A/N: Hello, fellow Whovians! This is my first fic, so I'm not too confident... comments and criticism are welcome, of course, but please do be kind. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Only in my dreams.
The Doctor swiftly surveyed his surroundings. He had just stepped through the crack in little Amelia Pond's bedroom in an attempt to skip the rest of his rewinding timestream, but apparently the Universe had other ideas. This definitely was not the Void, though by the way his hearts sank, it might as well have been. He was in the room that housed the data core of the Library, and standing no more than a couple meters away was Professor River Song, handcuffing his unconscious younger self to the giant computer's wire supports. He snuck a glance at the auto destruct countdown: six minutes to go. Six short minutes until—
His hearts seized in his chest and he hurriedly shifted his gaze. On the opposite wall was a crack, the now-familiar cool light bleeding through. He wondered how he hadn't noticed it before…
He heard a sharp intake of breath followed by a muffled sob. His eyes locked with hers immediately, and his breath hitched at the sight of her yet unshed tears.
"Doctor?" Her low, hushed voice wavered and her eyes widened in disbelief. "How… how is this—"
"I've just flown the Pandorica into the explosion." He closed his eyes briefly to hold back the tears that had threatened to fall since he tucked a little Amelia into her bed. River nodded solemnly in recognition. "And now my life is flashing before my eyes." He chuckled mirthlessly, running a hand through his hair. "I am unraveling, River; jumping backwards from moment to moment until I reach the beginning. End. Both, now. This is one moment I had really hoped to avoid."
She frowned sadly, acceptance of her own fate prevalent in the lines of her face. She wanted to reassure him; to draw the dark, hopeless look from his eyes. "You'll be alright, you know," she said, taking a step toward him. "Amy Pond—"
"Spoilers, River," he interrupted her, trying in vain to lift the feeling of dread that hung in the air.
"To hell with spoilers!" she shouted, ignoring the attempt at levity as tears streaked down her cheeks, her curls bouncing as she shook her head vehemently. "No more, Doctor. Not now. Amy Pond will remember your oh-so-clever story of the brand-new, ancient, blue box at her wedding reception. One spark is all she needs."
"And who's going to give her that, River?" he asked, his voice low and heavy, not recognising that she had used his own words. "Rory? He'll have forgotten even more thoroughly than Amy. And you won't remember—" he cut himself off as a small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "You remembered? How did you—that's not even—what?"
"You become so articulate when you're surprised," she said, her smile growing at his incredulous and slightly offended expression. She crossed the room till she stood directly in front of him, and she tentatively reached out a hand to caress his cheek. "Sometimes… impossible things just happen. I remembered you. I brought Amy my diary. And every so often, judging a book by its cover is exactly what you need to know what's inside."
He gaped at her for a moment, opening and closing his mouth trying to find what to say. His previous thought crashed into his brain before he could praise her brilliance, however, and he blurted it out again in confusion. "River, you shouldn't have—how did you remember me?"
Her smile dimmed slightly and she sighed. "That's a story for another day. And before you get frustrated, let me say this," he closed his mouth reluctantly and she straightened his bowtie out of habit. "I shouldn't have been there at all. At the wedding. Anywhere, really. I should have faded from reality just as you did. Without you…" she paused, placing her hands over his hearts, reveling in their soothing rhythm that secretly matched that of her own. "I wouldn't be who I am. What I am. My very existence is linked inseparably with yours."
He placed a hand on her hip while the other brushed her cheek gently, lovingly. She leaned into his embrace, her hands moving from his chest to the nape of his neck. Tears finally spilled from his eyes as his grief washed over him.
"I am so sorry, River Song."
"Don't apologise to me, my love. I…" she swallowed the lump in her throat. "I had a feeling it would end this way. But that's okay." She shook her head in protest when he tried to interrupt. "I'm just happy you're here with me at the end. Happy I get to see my Doctor, one last time…"
At that he drew her into a crushing hug, pulling her closer than he thought possible. She wrapped her arms around his neck and lifted her face toward his. He hesitated for only a second to gaze into her eyes. They shone with new tears, but none fell, and as he pressed his lips to hers for the first time, he suddenly realised why his hearts leapt whenever he saw her; why his thoughts so often turned to her in the darkest hours of night when he sat alone in the TARDIS, waiting for Amy to wake for another day of adventure. He realised, in his own subtle way, why he lives for the days when he sees her.
The four-minute warning jarred them from their kiss. They pulled back regretfully, and with a short, determined glance into his eyes, she removed her arms and walked to the chair in which she would die.
"Don't tell me I don't have to do this," she said resolutely as she sat. "You know full well what's at stake here. This is my choice. And I would make it a billion times over if that meant you were safe."
He sighed. "You are far too much like me for your own good, River Song."
She laughed; a beautiful, hearty laugh, laced with hidden knowledge, joy, and devotion. The kind that warmed his very bones. "I'll take that as a compliment, Sweetie."
He smiled then, walking toward her as she adjusted and connected wires, working only slightly slower than she would have had she been using her sonic. "I don't know what I'll do without you," he whispered gravely, his smile diminishing.
"You have so much time before that." She hesitated briefly, trying to maintain her smile. She continued to fiddle with wires, in order to distract herself from the ache that was building in her chest. "There were days, Doctor, when nothing happened. Days spent sitting in prison, sitting in University libraries, sitting in flats that I could barely call home. When you've met me for the last time," she stopped moving and looked down at her diary on the floor before shifting her bittersweet gaze up to meet his stare, "come back for the diary. Change nothing. But those empty days… save them. Save them for when the pain is too great and find me. I forbid you from changing anything, Doctor, but there is no rule against adding to what is already there."
He nodded, the weight in his hearts lessening somewhat. He still had so much time with this incredible, brilliant woman and, from now on, he knew he would make the most of every single second. He stayed her busy fingers, kissing her one last time, as the three-minute warning rang out around them. She responded fiercely, tightly gripping his hands and taking in the feel and scent of him, storing it in her mind so that his comforting essence would be the thought that held her together in her final moments.
"Look at us," he said, pulling back slightly and resting his forehead against hers with a tiny grin. "Saving the world together again."
"Get used to it, Sweetie. That's how it will be for a long time yet."
His grin grew into a beaming smile. "Good." He stepped away from her as she began checking the wires once more. She smiled at him and nodded. "I should get going," he said hesitantly, glancing at the countdown. "It's nearly time for me to wake up."
"Go on, then," she replied, sorrow and amusement warring for supremacy in her voice. "You have a party to crash."
He grinned and turned away, walking toward the slowly closing crack in the cold metal wall.
"And don't forget to change," she called after him, amusement winning out in the end. "You can't be underdressed for your best friend's wedding."
He glanced back again before entering the crack, his eyes ablaze in mischievous delight. "I know just the thing."
She smiled, her watery eyes lighting up at the memory. A single tear rolled down her cheek, but her smile never trembled. "I love you, Doctor."
He grinned and nodded, turning and stepping through the widened crack with an ever-growing smile, his hearts lighter than they had been in a long while. River Song would be saved, and he would start his life anew, thanks to a diary, a story, and a miracle.
As the crack closed behind the Doctor, his Tenth self finally stirred, and River swelled when she heard his last, warmly spoken words echoing within her mind.
"I love you, too."