Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: the Eleventh Doctor, River Song, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Relationships: Eleventh Doctor/River Song; Amy Pond/Rory Williams
Edited by: My beloved buckaroobob, a.k.a. dr_whuh
Summary: In which River doesn't lose her head, and an Angel does. An AU fixit for "The Angels Take Manhattan"
Author's note: This is dedicated to a_phoenixdragon, who called my bluff on a throwaway comment I made in conversation at my LJ. Thank you, dear, for coaxing me into writing this; I'm very happy you did. I will always love Steven Moffat, but I will always dislike the ending of "The Angels Take Manhattan," especially given what we know of River Song and one of the strongest traits she shares with her husband: a complete willingness to cheat the Universe to get what she wants. I have, with the blithe arrogance of a fic-writing fan, labeled this "alternate canon" because; just because. With a grateful nod to the late Laura Nyro for the title.
Disclaimer: As always, all characters are the sole property of the BBC and their respective creators. I own no copyright and earn no coin; I simply love them, and thank the BBC for letting me play in its sandbox.
He knew it the moment she did it. He felt it before she did it, too.
Humans might not have noticed the four-dimensional shiver that he saw envelope the Angel as it reached for Rory. He did, in the non-moment before the angel’s head exploded, leaving a granite nimbus to float around River’s own head. He felt it in his blood, and behind his eyes, as he staggered forward, stumbling into Amy..
“Hey, watch it there — what … oh! Oh my god, Rory!”
Perhaps he shouldn’t have assumed that humans couldn’t feel it. Amy had the advantage of remembering at least two timelines, and her gaze snapped to the Angel, or what was left of it, almost as quickly as his had.
Rory turned around at the shouting, away from the gravestone he’d been staring at, shaking his head slightly. “What are you three on about?”
Amy just pointed behind him, and he spun back. “Shit!”
He stood rooted to the spot until he took in the rocky ruin above the Angel’s neck, and laughed in slightly horrified relief. “River, did you just do what I think you did?”
“If you mean, did I save you from a one-way ticket to god knows when in the past by relieving this monster of its head, then, yes, Dad, I did indeed do what you thought I did.”
His daughter’s hands were gripped, hard and white, around the haft of the sledgehammer. The vortex manipulator was snug against her now-uninjured wrist. Her eyes glittered dangerously.
Rory, too, had lived through several timelines. He put his hand to his head and winced. “Why do I feel so dizzy?”
“Don’t know, but maybe you and Mum should go inside, while the Doctor and I nose about for more Angels, and she can check you out in the medical bay.” Her smile was bright and fixed and she was looking at the Doctor, not him. Rory glanced at his son-in-law and frowned at the other’s scowl. It was probably time to beat a sensible retreat.
“Sounds like a plan,” he said. “Amy, let’s go.”
She glanced at River and the Doctor, took in the rising tension, and matched the latter’s scowl. “Huh. Alright you two, hash whatever it is out while you find some more Angels and bash whatever passes for their brains in. We’ll be in the library after Rory and I get rid of our headaches. The ones in our heads, at least. You two we can’t do much about.”
Once the Ponds had closed the TARDIS doors the Doctor started towards River, prepared to shout, to rage, only to find that he was no match for her flat-eyed killer’s stare, or the love that surged beneath it.
“It’s done, husband. I won’t undo it.”
Even as she said the words, he could feel the original timeline twist, receding from his consciousness, its events fading to pale potentiality, forced into retreat by her hands. He still remembered Amy’s agonized goodbye, he still saw River’s tear-swollen eyes, her stricken countenance, he still felt the sorrow, but it was now a fairy tale, a what-if that would not become reality again. The universe shifted uneasily but the motion was thalassic rather than distressed. The universe was, in fact, still glamored and thunderstruck by the mess and moil that the Angels had made of Time. Manhattan was a maze of disappeared and reappeared timelines, an entropic labyrinth impossible to navigate in any meaningful way now.
She could feel it too, and she was too much River not to tell him why she knew she’d succeed: “It’s just one more paradox now. It’s safe. I knew the moment the Reapers didn’t appear; they and the Angels don’t get along well, do they?”
“No, they don’t,” he said softly. “Is that what you bet the fabric of space-time on? That the universe wouldn’t shred itself over your … your stunt ... because the white blood cells hadn’t materialized to eat the damage? I can’t believe you, River. You know — you know — there are other things that are just as unforgiving as the Reapers.”
“Do I?” Her eyebrows arched. “You’re the one who knows all the timelines. You’re the Time Lord. I’m just a Time Head who wasn’t going to lose her parents again.
“Not even for you.”
Only River could be so hot, and so cold, at once. Only she could crumble so suddenly: “I did it for you, my love. Am I not allowed to do it for others I care about?”
He felt his rage recede as well, drowned in her eyes and undone by her argument.
“You did do it for me, didn’t you.”
“And you let me.”
He knew he shouldn't give in so easily to the joy of recovering Rory and Amy without having to break any rules of Time himself. He knew that. But he would. He was ever a cheater and this time he could, in all honesty, look at the universe and say, She Did It.
Without another word, he closed the gap between them, grabbed the hammer from her hand and threw it across the cemetery, then crushed her to his breast. “You are a liar, River Song; a liar and a saint.”
They stood like that for a very long time, until both of them were sure that the timeline had steadied.
Then she looked up at him, tears making her face as much of a swollen and beautiful mess as it had been before she killed the Angel, and said, “ I want a drink.”
He smiled down at her, fighting the urge to giggle. “And I want fish and chips.”
“Dad was talking about darts and the pub near their place,” she offered.
He felt giddy. “How do you feel about that, wife?”
“Husband, I approve wholeheartedly,” she said, her smile glorious.
They walked toward the TARDIS, arms entwined, daring the universe to punish them.
Nothing happened, and the sound the TARDIS made as She faded from view echoed like triumphant laughter.
-30- This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/346238.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.