One thing he can always say about the French Royal Court - they sure like a good party. As soon as the Clockwork Droids are dispatched (and servants after them to clean up the messy broken bits), the court throws itself into a party the likes of which would rival several coronations the Doctor's attended.
Arthur the horse is whisked away with the damaged droids - off to the stables, despite the Doctor's protests. Reinette is off with the King, recovering from their ordeal or greeting dignified guests - something far too court-y for him.
The banana daiquiris are overflowing, and the Doctor avails himself of more than a few in an effort to forget what exactly this rescue has cost him.
There's a woman in a gilded mask to match her golden curls - loose and wild and completely, shockingly out of fashion. Her dress is designed to show off all her assets in their best light, dark with intricate golden brocade to match her hair, and it's certainly a credit to her milliner. Or maybe that's just the woman in it. The moment his eyes are drawn to her, the Doctor finds he has trouble looking away. He's not staring per se, but she must notice because she turns from her crowd of admirers and makes her way toward him.
Shoving his hands in his pockets and putting on his best grin, the Doctor meets her halfway. "Hello, I'm the Doctor, and you are?"
The woman laughs with apparent pleasure, the sound warm and low in a way that tingles right across the Doctor's skin. "Charmed, I'm sure." Her French is a flawless melody, but there's something about her accent that nags at him.
"Well," the Doctor preens a bit, still trying to shake the odd shivery feeling her voice inspires. "I am quite charming, or so I'm told."
"And quite the ego, as well." She smiles, eyes flashing mysteriously behind her mask. "Next thing you'll tell me that you're the cleverest person in the room."
"Well," the Doctor drawls, feeling the need to point it out after the smarting comment about his ego. "I am a bit, yeah."
"Oh, Doctor." There's something about the way she says his name that tugs at his insides. "I wouldn't be so sure."
She is quite clever so far. A bit sharp, but then he likes that. Nothing in her mannerisms fit a lady at court - even the French court.
"Where are you from?"
She laughs again, as though he were making a joke and ought to know better. Even though he's serious, he can't say as he minds making her laugh. "Here and there and a bit of everywhere."
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Maybe if you're lucky."
He blinks and then catches onto the innuendo. Clever and bold - he really likes her. "Don't you want to know where I'm from?"
"Why, so you can tell me that I wouldn't believe you if you told?" She teases as though she can read his mind. "I'd just figured you came through the looking glass."
The turn of phrase makes him pause - they're a century too early for Lewis Carroll references. But he did rather literally come through the looking glass, he reasons, so perhaps it's not as out of place of a statement as all that. She's right: he did want to turn it back on her, certain that she'd never believe where he's from, but this woman is frustratingly unflappable. Unflappable and a terrible flirt, if the way she leans into his space is any indication. "And what do you fancy is through the looking glass?"
She edges closer still, a golden goddess that has deigned to grace him with her attention. His skin prickles under her gaze and he has to check to make sure he's not as naked as she makes him feel.
He used to love that word: fantastic. He rolls the word around in his current mouth, tasting it on his tongue and wondering what it feels like on hers. "Somewhere fantastic." He leans forward, curious. "What makes you say that?"
She laughs, so close that her breath tickles across his skin with the sound. "Where else could you have come from, Doctor?"
Her eyes sparkle like she knows him and he realizes he still doesn't even know her name.
"Sorry, what did you say your name was again?" He tries, hands in his pockets and aiming for casual.
His mystery woman grins at him, cat-ate-the-canary, and he's left with the distinct impression that he's the canary. "I didn't."
"Well that's a bit rude, isn't it?"
"Is it? You didn't give me yours, now did you, Doctor."
He feels oddly caught out under her too-knowing gaze. "Oi - I can't help it if that's what people call me."
"People call me lots of things. Doesn't make them names."
"And what do I get to call you?"
She laughs again, the sound low and disarming. "Who says you get to call me?"
The Doctor shoves one hand through his hair, probably spiking it to even further disarray. "You're exasperating, do you know that?"
"You love it."
He has to stop himself from agreeing. He does love it, a bit. Her, a bit. She's mysterious and clever and a bit of a bad girl. "Love a bad girl, me," he teases instead, trying for cavalier and ending up accidentally flirting, as tends to happen in this body if he's not careful. Only nothing feels accidental with his mystery woman. She feels - familiar and unprecedented, all at once.
She looks at him as though she can see right through him, even from behind her mask. "Oh, you have no idea." She sways closer, certainly closer than is decent. "Do you dance, Doctor?"
This close, he can see that her makeup is far subtler than most of the royal court - men and women alike - just the barest hint of rogue. She smells improbably sweet, or maybe that's the daiquiris gone to his head.
"I've been known to, in my time," he can't resist wanting to impress her, blustering ahead of himself a moment before he realizes that her tone is wrong for dancing. He swallows hard and refuses to back down - taking her hand when she offers it and following her to the middle of the ballroom.
The dances are intricate, bringing them together and spinning them apart. His mystery woman is a vision in gold, her curls swinging out boldly as she twirls, every eye in the ballroom drawn to her.
He can't resist feeling a bit smug when she's back in his arms, even if she's pressed indecently close, draped around him in a way that makes it very difficult to keep his eyes on her face and not... lower...
"That was quite the entrance you made," she murmurs, as though they were lovers or confidantes.
The Doctor keeps his hands loosely about her waist, tiny under her heavy corset, and shrugs, trying for modest. "Well, it was all a bit rushed - Arthur was kind enough to give me a ride."
Her eyes are sparkling and he can't seem to look away from her. "I might fancy a ride."
Not that he doesn't try, casting his eyes about the room full of strangers, none of them as interesting as the not-quite-stranger in front of him. "Oh, Arthur's around here somewhere. I think they put him up in the stables - shame, he deserved a bit of fun at the party, but that's eighteenth century France for you - big on protocol and a bit biased, honestly. I suppose we could sneak down to the stables and break him out..."
"I wasn't talking about the horse. Although, I'm always up for a jailbreak..."
"Not talking about the horse?" The Doctor frowns momentarily before it hits him. "Oh."
"Cleverer than you look, pretty boy," she muses and, before he realizes, they somehow find themselves quite alone in an alcove off the main ballroom.
The Doctor flashes his best friendly grin and starts to pull away, hoping to put some distance between them. "I'm sorry. I think you've got the wrong impression."
"You're a very beautiful woman," he swallows around that inescapable truth. "But I'm not - I don't really -"
"Hush now, sweetie," and she steps forward and kisses him.
It's not the first time he's been kissed, not even by a stranger - and this face is more prone to it than most - he'd snogged Madame de Pompadour just a few hours ago! It's even surprisingly chaste; just the faintest brush of her lips against his own. But there's something in her lips that makes him want to linger in a way he can't remember feeling before, and certainly not with Reinette.
The Doctor pushes her gently back, hands at her shoulders. He can feel the heat of her skin through her dress, the way her breasts are heaving against the low line of her corset just from the exertion of their dance. There's that stabbing longing again, sharp and demanding. "Who are you?"
She doesn't move, watching him like she's waiting for something or someone. "Just a stranger, passing through."
He arches one eyebrow but doesn't release her. He has the strangest feeling that if he blinks she'll disappear. "That's my line."
"Are you, though? Just passing through? The mirror shattered, Doctor. Can you still get back to wherever you came from?" Her voice is surprisingly gentle.
For all her concern, he feels a bit ill at the reminder. She's clever too; so clever for figuring out the one part he's trying not to think on. Oh, Mickey and Rose will be fine - the Old Girl will take care of them. If he's especially lucky, she'll even pop them back to their own time, but it's still a long, slow road back to the universe and his TARDIS from eighteenth century France. "Eventually."
"And in the meantime?"
There's a breath between his heartbeats, as though they're both waiting for the reply he doesn't have. He's not even sure he breathes as he tilts her head up with one hand under her chin and bends to press his lips to hers.
He knows it's a terrible idea before he even does it - these things have a way of getting messy - but he can't not kiss her. There's something about her. Something in her eyes that looks as lost as he feels, for all her easy teasing. Something beyond the casual flirtation with Reinette.
His golden woman makes a sound crossed between a whinge and a moan, her lips pliable and her mask smooth where it brushes his skin, and then her hands are all over him, dragging him into her until he's suddenly surrounded by her dress and her curves. His body reacts to her with a startling ferocity, and the Doctor thinks that she seems a far more thorough place to lose himself in than banana daiquiris and French wine. Part of him wonders if he'll ever find his way back from her. Then her hips shift and roll against his and he can hardly think at all.
There's nothing gentle in her kiss this time. Her lips open wantonly, her tongue tracing sinful patterns across his. There's a hint of her teeth against his lower lip that sends a startling shiver down his spine.
The Doctor has an exceptionally large brain and very clever hands. Sometimes they conspire without him fully realizing, which is the only excuse he has when he notices that his hands are already gathering up the voluminous material and pannier of her skirts to pin between them at her waist. He slips one hand underneath and, while it's certainly been a while, he has an excellent memory and dexterity. Eighteenth century France isn't big on undergarments and his fingers find their way between her thighs with roguish ease.
When his fingers reach damp curls and slip lower to part slick flesh, the sound she makes against his lips is decadently wicked. The last of his nerves fade under the desire to hear her make that exact noise again.
He works one finger inside her, carefully, twisting and crooking it to find just how she likes to be touched. He's trying to be gentle but, when he breaks their kiss to watch her face, the look she wears is so shot through with lust and need that he can't help but bury a second finger inside her, imagining with a ragged groan what it will feel like to be properly buried in the wet, quivering heat of her.
She shudders, heaving in a gasping breath, and her breasts escape the confines of her corset entirely. The Doctor takes the opportunity to bend his head and run his tongue along her hardened nipples, taking each into his mouth in turn.
It's easier even than he'd imagined to lose himself in her - in the delicious moans spilling across her lips and the taste of her skin and the silky grip of her sex around his fingers.
So lost, in fact, that he doesn't notice her far too clever hands sneaking between them until she's undone the zip to his trousers and is reaching into his pants. The Doctor nearly chokes when her small hand wraps firmly around his cock, drawing him out of his pants and stroking him in firm grip.
He can't help but moan at the sensation, at the pinpricks of pleasure suddenly lighting up across his skin. He redoubles his efforts between her thighs, thumb circling her clit. Straightening, he brings his lips to her ear and pitches his voice to a low, coaxing whisper. "Tell me your name."
"Tell me yours." She's laughing at him, even though her voice wavers breathlessly.
But her lips caress the word as though it's a challenge... or foreplay.
The Doctor shudders, kissing her quiet before he can linger too long on thoughts of how his mystery woman already seems to know him so well or how much he likes it.
He curls his fingers inside her, searching until he finds the spot that makes her whimper into his mouth, her body jolting against his and her hand losing its rhythm on his cock.
That's it. The Doctor slides his fingers in and out of her in quick motions, pressing hard against that spot, desperate to feel her fall apart around him: his mystery woman in the gilded mask.
At last she shatters with a needy, keening noise that is muffled by his lips and tongue against hers. He remembers belatedly that she probably needs to catch her breath and withdraws to give her room, but she merely catches him by his tie and yanks him closer, her hand guiding his cock to her slick sex.
The Doctor lets out a ragged groan, his forehead dropping to rest against hers, her mask cool against his suddenly heated skin. It's been - well, he tries not to think about how long it's been. He forgets sometimes, in his long life, exactly how it feels to be truly with someone. His eyes flutter shut as she engulfs him in her blissful heat.
"No peeking, Doctor," she purrs, low but urgent.
It's only once she says so that he realizes he'd been reaching out instinctively for her mind - seeking that extra intimacy of minds and bodies coming together as one - and found only a line of neatly sealed doors, stretching out infinitely on all sides.
The Doctor blinks, lifting his head long enough to watch her eyes subtly shift colors behind her mask. His hips thrust with sense memory, trying to get closer to her with every stroke. "You shouldn't be able to do that."
She laughs, sliding one leg over his hip and rolling her hips against his most distractingly. "There were clockwork people at the ball, and you came through the looking glass. Surely anything is possible..."
"Well, technically," he starts, but she huffs in exasperation and drags his free hand to her thigh, catching her skirts in her own hand and hitching herself closer to him.
"Oh, shut up." She smirks, eyeing him. "Or I'll use that tie to gag you."
Well, that's certainly an idea. But she's right - hardly the moment to be wondering about the locked doors in her mind. He shouldn't have looked anyway. He was usually better about that, but he'd cheated more than a bit already today - enough to almost forget that it was cheating.
He puts on his most charming grin and catches her hint to lift her, sliding his hands under her thighs and pressing her back into the wall, now that she's holding her skirts.
The change in position allows him to sink deeper inside her on his next thrust and the Doctor forgets everything but the feel of her wrapped around him in that instant.
She moans, loud and decadent, and winds her free hand around his neck, her nails digging into his skin, slight pinpricks that travel all the way down his spine and make him shiver.
There's no hesitation or fumbling in the way they move together - they find a rhythm as easily as breathing, or as though they've done this a thousand times. His body strains naturally toward hers, seeking more of her, and she draws him closer between her warm, welcoming thighs.
The Doctor hitches her higher, relishing the way her breath catches and her thighs tighten around his hips. Now that he's given in so utterly to carnality, he finds that he doesn't want it to end. He doesn't want to ever be anywhere else but between her thighs, buried in the heat of her, endorphins and adrenaline tripping along his synapses as though he's just run for his life or saved a planet, only better.
He manages to shift her weight enough to wedge one hand between them, under her skirts, until his fingers can circle her clit. She makes a needy, pleased sound and shudders against him, her breasts heaving and her eyes sparkling behind her gilded mask.
He dips his head to her breasts again, perhaps a little rougher than before in his haste, in his determination to prove just how clever he can be with all his appendages. It's hard to remember that she's human and breakable when her legs are like a vice around him and her hand slides into his hair to hold his head in place.
The sounds she is making send heat pooling low in his groin, but he focuses on their pitch and frequency, trying to drive her higher with his hands and mouth and cock. His thrusts are a little faster now, a bit desperate as he tries not to give into the brilliant, overwhelming feel of her wrapped around him.
She arches her breasts and hips into him, her grip on his hair tightening as her moans coalesce into a crescendo. Her orgasm rocks them both, her inner muscles squeezing him rhythmically until his tenuous gasp on his self-control snaps and sends him tumbling after her.
His hearts race and his head spins to the sound of her voice and the feel of her body gripping his.
When the Doctor lifts his head, his golden woman is giving him a tender look, her smile laced with secrets and her hair wilder yet. She looks thoroughly shagged, even from behind that mask, and the Doctor can't help feeling a bit smug.
She brushes his sweat-slicked hair off his forehead. "That was quite the dance, Doctor."
There's a pang of longing as he slips from her body, helping her disentangle her legs and settle back on the floor, her skirts dropping to the ground in a rustle of fabric. He tucks himself away and rights his trousers, shoving his hands in his pockets and nodding toward her corset, still riding low to expose her nipples. "Not too shabby for 903."
"Oh is that all?" she teases, tugging at her corset with a huff and trying in vain to put her hair to any semblance of order.
Her eyes are twinkling with laugher and she's as completely unfazed by him as she has been all night. It still makes him want to impress her. More than that, he wants to see the woman under the mask, the one with padlocked doors in her mind and a voice made out of secrets and sin. "Well, something like that," he admits, "you lose count."
She shakes out those glorious curls and he's caught by the urge to bury his hands in her hair and drag her close again. "You do, perhaps."
The Doctor fidgets with his hands in his pockets, resisting the urge to rock on his heels. "Oh, and how old are you?"
She huffs, hands resting at the over-wide hips of her dress. "It's not polite to ask a lady her age, Doctor."
He can't resist a bit of a pleased grin just as he can't resist challenging her, unrepentant. "Not much we've done tonight would be considered polite."
She laughs. "Oh, I certainly hope not."
"You're still dressed for polite society though," the Doctor points out, then remembers her low corset and amends, "well, polite-ish. Polite enough that you're still wearing a mask."
She sways closer until she's crowding his personal space, regarding him with a teasing smirk and giving him a clear view of just how impolite her corset is. "It's a costume ball: everyone is wearing a mask."
Holding his ground, the Doctor shrugs. "I'm not."
"Everyone invited," she amends, actually rolling her eyes at him.
The Doctor straightens up, leaning into her in the process. "I was invited. By Madame de Pompadour herself. Er - on second thought, maybe let's not mention that to the king. And, anyway, that's entirely beside the point."
She feigns ignorance, her mouth curved up. "And what was the point again?"
"You're still wearing a mask!"
This time, her smile takes on an innocent lilt that is positively maddening. "Yes, I am. Do try to keep up, Doctor."
"You're - you're impossible, do you know that?" Only he can't help but marvel at how clever she is, even if he feels a bit wrong-footed when he's used to being by far the cleverest person in the room.
She huffs but he thinks she's not as cross as she's pretending. "I'm impossible? Says the man who came through the looking glass riding a horse?"
He peers at her, still undeniably curious. "And you don't find that the slightest bit strange, do you?"
She shrugs, a smile teasing at her lips. "Well, before that clockwork men in masks tried to behead one of the king's mistresses. It seemed that sort of day." She laughs and offers him her hand, "Now, alons-y, Doctor. The future awaits."
He starts with a thrill at hearing her utter his current mouth's favorite word, until he remembers that they're in France and of course she's speaking French. Still, there's something about the way she says it...
"What if I just came from the future?" but he takes her hand without hesitation, marveling at how small it seems in his, despite her sure, steady grip.
She favors him with an indecipherable smile. "Then I imagine she's impatient to have you back."
She guides him back to the raucous ballroom and disappears into the crowd before he can think to stop her. One moment her small hand is in his and the next she's slipping away, as though he'd only dreamt her, if not for the faint hint of her sweat still clinging to him.
Musing that she'd said alons-y as though she'd learnt it from him, with a curiously modern lilt, the Doctor swipes a goblet of wine from a passing servant and considers that perhaps the slow path holds its own sort of mysteries, just like his masked woman in gold.