when regiment is gone (kindkit) wrote,
when regiment is gone
kindkit

I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was

I just finished re-reading Mark Michalowski's EDA Halflife. The first time I read it I was fairly new to the EDAs, and I probably should have waited, because it relies on knowing the characters a lot better than I did then. I didn't realize how strange it was for the Doctor to drink alcohol, eat lots of food, or notice someone in a sexual way (I did get the cigarette thing, at least), or for Fitz to say, "I know it’s a rather humanocentric view to assume that humanoids are all human." So this time through I could appreciate the strangeness, which isn't significantly diminished by knowing what's happening plotwise.

I almost wish that they hadn't been able to sort out the personality swap at the end. The camaraderie they have as equals is delightful (also highly slashy, which I'll get to in a minute) and I'd have loved more books where they're both smart and they're both vulnerable and they can each know what the other's thinking and the loneliness that dogs each of them is finally solved. *hopes someone will write this AU someday*

Re-reading confirmed my feeling that Fitz's bottom dream is not the most slashy aspect of the book. It certainly has an erotic element which is noticed by the characters as well as by readers. But it's disturbing too, as it echoes Autumn Cannibalism and the Gaian wave. (Which I guess is why the personality swap has to be undone, but apart from the dream, the swap doesn't really seem that negative. They don't lose their individuality, although I suppose it might have come to that if the swap hadn't been reversed.)

Anyway, here's what I think is the most slashy moment. It's from early on in the book, when the Doctor recalls how he grieved over something bad that happened in the previous book:

[H]e’d mourned, locked himself away at the heart of the TARDIS for so long that Fitz had come looking for him, banging on the door. And when he’d finally summoned up the strength to face them, he’d found eleven trays outside the door. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, all laid out, with little handwritten notes – hoping he was OK, telling him that Trix had vanished, asking him to just write a message to let them know he was all right, saying that he’d found Trix in the TARDIS’s library, worrying that the milk smelled off and that Trix had untied the cow and it had wandered off and did the TARDIS have a cow?


The notes. Fitz's little love notes, people. *hearts Fitz forever and ever*

And then there's this:

And with that, the Doctor bounded over and gave Fitz a huge, rib-cracking hug, lifting him clear off the ground. For a moment, Fitz wondered if the Doctor was going to kiss him – and remembered the dream.


I love the neutrality of that last sentence--no indication that Fitz is afraid the Doctor might kiss him. Okay, Fitz does say later that he never wants to have the bottom dream again, but the dream's creepy so I can understand that.

Oh, and let's not forget this:

The Doctor gave [Fitz] a friendly slap on the chest and wrapped his arm around his shoulder. [Two paragraphs of the POV character thinking about other stuff omitted.] The Doctor and Fitz, their arms around each other, were walking back to where she presumed the Imperator and his daughter were waiting.


Yes, have a nice long public cuddle, boys. You deserve it. (On a more analytical note, this is before they unswap personalities, and I think the image is meant to evoke the intensity of their connection. Psychologically, they're conjoined twins now, and the touching is a physical expression of it. But . . . that's not easily distinguishable from the experience of being in love, and I think Michalowski is being deliberately ambiguous.

Even before the personality swap, there's an emphasis on Fitz and the Doctor as a pair. Trix feels excluded:

[The Doctor's] current outburst of boyish enthusiasm seemed to have ignited Fitz’s immaturity, and the two of them were just getting each other going. She wondered if Anji had felt like this around them, and whether the Doctor was doing it on purpose, trying to make her feel like a gooseberry so that she’d be more than willing to jump ship when she got the opportunity.


The term "gooseberry" (which is usually used in the context of a romantic relationship) comes up again later in the POV of a non-companion character (this is at the height of Fitz and the Doctor's conjoined-ness):

‘Maybe,’ said the Doctor, sidling up to Fitz. Calamee suddenly got the weirdest impression of the Doctor and Fitz doing some sort of strange little doubleact. It was as if they were practising each other’s mannerisms, gestures, ways of speaking. Maybe they’d spent so much time together that they were now copying each other without realising it. How long had they spent together? Did either of them actually know? The impression that Calamee had was that they’d been travelling together forever. She felt a twinge of sympathy for poor Trix: did she feel like the gooseberry in their cosy little team?


What's important about this recurrence, I think, is that it underlines the fact that what Tain does only intensifies something that was already there between Fitz and the Doctor. The two of them are very much a pair, an inseparable unit; when at a crisis point Fitz says to the Doctor, "I'm not leaving you," the phrase has meaning far beyond the moment. It echoes every other time Fitz has not left. The defining characteristic of Fitz's life for years has been not leaving the Doctor. They've been conjoined since long before they encountered Tain.

Part of me doesn't want to read the last five EDAs. I know Fitz is going to get together with Trix, and I know that in the last book Fitz is going to decide to leave the Doctor and stay with Trix (damn you, Lance Parkin!) and I hate it, hate it, hate it. Not just because I am highly OTP-ish about Fitz and the Eighth Doctor, although obviously I am, but because I think it makes no sense for Fitz as a character. (Damn you again, Lance Parkin, for your inexplicable Fitz hate!)

But then, the good thing about Doctor Who is that you can largely pick your own canon and ignore what you don't like.

*****
Tags: fandom: doctor who, fandom: doctor who (eight), fandom: doctor who (novels)
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