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Paradox

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Before the Moors, Jill would run you to the ground to tell you about the latest episode of Doctor Who.  But maybe that was part of the trouble with Jill: she was always on the move.  Unlike Jack, who had perfected the art of careful and completely stationary observation to keep her dresses spotless, Jill was raised to believe that her safety lay in perpetual motion.  If neither her position nor her velocity could ever be measured perfectly, then maybe her father would never notice how much she was failing to live up to his expectations.

Motion, however, has its limitations.  Jack, in her role as a china doll on a shelf, watched and analyzed and had all the time in the world to think, her restless fingers twitching ever so slightly as she carefully turned the pages of books that she was not allowed to tear or muss.  Jill, constantly surging with adrenaline, tore relentlessly through time and space and was afraid to stop long enough to think.  Jack was the one who planned.  By the time Jill's body slowed in the evenings for bed—the one time of day when she could be still without fearing disappointment—her mind was too exhausted to make any sense of things.

Ironically, Jill would have wanted to be the Doctor's companion.  She'd always liked Rose and Martha and Donna and Amy, and all of the other feisty women who ricocheted around the universe with the Doctor, always in motion even if sitting still within the TARDIS.  She somehow intuited that the Doctor wouldn't care how Jill dressed, or what activities she chose to do in her spare time.  She imagined that the Doctor might like her for who she wanted to be, that he might still want her to be his companion, regardless of whether she wanted to keep her hair short or wear a dress.

(It never occurred to Jill that such unconditional affection was what parents were supposed to feel for their children.  Jack quietly read books about families who loved their children despite their occasional differences in opinion, and something flickered within her that what she and Jill had was wrong.  Jill, by contrast, was only ever given books about brooding, destiny-burdened orphan-heroes, fighting violent battles for glory; Doctor Who was an aberration because her parents assumed it was appropriately sci-fi for their tomboy and never bothered to watch it with her.  Other than her blurry, painful memories of Gemma Lou—before her betrayal, before she decided that she didn't love her granddaughters enough to stay—Jill had no clear indication that her parents were doing anything other than what parents were supposed to do.)

But a pair of twelve-year-old girls cannot be blamed for not thinking clearly upon arriving in the uncanniness of the Moors.  The blood-red of the Moon overhead, defying science, pressing ever downwards to crush those below, has driven many a sensible child into a state of sheer, mindless panic.  Jill cannot be blamed for not having considered that a true Doctor might not embody the slim, tweedy attractiveness of a David Tennant or a Matt Smith.  She cannot be blamed for thinking that a TARDIS must always appear in the form of a mobile blue police box, nor for never imagining that a Time Lord with plenty of work to do in one particular time and dimension might opt for something more sedentary—say, a windmill.  And she most of all cannot be blamed for the fact that the Master, with his menacing politeness and sleek allure, brought blood pounding to Jill's temples with terror and awe, her heart rate spiking in the manner that had always reassured her that she might actually be wanted by those obligated to protect her.

(Jack, by contrast, did not need for her heart to constantly race, to feel like someone might be willing to accept her.  She also had no preset expectations about sonic screwdrivers or the appellation of "companion" instead of "assistant."  She left with Dr. Bleak to save her sister from the Master's unfair comparisons, and while Dr. Bleak was more gruff and practical than his whimsical television counterparts, he made Jack feel as welcome and accepted as any Doctor's companion had ever been.  He finally put her restless mind to use; taught her the names of all of the brilliantly colored flowers on the Moors; demonstrated that Schrödinger had been right about the hypothetical cat's being both dead and alive at once—lightning, apparently, provided useful clarity as to which state should come into prominence at any given moment.)

If Jill was honest with herself, she had always been somewhat fascinated by the Master who presented himself as Prime Minister.  Of course it wasn't nice of him to have unleashed the Toclafane and killed a tenth of humanity, but it was fiendishly clever of him to have harnessed the power of the TARDIS as he had.  If not for Martha, the Master might have won, with the Doctor nothing more than a shriveled creature in a cage watching on as the universe bent to the Master's will.  Jack had been raised on literature of kindness and mercy, but for all Jill was able to glimpse of the Doctor's goodness and virtue, the currency by which her childhood fictional worlds was ordered was that of brute strength, an ongoing Melian Dialogue in which power became tantamount to justice.  Her Master—the Master of the Moors—was as powerful as the Master on television, and he was kind to her.  Jill, having always been blind to the degree to which her parents subjugated her will to their own, was equally blind when the pendulum swung fully in the other direction under her new protector.  Out on the Moors, in the safety of a windmill that glared back at the bloody Moon and signaled any danger to its Doctor through a silent dialogue, Jack slowly recalibrated to a new, self-discovered version of herself that was not hyper-feminine but not exactly masculine, either.  Jill, finally convinced that she was as loved and cherished and desired as her tomboy persona never could have been, seized the offered silks and gemstones and did not question if moderation might have been wiser.

Time and space operate differently on the Moors.  A year slips through one's fingers at about the same frequency as in our world, and yet there are more snags in the weave there than here.  Dead bodies may be sparked into reclaiming their former status among the living.  Doors may be jolted open between dimensions at will.  Beings that know neither aging nor death pace the battlements under the soft red moonlight, or howl in the frigid cold of the mountains, or placidly sip vodka beneath the bay as they wait for the next hapless chocolate-laden ship to drift overhead.  Jack knew that Dr. Bleak was not one of the immortal beings, that she would one day take his place when time had overtaken even his fearsome, clever mind.  It did not occur to her that the world of her childhood was being fed a simplified version of things, until she and Jill huddled on opposite sides of Jill's childhood bedroom on a miserable rainy afternoon.

"They got it wrong," Jack said dully, staring at the TARDIS on the poster above Jill's head.  They had been back from the hospital for only a few hours and were waiting for the police to arrive for another round of questions, and Jack suspected that Jill's old room décor would disappear within the day.  "Time Lords don't regenerate.  They pass on responsibility to their chosen assistants when they die."

"Companions," snapped Jill, who seemed to be attempting to replace her missing layers of silk skirts with as many blankets as she could manage.  "They're called companions."

Jack sighed and stared at the ceiling.  She knew that she had been far more than a mere assistant to Dr. Bleak, that he had cared for her as he would have cared for his own daughter.  She wondered about the other children who had actually returned to their world of origin, the ones who—willingly or at the behest of showrunners—had dramatized the Doctor as an immortal being, poised against a deathless Master in an unending battle between good and evil, with all of humanity at stake.  She supposed she could accept regeneration as a plot device to keep audiences interested in one continuous character, even if the truth was messier and more heartbreaking.  Better to treat the discrepancies as a fiction that could swallow the reality whole, than to wallow in painfully accurate memories of her lost home.

Jack and Jill could not bear to be apart from each other, but they also could not stand each other's presence.  The hospital had given them thorough exams and washings, after the police checked them over for forensic evidence, but dried flecks of Alexis's blood still were visible under Jill's long fingernails.  Jack shuddered at the sight, then stood to retreat to Gemma Lou's room, knowing that it was only a matter of time until Jill followed her there.  But as she passed by the playroom, Jack paused.  Their younger brother—the toddler who was a complete stranger to his older sisters—was being watched by one of the neighborhood girls that Jack and Jill had known growing up, and she had the television on.  Jack watched as a spritely blonde woman in a trenchcoat and suspenders leapt into a TARDIS, a bevy of companions at her side.  And Jack clenched her fist within her glove, longing and determination surging fiercely within her.  A year.  Jack could survive a year.  She closed her eyes, sensed all around her the big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff that could be prodded and molded and wrenched apart, with just the right amount of patience and concentration.  Perhaps her sister would never become the ruthless, power-hungry, bloodthirsty Master that she had dreamt of becoming.  But Jack would return to reclaim her rightful place at the windmill, as the Doctor's next incarnation.  The Moors had chosen her, after all.  And the Moors would always need a Doctor.