Chapter 4: You Can Be PunishedRUN!
Sarah Jane thought it, she yelled it, and she heard the others shout it at the same time. “K9, protect us!”
The deadly electricity grew around the Silents’ hands and they moved in a way that was both terrifying and graceful. Their mouths opened into wide O’s like they would inhale everyone in the garden.
“Don’t look away!” Amy shouted to everyone. “When you look away, you don’t remember them!”
K9 already had his gun out and fired on the Silents. The monster on the right aimed its hand and shot first. Sarah Jane nearly screamed at the thought of losing him again, but Jack suddenly stepped behind him. He pushed K9 aside with one foot as he took a shooter’s balanced stance. The Silent’s bolt of killing energy struck the ground and Jack fired. The shot hit the alien in the shoulder, but he never hesitated and launched another attack; this one branched out and looked even more like lightning in a macabre imitation of Zeus.
River Song appeared from nowhere and slammed into Jack with a full body block that tackled him to the ground a couple feet away from where the Silent aimed.
“Immortal!” Jack shouted and started scrambling from underneath her.
“Don’t count on it!” she shouted back. “They vaporize! There’d be nothing left of you to come back, not even dust!”
He had looked up at her and the sky when they fell. His forehead furrowed with confusion. “What’s going on?”
Sarah Jane asked herself the same thing. She saw laser blasts everywhere and didn’t know why.
River already had jerked her head over to the aliens. Jack made a guttural noise and Sarah Jane gasped when she saw them. How could they be in her garden and she not know?
River grabbed Jack’s wrist without bothering to stand. She started to hurriedly program his vortex manipulator. “Does this thing at least teleport? Never mind. If it doesn’t work now, it will after I’m done.”
“Don’t send me! Where’s yours? You gotta have one to get here!”
“Bring it back with you! We need someone who knows what they’re doing!”
“You are a fool, Melody Pond,” the Silent in the middle said in one long sibilant jeer.
“Don’t you use my daughter’s name!” Amy snarled at them.
They ignored her for River. “You attempt to save the ones who will kill you if we were to leave.”
Her fingers stilled in a hover over Jack’s wrist. Amy shouted, “No, River!”
“Amy!” Rory yelled. “You looked away!”
A Silent launched its lethal charge at them. They jumped away in opposite directions.
River screamed in fury. “LEAVE MY PARENTS ALONE!
“We cannot allow you to die from your misjudgments.”
Sarah Jane’s stomach took a sickening plummet. They couldn’t tell her what they knew about the Doctor. But River kept moving to save all of them if she could, even if it meant, in her mind, they would kill her when this was through.
“Hey,” Jack started, “I’m not -- look out!”
They landed a few feet away from each other. River dove back and did a bellyflop on the ground. She snatched his wrist and keyed the last couple commands. She put herself between the Silents and Jack like a shield, and grabbed him by the shoulders. She threw him across the garden at Rory and Amy. Sarah Jane couldn’t believe the strength it would take to do that. “Get them out of here!” she shouted at him.
His eyes shot everywhere before he gave in. “I’ll be right back!” He snatched the Ponds and slammed his hand down on the vortex manipulator. Rory and Amy hollering threats at him hung in the air with the noise of the battle raging.
Mickey and Martha had grabbed the bench and threw it at the Silents. She signaled something to Ian and Barbara.
River turned and she froze at seeing Wilf and Jo. She buried her face in her hands and cursed herself as she jerked her whole upper body in an angry shake. “I shouldn’t have done that! Sorry!” she said to them. “Instinct!”
That was when Sarah Jane knew she meant saving her parents first before someone like Wilf who was more vulnerable.
“Stop, don’t worry about us!” he told her. “We're able to handle ourselves. Turn around!”
Mickey swung a chair as Martha threw one of the small tables at the Silents in an attempt to allow Ian and Barbara a chance to get past. They swarmed over Wilf like the Royal Protection Squad around the Queen: “You’re right, we’re able to handle ourselves right out of here.” They hustled towards the house as K9 provided covering fire, always moving to avoid being a target, but their enemies’ constant attack never allowed him to move from a defense to an answering offense. A Silent’s fire hit Ian across his arm and made him shout; Wilf got a hold of him so the three of them didn’t stop.
Still so many of them left to get to safety, past the blockade the aliens formed with themselves and their attack. The garden was a good size, but not meant for combat, and the surrounding brick wall and the house made them fish in a barrel.
But fish that fought back.
River ran to Dorothy who shouted, “I should’ve known I’d need explosives at the Professor’s funeral!” She picked up another chair and got close enough, so when she threw it, one of its legs got a Silent in the eye. She grinned in victory until its arm came around, already sparking with electricity. “Oh, damn.” River got there just as she jumped.
Sarah Jane hurried to help and then just made out her mobile ringing. She ducked behind her garden swing to answer the call. A Silent shot at her and she dove to the ground behind the rubble. She blinked at the decimated garden furniture. The next shot made her look up and she screamed inside at the nightmare she saw.
“Mum! Hang on, we’re on our way!” Luke shouted into the phone.
“Don’t you dare! You’ll only give them someone else to shoot!”
Clyde must have heard her. “We can help, Sarah Jane!”
“You can help by going downstairs and give everyone who comes in whatever they need! I’ll meet you there!” She swapped the phone for her sonic lipstick. She aimed it at the Silents and activated it as one of them took a shot at Tegan. Nothing. It had no effect. She made an aggravated noise and caught River looking over, sharing her irritation that they couldn’t use the sonic. The other woman pointed at the garden’s entrance, making Sarah Jane turn. She couldn’t believe the horror attacking them.
She remembered Amy telling her not to look away and sternly told herself not to do it again. She saw Jovenka’s look and the way she kept Jo with her. Sarah Jane nodded. One of her small tables laid on its side; she grabbed it and threw it hard.
Tegan broke into a run with Jo and tried for the gate, like Ian’s group had done. But the Silents stood ready for it this time: lightning covered the opening in a pseudo force field. They made the women turn back.
Everyone kept trying: they snatched anything they could throw and ran sideways like sped up crabs to keep their eyes on the aliens. Mickey picked up a piece of her swing and started to run at them, but he barely missed being hit and his make-shift club vaporized. He nearly lost his hands all together and he yelled as they burned. Martha grabbed and pulled him after her. River showed up and put herself between the married couple and the aliens, as Martha hurriedly snatched another piece of wood, but this time flung it like a boomerang. She nearly took off a Silent’s head who barely dodged it, but at least the distraction caused it to miss hitting them. Mickey cheered and Tegan shouted she did it like an Australian. Dorothy gave her a thumbs up.
Jack came back with a sizzle. His colour was off, Sarah Jane noticed. He held another vortex manipulator in his hand and threw it to River. “Yours! It’s set up! Wait, why are we--!” He cut himself off as he turned in the direction of the attack. He yanked his gun out and laid down another covering fire as he moved. It didn’t do as much as they hoped, because too many bolts came at them, making it impossible to stay long enough in one place for accurate shooting, or even to fire so many shots the odds meant some would hit with more damage.
And the enemy learned to move faster than they had at the start.
River shook her head. Sarah Jane barely made out what she said. “They’ve gotten better.”
River’s battle plan -- for herself -- became obvious, at least. She ran in front of whoever was in the most danger at the moment. The Silents needed her alive.
They split their efforts to attack multiple targets simultaneously. One concentrated on Jack and K9; another focused on Martha and Mickey; and the third shot at Jo and Tegan. River couldn’t protect them all at once. She called instead for Dorothy to help Mickey as much as she could as she ran to Jovenka. Sarah Jane went with Jack and ordered K9 to protect Jo’s group.
Electricity crisscrossed everywhere forcing them down and River to roll to Tegan. Martha used herself as bait to draw fire away from them as well as from Mickey. He tried coming round on the side, Dorothy on line with him, but nothing could divert the aliens long enough. They got chased off, energy blasts burning the ground where they ran.
K9 took a glancing blow that would have been a direct shot if Tegan hadn’t gotten her hand over to him and shoved him just enough out of the way. River slapped the time traveling device on the closest wrist -- Jo’s, who stretched her arm out for Tegan -- and punched the button. They disappeared just in time as a bolt passed through the spot.
Dorothy took off at full speed for River who was left out in the open. Sarah Jane could see the exact moment she remembered that River wasn’t in any danger.
K9 backed up to Sarah Jane and Jack reached for her. “No!” she shouted. Her house, her garden, her guests: she wasn’t leaving them. She pointed at Mickey and Martha, and he ran to them instead. They shouted just as loudly that they were staying, but he grabbed them as he yelled, “Twenty-five in two!”
“Harkness!” River shouted. “Give me the gun!” Too late, he had already hit the control and they were gone.
Sarah Jane had looked away again and heard K9 call, “Mistress! Dangerous lifeforms have invaded the garden!”
Bless him, he didn’t forget when he turned around.
Trapping them in the garden did nothing because of the vortex manipulators, so the Silents spread out to take them on, one on one. Sarah Jane turned to keep the closest in sight. She moved one step behind her and another, and felt herself bump into Dorothy and River who were also back to back.
“Any ideas?” she asked them. She had one, besides what already had worked. The way to her house was clear again. They could get through if they found a way to keep the one Silent from firing across the gate. A sudden movement in front of her made her shout, “Down!”
Bolts from each of the aliens sliced through the air above them. They unintentionally scurried as a group with K9 holding back the Silents as much as possible.
“I have a few ideas,” River said. “McShane?”
“Don’t worry about me. Fighter and not a screamer.”
Again they moved and K9 valiantly kept up his defense. Sarah Jane heard the smirk in River’s voice. “You know how that sounds, don’t you?”
Dorothy’s answering grin could be heard too. “Now that you mention it--”
“You two have to be kidding me!”
“Sorry, I -- Sarah Jane, move!” She felt Dorothy push her so she leapt clear.
River shouted at them and they looked around. The latest enemy attack had forced them to separate themselves from her and trapped them against the house.
River yelled again at the Silents who slowly grouped together between them. “I already warned you! You’re going to start a war with his younger versions by attacking these people!”
The answering hiss
dragged fingernails down Sarah Jane’s spine. “The war has already been waged. We are its victors because of you. This is merely a battle.”
“I’ll leave!” she pleaded. “Right now and never come back around them. You can let them go!”
“You believe they will not go through with their threat to punish you? You murdered the Doctor.”
Dorothy shouted, “Don’t listen to them! We-- bloody hell!”
She and Sarah Jane dropped, but they had nowhere else to go. The sound of K9’s motors got louder, but he was still across the garden. He started firing as soon as he could.
He saw it coming too. She wouldn't be able to stop the Silent this time. “It’s okay, K9. Take care of Luke!
Dorothy snarled, “I hate them for how brilliant this was,” and braced herself.
And then: River, back in front of them. She had used the whole thing to outmaneuver the Silents and now stared them down.
“We have our limits with you, Melody Pond.”
McShane sounded disgusted as she got to her feet. “They yell at you like a kid who’s acting up.”
“No,” River answered and the sadness broke Sarah Jane’s heart. “They yell at me like a gun that jammed.”
the Silents and slammed into them. Two of them staggered and fell. The third caught himself just in time. She bashed him in the head with her fists clenched together like a hammer. He dropped hard. Sarah Jane marveled again at the sheer strength in the woman.
“McShane!” River shouted.
Dorothy had looked away and now stared at the aliens. But she already searched for something to use as a weapon, except nothing was left.
“No, you have to-- Sarah Jane!” River gestured hard before the aliens rose and threw her off.
Why? What was it about Dorothy that River was trying to say, and why not tell her directly?
Sarah Jane figured it out and shoved the younger woman with her shoulder a second before Jack came back right there. Those numbers he had called out: they were aimed at River. She had understood he changed part of the coordinates because he was changing where he’d come back. The last number told her how long he’d be away. That was why she hadn’t said anything out loud; so she wouldn’t give the Silents a chance to aim and kill him when he arrived.
River shouted, “Captain! Eyes front!”
He looked deadly pale before he even saw them, but started firing immediately to keep the monsters off them. “Your parents are screaming about you sending them out!” he called to River. “And that covers your son too, Sarah Jane!” He grabbed Dorothy and tossed the other vortex manipulator. He missed River and it dropped to the ground a foot away.
“Go!” she hollered. His jaw clenched, but he jumped back out.
That left her, Sarah Jane, and K9. They all knew it too. She and River ran to each other, the latter scooping up her vortex manipulator, with the mechanical dog between them and the enemy. But it gave the aliens one collective target again and they gave no quarter. Fire rained down heavier all around them and one hit right next to her foot. She jumped and rolled to the side. She had to stay low and even constantly moving wasn’t helping as she saw the Silents used their firepower to herd them to where they’d be hemmed in by shots and killed.
Even with that, she thought she and everyone else would make it. She didn’t know what they would do once they were all in her home, but they’d be out of here.
And the others had
to be in her house. Luke would have called back and told her if they weren’t. So she and River just had to make it to there with K9. Something had to be left for them to use. Something, anything to distract their enemy so they could break out of the garden gate.
Then each Silent raised a hand and aimed at her. The electricity crackled around their hands.
River suddenly threw her arms around Sarah Jane and pulled her in tight. Her back formed a barrier between her and that fire, and she got K9 in between their feet. “They can’t kill me.”
“But you can be punished, Melody Pond.” They shot her.
River stiffened and her head threw back, teeth clenched, and a scream forced back down her throat. Sarah Jane felt those knees tremble and the hands clenched into fists shaking from holding in the pain, but those arms didn’t drop and she refused to move away. She instead tried to get her vortex manipulator to activate, but her fingers wouldn’t work, not to even grip it, and the lightning kept coming and coming and coming
Sarah Jane tried to do it herself, but their colliding hands caused the band to drop off to the side. One of the Silents tried to hit it and kept them from grabbing it.
She realized River’s back was to them, so she wouldn’t know who hurt her. “It’s those aliens, the ones who--” Dammit, she was going to have to keep up the lie. “--killed the Doctor.” She tried lowering her voice to tell the truth, but the noise around them was too great and could River understand anything through her agony?
Jack’s shout was the only thing she heard that said he had come back. River tried to talk, but opening her mouth only let out the start of a cry. She clamped her jaw shut and weakly pushed Sarah Jane. She half-stumbled, half-ran backwards with River still as the shield so she could get away.
Jack waited there and then tried grabbing them both, but the Silents used his getting close as a way to target him. River formed the centre of the bullseye and getting near her put them at ground zero. He fired at the aliens to cover his moving and Sarah Jane tried from the opposite direction to get close to the other woman, but they couldn’t escape that concentrated attack. Worse, two Silents started sweeping their deadly energy towards each of them and they darted away completely. K9 tried leading the enemy away, as Martha had, with an attack from the brick wall, but the aliens casually flicked one hand to meet and overpower the dog’s shots, and Sarah Jane could see his power ran low. He was forced to retreat, but kept up what fight he had left in him. Jack shook his head, turned so he could keep her and their attackers in his sight lines, and held out his hand.
She didn’t want to go. Leaving the other woman to that torture went against everything she felt, but if she stayed, the disgusting truth was: the Silents still wouldn’t kill River, but they would kill she and Jack by luring them in with their attack on the poor woman. They turned punishing her into a weapon.
She and Jack had to get out of the garden to force the aliens to focus on moving after everyone else. Then maybe - no, they would
get River out of here somehow. With the group together again and not bottled in, they had to find a way. Somehow, they must
Jack ran behind her and she reluctantly took hold of his wrist, but before they could transport out, she heard someone else yell. She swung her head and couldn’t believe it.
Yes, she could. She’d do the same if Luke were here. The Ponds came back to the garden, back to their daughter, in a hard run. And Rory was armed.
Sarah Jane had killed; she once killed a family of Slitheen as they begged for their lives or for her to at least save the child. But she had stood there and watched as the explosion went off. Even though the child had ended up surviving didn’t change what she had done. So she held back her automatic response to his bringing in another gun. And remembered to look front again.
Jack swore. Now they were stuck again with more people to get out, but Rory called over to them. “Take the centre! Have the dog take the left, I got the right!”
The Silent he claimed as his greeted him. “The man who dies with this as your last battleground.” He blasted at Rory who moved away in time.
He returned fire with his white laser pistol. “No. Now I do what I thought I did on Demon’s Run. Protect my family from you.” He fired again and so did the Silent. Energy shot hit energy bolt, sparking the air.
Maybe the violence made Jack turn to her. “Sorry, but no more playing around, Sarah Jane.”
He, Rory, and K9 began the dance all over again of constantly moving while firing, at last on the offensive. Amy dodged around behind them and Jack told her to take Sarah Jane, who protested. She wasn’t leaving now. Now
the game had changed and she would find a way to be an active part of it again. The Silents were kept busy with only one shooting River, and Rory constantly made that one break off to defend itself. As Sarah Jane ran behind Jack, she heard him say, “Where did he get an Alpha Mason pistol?”, but the real tragedy that happened next made his words disappear from her mind.
The one alien used their own tactics against them. It dropped back so the other two Silents protected it. It fired on River, and River:
River at last collapsed. She slammed down on her knees, her arms flung wide, and her screams pouring out to the sky.
Sarah Jane passed Amy and called out mother to mother: “You don’t want me!”
She got no response except the other woman running by and she doubted Amy Pond had ever meant to come to her, which was exactly the way it should be. Rory shot in rapid fire speed, forcing his enemy to stop attacking again, and Sarah Jane saw Amy lift her daughter to her feet. “Told you.” She looked down into River’s face as she started dragging her out. “Not even an army can stand in the way.”
“I’m staying to help them,” Jack called out to her. “Grab my vortex--”
“I’m staying too!”
But the Silent who had tortured River wasn’t done. The other two heightened their attack to keep K9, Jack, and Rory busy. “Amelia Pond. We gave you honour once. You brought the Silence.”
She hunched her back but never stopped. Sarah Jane ran, grabbed River’s other arm, and slung it over her shoulders. She gave Amy credit for the strength it took to do the hardest thing: not answer them. Her daughter needed her, and a verbal battle, even for a moment, risked getting River to safety. She had her head tilted enough to keep the aliens in sight and kept moving.
“But you have forgotten your part is over. The woman who loses her daughter and will lose her again. She has a new purpose. She has no choice but to still serve us.”
The sound of a gun firing: the Silent suddenly jerked in the air and then collapsed from Rory’s shot to its chest.
He safeguarded his wife and daughter as they struggled out of the garden. Harkness had gotten the shoulders on his Silent and the next shot killed it. That meant only the one on the left could still fire at them. K9 hit its legs and it fell, but quickly began lifting its hand again.
“Sarah Jane, keep moving!” Jack yelled.
They had to make it to the house. She knew the Silents would follow and maybe bring in reinforcements, but they still would have the temporary safety of her home. Or Harkness could get them our using the vortex manipulators. She did wonder why he and River hadn't done that to begin with: jump them somewhere far from here.
She heard running footsteps and then shots aimed back at the garden. Rory or Jack then. She called over her shoulder, “K9, come here!”
The sound of whirring motors answered her.
Her front door stood open and they finally made it through into--
The console room made her sag with relief and her surprise at the ship being there couldn’t supersede it. The warm colours and light soothed her as much as its presence, but most of all, it meant the Doctor had come for them. He wasn’t anywhere in sight, but that didn’t matter. He would whisk them to safety in the big, blue box.
Rory gave her a gentle push and took her place at River’s side. His daughter’s feet dragged uselessly on the floor and the toes of her boots made a harsh rubbing sound. “Daddy
He made comforting shushing noises. “It’s okay, we got you. Just hold on to us.” Amy kissed the golden curls.
Luke ran over to Sarah Jane and they clutched each other tightly. “Mum. I tried to get to you!”
“I know.” She kissed his head before opening an arm to Rani and Clyde. “You helping out here was the right thing to do.”
Rani said as she stepped back, “Something weird is going on. Nobody remembers what happened. Even the ones who got hurt.”
Clyde looked over Sarah Jane’s shoulder. “What went on out there? Jack told us to remind him to reload every time he came back. Who’s he shooting at?”
“The--” She blinked. “I don’t know.”
“Mum, how can you not remember?”
Amy called over, “It’s how the Silents work. You look away and can’t remember them. We’ll explain later.”
Martha hurried from person to person, asking them if they were alright and working on the injuries. The Ponds surprised more than her by handling River as gently as they could up to the console instead of bringing her to the group for treatment. Rory swung the monitor around and ordered a body scan.
Jack ran in carrying the drained K9 and put him down to slam the doors behind them. “I locked the front door, but one’s still-- what -- who’s following us?”
Sarah Jane had made it to the others to help Martha. “We were attacked.”
“I don’t know.”
Rory dug in a drawer and came out with what must be a hypodermic. River protested, “We have to get out of here.”
“We will.” He injected it into her arm.
“I’m okay,” she insisted feebly.
“Liar.” He dropped the hypodermic on the console and pulled a small, corked test tube.
The colour suddenly drained from River’s face and her eyes took on the blank state of someone about to pass out. Amy tightened her grip.
Rory put a hand on her cheek. “River! Focus on me!”
She struggled with it, but she concentrated and then shook her head as if it would throw off what had happened to her. Sarah Jane could only remember someone had hurt the woman. “I told you I’m all right. You made it through the same thing before, at Area 52.”
“That was just my eyedrive and they didn’t hurt me as long. Stop arguing. Drink this.” He handed her the test tube and she shot down the blue liquid inside. He cupped her face in his hands. He searched her with his eyes and turned to Amy. “Got her?”
She pulled River closer so she leaned against her. “Of course. Go do your thing.”
Rory leapt the rail and landed near the group. He hurriedly started his own triage behind Martha. She glanced over. “Did the med-packs help?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she answered. Some of her hair had fallen from down around her face. “Do you have more? I was going to take people to the sickbay, but things are moved around. We’ll be fine if we have more of those kits.”
Jack nearly snapped in frustration. “Hey! How were we attacked and why can’t I remember?!”
Rory had nodded at Martha and looked back up to the console. “It’s how the Silents work.”
“Who are the Silents?”
Amy kept one arm around River’s waist, put the vortex manipulator and pistol in a compartment, and tossed two packs to Rory with the other hand. He held one out to Martha. “Here you go, two more, stocked with the best from -- well, you know.”
Sarah Jane answered Jack. “They promised to tell us later.”
Mickey looked over. “You’re confused? Somebody burned my hands and I got no idea who did it.”
Martha and Rory still focused on their work and missed this. She had smiled in thanks. “Like I said before, I’m glad you’re here, Nurse. We got minor burns and some nausea from the trips.”
“We have to go,” River announced, although Sarah Jane swore the woman was talking to herself, to the damaged body that didn’t want to move. “Now.”
More than one head swept around the room. Tegan excitedly asked the question they all wanted to know. “Where’s the Doctor?”
“Not here,” River said.
Sarah Jane’s heart plummeted into her stomach. It was more than disappointment over not seeing the Time Lord after all. Shots thudded against the doors, made all the worse because she couldn’t remember who made them. “Then how are we getting out?”
River got her feet under her. “The same way we would if he was here.” She leaned on the console hand over hand, along with Amy pressed to her side, constantly holding and moving with her. She typed at the keyboard and reached for the controls above.
Tegan’s lips parted at the sight. “You -- you’re going to fly the Tardis.”
Amy smiled. “Yeah, she is.” She kept River upright and going as fast as they could. They acted in sync; where the daughter moved, the mother did too.
Sarah Jane, Jack, Mickey, and Martha exchanged glances. They had helped pilot the ship once, but they had needed the Doctor. River was doing what they had only seen the Time Lord do: pilot the Tardis solo.
Other sounds joined the shots. Scraping, dragging sounds against the ship’s outer shell and over its top. As if someone pulled bags of sand up the walls.
Jack grabbed his gun from its holster and put a hand on the door, ready in case something came through.
Mickey pulled Martha closer. “I can’t believe we’re being attacked and we don’t know who it is.”
River shoved the monitor around and then stretched across the console. Amy hit the control she reached for.
Sarah Jane felt her chest squeeze with fear. Monsters swarmed over the Tardis outside. Skin the colour of death, dark pits that lead to pinhole eyes at the bottom, mouths opened like black holes.
Wilf said it best. “That must be what hell looks like.”
Rory caught himself drawing hash marks on his arms. “I think they finally called in reinforcements.”
Sarah Jane remembered when they sat peacefully in her garden a lifetime ago and found three lines on Amy’s arm.
The sounds grew worse and the bodies on the monitor slid like zombies over the ship’s outer shell until they filled the gaps between them with the crackle of their electricity.
Ian shook his head in disbelief. “They made a net out of themselves.”
Worse, they began to speak. Sarah Jane expected whatever they said to be for River. For some reason, she felt it always was. She got it horribly wrong.Killing her won’t bring back the Doctor.You cannot save him. He is already dead.Save yourselves by not carrying out your threat.Save yourselves as you cannot save him.Save yourselves, Companions of the Doctor.
Then, like salvation itself, River yanked down on a lever and they were gone. The storm of the Vortex was the only thing on the monitor and speakers.
She sagged against the console. “We’re clear.”
Jack fell back against the doors, Luke hugged Sarah Jane again, and in way or another, they all let out a breath of relief. Rory and Amy looked down and saw the marks on their skin. They took each other’s hand and she buried her face in River’s hair.
The monitor cleared from showing what was outside and returned to what it had displayed before.
Jo shook her head, her silver hair dancing around her face. “Wasn’t something just on the monitor?”
Sarah Jane answered, “I don’t know. But I think I’m glad it’s gone.”
Wilf looked up at River and smiled. “We’re lucky he taught you to fly the ship. I don’t how we’d get out with just those armbands.”
Amy’s smile was covered mostly by gold curls. “He didn’t teach her. And that’s a good thing.”
Rory still had his forehead pressed against where he held his wife’s hand on the railing. “It’s how we get to things on time and the right place.”
Tegan scoffed at herself. “I should have known it wasn’t him. He didn’t teach anyone to fly the Tardis, not even Nyssa. Just a few controls to monitor things.”
Dorothy asked, “Then who did teach you? Did you find another Time Lord?”
“Better,” Amy answered again. She pulled back and grinned at River. “Let’s just say, she had lessons from the very best.”
Her daughter managed to lift her head at that. “Oo, I like that. Doctor Jones, do you still need the sickbay?”
“Ah...” Martha had to pull her mind back. Sarah Jane knew just how she felt. “I still think we’ll be fine. I’ll let you know. We could use some chairs.”
Clyde offered hurriedly, “We’ll get them.” Luke and Rani nodded. “Anyone know where we can find some?”
No one had to do anything though. The chairs came out of the floor from hatches that formed after Martha’s words. She looked up to the console. “Uh... thanks.”
Jo pulled out two small bottles from her bag. "Lavender oil. Wonderful for burns. I got them in Saint Emilion near Libourne. It's in the Aquitaine Gironde region. A Frenchman discovered its healing properties, so I went to the home source. They're yours if you want."
Mickey tried to help his wife, the woman with a medical degree in 21st Century science, and experience in a lot more. "That’s nice, but--"
"Yeah," Martha cut in, "she's right actually. Thank you." She took one of the bottles and pointed with her chin. "Could you keep that one and help Ian?” She had already applied something else on her husband’s injuries. She started using this too. “This keeps you from getting scars. It’ll keep the pain away too after the other ointment wears off.”
Jo hustled to do as she was asked, but when she got to Ian, she pressed the bottle into Barbara's hands instead. She reached back to see what else she could do. Dorothy shook her head, signaling she was fine, and Wilf sat down just for the sake of sitting down as the adrenaline drained off.
Rory held an open med-pack at Martha. “I’m taking these to Jack.”
She glanced quickly and nodded in agreement. “He needs them. He had to do all the trips back and forth."
Rory hurried over and handed Jack two red pills. “Anti-nausea. They’re chewables, but I can get you some water.”
“Nah, it’s okay.” Jack crunched them and patted Rory’s shoulder in thanks.
Clyde asked him, “Is that why you didn’t transport the last time? You were getting sick?” He held up his hands at Jack’s stare. “Hey, no judgement here. I transported once. It made me nearly sick on the floor.”
Jack chuckled and called out to everyone in general, “Isn’t anybody going to kiss me and make me feel better?”
Mickey yelled back, “Kiss the dog.”
“Negative.” The sound warbled from K9 being so weak. “I am not engaging in such activities.”
Sarah Jane bent down to take hold of him. "K9!"
“Power exhausted, Mistress. This unit requires recharging--” he wound down.
She spun to see what River meant. The other woman pointed weakly down to a spot on the glass floor and flipped a few things on the console. A small door popped open where Sarah Jane made out a power cord and a port. “He'll recharge faster, instead of him doing it alone.”
She hurriedly plugged him and put an arm around his neck. Luke dashed over and sat at his other side. “Mum, he’s damaged. Was he shot?”
“He’ll be fine,” she reassured him. “I’m sure there’s something on the Tardis to repair him. Isn’t that right, River?”
“Of course, he’s K9. The Doctor has a reserved area for him in the workshop. Anything he needs is there. The Tardis needs work on her outer shell too.” She put a hand up to the time rotor and simply stood like that for a beat. “But everyone else is alright, then?”
Martha’s eyes swept across them all and she nodded. “Although I wanted to ask you. Why did you have the Doctor’s internal scan on the monitor? It’s back up there now. Hold on.” She squinted. “Is that for--”
River nearly fell as she grabbed at it. She smacked a control and the screen went blank. “Just an old scan... after he died. I.. I needed to confirm he was dead.”
Amy frowned, so did everyone else because of what they knew, but they didn’t get a chance to say so. River leaned heavily on the console as she looked around at each of them. She suddenly stiff-armed her mother and turned to clutch the railing. Still, she stood straighter than she had as the shot Rory had given her took greater effect.
She walked down the steps. “We’re in the Vortex. The Tardis has moved the sickbay and workshop to right outside the control room.”
Her head turned heavily to her mother and then her father before she faced Jack at the doors. He scrambled to his feet.
Amy said, “River?”
She came up to Harkness. “You don’t have to worry about anyone. The Tardis is programmed to get all of you home. Everyone will land shortly after they left, except for Sarah Jane.”
Amy started coming after her. “River, what are you doing?”
“What needs to be done. Sarah Jane, it’ll be tomorrow when you return, so you’re nowhere around the Silents when you go back. They won’t stay with us already gone, but it’s an added layer of safety. I know I can count on you when it comes to protecting people’s lives.”
McShane frowned. “What’s all this about?”
“We were making a point before they showed up back there.” She returned to Jack. “I was telling you, you’re looking for the Doctor’s killer.”
Her hand shot out. She was still recovering, but surprise beat out Jack stopping her from getting his gun. She cocked it and put it to her chest. “That’s me.”
Chapter notes: The line about Dorothy "Ace" McShane being "fighter and not a screamer" is a quote from "Doctor Who: How Ace Set the Template for Modern Companions" by Andrew Younger. Written: 5 Jan, 2015
I originally thought the story would be done in 4 chapters, this is one was too long, so we have at least one more. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with the story!
Read Chapter 1
, Chapter 2
, Chapter 3
, and Chapter 4
Summary: Anthony Williams was on the plane to meet his grandparents in Leadworth at last. He reads his parents’ letters over again and thinks about what it will be like to see Brian and the Ponds. But he can’t help noticing a vivacious woman with a great head of curls on his flight and he realizes she reminds him of Amy and Rory.
Notes: "PS" may not be canon since it was never shown onscreen, but Steven Moffat did approve of it, so this shows the consequences of it. Seriously, Chris Chibnall, how could you?
Ugh, this hurts.
Anthony already wished he had brought a book. He needed something to do besides stare at the seat in front of him. Seven hours wasn’t horrible, he was lucky he had a straight through flight, but he had nothing to do but think about Brian Williams and Augustus and Tabitha Pond. That made it hard to sit still. He wanted to be walking up to their front doors right now.
A woman with mousy hair had the seat in the middle next to him. Everything about her was like that. She flipped through the in-flight magazine through a set of amazingly thick glasses and gave him only a cursory smile as he sat down. Another woman sat by the window wrapped in layers as if it was the dead of winter. She said nothing at all.
On the other hand, he saw a woman with a really impressive head of blonde curly hair three rows ahead in the seat diagonal to him. Through the flight, he tried to listen in on her conversation. She regaled people with stories of her travels, but he still couldn’t hear more than a word or two even though she held court with the seats around her. She didn’t speak loudly, she wasn’t obnoxious, and the only time he heard her clearly was when she gave a throaty laugh to the woman next to her who was clearly flirting. Even with that laugh and her flirting back, she gave off an air of Spoken for, but you’re sweet for trying.
Not that he was interested. He wasn’t attracted; he was fascinated. He thought he caught her looking back towards him once or twice and he hoped she’d come back to talk to him. He’d like to hear those stories.
His mother was once a travel writer. He imagined how much she’d like this woman. After all, Amy Pond met many historical figures and traveled everywhere herself, let alone everywhen as she put it. She knew what was under Stonehenge. He was sure the vivacious traveler a few rows ahead couldn’t boast about that.
Thinking about Amy brought back the old pain. Someone who hadn’t lost a parent, let alone both, couldn’t understand how a grown child still hurt from that. Only somebody like him knew the feeling of There’s nobody back there now to catch me or how the pain lasted for years, maybe forever. He had read a quote from Maya Angelou at Amy’s funeral: “I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.”
He should have brought his mother’s books in his carry on instead of packing them in his suitcase. He could quote them word for word now, but he still loved reading them again and again. Each one was so different: Melody Malone and her second adventure, Angel’s Kiss. He pictured the books in his head including the cover art that made his mother look off into the distance when she looked at it. He never understood why she used it if it made her react that way. It had been her publication company after all; she didn’t insist on any particular artwork for the others.
And her original Pond River publishing house that produced both Melody Malone novels; why, he asked her, had she changed her company to Williams Centurion Press after he was adopted and by the time Summer Falls came out? He knew why the Centurion and Pond, but he asked his mother about why River? She got quiet and then said it was a play on Pond that once was used during her time with the Doctor. He got nothing else about that, not even the story on when she used the pseudonym. Rory told him to let it go and his tone allowed for nothing further.
They came around with the drink cart and he hurriedly pulled in his legs so it didn’t bang his knees. The woman by the window ordered coffee; he began worrying she suffered from hypothermia. His direct neighbor ordered a club soda and turned down the pretzels. He took them because munching on them gave him something to do and he asked for a vodka tonic. The woman up ahead ordered something called “Between The Sheets” that he had never heard of before.
He should attempt to make some conversation with his neighbor. “Are you going to England on business or vacation?”
She didn’t look up. “Business. I hope to be home tomorrow night.”
She didn’t ask him, but he tried anyway. “I’m going to see family.”
She answered in her flat Midwest accent, “That’s nice.”
It was more than nice. He reached into his coat pocket and touched the letters to his grandparents. His grandparents. He would finally meet them. He was a little nervous which was natural, but he knew they understood about the Doctor and how odd things were with time travel. They’d understand a grandchild that was older than them... but he still was the one who had to tell them about New York and his parents never coming home. He was the closest one to what had happened. He hadn’t lived that, he couldn’t tell them anything firsthand. But only the Doctor had been there, Amy and Rory had said, and they doubted he had gone to tell their parents. So that left only him, their “timey wimey” child.
A man behind had stood and reached into the overhead compartment. Anthony ducked to make sure he wasn’t hit in the head by the man’s bag.
“I almost didn’t make it,” he said in another try to be friendly with his neighbor. “My passport and all the other paperwork just kept getting snarled up in red tape. It looked like it’d never happen and then suddenly it got cleared.” He smiled. “I must have an angel watching over me.”
There! The woman up ahead did it again! She looked back suddenly on “angel”. But what were the odds she would know anything about Weeping Angels and the creature who had given him the greatest gift of his life, his adoption?
His neighbor looked up and told him how nice things had worked out, but that was the last thing they said to each other. He leaned past her to see if the passenger at the window wanted to talk, but she ignored him. He kept the sigh to himself. Conversation would have been nice to pass the time.
He glanced ahead and thought about going up to the woman with all the curls. He could talk about his mom and dad and their travels.
But he wasn’t like his parents. He wasn’t putting himself down; he was a good, solid man, but he didn’t have that Williams spirit that Amy and Rory had. People noticed when they came in the room, even his dad who insisted he wasn’t like that. People were drawn to them. They wanted a good story or they needed advice, they went to Rory and Amy. His parents walked into a place and things brightened just by them being there.
Anthony blended in, he didn’t stand out. Maybe that was why he hadn’t married. Not because he preferred men in a time when being gay wasn't accepted. He had met wonderful people, including ones his parents approved of. But he wanted someone like his mother, but never met them. He wasn’t his father either that could keep such a person
His dad once said Amy had needed a friend to point him out as the perfect choice, not that Anthony had missed his match, he added. His son asked if he would meet that friend when he finally got to go to Leadworth, but they went quiet again and finally said she had been wild and was killed in a car accident.
He always hoped his parents would live to come with him on this trip. He never imagined he’d be taking it alone.
He shook off the gloom. His grandparents waited for him and he’d finally see everyone and everything he grew up hearing about.
He got out his wallet and looked at the family photos. He was old school and still carried printed pictures instead of scanning them to carry in his phone. He pushed his seat back and dreamed of happy times.
The plane landed smoothly and he saw his suitcase immediately at the baggage claim. He grabbed its handle and bumped into someone who was reaching for theirs at the same time. It was the woman with the wild hair from his flight.
She laughed. “I look like I’m following you.”
He had at last found someone friendly. “Now why would you do that?”
She tilted her head to the side and gave him a searching look. “You remind me of someone.”
She shook her head and she sounded a little sad. “Someone I only heard about.”
She seemed okay with his tagging along, at least for awhile as they both headed outside the airport. “I know what you mean. About someone you only heard about.”
“Oh? Is that why you’re here? I noticed the American accident. New York, right?”
“Right. I’m here to see my family.” They don’t know it yet.
She gave a private smile. “Family’s important.”
“Are you visiting family too? Or off to see something like Stonehenge or the Roman Baths? I heard you say you travel a lot.”
She grinned. “Who’s following who?” The grin faded. “Not family, I only had my parents and they’re gone.” He made sympathetic noises and told her he understood. “And as for Stonehenge, been there, done that.”
He again thought that she had no idea what lay underneath and smiled over his mother and two thousand year old father. She took his smile for liking her joke, which he had in a different way, and her grin came back.
He had to know. “I said something about angels and you looked back. Did -- did the angels mean something to you?”
“Angels?” She frowned. “I don’t remember anything like that. I did look back because the man behind you was going into the overhead where I had stored things. I didn’t want him banging around in there.”
He remembered that happening around the same time. He knew she couldn’t have understood what he meant.
To prove it, she asked, “You’re a big believer in angels?”
He smiled. “I was talking about the statues you see in architecture.”
“Ah, you’re an architect?”
He shook his head. “Accountant. Retired now. Do you still work?”
“Who said I worked? I could be living off some inheritance and seeing what trouble I can find in the world.”
He let out a big breath and sagged. “You make me feel suddenly old.”
She winked. “Don’t. I’m older than I look. I probably have you beat.”
She could be hundreds of years in age, Anthony decided, and it wouldn’t matter. People like her never got truly old.
“So what do you do?” he asked.
“Just like I said. I’m living off my inheritance and seeing what trouble I can find in the world. Money went from the great-grandparents all the way down to me.”
“And who’s after you? Kids? Nephews, nieces?”
Her eyes danced with wickedness. “Nobody, so I get to spend it all.”
She flagged down a taxi for him because naturally none of the cabbies noticed him. He was a New Yorker though. He’d have gotten the job done, but he didn’t need to. She, of course, stood out and barely had to gesture to pull up not one, but two cabs. He suddenly realized why she fascinated him. People noticed her like they had with Amy and Rory. She reminded him of his mother and father, the way she told her stories and the way she had talked quietly with him about being here for his family.
He gave himself a mental shake. He had his parents on the brain. She was a wonderful, exciting person, but he saw things there because he wanted to see them as he headed for his grandparents. She was a casual encounter with a pleasant stranger where people spent a few minutes talking before they went on their way.
He turned to look out the back window and waved. She waved back and got into her own waiting taxi.
He sat back in his seat. Time for Brian, Augustus, and Tabitha to meet their grandchild.
The woman who had sat next to Anthony Williams on the plane watched from baggage claim as he met the other passenger and struck up a conversation.
A voice came from behind her. “I hate your hair. It’s all-- bleah.”
River managed a small smile even with the mood that pulled her down. “Of course you do.”
The Doctor walked up to stand with her as she watched Anthony. Her brother. She had a brother.
She could feel him working up to a boil. “You should tell him, River.”
“No, I shouldn’t and I can’t. We both know his letters say nothing about me. He knows nothing about me. That’s already happened for us. I can’t change it”
A very angry old man shone through the Doctor’s eyes. “It doesn’t mean they can’t find out at all.”
She spun on him. “I’m not doing that. End of discussion.”
Anthony and the woman started walking away, still deep in conversation. She followed, keeping a distance, so he didn’t see her and wondered why the person from the plane stalked him.
“She looks like you.”
“It’s just the hair. I’m not the only one who has it.”
He leaned down. “But what if he thinks it’s you? What if Amy and Rory did say something and he’s looking for you?!”
She pushed back. “We know that’s not true. He doesn’t even know who Mels Zucker is, let alone Melody--”
“His sister Melody!”
She held back the tears. “... he doesn’t know she exists.”
“Then why dress like this? Why hide you from him?”
“I didn’t know if he knew River Song,” she answered. “And if he did, what it was he knew, if they said they had a friend with that name. I gave myself a buffer in case he didn’t.”
“And how do you know he’s never heard of River Song?”
“Because he hasn’t said anything to her about whether she’s that woman, Doctor. When I saw her getting on the plane, I knew it was the perfect way to find out what he knew without exposing myself, in case he hadn’t heard about River. Which he hasn’t.”
“I hate this, River. It’s not fair.”
“No one said it was, Sweetie.”
The Doctor became one taut muscle with his hands fisted in his pockets. His anger reached its breaking limits and he snapped, “I’m telling him,” and he launched himself after the man.
River got immediately into his path. “What are you going to tell him? That--”
“That he has a sister named Melody and she’s amazing and her parents loved her!”
She couldn’t sound more broken. The pain she held from the cemetery in Manhattan when she had to say goodbye to her mother forever, and had no final moment with her father at all, pushed through the cracks. She contained it as much as she could. “That stopped being true a long time ago, Doctor.”
He stared at her and then violently shook his head. “No! No, that’s not -- I’m telling him, River!”
“What? That the parents he adores kept the fact they had a daughter from everyone, including from their own son? He made them happy, they loved him. Leave that alone.”
“They loved you too. They did.”
“And those years, you know what they meant. But my time ended for whatever reason and his began. It’s still going on. Think of how we would ruin it if we told him. What does that make them look like?! I don’t know why they did it, but it’s their choice. I won’t do that, you know I never would.”
She swallowed and looked away. “Did it ever occur to you that they resented me again because they couldn’t have another child? That they loved Anthony, but wished they could have had another baby too? If it wasn’t for me--”
“If it wasn’t for the Silence and Demon’s Run!”
She squeezed her eyes tight before turning so he could see her. “Same thing.”
He grabbed her shoulders. “No, River, it’s not. If anything, it’s me--”
She put her fingers to his lips. “Stop. We’re not doing that either.”
She looked over her shoulder. Anthony was about to leave the airport. She turned back. “He would like to meet you. Go catch up to him. It would mean the world to him, Sweetie.”
“Forget him. I have nothing to say to him except about you.”
She put her hands to his cheeks. “Don’t do that. Don’t hold anything against him. Or anything against them.” She drew his head closer. “You’re the Doctor he’s heard about his whole life. Go and tell him. He’s a time to Amy and Rory. He’s the last thing they can give you and you to him. He must have a thousand questions for you.”
He pulled off the square framed glasses that were just clear lenses. He then took her hands in his and folded them between their chests. “River Song, Melody Pond, I have the only Williams child I need to talk to.”
She worked against the lump in her throat. “You’re making a mistake, my love.”
“It’s not the first time. You can’t change my mind, River.”
The woman with Anthony got him a taxi and made sure he got in it okay. River was glad. She had to save Anthony a few times already. He was nearly mugged on his way to the airport, which she took care of quietly before he was hurt or saw her, and he wouldn’t be on the plane at all if she hadn’t taken care of the bureaucracy that kept his papers from going through.
He was her brother. She’d do what she could for him. He’d be okay now. She had already seen him in Leadworth before traveling back through his timeline until the cutoff in 2012.
She pulled the Doctor’s arm around her shoulders like a warm blanket. “Where’s the Tardis?”
“Not far.” He tugged her away through the now empty baggage claim. They had gone a few steps when he pressed a kiss on the top of her head. “You’ll fix your hair?”
She smiled as quietly as he spoke. “Yes, I will.”
He pushed open the door and stood aside so she could go in first. She went by, but he spoke suddenly and it stopped her. “River, the Tardis and I -- we’re not grandparents and we’re not a brother. We can’t--”
She laid a hand on his chest. “Hush.”
He followed her inside and closed the door. They dematerialized a minute later.
Summary: Amy’s perfume company created a new fragrance and the Doctor couldn’t miss the mane of golden curls in the ad. The woman they belonged to is gorgeous, bold, his. Actually, he belonged to her, the one everyone in the shop either wants to be or to be with.
Note: Thank you to Starjargon for the beta! I made a few changes afterwards, so any mistakes are not her fault. :)
The Doctor landed the Tardis outside the shop where he had worked while fixing the Cyberman problem with Craig Owens. He needed new bowties and getting them here had added benefits. He came a bit in the future so he wouldn’t cross his timeline, but he hoped he might also catch Craig and Sophie shopping. If nothing else, he remembered from his time here that the store had a really good selection. Inferior robot dogs though. No offense to Yappy but he was no K9.
That was when he saw it. The banner hung just where Amy’s Petrichor advertisement had been.
Amazon. For the woman who shows no mercy. River looked out with a peek of a modern robe influenced by ancient Greece, clasped on one shoulder, and maybe a chest plate? She had grown her hair too, and he loved it when she wore it this long. Elegance with wildness, everything an Amazon should be. Her look smoldered and dared someone to take her on.
A crowd swarmed around a new counter that hadn’t been there when he had worked in the toy department. Smaller versions of River’s ad were strategically placed to draw the eye. Music sounded through speakers and rose in a swell that pulled even him away from looking at River. He understood why they added this counter for Amy’s perfumes.
Large TV screens dominated the walls forming the corner behind the display. Two women in silhouette walked towards the camera. No one could mistake the figure on the left as anyone but River, not with that hair, and he knew from experience the other woman was Amy. Their walks spoke of a woman’s commanding presence, all feminine with a sway in the hips and all strength with strides that owned the ground they walked on.
They moved in slow motion and though the Doctor appreciated the cuts to women of all walks of life who had an Amazon in their hearts, he honestly had eyes only for one woman in the video.
The Doctor could see how River moved like her mother because of that unmistakable, glorious Pond in them, yet River had her own inherent strut, too. That was how it should be. He still thought the crowd had to be blind not to see they were related, but he guessed he couldn’t blame normal, linear people for not thinking timey-wimey. He conveniently ignored the fact he hadn’t guessed they were mother and daughter either until River pointed out the obvious.
He imagined them filming this commercial with Amy turning to her daughter to override the director and saying, “Just walk, River. You don’t need to act,” and fitted her words to actions by doing the same thing. Like anyone had to tell River how to be herself, but he pictured that grin aimed at her mother for being so mum about it and for knowing her so well. Amy would have checked River’s outfit, tweaking here and there, and smoothing the suit across the shoulders and down the arms. She had picked up the maternal habit and River gloried in it. He just knew she had suggested Amy be in the video with her; being solo in the print ads was one thing, but she’d never miss the chance to walk by her mother’s side. Amy, of course, would jump at the idea and give a grinning, “Let’s do this!”
They came into the light with no smiles but matching looks that dared anyone to just try it. The Doctor mentally added points to Rory for being the one who had taken Amy’s dare -- with a little push from his best mate and as yet unknown daughter. The Doctor deducted two points for that necessary push. Fair was fair.
They moved in real time once they were no longer in silhouette. Amy was dressed in her black suit and River wore an identical jacket but with a skirt, and -- Oh Rassilon, their shoes! Although, truthfully, he only noticed River’s, but he was sure Amy’s were nice too. It was Rory’s job to notice hers.
As they reached the end of their walk, they turned to each other while still looking at the camera. The Amazon logo came up between them and repeated the tagline, For the woman who shows no mercy. Another line was added: You’re lucky if she chooses you.
The crowd ate it up. Hands reached for the bottles and women teased their men, “So what do you think? Are you man enough for me?”
Petrichor with its classic ad of Amy and the tagline For the girl who's tired of waiting stood on some shelves and so did its successor, Pandorica: For the woman worth waiting two thousand years for. Women taunted their wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends: “You’d wait two thousand years for me.”
Some agreed wholeheartedly; others joked, “Maybe five hundred years, but I might get bored after that.”
Every age reached for the newest perfume. He heard women who were -- as River put it -- “all sort of mature” -- discussing how glad they were for a fragrance that included them. They were not “For the girl who” anything, no offense to Amy Pond, especially as she didn’t aim Amazon solely for the thirty and under crowd. It belonged to everyone, from Amy to River, especially River whose face claimed the product for her assumed age group.
Women picked up the bottles and he saw two expressions. Some smiled with the knowledge that they were the hell in high heels women who grabbed life under their own agency, and others, including the twenty year olds, wanted to be River.
He had seen a little girl ask for Amy’s autograph when he first saw Petrichor. He bet they would ask River too because Melody Pond was a superhero.
He heard a woman inquire, “The one who owns the company, that’s Amy Pond, right? Who’s the other woman?”
“Wait a moment.” The clerk reached for what must be marketing material. “It says here... ah, Melody Lake.”
The Doctor’s grin carried nearly ear to ear -- River being both up front about her real name that linked her to her mother, but also secreting it away for the only people she let use it: her parents and him.
People came up and asked what they had missed. The Doctor heard the clerks say the video repeated every fifteen minutes and he seriously considered staying around to see it again. Then he decided Nah, he would just have the Tardis download it.
Men bought the perfume too, for the women in their lives or maybe for themselves. The only people the Doctor saw refuse to buy it were fathers of young teens, because what dad wanted to think of his underage daughter as a woman who shows no mercy?
He got into the queue and bought a bottle of Amazon. The woman behind the counter shrieked when a couple pieces of his money ran like beetles across the glass before he hurriedly put them back in his pocket and switched them for pound notes. He hadn’t made that mistake since his seventh incarnation. Still, he still thought the clerk overreacted; Ace hadn’t gotten that worked up when it happened in front of her.
He got out of the crowd and fumbled in his pockets until he found a pen. He wrote “Don’t I know it” under the line, For the woman who shows no mercy. He circled where it said you’re lucky if she chooses you on the back of the box and added an arrow to where he wrote, “Me.”
He would put it on display in the Tardis so River would be sure to see it; the Old Girl would know to hide it from versions who hadn’t modeled for the advertisements yet. He pictured her reactions: a laugh where she threw her head back; a smirk at the Me and a teasing, “Are you so sure, Sweetie?”; a sultry look with a fingernail stroking the Don’t I know it and a throaty, “Want to show me how well you do?”
Any of those would be good. All of them-- he swallowed even as the ancient man inside him made a primal noise. He would make that utterly male growl out loud when she was there to hear it.
That reminded him: new bowtie. Something for River to undo after she put the perfume down and pressed close against him. No, after he moved to her and waited for the signal that his note “Me” was true.
He caught men and women glancing at River in her ads, imagining they could be the one to take on her dare. Not you, he bragged to himself. The atavistic feeling and the power of a Time Lord showed in his stance as he strode to the men’s department.
Chapter 3: Silence Will FallThe Doctor is alive. You can’t let on.
Incredulous stares instantly turned back to their previous sad expressions in case someone was watching. Even so, Jack needed to point out: “How do we know it’s true?”
Amy shot back, “Did you just call us liars?!”
Sarah Jane nearly yelled, “Jack, Amy! Please, stop!” The other two kept their gazes locked on each other, but they ceased talking. She glanced down at Amy and Rory’s arms; she wasn’t exactly sure why they had circled before with pens at the ready, but apparently no marks meant they had some safety. She didn't know if she should, but kept her faith in their experience. “Jack, the Tardis told Melody Pond what to say to me so I’d know it was true.” She took in everyone in the garden. “The Tardis
did that. Why would she for the person who killed the Doctor? How would Melody Pond even get onboard? The Tardis would shut down and no one,” indicating Amy and Rory, “including the people traveling with him last, could do anything with her, let alone make her talk to the Doctor’s murderer.”
One head turned to another, and then either quietly thought about that or started to say something, but then didn’t. One by one, they nodded until everyone turned to Dorothy and Jack. She took a few minutes before giving a strong nod too. Jack took another moment until, finally, the hard lines running down his body eased.
Sarah Jane relaxed. It was over at last. “Good.”
Barbara broke the quiet. “I admit that I still don’t understand everything.”
Sarah Jane gave a small smile back. “Oh, I’m sure we all have questions.”
“Um, yeah.” Rory reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a black vortex manipulator. “River’s. A middle version. She said you might want to see her, Miss Smith. She programmed in the coordinates.”
Jack grew pale and Sarah Jane thought they had already lost the fragile peace they had just made. She didn’t have to worry. “Wait, River? You said she time traveled -- River Song? You know River Song
Rory sighed. “Why? What has she done now?” Amy punched him on the arm and he realised his mistake. “Sorry. It’s a habit. And you know it’s true,” he insisted quietly to his wife.
Jo’s smile was as bright as when Sarah Jane had first hinted the Doctor was alive. “Oh, I know people like that, including me.”
Amy looked back at Harkness. She didn’t seem happy about revealing the next part, but she did it anyway for some reason she didn’t explain. “Take the name and think about it.” She used her hands to suggest a reverse flip and his eyes went wide.
“River Song is your daughter.” He said it in a whisper. “She’s Melody Pond.”
“Middle version?” Dorothy asked, going back to what Rory had said. She clearly didn’t know the importance of the River Song pseudonym anymore than Sarah Jane, so she returned to the thing that seemed more important, at least in terms of erasing some confusion.
“Time travel again,” Amy answered. “She’s actually not a middle version, just six years older than the River you saw in the park, Miss Smith. The coordinates will take you to the younger River. You have to leave the vortex manipulator with her. It’s how she gets this one.”
Tegan Jovanka looked around. “I think I get it. Not so sure, though.”
“She comes home from different points of her timeline,” Rory explained.
Amy stared at her for missing the obvious. “To see us. We’re her mum
Jo clapped her hands in excitement. “That’s brilliant! Imagine being able to see my mother and father at any age before I was born. Or at any point of my age now! I’d have so much to ask them!”
Sarah Jane thought about the time a few years ago when she had finally been able to meet her own parents, right before they had so bravely sacrificed themselves to save the world. How it had meant everything to hear how proud they were of her. She knew why Jo said what she did and she absolutely understood the Ponds.
Ian turned to Barbara. “Imagine being able to see Susan again. And our cranky Doctor.”
She smiled brightly. “We could even see her after she got married. We’ve always wanted to know how she did. She left in a ghastly time.”
“Please, I don’t understand,” Wilf said. It turned out he meant something other than River’s different ages. “Your daughter is in prison for the rest of her life. To protect the Doctor?”
Amy’s expression turned hard and she bit it out. “Yes.”
Martha asked, “Then how-- sorry, but how does she visit you if she’s in prison?”
Rory now shrugged. “She does that. Escapes, goes back.” He seemed to not see the incredulous looks around him. “She has to, go back I mean. She promised to keep the Doctor safe and Stormcage is part of it.”
“She gets it from him." Amy jerked her head at her husband. “It’s the kind of thing he’s done.”
Harkness mouthed, ‘Stormcage’. He seemed to know what that meant and it looked like he was the only one. Sarah Jane certainly didn't. But he loosened up more at the thought of River Song escaping what must the prison’s name whenever she liked. He even smiled a bit and Sarah Jane breathed a sigh of relief. He looked pointedly down at Amy’s unmarked arm before daring to ask, “Has the Doctor talked to you since?”
Rory shook his head. “No one has seen him, not that we know of, anyway. Well, except River. He doesn’t know she told us either. You know -- about everything. We had to convince one of her younger versions that it was okay.”
‘Or she might never have come to see me,’ Sarah Jane thought.
A lot of hope slipped away around the circle as they dealt with the fact they may never see the Doctor again. They felt the absolute relief that he was alive, but in the past, when it could've been the last time he’d ever appear on their doorsteps, a tiny voice still whispered that he might, just might, show up one more time. But not when he had to pretend to be dead.
Jack thought about it quietly and then raised his head. “Let me make up for what I said. Let me go see her.”
Amy scowled. “Not you. She said Miss Smith. You’re not going anywhere near her.”
“Please, call me Sarah Jane. Maybe it would be better,” Smith interceded, “if Melody--”
“River,” Amy corrected. “We use Melody. And the Doctor. She made the name hers again, but only for herself and us.”He became one of only three people you let call you Sarah
. She remembered the sadness when Melody Pond had said everyone would know her name. She knew they would use it the way it had been corrupted. Only Amy, Rory, and the Doctor would say it the way it was meant to be. “Of course. Melody should be for you. I was saying, River seemed willing to talk to us, so maybe she could come here. That way, we all get a chance to see her.”
“Sorry, still not comfortable with it,” Rory said. Steel rose again behind the quiet man’s eyes. Maybe Jack saw it or maybe he understood being a father himself. Perhaps he just went along with it to stop the fighting.
“I don’t blame you,” he said.
Wilf walked over to her and reached out to Amy. She weighed the gesture and let him touch her arm. “Please,” he begged quietly. “I’d like to thank her.”
Dorothy McShane came up to his side. “We gave you a hard time, but switch places with us. Would you be any different? But we understand now and we’d like to tell her so.”
Amy’s firm expression stayed set as Rory took a beat before leaning over to whisper in her ear. She moved a step away from Wilf to better focus on her husband. Her head swung over to him when he stopped talking and they shared something quietly between them. He nodded first, just one quick bob of his head, and then she answered with a small nod too.
“I’m going.” Rory began to strap the black device on his wrist. “I’ll tell River what you said and we’ll leave it up to her.”
Tegan spoke up. “Could you tell her that the Doctor has friends here? So does she.”
“Wait one moment,” Sarah Jane added and went into her house while the Ponds digested what Tegan had said. She hastily called Luke for information from Mr. Smith and scrawled a few lines onto a piece of paper. She came back with an envelope and heard Mickey teasing Martha. “Mum fight: yours, Jackie Tyler, and Amy Pond. Who do you think wins?” His wife grinned and nudged him. Good man Mickey, easing the tension like that.
Sarah Jane handed the envelope to Rory. “It’s everything she’ll need. I put the coordinates to my office in there, in case she wants to be sure no one sees her, and I added a note from me asking her to come here. I hope you don’t mind.”
Rory slipped the envelope inside his jacket. His wife gave him a small shove. “Go see your daughter, Centurion.”
He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and hit the button on the vortex manipulator.
An awkward silence fell over the garden. Amy sat next to where she had been standing. Jack nearly took the place next to her and thought better of it after everything that had happened.
They had put a gap between them and the Ponds. A physical gap and one made up of their attitudes. Amy and Rory were Melody’s parents. No one forgot they were also the Doctor’s current companions, but their mindset and actions focused only on the Ponds’ daughter and Amy had naturally stood on the other side of the line drawn in the sand. Now they measured the divide they, including Amy, had created.
That didn’t stop Jo. She went over and took the empty seat. “I’m sorry for what you had to go through. If I had been there and if it was my daughter -- I’m not going to insult you by saying I know just how you’re feeling.”
Amy said, “Thanks,” and meant it.
Sarah Jane spoke, breaking the quiet that followed Jo and Amy: “It’s still sinking in. The universe without the Doctor. No more, ‘Hello, Sarah.’”
Amy looked into her own broken hope. “No more, ‘Come along, Pond!’”
Ian brightened: “He said that to you? He said it to us too.”
Barbara asked the group, “Does anyone know if they ever saw each other again? The Doctor and Susan.”
Ian tacked on, “And they wanted to get back to Gallifrey someday. Did they make it?”
Sarah Jane hurriedly reassured them, “Oh, yes! Tegan and I both met Susan on Gallifrey. They saw each other there. All the charges were dropped against them and the Tardis was even recommissioned. You could say they both were.” Because despite what happened later in the Time War, the Doctor had been happy to go home now and then, either because he needed to help them -- like the time he had her leave the Tardis -- or when they helped him. He always left to explore the universe once more. Never happy to settle down again after, as Sarah Jane always suspected, he lost his wife there. No matter who else went along, it was he and the Tardis off to see everywhere.
Barbara’s face glowed over that. She leaned into Ian who laid his head gently against hers. He said wistfully, “I would like to hear one more ‘Come along, my boy.’” His warmth spread to everyone around him as they began quoting the Doctor.
Jack said with a smile aimed at the past: “I asked him who looks at a screwdriver and thinks this could be a little more sonic. He asked me, haven’t I ever gotten bored?”
Mickey went next. “Rule One: Don’t wander off. I don’t think anyone listened to that.”
Ian grinned. “He didn’t call it Rule One, but he gave us the same order. We never listened either.”
Tegan added, “As you’re told. He told me once that he said that as the fourth Doctor. Rule One - do as you’re told. Except with someone called Leela. His big thing with her was ‘no more Janus thorns’, whatever they were.”
Amy’s mobile rang. She pulled it out of her jacket pocket, but said before answering the call, “River said that. We had to do ‘what the Doctor’s friends always do. As we're told’. I didn’t know she was quoting him. Hello, stupid face,” she said into the phone. Sarah Jane wondered who she could be talking to like that.
Dorothy didn’t hear Amy speaking into the phone, because she already spoke over top of it. “My favourite is a bit long. I don’t know if I can remember it all, but it went something like, ‘Worlds are out there where the sky burns, and the rivers dream.’ I know the part about rivers is right. Hearing the name River Song made me remember that at least. The rest of it kind of went, ‘Somewhere there's danger, and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do.’”
Martha said, “I don’t know why, but I keep thinking of when he warned me, we might die. I told him, ‘we might not.’”
Tegan’s lively spirit became quiet. “He told you that you might die? Maybe he finally remembered instead of me being around reminding him.”
Mickey’s forehead scrunched into confused lines. “Remind him about what? That you could die?”
“No, that Adric did.” She glanced around at the stunned people. “He traveled with the Doctor, like all of us. He died trying to save us and it ended up being for nothing. And then, Nyssa... Nyssa got ill. She left to help the other people who had the same disease. She wanted to spend the time she had left taking on their Cause.” Her eyes stayed rooted on the ground and didn’t see Sarah Jane starting to comfort her. “It was like everything bad that could happen to Nyssa, happened. The Master took over her father’s body almost at the time she met the Doctor and then she ends with an incurable disease. I couldn’t take much more after both she and Adric were gone. I left for good not long after that.”
She noticed Sarah Jane as well as Jo, Martha and Mickey looking at her and clearly not knowing what to say. Wilf and the others looked at each other, just as much at a loss for words. “I’m sorry, I brought everyone down.”
Amy hadn’t heard them. She had a finger to one ear to better hear whoever was on the phone. “Don’t be daft. You know she’s going to do what she wants.”
Sarah Jane came to sit by Tegan and put an arm around her shoulders. “You told us about your friends. You don’t need to be sorry about that.”
Martha came over and put a hesitant hand on her knee. “You said the Master put his Time Lord energy in a human body?” Tegan nodded. “How long did it last? A few days, a few hours?”
“Years,” Jovanka answered. “As long as I saw him anyway.”
Dorothy asked, “Dark hair, goatee? Liked to wear black?” Tegan nodded again. “That’s what he looked like when I saw him too. How old was your Doctor when it happened?”
Tegan thought about it. “He said at some point that he was in his mid-500s then.”
“So the Master stayed in that body for a couple hundred years, because my Doctor was in his mid-900s.”
“But--” More than one face riveted to those words, especially Wilf. They didn’t care about the Ninth and Tenth Doctors giving an age actually younger by centuries, because the point was: Donna could maybe be saved. If the Master could do it, surely the Doctor could figure it out after all. Then the enthusiasm faded as fast as their hope. It was still a Doctor-less universe. Odds were: he’d never show up again. He might come back for Donna’s sake, but he evidently hadn’t thought of a way to do what the Master had done or he would have done it already.
It made Sarah Jane say, “He wished so many times he could change things. But he couldn’t, not--”
Amy caught that as she hung up her mobile. “Not one line.”
Barbara looked at her in surprise. Happy surprise. “He said that to me. When I said I would wipe out evil by going back in history.”
“He said it to River when she tried to avoid -- well, killing him.”
Her words heralded the noise of Sarah Jane’s front door banging open. The strength of it made them hear it even from the garden. River Song blasted in a second later with the force of a sonic boom. She didn’t look around, but targeted Jack. She went up tight against him, putting herself between he and Amy. Her words came out in a snarl. “You threatened my mother!”
She wore a grey tank top over a black one with flexible, form fitting trousers and combat boots. Sarah Jane didn’t notice the outfit for itself, only that it revealed strong shoulders and muscles underneath the honey coloured skin, darker than Dorothy’s.
Rory showed up in the garden, hurrying to stop his daughter. “That’s not what I said. If you weren’t as stubborn as Amy and rushed here, you’d have heard me.”
Amy told her, “He threatened you, actually.”
River’s head snapped from listening to her mother back to Harkness. She finally became aware of everyone else looking at her. “Oh. I see,” she said quietly. Her eyes dropped down and she said nothing until she finally spoke to herself, “Well then.” She came back up to Jack and held her arms away from her body. “Here I am.”
It wasn’t a dare to make a move. She offered herself up to his revenge. She still protected the Doctor and at her own expense, Sarah Jane saw. Still played the role of the Doctor’s killer. She had no idea she didn’t have to with them anymore.
Amy shot up to her feet. “Stop that! Do you think we would bring you here so he could kill you?”
“Mother,” River said firmly, still facing Jack. “Stay out of this.”
He took a step back. “It’s okay, Miss Song.”
“Doctor Song,” Rory insisted.
“Of course, Doctor Song. I’m not looking to--”
Sarah Jane didn’t want to interrupt Jack when he really needed to explain, but she saw something that made her heart freeze. “Amy, why do you have those marks on your arm?”
The ginger stared down at three black lines stark against her white skin. “Rory!”
He ran to River’s other side so they flanked their daughter. “Everyone look around! If you see something that looks like that painting the Scream
, don’t look away! Just let everybody know you’ve seen it!”
Sarah Jane spun around frantically. She saw everyone else did the same. She grabbed for her phone as she ordered, “K9, scan for life forms other than us! Luke!” Her son had answered and she told him to tell Mr. Smith the same thing about finding anyone else in the garden or anywhere near the house. She used her scanner watch again.
They each called out, “Clear!” or “I don’t see anything”, until they heard Martha’s sickened whisper, “I found them.”
Sarah Jane’s watch beeped at the same time, but she didn't need it now. Sarah Jane turned around and saw them coming into her garden.
K9 said, "Mistress! I found a life form. It--"
Three of them, just as the marks on Amy’s arms had warned them. The large heads covered in a dead man’s grey skin, with their eyes inside oversized sockets and jaws like mummified corpses. Their tall, skinny bodies clad in black suits of crinkled fabric branched into overly long arms and fingers. Everything about them was terrifying as they towered above each one of them. The universe created new nightmares the same way it made incredible wonders.
River took a step forward with tight fists against her side. “Get out. It’s over. You got what you want.”
The one in the center answered her. Its voice sounded male, but that meant nothing. It could have no gender at all. The voice echoed as if it answered deep within the cavern of its head and became sibilant on any ‘s’ sounds. “Your mission is not over, Melody Pond. You still belong to us.”
“No, I don't!” she yelled.
“You are still the weapon against the Doctor. You made him trust you. He walked into his death.”
River’s body quivered with her fury. “You have no hold on me. My life is mine
“You must complete that part of your task for the fixed point. You must see him younger. You must make him trust you.”
“You’re wrong if you think you can make me do anything.”
Amy and Rory moved to a step behind River’s shoulders at this threat. Everyone else rose to their feet and formed a semi-circle in back of them, but Sarah Jane noted how the aliens almost completely blocked the path back to the house.
Amy pushed River behind her. “You’re not taking her again.”
“We are not here to reclaim our property.”
The Ponds started a shoving match over which of them stood in front of the other two to form a shield. River temporarily won and she fired back, “I am not your property!”
“We are not here to take you with us.” Lightning sizzled around their hands. “We are here to protect you from them. They have threatened your life.”
All the quotes they give in this chapter are true, although Dorothy "Ace" McShane's for the Seventh Doctor has been shortened. The full thing is, "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do!"
The facts about Adric and Nyssa are also true, including the Master putting Time Lord energy into a human brain with no problem . (He actually did it twice, but these Companions wouldn't know about the second time.)
Read Chapter 1
, Chapter 2
, Chapter 3
, and Chapter 4
Summary: The love between mother and daughter is forever. It even goes back in time. Amy gets to hold her daughter Mels. Pond Family feels.
"A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of herself. And mothers are their daughters' role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships." - Victoria Secunda
"A man's daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world." - Mat Johnson
“A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.” - Unknown
Amy straightened up the kitchen after a busy day. It started with meetings about what would be the next big thing for her perfume company. The second fragrance after Petrichor had been an equal success, but what now? She had an idea of roping in her daughter, because the tagline For the woman who shows no mercy kept playing around in her head.
The meetings ended with lines that were agonizingly too long at the shops. She thought about throwing the long sleeve white and black striped blouse she was wearing into the laundry, or maybe just her jeans, but decided it could wait until she changed for bed that night. Still plenty of time in the day to do something else.
An electrical sizzle split the air behind her, near the garden door. She could smell the ozone of time as she quickly turned around with a huge smile on her face.
Her daughter sagged with relief. “Mother, you’re here. I thought you both were home all day, but I came by earlier and nobody was.”
“I had errands and last minute meetings. Rory took an extra shift at the hospital.”
River nodded but she was obviously distracted. “We don’t have much time.”
Amy frowned. “How can you not have time? You have that.” She nodded at the armband on River’s wrist.
Her daughter came closer. “Because someone’s about to come here and I have to leave before they do.” She glanced down at her vortex manipulator and then hurriedly took her mother’s hands. “I think you might like this better as a surprise. Just remember: you can tell her who you are and what you know. It won’t hurt the timelines and it’ll mean everything to her. It’ll even get her through -- what she has to go through. She’ll know to file it with other things she couldn’t tell you... for awhile. Don’t waste the time with what was wrong. She’ll know how you feel about it without you saying it. If you can get Dad to come home--”
An alarm went off. She squeezed her eyes tight for a second and then held her mother’s hands tighter. “That’s me, out of time. I have to go, but I’ll be back later. Go look out the window.”
Those first words tugged at Amy’s memory, but River kissed and hugged her goodbye for now and hurriedly jabbed at the vortex manipulator.
The ginger stared at the spot with a deeper frown and then she shrugged. She moved to the window and pushed a button on her mobile’s speed dial.
“Rory? River said you should come home if you can. No, she didn’t act like something’s wrong, just--”
A boom sounded down the road and Amy caught a bright light just out of range to be seen fully. Not an explosion, but what she knew had to be a portal opening. She had seen them before, including when River used them to get home in her university days. Luckily her neighbors weren’t around to ask questions, not that she cared.
She ran to the door and flew down the steps. The throaty sound of a motorcycle engine came down the street and then there she was. Shorter waves of hair, the way it was before the long braids, and darker than her skin. A badass smile, bright white in contrast to her brown colouring, that said right now she was enjoying being out, racing around. Free.
“Mels,” Amy whispered. The motorcycle passed her and she yelled, “Mels!” She hoped it wasn’t too late.
She closed her phone without realizing she did it and didn’t register Rory’s voice frantically asking what was happening.
The sound of the motorcycle ebbed down the street and then roared as it came back. Amy ran down in front of it because she knew Mels had plenty of time to brake.
“Amy?” She turned off the cycle and smoothly climbed off.
Amy walked up closer so Mels could see she was older than the best friend back then in Leadworth. When those dark eyes squinted and then opened wide, she knew Mels had it.
“Older, yeah,” she answered. “You came through a time portal.”
She could hear Mels feeling around to what was going on. “Someone sent me the instructions.” She shrugged. “Couldn’t let it go by.”
You sent it to yourself, Amy thought. She walked up until they were face to face. She leaned hers still closer. “I know who you are, Melody.”
A light of hope flashed in Mels’ eyes before she had to cover it. “Of course you do. I’ve known you for how long?”
“No. I know who you are. I named you, Melody Pond. Of course I know you. It’s me.” She couldn’t wait anymore and, after all, she didn’t have to. She pulled her daughter fiercely into her arms. “Penny in the air,” she whispered into that ear.
She felt Mels’ body tighten, fighting against believing because the disappointment would be too much to bear. Then a fine tremble ran from her head to her toes. “...Mum?”
Amy knew that it took everything for Mels to risk that one word. “Yeah. And the penny drops.”
She was glad her daughter’s bodies were shorter than her, because it meant she could easily cradle that head in the warm spot of her neck and shoulder, just like she did when it was a mane of curls. She felt the tremble become more noticeable. “It’s okay, I got you, Melody. I got you.”
The dam broke and Mels buried herself into Amy, as ferociously as her mother held her. “Mother.”
Amy felt her tears run down her cheeks and Melody’s against her neck. She tucked her daughter into her more closely, and words like I love you flowed out and at last she got to say it to Mels as Melody. She hadn’t seen her best mate and her little girl in this incarnation for so long.
She whispered, Wherever you go, Melody, however scared you are, I promise you, you are not alone, because those words between the two of them on Demon’s Run always soothed River from the terrors of the day into cuddling against her mother and easing into blissful sleep. Just as the sound of her voice had done with Mels before Amy understood why.
She felt and thought everything at the same time. My baby girl with love and The Silence has you now and Kovarian’s coming back, but you don’t remember who she is with fear and anger and River said this would get her through those times with a plea that it was true and Did you steal the bus yet? with fondness and You are incredible and strong and brave and wonderful. Remember that with firmness and We already have so many memories as your mum and dad, wait until you live them with us sand I’m so glad you found us, Lorna Bucket said you always would and I can’t wait to hug you when you come home from when you left a little bit ago, so we can live this over again, but I don’t want to let go now either and Melody, Melody, Melody with love all over again.
Time was going too fast and she didn’t know how much they had. River -- her older Melody -- would somehow tell them and then be home herself. A car came down the street and Amy was ready to tell them “Sod off” rather than move. Tires screeched as the car jammed to a stop.
A pair of arms came around her and Mels to hold them both tight. She felt the head move to kiss the top of Melody’s.
The three of them stood there in that tight, family knot for... both forever and not long enough.
Another car did come down the street and honked. Amy thought she felt Mels flip them off before it moved around them, yelling something. No one cared.
The moment came at last when someone had to say something. Rory did first. “You stole the motorcycle, didn’t you?”
Mels laughed brightly through her happy tears. “Yeah, I did. I’ll take it back... Dad?”
He nodded hurriedly to tell her it was the name she used for him. She smiled and her eyes watered all over again. She put an arm around his waist, holding Amy with the other. “Dad. You’re going to lecture me when I get back, aren’t you?”
Amy remembered. They had found out Mels stole a motorcycle, but the bus had been so monumental that she had forgotten memory until now. “Yeah, we do. That never changes, just so you know.”
“It’s our job,” Rory said.
Mels grinned. “Wouldn’t have it any other way,” and buried her head into Rory this time as she pulled them close again.
Summary: Because you don’t mess with Rory, you just don’t. Did you really not see his wife and daughter with him?
“Hi,” Rory said as he put his wallet down on the small counter of the outside stand. “I need four milkshakes, one chocolate and vanilla-”
The guy behind the counter didn’t look up from his phone. “We’re closed.”
“Closed?” Rory looked down at the front of the stall. “Your sign says you’re open ‘til 10. It’s only--”
“I don’t care what the sign says. We’re closed.”
“Look, I’m just trying to get a few milkshakes--”
“You look, pal!” The guy glowered at him. “I already closed the till so just bugger off!”
Rory leaned on the counter, but not at all threatening despite what he said. “You really don’t want to do that.”
“Why, what are you gonna do? Turn your head and hit me with your bloody big nose?”
“Okay.” Rory took a casual step back to get out of the way of what was about to happen. Two forces of nature came up on either side of him and two arms crossed over his chest to push him further out of the way.
The ginger tigress on his left stormed, “I did not just hear you tell him that!”
While the golden lioness on his right roared, “Did I hear you give him an attitude?! You?”
Their target managed to get his hands up in a placating gesture and made the biggest mistake of his night. “Look, loves, how about --”
They didn’t talk individually after that. “Did you just call me love?! You think -- Oh, we’re in love now? Seriously? Because I don’t remember falling for a -- I know you don’t think you’re better than him! -- things in the rubbish bins are more -- how about you open that till before you learn what bugger off can look like -- who are you planning to call on that mobile? Your mum? Fine, mine’s here and she’d love to talk to her!“
The Doctor stood back with Rory and glanced at his watch. “New record. He went from arrogant to terrified in 5.7 seconds.”
Rory shrugged. “I warned him.”
“I think the pal thing triggered them.”
Amy and River didn’t speak one on top of the other but intertwined. It looked and felt like an explosion with the man in front of them at ground zero. They couldn’t even be heard singly except for a word here and there.
The Doctor put his hands in his pockets. “It’s better when it’s aimed at someone else.”
“Oh yeah, absolutely.”
“They’re terrifying, Rory. That’s coming from a Time Lord that’s seen terrifying things for a thousand years.”
“It took me a lot less time than that. I’ve seen this since I was eight. They’ve reached a whole new level since we found out River’s ours though.”
The Doctor noted, “It would be interesting to put your mother-in-law in the mix. From a scientific experiment point of view. Three Pond women united.”
Rory bobbed his head in the direction of the milkshake stall. “As long as they’re still pointed at him.”
Shock waves reverberated back. “If you’re afraid we’re going to bring your manager into this, then you’re afraid of the wrong thing! -- Do you really think we can’t be scarier?!”
Rory’s eyebrows went up. “I actually made out that part.”
“They really are frightening,” the Doctor said.
“Yeah. I try to use their power only for good.” Rory noticed movement at the stand. “Our shakes are ready.”
Summary: Amy decides: Enough is enough or River is never going to stop.
Note: This story is for Starjargon because I mentioned this idea to her and she said, "I need this!"
The Doctor slipped past River as he moved around the console. One of them shifted so their bodies brushed against each other, his front across her rear. Definitely her, but probably both of them made sure it happened. He began setting the controls to launch the Tardis off for the next adventure.
“Have you thought about what you want to do, River?”
“Just you, Sweetie.”
That made the tenth suggestive comment in the past seven minutes. Including:
“I speak multiple languages, Doctor, including English, Gallifreyan, sarcasm, and innuendo.”
“I know I’m being naughty, Sweetie. I’m trying to save Santa a trip.”
He said, “You bad, bad girl, River,” and she replied, "Only if I’m doing right."
Rory was nearly fetal on the floor from having to listen to all of it. Amy could take more than he could, but she had her limits and River disregarding her father’s discomfort crossed that line a lot quicker.
Her daughter had made a fatal error. She forgot how well her mother knew her. Amy moved across the console room to Rory and slipped into his lap. She pulled his willing arms around her. “You just reminded me. I said something like that to Rory on our honeymoon.”
River froze. So did the Doctor, but that wasn’t the point or a surprise.
“Well, not our honeymoon. It was our wedding night here on the Tardis.”
Her daughter’s shoulders hunched like they could cover her ears.
“Did you know we had bunk beds? I don’t remember if I told you when you were Mels. No lie, though, the Doctor actually made bunk beds for our room.”
Those hands usually so deft on the Tardis’ controls now darted about without focus.
“Imagine how tough those are to maneuver in. I mean, think about it, River.”
Even River Song didn’t want to think about that. Not about her parents.
“It means we made you in the bunk beds.”
Now their daughter was the one almost fetal on the floor.
Rory -- Rory -- dealt the crippling blow. “Or on the ladder.”
That did it. River practically ran from the room. The Doctor followed with a somewhat anxious, “River?” like he was to blame. He had made the bunk beds after all. She moved several steps away from him and stiff armed his approach.
“Don’t, Doctor! Don’t touch me, don’t talk to me, don’t come near me -- just stay on the other side of the ship!”
“River! I didn’t know --” He ran after her.
Amy snuggled back against Rory’s chest. “That shut her up.”
Note: The bunk beds or ladder joke is from a twitter exchange between Steven Moffat, Neil Gaiman, and a River fan.
I did look up great innuendo exchanges a little while ago for this story and I think I used one or two -- the multiple languages and the Santa one. I honestly don’t remember which ones I created myself and which of them slipped into my subconscious. lol
Summary: First it was the Tenth Doctor and sharing his pain through unexpected intimacy. Then the Eleventh with his initial jealousy and then closeness again because that's who they were.
Rating: T for what's really a mild description of what happened physically.
Note: Canon Compliant; at least it could have happened. :)
She woke up in their bed on the Tardis alone. She had expected that. She went into their en suite and showered. She took the time to lather herself everywhere to remove the scent and sweat of what happened the night before. The feel of the soft towel on her body wouldn’t let her stay away from the memories of skin on skin and groans growing into shouts. She really was quite the screamer. It turned out, so was he.
The Tardis pulled her wardrobe from their room in the future and she chose something -- well not demure, but something safe.
He cleared his throat behind her, bless him. He couldn’t sound more awkward with that small sound.
He wasn’t fully dressed yet, maybe because she had still been asleep in their bed. No, not yet theirs, his bed. He had probably woken up and fled at the sight of her tangled in the sheets, bare body there and tousled curls against the pillows. His dark brown hair was already spiked, but he only wore a shirt with yet another pair of pinstriped pants. He was missing his converse to cover his bare feet and the jacket to complete his suit.
He wanted her to leave. Last night he hadn't; last night he clutched her against him. He already hurt and he hurt and he hurt inside. He could see the pain waiting for him in the future, even though he didn’t know the details of it. He buried himself inside her; not just physically because he already recognized her sensuality and how she was already important. He gave her the ache eating at him, so she would take it and hold it. Not away from him, but to share it so he wasn’t alone.
She never expected it, but she welcomed it, not just for the chance to be with him this young but already old and growing older. Not just for the pleasure, but because she could bear his pain. She always could for him. The broken Doctor, crippled and damaged for the fourth time. She took the shattering pieces, held them together, as they gave each other bliss during the night. It already started to be their bed.
Now in the light of the Tardis created day, she would have spared him trying to be polite, but she needed to stay even with Donna waking up somewhere in the ship. She couldn’t let him remember last night and he knew it.
She dared to put her gentle fingers against his lips. “Hush, Sweetie.”
He let her slip into his mind. He would have flinched if he had lived the time with Donna and the Time Lord energy in her brain. Instead, he just waited for what had to happen. At least until he recognized what was in her own mind. Not just River Song, but Melody Pond of people named Amy and Rory, and of his beloved Tardis. The touch of someone like him that he hadn’t felt in too long.
But he couldn’t know Melody now. He couldn’t even really know River Song. He had to live the years in between here and there.
She pulled her fingers from his mind like a gasp at what she suddenly thought and she smiled gently. “It’s going to be alright, Doctor. Try to find a way to trust me.”
She touched him again before he could answer. She was afraid he would say no.
She hurriedly put on her vortex manipulator, but took one last look where he sat on the bed where she had put him. His eyes were closed and wouldn’t open for another minute. She gave herself that much time after affecting his memories. Then she ran away.
Stormcage and her cell were the same. They always were. She quickly shed what she was wearing for her prison uniform. She just finished when the Tardis landed outside the bars. He stepped out with bowtie and braces. His hair held gel, but the quif still flopped down. Older version then or at least somewhere in the middle after Area 52.
“River Song!” He spun, grinned, and slipped his hands into his pockets. “Get out of that cell. Time and space await.”
That was the best offer she heard all day. She scooped up her diary and was ready to ask him where he had last seen her. But his grin faded. He replaced it with a clenched jaw and a dark look she hadn’t seen aimed at her in a blissfully long time.
He soniced the door and flung it open so hard that it creaked on its hinges, and snapped back at a fast speed. He was quicker. His hand grabbed and gripped the bars like it was someone’s neck. His arm stayed stiff and he blocked her exit. She worriedly wondered if it was deliberate.
“Who was it, River?” That voice made people fear the storm he showed them, but she was a long way from the top of a pyramid where Amy taught her young daughter had to stand toe to toe with him. Even with him this enraged.
“What are you talking about?” She honestly had no idea.
He took a hard step inside and jabbed a finger down on her collarbone. “Who gave you this?”
She looked down to the spot where he touched and could just see the bruise peeking out. A love bite. If she had looked in the mirror this morning, she would have known it was there. She would have not put on the prison grey and black tank top that exposed it, just in case he had shown up like he had.
“Sweetie, you have to listen to me.”
“Don’t say Sweetie. Not now! Who. Gave. You. That?”
She couldn’t tell if he was madder at her or the lover he imagined. They were probably both in danger, even though the other person didn’t exist.
“Doctor. It was you.”
“Don’t lie, River. I won’t listen to lies. I don’t leave marks that show. I can’t, not when you see my younger versions. Neither of us can and that’s not going to change in our futures. Who was it, River?”
“It was you. You have to listen!” What she said next was a verbal code. It served as a key to the lock around the memory. It had to be words she would never put together normally. “Chocolate, Cestuebos, chest and hips.”
He blinked and then his eyes widened. He shifted on his feet as he remembered all the details. “It was me.”
“Yes, it was.” She didn’t touch him yet. She didn’t know if he was ready for that and she wasn’t sure what to say next. The way he looked made what happened a delicate subject. She decided to settle on the afterwards. “I couldn’t wipe the memories.”
“Because you thought I should remember after all.”
“Because of Donna,” she corrected. “I’m sorry.”
He sank down on her cot and took a beat before he gave her a half-hearted smile. “I always wonder why the bed doesn’t creak. It looks like it should.”
“Doctor.” She knelt down in front of him and cupped his face. She wondered if he would push her away. “Please. You can’t be upset. It was you. It’s always you.”
The storm drained away. “I know.”
“Do you? Do you, really?” Her eyes flicked back and forth between his. “I wouldn’t be jealous if you found a way to be with me in my last body.”
The smile got sadder. “I’m not jealous. It’s not why -- it’s not why I’m this. I hurt so much then. You were there for me. You always are, River.”
“...Donna.” He cupped her face too, but with one hand unlike her. He stroked her cheek with his thumb. “I kept you from Donna.”
“Because I never meet her?”
Because she had and didn’t know Donna on sight.
“It just.. it makes me remember -- everything.”
She moved his knees apart so she could move in and press against him. That included her forehead to his. “I am sorry.”
He leaned in more and closed his eyes as the answer he didn’t give in words. The seconds lasted emotionally as minutes until he opened his eyes. He gave a little tap of his fingers against her cheek, like a quiet knock on a door, so she opened her eyes too. She kept her head against his. His lips moved into a quirk now.
“So me with your last body is okay?”
“You bad boy.” She smirked back even though she reminded him of the obvious truth of her younger days. “If you can find a way to not trigger me into killing you. We’ve done that enough, Sweetie.”
The guards would be here any minute now, not that they cared. But he was the dead man she murdered, so it was better if he wasn’t found sitting in her cell. She stood up and held out her hand.
“C’mon, old man. Time for a night in.”
He followed the tug of her hand to his feet. She walked backwards to the Tardis so their eyes stayed on each other.
His mouth still played at grinning. “Don’t be surprised if I find a way to go back to your last regeneration.”
Her smile was a quiet laugh. “It was a great body. So if you find a way, enjoy yourself.”
The sound of boots hitting the floor came from further down the corridor as the guards ran towards them. It didn’t matter.
“You know, you were right.”
He beamed. “I always am.”
She snorted at that. “I couldn’t let you remember. You had to think your first kiss was after America. I couldn’t think it wasn’t the first.I know you didn’t lie about it. I’m old enough to read when you’re lying. But I did want you to remember as soon as it was safe.”
The Tardis doors closed behind them and the ship melted away.
He reappeared at her cell in what was a month for him and gave her a smirk. “Jammie Dodger, Titan IV, fingers and toes.”
The memory unlocked in her mind at his vocal key code. He leaned forward and bopped her on the nose. “I found a way.”
Her eyes held devilment as she thought of her dark skin moving against his light one and the sounds they had made against each other’s mouths. “Naughty.”
He snapped his lapels. “Yeah, it was. You were right, it was a great body. Lots of fun. You always got great regenerations, even the innocent first one. Ooo, I’m never saying that again. Can’t include the original Melody when we’re talking about what we are. And you were right. I couldn’t let you think your first kiss, your first time with me, wasn’t the first.”
“I’m always right.”
He leaned in so he looked at her through his bangs. “Except when I am. So, what do you think of a trip to Foalara? Great view from any every meadow. Blue grass under blue skies. A night in while we’re outside.”
Her wicked look spread across her expression and she took both of his hands. “A night in while we're outside, old man.”
He walked backwards so they stayed looking at each other with all that warmth and promise.
The guards ran down the hall to Cell 426, but it didn’t matter. The Tardis doors closed and they melted away.
: It's Father's Day for the Pond and Williams families. River takes her dad and grandfathers out to celebrate by giving them a normal, relaxing day. With a twist.Series
: Our Granddaughter MelodyBeginning Note
: This story diverges from canon for Series 7, because River's grandparents -- and even other members of the family -- know and love her. It's canon compliant other than that.
It started on Mother’s Day. River had landed the Tardis in her parents’ yard in the middle of a gorgeous afternoon. She had come out and leaned in the door, announcing she was taking them on a trip. Brian, Rory, and Augustus had got up from their seats alongside Tabetha and Amy.
River had given the men a look. “Where do you lot think you’re going? Your trip is next month.”
And away the women had went.
But now it was the 21st of June, and the Ponds and WIlliams families got together again for Father's Day. Rory worked on the barbecue while Brian looked over his shoulder and told him what he was doing wrong. They had pretty much forgotten what River had said on Mother’s Day, until the blue box landed again in the yard. She flung out both doors and aimed a broad smile at the men. “Your turn!”
Augustus hesitated in his steps at his finally going onboard the time ship. He peered inside the doors, like Alice before going into the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Rory had last minute instructions for Amy until she had enough.
“Are you actually lecturing me on your stupid barbecue?” She told him where she was going to put it -- naming the exact body part -- if he didn’t go now and then shoved him towards the Tardis.
He stepped past River. “Where’s the Doctor?”
“He’s still on Steygawa V where I left him on Mother’s Day. It’s only been a couple of minutes for me. I’m coming from right after I left you, so I can spend as much time as possible celebrating with the family before I have to go back. I only waited long enough to change my outfit before I set the coordinates for here.” She gave hello kisses to them all, the skirt of her sundress swaying around her, and not caring that she had just kissed them goodbye from her point of view.
Amy ran into the house to get her daughter diary to make note of River coming directly back from leaving them a month ago, while Brian looked absolutely confused. “You stayed for five days then. The Doctor hasn’t noticed you’re gone?”
“No, because I’ll pick him up right after I left. I can be here for as long as I like.” She saw it didn’t help him at all. “It’s just time travel, Grandad.”
He let it go at that. “I guess if it makes sense to you, poppet, the rest of us don’t have to worry about it.” He followed Augustus inside.
River looked over to where Amy was writing in her diary. “I thought I’d stay longer, maybe a few weeks or a month, if that’s okay?”
Amy pulled her in for a fierce hug. “Of course it’s okay. Why else do you have a room? You're our daughter, it's your home. Now, get Rory out of here, because if he looks back at that barbecue one more time, I’m going to kill him.”
Augustus had stopped dead right inside the Tardis as he looked around the control room. He looked at his granddaughter wide eyed. “Don’t you get lost in all this?”
She threw her head back and laughed before taking the controls in hand. “We are seriously the best family ever. Now this won’t take long. I can give you a tour later if you want, Grand-dey. Not the full one. That can take a year.”
They landed only a couple minutes later. She escorted them to the doors, but suddenly turned, biting her lip. “I hope you like this. I wasn’t sure....” But she spun back around and let them go first.
They walked into what could only be described as a classically masculine study. Dark wood walls, adorned with paintings depicting adventure and ancestry, stood across from a set of large windows, with a full library on a right angle. Rory noticed one canvas had a tiny Tardis sitting atop a hill in the background.
A round table of a lighter coloured wood and five chairs around it sat in front of a desk. The setup had the same look as the room: solid, Old World male, a life that meant extended boundaries, and the presence of someone who was himself all of those things.
“Is this another planet?” Brian asked. “It looks a lot like home.”
“It is home,” River answered.
Rory turned to her. “Then why take the Tardis? Why didn’t we just drive here?”
“I meant it’s Earth and not too far from home. But it’s 2009 and the 22nd of June, the day after Father’s Day.”
Rory got more confused. “Why after Father’s Day?”
She didn’t get a chance to answer. The considerable door leading into the room opened and an older man walked in. His mustache and receding hair showed complete grey, his white skin was coloured by a life outdoors, and his bearing said soldier and leader even as he leaned a bit on a cane. They could tell at first glance that he was a man you would follow anywhere.
He saw River. “Ah! There you are! Someone can actually land the Tardis on time. That’s something I haven’t seen before you.”
She crossed the room and placed a peck on his cheek. “Thank you again for this.”
“Nonsense! I’ve been looking forward to it. Now then.” He went up to the other men. “It’s a real pleasure to meet all of you.”
He shook their hands as she introduced each of them. “My grandfather Brian Williams, my grandfather Augustus Pond, and my dad Rory Williams. This is Brigadier Alistair--”
“No need for all that,” he said. “Call me Alistair. Well, now. Please have a seat. No big fanfare today. Just war stories, a lot of other talk, and relaxing.”
Rory reached back behind his chair to where River hovered behind him. He held out his hand for hers. “Perfect.” Her grandfathers echoed the sentiment.
She let out a deep breath and relaxed over them stating this was enough for their special day. The Brigadier smiled at the sight.
“Yes, nice normal day,” he said. “That’s why the Doctor isn’t here. If he was, some trouble or other would be right behind. Genghis Khan would probably show up with a legion of Cybermen.”
Rory was surprised. “You know the Doctor?” Even with the Tardis in the one painting, he hadn’t expected their host to really understand the Time Lord as much as he obviously did.
“Dad,” River said, “he’s known the Doctor since his second regeneration.”
“Wonderful chap. All of them,” the Brigadier said like it was nothing. “Or at least the ones I know. The second, third, fourth -- briefly met the first and fifth -- and then ran across the seventh in the middle of battling Morgaine. Saw the tenth for a bit not too long ago. It’ll be part of our war stories if you don’t get tired of hearing me talk.”
Augustus verbally squirmed. “I don’t have stories about the Doctor. We thought he was imaginary and then he showed up at Amelia’s wedding. That’s the end of it.”
Alistair leaned forward towards him. “Now that is a story I want to hear.”
But Augustus shifted in his seat, saying without words that he wanted to stay clear of it, not that Alistair could know it was because of the problems from not believing Amy.
River rescued him. “You have something else in common, Grand-dey.”
He turned back to the Brigadier to explain the term. “It’s Scottish for grandfather.”
He got a happy surprise when the other man picked up on it right away. “It’s specifically from Fife, isn’t that right?”
“It is! Now how did you know that?”
The Brigadier sat back and pointed to a portrait over his shoulder. A man with a strong air about him stood in full kilt with rolling farmland behind him. “That’s my grandfather.“
“Well!” Augustus perked up. “My own grandfather came from there. I can swap stories then!”
“I have to say, I was born here,” the soldier answered, “as you already know from the accent. But I had the pleasure of going back to the family’s roots, and plenty of stories from my father and grandfather. How about you, sir?” he asked Brian.
“I’m not Scottish. Oh, I see! A Doctor story, do you mean? Let me think.” He came up with something. “I suppose I could talk about the time I rode a dinosaur. I also hit a pterodactyl with a trowel before it could get Rory. Then we flew a ship because we’re the same gene sort of thing.”
“Good man! There’s another story we need to hear.”
River had been busy around them. She put out a box of fine cigars along with ashtrays at each place. She then brought substantial glass tumblers, a bottle of brandy, and for the last touch, a deck of cards.
Brian looked around with satisfaction. “We couldn’t be more of a cliche if we tried. Excellent.”
The Brigadier picked up a cigar and savoured its scent. “No more than my study. It’s why cliches exist.” He held up the cigar and addressed the next part to River. “This is top quality. I’m sure he’s going to be happy with them.”
August noticed the chair on Rory’s right. “Is someone else coming?”
River spoke. “I have to go get him. I’ll be right back,” she promised her father and placed a kiss on his head before ducking into the Tardis. As the ship disappeared, Alistair leaned over the empty seat to Rory.
“That’s a helluva girl you got there. You should be very proud. I bet she has the Doctor in a spin.”
Rory’s chest swelled, chuffed about the Brigadier’s praise over River. “I am -- proud, I mean -- and she does.”
“I hope I see it someday. I have one a lot like her. God help us if they ever meet. They’ll probably take over the planet. River very nicely made sure we had the day together before this meeting here.”
Her father and grandfathers now understood why she had brought them on the 22nd. So he could have Father’s Day with his daughter. They guessed being here in 2009 just suited him best.
The Tardis was back already and River once more opened the doors, letting her passenger move past her so he was first in the room. Every man shot to his feet at the sight of the latest guest. River began to introduce him, but he didn’t need it. They knew Winston Churchill when they saw him.
The Brigadier snapped into a soldier’s ramrod stance. He showed he didn’t always need the cane by crossing his study, and dared, in his opinion, to hold out his hand to the other. “Sir! What an honour! I never had the chance to serve with you. I wish I had.”
Churchill took his hand and shook it. “River’s shown me your record. You’ve done the country proud, Brigadier. Now, everyone, sit. It’s not that kind of occasion. The Doctor’s not here? Probably for the best. Like to see him, but who knows what trouble would be on his heels.”
He suddenly looked back at River who still stood by the Tardis. He took in her floral sundress with sandals. “Heels...”
She raised her eyebrows. “Sorry?”
“Nothing,” he dragged out and then shook it off. “Thought I remembered something. It’s gone now.”
Brian couldn’t stop staring. “Winston Churchill...”
“Yes, yes, but never mind all that.” The Prime Minister had taken a cigar from the box. “These are excellent. Good to meet you too,” he said to Brian before moving his gaze to Augustus. “I met your daughter, Mr. Pond. Can’t say enough good about her. Lively and brave. I was very impressed with her. Still am.”
“Uh,” was the most Augustus could manage. Winston Churchill had called him ‘Mr. Pond’. “Yes... she’s... her mother and I -- we’re very happy with Amelia.”
“You should be. Mind if I call you Augustus?”
“What? Oh, yes -- of course. I meant to say -- Augustus is fine.”
“Good! Now that the four of us are old friends, it only leaves this brave man here.” He turned to Rory. “So you’re the fearless one that married his Amy. Then made this one here.” He nodded at River. She was pouring the brandy, but shot a dark look at him, totally unfazed by a prominent historical figure in the flesh, even if she didn’t already know him, which she clearly did.
“I’m not built from a kit.”
Churchill dipped the end of his cigar in the brandy and chomped down on it. “Imagine if you were. You and your mother. I could have put the Nazis down in a day. So! Rory, is it?”
“Yeah.” He had met plenty of important people himself, but still, he took a second to settle down with the whole idea. “Amy told me about you.”
“Did she?! Do I want you to repeat it?”
The Brigadier picked up the cards and tapped them against the table. “Shall we start? Cards, brandy, cigars, and good talk. It’s the promise of a superior day. What’s the stakes then?”
River spoke up from where she leaned against the Tardis. “Winner gets to pick a trip anywhere and anywhen. His choice.”
“Now that’s something to play for!” Alistair exclaimed and began dealing the cards. “We’ll need chips to keep track of who's winning. Five card draw good with everyone?”
They all agreed and then Churchill said to River, “If I win, I’ll take the Doctor’s Tardis key.”
“Or not,” she answered calmly. “And don’t try that ‘take it by force’ nonsense. I’ll sic my mother on you.”
“Terrifying!” He chuckled. “So, where to begin?”
River stood and leaned against Rory’s chair. She had an arm loosely around his shoulders and managed to have the same air as the study: both comfortable and something that spoke of the old way of things, as if Rory sat in discussion with leading families over how to govern their territories, and needed his firstborn at his side. Just as he sat on his father’s right. “Grand-dey went into the Tardis for the first time today. He asked if I ever got lost.”
The Brigadier pointed over at her. “Excellent point to start with. Anyone here give the old ‘bigger on the inside’ comment?”
Rory moved the order of the cards in his hand. “I didn’t. I told him I knew it was a different dimension.”
Alistair laughed. “I told him I thought he misused UNIT funds to build the silly thing.”
River interrupted. “She doesn’t like being called a thing. Or an it.”
“Right,” Churchill said. “If I had a key, I would know these things on my own.”
She grinned and pulled her small computer from some hidden pocket of her sundress. “It’s still not going to happen. And I have Amy on speed dial.”
“Fine then. Actually not fine, but you’re not going to listen anymore than he does.”
Alistair said, “Apparently not. Everyone have their war story ready? Rory? We haven’t heard from you.”
“I’m thinking about what I should say. I’m not sure what you’d like to hear.”
But River did. “He punched Hitler.” She couldn’t sound more proud, of him and about being his daughter.
The Brigadier nearly dropped his cards, and Churchill’s cigar went slack. He turned in his chair so he faced Rory. “You punched Adolf Hitler?”
River smiled down at her father in delight. “Knocked him flat.”
“Well, yeah,” Rory at last answered. “I mean, he deserved it. In general and because he shot River.”
She beamed at all the men around the table. “I told you, we are seriously the best family ever. Present company excepted, of course.”
Churchill didn’t bother with that. He took the cigar from his mouth and pointed at Rory with it. “And you didn’t lead off with that? You should. From now on, introduce yourself with, ‘I’m Rory Williams. I clobbered Adolf Hitler.’ Put it on a business card and give it out to people.”
Alistair picked up his poker hand. “It must be a family trait. Brian had to think before remembering fighting off dinosaurs. Humility, thy name is Williams,” he said with respect.
The Prime Minister licked his lips. “Did you just say dinosaurs? I obviously missed a few things. What about you, Augustus?”
The Brigadier answered for him. “He thought the Doctor was imaginary. He’s probably the smartest man in this room. Who’s to say the Doctor’s real?”
River smirked. “Want me to answer that?”
“No, we do not,” Churchill reprimanded her. “Your father doesn’t need to see you being a saucepot, especially on Father’s Day. You must give him enough sleepless nights with all the trouble you get into, you don’t need to deprive him of any more.”
Her eyes crinkled at the corners and her mouth pulled up at the suggestion. She glanced down at Rory. “Do I make you lose sleep?”
She might as well asked if he breathed air. “Of course you do. I’ve worried about you since I was eight. I worry even more since you’re my daughter.”
Her earlier playfulness drained from her face. “I didn’t expect you to say yes. We talked about this already, Dad --- I always bounce back, you know that. I don’t want you losing sleep over me.”
“I’m never, ever, going to stop,” he immediately answered and then caught how really concerned she was. He moved closer and his voice softened into a parent’s mantle of strength of I’ve got you. It didn’t matter she was grown. He was Rory and she was his. She and Amy: his world in two women, the ones he had been the Centurion for, the ones for whom he’d always allow the Roman out from behind his door. “Hey, you got to know. It doesn’t matter when I knew you were my daughter. When you were a baby, when I found out Mels was you, when I found out on Demon’s Run... You could change the way you live -- I’d feel better if you lived safer -- but I’m your dad. You could work a toll booth on a road with no traffic, and I’d still worry someone would hit it with their car.”
Brian watched Rory looking up at River. “It’s what we do, poppet. If you’re good at it. Rory came out jaundiced when he was born and I haven’t slept since.”
His son’s mouth fell open and his eyebrows shot up to his hairline. He had never expected that.
Augustus, meanwhile, smiled over the memory of a little one with a head of silken, ginger locks. “Amelia sneezed less than an hour after she was born. I thought something was wrong with her lungs -- I started pulling my hair out right then. It’s no wonder I don’t have any left.”
Rory gave River his last word on it. “It’s my job, Melody. I like it.”
She bit the corner of her bottom lip. She’d throw herself in harm’s way without a second thought, but his losing sleep over it bothered her and that was that.
The Brigadier warmly enjoyed her own worry about her dad. “Seems we’re at an impasse there. Should we go forward to our game?”
River shook off the tension and hugged Rory with the arm still around his shoulders. “I’ll leave you to it. But I’ll pop back in.”
“Don’t go too far. Like don’t leave in the Tardis or anything.”
She stopped and looked back over her shoulder. “I won’t, Dad.”
Brian gazed around at his fellow fathers. “Speaking of dads, why don’t we share stories about the children? I’ll start with Rory.”
His son’s head dropped to his chest in exasperation, and then, in the next second, remembered his daughter shared in the same moments of his childhood. He cut off River as she was about to say something. “Parental rule,” he reminded her. “You’re not allowed to tell anything you know from then.”
Her grin promised reigned in deviltry.
The Brigadier called out as she opened the door to go. “Trouble follows you as much as the Doctor. Don’t you bring Genghis Khan to the house either. I just had the garden done.”
She wiggled her fingers in a cheeky wave and disappeared out the door. He waited for it to close and got the game started. “Right then, stories about the Doctor, about Scotland and its fine people, followed by how we ever got our remarkable women to marry us, let alone choosing us to be fathers to their children.” He raised his glass. “Gentlemen, here’s to all of you.”
They repeated the toast and fell to their cards.
River reappeared now and then, and it wasn’t until later that her family wondered what she was doing to keep busy. She went into the Tardis a couple of times, leaving the doors open, and they heard her moving around and talking to the ship. Churchill remarked that it was no wonder his phone call had been forwarded to River.
She brought them something to eat, so the brandy didn’t sit on their empty stomachs, and watched a few rounds of their card game. She stunned all of them when she blushed a fiery red over a story Rory told from her last regeneration.
She hissed, “You said no stories from back then.”
“I said you couldn’t tell them, because I’m your dad. That means I can still tell the ones about you.”
She lost that argument, but not because it was the five of them against her. She just couldn’t stand to see Augustus upset, and when she started a really good scorching reply to Rory’s “Dad’s prerogative” speech, her Grand-dey’s eyes looked hurt and she surrendered.
She didn’t harbour a grudge, or at least didn’t show that she did, and reached in the next time it was Rory’s turn to bet, playing the hand for him. As he gathered in the large pot of chips when he won, the Brigadier glowered at River.
“Are you memorizing the cards?”
She grinned shamelessly. “And calculating the odds on which ones he’d get as well. It’s Father’s Day.”
Alistair tapped a finger on the table. “I’m going to repeat what I said, Rory. You have a helluva girl there. Wait, sorry,” he said to River. “About calling you a girl. I didn’t mean it as an insult. You’re obviously not one.”
She shrugged. “No offense taken. The Tardis has been called the Old Girl for centuries, so you’re putting me in good company.”
She moved between her grandfathers and got them each a win before she headed for the door again. They finally asked her why she kept leaving the room and she blinked in surprise before she said to Rory, “So you can spend time with Granddad on Father’s Day.”
He asked her to stay anyway and Brian took this as an opportunity to bring up a time he had with her. “Did you know we took a trip earlier this year? We went on an actual archaeology dig.” He asked for two cards and laid down the ones he didn’t want. “I was right there next to her and I found a little girl’s toy. Imagine that. Here’s this girl from hundreds -- thousands -- of years ago and no one remembers she even existed. Then I find her toy and a part of her is alive again. Lots of children are going to see that display, they’re going to see she lived and that will make her real to them. And I was part of that. Me and River, our names are there side by side on the museum card. Amazing.”
Augustus fidgeted with his glass instead of looking directly at River. “You said you’d take me somewhere.”
She smiled warmly. “I’d love to, Grand-dey.”
“Maybe -- maybe back to Inverness. See the old house and catch up with the old mates.”
“If you don’t mind some advice,” said Brian. “Pick something you can’t do regularly. You and Tabetha should go back and see Inverness, but let River take you someplace you can’t go any other way.”
Augustus thanked him, but his eyes clearly said he wasn’t up for that yet. He was like Brian before the dinosaurs: wanting to stay around home. He had left Scotland for Leadworth only out of necessity.
She left a few minutes later and the men talked about their work along with other things. Rory told them about his nursing and remarked to Churchill that a male nurse must seem odd to him. The Prime Minister pointed out they knew an alien who changed his face instead of dying, and flew about in a time traveling police box.
“And your daughter is the female version. What’s you being a nurse next to that? Besides, if I cared about the gender of the person who nursed our boys on the battlefield, what kind of man would I be?”
“Hear, hear,” the Brigadier seconded. “If you don’t mind my asking, why are River’s genetics the way they are? Time Lord DNA when she’s not from Gallifrey, and she’s yours, Rory - how did that happen?”
Rory, Brian, and Augustus exchanged looks before the elder Williams somehow got elected to explain. He answered with the tone people use when they know the one who asked is going to be sorry they did. “It’s a sad thing, the one part. The people who kidnapped her -- they did surgeries while Amy was pregnant with her. Now the other part of it,” he said brightly to ease them away from that heartache, ”isn’t like that, but it’s a big secret for some reason. Rory won’t say.”
“Neither will Amelia.” Augustus squinted at his poker hand and mumbled about how useless it was. “I can’t think why they don’t -- does the light on top of the blue box always carry on like that? I didn’t notice it before.”
Rory hunched over his cards and practically sank behind them. “Ignore it.”
Winston looked from him to the Tardis and back again. He leaned over and whispered in the other’s ear. Rory’s careful lack of reaction answered his question more than words and Churchill laughed.
“Why can’t you tell them that? It’s not like they haven’t it done it themselves. The act, not the location. Where do you think you came from?”
“Leave it.” The Roman had obviously gotten comfortable with the historical Prime Minister to insist that.
The level of brandy in the bottle got lower and lower, and they went into a second one that Alistair brought out. Churchill went into a grand rendition of the song “We’ll meet Again” from his own time. The others joined in, even if they only knew the song from handed down albums. When River walked into the room about then, she didn’t bother holding back her smile. She waved a hand to clear some of the smoke from the cigars, some lit for the sake of gesturing about with them. Rory’s was one of them.
By this time, they called him Centurion, which River had naturally put out there, along with his excellent medical record. Brian was Slayer, shortened from Pterodactyl Slayer, Augustus was Chieftain, Alistair was Brig, and Churchill was Winnie for a few minutes until he threatened to have them all shot. The fact that only his nanny was allowed to call him that brought up River calling the Doctor ‘Sweetie’. The unanimous vote agreed the endearment was a good thing.
By this time, a tipsy Rory kept saying, “Look at my girl! Nobody can say their daughter is better.”
Brian slapped a hand on the table. “She carries a trowel!” Like this was the height of her accomplishments. He ignored her saying that all archeologists had one in their kits. “A trowel, Rory!”
An equally woozy Augustus reminded his son-in-law that he was married to Amy, his and Tabetha’s daughter. Rory shut up as he imagined his wife and then brightened with a, “They’re equal!”
River grinned. "That saved you."
It led to a watery eyed Brian talking about his Ellie, his late wife and River's other grandmother. The Brigadier understood how he felt because he had lost his own wife not long ago. The men toasted, “To Ellie and Doris! Women amongst women!”
Alistair caught River standing in the room. “Present company excepted, of course.”
She hung around for several minutes and recorded the whole thing on video with her computer. The men followed that up with praising the women until Alistair lifted his glass with a loud, “Wives! By God, sir, wives!” like someone challenged him on it.
When the singing started again, River interrupted. “What do you say? Time to call an end to the game? We have a trip to take.” They all agreed this was a good idea. “Alright then, who’s the winner?”
They stared down at the pot in the center of the table. They had each shoved all their chips in a winner-take-all move a few hands ago and hadn’t bothered with them after that.
She chuckled. “All right, I’ll pick.”
She bundled them all into the Tardis and took them to a pub on Osmillon in the 43rd Century. The drinks there had no alcohol, despite tasting like they did, and the seven armed, dexterous natives could snatch wayward darts when the men’s now bad coordination totally missed the game board. Augustus kept looking around himself. He stepped about carefully, lifting one foot and then the other, testing the floor beneath him. He shut his eyes and opened them to see if anything had changed.
“I’m on another planet. Another planet. And these people-- Look at me, lass!” he cried out to River. “I’m an alien!”
She squeezed him in a bear hug that he gave back. “Yes, you are, Grand-dey. Welcome to the club.”
The Osmillons took an instant liking to them and led them to the cliffs right outside the bar. They watched a purple sun set behind a golden ocean, arm-in-seven-arms together. Their hosts gave loud trumpeting sounds through their snouts.
The Brigadier said, “If that’s the custom here, I think we should join in.”
“I’m warning you all,” said Churchill, “I am not going to be outdone, so bring your best bugling.”
They threw back their heads and trumpeted. River got that on video too.
She shooed them back into the ship and took off for the Vortex. She kept them whirling about there, because Rory offered to give his father-in-law the tour after all. The Tardis decided to have some fun with them, and started moving rooms and hallways around. They caught on after passing the same kitchen three times, and then they suddenly ended up befuddled back in the console room.
Sadly, the day had to end. River dropped the Brigadier off first and told the other men to wait for her. They parted with Alistair sorrowfully and he clasped their hands tightly. She walked with him into the house where his daughter Kate was waiting. He looked back and forth between the two of them.
He shook his head gently. “You have met each other. Life as we know it is done.”
His daughter told him not to worry about it and to get some sleep. She then gave River an earful over returning her father in this condition, reminding the other woman that she had said she wouldn’t.
River argued, "Kate, he’s fine --- why are you looking at me like that? What’s that paper?” Because Stewart kept looking from her to the report in her hands.
“We’re talking about building a scanner, so I can hopefully tell when the Doctor lands on Earth. We’re thinking we’ll try searching for artron energy spikes. When we get closer, maybe a device to check for two hearts in the chest. Think it will work? You could volunteer for the project.”
River rolled her eyes. “You want me to be a lab rat, so you can find the Doctor. No, Kate.”
“It makes up for you bringing my father home like this.”
“I told you, he’s fine. I made sure of it. This will last at most a half hour, and he had a good time. It was like they were soldiers in the trenches together."
“Soldiers in a trench perfectly describes the state of that study.”
“Send me the bill for the housekeepers.”
Stewart scoffed. “Where do I address it? Stormcage? I’d like to see the postman’s face when he gets hold of that.”
Churchill was next and his wife Clementine also yelled at River, who still thought they were overreacting. She made another promise, this one to make it all up to the Baroness the next time she dropped by.
Finally, she landed her family at home, two minutes after they had left, according to Tabetha’s watch.
They stumbled out with Augustus leading them in a rowdy “Scotland, The Brave" and the Williams men only joining in on the song’s chorus, because those were the only lyrics they knew.
Rory fell into Amy’s arms and she nearly dropped him because of his weight. “Our Melly, Amy. Our Melly!” and his eyes filled with tears.
Augustus choked up at this, took Tabetha’s hands, and held them to his heart. “I said Amelia was just as good. I did, Tabetha!”
“I should chuck you out of the yard,” she replied.
Rory wasn’t done. “We made her, Amy. Can you believe it?”
“Still not from a kit,” River insisted, but she said it softly.
Brian even sniffled, but for a different reason. "I have no one to hug." So his granddaughter hugged him.
Amy would have comforted him too, but she wrestled with Rory. "Get away from that barbecue! Your breath will set off a fireball, you idiot!"
He grinned and collapsed.
A lightbulb went on over Brian’s head. “Oh! I see it now. We were gone all day, but we got back here in only two minutes for them. That’s how you’re getting back to the Doctor.” He kissed that head of curls. “You’ve always been a bright girl, poppet. You get it from Amy.”
Tabetha started to yell at River, just as Kate Stewart and Clementine Churchill had done, and for the same reasons. Her granddaughter headed her off preemptively with the videos she had taken.
Amy watched them three times in a row. "We're getting copies of these, yeah?"
Tabetha watched side by side with her. "I'd send them back home to Scotland if the family could make sense of them. We can't explain Winston Churchill, let alone the furry, green things with all the arms."
River took back her computer. "I can remedy that. Grand-dey, how does 'Scotland, the Brave' go again?" She started recording and Tabetha complained.
“I didn’t mean inflict torture. Didn’t you get enough of this growing up?”
“Never,” River said with complete happiness.
Augustus burst out once more in loud, flat notes. He got all the way to, “Land o' the high endeavour, land o' the shining river!” in the second verse when he drifted off over his granddaughter’s other name being in his homeland’s proud song. He caught sight of his Tabetha watching him and rallied with, "Wives!"
Rory and Brian joined in, raising imaginary glasses. "By God, sir! Wives!"
"Okay," Amy told River, "that part almost made up for the song. But you can keep your place as my favorite daughter if you get him to do that 'our Melly' bit again on video."
Rory went back to the barbecue and Brian warned him off this time. “Why are you so nutty over it?”
Rory shrugged it off -- at first. “No big deal.” And then he blurted it out: “Because I was going to cook you dinner for Father’s Day, Dad.”
They both swayed a bit on their feet before Brian hugged him and then pulled back to tell him, “You let me tell every embarrassing story about you without trying to stop me. You didn’t even roll your eyes more than two or three times. That’s a great gift.”
“Amelia,” her dad called, “come over and sing with me?”
She nearly said no since it just didn’t appeal to her, but smiled lovingly at him instead. “My funny little dad,” she said to herself. The father she didn’t have for a whole timeline.
She bounded over to him. “What was that other song you used to sing?”
“‘The Thistle o’ Scotland.”
“You know I’ll never get out the Gaelic, but let's do this.”
They put an arm around each other. She took a selfie video of the two of them singing with huge grins. The worse he warbled, the worse she did too, and they laughed together over it. They bent over double as they imagined the reactions from the family back home.
She kissed him on the cheek. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad.”
He swelled up like a bantam rooster and kissed the knuckles of the hand he held.
“You know,” Tabetha commented, watching River’s videos again, “maybe we can send these. They understand about Melody, now that she sent those movies, whatever they were--”
“Terminator,” Amy inserted absently. She was busy looking over the movie she had just made. “The John Connor and Kyle scenes.”
“That’s it - which, by the way--” She rounded on her granddaughter. “-- traumatized your great-grandmother. You said you cut out the worst parts.”
River sighed. “Tell Nan I said I’m sorry. She’s lying anyway,” she said to Brian. “That woman couldn’t be traumatized by anything. She’s probably angry that I cut out the men’s nude bums.”
He snorted and River smiled innocently at Tabetha.
Augustus leaned over after a beat and whispered in Amy’s ear. At least, he thought he whispered; the whole group could hear him. “Amelia, you said the Scots had a spaceship?” She nodded. “I think -- I think I’m ready to see it.”
“Maybe you should wait until the drinking wears off. So you don’t regret it.”
His forehead scrunched as he thought about it. “I feel fine actually. I don’t know how, but there it is.”
“It’s the drinks on Osmillon,” River explained. “They clear up the alcohol in the human bloodstream. That’s why I took you there.” She smiled fondly at him. “I didn’t want you to be sick in the morning.”
“Good girl. So I’m not regretting the thing about the starship. You’ll go too?” he hastened to ask Amy.
She threw her arms around him and said of course she would. The last bit of hesitation flowed out of him. “We’ll get the kilts pressed. You still have yours from when we dressed up properly for the fete? You didn’t get rid of it?”
“Of course I didn’t. Mum, we’re going to Starship Scotland!”
Tabetha had paid attention the whole time, but she looked at her husband’s pleading gaze with an absolutely brilliant poker face. She slowly smiled to tease him. “Look at you thinking I wouldn’t go.”
“River!” Amy shouted.
Her daughter’s head shot up from where she talked with Brian. She caught the three Ponds staring at her and her expression turned to a rather Rory look. “What did I do?”
“Nothing yet, but you’re going to. You’re keeping the Tardis for awhile and taking us to Starship Scotland. Still have your kilt?”
Because they had taken Mels with them to the fete years ago, since, as a teenage Amy had said as she tossed a kilt to her, “You’re family and I’m not going to this thing by myself.” She had no idea back then how much it had meant to Melody. Even the getting a kilt in the face part. They had a family picture done there; she had the biggest smile.
River nodded over still having hers and that it would fit. Amy then told her to make a room for Augustus and Tabetha in the Tardis. “So they can spend the night before coming back and going to work or whatever.”
Tabetha clapped her hands. “We’ll get another family portrait done! We’ll put it next to the one from the fete. Rory, Brian, you’ll come along, won’t you? You’re family.”
But the Williams men told them to enjoy a day together. All the Ponds out where only River could take them.
Rory held out a hand to River. She went to his side immediately. “Great Father’s Day,” he told her and didn’t let go.
“I love you, Dad.”
“Love you too.”
They sat quiet for a moment listening to the family before she smiled at him. "I think Grandad wants his Father's Day barbecue after all."
A package arrived at each man’s doorstep with the address in River’s handwriting. It held a framed picture of them around the table, enjoying the talk of fathers on their special day. They hung them in spots of great honour on their walls. Augustus put his between the two family portraits of he and his girls in full Scottish regalia.
Notes: The Brigadier’s line, “Wonderful chap. All of them.” is a direct quote from The 20th Anniversary show: “The Five Doctors”. While I’m admitting that I stole dialogue, Rory’s line, “I’m never, ever, going to stop,” is from “Day of the Moon”.
They don’t say where the Ponds are from in Scotland, so I used Karen Gillan’s home of Inverness.
If you’d like to know the songs they sing:
Churchill’s “We’ll meet Again
Augustus “Scotland the Brave
Augustus “The Thistle o’ Scotland
Imagine Amy’s “funny little dad” singing those. :)
Summary: It didn’t matter how old she was, or if she was called Mels Zucker or River Song. Melody Pond carried her mother’s words, the image of her face, and the feel of her touch from Demon’s Run in her hearts.
Melody had escaped Graystark during the summer in Florida. The temperature changed now with the season and her moving North. Her thin dress had served her well for the first few months, but not much anymore. She had gotten lucky tonight and found a charity donation drop. She had been able to trade the nightgown she had escaped in for the dress she wore now from a place just like this. She pulled a large cardboard carton from around the dropbox's base and dragged it deeper into the dark, pushing it in between a couple trash cans to better hide herself.
The container held a small sweater, some clothes meant for an adult, and a few old toys and appliances. She got lucky again because the sweater was her size - kind of. It was as thin as her dress, but together they took the edge off the chill growing each week.
She took everything else out and folded herself to fit inside. She made a quiet promise as always to put everything back. Everything but the sweater. She said a quiet sorry to the little girl who would have gotten it instead. She hoped putting back the toys made up for it a bit.
An installed instinct whispered that leaving the box the way she had found it erased the evidence that she had been there. She knew somewhere in her mind that she was valuable property. No one went to all the trouble with Graystark and the spaceman to just let her go now. They'd be trying to find her.
The box’s walls kept the cool breeze off of her except for where it blew over the top. She shut her eyes and saw the picture again from her memory. The picture, the one of her mother holding her when she was a baby. She hated that she had needed to sacrifice it when she ran away. It would have been comforting on nights like this.
She clung to the image she could still see without physically holding the photo. Somewhere was that mother who would hold her again with a smile. A mom who would care this time that she cried for help.
The picture began to move in her sleepy mind. The mother talked about happy things and gave Melody everything she needed. Her dad was there too and he never let anything bad happen to her. They had a house that was warm at the right times, and fresh and cool the others. They said over and over, “Melody, I love you very much.”
Her parents had something else, something wonderful. They -- the ones called Father and Cleric and Bishop -- said the Doctor had a ship. It looked like a blue box on the outside and it could go anywhere. They never said anything bad about the ship, so Melody thought of it -- the Tardis -- as good. She and her mom and dad would go to all sorts of places in it, fantastic places. They’d be safe in the Tardis and all the places they went would be magic.
She imagined her mother tucking her into bed at night and the dream became the memory of reality. Her mother leaned over her, the red of her hair so colorful against all the white, and said.... something. Melody could hear the voice and see her face; bits of the words and the touch, a kiss... she drifted off to sleep.
Amy dreamt about getting away. She went off to see the world in the dream and it didn’t matter where exactly. Rory and Mels were with her, because it was a given that they would be. Rory had balked and nearly stayed behind, and she’d been almost good with it. She’d have time to run wild before settling down again in boring old Leadworth. But then he ran to have adventures too, because she was there, and it was better with the two of them together.
Mels: she ran with her and in front of her, right into trouble with a grin, a laugh, and a ferocious temper for anyone who dared give Amy or Rory a hard time. Of course, Amy was the same way, so that worked.
She didn’t dream of the Raggedy Doctor. He had been imaginary or was long gone. She found a way to do it all on her own.
It was a great dream until she heard pounding coming from somewhere and Mels yelling, “Open the window!” She didn’t wake up at first, but looked around the castle dungeon in her fantasy (because, of course, Mels had found her way into prison even here). The shouting became, “That’s it! I’m jimmying the lock!” and thoughts of her parents’ complaints about that opened her eyes.
Mels actually did have the window lock pried open and was climbing in. Amy ran to the hallway and headed off her mum and dad getting out of bed to inspect the noise. “It’s nothing! Just Mels!” She heard them grumble and close their bedroom door. She turned back around to find her best friend giving the little blue box, that Amy still wasn’t able to throw away, a twirl.
“Just once,” she reprimanded, “be normal!”
Mels said nothing. She dropped her jacket on the floor, kicked off her boots, and walked dully across the room to drop in Amy’s bed.
She slid in next to her. “Budge over,” and Mels obediently moved away from the center to give her room. The odd thing was, Mels wanted more sleepovers now than she had when they were kids. She actually wanted to sleep too. Lots of little girls had slumber parties where the whole point was not to slumber at all. Her best friend had it all backwards.
Amy had two pillows under her so Mels had to look up. Her eyes held little light and the muscles in her face sagged a tiny bit. Amy got worried. “You can’t sleep again?"
She got no answer at first, just Mels burrowing against her side. She moved her head to Amy’s shoulder. “Tell me a story.”
She rolled her eyes, even though she was still worried. “This again?”
Mels tunneled closer like she needed Amy’s body heat to stay warm, but it was a nice night and the room was comfortable.
“Fine. Once upon a time, there was a brilliant person named Amy Pond. She could never sleep through the night, because of a girl named Melody who kept waking her up like a cranky toddler.”
The dark eyes fluttered closed, but couldn’t settle. Amy looked down at her, concerned, and softened her voice as she teased:
“So Amy, who had to have the patience of a saint, because she always had to put up with Melody doing things like not using the front door to come into the house at night, and having to scold her, like she had to be the grownup when it was no fun at all....”
Mels slept. Amy watched her for a second to make sure, grumbled for the sake of it, and snuggled down to get comfortable. Mels' head stayed on her shoulder and Amy didn't move it as she drifted off again.
River sat between her parents on the couch as they watched television, just a quiet family night together. She had run into her parents’ arms when she had first come home. The way she had looked made Amy and Rory clutch her tightly until she was ready to let go, while Amy thought of a hundred different ways she’d punish the Doctor if he was the reason River felt this way. She got out her ‘daughter diary’, as she called it, and asked where they were. Everything made sense when River told them she had come back from Demon’s Run and telling them who she was. The way they had reacted then.... awkward, unsure, accepting but holding back a bit... no wonder she had come to them with such force and a need for reassurance.
So they settled her between them. She started out leaning more towards Rory with exhaustion written all over her. He switched the channel to golf as soon as he saw that. River didn’t actually hate the sport. In fact, the last time Rory took her out on the links, she had a grand time showing off for him with that advanced mind of hers calculating the science to get miraculous scores. And when some pillock insulted Rory and pushed past to go ahead of them, she sent her first ball to knock the man’s into the rough, and the second to hit him right on his bald spot. Rory dragged her out of there before they faced a lawsuit while River laughed the whole way and couldn’t wait to tell Amy.
But she got bored watching it and that’s why Rory put it on now: to hopefully lull her to sleep. But no matter how tired she was, she wasn’t sleepy.
She moved over to put her head on Amy’s shoulder. “Tell me a story.”
“There's something else that didn’t change with regeneration.” She glanced down and found River’s eyes looking up at her. “Okay. Once upon a time, there was still an amazingly brilliant person named Amy Pond. And she still had a trouble making daughter named Melody.”
River frowned. “And?”
“And-- Melody went flying about the universe in space and time.”
Said daughter sighed. Amy wondered what she was missing that River thought she obviously knew. “And she was very, very brave.”
“Yes, she was,” Amy repeated. “She was so brave that she made even the Daleks afraid of her.”
She still wasn’t giving River what she wanted, because she was fed the next line. They apparently had done this a lot of times already in River’s life, and the fact she didn’t catch on that it was Amy’s first time proved just how tired she was. “And no matter where she went, she was never alone.”
“No, she wasn’t,” Amy repeated again. “It didn’t matter where she was, she was never--”
The pieces fell into place. Mels-River-Melody pressed against her, wanting that physical contact like when her tiny body was held in Amy’s arms; the words her mother gave her before she was taken away by Kovarian. Her wanting to sleep over when they were older and always asking Amy to talk: because she had to wait for Amy’s voice to mature so she sounded the same as when she spoke on Demon’s Run.
“That’s what this has been about, this whole time,” she whispered.
Melody’s lullaby was her mother talking to her. And now that Amy had lived Demon’s Run too, her daughter could hear those words again.
Amy turned a little and pulled River into her arms with the head of curls settled in the curve of her neck and shoulder. She knew River had her memories of that goodbye, cleared of the fog from the Silence with the Doctor’s help. But Amy hadn’t memorized it. That goodbye had been so important that she had been careful of each word she had said, but it didn’t mean she knew them by heart. She worried she wouldn’t get this right.
But as she talked, it came flooding back. She was lucky now; she didn’t have to say the painful things she had to back then before they were torn apart.
“I want you to know that you are loved, Melody. That you'll be safe and cared for and protected.” Amy hoped that would it be true; that despite the life River lived, they could somehow protect her. The Doctor had promised he'd do the same thing too.
She reached for her daughter’s hand and felt River wrap it around only her mother’s index finger, just like when she was a baby. Amy curled the rest of her fingers around her daughter’s. “You are very, very brave, just like I said you would be. And wherever you go, Melody, I promise you, you will never be alone. Because you have your father and you have me. Not even an army can get in our way.” She kissed the head nestled against hers.
The prayer leaf that Lorna Bucket had given her was a promise that Melody would always find them. They would always be her mum and dad, ready to love her, ready to teach her things, and support her. Because that’s what parents did, no matter how old the child.
Rory leaned over to see River’s face. Amy mouthed, “Is she asleep”, and he nodded. She put a throw pillow in her lap and slowly lowered River down. Her daughter never let go of her hand and cuddled into Amy’s lap.
Rory gently stretched River’s legs behind him so she’d be more comfortable. “Why do I always get the feet?” he joked quietly.
“It’s your job.”
He slipped off the sofa and moved down to place a kiss on River’s head. He stroked her forehead with his thumb and just looked at her.
“I will kill you if you wake her up,” Amy whispered fiercely.
“Oh, that’s nice. She’s still sleeping.” He got a goopy expression on his face. “She’s smiling a little.” He kept looking at her for a long moment and then went to pick her up. “I’ll take her up to her room.”
“No you won’t.” She wasn’t giving up holding her daughter, not yet. River had acted like they did this a hundred times, maybe more, and Amy looked forward to every one of them. That didn’t mean she was ending this one early.
Rory understood and slipped back down the couch. He lifted his daughter’s legs ever so gently so he could move them across his lap where he wrapped an arm around them. “Next time, you get the feet.”
“Don’t be stupid. I'm the one who has to talk so she can sleep.”
“You can talk from down there.”
She glared at him and he pretended he didn’t see it. She made a mental note to update her daughter diary with what had happened tonight, and he picked up the remote from where he had dropped it to switch to the DVD in the player. He lowered the volume and turned on the subtitles so they didn’t miss anything. They both settled back into the cushions so they were comfortable for however long Melody slept.
- Tags:amy pond, char: amy pond, char: melody pond, char: mels zucker, char: river song, char: rory williams, genre : family relationships, genre : fluff, melody pond, mels zucker, river song, rory williams, type: fanfiction