Characters: The Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Edited by: the fabulous dr_whuh
Summary: In which the Doctor is reminded that in-jokes can be annoying to the uninitiated and absolutely necessary to mental health for those who coin them.
Author's Notes: This was written for infiniteviking , during the recent fandom_stocking fun. I am discovering how much I enjoy writing the Eleventh Doctor, and the vivacious Mrs. and Mr. Pond, although I freely admit that I'm still a little shaky on their voices. With luck, my steadiness will increase.
Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were otherwise, no Whoniverse characters are mine. They are the sole properties of the BBC and their respective creators. I intend no copyright infringement, and take no coin. I do, however, love them all, and thank the BBC for letting me play in their sandbox.
Amy and Rory had a term for it.
"It's a twin thing," one of them would say, and the other would nod sagely.
The comment would usually come in the middle of some conversation in which one of the two would start a sentence with "I remember—" or "But didn't that happen back in—" and stop, momentarily confused, at the complete incomprehension in their listener's eyes. A moment of silence would be followed by the twin comment, after which conversation would resume as if nothing had happened. Most people involved in such a conversation would generally leave it frustrated.
After being subjected to too many of these conversations himself, the Doctor finally cornered Rory (having determined that trying to do the same with Amy might be counterproductive, if not actively unhealthy.)
"What this 'twin' business, Rory? You don't have a twin, do you? I know Amy doesn't." He stopped, looking the slightest bit fearful. "She doesn't, does she?"
Rory rolled his eyes, but said nothing, pointedly returning his attention to the nursing magazine he'd been enjoying.
"You're going to make me talk to Amy, aren't you?"
"That's four questions, Doctor." He didn't look up from the magazine, but the Doctor could have sworn Rory had just swallowed a grin.
"Well, actually, the last one wasn't really a question," he said. "I'll just go and find her, then, shall I?"
"OK, that's a fourth question." And this time, the new Mr. Pond made no attempt to hide his grin.
"So, Doctor." Amy was wrapping presents in the library; the place was festooned with ribbons and bows, while tissue paper and shiny foil wrap tumbled from shelves and rustled under the Doctor's feet. "Come to ask me what I got you? I'm not going to tell you. You have to wait for Christmas Eve just like everyone else."
"Well no, actually, no, I'm not — what present? You got me a present?"
"What, don't they give pressies where you come from?"
"We didn't have Christmas where I came from."
"But you spend lots of time on Earth, right? And we have Christmas. Didn't anyone ever give you a Christmas present? No one?" The Doctor was reasonably sure her glower was more or less on his behalf.
"It didn't come up often," he said. "And that's not why I wanted to talk to you."
Amy put down the sticky-tape dispenser and shoved a roll of sparkly paper to the floor by her feet, then patted the sofa cushion from which it had been dislodged. "I know. You want to know about the twin thing."
He blinked. "How did you know?"
Amy pulled out her mobile. "Rory just texted me."
"You going to sit by me?"
He sighed. "If you'll tell me what the all the twins comments are about."
"You get a bug in your ear about the weirdest things, you know that?"
"Humor me, Pond."
The Doctor hadn't expected to see Amy's face cloud up when he said that. "You really can't guess?" When he shook his head, she continued. "It's the double memories."
"Wha— oh. Right." The Doctor didn't quite know which way to look. It was embarrassing to miss the obvious. Still ...
"Double memories, yes, right. And the 'twin' thing exactly, means ...?" He felt compelled to push, since knowing one's missed the obvious, and knowing exactly how one's done it were slightly different.
"We're mostly OK," Amy said, and stopped momentarily. Then, aware that that wasn't an answer, she continued. "You learn to not think about one set of memories, and think about the other ones. At least you try to, because that's the sanest thing to do. But it's hard, Doctor. Because the first set of memories, they're the strongest. But the second set are the happiest. So they're always fighting in my head."
"Oh, Amy." He really, really didn't know what to say.
"It's like that for Rory, too, only in his case, it's really messed up. The first set of memories are of falling in love with a crazy girl, and dying when a lizard lady shoots him—" She shot him a momentarily bleak look that hurt both his hearts, then bared her teeth in what was presumably supposed to be a grin. "And the second set are of him being a Roman. A plastic Roman. Who kills me, and then keeps watch over me for 2,000 bloody years."
"Well—" He didn't even get started on that sentence, because Amy continued.
"And he has a third set, and they're pretty decent, because I wasn't nearly as crazy, and he didn't have to watch me get beat up, or fight off the bullies for me, and I only talked a bit about the raggedy Doctor, and he wasn't plastic and he wasn't dead. Oh, and he really likes my Dad."
With that, her grimace turned into a real smile. She always smiled when she thought about her parents, he noticed. "Still, it's a hatload of memories to have to deal with.
"And sometimes —a lot, actually — we'll get mixed up and think that something happened now, in this timeline, when it didn't. And it was making us even more crazy, you know?"
He nodded. Oddly enough, he could grasp that. He might be able to handle seeing every timeline at once, but it wasn't always pleasant, not by a long shot. He could imagine just how strange it would feel for a human. Especially when all the timelines they could remember had strange, or violent, or unhappy elements.
"So one day, I was cry— I was talking about it to Rory, and he said it sometimes felt like he had an evil twin somewhere whose head he kept falling into. In his case, two evil twins."
"That would be triplets."
"And it made me laugh. And that made him laugh. And it felt better than ... it felt a lot better. So now, when things start to get all weird, when the memories start to get layered in a bad way, or even when we just get caught up short in a conversation, we'll just look at each other and say that it's a twin thing."
They looked at each other and the Doctor, eventually, nodded slowly. It seemed like the only thing he could do.
It must have been the right thing. Amy turned abruptly and started scrabbling through a tumbled pile of packages sitting by her feet. She picked up a box of chocolates that looked to the Doctor as if she'd bought on Theris Prime, and held them out to him. "You want your present now?"
"You got me chocolates?" He didn't know whether to be touched or insulted, especially after she nodded and said, "Got them custom moulded for you. There are screwdrivers and TARDISes, and a couple of bowties. And a fez."
"Well. That's ... lovely. Yes, it's really quite—"
She snatched them back. "You sure you appreciate the glory of custom moulded, hand-dipped chocolate Christmas fezzes?"
"I can wait for Christmas Eve, if you want."
She laughed. "Go on. Get out of here, so I can finish wrapping presents."
Just before he turned the corner, Amy called out after him. "There is one thing good about having double memories, Doctor."
He poked his head back around the door.
"I have twice as many panto memories as most people. And crackers, and turkey and trees. And presents."
"A double dose of Christmas, then." He smiled.
So did she. "Never ever turn down a double dose of Christmas."