Where We Need To Be
The Doctor stood near the door of the TARDIS, hesitating before reaching for the handle. He had to get out of that box and needed to see a familiar face, and he knew the one person who could help him with his Amy troubles. "Hi, honey," the Doctor said, swinging the door open, "I'm home."
"At what sort of time do you call this?" River Song. She was the closest thing he would get to the real thing. She couldn't solve all the pain, but she could help numb some of it.
He looked at the blonde with a smile, the feeling somewhat foreign. She was sitting on her cot in Stormcage, doing what she normally did: dreaming of the Doctor. The TARDIS blue diary was held within River's hands still, flipping through the pages of their adventures. "So," the Doctor asked, "Where are we?"
"I just got back from Amy and Rory's wedding a couple weeks ago," River replied, sitting up, "You asked me to marry you. Again."
"I seem to remember you tricking me into that one, dear," he laughed, remembering his confusion, but also the desperate loneliness springing from Amy tying the knot. Oh, how things had changed since then, but wasn't that what River had warned him that night? The Doctor looked into her eyes, noticing the eager hope in them. She was hoping he was farther along in his own time stream to actually know her, flirt with her, be her husband, not caring that it was on an alternate time stream that never existed. "Lake Silencio, April the 22nd."
"Oh." River's smile turned into a flat line. She still felt guilty about the whole thing, about forcing the Doctor into hiding, and then, of course, embarrassing him with that distress beacon... She wasn't used to seeing one that knew her so well anymore, knowing her as Melody Pond, the woman who killed the Doctor, and it all sort of put River Song on edge.
The Doctor observed her reaction with slight amusement. He wasn't used to a River that knew him so well, either, all his quirks and flaws. Lately, all he'd been seeing were her early times as River, transforming from Mels. "Didn't you say something about the sixth moon of Genoplaux?"
"You remembered!" River sighed, happily, turning her frown upside-down again, running into her husband's arms. He closed his eyes, missing this close contact. The last person to hug him was Amy, when she had gripped onto the Teselecta. The Doctor tried to pretend it was her, but the smell was off. The whole feel was off. River didn't wrap her arms around the Doctor's neck like Amy did, like the comfort of his hug was the only thing keeping her anchored to the ground. She didn't run her hands through his hair in the same comforting way that Amy did. Her head didn't fit into his shoulder like perfect puzzle pieces... River didn't make his heart rate triple and hands go clammy.
And the kiss River had just planted on his lips... It was nothing compared to that night in Amy's bedroom. It didn't make his head spin and hearts both practically stop."Let's get going, Sweetie," River said, taking the Doctor's hand in hers and leading him into the time machine, "Before the guards come by."
He snapped out of his thoughts before bounding towards the console, putting on his "happy adventure time" face on and switching the TARDIS into gear. River followed behind, fixing all the switches and settings as they went along. The Doctor turned around, pointing a finger and narrowing hiseyes. "River..."
"Yes, my love?" she asked, innocently, her hands dropping to her sides.
"You know I hate it when you try to mess with my TARDIS," he huffed, typing the coordinates into the old, black typewriter, "I have been captain of this phone box for several centuries, thank you very much!"
"Honestly," River sighed, "I have no idea what you're talking about! To Genoplaux?"
"To Genoplaux," the Doctor agreed, continuing to eye the woman with suspicion.
APPROXIMATELY 10 MINUTES LATER...
"This is not Genoplaux," River smirked, cockily, "After centuries of being the pilot..."
"Oh, shut up!" the Doctor replied, grumpily, looking back at the console, "I know I put in the right coordinates!"
"Obviously not," she retorted, "Why else are we in Leadworth?"
"Maybe if you weren't mes- Did you say Leadworth?" He stopped, replaying her words. Leadworth? Had he subconsciously typed in the coordinates to Amy's house? The Doctor ran towards the door and threw them open, instantly recognizing where he was. It wasn't Amy and Rory's TARDIS blue door...
"Actually, it's upper Leadworth," she clarified, remembering the trips she'd taken up here as Mels, Rory going on about his dream life in this little neighborhood, "More quiet and dull, if at all possible. Dad always wan-"
"I know. I've been here before." He instantly recognized the old house with the overgrown plants dangling in front of the doorway. He recognized the open fields, tall grass swaying in the breeze, and the flower pots that the Doctor had once accidentally broken on his way out of the TARDIS. "I was here once," the Doctor murmured, walking towards the home, "In a dream. Well, it was more a nightmare, really."
"Doctor!" River hissed, not understanding what her husband was up to, "What are you doing? Just get back in the TARDIS and I'll get us to Genoplaux!"
He stopped and turned around, waiting for the blonde to catch up. "I put in the right coordinates," the Doctor stated, cutting River off from another smart comment, "The TARDIS doesn't always take us where we want to be. She takes us to where we need to be." And for some reason, Amy needed the Doctor... Or maybe it was him that was needing her. But why had they moved? Especially to somewhere Amy had already made known she hated. His hands shook and his stomach filled with butterflies at the thought of being just a wall away from his Amelia Pond. His Amelia Pond, the girl that loved him.
The Doctor knocked on the door, hesitantly, preparing for a flash of red hair, for Amy to open the door with shock as she realized her best friend was still alive. She'd be angry at first, until the Doctor flashed his award-winning smile. She'd jump into his arms, overcome with joy, and he'd hold her tight and inhale her scent and touch her glorious red hair. They'd all go inside and catch up over tea. Green for Amy, earl grey for the Doctor and Rory. River was more of the chai type. Then, when no one else was looking, he'd give her a knowing look, and Amy would get it. She'd get that he knew how she felt. She'd act surprised at first, nervous and insecure, but he'd smile and slip his hand into hers underneath the table. Or maybe he would play it cool, not indulge at all. She was still married after all, and so was he for that matter... Not that he got to make a choice, anyways.
"Rory!" So, it wasn't Amy who answered the door. He felt a little disappointed, but she had to be in the house somewhere. Besides, the Doctor missed the Centurion, though he'd never say that out loud. Rory looked a bit different though. He seemed... Older. His eyes... There was a certain sadness, age, to them. And then of course... "Really, Rory? The ponytail? Again?" It was like that nightmare all over again.
"Coming from the man in the bow tie!" Rory retorted, reaching for his long hair self-consciously.
"Bow ties are cool," he sniffed, adjusting his fashionable neckwear, "Ponytails aren't. You'd think with a fashion model wife, he'd know the trends these days." The Doctor gave a look to River that only made her laugh.
"What? Doctor-" Rory frowned, then lit up with realization, with hope, "You must be from be- before. That means- Is she with you?"
The Doctor looked at his friend, oddly, "You mean River? Yeah, she's right here."
"Hi, Dad!" River waved, before reaching over to hug her father, who was back to being confused. The Doctor didn't make a note of it, though, seeing as he usually was in a state of confusion around the Time Lord.
"Wait," Rory breathed, glimmer and excited twinkle fading, replaced with sadness and something the Doctor didn't quite understand: pity. "When was the last time you saw me?"
"Lake Silencio," the Doctor replied.
"Your wedding. When we rebooted the universe," River recalled.
"You don't know..." the man whispered, eyes growing sad and shoulders slumping. He was clearly disappointed, though the Time Lord wasn't sure what about.
Before the Doctor had a chance to ask what on Earth Rory was talking about, a little body moved in front of the door, latching onto Rory's legs. "Daddy," the girl said, "Who are you talking to?" She was wearing a purple princess costume with a lopsided crown on her dark blond hair, looking up at the two visitors with eyes identical to her father's. She had a button nose, and the Doctor tried placing where that came from. Shame, the Doctor thought, Poor little girl was cheated out of Amy's looks.
"Just some old friends, darling."
"Hi!" the Doctor grinned, "I'm the Doctor!"
"Come play dollies with me!" the girl whined, tugging at her father's trousers and ignoring the strange man's extended hand, "Your tea is getting cold!"
"Oh my God," River whispered, unable to hold the excited grin off her face, "That's my sister! I have a little sister!" Due to River's insistent begging, Rory reluctantly let the two time travelers into his home, leading the Doctor into the kitchen for tea while River ran off with her newly-found sibling to bond over invisible tea and inanimate guests. The two men sat at the old table, awkwardly sipping their steaming mugs. The whole house seemed very old-fashioned and homey. Warm colors were painted on the walls, covered in pictures and art projects made from a child. The furniture was slightly worn and wasn't familiar at all with the Doctor. What was wrong with the stuff he had gotten them?
"I see you moved," the Doctor commented, sniffing the air. There was something else about this place that gave him unease. "I don't like it."
Rory shrugged, his tone sadly reminiscent. "The place you gave us before was just fine, but... There were too many memories."
"Isn't that the point? Building a happy home loaded with memories?"
"Not those kinds of memories." Rory looked own into his mug, before starting, "Doctor, I'm not exactly sure how to tell you this."
"I mean... You don't know anything. How much can I say?" Rory asked, though it seemed he was talking to himself.
The Doctor set his cup down, and stared his friend down with a puzzled expression. "Rory," he said, warily, "You're starting to worry me. What is it?"
"It's like when we saw you at Lake Silencio," the man continued, as if he hadn't have even heard the Time Lord, "And all that 'fore knowledge'! You and Amy were the two geniuses, not me! I can't figure this all out by myself!"
"Daddy?" the little girl called from the next room, "Can River make me pretty?"
"I told her to ask you first," River added, leaning against the door frame. This wasn't what the blonde had planned on doing for her honeymoon, but she wasn't complaining. She was really enjoying this girl time, starting to wonder what the Doctor thought about becoming a father. The biggest war criminal in the universe and the time-traveling madman on opposite timelines... What a conventional family that sounded like.
"Yeah, but no glitter. It takes forever to wash it all off her," Rory sighed, then yelled back, "Lily, no glitter!"
"Clever," the Doctor smiled, "Lily Pond... Like a pond lily!"
"Actually, it's Lily Williams."
"Sure," he snorted, "Why don't you leave the naming to Amy?" Rory seemed to shrink and the Time Lord was starting to piece things together. Rory's old, sad eyes, his reactions to Amy's name, the decor of the house. It wasn't her. Amy liked cool colors with a smart, young feel to it. And why would a model be living in Upper Leadworth when she already confessed it as "hardly me"? The Doctor looked at the photographs. She wasn't in any of them. Stupid Doctor, he thought, ashamed of not noticing before, Stupid, stupid Doctor!
"Lily isn't Amy's," the Doctor realized, his voice soft. River was still hanging in the doorway when he said this, and moved in closer. "Is she?"
"N-no," Rory replied, but didn't elaborate.
"Where is she?" he asked, voice intensity increasing. Something told him this was more than just a simple divorce. The TARDIS brought the Doctor here for a reason. He needed to be here.
"What do you mean she isn't Amy's?" River cried. In her mind, her family was perfect. Her parents loved each other. It was that sort of love River had always hoped to find with the Doctor. If Rory and Amy couldn't stay together, what did that say for her marriage, where all the odds were against them?
"Hush, River!" her husband ordered, eyes staring deeply into Rory's. The Doctor knew her whole belief system, her perfect family picture, had just shattered, but there were bigger things to worry about. "Rory, where is she?"
"She- she's dead. Amy died nine years ago."