No specific spoilers for much of anything beyond Forest of the Dead. Lots of general ones, though, and follows canon through A Good Man Goes To War.

Also, my first ever ever attempt at Doctor Who. Well, since I was a very young child and didn't even know what fanfiction was back in the ... a loooong time ago. But either way, be gentle!


He tugged again, the cold metal cutting still deeper into the already raw flesh at his wrists, but he hardly noticed the pain. It was already far, far too late. The console upon which she'd sat lay empty. She was gone, consumed in the rush of raw energy as she'd channeled the power of all those thousands of living minds.

It should have been him. At least he'd have had a chance...

No. That wasn't true. She was right. Damn it. Even with the power to consume and convert energy built into every molecule of his being... Even with his ability to regenerate – even if he could somehow have managed it in the final moments before the power would have destroyed his own body... He still wouldn't have survived intact. Not any of the parts which were truly him.

And what use would a mindless shell be to anyone?

If only he'd had more time. He might have come up with a real solution.

But there was never enough of that.

-o-o-o-o-o-

The words of the eulogy, amplified and broadcast through speakers placed surreptitiously throughout the cemetery, drifted on the breeze as far as the surrounding fields and hills. For the mourners assembled around the empty grave the words were crystal clear, even to the slightly mismatched looking couple, he in an incongruous maroon-bow tie and her in an antique denim jacket, standing alone together at the very back. As the speech continued, the young man slipped his hand into the younger woman's, bending his head slightly to say a few words into her ear. She nodded and offered him a tight half-smile in response before turning back to look at the speaker. One strand of long orange hair had blown across her face, and she absently tucked it back behind one ear in an all-too familiar gesture as she listened.

Up at the front of the group, a young boy, dressed appropriately in the black which remained expected for mourning despite how far mankind had spread, seemed to be having far more difficulty paying attention. His almost constant fidgeting and glancing around at the crowd stopped suddenly, however, when the older woman standing next to him dropped one hand firmly onto his shoulder. He remained still, but his bright blue eyes continued to scan his surroundings from under his unruly mop of dark brown curls, looking at anything rather than focusing on the speaker and the grave in front of him. The woman, his nanny - even though at nine he believed himself far too old to need such a person - was too busy keeping the toddler in her arms quiet to notice this subtle rebellion.

Finally, though, to the boy's obvious relief, the ceremony concluded. He then waited, more-or-less patiently, while the rest of the crowd departed, many of them stopping as they left to say a few words to him or to pat his baby sister on the head. The last to approach were the man and woman from the back of the crowd. After a few words to his nanny, who only now lost control and began to cry, the young man took the boy's hand while his sister was transferred into the young woman's waiting arms. Then, after kneeling down to give the little boy who had been her charge for so long one last hug and kiss on the cheek, the older woman turned and followed the rest of the mourners away from the grave.

After a few moments spent lingering at the grave site, the young couple and the children headed away from the grave themselves. At the turn-off to the exit, though, the man turned to lead them down a smaller side path and up to the large blue box sitting off to one side.

"Aren't we going home, Daddy?" the boy asked as the man fumbled briefly with the key.

"No, sweetie. We discussed this. You're not going to live there anymore," he explained.

"Then where's Mummy?" the child asked.

"Ahhh... Yes. Remember? Mummy is..."

By now, she'd managed to catch them up. "Right here, sweetie," she said, stepping through the door after them.

Startled, man and boy both turned around to look at her, identical expressions on two very dissimilar faces. After the barest moment's hesitation, the man continued, gesturing around the console room, "Is supposed to be waiting for us in the TARDIS." But the smile on his face belayed the scolding in his tone.

She returned his smile. "But where's the fun in that?" she asked. Stepping forward, she planted a quick kiss on her husband's cheek before turning to accept their baby daughter into her arms. "Hello, there, little one. Did you miss me?" she asked the sleeping child.

"I did, Mummy!" the little boy complained as she crossed the room to set the baby in her cot. "That was boooring!"

"Memorial Services aren't supposed to be fun," his father explained. Then, as she rejoined them near the console, he continued, "And I fear it's considered terrible form to drop in on your own."

She snorted under her breath. "Look who's talking. Besides," she continued before he could interrupt, "I stayed out of sight. I just wanted to hear what everybody had to say about me."

"Exactly. Very bad form. What if someone had seen you? How would you have explained that? Without, you know, revealing a bit too much about who you really are?"

She rolled her eyes. "You worry too much. Nobody did. By the way, you were amazing back there, you know? Have I mentioned that?"

He smiled at her, preening slightly. "Maybe... once or twice... But you can say it again," he quickly added.

She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek again. "Amazing. That trick with the screwdriver, and then coming back to pull me out at exactly the right second like that before transferring me back... Simply amazing."

He preened again, straightening his bow-tie and rocking back onto his heels. "Well... I did have a long time to think about it..." he admitted, smiling broadly. "And remember, you did say I'd always be there to catch you. Couldn't let a girl down now, could I?" His tone remained lighthearted but the look he shot her from beneath the long fringe shadowing his eyes eloquently spoke his true emotions.

"I wish I could have been there."

She tore her gaze away from her husband's face and they both turned to look at the young woman standing momentarily forgotten at his side. "You, darling, are precisely why I time-shifted my psychic invitation in the first place. After how wiggy your father gets whenever anyone mentions The Library... or any library... or really nearly anything having to do with books or artificial moons or teleports or... Well. Anyway. No way was I inviting him there while you were with him. Especially not after he'd shown up like that and given me his screwdriver."

"Oh... so that's why... I'd often wondered... Wait." Her husband turned back to her suddenly, his mouth hanging slightly open. "You mean... all this time... you knew...?"

"Not everything, of course. But I knew there was something." She couldn't help but laugh at the expression on his face. It was nice to know that, even after so long, she still had the power to surprise him. "Sweetie, you're good. But even you're not that good. Didn't expect the invite to go quite so far back, of course. Though now I'm pretty sure I know who we can blame that on."

"Good old girl. Might not always get me where I want to go..."

"But always gets you were you need to be?"

"Exactly. Speaking of which, where to now?"

She shrugged. "No idea. I'm out of spoilers."

"Me too. That was my last one."

"I thought it might be." Then, suddenly, she turned back to him, smiling broadly. A future without spoilers …

His smile matched her own, his eyes bright with joy. "I know," he said softly.

Because of course he did. For the first time since they had met, wherever and whenever that had actually been, they both knew everything. Or at least, all of the same things. And they both – finally - had all the time in the world. In all the worlds.

"Mummies!" their son suddenly exclaimed, breaking the mood.

"Yes?" she asked.

"No. Mummies! Real ones. On Earth! Can we, please?"

She thought for only a moment. She'd always wanted to explore the pyramids. The real pyramids – the original ones on Earth. It shouldn't be too difficult to forge the necessary credentials, either. She'd always been rather fond of early twentieth century English university robes, too, for between expeditions. Had lots of handy spots to hide things about in, those robes. She could probably even learn to live with the silly hats they'd made women wear back then. Grabbing hold of the TARDIS controls, she smiled down at her son, "Egypt it is, then."

"Oh. Good! Wonderful!" his father explained, clapping his hands together in glee. "Pith helmets! How I adore pith helmets! There's one around here somewhere if I can only remember where..." Glancing around the cluttered room, his gaze fell upon the eager face of his son and he quickly amended, "Two. I'm sure I have two. Must have two. Somewhere..."

Then again...

Maybe Egypt wasn't such a great idea, after all.


Author's Comments (contain spoilers through what's been aired): A bit of explanation on how I perceive the timelines working. While in Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon River implies she's meeting the Doctor in a complete reverse chronology, if that were absolutely true they wouldn't need to compare diaries. Thus I assume what she really means is that, in general, they're moving in opposite directions through time. However, given time is fluid and they're careful about spoilers and have a need to figure out exactly where they're both from in their respective timelines, I'm assuming it's not a perfect chronological A-B-C matches C-B-A progression.

Furthermore, in Jenn-land, I'm assuming that they actually spend most of their time together in the period in her time-line between the crash of the Byzantium (which I also suspect is when she gets out of Stormcage) and Silence in the Library (by which time she's a university professor). Obviously, though, in Impossible Astronaut that was still in River's future so she didn't know about this yet and simply assumes the generally reversed timelines will continue on indefinitely. And of course, she's right in that a meeting with the Doctor in which he doesn't know him is inevitable given he has to meet her for the first time sometime. However, I get a feeling based on the changes in River's circumstances that a lot of subjective time passes for her between those two meetings, in which having the Doctor from his future 'show up at her door' wasn't an amazingly rare occurrence, and - frankly - if I were the Doctor with a TARDIS - that's when I'd do most of my 'going back to spend time with her' too. Moreover, as we now know River is Time Lord-ish, we actually have NO idea how old she might be at the time of Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead but we do now know she's not restricted to a day-by-day linear progression of time herself, either.