The fob watch had lain on the mantlepiece since they'd moved in. Amy had never really noticed it - for all that she was the one who'd gone through the modelling stint, it was Rory who'd really done the interior decoration, always vetoing Amy's suggestions of the brightest, most clashing colours known to man. The little knick-knacks placed artistically on shelves were certainly more likely to be things that Rory had picked up, at least after the debacle involving a dinner party, two of Rory's colleagues, and a Fylvatron Eye which Amy had collected from an intergalactic bazar and which had unfortunately activated upon exposure to a certain brand of aftershave.
"It looked pretty!" Amy protested.
"Right up until it exploded!" said Rory. "And anyway, it clashed with the curtains."
Compared with that, a very human-looking fob watch had never seemed anything to complain about.
Right up until today.
"Rory?" she asked. "What are you doing?"
She had come in from a night out with her fellow bridesmaids to find him staring at the mantlepiece, eyes focused on the watch as if his gaze were a magnifying glass and the watch were an ant. He looked like an animal tensed to flee.
"The watch," he said. "It's... I can hear it."
"Yeah, watches tick, that's what they do," Amy pointed out. She stepped forward, intending to pick it up and listen, but Rory flung out a hand.
"Don't! What if it's dangerous?"
She raised an eyebrow. "It's a watch. Look, it's fine!"
Darting past him, she picked it up and turned it over in her hands. "Pretty pattern, silver fob watch, looks kind of old - where did you get it, anyway?"
"I don't know-"
She chucked it to him; he caught it reflexively and froze in place.
Amy frowned. "Rory?"
He didn't respond. He ran his fingers almost reverently over the surface, tracing the patterns on it.
"It's a drumbeat," he breathed. With one fingernail, he tapped out a rhythm on the back: ra-ta-ta-TA, ra-ta-ta-TA.
A shiver went down Amy's spine. "Okay, maybe you were right," she said. "Put it down? We can call the Doctor-"
"The Doctor," Rory scoffed, and with one, decisive movement, flicked the watch open.
It was as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Amy staggered back, pressing one hand against her chest. Rory was bathed in golden light, a light she instinctively knew to be alien, suffusing his face until she could no longer make out his features, until there was nothing to mark him as her husband. And the drumbeat - she could hear it now, banging in her head, RA-TA-TA-TA, RA-TA-TA-TA, making her breastbone vibrate like the bass at a rock concert, all pervasive, grabbing hold of her bones and shaking them -
And then it was over. She panted for breath. "Rory?"
He didn't respond. She tried again.
"What was that? What did it do? Rory-"
"My god, do you ever shut up?" he snarled. "No wonder he wanted a divorce."
That wasn't Rory's voice, except it was. It was exactly the same voice, but she had never heard it used like that. Carefully, she tried to back away.
"Who are you?" she demanded. "What did you do to Rory?"
A sly grin unfurled itself on his face - Rory's face, her Rory's face. "I prefer to be called the Master. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think it's time I was reunited with my daughter."