A/N: My take on Forest of the Dead. Not an AU because it follows the script, but with a major plot changing deviation. Transcript from dr who transcripts dot blogspot dot com . All rights to Steven Moffat. This is 10/River/11
"We're all going to die right here and you're just squabbling like an old married couple!"
They both turned their heads sharply back, facing the other. He looked at her, seriously, searching her face, her eyes - her very soul - for anything. Anything at all. He tried hard not to think the thoughts coursing through his mind. The thoughts that arose with Lux's words. It would mean too much. It would mean so, so very much. So much that he could hardly even fathom.
The pained look on her face deepened as she explained to him vaguely that he needed to trust her, and that she was going to give him proof. Her hand trailed to his collar, just brushing it, and the lapel too. There was a tear in the corner of her eye, as she apologized - what for, he couldn't say - and pulled him closer to her. She lent in, lips just brushing his ear. His heightened senses picked up the echo beats as she lingered near his chest. The impossible.
So, so afraid of what he would hear. What she would say to him.
The sound of her voice in his ear…loving…such a whisper… the syllables, caressed by her voice, were liken to a stab in his hearts, coupled with the joy of…hope. Hope that would undoubtedly be shattered.
He paled, the blood draining from his face, eyes widened - barely perceptible, but there. Jaw slackened slightly. His mind was reeling. His…his…he'd heard…his…
His eyes pierced her soul. Searching. Searching. Desperately.
Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?
He wanted to scream it to the heavens till she was in full tears, telling him over and over who she was, just who she is. Was. Would be.
He couldn't breathe. He could feel his eyes begin to glisten.
He began to memorize her face - her glossy green orbs, her lips, and nose. Her hair.
He never wanted to forget.
Not even if he lived a thousand millennia.
It took him a moment to realize that she was speaking. "Doctor…Are we good?" She watched him with a hardened look in her startlingly sage eyes.
His mouth was so dry now… He could only nod, his mouth moved, but he couldn't make any sound, the shock settling in, deep in his heart. He swallowed. "Yeah. We're good,"
His eyes never left her. He couldn't look away.
"Good," She bowed her head resignedly, something in her eyes, in her manner, which called to his lonely soul so urgently, then took the proffered screwdriver from his hand and walked away.
He could not move. Only his eyes followed her.
But there wasn't time now to think about what she had said. About the word that could break his hearts, and shock his being.
He hopped to, rambling reluctantly on, thoughts still in that one moment. The moment when he was sure that a tear would fall, glistening from her eye, and break his hearts, without him even understanding why.
There wasn't ever enough time.
His head was reeling as he lifted his head from the cold concrete, the blood pounding in his ears. And just out of his sight range… He glanced up.
"Oh, no, no, no, no, come on, what are you doing? That's my job!"
"Oh, and I'm not allowed to have a career, I suppose?"
"Why am I handcuffed? Why do you even have handcuffs?" he asked her incredulously, tugging at the chaffing metal.
She only smiled back at him, a little sadly. "Spoilers!"
"This is not a joke, stop this now, this is gonna kill you!" He cried out desperately, straining at his confinement. I'd have a chance, you don't have any." He could feel his cheeks growing hot in anger, frustration.
"You wouldn't have a chance, and neither do I!" Her smile had gone, and her anger with him was showing through. "I'm timing it for the end of the countdown, there'll be a blip in the command flow. That way it should improve our chances of a clean download," She spoke in a businesslike manner, removing as much emotion as she could from her statement. It didn't make any difference.
"River! Please! No!" His emotions were in utter shambles now, his jaw clenching tight to keep from wavering. As he looked at her, he knew that she was no better than he.
"Funny thing is, this means you've always known how I was going to die. All the time we've been together, you knew I was coming here. The last time I saw you, the real you, the future you, I mean - you turned up on my doorstep, with a new haircut and a suit," Her voice had begun to quaver. You took me to Darillium to see the singing towers. Oh, what a night that was! The towers sang, and you cried,"
He felt ill. The automated voice of the computer wasn't helping. One minute. One minute until he was alone forever.
"You wouldn't tell me why, but I suppose you knew it was time. My time. Time to come to the Library. You even gave me your screwdriver - that should've been a clue."
The moment she said it, he surged forward, straining at the cuffs, reaching with all his might for a screwdriver. Any screwdriver! Both were lying just feet away, along with her TARDIS blue diary. He channeled all his strength towards them, but to no avail.
She shook her head . "There's nothing you can do,"
"You can let me do this!" he had stopped fighting the cuffs, but his hearts were beating frantically, his shouts still desperate.
"If you die here, it'll mean I've never met you!" She was so determined. He could see it in her eyes.
"Time can be rewritten!" he was trying to convince her. Trying so hard. So, so hard. Please don't do this to me. Please…oh god, please no…
"Not those times. Not one line! Don't you dare! " She was crying now, the tears running silently down her face, leaving glistening tracks. Strong Determined Professor Song in tears. "It's okay. It's okay, it's not over for you. You'll see me again. You've got all of that to come. You and me, time and space. You watch us run. You watch us run,"
He hadn't planned on saying anything at all up until that moment. The heart wrenching moment when he realized…when he had to clench his teeth to keep from sobbing. All thoughts of lasting companionship…love…flitting out of his mind in one fell swoop.
"River. You know my name…"he strained "You whispered my name in my ear. There's only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There's only one time I could-"
"Hush now…spoilers," She shushed him in a gasping, voice between her gentle sobs, smiling at him tenderly, his deepest sorrows reflected in her eyes. Spoilers. He hated the word already.
He had only just found her. And she would be gone. Gone forever. And he would be alone again. So very alone.
In less than a nanosecond, he had broken free. He didn't know how, or where the strength had come from, but the cuffs shattered around his wrist, and he was sprinting forward, his arms outstretched, hands reaching desperately to connect with her tear stained face.
She had dual heart. With their combined memory space…
He was yelling her name, and her eyes were wide, he mouth open in a silent no, but still she drew the connectors closer together.
The moment they met, his hands reached her face, fingertips pressed gently at her temples, her mind open to his, and melded into one.
The light was blinding, but in a moment it was over, their memory imprints grasping each other tightly, clinging, safe in the deepest recesses of their combined Time Lord Minds.
He felt so at home, his mind enveloped in the buzzing warmth of that of his fellow Gallifreyan's. And he saw. He tried not to, but that was nearly impossible.
There was a young man. A lanky gangly sort with floppy brown hair wearing tweed and…a bowtie? Then suddenly he was in a tuxedo, complete with white scarf cane (he knew innately that it was sonic) and top hat. River was there, in his arms. The Towers, the Singing Towers, they flashed before his eyes, and then the young man, weeping. Ever so silently into Rivers shoulder, hands tanged in her glorious mane of hair.
So this was the 'real' him. A flurry of muted words and the older him went Rabbit eyed, his hand trailing gently over her stomach. No. Oh god no. No no no no no no no no no…Outside of his mind, his tears were streaming silently now. Real tears. His own.
The vision continued. Later, he what he perceived was a regenerated TARDIS, his older self was destroying the games room in a grief fueled rage. River was watching him secretly, till he broke down out of sheer exhaustion…the pain and sorrow overwhelming his older self. He watched this self simply drop to the floor, the destruction evident all around him, shuddering, weeping.
His memory imprint blinked, and hers was there before him -the hallway of memory doors all closed - shaking, reaching out to him. He did not hesitate to go to her, and they held eachother, tightly, his arms hugging her around her stomach.
A natural born time lord child. A Gallifreyan Child.
The first in Eons.
Four heartbeats became six.
A niggling in his consciousness brought him back to awareness, and the Doctor opened his eyes. He could feel the hot tear tracks on his face, his lashes heavy with droplets. His head ached, and he noted that he had fallen to his knees before her, hands securely at her temples.
Donna was watching him, worriedly. "What in bloody 'ell just happened?"
He hadn't moved, breathing in quick sharp bursts. "I…I saved. She's safe. She's safe. She's in there, protecting herself," he stated hoarsely, only then realizing that both of them were smoking from the energy of the memory transfer.
He could hear other voices. Lots of them.
"And she's saved you. All of you. All 4023 of you. You're all safe,"
Donna cocked her head when the familiar noise permeated the hum of the computer systems. "Is that…?"
He turned his head to the side as he watched his beloved blue box materialize and the gangly older him step out, looking at little frantic.
"Oi! Who are-"
"Donna! Donna Noble! The most important woman in the universe, my best mate Donna Noble!" and his other self embraced her tightly.
He smiled at her before rushing forward towards himself and his coma-like wife. Lifting the headset from her ringlets he murmured to her gently, only thing that his younger self could hear. "Oh honey, what have you done to yourself? Why couldn't you have let me, hmm?" and began to unhook her suit from the components. "Me," he said louder "Would you mind helping yourself to get her out of here?"
The younger Doctor nodded, lifting his hands from her face gently, beginning to unscrew the wires rapidly. "Which regeneration?"
"Eleventh, I'm 1,223 years old right now," He locked his own gaze. "But don't worry, you have a while yet,"
When the last wire dropped limply to the ground, The Doctor went to lift her from the chair, but his older self pushed past him, one hand to her temple, and the other…
"Well, both are physically alright. She did manage to protect the baby, or rather, we both did, didn't we?"
Her eyes fluttered open, and The Doctor turned to glance at Donna, who was watching the scene openmouthed.
"Hello my love," She was weak, he could tell, and he knew his older self could too. They both watched as he caressed the side of her face gently.
"Hi, Honey, I'm home," His softly murmured reply reached both their ears.
"And what sort of time would you call this?"
"The perfect time, dear," She chuckled lightly, and Donna smiled, leaning into her Doctor's side. "You're a bit cheezy, aren't you? But it's sweet,"
That new regeneration doesn't look as though it'd hold true Gallifreyan strength, but he and Donna watch himself lift her easily into his arms, and her eyes flutter closed, her head on his shoulder, breathing lightly. Exhaused. He watched her a moment, such a precious thing to him.
He looked up at himself and Donna, a small smile on his lips.
"Into the TARDIS then! I need someone to get the door. Just snap, right-o?"
His younger self obliged.
"I'll be back in a mo!" he called back at them from over his shoulder as he disappeared into the blue box. And he did. Looking very serious, he stepped back out of the door, brushing his jacket off a little. "Well then, down to business. I need to wipe your memories of this event. Both of you. And I'm really very sorry. But I can't rewrite a word. I don't' dare. River would have a fit at us and then where would we be? Banned from the bedroom, that's where!" he exclaimed, a brightening smile on his face. I fell promptly. "Oh. That was probably more than you needed to know. Anyways, I need to your your memories because I don't remember any of this ever having happened. Which means that I can't remember it until after Darillium," He steepled his fingers in a scholarly way. "Any last questions before I ruin my own day?"
Donna hesitated. "Are you two married, or what?"
"Yes. River is my wife," The redhead clapped her hands a little in response. "See! What did I say? Never alone. Not really!"
The Doctor only glanced up at his older self, a fearful look in his eyes. "Is she…"
"Dual hearts. You felt it yourself. And TimeLordy sensey things are never wrong,"
"But how?" he gasped the words, exasperated.
"It has been and will be and is a long and convoluted, and painful journey. She's back to your front, and I'm front to her back. Never meeting in the right order. But once I get here, everything changes. My time with her will be linear now. I'm never alone. Not when I have her. Not when I have a family,"
He turned to Donna, a tender look on his face, and rushes to her, hugging her again. "You are the most important woman in the universe, and you're going to forget that in a bit, but don't let that hold you back or down. You are so, so great, Donna. You will be and have been so magnificent. You won't ever stop. Generations will sing your name on their homeworlds, and will never ever forget you. And that is all that really matters. But the one thing I don't ever, ever want you to forget -"He took the sides of her face between his hands "- is that you are amazing. No matter what you do, and who you will be and are, you, Donna Noble, are magnificent. My best mate. And I will never, ever, forget you,"
She surged to the floor, unconscious, a single happy tear running down one cheek. The Doctor turned to his younger self.
"Re-cuff yourself. Then I'll wipe your memories. But the important thing to remember is this. Her body is gone. Her body is gone. Also, to keep up appearances, the data relay is in her sonic. Hopefully you'll get that niggling at the back of your head, or I'll really be in bad shape. But don't worry, because I'm going to be a daddy again!"
"Good on us mate, eh?"
His older self extended his hand and his younger self black out, cuffed once more to the bars.
The Doctor surveyed the scene. Closing his eyes briefly, and saw the white light flashing, blinding him. The memories still in tact.
Stepping back into the TARDIS, he sighed, talking in his wife's form. She lay sleeping on the control room couch.
"Sorry I took so long dear," He walked to her and lifted her into his lap, his TARDIS taking off without him manning the controls. They'll go where they need to. He knew that. And from now on, they would be linear. But nothing lasted forever. He kissed her forehead tenderly.
The blinding white light engulfed River's form, and he had to look away from it. Two terrible truths came crashing down on him so terribly that even his glistening eyes dried. He slumped, defeated.
She was lost forever.
He was well and truly alone.
The very, very last.
His hearts broke in two.
When Donna found him, he was staring blankly at the place where she had sat, her body atomized in the energy flow.
At first Donna didn't understand. He was so still, so silent, that she almost thought he was dead too. Pressing her lips into a set line, she took the needed steps, reached down and picked up the sonic before turning to face him.
She held it out, but he didn't reach for it, not right away. He simply stared at the place where, such a short time ago, the woman had sat, so full of lethality, and life. Donna had no idea of what had transpired between the in her last moments, but something told her that River Song would be someone the Doctor would never ever forget, no matter how hard he tried.
He blinked. The fluttering sort. And the corners of his mouth were draw downwards. He looked so forlorn, and she could see the single tear roll down his cheek. A minute later he took the screwdriver from her proffered hand, soniced himself free of the cuffs, and proceeded to stuff them in his pocket.
He leaned down and collected the other screwdriver and the TARDIS blue diary, taking one last glance at the place where she had sat when he thought that Donna wasn't looking. He took the lead, and strode away, Donna following.
It took about two full days for him to get back to himself. The first day, he hardly said a word, and Donna knew that whatever River had said had had a profound effect on him, and her death had hurt him deeply, even if he had saved a memory of her inside the computer there. The second day he had put on a façade. He giggled too much, and smiled too wide, and behind his eyes there lay a deadened look. It seared her heart to see him in such a way. So broken. She could only imagine how he must have been after the time war.
The Doctor never got sick, but in one of his rare lucid moments, he'd been able to tell Donna that it was the exception to the rule. He had then promptly descended back into delirium, but not before telling her where in the TARDIS to find the remedy to his ailment. When she returned with it, he was ashen on his supposed 'bed', eyes wide, and jaw clenched, breathing erratically.
"Donna!" he called to her frantically. "She had two hearts! I could feel them, Donna! Two hearts! Like me! River Song. And she knew my name. But she's dead…dead…I'm…I'm so alone. Alone again. The very last! For a moment, just one moment…I think…god, I had hope…She's dead…dead…"
"Oh Spaceman," She said softly as he fell back against the pillows. "You'll never be alone. You've got me, and you've got all those people out there, who love you so much. Care about you despite God knows what. All those that traveled with you before. All that might travel with you in the future. You'll never be alone. I promise. I promise,"