"Now, please. He wants to talk to you before he goes."

"Not to you?"

"He doesn't really know me yet. Now he never will."

Amy's eyes slowly moved away from River's face, turning towards the Pandorica as she took slow, shaking steps across the room. River turned the other way, moving herself away from the girl, the plastic man, and the Time Lord in the ancient box. The small smile that she had scrounged up for Amy, that bittersweet smile brought about by Amy's intuition of how close she and the Doctor would be despite it not being so for her yet, vanished from her lips as she walked towards the wall. She stopped, and from the back, it might have looked like she was reading the museum's information about the Pandorica displayed there, but River's eyes were closed.

He would never know her.

Of course, she would never know him, either. When the cracks closed and the universe restarted, the Doctor would have never existed. There would be nothing for her to remember.

But him knowing her was so much of who she was! River Song. That name he'd shouted at her in the restaurant in Germany. That rubbish name. That name that was a woman, an incredible woman, a woman who would make Daleks beg for mercy, a woman who would mean so much to the Doctor, a woman that she had realized would be her. Without that day in Germany, there was no River Song.

But there would be no day in Germany, because there would be no Doctor.

There would be no Doctor.

And maybe that was a good thing. Because there would be no Doctor, there would be no question for the Silence to fear, no goblin for the many peoples of the universe to rise up against and lock away, no monster to convince an army to steal a baby and turn her into a weapon against him.

There wouldn't even be that baby, because without the Doctor, there would be no wedding night in the TARDIS. There would be no Melody Pond to be stolen. And without a Melody Pond, there would be no Mels to be a best friend to Amelia.

Without the best friend, would there even be a Rory and Amy? Would they even get together, without her to push them along?

No, no, of course they would. Rory and Amy would always find a way. They would always end up together.

So there would be a wedding night, but it wouldn't be in the TARDIS. There would maybe even be a baby, a little Pond-Williams, but it wouldn't be Melody. It would be someone else, someone with two parents and a nice little home in Leadworth and no aliens knocking on the door to take her away and turn her into a killer.

And, for that little Pond-Williams, it would be a good thing for there to be no Doctor, no TARDIS, no River Song.

It would be selfish of her to want to have it any other way.

And yet…

And yet the tear was starting to seep out from under one eyelid. It was just one tear, but it was more than she ever allowed herself to shed. River Song did not cry. River Song was strong, strong for the Doctor. She was strong to keep him strong, because the Doctor had to be strong, because there was so much in the path he walked that might wear him down. The Doctor needed someone to be strong for him, although he'd never admit it; that was just how he was.

But there would be no Doctor. There would be no one that she had to be strong for.

And there would be no her.

"River?"

The plastic man was right beside her. Rory. She knew he must be Rory, the Rory, from the way he and Amy had acted towards each other, though the cracks had done their work on her memory well.

The tear. River lifted her hand to wipe the offender away, hoping he had not seen it, hoping he wouldn't realize what the motion of her arm meant, although she knew he would. And she knew he wouldn't tell. Rory was too honorable to tell.

And besides, soon he wouldn't remember. Soon, it would never have happened.

River turned her head to look at Rory, trying to match the face in front of her with the man she knew he must be. Her father. How she wanted to call him that, to fall into his arms and be his little girl, to cry and have him tell her that everything would be all right. But he didn't know who she was. He never would. He only vaguely knew River Song. And River Song had to be strong, for as long as she existed.

Tremors began to rock the museum. River stumbled; Rory's sturdy, plastic grip held her arm, keeping her upright.

"Doctor!" River called, turning back towards the Pandorica. "It's speeding up!"

He'd have to hurry. But she saw him still talking with Amy, their heads close together, him whispering to her, and she didn't dare interrupt.

Amy straightened.

The Pandorica closed. It began to glow, and the rumbling in the room intensified as steam emerged from the bottom of the box.

The Pandorica shifted. Amy was backing away, but not nearly fast enough.

"Back! Get back!" River cried, running over and grabbing Amy, pushing her to the floor near the wall, Rory right behind her.

The Pandorica rose, sparked, and then shot into the air, crashing through the roof of the museum and soaring into the sky.

River's scanner beeped as it received a message. She grabbed it, glanced at the screen.

"It's from the Doctor," she said, looking up at the sky, at the receding box.

"What does it say?" Amy asked.

River looked back at the screen. She was breathing heavily, trying hard to stay composed as eight letters, the Doctor's final word, appeared in front of her.

"Geronimo!" she gasped, almost laughing as she said it, nearly crying but refusing to do so.

Instead she turned her face back to the sky. She would watch him go. Watch him leave the world. Watch the sky explode as he hit the TARDIS.

Watch him disappear, and wait to follow him into nonexistence.

River Song watched the Doctor go.

XXX

River blinked uncertainly. Where was she? She was standing on a street. It was bright and sunny.

Slowly, she recognized the street. She was in Leadworth, not far from Amy's house.

Why was she here? She shouldn't be anywhere.

But she was here. She was alive.

She hurried over to a shop window to check her reflection. Yes, there she was! The face in the glass was the face of her last regeneration. The face of River Song. She was wearing a black dress that she couldn't remember buying, but what did that matter? She was River Song, and she was alive.

But why?

River looked down at her hands. She was holding the diary, the blue TARDIS diary that the Doctor had given her so long ago, the book of spoilers. She flipped through it anxiously. It was black, every single page not written on. Of course. The Doctor didn't exist, so there weren't any times with him to write about.

But she existed. River Song existed.

And if River Song existed, then the Doctor had to, too. Or at least almost exist, not quite forgotten.

Waiting to be remembered.

"Doctor, I remember you," she said, looking around expectantly, but no madman with a box appeared before her. The pages of the diary remained blank.

So it wasn't her that could remember him. But who could?

The sound of bells ringing reached her ears. She looked long down the street. Yes, there was the church. She remembered it from her days as Mels. She'd hadn't attended church often, but sometimes she had played near there with Amelia, listening to the redhead fantasize about one day getting married—

Married. Of course.

River was exactly where she should be to make it happen. They had all ended up where they should be, as she had told Amy they would.

She began to run down the street, hoping that she wasn't too late.

XXX

River stepped around the corner and leaned against the wall. Amy had seen her; she was positive that their eyes had locked through the window. But were an empty blue diary and one glimpse of a person who should not exist enough? Should she have gone inside and spoken to her? No, there was too much risk of paradox in that room, too many people she could say the wrong thing to. She had to trust that it was enough.

She began to count the seconds, just to give herself something to do while she waited for the impossible to come true. But he was an impossible man, and impossible things happened when he was there.

Please, let him be there.

River closed her eyes and rested her head against the building behind her.

Then she heard it. That sound. That abysmal sound that had always given her a headache. But today, oh, today it was the most beautiful sound in the world.

The sound of a TARDIS with its parking brake on.

River started to cry, but she didn't care to stop the tears flowing down her cheeks. For once, she was simply too happy to care who might see her crying.

The Doctor was back. And he would know her.

All was well.