My way of dealing with River's death. Two-parter, the next chapter should be up sometime this week. Title from Coldplay's Paradise.
Please R + R.
The Sun Must Set To Rise
He entered the control room and crumpled to the floor instantly. The involuntary sobs and shaking invading every inch of his being and he could not stand with the effort. The Doctor had just about managed to hold it together, to tell her about the present waiting for her and walk away. For the last time. Abandon her to her doom. Not a single line. He wouldn't try and stop it because she had asked him not to and he finally understood what she meant. They had run, oh how they had run and even the seed of the idea that he may change that by trying to prevent her fate was almost as unbearable as her death itself.
It was the most linear they had ever been, he'd crossed his own timeline in a new suit and haircut just how she had described and it had probably ripped a hole in the universe somewhere but he didn't care. The towers sung and he cried, he couldn't help it – it was so beautiful, she was so beautiful and everything so perfect – finally, for a brief moment in time, one evening when the all of the world's stood as they should and now it was over. River had looked at him with an indescribable mix of elation and sorrow, a question in her eyes but she did not ask. There was no need. Spoilers. She was setting off for the library in the morning and she had no idea the horrors that awaited, the Vashta Nerada, his dismal and her end.
And what life had she had? Melody Pond the woman kidnapped and raised to kill the Doctor. Because of him. River Song the flirty, brilliant archaeologist who began with so many lives and deserved them all but became trapped in one very mortal shell. Because of him. The woman who married him as every piece of history, past, present and future happened at the same time, no matter where or what she was marrying him. And then the woman who 'killed' him and spent so many of her precious days in prison for it. Because he had asked her too. Because of him.
Her nights? Well her nights had been a different story and he was so glad of it. The adventures they had and half the time not even leaving the TARDIS. He had had to retreat into the shadows and he pulled River in with him; he didn't need universes or adventures, companions to protect or enemies to defeat because he had her. His wife. His River. She was always enough and quite often more than he could handle.
All of this raced through the Doctor's mind as sat heaped on the console floor; he had cried so much he was surprised he had any tears left at all, his body should have literally run dry of water.
"River..." He choked.
Even the word now felt wrong, tainted like all of the memories because of what was about to happen. It was unnatural for her die, so young, so full of life. It should be him and her at the end, when everyone and everything else has gone. The last two. The word now bitter on his tongue, bile rising from his stomach, clawing at his windpipe until it physically hurt.
"River..." He tried again and he thought he might throw up. He did not deserve to say her name.
"River." The Doctor almost jumped out of his skin as a figure appeared from behind the console; not just a figure but the source of that very name and the reason behind the poisonous concoction of emotion now playing within his heart. She looked tired and upset, eyes puffy but nowhere near as red as his probably were. "River, River, River. More than a friend I think." She continued softly, trying her signature smirk but it did not quite reach her eyes.
He had a dozen questions but he did not utter a sound as he jumped to his feet with an energy that he could not have possibly mustered only a moment before. He ran and embraced her fiercely, his head buried in her neck breathing in the deep musky sent that lay there, one hand entangled in her hair almost painfully and he gripped onto her as tightly as he could. If she was surprised by his reaction she did not show it, clinging on to him with almost the same intensity, almost. He cried into curve of her shoulder not caring about dignity because she was here, a different her, a younger one but she was here, real and soft beneath his fingers.
River placed a hand at the back of his neck where his ends of his hair curled slightly and ran a tender hand through the supple locks rubbing his neck in a wholly comforting gesture. He suddenly didn't care how or why she was here because it made sense that was she. River was the only one that could comfort him, comfort him from the loss of her. Perhaps there were some advantages to time travel.
After several moments he managed to calm his erratic breathing and placed a light kiss over her thudding pulse, as if to make sure it was there. It was. So strong and so alive beneath his lips, he sucked the skin slightly trying to get even closer to the determined show of life. His mouth led a trail of forceful kisses up the side of her neck and jaw over the apple of her cheek and her closed eye lid.
"Sweetie, it's okay..." She soothed.
The Doctor grabbed both sides of her face and stared into her gorgeous eyes, his gaze so strong it almost burnt.
"No it's not. It's never going to be, it's..." His voice was weak, his throat dragged down by heaviness and the raw sting of his grief. "It's never going to be alright."
"How do I look?" She asked suddenly. He knitted his brow together in confusion, pulling away and releasing her face to gaze down at her. She looked well normal, good but she always looked good, even in that dismal prison she looked good. "When do I look?" River clarified.
"You look young and perfect." He punctuated the last word and she smiled.
"Exactly. Taking the age gradually remember? To freak people out."
Penny in the air.
"Oh, so your o... not old."
The penny drops.
"Yes, very late."
"Me too." He reached for her again pulling her into his chest and kissing her forehead as it passed. "So who's crossing whose timeline? Why are you here?"
"How late are you exactly, what have you done?" She dodged his question with her own even though she knew the answer; she knew exactly where he was and that was exactly why she was here. Finally both at the same place and no crossed timelines. It was almost normal.
"I think I've done everything; every adventure and every night at Storm Cage. That's why you shouldn't be here. But you are..." His voice broke a little as he whispered into her hair. "Thank God you are... How late are you?"
"'I've done everything." She mimicked. He knew it couldn't be true; she wouldn't be here if it was. "I had to come now; I had to make sure you kept your promise." The tension of his body gave away his confusion and she turned her head to lean upwards and whisper in the shell of his ear: "That you didn't change a line of those times."
The Doctor pushed her back almost unwillingly as alarm and shock shot through every nerve in his being, his eyes grew wide and his muscles rigid as he allowed himself to even entertain the thought that she could be... he asked cautiously, like a man dipping his toe in the ocean to test its hospitality, a ridiculously tentative action considering he had to take the plunge into its depths regardless.
"You've done the library?"
River took his hand and guided it to her temple, the exact place he had held moments before. She led his fingers over the small tainted piece of skin there, burnt and scared. Then repeated the movement of the other side of her head; an identical mark lay on her temple there too. These two blemishes, left by the equipment that had rested on her head, were the only evidence, the only trace of an entire planets' energy that had coursed through her system and restored 4022 saved files. The same energy that had destroyed her. Hadn't it?
"No! That's not possible." He pushed her backwards as if she were pure poison about to contaminate his body. "You shouldn't be here, in the library you... spoilers!" He said finally looking down, the weight of her gaze too much.
"It isn't spoilers if we've both already done it."
"But you haven't!"
He was angry. Whatever game she was playing it was cruel – making him think that she could have possibly survived. And the cruellest thing is that she had no idea what she was doing and what was coming. And how on earth did she have those markings and knew what she had promised him? Someone must be putting her up to this; it was probably his future self. This took self hatred to a new level. He must really despise himself if he was punishing him so.
"I need you to help me." Her voice was cold. When he looked up she was supporting herself on the console. Her skin that was normally glowing was ghostly pale. "I need..."
"What do you need? River please help me understand." He approached her tentatively.
She clutched her forehead, her whole body wincing in pain. Her head felt like it was going to explode and erupt like a volcano and her tears were the first droplets of lava. She couldn't cope. She was here in the console room she kept repeating to herself over and over: I am here. I am here. Feel the TARDIS as you always do when you're in her. I am here. But she was somewhere else too. In a field by a country house. The man in a white coat and a little girl approaching, sincere yet sinister smiles plastered on their faces and arms outstretched.
"It's tearing me in two..." She was panting with the force now. Was she saying these words to the Doctor or to the familiar strangers in the field? "I can't be in two places at once! I need..."
She saw stars, a million of them dazzling brightly until the light was too much. Then she saw nothing.