Living your ghost
Living your end
Never seem to get in the place that I belong
Don't wanna lose the time
Lose the time to come
The Doctor was in a lousy mood today. The TARDIS was acting up, which might explain some of it, but he'd been cranky for days now. It was making everyone tense. Amy talked louder and faster, trying to keep the conversation flowing, while Rory stayed out of his way and became quieter in comparison. River tried to cheer him up, her innuendos and jokes more over the top than usual. She's not sure why he's so grouchy, but she couldn't really kiss it and make it better at this point in their mismatched timestream. He really wouldn't welcome it, although she found her hand stretching out for his sometimes without realizing. It'd been six months since the Pandorica and their paths had crossed three more times since. She'd thought that he was beginning to trust her a bit more and he'd seemed happy enough to see her the last time. She loved him though, beyond reason sometimes, and it pained her to see him like this. Things finally came to a head the following afternoon.
"Rory, hand me that long green stick thingy with the little ball on the end," shouted the Doctor from somewhere under a console. He took the stick and shoved it into a hole. Seconds later the console shot off sparks and began to billow purple smoke.
"Oh, nicely done Sweetie," quipped River.
"Oh, and I suppose you could do better?" the Doctor emerged from beneath the console, quite red in the face from exertion.
"Can't do anymore damage than that attempt," she shot back.
"Well please then, be my guest!"
"As you wish Sweetie," she returned in a sickly sweet voice.
"Stop bloody calling me that!" he barked back suddenly. "I hate that name."
Amy and Rory glanced at each other, looking massively uncomfortable to be in the middle of the row. River rolled her eyes at him and climbed beneath the console herself. After several minutes of clanking around, wires being redirected and a muffled curse or two, the TARDIS finally stopped smoking. River stood back up, a look of triumph on her face. The Doctor's face was stormy, a fact she normally might notice and have dialed down her glee. But she was beaming, face glowing and eyes sparkling, and trying to show off for him a just a bit. He always did like it when she was clever.
She turned back to him, "Well?"
"Pretty good, huh?" River grinned at him.
"Yes, just perfect," he returned sarcastically. "It's a wonder anyone needs me around anymore now that you're here."
River was now just realizing that teasing might not have been the best approach to try with him right now. He's looking angrier than she's ever seen him; or at least with that expression directed at her. She knew him so well, it never occurred to her to be uneasy with an earlier version of him. He was still the same person, just at an earlier point in their lives, but something about this wasn't right. He'd apologized for his younger self's behavior before, but never said what for; spoilers after all.
"Don't be silly Sweetie. I learned it from you," a look of uncertainty crossed River's face.
"No you haven't!" he exploded. "I haven't taught you anything yet. None of that's happened yet and I wish you'd stop talking about it like it's supposed to happen like that!"
"Well, no for you it hasn't taken place yet. I've already lived through it though, so it has happened in a sense." River spoke slowly, as though to a child or idiot he thinks. This only infuriated the Doctor further.
"That doesn't mean it has to happen," he yelled. "It's my bloody future. It's not written in stone. I don't have to do anything. Just because you keep telling me it's important and you know me, doesn't mean I have to be with you. Maybe I won't! Then what happens to your spoilers?"
He knew it was unfair, he's knew it was cruel of him, but he's tired of being told how his life turns out. There was all this anger bubbling around inside him that he doesn't know what to do with, and he's taking it out on her. River just stared back at him, eyes wide. He felt a pang at the hurt in her eyes, but didn't say anything. Amy and Rory only gaped at the meltdown from the side of the room. They were looking at each other and then back at the door, wondering if they should get out while they still could and give the couple some privacy.
When River finally spoke, her tone was almost unnaturally calm. "I understand."
He tried to apologize, "River, I'm..."
She cut him off before he can finish. "Doctor, as soon as the TARDIS is completely repaired please drop me at my house." He tried to apologize again, but River was already walking out of the room. She knew she couldn't look at him right now. There was a tightness in her chest and her breath was catching in her throat. If she turned and met his eyes that moment, she'd start to cry. She couldn't do that in front of him, not now. The Doctor was normally her main source of comfort, but not this time, not this Doctor. She could so badly do with a hug right now from him, but he was the one making her cry. The tears began to sting her eyes as she fumbled for the door to her bedroom aboard the TARDIS. She sank to the floor, sliding down the door into a heap. Her hand blindly grasped for the ring she wore around her neck, tucked beneath her shirt on a thin chain. She clutched at it like a lifeline, gripping it tightly as she began to sob.
Amelia Jessica Pond may have been the girl-who-waited, but she'd never been all that patient in other aspects of her life. Nor was she particularly good with keeping her mouth shut. After River had fled the room, the Doctor looking guiltily after her but doing nothing, Amy had attempted to confront him.
"What the hell was that about?"
"Nothing. Just leave it Pond," he replied wearily, the anger having drained out of him.
"That was a horrible thing to do Doctor. How could you be so mean to her?" Amy snapped. When the Doctor didn't respond Amy walked over to her husband. "I'm going to talk to River, you deal with him," she said.
"Me? What am I supposed to do?" whined Rory.
"Don't know, don't care," grinned Amy before pecking her husband on the cheek and darting out of the control room.
Rory looked around the room, searching for something to help with this situation, before finally speaking up. "That was pretty mean Doctor," he said quietly. He'd come to like the brash archeologist. Plus, he didn't like seeing people's feeling crushed.
"I know. I know," sighed the Doctor. "I didn't mean it. Well, not completely anyways."
"How did you mean it? Because it was pretty clear that you didn't want anything to do with her. Unless there was some secret Time Lord message involved," said Rory, smiling slightly.
The Doctor glared at him. "It's not that I don't want anything to do with her. I like her, I do. I just..." He trailed off, searching for the thought. "I just want to feel like I have a choice in the matter. We're as good as together in her eyes."
"But not in your eyes," answered Rory. "You don't want to fall in love with someone because they tell you that you're going to in the future, right?"
"Something like that," the Doctor said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, but from her point of view, you're someone she knows and trusts who keeps forgetting about her. Can't be easy," Rory said.
"I suppose not. Why bother fighting if it's going to happen in the end though? If she's just going to get hurt in the end anyways," he walked away from the conversation, signaling to Rory that he was done talking about it. Rory looked on with some confusion. The Doctor's eyes were pained now, looking into the past that had already ended their story. He couldn't tell her of the guilt that he felt when he looked at her. He had the feeling that she'd given her life for a future that might not happen, but that he felt he owed to her to make happen; a relationship built out of guilt and obligation. He wasn't sure he could live up to her vision of him, to her sacrifice. He couldn't tell her why he was so angry, that she'd already gotten a hold on him. He looked forward to each meeting now. He was growing fond of her, starting to think about seeking her out instead of waiting for her to come to him each time. He was going to lose her one day, like so many others in his life. So instead he bottled it up, pushed it away. It seemed he'd end up hurting her either way.