A/N: Just wanted to mention that one, I felt so bad for Rory because he never got to say goodbye like Amy did. Throughout the episode that poor guy looked so bewildered! Two, Rory never got a letter and thus Brian was kept in the dark as far as we know, so I wrote this because I really wanted to give both Brian and Rory something. And three, this is my first Doctor Who fic, so the characterization is probably terrible, but let me know what you think so if I do try out writing for Doctor Who again, I can improve. Also, sorry the title sucks. Thanks, and enjoy!
As the echoing, wheezing sound of the Tardis died down and she came to rest at her destination, the Doctor turned away from the control panel and faced the door. His eyes fixated upon the knob as he thought of who would be on the other side of it and what news he would have to bring to him.
No, he couldn't do it. Squeezing his eyes shut and turning away from the door, the Doctor ran a hand through his hair and tried to gather up the courage when a voice sounded from outside.
"Doctor?" the muffled voice of Brian Williams called from just outside the Tardis.
The Doctor paused, afraid to turn around, afraid to open the door and have nothing to give him but tragic news and a lame apology. He had promised him he would keep them safe. He had told him that it would never be them.
He shouldn't have been so selfish and so reluctant to let them leave. If he had gone while he still had the chance and left the Ponds to their ordinary human life, things would've gone differently. He wouldn't be waiting here in the Tardis, having landed in their backyard and trying to work up the courage to step out and tell Brian what had happened.
"Are you stepping out any time soon, or should I just go ahead and head out to get the bag of mulch I was just about to go get?" Brian asked, not sounding impatient but just curious as to how long it might be before the Time Lord exited the Tardis.
"Right, no more stalling. You've got to do this; you owe it to them; to him," the Doctor told himself quietly before turning to face the door once again. A moment later, he slowly opened the door and peaked his head outside. "Oh, hello, Brian," he greeted, sounding not nearly as chipper as usual. The normal 12-year-old grin that was usually plastered on his face not present this time around. Brian knew exactly why, though.
"Hello, Doctor," he greeted casually. "So what brings you around this part of the universe, hm?" he asked, although it was almost as if he knew what sort of response this would elicit from the Doctor.
The bow-tied Time Lord stepped out the door to his Tardis and approached the elder Williams. "Brian, I'm so sorry but…" the Doctor faltered, struggling to find a way to explain what had transpired. "Amy and Rory, Brian. I'm sorry, but they're—they're gone."
And of all the things the Doctor had expected Brian Williams to do, he had not expected him to place a hand on his shoulder, look him square in the eye with an oddly great deal of understanding, and say, "It's all right, Doctor," as if he were comforting the man at the same time as he was also freeing him of blame.
"Sorry, what?" the Doctor asked, looking at the plant-enthusiast questionably. "'It's all right?' That's all you have to say is 'it's all right?' You were the one who told me to keep them safe. To bring them back safe and I didn't. I failed. They're gone and it's my fault and you've got nothing more than—than understanding and 'it's all right?' You're not even asking how or when or anything!" he ranted, sounding both angered and perplexed. He didn't understand, he had expected rage, blame, grief…Brian wasn't showing anything of the sort.
"It's because I already know everything, Doctor. It's all already been explained to me, and while I was angry and sad at first, I've finally come to terms with it all and it's all right. I understand what happened and I don't blame you. If anything, I blamed myself for letting them go along with you. I could've stopped them; told them that they've had enough time-traveling and that it was about time they stopped before it got too dangerous. But I didn't," Brian explained carefully. "But I've come to terms with that guilt, too. Rory didn't want me to feel sad or angry or guilty. He said all he wanted was for me to be proud, to be happy for him, and to remember him. I think we should both respect his wishes."
"Sorry, wait, go back. What did you mean by 'it's all already been explained' to you? Why did you say 'Rory didn't want' you to feel that way instead of 'Rory would've wanted' you to feel that way?" He asked, scrunching his eyebrows in confusion.
"Come inside and I'll show you what I mean," Brian instructed and, eager to figure out what was going on or what had gone on, the Doctor hastily followed the middle-aged man inside.
On the dining table just inside the door sat a large box full of folders, photo albums, and other old-looking papers and documents stacked on top of each other. Brian picked out a thick, tea-colored envelope from the top of the stack and showed the front of it to the Doctor. In a neat yet slanted scrawl were the following: "For Brian Williams. Do not open until after the cubes incident."
"I was doing some cleaning and completely forgot this box, let alone this envelope, existed. I found it about a month ago—it's been about four since you three left. I remember growing up, I thought it to be the most curious thing, but whenever I asked my parents what the writing on the front meant, they said they had no idea, but that I'd just have to wait and find out," he explained.
A dawning look of revelation began to form on the Doctor's face and he looked to Brian, who just nodded before turning the envelope over to the back where the wax seal had already been broken. Reaching inside the rather stuffed and somewhat weather envelope, Brian pulled out a couple folded pieces of paper and what looked like a small stack of three or four photographs.
"They told me that some curly-haired blonde woman had stopped by the house one day, handed it to them, said 'Don't ask questions, just keep it safe, don't ever lose it, and make sure he doesn't read it before it's time,' and then left before they could say anything," Brian told him, having no idea, of course, who the blonde-haired woman was or her significance. The Doctor, however, simply looked away for a moment and muttered, "River," as he came to realize the part she had played in getting this message to Brian Williams.
But why do it this way? Why risk the chance of the letter being lost over the years or thrown away because it was decided to be unimportant? Perhaps River just thought it would be more interesting, or maybe Rory had requested her to do it this way. Or perhaps her way of getting around time and space hadn't been working properly and it was the best she could do.
"What was that?" Brian asked, not having caught what the Doctor had mumbled to himself.
"Oh, nothing," the Doctor said, waving away the subject. "So, the letter…" he said, redirecting the older Williams' focus back on the item in his hand.
"Yes, the letter. Well, of course even Rory spotted it a couple times and wondered why I had an old letter that I never opened. He was quite curious as to what the 'cubes incident' meant. Knowing now that he—well, the older Rory—wrote it makes it all so much stranger. Does this sort of stuff happen to you on a much more regular basis?"
"Yes, after all, time isn't a complete linear progression of sequential events; often times it's very jumbled up. I've seen stranger, trust me, Brian."
The human looked surprised, almost baffled for a moment before nodding. "I see. Well, anyways, in Rory's letter from the past he told me about how he and Amy are—were?—getting along just fine in their new time period in New York. He told me he and Amy adopted a young girl named Melody and that I'm a granddad now. Or I was?" Brian shook his head, trying to set it all straight in his head. It was proving difficult to get it all to make sense and he had to wonder how the Doctor and Rory and Amy made sense of it all themselves. Meanwhile, the Doctor was having trouble trying to figure out whether to be shocked or delighted that the Ponds would get to raise Melody as adults (and not as friends acting as parents.)
"He mentioned that Amy is a literary agent and that he's a doctor. He became one of the most sought after doctors in New York, even. They seem to have settled in quite nicely and they seem so happy, Doctor," Brian said, setting the letter aside to flip through the photos. After a moment he looked up at the Doctor and smiled softly. "I can't say I don't miss them, but if they're happy well…I suppose neither of us should despair or feel guilty, should we?"
The Doctor glanced down at the photos, the one on top being a rather simple photo of Amy and Rory with a young girl in the middle, each of them with a hand intertwined with hers. They were standing in Time Square with big grins on their faces and, although it was painful knowing that they were gone from him, he found himself smiling anyway. "Ponds," he muttered fondly, and Brian didn't even bother telling him that they were Williams', not Ponds.
Looking back up at Brian Williams at last, the Doctor shook his head. "No, I suppose we shouldn't. It's not what they'd have wanted."
"You know, he also said in his letter here that if you stopped by too soon—before I had composed myself and given myself some time to cope—that I should go easy on you and that it really wasn't your fault. He said you'd try to blame yourself just like I would blame myself, too, but he said he knew the possible dangers in traveling with you, they both did, and that it was worth it. Here," he said, handing the letter over to the Doctor. "Skip down toward the end and read that last paragraph at the bottom," he instructed, to which the Doctor didn't need telling twice. Carefully he took the letter, his eyes jumping down toward the end of the second page:
And if you see the Doctor again, tell him that we don't just bring out the best in him; he brings out the best in us, too. I don't know if Amy and I would have the relationship we have now if it wasn't for him, to be honest. He's done a lot for us, so please, go easy on him. He's struggling as much as you are, Dad. And also make sure to tell him thanks for me, because I never did get a chance to say goodbye.
Your son Rory
Silently, the Doctor handed back the pages to their rightful owner, a sad grin on his face. "Thank you," he said quite sincerely. "It's been a pleasure, Brian Williams." He held out a hand for the man to shake, but Brian stared at it in confusion for a moment.
"Are you leaving, then? Will I ever see you again?" he asked.
"Do you want to see me again?"
Brian pondered over the question for a moment, suddenly realizing how odd it would be without the Doctor being a part of his life, however rarely or irregularly he had popped in on him and his family. While the man always did seem to bring or attract trouble with him whenever he showed up, Brian had come to grow fond of the Doctor, especially after seeing just how much his son and daughter-in-law enjoyed his company. "In a way, I do, but I think perhaps it would be best if we didn't meet again. Probably better for the both of us, don't you think?"
The Doctor's expression was one of understanding. "I think you make quite a good point, Brian. So, goodbye then. Like I said, it's been an absolute pleasure," he said, extending his hand once again.
"Likewise. Goodbye, Doctor. And thank you for everything you've done for them," Brian replied, shaking his hand briefly and firmly before letting go.
"Thank you for letting them come along," he answered. "I'll just show myself out, then," he said, and headed out the door without another word between the pair of them.
As he closed the door of the Tardis behind him and began to press buttons, pull levers, and twist knobs to set them off on their next adventure, the Doctor smiled to himself once again. Looking up and speaking to no one in particular, he shook his head and said, "Rory and Amelia Pond. Rory and Amelia Williams. Looks like you had your happy ending after all."