Author's note: This takes place in an AU established by my other fic, Earth To, but it's not necessary to read that one in order to understand it. Basically, after Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, Amy convinces him not to go and pick up Rory. You can hope to see the next chapter in a couple of weeks!
I guess it's also worth noting that this started out as a very silly idea and became something... else.
"Are you shagging River?"
It's a question uttered so plainly and without provocation, he acts as if he's misheard her.
"Am I snagging what?"
She shakes her head, and swallows a mouthful of relkurt (sounds exotic but it's just a 30th century burger, honestly) then grins across at him.
Relkurt calls the tenth moon of Quatar-2 home, and that's where they are right now, sitting under the vast glass ceiling of an Earth colony bio-dome, with the purple, sandy exterior landscape as a backdrop for Amy's small feast. The dunes, in shades of mauve and taupe, are like something out of an impressionist watercolor. The word she comes up with for it is "otherworldly", but she quickly realizes that's self-evident.
The Doctor doesn't eat. Ever, it seems. He is, she thinks simply, weird.
"I asked if you're shagging River."
His brow ascends, his eyes widen, and he stares at her.
She giggles, bemused. "What? Is it because I said shag?" She lowers her voice and leans slightly across the table. "Are you and River intimately involved?"
The Doctor leans back in his chair and eyes her, his face now scrunching comically. "That's a bit private, don't you think?"
"We're friends!" She drags a 30th century chip, a relkat, along the side of her plate, sopping up some stray mustard. Surprisingly, 30th century chips taste about the same as normal chips. "Friends talk about these things. Like, I can tell you that Rory and I—"
He yelps and clamps his hands over his ears. Amy just talks louder.
"—shag frequently." Defeated, his arms drop and he glares, and her tone returns to normal. Shagmust not have the same connotation here as it does on the motherplanet, because passersby hardly seem to notice the word being shouted at him. "Well, not nowadays, obviously, because I'm with you." The Doctor's gaze flies upwards at this, and she pauses for an instant, catching his look. "But we did, and plus, I've always had a really vivid imagination—"
"You can stop there," he says hastily.
Having embarrassed him enough for one day, Amy shrugs. "Have it your way. But I'm a creative dreamer." In a millisecond, her eyes slide down his person, too quickly for him to do anything other than toss her a curious, somewhat violated glance. "And I'll get the River thing out of you."
"Oh, of course." She bites off an ambitious bit of relkurt and begins to chew thoughtfully. Her eyebrows twitch skywards. "Always do."
At the top of a very tall tower in the center of the Red Desert on Upslion Andromedae C resides an Eogian monk. He is, they say, one of the great philosophical minds in the known universe—and the view isn't bad, either.
The Doctor desperatelywants to go. But religious law stipulates that a woman, to prevent any natural imbalance from infiltrating the sanctuary, must accompany each man who enters the tower.
Amy tells him it's an awful lot of stairs.
"Please." He takes her arm, pouting furiously. "Just for a bit. I came all the way here to see him."
"It took you ten seconds to get here with the TARDIS."
"She's been confiscated by the monks!"
"Temporarily. I love that they have a security line before you go in, it's just like an airplane."
He waves his free hand hopelessly at her. "Still! Traumatic experience!"
She gives him a clearly skeptical look. He shakes his head.
"Okay, okay—but please, Amy, I'll make it up to you—"
"So you'll owe me?" He nods. "Fine." With boyish enthusiasm, he starts to bounce in the tower's direction, an all-encompassing grin crinkling his face. "Wait!"
He stops, and turns back to her, suspicious. Amy smiles. Her news is unpromising, and he can tell.
"What?" he demands hesitantly.
"Twenty questions. Whatever I want. I'll ask them, you'll answer them, and you'll be truthful."
The Doctor appears to be scanning her with his eyes as he might scan an alien life form with the sonic, but to no avail. She's just standing there, smirkingat him. He doesn't have a clue what she's on about, and she likes it.
"Blackmail?" he inquires.
"Yep." Still smirking. He flinches, and takes a long step towards her, his gaze riddling.
"Twenty questions about what?"
The smirk turns to a grin. "Whatever I want."
After an extended, consternating pause on his end, he says, "Absolutely not. I'll find another woman."
"Okay," she replies, unfazed.
They both look around. They're still in the desert. There's nothing, aside from the monk sitting under an umbrella at the foot of the tower, examining the keys to the TARDIS with mild curiosity.
"Twenty questions?" asks the Doctor.
He groans—she laughs.
"Fine! Twenty questions, Amy Pond."
They settle in the privacy of the TARDIS library that night, in the middle of the massive floor space that now exists between the three-story walls of shelves, since the swimming pool wandered off. It's the pair of them facing one another on a plain of Persian rug, the fire crackling pleasantly and the record player scratching out a song Amy doesn't know, a slow, brassy number with all the hot trumpet you could ask for and a raspy female singer musing on the distance between her and her lover.
In an armchair opposite his, she tugs a slip of paper out of her pocket.
"What's that?" he asks, peering nervously at it.
"When did you find the time to do that?"
"When you were talking to the monk about custard." She gives him her most winning smile, and he frowns.
"This is beginning to come off as an interrogation, Pond."
Smiling still, she says quite plainly, "That's because it is." And she flattens the list against her thigh, clearing her throat. "Okay."
Question one: What kind of genitals do you have?
He continues to stare at her, expression unchanged, for a long beat. Then, finally: "Can you repeat the question?" She nods.
Question one: What kind of genitals do you have?
He shifts uncomfortably in his seat, trying to come to grips with the nature of the inquiry. "Amelia."
"What! All you've got to say is if you're like a human bloke or not." She shrugs, trying to look scientific about it, and continues in a brazen tone, "After I asked about River I thought maybe you were so shocked because you can't actually, you know, breed with humans. That you might be all smooth down there like a little boy dolly."
His whole body goes rigid, and he can barely choke out his protest for the shock. "I am not—all smooth—" Swallowing his indignation, he shakes his head. "If all the questions are going to be like this, then the deal is off," he proclaims, crossing his arms with a dramatic flourish.
"It's not a deal! You promised," she cries, sounding not unlike her eight-year-old self. They glower at each other.
With a heavy sigh, he concedes, and groans a little as he half-smushes his face into one of the cushions, muffling his reply. "Like a human bloke."
"Thank you!" She grins victoriously, and consults the list. "So, going off of that."
Question two: how does Time Lord sex work?
"Are they all about parts?"
"D'you mean are they all about sex?" she replies, gleeful in thwarting his attempts at childish subtlety.
"Yes." His expression seems to be wishing her harm.
She consults the list again. "About fifty percent parts, fifty percent other, I'd say."
"Joy," he mutters, and then hesitates. "Like… a human, again."
"Alright, so, in that case."
Question three: Are you shagging River?
"Not to my knowledge," he snaps.
This results in such a look of horror and amusement from Amy that he immediately explains himself.
"I don't know! I don't know who she is, and the River you met has already gotten to know me quite well—future me, that is—so how am I to know what she means to me or-" and he cringes, "what we may have done."
"I bet you did," gasps Amy, sitting forward, knuckles white on the armrests. "I bet you did, and it was filthy, and that's why she's all elevator eyes when she's around you. She doesn't even needher imagination. She's just remembering!"
The Doctor shrugs, and glares at the fireplace. It's too dark to really tell, but she thinks she sees the shadow of a blush creeping up his neck.
"Though in all fairness, I've elevator eyed you more than once," she muses. It gets a smirk out of him. "Oh, come off it. Nobody likes a bloody tease."
"Some people do." She chortles, and he sits up in offense. "Hey!"
Question four: Do you fancy her, then?
The answer is an egregious whine: "I don't know!"
"Again? You're useless, you are." She shakes her head reprovingly, and then reconsiders, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "But that's not a no, is it?"
The Doctor swings his gawky legs over one armrest and leans back against the other, muttering something darkly.
"I'll take that as a yes, then," she intones, flicking her notes smartly.
She's about to read the next question when he pipes up again out of nowhere. "No."
"No. I do not," he declares, looking squarely at the fireplace, unmoving. Amy rolls her eyes and shrugs, her nonchalance strictly designed, careful not to gaze with scrutiny, or anything, really, that might indicate her inquiries were motivated by an impulse deeper than curious immaturity.
"Okie doke." She licks her lips.
Question five: Have you ever slept with one of your traveling companions?
"Pond!" he cries, arms raised in pointless frustration.
"What, I saw the TARDIS pictures—nine hundred years surrounded by hot pieces, you must've caved sometime."
"Absolutely not." The fierceness of this statement procures yet another eye roll from Amy, and he huffs once, feathers ruffled.
"Yeah, well, I don't believe it," Amy replies frankly.
"I mean, I heard what Liz Ten said. You shagged Liz One and ran off. Only makes sense that you're a sex fiend," she says, with a matter-of-fact-ness usually reserved for the mean judge on singing reality shows.
He waves a hand dismissively, his brow still rumpled with annoyance. "That was a mess. There was telepathy involved, and some psychic memory manipulation, not the cleanest escape so the history books have got a thing or two wrong—but the point is that I didn't, and I wouldn't."
But, peering at him with her chin propped up by her fist and a winning smirk, she still looks entirely unconvinced. Seeing this, the Doctor's tongue loosens strangely, and he flails to prove himself as if his life depended on her not thinking of him as a lowlife cad.
"Just because I could, physically, biologically, doesn't mean I want to, or that—that I would ever betray someone in such a way, knowing full well that any sort of prolonged romantic or emotional attachment is doomed as a result of the fundamental difference in genetics that ultimately exists between myself and the people who travel with me, the humany versus Time Lordy parts. It would be unkind of me to subject anyone to that turmoil, let alone subject myself to it, time and time again."
It's silent for a long moment. Amy's not smirking anymore, at least.
"Nine hundred years and some baggage, then," she says quietly, finally.
"Hmph." He's looking at the fire again. She blinks a few times to regain composure, and then clears her throat. The turntable in the corner skips erratically, and, having nearly forgotten its presence, she turns to listen before going forward, waiting for the music to adjust and continue without stuttering syllables. And it does.
Question six: Have you ever been in love?
His far off gaze doesn't falter; he doesn't flinch. "Yes."
She nods once and moves on.
Question seven: What did you look like first?
"Excuse me?" he asks, squinting quizzically at her.
"Like..." Amy gathers her thoughts, glancing to the rafters. "You change bodies, yeah? But you had to have been born with a body, what did that look like? Like a baby?"
"I don't remember," he jokes, to an eye roll from her. "I was a boy, though."
"Bet you were a pain."
The previous tension seems forgotten, and the Doctor's playfulness hops giddily back into action. "Still am," he affirms proudly. Amy chuckles, and thinks of that good kind of hurt.
Question eight: Do you have a closet of tweed and bowties and boots or do you always wear the same ones?
Her face wrinkles with displeasure. "Gross."
"The TARDIS cleans them! Every night, when I'm sleeping." He strokes an armrest fondly, as if he were caressing the ship itself. "I put them in my closet, and when I wake up a couple of hours later, they smell fresh as space daisies!"
She has to choose which strange suggestion to force him to elaborate on—the fact that he only sleeps a couple of hours a night, the existence of space daisies, or—
Question nine: So what do your pajamas look like, then?
"What pajamas?" He grins. Amy laughs delightedly, bounding into her next question.
Have you ever seen Overboard?
She receives a puzzled expression. "The film?" he asks.
"Yes. With Goldie Hawn."
"I have. Why'd you want to know that?"
She shrugs. "It's my favorite movie."
A little smile tempts the outline of his mouth. "It's a good one."
Question ten: Do you—
"It's question eleven."
"No it's not!"
"Yes, it is. Nine was my pajamas, ten was Overboard, and this is number eleven."
She concedes with a glare. "Oh, fine, you."
Question eleven: Do you lick?
She raises a single fine, red eyebrow. He blushes hotly and squirms in his seat.
"Amy," he cautions, but she's unabashedly enjoying herself again.
"Just tell me." He snaps back to look at the fire.
"Why would you want to know that?" asks the Doctor mildly, not doing much to feign enthusiasm for the particulars of this conversation.
"Says a lot about a man," she retorts.
He continues to watch the fire, unfazed. Her jaw clenches, but a thought occurs to her, and she has to fight a smile.
"All right, then," she says. "It'll be a surprise." She glues her eyes to the paper expressionlessly, but she can feel him staring.
Question twelve: Where does the food in the kitchen come from?
He recovers from her last devastating comment quicker than she'd have guessed. "The TARDIS."
"I know, but how does the TARDIS make the food? Does it pop down to the intergalactic Tesco and pick up a few ingredients every Sunday, or what?"
"She. The TARDIS is a she," he corrects smoothly, and considers her point, leaning back across the chair with his hands across his chest and his gaze towards the ceiling. "You know, I've never really thought about it."
"So you don't know! It just appears," she exclaims. "It's not even real food."
"Of course it's real food. I've been eating it for hundreds of years, and I'm perfectly fine."
Amy replies, once again brazenly blunt, "You're a daft wanker who runs about in a bowtie and trousers that don't fit properly," She pauses for searing emphasis. "Andyou think you look bloody hot."
"So do you," he shoots back savagely, and then withdraws slightly from the accompanying glare, as if he didn't understand why his mouth would ever bring up such a topic. But Amy is smirking.
Question thirteen: Do you like Rory?
"Sorry, who?" Her face contorts with such offense that he instantly realizes whom she's referring to. "Oh! Him." He taps the end of his nose, remembering, while she pouts. "He's an alright bloke, yes."
The singer on the record wails out a strikingly discordant note, and both their heads turn. By the time she's back to low, grumbling tones, Amy has another thought. "He hates you."
The Doctor scoffs. "What, the mobile bill? If it bothers him so much I'll pay him back, just need to find an ATM."
She shakes her head, laughing, but barely. "No, it's not that. After Prisoner Zero and everything, and you just ran off again, he was right livid. Because I was—" She stops herself, realizing for the first time that Rory is the only person who ever really knew, who she'd ever really talked to about it. And here she was, going to reveal all to the man—the alien—himself. Almost reveal. She puts a delicate pale hand to her bottom lip and traces, considering. "Because he thought I was upset and disappointed and all. Which I wasn't, because, you know, I was used to you not being there. Anyway, he doesn't think you deserve my company, or something like that. He's a bit of a twat sometimes." Shaking off the largeness of it all, she settles back into the plushness of the armchair, slumping comfortably. "Would be furious if he knew I was with you now."
"But I'm making up for it," says the Doctor, calmly, looking very grown up just then, in the face of her accusations. "All this traveling, time and space."
Amy shrugs and refuses to meet his eye. "I'm not the one with the problem."
Question fourteen: Have you ever killed anyone?
He wills her to look at him for this one. Yeah—some psychic rubbish, no doubt, that has her staring into those depths of greying green, like antiquated sea glass.
"I killed the Daleks," he responds quietly. "Bob the Cleric and most of his friends, Octavian. Prisoner Zero, even." He tries to ease the harshness of his words with the softness of his voice, and it works. To a degree.
"No, you didn't," she starts to argue, but can't find the explanation she knows is there. Can't voice the passionate defense that surges up inside her. It's so obvious to her that none of it was his fault, that he had never wantedanyone to die, and he never would, because he's the Doctor—he fixes people, and she's known him all her life.
"I did, Amelia." This confidence in the face of admitting to homicide frightens her as much as it soothes her. "They died because of me. It's okay. No need to dress it up as something it isn't." He gives her what is clearly intended to be a reassuring smile, and she mirrors it weakly. "What's the next question?"
Question fifteen: Why are you called the Doctor?
"I don't know, perhaps you ought to ask the people who call me that. Though, come to think of it, I call me that, so you can ask me, in which case I have to say that I haven't the foggiest."
Question sixteen: Will you die of old age?
"Exceptionally cheerful, Pond!" he chirps, and then sighs in a single great gust, his whole body deflating a bit and sinking two inches lower in the chair. "D'you mean am I immortal?"
"I suppose. I know your body can die and you'll be okay, but…" She doesn't need to finish.
"We had laws about these things." He folds his hands across his stomach, waggling a dangled foot absently. "But now it's just me."
Amy hesitates, and then asks, "So what does that mean?"
"It means I'm going to find out," avers the Doctor, with a manic grin.
Question seventeen: How long can I stay?
"I prefer not to make those decisions, Pond." He shrugs his shoulders, fringe shaking into his eyes. "Circumstance usually has the final stay, but ideally, you'll go when you want to."
"But I'll never want to," she says easily, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, an edge to her voice that's almost insulted he would ever expect that of her.
"Oh, Amelia, I certainly hope that isn't true." She looks up and wrinkles line his face, creases she knows weren't there before. It's hard to tell if his plaintive half-smile diminishes or augments the appearance of his age, but his age does appear, strange and contradictory, like the top coat of paint peeling away to reveal what's old and cracked and underneath.
She doesn't like the swelling confusion in her head, so she moves to the next question like it might keep her from remembering this again later, her voice quieter than ever.
Question eighteen: How many companions have died with you?
She glues her gaze to the list deliberately, but she can see his head shaking in the corner of her eye. Her stomach lurches, doubting, just for a moment.
And then he says, with affected gentleness, "Don't." She breathes as steadily as she can muster and doesn't look over at him, still.
Question nineteen: Have you ever been married?
He inhales heavily—so heavily she can hear it. A long beat, probably too long, because she's waiting again. "I have."
Amy shuts her eyes.
Question twenty: Do you have children?
"I think we are done for tonight," he announces, getting to his feet, his good humor determined but poised to break.
"I'm not done, though. You said twenty, that's question twenty—"
"No, Amelia!" A quiet roar, a sudden break in composure. Something flashes in his eyes that is very ancient and very sad and she feels like an insolent child, with him glaring down at her, his chest rising and falling and shaking ever so slightly. He seems to get his grip back, but just barely, his quiet voice unsteady. "That's enough. You've learned enough."
"Sorry," she mumbles, and he promptly ignores it.
"Go to sleep." His tone is harsh, condescending—more than she feels she deserves. The spitfire surges in her belly and wends hastily to her throat, and she fights him, now, without further thought.
"I don't want to," she retorts.
His fist clenches in response. "Go to sleep."
"How many? How many children do you have?" demands Amy, instinctively reaching out to grab his arm, but he recoils at the question. She can see him battling the anger that caused him to lash out before, but, she realizes, she doesn't want him to win. It's an emotion, anger, just like the emotions that grip her everyday while he exudes optimism and the occasional loaded musing, and she longs to bleed him for the feelings she's only glimpsed, for a humanheart, because she knows one of them must be that—human.
He turns on his heel and marches away from her, towards the door, and wrenches it open.
"What are their names!" she calls after, desperate. It rings, up into the cavernous rafters of the library, up into the dark.
He doesn't bother to shut it behind him, and she can hear the thuds of his enraged footsteps echoing down the TARDIS corridors, back to the library, finding her and slamming against her eardrums. The record player croons on, though the lyrics are nigh incomprehensible at this point, and the song it plays exudes melancholy.
Soft, a little reverential, she asks one more question, mostly to herself, now that she's alone.
"What's your name?"