He found Ace in the galley, hands wrapped round a mug of tea. She didn't seem to be drinking it, though, only staring into its milky brown depths. "I came to see if you wanted me to read to you again, while you're falling asleep," he explained, holding out the antique copy of Alice in Wonderland.
She looked up at him.
Oh, the Doctor thought. I know that look.
He set the book down on the rickety table with three legs and a cricket bat standing in for the fourth, and took the seat opposite her. "Penny for your thoughts?"
"Pound wouldn't pay for them." She was thinking of Mike, how much she had liked him and how badly he had let her down. She was thinking of a football match when she was fifteen. She was thinking of her friend Manesha, and Gabriel Chase. Mostly, she was thinking of her first night on the TARDIS, and the Doctor's reply to the question she was about to ask him again. "I asked you a question a few nights ago," she said slowly. "You told me to think about it and ask you again sometime."
The Doctor nodded. "And?"
"And I've thought about it." She looked up from her tea, straight into his eyes. "I'm still game."
Something in the alien's eyes flickered. "But why?"
"Because I want to," replied Ace.
The smile he gave her was introspective. "Good." He extended his hand and Ace took it, and together they walked the corridors in silence.
When they stopped at a door, it took Ace a moment to realize that this was the room he had given her. "Where's your bedroom, then?"
"You'll be more comfortable in here," he hushed her, opening the door and drawing her inside.
"But where d'you sleep?"
"I don't sleep." He nudged the door closed, leaving them in darkness, save for the ever-so-faint light from the clock by Ace's bed. She couldn't see him, only his outline, and jumped when she felt his hand against her face. "I startled you?"
"I can barely see you. Can't I turn on a light?"
"There's nothing to fear in this darkness, Ace."
She waited for him to make the first move. "Well," she said after a time, "go on."
"This was your idea."
"What's wrong, Professor, never had a girl before?"
She could almost make out his annoyed scowl. "Yes, I have, thank you very much! But we're not here to talk about my past lovers." He paused. "Is this your first time?"
"No." She didn't want to talk about that. "That a problem?"
"It's just good to know these things." The fingers on her face began to softly stroke her skin. "I wouldn't want to hurt you."
"Wish my first guy had been that considerate."
Inwardly, the Doctor cursed; he had a fair suspicion of who her 'first guy' had been. "Well, if you ever see him again, we'll do something very wicked and creative to him, hmm?" He tweaked her nose to make her giggle. "That's better," he said, the smile clear in his voice. He followed that up with a light kiss, again, just on the tip of her nose. "Nervous?" he asked, feeling her shiver.
"Nah, just cold." She put her arms around his neck. "Think you can warm me up?"
"No." A beat. "I have a lower body temperature than you do." His voice had gone husky, now that she had closed the gap between them. Ace didn't know much about the timelord's physiology, aside from the two hearts, but she was sure she was feeling some pretty convincing evidence of his interest, right there against her thigh. "But I'll do my best," he promised lowly, his lips a mere breath away from hers, and Ace knew this was her last chance to back away. He wouldn't be offended or think less of her, she was sure.
She kissed him.
He was shorter than her first lover, less imposing, she hoped more manageable, and she felt far safer over the prospect of being with him than she had the last time, on Iceworld. His hands were still framing her face, but they were creeping upwards, to tangle his fingers into her hair. He tasted inhuman, she thought, and she liked it; he was sweetly spicy, like curry and bananas and soft chewy candy.
He was moving, barely perceptibly, but he was moving; slowly kissing her lips, slowly exploring her mouth, slowly moving his fingers from her face to her scalp to the nape of her neck. She shivered again, more violently. "Sorry," she whispered against his mouth.
"Never be sorry, not for doing what you know is right." He slid his hands down her spine to the waistband of her jeans, untucking her t-shirt, and slipped up, pressing his palms against her lower back. "I never am."
If there was one thing she had always wanted to do to the Doctor, it was to get him out of that damn jumper, and she tugged insistently at the bottom of it, pulling it up over his head and tossing it into some corner. She could feel him better through the thin linen of his button-down shirt; he was more muscular than she had expected, though not grossly so. It was difficult, in the dark and with his lips on her jawbone, but she managed to get most of the buttons undone and to push the shirt from his shoulders. Her eyes were becoming more accustomed to the lack of light and she could make him out more easily now, see more clearly the line of his shoulders, the dark hair more tousled than before, melting away into the shadows. Ace was glad she couldn't see his eyes; she thought they might frighten her just now.
She ran her hands over his chest and stomach–he was colder than she was. His hands slipped up her shirt again, pulling it off in one motion (blimey he really has done this before) and easily disposing of her bra. "How long since you've done this?"
"About a hundred and fifty years."
Ace almost made a cheeky comment about blue balls, but she didn't get the chance; the Doctor's hands had landed on her shoulders and pushed her down. She hadn't realized they were so close to the bed and the soft, springy surface she landed on took her by surprise. He tugged at her boots, and she felt them slide off, heard them fall to the floor with a muffled clunk, heard his own wingtips join them. The mattress depressed under his weight as he stretched himself out next to her. He kissed her, softly, ever so slowly, his hands moving steadily up her ribcage to cup her right breast and squeeze it gently. Ace couldn't help it; she moaned into him. She reached down to cup the bulge in his trousers, and felt his groan reverberate in his chest.
"A hundred and fifty years is a long time, Professor. How'd you manage?"
"Oh, I got by," he said, dismissing the problem. He continued to fondle her breasts, while she worked away at the fly of his trousers.
"Boxers or briefs? Or d'you prefer going commando? What's the fashion on Gallifrey these days?"
"Disgustingly voluminous robes, and no, I don't know what's under them. Why do you think I dress like this instead?" He batted aside her hand and pushed his trousers and mysterious undergarments off and kicked them away. "Briefs, if you're so interested."
She laughed, and kissed him. He was less hesitant now, more willing to enjoy himself, she hoped. She reached out carefully in the dark, and was rewarded by his hushed gasp as her fingers curled around his erection. "What's it look like?" she wondered, stroking it carefully.
"Off-hand, I'd say it probably looks like a penis."
Ace almost choked. "Y'know, there are just some words I don't expect to come out of your mouth!"
"I know; that's why I store them up and save them for special occasions like these. I am allowed to mention the 'unmentionable' parts of the humanoid anatomy, Ace. There are words for those things, like 'penis,' for example. There's also 'vagina,' 'labia,' 'testicles'--" She squeezed the aforementioned body part. "Yes," he groaned. "That's them."
"I meant, do you look like a human does?"
"Yes," he sighed, pretending to be exasperated. "It's the same organ you'd find on a human male. I don't have tentacles or an ovapositor or anything pointlessly complicated–I wouldn't be here if I didn't have the right parts." The rolling 'r' in 'right' was too much, and Ace collapsed into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. In the darkness, the Doctor smiled, hoping Ace would never know just how good her laughing sounded and how much at ease it had put him. "Are you finished?" he asked politely, when her peals of mirth had subsided into slightly pained wheezing.
"Only if you don't say the word 'ovapositor' again," she warned him.
"I solemnly swear not to," he promised, not at all solemnly.
"Right. Get back here, then."
"Gladly." He pulled her onto his chest, lying under her, squeezing her bum through her jeans as she left inexperienced marks on his throat. The jeans were too tight to even get his fingers under the waistband, so he quickly unzipped them and peeled them from her legs. Her tights went next, and her panties, and then the Doctor was naked and in bed with one of his companions for the first time in a century and a half (I really must stop making a habit of this...). He wondered briefly if he should shift; Sarah Jane had preferred him on top, Romana had explored all sorts of strange positions, Tegan had--
But Ace very neatly took the problem out of his hands, and lowered herself down onto him. She leaned the heels of her hands on his shoulders, bending over him; she could just make out the expression on his face and it alarmed her. "Professor? Are you okay?" He looked almost in pain. She started to climb off, but his hands flew to her hips and stilled her.
"No," he whispered, "no, I'm all right. You're just... so wonderfully warm. It's been a long time..." He took a deep breath, then pulled her face down for a brief kiss. "You feel incredible," he couldn't help saying.
Ace blushed... all over. "Oh," the Doctor moaned. "I felt that, too." The hands on her hips lifted her carefully, then lowered her back down; he did it twice more, then moved hands and lips to her breasts and left her to find her own rhythm. It was harder than it had seemed from the pornos she had seen, at half past two in the morning on the VCR in the cellar, on the tapes she nicked from her mates' boyfriends, and as bloody good as they felt, the Doctor's insistent hands and lips were not helping.
"I can't... I can't do it," she gasped, frustration coloring her voice. To her annoyance, he chuckled.
"Not as easy as it looks, is it?" he teased. "Off, off, off." She obliged, sitting up on her knees on the mattress. The Doctor gazed at her in the dim light; he debated telling her how beautiful she looked–rather like Botticelli's Venus–but on reflection, he doubted she would understand or appreciate the comparison (must remedy that). Instead, he sat up, taking her into his arms and kissing her reverently, delighting in the feel of her hair running through his fingers like rain. "Lie down," he told her, pushing her gently back down onto the bed. He covered her body with his own and slid easily inside her.
There was little talking now; no need for it, for the Doctor had long ago discovered that there were some things native to the human condition that had no words, or numbers, or recipes for success, and he was accepting enough now of his human blood to give himself over to his own basic needs. There were the hushed devotions that neither of them would remember, come morning; the soundless gasps and the scrabbling hands, the scratches welling up on his shoulders from Ace's fingernails, as she sought in vain to pull him deeper into her. He murmured her name across her skin, felt more than heard her call him by the title that was the only name he had left and the annoyingly endearing nickname she had given him. She tensed up around him and cried and he thought he would die from the heat of her, but he moved as he had always moved and would always move, universe without end, ad infinitum. Timelessly.
Hearts finally slowing, the Doctor lowered himself down onto the bed and wrapped Ace tightly in his arms. She cuddled against him gratefully, sated and content. The Doctor nuzzled his nose into the hair feathering her temple, and wondered if she knew how cruelly the universe was using him again.
"I've lit the blue touch paper and found there's nowhere to retire to..."
-- The Doctor, "Ghost Light"