Word Count: 1,968
Characters/Pairings: Rory, the Doctor, mentions of Amy but no actual appearances.
Summary: When the Doctor slept, he dreamed.
Warnings: This started with me wanting to write a fic about the Doctor and his sleeping habits and it's since evolved into so much more. Somehow it came to be in Rory's perspective, then it came to encompass most of series 5. The four sections are for The Vampires of Venice, Amy's Choice, The Hungry Earth, and The Big Bang. They are Rory's observations about the Doctor over the course of the series. It's not quite shippy, but I suppose it could be read as such!
I. The Doctor's bravado is a mask.
Rory knew this - had known this ever since he'd met the man. Well, no, maybe not quite that long. He hadn't known for sure until Venice, when he'd seen the mask slip just a little bit. All that joviality, all that surety, all that blustering, excitable talk had slipped away with the death of a species that had just been looking to survive.
It hadn't been until then, the moment that the Doctor had exited the Calvierri school with a despondent expression (and it had been such a short moment before he'd spotted them and let the walls back up), that Rory truly believed he was as ancient and wise and alien as the name Time Lord painted him to be.
It was also in that moment that Rory had realised that the Doctor needed Amy, for all her fire and her passion and her heart, more than Amy had ever needed him.
So when the Doctor had turned to them, all thrill and glee and grins as he proclaimed, "So! Next stop - Leadworth Register Office? Maybe I can give you away!" Rory had known they couldn't leave. Not just yet. Maybe not ever.
He was Rory Williams, after all. He could never abandon a person in need. Even, he decided, if they had snogged his fiancée.
II. The Doctor doesn't sleep.
Not never, mind, but very rarely. It was a rare enough occurrence that when Rory first stumbled upon the Doctor passed out on the floor of the control room he was very much surprised. It wasn't like the Doctor to leave himself open and vulnerable to others like that. He was always bouncing away, hitting levers, flipping switches, zigging and zagging the zig-zag plotter... Observing him so still, unmoving save for the steady rise and fall of his chest, was more unnerving than anything Rory had ever seen.
And it was then, as Rory watched the Doctor sleep, that he saw the way his face was creased - not in a pleasant way, not with the peacefulness that sleep was supposed to be made of.
As a nurse, Rory had seen this before, particularly in trauma patients plagued by PTSD. In the recovery ward he had watched them sleep - if sleep was something you could call it. He'd seen the nightmares on their faces, etched into the lines on their skin as though the permanent, internal scars were external as well.
Rory's heart had broken for them, seeing them all so petrified even when there was no danger to be found.
When the Doctor slept, he dreamed. And when the Doctor dreamed... well, when the Doctor dreamed there was a darkness to his face. A darkness Rory had only seen a glimpse of when the Dream Lord had been created from the harmless-looking speck of psychic pollen. Rory hadn't understood then what the Doctor meant when he'd said 907 years gave the pollen a lot to go on.
He understood now, though, as he watched the Doctor's face shift and morph with the dream, through fear and pain and anger and, worst of all, a guilt and self-hatred so strong it was overwhelming.
In the end, Rory decided he couldn't take watching him anymore, and he'd shook him by the shoulder and shouted in his ear, "Doctor! Doctor, you're dreaming! Oh, wake up, would you?"
The Doctor's eyes snapped open in an instant, dazed and confused before they focused in on Rory's face. His voice was a bit muddled as he spoke, "Rory?"
"Ah..." Rory shifted on his feet uncomfortably, considering for just a moment before finally saying, "You were drooling... all over the floor and... I, well, I figured you wouldn't want to... to dirty up your ship, yeah?"
"Right!" And the Doctor was back on his feet and clasping him on the shoulder. "Must've dozed off for a bit! How silly of me. Now what was I doing...?" He muttered something under his breath about interval retractors and threads of twine as he twirled around and dusted his fingers familiarly over the buttons and knobs.
"Doctor," Rory started carefully, and the Doctor's shoulders stiffened visibly before he turned around to face him, a small smile playing across his face.
"What is it, Rory?"
"Nothing. I... nothing. Just... I'm going to bed now. Thought you should know."
The relief was immediate; his shoulders sagged, the lines around his eyes faded, and his grin broadened. "Good man! Big day tomorrow. Though, well, it's never a small day, is it? Nevertheless! Rest up, Rory, because tomorrow we're going to Barcelona - the planet Barcelona! Did I ever tell you about Barcelona? The dogs have no noses! But more on that later. Now, shoo!"
The Doctor waved a flippant hand as he turned back to his work, and Rory mentally kicked himself for not paying more attention in his psychology courses. He wasn't sure if Earth psychology could pertain to this strange alien in a bow tie, but it sure wouldn't have hurt to know it just then.
As it was, he found himself trudging back towards his and Amy's room, feeling very much like he'd let down everything he had been taught in that one, small moment.
III. The Doctor blames himself for everything.
It wasn't his most becoming feature by far. He took the troubles of humans and aliens alike and set it squarely upon his shoulders, as though he could hold up not only the weight of the entire Earth, but the entire universe as well.
Quite frankly, Rory was sick and tired of it. Amy had been taken into the Earth because she was headstrong, brave, and unbelievably mad. Rory had known her for nearly fourteen years now, and he was sure there would've been no way for the Doctor to have stopped her from doing what she thought was right.
Stopping Amy Pond was kind of like trying to stop a freight train at full speed - stand in its way and it will run you over, no matter how strong you are. It's best to just grab onto the rail and go along for the ride.
The Doctor, though, he made it part of his own personal agenda to ensure Amy made it back okay. Not even only Amy, but Ambrose's husband and son as well (though, if Rory were to be honest, the Doctor should have kept a closer eye on Elliot... but really, what kind of mother didn't notice her son was missing when the doors closed?).
Still, Rory knew that whenever the Doctor blamed himself he was also, more than ever, determined to make things right.
They'd find Amy, they'd find Elliot and his father, and they'd stop a war. Of that, Rory had absolutely no doubt.
IV. The Doctor is very old, and very kind, and the very, very last.
1,894. Plus twenty-one. 1,915. One thousand, nine hundred and fifteen. The number didn't seem so large until Rory wrote it out word-for-word on a slip of paper and stared at it, numbers and letters and words that meant nothing yet everything.
With a start, he realised that he was, technically, over twice the age of the Doctor now - unless the Doctor wasn't actually 907. Rory didn't feel so old, perhaps because he wasn't, not anymore, not even with the memories of those two thousand years, but he'd seen things. He'd done things, things he wasn't exactly proud of, to keep Amy and the Pandorica safe. It weighed on him like lead.
The Doctor knew it. Rory knew he did, what with the little looks he'd been giving him ever since the night of his wedding. They were subtle, barely hinting at so now you know too, huh? or it doesn't get easier, Rory, but they were there. And they were comforting.
One night, about a week into his marriage, Rory happened upon the Doctor in the kitchen, fixing up some sort of purple-coloured dish and a pot of tea. The Doctor stared at him for one long, uncomfortable moment before he finally asked if he wanted a plate and cup.
Rory accepted the tea. He didn't quite want to know what the purple stuff was.
The Doctor sat down at the table, crossed his legs at his ankles, and as he stirred some milk absentmindedly into his tea, he spoke: "How many languages do you know?"
Rory blinked. "Sorry?"
"I've got about five billion."
"I-" Rory shook his head, brow creasing with bewildered disbelief. "I don't know, maybe nine? Are you... are you competing? I thought we were past that."
"What?" The Doctor looked up from his tea and leaned forward in his chair, frowning in puzzlement. "No, I'm not competing. Why would you...?" He shook his head. "Nine, a good number, that. Some cultures consider it a perfect number, did you know? Multiply three by itself and you get nine, and two threes are definitely a good thing. Well, one three is a good thing, and so two is even better!"
"Two threes also make a six, and three sixes aren't usually a good thing," Rory pointed out, and the Doctor shot him a bemused look.
"Well, thankfully, we're talking in multiplication, not addition." The Doctor paused and opened his mouth to speak again before changing his mind and snapping it shut.
"It's hard, isn't it?" The Doctor finally said, his attention once again focused on stirring his tea even though the milk had long since assimilated. "The decisions you have to make. Pompeii, or the Earth? The Pandorica and Amelia Pond, or the Roman family that's housed you and kept your secret for... what, two generations?"
"Four," Rory corrected in a quiet voice, not even bothering to wonder how the Doctor had found out about that, since that world didn't even exist anymore. The man seemed to know everything, after all. "I just left them while their village was being raided. I could hear them shouting my name - asking for my help, you know. I was a god for them. But I didn't even... I couldn't turn back."
"Quite like a god, not interfering in the lives of mortals," the Doctor mused, setting his mug down on the table in favour of folding his hands on his stomach. "People our age, when they've lived that long... they have to do things they aren't proud of or happy about. Sometimes it's for a greater good. Sometimes it's for completely, humanly selfish reasons." He fixed Rory with a loaded stare, pointing a finger at him. "You, Rory- you did what you had to do. Without the Pandorica, the universe would've been unwritten."
"I know that!" Rory snapped irritably, taking a long swig of his tea and nearly burning his throat. "It doesn't make it better, Doctor!"
"No, it doesn't," the Doctor agreed solemnly, smiling sadly, "but it makes it bearable. Sometimes that's all you'll get."
Another long moment passed between them, but Rory found that this time it wasn't an uncomfortable one; it was companionable. He wasn't sure when the Doctor had changed from being somebody he stayed with out of necessity to somebody he travelled with because of friendship, but he was glad that it had turned out this way.
"Are you going to stand there all day?" The Doctor broke the silence, motioning to another chair at the table. "Sit! Relax! Put up your feet! Tell me all about this alternate world you knew for nearly two thousand years! I'm really quite curious about how your astronomical science developed without any stars!"
"You have an insatiable curiousity, Doctor," Rory smiled. He pulled out a chair and sat; over a few dozen cups of tea the story of the Pandorica, and its Roman centurion, was told.