A/N: Sorry about the lack of updates, I've been busy finishing the school year, exams, assessments, results, drawing this http : / www . twitpic . com / 60td6v and making this http : / www . youtube . com / watch ?v=oF _ mMd0 cgrQ (Copy&Paste links)

This oneshot is a random idea I came up with after I went through my writer's block. Some of you may hate me but, I thought I'd write it anyway. Basically, I wondered what would happen if the Doctor was late to save River as he's always there when she calls so I twisted it around abit. Please don't hate me!

'Doctor, I need help! x'

He read the note on the psychic paper and knew who it was from straight away but, this was what worried him. She never asks for his help unless it's really bad!

He immediately sprang into action and began tracing the source of the message in a desperate attempt to find her. He traced the message to a distant planet in deep space that he had never been to before. This just added to his concern, why was she there and just how much trouble was she in?

He may not know much about her but he knows that she can take care of herself quite easily and is very skilled with a gun. Trouble is just as drawn to her as it is to him but her asking for his help without any teasing or messages in history proved that it was serious.

The TARDIS began to dematerialise and fly through the space-time vortex at a frantic pace. The panicking Time-Lord was tossed around in the console room as his blue box hit time turbulence. His eyes kept monitoring the scanner screen as he inched closer to the planet.

"Come on..." he mumbled impatiently.

He rocked on his heels as he waited for what seemed like hours for the TARDIS to arrive. He knew when he was there as he was catapulted off his feet and landed face first on the glass floor. The pain he felt pulsate through his body didn't stop him for more than a second, all that was on his mind was that she was safe. He then leapt up and proceeded to the doors with a sprint. Nearly ripping them off the hinges, he pulled them open with a mighty heave and threw himself out.

The planet was more inhabited than he first assumed for one that was so far away from any others. Large grey stone buildings towered tall in front of him, it looked almost as if it were a prison fortress but, there was something eerily creepy about it that told the Doctor that it wasn't just a prison. He looked around and there were several smaller stone buildings dotted around as far out as the horizon would stretch. How he was going to find her was his main concern...

He made a swift but cautious sprint towards the large fortress overshadowing him. It was unsettlingly quiet as he reached the front gate that stood some twenty feet above him. He reached into his tweed pocket and pulled out his sonic screwdriver to sonic open the gate. With a gentle push the gate creaked open and the Doctor stepped inside, craning his head in every direction- there was no one around.

"Now this is either a very good thing or a very bad thing..." he pondered as he took his first few precautious steps into the dingy corridors of the fortress. He kept his sonic screwdriver in hand, as it beeped to direct him to her. He crept around corners, up and down staircases and yet he managed to not run into a single other person.

'I always come to her whenever she calls, I can't be late. I promised her I would always be there no matter what trouble she was in...' he kept thinking over and over to himself.

Just as he was about to give up, he spotted a flicker of light at the bottom of a large flight of stairs. He carefully walked down the steps trying not to make a sound just in case trouble was below. But it was inexplicably silent, so where was everyone?

As he reached the bottom ahead was a long corridor illuminated by fire flickering on the walls in small dishes. Someone was there recently but evidently they weren't anymore, it was too quiet. He followed the trail of light down the long hallway and he passed many doors, all open and empty. Every room had been cleared out and it looked as if whoever was there had to leave in a hurry.

There was a door on his right that he was nearing which looked as if it were locked. He put his ear against it and heard a faint groaning from the other side. He soniced it open and poked his head round the corner. The room was dark and near enough as empty as the others. A muffled groan echoed in the corner which caught his attention.

He moved closer to the pitch black corner of the room, where he could faintly see the outline of a figure. As the light hit the corner he gasped with horror as he immediately recognised the figure. He was too late, just as he feared...

It was River Song chained to the wall and curled up in pain. She was gagged and most of her clothing had been ripped off, there was blood and bruises all over her and she looked as if she had been crying. The material that was left on her only just covered everything that needed to be; her skin was stained with red and marked with purple. Dried blood pooled between her legs on the floor in an unrealistically large amount. She tried to groan something through the material over her mouth but it was unrecognisable.

He ran over to her and skidded on his knees just in front of her weak body. He cupped her cheeks in his hands and removed the gag over her mouth. She could barely lift her head to look at him. This just completely shocked him, he had never seen River this weak and in so much pain. He was absolutely guilt-ridden; he hadn't ever been late when River called for him.

"River, what happened? Are you ok?" he panicked.

He stroked her cheek with one hand and used his sonic in the other to free her wrists of the shackles. She just collapsed into his arms with a heavy, painful groan. Her sticky crimson blood stained his hands as he enveloped her in a hug. She sobbed into his chest and clutched fistfuls of his shirt in her hands. This certainly was not the River he was familiar with.

"Let's get you inside the TARDIS, cleaned up and safe. Then how about we talk?" he asked her as he placed a tender kiss on her forehead.

She nodded timidly against his chest, holding him tightly. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around her to keep her warm and covered until they got back to the TARDIS, then he scooped her up in his arms and carried her out. She didn't say a word as they left the fortress; she merely buried herself as far into his chest as she could.

As they emerged from the gate and the natural light of the dark planet showed the full extent of River's injuries, although the light was minimal the Doctor could clearly see that someone wanted to make her suffer.

He clicked open the TARDIS doors and carried River inside setting her down on the sofa by the console. He knelt down in front of her, looking deeply into her eyes cupping her cheeks in his hands gently stroking her face. She had dark bruises on her wrists and all up her legs. Her body was cut in many places with red markings around them. This just increased the Doctor's guilt seeing the physical and mental damage done to this woman all because of how complicated their relationship is.

"I'm just going to do a med scan to see if you're ok..." he spoke softly.

She nodded in response and he kissed her forehead again. He then stepped up to the console and pulled the scanner screen around to him and began the full body med scan of her. He looked at the screen seeing all of the cuts and bruises scattered over River's body.

"There's nothing serious, so let's get you cleaned up" he suggested as he looked for confirmation from her. He had no other way of saying that as clearly all of her injuries and the overall experience was serious.

She slid herself off the chair taking his hand in hers; that was all the confirmation he needed. So he stood up and walked with her to the bathroom. Half way there River started sobbing again this had stopped the Doctor in his tracks. He spun around and pulled her into another hug.

"Hey... its ok River, you're safe now. I'll look after you, I promise." He whispered into her blood-soaked, dirt coated curls.

He opened the bathroom door as they reached it then walked in with River close by. He turned on the shower then turned to her. "Would you like me to stay?" she nodded. He slid his jacket off her shoulders then un-done his bowtie and removed his shirt. He took off the shreds of material that clung to her before walking with her into the shower cubicle.

She stood under the flowing water still sobbing. The Doctor massaged her shoulders gently to help her calm down before he cleansed her. He had enough respect to only focus on making her better and not the fact that most beautiful woman he's ever met was naked in front of him. The water running off her body was tinged with red as the dried blood mixed and peeled off her skin. The Doctor's eyes wondered across her body, all of the colours that her bronze skin had been stained by bruising made anger and guilt bubble in his stomach.

He grabbed a bath scrunchie and put some shower gel on it then started to gently rub it over River's body being careful to not hurt her any more than she already was. He rubbed in small circles all down her back until her skin returned to its natural colour as much as it could if the bruises were excluded. Her hair was less red and more golden as the blood and mud dripped out of it.

She sighed heavily, closed her eyes and leaned her back against the Doctor's chest. Her head was resting on his shoulder as he gently scrubbed at her front. He kissed her on her cheek and her forehead, gently caressing her with his other hand. His fingers ran through her hair which felt much smoother and softer now that it had been washed. He scrubbed gently on her stomach and up to her breasts making sure to get every inch of her clean. She had a particularly large bruise on her side which he carefully manoeuvred around as best he could. Every time he felt her muscles tense or her body shudder or saw her wince with pain he mentally kicked himself and murmured apologies into her neck.

Once her body was as clean as he could make it he turned off the tap and grabbed a towel for her. He gently draped it over her body and kissed her on the cheek lovingly. She still didn't seem ready to talk to him, he understood so he just simply helped her feel safer until she was ready to talk. He rested his hands on her shoulders and walked with her to her bedroom.

She slumped down on her bed, her face was expressionless. The Doctor found her white dressing gown, removed the towel and wrapped her up in it to keep her warm. Her curls started to dry out and regain their natural fluffiness. He sat on the bed next to her with his arms wrapped around her waist and his chin resting on her shoulder. He kissed her neck tenderly several times. She still felt tense and all he wanted to do was help her.

He clicked his fingers and the room changed so that they were in River's favourite room of the TARDIS, the library. The two of them were sitting on an arm chair facing the fireplace with the roaring fire. He knew she would feel more comfortable there than anywhere else.

"Feeling better?" he asked as he looked down at River who was curled up on his lap.

"Mm-hmm... Thank you..." she may have mumbled but at least she was prepared to talk now. She nuzzled into his neck wrapping her arms around him in a hug.

"River, is it alright if I ask what happened earlier? I mean, if you're ok to talk about it..." the Doctor looked down at her. "I haven't seen you in ages and I was really worried even before I found you."

She sighed shakily before speaking. "...I got into trouble with these guys and they were hunting me down for payback...They... they kidnapped me and tortured me there." Her voice cracked as she nearly broke down into tears again. "And... they did things to me..." she trailed off.

He wiped the tears from her eyes with his thumbs before they had a chance to fall far. "It's ok River... I'm here now; you're safe and far away from them." he kissed the top of her head.

"The Judoon came a few hours before you did and caught them but they didn't find me. I had been there for several days but they've been hunting me for months..." she frowned at the memory then looked up at him.

"River... how long ago did you send the message to me?" the Doctor asked dreading the answer.

"...It should've been sent a few days ago, just before they locked me up..." she mumbled again still not sounding like her normal self.

"A few days ago..." the Doctor murmured to himself, feeling even guiltier. "That means I was far too late..." He began to think what would have happened if he got the message on time, would she be in this much pain? "River, I'm so sorry I didn't arrive on time, it's my fault this happened to you..." he whispered into her fluffy curls.

She stroked his cheek with her hand for a moment. "Sweetie, you came when you could... that's all that matters, that you were there when I needed you." She nuzzled into him again.

"But I could've prevented this if I was there on time..." he entwined his fingers with hers lifting her hand so he could kiss the red mark on her wrist.

She shook her head slightly. "No you couldn't... It's just one of those things that had to happen... there's no need to feel guilty."

He sighed as she hugged him tightly. He kissed the top of her head tenderly as they simply just sat in a loving embrace in front of the warmth of the fire. He looked down at her beaten body wishing that he could just make it go away so she would be happy again. She tilted her head so she could look up at him and she forced the faintest of smiles. He leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss on her lips. Her arms laced around his neck as she slipped her tongue in his mouth for a moment. He was slightly surprised at how quickly she went from not doing anything to kissing him.

As they pulled away she smiled up at him sleepily. "Thank you for coming exactly when I needed you, which is good enough for me." She yawned and closed her eyes, resting her head on his chest. She had drifted off to sleep for what was probably the first time in days or even weeks.

"Sleep well River..." He whispered as he tried to get up off the chair without waking her.

He climbed out of the armchair and draped a blanket over River who was still curled up. He carefully sneaked out of the library and padded to the console room as quietly as he could. He rested his palms on the panel with a heavy sigh.

"It's not fair on her, she's sacrificed so much for me and I can't even show up on time when she calls me..." his head was hanging low as he groaned guiltily. "I need to make it up to her. That wonderful, amazing, impossible woman that... I love." The realisation hit him. He loved her, he loved River Song. Some day he'll show her just how much...

River curled up on the armchair sleeping happily. Her hand kept near her hearts and on her finger was a silver ring with a Gallifreyan sapphire and two Asgardian diamonds either side and inscribed on the inside of the band in the language of the time-lords, their language, were the words 'I will love you always'

And he will...