Losing River Song
Dr John Smith sat at the breakfast table, newspaper in hand as he watched his wife closely. River was sitting across from him reading the same newspaper – it was one of the many little things they did; searching for interesting happenings in the local area to investigate together. She was babbling away at him; reading glasses perched on her nose and a smile on her face as she flicked the pages eagerly, searching for stories of interest. He wasn't listening to anything she was saying – he was lost in his thoughts; focussing on the way her mouth moved as she spoke and what he thought to be a glimmer of sadness glistening in her eyes.
There was definitely something different about her – actually, if he really thought about it, she'd had the same stoic expression on her face for the past week; eyes glimmering with despondency whenever she thought he wasn't looking, and flashing him what he knew to be a fake smile whenever he was around her. Her eyes didn't sparkle with joy and wonder anymore, and if he knew his River – which, of course, he did, nobody could ever argue against that - he knew there was something wrong, something on her mind that was occupying her thoughts that she hadn't told him. He just had to find out what. As he watched her from across the table; an evident expression of concern painted across his features, he recalled the first day they'd met in the surrounding woods, eight years ago.
He'd been watching the wildlife in his secret corner of the forest, sat by the serenity of the lake where he wouldn't be disturbed, when he'd heard the snap of branches breaking under foot, which had startled the exceptional flock of birds he'd been watching. He had initially been angry – after all, it had taken him months to track down magnificent specimens of wildlife like the flock he had been admiring – but as the sound of the light banter of the intruders had drawn nearer to him, he became intrigued. Climbing a tree to get a better view, he laid eyes on two beautiful women; one of which had fiery red hair – who later turned out to be River's best friend, Amelia – and the other, had a magnificent mane of golden curls. She was breathtaking. The way her whole face lit up when she smiled, and her eyes gleamed with happiness and bliss as she moved gracefully through the plants and trees, and her laugh, oh, when she laughed, he was sure he had felt warmth pooling at the pit of his stomach. Within seconds of watching them, John felt as if he recognised her, but shook the thought from his mind, deciding he could never have met such a beautiful woman before and paid so little attention, and after mere minutes of watching through the trees, it was clear to him that she was not only attractive, but seemed also to have a wonderful personality – he decided there and then that he just couldn't let her disappear from his life without even knowing her name.
So, he had watched as they observed a small and scrawny deer scamper through the bushes and vanish into the clearing, before leaping down from the tree and advancing to where they stood.
And it had gone from there.
They had introduced themselves, and John had explained about the birds and she – who turned out to be called River - had apologised profoundly for disturbing him. The three of them had spent the rest of the day in the forest; tracking and observing wild animals and by the end of it, they had become firm friends. He and Amelia had formed a strong bond, and he had asked River if she would care to accompany him to dinner sometime – to which she had agreed. And, after four pleasurable dates, they had decided to embark on a relationship.
He was suddenly roused from his thoughts, when River rose from her chair, folding the newspaper and dropping it onto the table in front of her. He too placed his paper on the table, leant back in his seat and smiled up at her.
"Are you alright, River?" He asked, reaching out to take her hands in his.
"Perfectly fine, thank you dear." She replied, and, oh, there it was again – that fake smile.
"Are you finished?" He glanced to her plate; where her breakfast had gone untouched and her tea stone cold. "You've not eaten anything. Are you unwell?"
"No, sweetie, I'm just not hungry." Her eyes darted away from him; but his grip on her hands tightened and forced her to look at him again. She must have noticed the worried look on his face as she reached out a hand to caress his cheek tenderly. "I promise you, my love, I am absolutely fine."
"Alright. I believe you." She was a good liar, he noticed.
"I have some paperwork to look over before tomorrow, I just need to go to the office for a bit, but you take your time here." She leant down to press a kiss to his forehead, but he captured her lips with his before she had a chance to pull away; slipping his arms around her to pull her down onto his lap.
She squealed against his lips before attempting to wriggle out of his grasp, but he held her firmly to him as he pressed chaste kisses along her cheek and down her neck. She laughed as she pushed him away gently; swatting his arm as if to scold him, before turning to leave and blowing him a kiss from where she leant on the doorframe, before disappearing into the depths of the house.
Oh, that poor man, he had no idea, River thought as she made her way through the empty house and up the stairs to her office.
River sat in her office with tears streaking her cheeks, and new, unshed tears swirling in her eyes. She was cautious not to cry out loud, as she didn't want to alarm her husband – who still sat downstairs - but she couldn't restrain herself from choking out the occasional sob. As much as she hated to do this to John, she knew it was for the best – he'd only stop her otherways.
She rummaged in her desk drawer for the goodbye letter she'd written him a few days ago when he had been out in the village and she had been alone, and had time to contemplate all her options. She knew this was something she had to do. She knew the dreams she'd been having where real; but she could hardly tell her husband that she thought he was really an eleven-hundred and three year-old time-lord with two hearts who went by the name of the Doctor and travelled the universe in a blue box that was bigger on the inside, or that her dreams had lead her to believe that her best friend Amelia, whom she had known since they were seven years old, was really her mother - which was why she had decided to write down all her dreams – although they were more like nightmares to River – in the small blue notebook John had given her for her birthday many years ago.
She laid the book and the letter on her desk, and gathered her bags from the floor; wiping her tears away roughly and beginning her descent of the creaking stairs. She stood in the foyer for a moment, taking one last look around her beloved home, before moving for the door as quietly as she could; and closing it cautiously behind her.
Moments later, from the dining room, John heard the engine of their car and the crunch of the gravel under the wheels as it drove away. Jumping up from his seat, he raced to the window in alarm, to see it driving down the path and out of sight.
"River! River, someone's stolen the car!" He bellowed, running from the room and bounding up the stairs towards her office. "River!"
The door to her office swung open, and John stood there in a panic; frowning when he found she was not where he expected her to be.
"River? River, darling, where are you?" He called, pacing round the room as if to look for clues of her whereabouts. Suddenly, he came to a standstill and his heart nearly stopped when he noticed the envelope – with the words 'My love' scrawled across the front -and the old, battered diary sitting on her desk.
He advanced slowly, picking up the letter and opening it carefully. It read:
I hate to have to leave you, but I have been left with no other choice. Strange and mysterious things have happened to me recently – things that even I cannot understand. I'm sure you noticed that I have been distant lately, and I assure you that it was not you who was the cause my departure. Leaving you is that hardest thing I could have done, but I could not bear having to bring you into the trouble I am sure I will face ahead. It's difficult to explain, my love, but in the book I have left with you, you will find the reason behind my leaving, and although I fear you will not believe the words written in the diary, I know you will trust me, and I hope you will come to understand why I have left you. Always remember that I love you, and I'm sure that one day – whether it be in this world, or another – I will see you again.
Goodbye, my love. x
He stared blankly at the page, before crumpling it in his hand and sliding to the floor; his hands clenched in his hair as he began to cry. He banged his head against the wall and pounded his fists against it in anger and distress as the tears clouded his vision and he shouted his abuse at the world – but there was nobody listening.
She was gone. She was his wife, and he loved her, and she was gone. Gone, and he didn't even know why.
As he sat curled in a ball, rocking back and forth and sobbing violently into the abandoned room, his eyes turned to the little blue book that River had left him.
The book that held the answers to all his questions.
A/N: This is an AU River/Eleven ficlet set in the 1930's, that I wrote in about three hours. I know it's only short - hence why it's a ficlet - but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. I don't have any plans to continue this right now (as I have a lot of things to write already) but I'm not ruling it out for future because it was a lot of fun to write! So makes sure to keep an eye open for future things :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who or any of the characters, as always. This is just for fun and non-profitable purposes.