C'rizz wasn't sure if he felt comfortable doing this. He wasn't part of the Church of the Foundation anymore, he didn't even believe in their teachings any longer, and yet it felt like blasphemy to put on his monk's robes and beads and do this. But the Doctor had said it would help, that sometimes the best way to get over things that mattered a lot to you was to turn them into a game.
"Well," he said awkwardly. "Normally - I mean if you actually were a sinner come to confess, you'd kneel. But of course you needn't - " he stopped in mid-sentence, because the Doctor had nodded and smiled and dropped onto his knees right in from of him.
He was still smiling encouragingly. "What do I call you?"
C'rizz took a deep breath. "Brother C'rizz, but to perform absolution, I should be a priest. You should call me Father. And... and kiss the hem of my robe... Doctor, I think this might have been a bad idea."
"Not at all," the Doctor said gently, and bent his head, picking up the hem of C'rizz' robe with one pale, slender hand to bring it to his lips. He kissed it reverently, closing his eyes as he did so, and whispered, "Father, I have sinned."
Automatically he fell into the routine. "How long has it been since your last confession?"
Laughing softly, the Doctor kept his head bowed. "A long... long time."
"Son." C'rizz frowned, it felt wrong to address the Doctor this way, knowing that he was far older than C'rizz, but this was the way it was done. "Are you of the Faith and the Truth?"
The Doctor hesitated a moment. "Lying is a sin," C'rizz said sternly. "And so is contemplating a sin in the presence of a priest."
"Then I have sinned. Again." He could hear the slight smile in the Doctor's voice. It angered C'rizz against his will, this contempt for the sacred rules of his culture.
"This will add to your punishments."
"Punishments?" The Doctor looked up curiously, but with no trace of fear or disapproval on his face. In fact, he simply looked intrigued, as he always did when something new and strange came across him.
"Later. Have you other sins to confess?"
"I'm not sure where to start, C'rizz... I mean, Father."
"You are faithless?"
The Doctor shook his head emphatically. He seemed to treat the interrogation as purely intellectual now. "Oh, no, not at all. I have my own beliefs, and I stand very firmly by them."
"Have you abused the name of the Holy?"
"Many times. Many places. And, ah, many Holies, I guess."
This was not going well. One such confession merited penance, but the Doctor seemed to fail in every aspect. "Have you shown disrespect to your elders, and to those above you in station?" He could already guess the answer to that question.
"I generally show respect where it's earned."
"Have you acted against the Law?"
"I have." Now the Doctor's voice turned grave. "I've stolen. I've lied. I've killed. I... oh, I've done so many things. And I have broken the Laws of Time. I nearly destroyed the universe by creating a paradox."
Sighing, C'rizz went on. This one at least should be safe. "Have you committed sins of the flesh?"
The Doctor's expression turned thoughtful, then he seemed to lose himself in reverie, a smile playing over his lips. "I think... I might've, yes... why just recently, in the Netherlands, fourteenth century, I posed for a painting - very boring, posing for paintings, you have to stand around or lie naked for hours! - and I'm afraid things got a little bit out of hand with a few of the other models and the master's apprentices. All very energetic young men, and I was already sprawling on that table - "
"Oh, I'm sorry." He had the grace to look a bit sheepish, but not in the least ashamed. C'rizz pictured him, as well as he could imagine a Time Lord naked, sprawling wantonly - no. C'rizz's voice was hard when he asked the final question.
"Do you wish to repent?"
It gave him a sour stomach to say it, but at least it would end this travesty. "Then I absolve you of your sins, Doctor."
The Doctor cocked his head to the side a little. "What about my penance?"
C'rizz laughed at that. "For your sins? It's not just prayer, Doctor. Let it go."
"I didn't expect it to be prayer, C'rizz." The Doctor's voice was velvet, his eyes hooded. "What is my penance?"
Numbly, C'rizz turned around and stared at the wooden chest on his shelf. He unlocked it, and from the pieces within selected a cattail whip. The leather was old and dark, yet the thinner tails were still smooth as he ran them over his palm. "Flagellation, Doctor," he said quietly. "If you were a believer, you would administer the punishment yourself."
He turned around to find that the Doctor had shed his velvet jacket and his neck cloth and was busy unbuttoning his shirt - still on his knees. Shrugging out of the white fabric, he was now naked down to his trousers, belt and shoes. His species was different, all soft skin, and a dusting of hair on his arms and around his navel, and two small pink nipples on his chest. He was lean, but his thin skin did not hide the muscles of his shoulders and back. "Give me the whip, C'rizz," he ordered softly, without raising his eyes.
Almost without thinking, C'rizz handed him the instrument of his punishment.
"How many?" the Doctor asked calmly.
One for each sin, C'rizz thought, but feared that that might kill the Doctor if he really was so mad and went through with it. And yet he wanted to scare him enough to stop this. "Forty-nine strokes."
The Doctor raised his face to smile up at C'rizz, and he seized the whip firmly and swung it, letting the leather tails bite into his skin. He did not scream, hardly even winced, and pulled the whip back slowly. Only his eyes were slightly unfocused.
"Count for me, will you, C'rizz?"