a.n. Hi guys! Back again, and REALLY should have spent some time doing study/assignments instead of this. Oh well, ce la vie (← example of my French study!)

Disclaimer: I STILL don't own it, but I'm PISSED OFF at the interlude (have you guys seen it yet? IT'S TOO LONG!) anyway. I digress.

Early days.

That's what River said; it was early days for him, and she was right. The Doctor knew River's name, or he thought he did. River Song. He knew almost nothing else. He had suspicions, of course, but it wasn't the same. He knew that she meant something to him, he knew that she was important, or was going to be important, but he didn't know how or why.

She was amazing though, River Song. So self-assured, never flustered or embarrassed and almost never afraid. He'd seen her afraid once. But it hadn't happened to her yet, of that he was assured. Because she was still breathing.

But just barely, he thought, which brought the Doctor back to reality. He increased his already rapid pace, carrying the mysterious woman to the TARDIS.

River was hurt, badly. She'd called him to this planet to help with a revolution but it had backfired when she was shot.

She was unconscious now and the Doctor had cauterised the wound with the sonic screwdriver, but it was only a matter of time. It was a screwdriver after all, not a medical instrument. It would wear off, and very quickly. River had already lost a lot of blood. Maybe too much.

No, she'll make it, she has to go to the Library. He thought, blocking the inevitable Time Lord proverb from his head. Time can be rewritten. River's head lolled sideways, her curls brushing his arm.

He reached the TARDIS, parked conspicuously in the jungle, and snapped his fingers to open the doors, silently thanking River for telling him about that. The Time Lord didn't even know why he cared so much about River's safety. He didn't know her, but at the same time he had an undeniable compulsion to look after her. Protect her.

The Doctor hurried to the controls and pushed one of the big red buttons. "Emergency teleport." He muttered. He'd installed it on the off-chance that something went wrong and he couldn't make it to the med bay on foot in time.

In a flash of light he and River were deposited in the medical bay. "It's not just a nickname you know." He said, laying her down on a bed. "The Doctor is in."

-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-

It was long difficult work, but it was worth it. River was going to be fine. The gun had been a laser, which was actually a benefit with the shoulder wound. No bullet to extract. What she needed now was rest.

What he needed now was time to think. He pressed a small glowing blue button on the wall and left.

Several hours later River woke with a groan, and it took her less than five seconds to recognise where she was. "Again?" She mumbled. How many times was she going to end up in the TARDIS infirmary? "Doctor?" She asked, but when she looked around she realised that he wasn't there.

She sat up and felt the bandages around her left shoulder. Now she remembered. The Doctor had been helping her with the revolution on Kallifrax but she'd been caught off guard by a patrol and been shot. She couldn't remember much after that beyond sounds and lights. She must have passed out at some point.

Her shoulder didn't hurt much now, she supposed she should thank the Doctor for that. It did feel fragile though, like there was a sheet of glass inside and if she moved suddenly it would splinter and cause her immeasurable pain.

River started to try to get up when there was an urgent beeping, followed by the sound of running, getting louder until the Doctor skidded into the room, "No no no!" He cried, pointing at her, "You stay there!"

River laughed, "It's nice to see you too sweetie."

There was something wrong. She could see it on his face. River thought it would get harder to read the Time Lord as he got younger and knew her less but it was the opposite. He wasn't as good at hiding his feelings now, so it was easier for her to read them.

"What is it?" She asked, a little worried.

"You're going to be fine." Said the Doctor, ignoring her question. He had to think of a way to confront her but he didn't want to sound like he was accusing her of anything. While accusing her of things. How to accuse but not accuse? That was the question. "It was just a laser gun so there wasn't any bullet to remove, you just need to rest, you lost a lot of blood."

River wasn't fooled, "There's something wrong Doctor, tell me what it is." She got up, ignoring the sudden dizziness, and made to go to him but was stopped when she hit something invisible, which glowed blue for a second. She stared at it for a moment, not comprehending what was happening before she asked. "Doctor, why am I in a forcefield?" She wasn't angry, he wouldn't do this without reason. Maybe she'd caught some disease and was under quarantine? No, that didn't sound right.

The Doctor opened his mouth to respond but couldn't think of anything to say. He raised his head to meet River's gaze which didn't help him one bit. She looked politely confused, inquiring. He didn't want her to look confused or innocent, that would make this so much harder.

When River saw what was in his eyes she had to double-take. He looked lost, afraid and a little... angry. "Sweetie, whatever it is you can tell me."

The Time Lord wrung his hands and started slowly, "When you were shot, I-I was scared." River smiled at the sentiment. It was nice to know that this version of the Doctor still cared about it, "And I didn't know why." He continued, making her smile go down a little. He sighed, burying his face in his hands. "I got you back here easily enough, had to finish the revolution later."

"Did they win?" Asked River curiously, twisting the knife further into him.

"Yes." He said. "They won, without us too." Us. It seemed such an innocent word, but with River it implied everything.

"Then what's wrong?" She asked, getting a little impatient with him.

The Doctor's gaze was fixed on the wall behind River. He couldn't look her in the eye. "Well, when I got you back here I stopped the bleeding and you weren't going to die of blood loss." Now he met her eyes, but with a coldness in them that River rarely saw and almost never saw directed at her. This was how he looked at the Daleks. It wasn't hatred, not quite. A mixture of anger, fear and loathing. This was the look that haunted the nightmares of his enemies and toppled empires. It almost broke her heart. "But I had to scan you to check for internal bleeding."

River Song was very intelligent. The Doctor knew that. He knew that all she needed was that sentence to work out what was bothering him. His suspicions were confirmed when the blood drained from her face. "Doctor, I-"

"Who are you?" He asked, but more coldly and demandingly than she had heard. "You said you're from my future, are you from my past too?" River had never seen him more furious. "The Rani was always a master of disguise. Did you regenerate, Ushas?" He demanded, getting more and more worked up.

"No!" River said, backing away superfluously and trying to calm him down, "I'm not- I-I-" This happening was unprecedented. She wasn't allowed to tell the Doctor about herself but now he'd found something out on his own by mistake. Something very important.

"You what?" He asked and River actually recoiled. "How did you escape the Time War? Did you do what the Master did and run away? Tell me!" He yelled, almost screaming.

River felt tears well up in her eyes at the pain she knew he was going through, "Doctor, I swear you don't know me as anyone other than who I am now. I'm not going to hurt you, I-" She hiccuped, trying to keep the tears in, "I could never hurt you." She said decisively. She wasn't going to cry now. She refused.

The Doctor was starting to calm down, but only minimally, "Who are you?" He asked again.

"You know I can't tell you that."

"River."

She sighed and closed her eyes for a second. "Okay. I'll do my best." Now she met his gaze, "I'll tell you all I can without ripping a hole in the time vortex. Deal?"

Why did he want to smile when she said that? This wasn't a funny moment, it was serious. The Doctor shook himself. "Deal."

River buried her face in her hands momentarily, "Firstly I'll say that neither of my parents are from Gallifrey, and I have never seen it." She smiled, "You've told me about it though, I wish I could."

The Doctor frowned.

"Anyway. I'm not Time Lord by birth, I'm Time Lord by circumstance." She paused at the Doctor's confused expression, "I can't tell you how exactly, but the circumstances of my... conception," She smirked at the blush in the Time Lords cheeks, "Gave me a hint of Gallifrey in my genes."

The Doctor shook his head, "That wouldn't be enough to make you as close to full Time Lady as you are now." He'd seen the scans. Binary vascular system and respiratory bypass didn't just occur by two humans knocking boots by the untempted schism.

River nodded in agreement, resting her head against the forcefield, "No. I was... taken when I was born and exposed to the time vortex more. Experimented on I suppose. That's what made me... how I am now."

The Doctor rubbed his face tiredly, feeling all of his nine hundred years. River's story checked out, it was feasible to make a child as close to Gallifreyan as she was through those processes; Time Lords were the result of several hundred years of mutation by exposure to the time winds. But... "How do I know you're not lying?"

River shrugged and smiled sadly. "You don't."

The look on her face cracked his exterior but he didn't want to show it. It hurt her so much that he didn't trust her. He wanted to hold her, tell her it was okay, that he trusted her. But he couldn't. Among other things the forcefield was still on. "I do trust you." He said, to River's surprise, "I'm just not sure how much yet."

Rather than take this to heart River acknowledged it as fact. "Understandable I suppose." She paused, "Are you going to let me out of here?" She suffered from mild claustrophobia and being trapped in a small space, even if the walls were invisible, was starting to stress her out.

The Doctor had a dilemma. Did he let her out? Time Lady doesn't guarantee homicidal maniac, his voice of reason said. But at the same time...

Then it hit him like a ton of bricks. If River wanted him dead then she could have killed him long ago. Even through inaction she could have caused his death, but she didn't. River Song had always done all she possibly could to keep him safe, even when he wished she wouldn't.

She had died for him. Or was going to, depending on whose perspective it was taken from.

Without a word he pressed the button on the wall, deactivating the forcefield. To his surprise River didn't move. "I took down the forcefield." He said, in case she hadn't noticed.

"I know." River replied, "I just want to prove I'm not going to hurt you."

The statement was not meant to hurt him, it was meant as fact. But it felt like she had punched him in the chest. The hollowness in her voice, the blankness in her eyes. He had no idea how much it hurt her that he didn't trust her.

The Doctor walked over to the Time Lady until they stood almost nose to nose. Without warning he swept her up in a hug. "I'm glad you're okay." He mumbled.

River smiled and savoured the contact, returning the embrace. This younger version of the Doctor had a habit of holding her at arms length. It annoyed her, when all she wanted was to be close to him. "Me too sweetie."

The Doctor released her from the hug. "I-I'm sorry." He said, surprising River for the umpteenth time, "It's just, when I saw the scans..."

"I know." Interrupted River, "You don't have to explain, I know about the others."

"Then," The Doctor swallowed, looking down, "You know what I did."

River caught his wrist, forcing him to look at her. "Yes. You told me. And I know it wasn't your fault. There was no other option."

But the Time Lord shook his head. "I should have thought of something."

"Oh Doctor," Sighed River, "I know exactly what happened, not just the outline. I thought it over on long nights in my cell when I couldn't sleep, and let me tell you, there is nothing else you could have done."

The Doctor didn't believe that. He never did, River knew. He would carry that particular burden until the day he died.

"Doctor." She said after a pause, holding his shoulders, "I have something to say, on behalf of our species." The look in his eyes almost killed her. She always said how much of a child he was sometimes, usually in jest, but now... he did look like a child. Lost and afraid. "I forgive you." She breathed gently.

The Doctor trembled and River embraced him again. He needed this.

The Time Lord clung to her like a lifeline. He wasn't crying, but he was pretty close. At the same time though, now that he had gotten over the shock, River being a Time Lady was comforting. It didn't matter how much he loved his human companions, ever since the Time War he hadn't been able to shake the feeling of loneliness that dogged him. The knowledge that all his companions would age and die. Now though, it had alleviated. Not gone. But as close to gone as it had been in years.

River for her part, felt more at ease with the Doctor than she had in a long time. It had been a while since the Doctor knew who she was and it was only going to get longer from here. But now, for this moment, he knew, not everything, but enough, and it felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

The Doctor had stopped shaking but still didn't relinquish his hold on her. He wasn't ready to let go of the feeling of her hearts beating against his yet. River knew that, so instead of breaking away she gently stroked his back and mumbled, "It's okay my love, it wasn't your fault."

It was then, early days though it was, that the Doctor began to fall in love with River Song.

a.n. There. Done. And only *checks folder* seven more half finished. I am terrible like that. I know at least three that probably won't ever get finished. Oh well. Anyone want a half-completed fic?

Please review! I can take constructive criticism!