Ian lies back, his head in Barbara’s lap, sated and entirely relaxed. His eyes are half-closed and he’s on the verge of a pleasant doze, the gentle sound of the fountain and warm Mediterranean breeze lulling him to sleep.
Barbara shifts slightly, then more determinedly, and with an annoyed harrumph, he sits up and gives her a mock scowl. She sticks her tongue out at him and wriggles her toes. “My leg was going to sleep,” she says. “Come and lie down next to me if you like.”
He shuffles round the bed, taking his dishevelled toga with him and ignores Barbara’s amused look. She’s no less unkempt, but her hair is free and caressing her bare shoulders and he won’t do a thing to prompt her to tie it back up.
He wraps his arms around her and pulls her close, fingers moving lightly over the soft skin of her stomach as he breathes in the floral scent of her hair. Barbara leans back against him and her hand moves to his hip when an image of the Doctor giggling absurdly as he and Vicki left the villa leaps into Ian’s head. He exhales, all amorous thoughts deserting him as his suspicion solidifies.
“Do you think we’ve been set up?” he asks.
“Hmm?” Barbara’s thoughts are still elsewhere, and her fingers are so soft and moving with a delicious lightness over his thigh, but he really, really doesn’t want to be doing this and thinking of him.
“The Doctor,” says Ian, and he feels Barbara sigh. “Do you think he did this on purpose? And that’s why he wouldn’t let us go to Rome with him?”
“What? No. Of course not.” She rolls over to face him, her mouth temptingly close. Her lips press together, the slightest frown creases her forehead “He wouldn’t.”
“I don’t know, Barbara, he’s not as oblivious as he makes out a lot of the time, and I bet he’s an old romantic at heart. Besides, it’s not like we have a lot of privacy on the TARDIS, or that it wasn’t obvious that we...that I...” He gestures awkwardly and finds himself avoiding Barbara’s eyes, which is pretty difficult when they’re only a few inches away.
Barbara smiles, her hand moves to stroke his cheek. “It’s silly, isn’t it? We’ve travelled so far and done so much and yet we still get tongue-tied over perfectly normal, entirely human, feelings.”
Ian returns the smile, reaches out to take her hand in his. “It’s not the feelings I find awkward, it’s the idea of doing this onboard the TARDIS.”
“Oh, there’s a lot more to the ship than the living quarters. When we get back, we should explore properly.”
His smile widens. “Yes, I’m sure we can find a quiet little corner tucked away somewhere.”
“Mmmhmm, but don’t forget the TARDIS is alive too, you know.”
Ian looks at her and raises an eyebrow. “Should I take that as some sort of a hint?”
“No! I just mean...oh, I don’t know, Ian. With the amount of trouble we get ourselves into-”
“Barbara, I’d worry about you just the same.”
“Yes, I suppose you would, far too much.” Her head tilts forward and she kisses him softly, on the corner of his mouth, before turning around again. “When we get home,” she says, before she curls into him and closes her eyes as though she’s completed the sentence. He doesn’t even know if she means the ship or their fading hope that, one day...
“When we get home,” he repeats softly, closes his own eyes, and listens to her breathe.