A/N: Superseded, really, by the minisodes on the Series 6 DVDs, but I've included it here for those who haven't seen it. If you have, start at Chapter One instead and skip this chapter entirely.
Her trial had lasted exactly three months and two days; she absolutely refused to work out what percentage of her overall sentence that came out to. The results were certain to be discouraging, to say the least.
Ending up in Stormcage wouldn't have been as bad, of course, if she had known when she was going to see him again. Under the circumstances, he couldn't exactly waltz into the prison and demand a conjugal visit. Or, for that matter, any kind of visit at all. It might tend to suggest he wasn't quite as deceased as he wanted everyone to believe. And, despite the massive subterfuge he was pulling over on the universe...with her help, of course, but still...he did remain a bit of a goody-two-shoes. To put it mildly. And she had a terrible feeling that meant he might consider breaking out murderers, even if only temporarily, and even one who hadn't technically committed the crime she'd been convicted of, to be out of the question.
Which meant she might be in for a very, very long wait.
Although she had managed to smuggle in a few tubes of hallucinogenic lipstick. So if he wasn't able or willing to come to her...
The wheezing grinding shriek of ancient engines filled the corridor, interrupting her thoughts. Answering her thoughts.
The TARDIS. His TARDIS.
She was at the bars before they'd fully materialized, but it wasn't until he'd stepped out of the doors and walked towards her, hands thrust casually into his pockets and a grin plastered on his face, that she realized just how much she'd really missed him. How much she'd needed to see him.
"Hello, sweetie." She was quite possibly beaming idiotically; she didn't really care.
He returned her smile. "Hullo." Then, brandishing his sonic screwdriver, he unlocked her cell as easily as if he'd done it a million times. "Lets..."
She was in his arms even before the door was fully open. Long minutes later, breaking off from the kiss, she finally answered, laughing breathlessly, "Yes... lets..."
Quite a long time later, hunger and thirst having eventually, and shockingly unromantically, forced them to leave the bedroom, they sat together at the TARDIS kitchen table, wearing nothing but dressing gowns, having tea. "So, shall we?" the Doctor asked, reaching into the pocket of his gown and pulling out a battered blue leather book which, while not an exact match for her diary, was fairly close.
"Shall we what?" she asked.
He waggled the book in front of her, "Do diaries?"
He paused in mid-waggle. "Diaries?" he repeated. And then, when she still didn't answer, he continued, his voice suddenly serious. "River... You do know what I'm talking about, right?"
She shook her head.
"Oh. Oh. God... That explains..."
Something in his tone was starting to scare her. "Doctor?"
He stared at the diary in his hand and took a deep breath before looking back at her. "River... have we compared diaries before?"
She shook her head again. "No."
He nodded slowly and then asked, "This is the first time I've visited you in Stormcage, isn't it?"
"Yes. Of course it is. Why?"
He sighed and, for just a second, looked every minute of his age. Ancient and tired in a way she'd never seen him before. "Oh... River."
"What?" Then, when he didn't answer, she asked, as gently as she could, "Please, just tell me."
He took another deep breath and looked down at the table, long fingers fiddling absently with the teacup set before him as he explained, "Because, you see...and I can't tell you how long or why...I've been traveling backwards in time relative to you while you've been in Stormcage." He glanced up at her before continuing quietly, "And if this is my first visit to you here... then it means it's also my last. My last before finally finding you... wherever and whenever it is I'm going to find you."
"Oh...sweetie." Because suddenly she understood. The man sitting across the table from her, though he looked like him, wasn'ttrulyher Doctor. Not yet. Not completely. He was on his way to becoming – had nearly become – that man. But he wasn't him. Not quite yet. Not until finding her, or until she'd found him, in that cornfield in Leadworth. And making her fall in love with him because...
And then shereally understood.
"You love me," she said simply, trying to make him understand, too.
He looked up at her and smiled through eyes shining with tears. "Yes."
Her heart broke for him. All the fear he must be feeling, all the uncertainty and guilt... and how simple it would be for her to end it all. To tell him she first knew only because he'd told her. That he would get that chance to tell her, and that it would change everything.
Only she knew she couldn't.
So, instead, she said, "I'm here."
It was close enough. And it was undeniably true. His smile widened. His eyes brightened. "Yeah, you are."
"And, you know, this box of yours does travel in time and space, so it's not like there's any place you have to rush off to any time soon." She arched an eyebrow at him.
He chuckled, and the sound bubbled through her. "True."
"So, if you're done eating...?" she began, pointing toward the empty dishes in front of them before glancing suggestively toward the door.
He didn't need to be asked twice.
It wasn't until much later that River realized, on her first trip away from Stormcage, with all of time and space at her disposal, she hadn't actually gone anywhere.