Summary: Back from Demons Run, Rory adjusts to the idea that he has a daughter.
River had dropped them off from Demons Run not too long ago, leaving them alone and giving them time to deal with their tremendous burden.
Amy was still in shock, quiet and sad, exhausted yet refusing to lie down after so long forced in a bed. She'd flinch at the quietest sound, and her breath caught every time Rory left her sight for the slightest moment until he learned not to do so. She was sat on the sofa, silent and distraught, teetering dangerously on the edge of breaking.
River's revelation had been only a minimal salve to the pain they both were feeling, and the astonishment had kept the weight of the loss at a distance. But now, alone in the house they once called home, their hearts and bodies felt so, very weary.
Rory could do nothing but wrap his arms around his catatonic wife, his own pain kept at a distance as he held her together. His baby was kidnapped. He had a baby. His wife was pregnant all that time. His wife had been taken from him. His daughter was beautiful. He had a daughter. She was out there, alone and scared and not in his arms. Grown and stunning and brave and amazing. Tiny and crying and gorgeous and helpless. She needed her daddy. She didn't need anything. His arms ached for her. His head hurt with trying to reconcile the truths he knew. His little Melody was River.
Melody Pond. River Song.
River Song. Melody Pond.
He knew he should have fought for the Williams.
How could she have known this whole time?
How could it be true?
He knew she wasn't lying. But still-
He tried- he couldn't reconcile the woman who frustrated and fought and flirted with the Doctor with the tiny, beautiful creature that barely fit his arms. Who'd never really even been there. Okay, he thought. Rational- Melody was a baby. Melody grew up. Melody changed her name. My baby, Melody. Melody, my baby. River Song, my daughter. My daughter, River Song. Try as he might, his head began to pound as he tried to merge the two. It had been hard enough accepting he had a baby to begin with- but that she was…
He tried processing it and moving on, finally standing and doing menial chores, never more than a short distance from his wife, who he'd finally coaxed into the bath. He picked up the few things out of place and put them away as he thought about the last time he'd seen River before… She had looked so happy as she obliviously danced toward him. Oh great universe, his daughter was a convict. He pushed that toward the side until later.
He remembered- oh! Her face. Her surprised, heartbroken face she'd worn when he hadn't known her. Then the mask that came up as she fumbled for an explanation to his worry. How many times had she had to lie to him, just as she had the Doctor? Did that face mean she knew him, and it was unusual for him to not recognize her? The thought gave him hope. Surely, if she had known who he was, if it had hurt her to be as stranger to her own fa- to him, her…father- well, obviously the Doctor would find his girl so she could grow up with him as she was meant to.
Still. She was River Song. How… it physically throbbed to think about it. How could he ever be a father, a mentor, a… an example to that great doctor who'd casually shot up a roomful of Silence while keeping up the flirting and rescuing his wife, when he couldn't even keep her safe as a baby? And River… well, try as he might it just didn't make sense.
While he was going through the mail, he heard a knock on the door. He checked the date and decided they'd been gone just long enough for Mels to come around seeking them out. He cared deeply for his best friend, but he was really not in the mood for whatever trouble she brought with her. He went to open the door, pleas to come back another time already on his lips, when he instead looked up and saw- River.
"Dad!" she exclaimed, stumbling through the door before falling into his arms. He half- carried her to the sofa, laying her down gently on her stomach when he saw the deep gashes that had rendered her weak.
"River?" he asked, already hurrying to get his large kit in his room, "What happened?"
"Oh, let's just say never offer to help corral hungry dragons during mating season. Fortunately, the suit I was wearing took most of the damage."
"Not enough of it," he said wryly as he applied salve to some of the burns, already sterilizing a needle to stitch the larger wounds together again.
"Just a few scratches. Nothing I can't handle. Besides, I've got the best nurse in the universe to stiiiitch me back up!" her voice rose as he started to sew.
"Well, it'll certainly teach me not to jump headfirst in the middle of the chaos again." He laughed at the ridiculous, blatant falsity in that statement. "So," she said conversationally, "where are we?"
Rory took a moment, concentrating on the problem he could fix before replying.
"We just came back from Demons Run," he said quietly, trying to hold in his tears. He felt River tense up under his hands. "Keep still, almost done."
"Oh, Dad- Rory. How are you doing?"
"Amy's in the bath. She's still pretty shaken up, but getting better, considering. I think it's going to take a while to process."
"Well, I didn't ask about Amy, I asked about you."
He thought about it for a moment, focusing on her wounds when the recent past became too much to bear.
"Someone stole my wife and my baby and I never even figured it out. And I held her- you, and I couldn't tell. Twice. They fooled me twice. And now, she's out there somewhere, alone and scared and needs me, and there's nothing I can do about it but wait for the man who barely found her- I mean you, the first time. I've had better days." He kept up his task as he talked, somehow taking comfort in his current chore, the familiar work keeping his hands and mind occupied and keeping his world from completely crashing.
"I have a daughter." The words rushed out of him faster than he could stop them. The thought was so foreign yet so familiar to him, and he needed to share it with someone. Someone who wouldn't immediately ache at the words. He was a… father. He, Rory Williams, was a dad. Despite the pain, he still felt a thrill go through him when he thought about it. Plain, simple, ordinary Rory Williams from Leadworth had helped create a person. A real… new person who didn't exist before. And she was his.
He tapped River's shoulder lightly, signifying the completion of his task, and instead of looking back to inspect his work on her back as he'd expected her to do, she simply trusted him and turned around to lift her eyes to his.
"I know," she said, a sad smile flitting across her face.
"She is so beautiful," he continued, referring to both the baby and the woman before him.
She breathed out another smile for him, reaching for his hand familiarly.
"Thank you," she replied, smiling the same smile he'd seen when she'd told them her real name.
He looked at her, tears watering his eyes, before he patted her hand and stood up, putting his supplies away.
"What can you-" he started, changing his mind with a shake of his head, "Will he find you?"
"The Doctor always finds me. But that's not what you want to know."
"No, it's not." He busied himself with things that could wait, just to keep doing something.
She stretched her arm out, testing her mobility gingerly and wiggling her fingers before rotating her shoulders carefully.
"Well, could've been worse I suppose. Tea?" she asked, standing up and heading for the kitchen as Rory went to put his kit back. Amy was still in the bath, tears falling silently down her face. He squeezed her hand just to reassure her; she looked up at him briefly, kissing his palm before turning straight ahead and resuming her tragic staring. It broke his heart. He kissed her hand before he left her to her thoughts, leaving the door ajar so she wouldn't feel alone.
When he entered the kitchen, River set a cup in front of him, and he sat, head in his hand as he sipped noncommittally.
"So… erm… when are you? Sorry. Not used to having to ask that."
She smiled softly at him.
"Oh, I last saw you two on one of the undiscovered moons of Jupiter. The Doctor likes to think he's the one who discovered it. Bless."
"Of course," said Rory, with a nod of his head.
He remained quietly in thought for a moment more, before daring to ask his question.
"Am I a good dad? Will I be- to you? Am I… Will I be a good father?"
She gazed softly at him, reaching across the table to hold his hand securely in hers.
"It took me 3 transmats, 2 short- range teleports, 4 space shuttles, and 3 promises of various good times for me to get here. I don't do that to reach just anybody."
"Good times?" he questioned, raising his eyebrow suspiciously.
"Don't worry," she laughed, "other than the odd fantasy of whatever hallucination my lipstick induces, I'm a private party kind of girl."
"Right… And, it's the Doctor, right? This- party?"
"You've had a long day already. Do you really want me to answer that?" she asked with a smirk, lifting her cup to her lips.
"Don't really think you need to, actually," he said, staring off into the distance. Finally, he closed his eyes, exhaustion finally catching up to him.
"How long since you slept?" He heard her ask softly.
He rubbed his face, wiping the fatigue from his eyes as he sighed.
"Don't know. The Doctor insisted I get a few hours before… well, I wasn't used to needing sleep before going to battle. Probably been a few days."
"You need to rest." The sympathy in her voice brought his eyes up to hers once more before he began looking aimlessly around the room, lost.
"Too tired to sleep. Besides, I don't think I'll like what I'll see when I close my eyes." He was amazed at how easy it was, even more so now that he knew her real identity, to talk honestly with her. Well, he tried to be honest with everyone, but he rarely reached so deep to share.
He suddenly felt River's hand on his face, pulling his gaze to focus on her. She stared into his eyes with an intensity that left room for no argument.
"I'm right here. Dad… whatever happens, however hard the next few days or weeks or months are, remember. I'm right here. And I'm okay now. And I come home, to you, always. No matter how far away I go, no matter how lost I get. I always find my mum and dad. And for better or worse, that's you, Rory Williams." She smiled, a loving, reassuring smile that he barely saw through the tears that filled his eyes. Then she reached out and kissed his forehead, hugging him tightly to her as he, too, held her close.
"And it's you too, Amelia Pond," she said as she pulled away.
Rory whipped his head around to see Amy standing in the doorway, a lost, tear-filled expression on her face. He jumped up and put his arms around her, pulling her numb body into the kitchen.
River came and held her close, letting Amy cry silently into her shoulder for a few minutes, Rory rubbing her back soothingly. Then she looked up, a question in her eyes.
"Shh, don't speak, Mum. Don't say anything. It's okay. I know it hurts. But you'll be alright. I promise."
With that, River and Rory led Amy to their bedroom, finally persuading her to the bed. River stepped back, and Amy inhaled sharply.
"Don't leave me."
Rory watched the expression on Rivers face, how it clenched and she struggled before turning and kneeling by the side of the bed, as though Amy were the child.
"You need to sleep," she half- whispered, running a hand soothingly through his wife's hair. "Besides, Dad is here. He'll always be here. You don't have to be afraid anymore. No one's coming for you. I swear it. We won't let them."
Amy looked up into her eyes, scared and doleful, before Rory put a hand on her shoulder, squeezing tightly. He wasn't going to leave her.
"I don't think I can do this," confided Amy to her (relatively new) family quietly.
"Yes you can," said Rory, pulling Amy into him as he stretched out on the bed to lie fully beside her.
A long while passed, grief and small comforts all mingled in the air.
"How can you be so sure?" Amy finally broke the silence.
He pulled her into him, breathing in her reassuring scent now that she was safe in his arms again. Then he looked up and smiled close to her ear.
"Because the woman standing right there is River Song. And River Song is Melody Pond. She's our daughter. And if we can make a person like that, together, we can do anything."
River smiled lovingly at Rory, her eyes slightly moist at hearing his easy acceptance of her. She stood up, kissing Amy's head softly before pulling the covers up over both of them, kissing Rory's temple as well before standing again. Amy's eyes never left River until she reached out, squeezing her hand for assurance. Then, for the first time since she woke up alone in a dark tube, she closed her eyes, the comforting and safe face of her grown child the only thing she allowed her mind to see as she fell into an uneasy slumber.
"Sleep," said River, squeezing Rory's hand gently as she backed away from the room. "And know I will always find you two, however long it takes."
Rory smiled at her, holding Amy tighter against him as he let his breathing even out.
That woman was River Song. His baby girl was amazing. He let different memories of her float through his mind as he obeyed her request. River, confiding in him as they battled the Silence. River, coming in like a superhero and defeating a dalek. River, so cool and collected as the Doctor berated her in his fury and frustration. River, destroying the entire room of aliens that had captured his wife. Her mother- of course! Oh, she was brilliant. He smiled when he realized just what a remarkable woman his Melody would become.
Then his thoughts turned to the baby he had just lost. She was… so magnificent. Her tiny fingers, reaching out uncoordinatedly to him. Her petite feet, kicking softly as they stretched newly in the big world. Her eyes, that pulled him in and demanded his entire universe, which shifted to consist mostly of her from the second he heard her cry. He closed his eyes, content as he remembered just how hard she had just worked to find her way to him in her time of need, once again. Somewhere out there, his baby was waiting for him. Downstairs, his daughter was safe. The Doctor would find her. She would have her dad and mum- he was sure of it.
Unprovoked images of River and the Doctor came to his mind, lulling him to sleep with his newfound paternal instincts, knowing his daughter was loved so. The Doctor and River- ha! Was she ever a match for him.
Rory pictured them at the café, where she slapped the Doctor hard after he invited them to watch him die. And on his arm, as the world ended, playfully more worried more about his hat than the collapse of time. So much of his wonderful wife in her. She had put the Doctor in his place as the eternal Time Lord learned the consequences of playing god with the universe. Their easy banter as they faced down a host of monsters, as though that was just another ordinary day for them. It probably was. Rory felt himself drifting to sleep as he concentrated on her happy humming and her smile as she danced her way to him after what was apparently a very nice birthday. Then his eyes flew open, a flash of adrenaline coursing through his veins, hand reaching for a sword he knew should still be close by as the new father remembered more and more.
Quite the screamer. Whole different birthday. Wait- that was his baby girl flirting with the Doctor. That was the Doctor flirting with HIS BABY GIRL! Oh, he was going to kill him…