"What did he do to you?"
Amy Pond found herself staring at the crimson red comforter of her and her husband's new king-size bed, created by the TARDIS after some pleas from the couple to negate bunk beds on the next round of interior decorating. She snapped from her trance at the sound of his voice.
Rory Pond – Williams prior to their marriage – looked back at her, donning a t-shirt and boxer shorts that very much spoke of his intent to sleep. After the day they had, he could hardly be blamed for wanting some shut-eye. He was fiddling with the last part of his before-bed ritual, namely taking off his watch, hesitating on his ring when he spoke the words.
"Yeah, you know, the one who caused us to run a marathon."
"Um – nothing." Amy cleared her throat, hoping it would drive away the awkwardness, but judging by the sigh and the slump from Rory, it clearly did not. He turned on his heel to stare straight at her, eyebrows raised in an attempt to coax the words out of her.
He knew it wouldn't be easy. Amy was by no means a damsel in distress. She was resourceful and knew well of her appearance, also keeping up an external shell of pride and confidence. And unlike most girls, the ones who said they were strong but secretly cracked, she didn't. She could hold up her strength no matter the situation.
Rather than a secret layer, it was more like secret pockets that affected her. It was when something played to her fear of abandonment that her whole self crumbled away.
It was odd to have more than one life running in your head. For Amy, two, for Rory, three. One of regularity and one of the world after the Cracks for her, and a third of Roman life for him. So while in one life, little Amelia was used to being alone because her parents were gone and her aunt tended to not give much thought to the girl, there was another that, well, was normal. But it was all so confused, so muddled, so strange that it was hard to keep the thoughts and feelings separate.
People often said that Rory was lucky to have her. The bumbling nurse, intelligent but nervous, was never quite a hot commodity amongst the ladies. Yeah, he was called cute, but he lacked the consistent confidence most girls wanted in a man. The problem, he had acknowledged from an early start, was that in the outlines of traditional gender roles, he…played more the part of the female. He fought it but accepted it at the same time, because if movies taught him anything, it was that girls liked the shy ones.
It was rather disappointing how that didn't really work out in real life.
"I'm lucky to have you," Amy whispered hoarsely, saying the words to his eyes but having to stare down at the comforter. "I – I don't say that enough."
Rory clicked his tongue sympathetically, hoisting himself up to the bed. "You don't have to," he said in a way that seemed more like a parent talking to their child. "I'm – I'm lucky to have you."
"No, no, it's – I wish everyone would stop saying that," she mumbled out, clenching the red fabric between her fingers. "When people say that, I – I feel like a horrible person, like I'm better than you, and I'm not, okay?"
"Well, you have the looks…"
"But you have the smarts."
Rory sighed, rolling his head back. "Oh come on, you're not dumb."
"And you're not ugly, okay?"
He brushed a knuckle against his nose but said nothing relating to it. "Okay, fine, but – I am lucky to have you, and it's not because of what other people think, but it's because of what I think."
Amy looked up, her eyes wet with tears that hadn't fallen. Her expression was sullen but had that little spark that he had seen for the past few years. It was that little glimmer that said You and I are on the same wavelength right now and it's amazing.
"Nobody noticed me before you."
"Everyone thought I was a jerk before you."
He hesitated. "Well…I did, kinda, for a little bit, when I first met you –"
"- Well yeah, I was all moody and annoyed from moving and told you to get lost –"
"Oh, it was stronger than that."
"Yeah, I know, Mum had Dad give me a thrashing."
Rory chuckled, fingering the crimson that sat beneath him before letting out a whistle of air from his nose. "It's okay."
"No! No – no, no, it's not okay, and I'm tired of being let off the hook!" Amy leaned forward and knocked her head into his, forcing him to slowly look up, their foreheads still in contact. He at first appeared dubious but then shook his head, adjusting his neck to give her a quick kiss.
"You don't have to –"
"I love you," she blurted out on a hurried breath. He stopped, raising an eyebrow.
Amy looked away, uneasy. "It's just – I never tell that to you enough."
"You don't have to."
"Will you stop¸ yes I do –"
"Nono, I don't mean you, I don't mean Amy, I mean you¸ a person –"
"Isn't that the same?"
"- the person who is my best friend, the one I married."
She shot her gaze at him again, knocking the breath from his lungs. It was her "don't mess with me" gaze, the one seen when there was one muffin left, when the lady at the corner market said something was more expensive than marked, and when the Doctor insisted everything was perfectly normal.
"I…didn't just ask you because I thought it would an okay thing to try," he deadpanned. "If I wasn't sure of you, there'd be no point in tormenting myself."
Finally, she smiled her small, soft little Amy smile, the tiny perk in her lips that denoted everything was okay. "'cause you know what I mean every time I poke fun at you."
"You know that when I call you stupid or mock you for something you don't know or tease you for being afraid, it's just me doing what I do."
She grinned at that. "And you know that me calling you stupidface –"
"It means 'I love you, Rory, you beautiful stud you'."
Amy giggled, poking his cheek. "I'm not sure if that's what it means every time, but I'll allow it."
"So long as you let me worry."
"And fuss over danger."
"That's your job."
"And insist that what we're doing is crazy and insane and we could all die, especially me, and that the best way out of danger is to just leave, and –"
"Yes yes, all that, it's what you do. I know."
"You didn't let me finish." Rory held up his finger to quiet her, waiting a moment before placing it over her lips. "And that whenever I say we should 'get out of here', or try and protect you, or when my limbs actually cooperate and move –"
She nudged back to speak. "It's your way of saying 'Amy, I don't mean to be a drag or anything, but I love you too much to risk us having a short marriage, and oh, by the way, you're really beautiful even when covered in fish guts'."'
"…Uh, yeah, pretty much."
Amy allowed herself a real smile this time, wrapping her arms around his neck as Rory sighed his tired but content sigh, setting his hands around her waist and feeling it right to initiate the patented Ponds Hug – the tight squeeze, the ruffling of hair, the burying of faces into each other's neck. It was a simple comfort.
"Rory," Amy whispered, "Have I ever told you how much you ruined other boys for me?"
He couldn't help but jerk his head up, eyebrows cocked, staring at her. "I did what?"
She closed her eyes, smiling. "Most blokes…they want to be the ones in charge, the ones who call the shots, the ones who do the adventuring and the protecting, they want to do it all, but – you know how to share."
"Share?" Again with the confusion. "But I – I don't do that stuff, I'm the one who doesn't have the urge to do that stuff – I mean, I thought you were more the one –"
"We ran away after our wedding, didn't we?"
We. A collective. Not one following the other. A joint effort.
"...Yeah. We sure did."