AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hello! So, here we are at last (to quote the Doctor in TWORS :D). The final chapter of Meet Me Halfway! There is a final extra author's note at the bottom to read after, by the way. So yeah, I'd appreciate it so much if you R&R'd and I really, really hope you enjoy this!
DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately I do not own any of the characters mentioned in this fanfic and I do not own Doctor Who. Doctor Who belongs to the BBC and this is purely for fun and non-profitable purposes!
CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE: Everything and more
The Doctor sat beside his lifeless wife, his head in his hands, tears clouding his vision and staining his pale cheeks as he tried to stifle sobs. The dreadful, eerie silence that filled the room was just adding to the terrible situation, and the worry pooling in the pit of his stomach was unbearable as he watched Martha listen intently to the rhythms of River's hearts with her stethoscope, whilst Gwen observed in silence from the other side of the room. Even his son was still as he lay wrapped up in a blanket in a plastic cot next to Gwen. The Doctor thought that it was almost as if he could sense something was wrong. Of course he could. The depressing and solemn atmosphere of the room was just screaming that something wasn't right.
"Is she...?" The words strangled in his throat and he nearly choked on them, but he spat them out reluctantly. "Is she dead?"
There was silence.
Martha finished checking River over, and stood up straight, removing the stethoscope from around her neck and placing it carefully on the table beside the bed. She moved slowly, taking one last look at River before her eyes moved to the frantic man sitting in front of her. She looked solemnly at the Doctor, who was staring at her with wide eyes, his hazel orbs desperately seeking solace and any kind of consolation as even more small teardrops spilled down his cheeks. He didn't seem to care. He just wanted a verdict, and to know if River was alright. Martha said nothing for a few moments, just acknowledging the amount of love this great man had for his wife with a few mere looks, before the Doctor grew impatient and when he could no longer stand the agonising silence and sombre glances, he snapped.
"Martha!" He growled, but Martha wasn't convinced. She could hear the emotion caught in his throat and could tell by the way his voice wavered that he was close to having a break-down. "Please. Just tell me. Is she alright?"
"No" She sighed, and when the Doctor just stared at her in disbelief, looking as if he was on the verge of a breakdown, she hastily added, "She's not alright, Doctor. She's extremely drained and she pushed herself to her limits during the delivery. She's used up every last drop of energy she had, and her body has shut down to prevent any further damage. She's unconscious, but she is healing"
The Doctor felt a weight suddenly lifted from his shoulders, and he was suddenly glad that he was sitting down, or his legs may have buckled beneath him and he'd have collapsed with the relief.
"So... she's not dead?" He spoke nervously. "Sh... she didn't die in... in childbirth or anything? 'Cause that can happen, can't it?"
"Yes. It can. But it didn't happen to her" Martha spoke softly. "Don't worry; she'll be up and about again as soon as her body has built up its strength"
"Why did this happen?" He muttered, stroking back River's hair and placing a gently kiss to her forehead.
"Well, Doctor, she just went through a difficult birth with a breach baby, after twenty-seven hours in labour. And, although she's part timelady, she's still a woman, and childbirth, especially after a lengthily labour, is very emotionally and physically draining. She's just resting now. She'll be fine very soon, I assure you"
The Doctor smiled feebly, and continued to caress his sleeping wife's cheek and hair, his eyes never leaving her. Martha moved to check over the unnamed little boy whining in the corner, checking his weight and other things carefully before placing him back into the cot. She turned on her heels, now facing the Doctor, who, in the five minutes she had spent tending to the small infant, had not moved from his position next to his wife. He was whispering to her, "River, there's a little baby boy out here who's waiting to see his mummy, there's two beautiful young girls who need their mother, and a very desperate man who needs his wife. Please. Please, wake up. For us" She watched and sighed, before strolling over to him and placing her hand gently on his shoulder.
"Doctor, she's going to be alright, I promise you. But it's no good sitting there and mulling it over. She'll wake up in her own time" Martha sighed "Look, I think you should go and tell everyone waiting outside that River has given birth to a beautiful, healthy little boy and that when she wakes up, they can see her. Yeah?" He nodded weakly. "Go on. I know you don't want to leave her, but I'll keep an eye on River, and Gwen's watching your son, go and see them, and give them the good news"
He stood up slowly, pressing a soft kiss to River's crown before finally wrenching himself away from where she lay. He moved over to his son over the cot where he kissed the tips of his index finger and middle finger and then pressed then to his son's forehead, whispering, "Daddy will be right back" And with that, he padded slowly to the door and through the empty corridor to the centre of the Torchwood hub where his friends and family were waiting anxiously for any news.
As soon as he pushed open the glass double doors, Amy immediately sprung to her feet, gazing at him, her eyes full of hope and anticipation. Rory, Jack and Jenny stood up too, all of them just staring at him in anticipation, looks of complete wonder about their faces, as if they were about to hang off his every word. Rex and Lily, however, were fast asleep on the couch with a woollen blanket pulled over them.
"Doc!" Jack smiled, moving over to him and looking him up and down. "Well, don't you look a sight"
The Doctor smiled weakly. Yes, he supposed he did, in his disposable blue surgical gown with his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his face red and sweaty from helping River through the birth in the heated room, and his puffy, sore eyes and tears stained cheeks from when he had been crying.
"Well, I did just help my wife give birth, give me a break" He chuckled, patting Jack on the back.
"She's had the baby!" Amy squealed, taking an eager step forward.
"Yes, she has. River has given birth to a beautiful, healthy little baby boy" He grinned.
"Oh my god! We've got a grandson?" Amy breathed, taking it all in and taking a seat on one of the sofas to stop herself from collapsing. Rory quickly advanced to her side to calm her, but he was just about managing to absorb the information himself.
"When can we see her and baby?" She asked.
"Not just yet. River's completely exhausted and is sleeping right now. She's not up for visitors just yet, but I'll let you know when she's awake"
"Is mum ok?" Jenny piped up, moving towards her father.
"She's fine, darling" He smiled, pressing a kiss to her hair as she wrapped her slender arms tightly around his middle, before releasing her from the embrace. "We had a momentary scare, because she collapsed after the birth. But Martha says she's absolutely fine and is just resting and getting her energy back now"
"Oh my god..."
"It's alright, Jenny. She's fine, really. She's gonna be ok. She just needs to get her strength back" He smiled reassuringly. "Then you can see her"
"Of course, we understand. She needs to rest"
"I should probably get back to her, but I just wanted to tell you that she's had the baby" He grinned ecstatically and pivoted on his heels and paced his way back to the delivery room. "Tell Lily and Rex the good news when they wake up!" He shouted over his shoulder.
He returned shortly to the delivery room and, after saying a quick hello to his son, resumed his position beside River, planting a kiss to her cheek to let her know he was still there. He knew that she was going to be ok. But he couldn't help but worry about her. This wasn't at all how he'd pictured this moment throughout the nine months River was pregnant. He never envisaged that when the day finally arrived where River would give birth to their child, he would end up nursing his unconscious wife whilst his baby son lay neglected in the corner of the dark room. He rubbed his eyes and his temples before dropping his head into his hands. If anything, he was tired. Although he didn't need as much sleep as ordinary humans, he still needed rest, and he hadn't slept in over twenty-seven hours and it was finally beginning to take its toll on the timelord.
"Doctor" Martha whispered, approaching him cautiously. "Gwen and I are going to step outside and give you some time alone with your son"
"Ok, thanks" He said distractedly.
"Doctor, your son wants attention. And as his mummy can't give him that right now, I think his daddy should go and give him a big cuddle, don't you?" She raised her eyebrows at him as the corners of his mouth creased upwards into a smile. "Besides, it might take your mind of River for a little while. She's going to be fine, I promise you, Doctor"
"If you're sure"
"One hundred percent"
"Ok" She turned to leave. "Oh, and Martha..."
"Thank you. I really appreciate everything you've done for us. I know River does too"
"Don't mention it" She smiled. "It's a pleasure" And with that, she left the Doctor alone with his infant son and wife.
The Doctor moved silently over to where his little boy was mewling and wafting his arms around in the air, his tiny little hands clenched into fists. He had the smallest tuft of curly brown hair, and the Doctor could tell that he was going to have fabulous curly brown locks when he grew up, and he had definitely inherited River's captivating eyes. He extended his index finger and stroked his cheek, and then felt his two tiny hearts beating together tranquilly. Suddenly the child reached out his fisted hand towards his father and uncurled his hand to grab the Doctor's finger. He felt his hearts warming and did his best to fight back the tears that threatened him, so he quickly leant down to scoop the newborn into his arms to give him the cuddle he deserved. He tapped his nose softly and pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead, standing in the room and rocking his son gently.
"Hello handsome" He whispered, unable to wipe the grin off his face. "Oh, aren't you just beautiful. My son. Hello! I'm the Doctor, but you can call me daddy, until you grow up, and then you might just want to call me dad. You are going to be so great, I can tell. You and me, we'll gang up against the girls and back each other up! And grandpa Rory can join in too! Oh, and I'm going to teach you so many things, and let you wear cool fezzes and bowties, no matter what mummy says, and we can play with your sisters in the garden on the TARDIS. And we can play football!" The baby whimpered a little. "Oh, oh, yes, I know baby, I know you don't know what it is or how to play it. But daddy will teach you. It's an Earth game by the way. I'm quite good at it actually. I played it when I stayed with my mate Craig once. You'll love Craig, and his son Alfie. Oh yes, you're gonna meet so many amazing people, and do so many great things. And I'm gonna love you so much. And, don't tell mummy..." He began, as he pulled up a chair to sit beside where River lay, his son still safe in his arms. "...but I secretly wanted you to be a boy. I didn't want to be outnumbered by the girls now, did I? Don't get me wrong, if you'd have been a girl I would have loved just the same, but I really wanted a son. Oh, but everyone is going to love you! Especially Lily and Jenny, they wanted a little brother so much. And River is going to love you too. She's your mummy, and she'd do anything to protect you" Cries filled the air as the young boy began to wail. "Oh, oh, what's that little one? Aw, you want your mummy now do you? I'm sorry, baby, mummy's sleeping just now, but you can see her soon, I promise. And daddy's here don't worry. I'm not going anywhere, you're perfectly safe" This seemed to settle the child, and he relaxed in his father's arms, blinking up at him with wide eyes. "You don't have a name, do you little one? Oh dear, we can't have that, can we? But I do think mummy would be very cross if she woke up and found out that I'd given you a name all by myself. She doesn't seem to approve of my naming abilities. So we're just going to have to wait it out, I'm afraid"
And wait, they did. The Doctor got up and paced around the room, bouncing his baby boy in his arms if he started to cry, or singing and talking to him to pass the time and soothe him as they waited for River to wake up. And in the forty minutes that they waited, not for one second did he put that little child back in his cot and abandon him, and he was so sorry that that was what he had done immediately after the birth. The Doctor was sat by River's bedside when her eyes finally fluttered open. She looked up at the ceiling in a dazed state, her head lolling to the side to face the Doctor. Her vision was impaired, but she could just make out the blur of her husband sat by her side, cradling their newborn in his arms. As her sight returned to normal, the corners of her mouth creeped into a weak smile at the view of them there, and she reached out her arm to stroke a hand through the Doctor's mop of brunette hair. He leaned into her touch, closing his eyes as the relief flooded over him.
"Hello sweetie" She whispered, her voice scarcely audible, as she was still weak from her laborious ordeal.
"Oh, god, River" He mumbled, tears beginning to roll down his face. "I thought... I really thought... I thought I'd lost you. I couldn't bare it. Oh, River, I was so worried... I thought you'd... I... I don't want you to know what I thought. I'm just so, so glad you're alright"
"Oh Doctor, sweetie, I'm so sorry I scared you" She whispered, caressing his cheek softly. "But I'm fine, I promise you. I'm not going anywhere. You couldn't lose me that easily, even if you tried" He chuckled and leant over carefully to kiss her forehead.
"How are you feeling?"
"Sore, weak, tired, but all the better for seeing your handsome face" She spoke softly, relaxing into the pillow for a few moments before trying to sit up, wincing a little, before moving into a more comfortable position.
She finally laid eyes on the little bundle wrapped up safely in her husband's arms, taking in the sight of her little boy properly before her breath hitched and she began to weep a little.
"Oh god, oh sweetie, is this our son?"
"It certainly is" He grinned, reaching out his hand to stroke her tears away.
"Is he alright?"
"He's... oh, River, he's wonderful. A healthy and happy little bundle of joy" He responded, smiling ecstatically.
"Can, can I hold him?" She whispered.
"Of course you can! He's your son, River; do you really think you need to ask?" He grinned, standing up and carefully placing the baby into her open arms. "He's been pining for a cuddle from his mummy, haven't you little man?"
"Hello, baby" She whispered to the tiny child in her arms. "Oh, I've been waiting so long to see you. You're perfect. Oh, sweetie, he's just perfect, isn't he? Oh, Doctor, we did it"
"No, River. You did it. It was all you" He murmured into her hair after scrambling onto the bed to sit beside her. He put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed her gently into his side and pressing a kiss to her temple. She moved her head and he kissed her tenderly on her soft lips, pouring all his love, relief, happiness and everything else into that one kiss. "I am so proud of you"
"Does he have a name yet?"
"Not yet, no" He sighed, looking down at his gurgling, mewling son, content in his mother's arms. "I didn't want to name him without your consent. I figured you probably wouldn't appreciate it if you woke up to find that I'd named our baby Alonso or Stormageddon or Badger or something equally as awesome, but something you would disapprove of. So, I didn't. Probably for the best too, or you might just have conjured up the strength to hit me" He smiled idiotically at her and she narrowed her eyes.
"Yes, I thought you'd be pleased" He chuckled. "However, this little man does need a name, River"
"Of course" She mumbled, glancing down at their baby. "Any, sensible, ideas?"
"Um..." He paused to think. "None that you would regard as sensible, dear" She scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Look, River, you just name him. You did all the hard work, and you should get to name him"
"Are you sure, my love? I got to name Lily when she was born, you should get to name at least one of our children!"
"No, River, honestly, it's fine. I will be happy with whatever you choose, love" He smiled kindly, kissing her cheek. "What do you have in mind?"
"Well" She begins, taking a deep break. "I have a few ideas, Alex, like I suggested before, James or Matthew". But looking at him now, he definitely isn't an Alex"
"Ok..." He smiled. "Well, I love Matthew and James, so you just choose which ever one you prefer, and that'll be that"
"Ok" She pauses for a moment, thinking carefully before saying quietly, "Doctor, this is Matthew"
"Beautiful, it suits him" He replied, pressing a kiss to Matthew's head.
"Doctor, sweetie, what about if his middle name was James?" She asked timidly. "It's just, I love both names, and I can't really choose"
"Of course. That's a lovely idea, River" He grinned kissing her softly before turning his attention back to his son, whispering to him, "Hello Matthew James"
"Oh, River, you're awake!" Martha grinned, as she slipped into the room, interrupting them. "How're you doing?"
"Much better thanks, a little sore in places and still feeling very drained, but I'm ok" She smiled, looking up from the tiny, perfect little face of her child.
"Good, I'm glad. Now, River, there are some very anxious people waiting to see you and the little one, should I let them in?" She raised her eyebrows inquisitively.
"Sure" She replied, handing the small boy to her husband, before shifting on the bed a little to try and get a more comfortable position. But when Matthew suddenly began to howl and cry, she paused immediately and took him back into her arms, rocking him gently, trying desperately to calm him. "Shh, shh, it's ok Matthew, mummy's here. What is it, sweetie? What do you need?" She spoke softly over the wailing, still bouncing him and rocking him as she turned to the Doctor and shot him a look of confusion. "Sweetie, what does he want?"
"Ooh, I think he's hungry" He smiled, kissing his son's forehead.
"Are you hungry, my love?" She asked, looking down at her baby who was now a little calmer and seemed to smile at his mother's words. "I think that's a yes"
"No wonder" Martha smiled, craning her neck to take a good look at him. "River, would you like to try breastfeeding before the others come in?"
"Yes, I think that would probably be wise. I don't think I'd be that comfortable with Jack and Rex lurking and... looking at your... um... chest area" The Doctor quickly interjected.
"Sweetie, I don't mind. It's just breastfeeding, its food and its natural" She replied.
"Yeah, I know, and I don't have a problem with that. It's just..."
"Sweetheart, you don't need to explain. Its ok, I understand. And if it makes you happy, then I'll just do it now before anyone else comes in"
"Thank you" He mumbled, lips brushing against her hair before placing a tender kiss to her curls.
"Now, you know how this works, River? You breastfed Lily when she was a baby, didn't you?" Martha asked.
"Ok, so you know what to do, great. If you need any help just ask" She smiled kindly.
"Thank you" She replied, before turning her attention to the whining child in her arms. "Are you hungry, sweetie? Yeah? Oh, it's coming, it's coming baby"
Matthew mewled and moaned, and after several failed attempts, he latched on and began to suckle contently. River held him close as he fed, smiling happily down at him, as the Doctor watched in silence. He knew how breastfeeding worked, and he'd seen her feed Lily as a baby plenty of times, yet he still found it remarkable how it all worked.
"Oh, he's really hungry" She smiled to her husband, before looking back down at Matthew and saying, "Good boy, all better now darling?" He gurgled happily and she chuckled lightly.
"All done? Shall I let the cavalry in now?" Martha laughed.
Martha disappeared for a few minutes, but when she returned, she was followed by the rest of the Torchwood team, the Ponds and Lily and Jenny. They all had huge grins plastered across their faces, and they shuffled into the room quietly, gathering around the bed where River lay with the Doctor beside her, with his arms still around her shoulders, and Matthew nestled on her chest, her hands on his tiny little body as he nuzzled his face into the crook of her neck, snuggling close to her. There was gasping, weeping, mainly from Amy, but the Doctor thought he could see tears glistening in Rory's eyes, and aw-ing from their audience as they laid eyes on the tiny child for the first time. Lily scrambled carefully onto the other side of the bed next to her parents, and looked happily down into the face of her little brother.
"Everyone, this is Matthew James Song" The Doctor announced proudly. "Jenny, Lily, this is your little brother"
"Matthew, say hi to everybody" River spoke softly to him. "That's your grandma and grandpa, and these are your big sisters, and that's Uncle Jack, Uncle Rex, Aunt Martha and Aunt Gwen" She smiled, tilting the baby in her arms so they could all get a better look at him.
"Oh, River, he's beautiful" Amy gasped.
"Well done, darling" Rory grinned, peering at his grandson before smiling to his daughter.
"Mummy..." Lily muttered from beside her. River turned her attention to her immediately.
"Can I hold him?" She whispered timidly.
"Of course you can!" She grinned widely, moving so Matthew lay half in Lily's arms and half in her own as she helped her daughter support his weight. "Be careful though, he's only little"
Lily looked down at her little brother, smiling to him and leaning down to place a kiss on his forehead. River felt like her hearts were going to melt at the adorable sight of these siblings bonding already. She stroked her daughter's hair and pressed a kiss to her crown, admiring the look of admiration and wonder on her face.
"Can I hold him too?" Amy asked gently, sniffing a little as she rubbed her eyes.
"Of course" River handed Matthew to her husband, who proceeded to hand him diligently over to Amy.
Amy rocked him gently in her arms, bouncing, kissing, cooing over, and talking to him, as Rory and Jenny crowded around her to look at the sweet little bundle. River smiled weakly and relaxed back into the pillows, her eyes drifting closed for a few seconds before they fluttered open again.
"Are you alright mum?" Jenny asked affectionately.
"I'm fine, love. Just tired"
"River, you know your father and I will be on hand to help you whenever, don't you?" Amy said, looking up from the baby in her arms. "Whenever you're too tired to look after everyone and everything on the TARDIS, you can always come and drop the baby off at ours for a little while, or you can all come and stay and have a break. We're here for you, for both of you. You know that, don't you?"
"Thank you mum" She whispered feebly.
"He's adorable, River, Doctor" Jack grinned, tapping Matthew's nose lightly. "Congratulations"
"Thanks, Jack" The Doctor replied, winking fondly at him.
They all quickly began to disperse into different conversations, discussing childcare, who Matthew looked most like, and making jokes. Laughter filled the room seconds after Jack made a joke, although the Doctor and River weren't sure what it was he'd said as they had been distracted. River had finally wrenched her eyes from her son after acknowledging that he was safe in Amy's arms, and she had snuggled into the Doctor's side, despite not really wanting to be touched, as she was still very sore. But she laced her fingers through his and kissed him softly, before relaxing into his body and closing her eyes. She felt Lily shift off the bed as she went to follow Amy and Jenny across the room to place Matthew back in the plastic cot because he had drifted off to sleep, but she didn't open her eyes to watch as her mother put him down, she didn't need to, as she knew he was safe with her family.
"Are you sure you're alright?" The Doctor whispered to her, as their friends and family squabbled and laughed softly amongst themselves, their tones of voice now hushed slightly due to the sleeping baby.
"Yeah, I have a beautiful, caring husband, a perfect baby son, two beautiful daughters, loving parents and the most wonderful friends, all around me. Why wouldn't I be alright?" She grinned, whispering back to him, before snapping her eyes open and pulling him into another deep, loving kiss. "I have everything I could ever want and more"
A final review would mean so much to me if you have the time. I'd love it if you gave me an overview/opinion of what you thought of this chapter and the fic as a whole, but it's up to you :)
EXTRA AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ok. So that's it for Meet Me Halfway. Is it weird that I'm feeling really emotional after finishing this? I've become quite attached to this story actually, as it was the first ever fic I wrote. But I just want to say that I really, really, hoped you enjoyed reading this fic, and I hope it's one that you'll come back to read later on, I know I definitely enjoyed writing it! And you really have no idea how grateful I am for every single one of you who read this, reviewed it, added it to favourites, or put it on alert, it really does mean a lot to me, as I've said many times in the past! Haha :) I can also tell you that I will probably be writing a few one-shots here and there for these characters again, in future, but probably not all that soon as I have three other things I'm planning to write first! But yes, it is something I'm most likely going to do in future! :D I hope you will stick with me and read more of my fics in future, and once again, thank you all so much! xx