a/n: This has been haunting me ever since that episode. Such a small thing and yet with such enormous ramifications. I have yet to find another fic that mentions this, so I had to write it up.
The Doctor looked at the Tardis console and sighed.
At some point in time and space he would meet River Song for the second time and they would hit it off. Hit it off big, apparently. Donna think she understood, but she didn't really...the ramifications of what had happened.
It was hard to wrap his mind around this irrefutable fact even now. He and River Song. She knew his name; he, after centuries of censorship, was going to tell her his name.
It was impossible.
Yet it was.
Hands ruffled through his thick hair in absent thought.
His name. The one thing he could not ever share save for under special circumstances as rare as... as rare as being able to give his real name.
Did she know? Had she understood now and back--in his future/her past-- what being able to tell her his name meant?
He hadn't been joking back there as the seconds of her life ticked away into oblivion. He literally could not tell anyone his name before he told her. Not would not. Could not.
"Only one I ever could..."
For centuries his companions, acquaintances friend, foe, and casual observers had asked that simple question: who are you? He'd never been able to answer them to confide something so personal...so...forbidden; so he'd given them a name--title really--made up while he'd still lived Tardis-less on Gallifrey. It was better than being referred to as 'Hey, you!'.
"I'm the Doctor."
"Just the Doctor."
It was part of his fate. Only one could ever hear his true name pass through his lips. Now she was gone. How cruel of Time to finally allow him such a one--and then let him know in advance that it would be short lived. That he would again be known solely and for the rest of his life as...
"Just the Doctor."