“Oh,” Rory says, “oh, you didn’t.”
Amy’s eyes are still gummed sticky-wet, her throat is still crowded, but she scrubs a hand at a drying cheek and manages a sheepish smile.
“Of course I did,” she says.
She wouldn’t be the woman he married if she hadn’t, wouldn’t be the little girl who curled her fingers through his and dragged him through the fields on adventures that were imaginary until they weren’t. She wouldn’t be herself if she had left him behind, and she tries to say these things, her heart and her mouth still full of his lonely grave, and all she’s really doing is laughing, the shivery kind that will come away wet when she touches her cheeks.
When Rory pulls her close, his fingers dig into her clothes, her skin, like he’d already pictured his whole life without her in the minutes before she found him, like he’d already lost her again. Amy clutches him back; she’s lost him enough times that finally winning him is almost more than she can comprehend right now, time dust beneath their feet.
Raw relief has only really begun to spill into wait, what the hell are we going to do when River shows up, an ocean of remarkable calm when compared with the way Amy and Rory won’t let go of each other, half-terrified the world will crack if they step apart. After all; it wouldn’t be the first time. She lets them pull her into their embrace anyway, or perhaps she just steps into it, willing despite the glass smiles and the trigger-happy fingers to just be a daughter for a moment, a daughter who was lost until she wasn’t.
“I’ve brought you a house-warming gift,” she says.
“We don’t have a house,” Amy says carefully, because they don’t have anything but each other and the clothes they stand up in; and she’s sold herself enough times before.
River holds out a handful of papers. “Are you sure about that?”
The paperwork is in both their names, neatly printed from a typewriter; apparently they bought the house outright over a year ago.
“And you might need this,” River adds, once they both look up from the property deed.
River is holding a beige sack, bulging just a little, with a large black dollar sign printed on the side. Pure slapstic comicbook.
“This should keep you going,” she says, and they don’t need to open it to know what’s inside.
Amy is a wash of tangled emotions today, too many to count or even for one person to feel all at once today, but she feels a prod as something maternal and firm comes to the surface.
“Did you steal this?” she asks, trying for disappointed and firm and probably falling far short.
“It’s a child’s job to keep her parents in their old age,” River responds, cheerful, neatly side-stepping the question and pressing the sack into Rory’s hands.
They could refuse it, but all of them already know that they won’t.
After a while, Amy starts thinking of it as jetlag.
“One of us is going to have to learn to cook,” she sighs, slumped on the sofa. Their new house is bigger than anything they’ve ever managed to afford in their own time – no, no, this is their own time now, must remember that – and once they’ve figured out where they’re going to get a few new domestic things in a world without Ikea they’ll probably get along fine with it. For now, both of them are just sprawling around trying for something other than shell-shock.
They’re trying not to just sit around counting their losses on more fingers than they own, but it’s not exactly easy. Perhaps they’ve seen their fill of the miraculous, the beautiful, the unusual, the impossible, the terrifying; perhaps they haven’t seen their fill of reality TV after all.
You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, and that’s a song Amy won’t hear for a few decades.
“You’re looking at me when you say that, aren’t you,” Rory responds, arm thrown across his eyes, but his mouth is curling in something like a smile and Amy thinks she can survive forever on that alone; which is good, because it turned out she’ll have to.
“We could get started trying to make househusbands a trend,” Amy offers. “Kickstart feminism a bit early.”
“And you’re not just saying that because you nearly burned the house down on my last birthday?” Rory asks, quick and teasing, lifting his arm enough to look at her with fond amusement.
“Well,” Amy concedes, “that too.”
“You’re doing much better with this than I am,” Amy remarks. It’s been maybe two weeks, and they’re learning; talking to the neighbours, patching together a story they can tell for the rest of their lives that doesn’t touch the truth but which sounds nice when they say it. There’s only so many times you get to rewrite your own history, after all.
“Am I?” Rory sips his coffee, his knees sliding against hers beneath the table. Amy hates her forties underwear, is worrying she’s going to have to do something to her hair involving disconcerting hairdressing implements, and she thinks some part of her is waiting to wake up, to walk into a TARDIS and back out into the home she’s always known. At the end of everything, there’s always been that.
Rory, sheepish, mumbling that he’s the capable one, another argument they had a long time ago before it turned out some things were more important than that – if anyone could adapt to this kind of brutal change, it would be Rory. He’s her sanity, in a life that’s involved far too much unreality, uncertainty.
“You are,” Amy says, toying with his fingers on the tabletop.
Rory’s smile flickers; real, but strained at the corners. “This isn’t my first time,” he reminds her.
Once, Rory was a Roman and a robot and he lived for centuries while he waited for her, on and on and on through the dark. Maybe Amy falling backwards through time to join him means they’re equal now, but they’ve never thought of their love like that, in balances and measures and favours, and this is a honeymoon period all over again; new costumes, new places, new sides to the same old affection.
She considers her answer for a moment. “Do you remember anything cool we can bet on?”
Rory laughs, maybe the first real one she’s heard since they got here. “The longer we stay here, the more I remember,” he says, “but I was actually quite busy at the time trying to protect you from the Blitz.”
That’s a thing, by the way; America is all music and candy and Amy finally settling down to read Gone With The Wind, and London is falling to pieces under German bombers. At some point they’ll be out there too: her and Rory and their daughter, crossing back and forth across the world and across time and space until the pin finally hits the map and here they are. Here they are.
“Oh.” Amy’s grasp of history is Romans and Vikings and whatever the Doctor misquoted at her while they were running around making a mess; the minutiae of the twentieth century is a little lost on her. “Maybe we could put a fiver on Germany losing.”
Rory’s expression is fond incredulity, and sometimes Amy’s breath still catches on how close she came to losing him, one last time.
Amy’s lived a half-dozen lives in the past few years, some of which ended up never happening at all, and she and Rory have both spent so many years and so many decades waiting that this, their final destination, is a kind of climax after all, the silence after the sound and fury. Here they are, in a new country, years before they’ll ever be born, and Amy will live one of the childhoods that she remembers. She’s not entirely sure which one, but Rory will be there; the only constant she’s ever needed.
She watches the stars these days, though for the first time she’s not looking for anything. There are plenty of things to miss – microwaves and google and mobile phones and mainstream feminism and Haribo Starmix – and a friend she’ll never see again is near the top of that list, but the adventures have left a wound that healed on their way out. The view from the ground looks better than it ever used to.
They have a garden, and Rory makes noises about learning to garden, while they look at this house River picked out for them with what has turned out to be perfect care, and set about turning into a home. Amy stands in it in a cardigan and looks at the sky and thinks about skies she’ll never see again, but she doesn’t cry about it anymore, and Rory’s arms curl around her waist, the only familiarity she’s ever wanted anyway.
“Still protecting the universe?” he asks softly, his smile pressed into her hair.
“Something like that,” Amy replies, and it’s funny how once upon a time this was the only thing she knew to run from. It’s strange, the way things work out in the end. She lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, and says: “I was thinking I might write a book.”
She’s got to do something with her new life, after all, and she doesn’t much fancy trying to pick modelling back up again; crinolines and long hours pretending to look happy. Maybe this time around she and Rory can stay at home more, create a galaxy within four walls or something less pretentious that her editor can take out for her later.
“About spaceships and aliens and changing the world every other week?” Rory suggests, and his fingers twitch though his body doesn’t move.
“Maybe,” Amy says, “but I might break that rule and write about something I don’t know.”
Rory is silent for a while. “Domesticity?” he says in the end, soft.
“I can learn on the job,” Amy replies, and kisses him under the light of the moon, just another married couple in the big city, just the turn of a page.