Title: Remembering the Doctor
Summary: The untold story of how Doctor River Song just happened to be in the right place at the right time to help Amy Pond remember the Doctor.
Characters: Doctor River Song, Captain Jack Harkness, Rory Williams, and Amy Pond
Word Count: 2,032
Spoilers: All of Doctor who but especially for the episodes The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. There are also very vague references to the events that take place in Torchwood: Children of Earth.
Beta: Many thanks to thesteppyone for the beta and the Britpick. Any remaining errors are my own.
Author's Notes: This is my first piece of fan fiction for the Doctor Who fandom. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it:)
Remembering the Doctor
She'd been sitting at the bar for an hour when she suddenly sensed a familiar presence behind her. She slowly finished the remains of her drink and without turning around addressed the man standing behind her, "It's been a long time."
"Pompey," he replied as he slipped into the empty seat beside her with a flirtatious grin. "I believe, if my memory serves me correctly."
"Ah yes, Volcano day," she acknowledged turning to the man with a small smile of her own. They were in the right timeline then. "Good times."
"Good times, indeed." The man leaned over to signal the bartender and ordered, "Get the lady another drink please and a glass of water for me."
Her smile broadened at the gesture; he was obviously still the same charming rouge that she remembered. She accepted the drink with a casual nod and asked, "So, what are you calling yourself these days?"
He raised his glass of water in invitation and answered, "Captain Jack Harkness."
"Doctor River Song," she offered as she raised her glass in response to his toast. They each took a drink and River smiled once more at her handsome companion. "So what can I do for you, Jack?"
"What makes you think that I want something?" Jack asked flirtatiously.
River raised her eyebrow and stated matter-of-factly, "Somehow, Jack, I doubt your running into me here is a coincidence."
He chuckled sadly, and as he looked down at the bar his entire demeanour transformed. "You know me too well, River."
At once she could tell that a lot more time had passed for Jack then she had initially thought. This was not the carefree, reckless man she'd shared a few memorable nights with. He was changed somehow; hardened by his experiences in a way that she couldn't describe yet now that she was looking could clearly see.
He raised his eyes to her once more and said seriously, "I need you to spark a memory."
River sighed. They had had this conversation once before. "I'm sorry, Jack," she replied, "but you know that I don't have the ability to spark a memory once it's been removed by the Agency."
Jack shook his head, "No, not mine, River. This has nothing to do with the Time Agency."
"Then whose memor…?"
"Yours," Jack interrupted. "Everyone's."
"The Doctor, River. I need you to remember the Doctor."
"I don't understand, what doctor, Jack?"
"He's a mutual friend of ours."
"I have no idea who you're talking about," River said in exasperation. She set her drink on the bar and moved to leave before her timeline could get spoiled any further. "Perhaps it simply hasn't happened for me yet."
Jack moved quickly to grasp her wrist before she could go and insisted, "No, you see that's the problem, River. It has, you just can't remember him. No one can, and without your help no one ever will again."
River pulled her hand back sharply and snapped, "What you're suggesting is preposterous, Jack! Surely I know my own mind better than you do, and I'm telling you that I haven't encountered any nameless doctor, so unless you can give me a name to work with I cannot help you."
Jack sighed in exasperation. "His name is the Doctor and his existence is being erased from the very fabric of the universe. That's the reason that you can't remember him; why no one is able to remember him."
River looked at Jack closely. He had an earnest expression on his face that she had never seen from him before. After holding his gaze for a moment and seeing no sign of Jack's usual tells as a conman, River hesitantly reclaimed her seat at the bar. "Okay, if what you're telling me is true then how come you can remember him?"
Jack's entire body tensed as he answered, "That is a very long story River. Suffice it to say that a long time ago, something happened to me that resulted in my becoming a fixed point in time in space. I can't age and I can't die."
"You can't die?" River gasped disbelievingly.
"Well, that's not entirely true," Jack admitted. "I can die; it just doesn't stick, no matter how many times I've wished that it would."
"But that's impossible!" River exclaimed.
Jack smiled sadly, "I've been called an impossible thing more than once, usually by the Doctor."
River took a deep breath and asked, "Okay, assuming that I believe you, how did this happen and more importantly what do I have to do with all of this?"
"Something caused the Doctor's TARDIS to explode, which created a huge crack in the fabric of time and space. Essentially, the entire Universe ceased to exist for a brief period of time."
"What?" River asked in stunned disbelief.
"Yeah," Jack grimaced. "That wasn't a fun experience. One minute I'm drowning my sorrows in a bar at the edge of the Theriaxian Galaxy, and the next I find myself floating in a sea of nothingness; the only being in existence. It was more disturbing than any death I've ever experienced and trust me when I say that I've recovered from some pretty awful deaths over the years."
River laughed nervously, "You do realize how absurd this all sounds?"
"I'm all too aware of it," Jack said with a tight smile. "Anyway, the Doctor managed to figure out a way to reshape the universe, based upon a memory of the universe as it was, but he needed to travel into the heart of the explosion to do it. All memory of him was purged from the universe, but there is a way to bring him back. His companion is special; she was exposed to that crack in space and time for so long that her memory is the key to restoring him. In order to help the Doctor, I need you to help that companion to remember him."
"But I still don't understand, Jack. Why me?" River asked. "I don't remember any of this, so surely you would be able to help his companion to remember him better than I ever could."
"It would never work with me," Jack said seriously. "Amy Pond hasn't met me. I only know what little I know because I'm an anomaly in space and time. You were there with Amy when the Doctor rebooted the universe. You're a part of this, River. It has to be you."
Jack looked straight into her eyes as he continued, "You have an empty blue journal that you carry around with you everywhere that you go, but you don't know why. That journal used to contain information about your encounters with the Doctor so you could keep things straight when you kept meeting him out of order in your timelines."
"Please, River," he begged. "I can get you to the right time and place. All you need to do is get that journal into Amy's hands, and let her catch a glimpse of you. If I'm wrong I'll only have wasted an hour or two of your time, but if I'm right you will have helped to save someone that you care about. Someone who deserves to be remembered!"
River turned away to gather her thoughts once Jack finished delivering his passionate plea. It didn't make any sense, and yet she knew deep down in her soul that this was not a con. Jack was right about her empty blue journal. She'd had it for years and never quite knew why she felt compelled to carry it around with her, aside from a vague feeling that it was somehow important. Whether real or imagined, Jack believed in this Doctor. He believed that she knew him too, and as crazy as it sounded, she was beginning to believe it herself.
River picked up her drink and swiftly drank it down in one shot. Then she put the empty glass back on the bar and met Jack's eyes once again. "Okay," she said as she rose to her feet. "Let's give it a try."
Jack made himself scarce as soon as they'd arrived at their destination, leaving River alone with her mission. It was surprisingly easy to catch the groom alone as he'd run to the gents shortly after arriving at the reception. Journal in hand, she approached him as soon as he'd exited the restroom.
"I'm terribly sorry to have to run out on you both, but there's been an emergency," River said urgently.
The poor man looked confused but responded kindly, "Don't worry about it. We understand."
"Thank you," River exclaimed with a sigh of relief. "Could you please give this to Amy for me? I wouldn't want to leave her without something blue on her wedding day."
"Yes, of course," the groom replied as he took the journal. "I hope everything turns out okay."
River called back, "Thanks, again!" as she quickly rushed away. She waited outside for fifteen minutes or so to make certain that the groom had time to return to the party. Then she walked around the building until she found the wall of large windows that looked into the dance hall. She walked by slowly and smiled as the bride caught her eye and jumped to her feet as if in surprised recognition.
River kept walking. She had done her part; it was up to Amy now.
She walked along blindly with no real destination in mind; tears streaming unchecked down her cheeks. She had forgotten him! The memories were disorientating when they slammed back into her head and it was a terrifying revelation that the Doctor could have been lost to the universe forever. Why if it hadn't been for Jack…
With the return of her memories she had momentarily forgotten about the man who had set this all in motion. She wiped her eyes with the corner of her sleeve, took a deep breath, and looked around. She had inadvertently travelled to Amy's house and there, sitting innocently in the garden was the TARDIS!
She ran the rest of the way and had nearly reached the door when she heard a voice.
"He's not here," Jack said as he appeared behind her. "He's gone back to the wedding."
"It's okay," River said with a smile. "He'll be back once he's had his fill of the dancing. We can wait here for him to get back."
"I'm not going to stay," Jack informed her. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell him that I was here."
River raised an eyebrow and asked, "May I ask why?"
Jack smiled sadly. "I'm not part of this story and truth be told, despite everything I've done to try and help him today, I'm not very happy with the Doctor right now."
"What happened?" River asked gently.
Jack took a deep breath. "He wasn't there when I needed him. I lost someone close to me and was forced to do something I will never forgive myself for in order to save this world. I need time to try to come to terms with that and I don't particularly want him to get the idea that I'm willing to be at his beck and call."
"Even though you obviously are," River said knowingly.
Jack chuckled humourlessly, "Especially because I am."
River nodded. "Take care of yourself, Jack."
"We'll see each other again, River." Jack said with a small but genuine smile. "I'm sure of it."
"Well, until then, then."
"Until then," Jack replied before he pushed a button on his vortex manipulator and vanished in a flash of light.
River smiled and found a place to wait out of sight. She knew it would be at least a couple of hours before the Doctor tried to sneak back to the TARDIS and she was glad to have some time to gather her thoughts. She wanted to be able to face the Doctor with composure before they parted. He was going to learn the truth about her very soon, and she was going to enjoy maintaining her air of mystery while it lasted.
Because the next time they met, everything was going to change.