A/N: Been in the mood to write some Doctor/River since 'Let's Kill Hitler' aired. I am falling more and more in love with this pairing with every episode. (And tumblr isn't helping.)
ElevenRiver, angstyish fluff. Set sometime after 'A Good Man Goes to War' but before 'Let's Kill Hitler' for the Doctor, set sometime after 'Day of the Moon' and 'AGMGTW' for River. Oneshot.
River's heart races as the familiar sound echoes through Stormcage's hallways. She's on her feet and at the bars of her cell by the time the blue box fully materializes. She wasn't expecting him. She never really is, but sometimes he'll send her a message to let her know he's coming unless it's a special occasion.
The Doctor finally emerges, and immediately River knows something is wrong. He's missing his jacket, his sleeves are rolled up, and his hair is a mess. Most disconcerting is his face; he's breathing hard, and he's as close to tears as he ever gets.
"Help me," he pleas.
"Doctor, Doctor what's wrong, what's happened?" River's trying to gauge where he is in his time stream but can't come up with anything. She wonders if it's something she hasn't gotten to yet. The Doctor stumbles towards her and grasps her hands through the bars. This is one of his absentminded moments; he's not meeting her eyes and is muttering under his breath to himself. "Doctor," she says more firmly, "Where are we? What's just happened? I can't help you if I don't know where we're at. America? Have we done America yet?"
His eyes are wild as he looks up at her. "Demons Run."
River's eyes close and she lets out a long breath as everything slides into place. She grips his hands a little tighter and leans forward to rest her head against his through the bars. After a moment he pulls away, eyes searching hers, still wild and pleading.
"Help me, River, please. Just one little hint, just something. Just tell me where to start."
"Doctor, what are you-"
"Melody," he chokes out, his hands shaking in hers, "How do I find her? You, I mean, where do I find her? Where do I start?" River opens her mouth to reply but he interrupts her. "I know, River, I know, I know I'm breaking every rule by being here asking and I wouldn't if it was anyone else. If it were anything else I would never dream of it but, River, it's Amy." He breaks off and sniffs violently, fighting back tears. "I've looked everywhere. I've gone back to Florida, I've searched the orphanage, the warehouse and the Tardis has taken me all over the country, but I always seem to get there too late and no matter what I try I can never. Get. The timing. Right." He says, punctuating each word with a bang of his head against the bars.
"Doctor, Doctor, please, calm down," River wishes he'd open the bars and let her out so she could comfort him more. He was so difficult when he got like this.
He goes quiet for a few moments and when he looks up at her again his manner has become considerably less frantic. "I just don't know what to do. Please, River, just tell me something."
"Doctor, you know I-"
"I know, I know," he presses his forehead against the bars again, squeezing his eyes shut. "But it's Amy. River I wouldn't ask but it's Amy. It's Amy and Rory. It's Melody, little Melody. It's you." That last word comes out as a breath, and she can hear such desperation in it. He sighs and his shoulders sag. After a few silent moments he looks up at her, all 900 of his years evident on that young face. "I'm sorry," he says quietly. There's a small, brief smile. "Rough day." River returns his smile. He releases her hands and steps back, then pulls his screwdriver out of his pocket and unlocks her door. She slides it open and comes forward to take his hands again, forehead resting against his.
"Just tell me," he says, "Do I ever find her? You, I mean. I promised Amy, and I can't let her down. Not on this."
River gives him an apologetic smile and her lips start to form that classic word, but the Doctor stops her, shaking his head and pulling away.
"No, no, no! Don't say it, please," his turns around and walks back towards his Tardis, running his hands through his hair. He stops, head down and hands on hips, still facing away from her, and she can see his shoulders rise and sag as he sighs again. "So what do you think about 'The Destroyer'?"
River frowns. "What?"
"For my new name?" He turns to face her, still looking very sad and very tired and very old. "I can't be the Doctor anymore, I've wrecked far too many lives." He shrugged. "That's what I do nowadays, it seems. I meet people and I wreck their whole life. And with Amy I've just set a new record. I've ruined everything. Her, Rory, you. I'm in to second generation life-ruining now."
River takes a deep breath and approaches him carefully. He's in one of those dangerous dark moods and she knows to tread lightly. But she also knows how to bring him back to the light.
"Hey," she says softly, hands taking his face and bringing it towards hers. She meets those ancient eyes with an understanding look in hers and smiles. "It's going to be alright. One day, I promise, this will all work out." She pulls him forward and kisses him, and he responds with much less flailing this time around.
He's smiling when they break apart. He hums pensively, eyes drinking her in. "It suits you."
His smile grows. "Melody." He's looking at her in that same proud, amazed way as when he found out who she really was. "Melody Pond. Like a name from a fairy tale. Mad and impossible, just like your mother. What am I ever going to do with you?"
River gives him a mischievous grin and pulls him close again. "Spoilers…"
After a moment they're interrupted by the faint sound of a phone ringing. They look back at the Tardis and the Doctor sighs. "That'll be Amy again." He looks back at her. "I should go." He grins. "But it's always nice to see you, Dr. Song. See you soon, I hope."
"I'll hold you to that," River tells him, trying not to let him see how much it breaks her heart to say goodbye again. They don't get nearly enough time together.
"One last thing," he says, pausing on his jaunt back to the Tardis, "When does it change? Your name, I mean. When does it go from Melody to River?" River smiles that smile and the Doctor shakes his head. "Oh, I know, I know. Spoilers. Au Revoir." He gives her a small salute and turns back to his time machine.
"Oh Doctor." He stops and looks around at her. "You know, for such a small, dull town, Leadworth puts out a rather interesting newspaper. Might want to give it a read sometime."
The Doctor gives her a look filled with relief and gratefulness and affection, and it's the closest thing to love she's seen on his face in too long a while. "Thank you, River."
"You're welcome, Sweetie."
She knows she shouldn't have said it, but as messed up as their timeline already is, one little spoiler can't hurt.
A/N: Cranked this out in about an hour or so, in between constant interruptions of tumbling. I'm too ADD to get anything done in one go. Lemme know what you think. And by the way, I'm sunflower-b-pondicus on tumblr if you want to follow me, but I don't do much. I mostly just reblog a lot of DW and Harry Potter, and occasionally I make a graphic or gif.