It's a quiet Saturday morning in the flat they've shared now for twelve years. Amy has manuscript pages to proof, but they're not needed until the end of the coming week, so she's in no particular rush. Rory's just worked three hospital night shifts in a row, so now he's off until Tuesday.
They didn't set their alarm this morning. And they stayed in bed rather longer than is their usual habit. Then there was a lazy breakfast of french toast and streaky bacon (which Amy has learned to call simply "bacon," at the market, though that will forever be peculiar to her.) Rory's doing the washing-up as Amy savors a second cup of coffee, strong and sweet.
And then someone honks outside their door. Once, twice, then a sort of song. It's crisp and rhythmic: shave-and-a-haircut, two-bits.
No one they know honks for them like that. Rory puts down the dishtowel and glances at Amy, the question in his eyes plain as day: do you think it's River? She doesn't visit often, but it would be just like her to announce herself with a serenade.
Amy can feel the smile breaking across her face before she even makes it to the door.
"We don't happen to have bags packed," Amy calls from their front stoop to the gleaming burgundy 1948 Ford convertible idling noisily at the curb, "so you might as well come inside."
River grins at her from beneath her stylish hat and puts the car in park.
Rory has joined Amy at the door, by now, and she leans back ever-so-slightly into his firm and familiar frame. "Come have a cup of tea," he suggests.
"Or a glass of wine," River suggests, brandishing a bottle of white burgundy.
"Aren't you driving?" Rory says, a hint of disapproval in his voice.
"Don't you worry about me," River tells him as she makes her way to their door. "Besides, the breathalyzer won't be invented for another five years."
"That's comforting," Rory mutters into Amy's ear.
"I think our daughter can take care of herself," Amy murmurs back. By then River's close enough to embrace; her hat falls off, but Amy doesn't want to let go of her to retrieve it.
There's no telling where River is in her personal timeline, but she doesn't look any older. (Then again, she never does. Side effect of the regeneration energy?) Amy and Rory, on the other hand, are aging at the rate of one day per day.
Sometimes Amy looks in the mirror and catches glimpses of the middle-aged woman they left behind on Apalapucia. But that Amy was bitter, long-betrayed. This one is happy. Her life isn't what she expected, but she has Rory, and they had years with the Doctor, and they have a spectacular daughter, even if they didn't get to rear her. Yes: happy.
But extra-happy today. A visit from River; how could she be otherwise?
Predictably, River won't tell them where they're going, though it's clear from her choice of roads that they're heading for somewhere in Connecticut or perhaps Massachusetts. The convertible is delightful, though. This is one of the first proper warm days of spring, and Amy is loving the sensation of the wind blowing through her hair.
"So how is everything," Amy asks, trying to sound nonchalant. They've learned over the years that if they ask for details about where the Doctor is now (for whatever relative version of "now" River's native to), their daughter clams up.
"Grand," River says blithely, and changes the subject. "D'you like the car?"
"It's brilliant," Rory assures her.
"I picked it up for a song," River says cheerily.
Amy elects not to ask what exactly that means. They've never asked River where she gets the money she spends when she visits them. Nor, for that matter, where she found the money to get them started in their new life after the angels first sent them back. It's...probably legal? But in case it isn't, Amy isn't sure she needs to know.
"I can leave the car with you, if you like," River offers. "Monday or Tuesday, probably, I'll need to be moving on, but I can't take it with me."
"New car," Rory says from the backseat. "Great." He doesn't even sound surprised.
"And we've got you all weekend," Amy says, startled and delighted. It's been a while since River's come to stay for a few days. It doesn't happen nearly often enough, though they're grateful beyond words for every moment they get.
"I'll be around," River says vaguely, and turns on the radio. The radio is playing "Cruising Down the River," which seems amusingly appropriate. Amy turns to Rory and they trade glances which agree that they both think River's up to something but they're not ready to speculate on what that something might be.
Despite herself, Amy feels butterflies beginning to dance inside her chest. A weekend with their daughter somewhere in the countryside is a gift beyond price. They don't need anything more. They don't expect anything more.
Or, rather -- she's trying not to expect anything more. But River's being evasive in a way that sets all of Amy's finely-honed (if lately extraordinarily dormant) oddity-sensing neurons on alert. Maybe this is just a weekend at an inn with their little girl who isn't so little anymore, and if it is, it's enough.
But River might have something else up her sleeve. Doesn't she usually?
Damn those butterflies. Amy gazes for a moment longingly at the corked bottle of Vouvray, then resolutely turns away.
They arrive at the inn a bit after lunchtime. River leads them along a path through the gardens and into the woods. There's a clearing about five minutes from the trailhead, and it's there, in that relative privacy, that River puts down the picnic blanket.
True to form, River's packed a spectacular picnic. Crusty baguettes and rich camembert and spicy hard sausage and six kinds of olives and petite cucumber sandwiches on appropriately buttered white bread. Not to mention the tea cakes and petit-fours and fresh grapes, and the wine, and there's a bottle of champagne tucked into the basket, too. They've just unpacked the whole spread on the enormous plaid blanket when River pauses and checks the chrono on her vortex manipulator.
"Perfect timing," she says, apropos of nothing, and pops the cork on the champagne with a flourish.
The butterflies in Amy's stomach increase their dancing.
And there it is, the sound she still hears sometimes in dreams. There is nothing else like it in the world. Not in any world, not anymore. The TARDIS materializes not ten feet away from them at the far end of the clearing.
Amy doesn't want to blink, as though it might disappear behind her eyelids. She reaches out blindly for Rory and he clasps her hand tight enough to hurt. She can feel herself beaming wide enough to stretch her face, even as tears batter at the back of her eyes.
"I knew it," Rory mutters to no one in particular, and River's laugh is as golden as new life.
The door swings open. Amy can hear his voice before he steps around it.
"--I do hope you weren't expecting flowers; I meant to stop and pick some up, but I got a bit waylaid, and by the time I realized I was in danger of running late, I --"
He stops speaking, stops moving, mouth gaping open at the sight of them. He hasn't changed. He's real. He's still there, still their Doctor, still adventuring. Her heart feels as though it might burst with joy.
"Ponds," he breathes, as though he can scarcely believe his eyes.
And then they're all on their feet, embracing, and Amy's pressed against the Doctor's chest and Rory's holding them both tight and River's laughter has turned to happy tears beside them.
"You," the Doctor says to River accusingly when they have finally, reluctantly, pulled back from their embrace. "You've been planning this and you didn't breathe a word, you knew I was going to see them again, how could you not--"
River's smile is so knowing, so loving, that it makes Amy's heart ache. But all River says is "Spoilers, sweetie." The familiar refrain.
"And you," he says, turning to Amy and trying to look stern, though failing miserably; his glee is so infectious she wouldn't be surprised if people in the next town over found themselves spontaneously joyful. "You didn't mention this in your letter."
"Letter?" Amy echoes.
The Doctor reaches into his vest pocket and pulls out the last page of the book, now somewhat creased and worn.
"Ahh," Amy says, understanding now. River's told her she'll provide the manuscript, and Amy knows she's to write an afterword once she has a book to add the last word to, but that hasn't happened yet. River assures them that they still have time.
"I haven't written it yet," she admits, "but I guess I can't mention this."
"That's the way it works," River agrees. "Now that the Doctor's gotten the letter, which doesn't mention meeting again, you can't mention meeting again in the letter when you get around to writing it."
"This makes my head hurt," Rory grouses good-naturedly. "I need some lunch."
They dive into the food as though none of them has eaten in days. There's something about being together with River and the Doctor again which makes everything taste extraordinary and new.
They don't ask about new Companions, and the Doctor doesn't offer.
"You're really all right," he says more than once, as though it were more than he'd dared hope.
"We are," Rory assures him.
"We really are," Amy agrees.
"Nursing," the Doctor says, looking at Rory, and Rory nods. "And writing," he asks Amy somewhat doubtfully.
"Editing, mostly," she corrects. "But a bit of writing here and there. I like it."
"And you're not alone," he says finally. It's not quite a question.
"None of our friends is -- you," Amy admits. "But we've got a kind of family. People we can call on."
"I've met a few of their friends," River offers. "They're lovely."
"Of course, none of them know you're our daughter," Rory notes. "They think you're an eccentric friend from across the Pond."
"An eccentric Pond, more like," the Doctor interjects, and River throws a grape at him. He catches it and pops it in his mouth, eyes merry.
The Doctor doesn't ask whether they've taken anyone else into their bed.
Lunch gives way to tea, which gives way to lounging on the grass and watching clouds, which gives way to dinner, which gives way to whiskey (for Rory and River) and a fruit brandy (for Amy) and nothing for the Doctor, who doesn't ever seem to need intoxicants.
River's reserved them the carriage barn, which is quite spacious for a bed and breakfast. There's a big bed at one end, and a sitting area at the other. That's where they are now, half-melted on the couch (Amy and Rory) and the loveseat (the Doctor and River) and it's quiet and giggly and delightful.
Amy's just beginning to wonder how they're going to handle the sleeping arrangements when River clears her throat.
"I'll be back tomorrow," she says lightly. "The reservation is paid through noon, and after I bring you two," nodding to her parents, "back to the city, I can stay the night, if you'd like."
"Of course we would," Amy says automatically, because when have they ever said no to a visit from River? But then her brain catches up with the rest of what River just said, and Amy's heart skips a beat.
Of course River knows that her parents and the Doctor were lovers. (It's peculiar, having slept with their daughter's husband, but it's no weirder than anything else about their time-scrambled family life.) But Amy never in a million years expected her to orchestrate this and then leave them to it.
The Doctor looks equally hornswoggled. He sits up and tugs at his bowtie, a sure sign of nerves. River captures the hand, presses a kiss to his palm, and then rises.
"Wife," the Doctor says, his voice gone low. "Are you certain?"
"I," River says, "have an engagement in another century." Her voice is flippant but her eyes are serious. "I'll be back on Sunday, I promise. And after that I'll travel with you a while," she says to the Doctor, "if you think Clara will permit."
Amy and Rory trade a glance. Clara: that'll be the new Companion, then. Amy can't help wondering, just a little bit, what she's like. What made the Doctor choose her. Whether the TARDIS has changed, on the inside, to accomodate someone new.
The Doctor opens his mouth, as though to reply, but seems to think better of it. He stands and takes one step closer, and with a slight glance at the Ponds, pulls River to him for a kiss. They take their time. Beside her, Amy can feel Rory breathing. It seems voyeuristic, watching them, but Amy can't tear her eyes away.
Amy's never felt the slightest frisson of attraction to River (which is fortunate, all things considered) but she can't help an aesthetic appreciation of a truly spectacular kiss. And she can empathize with River; she used to know what it was like to be the center of the Doctor's attention, and the memory makes her shiver with remembered pleasure.
When they break, River gives the Doctor a positively promissory smile, blows a kiss to her parents, and walks away.
When the Doctor turns back to them, his mouth is wet and he looks ravished. Amy feels as though she's moving through a lucid dream, everything faintly too-bright and too-beautiful for ordinary life. But that realization doesn't seem to wake her up. This is as real as anything. The Doctor is looking at them, waiting.
Rory nudges Amy up to meet him. The Doctor's body is lithe against hers and the familiar scent of his soap, the feel of his jacket, the press of his palm against the small of her back are both poignant and arousing all at once. He kisses with all the single-minded focus she remembers, as though she contained mysteries of time and space, and Amy lets herself melt.
When they break, Rory is leaning back on the couch, pressing the heel of one hand against his obviously hardening cock.
"Come here, Mr. Pond," the Doctor says, relinquishing Amy, and Rory does. Amy has a ringside seat for their kiss, and for a few moments she lingers there, watching. It's surprisingly erotic, watching the Doctor kiss her husband. Watching her husband kiss the Doctor.
Presently Amy heads for the other end of the room and flings herself on the bed. It's a firm mattress, but she bounces once. Her men follow her, tugging off clothes as they go. Rory lands beside her, his shirt unbuttoned, and the Doctor yanks Rory's trousers down and takes him in hand.
Without words, she colludes with the Doctor to bring Rory to a beautiful shuddering climax. Amy's hands on his chest, running over his pecs and his tight hard nipples. the Doctor's mouth on his cock, eyes closed and fine cheekbones lightly hollowed from the suction.
"Your turn," Rory says unnecessarily, when he has recovered his ability to do anything beyond grin ridiculously at the ceiling. The Doctor and Amy are snogging, but she happily rolls off and lets Rory return the Doctor's attention. Rory climbs between the Doctor's long legs and swallows him down.
The Doctor's first orgasm of the night doesn't take long. That's how it always used to be: he'd get so wound-up making one or both of them succumb that he would be on a hair-trigger by the time they touched him. It's strangely flattering that that hasn't changed.
Then the Doctor bends to push Amy back onto the bed and spreads her thighs. His mouth is endlessly slow and delicate, his long cool fingers spreading her deliciously. He makes her come twice in rapid succession, with Rory murmuring encouragement in her ear.
She wants to say thank you. She wants to say something clever. Instead what she manages is "Get up here, you." The Doctor climbs over her, bracing on his arms.
"Is there something you wanted, Mrs. Pond?" His voice is arch.
"Oh, aye," Amy grits out, and raises her hips. She knows he'll be erect again, and he is, a welcome hardness rubbing against her lips.
"Is that what you were after," the Doctor says, feigning surprise.
"I suspect so, yeah," Rory agrees. He's braced on one elbow watching them, and the smile on his face is goofy and fond.
Then it's a race to see who can make the other one succumb first. The sort of race no one particularly minds losing. In the event, it's more or less simultaneous, anyway.
It doesn't feel like a goodbye. They already had one of those. Amy and Rory had long since stopped expecting to ever have this again; she suspects the Doctor had, too. Lying there in the afterglow, held by Rory and the Doctor all at once, feels to Amy like a gift. Like grace.
When Amy wakes, in the middle of the night, Rory is snoring faintly. The Doctor is sitting up between them, leaning back on his pillow propped against the headboard, watching them sleep.
"I couldn't keep my eyes open," she murmurs.
"It's okay," he whispers back. Then clears his throat and says, quietly but no longer in a whisper, "humans need sleep." Time Lords don't, or not much of it, anyway. They've had that conversation before.
"You're really okay?" The words slip out of Amy's mouth unbidden.
The Doctor's smile is sad and dear and grateful all at once. "I really am," he promises. The inverse of their conversation from the afternoon.
"Okay," Amy says simply.
"I did have a bit of a snit," the Doctor admits, looking mildly sheepish. "Right after the two of you -- left."
"River mentioned." Amy figures she might as well spare them both his attempts at telling that story. He almost certainly wouldn't be as honest about it as River was.
"But I got better."
"I see that."
There's a pause. Amy gazes at the Doctor as though she could commit his eyes, his lips, the line of his jaw to memory. This time there aren't any Weeping Angels waiting to spirit her off to parts unknown, but tomorrow she and Rory will return to their lives in the city, the one place-and-time where the Doctor and the TARDIS can't go.
"Get some rest, Pond," the Doctor says, reaching out a hand to cup the side of her face for a moment. Amy clasps it and presses a kiss to his palm, then lets herself curl back into the warmth of the covers.
It's possible that when they wake in the morning he'll be gone. Or maybe he'll stick around and eat pancakes with them until River arrives to chauffeur them home again. It will depend on whether he feels up to another goodbye. He's never liked those.
"We love you," Amy says, just in case there isn't a chance to say it in the morning. She closes her eyes, but she can hear his sharp inhalation.
A long moment goes by. Just when she's beginning to wonder whether he will reply, he does. "Never doubt," the Doctor says quietly, "that you are loved in return."
"We don't," Amy promises. And then, despite herself, she yawns.
She doesn't even really mind relinquishing wakefulness. There's comfort in knowing that the Doctor is -- now and always -- watching over them as they sleep.