NEW TERRITORY

The Doctor quickly entered the room, dusting off his green velvet jacket and running a hand through his silver hair to shake out the dirt and dust before looking around at the small accommodations. 'Sorry about that, Sarah,' he said softly as he glanced back towards his companion. 'It appears that dust may have ruined your clothes.' He slipped off his jacket and started poking at the holes that peppered the garment.

She followed him into the room, also dusting herself off. She took off her jacket and looked at the shredded fabric, then glanced down at the tears in her trousers. 'Well, I suppose it could be worse. It could be acid rain or toxic snow or something that literally ate them away. Somehow, a few rips and tears from an alien dust storm, well it's certainly different.' She walked over and looked out the small window overlooking what would, under clearer circumstances be a gorgeous, alien landscape. Or at least that's what the Doctor had promised her.

The Doctor came over to stand behind her and reached out to put his hands on her shoulders. He leaned forward, his voice warm and teasing against her ear. 'You know, Sarah, the view from here would normally be one of the most spectacular in the known universe.'

'I suppose I'm just going to have to take your word for it, now won't I, Doctor?' she replied as she looked over her shoulder and gave him a smile.

The look on his face was almost a pout. 'Well, if you don't believe me, Sarah Jane.' He turned away from her.

Sarah turned and regarded him for only a second before tentatively reaching out and putting a hand on his arm. 'I believe you, Doctor.' Her voice was soft, hesitant. 'It just seems that the TARDIS is well, a touch unreliable.'

The Doctor only snorted in response before stepping away from her. He tossed his jacket across the bed, then walked over and flopped down into a nearby chair, crossing his legs and leaning his elbow on the arm of the chair. He rested his chin in the palm of his hand, staring blankly ahead.

Sarah bit her bottom lip and went back to looking out the window. After a moment, she closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the windowpane. The silence in the room was palpable. Turning her head, she looked back at where the Doctor still stared off in the distance. She wondered slightly what he was thinking.

The Doctor could feel Sarah's eyes on him, but he didn't turn to look at her. 'What's on your mind, Sarah?'

'You think I don't appreciate all you're trying to show me.'

'I could show you the universe, Sarah Jane.' His soft voice answered her question.

There was a charged atmosphere to the room. Sarah wasn't sure whether it was the direction their conversation seemed headed in, or something in the atmosphere of the planet. For the first time, she took a good look around the room. It was small, but inviting. Two small, straight-backed chairs were tucked up underneath a tiny table. The Doctor sat in the one armchair, and across the room was a double bed.

'Doctor,' Sarah asked, unconsciously squeezing the jacket she still held in one hand. 'How long are we staying here?'

'Ready to go home already?' He sighed, still not looking at her. 'I don't know. That dust storm could last hours, even days. These things are unpredictable at best.'

Sarah walked over and knelt next to the chair, but the Doctor still didn't turn towards her. 'That's not what I meant,' she said softly. She reached out and put her free hand on his arm. 'I am grateful, Doctor.' At that, he finally turned towards her. 'Never doubt that.'

The Doctor reached out and tentatively put his hand against Sarah's cheek, his thumb lightly grazing her cheek. 'It's not that my dear, it's just I fear you're correct.' He took a deep breath. 'The TARDIS has apparently decided that she has a better notion of where we should go than I do.' He stood up abruptly, the transition jolting to Sarah. He crossed to the window and watched the dust blow around. Absently, he reached up and rubbed the back of his neck. He turned back to Sarah as she stood up and draped her torn jacket across the back of the chair. 'Well, we won't be able to make it back to the TARDIS until that storm stops.'

'The locals seemed nice enough when we arrived.' She gestured around the room. 'They did give a decent place to stay, at least. Although, it is rather small.'

He glanced back at her. 'They thought this was appropriately cosy.'

'Cosy?'

Sarah couldn't quite put a finger on how to describe the Doctor's smile when he looked at her. 'Oh come on, Sarah Jane, didn't you see the look they gave us when we got here?'

Sarah shrugged. 'Not especially.'

'Sarah Jane Smith,' the Doctor chided. 'I expected your journalistic instincts to have picked up on those not so subtle nuances.'

'The locals are blue. With scales and three eyes. Pardon me that I wasn't good at reading their expressions.'

The Doctor laughed. 'They obviously thought we were together.'

Sarah lifted an eyebrow. 'Together? As in together?' Her voice squeaked at the last word, leaving no doubt as to the suggested meaning of the word.

'Is it that far of a stretch?' The Doctor winked.

She took a physical step back. She'd never seen the Doctor wink before. She stumbled over her words. 'I, no, I suppose not. We're both human, well, human enough appearing anyway.' Her stomach tied itself in knots as she watched him take a step towards her. Even with the heels she was wearing, she suddenly was acutely aware of their height difference and felt very small, comparatively speaking. She tried to make light of the situation. 'Although, if you are truly as old as you say, that would make us quite the May to December fling.'

The Doctor reached out to take her hands in his. 'Would that be a problem?' He watched as Sarah's eyes widened. 'For appearances' sake, I mean. Just so we don't upset the locals, of course.'

'For appearances' sake,' she repeated softly.

He smoothed down her hair before bringing his hand to cup her cheek. 'I wouldn't want to do anything to make you uncomfortable.' He allowed his thumb to linger across her cheekbone. 'Are you uncomfortable, Sarah?'

She barely shook her head. He leaned his head down as if he would kiss her cheek. Sarah closed her eyes, not knowing what to expect. Instead of a kiss, her eyes flew open as he whispered in her ear. 'We're being watched.'

'In other words, play along,' she whispered back, even as she reached up to run a hand through his hair.

He smiled. 'Only until I can get across the room and deactivate the camera with the sonic screwdriver.' He took her hands in his and walked backwards, pulling her with him, until his back hit the wall and he knew they were outside of the camera's range. 'Stay close to me,' he smiled, letting go of her hands to reach into his pocket and grab the sonic. Quickly adjusting the setting, he aimed it at the tiny pinhole camera and deactivated it.

He stepped away from Sarah and the wall, peering over into the now defunct camera. 'That should give them something to stew over for a bit.'

Sarah released the breath she didn't even realise she was holding. 'So, all of that was for their benefit. Why would they equip the room with a camera?'

'Well my dear Sarah, there are two very good reasons. One, they're a voyeuristic society that loves living vicariously through the tourist population that comes to see the views from the mountains.' The Doctor stopped before giving her the second reason, turning back and walking towards the window to see whether the dust storm continued.

Sarah followed, coming to a stop just behind him. She frowned as she saw the dust continuing to blow around, blocking any sort of view. 'And the second reason?'

He rubbed his chin with a finger, obviously lost in thought. 'Well,' he finally started. 'They're good at picking up on those subtle nuances.'

Sarah put her hands on her hips, frustration building at his insistence on dancing around the subject. 'Meaning?'

'Their chemical receptors are second to none in this part of the galaxy.'

'Chemical receptors,' she repeated. 'You mean like pheromones?'

'Yes, exactly.' He cleared his throat and stepped away, turning so he wasn't facing her. 'Meaning, at least one, if not both of us are, well, you know.' He focused his gaze on the floor.

Sarah couldn't stop the blush that crept up her cheeks. 'Care to explain that one more, Doctor?'

'I shouldn't like to, no,' he admitted freely.

She walked over and put a hand on his arm, urging him to turn towards her. When he did, it was obvious he was as embarrassed as she was. 'There are worse things,' her voice was quiet, her eyes hoping for reassurances that she was sure she'd never get.

The Doctor reached up and held her cheeks between his hands. 'Indeed there are,' he responded at a whisper to match hers. He leaned in and gently kissed her forehead before pulling back and looking into her eyes. 'This would be embarking on new territory.'

Sarah smiled. 'Everything everyday is new territory with you.'

He laughed as his hands slid down to her upper arms, some of the tension broken. 'So it is, Sarah Jane, so it is.'

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