They collapse back onto the bed together and Amy rolls onto her back, gasping for breath. She lets herself lie there for a minute or so, while the nerve endings all over her body slowly fade to a contented glow, and then she opens her eyes and glances over at the Doctor next to her. His eyes are closed and his breath is still coming in great heaves, and she smiles and props herself up on her elbow so that she can press one hand to the middle of his chest.
His eyes flicker open and he looks up at her. "Well," he breathes, taking in her smile. Her hair falls into his face and he pfffles it away with parted lips. Amy giggles. "What?"
"You know, when your hearts go this fast, it's like a…nonstop heartbeat," she replies, feeling the bare skin of his chest rising and falling beneath her outstretched fingertips. "It's weird."
"It's cool. Time Lords are cool." He reaches up and puts a hand over hers, playing with her fingers.
Amy watches him. His ears and the back of his neck are flushed and there is a bead of sweat balanced on his left eyebrow. His eyes are bright. The smile on her lips widens. There isn't anything, she thinks, that she wouldn't do for this man.
He brings her hand up towards his mouth to kiss it, and then stops. "Oh, Pond. Really?" he frowns.
He props himself up, holding her hand in front of his face and scrutinizing it. "We need to get you better nail polish."
"I…what! There's nothing wrong with my nail polish!" Amy sputters.
"It's lavender," he says, meeting her incredulous gaze, as though that explains everything.
"Lavender looks good on me!"
With a chuckle, the Doctor sits up and clambers out of her bed. "Amy, you have very excellent hands, I am a great admirer of your hands, your hands are lovely, but," he gets down out of sight and then surfaces holding his trousers, "lavender nail polish does not do them justice." A puzzled look crosses his face. "How did these end up under the bed?"
She blushes. "Remember, with the…"
"Oh. Oh yeah." His eyes widen.
"So what, you want to take me nail polish shopping?" she asks disbelievingly as the Doctor gets dressed. "What is there, some sort of…intergalactic mall planet, or something?"
The Doctor's head pops out of his shirt. "Yeah," he grins at her.
"Well, not a mall exactly," he amends, dropping to the floor to hunt for his bowtie, "but it's the place to be. We've been there before, actually. Sort of."
Okay, she admits, she's a little excited. She moves to sit on the edge of the bed and dangles her feet casually. "Please don't say that one place with the chewing spider-crabs."
"Olgaber?" he yelps from somewhere behind her on the other side of the bed. "No. No, no no. Never again."
He moves back into her line of sight, bowtie donned and braces hanging loosely over his shoulder, and stops for a moment, looking at her softly.
"Oh—shut up," Amy stammers, blushing again. She is, she realizes, very naked.
"You really are," he begins, moving forward…
"…the most magnificent creature…"
"…I have ever seen," he finishes, bending over the bed to kiss her deeply. She stands up without breaking the kiss and wraps her arms around his neck for a minute or two until he pulls back.
"And you have terrible taste in nail polish." He taps the tip of her nose. "Come on, put some clothes on. We're going to Starship UK."
Starship UK isn't really Starship UK anymore, the Doctor explains as they step out of the TARDIS doors into surprisingly bright sunlight and a crisp autumny air. It's New Earth. The first of many, but this one's proper New Earth. Buildings, transportation, actual streets! All those years searching the stars for a new home, and they finally found one. It's messy and brand new and still very uncolonized, but it's a start. It's a spectacular start.
"What happened to the Star Whale?" asks Amy, trotting along after him as he monologues.
"Flew away somewhere, with all the wreckage on its back. Probably to go die somewhere. No, no, not like that. It was very old, you know. Starship UK was probably its last act of kindness."
"I hope they thanked it," Amy murmurs.
"Thanked it!" The Doctor grabs her by the shoulders and steers her down a paved road that leads to something like a town square. "Look at this."
They stop in the center of the square and Amy has to shield her eyes. Three sheets of light seem to hang in the air before them, suspended above a stone plinth and surrounded by a thin wire barrier. They are at least ten feet tall and they fill the air with a gentle warmth like the glowing of a lamp.
"The middle one's for the Star Whale," the Doctor explains, moving to stand next to her. "On the left is for the people of Starship UK, for their bravery and perseverence. And on the right is for Liz 10." He chuckles. "What a girl. They didn't let her abdicate, you know. Begged her to stay on the throne. She ruled for another two hundred years until she finally found them a planet to settle on, and then she had them turn off her body clock for good."
"She just chose to die." Amy's voice feels strange in her throat.
The Doctor glances down at her. "Well, it was a long old reign," he says gently. "And her life was over. Five hundred years, Pond. That's a very long time."
Amy nods wordlessly and loops an arm through the Doctor's. She feels like if she doesn't grab hold of him, he might drift away.
"Anyway," he continues, leading her around the monument, "these are just big stone monoliths, painted with this chemical compound they discovered on this planet, and it turns out to be good for lots of things. Streetlights, headlights, shop signs…"
"Nail polish, perhaps?" Amy grins.
The Doctor jostles her fondly. "The polishiest of polishes."
There's an actual nail salon, which flummoxes Amy because really, of all the things to set up when you're a struggling new nation barely a decade old, you spend money and resources on a nail salon? Not that she's complaining. It's actually quite nice, with a quaint, old-fashioned feel to it. She sinks back in the cushiony chair and watches the Doctor enthusiastically rummaging amongst multicolored bottles on the shelves.
"You're such a girl," she chides, and he snorts.
"Do you know, Amy, that in the fifty-third century it's entirely normal for men to have their nails painted?"
"Am not." He emerges with an orange bottle. "Maybe I'll have mine done."
"No," Amy declares.
"Try and stop me."
Amy arches an eyebrow and tells the Doctor exactly what will not happen to him anymore if he ever puts any unusual substance on his fingernails. His expression changes very quickly, and he puts the bottle down.
"Excuse me—" A young man walks in from a door in the back, wearing a peculiar grey jumpsuit and a plastic tag on his chest that reads PHIL. "We don't do walk-ins, you'll have to make an appointment."
"Oh, we have," replies the Doctor easily. "Excuse me." He ducks out of the shop.
Phil stands awkwardly and stares at the still-swinging door, lifting a finger as if to protest. Amy clears her throat. "It'll, ah, just be in the computer," she assures him.
"Right. Um…" Phil hesitates, and then types something into the wall. A screen comes up and blinks at him. "Oh. Uh…yeah. Yes, of course, you were scheduled in at noon today. I don't know how I missed that…"
"No worries, Phil," announces the Doctor, bounding back into the salon. Amy sees him hastily pocket the TARDIS key and wink at her, and she stifles a giggle. "Perfectly understandable, you've had a busy day. But don't worry! We won't be long, just want a quick nail job done."
Phil seems to relax, and he sets to work soaking Amy's fingers in hot water and then trimming her cuticles. Amy's had loads of manicures before and leans back in her chair now, enjoying the attention. The room smells, ironically, like lavender, one of her favorite fragrances. She breathes deep and closes her eyes.
"All right, now, you'll want to put on these," says Phil's voice by her head. Amy starts up and stares at what he's holding out. It's like a pair of sunglasses, but with one long, thick lens. She fits it awkwardly to her face, and Phil, to her alarm, puts on what she can only describe as a welder's mask.
What the hell? she mouths at the Doctor.
He just points at the orange nail polish bottle that Phil is unscrewing. As soon as the top comes off, Amy understands, because a blinding flame-colored light bursts out of the tiny bottle. Even with her sunglasses-y thing, it's a lot to take in. The Doctor himself goes, "Whew!" and turns away, shielding his eyes with his hand.
"It won't be this bright when it's dried," explains Phil, "especially because it'll be a very thin coat, you understand. I take it this is your first liquid sun treatment?"
"Uh, yeah," Amy manages.
"Well, then, I'll make sure to do an extra good job." He gives her a friendly smile before he gets started.
It takes about half an hour, and by the end of it Amy's eyes are tearing up from the exposure to the "liquid sun." At last the cap goes back on the bottle, and she breathes a little sigh of relief. Phil removes the shield from her eyes and takes off his welder's mask, and the Doctor turns around.
"Oh, brilliant!" he exclaims.
Amy has to agree. It's like her fingers have little flashlights at the ends, she thinks, twiddling them around in the air before her. Beams of bright orange light are shining from the paint Phil applied meticulously to her nails. It makes her think of that scene at the end of Beauty and the Beast, where the prince turns back into a human and his hands and feet sort of explode with sunlight. She always thought that part was weird when she was a kid, but this is fantastic.
"It matches your hair!" cries the Doctor gleefully, grabbing one of her hands, careful not to smudge the still-wet polish. "Oh, Pond, this is much better than lavender."
"I'll have to wear gloves when I'm sleeping," she muses, lifting her left hand to blow on the paint and squinting her eyes at having it so close.
"You could be like a living nightlight!"
She bursts out laughing. "You're weird."
The Doctor digs into his pocket and somehow finds the right currency to pay their bill, along with a generous tip and a blue rubber bouncy ball. "Hours of fun," he promises the bewildered Phil. "Seriously." He helps Amy out of the salon chair and they say thank you at the same time and make their way back outside, into the fresh air and the mid-afternoon sun. Amy's shining fingers cast strange shadows on the pavement as they walk leisurely back to the TARDIS.
"You know, you're lucky that, you know, I love you and all that," she remarks haughtily, elbowing him. "I've never let anyone tell me how to paint my nails or do my hair or anything before. My aunt tried to tell me what shoes to wear once. And only once."
"Aw, well, you'd do anything for me," smiles the Doctor.
They're walking past the memorial to the Star Whale and Liz 10, and Amy stops suddenly. "Yeah, I would," she hears herself saying.
The Doctor continues for a few steps before realizing she's stopped, and then he turns and looks at her expectantly. "Yes?"
"I would do anything for you." She's looking at Liz 10's monument, at the solid block of white light floating in mid-air. Five hundred years, Pond. That's a very long time.
The Doctor follows her eyes and doesn't say anything. Amy's mind is awash with words, human and Time Lord and they slowed my body clock and centuries. She breaks her gaze away and starts walking again before the Doctor can guess what she's thinking.
"How long will this stuff last?" she asks, holding up a hand to change the subject.
"On a piece of stone, hundreds of years," replies the Doctor, giving her a strange look but following her. "On a human hand, a few days. Something about the chemical makeup of your skin. Eats away at it."
"And then it's back to lavender." She smirks as they approach the TARDIS. "Typical. I get a few days of glory and then—" She waves her hand dismissively in the air.
"Well." The Doctor pulls something out of his jacket. "I may have cheated."
Amy squeals in delight. He's holding a tiny orange bottle.
"Phil won't miss it," he says confidently as Amy grabs it and stuffs it into her pocket, flame-colored light bouncing everywhere. The Doctor laughs and pushes the TARDIS door open.
Amy steals one more glance down the street in the direction of the memorial. If the Doctor can cheat, she thinks, then so can she. Now's not the time to bring it up—she'll have to catch him on a day when he's particularly pliable—but someday soon. She watches him saunter into his time machine, whistling and humming like the great crazy contraption he is, and she thinks, I'm not leaving him. Oh, we're gonna have a long old reign.
"Coming?" he calls from the console.
She steps inside and closes the door behind her. The TARDIS is bathed in orange light.