It began with a simple question,
"Why did you marry me?"
The Doctor had seen many versions of River, but he has never seen her look so vulnerable. Her arms were draped around her like a protective shield, eyes downcast refusing to meet his gaze.
"River." He spoke softly pleading with her to look at him.
He looked her in the eye in search of an answer, expecting to see something familiar that would ease his mind or at least stop his hearts from racing. What he found was doubt. The one thing he's never seen in her eyes before today. River might not have been sure of many things in her life giving her upbringing but one thing she was sure of was him. And The Doctor skillfully used that to his advantage. He knew how she felt; it was clear on her from the moment she first laid a hand on him in the library. Even then, when he hadn't the simplest clue who she was, River still believed in him.
The easy answer would have been because I love you. But his mouth couldn't form the words. Instead he answered "I don't know".
It was true he didn't have the slightest idea why he married her. River Song. Melody Pond. The daughter of his best friend. The women who was born and breed to kill him, and he just asked her to look him in the eye, the man she loves so much she would destroy a universe and kill him. To spend the rest of her days in Stormcage and he couldn't even tell her why he married her. Or if he loved her. It's been a long while since that moment on top of the pyramid. He has stolen away a few of her nights and whisks her away on some grand adventure that usually ends up with them in bed tangled up in each other. And each of those nights he would return her the next morning with a chaste kiss and a promise that she would see him soon. For her soon usually meant a few months. A like her mother she waits for him. She waits for him to trust her, waits for him to love her. Waits for him to show some sign that's she isn't some nuisance that pops up in time stream.
He knows that he has some strong feelings towards her but he doesn't want to give it any name. The last time he was in this position, the girl he loved was taken away from him and trapped in a parallel universe. He already knows how River and his story end's. There isn't a happy ending. How could he give himself to her fully like she so willingly did when he knew she would end up in that library? Even then River wouldn't have asked him to change one line in their story, and he can't even tell her he loves her.
River stood there motionless. He expects her to explode, to yell even for wasting her time, because it's true. He wasted so much of her time when she could have been with someone who would love her. She is brilliant. Wild hair and even wilder eyes and smile that makes him week in the knees. She is absolutely beautiful. Her mind is like no other, she is able to keep up with him while keeping him on his toes. She is perfect for him, and refuses to acknowledge it.
"Ok." Her voice is quiet and steady but her eyes give her away. He's hurt her and he just wants to make it better
"Just Ok." She turns to walk away; he grapples with himself as to whether or not he should follow. In the end he follows her to a room the TARDIS made her for moments like this when she needed to be alone. River walked into the room and laid down on her back and stares at the ceiling. He stands in the door frame, listening to the quite hum of the TARDIS. He doesn't know how long he stands there before she speaks.
"You know, I think I always knew that you didn't love me. I hoped. God I hoped. But our time isn't fixed, it can be rewritten. You loving me isn't fixed, but me killing you is. I was born to kill you. That's what they told me. My sole purpose in life was to kill you. But I don't believe that. I think I was born to love you. Who else could I love but this impossible man."
She spoke more to herself than she did the Doctor he just stood there and listen.
"I think no matter what happened in our timelines that changed everything I know I would always end up loving you. Even now while my heart is breaking I can't bring myself to hate you or regret any of this"
"You should." He said barely above a whisper
"I should what?"
"You should hate me. You should hate me with every fiber of your being River."
"Don't you think I tried," her voice trembled slightly "I tried to hate you but I can't. The funny thing is I don't know why. I can't ever remember a time when I didn't love you. I can't remember when your smile didn't brighten my day, or when your voice didn't make me shiver or when your touch made me weak in knees. Even when you a rambling about a planet I couldn't care less about I still find you endearing," She smiled to herself "And that's ok."
"Don't you dare" He yelled at her "Don't you say that it's ok." He felt as if his chest was being ripped open, how could she forgive him so easily? "You should hate me," he screamed, she finally sat up and looked at him. "You need to hate me"
"Why sweetie? Tell me why."
He looked her dead in the eyes, unshed tears forming and said "Because I can't love you, I won't love you."
"Doctor, tell me why you won't love me?" She knew, of course she knew. She knew everything about him so why not this. "Is it because of her Doctor? You still love Rose."
He would be lying if he said he didn't love Rose Tyler. Just the mention of her name makes his heart shudder. But what he feels for Rose pales in comparison to whatever he feels for River. Rose is the reason he refuses to give in to River. He looks at her and he can see she is falling apart, but she refuses to fall because she needs to be there for him and that makes him hate himself even more. Losing Rose was hard enough. If, not if. When he loses River he doesn't know how he will survive.
He doesn't answer her. There's no need to answer. River gets off the bed and walks to him, grabbing his face forcing him to look her in the eye. She closes her eyes and brushes her lips gently against his, holding him there. Not knowing where to place his hands he places them on her waist pulling her closer to him. She reluctantly pulls back, burying her head in his chest she hugs him tight, like she never wants to let go, he breathes her scent into his lungs. He loves the smell of her, she always smells of cinnamon. Cinnamon reminds him of home, she reminds him of home. She makes his life bearable and it feels as if she is about to walk out and it would be no faults but his own.
"Don't ever feel bad about loving someone Sweetie." He watches her as she tries to blink back tears. "I know how much you loved," she chokes on her words "love her. I'm not enough. I will never be enough when it comes to her."
His brain is screaming at him to tell the brilliant women that she is enough; it's just that they don't have enough time.
"River I …"
"Sweetie it's ok. You don't have to love me. After today you don't ever have to see me again, well you know what I mean." She smiled slightly trying to make light of the situation "Like you said time can be rewritten." Her words tore into him; he doesn't want to write River out of his life. He wants her forever.
"I don't want that" he said, ducking his head into her shoulders, pulling her into him as close as he could.
"Dammit River", he explodes pushing her away. He can't make up if he wants her near him or as far away as possible.
"You scare me so much" He yells, pulling at his hair while pacing back and forth. "So damn much. I need you. I need you more than I needed anything or anyone. You make everything bearable, you make it easier to breath just with your smile and your 'hello sweetie'. Yeah I still love Rose," she flinches at this. "But what I feel for you," He stops pacing and looks at her, she standing there shocked. He grabs her hands and holds them "I married you because I love you. I love you River Song, I love everything about you from you're untamable hair to you pistol packing trigger happy personality." That earns a small watery chuckle.
"I don't want to lose you River. But I know it's inevitable. I lose everything I love. I can't lose you River. I won't survive."
River throws her arms around his neck, kissing him with all that she has trying to pour all her love into this kiss. The Doctor returns it just as fervently. Pushing her back until the back of her knees are touching the bed, gracefully she falls back pulling him with her never breaking there kiss. The Doctors hands are fiddling with the hem of her shirt pushing it up slightly, caressing each patch of skin the shirt reveals. River moans into his mouth. Pulling back breaking the kiss he pulls the offending shirt over her head. River stares up at him with nothing but pure unadulterated love and he can't help the tears that spill from his eyes.
She pulls him down and holds him, as he cries; calming him down with soft words of love.
"I love you River Song."
He knows that they won't have the forever he constantly wishes for but he has her now. And he will show her how much he loves her until the day she dies.
"And I love you."