Trouble - A Doctor Who Story

Chapter 7


The Doctor sat on the top step of the William's brownstone hunched over River's hand-link scrutinizing figures with a discontented look on his face. The door was open and therefore Clara noticed the Doctor sitting on the stoop while walking through the foyer.

She walked out onto the landing and approached him slowly, trying to gauge his mood. Clara then sat herself down on the step next to the Doctor and he appeared not to even notice her. She waited a moment and then playfully shoved him with her body and shoulder. That took The Doctor away from the screen and he gave her a small smile.

"You okay?" Clara asked. "You fine?"

"Yes. Yeah." The Doctor told her. "Just running some calculations." He gestured with the hand link and then looked back at the screen again.

Clara took a moment before speaking. "I've been waiting to ask you something..." Clara looked at him. "Wasn't sure if I should. I couldn't ask in front of everyone. Don't want to over step."

"You can ask me anything, Clara." He smiled at her. "I just can't promise you'll get the answer you're looking for."

"Yeah, that's just it..." She took hold of a word from the Doctor's last sentence. "Curious - back before, in the Tardis, after the library, before I knew who Melody was, you said she was your biggest "broken promise." What did you mean by that?"

The Doctor got a somber look on his face, yet grinned a little through it. "Well..." He looked at Clara. "A long, long, time ago. When River was first taken. Little Melody. I made a promise to Amy and Rory I would bring her home." He paused.

Clara was lost. "But you did."

"You read her diary. Not for years after. She was all grown up by then." He paused for a moment and looked out. "I failed." The guilt dripped like buckets off his face.

"But you did your best. In the end you protected her."

"…Not well enough."

Clara's heart was breaking for her friend.

"I promised on my life, Clara." He looked at her out the corner of his eye. "I don't say that lightly."

They heard the noise of the scampering feet of the young pre-teen persuasion.

"The food is ready!" Daphne called to them with glee.

The Doctor got an equally gleeful look on his face and turned around in an almost half jump. Daphne giggled and the Doctor took her by her waist and tossed her over his shoulder. "Who wants to fly!?" he said with the joy of a grandfather with his granddaughter. Daphne laughed and they zoomed away, complete with the Doctor making flying noises as he glided down the hallway.

Clara smiled, but with a concern for The Doctor, and then followed The Doctor and Daphne towards breakfast, shutting the door behind her.

Across the street, in a house similar to Amy and Rory's, a lone light shined in a ground floor window with light blue curtains. One of the curtains was pulled to one side, as if someone had been looking out and then fell forward, covering the entire window again. Perhaps they had woken someone after all.

Later, Amy, dressed in day clothes now, her hair half down, leaned against the counter in her kitchen, reading what looked like the manuscript Brian had given Clara. Amy's glasses were pressed on the edge of her nose, while Clara and Rory swapped travel stories and Daphne listened in awe. The remains of breakfast and a glass milk bottle were on the table in front of them. Dirty dishes still sat half-empty on the dining room table in the other room.

"Clara?" Daphne asked "Do you think we'll have time to sight-see? I've always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. I left New York City when I was five –I've never been."

"Eh…" Rory got a bad look on his face. "It's not all it's cracked up to be." Rory picked up Clara and Daphne's plates and brought them to the sink. Amy took her hand and rubbed Rory's back to console him.

The Doctor sat in the den reviewing the same calculations on River's hand-link from before. He didn't seem happy with what he was finding. The Doctor stood up and walked through the kitchen looking lost.

Clara chuckled loudly at something Rory had just said while Rory made his way back to the table and his adoring audience.

"Where's River?" The Doctor questioned quickly. "Has anyone seen, River?"

"Haven't seen her since we finished eating, actually…" Clara stated. "Is something wrong?"

"She's in there -" Amy pointed, not looking up, engrossed by the manuscript. She leaned back again against the kitchen counter top causing her reading glasses to fall further down the bridge of her nose.

The Doctor looked towards where Amy was pointing.

Rory leaned in to Clara, and she could tell he was about ask her a private question, one he was almost afraid to ask. "I suppose… you wouldn't by chance…. know what's happened on Breaking Bad, would you?"

Clara tried not to laugh.

The Doctor walked out of the kitchen's second door and into a hallway, straight for the door Amy had pointed to next to the den and opened it.

"River…" The Doctor walked in to find the door did not lead to a regular room, but to a small washroom, where he found his wife deep in a bath of soapy suds.

The look of shock on The Doctor's face and the awkward gestures he made with his hands and arms made River laugh, as he averted his eyes unsure where to direct them.

"It's not like you haven't seen it before?" she cooed.

"Have I?" he asked with surprise and anticipation.

River's eyes grew large and she nodded her head. "We are married. For ages now. Your rule doesn't apply to everywhere. " River often couldn't help herself in teasing him.

"Ohh! That's the rule." The seemed to get it now.

"Ohh, spoiler there for you." She leaned her head back on a towel behind her and sighed.

The Doctor straightened up and walked towards River in the most suave matter he could muster. He sent his hand through his hair and away from his forehead.

"I like the new outfit. Purple really is your colour..."

"Don't change the subject. We're here on a mission and you're taking a bath?" he asked accusatory. "Seems against the rules…" he toyed with her.

River gave him a terrible and sassy look. "Oh, please, all we are doing now is waiting around for the big event. I don't know about you, but I'm talking a bit of a holiday - I think I deserve it." She looked at him crossly. "Besides, the University has been on a hot water shortage for nearly a year now."

The Doctor sat down next to the edge of the tub and against the wall across from River's head. "You could take a bath on the Tardis, if you ever really wanted one."

"Yes, well, but it's just not the same. Sometimes an earth girl misses home." She took a bit of water from the bath and tossed it towards his face, a few suds landed on The Doctor's nose and he tossed them off with a flirting look on his face.

"Oh, no. That look again… Remember your rule," she teased.

"I wasn't and I don't have a look and well... you're sitting in a tub."

"You walked in here." She gestured toward the bath with her finger.

"Amy said you were in here - I didn't know it was a W.C." He looked around at the garish 1960's décor with a sour look on his face.

"What happened to using the vernacular of your surroundings?" She teased him. "They call it a bathroom here."She waited for what she knew would be a typical Doctor response.

"Because that one's silly. I don't use the silly ones," he stated with perfect seriousness.

River pursed her lips and tried not to laugh. "You came in here for a reason, I assume…" She tried to push him on to his point.

"Yes, well… I did want to talk to you… in private. This appears to be a good enough place as any. I was wondering if, perhaps, there was anything else about that night you remember… or didn't want to talk about in front of your parents. I'm getting anomalies. "

"What kind of anomalies? In the Solar flares? That can be common in such a hot spot such as this." She rattled off her suggestions as if to say, "as everyone knows."

"No, that's just the thing. I thought of that; it can't be. It would be easy to pick up. No, this has to be something else. I had the Tardis figure the calculations through your computer and all she comes up with is that something doesn't match. That something's off. "

"Time is in flux, just us being here is a new element in time."

"Yes..." He nodded his head, as if thinking. "That's why I felt it was best no one leaves the perimeter of the house while we're here."

"I can't imagine our walk from the Tardis could have changed anything drastic."

"Quite." The Doctor nodded his head again deep in thought.

"Could be a temporal echo. Basically, bouncing back like a mirror."

"My first thought, yes. There are small ion signatures. But that is always common, and not enough to show that much displacement with no cause behind it. It could be nothing." He tried to shake it off. "I just want to be sure. We can't afford any surprises." He continued back to his original questioning. "And there's nothing about that night you haven't mentioned?"

"I told you everything I can remember, it's all in the manuscript. I don't know who else told you everything else -" she grumbled the last part.

"Not important." He gestured with his hand to move on. "My fear and concern is somebody was in the house with you, lying in wait. How long did you stay after… after the baby was born?"

"A few days. They didn't want me to leave, but I had to get back. I don't even think the guards noticed I was gone. This was before I started taunting them with my absence for fun." She chuckled.

"The guards? River... were you pregnant… at Stormcage?"

"Yes," she said with a bit of whimsy and mystery in her voice. "You assumed it was more recent?"

The Doctor nodded his head yes, the revelation seemed to hurt his hearts.

The Doctor's concerned face caused River to draw her own conclusions to why he appeared so worried. "Oh, don't worry. They never had a record I was pregnant. I smuggled in my first Vortex Manipulators sometime after the trial. Zapped out once I was showing. Zapped back in as if I never left. Lost that Manipulator in a surprise inspection, I'm afraid. Had to revert back to hitching rides off you again. Until, I found a better hiding place." She smirked.

He paused for a moment before speaking. "You must have been very young. I just assumed..." It all seemed to be clear to The Doctor.

"I was," she said with deep emotion, yet trying not to make him feel guilty – hiding the damage.

"So, when did you figure out the map, then?" He had always assumed it was an older wiser River who had found it.

"Spoilers," she grinned.

"River -" he said her name with a grumble.

"Ask a different question, then?" She smiled. "You invented this game."

"Special circumstances and you know it... yellow flag on the play. "

"Alright… " She looked at him sideways for a moment. "... It is in both our pasts now. I'll give you that one." She still looked skeptical.

The Doctor nodded his head at her in agreement.

"At University." River appeared pretty impressed with herself.

"And you believe it was 9pm tomorrow night, the 16th November, 1969?"

"It's the time on her birth certificate." She paused. "But yes, I know."

The Doctor looked at her oddly. "She has a birth certificate?"

"My father had it made up. He's still in the medical field. He had his ways."

The Doctor took a breath in, as if he was about to ask something difficult. "River…" He scratched under his left eye and then looked away. "I do have a more delicate, I mean to say…I was just. Can I ask… "He paused to find the words. "When… I mean .. who… When… did we..."

"Doctor, are you asking when we conceived our child?" She took delight in his awkwardness

"I was just curious the time line…" he averted his eyes from her. "For figures and… so on."

"Oh, really?" She began to tease him. "So you're not asking which one of you it was, then?'

"Of course not!" He balked at the comment, but River knew him too well.

"Doctor, I do believe you are actually jealous of yourself." River leaned forward and The Doctor saw a large bruise on her back.

"River?!" He laid his hand near the bruise, but made sure not to touch it. "What is this- what happened? Who did this to you?"

"Oh, that..." She tried to look at her backbone and then leaned back against the back of the tub again. "Comes with the trade. " She saw the disturbed look on his face. "Don't look at me like that. A professor's salary doesn't pay all the bills - I have to take on a few freelance jobs when you're not around. I think I got that one helping some daft heiress find the lost goblet of Vega 9. Quite dull. Oh! But, next week. Well, two weeks really. The most fascinating dig. Oh, you'd fancy this – right in your wheelhouse. I was hired on a team by this this multi trillionaire. No disposition what-so-ever. He asked me to sign all sorts of documents. I'm sure you can guess where I told him he could put them..." She laughed. "He has me helping him look for this abandoned planet - an entire library. Every book ever…"She looked at his sullen face and how quickly it had become so. "...written... What?" Her eyes perked up. "Oh, we haven't done diaries yet, have we? Here I am prattling on -" She sounded as if she was scolding herself.

"No." He leaned back and looked at her. "I know where we are now." His head felt cold on the tile wall. It was almost like the fantasy had been shattered and real life had crept in. He looked at her crestfallen.

River was confused for a moment, but then seemed to catch on to something. "Oh, no. This is just a distraction to get out of the fact that you are actually jealous of yourself."

"I am not!" he said indignantly. He raised his arms up above his head and leaned towards her from the wall.

Just then Amy's voice was heard in the hallway along with a knock on the door. "Doctor? Are you still in there?"

The Doctor turned his head in the direction of the door and Amy's voice. At the same time, behind The Doctor, he heard the sound of the bathwater in such a way that could only suggest that River was stepping out of the tub. But by the time The Doctor turned back towards the bath, all he saw of River was her leg, as she passed him wrapped in a towel.

"River..." he seemed irritated and stood to face her.

"Doctor?" Amy asked again from outside the door. "Are you both decent?"

River leaned in close to his lips for a moment. "Tell me Doctor, are we decent?" she cooed.

The Doctor looked at River crossly.

"Not my rule." She smirked and tucked the top of her towel in a little more, before passing the Doctor, opening the door and disappearing down the hallway. The Doctor stood in the open doorway and watched River disappear down the hall and into a back room. Amy observed on from the shadows, looking upon the Doctor, recognizing the same look on his face from before. It again made Amy uneasy; it scared her. She held the manuscript tight to her chest.

"Hi." Amy said awkwardly and the Doctor turned to see her. "Can we talk about this?" She gestured with the manuscript in his direction.

He nodded his head yes.

Amy walked into her study first and The Doctor followed. The room looked like most of the house with brown wooden doors, walls and door knobs. The Doctor closed the double doors behind him and turned to Amy.

"I'm spending so much time having conversations in closed rooms today I feel like I'm in an Agatha Christie novel," he joked. "I mention I met her? Must have. Lovely woman. Aces. fancied me…" He pulled on his bow-tie with a proud look on his face.

"Doctor, this really happens?" Amy waved the manuscript in the air in a disconcerted way.

"It would appear so." The Doctor's tone was serious.

"And I wrote it?"

"Do you think you didn't? Because I need to know." He walked towards her.

"No, no it reads like me. It has my word usage and my sentence structure. Plus, it has my wonky G's. I have an old typewriter. The G sometimes sticks. If it's not me, it's a damn good forgery. And it's alright I'm reading this? I mean, what about The Melody Malone book? You would only let me read the chapter headings. Is it safe for me to read this?"

"That was because we didn't know what would happen. And if it was bad we couldn't change it, it would be fixed. This has already opened, it's Pandora's box, but it's good - this is a good thing, we want this to happen. It will all be alright, Amelia, trust me."

"But, If we do something different, if something wrong happens and this doesn't happen will it be like when Rory and I jumped off the roof or like when River wouldn't kill you ?"

"We don't know."

"I see…." Amy bit her thumb nail and started to pace.

"This is the easy bit - what do they say here in America… Easy peasy lemon squeezy?" he said happily and proud of himself, but Amy didn't appear the same. "Easy as tea cakes?"

"Pie… easy as pie," she nervously corrected him and continued pacing.

"You mustn't worry. Tomorrow night, young River pops in and has the baby, we all hide, make sure it all goes according to plan. Just like in that story. She pops out… Young River I mean. We get the map and Bob's your uncle."

Amy turned from her last pace and nodded her head. She looked up and The Doctor saw tears in her eyes.

"Amy?" He asked. "What's wrong? Something else is wrong, isn't it? You can tell me. What is it?"

"Is the door locked?"

"Closed not locked."

Amy walked at a fast gait to the door and locked it. She turned towards the Doctor, her back to the wall, The Doctor walked up to her, seeing she was distressed.

"Rory and I... there's this fake brick in the basement, a hiding place. Each week or few weeks we put a letter in there for Melody… for River and then when we open it again we get a response back from sometime in the past. But the thing is...for the last year, there have been no more letters, just the ones that keep piling up on the basement - our letters. She doesn't answer."

"She's a very busy girl our River," he said softly, fearful she was going down a path he never wanted to go with his best friend.

"But you see, I see the way you look at her and I look back and I think to when I first met River. And I think... in a way you always looked at her that way, but still it's different this time – It's a different look – because now you love her now, right? Yeah?"

"Amelia…" He needed to stop this, but Amy's speech went on like a freight train.

"And I can't help remembering something River once wrote us. That early on, very early on, she couldn't help… feel.. .when she was with you - like she was competing with her future self. Like you were chasing... a ghost…" She took a heavy breath. "But maybe she got it half right. Yeah? And maybe I get it now. Maybe now I get why you tried to run away from her for so long. Why... why you would never admit… " Her emotions were pouring out as fast as her speech. "Because that look, Doctor – the look I see now… when you think nobody's looking - that look you give her - Like it's been forever since you last say her and I just want to know. I deserve to know. Is she… is she…" Amy's face was covered in tears and the Doctor couldn't take it, he couldn't look at her, he held in his own tears and averted Amy's eyes. "Is she dead, Doctor?

The Doctor stopped breathing for a moment.

"Is my Melody gone?" His silence only upset Amy more. "Tell me! Please! You have to tell me!" She was hysterical and The Doctor's face could no longer hold back the truth, confirming to Amy her horrible suspicions. "Nooooo," her voice was a low rasp.

"Amelia Williams…" he said softly and Amy backed away from him. "I am soo, so sorry."

The Doctor took hold of Amy so she couldn't flee from him and his eyes broke with tears. Amy opened her mouth for a scream and nothing came out. He took her head in his hands and let her fall into the arm of his shoulder. And for the first time the Doctor lamented his grief verbally.

"There was nothing I could do. You have to know that I tried. I tried to save her." He stroked her hair. "And that your daughter gave her life as a hero." His face was now wet and he made Amy look at him. "She saved... thousands of people." Amy nodded her head and he put his hands on the sides of her wet cheeks. "Millions and trillions of people in her lifetime. She lived a long, long life. And I..I.. loved her… dearly." And they both cried together. "You have to know that. You have to know that, I could not save her. It was a fixed point. A fixed point…"His mouth opened to cry out, but like Amy he made no sound. "I couldn't rewrite it…"

The one thing The Doctor failed to tell Amy was how he had broken his promise to Amy long before they had ever met. He felt that would have been too hard for Amy to hear – to understand. Instead, he let his friend grieve. Together they grieved.

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