The vast green galaxy drifted across the TARDIS’s observation screen.Rory was blown away. 20,000 star systems inside it, according to the Doctor, hundreds of planets in each.It was incredible.The scale of it was – 
'Ah! Forgot! I forgot them!' 

Rory turned. 'What?' 

'I forgot them!' The Doctor stomped around the TARDIS console. 'No! No! No!' 

'Doctor, what is it?' 

'This – is – so in – furiating..!' 

'Doctor –' 

'Rory, fetch Amy now!' 

'Right, for the last time, what’s the matter?' Rory said, shaking his head. Way too many conversations with the Doctor were like this. As brilliant as he was, the man could be incredibly annoying. 

'Unfinished business!' 

The Doctor spun away on his heel. 

'Hang on!' Rory said. 'I don’t even know where she is!' 

The Doctor turned back. 'Wardrobe, I think. You know Amy. Don’t be long – loads to do.'

'Where is it again..?' Rory said, sighing. The last time he’d gone to change he’d become totally lost. 

'Out of here, three lefts, a right and a left. Bingo!' the Doctor yelled, striding out of the console room.

Four minutes, 49 seconds later 

The door opened and the Doctor went inside. The Seeding Room was dim, curved, warm. A gentle coral pink washed across the walls and floor and from deep within came a soft tick. The atmosphere was thick with the Artron energy. It pressed down, tingling, fizzing upon the Doctor’s face and hands as he approached the centre of the room. There, rising up like giant, distended mushrooms upon a great stone pedestal, were the beginnings of a console.

The Doctor frowned. 'Not nearly ready.' 

He licked a finger tip, ran it across one of the nodules and put it in his mouth. After a thoughtful moment he took it out again. 'Another 5,000 years should do it…'

Magenta, five hours later

Rory and Amy scoured the golden meadow for the teleport pad, the sky above a rich, reddish purple. Each wore a face protector, a film of what looked like plastic found by the Doctor in what he called his “bits and bobs” cupboard. The protectors were criss-crossed with fine blue filaments moulding the material to the skin and acting as respiratory filters. 

Rory scowled at Amy’s back. They were lost on an alien planet and it was all her fault. 

'Amy, how the hell can you have dropped it..?' 

'Duh, if you hadn’t needed help catching a butterfly it wouldn’t have fallen out of my pocket.' 

Rory rolled his eyes and jerked the handle of the net resting on his shoulder. 'Hello? A butterfly the size of a rabbit. Don’t blame me ’cos you screwed up.' 

Amy turned her head. 'You were making such a meal of it…!' 

'Yeah, OK, I know that this is all “business as usual” for you but –' 

'Blimey! Shut up, will ya?' she snapped, turning back. 'Just – chill – out! Give it long enough and he’ll find us. He’ll put out a trace or something…' 

Rory caught up with her. 'Find us? Er, excuse me, this is the guy who when you first met said he’d be gone five minutes and didn’t show up for twelve years. And, actually, he wouldn’t have to find us if you hadn’t left your phone in your other jacket.' 

'Yeah, well, at least mine wasn’t confiscated by the police because of its ring-tone.' 
'How was I to know “The Crazy Frog” had been outlawed in Kaldor City?' 

'I don’t blame them. “The Crazy Frog” should be outlawed everywhere. Kaldor City might have been run by a nut case but at least he got something right!' 

Before either of them could say another word they heard the sound of the TARDIS grinding out across the meadow. 
Amy smiled sourly. 'Told you so.' 

Rory loved her more than he could say but, without a doubt, she could be infuriating. 

The TARDIS came to a stop. It opened and out popped the Doctor’s head. 'Afternoon, you two! There you are! I was getting a little worried…' 

'Amy lost the teleport... thingy.' 

'Just leave it, OK?' 

'But we’re all here now…' the Doctor went on, raising an eyebrow. 'That’s the main thing. Well, the lab’s all set up, so, did you get one?' 

Rory nodded. The Doctor loped out of the TARDIS, peeking round to the net. 

'Hey!' Rory said, stepping back. 'Mask?' 

'I’ll be alright. The butterfly’s gas won’t work on Time Lords, only lower life forms.'

Amy turned to Rory, laughing despite herself. 'Come on, you know what he means.' 

'Ah, yes... Sorry…' the Doctor said. 'Didn’t mean it to come out that way – I meant our fishy, alien friends. I sometimes forget you two are lower life forms.' 

Rory smiled weakly. 'Thanks, I think.'

The Doctor moved round to the net, peering into it, absorbed. 'Oh, you’re a beauty, aren’t you?' he whispered. The butterfly trembled, trying to hide itself somehow within the mesh. A jet of gas squirted at the Doctor from the net. 'Oh... Oh! Steady now, fellah! It’s alright, don’t be afraid,' he went on, waving back the vapour. 'We won’t hurt you, I promise. We just have to collect one of your little gas spores and then you can go… Don’t get stressed... There, there, that’s it…' He looked up. 'No problems with the gas?' 

Amy pointed at her face mask. 'They were fine, Doctor.' 

'Good. Right! Find that teleport pad – can’t leave that lying around. Then, Operation Snooze!'

Sixteen hours, 43 minutes later

The Doctor gently carried the butterfly across the console room. Rory pulled the doors open and stood well back. 'Thank you…' the Doctor said and whispered the same to the creature, letting go. It floated from his palms. Wings spreading wide, it gave a little jerk and flew out of the TARDIS. 

The Doctor turned away. 'Back in a bit!' he called out, hurrying from the console room. Rory came back to the doors and watched the butterfly. It was the most extraordinarily gorgeous thing he had ever seen, a flash of intense natural neon rising and soaring over the meadow, glowing wildly against the magenta sky. Amazing. Beyond belief. The craziness of the last few days hit him again. So many changes he’d experienced, so quickly. Time travel... Chasing a giant butterfly across a planet whose colour scheme looked like something from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds; the robots hunting him and Amy through the Kaldor City sewers; Rosanna Calvierri trying to drown Venice to make a home for her children. Ninety-six hours ago all he’d been thinking about was getting his wedding vows right. Rory felt a strange moment of dislocation – as though his life had turned into a movie, something that wasn’t real anymore. 


Amy was at his side, tugging his sleeve. 'I called you twice, you didn’t hear me.' 

'Oh – sorry... How was the pool..?' 

'Brilliant. It’s got this amazing anti-gravity thing that… Are you OK?' 

'I don’t know – feel a bit weird. The butterfly – everything, you know… I feel... I don’t know...' 

Amy held his hand, smiling gently. 'I do. The things you see around here... Sometimes they do that to you, overwhelm you.' She looked away and back at him again, her voice uneasy. 'Look, I’m sorry I was so in your face. I’ve been at this a lot longer than you and I should have thought... Sorry. You know what I’m like.' 

'It’s OK.' 

'And you did great catching that thing, you really did.' She kissed Rory on the cheek. 

'Amy, it’s OK.' 


Rory had always felt, deep down, that he could never compete with the Doctor. Since that fleeting moment the man had crashed into and out of Amy’s life when she was little she had been obsessed with him. And when he’d turned up again – her childhood hero – she’d gone off with him on the night before her wedding. Rory saw the way she was around him, so absorbed, so alive; over and over again it struck Rory that she might never want her ordinary life back; that he alone might not be enough to keep her from staying with the Doctor forever. 

Rory knew his time aboard the TARDIS was only temporary. He was only still here because Amy had asked him and, as dazzling and exciting as all this was, there would come a time when all he’d want was his old, everyday life back. Amy loved him, he knew that, or thought he did, but only the Doctor could give her all this... The whole universe. He knew how important this man was to her and really wasn’t sure which way she’d go if it came down to ‘It’s him or me.’ 

And Rory knew the Doctor understood what he feared: there was a danger that Amy was becoming too attached to TARDIS life, would leave everything behind to pursue it – would trash any chance of normal life in order to stay. That was why the Doctor had taken them to Venice on a ‘date’ to re-connect as a couple. He didn’t want the responsibility they might split up on his conscience. (True, the date had included an alien conspiracy, the very real possibility of violent death and a hurricane force storm, but he’d done his best.) 

What Rory couldn’t get out of his head was the fact of when Amy had gone off: The night before their wedding. But then it was also true what she’d said to him in their long conversation after Venice: that the TARDIS was a time machine. So she could never miss the wedding and had no intention of doing so – he had nothing to worry about. Amy hadn’t told the Doctor that she was getting married in the morning, she assured Rory, because if she had she didn’t think he would have taken her with him. And she had to do this, to get it all out of her system. 'Look! I love ya, ya big numpty!' she’d said. 'But this is something I have to do; and, I’m sorry, and I know it’s not what you wanna hear, but I’m not coming home. Not yet. You’re welcome to stay if that’s what you decide – I’ve said I want you to – but if you want he can drop you off. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.' 

Rory wanted to believe Amy but there was still something he couldn’t shake off. Her attitude was too casual, too blasé – she didn’t seem to be taking their life, their future together as seriously as he did. And his feelings really hadn’t entered into her thinking, not at all. And what did all of that say? Amy had always worn the trousers in the relationship, he knew; that was just how it was. And so he’d found himself nodding when she told him she wasn’t coming home yet. Sticking around so Amy wouldn’t forget him.