Instinctive Reactions to an Unsurprising Self-Admission
Rose stepped into his room with two mugs of tea and raised her eyebrows when he jumped up from his bed with a gasp.
"Rose! What are – what are you doing in here?"
She regarded him curiously. "Um, I just came in to ask you if you wanted a cuppa, that's all - " Walking forwards, Rose held out one of the mugs to him. He flinched and backed away from her, standing behind the other side of his bed. Bemused, she placed his tea on his bedside table instead, and took a sip of her own.
"You could've knocked!"
"Oh yeah, 'cos both us do that, don't we, when we're about to enter each other's rooms?" she chuckled wryly.
"Yes, well, maybe we should start! Imagine if I just strolled into your room while you were, I don't know, undressing or something!"
"Yeah, you've done that several times already, Doctor," she pointed out. She arched an eyebrow. "Were you undressing?"
A blush tainted his cheeks. "No. But that isn't the point!"
"You alright?" she asked him carefully, confused by his behaviour.
"Yes, I'm fine, thank you," he replied hotly, shifting from foot to foot. "Perfectly, absolutely, completely normal and fine, fit as a fiddle, although why a fiddle would be fit is anyone's guess but then again you humans do come up with funny sayings – like 'right as rain,' come on, what does that even mean? Rain can't be right. Although it can be left, if you're on the planet Adgora, but then that's more a sort of dewy precipitation than what you'd refer to as rain, so - "
Rose shook her head at his rambling, letting her eyes travel briefly over him whilst she waited for him to finish.
"Oh my god," she realised suddenly, her eyes widening in surprise. She pointed at him with her free hand. "You're aroused!"
"What? No! Can't be, couldn't possibly be, Time Lords didn't - "
"Get aroused, yes I know, so you've said," she laughed. "But look at you. You are."
"I – I can't, I - " he stammered, his face going red with embarrassment.
"It's alright, Doctor," Rose assured him. "Nothing to be ashamed of."
"Stop it," he said insistently. "I'm – I can't..."
"Doctor, you're giving off three proper obvious clues right now. Number one: dilated pupils. Number two: you were rambling in an even weirder way than usual just then, probably 'cos you couldn't stop thinking about sex. Number three: the most obvious hint of all..." She gestured to his groin. "So you might as well accept it," she shrugged. "What were you doing, anyway? Oh my god, were you watching porn? Did I interrupt you watching - "
"No! No, of course not!" he exclaimed. He swallowed thickly and looked down, waving a hand around manically. "I have utterly no comprehension of what this thinks it's doing!"
Rose giggled and took another sip of her tea, pondering his predicament. "Doctor, you have lived for nine centuries. Surely you've had an erection before."
"Well yes, but not spontaneously! You see, before I am physically able to have...to have..."
"Sex," Rose continued helpfully for him, when he seemed unable to say the word. She held her laughter in, knowing that she'd only embarrass him further if she called him out on his prudishness. Honestly, he'd had no trouble talking about Jack and his fifty-first century lifestyle once upon a time, but now, when it came to his own sex life, he couldn't even utter the word.
"Yes, that. Well, before that, I have to put myself in a state of mental concentration and such, and then there's this sort of – oh, it's difficult to explain, um...it's like a sort of dial that I twist – well, no, more a switch that I flick – metaphorically, of course. Inside my mind. If I want to. Well. Do that."
"So you control your own arousal," she nodded, understanding.
"Yes. So, I've...partaken in the activity over the years, for varying reasons, you know; curiosity, mainly, but also just sort of, joining in for lark or education or...well, in the case of my..." He met her eyes and watched her reaction carefully as he continued, "Marriage, it was an obligation."
"Right," she replied, giving nothing away.
He squinted at her for a moment, trying to ascertain her feelings on what he'd just told her, but she was stubbornly being a very closed book, continuing to sip at her tea, apparently unfazed. He hurriedly continued, "And then, when it comes to the actual act, after putting myself in that state of induced arousal, for me to actually enjoy it to its full capacity there has to be an element of the psychic link involved."
"Yeah, 'cos your people were telepathic, right? So...like, you need to feel completely satisfied or whatever by sharing your mind with someone, being close to them through a mental link?"
"Exactly," he murmured, feeling a shiver go down his spine as she spoke. He was inexplicably and immeasurably pleased that she understood this.
"So, in a way, you don't feel attracted to people in terms of, well, the way humans do? Like, physically..."
"Wellll, that's sort of a...grey area. You see, we weren't supposed to acknowledge such an attraction, no. But I always felt that was a bit...ridiculous, really. True, there was no biological imperative involved like there is with humans, because Time Lords didn't reproduce through sexual intercourse - " She gave him a triumphant grin as he said the words. He pulled a face at her in response then continued, "But even so, it's more the way we'd been trained to repress attraction to someone else than something innate in us that physically prohibited the feeling."
"So you were brought up being told that you shouldn't feel attraction? Then when would Time Lords actually be allowed to have sex? I mean, back in the old days when sex was synonymous with reproduction alone for most humans, as opposed to being – what's the word?"
"Recreational?" he suggested.
"Yeah, exactly. Well, back then, people were often sexually repressed yet expected to have sex when they were married for the explicit intention of making babies, right? When the reproduction element isn't factored in with the Time Lords, then where does sex fit into your society exactly?"
"Within marriage," he shrugged. "The psychic link can only be ignited through it. If you wanted that kind of bond, you got married, had sexual intercourse, and huzzah, you have the psychic link and feel complete or whatever."
"Huzzah?" Rose smirked.
"Yeah, never saying that again," he mumbled.
"Right. So sex outside marriage was a big no-no?"
She waggled her eyebrows at him. "But you abandoned such rules?"
"Weellll, like I said. Curiosity got the better of me. You know what I'm like."
Rose nodded. "I think I get it. You didn't crave the act itself, you just wanted to see what all the fuss was about," she smiled.
He chuckled despite the situation. "I suppose so, yeah."
"But you were married once, too."
"Yes," he confirmed softly.
"And you had the psychic link with your wife," she said; again, not a question, more a statement.
"So the psychic link thing...you can only have that with someone you - " She hesitated for a split second then continued, "Love?"
"No, not necessarily. I mean, that was sort of a by-product of it, really, not the cause. We had arranged marriages, you see, on Gallifrey."
"Right," Rose nodded, though both of them knew that he hadn't really answered her thinly veiled question.
She leant against his wardrobe, watching him thoughtfully. "So, just to be clear, first off, you have to make yourself aroused by flicking the switch inside your mind; then, to be properly satisfied, you have to have that psychic link thing."
"Yep. I mean, sex is still quite enjoyable without the link, but it's – a nice bonus, sort of thing, if that's involved too."
"Blimey, what a lot of effort. All us lot have to do is rub up against someone or see someone naked to get us randy, then it's just a matter of..." she laughed.
"Well," he sniffed haughtily. "Time Lords have a lot more self-control than you lot."
"Evidently," she smirked, glancing down again.
"Oi, stop looking at it!" he demanded.
"Why? Think you can ignore it that way?" Rose asked, arching an eyebrow. "You're gonna have to do something about it, Doctor."
"Rose, please, just..."
He sighed, and moved around the bedpost, sitting down heavily. "This is so embarrassing."
"Stop worrying about it," she told him calmly. She set her tea down on the bedside table and came and sat next to him at the foot of his bed. "Doctor, you don't have to let this be a problem, you know. Just accept it, deal with it, and move on."
"But it – it - "
"It what? Disgusts you? That you feel like this without you telling yourself to?"
He shook his head slightly. "No, it's not – I mean, it does feel...wrong, but it doesn't disgust me, I'm just – I'm just confused!" he sighed.
"Well, let's think it through. What were you doing, when it happened? Maybe you were distracted or something and accidently triggered your whatever-it-is that allows you to be aroused."
"You can't just accidently do something like that," he replied. "My mind's too complex, I wouldn't..."
"Okay, alright. So what were you doing? Were you thinking of anything or anyone in particular?"
"No, I was just - " he broke off abruptly, his eyes going wide. "No...no, no, it couldn't – no, wait, could it? No! No it couldn't have been, I always..." He jumped up, away from her, backing up towards the doorway. "Right, I'm just going to, um, go. You – er, enjoy your tea," He gestured to their mugs absently. "And I'll see you tomorrow."
"Woah, woah, wait a second," she called after him, following him out of his bedroom. "What's going on? What was it? What were you thinking of?"
"Please just leave it," he pleaded with her, as he backed down the corridor.
She couldn't help but smile. The urge to tease him was just too much. "Was it something you think I'd find really odd? Were you thinking of fixing the temporal flux capacitor or something? Is that it? Fixing your ship turns you on? 'Cos you needn't be embarrassed, Doctor, I've always known you and her have a special relationship," she grinned, still following him as he scampered away from her as quickly as he could.
"No, Rose, I was not thinking about the TARDIS, nor do I have the sort of feelings for my ship that you are implying," he said impatiently, going from room to room in an attempt to put as much distance between himself and Rose as possible.
"Where are you even going?" she asked, starting to jog to keep up with him. "Look, you can just say if you're going for a wan- "
"Rose!" he exclaimed, interrupting her. "Don't be crude!"
She rolled her eyes. "Listen, it's perfectly fine, you know. Perfectly normal."
"Hmph, for humans, maybe," she heard him scoff from around the corner. Then, his footsteps abruptly stopped, and she rounded the corner and caught up with him, stumbling into his back in surprise as he just stood there, completely still.
"Doctor?" she mumbled, steadying her balance and then moving around him to look at his face.
When she came into his field of vision he swallowed convulsively.
"What's wrong?" she asked, confused.
He stared at her with the strangest expression she'd ever seen him wear. It was that same old curiosity on his face as usual, mixed in with that awe he showcased on his features when he was looking at something spectacular, mixed in with something else entirely; an expression she'd not seen him ever make until earlier in the evening.
"Doctor, why are you staring at me as though I'm some sort of incomprehensible, awe-inspiring thing that you're lusting after?"
"Because you are," he replied instantly, before slamming his hand over his mouth. His eyes nearly popped of his head. "I didn't just say that," he mumbled against his hand, "Did I?"
"Yeah," she murmured shakily, not quite sure what to think. "Yeah, you did. Sorry."
"Oh." He dropped his hand.
She shifted awkwardly under his gaze. "Doctor?"
"Look, I know we're mates and everything, but..."
She bit her lip hesitantly for a moment, then ploughed on, "Okay, so this might be awkward, but I think it'll help. Do you want me to, um, talk you through it?"
His eyebrows drew together. "Talk me through it?"
"Yeah, like, teach you how human men..." she gestured to his lower half.
"Oh!" he squeaked. His mind boggled at her suggestion.
"'Cos I'm presuming you've not had cause to do that before, right?"
"Right. No, I...I haven't, no." Liar, the thought arose instantly. Liar.
Oh Rassilon. No. He couldn't lie to her. Then again, if he told her...oh blimey, she would punch him in the face if she knew.
"Doctor?" she said uncertainly, watching his conflicting thoughts play out on his face.
"Rose, I..." he hesitated. This confession was potentially life-threatening. Could he really do it? Or should he go with the earlier confession first? Because that first one was infinitely more romantic, even if the second one stemmed from it.
She grabbed his hand, leading him through the nearest door. They'd ended up in the library. Rose looked around, suppressing a smile. "Bet there are some books in here that'd be useful," she murmured.
"Not really," he murmured back. "I think manuals about this along with, er, erotic literature, are probably the only reading material the TARDIS library has not acquired."
"God, you're boring," Rose teased gently.
"It's just not usually part of my life, Rose," he whispered, afraid to speak too loudly. He didn't know why he felt he should keep his volume low; it certainly wasn't like he ever shut up when he entered this room usually. Countless nights he and Rose had spent together on the very sofa they were just about to sit on, him rambling on about this, that and the other. Her, falling asleep against his shoulder. Or sometimes, they read together, narrating different parts of the story. Oh, he loved those moments. When she'd curl into his side so that she could read her page, adapting her voice to the different characters just like he did.
But really, the best moments occurred when he read poetry to her, and she just sat there and absorbed it all; happy poetry, and she'd laugh against his chest as he looped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer; sad poetry, and sometimes she'd get these tears in her eyes, so overwhelmed by the words that she'd grasp onto his hand and intertwine their fingers as though she never wanted to let go.
"I know it isn't," she replied, breaking him out of his – in reality, split-second - reverie. She folded her legs under her as she sat down, and he sat down rigidly beside her. "Would you like it to be?"
Was she offering? But no. No, it wasn't, they weren't - no. They – no.
"I...have never really thought about it." Liar. Liar. Liar. "No, wait. I can't do this. I can't keep – Rose. Right. I want you to understand something."
She nodded. "What is it?"