This fic's centered around the events of Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. Solely from River's point of view, and focusing on her feelings toward the Doctor. Because they need it. And because they're beautiful together. :')
I don't believe there are any spoilers, but it'd certainly help if you've seen Let's Kill Hitler. But either way, read on!
The Longest Day
River stares at her Doctor. She stares at her Doctor because she knows this is it; this is the last time she sees him. His eyes are cold and hardened against her, eying with her a suspicion that tears her heart in two. That suspicion is directed at her, and the frown on his mouth is unforgiving and angry. And she stares, her hand drifts up to touch his face before she realizes it, and she is powerless to stop herself.
He doesn't flinch away from her and this, perhaps, wounds her more than it would if he'd drawn back in surprise. That would at least be showing some recognition, some hint that he knew of her, knew at least a little bit of the extent of her love for him. But he doesn't. He simply stares at her, a furious storm raging behind the eyes of a regeneration that her Doctor had warned her never to visit. And here he was, sitting in front of her, coming when she called, as always and as expected.
"Look at you," she breathes, struggling to maintain a semblance of composure. Her Doctor had told her stories of this meeting, of how fierce, strong, and mysterious she'd seemed to him. Not to mention infuriating. So, infuriating she'd be. She would not cry, not burst into tears and demand that he recognize her and tell her everything will be alright. Demand that he stop toying with her heart so cruelly. "You're young," she continues in a whisper, and a hostile smirk comes over this Doctor's lips. She finally recognizes an expression on this man's face. It's all too familiar, but it's one that he reserves for enemies he particularly distrusts.
"I'm really not, you know," he drawls knowingly, as if he's said this a million times before to a million different strangers. And that was what she was right now. Another stranger. Just another blip on the gigantic screen of his life, and he had no idea how quickly his words were tearing her down, leaving a ghost in her place in a desperate attempt to protect her emotions from this, the Universe's final, cruel assault on her heart.
She says more things to him, though she forgets what she's said as soon as the words are spoken. She's too preoccupied with the whirling hurricane of emotion that races in her mind. Every word she speaks is received with stony resentment, until she falls silent and stops trying altogether. She'll just... soldier on somehow. She has to; there are other people in this library whose lives are at risk.
She smiles at this strange man, a sort of peace offering that he does not accept, fighting back tears that she shouldn't be shedding. She looks down at her gloved hands and bulky form. Figures, she thinks bitterly, I meet him for the first time and I'm dressed for work in a hideous suit. Then, she blinks that thought away, almost laughing at its sheer stupidity. It's not like he would care how she looked, since she was just another burden to him right now. But she'd always wanted to look fabulous around him, as if it'd keep him closer to her for just one minute longer. Up until now, she hadn't been quite able to appreciate the fact that the Doctor would never care what she looked like, because he'd seen her like this from the very beginning.
She can see her crew, the people she's been traveling with, struggling to deal with her sudden mood shift. Doctor River Song was strong, Doctor River Song trusted no one but herself, Doctor River Song was never sad. And here she was, breaking all the standards she'd set for herself for a strange regeneration of a man who was not her time lord. A time lord, certainly, but never hers.
Before she can get a grasp on how quickly time is flashing by, pulling her last moments with the love of her three lives away from her forcibly, she finds her painful reverie interrupted by the Doctor's companion of the moment. She speaks to the woman amiably, ignoring the possessive way she asks about River's relationship to the Doctor. She's half-tempted to reply that it's nothing, that she doesn't know him at all, because it'd be technically true, but she can't. It'd be throwing a wrench into everything she'd managed to establish in these short hours, and the idea of it was like denying all the times she'd had with other regenerations, whether on missions of undercover aid to his third regeneration, subtly changing the path that the fifth regeneration took so as to keep a paradox from taking place, or simply loving the Doctor that she called hers. And denying that, denying what had been her life and her ultimate joy, as well as ultimate frustration, was something she could never do.
She realizes with a jolt that she's speaking with Donna Noble, a woman who had the ability to darken the Doctor's face whenever she was mentioned. Donna asks her where her place is in the Doctor's future, somewhat hopefully and somewhat desperately, and River can only search her eyes remorsefully. She knows what happens, of course, but that's not what she's searching for. She sees the look in the redhead's eyes. And she recognizes it. It's the fear of knowing that she'll never see the Doctor again. It's an emotion that's plagued River for awhile now, because the last few times she'd seen her Doctor, he'd barely known her, and trusted her even less. Once again, she found herself on the verge of tears, so she does the sensible thing. She turns away, disconnecting herself from this woman abruptly. And she stalks off.
On a whim, on an urge that she can't quite explain, she calls out, "Pretty Boy, you're with me!" and waits. She waits for a minute, then hears his unfamiliar gait and footsteps nearing her. So at least, she smiles to herself, he'd still come when she called. Right from the very beginning, he came when she called. She was happy for her past self. And then her thoughts turned to the present, and she broke again, spending most of her investigation with the Doctor avoiding his gaze, staring intently at books and shadows in the hopes that they'll take her away from this pain.
More time flashes by, more time she spends in a sort of daze, dealing with the sudden losses of each member of her crew on top of the growing dread she feels. She almost hopes that the Vashda Narada will consume her next, effectively sparing her from the final goodbye. But then, she shudders to think of all the spoilers her Data Ghost might give to the Doctor in an effort to achieve closure. Even death was not a viable escape. So she keeps moving, and time keeps flashing forward, much too quickly. The end is coming much too fast.
"Someday, I'm going to look into that man's eyes," River said, leaning her head against the lock and pulling herself together. She was the strong, intelligent one. She always was. "My Doctor..." she whispered, and she closed her eyes, holding back the emotion that welled to the surface. No one, especially Rory, her father whether he knew it or not, needed to see her like this. "...And he won't have the faintest idea who I am," she continued, her voice cracking painfully. "And I think it's going to kill me."
River Song falls against a bookcase, gasping for breath as she's attacked by the pain and sudden despair brought on by the memory. It leaps on her unbidden, forcing tears out of her eyes in a constant stream as she and Lux flee the room on the Doctor's orders. Lux pauses, only for a moment, staring down at her with something that might resemble concern if he weren't so pigheaded. He asks if she's all right, and she refuses to lie. She shakes her head silently, unable to speak as rasping breaths shudder out of her body in the first true display of emotion she's had in years. And Lux is alarmed, so when she tells him to go on, he eagerly complies.
It's just hit her. She'll never see him again, not ever. Not even the Doctor who didn't trust her, which was better than no Doctor at all. There will never again be a bow tie, a silly flip of the hair, a stolen kiss, or the words 'spoilers' whispered seductively in an otherwise silent moment. There will be no more adventures, no more worlds they save together. She sobs, crumpling into a heap and resenting the mess she's become. But the emotion won't stop pouring out of her as she sits, completely alone and deserted in a library that holds no one but herself, a man she doesn't want to think about, the man she can't stop thinking about, and a million creatures who'd like to consume her flesh and leave only her skeleton behind. Not the cheeriest of company to be keeping.
Her emotion keeps her from moving for the longest time, but in the end, it's her emotion that pulls her up, that dusts off her suit and keeps her going. She pays no attention to where her legs are taking her, so numb inside is she, but when she reaches her destination, she represses a sarcastic bark of laughter. He's surprised to see her there, but she's not. Even though she wasn't expecting it. She knows that she'll always run back to her Doctor in her time of need. Just the same way he'd always run to her in his. It was how they worked. What surprised her is that she'd ever resent this fact.
She was met with a furious glance and a harsh instruction to get out, and indeed, it slices straight through her heart, but she realizes what he's doing almost immediately. And she refuses to let him. Because if he does, he'll be insuring that River never meets him. And that is a thought more horrible than death and more intense than the heartbreak she feels every time this man looks her in the eyes.
River Song had known the end would hurt. And she'd been expecting the end, but now that it was here, she was filled with an agony she couldn't quite describe. Something that, despite years of hardening her heart and trying to understand that the Doctor wouldn't know what he was doing and would regret it always, she couldn't quite cope with. She had not been expected him to try and kill himself. And now, with a sudden revelation, she realizes why the Doctor had been crying at the Towers of Darillium. He'd known what had happened and what she was going to do now. So she does the reasonable thing, the thing that any sensible person with her background and adventures would do. She, River Song, punches the nine-hundred-and-something creator and destroyer of worlds in the face, knocking him out immediately. She knows she has very little time to work, so she quickly handcuffs him to a railing, using the handcuffs she'd received from him the first time they'd...
She shakes her head as she sits in the chair on the pedestal, all the wires connected to her suit as the countdown slowly ticks toward zero. She wonders if the universe is having mercy on her, allowing her to spend her last minutes simply watching the even rise and fall of the Doctor's chest. It's something that maybe she can deal with. She remembers everything, every moment she's spent with her impossible man, every blink, every look, every single moment. It all comes back to her in these last minutes, and tears stream down her face once more, accompanied by smiles as memories of the Byzantium, of Easter Island, of Jim the Fish, of the Towers of Darillium, flood her mind.
And then the universe changes once more, reminding her that her wonderful life has come with a cost. "Autodestruct in two minutes," the computer says, and the handcuffed Doctor awakens.
There's always a cost, she thinks, watching as he realizes what she's done. Always. And now she has to deal with goodbyes. A farewell to a man who doesn't know her. How difficult. How fitting that she should go out fighting, grappling with her emotions and the secrets that must be kept. Because that's all she'll ever be able to do with this man.
She teases him slightly about the handcuffs, but he only reacts violently. She tries to soothe him, but she knows that, even though he knows nothing of her, his least favorite thing is to watch people die needlessly. Only he doesn't know that she needs to do this. It's him or her in this situation, and for the first time in River's life, she chooses herself.
"There's nothing you can do," River says determinedly, forsaking her goodbye as the clock winds downward.
"You can let me do this!" the Doctor says insistently, and River holds back her laughter. Ever the martyr, even when it's only for one person. The thought should fill her with happiness, that he would sacrifice himself for her, even at these early stages, but it doesn't. Instead, dread and sadness fill the spot in her heart where that happiness should go, and she can't help but wish that her Doctor was here, to talk her through this and just keep her company.
"If you die here, it'll mean I never met you," River retorts, and her broken, shattered heart sinks further. That is something that she will never allow. In death, life, or whatever's in between. The Doctor as he is now might not understand that, but she knows he will. He'd known how it felt. At her beginning, when she'd sacrificed all her regenerations for him. He'd felt the anger of almost losing the one person he'd allowed into his life so openly and trustingly. He hadn't yet, but he would.
"Time can be rewritten!" The Doctor insists, tugging against his restraints desperately.
Suddenly, all the sadness River's felt for the past few years, the past few encounters, disappears. And in its place, sheer, unadulterated fury bubbles to the surface. "Not those times," she says in a low voice, shaking her head as another tear spills down her face. "Not one line. Don't you dare."
The Doctor seems taken aback by her words, by the intensity of her voice, and she's proud of that. Proud that at least something can get through to this man who's thickness was rivaled only by his arrogance, this man who did not trust her, despite her proving time and time again how much he needed to. "It's okay," she says, though she's not quite sure if she's talking to herself or to the Doctor. Goodness knows neither of them are convinced. "It's okay," she repeats breathlessly, tears brimming at her eyelids and threatening to spill over again. "It's not over for you! You'll see me again."
The Doctor's eyes are still stony as the clock ticks away her remaining seconds, and suddenly the words she needs to say are supplied for her, flowing out of her mouth at a frantic speed. "You've got all of that to come! You. And me."
It doesn't matter, she knows, what time they're in. It's always been love, whether she's trying to kill him or kiss him. "Time and space," she continues fiercely. "You watch us run."
The computer's countdown reaches ten, and the Doctor springs into life just as fiercely, his words angry and untamed. Perhaps, with more time, she'd have been able to appreciate this wilder Doctor, this moodier Doctor, though she wonders sadly how much time she'd actually need, how much time she could never ask for.
"Hush, now," she says, cutting him off and leaving him looking shocked. So right from the very start then, she'd been the only one to do that. He came when she called, she interrupted him when he was being ridiculous, and she loved him always. It wasn't unlike her beginning. Perhaps the two were one and the same, one of those fixed points that so frequently showed up. That was a nice idea, her love for the Doctor being a fixed point in time that could never be rewritten, and it left a smile on her face as she eyed her love for one last time. "Spoilers," she whispered, her face wet with tears she'd forgotten she'd cried.
And then she plugged in the cables. And then she said goodbye.
Thank you for reading! Any reviews you have or might think of having would be well-received by yours truly.