A/N: I never felt that I could write for Ten, but after seeing the latest (US-broadcast) episode for Eleven,"Amy's Choice," this one just came to me. Several weeks have passed since the Dream Lord made his appearance. Spoilers for everything up to "Amy's Choice."
All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can't be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot.
~Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887
He's keeping up a pretty good front. At least he thinks he is. At least, most of the time, most days, he's fairly certain that he probably isn't all that obvious about... He straightens his shoulders, reaches a self-conscious hand up to straighten his bowtie, as much a worry-stone and shield as ever his epic scarf was in the past, and he forces the whole thing firmly from his mind. And he's successful, too. Mind over matter. See? Just a little Time Lord mental discipline. All that was needed. He smirks, starts to get back to the tricky and intricate little bit of repair work he's doing on the TARDIS. The TARDIS shocks him soundly, possibly as a cautionary reaction to his overwhelming and totally-misplaced smugness, and he drops his sonic screwdriver, watches it roll under a console, and he sighs, drops nimbly down to his hands and knees to search for it... All told, it's almost ten whole minutes before he thinks about Amelia Pond again.
It's worst when he's alone, when there's no life-or-death crisis bearing down on them, when the TARDIS is just humming gently through the reaches of infinity. Sometimes he fancies that he can feel each and every one of his 907 years like individual stones pressing down on his chest one at a time in those moments of silence and stillness, like that old Puritan punishment he actually got a chance to see once when he visited the American Massachusetts Bay colony during one of its less happy times back in 1692. The times that are worst are the ones like now, when he's here in the solitude of his endless library, and the happy couple is off alone together exploring...
He just stops the thought there, unable to complete it without something most unsuitable for a Lord of Time, especially for the last of the Lords of Time, the one who has to carry the banner for all of them who are gone, rising inside him. It's not for him to say or care what the two humans are exploring. Maybe it's just one of the gardens or the pool or some other wonder inside this world inside the tiny blue box. Maybe, though, just maybe, the world they're exploring is the infinity of each other. He tamps down a burst of something he will not dignify with a name roughly. They are engaged, are they not? That is what mates of their species do, is it not?
He's been making a massive effort to stay away from them when they're together. After all, it's only polite. After the encounter with his darker self, the Dream Lord, and Amy's sudden burst of love for "the nose," the two of them have been snogging in corners and holding hands and whispering in that way of the very, very young in love everywhere. It's been a bit much to take, actually. It makes him long for the days when he wore a black leather coat, called all the humans apes, and swore loudly that he "didn't do domestic." That version of himself would have booted them both out...
Ha. Sure he would have. In case you've conveniently forgotten or rewritten the past to suit your vanity, here's a reminder. Two words for you: Mickey Smith.
The frustrating thing was he'd seen so very clearly how much Amy was distressed by the life that Rory had planned for her, the baby, the abysmally dull village. What would happen to her if that vision created by the dream pollen did in some way (okay mostly just the baby and the marriage without the old people turning everyone in the village into tiny piles of fine gray dust and almost certainly without the nose ever making it as a doctor) true? She hadn't really wanted it, hadn't wanted to give up exploring. He'd felt it right down to the core of his being. And yet, when it was all over, she'd been holding Rory, kissing Rory. Of course, he'd downplayed his own situation, shut her out deliberately when she'd asked him if he believed the things the creation of the dream pollen, the Dream Lord, had said about him were true. He'd been pushing her steadily toward Rory ever since she'd pressed her mouth to his that night in her bedroom and he'd realized first that she tasted like strawberries (oh, strawberries! I do so love strawberries) and second that he'd wrapped his hands around her waist to pull her back against him hard, kissing her back for long moments instead of trying to get away as was proper...
He stares down at the volume in front of him, a collection of folk tales from Caldos V he always finds relaxing and amusing, but he cannot seem to make sense of the symbols on the page tonight. Finally, he tosses the book aside fervently wishing that they were where they are going next. Because she's not like this when they're somewhere running. Then, she's not off playing happy families with him, with the other one, with the nose. When the crisis is at hand, she always turns to him, alive, vibrant, thrilled by the same things that fascinate him, totally, recklessly fearless. She's never disgusted by what she sees unless what she sees is an injustice, and he's never seen her back down from a fight yet, even when the fight is with him.
She's even been able to see things he's missed, and that's been so rare as to be almost unheard of. When she kept him from killing the Star Whale on Starship UK, he felt his whole heart swell with something so much like hope that it made his eyes fill with tears. It had been a very long time since he'd felt that... She's crept under every barrier he's thrown up. Well, actually, it's probably more accurate to say she's simply just bulled her way through them despite the fact that he's been building them as fast as he can, been being so much more careful with her than he ever was with...
He freezes, realizes the paths his mind has walked down without his permission, runs his hands through his hair until it stands up even more wildly than usual. He rises to pace the small reading area, pondering this frustrating lack of control, pondering how the hell he's come to be one of her boys, (Can you even be a boy when you're 907?) and then stalks down the hall toward the pool determined to swim off his distraction if he can't lock it down any other way.
The rhythm of swimming is calming, and the exercise helps to burn away the excess energy that crackles around him like a heavy static charge. Again and again he pushes through the water, trying to concentrate only on the movement, only on the lifting of an arm, the coordination of the breath with the timing of a kick. He's been doing this for centuries in one body or another, and he cuts through the liquid like he was born to it, turning against the wall without pause when he reaches it.
He has almost reached a point of total oneness with the water, almost purged the worst of the dangerous spillover of the ever-present darkness he carries inside him that he knows she sees glimpses of but doesn't quite believe or understand (still wants me to be some kind of fairy-tale hero; doesn't understand that all too often, I wind up as the monster of the story instead...) when he hears a splash at the far end of the pool. At the same time his ears are registering the sound of the entry, his telepathic mind is sighing with traitorous delight at the bright presence that now slips nearer to him, carried through the water like an electric current. He stops his lap at the far end of the pool, back still turned away from her, strong hands gripping the tiled side as if it were safety in a strong storm, head down, wet hair dripping water in front of eyes now tightly squeezed shut like a child in a bad dream.
Go away, go away, go away, Amelia Pond. Oh, if I just close my eyes and make a wish, maybe...
But he knows she doesn't. Knows she won't. Knows that for some reason, Rory isn't anywhere to be found, and, for once, the nose really, really so needs to be, right now. He hears the soft stirring of water as she moves through it toward where he waits, musical.
It would be so easy. So easy to glamor her, to claim her., to win the sparkling jewel that she is for his own forever. And he can't say there's not some part of him screaming in the back of his mind to seduce her, to fight that silly big-nosed boy with all the weapons in his arsenal, with his wit, his charm, his knowledge, with all of time and space, with beauty, with adventure, with ten lifetimes of experience to sweep her off her feet and into his waiting arms. He could do it. Even though she's chosen Rory, he sees her looking at him, more now since some weeks have passed since Rory's dream-near-death experience happened, sees that contemplative, hungry expression and that banked something in her eyes, knows enough about women wherever they may be found to know what that means, what that is.
The water laps at his sides, splashes gently at his hands as she comes closer to him. He does not move. He wants so much to do the honorable thing, to do right by this woman-child who is so precious, knows that he is the Lonely God, the destroyer of worlds, the Oncoming Storm, and so he cannot ever be the right thing, the choice of comfort and safety for any woman, and yet, and yet...
Amelia Pond. I do not want to play with you. In this time, in this me, I am not a man who plays. I am a man who yearns just-barely-secretly, who hungers under a thin mask, and who may, may just take if you keep giving me chances. You can't expect me to continue to be noble forever. Because, Amelia-of-the-fairy-tale-name, Amelia-of-the-flaming-hair-and-heart, Amelia of the savage soul, Mad Queen, Fearless Companion, Savior and Kiss-O-Gram, Little Girl in the Red Robe and Nightie, I know what happens all-too-well when you wait and wait. I did that once, too, y'see? You're not the only one who's ever waited... Only now, they're all gone. Gone some of them in ways that make simple death look like a mercy and a blessing. So don't keep pushing me, please, Amy. Please. Or we'll both have to live with what happens when I'm not your fairy-tale hero anymore...
As with all my writing, your feedback is most highly craved.
They're not mine, or I'd be a rich, rich woman. They all belong to the Beeb.