A/N Okay, seriously. Is it just me, or are Rory and Molly absolutely PERFECT for each other? Gah, I love them so much. Unfortunately, Amy gets in the way, so this ended up being more of a friendship fic than anything else. Ah, well. Please review!
Rated K plus for reasons unknown to even myself
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock/Doctor Who or any associated characters, events, etc.
Rory Williams was used to being left behind, in all honesty. It wasn't something that he was grudging about; on the contrary, he was perfectly happy with his all-too-crazy life, zipping about the universe with the wife he would never stop loving and a literally unearthly man that he supposed he could consider his best friend.
Still, he did notice that the two of them tended to work a lot better when he wasn't around to complicate things. And that was what gave him a hint of doubt that it wasn't entirely accidental how he happened to be left behind in the middle of modern-day London, his arms full of cat food. The cat food was easy enough to explain—alien bait—the abandonment, not so much. Unless the TARDIS had malfunctioned yet again, or, as Rory was beginning to expect, the Doctor and Amy had decided that they could use a little time without him.
Perhaps the notion should have made him jealous, but it didn't, really. They'd be back, that much was almost for certain. Until then, all he had to do was wait them out. He sighed, hoisting the paper bag of cat food cans a bit higher in his arms and glancing around the wide, unusually empty street. It was a light, sunny day in London, more pleasant than usual, and yet hardly anyone seemed to be outside. Most people were probably on vacation; though he couldn't be sure of the exact date, he was fairly confident that it was around the time when most people were taking a seasonal break.
Unfortunately, that also resulted in more attention being drawn to him—a young, slightly sweaty man standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a shopping bag. He met the eyes of a particularly hard-staring onlooker, swallowed nervously, offered a tiny smile, and proceeded to turn around, walking off in a completely random direction. Better to be moving, at least. Chances were that the other two wouldn't be back for a while, so it couldn't hurt to take a slight detour. Arms straining, he once more heaved them up higher, tilting his head back to see over the top of the bag and squinting in the fierce sunbeams.
He still managed somehow to crash straight into the woman walking in his direction.
They both yelped in surprise, and he jumped back, struggling to hold the bag in place but failing. A cascade of tuna Friskies cans spilled out, rolling every which way on the sidewalk, as the bottom of the paper bag tore, and the rest instantly followed them.
"Damn," Rory choked as a number of the cans clattered into the street. His head was buzzing from the sudden impact. At that moment, he suddenly remembered just what had caused the collision, and immediately proceeded to look up quickly, his lips already forming the "I'm sorry" before he so much as set eyes on her.
"Oh, no, it's—it's fine," the woman stammered hastily. She immediately bent down and began gathering together a number of the cans, a light flush on her cheeks and a loose strand of light brown hair hanging in her large, dark fawn's eyes. "I'm so sorry, I was… my mind was wandering, I suppose."
"No, it's not your fault," he objected, joining her on the ground and proceeding to retrieve a few cans that had rolled into the street. "It was me, this—stupid bag was in my way… you're alright?"
"Me? Oh, fine, fine." She sat back with a small, satisfied sigh as she placed the final can on the rather sizable pile they had managed to gather, flashing him a shy, tentative smile. "You have a… a lot of cats, then?"
"What?" he blinked, frowned, and then remembered just what they'd been cleaning up. "Oh—no, no, it's just… for a friend. But he seems to have… driven off without me, so I'm stuck here waiting for a while."
She nodded, biting her lip sympathetically. "Oh, that's a shame. Awful how people do that kind of thing, isn't it?"
"It's nothing, really," he mumbled, cursing himself for not even being able to carry out a decent conversation with a stranger. "He has a lot of priorities, I don't expect to be on top of them. I'm just glad that he puts up with me most of the time, to be entirely honest." He risked a smile of his own then, tiny and nervous.
"I suppose I know what that's like," was her murmured response. Her chocolate eyes grew distant for a half-moment, then she shook herself and stood up completely. "Anyways, is it anywhere close that you're taking these for the moment? I could give you a hand, since your bag ripped and all…"
"Aren't you busy?" Rory asked in surprise. You don't have to help, it's not your fault that I crashed into you like this… some people were just absurdly kind. He couldn't deny that he wanted her to help, though—and not because it would lessen the workload. She seemed nice, a good person to spend time with until the Doctor returned. It beat being alone, in any chance, beat it by a long shot.
"Lunch break," she explained brightly. "I was just going to eat over there, actually. Bit fancier than I usually go for, but… well, it's springtime, right? Why not treat myself?" She was indicating a small, sun-drenched café on the side of the street, seeming to consist of a little building and five or six white patio tables with spindly chairs. Despite its diminutiveness, Rory could see what she meant by 'fancy'—the few occupied tables were set with plates and glasses that, while of a simple craft, echoed subtle expense. "I won't need the full hour, though. I can spare some time to help you out, if you'd like." She grinned again. It really was an adorable expression on her, wide and genuine, and Rory couldn't hold back the slight quirk of his own mouth that came with it automatically.
"Well… really, I don't have anything to do but wait for my… friend."
"Oh—well, then, would you by any chance like to…" She swallowed lightly, a slight blush settling over her full, pretty cheeks. "If you'd like to have lunch… those tables seat two, so…"
"That'd be great!" he found himself agreeing without thought. It didn't so much cross his mind that this could be, from some perspectives, considered a date, or that he was already happily married and perhaps impulsive lunch with a young, seemingly single woman wasn't the best idea. "Though I—I'm not sure I have any money on me," he admitted, embarrassed by that fact. Money was typically never a problem when traveling with the Doctor; he always managed to get them things without having to pay with actual cash.
"I can buy for two," the young woman offered.
"Really? Well, that's… awfully kind of you," he stammered. "If you really don't mind…"
"Not at all," she promised. "I eat alone often enough, in any case." Despite the rather saddening words, her tone didn't lose even a hint of its brightness with the declaration.
Definitely single, then. "A-alright. I'll just… here…" He pulled a number of the cat food cans into his arms, and she quickly joined him, so that soon they were both standing up, carefully holding teetering stacks. "There's an empty table right over here," she announced, and he followed her shuffling, cautious steps through the waist-high fence surrounding the café and into the little patio, before they finally dropped both of their loads on the nearest table. Rory relaxed his arms with a sigh, grateful for the weight being lifted from them, and lowered himself into the nearest chair. It had a very slim frame indeed, delicate and almost flowery in design. She settled down in the seat opposite him, sitting up very tall and straight.
"Drinks?" A waiter with a faint French accent seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, beaming at them and holding a small white notepad that, like everything else, reflected the sunlight to create a sort of glowing effect.
"Lemonade would be wonderful," she decided after only a half-second or so of consideration. Her gaze flitted over to Rory. "You?"
"Um—the same," he declared impulsively.
"And you would like a few more minutes for your main order?" the waiter questioned, scribbling down their requests (which seemed like a rather unnecessary action, though Rory didn't comment).
"Yes, please," the woman agreed. The waiter scurried off, and her focus returned to Rory. "I suppose I should probably ask you your name," she laughed lightly, propping one elbow up on the table and straightening her ponytail. "Since I'm buying you lunch and all."
"Oh—yes, I suppose so." He joined in her laughter, recognizing that his tone was still a bit shy. "It's, uh, Rory, Rory Williams. And you?"
"Molly Hooper." She indicated the name tag pinned to the front of what he suddenly recognized as a long white doctor's coat. "I completely forgot to take this silly thing off," she added, plucking at the uniform's sleeve. "Just in a rush, I guess—I wanted to get out of that place as soon as possible."
"Hard coworker. He can be unbelievably frustrating, but… there's just something about him, I suppose. Can't help but be… well…" She trailed off, and looked rather relieved when the waiter returned with two tall glasses of lemonade in hand.
"Drinks for the lovely couple."
"Ah—we're not—" Rory stuttered nervously, Amy flashing to his mind's eye, and Molly bit her lip in a mix of humiliation and amusement. But the waiter only grinned at them, and Rory went on to accept his glass mutely, sipping from the straw and hoping that the icy, sweet liquid would cool the heat in his cheeks and forehead. She hid herself behind one of the menus, and he hastily copied her action, browsing over the food choices. The cuisine was all light and unreasonably expensive, printed in sans-serif black text against the creamy paper, with plain numbers on the side indicating the cost. More of the minimal-yet exquisite theme, it would seem. By the time he peeked over the top again, the waiter was gone, to his relief, and Molly was sipping thoughtfully at her straw, eyes distant.
"So, er… if you don't mind my asking… where do you work?" he questioned, trying to resume the easy conversational flow.
"St Bart's—St Bartholomew's Hospital," was the immediate answer. "I, well… I work in the morgue." She grimaced slightly with the word, as though expecting him to draw some sort of judgment based on her profession. "What about you?"
"I… travel," he offered vaguely, giving a slight shrug. "It really depends… that friend of mine and I… we just… venture all around the world, I suppose. Us and my wife." For some reason, bringing Amy up was almost uncomfortable. Maybe it was because he was worried she might be jealous somehow, but it somehow felt like more than that, in a way that he couldn't quite manage to identify.
"Oh… so you're married, then?"
"Newly," he confirmed, the usual note of pride somehow absent from his voice. He swallowed another mouthful of the lemonade, which was really quite good-tasting. "And you?"
She shook her head. "I had a boyfriend up till a couple of weeks ago, but… well… things didn't really work out well between us."
"Don't be… I'm glad it's over." Molly shuddered slightly, then cleared her throat and glanced down at her menu. "See anything on here that sounds good? The tuna salad sandwich is particularly nice, if you don't mind the recommendation—less expensive, too. Not that you have to worry about the price," she quickly assured him, looking a bit anxious. "I'll be able to cover anything, it's fine."
"No, it sounds great." He set down the menu, sitting back once more. "Though I have to wonder what the waiter will think when we both order the same thing again."
She laughed once more, and it was a pleasant noise—light, girlish, but not overly fluttery. Rory found himself vaguely hoping that the Doctor and Amy wouldn't come back for a while yet—he was enjoying this time with Molly. It crossed his mind suddenly that perhaps he could ask the Doctor to take her along with them, but an instant later realized what a ridiculous notion that was. She probably had family, if not a romantic relationship with anyone, and the TARDIS was full enough as it was. Besides… Amy probably wouldn't like there being another woman there. She loved being with her 'boys,' and Rory could just imagine her giving the cold shoulder to a confused, hurt Molly.
No, Molly would have to stay where she was. They'd probably never meet again, as a matter of fact…
"So… this friend of yours. Do you have any idea when he'll be back?"
"Not really, no," Rory confessed. "His appearances are very… erratic. Last time he came he was two years late… more the time before that…"
"Two years?" Molly repeated, her fawnlike eyes wide with amazed disbelief. "No way. It wasn't something little like this that he was late for, was it? I mean… you're not going to be stuck with a load of Friskies for two years?"
"No, hopefully not." Rory just then realized how unbelievable his words must sound, and struggled to dredge up a reasonable explanation—one that didn't concern time travel, a crack in the wall, and Atraxi nearly incinerating the Earth. "It was… nothing like this, yeah. He just… appeared one day, told me and my wife—er, she was my girlfriend then—but told me and Amy that he'd be back, and disappeared for… two years. Didn't come back until our wedding night…"
"He must be some friend."
"That he is," he agreed, just as the waiter returned, pen hovering over his notepad. Molly ordered for them both, and the French man nodded eagerly and hurriedly headed to the next table, moving rather quickly. Possibly he was embarrassed about the mistake he made earlier, identifying them as a couple.
Which we aren't, Rory reminded himself firmly. It wasn't that he wished it any other way, not exactly. It was just… well, this felt as much like a date as anything he'd ever been on, in complete honesty. He suddenly wondered with a slightly sickening lurch of his stomach what Amy would think if she saw him like this… which she might. If the TARDIS parked nearby, if she and the Doctor had to search for him…
"Are you alright?" Molly asked, sounding a bit concerned.
"Oh… yeah, I'm fine, completely fine. Just had something on my mind… it's nothing to worry about, though. Nothing at all. Anyways." He glanced around for a new conversation topic, tapping his fingers a bit anxiously on the tabletop, and his eyes happened to fall upon the cat food. "Do you have one?" he blurted out.
"One what?" Molly questioned, her eyebrows drawing together in confusion.
"A—a cat." He waved vaguely at the cans.
"Oh. Yes, actually, I do." She gave a quiet smile. "Toby. I just got him a while back… he's very sweet. Single and with a cat—never a good sign," she chuckled. "Just wait, in thirty years I'll have twenty of them…"
"I'm sure you'll have somebody to be with by then," he protested, the words coming out rather clumsily despite his best efforts. "I mean, you're a very nice person, who wouldn't want to date you? Not that… well…" he trailed off, staring at the table, as his fingertips resumed their anxious drumming pattern.
"Hey." A sudden warmth settled over his fingers, holding them still, and he looked up in surprise to see Molly's hand over his, holding his wrist gently. "Are you sure there's nothing wrong?" she asked, sweet chocolate eyes wide and slightly concerned. "You seem a bit… twitchy."
"It's nothing," he confirmed. And that was the truth. It really was nothing, just general shyness about having lunch with a girl when he was already married. To farther prove his point, he straightened up, relaxing his hand but not removing it from underneath Molly's. It was comfortable there, after all.
"Well, in that case… thank you. For saying that… you're really very kind, you know. Your wife is a lucky woman."
"Well, I'm a lucky man."
"I'm sure you are." She flashed him another one of those wide grins. "It's nice to know that some people can be so happy with each other… maybe there is some hope for little old me."
"There's got to be," he half-exclaimed. "Is there really no one at work or anything who's asked you out?"
"Like I said, there was one, but we never got very far." Her eyes took on that dark veil again, but it dissipated moments later, to Rory's relief. "I don't really talk a lot with people, in my job. And those who I do get an opportunity to converse with are pretty much all married… in one form or another."
"How do you mean?" Rory asked curiously. In one form or another didn't make a lot of sense, at least not to him.
"This one man, he… he calls himself married to his work." She laughed helplessly, drawing out the syllables and raising one hand to form little quotation marks. The other, however, stayed on top of Rory's, which he couldn't deny to be rather happy with. "I'm sure he would've made a move if he was interested by now, in any case. I've tried, but he's just… not for it."
"There'll be someone, though," Rory insisted. "At some point…"
"I hope so," she sighed simply, twirling the straw in her lemonade. "I try not to lose hope. It'll happen someday, right? Just have to keep my head up."
"Exactly. I mean, with me and Amy—I thought for the longest time that she didn't care about me in that way, not at all. Turns out that she thought I was gay… the point is, maybe this… coworker really is interested… you never know, right?"
"I'm pretty sure that he's not going to change," Molly murmured. "It's alright, though. I'll find someone else… at some point… he's a bit arrogant, anyways. Half the people he meets fall for him, but he's so… cold. Distant. Almost inhumanly so. You get used to it, I guess… I'd be better with someone nicer, though." Her eyes met Rory's at that point, and he suddenly felt trapped in a staring contest, not wanting to look away or break the steady gaze that they shared. He became hyper-aware of her hand over his, and took a slow, slightly nervous breath. She blinked and ducked away, pulling both of her hands back and placing them neatly in her lap. "I'm sorry, I didn't—I'm sorry," she stammered awkwardly, glancing up at him through that loose strand of hair that just didn't want to stay in place.
"It's fine," Rory promised quietly. "You didn't… you didn't do anything."
"Right." She took a deep breath, tried one more time to clear the hair out of her face, and glanced over her shoulder. "I wonder where those sandwiches are… they shouldn't take that long to prepare, should they?"
"I wouldn't imagine so, no…" His speech was suddenly cut off as a very familiar sound greeted his ears, a hissing groan that seemed to fill the air. He stood up without thinking, stumbling backwards and nearly knocking the chair over. "My friend's here," he announced abruptly. "I'm sorry—I would stay for lunch, but he's probably in quite a hurry…"
"Oh—it's fine," she assured him, though her face had fallen a bit. "Do you need help with the cans? What am I saying, of course you do—here, let me…" She rose and took an armful. "Just tell me which car he is, I can run these right over."
"Um… well…" Scooping up a number of cat food cans himself, Rory turned towards the direction of the sound. Sure enough, a small, innocent-looking azure police box was perched on the curb where there had previously been nothing. "Here, right over here…" Why shouldn't Molly know about the TARDIS? She wasn't a prickly person; her mind would probably be open to the wonders of the other dimension contained inside the phone box. A hint of anxiety tugged at him when he thought of what Amy might think, but it shouldn't be too big of a concern—it wasn't like Molly was staying to fly with them, after all.
She followed him over to the TARDIS, and just as they arrived at the front, the Doctor flung the door open, stepping out with Amy behind him. He could hear Molly's gasp of surprise from behind him, but it was quickly drowned out by the Doctor's cry of delight.
"Mr. Pond, there you are! Apologies for the accidental detour, but I see you still have the Friskies, excellent—oh, and who's this?"
"Um—Amy, Doctor, meet Molly Hooper." He waved an elbow vaguely in her direction, the only indicative gesture that he could manage with his arms full. "Molly, this is my wife, Amy, and the Doctor."
"Oh, h-hello," she greeted, sounding a bit nervous. He bit his lip, twisting his neck to get a proper view of her without dropping the cans.
"Molly Hooper? Nice name, very round," the Doctor commented thoughtfully. "Full. I'm the Doctor, as Rory here just pointed out." He held out a hand, grinning broadly, then withdrew it a moment later upon the realization that her arms were too full to permit such a gesture.
"N-nice to meet you. Sorry, but did you just… did you just come out of that police box?"
"Now, it's hardly a police box," he scoffed, looking almost offended. Then his eyes lit up. "Would you by any chance like to see the inside of it, Miss Molly Hooper?"
"Doctor," Amy hissed through gritted teeth. "Things are a bit… demanding, if you'll remember…"
From the look on the Doctor's face, it had completely escaped his mind. "Oh, yes, sorry about that! Right, apologies, we have to be on our way. Here, let me take that…" He began to scoop Molly's share of the cans into his own arms, and Amy joined him moments later, so that they had cleared the brown-haired woman's load in seconds.
"Well… I'll see you sometime, then, Rory?" Molly asked nervously.
He nodded back, though both of them knew that they wouldn't be encountering each other again anytime soon, or even ever. "Maybe so. That'd be nice."
She smiled widely and took a few steps back, waving her hand in farewell as the Doctor nudged open the door of the TARDIS and filed in, Amy behind him. "Hurry up, now!" he called over his shoulder.
"Here—watch this," Rory whispered as he backed into the time machine. "You'll like this."
"Watch… what?" she asked, looking a bit puzzled at the sight of the three of them heading into what surely appeared to be a very small, perfectly normal-looking box.
He didn't get to answer, or even so much as say goodbye, because Amy took that opportunity to slam the door shut. "Mrs. Williams would like to remind you that we're rushing to save the entire continent of Africa right now," she grumbled, "and don't have enough time to be held up talking to our new girlfriends."
"Friend, Amy," he sighed, "she's a friend."
"Whatever. In any case, we have to hurry."
"That we do, Pond!" the Doctor called from his position next to the TARDIS console. The grating noises of the machine taking off began to fill it, and Rory, finally depositing his cat food on the ground, couldn't help but grin one final time at the thought of Molly's expression as she saw the big blue box disappear before her very eyes.