rumpelsnorcack: (Rory/Amy hug animated)
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Title: A Long Life (But One Worth Living)
Author: rumpelsnorcack
Rating: PG-13 generally
Characters & Pairings: This chapter: Rory, Jack
Word Count: 1241 for this chapter
Summary: The story of Rory's life, from meeting Amy to death.
This Chapter: An unexpected visitor gives Rory some peace of mind.

Notes: Many thanks to the wonderful a_phoenixdragon and mollywheezy who have been extremely supportive through this whole process.  I've been writing this on and off for a while.  It's still not finished, but is getting there.  Not sure how many chapters there will be, but each one is intended as a short one-shot in its own right so all can be read independently.  However, they do all build together to give a picture of Rory's life, complicated timelines and all.  It's all roughly chronological, but each piece doesn't necessarily exist in the same timeline as each other piece.  So some are pre-reboot, some post, some exist in a universe which includes Mels, others don't.
Disclaimer: Sadly none of the characters are mine, I just enjoy hanging around in their sandbox.

‘You don’t belong here.’  The man said it with certainty, nodding at Rory in a familiar way.  Startled at the use of English, Rory gazed at him without speaking.  He took in the man’s navy trousers and his military jacket then his eyes swept on to the vortex manipulator peeking out from the jacket.  Neither do you, he thought, but still didn’t speak.  Instead, he resettled himself into parade rest and stared at the wall behind the man’s head.  His hand was poised over his sword, though.  Something about this man set his teeth on edge.  Something more than the English that was.  Maybe it was the time – people didn’t usually visit the Pandorica this long after dark unless it was a festival.  Maybe it was just something about the man’s general attitude.  Tensing a little, Rory readied himself to defend if it became necessary, his senses hyper aware of the man’s every move despite not looking in his direction.

The man chuckled to himself and Rory could feel his eyes on him.  ‘Oh.  A quiet one.  The Doctor doesn’t usually like them quiet.’  The tone was amused, and the name startled Rory out of his silence.  Relaxing, he glanced over at the other man.

‘You know the Doctor?’

‘I was right!’ the man grabbed him into a very familiar hug and Rory immediately tensed, his arms stiff and unresponsive.  The other man pulled back and laughed, patting Rory’s face.  ‘Oh, you are a quaint one!  Captain Jack Harkness at your service.’  He swept into an over exaggerated bow and laughed again.

‘How did you know …?’

‘That you’re one of the Doctor’s waifs?  You don’t fit in.  You’re always here with this box, and you never sleep.’  Rory didn’t see what that had to do with the Doctor and his confusion must have shown on his face because Captain Jack laughed yet again, sat down on the edge of the Pandorica and looked winningly at Rory.  ‘Plus, he told me he’d left a plastic centurion guarding a box and I couldn’t resist taking a peek.’

He patted the ledge next to him.  ‘Come and sit down, centurion.  It’s late, we’re the only ones here.  Take some weight off and tell me your story.’

Feeling uncertain, Rory sat down.  ‘So the Doctor sent you, then?’ he asked.

‘Not exactly.  He kind of said not to come.  But how could I resist?  A man in a uniform?  Count me in.’ Jack laughed as Rory inched away from him.  Then his face changed and he leaned his head back against the wall.  The gaze he gave Rory became direct and sympathetic.  ‘But, seriously, I thought you might like a chat with someone who understands.’

‘Understands what?’

‘Understands not dying.  Outliving everyone around you.’  Jack waved his hands around, indicating the world around them.  ‘How long have you been here?’

Rory sighed and scrubbed his hands through his hair.  ‘I don’t know.  A few hundred years, I think.  It’s a bit of a blur.’

Jack nodded understanding.  ‘Yeah that happens.’

Rory looked at him for a long moment.  He seemed sincere, so Rory asked, ‘What did you mean you understand?’

‘I can’t die either.  Bad experience with the Doctor …’

For the first time, Rory laughed.  ‘Aren’t they all?’

‘I can take you away from this, you know?’  Jack waved his hand in the air, exposing the vortex manipulator.  ‘You don’t have to stay.’

‘I know,’ Rory said.  ‘I chose to.  I’m choosing to.’

He reflected Jack’s position, leaning his head back against the Pandorica, his hand unconsciously patting the ledge he was sitting on.  Images of Amy slumped in the box pressed in on him and the pats became a caress.  No, he didn’t have to be here, but Amy needed him so stay he would.  He caught Jack watching him with a careful eye and flushed, carefully putting his hand in his lap.

‘What’s in the box, then?  This is not just a job to you, is it?’

Rory could feel himself flushing more deeply as he looked away, unwilling to allow this stranger to see his face as they discussed Amy.  ‘I can’t tell you.  It’s too important. It’s … yeah it’s more than a job.  But I can’t say.’

‘Well you’re no fun.’  Captain Jack slapped him on the leg, squeezing it before adding in a more serious tone, ‘how are you coping?’

Rory didn’t know why, but he felt like he could trust this guy.  Maybe it was the not dying, maybe it was the unashamed brashness.  Maybe it was just loneliness and the novelty of talking to someone who had a modern perspective.  He sighed.  ‘I’m okay, I guess.  I mean … Roman.  In Rome.  It’s not so bad.  They think I’m a god.  Or something.’

‘I’ll bet.  Nestene, huh?  That must be interesting.’

‘Not really.  It’s not so different from being human.  Apart from the not-dying and not-aging.  Not sleeping is a bit of a drag, though.’  Rory looked at him quizzically. ‘What’s your story?  Most people don’t come out of encounters with the Doctor unable to die.’  His heart squeezed as he thought about Amy, who was dead because of the Doctor.  Jack was watching his face carefully and gave him a sympathetic pat as he saw the pain reflected in Rory’s face, though likely mistaking the cause.

‘Oh, it’s a long story you don’t need to worry about.  Much less interesting than yours, centurion.’

‘When are you from?’  Rory asked, ignoring the silent question and going back to safer territory.  The man beside him seemed too urbane to even be 21st century.

‘51st century,’ Jack confirmed.  ‘You?’

‘21st,’ Rory said.  ‘Though it’s a bit complicated.’

‘Always is.’  Jack smirked at him.  ‘Always is.  I knew a 21st century girl once.  She was a bit mad but I loved her.’  He looked over at Rory again and must have seen something in his face because he added, ‘this must be odd, then – Rome.  Hey!’ his face lit up.  ‘Isn’t it going to fall soon?  Wouldn’t that be something to see!’

‘I think so,’ said Rory, ignoring the suggestion that seeing a huge empire destroy itself would be fun.  ‘Signs are there.  Empire’s losing its grip on the provinces.  Can’t be long now, I wouldn’t think.  Didn’t pay enough attention in History class, though, so I’m not sure.’

Jack nodded, then sighed and stood up.  ‘I’d better get going.  It was … good to talk, centurion.  Maybe I’ll see you again.’  He held out his hand to Rory.  ‘Do you have a name?  Or do I keep calling you ‘centurion’ forever?’

‘Oh.  Rory.  I’m Rory.  It was nice to meet you, too.’  They shook hands and the captain sauntered off, with a final wave of the hand and a casual ‘see ya, Rory.’

It had been good, Rory mused as he sat down again.  A friendly face from his own time, or near enough to his own time – someone who understood being out of place, anyway – had been a pleasant time out.  He felt reinvigorated, ready to face another few hundred years of his self-imposed vigil.  Being given the chance to leave again assuaged any regrets he’d had at not taking up the Doctor’s offer and he felt much more at peace than he had even earlier that day.  Taking a deep, happy sigh Rory settled back against the Pandorica, his lips softened into an unaccustomed smile.
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