The first kiss was a lifetime ago. Before leaving, before Susan, before so many things.
He’d been a student then, at the Academy, the year they had even Azmael climbing the walls. Despite that, despite everything, he was to be allowed to participate in the legendary assignment. The one that led students to stick with year after year of temporal mechanics. An actual unsupervised trip off-planet.
It was rare to leave Gallifrey, and for most of the students it was their first opportunity. He’d been born off-planet, but that was....unusual circumstances. For as long as he could remember he’d lived on Gallifrey. He was eager to see something else.
The whole thing nearly fell through when he was assigned to a team with Koschei and Drax. The computer that assigned teams was disassembled and handed over to a technician. They drew names out of a hat, instead.
They got the same result. Twice.
The three of them were finally allowed to go, on condition that they stay strictly out of trouble and follow the approved list of social interactions. Of course, the minute the student capsule took off, Koshchei suggested that they get out and mix. And both he and Drax agreed.
The location was Earth, in the early twenty-first century. The city of London, which had been pronounced reasonably safe on that particular day. Drax kept making slightly nervous jokes about the teachers not worrying about them coming back.
It had been a pleasant spring day, as soon as they all got used to the odd color of the sky. The blue was slightly dizzying, but after a few moments staring, Koschei straightened up and dragged them off to a dance club.
Dance clubs on this planet were apparently dark confined areas where people gathered to socialize in music so loud they could barely speak. He didn’t entirely see the point of that, and after an hour he said so.
Koschei laughed, “You don’t socialize sitting at a table, Theta. You have to get up and mix with the crowd. And the point of this gathering place is not to have a quiet chat. The point is to dance.”
“And drink,” Drax added. “Could you fetch another round?”
He sighed, and headed for the main bar, to order three Black Wolfs (Drax had got the drinks menu and wanted to try everything on the list). He was picking through the fiddly combination of metal and paper money they used here, trying to figure out which one to trade, when she came up. A young woman, he’d guess she was forty on Gallifrey, but here on Earth she was most likely eighteen. She was blonde, sweet and smiling, “Need a hand?”
“Yes, please,” he smiled, “I’m not used to the local currency. Which of these is three pints?”
She laughed and plucked a twenty from the pile. “So you’re from abroad then? Where?”
“Greece.” He’d thought that up in case Drax did something stupid and called him Theta in public. “I’m here with friends. On vacation.”
“Right. You lot are on euros then. Or is it something else?”
“Euros,” he declared airily. He honestly hadn’t a clue if a Euro was a credit stick or some kind of bead. “So, are you a local girl?”
“Yeah. Live right round the corner. Powell estates.” She looked suddenly embarrassed. The bartender plunked down three shot glasses and a pile of paper and coins. “So back to your friends then.”
He nodded. “They’re at the table over there.” He stuffed the leftover money in his pocket and started to pick up the glasses.
“Like a hand?” she asked. “It can be a bit tricky carrying three.”
He was about to answer that he was perfectly capable of carrying three shot glasses in two hands when he noticed the peculiar look she gave him. Her head was tilted and the corner of her mouth was threatening to turn up. “Yes, thanks,” he replied
She smiled again. He was going to have to figure out how to get her to do that more often. “So your friends from Greece too?”
He nodded, “We’re students. At University.”
“Well, I must say you speak good English.”
“My mother’s English.” He stiffened as the words came out. What had made him say that? Of all the stupid things to blurt out. But she hadn’t made anything of it, was forging ahead to the table, so he let it drop.
“Oi, Thete! See you did well.” Drax picked up his shot and drained it. “Koschei went off with a whole pack of local girls. Still, more for us, then.”
He suddenly realized he really didn’t want to be sitting with Drax now, drinking increasingly random alcohol concoctions and watching Earthlings dance. He turned to the blonde girl who had the brightest eyes he’d ever seen. “Would you like to dance?”
She smiled again and whisked him onto the floor. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t terrible, and she laughed again at his mistakes.
In one of those moments of dance-floor magic that he wouldn’t be able to pinpoint in a thousand years (he really wouldn’t) they wound up at the back door, hand in hand staring into each other’s eyes. So he kissed her.
It was an odd thing, kissing. Pressing your lips against someone else for excitement. Exchanging saliva as a sign of affection. On Gallifrey it was rare, a slightly exotic kink like love bites, or running your nails down their back. This was different. She had a way of letting her mouth go all soft and inviting and warm. Startlingly warm. He discovered he’d closed his eyes when he opened him to catch her doing the same. She’d smiled and for a moment it had been utterly beautiful.
Then his mind started going and it all fell apart. The words ‘just like your father’ entered his head from nowhere and he started to shake. He was kissing an alien girl under a strange sky after an hour of charming her with lies. A human girl. He felt a sudden chill all over and his stomach knotted up. “I’m sorry,” he babbled, “I’m sorry. I have to go.” And she’s a human. Just like his father indeed. Look how well that worked.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “Is something wrong? You’ve come over all queer.” She really was sweet. What had he been thinking? What had he hoped to accomplish like this? Maybe it was some mad pheromone thing. Maybe he took after his mother more than he thought. He’d heard the lower species had pheromones. And by Time Lord standards everything short of Eternals were considered lower species. He shook his head.
“No, it’s fine. I just need to go. Back to my room. I’m sorry. You’re wonderful. Good bye.” He ducked out the door, forcing himself to keep a brisk walk until he got back to the capsule (a post box about six blocks away) and ducked directly into the console room. Then he sat back against the console and listened to it hum until his hands were steady again.
By the time Drax came back, four hours later, sick as a dog (Time Lords weren’t supposed to get hangovers from alcohol, but Drax had managed somehow), he was smiling and sensible and had contracted a perfectly reasonable story about the girl having a boyfriend turn up at the last minute.
And when Koschei showed up the next morning, his clothes rearranged, looking insufferably smug, he was cool and collected and halfway through the fake observation log, leaving Koschei swearing eternal vengeance for being stuck with cleaning the capsule. And for centuries that was that. A funny story about how they’d outsmarted their tutors once again. A nearly forgotten kiss with a girl he’d likely never see again, and not notice if he did.
And he hadn’t noticed, for a while at least.
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