Rory's memories feel like a lake in summer: a layer of warm, bright water over something unimaginably cold and dark. Even if he's careful, every now and then, he'll kick too hard or sink too deep and the unfamiliar, unexpected coldness will slide over him.
He can hear Amy screaming his name, but he can't answer her. There is something rising up out of the deep, and it will swallow him whole.
"Okay," Rory said, "this is not exactly the location I had in mind for a honeymoon."
He kept his eyes on his feet. If he looked up or around, he would get a screaming case of vertigo.
"I don't know where you're going to find a more appropriate place," the Doctor said, sounding baffled and ever so faintly hurt. "This is the only moon in the known universe that is completely covered in honey. Well, honeycomb, really."
"It's beautiful," Amy said.
Rory took a deep breath and looked up again. It was beautiful, like a cathedral that bees would build. High above them, the honeycomb formed a vaulted roof. Sunlight poured in through the cells, rendered dim and golden by the honey. Something had punched a hole in the comb at one point, and a waterfall of honey spilled down into the depths of the hive. Rory couldn't tell from that distance if the honey was still flowing, or if it had solidified, like amber.
They stood on the edge of another layer of honeycomb, and what should have been beeswax was smooth and hard as marble. Each cell was the size of a king mattress. If Rory looked down over the edge, he could see, maybe twenty or thirty feet down, another layer beneath them, separated by empty space, and another below that one, and maybe more below that, details swallowed up by the gloom.
"The race that built this, the Mellifica, died out thousands of years ago," the Doctor said. "But the honeycombs remain, almost perfectly preserved. Interestingly, the honey is not made from nectar but through a photosynthetic process —"
"What's that noise?" Amy asked.
They were quiet for a moment, and Rory could hear, faintly, a buzzing roar. Rory and Amy looked at the Doctor.
"Completely extinct!" he said. "It's probably the wind."
The buzzing grew louder.
The Doctor cleared his throat. "Nevertheless, a strategic withdrawal might be prudent."
"What?" Amy said.
"Run!" Rory shouted, and they did.
Even at the threshold of the TARDIS, when the noise was as loud as a jet engine roar, there was nothing to see.
"Do you think he's being deliberately obtuse?" Rory murmured against Amy's shoulder. The TARDIS at least seemed to understand the concept of a honeymoon; their bedroom had a huge four poster bed now. "I mean, on what planet do newly-weds want to be chased by giant ghost bees?"
Amy laughed. "I think he just…doesn't get what makes something romantic."
"Hmph," Rory said.
Rory woke up in an empty bed to the sound of ocean waves. The TARDIS had rearranged itself while he slept and their bedroom opened directly onto the control room. The sound of the ocean was coming from the open door of the TARDIS. He stepped out onto the most perfect example of a tropical beach that he'd ever seen.
Turquoise water lapped gently against an expanse of sand as soft and white as icing sugar. Behind the TARDIS the sand gave way to a wall of jungle, a riot of green foliage and brilliant flowers. The air was as warm as a kiss and smelled like salt and whatever was blooming.
"Well?" the Doctor asked. Next to him Amy was grinning.
"It's…Wait, there are dinosaurs in the jungle, aren't there?"
"Oooh, giant squid in the lagoon?" Amy guessed.
"No! There is nothing on this planet but plants," the Doctor said.
"Are they…giant man-eating plants?" Rory asked.
"No. This is what you wanted for a honeymoon location: exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely dull."
"And warm enough for exposed skin," Amy said, waggling her eyebrows.
"Then it's perfect," Rory said.
Amy kissed him, and then ran back into the TARDIS. "I'm going to go change!"
The TARDIS produced beach chairs and a sun umbrella, and even sun block. Rory sat with his feet buried in the warm sand and watched Amy splash around in the waves. A small part of his mind was still waiting for the inevitable giant man-eating plants, but mostly he felt warm and relaxed and…
"Rory!" Amy said, and he opened his eyes with a ragged gasp.
His heart was pounding and his throat hurt. Amy and the Doctor were watching him with wide eyes.
"Are you okay?" Amy asked.
"You were shouting in Latin," the Doctor said.
"Yeah, I, I'm fine."
"What were you dreaming about?" Amy asked.
"I don't remember," Rory said automatically, and found, for a change, that it was true. He shivered.
This is the feel of your sandaled feet striking the dusty road, the rhythm beaten into your bones by now.
This is the taste of the endless march, dust and olives and watered wine.
"Rory?" Amy said, voice fuzzy with sleep. "Where are you going?"
Rory stopped with his hand on the bedroom door. "I don't know," he said.
When Amy fell asleep on the beach, Rory started building a sand castle. It was a whim, some memory of childhood trips to the seaside. He was working on the moat when he found the bones.
The first one was as long as his arm, a smooth curve like a rib, but riddled with tiny holes. When he pulled it free of the sand, he uncovered another rib-like one, and then what looked like the head of a femur.
"Doctor," he said.
The Doctor didn't reply. He was in the beach chair next to Amy, the two still sound asleep, heads lolling together in the shade of the umbrella.
"Doctor," Rory said again, more loudly, but neither of them stirred.
He would get up and go over there, Rory decided. In just a minute.
This is the sound of London dying: air raid sirens and falling bombs.
This is the smell of London dying: smoke and ash and his own burning plastic flesh.
This is what terror feels like to a plastic man.
"I always liked that costume on you," Amy said. "Shows off your calves."
Amy was not in the Pandorica. "Wait," Rory said. "This is —"
"This is a dream," the Doctor said. "Interesting. I've always wondered what one was like. It looks a lot like a memory."
It looked like Stonehenge, in the first century AD.
"What's going on?" Amy asked.
"My guess is we're sharing a dream state, probably through the root system of the jungle that is currently burrowing into our nervous systems."
"What?" Rory said.
"How do you know?" Amy asked.
The Doctor looked around them again. "My nervous system is not quite what they were expecting. I'm picking up some interference."
There were trees around them suddenly, faint and shadowy. They were only trees, but they sent a chill down Rory's spine.
"What do they want?"
The Doctor's eyes were unfocused. "I believe they're feeding on our dreams, our memories. In retrospect, I should have wondered why this planet did not have a larger tourism industry."
"So we have to wake up," Rory said.
The Doctor reached out and pinched him.
"As I suspected. They're keeping us under."
"Can't you —" Amy waved her hands around. "Sonic something?"
"Unfortunately, this screwdriver is merely metaphorical right now. But perhaps…"
"Perhaps we could overload the connection, and force them to drop it."
"Overload it how?" Amy asked.
"Acute hyperglycemia," the Doctor said. "In a sense. I have more than nine hundred years of memories to shove down their throats. They won't be expecting that."
"I've got you beat on that front," Rory said, and they both turned to look at him.
"No," the Doctor said.
"No," Amy said.
"It's too late," Rory said, and dove into the deep, cold darkness.
This is Rory's first kiss, and his first kiss with Amy. They are one and the same.
This is the first patient he watched die. This is the first man he killed in battle.
This is his death in Amy's arms. This is Amy dying in his.
This is the Doctor's face when he sees, really sees, Rory at Stonehenge.
This is Amy's face in Museum of Natural History at the end of the universe.
This is two thousand years of love and hope and patience. This is two thousand years of war and plague and time.
This is what lives in the depths of Rory's mind.
This is the ceiling of the TARDIS.
Rory sucked in a huge, gasping breath and sat straight up. "Fuck."
"Oh, my God, Rory," Amy said, and she flung her arms around him.
"Easy now, easy now," the Doctor said, his hand steady on Rory's shoulder.
"What happened?" Rory croaked.
"It worked," the Doctor said. "Whatever you did — they dropped Amy and me out of the shared dream, and we dragged you off the beach."
Amy cupped his face in her hands. "Are you all right?" she asked.
"Ye—" He stopped. "I will be."
She pressed her forehead against his for a long moment.
"But we're picking the next honeymoon location," Rory said.
They decided on a cruise. It was a cruise of the skies of the gas giant Ykat Ykas, but still.
"Mangoberry daiquolada?" the Doctor asked, dropping into the deck chair next to Rory. He was holding two glasses full of something in violent shades of pink and orange.
Rory took one. It even had a little paper umbrella. Or possibly a candied butterfly. He didn't look too closely. "Amy's still sleeping," he said. She was draped across his chest like a particularly clingy blanket.
"Oh, I know, this one's for me."
They sat and drank in silence for a moment.
"On Skepos IV, newly wed couples are sent out with nothing but the clothes on their back to kill a Wlarok," the Doctor said. "It's a kind of giant man-eating lizard."
"I think it's a lovely ceremony. Nothing like killing a Wlarok to forge an unshakable bond between a husband and wife."
"You know, we've already done the whole killing-a-giant-lizard thing," Rory said. "Right after the wedding, in fact. Isis's crocodile guards, on the Galactic Orient Express. Remember?" He bumped his foot against the Doctor's. "You were there with us."
"Ah." The Doctor blinked and ducked his head. "Yes."
Rory left his foot pressed against the Doctor's. "You're right," he said. "It's a lovely ceremony."