Eighth Doctor/Fitz Kreiner, Doctor Who
Spoilers: I run through a lot of Eighth Doctor Adventures book canon very, very quickly. Take from that what you will. Also some brief mentions of the new TV series but nothing specific.
He’s just this guy, you know?
(Okay, a little less succinctly—The Doctor: Time Lord, travels through Time and Space in a big blue box called the TARDIS, doesn’t so much die as take on new-looking bodies & personalities, tends to like landing on Earth and having humans for travelling companions. Huh. Can’t think why. If you’re at all into sci-fi, you’ve probably heard about him due to the new series starting up an’ all.
Alternatively, go here or here for a slightly more thorough look at over 40 years of canon. Er, good luck with that?)
He’s pretty. He’s also the first to really blatantly blow that whole “asexual” idea out of the water. (And you thought ship wars were bad? Ha! Even getting to the possibility of shipping is an upward climb in this fandom!) Played by Paul McGann in a one-off made-for-TV movie (and then in a bunch of audio plays), and using his likeness for the BBC books, this Doctor is really quite difficult to pin down and characterize. Gleeful and boyishly charming one moment, the next he could be beating somebody up, inspiring his companion or chewing out the new Big Bad, or losing his memory (again). For me, one of his defining moments comes from the movie: in the park, in the middle of a conversation about his past, he starts hopping up and down lightly and says “These shoes! They fit perfectly! Yes…” And then he promptly runs away.
(Thanks to Steve Hill for this image.)
Yeah. Definite case of ooooh, the shiny, this one. Then again, he’s also the incarnation who keeps getting blamed for blowing up his home planet and/or seriously coming *thisclose* to destroying the Universe. He’s also, if you’re going to go about giving individual incarnations a single adjective to characterize them, the Amnesiac. Are you surprised if his personality is a little unstable?
One of those humans that the Doctor likes to cart about with him; unusually, Fitz is a guy. He’s also the longest-lasting companion in the BBC books, and that makes him one of the longest-running companions ever. Fitz was born in the 1930s to an English mum and a German dad, lived in London, and was still getting crap about his German heritage into adulthood, leading him to use the nom de plume Fitz Fortune when singing in bars. His mum went a little insane (aliens were involved, natch), died horribly in Fitz’s introductory story, and the Doctor and Sam—the female companion at the time—took pity on him and brought him along for the ride.
Fitz smokes, plays guitar, and tends to pretend that he’s a cooler person than he is. These things are vital to understanding his character. Well, I say they are, anyway.
Even in Fitz’s very first book, The Taint, he and the Doctor start off smashingly:
[The Doctor] blew softly into a wooden recorder. A mournful rendition of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ sounded around the echoing room.
‘Give me that,’ said Fitz. ‘I object to the slaughter of innocent tunes.’ He played a coruscating eddy of notes up and down the scales, finishing with a quick rendition of the chorus of ‘Please Please Me.’
The Doctor stared at him, agog. Then he snatched back the recorder and returned to the control panel. ‘Rubbish,’ he said.
Not much later:
[Fitz] glanced over at the Doctor, who was looking grim.
‘Fitz…If I don’t come back…’
Fitz swallowed. ‘Yes?’
‘There’s a metronome in one of the cabinets at the back there. It’ll help you keep time.’ He tutted, and went through the TARDIS doors. ‘Your rhythm was terrible…’
[The Taint, Michael Collier, pp. 230-31]
Things are not all peachy keen right away, though, even if these two are already dab hands at the banter. Fitz feels left out and jealous of the relationship between the Doctor and Sam (why yes, sounds a bit like Mickey Smith, doesn’t it?), and when he’s not falling for a girl on every planet/space station/rock/what-have-you, he’s probably landing himself into some seriously stupid trouble. If he’s not actually doing both at the same time, because Fitz is just special that way. In Revolution Man by Paul Leonard, not long after Fitz has joined the TARDIS crew, he actually leaves for a while, gets brainwashed by the communist Chinese government, and almost assassinates somebody, forcing the Doctor to finish the job for him. A few books later—Interference by Lawrence Miles—the Doctor still seems leery of trusting him entirely, which gets Fitz into all kinds of more trouble. Seriously, this is all far too complicated to get into here, but check out the books for the full story.
In any case, over time Fitz becomes a more integral part of the TARDIS crew, and the Doctor begins to believe in him more in return. In the very book where Fitz shags alternate!Sam (I said he had a thing about the girls, didn’t I?), he also shows an early inkling of just how much he cares about the Doctor, going so far as to temporarily give up smoking.
Dark!Sam: ‘I’m not going to be impressed by you being sweet and wholesome.’
‘This isn’t for you,’ [Fitz] shot back. ‘This is for the Doctor.’
[Unnatural History, Kate Orman & Jon Blum, p. 84]
Fitz’s relationship with the Doctor also changes after Sam leaves and a new female companion, Compassion, joins them. Compassion remains fairly distant and aloof from the two men, while they just seem to grow closer to each other.
Fitz stared, unsure what else to say. The hunched shape looked so vulnerable that Fitz wanted to stoop down and hug him until the pain went away, until the shaking stopped and the real Doctor returned.
Later in the scene:
The Doctor gave him what might have passed for a reassuring smile, but it wore off as he studied Fitz. ‘Are you eating properly?’ His smile returned as Fitz adopted a familiar look of exasperation.
‘I waited for an hour in that damn cable-car station. Every time another crowd of goons appeared, I had to go and hide. Man, have I seen plenty of the service pit in that place. When I heard the gunfire, I hopped on the first car out of there. Then you scared the crap out of me by dropping through the roof of this heap, looking like you’ve taken a pasting from the pros, but all you’re worried about is if I’m feeding myself.’
The Doctor shifted uncomfortably in his seat as Fitz paced furiously around what little space the cabin afforded him. ‘I’ll take that as a “no”, then.’
Fitz hunkered down in front of the Doctor, peering up worriedly into his hooded eyes. The Doctor offered him another thready smile, reached behind Fitz’s ear, and produced a bruised red apple. Fitz shook his head. The Doctor considered the fruit, sucked his teeth, winced, sighed, and put the apple in his coat pocket.
[Frontier Worlds, Peter Anghelides, pp. 11, 12-13]
Now, a lot of stuff happens that I shall happily gloss over because it is far too tortuous and mind-bending to get into here. (Besides which, it’s been ages since I’ve read those books and I can’t bring myself to reread them.) Suffice to say, the Doctor destroys his home planet (for the first time—he does that a lot this incarnation), loses all memory of who he is, and spends over 100 years on Earth, alone, living a linear life like any other ordinary being. His friends leave him alone for that century, hoping that the time will help him heal. Throughout all those years, he only has one clue about who he was: a note scheduling a meeting with a certain person in the year 2001. Yes, that’s right, the Doctor waits over a century to reunite with Fitz.
(Okay, so Fitz only has to wait a couple days to see him, but hush. We’re going for the heartstrings-pulling melodrama here.)
Their friendship is only more cemented after this point. Fitz is the guy who has stuck around through everything, and he continues to stick around even when the Doctor decides to bugger off and his other friends stop believing in him. In The Year of Intelligent Tigers, the Doctor wants to get the humans and the tigers to talk to each other and work together. So he goes off to work with the tigers, trusting Fitz to take care of the human side of the equation while he’s gone.
Fitz proves how much the Doctor's rubbed off on him by creating a series of concerts in order to stall the bloodshed the other humans are planning against the tigers. (His reaction as the first concert’s going, and he’s working out the logistics of it in the meantime, is brilliant: Blimey, he thought, I did this? I made this happen just by talking to people and getting them interested?...Blimey.) This book also continues the musical connection between Fitz and the Doctor, first noted in The Taint. In two historical “breaks” from the main story, taking place during the Doctor’s century alone on Earth, the Doctor is haunted by a song that he knows he didn’t write.
On the ship Sarah Gail in 1935, after picking up the violin for the first time:
Out of the meandering notes forms a haunting six-note melody, calling to them. Rising and falling and bending upwards again. He lingers on it, adding slides and grace notes, toying with the phrase like a child rolling a sweet round in his mouth. He meanders away from it, embroidering on the rhythm, turning the notes on their head, then always looping back to the same six-note thought. A questioning phrase, unresolved.
—Woss that, then?
—Don’t think it’s been written yet. I’ll let you know when someone does…
At a Tibetan Buddhist temple in 1962:
Through the gates of the southern side, Subhardradis follows the familiar echoes of a soaring, bending, six-note melody, played on the man’s battered Western violin….Over the months Subhardradis has heard that familiar fragment of melody grow, vary, expand into hints of sustained recognizable song, as the man feels his way through more and more of it—a song that the man always claims not to know, though he’s sure that he can’t claim credit for writing it.
Finally, at the very end of the book, Karl—a concert conductor who has fallen in love with the Doctor (while it’s never said what all these two get up to when not in rehearsal, there are hints)—comes across Fitz playing his guitar on a hill.
When Karl was close enough to make out the melody, he stopped to listen. Fitz nodded at him, but didn’t stop playing. Six notes that rose and fell in a pulsing curve.
Sail on, sailor, sail on,
Still listening for your siren song;
Tomorrow is your only home…
The voice trailed off, the hands kept playing for a few more bars, rounding out the chorus. ‘I never could come up with a last line for that bit…I suppose it’s kind of fitting, in a way. That it’s not finished.’
‘Why is that?’ said Karl softly.
‘It’s about him. I wrote it about him a long time back now, before…before we met Anji. Maybe one of these days I’ll play it for him again.’
[The Year of Intelligent Tigers, Kate Orman, pp. 45, 146, 214, 271]
“Before,” Fitz says, and hesitates. There’s a lot of different ways he could have ended that sentence, a whole wealth of personal history between himself and the Doctor, that would have made no sense to Karl or anyone else. These two men have been through a lot with and because of each other. This bond they have goes so far as to be noted by other characters, particularly other companions who travel with them. “Anji wasn’t sure how to respond. Fitz claimed a subtle observational power bordering on the psychic where the Doctor was concerned. Sometimes it got on her nerves” (City of the Dead, Lloyd Rose, p. 22).
The Doctor, too, has grown fonder of Fitz. He’s also grown more dependent on his friend, particularly since he lost his memory. In Time Zero, Fitz has decided to have a more normal sort of adventure, by going to Siberia with some other explorers in the year 1894. This exploration, according to the newspapers and other official reports of the time, ends in disaster and death, including the death of Fitz Kreiner. Neither Anji nor the Doctor is willing to accept this.
[The Doctor says,] “…A shadow of the TARDIS passing back through time in the form of the ice-TARDIS.”
“And how come I was inside it, then?” Fitz wanted to know.
“I think you survived because neither Anji nor I would admit you were definitely dead.”
“Thanks. I mean that, actually.”
The Doctor grinned suddenly, and punched him lightly on the shoulder.
[Time Zero, Justin Richards, p. 243]
Finally toward the end of the run for the EDAs, Fitz and the Doctor come about as close as they can to declaring undying love for each other. While in The Blue Angel by Paul Magrs, Fitz actually admits to himself that he’d like to shag the Doctor, in this book the emotional connections are a lot stronger for both characters.
Before we get all deep, though, we have the infamous bottom dream.
He was standing in the TARDIS console room, facing the main doors. And he was naked. That wouldn’t normally have bothered him, apart from the fact that he could feel something cool touching his buttocks. The fact that he knew it was another pair of buttocks was slightly disturbing. But knowing – in the way that you do in dreams – that they were the Doctor’s buttocks was just too much.
But, of course, as it was a dream, there was nothing he could do. He was rooted to the spot, rubbing bottoms with the Doctor.
‘Doctor,’ he said in the awkward way that you do when you’re cheek to cheek with your best friend. ‘I take it that this is all very symbolic.’
‘Don’t worry, Fitz,’ said the Doctor, a hint of a smile in his voice, from behind Fitz’s head. ‘I don’t think it’s what it looks like. Or feels like.’
‘That’s a relief,’ said Fitz. ‘Not that you don’t have a very nice bottom, but... you know...’
‘It’s OK, Fitz. I don’t think this is your subconscious telling you anything about your sexuality.’
[Halflife, Mark Michalowski, p. 129]
Now, due to Whacky Plot Reasons™, Fitz and the Doctor have exchanged a few personality traits. This leads to the Doctor swearing a lot and dying for cigarettes, and Fitz reasoning out what is going on and rushing in where angels—and Fitzes—would normally fear to tread. For once, Fitz well and truly gets to be the Doctor: he figures out how to save the day, and then he gets to explain it all afterwards. It also leads to a fair amount of introspection on the Doctor’s part, something he is only rarely given to do.
The Doctor gave Fitz another shove, but his friend was being irritatingly – and familiarly – obstinate. He felt an unaccustomed tightness in his chest, a pounding of his hearts that he knew with cold clarity was fear. Proper fear. The kind of fear that other people felt all the time when they were around him, when he dragged them into his escapades. He felt he ought to be grateful for this weird melding of him and his best friend – how often do people genuinely get to experience the emotions of someone else, first hand? He wondered how Fitz was feeling, tried to remember how he would normally feel in circumstances like this. Presumably – although his whole being was currently threaded through with a cold filigree of anxiety and jitteriness – he’d be calm and collected. He glanced sideways at Fitz, squinting, trying to see if he could see anything of himself in the set of Fitz’s face, but Fitz’s expression was blank, unreadable. Calm. He tried to ignore the sudden flush of envy and pride that welled up hotly inside him.
[Halflife, Michalowski, p.225]
This interchange is also a perfect time to show how long these two have been travelling with each other, how comfortable they are with each other, and how well they know each other. So well, in fact, that even the guest companion of the book can figure it out: “Calamee suddenly got the weirdest impression of the Doctor and Fitz doing some sort of strange little double-act. 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” (p. 197).
Not only does the Doctor get to be all proud of his best friend in this book, but Fitz also gets to be protective of his best friend. The Doctor still doesn’t remember what happened on Gallifrey, anything about his past, all of it. And Fitz? Thinks that’s for the best.
‘Because he doesn’t want to remember.’ Fitz gave a gruff little laugh. ‘Understandably. I don’t know quite what’s going through his head – although I suppose I should, seeing as I’ve got bits of him in here with me – but he has his reasons. I know that now.’
‘Can you cope with knowing these things, when he doesn’t?’
‘I don’t think I have much choice. Now that I know, I don’t want to unknow. Does that make sense?’ If he could have shaken his head, Tain knew, he would have done. ‘Maybe it’s just evening things up a bit – he’s had some heavy stuff to carry around. Now it’s my turn.’
[Halflife, Michalowski, p. 268-29]
Oh, and the Doctor really did kiss Fitz long before he ever met a certain Cap’n Jack:
The Doctor stood up, a look of amazement on his face, and then to Fitz's considerable surprise he bounded over, grabbed his head and planted a kiss squarely on his lips. "Oh, Fitz! Fitz, Fitz, Fitz! I'm so glad you're alive!"
Fitz staggered back, overwhelmed. "Glad to see you too." he murmured, feeling himself blushing under Professor Nagel's stare of amazement and mirth.
[Dominion, Nick Walters]
There is a noticeable trend in modern Who-dom to have everyone love the Doctor. Maybe it’s not so surprising since they’ve taken to hiring cute/sexy/broody/etc. actors to play the character (though I know some people do find Billy Hartnell in all his aged glory quite attractive so that doesn’t totally explain the shift). The Doctor as a character is the most overtly sexualized he’s been since, um, well, holding hands with Romana in Paris 1979 or making sheep’s eyes at Cameca. Nonetheless, everyone seems to be obsessing about how fascinating
Of course, Fitz Kreiner also seems to want to compete with the eighth Doctor for that title. And he doesn’t do too shabbily, either.
So, all that said, what is the attraction for this pairing? What could possibly be interesting in reading about two men juntering about the cosmos together, bantering with and caring for each other? How could it possibly be fascinating to see 27-year-old Fitz Kreiner—layabout with a nicotine addiction and penchant to slide back into a fantasy world when the real world becomes too complicated—grow up and change in the Doctor’s company, and to see the Doctor himself grow up and change in his friend’s company? The Doctor, after all, isn’t necessarily capable of taking care of himself by himself.
“Is it?” Anji blew her nose. “Why does he inspire such loyalty? Why do we think we ought to be helping him and looking out for him?”
“Because he’s good,” Fitz said simply. “He’s bigger than we are, somehow. More full of life.”
“If he’s so big, why do I feel like he needs protecting? You do, too. Sometimes it’s like he’s your little brother.”
Fitz smiled at the idea of being an elder brother to the centuries-old Doctor, but he didn’t contradict her.
[City of the Dead, Rose, p. 31]
These two characters become scarily co-dependent, really, so wrapped up in each other’s lives that Fitz can’t even think about leaving the Doctor, and the Doctor would very probably starve to death or set himself on fire if Fitz wasn’t around to worry about him and remind him that he can’t brood all the time.
‘Don’t worry, don’t worry. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe.’ The Doctor returned the valve to his pocket, studied his cuffs and looked up. ‘I’ll only go back a hundred years or so. Hardly any time at all. At the first sign of trouble, I’ll turn back. I promise.’
‘You really think you’ll be all right?’ said Fitz.
‘Well, in that case, I’m going with you.’
Anji gave Fitz a look that unfortunately did not kill him.
The Doctor raised his hands. ‘I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.’
‘You said it would be safe, so what’s the problem?’ said Fitz. ‘And if it’s
not safe, then I’m afraid it’s totally out of the question. Your choice.’
[Anachrophobia, Jonathan Morris]
The Doctor tends to gather orphans and fellow wanderers about him, and Fitz is no exception. But the Doctor comes to depend on Fitz to an unusual degree (don’t think I’m saying that the Doctor doesn’t depend on all of his companions), in part due to his massive amnesia. In many ways, Fitz Kreiner wouldn't work with any other incarnation of the Doctor; these two characters have grown up with and molded each other. (I seriously think that one of the few ways Fitz could ever leave the Doctor, other than through his own death, would be through watching his Doctor regenerate into Nine.) These two characters protect each other, care for each other, anchor each other in a lifestyle full of massive identity crises and moral dilemmas, and they continue to have a fantastic line in snappy dialogue. What is not to love about this?
Okay, so in Lance Parkin's Gallifrey Chronicles, the last proper Eighth Doctor book produced by the BBC, Fitz seems all set to settle down with Trix, yet another female travelling companion. They even go so far as to get to a different continent on Earth without the Time Lord. Still, by the end of the book they both wind up exactly where they started, in the Doctor’s company. And the Doctor never lost confidence that they would come back for him.
At the end of the day (or, hell, in their case, at the end of the Universe), Fitz and the Doctor are the two who have stuck around with each other through loss, gain, destruction, and starting all over again. And coming from the Doctor—who picks people up & drops them off the way he would spare handkerchiefs—and Fitz Kreiner—who would rather pretend he was Fitz Fortune, or Frank Sinatra, or James Bond, or anyone but himself—that’s damn well saying something.
For a good grounding in the BBC Eight Doctor Adventures (EDAs for short), check out Outpost Gallifrey and the links it provides: here. (I’ve linked to the main site because it’s a really good resource no matter what era you want to research.)
The fic is somewhat sparse for this pairing, since for some strange reason people tend to write more about the TV series’ than the books. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff out there to read.
This listing in who_otp is for pairings encompassing all of Who fandom but includes a section on Fitz/Eight (you have to scroll down a ways). Sadly, a lot of the links seem to have expired, but the stories still available are fantastic.
This listing is specific for fic related to the EDAs and also includes a section on Fitz/Eight (note in the replies that veronamay corrected where to find their fic)
A fannish retake of Paul Magrs’ The Blue Angel (and Fitz still admits to wanting to shag the Doctor) is here
kseda’s Fitz/Eight ficlet for the who_otp drabble tag is here
For a slight change of pace, here are a couple drabbles of Fitz/different-Doctor I wrote for the same drabble tag:
And finally, mucho thanks to doyle_sb4 for her help and prodding while gathering my thoughts on this pairing, and for providing access to many of the EDAs I didn’t have readily available. Also mucho thanks to nostalgia_lj and kseda, even if they didn’t know it, for writing discussion-y LJ posts about Fitz, the Doctor, and the coolness of them together. I had great fun poking back through some of those posts, and all of it inspired me to think more deeply about this pairing.