On the TARDIS, there isn’t day, and there isn’t night, but there are times when Amy is awake when she feels she should be sleeping. Insomnia is a feeling quite distinct from that of a world without bedtimes. On one such night, Amy wanders out to the control room with no thought of what she’ll do, other than the vague hope of finding a mug of hot tea.
She finds the Doctor hunched over the console, eyes wide as the bowl of the spoon that he’s dropped on the floor. He seems not to blink, staring with a daft intensity into the mug propped in front of him. He looks up at the sound of her footsteps, fixes his gaze on a point just below her eyes.
“Amy,” he says, not quite mustering an interrogative tone, “What’re you doing up? Thought you were sleeping.”
“Couldn’t. Doctor, you look…” she trails off. Waves a hand slowly in front of her face.
He blinks. “Hmm? Oh, yeah. Sorry. Just…trying to get some work done on the TARDIS.”
“No, I mean you look,” pauses again, searching for the right word. “You look really…out of it.”
Suddenly he’s all bravado. “What? No. No, no, no, no, I’m fine. The TARDIS, here,” he taps the console affectionately, “She could use some work, bless her.”
Amy cocks an eyebrow at him. “When was the last time you slept?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe a week ago?”
Her other eyebrow pops up.
“Two weeks? I’m not really sure.”
Her mouth falls open. “Doctor, that can’t be healthy. I’m not even sure it’s possible.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Pond. I once went two years and seven months without so much as a nap.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Well, of course you don’t. You certainly couldn’t do it. I keep trying to tell you, Time Lords aren’t like humans, even if you lot do look like us.”
Amy rolls her eyes. “Of course, superior Time Lord physiology. How could I forget? Because staring groggily into a teacup for two whole weeks is immensely superior to just taking the bleedin’ nap.”
The Doctor’s face drops to something between hurt and amusement for a moment. Then it’s gone, and he’s simply old, tired. He pats the spot next to him on the workbench. “Come here. I’ll show you the TARDIS. You’ll either develop a new-found appreciation for the old girl, or I’ll bore you to sleep.”
Amy’s head sags, a comforting weight on his shoulder. He keeps talking, though he knows at this point it’s the same as talking to himself. “And this lever, which you must never, ever touch unless we’re crashing, in which case, by all means, is connected by this wire to the capacitor in the–” Amy yawns, and he can’t help but follow suit.
“Stop that, Pond, it’s contagious.” He’s expecting a snappy comeback, but she’s well and truly asleep. He lets his head drop to hers, temple to temple, and it’s cozy even if it makes his neck just a little bit stiff. He can tell she’s dreaming something vaguely odd and innocuous. Sees her watching a boy she recognizes as a younger Jeff walk an Irish setter up stairs that go the wrong way. He’s starting to fall asleep himself, and by the time he realizes it he’s too far gone to stop it. In a fuzzy panic, he reaches for his tea and it’s gone. Sees himself reflected in the bottom of the mug and thinks, Amy, I’m so, so sorry.
Amy’s dream sizzles, the walls of her vision going swimmy. Evaporates like a puddle on hot tarmac. Gone.
Several moments pass before she realizes what’s happened. His dreams skip like a poorly synced film. She’s not quite a bystander, not quite an actor. He’s screaming and she doesn’t understand, can’t feel it, can’t quite bring herself to touch him and ask him why.
Everything’s dark here, the inside of the TARDIS glowing a phosphorescent green. He doesn’t look like himself, though he’s unmistakeable. He’s taller and scrawnier, howling and clutching at the frame drawn down on his head. A dark-eyed woman watches in horror as he thrashes about, but won’t touch him. “His cells are burning,” she whispers, not quite to Amy. When he finally stops, the woman unlatches the frame and he collapses on the grated floor. He’s not dead, but something is missing. The woman can’t seem to decide if it’s safe now. In the end, she takes his hand and sits beside him, weeping into the back of her sleeve. Amy can’t bring herself to move, stays plastered up against the inside of the door.
The planet is covered in stormclouds, angry, black, final. Two suns burn low and dangerous. He wires the bomb wrong and it goes off too soon. He never makes it to the TARDIS, dies smothered in burning vermillion grass, nails digging under his native soil. Another body falls on his, and he thinks he knows whose it is. He never knows if this is the worst dream or the best one.
Susan lives on Earth and he can never find her again. Romana’s dead. He loses Rose, then watches himself kiss her. Donna starts to forget and all he wants is to pull his hands away. Martha marries someone else. Rory’s cut out of time and space. The cracks, the cracks, they cut into his mind like metal biting into his hands, and he doesn’t even know who he’s lost anymore.
In his dreams, she can touch him, but he doesn’t respond.
His face is mashed into the console, and warning lights and bells and whistles are going off all around him. He wakes up choking, and Amy’s crying, and the TARDIS is ready to fall into the sea (which sea?). He flips a lever, spins a red crank, pokes a button he’s never seen before and suddenly all’s quiet.
Amy sobs at his ear and suddenly he’s lost his balance. He reels, finds himself on his knees on the floor, gasping and retching on a rush of cold air. His lungs seize up and for an awful moment, the bypass won’t kick in. Then Amy is by his side again, taking his head in her hands and letting him catch his breath. He can smell her tears.
Neither of them sleep for days. When they both nod off in the library, the TARDIS dims the lights and keeps it warm. A teapot materializes on the table near the swimming pool, flanked by two narrow mugs. It’ll be a long time before they sleep easy, longer for him than for her, but this time, the old girl will be prepared.