So, I managed to stop crying long enough to put this together. More may be coming, depending on whether this is enough closure for me. Not sure yet.
Characters/pairing: Brian, River, mentions River/11 and Amy/Rory
Warnings: spoilers for The Angels Take Manhattan
Word count: 1,817
Summary: He had always wanted grandchildren. He just never expected one quite like this. Snapshots of Brian Williams' relationship with the granddaughter he's never met.
A/N: Title means "together blooded" in Latin, denoting a family relationship
It's been two months since Amy and Rory last left, and Brian Williams still waters their plants every day and picks up their mail for them when the box gets full. Sometimes he'll change a lightbulb, but that's not very often because when one does not use their house, the lightbulbs generally do not need changing.
In truth, he's actually starting to worry a little.
They haven't called, Amy and Rory or the Doctor, and his birthday will be coming up soon and he wants to celebrate it like a family.
He's outside in the garden when he hears it, that strange grindy clanky noise he knows means that they're back.
He smiles to himself a little. He was starting to get a little lonely. Now tonight they'll be proper family, probably all sharing Chinese if it's Amy's choice, or Indian if it's Rory's. Or, if they're all fairly unlucky, it'll be the Doctor's and they'll have jammy dodgers, tea, and fish fingers and custard.
Brian doesn't quite understand the fish fingers and custard.
He walks around to the side and there it is, the blue box, looking a little worse for wear and in definite need of a coat of fresh paint. TARDIS blue. Now that's a strange name for a colour.
The front door opens and he's surprised when, instead of lanky Amy rushing out with hair flying everywhere or Rory stepping down like he's afraid he'll step on something, it's a blonde woman with a mess of curls wearing a black evening dress and the most ridiculously impractical shoes he's seen in his life. Her eyes are wet.
The woman looks at him like he's struck her, and he feels very, very bad though he's not sure why. She turns her head back to the TARDIS and opens the door.
"Doctor! Are you coming?" She yells.
"Final checks River!" He hears from somewhere deep inside.
"Since when?" The woman grumbles, before turning back to him.
"Uh... miss, who are you?" Brian asks again, gentler this time now that the initial bit of shock had worn off. Now he's just curious.
"My name is Melody." She holds out her hand for him to shake.
"The Doctor called you River." He can feel his eyebrow quirk. Bad habit, that. People were usually offended by skepticism.
The left side of her mouth twitches in smile and he's reminded a little of Amy. She does that too.
"Yes. Yes he does. I'm called that too."
He gets the feeling that she's not necessarily talking to him, and he doesn't like it.
"Well then… Melody, what are you doing here? Where are Amy and Rory?"
She again looks like she's been hit, probably somewhere about the stomach, and he could swear that there are tears in her eyes. She opens her mouth to say, and he gets a sudden chill up his spine. Must be someone walking on his grave.
The woman, Melody, never does finish, because it's at that moment that the Doctor appears, looking apprehensive and older than he'd ever seen him. Amy and Rory are still nowhere to be seen.
"Doctor!" He exclaims, starting to get frustrated, "Who is she? And where are Amy and Rory?"
The Doctor swallows once, twice, before looking at the woman. Brian knows those kinds of looks. The two seem to be having a very intense conversation but neither say anything out loud.
Then the Doctor turns back to Brian, moving a bit closer to touch his shoulder.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He finally says.
It's then that the world seems to drop out from under his feet.
The woman in black with the impossible hair cries with him.
The Williamses have always been a patient lot, so three months go by before he starts thinking about him again, the Doctor. He doesn't mind not seeing the Doctor. He's really rather cross with him. He had promised, after all.
"Not them, Brian. Never them."
He'd thought the Doctor didn't make promises he couldn't keep.
"Rule one, Brian, is that the Doctor lies."
He's finding it very difficult to cope, what with him never being able to see his family again. It was his son, for God's sake, and he couldn't say goodbye or have a funeral or even mourn, really.
How do you have funeral in 2012 for someone who died in 1992?
And then there are the questions, people asking where they've gone off to or when they're coming back. He's decided on simply saying that they'd moved to New York. For some reason, even though it's the truth, it hurts just as much as ever.
And then, one morning bright and early, she shows up again, knocking right on his door like a normal person.
And she's holding a piece of paper in her hands.
"From them." She says simply, handing it to him. He doesn't look, not just yet. He's not sure if he can bear it.
He stands awkwardly, then sighs.
"Will you come in?"
She does that twitch smile again that reminds him of Amy, and it hurts.
He doesn't say much as he puts on the kettle for tea, but she chats away. Nervously, he thinks. He learns that she's a Professor at a University on the moon 3,000 years in the future and that the Doctor and she are married but in a world that never existed and that she was technically also Mels, Amy's best mate from when she was young, and that she sometimes puts faces on her apples before she eats them.
By the time the kettle boils his head is practically swimming with all the knots and loops and snarls she's managed to recite like epics of romance across time and space are something to just casually drop in common conversation, and that's just Amy and Rory.
He's not sure if he likes her yet, but she certainly isn't boring.
In fact, if he wasn't so busy being mad, he might even find that he's maybe a little fond of her.
He had always wanted grandchildren.
As she sips her tea, he reads the letter. It's from Amy, with a post script from his son.
Hi dad. We're safe. It's really not the Doctor's fault, so try not to be too mean to him. And also Dad, please take care of River. We worry sometimes, and she doesn't have many people she can trust.
I love you. Happy birthday.
November 16, 1938
He looks back up at her, sees for the first time how scared she is. Her hands fidget with the handle of her mug, and she's biting her lip. And then he can see what it would be like to be in her place, hoping that the last family she has on earth would accept her.
He finds it untenable yet, then again...
But she's got something else coming if she thinks he'll call her anything but her real name.
He folds the letter, and puts it in his pocket.
"So, Melody," He clears his throat and looks at her straight on, "How long do you want to stay?"
When she smiles this time, it's Rory he sees in her eyes and in the lines of her face.
Sometime after their last meeting in his kitchen, around 3 a.m. in an especially frosty January, he's woken by the sound of a door opening. There's a bat in the closet, and he picks it out to take with him, just in case. Never could be too careful in this day and age, especially when one hears strange noises at 3 a.m. coming from downstairs.
Instead of burglars, he finds her.
His granddaughter is stretched out on the couch with an arm flopped over her face, another pair of ridiculous shoes sitting on the floor next to her.
Also, she's fast asleep.
He's never really had a chance to just look at her before, and it's a minor revelation, actually. Every other time he's met her she always seemed so... grown up.
Now she just looks… well, young. Vulnerable.
It stirs something in him, something protective and basic and tender, and he remembers feeling this way when he held Rory, tiny perfect defenceless little Rory, in his hands for the first time. Little sparks of some emotion he wants to call family are warming in his chest, and he finds that he's smiling.
He sets the cricket bat down and then goes to fetch her a blanket.
In the morning, she wakes to find a note on the kitchen table, a hot kettle of tea, a plate of breakfast in the fridge, and a key.
Good morning Melody, hope you slept well. I popped out to the locksmith's early to copy this. Family is always welcome in my home, day or night. But young lady, you'll need to stop picking my lock.
When she puts the key in a very well-hidden pocket on the inside of her dress, she starts crying from the relief.
She's found family again after all.
The thing about vortex manipulators, thinks Brian Williams, is that they're much quieter and inconspicuous than a TARDIS.
Or, at least that's what his granddaughter has told him. Motorbike through traffic and all that. He's sure she's right, because most of the time he doesn't know she's even in his house until he finds her sprawled out on his couch.
He's not quite sure he understands it all yet.
Hell, he barely understands her yet, just that somehow she's here and can come and go through time as she pleases.
It's all a bit of a mess really.
But, he doesn't really mind. He's glad to have a piece of Amy and Rory here with him, even if she looks nothing like them and is older than a granddaughter of his should be.
In fact, he actually kind of enjoys having her around.
She, somehow, makes him feel young with all her misadventures, and he comes to understand that she really doesn't know all the things she plays at knowing, that in some ways she is still a little girl lost, and that she does get quite lonely, occasionally.
Of course, she'd never say it out loud, but Brian can tell. He'd been the same way when he way young.
And he loves her too, which helps a lot.
But, after all, he was supposed to.
In the end, Melody Pond was his family. And families stick together.