Word Count: 4596
Beta-ed and Brit-picked by the wonderful obscure_musical
Timeline: Set during The Eleventh Hour
Warning: This is not a fairy tale. Alcohol, light sexual references and language.
Notes:This developed out of an entirely different fic idea. I originally planned for this to be only around 2000 words, but Amy disagreed. Written for the "A New Life" category over at who_contest on LiveJournal.
I hate this town…
When will I find where I fit in?
Amelia Pond is seven years old the first time the Doctor leaves her.
Of course, at the time, she doesn't realise that he's left her. At the time she just thinks that he seemed a bit funny and maybe he doesn't know how to drive his time machine properly. So what if he's a bit late? He'll come back soon enough. She knows he will. He promised, after all.
When she wakes up in her bed the next morning, she yells at Aunt Sharon for bringing her back inside, before she takes her suitcase and goes back into the yard. She sits on her case, crosses her arms, and refuses to move no matter who asks her to.
"I can't play today, Rory. I'm waiting for the Doctor."
He looks at her a bit concerned. "Are you sick?"
"Not a doctor, stupid. The Doctor."
"Oh." He waits a beat before he asks, "Who's the Doctor?"
Amelia sighs, rolls her eyes, and quickly tells him a bit of her meeting with her Doctor. She hopes that it will shut Rory up and make him leave. He doesn't. Instead he tells her that he wants to play Doctor, even when she tells him that's she's not playing because the Doctor is real and he's coming for her (duh!). Rory doesn't believe her, he doesn't understand, she can tell, but she doesn't care. She knows her Doctor's real and he's coming for her.
Now if only he would hurry up so she could get rid of stupid Rory.
"Let's play hide and seek," she tells him. "You hide."
"How come I always have to hide?"
"Because I said so. Now hurry up!"
Rory sighs, but turns and goes back into the house. Amelia rolls her eyes, looks back to the broken shed, and waits. She waits and waits, until Aunt Sharon comes out yelling and asking why on Earth Rory's in the wardrobe.
Amy's nineteen when the Doctor finally comes back.
By this time she's all grown up and telling everyone that she doesn't think her Raggedy Doctor is real anymore; that he was a game she made up when she was little. It's all lies, obviously, because, of course he's real; he was far too absurd for her to ever make up. She only says he isn't so that they'll stop sending her to those stupid psychiatrists. But he's definitely real. She knows he is.
And then he comes back just like he said he would. He's just as funny, mad, and brilliant as she remembered. He commandeers vehicles, breaks into hospitals, and steals clothes from the changing room; he parades about, babbles things she only half understands, and saves the entire bloody planet (twice!), all in twenty minutes.
So for twenty minutes, she believes him. More than believes him, honestly, she trusts him. She knows her fairy tale–the one he started when she was seven–is finally about to come true. So, for twenty minutes, everything is right.
Then he leaves.
Amy spends the entire night locked up in her bedroom, her boxes of childhood toys and drawings scattered all about. It starts with her only looking, remembering.
Yeah, that doesn't last for long. The next thing she knows she's yelling and screaming and cursing, and crying. Especially crying.
Because, you see, ever since she was seven, she believed she was a part of a fairy tale. Okay, yeah, a rather mad, chaotic one, but a fairy tale nonetheless. She never cared what anyone said –not her Aunt Sharon, not her friends, and especially not her psychiatrists–because he convinced her it was true. He promised her the universe and time travel and brilliant adventures!
Then he disappeared without a single word. Twice.
And she was so bloody stupid for trusting him. For believing in him. Because she's Amy Pond–the mad little girl, the moron who waited–and the very last place she belongs is in a fairy tale. But still.
"Argh!" She throws a Raggedy Doctor doll against the wall. It makes a thud before it slides down and lands on her pillow, his stupid doll eyes staring at her. "Shut up!" she snaps, grabbing it by the head.
The door creaks open. "Amy?"
"Get out, Rory." He doesn't move. "I said get out!" She throws the doll at him. It hits him on the shoulder, but he doesn't even flinch, because the stupid thing's made out of cloth.
"No," he says and she thinks it's the most authoritative he's ever spoken to her. Had it been any other time, she might have been impressed. But not now; right now she's just angry.
"I mean it. Leave me alone!"
"No. I'm not leaving. I'll never leave you, Amy."
She yells, she throws things; she even beats at his chest. She does every stupid thing she can think of to get him to just leave her alone, but he never does. He just holds her while she cries and cries, like some sort of bloody idiot. He stays with her through the entire night, because he's Rory and the stupid moron refuses to leave her.
And Amy thinks she might just love him for it. She'll never admit it, but he's the only constant in her life. The only person who never left her, ya know? And it means the whole bloody world to her.
But another part of her–a part buried deep in the back of her mind–hates him for it. Because, you see, never leaving means always staying; always staying in dull, boring Leadworth where nothing ever happens. Where the people (including Rory) never leave, because they have no idea desire to see the rest of the world. They don't know how to live anywhere else. They don't understand how much more there is.
So a part of Amy wishes he would just leave her already.
Amy's barely twenty-one the first time she goes to Cardiff.
She goes with a group of girls who she doesn't particularly like (okay, she hates every last stupid one of them) and who don't really like her (they spent their entire childhood calling her 'the mad Scottish girl') but their mums are friends with her Aunt Sharon so they have to invite her. The only reason she even agrees is because, well, she'll take any excuse get out of dull, boring Leadworth, even if it's only for a few days.
(It's also the first time since their engagement that she's been away from Rory for more than twelve hours. He calls her three or four times a day, every day of the trip.)
She barely spends any time with the girls. In fact, the only time she even sees them is in the mornings and nights when they're all at the hotel. While they go off to do whatever it is that they do (she doesn't even care enough to find out), she explores the city: she shops, tries a few cafés, visits a museum or two.
And, on her last night, she goes to a pub.
"I'll have a pint of lager," she orders.
"Make that two," someone behind her says. "Hers is on me."
"No. Hers is on her, thank you very much."
"Ouch. Don't tell me you're going to shoot me down without even looking at me."
"Don't need to," she answers automatically. "Not interested." Amy turns her head only to be met by a very handsome face and a pair of gorgeous blue eyes.
He smirks. "You sure about that?" A very distinct non-Welsh accent lingers behind his words. American, she thinks.
He laughs and takes a seat beside her. "Oh, you're going to make me work, aren't you?" The bartender puts their beers down.
She smirks and takes a sip of hers. "Yeah. Yeah, I am. But," she winks at him, "I'm worth it."
He looks at her for a moment with this strange, almost blank look on his face. But, before she has the chance to really comprehend it, he wipes it off and smirks back at her. He lifts his glass up in a toast before he takes a drink.
Amy doesn't really remember what sets them off after that, but they spend the rest of the night talking and flirting.
She lets him buy her a second beer. He tells her all these ridiculous stories he knows.
Some of them are as old as the nineteenth century; folk tales he must have picked up at some point. Some of them, however, are a bit different; they're stories he must have made up, because they're completely absurd and about the stars and the depths of the universe. And she knows she shouldn't do it, she shouldn't listen to him, because he's probably just some nutter and she should get away as fast as possible.
But she can't, because there's something about the way that he says it that stops her. He's so enchanted by it all that he tells his stories in a magical sort of way. A way that sort of reminds her of him. Which, if anything, is another sign that she should get away, but she can't bring herself to do it. And, really, that shouldn't surprise her, because he's always had this frustrating hold on her and she can't ever seem to walk away.
Half way through the next round, her engagement ring 'accidentally' slips off of her finger and into her coat pocket.
They don't even make it a quarter of the way into the next round before she follows him home.
Along the way, her phone vibrates in her pocket. She doesn't answer it.
(And if she feels guilty, she ignores it. She's pretty damn good at that: ignoring her feelings.)
A couple of hours later, when it's done and Amy's sobered up, the guilt begins to sink in.
She picks her clothes up off the floor while he goes to the toilet. She's nearly dressed by the time he returns, still walking about completely nude and unashamed. (Not that he has anything to be ashamed of.)
He frowns. "You know, you're welcome to stay the night."
She ties her boots and doesn't bother to look back up at him. "Thanks, but I'm leaving first thing in the morning."
He pauses. "We never did say our names."
Amy shrugs. "Doesn't really matter now, does it?"
He walks over and lies back down on the bed. After a moment he says, "I'm Jack. Captain Jack Harkness."
"Yeah, don't really care."
"Ow. You really know how to crush a man's ego, don't you?"
A clever retort dances on the tip of her tongue, but she swallows because, at that exact moment, her eyes land on his nightstand. She has no bloody idea how she could have missed it before, because sitting right there is a sketch; a small and simple sketch of a police box floating through the stars.
Amy snatches it up. "Where did you get this?"
She doesn't have to face him to know he's frowning; she can hear it in his voice. "I drew it. Why?"
"It can't be," she mumbles. Except she knows it is. She spins on her heel and glares at him. "Where did you see this? Where is he? Where's the Doctor?"
"You know the Doctor?" He seems surprised for moment. He stares at her for a heartbeat before he shrugs. "Actually that makes sense; you're certainly pretty enough."
"Shut up and answer me. Where. Is. He?"
He stares at her again. It's only when Amy's about to throw the bloody drawing at him that he sighs and shakes his head. "Don't know. I haven't exactly seen him in a while."
And it's not as if she had any hope that it would actually work–that she would actually find her (not so) Raggedy Doctor–but it suddenly feels as if the ground has shifted beneath her stupid feet. It's not a new feeling either–it's the same feeling she gets every bloody time he leaves her–and it's bloody awful. But he does tend to have that effect on her.
She tosses the sketch back onto the table. "Figures," she mumbles, her vision slightly blurred. She blinks her tears back and turns to leave, but Jack catches her hand before she can.
"Hold on one minute now." He turns her so that he stands in between her and the door. "And just how do you know the Doctor?"
She yanks her arm back and glares at him. It's almost funny in a stupid way, because a few years she would have just told him. She would have just unloaded the entire story of fish fingers and cracks in the wall and raggedy suits. But not now. Now she's just sick of it all.
"Does it matter? It's not like he's around now."
He stares at her with those stupid blue eyes. "He left you." It isn't a question.
"Shut up." She tries to push past him, but he doesn't let her.
He lifts her chin so that she has no choice but to look at him. "He does that," he mumbles, a small, understanding smile on his lips. "Trust me, I know."
Amy stares at him for a moment, his words digesting. Finally a small smile tugs at her lips. "You too, eh?" He nods. "Arse."
Jack laughs. "Oh, you have no idea."
Amy and Jack sit through the entire night sharing their stories.
She tells him all about the crack in her bedroom wall, the twelve years she waited, the day they found Prisoner Zero. In return, he tells her about World War II, the trips in the TARDIS, the day he got left behind. They laugh and joke, but they hurt and she almost cries. But, for the first time in her life, she talks to someone who understands exactly what she's been through.
And she doesn't want to leave–really, she doesn't. In fact, there's a part of her that just wants to stay here forever–but the stupid clock glares at her. 6:03, the red lines read. Time to go home, it reminds her, you don't belong here, Amy. Time to go back to Leadworth.
Jack doesn't move from his spot on the bed, but she feels his eyes following her as she gets ready to leave. The only clothes he's bothered to put back on are a pair of boxers. "You know," he says as she puts her coat back on, "I never did get your name."
A smile tugs at her lips. "Amy. Amy Pond."
"Amy Pond," he smiles. He finally stands and walks over until he lingers over her, his face so close she can almost, but not quite, feel his breath. "Now what?"
She takes a step back. "Now I go back home."
"Home," he repeats. "Home to what exactly?"
Her coat pocket suddenly feels heavier. "What else would I do? Stay here?" She rolls her eyes.
He shrugs. "Why not?"
She snorts. "Funny."
Jack takes a step forward, closing the distance between them. "And what if I'm serious?"
Amy takes another step back and pushes her hand forward to maintain the distance. She glares at him. "Okay, well, to start off: we've only just met. I'm not about to toss my entire life away for you. Tonight was fun and all, and it was nice to talk to someone who understands, but that's not life, Jack. The Doctor's gone–gone–and he's not coming back, okay? We can't just sit here and pretend otherwise. We have to move on with our lives."
An amused smile tugs at his lips. "Oh, I know."
"I never said we shouldn't move on, Amy." He continues without letting her respond. "But, you know, you never answered my question."
She stares at him. After a beat, she asks, "What question?"
"What are you going home to? What could possibly keep Amy Pond in small, boring Leadworth?"
It's almost as if there's a bloody anvil in her pocket and the guilt twists and turns in her stomach so much that she almost thinks she'll become ill. She doesn't answer his question; she just turns around and away from him. "Goodbye, Jack." And, without another room, she slips out the bedroom door, out of the flat, and into Cardiff's street.
Amy barely makes it half a block before she hears him calling her name. She ignores him, of course, but he somehow manages to catch up to her. He grabs her by the hand and spins her around so that she crashes into him.
"Amy Pond," he mummers, lifting her hand to his mouth. "You're meant for more than sitting around in Leadworth." He kisses her hand, his stupid bright blue eyes meeting hers. "When you realise that, give me a call." He winks, but lets her go and turns away before she even has the chance to reply.
It's only after he's left and she's walking again that she realises that she's holding a business card; he must have slipped it in her hands while he was talking. There's a mobile number scribbled onto the back, but only one word printed across the front in big, black letters:
The next month turns out to be the simultaneously be the longest and quickest of Amy's life.
It's chaos from the moment she returns from Cardiff, but that doesn't exactly surprise her. After all, the month before your wedding is supposed to be. There's too much to do, too many little details to tweak, too many plans to be made. And Amy throws herself into all of it, and lets the wedding planning consume every bit of her body, mind, and attention. That way, there's no time for distractions or second guesses about stupid words from stupid strangers who don't know what they're talking about.
Yeah, thing is, the world's always been a bitch to Amy, so why should now be any different?
Despite everything–despite all the bloody distractions–her mind wanders. Even though there is all of this wedding chaos surrounding her, nothing else happens. No excitement, no thrills, no, well, anything. There's a little bit of something right now, but that doesn't change the fact that she's still in Leadworth–stupid, dull, boring Leadworth.
And it isn't as if this is anything new, as if anything's changed, because it hasn't. Leadworth has never been the centre of attention or interest. It's always been quiet, calm, tame. And it's never bothered her before this. Okay, yeah, it's always sucked, but not like this. She's never exactly realised how bloody trapped she is here. How absolutely wrong it feels to be in Leadworth. How she wants nothing more than to just escape it all.
She keeps the card buried at the bottom of a dresser, beneath her knickers, beneath a few of her childhood drawings. She keeps it in a place where she can't see it, where it's too far out of her way to dig out and where it can't bloody call out to her; in a place where she knows she will always be able to find it, where it's always right at her fingertips. She keeps it in a place close by, even if she knows the only place it probably should be is in the rubbish bin.
The night before her wedding, she takes it out.
She lies on her bed that night, toys with the card in between her fingers, and remembers the Doctor. Remembers Jack and his words and how it felt to talk to someone who understands.
She has no idea when Rory comes into the room. She doesn't even notice him until he sits down at the foot of her bed and directly in front of her. It scares her and she opens her mouth to snap at him to not do that, until she catches the look on his face and it immediately shuts her up. He gives her this look that very clearly tells her that he knows she's hiding something from him. That he's concerned and worried and all of those stupid things that drive the guilt deeper into the pits of her stomach.
"I slept with someone else." Amy doesn't remember saying the words, but she knows she's said them by the way his face falls.
He sits there with a frown and angry eyes, staring at the wall. He opens his mouth a few times, but always shuts them before anything can come out. And she knows that she should probably say something, but she doesn't. Finally, he looks at her, a single question on his lips.
It's almost funny in some sort of twisted way that the first thing he wants to know isn't what happened or even why. He doesn't ask any of those supposedly important questions. All he wants to know is exactly when she did it.
"While I was in Cardiff."
He turns away again. "The night you didn't answer your phone." It isn't a question.
And Amy suddenly realises that he isn't surprised; that he doesn't ask why or what happened because he doesn't need to. Because she thinks that he's always known it would play out like this, even if she didn't.
"You knew." It isn't a question either.
He doesn't reply at first. He just keeps staring at the same damned spot on the wall and it drives her mad. She wishes he would have some sort of reaction; that he would yell or scream or curse or something. Anything.
But he doesn't. The idiot just keeps staring at the wall. It's only when she's about to grab him and shake a bloody response out of them that he asks, "So now what?"
This time it's Amy who's left speechless. There are a million things she could say–a million things she should say–but none of them feel right. None of them are right.
It won't happen again. Except if she did it once, who's to say she won't do it again.
I love you. But she knows that isn't enough. Not now. Not anymore.
I'm sorry. Only that's the biggest lie of them all, because she doesn't regret it.
The entire time, Rory just sits there with this look on his face. And it isn't the first time she thinks he deserves better than this. She knows he deserves better than this. She loves Rory–really, she does–and all he wants is their happily-ever-after, complete with a family and their own house in Leadworth. But she doesn't think she can give him that anymore. She's not even sure there was a time where she could have.
A small, almost forced smile tugs at her lips. "Do I need to say it?"
Rory smiles sadly and it suddenly occurs to her that he looks defeated. She thinks that he might have known how this would play out the moment he walked into her bedroom. "No," he says at last. "I suppose not."
There are so many things she wants to say, so many things she needs to tell him–I will never forget you. You deserve better than this. I never meant to hurt you. I do love you. Forgive me. Thank you–except she's never been particularly good at expressing her emotions. So she leans over and kisses him once; softly and gently.
When she pulls back his cheeks are wet and her vision's blurred, but she knows he understands; she sees it in his stupid face. Rory tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear and kisses away a fallen tear. "You were always meant to do bigger things than Leadworth, Amy."
She doesn't know how to answer him, so she doesn't. They sit there in silence for some time, neither quite sure of where to go now. In the end, it's Rory who moves. He stands up and turns to go. He doesn't say anything until he reaches the door. His eyes remain forward and he doesn't turn to look back at her. And it's sort of funny in that same stupid, mad way, because she thinks it probably shouldn't end like this. There should be all sorts of shouting and screaming and cursing and crying. That there should be some sort of royal bang, ya know? But there isn't. Instead it all comes to an end with a single, gentle whisper.
"Live well, Amy."
And then he leaves.
For the first time in her life, Rory Williams leaves.
She isn't sure how long she stays there, sitting on her bed, after that. She doesn't even know if it's because she doesn't want to move or because she physically can't. And so many bloody emotions flood through her that she doesn't even know how to feel. So she just sits there.
And, after a moment–a moment that feels like twelve years and a few breaths–she finally gathers herself together. She stands up, Jack's card in hand.
At four thirty a.m. on the day that was meant to be her wedding, Amy makes a phone call.
Jack doesn't answer immediately. In fact, it's only when she thinks it will switch to the answer phone that he picks up. "Hello?"
There's a pause. "Amy? Amy Pond? Is that you?"
He chuckles. "And here I was thinking you'd forgotten about me."
"Why? Just because I didn't call you the next morning? My God, you're such a girl." She grins, even though she knows he can't see her. He laughs some more and Amy waits until he's done before she continues, her voice a bit more serious this time. "Do you remember what you said to me the last time we met?"
She half expects him to make some sort of flirty joke that almost avoids the topic all together, but he doesn't. "Of course," he answers instead.
"Well, now what?"
He pauses for a moment. "Are you serious?"
"I'm calling, aren't I?"
"I mean it, Amy. You have to be sure. Once you do this, there's no going back."
She doesn't answer at first. She bites her lip for a moment, the thought lingering. Except when she tries to imagine returning to Leadworth, she realises that she can't. She can't see herself going back and sitting around living that life. She needs more than that. Because Jack was right, because Rory is right: she's meant for so much more.
She can practically hear his grin over the phone. "In that case, how soon can you get here?"
"That depends. How long will it take for you to let me in?"
Amy rolls her eyes. "Look out the window, moron."
He doesn't answer her, but she hears him shuffling about. After a minute or so, his window blinds open and his face appears. She grins and waves at him from the street.
"Well," he smiles down at her, "that was quick."
"It was a quick decision."
"Do you make a lot of those?"
"Yeah, usually do. Got a problem with that?"
"Not at all," he laughs. "I'll be right down. Oh, and Amy Pond?"
"Welcome to Torchwood."
Amy only grins.
She can't wait.
Cause our time is worth something bigger…
I can't live my life always backing down
All Signs Point to Lauderdale, A Day To Remember