Written with Bat for Lashes on repeat. It sort of does work as a sountrack!
Title: Remember This, Remember Me
Word Count: 8500
Summary: There is a hole in Amy’s memory.
Author Notes: Written out of loving the series so much so far but missing Rory quite a lot as well. Betaed by the lovely shaggydogstail. Written before 5x11.
Amy remembers the Doctor as seen by her child self, this madman in a box who was weird and new and exciting and liked fish and custard, of all things. The Doctor for her adult self is just as weird, and just as exciting, but maybe also infuriating, and old, and appealing in the way fire is — you know you’ll get burned, but the temptation to touch it is still there.
She also remembers being left behind, and waiting in the dark, her ears cold as she sat on her suitcase. She remembers writing about the Raggedy Doctor, making dolls of him and her and playing at having adventures in some far away land, growing more like soap operas or cheap romance novels as she grew older herself.
She remembers dressing up and playing in front of mirrors, acting out both parts because she didn’t have anyone else to play with. Remembers psychiatrists one through four, all of the repeating variations of the same theme. Remembers biting psychiatrist number two the twelfth time he said the Doctor was just in her head, and how much like retribution it had felt like finally taking some of the power back. She didn’t get dessert for a week after that, but the moment was sweet enough to make up for it.
She can remember her dreams about the Doctor changing from befriending princesses and fighting evil villains to hands on skin and laboured breathing. Remembers trying out these fantasies with boys, but never quite being able to give herself entirely away. Truth is, by the time her childhood imaginary friend came back, looking the same and still as mad, she’d almost managed to convince herself it’d all been in her head.
She remembers a lot of things, but she has the feeling that there is something she’s forgotten and she can’t remember what.
It drives her a bit mad.
Rome in the 8th century is a Rome diminished, robbed of its former glory, and left to slumber in the ruins of a far grander city.
“Not much to see,” Amy says, barely out of the TARDIS, nose wrinkled and hands on her hips.
The Doctor sighs. “I should stop taking you around, then, if you’re going to get picky.”
She pouts. “Well, Venice was better.”
And it was, it was old but still vibrant and maybe a bit smelly but the canals were clear and so green and the sound the water made as it lapped at the old stone buildings was soothing and never ending.
Venice was running amidst the labyrinth of a city and taking pictures of herself doing funny faces with her phone and vampires. Lots of vampires. That were actually bugs. Or something.
The Doctor gets a bit of a haunted look about him. “Yes, well, Venice is something else. Romantic place, Venice.”
Amy’s eyebrow goes up. “That the reason you took me there? Aw, that’s cute, Doctor.”
“Can we please concentrate on Rome, now?” he asks, before he starts gesticulating wildly. “Rome! City of emperors! Home of the Renaissance!”
“Where are the gladiators I was promised, then?”
“Ah, yes. It would seem we’re a bit late for them.” He has the presence of mind to look a bit embarrassed. “The TARDIS can be a bit fickle at times.”
She starts walking away. Gladiators or not, there has to be something interesting to see. “River was right, you are so not qualified to drive the TARDIS. Did you steal it, or what?”
He lets out an offended gasp as he walks faster to catch up with her. “I— I resent that!”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say. First one to spot an alien wins ten quid!” she calls over her shoulder before running in search of adventure.
He follows close. She wins, of course, and she demands that he pays up.
“Maybe you can get in another swordfight.”
“What swordfight? There was no swordfight. You can be so weird, Doctor.”
Seeing dinosaurs is rather fantastic, or at least, it is until the third time she’s almost eaten.
There’s a 39 feet long Carcharodontosaurus behind them, nine tons of muscle and large, large teeth and deafening roars. The air is humid here, full of buzzing insects. The vegetation is thick, and the branches leave welts on their arms and faces as they try to make way through them, and her lungs feel like they’re going to burst. The ground shakes beneath their feet as the dinosaur chases them.
The Doctor is grinning as he says, “Don’t stop running!”
All in all, and considering she doesn’t really want to become dino-food and get found in the stomach of a fossil a few million years later, it’s a pretty silly thing to say, really.
Amy has this dream, this incredibly frustrating dream, in which she’s sneaking into the med lab in the TARDIS, unspoken territory of the Doctor’s, and she’s giggling and maybe a little bit drunk and when hands turn her around she’s ready to kiss him, to pull this unknown man closer. You’re sure it’s all right? he asks, ever the worrier, and she smiles wickedly, presses to him. Oh, live a little, she says, but that’s not all, she also says his name, her mouth moves around the letters, but it’s as if the world has gone silent, and she can’t hear herself pronounce it.
He gives in rather fast, lets her lay him down on the observation bed, in the middle of the room and with strange, foreign machines all around them. She straddles him, starts pulling off her shirt just to get caught in it. He helps her out of it with a tenderness that makes her smile. You’re crazy, he says. You like me for it, she says, and he grins and kisses her stomach, nodding against her.
They move fast, because the threat of the Doctor walking in at any moment is very real, and it’s the same risk that has her heady and dazed, arching at the first touch. She can’t make out his face, it’s all a blur, but she can feel his hands on her and his long nose pressed against her neck as he drags his teeth over her skin, as he moves to make it easier for her to unzip his trousers.
She grinds down on him and brings him in her, underwear still on and just moved to the side, so careless and so good, and she has to stop for a moment just to feel it, eyes heavenward and hands holding her hair up, feeling feverish and hot. He sighs her name, and Amy likes it enough to make him repeat it, over and over, and it grows into a chant as they move together, as he comes and she follows and as they rest together, sweaty and sticky; spent.
She doesn’t know this man but she does. He’s focused and serious while she’s carefree and childish, and they fit together, complement each other in a way. He calms her down and she makes him wild and if only she knew who he is, if only she could say the name on the tip of her tongue. Every single detail feels so real, so true.
The dream changes some nights. Sometimes it’s set in her room, sometimes in an ice planet, sometimes she’s just drinking tea in the morning with the faceless man before leaving for work. She loves it and she hates it but most of all it intrigues her.
It’s so vivid it’s almost like a memory, which can’t be, because Amy would surely remember if it had ever happened.
They’re two thousand light years from Earth, in Fueni, a planet resembling Siberia in quite a remarkable way, researching a creature under a frozen lake rumoured to steal children away. They’re staying in a wooden cabin — the Doctor called it something else, but at the end of the day it looks like wood to her. It’s peaceful, in a postcard picture kind of way. She’s bloody bored.
“If I hadn’t seen that people around these places have orange eyes, I’d think you were lying and actually took me to Russia.”
“You’ve been to Russia before?”
“I’ve seen photos.”
“Oh, in that case it’s fine then, if you’ve seen photos,” The Doctor says with the closest he can get to an eye roll.
They find a bottle of this alcohol-like thing in the cabin, and they’re drunk by the third shot.
“I’m not drunk,” he says, frowning.
“Denial, Doctor, so much denial.”
They end up sharing silly stories, out of anything else to do. He tells her about Gallifrey and its hats. And about his possibly sort of maybe evil ex-boyfriend and how he’d almost blown up planets. A couple of times. Maybe. “Sounds charming,” she says, eyebrows up, and he just mumbles a bit.
She tells him about the time she’d almost been expelled in the sixth year for getting caught smoking. “Worst bit is, they weren’t even real smokes, they were some of those chocolate cigarettes, we just wanted to look cool in front of the fifth years, and then we had to eat the evidence, but we—” she stops herself, frowns. “That’s weird.”
“I said we, but it was really just me. I was alone, pretending to smoke. I could’ve sworn there was someone else, though. Weird way to remember it.” She shrugs, and for some reason, the Doctor suddenly looks more sober, less cheerful. He comes closer, looks at her like she’s a specimen to figure out.
“Try to remember, Amy. Is that how it went?”
“Of course it was. It what other way could it have gone?” There’s something tugging at the edge of her mind. Something she should know.
“The creature just got out of the lake.”
So they go after it, running out of the cabin into the deep snow and she forgets about the thing she was supposed to remember.
Sometimes Amy can’t understand herself. She’s got just what she’s always wanted. The Doctor, her childhood hero, the man that saved her from the crack in her wall. Adventure, danger, all of the things she had spent a lifetime missing while in Leadworth, dreaming up fantasy worlds as a change from the routine in the town stuck in time, forever the same. A place where she is not the strangest thing, the most foreign.
And yet there’s a nagging feeling in the back of her head saying that there’s something wrong with this picture.
They survive a lethal virus, barely, and when she presses him against him in the console room and kisses him, she can taste his sweat and feel the adrenaline still flowing through her body. He kisses back for a second before pushing away, a reflection of the last time this happened.
“We’ve been through this before!” he practically shrieks, looking far too alarmed.
“And even then it didn’t make sense!” she pulls at his coat lapels. “Come on, Doctor. I’m single, you’re single, we survived. What’s the harm in it?”
He tenses all over at her words, teeth clenched. “But you’re not single.”
“Of course I am, I’d sort of know if I wasn’t, wouldn’t I?” she says, and he looks so distant, so sad all of the sudden. She frowns back, and they stare at each other for a moment, uncertain and awkward.
“You want this,” he finally says, then nods a little to himself, and she’s about to ask what’s his problem when he leans in to kiss her again, shoulders hunched and a hand cupping the back of her head. She moves closer, opens his mouth with her tongue, and he complies with something akin to resignation. Something’s horribly wrong. She pulls away, and what she sees in his expression enrages her.
He tries following her, to bring her close as if to distract her, and she struggles free, pushes him away hard enough for his back to hit the console with a dull thud.
“I don’t need your pity!” she says, furious, and he just stays there, tousled and half sprawled on the console.
“I just.” He doesn’t seem to know how to go on.
“You just what, thought you’d humour me?”
“I just don’t know how to make it better,” he says, serious and quiet, looking far too honest.
“Well I’m fine! I’m fine, I don’t need— I’m fine,” she says, but she’s crying and she can’t seem to be able to stop. The Doctor holds her again, kisses her forehead and it’s completely different this time, just a small comfort as she feels worn thin and hollow, and she doesn’t know why, just that it’s making her sob harder.
They stay like that for a while, sitting on the floor on the console room, swaying together, his shirt wet and her trembling for a long time even after she stops crying.
It feels like she’s grieving for something she’s lost, but she just can’t remember what.
Things are tense, after. It’s unexpected, because the entire ordeal was anything but appealing, but they both gave away too much of themselves, and intimacy can also be seeing someone at their most vulnerable.
They’re quiet and awkward for a few days, travelling by rote, keeping to themselves for the most part. She raids the wardrobe, discovers some new skirts to add to her collection, looking like they came straight from the 60s.
The Doctor adds a popcorn machine to the console. The popcorn tastes horrible, but he looks proud of himself.
She’s more cynical than usual and he talks even more, if that was possible. So they just end up squabbling if they’re in the same place for too long.
They end up stranded for a few days when the milk delivery lorry the TARDIS had landed on left for its usual route around the small county in Canada they’re in, and partly because they don’t have any money and partly because they have to do something while they wait for the lorry to get back, they decide to go camping.
Camping in this case involves a stolen sheet sort of tied to some trees, and a small fire. They do toast marshmallows in the bonfire, though. Amy’s never gone camping, but movies have always said that’s what people do while at it, so that’s what they do, and the Doctor doesn’t mind it because it’s a sweet gooey thing, of course he would like it. She says she thinks you’re also supposed to sing while camping, and when he starts singing she changes her mind rather fast, says actually she got it wrong, singing is bad bad bad and he should henceforth refrain from it. He looks just a bit offended.
It’s subtle enough that it’s hard to notice, but after two days stuck in the forest and getting their food stolen by racoons, they’re almost back normal, fighting over who left the cookies out for the wildlife to sniff them instead of looking warily at each other from opposite sides of the console room.
When they get the TARDIS back, it smells just a little bit like milk, and it no longer feels like sharing rooms with a stranger.
The Doctor has to wear a formal suit when they go undercover in this charity ball hosted in a floating platform next to a waterfall in 40th century Venezuela. He looks decidedly uncomfortable.
When they’re getting ready, she almost steps in to get his tie a bit looser, as it looks like he’s about to be choked by it, but her fingers are almost touching him when he jumps back, so little she could convince herself she imagined it, but it still makes her drop her arms to her sides, makes her yearn for simpler times. They seem to be in a weird limbo where something has been broken, but not completely, and it might be better to break it altogether to build it up again.
She goes back to fixing her hair, and a while later she stops for a second from trying to keep her hair in place to admire him, had cocked to the side and hands on her hips, as he fidgets with his cuffs. “Aw, look at you. My boys, looking almost respectable.”
His head snaps up, blinking rapidly. He moves closer, shoulders hunched and attention solely on her, so intense she has to stop herself from stepping back.
“What did you call me? Amy, who else were you talking about?” He flashes the sonic screwdriver on her eyes, one after the other, like a proper doctor would a flashlight.
“What? Just you, obviously, what— oh, stop that!” She takes the screwdriver from him, but he’s still peering at her with narrowed eyes. This is becoming too frequent. “I swear, you’re getting weirder and weirder in your old age, Doctor.”
“Mmm, perhaps,” he finally says, moving away but still staring at her, with the air of someone who is obviously just saying what other people are expecting to hear.
There’s something about the exchange that doesn’t quite sit well with her, that makes her anxious and distracted, so she pushes it away, dressed fancy and puts on lipstick and leaves for a party. There is champagne flowing and appetizers and everyone is buying their tale of Amy being this fantastically rich heiress and the Doctor being her latest boy toy. She suggested the idea, and it wasn’t subjected to vote.
So it all goes well until it doesn’t. The lights go out, and people fall off the platform and the waterfall starts flowing backwards and the screaming starts.
Later, once they figure out who was it that invaded the Earth and changed the laws of physics, he explains the science to a group of terrified partygoers. He keeps his shoulders up as he paces, arms almost against his chest, hands in front of him, fingers moving. He looks almost like he’s curling up on himself, and even his attention is inwards, eyes unfocused and blank, practically talking to himself.
“—And that’s how it works. Rather ingenious, really, I sort of wish I’d of thought of it myself, and—”
Amy interrupts before they all die of confusion. “Yes, that’s all very good, but how do we fix it?”
He turns to look at her, finger pointing in her direction. “Now that is a very good question.”
In the end, Amy’s solution is to bomb the cable-covered machine that’s causing the whole thing. It works all right, all things considered, so they save the world again and Amy gets invited to at least five country club parties (the Doctor gets invited to none, in consequence of seemingly just being Amy’s slightly weird and penniless kept man), and they finish the day by drinking a cup of slightly purple tea in the kitchen, where the kettle magically decided to work again after a month of playing dead.
“Good work there, Pond,” he says, toasting her.
“Elemental, my dear Doctor.”
Amy has a tricky relationship with change.
Change meant having dead parents, moving to England and being a stranger in a strange land, the little and somewhat odd Scottish orphan.
Change also meant meeting the Doctor, realising there were adventures to be had, dreams that could be real, and change was also realising at age ten that if the Doctor wasn’t coming back, she was going to have to find her own adventures. Change has made her life stop and get moving again, so she welcomes it, looks for it.
She changes her name first. She changes her hair at thirteen, bright blue and her aunt nearly has a heart attack. There’s pink and blonde and, briefly, black, during the goth phase she would rather forget about. Her hair takes ages to get back to normal, when she’s sixteen.
She lies about her name, then, invents identities and introduces herself as Laura in the witness protection program or Claudia, haunted reincarnation of a warrior princess, murdered by her own brother. It’s fun, for a while, but everyone knows her in Leadworth, so it doesn’t take long for it to be obvious they’re all humouring her, the weird girl that spent her childhood making cartoons of her imaginary friend.
So she becomes a kissogram, changes from nurse to firefighter to naughty, naughty nun, and it’s exciting, so different from her usual life in the sleepy town. So she goes and kisses strangers while wearing a different skin to her own, teases them and winks on her way out and she might still be the odd Scottish girl, but now it’s by her choice, she’s in control of her weirdness, just as she is when she now paints her nails a different colour everyday in her room in the TARDIS. Change can be in the little details.
She can feel another change coming, and she’s ready for it, or at least she likes to think she is.
There is the Doctor and her hiding in a closet from the army personnel who have finally realised they’re not supposed to be there, and maybe they’re closer than strictly necessary, panting from running and faces red, and just maybe, when they hear footsteps outside, they move closer still, and the panting is not just from the running anymore.
“I’m no good, you know,” he says, voice low. “Not for you or anyone that gets too close, or even for those who don’t, to be honest.” He sounds matter of fact, like he’s giving away something important but doesn’t want to admit that he is, and yet he doesn’t pull away.
“Are we talking about Elizabeth I?” she asks, half serious, but what she wants is so much more basic and less important to what he thinks he’s denying.
“No. Yes. Maybe. She’s only part of it.” He rests his forehead on the wall behind her, and she can see him frown, eyes closed. “What I’m saying is, you’re too clever for this.”
“Being clever has nothing to do with wanting to do the obvious stupid thing.”
“You’re the one with his hand on my hip, Doctor.”
This is going nowhere or maybe going somewhere by going nowhere, but then the door opens and the military doesn’t seem pleased and they’re very unceremoniously thrown out.
But the Doctor keeps looking, says, “You really don’t know how much of a bad idea it’d be. You know how old I am, for starters.”
“Probably not. I bet you’ve been 908 for the past fifty years.” He looks a bit guilty.
Definitely, change is coming. It’s the fact that she can’t tell if it’ll be good or it’ll be bad that makes her so excited for it.
They go see the new life form discovered in Titan in her time. It’s not very exciting. When they go forward forty million years in the same place, the grandness of their civilization takes her breath away.
They’re too late to save anyone in the Ikbar peninsula, in the Gwerny planet, and Amy finds she can’t sleep that night. She can still feel the ash on her skin.
So she wanders through the endless hallways of the TARDIS, letting her feet and the ship guide her. The floor is cold under her bare feet, but she doesn’t mind it much. Her aimless walking inevitably takes her to the library, as it has done already a fair share of times.
The swimming pool is in the library, after all, grander than she could ever have imagined. The bookcases curve towards the ceiling, as high as a cathedral, and the gas lamps give it an almost ethereal look, like it could flicker out of existence at any moment. In the centre of the room, the pool is more like a lagoon, quiet and still and light green with tiny orange fishes swimming around. The floor is covered by rugs, mismatched and in varying states of decolouration, but still soft under her feet. They drag over the edge of the pool, growing damp at the corners, and the algae-like filaments that have come loose sway softly in the water.
The library has become Amy’s favourite room in the TARDIS, perhaps because it had been the first thing she’d heard about her, or because she’d been picturing the room in her head for the past fourteen years. The reality of it always soothes her, takes a little of the bite away of having been considered the town crazy for so long.
She sits by the edge of the pool, dips her legs in and throws her head back. She’s felt uneasy for weeks, ever since that time in the console room with the Doctor. These days, she’s starting to wonder if some of the psychiatrists didn’t have the right idea. So many of her memories don’t make sense; walking back from school, talking to herself, leaving gaps in conversation as if waiting for an answer. Skinny dipping by moonlight in a small lake near her house, laughing and splashing the empty space, feeling so alive and turned on; so wicked and amazed at corrupting someone — something. Someone? She’s not sure. Something is missing.
With a frustrated sigh, she throws herself into the water, cold enough to make her lungs ache for a moment. The pool is deep enough that she only touches the floor with her toes for a moment before she has to come up for air, gasping. When she resurfaces, the Doctor is sitting in an armchair near the water, playing with something that looks like a small box.
“Couldn’t sleep?” he asks, not looking at her, but at whatever it is that he has in his hands. She shakes her head, swims half the length of the pool and then just floats there, staring up into the ceiling painted with the constellations, hair and white flimsy nightgown haloing around her.
Her ears are underwater, and when the Doctor speaks again, she can only hear gibberish and has to make him repeat himself.
“I said, maybe we should go somewhere nice. Harmless. Like the Disneyland opening, or, or, I know, the Makrasse floating woods. They’re brilliant this time of the year, those.”
She shakes her head again. “Not today.”
He sighs, agrees. “No, not today.”
“Is there even a time of the year in here?” she asks as she swims close to shore, or the rugged surface, in this case.
“Of course there is. It’s, ah, September, I think.” He scratches his head. “Or maybe December. I did see some snow somewhere today. But I’m almost certain it’s one of those. Probably.”
“Why am I not surprised?”
They fall into a comfortable silence for a while, as he sits and thinks and she dives and looks up into the light from the dark water, as if through a green filter, and tries not to think. After a while, her fingertips are wrinkly. She vaguely wonders how the Doctor knew she was there, or why he decided to come. She guesses neither of them wanted to be alone tonight, or else they both would have kept to their sides of the maze the hallways create.
“What’s that?” she finally asks, pointing at the box in his hands.
He looks startled, and maybe a little bit guilty. “This? Nothing.” He puts it away in his coat, a bit too fast, and it’s most definitely not nothing, but it’s been a long day and she doesn’t feel like asking.
She gets out of the pool, nightgown sticking to her and practically sheer against her skin, and when she turns around to walk away or maybe just stay and lie around at the shade of all these strange books, the Doctor is watching her, intent, head angled downwards but eyes on her, breathing a bit fast. Her pulse quickens, and he’s finally seeing her, not whatever it is he thinks she wants.
His voice gets her moving. She walks toward him, slow, and there’s only a slight hesitation before she straddles him, still dripping, and before his hands go around her waist.
“What’s different now?”
“This is me being selfish.”
He’s just as damp in moments, but he doesn’t seem to mind as he reaches up to kiss her, no more words in between them as she kisses back, as she gets a cold hand under his shirt and hears him gasp. It’s so unlike the last times, far more grown up than stolen kisses and assumed sexy poses, and she’s almost dizzy with how different it feels. Different to what, she can’t tell, because every time is different, the procession of semi-known boys since she was sixteen. Sex has never been about meaning for her, but about feeling, so this is what she does now, as she arches into the Doctor and gasps as he bites at her still-covered breasts, as she moves slowly against him, his hands moving under her nightgown.
It’s tricky to take their clothes off, but they stay in the armchair, mouths touching as they rock together, quiet and slightly desperate, her arms around his neck and his hands in her hair. Her toes curl up and he trembles and after, when he kisses her temple it feels almost wrong, like a too familiar gesture used in the wrong setting.
She’s wanted to sleep with the Doctor for ages, but this is nothing like the playful follow up to her teenage fantasies. She wanted carefree sex, and she can’t help but feel she’s gotten more than she bargained for. They stay like that for some time, getting their breaths back, still entwined.
“I guess I can cross intergalactic sex off the list, then,” she says, and it’s such a stupid thing to say but he chuckles against her shoulder, and the mood gets lighter.
A while later she dives back into the pool, still naked and sticky, and floats on her back for a long time, with him watching from the shore. When he gets into the water as well and pulls at her feet and kisses her underwater, she’s almost expecting it, and then the next day they go and get to save people and another world and things are all right, for the most part.
In York in the eleventh century, they’re held in a cell for supposedly stealing fruit. It’s completely humiliating, especially when the Doctor casually pulls an apple out of a coat pocket and stars biting it while humming, after she spent an hour proclaiming their virtue and honest character and such.
“It’s not like you don’t ever steal anything,” he says after she’s yelled at him and then taken the apple and finished it herself because she’s not above being petty.
“Yeah, but at least I don’t get caught, thanks.”
“I did intend to pay for it! I just got distracted. It wasn’t my fault.”
The door is wood, so the sonic screwdriver is useless, and they have to wait to escape in the old fashion way. The guard outside seems determined not to ever fall asleep, though.
They’ve already played twenty-three rounds of noughts and crosses on the dirty floor, fifteen of hangman until she got tired of him setting the words about movies years into her future, and they’ve already spied everything that could be spied in the room. She feels like she’s going out of her mind with boredom, and she knows he can’t be far behind.
They’re sitting together on the floor at the back of the cell, legs outstretched and shoulders touching. They’re both staring ahead, at the guard that’s sniggering and wheezing as he reads this century’s version of pornography. He looks far too amused. Amy reckons it’s all probably uncovered ankles or something.
“So, why a kissogram?” the Doctor asks, after having checked his watch for what is probably the 800th time in the four hours they’ve been there.
“Well that’s not random at all,” she says, eyebrows up.
“I’m curious. And bored. Did I mention bored? Because I am.” He pokes her foot with his. He repeats the gesture with his head, just a quick touch to her temple.
She shrugs, knows he can feel it when they’re pressed so close. “It’s easy money. I like the attention. And it’s fun work, it’s good for a laugh. And if I was already the village weirdo, I might as well keep at it.”
“So what did your, you know, suitors, have to say about it?” he says, mouth in a thin line, disapproving, and she rolls her eyes and huffs in response.
“Oh God, listen to you! I can’t believe I slept with you, Doctor, you sound like such a grumpy grandfather.”
“But I am a grandfather,” he says, and that’s news, so she files it away for later.
“Well not my grandfather, that’d be just creepy.” She shrugs again. “It’s not like it would be any of their business, but I’ve never really had any long-term thing with anyone. I tend to get bored fast.”
“Oh. No one, then?” There’s an extra layer of meaning under his words, something that makes the back of her head itch, that she feels she ought to know already.
“No. Where are you going with this? You better not expect me to say you’re actually my one true love and to shed some tears and say something about the power of love.”
“Ah, no, not quite expecting that.”
“You’re not going to go and kidnap some of my exes just to see how you compare, are you?”
He tries to look wounded. “Would I?”
“Something tells me that yes, you would,” she says with narrowed eyes.
“Maybe kidnap is too strong a word. I prefer invite.”
She snorts. “I bet you do. I’ve seen the wardrobe and all of those rooms in the TARDIS. Is that what you do, just go around kidnapping people when you get bored?”
He looks slightly embarrassed. “I didn’t kidnap you.”
“Well, you did lure me to leave, with that whole ‘oh, I have a spaceship, oh it has indoor pools, oh, it travels in time and it’s so awesome, you have to see this’ and then you sort of forget to mention you end up in jail, and with a horrible porridge-like thing for lunch.” On the whole, she thinks her voice of him sounds quite accurate. He doesn’t, and they bicker over it for a while until they hear snoring from outside the cell. The guard is finally asleep, which they were too distracted to notice.
Escaping after that is sort of a piece of cake once Amy picks the lock with some of her hairpins, and she even gets to shoot some arrows while they’re being chased, which she’d always wanted to do. Maybe the day is not a complete waste after all.
After, when they’re back in the TARDIS, they undress each other, pressed against a wall in one of the never-ending hallways, exhilarated. As Amy slides her nails down his back, he stills, looks at her intently. “So there wasn’t anyone, in Leadworth?”
She rolls her eyes. “No, Doctor, there wasn’t anyone,” she says, anxious to get moving again, to not over think this, it’s always better if she doesn’t think about consequences.
The Doctor looks disappointed and relieved and maybe ashamed and definitely a bit guilty, but not guilty enough not to kiss her under her earlobe, soft, and then reaching down her knickers.
It’s confusing, unnerving, and he’s been like this for a while, treating her like she’s fragile but pushing at the same time, but now his breath is tickling her ear and her blood is flowing fast and she lets go, puts her mind on the present.
She can worry about it later.
Amy has never been in love. That’s a fact.
And yet for some reason she feels as if she can recognize the emotion, whenever they run against star-crossed lovers and tragic doomed couples or just the mildly happy, boring kind of lovers with debts to pay and dogs to walk. It makes her skin itch whenever she and Doctor have to stay near some of the people in those categories for too long. They make her nervous, those people, because for some reason it feels too close to home.
Her memories say she’s been half in love with the Doctor for most of her life, but another part of her head says it’s not that easy.
There’s something that she’s not taking into account, something that changes things. She just wishes she could figure it out.
The Doctor takes her to the biggest waterfall in the universe, deep in the heart of a jungle inside a palace inside a cave, and there are birds singing and soft light that seems to shine out of the plants themselves and it’s so much like a fairytale that Amy can’t speak, can’t do anything but stare in wonder.
The lush vegetation is lavender-coloured, twisted branches that curl around trees, a thick carpet that covers everything. The air is fresh, humid with the steam of the waterfall in front of them, so tall she can’t see the end of it, just layers and layers of white veils crashing against rocks, the water shining in the soft light.
He’s grinning at her, almost shaking with contained excitement. “Told you it’d be good,” he says and she just nods, slightly speechless. “Now wait till you see the crystals growing behind the water!”
She grins back as she takes the hand he’s offering her, and they run in search of an adventure.
Apart from fish and custard, the Doctor likes lamb with chocolate chip mint ice cream, and, worst of all, Marmite.
He hardly ever seems to sleep, he just wanders around, tinkering with bits of the TARDIS that don’t need tinkering with and knocking on her door at ungodly hours of the morning, asking if she’s slept enough and can’t they go somewhere and isn’t she bored as well? Her aim at throwing pillows has gotten quite good.
He solves equations for fun in his free times, muttering incredibly large numbers to himself and half sentences (“oh, so it’s—no, that can’t be right—oh, I see now,”) as he sits in one of the armchairs in the library, working on what probably is the Gallifreyan equivalent of sudoku books. She lies nearby on the rugs, hair dragging into the pool as she reads books so far into her future that she struggles with the technology they mention, and idly wonders what Victorians would have made of her time’s literature.
She mentions she could do with a blow dryer, and he builds one that also dyes hair and can produce chocolate bars on demand, but only if you press the correct combination of buttons in the right order while singing Bohemian Rhapsody. The chocolate’s good, but the pistachio flavor never comes out right.
He can never seem to stay still, seems to need to keep moving, and she has the feeling that he’s perpetually trying to escape something, be it his people or the lack of them and maybe his own past, even his own future.
She likes pressing close when they have sex, to feel both of his hearts drumming against her skin, off-beat. There’s an intensity to him that says he’s seen too much, lived too much, and it’s almost tempting to try and drag out that hidden, nasty side of him he probably keeps buried for good reason.
Maybe it’s that exact thrill that keeps her dragging him to her, keeps her wrapping herself around him even when he so obviously means trouble. She likes taking risks, Amy does.
He’s rude, he always says the wrong thing, he sometimes sniffs people while he greets them and he can talk to cats. His sole concession to beaches is taking off his boots, and sometimes, he might even roll up his trousers. He hand gestures maybe a bit too much and he speaks to himself an alarmingly big portion of the time.
Even after everything she’s seen, he is still the single strangest creature Amy has known. The Doctor saves children and condemns their parents a bit too soon, saves planets and destroys some others. He is brilliant, and maybe a little dangerous, and he is crazy enough to make Amy’s own madness look like nothing.
After a while of knowing him, it’s hard to believe she ever thought he was human.
She finds the Doctor in the music room, morosely pressing the keys of a dusty grand piano that looks just a little bit off, like it was made by someone that had a vague idea of what a piano looked like, but couldn’t remember it exactly. Even the sound is a bit unnerving.
He startles when she talks. “A little early for angst, isn’t it? Come on, Doctor, maybe this time we can finally get to Rio.”
“Mmm, yes, I quite doubt that.”
She gasps in surprise. “Honesty at last, wow, I’m shocked at this admission, Doctor.”
He’s still pressing keys at random, looking away from her. “Is it better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all, Amy?”
“If that’s your attempt at poetry, it’s very clichéd.”
“No, I’m trying to be selfless. So, is it better to—”
“Did you make this?” She interrupts, jumping on the piano and swinging her legs, shoulders moving in time with her legs, as if about to burst out dancing.
His face is blank for a moment. It’s not often he looks that confused. “I— what? Yes. When I was still in the academy.”
“Ohh, the place with the funny hats?” She stretches out the ‘oh’, her body still in movement; she’s never liked staying still. “Figures. It looks like the poor thing went through a horrible Frankenstein treatment. It’s alive! It’s alive!” she hisses with her eyes open wide, hands up and fingers moving.
He stands up, grabs her hands to stop them. “Will you be quiet for a moment, I’m saying something here,” he says, jaw tense, and he lets go of her hands to rake through his hair with his own.
“You’re so rude, Doctor, my aunt would disapprove.”
He grabs her face, puts his forehead to hers, eyes closed. “Amy. What would you choose, remembering but suffering, or forgetting so much even the pain is gone?” He looks as if it pains him to say it, and the question feels important, burdened with meaning, feels like a life changing event for some reason she can’t quite understand, so she thinks it over for a while before speaking.
“I have a right to my memories,” she says, not really knowing why she’s wording it like that, but feeling it to be right.
He nods, still pressed to her, and she thinks he might kiss her but he just pushes slightly away, gets a box out of his coat and puts it in her hands. There’s a ring inside.
“I’m not marrying you, Doctor, don’t be daft.”
He shakes his head. “No, it’s from someone else. He gave it to you.”
She frowns. “I think I’d remember being proposed to, thanks.”
“And that’s the problem. Just— just put it on.”
Still frowning, she takes the ring out of the box, watches it at eye-level for a minute before putting it on her finger.
And then she remembers Rory.
She stays still for a moment, letting the memories wash over her, Rory’s laughter against her shoulder in the mornings, the way he studied too much before exams and drank too much coffee and ended up shaky and grumpy. The way his voice wavered as he gave her this ring.
When she looks up and sees the Doctor’s face, he has dread on his face. She jumps off the piano, mouth in a thin line, stares up to him. “You knew about this. You still remembered him.” It’s a statement, not a question.
She pushes at him, furious. “And you didn’t tell me? What gives you the right to decide for me?”
“You wouldn’t have believed me if I’d just told you about him, your memories were gone.”
“You didn’t even try!”
“I tried to get you to remember.”
“But you had the ring! You knew it’d bring the memories back.” She keeps shouting at his face, close and loud enough to make him cringe. It’s only fair, she thinks.
“I wasn’t sure, I—”
“And I’ve seen you with it before, you’ve had it all along!” She’s still pushing him, until he’s cornered against the wall, almost tripping with a couple of old cellos, and then she just grabs his lapels hard enough for her knuckles to go white. “And you let me go on without remembering him, missing him without knowing? Why?”
He swallows hard, and it seems to pain him to speak, to meet her eyes, but he does as he answers her. “I wasn’t sure it would work. And then you started saying all these things, like your mind was slipping.”
“And then you stopped insisting,” she cuts in, eyes wide, thinking over all the small comments, the constant chant of ‘remember, Amy, you have to remember,’ and how he’d barely said it for weeks now. “You said you were being selfish, that time.”
“I was. I — I didn’t want you to go.”
“That’s not your choice, Doctor.”
“I know. I know.” He closes his eyes, rests his head back against the wall. “And now you know. It’s your choice.” He looks beaten down, resigned, but she can’t stand the sight of him right at this moment, so she lets go of him, walks out of the room without looking back.
She wonders around, not knowing where to go. She starts opening doors at random, finding, in turn, a room with walls like a bouncy castle, a room made entirely out of darkness and a second kitchen, complete with a coal stove. She finds a small garden, some doors later, and she sits on a lawn under a flowering orange tree.
It’s peaceful here, and she cries silently, for Rory and for what could have been and out of anger at herself, for having dared forgotten him. Once she calms down, a long time later, she can think clearly for the first time in what feels like ages.
She can remember dragging Rory clubbing, how he always wanted to leave early when all she wanted was to dance some more, have another drink. Remembers staying in some nights and falling asleep on the sofa watching horrible action movies and how she’d always called it boring but how she actually liked it, found it cozy. She remembers his slightly baffled smile after he kissed her, like he couldn’t quite believe it. She remembers it and it hurts, having the memories back, but she’s gained back a piece of herself, and it’s worth it. Rory deserves to be remembered.
She doesn’t take the ring off again. She’s afraid she will forget again.
When she sees the Doctor again, he’s tinkering with what looks like an old radio, looking nervous. “I set a course for Leadworth, if you want,” he says, subdued.
She shakes her head. “Take me somewhere nice. Somewhere quiet.”
So he takes her to an enchanted-looking forest, covered with fog and snow, pure white against the dark green bristly leaves of the pines. She’s wearing red again today, it seems like she’s destined to wander in forests and fairytales and legends. Fairytales, the original ones, the ones passed down from mouth to mouth from the beginning of times, hardly ever finish with happy endings. Maybe she can rewrite her own.
Her hands dig deeper into her pockets, her breath coming out in little clouds. The Doctor doesn’t seem to mind the cold. They walk aimlessly for a long while, finally sitting on an upturned trunk, covered in lichen where the snow didn’t reach. It has started snowing, big snowflakes that fall almost too slow.
“I’m sorry,” she finally says. “You didn’t kill Rory, and you didn’t make me forget.”
He’s looking ahead, into the spreading whiteness. “But I still should have told you sooner.”
“Yes, you should have.”
“And I’m sorry about Rory.”
“Me too.” He puts a hand over her own, awkwardly, and she takes it, gives it a squeeze.
“What now?” he asks, and it’s strange to see him doubtful, hesitant, but she knows he’s doing it for her sake.
“Now I move on.”
She doesn’t want to but she knows she has too, she owes it to herself and to Rory and to the Doctor, who tried to protect her from the process in the entirely wrong way.
The stay like that until they’re covered in a thin layer of snow.
It’s months before she touches the Doctor again with intent, before he kisses her neck, hesitant enough to seem like he’s asking if it’s all right.
She once made Rory dress up as the Doctor during sex, a small perversion of their childhood games, and it feels like these two men have always been half entangled in her mind; she wanted a piece of the Doctor as a teenager with Rory, and now it seems like she wants a piece of Rory with the Doctor as an adult. They’re just her boys, the two men that have shaped her life. She’s never been exactly fair with either of them.
She knows this is not forever, it wouldn’t be her if she were to stay in one place for good, if she once tried it and accepted the ring on her finger was because of Rory; and it wouldn’t be the Doctor either to not move on to the next thing, it’s their nature.
But for now, they can kiss and gasp together and talk in the dark and see distant worlds together, save people and bring down corrupt governments and uncover mysteries, and that’s good enough.
As long as she remembers Rory, as long as there is at least a person in the universe that can smile at the thought of his awful singing and his even worst pancakes and the way he sighed her name in his sleep, he can’t be entirely dead.
She vows not to forget again.