Rory was happy. He had everything he'd ever wanted in life: a good job where he got to help people heal, and of course a great relationship with an amazing woman. That thing two years ago when her raggedy Doctor had turned up and been actually real had been a bit of a blip, especially since Amy had been fantasising about him for ... well, since Rory could remember. Seeing the woman he'd been in love with since he was ten come face to face with the actual reality of her childhood fantasy had been very confronting. She was so alive in the Doctor's presence and it had twisted Rory's heart to see her with the other man, the strange, compelling, alien man.
Then the Doctor had left again and Rory had finally had the courage to tell Amy how he felt, comforting her in the wake of this newest abandonment. All her life she had been abandoned over and over; so many people she loved had left her behind, almost fogotten ... except for Rory. They had an easy relationship, one she characterised to others as 'sort of' boyfriend and girlfriend, and which Rory preferred to call 'really' boyfriend and girlfriend, except neither one had admitted any deeper feelings than 'I like you a lot.' The jealousy he'd felt watching Amy's eyes on the Doctor, and the raw strength of her grief at being abandoned again, gave Rory the push he needed to tell her he loved her.
She had looked at him with clear, bright eyes and the hint of a smirk on her face as he stammered out his feelings.
'Took you long enough,' she had said when he finally wound down, then leaned forward to kiss him. And that, thought Rory happily, had been that.
Since that day he had felt like he was living in a dream, even on the day he had proposed and she had accepted him. Now he thought with dizzy delight about tomorrow. Tomorrow they were getting married and it would all be real; no more dreams, no more needing to pinch himself in case he woke from a coma in the very hospital in which he worked. The 'blip' that the Doctor had caused in his life was finally over. Rory headed to his bachelor party in high spirits.
Rory had been wrong. The blip caused by the Doctor was larger, and far further reaching than he had thought possible. He could feel jealousy coursing through him. Amy had betrayed him; she had run off with a madman, a manipulator, a ... a destroyer of lives. And then she had kissed him, all while Rory was talking to her answer phone from his bachelor party. The bitterness of her betrayal filled Rory and he stared at the Doctor in front of him with revulsion. The very idea of getting into the time machine with this man made Rory's skin crawl. Then the Doctor said the one thing that could make him change his mind.
'She needs you.'
Rory looked up and into the ancient eyes and saw a depth of understanding he had never expected from his rival. The Doctor's eyes acknowledged the lives he had torn apart, the people he had condemned to miserable lives because their partners and families had never experienced the life among the stars. There was also a hint of a love lost, of a man broken by the pain of losing someone, a man who wanted to avoid that for someone else. Though still boiling with a seething anger over Amy's actions, Rory found himself agreeing to go along with the strange man.
The first sight of Amy was brutal. She was there in front of him exactly the way she had been yesterday and yet she was also different somehow. The soft edges had worn off her and she looked almost fierce. Torn between wanting to run to her, hug her, love her and wanting to scream all the depth of his betrayal at her, Rory instead turned to unleash his resentment on the Doctor. For some reason Rory felt that the Doctor was on his side, but he also felt the alien man's need to have Amy with him 'out there' and he resented the idea that he was only an extra, an afterthought, there only because it was convenient for the Doctor to keep Amy happy.
For the first few trips together Rory couldn't help comparing himself to the other man, and feeling insecure when he never measured up. As a child he'd been forced to imitate this man and yet he could see how pale an imitation it had been. Threading through the resentment he still felt was the knowledge that the Doctor was a decent bloke, was a guy Rory could happily be friends with. The new life that had so intoxicated Amy that she had run away the day before they married was also intoxicating Rory.
Through it all was the knowledge that Amy had somehow, inexplicably, chosen him. How could he possibly ever measure up to the excitement of the life Amy had been leading? Rory's role was, always had been, to have Amy's back and be there for her always and without question. How could that sameness compare to the lightning-like excitement of the Doctor? Whenever he thought that Amy always gave him her look, and Rory knew for a few moments that she was his. Still, she never told him she loved him, too, no matter how often he said the words himself and a part of Rory always wondered when she was going to ask him to leave, to go back home while she danced around the stars with the other man.
'Stay,' she'd said. 'I want you to stay,' and while he had agreed, Rory still didn't feel like he belonged or that he meant anything serious to Amy. She had kissed him in Venice, yes; kissed him with fire and passion, but that's what she did for a living. It was impossible to know if kissing Rory meant any more to her than kissing the Doctor or any of the many other men she was paid to. The memory that she had skipped out with another man hours before their wedding still whispered around in Rory's head; never allowing him to just be with Amy.
It was only when they'd encountered the dream worlds that Rory finally believed. Amy still didn't say she loved him, but the look on her face said more than a thousand I love yous ever could. Always before Rory had let Amy close the gaps between them; he'd always been too unsure of where they stood to be the one to kiss her. Not today. Now, Amy herself looked unsure, embarrassed to have been caught out in such a raw act of love. A smile suffused Rory's face as he looked at her downcast eyes and leaned forward to kiss her. Time lost itself as the kiss lengthened – then the Doctor interrupted.
Instead of feeling angry, however, Rory felt it was appropriate for the Doctor to be part of this moment. Looking back, Rory could see the multitude ways in which the Doctor had tried to create this very situation. From sending them on a date in Venice to letting Amy bring Rory with them in the TARDIS, the Doctor had been subtly pushing them together. Even if he had a slight suspicion that the Doctor had forced this final revelation just to get Amy's attention away from him, Rory was too happy to care. In fact, Rory was now as happy as he'd thought he'd been the day before the now aborted wedding.
'You're smashing, you know that?' Rory murmured to Amy as they lay side by side on sweet smelling grass on the banks of some planet the Doctor had decided would be nice to visit. The Doctor himself was performing the odd mix of tasks he did when working out if a new planet was safe; right now he was jumping on something, testing the strength of the core below them.
'Yeah, I do know,' Amy gave Rory her familiar crooked smile, then grinned as his face fell a little. 'But it never hurts to hear it again.' She rolled towards Rory and kissed him. 'You're pretty smashing yourself,' she added. That same heart-stopping look was on her face, the one that always reminded Rory that she was willing to die rather than live without him. He grinned too.
'I know I am,' he said and laughed. He still wasn't used to this feeling of security, this knowledge of Amy's love that sang through him and gave him the confidence to banter with her in this way.
He squinted as a shadow fell over them.
'This place is dull; nothing to see here at all. What say we go to Rio?' The Doctor said. 'We can arrive right when Carnival is about to begin. It'll be a laugh.'
Still feeling that delirious sense of real happiness, Rory leapt to his feet and held his hand out to Amy. Whatever faced them now, Rory knew he could handle it. He remembered telling the Doctor, in a rage of jealousy and fear, that he made people a danger to themselves. Now he wondered why he'd said that. Being with the Doctor, coming so much closer to Amy, had brought the real Rory to the surface. He was still the same person, but he'd grown and become closer to the person he had always wanted to be: more determined, more alive, more free ... There was a whole universe to care for out there and an inner adventurer Rory never knew he possessed had made an appearance. It was thanks to the Doctor that Rory now felt fully alive and fully worthy of Amy.
As if he could sense Rory's thoughts, the Doctor clapped him on the back, gave him that knowing smile, and gestured with his head in the direction of the TARDIS. Taking Amy's hand, Rory headed into the future, secure in the knowledge that if he was with these people life would be full of joy and adventure.
Lights flickered; an orange glow surrounded him, and for some reason it scared Rory. There was somewhere he wanted to be, somewhere ... else. As if from a nightmare, images flashed around him: the Silurians, death, and the impossible crack opening beside him. Rory paused, his brow creased in puzzlement. If he was dead, how could he possibly remember what happened after his death? If he was dead, how could he remember the look on the Doctor's face as he told Amy to keep Rory in her mind? Was that what this was? Amy's mind?
Rory looked around him. If this was Amy's mind it was a weird and wonderful place, all orange glows and whirling currents. It reminded him of her and he relaxed. She was fire and uncertainty, warmth and power and he felt at home here. If death was like Amy there was nothing to fear. Rory allowed himself to drift and he dozed off while staring into the fiery light.
Sometime later he woke up. The light around him was still flickering but it was less vibrant and he was lying on something solid and cold. Slitting open one eye Rory realised he was in darkness and the lights that flickered around him were lit torches, spreading a pleasant aroma of wood smoke into the air. He groaned and closed the eye again. Amy's mind was suddenly a much colder place, far less welcoming, and yet it seemed more real too. As he rolled to his side, pain stabbed at him from something hard and metallic. Rory forced himself to raise his head and look down at his body. Roman armour? Well, that was new at least.
Deciding that this must be reality, because Amy's imagination would always dress him as the raggedy Doctor, Rory climbed to his feet and stumbled in the direction of the torches. Whatever happened now, it seemed he had been spared from death and Rory was sure that one day he would see Amy again. She was, after all, travelling with a time lord. All Rory had to do was live life and wait for her.
By the time he had reached the tents where the torches burned, Rory had almost forgotten about his life in Leadworth and with the Doctor. He was Roman, had lived an entire life here in Roman Britain, and he was good at his job as a soldier. The sense that he should be helping people, caring for them rather than fighting them, nagged at him, but Rory always shook it off. He was Roman and this was the Roman way. The dream world always whispered in the back of his mind, though, and there was always a tickling sense that someone was missing ... someone who would come and find him one day.