She records every touch between them in her memory, like she's keeping score in a game. In a marketplace on Haur Dhurri he taps her on the nose in a little fit of that mad glee of his, brought on by the sight of a vendor selling domesticated fluffkits. (Fluffkits, it turns out, look like horrible big spiders. The Doctor is ecstatic.) On a spaceship somewhere in the eighty-first century she finds herself cleaning dried blood from his unconscious face and thinks, cheek, eyebrow, mouth, ear, with each careful dab of the stained cloth. In the chairs by the TARDIS he sprawls on his back and swings his feet into her lap and insists that Time Lords aren't ticklish. She is unable to prove him wrong, after several hours of tickling and tea and Jammie Dodgers and this one ridiculous word game he claims to have picked up three and a half millenia from now, which she doesn't really get and they give up on it after he's beaten her four times.
In her own game, she muses while they're laughing and lobbing biscuits at each other, she thinks she's winning, even if she's not sure what the prize is.
He brings her to Haridaan, and shows her the lakes under the night sky, black as ink, and the Blue Temples of the Eptilune, with their sacred pools and the monoliths surrounded by moonlit grass. Silver mists and cricket calls drift through the air and surround them like ghosts. They stand in the shadows, dew beading against their bare feet, and listen to the Eptilune throw their hymns and prayers out on the waves, nets of words in a language neither of them understands, and Amy wonders how much of this world is real, what those nets will be full of when they are pulled back through the sand. She asks the Doctor, are there gods?
He looks at her, long and lingering, and says nothing.
Amy doesn't sleep well that night.
On Duubuun she is clinging to his waist on the back of something that looks like an elephant and a brontosaurus were haphazardly thrown together, and it lumbers unevenly beneath them and she's sure she's going to fall, there's nothing to hang onto but the Doctor, who is himself holding onto nothing—he's stretching his arms out on either side like a tightrope walker and laughing ecstatically, and Amy wants to hit him. There's wind in her eyes, and her hair is in her face, and when the elephasaurus veers to the right she gasps and buries her face in the Doctor's shoulder.
She hears his laughter falter and feels him twist in her arms, feels him realize her fear for the first time, and then he's taken her shaking hands into his own and is holding onto her holding onto him, somehow, her fingers laced into his, palms pressed against either side of his chest. Two hearts pound wildly beneath her hands. It dawns on her that he's as terrified as she is, that he's never ridden an elephasaurus either and that he has no idea what he's doing. He leans his head back against her shoulder and shouts something she can't hear, full of exhilaration and that swift, sudden grin of his, and she feels a thrill sweep over her, and she takes a deep breath of Duubuun wind, of tea and copper and the faint scent of roses, of sweat and adrenaline and elephasaurus. And she throws their arms up together into the sun-soaked air, and she laughs.
They go to Aularind on a day when there are no festivals, when the streets of Palutos are empty and the end of the winter rains have left the stones and trees dripping. The Doctor tells her, as they stroll through the slush with satisfyingly squishy footsteps, that there are parades in the summer here, that the men of the city spend the rest of the year carving and crafting and stringing new mandolins, new harps, new ziqa from the glossy native woods, and that on the Feast of Geraniums they bring them out and play at every corner and courtyard, while the women and children and elders bring plates of blackberries, peaches, dumplings and fresh perch, spiced milk and cinnamon, to eat and drink amidst the sun and the music. The wells, says the Doctor, are filled with trailing flowers that spill out onto the street, and the boys and girls weave willow fronds into each other's hair.
And then, after nineteen days, says the Doctor, the feast ends. The people go back inside their houses. The instruments are destroyed.
Amy steps over a puddle and asks why he brought her here. He takes her hand, and plucks a dead leaf out of her hair. Doesn't she think everyone should see this place?
They don't talk about Lymic, that disaster of slammed doors and empty marble hallways and fire and smoke, but Amy has nightmares of faceless crowds and the stench of vinegar and aerosol and rubbing alcohol, of the Doctor crushing her against him, choking on his words, fisting his hands into the back of her shirt. On those nights, she climbs out of bed and fumbles her way through the TARDIS's meandering hallways and catwalks, until she finds the swimming pool.
She slips into the water—always the perfect temperature—without even shedding her pajamas, and she closes her eyes and leans back and lets the water lift her up, lets her hair float loose around her like it did when she was swimming in the stars, the Doctor's long fingers wrapped around her ankle, all those adventures ago. She lets the almost imperceptable waves lift and lower her, and she imagines it's that water that flutters through her veins instead of blood. She forgets, very slowly, the sound of his voice screaming her name.
One night she opens her eyes to see the Doctor standing silent by the edge of the pool, looking intensely at nothing in particular, his hands fisting and unfisting at his sides. An echo of his own name being torn from her lungs sears through her memory, and she shudders, and shuts her eyes.
When she opens them a second time, the Doctor is lowering himself into the pool, tweed, bowtie and all. He lets the water lift him onto his back, and Amy breathes out, and together they float wordlessly in the library until the water gets cold.
Mkhedruli is fun, even if they almost get killed. The locals make fun of him for his curious outfit, and the Doctor responds with an indignation so genuine that Amy has to cover her face with her hands to keep from laughing at him. Privately, she admits, she adores his clothes. She has of course seen him in nothing at all (those dreams can get weird), but she likes him the best in his professory jacket and braces, with that ridiculous bowtie and the pinstriped shirt. She's worn the jacket and the shirt herself before, and, on one supremely awkward occasion, the trousers. (The bowtie he refuses to take off, even in the worst of situations.)
His clothes sometimes smell like charcoal and apples, and sometimes like grease and blood, and once like alien pee (that was a vile day for everyone involved), but they are as much a part of him as his hands and his hair and his soft eyes, and so when they hug, she buries her face in that warm, scratchy jacket and smiles, and when she saves his life on Mkhedruli, she makes sure to run back for the bowtie. (He yells at her for that, but she knows he's absurdly grateful, too.)
It's on Barcelona when she realizes, for the first time, that he might be keeping score too—that the casual swipes of his fingers through her hair are anything but spur of the moment, that every touch and every tangle are carefully planned and masterfully orchestrated plays in a game. He seems to find excuses to take her arm and steer her in another direction, towards the theater or the ballet house, to grab her hands and pull her over a bank of snow to look at a dog with no nose tied to a streetlamp, to steal her mittens and scamper out of her reach with them like a mischevious child. He actually sticks his tongue out at her. She tells him to act his age. He throws her mittens at her and says this is how nine-hundred-year-olds are supposed to act.
Hlelinla is a desert like nothing Amy's ever seen—it surpasses any nature documentary or coffee table photograph, stretching across two thirds of a moon and gleaming like a drop of burnt gold when she sees it from space. It's no less remarkable when she steps out of the TARDIS either. The sands billow up in the wind like a dancer's veils, translucent and glittering, and Amy's heart bleeds warmth through her body at the beauty of it all—the two suns like white pearls hung in the sky, the shadowless dunes shining into the distance, the way the air shimmers in the exquisite heat. She starts to cry.
The Doctor bounds out of the TARDIS and spins under the sun, exuding pure joy, and Amy is reminded bizarrely of a lizard, taking lazy, reptilian delight in the slow bliss of light and warmth. The Doctor shows her cedar groves and sand squirrels, desert lavendar and ancient ruins. He tells her about pyramids and Albert Einstein and a man who was addicted to grapes. He spins off rattled sentences in Hlelinlaan, coughing out strange consonants and words that sound like they must have too many apostrophes in them.
Amy cries through it all, overwhelmed by fire and happiness.
In the year three thousand, two hundred and forty-five, they end up in San Fransisco in the middle of a war, and somehow, in the ash and sirens, they are separated. Amy loses herself in cracked sidewalks and deserted highways. She picks her way through the scarred city, over hills of bodies and collapsed walls, and finds no one.
She begins to think the Doctor must be dead, or he would have found her by now, and from that first awful thought onwards she can't stop trembling. She crouches on the charred carpet in abandoned flats and is terrified of every sound, the whirring of a useless ceiling fan or the creak of a bullet-punched door. She finds food in the worst of places, and she sleeps two nights in a dumpster, afraid to be out after dark.
On the third night she sees him, the Doctor, raggedy as the first time she laid eyes on him, his jacket shredded and his bowtie gone, and she shrieks his name, and when he sees her he runs. They meet in an alley surrounded by garbage and rubble, and he lifts her off the ground in his arms. His voice is hoarse and his hair is unkempt, and his eyes are red-rimmed and swollen. New rule, he rasps as he stares into her eyes, framing her face with his scraped-up, grubby hands. Nothing bad ever happens to Amy again.
Something horribly bad happens to Amy on Tnere'θch, the planet even the Doctor has trouble pronouncing, and he laughs hysterically at her. She tries to cast him scathing glances, but it's hard to be scathing when you're vomiting into a piano. She can't figure out what astonishes her the most: the fact that there are still pianos four centuries after she's been born, or that it would be the only thing the Tne' authorities would have in the room to handcuff them to, or that something so delicious as quince turnovers could disagree with her stomach so violently. The Doctor evidently finds the inanity of the situation spectacularly funny, and he doesn't seem perturbed in the least by the vomiting that's currently providing the accompaniment for his giggles (they really are giggles, and it's weird).
But when she's thrown up everything in her stomach and is slumped against him and the piano, unable to wipe the sick off her face because she's handcuffed the wrong way, the Doctor reaches his hands up and does it for her, still chuckling, his thumbs ghosting over her mouth and her cheekbones and her jawline, moving down to her bare neck where some of the bigger chunks have settled, fingers trailing over her skin with as much tenderness as rancid quince and bile allow. No one has ever touched her this softly and sweetly before, and she manages to blurt out, "You win," before the dry heaving erupts again.
On Barcelona, after operas and ballets and dogs with no noses, they stand on the roof of the Balistat Memorial and watch the shuttles taking off from the air base below. From far away, they become tiny stars burning slowly upwards through the darkness and the falling snow. The Doctor stands behind her, and puts his arms around her waist, and holds her close, and kisses the top of her head, his lips melting through the snow that has gathered on her hair like a crown, and it's not romance, it's not friendship. It's the Doctor and Amy. There's no word for it.