"Trouble is, it's all back to front. My past is his future. We're traveling in opposite directions." ~ River Song
NEW YORK CITY, 1969
River and The Doctor exited the Tardis first; they needed to check things out – River with her gun drawn and The Doctor with his sonic. It looked like they were deep in Central Park New York on a crisp fall night.
"Well, you didn't blow New York off the face of the planet…" River put her gun away.
"Yes, well, not bad for a family outing." He seemed proud of the fact that they had arrived in one piece. "Told you I could do it," The Doctor threw in her face how right he had been.
River leaned in and shook her head at him. "Not without my idea, you didn't."
The Doctor gave River a terrible look and knocked on the Tardis door. "You can both come out now," he shouted.
River noticed the burn marks on the bottom of the Tardis. "Looks like she could do with another repaint."
While River was distracted the Doctor licked his thumb.
Clara then exited the Tradis holding Daphne's hand. The Doctor lightly took hold of Daphne's free wrist, as she passed him, lightly rubbed the hash marks off her skin with his thumb in one stealthy motion. Daphne smiled at the Doctor and he smiled back – to the little girl it appeared to be nothing but a lovely gesture.
River looked up from her handlink computer and took the top of the Tardis into her view. "You change the bulb on top, yet?"
"I've been busy." He responded to River, as if not really hearing her, he was too gleeful for their safe arrival. "Oh, 1969, it's like we were just here." He smiled and clasped his hands together.
"Been ages for me." River gestured with her head. She then looked back at her hand link to check some readings
The Doctor looked down at his sleeve and noticed his own hash tags were sticking out from the cuff. He quickly licked his wrist and turned away from River. Clara noticed this and eyed The Doctor oddly.
River looked up at the Doctor. "What are you doing?" She felt something was wrong.
"Nothing, Dear." He gestured with both his hands and his skin was free of hash marks. He looked relieved.
"Is this really 1969?" Daphne asked with excitement.
"Clara, Daphne you will love 1969. The end of one age and the beginning of another. So many brilliant and amazing things. The Beatles... Ohhh, in about a month Across The Universe will be released. A personal favourite for obvious reasons. Woodstock. Miniskirts." he looked at Daphne. "Not until you're older...no, I take that back, not even then."
Daphne giggled and looked at The Doctor in awe. "Do I really get to meet Great Grandma Amy and Great Grandpa Rory?"
"Yes, but…." The Doctor looked at River who gave him a look back.
Clara saw their exchange and looked perplexed by it.
River looked her granddaughter in the eye. "Daphne, you can never tell them who you are."
Daphne got agitated. "But… no, no… I've read her books all my life, heard all the stories. This is the day I've dreamed about. I want to tell her - I want to talk to her about all the adventures... and her stories."
The Doctor leaned down. "Daphne. I know how important that is to you and I wish that could happen, but we are already on bad ground. You see, no one should know too much about their own future. And explaining to Rory and Amy who you are… would bring up too many… timey wimey... issues. Things they can't change that would only hurt them." He got firm all of a sudden, "I'm sorry... but we can't." He stood up and pulled down his waist coat.
"Who is she, then?" Clara asked, upset for Daphne by proxy.
"A friend," he said sternly. "One of your students. I'm sorry." He gave River a look and then peered back at the girls again.
Clara didn't seem too happy with The Doctor. The Doctor coughed and looked at River.
River was back to business with her eyes on her hand link. "It should be safe for us to continue now, I don't detect any dangers." River put her hand link back into one of the pouches on her belt and replaced it with her gun.
"Brilliant." He looked at Daphne and Clara again. "River and I will forge ahead. You two follow behind."
River walked in front with her gun out, followed by The Doctor and his sonic, while Clara and Daphne did what they were told and walked behind the Doctor.
Clara stared at The Doctor crossly. "So, how do you explain the map then, in your whole timey-whimy thing-a-gig?"
"What do you mean?" The Doctor asked and leaned his head back to hear Clara.
"If you find the baby. Daphne's mother. And take the map; there will be no half-of-a-map to begin with to bring us back here in the first place. "
"Easy. We transfer the map's image directly to the Tardis and then rip the map in half and put it back in the locket for you and me to find in 2013."
"Nice thinking, Sweetie," River hollered back.
"Thank you, Dear." He fixed his tie with his free hand.
Clara gave him a look. "So, that would mean we are the reason the map went missing and we had it all along, but had to give ourselves a reason to come back here and get it. Like some big, giant, time travel circle."
"I never said time travel was simple."
River turned and looked at the Doctor. "But a hell of a lot of fun."
Daphne smiled at River and she smiled back at the little girl. Clara took Daphne's hand and squeezed it for support in the darkness.
Suddenly, The Doctor noticed something on his sonic. "Oh! I have an incoming message?" he said with surprise and childlike elation. "I'll have the Tardis relay it through the sonic." The Doctor stopped walking which caused the entire party to do the same.
"Doctor, Doctor, do you read me?" A male American voice came through the sonic.
"Is, that Jack?" River got a devilish look on her face and ambled up to the Doctor. "Haven't seen him since the Bone Meadows."
"You know Jack?" The Doctor asked, sounding a little jealous.
"River, is that you?" Jack inquired in a state of joy.
"Ohhh, don't start," The Doctor demanded.
"Helloooo, Sweetie," River cooed.
"Hey, hey. I thought I was Sweetie," The Doctor said in an offended tone.
"All I said was hello!" Jack defended himself.
"All he said was hello," River mockingly echoed Jack's words.
"Mate, seriously? Really?" The Doctor got a difficult look on his face.
"Who's that?" Clara asked. She lifted her head toward the sonic.
"Well, hellooo, Captain Jack Harkness." Jack could even flirt with no visuals.
"Stop it!" The Doctor shouted.
"I really don't mind," Clara said sheepishly, after all even Jack's voice was sexy. She grinned.
River grinned. "She doesn't mind," she concurred.
Jack went on with his reason for the call. "Checking in, Doctor, we're one lass short up here in the boonies, any chance you got yourself a tag alone?
"Roger, yes, I mean Jack, Roger, yes. Didn't think I could get a signal through where we are. Tell Anthony she's safe and sound."
"I will." One could tell Jack was smiling. "I relayed energy from my vortex manipulator into my communication link just to get a signal to you – drains the battery, but does the trick. Goin' quiet to save power in case we need to reach you later. The Williams family is safe. Over and out." And Jack was gone.
"We should continue east to get out of the park." River nodded at the Doctor and started to lead. The Doctor began to walk behind River when he heard a low raspy voice behind him.
"Oi," Clara said softly to get The Doctor's attention. He turned around and could tell by Clara's face that she wanted to speak with him in private. He fell back in stride with Clara and Daphne as River continued the lead several paces ahead of them.
"I'm a little lost?" Clara whispered. "How come River is here… when…"
The Doctor stopped her with the look on his face and then gave the same look in Daphne's direction.
Clara got it and put her hands on Clara's ears. She lifted her hands off for a moment when Daphne yelped in protest.
"Just for a jif this time, Daph, I promise." Clara put her hands back over Daphne's ears again.
The Doctor and Clara whispered so River couldn't hear them.
"The River you met was a data ghost from the library - this is the real River, before…"
"Who knows me?"
"It would appear so…"
"How? The last time or…. first time I met her she was – the only other times I've ever met her she's been... well...dead. And she made no indication she knew me then."
"Spoilers. She had to wait to be introduced or wait for your signal. Body language. A look in the eye. She had... has to be careful of spoilers. Always."
"So, this means we're going to meet again…."
" ...for the first time."
Clara digested that bit of information for a moment and then took her hands off Daphne's ears. "Are you alright with this?" Clara asked with concern, still in a hushed tone.
"Why shouldn't I be?" he said more than asked.
"You know, 'cause…" Clara insinuated with her head towards River. "Being back." She paused. "In your life." She looked to be sure River wasn't listening. "After saying good-bye. Closure and all that..." she insinuated further with a gesture of her head and the raise of her eyebrows.
"I'll be fine."
But Clara didn't appear to believe him. There was a pause between them.
"Eh, did I just see you lick your wrist, earlier?"
"Eh, yeah." The Doctor said with an uneasy look.
"And for what reason… may I ask?" She gave him an odd look, as if waiting for an odd answer.
"Getting rid of the evidence. I don't want River or The Ponds to know we ran into The Silence."
River stopped and yelled back. "Are you going to lollygag behind or help upfront?!"
"Nag, nag," The Doctor appeared irritated with her, but it seemed to stem from his own sadness in seeing her again or perhaps from the fear River had overheard the two talking about her. "We happen to be having a private conversation back here."
"Oh, please." She shined. "You love it when I do that."
"It's a Human city park, River, it's not like we're in the Serengeti or Padrivole Regency 9."
The Doctor noticed Daphne was eyeing them oddly. "Daphne, this is just …..how…. Granddad and Grandmum have fun." He tried to be lighthearted.
"Oh..." River laughed and corrected him. "That's not really how we have fun." She smirked.
Clara leaned in and whispered to River and The Doctor. "There are children… a child around… present I mean."
"That won't stop her..." The Doctor made his way past River and started to forge ahead of everyone. "She's said far worse in front of her own parents!" he shouted back and then disappeared into a mass of trees.
River gave Clara a "you've got me there look" and shrugged her shoulders. "In all fairness, they didn't know they were my parents at the time." River then followed the Doctor into the darkness.
Clara didn't know what to make of what she had been told, so she just took Daphne's hand and caught up with River and the Doctor with a shake of her head and a disapproving stare.
The Doctor threw out both his arms as they reached a small brownstone on a cobblestone street. It was the wee hours of the morning, 2:15 am to be exact, dark and foggy, as if they had just missed a fine rain. It was familiar soundings for sure.
"Aww…" The Doctor gestured with his outstretched arms. "Exotic Brooklyn!"
Clara looked exhausted. "I don't understand why you had us walk and take the underground -"
"They call it the subway here," The Doctor corrected her and gestured wildly. "Good rule of thumb, always try to use the vernacular or your surroundings, helps you blend in."
River gave the Doctor a look, as she knew it was very difficult for him to blend in anywhere.
Clara wasn't having it either. "Fine, The subway… when we could have just as easily popped in with the Tardis."
"She's safe in the park - hidden from view - just a precaution. Hard to hide the Tardis in a city like New York. And we don't know what else we might encounter here. Best to keep it hidden. Besides, I can always call her back by remote if we're in a jam." He took a breath, spun around, and faced Daphne and Clara. "Plus… we got a little of a family outing, didn't we?" He leaned over, looked Daphne in the eye and bopped her nose. "Didn't we, Daphne?"
"I saw a man pee in the street," Daphne spoke like she was speaking of the Empire State Building.
"Yes, well… eh..."The Doctor stood up with a disturbed look on his face. "I might spare that little detail to Anthony when we bring you home." He looked over at River, who was standing in the middle of street, not moving forward. "Is this the house?" he asked her, stepping up to her.
"Yes." River didn't look at him. "It looks just like in the pictures. I never saw it from the outside." She looked down at her hands. "Look at me, I'm shaking." She turned to see The Doctor and her eyes were wet. "I'm as nervous as a schoolgirl." She was shocked by her own behavior.
"River," he took her hand. "How long has it been since you've seen your parents?"
"Oh, I don't know… " She paused. "About thirty years or so."
The Doctor tried not to get emotional for her, but it did lead him to wonder something else. "River…how long has it been since we... last saw each other?"
"Oh, yes, we need to do diaries!"
"We can do that later…." he assured her, meaning that wasn't what he meant.
River looked back at the house. "They leave letters for me in a gap space in the cellar and I try to send them letters from the past when I can, but…"
"It's not the same…" He squeezed her hand and she looked back at him. "You should go in first. Have your moment with your parents, River. Besides, the two of us might be too much of a shock - you might want to brace them." River nodded her head and put her gun in her holster.
"Hang on..." Clara spoke up confused. "The article I read said they lived in a flat on the Upper West Side of New York in 1969. Are you sure we have the right place?"
River turned and answered Clara. "She used that flat as an office. Stayed over sometimes. The interviewer assumed. Best to keep it that way. They had to live completely private lives - have to - free from questions." The Doctor nodded his head at River to encourage her, and she nodded back. "Right, then." River then looked at the brownstone, took a breath and walked towards it.
The Doctor made his way back to Clara and Daphne in the shadows, as River descended the stairs of the stoop and knocked on the door.
"Are we going in?" Daphne asked.
"Yes, soon. Your grandmother... River... now remember to call her River in there - is going to ease the shock. We'll wait for her signal."
"It looks just like in the pictures…" Daphne gazed at the William's home in awe. "Only in HD color…"
Daphne walked forward and the Doctor gently stopped her. He knelt down to her level. "Now, remember Daphne, it really is best if you don't tell Amy and Rory who you are. There would be too much explaining to do, like where your mother is….and I don't want to - I mean to say…"'
"No, I understand," she said softly and lowered her head.
The Doctor took hold of Daphne's locket and rubbed his finger over it with love. "And remember to hide this from view. " The Doctor tucked the locket under her sweater to conceal it and then gave her a big smile. Daphne smiled back and he bobbed her nose with his finger again, but then felt that wasn't enough. He leaned in and kissed the top of her head, leaving it there for a while longer than expected and then lifted up. "You're a good girl."
Clara knelt down. "But that doesn't mean you won't be able to talk to them and get to know them."
Daphne nodded her head. Clara and The Doctor smiled at each other. It was then that the Doctor noticed a small paperback book tucked in her pocket. "You bought a book?" he asked her with delight, but he could tell it was a new one. "May I?"
Daphne nodded her head and The Doctor took the book from her pocket and eyed the cover. "Ohh, the Druids!" He gripped the book. "Brilliant selection. Brilliant people, the Druids. Great planners. Zero conversation skills." Daphne giggled at his joy. "Oddly enough...loved the stars, the cosmos – the Powers of Deities. Knowing the future. You'd think that would give us something to chat about. Far too keen on human sacrifice for my taste, or in my case Time Lord sacrifice."
Daphne smiled. "They thought it could tell the future." She had no one to share such things with.
To Clara that was new information. "By Human sacrifice?" She nodded at the Doctor, "Remind us never to go there."
The Doctor nodded his head. "Yeah, well, the irony wasn't lost on me..."
Then, in the darkness and the quiet of the night, they heard the sound of a loud door opening and a Scottish voice broke through the fog with the all too familiar words of, "Raggedy man!"
The Doctor leapt to his feet and turned to face the sound behind him. There, at the top of the brownstone stairs, he saw a figure of a woman holding her hands on the edges of two big front doors. He then saw the sight of the same figure running down the stairs toward them.
"Amelia Pond!' The Doctor shouted so loudly it was shocking he didn't wake the entire neighborhood.
With the biggest smile on his face The Doctor ran in Amy's direction until they each met in the middle of the street where The Doctor lifted Amy up into the biggest hug they could both muster.
"You smell the same…" he whispered as he buried his head into her shoulder for a moment and tried not to cry.
River, and the figure of a man, who appeared to be Rory, stood at the top of the stairs watching the reunion.
"Is it really you?" Amy finally spoke, pulling herself apart from him and giving the Doctor a full view of her face for the first time. Amy, dressed in her bathrobe/dressing gown, was just as he had imagined she would look - a gorgeous woman in her 6o's, still ginger headed, but lighter now, with a few notable gray streaks at her temples, all pulled up into a loose bun like she was Katharine Hepburn. Her eyes still twinkled through her huge grin; making her look the same to The Doctor as the last time he set eyes on her. Tears crept into the edges of her eyes that now had lovely, more visual, wrinkles, which crept outward towards her ears. She actually looked more in her 50's to The Doctor, than her 60's, but either way she was a sight for sore eyes. She looked nothing like the older version of herself The Doctor had once met. Yes, this Amy had lived a happy life and it showed on every inch of her skin.
"Look. At. You," he spoke with delight, taking her face in both his hands.
"I'm old," she retorted.
"No." He smiled large. "You look amazing."
The group had gathered in Amy and Rory's lounge - a room lined with nothing but books and brown wood. It was a very reminiscent of Anthony's vacation home in Scotland. Amy placed a plate of cookies and milk in front of Daphne.
"My son, Anthony, loved these when he was your age," she grinned and tightened the belt on her terry cloth robe.
"Rory! Look at you." The Doctor kept hugging and looking at Rory with delight. "You look so…. "
"...distinguished," Rory said jokingly, with his hand on his beard, he knew he looked much older.
"No, old, but keep telling yourself that," The Doctor said in a way Rory could only laugh at. This was no longer a young insecure boy, but a confident man, or perhaps he just found the Doctor's antics so wonderful to see and hear after so many years –a nostalgic sight for sore eyes.
Rory still had a slight look of that awkward youth he had been, but his maturity seeped through his pores in a way The Doctor couldn't ignore. He wore glasses now and his hair was a mix of a little grey and faded ginger, in his beard and on his head. He had far more wrinkles than his wife, but still looked young for his age. He had changed from his night clothes into a brown sweater jacket with patches that made him look like a grand Englishman out of a story-book.
Amy handed River and Clara each a glass of wine.
"Isn't it a bit early for that?' The Doctor asked.
Clara, Amy and River all gave a collective, "No."
The Doctor and Rory shrugged at each other.
Amy spoke up. "Look at you, brand new outfit," she said as if she liked his new style, making the Doctor show a cocky grin. "Miss the braces, through." She smiled at him. "I'm still lost, Doctor, how you're even able to be here?" Amy sat down in an over-sized chair that River was standing behind.
"DNA lock," The Doctor answered.
River continued, "Same way I was able to come here ages ago and… well… "
"Have the baby…" Rory answered and put his hands in his pockets.
The Doctor coughed and turned away from Rory. River and Amy noticed.
"Yes," River answered. "Susan," she broke the silence. "Her name's Susan." River looked a little miffed no one had yet called her daughter by her first name.
"You didn't bring her? I want to meet my granddaughter," Amy demanded and questioned.
The Doctor spoke up quickly. "Can't be helped, Amy - same reason River couldn't be at Demon's Run until the end. Besides, you'll meet hervery, very soon."
"If you could have done a DNA lock why haven't you come sooner?" Amy asked.
River angled her head towards Amy in the chair. "You need a direct link to bring something as big as the Tardis through, Mother. And even then it's a long shot. When I did it, I didn't even know if it would work - and each time we still could burn a little of New York or lead to burning it completely. But I could be very foolish when I was young." She looked at the Doctor. "You all know that."
"Why are you looking at me when you say that?" The Doctor felt insulted.
River gave him a sassy, "Why do you think look," and straightened her torso up, now holding her Mother's hand.
"You said, we'd meet your daughter our…. granddaughter…" Rory was still reeling from all of this. "Soon…"
The Doctor looked at River for the answer to Rory's question.
"Sometime tomorrow night, from what I remember."
Rory nodded his head, but one could feel he was holding in all his paternal thoughts on the subject.
"But then she stays with us - we get to bring her up?" Amy asked, a little stilted. "To protect her?"
"Yes," The Doctor answered softly.
Clara raised the pen in her hand at everyone. "Don't worry, I'm taking notes, if anyone is having trouble following." She then wrote something down in her notebook. "I know I am… " she said to herself.
Amy was still concerned. "Then, why are you really here? Is she in danger? You took a big risk to come here. It had to be important."
The Doctor didn't answer.
Rory walked over to Amy and sat down in a chair next to his wife and held her free hand. "Is our granddaughter in danger, Doctor?"
"No." He smiled. "She grows up unharmed." He continued to smile, telling them the half-truth.
"You just need the locket?" Rory asked as a confirmation.
The Doctor corrected Rory. "Not the locket, just the map inside, before someone else gets it. And since we don't know when that happens, this was the best point in the time line to intercept that."
Amy gripped her daughter's hand tighter. "But they don't harm her; they just take half of this map?" Amy wanted to be sure. "That you need."
"Yes," The Doctor confirmed. "It leads to the exact location of entry to a pocket universe where I hid it."
Amy was lost. "You hid an entire planet and you don't know where?"
"It's very complicated, Amy. Pocket universes can be difficult to find. It's not like I lost my keys."
"He's done that before," Amy retorted in a mocking tone to the group.
"Have not!" he defended himself.
"Why not just go back and get the map from River, herself? Rory asked. "Before it gets nicked? Why gamble with burning New York and coming back here?"
"It's not that simple," River interjected. She walked around the chair, towards The Doctor, and the front of the room to face her parents. "Any change in what has already happened could alter the timeline. I need to believe I left that map in that locket." She put her class if wine down on an end table.
The Doctor finished for River. "Or anyone else looking for the map. This isn't just about finding Gallifrey. There is more at stake than that. Amy, you're right. This map is dangerous not just because of what it leads to, but because of who could be looking for it. We need to find it before it falls into the wrong hands. The whole universe itself could be in the balance. It's that important."
Rory took a breath in. "And here I thought today was going to be just a normal day." Amy patted Rory's hand.
"I put it there to protect her, "River explained her actions to her parents. "To protect the map, I sonic locked it so only The Doctor could find it, one day - maybe after I was gone - one day when they were both meant to be found. When it was safe for a Time Lord to roam the universe again. But someone somehow was able to get to it. I don't know how." River seemed unable to forgive herself.
Amy, her eyes a bit wet, stood and marched up to River, acting with a mother's instinct and gave her daughter a hug - River hugged back.
"Well..." Amy resolved herself and turned towards the Doctor. "We are here to help. Of course." She took River's hand and then The Doctor's with her other hand and looked him in eyes. "And it is just so brilliant… to see you both... here. Again." She grabbed both River and the Doctor in a big hug taking both River and The Doctor off guard at first.
This caused Rory to feel he had to join in himself. Clara stood around looking awkward, unsure how to fit in - like a spouse at a high school reunion.
The four broke their hug to find Daphne raising her hand.
Amy laughed. "Sweetheart, you don't have to raise your hand to ask a proper question, you're not in school." She smiled at Daphne and then at Clara.
The Doctor grinned. "Daphne is a bit shy, but I think what she wants to ask is... well... she's a big fan of your books." The Doctor clasped his hands together.
Amy smiled. "Oh, well then, come on…" She put out her hand. "I'll take you to my study and show you where I write. And I think I can find some more milk and cookies –oww, been in America too long - biscuits, somewhere... Maybe even a pop-tart or a Twinkie."
Rory laughed, "She's just keen they finally invented Pop-tarts."
Amy smiled. "Like you weren't waiting too." She poked Rory affectionately.
Daphne was agog. "I've never been allowed to have sweets so late at night."
Amy leaned in. "Well, you've never been to The William's house then, have you?"
Daphne smiled back and Amy looked at the group. "Food for everyone too, eh? I think it's time for breakfast. Somewhere." Amy motioned for everyone to follow her into the kitchen.
"River. A word." The Doctor nodded his head at his wife with a direct seriousness. "Can I see you in the next room for a moment?
River nodded her head and they walked into what looked like the William's living room and closed the door.
River turned to see The Doctor leaning up against the closed double doors. "Ohhhh... I can tell by that look on your face. You haven't seen me in a while…" She swayed her finger at him.
"How long has it been since you've seen me last?" The Doctor asked and took a step away from the door towards her.
"Ages. You?" she said seductively, changing the Doctor's demeanor to that of a man on fire.
"Eons," he spoke with a lustful intent. And the next thing he knew he had River's face in his hands and they were kissing breathlessly, in a move that even shocked The Doctor himself.
The Doctor lifted up, his hands on the side of her face, but River saw a look in his eyes that stopped her for a moment. She looked at him perplexed.
"Hello, Wife," he said softly.
"Ohhh, I also know that look… you're about to break your rule," she seemed to scold him. River then broke away from her husband and walked to the other side of the room, making him counter her, almost flipping their positions.
"Oh, you know the rule...Not when we're on a mission and especially not with my parents around. It's a very old rule."
"I made that up?"
"Oh, yes, you did, Sweetie, since before I can remember. Bad, Doctor."
"You flirt with me all the time!"
"I'm not talking about flirting, Sweetie. Your rules; no distractions." She leaned against the door again and smirked at him.
"Oh…" He sauntered over to her, looking very arrogant and sure. "And what does distract me from my work, Ms. Song?"
She laughed and shook her head. "I didn't make the rule up, you did." She bopped him on the nose. "Now, I'm going to have some breakfast. I suggest you join me. Just be thin on the bangers and pancakes, won't you." She poked him in the belly, opened the door and then exited in the direction of the dining room.
The Doctor watched River walk off with a sorrowful look on his face. A look and moment The Doctor wasn't aware Amy was observing from the Kitchen the entire time. The second door to the kitchen had a direct view under the foyer stairs into the den. There was something about watching the Doctor in this private moment that made Amy uneasy. She threw the feeling off and continued mixing the contents of her mixing bowl by hand. Rory came up behind her with some ingredients to help and she kissed him in thanks. Amy then took her gaze off the Doctor as he walked away and down the hall – changing his demeanor back to his usual self.