“Just one more hour,” Amy pleaded, clasping her hands in front of her. “Please, Rory. How often do you get to visit the universe’s biggest marketplace?”
“Well, it’s easy enough for you to swan around, buying every shiny object you come across. You’re not the beast of burden.” Rory shuffled the bags and packages his darling wife had foisted upon him.
“I bought you things, didn’t I?” She fluttered her lashes.
He smirked. She meant the living lingerie she’d picked up. “And we could be in the TARDIS right now enjoying it. The Doctor said he’d be busy for a few hours.”
“All the more reason to take advantage of quality time together.” She tossed her dark-flame hair. Rory suppressed a frown, biting the inside of his cheek. He would’ve thought the privacy of their bedroom provided ample opportunity for quality time. Despite the TARDIS’s spaciousness, Rory had never felt entirely comfortable making love to his newlywed wife as vigorously as he would’ve liked. He felt as if the Doctor could hear him anywhere in the spaceship.
Amy didn’t hold back—not that he could detect, anyhow. She was as loud and riotous in bed as she’d always been when they were together. A little vixen, she was, and he thanked the gods and the aliens and Time Lords and everyone else for every inch of creamy skin and every ounce of wild abandon that was Amelia Pond.
“Ten minutes,” he negotiated, tuning back into the present. “Ten minutes and then we go back to the TARDIS.”
“Half an hour,” she said definitively, then pointed. “I passed that shop there before we left the Doctor. I want to see what’s in there. It looks exotic.”
“We’re on a whole other planet eighty-five thousand years in the future. Everything’s exotic.”
“But not at half price!” She pointed at the sign above the door. Rory groaned, and several of the packages tumbled from his slackened grip. Amy laughed and tut-tutted. “My poor beast of burden. Look, there’s a cafe. Why don’t you sit and have a rest and I’ll browse awhile.”
“Ten minutes,” Rory said in warning. “And don’t go buying the whole place up. I don’t think the Doctor would appreciate us running up his tab.”
She rolled her eyes. “If he even has one.”
The Doctor had simply waved his sonic screwdriver over the credit card he’d handed them, giving them nearly unlimited funds. The Time Lord didn’t strike him as the kind to steal. Maybe he was somehow making up for it by dispensing lottery tickets, or nudging the stock prices so the banks didn’t notice the strange infusion of cash. Regardless, he didn’t like being beholden to the time traveler. He knew the Doctor meant well, that he was trying to keep things smooth between the newlyweds by giving them the honeymoon of a lifetime. Still, his beneficent generosity was a constant reminder of all the things Rory couldn’t provide his beloved Amy.
He shouldn’t be so envious. No one could compete with a Time Lord. And truthfully, the Doctor was an upstanding bloke, honest and loyal—the kind of man anyone would be honored to call a mate. Still, sometimes he thought he caught a look of longing in the Doctor’s soft eyes, a slight flex in his pronounced jaw more subtle than any expression usually twitching across his animated features. And those looks were directed at his wife.
Rory sighed. There was no use in overthinking these things. He knew jealousy and paranoia would only tear them all apart. Amy was all that mattered. He would do anything to make her happy.
* * *
At first, Amy thought she’d walked into a closed shop. The room was dark, barely lit, the shelves of deep, black wood empty. The smell wafting from the store was fetid at first, a cloying reek like rot and old blood. But then the smell changed. She inhaled deeply, and caught the scent of fresh line-dried laundry, primroses and lemons. Another whiff and it changed again: lavender, mint, fresh brewed coffee, roasting garlic...
“You must be hungry,” a husky voice said behind her. Amy jumped and spun to face a purple-skinned... woman, Amy decided. Her velvet-textured face glittered with diamonds set into her pronounced cheekbones. She wore a slinky emerald-green bodysuit that draped to the floor and spread around her bare web-toed feet. For all the differences, Amy couldn’t help but think she was beautiful.
The purple woman lifted her hands and held out a small tray upon which sat a small nut. “Please. Have a sample.”
“What is it?”
“Bora nuts. A local delicacy.”
“Is it safe?” The Doctor had told her and Rory both to be careful about what they ate, though she got the distinct impression he was warning them off unhygienic street food rather than snacks that might be potentially fatal.
“Of course. The door scanned you the moment you stepped in. It wouldn’t be good for business if our customers kept dropping dead.” She tittered, a light breezy sound. “I guarantee you, this is perfectly safe.”
Amy took the small nut and popped it into her mouth. She chewed. “Tastes like a cashew.”
“That’s good, yes?” She smiled. “It should stave off your hunger for a while. It’s not a good idea to go shopping while you’re hungry, you know.” She set the tray aside. “You might get impulsive and buy something you don’t need.”
Amy quirked her lips. “That’s...rather honest of you. I mean, most places count on impulse buys...leaving candy and smokes and things by the counter.”
“Oh, not here.” The purple saleslady gave her a stern frown, looking almost offended. “We only specialize in what you absolutely need.”
“Oh. I just came in for a browse.”
The purple lady’s smile broadened. “Strange thing to say. No one comes in here unless they’re looking for something very specific.”
She’d heard stranger things on other planets in different times, but this struck her as singularly odd. People just looked, sometimes. Window shopped. It was human nature...but then, there were more than just humans out here. Amy glanced around at the empty shelves, nonplussed. “What do you sell here?”
The diamonds on the woman’s cheekbones gleamed. “Your heart’s desire.”
A light glowed warmly in the center of the room then, illuminating a pedestal she must’ve walked right past. Amy didn’t know what, exactly, she was looking at. She really didn’t—it looked like an ashtray she’d made for her aunt when she was a child, but it twisted and folded in on itself, as if it might be alive. She blinked hard. No, maybe it really was an ashtray.
“Amelia Pond.” The saleslady picked up the object smilingly. “You are such a special customer. Your needs are...fulfilled, it seemed. And yet...” She inspected the object. “Well, that makes sense, I suppose. And you aren’t the first to want this.”
“What is it?” She reached out and touched the object. It felt like a purring kitten, and the saleswoman let her cradle it in her hands. A feeling of utter contentment wended through her, and she closed her eyes, clasping it to her chest.
“How much?” It suddenly didn’t matter what it was anymore. She wanted it.
The saleswoman’s eyes glittered as bright as her diamonds.
* * *
“Ah, thank God, I thought my shoes were going to be fused to my feet.” Rory pulled his shoes off and dropped them on the floor, flexing his toes as he sat back on the lower bunk of their twin beds. Not ideal, certainly, but neither of them had been brave enough to broach the topic with the Doctor.
“Ugh, not in here. How many times do I have to tell you...” Amy kicked them out the door.
“A whole TARDIS and the Doctor couldn’t figure out we could use more space.” Rory took the bags off his bed. “My God, that’s a lot more stuff than I remember you buying. I’ve no idea where you plan to keep it.”
“Some of it’s for Mum and Dad. And I thought I’d save a few things for Christmas.”
He arched an eyebrow.
“Don’t worry. I’ll pay the Doctor back. I doubt he charges interest and anyhow...” She went on for some length, speculating about what Time Lords did to earn money, whether they had currency at all, how economies across the universe must work and whether any of them had had any crises like the ones they had on Earth. She was talking a lot faster than usual, and Rory watched as she zipped around, unpacking the bags and packages, laying out her purchases on the sofa. He couldn’t help but smile.
“Had a fun day, then?” he finally managed to get in.
She nodded gleefully. “I had a lovely time. And I can heartily say I won’t be doing another shopping trip like that for a long, long time.” She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Thank you for carrying all my things, you big, strong man, you.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “You know, there’s a way you can thank me proper.” He nudged her with his hips suggestively. “I wouldn’t mind playing with my gift now.”
Amy’s eyes lit up and she smiled brilliantly. “Give me two minutes.” She snatched up the bag holding the lingerie, giggling, and jumped into the bathroom.
Rory rubbed his hands together and started to make his bed. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to maneuver down there, and Amy’s top bunk was always far too noisy. The creaking distracted him far too much when they were up there, so down below it was. That meant every inch of space was needed.
He divested himself of his clothing, deciding last minute to leave his knickers on. Always important to leave something to the imagination.
He lay down on the bed, arranging himself in what he hoped was a seductive pose. He thought about turning off the lights so that the living lingerie, which glowed in the dark, could be appreciated to its fullest extent. He shook his head. No, Amy needed no adornment, no glowing, writhing lacy thing. She was perfect as she was.
He was just starting to get in the mood when the door burst open.
“You will not believe what I’ve just found!” The Doctor strode in, and Rory yelped, grabbing a pillow to hide his faltering arousal.
“Doctor!” Rory hissed. “Now’s not the time—”
“I’ve spent half my life scouring the universe for an Alloran garblesnarker, and I’ve finally found it!” He clapped his hands and kicked up his heels. “It’s insanely rare, you know. They only made two out of a lot of about—” he flickered his fingers, counting “—thirty billion.”
Rory blinked hard. “Thirty bill— No, wait. Al-lor-an gable...?”
“Alloran garblesnarker!” The Time Lord grinned. “Two in the whole of space and time and I own one! You know I don’t like to own things...I mean, aside from the TARDIS and my books and my suits and the occasional action figure. Aren’t you going to ask?”
The Doctor’s shoulders slackened. “Rory. Come on.”
He knew he’d probably regret asking. “Okay, what’s an Allor...Alloran...”
“...garblesnarker is just the most perfect, most beautiful—” he held out his hand with a flourish “—everything I’ve ever wanted. Isn’t it the sexiest little thing you’ve ever seen?”
Rory stared. His eyes canted from the Doctor’s palm to his glee-filled face. “That’s a marble.”
“Oh, you silly— No, it’s not a marble. I mean, yes, it’s a marble, if that helps you, but no. It’s not that at all.” He snatched it up between thumb and forefinger and held it up to the light. “No, Rory, this is so, so much more.” He said it reverently, gazing at it the way a man might eye a pastry. Rory cleared his throat, a little afraid the Time Lord’s next step would be to swallow the thing.
“So...what does it do?”
He didn’t have a chance to answer. The bathroom door burst open. “I hope you’re ready for me, big boy because here I—” Amy took one step out and gave a shriek.
Rory had entirely forgotten about what he and his wife were about to get up to—the Doctor had distracted him with his shiny marbles. He opened his mouth to shoo the Time Lord out, but the look on his face stunned him.
The Doctor was staring at his half dressed wife with something a little more potent than mere longing. He was looking at her as if he were looking at that marble...only the Alloran garble-whatever now rolled loosely in his slack palm.
“Doctor.” Amy ran her fingers through her hair with a smoldering look of her own. And then Rory realized she was wearing the lingerie. It was, indeed, alive. A lattice of phosphorescent blue-green vines studded with tiny flowers that blossomed when the wearer was aroused.
And Amy was in full bloom.
But she wasn’t looking at her husband.
The Doctor tore his gaze away, focusing on Rory, his expression almost pained. He opened his mouth to say something, but then his eyes gradually slid to Amy once more. Rory could just make out the goose bumps skating across her bare shoulders. She leaned one hip fetchingly against the door frame, jutting her glowing breasts a little more prominently and inviting him to look his fill.
“You’re wearing lingerie,” the Doctor observed.
“That’s right, Doctor.” Amy’s lips looked fuller beneath the eerie glow. The flowers shuddered as she tossed her red hair back over one shoulder. “Do you like it?”
The Doctor ripped his eyes away and look at Rory again, then took in his dishabille. “You’re...not naked under that pillow, are you?”
“Just about nearly.” Rory sighed.
The Doctor winced. “I’m...interrupting something, aren’t I?”
“No! Not at all.” Amy sauntered closer to them both, hips swaying. “Rory and I were just getting...comfortable for the evening. Won’t you join us, Doctor?”
Rory sat up abruptly, sputtering. “Amy!”
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no...” the Doctor backed away hastily. “I’ve...I’ve got...things to play— do— out there. Far away. From here.” He didn’t seem to know where to look, though Rory couldn’t help but notice that as deep set as those soft eyes were, they were bulging out, seeking his wife’s smooth skin and sweet curves. All right, so what if he felt a little spurt of pride mix into the jealousy boiling up as Amy pursued the Time Lord across the room.
“Oh, but we were just about to have a little fun. You like fun—” she hooked a finger onto his bow tie “—don’t you, Doctor?”
Rory clamped his jaw, possessive and hurt all at once. The Doctor looked to him helplessly, hastily disentangling himself even as Amy hooked another finger into his suspender and snapped it across his chest. The Time Lord scurried out the door. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he called over his shoulder.
“Oh, pooh.” Amy leaned her back against the door, pouting. “Got away again.”
“What was that all about?” Rory stood, the pillow dropping from his lap. It was hard enough to have that infuriating man barge in on his privacy.
“It was just a bit of fun, hon.” She tossed her hair again and drummed her fingers on her chin. “He could use a good shag, don’t you think?”
“It’d take the bug out of his jitter, I’m certain of that.” She smiled dreamily. “Can you imagine him? All tousled and ragged and glowing. More than usual, I mean. Do you think Time Lords are capable of multiple orgasms?”
Rory’s stomach knotted. He felt sick. “If you’re trying to make me jealous, you’ve done a right proper job.” He grabbed his pants.
“What are you doing?”
“I’ll sleep in a guest room, if it’s all the same to you. Seems you don’t need me tonight.” He left, feeling sore, though deep down he knew he shouldn’t. That was Amy—beautiful, maddening, supple Amy Pond. She could have any man, and she’d chosen him. Why, he’d never understand.
Just because he wasn’t worthy of her didn’t mean he didn’t have feelings. Of course he was going to be mad. What was he supposed to think when his wife was flinging herself at the one man he knew could really and truly steal her away?
He stalked out into the corridor, simultaneous thankful and sad that Amy didn’t follow. Ever since they’d met her Raggedy Doctor, it’d felt as though he’d been clinging to his darling Amelia, counting down to the moment she would leave him for that wild, insane, brilliant man. Amy knew he had issues with her relationship with the Doctor. No one in his orbit could help but be drawn in. They were just moths drawn to the brilliant flame of his sunlike radiance. Only he was a collapsing star, ready to go supernova and become a voracious black hole.
Rory sighed, shoving his hands through his hair. There was a spare bedroom farther down the hall—the TARDIS kept it ready for the nights the Doctor brought a guest aboard. He found the door and the let himself in.
The Doctor was sitting on the bed, one ankle crossed over his knee. “Good old Rory,” he said with a faltering grin. “I knew she’d kick you out.”