He is dying, which isn't something all that new. He's died before.

But this time it's permanent.

(he can't help but feel a vicious stab of glee at the thought)

Dying, lying on those stairs. Standing in the TARDIS, crying. Crash landing to Earth. Suicide. Murder. Tripping over his own two feet (that one had been embarrassing). Dying. Coming back. Each man a different face—here's a secret, the face doesn't matter—each man dying.

Some new man goes sauntering away. And I'm dead.

Everything I am dies.

It is strange. And you look back, just for a moment, and you see, and he sees, walking into the new face. Like salt, pouring from an open wound.

Or someone singing.

There are no words. Green eyes, brown eyes; for a moment who is I? Who was me? Then he steps forward, and the other steps back—but which is the stepping forward? and which is the stepping back?

He knows he's lived too long—much older than 907. Much, much older. Older inside than the years lived (his hearts cracked from the age). But he doesn't want to go, and he does not want him to leave. There is so much weight, so much guilt, for someone just born.

(a millennium, probably two)

So. Much weight. He places a hand on his own shoulder (for a moment a father to a son, hello and welcome and Iamsosorry) and for a moment everything is golden.

He is born infant screaming.

The war had no years. It was just one



and then everyone died.

(except for him)

"Find River, and tell her something for me."

With your last rasp

Dying—all is fair in love in war—and this time?

ing breath

This time it's permanent.

you whisper in her ear

Hello my name is—

and that fragile curling inside of you

All is fair. And River, when she is River, would kill him for thinking like this.

breaks loose

RiverMelodyPond looks at him, places a hand on his shoulder. "I think she knows—"

and falls down into the

Right now, she does. Riv—

Open your eyes. Gold: in her hair, in her lips, spilling through with her smiling tears. And his own, rust orange (stained with the blood of a billion galaxies) old rust. It is River. How is she here with him? He wants to tell her you died in the forest, in the silent books in the whispering shadows in all of those thousands of ghosts why are you here with me? you should not be here with me,

"River. No. What are you doing?"

you should be sleeping in a quiet garden somewhere, with your blue blue lips and rose gun hair

(the gold into the cracks of her hands, brushing lightly his cheekbones and into the temples of his hair)

"Hello sweetie."

breathe with me please.

Your hands spill open and no, she will be amazing.

An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocents. Drifting in space through an endless shifting maze. To such a creature, death would be a gift.

I wasn't talking about myself.

The good wizards always turn out to be him.