He knows how little room there is in there
For crude and futile animosities
And how much for the joy of being whole,
And how much for long sorrow and old pain.
-- Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Ben Jonson Entertains A Man From Stratford"
William was working.
Well, when was he not, really?
Sometimes he didn't much like being himself. So many words, so little time, the pen so slow, the mind so quick...he didn't even notice the groaning, whirring noise. It wasn't until the latch clicked, of all things, that he finally looked up.
There was a large blue box in his bedroom. It had doors, and someone was peering out of one.
"Safe to come out?" Sir Doctor of TARDIS asked.
"Doctor," Will said with a smile. "Is it? One should ask you. You would know better than I could tell."
The Doctor stepped out, still wearing his strange alien garb -- really alien garb! -- with a small black book in one hand.
"Is the queen of Freedonia with you?" Will asked.
"Erm, no. Left her in a pub for a bit. Couple of parsecs away, just thought I'd nip back. No sign of the queen, I hope?"
"Just the author, I'm afraid." Will set his quill in the inkpot and stood, circling his desk to lean against it. "And what can a humble boards-strider do for Sir Doctor?"
"Oh, well." The Doctor looked sheepish. "I was wondering..."
He held out a small, leatherbound book. Will took it and flipped through it. Each page had a signature, a date, and a name beneath it in what he assumed was the Doctor's writing.
"Something of an amateur autograph-hunter," the Doctor admitted. Will laughed.
"Who is Victoria Regina?" he asked.
"Oh, a girl I met."
"Well," Will said, dipping his quill in the inkpot and shaking it gently, "I think I can make an exception. Just this once, mind you."
"Fantastic! Thank you. And..." the Doctor stepped up next to him and extended one arm with a small black box in his hand. "Say cheese."
"Cheese?" Will asked, glancing at him. The box flashed brightly and spat something out.
"Nothing like a polaroid," the Doctor said. "Humans. Who'd have ever thought of something like a polaroid? Only humans."
He offered the slip of thick paper to Will, who stared at it until his eyes watered. Eventually, a portrait appeared.
"A magic box that paints portraits," he said, delighted.
"Close enough," the Doctor temporised.
"Will wonders never cease?" Will asked, turning to look at the Doctor. It brought them close together, their faces inches apart,
"They haven't yet," the Doctor said, and Will leaned forward. "Erm, wait, that might not -- "
Kissing the Doctor was not like kissing an ordinary person. There was the moment of humanity, the press of lips and rasp of skin on skin, breath stolen and given, but then --
Time rushes past and the temptation is far too great. Take his hand; go into the ship with him, the source of power and life. See other worlds. Touch, taste, smell the air in another lifetime. Talk of death! He knows of death already, understand the loss of sons. Understands pain, understands how to laugh through the pain until the laughter is real --
Grasp him by the crown of the head, press him into the wall like an older actor once did when Will was a boy. A lithe body against his, delicate fingers fumbling with the drawstrings of his doublet, the Doctor saying his name.
Bare skin, pale and near-translucent, like a spirit. Kissing the Doctor is not like kissing an ordinary person. More fire, more passion. More need. Masks stripped away. Will never liked masks. Clothing discarded, the Doctor returning the kiss now, demanding everything, demanding all. Only a genius could answer that but Will is a genius and Will is a man. The Doctor's hands clutching his shoulders, Will's own hands on that alien skin, a double-triple heartbeat.
William, please --
Nobody makes the Doctor beg, but Will could. Will could burn the stars down with the Doctor, and never breathe a word of it to anyone. And when the Doctor throws his head back and cries out, lost in Will, the stars do burn away...
" -- be a good idea," the Doctor finished, as they parted. He licked his lips. Will caught his breath.
"I saw all of history," he said.
The Doctor smiled at him and dropped him a wink.
"Don't blab," he replied.
"Did you have a nice trip?" Martha asked.
"Sure. Enjoy your drink?"
"Yeah, though I'm not certain pork-flavoured vodka is the way to go."
The Doctor grinned. "All ends up in the same place. Shall we?"
"Where did you go, anyway?"
"Oh, you know. Errand or two, that's all."