River materialized back in her cell only a few minutes – from Stormcage's perspective at least – after she had left it. As far as she could tell, they hadn't even noticed she'd been gone. After stashing her vortex manipulator and squareness gun away, she grabbed her diary and a pen and went to go sit down on her bed.

There, on her pillow, sat a nutcracker.

Her nutcracker.

And, suddenly, she remembered...

The Nutcracker and Berlin... Mr. Hoffmann and Peter... The alien Rodentarians.

From a child's perspective.

And then the Doctor's arms around her, holding her tight.

The rush of memories threatened to overcome her; she grabbed onto the edge of her metal shelving unit to steady herself.

And turned at the sound of a throat being cleared behind her.

The Doctor stood at the open door of her cell, leaning back against the bars.

She smiled at him. "Hello, sweetie."

An answering grin split across his face. "See? Like I said, dearest. I'll always come back."


A/N: Special thanks to my beta, AstraPerAspera, for this one. She knocked out the edits very quickly so I could go from germ of an idea on Sunday to complete story by Thursday.