Author's Note: Fair warning, this is a cruel River story. It was difficult to write but I couldn't just forget about it either. When something takes hold like that, I have to write it before I am able to get it out of my head and move on. I love River and the Doctor and even if Moffat does something evil to them, there will be an alternate universe in my mind where they live happily ever after. Now, please excuse me while I go bury myself in Doctor/River fluff.
Thank you for reading, and I apologize in advance.
River and the Doctor were curled up together on a sofa in the library. He was consumed by giddiness over the news River just shared with him.
"Do you think it'll be a boy or a girl?" the Doctor asked. "Or maybe both! Twins! One of each! That'd be brilliant! Look at me! How happy am I? I've never been this happy! Never will be again! Well, except maybe when it's born. He's born. She's born. Or they're born…" He giggled. "It's just so wonderful!" He scooted down to rest his head on her stomach and began whispering Gallifreyan rhymes to her belly.
"Doctor," River began as she watched him run his hand happily over her abdomen, "why do you trust me?"
"Hm?" He looked up, a bit startled. "I love you. You love me. Right?"
"Why do you love me?"
"Well…" he sat up, keeping a hand on her stomach as he considered the question a moment. "You're fun, brilliant, not to mention beautiful. The curls are wonderful, and your eyes. Love your eyes. The whole part Time Lord thing is rather attractive. The guns… eh… I could probably do without, but then, no one is perfect. You're very nearly so, though." A silly grin crossed his face as he tapped her on her nose.
"Are you sure that's why?"
"Isn't that enough?" He studied her eyes. The warmth and happiness he felt in his hearts was not showing in her. He started to suspect something was wrong, but he wasn't sure what.
"Don't you remember what I told you when you first met me?"
"Well, you… wait…" he paused and furrowed his brow. "How would you know anything from when I first met you?"
A shadow crossed River's face as her features became ever so slightly distorted. "This is the beginning for me… but for you?" She smiled darkly and shook her head.
He took his hands from her and looked at her, his eyes filled with uncertainty. "River… what are you saying?"
"I'm saying this is it. The end. Your end."
"But our baby…" His hand reached out and hovered over her abdomen.
"You were to be taken higher than ever and dropped into the abyss. What better way to do that than the broken promise of a new generation of Time Lords?" she asked with an expression painfully close to a smirk.
The Doctor yanked his hand back. "You mean you're not…?"
"It's just as well, really," she said nonchalantly, as if merely talking about a cookie lost to the floor. "You'd just let it die anyway."
The Doctor felt like someone punched him hard, right in the chest, knocking the wind from lungs. He tried to speak but didn't have any air even if he had the slightest clue what to say.
"Come now," River said with an almost impatient tone. "You've let a child of yours die for you before."
"How do you…" he started, but she cut him off.
"You've been watched. Studied like a rat. Think of all the people who died for you. Do you think all those lives lost went unnoticed? Better yet, do you really think you're worth all those lives? You can regenerate, yet you let others sacrifice for you. Others who don't stand a chance." She paused and stared directly into his eyes. "You even let me die for you."
The Doctor stammered, "I didn't let… I didn't want… how… how do you even know that?"
"Because you trust me." River said simply. "Because I'm supposed to. That's my whole purpose. To make you trust me at all costs. To make you love me. And then use that to destroy you. Love and war – the oldest combination. Sound familiar? It should. It's the same thing you've always done, really. You make people trust and love you to the point they would do anything for you, including give their lives. Meanwhile, you get to pretend your hands are clean."
"Why not just let me die when you had the chance?"
"They didn't want you dead. They never wanted you dead. No, that would be too easy for you. That wouldn't be enough for all you've done." River got up and walked away from the Doctor. "They want the rest of your long, lonely, immortal existence to be nothing but pain. They want you to be barely alive – a shell – wallowing in absolute unyielding agony. Even then, it will be only a small taste of the horrors you've inflicted upon countless others."
"But… I… I didn't mean…" began the Doctor.
"Oh, but you did." She said as she turned and walked back toward him. "It was exactly what you meant to do. Somewhere deep inside, you know that. And you despise yourself for it." River bent down and drew dangerously close to the Doctor, her forehead almost touching his. "Now. I want you to think. I don't mean just lightly brush over the memories like you usually do. I want you to open up your mind and really remember every single person who has changed because of you. Every single person who died for you. I want you to remember their names, their voices, their eyes. I want you to remember every single final breath drawn on your behalf that you have witnessed. I want you to remember every single person whose life was devastated because of you."
Something inside the Doctor began to split, tearing him right down the middle. He always tried his best to keep his mind compartmentalized. He couldn't cope otherwise – no one could. But River's words, her deeply powerful words, shattered all the compartments at once. As images flooded his head like raging rapids – family, friends, companions and those who barely knew him – he realized that River had the same power over him as he had over all of them. All this time she had been manipulating him, preparing him for this moment of undoing – from making him snap his fingers to open the TARDIS, to getting him to tell her his name. He could feel every thread that made up the fabric of his being start to unravel. Somewhere, someone was screaming and crying. It sounded vaguely familiar, but he couldn't see past all the ghosts in his mind to find the source.
The Doctor bolted upright and found himself sitting alone on the floor by the console in the main control room. He was shaking violently, his cheeks glossy with tears, his hearts pounding wildly as if they were trying to escape. His memories, however, settled and no longer threatened to drown him. "River?" he called hesitantly. No answer. Had it been just a dream? He didn't remember falling asleep. Besides, he didn't usually just fall over asleep like that. Her words from when he first met her suddenly echoed in his head – 'I lied. I'm always lying.'
He pulled himself up and stared at the console. He wanted to find River – ask if it had been real; ask how much she lied about; ask if she ever cared about him at all. His hand hovered over the controls, desperately wanting to enter the coordinates for Stormcage, but wanting just as much to run. His hand dropped and gripped the edge of the console as he whispered, "River… I know that wasn't you. I know. It can't be."
The Doctor felt a nagging doubt at his words but shoved it aside. He knew there was more to learn about River, but he surely hoped it was nothing like that. One thing he knew for certain – River would turn up again. He would just have to wait and see.