Many thanks to Randomcat1832 for the lovely cover art!
The Consequences of Dreaming
"The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one's own." -Willa Cather
The laptop's screen had long since grown dark as it sat in front of her on the cluttered desk, but Amy had yet to notice this.
This was probably because really, Amy should be in bed, she had been tired for hours already, but she'd dreadfully neglected her writing this week and sleep was an easy thing to sacrifice. But when over two hours of intense focus had yielded only one unhappy sentence, she'd left it for a bit, just to make herself a cup of tea- with the hope that it might help her wrestle some of her distracted thoughts into actual words.
It had, bless it, but she wasn't typing. Instead, she was contemplating life, chin in hand, letting her mind wander about in the most random places, which any good sleep-deprived, caffeine-enhanced mind is wont to do.
Since nothing in her life had ever been as random as the Doctor, it was inevitable that her mind would end up fixating on him; how even after everything she'd seen with him, everything she'd done, there was still the one thing she had never been able to get used to.
The sheer unpredictability of it all.
Amy was a girl who had always liked to know what to expect, had always needed to be in control, and she was old enough now to realize that if traveling through time and space in a box couldn't change her- well, nothing ever would. Rory had certainly never dared try. But since the Doctor enjoyed predictability only slightly more than he enjoyed kissing Daleks, an attempt to be in control when he was involved would guarantee only one thing- frustration. His preferred way had all the schedule of a whirling hurricane, and if he happened upon any well-laid plans or preconceived ideas the first thing he'd do is loosen all their bolts, just for the fun of watching them fly apart.
Amy had never appreciated that, and stubbornly continued to insist he have a rhythm to his madness.
Well, when two powerful opposing forces were as close as they were, there were bound to be a few explosions, sometimes ignited by the stupidest small things.
When Amy Pond first agreed to travel with the Doctor in his TARDIS, she was fully expecting the adventures, the aliens, and even the time-travel. Of course she was. After all, she had seen evidence of all of this before she ever stepped foot onto his ship. Had believed in some of it for years, even. Since she was seven.
But all of her prior knowledge of spaceships had come from sci-fi movies like Star Wars; they were supposed to be cold, austere machines, all design effort centered around the technology needed to travel through the great wide beyond, and next to none given to something as insignificant as the creature comforts of her passengers.
Of course, no fictional spaceship she'd heard of was ever a bigger-on-the-inside box either, so Amy was forced to begin changing all of her assumptions spaceship-ward the minute she laid eyes on the TARDIS, and especially once she stepped across its worn wooden threshold. She had been stunned and impressed right off by the glassy beauty and smooth lines of the console room, but it was more than a day and another adventure later before she got a real tour out of the Doctor. And as they explored the labyrinthine corridors, with him pointing this way and that, leading her under high archways and into gorgeous, cavernous rooms, saying such unexpected things as swimming pool (no, she hadn't believed him earlier) and gardens and library, she was quite surprised to find that the word luxurious kept popping into her mind.
A luxurious spaceship? It seemed so wrong to her, as she followed him around, quietly taking it in. Who needed all of this? Weren't deprivations part of the excitement of going on adventures, part of the way one improved and strengthened one's character?
Well. It wasn't too hard for Amy to change her mind about that as she sat, not much later, warm and sleepy and relaxed, in her en-suite's enormous sunken bathtub, happily mulling over what was sure to be the biggest perk of them all.
The Doctor had told her that while on the TARDIS, there was no such thing as morning.
No mornings. Amy giggled and blew bubbles off her wet fingers as she tried to wrap her mind around such a concept. Morning, for her, had always been the most dreaded part of the day. Crawling out of a warm den of blankets, she'd always felt as cross as a bear coming off a long winter's hibernation. She wasn't tired, she had just always hated how it felt to leave her lovely dream-world, which existed so vividly while she was in bed, to go out into dull reality, facing a day full of things she didn't really want to do. When she was young it was school, then later in life, work or errands, with only the occasional lazy weekend to give her some relief.
But of course, all of these boring and disagreeable parts of life would disappear now that she'd begun traveling with the Doctor, and waking on an impossible spaceship with nothing but mad escapades to look forward to- well, it would be like waking up in a fairy-tale, and surely she would act the part of the princess.
Maybe she would even let him call her Amelia.
And she was right, in a way. It was like waking in a fairy tale, on her first morning-that-wasn't.
Unfortunately, she ended up bearing far more of a resemblance to the story's dragon than its princess.
No one was more greatly surprised by this than Amy. She was even more surprised than the Doctor, but only because the circumstance in which he had discovered this less-than-appealing trait of his new companion had inspired in him less surprise and more abject terror.
Not that he'd been without fault in the incident. He was just so ridiculously over-eager, like a child who's been handed a new toy and then told he has to wait before playing with it. It had proved nearly impossible to hold himself back. And who could blame him? They'd just come off their second adventure together, and it had been brilliant, and she'd been brilliant too, even more so than he'd expected. But he had kept her up for over twenty-four hours, and even the Doctor knew that was longer than a human would normally go before needing rest, so theoretically he also knew that she would probably sleep longer than normal to make up for it.
Still, that knowledge didn't prevent him from parking himself at the end of the corridor, listening hopefully for signs of life only four hours after she'd gone to bed. At six hours, he had his ear at her door, and two hours after that he was pacing the floor, wringing his hands and strongly reminding himself why it was not a good idea to go in and wake her up. (He had last traveled with Donna, after all, and the memory of what had happened when he'd pulled that trick on her was still vivid enough to prevent him.)
It was more than ten hours before Amy felt awareness pulling at her. Her head felt like it had been stuffed with cotton balls and she groaned and flipped over in the bed, determined to go back to sleep. Then she remembered where she was, and felt slightly cheered, but the next second realized that she hadn't intended on feeling like this at all when she woke. She was going to slide eagerly and effortlessly from slumber, then from bed, with a smile and -who knows? perhaps even a song, and her disappointment on discovering that this idea now repelled her made her feel even crosser than usual.
She slit one bleary eye open to look for the clock, her scheduling nature forcing her to justify staying in bed now that she was awake, only to have the empty bedside table remind her that 1.) there was no clock, and 2.) she'd been delighted about said clock's absence last night. Facts one and two now served only to anger her further, making a return to sleep impossible, and Amy literally kicked the blankets off her bed in frustration.
The Doctor, of course, was completely unaware of all of this, but wouldn't have been able to follow her rather remarkable thought processes if he had been. In fact, he had begun to worry that something dreadful had happened to her, when at long last he saw the door of her bedroom crack open from where he was still prowling round at the end of the corridor. Immediately heading toward it, a wide, delighted smile stretched across his face as soon as he saw her cautiously poke her head out of the room.
Amy noted the Doctor's appearance with dismay. He was positively radiating vibrance and energy and enthusiasm, whereas all she possessed at the moment was a head of wild ginger hair and tired, swollen eyes. Now all of these elements are mostly harmless on their own, but can be lethal when mixed, and although the Doctor was a clever fellow this was the type of chemistry lesson he'd always had a difficult time understanding. Thus, he didn't recognize the danger signs, the menacing gleam in the puffy eyes, and continued toward her recklessly.
"Amelia Pond!" he bellowed happily and she winced at his volume. "Rise and shine! Though I must say you do not look particularly shiny at the moment," he added, taking in her bedraggled appearance with a grimace, "but I'm sure old Winston won't mind. Blimey, I forgot how you humans sleep half your lives away," his tone plainly implying that he found the habit to be one of the most annoying he'd ever encountered in all of time and space. Then, as if this wasn't bad enough, her sluggish reflexes hadn't been able to prevent him from seizing her hand, then dragging her down the corridor at a truly unbelievable speed.
A empowering wave of fury belatedly crashed over her and she yanked her hand from his, causing him to finally slow down and glance back at her. The dangerous gleam in her eyes had grown to become something frightening enough to make even the Oncoming Storm completely stop in his tracks.
A few extremely rude but cleverly worded insults to his intelligence, manhood, and clothing choices later, plus a stinging slap to his bicep, saw him cowering in bewilderment while she disappeared round the corner in a swirl of white nightgown.
Amy smiled at the memory. More than ten years of traveling, dozens of adventures, and a wonderfully developed friendship later, and he still avoided her until she'd had her second cup of tea. She'd felt badly about the whole episode later and had apologized, and although he hadn't been upset with her, he was forever wiser and warier.
It was probably for the best, although once Amy had gotten over her ridiculously high expectations about the whole no morning thing she was easier to be around after she'd first woken up. Not easy, mind you, but easier- because she'd discovered that she didn't need her sleepy dream-world any longer. Why would she, when her actual life was now so much darker, so much madder, and so much better?
That was the first real perk of TARDIS travel. But nothing could top being the best friend of the Doctor, an amazingly complex man who'd saved so many lives, so many worlds. She'd had the privilege of being the one who saved him. Not just in a literal sense, although that was true too. She was a friend he could trust, he needed her, and being that for him brought her immense joy and satisfaction.
It was the sudden ache in her heart accompanying that thought which finally brought her back to reality. Oh, how she missed him. She hated it when he was so long between visits, when she couldn't help but start wondering if she'd ever see him again. Amy closed the dark laptop with a sigh and, ignoring the stiffness in her legs, got up and went to the window, pushing back the curtains. Where was he? she wondered, looking up at the stars. Unpredictable man. She could never know for sure.
She made a wish anyway.
"Raggedy Man, come home."