9. I HAD A NIGHTMARE HERE
“I think I’d like Amy.” River says. “She sounds like she’s got the same standards as me.”
“You will meet her. You’ll be good friends with her.”
“Ooh I look forward to it! Now tell me another story.” The Doctor sighs in frustration.
“I’m not here to entertain you River. This is hard, I really care about Amy and Rory and they’re not with me anymore and talking about them like they still are is…” he exhales slowly. “Sorry.” River smiles, surprisingly gently.
“It’s alright Doctor, take all the time you need.”
Silence settles over them and River sits quietly as the Doctor remembers the people he’s lost.
A week after the wedding, Amy starts having nightmares.
She’ll fall asleep quite happily, curled up with Rory in the bedroom the Doctor has let them have, and for a few hours everything will be fine. Then the dreams come.
At first it isn’t too bad, the occasional dream that she jerks suddenly awake from, looking around frantically before remembering she’s on the TARDIS, she’s with Rory, everything’s okay. But then they get worse. She wakes up drenched in sweat, or inexplicably crying. Rory, bless his heart, is such a deep sleeper he hardly stirs, so she doesn’t mention the fact that for the past week she’s clung to the sheets, sobbing with terror in the early hours of the morning.
It’s not as if, she reasons with herself, Rory or even the Doctor’d be able to do anything about it. They’re just nightmares, and she can never really remember them in the morning anyway. She’s just left with a confused blur of frantic crying and dark places and the screech of tearing metal giving way to rivers of blood.
And anyway, they’ll stop soon. She’s sure they’ll stop soon.
A few days later they’re drifting through the Lissian Galaxy and the Doctor glances over at her from across the console. "Are you alright Pond?” he asks, frowning over his sonic screwdriver which seems to be making strange clicking noises. “Yeah, course I am.” She replies bracingly. “Why wouldn’t I be?” The Doctor sniffs, tucking the screwdriver back into his pocket. "I don’t know. But you’ve been looking very tired recently.” Amy puts a self-conscious hand to her face. She’s done her best to stay lively but days of disrupted sleep and too much running around alien planets is taking its toll – there are dark rings around her eyes that even her best concealer can’t hide. “Have you spoken to Rory about it?” “What?” “I said,” he repeats, “Have you spoken to Rory about it? He’s a nurse and your husband, I’m sure he’ll be able to help with whatever it is.” “Fine. I will. Not,” she adds quickly, “That there’s anything wrong.” The Doctor smiles to himself. “Of course there isn’t.”
Amy puts off mentioning the nightmares to Rory the rest of the day and makes sure to go to bed after him, hoping that he’ll be asleep and she won’t have to talk to him. She’s not entirely sure why she doesn’t want to discuss it with them, but the fact is she really, really doesn’t want to. So she’s grateful to hear Rory’s faint, snuffling snores when she enters the bedroom.
As it turns out, it doesn’t matter that she hasn’t told him. He finds out for himself a few hours later, when even his deep sleeping is disturbed by the piercing scream she lets out.
“What? What? Amy?” he leaps up, hair sticking everywhere and looking around wildly. Shaking, Amy pulls herself up beside him. She’s crying and sweating and shivery and he puts his arms around her at once, stroking her hair over and over.
“Ssh, shh, Amy, it’s okay. Whatever’s wrong, it’s okay.” Amy struggles to regain her breath, panting as though she’s been running a marathon.
“I, I, I, I,” she stutters, helpless.
“It’s okay, don’t talk. I’m here, Amy, I’m here. It’s alright.” Slowly her chest stops heaving against him, he can feel the shuddering breaths grow less as she calms down. He cups her face in his hands, wiping the tears away with a thumb.
“Amy, what happened?” Closing her eyes she swallows, licks her dry lips.
“I, I had a nightmare.” He laughs, light and affectionate.
“A nightmare? Oh thank god, I thought something terrible had happened. It’s alright, it’s not real. We’re safe, in the TARDIS.” But she’s shaking her head and he can see tears in her eyes again. “What? What is it?”
“I…I’ve been having them, nightmares, for ages.” She whispers. “Ever since just after we came on the TARDIS.” Rory frowns.
“Since we came on the TARDIS? But, that was weeks ago. Why didn’t you say anything?” Amy makes a little helpless noise.
“Oh Amy.” He sighs, pressing a kiss to her temple. She burrows her head into the hollow of his neck, arms tight around his chest.
“I’m sorry. I just…I couldn’t. It’s so stupid.”
“Hey, come on Amy. It’s not stupid. It’s the most important thing in the world. You have to be safe and happy and well Amy, you have to be.”
The minutes roll by quietly, Amy gripping Rory tightly, anchoring herself to his warm, solid presence while he strokes her hair, over and over until he suddenly realises she’s asleep.
Gently, he looses her arms from around his chest, laying her back down on the pillows. She’s very pale and now that he’s looking, he can see the smudges of her exhaustion around her eyes. But she’s breathing steadily and she’s smiling, just a little.
Amy never mentions it, but after that the nightmares stop.
Part Ten - I Can Still Hear The Waves