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Still Life (of you and me)

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It’s four days after the Doctor hasn’t returned that Amy’s worry turns into anger, and seven days when she believes that she won’t see him again for a long while, if ever.

“I can’t believe he left me again!” she yells, muffled, into the single pillow on the small bed.  Vincent stands leaning against the wall, fidgeting; he’s stuck with the decision of how to comfort her, but also in his mind he’s imagining painting what he sees — Amy strewn facedown, her hair tumbling forward and tangling in her arms that are connected to the gorgeous, delicate hands that are clutching at the bedclothes in such a harsh way that it seems impossible because they seem so delicate and fragile, and she has so so much despair, like somebody has physically removed from her anything that resembles faith and hope, leaving only sadness.

It is something that he recognizes.

“I’m sure that the Doctor will be back for you soon.  He said it’d be only a quick stop,” Vincent says reassuringly as he can.

Amy turns her head so she’s facing him. “Fourteen years,” Amy whispers.  “I waited that long for him to turn up, before.  I’m tired of waiting.”

Vincent shrugs.  “Then don’t wait.  Make your life your own.”

 

Vincent’s brother — Theo, Amy remembers — visits two weeks after she’s decided to stop waiting for the Doctor.  She’s sitting at the table cleaning paintbrushes when he enters, with Vincent following behind him.

“Ah, you must be the women that my brother wrote about in his letter.  Amy, the girl kissed by fire,” Theo says, and Amy catches Vincent’s gaze.  When he gives her a sly grin, Amy blushes — in a way that she can’t remember doing since…

…and the thought escapes her, chased away.  When the brothers look at her with concern, she forgets about the empty thought that had presence over her mind, and she offers to make lunch.

 

Amy complains about the clothing (“they don’t even wear clothes in the brothels like the ones you desire,” Vincent says to her), and she rants over the lack of proper respect for women — she considers starting the women’s movement early, but she supposes that would be one of those things that the Doctor would disapprove of (and she’s still angry with the Doctor, “that tosser,” she calls him in a fit of pique).  She fusses about how she misses things that Vincent doesn’t even know about, and he sits patiently while she explains things such as: a hairdryer, the BBC, Oreos.

 

On a particularly chilly night, Amy coaxes Vincent to join her in the bed and to stop sleeping on the floor because she finds his chivalry is ridiculous.  He struggles under the blankets, trying to not have any contact with Amy, but in the single bed that’s an impossible feat.  They settle with him lying on his back and Amy curled up on her side next to him, pressed into his body.

“Have beds changed much when you’re from?” he asks.  Amy lightly chuckles.

“Not really?  You still lay on them and stuff.  But oh!” she exclaims, and Vincent flinches at her sudden outburst.  “They have these special beds where you can press this button, yeah?  And it changes how soft the mattress is.”  She raises her arm from under the blanket and makes a motion of pressing a button with her thumb, and then lets her arm fall back down.  “So a person’s side of the bed can feel different than their bedmate’s.”

Vincent scrunches up his face, and after a moment says, “I do love you.”

“Yes, well.”  Amy leans her head on his shoulder.

 

She seduces him, and Vincent says that’s the first time a women has ever done that with him.  “First time for everything,” Amy says, and she bites at his shoulder, and he holds her hips gently, fingers brushing softly against her skin in a way that makes her arch into him.

After the first time, they lay tangled in the sheets while the midday sun trickles in through the one window in Vincent’s bedroom (although now, Amy thinks of it more as ours).  With a calloused finger, he trails an unseen, lazy pattern on Amy’s stomach.  She sighs.

 

It was bound to happen sooner or later, Amy figures, with the luxury of her birth controls gone (on the TARDIS, wherever that ship may be).  She panics, and she expects Vincent to panic more, but she’s never seen him more overjoyed.  That helps her a bit, but she thinks of the lack of epidurals and how her child will grow up during some of the less favorable times in history, and that intensifies the fear of motherhood.

Maybe if the Doctor is still out there — because yes, he’s alive, he just got the time wrong — this could be something that would cause a ripple big enough in the history that he will notice.

 

From what she can remember from her school psychology course, Amy identifies what Vincent is going through as mania.  She thought it would be different, with her here, but he stays awake most days until he collapses from exhaustion and cries incoherent phrases and breaks things and paints and paints and paints.

However, on the nights when he does sleep, he’ll crawl into bed with Amy and curl up against her back and wrap an arm around her stomach, gently rubbing her skin with a paint-stained hand.

“How do I die?” Vincent mumbles.  Amy’s breath hitches.

“I can’t tell you that.”

Vincent is silent for a few minutes, and then he says, “I think I know how.”

Amy breaks out in sobs, and Vincent promises that it’ll be alright.

 

Amy finally agrees to marry Vincent, knowing she can’t refuse him any longer if they want to do it before it becomes too noticeable that she’s with child.  At first she expects herself to be disappointed; never in any universe did she think that she would be happy with being married, but surprisingly she’s okay with it and discovers that the lifestyle can be for her.

(She ignores the nagging voice in her head that says that if the Doctor did come back — even the night before her wedding — that she would run off with him.)

Theo arraigns for them to move away, so Amy can have the baby in a better place, and somewhere people don’t know of Vincent yet.  Amy protests because of his work, but Vincent waves a hand and says how she and their child is now his job.  Amy bites her lip, and she imagines all the artwork being erased from existence.

(Doctor, is this enough?)

 

The baby is born, healthy, and they name him Theodorus, after Vincent’s brother.  It seems only right, since Theo named his child after Vincent.

Amy holds Theodorus and gently runs a hand through his hair — vividly ginger as either of his parents, and she says, “The ultimate ginger.”

“Hmm?” Vincent asks.

“Nothing.”  Right then, Amy realizes that she would never be able to go back to her old life, her life before the Doctor left her for the third time. Vincent’s love sometimes makes her heart ache — it’s as though she’s missing something that she had lost and was longing for, and now that she has a glimpse of it, she’s afraid to ever lose it.  Maybe that’s what love is: a quiet resonance that consumes.

 

Theo’s dying — Amy knows, and so does Vincent, but he won’t admit it.  One evening when Vincent is sleeping in the room next door, Amy presses a damp washcloth to Theo’s forehead to cool his temperature.  Theo grabs her hand and says in a shaky voice, “Vincent once told me something, but at the time I thought it was just him telling insane stories, because of his spells.”  He coughs.  “But now, I think he’s right.”

Amy swallows.  “What kind of stories?” she whispers.

“He told me you were from the future.”  Theo grins.  “You have to be, you’re so…different than everyone else.”

She’s about to say that’s crazy, something that she has trained herself to believe, but instead she leans in and says, “He’s right.”

 

Vincent’s brother does die, and Vincent has outlived the expectancy of the future that Amy once knew.  Time can be rewritten, but people can’t, and Vincent still has heartache, and he still paints, but when he paints, he paints for Amy and their child.

 

It’s many years later before Amy can entirely forgive the Doctor.  She finds that she can hardly recall his enthusiastic grin, his awkward gait, and she has trouble remembering the color of his eyes or the way his hair would sometimes flop into his face.  The hum of the TARDIS is no longer echoes in her dreams.  Her past slips through her fingers, and she can no longer deny that a madman in a box swept her away and she loved every second of it.

Feeling a loss, she sets out to write out the stories of a girl and a raggedy man and their adventures.  She saves enough money for a typewriter and she stays up late many nights, punching out the life before the one she has now.

Vincent peers over her shoulder.  “Others are going to think it very strange and surreal.”

“People like strange and surreal,” Amy says, “They just don’t realize it.”

Ten minutes later, Vincent comes to her with a sketch of the story she’s writing — terrifying angels made of stone that creep in the darkness.  “If you wanted to add it to your book, or something,” Vincent says.  Amy grins, and kisses him.

 

Amy publishes her book of short stories, with illustrations by Vincent.  Her book does not sell many copies but that is okay — writing it is the catharsis she needed.  They manage; life goes on.

However, nothing can last forever — she learned that long ago.

When she hears his voice it’s instantly familiar, and when she sees him he looks as he did all those years ago, and she’s struck with how quickly she remembers what she had forgotten about him.  He looks at her with an odd expression, and Amy realizes how different she must be to him.  It’s been nineteen years since that summer day when he left her with Vincent and did not return.

“Amelia Pond,” the Doctor says, and it sounds like the beginning of an apology, so Amy cuts in harshly with a don’t.  The Doctor nods and tries on a grin.  It doesn’t fit.  “Though I suppose it’s Van Gogh now though, isn’t it?”

Amy stays silent, watching him; she knows why he’s here.  She worries that her life with Vincent and their child will be destroyed, but despite everything—

“Please don’t ask me to leave,” Amy whispers.

The Doctor shifts, and shoves his hands in his pockets.  “I won’t.  I just wanted…”  His words falter, he clears his throat and tries again, “I read your book.  Great stories.  Too bad there isn’t more. I would have liked them.”

“Yeah, me too,” Amy says, and when she says it, it’s true; but her time with the Doctor was for another life — lost, with everything else that could have been.