Please forgive this extremely long chapter! Though, it is the LAST chapter, unless I decide to put the epilogue and the after story of how I wrote River and the Doctor's first meeting. You know, before Moffat made it complicated. :) Thanks, Readers! It's been a great ride.
Let's see… how do I break this to them? About the time I reached the front walk a woman came running out in a state of distress.
"What happened to her? My word, is she…"
"No, no, she's alive, just unconscious. She passed out in the park, but she passed all of the medical checks just fine. We're not sure what caused it, but I knew her from school and volunteered to bring her home." Not the best explanation, but I hoped it would do. She opened the door and I walked inside.
"You're her teacher?"
"Well, just a substitute. But that's a little beside the point right now. Where's her room?" She led me to a side hall with a decorative curtain over it. After checking to make sure no one was around, she pulled back the curtain to reveal… an elevator? We stepped on carefully.
"I make sure the kids don't know about it. It's only for me and only during emergencies at that. Her room is third floor. This is a foster home, you know- it was supposed to be an apartment complex, but some things happened." The elevator dinged and we walked out. She directed me to her room, even though I already knew where it was. I laid her down on her bed gently. "How did you find out where she lived?"
"Address in the bag she was carrying. Now, I must be going. She should wake up in 48 hours, give or take, and be perfectly fine for school on Monday. But don't let her out of bed until then if you can help it. She's weak."
"You're welcome. Oh, and she might have a slight case of amnesia when she wakes up. Everything say… before Thursday should be fine, but after that there's a possibility it might be gone." She nodded.
"Alright. I'll try to help her out when she wakes up. Should I tell her you brought her back?"
"Ah, no, no. I was never here." She nodded.
"I suppose I'll see you around town then."
"Oh, maybe, maybe not. Hard to spot me sometimes."
"I highly doubt that." She eyed my coat and bow tie.
"Yes… Well, I'd better be off." She walked me to the door and I gave her a note that Martha wrote out- she was a legitimate doctor, after all. While I walked I considered a thought that had been playing on my mind for some time. I wonder who the Dreiden were really working for… I pushed the though out of my head for the moment, collected myself, and sauntered down the street towards the universe in a blue box.
Somewhere far off in space a signal echoed out to a lone spaceship. A messenger marched up the steps leading to the flight deck, bringing no good news for the captain.
"Sir, our plan has failed. The Doctor is still alive." His commanding officer viewed a screen showing a dark-haired man walking down a street in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Very well. Proceed with Operation Pandorica."
I woke up to the alarm blaring with a huge headache. Ella walked in my room, looking a little flustered.
"Good, you're awake." I moaned.
"What day is it?" Everything was so fuzzy from the past few days… no. Fuzzy was an understatement. It was more like everything was black.
"It's Monday. You passed out in the park on Saturday and hit your head. You may not remember much. You don't have to go to school if you don't want to."
"No, it's fine." I looked down at myself. "Why am I still in my clothes?"
"You've been asleep for two days. Come on, get dressed. If you want to go to school I'll drive you." I pulled on some jeans, sneakers, and a tee-shirt. Some of my clothes seemed to be missing… but I didn't have time to think about that. When I pulled off my shirt I'd noticed a key and a gold ring on a long string around my neck. I wasn't sure how it got there, but something didn't feel quite right about taking it off.
I grabbed my backpack and bustled downstairs, grabbed a granola bar for breakfast, and ate it on the way to school. The teachers were all really nice about the memory thing, and it seemed to come back a little as the day went on- well, until Friday afternoon, that is. Then it went black. I just… couldn't remember. I was so preoccupied with the thought that I crashed into a redheaded woman as I passed by the main office.
"Oh my gosh I'm so sorry!" I bent down to pick up my dropped books and she helped me gather the scattered papers.
"It's fine." She was Scottish. A tiny bell tinkled somewhere way in the back of my mind. She looked up smiling- round face, green eyes.
"Amy!" I paused. "I- I don't know why I said that." Flashes of memory hit me: blue box, redheaded girl and a massive, shaking room. I shook my head. The woman I accidentally called Amy winked, handed me my papers, and walked down the hall. I heard the warning bell and tore through the school towards Biology. I slid into my seat just in time. Someone noticed the string around my neck.
"Oh, look! She added a charm to her pathetic necklace." Gabe snickered. I pulled my jacket closed over it and picked a seat safely in the middle of the room.
"Hello, class!" A man walked towards the front of the room. Black hair, dress shirt, and a- a bow tie? Flashes again- oh, my head! Everything coming back so quickly… "I am your new substitute, Mr., um, Pond. Mr. Smith had a few… personal issues to attend to, but trust me, you won't get any slack from me." He smiled. A few students moaned. He shot down the roll call list, but I only paid attention when my name was called. "River?"
"Raina." I said automatically. What? I haven't used that name since I was six… Several people gave me odd looks.
"So, today we're going to talk about genetics, as you finished the cardiovascular system on Friday. I've brought in a couple friends of mine- Dr. Song and Dr. Jones. They're going to give you an overview." Doctor… just Doctor… capital D… River… River Song… So many things came back… the TARDIS, Amy, Rory, the box from my parents, I could almost picture the Doctor, but there was still something missing…"Ladies, you can come in now." Heels clicked on the tile floor and a woman walked in. She was wearing a black skirt, white top, and a black hat with a veil, so I couldn't see any of her face except her mouth. Her hair was also caught up under her hat. Another woman walked in- beautiful brown skin and a white doctor's coat- the tag read "UNIT: Doctor Martha Jones". Martha… a very, very vague bell came back- the addresses in the box! Wait- what box? From the side of the room Principal Halloway (a woman) entered with her clipboard. I guess she was doing one of those routine check things- either that or she was just interested.
"Hello, everyone." Said the first woman. Several of the students elbowed each other. "Alright, basic overview of genes." She was British. And wore really bright lipstick. The voice was really familiar… An hour later my head was spinning, and not just from the complicated information they were hurtling at us. Every now and then the Doctor- wait. Who is the Doctor? I couldn't remember. Not clearly, anyways. It was like a dream, you know? One of those dreams where you know you dreamt something you want to remember and need to remember, but you just can't quite grasp it? Mr. Pond would interrupt them every once in a while and they'd un-complicate something they'd just said. It was pretty interesting, actually.
"Ok, so to wrap things up, genes are the biological units of heredity that make you look the way you do, have your blood type, even what diseases you're most prone to wind up with. Well, in their simplest form." Doctor Jones said. She nodded to Dr. Song, who continued.
"Yes, and even if you don't know who your parents are you can still find out by doing a DNA test, which will prove if you're right or wrong." It almost felt like she looked at me then. "Then there's the nature vs. nurture theory, but you'll get into that later on. Any questions?" A few kids raised their hands.
"Why is it that not all kids look like their parents if the genes come from their parents?"
"Well, some genes are dominant and some are recessive. For example, curly hair is a recessive gene and won't show up unless both the father and the mother have had curly hair somewhere in their families." River- Dr. Song said. Why did I say River? That was my name. I unconsciously fingered the ring and the key around my neck.
"Are birth defects hereditary?"
"Well, it depends on what type of birth defect you mean. Most likely, if someone has a birth defect it implies either specific types of cancer were present during the pregnancy, there was some strange factor in the environment, or that the mother was on drugs." My hand clenched hard over the string. No she wasn't! What? There were no more hands up, so we thanked them and waited for the bell to ring. They stood by the door, Dr. Jones was talking, but Dr. Song was silent, hand on her forehead under her veil. I fiddled with the ring.
This looks like a wedding ring. But why would someone give me a wedding ring? And who does this key belong to? Some reflex in my head said 'TARDIS', but I wasn't exactly sure what a TARDIS was.
"Something wrong, sweetie?" Dr. Song asked, almost out of thin air. I looked up.
"Who? Me?" She nodded. "No." She pointed to her face. I brushed my hand across my own- it came off wet. I hadn't even noticed I was crying. I never cry- I can't afford to look pathetic. A few people snickered, three or four genuinely looked like they cared why I was crying.
"Something funny?" She asked to the group. "Well?" She looked at (or at least turned her head towards) Gabe.
"No, no not a thing." Gabe said. Then softer he added, "Not our fault cry-me-a-River doesn't have anyone to relate this lesson to." That got a few snickers out of his friends and a few awful looks from the rest of the class, but it just made me mad. I shot him a dirty look and looked down, wiping my face. Dr. Song's mouth formed a tight-lipped line. Mr. Pond stepped up again.
"I think that's it for today, well, except for one thing." The class groaned. The lecture had already fried their brains. "The lesson you've learned today can be most plainly expressed in a parent-child relationship. Sometimes it shows up in cousins or more distant relatives, but usually it's more prominent in parents and children."
"So what are we supposed to do? Go home and say 'hey, mom, will you come to biology class so I can demonstrate genetics?'" Smart aleck. It was one of the idiots in Gabe's group. The Doc- Mr. Pond smiled. Why do I keep calling him that? There was something I had to remember, but it was like my brain didn't want to remember it.
"I've got something better. At this point I would like to re-introduce one of the women in front of you." Dr. Song walked to the center of the room and slowly took her hat off so we could see her- all three in front were smiling. "Class, I would like to introduce my dear friend Dr. River Song." Her face. She- she- she-
I gasped and jumped out of my seat, turning my chair over in the process, and ran up to the front of the room. She smiled and opened her arms. I hugged her so hard I almost thought I strangled her, but she was laughing and hugging me back the whole time.
"Hello, sweetie." She said- it was loud enough that the whole class probably heard, but nobody said a word. I cried. I cried until my eyes were sore in front of the whole class, but I didn't care. All the memories I'd lost came rushing back to me, and I looked over at the Doctor and smiled.
"Hi." I whispered, speaking to River. "I have your ring." I took it off the string and gave it to her. She slipped it on and glanced at the Doctor, a Cheshire Cat smile playing across her face.
"Thanks." He smiled and addressed the class.
"I'd like you all to meet River's mum." That set off an uproar. Everyone in the class was talking and whispering. Well, except Gabe, who just looked a little scared from the menacing look River had shot him. One loud voice cried out the question they were all thinking.
"How do you know?" It was Principal Halloway. She was a middle-aged woman whose previously red hair had turned mostly gray. She'd moved from England eight years ago and could diminish her accent appropriately. "When did you find out?" The Doctor walked up to her.
"Grace? Grace Halloway?" She looked astonished.
"What are you-" The accent came back.
"TARDIS, time and space, new face- you used to be a surgeon."
"No- Doctor?" I smiled.
"Eleven at your service." She laughed.
"You regenerated! So you know-"
"And you used-"
"To…" She gestured at River and Raina. He nodded. "So who is her…?" He raised his eyebrows. "No."
"No!" About that time River held up her ring.
"Yes." She said. Then she spoke to the extremely confused group of students. "Mr. Pond has some extremely powerful software at his disposal- friends in high places, I suppose. He used that and two blood samples to come up with a DNA match." There was a basic "ooohhh" reaction and a couple seconds later the bell rang.
"You should have been able to tell without the technology. You look so alike!" Grace said.
"That was what clued me in. It's a long story, but the point is," I checked to make sure no one else was in the room, "don't tell the kids their teacher is an alien." She smiled.
"I won't. It's good to see you, Doctor. But you do realize who I'm going to phone first if she's not at school." I laughed.
"Well, her mum lives about 3000 years in the future and you don't have my number."
"Worth a try." She shrugged and looked at Raina, who was both happy and confused. "I suppose you're off, then?" She nodded, and Grace smiled. "Have fun." I turned to her.
"Oh, and I think you might be missing something." I tossed her the white canvas bag, all packed with her belongings from Sarah's house. "And this." Her purple Sonic screwdriver followed. "Although, around the house you might only want to use it for screwing in screws." She laughed.
"Maybe." A second later a blond girl appeared at the doorway.
"Hey, River, are you ready to… go?" she took in the sight of the classroom, then saw River and Raina. "Oh my gosh."
"Elina, this is River Song. She's my mom- my real mom."
"Wow. Well, that's unexpected." River laughed.
"It was for me too, trust me." Elina started to open her mouth, but Raina cut her off.
"I'll explain later, but I don't think I'm taking the bus today." I shook my head and dangled the TARDIS key to confirm her speculation. Elina nodded.
"I'll see you at home, then."
"See ya." We waited for her to get down the hall, then made for the storage closet.
"It was nice to see you again, Grace." She nodded.
"You too, Doctor." We walked inside and I shut the doors. Amy, Rory, and Jack were all standing inside.
"The Time Lady returns!" Amy said, laughing. "So, are ready?" The Doctor nodded.
"Yes." He pulled a switch and the TARDIS was off, flying through the Time Vortex. I hung on for the ride, laughing, just happy to be back. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered where we were going. After the shaking stopped I voiced the question.
"Where are we? When are we?" He gestured towards the door.
"Take a look." I walked down the ramp and opened the doors, stepping out in… the living room of our foster home.
"What? But I'm not leaving, I just found you guys!" River and the Doctor stepped out with me, motioning for the others to wait.
"You've got a whole life here. A whole big world to explore and change and just live in. Sometimes time and space can't compare to even that." I felt like crying and plopped down on the lumpy brown sofa.
"So you're leaving me again."
"No! No, no, no!" River sat down beside me. "We'll be back if I have anything to say about it, which I will. But I'm from three hundred years in the future and the Doctor spends his life traveling about the universe. You wouldn't have a chance with us."
"So?" She smiled, putting her arm around me.
"Sweetie, you've got the whole universe at your fingertips. But you need to finish school and know what a normal life is like, too. It'll come in handy later."
"River's right. As much as I hate to admit it, school is really important. And I've got books to write and a box to dig out." I nodded.
"I know. But you're not going to just abandon me, are you?" They both shook their heads.
"Have you got a cell phone, Raina?" The Doctor asked. I pulled it out of the white bag he'd sat on the floor. He did something to it with his sonic, and when he handed it back the screen read "UNIVERSAL ROAM ACTIVATED".
"No way." I smiled.
"Anytime you need us, anytime at all, just call. It phones everywhere everywhen, so you'll always be able to catch one of us. Just make sure your mum knows who you are before you start talking too much. And…" he sat down on my other side. "This summer I am coming back to take you and your mum on a vacation." I smiled. "What do you think? You and me."
"Time and space?"
"Time and space." The Doctor hugged me and leaned against the TARDIS while River and I said our goodbyes.''
"Bye River." She hugged me.
"Bye Raina. I'll miss you- but if you need me just call, alright?" I nodded.
"And don't you dare try not coming back, ok?" She laughed.
"Wouldn't dream of it." The Doctor opened the door and she started to walk inside, but about that time Ella walked in from grocery shopping.
"Aaaagh!" She screamed and dropped her bags, probably shocked that there was giant blue police box in the middle of our living room. River and the Doctor poked their heads around the corner.
"I think we've got some explaining to do…" The Doctor said. I laughed and rolled my eyes- happens every day.
"So, where do you want to go now?" The Doctor asked. We'd dropped off Jack and Martha and we were all standing around the console desk.
"I think you might want to drop me off at home." I said. He looked astonished.
"What?" I checked my watch.
"You're due to meet me again very, very soon, and I'd rather not be there when that happens." He laughed and flew the TARDIS back to my apartment. He stepped out and Amy winked, motioning for me to go and holding Rory back from stepping out. "Oh, and there's something I need to tell you." I said when we got outside.
"What's that? Spoilers, remember?" I nodded.
"But you need to know this. If anything ever happens to me, you need to find my diary and read the last page."
"Promise me, Doctor." He nodded.
"I promise." There was a minute of silence before he continued. "Well, normally at this point I'd ask you something along the lines of 'who are you', but considering I already know…" I laughed.
"So, now that we've got that particular issue out of the way- what exactly do you think of me?" He stood there for a moment, just looking at me- right in my eyes- considering. Soon enough he seemed to make up his mind, stepped a little closer, and wrapped am arm around my waist. I looked up, eyebrows raised, hands on his shoulders. I can't believe I'm actually about to say this…
"I love you, Doctor." He flashed a smile, sentimental, but silent.
We stood there like that for a while, looking at each other, hearts pounding- or at least, mine was. With his free hand he lifted my chin and looked into my eyes, almost regretfully. Then he kissed my forehead softly.
"Do you know what I'm going to say?" I raised my eyebrows.