Arlen began setting things into motion almost immediately. He was on the phone several times a day calling in favors and making new connections. While Nathan and Sydney were at the cabin, he arranged their engagement photos with a friend of his.
"So many couples want to wait until spring to do their shoots. Everyone wants to be outside posing on beaches or under trees…some want to be at the zoo…I can't thank you enough for saving me from stepping in various, um, gifts from nature. That being said, I'm very excited about what the two of you have agreed to and I promise you something that will bring smiles to your faces every time you look at them."
"Quite a speech," Nathan chuckled, "but you came very highly recommended…"
"By me!" Arlen shouted from across the room. "Stephanie is a wonder behind a lens!"
"We believe you, sweetie," Sydney said, smiling brightly. She turned to Stephanie. "I am curious though, wardrobe changes? And in a particular order? I haven't done anything like that since I had senior pictures taken in high school."
Stephanie smirked, the look playful. "From what Arlen has told me, you two aren't exactly the 'stuffy type' that I keep getting stuck with, so I had a few ideas. Trust me?"
"Let's go." They piled into a shuttle that Stephanie used and began their trek around the city. Nathan and Sydney clueless about the destinations.
"All right kids, first outfits, please." Nathan and Sydney grabbed their first set of garment bags and followed Stephanie and Arlen through an alley and up small set of steps. She led them to a room where they could change as she went to stage an area for them.
"Secretive, huh?" Nathan asked. "I can't tell where we are. All back streets and…a back entrance I'm guessing."
"Just go for the ride," Arlen said, as he touched up Sydney's make up and hair. "I told her loads about you two and the day is…just…I'm gonna get this girl on the map and you lovebirds are gonna help."
"I can't tell if I'm nervous or excited," Sydney said, looking in a small hand mirror. "I can say I love what you do to this hair, Arlen."
"One day you will learn the art of a round brush, honey." He looked at them and beamed. Sydney was in a black pencil skirt and red v-neck sweater, her hair in big, loose curls. Nathan wore black pants and a white button down shirt, a red tie that matched Sydney's sweater, and his glasses. He led them out of the room and up a flight of steps.
"The library," Sydney said, her voice airy. They turned a corner and an area was waiting for them. "Oooh…"
Special lighting illuminated piles of books, a vintage sofa in the middle of them all. Nathan took Sydney's hand and they made their way to the literary wonderland. With very little direction from Stephanie the couple started to interact with one another and the tomes surrounding them. Laughing, smiling, occasionally kissing, shot after shot told a story. Stephanie only stopped when she took what she called the "ultimate shot."
"Come see," she said, waving the couple over. She turned her laptop around and Nathan smiled instantly. It was simple and it was "them." Nathan was sitting up, open book pressed against his chest. Sydney had kicked off her heels and stretched out on the couch, her head on his lap, Nathan looking down at her over the top of his glasses. She had only a shadow of a smile on her face, but her happiness was clear and the affection in Nathan's eyes was one of the most genuine looks she'd ever seen on her clients.
They made two more stops – one at a museum and another at a restaurant, the shots sweet – before they pulled up in front of the Convention Center. Arlen pulled Sydney's hair into a loose ponytail and they each dressed in jeans and Chuck Taylors. Nathan was sporting his favorite leather jacket while Sydney was wearing a form fitting Union Jack t-shirt.
"You don't think…" Nathan stopped himself.
"There is a local convention this weekend…" Sydney started.
"Yeah but not…"
"Come on you two," Stephanie called, winking at them. "I think you know why you're here and here and we have a tight window." Instantly regressing into children, they ran into building and saw the big blue box they'd both thought of.
"He really did tell you everything, didn't he?" Nathan asked.
"Oh yes…and I love dorks."
"Whovians," Sydney said, sheepishly.
"Honey," Nathan said.
"Fine, dorks it is."
"Anyway, this is the real deal. They go through several of these on set and some of them wind up touring around at these sorts of things, so…"
"No St. John's sticker!" Sydney ran up to the door. "Not an Eleven!"
"Nine or Ten?" Nathan asked, joining her.
"Both," a young man said, smiling at them. "You're the couple then, huh? Your friend did a lot of convincing for us to set this aside for a bit."
"Thank you," Nathan said.
"How do you mean both…is it from 'The Parting of the Ways?'"
"She knows her stuff."
"Time's ticking," Stephanie said. "Doctor, take your Companion and…" She laughed as they both made for the door.
"Hey," Nathan laughed. "Where are you going?"
Sydney crossed her arms. "Who says I'm the Companion?"
"Uh…it's always a girl?"
"Rory wasn't a girl."
"Rory came with Amy, package deal."
"They rewrote the rules, young or old, man or woman…"
"I don't agree with everything Moffat's done."
Sydney gasped. "Shh, they'll hear you!"
"You don't either."
She smiled widely. "You're right…I'm completely your Companion." They role-played together having the time of their lives. Peeking through the windows or a crack in the door…bursting through them like they had just landed on some new world. They were actually sad when it was time to go.
Once they were back at Stephanie's studio, Arlen left to get to Just Be and Nathan and Sydney were gathering their things. They were nearly packed up when Stephanie approached them.
"So, we have a lot of really great stuff from today, huh? All very PG and perfect for…whatever you might want to use them for, you know, for everyone else."
"Yeah, it was great," Nathan said, "and to have them instantly…a lot of photographer's aren't so giving with their work."
"Well, they're just the proofs, I want to play with them a little. Add a few things before you see the final product, but I was thinking of something a little…more..." She had grown nervous.
"More…what?" Sydney asked.
Stephanie sighed. "You don't have to say yes, but I really do want to expand my portfolio a bit and the two of you are…aside from being so clearly comfortable with one another, you look…you're a beautiful couple…"
"Would you want something a little more intimate? For yourselves?"
"And your portfolio?" Nathan asked. She nodded. "How intimate?"
"Nothing pornographic, of course, just…"
"I trust you," Sydney said, curious. She looked at Nathan. "We aren't going to be young forever, right?"
"Look at you all adventurous," Nathan said, leaning over to kiss her cheek.
"Follow me?" Stephanie asked. They followed her to a small room and she flipped a switch bathing it in a soft blue light. She walked over to Sydney and took her hair out of the ponytail it was in, then ran her hands through it making it wild, but sexy. "You had a cami under the sweatshirt you came here in. Can you change into it?" Sydney nodded. "And Nathan…are you shy about taking off your shirt?"
"Uh, I guess not?" he answered.
"Better not be, you work hard for those muscles." Sydney said with a grin.
A few minutes later Stephanie was back behind the lens and Nathan and Sydney were unsure for the first time all day. "Natural, just like the rest of today," she said softly. "Nathan, relax and pretend it's just the two of you."
Sydney reached up and stroked his cheek, pulling his eyes to hers. "A gift for us," she whispered. "I like the idea…and I love you."
Nathan slid his hand under her hair and leaned down to kiss her. He let go of his nerves and the kiss deepened, neither of them hearing the click of the camera. Hands wandered, as did lips. There was a particularly striking image of Nathan kissing Sydney's neck, her head tipped back and her eyes closed, but it wasn't the "ultimate shot."
Eventually, Stephanie smiled and put the camera down. "We have it."
"Lemme see," Sydney said, beaming. She and Nathan walked over to the laptop and Sydney's hand went to her mouth. "Oh…Nathan…"
There was a bare bed in the room and Nathan had seated himself on the edge, Sydney straddled him so that she was slightly above him and his chin was resting on her chest. Sydney's eyes were closed, a look of serenity on her face, but Nathan…his eyes were open and it was easy to tell that he was grateful and very much in love.
"Will you do the wedding?" Nathan asked.
Stephanie was shocked. "What? Really?"
Nathan nodded, his eyes still on the screen. "I don't imagine anyone else will capture it better than you." They looked through the rest of the photos. "Do we get these today too?"
"Uh, yes and…I'll do the wedding…nobody's ever asked for that before, thank you."
Sydney shook her head. "Thank you for today." She looked at Nathan. "I think we should get home." She stroked his shoulder, the tone in her voice very particular.