A small pause, a break in time spent running and shooting and scratching lines into her skin to distract herself from the thick latticework already scored into her mind and soul. River swings her feet, enjoying the play of cold breeze around her bare legs. It's a calm night, the hustle and bustle of New York playing out far below her, her own private light show.
She likes high places, enjoys the control they give her over a life so wonderfully, terribly tangled around itself. It would be so easy to jump, now, cut her thread and unravel the fabric of the universe, be spared the awful aching pain of eyes that don't recognise her anymore. She won't, wouldn't ever break the rules like that again, but the point is that she could.
A noise reaches her ears, the sound of someone climbing the staircase behind her, but River doesn't turn around. She knows the orange-y fire of Amelia Pond's mind, and waits patiently until Amy reaches her, hesitating briefly at the height before lowering herself carefully (her joints creak slightly, this isn't the Amy currently hightailing it across Utah) to sit next to River on the edge of the roof. Never could resist a challenge, River thinks fondly, remembering eighteen years of school holidays progressing from signing Amy's cast after a fall from a too-high tree to holding her hair for her in the toilet after a ten-vodka shot victory against one of the bitchier girls in their year.
She turns to face the her mother, analysing and comparing laughter lines and crow's feet.
"You're older than I last saw you. Older than I've ever seen you I think."
"Oi, what happened to honour thy mother?"
River grins at more memories of a tiny school chapel and a doddering vicar, getting hauled up in front of the headmistress for graffitiing the pews. Amy cocks her head to one side, surveying her daughter thoroughly.
"You're younger than I last saw you, but not the youngest I've ever seen you." she says decisively, reaching out to tuck a loose strand of hair behind River's ear.
"How could you possibly know that?" asks River, amused, "We haven't done diaries and I don't age unless I fancy a change."
Amy smiles and hold up three fingers, ticking off points as she goes.
"Firstly, you do age," she gestures at River's face, "not physically, but in your eyes you do. Secondly, you haven't asked what I'm doing here yet, which means you know I can't tell you, so we've done your wedding, and thirdly," Amy grins, her gaze soft, "spoilers. Well some bits. I know you just did Utah again."
She lifts an arm in invitation and River goes gratefully, resting her head on Amy's shoulder and breathing in her mother's familiar scent. A warmth settles around her hearts, soothing after the battering they've taken in the past two months. She breathes out shakily and without warning a tear slips down her cheek.
Amy rocks them both from side to side, murmuring soothing, meaningless words as River starts crying in earnest, abandoning any pretence of safety as she moves her other arm from its balancing position to grab River's hand, pressing a kiss to it before holding it tightly against her cheek.
It could be hours or minutes-River so rarely loses track of time, finds the sensation oddly freeing-before they disentangle themselves. The wind's picked up a bit and by wordless agreement they move to lean opposite each other against the small brick structure housing the stairs, which provides a bit more shelter.
Looking at her mother face on for the first time, River notices something.
"Your hair! It's still bright orange!"
Amy tugs at it absently.
"Yeah, we think the TARDIS must've done something to it. I even tried dying it grey once, and it just wouldn't work," she scowls slightly "looks a bit ridiculous when the rest of me is all saggy."
"I think it's beautiful," River says sincerely. She reaches out, touches a lock of gloriously ginger hair, feeling the tell-tale tingle of temporal energy on her fingertips and stifling a smile. Amelia Pond's hair a fixed point in time. The TARDIS is every bit as mad as her thief.
The TARDIS. She sighs, rendezvous points and mission objectives marching through her head. Her leave has come to an end. She comes back to the present to find Amy watching her again.
"You have to go."
It's not a question, so River doesn't answer. Instead, she pulls Amy into the tightest hug she can manage.
Amy kisses her forehead this time, stepping back so she can look directly into River's eyes. Her own are shimmering slightly.
"You be a good girl."
She opens the door to the stairwell, and starts to descend, turning around with a quirk of her lips as she reaches the first break in the stairs, hands tucked into the pockets of her coat.
"And Melody? Be brave."
River smiles back, watching as her mother disappears around the turn in the staircase, footsteps echoing. Then she takes a deep, steadying breath and begins typing coordinates into the vortex manipulator. Right then, back to the war.