The Doctor considered the boy's sleeping figure. He really had no right to rib Jamie about his kilt; after all, he himself had worn robes for a good part of his life thus far. And Jamie's kilt was far less cumbersome when running and fighting — which was why the High Council had always insisted on the least practical robes and the Chancellory Guard and the plebeian classes — the Doctor considered, horrified, the connotative, ideological value of this label so beloved by those born into the privileged Chapters — wore trousers. But the plebeian — the Doctor softly cleared his throat as though he cleared his mind — the non-Time Lord Gallifreyans often still did wear robe-like garments, as a sign of a sort of social ambition. Skirts and robes weren't a sign of gender, as they were in many Earth-based societies, but a sign of power — the reverse of many of those same Earth-based societies. The Doctor scoffed at the immutability of the Gallifreyan class system. This was also why he had insisted on wearing trousers as soon as he could get away with wearing them.
But teasing Jamie was so much fun; the innocent incomprehension, the gentle embarrassment, the mock indignation and sometimes the infectious laughter. The Doctor felt warm-hearted as he looked upon his companion. Bare feet on the blanket, wrapped around shaped legs disappearing up said kilt, the remainder of the blanket clutched in tightened hands, the chest slowly rising and falling with human breath, the brown hair messy on a sleeping face.
The Doctor considered his own form, sitting cross-legged, back against the wall. His pockets felt reassuringly weighed down with his recorder and screwdriver as well as an assortment of knick-knacks that could just come in handy one day. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall.
He had to decide. His hand hovered over the big red button, glittering with the mass of temporal energy captured within it.
Time to grow up.
Grief. Fear. Loss. Anger. Despair.
Two point four seven billion.
Where did that number come from?
Blood curdling screams rang in his ears, limbs and buildings indiscriminately ripped apart by green flashes. Joy and apprehension as red fire brought down one of the saucers.
The eye stalk died.
His hand lowered onto the big red button.
Two point four seven billion.
He would kill them all.
No. No. No. No.
A frightfully warm appendage grasped his hand and the Doctor withdrew in disgust, imagining it to be a Skaroene tentacle. The appendage held fast and the Doctor opened his eyes.
Jamie. Oh, Jamie.
The Doctor clung onto his hand as if it were his only means of survival.
“Just a memory, Jamie.”
“Aye,” the boy understood post-traumatic stress disorder even if he didn't have a name for it. But pre-traumatic stress disorder was extremely rare and had previously been linked, by Gallifreyan scientists, to precognition. But this could not be precognitive, unless a time fissure had been created — by the temporal entanglement? Or was that a causal fallacy — not fissure post knot ergo fissure propter knot, not Y follows X thus X caused Y, but a third factor altogether? Hmm. Yes. But what?
“Did I frighten you, Jamie?”
Jamie squeezed the Doctor's hand slightly, sympathetically. The Doctor uncrossed his legs to accommodate Jamie sitting next to him radiating warmth and comfort.
“We are in trouble.”
“Ey? Aye, as always then.”
The Doctor sighed. “Well we're not where we should be. We shouldn't be here. I have been here before but that me isn't here now. We're rewriting history, or are in an alternate time-stream, or — I should have recognised Socrates but I didn't. The temporal entanglement was wrongly disentangled, we've upset the flow of the time-streams.”
“But we're here, now.”
“So how do we get out?”
“Well I don't know, Jamie. I don't know.”
The Doctor considered the situation. He wasn't entirely in the same time has he had been before; the TARDIS had avoided landing there to avoid a paradox or a further distortion, but nonetheless time was writing — rewriting itself onto a new path. A subtle time shift. Thus the entanglement. The entanglement itself had been created by and simultaneously created a change to a temporal node. He simultaneously had and hadn't his memories, tracks side-by-side, caught in a new loop, ripples through the spatio-temporal web as a future decision altered the past — reverse butterfly effect. Altering a fixed point in time without tearing a hole in the space-time fabric — resewing it simultaneously. Time Lord science. But none of the Time Lords would dare — would they?
Omega would. Rassilon, perhaps. Some of his more daring old Academy friends, possibly. But they were dead or banished or otherwise occupied. None else would — should be able to handle this sort of technology. Rewriting a solidified future. Shifting time tracks. No wonder he had found himself (regeneration plural) in the time knot and disposed at a point that was not just unintended, as his wildly erratic TARDIS had taught him to become used to, but wholly wrong.
Ripples in time. The only solution was to wait for the ripples to subside — wasn't it? But waiting was not his forte. Just the prospect of spending the night at a Terran-standard rate made him feel antsy.
“Go to sleep, Jamie.”
Jamie continued holding the Doctor's hand as his sleepy, drowsy, perhaps slightly tipsy form slumped against the Doctor, perhaps fearful of letting go now that it had been acknowledged that once again they were up against a problem that they weren't sure yet that they would be able to handle. The Doctor was not sure he minded having his dear friend so closely by his side as he was condemned to spending the night agonising over their problem. As a matter of fact, he knew he didn't mind at all. Humans were different in that sense, differentiating so stringently between sexes and often simultaneously genders as though they were binary and a form of predestination. Utterly absurd, especially in the way that it restricted interaction. And he was always prone to overcompensating either way by either acting patronisingly towards those differentiating less and acting too freely towards those differentiating more. But he was getting better at it.
Whenever he turned his head, the young Highlander's soft hair brushed against the Doctor's cheek. The Scot smelled of freshly cut grass, of petrichor and wet soil, of that static, electrified metallic of the TARDIS, and faintly of Socrates' rather tasty honey-sweetened diluted wine.
Over dinner, the Doctor had tried, using all his tact so as to not upset Jamie in case he overheard, to explain to Socrates that he and Jamie were not erastes and eromenos in the strict Athenian sense of such a relationship. Their friendship was not physical as such — but then Socrates had mentioned the way the Doctor and Jamie clung onto one another when standing close and had offered that their relationship was physical regardless of the way one took the word physical.
“Yes”, the Doctor had had to concede. But the physical took no priority; the emotional and mental shaped their friendship instead. They were friends.
'Philia', in Athenian Greek, however, is as slippery a concept as 'xenos'. While there was a clear distinction between 'hospitable' and 'friendly', and between 'friends' and 'spouses' — the latter being more material — there is no distinction between 'friends' and 'lovers' as such, and although there are two synonyms indicating slightly different forms of love — 'eros' being explicitly sexual, and 'agape' being a sort of divine love — all could still be taken synonymously. However, 'philia' was the word for friendship and companionship and was thus the only word the TARDIS would translate the Doctor's explanation of friendship as. And the Doctor did love Jamie as a friend and as a companion.
“I am his mentor, his teacher, he is my pupil,”, though he disliked the sense of hierarchy implicit in this explanation, “we travel and learn.”
Socrates had wondered why such teachings did not include all ways of the world, to which the Doctor had answered that such was not done where Jamie was from.
“But isn't the point of your travels to teach him about new things?”
Of course it wasn't. They travelled for fun, the Doctor explained exasperatedly, because the TARDIS took them — he spoke of the TARDIS as though she was a guiding goddess — and because — because — because they wanted to meet new people, have new experiences, see new things...
Because no one could travel like they travelled.
The Doctor suddenly remembered that he hadn't liked to meet Socrates the other time he was here. He was simultaneously relieved that Jamie had quit the conversation early on, before this discussion, in a quest to find some more of Socrates' excellent wine. The stone cutter had finally relented, being kind.
“You are companions,” he had concluded. “And you share your wisdom with him.”
The Doctor had merely nodded, hesitant to find himself in another discursive minefield.
“This is admirable.”
Now Jamie slept against him, his strong features softened. He had not ever even introduced the topic to his friend, assuming — no, fearing, from the deepest of both his hearts — that it would alienate him. It broke his hearts whenever Jamie was genuinely upset with him. The Doctor rested his face against the soft brown hair, breathing in the grass, petrichor and soil, metallic and sweetened wine, and sighed, taking out his journal and a pencil to make some basic calculations.
Jamie had stirred and the Doctor had moved away from the wall, leaving Jamie to sleep by himself, so he could do his calculations by the light of the moons and the stars, and later by the soft glow of an approaching dawn.
He had heard him awaken and heard him approach, and smiled inwardly when Jamie grasped his arm and leaned over his shoulder to make sense of the drawings and diagrams and numbers on the pages of his journal. Jamie's breath warmly brushed by the Doctor's cheek, his other hand rested loosely on the Doctor's shoulder blade. Companions. Such clinginess was not out of the ordinary for Jamie, yet the Doctor could not deny that he suddenly noticed the eroticism of the situation and unmarked held his breath.
The power of suggestion.
Turning his own words against him.
Socrates was a devious one.
He concentrated on his schematics, trying to ignore the collected beating of Jamie's single heart, or the rushing of his own blood in his own ears, or the sudden lump in his throat. He exhaled.
“You see, Jamie, when you throw a pebble in a pond, the circles get wider and wider and if you had two points and the curve of the ripples per point you could calculate their point of origin, or where the rock hit the water's surface.”
“Aye, so where did they start?”
“Well you see, the linear time displacement is not very large. I thought it was the TARDIS avoiding a paradox but we arrived a few years before I was here. The displacement in my own time-stream is a full regeneration. So it's -”
“Doctor,” Jamie interrupted. “Where?”
The Doctor sighed and pointed at his schematics. “About three linear milleniums, and when I am -” he hesitated. “About nine-hundred. Give or take a century, provided I have used the correct age.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Well, we feed the time coordinates into the TARDIS and stop whatever is causing the ripples.”
He turned his head to face his companion, moving — reluctantly, away from the warm hands. “But now we-” he again hesitated. Dark eyes. Soft hair. Soft mouth. So close.
The Doctor wanted to clear his throat but felt he couldn't. Instead he leaned in and kissed his companion. Sweet and earthy. He found the soft lips unyielding and quickly withdrew, now able to clear his throat, and looked away, turning back to the schematics.
“I'm sorry, Jamie,” he simply said. Jamie's hands had dropped. “We-we should leave.”
The boy said nothing.
What had he been thinking — he was several centuries older, at least. He was old enough that he should be above Socrates' mischievous attempts at manipulation. Time to leave. The sooner they jumped back onto the right time-stream, the better. They would go and repair the fissure and with a slice of luck neither of them would remember his little indiscretion.
He snapped shut his journal and pulled himself to his feet. From above, Jamie looked almost small, childlike, his face cast down.
“Jamie, I'm sorry,” the Doctor repeated. Dawn finally broke over the mountains. If they wanted to leave without having to do goodbyes, they would have to go now.
“Why'd ye do tha'?” Jamie kept his face cast down. The Doctor clasped his hands together in
“I didn't think.”
“Tha''s nae wha' I asked.”
So far for slipping away in the night.