Obviously, spoilers for Angels Take Manhattan.
Just something I wrote quite quickly after seeing the episode. I cried when I saw it, and even more as I write this. It's fairly short, but it's just an acknowledgement of a relationship I wish we'd seen.
It's never possible to mistake that noise. A wheezing, a grating; a handful of fallen leaves are blown down the street, whirling, before falling, strewn, in front of his door.
The noise slowly dies down; but it's been heard. He rushes to the window, and stares out; it's there. A blue box, taller than he is, in the middle of the garden. As if it's always been there. He cries out, joyful; and quickly runs for the door.
The TARDIS slowly opens. A woman steps out, one he's never seen before. Then a man; and the man he knows. And though he's never seen that look on his face before, he knows what the expression means. It's as if the world around him had just fallen away.
No one else steps out the machine. He stares, he hopes: but there's no one.
Wordless, urgent, he continues to run forward: he would have barrelled straight through the two, had they not stepped out the way. And just as silently, he enters the TARDIS, unfazed by the interior size. He glances from side to side, searching, desperate.
"Doctor-" he spins around, turns to the man. You promised, you said… Words fail.
"I'm sorry, Brian," he says, voice cracking.
Inside, now. Brian collapsed on the settee, partly desperate to hear what had happened, and partly afraid.
It was the woman who spoke first; Brian looked up at her, frowning. Who was she?
"I can't tell you to not be sad," her eyes were dry; he didn't understand that. Her voice was sad; her eyes dry. "No one can. But please, trust me on this: don't regret what happened. They didn't."
"Who are you?" He spoke, his voice somehow empty.
How could he trust her words? A stranger turning up with the Doctor; a replacement? Had he just forgotten them? If they were… Wherever or whenever they were, he couldn't take the word of a stranger on how they felt.
The Doctor had broken his promise. He said that they'd be safe, and said they'd always be fine. And now, it seemed they weren't.
"I'm your granddaughter," the woman spoke, and took all the force of his protestation away in an instant.
Perhaps he didn't want to believe her; but he couldn't deny it. No reason to lie, and no way she would. Not like that, at least.
Something else he hadn't been told. Amy and Rory had a daughter; one he'd never met. There was so much of their life he didn't know about. So much he'd missed.
"Melody," she spoke again; his granddaughter. Wow. He should be feeling happy: but that was impossible, now. So she was called Melody. It was nice to know something about her.
"What-" Brian tried to speak, before finding his voice too hoarse. Moments later, he tried again: "What happened?" He felt useless.
Melody and the Doctor looked at each other for a moment; they seemed unsure. Or perhaps hesitant: they had to tell him, though. He found himself practically willing them to do so. He needed to know.
"It was in Manhattan," the Doctor began, and his voice was somehow different. Rougher; every other time Brian had seen him, he'd been running around, hyperactive and ecstatic. Now it was almost as though he was broken.
The Doctor's voice was low, and hoarse. Sad, unquestionably. And so much more. He wasn't thinking about his words: he was recounting, dumbly, thoughts elsewhere.
His manner made it worse, Brian reflected: the Doctor seemed to normally be perpetually happy, or if not happy, then at least purposeful. Now, there was none of that.
"There's a species, Weeping Angels. Creatures that feed off time energy: if they touch you, they send you into the past, to live your life," the Doctor caught his breath; inhaled. "And die of old age."
He was struggling. It broke Brian's heart, almost more than the story he was telling.
"One touched Rory," the Doctor said, in a rush. Brian froze: his son. "And I couldn't follow him in the TARDIS, I just couldn't: time was too distorted. They'd been feeding there for so long, there wasn't any way I could follow. He was stuck in the past: Manhattan, early twentieth century."
Not dead, was Brian's first thought. Then: but dead now. That was decades ago. Maybe even a century. He wouldn't have lived this long.
He'd lost his son.
Tears came to his eyes, and he didn't have the strength to wipe them away. So he sat there; just sat there. Still. Listened to the Doctor.
Could there be more?
Melody sat beside him; and sat close, putting her arm around him. He leant sideways; placed his head on her shoulder. She might have been as old as him, and yet the knowledge that she was, somehow, his granddaughter, helped.
He wished he'd known her.
"Amy," the Doctor began again; and Brian again caught his breath at that. Amy as well? "She didn't want to live without Rory. Without gorgeous, clever Rory. She let it touch her. And…"
Brian looked down. He felt as though he'd see tears on the Doctor's face: he didn't know if they were really there, or if the alien even could cry. Still, he didn't want to risk it. The sight would be unbearable.
"They were together," it was Melody who spoke. Brian didn't look up to see her; he shut his eyes, tears falling softly as he tried not to shake. Her hand pulled him closer, comforting. "In the end. Early 1900s, Manhattan, and together. They lived to be eighty. More than eighty; and they were happy. Don't doubt that, grandfather."
He wanted to say something, so much: but he couldn't. There was nothing to say, and his throat had constricted; he couldn't speak. If he tried, he'd only sob.
So Brian Williams lay there, head resting on the shoulder of his granddaughter, and cried. Melody held him; supported him with her arms, now embracing him fully.
He couldn't comprehend what they were telling him, not fully: it hurt too much to try.
He'd never see his son again. In every way, he'd been dead for years. And Amy, his daughter-in-law who was so much like a real daughter to him; she too was gone, and had been dead for years.
They were gone. Out of his life. He'd never see them again.
Thinking the words didn't do his feelings justice.
"I'm sorry," he heard the Doctor sit down, and heard the alien's voice fail.
And Brian could do nothing but be held by his granddaughter.
Hours later, and his eyes and cheeks were still wet.
Now outside: the TARDIS a matter of steps behind him. Manhattan, 2012, a graveyard.
The Doctor and Melody were some steps behind him; letting him have time alone, or letting themselves have the same. Regardless, his thoughts weren't on them: his thoughts were on the stone before him.
It made it seem so much more real, somehow. Their names, their impossibly large age: engraved on grey and unfeeling stone.
In loving memory. His son, and his daughter. Older than he was.
He'd never thought he'd ever experience this. A parent seeing the death of their child. The boy he'd known, and helped raise; the child who he'd help try on bow ties for Amy, and who he'd looked after, and raised. And now he stared at Rory's grave.
He still couldn't see it. Couldn't comprehend it. What was happening?
"They've gone," he tried to say the words aloud: he succeeded, but they felt wrong.
Or maybe it was his voice that was wrong. Jerky, tearful; empty. "They've gone," he tried again, before almost falling over: he reached out with one hand, and supported his weight on the gravestone. "They've gone," he sobbed openly, futilely repeating the same two words.
Melody and the Doctor approached him; supported him further as he shook. "They've gone." He cried, his whole body shivering.
Tears fell onto the grass: and the Doctor was silent, perhaps wishing there was something he could say. But he hadn't been able to keep his word; no matter how much he may have wanted to, and how much it wasn't his fault, that fact remained. He'd promised they'd be safe.
Home again. Hours or days after he'd broken down in the Manhattan graveyard. After he'd cried as much as was physically possible over those emotionless stones. After he'd finally understood what no parent should have to. After his throat had started to burn. After he'd said goodbye to his son and daughter-in-law, goodbye for the last time to the people who meant the most to him, and couldn't hear him.
Grating, wheezing: the familiar sound. They'd left him, and unsurprisingly: he'd insisted. Hadn't wanted them to stay with him. Not now. They'd only remind him; it hurt to look at the Doctor. And in some ways, it felt worse: he couldn't help but feel guilty at using up their time.
So they'd left. And he was as alone as he felt.
Rory. Amy. His eyes still weren't dry, and tears again began to fell.
The sound of a door: he looked up, vision blurred. Melody: she sat beside him, and again rested one arm over his shoulders, letting his tears fall on her. He found her presence somehow comforting: she was all he had of Amy and Rory.
"I should show you this," Melody spoke; and lifted a small, crisp page of paper. It looked as though it had been torn out of a book: an afterword. Brian blinked, trying to clear his eyes: "Amy wrote it, in the past. It's a goodbye."
Hello old friend. It was hard to read it when more tears came at each word.
Even after the page had been put away, Melody continued to hold him, and listen to his sobs and whispered sounds.
"Go," Brian Williams said, voice just about decipherable despite being so hoarse, so tearful.
He felt Melody shake her head, a moment before she spoke, struggling herself. He could hear repressed tears.
"No. I'm staying with you, grandfather."