Who Do You Think You Are?
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Not a thing.
Author's Note: So, this happened, basically, while listening to 'Jar of hearts' by Christna Perri and realising that I wanted to make the Singing Towers even more traumatic for myself….
There was a sharp knock at the door that made River sit up straight and her stomach flip of its own accord. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply, and tried to ignore the sound she heard. It had been a long time, far too long, since she'd heard that particular knocking and she'd sworn she would never again answer the door to it. But it kept on knocking. A sharp, expectant knock that was full of optimism and promise. How could she refuse? Reluctantly she got to her feet and walked towards the sound
"River Song!" The man grinned from behind the door as she opened it. "What a plea-" He stopped dead, his mouth wide open as he received an abrupt slap to the face.
"Doctor." She nodded curtly as she folded her arms quickly across her chest.
"Well, I'm very old now so I'm guessing that must have been for something I've already done?" The Doctor questioned as he massaged his cheek gently.
River shrugged as she turned as walked back towards the living room, leaving him to follow her.
"River… I… I…" The Doctor stuttered as he stumbled forward following the woman he knew so well but still, it sometimes felt, not at all.
"You what?" River snapped as she turned back to face him suddenly- her arms still tightly crossed over her body. "You thought that it didn't matter what you put me through but that turning up with your hair cut and a stupid new suit would solve it all?"
"What?" The Doctor asked in confusion. "I don't understand what I've done."
"No… No, of course you don't." River breathed as she smiled to cover up the tears that were forming in her eyes.
"So tell me." The Doctor pleaded.
"I can't." River sighed heavily as she sat back on the sofa and stared intently at her fingernails. "You know the rules… Spoilers!" She tried to mimic her usual light-hearted tone but her words sounded empty and flat.
"River, look at me." The Doctor crouched down before her and took her hands as he looked sincerely into her eyes. "I am so very old now and I'm sure there's nothing you could say that would spoil anything for me." There were traces of tears in his eyes too now as he pleaded with her to understand what he could never say.
"Still, rules are rules." River replied curtly as she looked away from his intense gaze.
"And since when did you become a rule-abiding citizen?" The Doctor laughed.
"Oi. Rude!" River rolled her eyes. "And when it comes to you I've followed every word, every letter of the rules. Always."
"Right. Yes. Of course you did." The Doctor's smile faded fast as he swallowed the lump in his throat. "So no saying, definitely no saying what is wrong, but if I guess correctly then you can talk about it, right? If I prove that I know then it can't be a spoiler can it?"
"I suppose not." River replied suspiciously as she folded her arms tightly around herself.
"Right." The Doctor stood up quickly and began to pace. "So you slapped me which must mean you're angry but you don't look angry you look sad and it's later in your time-line because you're in the house not the prison so that must mean you're stuck with younger me and…" He breathed in deeply, realising- remembering. It was so long ago for him but she was living through it now. "And I'm being a complete idiot to you and I fully deserved the slap in the face. Right? Am I right?" He bounced excitedly, proud at himself for working it out.
"How…" River stuttered and the Doctor grinned, waiting for her to be amazed by his cleverness. "How dare you?" She spat angrily as she jumped up and stood in front of him, glaring. "Who do you think you are? You come in here smirking and deducing and analysing me and making it sound like it's nothing. You make my life and my pain sound like it's nothing, nothing at all!" She turned away from him, trying to hide the tears in her eyes. "You don't know what it's like to have to see you, time and time again, and see the mistrust grow in your eyes, to hear the spiteful words you spit at me and to have to keep a smile on my face and the pain out of my voice until you turn away. You never call any more, never want me around."
"River, I'm so-" He began thickly as he placed one hand clumsily on her shoulder only to have it immediately shrugged away.
"That's not even the worse part." She sighed. "I always knew that it would end like this, that I would fade from you like an old memory, and that it would feel like I was being ripped in half but I said to myself, I promised myself, that I wouldn't put myself through it again- that I wouldn't open the door to that world of pain. I decided that I wouldn't answer your calls, that I would harden my heart. And yet at the first sight of you I'm ready to drop everything and run away and never look back. I live for the days when I see you, I know that, and each time we part it kills me a little bit more but when you're here I just can't turn away."
"River, please." He begged. "Please just let me-"
"Oh, sweetie." River sighed as she turned around to face him with eyes that sparkled with tears and unspoken regrets. "This isn't something you can fix like you fix your bowtie and every planet you land on. I'm not broken, we're not broken, this is just the way it's supposed to be."
"So let me take you away, let me help you forget." The Doctor urged her.
"But when I come back you'll still be slipping through my fingers like sand through a bloody hour glass, won't you?"
"Yes. Yes, I will." The Doctor admitted reluctantly.
"So what's the point in putting off the inevitable?" River shrugged as she smiled sadly.
"Because that's all we ever do, any of us, try to escape from our fate and defy our destiny for as long as we can. I ran away to see the stars all those years ago and I'm damned if I can't take you with me. And… and because it means that the next time you're stuck with a version of me that doesn't know you and doesn't treat you like I should, you can remember this adventure and know it's not really me you're dealing with." The Doctor smiled gently, knowing that she'd only have one more encounter to endure and that she would need all the happy memories he could foist on her to get through it. "Because you changed me, River, you made me who I am today. I was a shell of a man who didn't know how to love or how to live. Please, remember that."
"For you, my love, anything." River smiled as she held out her hand and entwined it through her husband's. "So where is it we're off to?"
"Tonight? Nowhere." The Doctor beamed as he pulled her close.
"Oh and there was me thinking you'd come here to sweep me off my feet on a crazy whirl-wind adventure." River mumbled sarcastically into his shoulder.
"Tomorrow. Anywhere and everywhere you want-"
"Even the Singing Towers?" River asked excitedly.
"D'you know I thought you might say that." The Doctor smiled sadly. "Of course. I've been promising you for long enough and I never break a promise. Tomorrow we'll go to the Towers but tonight we're staying right here."
River nodded her agreement and he pulled her backwards onto the sofa behind them and wrapped his arms tightly around her. He'd come here with the intention of taking her away, one last time, and giving her the time of her life but first he needed to hold her and kiss better all the hurt he'd inflicted. He knew he could never fix it, never give them the happily ever after he so craved, but tonight he would try his best to make them both forget that.
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