A Universe Worth Living In
By Laura Schiller
Based on: Doctor Who
"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it."
- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Ch. 9
Amelia "Amy" Pond was thrilled to pieces by the way her wedding had turned out. Not only had she remembered the Doctor at last and thereby saved him from spatial and temporal oblivion, but he was taking her and Rory on a full-blown, intergalactic honeymoon cruise. Mayhem included. Duration unknown. The obliging TARDIS, which had never hosted a pair of newlyweds before, had provided the most gorgeous suite – a king-sized four-poster bed with an ivory silk quilt, enough candles to supply a church, and a white-tiled bathroom with a Jacuzzi big enough for two. Amy squeaked in delight and whirled around to beam at Rory. This was going to be fun.
"Well then, Mr. Pond," she said, advancing on him with a swing of the hips that made her dress rustle. "Let's get down to business, shall we?"
The look on Rory's face made her stop short right in front of him. He did not look the least bit excited; in fact his pale, boyish features were every bit as grim as those of the Roman soldier he had once been.
"Amy … we need to talk."
Her heart sank. Much as she liked to joke about Rory being the submissive one, she still valued his respect enough that moments like these made her acutely uncomfortable.
"Can't it wait 'til the morning?" she pouted.
He shook his head. "No … this is important. I really need to say this." He held up his hands, struggling for words; in that familiar gesture, he was her boy again, and she felt a little better.
"The thing is … just now. When the Doctor came back. It was a great moment, yeah? Made us both happy. He's much too important to be forgotten."
"Course not!" she interrupted indignantly.
"No, let me finish. What I mean is … " He threw up his hands again, rolled his gray eyes up to the ceiling, and seemed to abandon any previous effort at being tactful. "'Kiss the bride', seriously? Five minutes married and you're flirting with another man?"
Amy was not a natural redhead for nothing. She jammed her hands onto her hips and glared.
"That was a joke, Rory! Can't you take a joke? Or do you think just because we're married, you suddenly own me?"
"You've been acting like you own me since we were kids, Amy. I wouldn't mind the reverse once in a while – no, hold on," as she was about to interrupt again. "I don't care so much about you kissing other people. It's your job, after all. No, but why does it have to be the Doctor?"
"Ugh, here we go again!" She rolled her eyes. "You've always been jealous of him."
"Is it any wonder if I am?" Rory almost never raised his voice, so when he did, it really meant something. "You've been obsessed with the man since you were seven. You made me dress up as him and eat bloody fish custard and as soon as he came back – fourteen years late – on the night before our wedding – you ran off with him without even saying goodbye. And you tried to kiss him. He told me so, at the bachelor party."
"Oh, all right, so I wanted a bit of adventure before settling down in armpit-of-the-world Leadworth. So shoot me!"
"You thought our marriage was going to be boring?"
Amy flushed guiltily, but was too angry to apologize. "Not if we spend it like this, it won't," she snapped, sitting down on the edge of the bed and pointedly avoiding Rory's accusing eyes. Of all the inconvenient times to feel like crying!
"I'm not enjoying this either," he said, in a more level, reasonable tone. "You know me … I hate arguments. I wouldn't bring this up now if it weren't so important."
He sat down next to her – at a safe distance – and gently placed a finger under her chin to turn her face towards him.
"Amy," he said – quiet, but very firm. "Tell me the truth. I need to know. If you'd remembered the Doctor earlier … before our wedding … would you still have married me?"
Amy was silenced – more effectively than if he had slapped her. The moment before she could manage to speak felt like an eternity.
"What … what sort of question is that?" Through her tears, she felt her temper rising again. "I did marry you, didn't I? Just like you always wanted. Are you telling me you're sorry now?"
"Only if you are."
"What do you mean?"
Rory's face was paler than ever, his mouse-brown hair still neatly combed from the wedding photographs. He looked very young and very old at the same time as he answered; like a man who had seen centuries pass.
"You watched me die, remember?" he said sadly, "Twice. And then your memories were erased, and then you saw me guarding the Pandorica. You don't have to stay with me out of guilt, or because you feel sorry for me or anything. You know I love you … I always have … but if you prefer the Doctor, we can get back to the registry office right now and file for divorce. Just say the word."
Amy, who had been fighting a losing battle against the urge to cry all along, let her tears spill over with an audible sob. She wiped her eyes and looked up, right into his beautiful, stormcloud-colored eyes.
"You idiot," she said. "How many ways do I have to say this?"
She grabbed him by the lapels of his tuxedo and kissed him – one of those fierce, posessive kisses she'd never give to anyone but Rory. She landed two more kisses, one on his forehead and one on the tip of his nose, just for good measure.
"Look," she said breathlessly, still holding on to the tuxedo. "I love you, Rory Williams. Nothing's gonna change that. It's like, it's like … " She snapped her fingers, groping for an explanation. She was a talented flirt, but deep emotional revelations had never been her strong suit.
"The Doctor's brilliant and all … with his cool time machine and his floppy hair and even that bow tie. And he's fun to flirt with because he gets all shocked, like an old maiden aunt." She giggled at the memory. "But, honestly? … Even if he did like me in that way – which he totally doesn't – when it comes down to it, I don't really need him. I managed without him for fourteen years, after all."
She reached over and took Rory's hand, the one with the ring, between both of hers.
"With you it's different," she said softly. "I've seen the universe without you … and it's not worth living in."
"Amy … "
She looked into his face, the same average, familiar face she had been seeing since their childhood, and found it extraordinary. This was the face of the boy who had found her seven-year-old self in the garden and lent her his handkerchief on the night the Doctor failed to appear. The boy who had started a schoolyard brawl with three seniors for saying she was crazy. The boy who had worked two jobs and sat up nights getting through medical school. The man who had stood guard over her for two thousand years
"You're my centurion," she said. "The bravest, kindest, most honorable man I've ever known. I loved you when you didn't even exist. I'm not about to stop now."
He was smiling now, and his eyes were very bright. It was his turn to lean forward and kiss her, in that gentle, almost reverent way he had as if he couldn't quite believe his luck.
"Come here, Mrs. Williams," he whispered, his warm breath ticking the skin of her neck. "We have a wedding night to celebrate … so as you would say in the most eloquent terms … " He slipped off the left strap of her wedding dress and kissed her white shoulder. "Shut up."