Author's Note: So I got back from vacation two days ago, and of course, staying true to my word, I just had to update. So, are you guys excited about all the Comic Con stuff? I know I am. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter.
The ginger, the blonde and the nose huddled around the flickering screens.
Amelia shushed Melody, placing the baby over her shoulder and bopping her up and down as if to placate her.
"Hey, hey, it's okay, Mummy's here." Her voice softened, and she pressed a gentle kiss to her daughter's skin. Rory Williams cleared his throat. "And Daddy, too." She shot her husband a playful look. "Speaking of which, now that you've had a feed, I think I'll let him take you." Shifting Melody, the young woman transferred her to Rory's arms.
Beside the couple, Rose cradled River's daughter, trying to comfort the other crying infant in the room.
"Rose…you've been taking care of her for a while. Do you need a rest? Cos I wouldn't mind, I mean, I love babies and all. Or do you—do you think River might be upset?"
It took Rose a moment to process Amelia's words, but she quickly dismissed her friend's concerns.
"No, no, River would be fine with it. I…I guess if you—if you want to take her for a bit, that'd be okay. But you've been taking care of Melody—so you might not…I mean…"
"Oh, I don't mind. Come on, give her here." In seconds, she held River's baby in her arms—who was, unbeknownst to Amelia, her granddaughter. "Now you can pay more attention to what's going on at Torchwood. I know you're worried 'bout them."
"We all are." Dr. Williams commented quietly, his gaze also focused on the scenes in front.
Huddling River's baby to her chest, Amelia found herself soaking in the little girl's features. Her vibrant blue eyes flickered open and closed, and she'd stopped crying. Strange. Melody never calmed down that easily. But they'd said this baby wasn't human, right? Maybe that was it.
But the more she stared at that infant, the more she felt a mysterious connection to her; the baby hardly resembled Melody, and yet, she did; her eyes were the same, only bluer, deeper, as if they could bore straight into Amelia's soul. Oh, that sounded ridiculous- she had to be imagining things.
"I think she likes you, Amelia." Her husband grinned, patting her arm encouragingly.
And then, to worsen matters, River's daughter almost smiled (could a baby this young smile?) after hearing the sound of Rory's voice. Weird. What had River been called? Melody Pond? Could it be? No, just no, not possible.
She couldn't quite bring herself to contemplate that next thought, so instead she listened to the noises coming from the screens.
"Is that Dr. Smith—I mean, the Doctor?" Amelia asked, noting the blazing intercom and the frazzled guards. "What's he on about?"
"Oh, who knows? He's trying to intimidate them, to get them to hand River over. Not sure that's gonna happen though." Rose's gaze locked onto the shot of the jailed River.
The human Doctor babbled on.
"You're trying to lure the Doctor here. Oh, come on, I'm close enough aren't I? Same memories—to a point, mind. Same face—well, used to be the same face. Anyway…well, I'm here to tell you that it won't work. Not without me. There's no way you'd have the capabilities of getting the Doctor's attention without help from someone who has the inside scoop. Who's been there and back. Who remembers it. So, how 'bout we make a bargain? I'm a very negotiable man, after all. Why don't you just release Dr. Song, and take me instead-"
"Oh, God, he's gonna try to offer himself in her place. Don't be stupid, Doctor, come on!" the blonde yelled to her distant husband, her hands trembling. "He better be bluffing!"
"… Face it, you haven't got another option. Because let me tell you, I have a backup plan—one that I will faithfully execute should you decide not to comply. Either you choose to let Dr. Song go and let me get you what you want, or I go through with my very-special, top-secret plan which must not be mentioned under any circumstances? What'll it be?"
"Does he really have a 'very-special, top-secret plan'?" Ever-sensible and now slightly doubtful Rory interjected.
" Yes. Maybe. Probably not. He's just rambling on until he figures out what to do. That's why he was going on about all that…it allows him to think and work things out. That's how the Doctor tends to operate. If he doesn't have a concrete plan by now, I'd imagine he has at least the beginning of one. And…oddly enough, haven't seen or heard my dad, so I'd say that might tell us something…"
"But do you think it'll work, Rose? Whatever it is; whatever the Doctor's doing. Will he be able to save River? That's why he came there in the first place, yeah?" Amelia reasoned.
"I'm not sure he'll have to…" Rose declared softly, mouth agape.
"What do you mean? I thought…Oh."
"Oh." Rory mimicked his wife.
Their eyes lingered on the screen Rose was pointing to, and more importantly, the empty cell that shown mid-center.
River's body ached with every movement, but she forced to herself to fight the pain, for her sake, for her daughter's sake, for her husband's sake—the rambling Doctor had given her the perfect opportunity to escape—and she wasn't about to let that go.
Slipping out of her cell had been the easy bit—she always kept an extra gizmo on her (in places that no one would ever know to look), and she'd repeated a process she'd used hundreds of times at Stormcage.
While the men guarding her were too mesmerized by the voice on the intercom to pay River any mind, she'd very slyly entered the nearby corridor.
Now, scampering down the hallway, River pondered her options. Well, first off, she had to get as far away from the guards as possible before they realized their 'helpless prisoner' had (not so) mysteriously disappeared.
From what she could hear of the intercoms, the Doctor was still biding his time, making statements like, "Come on! What'll it be?"
Where do I go from here? I can't go straight to the Doctor can I? Wouldn't that be too obvious? And I don't exactly know where he is, anyway…
Biting her lip, the curly haired woman fought this sudden wave of indecision.
River followed the noise.
"Pssst. Over here." The whisperer beckoned River's attention, and she swallowed hard, registering the man's unfamiliar face with suspicion. "River, I'm Rose's dad, Pete Tyler, head of Torchwood, and I need you to come with me right now." He annunciated those last words urgently.
Grabbing River's hand, Pete dragged her down the corridor, accelerating with every step; a pace that sent a thrill through River.
"Wh-Where are we going?"
"You'll see. I won't say because you never know if someone might be listening."
River had to agree with that reasoning, so she remained silent for a while.
Her heart pounded in her chest, and she could feel the blood rushing to her head as she breathed heavily.
"You okay?" He asked before thrusting them both inside a very-unlikely door. Without her Time-Lord sense, River doubted she would have ever realized it was there.
"Oh, I'm wonderful. Love a good thrill, me."
Oh, wow, I'm starting to sound like my husband…
"Yeah, well, I wouldn't exactly call this a thrill." His tone filled with seriousness.
"So…are we just going to stand around here? Surely we haven't got time for that!"
"I know, I know. But this is the one place I can think of that they wouldn't know about. It might buy us some time."
"What's the Doctor up to? Is he around? I'm guessing not." Even if he wasn't her Doctor, he was enough like him that River had no trouble predicting his behavior.
"No. He's elsewhere. Sent me to get you."
"Did he really expect them to just hand me over? These people utterly loathe him; they were hindered by the Cybermen apparently, and blame the Doctor for not saving their families. They've built up quite a hatred."
"Yeah, that's not surprising. And no, he fully expected you to make it out on your own. I have to admit, I had my doubts, but you seemed to manage that pretty well." Pete admitted, a bit frazzled by this strange woman.
"Well, being locked up in the most highly secured prison in the universe on a day to day basis tends to do that. And I just so happen to be an expert at escaping. Among other things…" River spoke with a breezy confidence.
"How much has the Doctor told you about me, Pete?" She lightened her tone a little.
"Just that you and your daughter are from his and Rose's universe. And you're somehow part Time Lord like him. And something about you being the Doctor's wife?" He cocked a brow. "And apparently you're also in prison? How does all that work?"
"Oh, believe me, dear, my life is far too complicated to explain in the time we have. But those are the basics, yes. Now, what's the plan…if there is one yet…which, knowing the Doctor, is doubtable."
"I'm not entirely certain; he seemed to still be debating ideas when we showed up…"
"Great. That's a big help."
"I know, right. Can't stand it when he's like that."
"You and me both. If the Doctor hasn't got a plan, then I'm afraid we'll have to form our own."
"Maybe I should just get you out of here, that's what we came to do after all."
"No, not yet. There are things we need to sort out first. I need to retrieve my Vortex Manipulator, or else I fear I may never have the means to get back home. And I'm hoping the Doctor is doing something about these Torchwood maniacs because they're the type of people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. This isn't going to be easy…"
Sucking in a breath, the man in the bowtie tried to regain his footing after that unexpected encounter with his wife.
He felt his daughter squirm, her tension clearly mirroring his own.
The baby whimpered.
"I know, you miss Mummy, so do I. But I'm afraid Daddy is having a bit of a tough time figuring out what to do." The Doctor sighed, leaning his back against the TARDIS console. " 'Bad Wolf,' she said. 'That's the key,' she said. But how can that be? The void between the worlds was sealed forever, I made sure of that the last time I—well, doesn't matter; there's no way a person could go into one universe and out of their own now. It's just not possible. I—I don't…I don't understand."
His green-tinged eyes stared into the vacant space where his wife had been only moments before, and he battled a wave of pain, one that severed his hearts and weakened his already-wobbly legs.
He fingered the air, closing his eyes briefly and picturing her face in his mind—those beautifully aged features, those wonderfully golden curls—
You are always here to me.
"River, please. Come back to me. I need you." His voice sounded desperate and pitiful, even to his own ears, but it was a plea straight from his hearts.
Sensing his sadness, the TARDIS hummed, hating to see her thief in such torment.
The ancient man slumped his shoulders, defeated, dejected.
His precious daughter tugged at his bowtie, as if trying to get his attention.
"What? What is it?" He listened to her little sounds. "My pockets? Why would I need to check my pockets? Okay, fine, don't get all cross with me about it…Look, I'm sticking my hand in my pockets and holding you with the other…but I really don't see why…Ooh…what's this?"
A small piece of paper slipped between his fingers and he pulled it out, surprised.
"Where did this come from…"
Once again, he heard his baby mummer seemingly unintelligible sounds that only he could decipher.
"What? I put this in my pocket when I put you to bed the other night? It was in your cot? Oh, right. I vaguely remember…but I'm an old man, dear, and it's not my fault…I've got an awful memory sometimes. And don't you dare say I told you so!" He stopped a beat. "Really? Was that really necessary? You take after your mother so much already. Not that that's a bad thing. It'll probably bode well for you that you don't get stuck with my chin…among other things. Babbling again, aren't I? Sorry. Daddy's very bad at that. Ask Mummy. She gets quite annoyed sometimes…she…I mean. Sorry. Never mind." His voice lowered to an empty whisper.
He shuffled the note in his hand, grabbed Amy's reading glasses off the console, and fastened them firmly to his face.
"Hmmm…Let's see…what do we have here…" The man in the bow tie examined the message, growing hopeful when he recognized the handwriting. "River…she wrote this…"
And silently, he read his wife's words— the words his hearts so desperately craved.
'Sweetie, I'm writing this because you told me to. A future you, I mean. I'm guessing you just found this in your pocket somewhere (don't make that face, dear, I'm your wife, I know you too well). You don't really recall picking it up, and that's intentional; I've asked the Old Girl to conceal it until absolutely necessary. A la a perception filter, you might say.
I know how worried you must be right now, how confused. I hid the pregnancy from you, and that's something that was very difficult for me. I won't try to explain my reasons right now (you'll have a lot to discuss with younger me, I suppose). Just know that I love you, and I'm very sorry to have put you through this.
But, the thing is, Doctor, younger me needs you. And don't misunderstand me on this—you mustn't let the me that's in the hospital know you're here. Because that will undo everything. You can speak to her while she's sleeping, give her—give me, the hope that I needed then, but she can't consciously know that you're there. I'm sorry. I had no idea you knew; no idea you were there; not until later when I realized. I thought I was alone, and that terrified me. I was desperate—desperate to protect our daughter and ensure that Kovarian and the Silence never found her.
So, that's why I fled, with our daughter and my Vortex Manipulator. I didn't even type in the coordinates properly. I didn't care where we landed; I just wanted to keep our daughter safe. Well, I can't say I expected it. But I ended up in an unfamiliar hospital. They told me they'd found on a place known as Bad Wolf Bay…I know you must be wondering how that's even possible, and trust me, Sweetie, I had wondered the same thing. It seems the cracks in Mum's bedroom wall may have stretched further than we thought.
That's all I can say (or so you told me), the rest is Spoilers, Honey. There are things I wish I could tell you, but I have to let you live it out yourself. You're quite a clever boy, Doctor (isn't that what Clara always calls you?), and I have no doubt you'll know what to do. Just this note alone is proof of something, which you've probably already realized (so I won't spell it out for you).
I have faith in you, my love. I know you'll make the right decisions. You always do. Well—almost always.
Whatever you do, Sweetie, don't give up. Keep going. It's not going to be easy, but then again, when is it ever with us?
Take care of our baby while younger me's sleeping. She needs all the love she can get from her Daddy.
I love you.
Note: Hope you enjoyed it. I think that River's note was my favorite part to write...and guess what? I may finally know what River and the Doctor's daughter's name is! But I may go all Moffat on you in that regard. Thank you for your continued support of this fic.
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Have a fantastically brilliant day!