I own none of the characters in this story- written for fun, not for profit. Also, I reread this and found out I must have subliminally put in a Harry Potter reference, though I swear it wasn't on purpose. Does anybody else see it?


Nightmares.

That's all he's given me in return. Nightmares.

A huge clap of thunder woke me up a couple minutes ago. My face was wet then, but I can't afford to let anyone see that. You don't cry in Stormcage.

I haven't had the heart to write this down yet, so I might as well do it now. The storms around here never cease to amaze me… though, it is Stormcage. No, no distractions. I just keep seeing it over and over in my mind, and I try to stop it but I can't move. Or worse- I get there in time and he has no idea who I am. Just that scene over and over with those two awful endings.

The last time I saw him… he died. He truly, properly died right in front of me and I just let him die. I can't believe it. He has to come back. He has to. It can't be him, it can't be… real. It would cause a paradox if he didn't, right?

Oh, I don't know. All those years ago, when I first met him… I never really thought I'd

She looked up from her writing mid-sentence, distracted by a loud bad piping noise that I knew well. River stood, wiped the rest of the tears she'd cried in her sleep off her face, and waited for him to step out. He did, but not in his usual giddy, "let's go on a trip" way. He immediately sonicked the bars open, stopped the alarm (which he never bothers to do), and ran up to wrap his arms around her.

"I already know." He said. She knew exactly what that meant, and she buried her face in his shoulder and let the tears come. "Shhhhh. It's ok. Look at me- I'm here, I'm fine… I know why you didn't tell me who sent those letters. Tell me- what were those nightmares about?" He brushed his hand across her newly wetted face. "How old are you?" River asked.

"What?"

"How old?" He nodded in realization.

"Eleven hundred and four." She breathed a sigh of relief and hugged him tighter. He chuckled and returned the hug. She looked up at him, stroking his face, trying to take it in. He's alright.

"You died. You died, I saw you-"

"Can you see my now? Alive?" He asked.

"But Doctor-" He pressed a finger to her lips.

"No. You'll find out soon enough." I nodded. I didn't have any choice but to trust him, and besides, he's done it for me enough. The Doctor's fingers traced her jaw and found their way to the chain around her neck, pulling it out from under her shirt.

"So you still keep these with you after all this time?" He asked. He slipped his finger through the bigger band, looking at his hand thoughtfully.

"Always." River said, smiling sadly. He took his ring off slowly and let the long chain fall around her neck, pulling her face gently towards his. However, just then the thunder came again and they both jumped, embarrassed.

"Well, you can't sleep here with all this going on. My doors are always open- come on." He said, pushing open the TARDIS door. They walked inside to her room with the familiar ceiling that showed the stars above wherever they were. Despite the clouds around a place the stars would always show, and it was peaceful being back inside the TARDIS. River climbed on the bed and looked up at the stars, leaning against the mound of pillows that never seemed to shrink. She thought the Doctor was going to leave, but he came and sat beside her.

"What are you doing?" She asked.

"You'll never sleep if I leave you here by yourself." He said, putting his arm around her. "So… pick a star." She smiled. They used to do this all the time when she was a little girl. They would sit here and she would pick a star out, then he would tell her what he knew about it. She pointed out one and he started talking softly, though later on she wouldn't remember exactly what he said. The only sensations alive to her were the soft sound of his voice, the warmth of him next to her, the soft pressure on her forehead and her head on his shoulder in that place between awake and asleep.

Eventually, she did sleep, but she only woke with a gasp and a start- the same dream, over and over again. Somehow she knew it would never go away, and someday the nightmare would inevitably be real, and she cried as the Doctor held her close. His hearts broke for her a thousand times over, and he kissed her forehead, and her cheeks, and her mouth until the shaking stopped and she kissed him back.

He felt a familiar ache in his chest, the longing for something he knew he couldn't have, but then he remembered that the time streams were different than they had been, and this time he could. And she could, too.

She woke up who knows how much later with the taste of the Doctor's breath in her mouth and the sound of the engines groaning down the hall. Lying beside her, the Doctor caught on to her waking movements.

"Morning, love." He whispered into her hair. She smiled and stroked his face, simply glad to see him alive and well.

Later, as she left, he kissed her goodbye with all the love he had left in him, and she returned it with just as much and more. But as soon as he left, he started to cry, because he'd lied: he wasn't eleven hundred and four. He was eleven hundred and three.

And he was going off to die.