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: 1052 for this chapter
Summary: The story of Rory's life, from meeting Amy to death.
This Chapter: Guilt threatens to overwhelm Rory

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.

‘Rory the Roman!’

Rory started as the voice boomed cheerfully into the confined space he was in.  As always, the use of English threw him for a moment.  He was so used to the softer cadences of the languages around him.  The Latin, the Frankish language.  English, as well as being so out of its own time, was so harsh and guttural by contrast.

‘Jack,’ he smiled eventually.  ‘How are you?’

‘Ouch.  Better than you, it seems,’ Jack said as he sat down.  ‘Why the long face?’

Rory sighed and stretched out.  ‘It’s nothing.  I’m just …’ he looked away, then swallowed.

‘You’re getting bored.’  Jack nodded, his easy grin in place as he lounged against the Pandorica.  ‘Can’t say I blame you.  Look at this place?  It’d drive a better man insane.’

‘No, it’s not that!’ Rory protested.  ‘I was just realising I don’t even remember what Amy looks like.’  A lump formed in his throat.  The thing he was here to do, the one thing he had assigned himself, was to protect Amy, keep her safe – and he could barely recall her voice, let alone the way her hair fell when she was laughing at him, or the way her body would vibrate when she got excited about something.  He could feel the tears welling up, so he carefully looked away from the other man.

In the many times Jack had appeared over the last few hundred years, Rory had grown to trust the man.  Telling him about Amy had been difficult the first time, but Jack had never judged.  Jack had been so accepting of what Rory had done, that he even looked forward to the times when Jack breezed in, a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stultifying life with the Franks.  Not today, though.  Today, Rory wished he was alone with his bleak thoughts.

Jack didn’t take the hint, unfortunately.  Instead, he sat down next to Rory, forcing him to look into his face.

‘Yes you do,’ he said.  ‘I know.  If you try hard enough you’ll find she’s still there waiting for you.’

‘How can you know that?’  Rory could feel his voice cracking.

‘Because I remember them all.  All those people who were important to me.  My mother, my brother.  Rose.’  He sighed, the air rushing out of him in an uncharacteristically sober moment.  ‘You’re no different, Rory.  You’ll see.’

He patted Rory’s knee, then added, ‘tell me about her.  I guarantee you’ll remember more than you realise.’

Half hopeful, half sceptical, Rory began to talk.  He was hesitant at first.  The memories of Amy didn’t want to return.  He couldn’t pull her face into his mind.  His brain kept overlaying the sounds of other women, and he would see faces that didn’t hold the same shape, the same feeling as Amy’s did.  But soon enough, Rory closed his eyes and allowed himself to sink into his memories.  Amy’s voice began to speak to him, the tones clear and affectionately disparaging.  Then finally he could picture her face.

‘She has this way she flips her hair …’ he said, a slight laugh in his voice as he wound down.  He realised he’d been talking for hours.  He looked over at Jack, who still looked interested.  Rory silently blessed his courteousness.  He smiled softly as he continued.  ‘It falls over her face and she gets annoyed with it, then she tosses her head a bit to flip it off.  Then she’ll just grin as it falls down again.  I never did get why she didn’t just tie it back.’  Rory sighed.  Then his heart squeezed as he remembered that last time her hair had fallen off her face – when her body slipped away from him as she died.

‘It’s not your fault, you know?’ Jack said as he watched Rory carefully.  ‘You couldn’t have helped it.’

‘I should have … I should have known.’  Rory was adamant.  He’d been thinking about this for years.  ‘I should have just walked away when those memories returned.’  Rory held his own failure against himself – he should have recognised how wrong everything was and known to take action.  Amy had suffered because of his stupidity.

‘Did you know you were an auton then?’  Jack’s voice cut into his thoughts and Rory grimaced.

‘No, but I should have …’

‘You couldn’t have known,’ Jack said.  He reached out and squeezed Rory’s hand.  ‘It was all designed to ensure you didn’t know.  You can’t blame yourself.’

Rory ran a frustrated hand through his hair.  ‘I can’t not blame myself.  I did it.  I killed her.  She’s stuck in there because of me.’

‘It’s no use talking to you, I see.’  Jack huffed once and stood up.  He started to leave, then turned back to Rory with a half-smile on his face.  ‘You’re a good man, Roman.  You just need to come to terms with that.  This is not you.  The real you is the one who decided to stay with your Amy, not the one who fired that shot.’  He winked.  ‘I can’t wait to meet this girl.  She must be something to turn you into this.’

He tipped his hat to Rory and sauntered off with a cheery wave.  Rory sighed again and leaned back against the Pandorica.  Much as he’d love to believe Jack, and much as his being there had been cathartic in a way, Rory still couldn’t shake his dark thoughts.  This was his big act of atonement – and yet he felt like he could never atone.

How meaningless these years had been.

In that initial rush of fervour in the underhenge, Rory had believed that spending 2,000-odd years with the Pandorica would assuage his guilt.  It hadn’t.  He still felt as dreadful as he had the day it had happened.  And anyway, the one thing he had learned in the last several hundred years was that none of that mattered anyway.  What mattered was Amy.  His guilt?  Nothing.  Amy’s life – now that was worth something.  He forced himself to remember that no matter how he felt, Amy was safer with him here.

He sighed once again and forced himself to stand.  Amy needed him.  He would guard her – and one day she would be freed from her prison.  Then, and only then, could Rory rest easy.
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