Day One is here. Day Two is here. Day Three is here.
He doesn't invent the hero to his story. No, nothing so mundane. The hero, instead, invents himself and slices a path, as in the way of Athena, out of his creator's brain. And the hero stands there, in a metaphorical sense of course, fully-formed and ready to interfere in the universe's problems. It's a bit overwhelming, come to think of it, having a fully-formed hero suddenly there. But the hero was to take care of the stories. The stories which had already been partially written and had kept the writer, who was only a mere history teacher at a boy's school, awake.
The stories are borne out of an ongoing feeling of déjà-vu.
It begins while he is grading papers during his second week at term. He reads over a passageway in a paper about the Massacre at St. Bartholomew's Eve and knows, without question, that it is not right. There was another influence, he's sure. Someone else pushed the Marshal of France to his action, though for all of his attempts to find such information, it eludes him. It was not in his lesson and it is not in their textbooks but he knows it is not right.
Feeling as though he can not continue with this subject, he drops a passing grade to the paper and instead pulls another period of history for class.
Ancient Rome. Rome was not built in a day and neither was it destroyed so easily. There is a more serious story to this, and he knows it. Of fire and hatred and something to do with a harp.
Elizabethan England. The painting of Shakespeare is also wrong. He knows the painting is a poor interpretation, though he has no idea why he could possibly think that. It's the tightness of the hair, the curve of the nose. The man in the painting does not look at all like William Shakespeare. But he has never met William Shakespeare, he has no reason to think that. Also, he feels (with no small amount of disgust and alarm) that the Bard was, in fact, not merely heterosexual. If he were another man, he decided, he would feel flattered to be flirted with by the Bard. But he is not another man, and such a train of thought is nothing but silly.
He reads the sonnets to Shakespeare's Dark Lady, and his eyes drift over to his servant. While he does not find her pleasing to the eye, he knows that long ago, the Bard wrote his poems for someone just like Martha.
Classic literature. And then there's the biography of Jane Austen. He immediately thinks that she's a fantastic dancer, but there's no reason to believe she was any such thing. Matron Redfern laughs when he says such a thing. Soft paws, steel claws. It's a phrase that he knows applies to Miss Austen and the Matron alike.
French history. While speaking of aristocrats, he finds himself bitingly defending the rather infamous Madame du Pompadour. Professor Moffatt asks him to head back to his study, to cool down a bit.
"Don't let's get too emotional, John. It's not as though you actually knew the woman."
After class, he sits in his study and stares at the picture. He's certain he knows her, but he can't figure out how. The dark printed pages don't seem to capture the way his mind's eye sees the woman, the woman he feels like he should know. The woman sitting with her face profile to him, the dark smudges in the textbook representing her hair sliding down her shoulders in tumbling waves. He finds his fingers curl as if he knows what it's like to feel those strands, to have them slide against his skin. Involuntarily, he shudders.
He is not an experienced man, but he feels as if there was seduction, once. Perhaps in a dream, perhaps in a long-ago memory. And the seduction was---well, it was nothing that a proper English gentleman would like to think about.
And, as in the way of things one does not want to think of, his dreams take on a decidedly more romantic tone. He dreams of dancing, of the tarantella with a Roman woman in long, red robes. He dreams of a blonde woman with impossibly ancient eyes, holding his hand as they gallivanted through France and taking his breath away. He dreams of a different hero pressing a kiss to his mouth and telling him he'd 'see you in hell' and the thrill rather than the horror at the kiss with another man. He dreams of the gold-painted skin of Cleopatra through scandalously revealing dresses; Cleopatra who purred in his ear and told him to call her 'Cleo'. He dreams of a girl on a beach, the sun in her tear-stained eyes.
The dreams wake him up, of course, and he feels sweaty and uncomfortable and just a little foul for them. He does not sleep afterwards, instead he stares at the wooden ceiling and considers his own self-imposed chastity. If he were another man, such impure thoughts would make sense.
If he were another man.
If he were this other man, then there would be no need for chastity. No need to hold back. He could hold Madame du Pompadour in his arms and know that she was as intelligent and as brilliant as he was. And Shakespeare would be worth sparring with, and there would be history to preserve for France's Huguenots, and---
Of course, he's not another man. He's just a simple history teacher. He knows that puberty and sexual attraction hits young men between the ages of 13-17 but he does not recollect any woman ever catching his eye prior to Matron Redfern. And for her he'd rather complete a long, complicated courtship.
But someone has to live these stories, these impossible stories.
And so, the history teacher invents the Doctor.
It is a good name, it's an official name. It's a title the history teacher knows he is incapable of actually possessing, though one he has often longed for. He decides that the Doctor will not actually possess the title either but he will brandish it and people, being such as they are, will accept him for who he says he is.
The first time the history teacher says the name it is to his servant, Martha, who looks at him with such a look of absolute horror he is afraid he's said something that in insulting to her culture. But Martha, being as she is, forgives and perhaps forgets because she never mentions the Doctor to him again. Whenever he talks of it, that horror returns to her face, though not nearly in the extremity of the first time John presented it. It is as though he is speaking of a very precious glass egg and if Martha speaks too loudly of it, she will shatter the egg and be dismissed immediately.
It is no matter. The stories write themselves and the history teacher finds delight and release in writing them. Adventures and history and lovers and danger. All of the things that he will never experience.
But the Doctor can experience them. The history teacher finds himself wondering what it would be like to be the Doctor, but decides that it is not something he truly wishes to experience. And then he packs his books and readies himself to teach a class on the ancient Highlanders, though the lesson does not seem to have all of the interesting facts he is quite certain he knows.
He pushes those thoughts away. There will be time for adventures, time for the Doctor later. But for now, John Smith must live his life in the only way that a proper English gentleman can.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,300
Special thanks to galeforcehero for the beta and telling me that Cleo was in fact Greek!