Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 1,001
Author's Summary: "The ones that ran away? I never stopped."
Characters/Pairings: The Doctor (Academy era), the Master (Academy era)
Recced because: I find that I really like Gallifrey-set, Doctor-origin-story sort of stuff, up to and including Academy fic. I mean, enough to write it myself and enough to jump into it with both feet if I find it on the Teaspoon or anywhere else. This is another story that I only ran across very recently, although it's a few years old, and it hooked me in instantly.
I know this sort of fic isn't to everybody's taste. I respect the argument that there are some mysteries about the Doctor's past that ought to remain just that - mysteries. That's an important part of what he is as a character and of the whole feel of the show, going right back to that junkyard in 1963. I personally would probably be horrified if the actual show ever decided to tell the definitive version of the Doctor's origins or to reveal anything more than the odd hint or throwaway reminiscence. And not just because it would ruin the air of mystery but because whatever they did, they'd do it "wrong"!
And this is why I think this is a good area for fanfic to explore. Every fic writer is free to explore and play with the material and put their own spin on it, and the rest of us can either take it or leave it depending on our inclinations without anybody expecting us to accept it as "canon". And in the case of Gallifrey and its Academy and the Doctor's early years, we simultaneously know so much and so little. There's so much lore, built up over years of television stories, but so much of it contradicts earlier stories and so many of the key questions remain unanswered that it's ripe for this sort of fictional interpretation and exploration. And this fic is a fine example of the genre. Every fic author worth their salt puts their own unique spin on this material and builds on what we know of Gallifrey in different ways and Jesht is no exception in that regard. We have mention of the Doctor's and Master's families, of the Untempered Schism - of Looms! - and also some intriguing invented Gallifreyan history and politics and all according to the author's own individual vision of how all this should fit together.
And it also addresses something that I think most fan fictioneers who have thought about this stuff have considered, if not actually written; with their long, complex and ever-developing relationship over what we imagine must be centuries, just how did the Doctor and Master first meet? I like the version presented here, for its understatement and for the ring of schoolyard truth it has about it. And the ending of the fic then plays back into the theme of the Doctor-Master relationship as we learn that the Doctor, as we perhaps have suspected for a while now, had the potential to end up more like his "friend" in the end than he would probably like to think in later life. There but for the grace of...etc.
And a question to consider, as you're reading this fic: which Doctor do you hear narrating this story as he looks back on his youth? After a couple of read-throughs, I think I hear Ten now (which would be appropriate considering the bit of onscreen lore the fic is drawing from); what about you? Anyway, go and read it and leave a few words of appreciation; maybe the author will read them and be inspired to take up the quill again.
But he was right. It was a beginning. That was when I met Koschei. Name me a bigger beginning than that. I actually remember our first conversation. He doesn’t - barely. This is a pity because the next time we met, we fought. Still…