This was written entirely on my phone, or mostly, between Lubbock and Portales in February of this year. I was very excited about Season 8 of Doctor Who, but was also convinced it needed a proper ending instead of what we got. I’m still convinced it didn’t live up to its full dramatic potential, but I also think Moffat isn’t done with the arc he started for the Doctor in Season 5. There may be no ending to any of it. That’s fine, I wrote a divergent timeline. I don’t think Jack Parsons (another of my unhealthy fetishes) is a proper ending either, although I do still think he’d make a great historical episode. I’ve learned since writing this that the Doctor will at one point toward the end be known as The Beast, or some say he will. That changes this story a bit.
I’m tired, and I must check analytics and sleep. It’s been a good day kicking it with you all. Tomorrow is non-fiction day, if I find time or energy to post. Thanks for reading, and if you were directed here with a PM link on Facebook, I hope you think it was worthwhile. ❤
DOCTOR WHO SEASON 8B MINISERIES
Season 8B, Episode 1: Carrefour
“These are attack eyebrows!” — The Doctor
“Who frowned me this face?! …it’s like I’m trying to tell myself something!” — The Doctor
“You know Jackie fucking Chan about me. YOU KNOW FUCK ALL ABOUT ME! I am totally beyond the realms of your fucking tousle-haired, fucking dim-witted compre-fucking-hension! I don’t just take this fucking job home, you know. I take this job home, it fucking ties me to the bed, and it fucking fucks me from arsehole to breakfast! Then it wakes me up in the morning with a cup full of piss slung in my face, slaps me about the chops, to make sure I’m awake enough so it can kick me in the fucking bollocks! This job has taken me in every hole in my fucking body! Malcolm is gone! You can’t know Malcolm, because Malcolm is not here! Malcolm fucking left the building fucking years ago! This is a fucking husk, I am a fucking host for this fucking job. Do you want this job? Yes, you do fucking want this job. Then, you’re going to have to fucking swallow this whole fucking life and let it grow inside you like a parasite. Getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it fucking eats your insides alive and it stares out of your eyes and tells you what to do.” — Malcolm Tucker
“A rich heart may be under a poor coat.” — Scottish proverb
April 9, 1946. Pasadena, California.
A lonely genius stood at a chalkboard, surrounded by bookshelves. His mind was tormented by a fever dream, of history, human aspirations, space, time…the utter relativity of being a stupid ape with one heart but balls and a conscience…the Terrible Golden Task of genius, the heaviness of the crown. The propensity of geniuses to seek solace in manipulative redheads who at least pretended to care.
Inside every Lonely But At Least Victorious God and his tin dog he called a soul was a dead soldier. That much was sure. At least the soldier had died to bring bright, shining truth down the mountain to the Achaians — en to Pan. Crucified on four dimensions.
“Hadn’t he, Marjie?” The little boy lost in fairy tales seemed to wake in a cold sweat. There were, after thirty-three years give or take, still tigers under the bed where the nightlight should be.
“Hadn’t he what, Jack?” The one who cared took the chalk from his hands. Most of it was ground to a fine dust from his sweaty grip…almost like a powder. She hugged him, rocking back and forth…
November 21, 2016. CyberMaster Computer Healthcare Center, Chiswick, London, United Kingdom.
The red-haired woman stormed into the dingy shop, eyes blazing. She cared too much to ever be normal again. This was primarily because caring had led her to be normal, and that had gotten two people killed. Maybe three. The third, however, could still be saved. Care wasn’t coffee. It was morphine. It didn’t come in a cup. It came in an IV, one that if you stopped filling the bag your soul would die. But that kid Courtney Woods from her 2014 Gifted and Talented class had done a paper for extra social studies credit on a thing called ayahuasca…that came in a cup, was like morphine in potency, but not effect. He could take it. It would save him. Oh…the drink that forged the Warrior would seem bitter by comparison…but Wormwood was his only hope. And, since she was an incurable addict, and therefore cared about saving strange men in boxes, hers.
“Can I help you, dearie?” The bitch was playing dumb. That figured.
“You owe me, you fruity bastard.”
“You’ll never get anywhere by being a sexist shrew, honey.”
“Is that so, Prime Minister Saxon?” Her eyes narrowed. Care became a red ray. The red ray that had killed Osgood. “Say something nasty for once. Stop lying from your high horse.”
“You sound just like him. Like the Doctor, like me. I’m not so different, after all. And if I remember right, didn’t you tell one of my tin doughboys that you are the Doctor, and Clara Oswald never existed?” Her eyes twinkled merrily.
*CORRECT* That particular Cyberman’s voice haunted her waking hours just as Danny Who Had Been haunted her sleep.
“That’s why you owe me. Clara Oswald never existed. She was too busy caring to handle such menial bothers. We both want to save our friend from that…for very different reasons. I know as well as you do that my plan has more chance of working.” But not by much.
“Call him,” replied The Master — she liked the old title better. Gender was another corpse to step over on the way to crazy makeup sex, along with social norms, her true self…and whole galaxies, if it came to that. When would Clara learn?
“I uh…got mad and deleted his number. When I realized he’d lied to me about Gallifrey.”
“And you to him. I should write an advice column in a newspaper. For Impossible Girls, by Impossible Girls. What to do when your date is a half-faced man who eats children while dreaming of the Promised Land.”
“Say when. In any case…RULE NUMBER ONE! WHEN YOU BREAK UP, NEVER DELETE HIS NUMBER!” Spittle flew. Actual snot spanged off the shelf behind Clara’s head. Some poor kid looked up from perusing 3D cards, across the shop entirely out of earshot.
“We didn’t…look, can I have the number or not?”
The Master nodded. “You need the help, not him. Remember what kind of help this line gives when you wonder why I gave it to you.”
She handed the helpfully, nobly useful itinerant idiot a card and went back to planning ideals that got results. Chumps saved the world. Masters burned worlds, plural, in bulk. They cared enough to be honest.
November 21, 2016. Foreman’s Fish and Chips, near Coal Hill Elementary School, London, United Kingdom.
The sound of a dying vacuum cleaner echoed outside. Clara sipped her latte, wondering if the irony of being a warped biological lifeform trapped in a square vacuum instead of a round one had sunk into the Best Dalek yet. She waited, bemused. It was hard to hate people you cared about.
The Doctor walked in, flourishing a cape he had doubtless found at some 51st century flea market. His entrance, predictably, was ruined by the girl in the corner booth. “Impossible! Clara…so good to see you!”
“Right on all three.” She stood and walked briskly toward him. “Come along. Coal Hill G&T is in session.”
“Where are we going? I’m a pudding brained shoplifter now?!” He followed her anyway…others had for less kindness from him, and he was paying it forward — in a typically timey-wimey self-absorbed sort of way that unconsciously circled solipsistically around kidneys of unspeakable color. He was already learning. This would be fun.
“Yes you are. But you pretend to be a math teacher. And where, I don’t know. I do care, though. Field trip, basically. Maybe a fucking omnishambles. That’s up to you.”
He raised one eyebrow to a rakish angle, like a dueling saber at the ready. Then, counting the cost to a soul he’d rejected since before he died on Karn, he put it back down. “I hope someday I am a distant second to the best math teacher you and I have ever met, Clara.”
“Don’t talk about students who are absent, Doctor. It’ll end up on your permanent record right next to the words ‘I’m coming to get you’ and an attachment link to the UNIT file on Rose Tyler. A+ in righteous rage. Care needs improvement. Recommend hold student back at least eleven grades until this is no longer an issue.”
She licked her lips. “Your IEP is ten miles long.”
“Yes ma’am.” It was all he could really say. She was right. But didn’t she realize he knew that? Was this overeducated young English twerp trying to solve his problems, as if he hadn’t TRIED and was incapable of succeeding, ot even required a solution to…himself existing? How…pudding brained.
In the TARDIS, Clara helped herself to the psychic interface. “I care about you. I care about you gaining the wherewithal to help yourself. I’m not cold and superior like you. ‘Poor me, dying alone and misunderstood with work left to do, above the sea of fog on the Holy Mountain!’ Tosh. You don’t care about anyone but you. You don’t want to go, and you won’t when you finally win. Where do you not want to go so badly? I care enough to take you there.”
“You can’t pass through the time lock. Or did she show you how when you got the number again?”
“Her. Gallifrey. You’re hopeless. That’s not how caring about your motives enough to save you from yourself works. That’s a place, a poison you want to be your friend. A target you can pretend isn’t you.”
The Doctor indicated the TARDIS with a theatrical sweep of his right arm.”This is a place. It’s bigger than you can ever know.” He let the other two things she’d mentioned hang by the thread they had with every companion who had ever seen something in him since the Academy. He hoped it was starting to fray.
Clara pursed her lips and stabbed her hands into the gel basin, imagining stabbing two hearts with knives made of care. The way Doctors do.
April 10, 1946. Pasadena, California. United States of America.
Marjorie Cameron had no idea what Jack Parsons saw in her sometimes. They had met in a manic blaze of puppy love, magical idealism, and explosive sex magick…a fairy tale. The mad genius from space, and the impossible girl. It couldn’t last. But hell…the Big Bang cooled, once, and the only bad things that had come of that were Hitler, L Ron Hubbard, and Iowa. Of these, Iowa was undoubtedly the worst.
But Jack didn’t do cool. He was still a beast raging against a dying star. He ranted and raved at three in the morning about Babalon, Rockets, incomprehensible, incoherent theories about Love Under Will as a fifth-dimensional magical tool that created Future Us who would complete the circuit and save Us Now as above so below and that’ll be your daughter, Cammie isn’t it fantastic? He never said OUR. That worried her more than the fact that she had made it clear she had absolutely no idea what he was talking about in January and really wanted no part of it.
His mind was beautiful, just like his heart. But they were beautiful the way stained glass was beautiful. Vivid colors showed the sun in his holiness — vivid colors made from shattered shards of clarity drenched in poisonous heavy metals and lovingly put back together again, almost whole but also so much more.
So she listened. She was smart, but not Jack smart. Love was her gift, and all he saw was a womb with red hair that came when he called out to the night. He was a Magi…he’d get the Gifts they truly offered each other soon enough. Then he would be healed enough to do some good for people bigger and better than her.
A curious sound punctuated her stovetop scrambled egg reverie…like a dying cow mixed with one of Jack’s rockets. It was coming from out back. She ran to the kitchen door, looking at the blue plinth smacking of an alien divinity that had parked next to Jack’s workshop, gobsmacked. California. Just…California.
“I will give you a war engine.” Jack had theorized that the War Engine described in this prophecy his guru had written was an extraterrestrial craft of the kind people we might mistake for Gods flew…given that he was convinced humans WERE gods, this was a serious claim. Less serious by comparison was the fact that such “merkaba” had to also be able to travel in space, time, and some form of “polydimensional manifold”.
This might be it. “Jack, love…come here.” An old Scotsman and a young redhead stepped out of the box, which looked huge inside from this side of the door. These “praeterhuman intelligences” had chosen their form with a goal in mind. Jack said they did that a lot.
There were four knocks at the door. “Well I’ll be damned.” Jack grinned. He opened the door.
The older man produced an identification card from his wallet and held it up. “Doctor Malcolm Tucker, Air Force Intelligence. Missy Oswald, my secretary. May we come in?”
Jack was overjoyed. “Yes sir! Have I ever got something to show you!”
Marjorie took the ID card and frowned at it with far more eyebrow than was really necessary. “I call bullshit. This says I’m The Doctor. An idiot in a box, just traveling and hoping to be useful. Learning!” She smirked.
“Sounds like something Jack would say.”
Clara sighed. “We just arrived in town. Frankly, I have no idea how we ended up here. We’re basically lost. Anyway, we saw an ad in the paper. You offer free rooms to deviants, eccentrics, idealists? That’s us, yeah?”
“I’ll trust your judgment on that, Miss…”
“Oswald. Clara Oswald. I will not lie to you. She will.” The Doctor drew himself to his full height and smiled confidently. He was going to enjoy this.
Season 8B. Episode 2: Oculus Sinister
April 11, 1946. The Parsonage, Pasadena.
“What am I supposed to learn here, Clara?” The Doctor sat with his Gifted and Talented class teacher in a side room normally used, apparently, for occult rituals. This house and everyone in it had a specific form of artron energy all over them, which worried the Doctor a bit. It was the personal mark of a Time Lord called The Beast, who had been obsessed with Ancient Egypt and the magical arts. He had become a Time Lord analogue to Icarus in the Last Great Time War, when he had dropped into Dalek territory to set up a long trap at Cairo-1904-draft0. Apparently the cleanup crew had missed this angle of his plan. And this angle was a fixed point in time.
If the Beast worried the Doctor, the four of them meeting at this exact fixed point in time absolutely terrified him.
“I have no idea anymore. I cared about what you might become without me to care for you, and I was sorry for what I’d done to you and how it had ended and I panicked trying to help you help me and pretended I was better than you and tried to save you from being a sad lonely madman, which you seem to enjoy and even seem to have chosen and now here we are. In the back end of crazy town. And knowing how I got your number again…”
“Yeah. That last part worries me a bit, but she’s nothing you and I can’t handle together after last time, right?” Last time had cost Clara her soul and won him his back. But she had to lose hers to ever be who she wanted to be. And she was getting there.
“I’m afraid I’ll lose someone else I care for. And I can’t do that.” They were alone here, friendless. He knew who she meant, and that person had lost someone he cared deeply for eleven times, and others he cared much more deeply for even more than that. He knew the risks and even if he was invincible, understood her fears. It was the slight change in her caring that had just become the puzzle at the heart of this maze.
“You can never truly lose someone you care for, Clara. That is the only comfort other than action and solutions I can give you. If you ever really, truly understand that you will know the Master did not bring us together.”
She smiled. “You’re not my boyfriend. It was a mistake to imagine so. You were my Dad, Doctor…the dad for a girl who never really existed. And you were starting to be PE’s too.”
He nodded, trying to figure out how he could be a dad if he had never cut the Thanksgiving turkey for her family. And wasn’t the fact that she had a father already sort of…relevant? He knew why he called humans pudding brains, anyway. Same reason he hated the Architect.
“I’m assuming it wasn’t my mistake this time?”
She grinned. “Head of the class, young man!”
He rose, confident that his companion would follow him because she cared for him, not because he was a God among mortals, a docent in the Hall of Wonders, like some TV showrunner or something. Because she was herself and that meant she cared, he was himself and that meant he cared. It wasn’t romance. Romance was vulgar, clingy. A patch on the barter system in an age when sentient beings tended to use more complex economies for everything BUT souls. It was the kind of thing he’d had conversations about on many long, late nights with another Time Lord who called himself the Carpenter, at another dimensional cross and fixed point long ago. Love. Not her love. Not human love. Not his.
They walked into the dining room, enjoying the spectacle they’d been permitted to witness. Something was going down here, the Doctor knew that much. The words “prognosis grim” echoed back at him from his second heart, the one that held fast when his body died and burned when his soul was birthed from the desolate eggshell it had ridden. In his froon kidneys, he knew that if he called the time of death on Jack Parsons, he had killed the Moon and human dreams.
The TARDIS had a mind of its own. But it could be easily enchanted by magick, as it was a muddled, poorly understood form of space-time vortex energy manipulation. That was why the Beast being involved worried him…what if Jack had gotten something right?
“Hello, Doctor. Ron was telling me about you.”
“He’s seen you in visions. You’re an agent of the Markab Confederacy, he says, Here to disrupt the work. He says you’ve interfered with science fiction writer mystics like him before, but not yet.”
Twelve raised an eyebrow sharply, a hackle that would really rather be an anti-ballistic missle shield. “He’s right about the third. The Victorious Achronal Lawgiver In Spacetime project, 1974. I’m…an alien from the future. But the Markab Confederacy is…fictional. Trust me. If they were real they’d have been in the Last Great Time War at the Battle of Cairo in 1904, wouldn’t they, Frater TOPAN? Now tell me. What work does your friend claim I’m disrupting?”
“Aeonics.” The Doctor raised an eyebrow, but Jack kept talking. “We are invoking the Goddess Babalon to dwell in Marjorie Cameron here, make their essences one. Then she shall conceive. If there is a Messiah, humans will create her, not mythologizing preachers, teachers, priests, mediators, interfering, meddling busybodies intent on a hierarchy of restriction. This will usher in a new age of human potential, including space travel to other stars. We shall not need healing anymore, for we shall have never been sick. I’m sort of viewing the work through the ontological paradox lens right now.”
Twelve looked at Clara. Clara looked at Twelve. “That’s so pudding brained its ears are leaking froon goop. It’s the closest to the most inanely pudding-brained thing I’ve ever heard. Clara…I think I’m in love with this wonderful little idiot’s brain.”
Jack laughed. “You’re…serious? It’s insane, delusional, and also you really love it?”
“I told you you weren’t alone,” Marjorie said quietly.
“I’m just…uh….what?” Clara worked her jaw as if she was trying to keep it from falling off.
“But you care for him anyway, even if he’s…addled.” Cameron smiled.
“Yes.” These two were very familiar in a way that was both comfortable and deeply unsettling at the same time. Was that because of the fixed point messing up her intuition, or…?
“You said ontological paradox. Your whole worldview smacks of a…former colleague of mine. The one who died at Cairo in 1904.”
“Died?” Jack sounded…dubious. His eyes said he was confused, though.
”Well, you just haven’t got the memo yet. Next year, linear unlocked chronology.”
“He has been ill. But that’s absurd. Crowley’s a man, like you or I, only more daft and British and genius-like” — Clara burst out laughing and Jack barreled on — “and knows less about science than I do. He put ultraviolet at the end of the visible light spectrum in a Holy Book he channeled…the high end.”
That was interesting. “The Black Sun. The Gargantuan Alchemy. Tell me. Who did this…Crowley channel the book from?”
“A praeterhuman intellgence by the name of Aiwaz. A tall, swarthy presence, definitely a powerful man…never yells kind of powerful. Secret Chief. Holy Guardian Angel of Crowley, who appointed him The Great Beast and tasked him with leading a New Aeon for Mankind.”
The Doctor pounded the end table, rising from the couch in a single upward explosion. “THAT’S why this is all wrong, Clara!”
“You see, there is a fixed point in time and this is why. This area is still a live fire zone in the Time War, but it’s also crossing over here in real life outside the time lock, and so it’s…it’s really, really, all sorts of not good. Name a flavor. It’s that one and 57 plus 23 plus 31 more,”
“Gematria?” Jack scratched his head.
“No, you dolt! Heinz, Dr Pepper, Baskin Robbins. Food. Don’t you masticate comestibles like a normal pudding brain, or do you just pretend your reflection and everything else are low-budget community theatre Untempered Schisms and Skovox Blitzers?”
“I believe you’ve found your match, Jack.” Marjorie was quiet, tense. This…Doctor was everything he said he was. No doubt about it. No one could make up something that…batshit insane and be real about it. Not unless he was a British tabloid journalist.
The Doctor stabbed his hand toward a fresh piece of chalk and seized it. He began to scribble gashes, incisions, angles of vision, plans of attack, adding seamlessly onto Jack’s equations, sigils and doodles. “Magick…I haven’t done magick in years.”
Jack grinned. Santa Claus apparently had him on the nice list.
Clara looked on, wondering how bad it could be. Jack was companion material. She wasn’t. That meant they had a balance going, at least.
“Gnothi Seaton.” The Doctor spoke Greek in a sonorous accent, which Clara recognized as Roman.
“Know thyself. The motto of the Oracle at Delphi.”
“I was there.” The Doctor glared. “I didn’t have this face then. That’s why I’m glaring at you.”
“I’m going to throw you a bone, Jack. Violating the laws of causality by relaying a folk proverb disguised as a scientific study cannot harm you or your timeline.”
“Listen carefully. The Dunning-Kriger effect will be identified in the 21st century. It states that you have to have vast amounts of expertise to know what you don’t know. Therefore everyone in the world whose brain hasn’t grasped this looks like a pudding brain, a stupid ape,.or a meandering idiot to those who have the brain and eyes to see.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying you’re too smart to know how much trouble we’re in, and I’m just dumb enough to pull us out of this. That makes you me from last year and me you if you learn something and live through –” he stabbed at the chalkboard, splintering the chalk and the slate alike with a Venusian Aikido blade fist “– THIS.”
“What is…that?” Clara and Jack spoke in unison as Marjorie stood silent, eyes closed, caring.
“It’s what you asked for, you blithe blithering blighter! It’s either your wildest space cadet dreams come true and the Moon’s oh….I don’t know, probably a dragon or something, or it’s your whole planet turning into one giNORMOUS Untempered Schism and also you all die, but before you go mad. Which is either a mercy or a horrible fate, depending on how you look at it. Then the Time War starts up again, and I go mad cleaning up messes for people who don’t deserve it because apparently I derive existential satisfaction and possibly sexual pleasure from doing such idiotic things that…meandering itinerant fools with no hills to stand on and no manifesto to gibber about AND NO BLOODY TENURE like to do.”
Clara looked at Marjorie. Marjorie looked at Clara. Jack looked at the Doctor, eyes shining. “All of that sounds fine to me.”
“That’s because you’re the type of wandering idiot who’s just smart enough to know what he likes and rush in thinking he’ll get it. You probably even mean well. Poor bastard.” The Doctor smiled thinly. “Next thing you know you’re being cremated. Maybe by an ex-girlfriend.”
“Oh. Well what do I do? You seem like a military type…about to give an order of some momentously daring kind.”
“I still come across that way? Military Intelligence, Jack. That’s what I do and that’s why there isn’t any. Because it’s up to people like me.”
“I used to analyze photographic data, Doctor. In the War. I have…visions. I’m getting one right now.” Cameron’s voice was an incredible fire.
“Yeah? Go on then! Don’t just choke on it!”
Clara sat back down, head spinning. This was insane. He was in his element and she was not. But she cared for him and let him work, simply knowing she’d see him through. Insane meandering idiot Doctor wasn’t hers…she was the only Competent, Self-Righteous, Overconfident, Likely Murderous Doctor That Lies left on staff. And that was a job that…might need to be done, if what she was hearing was true.
“TIME IS.” Marjorie’s eyes glowed red, looking like the vortex energy that accompanies regeneration and always will, only malevolent. Bestial.
“Let her GO!” Jack screamed, eyes bulging with rage.
“Oh, I will,” said The Beast. “I do exactly what I Will, no more and no less.”
“You sold the humans your saccharine lies masking the truth of your actual sick-minded philosophy, didn’t you?” The Doctor was atypically furious, even for his twelfth self.
“Yes. Lies with more moral truth than my own philosophy and more dreams by half, to lull them to sleep until the hot noonday sun comes. The Noonday Sun of the Eye of Shiva. Oh, Doctor…”
The Beast spooled out of Marjorie’s body in a sort of lateral dimensional translation, becoming a living column of radioactive flame on the living room rug. It did not burn or destroy anything it touched or anything in the room…curious, but a parlor trick to a Time Lord.
“I’ve already started. First we take Manhattan, then Silence turns to Speech, then we kill the Moon. Jack sets it up, Jack knocks it down. Ontological trap. So busy following their dreams they don’t realize they’re in somebody else’s dreams. Nightmares happen. Gods rot in the void. Time itself burns. Everybody wins in the long-term physitachyonic accounting. Say it with me, little boy…”
NOW I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS. TIME IS. I AM. I WILL. Jack was no longer himself, but a vessel for an ancient evil.
Clara Oswald looked at Marjorie Cameron. Their eyes met, and Cameron knew what was going to happen before anyone else did, likely even Clara.
“Remember me. Hes too blithely idiotic pretending to be smart, Jack is worse. Remember that I cared for him when he forgot how.” Not that I cared about people because he forgot how. I never really did and he never really had, she thought.
Marjorie nodded. “Care, Soror.”
“I damn well will. Come here, Beast! I am the Daughter of Babalon in whom the impossible hopes of humanity are sealed! I never existed, I only cared! I cared ABOUT for way too damned long and now I’m going to care FOR you personally, you sad sack of a treasonous aristocratic officer! No one loves you, no one’s really EVER loved you enough to care for you for who you are, but I WILL and you will THANK ME!” She was channeling Danny, she knew.
“You are a pathetic worm. A hollow shell. A dust devil who holds the gate to oblivion between her legs.”
“But I LISTEN to you. No one else will. I abdicate you of responsibility to yourself and others by caring so you don’t have to, preparing to usurp your role. Giving you a challenge and a friend and an ear, when all along I was you teaching your madcap wonderfully confused self a lesson and asking for its truest friend back…itself. What does that make me, if you need me to do all this for you?”
“A Good Doctor at last,” whispered the last of the Time Lords.
“You are delusional. Full of yourself. Above your station. Malicious, manipulative, artificial, full of lies that serve as an admission ticket to the amusement park you call three-dimensional existence.” The Beast would mock her until she took his tongue. More fun for her that way, so it was all right.
“Right you are, sir! That;’s why we’re going to get on just like old friends!” Clara stood firm, grinning madly, eyes twin suns. “Now listen here, you scum! COME AND GET ME SO I CAN GO BE WITH DANNY!”
That last bit of caring did the trick. The urge to actually LIVE and CARE and EXIST and MATTER jump-started her in a way nothing ever had or would for any other mortal human, and Clara Oswald Existed. The fabric of time bent around her and even a rebellious Time Lord was compelled, forced, to attain his True Will. He possessed her, or thought he did, as Jack and Marjorie looked on, transfixed, and the Doctor hid his face from the horror of hard, idiotic choices that proved to be right all along. Hid from ideals, hid from certitude, hid from righteousness and hid from saving people. Hid from the next Companion to die on his behalf, but one who had died for Gallifrey and all of the universe as well. Hid, like a scared and lonely boy, in a barn loft…
Only this time it was safe. He wasn’t good enough to stop the same old script from playing out. But he was cared for. If it looked like refuge in normality now…well, John Smith had proved that Normal was an impossibly beautiful variable. Time was, and he would understand someday.
“Only idiots and monsters travel with the Doctor.” The Daughter of Babalon, guarantor of the Human Dream, spoke in a voice like fire and water and bitter wormhole light. “Clara Oswald was once, unwittingly, both. You have always truly willed to be both, and I hope you truly understand someday that that is so. Care for yourself, Doctor…you are worth it. You are worth knowing the monster and the idiot are in the same labyrinth.”
Jack spoke. “What about us?”
“The Doctor cares for you. I do. You are not yet done.”
“Doctor. One more thing.”
“Yes, Clara, Daughter of Babalon?” There was a lump in a gruff throat that had never felt such a thing before. Oh, younger men had…but this…no. Please no. Not again. Not even this beautifully, and not because she cares for me…
“I always had the sneaking suspicion only a monster would travel with the Doctor. I always felt it was because monsters know their own. You nearly proved me right on both parts. But now I understand. I was idiot enough to be monster without cause, and monster enough to be the bad kind of idiot at times. Now I’ve got that problem fixed. I thought it was impossible.” Her newfound form glowed froon, just for him, and he felt a hand close gently around his ankle.
“Shush. Thank you forever and ever so much. Now run, you clever boy, and find Gallifrey.”
There was a blinding flash and then
Season 8B, Episode 3: Motes and Moments, OR A Tale Told By The Doctor, Which Means A Lot (At least to him)
April 11, 1946. Pasadena, California.
The Doctor stood in the living room with Jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron, feeling an incalculable sense of…difference. Change had not caused him loss, nor had it gained anything substantial. He liked that feeling. Grief would happen in its time, but there was an eerie peace and comfort in his two hearts right now. A warmth that his coat could not provide. A smile creasing on a face that had been born in a volcanic frown.
Did he…care for the lonely God now? And did that mean he wasn’t lonely anymore?
“What…we were just talking about the White Sands rocket program and there was someone else here, I thought. I remember…a presence. A sort of kindness and malice at once. Much like you, Doctor.” Jack Parsons smiled sheepishly, knowing the Doctor wouldn’t take offense.
“There always is, Jack. Someone listening. Caring not so you don’t have to, but because you won’t, in your hurt and angry pride. That’s what your Holy Guardian Angel is…that’s what the other person here was, and that’s what Marjorie is. Care for her. But never, ever care for her in return, as if it was a transaction, business. She doesn’t need a raise, she needs love.”
He turned to Cameron. “And you don’t let him get lost. Pampering forgetful, boyish professors makes bad things happen. We’ve survived bad things almost nearly as bad, but I can’t clean up after that specific bad thing. I just rearrange it, like some kind of well-meaning, hopeful idiot. Who at last is aware he’s an idiot and not upset about it. Make sure Jack is too, someday.”
She smiled, throwing her arms around the Doctor and kissing him on the cheek. “I will. Thank you.”
“Gah! I forgot to specify! No hugging! Not even in this kind of situation…especially not!” Twelve laughed, a deep, sonorous True laugh. Jack and Marjorie joined in, a sort of relief flowing through them from they knew not what tension.
“Now, I really must wander off again and try not to make too big a mess. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. That’s why I chose a Scotsman, I think.”
Jack reached out a hand to shake. “Goodbye, Doctor.”
The Doctor nearly pumped it off with bear-like gregariousness and enthusiasm. “For a man like you, Jack? No goodbyes. I can travel in time…that’s an extremely serious word for me to use.”
“All right then. Until…next…” Jack grinned.
“Yes. Time. You will likely die thinking you’re funny for that, and more power to you.” The Doctor’s eyes twinkled.
Then he was off, the TARDIS whooping and coughing and sputtering and bouncing and sparking. It wasn’t too old to live, yet. Neither was he. They didn’t know where they were going…likely alone for a couple hundred years or so…but they wanted to go there. And when you finally decide you want to go…not even a timelock can stop you from getting home.
It’s where you’ve always been, after all. And if you want to go there, Gallifrey and a new companion shouldn’t be hard to manage.