a/n: Nothing you recognize belongs to me! This was written for the doctor_rose_fix spring ficathon on livejournal!
Truth in Teacups
There are things that Amy will never understand about the TARDIS. She will never understand how the ship flies, nor will she ever be able to comprehend how the TARDIS sees the rest of reality. That's okay, though, because neither will the Doctor. Whenever she asks he responds with a great deal of dignity that the TARDIS is an eleven dimensional being who experiences all of space and time at once. And then he'll attempt to distract her with something shiny and she'll let him keep his dignity and pretend to fall for his ruse.
She will never understand how the ship knows to keep the milk fresh and let the bananas progress merrily down the road to decomposition. She will never figure out where the rooms go when they aren't in use or how her favorite shirt managed to migrate into the Wardrobe when she knows for a fact it's hanging in the closet of her and Rory's bedroom. She will likely never discover where the Doctor's room is or why the pool is suddenly in the center of the library.
Amy is aware of all of these things and she is okay with that, with not knowing, because she believes that the Doctor would tell her if something was important. He is, after all, her best friend. She's known him since she was seven years old. He fixed the crack in her wall and even if he was a little late, he kept his promise. He came back. If there was something that she needed to know, something that was essential to understanding the ship and its pilot, he would tell her. She thinks.
She is sitting down to breakfast with Rory when she discovers she is wrong. There are new mugs in the cabinet, strange things that look like Rorschach inkblots. She knows the forms well, had ample time to study them during her many visits to four different psychologists. She used to amuse herself by finding different images in the amorphous blobs and she tries the trick whilst Rory catches up on the latest news from Raxicoricophallipatorius. Apparently a new band, the Bad Wolves, caused a riot in the capital. Amy has heard what passes for music among Raxicoricophallipatorians and is not surprised.
Rory's mug distracts her. The image is unfamiliar, a realization that sends a shock through her. It was like looking at an old friend and realizing that they weren't actually who you thought they were at all. Her own mug resembles a butterfly most, well, as much as a bit of spilled ink can resemble an insect, but Rory's mug—Rory's mug sends chills down her spine.
"Where did you get that?" she asks, pointing to it.
He blinks at her. "It was in the cabinet with the rest of the mugs."
She shivers. "It's wrong."
He frowns. "What do you mean, wrong?"
"Good morning Ponds!" the Doctor exclaims as he swoops into the room. As always he's manic energy and childish wonder in a tall, gangly wrapping. The familiar chaos of his presence is soothing, but Amy remains on edge.
"Your mug," she tells Rory. "It looks like a wolf. A bad one."
The Doctor stops. Just stops with his mouth open like he's about to say something. The whole ship seems to stop. The familiar humming dies down to almost silence and a sense of barely contained energy spreads through the air—like the calm before the storm.
"What did you say, Amelia?" he asks after a long moment.
Amy blinks. "Rory's mug. The design looks like a bad wolf."
The Doctor leans in close, examining her face for a long moment. She stares back at him, baffled. He reaches out a hand and snatches Rory's mug. Her husband makes a rather resigned noise of protest, and then goes back to watching the two of them. The Doctor finally breaks eye contact, but only to stare at the mug. "Those words, Amelia. Why did you pick those words?" His voice is soft but intent, focused.
She shrugs. "That's what it looks like, what first popped to mind. I've never seen that pattern before."
"It's from New Earth," he mused. He swept his eyes over the mug. When they reached the small, golden sigil of the maker's mark a muscle in his jaw twitched. 'Lobo Malo' swirls around a sideways figure eight—the symbol for eternity. "That's impossible," he murmurs. "The walls have closed."
"Doctor?" Rory asks. "What's going on?"
The Doctor sets the mug back on the table gently. He looks old, Amy realizes, old and tired.
"Just a message from a friend," the Doctor replies. "Nothing to be worried about."
And then the TARDIS begins to fall apart. Well, she's not really falling apart but that's how it feels to Amy, who has to follow Rory and the Doctor down the hall to the console room. They never feel the shocks from traveling the Vortex in the kitchen. According to the Doctor it's impossible—the console room is tied to the outer shell of the TARDIS but the rest of the rooms are in a different dimension. Whenever he says 'impossible' she's always reminded of a scene from The Princess Bride. "I don't think that word means what you think it means!" she yells at him.
"Thank you for that vote of confidence, Amy!" the Doctor yells back.
"What did you do, Doctor?" Rory wants to know.
The Doctor runs around the console, pushing buttons and pulling levers, but nothing seems to work. "I didn't do anything! She's flying herself! The last time this happened—" he trails off, his face suddenly pale. Amy follows his gaze to the monitor attached to the console. Two words cover the screen: 'Bad Wolf.' The sinking feeling is back in her stomach.
"Doctor, what's going on?" she demands.
He looks at her, wide eyed, but does not answer. The TARDIS lands with a jolt and he is at the doors before Amy and Rory pick themselves up off of the floor. Amy checks the monitor—they're on a beach in what appears to be Norway. She makes a face. Norway? What could possibly be here that could pull the TARDIS off course?
The Doctor throws open the TARDIS doors and a fierce breeze assaults him with the smells of the sea—salt, sand, and the bitter tang of words unspoken and promises unfulfilled. Amy follows close behind him, and Rory behind her. The Doctor stares out at the windswept strip of sand. Craggy cliffs rise up behind them and boulders litter the surf.
"It took you long enough," an amused voice comments. Amused, and distinctly feminine, Amy notes. She also notes the look on the Doctor's face. His eyes are closed, almost as if he can't bear to open them, and naked longing shines through his features. He turns in the direction of the strange voice, and Amy realizes that they are not alone. A woman is standing a few feet away. Her blonde hair whips back in the wind. She's wearing a black leather jacket and jeans, and carries a backpack slung over her shoulder.
"You're not real," the Doctor says suddenly. "You can't be real. It's impossible."
She blinks. "Well, I'll admit that wasn't the first thing I was hoping you'd say when I managed to get back." She moved closer, until she could thread her fingers through his. Still, he kept his eyes stubbornly closed. "When I first met you, such a long time ago, in the basement of Henrik's department store," she began. "You took my hand and you said one word, just one." She leaned in so that her lips were almost touching his ear. "You said, 'run.' And then later, after you brought me home a year late and sent me away, when you regenerated in front of me and I couldn't believe you were still the same man, you said it again and I believed you."
He takes a deep, shuddering breath, and it's like a string that was pulled taut has been loosened. It's like tension that Amy never realized was there is gone, washed away by the strange woman's voice and her words. He opens his eyes slowly, and then a smile bright enough to light a night with no moon and stars breaks across his face. "Rose Tyler!" he yells and wraps his arms around her.
"Doctor!" she replies equally enthusiastically and clings to him. His lips are at her ear and he's murmuring something that Amy and Rory can't quite make out, something like "impossible," and "love you," and "never, ever leave." And she's nodding fiercely and Amy realizes that there are tears in her eyes and on her cheeks.
There are things that Amy will never know about the TARDIS or her pilot. She will never know how long the Doctor wandered after he lost the woman he loves, nor will she ever know what exactly passed between them on a beach in Norway. She will never understand why Rose Tyler doesn't seem to age, or why the TARDIS seems to be inordinately fond of the woman. She will never discover where they go when the TARDIS refuses to let her find them, or why they both become tense whenever anyone says 'Bad Wolf,' but she's okay with that. He is her best friend, but he's also a man. He loves her, loves the whole universe, but he's in love with a blonde woman who broke through the walls of reality in order to see him again. And that, she thinks, is how it should be.