He was in rut. In heat. In whatever it was that happened when his species decided to mate. He hated it. It was miserable.
They were walking in an alien market at festival time, bantering, and there it was. He got a whiff of Clara’s scent and something in his endocrine system decided that this was the scent of his fertile, willing partner, and it flooded over him. He stopped in place and tried to breathe. Clara turned back to him, laid a hand on his arm. He shook from head to toe.
“Get me out of here,” he said.
She glanced down at his trousers, as discreetly as she could, and then led him away to the nearest place where they could act on his needs. His needs. His utter lack of free will.
A hotel, near the park where the festival was in full swing, wrought iron and wood, smelling inside like tobacco and incense. Clara showing his psychic paper because his own hands were trembling, and then leading him up creaking wooden stairs to a long carpeted hallway. A single room, high ceilings, windows open onto a balcony and the market below, a four-poster bed. He was upon her almost before she’d closed the door, on her, carrying her to the bed, lifting her skirt and ripping away her knickers.
“I liked those,” Clara said, but there was resignation in her voice. She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him all the way inside. She clamped a hand over his mouth when he came, so the noise wouldn’t carry down to the street. She herself came silently, a gasp and moment of stillness, then the shudder.
“Why is it taking so long?” he said to her, and the whine in his voice made him ashamed.
“It’s been less than a month,” Clara said. “It can take human couples a lot longer than that sometimes.”
He rolled onto his face and clasped an arm over his head. A fellow Gallifreyan would have responded to his pheromones before this. Clara was responding, but more slowly than he could bear. He’d fallen for a human. Short lifespans, brilliant adaptability and courage, and so much patience. So much, for a species so fleeting.
Hours in the hotel, while the long hot twilight of that planet deepened, Clara sending down for food from the street below, animal flesh and vegetables on long wooden skewers. He ate, and took her again, and drank water, and at last the fit had passed. His body had decided it was time to give her a day to conceive, time to wait.
They stopped traveling to dangerous places, which was to say, fun places. Quiet boring places only, uninhabited or with tidy-minded civilizations. He begged the TARDIS to send him only to dull backwaters; she tried to comply but it was tricky. He would attract chaos. Cause it, even. The time on the Cybermen ship had been the worst, locked into a weapons supply room, pinning her against a rack of rocket launchers and biting at her neck while she groaned in dismay.
Afterward he went to his knees and apologized profusely, so miserable and ashamed.
“It’s not your fault,” she said. “But I think we should probably stay on the TARDIS until this is over.”
Being confined to the TARDIS was worse, because between fits he was the same being he’d always been, and he was bored. Bored bored bored. Time, moving forward stepwise, no adrenaline rushes, no thrill of victory. There was nothing to win at, inside the TARDIS.
He would say he was bored with sex, but he was not bored with sex. His body wouldn’t let him be bored with sex. Hormones flooding through him, testosterone, other androgens that only Gallifreyans in heat produced, a strange brew in his blood, intoxicating him. Coming was the only thing that gave him peace. His body was in revolt against everything he’d ever valued. He had muscles in his thighs, in his shoulders and back. He ate constantly. When he was able to tear himself away from Clara he went to the TARDIS gym and moved until exhaustion claimed him and the unbearable drives faded. He’d mocked poor Danny Pink, called him PE, but now he was the same thing. A warrior, designed by evolution and by Time Lord geneticists, to defend his mate against predators long extinct.
O Clara, his Clara, so patient with him through it.
“When I’m honest,” she said, “truly honest, this might be the first time in my life I’ve had as much sex as I wanted. The first time I had a partner but still didn’t feel the need to, you know, on my own every day anyway.”
“Oh,” he said, and wondered what she would make of him after it faded, when it was something he could be coaxed into doing for love but never for his own desires. It was hard to imagine this right now, on the floor of the library, Clara on hands and knees, he behind her. And then he couldn’t think at all because he was pushing inside her, and all he knew was her, Clara Clara Clara, his soulmate.