A/N: Not sure where this came from, especially the angsty bits, but it wouldn't let me rest until I wrote it down. This was partially inspired by the Confidential for AGMGTW, especially Alex Kingston's suggestive comment about how many babies might've slept in the Doctor's cot.
I'm imagining this being a while after AGMGTW, when the Doctor and River's time lines were more or less linear.
Never Let Me Down
In a tiny, cold, and dark cell, one lonely figure sat huddled in a corner of her bed, wrapped in a thin blanket, her knees hugging her chest and her arms wrapped firmly around them. Her head was bent forward in defeat, the mass of golden curls partially covering her face. River Song wasn't one to succumb to her emotions easily. Throughout her life she had rarely felt defeated. But it had been six months. Six long months without a word, without a sign of life from him. She had slowly started to give up hope of ever seeing him again, though she knew this was ridiculous. They would always keep meeting somehow, no matter where and when they were in their respective time lines. Sometimes they saw each other every other week, and sometimes they didn't see each other for months. This was one of those times, and River only hoped that it wouldn't turn into years of absence.
Suddenly her head shot up as she heard the all too familiar whirring sound starting to appear out of nowhere. For a moment she feared she had finally lost it and was merely imagining the sound, but soon it grew louder, echoing through the long prison corridors, and she knew it was the real deal. When the unmistakably blue box began to materialise on the other side of the bars, her heart skipped a beat, though at the same time a great sense of fear began to overwhelm her. This was it; this was the moment, and there was no way back.
The Doctor typed in the coordinates he knew off by heart now, and danced around the TARDIS console as he flew her towards the desired destination as quickly as possible. When he had received River's psychic paper, he had dropped off all three Ponds back home in Leadworth and made for Storm Cage immediately. The message had been brief, but it sounded rather urgent. The Doctor couldn't quite put his finger on it, but somehow he sensed that it was something important.
He had left the handbrakes on again. He knew River would chastise him for it the moment he arrived, but he couldn't help himself. The whirring made sexy sound just that much cooler. Besides, at least this way she would hear him arriving.
As soon as he had landed he opened the door and stepped out tentatively, not sure of what to expect. Her message had been non-specific, and he had no idea which version of River he was about to meet. With River he was always prepared to expect everything and nothing, all at the same time. But the one thing he was expecting was for her to greet him with a smile. He was about to be sorely disappointed.
There was no smile, no "hello sweetie" or anything. She wasn't standing on the other side of the bars eagerly awaiting his arrival like she usually did. Instead he spotted her sitting on her bed, without so much as acknowledging his presence. She hadn't even opened her prison cell for him, but his screwdriver made quick work of that, and soon he was by her side. Still hugging her knees to her chest, still refusing to look at him.
He crouched down next to her and softly placed his hand on her arm. She unsuccessfully tried to suppress a slight shudder as he did so.
"River, what's wrong?" he asked, obviously worried.
"You left me here all alone," she said softly, the sense of defeat clearly noticeable in her voice.
The Doctor looked confused. "Wh-what do you mean 'left you here'? This is a prison, I don't think I had much of a choice. And I came as soon as I got your message."
At his last words her head finally shot up, their eyes meeting for the first time since he had arrived, and he could tell she'd been crying. "That was six months ago."
The Doctor swallowed, clearly taken aback by her comment. He knew his piloting skills were slightly off sometimes, but they usually weren't this bad. OK apart from that time when he told Amelia he'd be 5 minutes and stayed away for 11 years. But he preferred not to mention that one instance if he could avoid it. But that still didn't explain why she was so upset. They had often been apart for much longer than six months and he had never seen her quite like this.
He reached out to her, tentatively, and ran his hand through the beautiful, soft curls he loved so much. "I'm so sorry River. You know, sexy and I don't always see eye to eye."
"Don't blame your tools," she huffed at him. "You're just piloting her wrong."
He opened his mouth to protest, but changed his mind and closed it again. She might've had a point there, though he would never admit it.
A very River-like smirk crossed her features for a moment, but was all too soon replaced by her previous, grave facial expression.
"Why did you send me the psychic paper?" He asked her. "Is anything the matter?"
She slowly shook her head, making her curls bounce around playfully. "I sent you the message at a moment when I needed you most, but it's too late now. Perhaps it's best if you just go."
"Look, I know you're upset and you have every right to be angry with me, but please don't send me away like this," he pleaded. The Doctor had never seen her quite like this before, and it felt rather unnerving. He'd much prefer to have her yelling at him, or throw things, anything that would relieve her of her anger. But she didn't show any of the usual signs. She appeared defeated, emotionally paralysed, and he was worried about her.
He cupped her face with his hands, forcing her to look him in the eye. He was determined to find out what exactly was wrong, and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. "Talk to me River, please."
Again she shook her head. "I just want to be alone."
She was so clearly lying and she knew it all too well. She didn't really want to be alone. For months she had been waiting for him, pining for him, but now that he was there beside her she wasn't sure quite how to act.
"I know I may be six months late, but you're not getting rid of me this easily Doctor Song," he spoke to her sternly, though they both knew he was trying to lighten the mood in his own, clumsy way.
"Where are we in our time lines?" she suddenly asked after a moment's silence. "Have we done Demon's Run yet?"
He nodded. "That happened a while ago. In fact, I just dropped the Ponds and little Melody off in Leadworth."
She smiled briefly and seemed slightly more reassured. "I'm glad to hear it."
"When did you last see me?" he asked.
She didn't have to think long. "Six months, two weeks, three days and oh, about seven hours ago. How about you?"
Now it was his turn to smile. That answer was so typically River.
"I saw you only five weeks ago," he said.
"Jim the Fish?" she asked.
He nodded. "The very same."
She frowned slightly as she murmured to herself, and he could tell that she was trying to make a calculation of their meetings and time lines and make sense of them.
"Well this is new, sweetie" she finally said. "It would appear that for the first time we are almost exactly linear."
"Hmm well there's a first time for everything," he said and, even though she still didn't look happy, he couldn't suppress a smile.
"But stop trying to change the subject," he continued. "You're usually not our typical damsel in distress, so whatever reason you had when you asked me to come must've been an important one."
She sighed and took hold of the hand that was placed lovingly against her cheek. "After all this time I don't even know where to start anymore," she said.
She lowered her legs, allowing them to dangle over the side of her small, fragile prison bed and padded the space next to her, motioning him to sit down. She never let go of his hand as he moved to sit down next to her, the bed creaking ominously as he did so.
He felt her thumb making circular motions on his hand, and he knew she was stalling, but decided not to push her any further and instead let her do things in her own time.
River took a deep breath. "Remember what happened after our encounter with Jim the Fish?"
"Oh yes," he said and his eyes sparkled mischievously. "I took you to the World Expo in Paris, 1889. We saw the Eiffel Tower and had a picnic on the left bank of the river Seine. And then sexy created an uh..rather interesting new room for us before I brought you back here."
River smiled as she noticed that the Doctor was blushing, undoubtedly reminiscing about that night.
"That was a lovely day and night," he said softly.
"It was," she half-whispered.
"But what has that got to do with anything, lovely as it was?" he asked.
She desperately wanted to tell him, to just blurt it out, but for one of the rare occasions in her life she found herself completely tongue tied. So instead she took the hand she was still holding, and guided it towards her stomach, placing it there and awaiting his reaction.
His eyes widened in shock as his hand came into contact with her body through the baggy black jumper she was wearing. "You're...?"
She nodded again. "Yes," she whispered.
"And I wasn't there for you," he said as he pulled her into a tight embrace. "River, I am so, so sorry."
She inhaled deeply as she allowed herself to relax in his strong embrace. "It's alright, you're here now and that's what matters."
"No, it's not alright," he protested. "I should've been there to support you."
"The important question is what we're going to do now." River said.
"I could travel back to you six months ago," the Doctor suggested. "Then none of this will happen, and you won't have been alone."
River shook her head. "You of all people should know that time can't be rewritten just like that. There's bound to be a reason why you ended up here and not earlier, even though we might not know yet why that happened."
"Only the few fixed, important events can't be changed, everything else can." he protested.
"Sweetie, we're having a baby, that's pretty important as far as I'm concerned," she said.
A baby. The gravity of the situation hadn't quite hit him yet. The thought of the two of them having a baby was terrifying, but completely brilliant at the same time. He had no idea how they were even going to do this, what with their time lines going in opposite directions. It was going to be incredibly difficult, but he was already convinced that it would be worth the effort a hundred times over.
It struck him how he had missed all the obvious signs when he had set eyes on River this time around, how he hadn't noticed the differences at first. Even in the dim light of the prison cell he could clearly tell that there was something different about her. Her features had softened, her face had filled out ever so slightly. And although he always thought her indescribably beautiful, there was something about her that he couldn't quite put his finger on. It was almost as if she had a kind of glow, cliché as it might sound. Both his hearts swelled with the pride and love he felt for this beautiful, impossible, enigmatic woman sitting next to him.
"I love you, so much," he said before leaning in and softly brushing his lips over hers. She eagerly responded and he deepened the kiss, tangling his fingers in her beautiful golden locks as he did so. Expressing his feelings for her eloquently wasn't one of his strong points, so he tried his best to put all that he couldn't say into that kiss, to show rather than tell her how he really felt. And she seemed to understand it completely. She had always known and understood him better than anyone else had in the whole of time and space.
When they finally pulled apart they were both out of breath and he peered at her from under the lock of hair which had flopped down over his forehead. "As much as I enjoyed doing that, I'm sure the TARDIS has got a bed that's far more comfortable than this old thing," he said as he patted the thin mattress for emphasis.
"So I'm coming with you then?" River asked.
"Of course you are," the Doctor responded. "You really didn't expect me to leave you behind in this dingy place did you? Especially in your condition. I mean, this is the 51st century. I'm sure they must be familiar with the concept of central heating," he said as he rubbed his hands together.
"It's what they do," River sighed. "They do have a heating system, but it is switched on and off at random, so you never know when this place will be heated and how long it will last. Hence the jumper and blanket."
Suddenly the Doctor jumped off the bed and sonic-ed the prison cell open. "All the more reason to come with me then. So pack your bags Doctor Song and follow me into the TARDIS, where the temperature is always constant and, might I say, most agreeable."
River got up as well and pulled her diary out from under the mattress, figuring it was all she needed to bring. At the last moment she decided to grab a couple of guns and her vortex manipulator as well, just in case. She hurried out and towards the TARDIS without so much as a backward glance as the alarms rang out and the hurried footsteps of the guards started to come closer.
She had no idea what life had in store for her, and she knew that at some point, unfortunately, she would have to return to prison. But for now she wasn't going to trouble her mind with any of that. The Doctor had come for her, albeit a bit late, and she was going to enjoy every second of it while it lasted. It was terrifying, but also thrilling and exciting, all at the same time. As she noticed the first guards coming around the corner she quickly stepped inside, slammed the door behind her, and within seconds the TARDIS had dematerialised.
Next stop: everywhere.
Thank you for reading. Please review!