AN: Written for the fairytale_thon over on LJ based on the prompt 'Amy wants to go back in time to see her parents-how does Eleven handle this?'
The Doctor is playing with the controls at the time rotor when Amy Pond walks in. He takes her in with a passing glance, smiles and looks back down again. She strides up to him determined, because she's been with him for a while, travelled back and forth through time but it's always been his choice. Now she knows where she wants to go. The only problem is she's just not quite sure how to go about asking.
"Here comes trouble." The Doctor mutters when she reaches his side. She hits him lightly on the arm, playful, and smiles. They've gotten used to this, a comfortable familiarity of actions. He mocks offense and pulls a face that smiles more than pouts, which she thinks is his original intention but with a face like his she can't quite be sure.
She leans into the console when he stands to face her, "So you can take me anywhere in time and space, yeah?"
The Doctor mimics her position. Noticing this, she shifts, crossing her arms over her chest just to see if he would do so too. He doesn't, and Amy feels mildly disappointed.
"Of course I can." He smiles bemused and confident, "I can do anything." She can't help but roll her eyes at his confidence. "But you already know this. So, out with it Pond, what do you want?"
"You'll take me anywhere, right?"
He nods again. Bemusement makes his lips curl into a smile.
"No matter how objectionable a suggestion it might be?"
"Amy, time and space is at our fingertips. We can go see the fall of Arcadia to jumping sofas of Vamfoon to the annual Vespid Unicorns triathlon. Not a pretty sight once they get into choosing teams, but you'd be surprised at their competitiveness. Those Vespid Unicorns..." He thinks back for a moment, pulls a face and lets out something akin to a shudder as he goes on, now more stern, "They are out of their minds."
There's a part of her curious to see about those Vespid Unicorns. She has a sneaking suspicion that they aren't like the toys in little girl's bedrooms, all pink and nice and with a horn that soft and plush. Not that she had one.
"Doctor, as much as those sound like... great places to visit, it wasn't quite what I had in mind."
He leans down again, his eyes enticing her like a dare, bright and amused, "Then what did you have in mind? Go on. Tell me. Nothing can surprise me."
Hope seems to seep into her smile, "I want to go and see my parents before they died." His face blanks. "So, can we go?"
He quickly straightens, opens his mouth to say something. He falters, closes his mouth again and instead points before bringing his hand to his mouth, then pointing again. She's never quite seen him so at a loss for words. She's not sure to be amused or worried, but her lips press together to hold back her amusement.
He finally frowns and says, "Best not," before he rounds around the time rotor, out of sight. She follows him because he doesn't get to hide. She wants an explanation.
"What? Why not?"
"I've been down that road before and let me tell you, as soon as you open that door it always ends up being one erroneous decision on my part."
"Erroneous? You're actually using the word erroneous?" She rolls her eyes at him. He is such an alien.
"What?" He almost looks offended as he says, "What's wrong with the word erroneous? I like that word. It's a very nice word."
"People don't use that word."
"I think you'll find I use that word. And how many times do I have tell you? I'm not people." He smiles at her, claps his hands together, "Anyway. Erroneous. Lovely word, that is. More people should use it." His hands fly over dials, "You know there's a planet Erroneous. Let's visit there. It's warm. You like the warm, don't you Pond?"
She narrows her eyes at him, "Doctor. You haven't explained why we can't go see my parents."
He pauses, just for a moment, a second. Then slowly he turns to her, not quite meeting her eyes because he's too caught up in his thought, "Because... Just because."
He leans to meet her face, suddenly very very close. She doesn't move, doesn't even flinch, when he raises his voice, desperation seeping through the soul of a madman with a box. "No. Amy, I learn from my mistakes so no. I can't. Not this. Do not ask me of this."
"Amy, I mean it. No."
"But why not?"
His mood softens, just slightly and he tugs at the bowtie around his neck. He thinks of the last time with Rose, back when he had cropped hair and big ears. She tried to save her father and the universe had demanded order. He knows of the temptation to save family, knows how that rests in the soul. He can't count the number of times he has thought of Gallifrey and its burning sky, its people, his family. How he could've gone back and saved them... but the universe has rules. He is a Time Lord and time and space is not meant to bend to his will.
"Amy, I've been through this before. You're parents are dead. If you go back then you will want to try and save them and I can't allow you to do that, Amy."
"But I won't. I'm not stupid Doctor. I get it. They're dead. They have to stay dead. Paradoxes, yeah?"
He frowns at her, confused, and his look he gives her practically questions, 'However did you know that?'
Amy has no interest in telling him about her avid interest in finding out as much as possible about his type of life. He already knows about the Raggedy Doctor and cartoons and she doesn't want to quite add to her embarrassment, so she simply replies, "I may have... picked up a book on time travel... when I was younger, okay? You were meant to come back. And I wanted to know about some... stuff."
She shrugs as if it isn't important, but they both know how much an impact waiting for his return has had on her.
"Can I least go back to before they died? Just one day, come on, if it's not the day they died then what's the harm?" She smiles innocently at him, her face pleading with him silently, "Please." She lightly punches his shoulder, "Come on, Doctor." She takes his hand, "You promised me time and space. Now you're getting picky because I have a specific time and space?"
"Fine! But there are rules."
"Yeah, rules. Kind of expected that. Go ahead then. Explain."
He tells her the rules as she tells him the specifics. She knows them off by heart from when she was a little girl and spent days reading up on history books, and looking through old photos to make a list of everywhere she wanted to go. Dates, times, places... They're all in her mind, just waiting to be crossed off her list and explored.
He's still explaining as they land and Amy wonders how many rules there can possibly be because he seems to go on and on, mixing genuine rules with sidetracked thoughts. She doesn't mind though. She's not listening as intently as she should be, and only strains to listen enough to pick up on words such as 'kaboom' and 'paradox'. She nods along with each point because it's easier than asking questions for once. She's excited... and a little bit scared if she's honest, not that she's going to tell the Doctor that.
The Doctor suddenly stops on his way to the door, and Amy had to step back in surprise (and to avoid his wayward hands) as he twirls on the spot, blocking her exit to the door.
"Now we don't have to do this, Amy. Just think about this."
"Out of the way, Doctor."
"Ok, just." He stretches his finger out, a warning and a reminder, and a stern look crosses his features, "Remember the rules. They are important. And most of all remember this: No touching yourself."
A beat passes.
The Doctor frowns; Amy smirks and leans towards him, head cocked. Her eyes gleam a devilish charm.
"I'll try not to, Doctor." She assures him; her voice taking on a teasing edge. She pats him on the shoulder lightly.
"No, no, no..." He is pointing with more animation now, looking halfway embarrassed as his head shakes from side to side. She always likes to see him flustered, and her lips press tightly together to hold back laughter. "That didn't come out the way I intended. What I meant to say is stay away from your younger self. One touch and the universe will implode."
Amy's eyes widen, "Really?"
"As far as you're concerned, yes."
"So... not really then?"
Flustering fingers take on a steady edge and his eyes suddenly darken as he leans in to meet her gaze. "Under no circumstances do you go near your younger self, Amelia. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, I get it." He raises a wary eyebrow. "Really," she assures him.
That seems to satisfy him and in the space of a second, his mood tilts back to bright and quirky, hard edges flop back into soft familiarities. Checking the clock face on his wrist, he quickly does a double check of the date and time. Satisfied, he bounds to the door, peeks his head outside.
He pushes open the door.
"Right. Quite nice out. Appears to be Scotland. A park, if I'm correct. All the right components: swings, slides, grass, children. Oh, and look there." He leans forward and points, grinning widely. Amy's eyes widen when she sees what he sees. "There's you. Little Amelia Pond. Oh, look at you."
He sounds nostalgic, and she can see how he must remember her in his head. First time he met her, seven years old and fish custard and smiling apples pulling hazy memories into another light, a new perspective.
Amy giggles, bringing her hand to her mouth to hold them back. "That's me. Oh, that's just..." She laughs again and steps out of the TARDIS.
It's bright when she goes out. Far brighter than she expected, far brighter than she remembers but the day itself was still a hazy blur of warm feelings and smile, tinged with the sadness of what once was; all she's lost and can never regain.
She breathes in the sight with almost disbelieving eyes because she's been dreaming of this sight almost as much as she's dreamt of the Doctor. For the second time in her life, her reality has been proven to malleable to her own dreams because her parents are alive again, right in front of her. It's amazing and wonderful... and completely weird.
"Time travel at its most personal." The Doctor whispers in her ear, and his hands wraps around her shoulders. He can feel the tension coiled within her, that almost unbearable need to move to what's safe and familiar. "Best to keep our distance."
He guides her to a nearby bench, easing her down before plopping down himself. He stretches his long legs out, crossing his feet over one another as his hands fold over his stomach. He looks entirely relaxed, but his eyes are cautiously fixed on Amy.
"This is weird," she says aloud.
"Of course it is. You were a little girl when they died. You spent years growing up without them. You see this is why time travel gets complicated. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey always messes with the head a bit when you get personal."
"But it's a good weird."
"Oh." His face falls, "Well, yes. There is that too."
She can feel the cold wood of the bench beneath her. Her fingertips trace the grooves but her eyes stay glued to her parents, unable to look away from the sight. A part of her is still almost childishly afraid that even now she'll lose what's already been lost.
"They're dead now," she admits sombrely.
"No, they're alive now."
"Yeah, but they're dead in my mind; been dead for years but now, right here and now they might be alive but they're going to die. And I know how and I know when and I can't do a thing about it. All I'm doing is passing time..."
A sigh escaped through parted lips, and her grip tightens on the wood beneath her fingertips, as if grabbing a hold of it would somehow quench the sudden urge to run up to them, throw her arms around them and beg them to never to let go. It doesn't, but she holds herself back from looking like a fool. She knows how time travel works; just because she knows her parents, doesn't mean her parents know her. That's the worst thing, she thinks, that if she went up to them, they would look at her like a stranger.
It's a risk, she knows, but she's desperate to hear their voices. Pictures saved their image in her mind, but time consumed their voices. She wants to reclaim it, cherish the words, no matter how basic they are.
She throws a side look at the Doctor, and smiles slyly, "I could just go up and talk to-"
"No, Amelia, you can't."
The smile on her face falls into a pout, "What? A breezy conversation will suddenly end in the universe exploding too?"
Resolute, she stands up suddenly, "Then I don't see why I can't go up to them."
He's on his feet in an instant, surprisingly faster than she'd normally give him credit for, and grabbing a hold of her wrist.
"Let go of me!" She says firmly.
Amy moves to shrug it off but he keeps his grip tight; not enough to hurt but enough to show the gravity of his next words.
"Amy, this is important. You think a conversation will be enough but it won't. It's temptation. If you talk to them, then you'll want to talk to them more and you'll end up doing something stupid like stopping them from dying and I know how tempting that can be, trust me I know, but you can't change the past."
A moment passes, slowly. She lets out a sigh, and nods, "Fine."
"Good." He frowns. That felt far too easy. He throws her a wary eye, letting go of her wrist almost cautiously as if expecting her to run. She doesn't, but he decides that staying won't be the wisest of decisions.
Maybe it would be better if they left. "Let's get back to the TARDIS."
"No. No. I want to stay."
"No. Look they're leaving. There's no point in staying. We might as well leave. Go somewhere else and start another adventure. You like adventures. Maybe we can go to the sand storms of Elcatrak, quite beautiful and not a lot of sand surprisingly." He smiles, "Sounds nice, doesn't it? Want to go?"
Amy watches her parents, eyes stuck to them. The Doctor's right. They are leaving and she has no plans in being a stalker. She sighs, "It sounds nice, I guess."
"Good. That's good. Come along then, Pond, back to the TARDIS."
He starts walking towards, hearing footsteps on the ground beside for a brief moment until multiple turn into singular. His brain registers something but the connection between his body and mind must have a delay because by the time he's realised that Amy is no longer following him, he's halfway back to the TARDIS.
"Amy?" He turned on the spot, eyes roaming until the settled on her, far way picking up something from the ground. She doesn't turn but he can see the doll in her hands, "Amelia!"
He lets out a sigh. Her fiery locks seem to burn in the distance. The Doctor frowns, taking a moment to adjust the bowtie he could swear is currently trying to choke him. He knew that had been far too easy.
"I knew it." He mutters solemnly to himself as he trawls after her. "It always ends in a complicated mess. Should learn to say no; it'd probably be for the best." He claps eyes with a mother on a bench who quickly ushers her child closer to her under the Doctor's gaze. Taking a moment to look between them, the Doctor shrugs before continuing after Amy, a much larger worry than strange man in a bow tie in a park full of children talking to himself, "Also not talking to one's self; another good reminder for the future."
Amy has her hand curled around the doll. She smiles inwardly to herself, a light pursing of the lips. "It's been a while since I've seen you." She whispers to her old Raggedy Ann doll. It was her mother's. She used to take it everywhere with her; her own miniature her. At least until she lost it this very day. She never did get another one. It never did feel right to replace it.
She runs a hand through the ginger hair, pushing out the dirt from the ground. She doesn't like her dolls dirty. She likes them clean. She remembers that. Her mother would wash it clean whenever she had played with them in out in the muddy garden.
Her father is still nearby. She could catch up with him, give him the doll; a memento of the day to add to the little she has left of them. Her long legs are running before she even makes the decision in her mind.
"Uh, excuse me?" She shouts.
When her dad turns, Amy finds the words have somehow caught in her throat for a moment. It was different watching them from afar but up close, this close; it's enough to make anyone falter. It's really him, not that she doubted; just like she remembered him in her mind. She thought back to her faded photographs in her well worn album. Now, here he was, her dad; a photograph brought back to life.
She blinks. "Uh, your daughter dropped this." She holds out the raggedy Ann doll. Her hand is shaking a bit and she forces herself to stop it. "I don't think she'd want to lose it. Looks like it's important."
She smiles and laughs lightly; both come out sounding shaky,
"Oh, thank you. It is, uh..." He looks up at her, really looks, and frowns, "important."
There's a brief instant where she thinks she sees a flicker of recognition in his eyes, but it quickly passes, consumed by time. He doesn't and will never know the woman young Amelia Pond turns into.
He seems to shake loose whatever catches his reactions, and says, "Thanks again."
He smiles, and lingers for a second longer. Her gaze almost pleads for his recognition. She's his daughter. She's his Amelia. Her mouth opens, on the verge of doing something the Doctor would consider extremely very not good. She doesn't even know how many rules she's about to break.
She hears her mother's voice call his name, and he turns away, back to one daughter and away from the other.
Her mouth promptly shuts, swallows back the hurt because it feels like a betrayal. It hurts more than she thought it would, and it doesn't help that's she's the one who's twisted the knife in her gut. This was what she wanted. These were her choices. A small part of her expected a fairytale, but reality doesn't offer such luxuries.
Her younger self smiles as her father hands her the doll. Her mother whispers something in her father's ear. It's simple. It's nice. It's a family. They make up the perfect picture, but she still watches from afar, estranged from what she once was a part of.
Footsteps stop beside her. She squeezes her eyes shut to stop the hurt, shutting herself in the dark does little, so she opens them again to the sight of watching her parents leave with her younger self blur and shimmer; a mirage in the distance and then they're just gone.
The Doctor places a comforting hand on her shoulder after a moment's hesitation. Her voice is almost a whisper as she speaks, "They said they'd come back, the day they died. They were going to take me to the zoo. They never did."
If she hears him, she doesn't give any inclination of doing so. Her drawn eyebrows soften, shifting her features from hurt to sad. "I never did get to go..."
The Doctor gently lifts her hand and laces their fingers, pulling her back from her self-contained trance. She turns to face him.
"Come along, Pond." He smiles at her, a little half smile he always gives her. "Let's go to the zoo."
AN: If you feel the urge to review, I say go for it. :D