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Braxiatel in Loathing

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Finally, mercifully alone in his office, Irving Braxiatel had time to think.  Although being able to think without being observed by others was the only part that was a mercy.  He sat at his desk and sighed.  He so wanted to go home, but he could not go home.  His new home-away-from-home here was not even home anymore.  Invaders, The Axis, had disturbed the sanctity of this “home” and shaken his hold over his dominion to its core.  So now he was only left with the pitiful delusion of control.  Pathetic for an exceptional Time Lord such as himself.  It turned out that he could not even keep one single, proverbial blade of grass in place on this once-carefully-manicured, opulent rock-floating-in-space he had carved out for himself.  He wanted to leave this place so badly and go back home to lick his wounds.  The more he thought about it though…  Home for him, which was why he felt it so acutely in this moment, was not so much a place as it was a person…  Romana.

Her, the only person in the cosmos he would voluntarily leave himself bare to, though he really had yet to…  Then again, had he not literally left himself vulnerable, outside of the relative safety of Gallifrey’s transduction barrier, to any and all physical attacks as they came in the universe?  Which in turn, left him vulnerable to the most painful of assaults onto himself: forcing a grim self-examination.  The results being that he knew that no matter how much he planned, how much he thought himself ahead of the curve, he could always be caught off guard.  And, oh, how he had been.  Shamefully revealed tender, intimate secrets about himself that he had even yet to begin to impart to the true object of his reverence!  The only person who he should have been able to remember, through the outside, mind-altering influence of anything at all, was the only person worthy of seeing him and all his…  What was it Bernice has said…?  “Flaws and foibles”?  He was not ready to think back on that impossible speech yet though.

The bottom-line was that he could not allow this to happen again and yet it very well could!  It was terrifyingly possible.  He knew that he had not been himself then.  He knew that he had fought the thrall of it as best he could every step of the way… But he still had been made to betray her.  He had “loved” another!   And oh, he had reveled in that illusionary proxy.  It had been so easy, so pleasant for once to be allowed to finally use the pretty words gathering in his hearts over the centuries and better yet, to have them returned by their receiver.  But knowing in the back of his expansive mind that the kindnesses and sweet nothings were meant for another…  The impossible lie had, and still did now looking back on it, nearly driven him insane!  He could not stop himself.  And already having the influence of another, more ancient and toxic lady occupying his headspace, along with all the other demons of his inadequacies…  Widely broadcasted such weakness was not good. 

He cringed knowing that her toxicity had influenced the level of possessiveness and taken the reins during his little pheromone induced romp into the role of a besotted lover.  He did not have to imagine what would happen if that tainted, unglued, prying passion were actually to be unleashed on both his and Pandora’s true target.  Braxiatel shuttered at this newly realized level of his bad, compromised situation.  Especially when considering it compounded with whatever else the universe could and would throw at him in the future next.  He understood now, more than ever before, that he was an imperatively absent vanguard of Romana, and yet still the one greatest threat to the only woman he could ever truly love. 

Yes, as twisted as his mind had been warped or he had allowed it to be warped…  As much as he sometimes doubted it in his hearts, Irving Braxiatel knew love.  Because love is not love when it is forced and he knew the time lady whom he loved had certainly never forcibly thrust love for her or affection for him upon him.  No, and even the denialist, the egotist in him, was beginning to suspect that Romana never would.  But, so long as she would almost admit to being his friend and confidant, he would deleteriously cling to whatever scant forms of affection Romana would unwittingly and mercifully bestow upon his pining hearts.  Confidant as he may well consider himself, he would give anything to truly, candidly speak to Romana right now… To confide in her just how violated he felt by his “ex-fiancée”.  But no, his only comfort, the only solace he would have for his ravaged soul was that what remained of Veronica Bland was now planted firmly on his desk inside his capsule and would be a menacing blossom in the wind no more.  Yes, despite the alien shrub’s trespasses against him, he would see that her every need was met.  She would be protected, just as he promised her.  Though he knew that every time he watered the plant with so many delicate, lovely petals, he would be thinking of another’s rosy completion he would rather shed his own droplets from his eyes upon rather than the water from his watering can.  How could he not at the thought of being the sole caregiver of this cruel reminder of the heights of intimacy he would never, and yes, thankfully would never, have with Romana?  In that moment, his hearts had to push down his impending tears for Romana’s tenderness and for her understanding to save him as he nearly did when he wept in front of everyone and Bernice who were invited to his sham of a wedding.

Dearest Bernice, things always did come back to Benny.  The clever archeology professor had ended up being his savior in Romana’s stead.  Professor Bernice Surprise Summerfield would never know the extent of how grateful he was as she, in her own unpolished way, bought him time enough to break the spell Veronica and her pollen had him under.  He half wished that he could extend this substitution for Romana, naturally, only to the extent of fully confiding his woes to Bernice…  But Benny had already made it clear that she, not unlike Romana, thought him devoid of any semblance, any capacity of romantic, selfless love.  Why ruin the mystique?  And certainly why waste the time of dispelling the myth just to put Benny in a place where she might hear him out without looking at him with judging, sideways eyes?  It was frustrating, but an evil of his own making, the perception that the man with two hearts had none at all. 

Indeed, truly at his age, Irving Braxiatel had given up on finding anyone else for him.  However, that was only because he could not love anyone else but the President of his fabled non-existent Hearts…  And Madame President never would reciprocate those feeling for him.  The Great and Powerful Irving Braxiatel was the victim of the deepest, oldest unrequited love of all time and space.  It was fitting considering that he was the owner of the grandest repository of the known universe’s greatest works of art…  He was residing there, on permanent loan from his home planet, as Gallifrey’s artistic interpretation of the Greek god, Anteros’, most breathtaking masterpiece.   A title he almost bore proudly if only for Romana’s safety’s sake.  But no, Benny would never believe that, for the one relationship not formed entirely for his own optimized, selfish gain, he had faithfully remained celibate until now …  More terran cardinal than gallifreyan in almost every sense of the word, because if he could not be with Romana, then he would not be with anyone. 

Braxiatel gave a faint laugh to himself.  He could not even feel entirely comfortable confiding in himself aloud in this private, ornate office, purposely designed to be as comfortingly contrasting as possible to the stark offices of the Citadel…  Not since he learned that that plant, now sitting across from him on the Louis XIV furniture “reproduction” of a desk of his, could actually hear him.  Well, she could hear him perfectly if not for the noise-canceling glass dome the unique rose was sitting under.  It did not escape him how like the French’s “The Little Prince” it was…  Only in his case, it was a sad, little king on a sad, little planetoid with only a rose to confide in.  Then again, what was a king forever without the only queen of his hearts by his side?

Briefly he looked to his mirror and for once wished that his cursed future self, who had yet to ever lead him down a happier trail, would appear.  Appear and tell him it was possible that he could find his way to a timeline where he could freely worship Romana and she, in turn, would worship him.  Partners and equals in their genius, even if one were President and the other Chancellor.  But he and his selfish desire to bring order to the chaos of the universe had already seen to it that that would never happen.  That was done when he had dethroned his queen against her will to save both her and himself from a timeline where Romana ceased to live.  Cursed future knowledge of the path Gallifrey was going down dictated that he had to sacrifice all such dreams and attempts at happiness.  And so he, master and servant of his future counterparts, destroyed any chance of even the most fleeting of dreamy happiness for himself on Gallifrey and Romana.

A light flashed from one of his many bookshelves, interrupting his melancholy musings.  His capsule was his office and his office was his capsule and so he knew what that particular light meant and who was trying to contact him.  He was half tempted to ignore it.  Then the thought of how rumors might have circulated back home and how they may be taken entered his mind…  Thoughts on how Romana might interpret such salacious intelligence…  There was nothing for it in light of that and so he was forced to overcome his asocial inclination.  He summoned the will to get up from his desk chair and walk over to the other side of the room. A pulling of a book on his massive, wooden bookshelves built into his walls, a twisting of a rococo wooden carving on said shelving later and his office suddenly had a prominent capsule console in it!  A monitor screen, front and center, then flickered to life and there was the face of his brother impatiently waiting in his own TARDIS’s console room.

“Hello, Doctor.”  Braxiatel greeted quietly, knowing it was slightly out of sorts to refer to him by that name when in private.  It would certainly arouse suspicion in his little brother, but Braxiatel just did not have the will or the patience to purposely start a fraternal tiff with him.  The Doctor guessed that this was not a sign of goodwill and very much the tones of a near-defeated man.  Not exactly an encouraging sign in light of...

“I had called to express my displeasure of not having been invited to your wedding, Brax.  I was going to crash the ceremony and let you know as much, but then I learned from getting the time a bit wrong that you are still the eternal, swinging bachelor.  So I suppose, no harm done.” The Doctor commented.  The Doctor’s hearing was amazing, superior to many species.  However, even The Doctor could not be 100 percent certain he heard right when Braxiatel commented under his breath that his remaining single was, fundamentally “not by his choice”.  At any rate, Braxiatel then replied louder and rather deceptively blandly.

“Yes, there was a strong objection against the lady.  One that involved certain plant life from the Fourth Moon of Glossula--”

“Ah, say no more.  Nasty allergens, among other things…”  The Doctor kindly interrupted.

“Yes...” Braxiatel simply replied, grateful for the mercy.  It was in that moment that his brother’s seemingly oblivious demeanor dropped and he revealed that maybe he did understand some of the depth of his brother’s suffering. 

“I wish you would let me help you free yourself from Pandora, Braxiatel.  Surely two Lungbarrows could figure it out.”

“And surely two Lungbarrows, if they fell under her control, could figure out how to destroy all of Time Lord Society.  I would rather not find out.” Braxiatel grouched.

“Well, then.  I can at least happily report to you that word of your cancelled nuptials has not reached the Capitol and I only eventually heard about it by way of Bernice.” The Doctor assured.  Braxiatel gave no indication of his infinite relief in hearing it other than by nodding.

“Then I suppose you have not been home recently?”

“Apart from Romana and Leela, and a few rare exceptions, there really isn’t much of a draw for me there anymore.  Besides, there’s so much to see out there in the universe.  Who has the time?” The Doctor dismissed in a manner meant to make Brax feel better about the fact that he could never go back by diminishing the lure.

“Still…  You might regret it one day if you don’t make more time to visit home.  For both our sakes.” Was all the more Braxiatel would dare hint to his brother about Gallifrey’s tentative fate.

 “Well, if and when I do return to Gallifrey…  I will certainly send your regards to all our mutual friends.”  The Doctor promised.

“Thank you, Doctor.” Braxiatel replied.  The Doctor was about to take that as his cue to end the transmission, but then Braxiatel spoke again.

“And Doctor…” Braxiatel began.

“Yes?” The Doctor was curious now.

 “If you see Romana…  Tell her I…” He paused as if really thinking on it. “Tell her that…  Since I’ve left home, I don’t always succeed, but I do try to consider what she would think of my actions…”

“I think I can manage that.” The Doctor answered simply and Brax nodded before ending the transmission himself.  Braxiatel sighed and uttered the last part he could not say to his brother or to Romana by messenger.

“And so long as I continue to have freewill, I will never stop loving her.”