Just a Minor Rewrite
by Sylva Dax
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Doctor Who universe. I have merely borrowed it from the BBC.
She'd barely wrapped her arms around his neck when the tug of war between CAL and the TARDIS began in earnest as each fought to rescue their charges.
"Hold on, River," he encouraged her, the strain already evident in his voice. "We're almost out. Ow, that hurt!" he exclaimed in surprise, his body spasming. "Ow!"
"Doctor?" River cried in alarm. "What's happening?" She barely managed to hold onto him.
"Nothing to worry about," he gasped, valiantly trying to maintain his grip on River as the anti-virus agents zapped him repeatedly. CAL fought dirty. Not fair.
His grasp was getting weaker with each agonized twitch. River knew that it was only a matter of time before death won the struggle. Not even a Timelord could cheat it forever. She couldn't let that happen. She wouldn't.
"Oh, my love, it's okay," she breathed reassuringly. If only she could see his face one last time. "You tried and I love you for it, but it's too late. I'm already gone."
"River, no!" he started but was interrupted by another attack. To his horror, she released him. Frantically reaching for her in the dark, he tried to explain that she'd been saved to his screwdriver, but it was too late.
His eyes darted about wildly in the glare of the TARDIS' medical bay lights before the Doctor realized where he was. Ignoring the electrodes attached to his head, he turned urgently to the prone figure laying beside him.
"River? River, please, open your eyes," he begged. "You're not dead! Do you hear me? You're not dead. I saved you. Do you hear me, wife? I saved you; now open your eyes!"
Nothing. River Song's body remained immobile, hooked to life support and the same electrodes that were attached to him.
"Oh no. Sexy, she's not here. Quick, send me back." He lay back down and braced himself for the transfer. Once again, nothing. "What are you doing? There's no time to lose. Send me back now!"
In answer, the overhead monitor blinked. According to the readout he'd gone critical and nearly died. The TARDIS barely got him out alive.
"I don't care. You send me back!" the Doctor insisted. "I can't leave her there. I don't know how I ever thought I could. Please, send me back," he pleaded. The monitor blinked repeatedly. "Alright, since you won't send me back," he snarled, yanking the wires from his head as he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the medical bed, "I'll access CAL directly. Now, let me out of here!"
With considerable effort the Doctor pushed himself off the bed and collapsed to the floor. Unable to rise, he curled up into a miserable ball, once again overcome by grief. It wasn't supposed to end like this. This wasn't the plan. Not at all.
After exhausting days of preparation, the Doctor and the TARDIS stealthily entered River's bedroom while she slept. Tranquilizing her immediately, the Doctor carried River directly to the medical bay where Kovarian's neural transmitter equipment and vat of flesh had been transferred and modified.
After the Doctor hooked River to the modified transmitter, the TARDIS took infinite care directing the development of River's ganger. The lives of River, Donna, and 4022 persons depended on perfection.
When she was ready, the Doctor transferred River's sleeping attire, what little there was of it, to the unconscious ganger. He then installed the ganger River in River's bed. River had placed the screwdriver he'd given her on top of her TARDIS blue journal. He replaced it with a newly modified version.
They had created a neural network that connected the ganger directly with River and the two to the TARDIS and the Doctor through the screwdriver. It was the only way that they could ensure CAL's successful reboot with just a minor rewrite of that fateful event. The screwdriver was also a part of the backup plan in case River's consciousness failed to return to her body in the TARDIS when the ganger was destroyed.
Unfortunately, the resulting feedback from the reboot severed the TARDIS' connection with the screwdriver and knocked the Doctor out. By the time she had reestablished the connection and revived him, his younger self had sprinted through the Library determined to save River by uploading her to CAL.
Rescuing River should have been easy, but they weren't prepared for CAL's aggressive response. It was Demons Run all over again. Once again he'd failed to save her.
Screwdriver? Was he planning to carry her around in his pocket? That impossible man. And then she was back in that sunny place, standing on the greenest lawn she'd ever seen.
"It's okay," young Charlotte assured her as she approached River with Dr. Moon close by her side. "We almost lost you, but Dr. Moon got rid of that awful virus that attacked you. You're safe now. You'll always be safe here now that the Doctor's fixed the core."
Charlotte said something else but River had stopped listening. He'd come for her. Her Doctor. The warmth that filled her had nothing to do with the sunlight or the hugs and kisses she was receiving from Anita, Dave, Proper Dave, and Miss Evangelista. He'd risked everything to come for her: crossing timelines, risking paradoxes, even his own life. Her Doctor had thought her worth it all.
"Hello, Charlotte. You are a very clever girl."
"Who are you and how did you get here?" Dr. Moon demanded. "No, Charlotte, stay behind me."
River and her friends immediately turned their attention to the curious commotion. River thought the new arrival looked familiar but couldn't quite place her. Charlotte darted around her protector and ran to the strangely dressed woman and hugged her.
"Thank you so much for all the new stories," Charlotte said, beaming up at the stranger.
"One more time: who are you?" Moon insisted, with a pistol aimed at the intruder.
"No, she's the Doctor's friend," Charlotte told Moon, protecting her new friend.
"Yes, I'm Sexy," she said with a smile, "and I just wanted to thank you for taking such pains to protect our River. But, now, it is time for me to take my child home."
The Doctor lay curled up in a ball on the floor next to the medical bed when firm arms slid around him and pulled him into a warm embrace. Gentle lips brushed his. Hungrily he sought them out, drawing strength from the love they offered. Still too weak to rise, the Doctor and his River were content to lay in each others arms on the floor of the medical bay, their future yet unwritten.
Sexy dimmed the lights.
A/N: Thank you so much to those who paused long enough to leave a review. I loved hearing from you.
The beginnings of a sequel keeps running through my head, but it is only a beginning. Where to next? Any ideas?