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The Actor, chapter 8

Title: The Actor
Fandom(s): Doctor Who (modern)
Characters: David Tennant, Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Pairing(s): None (well, Amy and Rory)
Rating: PG, maybe PG-13
Warnings: Character death
Genre: Sci-fi, adventure

Summary: While filming his final specials for Doctor Who, David Tennant finds himself in the TARDIS, face-to-face with a future incarnation of the character he portrays, his childhood hero. When he discovers that he can't return to his own world, he must determine his place in this strange yet familiar universe.

Word count (chapter): 2246
Master post link: Master post


Life in the TARDIS was less frenetic than David had ever imagined. He’d always thought that the Doctor jumped directly from one adventure to the next, and as he tried to remember the history of the show, he recalled a few times that he did explicitly, but he should have realised that the companions, at the very least, needed food and sleep, however little of both the Doctor required.

The Doctor definitely loved travelling through time and the universe, and Amy’s penchant for new experiences drove him to jump from one place and time to the next until the humans dropped from exhaustion, but very few of the excursions resulted in dangerous situations. In fact, once the Doctor discovered that David had rested, he took them to view a collapsing binary system in which the two stars were about to collide, to watch the landing of Charles Lindbergh in Paris, to assist in the building of the medical center of a new human colony on Tau Ceti 3 in 4221, and to attend a jousting tournament in medieval England, and the most dangerous situation they encountered was of the Doctor’s own making, when he inadvertently insulted a knight’s mount while speaking in horse. David was fascinated by each new time and place to explore, and the non-stop journey succeeded in distracting him from brooding about going home. When he returned to his room afterwards, he fell into an immediate deep sleep.

They spent the next few days (or so it seemed to David; time in the TARDIS passed by waking periods and sleeping periods, not anything so fixed as days) parked in space while the Doctor worked on the TARDIS and did other Doctor-y things, though David wasn't sure what they were. He liked to have an audience around, so he sometimes insisted on someone accompanying him, resulting in impromptu fencing matches, rounds of liratu-ta (a sport from Algol 4 which David was particularly bad at, since it required four arms and eyes on the back of your head, but the Doctor seemed to enjoy and excel at anyway), and karaoke sessions. However, more often than not, the Doctor would simply disappear into the TARDIS and re-emerge hours later. David found it a bit disconcerting, because the Doctor would waltz in and continue whatever conversation he'd been having, as if he'd just been gone a few seconds.

Rory and Amy took this time to catch up on their own lives. Rory enjoyed browsing the TARDIS library for books on advanced medical knowledge, looking for concepts he could use in his nursing career. The Doctor had cautioned him on stealing technology from the future, and he was careful to discuss anything he found with him before taking any notes on it. Amy, on the other hand, evaded all of David's questions about what she did for a living, calling herself a "freelancer" without specifying what exactly she was freelancing. The couple also spent a lot of time together just doing normal things - cooking and eating meals, going on walks, enjoying the facilities the TARDIS had to offer, watching films from the extensive video library - and David made sure to give them their space.

This left him a lot of free time to himself. He tried to keep himself occupied to avoid falling into a depression, and one activity he enjoyed was exploring the TARDIS, searching for places he had seen in the show as well as seeking out the new and unusual that he knew was hidden among the endless corridors. He once found an entire theatre, with what looked like seating for over a thousand people, and he entertained himself by walking out onto the stage and performing several scenes from Hamlet to an imaginary audience. One room seemed to be open to space. From the entrance, there was a ten-foot square of floor, and then it just ended, with no walls or ceiling, just a door and infinity studded with stars in all directions. And he found a room with shelves and shelves of bottles of crystalline lumps and powders, none of which were labelled. Almost everything was covered with a thick layer of dust, though there were many bootprints on the floor and here and there, a few of the bottles were clean.

His favourite discovery was an apple orchard with some of the best fresh apples he had ever tasted, and he found himself returning there often, just to sit and read, taking advantage of the extensive collection of books in his room and the library. He alternated between researching about his new universe and devouring books of plays from the future.

It became quite apparent that his initial conjecture that Amy was the Doctor's primary companion was correct. What time she didn't spend with Rory, she spent with the Doctor, helping him with his activities around the TARDIS, dredging him for stories about time and space, and making suggestions about where to go next. This was fine by David: while he got along with her in general, he wasn't her fiance or her "Raggedy Doctor," and he was glad to be spared her bluntness and her overwhelming need for attention. It also gave him the opportunity to get to know Rory a lot better.

The two men kept each other company whenever the Doctor and Amy were otherwise occupied, and together, they started working through the TARDIS' collection of sci-fi and action movies, taking full advantage of the giant screen, surround sound, and incredibly comfy armchairs in the entertainment room. As Serenity came to an end, David, slouched almost horizontal in his chair, snaked a long arm over to the nearby table to grab his pop and slurp a mouthful through its straw.

Rory was lying on the sofa, head on the cushioned armrest. “Now that was a great film! You said that’s from a show on the telly? Couldn’t tell. I got lost only at a couple of points.”

David held his cup on his chest. “Yeah, one of my favourites. It’s called Firefly. I’ll bet we can find it over there.” He jerked his head in the direction of the shelves of media, but had no desire to move at all.

“I’d love to watch it, if it’s as good as the film. Got time. When Amy’s off with the Doctor, it’s usually for eight hours or more.”

David detected a hint of disquiet in his friend’s voice. He suspected that Rory was not quite sure what to make of Amy and the Doctor. “Hey. You okay?”

“Yeah. Fine.” Rory grabbed the remote and popped the disc drive open, then jumped up to put the movie away. “The TARDIS really needs to invest in electronic storage. Why?”

“Because you don’t sound fine.”

Rory put the disc in its case and returned it to the shelf. He pored over the titles of the films and finally broke his silence as he pulled out another case. “Here it is. Firefly.” He crossed back to the player and loaded the first disc, then flopped back down on the sofa. “Okay. Yes. I’m not fine. It’s just that, well, tomorrow’s our wedding.”

David jerked into a half-sitting position. “What? No one told me that. Congratulations!”

“No. You don’t get it. Tomorrow’s our wedding. Tomorrow’s always our wedding. No matter what day it is.” As the western-style Firefly theme music started playing from the menu screen, Rory laid back and stared at the ceiling. “He came on the day before our wedding to fly Amy around the universe. Then she kissed him. And then he jumped out of a cake at my bachelor party and bundled me in here. It's been the day before our wedding ever since.”

“Oh. I see.” David dropped his cup back on the table and laid back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, too. “The Doctor always complicates things.”

“‘Complicated’ is not the word. ‘Bizarre’ is the word. ‘Surreal.’ Maybe ‘psychotic.’”

“Yeah.” David snorted a laugh. “Yeah. Those are definitely better words for this situation.”

“Thing is, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the Doctor is doing anything. He’s an alien and he doesn’t act like a human, and I get that, but he seems to be… scared of anything personal. Almost like the way a little kid will go ‘ew’ when he sees kissing, he’s like that with us. And he was upset when he told me Amy had kissed him. He really didn’t want it.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I think you’re right.” He stared at the armrest and started picking at it with his fingernail. “He got burned very badly by a human, in his last life. Not by her, really, but by losing her. I think he’s scared of getting involved with anyone other than someone who will live as long as he will.”

“I think it’s more than that. I think he just doesn’t get that kind of thing. But it doesn’t matter. It’s not him. It’s Amy. I don’t think… I’m not sure… I don’t even know why I’m here. Amy’s been talking about her Raggedy Doctor since she was seven. When we were kids, she made Doctor dolls and drew police boxes. She made me dress up in a blue shirt and brown trousers she had torn holes in, with white trainers, and eat fish fingers dipped in custard - which is disgusting, by the way - and I had to tell her that I’d fly her away -”

“Oh! The brown suit!” David exclaimed, unable to stop himself. “Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to be rude.” He had pieced together what must have happened, that his Doctor had regenerated wearing the brown suit and Amy had met the new Doctor just afterwards. Holes in the suit? That death must have been particularly violent. He felt bad for his Doctor.

“What?” Rory was annoyed.

“Nothing important. I just remembered something. Please, go on. Sorry.”

Rory pursed his lips. “I think you see what I mean.”

“Yeah. She was obsessed with him then, and now…”

“Now he’s right there.” Rory sat up, almost pleading with David for some kind of help. “He’s the Doctor, David. He’s this incredible alien who takes her all across the universe and into the past and the future. How can I compete with that? I'm just a nurse. I've lived in Leadworth all my life. I don't even have it in me to become a doctor, a proper doctor, not like him. She doesn’t even look at me when he’s around.” He grabbed his head in both hands and tore at his hair.

"And the worst part is, I can’t just walk away. Amy's the only one for me. Always been. So I'm stuck here being second best." He flopped back down onto the sofa, staring up at the ceiling.

An uncomfortable silence fell between the two friends. David could see exactly what Rory was thinking: from his point of view, he must only see when Amy is with the Doctor, not remembering that Amy spends most of her time with her fiance. He probably also thought that she only spent time with him when she couldn't be with the Doctor. It was a lot easier to see clearly from outside of both relationships.

And what did he see? Rory worshipped Amy. The Doctor was very attached to Amy, as he always was to his favourite companion, but David saw no signs of romantic love in him. And Amy? It was clear that she loved Rory, but she was also obsessed with the Doctor. Was she in love with the Time Lord? Was her obsession platonic but stronger than her love for Rory? He couldn’t tell. There was one thing that he did notice, though...

"You know, Rory," David began tentatively, not sure if the man actually wanted advice, "I think there's one thing you should think about. You're here, in the TARDIS."

"Oh, don't start that.” His tone dripped with weary irritation. “Amy's always telling me I should be excited to be travelling through space and time. I don't really want this. I want to be home."

"No, no, that's not what I meant. I mean, you're here, with Amy. If she didn't want you, you wouldn't be here. Even if Amy hasn't figured everything out yet, the fact you're still here means she still wants you. You're not second best. At worst, you're tied for first."

There was a brief silence, then Rory replied, "I'm not sure that makes me feel any better."

"It tells you a little about what Amy's thinking."

Another slight pause. "Yeah, it does." Rory rolled over so that he was facing the screen. "I just have to wait and see. I can deal with being 'tied for first' for a bit, I think." He grabbed the remote and thumbed the "play" button, and the two friends settled in to watch the first episode of Firefly.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
a_phoenixdragon
May. 4th, 2014 08:05 pm (UTC)
Poor Rory...though he should definitely listen to David, who has a good point there.

*HUGS*
shivver13
May. 6th, 2014 04:31 am (UTC)
I always felt that Rory really needed perspective from outside the TARDIS. It was doubly hard for him because the only people he had to talk to were the Doctor and Amy.

On a completely unrelated note, I loved that Idris thought the "pretty one" was Rory. Arthur Darvill is really handsome. :)
a_phoenixdragon
May. 6th, 2014 04:35 am (UTC)
Though he was a steady fellow. Always loved Rory...even his jealousy was endearing, lol!!

Right?! *Laughs* He is awfully lovely - and that whole thing was great! Idris was a hit in our house. Hubby and I waited most of our lifetimes for proof the TARDIS is alive and well...there it was! And she was just as eccentric and quirky as her pilot. Makes me wonder who influenced who? *Beams*
shivver13
May. 6th, 2014 04:26 pm (UTC)
So LOVE that episode. Idris was just wonderful. She really captured the energy and wonder of a centuries-old spaceship exploring life for the first time, as well as the eccentricity you'd expect from the TARDIS. <3
luorescence
May. 8th, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)
I absolutely love Rory, he's such a sweet and endearing guy and Amy is lucky to have him. Actually, I mostly appreciate Amy because Rory loves her... and I don't know if that makes sense but well...
shivver13
May. 8th, 2014 07:08 pm (UTC)
It makes sense because I feel the same way! Amy is a fun character, but I wouldn't like her if I met her in real life.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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