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: 1411 for this chapter
Summary: The story of Rory's life, from meeting Amy to death.
This Chapter: The fall of Rome is imminant, which puts the Pandoria into danger.

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.

‘I really don’t think this is a good idea.’  Rory tried to reason with his commander for what felt like the millionth time.  ‘The provinces are restless; this is not safe.’

‘Exactly, lad. The provinces are restless.  That’s why we need to take our most notable treasures out to remind them of the might of Rome.’  Rory couldn’t help but think what a stupid idea that was – but it was very much the sort of thing Constantius would think to do.  There was something really quite idiotic about every single Roman emperor, Rory reflected; each one tried to put his mark on the throne by doing something grand, and usually stupid.  Like, for instance, loading up the Pandorica and other majestic treasures and sending them out under limited guard around the imploding empire.  The imploding empire which was often under attack by groups of other nationalities which could smell Roman defeat in the air.

The commander caught sight of Rory’s face as he stared up at the Pandorica, and patted him reassuringly on the shoulder.  ‘Don’t worry – this is our most important artefact; we’re not going to put it in danger.’

Rory muttered to himself under his breath, ‘this is a danger,’ but didn’t dare speak again.  If the Pandorica was going to be going out on tour then he had to be allowed to stay with it.  It was, after all, not essential that it stay in Roman hands, just that it be safe.  Whatever happened to it on its pilgrimage, Rory needed to be with it.  He bowed and left to make his own arrangements.

Trudging along behind the Pandorica’s cart a few weeks later, Rory was feeling anxious.  The hot weather had dried out the roads and every step puffed up clouds of dust.  It made visuals very difficult and increased his anxiety.  The raucous laughs of the men surrounding him set his teeth on edge, too.  Did they have no idea how appealing a target they were making the procession?

As much as Rory knew in his head that Rome was falling and that it wouldn’t be a safe haven for himself and the Pandorica for much longer, he didn’t want to admit that it was time to move on.  And anyway, he didn’t like the insecurity of their current location.  They’d been walking for weeks.  Admittedly, the reception in every small out of the way town or city they had been in had been boisterous and enthusiastic.  However, Rory didn’t trust the apparent peace of the area they were currently travelling through.  Visigoth and Frankish raids had been minimal recently and Rory couldn’t help but wonder if they were just waiting for a better opportunity.  There had been no logical reason for the attacks to slacken off, and after long years observing, Rory had developed a good sense of when something just didn’t feel right.

He finally allowed himself to breathe easy when they got to the relative safety of Duisberg, a small city where they were intending to display their treasure for a month.  Here, he knew, there were other people to help guard the Pandorica.  Here there were people around and no chance for an ambush.  Here Amy would be (relatively) safe.

Rory carefully watched as the giant box was set up in pride of place in the middle of the city’s largest square.  He was still unhappy that the Romans were parading it around, taunting every enemy they had to come and take a swipe at it.  But he had to admit it seemed secure enough surrounded by so many buildings and with the legions stationed nearby.

A few days later, after he had once again ensured the security of the surrounding buildings, Rory sat down gingerly on the edge of the box to take his guard.  Somewhere in the last few hundred years Rory had become a little rusty. No, that wasn’t the word.  He was plastic and plastic didn’t rust, but his joints didn’t feel as mobile as they had when he’d first sat here.  He sighed.  It was just one more example of how long he had been doing this.  When he thought of how long he still had to go Rory sometimes found himself getting despondent.  If he was this creaky already, how was he ever going to manage for another 1500-odd years?

Rory sat up suddenly, startled out of his reverie.  Something was different tonight.  The torches flickered as they had for the two nights he had been stationed here, and the men’s snoring was as expressive as ever.  But there was something else out in the night.

He heard it again and rose slowly to his feet, pulling his sword into his hand as noiselessly as he could.  He stepped carefully forwards, trying to see into the side alley the noise had come from.  He felt a scraping at his neck and the hot flash of a torch as someone took hold of him from behind.  Rory froze.  He didn’t care about the sword – it couldn’t pierce the plastic of his skin after all – but the torch could damage him.  He reflexively felt his pinky where he had once tested the Doctor’s words to him as he’d left.  The melted edge proved a stark reminder of his present danger.

Rory dropped his own sword and cleared his throat.  ‘Um, would you … would you mind just backing the torch off a bit?’

The sword wavered a little on his neck, then the heat receded as the torch was thrust behind them and his arms were pulled painfully up behind his back.

‘You’re not going to fight then, lad?’

‘Depends.  What are you going to do with the box?’

Out of the corner of his eye Rory could see several men lifting the logs which were used to pull the Pandorica.

‘We’re taking it for the Frankish armies.’

So.  It was really happening then.  Everything Rory had feared about this trip had just been proven correct.  He grimaced, weighing up his options.  It was clear what the best thing to do was, though it sat ill on his conscience.

In fact, he felt sick.  In his imagination, Rory had assumed he would remain with the Pandorica in Rome for the bulk of his 2,000 year mission, but now at the first sign of trouble here he was abandoning his loyalty.  It didn’t sit well on his conscience.  On the other hand, the Romans were becoming reckless and fickle.  The empire was collapsing around him, and from distant high school memory the Franks were pretty good fighters.  Keeping Amy safe was of paramount importance, so no matter how much it pained Rory to abandon his moral objection to deserting, he decided this was probably his best option.

‘I’m pledged to the box,’ Rory said.  ‘As long as you keep it somewhere safe I’ll guard it.’

‘Oh, we’ll look after it, alright.  This here box – and its faithful centurion – are highly prized.’  The man looked Rory up and down, then clearly decided he was no threat.  He nodded to the soldier holding Rory, and his arms were released.  He massaged them, trying to ensure the experience didn’t hasten his decay.

Quietly, and with many misgivings, Rory allowed himself to be led away.  The Pandorica’s cart creaked a little as it moved and Rory desperately hoped no Roman woke while they made their way out of the town and into the black of night.  He whispered his fear to the man beside him.

‘Not to worry, boy.  We’ve made sure your friends can’t follow us.’  The men around him laughed heartily and Rory’s heart twisted.  The snores from the tents had ceased and yet no-one had come to see what was going on, not even when they heard that loud burst of laughter.  The bizarreness of the situation hit him.  These were Romans, and highly trained.  If they were awake they would be out fighting.  Rory swallowed.  He thought of his men, the people he had joked with for the last few weeks as they moved with the Pandorica.  He felt sickened again as he thought about how he was deserting everything that had been important to him – his loyalty, his sincerity, his care for others – but he had to do what was needed to keep Amy safe.  Muttering a quick blessing sending the souls of his companions to the god of the underworld, Rory set his eyes on the future.
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