Title: Closer Now Than Light Years
Author: karebear
Rating: K+
Characters: River Song and her Doctor (10/11)
Standard Disclaimer: I don't own these characters or the world they inhabit. The TARDIS opens all the doors to a huge sandbox. I'm just along for the ride.
Standard Warning: "Spoilers!" All over the freaking place, from "Silence in the Library" all the way through to "A Good Man Goes To War"
Summary: They may live back-to-front, but a river always flows in only one direction.
Notes: Thanks to R.E.M. for the inspiration. A favorite song, rediscovered.

Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way
- R.E.M, "Find The River"

"So then, shall we do diaries?" she asks cheerfully, because she hasn't realized yet just where they are.

She knows it's early, that's all too obvious, but how early?

The uncertainty in his eyes, the hard angry edge to his voice, is what finally tells her.

The Doctor hates being uncertain, as much as he insists he loves surprises, but he shouldn't ever be like this with her. He should be reaching for her, laughing, but he just watches her, guarded and defensive and completely without trust.

The earliest, then. The very beginning.

It breaks her heart, to know he doesn't know her.

This is her Doctor, but it isn't. He's too different.

Too young, too uncomplicated. Too hung up on someone that's not her, and not Amy either. Other companions, other women, just names to her, people she does not and will never know.

It's hard, some would say impossible, to know more than the Doctor, who has seen thousands of years of time and space.

But she's learned by living that it's not only Time Lords who can do that.

Oh, how many of them have cheated death, time and time again? Turning into something just slightly more than human ("human plus"), just by their proximity. Because they live with, and for, the Doctor.

Rory the Centaurion.

Amy. Amelia. The girl who waited, who has always, in one way or another, lived a life not of the present but of infinite possible futures.

And River. River Song, Melody Pond. The only water in the forest.

She's well known now, across the universe. People call her many things. But she's willing to bet that if someone were to take a poll, not a single person asked would use the term "self-sacrificing" to describe her.

No. Hell no. River doesn't sacrifice anything. Not herself, not her freedom or her laughter or her ability to run, because she learned that from him.

They were made for each other, more than anyone else that's ever traveled with him. He has loved others, and admitted it, and God knows she's had her flings too. But only Time Lords know his name, and whatever she is, it's close enough to count.

Time can be rewritten. Can be and has been. The two of them, they write their own time.

They've been caged in inescapable prisons, together and apart, so often that she is starting to lose count. He's destroyed the universe and rebuilt it from the shattered pieces, more than once.

But their times cannot be rewritten. She will not allow it.

She refuses to lose or change even one moment of her time with him.

Easter Island. Jim the Fish. The Byzantium, the Pandorica, Demon's Run.

And the Singing Towers.

First kisses, last moments.

They live in disordered fragments, and the hastily scribbled notes in a blue book shaped like a blue box are the only proof that those things ever really happened at all.

But what a life it is!

No questions, no hesitations, no regrets.

No responsibilities or plans.

The Doctor she knows is old, and if he let himself pause he might collapse under the weight of all the things he has seen and done.

So she doesn't let him pause.

She grabs his hand and pushes him forward into the unknown.

She calls and he comes and she will never ever allow him to look backward or wreck it all by trying to save her.

Because he'd want to be self-sacrificing, but he can't be.

"I can't think when I'm with you," he always moans.

"Good," is always her response.

Because she has always known, even more than he did, that her ending will be his beginning.

She dies to give him life.