Green eyes now, the irises vibrant and warm with a muted golden hue. Her hair is curly, bouncing slightly against her shoulders as the breeze sees fit to enchant it. She hunches over a book, writing scant, esoteric phrases in the margins.
When he sits next to her, his hand flitters in the air, aimless and hoping for a purpose. Finally, she makes the decision for him, guiding his fingers to her book, pressing the tips to her words still dripping with fresh ink. When he pulls his thumb away, he sees her incomplete name there, the exact 'u' and the curved 's'.
"Susan," he smiles, pressing his forefinger to his thumb. "I've missed saying your name, my girl."
"Now you have it written on your skin, Grandfather."
"Yes, it should be so easily written on my hearts, as well, so I never have to worry about losing it. Sometimes a name needs to be said, and heard."
He almost sighs.
The Doctor removes his straw hat, turning his umbrella in the soft ground as his dark eyes flicker between the dying grass and the dead far beneath him. The sight would be easy to miss for anyone else, but he is not anyone else, and would not allow himself to mark his steps in the wet earth without a remembrance for the one he lost, the ones he's always losing.
He kneels, reaching out his hand as though to touch the earth, but hesitates. His palm hovers above the plot of land so similar to the expanse of land around him.
But he knows, he always knows where they are, in the end.
There are many things he could say, should say, should have said.
Instead, "Thank you, Jamie McCrimmon, for the days you inhabited with me."
It was a negligence on his part, because he was bitter and selfish. Though he believes he's grown out of those emotions by now, in his seventh incarnation, he's still prone to them. He always is, especially selfishness. But the bitterness has faded, as though it had never been there.
He won't apologize, and she will never know he came. Internally, he knows he should have been there for Jo's wedding in his third incarnation.
So he comes now, because time can be merciful when he manipulates it for fleeting moments of comfort, resolution. The Doctor twists his brolly, pursing his lower lip in thought as he narrows his eyes to see more clearly. As Jo kisses Cliff Jones, the Doctor chips a piece of bark off the tree he's leaning against, turning his eyes to the flakes of dust the imperfection left behind.
He would think it fortuitous that he should be carrying an umbrella as a deluge poured from the sky, but for the fact that the brolly is a permanent fixture for him, and its usefulness presents itself precisely when it needs to.
The street lamps are hushed in the limited visibility created by the rain, and the Doctor observes the few people taken by surprise rushing into the nearest form of shelter. The Doctor himself merely leans against a pole beneath a light, tapping his pointer finger to the metal and smiling mysteriously at the force of nature.
Another person walks past, a short, brown-haired woman bent slightly, her arms crossed and her eyes narrowing to focus on the sights before her. As he catches her face, the Doctor's smile falters, and his hearts turn awkwardly in his chest. He certainly never expected to see an old friend today. As she nears him, the Doctor shifts a bit to impede her progress, tipping his hat beneath his umbrella, which he moves to hold over her.
"Hello, Sarah Jane. What would you say to a cup of tea?"
"I see you've changed again, Doctor," Romana declares, a hint of a smile on her face.
"Oh, yes, some time ago. I have to say, I'm pleased with this one," he affirms, as though he's never said such a thing about his previous incarnations.
"May I ask what you're doing here?"
"You may ask, and I may tell you," he smiles, removing his hat and setting his umbrella down. "Oh, what would I be doing here? Gallifrey, Gallifrey...a nice holiday? No, I wouldn't think so. But I thought perhaps you'd appreciate a distraction."
Romana raises a curious eyebrow, tacit approval in the gesture.
"A bit of dancing," he grins.
"Dancing," she repeats, nonplussed.
"Yes, I assure you it's a wonderful change of pace, and preferable to the paperwork you're so raptly engaged in," he offers his arm.
When she finally slides her arm into his, a burgeoning smile on her face, he says, "I'll play the spoons for you later."
"Next one, Professor," Ace instructs, waving her spoon dismissively in the air as the Doctor slides a small bowl between them.
They both dip their utensils in together, instinctively watching their respective reactions to the new flavor of ice cream. Ace's face transitions into a frown shortly before his.
"What's this one again?" She questions, reaching for her drink to rid her mouth of the taste.
The Doctor checks the label, supplying, "Avocado raisin. A bit of a flavor clash, I would say."
"'M gonna agree with you on that one. All right, come on, we need a good one."
The Doctor nods in vehement agreement, sliding a new bowl over. As they both swallow the bite, their faces simultaneously erupt in apparent pleasure.
"Oh, this is exquisite ice cream," the Doctor quickly asserts.
Ace laughs and wipes at her mouth. "Never heard ice cream described that way before."
"But it is exquisite."
"What is it?"
"Dark chocolate swirled with cinnamon vanilla ice cream and ribbons of caramel," his eyes glisten as he reads the label.
"That's bloody good, that is."
"Shall we stick with this one, or move onto the plain vanilla, and utilize the sprinkles?"
Ace ponders this question, glancing between the bowl of ice cream currently in front of her and the bowl of vanilla still to come.
"Can't we just eat both?"
"I would be severely disappointed if we didn't," he smiles brightly.
"Can I put sprinkles on your vanilla ice cream?" She ventures, dipping her spoon back into the chocolate mound.
"Fudge, Ace," the Doctor declares. "Fudge over sprinkles."
"Oh, right, more sophisticated, I guess."
"More indulgent," he corrects, the smiling only widening as he taps her nose. "But I'm feeling adventurous today, so I would be happy with a fudge sauce and sprinkle duo."