A/N: Midnight is one of my absolute favorite Doctor Who episodes ever. And the principle reason I watched it was because Colin Morgan of the League Of Fantastic Cheekbones and Wonderful Acting Skills is among the cast. And then Merlin crossover happened. Not sorry.
Disclaimer: I think just a general "I don't own the BBC, given that I am American and not smart enough to write for these brilliant programs" covers both shows.
The Doctor finds him in the lobby of the Sun-Palace, gazing through the exothermic windows even though the view is only a silver glow. The light - here, the filter for the sunlight is minimal, and so the brilliance is put on display - lends an ethereal look to his features.
The Doctor walks up to him and stands beside him and says nothing, and waits for Jethro to speak first.
"I should say sorry." Jethro says at last. "I lost my head. I could have helped, and instead I almost let you die."
The way he says you, as if the Doctor is something precious that must not be taken from the universe, confirms what the Doctor suspected from the moment he first spoke to Jethro, the theory which slowly built in some part of his head while chaos reigned around them both. Building theories is just something that the Doctor cannot help, even on days like this one.
That theory is that Jethro Cane is not at all what he claims to be.
"You were the calmest person there. The youngest too, fancy that." The Doctor pauses, and they look out at the light together. "Your parents weren't very concerned for you."
"Yes. When it came to time of crisis, in fact, they barely seemed to remember you were there. And you know, the most basic of human instincts, that one to protect one's offspring at any cost, well that usually just gets stronger when there's danger about." The Doctor lets his hand drop to his pocket, where the screwdriver rests. This day has been too trying for him to hold any good faith. "So. Why did the instinct fade out entirely?"
"I had a…" The man - something in him has changed, something that is posture and voice and eyes all at once, and a very great disguise it was, but Jethro has dropped it and simply no longer fits the label of boy - stumbles over his words. "I don't know…boyfriend, lover, soul mate, all of that. And he's gone. And my home went with him."
"I'm sorry." And the Doctor means it from the bottom of his heart, for he remembers shining gold hair and stronger than that even, he remembers two hearts beating for him and a dance across the universe. But still he waits.
"He's coming back. But it's been such a long time since he left me. And I was so tired of being alone."
"So you made yourself your own family. Tinkered in their minds so they'd think they produced you, and just stepped into the role of a son. That's really rather impressive, when you think of the memory fiddling you'd have to do, the way you'd need to modify their lives…"
"It really wasn't good work. You saw what we were like." He smiles, a bit self deprecatory. "And it didn't much make me feel better, truth be told. I've been alone so long, I think I forgot what humans are really like. Before today, I'd certainly forgotten their greatness."
"Today was what you'd call human greatness?" The Doctor hadn't seen much of that particular quality today. He wishes that he had, that some of the humans there had been great, but he had seen selfishness and pettiness and foolishness, with only one shining glimpse of simple decency. It was enough to make him weary of mankind.
"You were noble."
"You ought to know, I'm not human."
"No, me neither." The man looks into the light. The Doctor wonders what he sees. "But you were noble all the same, and you reminded me of home, the home lost so long ago that when I first saw you, I didn't even remember that you had visited it." Jethro shakes his head. "Time has passed us both, time lord."
"How do you know that?" The Doctor feels his muscles tense, feels that old ache of being the only one of his kind, the kind that sometimes fades just a little when he passes as a human, but that spikes up again ever sharper each time.
"You told me yourself. In my past, the past of this universe. That past is almost forgotten now." He sighs, and mere man is gone, replaced with someone so old they scarce see the brilliance of the light, so old that they could look to the Doctor's eyes and understand.
"We've met?" The Doctor looks at him in pure fascination.
"Long, long ago. There were men of nobility then, and I scarce appreciated how valuable they were." The man turns away. "I know what you'll ask next, once the wonder fades. I released the Canes as soon as we got back to the Sun Palace. They don't remember me, and I believe they'll be the better for it. Having a son hardly improved that family's character."
"Good." The Doctor says. "But that's not really the thing I'm wondering most here." And that alone speaks for the horror of the day, that he cares more for his own curiosity than for the minds of two ordinary humans. "Who are you?"
"You, in disguise, once. Or you're me. You've been me a few times actually, and I don't think it much helped my reputation for madness." He chuckles. "But I've got to go now, back to my wait."
"No, no." The Doctor moves, gets between him and the door. "You can't leave a man like me with all those questions, I'll go mad trying to find you again."
"I know." Jethro reaches into his pocket. "Take this, for luck. And to keep your neck from the block."
"What?" He puts a small velvet package into the Doctor's hand. And the Doctor feels time shift around him as another subtle hand plays it, not warping the time stream but drawing it around himself like a sheath. And then all of time's wibbles and wobbles slide seamlessly back into the bed they've inhabited forever, unaffected by the brief shift. And Jethro is gone.
The Doctor unwraps the token, tossing away worn velvet of a deep blue (nothing made on any planet in this galaxy, something made on earth, old earth). It reveals a broach, like someone would use to pin a cloak. It is old and weather-beaten, but the scarlet of the background is still bright, and the dragon emblazoned upon it is still purest gold.
"No." Breathes the Doctor. "Not possible."
He bolts for the doors, for where the convey to a ship that will go into hyperspace in a second is waiting, and for that second he sees Jethro on the shuttle. Jethro looks back at him, and the moment before he is transported away lasts a thousand heartbeats because his eyes go from aquamarine to a gold as brilliant as that on the crest of Camelot.
"No way." The Doctor says again, but the wizard is gone.
A/N: Review? Come on, surely I'm not the only one who totally thought of this (and sort of wants to make this the prologue to a legit Merlin/Doctor Who crossover where 10 goes and meets Merlin…)