It had been a long day of filming. Intense filming, even, with the Doctor making a difficult and impassioned speech about how Clara would be gone some day and how much it would hurt. It was the kind of thing Jenna didn’t let herself think about, how much that would be her and Peter, some time in the late fall. Right now it wasn’t. Right now it was fantastic. Right now, she was having the time of her life.
And exhausting, mind. She didn’t feel like cooking for herself; Peter volunteered. So off to his they went. Bottle of white wine, a bit of pasta and salad, nothing much. They were both actors and that meant neither one of them ever ate very much. Drinking, though, they could manage that. They had a day off tomorrow, according to the filming schedule, and back to the mess day after tomorrow. That meant a lie in, which meant Jenna could kick off her shoes and have that third glass of wine, sit on his sofa with him and decompress.
She leaned her head against Peter’s shoulder and sighed.
“You okay?” Peter said. He pressed a kiss against her hair.
“Yeah. Just thinking. Haven’t seen Richard in weeks. Saw my girlfriend last weekend, but it’ll be ages before I can steal any time.”
Peter slipped an arm around her. “Haven’t seen Elaine in a fortnight. She’s producing a reality TV thing. Hectic.”
“This job, so glamorous. What was it, a four-am call this morning?”
“I catnapped while they were repairing the lighting rig. Put the shades on and no one can tell.”
Peter was the best thing about the job. That was a mutual opinion, she knew. Unlikeliest friendship ever, with this cuddly amazing man, but it was a revelation. And he’d made her a better actor. Challenged her. Taught her. This had been the best experience of her career, really.
And he was caressing her without seeming to notice. He was stroking her neck. It was the most sensual way she’d ever been touched, and he wasn’t even noticing that he was doing it. He was running her fingers up and down absent-mindedly. There was something on his mind, probably. He wasn’t paying attention to the small talk. Drink the wine, wait for it. Patience paid off with this one.
“The other night,” he said, eventually. “When you told me about things with you and Richard.”
“Things,” she said. “You mean being poly.”
“Was thinking about that.”
He didn’t continue on, though. Jenna let him think about whatever it was he was thinking about. Peter was a thinker, that was a fact. A deep one sometimes. It would come out, though, whatever it was. Meanwhile she had another taste of her wine and enjoyed that touch on her neck. Oh, those fingers. The man had no idea.
At last he said, “I’ve only ever slept with one woman.”
That made her turn and look at him. He was biting his thumb, the way he did when he was nervous. She said, “Only one person? Your whole life?”
“Only one woman. There was some canoodling I’m not counting. But one, yeah.”
Jenna heard his careful correction, but now was not the time to pursue that. Maybe later. Maybe after he’d had another glass.
She said, “Yeah, that’s kinda not my thing. Even though Richard and I are steady. It’s fun to be able to date other people. I’d miss women if I couldn’t be with them.”
“Only women?” He had a little sideways grin on his face. Jenna nudged him.
“There are men, from time to time. I don’t get around all that much. This job, you know?”
Peter giggled and squeezed her against his side for a moment. “But here’s the thing. I didn’t tell you the truth the other night.”
“What d’you mean?”
“How I felt about it. Told you it was foreign to me. Thing is–”
“It’s not. Not-- not in the sense of a lifestyle thing. But Elaine and I talked about something like it once, years ago now. We made a deal.”
“I get one,” he said. “One fling. One–” he flapped his hand around-- “incident. Cheating’s the wrong word, because it’s allowed. I have to tell her, but that’s the only rule.”
“How about Elaine?”
“She used her go. Not going to tell the story, but she has good taste and I’d have done the same.”
Jenna smiled at him, because he did always get that faraway fond look on his face when he talked about Elaine. Relationship goals, she supposed. Some day, with Richard, it would be like that for her too. If things continued to work out.
“Did you feel okay about it? When she did it?”
“See, that’s the funny thing. I wasn’t upset about it. I knew it was once, and I knew it made her happy, and it was okay. She’s still mine in all the important ways. And it was-- well, if I’m honest it was exciting afterward. Thinking about, ah, that person giving her, making her-- you know, giving her orgasms.”
He blushed. An odd thing to see in a man who was capable of swearing as much as he had for some roles, but then Peter himself was completely courteous and gentlemanly. He wasn’t the same person as characters, though his characters came from somewhere in him. She knew that one. Jenna smiled at him, reached out and touched his hand.
“Imagine that every day, and you have what Richard and I have.”
“Can’t, really,” Peter said. “I tried. And yet–”
He broke off and went silent again, untangled himself from her enough to refill their wine glasses. Jenna wondered if that was it, if he’d vanish into his own thoughts. He did that sometimes. There was a lot going on inside him. He told her more of it than anybody else on the crew got, she knew that. Probably Elaine was the only one who truly knew him. But no: he came back to her, handed her a full glass, and curled himself up on the couch again. Shoes off. He had big feet, and he had a taste for ridiculous socks. Red and white striped socks today, under black trousers. He’d given her socks with kittens on them a few weeks ago. She wasn’t wearing them now, but they were one of her most prized possessions.
He put his arm around her again. Jenna snuggled into him. He was warm and solid, despite being wraith-thin. She reached up and popped open the top button of his shirt and insinuated her fingers inside. Peter. He smelled good, like coffee in the mornings, like wine at night, always the faint whiff of his aftershave. She’d learned so much from him. He was one of her most favorite people.
The first kiss, she wasn’t sure which one of them initiated. It sort of just happened: one moment they were looking into each other’s eyes, and the next they’d closed them and were kissing.
The first kiss? This wasn’t their first kiss. Jenna had lost track of when they’d first kissed each other. They did it all the time, as quiet greetings. Not in front of other people, not usually-- Peter preferred to kiss her cheek if they weren’t alone. But when they were alone, when she came over to his place or him to hers, then there’d be the kiss hello, the kiss goodbye. Chaste kisses. Soft kisses. Kisses that didn’t linger, but were tender enough that she knew. Peter loved her.
Not that it was a surprise. She’d figured out within the first month of working with him that they had as good as cast a Gallifreyan with two hearts in the role, so warm was Peter with everybody. And he was warmest with her, most physical with her. The kisses, they were just more of that warmth, that overflowing affection for the people close to him.
This was different. This time, it was different. He was lingering and his eyes were closed. He had beautiful long lashes, silver mixed in with the dark. Sweet kisses that tasted of wine, slow kisses. Kisses with intent. He meant something by this. Jenna thought she knew what.
He laid her back on the couch, cuddled her. Gentle touches. They were doing no more than they had before, but now there was this knowledge in her mind, that it was possible. Peter was holding her like this, kissing her like this, nuzzling into her hair, because he was trying to ask for it.
She pulled herself back from him and laid her fingers on his lips.
“Are you interested in using your go?” Wow, her voice wasn’t quite her own. That had come out all shaky. “Is that why–”
“Yeah.” And then he giggled, completely inappropriately, but Jenna could see the worry on his face. “If you’ll have a broken-down old man.”
Jenna laughed at him then. There they were, on his couch, with his shirt half undone and his legs tangled up with hers, and he was unsure she’d have him. “Yeah,” she said. “I would. With you.”
“Once would be okay?”
“Once is okay.”
And he gave her that heart-stopping smile, the one that showed all his teeth and transformed his face. The smile that showed her what he’d looked like when he’d been her age, all wild brown hair and blue eyes and a nose too big for his face. Jenna’s heart filled up with something, something sweet and aching, and she kissed him again before she could say anything silly about it.
Peter’s hand slipped behind her head, and his mouth opened under hers, and they were kissing in earnest now. God, he tasted good. Like the wine, yes, and maybe it was just that she’d gone from snuggly to turned on in about thirty seconds flat, because oh, she had. The way he was kissing her, the way he’d nudged a knee between her thighs, the sounds he was making. Soft noises, little gasps, whispered encouragement, affection. He had thrown himself into it. Peter did nothing by halves, nothing at all. This was one reason why he was so satisfying as an acting partner. He was going to be just as intense and demanding and thrilling as a partner in bed. And yeah, she had to meet him. She had to be just as committed. No doing this by halves: if she was going to be Peter’s one fling, his one jaunt with someone other than his beloved Elaine, she was going to make it good. She was going to make it matter.
She sat up and smiled down at him, cupped a cheek against his face. Crows feet, smile lines, gray hair, impossibly blue eyes: Peter.
“C’mon,” she said. “Show me your bedroom.” She stretched out a hand for his and tugged him to his feet.
The main room of his flat was full of books and sketchbooks and guitar equipment. His bedroom was more of the same. A big bed, a warm duvet, more books by the bedside, a sketchbook, an acoustic guitar. No time to indulge her curiosity, though-- Peter was on her, hands on her waist, giggling at her, tugging her down so they fell onto the bed together. He was telling her silly things, making up pet names for her, trying to make her laugh even now as they were lying on the bed together, his body on hers, her legs wrapped around his. Ridiculous, sweet man.
Undressing each other, now, unbuttoning shirts, undoing trousers, interrupting each other to kiss some more and giggle. It took forever to do because they were kept getting tangled up in each other. Was this what it was like with him? All laughter and kisses?
At last she got his trousers and shirt off. So little to him. He worked out-- they all did, to keep in shape for running down corridors-- but he was just muscle and bone and a little bit of a soft belly and nothing at all beyond that. Richard, of course, had lots of beef, a big chest. Had to, for the kind of roles he was after. Peter was so thin. Graying hair on his chest, on his stomach, and a trail leading down. Gray hair there, and oh, yes, what she’d known she would find. Call her base, call her silly, but she liked that he was so big in her hand. He was going to feel good inside her.
But first a bit of fun, first something she liked doing a lot, sliding down his body, kissing her way down, licking his belly, nuzzling between his thighs, then tasting him, flickering her tongue over him, and taking him into her mouth. A sharp intake of breath, and then a sound she hadn’t imagined Peter making, pure pleasure, a little bit of pleading, then his hand was tangled in her hair. Not so much of this, just enough to get him worked up. It wasn’t what she wanted if this was going to be their only time, and it would be their only time. If it was only once, she wanted him holding her close, kissing her, when he came.
She licked her way back up his chest and was met by an eager kiss, a tongue deep in her mouth. Now he took charge, slipping an arm around her and cradling her head. He kissed her more intently and his hand slipped down, down, down and his fingers found the place that made her gasp.
“Yeah,” he said, and kissed the corner of her jaw. “That’s right. Jenna.”
How had she mistaken him for a naïf? Because damn. Those fingers. That smile in his eyes. He was driving her crazy, touching her perfectly, pushing her, pursuing her, so relentless, driving her on until she knew he had her, he was going to do it to her, and it was wonderful.
“Oh, honey, oh honey, do it for me, please, let me see it. I need to see you. Oh, yeah, there it is, there it is, you’re so beautiful, Jenna, you know that?” And he was still talking, but she no longer knew what he was saying because it was on her, an orgasm, deep and sweet and with long aftershocks because he knew just what to do with those fingers.
He kissed her neck tenderly. Jenna breathed herself back down. Her heart was pounding. Oh.
Peter was grinning as if he’d been very clever. “Good?”
Jenna closed her eyes for a second. “Mmm. Yeah.”
“I’m not sure we can do more. I don’t have any-- I mean, I don’t need to use anything, so I don’t keep–”
Jenna blinked. Oh. Condoms. “I’m covered,” she said. “And I’m clean.” And Peter, of course, had only been with one woman for years, so she wasn’t worried about him.
“Oh,” he said, and then he grinned at her almost shyly. “I’d like to make love to you, then. If I may.”
“Mmm, you may.” Another kiss, pressed close against him, skin to skin. God, she was a wreck already. “Anything you like in particular?”
He shook his head. “I like loads of things. But for this, please. I’d like you in charge.”
On his back, reaching up to her, waiting for her. Jenna straddled his hips and stroked his face. Now was when she had to be careful. Now it got tricky. With a lot of people it was physical, especially with the men. Meet a pretty person-- so often another actor, all actors were bi as far as Jenna could tell, it was just ridiculous-- meet a pretty person, kiss them, take them to bed, have a fantastic time, feel good, have breakfast the next morning if they seemed like they had enough of a brain to be worth it. Sometimes a second or third go. Sometimes somebody would be simpatico enough to be a steady partner. Those were the ones she’d introduce to Richard, have over for dinner. Sometimes he’d do the same. Sometimes they’d swap off.
But mostly, mostly it was physical. Pure sex.
Not this go. This was something else. Simpatico? She and Peter were ridiculously simpatico. They were in each other’s pockets. Sex, oh yes, they’d be simpatico. She wanted Peter to feel great. She wanted him to have a slow build-up to a fantastic orgasm, something he’d remember. Was that the sort of thing he’d remember? He’d joked once, in an interview, about how forgettable sex was. So this had to be more than just sex.
Intimacy. That’s what this was. Intimacy. Oh, Peter.
So intent, he was, holding himself in place for her as she rose over him. Slowly, slowly, she let herself sink down onto him. He made an odd sound. His eyes were closed and the expression on his face made her heart melt. God, he felt fantastic inside her, big enough to slow her down, big enough that she’d remember what this felt like. Did he have any idea? Who knew? It didn’t matter. He making the best sounds under her, soulful sounds, almost mournful. But the expression on his face was one of pure bliss.
She settled herself on him and moved just a little. Squeezed him a little. His eyes came open and he held her gaze. That smile reappeared, his eyes all crinkled up.
“You okay?” she said.
“M’supposed to ask you that. Yeah. More than okay. Jenna. Honey.”
His face, oh, there was so much in it. Jenna knew that face, knew what he could do with it, knew what it meant when he looked like that. He was as open and as vulnerable as she’d ever seen him. Oh, she wanted this to last. She wanted to hold that face in her heart forever. Slowly, yeah, do this as slowly as she could. Love him slowly. Let him touch her again, let him bring her up and up again, thumb rubbing against her just so as she moved. He was talking again, saying sweet things, telling her how good she felt to him. Oh, yes, he felt good inside her.
She felt it rising again inside, felt that taste, that tension. Thought about staving it off, changing it up, doing something to distract herself, then decided to let it happen. Let herself go, let herself make a little noise, come with Peter inside her, come around him. She closed her eyes and let her head fall back, let herself believe the things he was saying about how wonderful she was, and came. Sharp this time, almost painful, but so good, oh so good.
She lay on his chest, listening to his heart beat, letting herself come back to reality. Only one heart? Sometimes she believed he was other-worldly. A Jedi master of grace and courtesy. A man overflowing with enough passion for two hearts. A brain enough that he must have pointed ears. But no, he was just Peter. And that was-- that was wonderful enough all on its own. He was still hard inside her, still unfinished, moving a little bit, in no rush.
“Did you?” she said.
“Close. Not quite.”
“You on top, yeah? Please?” she said, because she wanted it, wanted Peter holding her close, wanted him kissing her.
“Yeah,” he said.
She rolled them over and held Peter in the cradle of her hips, deep inside her now, moving at his own pace. His face was pressed against her neck and he was whispering the most magical things to her, about how he wanted her to feel, about what she felt like around him, about how much she meant to him, how much this moment meant to him.
He said, “You are a gift. You are the reason this has been so good. The whole thing. The, the–”
“Silly man. You’d be amazing no matter what.”
“You make it safe. This. Being the Doctor. You make me feel safe.”
“It’s true. You are so special to me.”
“And you to me. Always going to remember this. Always going to love you.”
He kissed her then, fiercely, and his tongue was deep in her mouth. He pulled back, bit at her lips, kissed her again. He moaned, and shifted over her, and his rhythm shifted. Harder now, faster.
“I’m going to come. Jenna. Can’t hold off any more. Jenna, honey, I’m gonna–”
And there it was, Peter with eyes shut, head thrown back, crying out her name, going still under her, pulsing inside her, coming inside her, then collapsing onto her, his lips against her ear, making those mournful sweet sounds again.
He was a cuddler afterward, all nuzzles and little touches and kisses on the end of her nose. He called her honey again. Silly lovely beautiful man. It would all be different now, and the same. Now she’d seen him at his most open, his most bare. She knew him in a way she hadn’t before. And if it was possible, she loved him even more. They’d never be a thing, not that way, but they were a thing another way. Their characters were. She’d bring this closeness to every moment she was in front of a camera with him, in their alter egos. Clara loved the Doctor; Clara would know what this was like. Was that cold, to know she’d draw from this for her work, even as Peter brushed his lips against the end of her nose and said something half-coherent about how happy he was? Oh, Peter. No. It was all because of him. It was probably in the back of his mind even now. There wasn’t a moment when that mind wasn’t working.
Now it was hitting her, the wishes. If she’d been born twenty years earlier. If he’d been born twenty years later. If he hadn’t already found his soulmate. If she hadn’t already found hers. In another world, it would be very different right now. But she would take what she could from this: she and Peter were now the closest of friends, friends who knew each other intimately and had shared things that only the very closest of friends shared. She would never lose him as a friend now, not after this.
It was the hardest thing in the world to climb out of that bed, out of the warm arms of a half-asleep Peter, and get dressed again. He protested, grabbed her hand, tried to tug her back into bed with him. She kissed the end of his nose and extricated herself from him, did up the buttons of her shirt.
She shook her head. “I’m going to go home, nice and boring like I always do after our late nights.”
“You had a lot of wine. Can’t leave.”
“I’ll call a cab like always. It’ll be fine. Don’t fuss, Peter.”
He sighed, kissed her hand, and rolled over onto his side to watch her.
Jenna fiddled with her phone, summoned a cab. She showed Peter the map with the dot to reassure him she’d be able to reach home safely. He slid out of bed then, and the expression on his face told her he understood. He was too quick, this man, too deep. He had to know what she was thinking.
Another kiss at his door, deep, slow. “Thank you,” he said.
“Oh, Peter, sweetie, you’re welcome.”
“Not just this. Which was wonderful, please don’t think-- This was a gift. I meant it. What I said.”
“I know,” Jenna said. She let him kiss her one more time like that, one more time with heart in it, then untangled herself from him. “I’ll see you Monday in makeup. Don’t be late this time.”
He smiled and there was grief in it. She turned her back on him, because if she didn’t she wouldn’t ever be able to leave, and that wasn’t what either one of them wanted. Not really. One night. Once. His one incident. One sweet memory.
Jenna went out the door to catch her cab.