AN ~ SPOILERS: for Angels Take Manhattan. WARNING: contains mature themes, including mention of (kind of accidental) self-harm. Not the wrist breaking.
This is an unusually dark piece for me, but then I heard this song (Breathe No More, Evanescence) and though this piece doesn't really follow the song at all, the mournful mood of it is just so heartbreakingly beautiful...That and 'Dead Man Walking' (The Script). You must listen to them. They are amazing.
All the little pieces falling, shatter;
Shards of me too sharp to put them back together.
Breathe No More
As she fumbled the keys to her apartment after the longest night in the history of planet Earth, River Song felt as far as she could get from the two-hearted, gunslinging female-Indiana-Jones she was reputed to be. The flames of grief and rage, pity and hatred, had extinguished, and all that remained inside her was a mud of cold ashes and salty tears which aged her by decades all at once. Her hands trembled violently as she forced the key towards the lock, and then her legs and her chest and her throat began to tremble too, so that swallowing her pain became almost impossible.
She heard the door click shut, and threw her shoulder blades against it and tried to stay standing. She fixed her eyes on a point on the wall opposite her, and tried to keep them level with it.
And failed. She had hit the floor, and as she hugged her knees to her chest she howled into the empty room, and roared her pain, and hot tears streamed down her face. She covered her head with her hands and tore at her hair and shrieked into her knees.
"I HATE YOU!"
She hated Rory for abandoning her. She hated Amy for following him. She hated the Doctor for letting them go and she hated herself – oh, she despised herself – for breaking her God-damned wrist. But the words weren't good enough, weren't painful enough. They were too often used, even by herself. And they were true. She did hate him. But this was more than hatred. Far more complex than hatred. Too complex for words. She was so angry, so angry, that yelling at the world was not going to fix it. She needed to break something. Anything. Herself.
It must hurt.
"DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU DOCTOR!"
But it did no good. She roared and howled and screamed until her voice crackled and gave out, until her eyes were red and raw, until she could no longer see a thing, and her hair was torn in patches and her dress irreparably stained with tears. She battled with herself in that tiny corner, digging her nails into her head, into her arms, her thighs; punching her knees and forcing her forehead against them until she found the fire to stand up. Then it only got worse. She hammered the door. She kicked the coffee table. She grabbed a few nearby decorations – vases, photo frames, even a portrait – and flung them as far as she could in various directions. One of the glass vases shattered in her hand, and blood ran down her arm and spattered the carpet and her dress and her face and she didn't care. It was the right hand anyway. Curse that hand.
River did not relent until she was bruised and stinging all over; until her outside matched her inside in some pathetic, minute way. She did not relent until every last fibre of her being had given up fighting. She sunk back to the ground, back at the door, exactly where she had been before; only this time, her face was red, her appearance savaged, and the hand that she lifted to cover her burning eyes was slick with red.
The copper smell of it made her choke. It made her gag, and the gags turned into sobs, and they were quiet and hopeless and dry. But River stood again, and dragged herself across the apartment to her bedroom, and into her bathroom, and ran her bloody hand under the water until it was clean. She pulled the pins out of her hair, one by one, and gingerly slipped the dress off her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Blasting hot water from the shower-head, River boiled away her anguish. The steam clouding around her quelled the fires once more, but this time did not leave her feeling cold and clammy, just sad and bruised. That was nothing new.
She stepped out of the shower and began to dry off, thinking of blissfully nothing in particular except removing that droplet, and that one, and that one...until, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a message written with a finger in the condensation on the mirror.
Of course it matters.
River wrapped the towel around herself and crept towards the door. How would she feel, if she opened it and he was there? Would she get mad again? She was too tired for that. She was too tired, she reckoned it, even to cry.
With one limp finger, River pushed the door so that it swung into her bedroom, and padded out onto the carpet. The Doctor was sitting on the end of her bed, an apologetic smile touching his lips and a lily laying across his lap. Seeing her, he offered it out, and she took it, numbly.
It didn't need to be a question, and it didn't need to be answered, but the Doctor apologised anyway.
"Come here?" he requested quietly, shuffling aside but remembering all to well how his last attempt at that (at least on her timeline) had quickly disintegrated like so many of their meetings did. River lay the lily on her dresser, where it rested like a slumbering princess, and perched herself on the corner of the bed, only a few inches away from the Doctor, torn between her will to be closer and further away.
The Doctor reached for her bloodied hand, and kissed it reverently, just as he had before. Then, slowly, he begun to wind a long white bandage around it. River felt what he was doing and laughed, two staccatto sounds, and shook her head.
"What?" There was almost a mimic of her laugh in his voice, but he was watching his work. River watched him too.
"We're so broken, you and I," she said. "Sometimes I wonder how we manage it."
"In the words of an old friend – it's called marriage."
River pursed her lips, but nodded. Those wounds were still too fresh to be only fondness, yet there was a sunshine to them that just now was breaking through.
"I'm sorry I can't stay with you," she apologised.
"I'm sorry too." And there was weight to it, and sorrow, and love.
"And you don't- you don't embarrass me. I'm sorry I said that."
"I'm sorry too."
She snorted again. "Oh, look at us. The universe is cruel and it's all our fault."
The Doctor finished the bandage, and put an arm around River and drew her close to his side. She cradled her battered hand in her lap, but rested her head against his shoulder, and together they stared into the nothingness of the carpet, and the wall, and the bathroom door.