The first sentence is a reference to my oneshot Burnt Out Stars, which this takes place immediately after.

I own nothing.


"You're turning me into you."

After all the thoughts of companions and the way they've been utterly scarred by his company are past, he still has that accusation ringing in his mind, refusing to go away. The look of disgust plastered all over Rory's face when he said it, the horror sparking keenly in his eyes at what the Doctor had just done, and the sobs of the Amy-that-never-should-have-been rising like flames just outside the TARDIS. This is what the Doctor remembers the clearest out of the incident, and what fills his mind now.

The Ponds are fast asleep, which is good, they should be, even if it is on the floor of the console room, curled up like cats trying to ward off the cold. Amy is still bundled up under the Doctor's coat and Rory is just beside her, as though he's trying to keep her warm. You'd think they'd go find a bed somewhere to sleep on, but no. They've settled down right there. The Doctor isn't sure whether to find it endearing or exasperating. How very human.

Rory. Oh yes, Rory. What happened today shows just how far the cracks can go when they want to rear their ugly heads. It's only natural, considering how different they are in heart and mind, but the Doctor had no idea the cracks went that far.

"Doctor!" The Doctor has to tell himself that it's not his Amy he hears screaming. It's not his Amy bloodying her fists against the TARDIS door, it's not his Amy screaming, pleading, crying on the other side of the door. "I trusted you!"

The Doctor squeezes his eyes shut. It's not her. Come on; you know it's not her. It's a different Amy, an Amy from a faster time stream. Your Amy is here in the TARDIS, unconscious but safe. That is just someone who by all rights should never have existed. He still flinches at every scream, every pounding of a fist against wood. His hearts still ache in his chest at her cries.

"What are you doing?" The thrill of horror in Rory's voice just makes his hearts ache even more.

Rory had a right to be angry. Good, simple Rory, who wants to save everyone, and damn the consequences. Rory, whom the Doctor lied to in order to get him to play along, because if the Doctor had ever told him, at any point before slamming the TARDIS' door in the older Amy's face, that he had to choose, Rory would have balked, Rory would have rejected that choice. Rory would have insisted on saving both Amys and he would not have cooperated.

The Doctor had to trick him, and he knew Rory would be angry when the play was over. He just hadn't been expecting him to say that.

"This isn't fair." In an instant, the anguished horror in Rory's eyes shifts to palpable revulsion. "You're turning me into you," he spits, and the Doctor flinches as if struck.

Maybe he should have expected it. Rory, more so than any of the Doctor's companions, has never hesitated to tell him when he's going too far, in ways that the Doctor can not ignore. It's part of the reason the Doctor likes having him around; he's gotten so very skilled at bringing him back down to size. Maybe he should have been expecting this from him.

A soft groan emits from where the Ponds are sleeping, and the Doctor stiffens, trying to rid his mind of unhappy thoughts and failing, but still managing to affix that game smile to his face. Rory, hair noticeably mussed and wiping sleep from his eyes with a balled-up fist, comes walking up to where the Doctor attends to the TARDIS, fingers running across the console.

"She still asleep?" the Doctor asks quietly, nodding to the softly pulsating lump that is Amelia Pond, lying prone on the ground.

Rory nods, avoiding the Doctor's gaze (Deliberately, the Time Lord can't help but think). "Yeah, she is," he answers, just as quietly.

The Doctor nods as well, and draws his tongue over his cracked lips. "That's to be expected; the anesthetic will take a few days to wear off," he explains, and falls silent, unable to think of anything more to say. The awkward silences drown out the words; how awkward. "We should probably move her to a bed," he remarks lamely. "She'd be more comfortable there."

"No." Rory's answer is so fast and so firm that the Doctor frowns, and Rory's face flushes red with embarrassed color. "You know how anesthetics work," he elaborates, staring determinedly at the floor. "When she wakes up she won't be able to walk properly. What if she wants something? We're more likely to hear her if she's kept here."

"You could go to bed with her," the Doctor points out reasonably, and tells himself that he's not putting that forth so he won't have to look at them. No, that's not it at all.

"Not tired," Rory mumbles. The bags under his eyes bespeak something entirely different, but the Doctor doesn't call attention to it. He understands. Rory doesn't want to lose sight of Amy right now, even if she is perfectly safe on the TARDIS.

Conversation falls flat again. The Doctor continues inspecting dials and levers and all manner of instruments insensible to anyone but him. Rory occasionally prods some of the wilder looking instruments with the sort of expression that just screams "I know those weren't there the last time I looked", but the Doctor makes no move to stop him. He trusts Rory not to mess with anything.

Then, the Doctor looks up too fast for Rory to avoid meeting his gaze, and smiles faintly. "Everything's going to be fine."

To say Rory looks affronted at this doesn't quite cover it. A miasma of hurt, longing and righteous indignation settles like a pall on his peaked face. "How d'you figure?" he snaps, using caustic sarcasm to hide the pain in his voice. "She's dead, and all I can—"

"Not your Amy," the Doctor says softly, sadly.

"And all I can remember," Rory repeats more loudly, eyes flashing, before Amy squirms slightly in her deep sleep and Rory squares his jaw contritely. More quietly, so as not to risk waking his sleeping wife, Rory goes on, "And all I can remember is…" He can't continue, swallowing hard and eyes entirely too bright—

"If you love me, don't let me in." (The Doctor grimaces. He remembers too.)

Eventually, Rory recovers control and manages to speak again, though the words are thick and sticky and garbled. "Do you always play with people like this? Like we're just your game pieces, like you can play God with our lives? I don't care if you think her existence was wrong. She was a real person." If it were anyone but him the Doctor is sure Rory would be crying by now; as it is the tears are swimming, unshed, like a whole galaxy's worth of stars, in Rory's clear gray eyes. "She was alive. And now she's not."

That gleam in Rory's eyes, the one that's been lingering there since the slamming of the TARDIS door, makes perfect sense now. There's no faith left there. The Doctor supposes he should have expected that. Rory's been through Hell in his times traveling with the Doctor (in both universes, no less), and all that and nearly two thousand years of guarding a box can change a man. But until now, he'd always believed in the Doctor, if nothing else. Not anymore. He's seen the truth. The Doctor is not a god. He's just a man, and a fallible one at that. One who makes mistakes. One who makes the cruelest choices.

Rory reaches up to wipe the saline wet from his eyes. He's said what he needs to and there's no more need for words on his end. His silence is so, so damning.

The Doctor tries to smile and the closest he can manage is the most hideous grimace. "Well Rory, you'll be glad to know that there's no danger of you turning into me any time soon."

For the first time, Rory looks uncomfortable due to some reason other than being uncomfortable with the Doctor's actions. "Yeah…" A dull red flush creeps up his neck again. "About that. Listen. I'm sorry for what I said. I don't think what you did was right but I—"

"No, no!" the Doctor's bottle green eyes are practically sparking with earnestness and Rory frowns uncertainly. "Don't be sorry!" His attempts at feigning his usual manic energy fall completely flat; he sounds like a grainy tape recording. "You had every right to be mad! Mad is good; mad means you're still breathing. I should have been open with you and I wasn't; there's nothing to be sorry about, getting mad at something like that." Resting a hand on the console, the Doctor finally abandons any pretense of being his normal self. "I just want you to know," he murmurs, "that there's absolutely no need to be worried about turning into me."

The young nurse's frown deepens. "Why not?"

The Doctor smiles sadly. "Because you are, and always will be, a better man." What happened today no longer leaves the Doctor in any doubt of that, not that he ever had much at all. He turns his back on Rory, unable to stand looking at him any longer. The console is an easier thing to look at than his heartbroken, indignant companion.

After a moment of having steady gray eyes burning into his back, Rory moves away, back to Amy.

And the Doctor is left alone with his guilt, again.