Written for a prompt on LiveJournal for the Doctor/River Song ficathon: http:/ .com/66280 .html#comments. Just remove the spaces if you copy/paste. As usual, if I owned it, do you really think I'd be sitting here writing fanfiction?
When thinking about the Doctor several things usually cross people's minds.
For Rose it was his smile and his cheeky comebacks, his love for adventure and the love for her that he never voiced. Now it's her family with his double in the parallel world- her daughter and her mum and dad.
For Martha it was how he never quite seemed to notice her. She was there, but she was like a shadow on a sunny day, always noticed but never quite appreciated enough. Now she thinks of Mickey and her freelancing.
For Donna it was his amazing humor and how she was never going to leave. He was her best friend, and she was helping him heal. Now she doesn't think of him at all.
For Amy it was her raggedy Doctor, the man who had come to help her in her childhood and that she loved very briefly. That she still loves, as her very best friend and almost family. Now she wonders about him, though, and about how her family is going to come through this.
For River Song it was none of these. As she sat on her small bunk in Stormcage, twiddling the ring on her left hand, she wondered about how complicated her life actually was.
The Doctor loved her, she could feel it. But sometimes she wondered if it was really true, accidental, real love and not… not love that he'd convinced himself of in order to avoid a paradox. Sometimes she wondered if she'd done that herself.
Then there were those days when everything seemed perfect, when they were almost in the middle, those days that the universe allowed them to cheat and they both knew each other, and she never doubted herself one bit. It was almost like from the second the TARDIS crashed outside Amy's house, it had set her destiny in place. Who knows- maybe it was before then, but the Doctor refused to tell her. And here she was just waiting on him, an almost full Time Lady in the form of a seven year old in an alley in New York. She knew that was the last time he would ever see her now, but she also knew she couldn't go back and tell him all the things she wanted to now. Despite being raised to despise him my Madame Kovarian and the Silence, it was like she was born to love him, and he to love her.
He needed someone, she could see, and oh so clearly! But the thing is, she wasn't going to be around forever. One day the time would come when the ring on her finger would be meaningless to him, and then the day he'd never kissed her before, and then wouldn't know her at all. Even though she could feel him being pulled away from her sometimes, she looked it over and remembered the better times- the times when their knowledge was almost equal. It was less painful for both of them then, those days when she couldn't see the pain in his eyes, but now the pain that had been in those beautiful green eyes was settling deep into her heart. It settled there, resting at the bottom, like arsenic building up and pumping through her blood, like a poison just waiting for the right time to strike out and kill her, but for now it did its work oh so tantalizingly slowly.
Sometimes, though, there are days like today. There are days when the Doctor forgets the rules for a bit and cheats. The days when he comes crashing into Stormcage and unlocks the cell door, and holds her close and kisses her fiercely. The days when she kisses him back without shame because she knows he's been where she has. Those days are the little bright spots- the ones she waits for- not so much for the adventure that comes with them, but for the man that comes for her. And sometimes she thinks that this is where she's supposed to be, that she was born to be his, that she was meant to do this and be a star in the sky for this wonderful, impossible man. There are days like today… but even those days must pass. Then her Doctor leaves her, and another man comes and takes his place, and she knows her star isn't shining quite so brightly as it used to in this stranger's sky.
So now River sits here, alone as the storms rage outside, waiting on her Doctor. She has a vortex manipulator, and security knows it. She could go anywhere, anywhen, anytime it strikes her fancy… but what they don't know is why she doesn't use it. And why when she does use it, she always comes back. The answer lies in the question: when you're going somewhere, you're going for some reason- finding something, someone, accomplishing something, reaching a goal… and if you don't find it, what do you do? You return home again. River never found her Doctor anymore- oh, he was there, he came when she called, but not the Doctor that her heart belonged to. Not the Doctor who knew her so well and who kissed her so freely and who it seemed she was born to be with. Not that Doctor.
And the diary's pages turn as she looks through their lost lives, and she wonders if knowing each other backwards is anything akin to not knowing each other at all. But no, it can't be. For people who don't know each other never get a chance to love and be loved, and never get the chance to hope that the day would return when they might love again. Times pass, things change, people change, lives change. But she never stops dreaming that one day the same man who she saw in that alley might come back for her one day. That man was the one she needed and wanted- the man she might never get the chance to see again- her best friend and her lover. If he ever did she would tell him everything she should have the moment she met him, and hold him close, and kiss him, and run her fingers through his shaggy hair.
One day, maybe.
If she was very, very lucky.