Every day in a million days
Some days are special, Wilf thought, taking a seat on his customary bench in the park. And some days are made for sitting about and watching as people pass hurriedly and absentmindedly by. He took a deep breath and held it, wiped a cluster of snowflakes from his brow, and released it on a contented sigh. Some days, he knew, are both. This felt like one of those days; there was something in the air, or perhaps it was the fair wind blowing in from the west, or the way the sky seemed to be just that much brighter… yes, he nodded to himself. Today was definitely a special day.
The city had awakened to a fresh blanket of snow and, though the sudden turn in the weather was not unwanted, it had been entirely unexpected. He was reminded of a phone call he'd received when Donna was traveling on an icy planet with the Doctor—she'd told him that she'd once seen him make it snow ("basic atmospheric excitation," she'd said, her tone lowered in a gruff imitation of the Time Lord's voice. Wilf had seen her half-awed scoff even over the phone. He wished he could still see it now). He sighed again, grinning sadly at the memory, and found himself hoping that the abnormal amount of snow had something to do with the antics of a mad man and his wondrous blue box.
Snow continued to fall softly from the treetops and he settled comfortably into the bench. His gaze wandered, passing over the sparkling mounds of snow, following a tiny bird's flight from tree to tree, jumping from person to person, family to family before his eyes rested on two couples who were seated on benches father down and across the path. At first glance they looked completely at peace, but his many long years (the last several especially—years spent watching his Donna descend periodically into fleeting, masked moments of confusion and distress, pressing a hand to her forehead as something in the back of her eyes, for the tiniest fraction of a second, flickered gold) have taught him to see the small details; to see the truth simmering just beneath the surface.
The couple on the left was so very young, but Wilf could detect an age-old solidarity there that momentarily startled him. The woman—he had a feeling he'd seen her somewhere before—had fiery orange hair (a much brighter shade than Donna's, he thought) and an equally intense gaze, and the man's soft grey eyes, though calm and warm, were vigilant: shifting back and forth between the woman at his side and the giggling forms of two children rolling around in the snow beneath a nearby tree. He had his arm comfortably around her shoulders, and she patted his thigh lovingly as they shared a small, affectionate smile.
Wilf averted his eyes, granting the two a private moment, and moved his gaze instead to the second couple. What struck him first were the wild golden curls that might as well have exploded from the woman's head, and he had to blink distractedly a few times before he could continue with his silent, lighthearted appraisal. He shook his head and smiled softly at how the woman's arm was looped within that of the younger man beside her, their fingers laced together tightly. His brow furrowed, however, as he looked closer; their knuckles were almost white, and he noticed the way they clung to one another in hidden desperation, as if the other would disappear forever if they even slightly loosened their hold. The young man brought their joined hands to his lips, placing a kiss on the back of hers, and as their grip gradually relaxed, their adoring smiles grew.
A sudden shout drew his attention, and he watched as the two children—a boy and a girl— frantically formed snowballs in their mitten-clad hands. It was fairly obvious to which couple the boy belonged: his hair was as orange as his mother's. He turned to wave at his parents, holding aloft triumphantly the endearingly misshapen snowball he'd made, and was promptly whacked in the head with a larger, more spherical snowball thrown by his playmate, the girl's delighted squeals of laughter drifting on the light breeze. The little girl could only be the golden-haired woman's child, Wilf surmised; though the girl's hair was a dark shade of brown—similar to the colour of the young man, who must be her father—her unruly curls indubitably resembled those of her mother. There was something about her, Wilf thought; something in this little girl's eyes. He felt as though, if he looked deeply enough, he could see stars being born—whole galaxies behind her eyes. He'd only ever seen that in one other person, and yet…
He curiously shifted his gaze back to the girl's mother, whose head was resting comfortably in the crook of the young man's neck, and he noticed that she, too, held a timeless, almost otherworldly quality within the depths of her ever-changing eyes. And, despite a nearly imperceptible hint of pain and sorrow, her eyes shone with the experience of ages and an overwhelming sense of joy as she watched her child chase after the boy in the snow.
Wilf looked at the young man closely then, and his breath caught in his throat at what he saw. The eyes were kind—so kind—and dangerously bright; they sparkled in the winter sun and the age in them sent Wilf's heart racing. He saw guilt and grief and love and such happiness; he saw the weight of one who has seen too much mixing with the warming light of a billion stars. The colour had changed and the loneliness that had pervaded them so completely was diminished, but oh, there was no mistaking this—he knew those eyes.
Wilf could do nothing but stare as he looked upon the cheerful countenance of the Doctor. He felt a wetness on his cheeks, but he did not move to dry them. He thought he'd never see this man again, but there he was, on a park bench with friends and a family, and Wilfred Mott could not remember having before seen him so utterly content. He finally wiped the tears from his face and smiled to himself; if there was anyone in the Universe who deserved this happiness, it was the Doctor, and Wilf was so very glad and relieved that he had found it at last.
The golden-haired woman's lips lifted in a slight grin and she stirred, raising her head from its relaxed position to whisper something in the Doctor's ear, and Wilf suddenly realised that he had been staring for quite a long while. As he made to lower his head, the deceivingly young man caught his gaze, and the smile that—after a moment of disbelief—burst forth across the Doctor's face drove away any doubt that had remained in Wilf's mind about the identity of the strange man in the park.
Both men rose and met swiftly in the center of the path, the Doctor gripping the lapels of his green coat out of habit as Wilf's smile wobbled, sheer joy reflected in his expression. Before he could even begin to formulate a greeting, the Doctor had wrapped Wilf in a crushing hug, but he did not protest; he returned the embrace with as much force, as he again felt tears gather at the corners of his eyes. They pulled back after several moments and shared a warmhearted smile, and when the Doctor excitedly waved over and introduced his wife, his daughter, and the Ponds, Wilfred Mott silently reaffirmed that which he had believed for a long, long time:
He'd have been so very proud to be the Doctor's dad.