If you could look at me once more
With all the love you felt before
If you and I could disappear into the past, and find that love we knew
I’d never take my eyes away from you…
--“When I Look At You,” The Scarlet Pimpernel
She surprises him with a kiss, turning swiftly and standing on her tip-toes to press her lips to his, her hands bunching the lapels of his green velvet jacket.
He stiffens for a moment, but then relaxes into it and returns the kiss, resting his large hands on her shoulders and leaning down so that she doesn’t have to strain to reach.
He starts away again when her hands slip under his jacket and began to unbutton his shirt, but then she feels his smile against her mouth, and then against her cheek, and then her neck as he works his way up to her ear.
“I’ve never been able to say no to a nicely shaped human,” he murmurs with just the hint of a chuckle, his voice catching slightly when her fingers find bare skin.
She smirks. “Lucky me.” She gives him a light shove so that his knees hit the armchair and he falls back into it. “I’ve been looking for a Time Lord to add to my list of conquests.”
She clambers onto his lap, straddling him.
“Well,” he says as she begins to unfasten his trousers,” I certainly hope you’re not expecting tentacles.”
There was a soft knock at her door.
Sarah Jane sat bolt upright, sending pillows tumbling, jolted awake from her dream as though dumped into ice water. “Harry, if I have to explain one more time why we can’t just pop out the door and get a new helmic regulator from the U.N.I.T. lab–”
“Ah, Sarah, it’s me,” came the voice she still had to remind herself belonged to the Doctor. “May I come in?”
She gathered her nightgown tighter around her. “All right.”
The door creaked open, then a mass of curly dark hair edged into view. The hair was followed by a pair of sheepish blue eyes.
Sarah Jane crossed her arms. “So you’ve decided to stop ignoring me then?”
The eyes became, if possible, even more sheepish, and the rest of the Doctor shuffled into her room. “Rather difficult to ignore you, when you’re projecting erotic dreams all over the TARDIS,” he muttered, kicking at the floor. He glanced up at her quickly, a glimmer of mischief dancing in his eyes. “A good thing Harry is mentally so unremarkable, or he would be waking up very confused.”
“Harry is not mentally unremarkable,” Sarah snapped automatically.
The Doctor huffed, a thundercloud settling over his features. “Oh yes, messing about with the controls of a spaceship you’ve never seen before demonstrates fine mental acumen. Nobel Prize material, right there. It’s a wonder you haven’t been spending your REM cycles snogging him in semipublic places and sticking your hand down his trousers.”
“Well, maybe I will!” Sarah crossed her arms even tighter, feeling suddenly exposed in her quite modest nightgown. “What are you doing peeking inside my head anyway? You swore you would only do that in an emergency!”
“I can’t help it if you’re broadcasting!” The Doctor snapped. “I wouldn’t doubt that there are telepaths six systems away who suddenly need a cold shower and a bit of lie down.”
“It’s not like I did it on purpose!” Sarah retorted. “What did you expect, whirling me off on a trip with Harry in tow so we can’t have any privacy, locking yourself up in the control room so I can’t talk to you–everything on Earth happened so fast and now I don’t see you for days and you ignore me and you haven’t even kissed me, not even on the cheek–”
She bit her lip and looked away.
He said it so soft, so gentle–so like himself, the way he had been, when even his temper tantrums had been somehow dignified and charming…
She couldn’t help but meet his eyes. The fight seemed to have gone out of him. He brought his hand up to his chin, one finger worrying at his lower lip, and that too was so reminiscent of his former self that it sent a pang shooting through her chest.
“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” She couldn’t keep looking at him. She looked down at her nightgown, fretted at the sleeve. “I mean, I’m sure I will, eventually, you’re still you, but–you’re not still you.”
“I know precisely what you mean.” He sat down next to her on the bed, gingerly. She was a little surprised by that–she would’ve taken his new personality for an incurable mattress-bouncer, regardless of the situation. “Regeneration is a difficult concept for humans, even without–this.” He bent at the neck to meet her eyes. “I was giving you time.”
His eyes were wide and blue and puppy-dog-begging, and despite all those teeth he really did have a very, very nice smile…
And even thinking that felt like betrayal.
Sarah buried her face in her hands. “Oh, bugger. This is all such a mess.”
“It’s not that bad, is it?” he asked. “I wasn’t quite sure about the ears at first, but they’re growing on me. And I like the hair, feel the hair!”
Caught up, he raised her hand to his head. She combed through his dark locks. Thick, and strong, but so soft... Her fingers lingered at the back of his head, twirling the shorter curls and running her nails lightly against his scalp.
“It is nice,” she admitted.
He beamed, and bounced a little on the mattress. Aha, right about the bouncing after all! she thought, and couldn’t help smiling back.
“I like it,” he said. “I think I shall grow it out even longer. The most aggravating thing about my old body–never could get the hair puffy enough, no matter what lengths I went to.”
“Yes, I remember catching you with my blowdryer,” Sarah Jane said with a smirk. “You tried to hide it behind your back, and then you stuttered like a schoolboy.”
“I assure you, that hairdryer meant nothing to me.”
She giggled and leaned into his shoulder a bit. The tweed was scratchy against her cheek, not soft like velvet would’ve been. She tried to quash it, but a sniffle fought its way out.
“I miss him,” she said softly. She hid her face in his sleeve. “I know it’s silly, because he’s you and you’re him, but I just don’t know you–in this body.”
“Would you like to?”
“What?” She pulled back slightly. Was he saying…
“Not sex,” he clarified quickly. “It’s actually something of an impossibility at the moment–if a new body’s like a new house, then the hormones are rather like the furniture that the bloody movers never manage to get unpacked and in place until you’ve had to sleep on wood floors or a leaky air mattress for a week.” The words came out in a rush through a grin whose amusement appeared slightly forced, before he cut himself off by tugging at his own scarf. The tug seemed to rearrange his posture too, so that now he was looking down at her in a haughty sort of way, and oh, she recognized him. That face, that defense mechanism; all pomposity and condescension pulled down like a mask over any risk of his humiliation. “Highly sensible evolutionary adaptation, you know. Regeneration is a tricky business, brain cells all shaken up, decision-making skills not at their finest…if we could breed during, we’d overrun ourselves completely.”
“So you don’t really even know if you’re attracted to me yet, do you?”
“Of course I am.” And now his voice was low and gravelly with a hint of a growl and made her knees shake, just a little. “The more pressing question is, are you attracted to me?”
She played with the buttons of his shirt, trying not to let on how light-headed she suddenly felt. “So this would entail…”
“Whatever you’d like it to.” He cleared his throat, suddenly come over all bashful. He was more than mercurial, this new Doctor, and it was ten kinds of frustrating and intoxicating that all rolled into one longing that ached like fire in her chest. He continued quickly, “I understand it has been some time for you; I could, ah…” The Doctor waggled his fingers, quirking an eyebrow. “For you. If you’d like.”
He had really very long fingers…very large hands in general, actually, quite large and capable looking and really very beautiful, with those long, elegant fingers…
Sarah Jane blushed furiously. “I, uh, don’t think that’ll be necessary.”
“Ah.” He sat back, clearly trying not to look disappointed. He removed his arm from around her shoulder.
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake!” She could feel the blush working its way up to the roots of her hair. “I mean–I didn’t say I didn’t want to do anything, did I?”
He studied her for a moment, and then a grin split his face. “No, you didn’t.”
“Well, then. Teach you to rush to conclusions.”
“Indeed it will,” he said, still grinning like the cat that ate the canary. “Of course, if you feel the need for a more hands-on lesson…”
“Come here, you,” she said, taking his hand and tugging him closer. She pressed his arms to his sides. “There for now.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, lips twitching.
Her hands went to his collar, fretting nervously at the fabric. She bit her lip, and the Doctor’s eyes flicked down to her mouth.
Sarah could feel little zips of electricity up and down her nerves. She took a deep breath. “Tell me if you don’t like anything.”
She wasn’t sure where to start, really, so she went back to where she’d left off with the hair, running her fingers through his curls again. His eyelids fluttered a little as she did so this time, not quite closed. Oh, very nice. She could get used to that.
She swept his bangs up, and promptly giggled.
The Doctor almost leapt out of his skin. “What?”
“You haven’t got any eyebrows!”
“What? No!” He looked as if he were about to bound up to check, but she stopped him with a hand on his cheek. His face was dismayed. “I had marvelous eyebrows before. Very expressive.”
He stilled as she stroked his cheek, the almost-trembling tension of his desire for movement bleeding away. She felt goose-bumps raise on her arms even as his cool skin warmed under her palm. His eyes stayed fixed on her, on her eyes and her hands.
She traced his cheekbones, his chin, his wide mouth and still-large nose. She kissed the tip of the nose. “I do like the face.”
He smiled again, and she took the opportunity to retrace his lips. A slight, sharp inhale, his deep blue eyes widening. She planted a kiss at the corner of his mouth, lingered there. Ducked her head and kissed under his chin, flicked out her tongue. He tasted familiar but not quite human, not enough salt and just a hint of something not exactly citrus…
“You–you taste the same,” she realized. Overcome slightly, tears welled up in her eyes as she kissed his neck again, taking a moment to savor the feel and scent and tang of his skin. His hands almost came up to her face but then he remembered and just inclined his head to brush his lips against her hair.
She took a breath and ducked her hands under his collar, unbuttoning his shirt and letting it hang. She slid her hands over his chest, exploring. He wasn’t as muscular as he had been, his build thinner, more wiry. Less chest hair, but darker. Skin still cool to the touch, though. She pulled off his shirt, taking the jacket with it, to investigate his shoulders and arms and back. Sarah ran her fingertips lightly over his shoulder blade, and he trembled.
“You still like that, hmm?” There was something oddly erotic in the analytic comparison going on in her mind, something in the thrill of newness along with the welcome familiarity. It wasn’t sex but it felt like it, almost; there was strange intimacy in the way he held himself open to her, trusting, letting her hold him still like a butterfly specimen pinned for her perusal. She kissed his wrist, and tasted the skin from there to his palm, nipping at his fingers when she felt his double-heartbeat speed up. He’d always had sensitive hands.
She got up and sat behind him, pulling his back against her front. She nipped at his shoulder, and then went to work on his neck. He still liked that, if the little gasps he let out were any indication, but the sweet spots were different, and she spent a very pleasant five minutes or so finding the new ones. Her hands roamed as she did so, adding other little tidbits of information to her collection: his ears were ticklish, his nipples weren’t as sensitive as they had been, he had gotten very responsive to light stroking of his arms, and hormones or no hormones, his abdomen tightened and his breathing got very short every time her fingers found their way close to the top of his trousers.
He smelled the same, and he smelled wonderful: like old books and dandelions and just a hint of ozone, sharp and clear.
She eased back onto the mattress, holding him with his head pillowed against her chest, enjoying the weight and the feel of him. Savoring the sound of his double-heartbeat echoing against her own solitary pulse. She pressed a kiss to his hair.
After awhile, though, it got more heavy than comforting, and Sarah slipped out from under the Doctor and just watched him for a moment, watching her. His eyes expectant, maybe a little anxious even, but trusting. She rubbed his chest for reassurance, and then shucked off his shoes and socks. He lifted his hips to help her as she removed his trousers–she approved of his legs, nicely long and slender, well, gangly really, but they went well with the rest of his body–and underwear.
She was surprised at how unshy she felt, examining him. Longer than he had been, but less thick. Though in fairness he couldn’t stand at attention at the moment. Less hair, dark and curly.
She swung a leg over him, and sat on his stomach. Stroked designs on his chest with her fingers. “This body has possibilities.” Pinned his wrists to the mattress as she leaned forward to press a quick kiss against his lips. She could feel a smile breaking through on her face, pleased and almost giddy. “Definite possibilities.”
He was looking at her like–like–like no one had looked at her before. Like she was a field of stars, or the birth of the universe, or… “Doctor?”
“Could I see you?”
“You’ve already seen me.” Sarah laughed, and she could feel every point where she was touching him, prickling with electricity and possibilities.
“Not with these eyes.”He twisted his left arm slightly, just enough to brush his fingertips against her wrist. “It’ll be all new.”
Sarah Jane was certain he could hear her heartbeat speed up.” All right.”
She began to unbutton her nightgown, a little nervous, but the way he was watching her… She had to stand to finish shucking off the garment. Her bra and knickers followed. She could feel the return of her blush, working its way up her chest.
“Well? Still a nicely shaped human then?”
He beckoned her closer. His fingers traced a line up from her wrist to her shoulder and then down again, resting in the crook of her elbow. “Very.”
She straddled him again, and intertwined her hand with his. She felt a little dizzy, but also wonderful. “It’ll all be new with these hands too, then. It’ll be the first time, touching me.”
“Would you like me to?”
Sarah grinned. “Won’t know till you try.”
He placed a finger on her nose and then traced downward, pausing at her collarbone before running it between her breasts. He reached her belly button and spread his fingers wide, resting his hand on her stomach. His other hand came up to rest against the small of her back. And she felt safe in his hands, and loved.
Then he tickled her, and she shrieked and tried to swat him with a pillow, and they both almost tumbled off the bed, and Sarah Jane couldn’t stop giggling even after he stopped tickling her, and finally the Doctor joined in with his deep and dark chocolate rich laugh.
And when they finally calmed down they went exploring together, four hands moving slow and steady and gentle and curious, touching, and touching, and touching. Learning new and old, and learning each other, on and on through the night.