Author's Note: I've had this idea for a few days and I finally acted on it. A week or so ago I read a 9/Mels fic and it was really well-done. I never thought I'd right Mels/11, but I have. I hope you enjoy it.

Clutching a familiar TARDIS lever, the man in the bow tie watched as his fingers trembled at the controls.

His mind was whirring in a maddening sea of emotion, and his hearts were pounding faster than they had ever before.


It was the only sound that permeated his recently dulled hearing, and it taunted his entire body like a deadly plague.

The pain was unavoidable, and though he battled it with every last remaining ounce of strength, in the depths of his ancient, weary soul he came to grips with the gut-wrenching stench of reality.

She was gone.

River Song-his wife- the beautiful curly haired woman with whom he trusted his most dreaded secret— was presently heading to meet the doom he had known about since his very first encounter with her.

And it hurt terribly. Oh, it hurt so very, very much.

Earlier, he had broken down, the tiny droplets had flooded down his pale cheeks unrelentingly like a wave of sorrow, but now his light eyes were unmistakably dry, and his entire body was stiff. He couldn't even stifle a little tear. Not a single one.

As the battered Doctor clung desperately to his ship, his hearts were filled by a horrifying numbness, one such that he had never experienced in his entire life.

His stomach churned in dread as a sudden burst of nausea overcame him.

I—I can't take this. Even after all these years. I never knew—never thought it would be this hard…

Losing his lingering sense of self-control, the desponded man sank to the floor, scarcely able to process the dreadful doubts that were surfacing without mercy.

"Help me…please…I need…I need…" he trailed off, his raspy voice escaping in short, husky puffs.

Gasping, the Doctor inhaled sharply, in a vain attempt to satisfy his oxygen-deprived lungs.

"F-fresh air…" the man barely managed to admit to his beloved time machine, his slouching shoulders about ready to give way at any given moment.

"I…I can't…"

A liberating whirring noise reverberated through the console room, ringing in the Doctor's ears and allowing him one tiny glimmer of hope.

Focusing on this familiar sound, the Last of the Time Lords thrust his limbs upward, preparing himself to exit the recently-landed TARDIS.

Despite having not the faintest idea where he could have possibly been, the Doctor refused to even glance at the scanner, honestly completely apathetic in regard to his location, for the moment. He could have been anywhere for all he cared—a dark, bottomless abyss—and he wouldn't have given it a second thought.

I could be at the edge of a cliff for all I care—in fact, that would be a rather suitable place. Yes, indeed. I just need out of here— anywhere, anything—anything to stop the pain…

His inner demons ravaged his broken hearts as he staggered out of the TARDIS blue doors and out into the cool night breeze.

A soft wind drifted amid the silent darkness, a cold sensation that his flaming body did not resist.

Above him bright specks of light dotted the black canopy of sky, their simple beauty serving to lessen his sadness temporarily.

So beautiful…yet so far…I'm probably on Earth… or something like that…

As he internally drank in his nighttime surroundings, the Doctor, guided by a small streetlight, perched himself on what appeared to be an ordinary park bench.

His hand stroked the frigid metal, drawing his attention back to where he was sitting—and the empty place beside him.

Oh, River…if only you could be here…I—I'm sorry…I wish I could have been stronger…or wiser…maybe then I could have saved you…properly anyway.

The sickening memory of her death crept into his mind, once again forcing him to face the inevitable truth.

She's gone. I'll never…never get to see her again…never get to tell her…

Shifting the brim of his top hat downwards, the man covered his face in shadow, as if to hide his own shame, his wobbly fingers trembling all the way.

Caught in the midst of the turbulent storm that was finally beginning to reduce him to ashes, the Doctor barely recognized the slight change in feeling as someone propped themselves beside him.

"Rough night?" an eerily familiar feminine voice startled him, and though he was sure he remembered hearing it in the past, his current state of mind made it especially difficult to place it.

The stench of alcohol was on her breath, and he supposed that she could very well be intoxicated.

The Doctor grunted, unable to look up at the strange woman.

"Did she stand you up?" the girl continued, obviously intent on ignoring his desire for solitude.

"Wha—who?" he found himself mumbling in response, clearly confused by her question.

"Your date." Her eyes skimmed over his elegant attire, though it was difficult to make out the rest of his features in the darkness.

"N-no, nothing like that." His voice quivered as he spoke. Hopefully she would sense his unease and leave him alone.

No such luck.

"What's the matter with you, then? You look like a train wreck. Seriously, you should see yourself." She batted, her words stinging like poison.

Again. I know that voice…but who is it…I can't think…why does she feel so familiar…like I could just talk to her about anything…maybe I should look at her face…but, no…it doesn't matter, anyway…

Against his better judgment and desperate to confide in someone about his grief, the Doctor began to explain the situation in the vaguest terms.

"It's—It's just…I don't think I'm ever going to see her again…" he admitted, mentally cursing himself for speaking about such matters with a woman he barely knew.

"Man, you've got it bad." She remarked somewhat loudly, an airy confidence supporting her claim.

"What? What are talking about?"

"Love." This time the woman sounded somewhat desponded herself.

"Sounds like you know from experience." The Doctor responded without thinking, still wondering why he shouldn't just turn towards her right then and there and pinpoint exactly who she was.

It took the girl a moment to answer.

"Nah. Don't have time for that rubbish. But I've been around, you know, I'm actually older than I look. Seen some things in my life. If you ask me, love is overrated. I'm better off on my own." Speaking with a false exterior, the woman was obviously trying to conceal her own troubles.

"Surely you've got some people in your life who love you. You know, family or friends, or something…" the man continued to fix his gaze on the ground, now steering the conversation elsewhere.

"I'm not a wedding person, honestly, that sort of thing makes me want to puke…all lovely dovey…whatever, I mean it's so fake. Most of the time. Though for some reason I once had this mad childhood fantasy that I was going to marry this man my mum always talked about…but I know now that that man is certainly not who she thinks he is. He's done horrible things, I'll tell you. Absolutely terrible. Makes my blood boil just thinking about it." There was an unmistakable edginess and anger to her tone, and suddenly the trembling Doctor peered over at her dark eyes, her appearance confirming the possibility that had just arisen in his mind.

No, it can't be…but it is…it has to be…Mels…why did it take me this long to realize this?

The new found knowledge chilled him to the very core, causing his heartbeats to escalate.

This is just cruel…why do I have to be here…she hates me…I can just hear it in her tone…such intense hatred.

Stiffening, the Doctor shifted his attention back to her, again scanning her chocolate brown skin as if to prove to himself that he wasn't simply hallucinating.

He continued to veil his eyes, careful that she couldn't see his face, all the while grazing her defined features, which had 'bad girl' written all over them.

This was definitely Mels. Melody Pond. His wife—only too young. There was no question about it.

"D-Don't your parents love you?" he stuttered, the images of his long-gone best friends taunting him.

"Well, I s'pose my parents love me, kind of…I mean it's complicated…but lately they've been caught up too much in themselves, they lost their baby…and apparently they've forgotten about me along the way. Not that I care."

Watching the pain and brokenness brewing beneath the surface of those dark brown eyes was a blow to his hearts. He knew the feeling all too well.

And yet, the hardest part of seeing her was the fact that she registered absolutely no recognition of him, though perhaps it was better that way, because he knew that if she did, she probably would have murdered him right then and there.

After all he had been through with his impossible River Song; it had to come to this. He had to see her before she truly knew him at one of the bitterest times of her life.

In his mind's eye he couldn't help but visualize another scene from so long ago, when a spiky haired man had looked into a stranger's eyes and seen such far-reaching love and heart-wrenching sadness, caused by his own inability to understand who she was to him or to anyone for that matter.

He didn't think he'd ever understood her agony more fully until that very moment. The realization of this came not just from the fact that he was conversing with Mels, but the possibility that at that exact time his own wife was on an archaeological expedition to the Library, encountering the sense of loss that he currently battled.

Glancing back over at the woman's terse expression, the Doctor tried to recall her recent remark.

Amy and Rory…she was talking about them…they've just lost Melody…in more ways than they will ever know.

"Your parents, you should try to help them, anyway." The man finally spoke.

"Why should I? They've never been there for me." her voice shook a little.

She was bruised and hurting on the inside, but she did a very good job of hiding it.

But it's not their fault…there was no way they could have known that their best friend was their daughter…in fact; it's ultimately my fault…

"Maybe they didn't know how to." The Doctor told her, knowing that this was the truth.

For a second, her eyes softened, but soon they quickly hardened once again, an action that was all too much like him.

Another blow.

"She's lucky, you know." Mels stated, changing the subject back to the original topic of conversation.

"Why do you say that?" the Doctor asked, his hearts pounding as the image of a certain curly haired woman filled his mind.

But is she really? After all I've put her through…if I just rewrote it all, she could have had a normal life…but she wouldn't have wanted that.

"Just look at you, all dressed up, with that ridiculous top hat and bow tie. Mate, you really wanted to impress her, nobody in their right mind would be caught dead in those clothes. And you wouldn't be so upset if you didn't love her. So, I say she must be very special. Few men are like that, and certainly not any that I'd ever hope to meet, well, besides my dad, but he doesn't count." The young-looking woman turned her gaze to the ground, her feelings of worthlessness coming to light.

Although her comments about his fashion sense were a bit irritating, the fact that she believed there was no man out there for her was sickeningly ironic. Because her future husband was sitting right beside her.

"You know, I think that you'll find that sometimes life can change when you least expect it to. There could be someone worthwhile closer than you think." The confidence in his voice was unnerving to her.

Talk about irony.

Mels snickered.

"Ha! Yeah, right. Life doesn't work like that, trust me, I know from experience. What are you, some sort of philosopher, or something?" she inquired of the odd man.

"Not exactly, no."

The two were suddenly startled by the humming of sirens that blared in the distance.

"Oops. Ah well, that's my cue. I'm afraid I must be off. It was good talking to you. The name's Mels, by the way." She quickly offered a hand, and the Doctor obliged.

"Smith. John Smith." He hoped that would satisfy her.

"Yeah, right." The dark-skinned woman smirked, able to see through his lie without the slightest difficulty.

Some things never change.

"That woman, your wife, I'm guessing, you'll see her again, I'm sure." A tiny smile crept onto her lips.

"You have no idea." He whispered more to himself than to her.

"Well, goodnight, then."

"Goodnight." The word escaped his mouth without a second thought.

With that, the naughty Mels turned and began to walk away.

"Wait, Mels, your parents—you should talk to them, give them a second chance."

Cocking her head, the woman replied back to him.

"Actually I was planning on seeing them tomorrow. They're looking for their friend, that bloke I was telling you about, the one a wanted to marry when I was a kid. Let's just say they're going to get an unexpected surprise." An angry fire was suddenly alight in her eyes, though it soon dissipated.

Wow, little does she know that tomorrow will change her life forever. Her life as River Song will begin.

This realization struck him hard, the memory of her first murder of him springing to mind.

"Yeah, well, be careful, alright."

"Nice thought. But it's not really my style. Ever so dull." She chuckled lightly, reminding him of his wife more than ever. The blare of sirens increased, and Mels paled a bit. "Okay, sorry, but I've gotta make a run for it now. Maybe I'll see you again, sometime. Anyway, good luck. And goodnight." Mels called out as she scampered down the path.

"G-goodnight… Melody Pond." The Doctor stuttered so she couldn't hear, breathing in the sight of her for what was more than likely the very last time.

He watched as her short dress fluttered in the wind, her dark hair trailing behind her head.

The Doctor blinked and she was gone.

Gone. She's really gone. Forever.

And suddenly he could no longer picture Mels, but instead, his final encounter with her older self, replayed in his mind.

He remembered the way her wild curls had framed her face perfectly, and the light of the towers had illuminated her emerald colored gown, as the beautiful music delighted their ears.

But the Doctor had never been listening, for his gaze never once left his wife.

He painfully recalled their final kiss, so sweet and tender, their lips pressing together with a desperation that she had not yet understood.

Now, staring at the blackness before him, the man in the bow tie heard the rapid footsteps of Melody Pond as she fled out of sight and far away.

The Doctor had never felt so utterly alone.

His mind battled images of his wife—in every form she had taken, as a beautiful baby, a terrified little girl, a bitter and angry psychopath, or a breathtaking woman whom he had married- and suddenly he could no longer hold it together, the loss of her finally striking a fateful blow.

Placing his hand to his hot cheek, the man felt the small droplets pouring down his skin without mercy, the tears echoing only a fraction of his internal brokenness.

Then, with his fading strength, he turned to his beloved blue box, and with a snap of his fingers, the looming doors opened, soon closing behind as he entered them.

And as painful as it was, the Doctor, vowing to remember the best of River Song, did what he had always done.

He kept on.

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