Note: BIG BANG SPOILERS BELOW. Here's Part 2 of my self-imposed Word Prompt Challenge. This one is less shippy, but hopefully that's all right. It's also a good deal less angsty. Thanks to all the kind reviewers of my last story!
Prompt: Bonifate - lucky; fortunate.
"Weddings," the Doctor says happily. "What do you think of that? Me, showing up to a wedding! Tell you what, that shows we're in a parallalternate universe, and no mistake." The console room is empty now except for him and the TARDIS; the new Ponds have scurried off somewhere, undoubtedly to do… human things. That's all right, they've had a long day, and anyway the Doctor doesn't mind taking some time to get reacquainted with existence. He talks to the TARDIS brightly and cheerfully, the way you talk to distract a child during a visit to the doctor, as he carefully flips all her switches and thingamajigs, making sure everything is rematerialized properly.
"Can't imagine why I was so down on weddings before," he chatters. "It's great fun, haven't gotten to dust off that top hat in centuries! And Rory – good old Rory! Rory Pond, that's a brilliant name. Can never have too many Ponds, that's what I always say." A pause. "Still no ducks, though. I wonder how they'd feel about getting remarried on Basixfory V, there's plenty of ducks there. More than enough to go 'round, even after that unfortunate egg-beater…thing."
The time rotor lets out a smooth, grating whine, and the Doctor grins. "That's my girl," he says softly, placing a hand affectionately on the central column. It's warm under his fingers, and he can feel the TARDIS' emotions – love, joy, reunion – resonating from the bottom of her circuitry. "You beautiful old rustbucket," the Doctor chuckles. "'Course you didn't think I'd let anything bad to happen to you. We've got some mad adventures in us yet, I should think…"
He's so caught up in soothing his ship that he doesn't hear the soft clank of footsteps on the grating or the stairs.
The cry comes from behind him, short and sharp. He whirls around fast, but Amy's faster, and she crashes into him with such force that he stumbles back against the console, banging his hip against a purple zigzag plotter. But he can't deal with that because suddenly he's having all the air crushed from his lungs, and his field of vision is full of flaming red hair and his arms are full of warm, trembling human.
He wraps his arms around her and buries his face in her hair, breathing deeply, the smell and the feel of her that he was so certain he would never have again, and he thinks of that brilliant little girl growing up into this extraordinary and impossible woman, this brave and bold Amy, magnificent, magnificent…
She's tugging at his arms, pulling out of his embrace, and he lets her go, smiling down at her, waiting for her triumphant smile in return –
- and he goes stumbling back against the console again, dazed, one hand going to his stinging jaw. "You hit me!" he yelps. Then he gets a good look at her; mascara running down her face in black streaks, shoulders shaking, eyes puffy and red-rimmed. "You're crying!"
Amy laughs, and he's relieved to hear that it's a real laugh, though a little watery and wobbly for his taste. "Never one to miss the obvious, are you, Doctor?" she says, still laughing. She dabs at her ruined makeup with her fingertips, which only smears the black around more.
"Why are you crying, what's wrong? Did something happen, did Rory –" the Doctor pauses, confused, glances around. "Where did Mr. Pond get off to, anyway? Not off forming a phalanx or something, I hope."
"He's asleep," Amy sniffs, giving up on cleaning the ruined mascara. "He's just - asleep."
"Good," the Doctor says, and she's calmed down a bit now, so he reaches out and places one hand on her shoulder, still ready to jump back if necessary. "So why aren't you sleeping too? And why did you hit me?"
"Because you left me," Amy growls. "I dreamed it, Doctor – I dreamed everything that happened, I mean, I saw it. In my dream. Everything that happened in that – that – other world, where the TARDIS was the sun, and the - the eye of the storm was closing. I sort of remembered it today, when I brought you back, but not really. It was all really fuzzy, just this big important fuzzy thing that was taking up space in my head, and I didn't really understand what it was. But now I remember, I remember all of it, and you – how could you! If you ever, ever sacrifice yourself - if you ever leave me behind like that again, I swear I'll – I'll –"
The Doctor doesn't give her time to think of a good enough threat; he's already moving forward, clasping both her shoulders and then framing her face in his hands, pressing his forehead to hers, murmuring frantically, "I know, I know, I'm sorry, it was the only way. And you did it, you brought it all back, you even brought me back from outside the edge of reality! Oh, you were brilliant, brilliant Amy, even as a little girl you were out there going to museums, saving the universe –"
"That's the other thing, Doctor," Amy says, interrupting. She pulls back a little to look him in the eye. "Why me? Why was it I could bring you back but River and Rory couldn't? Why did I get my family just by thinking about it? I'm nothing special, I'm just the crazy girl who saw blue boxes, so why me? It doesn't make any sense!"
"The crack," the Doctor says quickly. "The crack, in your wall. It changed you – it made you special, more special than you'd been before. You slept for years next to a split in the skin of the universe, and for years your brain was soaked in time energy, storing it, resonating to it. Your crack was a tiny one – just enough to change you, not enough to kill you. Whole galaxies whirled out of that crack and through your dreams – so when the whole universe was filled with that fire you had the only brain in the universe that was ready for it, that could influence it the way it had influenced you."
"But why was the crack in my wall?"
The Doctor pauses, thinking about it. "I don't know," he says at last. "But I'll tell you one thing," he adds, brightening up. "We're incredibly lucky that out of all the little girls in the universe, the one whose wall got cracked was you."
"Lucky, how is that lucky?" Amy asks, giving him a suspicious glance. "Explain."
The Doctor just grins and takes a step back, holding out one hand. She grasps it without hesitating, and he draws her back towards the console, reaching with his free hand to swing the viewscreen around towards them. "Oh, I'll do better than explaining," he says. "I'll show you."
The viewscreen crackles with static, and the Doctor starts fiddling with it, spinning knobs and dials that don't seem to do much of anything at all. "The cracks weren't just in this universe, but in all universes – all realities," he says. "All your parallels, alternates, duplicates, replicates, fixed and unfixed points, all of them cracked. And while the cracks were closing, I got knocked around quite a few of them – and wait till you see what I saw! Hang on, just got to tune into the extrareality bandwith, sometimes comes through a bit patchy…" He thumps the side of the viewscreen with one fist, and suddenly a picture dissolves out of the static. At first it just looks like the inside of someone's living room – pictures and collectible plates on the walls, a piano in one corner, couches in a rather off-putting shade of green. Then a woman comes into the picture, talking loudly and cheerfully to someone behind her. "That's it, we're doing fine, aren't we?" she's saying. "Come on now, no need to be shy. I promise I don't bite! Won't you come in, Amelia?"
"That's me," Amy says as a small redheaded girl stomps into view. "That's me, when I was eight. I remember that woman – Dr. Harrison."
"One of the ones you bit, I'd wager," the Doctor says sagely.
Amy elbows him in the ribs. "Why are you showing me this, Doctor?"
"Just you wait." He fiddles with the knobs and dials again, and the picture begins to fade. "That's young Amelia in the universe we started in, two days ago. Here's Amelia in the collapsing universe." The picture swings into clarity again; this time it's Aunt Sharon and a dark-skinned woman sitting with the little redheaded girl, holding a messy drawing and asking about the golden splotches in the sky. "There you are," the Doctor says, smiling. "Going on about stars, about things they can't possibly comprehend. Remembering too much from a universe that hasn't existed anymore, no wonder they're worried."
"Has this got a point, or are we just taking a tour of all the ways my aunt thinks I'm bonkers?" Amy says.
"Oh, but it's more than that. Here's little Amelia in the new universe, the one that didn't exist till today. No time machines this go-round, plenty of stars, and still, there you are." The Doctor nods at the little girl on the screen. She's playing with dolls – but not just any dolls. Raggedy dolls with goofy hair and little safety-pin bow ties; milk cartons painted blue. In the background, her parents stand together in the doorway, talking in low, worried voices. "There you are," the Doctor says again. "Dreaming."
"I remember those dreams," Amy says softly. "Almost every night when I was little – then I started having them less and less often, and I thought –" she stops abruptly, looking up at him. "But you gave me those dreams, I remember. I remember you telling me –"
"But Amy – oh, Amy, it's so much more than that," the Doctor says. He hits a button on the viewscreen and images start whirling by, almost too fast for her to catch. Little Amelia alone on the school playground, talking to a doll of twigs and leaves – little Amelia in the back of the classroom, scribbling drawings of things no one else understands – little Amelia with brown hair but the same face, being taunted by other children, being called strange and mad and worse – little Amelia in the back of a hovercar, being chauffered to the office of a psychiatrist with wings and stalk eyes –
"Stop it!" Amy bursts out, and the Doctor quickly turns the viewscreen off. "What is this, Doctor, what are you doing? It's bad enough I had everyone telling me I was mad all those years, and now you –"
"No," the Doctor says suddenly, grasping her hands, leaning in close so their noses are an inch apart. "No, not mad - never, ever mad – but always, always different. You were too clever for them, too much imagination, and that made you strange. In every universe, every reality, every timeline where an Amelia Pond was born at all, she dreamed of the glorious things that were out there and held on to those dreams no matter who tried to take them away from her. She was always brave, always bright, always stubborn – always, in a word, you."
Amy drew away from him a little, uncertain. "You mean that all those versions of me – every me ever - I always had to go through that?" Suddenly her voice is sharp-edged, bitter with bile. "The teasing, the psychiatrists, the grownups talking about you like you were sick, like you were broken, and you were standing right there but because you weren't right in the head they thought it was like you couldn't hear –"
"It made you strange," the Doctor says, a little sadly. "It made you lonely. But Amy – oh, Amy –" he leans forward again, cupping one hand around the back of her neck and placing a kiss on her forehead. "It made you magnificent," he murmurs into her hair. "And it hurt, I know it hurt, but the universe is so lucky that you were brave enough to endure that pain."
"Why?" Amy says.
"Because," the Doctor answers, smiling, his forehead still resting on hers, "a strange, lonely little girl was exactly what it needed, when it most needed help. If there was going to be one human brain changed by a crack in the wall, just one, it couldn't have been a better one than yours – because you're a dreamer, Amy Pond. The Girl Who Dreamed. And only a brain like that, that was used to holding on, could have imagined a madman in a box, a big ol' complicated space-time event like me, right into existence - with nothing to help you but a scrap of fuzzy memory and a nursery rhyme."
Amy is crying again, but quietly this time, tears welling from the corners of her eyes without her appearing to notice them. She's too busy staring at him, her eyes burning. "And without you –"
"Well," the Doctor says, dropping her hands and turning back to the console. "I'm not one to brag, but without me there are at least a few planets out there that would be a good bit more… explodey."
"Without you, it wouldn't have meant anything," Amy says quietly. The Doctor spins on his heel and comes charging back, and this time it's him who slams into her, with enough force to lift her off her feet in a tremendous hug.
"Oh Amy, Amy, don't you ever say that again," he breathes into her ear, his eyes tight shut. "Not ever." He lets her down, takes a step back, smiles awkwardly, and ruffles a hand through his hair. "It's not just the universe though, you know," he says. "That's, ah, lucky. To have you. That is." He rocks back on his heels, his hands clasped behind his back, and peers out at her from under the overhang of his hair. "Sometimes, every once in a great while, Time Lords need a little luck too. When they're, ah, deciding whose back garden to crash in. You know."
He stands there, beaming at her so wide she's afraid his face might split, and suddenly she can't help it – she bursts out laughing, and the Doctor's arms are around her again, which is a good thing because she's laughing so hard she can't breathe, and leaning on him is the only way she'll stay standing. "There we are," she hears him muttering. "Delayed dream-recollection, bit of a reality shock – like culture shock, only a million times worse. Don't worry, it'll pass in a moment. Deep breaths."
Amy takes deep breaths, and stands with her head resting on the Doctor's shoulder, and soon the manic laughter bubbles away, and she grows quiet again.
"Oh, Pond – one more thing," the Doctor says gently, then pauses. "Blimey, I can't call you Pond anymore, can I? Not with Rory being Pond as well. I suppose I could just call him Rory, or maybe RP, I like the sound of that, it's kind of cool, and then I could –"
"Doctor," Amy says patiently, curling her fingers into the seam of his jacket, listening to the double heartbeat under her ear. "We can work out names later. What was the one more thing?"
"Oh. Right," the Doctor says, and she can hear the smile in his voice. "Gotcha."
Reviews are greatly appreciated.
(Oh, and I can I just mention, I love the "gotcha" thing. I think it's adorable. Like their way of saying, "Hey, I know you're really freaked out right now, but everything is going to be okay." Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Either way, I think it's pretty cute.)