A/N: Takes place before 'Amy's Choice'.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Rory was in the library, reading up on the basics of quantum mechanics (he'd found the book between Alice in Wonderland and a first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh) and trying to ignore the swimming pool, when Amy burst in. She stopped only a metre of so in front of his armchair and smiled hugely.
"Seen another vampire?" he asked, a great deal more huffily than he'd intended.
"The Doctor's cooking dinner!" Amy squealed, and laced her fingers together in that way he always found so very irresistible. His huffiness began to dissipate. "A romantic dinner," she continued.
And he was right back to huffy again. "Right… and you want me to stay in my room?"
Amy's face fell, but she composed herself quickly. "For us, stupid. You. Me." She unlaced her fingers and folded her arms instead. "Dinner for us," she said, more soberly.
Rory straightened in his seat. There was something fundamentally wrong about the whole situation. "Where'll he be? Hiding in the dessert?"
She arched an eyebrow. "He'll be busy cleaning up; I saw the kitchen."
Rory closed the book very carefully and held it like a shield in front of his chest. "You're sure he said that? He said 'you and Rory' and not 'you and me' as in 'you, Amy, and me, the Doctor'?"
"Oh, stop it!"
Rory looked at her, in what he hoped was a stern and expectant manner.
She sighed. Loudly. "You and me as in Amy and Rory. Aaamy. Rooory." She cocked her head and glared. "You."
"Why is he cooking for us?"
"I don't know... He's just very old and very kind." She smiled her inward, Doctor-reserved smile. "It smelled great, despite the… mess. He can cook, I didn't really expect that."
"And what is he cooking?" asked Rory, more to remind her of his presence than out of any real desire to know. Of course the shiny magic Doctor could cook, he thought, he wouldn't be perfect otherwise.
"Food, Rory, just go with it!" Amy sounded quite exasperated. Then she reached out, plucked the book from his hands and carelessly threw it to the side. It caused a splash that made it all too obvious where it had landed. "I'm getting changed. You should too." She smiled (an outward smile), winked, and was gone.
Rory didn't even try to find the wardrobe — he went looking for the kitchen and found it after only three wrong turns (he had been seriously concerned he was well and truly lost during that last one, but just as he was about to concede defeat, a screeching alarm and some noxious fumes had led him to the right place).
The kitchen was a proper mess. It was a tiny place, too; just a worktop and some cupboards and an island — and every available surface was littered with stuff. Rory couldn't even see a cooker — just a battlefield of pots and pans, ladles and giants forks, bowls and bottles, whole piles of things he had no idea what they were supposed to do (or be).
"I thought the ship made you food?" he asked, trying not to stare too obviously at some red liquid that was oozing sluggishly from an overturned bowl, down a cupboard, and onto the floor. He couldn't deny that the sight satisfied him a bit. He also quietly enjoyed that something had obviously been very much on fire (the Doctor had been stroking a wall and thanking the ship for 'that quick extinguish' when he came in, so he wasn't just imagining things).
In some sort of ironic twist, the Doctor, in shirtsleeves and what looked like a smith's apron, was spotless. He gave Rory a levelled, patient look that very clearly conveyed that he thought the other was a bit of an idiot. "I can still cook," he said. "If I want to, whenI want to."
"Is it going well?" Between the state of the kitchen and acrid tinge to the air, Rory thought the answer was obvious.
The Doctor, as usual, didn't. He looked around, as if he'd just now noticed where he was standing, opened his mouth, and slowly closed it again. Apparently not even he could pretend the kitchen was supposed to look like that. "I used to be able to make this dish with my eyes closed." He suddenly looked sheepish. "Today I just couldn't find the right utensils."
Rory made a sympathetic sound, but couldn't help acknowledging another pang of satisfaction.
The Doctor picked up a many-jointed thing from the island top and waved it around. "I found this in a toolbox, that Venusian ladle —" he pointed at something spherical that hardly resembled a utensil at all, let alone a ladle "— in the left pocket of a jacket I'm never even looking at again… and the TARDIS sprouted those I just couldn't find."
Rory nodded as if it all made perfect sense. Time machines sprouting things hadn't been mentioned even in a footnote anywhere in the literature he had ploughed through, but he had decided to just take the Doctor's word regarding the TARDIS.
"Then I chose the wrong size pot — four times — and then I fried — something — that shouldn't have been fried and it exploded a little."
"Can I help?"
"It's perfectly fine now. It's good now. The end result is good!" he raised the many jointed-thing and pointed to a quite small, quite battered, quite beige pot crowded by countless other pots.
Rory took a step closer. There must have been some kind of cooker under there, because the content of the pot bubbled merrily. Was it soup? Stew? Rory had no idea. It heavily resembled the prune mush he'd serve to the patients back home, but there was a pleasant smell fighting the vestiges of smoke. "So… what is it?"
The Doctor fidgeted. "It's a recipe from my home planet. Well, not really — it's hard to get hold of the right ingredients, very hard, so I improvised — like all great chefs — with things from the cupboards, from the garden. I am — used to be — quite an expert at making this meal, still am I think, because that looks good."
"Well, I'd — we'll — be honoured to try something from your home… planet." The last word sat awkwardly on his tongue; it always did, for some reason. "I'm sure it's a delicacy."
The Doctor placed the utensil carefully on top of a copper skillet and fidgeted some more, seemingly not quite sure what to do with his hands. "It's quite mild, a good introduction to alien cuisine and… it's about the only recipe I can remember. In short, it's baby food."
"We don't need to tell Amy that."
"We don't need to shout it either." The Doctor suddenly pinned him with a glare. "If you don't want to eat it, I'm not going to force you."
"No… I want to, it smells nice. How come you can make-" Something tickled the back of Rory's neck and he jumped. "Pleasetell me that was a breeze and not a ghost?"
"The vents are sucking out the smo-" The Doctor stopped mid-word and regarded Rory. "Why are you here? Did you want something?"
Rory willed his heart to stop racing, and cleared his throat. "Amy said you're cooking for us — me and her."
The Doctor indicated the kitchen as if to say, Well, obviously.
"You should talk, you and Amy." The Doctor laced his fingers together. (It was quite annoying when he did it, Rory decided.) "Talk… about things."
"This morning Amy said she wanted to talk to you."
"She did?" She certainly didn't make much of an effort at lunch, Rory thought, and then he'd been holed up in the library all afternoon, alone, and it wasn't like she didn't know where to find him…
"She asked if you were up."
"That's — that's not the same thing as saying she wants to talk…"
The Doctor stared at him. "Of course it is. I know these things."
"Right…" said Rory, a bit confused. Amy didn't want to talk — she never wanted to talk — but she'd seemed excited enough about their dinner date. Or was it the Doctor's cooking she was excited about?
"You can set the table!" shouted the Doctor suddenly. "I'm not doing all the work." He flung
a cupboard door open. "Lend me your hands!"
Rory dutifully held his arms out and stood perfectly still as the Doctor placed a pair of beautifully decorated deep porcelain plates in his left hand and forced two brittle red champagne flutes in between the fingers of his right.
"Something's missing, am I right?"
The Doctor stared at him.
"Uh," said Rory, realising that was perhaps not the utensil one would use. "Forks? Knives?"
The Doctor whirled around abruptly and rummaged in a drawer.
Rory was suddenly worried they might end up eating with Venusian cutlery or something otherwise terrifying. "Or, like, a spork, if you have one?" he asked, trying not to sound concerned or in pain. It was really very uncomfortable holding the glasses, and he was certain Amy must be ready soon and was perhaps on her way here and she would find him holding things and the Doctor looking for sporks and alien baby food on the cooker…
"These all right?" The Doctor plunked down a fork, a knife and a spoon into each of the glasses.
They were extremely rustic and probably real silver and very heavy — Rory's poor fingers ached — but at least they were normal. "Fine. Great… I'll go now." He faltered, trying not to grimace in pain. "Where am I going?"
The Doctor had (incredibly swiftly) turned his full attention to the pot. "Last time I checked the small dining room was seventeen doors to the right, behind the left screen." He leaned forward, stared at the food, frowned; and buzzed the pot with his sonic screwdriver.
The question which initially had driven Rory to the kitchen suddenly popped into his mind again. He still hadn't had a proper answer. "But why?" he asked, a little bit too loudly. "Why are you cooking for us? Why do you care?"
The Doctor looked up, his hair falling into his eyes. He shook it away brusquely and met Rory's gaze.
An undeterminable amount of time later, Rory's grip on the glasses started to slip and he felt thoroughly scrutinised and really uncomfortable. The answer better be good.
"Why not?" the Doctor said finally, grinned slightly, and turned back to the food.
Why not? Of course. Of course he would answer that.
It was just something Rory would have to accept, like the swimming pool in the library and the utensil-sprouting and the fact that there was an entire room apparently dedicated to empty aquariums. He nodded absentmindedly, fumbled the door open with an elbow and a hip and stumbled out into the hallway, searching for the seventeenth door to the right.