Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who. If I did, River wouldn't be stuck in a computer, she'd be out with the Doctor shooting his hats and helping him save the world.
A/N: So, here it is! (Finally!) The final fic in my oneshot series "A Thousand Years". Chances are, if you haven't read my other fics (Held By Your Gravity, Beauty From Pain) you probably won't get this one, or at least it won't be quite as meaningful, so please go read those and then come back and read this one if you haven't read them. The whole point of this oneshot series was to explore how River came to trust the Doctor as much as she did. I always wondered how she went from his bespoke psychopath to being willing to jump out of a building, knowing he'd always be there to catch her. This fic is really, basically, fluff/hurt-comfort... so feel free to squee or cry or do whatever you as a fangirl (or fanboy?) like to do. Or not. But I fangirled writing this... so It'd be nice to know I'm not alone. (Hint hint, press the Review button when you're done) LOL. SO. I'll shut up now, and without further ado... READ!
Always and Completely
River stepped into the TARDIS. Her mind was exhausted, her body was fatigued, and she was just downright tired. The usual sparkle in her eye and ever-present foxy smile on her face were wiped clean off. She leaned against the wall, putting a hand to her pounding head. If the Doctor came in with his stupid hyperactive grin she swore was going to slap it right off his face and then shoot it six times. Bed… sleep. She ambled down the halls to where her room waited, looking forward to a warm cuppa and soft bed to crash on. Her mind was focused on one thing… sleep. And it was a wonder in itself that it was focused in any respect, she'd been awake for three days straight without caffeine and was about ready to flop. She'd have to hurry if she was even going to make it to her room, the floor was looking increasingly inviting. Everything was a blur, her eyes too overused. Her head sounded like it had a million little Doctors running around in tweed jackets and bowties whacking tiny hammers into the over-tired walls of her skull. Just a little farther…
She opened the door to her room, fully expecting to promptly flop onto her bed and not get up for a week. But… no… her bed was gone. Wait…what? What? Her room, her lovely green and white room, with its amazing, soft, glorious bed was completely gone. It was now a brown color, considerably smaller, and was filled with… bowties?
"Oh you've got to be joking…" She rolled her eyes, pressed a finger to her temple and then shouted as loud as she could, "Doctor!"
She heard the patter of feet on the TARDIS floors, the Doctor was careening as fast as he could in her direction. She saw him run down the hall, spy her, and then promptly skid to a halt, his hair flopping around his rather red face. He smiled at her with that stupid grin… oh she was so going to… her thoughts were interrupted by his exasperatingly cheery voice. "Ah! You're back!"
"Doctor, I'm tired… Where is my room? Where is my bed?"
He raised his hands defensively, "Ah, yes, that… I-I moved it to the other side of the TARDIS."
"That's half a mile walk!"
The Doctor stood there, looking rather stunned as she stared back at River, taking in her mad hair splayed about her face and her blue eyes that were cold, wide and glaring. He rubbed his jaw… man that woman had one heck of a slap!
"I-I know, sorry… it's just that… It's your birthday –"
"Yes. It is." She grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket, "I have been up for three days straight chasing a cybermat all around the galaxy. I'm tired, it's my birthday… and I want to sleep! So if you'll be so kind, Doctor, take me to the nearest bed or so help me I will shoot every single bowtie in this room and throw them out the TARDIS into deep space!"
The Doctor was about ready to cry, here he was, with a lovely surprise in store for her… all he wanted for today was to make it special for her, and of course… being the silly man he was, he was just making it worse. He put a hand on her back, "Right, I'm sorry… of course you're tired. Now let's just calm you down and get you to the guest room, dear, hmm?"
River's eyes closed, she'd spent the last of her waking energy yelling at her husband and the effects of the adrenaline from all that running and her anger were quickly wearing off. She leaned a shoulder on the TARDIS walls, feeling extremely dizzy… how long could a person go without sleep anyway? Her thoughts were becoming quite muddled, and she pressed a hand to her stomach… she suddenly was not feeling very good.
The Doctor leaped aside as River suddenly gagged, doubled over, and emptied the contents of her stomach onto the floor. His eyes widened and he quickly lunged forward to pull the mass of tangled curls out of her face. "Oh, River…" His brown eyes were mournful, his voice panged with guilt. Oh, this was completely his fault… if only he hadn't moved her room!
Her voice was shaky as she straightened, her eyes glazed, "Sorry… I-I'm fine."
The Doctor shook his head, River may be Time-Lord plus Human, but she was still definitely human… and sleep deprivation was never good for humans. He scooped her up in his arms, ignoring her weak protests as she feebly tried to regain some semblance of angry, defiant dignity, swearing up and down that she'd shoot the cybermat, the Doctor, his tweed jacket, his bowtie, and the TARDIS if he didn't put her down… she was perfectly fine, thank-you! He shushed her, "No, you're not… you are very, very sleep deprived, and there is no way you're making it to bed on your own. Now hold still or I might drop you."
River shot him the best death-glare she could manage… but it came out more like a sleepy stare. She then squirmed in his arms, grunting grumpily and cursing in some ancient long-dead languages only an archaeologist would know. She then proceeded to elbow him before tugging at his bowtie to straighten it and slapping him rather weakly. When this was over… she was going to take her gun and… oh goodness… she couldn't even think.
He paid her protests no attention, wrapping his arms tighter around her, he pushed open the door to the closest guest bedroom and gently laid River down on the bed, she curled up, shaking, her face turning a sickly pallor. The Doctor sat next to her, drawing the covers up around her shoulders. He pressed a comforting hand to her forehead and kissed her cheek softly. When he was sure she wasn't going to chuck up anything, he got up, dimmed the lights in the room, and then crawled in on the other side of the bed. He felt bad enough… he wasn't about to leave her alone in such a state! River kneed him between the legs, patted him a few times, pushed him over, and pulled him closer. She gave him a few hard thwacks, and then, when she was satisfied he was situated correctly, she curled up against him and finally fell asleep. Gently, he slipped off her coat, shoes, and socks, being careful not to wake her. She was a light sleeper, and he really didn't want to be responsible for a further lack of sleep. He spooned up against her, putting one arm under his head and the other around her shoulders protectively. He certainly had a way for mucking things up, didn't he? How could he be so thoughtless?
His thumb drew circles on her bare skin as he lay there, wishing the day had gone differently. His eyes focused in on those terrible, heart-wrenching scars. River had worn a simple camisole under her jacket, the planet she had recently been on had been quite hot. But no matter how hot it got on any adventure, she never did expose anything lower than the tip of the top of her shoulders on her back. Even though he'd discovered her scars, she still didn't want them in view. She had never told him where she'd gotten them, but he had a sneaking suspicion they had to do with Kovarian. He just wished she trusted him enough to tell him. What could be so terrible that she didn't want him to know? He'd asked her if they were part of a spoiler, and had tried not to show his hurt when she told him that they weren't… she had no reason to hide the truth! Honestly… he truly just wanted to help her. He wanted her to let him in, to let him past her tough exterior and into her heart… but she wasn't ready yet. He would try very hard not to push her, but it was getting unbearable. The Doctor sighed, kissed the crown of her head, and despite his Time-Lord lack of a need for sleep… he soon fell into a restless, worried slumber.
He was awoken at about two-in-the-morning. He lay there for a minute, trying to gather where he was and what he was doing there. It was very odd to be in a different room, in a different bed… and it was a little disorienting. His hazy thoughts sharpened immediately when he felt River tossing and turning next to him.
The Doctor's hearts stopped when he heard her whimpers, her pained cries…River never sounded like that!
"N-no…" Her voice was strained, small. "Please, just run, please my Love… I'm sorry, my Love. I'm sorry!"
Silencio. She was dreaming about the lake. He sat up in bed, tears filling his eyes. River was sobbing in her sleep, her whole body was shaking, it was killing him, seeing her like this. He took her by the shoulders and shook her gently, leaning over her and kissing her forehead. "River, darling… wake up… please!"
For once, he was thankful she was a light sleeper. With a gasp, her eyes jerked open. She sat up, her hand groping at his, her curls mussed and damp with sweat. "Oh god…"
He watched helplessly as his strong, amazing River Song dissolved into tears. Tears streaming down his own face, he took River into his arms, holding her tight. "Shh, I'm right here, I'm right here, River."
All she could manage was, "I'm sorry, my Love… I'm so sorry. God, I'm so sorry!" Her shoulders were shaking as he held her tighter, stroking her hair and kissing her forehead for all he was worth.
"River, I forgive you, I'm alive, remember? You're always and completely forgiven."
She only cried in response. This was breaking his hearts.
The Doctor ran his hand through her hair, praying that she'd calm, that she'd stop crying. Something else was wrong, and he had no idea what that was… he couldn't fix her, he couldn't kiss it all better, as much as he wanted to. He wasn't a hero, he was just a madman with a box… and yet, River needed him. So he decided to do the only thing he could think of that might help her.
His finger gently traced her jawline, and then tilted her face upward. Her bloodshot, wet blue eyes met his, and he smiled softly. "River, I want to show you something… I meant it to be your birthday present. Can you handle moving for a little bit?"
Her head simply leaned on his shoulder, too drained to make a reply. Her arms wrapped around his neck, and he kissed her hair, scooping her into his arms like she was a small child. He stood, feeling her shiver as the burst of cool air from leaving the bed hit her skin. The TARDIS quickly adjusted the temperature to a warm 77 degrees. The Doctor smiled up at the ship, "Thanks, Old Girl."
He carried her down the hall, feeling her doze off in his arms. Every few minutes, she would jerk awake, as if running from her dreams. Finally, they reached the room he was looking for. It was painted a lovely crème color. The bed was large and had the vintage burgundy and gold bedding he knew she loved. He shifted her weight to one arm and drew back the covers, revealing the matching maroon, silk sheets, and laid her down.
River was taking in the room with half-lidded eyes, blearily trying to smile. Oh, her amazing, silly Doctor… so this was why he'd moved it! It was such a wonderful, far-cry from the simple, green bedroom she'd had before. This one was so much more, what with its luxurious bedding, crimson and crème loveseat, and pictures of her and the Doctor and her parents hanging on the walls. A Gallifreyan chest was pushed up against the wall, and she vaguely wondered what was inside. The Doctor stroked her mad hair softly, smiling down at her, "Do you like it?"
She nodded sleepily, and his smile turned to the excited grin of a schoolboy, "This isn't the best part though."
Before she could wonder at what he meant by that, the Doctor got up and turned off the lights. The room was immediately filled with the most beautiful display River had ever seen… it was positively breath-taking. Everything was bathed in a soft golden light as all around them, stars, planets, and galaxies lit up the air. They shone like little fireflies, revolving around the bed as River's personal sky. And if that wasn't enough, Gallifreyan words shone bright and golden in the ceiling like long-lost constellations. Some, she recognized from what the Doctor had taught her… love, peace, beauty, and her own name.
And if that wasn't enough, the air was filled with a soft song. It was like a choir, and yet like a single voice. Like an orchestra, and a solo flute. It was beautiful, and calming, and tinkling, and laughing and joyful and passionate all at once.
She turned her head to see him rummaging around in the chest. "Aha!" He whipped out a band of black silk… his old bowtie, in fact… the one they'd gotten married in. He walked over shyly, his face bathed in gold as he sat on the edge of the bed. His long, gentle fingers reached over and brushed her hair out of her face, pulling it back and securing it in place with the bowtie and a kiss. "Happy Birthday, River Song."
She smiled at him faintly as he crawled in bed next to her, "So this is why you moved my room."
He nodded, a sheepish grin on his face, "Yes… and I'm sorry about that, I didn't realize you were so tired, and I really should have –"
She put a finger on his lips, quieting him. "Shut up. It's beautiful."
His face became serious as he wrapped his arms around her, a tinge of worry still lingering in his eyes as he stared into her own exhausted ones, "River, I meant it when I said I forgave you."
She avoided his gaze, drawing the covers up around herself, her mind flashing back to her secret nightmares as she stared up into the golden lights floating about them. Tears filled her eyes, and despite herself, she began crying… why was she so weak? She was absolutely pathetic! God, he must hate her!
He cupped a hand to her cheek, his thumb gently wiping away a salty tear, "Hey, hey… none of that, now."
She only cried further, unable to stop herself. "I'm sorry… I-I can't –"
"Shh." He held her tighter, lacing his fingers through her hair. "Please, River…" He whispered into her ear softly, "Tell me what's wrong."
"I'm just- I'm-" She struggled with her words, choking back tears, her mind thinking back to every cut of Kovarian's knife, every slap, every spiteful remark… "I'm not worth this, Doctor… I'm-" she let loose with a strangled sob, hiding her face in his shoulder, "I'm broken!"
The Time-Lord's eyes began to blaze with anger. How could she think that? He took her chin, making her look him in the eye, "Who told you that?"
River looked anywhere but his smoldering eyes. This was it, this was when he would find out just how truly pathetic and weak and revolting she was… how absolutely naïve and impressionable she had been. "K-Kovarian." She replied abashedly, blushing, another tear rolling down her cheek. River still couldn't believe, after all this time, how much Kovarian still haunted her… she was so ashamed of it, she was supposed to be stronger than this!
The Doctor swore quietly in Gallifreyan, if Amy hadn't already killed that woman… he would have hunted down Kovarian, thrown that repulsive, malicious, devious snake into the depths of a black hole and then locked her inside for eternity and thrown away the key! He held River closer, "When?" He growled, suddenly not feeling so tender.
River whimpered softly, thinking he was angry with her. "Right before Silencio… when she kidnapped me." she curled up tighter, squeezing her eyes shut, not able to bear his intense gaze, "I-I… she cut me, and she told me that you could never, ever love me… and god, I'm so stupid! I'm sorry… Sh-she's right, isn't she?" Her normally strong voice was so very small.
The Doctor's anger flared… that was where those scars were from? He was about ready to hop up and punch something… of all of the horrible, low-down, good-for-nothing… oh! He wished Kovarian wasn't already dead! Nobody. Hurt. His. River.
He froze when he heard her soft tears next to him, felt her trembling, she truly thought he hated her now…
His grip loosened and he backed away a little bit so she could see his face better. "River, look at me."
He brought her chin up, "River…"
Finally, her blue eyes met his. His hearts shattered. She truly was broken… but not un-fixable. Her eyes held so much locked-up pain, so much fear, so much self-hate…
He swallowed thickly, trying to hold back his own tears, trying to steady his voice. "River," He began again, "Oh, River… my beautiful, amazing, River. I'm not angry with you, how could I ever be angry with you?" He pulled her close, stroking her hair, kissing her forehead. "I'm angry with Kovarian. I'm angry because she lied to you River. She absolutely and totally lied." He put a tender thumb on her trembling lip, making an effort to draw her moist eyes back to his, "River, look at me- I love you. You are not weak, do you hear me? You are strong. You are amazing… you, River, tore apart time to save me… and these scars?" She gasped softly as he turned and kissed one of the more reachable wounds on her shoulder, "Are beautiful."
River fell apart in his arms under their personal sky of firefly stars. The TARDIS dimmed her lights to a soft glow, the song becoming faint background noise as the Doctor traced Gallifreyan poetry in her skin with his fingertips, whispering in her ear of all his love for her in his own lyrical language. She allowed herself to be held, closing her eyes. He nuzzled her neck, continuing in his tender ministrations, letting her fall asleep as he kissed every single scar on her back. He kept telling her she was beautiful, telling her she was always and completely forgiven, promising her in passionate whispers he would spend the rest of his life erasing her doubt and making sure she understood he loved her. As her Doctor told her of all she meant to him, of how much he loved her, and of how truly amazing and strong she was… River finally, finally believed him.