Actions

Work Header

The Pond Continuum

Work Text:

1. New York City, 1930

When Amy blinks, the cemetery around her becomes a chilly autumn night in Central Park. Or she thinks it's Central Park. It's some sort of park, okay, and there's a brisk wind toying with her hair, and the air smells of that weird uncertain mixture of earth and iron and cement and garbage and soot that's somehow uniquely New York in any century. And most importantly of all, Rory's already wrapped his arms around her so tightly she thinks they must still be falling, falling, falling.

He chants her name in a voice like gravel, and she can't breathe through her tears with his arms like a vise around her ribs.

Once they sort themselves out -- and let's be real, here, it takes a hell of a lot of sorting -- they get smart enough to hunt down a copy of the evening paper to check the date. Saturday, November 1st 1930, the New York Record proclaims.

"Huh," Amy says. "I thought we were supposed to end up in 1938 for good."

"Guess the angel didn't want to get too predictable," Rory says sourly. "Just in case there was any hope of the Doctor tracking us down again."

There wasn't, Amy doesn't say. There never will be again. The words get caught in her throat like a sob, and from the terrible look in his eyes, Rory already knows.

"I expect we'll see 1938 again soon enough anyway," Rory plows on ahead. "On the slow path."

1938 follows 1937 and 1936 before it, after all. They'll get there. They have to. They have no other choice. The Great Depression and World War II and then the Korean War and Vietnam and the Gulf; all of her twentieth century history lessons, and why is it Amy can only remember the wars?

Right, mustn't allow herself to dwell on it. There must be good things to look forward to, too. Brighter stars. Rosie the Riveter and the Greatest Generation and Madison Avenue and Sputnik and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Okay, she tells herself firmly. We can do this.

First, though, they need shelter for the night, and period-appropriate clothing, and food, and money. Right at the start of the bloody Depression. Right.

"Right," Rory says resolutely. "We're not the only people who've had to start from scratch."

They find a tent village in the middle of the park, with fires in trash bins and a few weary men standing watch with rifles, but there's also a muscular woman ladling out thin soup into tin cups beneath a hand-painted sign that proclaims HOOVERVILLE in jagged letters. Amy and Rory exchange looks and then shuffle to the back of the queue. There's no shame in it, Amy reminds herself. They have no psychic paper to pave their way; no access to the Doctor's stash of random alien currencies. No TARDIS wardrobe, which Amy will mourn until the end of her days. So they'll make do as best they can.

A very pretty blonde woman barrels out of one of the tents. "Hey, anybody know where we can get some more clean water?" she demands of the group at large, her New York accent so thick that Amy can barely make out the word water. She looks out of place here, somehow different even in this particularly diverse sampling of humanity. "The doctor says boiled if you can."

Amy's ears prick right up at that, and she exchanges a quick glance with Rory. He shakes his head ever so slightly. Not their Doctor, of course not. But...still.

"Someone injured?" Rory asks, pitching his voice to be heard over the low mutterings of the group. "Only I'm a -- medic. I mean, I can help."

Probably only Amy caught the hitch in his voice, when he almost called himself a nurse before remembering when they were and how odd a male nurse would be. They don't want to be too memorable, not now, not like this. They can't hop into blue box and fly away when the pointed stares get to be too much to handle.

"Someone?" the blonde woman echoes, tone disbelieving. "Oh, honey, you must've missed all the excitement. We got lotsa someones hurt here. Yeah, sure, I bet she could use the help."

Amy follows them, her hand caught tight in Rory's, because she might never let him out of her sight again. And she can help, too. Though they probably don't have any defibrillators in Hooverville.

After showing them into the tent, the blonde goes off again in search of water. There are a number of injured men on cots -- recently injured, even Amy can tell. Maybe that has something to do with the armed sentries they'd seen stalking the edges of the tent city.

The doctor inside is...not what either of them expected. She's young, for starters, about their age if that, and she's black. And female. Maybe 1930 in New York City is more progressive than Amy would've expected. She also feels clearly off in this place, like the blonde but different, in a way Amy can't quite put her finger on.

"You're a medic?" the doctor asks, pushing her hair back out of her face wearily. Her accent is pure London, another surprise. "Thank goodness, I can't tend them all at once and Tallulah...well, she tries, but. Here." She passes Rory an armful of bandages and steers them toward one of the younger men -- hardly more than a boy -- with awful burns across his face. The tent is haphazardly lit with kerosene lamps. Between the darkness and this young doctor's obvious exhaustion, it's no great wonder that she doesn't notice anything particularly strange about Amy or Rory.

Rory sets immediately to work, murmuring curt, simple instructions that Amy follows as best she can. "What happened to them?" he asks the doctor, keeping his tone pitched low and soothing for the wounded men's benefit.

The doctor laughs, short and strained. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Yeah, try us," Amy says under her breath, but the other woman doesn't hear. Satisfied with Rory's skill, she ducks out of their tent to go tend to some more injured men across the way. Their paths only cross a handful of times over the course of the long night, when the doctor checks in on their progress or Rory sends Amy out to scrounge for more supplies.

They never are introduced properly -- though Amy overhears the blonde woman call the doctor Martha once -- and it's only much later, when dawn starts creeping its way fitfully across the grey sky, that Amy realizes what felt so off about her.

Her clothes. Jeans and a leather jacket, and nothing remotely 1930 about them at all.

But when Amy goes to look for Martha in the morning, she's nowhere to be found.


2. London, 1941

The thing is, Rory's got a bit of an immortality complex. It's not that he thinks he's going to live forever. But he read the inscription on his own gravestone. That's a fixed point in time if there ever was one, and that says he's going to live to be eighty-two years old.

He's not exactly sure when that'll be -- even before the angels, he and Amy had already spent long, fruitless hours debating how to factor in time traveling when calculating their actual, linear ages -- but they've faked themselves identification papers now, and that'll probably be the age the undertaker counts in the end. So he's not going to die until around 1980, and that foreknowledge sometimes makes him...reckless. Just a bit.

Plus, he's died so many times at this point that he has trouble believing it'll ever actually stick.

It also doesn't help that he's lived through the entire twentieth century once before already, and then some. He still doesn't think about that much -- the Centurion's memories remain buried in the deepest recesses of his mind, rarely accessed -- but sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, scared half out of his mind that something might've happened to the Pandorica while he slept, grasping for a sword that isn't there.

Anyway, point is, there's no way in hell Rory's going to cool his heels in New York while London burns. Rory wants to punch some Nazis in the face. Or help evacuate some museums during air raids, at the very least. He has a unique skill set.

Amy, of course, is right there with him. She breezily reminds him that only one of them has advised Winston Churchill in his war room, thank you very much, and she's quite certain he'll be requesting her assistance again just as soon as he's made aware of her availability. And then her voice takes on a harder edge as she points out that just because he won't die in the Blitz doesn't mean he can't be maimed or crippled or live out the rest of his eighty-two years locked up in a mental ward, and she's seriously considering putting him there herself to keep him from doing anything stupid.

So they spend the Blitz dodging bombs and helping the war wounded in London hospitals. Rory might as well be a doctor himself at this point, and Amy's becoming a pretty decent field medic, though she spends most of her spare time writing cracking articles about the quiet war waged on the home front. In New York, she'd freelanced for several magazines, writing mostly travel and lifestyle pieces. Looks like she's gunning for a Pulitzer by war's end.

Rory's the one who hears rumors of a mysterious illness at Albion Hospital. In another life, he'd have set Amy on the trail and they'd both be up to their ears in trouble by nightfall. But this is real life, now. It has to be. There are far too many people in his own hospital who need him; he can't just drop everything and go haring off after adventure. And anyway, it might not be anything at all.

Besides, he's got a date with Amy at the local after his shift tonight, and there's no way he's missing out on that. This pub's become a particular favorite of the RAF lads of late, and Amy's always had a fondness for men in uniform. Best not chance it.

Sure enough, Rory arrives to find his wife holding court with a circle of admiring officers, each at least a decade her junior. It's a sight he wouldn't miss for the world. Rory left jealousy behind years ago; he trusts Amy completely. He loves seeing her like this, vibrant and beautiful as she was when they first married lord knows how many years ago (or ahead), laughing and flirting outrageously. She catches his eye across the smoky room and her lips curve into a crooked, heated smile that's all for him, only ever for him. God, he loves this woman.

Most of the men are scared off by the approach of the husband, more fools they; one handsome fellow braves it out, shifting easily to include Rory into the conversation. "I usually hate to hear that a beautiful woman is spoken for," he says, in a too-charming American accent, "but in this case, hell, who could blame her?"

Rory rolls his eyes and ignores the heat rising to his face. "Flattery will get you nowhere."

"On the contrary," the officer says with a wink. "I'm an easily acquired taste."

"He does grow on you," Amy agrees, linking her arm with Rory's. "Not unlike a fungus."

The officer's laugh is honest and full-throated. Rory can't help but be charmed. There's something strangely familiar about the man, itching at a dark, closed-off corner of Rory's mind. "Sorry," Rory says. "I didn't quite catch your name."

"Well, if it wasn't love at first sight, I'm always happy to walk by again." The officer extends a hand, flashing a blindingly white smile. "Captain Jack Harkness."

The missing piece slots into Rory's memory -- a pub not terribly unlike this one, during another Blitz, plastic flesh just as pliant and sensitive as real human skin, a few brief hours of distraction and companionship against a backdrop of war while the Pandorica rested unwaking in a not-yet-destroyed museum. That was a different Rory and a different Captain, though. It has nothing to do with the here and now.

It's an altogether pleasant evening, and though it's been a while since Rory and Amy invited anyone else into their bed, they certainly haven't forgotten the delightful mechanics of the act. The Captain's even more, ah, "open-minded" than they expected; a man well ahead of his time, they privately decide afterward. Someone like Jack would be far better suited to the stars.

A few days later, Rory realizes he'd never followed up on the rumors out of Albion Hospital. He heads across London early one morning before his shift, just to see what's what. But there's nothing amiss at Albion -- in fact, they have no patients whatsoever at this time, and their head physician is in curiously high spirits for a man whose city remains under siege.


3. London, 1953

For once, Amy is willing to overlook being thought English instead of Scottish. If it means her editor will give her the plum assignment of covering the coronation, then pip pip cheerio it is. The queen-to-be won't ever quite measure up to Liz 10, but she's going to be a tough old bird, and Amy fully intends to see her reign start off right.

"So remind me why we're not enjoying the spectacle outside Westminster like everyone else?" Rory demands, looking around the slightly shabby suburban street celebration with some skepticism. Ugh, Amy's clearly still far too jetlagged for that much alliteration.

"Because every other fashion reporter on the planet will be writing the same exact story about the coronation. What sort of hat the Queen Mum is wearing, how lovely the young Queen looks, how many men in the honor guard, yadda yadda yadda. I'm not interested in pomp and circumstance." Amy strokes her notepad lovingly. "I want to know how the British people are celebrating the coronation."

She'd been shortlisted for a Pulitzer for her reporting of the Blitz, and it wasn't because she'd written about how many bombs the Germans had dropped or the speeches Churchill had given to rally the troops. She'd focused on the stories of ordinary Londoners adjusting to life at war, given voice to the everyman -- and woman, of course. She wasn't about to sell out now.

Rory regards her fondly. "All right, then, what's it to be? The many qualities of home-brewed English lemonade?"

"The television revolution," Amy says. "Bringing the spectacle right into people's sitting rooms."

"You don't sometimes think that you're technically sort of cheating--"

"Not a chance, kiddo," Amy says airily. "Let's remember whose slightly advanced insights are paying the rent on our fabulous Gramercy Park townhouse, Mr. Miracle of Modern Medicine."

It's not that they're changing history by knowing it all already. In fact, they've been extraordinarily cautious. But Amy's certainly not the only one in this relationship who uses a bit of foreknowledge to get ahead in the workplace.

"So why here, in particular?" Rory asks, helping himself to a glass of lemonade from one of the tables set up along the street. He passes another glass to Amy.

It's a touch too sweet for her tastes, but she doesn't mind. "Apparently this neighborhood's got the highest rate of television ownership of all England. Magpie Electricals," she adds, nodding to a darkened storefront. "That shop singlehandedly placed a new TV in every sitting room on this street, just for the Coronation."

"How patriotic of them."

Amy gives him a wink and then saunters over toward the nearest clump of neighbors, pulling her notepad and specs out of her handbag. One thing she's rather fond of in the 1950s is the fashion -- she can hardly bemoan the need for reading glasses when they come with adorable cat eye frames. She thinks they make her look clever and insightful, as befitting her advanced age. She turns fifty-five this year -- well, give or take. Her hair's as much grey as red these days, but strangely enough, she doesn't mind. She's earned the grey hairs, every one.

"Excuse me, ladies," she says, joining a cluster of housewives of varying ages. "Amelia Williams, New Yorker magazine. Mind if I ask you a few questions about the festivities?"

The housewives preen a bit, pleased by the attention, though one older woman sniffs a bit at Amy's Scottish accent, undiluted even by twenty years living in the States. Still, they're quite happy to chatter away about how lovely the young queen looked and how brilliant it was to be able to see all that magnificence right from their very homes -- though she notices that they all shy away from the topic of the televisions themselves, or the shop that sold them, with uneasy glances exchanged behind smiling masks.

One woman remains mostly silent, keeping herself somewhat apart from the rest of the group, though she'd been chatting happily enough with them before Amy's arrival. She's younger than the others, probably someone's unmarried daughter or niece; her pink poodle skirt is noticeably brighter than the average housewife's attire.

"And what do you think of Mr. Magpie's generous contributions to the event?" Amy asks her, with her warmest, most inviting smile.

The girl catches her tongue between her teeth, humor sparkling in her wide brown eyes. "Oh, I couldn't really say," she replies. She has the air of knowing a great joke that she's not quite willing to share. "It's certainly electrified the neighborhood."

"Rose!" someone calls, and the girl turns. A tall young man in a pinstriped suit is waving at her impatiently across the crowd.

"Sorry," Rose tells Amy, not sounding sorry at all. "I've got to run, yeah? Best of luck with the article, I'll be sure to look it up." She flashes an impish grin and darts off.

As the afternoon goes on, Amy realizes that none of the other housewives had known Rose at all, nor had the faintest idea who she was or where she'd come from. And she never gets a satisfactory explanation about Magpie Electricals or their television sets. The elusive Mr. Magpie himself never returns to his shop at all.


4. Barcelona, 1966

For all that they maintain a lovely townhouse in New York, Rory thinks they spend less time actually at home these days than they ever did during their years with the Doctor. Retirement definitely has its perks. For example, the perk of sitting on a sun-drenched beach in Spain, surrounded by young people in flimsy swimwear (thank god for the sexual revolution, he said once, and Amy swatted him and called him a dirty old man; one thing led to another, which really just proved her point, but she certainly wasn't complaining afterward), while his still-gorgeous wife frolics in the surf in a truly ridiculous floppy hat.

It's a very good day.

Once Amy's done splashing about, she's going to demand a cold drink. Rory knows her well. Might as well fetch one now and avoid the whingeing.

Fuck, standing. Standing is one of those things that really isn't a perk of getting old.

There's a man with a cart of drinks and ices further up the beach; Rory buys a couple of Cokes and pops one open there, enjoying it. Something will change in the chemical formula somewhere down the line, he suspects, because these taste better than he remembers from his youth in the future.

And there's a sentence he's become far too used to thinking.

"Barcelona," someone grumbles beside him. "It had to be sodding Barcelona, didn't it?"

Rory doesn't know why he engages the man, who clearly wasn't speaking to anyone in particular. Maybe because it's nice to hear another British accent every now and again, especially in an unexpected place. "What were you expecting?" Rory asks lightly. "Leicester Square?"

The man snorts. "Could do, if I'd a mind to it."

Rory gives him a quick look over. "You're clearly not of a mind for the beach, are you, in that get-up. Aren't you roasting?"

The stranger looks oddly offended at that, straightening the lapels of his beat-up leather jacket as though it were a tuxedo. "Don't know what you're on about. Better than sunblock, this. Keeps my delicate skin lily-pale."

He cracks a hint of a grin, and Rory laughs. "Right. Whatever floats your boat. At least get yourself a cold drink, will you? Sunstroke's no joke. Trust me, I'm a doctor." Well, close enough, anyway. And retired. But still.

The man's smile twists into something sharp-edged and bitter. "Aren't we all?" he mutters, as though to himself.

There's something weary about his manner, and angry, and sad. He's a couple of decades younger than Rory, at best guess, but he somehow seems much older. After a moment's consideration, Rory hands him the second bottle of Coke. "Here. Drink this. Don't want to dehydrate in this heat." At the stranger's quirked eyebrow, he adds, "My wife would only wind up stealing mine, anyway. She claims they taste better that way."

"Cokes?"

"Beverages of any kind," Rory says, long-suffering. "Soft drinks, booze, tea, you name it. She nicks my jumpers sometimes, too. She's down there," he adds, gesturing at the waves. "The madwoman in the floppy hat."

The other man passes the bottle from one hand to the other without actually drinking from it. "You're here on..." He grimaces in distaste. "...holiday, then?"

"Here, there, and everywhere," Rory agrees cheerfully. Shit, have the Beatles recorded that single yet? No matter. "Not many places we haven't traveled, us."

The man gives him a look that clearly says he very much doubts that. Well, Rory supposes they must look a couple of daft old bats to him. But then his gaze shifts, becomes intent. "If there was anywhere you could go," he says, all at once, "I mean anywhere, anywhere at all, not just Spain or Tokyo or Timbuk-bloody-tu, somewhere completely new and fantastic like you'd never imagined before -- where would you go? Where would you take her?"

Home, Rory thinks at once, but of course he can't say that. He's not even sure quite what the word means anymore. He thinks about it for maybe too long of a moment, really considers the question, wondering what the man wants to hear.

He looks down the beach to Amy, who's digging her feet deep into the wet sand at the waterline like a child at play, giggling when the waves suck the sand around her toes. She glances over at him and smiles. She's pushing seventy now, and she can still make his breath catch in his throat with nothing more than a glance.

"I'd take her back to the moment when we first met," he says quietly. "Just...just so that we'd both know. Promise her that everything would be all right in the end. That it'd all be worth it. Because it was."

He tears his gaze away from his wife. The other man is still staring at him. Suddenly he grins, the smile cracking his face open, his eyes lit with a manic fire that's all at once familiar in the utterly unfamiliar face. "You're absolutely brilliant, you are!" he tells Rory, delighted. "Of course! Time! How did I never mention it travels in time!"

He shoves the unopened bottle back into Rory's hands. Rory grabs at it before it drops to the sand, his pulse suddenly racing. "You--"

"And then, maybe," the man goes on, still grinning like Christmas has come early, "Barcelona!"

He whirls around and is gone, dashing up the beach and away, and for one agonizing second, Rory nearly tears off after him. But then he glances back over his shoulder, and sees Amy walking across the sand toward him, her expression quizzical beneath that absurd hat, and he feels rooted to the spot.

Those days are long gone now. Besides, they're doing rather well for themselves, all things considered.

"Rory?" she calls. "Something wrong? Who was that bloke?"

"No one," he lies, managing a smile. "Here. I got you a Coke."


5. London, 1972

Amy will never write a full autobiography; there are too many stories she'll never be able to tell. But after nearly four decades of a public career in journalism, not to mention a Pulitzer (at long last!), she's managed to pull together a very creditable collection of memoirs. It helps that she's always known where and when best to position herself in search of the very best stories. She knows better than to try to meddle with history (fixed points, the Doctor whispers in her ear); she can only let the twentieth century unfold before her, in all its chaotic glory, and record as much of it as she possibly can.

The book sales have given her a nice little bump on the lecture circuit. When she's offered the opportunity to do a guest lecture at the London School of Journalism, she jumps at the chance. She's rather missed London these past few years.

Afterward, the usual cluster of bright young things gather around her podium, asking questions. Mostly male, of course, and while she certainly enjoys the eye candy, she's secretly thrilled to notice a few female faces amongst the throng. It's been a dreadfully slow process, living through Women's Lib on the slow path, but the times, they are a-changing. About damn time.

Even if the boys are the ones with all the questions, while their female counterparts still hang back around the edges and rarely get a word in edgewise.

One young woman today is more determined than most, and she actually manages to push her way to the front after the first ten minutes or so. She's younger than most of the other students, scarcely twenty, face still rounded with the lingering traces of childhood, her eyes bright beneath the dark fringe of her hair. Having shoved her way this far, she seems suddenly shy, mustering the courage to speak. Amy gives her an encouraging smile.

"Hello," the girl says in a rush. "Oh, my goodness, you're really Amelia Williams, aren't you?"

Amy barely manages not to snort with laughter. "I am indeed," she agrees, and the girl's face reddens.

"I mean -- it's amazing, what you've done. What you've written. I used to clip your articles and hang them on my wall." She blushes even deeper, but forges on. "It's -- your stories. I mean, they're not stories, they're true, but the way you write them--"

"I'll let you in on a secret," Amy tells her, leaning forward conspiratorially, and the girl leans in as well. "All stories are true. Even the ones you made up for yourself as a child, every last one of them." She smiles. "It might not sound like the best advice for good journalism, but really, what are we doing if not finding the truth and weaving it into words?"

"Oh," the girl says softly. "I hadn't thought of it that way."

When she doesn't say anything further, Amy prompts her. "Did you have anything in particular you wanted to ask, or...?"

She bites her lip. "I only wanted to -- that is, may I ask you to sign my book? Or your book, I mean. My copy of it. Only it would mean ever so much to me--"

"Of course," Amy says, suppressing a grin. She gestures imperiously and the girl passes the book over, eyes alight. It's a slightly worn copy, spine broken and pages dog-eared, clearly in the possession of a person who loves the words inside far more than she values the physical shell. Amy flips it open to the dedication page (To the raggedy man who pointed me at the stars) and twirls her fountain pen between her (not quite arthritic yet, thank you Rory) fingers. "To whom shall I make it out?"

"Oh!" the girl says. "To me. Sarah. That is, Sarah Jane Smith."

"Sarah Jane Smith," Amy echoes, writing it out. Such an ordinary name for such a bright-eyed young woman. Still, there's a kind of music in it, one that's all her own. "Shall I look for your name on the byline of tomorrow's papers?"

Sarah colors again at that, her cheeks tinting a light rose. "Perhaps not tomorrow," she says. Then her chin tilts up defiantly. "But the day after that, certainly!"

Amy laughs. To Sarah Jane Smith, she writes. May all the stars be someday within your grasp.

Looking at the young woman, Amy feels the strangest certainty that someday, they will be.


+1. Washington, D.C., 1969

It's been a hell of a long week. Hell, it's been a long several months, if he's going to be honest with himself. And if there's one thing Canton always tries to be, it's honest. Gotten him into all kinds of trouble, too.

Did he really admit to the goddamn President of the United States that he wanted to marry another man?

In the cozy sunlight of a Saturday morning at home, it all seems unreal, somehow. The Doctor, the Silence, tally marks on pale skin, wondering what was lurking just behind his back. He can't even remember what it was for. Can he?

He hears the shower running, and pulls on his robe, wandering out to the kitchen instead. Sam promised him pancakes this morning. Good thing, too, 'cause Canton can't cook worth a damn, and he's just about sick to death of cold coffees and greasy diner food. It's good to be home, and to know that he'll be staying here for a while.

Of course, that's when the damn doorbell rings.

"Seriously?" Canton asks the empty room. The dark, paranoid corner of his brain whispers that he really shouldn't have spoken so freely to the President, that he and Sam are breaking the law every damn day (twice or three times, actually, if they're lucky), that the Secret Service or the feds or the cops are here to arrest them both--

But that's not all that likely, and anyway, nothing he can do about it now if they are.

When the doorbell chimes again, he sighs and goes to answer it. Ten o'clock on a Saturday morning, for chrissakes. It's practically indecent.

A glance through the curtains on the front window reveals an unfamiliar older man and woman, maybe in their sixties or seventies, well-dressed, waiting patiently. Canton yanks open the door with a muttered curse. "If you're here to ask me if I've heard the good news, buddy, let me tell you--"

"Canton Delaware the third," the woman says, with a flourish. Her accent is...Scottish? "Surely you haven't forgotten us already?"

"It has been something like forty or fifty years," the man points out fastidiously.

"Not for him it hasn't!"

"Yes, but." The man gestures between them, with a fond sort of half-smile. "Well, look at us, Amy."

The penny drops. Canton gapes at them both. "Not -- Amy? And Rory? But--"

"See!" Amy says triumphantly, and damn, now that he's looking properly, who else could it be? She gives him a brilliant smile, and it's as though decades fall off her face.

"But I just said goodbye to you yesterday!" Canton protests. "You were--"

"Time travelers, remember," Amy says, with a wave of her hand. "It's complicated. We've been waiting rather a long time to see you again. Now, are you really going to leave a fragile old lady like myself standing out on the front step all day?"

"Fragile, my left foot," Rory mutters. But he's grinning, too, as he links his arm in hers.

There's a story to be told here, make no mistake. And -- well, what better way to spend a lazy Saturday than catching up with a couple of old friends? "Won't you come in?" Canton says with a courtly gesture, a matching grin growing on his own face.

"Don't mind if we do," Amy says airily as they step inside. "Now, first things first -- Canton, aren't you ever going to introduce us to your young man?"

Canton laughs and kicks the door shut behind them.