The Old Wound
Entered 11:08:41 PM Terra, Sol-III Mutter's Spiral
"Why is it that I only see you when you are in pain?" the miko asked with a small smile, sitting casually on a large, flat-topped stone that overlooked the shrine's small lake, sakura petals floating in the air around her as she spoke.
"Perhaps it is only pain that brings me to this place," the Time Lord replied, the scenery lost on him utterly, as he reclined against the hard faux metal / plastic surface of his TARDIS, seated on the ground, staring at the dirt between his feet.
He did not even meet gazes with the miko, wrapped up in a fog of his own doubt, pain and sorrow.
"The old wound," he exhaled slowly, unconsciously pressing a hand to the right of his chest, wincing as the bandages under his shirt tugged against the gash that had cut him clean through only a week prior.
The miko had found him, back then, staggering from his travel machine, which had landed rudely on the sacred grounds in front of the temple. He had been covered in blood, his very life gushing from his chest, dropped to the ground, in pain, fighting back death, but all the same wanting to die.
She had tended to him, eschewing her ability to heal him with her spiritual power, and instead staunching the wound, letting his body take its own time to heal. She knew that to make his flesh whole now would still leave his mind rent asunder, and that that wound would be covered over, never healing, ever eating at his very soul.
So she forced him to convalesce on the sacred grounds of the Akasaka Hikawa Jinja, with nothing but the crows, the grass, the breeze, and her occasional visits for company.
It had been a week, and yet the cloud of pain remained.
"I am... no stranger to betrayal," the Time Lord began slowly, tiredly lifting his weary gaze to meet that of the Miko's. "I have been abandoned without cause or explanation, left to the wolves of fate, and even poisoned by those I considered dear."
He felt his heart. "But this--" he began, almost forcing the words out of his throat. "This cut the worst." His head sank. "Stabbed, through the heart."
The miko stood, walked next to the TARDIS, and placed a consoling hand on the Time Lord's shoulder, her blue eyes strangely lacking their usual intensity. She chose to remain silent, to allow him to vent his thoughts.
"I have had many friends over my long life," the Time Lord finally continued at length, looking out over the shimmering surface of the lake some meters away from him. "But none as close as this one. All I wanted was to share my knowledge, my time, my life, to take my friend across the universe that I have seen and adored for so long..."
The miko nodded, applying slight pressure to his shoulder to urge him to continue.
"And it was fine for a time... for a long time, in fact...." the Time Lord continued. "It was a wonderful synergism... until, unbeknownst to me-- things changed. Priorities shifted. My friend, who was so enthralled with our trip across the universe, suddenly tired of it all."
The Time Lord pressed a hand to his right heart, almost enjoying the cutting pain that resulted from the pressure. "There was a furtive attempt some time back, you know..." he said with a sad half-smile, looking up at the miko with an almost pleading expression of sorrow. "But I ignored the obvious signs, chose to believe that it was a mistake, something that could be rectified, fixed. I should have realized, even then, that--"
Taking a deep breath, the Time Lord focused on the middle distance, then stared up into the cerulean blue sky, wishing for once he were amongst the clouds. "-- that it had already ended. That our association had turned from a mutual exploration to a one-sided, stupid, pathetic sideshow on my part..."
The Time Lord looked away, at nothing really. "...that I had already been cast aside for the flavour of the moment, that the die had been cast, that the knife's blow--" he touched his chest again, "--was already in motion."
"The final strike," the Time Lord exhaled, looking into the miko's saddened eyes once again, "was merely a formality, you know." He nodded, ostensibly at her, but more to himself. "A way of letting me know in no uncertain terms what I should have been smart enough to deduce."
"Perhaps," the miko ventured slowly, reasoning that the time was now right for the establishment of a dialogue, "this betrayal hurt you the most because you had such high hopes."
The Time Lord did not break his gaze. "But I think it hurt the most because it was a rejection of myself, of everything I was, and stood for. I was tossed aside... so rapidly... so quickly. It made me question... whether our travels together really had held any impact whatsoever."
He looked up into the sky again. "Rassilon, was I such a fool?"
"No," the miko said firmly but gently, standing, her robes rustling in the wind.
"Observe." She produced a small quantity of bread from within the generous sleeves of her kimono with her right hand, and pointed to two crows with her left. The birds were hopping around, amicably preening one another in the shade of a sakura tree.
"The best of friends," the miko observed.
The Time Lord nodded.
The miko tossed the bread in between the birds. Instantly, they leapt up, cawing loudly, flapping their massive wings and jutting their beaks at one another, each trying to prevent the other from reaching the food.
"But they cannot help themselves," the miko continued as the birds fought for a moment, settling down after a time. "They must act according to their nature. It is not..."
Her voice trailed off for a moment as she sought the correct word. "...personal," she concluded. "They do not mean to fight, to hurt, to cause each other pain. But they must do..."
"...what they must do," the Time Lord realized, watching the birds once again enjoying the shade in relative peace, their heads darting to the left and right as they watched their watchers keenly.
"Yes, this I was told, as I bled, and watched, helpless. That there was sorrow, grief, pain. But the truth of it, which I did not have the hearts to say--" he winced at his own pun-- "was that while my friend had grief and pain, that would be all-too quickly soothed by the new happiness they had chosen for themselves, a new happiness, a new whereas I would be left broken and alone, to bleed, with nothing but my blood-soaked memories for solace."
He shook his head and looked at the ground with narrowed eyes. "Do I even warrant a fired synapse these days," he muttered to himself under his breath. "Same old story, remixed to a modern tune for the modern age. Why did I think things would ever change."
"Such is the path you walk," the miko said softly, walking in front of the Time Lord and kneeling to meet his gaze eye-to-eye. "Betrayal and sorrow and solitude are your constant companions," she said slowly. "But that path will end," she said firmly, placing a hand on his shoulder. "One day."
"When I die," the Time Lord said bitterly, more acidly then he perhaps would have liked.
"You can either let the world hollow your soul," the miko replied sternly, locking gazes with her friend and then standing, the Time Lord's own gaze rising to follow her face, "or you can face the pain, and move onwards, by force of will, rejecting that which would destroy you."
"I will, of course," the Time Lord muttered sadly. "I'm too stubborn to just give in to depression. Too stubborn to quit, to just curl up and die. I live for the sake of living, to spit in the face of fate, to declare my superiority to the machinations of the kami, or whoever chooses to so mock me."
He stood slowly, the wound still aching. "But at the end of the day, I live to face my memories, to bury each harm of the past only to have it resurrected anew, and fate still has it's laugh. I prolong my own torture."
"When fate laughs at you," the miko replied with a smile, "you must laugh louder."
"I may have forgotten how to laugh," the Time Lord replied quietly.
"Preposterous," the miko replied sharply, turning abruptly, her kimono sleeves whipping around her as she walked off, the discussion at a curt end. The Time Lord was somewhat taken aback, she knew, but she also knew, that one day, there would be a time when he would laugh again. She privately hoped it would be sooner, rather than later.
And as the Time Lord watched his friend go, he sank back down into a sitting position against his TARDIS, and hoped for the same thing.
"The matter of why Doctor Xadium's Time Capsule is fixed in the curious shape of a 'beverage vending machine' from late 20th-century Earth [Humanian Era 607934] is a subject never broached in polite conversation. Ever. Whilst some have scurrilously posited that Xadium cannot properly effect the repair of a simple Type 60 Chamelionic circuit, it is generally accepted that these disgraceful innuendo are slanderous and utterly unfounded."
- Lord Sendrilmetavanskastaron, "The Gallifreyan Renegades", thirty-eleventh ed.
D O C T O R
"Doctor Xadium was an errant Time Lord whose overactive sense of humour at High Council meetings earned him a more or less permanent holiday from Gallifrey.
Stuck on Earth trying to cobble together a new TARDIS-- but equipped with nothing more than the technological equivalent of bear-skins and stone knives (as well as some metal tape)-- he decided to use his time to follow the myriad trends in Terran society, studying their crude, primitive laws and laughable attempts to improve themselves scientifically.
Aproximately 26 Earth-years into his exile, in order to offset his growing frustration with the 'self-involved, short-sighted, bombastic ape-monkeys with delusions of grandeur"', he took to irregularly recording his more sardonic-- or dare we say even cynical-- views on the ever-progressing devolution of 21st century human civilization (not to mention his own petty irritations) in his 900-year diary, excerpts of which we have extracted from the data core of his notoriously insecure Terran 'computing device' (which in terms of function is slightly less advanced then a Gallifreyan child's first number line).
It is almost refreshing to note the ceaseless amazement he displays at the Terran propensity to supress any information, be it political, archaeological or scientific, that gets in the way of their pedestrian, self-absorbed world-view. It is for this reason that historians have labeled Doctor Xadium 'The Discoverer of Obvious Truth'
- Lord Sendrilmetavanskastaron, "The Gallifreyan Renegades", thirty-eleventh ed., WHO IS GOING TO GET SUED ONCE I GET BACK TO GALLIFREY BECAUSE HE DOESN'T REALIZE MY SUB-ETHER NET CONNECTION STILL WORKS AND I CAN SEE THE ABSOLUTE RUBBISH HE'S SPEWING FORTH OVER THERE AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE GALAXY
T H E