lost_spook: (s&s - silver)
[personal profile] lost_spook
For [personal profile] eve11 in the Fic Commentary Meme, this segment of Prospero's Daughter, a fic for Big Finish's Unbound series of AU Doctors (published to celebrate DW's 40th anniversary in 2003). This one was for Full Fathom Five, with the AU in that audio being essentially, what if the Doctor went dark? (With the Doctor in question being played by David Collings, so clearly it was a strange and explicable thing that I found myself listening to it, obv.).

I also have a bit of an odd relationship with the fic, because it was the first thing I wrote properly after relapsing with the ME in Jan 2011, and it left me with no mental concentration for a month afterwards, which was pretty terrifying. I thought I'd never write again, and even if it was probably only a month or two later I was writing a tiny tiny Sapphire & Steel ficlet, it felt like a lot longer, and it still took me another year before I could manage that many words again, and I panicked about whether or not it was any good afterwards. It became a Fic of Doom.*

Anyway, in short I both loved and hated the audio and desperately felt the need to write fic. I felt that, accidentally, nearly a decade earlier, BF had come up with something that was effectively a seriously twisted up version of the Eleven & Amy relationship (in some ways) - it was a bit fairy tale, but the really dark sort; the audio also makes more sense post New Who in that it's hard not to imagine Collings!Doc as being an alternate Ten or Eleven who really didn't take the Time War well.

Also while I have issues with some aspects of the audio, it is interesting. A lot of things with the Doctor being dark come across as being OOC, because there are limits as to how far you can go and remain Doctor-ish. The thing David Collings really brings to it is an ability to remain Doctor-ish while being dark; this embittered verison of the Doctor who uses all the same sorts of tricks, but has become essentially amoral; he's crossed a line. (I love David Collings; I have no idea where I'd place him as a TV actor, I just like him heaps, but as an audio actor he's very good - clever, effective, and expressive, and he's done loads of BBC Radio stuff, so he's also got a lot of audio experience, which shows in his BF entries, but, anyway, that's not the point here.)

My fic was backstory, a series of vignettes of Ruth growing up with the Doctor around because I desperately wanted more of that. The requested section is one of those pieces:

Finishing a spot of business that was no concern of a young girl like Ruth, he found he couldn’t see her where he had left her – but he could hear the taunting voice from round the corner; its owner hidden in a small alley between the shops. It wasn’t familiar, but in another sense it was: the eternal voice of the tyrant and the bully, ever the same from world to world. Ruth’s family had changed their name, but people found out, and whenever they did, there was trouble and hate.

The Doctor turned the corner sharply, in time to catch two boys standing over Ruth, huddled back against the wall, tearful but glaring fiercely. One of them darted away at the sight of him, but the other only shifted his ground and looked back at him with a gaze that said: so what? You can’t touch me.

“Ruth,” the Doctor said, moving past the boy as if he didn’t exist. He helped her up, noting that her hair was half out of her ponytail and she had gained scratches and marks that she hadn’t had when he’d left her. “Your mother is in the corner shop – I suggest you go and join her.”

Ruth took a shaky breath, also clearly trying not to put weight on one leg. “But, Doctor -”

“Now, Ruth.”

The Doctor paused for a moment, letting her leave before rounding on the teenaged boy with a swiftness that startled the aggressive confidence out of him. He pinned him up against the wall, much as this childish would-be tyrant had done to Ruth, and then drew back, pulling a paper bag from his pocket. “Want a jelly baby?”

“Wha-?” the boy gasped, and then tried to pull away. “No. Leave me alone. You’ve got no right – let me go!”

“I have every right,” snarled the Doctor, in his ear. “And you will have a jelly baby, because that’s what your sort do, isn’t it?” He pressed the sweet into his hand, the boy taking it in a daze. He resumed his more usual tones: “You take the soft, and the innocent, the weak, and the ones that are green-coloured and different and you bite their heads off, and swallow them whole. Go on. Show me. This is something you’ll want to remember.”

He lifted his hand and then muttered something that the Doctor only just managed to catch.

“They’re not poisoned,” said the Doctor, with a twitch of amusement. “Of course not. Why should they be? It’s a jelly baby, that’s all. Just a defenceless creature you’re going to stand here and eat.”

The boy pressed further back against the bricks of the wall and did as he was told.

“And the next,” said the Doctor, looming over him. “All of them, one by one, until you’ve got that lesson into your brain. I trust you have a brain, despite all appearances to the contrary?”

The bully might have tried to say something about him being crazy, but he couldn’t quite get the words out properly, in between jelly babies.

When he was done, the boy looked up, definitely queasy by now, in the unspoken hope that the madman was going to release him. The Doctor did, and then reached in his other pocket for a second bag of sweets. The boy blanched at the sight; his face having turned noticeably green around the edges.

“There,” the Doctor said, pushing the bag into the bully’s hand. “And do understand how lucky you are. I’ve decided you’re young; you might yet change. Let me see you preying on the weak again and you will regret it. Consider the sweets a warning – and don’t forget. Don’t ever forget, or I won’t be responsible for what happens next time we meet.”

The boy tore down the road, too terrified to worry about hiding the tears.

The Doctor watched him go, and then wondered if he had been growing inexplicably lenient in his old age.

It's quite funny that [personal profile] eve11 pulled this out, because I was so unsure at the time whether or not it was going too far or just being too silly, but apparently not, according to other people, which is a relief. Evil jelly baby usage is fine! (Maybe.)

It's probably the most obvious example of taking a typical DW trait and twisting it a bit, which runs through the fic. The Doctor is still handing out jelly babies; he's still in favour of justice and fairness, but he's that bit more ruthless about how far he'll go, or what he'll sacrifice along the way and I did really enjoy playing with that here.

Anyway, I had all the feelings about Full Fathom Five; all the feelings pretty much always = fic. (I think the plot is kind of rubbish and I hate the ending, but I also really really like/am fascinated by lots of the rest of it, and Ruth and the Doctor, and I want them as they are, and also what the good version of them would be like, which would obv. be Battlefield-future-Merlin-Doctor**, and whyyyy didn't BF do that, since they had snagged David Collings, and even if they couldn't do it, then why isn't there AU fic where that's what happens instead? etc. etc. etc. *coughs*)

tl;dr: I am rubbish about talking about my thoughts on things. It's lucky I can write fic at least, because then people seem to get what I'm on about.

* Yes, there are others.

** The future Doctor in Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Battlefield is red-haired, which is probably what RTD was riffing on re. the Doctor and being ginger (because he loves Battlefield an amazing amount). And since Ben Aaronovitch may well have been referring to David Collings, then something of a fan favourite for the Doctor, it's therefore perfectly legit to assume that every time the Doctor complains about not being ginger that he's in fact complaining that he never got to be David Collings.
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