The three time travelers walked wearily through the TARDIS door - it was rare for them to enter the ship at anything less than a full gallop. It was difficult to put one foot in front of the other, nevermind having to make haste. Simply put, if a hurry had been necessary to survive, the Doctor would have been alone and in the throes of a regeneration.
"For God's sake, don't touch anything, Rory," Amy warned as she stood still, legs spread apart slightly and arms held out from her side.
"Me?" Rory shrieked. "Why is it always me? 'Rory, hands off the dials…Rory, show the visitor around but don't touch anything…Rory, make the tea….' I'm quite done with Rory comma don't, Rory comma do..."
"Rory, shut up."
" 'Rory comma imperative sentence…' "Rory took a step forward, and the sound his shoes made as they lifted and landed on the TARDIS floor sounded as if his feet were plungers.
"Take your shoes off, Rory."
Rory stared ahead of him and inhaled a deep breath through clenched teeth. He slowly removed his shirt, not for effect but because he couldn't move any faster.
"Good idea, Rory. Probably best for us to…," the Doctor began to reason just as Rory's shirt went whizzing by his head. He feared to look around but felt compelled.
Amy was still standing where she had stopped just inside the door, and Rory's shirt was plastered across her face. "…disrobe here…" He looked back at Rory. "Probably not your finest moment, Mr. Pond." The Doctor began the task of removing his own top layer of clothing when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Amy attempt a full run at her husband.
Only, she was making quite an effort and moving painstakingly slow. Both men started laughing as she continued to try to close the gap between herself and Rory. So busy was Rory being amused that he failed to prepare for the attack. When Amy was within arm's length, he made an afterthought attempt at escape and stumbled out of his shoes, hitting the floor with a resounding thud.
Amy stopped her forward progress and stared down at him with one lifted brow. "Well, how are you going to get up now, stupid face?"
The Doctor had stopped laughing and hoped that he didn't have to get between the married couple, because, quite frankly, Amy would have had Rory's head under her foot before he could get himself to them. "Ok, ok, ok...everyone just…" He inhaled a deep breath through his nose and choked on the smell of them. "Well, that thought didn't end up where I had planned," he admitted, coughing through sputtered breaths. "Oh, bloody hell…that putrid smell is us, by the way. We have to take off these clothes and get them to the incinerator…like, yesterday."
"Here?" Amy asked, horrified at the thought of being in her undies in front of the Doctor – in front of her husband.
"Hey, if you want to trudge back to your bed chamber like that, we will provide provisions along the way so that you don't starve on your journey," the Doctor answered.
"Yeah, and if you perish from old age before you reach the bedroom, I promise I won't remarry straight away," Rory smirked as he tried to wiggle out of his jeans while stuck to the floor.
She rolled her eyes and made a rather rude gesture in her husband's direction before she began to shed herself of her clothes. "You know, Doctor, it may have been helpful to know that they projectile-vomit as a call to attack."
"I'm over 900 years old! I can't be expected to remember every little detail of every species I've encountered over the years," he explained irritatingly.
"Little detail?" Amy screeched. "Look at this!"
The Doctor peered up from his efforts to remove his trousers and chuckled. Amy had held up a section of hair from her head, and it remained in the upright position when she let it go and pointed to it. "Maybe that look will catch on?"
"This isn't funny. I may have to shave my head and start over!" she cried out, exasperated with him and their situation. "I mean, how does one remove alien tar vomit from hair?"
"I almost expect Scooby Doo to run through the door being chased by whatever the hell just tarred us," Rory moaned from the floor, having finally rid himself of his trousers and giving up on his shirt. He rolled onto his knees and began crawling towards their bedroom.
"Oh, no you don't, Rory Pond! If you get in that shower before I do, I will shave off your eyebrows in your sleep!"
"IT'S WILLIAMS! IT'S ALWAYS BEEN WILLIAMS!"
"Let's just calm down and think rationally. There's dozens of bathing facilities in the ship, remember?" The Doctor reasoned.
Amy stood, unashamed, in her bra and boy shorts, giving him the evil eye before running after and jumping over Rory to claim their bathroom for herself, yelling as she went. "Well, you better show Shaggy to one of them!"
Rory collapsed back onto the floor, folded his arms under his head and whined in discomfort. "I can't get out of my shirt…and now my face is STUCK TO MY ARMS!"
The Doctor, now in just his pants and socks, grabbed Rory by the ankles. "Hold your arms out over your head. I'm going to pull you out of it."
"I can't unfold my arms, Doctor!"
"Oh, Rory…" The Doctor dropped his legs onto the floor and walked around to unstick Rory from himself. "You've got to pull it together, yeah?" The Doctor placed a foot on Rory's arms, grabbed his head with both hands and gave it a tug.
The Doctor examined the sides of his face, "Yeah, you've still got some skin there. Stop with your yelling. Now, put your arms out, Rory."
"Another comma Rory. I'm just so tired," he complained as the Doctor dragged him across the floor, his head skipping along like a ball, leaving his shirt stuck to the TARDIS floor. "I thought that big one was going to take me as her husband…or plaything." He stood up and was pushed gently down a corridor by the Doctor. "There was fear, Doctor. Lots of fear."
"And tar. Don't forget the tar."
"Don't get married, Doctor," Rory advised, the day's events replaying in his exhausted mind. "Just say no."
He patted Rory's back as they rounded a corner into an elaborate bathroom. "It's that easy, yeah? Just say no?"
"Or run….sometimes you just have to run," Rory answered as he shut the door behind him.
The Doctor stood under the steady flow of the warm water. Thankfully, he had had very little skin exposed when they had been tarred and had been standing further away, so his clean up wasn't nearly as involved as the Ponds'. Which had worked out in his favor since Amy had eventually commandeered all of the soaps and cleaning agents on the TARDIS. She had left the shower multiple times to get this or that from different bathrooms, and her last trip back to the shower included most of the household cleaners, as well. There was an excellent chance that she would have neither hair nor skin when he saw her next.
They had been on a bit of a holiday before it all went to hell. The three of them had been so drained after the Silence that he thought it would be refreshing to travel for pleasure instead of business. The Ponds had been equally excited as they had spent the past couple of months before 1969 in Leadworth, watching telly and stalking him throughout history. The Sapphire Waterfalls sounded like just the holiday they needed. Despite the last frightening attempt, the Doctor was still eager to visit this wonder.
And they had actually enjoyed their first few days on Midnight, partaking in some particularly stimulating night life and relaxing in the spa during the day. But of course, as it tended to happen, happy fun times took a turn for the worse while they waited for the train to the waterfalls. Amy had offended a family of other-worldly creatures when one of them decided to claim Rory as her own. And it just turned to shit…actually tar…from there.
So, here they were. Another holiday turned disastrous and now trouble was afoot in marriage utopia aboard his TARDIS, as Amy was convinced that Rory had somehow been the cause of the tar monster's affections. She may very well be bigger on the inside, but when the marrieds were arguing, it was like being trapped inside a shoe box. A tiny blue shoe box. A box for Smurf shoes.
The Doctor opened his mouth and let it fill with water, only to let it dribble out from the sides. He had never really given marriage much thought, though he never really had to, he supposed. But he had little choice now that the Ponds were back and causing excitement at every turn. It wasn't always horrific. Sometimes he watched them out of a corner of his eye and envied their familiarity, something that neither shared with another. He'd be lying if he said that kind of intimacy didn't appeal to him, and it wasn't impossible, just implausible.
He rolled his lips between his teeth, remembering how it felt to have others pressed against them. Once he got over the shock of it, he missed it dreadfully. There was no denying that he and River shared something rather personal at some point in his future, and he was quickly beginning to understand why. Of course, he still had no idea who, or for that matter, what she was. She felt and acted extremely human, but perception filters plagued him like...well, the plague. For what he knew of what they had already shared, he was concerned about what was left to be revealed, and this hesitancy kept him from actively seeking her out.
Yet, he still anticipated their next meeting, especially since he knew how their future encounters tended to end. He smiled a goofy smile and rinsed the soap from his hair and body. Perhaps it wouldn't be unreasonable to find her somewhere. For investigation, of course. Nasty business, spoilers. He didn't care much for being kept on a need-to-know basis with River - or anyone, really - even if it was his rule. In the Doctor's world, the more he knew, the smoother the planets spun. It was his intergalactical responsibility to know everything. And River was chocked full of everything, as far as he could tell anyway.
Having made up his mind and tricked himself into tracking River down, he pulled together a fresh costume and headed towards the TARDIS control room, with a skip in his step and a plan.
Amy and Rory stepped into the hall from their bedroom and into the Doctor as he made his way down the corridor. "Hello there, Ponds!" he exclaimed, extending an arm over each of their shoulders. "Fresh smells…fresh clothes….fresh attitudes?"
"Well, the potential for homicide has passed," Amy laughed. "There was some making up and…"
"Don't need the details, Pond," he explained as he hurried towards the TARDIS console. "Just smile and do that domineering flirty thing you do, yeah?"
"What 'domineering flirty thing'?"
"Nevermind. Right then! Off we go." The Doctor ran circles around the console, flipping switching and turning dials.
"Oh no! We are deciding this one, Doctor," Amy said just before pushing up a lever.
"Amelia Pond! You flipped something!"
"No, I didn't."
"You most certainly did. I saw you!"
"No, you didn't.
"Yes! Yes, I did! What was it?" The Doctor ran erratically around the console, checking the controls. "This is not good."
"Oh, calm down. It was just the hand brake." She pointed to the lever.
"The hand brake?" He examined the console carefully. "There's a hand brake?"
"You should pay more attention to River," Amy answered smugly.
"River, schmiver…" He mumbled. Really? A hand brake?
"Anyway, we want to go somewhere happy. Not educational, not remote and unexplored, not adventurous and not even necessarily exciting. Just some good ole fashioned happiness, no strings attached," she announced, almost demanding in tone.
"We want some feel-good times," Rory added.
"Yes, Doctor, happy. You know, not sad. Or dangerous. Or sticky. Happy."
"Think...ummm... if museums gave out jammie dodgers and hats," Rory explained, recognizing that the Doctor's "happy" may be a bit different than Amy's "happy." He himself had seen the Doctor be inexplicably giddy about the opportunity to solve a dangerous puzzle.
A goofy smile spread across the Doctor's face from ear to ear. "Now, that would be rather fantastic day, indeed!"
"Yeah, that day, Doctor. That's happy. We want to go to there," Amy quickly interrupted. She outstretched her arms and placed her hands on the console. "You hear that, friend. Find us a happy place. Somewhere that oozes and stinks of feel-goodiness. No unfriendlies."
"Hey, the TARDIS takes orders from me," the Doctor chastised playfully. "I'm the Doctor."
"Well, you need to do some healing about what you just put us through," she countered. "Tar. There was lots of tar. This time, there needs to be circus-loads of smiling."
"…and candy floss…" Rory continued. "Maybe even a parade."
"Parades are fun. I like the elephants," the Doctor agreed, with a childlike twinkle in his eye. "And the girls with the batons. They throw them really high and catch them….it's magically amazing, yeah?"
"Not to mention those cozzies with the hangy-down strings that swoosh around their…."
"Focus, gentlemen!" Amy interjected. "Happy times. We're going then?"
"Yes! And we're going to let the TARDIS decide," the Doctor clapped and wiggled his fingers before releasing the hand brake, adding with a hushed murmur, "…the happiest time that also includes River…"
"Yay!" Amy twisted her hips and pumped her arms at her side in excitement.
The TARDIS jerked and spun into orbit, destination known only to her, leaving them all excited and a bit relieved that the Doctor had relinquished navigation to the ship's discretion, including the Doctor.
At least this time, if it went horribly wrong, he couldn't be blamed.