Spoilers for the River Song storyline. (DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN 'A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR.')
"River you know my name. You whispered my name in my ear. There's only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There's only one time I could."
–The Tenth Doctor; Forest of the Dead.
Time heals all wounds.
Or, the Doctor decides, it was supposed to. And it usually did. As his life progressed—the long years fading into his past—and unchangeable constant of his current life—the pain remained, but it softened. He was the last of his kind, and yet every morning he maintained a charade of glee—with just a touch of insanity. The people he'd lost? He felt them—he felt every single one of them.
It wasn't easy.
But time had ebbed away at the pain. And if only a little, it was still enough.
If ever he'd had a more constant companion, it was time itself. Locked away beneath the control panel of the TARDIS—the time vortex. A wibbly-wobbly-kinda-cliché-timey-wimey place where he could attempt to begin to define 'time.'
But whatever it was, the Doctor had recently learned that it only made some wounds—some burdens—harder to bear.
He swallows, and takes a moment—a miniscule fraction of a tiny portion of a millisecond—to remind himself of what he knows. What he knows and what she cannot know. She had a little book, with scrawled words of emotion to remember her times with him. All he needs is his mind. His mad, brilliant, deafening mind. It's all there—everything he knows about her and the knowledge of what he'll need to know soon. He doesn't need to flip the pages—he just needs to close his eyes and think for a moment of a moment.
No, he decides. Time doesn't heal all wounds.
In fact, in her case—time was tantamount to acid on an already fatal wound. Every time he saw her—her hair, and her face and those soft, soft lips—it was as though time was simply amused by putting through all of this and he was sorely tempted to stalk down to the base of the TARDIS and tell him exactly what he thought of that.
Instead, he greets her with a grin and open arms.
She's pleased that he knows her. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that she hates the idea of a day when he doesn't recognise her—and let face it, he was far more than a genius could ever be—and he's only just realised that he hates it to.
Not because he's lived it.
But because she has it yet to come.
"The funny thing is this means you've always known how I was going to die. All the time we've been together you knew I was coming here."
He wonders if she thought about it as she told him—one minute and thirty seconds before she died—he thinks if she knew that from the minute she met him she was telling him what to do. And not just in the literal sense. She told him about his future self's rules—spoilers—and about the day she last saw him—the real him?—and she told him his name. For his past to happen he knows that he too must do these things.
"Glad to see me?" He blinks the memory away—not managing, or even attempting, to stop his thoughts—as she strides towards him. She's wearing a dress—and he's only kissed her once—and he's about ninety-six-percent sure that she'll have some sort of gun stowed away on her person.
He doesn't need to lie. But neither does he have to tell her a truth that will hurt her.
Because he is. Glad to see her, that is. He really truly is. Rory and Amy were sleeping—hidden away in the depths of the TARDIS and there's no reason to pretend that seeing her makes him react in ways that he hasn't quite felt in this eleventh form—unless you count the incident with Pond, which, seeing as she was now sleeping soundly with her husband and he was in the control room thinking things about her daughter, he tried not to. His hearts start beating and his chest feels light and his head isn't quite working as it should and for a moment he wonders how human's can yearn for this feeling so much but then she smiles and he doesn't care because she's here.
But he hates it. He hates that every visit from her—the more he knows about her, the less she knows about him. He hates that he knows that with every smile and every encounter that sets his body on fire she's heading towards that day. Towards that damn library.
He doesn't tell her this.
"I am quite glad actually," he begins to ramble, "and you look, uh..." he motions to her attire, his hands flailing as she laughs at his antics.
"You could just say beautiful." She helps him out, striding closer, he confident smile never leaving those damn lips.
He pauses for a moment, reeling his arms back and clasping them in front of his chest. He surveys her for another second, before smiling with her. "You look beautiful..."
Her smile, if possible, glows all the more radiant.
Which is a stupid thing to say. Because how can a smile glow? Bugs and torches and tongue of flame and Christmas lights glow. Not smiles.
But hers smiles the best, a voice in his head tells him, and he decides not to waste time shushing it.
"Shall we do diaries then?" She suggests, pulling out the blue book from god knows where. "Where are we?"
He's not sure what it is. It might be the stress—because he's been under a lot of that lately. Or it could have been the way she lifted her eyes to meet his again, magic seemingly dancing in her gaze. Or it could have been the knowledge that again he was leading her that much closer to her death. Whatever it was, the Doctor didn't think to his internal diary.
No. Instead, he took a swift step forward, grasped her head in his hands and kissed those soft damn lips.
She's caught off guard for a moment, but she responds quickly enough for him to know that she's done this with him before. Her soft lips press back against his firmly, and she lifts a hand to his neck. Finally, finally, he can lift his hand to run it through her hair and finally he can grasp at her waist the way he'd been thinking about when she'd kissed him.
They break again—a second for air—before she kisses him again. Her tongue slips into his mouth and she lets out a breathy sigh as he pulls her body closer to him. His arms aren't flailing around like they had his first—her last—time. His hands move back to her neck, cupping her face as he holds her to him. He likes this—he decides—he liked it the first time but it was just a little unexpected and then she'd looked so shattered that he couldn't kiss her again. But it's true. He likes the way she fits against him and he likes her curly hair and he particularly likes the softness of her incredibly lips.
He would show up on her doorstep. He knew that much. With a new haircut and a suit. He'd take her wherever she wanted—even if he already knew where that was—and he'd watch those singing towers with her.
He swallows as he pulls away.
She stares at him, her smile still present on her face—glowing all the more bright.
"What was that for?" She queries.
He knows his answer before he gives it—and it upsets him to think that he will never know if he taught her to say it, or if she taught him.
"Now, River Song," he whispers softly to her, bringing her head forward and kissing her temple. "Spoilers..."
You watch us run.