Disclaimer: Still don't own Doctor Who.
The Doctor was aware of a painful throbbing in his head even before he woke up. As he opened his eyes he discovered that he was not in the sick bay as he had expected. He was lying in his own bed with River staring worriedly down at him. Although, as his eyes fluttered open and he let out a groan, the worry turned to relief.
"Hello, sweetie," he said mockingly.
River just let out a little giggle and gave him a suspicious look. "So if you regenerated then why don't you look any different? Same floppy hair, same bowtie."
The Doctor smiled. "Is that all you have to say to me when I just saved your life?"
River didn't take the bait, only looked at him expectantly.
"Okay," he sighed, "you caught me. During regeneration, I focused on this form again."
She laughed brightly. "And why exactly was that."
"Because I know you like me this way," mumbled the Doctor, blushing.
River only rolled her eyes and said, "You are you. It doesn't matter what you look like."
"It's not just that." He looked worried now. "The last time I regenerated everything changed, including my… preferences. And emotions. I didn't want to change anything. I promised. Not one thing."
"You impossible man," she replied, laughing.
"A 'thank you' would be nice," he said sarcastically.
"Maybe later." At this, the Doctor rolled his eyes. He would never get River to do anything she didn't want to do. In a way, though, he kind of liked this.
"So are you feeling better?" she asked.
"Yes, I think so. All I needed was a little rest."
"Good. So I can do this." She punched him in the arm. "That was for risking your life, whether you saved me or not."
"I didn't just save you," he reminded her, "I gave you half of my regenerations. Now we're even."
Instead of brightening up like the Doctor had expected, River's face fell. "That just means more time in prison, sweetie. More time without you, waiting."
The Doctor lowered his voice. "River, eventually the universe will find out that I'm not actually dead, and when they do, I will be at Stormcage in a matter of seconds, hand outstretched for you to take."
"You know that this can't last forever, all this running around. It will have to end sometime, and when it does, I don't know if I'll be able to bear it."
The Doctor was quiet for a while before answering. "River, my River, it's not about the destination, but the journey. We have plenty of time. In fact, we're in a time machine. Just trust me."
River nodded, and they were both silent for a few moments. Then finally River broke the silence with her usual sarcastic cheeriness. "So what now?"
"I can think of a few things," said the Doctor with an impish grin.
River, catching on, just laughed. "Aren't I the one who usually suggests that? Besides, you're not well enough yet."
"Oh, I'm perfectly fine. In fact, I feel great," he said, sitting up.
The Doctor smiled. Challenge accepted. He stretched out his arm to grasp the back of her head and draw her closer. In doing so, he found that he actually did feel completely normal. At this, he brought his lips to hers and kissed her more passionately than usual, to show her this.
River broke away for only a second to say, "Okay, I believe you." Then she was kissing him again.
The Doctor pulled her onto the bed so that she lay on top of him. He began to slowly trail caresses down her neck and felt her warm breath in his hair. Then she looked up at him, cutting him short. "We've both just had near-death experiences, and this is how you respond? Not that I'm complaining."
"I don't see what happened as a near-death experience. From my point of view, you nearly died, while I was just…knocked out. The way I see it, the tragedy wasn't almost dying, but having to think for a few long minutes that you were gone…and it was all my fault." His voice was broken. It was clear that this was not something he had wanted to talk about, so she let it go.
It didn't matter that time was running out. Right now, River didn't care about all those lonely nights spent in Stormcage as she waited for her knight in shining armor. She wasn't thinking about that. For now, all she could do was focus on the journey, because she knew that if she didn't, the fear of the future would tear her apart.
Now here she was, slipping off the Doctor's jacket and suspenders, and tears began to trail down her face. However he didn't mind, as he was crying as well. But all that mattered was here. All that mattered was now. For all they cared, the world outside could be falling around them. If it was, neither of them would notice.
They were content to just pretend that life would just stay frozen like this, a frame from when they were so happy, but yet so sad. In his arms, River melted. At this moment, she forgave him for all those nights she was left in her cell to wonder if she'd ever see this version of him.
She trusted him completely, and vice versa. But there was one word that kept coming up, running itself around her mind, and she could not let it go: Forever.
I think I'm gonna set this story aside and start doing some one-shots for a while. Anyways, I do take suggestions.