Title: Shattered Pieces
Summary: "I've already had a child, River," Amy said. "I just want her back. I don't think I can have any others until I have her back."
Rating: T for upsetting content
Word Count: 1983
Other Chapters: No.
Disclaimer: The British Broadcasting Corporation owns Doctor Who and all related trademarks. I do not in any way profit from the use of these trademarks.
Pairings: Amelia Pond/Rory Williams (discussed); Eleventh Doctor/River Song (discussed)
Contains: Discussions of adoption
Warnings: Discussion of child abduction/loss.
"Am I supposed to say that I'm sorry?" River asked, trailing a few steps behind her mother as they started their first lap of a leisurely stroll around the park near her parents' new flat. The sun was down, yes, but the streets of Manhattan were never properly dark, and masked humans jumping out at you from bushes just don't scare you any more after you've fought a few daleks. River didn't really know what they were out for, though. She'd had a mostly-lovely dinner with her parents, until she'd mentioned a new expedition she was going on. Then her mother had frozen up for the rest of the meal and in her most serious tone she'd invited River on a walk whilst Rory cleared the dishes. They hadn't spoken a word to each other on their way out the building, and River was beginning to find the silence unbearable.
Amy just sighed without looking back at her.
"I won't," River said. "This is the research opportunity of a lifetime! The Iggoflation Tombs are the Great Pyramids of the 52nd century. Imagine the things I'll learn! Imagine the academic acclaim! This could be my chance to finally make my name as an archaeologist rather than a archaeological mystery!"
"Or," Amy said, glancing at her but not properly turning around, "You'll become another archaeological mystery: that professor who mysteriously died at the Iggoflation Tombs."
River rolled her eyes. "Oh, mummy, you worry too much."
"I think I worry just enough, all things considered," Amy said, turning around and stopping so that River almost walked into her. Her long dress twirled in the wind and River thought for a moment about all those flirty short skirts and wondered if she missed them. The fashion choices available to a woman with any desire to be socially acceptable were not quite as broad in this time as they had been in the twenty-first century. "You time travel," she said. "Your father and I don't any more. So if anything ever happens to you in any of these places, how will we ever know?"
"We won't!" Amy said. "You'll just not turn up for Christmas one year. Or the next year. Or any year after that. We won't see you on any holidays or on our birthdays or on any other day, and without us ever really knowing that you're dead, you'll just stop being alive." She choked and took a deep breath. "Melody, I've seen people go missing before. When we were growing up, the parents would go on TV and cry and beg for answers and in this decade they do the same thing to a mob of reporters, but what will Rory and I do? I was reading an article in the paper the other day and I just..." River pulled her mother into her chest. This was the closest she'd seen Amy to tears since the angels took Rory, and River didn't have the slightest idea what she could actually do about them but hold the woman who'd given birth to her and promise that it would be okay even when they both knew it wouldn't. "When you just vanish because you've died in some ruins somewhere—and it is a when, not an if, if you keep doing this—we'll have nothing to beg for. We will never get answers. No one will have them."
"It won't happen," River promised, squeezing her mother and stroking her hair. "I'm a time-traveller. I could go visit you both on your death beds right now—"
"—Don't you dare." Amy wiggled out of her grasp and glared up at them, and honestly neither of them was really sure which of them was supposed to be the adult in this situation. "It'd be exactly the same. Maybe even worse. Every time we met you out of order we'd worry that we'd lost you. Just..."
"Just what?" River asked, holding her mother's gaze. Amy wasn't crying, at least.
She hesitated a moment. "Just stay with us," she said, quickly and quietly, like she knew how ridiculous it was.
River shook her head. "I can't—"
"You could," Amy said. "I did. We could be writers together. You could live with us. I know some parents don't want their adult children living with them," she smiled sadly, "But your father and I... I mean, we could get a bigger apartment. Three bedrooms. A master, one for you, and one for..."
"The child," River said.
"What child?" Amy's face dropped into that blank pout that she used to make on her modelling jobs. She could make it no matter what she was feeling, and that left it unreadable, even to River.
"I saw the adoption paper work," River said. "Sitting on the counter."
Amy shook her head. "Did you see that it wasn't filled out?"
"You still went and got it." Or perhaps Rory did. It wasn't like him to spring something like this on her, though. It seemed far more likely that Amy had agreed to it, perhaps even suggested it, and then gotten cold feet after the fact.
Amy sighed, looked away from River, and ran her hand through her hair. She then took a long step backwards, turned gracefully, and began to strut up the street.
"Amy!" River went after her. She wasn't going to let it go that easily. "I think it's a good idea!"
Amy slowed down, but didn't stop walking or turn around. She crossed her arms and kept silent, apparently waiting for River to say something more, so River obliged.
"I think it's a really good idea for you and dad to adopt," River said, softly now. "You've always wanted kids, and now that you're all settled, it's the perfect time to have some..."
"I've already had a child, River," Amy said darkly, and then she turned to look at River again. "I just want her back. I don't think I can have any others until I have her back."
"You can't have her back," River said. "I'm sorry, Amy, I really am, but neither of us are ever getting back what we lost." River watched her mother flinch and she felt awful about it, but it was the truth. It was something River had come to terms with a long time ago. The little girl who'd spent hours in an American orphanage gazing lovingly at photographs of her mother never did get that mother. She'd gotten a friend, but that friend would never replace the mother she'd lost, and the friend that Amy had gained would ever replace the child she'd lost. "Move on. Have others. You want them."
"What if I don't, though?" she shook her head again. "Rory's so sure, but every time we talk about it, I just keep thinking that we're not supposed to do this. Losing a child, it's supposed to be one of those things where... We're never supposed to want to have another child again, are we? But we do. We both do. But no other child would ever replace the one we lost—"
"So you're trying to get me to replace her instead." And now River had to look away. She watched the grass move with the wind for a moment, then sighed.
"Don't be ridiculous," Amy said. "You are her."
River shrugged. "I am and I'm not. I'll never be the child you want. I could move into that bedroom and live out the rest of your life with you, but you wouldn't feel any more like you have your child back than you do right now. She's gone, Amy. I would have liked to be her but I'm not, and me quitting my job to move in with my parents wouldn't change that. You have the unique comfort of knowing that the child you lost is okay." River smiled sadly. "That she's happy and loved; But you still lost her. You'll never get that child back."
River looked back over at Amy and saw her nod again, but not as if she were really convinced. "... What if I can't love another one?" she said. "Not just an adopted child but any other child?" She sobbed and looked at ground.
"Do you think that will be a problem?" River asked.
Amy shook her head. "It's supposed to be."
"Do you think it will be?"
"No! I don't know! I pass babies in shops and I just want one, but then I think about it for a second and you have no idea how guilty I feel..." She looked away from River for a moment and sobbed again. "How can I want something and be so afraid of it at the same time? I'm so confused!"
"You've been through something horrifically traumatic!" River said. "Of course you are. That's completely normal."
"So what do I do?" she said desperately.
River was silent for a minute. What could she possibly say? She'd lost her mother, but she knew nothing about what it felt like to lose a child. They shared the same trauma, but they experienced it from different ends and in wildly different ways. River had been brainwashed and neglected, but she'd never lost a child.
"Accept that you've lost her, first of all," River said, because it was the one thing she was sure of. She'd been in university when she'd finally accepted the fact that she'd never really had parents, and that it had left scars, and she'd been better for accepting that. Naming the grief that she'd always felt had helped her cope with it. "We have each other now, but in some very significant ways, we lost each other, and that is never going to be okay if we don't accept it." Amy nodded, though she didn't look much like that was what she'd wanted to hear. "Then talk to Rory. He's the only one in the universe who knows how you feel." She smiled slightly. "And it won't actually kill you to talk to him about your feelings, sometimes."
"You're one to talk," Amy said, even as she nodded slightly. "When do you ever tell the Doctor how you feel?"
"Rory and the Doctor are very different men," River said. The Doctor had difficulty enough dealing with his own emotions. He didn't need to be worried about River's. She'd always coped just fine on her own.
Amy seemed to accept that, so River got back on topic:
"And if you and Rory really want another child, talk about it, and figure out what the two of you can do to make it as safe and non-traumatic for you as possible. Who knows? He might have needs as well." They hugged again, and River kissed her mother's head. "This isn't ever just going to be okay, Amy, but that doesn't mean you can't move on. You have to let that wound close and make a new place for me and for any others." River sighed. "Just don't do this to me, okay? Don't make me the reason you and Rory give up on your dream of having kids."
Amy nodded into River's chest. "I'll try," she choked. "I love you, River."
"I love you too, mum." Amy was and would always be her mother. She and Rory hadn't been the parents Melody had wanted, nor the parents that any child deserves, but that wasn't their fault. River hadn't been the child they'd longed for, and that wasn't her fault. Their family had been broken, forever and through no fault of their own. The shattered pieces of it would never fit back together the way they were supposed to, but it was a testament to their love for each other that they'd picked up those pieces anyway and built something new. There was always room for more pieces to be glued on, too. River was pretty sure she'd make a good big sister...