1969. Just like he had said, minutes before death, on a blanket in Utah. And now, here she sat, in an executive's office (of a certain shape) carefully perusing tattered maps that spanned the entirety of this unfamiliar country.
It was still all a haze. Both memories of that horrible day at that nauseatingly placid lake. Her brain and an alien suit had pulled the strings of her memory the first time; her heart and an antique gun, the second. What River saw in her head was only a dizzying echo of what actually took place.
It just so happened that the perplexed, sticky web of life and memories was no longer the only thing making her ill.
Suddenly, the woman saw her mother wander around the office, pale, nauseous, and disoriented; it was just another reminder of her own…condition. And the unsettling fact that she had somehow managed to cross her own time stream, unbeknownst to her until this very second.
"Amy?", she asked, voice elevated and tightened with concern. The fire-haired woman muttered something to her husband about feeling sick, and was escorted to the restroom by a stoic, yet obviously reluctant guard.
River had at times considered the possibility of this happening, but of all the times to meet her pregnant mother, who was currently carrying River's first self, now was it. It was frighteningly coincidental. Neither of the two women showed any sign of impending motherhood; Amy was as lanky and as slender as she was in her Kiss-O-Gram days (give or take a few pounds), and River's waist still remained nipped in at the sides. But over the past 8 weeks, River's queasiness had begun to snowball on itself. Amy had had to have been in the same circumstances.
Her attention turned toward her daft manchild, researching mysteries that had already been solved, mysteries she could barely remember, only he just didn't know it yet. That determined, impossible man, fawning over map after map, with a thin strip of brown hair hanging adorably over his face. It always did that when was thinking ferociously. And in this instance, he was. He devoted the same passion and veracity to this task as he usually did to her, but these were early days, and clemency was easily given. He was so beautiful this way, so dedicated; so brilliant.
She hadn't told him yet. The future him. Even with 200 years of experiences treasured and knowledge gained, she still wasn't sure if he could handle the gaping hole of responsibility the couple had managed to dig for themselves. She was terrified he would lock the doors to his blue box and stay in that mechanical cave, away from her, and the child, until the storm of obligation and adulthood passed.
It's not that she didn't have faith in her husband. River just had accepted that this was bigger than any run, or adventure, or near-death the two had ever experienced together. This could be bigger than all the stunning events of the cosmos.
From the depths of the tunnel, she could hear her father indignantly whimper, "Hang on, River. I'm coming too…," but only barely. The heavy moldy air and rancid smell of decay was overloading her already heightened senses. She could barely see or hear, given the fact it felt that her stomach was being turned inside out. She doubled over in illness, breathing heavy to try to alleviate the nausea as fast as she could. Rory could have no idea as to what was going on; he didn't even know he was a father yet, let alone a grandfather.
Uh-oh. Too late.
"You okay?," he asked her, a tinge of urgency in his voice.
She slowly resolved herself, and managed to quickly weave an excuse ("It must be the prison food"), all the while wanting to scream,
No, this is just your grandchild leeching off every bit of energy I have left. It's lucky I love that damned alien, that crazy one upstairs, so much.
So much so, that she was willing to endure the biggest journey of her life alone if it meant keeping his adventurous spirit and this existence he treasured intact.
For three months, she managed to hide away in a small Greenwich apartment characteristic of the mod-style most of New York embodied in 1969. The Doctor, her future Doctor, her husband the Doctor, would visit often to whisk her away for whimsical lovely days and sultry domestic nights. But he still had no idea. River's earrings, necklaces, pendants, and any other miniscule articles of clothing had been outfitted with perception filters. Her body was the sleek form it had always been…with the exceptions of the nights she slept alone.
Whenever their child would kick or bounce within her, testing its boundaries (perception filter or not), her brain would immediately radiate with a mixture of indescribable anxiety and love. She couldn't deny the attachment she felt to her baby, or the fear of her husband's naiveté and ignorance of the situation. At nights, lying in bed, she would slowly remove her filters from her ears or her wrist, and her body would transform from a sensual hourglass figure to the maternal roundness of a five-months-expecting form she was so unfamiliar with.
Looking down at her swollen waist, River would feel the time child lightly brush and kiss against her mind. Her eyes would take on the glassy sheen of scared and guilty tears. She wanted so much to love this child, to be a mother. But as the Child of the TARDIS and the Doctor's Wife, her life couldn't allow any moving room for such a nuclear situation.
And River was still River.
And she would still jump off rooftops, even at six months pregnant, surrounded by beasts she wouldn't remember. But there was still one leap of faith she refused to take; telling her strange, wonderful family the truth.
They had overtaken the Silence, unsurprisingly. The victory celebration had dwindled, and everyone went back their normal (which was an obviously subjective statement) lives. Still, River tried to avoid her husband, even at the expensive price of utter self-loathing. The guilt pangs inside her seemed to grow as much and as fast as the baby did. All she thought she needed to do was hide away during the last three months of her pregnancy in peace.
That desire proved to be of some difficulty. Between looping the feed of the prison shower cameras (nobody needed to know she was really as big as a planet), and suspicious looks from guards at her new waddling demeanor, she was exhausted, and ready for the ordeal to be over. Above all else, she just wanted to tell him. Tell him without feeling the tidal wave of guilt and fear of practically shoving such a heavy burden into his arms. She was a grown woman, and an incredibly strong one at that. She would manage. Or at least that was the mantra her mind forced her to repeat ad nauseum.
She kept in contact with an extremely discrete colleague from University, who would routinely check up on the hybrid child, making sure everything was developing normally and was healthy. It was on one of these visits she heard the strong four heartbeats of her growing time lord. Of their baby. And not just their baby, but their son. Their son, who was a beam of hope for a decayed race. Their son, who would probably be as brilliant, as eccentric, as adventurous, and as wonderful as his father. The air of Reality hit her like a pile of painful bricks, and cracked her apparent indifference, revealing the vulnerable core of anxiety and affection underneath that she had tried so diligently to hide.
That night, she cried herself to sleep for the very first time, clutching her womb as she did.
He was tired of her neglect. Almost every other day, he would get a note on his psychic paper, so much so that, "Sorry, sweetie, on a dig. X," was almost imprinted on the back of his trousers. His own wife refused to see him, and he was apprehensive. She could have been injured, or worse…there was another man. Maybe he just loved that damned criminal so much, that he felt the sting of loneliness without her telling him how to fly his ship. And with an angry grunt, he jolted the lever downwards in one fell swoop, because the ship already knew where it needed to go.
And she was there, recording the events of her day, when her eyes doubled in size at the melody of a blue box and the aggressive footsteps that followed after it.
"Well, dear, I'm glad you haven't fallen into The Void, considering we haven't seen each other in over two months. Where the hell have you been?"
He was angry, and that was something she was far from expecting. He was very angry. She refused to look him in the eyes.
"Well, sweetie, you know I've been busy," she confessed proudly, even though tiny tremors of shock leaked into her voice. She tried to keep her hands busy while she spoke, flittering here and there, making up the bed, just to distract herself from the cloud of dishonesty that was beginning to choke her. She plopped down on the mattress and offered him a weak smile.
"You're lying. The TARDIS has your records. You've been here everyday."
"You're not my father, you know. Surely you'd respect Rory more than to keep his daughter in your paranoid cage, monitoring every step I take," she bit out, the guilt ringing in her ears louder and louder.
"What, I can't be worried about my wife, a woman who dives off a fifty-floor building and steals ancient illegal time travel devices, just because she can? You are incredibly naïve sometimes, Dr. Song," he casually and smugly leaned his right shoulder against the bars, sonicing the lock.
"Oh, you're one to chide me! Me, naïve," she scoffed, "you are just a silly nine-year-old boy in a madman's body! I don't give one good damn if you miss me, or worry about me, or what-not. You see where I am, where I've been the past two months, so just go back to your beloved "Sexy". Actually, I don't care where you go, just as long as you leave me be." It took her a moment to realize she was screaming at him in the tiny cell. These hormones were quite powerful.
"I'm sorry, I'll leave you to prison. Forgive me for dedicating one cell of my brain to your well being." He stomped out of the cell, and slammed the door shut. She flung herself onto the bed with all the force she could muster and opened her diary.
As the Doctor turned back to make another biting remark to his wife, he noticed the thick sheets of black and white paper that had fallen out of her prized blue book.
River couldn't manage to put them back before he noticed.
"River, what are those?"
"Nothing. Bookmarks. Now go home." Damn it, she would never be as good of a liar as the beautiful man that stood before her.
"River…those are," his eyes crunched together in thought, "sonograms. 21st century. Medical…the kind they use for babies." He opened the cell, and cautiously stepped back inside.
"Uhm, yes. I'm studying 21st century healthcare technologies. Very interesting." Her eyes never left the pages.
He cocked his head to the side, his eye growing wide in wonder, "They have your name printed on them, your birth name. And there's a perception field in here. I'm a Time Lord, darling, there are things I can sense. I thought I was wrong, but," he hesitated, "River, you're not telling me something; something important." His voice softened, and she finally looked up at him with languid, teary eyes.
Her hands reached up to her face, her fingers slowly lingering against her jaw, and with a resigned sigh, she removed her earrings.
Her figure changed, her stomach rounding to the large mound it had become. Her hands roamed over her belly, shielding it from her husband's wide gaze.
He gulped loudly, mouth dry. "River…you're…we're…you're pregnant. Our baby," he lifted a shaking finger towards her abdomen, "is in there." She was afraid the man's eyes were going to fall onto the prison floor.
Tears began to make tracks down River's cheeks. He slowly took his place beside her on the mattress and gently placed a gangly and loving arm around her shoulders.
"Why are you crying?," he whispered, using his thumbs to wipe away the tears.
"Sweetie, you're the renowned Doctor, the warrior, the healer, and I'm a universally acknowledged murderess, tell me where can a baby boy fit into this insane life of ours?"
It was then that he placed her hands in his, and placed them over his hearts.
"Melody Pond, my beautiful River Song, did you think I would ever even possibly wish to abandon our child? This impossible son? I've wanted to belong to something meaningful for centuries, to feel complete again, and I can't think of a better way than this." He placed both hands over River's middle, and then pressed his lips to hers with all the love that had almost filled his hearts to bursting. He beamed when he felt his son kick against his palms. She leaned into his touch, and they laid in each other's arms on the tiny prison cot, making up for the space neglected for so many months.
And as he sang a gentle telepathic lullaby to their beautiful boy, a smile spread across her face, and for once in her life, she had the pleasure of being mistaken.