“This,” Donna Noble announced, “is the daftest book I ever read.”
The Doctor sat in a large leather armchair next to the library fireplace, toasting his bare feet comfortably in front of the fire. He was engrossed in Ten Practical Uses for a Fixed Temporal Barrier–The third book in the exciting Ten Practical Uses series! proclaimed the cover in large red letters--but at her indignant tone, he glanced up, looking at her over the dark rims of his glasses.
“That,” he said gravely, “is a translation of one of the great classics of Gallifrey.”
“But it’s boring.”
“To humans, maybe.” He lifted a supercilious eyebrow. He didn’t need to add Since humans have such tiny little brains. His expression said it for him.
“I’m only thirty pages in,” she complained, “but so far it’s all about this bloke wandering around in someone else’s head. Just keeps popping into her thoughts. Bloody dull thoughts they are, too.”
“Yes, well.” He cleared his throat a little. “You might think so, but to a Gallifreyan the book is quite… interesting.”
“I mean, this bit.” She flipped back a few pages. “The two of them are thinking about the colour red. Endlessly. What is that all about, exactly? What is so fascinating about red?”
The Doctor’s eyes flickered away. “No idea,” he said, his voice harsher than usual.
“Three bloody pages, dedicated to him going on and on about red. And then two pages where she thinks about red. And then…” She flipped pages again, and shook her head. “And now they’re on to blue.”
“Mmmm,” the Doctor said noncommittally.
“Barmy. Absolutely daft. Great classic, my arse.”
“Oi,” he grumbled. “I happen to be very fond of that book.”
“Yeah, but... red and blue. Oh, and look, now they’re thinking about green!” She sighed, and put the dog-eared volume down next to her on the sofa. “I don’t get it. It’s just a book about telepathy. Let me touch your mind, my lady…”
She trailed off, thinking about that, and stared at the book’s well-worn cover. The Doctor lifted Ten Practical Uses and concealed his face behind it. He no longer looked comfortably relaxed, and something about his oddly stiff posture made a connection click in her head.
“Hang on a minute,” she said, frowning at him. “Is this a Gallifreyan Mills & Boon?”
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re on about,” he said from behind his book, very carefully not lowering it.
“I mean, it’s a romance novel. Isn’t it?”
He lowered the book an inch, barely revealing his dark eyes, and slid a cautious glance in her direction. “It’s really more of a literary novel about romance,” he said in his loftiest tone. “It’s not like that trashy rubbish you like to read.”
“Oi. Watch it, Spaceman.” She picked up the book and started flipping through the later chapters. She started to grin. “Blimey. This is trashy. It’s like… like… I dunno, mind porn or something.”
“Mind porn,” he snorted. “Great literature of a lost civilization, and you call it mind porn.”
“But it is. Listen to this.” She stopped on a page and read, “My lady, the beauty of your mind has brought me nearly to a state of ecstasy, and I have but barely begun to explore your wonders…”
“Well,” he said, hiding behind the book again. “If you’re going to take it out of context, then of course it’s going to sound a tad on the coarse side…”
“Let me thrust myself further into your mind…”
“Donna.” His voice sounded strained. “You can stop now. Really.”
“My lord, I am yours, all yours… oh, I beg of you, take me…”
“Enough,” he growled.
“Oh, my God.” She burst into giggles. “You think this is sexy. Don’t you?”
“It’s a rather poor translation,” he said with great dignity. “In the original Gallifreyan, it sounds much more… elevated.”
“Elevated.” She giggled again, reading on. “I don’t care how you phrase it. They’re still having mind sex. Doctor… is this how your people actually did it?”
He pretended to be too deeply engrossed in his book to hear.
“Oh, my God.” Something occurred to her, and she stopped reading and glared at him. “On the Oodsphere–I let you into my mind so I could hear their song–”
“That was totally different,” he said hastily, as if worried that she was going to hurl the book at his head. Since that was the kind of thing she did on a regular basis, she had to admit he had good cause to worry. “Nothing like sex at all.”
“But if your people have sex with their minds…”
“That was just a surface touch,” he explained. “What that book is describing is, well, deeper.”
“Yeah.” She nodded, reading on. “He’s got pretty deep, all right.”
The Doctor made a noise that might have been a groan. “Could you stop talking about it? Please?”
“Why?” She chortled. “Is this turning you on, my lord?”
He growled, slammed his book down, and yanked off his glasses. “Do you mind?”
She dissolved into giggles again. “You can’t blame a girl for being curious,” she said. “But I still don’t understand what all these colours have to do with getting it on.”
“If you were a Time Lady,” he said, “it would all make sense to you.”
“But my simple human brain can’t possibly comprehend it, I suppose.”
“I don’t know,” he said, very quietly. “Never tried it with a human, actually.”
She looked across the room at him. In the flickering firelight, his eyes looked very old, and for once she could believe he was actually as ancient as he claimed to be. Must be pretty lonely for him, she thought with a sudden stab of sympathy. No Time Ladies left.
He was the only one of his kind left in the whole universe, and whatever his people had done in the way of sex was lost now, the memories of it locked up in only one mind. His.
She wondered if he missed it.
Judging from the expression in his dark eyes, she was willing to bet he missed it a hell of a lot.
Putting down the book, she stood up and walked over to him. "Doctor," she said, more gently than was her wont. “Show me how your people kissed.”
He rose to his feet, looking down on her with an almost funny rush of expressions–shock, astonishment, annoyance, and something that looked very much like desire-- chasing themselves across his face. At last he said, “Don’t be daft. We agreed we were just mates, remember?”
“You kissed me human-style last week, and the universe didn’t come to an end.” She looked up at him. “Anyway, it seems like this book would be very informative--” she deliberately echoed the word he’d used to describe her Mills & Boon novel-- “but I can’t quite understand how it works. I reckon I need some context to get it. So show me.”
His left eyebrow shot up, and then he slowly reached out with both hands and gently placed his long fingers on her temples. She felt a tiny flicker of something at the edge of her consciousness, the slight whisper she’d felt when he opened her mind to the Ood song.
It was nice, she thought. Pleasant enough, in a quiet, subtle kind of way, but not exactly erotic. Not at all like human kissing. Maybe if she was Gallifreyan, it’d knock her socks off, but as it was, it wasn’t anything to write home about…
And then he sort of pushed into her, in a way she couldn't explain, and her eyes fluttered shut of their own accord as colours exploded in her brain, beautiful and kaleidoscopic and overwhelming. His mind was in hers, and she felt him as a colour–bright red, with gold round the edges, and dark, dark blue beneath. She wondered what she felt like to him, what colour he saw her as. Whatever it was, he must have liked it, because when she managed to crack her eyelids open, she saw his squeezed tightly shut, his teeth bared in a grimace, his face contorted in an expression of pleasure so deep it was nearly pain.
Her eyes drifted shut again, because there was music swelling in her head, incredible, silvery music, and the music and the colours spun together into something so lovely she wanted to weep and laugh at the same time. He was the colours and the music, beautiful and grand and majestic, and he was filling her in a glorious rush of sound and light, whirling her around like a leaf in a hurricane, so that she flew helplessly through the brightly coloured music–
His hands yanked away from her head, and he stepped back from her, blinking. She blinked too, and shook her head, and the world started to come back into focus. The colours and the music faded, and there was nothing except her and the Doctor, standing in the TARDIS library, staring wide-eyed at each other.
“That–“ She could barely get words out. “Was that Gallifreyan sex?”
“Oh, hardly,” he said. His voice was a little hoarse, but he was obviously trying for nonchalance. “That was just the equivalent of a kiss, really. Exactly what you asked for. Gallifreyan sex is much more intense than that.”
My God, she thought, it’d probably make my brain explode.
And she wasn’t at all sure she’d mind.
“Um,” she said, still blinking. “Well. Now that was educational.”
She’d expected him to to be wearing his smug Yeah-I-still-got-it face, the way he had after last week's kiss, but he looked just as stunned as she felt. Probably had figured humans couldn’t do it, she supposed. Apparently her tiny little human brain was capable of more than he'd imagined.
“Educational?” he echoed blankly.
She nodded. “Regarding the mating habits of Gallifreyans,” she said. “I reckon that book might make a bit more sense now.”
“Yeah.” He swallowed audibly. “Think it might, at that.”
"Red," she said in a thoughtful tone, "is a very sexy colour. I really, really like red. In fact, I don't think five pages is nearly enough to describe it."
He looked at her for a long moment, and then his mouth curved, and the corners of his eyes crinkled.
"When you're done with that book," he said, "I think I'd like to read it again."
"Forget it, Martian." She grinned at him. "This one's going on my keeper shelf."