House on the Lake (2/2)
AU. Of course, he hadn’t accounted entirely for Rose Tyler, 6484 (this part)
Of course, he hadn’t accounted entirely for Rose Tyler.
“What happened the other day?”
His shoulders tense at the blunt question. He takes a minute to finish putting his groceries in his boat before turning to meet Rose’s dark eyes. Inwardly, he smiles. She was never one to beat around the bush.
“I—“ he stops because he really doesn’t know what he’s going to say.
She crosses her arms, an action that does his equilibrium no good as her breasts lift with the action.
He swallows and takes a deep breath, mind racing. He isn’t keen on having this conversation at all or at any coming date.
He settles his face into his shit-eating grin, throwing his hands wide and exclaims, “Rose! I had set up a surprise and then totally forgot to have it ready by the time you came! I have it now!” Ignoring her frown, he turns back to the rowboat and fumbles underneath the bench for anything to distract her. What his hands come up with isn’t necessarily something he’s terribly excited about but it’s something better than having that conversation. He holds it up for her inspection.
“A bow and arrows?” she deadpans, a smile flitting about her perfect (do not go there) mouth, obviously in spite of herself.
He shrugs, walking towards the wooded clearing some meters away from the shore. He hears her sigh and follow after him. He smiles a real smile now.
At first, she was disappointed at his patent distraction. But now, she thinks, as she adjusts her shoulders, just touching the firm chest behind her, I think I like it. A smile she hadn’t know was in her, curves her lips, which luckily he can’t see, else he might stop the lesson.
She’d gone along with the bow-and-arrow lesson a little reluctantly, wanting to draw him into talking about what happened on the dock, but he wasn’t to be deterred. Finally, thinking that if she just got it over with, she’d be able to get him to look at it again. She didn’t like that the Doctor didn’t feel comfortable talking to her.
However, as the lesson had gone along and he’d had to step in close and put his arms around her to position her and correct her stance and grip, the idea of getting this over with quickly faded away.
In the past summers, there’d been plenty of times when he’d touched her to show her how to do something, but never before had his touch felt like electricity on her skin, sending delicate tremors down her body, to the tips of her fingers and to the pit of her stomach. She tries so hard not to show that she is reacting. Partly because she doesn’t want to scare him off again, but also because she feels embarrassed.
She doesn’t really know why she’s developed these feelings for him in such a sudden fashion. She’s been aware that it probably wasn’t healthy that he was basically her only friend, but she hadn’t really cared. He was her best friend and her summers with him is what sustained her through the tiresome routine of high school life. The kids surrounding her were just that: kids. They were more into their phones, clothes, the latest rap song, and themselves to even look to the future, or imagine what was happening outside their limited zone.
This isn’t the case when she’s with the Doctor. With him, she learns about places like Patagonia and the Sahara Desert. She gets to talk about her dreams of traveling and seeing more than just England and the one summer trip to the Alps. She realizes that not only is he her friend, but he’s someone that she genuinely loves.
She can’t contain the smile of joy at this epiphany, not caring that he catches a glimpse of it as he takes the arrow out of the ground near the tree serving as their target. He’s already laughing at her inability to shoot the arrow even into the tree so when he sees that unguarded smile, he’s momentarily arrested. Her hair is down and the sun highlights the gold around her, creating a glowing effect to match her laughing eyes and wide happy mouth, that pink tongue peeking out meaning it’s her happiest smile.
He can’t help himself and smiles back, not really able to name the emotion emanating from her but just knowing it’s good and it fills him up with happiness. The past hour has been torture, wonderful but so so dangerous. With that smile, he decides that he can have it, that he’ll be able to toe the line, just so he can make this girl happy. He walks back over to her, handing the arrow he’d fetched, letting their fingers slide against each other.
The rest of two weeks pass in much the same fashion as the past summers. It’s just that this time, there’s an extra charge and tension to the air between them. She doesn’t try to broach the subject again and he seems fine with not bringing it up. But as they talk and she learns more about the different animals and vegetation in the surrounding forests, they find themselves holding each others’ gaze a few seconds too long or they’ll find excuses to touch hands, hair, arms. When they take hikes, he’ll hold her hand ostensibly to help her over patches that aren’t actually that rough. They don’t really speak about this, don’t actually acknowledge it. And she’s okay with that.
Until her last day at the lake.
She’s determined to get some sort of resolution in this new change in status. It’s not that she expects him to be her boyfriend or anything, but she doesn’t like that their relationship isn’t clearly defined. She’s never been one for black-and-white, but today, she finds that she is.
The water’s low enough for her to take the walkway to his house. It’s a path that she’s only halfway walked on. Though they’ve never spoken about it, she knows that the Doctor draws the line at her coming over to the island. She has an idea of what could happen, given the nature of her feelings for him and what she’s pretty sure is reciprocated.
She’s not even halfway before he appears in his boat, making his way toward her. She smiles in chagrin, knowing she was caught and waves as he approaches. He’s smirking when he pulls up next to her, shaking his head.
“You’ll not get very far, Rose. Get in the boat, and I’ll take you to shore.”
She pouts, feeling playful. He shakes his head again and gestures for her to get in. She does, sitting across form him and stretching her bare feet to just touch his dry ones. He moves them away with a slight jerk which has her pulling hers back self-consciously. Her smile dies a little.
He clears his throat, a useless attempt to dispel the sudden somberness. “What were you doing on the walkway?” he asks.
She trails a hand in the water as he starts rowing towards the shore. “I was coming to see you,” she glances at him from the corner of her eye. “It’s my last day.” She sees him frown and, for some reason, this lifts her own mood and gives her the courage to do what she was coming over for.
Impulsively, she sits forward, balancing her hands on his knees and attempting to bring her mouth within distance to his.
“Rose!” he splutters, dropping one of the oars in surprise, pulling away from her, causing her to fall back in her seat hard. He ignores her in favor of saving the oar that went over the side.
Inexplicably, she finds tears running down her face. She hurriedly wipes at it while he’s struggling to reach the oar, not wanting to further embarrass herself. She hides her burning face with her hair. She would like to die right now, please.
She feels rather than sees him kneel in front of her, the boat rocking with his movements. He pulls her into a hug, murmuring soothing noises to her as she cries into his shoulder. This is the only time he’s ever held her and it’s wonderful. He smells woodsy and like the sun and like freshness and she can’t stop trying to inhale him.
She’s quiet in his arms, finally calmed down. He pulls away to cup her head, pulling her hair away from his face. She doesn’t breathe as she’s held by his bright blue gaze. Her heart is far too loud in her ears and she thinks he can feel the blood beating at her temples beneath his fingers.
“Rose,” he whispers, before bringing his lips to her forehead in the barest of kisses. She closes her eyes, relishing the contact. He doesn’t move for a long moment and then he gently releases her, putting space between them again. She doesn’t open her eyes until she feels the boat move under the power of the oars. When she does open them, she just watches his arms as they move in a rhythm, forearm muscles rippling under golden tipped skin. Her mouth goes dry.
When they’ve reached shore and he’s gingerly helped her onto dry land, he takes both of her small hands in his, facing her. She stares resolutely at the buttons of his plaid shirt, still ashamed of her failed kiss. His hand tips her chin up to meet his wry gaze.
“It’s okay, Rose.” His voice is quiet. Tender. She makes herself hold still, not wanting to break the moment. Hoping that maybe…
“We can’t go on like this.” Her heart drops. “You’re just growing up and you’re becoming a beautiful young woman. But you and me can’t--“
She can’t hold back her protest. “I don’t see why not!”
He smiles at her naivety, so young, so ready to take on the world. “I’m too old for you, Rose. I’ve lived almost half my life already, while you’re just starting. I’m not looking for a summer fling while you’re not looking for a serious relationship.” He stops her from interrupting with a gentle thumb to her mouth that lingers. Her eyes close at the sensation and he has to step away.
“Go find a young pretty boy to spend time with. Meet more people your age. You’ll forget about me.” He dismisses himself so easily. His heart clenches at the disappointment and hurt on her face. Before he changes his mind, he gets into his rowboat and pushes off. He can’t leave her without something though so he calls back to the young woman standing alone on the beach, “I care about you, Rose. Enough to let you live a fantastic life.”
He turns his attention to the oars beside him, ignoring the one bright spot of his life walking away.
Rose cries over the Doctor for weeks following the trip to the Alps. Her mother can’t make heads or tails of it and has taken to bringing her different types of teas from all over the world, trying to find one that will calm her daughter down. Eventually, Rose stops crying and spends time looking at the ceiling of her living room, tracing with her eyes the star patterns she’d put up there as a little girl. When semester starts, Rose finds that she’s angry at the Doctor and throws herself into the high school life like she’s never done before.
She finds that people like it when she speaks her mind and walks the hallways like she’s meant to be there. She gets a group of friends who seem to elect her as leader. She gets leads in the school productions. She takes on more after-school activities. She gets busy.
Boys ask her out and she never accepts, not interested in their immature pick-up lines and grabby hands. That is until she meets a guy named Jimmy Stone. He’s the brother of one of her friends and he’s already done with school and he’s looking at her with blue eyes that remind her achingly of someone. They meet at a party and spend the night dancing and drinking. Things get a little blurry for her and she experiences her first kiss without much recollection.
It’s only when she’s shoved hard against a wall with only Jimmy’s body to hold her up does she come to her senses enough to push at him. “No!” she protests. He ignores her inebriated attempts, using one hand to hold her still while the other creeps up her thigh and under her skirt.
She refuses to lose her virginity this way. She’d imagined it so much gentler and with a much different man then this bastard. She starts screaming and kicking, enough so that he lets go of her with some alacrity. “Whoa! Don’t act like a slut and not expect to get some! Bitch!” he throws at her as he walks out of the alcove and into the rest of the party happening just a few feet away.
Rose pulls her skirt down, trying to wipe away the memory of his fingers, her mascara running black tears down her face.
It’s the first summer in a long time that she doesn’t go to the lake at all. Her parents are a little concerned, knowing that she’d loved being outdoors before. She shrugs them off, claiming that she’s just going to do extra study for honors classes next year. Jackie wants to hover, but Pete pulls her out the door to give her some space.
The days pass in a dull haze for Rose who sternly averts her eyes from the windows facing the direction of the lake. While she can’t see it from their cabin, she knows that it’s there just over the tree line. That he’s probably there.
She knows it’s irrational, but she half-blames him for Jimmy.
Before she knows it, it’s the night before they leave back to London. She lays in bed, looking up at the waning moon and is overcome with the need to go to the lake, to at least be close to him even if they’re on different shores. She sneaks out of the house, a coat thrown over her nightgown, heedless of thinness of her slippers.
When she makes it to the dock, she’s a little out of breath. Seeing the light on in the house on the lake, she feels lightheaded. As if controlled by some outer force, she takes off her slippers and wades onto the walkway. It’s dark and the moon’s not too bright and though she’s never actually walked the full path, she knows that it’s pretty much a straight shot to the island. She goes carefully, feeling her way with her feet, filled with a sense of purpose and rightness.
As her feet hit the sandy shore of his house’s island, she feels a trembling start within her. She’s nervous and excited and feels so out of depth that she nearly turns around to walk back the way she came. Then her eye catches on the door to his cabin and she smiles at the whimsy. It’s a bright brilliant blue. Not as light as his eyes, but a hue that speaks of the middle of the lake and the color of the sky just before dusk. Taking a shaky breath in, she strides up to the door and knocks.
A long pause enters in, and she’s got the shakes again. Slowly the door cracks open until it reveals him in the doorway, wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans, face slightly scruffy with his night beard and eyes tired but very blue.
“Rose?” his voice is both reverent and surprised, as if he’s only half sure that she’s real. She doesn’t know that with the pale moonlight at her back, the light color of her clothes and hair, she looks almost like an angel standing before the glowing water.
She does know that the look he gives her sends a shiver up her spine and into her scalp that she can’t hide. It doesn’t escape him and suddenly his eyes darken, his hands are reaching for her just as she’s reaching for him. She’s through his doorway and into his arms, her own going around his neck as he bends down to bring his mouth to hers.
And it’s glorious and wonderful and everything that she’d wanted a kiss to be. He’s hot and gentle and his tongue slides across her lips, tasting, not even seeking entrance. She opens for him anyway and her knees give out as his tongue scrapes across hers. He growls with pleasure as he gathers her closer, swinging her away from the doorway and backwards until she’s lying across his couch.
His body covers hers and she sighs into his mouth with pleasure. She loves this feeling of his weight, her hands run down his back, appreciating the firm muscles that move under his shirt. She reaches the edge of his shirt and brings her small hands under it and onto his hot skin. She can feel his smile against her mouth as his kiss gentles and he pulls away from her to look down on her.
She can feel a blush starting from under the collar of her nightgown and up to the roots of her hair. His smile widens but in a way she doesn’t recognize because it’s full of want and desire and all the things he’s tried to hold back from her.
“Hi,” she whispers, feeling a little awkward and shy now that he’s not kissing her and just looking at her. She shifts a little under his blue gaze, and his eyes drop to the space between them, as if he’s just realized fully where they’re at and what’s about to happen or, really, what could’ve happened.
She sees the shift in his mood as soon as it happens, the worry that creases his forehead and the frown at the edges of his mouth. Before he can move off her or say something to rebuke her, she instinctively brings her arms tighter around him, bringing him back flush against her body.
“Oh, no you don’t! I want you here, Doctor. I want you,” she whispers fiercely in his ear. And not even knowing why she does it, she gently bites his ear. His hips grind against hers in reaction and a low moan comes from his throat. She senses the power she has with him, even more than what she could feel last summer and does it again, this time rolling her own hips with his when he moves. She can feel him hard between her thighs and she widens her legs to accommodate him.
He kisses his way up from her neck, across her jaw and back over to her mouth, capturing her with a deep exploration that has her clinging to his shirt and desperately gathering it up in fistfuls. He releases her lips long enough to send the shirt over his shoulders and behind the couch. Her eager hands explore the exposed skin, running across his strong shoulders, feeling the muscles bunch and across his chest, fingers lightly tangling in the hair across his nipples. She smiles as his muscles jerk in reaction to her and she does it again.
“Hey now, little love, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here,” he chides teasingly, capturing her hands with his, laying a kiss on each before laying them above her head. She isn’t sure what to do, but knows that she wants something to happen, preferably skin to skin. She writhes a little in front of him, trying to get him into some sort of motion instead of his devouring gaze that takes her in from the top of her golden head to the hem of her nightgown, caught around her hips.
He moves one hand down from hers down her arms, the sides of her chest, thumbs coming out to trace the underside of her braless breasts. He keeps one hand loosely around her wrists, not wanting her to interrupt his exploration. He doesn’t touch her where she aches to be touched and continues down until he’s over her hips and his fingers are reaching under her nightgown. A hot shiver runs through her at his whole body long caress and she pushes up against him again.
His low laugh sends further warmth through her and to her core, seeping out. She makes a slightly frustrated sound at this and his eyes come back up to meet hers, her breath catching at the possession in them. He’s back with that slightly wolfish smile as he quickly runs one finger inside her panties and across her opening, feeling the wetness there. She jerks up with the motion and presses her head back against the couch. The smile falls off his face as passion takes over and he kisses her swiftly, deeply and with a tenderness that makes her moan.
His hands come up and under her nightgown, moving it over and off her body and she’s finally exposed to him. He sucks in a breath at the sight of her breasts, so full even now and rose-tipped to match her name. There’s also a slight flush covering her chest and he knows that part of it is embarrassment and hopes that a lot of it is just desire and he leans over to take one of those hard buds in his mouth to make sure it is. She gives a little scream at the contact and arches up and he loves how she tastes and how she reacts, so willing to experience and let him see. This is what he loves about Rose: her curiosity, her undauntedness, her desire always for more. And he realizes that he’s been thinking the word “love” a lot and pushes the thought to the back of his mind.
He’s got this girl to please.
Moving away he blows across the tip of her breast. Rose is unable to stop the sounds coming out of her throat and she doesn’t even want to because he’s grinding that hard, wonderful cock against that aching part of her and she just wants him in. She tells him this and he looks up at her from between her breasts, her heart skipping at the look in his eyes and she knows what he’s going to say before he does.
“Ah, Rose, I—you know—“
As he stumbles over his words, she’s annoyed with herself for even bringing it up, for ruining this moment between them, but she doesn’t want him to ever stop and just wants him to be with her. She grabs his head and brings his lips back to hers, sipping and kissing while just breathing one word against his lips, “Please.”
She feels the tension in his body, in his arms, the careful way he’s holding his body away from hers, allowing cool air to flow between them. She doesn’t know if he’s trying to let her passion fade away with that, and if he thinks that, he’s got another thing coming. Still lightly brushing her lips against his, she licks at his bottom lip before taking it into her teeth and biting down lightly. She feels the tremor go through him, just as he groans low in his chest, taking control of the kiss and biting her back, just a little. She brings her hands across his back, unable to stay away from touching him. His chest is against her naked skin and she feels so happy in this moment, but she wants more. Running her hands down his back, she grabs his buttocks and squeezes, loving the feel of his muscles under her hand.
His mouth moves off her mouth to kiss under her jaw, licking the beating pulse he finds there before moving further down to her breasts, where he lingers, kissing and laving.
She feels so wet right now and she needs relief, now. She doesn’t realize she’s growled the word out until he lifts his head and flashes her a wicked smile as he moves further down her body until his head is between her legs. Slowly, he pulls her panties down, revealing the darker blonde thatch of hair. He pauses for a moment, looking at her spread before him and she feels so beautiful in that moment that she could cry.
He takes one finger and runs it between her cleft again, just lightly and she pushes against him, not caring that she’s practically begging. He rewards her as he covers her mound with his whole hand, inserting a finger into her as the bottom of his hand grounds near her clit and she nearly comes apart from that alone.
He’s having a hard time keeping himself from coming and forces himself to concentrate on her and her alone. They can’t go any farther than this, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be selfish and experience her ecstasy. Just this once.
Getting on the floor, he moves her so she’s sitting in front of him, legs over his shoulders and his mouth is at her opening. He works her with one finger, watching her become wetter for him, by him. Lightly he flicks at the bundle of nerves he knows is there and is satisfied by her jump and startled moan. Delicately he lowers his mouth and sips at her, flicking his tongue up and in and she’s no longer holding back. Her hands are on his head and she’s flying up to the stars, time has no meaning for her and all she sees is sparks and all she can scream is his name, her name for him, “Doctor!”
He stays with her until she comes back, languid and at ease. She’s smiling and running her fingers through his hair before remembering that he hasn’t had any release. She starts making weak tugging motions at him, really unable to do more than that. He smiles, a little sadly, but mostly happy because she’s here and he has her taste in his mouth and the imprint of her hands on him. He stands and gathers her to him, lifting her in his arms as he carries her to his bathroom. She stands relaxed in this middle of the marble tiled floor as he gets a cloth to clean her with.
It isn’t until he’s got her nightgown almost over her head does she start protesting. “But—“
He cuts her off with a swift kiss and she thinks she should be put off by the fact that his mouth had been there, but she isn’t and she gets lost in the kiss. He finishes putting on her nightgown and gathers her close once more, his nose to the top of her head. “This is all we can have, Rose. At least for a few years more.”
She‘s more than slightly angry at him for this and pulls back to give him what for. “I’m not too young for you! You must know that! I love you!” She almost claps a hand over her mouth at the admission.
He has that happy and sad look in his dear blue gaze as he kisses her nose and eyebrows, brushing his lips against her temple. “Oh, Rose. It’s just…you have so much ahead of you. I would feel like I’m holding you back, no matter how much you said it wasn’t so. Just, at least finish school, do that for me, please?”
She thinks it over in her mind as he walks her out to his boat, after putting on a shirt and grabbing her coat. A small part of her suggests that he thinks that he does think that she’s too young for him and is just trying to put her off nicely. But a large part of her knows who this man is and knows that what he’s saying is because he’s a noble man, a man of integrity and he really does want what’s best for her, even if it doesn’t suit him too much. This is part of the reason she loves him.
He gives her time to think as he gets them back to the other side. It helps that he doesn’t stop touching her as they go, his hand tangled with hers or his legs on either side of hers. So when the boat lands at the shore and he carries her out and gently places her on her feet, she’s ready to answer him.
She puts her arms around his waist and looks up because she’s unwilling to let go of this shared closeness that they’ve forged. “I’ll grow up a little more for you, my dear Doctor. But we should at least have these summers. I know that you won’t want to do more than what we’ve done tonight, but at least let us—let you have that.”
He shakes his head at her words. She knows him too well, this beautiful yellow-haired girl. Lifting her so he can feel her against him, he kisses her with a promise and she smiles against his lips.
She wakes up ridiculously early the following summer, too soon for their normal meeting time, but too restless to even have to pretend that she’s not excited to see him. Out of respect for her parents and maybe a little for his own protection, they’d decided not to contact each other during her school year, but oh, how she’d ached for him. How many times had she lain in bed, her body remembering his touch, his kisses?
She’s smiling as she gets to the dock and takes a seat at the edge, legs dangling but never quite reaching the sparkling water. She loves the peace of this relatively secluded area, always has.
The serenity she was feeling fades as the morning moves on and into lunch. She’s taken to staring at his house to see any sign of movement and when there isn’t, she starts to think that maybe he isn’t going to come and that thought sends a pang through her. She shrugs it off, because he always comes, eventually. She gets up to get lunch and maybe see some of her parents’ friends with them. She does, but her heart’s not into it.
The next morning, she goes out again. Not so early this time and not so eagerly, a sense of doom hanging about her. She sits on the dock, oblivious to the peace around her and stares at his house.
He doesn’t show up that day either.
As the rest of her summer passes, she alternately waits at the dock or wonders around the surrounding forests and village, hoping that she’ll run into him or get some word of him.
When the water’s low enough for her to take the walkway, she does and she knocks on that bright blue door to no avail. The door’s locked and so are the windows, she finds, as she walks the perimeter of the house. Giving up any semblance of politeness, she peers inside one of the windows to find that the house looks definitely not lived in.
Has he really taken to the extreme of not even coming to his summer retreat to not see her? To stay away from her? She feels angry at him for not even having the decency to leave her a letter or something.
Her parents don’t comment on her sullen and despondent silence as they drive away from the lake.
He isn’t there the next summer either. This time she cries alone at the lake side, at his abandonment and his false words on that night that had been so much to her.
She doesn’t look for him the summer she turns twenty. She even tried getting out of the yearly summer trip, albeit half-heartedly, but still. Jackie would have none of it though, not willing to lose what family time they had left with the prospect of her daughter heading off to a European trip on her own. It would be the first time that Rose had been gone for an extended time, and while Jackie understood that Rose was fulfilling a long-time dream of traveling, she wasn’t going to budge on her spending just this part of summer with them as they always did.
She manages to keep herself busy with family friends, the village festival, and whatever other inane things she can find to fill up her time. But as the days dwindle down to just a few left, she does make time to go down to the lakeside. At first, she doesn’t look at the house, taking in the soaring tops of the mountains, the clearness of the lake, but eventually her eyes do find that house, his home. The house looks so lonely there in the middle of the lake.
The weather has been particularly dry and she can see the walkway between the shore and the lake house under the water.
She’s still hurt, the raw part of her heart only barely scarred over, only now dulled from the gnawing pain of when she first realized he’d left her. She does have to admit that right now, it’s mainly her pride holding her back. She isn’t going to be the one to run to him. She understands now that he could see that what they did as wrong, but she doesn’t. She knows that deep down, he doesn’t either. He may not have said the words, but he loved her too. She’s at least certain of that. At least, at the time.
Swallowing down her pride, she moves to the walkway, shedding her sandals on the shore, dipping her feet into the cool water. A bittersweet smile appears on her lips. “It’s really only there for a week or so, the water still up to your ankles—well, for you, probably your knees.” His voice echoes in her mind.
She’s only a few steps away from the shore when the breeze blows strands of her hair across her face and as she bats it back annoyed, she catches sight of a boat leaving the house. She stills, suddenly nervous and unsure and feeling very young. Wiping her clammy hands on her summer dress, she moves out of the water and back onto dry land. She ignores the sandals she’s cast off and remembers just in time that there’s no point in running to the dock, it’s not like it would shorten his time in arriving there.
She’s caught between anxiety and exhilaration as his boat approaches, her stomach doing flips and somersaults and all manner of circus acts, only to have it drop heavily when she doesn’t recognize the man rowing the boat.
He’s not her Doctor.
The man is around her age, maybe a little older, skinny with a thick head of dark hair. The Doctor never let his hair grow that long, even when she’d first met him and he’d had that scary beard.
She wonders if she should eave and come back at another time when her Doctor might be here, but knowing that if she left, she’d never find the nerve to come back. She at least doesn’t need to stand here looking like she’s waiting for this stranger to land even though she is, because even if he isn’t the Doctor, he’s using his boat and maybe he can help her find him. And besides, while she’s been dithering about what to do, he’s reached the shore and is climbing out of the boat, throwing her curious looks.
Mentally shrugging, she approaches him, pasting a polite smile on her face. He straightens and makes a subtle swipe through his hair, as she stops in front of him.
“I’m Rose,” she says, offering her hand for him to shake which he does. “I’m just visiting and was walking around when I saw you came from the house on the lake.”
He gives her an open grin, one that just makes her instantly smile back. His brown eyes crinkle and there’s something about him that sets off a small alarm in her mind.
“I’m Johnny. Johnny Smith.”
Her smile goes stiff at his words. His own fades a bit and a nervous hand comes up to the back of his neck to scratch. When the silence stretches on a bit too long, he clears his throat and makes a motion towards the path up the woods. “I’ll just be, uh—“
“Smith?” She interrupts, her heart pulsing in dread, without her really knowing why. Her eyes register the boat is full of bags and boxes, but she refuses to process the reason for it.
“Yep,” he answers, a wary look in his eyes, hands going into his pockets.
“Is your father…Doctor John Smith?”
He takes another look at this girl, hearing the trepidation in her tone, the stillness to her stance, the sun filtering through that gorgeous blonde hair and he remembers an off-hand mention from his father of this lake and a girl he sometimes met there. He remembers the affection in his father’s tone and the look in his eye that deepened the blue. And he sees that his next words will hurt her, so he doesn’t do anything but nod.
Tears are gathering in her eyes, because she notices the boxes, the dark circles under this young man’s eyes, the hesitation in his expression. “What happened to him?”
He again runs a hand through his hair. Even after a year, he finds it hard to come to grips with it. “It was on a flight back from one of his doctors without borders missions. The plane…didn’t make it. He died in the crash.” His voice was quiet and he couldn’t quite meet her eyes.
A sob escapes her and she’s a little too slow in covering it up. The tears fall freely and she feels like bending over in pain, to somehow relieve it though she knows that this won’t come immediately. But she doesn’t, because she’s never been one to show her emotions in front of strangers, but she can’t control the grief that pours from her. She holds an arms around her middle, a feeble attempt to comfort herself.
Johnny wants to help her, but doesn’t know how, only just now realizing what his father meant to this girl and feeling inadequate to do anything about it, so he just stands near her, not knowing that his presence is both comforting and painful in reminding the girl of who she’s just lost.
There’s a house in the middle of a lake. It has a bright blue door that’s faded over time. It stands alone against the mountain skyline and the clear lake.
an: Whew! I went places that I haven't gone before with a story. Please let me know what you think.