This sky is studded with stars. Millions and millions of them. They’re like pin-pricks, mere pin-pricks, burning white and so far away, in such numbers. Like fairy dust, glittering against the impenetrable darkness of the sky, if you put it in more abstract terms. The Doctor doesn’t use any terms as all. He sits in the middle of a great slope of dark grass, and looks up without really seeing anything.
Amy comes up behind him, her steps making the stiff grass crunch. She sits down next to him, tucks her legs under her. She’s lit by starlight, and she looks curious. “What are you doing?”
“Thinking. I have to, sometimes.” He hugs his knees; there’s a chill on the air.
He glances between her and the sky, the stars. He hesitates for a moment, and then says, “I won’t get to see them all.”
“All the stars. All the planets. All the nooks of the universe.”
Amy scoffs, and her breath rises from her mouth like a little white cloud. “Of course you will.”
“I used to think I would. But the Universe is vast and I’m old.”
“You’ve got a time machine.”
She reaches out and traces a finger along his back, sketching a pattern only she knows. It tickles a little; it’s a bit distracting. Next, she rests her chin on the plane of his shoulder; he can feel her breath on his neck.
“Do you want tea?” he asks, because it’s the only thing he can think of to say.
She slaps him between the shoulder blades with the back of her hand, abruptly, unexpectedly. And quite hard. “You’ve got absolutely nothing to mope about,” she says, and he feels her speak. “And I believe you promised me all of time and space.”
The Doctor fidgets, straightens his spine to lessen the smarting. “Technically, I promised you a selection; your choice.”
“I don’t believe you. I think we could, if we wanted to. See them all.” She drapes an arm around him, places a hand on his other shoulder. It’s almost an embrace, but at the same time it’s not enough like one. She looks at him, and she’s so close; he can see that she’s sincere.
“You don’t believe me?”
“I think you’re a bit pessimistic today.” She pouts a bit, mocking him, and her eyes sparkle. “It’s understandable. You’re old.”
“These stars burn now and I might not get to see them again.” That wasn’t supposed to come out. That belongs in a compartment somewhere in the back of his brain. How did it end up on his tongue?
Amy makes a frustrated sound and moves away. Removes her chin and her arm and her hand. And her closeness.
His shoulders feel cold.
She doesn’t need to know what he’s thinking; she needs to have fun, she needs to be amazing. She needs things to believe in; she needs to believe in him. He’s thoughtless sometimes, despite his considerable intellect. Thoughtless and alien.
“Just live in the moment, Doctor!” Amy lies back against the slanting ground, her hands behind her head, her hair fanning out across the grass. “Even I’ve learned to do that.”
He used to think like that; he used to live like that. He’s just doing it less successfully now, that’s all. He’s aging and understands the way of the universe; Amy has no idea. He lets himself envy her that for a fraction of a second before he closes it off, before he betters himself.
There’s a star flare, a tiny burst of light, high up and far away, and Amy laughs, surprisingly delighted. She needs to laugh like that more often. He feels better when she laughs like that.
He can’t appreciate the flare because he knows it will be gone soon and he misses it already.
He would like to reach for her hand, or at least lie down beside her, but he’s old and alien and she laughs at star flares and he doesn’t anymore.
Another burst lights a tiny part of the sky and Amy chuckles.
They’re putting on a show tonight, aren’t they, those stars, all of a sudden. They didn’t do that for him, when it was just his ancient hearts they spoke to.
Amy laughs again, and he decides to make an attempt at focusing, at seeing what she sees. He owes her that much, he thinks, and turns his eyes to the sky. The next flare is tiny, but it’s colourful, and it swirls, and in its end phase it looks like a tongue of fire licking the sky. He does see it.
They do it a few more times; she laughs and he concentrates. He thinks she might be overdoing her amusement a bit for his benefit, and he’s glad. Soon he sits up straighter, and he has to smile just a bit, because there was this one flare that was particularly impressive; it burned TARDIS-blue for a moment or two.
“Where do you want to go next?” he asks, a while later, when the bursts have stopped and the smile has drained from his face. He wants it back; he likes to smile.
Amy smiles still; there’s a kind of content pull at the corners of her mouth. “My choice? Really? No weird conditions?”
He’s not used to the moods of this incarnation yet. Yesterday he would have enjoyed this like Amy does, and perhaps tomorrow he will again. Amy just needs to laugh like that more often.
“One, actually.” He looks from her face to the sky. “It has to make you happy.”