“Oh, look at you,” the Doctor says; there's a smirk on his face and his eyes are wide with excitement. He closes the door to Jeff’s bedroom softly, his presence filling the room without hardly moving.
He still smells like smoke and ozone and that little something else from when Jeff had first met him – from when the Doctor had gotten in close, bobbed up and down, sizing him up as he talked of space ships and incineration.
“You’re an old one,” he says now. “Maybe even older than me?”
“I’m older than a lot of people, Doctor,” Jeff says. “Though I’m young still in the eyes of a few.” While the Doctor’s been gone, while Amy and Rory have been making their wedding plans, Jeff’s been calling around and he’s talked to more than one immortal who’s run into the Doctor. Jeff says, “From what I hear, though, time is something of a toy for you?”
“For me,” he pauses, takes a step closer, his knees hitting Jeff’s bed, “time is complicated. Tell me, old one, what is time to you?”
Jeff leans back against his headboard, thinks about his answer. He knows the Doctor isn’t from earth, knows he travels in a blue box that’s supposedly bigger on the inside (if Duncan MacLeod were to be believed). He knows the Doctor can change his face, can rally armies with just a whisper, and has toppled governments and empires (if Methos were to be believed). But looking at him, really looking at him – he looks so young.
(But then – none who’ve lived as long as either of them are ever what they appear to be. Jeff appears to be nothing more than a mild-mannered man living in his nan’s spare room. No one knows that she’s more like a daughter to him – that he had found her lost and screaming in the woods when she was still a child. He had taken her in, clothed her and given her the best education his money could afford. He vetted all her suitors, chasing away any immortal and pre-immortal who came near her.
She had asked questions, of course, and he had answered them – had told her the truth of what he was. And she had accepted him wholly. And when she settled down with her nice, normal husband, Jeff left for a time – checking in first through letters, then through email, then through text. And when her husband passed with time, Jeff moved back in – playing the prodigal grandson.)
“Time is change,” Jeff says crossing his arms over his chest. “I’ve been a barbarian and a Viking and a pirate and everything in between. But you,” he points his finger, “you dance across time and space; leaving broken hearts in your wake.”
“And what makes you say that?” he asks, his voice light.
“Who do you think had to console poor Shakespeare after you left?” (Well, it hadn’t been himself; the task had fallen to Duncan – that Immortal had a heart much bigger than Jeff’s.)
The Doctor laughs and shakes his head, “Ah, yes. I wish I could’ve stayed longer. I always meant to go back to see him.” A quiet moment passes between them before the Doctor looks back up at Jeff from where he’s been studying Jeff’s floor.
“What are you looking for?” Jeff asks. “Why are you here?”
The Doctor’s lips twitch before he says, “I’m looking to not be the oldest one in a room. Just once, I want to feel young again.”
Jeff sees it the longer he looks at the Doctor – his face his young, but his eyes are old. They’re the eyes of one who’s seen countless beginnings, and countless endings. “And how old are you, dear Doctor?” Jeff asks, sitting up and pulling his long legs off the bed – offering the space to the Doctor, who slowly sits.
“I don’t remember,” he says, his elbows on his knees and his palms rubbing together. He looks over at Jeff and asks, “Do you?”
“Per my Wikipedia page, a bit over 2000,” Jeff says. He laughs at the Doctor’s look of surprise. “One of the benefits of being the one to stop the Roman army at the Rhine, to give them their first border – they write your name down.”
A calculating look flashes in the Doctor’s eyes, then there’s recognition and then awe. “Arminius,” he says.
“Just call me Jeff,” he says as he offers his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Doctor.”
Whenever Amy and Rory get the itch to return home, the Doctor makes sure to visit Jeff.
Jeff who’s also been Billy Bones and Percival and Asbjorn and, first and foremost, Arminius.
Jeff who pulls the Doctor close to tell fantastic stories of the Caribbean and pirates long lost; of King Arthur and Merlin and all the knights of Camelot; of going as far north as he could and it still not being far enough. Of tricking the Romans into thinking they could ever control Germania.
The Doctor feels himself falling under the Immortal’s sway – and he finds he doesn’t mind much. He finds he minds even less when Arminius pulls the Doctor into his lap, chuckling into their first kiss.
When the Doctor pulls away, he licks his lips – tasting strawberries and rum and chapstick and it all lingers on his tongue.
“Oh, hell,” the Doctor whispers, leaning heavily against Arminius before kissing him again and again. Arminius pulls him closer so that their bodies were flush, groaning, the sound of it coming from deep in his chest and reverberating between them.
“I’m old,” the Doctor says, flicking a switch angrily as the TARDIS settles around them. The last trip hadn’t gone well (again) and he had had to draw on all his capabilities to pull them out of the fire (again). Amy and Rory share a concerned look that the Doctor very pointedly ignores. “I’m old,” he says again. “And I’m very, very tired.”
“Doctor,” Amy starts. “Are you alright?”
The Doctor looks at her and then he’s turning away and he’s heading towards the door; ignoring Rory calling his name. Opening the door, he sees Arminius – standing right there, waiting, just like he said he’d be. And as soon as he sees the Doctor, Arminius opens his arms.
“Come here, young one,” he says, his voice a mix of teasing and being a gentle order.
The Doctor goes immediately and puts his head against Arminius’s chest, pushing into the soft jacket the immortal is wearing. The Doctor needs something, but he’s not sure what. What he told Amy wasn’t a lie – he is tired; he’s tired down to very his bones. The type of tired that he’s never given into before because there’s always been someone who’s needed protection, there’s always been someone to save. But now, finally, there’s someone who’s far older than he is – someone who he can lean on.
“I need—” he starts.
“I know,” Arminius interrupts, pressing a soft kiss to the Doctor’s hair as he holds him up. “I know.”
Then the Doctor’s eyes are slipping closed; he hears Amy and Rory questioning Arminius (they’re still calling him Jeff, asking him what he’s doing with the Doctor, how he knew where to meet them, when this started).
The Doctor opens his eyes just long enough to lead Arminius back into the TARDIS and down to his own rooms.
There, Arminius takes him apart over and over – rough and quick, giving neither of them time to even think; Arminius takes him apart until the Doctor feels bare, feels stripped apart and vulnerable with his mind blessedly empty. Then, slowly, Arminius puts him back together again with soft words and gentle kisses.
When the Doctor wakes up, he’s still curled around Arminius.