This is an odd story that I couldn't shake, and I wrote it in an afternoon.
..The Grateful Flesh..
He would never tell Rory and Amy. Never, ever, ever. No one needed to be burdened with that kind of knowledge, and he rather hated himself for having done it, but really, what was one more thing on the pile?
It was nothing like leaving his copy with Rose, though it smacked of the same selfish sort of want. A vicarious fulfillment of cheap fantasy.
"Come on, you lot. I've got a spare room you can hide in until I find a good place to drop you off." The Doctor waved his screwdriver at a seemingly random door.
"Why can't we just stay here, Doctor? We could just hide out."
"I can't have you accidentally out. This is wrong, but I can't just zap you out of existence. That might be even wronger." The door he stopped at opened and the three figures stood by the framed gateway.
"Wronger?" The other sniggered. The effect was unnerving, if a bit funny. Did he really look like that when he giggled?
"Yes. More wrong, and therefore, I've got to get you both out of here post-haste, preferably before Rory wakes up and realises that we aren't actually on our way to get his wife just yet."
"And why not?" The little one asked imperiously.
"Because," the Doctor began, pointing his finger and directing them to enter the room, "You two are sentient beings. You're alive, you react, feel pain, joy and I'm not blipping you into goo just because you're inconvenient. I don't work that way."
The two scooted into the room and the Doctor stood in the doorway. "Just sit tight and we'll be off. Got any preferences as to where I drop you, bearing in mind that you are a tad on the fragile side?"
"Not Earth, then?"
The Doctor shook his head. "Sorry, no."
The mirror image smiled. "Someplace Earth-y? Mild weather, not too hot, no nasty predators or acid pits, civilized enough to be nice but not so nice as to get too boring?"
The Doctor smiled back. "You're thinking of…?"
Both grins broadened. "I might be, yeah!"
The little one rolled her eyes. "Really? You could let me in on the big joke, you big, dumb aliens." She pinched and wiggled the nearest bowtie. "And for the record, this looks as stupid on you as it does on him."
The Doctor nudged them both into the suite of rooms. "In you go. I'll have you both in a new home in a jiff. Don't go off squeezing into the ducts, I'll know about it. Plus, you might get a bit melty. Now, I'm off to recruit a team to get Amy back and I've got to rustle up a nice Roman costume to start things off."
He shut the door and leaned back onto it, rubbing his temples. Stupid, selfish, and risky, but he wasn't the nicest being in the universe, was he? He stole his joys in little things. This was just a bit bigger than usual.
"Well, here we are."
"Yep. Here we are." The Amy-Ganger scratched her head. "How exactly are we here? I thought he made Rory believe we were all… squidgy."
The Doctor-Ganger fiddled with the room controls. "We're in a bigger-on-the-inside time-and-space machine that happens to be alive and psychic. You think I can't make someone see something that isn't there for a few seconds?"
"He did it. Not you. Not that it matters."
The Doctor-Ganger approached her and stopped right in front of her face. "You look like Amy Pond, you talk like Amy Pond," he leaned in and took a deep sniff. "You smell like Amy Pond. You, in effect, were Amy Pond for quite some time. Let me ask you this: Do you feel like Amy Pond?"
The Amy-Ganger glanced to the side. She ran her fingers over her arms, examined a chip in her nail polish, and felt her face. "I guess so. Do I get to be her?"
"Ah, I think we may yet get to be ourselves, in a manner of speaking."
The TARDIS landed with a thump. The door to their room slid open and The Doctor waved his screwdriver to hustle them out. "Alright, let's move. I've got to have Rory to the Cybermen in less than an hour and I've still got to track down the sector. And a proper sword, so move."
They quietly walked out, stopping momentarily in the wardrobe to pack a few bags, before filing out the door of the TARDIS. Amy blinked in the bright light, expecting her eyes to hurt, but they did not.
"Oh, brilliant!" The Doctor-Ganger exclaimed. "Just what I thought, Terra-Nine, around the fifty-third century! Amy, you are in for a treat!"
The Doctor flipped the screwdriver open and began reading off information. "Terraformed in the fiftieth century, colonized in the fifty-first. Has the occasional humanoid visitors, but home to a scattered mish-mash of quiet-living locals varying from mostly human to a rather mild-mannered strain of land-dwelling squid. The local sun is well-filtered by a thick atmosphere, the temperature rarely goes above twenty centigrade, and the air is mildly oxidizing." He closed the screwdriver and slipped it back into his jacket.
The Doctor-Ganger spun round and held out his arms. "Amy, it's paradise!"
"Shut up, both of you, and tell me why? Squid people?"
The Doctor-Ganger held her gently by the shoulders. "It's not too hot, too bright, and we can hide here as long as we can."
Amy searched the Doctor's face, then the Ganger's as she pushed him away. "Why hide? I don't understand."
The Doctor looked sad, and took her hands. "Amy, you are a flesh avatar. You won't age, but now that the link between you and the real Amy Pond is broken, you will, in time… deteriorate."
Her eyes reddened. "Like the ones we saw. In the factory. I'm going to be a puddle of goo?"
The Doctor-Ganger shook his head. "No, those were abused. We'll go a lot slower. The air there was full of acid fumes and steam, so even a good one only lasted a few months. Here we'll probably last several years."
The Doctor began a slow retreat to the TARDIS. "I have to go. Got to save you again!" His feet stopped and he ran forward, hugged the Amy-Ganger, and kissed her forehead. "You take care. No matter what happens, you've got a wonderful life you can lead here. Live every minute of it."
He kissed her forehead again and smoothed her ruffled hair. "Goodbye Pond." He turned to his Ganger. "And you- take good care of her. I'll be stopping by sometime and she better be happy."
It was sometime later, when she'd stopped sobbing and realised that she was there to stay, that the other Doctor took her hand.
"Amelia Pond. We've got fresh clothes, a brand-new planet, and about three to five years before we have to pretend to be squid." She looked up and wiped her face to see his, soft and shining. "Where would you like to start?"
Their cabin was awfully nice, and had a kind of dock to the nearby lake. They even had a ridiculous rowboat and her Doctor liked to row around what he'd declared was 'Amelia's Pond' until he needed to dive in to cool off.
On a recent expedition they'd managed to find a cave on the opposite side of her pond, and instead of being a rocky and dangerous affair, it was a sort of tender mud. The back of the cave was lit by brightly luminescent algae and they stayed there for hours that night making shadow puppets against the opposite wall.
They liked to walk on the trail that lead to the hilltop and look down into a meadow. There were always some flowers in bloom and he would catalogue them by name, then planet of origin. Then eat some.
"Do you miss him?"
Amy was quiet. "Yes. But I know he must be happy."
He was quiet. "I'm not so sure about that."
She frowned. "Why wouldn't he be? I'm sure they got her back. I can just see his stupid face now."
Silence. "Oh." They kept walking.
Later that night, she punched him in the side.
"Hey! What was that for?"
"I don't have to miss you, you idiot. I have you."
"Are you happy?" She asked.
"You're asking me that question now?"
"I couldn't think of a better…oh god… time."
"Fleshy TimeLord, but whatever works for you." He shifted his weight. "Yes, Amy. Given my strange circumstances, I am happy." His eyes rolled. "In fact, this is rating rather nicely, regardless of circumstances."
She grabbed his head. "Oi, shut up!"
They sat side by side on their deckchairs. The gentle light sparkled off her pond as her Doctor played with her fingers.
"Amelia? You seem to be a bit…squishy."
"What?" She sat up and rubbed her fingers together. "Hmm. Well, your chin is a bit droopy. I didn't want to mention it."
"Droopy?" He felt his chin. "Oh my. Well, I guess we ought to not swim as much. Might be softening us."
They were quiet for a few minutes, contemplating the revelation, when her Doctor sprang up. "Come along, Pond. We're going on a trip!"
The second continent was rather orange. The ship's guide had mentioned the fact in passing, but landing there was startling after the verdant green of their home. It turned out that the place was an intergalactic beta-carotene factory, and simply trimming the lawns would supply several local human civilizations with supplements. The locals had skin the color of carrots, which sent her Doctor into fits.
"The ultimate gingers!" He gasped through his laughter, and she kicked him in the shins.
She kicked him again when someone obviously from off the continent asked her for directions.
When they returned home, her nose had definitely begun to soften and flatten down. His ears were lower and his brow line not as heavy.
"Look on the bright side, Amelia. You'll never wrinkle and your joints won't creak."
"No, instead I get to look like the squiddies."
"Better than looking Ood. No tentacles. Though I suppose they might have been entertaining."
"Nothing. Unpack the bags while I get the rowboat ready. I feel like playing shadow puppets."
They acquired a step-stool in the third year. They had both shrunk a few inches and found the upper cupboards impossible to reach without one. They also gave up on their shoes, opting instead for loose-fitting moccasins once their feet softened and spread.
"Romantic meal, this. I forgot how much I liked noodles in cream sauce."
"I only had to fix a few gadgets to get the import tax waived. I guess the local squiddies don't have the same dexterity. Besides, hard foods aren't so friendly anymore, and I'm really not hungry much anyway."
Amy put her fork down. "You know, I'm not either. Is that part of this?"
"Probably." They both pushed their plates away. Her Doctor looked up. "What will we do to fill the dinner hour?"
Amy's smooth face cracked into a wide, wicked grin.
They had to be careful. If they held hands for too long, they would meld a bit, and while it was mostly painless to separate, it did some small damage to them both.
When her Doctor reflected on this, he chose not to share the thought.
The time was coming. It was harder and harder to heave themselves around, and they couldn't help each other nearly as much without risking further problems.
"Two questions, Pond. Two questions to base our future on. One, where is your favorite place on this planet, and two, what is your favorite thing to do."
"Do you have answers to them both?"
"I do. I wanted to find out what you liked, too. We're in this together."
Her smile was sad, even more so since her cheeks failed to lift. "Yes, we are."
River Song dragged the Doctor back into the TARDIS again. "You can't! The time distortions will rip open and destroy the city, and us with it!"
"I can try! Time can be rewritten!"
She shoved him back inside and held his trembling face in her hands. "Not this time, my love." He collapsed against the console with a final, wretched sob as River set new coordinates. It was a good time to visit old friends, so she set the TARDIS on a course for anyplace with gunfire.
The Doctor and River collapsed in the entryway, smoke still curling from their clothes. The fires were out and the children of the Seventh Contract Moon would never be slaves again, thanks to some creative talking on his part and creative shooting on hers.
"I've never seen a kiln that big." She said, patting her smoldering sleeve.
"You won't again. If they want pottery that big, the contractors can do it themselves." The Doctor stood, helped River up, and straightened his jacket as he strode to the console.
River followed. "Where would you like me to fly us to next? I think I remember reading somewhere that there's a sapphire falls somewhere."
"Not anymore, and I'm flying this time." He pushed his hair back. "It's time I paid a visit to a special place."
After her questions were ignored for the fifth time, River stopped asking what the Doctor was scanning for, and just pulled her coat a little tighter around herself.
"Can you at least tell me if it's always this chilly here?"
"At night, yes. Cool days, cold nights. Nice thick atmosphere and lots of clouds keep the heat down."
"It seems to suit the locals. I don't think they could handle much heat."
The Doctor stopped scanning for a moment. "No, they wouldn't."
The lake was beautiful, especially lit by the light of the two moons. The Doctor scanned frantically and River tried to pick up the trail he was following, but it must have been based on a sample he had earlier. She couldn't decipher it from the background with her computer.
They found the makeshift pier with two rings to tie small craft to. One was still tied and The Doctor struggled to undo the knotted rope. River shot it and they rowed away, following a path only he could follow.
"What a strange cave. It's…soft." River tested the ground with the toe of her boot as she picked around the cave's entrance. A few steps ahead, the Doctor scanned and checked the readings on his screwdriver.
"The cave is filled with fine sand and the mulch of an ancient forest. It makes the ground quite… quite…" His voice trailed off. "Where is that light coming from?"
River immediately held up her scanning computer. "Back of the cave."
The Doctor set off, scanning as he went. A change in the frequency alerted him and he stopped, and looked down. He crouched.
"Found anything?" River called from another corner of the cave.
With effort, he tore his eyes from the floor of the cave and glanced up at the glowing wall. "There's a, uh, algae wall. Bright little buggers."
"Oh, wow. They are bright. What's that on the floor?"
The Doctor scanned again, knowing what the result would be. "It's a slime of unknown class." He lied.
River scanned it herself. "Actually, it's two." She tuned her scan. "I've never heard of slimes having genders."
The Doctor looked up, his eyes stinging and thankful the algae's light was at his back. River's torch illuminated the floor and revealed two large blobs, one with an amorphous orange tint. They were tightly intermingled and it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. It almost seemed rude to look too closely.
River left to get the rowboat ready . The Doctor looked around, tears blurring his vision. "Thank you." He said softly to the gently lit cave and its inhabitants. "Thank you."
If Rose can have a biological metacrisis clone in another dimension, then I can write this.