Author Notes: With thanks to lj user = "louiecat68" and to lj user="time_converges" for endless patience and insight, and also thanks to lj user = "Kgriess" for proofing. Beta by lj user="time_converges", I would be lost without her.

Nervous preamble about here: In addition to being written for the weekly challenge prompt complication at lj user="doctor_donna", this story comes as the most recent part of the .com/tag/courting universe, and as such is the timestamp story for the lovely lj user= "peachings".

The courting series picks up after the traumatic, events of Glint, where they are very close emotionally and Donna has come to trust the Doctor very deeply, but the undeniable sexual attraction dimension has to be developed very slowly, with the Doctor knowing implicitly to follow an old-fashioned courting model, not unlike his Gallifreyan tradition. But these stories are plot free, and as such, you don't need to read what comes before, and as some point I'd like to fill in more of the gaps as the story comes.


The Doctor pretended not to notice that her hands trembled very slightly as Donna touched him, but when her fingers moved to his face he pressed his lips into her palm and whispered to her that she was doing great.

Her eyes fastened on his. "Doctor, I… I'm not hurting you am I?"

"No, of course not! Not at all." He sat up slowly and her hands fell away, back to her lap. He reached for her and slipped his fingers into hers, entwining their hands together, not wanting her to stop touching him.

"Donna?"

"It's just… it feels like you are holding yourself very still, like you are biting your tongue, as if I am hurting you, and you said you would be very sensitive because… well because it's been so long since you…"

She stopped and sighed, no longer meeting his eyes but frowning instead at the duvet that was bunched around her hips.

"Donna, you're doing amazing things to me with your touches, I'm sensitive, yes, but not in a bad way, not at all." He tightened his grip on her hands. "Would you keep going? Please?"

She raised her face to his. In the muted light of the bedroom her eyes were crystal pools of blue, with that hint of gold in the center that had always reminded him of Gallifreyan women.

"Are you sure, Doctor?"

He nodded, and released her hands, lying back on the pillows, anticipation running through him. She began her gentle exploration again and his heartbeats thumped in his ears, she was driving him crazy with the tentative way she learned his body. Appreciative sighs escaped him and her delicate fingers paused.

"No, don't stop, I'm fine, please Donna."

He regarded her through half-closed eyelids and saw a tiny, tremulous smile grace her features, then she pressed her lips together as her hands drifted lower on his body. When she dipped daringly under the last piece of clothing he was wearing the sensations were so incredible he let out a cry and she withdrew her hand.

He grasped her wrist before she could pull away completely and opened his eyes to look at her.

"You know what I think?" she managed, with obvious effort. "I think you're scared too."

Her gaze flicked up to his then away again and he let her hand go as he struggled a little for enough composure to answer her question in the right way. He wasn't scared, and he suspected she knew that, this was just the only way she had of letting him know how she was feeling.

"It is… intense, yes. Overwhelming. What can I do to make this easier for you, Donna?"

"You sure you want to keep going?"

He nodded vehemently and then caught himself. "If you do, that is? We are just getting started though, do you need a break?"

She looked at him uncertainly. "We aren't going to go all the way this time, right? You said just some touching?"

"Just some touching," he echoed, comfortingly. "We can just work up to this slowly, it can be a lot of fun to take our time." He smiled at her and felt relief when she matched his grin.

"I want to keep going," she said, resolutely. "I want to learn what pleases you."

"Something tells me you're a quick study, Miss Noble."

Her eyes twinkled at him. "Well, it has been an awfully long observation period."

"Hmmm, definitely time for action," he agreed, reveling in the excitement building in the pit of his stomach as she teasingly walked her fingers across the bed in his direction.

He fell back on the bed with a gasp and closed his eyes as her hand smoothed over the front of his cotton shorts. He held as still as he could as she halted for a moment, a long agonizing moment, then she moved her hand again and the heightened pleasure spiking behind his eyes made his mind swirl. Helpless to stop himself he bucked under her hand and his eyes flew open.

He looked to her and saw her eyes wide, but not afraid. He knew he had to either take off his underwear now, before things got any more out of control down there, or he would need to be the one to take a break for a while. Quite a while. Long enough for a shower at least.

"Donna? Can I…?" He moved his hand to the waistband of his shorts and she sat back a little. He thought she was trying her utmost not to look nervous as he discarded the last piece of material separating her hand from his body.

He watched her watch him, thankful that she hadn't stopped him. The physiological differences between himself and a human man were an added complication that neither of them needed right now in these shy initial stages of establishing this new level of intimacy in their relationship, so he was glad it was nothing visibly obvious upon inspection. If she had kept going, however, it would have rapidly become a different story as he would have kept expanding under her caresses.

Given enough time he could bring it under better control, keep himself to normal human proportions. Mostly. He hoped. But for now it was better if he simply revealed himself before his arousal increased any further. If he was right, she wouldn't want to touch him without his shorts. Her shyness in this area of their relationship was surprising to him, but on some level it made sense, and he didn't want to push her too far too fast. But then they had reached something of an impasse and he knew she needed him to encourage her a little.

He reached out to stroke her arm below the sleeve of her cotton pajama top. "Okay, Donna?" he asked.

She nodded. "Blimey."

"What?" he asked, slightly panicked. "Not what you expected?"

"No… it's pretty much like a human one, eh?"

He tilted his head and scratched his neck. "Looks the same, right?" he dodged a direct answer.

"I suppose."

"What, Donna? Not like you to be so quiet. What's on your mind, love?"

She shrugged. "Nothing that makes sense."

"Go on," he encouraged her softly, wondering if he should be worried.

"Well, it's just, have you always had one of those? I mean, obviously, yes, you didn't just grow one or something just for me!"

"No, Donna, it has always been there, on this body," he said, keeping any tone out of his voice that might suggest how strange her question sounded. He waited, wondering where she was going with this.

"So… all this time… why haven't you, I mean, why didn't you want to do this sooner?"

"Sex?" he asked, bluntly and she reeled back ever so slightly, so subtle he almost wondered if he imagined it. "I did want to, but you didn't seem ready."

"No, I mean, even before we started getting involved like this."

Same answer he thought, but didn't say it. Instead he sat up and took her hand, relieved that he was finally starting to wilt a little, because she kept staring at it like it was going to bite her if she took her eye off it.

"Just because I have a penis, Donna, doesn't mean it's a primary driving force in my life."

"It's not, then? Cause that is different from a human bloke. And I've been in plenty of tight situations with you and that thing has never… uh, never made its presence felt. At least, y'know, not until we started sharing a bed."

She shifted uncomfortably and the Doctor decided it was time to put his shorts back on. They were already further along than he had hoped they would accomplish today, and he had to be mindful to go slowly with her.

"I have a simple answer for that," he offered, "bigger-on-the-inside trousers, they contain things in the same manner that the TARDIS does – no lumps or bumps or anything."

She stared at him. "Oh. Really?"

He nodded, and searched the bed for his shorts.

"But not your underwear, right? Or your pajama bottoms?"

"No, those are just normal." He pulled his shorts back into place.

"Are we done?" she asked. The Doctor couldn't detect any disappointment or relief in her voice and that worried him a little, she was so hard to read sometimes.

So he just asked her, "Do you want to be?"

She looked at him, her eyes round, and shook her head. "But I'm not sure I'm ready to, um, touch you anymore right now," she confessed.

"Donna, you know you don't have to do anything with me at all that you don't want to?" he asked, gently. "Is that why it bothers you, to see me naked? Does it create expectations in your mind?"

She shrugged lightly but something told him he was onto something, she wasn't denying his words.

"Let's stop for a while, okay?" He spoke calmly, and rubbed his hands on her shoulders. "Let's get out of this room for a bit."

He started to move to the edge of the bed and she grabbed his hand, bringing him back down beside her.

"Doctor, wait. I don't know what's wrong with me, I'm just being silly, I don't need a break, I'm not a basketcase, really, I'm not." She smiled at him lopsidedly.

He touched her hair, smiling back. "I never said you were a basketcase."

She leaned over and kissed him, taking her time. "I'm not scared, Doctor. I know I'm taking it slowly and that might seem like I'm not into it, but if anything, I'm enchanted," she murmured against his lips and his eyes slid closed, feeling more than a little enchanted himself.

"It has never been like this before for me," she continued, lying back and bringing him with her. "I've never been with someone with so much patience and control, and it makes me feel so amazing. And very safe. I know you will take care of me."

She pulled him down on top of her and moved her mouth to his throat, kissing and tasting him there until he groaned into her hair.

"I like this feeling, I don't want it to end," she whispered, her lips making his skin tingle and sending shivers down the length of his body. "So trust me," she said, dropping her head back and running her fingers through his hair until they were face to face, "I don't want a break right now."

"Donna," was all he could manage as she brought his lips to hers and claimed them again.

When he finally pulled back they were both out of breath and he slowly realized the afore-mentioned complication was making its presence very much felt, pressing against her thigh. He could see in her eyes that she was thinking about the same thing and he started to pull himself away from her.

"It's okay," she said, as she reached out to keep him close. He looked at her carefully but she didn't flinch, her eyes trained on his, trusting him. It was getting more and more difficult for him to remember she only wanted touching right now, and if he was right he thought she was beginning to waver on that point too.

"Maybe we could, um, go a little further?" she suggested, as if reading his thoughts, her voice somewhere between shy and suggestive.

He leaned back down and kissed the tip of her nose before lifting himself up and rolling off her with all the self-control he could muster.

"I think we should just stick to touching for now, Donna, we've got plenty of time."

"Oh, okay then."

Again, he couldn't tell if she was wistful or relieved, and if she was still hiding her feelings from him then he had definitely made the right decision. He closed his eyes, wrestling with his body to try to calm things down, when he felt her hand, hesitantly curling around his bicep.

"Are you alright?" she asked, and he nodded.

She moved her hand to trace tracks down his chest, tickling him a little. "Doctor, is this too much? Are you… I mean, don't you want more?"

He turned on his side and regarded her. "I want you very much, Donna, you know that, right?"

She nodded and then added, "I do, yeah." She sounded a little self-conscious and that satisfied him that she was very aware of his desire for her.

"Should I touch you some more?" she asked uncertainly, her hand moving lower on his body and he cleared his throat and took her hand.

"Remember what you said about not being ready to touch me again right now?"

"Yeah, I guess." She pouted a little, looking adorable. "Well, would you, um, would you touch me instead?" Her eyes widened at her own words and they looked at each other.

It took all of his restraint not to ask her several times if she was sure, or try to keep his own lust in check by talking her out of it. Instead he quietly replied, "Yes, I would."

She was lying on her side facing him and he brought his hand to her knee, running it slowly up her leg as she inhaled sharply. He cupped his palm around the curve of her hip and gentled his thumb over the smoothness of her skin. Her eyes had gone a little unfocused and her fingernails were digging into the sheets.

"It's alright," he whispered soothingly and moved his hand up to the slope of her waist, stroking her side before dipping under her pajama top and smoothing his palm over her skin. She was so warm, and so soft, her ribcage moving up and down with her now rapid breathing. His hand moved around her back, enjoying the feel of her as his body shifted closer and his lips sought hers.

She sighed and squirmed against him as he distracted her with kisses until he could fully discard her pajama top, leaving only her thin cotton shirt between his hands and her skin. When he laid her back completely she lifted her trembling hands to his chest. He brought his own hands up and covered hers, gently bringing her hands to her side.

"Relax, Donna, it's my turn to touch you."

She watched him and he asked her silently to trust him, his eyes holding hers. She seemed to acquiesce and he lifted one of her arms, cradling her hand in his palm and stroking the back of her hand with gentle fingers. He continued to caress her hand, then her wrist, moving up her arm very gradually, tracing circles, carefully pressing his thumbs into her muscles in the gentlest massage possible, until she was completely relaxed, a small, shy smile on her face. Then he turned equally tender attentions to her other arm, still taking his time.

Eventually his fingertips drifted across her collarbone, and he covered every inch of her skin there with feather-light patterns, keeping his movements slow and sensual as he replaced his fingers on her skin with his lips. He stayed a respectful distance above her breasts the entire time, noting with satisfaction that while her breath hitched as he kissed the delicate skin of her throat, she never went tense underneath him, even when his hands moved to her tummy, pushing under her shirt and repeating his caresses down there.

Then he rolled her over on her stomach with the greatest care and smoothed her hair to the side so he could kiss her neck. Donna fluttered a sigh of contentment and he smiled, the only outward sign he had given so far of the victory singing in his hearts at how much she was trusting him with her body, and how surprisingly calm she was.

She made no protest when he rolled up her vest on her body, revealing most of her back to him for his hands to smooth over the skin, so pale, with the tiniest blush of freckles.

She sucked her breath between her teeth when his fingers kneaded the muscles down her shoulders and he paused until she made a barely intelligible sound of pure pleasure urging him to continue.

And so he did, her soft sighs becoming moans of delight until she was so sensitive to his touch that the lightest scratch of his fingernails down her back left trails of goose bumps and made her gasp in delight. He spent the next hour learning what she liked, when to apply pressure and when to keep his touch gentler.

Eventually, and with obvious reluctance, she lifted up a little and he rolled her shirt back down her back so she could roll over without exposing herself to him. Throughout the entire time he had been caressing her he had kept his hands or his lips on her body at all times, feeling mesmerized by being so close with her. Now he sat back a little, and was surprised to find himself already missing her warmth.

Donna must have felt his absence too because she whimpered very faintly and reached for him. He lay beside her and wrapped her in his arms as she rubbed her cheek on his chest.

"That was heavenly…but I'm falling asleep."

She sounded, he was pleased with himself to hear, utterly blissed out.

"So sleep," he whispered, his fingertips tracing lazy circles on her lower back as she lay across him, more relaxed than he had ever felt her before. "It's alright, Donna, it's very late."

"But don't you want… I mean, you can touch me other places, if you like?" she mumbled.

"I just wanted to take another step for us tonight, love, and we have more than done that, trust me, I'm very happy, and we have time."

"Mmm, okay then."

Now he knew for sure what that tone was, sleepy as she sounded, there was an undeniable hint of disappointment and he grinned irrepressibly as he dropped a kiss into her hair and hummed her to sleep.