AN: Written for the "Future Shock" one-shot challenge for who-contest on Livejournal. Characters: Eighth Doctor, River Song. Spoilers: Time War, "The Diary of River Song" audio. Rated All ages.
Like you, our future is fragile
She has to be careful. She cannot meet him now, as he is, for he's too optimistic and naive, too brittle from the beginning horrors of the Time War.
As much as River wants to cross paths and reveal herself to him, she cannot disrupt their timeline. She cannot shock him by revealing herself, altering their future forever. It's tempting - well, it's always tempting. But he doesn't even know who she is yet. He's too young - brilliant and wonderful, but young.
She still loves him, and she knows every moment they interact over the intercom that he's feeling a connection with her too. She calls herself Ms. Spritz, a fake name to further the mystery. Instantly, as she has anticipated, he wants to come back for her after the danger is over. He wants to pick her up, possibly even ask her to travel with him. This incarnation was particularly good at that - jubilantly convincing others to come with him.
But he's not entirely jubilant now; he's more cynical and sardonic. The Time War is doing that to him, which indicates to her that he's nearing the end of this lifetime. He will become a lot lonelier, and a lot more aloof. This Doctor - the one she is saving now - needs her more than ever. He needs her touch, her hope and her strength.
Though, she can't give him her touch. She can only save him as she is now.
She can feel the excitement in his voice as they speak, exchanging theories and coming up with clever ideas. Their connection runs deep, even backwards and forwards through time. Each second she hears his youthful voice, his clever words spilling over as he makes his way out of danger, she wants to give in and let him pick her up in his old Blue Box. Whisking her away into that Victorian-style TARDIS and bringing her along as he tries to mend and heal the wounds of the universe from the war.
It's so tempting, and she's seen this face - a handsome, romantic incarnation that she's always longed to touch. Maybe she'll be lucky someday and cross paths with him for real, to be in his presence and see his deep eyes roll over her form - sizing her up and implanting her into his fragile memory. Not like now, where they only interact over an unfeeling communication line.
Will she be so lucky to touch this form of the Doctor's like she has her Doctor, the compassionate, clumsy and temperamental man she marries?
River wishes this more than anything, but as much as she wants to - she knows in her heart she can't. Doing so will change their whole relationship, and knowing their luck, change the fabric of time and space as well.
Instead, she saves the Doctor again, but she does not stay behind to embrace him or reveal herself to him. With a weighted heart, River moves on without him, knowing someday soon, she'll be back in her Doctor's arms, as long as time and space allows.