Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who. Lyric lines are Taxi Cab by Vampire Weekend.

Notes: Again, canon will probably prove me horribly horribly wrong within a month but I REALLY LIKE RORY OK.

x

If We Never Leave

you were standing this close to me
like the future was supposed to be
in the aisles of the grocery
and the blocks up town

-

A hundred years pass while the Doctor is away.

In some places, at any rate. In other places, a few days pass. In the TARDIS, five minutes. For Amelia Pond it will be twelve years.

She is a ferocious little girl, bold and unafraid and tenacious and loyal. The Doctor said wait, said that he would be back, and so Amelia knows, she knows without a doubt, that he will be. Because, to her, keeping your word is the only possible thing a person can do.

She comes out and waits every day at the same time, except when her aunt catches her and forces her back inside. The third time she finds her, she asks what Amelia is doing. Amelia tells her, because Telling the Truth is just what you do. She's too young to know what the growing look of horror on her aunt's face means, but she realises eventually, years later, when Amelia has slipped away into dusty old dressing-up boxes and Amy has spread into graceful long limbs and good looks, that that was the day she stopped reading her bedtime stories.

It's harder after that because her aunt is always watching (and it's hard to time find for things between visits with the strange, strict lady who looks down her nose and asks her why she thinks the raggedy doctor is coming back). She is outside, one day when she is nine, hiding just out of sight, glancing nervously back at the door to see if anyone is coming, when she hears footsteps. Soft, not like the Doctor's had been, pattering up to her front gate. A head of tousled hair appears over the top.

"What you hiding from?" the boy asks. He is wearing a sloppy old jumper that comes down to the knees of his jeans, and he has the sleeves rolled back to his elbows. He's carrying a battered football under his arm.

Amelia jerks her head back towards the house. "My aunt."

The boy leans on the gate and tips his head to the side. "Why?"

"She doesn't like me being out here."

"Why not?" He rubs the back of one skinny hand under his nose. A brisk wind sweeps across and they both shiver, and the boy shakes the sleeves of the jumper down over his hands. "My mum thinks I don't spend enough time outside. She bought me this." He holds up the football. "But I'm not really good at sports."

"She doesn't like it because I'm waiting for the Doctor and she says he isn't real," Amelia tells him, stoutly, because that's a much better reason to be hanging around that kicking a smelly old football is.

"Who's the Doctor? Can I wait for him too?"

"It's not a game!" Her voice is terse and her accept snaps out against the words. "He's real!"

The boy studies her face for a few moments, before swinging himself over the gate. He drops down beside her, setting the football between his feet.

Amelia scowls at him. "I didn't say you could wait with me."

"But it's lonely on your own. I'll go when he gets here, I promise. I just don't want to run around on my own anymore." He gives her a grin. "I'm Rory."

She isn't sure about this Rory boy, but the last stranger she met turned out to be incredible enough, so she says, "My name's Amelia."

Rory nods as if he knew it all along. "Plus," he says, "if your aunt comes out she might not mind if it looks like you're not waiting and you're playing with me instead." For a little while they are both quiet, but then he asks, "How long are you waiting so far?"

And little by little, the story comes out.

***

Rory is seventeen when he gets his first kiss. He is already doing volunteer work for a trust in the local hospital, and has been out three times with the mousey-haired girl from the giftshop.

He is picking her up to go to the cinema, and his hands are sweating. He rubs them on the side of his jeans before ringing the bell, and she opens the door with an apologetic look on her face.

"Rory," she says, half as if she wasn't expecting him, and half as if she'd hoped he wouldn't come. "Look, I'm really sorry – "

The boy turned him down for didn't volunteer at the hospital. He didn't even go to college. He worked in Tescos, in the butchers, and had shaved his head last week.

He doesn't mean to walk to Amy's house but he ends up there anyway, but his head and his heart are getting all mixed up right now and one way or another, that always winds up with him thinking about her.

She'll probably be out, he tells himself, when he works out what he's getting close to and knows it would be worse than lying to himself if he turned back now. It's a Friday and she'll probably have a new boyfriend by now. She'll probably be out.

She isn't out.

She's sitting idly next to her new shed, her hair loose and hanging like a scarlet waterfall down her back. Something inside his chest seizes up when he notices she's wearing the old jacket he left at hers a few weeks ago.

It's a quiet night (it's always a quiet night here, and quieter the further out you get, the further into the shadows and trees) and she hears him coming, and looks up.

"Though you were with Allie?" she says, eyebrows raised.

"Thought you promised not to wait anymore," he shoots back, and she flushes.

"I'm not really waiting."

"You're just sitting looking at the shed?"

"I can look at my shed if I want to." Her voice is quiet. He hops the gate and sits on the ground next to her.

"Allie's seeing that bloke Mike from Tescos."

"The butcher with the dreads?"

"He's a skinhead now."

"Huh. Always thought she was a bit of a tart."

Rory laughs. "Didn't get my anywhere if she was." He stretches his arms back above his head, making sure he looks supremely unconcerned.

"What, you didn't shag her?"

"Er...no. Didn't shag her. We only went out three times." He can feel himself reddening. He's kept away from this with her, from anything like this, because it leads him down dark and dangerous paths –

- But she's looking at him with that shrewd, discerning look in her eyes that's just so Scottish, and she asks, "Did you kiss her?"

He shakes his head glumly.

When she kisses him he doesn't know what's happened. A curtain of red falls around him and she smells like vanilla and something fruity and soft and then her lips press against his. It's chaste and sweet and not at all like he's seen her kiss people before, and somewhere along the way his hand has shot up of its own accord to press against the back of her head.

She's pulled back before he really knows what's going on, and she grins at him, and says, "there's the kiss you missed out on tonight, then."

He doesn't tell her it was his first. He thinks she probably knows anyway.

***

She has never looked as beautiful as she does the night of the Leaver's Ball. Her hair is up in this twisted knot thing and he wonders if he did it herself, and there's hints of glitter playing down the line of her neck. Every curve of her falls together like a painting, perfect and honed and elegant. Her dress is long and dusky red, in sharp contrast to the myriad of short, glittery dresses on parade. He slopes up to her to say hi after he reckons he's been chatting to enough other people so it doesn't look over-eager, and that's when he notices she's alone.

"Where's Jack?" he asks.

She bites out her response viciously, the words twanging against each other harshly and letting Rory know that, yeah, she's upset. "Ask Jess."

"Oh? ....oh."

He puts his arms round her 'cause that's what they always do when one of them is upset. Only, most of the time, it's much easier for him to pretend like he's not coming to life from her touch, because she's not normally done up like a princess with a soft kind of shadow over her eyes and this one piece of hair coming loose and curling against her neck like a kiss.

She doesn't normally wind her arms round him that way, either, or lean her face into his chest like that, or not let go.

It takes him about a minute to drop his arms from 'bracing hug' to 'embrace', sliding them down the plane of her back to rest around her waist. There's music, and he starts to sway her unconsciously, soothingly. Eventually it melts into dancing, with them holding each other so close he can feel every beat of her heart.

When he was ten, he allowed himself to think it was okay to have girls as friends so long as they were like Amy. When he was thirteen, he got his first proper crush, and it was weird, and it changed how he thought about everything. When he was sixteen, he accepted he'd always had a bit of a thing for Amy, but she was way out of his league.

At nineteen, he is in love with her, and she is still out of his league, but his arms are round her and her arms around him and if he goes the rest of this night without kissing her he's going to explode.

He tilts her head up somewhere around midnight and this time he's ready for it, and her lips feel strange and soft and firm all at once, and amazing.

He takes her back to his and later – even though he doesn't believe it, at first, doesn't believe it until she starts going red and her accent comes out in full force – he finds out it was her first time, too.

Later than that he finds out why she'd been waiting, and wants to knock down that shed in her garden with his bare hands.

***

She was almost ready to call him her boyfriend when the Raggedy Doctor came back.

You made me dress up as him.

He'd always been happy to wait with her, and had always joined in wondering what it would be like travelling the stars, eating fish fingers and custard for tea and hiding bacon in the Doctor's bed. But he had never wanted him to come back. Not really. There had always been a piece of Amy that was still Amelia – still locked away in a tower for the man in the box to come back and rescue – and Rory didn't think he could handle it if he took the rest of her away, too.

So when he comes, and goes, it breaks Amy's heart and is the best day of Rory's life. He leaves without a goodbye and for months, there's nothing, and Amy is lonelier and lonelier and angrier and angrier, and Rory, he's there, and now he's the only one who really understands what went on in the hospital, and bit by bit, they fall closer together.

He's twenty-one when he realises he's never going to be able to look at anyone else.

He pulls her aside one night, gives her this desperate look where he wishes she'd understand what he wanted to say without him saying it. He babbles for a bit, something about destiny and Doctors and stars and even though he's only ever going to be a nurse, until she kisses him. It's the same sweet, chaste kiss from when he was seventeen, but this time, she means it.

"Will you marry me?" he asks, because it's the only thing he can do.