Learning Curve

Disclaimer: No infringement intended. I own nothing.

Italicized quotes are taken directly from the episode 'The Beast Below' by Steven Moffat.

AN: I am really liking the new series so far. It seems like they're pulling out all the stops to get people excited and invested in the new characters, and it's working for me. I watched 'The Beast Below' with a friend, and we felt that the Doctor was overly harsh on and unfair to Amy. She's new, inexperienced; he gives her very little guidance and then punishes her when she (inevitably) makes a mistake. And I know, there was the whole 'gotcha'/adorable hugfest at the end, but I wanted to explore why Amy, as his companion, was treated differently (in my eyes) than previous companions. So...yeah. Enjoy!


And still he caught his reflection in the console room sometimes and wondered who that man was.

It happened with every regeneration, yet this one had been giving him more trouble than most. He could not seem to adapt to his new face, new personality. Which was ridiculous, of course. The fundamentals, as always, were the same. So he looked younger (too young), and had a penchant for bowties, suspenders, and elbow pads, and ate things like fish fingers with custard – these were trivial, superficial things that had changed so many times for him that now he took only a passing interest in whether each incarnation prefered Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.

But these little quirks, inconsistencies, were enough to make him a stranger. This time he felt it more than ever.


He heard a door close, another open. It took a few minutes (six more pages of his novel, tinkering with the translation circuit) for the sounds to register and their cause to be identified. Amy. Creeping about in the middle of the night for some inexplicably human reason. All the companions did it eventually – attempt to explore the TARDIS and subsequently need rescuing – but Amy was getting around to it earlier than most. It was only her second (no, third) night onboard.

Ah, well. Let her have some fun.

The day had not exactly gone to plan. He tried to ease his companions into the whole alien, time- and space-travelling thing, keep the first outing relatively safe...of course, the universe was unpredictable and most of his companions had gotten a dose of danger before they were ready for it. But, still. Today had been too much, for both of them.

Oh, Amy, we should never have come here.

It was his fault. He had let his curiosity override everything else, practically forgetting that he had a human girl with him that didn't (couldn't) comprehend what they were facing – a child who needed to be protected and guided, not dragged into situations beyond her capabilities. He hadn't told her anything. Hadn't explained anything. Had downright lied about being 'observers only.'

Perhaps that was what bothered him about this new body. It wasn't that his limbs were slightly longer or his diet questionable: he was more impatient, less gentle. Insensitive. Cold, maybe. The same quick-flash to lethal anger was there, close to the surface, more frightening in this boyish form, he thought.

Now, hang on – what do I do? I don't know what I'm doing here and I'm not even dressed!

His first rule for companions had always been 'don't wander off.' With varying degrees of success – humans liked to wander – but he had always drilled the need for safety into their little skulls. And Amy? He sent her away, alone, to investigate in a police state. Brilliant, Doctor. Might as well have painted a target on her to finish the job.

It's this or Leadworth. What do you think? Let's see: what will Amy Pond choose?

He liked provoking her. The way her eyes widened and hardened at the same time, the bristling of her body that went so well with her hair. She was Scottish, and ginger, but he knew she'd be just as fiery if she had neither of those assets. Haha. Gotcha.

He liked to think that was why he was so undisciplined with her. She could take care of herself – always had. Fourteen years later, and she was the same girl who had cooked for him and showed him a crack in her wall and waited for him. And waited for him.

Fourteen years, and everything in her life was different. For him, fourteen years changed nothing. And it almost felt like they had been travelling together all that time (they had carried each other's memories so faithfully, it almost made things real). So that was his excuse. She was already his practiced companion, traveller of the stars and the seasons. Except she wasn't.

You took it upon yourself to save me from that. That was wrong. You don't ever decide what I need to know.

It was so easy to look into her eyes, confused and prickling with tears, and feel betrayed. Every action becomes some form of betrayal, when you're this old and lonely and angry.

How little they understand you. (And how little you let them.)

It's almost enough to make him laugh, in the way cruelty and self-hatred make one laugh with lips puckered against the bitterness. He never apologized for making her wait, for the psychiatrists and the cynicism (he can see it all),but he made her apologize for things she cannot remember and sins that are not hers.

And he would have continued to stand there in deep contemplation, blaming himself but doing nothing to remedy the situation, if a series of alarmingly loud crashes had not echoed down the hallway from the direction Amy had gone.

It was time he explained some things to her. Including how to navigate the TARDIS without meeting a painful and untimely death, apparently.


Amy was in the kitchen, surrounded by a pile of biscuit tins and tea canisters that had assaulted her when she had opened the top cabinet.

"Give a human a TARDIS to explore and she will invariably find her way to the kitchen. Predictable lot, aren't you?"

Amy just rolled her eyes at him before bending to sort through the mess on the floor. "So sorry to disappoint." She wrinkled her nose at several kinds of teas before she found something that smelled familiar and, with an air of triumph, put the kettle on. "Want some?"

"I don't know." He frowned. It was such a simple question. "Yes. Yes! Everybody likes tea."

She looked at him a bit sceptically. "Okay, but if you spit it out at me..." She let the threat hang in the air.

While the water boiled, he busied himself with sorting out the fallen canisters, and Amy sat on the table, legs swinging, watching him. It was a friendly silence, he thought. He managed not to spit out the ghastly tea but quickly set his mug aside, rubbed his hands together briskly, and asked, "So, when do you want to see the rest of the TARDIS?"

"After you finish your tea?" Her laughter at his crestfallen expression filled the small room and he couldn't help but join in. He barely caught the mischievous gleam in her eyes before she had downed her drink and reached the door, looking back at him expectantly. "You coming?"

"That's my line."

When I'm done here, you're going home.

He was going to make up for everything he had said and done and failed to do.

He took her by the hand and led her through the labyrinthine hallways. He knew the ship by heart, could hear himself enthusiastically telling Amy about the rooms they were going to see and the (mis)adventures that had taken place in each one. His used this time to watch her. This was always his favourite part: watching their faces as they tried to take in what they're seeing, the way their eyes glittered with excitement. Humans were marvellously expressive. Amy was no different, radiant with being as she finally, finally got all that the Doctor had promised her.

He paused in front of plain wooden door, stroking along the familiar grain absently. He wanted to see just her when he opened the door. And now they were both grinning, like they were holding the most wonderful secrets in their mouths.

"This," he said, "this is my favourite."