Author's note: Another huge thank you for all of the feedback! This is the last chapter and it's a bit cheesy but after all of the misery I thought they deserved it.
You Were in the Darkness Too, So I Stayed in the Darkness with You
Amy entered the futuristic room, best hospital in the entire universe and they still hadn't figured the art of the waiting room. It was bland and cold and made everybody who entered feel a whole lot worse. Perhaps there was no secret to making them better, people who waited were waiting for a loved one; waiting for news – waiting for them to live, waiting for them die, waiting for a resolution that may never come. No nice decor or homely features could fix that. You could fill the room with an endless supply of what each person wanted most but it wouldn't work, the only thing they'd want is their loved one back and safe.
The doctor glanced round as the door opened, for once Amy looked all of her year, she looked like a mother. Most of the time she was too young, too free, too childlike somehow. Even after all the adventures, all of the horrors she had witnessed she still maintained an innocence. Today her face was drawn, dark circles painted under her usually vibrant eyes. She was a worried mother.
"Any news?" The doctor asked immediately.
"They've stitched her up and considering everything... she's looking good. Just needs to rest."
The doctor sighed and his shoulders literally lifted, the weight had been removed. He still couldn't believe he'd actually got her here, alive. Only River could pull that off. Only River.
"Doctor, are you going to tell me what happened now?" Amy moved to sit next to him on the white, sterile chairs. "We woke up locked in the TARDIS and you finally appear with River almost... you thought she was dead and your face, looked liked you'd wrestled an entire rugby team. I've never seen you like that, Doctor, it's scary."
"I told you I got a message on the physic paper and went running like always, I thought you'd appreciate the rest."
"But what happened down there? What did this?"
He stared blankly ahead of him, the recent memories flashing across his eyes as if he were watching them on a film; the sight of her lying there surrounded by her own blood, her crying in the silence, begging the invisible force, the feel of the monster beneath him, the taste of blood in his mouth, the horror in his gut. A single tear slipped down his cheek. Amy tentatively reached out to touch his shoulder; he jumped up and away at the contact.
"Just a man! Just one man!" He raised his voice and instantly regretted it. "And me... I screwed up Amy, I left her." The guilt hung on every word pulling them down, giving them a weight that made each sound an effort to pronounce, to push from his clammy tongue.
"What are you talking about?"
So he revealed it, the truth, the repulsion, the blackness of his soul lay bare for his dearest friend to see. He looked away, unable to take the disappointment and god knows what else in her eyes, even though he knew he deserved it, he turned away. Add coward to abandoner, to liar and to trickster.
"She'll never want to see me again. I left her to die."
However there was none of those things in Amy's eyes or if there were there they were overridden by one dominant emotion: confusion. She opened her mouth to ask a barrage of questions but was interrupted before a single letter escaped the prison of her lips.
Amy chased Rory down the corridor after his exclamation that River had awoken. The doctor followed slowly behind, dawdling from left to right, dragging each step so much that anymore and he would not have been moving at all. He was walking a very long plank. Each step was another closer to the edge. Her rightful rejection would be the sharp metallic blade of the sword digging into his back, pushing in to the depths, consumed by the blue ocean. He'd drown in her dismissal. The hurt in her gaze that he knew awaited him would consume him whole, hands on his shoulders pushing him under the water. He had rewritten time in the end. Even though she lived and would die in the library his past would not be the same, she would never be happy to see him again, never call on him again.
The doctor entered the room cautiously as if bullets were about to flung his way, with River Song one can never be sure. She was standing in a long white hospital gown, another staple that had not advanced with the technology. Rory and Amy supported her at each elbow as she made torturously slow progress across to the bathroom. The blood had been cleaned along with the remnants of her make-up, she was scrubbed clean and looked washed out, pale and ghostly almost as if she would turn completely transparent if you looked at her from a different angle. She was beautiful though. The way she fought each step with steely determination, nothing would beat her, not a single movement would be too much.
He spoke before he could stop it:
"You're up, should you be up? Should she be walking?" He addressed River first and then Rory and Amy.
River shrugged off her parents' aid and began to hobble over to him, barefoot on linoleum floor, he met her half way. A lump rising in his throat, clinging to the slippery surface of his throat as it climbed its way to the top and suddenly he couldn't think a single thing to say because really what was there to be said? What possible utterance could make a difference?
"Riv..." He began shakily.
The air ringed as her hand collided with his cheek; you could hear its sting vibrate in the surrounding air molecules. His cheek turned red almost instantly as the skin burnt and tingled and his stomach jumped at the contact. It was the most brutal touch but the feel of her skin was physical proof she was here and that feeling caused internal summersaults. Amy and Rory gasped simultaneously.
"I deserved that." He whispered.
"Yes you did." Her jaw stuck out defiantly but its gentle wobble and the moisture gathering rapidly behind her eyes gave the archaeologist away.
He was just recovering from surprise of it when her next move utterly flabbergasted him. Pulling his head down to hers she kissed him, both gentle and rough, it was soft but still had all of the fire that River always possessed. This time his response was instant, drawing one hand around her back and the other buried knuckles deep in her mass of blonde curls. If a touch was proof of her existence this was full blown verification and his body instinctively clung to it, clung to her, his tongue in her mouth, foreheads and nose bumping almost painfully but he wanted as much of her against as much of him as possible. Tangible, solid and glorious.
Her parents a few feet away, completely forgotten.
"We'll just give you two a minute..." Amy trailed off, grabbing her shell-shocked husband and departing before any fireworks were set off; passionate or angry and with those two quite likely to be both.
When they pulled apart, breathless, the doctor smiled into her cheek, kissing the slight dimple that sat there.
"What was that for?" She pushed him away with a surprising amount of energy, her face in contrast to his was anything but happy.
"That was goodbye." When he looked puzzled she continued. "Well I'm awake now, you've done your job. Isn't this when you fly away, bye- bye River time? "
"Actually I was going to stay for a bit."
She raised an eyebrow in sarcastic surprise.
"You mean until there's another bad guy you just can't help but chase." Bitterness laced her voice and wound around it like a weed chocking the flower replacing all purities with ailment. River turned and moved back to her bed, each step toppling like a bowling pin. He tried to help her but her muscles stiffened at the touch and there was the rejection that would drown him. Once she made it to the bed she continued; the shoulders holding him under the water. "The pacifist into the warrior, how exciting."
"River, please..." He naively started.
"Your jacket is over there." She indicated to the chair in the corner, his beloved tweet jacket flung carelessly over the back of it, the dark lining even darker now, stained with her blood. "Now get out."
/ / /
The doctor returned many hours later, the whole hospital seemed to be sleeping and he was the only one wandering the abandoned, haunted corridors. He didn't know why he was going back, he'd just be greeted with the same deserved and hateful spite but he had to see her. No-one had ever managed to make him feel the way Doctor Song does, he was so used to being the one in control, the one that his companions looked at with a mixture of awe and bewilderment and love. River looked at him knowingly. That scared him. He was the one in awe and most definitely in love. He didn't know how to play that role.
He knocked quietly on the door, no answer. She was probably asleep like the rest of this place; he could watch her without the abuse that way. Approaching the bed she laid facing away from him, curled into a ball, her face completely covered by her mane. As he reached the foot of the bed it quickly became apparent that his theory was incorrect, she was awake. Awake and crying. Sobbing, almost silently into her pillow that she clutched with both hands.
The sight made him instantly nauseas. The act was so out of character, the impact seemed to increase tenfold. It brought back memories of the library and the tidal wave of guilt and emotion that accompanied that and now it also brought back the memories of yesterday and the torture she endured because he couldn't find her.
She suddenly became aware of his presence though he had made to attempt to do alert her, she spun round to face him, her eyes red raw and her face homing a waterfall. For a brief second her eyes were filled with panic until she recognised her visitor. Then they became blank. He didn't know what was worst the hatred or the nothingness that now resided with the thought of him.
"I thought you'd gone?" She asked, the tears still streaming down the contours of her cheeks, her voice was weak and croaky.
"No," He paused. "I told you... I'm going to stay for a while this time." Her face did not change a bit, her tears were freefalling with no effort at all, simply as if someone had turned on a tap and was watching the water cascade down. "Do you... want some company?"
He made a move to the chair but she was shuffling over in the bed and pulling back the cover. He looked at her questioningly but did not say anything, from not wanting to even be touched by him to offering to share a bed in nothing but a couple of sentences wasn't bad going, he was not going argue. If he spoke she might remember that she still despised him. Slipping off his shoes he climbed in next her, as she turned into him he wrapped his arms around her top half careful not to go to low and disturb the newly stitched wound. The doctor buried his nose in her hair and kissed the scalp delicately, even with the strong disinfectant smell of the Hospital River's own natural, womanly scent powered through. On anyone else he would have thought it overwhelming. On her it was perfection. She was perfection.
He could feel the dampness gather on his thin shirt where her face rested, her voice muffled as she spoke into the material:
"You know me in the future; you've met me after this?"
The library. The bile rose again but he pushed it down.
"And am I okay?"
He lifted her chin so she met his eye and spoke with all of the sincerity he could muster, all of the genuine honesty he felt.
"More than okay. You're brilliant."
"But right now... I don't like I'm ever going to be okay again."
River sobbed into his chest and he held her there until his tears joined hers. After minutes or maybe even hours, when he felt so emotionally drained that he could fall asleep at any moment, when silence invaded the room, he spoke.
"I'm sorry. I know that's a broken record from me lately but I am so, truly sorry. I should've never have left you but I just couldn't let him go. What he did to you... I wanted to kill him, I almost did but in the end... I just couldn't."
"What stopped you?" She inquired huskily.
"You. I thought I heard you. Sweetie." He mocked. "You were already out of it so it can't have been you but I thought I heard it. Probably my conscience, my conscience is a trigger happy psychopath – that's worrying." She kicked him under the sheet. "Oww!" He laughed but then turned sombre. "I mean it, I'm not going. Screw the rules, screw time."
"Sweetie, you can't."
"I'm a selfish man. I'll rip countless holes in the universe if it means staying. If I go it'll rip holes in me. Even I have a limit to the amount of guilt I can take." She replied by running a hand over his bruised, swollen knuckles and placing a light kiss on each one. Afterwards he laced his fingers through hers, the pads of his digits running down her fourth finger. "Shouldn't you have a ring or something?"
"Never know which you I'm going to run in to. Don't want to freak you out." He kissed her temple. "I shouldn't have told you. Probably ripped a couple of holes in the universe myself."
"I'm glad you did, things make a lot of sense. I... I understand how I feel, how I will feel. You've turned me so human." He joked. "Is there ever a time when we're linear, together properly?"
"Spoi..." He cut her off by kissing her softly.
"I hate that word."
"It's your word."
"I don't care." He kissed her again. "I will always come when you call, whenever, wherever, one of me will always turn up. I promise."
Her dry eyes looked set to burst once more.
"You sound like my doctor." She whispered.
"I am. River I always have been, that's what scared me so much, I was yours when I didn't have a clue who you were and each time I see you I don't become more of your doctor I just understand more and more why I am, why I've always been yours."
"You're quite the talker."
He almost burst with joy as the flirtatious glint in her eye returned, dangerously small like an open flame in a hurricane but it was there and he would nurse that flame, that spark with all of his might. The return of his wife.
He knew then that she could overcome this, the aftermath. The strongest woman he ever knew but she would still need his help and he would be there. He would stay and they'd get better together.
"I love you Mrs Doctor."