Characters: Rory, Eleven, Amy
Summary — After all the time he spent on the TARDIS with the Doctor, Rory thought there was nothing left to be scared of. Nothing left to have faith in. He was wrong.AN — For the wonderful and spectacular Mandy (a_phoenixdragon) whose birthday it is. Happy Birthday, darling.
I love The God Complex, it’s such a great episode to revisit. Rory’s role in it fascinates me. He is effectively faithless. How did he get to that point, and where did he go afterward? That’s what I’m trying to poke at here.
There’s a deleted scene from Cold Blood in which Rory discusses belief and faith with captive Silurian Alaya. It seems like Rory is looking for someone to bounce his new perspective off. I've spoiler-tagged it because it's long.
Rory: I brought you some food. I wasn’t sure what you ate.
Alaya: [looks at it silently in disgust]
Rory: There was a girl. Your people took her. I just want to know if she’s safe. Why are you fighting us? We’re almost the same.
Alaya: You are so much less than us.
Rory: No, come on. Look at the two of us. Our body structure’s almost identical. Even our faces are pretty similar. It’s mostly the skin that’s different. See for yourself. Touch my face.
Rory: Can I touch your face?
Rory: I want to understand you. You’re our predecessors here. You’re our history. I want to know what it feels like. I’m not gonna harm you.
[delicately, he places his fingertips on Alaya’s forehead, running them across her features. Alaya is astonished]
Rory: What do your people believe? I mean, d’you have a God?
Alaya: [laughs violently; Rory jumps back] A deity is for simple-minded apes.
Rory: I should’ve put you in a room with my dad. He’d soon put you right on that.
Alaya: We see how you live your lives, the beliefs you cling to, for comfort. And we laugh at you. Aren’t you confused now, ape? Doesn’t my existence disprove your ape religion?
Rory: People’s faiths aren’t that fragile.
Alaya: What do you believe, ape?
Rory: I never used to believe in anything except for the healing power of strong, sweet tea … But being with the Doctor, the wonders he’s shown us—it’s given me … faith … I can see why Amy kept waiting for him. Cos now I believe there are far greater things waiting in the universe than we can ever imagine.
Alaya: No. All that awaits you is death.
Rory: [defiantly] Then maybe I’ll find wonders beyond that, too.
Alaya: I pray you find out. Very soon.
The Seat of the Soul
Rory had never really believed in that stuff. Spiritual things. Religions. Gods. His thoughts sat comfortably in the realms of science and reason. He never expected it would be those familiar bedfellows that would fill his mind with something he could only compare to religious awe. He had only been travelling with the Doctor for a very short time, but already his horizons had been broadened to such a spectacular degree that it made the tiny corner of scientific fact he had once embraced as though it were the whole of creation seem like a grain of sand on an endless beach. Realising the extent of his cosmic insignificance filled him with a starry-eyed fervour he could hardly contain. The possibilities were infinite. Limitless. The Doctor showed him that.
But nothing lasts forever. The knocks came one after the other, and with each one he felt his faith wane. The spectacular heart-jamming colours faded and grew dowdier over time. He told himself it would have happened anyway, that he was just growing comfortable with that new part of himself. That being a Roman, waiting for two millennia, being forced to choose his wife over his wife, just speeded the process along.
But then there was Melody and something inside broke. The colours, so vivid for the sliver of time he had her, were suddenly and brutally torn out of his heart. Rent and shredded and lost. There was nothing after that, not even the shallow joy in discovery he had before the Doctor. Even that had been stolen when she had. He walked around hollow, a loose-limbed soulless marionette. No wonder, no awe, no faith, no fear. He used to travel with the Doctor.
He did what he could with an everyday life; he did what was traditional. Chin up. Carry on. Don’t talk about it—the Melody-shaped hole in his heart that had once borne his soul. He was so busy ignoring it all that he was caught off guard when Amy ended it. She couldn’t ignore it, the change in him. He made his hurt into resent and turned it outward. After all he did for her…
But miracles happen even if you don’t believe in them, and the hole in his heart was filled up with love. Not his, but hers. It had been there all along, if only he hadn’t been so thick. He had been focusing on the tiniest corner of something vast and incomprehensible. A single leaf in a system of endless forest planets. Love was not, as he had always felt, a thing to be directed at someone else; it was something to be shared. Hers and his intertwined in his heart and her heart. Equal and eternal. Limitless. The Doctor showed him that.