A/N: Here's my first fic in a very long time and my first foray into Doctor Who territory. Bearing that in mind, constructive criticism is always welcome to those willing to give it. I've got a few more chapters planned for this fic and I'm hoping to have the next one up in a few days.
All the usual disclaimers apply. Not my characters or property or any of that and this is being done for no money or profit, merely enjoyment. And with that, I hope you all enjoy!
Chapter 1- The Best Comfort of All
It wasn't often that the Doctor woke up confused. He liked to think that it was partly to do with the fact that he slept less than humans and, thus, simply had fewer occasions in which to wake up at all and partly because when he did, it was due to a conscious decision of his to sleep. It was not usually a simple matter of falling asleep, still dressed, due to exhaustion and emotional fatigue, and so he was usually expecting to find himself awake when the time came.
But while those reasons may well be considering factors, this morning he could put most of his confusion down to the fact that he was alone in bed. He was fairly certain, and growing more so by the second, that when he'd fallen asleep the night before, his wife had already been sleeping beside him. From the instant he'd woken up, he'd expected to feel the warm weight of River next to him, but when he stretched his arm out, all he felt was empty air and cold sheets.
Memories of yesterday, of the Angels and New York and Amy and Rory quickly shot into his brain, and the knowledge that River was not lying next to him sent a bullet of panic into his hearts. He shot up, searching frantically around the room, looking for any sign of her. Not seeing any, he jumped to his feet and raced to the door.
She had to still be on the TARDIS. She couldn't have left, not after yesterday. She wouldn't have left him alone so soon after losing Amy and Rory. He knew the time would come; it always did and always too soon, but not this soon, not today.
So he raced through the TARDIS, checking all the rooms she would have gone to after waking to find him uncharacteristically still asleep. He checked the kitchen, the library, the swimming pool, the two bathrooms she favored, her private bedroom, office, and even the training room the TARDIS had outfitted her with, finding no sign of River; no sign that she was still on board at all.
He walked dejectedly to the console room, knowing it was his last chance of finding her on board. He entered to find only the persistent hum of the TARDIS and, although at this point in his search he wasn't surprised to find it empty, both of his hearts still plummeted and shattered just a bit more.
Walking over to the console, he readied himself to program her to take him somewhere, anywhere, to distract him from the pain and loneliness plaguing him. But what he saw on the scanner made him stop, gape, and then rush to the door.
The TARDIS was not floating in the vortex, as he had left her last night. Instead, he swung open the doors to reveal none other than Amy and Rory's sitting room. Ignoring the searing pain that came with the reminder of his loyal companions, he rushed out of the TARDIS and into the house, not caring that he had fallen asleep in his clothes the night before and now only wore his trousers and shirtsleeves.
"River?" he called out. She had to be in there somewhere. He certainly hadn't landed the TARDIS here. But he was left only with silence.
Not giving up, he ventured further into the house. Finding no sign of her on the first floor, he climbed carefully to the second. As soon as he reached the landing, he knew he'd found his prize. He allowed himself a brief moment of celebration before he realized the sound he had heard was that of sobbing.
Spirits sinking, he steeled himself for an emotional moment, which he'd always been rather rubbish at, and set to following his wife's tears. They brought him to Amy and Rory's bedroom, where the door was ajar. Approaching cautiously, he peered quietly and carefully inside.
River was lying on the bed, on top of the comforter and sure enough, she was crying. The Doctor had seen River cry before of course; he'd known her for so very long now, but he had never seen her sobbing or wracked with tears. She was always so composed, even when crying. Never before had he seen her so open with her grief before, not from his perspective at least and judging from her attitude last night in Manhattan, not from hers either.
Another surge of pain and guilt soared through him once more and without even thinking about his next words or move, he abandoned his hiding place behind the door and moved quickly into the room.
"River," he whispered. He walked closer to the bed, even as she froze and turned with a gasp to see him approaching her.
She attempted to regulate her breathing and compose herself. "Doctor, I-"
"Shh, River," he said soothingly as he sat on the edge of the bed. He looked at her for a moment, slightly surprised that she actually listened to him and stayed silent, just looking at him with a mixture of grief, confusion, and surprise as he lowered his body onto the mattress next to her.
He felt her stiffen slightly for just a moment as he pushed himself close, wrapped his arms around her waist, and stuck his chin onto her shoulder, burying his face in her wild jumble of curls that he loved so very much. "I know you're hurting," he murmured in her ear. "You don't have to hide from me."
"Oh, Doctor," she sighed wearily. "You know as well as I do that that is not true."
"No, River, no. It is true. You need to hide spoilers from me, not this. Not you. Never you," he breathed in her ear, hugging her closer to him. "You should know by now, dear, that I'm rather stronger than I look. You're my wife, River, and I love you."
River turned over in his arms, twisting on the bed to face him, looking into his eyes. "I love you too, Sweetie."
"Then tell me, River," he whispered. "Open up and tell me what's going through your head. Let me in, please."
Eyes still shining with tears, she gazed back at him, showing this rare, vulnerable side to her personality. "I won't be able to see them again." She lowered her face to his chest and continued, her voice muffled. "They were my parents and they were my best friends. And now they're gone and I can never see them again." Her voice broke just a bit on the last sentence and he felt the barest hint of wetness seep through his shirt as a sense of helplessness surged through his body.
He didn't know how to help her. He didn't know how to comfort her. He'd been married about a century, known and loved this woman for two centuries before that, and he still hadn't even come close to figuring out exactly how to deal with situations such as these. Maybe it was because River so rarely needed him to, but honestly, he'd always been rubbish at humany-type emotions and crying women in general. In times like these, especially in the centuries before River Song, he had a habit of running away.
But right now, he couldn't and it was with a bit of shock that he realized he didn't even want to. This was River Song, his wife, the woman who stopped time for him, the woman he loved more than anyone else in the entire cosmos, and she was in pain. She was grief-stricken and in mourning and despite the agony he was also feeling, he knew he had to do what he could to comfort her. She had been strong for him for far, far too long.
"It's all right to cry, you know. To feel pain," he told her quietly. "They were your parents. It matters. We both lost them. Please, dear, we can mourn together. You don't have to go through this alone."
At this, River reached up and ran her fingers gently through his hair. "You're right," she finally said quietly. "It does matter." He could see the tears start to build up in her eyes once more.
"They're gone and I can't see them again. They were my parents. They were my best friends." Her voice was low as she repeated herself but she maintained eye contact with him, her eyes searching his for any indication that he couldn't handle this, searching for any hint of weakness in his eyes. He wasn't entirely sure he could handle it, but he refused to give her any reason to stop talking.
Continuing cautiously, River said, "It's been so long, though, since I was Mels. Ever since Berlin, I've had to budget my time with them. I never even saw them during University. The first time I saw them after Berlin was in the alternate timeline and Rory didn't even know who I was. It's just… I was stolen from them. They never got to properly raise me and they know, basically, what my childhood was like and they know that after all is said and done, I'm fine. But they've had to live the past ten years of their lives, knowing that they would never hold their baby again. I've tried to fill in the blanks over the years, to keep up with them, but it's never felt like enough, not after everything we've all been through. And now, it never will." River gave a great, heaving shudder and buried her face once more into his chest, attempting, again, to hold the tears back.
The Doctor felt his insides clench painfully, hearing the pain in River's voice, and more urgently, the pain expressed in her words. He knew it was difficult for her to say all of this, even to him, and while part of him was grateful she was expressing herself to him, there was another part within him that wanted to bolt within the TARDIS right now and hunt down every member of the Silence, every single being that had ever caused this extraordinary woman so much pain. But he had to stay calm. For her. Instead, he wrapped his arms more securely around River's waist, pulling her as close as he could to himself and spoke gently into her ear as she breathed erratically into his chest.
"Amy and Rory loved you, River. You know that."
"Yes, my love, I do know that. But they wanted baby Melody back, even after all these years. And I don't blame them. Now, they'll never have either of us again."
"Yes, you're right," he told her after a moment. "After Demon's Run, Amy and Rory still wanted you back as a baby; I'm not going to lie. You were ripped from their arms as an infant and then showed up five minutes later, fully grown, someone that they'd already met several times before. It was a shock. They never got to be parents to you and yes, they eventually learned about what it was like for you growing up.
"Yes, a part of them always wanted me to go out and find you, rip you out of that orphanage, and bring you back to them. But then Berlin happened and they realized that doing so would completely unravel your life. They couldn't do that to you, even if they thought I would do it."
'And I wouldn't have done it anyway,' he thought inwardly to himself, not feeling the need to add it in. It wasn't necessary. They'd discussed that particular topic before and she understood what a selfish, selfish man he was; how he never would have been willing to give Amy and Rory their daughter back if it meant erasing River Song from existence and from his life. Or to break the promise he'd made to her so very long ago as she'd sat in that chair sacrificing herself for him. "Not one line." It was a promise he was very insistent on keeping. Not that she was aware of that particular reason yet.
"Amy and Rory loved you, River, as baby Melody, as their best friend Mels, and as their amazing, adult daughter River Song. They always loved when you visited or when we were all traveling in the TARDIS. They wouldn't have given those times for anything," he finished quietly, nuzzling her curls once more.
"Do you really think so, Doctor?" she asked.
"Oh, I know it," he assured her. "They were so proud of you, with your expeditions and your guns and cleverness. They knew you loved them and they loved you, so much. Almost… as much as I do," he added on and as he finished, he pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
At that, River lifted her head slowly, with a small smile playing on her lips and a look of such pure love that his hearts swelled to what he thought must be the point of bursting. "Thank you, Sweetie," she said softly and pressed a kiss to his lips, cupping his face lightly. His lips responded of their own accord as he kissed her back gently.
Soon enough, however, River deepened the kiss and leaned up onto her elbows to give herself better access to him. He kissed her hungrily for a minute, marveling inwardly that he hadn't properly kissed her once since encountering her yesterday. Allowing himself to enjoy the feel and taste of her, he felt his body respond to her as she moved off the mattress and over top of him. She was almost straddling him when he remembered, suddenly, exactly where they were.
Groaning, he pulled his mouth from hers. "River… River, we- we have to stop," he said as she peppered kisses over his neck.
"Why on Earth," she panted between kisses, "would we have to stop, Sweetie?" Her hands were on his chest and she started to undo the buttons of his shirt.
"River, we-," his voice had gone all high-pitched and squeaky and oh, how he hated when that happened. "We-we're in Amy and Rory's-your parents' bed! We can't- it's… it's indecent! River!"
This didn't seem to bother River in the slightest. "And as we've already established, honey, they aren't going to be needing it anymore." There was still a hint of pain behind her eyes but she didn't stop her ministrations.
As this moral dilemma ran through the part of his brain that was still functioning, she popped open the last of the buttons on his shirt and ran her hands over his chest, grazing her nails over his nipples and he moaned deeply. She latched onto his mouth once more, wrapping her tongue fiercely around his own, swallowing the rest of his protests.
He couldn't bring himself to fight it anymore and simply gave into the inevitable and- managing to put away the fact that they were in Amy and Rory's bed, that they were both grieving, and struggling to come to terms with this new bump in the road- he made love to his wife. He held her as tightly and closely as he possibly could the entire time, doing all he could to bring forth as many of those sounds she made that simply drove him wild and she seemed to do the same, cutting her nails into his back and wrapping her legs firmly around his waist. They used their bodies to heal each other, knowing they were all the other had in the universe.
In the end, they lay tangled in each other and the sheets, sweat drying on their skin as they clutched onto each other. They both held on for dear life, afraid to let the other go, in case they slipped forever out of reach. And it was like this, legs and arms still entwined and heads tucked together, that they both fell asleep, grateful to have each other, even if only just for now.