Author's Note: So, I was inspired to write this a few days ago. It takes place after the Wedding of River Song for both River and the Doctor. I hope you enjoy it:) Remember that reviews are always appreciated.
Leaning back on the console chair, the man in the bow tie pressed his hand to his forehead, obviously in a state of deep concentration.
His hearts thudded rapidly in his chest and his head throbbed as he recalled the previous moments of the day.
The Doctor released a desponded sigh.
Gazing up at the glittering TARDIS console, the Last of the Time Lords tried to renew his ancient, weathered soul.
She was his blue box, his beautiful blue box— his key to discovering the impossibilities of the universe-his constant companion—his home. So, why did she suddenly feel so cold, so empty?
Because every time he found himself peering around his ship he was hastily reminded of the painful, yet heart-breaking truth.
He was alone.
Not just traveling on his own, as he often had during select periods of his life—but truly, properly, and completely alone.
The Doctor sucked in a breath.
It was always difficult to cope with this ever-present feeling of loneliness—but, now it suddenly felt so intense, so real.
And yet he supposed he should have been happy.
He was alive!
But was he really? How could his blood be teeming with life when practically everyone else in the universe, including his best friends, thought he'd perished at that beach, that blasted Lake Silencio, Utah?
Perhaps they were right. In a way, he was dead. Dead to himself—dead to the fact that no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't see Amy and Rory ever again. Because he couldn't tell them the truth.
It was too dangerous, too risky. The Doctor had already lost enough loved ones throughout the course of his miserable, wretched life, and he was not for a second willing to add to that list. Not again. The pain was unbearable as it was.
But even amid that silent torment, raging war on his old, weary soul without remorse, a quiet whisper echoed through his hearts, reminding him of another truth that he dreaded to come to terms with.
He still had her.
River Song, Melody Pond, the daughter of his best friends, his murderer—was currently being incarcerated in the notorious Stormcage Containment Facility. Enduring the fear, the pain, the solitude—all for a crime she didn't commit.
And that was only the beginning. Because when that infuriating, remarkably stubborn woman had foolishly tried to save him by rewriting a fixed point in time, he hadn't ever just told her the truth straight out, oh, no, he'd been so shaken by her inexplicable devotion and undeniable love for him that instead of making things simple and maintaining his sternness and anger over the situation, he'd done the unthinkable.
He married her. Sure, it may have been in an aborted timeline, in a world that never was, but he remembered, so it happened, so he did it.
But what the Doctor was at a complete loss to understand was why? Why had he married River Song?
Maybe it was only because he'd known that it was a move necessary to get her to do what had to be done. If he hadn't done it, time would have literally disintegrated.
He could pretend that was the truth, but the more he pondered it, the clearer it became that he was lying to himself. The harsh, shocking reality was that all he had really needed to do to convince River to kill him was to assure her that he wasn't actually going to die. So that automatically canceled out his previous reasoning, leaving only one explanation, no matter how difficult to accept:
The Doctor had married River Song because he wanted to.
But what did that mean, exactly? What did it mean for them? Where would they go from there?
This wasn't like those other marriages he'd had over the years—accidental engagements or momentary flings with people he hardly even knew. This wasn't dismissible. No, this was genuine, real, binding—which left him no other option. He had to run away. He didn't know how else to deal with himself, or his feelings, for that matter.
Because every time her beautiful, tear-streaked face entered his mind, he realized just how much he wanted her, even now, before coming to understand just how cruel he had been—how much he didn't deserve this, didn't deserve her.
His own bitter words reverberated in his ears without fail. She'd loved him enough to go to extreme, impossible efforts to save him, and what had he done? He'd spat in her face, claiming he didn't want to marry her, calling her efforts stupid and embarrassing to him.
But I was angry…nothing was going according to plan…what else was I supposed to say? And she was so bloody stubborn about it all…how can she love me like that? It's impossible…I still don't understand…because I don't deserve it one bit…
As these thoughts stirred in his head, another realization took hold of his mind, leaving his hearts ravaged by guilt.
The Doctor wasn't any different from her. And yet he'd had the nerve to blame her, to insult her, to tear her apart, when he had absolutely no right to do that. He had thought she'd been foolish to save him—but then another face, one much older, much wiser entered his mind—Professor River Song. And there was someone else, the desperate spiky haired man who was his past self, handcuffed to a pole. He'd struggled, oh; he'd kicked and screamed, wanting ever so much to take her place. To save her. But she'd known better. And being the strong woman she was, she'd given her own life for him, knowing that it was the only option.
'Time can be rewritten,' the man had claimed, vainly, having no idea the implications of his words. Just as that terrified, curly haired woman had also cried on that beach, oh so desperately. And in his heart the Doctor had hated her for it, for making everything so difficult, when it should've been easy. But now, as the bare truth was laid before him and he recalled that moment, he didn't see foolish, naïve River anymore, he saw something far more terrifying—a reflection of himself.
He had no right to blame her.
The guilt of his own stupidity and blindness burdened his hearts, reminding him of the real reason he was so keen to avoid River Song, his wife.
Because her insufferable love for him was unbearable. He couldn't stand it, selfishly enjoying her company when he had already been so endlessly cruel to her. And it wouldn't stop. She'd always be heading for her final destination. The Library. He couldn't forgive himself for that.
And yet he pictured her in his mind—that gorgeous, flirty, reckless archaeologist with her guns and curls and antics and passion and trust and love, so deep and unwarranted—everything about his new wife that aroused and delighted him, setting his hearts on fire and at the same time, shattering them into a million pieces.
He needed her now more than ever. And that was the most difficult problem of all.
Amidst the chilling grip of darkness, the curly haired woman lay uncomfortably on her cot.
She pulled the threadbare blanket over her body, trying to rid herself of the fear and pain that ravaged her heart.
Her efforts were useless. River gained no relief, no solace.
A tiny flicker of hope was still wavering deep within her, but even that had nearly been extinguished.
Shutting her eyes tightly, the Child of the TARDIS tried to remain strong, wanting to suppress the sea of doubt that swarmed in her head.
But she couldn't. She just couldn't.
She trembled, her body shaking against her will, echoing only a fraction of the terror she was really feeling.
It had been two weeks. Fourteen long, agonizing days since she'd last seen him—the Doctor. Two weeks in prison out of 12,000 consecutive life sentences. How was she going to deal with this? How was it going to work?
She'd made a few successful escapes in that time, but where had it really gotten her? She hadn't acquired any method of travel, hadn't learned the ins and outs of prison life, hadn't a method of contacting the Doctor—so where was the fun in that? She was supposed to be the mighty River Song, high and strong, the woman who could get in and out of jail as if the walls weren't there. But she didn't live up to that.
Here she was, crumpled on her tiny bed, pitying herself and being forced to do something that had never seemed more difficult: waiting.
Beside the cot lay her beloved blue book, her diary—turned to her latest entry, her most recent adventure with the Doctor. Alderon Beta. What a night that was.
She could still remember the feeling of his lips against hers as the light from the stars poured onto their bodies like daylight.
But it had never gone farther than that and the man in the bow tie had soon taken her back to cell 426, looking slightly sheepish. He may have loved her, in fact, he'd even done Berlin. But he had been young. Too young. Too young to understand why she toiled in this blasted prison night after night.
He wasn't her husband, not yet. There was something missing—like he was unfinished. He had yet to experience that unforgettable day less than a month ago when he had wrapped that bowtie of his around her wrist and married her.
She hadn't even seen that Doctor since then, and now, she found herself doubting if it even counted.
River continued to hope, but reality set in, increasing its nasty grip over her heart.
'River, you and I, it's all in the wrong order. We never meet in sequence. We put everything in the diary so we know where we are.'
His words pounded through her head, forcing her to accept the inevitable.
Because of the way their timelines were, it was possible that she'd never see her husband again. She'd have to encounter younger versions of him, forcing her to withhold the deepest, most intimate desires of her heart.
And that terrified her. Absolutely terrified her, leaving a dark, gut-wrenching fear to gnaw at her soul unmercifully.
Rocking herself back and forth slowly, River Song battled other doubts.
Even if she did see an older Doctor again, how would she even be able to face him?
She was supposed to be strong, brave, but she was so incredibly weak. He'd obviously thought so, too.
'I don't want to marry you.'
His biting remarks treaded through her mind.
'River, River, this is insane! Worse, it's stupid! You embarrass me!
She could still feel the intensity of his gaze, those cold, loathing, angry eyes glaring into her soul as they devoured her heart.
And in spite of all he'd said, he married her. Without even asking for her consent or explaining what he intended to do. The Doctor took her as his wife, while also revealing the fact that he wasn't actually going to die.
But that was in an aborted timeline that she had created; the memory of their kiss hardly more than a remnant of a dying dream.
So, if that was the case, did their marriage even count? Did the Doctor even care about the conflicting emotions that continued to ravage her heart day after day?
Her fingers crumpled at her side, she wanted to do so many things when she saw him again—to scream, to slap, to hold, to kiss, to love…and more than anything she wanted him to love her back.
But sometimes she couldn't help but wonder if he was really capable of it. Love. After living for so long, and losing so much, did he truly have a place for her in his hearts?
In spite of it all, his faint words- his dying message resonated through her head, reminding her of what he had told her on that fateful day when Melody Pond had murdered her target. The Doctor loved River Song.
Maybe it had all been a lie. Deception flowing from his quivering lips. Rule One. Another method of manipulation. She should never have been daft enough to believe him.
The memories, the hurt, the kisses, the lies—everything stinging like a bitter poison seeping into her soul. Why should she have expected anything less? Her life had never been easy.
And it's only about to get worse.
River couldn't help but think, as she pondered the prospect of facing younger Doctors, who couldn't identify with her, who didn't know the half of what she was going through. And she'd have to go about her business, plastering a smile to her face, the word, 'spoilers' gushing from her lips without a second thought.
A shiver rushed down her spine. Her body quivered again, the horrid fear of it all rushing through her body like a deadly disease.
And it was then that she noticed the droplets pooling in her eyes, another sign of weakness- a trait that her captors had tried to tear out of her. Apparently they hadn't succeeded. She almost wished they had. It would have been better, it would have lessened the hurt if she'd never fallen for him, never realized how wonderful he truly was.
But River Song couldn't bring herself to believe that.
Because even though it would surely rip her soul apart, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Doctor would always be worth it to her.
Even when it hurt.
The man in the bow tie was startled by the familiar whirring-chirring sound of the TARDIS. He wasn't piloting, so she must have been going off on her own.
Rising to his feet, his hearts still heavy, the Doctor approached the console, gripping the railing as his beloved ship landed in who-knew-where.
"Where are we? Why have you brought me here?" he asked, anger reigning in his tone as he turned to face the scanner.
What was the Old Girl trying to do? Cheer him up? If that was the case, then she was wasting her efforts.
His light eyes scoured the screen in front of him, his fingers twisting the knob to get a visual indication of his surroundings.
One glimpse and his body went completely numb. The Doctor's hearts beat rapidly, the color draining from his face as he recognized the sight of a familiar prison cell.
His stomach knotted, entangling with a mixture of fear and dread that made it difficult to breathe.
It wasn't until a second glance that he watched the pale form of his wife, wreathing beneath her blanket, a series of tears skidding down her cheeks.
"River…" he rasped, his body paralyzed by the scene that was unfolding before him.
Frantic and frightened, the man in the bow tie began to maneuver the controls without thinking. But the TARDIS wouldn't budge. Apparently she had her own agenda in mind.
His head throbbed. What was he supposed to do? He'd never been known to do well when a woman was crying.
But this wasn't just any woman. This was River. His River. His wife. She may have been the last person he wanted to see, but she was the one person he needed the most. And vice versa.
He peered at the scanner again, watching as the curly haired woman tilted her head slightly, quickly wiping away her tears with her fist and trying to get herself together.
The Doctor half-expected her to move, but she didn't, despite the fact that she was obviously aware that he was there. Boy, she must have been really upset with him, then. Though he couldn't blame her for that. He deserved every bit of her anger and more.
"Goodness, do I really have to do everything, myself?" the Doctor huffed to the TARDIS, his hearts beating frantically as he slowly trudged out of the blue box.
Pulling the door open, the man in the bow tie approached River's cell, ever so quietly, secretly hoping he could still turn back.
But, no, I have to do this…River needs me…
He soniced the lock almost instinctively, entering cell 426 and standing awkwardly to the side.
"Where have you been?" she demanded, her face growing constricted. "I haven't seen you for two weeks, Doctor! The first two weeks in this blasted place and you only pop in once."
"River, I…I'm so…" he began, realizing that she must have done Lake Silencio fairly recently.
"When are you?" she managed to get straight to the point, avoiding the usual 'hello Sweetie' banter and such.
That was never a good sign.
The Doctor gulped.
"I just did Lake Silencio for the second time… got out of the Teselecta not too long ago, actually. When are you?" he asked, very hesitantly, already knowing the answer.
For a moment River simply sat there, her eyes scanning his face in disbelief. She then forced herself to her feet.
Her bottom lip quivered as she spoke.
"That was about a month ago, for me. I haven't seen this you since…you know…how could you do this? How could you just leave me like that?" She slapped him.
"Ow! River, seriously…" the Doctor began, his fingers pressing against his cheek.
River's eyes looked downcast. She was fighting tears. Again.
"River, I'm sorry, please don't cry…" his hands moved wildly in the air until they finally rested on her shoulders. "Come on, let's go to the TARDIS…then we can sort this out..."
She nodded silently, too bogged down to protest, following him as he entered the police telephone box.
Once they had entered, the Doctor and River stood facing each other, neither knowing where to start.
Noting River's sour expression, the Doctor mentally prepared himself for whatever might come next.
"River, I'm truly very sorry for upsetting you, but I can't help you unless you tell me exactly what's wrong..." He tried to approach the subject calmly, though his voice wavered as he spoke. River wasn't the only one beginning to get emotional.
"Do you have any idea how difficult you are sometimes? What am I supposed to think when you don't show up for weeks? After all that's happened, the aborted timeline, everything, does it mean anything to you? Do I mean anything to you?" River stifled a sob.
The Doctor felt his face grow hot. His hearts pounded in his chest.
"Am I really so stupid and embarrassing that you want to avoid me for the rest of my life? I saw the TARDIS land, Doctor, I saw you hesitate… I know you came here by accident…" she continued, her words cutting him to the very core. The worst part was that she couldn't have been more right.
"I'm sorry, River, really, I…" He scratched his cheek nervously avoiding her gaze.
"Are you, though? Or is that just another one of your lies? Rule One, am I right?" her entire body trembled.
He wanted to reach out and touch her, to tell her she was wrong, but his emotions got the best of him.
"No, no, that is not Rule One! Stop it, listen to me! Do you really think I would deliberately lie to someone I love about something so personal? I truly am sorry. I didn't mean those things…You are not stupid or embarrassing to me…" he confessed, his cheeks deepening with color, as he scanned her face nervously. Even in her anger she was incredibly beautiful to him.
"Then why did you say them?" River spat back, her confidence diminishing.
The Doctor gently placed a hand on her back.
She stiffened slightly, but he continued, anyway.
"I was extremely angry with you for trying to save me. I wasn't thinking straight. I'm sorry. Really. I'd just expected things to go smoother. I thought you would see the danger of the situation and do what needed to be done. But you're so bloody stubborn that you just wouldn't give up. And that's just it, River. I don't deserve that kind of loyalty—that kind of love. I didn't understand how you could possibly be willing to love me that much after all I've done to you. I still don't…" a single tear trickled down his cheek. "I've stolen so much from you, your childhood, everything…and now I've forced you into this prison, just to keep me safe. I didn't want to face you because I'm afraid that I'll hurt you like that again. I can't do that, anymore. I don't want to." His voice was filled with emotion.
He watched as River's expression changed, her eyes watering, no longer fuming.
"You also said you didn't want to marry me. And then you did it anyway. Why? You certainly didn't have to."
Softly grasping her hand, the Doctor began to explain.
"I married you because I wanted to. Just that. Because while you're stubborn and infuriating, you're also clever, mad, and beautiful and so many other things…and most importantly I married you because…I…love…you…" he admitted very quietly, tears pooling in his eyes. Oh, why couldn't he keep himself together?
River was at a loss of words.
"But does it count? It technically never happened…so…are we married, really?" she barely managed to whisper.
"Oh, River, what do you think?" he spoke very softly, his hand firmly touching her cheek as he bent down to kiss her, his lips brushing against hers in one swift, yet tender motion.
The Doctor drew back after one long moment, completely flustered.
River's eyes were a dazzling blue-green, and her wonderful curls framed her face perfectly. She was so beautiful. He felt his pulse accelerate.
And suddenly she wasn't just River anymore; she was so much more than that. And he wasn't just the lonely Doctor, either. They were married. They were one.
"Wife…" the word rolled off his tongue, it was a new word for her, refreshing, promising.
"Husband…" he shivered as she called him this for the very first time.
River leaned closer to him, and before he knew it, they were kissing again, this time, with all the passion stored up in their hearts. The Doctor lost his train of thought, caught up in his fiery emotions.
When they stopped to catch their breaths, the man in the bow tie suddenly had a brilliant idea.
Whipping his sonic out of his pocket, the Doctor pressed the tiny button.
At his signal, glorious music filled the console room, and he slowly took River in his arms, moving her back and forth ever so slightly.
"What are you doing?" she started, slightly confused.
He pulled her closer to him, enjoying the feel of her body against his.
"You know, we never did get to dance at our wedding. And I always dance at weddings, don't I?" the Doctor grinned brightly, placing one hand in the small of her back.
The Doctor bent down, his breath lacing her ear as he sang ever so softly to his wife.
And together they swayed to the music, their rapid heartbeats mingling together, as they clung to one another, dancing into the night.
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Have a great day:)