She hadn't expected the Tardis.

She'd always known what she was, known what she'd been created for. To bring down the greatest criminal in history. A man who laughed at pain and slaughter. A god with the power to help, who instead merely went through history making things worse. Ignoring the big injustices and wasting his time on frivolous things, leaving devastation in his wake.

She had been the golden child of the Silence, never indulged, but always respected. It was her right to right this wrong, to stop this trickster who twisted the world for his own amusement.

And she'd done it. It hadn't even been hard. He didn't have the sense to protect himself, so sure of his invulnerability that he let her get right up to him without so much as a protest.

But she hadn't expected the Tardis.

When he asked her to help him save Rory and Amy, she'd had a moment of doubt. It was irritating enough that he kept calling for this River person, a loose thread she'd have to clean up.

But he was dying, Her job was done. There was no reason for her parents to die. It wouldn't hurt him more if she didn't save them. And they'd been good friends during the years she'd waited to spring her trap. So there was no reason not to grant his request. She was free now, free to make her own choices. She may as well save them, certainly the Tessalector had been no part of her plans.

She remembered the searing agony that had washed through her veins. If she could inconvenience those people in any way, she'd be happy to.

"What do I do?"

"Just go in the Tardis," he said, fading before her eyes, almost pathetically grateful for her help. "You're the child of the Tardis. She'll show you what to do."

He flopped over on his back with the last of his energy, the poison finally robbing him of motor control. She still stepped around him carefully, knowing better than to underestimate him. But he just watched her, a look in his eyes she didn't understand. It looked almost like regret.

She shook her head and pushed her way into his time machine. She knew it wasn't just a blue box, but actually an advanced temporal craft, symbiotically bonded to the Time Lord. She'd tried to disable it earlier, but it appeared to regenerate quickly, the bullet hole was already gone.

She shut the door behind her and took two steps inside, and fell to her knees.

She hadn't expected the Tardis.

Golden energy, the kind she only ever felt when she was regenerating, swarmed around her, through her, invading her mind, pervading her body, warm, welcoming, affectionate. Tinged with grief, but also with pride and possession and joy. She was the Child of the Tardis, and the Tardis wrapped around her like a mother's arms.

Her mind expanded, as if she could suddenly see the entire universe, all of space and time at once, yet was also cradled in safety.

The energy gradually receded, absorbed back into the walls, but still there. River found herself kneeling on the floor, tears streaming down her face. "Why?" she asked, feeling an unconditional acceptance, a welcome she'd never felt before, not even from her own parents. She shook her head. "I killed him."

She felt a tinge of grief, but a greater swell of love and determination.

"You are mine."

It was a woman's voice, in her mind, all around her, absolute, unwavering.

River pushed herself to her feet. She stumbled to the controls, she could still feel the energy flowing around her, pressing against her whole body, as if she were part of it, like swimming through gold.

She reached the controls. She knew what to do.

"You are both mine."


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