Okay, hello, all! This is my first foray into Doctor Who fanfiction, and I'm very excited to be here! *waves*
This little story, though a little plot-less, takes place between the Series 6 opening episodes, i.e., between the end of 'The Impossible Astronaut' and the beginning of 'The Day of the Moon'. The first episode ends on the night of April 8th, 1969, so this fic's timeline exists in the next morning, April 9th.
I'm a total stickler for everything canon in any fandom(don't know why) and even stick to canon as closely as possible in AU fics as well!(still don't know why) So... this is as close to canon as I can imagine, although, I may have made slips along the way -forgive me if I have, I tried my best.
Hope you guys enjoy the fic -leave me a review and let me know if you did!
Disclaimer: I am not the owner of Doctor Who. I am not masochistic nor clever enough to be eligible for such a role. I am only masochistic enough to rewatch it enough times to drown ten times over in my tears, and clever enough to begin watching it in the first place. That is all.
Once Upon a Time in Utah
April 9th, 1969. 8:03 am.
"Here's your change, sir. You have a nice day."
"Thank you. All done, dear."
Mike, the gas station attendant, watched as the woman turned slowly away from the desolate view and climbed back into the car. "If you don't mind me asking, sir," he asked the man behind the wheel, "where do you come from? Your accent's like nothing I ever heard."
"We're from…" The man hesitated for so long that Mike wondered if he had somehow offended him, especially since the woman looked at him with a stony expression. "We're from England," the man finally said, glancing at her. "Yeah. England," the woman enjoined, rather unenthusiastically.
"Really? 'Cos I've heard some British guys talking, and you sure sound different," Mike said somewhat genially, trying to alleviate the mood.
He failed miserably. The woman directed such a glare at him that Mike involuntarily felt his legs wobble. The man glanced at her again and said hurriedly, "Right. We'd best be going. Thank you, young man."
With which hurried words, the man shifted into gear and sped away. Mike watched after them, bemused. They said young folk these days were strange, but they were nothing compared to some old folk…
April 9th, 1969. 8:05 am.
He turned on the radio because it was too quiet. She was uncharacteristically silent, and he knew why.
She was worried.
Today was an important day. They had been planning this for years, and after travelling for several days, they were close to the culmination of their little sojourn –and nothing could go wrong.
All around their little car were the vast, arid, empty plains of Utah. On the horizon in almost every direction were rocks and cliffs in fantastic shapes and sizes, all glowing burnt red in the fresh morning sun.
"We have twenty minutes," she spoke finally, "you'd better drive faster."
Normally a cautiously slow driver, this time he listened to her. Timing was the key. Missing their goal by even a second could lead to disastrous consequences. He did, however, let go of the gear shaft briefly to grasp her hand, her skin soft and wrinkled, the ring on her finger unnaturally cold against his skin.
"It'll be fine. Everything will be fine," he said as reassuringly as he could.
She squeezed his hand back gratefully. "I'm scared," she admitted in a low voice.
"Honey, trust me, nothing will go wrong."
"Yeah, well, what if he sees us? Everything will be ruined!"
"He won't. He can't."
"Exactly. He can't. Can you imagine what would happen if he does?"
His expression hardened. "Yes. And we won't let that happen."
She sighed. "No, we won't." She glanced at the back seat. "I'm glad we brought this along, though." His mood lightened and he agreed heartily. Their secret weapon. The guaranteed fail-safe.
Presently, they entered the limits of the small town of Osborne, which, while having a general straggly appearance, was nestled at the foot of some spectacular cliffs. They were silent again as they drove down the still-empty main street, both of them feeling a tangible sense of anticipation in the air. Within a minute, they were at the other end of town, which was marked by a faded billboard announcing 'Thank you for visiting Osborne. Safe journeys!' A few hundred metres down from that billboard, the road turned at a sharp right-angle around a cliff-wall.
He slowed down and parked the car right next to the cliff wall, but some paces before the turning so that anyone on the other side of the cliff couldn't see their car. As he got down, he found himself shaking with excitement. He looked at his wife, she looked exactly how he felt.
"Finally," she murmured.
"Finally," he agreed.
They hauled the secret weapon out. Despite being bulky, it was surprisingly light, which was all for the better, considering their aged weakness. Together, they carried it between them and turned round the corner. More empty desert greeted them; with the cliffs behind them, even the horizon was an uninterrupted straight line in the hazy distance. But it wouldn't be empty for long.
"There! Those rocks!" –she pointed excitedly to a group of large rocks a metre or two off the cliff face.
"You're the boss," he grinned and they made their way toward it.
All the way he kept checking his watch, it took them more than seven minutes to reach the rocks from the turning. He had hoped they'd be faster.
She seemed worried, too. "We're cutting it rather fine!" –she huffed as they increased their pace.
"We'll make it," he wheezed although he was already panicking.
They did make it in time, both collapsing behind a particularly large rock with relief, but they paused only for a moment to catch their breath. Moving faster than he had in years, he quickly set to work on the dismantled equipment, his wife working with similar feverish speed on the other end.
With a final resounding click, the last piece was set in place, and just in time, too. Almost instantly, they heard an unearthly groaning sound, the sound they had been waiting to listen to for years. Cautiously, they peeked over the rock. She let out a muffled whimper. "There she is."
Blinking in and out of existence, its bright blue a stark contrast to the red desert around it, was a wooden police box.
His breath came out in a soft rush. "It's here. The Tardis."
April 9th, 1969. 8:26 am.
Inside the Tardis, there was chaos. As usual.
"Alright, we've, er… we've landed in Utah."
"Why Utah?" –River Song asked, amazingly standing straight while the other three passengers looked like they had just been thrown off a viciously fast merry-go-round.
"Dunno, the Tardis seems to think it's a good place." The Doctor pulled himself to his feet and dusted his jacket.
"Of course. The Tardis is doing the driving," Amy Pond muttered as she helped her husband up. River frowned and stepped close to the Doctor. "You're a horrible liar," she said softly, so that neither of the Ponds could hear her. "Really, why Utah?"
"Well, there's something about Utah, isn't there?" –the Doctor muttered defensively, his face darkening. "Mysterious summons and all that? If we're looking for those creatures, Utah is as good a place as any."
River's frown deepened. "You're still trying to find out who summoned us."
He mock-shrugged. "Hey, I'm curious. Can you blame me?"
"That summons was 42 years in the future." Amy Pond had joined them. "Will be 42 years in the future. Whatever. It has nothing to do with this, here and now."
The Doctor whipped around to look at her. "Really? Nothing, Amelia? Why are we even here, then? What exactly do you know about all this?" His voice got lower and lower with each word he spoke, even as he advanced on her menacingly.
"Oi! Lay off her," Rory intervened immediately. "We've told you all we can."
The Doctor paused, and so quickly it was unnerving, he flashed a wide smile at him. "Well, then, I suppose I have to find out for myself, aren't I?"
River Song stepped up again. "You will do no such thing. You, Mister, will hand yourself over to Canton. Amy, you take Utah. Rory and I will go elsewhere."
"Amy is not going anywhere!" –the Doctor said instantly with such vehemence that River stepped back in surprise.
"Doctor," Amy interrupted in a low voice, "let me do this."
The Doctor ran his fingers through his hair, a sure sign of agitation. "No. You go to Canton."
Amy laughed shakily. "Are you joking? Can you imagine what the FBI would do to a live prisoner? All their 'interrogation' tactics? You're our best bet for surviving all that unscathed."
There was silence for a moment as the obvious merit of her words sank in for the Doctor. Finally, with a frustrated huff, he snapped, "Fine. But take your Centurion with you. He'll keep you safe."
Rory clutched his wife's hand tightly. "You can count on it." River nodded approvingly.
"Right, then, off you go. Chop-chop!" He bounded over to the doors and pulled them open with a flourish. With a quick goodbye to River, Amy and Rory followed the Doctor out of the Tardis and into the arid desert. Both of them shielded their eyes from the sun immediately. "Gosh, it's a little hot," Amy remarked sardonically.
"And it's still morning!" The Doctor grinned. "Right. Stay together, stay hydrated, keep refilling your markers and note down your count at the end of each day, preferably along with your current location, so later we could map the data and see how they're distributed."
The Ponds nodded and his expression softened at their nervous, excited faces. He turned to Rory. "Roranicus, you brave Roman. Godspeed and take care." A quick, yet firm hug. "And my little Amelia…" His voice was low, almost wistful. Amy smiled. "I'll be fine, Doctor. Really." Their hug lingered, and he kissed her gently on her forehead before letting her go. "You'd better."
Suddenly Amy started; she was staring, wide-eyed, over the Doctor's shoulder. "Did you see that?"
Both Rory and the Doctor whipped around. "What?"
"I thought I saw something move behind that rock."
Both men went forward to investigate. Amy felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Slowly, the men crept toward the rock; as they edged closer, they acknowledged with a single nod to take a different side of the rock.
Amy's heart was thudding loudly now. They held up their hands, counted to three, and jumped behind the rock simultaneously. Amy's heart skipped a beat.
Then both men turned slowly toward her, identical frowns on their faces.
"There's nothing here, Amy."
As they both returned to her, she found herself turning defensive. "I'm sure I saw something!"
"Maybe it was a giant lizard," Rory said, glancing back at the rock.
"Yeah, I think I know a Silurian when I see one, Rory." Amy snapped.
"You probably hallucinated it," the Doctor said, his voice once again tinged with worry. "How're you feeling? Are you nauseated? Dizzy?"
Amy clicked her tongue impatiently. "I'm fine, Doctor. And we don't generally hallucinate when… never mind." Glancing at Rory, she cut short her explanation. The Doctor noticed the look.
Amy shook her head slightly, and then with a smile, adjusted the Doctor's bowtie. "You take care, then. Don't let the FBI bully you, and don't aggravate River Song too much."
He grinned. "I'll try."
"Yeah. Also, don't aggravate the FBI or bully River Song," Rory added as Amy came to stand by his side.
The Doctor's grin widened as Amy laughed. "Yeah, that too."
"Like he'd ever be capable of bullying me." River quipped as she came to stand in the doorway of the Tardis. The Doctor whipped around, his grin morphing into a smirk.
"Is that a challenge, Doctor Song?"
"What do you think, Doctor?"
"I think it's an invitation."
"An invitation to what?"
The smirk grew. "Bullying you into submission."
"I'd like to see you try."
Amy made a face. "Ugh, they're flirting again. Our cue to leave."
Rory nodded, his expression not unlike hers. "I agree Mrs. Williams."
April 9th, 1969. 8:26 am.
For several minutes, the Tardis just stood there, looking deceptively calm and lifeless. But he knew better. Inside the Tardis, as always, would be chaos.
Exactly 156 seconds after it landed, the blue doors suddenly swung inwards, and a man stepped out. His wife gasped next to him and clutched his arm tightly.
"Bowtie, plaid, face of a twelve year old and gait of a nine hundred year old… It's him," she whispered. "It's the Doctor."
They watched as the Doctor stretched mightily, his arms wide. Then, as he twirled on the spot to survey their surroundings, two more people stepped out of the Tardis.
Behind the rock, both spectators' breaths went in with sharp gasps. "So young," he whispered, watching as the Doctor turned to the young couple and began to talk in earnest.
"She isn't real though," his wife muttered harshly. "She's the ganger."
As they watched, the Doctor first hugged the man, then the ganger-woman, then placed a tender kiss on her forehead. Comprehension dawned on him. "He thinks she's pregnant."
"She thinks she's pregnant. She can't be, of course."
"No." He glanced at his wife. There were tear tracks on her cheeks. "Honey. Do you want to leave? We don't have to do this."
She shook her head vehemently. "No. We've planned this for all our lives. We see this through."
Any reply he had for her was lost; instead he gasped, "They're looking this way!"
They dropped down behind the rock, breathing fast. They could not be discovered! They quietened their breathing as much as they could, even as they heard muffled footsteps come closer.
The footsteps stopped. He held his breath, and knew his wife was doing the same. Three disturbingly silent seconds passed. Then, with perfect synchronicity, the two men jumped behind the rock on either side.
Only, it wasn't their rock. It was the one next to theirs. He froze, and so did his wife, but not before clutching his hand so tightly it hurt. He understood perfectly, so he didn't complain.
They watched as the Doctor scanned the ground before him quickly, his green eyes moving unnaturally fast. Rory Williams, who had his back to them, had turned to look at the Tardis, calling, "There's nothing here, Amy." The Doctor, meanwhile, was looking exactly in their direction.
She squeezed his hand tighter. His fingers were throbbing with pain now.
For a long moment, it seemed as if the Doctor was staring right into their eyes. He felt the blood drain from his face. What if the Doctor could see them? But, to his relief, the Doctor's gaze slipped over their heads as he continued to scrutinize the apparently empty rock outcroppings. Rory noticed the Doctor's line of sight, and turned to face them, too.
He felt his wife let out a silent breath shakily. This time, it was Rory Williams who was looking right at them, but then even he couldn't see past their cloaking device, and in moments, he too turned away. She let out a small sigh.
Finally, the Doctor and Rory Williams made their way back to the Tardis, and his heartbeat began to subside to a much calmer, normal rhythm. "That was close," his wife muttered. He agreed with a shaky nod. After taking several moments to calm their racing hearts, they gingerly peeked above their rock again.
Rory Williams and his ganger-wife were waving goodbye to the Doctor, and to a woman who had come to stand at the Tardis doors.
"River Song," he whispered, his voice trembling. "Melody Pond."
"She looks so young, too," she said slowly. He nodded mournfully.
As they watched, the young couple waved one last time and turned away, toward the turn in the road. The Doctor stood watching them walk away for several seconds, absently adjusting his bowtie. Then River Song stepped out of the Tardis, took his hand, and gently led him back inside.
"He's going," his wife's voice was now flat, cracked. He could empathize with her; he already felt tears trickling down his cheeks.
It was over.
But then the Doctor paused at the doors, and turned back to face their rocks. As they watched disbelievingly, he smiled widely, flipped his fringe out of his eyes, adjusted his bowtie and waved at them.
He felt more hot tears course down his cheeks, and next to him, he heard his wife let out a soft, strangled sob.
Then the Doctor turned back into the Tardis, and shut the doors behind him. Within seconds, the ever-familiar groans of the Tardis sounded in the empty desert, the light on top of the box flashed, and she slowly blinked out of existence.
Sometime in April, 1969.
"Who was that?" River was standing at the console and staring at the Doctor curiously. "Who were you waving at?"
The Doctor was silent as he walked to her side. He began twiddling some knobs before answering her. "There was someone behind those rocks. It was them Amy saw."
River looked shocked. "Who?"
The Doctor ignored the question. "So. River. Where do you want to start investigating?"
"The Tardis will know," River said nonchalantly. "Who was it, Doctor?"
The Doctor still ignored her. "Ah, the Tardis seems to think you ought to stay in America, too. East Coast, I think."
"I don't know!" –the Doctor finally snapped. "They were just –just there, that's all. A couple. They were using a cloaking device –Kahler-made, I think; it smelled rather like it had been built using scraps."
"So you didn't see them."
"Oh, I saw them, alright. Or rather, their shadows, their silhouettes. The cloak worked well enough for humans, I suppose. Rory didn't notice anything. I could just about see them and hear their heartbeats –very faintly, though. Sounded like human hearts."
"But Amy saw them."
The Doctor frowned. "Yes, and she's as human as they come." There was a moment of silence as the Doctor pondered over this. Then, he shrugged. "Well, I suppose they made a sudden movement that she caught in her peripheral vision. Something like that."
River frowned. "And why didn't you catch them out? Why did you let them stay hidden?"
He took the longest time yet to answer. "Because… because there was a temporal disturbance around them. Or temporal anomaly. One of those. Or in between." He frowned. "A disturbaly. A temporal disturbaly, and they're dangerous, those kinds of temporal disturbalies. If I'd talked to them or touched them, I think time itself would have unravelled."
River still looked unconvinced. "But why would they be here? What could they have hoped to achieve? Were they spying on us? Trying to learn something, perhaps?"
The Doctor sighed and smiled reassuringly. "Relax, Doctor Song. They couldn't have possibly predicted that I would land there, I came here on a last-minute whim. I think they were just…" He grinned. "Fans. Waiting for a glimpse of me, I'd wager."
She grinned too, and swatted his arm. "Only you have a head big enough to be that presumptuous."
"You know it, and what's more, Doctor River Song, you like it. Admit it."
"In your dreams."
His signature smirk was back. "Oh you do, believe me. Frequently and with much pleasure."
River stepped close to him and leaned in to whisper seductively in his ear, "Are you flirting with me in an effort to change the subject, Doctor?"
He blinked and squirmed. "Is it working?" –he managed to ask, downplaying the blush on his cheeks.
She sighed and leaned back to look at him, reverting to her normal voice. "Unfortunately, yes. And now it's time for me to leave." They had indeed landed.
"Oh. Too bad." To his credit, the Doctor looked like he meant it. River smiled and sauntered away. "Well, I'm off. Say 'hi' to Canton for me."
As she reached the doors, the Doctor suddenly took off behind her and caught her wrist. "River."
She turned to him inquiringly.
The Doctor hesitated; he looked distinctly embarrassed. "What I said before. I, er, I'm sorry. I do trust you. With my life."
Her expression softened and she smiled sweetly, a smile that rarely appeared on her face. "Thank you, sweetie. I know you do."
Then, with a soft kiss on his cheek, she pulled open the door, stepped outside and shut the door behind her.
The Doctor touched his cheek where she had kissed him gingerly; he looked stunned. Then he grinned, and bounded back to the main console. "That will keep until next time, Doctor Song. And now for Canton." He paused, and then, his grin widening as he pulled down a lever, he let out a whoop.
April 9th, 1969. 8:46 am.
Amelia Williams was crying freely now. "That man," she murmured, smiling through her tears. "That clever, crazy, incredible Time Lord."
"He saw us," her husband whispered, still stunned. "He saw us, but pretended he didn't."
"And isn't that just like him?"
For some time neither of them could say any more as they simply hugged each other and cried out all their tears.
"I'm glad we did this. I'm glad we got to see him one last time," she said finally, when her tears had abated.
"Yes," he agreed heartily, rubbing his eyes, "and not just him."
She implicitly understood what he meant. "River Song. Our Melody."
They were both silent again. New tears slid down Amy's cheeks. Her husband sighed, and hugged her again. "You know," he began slowly, "I sometimes wonder what it would be like if they ever met. River and Tony."
To his surprise and delight, his wife burst into laughter. "Oh, that would be a sight to see! River's so –she's so… what's the term? Oh! She's badass-"
It was his turn to laugh this time. "Do you have any idea how strange it sounds when you say it now?"
She grinned. "It's a few years out," she winked, then continued, "and Tony's such a dear, little… imp! Can you imagine?"
"I most definitely can. Forget the bad effects of fixed points in time travel; they'd unravel time themselves between the two of them."
"I don't doubt it," she said, fiercely proud. "My babies should be capable of no less."
"Our babies, dear."
"Right! I forgot." She smirked.
"As usual," he smirked back. "Maybe you need some help jogging your memory?"
"I'd forgotten how handsome you looked in khaki shorts," she said several moments later, laughing rather breathlessly.
"Yeah, well you know me. I've got the calves of a supermodel."
They laughed again, and she kissed him tenderly. "Let's go."
They stood up and dismantled their cloaking device, their 'secret weapon'. They were silent all through their slow trek back to their car. It was a different silence this time, a companionable silence. They had accomplished what they had set out to do.
"Don't forget, we have to stop at the next motel we come across," Amy said as she got in the car. "We have to call Tony."
"Ah, he worries too much," Rory sighed.
His wife grinned. "Don't look at me, he gets that from you. Where's a mobile phone when you need one?"
He snorted and turned on the ignition. "It's a few years out."
She giggled. "That's what you said when you left your phone charger on Henry VIII's pillow."
"In my defence, there's always a plug point next to the bed's headstand, and I was just looking for it! Not my fault the paranoid guards decided to try and kill us at that exact moment." He sounded petulant, and that only made her giggle more.
"Ri-ight, because 16th century palaces were constructed keeping strategically placed electrical sockets in mind."
He chuckled, and they were silent again. "So… where next? After our phone call to Tony, I mean?" –he asked after a minute.
She grinned. "I know just the place." He raised his eyebrows. She paused for effect, and then said grandly, "A town called Mercy!"
Rory Williams laughed, his wrinkled old hands shaking with excitement. This was what they lived for, Amy and him, the Last Centurion and the Girl Who Waited.
A/N: Okay, just some explanations ahead. First of all, the Po- sorry, the Williamses making this little pilgrimage makes perfect sense to me. There is no other time they could be sure of even seeing the Doctor, so they'd snatch at this chance to see him one last time -and River, too, of course. And then, of course, in a fit of nostalgia, they'd decide to go to the one other place they've already been and can visit sans Tardis or jetplane -Mercy. I can picture them sharing a cosy cuppa with the Gunslinger, chatting about old times.
2) I'm assuming the Ponds'(who am I kidding, they're definitely the Ponds) accent is weird because it would have been half-British and half-American: British because they would likely choose to remind themselves of where they came from, and American because that's where they've lived for three decades by 1969. Where that leaves Amy's accent, is for you to figure.
4 -no, 3) Age-wise, assuming the Angel sent them back to 1938, it would have been 31 years from then to 1969. So Rory, in this fic, is 62 years old(he mentioned he was 31 early on in the series) and Amy would be in her late fifties, or possibly the same age as him, considering they grew up together and seemed to be around the same age.
4) For those who don't know, Amy and Rory adopted a boy in the 40's and named him Anthony -this is the Tony I'm referring to.
26) That last line between River and the Doctor was a late addition; I had just rewatched 'The Impossible Astronaut' and the look on River's face when the Doctor says he doesn't trust her is heartbreaking, so I decided I had to add this bit.
E) Also, slight dig at Amy already being a ganger, and so being able to glimpse her future self through the cloaking device, unlike Rory, who is pure human.
And finally, VII) REVIEW. PRETTY PLEASE.