A Bad Man Goes To War
I'm not a good person anymore, if I actually ever was. I might've been- people said I was, and I was a nurse and they're meant to be good- but these days I know I'm not. My wife's been kidnapped and imprisoned and she's probably going through hell and all I can think about is myself- me, me, me, every five seconds, even though the stuff that used to be Amy, sort of, is still on the floor. White sludgy stuff. You could slip and fall on it.
He wiped her out right in front of me, did our Doctor. Only after that did he explain things. That's always been his way, and I hate it, but I shouldn't, he's saved us countless times. He's Amy's Doctor. And far more hers than mine.
There's a baby, he said, they'll want the baby. Amy's baby...your baby. But we'll save her, we'll save them both, don't worry, Rory, don't worry.
But I do worry.
Oh God, that's when it all kicked in, my stupidity. It started with a baby. When Amy thought she was pregnant, she told the Doctor and not me. I remember. I remember hearing Amy's voice coming from my pocket- it was the recorder, the one they took from her. I took it out and listened and I shouldn't have, no-one likes an eavesdropper-
-I thought I was going to hear it, Amy telling the Doctor that the phantom baby would have been his. But I didn't hear that, nothing of the sort, and I felt terrible. Like I'd accused her of some terrible crime, which I suppose I had. And now there really is a baby, and it's mine, unless it's not, because someone wants it, and the Doctor's being pretty cagey about why, and what the hell am I if I don't trust my wife, my wife who's done nothing wrong. What the hell am I?
Anyway, I'm all dressed up, all gold and blood-red, channeling a man from the past. A bad man from the past, the kind who raided and burned and killed. And I hate it, and I hate what I'm becoming, and I'm scared. I just want Amy back, Amy and the baby. No matter what she's done, I'll still love her. I don't think I ever couldn't. And I'll love the baby. I might even do already. I don't care if it isn't mine.
But I shouldn't think that it's not mine. I shouldn't think Amy cheated on me. I shouldn't watch the Doctor and wonder if he'll destroy me, and I shouldn't do that all the time. I'm not a legend, that's the Doctor's job. Or maybe I am a legend, because most legends weren't all that nice.
Back in the olden days, I saw someone get crucified. I told Amy, but I glossed over some details, because...there was no way to talk about them. But I saw someone be killed in the most horrific way imaginable and I did nothing about it. It's one of the memories pushed behind the door, and I hoped it would never come out. That I'd never have to face it again.
Now it's out from the back of my mind, dragged into the present day, and I remember everything about it. The cries and the screaming. The creaking of the wood. The exact colour of the blood after it'd been there a week. And I didn't do a thing- I talked, I talked to other people, I told them it was wrong, I ran off somewhere and threw up (not an uncommon occurrence, apparently) but I didn't actually do anything. I just shouted. And while the Doctor can change the world with one shout, I can't.
So someone died and I didn't save them.
The Roman era was no place for anyone sane. I saw decimations and stonings and murder. People tried to murder me, occasionally, when I wouldn't give up the Pandorica. Did I kill anyone? I wonder. I wounded people, I cut off a man's hand, but...I don't know if they died of their wounds or not. A part of me thinks it doesn't matter now, and I hate that part of me.
In the late Tudor era I saw a woman almost die from blood loss, because her husband accused her of adultery and tried to murder her. No-one would help me. They stared at me while I was working on her, wondering why I was bothering. They might have been bad people, or they might have been misguided. And here I am thinking about Amy with the Doctor, being afraid, being stupid, being misguided, and being wrong. I don't know if history made me into a bad man, or if it was going to turn out like that either way.
I found our baby, rescued her, and I felt simultaneously the best and the worst that I'd ever felt in my life. The best because she was my baby and she was beautiful. The worst because Amy was still locked up, there were still people out there who wanted to kill us, and there'd been a nasty jealous monster inside me for so long.
"I'm your father," I told the baby. "I'm sorry I wasn't there to see you born."
"I don't know your name yet, but I expect your mother will. Let's go get her."
We walked. Well, I walked, holding her. We passed the occasional soldier running in the other direction- and these were alien soldiers, and neither of us batted an eyelid- and we came to a big window which looked out onto the asteroid. It was desolate but beautiful, and the baby reached out a hand for it, squeaking.
"It's lovely, isn't it?" I said. "It'll be all yours some day." I don't know why I said that.
We carried on. It felt so wrong, to have a sword at my side and a baby in my arms. I started feeling better about being a good swordsman when I saw how good Amy was with hers, but I'd rather not have it. Swords are cool, as the Doctor would say. They are. And I hate that I don't feel worse when I'm holding it in my hand.
Our baby was called Melody, after our best friend from school. Amy confirmed that during a few minutes alone. "Maybe we can ask Mels to be godmother," I said.
"Yeah," Amy said brightly, "she'll see that she stays out of trouble." We both laughed. It felt good.
I remembered our reunion in the prison room. Amy looked so beautiful, and everything seemed almost perfect again, but looking at the white walls and the medical equipment...I thought about another life. Not a life without the Doctor, not a life without travel, because I'd never do that to Amy. But a life where we were in a hospital instead of a prison, where the Doctor was our friend instead of our saviour, where our baby wasn't going to grow up, probably, hunted.
Me and Amy wandered about among our new friends. Melody was crying. Strax offered to feed her, but the image was so bizzare I told him no. I don't think he was particularly hurt. I'd heard of the Sontarans and met a couple, nursing really, really wasn't their instinct. I was wondering whether to ask Amy if she knew what his story was when the Doctor reappeared.
He'd dug out a cot from somewhere. I knew just by looking at it that it was his. Had been his.
"Do you have children?" Amy asked him.
"No," said the Doctor, and I looked into his eyes.
"Have you ever had children?" Amy persisted. The Doctor didn't answer, and I looked at Melody and I felt sick. Sometimes I think that was the moment I knew we were going to lose her. It sounds stupid. But thousand-year immortals, girls who rewrite the world, men from out of fairytales, they don't get to keep their children.
Amy started talking to the Doctor about her kidnapping- I knew she'd long learned not to press the issue when it came to the Doctor's children- and I thought of how it must have been for her to wake up about to go into labour. Like...an animal or something. I'd seen people giving birth at the hospital. I'd looked in at proud mothers and beaming fathers and I'd thought, that'd be me one day. Amy had always said she wanted kids- "It sounds like fun," she said once- and now-
"Centurion, permission to hug?" the Doctor asked. I didn't like being called centurion, so I answered with what was probably a joke. He hugged her and I thought of some far-off place. Somewhere nice and green, where a baby could grow up in peace. No armies raised to steal a mother. No terrible things inside white rooms. No horrors for the Doctor to bring crashing on our doorstep...
"They must have taken you a while back," the Doctor said to Amy, "Just before America."
"That's probably enough hugging now," I said, and I instantly felt bad about it. It wasn't even exactly jealousy- it was born out of fear and irritation. I don't get angry at the Doctor anymore, but I felt fear for our baby and irritation that the Doctor had done this- he was hugging the woman who'd been used as a tool against him, she woke up in a tube because of him, and he'd never apologised or anything.
Amy didn't seem annoyed, which was good. The last thing she needs is me messing things up.
"So her flesh avatar was with us all this time," I said, "but that means they were projecting a control signal right into the TARDIS. Wherever we were in time and space."
"Yes," the Doctor said, "they're very clever."
"Who are?" asked Amy.
"Whoever wants our baby," I said. The Doctor was sort of grinning and I was pretty sure this was another adventure to him, or it was now. He'd forget them eventually, all these moments like this one, he'd probably remember Amy and he might remember me but he wouldn't remember the little things, like the fear in my eyes, like the happiness in Amy's...
"You always hold out on us," Amy said. Maybe I was wrong about the happiness. She was scared too. "It's our baby. Tell us something, just one little thing."
"It's mine," the Doctor said. For a second I was plunged into a nightmare.
"The cot," the Doctor said, and I suspected he was punishing me a little, for breaking up the hug. I supposed I had it coming really. "It's my cot. I slept in there." He wandered off, and me and Amy looked over the cot. I tried to imagine a baby Doctor and I couldn't.
Amy pulled out the prayer leaf that girl had given her. I looked at it, looked at my daughter, thought about the future-
When the future ended, it was Amy who got the worst of it, she was always made to suffer the most.
"She melted in my arms!" she screamed, and it was the worst moment of my life, worse than the crucifixion, even worse than the moment I shot Amy. "She's gone, Rory, she's gone!"
I think I was sick, a bit, on the pristine white floor. Amy turned her sobbing face to the thing that used to be Melody. "I'll kill them," she said. "I don't care what the Doctor says, I'll kill them all." I agreed with her, I agreed with her utterly. Both of us crying, we made it back to the main room.
Jenny, the girl from the past (even though I'd lived through her era, I still thought of it as the past) took Amy aside. I trusted her, I don't know why. Jenny was holding her when the Doctor burst in, screaming. He'd realised the same time we did.
"Yeah, we know," I told him bitterly. I almost hated him. I don't know if I did. Sometimes I felt like to hate him would be hating Amy. But the baby was gone, and Amy was crying. Jenny was stroking her back. Looking at Jenny, I wondered if she'd lost a child. I knew people did, a lot, in the Victorian era. I knew that because I was there.
Lost a child. We'd lost her.
Strax was dying too. One of the Monks had got him. I'd seen people die before, lots of them, in the hospital and in history, but never a Sontaran. Up until now they'd just been generic aliens.
"It's strange," he said to me. "I have always dreamed of dying in combat. I'm not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped."
I said something pointless.
"It's all right," he said. "I've had a good life, I'm nearly twelve."
I knew nothing about the aging of Sontarans, but all I could think of now was oh god, another dead child. Lorna, the girl who helped Amy, looked pretty close to death as well. All the horrific things in the world seemed to be converging in this place.
"You'll be back on your feet in no time," I said, trying to make him believe it. "You're a warrior."
"Rory," he said, and I had had no idea he even knew what my real name was, "I'm a nurse." Then, after a moment, he died. I just sat there wishing I'd said so am I. Except I knew why I hadn't said it, because I wasn't one anymore.
The Doctor had been watching me. I wonder if he would have said to the poor dying man, I'm like you, I'm a doctor. Except he was no healer and he knew it. I didn't speak to him, I couldn't, I would have screamed. He went to Amy.
"So they took her anyway. All this was for nothing," Amy said tearfully. The Doctor went to hug her, but she backed away. I went to her instead, wondering if for the Doctor, a hug was the closest thing he could ever give to an apology. I wondered if he watched me with jealousy, I wondered if he wanted to break us up. That's enough apologies now.
The Doctor went to talk to Lorna. I held Amy tight.
"Rory, do you hate him?" she half-whispered, half-sobbed.
"No," I said.
"I can't, I can't hate him, he's still fighting, he can do it," she whispered. "He's done so much. I'm sure he can..."
"I don't hate him," I said again. Hating the Doctor would be like hating God, but then again that was nothing new for most people. "We'll find her. We'll take her home. To the TARDIS," I said quickly, "Or to Leadworth, whatever one you want. We can raise her."
Amy buried her head in my shoulders. I looked over and saw Lorna die. Everything went pretty quiet after that. The Doctor was shouting something, and then River was there.
River! I'd almost forgotten about her. She was behaving so oddly the last time I saw her.
"Last time I saw her," I whispered to Amy, "she was sort of weird."
"What do you mean?"
"She told me we'd met, and she just...looked at me. Like I was someone she actually cared about."
"She does care about us," Amy said.
Melody took us to Leadworth. It was night and it was cold.
"It isn't over," she told us firmly. "You'll see me again, and soon."
"And the baby?" Amy asked. She'd been through so much I was amazed she was still standing.
Melody smiled sadly. "It's not like anyone remembers being a baby."
Amy gave a little shudder. "Will the Doctor fix it?"
"Yes," Melody answered. And then, she looked at me. "Dad."
"Melody," I said. "Don't go."
"No," Amy echoed. "Don't."
"I have to," Melody said. "But it's okay. You've got things to do. Go and see your own parents. Go and see your friend Mels."
"What's Mels got to do with it?" Amy demanded. "Please, stay here!"
But she stepped away and looked at us. "Amy. Rory. You are very good parents," she said. "Don't forget that." And then she was gone.
We stood in the cold for so long. Amy turned to me. "Tell me this isn't a dream."
"No. It's not. We really had a baby and that's really her." Now I felt like crying. "We've got to go home."
"I won't be able to live properly, Rory, not while-" She swiped at her tears. "I didn't have a childhood! In one world, in one world that feels extremely real, I didn't have a childhood! Not really, no parents, just aunts and psychiatrists and other kids mocking me. And now she doesn't get a childhood either." She grabbed my hand, and started walking.
"She said we were good parents," I said hopefully. Amy nodded just a little. Then we went down the road, childless. The real war had just begun.