title: half human (or, deoxyribonucleic acid)
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"Two organisms can be said to belong to the same species if they can mate to produce fertile offspring. Reproduction between members of separate species is generally not possible without genetic manipulation. Furthermore, such hybrids - if 'naturally' produced - will be of sufficiently unique genetic makeup as to be unable to reproduce..."
- The Illustrated Children's Encyclopedia of Genetic Engineering, J Lydon (San Fransisco, 2014).
"I'm half human. On my mother's side" - The Doctor
There is a moment upon waking of complete relaxation. The moment before awareness and memory and the other troublesome functions of the concious mind kick in. The Doctor was currently in that moment. Unfortunately, even in a vessel isolated from linear time, a single moment could not last.
He opened his eyes.
...you have your mother's eye's son. human eyes. you see the universe through retinas and corneas that were never meant to be wired up to a mind like yours. dangerous sight, son. sight that will bring you nothing but trouble...
His mother's eyes were...blue? Yes, he remembered them now, they were blue. Blue like her home planet viewed from space. (How could he have forgotten something like that? Something so horrendously symbolic of his own existence?)
The TARDIS was blue. It was blue because it had already been broken when he stole it from Gallifrey. And why had he stolen it? To run away. And why had he wanted to run away? Because - so his father had said - his blood was spiced with the genes that had made humans wander out of Africa and across the face of their own planet. The genes that made them leave the nursery, struggle through an inhospitable solar system, and then make that final leap out into the stars. (His mother had died a week before the launch of Sputnik. Another irony to add to the list.) The Doctor didn't believe in genetic predestination, but occasionally he liked to pretend to himself that his travels were the culmination of his mother's side of his personal evolutionary tree. It made them seem like his own way of passing on the family blood.
...red blood cells. the nucleus nonexistant, they contained no dna, no genetic information. it was the white blood cells that gave the game away, that told the universe who and what you were. traitors in your own bloodstream...
There was Susan of course. Susan, the mysterious girl from the future. The grandchild he raised without ever having children. It made sense, he had convinced himself once (centuries ago, it seemed and was) that some future incarnation should give guardianship of such precious burden to the only version of the Doctor to have stayed in one place for more than a few months at a time. But there was no child to precede the grandchild. At least not yet. And even in a life like his, a life where continuity and causality were things that happened to other people, this was a glaring inconsistency.
His mother - nothing if not a product of her times - was none too pleased to discover the simple truths of genetics. Her son was unique. The base pairs in his double helix produced such unusual genes that it was almost certain - the 'almost' was the part she clung to - that she would never have any grandchildren.
...deoxyribonucleic acid. two strands in anti-parallel bonding. base pairs - adenine and thymine, cytosine and guanine. the stuff that dreams are made of. or at least, the stuff that the minds that have those dreams are made of. deoxyribonucleic acid; a self-replicating molecule, base pairs arranged into genes, genes arranged into chromosomes, chromosomes forming...well, anything and everything. every eye that ever gazed upon the stars and every ear that ever listened to the waves that crashed upon the beaches. deoxyribonucleic acid. the be all and the end all. the final judgement, against which there could be no appeal...
Then Susan had arrived. Hope. But the girl had no memory of her mother - the side of the family that had carried the Doctor's genes to her own - and her father had died a few weeks before her grandfather had even known of the girl's existence. Susan had suggested a DNA test. The Doctor, when he was a man who knew that some things were best unknown, had declined the offer.
But some day, Susan's very life seemed to suggest, the Doctor wouldn't need to be alone.
Lonliness was the Doctor's current explanation for the events of the previous...subjectively 'day', relatively nothing, traditionally 'night'. 'Lonely' was a good excuse.
The lights came on as he entered the console room. He flipped switches only to reset them, ran programmes only to shut them down almost immediately. Pointless. But it was a distraction, and that was what mattered.
She's gone. You can stop sulking now.
The TARDIS responded with the telepathic equivalent of insulted.
She's not coming back.
The TARDIS did a remarkable job of hiding it's approval of this turn of events. The TARDIS was incapable of sympathy or comfort, but expressed dissatisfaction that his emotional integrity had been compromised. It left out the 'I told you so'.
...half human and half gallifreyan. a genetic improbabilty, a social liability. neither one thing nor the other, both one thing and the other. technically a species in his own right. a species all on his own. all on his alone. not acceptable to a gallifreyan - what would the neightbours think? not acceptable to a human - what if the children are green? biologically unique. one of a kind...
It would have been too weird anyway, he told himself. It had made perfect sense at the time, but considered sensibly, given the level of thought a relationship would be subject to, it was absurd. The Gallifreyan in him added pedantically that it would also have broken several laws of Time. The human in him added lewdly that he had already broken several laws of Time. Twice.
But she had been so nice. They had laughed together in the face of danger, drunk tea together as they talked of old times. Her memories of him had been nothing but positive. (Or at least the ones she told him about were.) She was impressed by the things he had done to the TARDIS.
They had been reunited quite by chance, run into one another (literally) in London. They had joined forces to defeat yet another threat to humanity by yet another evil from the dawn of time. Even the traditional "Do I know you?"/"I've regenerated." conversation - among the most trying situations time travel had to offer - hadn't gone too badly.
And then it had all fallen apart. When the battle was won and the smoke had cleared, the Doctor had found himself realising that the adrenaline rushes and the fears for her safety over the past two days had their origins in something more than the comradeship of fighting on the same side. When he had died in San Fransisco he had been born again a romantic - or so everyone told him - and she was...argumentative, forthright, headstrong...
She had kissed him. Suddenly, unexpectedly. Tenderly. The instinct to push her away had fought the instinct to pull her closer and compromised at inaction. At least to begin with. And then...
Best not to think about it. It was confusing and it hurt too much. It raised uncomfortable questions about his feelings for her. Suggested that they might be connected to feelings that he had always had. Suggested that he was achingly lonely.
In his left hand, (He had wondered as a child if the left side was the human side. How naive he had been back then), he held the crumpled remains of the note that she had left on the pillow. Unfolding it, ironing out the creases with cold fingers, he read it one last time:
For once in your lives you were sleeping, so I decided that it was best not to wake you. Needless to say, I am gone and will not see you again. This is not a reflection on you, merely a statement of historical fact.
Bluntly, post-coital etiquette is not my strong point, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead and stop writing now.
It was, of course, lovely to see you again.
Be you later,
PS: I have it on very good temporal and hormonal authority that this finally solves the mystery of where Susan came from...