Second Life

They're in their right minds again, and Clara wants to do it again. Malcolm wants to as well, but he wants things he's afraid to admit.


Second Shot

Malcolm stumbled into the central chamber on Clara’s heels. The alien that was upsetting the Doctor was there, all right. And it was about as disturbing a sight as he’d ever seen, a huge green blobby mass with tentacles and some odd organ that pulsed. It wasn’t evil, the Doctor said, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it was doing something that was upsetting the Doctor about as much as anything ever did. The man staggered in after them with his hands clutched over his temples.

Malcolm’s own head felt fucking strange, but he had no time to fuck around worrying about it. He had to get this thing off-planet and back to its proper home. Now.

Clara pointed to the controls of the teleporter. Malcolm nodded and ran for them. Clara then did the fast-talking thing to persuade the nearby humans to clear the area; she was good at persuading other people she was in charge. He was good at scaring them. He was utter shite at working out how to use a teleporter marked in a language that looked like Thai but probably wasn’t. Fuck fuck fuck-- a button lit up blue at last and he slammed his fist on it. The alien vanished. Malcolm slumped over the controls and swore quietly to himself.

The Doctor stood and then he went to the corner of the room and heaved up his guts. Malcolm got over there fast, because Clara was still busy fast-talking at the human whose power bid they’d just thwarted. He held the old Coot up while he heaved and got a hankie ready for his mouth.

“I need to get out of here. TARDIS. I need–”

“Need what?”

“I don’t have-- I don’t have control. It’s too much.” He squeezed his eyes shut and that was pain if Malcolm had ever seen it. He felt a moment of panic, then he shook himself. He had to take charge. Get the cunt out of there, back to the TARDIS, right. Pick him up, sling the man over his shoulder gracelessly in a fireman’s carry, get out, back down the corridor, shouting back to Clara as he went.

TARDIS door slammed open for him as he approached, thank fuck. Into the TARDIS console room. He felt the fucker’s weight now. Couldn’t dump him here, though. He staggered around to the inner door.

“Darling girl, safe place for the Doctor, yeah?” The old girl responded to him as she always did. She liked him, fuck knew why, always did nice things for him. Malcolm kissed the doorway as he passed through it in thanks. First door in the corridor would be what he needed. Through and into the study. The study? He’d expected the coot’s personal bedroom or med bay, not this. Okay, whatever. Fuck it, this is what the old girl thought was best.

Malcolm stepped in, swayed, let Doctor slide to the study floor.

“I’m fine,” the Doctor said, from the floor, “no need to worry.”

“Fuck off,” Malcolm said, kindly.

He looked around. The study. This was Malcolm’s favorite place, really. Had a door that opened onto the library and a collection of leather armchairs. A humidor with Cuban cigars, a spirit case with some of the best whiskey he’d ever tasted, and a pair of slippers always set out before a fireplace. Heaven in a little blue police box.

He hauled the Coot off the floor and deposited him into the nearest armchair. The Doctor leaned elbows on knees and ran his hands through his hair until it stood on end. Malcolm knelt before him, touched a hand to a knee. The Doctor’s face was white.

While Malcolm knelt, waiting, the TARDIS twitched and shifted. Traveling now; even Malcolm had learned how to feel that change.

“She’s got us out,” Malcolm said. No answer, but the Coot’s face was a bit less pasty than it had been. He looked like a man who’d had a bad shock and was recovering. Well, Malcolm knew a cure for that. He got up and open the spirit case; poured the man a finger of whiskey.

“Drink it,” he said, and the Doctor complied. He made a face. Malcolm poured him another. The Doctor sipped this one more slowly.

“Okay now?”

“Better, thanks.”

“What the fuck happened? That Riffle thing did something. The alien.”

The Doctor sighed. He drank a little more, ran a hand through his hair again. “The Rfflalodisix boosted my telepathic abilities while I was near it. I completely lost control. I was reading everyone around me. Overwhelming. So many people.”

Malcolm fixed on one thing. “You’re a telepath?”

“A poor one. Mostly. I can do some parlor tricks when I’m in very close contact with someone. Nothing much more. But this-- it ripped my mind open. Turned it up to eleven.”

Malcolm was long past arguing about the existence of things like this. He traveled in time every single fucking day of his life in a box that was bigger on the inside; nothing he’d believed about the world in his first life was true any more. The Doctor said he could read minds, the Doctor could read minds. That included Malcolm’s mind.

Oh sodding fucking cunting hell.

“You still doing it?”

“Fading, but, ah, yes.”


“Yes. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I wouldn’t-- I don’t. Normally. Ever.”

Malcolm rubbed his face. The Doctor, no matter what he might say about him, was in fact a decent bloke. Alien. Whatever. He had a code of ethics and a political sensibility Malcolm rather admired. And now he knew that Malcolm admired it because he’d just cunting thought it and there it went again.

“Didn’t need to. Knew it already.”

“Fuck me.”

A wan smile. “The time we overthrew the dictatorship on Hibikisharu. Was obvious. Why I put up with you. Beyond the fact that Clara likes you for reasons I can’t grasp.”

“That’s the only reason I put up with you too, you knitted ski mask of a twat.” There was no heat in it, though, and Malcolm knew the Doctor knew that. He shook his head. He had no idea how to navigate this mess.

The Doctor said, “Leave me here for a bit while I get control of it. Tell Clara I’m okay.”

“Yeah, no fucking problem.” Malcolm headed for the door.

“Before you go. There’s something you should know.”

Malcolm stopped and turned. The Doctor looked uneasy now, like he was a little afraid of something. “What?”

“She wants it.”

"Wants what?

“Us. Again. Like before. Only more.” The Doctor glowered and shrugged. “Top of her mind even in a crisis. Humans!”

Oh. Malcolm’s heart leapt oddly. He’d fucked Clara since that incident, and it had been good, but he’d wondered. Would she want it again? Both of them? She hadn’t said. She wanted it again. Oh. He was-- well, he had feelings about it, apparently.

“You want it too,” the Doctor said. He was staring at his hands now.

“Said so when we did it. Clara fucking loved it. I’ll do her with you again, any time.”

“That’s not what you want.” The Doctor’s face twisted into a smile. Mind reading. Oh, fuck.

Malcolm hid his face in his hand, not that it did any fucking good. “Fuck. Fucking hell.”


He sounded sorry, too, and Malcolm couldn’t bring himself to hate him. Couldn’t bring himself to stand around being mind-read any more either. He took himself out of the study as quietly as he could, trying not to think, and went to break the news to Clara. Several kinds of news.

They didn’t do anything about it right away. The Doctor was too raw, too opened up. The man was a bundle of nerves at the best of times, never mind when he’d just had the seething, boiling emotions of about twenty humans poured down his throat. They let it cool down to a simmer in his mind, until he was about a three out of eleven, where he’d been only a one before. It was a permanent change, apparently, and the Doctor was uneasy about it. Or so Clara said. He wasn’t talking to Malcolm about it. He was, in fact, avoiding Malcolm.

Clara took him off privately and had a long talk with him, somewhere on a lovely bit of planet, and Malcolm tried not to feel left out or jealous or anything like that. He treasured the time Clara devoted to him alone, after all, those days when the Doctor had his own unfathomable agenda to pursue and left them to fend for themselves. Those were good times. He could spare the Doctor a few hours of the same treatment. It was no bother. He could occupy himself on the TARDIS reading in that spectacularly comfortable study, all curled up and comfortable in stocking feet in front of a roaring fire. It was a good life, this second life of his, on the TARDIS saving people and things that were people even though they didn’t look human. The two people who were with him had more brains than he did, which is not something he’d thought even once during his career in politics. It was more pleasant than he’d ever imagined.

So let Clara spend time with her other boyfriend, the one who looked like his Da, and try not to fret or worry about what it meant about Clara’s psyche. She had a type. He could fucking ignore the voices in his head warning him off, telling him that Clara liked the old man better than she liked him. Who wouldn’t like a super-intelligent alien with a time machine better than a washed-up political hack?

They came back eventually, and Clara found him in the study, and curled up with him on his lap with her head on his shoulder. Malcolm fussed with her hair and felt a little better. She was a fucking treasure. She was his salvation. His second life was all thanks to her decision that he was worth more than being discarded on a political trash heap.

“The old cunt okay?” he said.

“Yeah, he’s adjusting. Less freaked out than he was about all the pudding-brained hormonal stews. You know how he gets.”

“Always afraid he means us when he says that.”

“Apparently we’re the only two exceptions in the entire universe.”

Malcolm snorted gently. “So is he still mind-reading?”

“Yeah. It actually good, I think. Means he believes it when I say I’m happy. When I say we like him. Means he believes it when I tell him I want to take both of you to bed again.”

Malcolm said nothing, but he squeezed Clara’s arse. It was what she expected him to do, and fuck, it felt good in his hand. He’d had a good time when that gas bomb had gone off. He’d have a good time again, in his right mind, sober.

“Anyway, he says he’s ready. Any time the two of us are in the mood.”

Malcolm’s nerves tweaked him. Stomach felt funny. He told himself it could be exactly like last time. He didn’t have to do anything he hadn’t done before. Fuck Clara at the same time the old Coot was fucking her; give her a good time. That would be fun. He said, “Yeah, okay. Any time you want.”

“Tonight, maybe? Like, in a couple of hours. Let’s go somewhere nice, have some dinner, drink some wine, then come back to the TARDIS. I know a planet.”

No gas bomb to help things along this time, so yeah, a bottle of wine. Malcolm had allowed himself to drink a little bit these days, cautiously, with Clara there to stop him if he let himself have a problem again. But he didn’t have the urge to obliterate himself any more, in this his second life, his happier life out somewhere in the stars. He could have a glass of wine with his two mates, his two friends, and laugh about that time the Doctor had narrowly avoided marrying a sentient vine, and the time he’d failed to avoid marrying Queen Elizabeth the First, and think about how he and the Coot and his fucking amazing girlfriend were going to go to bed together later.

He liked the Coot. Did he like him in a deeper way? The Coot thought so. Malcolm had never thought of himself as being into men. The Coot didn’t seem the sort to get into men either. He was telling tales about women, not men. Malcolm didn’t fash himself about it, though, because didn’t seem like the Coot truly cared. A bottle of wine shared among the three of them, a delicious dinner, the air sweet with the scent of flowers. He ate, he drank his wine, and declined a second glass. What planet was this? Malcolm had forgotten already. He was too wound up what was to come. Sex. A night in bed with his friends. The two people he lived with.

Back into the TARDIS with a giggling Clara holding his hand and the Doctor’s both. Inside, door shut, locked, alone, safe. Down the corridor and there was that room again, the room Malcolm had dubbed the orgy room. What the fuck else could it be? Huge bed, red satin sheets, all the sex toys he could imagine and a lot that frankly baffled him in drawers by the bed. An orgy room. Sly old devil, this Doctor. Or maybe not this one, but previous ones. Past regenerations, Clara had said, his earlier faces had been different personalities. This one was standoffish and touchy and hard to get close to; earlier faces had been more open.

The bedroom. Kissing Clara, taking turns. Undressing her. Letting her undress them. Laughing about how many layers the Coot was wearing. Looking at him naked, at her naked. Concentrate on Clara, Malcolm told himself. Concentrate on giving her a good time. On how fucking amazing she looked out of her clothes, toned body, muscular legs, breasts that were a good handful. Waxed cunt, a pleasure to lick. Not that it was his pleasure just then, because the Doctor wanted his turn between her thighs, working her up. That gave Malcolm his own signal pleasure of putting his tongue in her mouth and his fingers on her nipples. She loved that. Pinch a nipple and Clara was guaranteed to moan and arch her back. Pinch both at once and she’d make the loveliest sounds. She made them now, all helpless, writhing beneath him, while the Doctor stuck his fingers in her and ate her out. Face wet with her, eyes closed, what a sight. Malcolm had never seen a man go down on a woman before, never realized it could be so hot.

He thought about straddling Clara’s face and thrusting into her mouth. She liked that sometimes, liked being pinned and helpless, just a tiny bit, every now and then. Clara’s big secret. But somehow it didn’t feel right tonight. Tonight was about worshipping her, about making her moan and shiver. No pleasure for him or for the Doctor just yet. Ladies first. Clara first. All the pleasure to Clara that she deserved, and she deserved all the pleasure two men could give her and more.

Condom on the Doctor, this time, and bare for Malcolm. Switched around, the Doctor behind, Malcolm in front. He wasn’t going to complain. He got to kiss Clara this time, and he loved that. Hands on her hips, tongue in her mouth. His cock in her cunt, and oh god, the feeling of the Doctor’s cock in her arse, moving inside her. Listening to her moan, because this was what she liked better than anything else.

What could he say about her that he hadn’t already said to her? She was beyond words. So clever, so kind, so angry, so fierce, so intense, so brave, so loving. So much of everything in one woman. He didn’t deserve her. Didn’t deserve her compassion, her affection. God, he loved her. Don’t tell her.

His fingers on the Doctor’s fingers, over Clara’s clit. He held the bastard’s gaze and they nodded to each other. Clara was close, and they were going to bring her to the edge and hold her there and then give her the best orgasm she’d ever had, and was the old fuck in his head talking to him? Malcolm laughed in sheer delight and how utterly fucking bizarre his life had become. Yes, you bastard, he thought, I’m with you. She gets everything she wants. Clara, yes, Clara.

The Coot didn’t believe he deserved her either. United in that, as in so many other things to do with Clara. United in the desire to make her come, in the joy of hearing her breath come short, in the joy of hearing her cry out, of feeling her shudder around them. In tenderness at laying her back down on the bed between them, wiping her sweaty hair from her face.

Yeah. He had a lot in common with the man from Gallifrey, however implausibly. They both loved this woman. They’d both do anything. Holding her now, warm between them, kissing her by turns. Clara Oswald, so pretty, so blindingly quick. The woman he’d followed to the stars.

He still hadn’t come. It was okay. Sometimes it took a while for him, had even when he’d been a randy teen. Stamina, he’d called it, the ability to please a woman over and over before he popped off. He boasted about it, but there were things in his head sometimes, distractions. A voice telling him he didn’t deserve it. Voice was silent these days, mostly, but the habit remained. Took him a while to come.

Malcolm lay back on the giant bed and watched Clara canoodle with the Doctor. The fucker hadn’t come either, judging by that erection. Was Clara going to bring him off? Suck him off? That would be something to watch. Maybe Malcolm could wank over here on his side of the bed while they did that. Or just watch. He didn’t need to come at all, truth be told. He liked going frustrated, sometimes. Or wanking on his own.

No chance. Here was Clara, hand on his cock, fingers in his hair, tugging him back into the fray. Demanding something from him.

“I want to watch you. Both of you. If it’s okay. If you want to.”

Malcolm flushed because yeah, he could deny that he wanted to, but the Doctor knew the truth and he’d be lying to Clara about something that mattered and lying was not a thing he did in his second life, his post-rescue life. He didn’t lie to her. He wouldn’t. He loved her too much. He’d do whatever she wanted.

If you’d asked him what he wanted, if you’d made him confess his longing for this, he’d had said he’d want to fuck Clara at the same time as the Doctor, do what they’d done last time, and leave it at that. He would never have said he wanted this. The old man-- the ageless alien, who happened to have gray hair now-- the unfathomable being who let them live with him on his unfathomable space ship-- this man was kissing him almost tenderly. Hands in his hair, stroking it, touching his face, kissing his forehead, the end of his nose, his lips. Telling him-- in words, in thoughts, Malcolm had no idea-- telling him he was wanted, was welcome, was family. The three of them, together, bound by affection, by a deep loyalty. No idea how it came to be. No idea how he could ever deserve such a thing.

“I always wondered the same thing,” the Doctor said.

“What happened to change your mind?”

“I met Clara Oswald.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Too fucking right.”

“You’re a pair of idiots, you know that?” Clara said.

“Your idiots,” said the Doctor, and Malcolm couldn’t help but agree. Her idiots.

“Malc,” she said. “Hey.”

Malcolm untangled himself from the Doctor and looked up at Clara, his lovely Clara. At those thick eyebrows over those beautiful eyes, that mischievous look on her face. She held up a condom.

“For you,” she said. Malcolm rolled onto his back, lay there passively while she opened it, rolled it onto him. Oh, yeah, Clara’s hands on him, so sweet. She wanted him to fuck the Doctor. The Doctor wanted to be fucked. Not just by anybody. By him. God, somebody wanted him. They both wanted him. How? How had this ever happened to him?

Malcolm knelt up, wiped sweat off his face with his arm. Sweat, yeah. Not tears, no fucking way. He was not a sentimental fool.

The Doctor was on his back, knees drawn up. Yeah, okay, that was the way she wanted it, that was what she wanted to see, what she wanted her men doing. He was going to do this. He could do this. He could kneel between the Doctor’s thighs, take himself in hand, guide himself into an arsehole, a man’s arsehole, below a heavy ballsack and a hard prick. He could admit it felt good. He could moan as he pushed in, feel a thrill at the sound of the other cunt moaning too. Oh, it was good. Tight. Like Clara’s arse had been. Different to a cunt. Differently good. Friction, yeah, the thrill of watching his cock slide in and out of somebody, the pleasure of hearing his partner’s pleasure. Yeah. He could fuck another man in the arse. He could admit he liked it.

He could touch another man’s cock, yes, he could, he could wrap his hand around Time Lord prick and stroke, eyes locked with the old bastard’s, the touch of his mind still there. And then Clara’s hand was on his, helping, and she was kissing the Doctor. A pretty sight, like looking into a mirror of time and watching himself kiss Clara two decades from now, his gray-haired self, or something like, and then the Doctor was going tense, and his head was back and all the cords on his throat tight, and there it was, the Doctor was coming, coming in Malcolm’s hand, all over his fingers, and fucked if he gave a damn at all, because it was lovely to watch and satisfying to feel and fuck, he felt warm all over.

More fucking touch-telepathy. That was the Doctor in his head. The old Coot. Not that Malcolm could call him that any more. Not when they were shagging. This counted as shagging. He was up the man’s arse, balls-deep in him, and it was not a thing he could deny any longer. It felt good. He had another man’s come all over his fingers and his girlfriend was biting his neck and fuck, his orgasm was coming at last, building inside him, that moment when he knew it was fucking there, no holding off, and yeah, oh yeah, driving his hips forward, coming, coming inside the Doctor, inside another man, fuck, he was doing it, he’d done it, he’d come.

Time for cuddles, now, the quiet moments afterward, with Clara held between them. Except that the two of them were conspiring against him. He was sandwiched between the two of them, and his head was on the Coot’s shoulder. Clara was snugged up behind him, a hand on his hollow chest. Who knew she liked knobby-kneed scrawny Scots gits? Because she did. She had two of them. And he had one of his own.

Second life? Not sure he’d ever lived before this life, not in any way that mattered.

Banged up

Malcolm was an idiot. That was the current topic of conversation.

The Doctor and Clara were, apparently, united on this topic. They had a lot to say about it. The topic in question was not one Malcolm was interested in, just then, but he was not at liberty to tell them to fuck the fuck off. He was, in fact, suspended weightless in a tube and covered in blue gel over about fifty percent of his body. The fifty percent, as it happens, that had come in contact with the pollen of the firestarter lily.

The fact that the group of milling schoolchildren had not come in contact with this pollen was not, it seemed, relevant to the current topic of discussion. Malcolm felt this was unfair. Idiocy had to be weighed against heroism in order for a fair assessment. Yes, he’d been burned. No, the kids hadn’t. Wasn’t this the point?

He floated weightless in the medical tube and watched the pretty blue lights zoom around him. Blue lights, blue goo. Blue. Deep blue day. Play fucking Brian Eno at him while he rotated weightless in space. Weightlessness was a bit of all right, now that he thought about it. Probably also the painkillers in the blue gel had something to do with his newfound joy in floating, but he’d liked it when they’d gone asteroid-surfing a couple of weeks ago so it couldn’t been all the drug’s doing. Floating under stars. He sang quietly to himself in the tube while the gel fizzed against his skin and did various things the Doctor hadn’t wanted to explain. Exfoliation, probably. Wrinkle removal. He didn’t have any on his penis, because his penis had been protected by his trousers and the snug boxer-briefs Clara preferred, but he wondered what it would feel like if he did have goo there. Probably good.

Everything felt good. Nothing was on fire any more.

Good thing he’d wrapped his t-shirt around his head or he’d have blue goo in his ears or somewhere equally embarrassing.

The gravity started coming back. Malcolm drifted down the bottom of the tube. He leaned against the glass wall. He could stand upright, more or less, but standing up was a bore. He’d much rather have been horizontal.

The tube slid open and the Doctor appeared with a giant white towel in his hands. He wrapped it around Malcolm, getting blue goo everywhere. Clara was, to his surprise, not present, and the Doctor had no more further words on the topic of Malcolm’s idiocy. Into the shower they went, both of them at once. Malcolm smiled happily. Good time to bring up some important topics that had been on his mind, topics that were not about his idiocy or his heroism. Or maybe he’d just drop the soap. That was supposed to work, right? His mind grappled with his idea then it skittered away from him. Damn, the goo was powerful stuff.

He opened his mouth. This was going to be a bad idea, but he couldn’t stop himself. “Hey. You. Yeah, you old coot. Got a proposition for you.”

“Why am I suddenly afraid?”

“It’s that kind of proposition!” Malcolm said, happily.

“That’s a relief,” the Doctor said. “Turn around. Need to rinse your back.”

Malcolm turned around. The Doctor rubbed the washcloth along his back. “Nice, very nice. Let’s do more of this.”


“Tired of fucking Clara while you fuck her too.”

“You seemed to enjoy it last night. Turn 'round.”

Malcolm turned. The Doctor scrubbed at his chest.

“Well, yeah, it’s fucking fantastic, and she fucking loves it. I’m not saying I don’t like it, because I do, but I want to be Lucky Pierre for once. Right up Clara’s twat while you’re up me arse.”

The eyebrows cocked at him. The Doctor was never happy with Malcolm’s language, at least on the outside, which was why Malcolm enjoyed being particularly filthy-mouthed around him. Also it made Clara laugh.

“All right.”


“All right, you foul-mouthed pudding brain. When you’re recovered from this we’ll do it.”

“But I want it now.”

“Your inhibitions are gone.”

“That’s the point, you fucking pair of fucking attack fucking eyebrows.” The Doctor just shook his head. Malcolm dissolved into giggles. “Okay, yeah, fine, fuck you, that wasn’t my best work. I feel like I’m drunk. Used to drink a lot, you know.”

“You’re sober now.”

“Yeah. Except not this precise moment. Don’t do this to me again.”

“I wouldn’t have done this time if I’d realized the ointment would have this effect on humans.”

“You’ve got a drunk Malcolm on your hands. In your hands. Wish I were in your hands.”

“You’re far too drunk for me to do such a thing.”

Except, of course, that Malcolm was in his hands, just not the parts of Malcolm he wanted to be in the Doctor’s hands. He was only standing up because the coot had a hand under his elbow. It was, in his opinion, worse than it had been.

“Fucking noble ethical coot, you are. Look at you, standing there.” A thought struck him. “You’re skinnier than me. Also you have less body hair. Otherwise we might be brothers.”

“That’s the single most disturbing thing you’ve ever said,” the Doctor said. “And you’re as disturbing as anybody I’ve ever traveled with.”

“What, we’re not?”

“I am a Gallifreyan. Half-human. The exact shape of my face is a joke the universe makes at my expense every time I regenerate. Has nothing to do with genetics.”

“Never been good-looking until now?”

“Still not good-looking. Or ginger. Or a woman.”

“Glad you’re not a woman,” Malcolm said. “Clara would like it, mind, but I wouldn’t. Much prefer another Scotsman. Not that doing two women at once wouldn’t be an ego boost, but I don’t need that. Got plenty of ego already.”

“To say the least,” murmured the Doctor. “But why are you happy I’m a fellow Scotsman?”

“I"m fucking bisexual. Didn’t know it until you kissed me. Then it was as fucking obvious as your eyebrows. I wanna get fucked while Clara sticks her tongue down my throat. I’m a fucking jessie. Part-time jessie. Fucking hell, could never have said that back on earth. If the press finds out they’ll destroy me. Shit!”

Malcolm slid down to the floor of the shower. His legs wouldn’t work quite right. He held up an arm. His skin looked fine, maybe a little pink. No signs of burns on his arm. No hair on his arm, either, but small price to pay. He looked up at the Doctor, who was aiming his sonic at Malcolm without seeming to mind that it was getting wet. Where had he been keeping the thing, anyway? He was as naked as Malcolm was.

“When did this happen to me?” he said. “When did I become this?”

“Don’t know.” The Doctor frowned at his screwdriver and snapped it off.

“Think Clara will mind?”

“I think she already knows,” the Doctor said.

“Fucking sharp mind, our Clara. No pudding brain.”

“No pudding, no. Up you get, you lazy bones,” the Doctor said, and offered him a surprisingly strong hand. He pulled, and Malcolm came up to his feet. The Doctor put his arms around him and got him into motion, far more gently than Malcolm expected. Nothing about him was what Malcolm had expected. Nothing about this. Firestarter lilies and mortal peril and somebody else who slept with Clara and he didn’t even mind.



Malcolm was alone in the TARDIS. Well, not alone in the ship, but alone in his little corner of her. She was a big place on the inside, as he’d learned, and when its three residents wanted, they could vanish from each other for hours. Clara was off running in the park, the one with the resident cats. The Doctor was in the lower level of the console level fiddling with machinery.

Malcolm was supposed to be in the study reading. He was in the study, yes. It was his favorite place, with only the library as any competition at all. He spent a lot of time in the study, indulging urges that he hadn’t had a lot of time for when he’d been on Earth. Quiet urges: books and art and film and napping. Some days, however, he didn’t read or watch films. Sometimes he thought about what he’d left behind. Lulls were dangerous moments for him, because when he had lulls he brooded. The Doctor didn’t like lulls, so he arranged his life to be without them, but what was a pleasant interlude in chrono-stabilizer maintenance for him qualified as a lull for Malcolm. A lull in which he lay on the rug in front of the fireplace in the TARDIS study and considered exactly how much he’d fucked up his life.

His first life, that was. The life he’d had before this thing with the TARDIS happened.

He’d left before being arrested. Turning himself in. Assisting the police in their enquiries, as they oh-so-politely said in the press conferences. Being hung as the scapegoat for his employer’s crimes was more like. That weighed on him some days: not just the fact of what was waiting for him when and if he should ever return, but that it was fact at all. Nothing he’d done had mattered. Tom had abandoned him. His party had abandoned him. Thrown him out, after all he’d done. Jamie had long since broken with him, told him he was an amoral fuck and walked away. He’d fucked Nicola over; she’d laughed at the idea of him jailed for perjury. He’d deserved it. There was no guarantee Tom would remember him and use his influence. No guarantee that even Malcolm’s deep blackmail file would be any use.

Perjury. He hadn’t perjured himself. That was the real fucking kicker. He had told the truth, taken the fall. And nobody was going to remember it. His whole career, for naught. Jail and ruin and maybe some recovery later writing fucking tedious political analysis columns for the sodding Grauniad for shit pay.

He didn’t want to go back. Wasn’t in his control, though, as he understood it. He mattered to exactly no one back on Earth. Had he ever mattered to anyone? Would the Doctor dump him on the street again, right there in London, an instant after he’d followed Clara through the door into the police box, to face his fate?

Footsteps: somebody else was in the study with him. Clara, settling beside him on the carpet. Malcolm folded his arms behind his head, seeking to look casual. Her hair was damp and she smelled like soap. Done with her run, then. Malcolm would ordinarily have been glad to see her, but he hadn’t finished his sulk. Needed another hour at least, and maybe a glass or two of whatever it was the TARDIS had put into that cut crystal decanter.

Clara said, “What’s up?”

Malcolm attempted to smile at her. “Nothing much.”

“Doesn’t look like nothing.”

“Fucking lying here in front of the fire, is all.”

She laid a hand on his chest. “Looks like you’re brooding.”


“Usually. Any time you’re left to yourself like this, you get that look in your eyes.”

“What look?”

“The one you had when I met you.”

When she’d met him. When he’d ducked around a corner to dodge the press and caught her vandalizing a security camera. He’d been delighted by the very idea of it, and helped. And she’d laughed and taken him by the hand and drawn him around one more corner, down into the very darkest of corners. And beyond that door had been his salvation. He was living a second life, one in which he was useful. One in which he helped people. One in which he had not been discarded.

For however long it lasted.

“Whatever,” Malcolm said, because he had nothing else to say.

“Malcolm,” Clara said. “What’s up?”

Malcolm bared his teeth. “Bored. That’s all. When are we going somewhere? I need a planet to rescue.”

A voice behind them said: “I know about five hundred in need of it. At least.”

The Doctor, done with his repairs or his maintenance or his tinkering, whatever the hell he’d been up to. He was covered in grease, or something that looked like grease that he would probably deny was grease. He wiped at his face and succeeded merely in smearing it around. Malcolm laughed, and hiccuped, and then found himself turning away from the pair of them and curling up around himself because it just made him want to cry. Fuck, he was lost. The Doctor: the first man he’d ever let himself want. Clara: the woman he would want until he found himself on his deathbed. He wanted to be with them forever but they belonged to each other, not to him, and he’d be discarded again and–

Shit. Stop. Get control of himself. This wasn’t a weakness he ever allowed himself to show.

He found his voice. “Five hundred planets? Fucking too many. Let’s go fix one.”

“No planets,” Clara said. She was rubbing his shoulder. Little circles. Warm hand. It felt like everything Malcolm had never known before he’d followed her into the time machine. Fucking time machine, with a study with a fire in it and a teapot that never emptied and technology he couldn’t dream of understanding so it was magic.

“Sometimes,” the old coot said, “what needs attention is something smaller than a planet.”

“Can’t fucking imagine why we’d waste time on anything smaller.”

“We’re in a time machine, you berk.”

Malcolm wiped at his nose. “Now who’s using language?”

“You’re a corrupting influence on me.”

The Doctor sat himself down on the carpet in front of Malcolm. He clasped his knees. Black jeans today and a black t-shirt, which merely disguised the amount of grease he’d managed to get on himself. Lovely hands, he had, long fingers that could work magic. He was a right cunt, the Doctor, and Malcolm was crazy about him. And about Clara. And about what they did.

“What’s gone wrong?” the cunt said.

Malcolm closed his eyes. “Just thinking about what’s waiting for me, when you drop me off again. When you’re bored with me. Prison and ruin and sod-all.”

Clara’s hand on his shoulder went still. “You didn’t tell him?”

“It didn’t come up!”

“Tell him. Tell him now. Or I’ll tell him.”

“I’ve arranged–”

Clara interrupted the coot. “He’s made a deal with UNIT. Kate Stewart will have wiped a few records clean for you. For the next time we decide to spend some time in 2012. If we ever decide to spend some time there. I’m not sure I want to. It was a boring year.”

“The fuck? Records wiped?”

“Wiped. Along with some minds. Nobody will remember a thing about the inquiry. No prison. A job with UNIT if you want it. Assuming–”

“Assuming we go back before I’m an old man.” But something in his heart lifted. Tom might have forgotten him, but these two hadn’t.

Clara stroked his hair. “Yeah, funny thing about TARDIS medicine. You’ll be okay on that front.”

The old coot said, “You all give me the best years of your lives, and I’ll give them back. If I can.”

There was some kind of grief in his voice as he said that, and Malcolm wondered for a moment what immortality felt like. Other people kept dying on you. You moved on. Over and over. Hell of a thing. He rolled onto his back and stared up at the Doctor then, at that face uncannily like his father’s, and thought about this. The Doctor met his gaze openly enough, but with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. Well, wasn’t that a corker of a thought? He might not be the only sad fucking sack in the room. Somebody else might have a better reason to sniffle into his shirtsleeve.

The Doctor stretched himself out alongside Malcolm and got his arms around him. Behind him Clara did the same. It was too much, too fucking much. Why did they care?

What came out of his mouth was: “You’re fucking slippery. Lubed yourself up to fuck your real lover, yeah? Machine fucker.”

“Shut up,” the Doctor said, and kissed him.

Malcolm opened his mouth and kissed back. Fucking alien. Tasted like an alien. Felt like another man against him, which was alien in its own way because this was the only man Malcolm had ever let himself touch. A hard thigh between his pressing against his prick, an unshaven chin rasping against him. Fucking sue him, yeah, he was hard already and whimpering into the old coot’s mouth. Taste, scent. Memory: the taste of the Doctor in Malcolm’s mouth, the burn of his body inside Malcolm’s, the warmth of Clara’s body around him. Memory, emotion. He’d never known anything like this before these two had taken him in. They had him. They were holding him. These two, who were so devoted to each other, had decided to bring him into their circle and cherish him. He fucking didn’t deserve it, would never deserve it, would never understand why. But here he was, held warm between them.