A Patient Man

AN: I don't usually feel the need to read / write Dr Who fanfiction, especially of the 2005 incarnation of the show (I've got a vague idea for Classic companions Ben & Polly, which has been rolling round my head for about 25 years now, but I've never written anything down), but I was inspired by the episode "Let's Kill Hitler", specifically the scene in Amy's bedroom. And I adore Rory, he's my favourite of the 2005+ series companions.

Disclaimer: All things, dialogue & people you recognise are belonging to the BBC, or the relevant authors. Just writing for fun, and because the plot bunny won't shut-up if I don't.

Rory Williams is a patient man. He has to be. Falling in love with Amelia Pond before he really knew what love even was has made him that way. One day he hopes that he will be able to tell Amy this, but now is not the time and this is not the place.

Mels is an observant woman. Of course, knowing the end-game does help with the noticing of things between those who would become her parents. It amuses her that she knows these things. She has considered pushing things along at times, because she's like that, but also knows that Time (in the form of the Doctor) will not let things be changed, not something as important as this. So she watches, and waits, and laughs to herself about the cluelessness that is her mother.

Amelia Pond is a loving girl who grows up to be a loving woman. Trouble is, she doesn't discriminate between the wrong people and the right people to love. And she ignores the one person who would give her the sun and stars if she ever gave the smallest hint she wanted them. She has formed certain assumptions about Rory Williams, and will be shocked to find that she is completely wrong about him.

"Rory's not mine," she says confidently to Mels, who is lying on the bed playing with a blue phone box.

Rory freezes in the doorway, this is one of his worst nightmares come to life. Amy, who he loves with a quiet devotion, who is gorgeous and popular, and never without a boyfriend, is about to unthinkingly break his heart. He doesn't want to stay and listen to exactly why Amy thinks that he isn't hers, ten years of being there to pick up the pieces when her latest boyfriend has dumped her, or when the latest therapist can't "cure" her of her insistence that her Raggedy Doctor is real and tells her Aunty Sharon that there's really no hope for her, or being shunted aside whenever Mels has something more interesting to do that doesn't involve their other gawky friend, just isn't enough for her.

Amy continues, "I mean, he's gorgeous and all." She moves next to him and punches him in the shoulder, like she usually does when she's feeling a bit affectionate towards him. He's learned over the years to take the affection where he can, and he knows that it isn't a good way to be, but it's the best he can hope for.

They're both facing Mels now, who is smiling at the both of them like she knows a secret that they don't. Which she does of course. It's been an odd childhood for her, growing up as a contemporary of her parents, knowing their ultimate fate but not being able to give any hints. Except for in this matter, she's going to give Amy a shove in the right direction as she can't bear to see Rory's kicked puppy face any more when Amy brings home a new guy. She does love her father, but she wishes that he would be a bit more assertive around Amy. Something happens at some point to change him, and she can't wait for it to happen.

"Penny in the air," she murmurs, still with the smile.

"But he's gay," Amy finishes, and the same moment Rory blurts out, "A friend."

Then his ears process what Amy has said, a theory that had never once occurred to him. No wonder she has never looked at him as a potential boyfriend, if she thought that.

He's so shocked that he asks, "I'm not gay! Why ever did you think that?"

Amy laughs unbelievingly. "Of course you're gay. We've spent practically every day in the last ten years together, and when have you ever looked at another girl?"

He can't do this, not here, not now, and certainly not in front on Mels. She would never let either of them – but especially him – live this conversation down. He sees the slowly dawning comprehension on Amy's face, turns and bolts from the room. If he can put off the "we're only friends" conversation for just a little bit longer, he'll be able to build some barriers around his heart.

He bolts for the kitchen door, the clattering of his shoes on the wooden stairs not drowning out Amy's stunned voice saying, "oh my God, Rory. I didn't know!"

She has longer legs than he does, and can usually beat him when they used to run away from things Mels had done, but he has a head start, and the determination not to have this conversation here and now.

He almost escapes except, for once, the back gate is closed, and he loses precious moments unlatching it. Enough that Amy catches up to him next to the duck-less village pond, and grabs hold of his backpack to stop him running.

Even then, he contemplates slipping his arm out of the straps to keep going. But he knows that Amy will follow him all the way to work if needs be – she's done it before, and he doesn't want a repeat of that scene, thankyouverymuch!

Rory turns to face her, a thousand words and excuses and reasons scattering through his brain. There isn't one he can use to keep their easy-going friendship intact, once Pandora's Box opens, there isn't any way of catching all the evil back into it. And this Pandora's Box has split wide open, and Mels has jumped up and down on the remains.

In the end, he says nothing; there are no possible words he can use. He will just have to face that their friendship is irreparably damaged.

When he finally looks up into Amy's face, he is surprised to see her looking shy and hesitant. She never looks shy; someone who can make a living kissing perfect strangers is not someone who would generally suffer from shyness.

"Is it true?" she asks.

"What?" he asks warily, not willing to commit himself to anything until he knows what Amy wants.

"What Mels said, well, not said really, but more hinted. And then what you said, about not being gay."

"I'm not gay," he says immediately, focussing on the least relevant part of her sentence. Just put it off a little bit longer, please, that's all he wants at this point.

"That's not what I'm talking about. Although, a lot of other things now make sense, knowing that. No, I mean what Mels said about your being my Mr Perfect. You've never said anything about it, never said anything when I rang you at 3 in the morning, drunk and crying cos the latest boyfriend has dumped me. I can't believe you hid this from me for so long!"

It's quickly slipping away from him, the knowledge that his secret is about to be exposed and open him up to the heartbreak he knows will follow close behind. He has no faith that his gorgeous and crazy best friend will ever consider him in any light except her gawky best friend who will rescue her at any time and from anything if she just asks.

He can't look at her, one look and he'll be lost. Even more lost than he already is. It kills him that he's letting her down over this, but he doesn't think that anything good will come of it. He wishes that it would, but he knows that he can't compete with her Raggedy Doctor, and even though she will never say so, every bloke she's ever gone out with has to measure up to that impossible standard.

Resolutely, he keeps from looking in her direction. He inches his way along the side of the pond, another metre or so and he's free to run again. And this time he won't look back. Not Pandora's Box, this time, but Orpheus and Eurydice, or Lot and his wife. One look back and he would be lost.

Except a small sniffle, and a mumbled "Rory, please," are his undoing.

Immediately he spins around and puts his arms around her, pulling Amy into a tight hug. He hasn't been this close to her in about a year, but it just feels so right to be holding her. Rory smooths her glorious hair down her back, and says soothingly, "It's okay, Amy. Just come over here and sit down and we'll talk about it. I'll tell you everything you want to know, everything Mels has figured out somehow. I'm surprised you never worked it out, you're loads smarter than she is." Keeping up the random chatter, he leads Amy to the bench nearby, and sits down next to her.

He links their fingers together, and with his other hand, keeps up a rhythmic soothing stroking down her back. She leans her head on his shoulder, a small moment of need that Rory will treasure as Amy so very rarely needs him in that way. Needs him to be the sensible one, or to dress up as her imaginary friend when they were younger, or to pick up the pieces when one of her relationships goes pear-shaped, but rarely does she need him just to hold her.

"Why didn't you ever tell me, Rory?" Amy asks with a wobble in her voice. "All this time, and I never had any clue. I mean, we're friends, best of friends, but I've never even thought that we could be more. It never crossed my mind at all."

And with that small, puzzled tone, Rory's heart breaks. He thought that he was prepared for how he would feel if they had ever had this conversation, but he wasn't. There existed a small flicker of hope that Amy would reciprocate, and it was now dashed.

"No matter Amy," he says with forced cheerfulness. Years of practice had made him very proficient in denying his feelings while around her, and even when his castle of cards had come crashing down around him today, he slips easily into the denial. "I never told you cos I know that I'm not the usual bloke you go out with, so why make things bad for us? I am who I am, and I love you, and nothing that you or I say will change either of those things." He ends his short speech with a small shrug of his shoulders.

They sit in silence for a few more minutes, before Rory says reluctantly, "Amy, I've got to get to work. Do you want me to give you a call when I get off work tonight? It'll give you a chance to think about things, and maybe talk to Mels." He adds the last part reluctantly, he knows that Mels will have a field day with what had happened in Amy's room this afternoon, and she has always taken particular delight in teasing him, much more so than Amy ever did. And she always seemed to know just when something particularly embarrassing was going to happen, and would be guaranteed to be the first one there laughing at him.

"Maybe," she answers. "I don't know if I want her advice today, not until I've thought about things more. Have fun at work," she adds brightly, trying for some semblance of normality in their not-normal afternoon.

He stands up, caressing her hair once more. "Oh yes, bedpans and Mrs Morris wanting to discuss her insides, I can hardly wait!" he answers lightly. If he can maintain the façade that all is well, he can convince himself that it will be, and continue living in the little bubble of denial.

"I'll call you tonight, once I've thought about things. And maybe eaten the carton of ice cream I pretend doesn't exist in my freezer," she promises, standing up and going back the way they had come from.

He watches her leave, his fairy-tale princess, living in a world that doesn't have any room for a not-very-handsome prince waiting for the chance to rescue her. There is only so much patience he has, and he feels he is coming to the end of his stock.

Amy Pond is a woman who loves well, but not wisely, Rory Williams is a patient man who loves a fairy-tale princess, and their story is barely begun. There will be travels, and kisses, and arguments, and more kisses. There will be death, and birth, and a wedding in between. But patience and steadfastness is rewarded in the end, and every fairy-tale princess gets her happily-ever-after.