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The New Old Me

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Folk wisdom says that Time Lords who commit suicide regenerate into the opposite sex. Theta wonders if it's true. The Academy professors always say it with the lilt of a warning, something to be feared. "Now, don't do anything rash (you young, stupid children, mind-battered and stripped of comfort), or else you'll turn into a boy, you'll turn into a girl, you'll turn into something you're not supposed to be (and you wouldn't want that, now would you)."

She flinches whenever someone calls her a Time Lady. She wears her hair cropped close to her skull, hoping that people will understand the signal. (They never do.) She's forced to wear women's robes to her classes, but underneath she wears men's trousers and heavy boots. She thinks her roommates are a little bit afraid of her. Her best friend Koschei is in love with her, but she can't love him back, not right now and not like this. Maybe later, maybe if she didn't want to rip off her flesh and skin, maybe if she changed. But maybe then he wouldn't love her anymore anyway. Real love is supposed to live beyond shape and bodies and form, but this isn't just regeneration that she wants.

She doesn't like pain (that why she's going do this), so she spends a lot of time pondering the best way to die. Something painless, something glorious. She decides on an omega ray energy pulse and sets to work building an omega ray converter. It is appropriate that her transformation comes from her hands, her device.

It takes two weeks to construct, and when she finishes it, she doesn't hesitate, doesn't think. She's had eighty-five years to think, and she knows what she wants. If it doesn't work, she'll waste a regeneration, but change is always risky. The excitement of the moment, standing on the cusp of something new, overwhelms any fear she may have. The golden-red light of the omega ray converter, whirling and sparkling around her, is the most beautiful thing she'll ever see with these eyes.

The professors have an emergency meeting shortly after they find him. He's upset their order. They have to assign him rooms in the boys' dorm now. He requests to room with Koschei, and to his delight, Koschei agrees, although he still has trouble looking at his new friend Theta (the same but not quite as his old friend Theta). Still, Koschei says all the right things. "You look good this way, Thete. It suits you." Whether Koschei means it or is just saying what he thinks Theta wants to hear, either way it means that Koschei is still a friend.

His new body isn't exactly what he expected. Change takes some getting used to, and it doesn't happen overnight. Every once in a while he looks down, places his hands over his hearts, just to feel the flat chest. Restrooms remain awkward for a while. The girls act like he's betrayed them (he mourns this; he likes the company of girls), the boys act like he's an interloper.

The whispers in the corridors never stop. "That's Theta Sigma. She killed herself." When he overhears, he corrects them. "He. He killed himself." It was always "he," even if no one could see it before, even if he himself had trouble seeing it sometimes under the softness and delicate curves, now burned away.