There is more than one kind of trip. And sometimes one has to know when to let go.
A first time story.
Written: January 2008. Word count: 1,166.
I did not know it at the time, but I was instrumental in bringing them together.
I had been watching their world for, what was a mere blink of the eye for me, but for those who inhabit their world, three lifetimes.
I had been watching and waiting for the right time.
I had been watching and waiting for the right person.
That is why I had come to their planet. I had come 'shopping' for a partner. A mate. A lifetime companion.
Most of my kind find a partner quickly, but I have always been known to be difficult to please. Some say I want too much. That I want the impossible.
After all the time I had spent watching, searching, trying to find him, I had begun to think they might be correct.
Indeed, I had nearly given up hope when I met him.
The older man. The doctor. The man who want by the curious name of 'Ducky'.
The man whom I soon considered to be my Doctor.
And once I had seen him, once I had studied him, once I had observed him for a year or two, I knew I had found the right person. The right man for me. The man who would be my companion until the end of time itself.
And in accordance with protocol, I reported the fact back to my home world.
And once reported, I had to fulfill my mission. My Doctor, and no other, would return with me. And as is our custom, a time limit was placed on me bringing him home.
Now the time was running out.
I had tried, in theory, many times to be successful in fulfilling my mission. I had made tentative plans, but it never seemed to be the right time. Something always got in the way. Something always stopped me. Something always prevented me from doing what I knew I must do.
With less than what passes for a month on earth, I knew I could not afford to wait any longer.
And so I planned – but this time not tentatively.
However, things did not go according to plan.
My Doctor had promised his mother a birthday tea, and my Doctor always keeps his promises. However, on the day he was due to go shopping for what he considered to be the necessities, he had a slight accident. One, I regret to say, that was caused by myself. He tripped and hurt his ankle. Oh, not badly, just enough to ensure that his balance would be a little more unsteady than usual. Thus making things easier for me.
However, rather than continuing his shopping trip alone, as I expected him to do, as I was waiting for him to do, as I had planned for him to do, he asked his friend, the younger, taller man – Jethro – if he would be so kind as to accompany him on the trip.
Jethro agreed; which I confess surprised me. I had been watching him too, it would have been impossible not to have done so, given how much time he spent with my Doctor. And I had not seen the side of him that would agree to such a – non-Jethro thing. And yet maybe I had. He does, after all, call my Doctor 'Duck'; he is different around him, softer, gentler, less acerbic. Nevertheless, his acquiescence, his acquiescence without any hesitation, troubled me. It troubled me because I did not understand it.
I who am older than time, older than nature herself, I who is wiser than the wisest men and women ten times over, I who have brought cities to their knees, continents to extinction, I who have the ability to make anyone what I wanted them to be, I did not understand.
I watched them, my Doctor and Jethro, leave on their shopping trip.
I watched them and again I planned.
And as I watched them, something told me I needed to act and act swiftly.
So I did.
This time when my Doctor tripped, his injury was not going to be slight. In fact had it not been for the swift reactions on the part of Jethro, my Doctor would now be with me.
I watched him crouched on the ground next to my Doctor, holding his hand, stroking his forehead, barking orders, keeping away anyone else who dared to offer assistance.
I followed them to the hospital and there I watched again.
I heard Jethro tell the person who tried to keep him from my Doctor's side that he was my Doctor's next of kin. That he was my Doctor's lover. But he was not. I knew that. I had been watching them both for long enough. I would have known had they shared that level of intimacy. He was lying. Jethro was lying. However, the person to whom he told the lie stopped arguing with him and let him be with my Doctor.
Some hours later I observed them in my Doctor's room. He was lying in a bed with machines attached to him; machines that were making irritating noises. And Jethro was still holding his hand.
"Jethro." My Doctor spoke softly, hesitantly almost. "Why did you lie?"
Jethro again brushed my Doctor's hair from his forehead. "Did I lie, Duck? After all, what's a lover?"
"Jethro?" My Doctor sounded as puzzled as I felt.
And then to my surprise, my horror, my disbelief, Jethro leaned forward and kissed my Doctor. He leaned forward and kissed my Doctor.
That happened several weeks ago and still I wait. Still I watch. Still I remain.
I should ignore what happened and act.
I should return home with my chosen.
I should return home to take my rightful place with my Doctor at my side.
But I shall not.
I will not.
For he is not my Doctor. He belongs now to Jethro. He is Jethro's 'Duck'. I think he always was.
So instead I shall report my failure.
My punishment will be a lifetime, my lifetime, on this planet.
As I watch them together touching, kissing, joining, being, becoming one, I know.
I know I have made the right choice.
And I know something else too.
I will cease to search for another – the only way I could avoid the retribution of my failure - because nowhere will I find someone who is as right for me as my – I am sorry, it has become a habitual phrase – as his Ducky, as Jethro's 'Duck', is for Jethro. And as Jethro is for my, for his, Ducky.
Had I known before what would happen, would I have –
I turn away as their intimacy grows.
I cannot watch any longer.
I must not.
There are some things that I, that I who knows all of truth, all of beauty, must not witness, for fear that I will sully it.
Farewell, my Doctor. And fare well.
I leave you in the safest hands I could ever know.
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