It had all begun with a blue envelope.
It was probably nothing, he told himself. After all, millions of people in the universe used blue envelopes every day without it being him.
There was no way it wasn't him.
It was addressed solely to him and it had arrived when Amy was out. That might have been coincidental, but it might not have been and even if it was Amy was busy living her life and thinking about other things and oh, God, what mess would he get them into this time?
And so Rory had found himself alone outside of a tiny village art gallery in the middle of nowhere.
It could be nothing why an art gallery it was probably just junk mail what could he be up to in an art gallery it was all a misunderstanding this was going to be something ridiculous –
Someone was inside. Probably just the owner it's him isn't itwell, either way he had been seen looking and he had no choice now but to go inside.
He pushed open the door.
The man on the other side asked the same question at the same moment.
So, not him.
Wait, if it's not him then who –
"Who are you?" the stranger asked a moment before Rory had a chance to. Now that he heard the voice again, he realised that the man had an American accent.
"I'm Rory Williams. Who are you?"
"Captain Jack Harkness," the man introduced himself.
"Sorry, I was expecting –" Rory realised he didn't need to say anything more. The man had asked the same question. Who was he?
The answer seemed obvious and impossible. Rory knew he and Amy hadn't been the only ones to take that journey, to see the TARDIS. So perhaps they weren't the only ones still waiting for one more envelope in the mail…
"The Doctor?" The Captain asked. "You… know him?"
How to describe it?
"We've met. It's… complicated."
"Isn't it?" Harkness laughed. "But sometimes, it can be simple too."
Something occurred to Rory. Something important. The Doctor might not be here but it was important to check.
"Sorry, but when are you from?"
Another laugh. "You're good. You know, I almost think you'd believe me if I told you. But it's probably best if I just say 'around.'"
Okay, perhaps he should have phrased that better.
"I meant when are you from on his timeline?" Rory explained.
Harkness sighed. "Also, around."
He glanced at something on the wall, and Rory followed his gaze. it was one of the paintings in the gallery. At first, it didn't look like anything much – a street corner. But there was something more, and he looked a little longer, and he saw it.
Just an outline. Nothing you would see if you hadn't seen it before, but the outline was enough.
A blue box, fading into nothing.
"He comes back."
"But first he leaves."
"And you wait."
And that was all it took to know. They had both been there.
"How long?" the American asked.
"Two thousand years."
Harkness laughed. "And I thought a couple of centuries was bad. You're older than he is! Well, I guess we're both older than we look."
"I had someone worth waiting for."
"So did I."
"Not him." Rory sighed. "Amy. My wife. She waits for him and I wait for her."
It occurred to him, too late, that he really should have spoken that last sentence in the past tense.
"Of course. There's always a girl."
If anything, Jack seemed to understand a little too well.
"She needed protecting, and it was up to me to do it."
"So you were her soldier. The Last Centurion."
Rory's expression said it all.
"Don't look so surprised. I investigated your case, once. Two thousand years on guard? There aren't many possibilities, and that one reeked of him."
"He leaves fingerprints all over history, if you know where to look." Amy had said something like that once. "We do too, don't we… Miracle Day?"
"Saw it on the news when we got back," Rory explained. "I could tell it wasn't him, but I didn't see why not."
"Sometimes -" Jack sighed. "Sometimes he doesn't arrive, and it's up to us."
"Perhaps the reason he doesn't is because we took care of it."
"I hope so." Jack's smile faded. "So. Another soldier."
Rory could feel his expression harden. "I'm a nurse."
"Not any more."
"It isn't something I stopped being."
But, Rory knew, it was no longer all he was.
"I just hate how it changed me," he admitted. "I didn't use to be like this but now I am and I know it's because of what happened when I was with him."
"You can't not be a soldier, around him."
Rory nodded. Even Amy had taken a few steps down that path. "He shows you everything. And you see – you see –"
"Something worth fighting for?"
"Something worth fighting against." So many things that needed someone to stand against them.
"He turns you into a fighter, whether you wanted to be one or not."
"And then he disapproves." That was the worst part. Knowing that some part of the Doctor was always looking down on him for being what the Doctor's world had made him into.
"Was that why you left?" Jack asked. "I mean, the Pandorica's gone now. You aren't the Last Centurion any more."
Rory shrugged. "It was too dangerous. We always knew it couldn't last forever."
Jack laughed. "Too dangerous. To each their own, I suppose."
"What about you?"
Jack's smile faded. "I got left behind, so I tried to find something new, but I never stopped looking. Only – the new thing seemed even better. When I found him again, I chose not to go. And then it all fell apart."
Rory didn't ask what he meant. He had travelled with the Doctor long enough to know that.
"I'm not sure there's anything left for me now," Jack admitted. "I keep hoping that I'll see him again, some day… and then this envelope arrived. TARDIS blue."
"I got one too." Rory admitted. "And last time I got one, it was from him."
"Is that something he does now?" Jack asked. "Or is it did then?"
"Well, how can you tell? He said he was nine hundred and seven when I met him, but I always wondered how he even kept count."
"That's after me, if he was telling the truth. Did he still wear that brown overcoat?"
Rory shook his head. "He likes bow ties now. He says they're cool."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "That's definitely new."
Rory thought a better way of telling. "Did you ever meet River Song?"
"River Song?" Jack shook his head.
"She's my daughter… except she's older than me… unless you count alternate timelines… like I said, it's complicated." Rory explained. "But I think you would have met her. She did marry him, after all."