Author's note:

The way this turned out bothers me a little because I've got the main focus of the end of "The God Complex" all wrong. And the stuff with River is right out. It's a lot of…weirdness. But please review if you find some goodness in the thoughts here.

Inspired by "I always liked Ron best too" by eriphi and this picture:

hellyeahamypond . tumblr post /10767998158 /you-wont-forget-me-peter-will-you-before

In memory of Mr. Barrie, who took me flying before the Doctor did.


It need not be said who was the captain. Rory and Amy were the first and second mate. The Doctor calculated, after consulting the ship's chart, that if this weather lasted they should strike Rio about the twenty-first of June—or they could save time and fly. Rory got a dozen for looking perplexed when told to take soundings.

The general feeling that the Doctor was honest just now lulled Amy's suspicions.

Instead of watching the ship, however, we must now return to that desolate home from which three of our characters had taken heartless flight so long ago. It seems a shame to have neglected the blue flat all this time, and yet we may be sure that no one blames us. So long as there is a lonely Time Lord, human children will take advantage of him.

Even now we venture into that unfamiliar flat only because its lawful occupants are on their way home; we are merely hurrying on in advance of them to see that the window is open, as it must always, always be. We are no more than servants. Why on earth should the window be open, seeing that they left in such a thankless hurry? Would it not serve them jolly well right if they came back and found the wrong time altogether?

While the planet slept, the TARDIS flew into the room, and Rory and Amy came out. They found the window open for them, which of course was more than they deserved. They alighted on the floor, quite unashamed of themselves, and the girl had already forgotten her home.

"Rory," she said, looking around her doubtfully, "I think I've been here before. Perhaps we don't remember the old life as well as we thought we did. Don't tell me: this isn't Earth and that isn't a real house."

The Doctor only said, "No. Real Earth. Real house. Real door keys."

"You're not serious," Amy said, but without much conviction. "We can't accept this."

"She'll say that we can't accept it because we'll always feel a crippling sense of obligation." He looked around the room and put his arm around the Doctor's shoulders. "It's a risk I'm willing to take."

With her first real twinge of remorse, Amy said, "It was quite time we came back. Let us slip into our bed and wake up just as if we had never been away."

There could not have been a lovelier sight, but there was none to see it except an immortal boy who was staring in at the window. He had had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know, but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be forever barred.

The Doctor saw Amy once again before he flew away. He did not exactly come to the window, but he brushed against it in passing so that she could open it if she liked and call to him. That is what she did.

"Hullo, Amelia Pond, goodbye," he said.

"Are you going away?"

"Yes."

Rory came to the window, for at present he was keeping a sharp eye on Amy. He told the Doctor that they would like him to stay.

"Would you send me to an office?" he inquired craftily.

"I suppose so."

"Soon I would be a man?"

"Doctor," said Amy the comforter, stretching out her arms to him, but he repulsed her.

"Keep back, lady. No one is going to catch me and make me a man."

"But where are you going to live?"

"In the TARDIS. I'm to put it high up among the treetops where the stars sleep at nights."

"How lovely," cried Amy so longingly that Rory tightened his grip.

"I thought all the stars were dead," Rory said.

"There are always a lot of young ones," explained Amy, who was now quite an authority.

"I shall have such fun," said the Doctor, with eye on Amy.

"It will be rather lonely in the evening," she said, "sitting by the console."

"It doesn't matter," the Doctor said.

"Doctor, you know it matters."

"Well, then, come with me."

"I can't," said Amy, looking at Rory. "We've got home again, and we mean to stay."

"Oh, all right," the Doctor said, as if he had asked from politeness merely, but Rory saw his mouth twitch, and he made this handsome offer: to let Amy go to him for a week every year to do his spring cleaning.

Amy would have preferred a more permanent arrangement, and it seemed to her that spring would be long in coming, but this promise sent the Doctor away quite happy again. He had no sense of time and was so full of adventures that all I have told you about him is only a halfpenny-worth of them.

"Maybe there's a bigger, scarier adventure waiting for you in there," he told Amy.

"Even so, can't be anything like this." It was because Amy knew this that her last words to him were these rather plaintive ones:

"You won't forget me, Doctor, will you, before spring cleaning time comes?"

Of course the Doctor promised; and then he flew away.

Rory was with Amy when the Doctor came for her at the end of the first year. She flew away with the Doctor in the nightie from the first time she went—second to the right, straight on till morning, or wherever struck their fancy—and her one fear was that he might notice how short it had become, but he never noticed; he had so much to say about himself.

She had looked forward to thrilling talks with him about old times, but new adventures had crowded the old ones from his mind.

"I forget them after I kill them," he replied carelessly. "There are such a lot of them."

She was amazed—but the Doctor lies. Amy was pained too to find that the past year was yesterday to the Doctor; it had seemed such a long year of waiting to her. But he was exactly as fascinating as ever, and they had a lovely spring cleaning in the TARDIS.

Next year he did not come for her. She waited in a new nightgown because the old one simply would not meet, but he never came.

"What happened? What's he doing?" Rory said.

"He's saving us."

Rory came close to her and whispered, with a shiver, "Perhaps he needs us to save him, Amy"—and then Amy would have cried if Rory had not been crying.

The Doctor came next spring cleaning, and the strange thing was that he never knew he had missed a year. "I can't take you this time," he said, looking as if he was going to die. "There's nothing I can do to stop what's coming."

"What?"

"I stole your childhood and now I've led you by the hand to your death. But the worst thing is I knew. I knew this would happen. This is what always happens. Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you, glorious Pond. The Girl Who Waited for me. I'm not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. And it's time we say each other as we really are. Amy Williams. It's time to stop waiting."

That was the last time the girl Amelia ever saw him. The years came and went without bringing the careless boy; and when they met again Amy was a married woman, and the Doctor was no more to her than the toys she'd made of him. Amy Williams was grown up.

But Amy and Rory Williams had a daughter. This ought not to be written in ink but in a golden splash.

She was called Melody and sometimes River and always had an odd inquiring look, as if from the moment she arrived she wanted to ask questions. When she was old enough to ask them they were mostly about the Doctor. She loved to hear of the Doctor, and Amy and Rory told her all they could remember.

It was Amy's turn to put River to bed. That was the time for stories. It was River's invention to raise the sheet over her mother's head and her own, thus making a tent, and in the awful darkness to whisper:

"What do we see now?"

"I don't think I see anything tonight," said Amy.

"Yes, you do," said River. "You see when you were a little girl."

"That's a long time ago," said Amy. "How time flies!"

"Does it fly," asked the artful child, "the way you flew when you were a little girl?"

"Do you know, Melody, I sometimes wonder whether I ever did really fly."

"Yes, you did."

"Then time flew exactly the way I flew."

"Why can't you fly now, Mum?"

"Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way."

"Why do they forget the way?"

"Because they are no longer happy and innocent and heartless. It is only the happy and innocent and heartless who can fly with the Doctor."

"What is happy and innocent and heartless? I wish I were happy and innocent and heartless."

Perhaps Amy admitted she did see something. They now embarked on the great adventure of the night when the Doctor flew in looking for the Crack in her wall. River now knew the story better than her mother. "When you saw him in the box, what did he say?"

"He looked into my torchlight and he said, 'Can I have an apple?'"

"Yes, that was it," said River, with a big breath.

"And then he flew Daddy and me away to the stars in his time ship, and we saw the prisoners and the free and the weeping angels and the demons' run."

"Yes! Which did you like best of all?"

"I think I liked the time ship best of all."

"Yes, so do I. What was the last thing the Doctor ever said to you?"

"The last thing he ever said to me was, 'Just always be waiting for me, and then some night you will hear wind where there is none.'"

"Yes."

"But he forgot all about me." Amy said it with a smile. She was as grown up as that.

"What did his ship sound like?" River asked one evening.

"It was like this," Amy said, trying to imitate the TARDIS's whoosh.

"No, it wasn't," River said gravely. "It was like this." And she did it ever so much better than her mother.

Amy was a little startled. "Darling, how can you know?"

"I often hear it when I'm sleeping," River said.

That night came the tragedy. It was the spring of the year, and after the story had been told, River was asleep in her bed. Amy was sitting on the floor, very close to the fire; and while she sat she heard wind. Then the window blew open as of old, and the Doctor tumbled in.

He was exactly the same as ever, and Amy saw at once that he still had his bowtie. He was a little boy, and she was grown up. She huddled by the fire not daring to move, helpless and guilty, a big woman.

"Hullo, Amelia," he said, not noticing any difference, for he was thinking chiefly of himself; and in the dim light her white dress might have been the nightgown in which he had seen her first.

"Hullo, Doctor," she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying "Woman, Woman, let go of me."

"Is Rory asleep?" he asked, with a careless glance at River.

"Yes," she answered, and now she felt that she was untrue to River as well as to the Doctor.

"That is not Rory," she said quickly, lest a judgment should fall on her.

The Doctor looked. "Hullo, is it a new one?"

"Yes."

"Boy or girl?"

"Girl."

Now surely he would understand, but not a bit of it.

"Doctor," she said, faltering, "are you expecting me to fly away with you?"

He said a little sternly, "Have you forgotten that this is spring cleaning time?"

She knew it was useless to say that he had let many spring cleaning times pass.

"I can't come," she said apologetically. She rose, and now at last a fear assailed him.

"What is it?"

"I will turn up the light," she said, "and then you can see for yourself."

She let her hands play in the hair of the tragic boy. She was not a little girl heartbroken about him; she was a grown woman smiling at it all, but they were wet-eyed smiles.

Then she turned up the light, and the Doctor saw. He gave a cry of pain; and when the tall beautiful creature stooped to lift him in her arms he drew back sharply.

"I am old, Doctor. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago. The little girl in the bed is my baby."

"No, she's not."

But he supposed she was; and he took a step towards the sleeping, breathing child silently for a long time. Amy did not know how to comfort him, though she could have done it so easily once. She was only a woman now, and she ran out of the room to try to think. She came back with an apple with a face on it, but the Doctor threw it down on the bed and woke River.

She sat up in bed and was interested at once. "Hullo," she said, turning on her torch and shining it on him.

"Hullo," said the Doctor. "My name is the Doctor."

"Yes, I know."

"I came back for my companion," he explained, "to take her to the stars."

"Yes, I know," River said. "I have been waiting for you."

He looked at the end of her bed at a red and white face. "Can I have an apple?"

Amy watched the Doctor show her the TARDIS outside the window, where she could learn to fly. River, in her nightie, opened the window in solemn ecstasy.

"She is my companion," the Doctor explained, and River stood by his side with the look in her face that he liked to see on ladies when they gazed at him.

"He does so need a companion," River said.

"Yes, I know," Amy admitted rather forlornly.

"Goodbye, Amy," said the Doctor to Amy, and the TARDIS rose in the air, and the shameless River rose with it; it was already her easiest way of moving about.

Amy rushed to the window. "No, no," she cried.

"It is just for spring cleaning time," River said. "He wants me always to do his spring cleaning."

"If only I could go with you," Amy sighed.

"Look after Rory," the Doctor said.
"Look after you," she replied.

Of course in the end Amy let them fly away together. Our last glimpse of her shows her at the window, watching them receding into the sky until they were as small as a blue star.

As you look at Amy, you may see her red hair becoming white, and her figure little again, for all this happened long ago. And every spring cleaning time, except when he forgets, the Doctor comes for River and takes her to the stars, where she tells him stories about himself, to which he listens eagerly. And thus it will go on, so long as human children are happy and innocent and heartless.