A Good Man

Disclaimer: I own it not, innit.

Author's Note: This is just a little one-shot that has been banging about in my head for absolutely ages and has now staged a sit-in until I write it. So write it I shall. Hope you all enjoy…

The Doctor sighed deeply as he stepped forwards, pushing the creaking door and cursing inwardly at the squeaking floorboards that threatened to give away his arrival. He knew this was a really stupid idea. Even by his standards, and he had a lot of stupid ideas, this was a really stupid idea. There were rules. Not those rules-are-made-to-be-broken type of rules but those rules-that-were-there-to stop-the universe-from-being-pulled-apart-and-time-from-being-re-written type of rules. That was one of these rules that he was breaking. It was stupid and wrong and he knew that he shouldn't be doing it but he just couldn't stop himself. One last time, he promised himself as he stepped forward, just this one last time. He promised himself that every time he came back.

His breath caught in his chest as he saw her lying there, fast asleep and oblivious. He didn't want to speak to her, didn't want to change anything, but sometimes he just needed to see her face again. No, that was a lie. He always needed to see her face again but sometimes he was weak enough to give in to those needs. To risk everything for a few moments of watching the woman he loved sleep, just one last time. As he sat gently on the edge of her bed he resisted the urge to reach out and stroke her face. She was so young here, she barely knew him, and yet he knew everything about her- knew every second of the life she would lead and still he could never get enough. Her diary lay on her bedside table, open and displaying her secrets to the world. He glanced down at the crisp white pages because it didn't matter, not any more. There were no spoilers for him now. Only memories that seemed so very long ago.

I am River Song.

And I am looking for a good man.

The words jumped up at him, burned behind his eyelids as he tried to blink them away. So it was that early. The very first page. When he'd told her who she should be and then left her to look for him. A good man. He almost laughed at the very idea. If he was good, in any sense of the word, he would never have done this to her. If he had any sense of moral decency he would have run away, run so far that she forgot about him and moved on. He'd ruined her whole life. She'd been taken away from her parents because of him, grown to hate him, to want to destroy him and then to love him more than anything else. More than anyone should ever be allowed to love a selfish old man who causes nothing but pain wherever he goes.

He should have just died when he was supposed to. That's what a good man would have done. Let her go, let her just kill him and be free from his memory. But he was too selfish. He'd made it so she was programmed to kill him, to spend her life in prison for killing a man but he was the one who made her willing to sacrifice her life for him, to spend every day in prison for a crime she never committed to save a man she loved. She had to lie, to have everyone believe she had done something truly awful, just so he could save his own skin. And she'd been so willing. That was the worst bit. Every adventure, every time he'd asked her to risk her neck for him with no real explanation she'd been there, smiling and nodding. Never questioning. Because he was the Doctor- and she trusted him more than anything.

If there was one thing he knew by now, one thing he could guarantee above all others, it was that she should never have trusted him. He'd stolen her life and brought about her death. He looked down at her now, so young and naïve, and felt tears sting his eyes. She would never change a second of it. He'd made her love this life, made her willing to sacrifice herself to make sure it happened exactly as it should. He'd shown her the stars, given her everything he ever could give to someone and she'd had to die to make sure she got it again. He'd turned her into a junkie- dying to get her fix of him. She would never change it, none of it, he knew that.

He would change it though. He'd go back and undo it all so that she could live an ordinary life, so that she could raise children and see them grow old, so that she could be free to do whatever she wanted without his hand constantly steering her every choice. He would do that. But could he? Could he give up the only woman who'd ever understood him completely, who'd challenged him in every way he could think of and who made him feel more alive than he'd felt for all of the previous nine hundred years? He couldn't. The companionship, the love that she'd given him was more than he could ever give up. She was everything to him and he was too selfish, too lonely, too damn afraid to even contemplate his life without her. And that, more than anything, was why he could never be a good man. He could never do the right thing. Not if it meant letting go of the only thing that had ever felt right.

"Doctor?" He jumped as he heard her whisper his name. Her eyelids fluttered as she turned over lightly in her sleep and he let out a long breath he didn't know he'd been holding. She'd been dreaming, of course, dreaming of him. He'd taken over her life and now he was weaving himself into one of her dreams.

"Goodnight River." He breathed lightly as he eased himself off the bed and crept back towards the door. He could never let her go, he knew that all too well, and he couldn't save her. He'd tried that, tried everything he could think of to get her back but it couldn't be done. She was gone forever. But he knew that every day he was with her, and every day after he lost her, he would try to make it up to her. He would never be what she deserved because she deserved so much more than he would ever be. Every day though, he promised himself, every single day he'd try to make it better. He would never stop apologising for never being the good man she was looking for.

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