Title: Fool Me Twice. (1/?)
Disclaimer: I only own what you don't recognise, everything else belongs to The Moff and the BBC.
Timeline: For the Doctor it's sometime after TWoRS. For River it's sometime before SiTL/FoTD.
Spoilers: Basically all of series 5 and 6.
Summery: "My associates still need a weapon and what could possibly be a better weapon than the Doctor's own son?" Their first attempt may have failed, but The Silence were never going to give up so easily.
Author Notes: Who doesn't love a nice angsty RiverxEleven time baby fic? Don't blame me, blame the plot bunnies. It's all their fault.
River Song. Archaeologist. Time traveller. Mother.
No one had been more surprised than River herself at the ease with which she'd taken to her newest role. For three months she'd been balancing the life of a time traveller with that of a new mother, and was proud to say neither child nor husband seemed to be feeling left out. A chubby little fist wrapped itself around her finger, the tiny Time Lord in her arms claiming his mothers attention as though he knew her thoughts were beginning to wander.
"You are supposed to be going to sleep." River murmured and placed a gentle kiss on her sons head. The answering coo along with a kick from the two small feet were protest enough for River.
"So much like your father...can't even walk but you're ready to run away and play with the stars." River turned towards the window of the little nursery, the night sky greeting her gaze. "My little explorer, eager for his first adventure. One day we'll visit every star that ever existed, just you, me and that silly daddy of yours." River's voice dropped to a whisper as her son's eyelids fluttered closed. "We'll run away in the TARDIS and never look back." With a contented smile River moved to the cot that stood in the centre of the room, laying her baby son down gently and tucking the powder blue blanket around his sleeping form. With a last look at the little one's face, River pulled the shade down over the window and switched on the little night light that sent artificial stars dancing over the walls.
There was a gentle click as River pulled the nursery door closed and reached her hand out to trace the letters that were fixed to the door. Painted in bright primary colours they spelled out her son's name 'Caden.' The name had been the Doctor's choice, and while it wouldn't have been River's own first choice she agreed to it happily, after her husband had explained the meaning behind it. There were many meanings in many languages, he'd told her, with two of those meanings being 'son' and 'spirit of battle.' River couldn't deny that both meanings were appropriate for their tiny Time Lord. With her thoughts wandering once again to that old blue box and the wonders her son would one day see, River made her way downstairs. Though to the eyes of most beings River Song looked nothing more than human, she was far from that. Her senses for one thing were extraordinary when compared with the average human's. It was down to these senses that River became aware that she and her son were not alone in the house. For a moment River wondered if the Doctor was trying to surprise her but the sheer lack of noise proved that theory wrong. The only other explanation was an unwanted visitor. River stopped on the last stair, reaching behind the little plant that stood on a small table to find the gun she kept hidden there for just such an occasion. With a calm expression fixed on her face and only thoughts of protecting the child asleep upstairs, River concealed her firearm as best she could and stepped forward to face whatever was waiting for her in her living room.
Pushing the door open River was greeted by the sight of a young woman, a young human woman as far as River could tell, with raven black hair scarped away from her face and tied in a pony tail. The only truly startling thing about the woman's appearance was the patch worn over her right eye, something that River herself remembered wearing once long ago, in a time that never happened. A glance around showed River that the woman was flanked by two of the oddest and frightening looking creatures she'd ever laid eyes on. They resembled something you might see in an old sci-fi film, or that painting 'The Scream.' There was a strange familiarity about them that River couldn't quite put her finger on. The stranger before River smiled a wholly insincere smile and took a step forward, drawing River's attention back to her.
"No need to be alarmed Dr Song, or do you prefer to go by your birth name these days?"
River tensed, clutching the gun in her hand a little tighter.
"Who are you and what are doing in my house?" It took a considerable effort for River to keep her voice level and controlled, calling on countless years of practice to ensure that her voice didn't betray her emotions. Somewhere in the very back of her mind River noted how proud the Doctor would be of her for having not already started shooting at this intruder.
"My name is unimportant in this matter, Miss Pond." The trespasser answered with a trilling little laugh, referring to River by her birth name. "You might want to think about putting down that little toy you've got in your hand." Her eyes flickered towards the gun River held. "Those things do make a terrible noise and the last thing any of us want is to wake up that dear little one sleeping upstairs."
River's breath caught in her throat as she stood, rooted to the spot. She knew who they were. Stupid. She'd been so stupid to think that she could do it, to think she could just live a normal life with her son and her devil-may-care husband. How wrong she'd been. And how naive. All of her life, every day The Silence had been there. Always just a step behind her. Any time she'd sworn something had moved in a shadow or she'd felt a breath on the back of her neck, it was them. Always The Silence. And yet, for the life of her she would never be able to describe what they looked like. How could anyone ever run far enough away from a forgotten memory? From that nagging feeling in the back of your mind when you can almost remember something? She could run until her last breath passed her lips and it still wouldn't be enough.
Keeping her eyes locked on her sinister guest, River laid the gun down on the floor. Glancing around she was startled once again by the remembered presence of her intruder's two towering companions.
"Well, don't we all feel much more comfortable now that's out of the way?" The nameless visitor asked, the faux sincerity of her smile leaking into her voice. "As to the purpose of this little meeting...think of it as an introduction, of sorts." The woman's manner became more business like as she crossed the room and seated herself on the chair by the window. River's gaze never lifted from her once. "You see my associates here..." She gestured to the Silents who had moved to stand between herself and River. Having her attention drawn back to them sent a shiver of astonishment and fear down River's spine. "When they set their minds to something they do so like to see it through, right to the bitter end."
While her unwelcome visitor spoke of The Silence, River was certain she could hear a note of admiration in her tone which made River sick to her stomach. To hear someone speak so highly of creatures she knew to be so abhorrent was unsettling.
"Even so-" The stranger continued "-they were almost impressed with that little stunt your lovely family were able to pull off by Lake Silencio. What ever made you think that you could circumvent a fixed point in time without anyone noticing?"
River's shoulder stiffened and a light of defiance burned in her eyes. They knew. All of the running, all of the hiding. All of those years she'd spent in prison. All for nothing. The Silence knew that the Doctor was still alive.
"I don't know what your mean." River answered with as much control as she could muster. Any semblance of friendliness in the intruders face quickly vanished, revealing what River could only describe as a look of utter revulsion.
"Do not think you can stand there and lie to me Miss Pond. My associates have been keeping a very close watch on you and your family for a very long time. But that is of little importance right now." Like flipping a switch the visitor's demeanour changed once again, back to the false smile and fake friendliness. "As I said, my associates can be very tenacious when they're set on something. The Doctor's continued existence is a problem they are determined to deal with. It really was a pity that their last weapon turned out to be a little defective."
At this River stepped forward, temper flaring and eyes narrowed.
"I never have had much patience for long stories. You and your associates have ten seconds to leave my home before I forget that my son is asleep and risk making some noise with that gun."
The intruder merely threw her head back, laughing a loud mocking laugh.
"Oh brave little Melody Pond. I wonder, would you still be so brave if my associates ordered you to hand that dear little thing over to us right now? Because you would hand him over."
There were very few times in her life when River could remember feeling pure, genuine fear. The kind of crippling fear that could suffocate you. This wasn't one of those times; this was worse. River knew that this hateful woman in front of her was right. One word was all it would take for her to willingly hand over her own child.
The nameless intruder watched this fear register in River's eyes, a triumphant smile breaking on her own face.
"Now that we all understand each other I'll cut to the chase, shall I? My associates recognised the mistake they made with your programming, taking you away from your mother so early and were loath to repeat it. But this of course still left them with a problem Miss Pond, I'm sure you understand what that problem was."
River understood very well. She'd been their weapon, their hope to destroy the Doctor. And in their eyes, by falling in love and refusing to kill him, she had failed. She was defective, as her visitor had said.
"My associates still need a weapon and what could possibly be a better weapon than the Doctor's own son?"
River had always known this day would come. She'd been expecting it since the moment her son was born, and yet she wasn't ready. How could anyone ever be ready for this?
"Over your dead body." River spat through clenched teeth.
"Empty threats wont help anyone Miss Pond. Please understand, we will take your child and he will be trained to succeed where his mother failed." The nameless woman stood and crossed the room until she was very nearly nose to nose with River. "As I have mentioned already, my associates have learned from their past mistakes. They are more than happy to leave their little soldier with you until he is old enough to be of use to them. They will never be too far away to keep an eye on him, of course."
"We'll run. We'll run to the end of the universe if we have to. I'll see every star in the sky burn out before I let you or your associates anywhere near him." River's voice had risen steadily with every word, as had her hatred and defiance.
"Oh I'm sure you will run Miss Pond. Rest assured that it will never be far enough. We have eyes everywhere. The Silence will always out run you, the sooner you accept this the better it will be for everyone. Running will only serve to prove that you can't be trusted, and there will be consequences to that." The woman stepped around River, making her way towards the door, her menacing friends following in her wake. "We'll be in touch, Miss Pond." She called jovially over her should before disappearing from River's home.
It felt like an eternity to River before she was able to begin focusing her thoughts and actions again. Picking up her gun from the floor she made sure her unwelcome guests were gone before slipping it into her pocket and and heading upstairs to the baby's room. Only when she was looking at her sleeping son did River give in to the fear that had been threatening to overwhelm her. Tears spilled from her eyes and great racking sobs began to shake her body so forcefully that she had to grip the side of Caden's cot to steady herself. Fighting for breath between sobs, River reached out to lay her hand gently on her son's tiny body, using the rise and fall of his chest and soft breathing to calm herself.
"I promise you Caden, I will never let them take you away from me. Never." River leaned over the cot and pressed a soft kiss against the baby's forehead.
With a deep breath, River wiped the tears from her face and forced herself to focus on what needed to be done. She wouldn't run, but she'd die before she'd stand back and let The Silence take her child. That left her with only one option, to fight.
While a shower of sparks rained down around him the Doctor stopped to scratch his head.
"Well Old Girl, I'm stumped." He announced to his ship as he laid down the assortment of sonic tools he'd been tinkering with underneath the TARDIS console. "I don't think there's anything wrong with you, you're just being deliberately stubborn." The Doctor walked around the console, turning dials and flipping switches as he went. It was all to no avail, the temperamental old time ship resolutely refused to move. "I am supposed to be on the run here you know. You could try to be a little more helpful." The Doctor admonished his ship.
He could only imagine what River would make of this. He could see her face so vividly, the way she'd roll her eyes and sigh before proceeding to show him exactly what she thought he was doing wrong. River. Just the thought of her sent his mind spinning off in countless directions. He really didn't know what he was going to do about her. Even when she wasn't there it still felt like her presence was always near by. Her clothes were frequently left in the wardrobe room, while the perfume she wore seemed to constantly hang in the air.
With a sigh the Doctor leaned against the console. Maybe he was exaggerating a tiny bit, River still spent most of her days in prison after all. And she was his wife. Technically. In the very loosest sense of the word. What was he going to do about that impossible woman? Did he love her? That was a question he'd been pondering for some time. He certainly loved being around her, there was no question of that, even when she was being intentionally infuriating. She did have one of those smiles that was just as beautiful as it was dangerous. And life could never be called dull or average with River around. Perhaps the sheer fact that he was putting so much thought into the matter was answer enough. Somewhere, somehow River had wrapped herself around his hearts like one of her curls would wrap itself around his finger. And yes, he loved her for it.
That was when it hit him, like a cricket bat to the head – something he'd actually experienced in his younger days – why the TARDIS was so out of sorts; she missed River. It had been a week since he'd dropped her off at Stormcage after their last adventure. He hadn't meant to leave her there for so long of course. He'd been visiting Zarrbek 4 for the Grebek's five millionth birthday – The Grebek wasn't really five million, in fact the latest Grebek was only four hundred but as Grebek was an inherited title they'd decided during the first Grebek's time that it would be much more impressive if they moved all future Grebek's birthdays to the same date – when he'd heard from one of the Grebek's gaurds who'd heard from a friend who'd heard from a Zarrbekan Blekk farmer that a group of clerics had been seen asking if anyone had heard of a dead man named the Doctor. Being the dead man in question the Doctor had made his excuses and hot footed it back to the TARDIS, putting as much time and space between himself and his possible pursuers as he could.
So it was understandable really, that River had, however briefly slipped his mind. Turning his attention to the TARDIS console again he pulled a lever and was not the least bit surprised when nothing at all happened.
"Well here I was under the impression that you were mad at me for leaving River behind for so long. I must have been wrong." the Doctor shrugged his shoulders and straightened his bowtie. A moment later the TARDIS hummed to life, eliciting a grin from the Doctor. "That's more like it Old Girl." He laughed and clapped his hands together, ready to input the familiar Stormcage coordinates.
River had packed as much as she could for Caden into a small bag. Paying no attention to the state of panic that had been threatening to overtake her thoughts, she ran through a mental check list and made sure she hadn't forgotten anything the baby would need. Once she was satisfied, River left the bag on the changing table and strapped her vortex manipulator to her wrist. She moved to the cot, first brushing a hand lightly over her son's soft hair, she reached down and gently scooped the little Time Lord up into her arms. The little one fussed for a moment, unhappy at being woken up until River held him tightly to her.
"Shhh my little love." River murmured softly. "We're going on a big adventure Caden. Just you, me and daddy. We're going to go and see the stars, just like you wanted to."
Looking into her child's bright green eyes, eyes that were full of wonder and hope, almost broke River's resolve not to break down and cry. Pulling on whatever strength of will she had left, River closed her eyes and focused on one thought; a set of coordinates and a message 'Hurry please Sweetie.' Hoping with all she had that the psychic paper would pick up her message, River shifted the baby into one arm and threw the strap of the bag over the other. With a touch of one button on the vortex manipulator, mother and child vanished in a flash of light.
Just as the TARDIS was about to set off for Stormcage the Doctor was distracted by a sudden flaring of heat in the pocket where he kept the psychic paper.
"I've got a message!" He called out gleefully as he extracted that remarkable piece of paper from it's hiding place. Reading the message, his eyes widened as did the smile on his face. "Looks like we'll be making a detour Old Girl, River has other plans for us." the Doctor quickly input the new coordinates River had sent him and set them on their way, knowing nothing of the danger that would be waiting for all of them.
A/N: Well, there you go. I've got a vague-ish idea of where this is going, but we'll see what happens if the plot bunnies change their minds :)