Author's Notes: Apologies to anyone watching this story, I've updated this chapter, as there are a lot of sections where my writing it a bit iffy, so I wanted to improve it.
The Girls Who Waited- Chapter 2
There was an electronic bleep as Amy opened the door and walked into the little shop. She had been standing outside for a while now, looking between the sign over the door, and the little piece of paper on which she had scribbled down an address. They matched, but still she didn't want to go in. Doubt was filtering in now, as she realised what it was she was about to do. She had spent eleven years thinking that the Doctor was hers, and hers alone. She knew that he had never been a fiction of her lonely mind, creating a companion for herself in a new town where she did not know anyone, or as a replacement for the Aunt that was never there. Despite everything that people thought, he was no imaginary friend; Amy had always had a vivid imagination, but it wasn't quite that good. And she could not physically have done what his box had done to the garden shed, and she had no reason to make that mess in the kitchen. But that didn't stop him from taking on the same kind of qualities as an imaginary friend; he was hers. She had told the story of he raggedy man, and she had let Rory act like him for their amusement, but that night had been her. No-one else had experienced it. No-one else knew exactly what he looked like, sounded like, how he acted. No-one else had met her magical friend. He was, to her mind, hers.
But now, after searching the internet, she found that she was just one of many, many people he had met and helped, not to mention what sounded like hundreds of occasions that he had saved the whole planet. Her life had been shaken, the foundations crumbling. She had lived most of her life thinking that she was special, chosen out of everyone else. That conviction had made her the strong person that she had grown up to be. She had been ridiculed for it, but still she had stood by her beliefs no matter what.
But even after this discovery, she could pretend that maybe it was someone else they were talking about someone else. People who posted to the websites claimed that all images had been destroyed by something called the "Bad Wolf Virus", and indeed whenever she found anything promising, the images vanished before the link could finish loading. If she didn't see physical proof that it was actually him, then she could convince herself that it wasn't him. She could have.
If she hadn't come here.
But this, this was something that could completely shatter her memories and her fantasies. She was about to meet someone else whose life had been touched by her Mad Man with a Box. And they had evidence. The guy she had been talking to on the forums, Larry, he said there was something about a DVD, with the Doctor talking away. How many people had seen the DVD? How many other people had seen her Doctor, watched him on the screen and felt as it he was talking directly to them? Could her resolve really withstand this? Someone who had seen something so intimate to her, and what's more, he said he had even met him, though only briefly.
'Can I help you?'
Amy jumped away from the door, and it gently closed behind her. There was a girl standing behind the counter, presumably having come in sometime after Amy had gone through the doorway, since she hadn't been there when Amy walked in. Or at least, she didn't think she had. She hadn't noticed her there... then again, it wasn't like she was very spatially aware at the time... she was too distracted by the sound of her little reality crashing down around her.
The girl was looking at her with politely inquisitive dark eyes. Her dark blonde hair was pulled back in a clip, with most of it hanging down in soft curls around her shoulders. She was perhaps a few years older than her, and though she looked friendly enough, she felt a little uncertain as to how to broach the subject of her Knight in Ripped Pinstripes.
Studying her for a long moment, the girl smiled encouragingly, as if she understood the teenager's silence and her discomfort. 'Wild guess," she said, smile pulling up at one side into a friendly smirk, 'you're not here for the books.'
Amy looked around her, registering for the first time the low shelves surrounding her. They were all elegant; antiquated, several leather-bound and many with the titles printed smartly onto the covers in gold. There were a few titles that she recognised, but many more that she didn't, and a few seemed to be in different languages. She blinked at them for a moment, having completely forgotten that it was, indeed, a book shop that she had come to, and when her gaze once again fixed on the shop girl, they shared a laugh.
'How did you guess?' said Amy jokingly, more at at ease, and she moved away from the door a little 'I dunno if I'm at the right place. I mean, I think I have, I looked up the address, and the shop's the same as he said it was, but...' she was, as she always did when nervous, babbling. Shifting awkwardly from foot to foot, and hitching her backpack more comfortably on her shoulder, she tried for a little coherency "...I'm looking for Lawrence Nightingale? Something about an... Easter egg?'
The girl's smile faltered, then fell completely, eyes rolling with a growl of irritation and a mutter under her breath. Seeming to forget that Amy was there, she turned to a room just visible through a beaded-curtained doorway with an angry hand gesture, as if strangling someone who wasn't there for a few seconds. When she stopped, calming herself with a sigh and a hand coming up to pinch the bridge of her nose, she turned back to the half-scared, half bemused eighteen-year-old before her, plastering a now false smile on her face.
'Sorry about that... have you ever met someone who just seems to find delight in irritating you?' the question seemed rhetorical, as she continued without before the redhead had time to get further than opening her mouth 'I need to make a call... do you wanna come through, and I'll put the kettle on. I was gonna close for lunch anyway,' she manoeuvred out from behind the counter and around Amy, turning the sign hanging on the door so that it said closed and escorting the confused girl into the kitchen through the beaded curtain, which she held aside for with one hand, the other hovering at the base of Amy's back.
Gesturing to a comfortable looking chair, the girl left her at a small wooden table. Covered in ring marks from countless un-coastered cups, most of its surface was taken up by a large television and with an inbuilt DVD player, behind which high windows that filled the room with light. Looking around, she noticed that the walls of one half of the room were covered in shelves full of DVDs and files vying for space. There was another doorway on the other side of the room to the one they had entered through, and the rest of the room was a small perfunctory kitchen – sparse, but well used. This was where the other girl had busied herself, flicking on a kettle and rifling through a cupboard with one hand while holding her mobile to her ear with the other. While waiting for it to be answered, she showed a box of teabags to Amy in a silent askance of if they were okay, and when Amy nodded, she dropped on into each of the two cups she had laid out already, just as Lawrence picked up on the other side of the line.
The conversation was brief; over just as the kettle came to the boil, and not as angry as to be expected from her reaction when Amy had mentioned the man's name. It was more... weary than anything else. Tired. As if whatever he was saying was not unexpected, but a common occurrence, and judging by her worn out acceptances of his apologies, they were something she heard far too often. When she hung up, she looked back at the younger girl, smiling an apology of her own for ignoring her.
'Sorry to tell you, but Larry's out of town for a couple of days. Apparently he's off in Wales, visiting a friend that had a book for him for the shop,' she paused as she poured the hot water into the cups 'Honestly, would it have killed him to tell me he had someone visiting? Sugar?'
With a jolt, Amy realised that the last was directed to her, 'Oh! Um, yes.'
'A little, please.'
There was a moment of silence, filled only by the tinkling of the teaspoon on the inside of the cups, the slosh of liquid and the sounds of the kettle cooling down. The blonde brought the mugs over, sitting in the chair to the left of Amy and handing her a mug with a smile. Pulling her feet up onto the seat with one arm around her legs and holding the mug over her mouth as she blew to cool it, studying Amy over its rim.
'I'm Sally by the way. Sally Sparrow.'
'I know what you're thinking, Amy Pond,' Sally said at length.
Amy realised, as she looked up, how long she had been stared at the mug in front of her blankly. She wasn't even certain of her own thoughts anymore, so jumbled as they were. If this girl wanted to shed some light on them, she wasn't going to stop her.
'You're thinking... that you've come all this way for nothing. The guy who could have given you the answers you're looking for has buggered off somewhere for who knows how long, and you're considering your choices. If you want your answers, you can find somewhere to stay until he comes back, or you can go back home without your answers for now, and maybe come back later. But... judging by the look on your face... you don't know if you want them...'
'How did you...?'
That kind smirk was back, 'Spooky, isn't it?' she said, her eyes widening for dramatic effect.
'I... I thought I wanted to find out. I mean... I've been waiting for eleven years. I've been looking all that time, but now... it's complicated.'
'Tell me about it.'
Their eyes met for a moment, studying each other. Two complete strangers, brought together by each of them meeting, for one tiny moment, a man that had changed their lives. There was curiosity alighting in her eyes, and she settled herself into her seat, ready not just to hear the story which many before her had listened to, but to do something no-one else had ever even tried to do.
She was going to believe. No matter the story, she was ready to believe what Amy had to say.
Her heart rate picked up a little, the same excitement at telling her tale mixing with something she hadn't felt before.
'...What about the shop?'
'It's a quiet day for a quiet shop.' Sally said confidently, wiping away the uncertainty with the vigour with which she said it, eyes fixed on hers. 'If anyone needs me, they'll knock. This is more important.'
Biting her lip, Amy mimicked Sally's posture, settling and taking a deep breath. Sally nodded her encouragement, and Amy began her tale.