Fandom: Doctor Who
Word count: 1300
Notes: Let's see how many other people I can blame for this one. Well, astrogirl2 wrote a fantastic Doctor/Master fic called Eclipsing Binary, and then amberite said that the idea of regeneration during sex was so cool that she was going to write a fic about it, and I said that she'd better write it because otherwise I would. I'm sure you can see where this is heading.
I scribbled this one in an hour and a half. Much longer and it would have started demanding a real plot or canonical compatability or semi-decent dialogue or something unreasonable like that.
They are what they become, which is the spontaneous dispersal of energy.
Which in English is entropy which in Italian is entropia which in Gallifreyan is a word which means destiny and also means enemy. On the population level it makes perfect sense but on the personal it simply means that they cannot touch without fighting to keep their balance.
(because they have always known that time is anything but linear)
"How many settings of that thing could kill a man?"
No smile, just the weakly pulsing blue light on the tip of that ridiculous instrument.
A human being has two copies of every chromosome and one is from their mother and one from their father, both of whom also have two copies of each…
A Time Lord also has two sets of DNA and one is the variable, one is a random combination of all of the lives of their mother and all of the lives of their father, spliced into being in a way that only makes biological sense if you are thinking in four dimensions. This is the set which is transmuted in the golden fire of regeneration. But the other is the constant, the fingerprint: everything is done in twos. It is not Mendelian. It is not ordered. It is the wild piecing together of fragments to create a unique individual followed by another unique individual followed by another, with nothing but death as the transcription factor.
Everything is done in twos. One heart could be large or small or weak or prone to falling in love with blonde girls, ba-bump, ba-bump, or with lopsided ventricles or an excitable rhythm.
One heart is the core of the regeneration and is as steady as a drumbeat.
And so the Doctor blinks at him with those cold bright eyes and Harold Saxon wonders at the trick of genetics that has led them to be here, now, in these forms.
Seventeen years old, one boy looks at another with eyes that sparkle a still-retained reflection of the vortex of time, and he says, "I'm curious."
It's about the only thing he could say that will have the power to tip this over the balance, which he knows, which is why he says it.
"All right," the other says, pushing hair out of his face. "But no blood."
No blood means compensating with a lot of bites that never quite break the skin, a lot of bruises, an argument over proximity, four hearts accelerating in juvenile excitement, and a length of smooth rope. No blood means swearing in a language that was not designed for swearing in and so relies entirely on the juxtaposition of concepts rather than any kind of blasphemy.
No blood means the other's pale capable hands pulling a knot tight with a violence that is surprisingly easy to trigger once you know how. He jerks himself off until he can no longer clench the muscles of his own hands and then it all comes down to friction, to bare skin that crumbles and crumbles into gold dust and then, when the pain has risen and fallen into darkness, an explosion. He screams and hears the timbre deepen as his throat changes shape and beyond that he hears another scream from someone whose body is still pressed against his own and engulfed in the blaze. He is inside-out. He is eight years old and gazing into the universe and it is disintegrating before his eyes, very slowly.
For the rest of his existence he will not be able to come without seeing the vortex behind his eyelids and hearing that particular harmonised scream.
He opens eyes that are a new shade of green, sucks in a breath, and gives a wide smile.
"How do I look?"
"Like a cat," the other says in return.
He laughs and says, "Nine lives could never be enough."
For a long long time there is nothing but the ticking of a pocketwatch and the distant sound of drums.
Their eyes meet and they know with a strange and immediate certainty that they will not kill each other. Everything from this point onwards will just be games, or perhaps foreplay. And they're good games, because they have thrown the power they have over one another up into the air and it is in fifty-two pieces and who knows where they could all land? In the end everything comes down to balance. If one of them is laughing then the other is not and if one of them is dominant then the other is recessive and even if one of them is playing with a loaded deck there is always the possibility of the other picking up the four of hearts.
"How did it come to this? Travelling through time and space with a girl that you pretend to ignore, and a man who would do anything for you but whose presence you can barely stand because every cell of your body cries abomination against his existence."
"Don't," the other says, very quietly. That violence is just below the surface.
"It's absurd. It's unnatural," he says, half to himself. "All those deaths and he just stays the same."
The Doctor is almost but not entirely successful in hiding the quick shudder that runs through him, and the Master smiles in delight.
"I would never do that to you, you know. I would always change."
The Doctor looks tired. "I'm going to have to kill you."
He laughs and takes a step closer.
"Do you promise?"
How many settings of that thing could kill a Time Lord?
How many settings of that thing do you need to kill a Time Lord?
Even if you divided fifty-two by four, you still wouldn't be correct. The universe is lenient, or perhaps it just needs something to cling to as it slides inexorably into entropy. Perhaps there could never be just one of them without the other to balance them out.
(you are my)
In the end, everything has the same meaning.
In one sense they have always known that they would be the last heirs of their people, simply because they embody them: they swing between frantic chaos and frantic order like a pendulum set into motion with the flick of a finger. In this sense they are codominant, and in this sense they are indestructible.
The Master smiles.
"You were never going to kill me."
There is an expression that is naked and awful and unshielded in the Doctor's eyes. In those eyes he can see something that he was not expecting, which is a reflection of himself.
"The vortex," he breathes, lifting one hand to tilt the Doctor's face into an angle from which the madness is more apparent. "You looked."
That merciless voice rendered unsteady. "Don't think that this makes me the same as you."
They are touching. Hand to cheek. Soon one or both of them will lose their balance: or perhaps not. The vortex spins clockwise and counterclockwise depending on how you look at it, and they may yet cancel each other out.
"We are the same," he says simply.
"No," the Doctor says, and, "I don't want you to," and, "please," but he does not pull away.
He takes another step closer, his fingertips now tapping counterpoint against the smooth skin over the Doctor's carotid artery. The sound of drums and time-drenched blood.
"At this point," he says, with this body's beautifully precise tenor, "what would you be betraying?"
They are what they inherit.
Which is a pulsing blue light and empty space where a planet used to be and a universe that is crumbling into chaos just like they themselves.