Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.


Amy slides down further in her seat, settling her head against the curved back, wincing every time a hair gets caught on the intricate etching that apparently had tocover the whole thing. She traces the complex spiral armrests with a couple of fingertips. The armrests are plastic, just like the rest of the chair, the table, the glasses, and even the freaky lantern suspended in midair.

They're granted a 'place in solitude' on the open veranda in front of some sort of castle, because the Doctor had once saved this world and apparently allowing them to witness its sunset aloneis the greatest gesture of gratitude the natives can muster. There's a flat stretch of land (really it's the hard plastic surface that's replaced wood and pavement and stone and grass on this world) in front of them. Their backs are to one of the great walls of the castle. The city and the teeming life are on the other side of the building, an indefinable distance behind them. The sky heaves above them, vast and empty. They are in solitude, for sure.

She nudges the table with a knee; the liquid in her glass wobbles sluggishly. Amy yawns.

The sky is dark – the sun was apparently hidden behind thick clouds about ninety-nine percent of the time and since it was more or less always dark, the night was just a little bit darker than the day. It's easily the most tedious sunset she's ever seen.

Freakish green lights are everywhere to battle the darkness; the one in the lantern glows incessantly, and the (plastic) castle wall rising behind them is literally covered in them. Amy feels a bit sick surrounded by green hues of all sorts, or maybe that's because of the gelatinous drink.

The Doctor has pulled his chair slightly away from the table, from the lantern (and from her), and stares up at the sky as if to catch some imaginary sunlight. His head and shoulders are above the back of the chair – of course he would sit properly for this mind-numbing event, Amy thinks – and the green light barely reaches him.

Amy slips a foot out of her trainer, stretches her leg and pokes the Doctor's shoulder repeatedly with a toe. She can just barely reach him, and it is so very satisfying.

"Don't do that," he says, turning his head a tiny fraction to glance at her toe. "I thought you were a sandeebug."

"And they have toes for fingers?"

"That's what it feels like when they land."

Amy withdraws her leg and sits up a little straighter, ignoring the tug at her scalp. "Do they live here? Can we go find them?"

"No! No. That's…" The Doctor half-turns in his seat; a faint strip of light splays across his face. His eyes glitter, reflecting the lighting in an infuriatingly endearing way. There's the sharp line of his nose, a suggestion of cheekbone; that's all she can make out. "That's a very bad idea."

Amy slumps again, resting her elbows on her knees and her chin in her palms. She'd enjoyed herself at first, honest, and then… she'd stopped. They're on a wonderful planet in another time and she's experiencing things no human has ever experienced and it feels like some sort of blasphemy to even acknowledge the feeling (and naturally she has to voice it just because). "I'm bored."

"Have I spoiled you?" the Doctor asks ruefully, but Amy can discern a miniscule upward motion of the corner of his mouth. "'All of time and space' encompasses more than running about. Sometimes you just have to sit still and enjoy a sunset."

"I don't think it can be called a sunset if all the sky does is change from one shade to another."

"Then you're not looking hard enough."

When they first sat down, the sky had been a deep grey oily rich thing; now it's slid over into inky blackness, something great and vast and bottomless, something that seems to enrich and suck at her soul at the same time.

"I don't want to look."

"Still… Isn't my delightful company enough to keep you enthralled?"

Amy stands up. "If you're sitting silently in the shadows, your hardly company."

He merely looks at her.

"I'll amuse myself, Doctor. Maybe I'll look for those sandeebugs. They can't be that bad."

"Amelia Pond…" he begins in a vaguely threatening way.

She smiles challengingly. "Here I go, wandering off…" She turns and walks away, her steps slamming against the plastic ground; the faint lights affixed to the slick dark wall guiding her away from the Doctor. (Up close, those lights look more than a little like giant fireflies nailed down, and she fights back another pang of nausea.) The porch stretches all along a wall, but luckily they were seated near a corner; she rounds it, and when she's taken two steps along the next wall she stops and presses her back to it. To her left-hand side, across an empty plastic courtyard bathing in green light, she sees the great door they entered through. The whole building seems to be something of a maze, and as much as Amy would like to explore the doorway in the wall across from her, she thinks she probably shouldn't.

"Amy! If you must be like this…" The Doctor's voice floats over, still rueful, still vaguely threatening, but a bit resigned, too. Amy hopes he's in the right sort of mood…

Something rustles; she wonders if he rose or just shifted. She strains her ears, listening for footsteps.

There's nothing.

Well, then, Amy thinks, if he was going to be such a boring grumpy alien, then she wasleaving on her own. She'd just pass through the great door and then she would be swallowed up by the city, by the indifferent natives.

Then there's a tiny sound, something close, something that sounds almost like a… chuckle. Frowning, she tiptoes back to the corner again, curls her fingers around it – it's not at all as sharp as she's expected – for support. Then she peers around it – and comes nose to nose with the Doctor.

"I thought you'd wandered off," he said.

"How did you get here so quietly?" she hisses.

He makes a noncommittal grimace as best he can. He's pressing his cheek against the plastic wall and he's very close and Amy goes cross-eyed just trying to look straight at him in the half-light. She pulls back instead, places her own cheek against her wall.

"This is… not boring?" the Doctor asks in a low uncertain voice, which somehow is both floating disembodied on the air and reverberating through the wall.

"Less boring," Amy concedes.

She stares straight ahead, just past the point where she thinks the tip of the Doctor's nose is, on the other side of the corner… She's staring out into the night, into the darkness, staring at the sky… She's watching the damned sunset again.

"I'm watching the damned sunset again," she says.

"Good," says the Doctor, sounding satisfied. "I like it when you take my advice."

"You are actually tricking me into watching it?" She pushes off the wall, rounds the corner in a couple of strides and folds her arms. She's not sure if she should emphasise the flicker of annoyance she feels like a tightening in her chest, or the amusement that bubbles in her gut.

The Doctor looks rueful and a bit pouty; his back is pressed against the wall and his eyes are fastened on her face. Then he shifts, just a bit, and then green light above him is somehow casting a multitude of shadows across his face and the lines it brings out makes Amy catch her breath. "Come on," she says, quickly deciding on amusement, "You can make it up to me by showing me the sandeebugs."

The Doctor takes a step forward and looks normal, usual, again. "I'm sure I thought there was something special about the sunset the last time I was here. I can't really remember –" He trails off and looks at her, really looks at her. "You know, it doesn't really matter. Let's go to the Marvellous Spectacular Amazing Circus," he says, and he looks more and more excited with each word. "And yes, that is its name."

"That you remember? Where is this circus, then?"

"Other part of town."

"You couldn't find the other part of town last time you tried."

"I didn't want to find it then."

"Oh, really? 'Cause you seemed kind of frustrated when you couldn't."

"It's right over there." He gestures vaguely to the left. Then he turns abruptly and heads off, rounding the corner and cutting across the vast courtyard, where shadows of an impressive length crisscross between pools of greenish light. "Come on, Pond! Shrug of your boredom and move forward!"

Then suddenly he's jogging and Amy has to sprint to catch up with him and when she does she pulls at his old man's jacket and he bats her hands away and they laugh and it echoes among the plastic walls.

Behind them the clouds part and the last blazing sliver of sun is visible, and in the microsecond before it disappears beneath the horizon, everything it touches is ablaze. The sky burns for just a moment, but it doesn't really matter.