Okay, awkward conversations, River Song-introspection and a punny title. On with the show! I own nothing.
Rory and Amy look like two people who've been to Hell and back, so exhausted that all they want to do is sleep for the rest of eternity. River can't blame them—she's been there herself, more times than she cares to remember—but now isn't the time for rest. There may never be a time for rest again.
And she needs them to listen.
The prayer leaf has given up its secret and both Amy and Rory are staring at River like she's a rip in time or a black hole that doesn't devour, like she's something that should never exist.
"It's me." This isn't supposed to be so hard. "I'm Melody." Amy's mouth falls open; River can just barely keep her voice in check. "I'm your daughter."
The thing about everything is, River isn't just meeting the Doctor backwards. She's been meeting everyone else backwards too, and it's only because she learned to live with pain long ago that she can face Rory and Amy when they don't know who she is and when they're just finding out with a smile. For the Doctor, there's always smiles; even if it hurts it's still so amusing to watch him flounder and stare and blush. With Amy and Rory, it just hurts.
Well, what can you do when your parents look at you and they only see you as the woman with the gun? If you're River Song, you smile through it because that's all you know how to do anymore.
In the first few moments, Rory and Amy say nothing. They don't seem to have a clue how to respond and frankly, River doesn't blame them; she was speechless when she first found out how she came to live in the Gamma Forest.
All the time that I knew them they knew who I was; I knew the day would come when they would no longer know and I would have to tell them. River smiles gently at them both, and isn't quite able to keep her jaw from tightening. Please try to understand. This is the last time that I will see you and you will know who I am to you. Try to understand.
I'd really rather it didn't end on a note like the one you seem likely to give me.
River looks them over, eyes narrowing slightly. She can see dry tear tracks on Amy's face, speaking not of hurt but of joy. When her "daughter" was discovered to be a Flesh Avatar she had no more tears in her; all she could do was scream. That pale face is even paler than usual (likely due to the fact that her real body apparently spent close to nine months in a tube) and Amy looks years older than when River last saw her. All the youth has been stolen from her.
When she looks at Rory, she can see tear tracks there too (Surprising; from what she can remember of him Rory wasn't a man terribly prone to outward displays of strong emotion). His eyes are blank from misery and dull from shock and he looks like a man on the very edge. But the edge of what?
Then, their silence shatters like frail glass in a wind storm.
Amy shakes her head convulsively, looking at River like she's sprouted a second head. "No," she mutters to herself. Her hands go to the side of her head; lips quivering she stares at the ground. "No, this-this, this can't be right."
Rory puts a hand on his wife's shoulder, attempting to hug her. "Amy, it's going to be—"
Amy abruptly jerks away and squeezes her eyes shut; River can see tears starting to prick at the edge of her eyes. "No it is not going to be alright!" she half-shouts at Rory, whose face flushes. River's impressed that he doesn't pull back; he's not nearly as easily intimidated by his wife as she remembers.
Despite her best efforts, River can't help but feel a cold settle over her bare arms as she watches Rory try vainly to calm Amy. This is the last time; River didn't want it to end like this. Something more pleasant, that was what she'd hoped for.
"Erm… River, was it?" The Silurian, Vastra by name with the young human girl named Jenny close behind, views the scene unfolding before them with something resembling embarrassment or perhaps just discomfort. "If you don't mind, we'd rather not intrude…"
Thank you. River smiles and comes to meet them both. "Of course; I'll only be a minute," she calls to Rory, who nods and returns his attention to Amy, who doesn't seem to have noticed. "Now," she addresses the two women, "traveling by Vortex Manipulator is an entirely different animal from traveling via the TARDIS. I'll need you both to hold on to one of my arms and not let go until we've reached your destination. Lucky for the two of you I have a reliable model."
As the Silurian and the human each take hold of one of River's arms, Vastra nods to Jenny and remarks, "This one's definitely female."
Jenny smiles coyly. "Shush."
After returning Vastra and Jenny to 1888 Victorian London, River returns to Demon's Run and, not immediately alerting Rory and Amy to her return, stares at them both, watching and wondering. Amy seems to have more or less calmed down; she's sitting on a crate and Rory is kneeling in front of her, having a hushed conversation despite the fact that (or so they think) nobody's watching.
Throughout her early life, the words "father" and "mother" were as parts of an alien language to River, so foreign that she couldn't make them fit on her tongue. Where she was raised no one was willing to take on the role of parent, or perhaps it was simply a matter of no one being allowed to. She was cared for by people who saw her as the light of the universe, their precious hope, but never as a child, let alone as their child. Even after she learned the words they meant nothing to her.
River remembers the day she first met Rory and Amy. Rory had gray hairs hiding in the brown and she had thought them badges of war both external and internal. Amy had been wearing an old hunter green jumper so comically big on her that the effect had been to make her resemble nothing so much as a child playing dress up. River had been convinced that the jumper belonged to either the Doctor or more likely her husband. Considering how cold it was, River couldn't entirely blame her for this choice in clothing; she herself had been wearing a thick parka. The Doctor had brought her to them and he had worn a face so apprehensive River could almost find it laughable.
She had never quite been able to make herself see these people as her parents. River cared for them both deeply and the thought that Amy and Rory, the next time she sees them in the timeline, will not remember what she is to them cuts her as deeply as the thought that eventually the Doctor will forget her entirely. Even after learning her lineage, River couldn't quite make the connection between "Rory and Amy Pond" and "her parents"; the conditioning River had been subjected to as a child had been too great. Eventually, River had come to care for them, and she was so skilled at deception that Rory and Amy took this for love and were satisfied; the Doctor hadn't been fooled but for the peace of mind of his friends said nothing.
There were benefits to having "parents" though, River had learned, even if she couldn't see them as such. She'd been able to tell Rory anything and not fear reprisal. She and Amy could gang up on the men and confound them with secrets and innuendoes, much to the discomfiture of both Rory and especially the Doctor. The only thing that really seemed to bother Amy and Rory was that River never quite had the inclination to call them "Mum" and "Dad".
Well what did they expect?
Shaking the cobwebs of memory free from her mind River steps forward and clears her throat to get the attention of the two Ponds (or the two Williams if she goes by Rory's account).
Amy stands, rubbing at her bloodshot eyes and Rory nods jerkily, motioning for her to come closer so they can talk. Feeling a highly uncharacteristic jolt in her stomach, River does so, readjusting the strap of her vortex manipulator absently.
"So…" It's Rory who speaks up first, fidgeting uncomfortably and never looking more out of place in that centurion's uniform than he does now. "You're our daughter from the future."
River nods. "That's right."
Amy's eyes narrow, green irises stark against bloodshot sclera. "And you never said anything." Her tone is both inquisitive and sharp; there's the hints of an accusation starting to be born there.
"Would you have believed me?" River asks gently, her smile almost motherly—Oh, the irony.
Amy's answer is immediate. "No."
"There you have it then."
For a moment, River watches as Amy and Rory exchange a long glance. Then, a shaky smile appears on Amy's salt white and scarlet face.
"Melody Pond really is a superhero," Amy remarks, perverse triumph flavoring her voice.
Well, "hero" might be taking it a step too far.
"And Melody Williams really is a geography teacher," Rory adds. River can only assume this is some sort of inside joke she was a bit late for.
"Archaeology, dear," River corrects him, smoothing down her shirt. Given the circumstances of his discovering what sort of doctor she is, River supposes Rory can be forgiven for being just a touch sketchy on the details, but really he shouldn't say things like that in public unless he has his facts straight.
Rory's eyes are just a little wild. "Right. My daughter's an archaeology teacher, who's also a superhero and is apparently a convicted murderer."
"Not to mention the future Mrs. Doctor, if the way the two of them act around each other is anything to go on," Amy adds, nodding firmly.
The expression (sucked in cheeks and too bright eyes) of indignation that comes over Rory's face at that thought is almost enough to make River laugh, even if his hand is tightening around the hilt of his gladius. She knows that Rory might threaten the Doctor with bodily harm but that the worse the Doctor will ever get is a tongue-lashing and knows from experience that he'll never give Rory reason to whip out that sword for serious business.
The smile River wears now is the primed, ready-for-anything smile she wears into battle and perhaps the other two can sense it because their faces both fade back into confusion and curious grief. "Any more questions?"
"Actually…" Rory pauses, staring at the ground before meeting River's eyes again "…yes." He shrugs and grimaces. "Can we… hug you?"
It has to be the most awkward hug River has ever received, not only because one of the party is wearing armor. Both Amy and Rory are competing for greater room and River can't help but think this would be a lot simpler if they'd chosen to take it in turn; no use telling them that though, she supposes.
When all is said and done Amy looks like a wolf holding back a pent-up howl and Rory seems on the verge of strangling someone—River can guess who the target of his rage is, and would love to see Madame Kovarian's reaction if she ever saw him wearing that face.
Like she's always been taught and always known how to, River adopts a game, unaffected smile.
"Now, I am going to find the Doctor, since I have a fair idea of where he's gone. Who wants to join me?"
Rory and Amy's reaction is immediate and unmistakable. "Me." "Us."
River's smile melts just a little bit. "Well you're both going to have to change first so just hold on to one of my arms like I told Vastra and Jenny and don't let go until I say you can."
This is the last time River gets to see them and have them actually know who she is. She'd have to be mad to not want to make an extended trip out of it.
Savor these last moments before the river starts to flow again and carries me out of sight.