Is it the boobs he thinks need covering up, or just the legs? she wondered. Honestly, just ‘cause he doesn’t want to look doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to show off the goods to somebody who might appreciate them.
Peri filed her concerns away in the back of her mind, promising herself she’d discuss the matter with the TARDIS’s resident arbiter of propriety later.
Momentarily forgetting the excessive length of her skirt, Peri attempted to stride forth confidently, and succeeded only in stumbling into the Doctor’s back.
“Ow,” she yelped.
The Doctor looked over his shoulder and down, frowning at her. “Pay attention, Peri!” he chastised her. “We don’t want to attract attention. Try to blend in as much as possible.”
For the umpteenth time since his regeneration, Peri tried to imagine a natural setting into which the Doctor’s chosen attire might blend. It made her head hurt.
At least he doesn’t have to wear a petticoat, she grumbled to herself.
Blinking in the brightness of the planet’s primary sun, Peri was thankful that they were visiting in the spring. She was certain the heat of dual suns at the height of summer would make the weight of modesty-enforcing garments unbearable.
Putting herself on autopilot again, Peri glanced around the busy marketplace.
Many women were out shopping, browsing through stores of cloth, iron ware, and ceramics. Standing near each, Peri noticed there was a man.
They’re practically hovering.
No sooner had she renewed her intention to stick to the Doctor like glue, when he turned abruptly. Peri had not anticipated the sudden change in course, and continued moving forward, crashing headlong into a young man who had stopped by a vegetable cart.
They both tumbled to the ground, and Peri gasped for breath as her dress’ built-in corseting pressed into her rib cage. Picking herself up as quickly as she could, Peri started apologizing.
“I’m so sorry. I must have tripped. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m new here.” A stream of excuses poured from her lips while a tiny voice in her head shouted ‘Crap crap crap’.
Regaining her composure, Peri flashed the stranger a smile and batted her eyelashes. She felt several sets of eyes on her as the young man stood up and brushed the dust off his clothes. He scowled at Peri.
“Where is your escort?” he demanded to know.
Peri looked around, but the Doctor was nowhere in sight. “Um, he’s, um, here somewhere,” she stammered.
Judging by his disapproving glare, Peri guessed he found her answer unsatisfactory. The stranger stepped forward and grasped her arm roughly.
“Hey!” she shouted in protest.
A second later she felt a hand on her other arm, firmly applying pressure, but not trying to pull her away. “Excuse me,” a familiar voice interjected. “Is there a problem here?”
It was the Doctor.
Whew. I’ll just be quiet and let him take care of this.
“Why is this woman not escorted?” the stranger demanded. He gave the Doctor his attention, but did not loosen his grip on Peri’s arm.
The Doctor smiled benevolently. “I am her escort. Apparently she’s a bit slow today.”
Peri felt heat rising to her cheeks, but said nothing. I can kick him later.
The stranger would not be dissuaded.
“And who are you to her?” he asked.
“She’s my companion. She is my responsibility,” the Doctor explained, his expression stern.
Peri felt a tiny shiver race up her spine. Ooooh, the scary Doctor voice. That’ll shut this jerk up.
“You are not a relative?” Peri noted that the man’s questions were beginning to sound like accusations.
“Noooo,” the Doctor said slowly. “Is that a problem?”
Peri sighed. Why couldn’t he have said he was my uncle? Oh yeah, I asked him to stop because it was creeping me out. Crud. We are in so much trouble.
Six hours later, the Doctor and Peri were unceremoniously shoved into a room, heavy wooden doors closed and barred behind them.
The Doctor looked down at his companion with dark, furious eyes. Peri stared back defiantly for a few seconds, before letting her gaze slide downward to the floor.
“Sorry,” she said meekly.
The Doctor sighed loudly.
“I know, I know. It’s my fault,” she added, sounding properly guilty.
Peri was relieved when a subsequent sigh was less emphatic. Almost forgiven.
“Hey, look on the bright side,” she said, trying to be upbeat. “This is nicer than a lot of places we’ve spent the night.”
The Doctor shook his head and moved away from the door. He removed his jacket and laid it over the back of high-backed, upholstered chair and proceeded to sit down. Eyes closed, he appeared to be resting.
Peri shrugged and made a tour of the beautifully decorated room. The chandelier that hung from the vaulted ceiling looked like wrought iron and had multi-colored crystals hanging around the lamps. Heavy tapestries adorned the walls, and the dark wood reminded Peri of cherry.
At the center of the room, on a dais, was an enormous four-poster bed. Draped by scarves, and covered with pillows of various sizes, it was too much of a temptation to resist. Peri jogged up the few stairs to the platform and threw herself across the bed, making a “Whuff!” sound as air was forced from beneath the covers.
“Oh yeah — down comforter,” she muttered with her face buried in a satin pillow.
As she rolled from one side of the bed to the other, Peri noticed a fruit basket and a bottle of wine on the nightstand. She crawled to the edge of the footboard.
“Hey, Doctor, they have bananas. Well, they look like bananas.” Peri grabbed a yellow-green fruit and flung it in his general direction.
The Doctor’s lids fluttered and his left hand shot out and snatched the projectile from the air without turning his head.
“So close,” she whispered. Then, addressing him directly, she pleaded, “C’mon, Doctor. Stop giving me the silent treatment. I said I was sorry, and you have to admit this is the nicest prison cell we’ve ever seen.”
The Doctor focused on the banana-like fruit, which he proceeded to peel and eat. “This isn’t a jail, Peri. We’re in the rooms reserved for guests of the high priest.”
Peri giggled. “Sooo, are we really married now?” she asked sweetly.
A peel sailed through the air and landed on her head with a “Thwap”.
“What do you think?” the Doctor asked. His tone indicated that he was not amused.
Peri guessed he was only mildly annoyed by her impertinent question. She wiped fruit residue off her forehead.
“I figure since we were coerced into pledging ourselves to one another in the sight of a god neither of us believe in I would say no, we’re not.”
That earned her a smile. “If you had it all figured out, why’d you ask?”
Peri grinned. “I thought it might make you feel better to yell at me. Besides I was gonna divorce you and take half the TARDIS.”
The Doctor made a huffing sound. “I think not. My TARDIS is not ‘property in common’.”
Rising to his feet, the Doctor scanned the room. “Besides,” he said, as he turned his attention to the windows. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I knew this was a patriarchal society. I'm afraid I hadn’t counted on it becoming more restrictive over the last century or two thanks to religious zealots. I thought having a public escort would be adequate. I didn't anticipate the restriction to a relative or spouse.”
“And I had to bump into the high priest’s son,” Peri said.
“Yes, that was a spectacular bit of luck,” the Doctor agreed sarcastically.
The Doctor attempted to open one window after another, but they were all stuck shut.
Peri rolled off the bed and sorted through the fruit, selecting something pear-like. “Anyway, it’s going to be all right,” she said between bites. “We made it through the boring ceremony, so we just have to stay the night here and then we’re free to go like the high priest said.”
An inspection of the window frames revealed that they were all quite solid. “You do realize why we were invited to stay the night?” the Doctor asked smoothly.
Peri chuckled. “Oh! I suppose they expect us to do it.”
“Why must you be so crude?”
“Fine. Consummate the marriage,” she said, temporarily adopting the Doctor’s accent.
“Try that again, but don’t roll your eyes,” he suggested.
“Yeah, yeah — so we have some fruit, a little bit of wine, sleep in this awesome bed and in the morning I’ll muss my hair up and tell them what an animal you were. No problem.”
He stared at her, blinking slowly.
“I sense I have offended,” Peri said quickly. “Okay, I’ll tell them what a gentleman you were; tender, with nary a thought to you own pleasure.”
The Doctor cut her off. “They’re going to want proof, Peri,” he said gravely.
“Like what? Ohhhh, meaning I’m supposed to be a virgin…and…oh crap.”
Lips pressed into a thin smile, the Doctor watched the gravity of the situation sink in.
Peri tossed the half-eaten fruit over her shoulder. “We gotta get outta here,” she said nervously. Eyes wide, she jumped off the dais and began lifting the tapestries as if she were searching for something.
The Doctor looked at her with a bemused expression. “Peri, what are you doing?”
“Looking for secret passages,” she said, not stopping for a moment. “All castles have them, right?” As she the last strip of fabric slapped back against the wall, she turned to him, looking distraught. “I have been led astray by fairy tales and adventure movies.”
“Among other things,” he muttered under his breath.
Peri wheeled around to face him, shaking her finger angrily. “If this is about me not being a virgin on the night of our sham wedding you can stuff it!” Despite her indignation, Peri knew her face must be turning red.
The Doctor held up his hands in surrender. “It’s none of my business.”
Peri closed her eyes and pressed her fingers to her temples, trying to figure a way out of her current predicament. She had an unpleasant idea.
“Let’s be practical here,” she said finally. “There’s gotta be something in this room sharp enough to cut me. We’ll just nick my arm or something and we could pretend it was…”
“No,” the Doctor said swiftly.
“No,” he repeated firmly. He looked angry, but not at her. “I’m not letting you injure yourself to satisfy a medieval view of female chastity.”
Peri grinned. “Awww, my hero.”
He shrugged. “I’m not even certain they would be satisfied with that. It took all my persuasive ability to convince them they didn’t need to examine you before they shut us up in here.”
Peri shuddered at the thought. Ewww. Pawed by alien Amish.
“Listen,” the Doctor said, snapping his fingers to get her attention. “I’m sure I can get one of these windows open, but I need your help. They’re suspicious of us despite our compliance with their little wedding. If they find out that we’re not ‘doing it’, as you put it, we’ll have further offended their god. Then we really will be imprisoned.”
Peri nodded, understanding. “I get it. What do you need me to do?”
The Doctor cocked his head toward the bed. “Get comfortable and under the covers. If they come to check on us we can’t both be standing around looking like we’re trying to escape.”
“Which, of course, we are. Okay, but I’m leaving my slip on, being a shy virgin and all…don’t you laugh!”
As she undid the laces on her boots Peri spotted a flaw in the Doctor’s plan. “Um, Doctor, if they do burst in here what are you going to say you’re doing all the way across the room?”
The Doctor stopped trying to pry up the windowsill. “Er, taking a break?” he offered, looking very uncomfortable. “Look,I can’t work on the windows from all the way over there.”
Peri pulled the dress over her head and sat back down on the bed. “Omigod,that’s so much better,” she gasped. “Satin is so heavy. Well, take off your shoes at least. I don’t want them thinking you just ripped my clothes off and got to it.”
Briefly casting his eyes heavenward, the Doctor apparently decided against further discussion of the matter of undressing, and kicked off his shoes.
“Fine - there - shoes off. Happy?”
“Much better. Want some wine?” Peri uncorked the bottle and poured two glasses.
“Don’t get too relaxed,” the Doctor warned. “We are only pretending to enjoy their hospitality.”
“I was just thinking that I would probably be thirsty at break time,” she replied, ignoring his glower.
A few minutes later the Doctor succeeded in finding a loose board. “This is going to be loud,” he explained. “Could you possibly make some noise to cover the sound?”
Peri’s heart filled with mischievous glee “Ohhhhhh,” she moaned melodramatically. “Oh my God, you’re amazing! I never thought it would be like this!”
The board popped up, and he turned his head, eyes blazing.
“Hey, it seemed appropriate,” she said defensively.
“This entire situation should be listed in Webster’s under the definition of inappropriate,” he half-growled. Then he gripped another board. “If you wouldn’t mind being a touch less graphic this time, please.”
Peri gasped and squealed happily. The wood came away from the wall with a creak and Peri was treated to another scowl.
Covering her face with a pillow to stifle her giggles, Peri’s body shook with amusement.
“You are completely freaked out by this, aren’t you?” she asked finally.
“Vexed is more like it. You’re enjoying yourself far too much. Okay, I’m going to have to get up here…” The explanation trailed off as the Doctor climbed up onto the sill and tried the window again. It shifted with a loud creaking noise. Peri piped up to cover the sound.
“Yes- yes- like that. Are they all this big where come from?!”
The Doctor lost his balance and fell to the floor with a loud crash. Peri motioned for him to hurry and get over to the bed. The Doctor grabbed his coat from the chair and quickly spread it over the damaged sill before scooting under the covers next to Peri. They sat side-by-side, bodies tensed, waiting to hear the bar being lifted from the outside.
When no one burst through the doors, Peri punched him on the arm. “Great! Now they think we’re acrobats.”
“Oh! Now you care what people think?” he hissed.
“Don’t get huffy with me. You said to make noise. I’m making this up as I go along. Maybe if you weren’t such a prude…”
“I am not a prude!” he protested, scooting off the edge of the bed. He managed to get his leg tangled in the sheets and almost fell down the stairs.
Peri needled him further. “Oh yeah? Remember that time I tripped over your legs when you were working on the TARDIS? My skirt flew up - you looked like a scared rabbit. Started swearing and waving your arms…” Peri did her mime impression of the flustered Doctor. “…acting like you haven’t seen women’s underwear since they started cutting them above the knee!”
Wide-eyed, the Doctor’s jaw dropped. He disengaged himself from the sheets and regained his bearings. “When and where I have last seen women’s undergarments is none of your business!” he sputtered. Then, waving his arms above his head as Peri had moments before, he insisted, “We are not having this conversation.”
Peri crossed her arms and flopped backward against the pillows. “Fine.”
Barely five minutes later, unable to stand the silence, Peri asked, “Could we please talk about this?” She hoped he wouldn’t hear the tremor in her voice.
The Doctor continued fiddling with the woodwork. “About what?”
Peri’s face felt hot again and she clenched her fists to keep from yelling. “Your ridiculous avoidance the whole topic of sex. I don’t want details, just a little background information. I’m curious. It’s normal. After all, we do live together.”
“Ow,” the Doctor grimaced as a large splinter lodged itself under his fingernail.
“Come here,” Peri insisted. She got off the bed and sat on the top step. Reluctantly the Doctor sat next to her and allowed her to fuss over him. Rummaging through her discarded clothing, Peri produced a pair of tweezers. In response to his surprised look, she explained, “Hey, you never know when something might need to be tweezed. Though I probably should swap it for a set of burglar’s tools.”
Once the splinter was removed, Peri held onto the Doctor’s hand tightly. “Just tell me,” she pleaded.
“Tell you what?” he seemed puzzled.
“Tell me you do it — that you have done it,” she said, knowing she was turning several shades of crimson.
“Why do you care?” His voice was gentle, but strong, giving nothing away.
“I don’t. I don’t usually anyway. Look, I love you to death, Doctor. I really do. But not like that.”
Peri felt her lower lip tremble, which stopped when the Doctor put an arm around her shoulders and gave her a reassuring squeeze. Peri continued. “But if this goes badly, and we…we have to, you know. It would be easier for me if I knew what to expect.”
The Doctor shook his head lightly and lifted her chin so her eyes met his. “No one is going to have to do anything. I would never allow it to get that far.”
Peri heaved a sigh of relief and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just got scared for a minute. If we did - you know…do that - it’d change things forever. I just know you wouldn’t look at me the same again, and you’re my best friend.”
The Doctor smiled, clearly touched by her affection. “As you are mine, Peri. Don’t worry. It’ll be all right. May I get back to that window so we can go home?”
She released her hold on him. “Okay.”
Using Peri’s tweezers, the Doctor managed to pry out a few troublesome nails that prevented the window sash from being fully raised.
Peri piped up again. “So, you have done it, right?”
His resolve crumbled. “Oh, for crying out loud, yes,” he admitted finally. “Peri, I’m 800 years old. What are the odds of holding out that long?”
“Pretty slim, but if anyone could do it it’d be you.”
“Thank you, er, hey! What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you are so a prude, Doctor. I’ve seen the ladies make eyes at you and I know you know they’re doing it too. Either you have the resolve of a monk or…” Peri trailed off, her eyes getting very wide. “Oh!” she said suddenly.
The Doctor gently banged his forehead against the window frame. “No, Peri. Just…no. I’m simply not...flirtatious. This time around, anyway.”
“Your last self wasn’t exactly either,” Peri said. “But he was so damn cute.”
“Oh, you’re cute too - handsome, actually,” Peri assured him. “So I just wondered if maybe…when you send me off to do my own thing sometimes…you ever take a little time for…recreation.”
Looking very tired, the Doctor was forced to turn away from the window and give her his full attention once more. “And if I did, why I would tell you, now or ever? Listen, Peri. When you get to be as old as I am, some biological drives are weaker than others. I simply don’t need that type of interaction at this point in my life.”
“But if you did, you could — you would?”
“Possibly. Can we please drop this now?”
Sensing she had pushed about as far as she could, Peri relented. “Yeah, sure. You know, I’m starting to get sleepy. Are you about done over there?”
The Doctor surveyed his handiwork. “Yes, yes, I believe I am. A few good kicks and we should be able to get out. Er, we will need one more distracting outburst on your part.”
“Can do, Doctor. Sheesh, if we really were ‘consummating’ this long I’d have to pretend I couldn’t walk tomorrow.”
“Okay, okay.” Peri stood up on the bed and began bouncing on the mattress, whooping loudly.
The Doctor gave the window frame a swift kick and the wood splintered.
“More, you alien stud!” Peri shouted triumphantly.
Another sharp tug and the window was open a crack.
“God, you’re so good! Oooohhhhhh, Smarnifaca!”
The Doctor tore the window open and snapped his head around to stare at Peri, his face a mask of utter shock. “What did you just say?” he asked, incredulous.
Peri pointed at the window. “Woo-hoo! Let’s get outta here.” She slipped on her shoes and shimmied into her dress as fast as she could. “Argh!” she cried, “I hate this thing. Ah, got it. Let’s go.”
The Doctor continued staring as he retrieved his own shoes.
When Peri wriggled through the window and out onto the ledge, the Doctor asked her again, “What did you just say?”
Peri feigned ignorance. “What? When?”
The Doctor swung his legs out over the ledge and jumped the short distance to the ground. He held out his arms and motioned for Peri to jump to him. “You know when,” he snarled.
“Oh, that,” Peri said dismissively. “Just a word I picked up someplace.” She leapt into the Doctor's arms, knocking him over backwards.
They picked themselves up and made their way through the silent town toward the TARDIS.
The Doctor squeezed Peri’s arm tightly, insisting, “No, no, you didn’t just pick it up. You said a word that, despite your botched pronunciation and horrid accent, I still recognize as a word you should not know. Where did you hear it?”
Peri snorted. “Is this really the best time discuss my vocabulary? I probably heard you say it while you were working on the TARDIS. I know you curse like a sailor, but the TARDIS never translates Gallifreyan for me.”
The Doctor scanned the main square, making certain there was no one present to raise an alarm. “It’s not a curse,” he explained. “It is, however, Gallifreyan. And I am certain that I have never ever said that word to you.”
Peri threw her hands in the air. “Fine then. Why don’t you just tell me what the big, bad word means?”
The Doctor’s nose wrinkled as if the word had a foul odor.“It translates poorly. Suffice it to say it is a crude sexual term that would not come up in casual conversation.”
He stopped suddenly which casued Peri to trip and fall against him yet again. “Where?” he asked.
Peri opened her mouth, then shut it again, unable to think of a suitable excuse.
“Where?” he repeated himself. “We’re not going another step until you tell me.”
Peri rolled her eyes and stomped her foot. “You wanna know where? Fine! It was on that one planet where we were there for that festival- you know the moon and stars thingy. Can we please continue this conversation inside the TARDIS where we’re safe?”
Seemingly appeased, the Doctor nodded and moved forward again.
“So I was not the only Time Lord in attendance,” he mused.
Peri giggled nervously. “Nope.” Peri squeaked as the Doctor unlocked the TARDIS and dragged her inside.
“You are an intergalactic hussy,” he said with certainty, closing the doors behind them and preparing for dematerialization.
“Am not!” Peri defended herself, fists pressed against her hips.
“Are too! Who?”
Peri fumed. “Oh, that is so none of your business.”
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed.
Peri smirked. He knows I’m right, but he’s still damn curious.
“True,” he admitted reluctantly. Then, adopting a concerned manner, he said, “I was just worried.”
Peri looked suspicious. “Why?”
“It isn’t as easy as it looks,” the Doctor informed her. “There are… consequences to…being with one of us in that way.”
Peri brushed him off. “Spare me the lecture about alien STDs. You gave me the pamphlet before you regenerated, remember? It was months ago, and I’m fine.”
If the Doctor was disappointed that his scare tactics hadn’t worked, he didn’t let it show. “You’re fortunate. Actually, Peri, depending on his age you could have been seriously hurt.”
Peri grinned wickedly. “Hurt? No, but I died,” she said chuckling. “About five times…and I’m pretty sure I was deaf for at least twenty-minutes.”
The Doctor looked appalled.
Peri laughed out loud. “Anyway, he said he was on break after academy graduation or something, so that’s like young, right?”
“Yes, rather. I’m surprised I didn’t notice him hanging around.”
“I believe I’ve pointed out that you’re fairly oblivious when it comes to that sort of thing.”
No longer making an effort to disguise his curiousity, the Doctor inquired,“Which Academy?”
Peri giggled. “He had a few choice words about you Pry…Pyramid…”
“Prydonians,” the Doctor said with pride. “I’ll have you know that we, at least, are gentlemen.”
“He was a gentleman too…at least until I didn't want him to be."
“Stop it. So if you knew…”
Peri smiled. “If I knew for a fact Time Lords had sex, why was I bugging you all night?” She stopped giggling for a moment and tried to calm him down. “Look, I really was scared for a little bit, and I have been curious about you in particular. Mostly it was just in case...”
“No chance,” the Doctor said firmly.
“I know,” she replied, blushing slightly. “Could I still get a post-harrowing adventure hug…even though I’m a hussy and all?” She smiled shyly. "Besides, what do you care about some frat boy? I'm still your companion, right?"
Without hesitation the Doctor opened his arms to her. “Of course, but from now on I’m keeping an eye on you.”
Peri stepped into his arms and hugged him affectionately. “I thought you said it was none of your business.”
“Oh, it’s not, but I can’t have you being a bad influence on young Time Lords.”