Assignment: For MissChant on LJ. I was asked to write the first meeting of the Doctor and the Master, or how and why the Master chose his name, or Academy days D/M. I sort of merged the three of them to create this.
Notes: The thing about the Doctor's real name comes from (possibly unreliably but it was the best I could find) Wikipedia: The Doctor's real name is mentioned in "The Making of Doctor Who" (1972) by Terence Dicks and Malcolm Hulke. I've also ignored everything from the novel The Dark Path about the origin of the Master's title, but kept the canon/fanon 'fact' of his original name, Koschei. There is also a jump of about twelve years between the meeting and the choosing of names. Since Gallifreyans seem to age slower, and have much longer life spans, I figured that the Academy training would probably run for a long time. So they start at eight years old and graduate at around thirty.
His classmates always used to say that if he didn't start speaking soon, he'd be declared the first mute Time Lord. Theta, as his family and contemporaries (not friends, not at all) had dubbed him on his entrance to he Academy due to his practically unpronounceable name (which was essentially a string of mathematical symbols – his father was a Time Theorist and his mother was in love), was eighteen and had barely said a dozen words to his fellow students.
It wasn't that he was mute, nor was it that he was scared of speaking in any way. He just didn't feel the need to say anything, and was generally too busy day-dreaming of Earth – that elusive part of his heritage – and all of the other worlds and times he was going to see given half a chance to escape this boring planet.
He vowed to himself that once he'd managed to graduate and leave Gallifrey, he'd never return. Good riddance, he thought. Who needs all of that tradition and sobriety?
The thing was, Theta had suddenly found himself desperate to talk.
A boy he'd spent many a lesson with, though apparently had never noticed much before, seemed to pay as much attention to the Teachers as he did. That in itself was promising, as everyone else seemed to hang on the Teachers' every word, following all of the rules and achieving disgustingly high marks. Theta just couldn't find a legitimate reason to approach this boy – Koschei and begin speaking.
It was highly frustrating, to say the very least.
So Theta watched him, watched Koschei, waiting for the perfect moment.
Very quickly, he found himself noticing other things about Koschei that he'd never noticed before, like how he could always be found tapping out an idle rhythm on his desk – a sure sign of boredom if Theta had ever seen one – whether it be with his fingers, or a pencil, or by clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth. Theta became accustomed to the sound; he began to feel comforted by the beat, knowing Koschei was near-by and was as bored as he was.
His chance finally came one day a week or so later, when Koschei lagged behind leaving the last class of the day. Theta slowed his own pace when he realised that Koschei wasn't heading home as eagerly as everyone else, and watched as he began to massage his temples with a pained expression and his eyes clenched shut/
Seeing a golden opportunity, Theta approached Koschei quietly, gently as though approaching a timid animal expected to bolt at any moment.
"You should let a doctor see to that headache," Theta offered evenly, his voice low to avoid aggravating the pained Koschei, inadvertently using the Earth vocabulary his mother used, and not knowing whether or not Koschei would understand his meaning.
Unlike a timid animal, Koschei didn't jump of flinch at the intrusion; he simply opened his eyes, raised an eyebrow, opened his mouth as though to say something but obviously thought better of it, and finally went back to massaging his temples with his eyes closed.
A few awkward moments passed, and Theta was almost ready to retreat in pure embarrassment, but Koschei eventually spoke. "I don't need your help."
"I wasn't offering it," Theta replied, simply thankful that Koschei was actually talking to him. "I was just advising you to see a Healer. That headache looks pretty awful, and it could be something serious."
"It is," was all Koschei said.
There was another awkward pause.
"I was under the impression that you didn't speak," Koschei dropped his hands and crossed them over his chest, he opened his eyes. He'd obviously having given up on his massage technique. "Rumour had it you were mute – what changed?"
The question came out more like an order to speak, though Theta wasn't in the mood to disobey anyway. "I didn't have anything important to say."
Koschei's eyes narrowed. "Why do you have something to say now?"
Theta shrugged. "You seemed just as bored by all of this as I did."
"So boredom is your reason for only ever passing with half marks in every test?"
"It's enough to get me by – I don't get kicked out and I can still graduate at the end and get off this planet."
"You want to leave?" Koschei's whole demeanour seemed to change. His eyes became wide and bright, his arms unfolded from his chest and hung by his sides, he even seemed to lean forward onto the balls of his feet eagerly.
Theta grinned, "Of course!" He began to outline his plan to his excited audience. "I'm going to graduate and get myself a TARDIS and leave. I'm going to see empires and visit all of the greatest thinkers of the Universe, the artists and great Generals of war. I'm going to see suns burning up, and travel through the Vortex as far as I can go."
Koschei seemed mesmerised by Theta's enthusiasm, the great smile on his face causing a happy flutter in Theta that he didn't care to dwell on.
"I want to leave too," Koschei whispered, as though confiding a damning secret. "I'm just so powerless here; it's so loud and overpowering."
Theta gave a gentle smile. "I know exactly what you mean."
And while Koschei and he continued to talk, covering all sorts of vast conversational topics which only ended when they had to part ways to get to their won homes, Theta got the feeling that he'd met a kindred spirit.
It wasn't until years later when he realised that he hadn't known what Koschei meant at all, and he still didn't.
"I can't believe we're finally graduating," Theta remarked as he and Koschei sat on a wall on the out-skirts of the citadel, looking over the vast colourful landscape beyond the outer-most defences of their great Time Lord hive.
"It's certainly taken far too long," Koschei almost whined, kicking his legs against the wall randomly.
The lack of pattern to the beating of Koschei's shoes against the stone unnerved Theta slightly. He didn't care to bring up Koschei's obsession with pattern and order at a time like this though, he had other things to ask. More important things.
"Have you chosen a title yet?"
Koschei's legs stilled but his upper body remained relaxed, and Theta knew it was by force of will only. They'd been together for years now, and Theta knew Koschei's body language by heart. When Koschei felt threatened he would rather run away – or change the subject – than face defeat. Koschei was very competitive, and would kiss you rather than let you have the last word. At least, Theta thought with a fond smile, Koschei would with him. And during quiet moments, whether they were studying their texts and sums or studying each other, Koschei could always be seen tapping out that repetitive du-du-du-dum, and Theta could always feel it against his hip.
It would stop once Theta started to speak, and he found that he began to miss it. But Theta preferred the careful attention Koschei paid him when he spoke to the comforting ta-ta-ta-tap of Koschei's fingers against his skin, or pencil against paper.
"Have you chosen a title yet?" Koschei turned the question back on Theta.
"Maybe," Theta murmured, so Koschei had to strain to hear. "I want to go out there," he pointed up to the orange and red of the twin sunrise, "and I want to help people. I know we're told not to interfere... but how do we know we're not meant to interfere? Obviously fate and destiny are just inventions, but perhaps it's a paradox? What if we learn that the history of a certain society went a certain way, and we go to see it, but it's not heading in that direction and something we say or do influences those events to turn out the way we know they should? How can we know?"
Theta finally looked over to Koschei, and began to blush. "I was ranting again wasn't I?"
Koschei just nodded with a soft smile.
"Anyway... I think I have chosen a title," Theta said, thinking back to the day he'd first spoken to Koschei.
Koschei's smile faded. "What is it?"
"Doctor," Theta stated with a decisive nod and self-satisfied grin.
"Well," the other man began, "it's quite sweet. In a rather sanctimonious way."
Theta rolled his eyes. "And what about you?"
"I haven't chosen yet, Doctor," Koschei teased, but quickly sobered again. He didn't like to think of changing his name. It felt like he was leaving something important behind. It felt like he was going to change, and he didn't want to change. He liked who he was now, where he was now.
Theta discovered that he liked the way Koschei said his new name - though not quite as much as he liked the way Koschei said his real name.
Looking at his lover, Theta saw how tense he was and sighed. "Don't lie, Koschei, you've chosen. You just know that I'm not going to approve of it."
Koschei gave a rueful grin. "I knew keeping you around would be the death of me."
"Not for a few regenerations yet," Theta quipped, shuffling himself closer to Koschei on the wall so he could kiss his lover on the temple. "Are you going to tell me?"
"There are things I've not told you, things I may never tell you," Koschei began. "I don't know how to make you understand just how much I need to control my life – to control... other things."
"So," Theta tried to joke, "the Controller?"
Koschei snorted and shook his head. "No, Theta."
"Synonyms then? Let's see... the Overseer? The Dominator..."
"The Master?" Koschei suggested timidly, and for a moment Theta couldn't speak. Koschei was never timid, never hesitant or faint-hearted. Koschei went at things with everything he has; there were no half measures.
"The Master," Theta repeated thoughtfully. Koschei shivered, and Theta wrapped his arm around his back to try and help stave off the cold as he pulled his lover closer to his side. Theta didn't really notice that it wasn't particularly cold that morning. "The Doctor and the Master, like two walking Earth degrees." Koschei shivered again, and Theta pulled him closer. "I like it."
A gong sounded, not quite as loud to their ears to someone in the heart of the citadel but enough to make Theta's head whip around to look at the buildings behind them. "It's time," he sighed.
Koschei didn't speak, just lay his head on Theta's shoulder for a few moments, breathing deeply, before straightening up and jumping off the wall. He waited until Theta had joined him on the grassy surface, and then they began walking in synchronised steps towards the Hall for their graduation.
They didn't speak to each other again until after the ceremony, exchanging congratulations. Theta beamed as person after person called him "Doctor". Koschei remained stoic, and left the celebrations at the first opportunity.
Theta lost track of him in the crowd, and made do talking to other people. Every few minutes he would scan the bustle of people for Koschei's soft brown hair, his tall slim frame. Every few minutes he would be disappointed.
When there were only a few dozen people left in the room, long after the official celebrations had ended, Theta was forced to accept that Koschei had excused himself from the festivities. Feeling not a little anger – this was the beginning of their new adventure, Koschei could have stayed to begin it in style with him in his new home on the outer rim of the city – Theta went home alone.
In the morning, he discovered that Koschei had acquired himself a fully functioning TARDIS and had left Gallifrey. Stories began to filter back to his home planet telling of destruction; stories began to filter back telling of insanity.
Theta moved on with a family and a TARDIS of his own, and he began to see this insanity first hand as he met Koschei out in the cosmos. His heart broke to see his best friend so twisted and worn. But Koschei always seemed less insane when talking to him, and Theta was comforted to know that the focus Koschei always showed him was not gone.
Many centuries later, after deaths and Wars and conglomerations, Theta and Koschei met once more. The Doctor heard that comforting rhythm - ta-ta-ta-tap - and his heart broke all over again.
He finally understood, after nine hundred years, what it was that was so overpowering and loud and caused a young man to rub at his temples. Koschei didn't need the Doctor, because no Doctor could help him.