He does not know when they imploded.
They were two chemicals; neither one strong enough to collide and sustain, their proximity dangerously enticing. They fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Magnetic at first glance, but poisonous to the touch.
They combusted in the blink of an eye.
He re-enters the diner and he is struck by her immediately. They circle like creatures on the hunt, spellbound by the mere existence of one another. Ghosts dance in her eyes; ghosts of something that has settled deep in her heart, something he cannot control. Her voice is pure fragility, as fine as glass and threatening to ruin her at any moment. She's unnerved, that much is clear, but there is so much that is not. She is the one book he cannot read, the one mystery he cannot solve. Part of him wonders why she seems so distant to him, like a long-forgotten memory, faded at the edges. She is here, she is whole and she is very much Amy Pond. But it feels wrong, and he cannot pinpoint his reasoning. He pulls her in and holds her and hopes that they heal together. He is unnerved too.
The nanorecorder, which had been casting out her terrified sobs, now projects silence, and he turns his back to his work on the suit. Her voice comes flowing out strongly with the comfort of an old friend, unwavering and solid. She professes of her love dropping from the sky and he wants to call out for her. There is so much that he wants, that even he cannot comprehend it all. The words she speaks freeze him in his place and swell in his heart. He must not let himself hope. No, there is too much risk in that. But there the proof is, the words pouring from her lips in some faraway place and unbeknownst to her, filling him with more faith than she would ever be able to comprehend. As he stands, he deliberates her words. He dreams.
She waits at the top of the stairs with her husband, eyes boring into his neck as he forces his gaze at the screen. He is all too aware that she is watching, but he can't bring himself to look. He had very narrowly escaped bringing her world crashing down again, and he feels more shame than he can bear. Despite everything he does to her, she stays and the blows keep coming. He calls her by name - Amelia, the name he knows he'll always have a soft spot for - and she notices. He does it when he worries and she knows it. Their stares lock and make his simple words deeper than he'd ever intended them to be.
The makeshift TARDIS materialises in a familiar old place - his old console room. He stumbles up from the machinery and sees her, clinging onto a coral beam for dear life and her eyes flash as she sees him too. She lets go and flings herself towards him, arms grasping at his jacket as she holds him close. Her hands cling to every available piece of fabric, holding on tight enough to rip holes. For the first time in what feels like forever, he understands what's racing through her mind. They both dread the thought of this having turned out any other way. They coexist. They breathe. They are alive.
He hasn't felt this sick in as long as he can remember. He gazes down at the dormant substance in the tubs, his stomach sinking at what he knows. His worst fears have been confirmed. An ache fills his head and he closes his eyes as the conversation continues around the room; words he does not and cannot hear. He wonders if, wherever she is, she can hear. He wonders if she is conscious and he ponders how afraid she must be. Why her touch felt so distant is obvious to him now and, as far as he can tell, nobody else has noticed. He holds himself back from everything he wants, but there is so, so much that he does want. He wants to demand answers from these people. He wants answers from Rory and from the woman who stands on the other side of the fluid. He wants the real her.
She clutches at her stomach and allows herself a wail of pain as she doubles over. Her husband is beside her, holding her up and whispering words of comfort, none of which will do her any good. He is torn between being furious and wanting to hold her himself. He wants to be the one cooing in her ear and rubbing her shoulder, promising her everything will be fine. But even this woman is not his. Rory lets her go and she turns to him, her face full of terror and pain. The person in front of him had put her faith in him, but had made one vital mistake.
She was not Amy Pond.
He wrenches his hand from her now cold grasp and raises his sonic screwdriver to eye level as her lips begin to quiver. He cannot let himself falter now. A shrill buzz fills the room and with a heavy thud, what remains of the being piles to the ground.
Somewhere far away, in deep space, Amy Pond wakes up.
The reason for all of this sits in front of his path, empty eyes unfocused and glazed. It had been a trap, all of it, and he'd been too stupid to see. Too concentrated on his minimal victory; his reclaiming of the girl who waited. Too blind to see that the one thing connecting her to her real life all this time was stolen from under her nose: her precious, irreplaceable only child. The child that was hers with no warning and no options, but a child she held dear with every fibre of her being. Gone. And she is as destroyed as she should be. There is so much he could tell her, but nothing that would make it right. He is a ghost of a man as he moves to her, and she is a shell of a woman as she backs away.
And then he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their days are numbered.
He drags himself along the cold glass of the console room floor, every cell in his body aching and screaming for death. Eyes search desperately for an escape, but it is in vain - it is impossible to stop the racing poison. As though answering his silent mental pleas, she is suddenly there with him, exactly as she was when they first met. He begs for her mercy, her help, anything to ease his pain. All it takes is four words: words that send him back to that very first night and put the joy back in his soul. They pierce the ominous silence with a sharpness and that's all it takes. He can do this - he can be brave for her.
He hides the TARDIS screen from her, ensuring she does not know what he does. He has known for quite some time that she knows of his fate, but the fact that he knows as well has escaped her. It has been said that it is a fixed point in time, something that cannot be avoided, but he can sure as hell try. He knows every exact detail - the place, the date, the time. He can do it. But whatever he decides to attempt, she cannot know. If he rewrites time, he rewrites everything, and she would never let him do that. She would not understand - he'd be doing this for her. He could rescue her sooner and he could turn back the clock on everything he's done. He smiles at her to ease her worries. Hecouldfixher.
She slams aged fists against the wood of the doors, screaming out his name and reminders of broken promises. Itrustedyou, she wails. Itrustedyou. But he knows that better than anyone else, and he thinks about it as he attempts to concentrate himself on the console. He is a massive trap on his own, he realises. He wills people to trust him, to forget everything and run away with him, only to ruin them. Flying away immediately will solve all of this, but it no matter the choice they make, it will not be easy. Outside those doors and within his earshot stands another Amy Pond, this one heartbroken and lonely beyond repair.
Real and fake, he has destroyed every Amy Pond he has ever come across.
She stands directly in front of him with swollen eyes and tears on her cheeks. She does not yet understand why he is doing this, but she will with time - she needs to. Maybe he has been blind, he thinks as she grasps his neck firmly and pulls him towards her, the closeness of her body consuming his every thought. She must understand now. He has grown accustomed to her usual warmth, and is startled when he cannot find it. When he hears her swallow back tears, regret holds him hostage. He buries his face in her shoulder and allows himself to whimper, just for a split second, praying to any and every deity that she does not hear. He wants to remember her like this, her closeness, the feel of her hands holding them together, the scent of her tumbling hair…. not the girl he knows she will become once he is gone.
Trembling hands move to his hair and the back of his neck and he is lost.
He is not sure how one would completely classify what he did. To fake your own demise to escape death is a large feat on its own - one that is both brave and cowardly at the same time. To deceive your loved ones into believing it is another thing entirely. He can fill himself with as much self-loathing as he desires, but he knows, in a way, he is saving what is left of her. She is free without him; free from the risk of getting too close, and free of the one that will only hurt her.
He considers himself a terribly selfish being, one that takes only for his own gain and doesn't realise what he's done until it's all too late. He can't let her be next. Keeping her is the most dangerous thing he could ever do. He has to let her go. And truthfully, that is the most selfless thing he could ever do.
He recalls that he once told her, so long ago, how life was for him. How he could no longer see the true wonder and beauty of the universe any longer, and then he had found her. The one with a fire in her heart and hair to match.
When she saw things, she truly saw them: the crimson stars and silent stars, the complexity of nebulas and the whole glorious universe. She was amazed and stunned akin to a small child, enchanted by the thought of what else existed beyond her range of sight and beyond her understanding. He had seen it all before, but with her, it was all brand new again. She had the magic to bring it to life and make it just as astounding as it had been on day one. Together they can both be young, dashing around like nothing matters. Everything is buried and they run.
He later travels to the deepest parts of space, where silence is calm and there is no threat. He looks out at the impossibility and tries to think of what she would have thought.
He can't see it anymore.
A/N: Felt like doing a bit of a companion piece to See How Deep The Bullet Lies! I hope this makes sense, because my thoughts have become a bit jumbled lately...