Time Heals All Wounds.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, River Song, the TARDIS or anything else in the word really. The BBC owns my soul.
Author's Note: This one is dedicated to my granddad who kept my nan's clothes folded on the sofa for years after she died as if she was just going to walk back in one day. That memory inspired me to write this. The companion mentioned in this is completely fictitious, just in case you were wondering. I mades her up. That is all I have to say. Enjoy…
"Doctor?" Lisa called lightly as she bounded up to the console where the Doctor stood tinkering with his back to her. He made a small noise to let her know he'd heard her but didn't turn around. "Doctor, can I ask you something?"
"You just did." He smiled as he turned around finally. "But you may ask me something else, if you'd like."
"I was just wondering…" She began nervously, fiddling with the hem of her top. She hadn't been travelling with him that long as this seemed like a big thing to ask but she had to know. "Is there, urm, someone else who lives here?"
"What makes you ask that?" He asked, a bit shaper than maybe he should have done, as he felt his hearts speed up. He was going to have to have another talk with her. He'd only recently covered the last-of-my-kind-everyone-else-and-my-entire-planet-died talk and he'd hoped he'd have a while before he had to tackle this one. This was the hardest part about having new friends. He loved their curiosity, their wonder, but when it was turned on him it was hard to deal with. They made him explain all the things about himself that hurt so much still.
"It's just there are things in the TARDIS that look like they belong to someone else, a woman, and they're not mine. I mean I don't mind if someone else lives here too but I just thought I should ask so I'm not surprised if suddenly someone walks in and puts on those shoes." She glanced across to where a pair of red high-heels sat by the TARDIS doors. They'd been there for as long as she'd been travelling with him and she'd always wondered what they meant, who they belonged to.
"Those things." He swallowed quickly. "They belong to my wife."
"Oh, right." She said in shock. Of all the things she'd expected him to say this was not one of them. "Sorry, I didn't realise you were married. Will she be-"
"I lost her." He cut her off, talking quickly as if it would make the admission easier. "A long, long time ago now."
"I'm so sorry." Lisa whispered, her eyes clouding over as she saw the pain on her wonderful Doctor's face. He was so brilliant, so clever but so vulnerable and her heart broke for him to see him in so much distress. "Was it in the time war?" She asked quietly. She didn't want to pry, but maybe he wanted to talk, she thought, maybe it would help him. Always so alone and self-reliant. Maybe he wanted someone to talk to.
"No. No." He shook his head sadly. "It was in a Library. A library of all places. What a stupid place for someone to die. For someone to die for me. It doesn't make any sense does it?"
"When did it happen?" She asked in the same quiet voice.
"That's a hard question. Because when I first lost her I'd only just met her but then she came back, she was good at coming back, my River. Our timelines never worked the way they should. Back to front and all that. But I know what you mean. One hundred and seventeen years ago was the last time I saw her, when I said goodbye." He paused and took a deep breath. "I can tell you in minutes if you like. Or seconds. I could work out how many seconds have passed, although by the time I've worked that out more seconds would have passed. Time marches on, as they say." He babbled. He had to keep talking to stop the tears falling.
"And you still…" She glanced around the room. The shoes. The pictures on the walls. Notes in books in the library. Perfume on the shelf in the bathroom. The mug that no one drank from. It was like she'd just stepped outside for a moment.
"I still keep it for her. Yes." He breathed, trying to stay calm. "I have to. Don't you see? Time marches on, time heals all wounds- that's what they say. Whoever they are. It's been so long. And I live for even longer. I don't want to forget her. Her lipstick is on my bed-side table because I worry if it's not the first thing I see that she won't be the first thing I think of. Her clothes still hang next to mine because if I take them away it's like taking her away, isn't it? Admitting she's really gone. Every day it's supposed to get easier but I don't want it to. If all I have left of her is a memory then how can I risk losing that too?" He gulped. He was close to crying and close to shouting and he didn't want to do either. "And what if she turns up? What if something goes wrong and a version of her somehow gets brought to me, to this me- now, and she doesn't see any of her things, nothing she recognises? She'd think I'd just forgotten her. She'd think I'd moved and she wouldn't know…" He gasped now, tears beginning to roll down his cheeks silently as he struggled to regain control of his breathing.
"Hush," Lisa soothed him. "It's okay."
"She wouldn't know that I love her still." He sobbed quietly as Lisa held out her arms and he fell into them, tears streaming down his face.
"She'll know." Lisa murmured supportively as she patted his back. "Of course she will. She'll see and she'll know how much you love her."
"I can't let her go." The Doctor whispered as his sobs subsided. "I have to remember. It's all I have left."
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Author's Note 2: There is now a sequel to this called 'She Knows' which can be found by clicking on my profile.