Characters: Amy/Rory, River
Words: 1,163 per Google docs
Edited by: the calming buckaroobob and first read by booga84
Summary: They eventually discovered that he had lied about New York
Author's notes: I wrote the first two paragraphs of this shortly after The Angels Take Manhattan. I suppose part of me always knew where it would go, but it needed time to simmer. Whether I think it's a fix-it depends on the day of the week, but I do know that the universe deserved more of the Ponds than the Doctor gave it. This is my rather dark attempt to rectify his mistake.
Disclaimer: As always, as I much as I wish it were otherwise, no Whoniverse characters are mine. They are the sole properties of the BBC and their respective creators. I intend no copyright infringement and take no coin. I do, however, love them all and thank the BBC for letting me play in its sandbox.
They eventually discovered that he had lied.
They got out of New York City, of course, after 16 months of temporal culture shock, poverty, loss, fear, doubt, anger, mutual recriminations, screaming fights, and sleeping wrapped so tightly together that they became one under their thin blankets.
They escaped permanent madness, just barely. They had injured each other in the struggle to stay sane; something they’d thought themselves so good at doing as his companions — but that was a lie, too, without the anchors of him and of their parents and of the smell of their own time.
The things they said to each other cut and scarred, and never healed completely, but they only had each other, and eventually that was enough.The cicatrices got tough; they no longer bled, and the two of them understood what had happened and why they had forgiven each other — why they had wanted and needed to forgive each other. They even realized that all the scars were part of who they were now, and that they were stronger than they ever thought they could be. There is something in good, true love that fiercely resists being destroyed, even by Angels or tricksters; they had it and they cherished each other all the more for almost having helped destroy each other.
But they could not forgive him.
One day, the tenement flat (Apartment, that’s what they call it here, we have to remember that, she’d said over and over) became too much for him. He was tired of working two jobs, tired of no tea, bad coffee, thin soups and bean stews. He was tired of living in a foreign land, tired of having no friends, tired of wanting none. He was tired of being frightened about letting the future slip from his mouth, or letting the past poleax him with memories. He was tired of caring for her, weary of letting her care for him. He was angry, and frightened, and hopeless, and he just went to the front cupboard, grabbed his jacket and found his way to the streets.
He headed west from their dingy Stuyvesant neighborhood on 23rd, aiming for Newark; he knew by now that was outside of the city. He made his way there on foot. He paid no attention to his surroundings; people took one look at him and crossed those streets to be away from him. He might have been casting an armored shadow in his madness, but he neither knew nor would have cared had he known; all he wanted was to stop. If he walked to the edge of the city, then walked past it, he thought and hoped, he would cease to be. There was no escape from New York. That’s what they’d been told. So he would just disappear. It would all stop.
When it didn’t, when he took step after step after yard after mile, and morning turned to afternoon, to night and the beginning of a second day away from her, when his feet blistered from the walk, and sense and loneliness occurred to him, he stopped. He looked to the east and saw the young skyline of New York hazy in the distance. He looked around himself and saw the truck gardens of New Jersey. And he did not feel the weight of the Angels. Their gravitation — always with him in New York, despite their apparent disappearance — had vanished somewhere west of Bayonne, across Newark Bay.
When he thought about what that meant, his heart felt as light and hollow as the bones in a bird’s wing.
He carried his fragile heart back with him to her, filling it with rage along the way. She slapped his face, and refused to let him care for his own bleeding feet, instead swallowing her tears and bathing and bandaging them herself. He told her where he’d been and what he’d realized, and she slapped his face again and sobbed the huge, ugly wails of a child betrayed. He held her, and she him, and he cried with her because he, too, had been betrayed by someone he loved.
It wasn’t too long afterward that she’d come. She walked into their tiny front room and told them she had not known the truth until her father alerted the universe to his presence by wandering into New Jersey. Her eyes were bright with tears, and very hard when she spoke of him and his lies. She’d learn to love him again, she told them, but not right now, not when she could not discern the reasons behind his stranding them there. They had both nodded, their eyes like hers.
She handed them vortex manipulators. These are good manipulators, she said. They’ll last you a long time and here, here’s how you use them. They listened carefully, then drank with her that night; cheap Italian red that tasted much better than it should have. They’d asked her what they should do, whether they could go home now.
She’d shaken her head regretfully. He lied, but he told some truth, too. The timelines are stretched and attenuated around you, despite the Angels’ disappearance into other realities. You can’t jump forward or back around here without breaking them, and bringing god knows what into this world — perhaps even the damned Angels. We can’t afford that, she’d said. So, no, not yet. And when she said that, the two of them had let out breaths neither knew they had been holding, because “not yet” was not “no.”
Go, she told them. Leave this place. Leave this world. Go to the 35th century, to the Asteroid belt. I have funds there. I’ll meet you. It’s the dawn of cheap interstellar travel for the masses, and you can travel wherever you please, within the First Empire’s Humanish environs. Without the TARDIS to translate, you’ll need time to learn new languages, but I know you’ll learn them she’d said. I know you both, and you will be magnificent. That’s when she broke down, and they had had to comfort her.
When she finally dried her eyes, she resumed. When you’re ready, you contact me. I’ll let you know. And then you can come back. And don’t worry about the family. I’ll tell Brian. I’ll tell Grandmother and Grandfather.
I won’t tell him, not until I find out why.
They had embraced; mother, father, daughter. They looked around the little apartment, and he’d insisted on leaving a month’s rent on the table, and his daughter had smiled, and his wife had laughed giddily. Then, with a twist of light, and a rush of air sucking into the vacuum of their sudden absence, they were gone.
The stars welcomed them, and they welcomed the stars. They did not come back, not for a long, long time. And because she was never able to find out why he had lied, she could not tell them the truth.
They did not forgive him.