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Time and Tide ( "Pets" entry) 
13th-Sep-2018 10:40 am

Title: Time and Tide
Rating: G
Genre: Character Study
Characters/Pairings: The Corsair, The Doctor
Word Count: 480
Summary: The Universe is vast and complicated and ridiculous. The Corsair fully intends to see it all. Character spoilers for The Doctor's Wife.

On the morning after being taken to gaze into the Untempered Schism, the Corsair ran away to sea.

It was high summer, and the nearest coast was half a year's journey on foot. Search parties were dispatched and recalled in vain. The escapee was quick and moved without fear, by mountain paths so narrow that most grown-ups felt unwell just looking at them. Before long the rains had washed away whatever tracks had been laid. The men and women of the Capitol gave up the chase and retreated behind their walls, telling themselves what a pity it was, and such a promising student too.

A year later, almost to the day, the child returned: frost-blackened feet, sun-bleached hair, a jar of seawater tucked under one arm. The adults cajoled and threatened, but received no sensible explanation. The behaviour was put down to a temporary fit of madness, more common among initiates than anyone liked to admit, and the whole episode was brushed over as quickly as decency would allow.

The second time the Corsair ran away, they took the seawater jar with them. That, plus a year's supply of food, an assortment of bladed weapons, and a time capsule commandeered from a young general who had been foolish enough to invite the Corsair over for dinner on the previous evening.

There had been a lesson from that first escape attempt, and it had stuck: a plan is worthless without the means to follow it through.

Descriptions of the ship's interior were thin on the ground. To get into the console room, visitors first had to win the trust of the cats, which crouched just beyond the entrance and fixed each newcomer with a stare that could have felled a mouse at twenty paces. Even the parrot had been trained to hustle unwelcome guests out of the door, tutting as it did so. Like the Corsair's snake tattoo, the pets were a recurring feature down the centuries - though the Time Lord would not have referred to them in those terms. A pet implied ownership, and ownership was presumptive, a form of sentimental slavery. True adventurers had no use for such attachments. They walked through life unencumbered, prepared to risk everything precisely because they expected nothing in return.

The Corsair had been telling that to visitors for the last fifteen hundred years. Certain incarnations might even have believed it. The Doctor - who had been below decks, and seen the jar of seawater gleaming on its shelf - knew better. The truth was that all travellers needed something to anchor them: a love or a loyalty that was bigger than themselves.

While the parrot nibbled on the Doctor's ear and whistled its approval, the cats picked their way over to the Corsair's lap. The two friends sat with the doors thrown open, their eyes on the stars, and told each other stories of home.
19th-Sep-2018 02:41 am (UTC)
OOOH! I really enjoyed this. I don't think that I've read anything with the Corsair yet, and this was interesting character building and insight. I think it ends lovely too, with a restful scene between friends. Well done!
19th-Sep-2018 08:37 am (UTC)
Thank you. I remember reading by a thing by Neil Gaiman a while back featuring a few of his own concept ideas for the Corsair. It included the line 'his Tardis looked like a sailing ship whenever it was practical, and sometimes even when it wasn't' - which is just a brilliant bit of character detail, and made me love the idea of this astronautical gentleman pirate even more.
29th-Sep-2018 03:31 am (UTC)
Well now I'm gonna have to rewatch this episode! This backstory was intriguing.

all travellers needed something to anchor them: a love or a loyalty that was bigger than themselves.

Very nice :-)
30th-Sep-2018 04:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. This episode is definitely one of my favourites for rewatchable value. There's so much going on in every exchange, and the world-building is quite brilliant.
29th-Sep-2018 07:06 pm (UTC)
I love how much story and character you've packed into few words, and I really enjoy this exploration of the Corsair's character, who is such a fascinating aside in the series. :-)
30th-Sep-2018 04:11 pm (UTC)
:-) Thank you. I do enjoy these drabble challenges. They give my brain the discipline it needs to grapple with an idea and put it down in words.
30th-Sep-2018 11:15 am (UTC)
I love this! The fleeting mentions of the Corsair in The Doctor’s Wife were so intriguing, I’d love to know more, and you’ve expanded on this really well. Nicely done 👍🏼
30th-Sep-2018 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Of all the characters alluded to in the last few years, the Corsair is definitely one who I think merits an onscreen outing. Particularly since I feel like we have the Corsair and Missy to thank, collectively, for laying the ground for the Thirteenth Doctor.
5th-Nov-2018 04:03 am (UTC)
Such gorgeous writing as always, and such an original choice of character and use of the prompt! Really loved it :) (sorry it took me so long to comment!)
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