f: Doctor Who
ch: cottoncandy_bingo – playing music
s: Band AU. Oh mister Doctor man, you said you’d come back soon/Are you still running scared? Are you hiding on the moon?
n: [Title from New Romantic by Laura Marling] Yeah, so, Amy and Rory are living the glamorous lives of an unsigned modern folk duo with a camper van. I’ve been planning this for a couple of months and wrote the chorus of an actual song to go in here, but I figured today was the day to write it. So: one of about ten band AUs I’ll probably end up writing in the next couple of months, for one of my utter OTPs.
Oh mister Doctor man, you said you’d come back soon
Are you still running scared? Are you hiding on the moon?
Did your spaceship break down on the surface of Neptune?
Are you watching me singing from the back of the room?
Won’t you please tell me why so I can stop watching the sky
Oh, mister Doctor man.
Amy wears a binliner for Glastonbury, mud splashed over the top of her pink wellies and up the back of her bare legs. Her rucksack is basically full of t-shirts and waterproof mascara, and Rory is pretty sure that he can’t pull off a binliner with the same level of panache Amy does. He’s grateful, once more, for his dad’s camper van because tents are getting washed away all over the place and it’s kind of nice to have somewhere to go at the end of the day that’s cramped but not flooded.
“My pants are soaked,” Rory complains, stretching awkwardly out on one of the seats. Amy’s lying on the other one, wet hair splayed over the cushions, the nails of her fingers and toes painted to match her wellies. “How can my pants be soaked?”
“I always had doubts about that anorak,” Amy responds, poking her tongue out at him before she rolls onto her side, long bare legs freckled with mud. “Does it matter?” she adds.
Rory thinks about the year they came to Glastonbury as teenagers, with Jeff and Melody and some of their other school friends: they crammed into a tent and drank a lot of horrible cheap beer and Amy snogged half the guys in the neighbouring tent by the end of the long weekend. It was a good trip though, and it finally really sinks in why Amy’s been grinning like that all day.
They’ve played Glastonbury.
They’re not headlining, of course, or even playing any of the stages that the BBC will be covering, but people turned out to see them and danced along even though it was raining and Rory might have wet underwear and what might end up turning into pneumonia, and none of it even matters.
Amy gives a happy shriek and clambers over the table, making the whole van rock precariously, so she can throw herself on top of Rory. She’s all elbows and sodden hair and Rory only just catches her before she can brain herself on the edge of the table, but she’s his best friend and his everything and he buries his face in her neck and laughs too.
The last night, they share a bottle of champagne they find in the bottom of Rory’s rucksack – he’ll have to thank his dad for that when they get home – and listen to the headliners on the radio, huddled up under blankets on the lumpy double mattress while the rain pours down on the roof.
“I never want to be anywhere else,” Amy sighs, smelling of dry shampoo and warm champagne, leaning into Rory’s side while they pass the bottle back and forth and periodically re-tune as the radio spills into white noise, interrupted by the storm.
Rory presses his smile into her hair.
It started, as most things do, because there’s nothing to do in Leadworth. Rory loves their home village, he really does, but it doesn’t have a cinema or any shops and it took him a while to get his drivers’ license and then convince his dad he wasn’t going to kill anybody if he got to borrow the car from time to time, so when Amy unearthed her dad’s chipped and tuneless old guitar one boring weekend it sealed some kind of fate. Amy got bored in the end of the sore fingertips, chipped nails and chord memorising, but Rory stuck at it, learning Amy’s favourite chart songs so she could sing along while they lay on the green, whiling away summer afternoons.
Amy started writing her own songs because she spent her teenage years going through therapists the way other girls were going through boyfriends and it was really only a matter of time before all of that manifested itself into lyrics. Because it was Amy, though, the songs weren’t exactly conventional teenage angst, and despite spending several hours a day with her every day for almost a decade Rory still couldn’t decipher all of them.
And, well, when Amy suggested they take their clumsy little duo on the road, Rory was never going to do anything but follow.
Amy Pond & Rory Williams are definitely ones to look out for – though still unsigned, their three EPs are available both on their website and on itunes, while their live shows are definitely creating a stir. The new young British folk scene is full of bands using the mainstream breakthrough of acts like Mumford & Sons and Frank Turner to push their own exploration of the medium, so how do Pond & Williams compare? Favourably is the response. Pond’s haunting vocals and sharp lyrics are like a schizophrenic Laura Marling, telling tangled tales of forgotten first loves, fractured families and brutally personal therapy sessions, woven together with the overarching story of an imaginary childhood friend who refuses to leave. Williams, meanwhile, backs Pond up both with vocals and tumbling melodies that you’ll find yourself humming for days. Next month sees the release of their first full-length album – </b>Big Blue Box</b>, available from bandcamp from the 24th – and the start of a UK-wide tour: catch them if you can, because their future is looking very, very bright.
They eat biscuits on the floor of Amy’s bedroom, faces glowing in the fairylights. Amy’s sorting through the boxes she keeps under her bed: the boxes where she keeps the Doctor.
There are piles of drawings and paintings and collages, papier mache dolls, clumsy 3D cardboard models, notebooks full of stories in her childish handwriting. The reports from the psychiatrists are in there too, in carefully-labelled envelopes, and so are the costumes Amy made Rory wear when they were children and he was the Doctor and she was his assistant and together they saved the world, over and over again in parks and back gardens and playgrounds.
Not all Amy’s songs are about the Doctor; at least, Rory’s pretty sure they aren’t all about the Doctor, but even he’s not completely sure. Some of the references are difficult to spot, some of the songs might actually be about Amy’s first boyfriend, some of them might be about her therapists, but the Doctor never fades away, is never forgotten.
Rory watches, and nibbles Hobnobs, and wonders if Amy’s looking for fresh inspiration or if she just needs to do this from time to time, to work through her childhood shrine to her Doctor. He doesn’t say anything, though he lets a reminiscent smile slide across his mouth when he spots the tie they stole from his dad and took scissors to for the appropriate shredded effect.
Amy doesn’t say anything because she never does when she’s doing this; Rory’s heard her stories a dozen times, a hundred times, knows the words as well as Amy does by now, and this isn’t the time for discussion. It’s for Amy’s fingers to spread over dark blue paint, pencil letters, crumbling models packed away with love and care in bubble wrap and sandwich bags, the pieces of something so big Rory’s not sure he’ll ever be able to comprehend it.
Leave me to dream, my raggedy man
Leave me to dream while I still can.
Rory dozes in the passenger seat while Amy drives: if he had any other option he wouldn’t let her do it, since to call her style of driving ‘reckless’ would be being kind, but he can’t do all the driving and they haven’t actually crashed yet.
Amy’s humming to herself, the radio turned down to a soft burble while they drive through the dark, eating up the motorway mile by mile. The van smells of the coffee they stopped at the last motorway services for, and Rory is warm underneath the Primark fleece blanket Amy chucked at him when he first started nodding off. He’s getting used to living out of rucksacks in Holiday Inns and on friends’ sofas and in their little camper van; now he can fall asleep anywhere, used to the roads, to the periods of crazy activity and then the long stretches of nothing.
This wasn’t what Rory originally planned for his life, of course it wasn’t, but he finds himself minding less and less every day.
They finish a cover of Laura Marling’s Rambling Man to enthusiastic applause, and Amy turns to grin at Rory, eyes bright under the spotlights. She’s wearing false eyelashes, a candy necklace and bracelets she found in a newsagents’ and a pretty vintage dress, teamed with strong boots for all the stamping she does in lieu of a drummer.
“Now,” she says, turning her grin back to their audience, while Rory tightens the G string of his guitar a little, “this is a song about a friend I had as a child, which is not actually a rip off of The Cat In The Hat, like someone on twitter suggested, though I get the similarities.”
She laughs, and their audience laughs with her because there’s something brilliant and infectious about Amy; she can and will make you do anything for her.
What the audience don’t know, what Amy will never tell them, is that Amy believes that this happened. She never grew out of her imaginary friend the way other people do, and maintained this belief through four psychiatrists, her mother crying, and frequent letters sent home from school. A low-down little part of Rory thinks that Amy really is still waiting for her Doctor to come back and get her, and he worries both that somehow he’ll come to take her, and that he won’t.
One way means that his heart gets broken, one way means that hers does. Nobody wins.
Amy looks to Rory, nods to show she’s starting, and kicks off the beat, stamping her foot on the wired up board to get the audience clapping along, and a moment later Rory joins in on the guitar and there’s no room for thinking anymore.
They stargaze in a Holiday Inn Express carpark at two in the morning, flat on their backs on the cold tarmac. They’re both a little drunk but they don’t have a show tomorrow so it’s fine; they might do some sightseeing, they might just sleep in for a change.
Amy’s laughter is loose, easy like her limbs, sprawled and half-tangled with Rory’s while he attempts to pick out constellations that aren’t just Orion or the Big Dipper. He’s getting her hair in his mouth and his arm’s going to sleep, but he’s happy to stay here like this for the moment, looking up at the cold and bright stars.
“You should call your dad,” Amy informs him, “I bet your dad wouldn’t resort to making up constellations.”
“My dad’s asleep,” Rory reminds her, “you’re stuck with me.”
Amy pouts but links their fingers together anyway, letting out a sigh that mists in the air above her because it’s getting colder, autumn setting in. Rory squeezes her hand and she squeezes back.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it,” Amy remarks at last, unblinking, satellites reflected in her eyes.
“It is,” Rory agrees, and shifts a little as a thought occurs to him. “Are you looking for something?”
Amy’s smile is a little sad at the edges. “Not tonight.”
Well, Amy isn’t crazy, but some days Rory feels like he’s the only person who believes this, including Amy herself.
Rory was never aware of falling in love with Amy because he’s been in love with her for as long as he can remember; he can pick any memory at random and every single one is coloured with an awkward devotion that he’s never felt the need to mention. They live on top of one another, sharing underwear when the laundry situation gets dire, sharing the double mattress in the camper van and kneeing each other in sleep. He’s never found the time to tell Amy that she’s… well, she’s Amy, and that’s more than enough.
Amy’s had boyfriends, though they’re on tour a lot and share so much living space it’s not currently possible for her to have one now, or even to pick up random guys in bars on their off nights, though Rory always makes sure to tell her that she can, if she wants to, while she rolls her eyes.
Maybe she’s just waiting for the Doctor, and everyone else in the meantime is superfluous, shades in the mist.
He doesn’t write the songs, anyway, which is probably good because occasionally, late at night when he can’t sleep, he leaves fragments and shreds on napkins and notepads and it’s all far too maudlin. Rory’s never pitied himself and he doesn’t intend to start now, or ever, in fact.
“Penny for them,” Amy says, and Rory shakes a head, waves a hand.
“Nothing,” he replies, smiles.
Amy wraps her arms around him from behind and smacks a kiss to his cheek. “I’m going to get some tea, want some?”
“Please,” he responds, and watches her bounce off, all legs and boots and a skirt impractical for the season because Amy’s always believed that weather forecasts are for other people.
He swallows the fondness in his smile and goes back to flicking through the newspaper, making the most of the sunlight before the chill of the evening sets in.
“They’re claiming there are aliens in Cardiff,” Amy muses, cross-legged on her bed while she scrolls down the screen of her iphone.
“They’re always claiming there are aliens in Cardiff,” Rory reminds her. “It’s like Area 52 for the twenty-first century, Conspiracy Theory Central.”
Amy tuts and ignores him, still reading the news story on her phone.
“I’m not sure why,” Rory continues, mostly to himself, “nobody ever films any sci-fi movies in Cardiff, it’s all a bit too dignified and soggy for a proper invasion.” He stretches out on his bed, reaching for the TV remote. “We’re down there in a couple of weeks,” he points out, “we can go snooping if you like.”
Amy locks her phone screen and tosses it aside, looking annoyed. “You don’t have to humour me,” she points out.
“It might be fun,” Rory protests.
They’ve been travelling for a couple of months now, and it’s really starting to take its toll. Last time they toured, Amy threw a (full) bottle of wine at his head, and the time before that they got kicked out of a hotel for trying to attack each other with bedside lamps.
Amy shakes her head. “I know you think I’m mad, you don’t have to play along, I won’t get upset.” Her lip curls. “I’m not actually a psychopath like everyone believes.”
“No one believes that,” Rory says quietly.
“Of course they do,” Amy snaps. “All of you do.”
She’s tired, Rory reminds himself, tired and lashing out at him because he’s the only thing that’s there.
“Don’t,” he snaps back anyway, “don’t dismiss me like that, you know I’m on your side in this.”
“No-” Amy begins, but Rory isn’t going to wait here for this to escalate.
“Sometimes, I’m the only one that’s on your side,” he all but shouts, pushing himself to his feet. “You might want to remember that.”
He doesn’t slam the door when he leaves, but he thinks about it.
When I woke up in my garden
I knew we were through
But if you can leave me
Why can’t I leave you?
When Rory comes back, Amy’s still awake, wearing a jumper over her pyjamas and channel-hopping like the TV’s done something to personally offend her.
“It’s okay,” Rory says before she can even open her mouth, “we’re fine. We’re just tired and grouchy and we should probably see if they do laundry here because if I have to wear these jeans one more time I’m going to burn them.”
Amy smiles a little, but her expression is pensive. “Why do you do this?” she asks.
Rory shrugs. “What else am I doing to do?”
He toes off his shoes, scrubs a hand through his hair. He’s been hiding out in the hotel bar, watching a football match he wasn’t interested in and nursing a beer he didn’t really want to drink. Right now, he just wants to crash out and sleep for at least eight hours.
“I mean it.” Amy’s voice is serious. “I mean, we’re not exactly making a fortune and we probably never will, and we drive around in your dad’s old camper van and hurt ourselves lugging amps about and we have a league table of Holiday Inns.”
“Are you not enjoying this anymore?” Rory asks. “Because, you know-”
“Rory,” Amy interrupts.
They sit in silence for a long moment, and when Rory doesn’t venture anything Amy eventually says: “I mean, you gave up your whole life to do this for me.”
Well, there’s nothing left now but the truth, so Rory shrugs and points out: “Amy, you are my whole life.”
Amy’s eyes go wide, and for a moment Rory wishes that they were yelling this so he could take it back, make this somehow easier.
He grimaces, pushes himself to his feet again. “Look, I’ll sleep in the van tonight, we’ll talk about this in the morning.”
He actually gets three steps toward the door when Amy snaps: “oh, Rory Williams, you are an idiot,” and she’s spinning him around. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are glittering and that’s all Rory can gather before she’s kissing him, hands in his hair, fisting greedily in his t-shirt.
Rory thinks: oh, and then kisses her back.
Six months later.
Things are pretty informal at venues; they set up their own sound systems, sell their own CDs in intervals, and hang out to talk to the audience afterwards and maybe let them buy them drinks.
Rory’s just thanking an earnest young couple who’ve come to tell him what a good time tonight when he hears Amy shriek behind him; he makes his excuses, and turns to find out what’s happened.
Amy is hugging a tall man with messy hair like she’s never going to let him go, talking at about a mile a minute too quietly for Rory to catch. Now she’s quietened down people have stopped staring and gone back to their own conversations, but Rory frowns, something familiar pricking in his mind.
“I can’t believe you found me,” Amy says, drawing back.
“You wrote songs about me,” the man replies, “I mean, no one’s ever done that before, of course I was going to track you down, Pond.”
She looks him up and down, folding her arms. “I was going to say at least your outfit’s in one piece, but, well.” Amy reaches to tug at the dark red bowtie knotted around the man’s throat.
“I wear a bowtie now,” he says defensively, taking a step back, “bowties are cool.”
Amy laughs, and then turns to see Rory watching. “Rory!” she says, and he’s never seen that expression on her face before, never. “Rory,” she repeats, “Rory, this is the Doctor.”
His first reaction is not to believe it, of course he can’t believe it, except that the man with the messy hair and prominent chin and bright eyes does bear more than a passing resemblance to the man in all of Amy’s childhood drawings.
“…oh my God,” is the only thing he can manage, because, well, what else is there to say.
Amy grins at him, wide and toothy, and says: “Doctor, this is Rory.”
The Doctor is looking at him with an expression that must be as appraising as the one Rory’s wearing himself, and Rory does his best not to puff his chest up, because he wasn’t the one who disappeared for over a decade, after all. After a moment, the Doctor seems to nod to himself, and then he turns to Amy. “So: are you coming, Pond?”
“About time,” Amy says, and Rory is so numb he can’t even breathe, except that she holds a hand out to him and adds: “come on,” on a soft smile that is his, only for him.
Rory considers it for all of two seconds, and then he laces their fingers together.
Amy’s already tugging him away, but he does remember to grab his guitar before they leave.