You Watch Us Run
He stood, turning on the computer, his fingers ever so slowly pulling River's data file up on the screen. He stared at his screwdriver, his nervous fingertips running over it. This was it, the moment he'd been working toward since Darillium. He looked from his not-yet-River, to the computer, to the screwdriver, and back again. His eyes closed, and he brought up that image of her, the one he'd so carefully locked away in his mind, the one he had from Darillium. He could see River in all her perfection, with her gorgeous laugh, her crinkly-nose-grin, and her mad hair, staring up with him with love-filled blue eyes, completely trusting, completely his. He inhaled deeply, preparing himself, remembering that rose and vanilla shampoo, the feel of her soft kiss, her hand slipped in his. No matter what happened here, that was how he wanted to remember her. Even if she…even if…
Even if this didn't work. He looked back at the not-yet-River, looking so peaceful on the floor. He longed for her to open her eyes…to say "Hello Sweetie." Tears spilled down his cheeks as he longed to hear her voice… just one more time.
"I'd better make sure this works then, hmm?" He mumbled to himself.
Slowly, but surely, he pressed the sonic into the computer drive, watching as the electricity sped up and down the instrument, capturing everything River Song was and had been inside. The communicator had full bars.
He rushed toward not-yet-River. Kneeling on floor, he unlatched the end of the screwdriver and jammed the neural connector into it. The electricity visibly traveled from the screwdriver to not-yet-River's brain. The Data Ghost was gone… he could only hope that was a good sign. He didn't see the shadow moving toward them.
"C'mon River… wave up, Love… please…" He leaned over her, stroking her hair, willing her to open her eyes. She was still cold. He pressed his ear close to his chest and felt no reassuring beat of twin hearts… then, he caught the shadow out of the corner of his eye. "No, no, no! Not today!" He stood, picking up River in his arms, "C'mon, River! Let's run!"
Run he did. He flew through the library, the shadows closing in on the Time Lord on every side. The TARDIS was in sight… just a little farther.
He got in, slamming the door shut and locking it with his sonic. He laid River down on the couch and rushed to the controls, hearing the familiar grinding of the TARDIS engines as they took off.
"River, no… you can't do this to me, c'mon River!" He bent over her frantically, interlacing his fingers and pumping down on her chest. "C'mon River! You can do this! Please!" Pumping first one heart and then the other, he could hardly think. His lips frantically met hers, breathing into her lungs, praying it would be enough. "Please, River, please…" He kept crying that out with ever press, every breath he had in his body. He needed her to live. He needed her.
It was a full five minutes before he realized they had landed… a full fifteen before he realized that his ministrations and pleas were doing absolutely no good. He refused to give up. He kept going, even while his rational mind told him she was gone. He refused to believe that. He just kept whispering her name over and over, willing her the take a breath, willing her to open her eyes.
He was back in the library, trying to figure out what was wrong with his screwdriver. River had walked up to him, taking off her space-suit gloves. "What's wrong with it?"
"The signal, something's interfering with it." He had said in puzzlement.
"Use the red settings."
"It doesn't have red settings!"
"Then use the dampers."
"It doesn't have dampers!"
She had pulled out her version of his sonic, "It will one day."
He stood, taking the screwdriver from her hand and looking at it in puzzlement, "So, sometime in the future I just… give you my screwdriver."
She nodded, "Yeah."
"Why would I do that?"
She had smiled in bemusement… almost in understanding, "I didn't pluck it from a cold dead hand, if that's what you're worried about."
The Doctor had looked at her in utter disbelief, "And I'd know that because?"
That day, a few minutes after their little squabble… she'd told him his name. She'd whispered it in his ear. River loved him. She had fought for him. She'd fought herself for him, her upbringing, her demons, everything. She cared about him that much. He didn't deserve her, but he needed her. She was one of the most important people in his life and damn it for taking her death to make him realize that!
Finally, his rational side overtook his emotional one. He stopped, realizing it was no use. River was dead. It was over, their story was ended. Time had finally caught up with them, the Time-Lord and his wife, and he wasn't sure he was going to be able to deal with it.
He sat back against the wall, facing River… his River, in the flesh as of now. Had he done the right thing? He probably would never know. He reached forward, lacing his fingers through that wonderful hair of hers like he had on their last night together, the other taking her delicate hand in his large, clumsy one, squeezing it tightly. This was it, the second and final death of River Song… and yet he couldn't bring himself to accept that he'd failed. It just wasn't right, somehow, everything was all timey-wimey, topsy-turvy, out-of-place. He smiled to himself through tears… River had a way of doing that.
He kissed her forehead, a hot, salty tear landing on her cheek, his hearts refusing to accept her fate. In spite of himself, even in the knowledge that she couldn't hear him anymore… he spoke. "Right before you died…I said to you, that night at the library, when we were running and you were in that blasted screwdriver, 'Stay with me, one last run!'" He paused, choking back a sob, a pained half-smile, half grimace spread across his face as he stared into her own, peaceful one, "But River, you of all people should know… the Doctor lies." He stroked her cheek, pressing his forehead to hers, breathing in, breathing out. Deep breaths… trying very hard not to cry. He needed her… he needed her so very, very much. She couldn't die now, not today. "We've still got a lot of running, you and I, time and space…" He paused, closing his eyes. Sliding one hand under the nape of her neck, he placed the other on her waist as he pressed his forehead further into hers. He whispered, "River Song, you watch us run!"
Unwilling tears fell from him to her, sliding down his face as he held her close, unable to let her go. He had tried to be brave, and yet… somehow he couldn't quite manage it as well as she could. He couldn't let her die, he couldn't give her up. He refused to. Yet… she was gone anyway.
He thought he'd gone properly mad when her arms wrapped around his body, he daren't open his eyes… he was hallucinating, he was sure… it was the grief, the shock of her death. He was mad… he was really, really, completely and totally mad! River was dead! This was just a hallucination… something…There came a sweet, mischievous giggle from under him, "You know, if you wanted to be on top, all you had to do was ask."
He started, realizing he hadn't moved. That was most definitely, assuredly River. He opened his eyes and was met with the brightest blue. His eyes opened wider in shock. She smiled. "You horrible, wonderful, impossible man… you just can't let me go, can you?"
He sat up, moving his hand to her hair, not believing his eyes. All he could manage was a pathetic, "River? I-I… uh..you were, you were..y- you.. ah…what?"
She laughed again, her face bright and foxy as ever, looking coyly at him, "Yes, it's me. You did it… my madman in a box. I always knew you'd find a way." She cupped his cheek gently.
The Doctor's arms wrapped around her, he needed to feel her… he still wasn't sure if this could be true. She answered his inner doubts with a kiss.
He sat back, looking at her in shock and exhilaration and absolute confusion. His hands were all over her, trying to contemplate how she could possibly be alive. "Two eyes, yes… hair… two arms, two legs…lips…"
She laughed, shaking her head, fondly straightening his mussed bow-tie,"I'm all here, Love."
Finally, he couldn't hold back any longer, he exclaimed, "How?"
"What do you mean, how? You saved me!"
"No-I…" He paused, "I failed… I couldn't revive you… you were dead!"
She giggled mischievously, her nose wrinkling in mirth. "Funny thing, I can stop my hearts in this body."
He could have smacked her, "River… you… you…" He made a sound of frustration, "Augh! I hate you!"
River laughed outright, kissing him gently, "No you don't."
He shook his head, pulling her close, "You impossible woman, what am I going to do with you?" She was still very much so his impish, amazing, timey-wimey River. He swore from now on he was never, ever going to let her out of his sight. Oh, she'd wander off, restraining River was like trying to hold back the tide. But that didn't mean he wouldn't follow her to the ends of the earth. His arms encircled her, stroking one thumb over her back, the fingers of his other hand twisting spirals in her curls. Then, a thought suddenly occurred to him, his eyes opening wide. "River… you know what?"
"Hmm?" She had her head leaned safely on his chest, making up for the lost time by simply enjoying his touch.
"It's our wedding anniversary."
She laughed into his shoulder, "So it is. You know what else, Doctor?"
She looked up at him, a smile playing on her lips, "We're in exactly the right order now."
He smiled down at her, "Why, yes… I suppose we are."
She leaned into his arms, satisfied that she was finally, at last safe with her Doctor. She didn't care how much it had cost her… because in the end, that cost amounted to nothing. "So, I heard we have lots of running to do… You and I in the TARDIS… next stop, everywhere."
"When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it'll never end. But however hard you try you can't run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepts it. Everybody knows that everybody dies... But not every day. Not today. Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all. Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days, when the wind stands fair, and the Doctor comes to call... everybody lives." – River Song, The Forest of the Dead