Doctor (10) / Master (Simm) , Theta/KoscheiRating:
Spoilers for the End of Time, allusions to 11's appearance and the Doctor & Master's older aliasesDisclaimer:
I own nuffink! A/N:
Reposted from my journal. This fic will probably expose my glaring lack of knowledge of some of the earlier series (I'm watching them, I am, it takes time!) so there'll probably be a version 2.0 when I realize how wrong I was about this or that (I know about the Matrix, but I have no idea if the Gallifreyan sky is gray or still burnt orange when stormy, so I went with the color combination I liked). For now, it is a pure bit of unbetaed candy-floss waffy fluff. And yet, warning for character deaths. Sort of.Summary:
Where do we go when we die?
He dreamed in colors so deep that he felt them as much as he saw them. The long grass, shuddering in the wind of the oncoming storm, was an organ-red garnet, rustling like a war rattle. The verdant red color always struck him right below his navel, running down through his thighs and groin.
"Count to a million, don't peek."
Somehow in this dream he wasn't peeking, even though his eyes were wide open. The storm wind gusted, blowing his hair forward and pressing his clothes around his back, the heavy heat in the air making it feel so deliberate on the part of the weather. The roiling gray of the sky hit him between the shoulder blades and up his neck, and the sky lit up in a threefold flicker. That went straight to his hearts, spark spark spark
heat lightning electrifying the dark gray.
It shouldn't affect him like this. He'd known these colors since his infant eyes developed enough to recognize them, but something was out there in that red grass, waiting to be found, and there was something in the sky, waiting to find him.
He counted, brilliant mind slashing through the numbers like a scythe, like an out of control train, barreling toward the wall that was one million.
"Ready or not," he said into the storm, looked around twice, and then went the way the wind pushed him.
The gusts picked up, making his gait uneven as the tip of each blade of grass were lashed back and forth, stinging just slightly against whatever bare skin it could reach. Everything smoothed out, his stride losing first stagger, then all rhythm, until he moved so fast his feet only skimmed the ground, fluid and swift until he was the wind, until he was the lightning.
There was a break in the waves of the grass- not as many blades as there should be, deviation in the chaos. It was what he'd been looking for, and the moment he laid eyes on it, he couldn't see anything else, moving as fast as he could to see what caused it. The closer he got, the thicker the air grew, the closer the storm clouds felt, until his feet (bare, always in his dreams, why bother with laces in your dreams?) planted in the cool soil and his body cascaded forward and he caught himself on his hands, fingers tangling in the grass.
He would wake up now. That's what happened at this point, every time, in this dream.
"You found me!" greeted him instead, in a familiar voice filled with delight. He didn't know what to say. He was usually awake now, with empty arms and hollow drumming in his head.
Framed in red grass was his favorite of any face he'd seen, the pointy one with hazelnut eyes and dark hair that stuck up in every direction like the grass he lay in. It was not the face he'd played hide and seek with as a boy, and from the lack of any thick black locks flopping into his own eyes, he was fairly certain that his own face wasn't the same either. The only sounds, besides their voices, were the wind, the rustle of the grass, and the occasional mutter of distant thunder. Not a war drum anywhere in his head from the moment he'd collapsed onto this man.
"What are you doing here?" he asked the man he hadn't expected to find. "How
are you here?"
The man under him looked confused.
"We're playing hide and seek," he answered. "Let me up; it's your turn to count."
He pushed the man back down.
"What?" the man asked again, glaring with a pout.
here," the man who'd been 'it' snapped. "The dream never goes this far, how did you get in here?"
Those clever eyes widened.
"You don't know!" he cried, then broke into a bright smile. "That's wonderful!
The man tightened his grip, utterly lost in this conversation, an infuriatingly familiar feeling, like he was trying to track a gathering storm blindfolded.
It wasn't far from the truth.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Theta, you know that," his captive replied, but in a gentle tone.
He shook his head.
"Not anymore," he smiled. Unable to work out the puzzle, the first man sighed, and gave up.
"What happened?" he asked, letting go of Theta or possibly though supposedly not the Doctor's shoulders and sitting back, though he kept his seat on his legs.
Theta pushed himself up on the heels of his hands and gave the first man a delighted look.
"We've died!" he exclaimed. "Radiation poisoning for me, some sort of weird electrical temporal vacuumy vortexy thing for you," he paused. "Show off."
"That was your thirteenth?" the man asked, ignoring the little jibe. "I was the third Master. Or sixteenth. But either way, I had more to go..."
"Oh no no no, so did I, still going, ticking along- wearing a bow tie of all things- but I... you... these us-es, have died, Koschei."
He opened his mouth to protest, but before he could even take a breath.
"It is so
your name. We've died. Done. Finito. Shuffled off our semi-mortal coils. Nobody talks about their job in the afterlife!"
"So they play hide and seek instead," Koschei said, dubious.
"Well why not?" Theta replied, grinning. "It was your favorite, running in the wind, and all the rest of it, it's someone else's problem now. All the running away, the running toward, the crises, all my worldly duties are the job of a boy with odd cheekbones and a penchant for bow ties now."
Theta shuffled backwards in the grass, the blades bruising and leaving streaks of red smudges on his clothes, then turned to lay on his back so that he was looking up at Koschei.
“I always wondered, always, what happened to us. Each regeneration is so bloody special, so unique, I couldn't believe that we just vanish, nothing more than memories for a different man.”
“How many times has that optimism gotten you killed?” Koschei asked, but the derision he wanted just didn't come across, and Theta laughed.
“That's the point. I
have only died once. You've managed to pull off twice.”
"Because I'm a show off," Koschei filled in. Theta chuckled.
"And our heavenly reward is my childhood yard."
"It can be whatever we wish it to be," Theta corrected, and the scenery cycled like a silent slide show: A similar field but on Earth, 10 Downing Street, on stage at a Lucasian opera house, drifting in space among the stars, and back to the garnet fields. Koschei took all this in, and then looked down at Theta.
"Which begs the question. Are you really here?"
Theta responded by squinting at him, nose scrunching up like a rabbit who'd gotten stuck.
"What are you doing?" Koschei asked. "Cover your mouth if you're going to sneeze, please."
"'M trying to make you different. Change your eyes or something."
"Is it working?"
"No, still brown," Theta replied, letting his face relax.
"Maple," Koschei corrected.
"Whatever. Now do me. Ooh, try to make me ginger!"
Koschei peered at him closely, concentrating. Nothing changed, not so much as a strand went orange.
"Not working, and you'd look ridiculous as a ginger anyway. So what does that prove?"
"Try to change what's around us. The grass-"
"I get it," Koschei cut him off. The grass turned into shimmering golden stalks like miniature wheat, one of which Theta plucked and stuck between his teeth, his freckles making him look like a rapscallion from a Twain story.
"There! If you can change the environment and so can I, but I can't change you and you can't change me-" Theta prompted.
"I get it, dearest, we're both real."
"Real and really together!
It's marvelous! We can go anyplace in the universe, and anyplace we can invent, together."
"What if I don't want to?" Koschei asked. Usually this would've prompted a sad, wounded puppy look, but this time, Theta's grin went well past joyful and straight into elation. He reached up, winding his arms around Koschei's neck and shoulders and pulled him to the ground too, wriggling until he was sitting on top of him.
"You want to," Theta said with smug confidence.
"You sound fairly sure of yourself."
"Dead certain, if you'll pardon the double entendre. Because you're here, and if you didn't want to be here with me you wouldn't be, which means you love me, and I knew it all along. You're so stubborn!
Koschei rolled his eyes, and Theta cackled, moving above him so no matter which way Koschei flicked his gaze, Theta was there.
"I can't imagine why," Koschei said dryly, moving his eyes faster, making a game of forcing Theta to try to keep up.
"You love me, you love me," Theta sing-songed through his laughter.
"Well obviously you love me as well, you brat," Koschei pointed out.
"Of course I do! I never stopped; I'm so relieved you died too."
Koschei couldn't help himself and burst out laughing.
"Theta, that's far and away the worst declaration of love I've heard in ages. Maybe ever."
Theta shrugged and kissed him, and again, and again.
"If I'd known it'd be like this, I'd've died years ago," he sighed happily, sprinkling kisses over Koschei's eyelids, nose, forehead and cheeks. Drops of rain began to join them, forcing Koschei to blink.
"Let's get inside," he said. "It's going to rain."
Theta planted one last kiss square on his mouth.
"Olly olly oxen free," he beamed, getting to his feet and starting to scamper toward a house on the hill. Koschei got to his feet and ran after.
"Ready or not," he replied.