Pebble by pebble, she built thirty-two years of regret and hypothetical situations from nothing into a mountain that swayed to and fro in the wind. It threatened to overwhelm her, bury her beneath a crushing weight of guilt, imagined or real.

Doctor Tom - he saved her from being buried alive one of these days. "The best way out is always through," he'd say on a given Tuesday, quoting some famous person or another, and she'd nod her head or snap back with some remark, but at the same time, filing it away for future reference.

She knew things now, after meeting him; she knew that she could take charge of the destruction of her mountain, not leaving it all to chance. She could fly to the top of the mountain and throw the pebbles of regret to the ground, watching as they broke into thousands of millions of tiny pieces.

And then she'd fly back down and start the process all over again, his sage words of wisdom echoing in her ears the whole time, acting as a guide.

Thanking him would be almost impossible - after all, how could you properly thank someone who had changed your life so completely? A thousand cheap platitudes, a hundred token gifts, the prospect of either seemed so insignificant in the grand scheme of it all.

A smile tugged at the corner of her lips - a knowing smile, as if she was the cat who devoured the canary for dinner - as she slid a lock of hair behind one ear and pressed her lips to his cheek, feeling the coarse stubble that lined his features. For a man who seemed to have lost the world, the unspoken promise of her companionship was the best she could offer.

It could be the start of something new, something she could form without the looming shadow of her past regrets bearing overhead. And if something were to happen otherwise, she would have the knowledge now to deal.

Thanks to him. Always thanks to him.