Brazilian Morning

Jo awoke to the sound of parrots crying out somewhere in the trees outside their hotel. It was such a wild and foreign sound, something she associated with television when she was a girl; specials usually accompanied by grainy footage of crocodiles and dark natives in smoky huts. She turned over on her back wondering to herself why something as very Earth-like as parrots should seem so unbelievable and exotic. She'd been on other planets; for pity's sake, she'd even been in another, alternate universe once. The only exotic thing about parrots was, well, that they weren't normally found outside the window of her flat back in Britain. Right? And yet…

They were heralds, she thought, heralds of the new world of Jo Gr…Jones. So what if it was 'only' on Earth? It was so utterly different from Britain it might as well be another planet. And she didn't have to worry about any kind of monster here that couldn't readily be looked up in an encyclopedia. She didn't have to be the completely ignorant one; it was on her home turf, literally. There was a certain freedom in that, a steadiness.

She held up her left hand and turned it in the dim morning light filtering through the wooden window-shutters. The ring was only a cheap one. She and Cliff agreed that it would've been a ridiculous waste of their resources to buy jewelry when they needed so many supplies - but he had really wanted her to have a wedding ring. His scant money being already tied up, she'd finally convinced him to trade in one of her own old rings, a former gift from her uncle, for a set of used wedding bands at a shop in Cardiff. The other had merely been a birthday gift, this one meant far more.

She adjusted the ring, then turned on her pillow to gaze at the man beside her. He was a creative, handsome, intelligent scientist. And what was even better, she thought, tracing a light finger through his long hair, he was her creative, handsome, intelligent scientist. He shifted in his sleep and she gently laid her head on his chest, listening to the strong, singular heartbeat. And he was human, she thought, inarguably, completely human.

Her eyes looked beyond him, at the strange blue gem that shone on the bedside table, half-hidden by an open guide book about the Amazon basin. All the universe, all the planets, all the civilizations and creatures of creation for all of time. That was what he'd offered her, her other suitor, so to speak. She smiled to herself to think of him that way, the Doctor as a suitor - how he would've protested and blustered if she'd ever said such a thing aloud. Yet it was true, in a way.

A finger of dawn slipped through the cracked shutters and touched the crystal, mysterious, complex and beautiful. She blinked at its depths for a moment, then turned away.

He'd been a suitor for her time and attention, perhaps, but nothing more. A companion, a friend to travel with, yes, but he would never belong to anyone. He could never have given her this, this wonderfully fulfilling and completely human love.

They were a bit alike, her two 'suitors' - but this one… she turned her eyes back to Cliff's sleeping face, his long lashes against his cheeks. Yes, this one was hers.