Author's Note: This fic was actually inspired by an icon of River standing beside her cradle. It made me realize what all River owed the Doctor, for loving her enough to let her go.

Second Chances

"You let me grow into myself. God I love you for that."

River held the Doctor's face in her hands, she closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to his. She felt his hands slip tentatively around her hips. She smiled to herself.

"You didn't think I'd abandoned you?"

She pulled back and looked at him. She shook her head. "I was angry at first. I didn't understand. You took me to the hospital, then just vanished. Even going back to set up that trust fund didn't seem like a promise, so much as a way to get rid of me."

"I never wanted to get rid of you," he said with quiet intensity, gently shaking her hips for emphasis.

She grinned, still leaning against him. "Not even when I pulled a gun on you?"

He grinned. "That was the fun part."

"You were so sure you'd outsmarted me," she grinned back.

"But you outsmarted me instead," he said with a satisfied look, as if he was somehow proud that she'd managed to kill him.

"I'm so sorry, my love..." she said.

"No, River..." he slid a hand into her hair, making her look at him. "You didn't understand, you couldn't know, not then, you'd been kidnapped, trained and conditioned, and had your memory messed with by the Silence."

"But I still had free will," she said bitterly.

"And you used it magnificently," he kissed her forehead. She closed her eyes and smiled, as unable to resist him as always. "Mind you," he muttered against her forehead. "You left it a bit late."

She snapped straight, her mouth agape and glared at him. He grinned and started laughing. She punched him in the shoulder. "Ow," he said, rocking back from her solid blow, but not letting her go. She was stronger than she looked.

She proved it by grabbing his lapels and hauling him back to her, "Oh, shut up."

She kissed him.

His toes curled, and energy swirled. He was getting quite used to it by now.

Thank God, he had the chance to get used to it.


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