A/N; SPOILER ALERT! This fanfiction contains major spoilers for the episode 'A Good man Goes to War.' Please do not read if you haven't yet seen this episode. I would hate to spoil a something potentially important. Also contains more mild spoilers for the first couple episodes of the season. In any case, if you haven't seen season 6, I'm not sure this piece of writing will even make a hint of sense.
This is a pretty angsty and quite sad story, and of course I know that. That's sort of the point. Episode seven, as much as I enjoyed it, left me with a strange feeling of doubt and, and the next day I started writing this. I initially imagined that all of the main characters would be permanently effected by the events that took place. I later rethought it and realized that of course in the fall we will likely see a happier end of some sort. Still though this was a piece begging to be finished.
Disclaimer; I don't own Doctor Who or it's characters. Nor am I making any money from writing any of this. I wouldn't want to. I just like borrowing the characters once in a while.
The chilly October wind whipped dry and orange leaves across the cool grass and into the neat and tidy stone path leading around the edge of an iron fence. It was right next to this fence and on the path, that the TARDIS materialized. The loud noise of something that might have sounded a bit like the grinding of some strange sort of engine, struggling to start on too cold a morning that accompanied it, went unnoticed in the lonely and silent place. With a small muted thump it came to rest firmly on the ground and once again all was silent.
The Doctor stepped slowly from his ship, and it was the little bang of the closing door caught by the wind, that broke and silence next. He heard the crunch of leaves under his foot as he took a quick forward step, and he looked down for second at the ground. He took another step and looked to his left. He had, he now understood landed very close to the gate, which sat open for visitors, and close to a little wooden bench next to the walking path. Above the gate following the curve of a metal archway he read the words 'Leadworth Civil Cemetery.' Relieved somehow at the familiarity of the place despite the obvious dismal and somber feelings so often associated with cemeteries, he started to walk in a direction away from the gate.
He wasn't sure whether or not he should have been surprised when upon rounding a bend slowly, he saw a man kneeing close to the same grave he had been looking for. The Doctor stopped for a moment waiting to see if he may have been noticed or not, but quickly decided to proceed forward, closer to the other visitor.
The man, an older gentleman in roughly his mid sixties, with a heavy grey coat pulled around himself comfortably against the wind, sat for another minute without moving and looking down at the headstone in front on the grave site. The Doctor followed his gaze and read the words carved onto it, though he had read it before on a few occasions. 'Amelia J. Pond-Williams. Always remembered. One day we shall meet again.' There was a set of numbers to that indicated the years of birth and death and above everything there was a simple engraving of a little angel holding a harp. The other man finally looked up, but said nothing. He barely reacted at all. He just sort of stared calmly upward.
"Rory Pond," the Doctor said with a good hint of seriousness. "Great to see you again."
The man in the heavy coat gave a small laugh of surprise, and then slowly got to his feet with a thoughtful expression of his face.
"So many years later than I should have," he said slowly, "I realize that you must know such little social protocols far better than you pretend to."
The Doctor rocked a bit on his heels smiling at nothing in particular. "Of course I do."
"I imagined so. It would be so hard to be that clueless and yet know so much about so many things. Amy often used to say that you were just doing it to get a reaction."
"Some of it, yeah I suppose I was," the Doctor admitted seriously. "But at the same time, I'm not human. There were always a few things that I never could get quite right."
"I find flowers here once in a while, left on Amy's grave. Not very often, but often enough to notice it. Once last year and a couple times the year before that. Once the year she died, shortly after she was buried here. I asked around a bit but none of our family has any idea who left them. The strange thing is that they are always left here in flower pots or small planter boxes. Doctor, did you do that?"
"Well then... thank you. Thank you for remembering her. I never thought you would remember us after so long."
"Of course I remember. I remember everyone."
"I'm sorry to see she's died," the Doctor said after a momentary silence. "I imagine it's a great loss to you."
"Thank you," Rory answered and meant it. "And yes. Her death was hard of course. Such an unexpected thing. She was only fifty-eight. That's not all that old even for us humans. Today would have been our fortieth anniversary. I know I should be satisfied with the time we had but I suppose I just expected longer. We'd always dreamed of a huge sixtieth anniversary party one day, of growing old together, and traveling all over Europe after we got to retirement."
"I never was able to find out. How did she...?"
"Die? We're actually not sure how it happened. I was at work one day four years ago and a neighbor phoned me. He explained that he'd found her lying in our garden. He'd rung for an ambulance of course but it was too late. She was dead when she reached the hospital. The best guess anyone has is that she may have had a bad stroke, at a time when there was no one around to get help soon enough"
It was only after another even longer pause that Rory spoke up again. He pulled on the drawstrings of his coat to pull it tighter as the wind picked up it's angry whine and begun to look as though it might soon start to rage.
"You knew the date when you came here today?" It was as much a statement of known truth as it was a question.
The Doctor nodded slowly, but said nothing.
"So you must have known it was Amy's and my anniversary. Why come here today of all days? You could be anywhere in time and space."
"I was hoping I might run into you here," the Doctor admitted slowly.
"You and Amy left so fast I never had a chance to make sure you were both alright. Were you? Was she?"
"It was just a bit much," Rory explained. He chose his words carefully. "More than just a bit much actually. Amy wanted out. She just wanted to go home, and of course I was happy to do whatever she wanted to do. It wasn't just fun and adventure and saving the world anymore."
"Things got so out of hand so fast," the Doctor answered, sadly. That was far from a statement worthy of anything, but he was lost for anything anywhere close to fitting. Tears filled his eyes and he looked at the ground, hoping they would go unnoticed. "I've traveled so long and so far. I so rarely bother to look back. I just try to keep on running. But I do remember everything, even when it seems I've forgotten. I can recall so many losses that my friends have suffered over all those years, and some have seemed so great. But never before you and Amy, have I have had friends who have, due to in part to my involvement in the situation, suffered the loss of their own child."
"Doctor... It wasn't your fault..."
"Wasn't it? Maybe not entirely, but I know none of this would have happened had I only listened, only payed more attention. I should have known that something..."
"We later had a second child," Rory said only trying to make conversation. A boy, we called Steven. He's thirty-one this year. An auto-mechanic."
The Doctor's expression brightened. "That's wonderful news."
The wind died down and the two stood outside in the fast improving weather. Rory smiled a proud father smile as he looked for and finally found a photo in his wallet of his son at the time of his high school graduation.
"Doctor," he said finally, after a few minutes. His tone turned back to one of complete seriousness. "Whatever became of Melody? I know you must know what happened to her."
"I'm not sure I should really tell you..."
"Doctor please. She was... or is... my daughter. I think I have a right to know."
The two of them began to walk slowly towards a bench beneath a nearly bare oak tree. The sat down on it, and the slowly and carefully began to explain.
"I chased after her of course. The organization that had stolen her had time travel capabilities as well and she ended up several years ahead of me within only days. The thing about time travel, as you know so well, is that it's never an exact science. Trying to find one specific baby in all of time and space is a difficult task and I never found one at all. In the end I found a much older child. All along I'd intended to bring her right back to you and Amy if I could, but we'd crossed over so many timeliness her and you no longer existed within any logical relation to each other time wise."
"It was much by chance, and very likely with a little help from the TARDIS that I found her in the nineteen sixties. She was eight years old then. She was lying in an unban back alley somewhere in America, nearly unconscious on top of some old compressed cardboard boxes. Her body was giving off a bit of a yellowish glow and I knew then that somehow I'd found the missing child. It was obvious she had very recently regenerated. How about that, hey? She can do that. Yeah, I was pretty shocked too."
Rory only blinked his eyes once in surprised disbelief and for a moment the Doctor read both wonder and dread on his face. He went on with his story.
"She woke up when I scanned her. She said she wasn't scared. Just tired. She said that she didn't know me but she knew somehow that she was supposed to. I carried her back to the TARDIS and let her sleep for a while. She was fine. I don't know how she did it. I may never know, but somehow she escaped from a life that had up until not long before been one that I can barely think about even now."
"I think I saw her once back then. We all did. That strange young child in the spacesuit? Of course back then it made no sense. It had none of the true significance it holds now."
The Doctor nodded slowly. "Yes, you're right. The time-streams were a bit out of sync though obviously. No doubt partly my mistake, but yes, you did see your child as an eight year old before she was even born in your own time."
"What happened next?"
"She'd been injured in the street and had lived in hiding for weeks out there before she finally came close to death. All that would be so much for any child to go through, but after
she'd told me her story she just asked with such curiosity if she could learn to fly the ship one day."
"I took her with me. It was the only logical and right thing to do. I pretty much became her care-giver of sorts. She learned to read the language of my home, and quickly took interest in pretty well any book on the subject of the Time Lords, that she could find on board. For awhile she had a pretty little pink and white bedroom on the TARDIS just like the one I thought you might have wanted for her. She wanted to see everything and go everywhere. She used to beg me to take her to exciting places like I had taken her parents to. She knew all about you. I told her everything as soon as I could. We went places I suppose a child probably shouldn't go, but she was always safe and she always loved it. A child as a companion was not at all what I might have wanted at one time, but with this child it worked. She picked up confidence early and was so sure she could do anything. I never had to tell her when to run. She'd be off before I could say a word."
"It's still strange to think that I knew her as an adult and I never for a second knew who she really was. River... or Melody, was, or is, so much like you, but also so different," Rory mused slowly. "It's like she learned to be herself by watching you, if that makes any sense at all. And it's so hard still to think of them as the same person. How could I have seen my own child both as a newborn and as the woman she became in the same day!"
The Doctor laughed a little. "I wouldn't even try to work all that out. It'll just make your head spin."
"Who was it that she killed? I just can't imagine ever really coming to terms with the fact that mine and Amy's own child eventually goes to prison for murder. "
"I honestly can't say I know that yet. The time lines are still a bit confused and some of it in the wrong order. That event is still my future."
"Okay, I think I get what you mean about making your head spin."
The Doctor gave another casual laugh, trying hard to disguise the seriousness of the moment. Rory went on speaking, shifting gears again. "So where are the two of you now? In terms of the time line I mean."
The Doctor leaned forward for a moment to pick up and look at a leaf that had blown into the edge of the bench. "Well, on this day, I am 924 and she is twenty-seven. Funny how the years seem unstable at times. I had to think about that for a second. I even confuse myself. She still travels with me, but I recently told her she should see the world a while alone. I know she soon leaves to do that. I've seen her already, older and independent, charting her own course. I'd love for her to have her own adventures before she really makes up her mind about... well about everything in life."
"You can meet her if you want to. I left her in London in 1923. She loves that era. I left her to explore for a while. I told her though that I was coming here today, and she asked if she could meet you. You've met her several times before of course, but it would her first real meeting with you. I told her her mother has died already, but still she wants to know who her father is. River... or Melody... I'm sorry - I haven't used your name for her in so many years now. She doesn't use it for herself either - is always so curious about her family."
He fell silent for a moment and then after a slight laugh at his own thoughts he spoke again. "I have to admit, in all truth the thought of turning her loose in the world alone, telling her to keep in touch and trusting that she will find me again when she wants to scares the life out of me sometimes. I've seen her future. This is the woman who isn't afraid to jump from buildings blindly trusting that I will catch her!"
"Life is such a funny thing really," Rory reflected thoughtfully. "I think it was form you all those years ago, that I really learned that. It's so full of possibilities and ways that any possible event can shape an entire future. As I've come to see it, life is filled with smaller stories all contained within one much bigger story."
"That's an interesting way of looking at it. Never really thought of that before. Good one."
"Thank you. And yes, of course I'd love to meet her."
The wind picked up once again, and the leaves begin to blow across the ground with increasing furry. The sky started to darken, and when it had begun, it happened so fast. Looking up at the cloud cover both men knew they would have to leave soon and get to somewhere out of the coming storm.
"Tomorrow is the day I tell her I love her," the Doctor spoke slowly and carefully as they walked slowly toward the gate. If he was concerned about an angry or in any way protective response that isn't what he got at all. Rory instead only looked at him with confusion clear on his face.
"So this is the day it all really began then?" he said calmly and with slight amusement. "I always knew it happened somewhere along the way. Long ago, before everything went bad and we all mostly just had fun and saw the universe, I simply assumed she was your future wife. I thought so little of it really."
"But knowing now what you do... Understanding who..."
"Do you still think it's all wrong somehow?"
"She's the child of my best friends..."
"And you think that somehow that makes her off limits? Doctor, while I do have to admit this whole situation, the thing with losing the baby right up until today has been unbelievable, I also have to see it all for what it is. You are the last of your kind and River, well she's something different entirely - something brand new and the only one as far as we know and hope. Somehow it seems fitting that you two would find each other." He looked toward the TARDIS, seeing it for the first time in so many years and admittedly surprised to find that it was just as he remembered it. He was going to comment on that but he did not. Instead he just looked back at the Doctor and said, "she's so much like you. Obviously her approach to getting things done is very different, but that aside it seems to work."
"I came here today half expecting to get shouted out, blamed for events of years ago, forced to face that it all all my fault and then asked politely to never speak to any member of the Pond family again, River included," the Doctor said honestly.
"We were both so angry at first. Amy and me, I mean. When we first went home to pick up the pieces and start our lives over again, we were both so filled with so much rage and confusion that we couldn't even find the words to talk about it. Not that we could have talked anyway. Amy didn't want to even think of anything related to you, or the baby, or anything outside of this little town. For the first week after we got back she said barely a word and I couldn't get her to get out of bed most days. She was so confused and depressed and filled with a mother's grief that she couldn't or wouldn't eat and I worried she might die. She once told me that she hoped she did," Rory brushed a stray tear from his eye as he thought back to times long ago. He forced himself to keep speaking. The Doctor, he reasoned had every right to know and understand what had happened to his best friend.
"At first I blamed you. I thought, quite unreasonably that it was somehow all your fault and that my own wife might die simply by giving up, because of the things you had failed to stop. I tried going out and drinking too much only once in that time, but I caught myself and it never happened again. My father used to drink and drink until the day he died. I vowed I'd never be that way. Amy stared to get a little better. She took a job at a nursing home. But she was so full of anger and bitterness. She said she practically hated you several times in the first couple years. That made me so sad. You were always her childhood hero, and somehow hearing her talk that way made me think her innocence had been crushed beyond repair."
"She slowly got better though," he continued quickly. "Things always get better eventually. She was happier after Steven was born. I guess he gave her, or both of us really, a real meaning in life. Anyway, you might be glad to know that Amy started to talk about you on a happier note in the few years before she died. She remembered everything from a wider perspective, and that helped a lot. I think she started to remember then that things had not always been nothing but terrible and tragic. She's forgiven you. I think it's important for you to know that."
"I don't think I will ever feel like I deserve such forgiveness," the Doctor said. He looked at the ground with sadness in his eyes. "Nevertheless, it's a great relief to understand that I was forgiven.
Rory looked at him for a long moment waiting for the sudden and most uncharacteristic display of honesty about that type of emotion to fade away. Finally he asked boldly, "Doctor, was my little girl alright after you managed to find her? I know you said she was physically fine but what about emotionally?"
"Of course she wasn't alright," the Doctor spoke with shocking and yet very much needed directness. "She'd spent years terrified and confused and only aware that she was a weapon to destroy someone she never knew. She barely understood that she was a human being,and yet she found herself thinking and acting how any human child would. Much worse, she could barely remember any of it from minute to minute. It was only in the last few years that she stopped having recurring nightmares and yelling that a spaceman was coming to eat her."
He paused for a minute and a look of sudden realization came over him. He spoke again, this time much slower. "At least I hope they have stopped. Or perhaps she's just stopped telling me anything about it, because she's older now.
Thunder rumbled through the sky, and within seconds lightening flashed and on its heels came another much louder bang. The gate began to bang against it's supporting structure, as the wind picked up it's speed even more. The Doctor looked for a moment at his former companion, with a strange expression of relief and yet at the same time, of such great sadness. The two of them began to run for the cover of the ship, the moment the sky begin to spill torrents of rain over their heads.