like the goblin bee

The lights on the flight deck are low now, simulating evening, making a mockery of time. As if anything makes us believe that night has fallen, soft and dark, gentle like a summer evening.

Summer is gone. There is no gentleness here.

I tell myself that once there was. Not here, precisely, but in our lives. In my life. With him. God, how I love… loved him. Tonight I’m less sure, but I suspect by morning I’ll either have forgotten my doubt or reconciled myself to it just as I have for almost a year. In the meantime, I close my eyes, willing myself to believe what I once did--that we will be happy in this new world, as long as we’re together. Willing, because he is so much more than any man I have ever known. He shows me the stars. He embraces the future. He bends Time to his will and rewrites history.

His breath is warm on my skin, his hearts beating a wild rhythm beneath my fingertips. I live for these moments, when the night strips away his driving need to mold his universe and leaves him vulnerable in my arms. His need is palpable, every nerve and fiber tingling with longing. And madness. I rather love his madness. His wild abandon. The way he twines his long fingers in my hair, whispers my name as his lips trace circles against my collar bone. He promises me galaxies that will turn in my hand.

But he’s lying.

I don’t know when I realized just how much he lies, such is his skill. He’s raised prevarication to an art form.

'Tonight,' he whispers to me, one smooth, cool hand encircling my neck as he gazes down at me, grinning, his hair, damp with sweat, all askew. 'Tonight I will show you just how much I love you.'

He won’t, of course. He never has, not really. But I murmur my agreement. There’s no arguing with him when he’s like this. There’s never room to argue because he already knows what I am going to say. So I close my eyes, pretend that the waves of ecstasy will never end, and wait for him to grow too uneasy with my alien flesh to even touch me. He always does, in the end. I might as well be acid.

I wonder what he stares at, there at the window. Sometimes he stands for hours. Sometimes he laughs, but it is without mirth. I long for him to return to my side, but whether he does, or not, I am alone. Alone in this brave… new… world.

I want to go home.

Once, on a night like this, I begged him for a child. Our child. A child of two worlds—this new Earth we find ourselves on, and Gallifrey, long lost in a war he never speaks of, save in his nightmares. I ask him about those dark dreams. He tells me I will never, ever comprehend. He has suffered so many losses. His family is gone. But we could start anew. Surely I could give him that, at least.

Surprised by my request, he stared at me, caught in a rare moment where he had no words. He always has words, quick and easy and laced with honey. His eyes actually brimmed with tears as he began to explain the impossibility of it all, syllables catching in his throat, raw with grief. For the briefest moment, I saw into his hearts in a way I had never seen before, embraced the loneliness there, and forgave him every indignation. Just like I’ll forgive him tonight when he rushes off, muttering about things I can’t even pretend to comprehend, and then later find him brooding. I will never understand the pain that has haunted him his entire life. He is, after all, a Time Lord. He’s ancient and forever, a fire burning in the midst of a raging storm. I am only human. He says I will wither. I will wither and die, and he will live on, and in my heart I know that he will never love me the way I dreamed he could.

I am unworthy of him.

I might as well be dead.

Soon enough, one of us will be.

But I love him. So desperately. So very, very desperately. Surely he knows that. Surely he does love me in his strange way. And he will find a way to keep me at his side until the end of time.


The Old Man sleeps on a bed of straw. When he sleeps at all. For all he sits, passive and silent, he’s dangerous. I know this. Maybe that’s why I take the risk. For both of us. I tell myself it will be worth it. I hope I’m not proved wrong when our clandestine meetings are discovered.

Tonight, I draw close to him, lay my cheek against his knee, and ask him if the stories are true - that leaves shone silver under the light of a distant sun. That two moons rose in an eternally autumn sky. He doesn’t have to tell me. I see the truth of it in his dark, rheumy eyes. That, and so many emotions. Secrets. Sorrow. He turns away as I gently stroke his wrinkled cheek, wishing I could brush away the years with my fingertips. It’s the least I can do, for all he’s done for me.

The Old Man comforts me, but not with words. He rarely speaks at all, such is his concentration. On what, I don’t know. Perhaps just the will to survive. I wouldn't want to, in his place. On rare occasions, he counsels me in hushed tones, whispered cautions deep in the night. Maybe he thinks that I won’t listen to more, that I would laugh at his audacity and spit in his face, just like my husband . But he’s right. He is so… right. He has nothing to do but listen, and I have nothing to do but talk. So, I tell him everything, a penitent at the foot of her Confessor. If he cannot forgive me, than surely I am damned for the part I’ve played in the destruction of the world.

I give away my love, day after day, to the most amazing man I have ever known. That I could ever hope to know. And when he’s bored, he changes me like a glove, but never puts me far from his sight. He needs me too much to stay away for long. At his call I am at his side once more, his twin hearts beating against my breasts as he draws me close and tells me tales of adventures in Time and Space. He justifies past treacheries with words like deliverance and mercy and thinks that I don’t notice. I wonder if he knows that my blind faith has gone, leaving only a slowly sharpening resignation in its place. That would be giving me too much credit, I suppose. Lowly thing that I am. Stupid little ape...

The old man listens to all of this, but says nothing. What is there to say? The only sound in the little hut is our breathing. Then, he raises his head, arthritic fingers pressing against my lips. His eyes are wide. Fear settles like poisoned fruit in my belly. I pray we have not been found out. I pray that I can use the knife I've hidden in the straw.

One of us has to die.