Months later, they still jump one foot into the air whenever they hear some funny sound from the street.
The world has a different face. People look different; every small, mundane thing as well, as they embrace it in the relish of coming home. It is in their eye, Ian knows: an eye that has swept across the universe, that has seen other planets, the future and the past. They speak with a quiver in their voice, some nervous, frenetic enthusiasm. In everyday life, they soon learn to control that–but when they teach, oh, the passion returns.
Poor Barbara especially, recounting the history of manuals when she has breathed it. The first time she has to tell her class about the Aztecs, she suffers a sudden bout of frantic laughter halfway through; she is so incensed at herself when she comes home that it takes two cups of tea and a foot rub to get her to wind down. Their evening finishes well and it all gets easier as time goes on, as he promised; still Aztecs remain her pet peeve, and their very own personal joke. Many years after, she almost loses it again during her first lecture about this specific civilization, as some strange woman keeps asking her the oddest questions about the issue of gender in the tales of reincarnation. Once more, she returns to him shaken, having browsed the register frantically–but it can bring her very little. Mysterious Melody Williams never appears again.
He refrains from chuckling, or betraying the fact that he does enjoy seeing her so flustered, if only for the whole process of getting her to relax.
That is another once constant, normal thing in their lives that is certainly no longer the same, and the best of all, as far as he’s concerned. Of course, in the quietness of Coal Hill, after many a cup of tea, a pleasant discussion, or a stolen glance, one teacher might have loved their colleague and seen the affection returned. But Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright have seen it all. They walked the streets of Rome and Paris, the way no one alive ever could anymore, although there was nothing romantic whatsoever to what they went through there. They have known fear and relief, stood under the light of other suns and, eventually, found their way home. And yet, the journey never ended.
He can so clearly recall that day–the street, the city, the bus, their frenzied giggles, drawing people’s stares. He remembers the warmth of her hand in his, and that precise moment, once they’d properly settled, when he just looked into her face. Soft eyes, gentle lips, teasing smile–the friend of many adventures, and so much more.
A new eye; a new touch, like a flutter of things foreign and delicious, to be discovered. Their first night back in England involved lots of talking, and not only that. They had to come to terms with everything that had changed, and what their lives would then bring.
They can never look at a police box the same way again, and never will. The same goes for old men: there is great fondness, of course, but they are also aware that apparent harmlessness can then reveal something one would never have imagined. They often talk about the Doctor, just mentioning him in passing, or else wondering where he might be now, whether Vicki still travels at his side. They think of him with tenderness and gratitude, recalling antics that make them chuckle.
Thanks to him, they have known past and future, and most of all, the worth of the present–of their loved ones, of home. All of that they hold close to their hearts.
Life, by now, is an adventure of its own, of their own. They sometimes share a glance at some random recollection, and just like that, they want to laugh.
They never get bored again.