Doctor Who: Life with Theta

That Which Lies in Empty Graves

The Doctor’s face had slipped into a manic grin, for he had spotted the remains of the birthday cake across the way, lying disabused and lonely on the buffet table. He edged around the wall, aiming for the shadows of the UNIT command center. Weaving past some chairs and a few on-looking partygoers, he was only inches from the table, now...just a little closer... a little closer... to him that cake was so much more than a cake... that cake was the kid in Terms of Endearment. Nice cake, nice kid. Child actor, probably...

“Oi!” he cried aloud, rubbing his two-month stomach as his thoughts suddenly leapt from cake and children to Lord of the Flies and cannibalism.

“Ah, Aloysius!” the Time Lord called out in an attempt to change the subject, seeing the agent conversing with Major Kusanagi across the room.

They were both holding plates full of cake. For a moment he stopped in wonder, feeling a tremendous awe at how the Major had managed to distract the albino long enough to allow a hungry, pregnant Gallifreyan male a second go at said cake. They certainly seemed occupied, what with the in-depth conversation they were having about technologies futures and the current underground political maneuverings of the Japanese Parliament. Thank the stars for good cake. He reached for the platter, stretching out his long, slim fingers toward the half-eaten tower of confectionary bliss. With silver sugar-flowers spilling over the edges and white frosting in streams about the rims, the triple chocolate cake was surely Jack’s way of tormenting him. He wasn’t to have any caffeine, which meant decaffeinated tea and no coffee -really, who cares for coffee when there’s tea- and worst of all, no chocolate. But it was right in front of him! He knew enough about his physiology to know that just a little nip wouldn’t hurt! Besides, chocolate was practically medicine on some planets. And Theta Sigma was a good boy, an exceptionally bright boy who knew when to take his medication. Just one more inch, and then he’d have his-

“Theta! Step away from that cake or I’ll have Agent Pendergast sedate you for the rest of the party! Now!”

-way. So much for joy in living. With a sigh, the Time Lord looked around at everyone who’d heard the Captain rebuke him, which was most of the group of partygoers, and then casually slipped away from the table, arms at his sides as he whistled his way off into a small hallway, pretending indifference. He passed by a window -they were holding the party on the upper floor, after all- and strode over to take a peek from the shining glass, as there was something interesting happening outside. In the sky, really... there were news vans and everything a mile or so away. He could see them, being a Time Lord. He turned, feeling a shadow in the hall, and soon his lover’s strong fingers laced on his shoulder and back, rubbing at twinges.

“Aren’t you supposed to be resting? I thought you said you were going to take a kip.”

Theta eased back into the man’s arms. “Well... I was sleeping to begin with, Jack. But something came up,” he paused, rubbing his forehead with a thin, elegant thumb, “... that signal... it’s drawing nearer as we speak.”

Jack Harness’ fingers dug into the alien’s flesh, slowly, gently, with all the force of an angry mate. But he wasn’t angry at Theta, oh no. He wanted to do something for the Time Lord’s headaches, but he couldn’t. That was the way of things. Neither of them could do anything for the other.

“It was another migraine that woke you, wasn’t it?”

The alien nodded, then immediately regretted the movement as a jolt of pain came flashing through his brain, casting shades about his skull like a feral blaze loosed on dry brush.

“Oh, bollocks. That... wasn’t... very nice.”

He was clutching his head, turning paler with every breath.

Jack steadied the Time Lord between himself and the sill for a moment, looking forward, just forward. He didn’t dare look anywhere else.

Step after cautious, agonizing step, they both made it back to the party room with hollow movements that rang like bombs in the alien’s ears.

“I’ve... got a fever, Jack. There’s a... sub-wave... embedded in the signal. Think... think I’m allergic!”

He was trying for humor, but all he could manage was breathlessness. If he used his respiratory bypass for more than a minute, it could damage his unborn babies’ brains; cause their organs to stall like old cars. That was a non-option. So he withstood it, eyes fixed ahead and staring like a model in a renaissance portrait.

They reached the double doors. Eyes were shifting towards them, most notably a pair of silver baby blues and crimson photocells. The agent and the Major were quick to rush to their side, quick to take him from Jack’s struggling grasp. Motoko Kusanagi, with a cyborg’s strength and skill and hard-won dexterity, lifted the alien with ease, almost as though he were a toy. Jack let go an audible breath as the albino checked Theta over for any other problems. But the party was dead. The Doctor was ill, and there would be no more hiding it.


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