Sort of Companion to On Being a Williams, but that's not at all necessary to read this.
Also, spoilers, because it's River and Rory. So any of River's storyline is fair game.
She stumbles through the door, tear tracks down her face, dressed to the nines. Admittedly, he flounders in the face of that much sadness, that much absolute and terrible pain, and on his daughter's face no less. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened. Or at least who.
He doesn't ask right away. There are more important things, like yanking her into his embrace because he can't do anything else. It's either hold her or find and kill the Doctor and while his preference leans towards the latter, he knows she'd frown on it. So he holds her instead, his hand stroking over her head, drawing wide circles over her back.
It takes so, so long for her to calm down.
"River," he whispers. "What is it?"
His heart clenches when she looks up. "I think I've lost him."
"What are you talking about?"
He knows, of course, in the abstract sense. Their whole back-to-front-but-really-timey-wimey relationship-slash-marriage always does this. It hurts her, so terribly, but he's also seen them both at the height of it. He's seen the beauty of it. He knows the beauty of it.
She moves to the window, looking up at the stars. He wonders vaguely and briefly if she imagines she can see her Doctor in his TARDIS flying through the night.
"He took me to Darillium," she says. "He took me to the Singing Towers."
Rory slides into one of the living room chairs, watching, waiting.
"It was beautiful, Dad," she goes on. "The stars and the Towers and him… I've been bothering him forever about it." She laughs, a sad teary sound. She sniffles at the end. "He cried. Almost the whole time. He tried to hide it, but he's absolute rubbish at it."
That makes him smile.
"At first, I just thought that it was the Towers. That it was us, together, watching a phenomenon so beautiful it hurts. But he couldn't stop. He tried, oh, he tried, but he just kept crying and crying."
She shakes her head and Rory discovers he's half way to standing. He takes his seat again because she can't get through this. She's having a hard enough time holding herself together now, let alone having someone touch her. Let alone having some one comfort her. Love her.
"I don't think I'll ever see him again."
"You can't believe that."
She shrugs, her knuckles white on the window pane.
"River. This is it."
This is her chance, her Amy. The Doctor, the Mad Man in the Box traveling the universe. Rory knows what it's like to travel in that box, knows the wonders there are to see. He knows all about the adventures, all about the running and there's no one better suited to a life like that than his daughter.
Sometimes, he looks at her, sees what she goes through, and wonders how she manages it. He waited two thousand years for the most important woman in the world, would risk the universe and his life again and again and again for what he has with his wife, and he knows without a shadow of a doubt that the same holds true for his daughter. But he can't help but think that maybe they're the most ill-suited people for the mates they've chosen.
Sometimes, he wonders if their loyalty, the undying love and devotion, is a hindrance in their lives as much as it is a thing of utter beauty. It's what causes them the most pain, it's what forces them into the worst situations in the name of those they love. For him, there are warriors, bombs, and yes, radio signals, all in the name of a massive prison-box and the woman he loves inside it. For her there are Weeping Angels and Silence, pain, anger, loneliness, and yet she will go back to him every time.
He hadn't realized they'd gone quiet, nor that he was waiting for an answer.
"We've had all of time and space," she whispers. "We've had adventures children only dream of. I've seen edges of the universe I had never dared imagine." She turns her head, looking at him. "And I've loved. Deeper than I've ever loved; than I will ever love. But Dad, if this is the last time I see him-"
He sucks in a breath. He's not stupid. He's tried to force so much of her life and her timeline aside for his own sanity, but he knows what she's trying to say. If this is the last time she sees him, it's very likely one of them is close to death. Since he's experienced the Doctor's – twice, no, three times, assuming the aborted one counts. And Amy always counts it, so – it leaves one choice. One, terrible, horrible, choice.
He swallows. "What are you going to do?"
"I don't know," she admits. "I've been working at a university, you know. Professor."
That had been one of Amy's tales, long before they'd known who River was.
"There's a man, looking for people to go to the Library. The planet, not the building."
He chuckles. Of course there's a library planet, and of course she wants to go.
"It's been empty for a hundred years. No one knows why."
"And you want to go."
She breathes out, so very slowly. "I don't know what I have left."
There are a million things he could say, but he's not sure any of them would be all that comforting. He sucks in a breath because pain hangs in the air now. Pain of waiting, of the unknown of the possibility that she'll never see him again. It hurts him, because he remembers the same. He remembers a starless British sky, leaning against an old stone while the world fell apart around him, his not-yet-wife sprawled across his lap with a hole in her stomach. He remembers the years and years and years of waiting, of never knowing what he'll get when she emerges.
"You have your memories," he says after a while. He keeps his eyes on hands that have knit themselves together. "You have all the good time, all the adventures." He raises his head then to find her watching him. "You have your diary, River. You have everything, even if you don't have him."
Because while he may have been diary-less for those two thousand years, his memories of Amy are what kept him sane.
"He'll never leave. You know that. And he'll always love you, even when he doesn't know it yet."
"I think we're getting closer to that day," she whispers after a moment.
He knows the day she's talking about. He knows the pain she's thinking about. That moment, that terrifying, utterly heartbreaking moment where she'll look at the love of her life and he won't have the slightest idea of who she is. He won't know what she means to him, what she does for him and he'll have no idea the lengths to which he'll go for her either. They have a timeless love story, but one so utterly tragic.
"It's going to hurt," he tells her uselessly. It's all he can offer because he has his own version. It was the worst thing. In front of the damn prison-box, his drugged fiancée and the miracle of being alive… and then just Amy. A blank, groggy look, a quick thanks for good sword skills and no recognition. Whatsoever.
It'll rip her apart and he sees the knowledge of it when their gazes lock again. Two lonely travelers, waiting eons for the only person in the entire universe that matters. He wants to say they're pathetic, but he also thinks they're rather magnificent.
"What can I do?" he asks, because he hates that he's just sitting here. He'd done that when she was young, when he didn't know where she was and he's not just going to sit idly by now.
Her shoulders lift, then relax. "Have tea with me."
They make it together, in the little Leadworth kitchen. They don't say much, because there's nothing really left to say, and he hates the bereft and useless feeling that invades his blood. He wants to do something, more than anything in the world, but he also knows that when it comes to his daughter, his only child, he's more helpless than a newborn. No amount of knowledge will change the fact that he can't help her.
When the tea is done he tells her to wait, to let Amy say hello, but he knows she won't. She's too broken for this, utterly shattered with the idea of never seeing him again. She's so helplessly in love and it's the most wonderful and heartbreaking thing he's ever seen. He reaches for her, cupping a tearstained cheek in his hand.
"Whether you have him or not, Melody, you love him," he tells her fiercely. It's a deliberate invocation of her given name, a father speaking solely to his daughter, the broken little girl that lives in the badass shell of the woman she's become. "You love him, Melody Pond, because they need us. And we will move heaven and earth just to see them smile because they need us. Not the universe, not the adventure, us."
She sniffles, tears in her eyes again, and nods mutely. She's gone a second later with the smell of burning ozone and smoke and his shoulders slump.
He turns and she's there, with fiery hair and a feistier spirit.
"Was that River?"
He nods moving towards her. He's got a lump in his throat that keeps him from speaking, a lump that tells him he can feel each and every second of his daughter's pain. But he does have his wife and he pulls her close and tight, tighter than he probably should.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
His breath shudders out and he can feel the tears leaking onto her neck.
"Rory, you're scaring me."
"It's nothing," he says, hoping she'll accept the lie just for now. He's not ready to tell her, not ready to put another of River's pains on Amy's shoulders. They already feel inadequate so often, especially with River. Especially with their daughter.
"What did he do this time?" She sounds exasperated, but years of marriage clues him into the tremor beneath. She knows it's bad.
"Nothing," he says again, lifting his head so he can kiss her. He pours so much into it, all of his feelings, all of their shared history. "I love you."
She smiles and it makes his heart just a little bit lighter. "Across all time and space."
So, by the end this got out of hand, and much to my own embarrassment, I actually started to cry about half way through, so I'm not exactly sure what I want to say now that it's completed. Except I'm pretty sure I'm going to tweak this for my portfolio for the MFA program I want to apply to. God, my chest hurts.
In some ways, I'm sorry, I think. I'm sorry if it leaves you in a depressed state of mind (trust me, I'm going to go find me some fluff right now 'cause even though I wrote this, I think it kind of broke me) but I am also happy I've managed to write another little River & Rory piece. I kind of want to make a little series out of them.
Also? I feel like it ended more Castle than DW, but I'm content with it. And Amy might have ended up a little mushier than she should have been. But it's River, so let's pretend she's just as upset and gets all soppy. Yeah? Awesome.
Please do review if you can. I love hearing other thoughts on these two.