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Effect Before Cause, 1/1

Title: Effect Before Cause
Fandom: Doctor Who
Spoilers: none really; just a general knowledge of who the characters are and of the Series Three finale
Characters/Pairings: Amy/Rory, Ten, The Master
Rating: PG-13
Notes: I started writing this for the prompt, "Amy/Rory; the year that never was" over at the Series Five Ficathon, but when it became evident that I wasn't going to finish in time, I decided to expand it a bit, and lo and behold, it's over twice the length it used to be.  I like it a lot better than I did Friday afternoon as well, so I'm glad I didn't do a rush job after all.  Not crazy about the name, though, so that may change in the future.



Sometimes, when the world seemed just too much to bear, Amy found herself thinking about the Raggedy Doctor.  It was just a fantasy, they'd all told her, just a game she'd made up to cope with the loss of her parents and the move to a new country.  After hearing it enough times, she started to believe them, although never completely, until the time came when life got bigger and busier and childhood trappings like the Doctor just sort of faded into the background.

Now, though, spending her days doing hard labour and her nights crammed into the corner of a house too full of other people to think of it as anything resembling a home, the supposed fantasy would occasionally cross her mind.  She'd learned, the whole planet had learned, that the universe was much bigger than they'd ever believed, which by all rights should mean that the Doctor was much more likely to be real than anyone had ever expected, and yet now she believed less than ever.  If the beloved hero of her childhood really existed, she thought, he'd clearly have stopped this.  He could have stopped the Master with a click of his fingers.

The universe was bigger and more terrible than anyone could have possibly imagined, but if horrors like this were conceivable, then the beauty and adventure she’d dreamed of it containing were as imaginary as the Raggedy Doctor.

---

“The files you asked for, sir,” the man in front of him said stiffly.  “All known accomplices of the man known as 'the Doctor.'”

The Master smiled in a manner that might have been considered genial, if not for the vicious glee housed behind it.  He held out a hand to take the files, and kicked his feet up onto the table of the Valiant's conference table.  “You might want to hear this,” he said without looking up from the stack, but the makeshift tent in the opposite corner of the room didn't stir.  He sighed petulantly.  “Fine, I'll have all the fun myself.

“Let's see now,” he said, flipping casually through the files.  “Dead... Dead... Killed already... Dead... Lost in time... Oo, Jo, I remember Jo.  Remember Jo, Doctor?”

The Master frowned; still no response from the Doctor.  “A bit old now to really play with, though, I suppose...”  He grumbled, and turned the page.  “A lot of old UNIT brass, but they've mostly been rounded up and shot already, so no good there... Sarah Jane Smith, feisty one, but we broke her already; son died in the first decimation, or didn't you hear?” 

Still nothing; this was getting ridiculous. 

“She's been put to work in one of the shipyards now.” 

Silence. 

“Are you even listening, Doctor?” 

But of course there was no answer then either. 

“Come on; let's find something good, shall we?”  He shuffled through the stack again, and finally something caught his eye. 

“Well,” he said, “what have we here?  Amelia Pond and Rory Williams, aged eighteen and nineteen, respectively, 'known contact with the Doctor as early as... nineteen ninety-six?  Lord, Doctor, you don't mess about if you want them young, do you?  You really are a societal menace.”  He continued through the file, the rest discarded on the table now.  “Williams just started work as a nurse with the NHS, well, back when there was an NHS, and Pond... was unemployed, it would appear.  That's a disappointment.  Oh, but there's a photograph; she's pretty.  Funny, I figured blondes were more your type.  Could you tell she'd be pretty when she was seven, or did you pop to her future to check first?”  He looked up with a devilish grin, to see that the Doctor was at last struggling to get out of his little tent.  “Oh, look who's finally come to play,” said the Master.

“What...” the Doctor wheezed, “what were those names?”

“Oh, poor old granddad,” said the Master with a sanctimonious pout, “is your hearing going, now?  I said,” he raised his voice to a shout, “Amelia Pond and Rory Williams!”

“Your information's wrong,” the Doctor grunted with the shadow of a victorious smile on his aged face.  “I've never met either of them.”

“Really, now?”  The Master looked impressed.  “Either you're lying, or someone's going to have to be killed for that kind of shoddy research.  Oh, no, wait,” he said, turning over a few more pages in the file, “they found pictures in her house, drawings from when she was a child.”  He held up the crayon drawing for the Doctor to see.  “Girl's a rubbish artist, she's gotten your hair all wrong, but that’s you, pinstripes, trainers, and all.  Oh, look, she's even drawn your TARDIS.  How sweet.”

“I'm telling you,” the Doctor repeated, “I've never met her.  Either of them.”

“Well, I'll see about that for myself,” said the Master, standing.  “We're bringing them in.”  He spun around with a flourish and strode off the deck.  “This should be great fun,” he murmured through a feral grin.

---

The soldiers came in the night, banging on the door of the barracks-house and dragging them out into the deserted street with no qualms about trampling the twenty or so other people crammed into the little bedsit with them.  Amy kicked and screamed and fought against the armoured men until one of them knocked her out with the butt of his gun, threw her slim frame over his burly shoulder, and carried her out.  Rory did his best to shout and put up a fuss as well, but they apparently didn't consider him to merit any more restraint than pulling back his arms as they frog-marched him out the door.  For the first time, Rory was glad they didn't own anything but the clothes on their backs anymore; at least they'd been spared the indignity of being hauled out into the night in their pyjamas.  Without explanation or charge of wrong-doing, they were thrown into the back of an ominous-looking black van and carted off to... God-knows-where. 

Amy was awake now; she’d curled herself into the corner furthest from the doors, her face screwed up with something like frustration.  The vehicle rumbled underneath them, but Rory managed a wobbly crawl over to sit beside her.  He stroked her red hair gently, only to jerk his hand back when she hissed with pain at the contact.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, eyes nervously flickering to the metal screen that separated them from their captors.  “Here, sit up, let me look at that.”  Amy gave him a sullen look, but sat up all the same.

“What did I miss?”  She asked as he examined the bruise quickly forming on her temple.  “Did they say why they’ve taken us?”

“Not as much, yet, no,” said Rory, “but I think I heard one of them say…”  He trailed off.

“Heard one of them say what?”  Amy asked, then quickly yelped as Rory pressed a little too hard.

“Sorry!”  He whispered.  “I think one of them said something about… about the Master.”

“The Master?”  Amy looked horrified.  “Why?  What would the Master want with either of us?”  Her expression changed to one of accusation.  “Oh my God, you did it, didn't you?  You joined up with the Resistance.”  She punched him in the arm too hard to be considered a loving tap.  “I told you something like this would happen.”

“It can't be that,” said Rory.  “They just shoot Resistance members; they don't take them all the way to see the Master.”

“Oh, that's comforting.  We might just get shot.”

I didn't join the Resistance!”  Rory snapped in a heated whisper.  “That can't be what this is about.”

“What, then?”  For the first time since the soldiers had come, Amy looked scared.  “I don't understand,” she said.  “We've been good.  We've kept our heads down; we've done what we're told.  Things like this aren't supposed to happen to the good ones, right?”

“I... don't know,” said Rory.

“We can't let them separate us,” she said, linking her arm with his.  “I've lost everyone else, I won't lose you.”

He was silent for a moment, pondering this.  “Marry me,” he finally said.

What?”  Amy's surprise eclipsed her fear of their current situation.

“Marry me,” he repeated.  “I'm a registered nurse, I can apply for a permit to travel, and if we're married, you can come with me.  We can go somewhere else, somewhere new—”

“Everywhere's the same, Rory—”

“You don't know that,” he said.

“Rory, please don't do this,” she said with a note of desperation.  “Not now, please—”

“I love you, Amy,” he blurted out.  “I love you, and I think if you took a moment to think about it you'd realise you love me too.”  He looked at his hands.  “I know you're right:  this world is hell, and there isn't anywhere left to escape that, but, I don't know, I thought that maybe, if I had you... maybe it wouldn't feel quite so bad anymore.”  He chanced a peek up at her; her expression was inscrutable, but he hoped it meant she was considering it.

Before she could say anything, the rumble of the van beneath them came to a halt.  Rory and Amy had to throw their hands up to shield their eyes from the blinding light from the headlights of the vehicle behind them as the back doors were thrown open, and they were dragged out of the van and into... a helicopter?  Rory looked up to see a dark, looming shape in the air above them:  the Valiant.  It would appear they were being brought before the Master after all.

---

The first thought that surfaced in the Doctor's mind when the two prisoners were dragged before him was that the Master was right:  they were young.  True, Rose hadn't been much older when he first met her, and Martha wasn't anyone's definition of “matronly” either, but these two looked like scared children.  He scanned their expressions anxiously as they were pushed forward by the armed men behind them; there was a lot of fear, naturally, and the girl’s face had some spark of defiance, but thankfully neither showed any recognition, which relieved him until he remembered that he still looked positively ancient.  Of course they wouldn’t recognise him. 

The Doctor supposed it should be gratifying to know he had a future (because how else would they have met him?), but now he could only muster anger at his own lack of details.  He was more than familiar with causes and effects sometimes occurring out of order— it was a consequence of a timey-wimey existence —but if the Master was going to torture them now for what could be as little as a chance crossing-of-paths goodness knows how far into his future… he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself.

And there he was, the man himself, sweeping into the room behind the prisoners with no small amount of childlike excitement.  “Here we go!”  The Master looked like he was a hair’s breadth away from jumping up and down.  “Reunion time.”  He circled the two, eyeing them like prey.  “It’s a bit harder to deny that you know them when they’re standing in front of you.  My question is still ‘how?’”  He swooped in close to the boy, examining his face.  “There’s a little resemblance here; not much, but a bit in the nose and the hair…. Did you procreate with the little apes?”  He grabbed a handful of the boy’s short blond hair and tugged him forward, completely unconcerned with the look of sheer terror on the young man’s face as the Master smelled his neck.  “Nope, completely human,” he sighed, letting go of the boy’s hair and tossing him back against the girl.  “Then what?”

“I— I don’t understand,” said the boy (Rory, the Doctor remembered from the Master’s files), flinching as the Master’s piercing gaze hit him again.  “What is it you’re looking for?  Why are we here?”

“You mean you don’t know?”  The Master looked honestly surprised.  “Oh, of course, you wouldn’t recognise him, would you?”  He gestured toward the Doctor, still crouched on the floor.  “I’ve prematurely aged him, you see.  Still, I’d have thought you’d know your old playmate, the ‘Raggedy Doctor,’ anywhere.”

“Master, stop it,” said the Doctor.  “I told you, I don’t know them, they’re nothing to you.  You can leave them alone.”  It was too late, though; at the Master’s words, shock flashed across the girl's face.

“The Doctor?”  Rory just looked confused.  “But that was just a story, a game we played, back when we were kids.  Amy, tell him.”  He looked back at the girl.  “Amy?”

It was no use trying to get her attention; her eyes were rapt on the Doctor’s huddled frame.  “Doctor?”  She whispered, so softly it didn’t sound like she quite believed her own words.

“There we are!”  The Master clapped with delight.  He shoved Rory aside roughly and clasped her hands in his.  “Good girl.  You remember the Doctor, don’t you?  Ridiculous hair, blue box?”  The girl, Amy, didn’t say anything, or even look at the Master, but at his words she slowly nodded.  “Go on, then,” said the Master.  “Go to him.  Go to your childhood hero and see if he can save you now.”

She slowly took one step forward, then another, until she was standing barely two feet in front of him.  Bending down until she was on his level, she put one hand on his wrinkled cheek and looked into his eyes, peering into them as if searching for something.

“Doctor,” she said.  “Is it you?  Really?”

The Doctor gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut for a moment.  “I’m sorry,” he finally said.  “I’m so sorry.”

That seemed to confirm something for her, and at the same time break something within her.  She stood up and quickly backed away from him, throwing her arms around Rory and burying her face in his shoulder as soon as she reached him.  The boy looked between the girl in his arms and the Time Lord on the floor, looking distraught.

“There we are,” said the Master with a saccharine smile.  “That’s all I wanted to see.”  He peered at some papers spread out on the conference table.  “Now then, it says here that the two of you have been settled in Kent for the last five months, but you’re officially here on the charge of conspiring to overthrow me, so we can’t put you back there.  No, we’ll have to drop you somewhere else, somewhere far from your Resistance contacts…”  He wandered to a nearby porthole, and gazed down at the ground in speculation.  “We’re just approaching eastern Asia now; how about Japan?  I like the sound of that.”  With a nod from the Master, the soldiers pulled the prisoners apart and marched them back out of the room.  “What to do now?”  The Master asked no one in particular, leaning against a railing as he feigned boredom.

“That’s it?”  The Doctor couldn’t keep the shock out of his voice.  “You’re leaving them alone?”

“Doctor,” said the Master with a note of condescension, “I showed them you.  You’re their childhood hero, their saviour... and you’re my prisoner.  I have single-handedly destroyed any remaining hope they may have had of being saved from this world.  Isn’t that punishment enough?”  His face widened with a venomous smile.  “I didn’t think so either.” 

He picked up a headset from one of the nearby consoles, and slipped it over his ear.  “Burn it,” he said.  “And bring up the Joneses; let them enjoy the show.”

---

Heat.  Blinding heat.  Heat and burning and pain and flame and oh God, Doctor, why?  How?

The streets of Tokyo were eerily still, but by no means empty; bodies of the dying were piling up as the fearful masses slowed from their rioting and succumbed to their fate.  Amy and Rory seemed to be the only people still standing upright for as far as they could see, and that was through sheer willpower.  Faced with this overwhelming devastation, Rory looked like he wanted to cry, but any tears he might produce evaporated the moment they left his eyes in the blistering heat.  Amy was mostly holding it together, but only because she’d already resigned herself to hopelessness when faced with the defeat in the Doctor’s eyes.  She briefly wondered if dying here was really all that worse a torment than living with the knowledge that there was no chance of being saved, then kicked herself for thinking about things so melodramatically.

“I never answered your question,” she said as it dawned on her.

Rory let out something between a laugh and a cough.  “I don’t think it matters much now,” he said with a sad smile.

“It matters more now,” she said.  Digging into her pocket, she produced her keys, an old, useless reminder of home.  She made quick work of unhooking the two rings holding her keys to the little penguin keychain she’d gotten from the National Museum as a child, and pressed the smaller of the two into his hand.  “Marry me, Rory Williams.”  He stared down at the ring, then looked up at her with something resembling happiness. 

She held out her left hand, and he slid the ring onto her finger.  The metal heated quickly in the scorching heat around them, blistering her finger where it sat, but she didn’t care anymore.  She repeated his action, putting the other key-ring on his hand, then wrapped her arms around her husband’s neck and kissed him for the first time.

They remained in each other’s arms, locked in their embrace, as the fire overtook them.

---

Seven months later, and five months earlier…

“These aliens,” Amy called over her shoulder from her seat on the sofa, her mouth full of popcorn, “the ‘Toclafane’ or whatever, look a bit rubbish, don’t they?  I mean, they look like that little floating metal… shooty thing, from Star Wars.”

“Remote,” supplied Rory as he returned from the kitchen, drinks in hand.

“Yeah, that,” she said.

“What’s happening now?”  He asked, gesturing toward the television screen as he sat.

“Nothing, really,” she shrugged.  “They appeared out of nowhere for about five seconds, then there was some big noise and they cut to stand-by.  I bet it all turns out to be a hoax; real aliens probably look much cooler, and don’t spout bollocks about ‘love and friendship.’”

“No,” said Rory with a smile, “they’re much more likely to show up out of boxes in the back garden and ask for fish custard.”

“Cheeky bastard,” she sneered, playfully shoving him off the sofa.

“What time is it?”  He asked from the floor, propping himself up on his elbows.  “If this is all over, I want to go home and get a shower in before my shift at the hospital.”

“Dunno, I’ll check,” she said, reaching to pick up her phone from where it sat on the end table, next to her keys.  Her hand froze in mid-air for a moment as she stared at the daft little plastic penguin; something in her brain tingled, like there was something she was supposed to remember, but she couldn’t place what.  She shook her head slightly and resumed picking up her phone, only to drop it with a hiss of pain.

“What is it?”  Rory asked as he sat back down next to her.

“Nothing,” she said distantly, rubbing the palm of her hand.  “It just felt like something stung me.”

“Let me see,” he said, taking her hand and examining it.  “When did you burn yourself?”  He pointed to an angry-looking blister at the base of her fourth finger.

“I don’t know,” she said, looking down at it.  That feeling was back, the tickle in her mind of having forgotten something.  She looked back up at Rory, lost in her thoughts, and almost didn’t notice when she leaned over and gave him a quick, tender kiss.

“What brought that on?”  He asked shakily after she pulled away.

“I’m sorry,” she said, blushing furiously.  “I don’t… I won’t do it again.”

“It wasn’t that bad, was it?”  Rory asked, only half-joking.  He shifted his grip on her hand slightly, interlacing his fingers with hers, then looked up at her with a small, nervous smile.  She shyly returned it, which he took as permission to kiss her again.

Today, Amy thought as they leaned back on the sofa together, was a big day.  The whole planet had learned that the universe was bigger than they’d ever imagined and, she thought, just a little bit more beautiful than it had been before.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
quean_of_swords
Jul. 1st, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
Oooh, very nice!
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Thank you!
professor_spork
Jul. 1st, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
What an interesting idea! I've read Year That Wasn't fic before, but I gotta say, putting an Amy/Rory spin on it makes it a lot more interesting. So many alternate timelines, forgotten steps, missing links. It fits their wibbly-wobbly love story perfectly.

"Real aliens probably look much cooler, and don’t spout bollocks about ‘love and friendship.’”
“No,” said Rory with a smile, “they’re much more likely to show up out of boxes in the back garden and ask for fish custard.”


HEE.
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
I'd read Year That Wasn't stories as well, but I'd never tried my hand at one, and the idea of putting Amy and Rory down in it was just too good to resist.
Thanks for reading!
dreaming86
Jul. 1st, 2010 04:45 am (UTC)
adorable <3
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:18 am (UTC)
Why thank you! :D
digitalviolets
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
This is very interesting and totally beautiful.
I like the connectivity and the way it fits with the rest of the year that never was.
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:23 am (UTC)
Thank you! When I sat down to write I said, "This can go one of two ways: either they never cross paths with the main characters of the season, or they majorly cross paths with them. There is no midway point." I'm glad the path-crossing worked for you!
spaciireth
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
Oh, I loved that. Such an interesting way to have a look at their relationship.
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I love timey-wimeyness in most things, so to have the chance to play with these two in such an unusual setting (for them, at least) was a real treat.
winninghearts
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
you wrote it! Yes, I'm so happy, and it is so fantastic, really. I love their relationship during the year, and then I love what it reverts to after it goes back.
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 05:38 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you like it! It was a marvelous prompt, so thank you; I bookmarked it early because I knew I'd want to see what came of it, so when the end came looming and no one had posted anything yet, I knew I had to take a whack at it.
Oh good, and you like the ending. There was a long time where I seriously considered just ending it with the Japan scene, but then I remembered A. I keep writing dark and dreary pieces lately, and I'm gagging for a bit of a happy ending; and B. what's the point of playing with the Year That Wasn't if you can't turn back the clock afterwards?
Once again, thank you for reading, and for the lovely prompt to begin with!
silverweave
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
Hello! I came via pond_life, well worth the trip! Great story, I love the way it came full circle and the characterisation of them all was brilliant, the sweet awkwardness of Rory especially and Amy's inital reactiobn to the Toclafane, nifty!

rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for making the trip!
There was a rather long period where the last scene didn't exist, and it just ended with Japan, but I realized I wanted to bring everything full circle, like you said, and give them a happy ending. I'm glad it worked!
sleepscribbling
Jul. 1st, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful and painful and perfect. The Doctor's ignorance and Amy's utter loss of faith in her childhood hero were far more heartbreaking than Rory and Amy dying in Japan. The proposal and wedding scenes were wonderful.

Also I like that you didn't just end it with Japan. Having such a mundane, domestic last scene - with a bit of hope to it - was great because that's exactly where Rory and Amy should be then. And Amy's initial reaction to the Toclafane was spot-on and hilarious.
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
Hooray! That's how I felt as I was writing it; when it comes to the Master, breaking people is infinitely more effective than just killing them. Of course, he couldn't just let them go after, because that's not his style, but really, the death is just adding insult to injury.

My feeling on Amy pre-the Doctor's return is that she's fascinated by the extraterrestrial, but also way cynical about it. And, yes, the Toclafane totally look like the remote from Star Wars.

Thanks so much for reading!
sarah531
Jul. 1st, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, I love this. I always love seeing where the characters were during all the other world-ending scenes we see in Doctor Who. :D
rosepetal9
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
One of the things I like best about Doctor Who is that these characters are all living in the same universe, a universe that is constantly having giant epic battles, so there's no way they don't have a point of view on things that happened "before" them. It makes for great storytelling fun. :)
Thank you for taking the time to read this!
eclecticmuse
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
Oh, that was just--terrifying and wonderful and awesome and GUH. This story has made my day. Bravo! ♥
rosepetal9
Jul. 2nd, 2010 08:15 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you! That's lovely to hear.
luckweaver
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
This was oddly fascinating. Good piece.
rosepetal9
Jul. 2nd, 2010 08:16 am (UTC)
Thanks; I find just about everything regarding the Year That Wasn't as strangely enthralling, so I couldn't resist a chance to finally write in it.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )