Actions

Work Header

Arkytior

Chapter Text

He was loud, energetic, and far too curious for his own good. Mischievous hazel eyes more of a blue-tan than a green-brown but still considered hazel were constantly trained with a fixated interest on whatever had caught their fancy for the current, limited allotment of time they gave before flitting to the next object only seconds later out from underneath shaggy brown hair so dark a shade that in dim light it turned black. Sharp, angular features were constantly crinkling his eyes and the side of his mouth in a smirk his instructors and peers knew well enough to find foreboding, his lean runner’s frame smaller than the other boys his same age. He was constantly getting into trouble, unable to keep still or quiet in a school lesson, and he was the only one that noticed her.

She was quiet, daydreamy, and at first glance shy to the point of reclusive. Attentive olive eyes mixed with a soft, tannish brown sat underneath a delicate brow that was almost constantly furrowed in intense concentration as she sketched drawing after drawing at the back of the class while the tip of her tongue poked out the side of her mouth through her teeth. When asked the answer to a question she would dutifully reply, barely glancing up from her little hobby, and yet somehow still get the correct answer. Her features were soft, curved and petite. Faint freckles dotted the pixie face and, despite a lady having one’s hair down a cultural taboo, it usually escaped in long, soft pastel golden wisps from the bun it had been hastily shoved into prior that morning. She was of an average build and stature for the females of the Gallifreyan species, and as a result they came out even in height.

Everyone knew who he was by default, and they didn’t care to try and make her acquaintance. 

Well, all except Ushas. The girl was cruel, even at the initiate age into the Academy of barely eight, and for some reason she’d elected to take it upon herself to make the mystery girl in the corner as miserable as possible. 

On this particular afternoon, this goal was achieved by swiping the journal full of drawings and sending it skidding across the floor amongst a mess of papers and textbooks that had also gone flying as Ushas left the classroom, leaving the pair of them alone. Their eyes met briefly before she hurriedly returned to gathering up her things, her motions stilling as he slowly held her journal out to her.

“Sorry,” the girl murmured awkwardly, brushing a strand of hair behind an ear. 

“Not your fault,” the boy assured her quietly. He stood, offering her his hand to help her up, and she took it hesitantly as if almost afraid he’d let her fall the moment she became properly unbalanced. “My name’s Theta Sigma of the House of Lungbarrow. What about you?”

“Arkytior,” she whispered shyly, noticing that their hands were still linked as they walked toward their next class. “I’m from Heartshaven.”

“Bit of a mouthful,” he muttered, nose wrinkling in distaste before his expression brightened. “Can I call you ‘Kit’ instead?”

“Only if I can call you Theta,” she teased, finally relaxing and cracking a smile. He watched, fascinated, as the tip of her tongue poked out in the grin and her eyes seemed to sparkle, the change in her demeanor almost painfully evident as she realized he just wanted to enjoy her company rather than do so with the intent to hurt her feelings. He pretended to consider for a few moments before grinning, moving to swing their hands between them as they walked.

“Mm... deal,” he decided before glancing down at his arms full of books and giving her a raised eyebrow. “I seem to be carrying your things.” Kit smirked in response.

“So you do,” she replied without making any move whatsoever to amend the situation. Theta huffed in amusement but let it be. 

They arrived at their next lesson a tad bit late, sliding into the back rows as Borusa began his monotone drone. Theta watched with rapt attention as Kit doodled in her journal, marveling at her abilities as she drew soft shaded flowers and landscapes of fastidious detail despite being only eight. 

 

They exchanged the basics after that lesson period. Kit was currently the youngest cousin in the House of Heartshaven and her parents were immensely strict; she was their only child and from the way she spoke Theta could only assume that would not be changing any time soon. Theta had an older brother named Irving Braxiatel that was really the only one of Lungbarrow that seemed to even remotely tolerate his presence; no one actively liked him, not even his own parents, and while he wasn’t the youngest cousin he was certainly on the ‘pipsqueak side,’ as Brax liked to put it. 

Theta had one friend from before their entry into the Academy named Koschei, from the House of Oakdown, and unlike Theta and Kit was well-liked by his cousins. His father owned the massive estates as the patriarch of the House, a title Koschei himself would inherit one day. At any rate the boy joined them in the gardens of the Academy. Brilliant cobalt blue eyes raked over Arkytior indifferently upon first meeting, scowling slightly at what appeared to be a subconscious calling on his best friend’s and now this unwelcome girl’s parts to hold hands almost constantly. 

Neither boy had ever been interested in plants in the slightest, but Theta hung on Kit’s every word when she could name every single one and explain what they were useful for. He asked her a handful of questions at a rapid pace and was delighted to find that she didn’t mind at his being so talkative, a trait that everyone else seemed to find irritating. She answered every single question put to her, though the conversation dwindled considerably when Koschei asked in an almost disturbingly innocent tone which ones were poisonous. 

The other student soon left the pair, most likely to pester Vansell as he was wont to do as his favorite pastime, and glancing about furtively Kit tugged on Theta’s hand. He let her lead him without resistance to one of the walls of the garden that formed the exterior boundary of the Academy, eyes widening when she pulled back some tall grass and revealed a small hole in the wall for them to slip through. He followed her out into the wide, scarlet grassy plains surrounding the Academy and gasped at the sheer amount of open space. Everything felt stifling in the Academy and Theta was only too glad to be away from it. He hummed as the fresh wind whipped at his robes and hair turning into the breeze, and noted that Arkytior was doing the same. 

“You’re like me,” he said suddenly, quietly. Kit glanced at him, startled, before a slow smile spread across her face and she nodded. 

~§§~

“Hurry up, Theta!” Koschei urged. Theta shot him a glare as he heaved himself up handhold by handhold the side of the steep hill. They were fifteen years old and in human terms barely past the biological age of eight and a half, but much had changed during that time. Koschei had eventually warmed up to Kit when it became apparent that it was impossible to actually dislike her once she’d put the charm on, and the three of them were an inseparable unholy terror upon their professors. Kit, once she’d gotten two true friends, had become much more self-confident and outgoing, even going so far as to stand up to Ushas the next time the spiteful girl went after her. She’d taught Theta how to draw and Koschei had shown the pair of them how to set off stinkbombs. Theta was good at pulling things apart and fixing them before putting them back together again, and the three of them often skipped class to chase each other through the hills surrounding the Academy.

Theta reached the top of the hill and braced his hands on his knees, panting. Koschei was in a similar situation and they snickered at one another before something occurred to them.

“Where’s Kit?” Theta asked. They both glanced up at the slight rustling in the silver tree canopy above them, eyes widening comically before they were both spitting out grass and dirt as the girl launched herself at them. “Oof!” 

“I hate it when she does that,” Koschei muttered, the words barely legible as he dragged his face out of the soil. 

“I think she’s trying to establish dominance,” Theta ventured with a tentative groan. Kit huffed good-naturedly and shifted off of Koschei to sit squarely in the center of Theta’s back. “Ow. Gerroff.” 

“Fine,” she chirped, springing nimbly onto her toes. “You’re a bony sort of floor cushion anyway.” Theta growled at that and tackled her legs. They went rolling across the red grass and both yelped in surprise as they continued on down the hill they’d just climbed, Koschei laughing at them as he sat down. 

~§§~

“Tell me a story?” Arkytior asked softly. They had been celebrating her thirtieth birthday (biologically only ten in human appearance) and this seemed like the perfect end to a perfect day. Theta shifted slightly on the grass and frowned. 

“Like what?” She shrugged, pointing at the sky. 

“Pick a constellation and tell me how it came to be?” 

“Hmm. Uh... the stars in the constellation Rekhan are...” Kit chuffed and swatted at his arm from where she lay beside him under the canopy of stars. 

“Rekhan is the bearer of poor tidings,” she began, wrapping her fingers around his and pointing with her free hand. “You see? He resembles a vulture. It is said that one day the goddess of Pain needed a messenger. Rekhan had his wing caught in a snare, and in return for freeing him Pain asked him to become her messenger. So he flies the skies each night, never resting, until his debt is repaid.” 

“How do you know all this?” Theta asked. She shrugged. 

“I read. If something interests me, I read about it. Why?”

“...I learn better through doing,” he confessed. “It’s easier, to see all the pieces and fit them together when they’re in the physical.” 

“That’s okay,” Kit chirped. “I’m rubbish at the hands-on stuff. So, the way I see it, I help you with the book learning and you help me with the manual learning. Deal?”

“...You’re very optimistic.”

“‘Course I am. You’re here.” There was a long moment of silence before Theta shrugged. 

“Ditto.” 

~§§~

They were now in their early nineties, or the human biological equivalent of being just on the cusp of adolescence. No one could prove they’d gotten into Chancellor Tabish’s prized jam collection, and even if they could it wasn’t as if either of them were particularly repentant of it, but Koschei just wouldn’t let it go

“Did it taste good?” The boy asked sullenly. 

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Theta replied evasively. Koschei rolled his eyes. 

“You’ve still got some of it in the corner of your mouth, genius. Come on. Let me at least live vicariously through others.”

“It was delicious,” Kit conceded, smirking as Theta swiped at his mouth with the back of his hand and completely missed the streak of jam. “Theta, no, other- no, just- just let me,” she laughed, bringing the pad of her thumb up to clean his face as he sulked. There was a slightly awkward moment when she unthinkingly licked the preserves off of her thumb and then realized what she’d done. 

“Wish I could have been there.” Koschei broke the suddenly tense atmosphere with a cough and shuffled his feet. He looked up. “Why didn’t you invite me?” The pair looked at each other and blinked. 

“...Koschei, you were already in trouble for setting fire to the lavatory on the fifth level,” Theta reminded him gently. “Another mark so soon after had we been caught and you would have been expelled.”

“...Oh, right.” 

“Yep.”

“Well, that’s different then.”

~§§~

It was one of the few times during the year when they were allowed to go back to their House for observance of what most people considered to be an antiquated set of holidays. Otherstide and the subsequent occasions that followed were supposed to be a time of renewal - due to the myths and legends surrounding the Other himself, of course - and so Theta was currently suffering at home. Ironically, he missed the Academy. That was something he never thought he’d ever find himself thinking. 

More specifically, he missed Kit. And Koschei. But Koschei was... well, ever since he’d begun adolescence he’d been acting sort of... strange. Muttering odd things at inopportune moments and complaining about a drumming noise in his mind. He’d heard that noise, so he said, ever since he’d looked into the Untempered Schism, but it was so much worse recently. So, less Koschei who had become increasingly more and more distant and more missing Kit. 

Rain was coming down in large droves during a rare break from Gallifrey’s almost-perpetual dry spell. Theta was curled up in a corner of the entryway inside a rather large and ostentatious wooden armoire; it was the only place he could find respite from the teasing of his cousins and the judgement of his aunts and uncles simply for the reason that no one knew he had a tendency to hide there. The book he was reading held little interest but it was something to do that didn’t involve burning the entire house down (although it would serve the gloomy, almost entirely windowless labyrinth right in his opinion if one of his experiments happened to accidentally go haywire). 

A knock on the main door had him looking up at the small crack he‘d left in the cupboard so that the hinge didn’t lock him in (plus he needed the light) with a frown. He watched as one of his aunts opened the door and let out a soft noise of disgust.

“Who are you? Leave now!” The second voice was eerily familiar yet muffled.

“But I-”

“Begone, I said!” The woman slammed the door and locked it securely, wandering back toward whatever dungeon she’d crawled out of and muttering to herself. “Filthy Gallifreyan peasant children...” 

When she was far enough away that he was sure he wouldn’t be spotted, Theta climbed out of the armoire and crept curiously to the door. He paused when he was just able to make out the sound of crying over the rain and quickly yanked the heavy wooden entry open as fast as he was able. 

“Theta.”

“...Kit!?” She nodded from where she had sat on the steps, dripping wet and shivering. His gaze darkened when he spotted the dark mark partially hidden by her hairline. “What happened?” 

“One of my older cousins hit me. None of the adults thought it was a big deal, but then she did it again, and then again, again...” Carefully, Kit pulled up the sleeves on her robes and looked away when Theta gasped in shock at the numerous fading and fresh bruises. “I didn’t, didn’t have anywhere to go except here...” 

“With me,” Theta murmured, slinging an arm around her waist and then grunting as he scooped her partially onto his back. Kit got the general idea fairly quickly, wrapping her arms  loosely around his neck and allowing her legs to come up so that the inside of her knees rested against the inside of his elbows. He padded quickly to his room and, after setting her down on the bed, disappeared for a good few minutes. He returned bearing a tray of what were obviously after-dinner scraps, an empty cup and a full pitcher of water, and a pair of dry robes for Kit to wear. The robes were about two sizes too big (an older cousin, most likely), but she appreciated it nonetheless. 

After getting dried off and having put some food in her stomach, Kit was doing better. While she’d been getting dressed Theta had moved out to parts unknown to fetch a small med kit, and she’s smiled at the shy knock he’d given at the door to make sure she was decent. 

“Come in,” she whispered. The handle turned slowly and he stepped into the room with small, hesitant tiptoe movements that only served to endear him further to her. “Hi.”

“Hi,” he murmured in a soft voice, expression impossibly even softer. “How are you doing?” 

“Better. Thank you.” He nodded, holding out the med kit like a peace offering and then gesturing to it redundantly. 

“Can I...?”

“Sure.” 

Theta moved to sit next to Kit on his bed, opening the medical kit and rummaging about as he looked for the healing salve. He nodded when he found it, turning back to her before seeming to realize the dilemma they were now in. Gallifreyans, and Time Lords especially, didn’t do any skin on skin contact and especially not when they were alone. Holding hands was one thing, a gesture between good friends that was looked down upon but not considered even remotely improprietary, but Kit’s arms and most likely a good portion of her abdomen would be exposed during this. As touch telepaths, non-finger to temple contact was still more than sufficient to pass along feelings. But at the same time, Kit’s bruises needed proper looking after. Sensing this dilemma, Kit shrugged. 

“Theta, I trust you. You’re my best friend... I share everything with you anyway,” she muttered, her face heating in embarrassment. “But if you want to put on some clinical gloves beforehand I get it. This is... different.” Theta swallowed, nodding, before taking a deep breath and dipping his fingers into the salve. Kit’s smile was more than enough to tell him he’d made the right choice, but the sudden influx of foreign emotions he received from her did more than words could possibly ever say. 

Her gratitude that he trusted her that much, that he accepted her to that degree and felt no shame in being her friend... it was as if his own thoughts were being reflected back at him. 

Kit’s sharp intake of breath snapped him out of his stupor and Theta immediately refocused on applying the salve to her injuries. 

 

It was only because Theta managed to convince his elder brother Brax to vouch for them that Kit was allowed to remain at the House of Lungbarrow until the holiday season had ended. At that, she was expected to be seen and not heard (and even then the ‘seen’ aspect was to be kept at a minimum), to promptly attend each meal, and to not go anywhere without a chaperone. This last part proved to be almost ridiculously easy to abide by considering that Theta was all but physically glued to her. As for the other points...

...Well.

It was safe to say that the only reason they didn’t get in trouble for not meeting them was because the old hermit who sat under the tree at the edge of their lands was someone even the most bitter of Theta’s relatives held in a strange sort of respectful regard so long as he kept his distance. The fact that the two children had stumbled upon and somehow won his favor was less well-received more than tolerated, and if he so happened to keep them well past supper they had no qualms to justify. And, if anyone were to ask, the adults would say they were relieved that the two were too caught up hearing the old man’s words of strange roundabout wisdom rather than setting things on fire (which Theta was somewhat known for even if it was on accident). 

But as it was, Kit and Theta spent the holiday together and neither of them could ever remember actually being happy about spending time with relatives prior to that occasion. 

~§§~

The Academy was... different after that holiday. Koschei returned in a strange state of mind that, no matter how his two friends tried to break him from it, he stayed stubbornly stuck in. Of their little group of dissidents they were slowly gaining more people. What had once been Three was now ten, or - as everyone but themselves referred to them as - The Deca. All of them were a part of it for different reasons, but it brought them together. Even Ushas, who never liked to join anything, seemed to find comradeship among other vaguely-like-minded peers. 

Work and study took an earnest, difficult turn. Both Theta and Kit admitted to each other quite often that they would well be lost without the other, as Theta understood the technical and hands-on material while Kit excelled at the written and obscure. They frequently were found on the floor of the commons in the dormitory with their notes spread around them in a mess of white and color-coded chaos exchanging facts and helping one another. For the most part the others joined in, and while no one admitted it aloud everyone privately conceded that it wouldn’t have been possible without Arkytior flashing large, unbearably begging puppy eyes as she asked them to form a study group. 

When they weren’t focusing on their studies any member of the Deca could usually be found playing truant, either escaping into the nearby city or the wild red plains. As for Theta and Arkytior, they were rarely out of each other’s sight. 

~§§~

At the young age of 113, the beginnings of adolescence had made everyone somewhat irritable. The world had potential but it was still out of their reach, and personal relationships had begun to be cultivated due to political alliance. While Kit was being urged by her House to make a union with Koschei’s and Theta was being discouraged from having any association with either of them, The Deca in general remained a vaguely-united group drawn together by mutual discontent and the desire of youth to rebel. In short, none of them were listening to their elders about forming and dissolving political ties. That would change later, as they matured, but at the moment they were the stereotypical hormonal delinquents who had to ask their mums for permission to start a gang. 

Ironically, Narvin’s mum said no. Not that that stopped him (it did a little bit). 

The problem was, school was getting difficult. Even with the study sessions Theta was seriously beginning to struggle and Kit was failing her hands-on labs. Part of the reason for that was sheer stress and challenge level, but there were other factors involved. One of which became more and more prominent as they grew older. 

 

Thing was, Theta had no problem admitting to himself that he was besotted. But saying that aloud, much less to his only friend when he wasn’t sure she felt the same way, well. It wasn’t a very good idea. He internalized, the stress building every time they held hands and he had to refrain from projecting his feelings for her over the base-level empathic connection. It all came to a head in the library late one evening. 

The room had long since been locked up, and they had snuck in after hours to browse the restricted section. It was just the pair of them in close-confined dim shelving trying not to sneeze at barely-touched books, and for some of them Kit had to stand on his shoulders to reach them because that section didn’t have a ladder. 

“Find anything particularly taboo?” He called in a hoarse whisper, wincing as his voice cracked. 

“Not really, just a bunch of boring stuff on temporal engineering reserved for the CIA, but... ooh! Got one!” Kit leapt off Theta’s shoulders with the dusty tome in hand and landed nimbly on her toes, and together they sat on the floor with their backs braced against the shelving. She cracked it open, Theta peering over her shoulder, and silently they began to read. 

Much of the content didn’t make sense. Talk of bodily chemicals, hormones, reactions. What did that mean, reactions? It wasn’t until later into the chapter that they began to get an inkling as to what it was all about when the book started talking about telepathic intimacy. 

“...What was the book called again?” Theta asked softly. Kit shrugged, looking uneasy. 

“They painted the name out. Figured it had to mean it was extra forbidden.” 

“I mean... yeah...” Kit turned the page and they both sucked in a breath. “Oh...” 

The two open pages showed rather... detailed depictions of both the female and male body. Naked. And drawing special attention to certain bits they hadn’t even realized belonged to anything sexual.

“Oops,” Kit whispered, face flaming red. Theta let out a squeak and reached around her arm to snap the book shut. “My bad.”

“We should call it a night,” he said. “You know, turn in early. Give it a brea- rest. Give it a rest.” 

“Were you just about to say-?”

“So, uh, yeah. Night!” Kit was left to blink as he left only a trail of dust in his wake to mark his presence as he booked it out of the library. 

 

Fifteen nights and fourteen days of studiously avoiding each other later, Kit crept back into the library. Sue her, she was curious. But involving Theta probably wasn’t a good idea, given the reaction he had had the last time. 

She climbed the shelf and pulled the book back down from its perch, curling up on the floor and thumbing through the pages at breakneck speed. She was in a hurry to get it all absorbed so that she could process it later when there wasn’t a danger of being caught, and about ten minutes later she stood and moved to put it back on the shelf when she noticed Theta standing as still and pale as a white marble statue at the end of the aisle. 

“Hi,” she said shyly, going beet red. 

“Hey,” he murmured back, swallowing several times. His gaze drifted to the book clutched in her fingers. “Um- well, this is...”

“Awkward?”

“...Yeah.” He gestured uselessly to the book. “Can I...?”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah. Sure.” Kit scurried over to him and shoved it into his chest, causing him to stumble backward a few steps as she swept out of the library. He frowned as he thumbed through the pages himself, eyes widening as he understood her embarrassment.

 

“What is with you two?” Koschei sighed, plopping down beside Theta in the courtyard. The boy flinched and stared at the grass. “Oh, come on. Tell me.”

“Nope.” 

“Then I’ll have to ask her.” 

No!” Koschei raised an eyebrow and Theta coughed. “Uh, no. Don’t do that.”

“Then tell me.” 

“We... ahem... found a... a book.”

“About...?”

“...Reproductive biology. And the... mm... means to go about it.”

“...Oh.” 

“Yeah.” 

“Oh, mate.”

“Yep.” 

 

Needless to say, they couldn’t even look at each other for three weeks and when they finally started talking again it was a full seventeen months before things stopped being awkward.

~§§~

At one hundred and seventy-seven (the biological human equivalent of 17), Things got awkward again. But for an altogether entirely different reason.

By this point Koschei wasn’t anything like the boy they both remembered, and the Deca were growing up and beginning to show an interest in the political world. In short, all they really had was each other. The problem was that Theta was having a harder and harder time seeing Kit as merely a friend - albeit a best friend - and more in a speculatively romantic way. He’d had these feelings for ages, but it was getting harder and harder to keep them hidden. 

Hence the problem. Time Lords, and Time Lords in training applicable as well, weren’t supposed to have romantic affections toward their peers. But then she laughed, or smiled in that way she had where she stuck her tongue between her teeth, eyes sparkling. Or she rested her head against his shoulder during the evenings when they lounged under a silver cadonwood tree outside the border walls of the Academy. And sometimes, he fancied that she felt the same way. There was just no good way to tell. Worse yet, she’d begun to notice that he was physically and emotionally pulling back from her to keep his sanity. 

It worked.

...Up to a point, but the other problem was that he didn’t want anyone to be affectionate toward her either. 

Which was how he and Koschei ended up in a rather vicious fistfight when Kit rejected Koschei’s affections and he responded in a rather... okay, he rather forcibly grabbed her wrist and kissed her when she clearly didn’t want it. Which was why Theta gave him a black eye for his troubles and effectively strained their friendship in the worst way possible.

“Are you okay?” Theta asked gently as he turned toward Kit, Koschei slinking off to lick his wounds. Kit rubbed at her wrist and cast him a glare.

“Like you actually care,” she muttered. He blinked.

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve been pulling away from me for months, Theta! What else am I supposed to think? Look, if you don’t want to be friends anymore I get it, all right? We’ve got to start thinking about political alliances, and-“ her words were cut off as he abruptly leaned in and kissed her, gently pushing some of the bangs falling from her bun behind her ear. When he leaned away she was staring at him, frozen and wide-eyed. Unconsciously she licked her lips and his gaze was riveted by the tiny strip of pink. 

“Oh...” she breathed before leaning toward him and eagerly reciprocating. 

 

They kept it secret, as they had to do. Discovery of the new development in their relationship would mean expulsion from the Academy for the both of them, but they would soon be out. They just had to last until then, and then they could elope before their families had settled on their arranged marriages. 

In the meantime they met as often as possible under their tree, experimenting with kissing and cuddling and different levels of telepathic intimacy but not quite daring to go any further physically. Even getting as far as they had was seen as submitting to the basest of primal instincts, and their culture was so against any form of carnal contact that it properly terrified the pair of them to even consider it let alone suggest it. Getting caught in a romantic relationship was one thing, but to get caught and have be known that they... well. It truly didn’t bear thinking about. 

For the first time they were both glad they had read that book those few decades ago, because they weren’t entirely clueless as to what was going on. This did not, however, prevent Theta from accidentally requesting to form a provisional - or engagement - bond in the middle of what they had playfully termed ‘telepathic canoodling’ nor prevent Kit from accident accepting it. They had been riding high on instincts and both abruptly pulled their fingers from one another’s temples in shock. To their surprise and initial dismay the connection they shared didn’t sever like it should have done. 

On a base level, they were semi-permanently connected. Kit was still in Theta’s mind to a degree even with limited distance, and Theta was in Kit’s. 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, hugging his knees to his chest and refusing to look at her.

“What for?” Kit asked, head tilting slightly to the side as her brow furrowed. 

“I wanted to ask, properly. I wanted to properly propose that we bond,” he muttered miserably. “I messed it up.”

“Hey, Theta. Theta, look at me,” she said, gently placing her fingers under his chin and moving his head so that they made eye contact. She smiled. “It was spontaneous, and that is very us. And- hey, do I look upset to you?” She gently caressed the thin strands binding their minds together and he shivered. “Do I feel upset?”

“...No.” He smiled as Kit leaned in for a kiss.

“Because I’m not.” 

 

Their professors were suspicious of their sudden and mutual rise in testing and schoolwork, but an unexpected side benefit of sharing an engagement bond was that, with the other’s memories floating about on the peripheral of their awareness, they both picked up the content matter neither understood by an odd form of telepathic osmosis. Doing better in school meant that they were under less scrutiny from their peers and professors and that their families at least had a grudging level of respect toward them. 

They alternated spending holidays with each other - though the third time Theta visited Heartshaven he was told to never come back when a cousin walked in on the pair of them kissing in the library - because the Bond made it somewhat unbearable to not be near one another. Not in a painful sense, but in a magnetic sense. They were continually drawn to one another, because the Bond instinctively sought completion into a full marriage Bond. The pair, at least wanting to do one thing right by the laws of their planet, were determined to wait until they were both of ‘legal’ or ‘adult’ age, which was 200. At 187 this wasn’t too long to wait. 

When finals came around they passed with 57%, which earned them a grade of ‘Satisfying.’ Neither of them could have managed that without the Bond, and they were both well aware of it. 

When they graduated and were allowed to pick a title, the pair raced down to the registrar’s office. Kit had elected to retain her Parent-given name which had been suitable for the Academy, loving the way Theta lovingly caressed each vowel and consonant as it left his mouth, but Theta - who had always hated his, was only too eager to change his to something new. Kit had suggested the title because of the night he’d found her in the rain all those years ago and patched up her cuts and bruises. Just as she loved the way he said ‘Arkytior,’ he loved the way she said ‘Doctor.’ 

 

They had found less time to see each other outside of work as of late. Theta - now called The Doctor though Kit still used her nickname for him - had moved out of Lungbarrow and into Arcadia, opening a small repair shop that had an apartment over it. Kit worked as his secretary, and thus they needed no excuse to see one another, but she was expected to return to Heartshaven promptly at the end of the day and was only allowed to arrive at the shop early in the afternoon. Her family had been busy trying to groom her for politics and were adamant in selecting a husband for her. 

As a result of their limited casual time together, the Doctor made sure to close the shop one day out of the week. It wasn’t announced anywhere, just posted on the door, and the pair of them would sneak off to the lake and the grasslands where their tree rested on a hill and overlooked the shining waters. 

This particular lake was not meant to be swum in. There was an unspoken rule, and the very atmosphere around the lake was heavy and still. All the same, Kit was feeling nervous this particular afternoon; she had just turned 200, the Doctor some months prior to her, and she had no idea if he would propose marriage this evening or not. She’d given the excuse before leaving home that morning that she would be needed for preparation of a large shipment of supplies and parts well into the night, something her family had grudgingly allowed so long as she was back by dawn, so that they could celebrate together. She’d given the same excuse on the Doctor’s birthday as well, but as far as they could tell her family were none the wiser. At any rate, her nerves were getting the better of her.

They were lounging on the grass by the banks of the water picking lazily at a picnic they’d brought when a fly darted across the water and gave her an idea. The Doctor’s eyebrows flew into his shaggy hairline as Kit stood and began to disrobe, mouth hanging slack when she was clad in only her slip.

“...Kit?” He choked, somehow more shocked by the fact that she was stepping into the water than the fact that she had effectively undressed right in front of him. She raised her chin in challenge. 

“Coming?” 

Mechanically, he worked at freeing himself from his robe. It was mostly off of his shoulders and exposing his chest when he paused, biting his lip as he stared at his abdomen. Taking a deep breath, he let the heavy garments slide off the rest of the way until he was only in his pants and hurried to join her in the water. 

Neither had seen so much skin of the other before, and Kit’s eyes were wide as she took in his abdomen.

“Theta?” 

“Yeah, yeah. I know,” he muttered, skinny arms crossing uncomfortably over his scrawny chest. He’d never broadened out, remaining stubbornly small at the disappointing height of 5’8” (Kit was 5’6”) and maintaining the lithe build of a runner rather than a fighter. Kit’s hand stretched out and hovered hesitantly above his navel. 

“Can I...?”

“Yeah.” Despite the permission, he flinched as she cautiously explored the dimensions of his belly button. “I was loomed like that. My cousins gave me all sorts of horrible nicknames because of it,” he sighed, fingers touching the same spot on Kit’s body through the slip now clinging to her skin. Instead of a small bump or a small hole there was only a smooth slight concavement, as was typical for their species when being loomed. “Snail, proto-Gallifreyan... there are worse ones.”

“Well that’s not fair,” Kit argued. “You couldn’t help that.” 

“You’re not bothered by it?” He asked softly. She shook her head.

“I think I kinda like it, actually.” The Doctor’s eyes softened as he looked at her, a tender moment that ended in a squeak when she splashed him and then promptly dove under the surface of the water. He sighed, giving chase. 

 

Later, when they were spread out on the grass under their tree drying out from a rather playful swim in the lake no one was supposed to go in, the Doctor gathered the courage to pop the question. They were lying on their backs and he slowly sat up to stare down at her in awe. Her soft light blonde hair was fanned about her like a Heavenly aura, her long lashes closed over eyes he knew to be olive green. Freckles lightly dusted her pixie features and she looked so content in the light of the sunset that he felt his hearts catch in his throat. 

“Kit?”

“Mm?”

“Arkytior.” The reverent tone he used got her to open her eyes and regard him with a lazy contentment. 

“What?” 

“I- I was wondering if we... you know... could complete our Bond,” the Doctor said quickly, nervous nervy causing the words to burst out his mouth. Kit giggled and sat up. 

“Of course, Theta. I had a feeling you might ask tonight, with it being my 200th and all.”

“Not nearly as subtle as I think I am, huh?” He joked weakly as he rested his forehead against hers. They both slid their heads slightly to the side so that their temples were brushing directly, no need for hands. 

Willingly, they both deepened the connection. Instinct took over, the Bond shining brightly as more and more connections were established between their minds and the cord strengthened. They both gasped as their timelines bound them together permanently, weaving around one another so tightly as to be inseparable in life as well as in mind. They both whispered their true names into each other’s minds and there was a mental bright spark as the last of the walls separating them crumbled. They had a shared mindscape, as if when together they were side by side and holding each other, but there was freedom for them to each occupy a metaphorical opposite end of the room when apart. 

As he had access to all of her thoughts, emotions, and memories, so she had access to his. They were one in the most intimate sense, sharing one mind. 

Instinct prompted the Doctor to caress the Bond to show his appreciation, his affection. They were both still sensitive to it, trying to get the hang of how it worked properly. When they pulled out of the connection and came back to the corporeal world it burned brightly between them. The sky had long since gone dark while they had completed their Bond, and the look in Arkytior’s eyes said everything.