Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who, but you've got to admit, that would be pretty cool.

The Doctor knew this would happen eventually. There was no way around it. Up until now it had just been a question of when. Most of the time he didn't think about it; he couldn't. As long as it hadn't happen yet, he could pretend that it never would.

But now reality was staring him in the face, and he couldn't ignore it: River Song had relapsed. There was no way of avoiding it in the end, only putting it off. After all, she had been trained and conditioned for years and years. Knowledge like that just doesn't disappear.

Now here he was, standing before her, the woman he loved. He loved her even as she aimed the gun at him from across the console room.

It had taken less than he'd thought to set her off. He was simply joking when he asked her about the wait. In retrospect, he had left her in Stormcage for nearly a year without any visits. Of course, he hadn't meant to, and he understood why she was upset, but he just didn't know that this would be enough to light the fuse.

It's not her fault, he thought. She's only doing what she was trained to do. Blame the Silence. They're the ones who made her into this.

"River," he tried hesitantly. "River, I'm so, so sorry. I know you're angry, and I know you're upset, but please just listen to me."

She remained silent as she cocked her weapon. He could see the far-away look in her eyes that indicated that she was listening to the words of her teachers from years ago: Kill the Doctor.

"River, you don't have to do this. This isn't you. Please, if you're anywhere in there, just listen to me, please!" Tears were now making their way into his eyes, but not because of his proximity to death. He was crying because of what they had made her. The Silence had ruined her life, and he had only been able to save it for a couple of years. He was crying because he didn't know if he would be able to flip the switch again.

After several minutes without a response from River, the Doctor sank to his knees in defeat, tears now streaming down his cheeks. "I know… I know that I'll have to die someday. I've been running for way too long, but it will have to be over sometime. And you…, you can't regenerate anymore anyway. After that, what will I have to live for anyway?"

He ducked his head and whispered, "Go ahead. I'm ready."

Something in his words must have sunk in deep enough through the angry storm clouds in River's head. Something he had said had brought out her new self. She realized that throughout the last few minutes she had not been River Song. She had been Melody Pond, the scared, brainwashed child bent on accomplishing the will of the Silence. As soon as she understood this, she was able to clear her head and let the light in.

She dropped her gun, and when she did, the Doctor looked up at her. Now she was the one with tears streaming. As she looked at him, her impossible man, she was struck by the gravity of what she had almost done.

She rushed to sit next to him on the floor and threw her arms around him. The Doctor returned the gesture, and they simply sat there for a while, just grateful to have each other, if only for that moment.

After a few minutes, River was finally able to stammer out, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

When the Doctor was finally able to speak he repeated the words he had used before, and he still meant them with all his heart. "You are forgiven, always and completely forgiven."

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