven or eight feet tall, lives in the hills, and may or may not be totally made-up."

"So it's not a real creature?"

"Some people think it is, but I think it's a hoax. There's gotta be some guy wandering around the Pacific Northwest in a gorilla costume, having a big laugh at all the conspiracy theorists." Peri grins, stroking the arms of the big hairy coat, which is remarkably soft. Erimem can feel the touch through the heavy material. "Or maybe it's the Doctor, in this coat."

Erimem laughs. "That does not seem like his idea of a 'sensible day out'," she counters. "But you think this would make a good costume?"

"Oh sure! I know there's some face paint in here somewhere; we can paint your face to match. Speaking of, how about 'little green alien' for my costume?" She holds up a headband, from which two green antennae bobble.

"What if there are actual green aliens at the party? It may cause offence."

"Good point. Maybe that's why the Doctor thinks we shouldn't go; he thinks we'll cause a diplomatic incident."

"With ideas like that, it's more than likely."

Peri shoves her gently. "Cheeky. Anyway, help me look, there has to be something other than that awesome leather bikini. I love it, but I'm not wearing it on Prelax, I'll freeze. Ooh!" Yanking a long white dress from the rail, Peri says excitedly, "How about I go as the Bride of Frankenstein?"

"Who?"

--

Maybe this is why cats purr so much when you stroke them, Erimem wonders, doing her best not to react to Peri's touch. It's been several weeks since she last shaved her head, back in Thebes, and her hair is growing in much faster than she thought it might. The Doctor attributes this to some regenerative property of the TARDIS, and Peri comments on how 'cute' her current style is, before she playfully runs her fingers through Erimem's short hair.

Before she can embarrass herself, Erimem dodges out from under her hand and ruffles Peri's hair into a mess in retaliation. They laugh, and the Doctor rolls his eyes fondly, but behind her smile, Erimem's heart is pounding.

--

The TARDIS has many amazing rooms, containing wonders beyond her imagination, but Erimem's favourite place is rather familiar to her. Somehow, within the eternity contained within the blue box, there is an oasis in a desert. The door from the TARDIS corridor opens into a small tavern, which then leads out to the sand, palms and deep blue waters of the Southern Oasis she had visited when she was younger.

It becomes her first port of call after a stressful adventure, when all she wants to do is bask in the hot sun and relax. It is usually late afternoon when she arrives there, somehow, as though it is drawn from her own desires. The rosy pink sunlight shimmers against the far-off dunes and mountains, the sand is warm and comforting against her bare feet, and the buzz of insects disguises the quiet of an abandoned marketplace. That's how she knows this isn't the real Southern Oasis; it was always bustling with people until well after the sun set. The TARDIS must have created this paradise for her, as a reminder of home, and the thought always makes her smile.

She takes Peri there, shortly after the Axis. It's nice to have a place all to herself, but as she spends more time with Peri, she discovers that she wants to share this favourite place with the person who is quickly becoming so important to her.

They lie on the shore of the lake, side by side, and Erimem watches Peri drink in the sun-streaked sky.

"It's so beautiful," Peri says dreamily, gazing up at the wisps of pink and orange clouds.

"I was thinking the same," Erimem replied, propped up on one elbow.

Peri turns her head to meet her gaze, a blush rising across her cheeks. "That's so cheesy," she says with an embarrassed chuckle.

Erimem smiles, hoping she is inferring the correct meaning from the strange phrase. "Maybe so. That does not make it false."

She runs her fingertips along Peri's arm, tracing shapes. Peri shivers despite the heat, her eyes large and dark, and a smile starting on her lips.

Emboldened by that smile, Erimem leans in and kisses her.

--

Before long, the oasis becomes her second favourite place. Peri's bedroom is now 'theirs', and Erimem spends hours with her, rediscovering how to touch.

As pharaoh, nobody touched her. Of course, servants helped her bathe and dress, but their touches were impersonal and cautious, afraid of reprimand. Her mother refused to speak to her, let alone hold her, once she was pharaoh. She had no more playmates. The comforting touches of childhood were gone, sacrificed for godhood and politics.

Now she can touch as much as she likes, and be touched in return. She revels in Peri's warm hands stroking her arms, her fingers combing through her short hair, kisses on shoulders and legs and eyelids that make her giggle and sigh. She delights in being able to hold her, wrap her arms around her with affection, rest her head on Peri's shoulder and just breathe. Peri likes lying nose to nose, legs entwined, whispering to each other until they fall asleep. Erimem likes to lie with her head on Peri's chest and listen to her heartbeat.

She discovers the intimate touching, too, the kind that makes her entire world narrow down to just a few points (her lips, her fingers, her tongue) before shaking itself apart and rebuilding, slowly, piece by piece. Peri claims to be inexperienced at this, and as Erimem has no frame of reference either, she believes her. She quickly discovers that all it takes is practice and nimble fingers to turn Peri into a moaning, sweating, trembling heap on their bed. The ease with which she is able to do so pleases her greatly.

Their bedroom appears to be relatively soundproof. If the Doctor notices them holding hands and hugging more than before, he doesn't say anything, though Erimem thinks she notices a few more smiles and raised eyebrows.

--

"I'm actually excited at the prospect of wearing a bra again." Peri laughs a little as she stretches on the bed, skin damp against the sheets. "Is that weird?"

"I don't think so," Erimem replies, rubbing at her hair with a towel. "I'm just glad to be able to get all that make-up off, finally. It was in places you can't imagine!"

"Yeah, it's nice to be home. And clean."

Erimem laughs, moving to lie face-down on the bed next to her, head on her hands. It's wonderful to be able to be naked in their bedroom again, with heating and soft sheets, without worrying about men barging in; it feels like a rare luxury.

Peri rolls onto her side to face her. "Permission to place a hand on your royal behind?" she says with a wide, suggestive smirk.

"Mm, granted," Erimem replies with a grin, and arches into the touch. Moments later, she notices a wince cross Peri's face, and she frowns. "Is your back still bothering you?"

"It's fine," Peri says dismissively, but after another twinge of pain shows through, she admits, "Okay, a bit." She sits up and stretches again, but this doesn't seem to help.

"Here, lie down on your front," Erimem says, patting the bed as she gets up and retrieves a long forgotten bottle from the bedside drawer. She returns to the bed and sits astride Peri's legs, leans forward, and drizzles a small amount of oil from the bottle onto Peri's back.

"Where did you get that?" Peri asks curiously, as Erimem begins to rub the sweet-scented oil into her skin.

"You are not the only one who can produce interesting items from mysterious shops," Erimem replies with a grin. Peri shakes beneath her as she laughs. "I don't remember where I bought it, but it was not from Victoria."

"Fair enough," Peri murmurs amusedly, the soothing strokes of Erimem's hands lulling her into relaxation. Erimem presses carefully at the warm areas of her back, where the muscles are protesting the most, and works at them to loosen the knots. Peri makes sounds reminiscent of more intimate activities, which makes Erimem smile. Maybe they will work up to that tonight.

"Where did you learn this?" Peri asks after a while, her voice muffled slightly by her arms.

"I read a book about it", Erimem replies proudly. In response to what seems like a skeptical silence, she adds, "It had a lot of instructional diagrams. But I did understand a large portion of the text."

"I believe you," Peri offers quickly, raising her head a little. "I just didn't know there were books on massage in the TARDIS library." She drops her head back to her arms and lets out a groan. "Oh, wow, do that again." Erimem complies, bringing forth more lovely sounds that make her shift astride Peri's legs in anticipation.

The moment is quickly shattered when the Doctor opens the door to ask if they're done with their shower, stops mid-sentence, coughs, stammers an apology, and retreats rapidly down the corridor.

Peri bursts into giggles, face smothered in the blankets. Shoulders shaking with laughter, Erimem slumps forward across Peri's back.

"It has been a long while since he has done that," she says eventually.

Peri nods. "We're clearly going to have to start from scratch in teaching him to knock."

--

Peri finally laces Erimem into the old Victorian dress, after a pleasant interlude somewhere between the stockings and the bodice. As she pulls the laces taut, Erimem sucks in a breath, and Peri relaxes them slightly.

"Don't breathe in too much, or I'll end up tying it too tight and you won't be able to breathe at all," she warns, and Erimem lets the air whoosh back out. "Tell me when it's snug and comfortable." She gently pulls on the laces again.

"Okay, I think that's it," Erimem says when it feels like she'll need to start pulling in her stomach again.

Peri ties the laces in a double bow, and Erimem sits carefully on a fabric covered stool that Peri calls an 'ottoman', and reaches for the high heels they picked out. She manages to stretch maybe a foot or two towards them, then gives up, laughing. Peri giggles and crouches in front of her to help her put the shoes on and buckle them around her ankles.

She looks up at Erimem from amongst the voluminous ruffles of the skirt, lashes lowered and a smile on her face.

"Now don't you start that again!" Erimem says with a laugh. "We'll never be ready in time if you keep distracting us."

Peri smirks, but gets to her feet and goes over to the clothing rack. Far more quickly than it took Erimem to get into her dress, Peri slips on the Egyptian-style robe. Erimem watches her turn from side to side in front of the mirror, adjusting the fall of the fabric until she is satisfied with it. She looks good in the robe, especially with her hair in that style. It looks almost like the wigs Erimem used to wear. She'll have to weave in a decoration, for authenticity, she decides. Peri will look even more attractive with a few beads and ribbons braided into her hair.

Erimem gets up from the ottoman and steps over to the mirror, cautious and a little wobbly in her heels, even though she’s practiced. She steps up behind Peri, wraps her arms around her waist in a hug and puts her head on her shoulder. Peri's eyes are gleaming with excitement for the upcoming party. They look at each other in the mirror for a few moments, smiling.

"You look very beautiful." Erimem presses a kiss to Peri's cheek as she blushes. "Shall I apply your eye make-up now?"

As she sweeps dark kohl along Peri’s eyelids, turning her into a regal Egyptian princess, Erimem thinks about the last time she wore make-up like this. It was long ago, now, and she’s seen and done so much since. She wonders where she’ll eventually end up, and whether Peri will be there with her.

--
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