He turned to me and smiled.
We were standing on a beach, an Earth beach, in a time before people really went to beaches. I wasn't entirely sure why we'd come here of all places, of all times, but I wasn't about to complain. The aloneness of it all was a nice change from the usual.
Not that the usual wasn't exhilarating, amazing, everything I could have wished for.
The white sands were littered with multicolored pebbles and shells, their rough edges smoothed by what must have been, even then, years of relentless waves.
He'd been sifting through this beach debris for several minutes, his attention, as usual, so focused on the task at hand (whatever it was) that I couldn't get anything worthwhile out of him.
"It's not aliens is it? Please tell me you didn't bring me all the way back here for more aliens."
"No, no aliens. Not this time."
"Then what is it? What're you looking for?"
"Something important. Something very important."
Then he'd paused, straightened up, and looked at me, smiled, and held out his hand.
Whatever I'd been expecting him to have, it wasn't the small, perfectly rounded pebble that he held.
"What is it?"
He didn't answer immediately, but I took the stone anyway. Despite myself, I couldn't help noticing how it felt when my fingers brushed against his palm.
Sometimes, it takes so little to make me happy.
I turned the stone over a few times. As far as I could tell, it was a completely normal stone, light gray with black flecks and streaks of white.
"When humans first…came about, before they developed letters and writing, and all those wonderful things…they would give a stone to someone they cared about. The type of stone, its color, feel, weight, all those things expressed how they felt about you."
"So…this stone…what does it…say?"
He smiled again.
"What do you think?"
I closed my fingers over that stone, but all I could think was that maybe its faint warmth was from him.
He watched me for a few moments. Our eyes met and, involuntarily, I tightened my grip on the pebble.
"Go on. Try."
He'd picked this stone out with such care. That alone was enough for me, although I didn't think I could say that to him.
I looked again at the stone. And then, I think, maybe I began to understand.
Maybe finding love, comprehending it, is a difficult as picking the right pebble from a beach.
Maybe the weight of love in your heart is as real as the weight of a stone in your hand.
Maybe love isn't red or pink or any one color, but all colors blended together, equally. While marked with disappointments and disagreements, it is lightened too by the right words, the right moments.
There was so much more I could have, should have said, but I didn't know how. So I stood there, with words tumbling uselessly through my mind and tried in vain to pick the ones that could express…everything.
And then he took a step forward, just one, and somehow, although I don't remember moving, I ended up in his arms.
He'd held me before like this, but this time was different. This time, I could hear his hearts pounding.
I knew that of course but it was still something entirely different to hear it, feel the pulse of it wrapped around you.
Distracted, I barely heard him murmur the words.
"You figured it out then?"
His arms tightened.
"So what does it say?"
Words again. How to find the right words.
Then again, I knew the right words. I'd always known them. I just didn't know when the right moment would be to say them. I didn't know if there would ever be a right moment.
My voice was little more than a whisper.
"I love you."
This time, I felt, rather than saw, his smile.
My first try at writing for Doctor Who...I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. This was one of the most enjoyable and difficult things I've ever written, so at the very least it was a fun challenge. The basic premise of this story, the bit about the stones, is from a Japanese movie called Departures, which you should go see if you haven't already.
Finally, many thanks to my beta, wolfraven80 for reading through yet another piece for a fandom she doesn't really care about, and for putting up with my incessant commas.