A/N: And I just churned out another Doctor Who oneshot that's less than 1500 words. Go figure. This is not a very productive activity. This feels a lot more like the 10th Doctor than the 11th Doctor. The guilt thing is just such a heavy topic, but I had to draw the comparison. It was too good to refuse. Old person bonding time!
Spoilers through The Girl Who Waited
Disclaimer: Not mine. At all.
Don't open the door!
Agony raced through Rory's mind as he wandered through the TARDIS. The TARDIS that was incapable of sustaining a double Amy paradox. Young Amy had gone to bed. She had leaned against him the entire walk to their bedroom, half because of the effects of the anesthesia, half because she was tired and lonely and confused and had just died. Died 36 years in the future. It made Rory's head spin and he relunctantly acknowledged the impossibility of the paradox. Did the Doctor always feel this guilty when... stuff happened? How often had the Doctor traded one life for another?
The man turned aimlessly down another corridor, wandering deeper and deeper into older parts of the magnificent time machine. He hadn't explored it on his own much. Amy showed him around, almost exclusively. He'd never gone this far alone. It TARDIS corridors had a mindless similarity to them. Rory had never understood that. Eleven doctors. Eleven different personalities. Why did everything stay basically the same? Surely one of the past incarnations of the monster had to have been a clutterer. Rory closed his eyes against his thoughts.
He couldn't truly call the Doctor a monster anymore, could he? Not after he made that choice. The young man sucked in a long, shaky breath and tried to shake the image of her hand pressed up against the TARDIS window. He truly had seen the Doctor as a monster. A maniac, someone who couldn't be stopped. Someone who just tumbled out of the sky with reckless abandoned and ruined everything. But not anymore. Rory continued through the maze of tunnels. No. Over 900 years of guilt must weigh so heavily on the Doctor's shoulders. Goodness knows, two centuries had been bad enough and he had never had to make a decision like the one he had made, not more than an hour ago.
The unmistakable sound of sobs caught Rory's attention. He looked around, but saw nothing near him. No doors immediately presented themselves. He continued down on the hallway, following the sound until he, after what felt like ages, reached a door. It was a singular door, with nothing around it, no handle or anything. The sobbing was coming from inside. Rory's gut twisted. The Doctor. Guilt. So much guilt. The Lone Centurion pressed his hand to the door and pushed. Nothing happened. He wasn't really surprised. Amy said she hadn't ever seen the Doctor cry. She had spun theories about aliens without tear ducts and other, more crude, versions of releasing emotion. At the time, it had been so her. In this moment, in the darkened hallway steeped with sobs full of cold, harsh reality, it felt so wrong.
Rory made himself known because of need. He needed to know that he'd get over this guilt. He needed some sort of hope that he might someday stop picturing her face as the TARDIS doors slammed, as she ordered him to choose her younger self, as she turned to face her death. He needed reassurance, and frankly, the unstable, maniac with a box was the only one who could provide it. "Doctor? You there?"
The sobs stopped. Rory grimaced. Silent prevailed in the hallway. The door flashed open and there stood the Doctor. But... Rory took a quick step back. His eyes were black, filled with anger and rage and emotions that Rory couldn't decipher. His eyebrows slanted together, forming a heavy, dark v. His face was pale and blotchy and his shoulders were tensed, his hands clenched into fists. It wasn't the first time Rory had ever been afraid of the Doctor. It was the first time Rory ever felt sympathy for the other man. The Doctor pushed him out into the hallway, and slammed the door shut. Rory only managed to quick glimpse of the room. Long. Dark. Pedestals. Pictures. Faces. The word shrine popped into the Centurion's head. The Doctor had a shrine? "What do you want?" The Doctor demanded.
The Doctor raked a hand through his hair and closed his eyes. He heaved a heavy sigh. "No. Yes, you'll get over the guilt, eventually, after a couple weeks of heartache and despair in which you and younger Amy have some problems, but you'll still picture her face. You won't ever forget it." His face hardened into cruel lines. "See to it that you don't forget it. You forget the guilt, and you start making mistakes." He turned and started walking away the younger... older... whatever... man. His was stiff. Before the hallway turned, the Doctor looked back and stared at the silent, tense Rory. "Tell me something, will you ever forgive me for this?"
"What?" He really hates this about the Doctor. The man was able to throw a complete curveball into the conversation, reduce him to something so simplistically monosyllabic. It was frustrating to hold a conversation with someone who's intellect could throw you out the door in about two seconds flat.
The Doctor reached his arms behind his back, rocking back and forth on his heals as he considered the man across from him. "Will you forgive me for Amy? And," the whisper barely reached the intended recipient, "Melody?" Rory blinked. Was the Doctor asking for his forgiveness? The all-mighty Doctor was asking for forgiveness? Before Rory could formulate another response, the Doctor was talking again. "Because I could save Melody. Your Melody. The one that was taken. The weapon." His words strung together, spinning at a hundred miles an hour. "I could save Melody and give her to you. You could raise her and loose Mels. You could raise her and loose River. You could raise her and she'd be stuck on Earth or in here and she'd hate it. You could raise her and the paradox that ensued would... would..." He didn't complete that thought. Rory wondered what past experiences the Doctor might be leaving out. "And so I let the timestreams run. I made the opposite choice.
A fresh wave of jealous anger crashes over Rory. His Melody. He thrusts the thought aside and tries to focus on the guilt.
The Doctor continued. "You chose the younger, innocent one. I chose the older one. River... River is... She..." Rory picked up on what the Doctor was trying to say, but unable to form the words. It was obvious enough if you paid enough attention to their flirting. He listened as the Doctor babbled on. "I remember everyone. Everyone who ever lost their lives or their memories or anything. I've caused so much damage just by existing. There's so much guilt in that room." He jerked a thumb towards the lonely door. "There's so few people I haven't messed up yet. There's almost no one I can fix. And River... We've each got spoilers for the other. Sure, she's got the most right now but I-" Pain filled his eyes. Rory didn't let that go noticed. "I have the biggest one. The one that's going to kill her."
Again, anger stabbed Rory in the gut. He wanted to reach out and protect Melody, to keep her from that pain. His mind flashes to the conversation he had with her about locks and bad girls and the Doctor and... oh poor Melody. He can see how she got those sentiments from her first meeting with the Doctor as River. And the guilt crashed all over again. The Doctor felt the same guilt. The Doctor had the same problems. "I really should hit you right about now," Rory stated, knowing that he's done it often enough.
A half-hearted smile quirked the corners of the Doctor's face. "That is why I'm standing out of reach."
Rory laughs. And it's a real laugh. He lets out a breath and lets his shoulders slump forward. Things would – eventually – return to some semblance of normal. "I need a drink."
This time, the Doctor does smile. "Agreed."
And so, some seven hours later, they sat at the kitchen table with brightly colored alcoholic drinks in front of them – gentle enough for Rory, still intoxicating to the Doctor – completely drunk, leaning against each other, and arguing over who was older. They didn't fight or bother to battle or give thought to any jealousy or concern or negative emotion, they just existed, for the first time, as friends in their own right, not just because of one flame headed girl who found them when she woke up. Amy refused to stop laughing at them. It took time. It took pain. It took fights and a few more broken noses, but the Doctor and Rory became firm friends, sharing the guilt of experience and the torment of centuries of existence. And they refused to stop arguing over who was older.