Characters: The Doctor, Rory Williams, the TARDIS
Edited by: the beneficent buckaroobob
Summary: It was bound to happen eventually, Rory thought. No one gets to keep their secret fort forever.
Author's Note: This was written during the 2012-13 fandom_stocking fun, for eve11. I adore River and Amy; I sometimes wish I could be them when I grow up. But I think that living with either of these remarkable women must be like living in the middle of one of the most fantastic storms in the universe; full of excitement, delight, and the occasional desperate need to get away.
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 its sandbox.
“Rory! So this is where you’ve been hiding!”
Rory looked up from his book and eyed the Doctor with quiet resignation. It was bound to happen eventually, he decided. No one gets to keep their secret fort forever.
For months now, the library had been his favorite retreat when life in the rest of the TARDIS threatened to become its own inexorably unsettling vortex. That happened a lot, especially when River was visiting, as she was now.
At first it had simply been a bolt hole. Although he enjoyed reading, that hadn’t been why he had dashed in there the first time he wanted to escape Hurricanes Amy and River. He chose it because the shadowy bookshelves provided him shelter from the storm that his wife, son-in-law and daughter (DaughterMelodyMels still too strange to process continually bouncing through his brain) always seemed to generate together.
There were times he loved living in a storm of course. There were other times — many other times — that he stayed with them through the storm, despite wanting to be anywhere but around them. He knew they needed him sometimes, whether as another warm body or as the voice of common sense. They might not listen to him most of the time, but at least he was there when they finally did need a level head.
But here were times when he simply had to run away if he wanted to keep his sanity.
They apparently couldn’t comprehend that; that for a man with two lifetimes and more than two thousand years in his head — a man whose initial thoughts of success in life (a day-shift at the hospital and marriage to his beloved prickly ginger ) had transmuted to not getting killed whilst rescuing his universe-dreaming wife, his 1,200-year-old son-in-law and his lost and found buccaneer child — keeping sane was an absolute necessity.
That used to bother him a lot, and he’d spent too much precious time resenting them. It had seemed so unfair, at first. All of them had lived unthinkable lives, and all of them had survived so many horrors (I will not think about what my child went through because it might kill me), and it used to frustrate him almost to the point of rage when they smirked at his practicality, or got exasperated at his reactions during their adventures. You’d think they would realize that his unimaginable life was … unimaginable. You’d think they would know that being unimaginable was not good for Rory Pond.
Eventually, though, he’d stopped being angry. He’d remembered who Amy and River were. As much as they hated the bad times; as much as they hated their nightmares and hated the tortures and sorrows they’d been through, his wife and his daughter were in some fashion also nourished by them. They needed the storm; they needed the Vortex. The very things that threw their lives into chaos also balanced them.
He eventually forgave them, even as he realized there was really nothing to forgive. How can you forgive forces of nature for being forces of nature? It was rather arrogant of him, actually.
As for the Doctor — well, the Doctor was the Doctor. If River and Amy couldn’t comprehend him, how on Earth would a Time Lord? An alien? It was right there in the description, wasn’t it — alien.
Rory liked the Doctor. More, he loved him, much as that irritated him to admit. The Doctor was all tangled up with what was best in Rory’s life, and he had helped create it. And the things in his deep-set eyes, the … the kindness that was there, and the odd innocence, they all balanced out the rage and the madness (oh, Rory knew madness. He knew it very well.) So, yes, he loved the Doctor. But he did not, not for one second, think the Doctor understood the needs of someone who simply wanted, from the bottom of his heart, to stay human. Because he’d never been human.
And so … so Rory had found the library, and made it his refuge.
It was odd, he had originally thought, that he could enjoy such pleasant isolation in a room that the others used to use a great deal. But once he started considering it as safe space for himself, the situation changed. His companions no longer visited. In fact they didn’t even talk about the library anymore. Did they notice what he’d started to do? Had they decided to humor the phlegmatic, wet-blanket nurse? He didn’t know. Perhaps the TARDIS was helping him out … Rory sometimes felt Her thrum in a way that seemed to be Her way of communicating with him.
He decided, ultimately, not to question fortune. He simply enjoyed the gift of solitude that the library gave him.
The more he ducked into its vast and somewhat unmapped environs, the more the library shaped itself to him. He discovered the huge fireplace lit in welcome on some nights, and spent hours on the comfy sofa, book in hand (or sometimes on face, if he gave in to slumber). Each time he returned he was more apt to find books and magazines that he wanted to find. Even more fun was discovering things he had no idea he’d want to read, or view, or listen to (the sound system may have been there all along, but he didn’t discover it immediately. It was absolutely brilliant.)
He eventually found a computer or two — a desktop in one location, a couple of laptops elsewhere, all of them with intermittent wireless access, sometimes to systems that had nothing to do with 21st century Earth.
All in all, the library had become his own personal oasis, his bulwark against the constant upheavals generated by the three people he loved most in the universe, loved to distraction, even as they threatened to drown him in their huge lives. The library helped keep him sane.
But he knew all along that it couldn’t last. The TARDIS wasn’t at his beck and call. It — She — was the Doctor’s, and he was Hers, and anyone else was there on sufferance. Affectionate sufferance, perhaps; maybe the TARDIS even loved some of the tiny creatures who trod Her halls. But She would never permanently block the Doctor from anyplace within Her.
And so here he was. It appeared that Rory’s Library time was at an end. He sighed.
“Hello, Doctor. Yes, here I am,” he said, putting down his book and swinging his feet off the sofa. “You found me.”
“I did indeed.” The Doctor’s look was a bit opaque, but friendly.
They looked at each other in silence. When the Doctor began to fidget, Rory took pity on him. “Is there anything I can do for you, Doctor? Were you actually looking for me?”
“Well, no. Not actually. Not actually me looking for you. Or actually anyone looking for you. The, ah ….” He trailed off. “Can I sit down?”
That was odd, Rory thought. “It’s your library, Doctor.”
“Well, no, not actually. It’s Hers. I mean, yes, it’s mine, but you’ve been around here long enough to know that She generally calls the shots, and that’s not really the point, so can I sit down?”
“Yes.” Rory resisted rolling his eyes.
“Good. Because I think I’d like to stay here with you for a bit. Nice and quiet here in the library.” At Rory’s questioning look, the Doctor fidgeted some more. “Even I need peace and quiet occasionally. Time to enjoy the small moments, time to pick up a big volume of quality reading, perhaps some poetry, or perhaps a Deltrainian monograph on seventh-dimensional maths … you know, something soothing —”
“Because?” Rory prompted; he’d caught that hint of panic in the other man’s voice, and he thought he knew the answer. But he wanted to hear it from the alien himself.
The Doctor grimaced. “River’s on a bit of a tear.”
Oh ho! Rory grinned. “The wife’s on the warpath?”
“No! Not the warpath!” The Doctor sounded insulted. “Not a warpath, not even a hostile action path. It’s just that—” He broke off, looking embarrassed.
“Well, what then? Does she want she wants a few chores done around the place?” Rory was actually joking, but the Doctor abruptly looked like a seven-year-old who’d been caught with his hands on the biscuit tin.
“No, of course not! Not really. Not exact— well, yes. Yes, yes, she seems to think there are things that need doing around here.”
The idea of his daughter, the legendary River Song, actually taking off after her oddest of spouses with a “to-do” list was incredibly enjoyable to consider, until Rory connected a few more dots. “Wait. Is Amy with her?”
The Doctor nodded.
The two of them … they’re formidable together. They’re unstoppable.”
“What, you can’t intimidate them with your Time Lordiness?” Rory really couldn’t resist saying it.
“No. Not ever.”
The way the Doctor said that snapped Rory’s eyes to his companion’s face. What he saw there was, to his amazement, almost precisely what he saw in the mirror when he had to lock himself in the bathroom after run-ins with Amy; frustration, panic, anger, and completely hopeless love. Oh, how well he knew that look. He patted the Doctor’s knee before he could think about it. “Yeah. Yeah, I know.”
“I believe you do,” the Doctor said softly.
They sat together in silence that wasn’t remotely uncomfortable. When the Doctor got up to nose about some old shelves that seemed to have gotten closer while they talked, Rory took up his book again. The Doctor rejoined him after a moment, throwing himself down on the other end of the sofa and appropriating the ottoman for his feet. They looked at each other over their respective books and, as one, turned to the door. It was shut. Rory smiled slightly. So did the Doctor.
Rory couldn’t help but send a thought winging off to god knows where. Thank you for reminding me. Maybe the TARDIS would catch that, maybe not.
But it was good to be reminded that sometimes, even if only for a brief while in a strange library, everyone understood the need for peace and quiet.
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