It was raining when he got there. He ended up taking the long way through the gardens, prolonging things, pushing away the moment he knew it would happen. The gardens were beautiful, and he wondered if Amy had had a hand in designing them: the plants and vases were artfully arranged, and the sunflowers were as bright as fire, even in the rain.
He went inside.
Amy's room was on the bottom floor, in the quietest corner of the old, old house. The Doctor stopped at reception first, signed the book for Amy Pond, and introduced himself in a whispered tone.
"Mr Song," he said. "John. John Song." Unnecessarily, "Doctor Song." And then he hated so much that he'd done that.
The lady on reception looked up at him. "That's a nice name," she said sadly. "Relation?"
"Her son-in-law," the Doctor said.
The lady nodded at him. "Melody's husband?" she asked.
"Yes. That's me."
"Tell your wife to get here soon, okay?" the woman said,
"She's on her way," the Doctor said.
He walked down the corridor to Amy's room. Her name was on the door- Amelia J Pond. He went in. Things were ending like they had began: there was a crack in the wall.
Amy looked up at him with sharp and saddened eyes.
"I knew you would come eventually."
The Doctor crossed to her bed. She was wearing a skirt and blouse- the nightdress, the boots, all the costumes of the young adventurer were gone- but she was the most beautiful thing in the room. "Hello, Amy Pond."
Amy reached out like the Ghost Of Christmas Future pointing to Scrooge's grave. Her finger stopped at the crack in the wall. "That one's not your doing," she said. The Doctor waited. "Or the universe's. When Rory died- when Rory died and I knew there was nothing you, or me, or anyone could have done- I reached out and I punched that wall. Ironically, that was the last display of strength I'll ever see."
The Doctor reached for her hand, and she pulled it away. Not angrily, she just moved it.
"My husband barely recognised me, in the last few months," she said. "He walked up and down thinking he was back at the Pandorica, guarding me. He used to talk about all these great battles, great battles he fought in. Sometimes he'd go back to normal and we'd talk." There were tears in her eyes, glimmering but not falling. "Two days before he died, he said you'd come to see him, when he was sitting out in the garden. That when no-one was looking, you went up to him and...spoke. He couldn't understand it. He kept forgetting who you were. He thought you were a doctor- a real doctor."
"I'm sorry," said the man who now called himself John Song, "I'm so sorry."
"You haven't even done that yet, have you? One last paradox. Where is my daughter?"
"Look after her," Amy said, and her voice trembled. "Please look after her."
"Today's the last day. The last day before I die. That's the only reason you would be here. You were there for my childhood and there for my adulthood and now you're here for my death."
"I can go," the Doctor said brokenly.
The Doctor moved to take her hand again, but first he had to ask for the painful truth. "Was I there when Rory died? Amy, was I?"
"No," she said.
"Melody was there, and I was there. That's more important." A pause. "I do forgive you- I honestly do. You gotta know that." She allowed him, at last, to take her hand. "And me, Doctor? When do I die?"
"I don't know the exact time. I just know it's today, and it's peaceful." As Amy looked up at him, he considered his own deaths- the real, the fake, and the imagined. "Amy Pond. A normal death. It's what you deserve, what I wish I could give you all."
Amy smiled. "You saved the world, you saved me, my husband and my daughter. And you still wish you could do more. Please remember that, next time the Dream Lord comes calling." She coughed. "Melody tells me you made a new friend."
"Is she nice?"
"She's very nice, but I didn't bring her. I thought you might not want me to."
"You really are a pillock," Amy said, and coughed again, more violently this time. "Well, tell her hello, and good luck. Maybe she'll remember me from my modelling days. Check out the far wall."
The Doctor had noticed the multiple frames there as soon as he had walked in, but now he went to examine them more closely. There was a photo of Amy in an African village, surrounded by children in new and well-made clothes; there was Amy and Rory in Egypt; Rory and River in New York. An older Amy opening a school; an older Rory clutching an award; a faded photo from the wedding- he himself was in the background, smiling away. There was an article about a new charity- Tired Of Waiting - and there were Amy and Rory at the launch-
"Tired Of Waiting."
"I made a fortune," Amy said, proud and rightly so. "No way it was all gonna go on shoes." The Doctor turned to look at her. She was staring through him, lost in memory. "Me and Rory set it up together. We started off going to poor villages, all over the place, Rory with nurses and doctors and me with clothes and food. We got a whole team behind us. Turned out there were a lot of people tired of waiting- tired of waiting for the world to change."
"It's magnificent. Oh, Amy."
"Our slogan is, 'No More Children Crying'."
The Doctor took her in her arms and kissed her forehead. Amy smiled as she closed her eyes. "Not a bad legacy to leave behind, is it?" she said.
"You've done more than even that."
Amy coughed again, hard enough to make her jerk forwards. She groped in her pocket for a tissue. "Doctor, I want to see Melody now. Is she coming? Is she coming soon?"
"I don't feel so well. This is how it ends, isn't it?"
"It doesn't really end, Amy. I don't think so."
"Will you remember me? Really, will you?"
Someone was coming down the corridor- the Doctor heard the click-click-click of heels and then, at last (he had quietly feared that she wouldn't come) his wife entered. The Doctor knew as soon as she entered that this was completely Melody, not River: she was wearing a t-shirt. Wearing a t-shirt, carrying a handbag- she looked so different. She had neglected to arrive with him not because of deadly aliens, or space plague or prison- but because she had been dealing with the house, the will and the charity. To think, River Song doing something so human!
But her eyes were the same.
"Doctor," she said. "Doctor- just give me a minute with my mum, okay?"
"Yeah," the Doctor said. "Yeah." He squeezed Amy's hand and stood up. He wasn't sure what to do with Melody- he went to kiss her, and to his surprise she accepted it. He went outside, waited a few seconds, then remembered the other thing he had to do. He opened a window, climbed out, and ran to the TARDIS. As Amy was dying, he fled.
Then he arrived. The sunflowers- the same sunflowers- were still there...
Rory Pond was seated under a canopy, in his wheelchair, staring out. The Doctor flashed the psychic paper at the nearby staff and approached Rory, old Rory with the long grey hair, and then he turned back to the TARDIS, about to fly madly down to New New York and return with a cure for dementia. But he knew he couldn't, it would throw the world off its axis. He sat on the grass by the old man's chair, took his hand- Rory didn't withdraw it-
"It's me. Remember me? You were so young when I saw you last."
"I remember you," said Rory. "The Doctor, Amy's Doctor."
"Not just Amy's."
"The one who left," Rory said, "The one who married Melody. Where's Melody, Doctor? Where's our baby?"
"She's here, Rory. I just left her." Rory blinked. "I mean, she's on Earth. She's coming tomorrow. She told me."
"But the baby," Rory said.
"She's all grown up now."
"But the baby."
The Doctor said nothing, he couldn't. For a long time he sat in silence, thinking about things.
"Are you here to take me back to the room?" Rory asked suddenly. "My wife's there. You're the doctor, right?"
"Yeah," the Doctor said sadly. "That's me."
"Amy's been having trouble with her throat. Can you maybe look at it for her?"
"I can send someone to do that, any time," the Doctor said, and he figured he might not get another chance to say it. "But...I just wanted you to know, I came to tell you. That you were important, and you were loved, and in a weird roundabout timeywimey way you were actually the closest thing I'd had to a father in a while. And you were a good one. You were a very good one. Melody will tell you the same. That's all I wanted to say."
Rory stared at him with eyes the Doctor recognised as being centuries old. Older than him. "Well," he said, and then he blinked. "Thank you. I'll tell Amy when I see her..."
The Doctor nodded. He squeezed his shoulder and then started to walk. Amy was just a wall or two away, he wanted to see her too, but he couldn't now, not when he was literally just about to see her die. He walked and Rory called after him, his voice echoing slightly and so old and hoarse, "Doctor. Tell me this is real? There's been so many realities and so many...things. Is my daughter real? Is Amy?"
"Yes," the Doctor said, back to his side. "They're real. So are you. All of you, you beautiful weird family, you were some of the realest things I've ever known."
"I've died so many times," Rory said. "I want it to be for good now."
The Doctor just nodded, and considered that statement. Then he put his hand on Rory's hand, but the old man's gaze was far away. "Amy really needs someone to look at her throat," he said at last. "Can you send someone down, one of the nurses? I'd do it myself, but my memory's not what it used to be, or my legs or hands or anything really."
"I will," the Doctor said. One of the carers was walking across the lawn. "I've gotta go now."
"To see Amy?" Rory asked.
"Yes," the Doctor said sadly. "To see Amy."
In the Doctor's timeline, Amy and Rory Pond died virtually on the same day-
He returned forty-five seconds after he had left, to hear Melody calling "Doctor!" He entered the room, and Amy's eyes were closed, and she was slumping. He grabbed her hand-
"Amy. Amy Pond. Amelia!"
Melody was standing to one side. "Where have you been?" she demanded. "I've been calling for you!"
"I went to see your dad, I had to." Amy stared up at him.
"Rory?" she said to the Doctor. "Mels...Melody."
"Shhh, Amy. It's all okay. It's all alright, you did it. My Amelia." He caressed her face.
"Mum, I love you," Melody said fiercely.
Amy fixed her gaze on her daughter, opened her mouth, but then she was gone. The Doctor felt it, felt her fade.
"Melody," he said. For some reason it didn't even occur to him to call her River. His wife just looked at him, looked at him so sadly, and something in the room started beeping. The Doctor heard someone else running down the corridor, some real doctor-
"Let's move out of the room," he said, and they did. He didn't look back, he had never looked back at anybody. River grabbed his hand and they almost ran-
Outside, when it was over, they sat on a wall. River took out something from her handbag and lit it, and it took a second for the Doctor to realise what it was.
"It's a leftover from when I was Mels."
"Relax, they're an invention from the Sisters Of Plentitude themselves, perfectly harmless."
They sat in silence and finally the Doctor brought it up.
"When Rory died-"
"It wasn't nice, no," Melody said, and the Doctor knew she would never mention it again that he hadn't been there, that she would resent him for it a little deep down, that the love powerful enough to stop time and doom the universe was actually a normal, human, better love these days. "But you did go to see him, a few days before?"
"Yes. All he talked about was you and Amy."
Melody smiled sadly and took her TARDIS-blue diary from her bag. "I don't even have to say it at this point, do I? Spoilers." She cradled the page and didn't let him see. The Doctor knew she was writing Amy's death date in there. And slowly, for her, the deaths would pile up...
"Do you think you'll see them again?" he asked her.
"You're the last person in the world who should ask someone that question. You know both of us could drop in on them now?"
"Do you want to?"
The silence went on for a little longer. River was the first to stand.
"I want you to take me on holiday. Somewhere far away and pretty. Okay?"
He let River lead him into the TARDIS. She took her place at the console, but the Doctor took the screen. Painful memories were reforming themselves.
"Hey," he said to his wife. "Would you live forever if you could?"
"Probably not, no."
"Even if you had all the knowledge in the universe at your fingertips, and other people to talk to, and pretty much anything you'd ever want?"
"Well," she said, and her fingers brushed against her diary, "it would be great for a while. But only for a while. Immortality's a curse, anyone could tell you that. Doctor-" And he looked down as she looked up. "Don't do that to Amy. Don't do that to my parents. Whatever you've got planned for them, don't do it. You can't keep people around forever, my love. Everything has its time, and everything dies."
A long silence passed between them as the TARDIS fell through space. "I won't," the Doctor said, and River watched him for a while and then turned away. The Doctor hit a few buttons on the screen and examined a profile of the Library. Extinct as of 53rd Century, his TARDIS told him, sun expanded, destroyed it. The vast impossible computer was gone, those inside it were gone, River's echo was gone.
In the Doctor's timeline, Amy and Rory and Melody Pond died virtually on the same day.
"I know," he said to River, and also to the universe. The TARDIS spun through space until it was a speck against the stars.