Set during 'The God Complex'. The Doctor peeks into his room and sees something that wrenches his heart. River/Doctor. Pre-wedding, post AGMGTW.


They were trapped in a more-than-creepy hotel and weren't getting out any time soon. Being separated from his beloved TARDIS was scary enough, it terrified him a lot more than he let on, but it was what was behind his own door that sent waves of chilled fear through his body and mind.

He hadn't looked yet. But having been alive for pretty much a thousand years now, he knew himself inside out, upside down, in every position and in every situation. And it scared him.

He had weaknesses. He had to make choices a lot more than he would have liked. It fell to him in so many situations, when humans couldn't protect themselves and it was his instinct to save them.

They were always brave. Sarah-Jane had been brave. Rose had been strong despite being ripped so violently from him by time. Martha had transformed into an independent, take-no-prisoners character before his eyes. Donna – oh, Donna Noble – the memory of her brought tears to his eyes every time he thought of her; her life had been not only transformed but improved because of her time with him. She was one of the most important people in this universe and the pure injustice of the fact that she could now never remember him, because of his mistake, tore at his insides.

Amy and Rory had brought a new dimension to time travel. He'd learned from them and they'd learned from him. And they were stuck with him in this hotel. Amy's baby had been taken away because of him... Although she would grow up to be River.

River Song, who brought a smile to his face no matter where they were. River Song, who he'd thought was just another human he would save in that library. The River Song who had knocked him sideways (in more ways than one) by revealing that she already knew him and had whispered his name in his ear. He was so painfully curious of their relationship. When she'd sacrificed herself with no hesitiation for him, with a bright smile and a tear running down her cheek, he'd realised just how much he must have meant to her. And so he loved her. Not in a romantic way yet, though she'd kissed him. It had been great, of course, just unexpected. The look on her face when she'd realised it was her last kiss had caused him to spend a couple of hours crying (he couldn't be strong all the time) and punching various things in his room. He wanted to save her so badly, but he knew how it ended. As if that wasn't heartwrenching enough, he had to travel with her parents, to whom he could not possibly tell her ending.

He was responsible for so much heartache, so many tears, and so many screams of anguish.

So when he came to his door, he was unsure of what would be in there. Would it be all of his companions together, reminding him of how many mistakes he'd made and how flawed he was? With a grimace he opened it.

River.

Being tortured.

She was strapped into a wooden chair and Madame Kovarian was using some kind of pain-inflicting gun.

Tears pricked his eyes as he shouted 'NO!... DO NOT HARM HER'

He entered the room, aware of how dangerous this was. But he had to help her. She'd saved his life, he'd saved hers... But she'd paid the greatest debt of all, and for him! So he had to save her.

He reached to untie her. But his fingers went straight through the strap and her arm.

It was all holographic. He could only stand and watch as more and more tears streamed down her cheeks and she cried out in pain.

But he had to save her. Make sure she was ok.

He closed the door and was astounded by what he saw. The TARDIS was right in front of him. He wanted to go and find Amy and Rory but he would't find the TARDIS again if he did. And he needed to see River. He took it as a sign from the TARDIS, it was as if she was telling him to go and see River.

Minutes later he opened the door to see River, laying on her bed humming, in her prison cell.

She gasped when she saw him and a massive grin lit up her features.

'Hello Sweetie' she said, fairly tentatively.

'Hello' he replied, relieved. 'Get in River, we're going to a different planet'

She didn't hesitate at all. He soniced her door open and took her by the hand. Pulling her gently into the TARDIS he smiled and relaxed slightly. 'Ah, River, where are we?'

'I've just done Demon's Run...' she said almost questioningly.

'Yes I've done that. I've done Berlin'

'Oh, God. Sorry, again'

'Don't be sorry, you saved me'. And not for the last time, he thought, looking down at the floor.

'Where else have we done?' she asked.

'Spoilers'. She made a face at him and he just smiled.

They arrived and he signalled for her to open the door. She giggled when she did.

'It's stripy!' he chuckled at the delight in her voice, the happiness. No pain.

'Yes it is' he said excitedly, walking to join her just outside the door. 'How amazing is a stripy world?'

He locked the TARDIS and they walked leisurely to a hilltop with a single oak tree. When they reached the top, River sighed in wonder. Their view was of a stripy landscape – heart-shaped stripy trees, the branches forming the shapes – and fields of different coloured stripes. There were even blue and white striped sheep with black and white striped faces.

River gave the Doctor a generous, amused smile when he handed her a striped scarf to wear as it was evening, and though it wasn't that chilly, the sensation of the silk on her neck was pleasant.

'So, is there any reason you brought me here, sweetie?' River asked.

'Well... let's just say that I realised today how much you mean to me'. River opened her mouth to say something but he stopped her with a fingertip. 'Just listen' he smiled. 'When I first met you, you knew everything about me and at first that was scary but then... you did something incredible River, I can't tell you – spoilers – but you amazed me. And I feel so in debt to you because of your help when I've needed it, you've known so much about me pretty much every time I've met you so far and through the things you do I can see how much I mean to you. I saw something today, a kind of vision, and you were being harmed'. He paused, willing the tears threatening to leak out of his eyes to go away. 'And I couldn't stop it, so I had to come and see you to make sure you were ok and I just want you to know River that I -'

'Shh, sweetie, you're rambling'

'You know how much I ramble, River. I care about you. A lot.' he could see her eyes sparkling with tears too. She stayed silent, and he entwined a hand in her hair. Slowly pulling her face closer, he whispered 'Close your eyes' and she did so without a second's hesitation. Very softly, he pressed his lips to hers and closed his eyes. He felt her intake of breath and her lips pressed firmly against his. Her hand cupped his cheek as she kissed him back willingly, then moved round to the back of his neck and stroked his hair.

They kissed slowly, making the most of their privacy. The Doctor felt the respect and intimacy between them and his hearts were filled with wonder; this woman loved him (he had proof) and in the giddy moments just after they broke apart, he started to entertain the idea that he might just love her back.


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