What can I say? End of series 6 and a lot of things that can be written about now it's cannon. I...er...fiddled with a kind of style here. Not too sure of how it reads, (hopefully well!)
Thank you for all the alerts and favourites and reviews :)
This chapter, like so many others in this series, is AU. Nice way to end it, eh?
Of looking over shoulders
She considers it silly now, to think they had let her escape from their clutches. As if she could have walked away from such an elaborate, well thought out, desperate plan. Sometimes she stops to wonder why she found herself in such a position. But then again, she knows she will never find it. (The act itself is passed off as her own thought, her idea, her plan. So simple. Weapon, what weapon? The Doctor needs to die. A kiss of death, how fitting for the man who snares so many with a web of lies and false pretences.)
They had watched her, ever since she had escaped out of that horrid space suit. Sometimes she remembers being so very, very scared. Sometimes, when she thinks back, there are vast swathes of time that she simply cannot remember. But there are some things that she does. She remembers her own voice calling out to the darkness, "Help me! Somebody! The Spaceman's coming to eat me!" And then catches her own reflection in a puddle, a glass window, someone else's eyes. (The Spaceman's already eaten. All full up.) Amy Pond looked at her in fear, and Melody Pond desperately wanted her mother's arms around her, instead of the skin of the Spaceman tightening around her, suffocatingly close.
When she walked up the steps in the old orphanage, there were words written in a viscous red liquid along the walls. "GET OUT GET OUT NOW! LEAVE! GET OUT!" She had only thought it had been the mad old man who brought her food getting madder by the day. (She never noticed the small dented paint tin under her bed. The Silence made sure of that.) They had adjusted, deleted, fiddled with, twisted and deformed her memories for so long. Some days she would blink and wonder if the rest of the world; ticking, turning, living, loving, was a dream.
And then in the dirty back alleyways of New York she had died a death, and then regenerated, (painful, burning light, turning her inside out and changing everything. Skin stretched, eyes burned, muscles ached. The only constant was the voice inside her head; "Kill the Doctor. Strike him down. End the war!" (In time, she thinks it is her own.)
When she ended up in Leadworth, she wondered how? But then she spotted them, little Amelia with her big words, her drawings and her loud Scottish voice with Rory standing behind her. Where else would she go? Sometimes, River felt so tired and wanted to go home. (Home, where exactly was that?)
Once, she finds herself behind the wheel of a bus, her hearts thrumming and the words "GET OUT, ESCAPE! RUN!", floating somewhere in the back of her mind. "What?" She says aloud as a policeman flashes a torchlight in her face before she shakes her head and puts on a wicked smile. "Hello there officer. Nice evening, isn't it? You can see all the stars, pretty aren't they? I can see you're not going to let this pass. Bet you would if I was the Doctor. The good old Doctor." She grins a little wider as he slaps on the handcuffs. (As if they could lock her up.)
Later, in her final meeting with him, (she knows her end is coming soon, and it's his start, because he hardly knows her,) this patchy, brightly spotted, treasured hindsight seems like a gift. Or something akin to a gift. She can slowly see her life fit in, to a certain extent. (Some things she will never be able to remember. Her murdering him, even though it wasn't him or wouldn't be him, would haunt her till the day she died.) She can look over her shoulder and watch it all fall into place. She knows of the future and feels the ghosts of smiles move her mouth. In some way, looking backwards, to him, is seeing the future.
She placed a hand on his face, "Look at you. You're young."
He stared back at her with wide eyes, looking at her hand almost caressing his face. And she couldn't do anything but pull it back.
"I'm really not, you know." She hadn't seen this Doctor before. He seemed quite young. Fresh faced, brown hair all spiky and glasses. If she had known any better, he would have said something ridiculous like glasses are cool! Just for the sake of it. Just to annoy her. To make her shake her head.
She studied his face, wondering just how young he could be. "No, but you are. You're eyes..." There was no recognition in them. And oh, there was always recognition. Whether it was in a smirk, or a smile, a twinkle, or a nervous glance. Sometimes, and more often lately, he had been observing her back, watching her movements, picking apart her words for clues, because he wasn't sure of who she was. But always, he knew something.
He would smile, and say that he trusted her. Not quite her Doctor, but the Doctor, always. The man who she would tear apart the cosmos for, damn the universe as an afterthought. Now...he simply looked confused. "You're younger than I've ever seen you before." She told him, clenching her hand by her side. Not her Doctor.
His next words broke her heart. If the sound wasn't an impossible one, it would have sounded like the world around her had splintered like glass. A coldness left goosebumps over her skin and she blinked. "You've seen me before, then?" And his face, like she confused him. She knew the day was coming. That one day that he would meet her for the very first time.
She never thought it would be like this. Feel like this. It was torturous.
"Doctor...please, tell me you know who I am." It felt like she was pleading. (But to whom? Him? The TARDIS? Fate?) Desperation tinged her voice and leaked out onto her face. Normally she was so very good at hiding it. But she didn't want to know the truth. She wanted to know that he knew her. That they were married. That they ran across the glittering cosmos hand in hand. That they always would.
"Who are you?" His face was so blank. No spoilers. Nothing to know. Nothing ever known. He had never set eyes upon her. Or been subjected to teases of spoilers. Or trying to wheedle spoilers out of her. Or even teasing her about things in her future. He didn't know her. Who she was. Who they were.
She couldn't help lean away. A combination of shock and sadness. My time is coming to an end. A life without the Doctor, without my Doctor. Because she had died before, once, twice, three times.
(...But this was a fate worse than death.)
"One day Doctor, I'm going to be someone that you trust." She would smile at the thought, but her mouth refuses to cooperate. After all, he doesn't trust her now. When she whispers those words in his ear, to force that trust onto him, she feels like she's doing something so wrong. It shouldn't have been like this, his first meeting.
Then when Anita stifles her shock as she realises that she has two shadows, she tells her, "Just keep it together, okay?" (What else can she do now but keep on moving. Further away from him. To the farthest point either of them will ever know. She had always known about him, had it whispered in her ear. Told stories of a madman who fixed a crack in her best friend's room. The Doctor. But he hadn't always known her.) She continued on, doing what she had to do. What she must do. For the sake of timelines, and for the sake of herself, knowing that if she paused for too long, then she might just break down and refuse to continue.
They argued. They would always argue. Little words of banter exchanged or full blown arguments. There would be times when she would fume. He would glare in anger. "Nobody can open the TARDIS by snapping their fingers. It doesn't work like that." He seemed miffed, as though she knew something he didn't. The last few times they had met, he acted as though her knowledge and her spoilers was something wrong. For once the shoe was on the other foot and she was the person who knew it all.
"It does for the Doctor." Was what she could say to him. He frowned in annoyance, the creases in his forehead showing the words he was thinking, what kind of an answer is that?
"I am the Doctor."
She looked at him, he with so very young eyes. "Someday." (Perhaps someday soon. Perhaps it would be in a few hours. Maybe in a year? But definitely someday.)
Then they were smiling. The blue waves of the gravity platform tinting the air around them. "Bet I like you." He grinned at her.
"Oh, you do." And she smiled back.
And then there was hate. She told him plainly. His harebrained plan, something which she was sure would never work. Couldn't work. "I hate you sometimes."
"I know!" He called back, turned away from her. He didn't have a single clue. (There had been days when the hate coursed through her veins, as Madame Kovarian whispered the deeds of the Doctor in her ear. Like poison.)
She never did imagine her comforting him before her own death. That was something she wouldn't have been able to guess. She might have thought she would die because of her past, or her enemies, or even because she had not ran fast enough. She never ever imagined that it would be to preserve her own timeline. Their timeline. "It's okay. It's not over for you. You've got all that to come. You and me. Time and space. You watch us run!"
(It was the truth. So plain and beautiful. She would die here and now, but he would walk on forwards to meet her. He had to walk on forwards to meet her. No ifs, not buts. Only acceptance. And it came willingly for once. River could remember a time when she would have gladly torn the universe apart, just to save him.)
She never saw him with her diary in his hands. Not with the pages full of words and their lives. "Come on, next chapter's this way." The Doctor told Donna as they were about to leave. Then things changed. He really was her Doctor. Or rather more close to him than she believed before. "Come on! You and me. One last run!"
The next chapter had began, and it was filled with more running, more spoilers, more laughter and more love than the one before. Her entire past spread out for them to run through.
"Hello River." The Doctor said as he stood in the doorway. He spoke quietly and she ushered him out, watching his face. She knew not to be so hopeful. CAL was quite resourceful and wanted to help, yet she was only a child and didn't realise that she couldn't.
"And what sort of time do you call this, sweetie?" River asked as she sat down next to him on the top of the landing stairs.
"I know. I'm sorry. It took me a while. After all, there was a lot of running to be done. All those pages," he traced a finger over her blue diary, "to be filled."
"I think you did a pretty good job." She leaned into his side and he leaned back. "Doctor, are you really here?"
"Yes. Silence fell. The question was asked, and I answered it. How could I not?" He sighed heavily.
"I'm surprised that you're here though. How-" River wondered aloud but he cut her off with the answer.
"Security protocol two." He grinned. "Til death do us part?" Then he scoffed. "Silly humans. No, just a brief separation until we could meet again. That's the real way to do it." He tapped her cheek.
"I'm glad you're here." She told him truthfully. (She had been so lonely without him.)
"I'm glad too. Now then Professor." He stood up. "Would you like to explore the Wilderness of the Satim Leagues. I do have to warn you, they have the most breathtaking scenery." He paused and frowned. "Well, second compared to you."
"Flattery...will get you nowhere." She replied as she took his outstretched hand. The room melted away from around them as CAL slowly built up the image of the blue TARDIS in her Library's main reception.
"Is that so?" The Doctor grinned as he opened the doors and they ran inside, the interior brightly lit up and the engines thrumming, ready to fly off to the far edges of the universe. The blue box dematerialised quickly, off into the time vortex and CAL watched a new story being written. One which was better than any that had been written before.
There wasn't any catching up. No looking over shoulders to see what had been done. There were no more spoilers either.(Only looking forwards. One and one with the same knowledge.) The future and the past and everything in between was done. So now, it was just living and running. And they would run for so much longer, with the whole of Time and Space.
River Song and the Doctor together in tandem at last.
Please do leave a review, I did end up putting a lot of time into this and it'd be nice to hear what you thought :D