Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who
River thought she would go mad. It had nearly been two weeks straight of not seeing anyone but prison guards, the endless buckets of rain pouring outside her window. So when the Tardis blue envelope landed on her bed, she practically dove for it.
Any sort of mail at all was rare. But when it was mail that was obviously from him... She tore open the envelope.
The invitation was quite clear.
Oh, dear, is it that time already? She smiled sideways and looked up, considering the fastest way out of the prison. Maybe she should escape with a bang this time – just for the fun of it.
Footsteps doubled back to her cell and another envelope landed on her bed. This time, it was a white envelope that someone had attempted to turn blue by scribbling all over it with a crayon. River raised her eyebrows. Two messages from the Doctor? And on the same day? Curious, River carefully ripped open the second envelope.
As soon as River read the message, her smile widened. Interesting idea for a wedding anniversary, dear, she thought with a smirk.
River set the letter down, so it could be plainly read by a casual observer:
You know when.
And it should be obvious why.
If it isn't obvious...
Well that's my fault, sorry.
Wibbly, wobbly, and all that sort of nonsense.
Have some fun with it. Don't give anything away.
~You know who (not Voldemort, I have a nose – just rewatched and reread the entire series)
P.S. Don't be too harsh on me.
River chuckled, then steadied herself. Time to put on that face. The actress. She remembered seeing herself on that beach all those years ago, and now the time had come for her to switch roles. Poor Mum and Dad; they were in for a shock. Oh, well, they would figure out the truth eventually. And if they didn't figure it out soon enough, River fully planned on telling them, Doctor's orders or no.
River pulled a suitcase out of her bigger-on-the-inside dresser (courtesy of the Doctor). It was time to get packing.
The guard passing by her cell (Julio, she believed his name was) did a double take and stared at Stormcage's most dangerous prisoner through the bars. He blinked twice, then went into panic mode. He shakily brought the standard-issue walkie-talkie up to his mouth. "Sound the alarm! River Song! She's at it again!" he half-shouted.
Almost immediately, the emergency red lights began to flash and disciplined shouts came echoing from down the corridor.
O o O
River almost felt bad for leaving the befuddled "Time Agent" (obvious conman) on his own. Almost. On the other hand, the idiot had it coming. Jack Hartness needed to learn that when a girl was offering free kisses in a bar like the Almanac, with guns hanging by her waist, she probably wasn't just being extra friendly. (A/N I was thinking of Jack Hartness before he'd met the Doctor)
Satisfied that the young, giggly man would be all right, she set the ship's warp countdown before teleporting herself to the planet's surface two-hundred feet below.
There he was. She smiled widely. The Doctor.
And he was covering his beautiful hair with more ridiculous headgear.
"... I wear a stetson now. Stetsons are cool," she heard him finish with a chuckle. River smirked and drew her pistol.
The thing was shot off his head with a satisfying BANG, causing all three of her family members to jump, then whirl around to see who the enemy was.
River holstered her gun and met the Doctor's eyes with a loaded smile. "Hello, Sweetie."
O o O
"So, where's the Tardis?" Amy asked as the Doctor enthusiastically introduced his rental car.
He brightened. "Funny story. I just happened to land her in an auto-dealership, which just happened to have this remarkable vehicle parked right in front of me. Love at first sight, I tell you," he rambled on with his lie. "Used to have a car, you know – called her Bessy. Good ol' Bessy. I put some modifications on her of course..." Well, at least that part was true, River admitted to herself, watching him with amusement.
Amy was laughing. "You? Driving?"
River narrowed her eyes at that, realization dawning. "You forgot and drove on the wrong side of the road, didn't you?" she asked.
He stuck his tongue out at her. "So what? It's not my fault Americans have it all backward. Here, it's not just me – here, British people drive on the wrong side all the time too. And guess what? I'm extra foreign so I'm doubly excused!"
"Get in the car, Sweetie," River ordered. When he moved for the driver's seat she cleared her throat. He gave her a guilty look.
"Passenger's," she ordered, pointing. "I'm driving."
"Oi!" he cried, trying to look outraged as possible.
"C'mon," Amy said with a laugh, giving him an encouraging shove towards the back seat. "This way you and me can talk."
Rory didn't look too happy with the sudden arrangement. Now he was going to have to cope with being stuck in the front of the car with a gun-wielding mad woman who no one had bothered to introduce him to.
While Amy chattered happily with the Doctor, who was laughing amiably, River watched her father hesitate to climb into the car.
"Would you prefer to drive, Rory?" she asked, offering him the keys.
Her dad blinked. "You know my name?" he asked stupidly.
She grinned. "Oh, I've met you before," she told him.
Rory frowned, struggling with this new fact. "Was it in an aborted time line I can't remember?" he asked finally. It seemed like he'd had a fair share of those. Actually... if he thought about it, she might have been involved in the whole Pandorica incident. His memories as a plastic Roman were still a bit fuzzy though, so nothing could be certain.
River laughed at the irony. "No dear. I've simply met you in your future is all," she explained to him.
Rory blinked. "Oh," was all he managed to say.
"And the name's River Song, by the way," she introduced herself, reaching over the car to shake his hand. He took it gingerly.
"Rory Williams," he said automatically, then blushed. "Well, I guess you already knew that..."
River nodded but told him soothingly, "Don't worry about it. Drive?" she asked again, shaking the keys.
Rory pressed his lips together, then gave in. "Yeah," he finally said, taking the keys. "Thanks."
They switched sides.
"So where are we going, Doctor?" Rory asked, adjusting to being on the wrong side of the car.
The Doctor leaned forward. "To a great diner about fifteen miles up the road. They make fantastic milkshakes," he concluded.
O o O
The Doctor was the first to pull out his diary. River immediately followed suite, preparing to go through with their familiar routine.
"Alright then, where are we?" River asked, flicking through her diary, skipping the portions she knew he hadn't gotten to yet.
"Have we done Easter Island, yet?" she asked eagerly.
"Um..." the Doctor flicked through his black book. Then to her amazement and happiness, he cried, "Yes! I've got Easter Island."
While River reminisced with him, she couldn't help but sadly note that this was the oldest she'd seen him in a while. Oh, the man as her husband would pop up every now and again, but it had been so long... sometimes she wondered if she'd ever see him again.
"Sorry, what are you two doing?" Rory asked as he scooted into the booth.
River winced as she realized just how early this was for him. For Amy.
Amy explained it to him, so knowledgeably, but still not knowledgeably enough. She didn't know the important things yet.
"So what's been happening, then?" Amy asked, looking over at the Doctor. "Cuz you've been up to something."
The Doctor gave the Scottish girl an odd smile. "I've been running," he said somewhat distantly, "faster than I've ever run. And I've been running my whole life." He glanced up at River. "Now it's time for me to stop." River almost shrunk back under his intense gaze. Then he looked away abruptly.
"And tonight I'm going to need you all with me," he said with a fake sense of 'everything's fine' covering his tone. River frowned. He wasn't giving her any side glances, any winks, any hints that he knew she was in on the brilliant scheme of his. Could it be, perhaps, that he believed that she actually thought he was dead?
"Okay, we're here, what's up?" Amy asked innocently, obviously thinking they were off to complete another 'save-the-world' adventure.
"Picnic," he said. "Then a trip – somewhere different, somewhere brand new."
"Where?" Amy asked, excitement building in her expression.
"Space," the Doctor said with a slight smile. He looked over at River. Now that was a knowing look. "1969."
She frowned. What was he up to?
O o O
"Doctor," River said under her breath, grabbing the back of his tweed jacket.
The time lord stopped before he followed the Ponds out of the diner. He turned to face her, slowly.
His eyes weren't meeting hers. He almost looked... nervous.
"How much do you know?" he finally asked.
"I remember all of it," she said honestly.
"All of what?" he asked, with narrowed eyes.
She smirked. "Spoilers, Doctor."
"River..." he said, a warning in his voice.
Her playful mood vanished. "I know you don't actually die out there, Doctor. I know what you're wearing."
His eyes widened, knowing exactly what she was referring to.
"I told you?" he asked. "When? More importantly," he stepped up close to her until their faces were inches apart, "why?"
River narrowed her eyes. "That's a question only you can answer, Doctor, and a question that I ask myself every day," she told him honestly. "But really, Doctor. Didn't you think that I'd figure it out eventually?"
He didn't know how to answer that.
"If you actually died here today, everything in my diary, would be in your diary," she reminded him, waving her little blue book. "But I have things in here I know you haven't done." She gave him a suggestive smirk. The Doctor wrinkled his nose.
He backed away from her. "Fine," he conceded grumpily. "Even after all these years, you still know more than I do."
"Not quite," she reminded him cheerfully. "I can't wait to find out what that Pandorica nonsense is all about."
The Doctor grinned. "Haha! Spoilers!"
River laughed, glad that he was indulging himself. "You better believe it," she said fondly.
The bell at the top of the entrance tinkled as Amy poked her head around the glass door. "Oi! Would you two get out here?"
"After you," the Doctor said, bowing to River, feeling the lightest he had in weeks. Someone else knew his secret. How, he had no idea. But she did.
River sashayed past him and out the door, and the Doctor tried very hard to keep his mind on more appropriate topics.
Amy, catching his wide-eyed expression, smirked.
O o O
"Here, you can take this," the Doctor said absently as he handed Rory the picnic basket. The Roman took it, then grunted as he was forced to compensate for the unexpected heaviness. "And Pond, you can take this," he handed her a smaller cooler.
"What in here?" the Scottish ginger asked curiously.
"Popsicles," the Doctor proclaimed cheerfully.
Amy laughed. "Of course," she said with a knowing smile, then sauntered off to join her husband.
"And then of course, we have to have a checkered- mmft..." he was cut off by a swift kiss from River. He blinked and looked down at her. "What was that for?" he asked, slightly red. "Not that I'm complaining, of course," he hastily reassured her, tugging at his bow-tie.
"For being you," she told him. "For being older than you have been, even if you are a robot."
The Doctor grew still. "Ah, but I can still feel it," he told her, touching his lips. "I did something clever. I've connected the system straight to my nervous system – much more natural movements that way."
"Well then," River said, giving him a sly grin, then grabbed the front of his shirt and hauled his face closer to hers. "Feel this," she breathed on his mouth. Then she kissed him. To her delight, he actually melted into her lips this time, not the less sure kisses she'd been getting from him lately.
They broke apart semi-reluctantly.
The Doctor ran a hand through his hair, his face beet red. "That bad, huh?"
"You've been getting awfully young," River agreed, but she didn't allow any sadness to show on her face. He had enough to worry about.
"I'm sorry," he said honestly.
River waved away his apology. "Don't be. After all," she reminded slyly, "you get to deal with a younger me very, very soon."
"Any warnings?" he asked.
"I like you better with shorter hair," she said cryptically, letting her fingers run down a strand of his hair.
The Doctor crinkled his eyebrows in confusion. "What?"
River grinned. "Spoilers."
He narrowed his eyes, then sighed in submission. "I should have guessed."
"A checkered tablecloth?" River asked, changing the subject. "Isn't that a bit cliché?"
The Doctor smiled at her, whisking the cloth from the back of the car. "You know how I love clichés."
The Doctor examined the cloth and frowned. "No, you're right. We need something a bit different for an occasion like this." He threw the cloth behind him so it landed on the dirt.
River raised her eyebrows.
"Instead," the Doctor said as he shuffled around the trunk, "We'll use... these!" he exclaimed happily, pulling out more colorful blankets. "See?" he proclaimed excitedly. "There are four! One for each of us!"
"How diplomatic of you," River said with a laugh.
O o O
River almost forgot why they were there. For thirty minutes, she allowed herself to believe that this was just a rare, peaceful picnic with her family – the Doctor rambling on about his adventures, everyone making fun of him because he still couldn't drink wine, and a random story about coconuts.
Then Amy had to go and make her nervous.
"Who's that?" her mum asked curiously, squinting in the sun.
"Huh? Who's who?" Rory asked her.
River looked up with a vague interest.
Amy just looked confused.
"Sorry, what?" she asked her husband, shaking her head as if from out of a daydream. River froze. The Doctor looked up solemnly.
"What did you see? You said you saw someone," Rory reminded hesitantly.
"No I didn't," Amy insisted with a slight laugh at her adorable husband.
River glanced over at the cliffs where Amy had been watching. Then she looked back and glanced surreptitiously at her wrist. She winced. There was a tick mark. Her heart sped up. Even after all these years, River was still scared stiff of her kidnappers. It wasn't a conscious feeling, and she hated it. She was River Song, not a crybaby. But still...
Suddenly River wished that the Doctor hadn't invited her.
Some nights, she still had nightmares about killing him, that there had been no parallel world and no teselecta. In those nightmares, she would scream at herself to stop, but sobbing, she would shoot him anyways.
The guards made fun of her the first time they caught her in the middle of one such dream. She hadn't cared at the time, too shaken by the event.
Hopefully watching this over again wouldn't reawaken the night terrors.
Plus, Amy would probably need her. She was going to have to be strong for Amy.
She took in a deep breath and looked over at the Doctor. He was going off about the moon. River smiled at him fondly.
"The moon landing was in '69," Rory remarked. "Is that where we're going?" River grinned. Her father almost looked excited about this fact. Usually, Rory had to be dragged on the adventures, perfectly happy to live a normal, non-explosive life-style. But the moon landing was an important event in human history...
River looked at the Doctor, curious for an answer as well. Finally a topic that she didn't already know about.
But the Doctor only gave a cryptic answer. "Oh, a lot more happens in '69 then anyone remembers," he said, a nostalgic look on his face. "Human beings – I thought I'd never get done saving you."
River gave him a look. Now he was just being melodramatic.
Then the Doctor looked up. A lorry was driving into their small oasis. The Ponds glanced over curiously.
As an older man stepped out of the car, the Doctor stood and lifted his hand in a wave.
"Who's he?" Amy asked, demanding an explanation.
River was curious as well, but now was not the time. A far more pertinent subject had captured her interest. She stood up quickly.
"Oh my God," she exclaimed appropriately.
Everyone whirled around to see what she was staring at. How surreal. An astronaut version of herself, standing in the water. Her breathing was almost more ominous than Darth Vader's.
"You all need to stay back," the Doctor ordered, a crease in his brow. "Whatever happens now, you do not interfere. Clear?"
Amy opened her mouth to say something, then shut it again as he walked away, trusting him.
While Amy and Rory conversed in low, harsh tones, River watched the scene unfold with a sense of apprehension. So this was it? He was going to leave her parents with a mere, "You do not interfere," then go off to and expect them to watch him die?
River rolled her eyes slightly. He probably invited River here to pick up the pieces. She was going to kill him for this.
There was no time-stop this time. In fact, from her perspective this time round, it didn't seem as though anything had happened at all. Her thoughts flickered in confusion then, wondering if her parents would ever remember the aborted time line. It was possible. Amy was the girl who grew up with a crack in her wall, and her father (from some event she hadn't gone through yet) was somehow a two-thousand year old Roman, hence the costume hanging in the Tardis wardrobe.
When the first beam of light hit the Doctor, River winced automatically. Teselecta or no, she hated seeing him like that.
As she ran after a shrieking Amy, she thought with a hint of smugness, He's married to me now.
"You have to stay back!" she ordered Amy desperately, grabbing her arms. There was no way she was letting her mum get caught in the crossfire. As she struggled to haul the ginger back, she couldn't help but be grateful to her father, who was helping her instead of limiting her. She had no idea what she'd do if both of them went galloping down there.
River winced as the Doctor fell to his knees. Did he have to make it such a realistic performance?
She sighed inwardly. Of course he did.
"Doctor!" Amy shrieked.
The Doctor's hands began to glow. River was slightly impressed. How did they managed to pull that effect off? Her one thought of amusement was cut off by a sob from her mother.
River winced. Doctor, you are so dead. Amy's emotions were finally getting to her. Rory's panicked state was getting to her. Even though she knew the death was fake, with the acting and the sense of surreality that surrounded the whole situation, she couldn't help but feel like crying herself.
"I'm sorry," she saw him mouth.
Blast you, she thought at him, clutching onto Amy. Then of course, he would spend the next few years completely on his own (aside from a few visits to a newly imprisoned River), thinking that he would have to isolate himself for the rest of his life.
Idiot! she yelled in her head fiercely, remembering the sadness that seemed to plague him during that time.
When the final shot came, there was no holding them back. So River ran with them, shouting almost as loudly as she did in her nightmares.
She pulled out her medical analyzer, quickly scanning the robot for lifeforms. No one was there. The Doctor had already left in his Tardis.
"River! River!" her mother was begging.
River barely heard her, suddenly considering something. If she could free her younger self from that astronaut suit – kill the power pack before the Justice Department picked her up – then she would never have to go to Stormcage. She could travel around, perhaps with the Doctor, free from the constant rain and thunder that plague her days. The horrid rain.
With a hardened expression on her face, knowing she was going against everything the Doctor told her to when it came to meddling with time, River stood and pulled out her pistol.
She was a crack shot.
River Song always hit her target. Always.
But as her bullets ran out, she realized with a sinking heart that the Doctor was right. Some things couldn't be changed.
"Of course not," River said bitterly. She was going to prison.
Despite her nonchalant attitude, River hated that place. She absolutely despised it, which was why she got so excited every time the Tardis came around, or she got an excuse to leave. The food was horrible. The air was damp and sweaty. The walls were as cold as ice...
Unwilling to think about it anymore, River turned around, preparing to comfort her shell-shocked parents.
"River, he can't be dead," Amy insisted in-between sobs. "It isn't possible."
River slowly knelt beside the teselecta, preparing herself to play her part: convincing everyone. "What ever that was, it killed him in the middle of his regeneration cycle," she said slowly, unnaturally. "His body was already dead. He didn't make it to the next one."
"Maybe he's a clone, or a duplicate, or something," Amy said, clinging to the possibility.
River winced inwardly, knowing her mum wasn't far off the mark. She was going to have to do a better job of convincing them. The Silence had to believe he was dead, or this was all for nothing.
The old stranger who had been watching the scene, finally spoke up. "I believe I can save you some time," he said, shifting forwards. As soon as River caught sight of the gas can, she realized it's significance. Clever Doctor!
The man removed his hat in respect.
"That most certainly is the Doctor. And he is most certainly dead," the man said with a strange lack of emotion. River wondered if he knew the truth. Either that, or he didn't know the Doctor well enough to truly mourn him. Or maybe he was simply resigned.
"He said you'd need this," he said, the gasoline sloshing as he set the can next to the 'body'.
"Gasoline?" Rory questioned, looking as though his brain hadn't quite caught up with current events.
River took in a deep breath and sniffled sightly. "A time lord's body is a miracle – even a dead one. There are whole empires who'd rip this world apart, just for one cell," she said honestly. Plus, it gave them a convenient excuse to get rid of the evidence. "We can't leave him here."
"Or anywhere," she added with conviction, knowing Amy would probably like a grave for her fallen friend.
Amy turned away from River, looking unsatisfied. "Wake up," she pleaded with the Doctor's still form. "Come on, wake up, you stupid, bloody idiot!" Her voice got angrier and more desperate as she cried. Even Rory started tearing up.
"What do we do, Rory?" Amy asked, her tears staining the Doctor's shirt. Rory looked on helplessly.
"We're his friends," River reminded. His family, she added mentally. "We do what the Doctor's friends always do. As we're told," she said coldly, picking up the gasoline can.
"There's a boat," Rory said suddenly, looking inspired. "If we're going to do this, let's do it properly."
River allowed herself a small smile. How she loved her dad.
Amy continued to sob, clinging onto the Doctor like she was never going to let him go: her raggedy man with the blue time machine.
They waited until sundown to burn the body. It seemed more respectful, plus it gave River time to contemplate what they were going to do next. 1969? What were they supposed to do there? Unfortunately, no answers popped out of the sky, and she wondered whether the Doctor really meant for them to go there at all, or if it was all talk.
The biggest surprise, in her opinion, was that the old man stayed to help them. Amy was too grieved to be curious about him, Rory was too upset, and River was just plain distracted.
By the time they had set fire to the teselecta, she had a total of five tick marks on her arm.
"Who are you?" River finally asked him in a low voice, not sure whether she could expect an answer. The flames from the boat flickered in his eyes. "Why did you come?"
"Same reason as you," he told her, a sad smile on his face. He pulled out a blue envelope.
River was mildly surprised, and she pulled out her own, just to make sure. Yes, it was the same. Except... his had a number four on the front.
"Dr. Song," he said, indicating that he knew her from previous encounters. "Amy. Rory. I'm Canton Everette Delaware the third. I won't be seeing you again." River couldn't tell if he was disappointed by this or not. It didn't seem so. Canton looked very resolved. "But, you'll be seeing me."
River's eyes flashed at the promise.
As he walked away, picking up his gas can as he went, River decided that she was probably going to like this American.
Then she started, realizing that she now had a clue.
"Four," she said.
"Sorry, what?" her father asked tiredly.
"The Doctor numbered the envelopes," she told them, wondering if they'd see the significance.
"Did he?" he asked stupidly, still in a bit of a daze.
River nodded emphatically. "What number was on yours?" she asked.
Amy asked in a dull and slightly sarcastic voice, "Can we not talk about this now?"
River looked at her mum guiltily. She'd forgotten for a brief moment that the Doctor's death was still very real for the ginger. "Of course," she said kindly. She looked up at Rory.
"Maybe we should get something to eat," she suggested slowly. "We haven't had anything to eat since..." she trailed off.
"Yeah," Rory agreed dully. "Sure. Whatever. Let's go."
He put his arm around Amy and led her to the car. The sun set completely as River drove them away from the nightmare. Her parents cuddled in the back seat, comforting each other, and she was left in solitude. As she watched them in the mirror, she sighed inwardly, wondering what sort of long road they had ahead of them.
O o O
They pulled into the diner's parking lot and settled into a clear space. It seemed like they sat there forever before River leaned forward to pull out the keys. The engine died with a vibrating rumble.
Everyone let out a long, shaky breath.
Rory was the first to open a door, and River followed suite. But before she got out, her eye caught sight of something on the floor, illuminated by a nearby streetlight.
It was Rory and Amy's invitation. Quickly, she picked it up and confirmed the number on the front: a three.
She hopped out of the car, considering the implications.
Rory shut the door behind him and Amy. He stopped when he caught sight of the envelopes she was clutching,
"Are they really that important, do you think?" he asked softly.
River blinked, surprised that he cared.
"I'm not sure," she said honestly as they walked towards the diner. "They are numbered though."
Amy trudged mindlessly ahead of them while River pointed out, "You got three, I was two, and Mr. Delaware was four."
"So?" Rory asked, not comprehending the significance.
"So, where's one?" River asked.
"What? You think he invited someone else?" Rory asked, realization dawning.
"Well, he must have," River said firmly. "He planned all of this, to the last detail." To the very last detail.
Amy muttered something in the background, but River ignored her, determined to see this through. "He's up to something. Space 1969 – what did he mean?" River asked, mostly herself. She doubted Rory had any of the answers.
"Still talking, but it doesn't matter," Amy said, an annoyed glint in her eye.
"Hey, it mattered to him," Rory said almost scoldingly, surprising River once again.
"So it matters to us," River added, agreeing.
"He's dead," Amy whispered immaturely.
"But he still needs us," River assured her, wanting to get past this deep mourning process. She hated seeing her mum so upset. Maybe if she could get her to focus on something else, then it wouldn't hurt so much.
"I know," River said, trying a different tactic. "Amy, I know. But right now we have to focus."
She was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder.
"Look," her dad pointed. She followed its trail.
Her eyes widened.
A blue envelope.
River ran over while Rory quickly asked an employee who was sitting there. He got a vague response. Number one, the envelope read.
"The Doctor knew he was going to his death," she said breathlessly, picking it up. "He sent out messages. When you know it's the end, who do you call?"
She was pleased to see that Amy had perked up.
"Uh, your friends, people you trust," Rory immediately blurted out, as if they were back in Leadworth playing Trivial Pursuit.
"Number one," she showed them, eyes blazing. This was something she was loathe to figure out, since it wasn't her, but she had to know. "Who did the Doctor trust the most?"
Behind her, a door squeaked open.
At the wide-eyed expressions on her parents' faces, River turned around. She stared. Oh, no he didn't.
The thoughtless idiot! She was going to kill him.
"This is cold," she told him point-blank, not caring if he understood her. "Even by your standards, this is cold."
She could practically feel Amy going into denial.
"Or 'Hello' as people used to say," he said, far too cheerful for the situation.
"Doctor?" Amy finally asked, confusion written all over her face. Oh, poor Amy.
"Just popped out to get my special straw," the Doctor explained, looking slightly uncertain. "It adds more fizz."
River cursed inwardly as Amy circled the Doctor. Now she was going to have to keep Amy and Rory from spoiling everything. Not only did she have a pair of young, grieving parents to keep sane, now she was going to have to deal with a younger, less trusting, more curious version of the Doctor. Absolute hell, in her opinion.
He owed her big time.
"You're okay," Amy said with an insane laugh. She narrowed her eyes. "How can you be okay?"
"Hey, of course I'm okay," the Doctor said, confusion littering his words as he hugged his Scottish friend. "I'm always okay. I'm the king of okay!"
"Oh that's a rubbish title," he decided. "Forget that title."
"Rory!" he went on to exclaim, letting go of Amy. "The Roman. That's a good title. Hello, Rory." He gave Rory a hug, who responded with an awkward pat as he gave River a 'please-explain-to-me-what's-going-on' face.
"And Doctor River Song," his voice lowered, a flirty tone behind it. "Oh, you bad, bad girl. Oh, what trouble have you got for me this time?"
Blast. He was really young. River scowled, thinking to herself, This is for my idiot of a husband who invited you, and smacked him across the face.
"I'm assuming that's for something I haven't done yet," he said lightly, trying not to look hurt.
River knew he was hurt. But she refused to feel sorry for him.
"Yes it is," she said, eyes flaring.
"Good, looking forward to it," he said dully, and almost too quickly.
"I don't understand," Rory said, capturing the Doctor's attention. "How can you be here?" He touched him to make sure he was solid. River winced. The Doctor was going to be very,very suspicious now.
"I was invited," the Doctor enunciated, grabbing his invitation away from River so he could show Rory the proof.
"Date. Map reference. Same as you lot, otherwise its a hell of a coincidence," he said, throwing it on the table.
"River, what's going on?" Amy asked her, suddenly realizing that the Doctor was being of no help whatsoever.
River jumped at the chance, pleased that she was getting an opportunity to help them understand. Hopefully not much would be given away.
"Amy, ask him what age his is," she said, nodding at the Doctor.
"Bit personal," the Doctor quipped.
"Tell her," River said, wanting to get this straight. "Tell her what age you are."
"909," the Doctor said, looking slightly affronted.
"But you said-" Amy said, not having arrived at the conclusion yet. River had to keep her from saying anything more.
"So where does that leave us? Eh?" River demanded, interrupted her mum. She was looking at the Doctor, but really she was asking his future self, What the hell do you want me to do now, Doctor?
"Jim the fish? Have we done Jim the fish yet?" she asked, for her parents' benefit. She hoped at least Rory would be quick on the uptake.
"Who's Jim the fish?" the Doctor asked with a bit of a smirk.
"I don't understand," Amy said, shaking her head.
"Yeah, you do," Rory said, enlightened.
Thank you, Dad! River screamed at him mentally.
"I don't!" the Doctor said loudly, a frown in his eyes. "What are we all doing here?"
None of them knew how to answer that one. River went through a list of her means of getting revenge on him (her him) next time she saw him. If there was a next time...
Realizing that he was staring at her for an answer, she said quickly, "We've been recruited. Something to do with space, 1969. And a man called Canton Everett Delaware the third." She said the name slowly, hoping he'd recognize it.
"Recruited by who?" he asked.
She wished he were up close so she could smack him again.
"Someone who trusts you more than anybody else in the universe," she said, not missing the irony.
"And who's that?" he asked, completely clueless.
River smiled slightly and sighed as she used the word she was beginning to hate, "Spoilers."
"Gets me every time," he muttered.
Damn. Now he's angry, she thought loathingly, wishing he were his future self. This was going to be a long night.
O o O
The walk to the Tardis was an awkward one. It wasn't silent, with the Doctor asking the Ponds how they'd been doing ever since he dropped them off, and relating his most recent exploits with a dramatic flair. But this time, his enthusiasm was slightly off. In fact, River was sure he was seething inside.
If there was one thing the Doctor hated, it was a mystery. And when it was a mystery that obviously upset his friends... That's why his entire life's work involved solving mysteries, so he wouldn't be in the dark.
River herself was a mystery. But he let her lay low because he knew he'd get all his answers before the end.
This situation however...
River knew he wasn't going to let this one go so easily.
He was rambling on about something. River wasn't even paying attention – she doubted anyone was. Instead, she was watching Amy, who had been silent ever since the diner. Basically, the ginger had no idea how to go about dealing with this.
After the Doctor walked up and said something directly in her ear, the Scot lost it and stormed down below. River shook her head as the Doctor tried to draw her in and followed after the poor girl, hoping to have a talk with her.
"Explain it again," Amy pleaded, her faced scrunched in concentration.
"The Doctor we saw on the beach was a future version, two-hundred years older than the one up there," she said slowly, and noted that the footsteps coming down the stairs belonged to her father, not to her husband – or future husband, in any case.
"But that's still going ta happen," Amy said despairingly. "He's still going to die."
"We're all going to do that, Amy," River answered with a slight smile.
"We're not," Rory exclaimed, "all going to arrange our own wake and invite ourselves."
He had a good point.
"So, the Doctor," Rory continued. "In the future, knowing he's going to die, recruits his younger self and all of us to... to what, exactly?" Of course he looked to River for the answers. River wished she had them.
"Avenge him?" he suggested.
River immediately shook her head. Not only was that ridiculous simply because he wasn't dead, it also was something the Doctor would never do. "Avenging's not his style," she said.
"Save him," Amy said, eyes wide, sure she'd hit on it.
"Not his style either," Rory muttered. River agreed.
"We have to tell him," Amy said suddenly, hope rising in her heart.
"We've told him all we can," River said, hating the situation. How was she supposed to convince Amy the importance of this? The Doctor would figure it out eventually, but it would be dangerous for him to know everything so soon. "We can't even tell him we've seen his future self," she drilled into them.
Amy gave her an incredulous look.
"He's interacted with his own past. It could rip a whole in the universe," she said.
"But he's done it before," Amy said, trying to convince them.
"And in fairness, the universe did blow up," Rory said lowly.
River smirked. She couldn't wait to get to that one.
"But he would want to know!" Amy said, frowning at the fact that both the expert and her own husband were against her.
"Would he?" River asked immediately. "Would anyone?"
Then the Doctor had to surprise them by hanging upside-down and announcing, "I'm being extremely clever up here, and there's no one to stand around, looking impressed. What's the point in having you all?"
River's face bounced between annoyance and amusement. "Couldn't you just slap him sometimes?" she asked aloud.
"River," Amy said, something in her voice made River pause. "We can't just let him... die. We have to stop it. How could you be okay with this?" she demanded.
"Do I look okay to you?" River wanted to ask. Instead she voiced her honest opinion. "The Doctor's death doesn't frighten me. Nor does my own."
Amy and Rory gave her strange looks.
"There's a far worse day coming for me," River said, almost bitterly. It wasn't fair, watching them get to mourn, while her own mourning process – the process of losing him to his younger years – was far more drawn out and painful than the one they had to go through.
"Wha...?" Amy began to ask, but River turned abruptly and began climbing up the stairs. She felt somewhat comforted by the concerned face of her father, but was glad he didn't say anything.
"Time isn't a straight line," the Doctor declared as they filed onto the main platform. "It's all bumpy-wumpy. There's loads of boring, like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays – big temporal tipping points when anything's possible."
River could feel the hurt radiating off him. She actually wished she could take back that slap now. In fact, she resolved to be slightly nicer to him, her sad and lonely time lord.
"Tardis can't resist them, like a moth to a flame," the Doctor continued, stepping closer to River in order to reach a lever. She gave him an encouraging smile, but it didn't reach her eyes. "She loves a party so I give her 1969..." and he dotted River on the nose with his finger, causing her to miss half a sentence.
"...and Canton Everett Delaware the third!" he exclaimed. "And this is where she's pointing." He flicked a dial. River walked over, curious.
"Washington, D.C. April the eight, 1969," Amy read aloud from the scanner. "So, why haven't we landed?"
"Cuz that's not where we're going," the Doctor said, and if she hadn't been paying attention to the screen, River would have noticed his quickly darkening persona.
"Where are we going?" Rory asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Home!" the Doctor declared. "Well you two are – off you pop and make babies. And you Doctor Song, back to prison," he wonked her on the nose, causing her to pay attention.
She blinked and looked over at him.
What was he saying?
"And me, I'm late for a biplane lesson in 1911, or it could be knitting," he said. River's eyes widened as his nonchalant tone disintegrated into sarcasm. Oh, dear. "Knitting or biplane, one or the other..."
River walked around the console cautiously, fearing what they were about to come in contact with. The Doctor was sitting in the chair, legs crossed, and his head in his hand.
"What?" he demanded. "A mysterious summons. You think I'm just going to go. Who sent those messages?"
River closed her eyes and slowly opened them again. She hadn't seen him this annoyed in a very long time. She swallowed, preparing to answer.
"I know you know, I can see it in your faces," he said. "Don't play games with me. Don't ever, ever think you're capable or that."
"You're going to have to trust this time," River said, not willing to let him insult them simply because he was in the dark for once.
"Trust you?" he voice turned bitter. "Sure."
She stiffened as he rose from his chair and took a few steps towards her, with a menacing look in his eyes that River had never seen aimed at her before. "But first, Doctor Song, just one thing," he said. River gave him a blank look. "Who are you?" he asked.
She clenched her teeth.
"You're someone from my future, guessing that, but who?" he continued on, with that dangerous glint in his eyes. When he didn't get an answer he said, "Okay. Why are you in prison? Who did you kill, hm?"
Why are you interrogating me? she pleaded inwardly, hating this. The unknowing look in his eyes, the hate – not directed at her but the mystery behind her.
"Now I love a bad girl, me," he said, "but trust you?" He hammered in the final nail. "Seriously?"
It took all of River's pride and self-worth to not break down crying. He knew he was hurting her. He knew. She could see it in his eyes. He wanted to hurt her. He knew that his future self trusted her with all his being, but he didn't care. The Doctor was feeling too hurt himself to care, so he took it out on the person he knew the least.
"Trust me," Amy said.
River thanked her mother inwardly, if only for distracting that penetrating gaze.
"Okay," the Doctor said, semi-reluctantly, turning to face the Scottish girl he'd befriended all those years ago.
"You have to do this," Amy said emphatically. "You can't ask why."
"Are you being threatened? Is someone making you say that?" he asked, wanting to know.
As River took in another shuddering breath she decided that the Doctor already knew. Even at this early point, the Doctor already suspected that River played a role in his death. And of course he was brilliant. He had probably already pulled a lot of it together. He knew they had just watched him die.
She sighed tiredly. No wonder she'd been on the receiving end of such black looks. He thought they'd just come back from watching her murder him. She shuddered when she realized, for the millionth time how close that assumption had been to being a fact.
"You're lying," the Doctor decided.
"I'm not lying," Amy scoffed, insulted.
"Swear to me," the Doctor demanded. "Swear to me on something that matters."
Amy gave him a hurt look, searching his face. Finally she let out a small smile, seeing the man in there she knew, even if he was hurt and lost. "Fish fingers and custard," she said with a nod.
There was a long pause, but River knew he was going to take it.
"My life in your hands," he said, confirming River's assumptions that he knew about his death, "Amelia Pond."
When he walked away, River saw her mother's kind expression drop into one of grief. Obviously she was frantically thinking that she must have failed the Doctor, somewhere along the way – in the future. He had trusted her with his life, and look at where it got him?
"Thank you," River said seriously, feeling a bit of grief herself. It was happening again. Another bit of her Doctor had dropped into time. And she was left alone.
O o O
I'll probably continue with the rest of the episode... after I've seen the Seventh season. I still have no idea whether River knows what that fake TARDIS is. Plus, there's something else that's bothering me.