He heard it in his favorite room, under the console, polishing various things. He hadn't heard it in... well, he admitted, not a very long time. But he'd changed, he'd changed, honest he'd changed...
He scoffed at himself. 900 years, and he still sounded like a little schoolboy.
The Doctor supposed that it was just an Ood checking in on him. Coming up to the main console, he smiled to himself. Dutiful ol' Ood. He raised a hand in greeting. It wasn't necessary, due to their shared psychic abilities, but he was a creature of habit.
Suddenly, he felt a headache coming on. That was the problem with Ood; they had such a strong psychic power, it hurt his head even to be near them. He braced himself for the numbing pain in his head. But instead, the Ood spoke.
“The Doctor, formerly the Doctor-Donna?”
The Doctor smiled at the thought of Donna.
“Your song is ending.”
He was biting his fingernails already. It hadn't been very long, hadn't been very long at all. In fact, it had been a pitifully short time since then. He shuddered.
“O. K,” he said in a voice that showed how okay he was not. He tried to rationalize it in his head. After all, the Ood hadn't specified the time at which his song would end. And it always was and always would be ending.
“Is that all, er, Sigma?”
“That is all.”
Ood Sigma disappeared, answering no questions. He had gone, but the Doctor still had a headache.
A blurry picture — Amy was still half asleep.
“Asleep,” moaned Amy.
“Ameliaaaaaa,” the fellow moaned back in a way that suggested he was making puppy dog eyes right now, and not having a very good night. Amy finally rubbed her eyes and sat up.
Oh, it was her favorite tweedy-backed time traveler! Except not very favorite right now, seeing as it was 2 AM, or at least it was in Leadworth, and she had been dreaming. And her dream hadn't been about him and what was going to happen to him soon enough, hadn't filled her with dread for the first time in days.
He was waving a piece of paper.
“Amelia, there's just a list here of things you have to do, and it's absolutely imperative that you do them right now, while I do other things that are also imperative.”
He handed the paper to her with restless, jittery hands and wide eyes.
“Now?” Amy was not a morning person.
“Yes, now, that's what I meant by imperative, you can wake up Rory if you want, though.” Amy thought that was a good idea. Rory was a morning person. She tapped on the bunk bed above her. When that didn't work, she yelled rather louder than was necessary.
Rory almost jumped out of the top bunk. He'd been dreaming too, but unlike Amy, it hadn't been a good dream. It was about... well, it was about Granny Thornton. Despite all the evil aliens he'd seen since he was twelve, he still had nightmares about that one terrible day when she babysat him.
“Doctor, what are you doing in here?” Rory wondered if some alien fungus had invaded his room or something. “If you need a blanket, it's in the cabinet...”
“No, no, list, things, imperative...” He tottered out of the room, looking like a broken lawnmower running on high power. Looking back out of the hallway, he attempted a smile. “Have fun.”
Amy read the list out loud to Rory, snickering as she did it. Written in shaky, rushed handwriting, unlike the Doctor's usual cursive, it said:
“1. Dispose of all bricks, spiders, radiation, etc. inside TARDIS.
2. Install pillows on all sides of the console.
3. Remind me never to go to America.
4. Fix the TARDIS [diagram included] so that I can never go to a Dalek, Cyberman, or Rose Tyler-inhabited area.
5. Don't let me eat pears.
6. Remove all aspirin from the TARDIS.
7. Put yourself on speed dial on the TARDIS phone.”
But Amy stopped snickering when she read the end of the note.
“If this doesn't work, for any reason, if something bad happens to me, run. Just run. Don't do anything else, the TARDIS will take you home, then leave her behind. Leave us behind. But remember us.”
There was a shared look between them. Maybe they'd been looking at each other angstily one too many times lately. Maybe they weren't as good at lying as he was.
Whatever the reason, he knew.
Amy left the bedroom. She wasn't going to finish her dream now. She put on a brave face and skipped out to the console room, where the Doctor was... making tea.
"Um, ah, er, Amelia! Are you finished with the list?"
"No, but I was wondering... where are we going today?"
"Going? Why would we want to go anywhere when we're in the best place in the universe, my nice, safe, beautiful, safe, comfortable, safe, efficient, safe old girl?"
"What happened to the wide universe, all of time and space ours? What happened to saving innocent beings? What happened to everything you promised us, Doctor?"
"Things can happen in the universe, things that none of us can deal with. Sometimes it's better to hide."
"But there's beauty in it, and that's worth everything else."
"Yes," the Doctor agreed, "yes there is. But not enough. And here," he extended his arms, "here there's more than anywhere else in the universe. While we've been traveling the universe, we've been missing the best part of it: her!"
As he held his arms in a dramatic hand motion, a lever turned on the TARDIS by itself.
"Looks like she disagrees with you."
The Doctor blanched.
"She's just... modest."
After a bit more coaxing, a bit of consolatory disposing of bricks, an awkward visit to a pillow factory, and killing more spiders than either Amy or Rory could have ever imagined, the Doctor finally agreed to go somewhere.
"Somewhere safe, though," he said as usual, as always. Amy and Rory knew where they were going wasn't going to be safe, relaxing or peaceful.
And yet it was. Sitting on a porch swing at their rented house (electricity, a TV, a fridge, no cobwebs, no monsters), Amy and Rory wondered how. It was odd, it was scary, and they honestly weren't sure if they liked it. The monsters defined the Doctor as much as his box did, and now it was like he wasn't himself anymore. Rory resolved to ask him about it.
He was standing in front of a barbecue, grilling, when Rory tentatively asked: "Um, Doctor, why are we here?"
"Because it's beautiful, this planet, and it's safe!"
Rory looked around at the sky, breathed the smoke in, and sighed. "Doctor, this is Earth. And you've never wanted safe before."
"Of course I have! Even I need rest, relaxation... remember Zenu Beta 8?"
"There were vampires."
"They were nice vampires!"
"They were trying to kill us."
“Yes, but they were doing it nicely.”
Rory rubbed his eyes. He could tell this was going to take a while. So he took the direct approach.
"Doctor, who told you?"
"Told me? Told me what exactly?"
Rory remembered what River had said to him, how the Doctor must never know, and changed his mind. Rory had never been a liar, but it seemed like that was changing. Just like everything else.
"Nothing, it's just, er..." The only ruse Rory could think of was a party. "Do you have a birthday?"
The Doctor answered rather too quickly. "No."
"Oh." There was a long, scary pause, full of things that neither man wanted to confront. "Really?"
He had finally managed to get Amy and Rory out for fish and chips. Leaning against those wonderful blue doors, he had one moment of rest. Then he heard the song again. He put on a smile, tried his hardest to look dignified, but kept thinking:
"You do realize, Sigma, that I'm not going to die any time soon. I've made sure of that."
Quicker than he could think it, a reply came back in his head.
"We never said soon."
"Well, no, but... why did you come?"
"Memento mori, Doctor."
"Yes, well, I've got plenty of that, thank you."
But even before the Doctor could send a reply of several telepathic question marks and probably a telepathic curse for good measure, Ood Sigma was gone.
"Goodbye!" the Doctor said out loud exasperatedly and set on his way to the study. He was going to have to try a bit of numerology.
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