Length: 2356 words
Summary: written for a prompt by rattyjol on comment_fic which was the Doctor crashed in Rory’s yard. Doctor Who AU.
Author Note: There is now a sequel, Five Minutes, and a third story, The Games Children Play.
Rory scrambles out of bed and lifts up the bottom of the curtain to look out of the window when he hears the noise. It’s weird, not like a fox knocking over the bin again or anything. At first he thinks it might be Amelia, because it’s a weird sound in the middle of night so what else could it be?
She used to throw stones up at his window to wake him up until she cracked it a few weeks ago. (His parents got a bit mad, which he didn’t mind really, until they started talking about how maybe he should find himself some different friends.) Lately she’s been getting more inventive.
It’s a whirling noise and then a crash and something shatters. He really hopes it isn’t Amelia.
There’s a dark shape in the vegetable patch next to – or halfway in – the greenhouse. He can just make it out through the pine trees that separate the lawn from the back part of the garden, which is where the vegetable patch is. He’s not allowed to play there, where there’s a small gate that leads to the fields and woods and the backs of other people’s houses, including Amelia’s.
Amelia is allowed to play in all of her back garden and outside it, wherever and whenever she likes, but Rory’s Mum says it isn’t so much that she’s allowed, just that she does. Rory sometimes thinks that his Mum doesn’t like Amelia very much.
He’s thinking about going back to bed or maybe fetching his parents when he sees a figure stumbling around that walks into a tree and sits down abruptly.
Rory grabs his trainers and his coat from the floor, where most of his clothes end up until his Mum yells at him to put them away properly, and puts them on as he heads downstairs, pausing to tie his laces before opening the back door because he doesn’t want to have an accident.
“Hello?” he calls out. “Are you okay?”
A man with strange hair, torn up clothes, and looking like he’s fallen out of a fire into a flood weaves across the lawn towards him wearing a huge grin like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
Rory has never liked that story, or that cat (regardless of how many times Amelia has tried to explain the wonders of wonderland.)
“I’m fine!” says the strange man. “Early days. The steering’s a bit off. Have you got any apples? All I can think about: apples. I love apples!”
Rory looks at the holes in his clothes and the graze on his head where he hit the tree, which is starting to bleed.
“I think you’d better come inside.”
The man’s over halfway across the lawn when he folds in half and drops to his knees, coughing up some glowing stuff. Rory races over to grab his arm and tries to hold him up, ignoring him when the man says, “I’m okay! This is all perfectly normal.”
Rory is friends with Amelia Pond. He knows a lot of different types of ‘okay’ and ‘normal’ and that they don’t necessarily mean ‘don’t need help’.
He leads the man into the kitchen and gets him sat down on one of the chairs before switching the light on. The man looks even worse now, and Rory notices that he’s also sopping wet and dripping onto the floor.
“Stay there a minute. I’ll be right back.”
He gets a towel and his Dad’s second best dressing gown from the airing cupboard. Back in the kitchen he stands on one of the chairs so he can reach the first aid kit that his Mum keeps in the cupboard over the sink.
By the time he’s sorted that out the man is wearing the dressing gown, sat back on his chair, and rubbing his hair dry with the towel, which is making it even more of a mess, and staring at the pile of wet clothes dumped on the floor.
He looks at Rory suspiciously when Rory comes towards him with the antiseptic cream, a damp flannel, and a handful of different sized plasters.
“Those don’t look like an apple,” he says.
“That’s ‘cause they’re not.” Rory peers at him and wonders just how hard the man has hit his head.
“I asked for an apple,” says the man and he sticks his chin out stubbornly.
“Look,” says Rory, “you’ve got cuts and things. They’ll get infected if you don’t look after them. That’s when they go all green and gross. You can lose body parts if they get bad enough.”
“My Mum.” There’s something in the man’s eyes that reminds Rory of Amelia, who doesn’t have a mum, so Rory adds, “And I read it in a book.”
He wipes the dirt off the scrape on the man’s forehead, carefully applies some of the cream with a clean finger, and choses an appropriate sized plaster to cover up the injury. The man watches everything that he does, or tries to since that means looking at his own forehead. It’s kind of funny.
He backs away when Rory tries to stick the plaster into place.
“What’s the matter?” Rory asks, but the man doesn’t say anything, just stares at him like he’s an alien or something.
“Look, I didn’t used to like them either,” says Rory, leaving out the part where he was a little kid back then, “so my mum used to draw faces on them. Will that help?”
He uses the pen from the magnetic memo pad on the fridge to add a smiley face to the plaster and holds it up so that the man can see it.
“It’s blue,” the man finally says, pointing out the obvious.
“You’re meant to use blue ones if you’re cooking, so that if they fall off into the food then they’re easy to find.”
“Right, okay.” The man carries on with the funny look, so Rory just leans over and sticks the plaster on him anyway.
“Well thank you, I suppose,” says the man. “I wouldn’t want to lose my head after all. Important things, heads.”
Rory’s worried by all the odd things that he’s coming out with, so he makes a cup of tea with extra sugar, because that’s supposed to be good for people who aren’t feeling well. The man complains that it’s still not an apple, but then he smiles and says that he likes tea, so Rory choses to take that as a win. He leaves him with a packet of jammy dodgers and goes back to the airing cupboard to find some clothes that might fit him.
“Don’t wander off when I’m talking to you!”
He carries on speaking, even though Rory has left the room. Rory can still hear him, only just, so his parents probably can’t hear anything from their room at the top of the stairs.
“Why do they always wander off? Why does no one ever listen to me? Do I just have a face that nobody listens to? Again.”
The man doesn’t seem to know what to do with Rory looking after him and when he’s handed clean clothes he sniffs them and stares at them like they’re foreign objects.
“Not really me,” he says once he’s dressed, pulling out the front of the shirt as far as it will go and then releasing it. He’s skinner than Rory’s Dad, so it hangs off him.
“Are you hungry?” says Rory.
He’s eaten all the biscuits and left nothing but some crumbs on the table, so Rory puts the empty packet in the small kitchen bin, shoving it right down to the bottom in the hope that his Mum won’t notice.
“Well I did say that I wanted an apple.”
Then Rory hears Amelia hissing at him from the backdoor, which is a huge relief because he didn’t really know what to do next after the feeding part.
“What’re you doing with the light on, you idiot,” she says, closing the backdoor behind her. “I could see it all the way from my house. Someone’ll see it and ring your parents or come over or something.”
Amelia turns off the light. Everything is swallowed up by darkness and for a moment whilst Rory’s eyes adjust he can’t see anything at all.
“She’s Scottish,” says the man in the dark. “Are we in Scotland?”
Amelia turns on her torch – useful for adventures, she always says – and aims it at the strange man.
“Who’re you?” she demands as the poor guy flinches from the light in his eyes.
“I’m the Doctor,” he says. “Who’re you?”
“Amelia Pond, and that,” she says, pointing, “is Rory. What’re you doing in his kitchen?”
“Had a bit of a crash in his garden and Rory here was kind enough to fix me up. Not that I needed fixing. I’m absolutely fine, I am.”
“Why’re there wet clothes on the floor?”
“I fell in the swimming pool.”
“Leadworth doesn’t have a swimming pool,” says Amelia in a tone of voice that Rory knows very well. It’s the tone that says that you’re an idiot and she has no idea why she’s putting up with you.
“He hit his head,” says Rory, coming to the Doctor’s defence although he’s not really sure why.
“Yes,” says the Doctor, bending down to look into Rory’s eyes. “I did. But I also really did fall into a swimming pool and it’s not a Leadworth swimming pool, it’s my swimming pool.”
Rory resists the urge to take a step back under the force of all that attention. He doesn’t want to look less than brave in front of Amelia.
“What did you crash in? That thing in Rory’s garden?” Amelia looks less than impressed. “That isn’t big enough to have a swimming pool.”
“Really? Spotted that, did you?” says the Doctor turning to look at her instead.
“Yeah. You broke his shed.”
“Greenhouse,” Rory mutters.
“And what about your parents?” the Doctor asks her. “You seem awfully concerned about Rory’s, but what about yours? Do they know you’re wandering about at night?”
“Don’t have parents. Just an Aunt and she’s out.”
“I don’t even have an Aunt,” says the Doctor and for a moment Rory feels a little left out, but he likes having a Mum and a Dad mostly, so it’s only a little.
There’s a bongy-chimey noise, like a weird church bell coming from the garden and the man leaps to his feet shouting, loud and sudden and making Rory jump.
“Oh no, no, no!” says the Doctor.
He darts around the table and out of the backdoor. Amelia races after him and Rory follows.
“What? What is it?” Amelia yells.
“The engines are phasing! It’s gonna burn!”
When Rory catches up to them they’re stood in front of what looks like a blue telephone box lying on its side in a mess of glass, broken pots, and unhappy plants. Rory’s seen a red one before, but never a blue one, and this one has ‘police’ written on it. It’s also making a horrible groaning noise.
“It’s just a box,” says Amelia. “How can a box have engines?”
Rory reaches out a hand, without really thinking about it, and places it on the nearest side of the box. It’s warm under his hand and it feels like there’s something moving underneath, like a pulse beneath skin. Rory snatches his hand away.
“What’s wrong with it?” he asks, because it doesn’t seem right, not least because it obviously isn’t the right way up.
“It’s not a box,” says the Doctor as he retrieves a grappling hook hanging out of it. “She’s a TARDIS. A spaceship and a time machine and she needs stabilising. A five minute hop into the future should do it.”
“You’ve got a real time machine?” says Amelia.
Rory reaches out to touch it again, because wow.
The Doctor spins around to face them and claps his hands together excitedly. The sleeves of his borrowed shirt slip down so that they cover his hands and almost his fingers.
“Amelia Pond, like a name in a fairy tale, it was lovely to meet you, and Rory, thank you. Really,” he says, leaning down again so their eyes are level. “Thank you.”
He turns around, braces both hands on the edge of the opening, and leaps up, swinging his leg over to sit on the edge with his legs dangling into the box.
“Wait,” says Rory and the Doctor glances back at him. “You’re supposed to have someone check on you a lot when you bump your head.”
The Doctor gets that look in eyes again, the one that made Rory think he didn’t have a Mum before he’d even told them so.
“You should come back,” he tells the Doctor in his firmest voice, because everyone needs someone to look after them sometimes, even Doctors, and even Amelia has an Aunt at least.
Next to him Amelia rolls her eyes. She’s never been impressed by his firm voice.
“Gimme five minutes and I’ll be right back,” the Doctor replies.
“People always say that,” says Amelia.
The Doctor stops and looks at her. Rory thinks that maybe he sees something in Amelia’s eyes as well that even Rory doesn’t.
“Am I people?” he asks her. “Do I even look like people? Trust me, I’m the Doctor. I always come back.”
“Then you should come back so we can check on your head,” says Rory, “and you shouldn’t fall asleep, because that’s bad when you’ve been hit on the head.”
The Doctor smiles, which is a lot nicer than the Cheshire Cat grin of earlier.
“No fear of that. Five minutes then, I promise.”
He jumps into the box and they hear him yelling, “Geronimo!” and a splash before the doors of the box slam shut and there’s that whirling noise again as the box fades into nothing.
Rory and Amelia stand there for a moment, looking at the remains of the greenhouse.
“He better had come back,” she says. “I’m not getting blamed for this one.”