LilacFree (lilacfree) wrote,
LilacFree
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Fanfiction Included

Two_love ficathon entry here!

Title: Transit of Venus
Requestor: livii
Prompt: Two, Jamie, and Zoe off just having fun, larking about, bantering. They’re my nonsexual OT3, aka in love but not in love, if you can capture that.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 5800
A/N: I explore a question I always had about Three. I have never written for Two before, so I hope this suits. The story looks at the characters individually and as a group, and is meant to go before ‘The Mind Robber’, though not necessarily immediately before it.




Transit of Venus

Prologue
The Place: Venus. The Time: Millennia past the 20th century. The Mission: Recreation.

The terraforming of Venus had occurred at one of the high points of human civilization. Adonis, the principal city, had amenities that amounted to decadence. To Zoe’s disappointment, the TARDIS had landed them on Cyprus, the small island-continent that was the least settled area of the planet. Most of it was a giant park. Those who lived here dwelled in a commune arrangement that bartered work for other services. The Doctor and Zoe had useful technical skills to offer.

Jamie was good with sheep.



Jamie MacCrimmon and the Problem of Creation

They weren’t quite like the sheep he remembered from Scotland. These had wools of varying texture and color. However, their animal nature was as it had ever been. Few of these children of a highly advanced Galactic level culture had any notion of how to deal, man to ovine, with a sheep. Jamie was hardly the expert that his father’s shepherds back home had been, but he had spent time out with the flocks. Where these folk would consult a computer archive for records of sheep behavior, Jamie had more of an instinctual rapport. He was comfortable with animals in a way none of these humans could match. If he said a sheep was sick, it was sick. It just looked sick to him. He didn’t need a medical scanner for his diagnoses. So Jamie’s labor in trade was sheep herding.

Jamie sat back in the grass and looked up at the swirling, dirty yellow clouds that coated the sky above. Damoen sat beside him, a skinny fellow with black hair, golden skin, and slanting black eyes. He looked like pictures Jamie had seen of the Chinese.

“When I was very little, my Gran told me the clouds were God’s sheep, grazing in the pastures of the sky.”

“I’ve seen pictures of the skies of Terra, blue with white clouds. Our pastures here are more colorful.” They both looked around at the sheep flocks, as colorful as wild flowers. “But who is God?”

“God is… is… the Almighty. The Creator of everything.” Jamie was stunned nearly speechless.

“An artist? A sentient computer?”

They’re all heathens here. What did the Doctor say? Better not to talk about politics or religion, talk about the weather. “It’s not important. But the sky here is all yellow clouds. I miss the blue sky.”

Damoen smiled. “It is rather monotonous. I’ve never been to Terra, myself. Some of us have not left Cyprus for decades. I go to the other continents once in a while, but I’ve never been off-planet. Terra is practically one big city. Adonis is plenty big enough for me.”

“I do find it startling to be in a big crowd. I don’t mind it if I can get a bit of elbowroom like this once in a while. It’s a peaceful spot, your Cyprus.”

“Your friends never come out here any more.”

“They got bored with sheep pretty quickly.” Jamie stared up at the sky. “So why is it like that?”

It took some time for Jamie to make Damoen understand how little he knew.

Fortunately, he’d traveled long enough with the Doctor to understand that there were planets other than Earth, planets you could walk on and not mere remote celestial orbs.

“The clouds are part of a layer of atmosphere designed to protect us from the Sun. We are closer to it than they are on Terra. It took tremendous work for it to be possible for humans to walk freely on the surface of a planet that in its original form would be lethal, a soup of boiling acids and poisons. Now it is temperate and full of life.”

“It’s a miracle,” Jamie said automatically. Damoen looked at him strangely. “You must think I’m stupid, but—“

“No, Jamie! You plainly have normal intelligence, but you’re shockingly uneducated. You could get assistance, you know. Education is a civil right here—it’s free. How you avoided the system is a mystery to me.”

“Could you make a planet? I mean, your scientists, from nothing?”

Damoen stared even more. “From nothing at all? Of course not. You can’t make something out of nothing.” He seemed to be revising his estimate of Jamie’s intelligence.

“Then where did anything come from?”

“Oh, that’s cosmology. You can study that, too.” Having identified the proper subject for studying creation, Damoen relaxed.

Jamie rubbed his eyes and decided he would try some of this education. He figured he would be very surprised if it actually taught him how to make a world.



Zoe and the Way of All Flesh

“Doctor, why do these people have sheep when they can produce sophisticated synthetic textiles?” Zoe did not understand sheep at all.

“They’re deliberately trying to emulate a simpler way of life. I should think that in your time there were people who wanted to get, um, ‘back to nature’?”

“I suppose.” She wrinkled her little nose at the smell of sheep dung and lanolin. “But I think nature is over-rated.”

Sometimes Zoe thought she’d never understand the Doctor. Not because he was an alien genius—she understood that. But she didn’t understand why he was so complaisant about the TARDIS’ idiosyncratically unpredictable behavior. He seemed to enjoy winding up in strange situations in the middle of crises.

She kept expecting a disaster to loom in this peaceful place. Meanwhile, she was enjoying herself. The Cyprians were tolerant of eccentric personal behavior as long as it was harmless. Nudity was not so much commonplace as too ordinary to notice. A few were nude all the time, some were nude some of the time, and most were partially nude part of the time.

Even Jamie had adjusted. At first he’d blushed and averted his eyes, then he stared, then he simply didn’t seem to notice. “They don’t act like they’re naked,” he explained to Zoe. “I find myself forgetting they’re not wearing anything.”

Zoe was chagrinned to be less comfortable with public nudity than the primitive Highlander. But she’d been brought up to be a dutiful citizen in a technological society. Clothes were an important indicator of status. It was easy to overlook Jamie’s kilt as the manifestation of ancient human past, and it was illogical to hold the Doctor to human standards even if he did tend to shabby chic. But here Zoe found herself in a society more advanced than her own where people had little interest in hierarchies and status symbols. She felt unsophisticated and ashamed of her provincial attitude. She also wondered if she’d ever made Jamie feel this way, and resolved not to look down at him simply because he had not had her educational opportunities.

As for the Doctor, he had been taken aback on the first day, and then adapted smoothly. He kept his clothes on, though.



“It’s simply a matter of personal choice, Zoe. Not everyone likes to go naked. Why does it matter so much to you?” Melisse was a mathematician and builder of musical instruments. She’d sought out Zoe as a fellow mathematician and the two young women had become good friends.

“I hate feeling embarrassed every time I see someone unclothed. I feel less of a person for it. It’s just skin.”

“You know, our ways are not copied all over Venus. The people who settled Cyprus wanted a community that was tolerant of nudity, among other things. You’d feel more normal elsewhere, more like others.”

Zoe shook her head. “I don’t care about being normal. I think my feeling is wrong. I want to change it.”

“You could try it for yourself. Almost everyone swims naked. You could join us in the pool.”

Zoe found herself actually tempted. How lovely it sounded to swim naked! If only other people weren’t there. “That’s a bit much at first. I feel uncomfortable about seeing other people naked and myself being seen naked.”

Melisse rubbed oil into a nearly finished violin, her forehead creased in thought. “Zoe, walk back and forth across the room. Humor me, please.”

Zoe shrugged and did what she asked. “What is this supposed to show?”

“I have a suspicion that you’re not very comfortable with your own body. I’m not a healer, but there are founding principles of the Cyprian community to respect one’s own physical being. We could not be without flesh. Humans are born, we grow, and we die, and it all happens through this body.”

Zoe nodded. “That sounds sensible; obvious, really. I’ve cared more about my mind than my body.”

“You ought to speak to a healer. They are trained to advise in these matters. Your discomfort is often seen among visitors to Cyprus.”

“I will seek one out. But why did you want to see me walk?”

“There’s something about the way you hold yourself that’s stiff. A kind of over-control? Really, Zoe, you’d do better to speak to a healer.”



The Doctor and the Question of Identity

The Doctor was carefully, intently, purposefully, and with full attention, doing nothing. It was quite difficult. Nor was he entirely convinced of the value of doing nothing and thinking nothing, as in his experience most beings did and thought nothing without trying at all.

He had been trained to follow a thought as steadfastly as a bloodhound, trailing it from its imaginative conception to its logical conclusion. Now he was trying to let thoughts pass through his mind unmolested. The canine metaphor failed: he felt more like a cat resisting the urge to pounce on something small and wriggly. The Doctor fidgeted in place. He was sitting in a half lotus posture as the full lotus was somewhat uncomfortable. Even though he’d regenerated into a more youthful form, he wasn’t as young and supple as Jamie or Zoe. He wriggled his spine.

“Breathe from your center, Doctor. All the way in, and all the way out.” His meditation instructor was a nice young lady with a lot of patience.

Ever since his regeneration, he had not felt himself. That was it: regeneration was an inner change as well as an outward change. If he had done so on Gallifrey, there would have been rituals to guide him in mind and body to a peaceful and controlled change.

The Cybermen did not qualify as Regeneration Counselors. At the Academy, they had told him that regeneration was a renewal. They had not so much as mentioned the word death. Termination, cessation, extinction were all used as descriptive words, but not death. Not capital ‘D’ Death.

He remembered the dreadful finality of his hearts’ last beat. Something in him that he could not define had fallen into darkness and never returned. The Doctor was the Doctor; he remembered himself, he was himself. He simply was a different self. The occupant of this mind was the same that had always dwelt there, and time brought change. Lack of change, now that was death!

I am the Doctor. I am the Doctor; and there’s no om mani padme ho hum about it, no matter what the Dalai Lama says!

The Doctor twitched and rearranged his legs. He hated sitting still and letting the universe pass him by!

Later, the meditation instructor had a word with him. “I think you need to approach this from a different angle, Doctor.” She explained what she had in mind and the Doctor, surreptitiously rubbing his aching sacroiliac, agreed that it sounded like a good idea. He tried not to feel hurt that she looked relieved.




Jamie and the Big Bang

“It cannot have but one side! Even paper has two sides.”

“It has to be expressed mathematically. You couldn’t make an object like the Klein bottle. Anything that has mass exists in at least three dimensions. Even your piece of paper has a middle, though it’s very thin, of course. So the Klein bottle has one surface and there’s not really an outside or inside to it. It’s not even really a bottle. It’s a translation error between two ancient human languages. It’s a mathematical concept.” Learned Nokomo smiled encouragingly at Jamie. She was an elderly dark skinned woman, with fine fluffy white hair like carded lambs’ wool.

“So it’s just an idea?”

“In a sense. Mathematics is a language for describing things precisely.”

“I think I’ve got it for now. Go back to the other bit, about the universe expanding.”

“At first there was nothing. There was not even an empty space for something to be in. Using the Big Bang model of creation, space itself was created at the same instant in which something was created to occupy it…”

“But where did it come from?”

The teacher sighed. “I think you want philosophy or metaphysics, not cosmology, Jamie. If you want a causal chain linking these events, you get into ‘why’ rather than ‘how’. And it’s out of my field of study, too. You know, if these questions trouble you, you might meditate on why you wish to know answers people have been seeking since the dawn of history.”

“Meditate?”

“Oh, yes.” The teacher’s eyes brightened almost pathetically. “Education is for learning how to ask questions and how to answer them. Meditation helps you deal with the space of time between the question and the answer. I find it helps me often.”

“But I’ve seen them at it. They just sit there and think. I’d go mad in no time.”

“Oh, there are active meditation techniques. I think you should talk to Learned Pash.”



Two Rights and Three Left

That was how the Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie all ended up in aikido class.

They reported in gi that looked pretty much like gi have always looked, white with white belts. Learned Pash wore a gi of virulent green hue that made Zoe think of the old joke about little green men. Not that Learned Pash was green aside from the gi. Pash was not exactly a man, but was an alien of indeterminate sex. He (the preferred pronoun) was very short. He had three arms.

The Doctor had speculated that his species was specially adapted as an alternative to the usual bilateral symmetry, and Pash had explained that he’d lost his fourth arm in combat and had chosen not to have it regrown or replaced by a prosthetic.

After Pash’s lecture on the way of the peaceful warrior, Zoe had speculated that he’d refused to replace the arm because he saw it as a reminder of the violence he’d engaged in as a youth and Pash told her it had been last year and that it was not polite to ask someone’s age.

Then he’d asked Jamie if he had anything to say. Jamie had been born in a time when medical science was really not medical or science. He’d known men and women who had survived losing body parts because if the amputation was not done, they’d die of gangrene. “I guess you’re lucky you lost an arm and not your life. It wasn’t your time yet,” said Jamie MacCrimmon.

Learned Pash threw Jamie across the room and congratulated him on having passed his first test.

Jamie wondered how far Pash would throw him for the second test. “I thought this was supposed to be peaceful and… and… meditative. I’m meditating on the ache in my noggin.”

“Aikido is not the technique. It is not the katas, or the blows, or the competition. It is the way of divine love that nurtures and protects all things.”

“By throwing them across the room?”

“You are all here for one reason. You are choosing to nurture a particular change within yourselves. Your teachers have recommended you study with me. To make a change in yourself requires discipline, and discipline is the deliberate exercise of your will to control your actions. To exercise control over your actions is the first step to controlling your own thoughts. All knowledge begins in self-knowledge. In acquiring the physical skills of aikido, you develop mental and spiritual skills as well.”

“I’m still not getting the throwing people across the room part. Not that I’m against it, mind.”



Zoe’s nose wrinkled ever so slightly. Did Jamie ever think? How had her ancestors made it to the stars, if he was part of her world’s history?

Jamie was still talking, “I mean, yes, that’s the physical skill, but why acquire that? Would it be any different to stand on my head? What’s the difference between one physical skill in another if the point is just to be disciplined?”

The boy has a good mind. He asks questions. I really should take him home one day. Scotland needs men like him, even if he only has children and passes on his good genes. The Doctor mulled over Pash’s words. ’All knowledge begins in self-knowledge.’ Yes, context. All my education and witnessing the process in others did not prepare me for my own regeneration. I know that I am myself, but I feel that I am myself as a different self. What does that mean? Is the disconnect in my identity there because I regenerated in traumatic circumstances? No other Time Lord lives as I do. Perhaps they don’t feel the same change because their surroundings are static. Is this what Rassilon wanted, merely to prolong a life that was the same no matter its length? The thoughts were creating emotional disturbance and his body was starting to reflect it. The Doctor tried a few deep, cleansing breaths.

“Standing on your head is in fact an advanced exercise to control balance. However, the real point of a martial art is to learn ways to defend yourself and others. Any education requires discipline. A physical discipline also requires a disciplined mind. In teaching you these disciplines, I will strive to show you that it is not only mind and body that are instructed, but the spirit.” Pash bowed. “If I instruct your mind and body, I have failed. If I fail to instruct your mind and body, but your spirit is enlightened, you have succeeded.”

“So why do you only have three arms?” Jamie sounded exasperated.

“Why do you only have two?”

I should be asking these questions. Jamie knows he doesn’t know. It took me this long to figure it out. “Because it’s the way I am,” Zoe blurted out.

Learned Pash flipped Zoe over his third arm and pinned her facedown with a knee in the back. Her chest and thighs stung from the abrupt contact with the mat, even through her gi. “Very good. You pass. Stand without using your hands to help you up.” The weight on her back vanished as he moved away.

He addressed the Doctor specifically. “Why are we wearing gi, Doctor?”

“It has a protective function and the color denotes our status as beginning students.”

“Why is white the color of beginning?”

“White space implies the emptiness of experience waiting to be acquired. From white light, all colors can be derived.”

“Why does it matter if you wear a color that shows you are a beginner?”

“A martial arts discipline expects respect to be shown to the sensei. I am the student, you are the teacher.”

“That is correct. When are you going to show me the respect of admitting you are ignorant?!

The Doctor flinched, his blue eyes wide. “I beg your pardon!”

“It is your own pardon you should beg. No sensei can teach a student who will not learn. You prevent yourself. I do not deny your intelligence, Doctor. Do not deny my skills.” He held out his third arm straight. “Push down on my arm. Make it move from level.”

The Doctor pushed down, at first with little effort, then with all his strength. The arm held in mid-air as if it were a projected force beam and with as little show of effort.

“Now you, Zoe. No,“ he interrupted as she stretched out her hand, “Use only one finger.”

Zoe looked surprised, but did as she was told. Pash’s arm went down at once. He straightened again. “You think I let it fall, do you not?”

The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe all agreed on this.

“So you think I would deceive you from the beginning of my instruction? If you truly think this, you should leave now. If not, Jamie, you try.” They didn’t leave. Pash held out his arm again. “Only one finger.”

Jamie pushed the arm down with the pressure of one finger, but the Doctor could not budge it with all his strength. He met Pash’s eyes.

“I don’t understand.”

“Are you going to leave?”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“If you will stay and try to learn, Doctor, I will try to teach you.”

“Does this mean I pass?”

“The first test? Yes.”




Bodies In Motion

In his academy days, the Doctor had had to perform such mental exercises as proving multidimensional math theorems orally. He’d had physical training in controlling his respiratory bypass system, and how to enter a trance and discretely control each single muscle in his body.

Those cold-blooded elitists back on Gallifrey wouldn’t have lasted a half-mile through their daily 10k jogs. The three of them did their physical workouts together. Jamie had the easiest time of it. The young Highlander was superbly fit and used to fell running. Once the Doctor got the idea of copying Jamie’s form, he and Zoe did much better.

“Finally, something I’m best at,” Jamie exulted. Sometimes he felt cooped up in the TARDIS, and the running felt good. He could have run circles around his companions, but that would have been unkind.

“Who knew running would be a useful skill in this century?” Zoe panted out the words. They were on a five-minute rest stop, and Zoe was still catching her breath. “I didn’t know learning to respect my physical being would involved so much sweat.”

“Considering all the running we are called on to do in our travels, it’s a very practical skill, Zoe, in any century.” The Doctor’s skill at breath control was a great aid to him. He didn’t have Jamie’s spring in his step, but this new body was sturdily and efficiently made.

“It’s fun, too. I feel like I’m flying along sometimes; like I could run up a hill and up into the sky.” Caught up in his runner’s high, Jamie spun around. Instinctively, he did not want to lose the pitch of effort his body had settled into. He felt like he could run on for miles.

“I wish I felt that way.” Zoe watched Jamie move. She had thought of him from their first meeting as having an animal vigor. He fit here, on the rolling hills, under the broad woolly sky.

“You should find yourself quickly becoming more fit, Zoe. You’re already trim, you need only add a bit of muscle and lung capacity. Deep breaths! Oxygenate your blood.” The Doctor thumped her on the back, beaming. “Ready to go on?”

Zoe raced off, and Jamie leapt after her. The Doctor shook his head and kept on at a more calculated pace. Zoe’s sprint lasted only a hundred meters, and Jamie grabbed her hand and let her be drafted in his wake. “Don’t wear her out, Jamie! There’s another kilometer to go.”

At the end of the distance, they slowed to a cooling down pace. “I could feel myself able to go faster following Jamie than I could by myself, Doctor. I’m surprised there was so much difference,” Zoe mused.

“It’s called ‘drafting’. It’s often seen in migratory birds. They fly in wedges so that the leading birds reduce air resistance for those that follow.”

“Aye, I’ve often watched the wild geese fly like that. Is that how they fly so far?”

“They fly so far because they fly together.”

Zoe grabbed their hands and laughed between them. “Just like us, from one end of time to the other!”

“Mind you, it works better for humans running in a line, rather than a wedge.”

Jamie grinned and surged ahead, his arm swinging back to set Zoe behind him. They dragged the Doctor along in a giggling line.



The hot tub was deep enough to allow Zoe to be discreetly submerged nearly to her chin. She sat heavy-eyed in her spot, and the Doctor kept an eye on her to be sure she didn’t suddenly fall asleep and slip under.

“How do the geese know to fly in a wedge, Doctor?”

Ah, Jamie was still working out cosmology. “It should be natural for them to feel that it’s easier to fly in that formation.”

“Back home the priest would say God tells them.”

“I won’t argue religious beliefs, Jamie, unless they are outright harmful and I’ve no other choice. I can’t see there’s any harm in you pondering the greater mysteries as long as you understand it’s not likely you’ll find the truth of them.”

“But doesn’t anyone know the truth? All these scientists, all these planets with long histories, doesn’t anyone know?” The young Scot’s frank face held little hope of an answer even as he looked to the Doctor to speak.

Zoe’s big dark eyes blinked open. “Science doesn’t explain everything. It’s a tool, not an end in itself. They used to tell me, back on the Wheel, that I was too much like a machine. I was raised to be like that, of course. My society desperately needed intelligent, dedicated scientists. I couldn’t go back to that, Doctor.” Her mouth trembled.

“I’m sorry, Zoe, if I upset you with my yammering. Don’t cry, lass.” Jamie put a hand out and then became freshly aware that under all that bubbling water Zoe was naked. He didn’t know quite what to do with that reaching hand.

The Doctor sighed heavily. “If by knowing, you mean that you can stop asking questions… in my experience, Jamie, when you stop asking questions you are no longer looking for the truth.” He had bruises that were even now revising the first lesson Pash had taught him.

Jamie chewed over this. “Even if the questions have been asked before?”

“Even so—and that’s not permission to harass me with questions day and night. Learn to use the brain you’ve got.”

“Isn’t that what we’re doing in this bubbly tub, or are we just turning into soup?” Jamie grinned.

Zoe countered, “If we’re to improve ourselves by running about and getting into the soup, we could have done that on the TARDIS and not be tossed through the air by Learned Pash.”

“We could always leave, Zoe, if you’re unhappy here,” the Doctor offered.

“Oh, no, we’re not. I’m not done with this place yet. See, I’m doing better—naked in the tub with the two of you. I didn’t really think about it until just now, I was so tired from the run.”

It became obvious that Jamie was peering at a point over Zoe’s left ear. “I didn’t think about it until you mentioned it, Zoe. At home, it would seem shameful, but it doesn’t matter here.”

“It’s like the saying: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ It’s perfectly normal to share a tub here. Now, if we were in Rome, they have marvelous bathhouses, but the women bathe separately. Wonderful place to take a bath, Rome, if you hit it in the right century.” The Doctor remembered a certain lyre performance and chuckled to himself.

His friends demanded to know the joke, and by the time he’d finished telling them the story of his visit to Nero’s court, they were all rather pruney.

“Well, then. Time we were getting out.” The Doctor steepled his fingers and looked expectantly at Zoe and Jamie.

“Right.” Jamie did not budge.

Zoe massaged the back of her neck.

“Remember to take a cool shower to close the pores in your skin. The final step in the process, you know. Very old technique, from hot to cold.” The Doctor beamed as he imparted this information.

“You’d better get on with it, Doctor. You’re a wee red in the face.” Jamie sat back.

Zoe added, “We’ll let you take first crack.”

“There are several shower cubicles. No need for me to go first,” the Doctor said cheerfully. “Besides, the polite thing is for Zoe to leave first, being a lady.”

“Oh, right,” said Jamie in patent relief. “Go on, Zoe, sorry if I was rude.”

“Nonsense! That kind of gender precedence does not exist in this century. The Doctor should leave first, as he is senior.” Zoe gave a decided nod of her head, having in her mind clearly settled the issue.

“That sounds reasonable—“ Jamie started.

“Good manners never go out of style?” The Doctor looked meaningfully at Zoe.

She countered quickly, “If good manners mean you get out first, yes.”

Jamie abstained this round.

“Botheration!” The Doctor couldn’t think up any more arguments for the debate. “How did we all get in here without a fuss? There were no blindfolds involved, I would have remembered.”

“I just wanted a nice hot soak, Doctor. I wasn’t thinking of anything else." Zoe bit her lip. She felt she could be handling this much better.

Ever practical, Jamie suggested, " Zoe, the Doctor and I will close our eyes and you get out first.”

“Will that work for you, Zoe?"

The Doctor did sound a little too pleased, Zoe noticed. “Fine!” She stood up abruptly. “Jamie!”

The Scot quickly closed his eyes. “Sorry, I didn’t expect you to stand just yet.”

“Bit late now,” she grumbled, sloshing water vigorously as she climbed out in a dudgeon.

“Should I open my eyes then?” Jamie may have sounded slightly hopeful.

“NO. Keep them closed until I say.” Zoe’s towel rustled.

The Doctor and Jamie sat there with their eyes closed.

“Zoe? May we open our eyes now?”

“No!” More towel rustling. “I said, Doctor, I’ll say when.”

“Very well. Whenever you’re ready.”

Dripping. Rustling.

Dripping.

Dripping.

“Zoe?”

Dripping.

“I think she left us,” Jamie opined.

The Doctor opened his eyes.

Zoe screamed and dropped the towels, including the inadequate one she’d been attempting to clutch to her body. “Doctor!”

“I’m so sorry, Zoe, I thought you were gone.” He had quickly closed his eyes again. “Don’t open your eyes, Jamie.”

“Do you think?”

“Sarcasm is not called for, Jamie.”

“I can’t find a towel big enough to cover me. Yours were wet, so I brought you dry towels… at least, they were dry. I dropped them in a puddle,” Zoe said stiffly.

“Never mind, Zoe. We’ll manage. You go on to your shower.”

“I’m taking the one on the far end. They’re open stalls, you see.”

“Ah. Right.”

Zoe called out from a distance, “You can open your eyes now.”

“Thank you.” The Doctor sighed and opened his eyes. He looked at Jamie. “Are we going to have a problem getting out?”

“I don’t care any more. I’m almost soup.” Jamie climbed out of the hot tub on his side and the Doctor did likewise. The towels were indeed wet, but he took one as a literal sop to modesty and headed towards the showers. The splat of water being wrung from a towel suggested that Jamie was following suit.

“Strange how when one tries not to think of things, that they prey on one’s mind.”

“Yes,” said Jamie with feeling.

“And this bathing facility is rather primitive in function. Water, towels, tubs and showers. Modern technological societies often use sonic methods of hygiene.”

“Sonic? Sound, right? How does sound get you clean?”

“It vibrates dirt and dead skin cells off you. Water can be a limited resource and become very valuable.”

They had reached the shower area. Water was running down at the far end.

“Doesn’t seem to be a problem in this place.”

“I’m glad, I do prefer a nice sluice of cold water. It’s far more refreshing. I expect they have excellent recycling apparatus.” The Doctor found some dry towels and selected a stall. He turned the water up as cold as it would go. He could control his body temperature quite well, but the prolonged exposure to hot water had started to become unpleasant. The icy splash of the shower was a distinct relief.

“Recycling? Some sort of watermill…” Jamie knew he had it wrong, but rightly assumed one of his more technologically experienced companions would jump in.

“No, Jamie, they collect the waste water from all the drains and subject it to a purification process,” Zoe called out helpfully.

Jamie stopped in the act of reaching for the shower controls. “All the drains? All the drains?”

“Certainly. Why waste valuable moisture? This world was meant to be a fiery cauldron. In order to make it inhabitable, the most important thing they had to do was manage the water.” The Doctor was eager to add in his bit.

“On the Wheel, every drop of moisture was scrubbed from the air and all waste facilities and used again, over and over, even the moisture that people excrete in their liquid, solid, and gaseous waste. The systems were very efficient.” Zoe’s voice was casually informative. The notion was second nature to her.

Jamie stood stock still, dripping wet, and tried to keep his gorge down. “I’d rather not think on it,” he said firmly.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

“No, nothing at all.”

The Doctor sighed into the taut silence from the next shower stall in which water was not yet running. “’And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.’”

“Huh?” Thus spake Zoe.

“Thanks,” murmured Jamie, and turned on the shower.



Epilogue

They would always have Cyprus. The Doctor kept the fond memories of this time with Jamie and Zoe in a special part of his memory. Interestingly, his third incarnation called on the physical skills of aikido far more than he ever had in the second that had taken the class.

Jamie had gained a kind of steady center that made him a comfort to the Doctor. He thought that even losing conscious access to the memories of his travels would not erase the changes Jamie had made inside himself.

Zoe had become so strong and capable that he was sure that even the Time Lords couldn’t fit her back into her old role. She was no one’s obedient walking computer now. He would never forgive the Time Lords taking their memories away, and he would never forgive himself for not having found some way to protect them.

Even supposing he threw them across a dojo a few times, the High Council would remain insufferably convinced of their logic and their right to act as they saw fit. They were encased in their dry, sterile lives as effectively as a Dalek in its battle armor.

He had scorned Ian and Barbara at first, but then came to value them. Sometimes he felt like the whole human race was his second family. He loved a few, was fond of many, and there were plenty he didn’t want to see even at Christmas.

And a special handful were with him always, so nearly parts of himself as himself, that it didn’t seem possible to ever truly say good-bye.




The End
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