Author: Regency

Title: Is Not That Strange?

Pairing(s): River/Doctor, uploaded!River/Doctor

Rating: G

Spoilers: Forest of the Dead, passing reference to A Good Man Goes to War

Contains: AU, angst

Warning: implied canon character death, (maybe) emotional infidelity

Word count: ~420

Summary: The Doctor has had many great loves, but now he's got two of the same: the River Song he resurrected and the echo that he saved. The choice would be easy, were the mimic not so brilliant, nor the original so changed.

Author's Notes: There's no particular Doctor in mind here, so I suppose you can use whichever tickles your fancy. I acknowledge that it's a pretty weird story, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters recognizable as being from Doctor Who. They are the property of their actors, producers, writers, and studios, not me. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made in the writing or distribution of this story. It was good, clean fun. And the title was taken from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, a line of Benedick's in the fourth act: I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?

The Doctor knows this River Song. She is flirtatious and clever and quick. She baits him without care, not bothering to think him fragile. She is the woman he recognizes from their too-short not-quite-love affair.

She is not the true River Song. She is the holographic water in a photonic forest, even if she remains the only water there. She is one one-thousandth of an impression of a life. She is a degraded copy of a vibrant thing.

And he thinks…he might love her more.

The true River Song, with her laughter, her spoilers, and her shadows, hurts. He knows that, even living, she still feels herself dying. This body he made her, this near-human form into which he's crammed her expansive mind, struggles. He wants to say she was a perfect being, that he could never replicate her exactly the same. But then, he knows she's aware of that. She knows his shortcomings better than he, will know them for the rest of her life, however long that is.

She loves him anyway. Running from him, disappearing into expanse of time, she wears a shadow of the smile he's been learning to love for days, months, years. She knows he'll chase her. He's given her life, he has to, but she doesn't need to know that he won't go quickly. A mad Time Lord in his mad time box needn't rush. He'll find her when it's right.

She needn't know he'll sit in orbit of the Library planet for some long while, talking to the digital ghost of the woman she was—what there is of her, at least. Four-fifths of her neurological data was lost and still she fascinates him.

He thinks he loves her best because she doesn't know him exceedingly well yet. She still expects him not to fail. She never asks that he rescue her, but he knows that for the rest of his life that's exactly what he'll try to do. This River Song has hope while his River Song has given it all up.

What an awful way to fall out of love.

They both deserve better than he can give, yet they've always chosen this. He's always chosen them as well. He always will. Such is the life of a time traveler who loves a time traveler. Their journey never truly ends, just goes on and forward and back again.

In all honesty, he'd be more than willing to live a lie. If only his hearts were as willing to decide the truth.