by Kass

Set during the current season, before "The Angels Take Manhattan." Thanks to Sihaya Black for beta. Written for Chanukah 5773 / 2012.

"Lots of cultures have festivals of lights, you know," the Doctor points out. The remnants of their supper are still splayed across the coffee table, though Rory's binned the empty takeaway boxes and the cans from their two beers.

"Mmm-hmm," Amy agrees, not looking up. She's trying to manage knitting more than three rows before getting hopelessly bollixed up.

"The fire-balloons of Nivek Five, for instance."

"Fire-balloons," Rory repeats, dubiously. Amy suspects he hears fire-balloons and imagines treating a planet full of first-degree burns.

"They're quite spectacular," the Doctor insists, "they burn blue, it's a simple chemical reaction though it's no fun to think of them that way, takes away all the magic, if you ask me."

Amy swallows a grin. "Hmm," she says, making her tone noncommittal.

"And the nine days of bonfires, on this charming little snowy planet on the far side of the Spider Nebula. Of course, there are giant spiders. But the fires do keep them at bay! Mostly. And they're actually quite friendly once you get to know them."

"Think we'll skip that one, thanks," Rory says, with a shudder. He sits down next to Amy, his shoulder leaning against hers companionably.

"Or maybe I'll stay here, just not now," the Doctor muses. "Good old-fashioned Victorian Christmas. Or -- that cruse of oil in the Chanukah story, you know the one? I've always suspected it must've been," he coughs, "bigger on the inside."

There's a pause. Amy counts stitches and realizes she's dropped one. She can feel Rory waiting for her to decide.

Hell with it; who is she fooling? There was never really any question about them going.

"If you want us to come with you," she says, tossing the knitting back into the basket and flashing the Doctor a smile, "all you had to do was ask."

"Well, I. Hm." There's a bit of bluster as he straightens his bow tie. "Wouldn't want to force you into anything."

"I'd hardly call it 'forcing,'" Amy begins, but he keeps talking.

"It'd be nice if you actually wanted to come."

"Oh, come off it," Amy says. "You know we do. We wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation if we didn't."

"Then why all the going-on about your new friends and the book club and the -- Thai food?" the Doctor demands, picking up a chopstick and gesturing at the remains of their takeaway.

Amy raises an eyebrow. "More fun if you stretch it out a bit before saying yes, don't you think?"

Aha, there it is: the Doctor is blushing, high spots of colour.

"You might call it foreplay," Rory adds, getting into the spirit himself, and Amy flashes him a grin.

"You two," the Doctor chides, but she sees him swallow hard. The invitation was for more than just a trip around the galaxy, then. She knew it! So much the better, then.

"Rory, do you want to get the bags?"

"Sure thing, miss," Rory says, dipping his head in a parody of courtliness, and disappears into their bedroom.

"Bags," the Doctor probes.

"We might've already had them packed," Amy admits. "Might, possibly, have been waiting all week for you to show up."

The expression on the Doctor's face is too complicated to parse all at once. Happy and sad and bittersweet and fond. "Ponds," he says simply, and rises from his seat, and offers her a hand.

The End