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"How do you expect to catch yourself a fella if you dress like a frump all the time?" Ace's mother asks, practically every Sunday afternoon, and it's one of the things that Ace has in the back of hir mind when ze does . . . whatever it is ze does that gets hir to Iceworld.

Iceworld's not so wizard anyhow; ze gets a job like jobs ze used to get back home, gets an apartment of hir own, but even though ze thought all ze needed was to get away from hir mum, it turns out ze's not too comfortable here either. Ace experiments with layers, developing bits and pieces that ze can put on and take off at will, and that helps.

At Perivale – old Perivale – Ace tries on hir first Victorian tailcoat; the Doctor doesn't even blink before addressing hir as a gentleman. Ze bristles a little at the "gentle" part, but even so there's a warm glow deep in hir belly at the thought that ze can do it, can be someone new with the Doctor, someone untarnished. Ace leaves Perivale feeling different inside, like hir past has been hollowed out of hir and now there's nothing but space inside hir for the universe to fill.

After that, the Doctor shows hir the TARDIS wardrobe.

"Anything you like, Ace," he says, and the truly wicked thing is that he means it, really honestly means it. He doesn't miss Ace's slow grin, and he grins back. For the next three hours, they play dressup, throwing outfits on and off of hir body like they're painting a canvas. Ze tries on miniskirts and seventeenth century ballgowns and motorcycle jackets and about a zillion neckties (the Doctor can tie every possible tie knot in the known universe and insists on demonstrating them all). His touch on hir bare back is firm and hot and not at all like the touch of a man's hand on a woman's body. Ace loves him for this. For this, Ace will fight beside the Doctor until the day ze dies.