His wife had sent the Doctor on an errand into the Tardis. She and his Companion were sitting side by side on the thin prison cot.

"Why did you do it?" his Companion nodded around at the cell. "Why would you agree to all this?"

The woman smiled at her. "How long have you been traveling with him?"

She shrugged, not wanting to look at his wife, " A while."

"Told you not to be specific, did he?" she patted her leg. "Don't worry about it." She leaned back against the concrete wall, wrapping her arms around one bent knee.

The Companion turned and pulled her feet up onto the cot, crossing her legs as they settled in a "girls talking about boys" position.

"Did he tell you I killed him?"

"He said it was a ruse, a con."

"It was. The second time."

"Should we be talking about this here?"

"Don't worry, the Tardis is jamming everything.

"The second time I killed him was a ruse. The first time was for real. I killed him. He died. It was what I'd been created for.

"I'd been raised and trained my whole life to murder him." She smiled a reminiscent smile. "His own personal psychopath."

"So, how?" She looked toward the Tardis where the Doctor had disappeared.

"I brought him back. Traded my lives for his."

"Why? If you'd been conditioned to murder him..?"

The woman cocked her head, eyes staring off into the past, as though thinking it through for the first time. "I suppose, it might have had something to do with my regeneration."

The Companion frowned and shook her head, not understanding.

River smiled and turned her head toward her. "It was my first regeneration from adult to adult. Regeneration doesn't just change your body, it changes your perspective." She grinned. "Changes your mind, if you want to think of it that way." She threw a fond glance at the Tardis. "You can suddenly see things from a different angle."

"Wouldn't the people who'd trained you have known that would happen?"

River shook her head, and her shoulders shook, silently laughing. "No. Not necessarily." She brushed at her eyes, still grinning like mad, a fierce, wolfish smile, savage with satisfaction. "Sorry. The Doctor's people no longer exist. I was a bit of an experiment. Even the Doctor isn't sure how Time Lord I am."

"So, regenerating made you change your mind," the Companion said.

"No. I killed him after I regenerated. Then we went our separate ways for a bit," she said thoughtfully. "It takes a while to settle into a new body."

"So why did you save him?"

The woman turned to look at her, electric blue eyes, wild hair, a world of anger, and proud, gleeful defiance in that gaze, "I had been conditioned to murder a monster. A slayer of innocents. A destroyer of worlds." She rolled the words out as if she was reciting a fairy tale.

"Not to kill a sweet man who was begging for the lives of his friends.

"A man who spoke me no ill word. Who trusted me at his back. Who defended me, even while dying.

"A man who spoke my name when he needed comfort, who called out to me as his source of help.

"Who believed in the good in me, even when I knew there was none."

"Yet after all you'd been through, that was enough to give up your whole life for him?"

"Who said I gave up my life?" she cocked her head, and blinked at me, rather like an eagle. She smiled. A full blown, beautiful smile of joy. Serene.

"I claimed my life that day."

The Doctor bounced back into the cell, he handed over the roll of biscuits with a delighted flourish. "There you go. The Tardis was hiding them, she had them stuffed back in the cabinet in the second tea room, under the sardines. Really, who hides jammie dodgers under sardines?"

She accepted them with a smile. "Thank you, sweetie."

"Why do you call him sweetie?"

River looked from her, to the Doctor standing over them, bouncing excitedly on his toes, beaming a little-boy grin.

The woman looked at her with twinkling eyes. "Do you really have to ask?"

For more stories by this author click on "betawho" at the top of the page.

The two prequels to this story are, "When a Prison isn't a Prison" and "When a Prisoner isn't a Prisoner."

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