"Closer to death than anybody else, that's what the two of you are when you're with the Doctor", the outlandish woman with a vivavicious mop of blonde curls (and the most inconvenient tendency to flirt with said man at every opportunity) had once told Seunghoon in a sad whisper. True, the woman was already dead and thus, had every right to offer up her insight and wisdom but the rose-tinted glasses he wore prevented him from seeing the true danger of travelling with the bowtie-wearing stranger.
When he started popping into the extraordinary blue box at regular intervals, he expected adventures in planets that are so far and so different from his tiny one. His answer when the Doctor asked the irresistible question of “In all of time and space, where would you like to go first?” was simple: to ride on the back of a triceratops (well, the trip ended with them running for their lives from a menacing-looking creature half their height). When he wanted to visit the Harry Potter themepark in Japan, the Doctor pursed his lips into an annoyed line before deciding to “upgrade” his wish to a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the world of Fillory (“once-in-a-lifetime” because he almost died in the hands of the moth-head monster). And yet, he kept coming back because the blue box was the safest place in the endless universe but it brought him to more thrills and adventures than he can ever imagined; there was just no way anyone could go back to the tedium and monotony of everyday life after experiencing the kind of things he did.
He could not imagine travelling without his boyfriend too so Mino came along with him on the travels and before long, they ended up staying in the blue box. It didn’t take long for the Doctor to get used to the presence of his “snogging companion” because if anything, Mino and the Doctor were more similar in character than with him. It has been a year since they left their home in Seoul, a whole year of getting used to the Doctor’s quirks and the many detours the TARDIS seemed hell-bent on sending them on, along with the too-regular occurrence of having to run away from angry creatures – a year Seunghoon and Mino would never exchange for anything in the universe.
The delight and the comfort Seunghoon found in the company of his boyfriend and the Doctor shattered in the face of the truth. Now, he could finally understand why the universe hummed with the insistent cry of “The Doctor’s hands are stained red with the blood of many” in the darkness and in the bright places.
It happened in a blink of an eye, in the gap between each beat of the thudding organ nestled in the left of his chest. Somewhere between the Doctor’s loud chirping of “Hello hello, we come in peace!” and the safety of the blue box, he had turned back for a second when in that moment of blind-sidedness, the arrow had flashed past him and speared Mino’s left arm.
This is the story of how Seunghoon lost Mino and found him again, against all odds.
“It is a very old poison, much older than the Time Lords. The Aguliarian race has been known for their fatalness so there is no known antidote for their poison. But! We do not travel to search for the known, do we? There is an antidote somewhere … or in some time period but we just have to find it. A brand new adventure, just for your snogging companion eh? I bet he will be excited!”
(Rule no. 1: The Doctor lies.
Rule no. 2: Sometimes he doesn’t mean to.)
It’s been weeks, at least that was what Seunghoon assumed (time has a way of slipping from his hands, returning to him in ways he hasn’t expected when travelling with the Doctor) and so far, nothing had happened. No news is good news, he told himself and he clung on to the brightest hope the situation allowed him to have, fervently keeping his mind off the worst kind of possibilities.
Sometimes, his fingers unconsciously trailed down to Mino’s wrist, ghosting over the blue veins visible on the skin and trembling slightly at the reminder that in those tiny veins and arteries lie a time-bomb, shredding his own heart to pieces if it goes off. But Mino will always notice and he will always draw the fingers away to his lips, kissing each one slowly before pressing his lips to Seunghoon’s lips.
No one voices the truth that the poison is still coursing in Mino’s body, riding on waves of blood but no one also stopped him from laughing at the trashy shows he watches on the inter-galaxy cable channels and from sulking whenever the Doctor beat him in a game of laser table-tennis. Seunghoon’s fear for the worst slowly lessened till there was none and his heart burst with the confidence that Mino and him can indeed grow old together.
The Doctor had been strangely quiet and evasive for the most parts of the weeks, choosing to fiddle with the control panel and avoiding any sort of interaction with anybody, except when he brought them to the Space Woozy Theme Park where all laws of gravity are defied and Mino had run wild and delirious with excitement and marvel at every single thing, like a kid let loose in a toy store on Christmas Day.
If Seunghoon had ignored all the signs, it was only because Mino took up all of his attention: picnics on mountaintops, snuggling under blankets as they watched the setting turquoise suns of the Belajad planet bleeding pretty tints of blue, green and grey into the sky, killing halographic-zombies (an activity that involved a lot of protests and yelling from Mino) and many, many intimate moments in the privacy of their bedroom.
(But there are times, in the middle of sleepless nights, when Seunghoon stumbled into the main control room to find the Doctor staring intently at the screen with eyes clouded by forlorn guilt and framed by sad worry lines. At these times, the air in the TARDIS felt heavy like it was weighed down with the fragments of past companions’ timelines, brought alive only by the Doctor’s sadness.
Always at such times, Seunghoon’s heart weighed heavy with dread.)
In all of the time Mino and Seunghoon spent together, they never would have thought that the Aguliarians’ cruelty lay not in the swift fatalness of their poison and the Doctor hadn’t thought to let them know that the ancient race had perfected the art of destroying their enemy: filling them with hope and then taking it away in a crushing act.
That was the Doctor’s worst mistake.
On that fateful day, the Doctor had brought them to an uninhabited planet, only after making sure that it was indeed empty of any living creatures, dangerous or not. (Seunghoon had insisted and had frowned at every of the Doctor’s grins and thumbs-ups through the screen, much to Mino’s amusement, before relenting to the small picnic.)
The scenery took their breath away as they emerged out of the TARDIS on a small island in the middle of a gorgeous sea with luminous lilac waves softly lapping at the sky-blue sand, all under a perpetual midnight-blue blanket of white clouds and starry hosts so bright that not even the city lights of the busiest city can compare.
The splendid beauty around them had an iridescent effect on them, especially working like a mistletoe on the couple. Lips molded together in a sweet kiss (perfect in a slow and lingering way) and their forehead pressed against each other’s. A loving smile was not the only thing they shared after breaking the kiss; there were a sense that the whole of their eternity was encapsulated in the short kiss and a conviction that infinity was etched so deeply into their intertwined hands, it was as if the lines on their palms had foretold of happiness and longevity.
(A loud groan and many grumblings sounded from the Doctor but they ignored him, all wrapped up in their bliss; he owed them this much anyway.)
“Lemon tarts! I baked Seunghoon’s favorite lemon tarts, so good that he’s going to marry me after eating them.” Mino had exclaimed in the middle of their picnic with a bright grin. On his way back to the ship to collect the tarts, he directed a little wink at his boyfriend who merely replied with a roll of eyes and a small smile that only the Doctor managed to catch.
The small smile quickly disappeared when just a few steps in front of the TARDIS, Mino collapsed.
bluedreaming, your turn!