To those of you who just clicked on this randomly, you may want to know that this is the fourth installment of a series started by Fountain of Youth.
To those of you returning, welcome back! I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that you guys have stayed with me all this time. It just makes me want to keep writing :)
As always, reviews are very much appreciated. Enjoy!
"Sir? Sir, are you alright?"
All the Doctor could see was red, but then he realized his eyelids were still closed. Forcing them open was a chore in of itself, and afterward he wished he hadn't tried. The midday sun was harsh on his unfocused pupils, and he groaned, every inch of him sore. A little girl was staring down at him curiously, and if it wasn't for her vivid green eyes it would have taken a little longer for him to remember what had happened.
The Doctor sat bolt-upright, forgetting about the soreness. His welfare was of no importance to him now. The child stared at him, perplexed. "Sir?"
"I'm fine, fine. Excuse me." The Doctor jumped to his feet. His toe caught the dart, and he bent down and picked it up, pocketing it for future investigation. Then he took off down the street, shouting Amy's name over and over again. His hearts were beating so fast it felt as if they were slapping against his ribcage, trying to escape, as if they couldn't stay inside him if Amy wasn't there.
She was, as he had expected, nowhere to be found. Whoever took her could have been halfway across the galaxy by this point. Not wasting any more time, he changed direction and raced for their apartment, only half hoping she'd somehow escaped and was waiting for him there.
"Sorry, Doctor, but she hasn't come back," Mrs. Bloom said when she opened her door to him. Her apartment smelled faintly of smoke, but the Doctor barely noticed. "Is something the matter?" The woman asked concernedly.
"No. No, I'm sure she'll turn up," the Doctor lied. "I'll go ahead and take Ian and Jenna off your hands, if you don't mind."
Not surprisingly, Mrs. Bloom didn't mind in the least. In fact, she seemed immensely relieved. The two children looked innocent as angels when she brought them to the door, although both adults knew better.
"Daddy!" Jenna cried, launching herself at his leg. He laughed and picked her up, folding his arms tightly around her as if he feared Amy's kidnappers might come back for their daughter as well. Ian was content to walk next to him as they returned to their apartment, babbling on about what he'd done in the last couple hours, conveniently leaving out the part that would have explained the smoke smell.
When they reached home, however, both Ian and Jenna started looking around for their mother.
"Daddy, where's Mummy?" Ian questioned, peering around the furniture as if he expected Amy to be hiding behind the couch.
The Doctor winced. "She's…not here right now. But I promise we're going to find her, Ian." He set Jenna down next to her brother, his hands on their shoulders. "Now, how would you two like to ride in a spaceship?"
Amy woke up feeling incredibly sick. Not that this was new; every morning for the past four months had started out that way. This time, on the other hand, was undoubtedly the worst. Her head was pounding as if someone had dropped a brick on it, and her stomach kept twisting into the most complicated knots it could come up with and threatening to send its contents up her throat. Already knowing what she would find, she opened her eyes and saw that she was lying on a pallet on a cement floor, in the corner of some sort of cell. Her nightmare had become reality.
Further inspection revealed that the exercise outfit the Doctor had bought her was gone, replaced by a uniform gray shirt and pants that reminded her a little too much of what felons wore. The shirt had been made to account for more girth around the midriff; they'd known she was pregnant.
There was a sudden clanging noise, like a bolt being thrown out of its chamber, and the thick metal door creaked open. Out of instinct Amy tried to sit up and realized too late that her body wasn't going to let her. Apparently the drug that had knocked her out was still in her system, keeping movement limited and painful, and black dots spotted her vision. She fell back on the pallet with a moan and curled up into a ball, wishing August would pick any time but then to kick her in the side. Tense, she watched warily as the door was opened wider, and a faceless man appeared, a bowl of some gray substance that looked anything but edible in his hands. Now that she wasn't fighting to get away, Amy could see that he was actually not a man at all, but an animated plastic dummy. Not that this was any more of a comfort; the Doctor had told her about Autons and what they were capable of.
The Auton sat the bowl in front of Amy, who wrinkled her nose at it. "Are you kidding me? I am NOT eating that," she said stubbornly, even though her stomach was growling again. It seemed ages since the Doctor had made her eat the honeyed oatmeal with fruit, and just the thought of it made her mouth water.
There was no response, however, or even acknowledgement that he'd heard her. He merely straightened up and turned around, marching back out the door and slamming it behind him.
Hours passed, and Amy's hunger got worse. Still she ignored the bowl, taking to staring at the door instead as if willing it to open. She dared not lie down and go to sleep, despite how tired she was, afraid of being caught off guard. If there was a chance of escape, she was obligated to take it.
"OI! Anyone out there? Well if you are, listen up and listen good. No one locks Amy Pond up in a cell and expects her to just take it, ya hear me? NO ONE!"
No one came; she hadn't really expected them to. Unable to handle the silence any longer, Amy managed to drag herself over to the door. Her fists pounded on the cold metal, making a racket loud enough to wake the dead as she struck it repeatedly. After a while her knuckles developed bruises and her skin cracked, blood seeping from them.
"Let me out. Please, just let me out!" Amy was sobbing again, her cheek pressed against the door, her throbbing, bloodied hands tucked into her chest. She missed the Doctor, thinking of how he would hold her if she was back at the apartment with him, kiss her hands and get out the first aid kit, all the while reprimanding her for causing unnecessary harm to herself. She missed Ian, who would surely ask a million questions as to why she wanted to wear cloth tied around her hands, and Jenna stealing the leftover bandages so they could pretend to be injured too. The more she thought about them the more she wept, until her weary body at last succumbed to a fitful sleep on the hard concrete floor.
The Doctor had to admit that his favorite reaction yet of someone entering his TARDIS came from Ian and Jenna. Their eyes suddenly grew three times in size as he led them inside, trying to take in everything at once.
"It's so big!" Ian shouted in an attempt to make his voice echo.
"I want to live here instead, Daddy!" Jenna chorused, giggling and taking off to run circles around the console. Ian soon joined her. The TARDIS began to hum slightly as they ran about her exploring.
"Missed them have you, old girl?" The Doctor chuckled and patted the console of his ship. She hummed again in what seemed like agreement, following by a small whining noise. "I know, dear. It's been a while for me too. Just give me a second."
With that, the Doctor set to work on the console, pushing buttons and pulling levers he hadn't touched in years. It felt good to be back.
"Ian! Jenna! Come here and hold on to something!" The Doctor called, having no intention of using the stabilizers now that his children were old enough. They complied and ended up grabbing onto his legs. "Well I suppose that works too. Geronimo!"
"Four years, Clarion."
"Four years! Don't you think they should be back by now? They said they would." River paced the marble floor, hands clasped behind her back. She didn't want to admit to the possibility that the Doctor had forgotten her, that he had left her like he had left so many others. It seemed less likely that Amy would forget; in fact, she'd be the one telling him to come back.
"It's a big universe, River. And they do have their own lives to lead. Just be patient." Clarion wanted to see their friends as much as his wife did, but he figured their absence thus far had been for the better. Anavrin had been a wreck when they'd first started putting it back together again, and only recently had they finished and were able to sit safely in the renovated palace, knowing their subjects were taken care of. Perhaps it was also because of this that River had been irritable of late; she thrived on hard work. Clarion watched her affectionately as she pulled at a ringlet, loving how her hair utterly refused to be repressed. She was dressed in a flowing olive-green halter jumpsuit, which did wonders for her figure in his opinion. She had already become something of a trendsetter in Arbora, for a majority of the women were trading their skirts for trousers in an effort to be like their beloved queen.
"You don't think they've…forgotten about us, do you?" River asked.
"Of course not. Who could ever forget someone with a personality like yours?"
"Is that an insult or a compliment?" She swayed towards where he sat pouring over written appeals from citizens, arms crossed, a dangerous expression on her face.
"Forgive me, I seem to have neglected to insert 'winning' before 'personality'."
"Better." River smiled and slid into his lap, their lips meeting instantaneously, her hands running through his hair as his fiddled with the tie of her jumpsuit.
They were interrupted when a fluctuating wheezing noise perforated the silence, and the papers flew off Clarion's desk. The couple broke apart and grinned, recognizing it for what it was, their hearts thumping excitedly. A big blue police box materialized in front of their eyes seconds later, and the door creaked open.
"Am I interrupting something?" The Doctor asked, taking in their compromising position.
River jumped off Clarion's lap and marched up to him, jabbing a finger in his chest. "Where. Have. You. BEEN?" She demanded.
"New London, New Earth, four years straight, and before you ask, yes, it was very dull. And before you ask if I've lost my mind, although that's always a possibility, the reason was because someone was trying to track the TARDIS."
"You went…domestic? As in settled down in one place for an extended period of time?" River was in partial shock.
"Yes, and I'd rather not talk about it. There are more important matters at hand."
Just then, Ian and Jenna tumbled out of the TARDIS, involved in a battle over the sonic screwdriver.
"Oi! What did I say about touching that?" The Doctor stepped between them and retrieved the device, slipping it as deep into his jacket pocket as it would go.
"Good lord, don't tell me these are those tiny babies I spent a good deal of my time chasing around the TARDIS!" River crouched down and pulled both of them into a hug, which they were perfectly okay with even though their memories of her were fuzzy. They rather enjoyed attention of any kind.
"Yes, but they're no less trouble, I'll tell you that."
"No surprise there." River laughed and planted kisses on the tops of their heads.
"Do you know where my mummy is?" Ian asked her, staring up at her with his big green eyes.
It was funny how such an innocent question could so drastically change the atmosphere.
"Doctor, where's Amy?" River asked, realizing for the first time the lack of the fiery-tongued ginger. She'd never seen a man crumple inside without physically moving a muscle until that moment.
"That's the thing. They found us somehow, even without honing in on the TARDIS. They…they took her."
"Who did?" Clarion asked.
"I don't know. But I believe it's the same person from four years ago."
Clarion and River looked at each other.
"Well you've got us now," River said hearteningly, smiling. "Let's go get her back."