"Into Apple Skin"
Genre: Drama, Character Study
Time Frame: "The Eleventh Hour"
Characters: Amy Pond, The Doctor (Eleven)
Summary: One minute passes, then two. She's used to adults not keeping their promises, but this time it hurts more than usual and she's not sure why. Three minutes pass, then four . . . Five, and nothing.
Notes: I'm indulging in the awesome awesomeness that was the series five premier – I mean, I was not looking forward to Eleven. I was still grieving Ten, and then there was the whole idea of an Amy on the show. Amy. An Amy who wasn't Rose; wasn't Donna – and in the end, she wasn't. She was her own sort of brilliant, and I really think that I'm starting to adore her – like really adore her. She's brave and hot(not that that matters. Lol!) and feisty (OMG, did you see her in 5x02!!) and Scottish – as if that should explain everything. Ginger too. Poor Doctor . . . Maybe next time.
And, all the ranting and the italics really mean that my muse was struck. And where she is smitten, I follow . . .
Oh, and any and all dialogue I used from 5x01 is from memory. I apologize in advance for any butchering. Just call it artistic license . . . ;)
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine but for the words.
"Into Apple Skin"
She thinks that if there's one thing more odd than voices coming from cracks in her walls (of course, nothing so clichéd as monsters under the bed, leering from the closet) then that would be a box falling from the sky. And within that box, a man coming to her - not only ready to help her, but ready to believe her.
For Amelia Pond, all seven years old in frame with time pressing into her already, that believing was precious. So she gave it to him in return.
New tastes, new cravings, he had said – that she could understand. After all, she was best friends with Rory Williams – and all growing boys ate like cave men. It was common knowledge. Obviously this man before her was suffering something similar. Even though, she thinks that even Rory would have turned his nose up at the fish sticks and custard. Maybe, anyway.
Either way, she understands finicky tastes, and so while the gangly and raggedy man poked and prodded at the crack in her wall, she pressed her small nails into the skin of an apple. A few moments later there was a face smiling up at her, kind and benevolent and completely eradicating the taste she knew to lie beneath.
"I used to hate apples. So my mum would put faces on them," she mumbled.
There was something almost sort about his eyes as she said that. He took the apple, and instead of biting into it, he looked at it thoughtfully before turning his attention back to her room. He was still holding it when he bounded away towards the burning blue box, promising to be back in five minutes time. I'll keep it for later, he had said.
Something suspiciously like fear had burned in the back of her throat as he said those words – he wouldn't come back, she knew. Adults said they would, but they didn't, they never did, and he would leave her too . . .
But he was the Doctor. He was different. He promised.
And so, she ran upstairs and pulled out her suitcase.
She packed the essentials – jim-jams, jeans and jumper, socks, toothbrush, sketch book and crayons. And her stuffed bear. After all, if she was going to see the whole of time and space, then she'd wager that Mister E. would like to see them as well.
Grabbing her coat and mittens (Rory had said that space was cold when they had played, and she didn't want to be shivering the whole time) she dragged her suitcase into the yard and plopped down on it to wait patiently.
She looked expectantly at the sky, her eyes bright as she kicked her feet against the frost covered grass.
She held her breath.
And then . . . Nothing.
Her Aunt Sharon came home right before the sun threatened to rise in the sky. She was still sitting on her suitcase in the yard, her hands numb in her lap and her nose red for sitting out for so long. Dimly, she knew that she hurt somewhere – in her chest, deep down, and she wondered if this was what it meant to say that her heart ached? It was a feeling she had felt once before, at her parent's death, but those were memories that she had pushed away, far away . . .
Illogically, she wished that she had a wishing well or a birthday candle to wish by. She had already used all the stars above her. Although, if something as fantastic as Time Machines and Doctors could not be believed in, then could everything else be?
Her head hurt with the ramifications.
Her Aunt was going on about something or the other as she took her hand and lead her inside. She bit her lip, and held back tears and wondered why it had hurt so much this time when a grown-up broke a promise. It shouldn't of. But it did.
"You bit them?"
"Hmm?" She didn't look up at her friend, humming to herself as she scribbled neatly on her paper with her markers. The pens stained her fingers, tangible and wet as her fantastic stories unfolded before her. Her raggedy doctor and his Scottish companion. Oh yes, it sounded very nice indeed. It was the prettiest of pictures.
"You bit them, Amelia?"
"They didn't seem to listen else wise," she mumbled matter-of-factly, all right like rain.
"They didn't . . . listen? To you being completely mental?"
She scowled crossly, raising her eyes to meet the befuddled ones of Rory Williams. Around them the school cafeteria was bustling with children, and in the harsh fluorescent light she looked particularly annoyed
Rory flushed. "Well, you are," he muttered.
She paused from her drawing to stick her tongue out at him.
He frowned as she went right back to work. "Seriously, though, Ames," he tried again. "This is . . . how many nutter docs now?"
"Four," she mumbled under her breath.
"Four," Rory repeated. "Why don't you just tell them what they want to hear?"
"You mean lie?"
Rory frowned, as if trying to figure out how to say what he wanted to as gently as possible. "Well, not lie so much as . . ."
" . . . Yeah."
"I didn't imagine him, you know," she said softly. "He was there. He didn't like bacon, and he liked fish sticks and custard and he said he would come back for me."
"You want to leave us?" something about Rory's voice was pained.
She smiled crookedly. "Well, I'd miss you – a very little, anyway."
Rory seemed pleased.
Shaking her head at her best mate, she put her markers down to turn to the brown sack lunch she had. With a frown, she dumped the contents onto her tray. She poked at the sandwich - peanut butter and jelly oozing, normally just how she liked it. Her mother had eaten them the same way. She figured that was the only way Aunt Sharon knew how to make it for her.
Rory looked at her hopefully. Smiling at her friend's never ending appetite, she passed the sandwich to him. He looked positively euphoric.
The lonely looking apple on her tray glared at her. She returned the favor.
Rory watched her silent battle with the poor apple, and then reached over and picked up the offensive piece of fruit. With three deft moves he plucked a smiley face into the skin, and placed it onto her tray with an exasperated sort of huff.
"You're a complete nutter, you know that, Ames?" he informed her in a cross sort of voice. But there was affection in his eyes. She recognized it even at that age.
She smiled, just a little, as she poked at the apple; watching it roll on her tray. "I have four shrinks to prove it too," she muttered.
She meets her Doctor again years later.
At that point she was quite grown up, fairy tales all forgotten. Amelia was gone, Amy was here, and she was . . . happy with her life, now . . . Maybe. Content, at any rate.
Even so, fairy tales gone and childhood dreams dashed and adult sensibilities taken in . . . There was something strangely satisfying about using the cricket bat on the Doctor's head. Very satisfying, indeed. She felt even better when she handcuffed him to the radiator, and better still when she watched his eyes widen and turn down in despair as she remained vague about the whereabouts of Amelia Pond.
Of course, the charade doesn't last long – there's no backup (not really), and the fake uniform she wore had a collar that itched like something fierce (although it was better than the french maid outfit). And then there was a room in the corner of her eyes, and an escaped alien with very irked jailors who fancied destroying the whole of Earth to make sure their captive was reclaimed like she would fancy a cup of tea . . .
She's never been afraid of anything but the monster living in the cracks all around her, and for a moment she felt that fear sickening and twisting inside of her.
Her fear fades a few minutes later as his voice fills her mind, incredulous and angered.
"Why did you say six months?!" he called her out.
"Why did you say five minutes!!" her answer came out sharper than she intended. Heated, even – hurt and adrenaline and shouldn't-we-bloody-be-running-now all mixed into her tone.
The look in his eyes was rather priceless, she thinks. Almost as priceless as the look in his eyes when she told him about biting the psychiatrists. Neither beats when she drags him by the tie and snaps the door shut on it, trapping him, though. (He never did wear a tie around her again after that, now that she thought of it.) The look he gave her after that was her favorite, she thinks, pride and adoration and something not quite unlike appreciation all coloring his gaze. Her motivations had been simple at the time, too - end of the world or not, he would stop his bloody mile-a-minute-ness and answer her.
The look he gives her after that is twinged with pride, but she refuses to think on that for too long.
In the end, he saves the world with nothing more than a virus uploaded through a mobile, quick thinking and a rather wicked tongue. All in less than twenty minutes, even.
She thinks that she forgives him – believes him – when he tossed the very same apple she had given him years ago, as fresh as the moment she had carved it. She had looked down at the smiling face with something like curiosity; something like awe.
No matter how much she had thought that she believed in time and space and all sorts of impossible things . . . It was still amazing to see proof of it before her first hand.
And then he said that he would be back for her in merely minutes. Minutes, and then she could see the stars.
He said minutes . . . And she waited still.
She watches the sky every night for some time after saving the Earth from the Atraxi.
Sometimes she was by herself, just her thoughts and the creaking of the rusty swing as she kicked her feet at the weeds around her. She kept a suitcase out every night. Just in case. Sometimes Rory would sit out with her, holding an umbrella for her in the rain and bringing her mugs of hot chocolate when it was cold.
He gave up trying to ask her to come in about two weeks into her vigil. On most days he came over expecting to find her already gone. It was something about him that she thinks that she can love him for.
She kept her watch until until one night a year later, Rory gave her a ring and offered her a promise under those very stars. She had looked at the ring – a small golden band with a small diamond set into the polished metal. Antique, it was, Rory told her. Simple and understated. She looked for a jump in her stomach upon touching it, thinking that she should feel the same thrill and tingle that thoughts of blue boxes and time and space giving way before her procured . . .
There was nothing but the small burn of affection that she had held and nurtured since she was a child.
And that was what people built things like forever on, right? That was love, wasn't it? A marriage was made of those things – not childish dreams and fancies and broken promises and time turning inside out and all around and never right . . .
It was time to grow up, then.
So she slipped the ring on her finger, and to her confusion, it fit just right. The smile on Rory's face felt even more right . . . almost as right as him kissing her under those stars and telling her how she had made him the happiest man in the world. He picked up on a bit of her accent when he was really touched about something, she knew. His voice fairly reverberated with it then.
She didn't sit out under the stars after that. It felt wrong somehow, waiting for one man while she had one real and promised beside her. The nights after that she slept with the curtains drawn and didn't keep the light in the yard on. She didn't jump at flashes of blue, and she most certainly didn't turn every time a klaxon wailed.
She no longer needed her apples to smile at her.
The night before the big day, she spent awake. Sleep was fleeting, and she had the curtains open wide in order to let in the starlight. There was no moon that night.
She fingered the wedding dress that hung in her closet with curious fingers. The satin was cool under her fingers, the intricate beading about it smooth and elegant and beautiful. It really was the perfect dress, she reflected. It had jumped out at her at the shop, and the first one she had tried on had fit like a glove. She had been surprised how easily everything for her wedding fell into place.
There was a curious sort of lump in her throat, one which she tried to pass off as pre-wedding jitters.
She had just finished placing the dress back in the plastic, and climbed into bed, when she heard the sound of whirls and wails coming from the yard.
Her blood had frozen in her veins even as her heart thundered in her chest.
Could it be?
She was outside a second later, her slippered feet sticking in the mud and her hair all askew. "It's you," she mumbled upon seeing her Doctor, wide eyes and disbelieving. "It's you – you came back."
He smiles at her, grinning like a fool, as if he had been gone for seconds rather than years – he was still wearing that ridiculous bow-tie and his hair was still tousled. And good God, but he even still smelled of the golden power that she had seen on him when she was a child.
"Of course I came back – I always come back." That same stupid grin on that same earnest face.
She doesn't know if she should be cross or joyous. She settles for stunned.
"You kept the clothes?" she mumbled. She needed something tangible to settle on.
"Of course – just saved the whole world, free of charge, so yes. I. Kept. The. Clothes."
"Including the bow-tie?" Yes, her tone was definitely mocking. Humor was easy to work with.
He looks a little childish as he touched the bow-tie self-consciously. "Of course I kept the bow-tie. Bow-ties are cool." His eyes dared her to say otherwise.
She snorted. "Are you from another planet?" She intended it as an insult.
Okay . . .
"Are you okay with that?" he questioned carefully.
"I guess . . ."
"Would you like to check other planets out with me?"
She stilled. "What does that mean?"
He smiled, patient and kind with those same eyes that had told her that there was nothing to fear from the monster in her walls. "It means," he said softly, "come with me."
Come with me . . .
The words were dangerous, hopeful and heady and perfect. She feels strangely full on them as childish fantasies and wishes came flooding back after years of trying to keep them safely locked away.
"Where?" her voice sounded petrified to her own ears.
"Wherever you like."
She took a step forward, feeling skittish within her skin even as she eyed the blue box before her longingly.
Wherever . . . Anywhere.
She couldn't say no. It's been fourteen years – fourteen years (and she so enjoys telling him this, seeing the pained sort of look on his face) since fish custard. She's waited long enough – so long. She would be back in time, he said. Back in time for stuff . . . really important stuff (the rest of her life). Here she had an opportunity to live out a whole other life before saying 'I Do' before God and love. How many people were given that chance? That choice?
And besides, if his talks of swimming pools inside libraries were true, she had to see that with her own eyes.
He snaps his fingers, and a whole other world opens before her.
"So, all of time and space. Everything that ever happened or ever will. Where do you want to start?"
And then he starts touching this, pulling that, pushing things and fiddling levers, and suddenly she understands that he is as lonely as she is. The ship around her hums, as if urging her on. The ship feels alive - a madman's box - and she suddenly feels so alive within it's hold.
She takes a deep breath in, alien air and possibilities swirling around her unending.
And then he is laughing and they are moving, and thoughts of tomorrow and it's events are as far away as the Earth below.
As he talks to the ship in low tones and soothing voices – 'getting to know the ol' girl again,' he had said fondly, she moves to sit down in the pilots chair. Her legs are suddenly so very weak, and she doubts their ability to hold her up. She stopped before propping her feet up on the console – the Doctor had done that not even moments prior, and the ship had beeped in what appeared to be displeasure. Apparently, the ol' girl really was a bit more than the Doctor let on about.
She tapped her hands against the console next to her to let out the nervous sort of energy that she couldn't seem to control. With a sigh, the ship fluttered, and underneath her hands an apple appeared, full and red. She smiled at it, awed, before taking it. Without thinking, she pressed her nails into the skin, dragging them down and around once, then twice. A third time, then.
The Doctor looked over, distracted from his buttons and levers, and smiled a sort of smile that was softer than the ones he normally wore. "Still carve your apples up, I see?"
She did, didn't she? She looked down to see the apple in her hands, smiling up at her.
"Only way I can eat them," she replied, her accent thick in her throat.
He raised a brow, easy and teasing like, and reflexively she made a face at him. Shaking her head, she leaned forward to let her hair fall in front of her as she bit into the apple. The flavor of it bloomed tart and perfect on her tongue.