Title: Just Rory
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters/Pairing: Rory, Amy, Eleven and the Tardis
Word Count: ~5100
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Doctor Who do not belong to me. I make no money from this story. Please don't sue.
Warnings: Spoilers through "The Doctor's Wife."
Author's Notes: Written for ariadnesstring's Running Hot fever fic meme and for the hc_bingo prompt "fever/delerium." As far as timeline goes, there are definite references to "The Doctor's Wife" here, but it probably fits best before "The Almost People." Small window, I know; but that's when the story was begun here in real time. :) I'm not sure how the flu might factor in to Amy's condition though, so perhaps it could be taken as AU. Whatever the case, I hope it is enjoyable.
Prompt: Two of the three end up very sick with some *handwavey* alien flu, and the third has to take care of them. I'd prefer the Doctor be one of the ones who's ill, rather than the caregiver. Perhaps Rory gets the chance to show off his nursing skills, or perhaps Amy has to take care of her boys! Bonus for platonic (unless it's Amy and Rory) bedsharing and snuggles.
Summary: Wherein Rory is a perfectly competent nurse and the Doctor makes a lousy patient.
Amy is really the reason he ever became a nurse in the first place. There are overarching factors of course, things like compassion and a near-compulsive need to take care of people. But at the heart of it is Amy—well, Amelia, really—the best friend who didn't have a mummy or daddy to care for her when she was hurt or ill. It wasn't as if she was all alone, but Rory had always thought of her as his to protect and care for. He was the only one she would allow to do it…and that was on a good day. Amy wasn't exactly the dependent sort.
Eventually best friend turned into lover which (finally) turned into wife. And now somehow Nurse Rory spends his days in a spaceship-slash-time machine with the love of his life and a crazy man who is decidedly not the sort of doctor he expected to associate with.
And, as it turns out, nursing is truly a universal profession.
"What is that?" he demands as Amy takes two pills the Doctor hands her and swallows them without question.
"Just a fever reducer. Simple acetaminophen."
"How is it that a human can even contract an…" Rory pauses, trying to imitate the Doctor's handwavey motion and very nearly poking himself in the eye, "alien flu?"
"Hmm?" The Doctor is distracted, now waving his sonic screwdriver in Amy's general direction. "Oh, nothing to worry about, happens all the time. You lot are so fragile. No matter, she should be just fine in a few days. Just needs some rest."
Amy blinks at him blearily before launching into another couching fit. Rory moves closer protectively, insinuating himself between them. "Is that your medical opinion, Doctor?" he asks a bit peevishly as he rubs Amy's back.
"Sure, if you like. You should take her to bed. No shenanigans though, it is contagious."
Rory grits his teeth. "I think I can handle the nursing."
"Right. I'll leave you to it then, shall I?" He tucks the screwdriver away to wherever it is that he keeps it and turns away with a bit of a flourish, leaving them alone in the infirmary.
Amy sniffles, her voice almost unrecognizable for the congestion when she speaks. "Is it me, or is he even more manic than normal?"
"What passes for normal with him?" he tries to joke, though there was something in the Doctor's demeanor that's made him uneasy. He reaches to help her down from the exam table. She lists heavily into him and he can feel the heat radiating from her. "Come on; let's get you lying down."
"Shenanigans?" she asks with an attempt at a suggestive smirk. The result is rather pathetic.
He pats the hand he has pulled over his shoulder. "Not tonight dear, you have a headache."
"Hmm." She doesn't bother trying to argue, just lays her head against his shoulder and lets him practically carry her off to bed.
He gets her settled, hydrated and tucked in with a conveniently located tissue box and waste basket. She alternately clings to him and snaps at him, pretty typical sick Amy. He soothes her as best he can until she eventually falls into a restless sleep.
She snores on a normal day. When congested, she sounds a bit like a freight train. Still, he wants to stay, wants to be with her and monitor her and care for her every second. He's actually very annoyed with the nagging sense of something that makes him slip out of the room and go in search of the Doctor instead.
He finds him next to the Tardis console tinkering with something, of course; it's rare to find him anywhere else. He stands watching, observing for a long moment before he's noticed.
"Rory! Didn't expect to see you until the convalescence was over."
"Amy's alright. She's resting. And she's going to be fine, yes?"
"Right as rain," the Doctor responds cheerily. "Never really understood that expression. What's so right about rain?"
"Is there something you aren't telling me?" Rory interrupts abruptly.
The Doctor blinks. "Of course not."
"Really," he says, and it's not so much a question as a statement of disbelief.
"If it makes you feel better, sure," the Time Lord says dismissively.
"It would make me feel better if you were honest with me."
The Doctor mumbles not-quite-softly enough, "Oh, I doubt that very much." Then, louder, "Rory, Rory. The wealth of what I know but do not tell you would overload your precious little brain."
Rory rolls his eyes heavenward. "And now my brain is little."
"And precious. You always miss the important bit."
"No, actually, I'm fairly certain I don't. Not always, and certainly not now." Rory narrows his eyes, studying carefully and cataloguing details, coming to a conclusion he's sure to regret. "You're sick too," he accuses.
The Doctor sounds genuinely offended. "No, I'm not. Time Lord immune system over here; I don't get sick."
"And yet your movements are sluggish and a bit uncertain—you're dizzy, I'd wager—and you are shivering in a warm room." Without warning, Rory steps closer and presses a hand to the Doctor's forehead.
The Doctor yelps and grabs the offending wrist. "Your hands are icy. Amy lets you touch her with those?"
Rory doesn't take the bait. "My hands are not the problem; it's your head. You're feverish."
"Stop saying that. I am a nurse, remember? I think I know when someone is ill."
"You are a human nurse." He sidles further away as he speaks, as if Rory won't notice him trying to escape. "You've never had a Time Lord patient."
Rory closes the distance. "First time for everything."
"Not for this, because I am fine." And with that he promptly turns, trips over nothing and starts to fall.
Rory lunges for him. Both of them wind up on their knees, but at least he manages to keep the Doctor upright. "Yes, that's obvious," he mutters. The Doctor pushes at his hands, trying to get up. "Will you stop it?"
"I have to get us going. Places to go; people and various other creatures to save."
"No, absolutely not. You can barely drive on a good day."
"Rory! I resent that. I'd like to see you do better. No, never mind, she'd probably behave for you."
Rory glances up at the console. He's still trying to wrap his mind around the idea of the sentient ship, even after conversing with her (it?) in human form. He's also still dealing with the death of that form, the life lost in his arms and yet somehow still alive in the metal and workings around him. It all makes him a bit uncomfortable. "But she doesn't know me that well."
"Exactly. She knows me too well," the Doctor confides in a stage whisper. "Thinks she knows better."
Rory doesn't know how to respond to that. He settles for hoisting the Doctor up, twisting one arm around his own shoulders. He is determined to get him lying down. He can feel heat radiating from him as well, possibly even more so than Amy.
The Doctor mumbles something that sounds like, "Stronger than you look."
Rory shifts him to get a better grip around his waist. "I get that a lot." He starts purposefully towards the staircase before he realizes a slight problem. "Erm…right. You're going to need to tell me where your room is now."
"No, no. Need to get going."
"We covered that, remember? The only place you're going is bed."
"That was the worst line I've ever heard. And I've had a Raxacoricofallapatorian try to pick me up."
"That wasn't—" Rory huffs, frustrated. "Happily married, remember? Not everyone fancies you."
"Oh." The Doctor squints at him in a way that makes Rory think he's lost track of who he's talking to.
"Just tell me which way to your room."
"No. Don't want to."
It's like dealing with a five-year-old. And much as Rory would like children one day, he'd rather they be smaller and younger and his. But he allows only a small sigh past his lips as he puzzles over what to do. Just as he's about to decide that he'll have to make do with the only bed he knows about—his and Amy's—the general lighting in the control room dims a bit, lights on the stairs brightening like a beacon.
Rory blinks and looks to the Doctor, who is muttering in what is probably an alien language and seems not to have noticed. He glances around uneasily, then mentally shrugs and follows the path being laid out for him.
He starts to have doubt when the clearly directive lighting leads him towards his own room. But just as he's thinking that he really could have found this on his own, thanks, the rest of the hallway goes dim and the door just before his lights up like a Christmas tree.
"Your room is right next to ours?" he asks indignantly, a bit of panic creeping into his voice as he wonders exactly how thick these walls are.
"Wasn't last night," is the Doctor's petulant response, as if this is Rory's fault. "And I was rather fond of it where it was."
"Oh. Well…it's good that it's here now. Makes it easier to care for both of you." Rory reaches for the door handle, but the door pops open for him before he can touch it. He tries to pretend that isn't strange as he moves them forward into the room. He's not sure what he was expecting, but the room definitely feels right for the Doctor. As he's taking in the décor, including overstuffed bookshelves and at least a few strange-looking devices he's not sure he wants to know the function of, the Doctor pulls from his grasp and starts across the room.
"I care for myself. Have for quite some time," he announces grandly. And then he promptly falls over again, this time too far for Rory to prevent his painful-sounding connection with the floor.
"And you do it so well," Rory mumbles sarcastically, but he can't help but remember the Doctor falling in another time and place, on a beach; too far from Rory, Amy and River. He hurries to his side and hauls him upright once more, this time depositing him neatly on the unmade bed.
The Doctor squints at the ceiling. "Are there pterodactyls in here?"
And Rory actually follows his gaze to check, because you never know when it comes to the Doctor. "No, no pterodactyls. You're safe."
"Pity," the Doctor murmurs as Rory looks him over, contemplating his options. "Pterodactyls are cool."
"Of course they are," Rory humors, distracted. He decides to go for the shoes first. He meets no resistance so he moves on, carefully stripping off excess clothing like the belt and jacket whilst the Doctor continues a monologue about dinosaurs and how humans have such ridiculous names for things they've never even met. The Doctor doesn't even seem to notice his actions until he reaches for the bow tie. Then he suddenly has an iron grip around Rory's wrists, squeezing to a near-painful point. Rory summons his stern voice. "Doctor, let go."
"I like the bow tie."
"I'm not stealing it. I'm trying to make you more comfortable."
"I'm only comfortable in the bow tie."
Rory huffs. 'Choose your battles,' he reminds himself. "Fine. But when you start coughing and having trouble breathing, it comes off."
The Doctor releases him, flapping his hand in Rory's general direction. "Whatever you say, Mr. Pond."
Rory grits his teeth and wonders if it's too late to drop the Doctor off at some sort of space hospital.
Though Rory's certain the Doctor's spiel about his immunity was mostly about keeping independence, he was right about one thing. Rory knows very little about the medical peculiarities of Time Lords. Physically his body seems to be very similar to a human's, but Rory knows he has two hearts. He's not certain what else might be different underneath the skin.
So when he returns to the infirmary to raid the cabinets for more pills for Amy, he's not even sure what to look for for his other patient. Will acetaminophen have the same effects on a Time Lord?
One thing is for certain—the infirmary is plentifully stocked. Some of what he recognizes is well-past expiration dates, but he realizes as he's making a rubbish pile of the bad ones that they might not have actually been here that long. The Doctor could have picked them up last week, for all he knows. And at least half the medications are labeled with either terms he's never heard of or languages he doesn't understand.
He gives up eventually, standing in the middle of the room clutching a thermometer and the acetaminophen bottle for Amy and looking around helplessly. He clears his throat a few times before he summons the will to address the walls around him. "Um…I could use some help, if there's any way you could…" he trails off, feeling ridiculous. He doesn't know how to talk to a ship.
Then there is a noise, a groaning sort of sound, only happier in some indefinable way. The odd thought that he really should have watched more sci-fi as a child flickers through his brain—not for the first time. There is then a clattering behind him and he turns to find a trey on the counter with a single small pill at its center.
"Thanks?" he offers uncertainly, and then grabs it and makes his way back to his patients.
Amy is tangled in the sheets. He wakes her and tenderly sorts her out before handing her a glass of water and her next dose of medicine. She seizes his hand, curling up around it like a security blanket, so he stays until she's well-asleep and he can gently extricate himself to head next door.
The Doctor is not tangled in his own sheets; in fact, he's somehow made his way to a bookshelf and is lying on the floor beside it holding a book up in the air and squinting at it, perplexed. "Doctor," Rory scolds. "You need rest, not reading. Bed, now."
"The words are fuzzy."
"Yes, that's probably because you are quite ill and running a rather high fever." Rory stands there for a moment, very nearly tapping his foot. "I really must insist you get back to bed."
The Doctor closes the book with a resounding plop and lays it aside. He angles his head towards the bed. "But it's so far."
Rory tries not to roll his eyes. Lucky for the Doctor, Rory has long since developed a patient nurse's attitude. "Come on, then. Up we go."
And it is true that he's stronger than he looks. That said, he's going to need some medication of his own for sore muscles if this keeps up. The Doctor is heavier than he looks.
When his patient is settled back where he belongs, Rory holds out the pill. "Here."
The Doctor squints at it suspiciously. "What is it?"
"I don't actually know. But your ship seems to think you need it."
"She's been talking to you?" He asks in disbelief, then turns his attention to some unidentifiable point on the ceiling. "He's not that pretty!"
The Doctor refocuses on him, an action which seems to take an undue amount of effort. "I'm not jealous."
"I didn't think you were," Rory sputters, but the Doctor's attention has already gone back to the ship.
"Your ceiling needs a new coat of paint," he declares loudly.
The lights flicker ominously.
Rory makes sure the Doctor swallows his pill. Then he hastens to go check on Amy, anxious to avoid getting caught between Time Lord and Tardis.
For the record, Amy is not a good patient. She's cranky and whiny and disinclined to stay still or give up her self-reliance. But when she truly feels bad she wants to be catered to and comforted, making his job a bit easier. When it comes down to it, she knows that he knows what's best for her.
The Doctor, on the other hand, is a terrible patient.
He does start coughing shortly, and Rory insists that the bow tie come off. The Doctor is surly and un-amenable to this plan, leading to a brief wrestling match that Rory really hadn't planned on participating in. The Doctor is surprisingly strong for someone who can't even walk in a straight line at the moment. But Rory is determined and he wins in the end, hiding the bow tie from the sulking Time Lord by sticking it in his and Amy's dresser drawer.
And he wanders. When the pills are apparently working and the fever recedes enough for him to stand under his own power, he tends to disappear from the room. Rory finds him in the hallway several times, the control room once, and in his and Amy's room once when he comes back from a trip to the kitchen. It isn't until after he finds him by the new swimming pool, teetering precariously close to the edge, that the door to the Doctor's room suddenly locks whenever Rory isn't present. This. of course, does not improve the Time Lord's grouchy mood.
When his fever's hovering in what would equate as the danger zone for an adult human, he does at least stay in bed. But he's far from quiet, mumbling quite a lot that Rory doesn't understand as he tosses and turns. It's not all delirious ramblings either; sometimes he stops to stare at Rory as if awaiting his input, huffing in annoyance when Rory just shrugs in helpless ignorance. He also calls Rory 'Martha' a few times, which is a bit disconcerting.
Then the fever soars higher still, hotter than a human could burn without threat of brain damage. But the Doctor seems mostly the same, the only significant change being that instead of 'Martha' Rory gets called 'Jack' more than once. He considers it a bit of an improvement actually; at least Jack is a male name.
But he can't help but grow curious as he sits by the Doctor's bedside, thinking of those names and the people attached to them. He knows he shouldn't take advantage, but he also knows he probably won't get a better chance.
"Doctor? Who is Jack?"
The Doctor grunts. "Captain Jack. Only not a Captain. And probably not even a Jack." He giggles, actually giggles, apparently amused by his own cleverness. Rory is just confused. The giggles soon fade and the Doctor grows almost morosely serious. "Special one, Jack. Special and wrong…so wrong."
He clams up then. It appears that's all Rory will be getting about the mysterious Captain Jack. He moves on. "How about Martha? Who's she?"
"Ah, Martha Jones. Strong, that one. And smart." He pauses, and then adds, "She chose."
"Chose to come?" Rory ventures.
"Chose to go. Good for her."
"They don't usually choose?"
"No. Sometimes the universe chooses." There is a long pause. Then, quieter, "But mostly me."
There's a stretch of silence then, uncomfortable, and Rory wishes he'd never pushed. Then the Doctor starts babbling softly in another language, never once looking at Rory as he does so.
And Rory knows that the Tardis usually translates for them. He doesn't really understand how it works, like so many other things he doesn't understand, but he appreciates it. He wonders why it isn't working now, why the only words he catches are 'Donna,' 'Sarah Jane,' and something about a rose.
Then, abruptly, it is English again. Or English to him, at least. "Then there was Amelia. But Amelia grew into Amy. You all grow. Up and away." There's a melancholic tone to his voice now, an unfathomable depth of sadness evident when he adds, "Except the ones who don't."
Rory reacts instinctively, placing a hand on his forearm and rubbing softly, consolingly. The Doctor closes his eyes and relaxes into the contact, the silence going on long enough that Rory's sure he's gone back to sleep.
He sits up suddenly, so abruptly that Rory is taken aback and nearly doesn't catch him when he wobbles precariously. "Doctor, please. Lie back."
He stills, looking into fever-bright eyes that hold more lucidity than he expects. "Yes," he confirms, in case it was meant as a question.
But the Doctor seems perfectly aware of who is with him now. "Not my usual type, you. Less adventuresome and curious. More calm and comfortable and grounded."
"I think the word you might be looking for is 'boring,'" Rory supplies helpfully. It doesn't offend him. He knows he's a far cry from Amy's personality, and he expects that's the sort the Doctor usually goes for. He's here by default.
"You're one of the good ones. You're safe. Or you were, before I came along. Now you're back from the dead and Roman and old…older than me, memory-wise."
"Yes. Well." He takes a moment to mentally quash the memories trying to surface. He gets by day to day be accepting them and letting them be background noise, never dwelling on them. "You have…broadened my horizons."
A crooked smile breaks through the solemn mood, shortly followed by another giggle. "That's good. Yes, I shall have to remember that one. 'Come ride in the Tardis, broaden your horizons.' I can advertise."
"Hold on there, now. You're not in the market for new traveling companions yet."
The smile fades. "No," he agrees, a hand coming up to fiddle with Rory's sleeve. "Not yet."
Rory glances down at the long fingers, but makes no move to stop them. "Doctor. All of your companions…well, I don't imagine you've ever kept anyone against their will. Every one wanted to be here. You show us things we could only have imagined. You give us life—we never really would have lived."
The Doctor stares at him, gaze remarkably steady. After a moment he gets a clumsy pat on the cheek and a sing-song, "Rory. Nurse Rory," as is only response.
But from then on, no matter his temperature, the Doctor doesn't call him by any other name.
He discusses some of the conversation with a mostly coherent Amy. She's silent through all the talk of other companions, offering him no insight or opinions through he expects she knows more than he does about the Doctor's past. Finally he leaves off the serious stuff and tells her about wrestling for bow ties and pterodactyls and the whole 'pretty' thing. That gets her laughing.
"Is he delirious?"
"I'm not sure could tell a difference if he was," he jokes.
He raises his eyebrows, feeling a sense of déjà vu. "Yes…"
"You'd know." She says it with confidence, like it's a foregone conclusion.
"He's not the easiest patient."
She gives a congested little snort that's probably supposed to be a laugh. "I'm sure."
Her eyes drift shut. He watches her for a long moment before adding softly, "And this is an alien flu." It's the first time he's let anyone other than the ship see his insecurity about all of this.
"Hmm," she hums sleepily. "'S okay. Trust you."
His breath catches a little. "Thank you," he murmurs back after a moment, but she's already asleep.
He sits there for a long while, mulling over it. It's one thing to know that she relies on him and probably respects and has faith in him, and its another to hear her say it in her own Amy-way.
Between her and the Doctor, he's starting to think he's being perceived differently than he ever has. He thinks he's who he's always been, toga experiences and years beside a box be damned. He's just Rory. And if he's sometimes wished to be more, well, he's learned to let it go. He lives with his circumstances. And really, his circumstances are pretty cool right about now. And if the people he cares for think better of him than 'just Rory,' he can learn to live with that.
Perhaps he can even live up to it.
Time is relative inside a time machine. Rory loses track, going from room to room and patient to patient. His hours bleed into days. His sleep comes in short spurts in the chairs he's set up beside each bed. When he wanders to the kitchen in search of food, there is always something easily-prepped waiting in the refrigerator, though he doesn't remember it being there the day before. He does not question it, though he does catch himself thanking the walls every once in a while.
He knows that taking care of himself has to be a priority; that he can't look after anyone else if he's out of commission. But there are only so many precautions he can take, and in a situation like this—shared living quarters, a strain of something he's never been exposed to—the odds are not in his favor.
But he keeps going. They need him, his wife and his Time Lord, and he won't let them down.
He doesn't relax at all really until the fevers break—both of them. Amy's is first, leaving her weak and tired, but her sleep now is much more peaceful. The Doctor's is more stubborn, hanging on and leaving him at his most incomprehensible in the last few hours before it breaks.
It isn't until he's relatively convinced that the Doctor will be all right by himself that he retreats back to his own room. When he slumps into the chair once more Amy grunts in dissatisfaction and pats the bed beside her. "In."
He shakes his head. "One of you still might need something."
"But we're out of the woods, so to speak, yeah?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Then get in. You and your stupid face."
And really, who could resist that invitation? He climbs in beside her but doesn't lie down, figuring he'll stay somewhat alert if he's upright. She accepts her partial victory and curls close beside him, snoring again in mere minutes.
Rory strokes her hair, continuing his watch until he can no longer hold his eyes open.
The clock says it is half-past two when he startles awake. His first thought is of Amy, who he quickly finds with her face pressed into his side and her fingers tangled in his shirt, fast asleep. It takes another confusing moment for him to realize that the disturbance came from his other side, where the Doctor has apparently just crawled into bed with them. He soon winds his arms around Rory as if he's merely a giant teddy bear.
Rory blinks at him in the dim light, a little befuddled, but doesn't try to dislodge him. It's like so many other aspects of life with the Doctor; you just have to go with it.
After a long moment of silence aside from rustling cloth and sniffles, he finally ventures, "Doctor?"
"How are you feeling?"
"Cold," comes the muzzy response.
Rory frowns and promptly shifts to press a hand to the Doctor's face once more. "Your fever doesn't seem to have come back."
There is a beat of silence, then, "Too quiet."
He doesn't say 'lonely,' but Rory hears it anyway. "Right," he says easily, patting the Doctor's back. "Okay, then."
He's got a 900-year-old Time Lord cuddling up to him like a little boy afraid of the dark. It should feel stranger than it does. He's reminded of his earlier thoughts when the Doctor had first gotten ill. Communicating with the Time Lord is often frustratingly like dealing with a five-year-old. An exceptionally intelligent and well-traveled five-year-old who's held the fates of worlds in his hands.
He's still a conundrum, Amy's Raggedy Doctor. But Rory feels he's gotten a bit closer now. At heart (or hearts, as the case might be), he's really just like the rest of them. He loves and he loses and he wants to connect, and he's both cursed and blessed for it.
A hand comes up to clumsily pat his chest. "Thinking too much. Rest, Nurse Rory."
Rory startles, surprised that he didn't realize Amy had awakened and wondering how long ago she had done so. She releases her fingers from his shirt and grabs hold of the Doctor's hand instead, leaving their woven fingers to rest over Rory's heart. "We're good. Because you were brilliant. So get some real sleep."
He wants to argue; they're still weak, they might relapse…so many things could still go wrong. But he is past tired, well into exhaustion. He reasons that he couldn't go anywhere anyway with the two of them wrapped around him like limpets. "Yeah, okay."
He may need real rest, but the two of them still need looking after. This way he can do both. He wriggles and shifts and tries not to dislodge either of them as he lowers himself until he can rest his head on the pillow. They both move with him, much grunting and a bit of kicking and hair pulling involved as they all try to get comfortable.
When they are finally settled, Rory sighs. "It's a good thing we got rid of the bunk beds."
From his left comes a stubborn, irrepressible, "Bunk beds are cool."
From his right comes an unladylike little snort. "You know you'd fall off a ladder right now, right?"
The Doctor sulks. "Still cool," he replies peevishly.
Rory smiles despite himself and tightens his hold on each of them. All is right with his world.
Well, at least until he wakes up several hours later—coughing.