Note: Oh my God, you guys, this one has been giving me absolute hell for the past two weeks. It's gone through at least six basic premeses, and it may have ended up all smashed together and less slick than it could be, but I cannot work on it another minute without making it worse. So please, review, and take pity on my sleepless gibbering.

More general note: I've skipped "f", because I have special plans for it (in conjuction with "j", which I may also skip when the time comes so I can work on that as a separate project). Thanks so much to everyone who's reviewed my past stories - your kindness and encouragement have been invaluable! This whole 26-prompt thing is turning out to be a much bigger undertaking than I had anticipated, but as long as you folks are enjoying it then all this work is well worth it. Rock on. ^_^

Prompt: Gaudiloquent - speaking joyfully or on joyful matters.

"So then the First of the Essomenes comes through the portal, and the Blufezzian plumber turns to the Dalek and says –"

"Hang on," Amy says. "Didn't the blue-fez guy get turned into a banana?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Pond," the Doctor snorts. "People don't just go around turning people into bananas, no one would ever get anything done –"

"No, I remember this – the Martian had a laser, you definitely said, and he was holding up the spaceport with it, and – okay, I might have fallen asleep around this part," she admits, then adds hurriedly, "but I definitely remember you saying the blue-fez guy turned into a banana, because I don't have dreams that weird."

"Ah. Hmm." The Doctor pauses for a moment, thinking hard, and the cell is silent except for the sounds of their breathing and the occasional faint clink of chains. "Oh! I knew I'd left something out," he says brightly. "The Blufezzians are fructiforms, they evolved from intelligent seed-pods and now they can trigger a sort of camouflage defense when they're being threatened. It comes in handy too, not many people think to attack a giant fruit – it's still got the Blufezzian mind, of course –"

"Wait. Are you actually trying to tell me that there's an actual planet, out there in the actual universe, where the actual people are were-bananas?"

"Blufezzians," the Doctor corrects her. "We can go visit them, if you like. They've got pastries growing on hedges there, it's brilliant. Oh - now where was I?"

The cell is pitch-black, and the prisoners can't see their own noses, much less each other, but long experience has taught Amy that the Doctor wouldn't be slowed down by her blank stare even if he could see it. Sure enough, he rattles his chains a bit more and chirps, "Right! The Essomene. So the Essomene comes through and Blufezzian turns to the Dalek and says, listen to this, it's great, Now I bet you wished you'd asked for directions!"


Finally Amy clears her throat and pulls at her ankle cuffs a little, trying to shift into a more comfortable position. "Is that the sort of joke they tell on your planet?"

"Nah. That one's from the Vega system," the Doctor says. "Proper Time Lords don't tell jokes, apparently."

"Can't imagine why," Amy mutters under her breath. There's another lull, broken only by the faint moans of other prisoners from distant cells, and the echoing underground drip of water in the walls. "They said they were executing us at dawn, right?" she asks, after a few minutes have gone by.

"Well, not execute exactly. It translates more like 'shoot-you-into-space'. But at dawn, yes."

"And how much longer do we have until dawn?"

"Three hours and twenty-five minutes, at least," the Doctor says. He tugs on his chains again, setting up a small racket, but it's no use. The guards took the sonic from him when they were arrested, and even if he had it there wouldn't be much it could do about strong steel bands welded to solid stone. "Oh! I know," he says suddenly, after the echoes have died down. "Tell the one about the sailor on shore leave again."

For once Amy is thankful for the darkness – at least he can't see her burning blush. "I don't – no," she blurts out, wondering how she could be so worried about corrupting an alien who was, by his own admission, centuries old. It would be better if he would try to understand, if he would at least pretend that he knows what she's talking about – but the Doctor's stance seems to be that innuendo, like parking tickets, is something that happens to other people; and moreover that it's something he can learn all he needs to know about from the outside, without any particular desire to experience it firsthand.

"Oh, come on, I've told all my Vega jokes," he coaxes. "And anyway I still don't understand what the whipped cream has to do with –"

"No, Doctor," Amy sighs. "It's bad enough you made me tell the whole thing once, I am not going to, to explain it to you –" she almost offers to give him a demonstration when they get back to the TARDIS, she's this close to offering, even though she knows she'll just feel like an idiot and he'll just look at her with that adorable, befuddled incomprehension –

"Well, fine then," the Doctor sighs. Lost in her thoughts, Amy doesn't pay attention to the noises of him wriggling around until the faint clinks turn into alarming clanks, then a series of thumps and an almighty crack. "In that case," the Doctor says, suddenly right beside her, "fancy a moonlight stroll?"

"But what – how did you –" Amy splutters, as the Doctor quickly uncuffs her wrists and ankles and leads her to the cell door.

"Stole a micro-magnet bead off the guard. When you're a big oyster, you don't get many pickpockets, they never see it coming. Come on, Pond, keep up." He pulls back the grating on the cell door, revealing a glimmer of light at the top of a dank, winding staircase. "Ready?" he whispers, his hand finding hers in the dark.

"Ready," she whispers back.

"Then let's go," he says, but doesn't move. In the faint light filtering down the stairs Amy can see his ponderous expression, and she knows, she knows what's coming almost before he opens his mouth.

"I still don't understand that story, though," he says thoughtfully. "Maybe you could give me a demonstration when we get back to the TARDIS. I think there might be a few fundamental laws of physics that get broken –"

"Oh, for the love of God," Amy groans, and starts dragging him up the stairs.

There are things that Amy and the Doctor don't talk about – not secrets, exactly, just…things. He makes breezy mentions of lost friends and improbable family, like touching an old scar to make sure it's still there, and she has words that she dances around – words like marriage and home and time. Amy doesn't ask point-blank questions, the Doctor doesn't make undue implications, and if they have to weave and dodge and evade sometimes, well, what's a little lie of omission between friends?

She's confident, at least, that the Doctor tells her the important stuff. Maybe it takes him a while; maybe it's not until after his grandly improvised plan has gone off and all the pieces have been swept up, maybe it's not until she's kissed him or otherwise threatened him, but he tells her. She makes sure of that. Even if she isn't The Girl the Doctor Tells Everything To, she's definitely The Girl Who Gets An Explanation of the Important Things. Eventually.

Then there are times when he scowls, or smiles, or tugs mechanically at some lever on the console while his eyes search out the patterns of distant unfathomable galaxies, and she can't suppress a shiver at the thought that her bright, quick-footed Doctor is only the shine of thin ice over deep water. In him are depths of time and memory vast enough to drown her, death and regret enough to slow the spin of stars, things that he can't ever tell her because there aren't words for them in any language she'd understand, and even if there were he wouldn't use them because they would be strong enough to break listener and speaker both –

"—so there's the capitol city on Villengaard, excellent bananas there, if I do say so myself, unless that's a bit of a boast. We're both low on potassium anyway, comes of all those gravity-jumps, nothing like a good banana for bad gravity-jump, or – well, there isn't much a banana isn't good for, now that I think of it. Certainly good for picnics. Fancy a picnic?"

There's no answer. "Pond?" the Doctor says softly, and as Amy surfaces from her thoughts she finds herself thinking about how the single nondescript syllable of her last name becomes, in the Doctor's mouth, an entire vocabulary.

"I – what? Sorry, yeah, a picnic, sounds great," she stammers. The Doctor looks at her for a long minute with half-lidded eyes, but says nothing.

Later, though, when they're resting on the warm sandy ground beneath the Villengaard banana grove, looking up through the leaves to the concrete towers and catwalks of the city above, the Doctor turns onto his side and kisses her. It's a brief kiss, light and hesitating, but it's more than that - it's like the continuation of a conversation that they've never had, and are always having. With that small kiss, and the next, and the next, he's trying to explain, to tell her about time - about here and now, about which things are Important and which are mere shadows. With a thousand small kisses he's writing his own untranslatable code on her lips and the curve of her shoulder, he's trying to tell her what he hasn't yet figured out how to tell her, about love that there isn't a word for in any language she knows, about meaningless secrets and tongue-tied adoration, about -

"Oh, shut up," Amy growls, her heart tight and full to bursting, as she grabs his bow tie and jerks his head down, drawing him into a deeper kiss.

He always finds a way to tell her the important things, and what else is there to say?

On Ferrule, Amy gets locked out of the TARDIS and has to wait, shivering in the planet's near-constant freezing rain, for the half a day it takes the Doctor's thank-you parade to wend its way over from the other side of the city. The strain of alien flu she catches as a result lands her in bed for three days, coughing miserably and shivering under a pile of blue duck-print blankets.

Even with the help of all the advanced alien medical gadgets that can be cobbled together from the spare parts of a TARDIS, her temperature is dangerously high, and for two and a half days she drifts in and out of consciousness, aware of almost nothing. Occasionally the Doctor breaks into her muddled delirium, commanding her to drink something from a cup he holds to her lips, or rubbing her back in cool circles to help her breathe again after a fit of coughing. Once, she half-wakes to find him sitting on the edge of her bed, working the clumps of Ferrulian mud out of her hair with gentle fingers and singing, very softly. His voice is terrible, and the words sound like no language Amy's ever heard before, but the song itself shines like a shooting star and follows her back down into the darkness of her dreams.

It's not long after that that one of the Doctor's many alien medicines finally takes effect, and Amy wakes up on the third morning feeling wretched, but altogether less wretched than she has since before Ferrule. The Doctor is gone, but he left a small golden key on her bedside table and a message floating in the front of her head, shapeless and vague, just waiting for her to focus on it and bring it into shape.

The message starts out using words; Good morning Pond, come down to the library when you're feeling better, the swimming pool hasn't seen you in a while and it's getting restive, and then the words start breaking up, mixing in with shards of bright thoughts that jumped from the Doctor's head to hers without going through any translation in between. The key on the bedside table is a TARDIS key, and it's hers (forever, forever), and he shouldn't have left her on Ferrule, he's sorry, so sorry (slow supernova self-rage) and he should have given her a key (forever) ages ago, and now that she's back again and safe (fierce joy) she'll never again be locked out, shut out, left behind, alone, abandoned, undefended, lost; and now that she's here (home) won't she be home (here) with him – images of asking properly, proposals, boxes on notebook paper, check yes/no - and won't she stay, stay till the heat-death of the universe, stay till the stars run out, run down, stay and run always with her Raggedy Doctor (to hell with the 'raggedy', bow ties are cool) - with him?

There's fear in the message too, under the joy and longing, and Amy tries very hard to be indignant with him for ever doubting that her answer would be yes.

They follow a distress call to Menesqait; the planet is faltering, stalling, losing its skin to the pull of its ravenous star, and the four billion souls on its surface are powerless to stop it cracking apart. Their technology is not advanced enough to mend worlds; evacuation ships cannot save a tenth of them. Their distress call is poignant, neverending, and beautiful, pouring out in all directions, serenading indifferent empty space with the song of a dying civilization. It fills the Doctor with rage, so much so that he crashes into the High Council Chamber of the capitol city and takes it over in order to build a sprawling miracle machine.

The Doctor's machine is one anchor to a gravitational chain, and must be tended constantly to keep from dissolving into antimatter. The other end of the chain will be sunk into the heart of the TARDIS, the only ship for light-years around capable of pulling it; the TARDIS, whose engines shut down when there's no one inside.

So Amy goes in the TARDIS to distant earthquake scars and dry sea-basins, circling the world and laying down new lines of gravity, while the Doctor stays in Menesq among the drought-stricken gardens and huddled crowds, monitoring the pinwheels on his gravity machine, monitoring the motions of the sick planet through the soles of his feet and the whorls of his time-sense. He talks to his Pond over a bright silver earpiece, talks to her for a week at a time about dogs with no noses, and the glass zeppelin routes on Ophyron, and the eating habits of the hulking hiatomoth; and she tells him about what stars you can see from a field outside of Leadworth, and how sunsets look inverted from Menesqait's southern hemisphere, and the time when she was twelve and ran away from home.

Once each new gravity chain is solid she comes back to the capitol city for a day and a night, until the next chain can be prepared. They spend those nights lying side-by-side under the softly glowing willow tree in the palace courtyard, their hands entwined, Amy's head resting on the Doctor's chest, saying nothing aloud that can't be inferred from their three heartbeats and the warm night breeze. Their silence then speaks volumes, though they're both usually too exhausted to try and translate what it means.

The Menesqaitians in the capitol city follow the Doctor in droves, wanting to learn from the wisdom of this tweed-clad alien who answered their hopeless message, who came from the stars to save them. When Amy is gone the Doctor speaks to her on a scrambler, so that the wise officials and counselors of Menesq eavesdropping on him hear only "kumquat holiday under scaffolding brings caramel" - which will be written into the holy books of several religious sects in the city and be passed on as prophecy for centuries, though most scholars will consider it fulfilled with the overthrow of a tyrannical orange-skinned dictator in a hundred and fifty years' time.

But the wisest Menesqaitians are very wise indeed, and most of them are old in ways that the Doctor, with his young body, is not. Many of them suspect that under the kumquat nonsense is further nonsense; that even if they could crack the scramble they would hear only meaningless chatter, snippets of stories of lost civilizations, time-machine operating instructions, none of which mean anything because they aren't the real message either. Some of them even realize that the Doctor himself is a scramble, his hands and eyes are a scramble, his every synapse is a scramble and the scrambled message he's broadcasting in all directions is I love you, I love you, I love you.

After a Menesqaitian month, the last gravity-chain is laid and the Doctor bolts without warning from the council chamber, running like a madman through the gardens, through the wide streets and hovercar thoroughfares, gathering a curious crowd as he goes. He runs without stopping through the city gates and starts up the slope of the Imperial Hill. Already the air is filled with the grating whine of the TARDIS engines, and the grass is flattening to make way for the big blue box, and then the ship is there and the door swings open, giving Amy just enough time to stick her head out and get one wide-eyed glimpse of the gathered aliens before the Doctor crashes into her with a muffled shout of joy. Then the doors close, and the beautiful impossible ship, the bluest blue anyone has ever seen, is gone from that world forever.

After some deliberation, the Menesqaitians who were present on that day agree that the Doctor's last scrambled shout of greeting and reunion was "Jauntily candlesticks!"

Of course, the scholars and wise men understand that everything the Doctor spoke through the scrambler was nonsense; and anyway they don't have candlesticks on Menesqait. Nevertheless, the people there have been using the phrase jauntily candlesticks in their marriage rite, as a prayer for luck and love, for fifteen hundred years.


(That last one is definitely my favorite. But that's just me.)