Doc / Adric slash story
Well, I have at last decided to bite the bullet. I wrote the gen version of Time After Time a few months ago but even while writing it, i had the idea for turning it slash - just never quite got the nerve. Even now I am umming and ahhing because it isn't that much different so if you have read the gen version, you may fall asleep! ;)
The gen version can be found at the teaspoon and Open Mind archive under Elanor.
Rather than paste in the WHOLE thing, I have put here just the bits that have changed. So chaps 1 to 3 are unchanged - they are the same for both versions. So we begin the slash version, here with chap 4.
Time After Time Slash Version
He was a hypocrite.
He had self-righteously fought Atropos’s meddling with Gallifrey’s destiny when he himself was trying to halt Adric’s. Oh, he’d tried to convince himself and his friends that the two were entirely different, trotting out half-baked theories and generalities – that what was done was done, that altering one person’s fate was entirely different from changing that of a whole planet.
For the last two weeks, since their escape from Gallifrey, he had been running away from this moment but, as Atropos had said, you can’t fight fate. No more hiding, no more denial. He had come here to the Console Room in the dead of night while his three young companions slept the sleep of innocence to find out once and for all. All he had to do was open the viewscreen and he’d know.
Know whether Adric’s presence could be accepted by true time with minimal disturbance or whether it would be catastrophic.
His hand touched the lever of its own volition and he snatched it away as though electrified. He couldn’t do it. If he opened the viewscreen and saw what he feared, there could be no turning back and he would have to do his painful duty. He would have to condemn his friend to his fate.
It was so unfair! Adric was so young, full of promise and potential. From the moment he had appeared in the TARDIS, the Doctor had felt a singular connection and a deep conviction that this young man was special. He hadn’t wanted to tempt fate by inviting Adric to become a member of the TARDIS crew but somehow he had known that that would happen. The Alzarian had stowed away and their destinies had entwined. Seeking to understand why he felt what he did, the Doctor had taken the unusual step (and strictly unethical one but then his last incarnation had been more tractable when it came to moral absolutes) of looking into Adric’s future. And he had glimpsed the Mathematics University that his friend would found and the truly astonishing advances in mathematical technology that he would engineer.
A bright, sparkly future which had been cruelly snatched from him once by fate. It was time to see whether that bright hope was to finally become a certainty or nothing more than a mocking illusion.
He depressed the lever and raised his eyes to gaze upon the truth.
The nightmares continued to trouble Adric. He was being hunted down, pursued by the same merciless figure in black whom he now identified as Atropos. He ran down TARDIS corridors, panic lending strength to his flight but he could not escape. The figure strode after him, calm and inexorable, never changing its relentless pace, but no matter how fast he ran, it always seemed to be but a few paces behind him. He skidded round a corner and saw the Doctor before him. His friend was staring at the broken remains of his Badge, an expression of grief on his usually boyish face. He ran to him but the Doctor gazed at him sadly and began to fade, letting the fragments slip from his hands. He ran on, his fear increasing. He glimpsed the Console Room ahead of him and with renewed hope he ran for it, knowing he would be safe there. He gained the door and slammed it behind him. He turned round, only to see that the room had transfigured into the flight deck of the freighter. His pursuer entered from another door, unstoppable. There was nowhere to go. “You can’t fight fate,” his pursuer said, above the screech of the engines and Adric opened his mouth to scream.
He awoke with a cry, and for a moment lay there, beyond panic, beyond fighting, listening to the thud of his heart. Knowing from past experience that trying to get back to sleep would result only in further nightmares, he dragged his tired, achy body out of bed and fumbled into his clothes. Time for another nocturnal stroll round the Cloister Room. He was passing the Console Room when he caught a sound: that of the viewscreen opening. Curious, he looked inside to find the Doctor standing as if frozen, staring fixedly at the image of a ferny forest.
“Doctor?” He went over, touching his arm.
The Doctor appeared to rouse from his own nightmares. For a moment he stared at Adric as if his world had fallen apart then he dropped eye contact and fumbled to close the viewscreen. He paced once round the Console Room like a caged beast.
The Alzarian watched him, his companion’s distraction doing nothing to chase away his own feeling of doom. “I didn’t mean to disturb you. I couldn’t sleep – nightmares again. I kept ending up on the freighter.” He didn’t miss the quick look his companion shot at him. “Doctor, what’s the matter?”
The Doctor affected a bright smile. “Oh nothing, nothing. Just a few repairs.”
“Avoidance tactics won’t work, Doctor, not this time.”
“This time,” the Doctor echoed, dropping the act. He paced away, hands deep in his pockets, before pausing by the hat-stand to shrug into his coat. “Let’s go for a walk,” he said, avoiding Adric’s troubled gaze. “It’s still daylight here.”
Adric followed him out, stopping to gaze in appreciation at the vista before them: a forest of twisted, primeval trees, covered in a mossy growth with an undergrowth of ferns, and in the near distance a large lake. The atmosphere was damp like a tropical rainforest. As they walked, they disturbed a family of frog-like creatures which were about the size of cats; they chirruped and hopped away. The Doctor stopped by the lake, watching a gliding beast with leathery wings as it flapped over the water, uttering a hooting cry. Despite the tranquillity, Adric did not feel comforted – there was an alien quality to the place which only added to his unease. He shifted closer to the Doctor.
The Doctor stirred and picked up a few pebbles, turning them over and over in his hands, amazed at their smoothness and composition. “Ripples on a pond,” he said, breaking the silence. “Imagine time is like a lake: tranquil, deep. When time is altered, the universe can usually cope.” He threw a small pebble into the lake. It hit the surface with a gentle plop, the water rippling in concentric circles. “It causes a few ripples but time sorts itself out. In the grand scheme of things, whether Joe Bloggs marries Jane Smith or Jan Smythe is not vitally important.”
Adric nodded, catching on. “But sometimes a much larger disturbance occurs, like Atropos trying to alter Gallifrey’s future.”
“Exactly.” The Doctor passed him a larger stone, the size of a bag of sugar. Adric hefted it and it hit the water with a large displacement of water and a gratifying splash. “Time cannot heal such breaches – and true time is affected enormously.” He paused, obviously unwilling to continue. “Rescuing you didn’t cause a few little ripples – it caused a tidal wave.”
Adric glanced round at the prehistoric forest, a strange feeling like the beginning of knowledge stirring. For a second he was back on the freighter; whether the freighter of his dream or reality he couldn’t tell. Swallowing hard, he made his voice work. “Where are we?”
The Doctor had come to stand behind him and now he rested his hands on his shoulders. “This is Earth, Adric: London, England in 1981.”
He suddenly couldn’t breathe. “This is what Earth looks like now? Because I’m not dead?”
“I’m sorry, Adric, I’m so sorry.”
And suddenly, faced with irrefutable proof, he couldn’t take it. He wrenched himself away from the Doctor, backing away like a cornered animal until he fetched up against the lake shore. The Doctor took a step towards him but he warded him off. “No! Don’t touch me! I won’t do it, I won’t go back there.” He could see the apparition of his nightmare walking towards him, leading him to his doom. Almost in a blind frenzy, he ran.
Giving Adric space, the Doctor returned to the Console Room. The Alzarian was currently perched on a rock by the lake, restlessly lobbing pebbles into its surface. The Doctor watched him on the viewscreen and felt useless - nearly a thousand years old and he didn’t know how to comfort a frightened and hurting young man. He glanced away as the interior door opened to admit the two women who, fresh after a good night’s sleep and unaware of the tragedy looming, were talking animatedly.
“G’day Doc!” Tegan greeted him. “How long have you been up – don’t you Time Lords ever sleep?”
“Mmm? Sleep – no thank you.” The women exchanged a long suffering look.
“Where’s Adric? I can’t believe he missed breakfast. Oh, he’s there,” Nyssa said, spying their companion on the viewscreen. “I’ll call him.”
The Doctor fumbled for the viewscreen, aware even as he did it how redundant the move was. “Leave him be. I need to talk to you both – this way.” He chivvied the two along until they reached a rocky outcrop by the lake, a courteous distance from Adric but still within sight. Carefully avoiding eye contact, he explained where they were - and why.
“This is really Earth?” Tegan asked, fighting to take in the information.
“Definitely. Every point in time has an alternative. We radically changed Earth’s history when we rescued Adric.”
“But he’s only one person! You said it was alright for him to be in this time stream. No use crying over spilt milk.”
“And ordinarily I’d be right. But you have to understand …” He trailed off, finally confronting the fact that all along he had known that Adric didn’t belong. He had wanted to believe, had stuck his head in the sand, unable to deal with his own guilt and anguish. He took a deep breath and continued: “It’s the manner surrounding Adric’s death. Had he died on some backwater planet, our rescuing him would probably be acceptable – if not ethical. But he died crashing into Earth, thus engineering that planet’s evolution.”
“No freighter equals no dinosaur extinction – and thus no human evolution,” Tegan finished. A nasty thought occurred to her. “Dinosaurs! Big, hungry dinosaurs. Come on, we should get back to the TARDIS.” She swept her nervous gaze over the quiet forest, expecting at any moment to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex come thundering towards them.
“Relax, Tegan,” Nyssa said, “You forgot to add Chaos Theory to your equation.”
Despite her concern, Tegan couldn’t help rolling her eyes – now even Nyssa was getting technical on her. “Oh, that’s what I was forgetting!” she replied sarcastically.
The Doctor gave a small smile though none of the worry left his eyes. “The Butterfly Effect,” he explained, pointing to an insect that looked like a butterfly in every respect except its 5 foot wingspan. “The circumstances surrounding the freighter’s crash had to be exact to cause Earth’s evolution as we know it. Mass, velocity, locality. Change any of those factors, even by a negligible degree, and you alter the outcome.” He explained at great length how, for example, changing the velocity would affect how the freighter entered the atmosphere which would affect where it crashed which in turn would affect how much damage it caused. “In this case, the change in mass caused by Adric’s absence seems to have killed off the dinosaurs but brought about the ascendancy not of mammals and birds but amphibians and insects.”
Tears welled up in Tegan’s eyes and she dashed them away as her anguish turned as usual to anger. “This is my planet you’re talking about, Doctor!”
“I know,” he replied quietly.
But Tegan was shaking her head in denial. “Oh no! No, I won’t – I won’t choose between my planet’s future and my friend!” And with that she stormed off, stumbling slightly in her high heels. There was an uncomfortable silence then Nyssa touched the Doctor’s arm. He met her gaze, reading his own grief mirrored there and again he was struck by the inward strength of this young woman who had seen the death of her own planet as well as the transformation of her father into the most evil being imaginable.
“I’ll talk to her,” she said gently. “You should talk to Adric.”
Fear, stomach churning fear, hounded him. He remembered the nightmares he had suffered, recognising them for what they truly were – foreshadows of his own doom. He tried to send his mind back to the freighter but he couldn’t – the bile rose in his throat and his stomach did cartwheels. He was terrified, much more frightened than he had been the first time round. He smiled with a touch of gallows’ humour – ‘the first time round’ made it sound like he made a habit of dying. Nevertheless it was true and he knew why: this time round he knew how much it would hurt. He knew how terrifying it was to have girders and falling masonry crash around you, how much it hurt to have your skin blister from the heat, and the agony, no other word for it, of pressure building until your eardrums burst. He knew what it felt like to gasp and gasp for oxygen that simply wasn’t there. He knew just how unheroic dying an heroic death really was.
The idea of having to deliberately return to that freighter, not in ignorance but with full knowledge of the pain and terror, was laughingly inconceivable.
He wrapped his arms round himself, shivering violently although it was actually very warm. He understood his nightmares now – not just harmless images but foreshadows of his own doom. Whatever he did, wherever he went, his doom was waiting for him.
To take his mind off his fear, he skimmed a pebble across the lake’s surface and smiled slightly in hurting reminiscence: Varsh had been able to skim a pebble clear across the Alzar, nine or ten bumps. Except that Varsh was dead. He heard the Doctor’s voice carry on the wind, explaining relative time travel and temporal paradox to Tegan and Nyssa. If the lake was the fabric of time and throwing a pebble into it represented a break in time, then perhaps skimming a pebble was analogous to time travel.
He had been half-listening to his companions’ conversation. He heard Tegan’s angry words and tried to empathise (putting himself in someone else’s shoes Tegan called it, although putting yourself in someone else’s socks would be more logical) with what she must be going through. How would he feel if the circumstances were reversed? He would choose his friends over his planet, he knew, and then immediately questioned such an incisive conclusion. Would he? Could he condemn countless Alzarians to death just like that for the sake of Nyssa or Tegan or even the Doctor? One person against billions – even Tegan could work out the maths on that one.
Nyssa found Tegan sitting on a moss-covered, and rather damp, fallen tree; she had removed one of her shoes and was examining a blister on her heel. Her eyes were red and puffy and she had a ladder in her tights. Silently proffering her hand-embroidered hanky (Trakens considered disposable tissues to be vulgar), Nyssa perched next to her friend.
“Thanks,” Tegan said at length with a watery smile. “One of these days I’m going to learn to put my brain in gear before my mouth.”
“I rather admire your honesty,” Nyssa admitted. “Tegan? This isn’t the Doctor’s fault.”
Her companion turned the hanky over in her hands, admiring the delicate and intricate stitching of an orchid-like flower. “I can’t embroider,” she said, “Auntie Vanessa tried to teach me but I sewed the tablecloth to my skirt.” Nyssa merely waited, not wanting to interrupt by admitting that the hanky had been a birthday present from Consul Katura. Tegan dabbed uselessly at her eyes, getting mascara on the hanky. “Don’t you see, Nyssa, it wasn’t the Doc’s fault – it was mine!” Nyssa frowned in confusion but Tegan was continuing, her voice thick with tears that until now she hadn’t allowed herself to shed. “I mean, on the freighter. It’s my fault that Adric was forced to stay on board.” She re-lived the incident: how she had been separated from the soldiers and ended up on the flight deck and how the Cyberleader had mocked the Doctor, threatening to kill her if the Time Lord didn’t submit. In essence the Doctor had been forced to choose between his two companions. “It should have been me! I should be the one who died, not Adric!”
Nyssa put her arms round her friend, crooning reassurance and understanding. When Tegan seemed to more in control, the Traken said, “Adric told me it was his decision.”
Tegan nodded, more tears pricking as she remembered how brave and … mature Adric had been – unlike her. It was rather humbling to admit that an eighteen year old had been more courageous, noble and loyal than her, a so-called adult. “It’s my planet, Nys! He died to save my planet!”
Nyssa could feel her own tears welling and she retreated into the safe haven of logic. “I think you are missing the point, Tegan. Do you believe in fate? Although my father was a scientist, our culture is steeped in mysticism and tradition. Ritual and faith play a major part in our lives. I strongly believe that events happen for a reason – either as the out-workings of a deity or through the laws of cause and effect.”
“Que sera sera,” Tegan said, “the Doris Day effect.”
Nyssa nodded, apparently taking her seriously. “It had to be Adric. You could not have solved the logic codes and therefore you could not have taken the freighter back in time to the extinction event. It was Adric’s fate.”
And now they were going to have to accept that that doom was still awaiting him.
“It might help to talk,” the Time Lord said as he approached Adric and sat down on the same rock.
Adric gave a twisted smile and cranked up his anger. “Did you get that line from one of those soaps Tegan watches in the projection room?” He could feel his friend’s steady gaze regarding him, like he was just another victim whom the Doctor needed to help.
“You have every right to be resentful – and frightened.”
Immediately his pride pricked. “I am not frightened. I’m angry – with you! You promised! You said everything would be okay!”
“I know, I know.” He should have been able to call upon the wisdom of the ages to comfort his friend, but all the Doctor could think of was “I’m sorry,” and that sounded trite and worthless. It wasn’t supposed to be like this: saving the galaxy was a lark; escaping by the skin of your teeth nothing more than an adrenaline surge. There had been pain and death but none of it had touched the Doctor, not like this. For the first time in centuries he was confronted by personal loss. “I’m sorry, this is all my fault. I should never have allowed you to stay on that freighter. Pride, you see – even Time Lords, especially Time Lords, are prone to the baser instincts.” He recalled how the Cyberleader had goaded him and how he had responded indignantly to the taunts rather than allow himself to be made a fool of in front of the freighter’s crew and his two companions. Looking back on it – and in the weeks that followed, he hadn’t been able to stop himself from dissecting every second – it was obvious that the Cyberleader had made Adric remain behind as a way of getting even with the Doctor. In short, the Doctor’s petty one upmanship had cost his friend his life. “I’m sorry,” he said again.
Adric turned his anger on the Doctor; it wasn’t fair but anything was better than having to face the terror that loomed. “I’m sick of hearing that. You know what? You’re right! Everything’s a joke to you – just a big adventure for you to play in.” He could feel the tears running down his face, hear the shake in his voice, but he couldn’t stop now. “Never mind that Nyssa lost her father and her planet because of one of your adventures; that Tegan lost her aunt. That I …” He trailed off, unable to get the words past the constriction in his throat.
Instead of rising to the bait, the Doctor said calmly, “You have to face this at some point, Adric.”
“I can’t!” Most of the anger had gone now, to be replaced by despair. “Not again. I know I’m a coward but I can’t.”
“You’ve been courageous in some pretty tight situations, I can’t imagine you’ve changed that much. As I recall, you saved my life when Monarch was going to have me executed, putting your own life in danger.”
“And I also believed his stupid schemes.”
“You know, most people when they discover they have made an error of judgement attempt to hide it or excuse it – they very rarely admit their fault and make restitution. You did. I would say that shows great strength of character.” The Doctor remembered how brave and resourceful Adric had been on the freighter, exhibiting a maturity and flare for leadership that made the Doctor’s hearts ache: he would never see that potential realised, never know Adric as a fully grown adult.
Adric swiped at his eyes. “I don’t want to die.” He leaned against the Doctor’s shoulder and the Time Lord put his arm round him. Together they watched the sun set and twilight turn to deepest night.
As he had discovered on many occasions, the TARDIS’ architectural configuration was bewildering to say the least. Although the living area remained consistent, the rest of the ship had the disconcerting habit of shifting and changing. When he had needed a costume for the Cranleigh party, he had hunted high and low for the elusive wardrobe room, only to find it down a corridor that he knew he had methodically searched only a few minutes ago. Adric didn’t know what he was looking for this time; all he knew was that something was niggling at him, not a compulsion but a vague restlessness - a vague restlessness that had had him wriggling all the way through ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ which he had been watching with the two women. Tegan had finally lost patience with him and he had beat a hasty withdrawal. He heard a door creak open and he crossed to peek inside, half expecting to see a circus or a jungle or at the very least an Egyptian pyramid. It wasn’t – it was a study of some kind. There was a plush carpet on the floor, two snug arm chairs stood on either side of a polished table and shelves of leather-bound books lined all the walls. In the corner stood a ponderous clock whose gentle ticks seemed to match themselves to his heartbeat. On some instinctive level he realised that this was a private room, a personal room that was revealed to few.
He perused the shelves. He had always loved reading; on Alzarius he had spent practically all his leisure hours in the Great Book Room and he had felt he was in seventh heaven (one of Tegan’s phrases although she never explained what had happened to the first six heavens) when the Doctor had introduced him to the TARDIS’ vast library. This room appeared to house a personal collection of books. Without any real intention, except perhaps the same urge that had led him here in the first place, he picked up a mighty tome that looked vaguely familiar. He blew the dust off and flipped it open, immediately realising why it looked familiar – it was one of the Doctor’s journals that they had looked through before Traken. Agreeably titillated, he sunk down into the chair and began to read.
The clock chimed the passage of one then two hours but Adric remained glued to his book, partly because he had always enjoyed his friend’s outrageous adventures and partly because they drew him closer to the eccentric, wild-eyed Doctor whom he had lost. His imagination soared as he read about a big robot with (it appeared) a crush on Sarah Jane and the Sontaran experiments on Earth captives. Despite a vague feeling of jealousy which he was able to dismiss, he found he rather liked the Doctor’s companions – Sarah Jane came across as feisty and witty while he saw Harry as a kindred spirit, if only because he realised Harry had occasionally exasperated the fourth Doctor, just as Adric knew he himself frustrated the fifth.
He turned the page, beginning to read about the Doctor’s tussle with the Daleks. Adric had always taken his friend’s stories about these glorified pepper pots with more than a pinch of cynicism: they seemed remarkably silly, not at all menacing. Reading the Doctor’s first-hand account had him radically changing his opinion. He read how the Doctor entombed Davros in a fortified bunker where the Daleks turned on their creator, destroying him. It was quite a roller-coaster ride and by the end his heart was thumping as if he had been there with Sarah and Harry. He turned the page expecting to see a new adventure but finding instead a post script. The tone here was much more sombre and reflective:
‘Today I was gifted with a golden opportunity to destroy the Daleks, wipe them from existence at their very conception and I found I couldn’t.’
Adric frowned in confusion. The Doctor had said the Daleks killed thousands of people, enslaved a whole race of humans – how could he justify letting them live if he had such a providential opportunity? He read on, the post script almost seeming to talk directly to him:
‘Unlike a mathematical equation, life is seldom easy. The Daleks are a terrible race but it is because of their malevolence that the free peoples will unite, agreeing to stop their own petty wars and skirmishes to fight their common enemy. Technology on many worlds will develop at a greater rate because of the Dalek threat. I could name hundreds of medical and scientific advances that will come about directly as a result of the Dalek war. I know I have made the correct decision, painful though it is.
Despite their evil, their creation will cause a greater good.’
Adric felt his heart flip, the words seeming to resonate deeply. And just like he had solved the last logic code, things fell smoothly into place and he knew what he had to do: return to the freighter.
A greater good.
He found the Doctor, as he had anticipated, in the Cloister Room. He had been pacing, as had become his habit of late, but he paused at Adric’s approach. Something unspoken passed between the two men and the Doctor’s shoulders sagged: he knew what Adric had decided.
They sat on the stone bench, each fighting his inner demons. Eventually Adric broke the quiet of the room by saying, “I knew, you know.” The Doctor didn’t interrupt him, gifting him with a listening silence as he tried to unravel his thoughts. “From the moment you rescued me, it felt wrong. Like I didn’t belong here anymore.” He fiddled with the hated zero bracelet which served as a constant reminder of the fact. There was, he supposed, a certain irony in his situation: as an Outler he had been an outcast from Alzarian society; as a citizen of E-Space he had been a foreigner in N-Space – and now he was an outsider from time. The ultimate pariah. He leaned against his friend’s shoulder and the Doctor slipped an arm round him, the two of them lapsing into silence. There was grief and anguish but there was also a sense of acceptance.
The Doctor indicated the journal Adric had brought with him. “I see you found the study. I thought I sensed you there.” Adric raised an eyebrow, but didn’t pursue the issue. The Time Lord flicked through the journal and sighed, looking off into the middle distance as if re-living the past. “A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so.”
“What happened to Sarah and Harry?” Adric felt a definite connection to the Doctor’s companions, as if knowing their fate would help him face his own. “They were from Earth?”
“Yes. Harry was a Navy doctor. I met him whilst recovering from my third regeneration. He travelled with me for a few months but he much preferred the quieter life of UNIT. Sarah Jane stowed away on the TARDIS – she was a journalist, you know. She travelled with me for quite a long time. I took her back to her home when things got … complicated.” Adric was under no doubt that the Doctor wished he had taken his current companions home, or at least somewhere safe, before things got complicated with the Cybermen. He was continuing, his voice steady but very sad. “I made her a K9 - as a parting gift, you might say. I was always rather fond of Sarah.”
As a Time Lord, his was a unique perspective: he walked in eternity as his former incarnation had put it so poetically. He could live (potentially) for thousands of years, literally through the corridors of time, and yet the lives of his companions were as fleeting as dust in the wind. The transient nature of his relationship with them was something that he had never quite got used to. Some stayed for only a year, others longer but each time a new companion arrived, he had to wrestle with the knowledge that in far too brief a time, they would leave him.
He had always played something of the father figure to the often emotionally-wounded people who came to share his life, providing guidance and wisdom until they felt sufficiently confident to strike out on their own. Some married; others, like Romana, stayed behind to help some worthwhile cause, and however sad he was at yet another youngster flying the nest, there was always the conviction that destiny had been fulfilled. He had seen Jamie and Victoria, and Ben and Polly, Sarah and Leela – all of them - go off to leave happy and fulfilled lives. That was not, however, and never had been Adric’s destiny.
Seeking to guide his young friend through the emotional turmoil without forcing his choice, he spoke again: “I’m a firm believer in destiny. Each of my companions has entered my life with a specific purpose. A path.”
“But I stowed away,” Adric began. He trailed off in confusion, both at the Doctor’s raised eyebrow and his own sudden recollection of something he had said to Varsh the morning of Mistfall, before he had met the Doctor: that he knew his destiny lay elsewhere than on the Starliner.
The Doctor winked, a twinkle in his eye. “Did you? You’re a mathematician, Adric, calculate the odds – the TARDIS is flung off course through a CVE into another universe, lands on your planet just as Mistfall descends. You stow away – despite K9’s vigil and the TARDIS’ security mechanisms. My former self does not take the opportunity to return you to the Starliner after the incident with the Great Vampire. We return to N-Space, something no other craft has managed to do, and you die crashing into an alien planet, hundreds of thousands of light years from the planet of your birth, thus engineering a significant moment in that alien planet’s evolution. See?”
It was something Adric had never really considered before but now that the Doctor mentioned it, it was obvious – he had been born specifically to die on Earth. There was no other mathematical explanation. Rather than appearing spooky or imprisoning, he found the revelation to be somewhat comforting. All his life he had felt like an outsider without a definite home or sense of belonging.
The Doctor too was thinking about Adric’s fate – not his cosmic significance but the Alzarian’s relevance on a more personal level. He would die on the home planet of Tegan; of Jamie; of Harry and Sarah and so many other former companions; and on the favoured planet of the Doctor himself. Fate fulfilled: one companion sacrificing his life to bring about the existence of the others.
“Doctor?” Adric’s voice brought him out of his reverie. “You know what you said by the lake on alternate Earth – about what happened on the freighter?” The Time Lord nodded, his sense of guilt was with him constantly. In fact, in some ways, he longed for the chance to regenerate in the hopes that the transformation would heal the anguish. Adric was continuing, “I was thinking and I think you were wrong.”
The Doctor gave a slight smile at their sudden role reversal. “Oh? I left you to die.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Adric insisted and the Doctor was struck by the confidence in his young friend’s voice. “I chose my path. I could have left with Captain Briggs and the others in the life boat but I decided not to – my decision. I slipped out of the airlock as it was closing to carry on working on the logic codes. I had a chance to escape and I didn’t take it.”
The Doctor closed his eyes at the revelation. “Why, Adric?”
He shrugged. “A greater good.” This appeared to be a time for confidences, for communion. “I wanted to save Earth. It was my decision then and it’s my decision now.” Adric looked away. “When? When do we do it?” He tried to say it casually, ignoring the well of fear that coiled in his belly.
“Two weeks.” It was an arbitrary period of time but would give them all time to accept the inevitable.
Two weeks, 1209,600 seconds – such a short time. There was so much he had wanted to do and to achieve in his life – ride a camel, play chess with Stephen Hawking, meet Einstein. With a surge that came from deep in his belly, he realised the greatest regret was never having been loved. Now, with his life measured in days rather than decades, he would never know what it felt like to become one flesh with someone. “I’ll never know,” he murmured, and the grief was like a knife in his belly.
“What?” the Doctor prompted gently.
Adric gave a start as he realised he had spoken out loud. Usually he would have covered the potential embarrassment with a lie or evasion but here in this room there was a peace and communion with the Doctor that he had never shared before. An empathy. It gave him the courage to say quietly, “It’s just… I’ll never know what it feels like to be loved.” He smiled a little wistfully, his gaze slipping away.
The Doctor regarded him compassionately. In so few days, he would have to let this courageous man die and there was nothing that his centuries of wisdom could do to save him. He could, however, ensure he died with happy memories of friendship and fulfilment. “Whatever you want, Adric, whatever you need.”
“What …?” Adric searched the Doctor’s gaze then he leapt to his feet, anger and hurt flashing in his dark eyes. “I don’t want your fucking pity!”
The older man raised his eyebrow at the profanity although the shadow of understanding flickered through his eyes. “Pity? Never. Not even when I saw how miserable you were on Alzarius did I pity you. Too much strength, too much resolve.” The Doctor shifted slightly, weighing his words carefully. “What I offer, I offer out of friendship and affection. I was rather hoping that you would trust me.”
Adric’s eyes filled with tears and the Doctor stood to brush them away, the first intimate contact between them. “But why?”
The Doctor shook his head, unable to verbalise the anguish inside his hearts. Because I can’t save you, my friend, because you are so young and full of life, because in so few days I will have to let you go. Instead he let his fingers drift over Adric’s full mouth before leaning down and kissing him. After a few rather pleasant minutes, Adric pulled away.
“Whatever you want,” the Doctor repeated.
Adric smiled although his eyes were solemn. “Show me,” he said simply and allowed the Doctor to lead him from the Cloister Room. It was only as they rounded the first corner that he noticed their hands were linked.
Usually he would have asked a million questions by now as they walked through the TARDIS but something stopped him. Perhaps it was the secret smile on the Doctor’s lips or the stirring of something he couldn’t name curling in his belly. His friend opened a door and ushered Adric inside. The bedroom was old fashioned and sumptuously comfortable: the four poster bed was made of a rich wood, ornately carved; the bedspread midnight blue shot through with silver to match the swags and curtains.
“I don’t come here that often,” the Doctor murmured, coming to stand behind him but instead of merely resting his hands on Adric’s shoulders in the way that had become both familiar and comforting in the last months, he wrapped his arms round, tugging gently until Adric leaned back against him. “It used to be my bedroom for decades. I changed to my current room after Sarah Jane left. Change is as good as a rest and all that.”
Something in the Doctor’s tone gave Adric pause. “You and Sarah were … you know. Weren’t you?” He turned in his arms, looking up at his friend who cupped his face: the contact was like an electric shock. The Time Lord was smiling, a roguish twinkle lighting his blue eyes.
“For someone who is good at maths, it took you an inordinately long time to put two and two together. Yes, Sarah and I were lovers, as were Jamie and I.” The sadness was still there but mostly acceptance and an appreciation for the time they had shared together.
Adric, however, was frowning. “If you loved them, why did you let them go?”
“It wasn’t that simple. With Jamie …” He sighed, for it had been decades since he had allowed himself to touch that old pain. “The Time Lords erased his memory of his travels with me – “
“That’s just silly,” Adric interrupted firmly, “you can’t ‘erase’ someone’s memory.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes, caught between amusement and exasperation at this mere boy daring to challenge his scientific superiority. “Alright, blocked his memories. And before you ask, yes I could have dissolved the block.” He sighed, his façade slipping away and Adric saw the grief which two regenerations had not fully healed. “You can’t fight fate, Adric – you of all people should appreciate that. I visited him some time later – I had been exiled to Earth for years – and when I finally managed to pilot the TARDIS to Culloden, Jamie was happily married.” Adric stared at him, deeply moved but the Doctor was smiling. “Good times. I will never forget him, or you.”
So saying the Doctor lowered his head and kissed him; chaste kisses at first, closed mouthed. When Adric began to respond, shy and awkward but with a sweetness that made his hearts ache all over again, he let his tongue trace across his lips until they parted. Adric felt the Doctor's hands begin to move, one pressing against the small of his back, the other cupping his jaw, the thumb resting lightly on his pulse point; and he sighed into the deepening kisses, any reservations melting away. For a few minutes they lost themselves in the wonder and newness of what was happening and the excitement of what was to come - for tonight was about hope and tenderness and a holding back of the dark.
The Doctor unwound the Marsh belt from round Adric’s waist and placed it on the bedside cabinet then he untied the many laces of his tunic and removed it, gently rubbing his hands across his sternum, half to arouse, half to soothe.
Adric traced his companion’s lips with his finger and the Doctor turned his head and drew the digit into the heat of his mouth, swirling his tongue round it, rasping at the nail. He slid the digit in and out unhurriedly, coating it with saliva before withdrawing it and guiding it wet and glistening against the younger man’s nipple, smiling secretly at the breathy gasps the Alzarian made. He caught Adric’s earlobe between sharp teeth and Adric surged into the touch, the double shock of his own hand and the Doctor’s mouth sending tingles down all his nerve endings.
The Doctor chuckled. “Much as I am enjoying this, Adric, I feel a little overdressed. Would you be so kind?” His tone was so the English gentleman that Adric couldn’t help but snort with laughter. He watched the Doctor pull his sweater off and he unbuttoned the shirt himself, his natural curiosity overtaking his shyness. It fell open, the Doctor shrugging it all the way off, and Adric licked his lips unconsciously as he surveyed the pale chest and pink nipples. He brushed his fingers across the almost hairless expanse, skimming across the sensitive nubs; the Doctor sucked in a deep breath and the knowledge that it was his hands that were causing such a reaction made him dizzy. He hooked his hand to the back of the Doctor’s neck, drawing him closer for searching, passionate kisses. At some point, the Doctor’s hands had left their position at the small of his back and were now unzipping the Time Lord’s own trousers. There was a short moment of fumbling as the striped trousers were removed and kicked away then the Doctor’s hands snaked to the flies of Adric’s trousers and he gasped, half in nervousness; half, he realised, in need. When the Doctor shoved down his trousers and briefs and touched him for the first time, he moaned into his mouth, the erotic pleasure of knowing his friend was touching him so intimately overriding his timidity.
“That’s it,” the Doctor crooned, the word seeming to reverberate through Adric’s mind and ribcage as he continued the careful exploration. “Just trust me. Come and lie down.”
They stretched out on their sides, facing each other. Adric’s stomach appeared to be doing cartwheels and he felt both alarmingly vulnerable and highly aroused at being so exposed with this man. He clutched his hand and the Doctor squeezed it briefly. “This is all for you, Adric. If you want us to stop, all you have to do is say.”
“No, I want this. I told you.” Clamping down on the fear, Adric rolled onto his back; the Doctor searched his gaze, seeking reassurance that his young companion was ready for more, reading the trepidation but also the need. He stroked back his hair and kissed him briefly.
“Then relax. Close your eyes. Concentrate on my touch.” So saying, he massaged Adric’s shoulders until he felt more of the tension lift then moved to his chest, skimming his finger nails across the pectoral muscles and down his ribcage until the whole area was sensitized. The younger man’s breathing was ragged now and every touch caused a shiver of arousal that raced along his nerve ending to his groin. He gave a real moan as the Doctor at last latched onto his nipple, flicking it with his tongue before very gently biting and suckling it. He repeated the action on its twin and Adric bucked, trying to get closer to the maddening pleasure.
It was startling and wonderful to the Doctor; the awareness of young, pliant flesh against his was something he had thought lost to him for decades. Encouraged by his lover’s moans, he continued his oral attentions but snaked his hand lower across twitching stomach muscles to Adric’s straining erection. He stroked him carefully, prepared to stop if Adric’s responses dictated it; instead Adric surged into the touch, awkward and gauche but enthusiastic and the Doctor used his free hand to help him establish a rhythm with his hips that had him flying to a very satisfying completion.
When it was over, the Doctor stroked back the damp tendrils of his friend’s unruly hair and waited him out, giving him time to assimilate all the new experiences he had just shared. Adric gave a deep sigh and his eyes fluttered open; they were full of awe.
“How do you feel?”
Adric shook his head, smiling in gentle wonder as he tried to put his feelings into words. “I feel … alive,” he said, “fulfilled.” The smile faltered and the Doctor didn’t miss the flicker of grief that danced in his dark eyes. There was quiet for a few minutes and the Doctor thought Adric had drifted off when the Alzarian stirred slightly and said, “Now I know.” Current Mood: hopeful