The sun was warm on his skin. He lay there - he couldn't be sure how long – with his eyes closed, running a blade of grass between his index and middle fingers. The wind blew softly around him, playfully mussing his hair. Voices drifted to him from somewhere far away. He couldn't make out what they were saying, but he recognized laughter, pain, and something else in their voices.
'Okay. I must be dead,' he thought. 'Death. That's new. Well, not really, but we'll go with that.' He reached for his sonic, but it wasn't there. Neither was his tweed jacket. 'Of course not. Silly me.' He opened his eyes, expecting to be blinded by the sun, and surprised when he wasn't. The trees rose above his head, and he sat up to discover that he had been lying at the edge of an empty field. For a brief moment, he wondered if he was in heaven. If there was such a place. But he knew that, after all he'd done, there was no way he'd be accepted in heaven. That was a place for people who didn't lie, cheat, or kill. And he'd killed more people and races than anyone he'd ever known.
He stretched his arms out, bending his fingers and wrists, to make sure they worked. One of the sleeves of his white button-down shirt had started to come unrolled, so he rolled it back up, stopping just below his elbow. After twisting his torso left and right a couple of times, he bent his knees. 'Blue jeans? Really?' He sighed and ran his fingers over his face, then back into his hair. He'd obviously not changed forms. He was definitely still in his eleventh regeneration. Taking that into account, he cautiously rose to his feet. It was easier than he'd expected. Apparently, he was a lot more graceful in death than he had been when he was alive. He walked forward, trying to follow the voices. This was difficult. He could never pinpoint the exact location of where they were coming.
As he walked, a faint movement caught his attention. He glanced sideways, gasping. 'No.' She smiled at him, and he couldn't help but think she looked like an absolute goddess in her flowing white dress. 'No,' he repeated, 'you can't be here.' She didn't say anything. She just fell into step beside him. They walked until the voices he'd been hearing grew louder and louder, and they were all coming from one direction. He turned to face her, but she was gone. She was nowhere to be found.
He began to make out what some of the voices were saying, but one stuck out in particular.
'I guess that's what being part human does to you.'
He thought about that night. She'd refused to travel with him, even though he begged and begged. She had been hiding something from him, something that he wasn't even aware of yet. She must have known that she was pregnant. That had to be it. She was pregnant when she went to the library. 'Human.' That word kept floating around in the air around him. He always forgot that no matter how much River was like him, she was still human.
He would never forget what happened that night. What she said, how she held her hand out to him and wordlessly invited him into her home, the way she wrapped her legs around his waist, and how she felt under his fingertips. That night, as he had wrapped his arms around her and whispered her name in his language over and over in her ear, he had wanted to stay. For just a moment, he wished that he had never even mentioned running off again. He should have known that, at one time or another, she would have wanted to settle down for a little bit. And what better time to settle down than when you're going to have a child? 'Our paths crossed, we got married, and I still love you. I just don't want to travel right now.' He'd cringed at the look on her face when she'd said that. There was a certain subtext running under her words that had bothered him, but he'd put away until now. The way that she'd only briefly mentioned their marriage. Sure, he was a traveler. He was someone that nobody had expected to get married. But he was old, and he had lived a long time. He'd had a wife before. Before the Time War, before he ran away. He had a wife and a child, who were both Gallifreyan as well. This time, with River, he didn't see it as any different. Yeah, he had married her in a timeline that never happened, but they both remembered it, so what was the difference?
The difference was that everyone she knew always questioned her. She didn't have a ring, there was a man constantly coming in and out of her house, and now there was a seemingly illegitimate child about. To any other human, she probably looked like some kind of prostitute or something. But this wasn't just anybody. This was River Song, and she didn't care what anybody thought about her. Or, did she?
He shook his head. There was too much going on around him. His brain was swirling with guilt and anger, and the voices around him were growing louder and louder. 'Human.' The word was sticking out and slamming into him harder than any other. 'Human. Human. Human.'
If this was what death was like, he wanted no part in it.
"Is he going to be alright?" A voice came from somewhere beside him.
"He wasn't completely ready for the transfer. But his heart and brain activity are normal. He should wake up any time," A voice from his other side replied.
"And what about her?"
"It's going to take a little longer for her to recover. She should be fine, though. If you need anything else, just let me know."
"Thank you, doctor."
He didn't know if he wanted to open his eyes or not. The last time he did, he'd paid for it. The smell of antiseptic clung to him and seeped in through his nostrils, and he could hear beeping of heart monitors in four fold. He wasn't alone. Even more, River was alive. Or they were both absolutely dead, and this was their version of hell.
"What did he say?" Rory asked, his voice getting closer.
"He should wake up any time. She's going to need longer to recover, though. Look at that pair," Amy sighed. "Who would have guessed they would have ever settled down?"
"They aren't settled," Rory pointed out. "He had just shown up in the TARDIS when we got there."
"You know what I meant. Just look at this. His eyes-they're TARDIS blue."
"What else would you have expected?" Rory sighed, his voice fading out of the room again.
He decided that he wasn't in hell. He was most certainly alive, his best friends and in-laws sitting watch over him and his wife, and taking care of their child.
Caden started crying, softly at first, but then his cries grew louder. The Doctor heard Amy shush him softly, and he assumed that she was rocking him back and forth. This was as good a time as any to wake up, he decided. His eyes fluttered open. He had to blink a couple of times for them to adjust. The small hospital room wasn't very bright. Amy and Rory had kept the lighting down on purpose, which he was grateful for. He stared up at the ceiling, listening as the baby's protests grumbled on.
"He's tired," The Doctor mumbled.
"What?" Amy gasped.
"He's trying to tell you that he's tired. Give him here," The Doctor said, a little louder. Amy stood and walked towards him. He examined himself again, moving his toes, legs, and fingers. He felt something in his left hand, restricting his movements. One glance told him that it was River's fingers. They had put River beside him and lowered the safety rails on the sides where the two beds came together. He must have reached over and grabbed her hand when he was dreaming. Amy was soon by his bedside, and she placed Caden between The Doctor's chest and his right arm. He cradled the baby, whose cries had grown quieter and were on the verge of stopping as his eyelids grew heavy with the threat of sleep. Amy had been right. This child's eyes were the bluest shade of blue that The Doctor had ever known.
The Doctor brought River's hand up and gently pressed a kiss to the back of it. No one was sure how long she would be unconscious, but he hoped it wouldn't be for long.
"He just wants to sleep." The baby had already started to nestle into his chest and drift off. "There you go, little one." He kissed his forehead lightly. "How long was I out?" He asked, his voice only a whisper so as to not wake Caden.
"Three days," Amy replied, pushing his hair up out of his eyes. He cringed at the stinging that ripped across his forehead.
"Three days? Ow! You mean to tell me that I've been laying here, asleep, no sonic, no TARDIS, no big, bad, aliens to stop from killing the human race for three days?"
"You almost died. Like, beyond regeneration. I think the humans will be fine on their own, for once. You really need to rest."
"River's hearts were practically stopped. You almost did what she did for you all those years ago. You almost gave up all your regenerations. But you weren't completely ready," she said, looking away from him.
"She was dead, Amy." The words stung both of them, but they were true. "I couldn't just stand there and do nothing. There's no way I could raise this baby by myself. I wouldn't even know where to start. And the TARDIS is no place to raise a child, not really. But then again, I turned out okay, I think, and I practically had the vortex in my back yard. I suppose it could be done. Oh, God. I have a child." The Doctor looked from the baby to Amy, his eyes wide with both wonder and horror. Amy stifled a laugh. In that moment, he'd looked no more than 9 years old himself.
"Oh, shut up, you idiot."
"Did I – did I change? Do I look any different?" He found Amy's eyes. "Am I ginger?" he asked, hopefully.
She raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "You're still the bow-tie-wearing-idiot, without the bow tie."
He brought his hand up to feel at his neck. The familiar apparel wasn't there. His fingers touched bare skin. "Naked and not ginger. No, wait. I'm still wearing trousers."
"You hit your head pretty hard," she joked, but let it go.
"Where's Rory? I thought I heard him earlier," he said, his eyes darting around the room. Rory was nowhere to be seen.
"He went to take a shower, on the TARDIS. They conveniently gave you two the room directly across where you managed to land her. Not your most skillful landing, mind you, but it was okay."
"Yeah, well, under the circumstances, I did the best I could." He didn't make an effort to mask the sarcasm in his tone. He'd be bitter about that for a while, he thought.
"I know. Thank you, for trying."
"Amy, I promised you that on my life, your daughter would be safe. I've saved her from death once, not that this is the conversation you want to be having right now. I was not about to let her slip away, after I'd only just got her back." Amy was silent, but pressed her lips into a tight smile. It was getting harder for The Doctor to keep his eyes open. The sedative was working its way back into his system.
"Get some rest." She patted his hand and walked towards the door, her orange hair disappearing just as he slid his eyes closed and took River's hand, then gently wrapped one of his his arms around their little boy.
AN: Hi! Sorry it took so long to update, again. Yes, I realize that this is highly out of character for The Doctor. I have a rhyme and reason.. ;) Anyway, there will definitely be a few more chapters. How many, I'm not sure yet.
Reviews keep me writing!