Summary: Those old photos your parents bring out to embarrass you can cause even more discomfort when you're a time traveller.
Notes: Just some humour to offset the recent angsty chapters. Enjoy! As always, reviews greatly appreciated.
It was the day after Easter, River's first with her new husband, even though he seemed farther ahead this time.
They were at her parents' house, enjoying a very peaceful day in. Of course, the Doctor was getting bored, so all the Ponds were joining in to keep him from wreaking havoc in the name of amusement. Rory had suggested several games, River had suggested something River-ish, but Amy had captured him with the idea of bringing out the photo albums. It would be fun, she reasoned, to relive memories with the knowledge of who their best friend had been. Immediately River protested.
"Mother…" she warned.
"Let's not. I'm warning you. It won't end well."
"Oh River, come on. He'll know it all eventually, and I'm your mum. It's my job to embarrass you."
Resigned and rolling her eyes, River sat next to her mother as Amy began their childhood story.
"And this is Mels and I when we were 9."
"I'm in the background. Amy had dared me to jump off a bridge, hence the broken arm," inserted Rory.
"You made him jump off a bridge?!"
"It was in a mini golf course! And, it was only because Mels wanted to know how deep the water really was. I wanted her to know it wasn't safe."
"Yes, thanks for that," responded Rory dryly.
"And this is when we went to the petting zoo. Remember, that ostrich kept chasing Rory around?"
"Yeah, because someone slipped a handful of seeds in my back pocket."
"It seemed like a good idea at the time." River shrugged.
"And here's that school trip to the museum..."
And so the afternoon went, with Amy telling the Doctor stories of his wife and in- laws and their shared childhood. Poor Rory seemed to be an object of great amusement to his girls, and River and Amy were laughing heartily at times past. Until suddenly, in the natures of mothers everywhere, Amy pulled out an incriminating photo.
"NO!" shouted River immediately, lunging for the picture. Not normally one for being shy, she found she was still cautious with what information her new groom had about her, at least as far as her past was concerned. Amy, of course, ignored her.
"Oh come on! It's not your fault. You were young. Impressionable. You didn't know any better. We all make our mistakes, Melody."
River scowled, then lunged for the photo again.
After some very impressive wrestling between the trained assassin and the Scottish ginger, Amy flung the picture at the Doctor, who caught it out of instinct. Suddenly, his eyes went wide and he understood River's desire to keep this part of her life from him. His lips curled up into a wide smile.
"Oh! Well... This is... Let's talk about archaeology. Love an archaeologist," he said, trying to hold in his laughter whilst manoeuvring and lifting his hands to keep the photo he couldn't take his eyes off out of his wife's reach.
"You do not! You point and laugh at archaeology," said River grumpily, climbing all over the Doctor in a futile attempt to retrieve the picture, his long arms working to his advantage.
He stood up on the sofa, Amy tackling River off again, as the Doctor inspected it closely.
"Said I loved an archaeologist, not archaeology," he mumbled out of the side of his mouth, now standing on the back of the sofa as River suddenly froze, moving Amy aside as she looked up.
"Did you just say you love me?" she asked the Doctor, astounded.
The Doctor blushed, realizing his last statement and the implications. He cleared his throat, abruptly straightening his bowtie as he looked down at a mischievously smiling River with wide eyes.
"I don't recall mentioning any specific name," he tried to maintain.
She got up, Amy now relishing her Raggedy Man's embarrassment far more than her daughter's, and she slinked toward the Doctor, staring straight ahead at his midsection, before slowly raising her head, a knowing and impish smile on her face.
"You. Love. Me," she taunted, dancing her fingers up his chest.
He gulped, trying to think of something, anything to say, but was cut off from replying because at that moment, River's hands reached his bowtie, pulling him down into a happy kiss. He didn't know if she had climbed up or he had climbed down, but all of a sudden she was directly in front of him, more easily accessible as he wrapped his arms around her, reciprocating the hug she had initiated as she nuzzled her head into his neck. He laughed as he pulled away, kissing her lightly on the nose as she beamed up at him.
"Hmm. Well, I must say, Doctor Song, I've always thought archaeology was one of your biggest gaffes. But after seeing this," he declared with a sneaky look, bringing the picture back up to eye level and earning an astounded swat as he jumped behind the sofa with Amy, River hot on their heels, "I might have to rethink that position."
And so the chase commenced, Amy and the Doctor tossing the picture between them, Rory wisely staying out of the way, clearing his throat and looking pointedly at the photo albums when River turned to glare at him.
"Tell me, wife, did all the others get to wear that outfit, or was it just you?"
"It was a long time ago- Doctor," she said, making another lunge.
"It was just her, because she was the oldest one in the group- all the others were children! And you should have seen her! She brought tears to our eyes!" Amy said with a wide grin, still trying to outrun her daughter.
There were a million thoughts of revenge going through River's mind, most of them directed at her mother. She glared at her. "What?" Amy asked innocently. "All mother's are allowed pride in their daughter's hobbies."
"You dared me to do it!"
"I didn't think you would actually go through with it! But I must admit- you were the cutest of them all."
"Indeed!" declared her traitorous, highly amused husband.
"Give. That. Back," River growled dangerously, warning both of them as they stood behind a stool, the Doctor clutching the photo to his chest. And if Amy happened to be in the perfect place to act as a human shield between the Doctor and his wife, that was purely coincidence.
Suddenly, Rory yelped, bringing everyone's attention back to him.
"Doctor- you're in this picture!"
That brought the chase to an abrupt halt, before the Doctor lunged over furniture, reaching for the photo album.
"No I'm not!" he yelled, sending a panicked look to River, who crossed her arms over her chest in satisfaction, just as Rory held the album out of his reach.
"Yes. Yes, you are. Right here," he said, now sharing his discovery with Amy, who had come up next to him to inspect. He flipped the page.
"And in this one." They kept flipping pages, Rory quite adept at keeping the Doctor from taking the album from his hands. Amy and Rory poured over photos from their past, with River peaking over occasionally with interest.
"Oh!" cried the Doctor, suddenly getting very loud and feigning realization. "That must be the time I temped at your school. Must have slipped my mind, getting old you know. Can't be expected to remember everything." He spoke casually, but Rory noticed him rocking back and forth on his heels, normally a nervous or excited habit.
Amy looked up at him, perplexed.
"When did you temp at our school?"
"Oh, it was years ago, Pond. Not important now," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
"But- these are different years. And not just school. You- you keep showing up," replied Amy, looking through the album incredulously.
The Doctor looked uncomfortable, and a bit nervous.
"Yes, well. I was curious. You know. All those years…" he trailed off, looking toward the door that led out to the TARDIS in longing.
"So, what, you wanted to see how I got on? Like a secret… guardian or something?" asked Amy finally, thoroughly confused as she and Rory looked up suspiciously at the squirming Time Lord.
Finally, River cleared her throat.
"Ahem. Mummy…" she said, with a triumphant yet sly grin on her face, causing the Doctor to blush a deep red.
Amy and Rory looked up at her in bewilderment, before their eyes went wide in scandalized realization and Amy turned to slap the Doctor on his arm.
"Raggedy Man! She was a teenager!"
"No she wasn't! She was at least twenty, probably older!" he defended weakly, rubbing the spot that was surely bruising.
"How did you even manage that- she was trained to kill you?" Rory always was the pragmatist.
"Well," he boasted, adjusting his bowtie proudly, "I'm brilliant."
"Oh, stop admiring yourself, honey. That's my job." River winked at her husband before looking toward her parents. "Someone," she looked accusingly at Rory, "was still refusing to admit his feelings to Amy, meaning I was in danger of never even being born. The Doctor was oh so kind enough to inform me of when exactly in your timeline I would… begin. But, I knew I had to begin on the TARDIS, or my entire life would be rewritten, without any regeneration or Time Lord abilities. So, you see. I couldn't afford to kill him until after you two were married."
"So instead you dated him?"
"Seemed reasonable at the time. Get to know your target and all that. Plus, he's hot." Amy shook her head in bemusement in her daughter's logic.
"So you had entirely pure motives in visiting my daughter years before she was your wife?" asked Rory suspiciously, daring the Doctor to lie.
"Well…" he said, looking to River for help. She smiled at him coyly, obviously not interested in saving him at all this time.
"Rory, get the sword," demanded Amy, fire in her eyes as they bored into the man who had clearly taken advantage of her Mels' naiveté, if indeed anyone would dare ever call River Song naïve.
"What?" cried the Doctor, as horrified comprehension struck his features, "No! Pond! Ehhh! Nothing like that! I was bored! And you were gone, and River was off with other me! What else was I supposed to do?"
Both Amy and Rory were tapping their feet, their expressions threatening, challenging the Time Lord to explain himself.
"Uh-huh. And what exactly did you two do to stave off this… boredom?" asked Amy in disbelief.
River looked up, waiting to see exactly how her parents would handle the next statement. Well, her mother, mostly.
"She was bored too! Said she wanted to explore her heritage. So… we went to go see where her mother was born," he mumbled as he stared intensely at the ground.
"You took our teenage daughter alone to Scotland?!"
"NO! She took me!" defended the Time Lord, holding his arms up in a helpless manner.
"Right. And how, exactly, did she manage that without the TARDIS?"
Now he looked completely uneasy. "I may have… borrowed a bus for us to get there."
"You stole the bus?!"
"She said she returned it!" he looked at his wife accusingly. Her eyes narrowed.
"Yes, and ask him why we went through those botanical gardens," she challenged him.
"I thought it was a shortcut!"
"You can't drive a bus any better than you drive the TARDIS! Do you have any idea how long my mother lectured me for that stunt? And my father?" they were in their own little world now, the Ponds completely forgotten as the two Time Lords began to bicker.
"I drive the TARDIS perfectly! You just like to make everything boring!"
"Yes, like when I say- hey, Doctor, I'm pretty sure this isn't a shortcut."
"Did you get home or didn't you?"
"Yes, after Amy bailed me out of jail! There's still an arrest warrant out on you, by the way," she said, now nose to nose with him as they argued.
He smiled at her proudly then, amusement pouring through.
"No, there isn't. I went to the records room myself. Seems someone else beat me to it," he bopped her on the nose, grinning.
"Hmm. Wonder whoever could have done that," she said demurely, staring at his lips.
"Yes. It's quite a mystery," he continued, gazing down into her face with a knowing smile, leaning forward toward his wife.
"Isn't it just?" she said, leaning into him until their lips nearly met before pulling back at the last second, her grin wide as she at last held up the incriminating photo in triumph.
Amy and Rory stared at the couple in amusement, surrendering both their parental indignation for a teenaged Mels and their wonderfully awkward picture with twin sighs, smiling at their daughter's determination to make sure it never saw the light of day again whilst the Doctor pouted off to the side.
That night, River stared at the photo in her hand wistfully. For all the mocking she had endured, and the embarrassment she would never admit to aloud, she had had fun back then. Her parents had even shown up, as well as her all of her grandparents (though no one knew that except her), and they had even proudly taken a photo of "Mels' hobby," only Amy declaring it ridiculous out loud. Suddenly, River came to a decision and stood up, looking around to make sure she was absolutely alone, and, disabling all cameras, she closed her eyes, reenacting her tap routine from long, long ago.
When she opened the special box that was deadlock sealed and designed to keep items from ever seeing the light of day, she moved aside an old arrest warrant, then placed the photo in the box, about to ensure the continued deniability of its existence, when she leaned forward and gave a frustrated groan, and began planning revenge. Because behind the dark-skinned teenager wearing an absurd giant sunflower on her head with a green leotard and matching tights stood a wide-smiling man in a bowtie.