Amy's heart was suddenly beating in her throat as she rounded the corner, her eyes fixed on the figure she had come to dread ever since she'd first laid eyes on it in the Byzantium.
The Weeping Angel did not move.
Not even a muscle twitched in her. Her eyes felt suddenly dry and irritated and like they'd shrivel up in their sockets and she just wanted to rub them, to move them, to blink, but that was not an option.
Still the Weeping Angel did not move.
"Rory?" she called experimentally. They'd been split up, the four of them—River, Rory, the Doctor, and she— and she'd lost track of which way was which in this stupid house. Why did it have to have so many hallways and rooms, anyway?
Then the light flickered, and suddenly, the angel had gotten about a foot nearer.
Where was everyone? "Rory!" she shouted, quite a bit louder this time. She tried not to look too closely at those wicked, slightly curved nails on the end of the Angel's curled, rigid fingers. She also tried not to look too closely at its face, contorted into an expression of utmost fury and feral animosity.
A muffled boom made the walls shudder, and it was almost—almost—enough to make her look away. The Doctor had given each of them a detonating charge that he said would "explode on impact with enough contained force to reduce them to dust without damaging anything outside a ten-foot radius." Amy, unfortunately, had already thrown one at an Angel she'd met only minutes ago, and now was backing slowly towards the door, her hands padding outward, feeling for any kind of obstacle she might encounter.
The lights blinked out again, and the Angel was inches from her face.
And then he was there, panting, and he didn't say anything and she couldn't turn around, but she knew it was him. There was a rustle of clothes in her ear and a brush of wind skimming her hair; a split-second later, the detonator hit, and the Angel was dust.
They were sprawled on the floor from the blast, which had been, unfortunately, rather close. The dust was being sucked into their noses and made them sneeze, but they were safe and alive.
Then she was laughing, just a bit, from relief, and they were hugging on the floor as her heart slowed down to its normal beat and that was enough, that gesture, to convey everything she felt for him, because he already knew what she would say. He was laughing a bit, too, just because she was—she could feel his smile against her cheek. It was a small laugh, but it was an I'm-glad-you're-alive-laugh, and that was so much better than crying.
"Thank you," she said, pulling away enough to look into his eyes as she slid her hands uncontrollably over his face, smoothing his hair and then down around his neck.
"Well, you know," he said a little nervously. "Saving your life—it's kind of what I do now, apparently…"
She punched him lightly on the arm before climbing to her feet and pulling him up, remembering the threat that lingered in the halls around them. "Have you seen the Doctor?" she asked, checking both ends of the hall but seeing nothing. "Or River?"
"No, not since we split up." She turned away and started down the hall, but he could see the concern in Amy's expression without being able to see her face. "Amy, I'm sure they're fine," he assured her. He knew she wouldn't believe that until she saw them, but he thought it necessary to say it anyway.
In response, she called out, "Doctor?" and, a moment later, when there was nothing, "River?"
They rounded a corner, careful to keep their eyes peeled, but there were no Angels. "Do you think we got the last of them?" asked Rory in a low voice. Amy's shout would've given them away to anything or anyone nearby, but he still felt like it would be a sin to raise his voice in this place. The looming gray walls gave the effect that they were closing in on you, forcing the silence they'd born for years down your throat, muffling whatever you try to say.
"I hope so," she said, but she didn't have much faith in the possibility.
As they reached the bottom of a set of stairs, she heard a faint cry: "Amelia?"
She whirled around, as the sound had come from behind them. "Doctor!" she shouted.
"Amelia!" came the response, sounding nearer now.
She started towards it, pulling Rory along with her.
Then the lights flickered.
She turned, slowly, as if what she was about to see might go away before she saw it. But there it was, the creature of gray stone, slightly cracked in places but overall the same: the same blank eyes, the same lines around its stretched jaws, the same vicious teeth, the same arched knuckles and curled claws. It must have come down the stairs when they turned around.
"Rory," she said, because she could feel him squeezing her hand tightly, as if asking, Together?
With a squeeze of her hand, she replied, Together. If they were going to be zapped into the past, they were going to be zapped into the past with each other.
Don't blink. Don't ever blink. The warning flashed through her brain so quickly she didn't understand the words, but she knew the meaning enough, and she wouldn't blink, not for one split second, but it didn't matter, because the lights blinked for her, and why did there have to be so many Angels in this house?
The moment she could see again, the Angel was there, and her husband was gone, and her hands suddenly closed on open air.
"RORY!" she screamed, her arm still partially outstretched, as if waiting for his hand to reappear, to meld itself back into her grip. Her first instinct was to search the room, to find him, to find Rory, because he couldn't be gone, he couldn't. It didn't matter that the Doctor had a time machine. Rory could not leave her side, not now.
The Doctor rounded a corner a split-second later and flung his arm and the Angel disintegrated, and Amy was, for the second time, thrown to the floor.
The Doctor dropped down next to her, glancing about periodically to make sure there weren't any unwanted visitors. "Amy. Amy." His hand was on her shoulder and he was lifting up her face, making sure that she wasn't injured, but she wasn't looking at him, she was looking everywhere but at him.
"Rory," she said urgently, struggling to her knees. "Rory, where's Rory?"
And as he lifted his head, as he looked for her husband and saw no trace of him among the dust-layered hall, all he could think was, No, please, not another one…
"Come on, let's find River," he said, helping her to her feet. He'd heard all three other blasts besides his own, meaning she was out there somewhere, defenseless.
"Doctor," said Amy, grabbing the Doctor by the forearm and pulling him around, forcing him to look at her. "Where is he?"
"I don't know right now," said the Doctor. He couldn't promise her that they would ever know, because he couldn't make that guarantee, and she knew by the absence of that promise that something was wrong, and he knew that she knew and it made him ache. He took her hand in both of his. "Amy," he said softly, "I need you to focus. We need to find River first. Then we can get back to the TARDIS and figure this out, alright?"
She nodded, that tough, stubborn look doing a shabby job of covering the hurt in her dark eyes. She allowed him to pull her down the hall, and though she was concerned for River, for her daughter, she couldn't hold back her anxiety for Rory. Where was he? When was he? Why didn't the Doctor just tell her they could go back and get him as soon as they reached the TARDIS?
His eyes looked so old and ancient. She had seen his old, sorrowful eyes when he was dying, when Rory was drowning, when the TARDIS spoke her last words. She had seen his old eyes, and she was seeing them again, why did he have old sad eyes again?
It didn't take them long to find her. They hadn't taken more than three steps down the hall when she burst down the flight of stairs, the very same that Amy and Rory had almost gone up. She was panting and had her gun extended. "There you are," she said breathlessly. "Where is it? Have you seen it?"
"The Weeping Angel. I was chasing it, it should've come this way."
The Doctor said incredulously, "You were chasing a Weeping Angel? But you used your detonator!"
"Only because I couldn't pull out my gun in time," she replied defensively.
"Your gun—? You can't just shoot a Weeping Angel!"
"Sure I can. That's what I did to the other one."
The Doctor and River both stopped abruptly and looked at Amy; while River looked surprised, as though she'd just realized Amy was there, the Doctor had a heavy look on his face, and his eyes were knowing. Amy hated that expression. She knew whatever he had to say when he had that look on his face was nothing comforting.
As if to make things worse, River glanced around and asked, "Where's Rory?"
"The one you were chasing, it… got him," said Amy, unsure of how else to put it.
Then River looked sad, too, and Amy couldn't stand it, she couldn't stand to look at either of them, so she looked between them, at a patch of the floor ten feet away. "Doctor, why can't we go back and get him?"
"The Angels… They zap you into the past and feed off of your potential time energy. Basically, they take away whatever life you're living and feed off of what it could've been. Whatever we do, whatever we try, we won't be able to save him. It just can't happen. He has to live out his life wherever he's landed."
Her eyes met his then, and the Doctor's face blurred in front of her as the tears filmed her eyes, but she wouldn't let them fall, not yet. She shook her head. "Take me back, then," she said. "Take me back, let me live there with him. I won't let him be alone."
"Amy." And his arm was around her, but she was pushing it away.
"No!" she shouted, suddenly angry. The Angels were gone, but they'd taken the one thing she wanted here with her. "No, Doctor, we have to save him, we have to save him right now!"
The Doctor flinched as he remembered two names, two names of people who he wished he could save, but he knew it was impossible: Billy Shipton and Katherine Nightingale. If he'd wanted to, he could've gone back and got them as soon as he was reunited with his TARDIS and delivered their messages some other way, but he didn't, he couldn't.
River's hands were at her shoulders, and she was looking into the eyes of River, her Melody, her daughter, whose eyes were as wet as hers. "I'm sorry," she said, and her voice wavered, and just the sound of her, of strong, stubborn River with a shaky voice was enough for something to break. "But he's right."
And Amy was crying and she wanted to hit something and she wanted to see Rory again and why couldn't they both have gone? She was holding his hand, holding it as tight as if it was the last she would ever see of him, and then it was gone and her fingertips had closed over empty air and he was gone. He was gone, and she would never see him again, not ever. He had always made his way back to her, always, even when she was having their baby on the other side of the universe, but not this time. This time they were apart and they would never again not be apart.
River was hugging her and she was grabbing the sleeve of River's shirt because she couldn't bear the feeling of her hand being empty, but that only made it worse because the thing her hand was closing on was not Rory's hand, it was not anyone's hand. Rory the Roman, the Last Centurion, after all he'd done for her, everything he'd given, he had no one to hold his hand now. He could be carrying the most precious thing in the world and his hand would be as empty as hers.
And she understood, then, why the Doctor had taken her and Rory back home after they met the Minotaur in his endless prison maze. He had known something like this would happen, and he'd wanted to stop it early, but she'd insisted on seeing the universe again. Why had she done that? Why had she ignored what it could've done? What must Rory think of her, wherever he was, stranded, alone, waiting for someone to save him?
The thought brought a fresh wave of tears as she remembered her experience at the Two-Streams Facility. There had been two of her, and one of her was old and bitter and didn't want to be saved. Would that be Rory before he died? If they showed up and tried to save him, would he take it? Would he die hating her? She almost hoped he would. He was right to.
She couldn't help but wonder where he'd ended up. He might be dead right now, and just the thought of that made her legs turn numb. Then she was sitting, curled on the floor, and River was stroking her hair, and all she could think was, This isn't right. I'm her mother, I should be comforting her. And the Doctor was sitting next to them, and he looked like he felt out of place, like all he wanted to do was keep running as he always had, to turn away from this scene and forget it.
Had Rory landed so far back that he would be dead already, or did he land somewhere recently enough that she would see him, grown old without her? Even that would've been enough—even just an hour, just a minute to tell him everything she wished she could've before he was snatched away. To beg for forgiveness. Rory. Rory.
She clung to that hope as tightly as she clung to River's shirt, but it wasn't enough to stem the tears.
"Of course it's not your fault, why on earth would it be your fault?" The Doctor murmured, and she realized she'd been saying it over and over: It's my fault. It's my fault. It's all my fault.
They sat there for an hour-long minute, unable to move from their spot. She didn't know if they'd gotten all the Angels or not, and as much as she wanted them all blown to dust, she didn't care right now. They could take her. It didn't matter anymore, because wherever she ended up, Rory wouldn't be there with her.
As her choking sobs died down to wet, shuddering gasps, the Doctor and River managed to get her to her feet. She was horrified for some reason to see tears on their faces. It wasn't right somehow, the two of them, to be crying. A mother should never let her child see her cry, even if her child was grown and married now, even if her child had just lost her father…
They found the door somehow, and Amy couldn't have said what was right or what was left. She saw only the blank walls, and every hall seemed the same. In every hall, she saw the snarling face of the Angel who took her husband, so she closed her eyes and didn't look at the halls.
Someone was waiting for them outside the door. She'd never seen him before, but she would remember everything about him, down to the last wrinkle in his shirt. He was a middle-aged man, black-haired, with a lined face and crinkled skin around his eyes, like he smiled a lot, and he was holding in his hand a small parcel. His mild look of contentment turned to one of sudden concern when he saw the tear tracks on their faces.
"I'm sorry, have I come at a bad time?" he asked. His voice was calm and soothing, and it made her ache for Rory.
"What is it?" asked the Doctor in a tone like a dam that might burst any moment, wiping his face quickly.
"My grandfather had a friend by the name of Rory Williams who wanted this letter brought here. I can come back later, though, if you like—"
Forgetting her manners, Amy took the parcel as he held it out, looking it over with shaking hands. Sure enough, the letter was from him; the address was written in his same messy scrawl that she'd known since grade school. Wanting desperately to preserve this last piece of her husband, she opened the envelope as carefully as if it might crumble to dust at any moment. With how old it looked, it might've.
Inside was a letter, and she was so happy, even relieved, to see an entire page filled with his handwriting. Then she read it:
It's been seven years for me since I last felt the Angel touch my arm. I know there must be a good reason for you not coming to save me, and it's okay. I'm at peace, I guess. I wish I could at least see you again, but I don't think that'll happen, even if I do live to be a hundred.
I landed in the middle of the Great Depression. It was a bit confusing at first, but it wasn't so bad since I knew what had happened. I met a bloke named Chris, and we became good mates—we live next to each other now. I've given this letter to his son to pass down through the family until it can be given to you. Hopefully it'll work—I've got my doubts, but Chris's son is a good kid, at least. I trust him not to forget.
I've come to terms with what's happened, but I haven't completely let go, and I still miss you, which is why I don't mind having been drafted for World War II. I suppose it was always my destiny to be a soldier. I'm not expecting to come back, so I figured I should write this to let you know.
I didn't expect it to be like this. I don't think anybody ever really does. I'd always thought it would be in a hospital somewhere, whispering our last good-byes to each other through ventilators or something. I'd thought we would be together, and that's why I held your hand so tightly on that day, but I guess it didn't work out. It's okay, though. I shoved Hitler in a cupboard once, and now I'm going to fight him for you. I just hope he sees me on the battlefield somehow and remembers me.
I expect you'll hand this to the Doctor and River when you're done reading it, so I'll say this first. River, I love you, and I'm sorry we couldn't do more than be your best friend in school and bail you out of jail. Doctor, thank you for showing us the stars. Thank you for all of it. We didn't always get on that well, but it was amazing anyway.
I love you, Amy. I wish I could tell you, and I know you do, too, but this is all I've got, so I'll just say: I love you. I always have. It doesn't matter that this happened, because the time that we had was worth it. I hope you believe as much as I do that it was worth it.
I have one request for you, Amy, the girl who waited: stop waiting. Please, for me, do that. Move on. Find someone else. And don't blame anyone for what happened. It wasn't your fault, or the Doctor's, or River's. Do that for me, okay?
I love you,
By the time she finished reading it, her hands were shaking so much she could hardly decipher the last few paragraphs. Her free hand, her empty hand, was over her mouth, holding back another round of sobbing. As she handed it to the Doctor, who held it so that River could read it, too, she remembered going to a World War II memorial once with him.
"Hey, look, there's one with your name," she said, pointing to the plaque she was reading.
Rory looked over her shoulder at it, and they both read the story of Rory Williams, the soldier who'd died in action. He had crossed over into enemy lines to rescue the four men left in his squad and had been shot in the process. After he'd gotten the four of them out, he later collapsed and passed away, unable to get medical attention in time. Among the men he rescued was Christopher Wright, his best friend, who, when the war was over, was able to return home to his only son.
"Suppose you're related?" she asked as they both continued down the line of plaques, the slabs of etched metal the only things that remained of these long-dead warriors.
"Dunno," replied Rory, shrugging. "Guy was a hero, though."
Yes you were, she thought now as she sat down numbly on the front step, her chest hollow and sore from so much crying. She didn't look at River or the Doctor, who were still holding the letter in front of them, even though they'd long since finished reading it. The man who had brought the letter, Christopher Wright's great-grandson, sat down next to her and put his arms around her. His kindness was too much to bear. Here was a stranger, who had no idea what was going on or why he had been told to deliver this letter on this exact day at this exact time, putting his arms around her as if she were an old friend.
"Thank you," she gasped, and she couldn't believe she was soaking this man's shirt with her tears when she didn't even know his name, but she needed a shoulder and he was there. "Thank you."
As an answer, he rubbed her back wordlessly.
A few minutes later, the man left. The Doctor and River sat down next to her, and there was not an unshed tear on that step. The Doctor gave her the letter, and she took it in her hand, holding the closest thing to Rory she would ever hold, and her hand was still empty.