It might've been beautiful, might even be a place the Doctor might've wanted to take Rose to visit---where was she?---except for the sun beating heavily on his back. Scorching, unyielding heat. Well, that and he had no idea how he'd gotten there.
"Hello?" the Doctor called out, hands cupped to further his voice, "Hello?"
Nothing. The vast of the empty, and the Doctor was alone on this scorching beach. The sand felt as though it was shifting beneath his feet, moving out of his way as he took steps towards the horizon.
"There is nothing there." the voice was darkly feminine, smooth like a piece of wet satin, and the woman it came from appeared within the blink of an eye before him. He raised a hand to block the sun from his eyes as he looked up at her with something not unlike awe. Nearly seven feet high, a face that put even Peri to shame, with deep-set muscles that rippled beneath delicate satin. A Greecian warrior, perhaps? From the fine golden leaves adorning the woman's long, blonde, complicated curls, the Doctor was more inclined to think 'goddess'. He had seen stranger.
"Who are you?" he demanded, deciding that asking might be the best way to find out who she was.
"I am the protector." Simple enough. Didn't really answer the Doctor's question, though.
"Protector of what?"
"Those who would need me."
The Doctor gave a bit of a nod, "Well, be a bit useless to be protecting someone that didn't need you, wouldn't it?" Foolish. "Where am I?"
The Protector's face stayed solid, stoic, "You are on the beach of your friendships, Doctor."
His eyebrow rose at her words. She knew him. Or knew of him. Perhaps a bit of both? The Doctor certainly didn't know her, though from the way she stood on the beach, her feet just inches above the sand...he had a few ideas.
"Beach of my friendships?" the Doctor repeated, "What does that mean?"
Her voice was clinically cold, and her muscular arm stretched out, indicating the shoreline, "They are your friendships, all 989 years of your life Doctor."
"975!" the Doctor said, indignantly, but the woman paid him no notice.
"They lie in the sun, baking their pitiful minute existences away. Where you step, they shift, their lives are altered," she looked at him, "Pushed down or shifted up simply by your actions."
He bent down and scooped up a handful of the sand, letting it slide between his fingers. It felt just like normal sand. The tiny grains begged to hold on, but slid off with the rest of the sand, back into the ocean of their brothers.
"They beg to stay, and you try so hard to hold them, but in the end they must leave you, or you them," the Protector's voice almost sounded sorry for the sand that fell back to earth, "To die baking in the sun, or to be swept away by the tide."
"Not all of it goes back to the Earth," the Doctor said, giving her a bit of a lopsided smirk, "Being levitational and all, I'm sure you wouldn't know, but when you return from any beach, especially in shoes such as mine, you wind up with a pileful of sand to clean out when you get home."
"And clean it out, you do."
Yes. He did. His eyebrows knitted together, "Yeah, well, I suppose like friendships, sand can be a bit messy."
"I believe your flippancy is only a way of showing you understand," the Protector said, "As with castles in the sand, you make friendships so easily, and toss them aside, leave them to sun and water just as easily."
"Not all of them." The Doctor's mind went back to Rose. Where was she? The last he remembered she was twirling her hair and talking about visiting Paris...was she on a beach like this? Well, knowing Rose it was probably more of a sandbox.
Was one of these grains supposed to have been Rose? He looked down at the sand on his hand, but the breeze blew the tiny grains away.
"All of them, Doctor." The Protector nodded slowly, then turned back towards the beach, "I will send you home, we will meet again."
"Oh, will we?"
"Yes. I protect what needs me."
The Doctor gave her retreating back a sidelong look, "What if I don't want a protector?"
The Protector looked over her shoulder, and a slight smirk twitched her lips, "I did not say I was yours."
Muse: the Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 801