a.n. Yeah, everyone's done this, but I couldn't help it, it just happened. Cried my eyes out all three times I watched TATM. Oh well. Inspired in part by the opening song from 'Oliver and Company', titled 'once upon a time in New York city' look it up.
Disclaimer – I don't own it yadda yadda. Obviously if I owned it I would have omitted River's 'but not all the time' when he asked her to travel with him :P
River Song walked through the TARDIS as if underwater. She felt weighed down. Damaged. She was so glad the Doctor had left to read the note left by Amy in her book. She didn't think she could keep up the pretence much longer. It hurt. It hurt so much. The only trip with the Doctor that was even close to the horror of this was 1969, and even that wasn't as bad. It had already happened for her at that point.
My parents are dead.
The thought appeared in her minds just as she reached their room and River had to brace herself against the door frame to prevent herself from sinking to the ground. There was a painful lump in her throat that wouldn't go away and her eyes were burning with repressed tears. She couldn't cry. She wouldn't cry.
Damn it, don't cry.
Melody was always disobedient. She never thought she'd end up disobeying herself.
The tears started to fall silently and she made her way to her parents bed, sitting down and hugging a pillow to her chest, savouring the scent, the unmade bed, the lived-in room, because how long would it stay like this?
River hiccuped and fell sideways, lying down, still crying into the pillow. She hated crying, but sometimes she just couldn't stop.
She knew she hadn't seen the last of them. Her parents would come back, or to be more specific, rewind. River didn't know how much she had already seen of the Doctor's early adventures with them, but it couldn't be the last yet. She could even visit them before this had all happened. But for some reason none of that helped. She had already seen versions of her parents who didn't know her. Could she keep this secret from them?
River lowered the pillow, taking giant gulps of air, the coldness numbing her throat. The TARDIS buzzed above her head, but River said nothing. Then she spotted something on the bedside table.
A picture frame. A picture of her. The tears she had just managed to get under control came forth again and, for once, she didn't try to stop.
'This is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends.' The Doctor squeezed his eyes shut. He knew he shouldn't travel alone. He knew that. He'd even asked River to come with him, not for the first time, but he knew he shouldn't be alone, and he didn't want to be alone.
He turned the paper over and spotted some more text, at the very bottom of the page, written in tiny print. 'I told her to look after you Doctor, look after her too. We all know about rule one, but she told us rule two. River Song lies as well.'
River's words echoed through his head and he was amazed he hadn't spotted them for what they were before. "It doesn't matter."
An absolute, complete white lie. Now he thought about it, recalled exactly how she had looked, he knew, of course it mattered. Her stature, her breathing. The forced smile on her face and the subtle shake in her voice. He just wasn't paying particular attention to his wife. He was grieving. He was grieving and he was selfish, so he didn't notice that she was too. They were her parents. They were her best friends as well as his. River had known them for her whole life.
At that moment the Doctor hated himself.
Amy asked him to look after her daughter and even as he read the message he knew he hadn't done it.
He wanted to go to River. He wanted to hold her and he wanted to grieve with her. He didn't know how he could face her though. How he could have forgotten that she was their daughter, how he could be so wrapped up in himself to notice she was in pain.
You can't change what you did before. He said to himself, but you can try to make up for it now.
He hurried back to the TARDIS to find his wife.
River hated herself. She really did. Why did she have to get so emotional? Every time she managed to get herself even halfway under control there was something here to set her off again. Her picture. Her father's Roman helmet. Her mother's clothes. The various Disney movies lying on the bookshelf. She could remember watching them all with her parents as a child. She had barely batted an eye as Simba's father died. Bambi had bored her half to death. There was only one Disney movie that had, and she was embarrassed to admit, did, make her cry a little. The opening to 'Oliver and Company'. They had teased her forever about that, to the point that it was like a running joke.
River didn't know why it got her. Maybe it was because she had regenerated in New York, and could relate to the unwanted kitten, lost in the rain at night. The opening song started to echo in her head, the lyrics bringing forth more tears. It was a wonder she wasn't dehydrated at this point.
'If it's always once upon a time in New York city,
Why does nightfall find you feeling so alone?
How could anyone stay starry eyed,
When it's raining cats and dogs outside,
And the rain is saying "Now you're on your own"?'
The Doctor watched, unseen, from the doorway, tears shining in his own eyes. He hated seeing her in any pain. He wanted to make it stop. He wanted River to be happy again and he wanted his friends back. But that wasn't going to happen. The least he could to was look after their daughter.
He opened his mouth to say something, but found he had nothing to say. Closing his mouth, the Time Lord approached his wife, sitting beside her and putting an awkward hand on her shoulder.
River stiffened in her position, lying down on the bed. She hadn't noticed that the Doctor was there.
"I'm sorry." He muttered, "about your wrist, I just..." He trailed off.
She gave a weak, humourless laugh. Only the Doctor would wait until now to apologise about that. "I've got bigger things to worry about, believe it or not." She said.
The next thing River knew her husband was lying beside her, his arms wrapped around her waist and his head buried in her shoulder. They lay together in silence for several minutes, both crying but neither admitting it. After an age River said softly, "I didn't even get to say goodbye to dad." Her voice shaking.
"I know." The Doctor said, tears leaking from his own eyes.
"I should have taken him away from there as soon as I saw him." She sniffed. "I knew you weren't with him, I knew there were angels everywhere, why couldn't I just..." She trailed off.
He tightened his arms around her, "It wasn't your fault."
"It wasn't yours either."
The Doctor closed his eyes a sighed. River could feel his breath on her arm. "Then whose fault was it?"
River could feel her eyes stinging again as she tried to hold back more tears. "Does it have to be someone's fault?" She asked.
"Yes." He said, breathing heavily for a while, "I- I want to be able to blame someone." A small sob escaped, "I can never see them again."
They lay there together, neither wanting to leave because that meant being alone, admitting that they were alone. River eventually pulled them both up into a sitting position, the Doctor's arm draped over her shoulders.
"Did you know this was going to happen?" The Doctor asked, "You were a bit... skittish."
River shook her head, her curls brushing against his face. "No, not exactly. I knew something was going to happen."
She gave a humourless laugh, "Because sweetie, spoilers are one thing, but I have seen a future version of you, and when one knows someone as well as I know you I work some things out." She paused, "You just looked... older, I suppose, not that that means much, and just... tired."
The Time Lord tried to smile but only ended up crying again. "You'd think I'd be used to losing people by now." He said, trying to keep his face straight.
"I can't image ever getting used to this." She sniffed, "And I know they're going to be alright."
The Doctor turned, "How can you know? They're going to have to live through world war two. The depression. All those tourist attractions for time travellers, they're no fun if you're being linear about them."
River opened her mouth to speak and paused a second, "Because they're together. And they lived a long time. And there are records Doctor." She paused, "I looked them up. They were happy."
Far from comforting him, the Time Lord was shaking softly. "Stay." He said, "Please."
She smiled sadly. "Not forever."
"No." He swallowed, "No. You're right, you have to go."
River raised his head so he met her eyes. "Not now." He saw the heartbreak there, "I don't want to leave yet."
He embraced her and River melted into the hug, savouring it. Knowing that he was all she had left, and she was all he had left. "Don't hide from me." He said, "I don't want you to."
She sighed. "It's easier."
"River, you don't need to look after me."
She sighed. "No one else will."
The Doctor released her from the embrace. "Why can't it work both ways?" He asked, "I hate seeing you in pain."
"I don't show you."
"That doesn't mean it's not happening."
They were silent, staring at each other for a long time before River heaved a heavy sigh. "Okay." She said quietly. "I'll stop, but it won't help you much. The next time you see me I'll probably be younger."
The Doctor's face lightened a little. "I'll keep an eye out." River returned the half smile. "Let's watch a movie." He said, smiling more.
River laughed at her bizarre husband. "Why?"
"I need to forget for a bit. Don't you?"
She nodded. To her horror the Doctor pulled Oliver and Company from the shelf.
He grinned, "Have you seen this?"
River shook her head, but some panic must have been showing on her face.
The Doctor chuckled. "You cried didn't you?" She looked away, not answering. "River..." He said reprimandingly.
She crossed her arms. "Every time I've watched it." She grudgingly admitted.
The Doctor laughed, pouncing on his wife into a tight embrace. "You're adorable." He said.
River scowled. "Shut up."
"Make me." He grinned.
The next thing he knew she had captured his lips with hers in a passionate embrace, wrapping her arms around his back and pressing her body against his. After an age they broke apart.
"I love you." They breathed simultaneously, then laughed at their synchronisity.
"I still want to watch that movie." The Doctor said, smiling.
River scowled. "You know it'll make you cry too."
He wrapped one arm around her. "I don't care."
a.n. Cried writing this too. Repeatedly. Pleeeeeeaaase review, it will stop the crying.