It was late, probably past midnight. Brian Williams lay quietly in bed, his thoughts anything but peaceful. Two grandchildren. Two! In his house. And Rory. Poor, poor Rory. And Amy. Brian's eyes became watery as the reality of his never again seeing his son continued to sink in.
The day had started quietly enough. Probably time to go over to Rory's and water the plants, he thought to himself as he tidied up after breakfast. Letting himself in with the spare key, he picked up and sorted the mail, then filled the watering can. About halfway through topping up the plants, the doorbell had rung. The man, older than Brian, with an odd smile on his face, fairly invited himself in and handed Brian a letter. Time had slowed to a trickle as Brian read the letter. It was addressed simply to "Dad". He read it again, then slowly rose to give Anthony, his grandson, a big, wordless hug.
That was when the doorbell rang again. He and Anthony disengaged and Brian quipped, wiping away a tear, "Probably another long lost grandchild."
It was a woman, middle aged, with curly hair, blue eyes, and somehow a very commanding presence.
"Can I help you?" Brian asked.
"Hello, Mr. Williams," the woman answered with a smile. "I've come to meet my brother."
Brian blinked. "Are you sure you have the right address, my dear?"
"Oh, I think so. I'm used to calling you Mr. Williams, but now I suppose really I should call you Grandfather."
Brian, for a moment speechless, was about to reply when Anthony peeked around him.
"You," was all he said.
Brian turned to him. "Do you know her?"
"We've never met," Anthony replied with a smile, "but I do believe she's my sister."
After a moment Brian said, "Let's go inside, shall we? I rather feel I must sit down."
Some time later, as they were all seated in the living room with cups and a pot of tea, Brian tried to review what he'd just been told.
"Let's see if I've got this straight then, shall I? You used to be Mels, Rory and Amy's best friend. Then you became River. Then Amy gave birth to you. Does that about cover it?"
"Oh, the life of a time traveller. So confusing, don't you think? But enough about me. I want to hear what Anthony has to say."
And so they'd chatted into the night, Anthony describing his years with Rory and Amy in New York. Finally, barely able to keep his eyes open, Brian excused himself and went to bed.
Tired beyond sleep, Brian contemplated the stars through his bedroom window, and pondered how he could be so elated and despondent at the same time. Drowsily, he thought to himself that there was no point in staying in bed. Might as well get up again. But then he found that he must have dozed, for he woke to the smell of bacon cooking.
Putting on a house coat, he came downstairs to find River and Anthony still conversing back and forth as they prepared breakfast.
"You haven't slept, have you?" Brian asked.
Looking at Anthony, River answered, "Oh we've had far too much to catch up on." Then, turning to Brian, she continued. "When we've eaten and washed, we wondered if you would join us for a little outing."
"An outing? Where on earth to?" asked Brian as he gratefully accepted a steaming cup of tea from Anthony.
"To the Ponds. It's time they heard the news as well."
"The Ponds. Good Lord. I'm ashamed to say that hadn't even occurred to me yet."
"No need to feel badly," Anthony said. "It's a bit much for all of us I expect. I certainly didn't expect to find my sister when I came here."
"And I'm afraid I can't stay for long," River said. "I have a major expedition ahead of me. A real coup. We're going to the largest library in the Universe. And the Doctor promised me a special evening in celebration."
"Ah yes," Brian said, his head dropping, "the Doctor."
Looking closely at Brian, River asked, "You don't blame him, do you?"
"What? No, of course not. I'm sad, of course, that I won't see Rory and Amy again, but what parent wouldn't want to know that their children lived long, healthy lives? And with two such fine, grown children as yourselves. And besides, I encouraged them go. Why not see the marvels of the universe while you're young?"
Gulping down his tea, bacon, eggs and toast, Brian rose from the table. "Now," he said, "Let me get ready for our visit. The Ponds will need all the support they can get."
Anthony and River both looked after him as Brian ascended the stairs.
"He thinks only of others, doesn't he?" Anthony commented.
River put her arm around him and smiled. "Naturally. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, did it?"