Chapter 28

You could say what you liked about the interior decorating, but nothing beat the showers in the TARDIS.

He was very glad, suddenly, that the TARDIS liked him. However it was that she'd decided that.

Either way, the shower pressure was great.

He got out, dried himself and opened the closet in his bedroom, towel around his waist. He crossed the room and opened his closet.

It was very typical of her to pull something like this.

"Funny," he deadpanned. He closed the closet and opened his dresser drawers. Same problem. Everything in the room was exactly as he remembered from his teenage years. Except for the clothes.

Wonderful.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, a woman giggled.

Matt sighed. "I refuse. I absolutely refuse. Give me my clothes back."

She gave him the color purple instead? And the letter 'I' rolling in a circle. The letter I...

Oh. She was rolling her eyes.

Sarcastic creature. Huffing, he tightened his hands around his towel and ran a hand through his wet hair. "If you were human, you'd be on of those trendy moms," he griped. "Giving their kids iPhones and dressing them weird cause it's 'cute'." He kicked an abandoned soccer ball.

She was amused.

And still didn't give him his clothes back.

Maybe the Doctor could figure her out. But no, he didn't want to go wandering around in a towel. And he definitely didn't want anyone seeing him in those clothes.

He opened his closet distastefully.

Then again, they were just clothes.

He'd just put on the pants and the dress shirt and shoes… ignoring the suspenders and bowtie she obviously wanted him to put on as well.

And then he'd go find the wardrobe and get himself something normal. Like a t-shirt and jeans. Yeah.

At least she'd given him underclothes, he thought. Decided, he dressed quickly, dried his hair with the towel.

A sentient ship. Sounds great in fiction.

Muttering to himself, he did up the buttons and turned toward the door, only to catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror and freeze. There it was again, stones of dread in his stomach.

He'd gotten used to seeing his face on someone else. It hadn't taken that long, actually. He didn't even associate the Doctor's face with his own. Not anymore. But he supposed he'd forgotten just how much he looked like the Doctor. If he stood still and ignored the rest of the reflection, he could easily imagine it wasn't even a mirror but a doorway that the Doctor was standing beneath. Without the jacket, with ruffled hair and slightly crooked buttons, it was a bit like he'd looked when he'd regenerated.

He cocked his head, fixed his wet hair once more, and the Doctor copied him exactly. "Right-o," Matt whispered.

Outside, the dim lit hallway was lined with lights near the floor like those in a movie theater. He followed them away from where he knew the console room was, realizing it was highly unlikely he'd just 'stumble upon' the wardrobe but still not wanting to run into his double.

He wandered down the hallways, a hand running over the bumps and edges of the metal plating on the walls. He had no idea where he was going, but it didn't worry him. Perhaps he should have been worried, but in the back of his mind, he figured if he was desperate he'd do something. There were worse places to be lost in. And the TARDIS liked him. Probably. Maybe this was how she showed affection. Playing tricks.

Or maybe she'd become bored him and now she wanted to keep him lost here forever. What a dismal thought.

The air thickened.

Matt stilled, all the hairs on his body prickling. If ghosts existed, he imagined this was what it would be like to run into one. "Nice of you to s-show up," he stuttered. He'd intended to sound irritated and bold, but it didn't work out that way. The hall went on for eternity, twisting and splitting more times than he could count. It was dark and cold. Silent but for the pops and sighs of distant machinery. Frightening.

Something cool and gentle curled in his hand. He looked down at it, shocked.

There was no one there.

But he could feel her. Right. There. Holding his hand.

He stared. "W-what are you doing? How are you doing that?"

Her grip tightened, and she pulled him forward. Matt followed. He suddenly wanted to know. He wanted to know what she looked like.

That couldn't be possible. She didn't have a physical form. She wasn't human.

But what was holding his hand otherwise?

He licked his dry lips, and they took a few turns. After four left turns, a bright voice echoed from a few halls away. He relaxed and squeezed her hand in gratitude.

And suddenly remembered what he was wearing. He cursed, pulling away and ducking into the shadows. The air lightened and the voice came closer. She did that on purpose.

"Hello?" said a bright voice. "Oh! Who's that?"

Amy. Of course.

Matt stepped cautiously into the light of her hallway. She had her hands on her hips, fresh clothes, and no shoes. "Just me."

She melted into a grin and bounced over to him. Her hand looped in his arm. "Hello, Doctor. Been looking for you. Rory's exhausted. Asleep in our room. It's been hours I think. Hard to tell in here. Don't you keep clocks somewhere?"

Matt opened his mouth. "Amy, I'm not-"

"I know, I know, that's not important. All of time and space, what does it matter what time it is when you've got a time machine? Anyway, I wanted to show you something I found." She led him to a lighter hallway and pulled open a glass door to the right. The smell of wet soil and flowers billowed into the hallway, and Matt couldn't help peeking his head inside. It was a great botanical garden filled with birds and trees and places to sit. The sun, or something like it, winked down from above them. Amy smiled and sat down on a stone bench. There was a peace in this room that the other rooms lacked. A slowness.

And sometimes a bit of slowness was a wonderful thing.

She patted for him to join her on the bench. "Isn't it beautiful? I didn't know if you put our bedroom near here on purpose or not but either way, it's good."

Matt gave her a crooked smile and tried again. "I didn't do anything. It was probably the TARDIS. And anyway-"

"I do have some questions to ask you," Amy interrupted again. She turned and her smile tilted. It teetered for a moment before collapsing entirely.

It became obvious suddenly that her lighthearted attitude was a just front for… this. She was worried.

What was she worried about?

"I can't answer any questions."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not-"

"Just one," she pleaded. Her eyes were wide. Puppy-like. "Rory told me something strange, and I-I just want to make sure."

Matt frowned. Rory? What could he possibly say? "Okay?"

"He said," She lowered her voice. "He said that Matt was inside his mind. That he could see his memories and thoughts and stuff like you do, but, like, all the time."

Matt's stomach flipped and the noose around his lungs pulled tighter. He forced himself to breathe.

She didn't mean ill. She was concerned. Rightly so.

He needed to tell her right now.

But it was too late.

Amy's brow creased. "Humans don't do that. You told me he was human. You promised."

Matt hadn't known about that conversation. It was disconcerting that the Doctor felt the need to promise her that he was human. It spoke bounds about how strange he must be acting. Was he really? Was he really acting alien? Weird? Odd?

Was that a bad thing? Maybe or maybe not.

Either way, she posed a decent question. One that Matt did not know the answer to. He shrugged helplessly. "I… I dunno, Amy. Some people are just different."

"But it is odd, though, don't you think? I mean, he's not like you obviously, but he's not quite like the rests of us either."

Matt felt sick. Nauseous. He stared down at his hands. His twittering fingers. And swallowed dryly. And here he'd been thinking he was getting this situation under control. This was a good reminder as any. She was right. He wasn't 'quite like' them. "You know you don't have to be afraid of him, right?" he whispered. "He'd never hurt you. Not in a million, million years."

A soft smile. But she was worried still. Her face didn't show it, but she was. He could see that.

"He wouldn't," she conceded. She clasped her hands and rested them on her thighs. "Not on purpose."

Matt frowned. "You think he's… dangerous."

A shrug. "Yes. Probably. But everything's dangerous. You're dangerous. The TARDIS is dangerous. I'm, well, I'm a bit dangerous when I'm cross and if you give Rory too much caffeine..."

Matt snorted, somehow amused despite the implications of her words. He couldn't tell her now. It would be awkward. She'd be embarrassed. He didn't want to do that to her. Amy was curious and Matt was, for the most part, a stranger. More so than the Doctor was to her. It was only natural that she be concerned. Heck, he was concerned.

The Doctor agreed to help, though. He said he'd make it go away.

Okay, he didn't say that. But Matt could figure that part out once he knew how to work with it a little better.

Amy studied him. Her eyes zipped around his face, taking him in thoughtfully. "You're awful quiet."

"Am I? Long day, I suppose."

Amy hummed. She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, and the light caught it just right, dying it gold. "Do you sleep?" she asked suddenly.

Matt cocked his head. He didn't have an exact answer for that. But he preferred questions like this to the other ones. "Sort of," he settled on. "Not as often as- as humans do."

"Oh."

She leaned back on the stone bench.

So Matt copied her.

He should leave. He should make some excuse and get out of here.

But there she was. Looking at him like he held the whole universe in his hands.

Dear lord, what was he supposed to do with that?

Matt licked his lips again. "Does… does he scare you?" he asked.

Amy glanced at him. She snorted. "Matt? No. I don't exactly like it, the getting in our heads thing, but he doesn't scare me." She frowned. "Is that bad? Should I be scared?"

"I don't think so."

"Well, good. You never did answer. Can he really do what Rory said? He can read people's minds?"

Matt was bringing this upon himself, he realized. He'd brought himself up again. Too stupidly curious for his own good. And now he'd have to answer her. He'd have to somehow put it all in words. Sum up this massive, strange, alien thing into something understandable. He chewed his lip. "It's not reading minds exactly," he started. "Not like in the movies where there are voices floating around. Although that has happened a few times, uh, probably. Mostly, it's more of a visual thing. Or a… vibe? I guess? Emotions more than actual words. Like, it wouldn't…" He gave her a sad sort of smile, "It wouldn't work to lie to him at all. He'd see it. Like, actually physically see it, on your face. I dunno. Maybe your mouth would bleed black goo or your tongue would get really long and hang out of your mouth or something. Someone who's pissed off has steam coming out of their ears. That sort of stuff. Like," He struggled for an example. "have you ever seen the movie The Mask?"

Amy thought and nodded. "It was about a mask that took off a person's social masks when they wore it, yeah? Cartoon physics in real life ensued, I think."

Matt was warming to the idea. He nodded. "Right. So it's like, Matt has a mask that instead of taking away his mask, it unmasks everyone else. Everyone looks exactly how they are on the inside."

"So he sees in cartoons." She raised an eyebrow.

"Sometimes?"

Amy shook her head. Something flashed through her eyes. Understanding? A confirming lightbulb popped over her head, further proof that his explanation was accurate.

An idea. "Blimey. Wasn't 'specting that." She chuckled. "Ridiculous."

"It's not ridiculous!" He was almost offended. It wasn't his fault his brain chose to work the way it did. Cartoon-like symbols and plays on words. Clever little personal jokes. Sheesh.

But it was ridiculous. Jim Carrey worthy ridiculous.

That wasn't all he could do, Matt knew. Whatever he'd done with Rory had gone far beyond that. And then there was the thing with time… But that was an entirely different issue. One that he would focus on later.

"It's funny." Amy grinned. "But it's like him. Fits him, I guess. Being an actor and all. Makes sense the telly would be in his brain trying to work it all out for him."

Matt snorted. "Guess it does." He glanced at her. For the moment, she was completely normal looking. Her lips puckered in thought. "Amy?"

"Hmm?"

"If we were standing next to each other in the same clothes, would you be able to tell us apart?" That was a stupid question. Why would he ask her such a stupid question?

Amy wrinkled her nose. "I'd… I'd like to think the moment either of you opened your mouths I'd have it figured out instantly, but given that it's taken me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what I just did, maybe not."

Matt blinked. "What?"

"You know, for an actor, you aren't actually very good at it. Then again, I don't think you were trying." She bit her lip and gave him a dry look. Suddenly a paper bag popped into existence and planted over her face. Muffling her voice. She shyed away. "I, um, I didn't mean to seem rude. Talking about you a moment ago. I'm sorry, Matt."

It should have been awful that she'd figured it out. She'd know now that he'd heard her questioning his character.

Paper bag.

Embarrassment. Shame. Okay. He was getting the hang of this.

He blinked and the bag dematerialized. Amy was looking at him with careful apology. Her embarrassment hadn't been something he would see normally, he realized. She was hiding that. For hers or his benefit, who was to know. It made sense though. He was only seeing in the weird cartoon symbols the things she kept to herself. Otherwise it would be redundant.

Instead of feeling awkward, Matt slumped in relief. He found himself smiling. "I was too detailed, right? The Doctor wouldn't know all that."

He was glad. He was so very glad that she'd figured it out on her own. She knew them as distinct persons. Distinct personalities. And sure, it had taken her a bit, but blimey, it was hardly her fault. He was wearing the Doctor's clothes. Most of them, anyway.

Amy smiled. "So it is you. Almost backed out of that. You're hard to read."

She frowned in thought. There, behind her eyes. Excitement.

Seriously? Excitement? What was she excited about?

"So have you always been able to do that? The cartoon thing? Are you doing it now? What was it like growing up? Did people think you were crazy?" She grimaced. "Sorry, that was insensitive-"

He held his hands up against the onslaught. "That was like a zillion questions, Amy."

"Sorry."

Amy had trains circling around her head a lighting speeds. Trains… of thought. Thinking fast. Okay.

"Is that why you don't always look at people?"

Matt blinked. He frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I notice it sometimes. More lately. You sort of look around people instead of at them. It's cause you see things?"

Matt shifted his weight. He hadn't realized he was doing that. He glanced back up at Amy's train of thought.

"See?" She grinned. "You did it again. What are you looking at?"

He didn't really want to tell her. It looked insane. Putting it into more words would make it seem even crazier.

She huffed. "Matt, come on. Please. I'm sorry I said that stuff about you being dangerous. You're not dangerous."

Matt gave her a dry glare.

"Please?"

He sighed. "You have little trains speeding around your head and robot gears clicking in your temples."

She blinked.

A lightbulb ding.

"So... I'm thinking." She laughed. "There's gears churning in my head."

"Yup." Matt looked away from her and instead focused on metallic hummingbirds whizzing around the garden. They flew around them and back to the oversized tulips down the path.

Amy was staring at him. He could feel her gaze like heat. A spotlight. A microscope. "That's kinda clever."

"Kinda distracting."

"That too." She put her hands under her legs and sighed. Cautiously, she bumped him with her shoulder, and he bumped her back. It was soothing, the quiet. She wasn't afraid. Well, maybe a little, but she was making an effort. She rested her head on his shoulder. He let her. "I am sorry," she murmured. "About talking about you. I shouldn't have. You're my friend."

Matt looked at her. He tried to smile. "I know."

Funny how that was. Their friendship was on odd one. He knew her far better than she could possibly imagine, but she hardly knew him at all. The fact that she still trusted him was both reassuring and disconcerting. The Ponds were good people. Better than he would ever be.

He cocked his head. "You're still afraid of me."

Amy hesitated. She leaned away, eyes on the floor. "Can't lie, can I?"

"Sorry. I mean, you could but, it wouldn't really… work."

Snorting, she exhaled and pursed her lips. There were her gears again. Like clockwork. He watched them tick. "Yeah, it scares me. But I said before, so does the Doctor. So does this ship. I can't stop myself from being a little afraid of it all. I love it, but it scares me as well. Maybe that's why I love it." She narrowed her eyes. "I'd rather be afraid than not feel anything at all. And when I'm on earth I," A shrug. "I guess I don't feel much. There's just commuting and briefcases and jobs and bills and sleeping and watching the clock, waiting until lunch break."

Matt shook his head. "You and the Doctor are similar that way. He'd rather die than carpool."

Amy laughed. "The point is, Matt, everything here is dangerous. Yourself, I'm assuming, included. Just cause I feel some way doesn't mean I have to act on it."

Matt digested this. He'd never thought about it that way.

He sighed. Enough psycho analysis. "You hungry?"

"Starving."

They grinned, stood and left the garden behind. The door slid shut soundlessly behind them.

He kept his hands tucked into his pockets, eyes casually averted from her face as they walked. Watching all the fireworks around her was tiring.

"Where do you think he'll take us next?"

Matt considered. He shrugged. "I dunno."

"Seriously? I thought you knew stuff like that."

"I don't know everything, Amy."

"You know most of the future and make up cartoons out of the things you see in people's heads. It's a fair assumption."

He chuckled. She was right. It still didn't mean he knew what was coming next. At some point, there would be another episode. But he had no idea how much time passed between the two episodes, or even if it would still happen. The angel byzantium hadn't.

Or maybe it just didn't happen yet? Was it that important? Should he be worried?

He shook away the thought. It was too late anyway. He just wanted some breakfast.

"Do you know where you're going?" Amy asked him after a few minutes.

Matt grimaced. "Nope. I was hoping she'd be nice."

"Who?"

"The TARDIS. She's alive."

"Huh. That makes sense."

Matt hadn't realized she didn't know about the TARDIS. But he couldn't remember anyone ever telling Amy, so he supposed that made sense. They reached a door, finally, and Matt opened it.

It wasn't the kitchen.

Instead, it was a clean, mostly empty room with a bunk bed in the corner. There was a lump on the bottom bed and ruffled blankets on the top. Rory snored softly on the bottom.

Matt smirked. "A topper, are you?"

Amy sputtered and shrunk to about waist height. "N-none of your business!" He glanced at her in surprise. Did that really embarrass her that much?

He blinked, and Amy was (faking) a dry glare and had returned to her normal size. She crossed her arms. "The Doctor must think it's funny. Every room we tried had bunkbeds."

"No, TARDIS thinks she's funny. Why do you think I'm wearing these clothes?"

They backed out of the room and shut the door. Amy frowned. "I was going to ask that. Why are you wearing his clothes?"

"The TARDIS took all of mine. I was trying to find the wardrobe when I ran into you."

Amy chuckled. "That's funny."

"Please, don't encourage her."

She kept chuckling and continued down the hallway. Matt hurried after her.

Another doorway and there was the kitchen.

And, of course, their resident Time Lord was in there at well. Matt sighed inwardly. The Doctor sat cross legged on the counter, stirring a cup of tea with a tiny spoon. It was too late to back out.

Amy pushed past him and sat down at the kitchen table with a grin. "Good morning, Doctor. Meet your cosplayer."

"My what?"

"Amy," Matt groaned.

The Doctor took a sip of his tea, pinky out and everything, and glanced at Matt. Double-take. He sputtered and spilled tea down the front of his shirt. His jacket was folded next to him.

The Doctor grinned. Matt crossed his arms.

"It's not funny."

"I think it's hilarious. You look just like me."

Thank you, yes. He hadn't noticed. Rolling his eyes, Matt opened the refrigerator, grabbed an apple, and plunked back down at the kitchen table. He took a bite carelessly. It was a good apple. Crisp and sweet.

Both the Doctor and Amy gasped, scandalized.

Matt groaned and dropped his head backward. "Are we seriously going to do this every time? He's the weird one."

"It's just odd, Matt. The apple and-"

"That's it. I'm changing. Please tell the TARDIS to behave, Doctor, so I can get my clothes."

The Doctor continued grinning. It was completely infuriating. "I couldn't tell her what to do if I wanted to."

"You could try."

"You try."

"I did!"

Behind them, the door opened. They all turned curiously.

Finally. Someone with sense.

Rory blinked a few times, shielded mostly by the door and still sleepy. He looked at Amy and then the Doctor and then at Matt. "W-what's goin' on?"

"Matt's trying to be like the Doctor," Amy piped up with a smile.

"I am not!" Matt protested, standing up. "That's not true. She's making that up."

The Doctor laughed. "I'm just too good of a role model, ey?"

Matt threw his hands in the air. "I'm done. Rory, don't listen to them. They are corrupted by an awful sense of humor. The whole lot."

Rory frowned. He rubbed his eyes. "I dunno what you're talking about."

So much for that. Matt groaned and walked out.

He could still hear their voices before the door shut.

You don't think we legitimately offended him, did we?

Naw. He's just a drama queen.

Matt huffed, jerked open the door, took a rather vicious bite of the apple, and stormed off again.

Idiots.

Idiot, silly, wonderful idiots. Friends.

Despite himself, he smiled. A chuckle. His friends.


AN: hey, I'm back again. Bit of a funny filler chapter, but I hope you enjoyed. Please leave a review. I was blown away by the response to the last chapter! Thank you guys so much for reading and responding and being so enthusiastic, it made my week much brighter.