Charlene III

The pale yellow liquid shimmered under the flickering light from the fluorescent desk bulb.  The Doctor’s hand passed through that light and toward him.  “Marcellus, you have done well.  Now, your compensation.”

The fragile recipient of the vial looked toward the the Doctor, but away from his eyes for he knew better, and simply said: “Thank you lord.  Thank you.”  He grasped the bottle, tightly.  Then placed it into his pocket for safe keeping.

Adorned in a high Elvis collar cropped from the top of a dark black jersey, the man called Doctor studied Marcellus’ eyes, then inquired: “Too early to talk about the next one?”

Marcellus felt his heart sink deeply into his stomach.  The next one… the next one?  Of course it was too soon.  This last one had been different.  He cared about this one.  And completely.  She was so willing, so filled with desire.  It’s always the same with them: a lifetime of longing, of wanting, of wishing it might just be… just this once.  And then Marcellus arrives, steps in as the final glint of hope begins to flicker out.  If he were to write about it, he would have included a white horse and blinding burst of light trailing his entrance.

“Too soon lord?  Of course not.  I am here.”

The Doctor assessed.  Could he be trusted?  Or was the last his final time?  He knew that this one had been different.  That he had broken the one single rule of this game.  He could not ever, under any circumstance, care.  Caring was to be the final chapter.

“Marcellus… I had grown so accustomed to your last name.  So much so that I might like to use it once again.  Do tell me though, all about her.  Tell me about your… love… for her?”

Marcellus understood what was happening.  No, this can’t be.  “Lord, there was no love for her.  I was merely doing as asked.  Doing my job.  And you see, I have done it well.  I convinced her.  You see, this is my mastery.  I am good at this job.”  And then he looked up slowly…

… and into the Doctor’s eyes.  “She was just a job to me.  Only a job.  I’m ready for the next one.”

The Doctor pondered.  Considered.  Marcellus was the best at this game.  The best he had known.  But perhaps it had run its course.  As was always custom.

The Doctor spoke: “Marcellus… you have served me well.  Instruct them to give you the next name.  Continue.”

“Thank you lord, thank you.”

But then the Doctor warned: “If you see her, if you go back to her, if you tell her… then you understand what that means, Damien?”

“I understand.”

“Silly girl.  Falling and spilling the money for the beggars to take.  Pathetic.”

Damien walked slowly away and toward the door, murmuring under his breath, “Pathetic… pathetic…”

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