"Doctor, what are you doing?"

He sheepishly removed his hand from Tegan's stomach. "Sorry, I must have fallen asleep," he muttered.

She shrugged, turned over onto her front and resumed sunbathing.

The Doctor lay back with a sigh and closed his eyes.

It took thirty seconds for Tegan to crack an eye open in the Doctor's direction, another twenty to go over again what she had caught him doing, ten more seconds to shake her head in puzzlement at *why* the Doctor would have had a hand on her stomach and finally only five more seconds to realize she instantly regretted her reaction.

She turned her head to gaze in disbelief at the Time Lord whose face was now completely concealed underneath his hat except for his mouth and chin. Asleep? Asleep!? She hardly believed it. Lifting herself up on an elbow, she stared at him.

'Oh, great,' she thought in an exasperated moment to herself. 'Isn't that what you've wanted to happen for quite some time now?'

If she expected the Doctor to react to the sudden uneasy flutter in the pit of her stomach, she was sharply disappointed. After all, what had she expected? He was telepathic, but not that telepathic she reminded herself.

Still unsure what had really occurred, it seemed so - well, weird, she replayed it again in her mind, slower this time, so she could be sure to get it all.

'Oh - rabbits!' she snarled to herself. 'You've been waiting a long time for that to happen and what do you do when it does? You blow it! You gave up and when he does show some interest, it catches you completely off guard.'

Her shoulders sagged. She gazed longingly at his hands. They were crossed neatly over his stomach, his fingers unlaced, resting on top of each other. She could still feel their light and gentle touch on her bare stomach. She always watched the hands. You could tell a lot about a man by them. His were about average looking, but the way he moved them had always intrigued her. They always moved with a certainty over the TARDIS controls - though half the time the travelers never got to where they were trying to go. But his hands weren't rough-hewn and calloused like an average workers, or the long, slender type of an artist (his former body's had been like that). In fact, they puzzled her. They were the sort that were hard to pin down - nothing about them betrayed what he was really like inside. Perhaps she was judging them against the standards of human hands, and that was part of the problem right there. When she had finally figured it out, she had come to the strange conclusion that they were the hands of two distinct types of people: a lover's and, in a way, the hands of a family man, a provider, a protector. And then, like a flash it hit her. He didn't have a family to look after, to protect, to love, but he did have a universe.

Lately she had found herself gazing at them whenever he patted the TARDIS console affectionately, then her eyes would dart up to catch the facial expressions. Always a warm glow there, a young, fresh look, a smile in his voice - except whenever she put him on the defensive.

She bit her lip in a brief wave of regret. Her thoughts were distracted by his sigh, shoulders shifting, heaving with the extra intake of breath, a shifting to a more comfortable position as he settled down again.

'What did you expect when you always put him on the defensive?' a sharp little voice reminded her. 'Half the time you act cross at him and the other half you're complaining about things and situations either he can't help or can't explain. Why should he be anything but cool, distant? You're about as welcoming as a nagging little itch that gets scratched but never goes away.'

"Yeah," she said aloud by accident.

She tensed up for a second, but the Doctor didn't react. He wasn't asleep. As far as Tegan knew, he rarely slept - probably something in his alien, Gallifreyan biology that gave him more stamina that a human male would have. Stamina. Her mind stuck on the word. She wondered what else he would have stamina in…

Her hand was halfway across the space that divided them, hovering near his chest, when she caught herself. Don't, Tegan Jovanka. Don't if you know what's good for you.

But he'd started it. Those hands, those warm, gentle-looking hands had rested on her bare skin only lightly, but they had sent a tingle through her skin, despite his cooler metabolism. Was it their contrast against the sun's warmth? Was it some feelings for her she secretly wished he possessed? Why in all the stars hadn't she lain still, pretended to be asleep, invited the touch, encouraged it with a little sigh, willed those fingers to explore the smoothness of her skin, the curves of her body, spreading that tingling touch to who knew where? Cause that just isn't me to do that, that's why, she thought bitterly.

What had made him touch her?

What indeed? There really was only one way to find out, she supposed. The mystery was driving her crazy.

She looked around. Everyone else was in the Tardis, which he had parked at the edge of the beach. Good. Free to do so without observation, her gaze traveled down his body and noticed the ebbing but damning evidence that even if he had been sleeping, he had been in the throes of some interesting dreams. She smiled. 'I've caught you, my oh-so-distant Doctor. Unapproachable Time Lord, huh, what an act!'


An answer from under the hat. "Mmmm?"

He wasn't going to ignore her - not this time. He felt her grasp his hand and draw it to her, resting, once again on the smooth, sun-warmed skin of Tegan's stomach. He removed his hat with the other hand and sat part way up. She met his warm, brown gaze of surprise unflinchingly, though she felt the warmth of a blush rise to her cheeks. "Doctor - forget I asked."

"Sorry?" He removed his hand and used the arm to prop himself up in the sand, gazing at her.

"Forget when I asked what you were doing. Forget it, forget I asked," she repeated patiently, trying not to sound her usual, techy self. She took his left hand and held it in hers, admiring it. "You have a nice touch," she replied. "Strong hands. I imagine they are quite gentle." She placed the hand again on her stomach, trying to capture his gaze with hers, willing him not to flinch back. "Please. Don't stop. It's all right."

For an instant his eyes betrayed his hesitation. She held his gaze with almost desperation. How do you get through to a man who isn't even human, she wondered. What touches their heart? Hearts?

His mouth opened, as if to protest. Her hand left his and touched his lips. "Shhh. No explanations. No apologies. I'm not china, or forbidden treasure."

The Time Lord nodded, closing his mouth. His eyes were unreadable now, still trying to decide what to do or how best to let her down, she supposed. Just let him make the moves, she thought quickly. Just give a little encouragement.

She felt his hand move, at first in a gentle, small circular motion. She had to fight not to shout with triumph. Instead she let out a little sigh of relief, smiling, letting him know she liked what he was doing.

He looked uncertain or awkward - Tegan couldn't decide which. His hand rose up then, fingers spread slightly, feeling the spaces between her ribs. His thumb brushed up against her rib just below her bikini top, just underneath her breast, and it sent a charge straight down through her torso. It was an innocent brush, but the mere fact that it was the Doctor doing it made it that much more exciting. The next touch wasn't so innocent, rubbing a little more firmly, his hand sliding over the spot again, but as it came back towards her center, the thumb swept out in an arc, brushing over her breast and the fingers angled upward to cup her. They stopped there and suddenly he was cradling the weight of her breast almost reverently in his hand.

Excitedly, Tegan searched his eyes for any change, any reaction mirroring her own. The uncertainty had faded, but so had the young, innocent face this new body always kept to the world. He had been a father, was a grandfather, but his gaze wasn't that of an experienced male, either. It was more like a man trying to decide if it was prudent to proceed any further.

His eyes lifted to hers. So unreadable, they were, but she found that exciting. At last a decision was made. He had shifted closer to her - almost close enough that if she moved just a fraction closer, their lips would touch. Suddenly, she wanted that very, very badly, but her body wouldn't work to get her there. All she could manage was a small, dry sound from the depths of her throat.

Suddenly it frightened her - her seeming paralysis, and then the Time Lord's hand left her breast, gliding down her torso, while his other hand came up behind her back, fingers spread across, between her shoulder blades. It left a maddening tingle, a warmth that penetrated her body, along with the warm sunshine, only this warmth spread a passionate desire through her that made her fireworks dance in her vision, the soft pop! of them audible to her ears.

She wasn't in control anymore and she could only watch helplessly as his lips brushed hers, at first as light as a butterfly's wings, then a gentle, but firmer pressure. It wasn't fair - it wasn't - natural. Tegan wasn't a teenager in her first experience at foreplay…he was doing something to her nervous system, heightening it, teasing it until it became an unbearable desire and all she could do was let him do what he would to her.

Maybe he sensed it, for she felt him move back, thank goodness. She opened her eyes, wondering when she had closed them, and realized he was slowly lowering her to the sand. He stopped halfway. "Tegan - do you want this?" he asked softly. "You must be sure you want this."

The human woman nodded. "Yes, but what are you doing?" was all she could ask and it struck her absurdly funny that that was the phrase that had started this whole thing.

"It's not uncomfortable, is it?" he asked.

"No!" she swallowed, feeling truly giddy with desire, but also faint. It must be the heat. "No," she repeated softer. "But what - "

He kissed her again, and she thought for a microsecond she must have fainted, for she opened her eyes and didn't know for that instant where she was. "What - ?" she picked up on the unfinished train of thought without realizing it.

"You humans are so fragile," he said, smiling. "I might have to lower your brain activity before we do what I think you want us to do. I don't think your nervous system can stand - "

"I can stand anything you can throw at - at me, Doc," she said, trying to sound like her irritable old self, if only to grasp something familiar.

He nodded minutely, continuing to lean her back. She felt his maddeningly soft and gentle touch over her pelvis, then her hips, rotating around to her thighs. It was almost more than she could stand, her senses painfully acute. He reached the inside of her thighs and she could barely stand it. She tugged almost desperately at his shirt collar, undoing it, kissing his throat. "Oh, God," she groaned. What was he doing to her that made the sensations seem a hundred times more erotic and irresistible than should be normal...

His hand came back up, over her bikini bottoms. Suddenly she wanted him to stop, panicking. It was too much, too good. His fingers dipped slowly, but relentlessly beneath the elastic. Her legs parted slightly, aching and no longer under her control. All for him. Anything he wanted. Anything. She bit her lip to keep from screaming when he brushed the downy pubic hair. Fingers parted the lips and tenderly stroked the bud of sensitive flesh there as his tongue stroked the inside of her mouth, detouring the mounting scream of pleasure. Suddenly her mouth went slack under his. He lifted from her, still stroking her, already damp with her body's moist reaction to him.

"Tegan," he whispered, patting the side of her cheek, enforcing it with a mild mental jolt. She groaned, coming back to consciousness. Just as she reached it, there was a noise from the direction of the TARDIS.

"I will NOT wear that, that, THING!" Nyssa was yelling. She was striding towards Tegan and the Doctor, but was too angry to register that her companion was in his arms before the two disentangled themselves. The Trakken had something small and brightly colored in her hand.

"And why not?" Turlough followed up, hands spread out in a helpless gesture, also holding something of a similar color.

She stopped so fast the boy bumped into her, making her mood even more foul. "BECAUSE," she punctuated, holding up the piece of fabric she was carrying. "IT'S TOO SMALL!" Looking at the Doctor and Tegan, who by now had swiftly repositioned themselves into innocent positions, Nyssa held it up for inspection.

The Doctor frowned. "That is a *tad* small for a bathing suit, don't you think, Turlough?"

Tegan smirked. The boy fumed at her reaction and the Time Lord's words. "It's no smaller than what Tegan is wearing," Turlough complained defensively.

"No smaller?!" Nyssa laughed. "It's smaller than my underwear!"

By now Tegan had gotten up and took the bikini top from him. She held it out in front of him. 'It's not that small - " he began.

"HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?!" Nyssa nearly wailed.

"Well, I wouldn't," he said, trying to sound calm. "But - "

"Well, if you feel THAT way about it, Turlough," the Doctor said in that maddeningly amiable tone of his. "Why don't YOU wear it?"

"Oh, yes," Tegan agreed. "I think it's your color."

The three laughed. Turlough wasn't laughing. He grabbed the top from Tegan and sulked back towards the TARDIS.

Nyssa threw down the other microscopic piece of fabric and went off in the direction of the ocean. Tegan and the Doctor watched them go.

"Their timing stinks," the Australian sulked as soon as she was certain her female friend was out of earshot.

"Oh, I don't know," he said mildly.

Tegan opened her mouth to protest, but the Doctor laid his hands lightly on her shoulders in a placating gesture. "Tegan, we can't. At least not as far as you think you want to go. It'd burn out your nervous system. The experience would be too intense..."

"You're quite the egomaniac, aren't you?"

Instead of taking offense, his brown eyes searched her. "You know it's the truth," he insisted patiently. "You are attractive, and perhaps I can acclimate you in smaller steps to the experience..."

She put up a hand. "Maybe. Later - let me think about it - oh, rabbits! I just don't know, Doctor."

He turned her around, putting his arms around her waist. She rested her own arms over his. She felt comfortable there, safe. She really did trust him, though she rarely showed it. "It's okay. I can wait. We do have all the time in the world," he teased.

She smiled, fighting the urge to get in the last word.

He was, after all, absolutely right.


- 6 -