The Doctor stared at the woman strapped to the chair. He could see the influence of her in River, the hair, the face, the style. The arrogant certainty.

He had to turn away. His gut churned. He'd never wanted to hurt someone so much in his life. Even Daleks didn't stimulate this response.

This was the woman who took infant Melody, who made River's childhood a torture and a nightmare.

He tried to ignore her. He couldn't concentrate on her and do nothing. He had to keep his attention on River, on the situation.

But he could feel the woman's stare on his back like an itch.

It almost killed him when River retreated behind Kovarian to get away from him. It made him snide. It hurt. He used it. He couldn't let River continue this timeline, it threatened all of reality.

But he'd gladly sacrifice Kovarian. Rory ran in through the door, slamming it behind him, telling them the Silence were loose. Kovarian, cocky, sitting there in that chair, telling them it had all been a trap.

This was what River's childhood had been like. Monsters roaming free, this sadist as her only role model. Hatred spewed as virtue.

He ground his teeth.

Amy and River, both defying him. Refusing to allow him to end this travesty of a timeline. He bit down, stifling a growl. They thought they were doing it in the name of love. They thought they were doing it for the best, for his sake.

He followed River up to the top of the pyramid. The sounds of gunfire and bloodshed below them. The gun in River's hand. The way she didn't even seem to notice the chaos.

It was only a few years for her since she escaped the Silence's control. Only a matter of days, even subjectively months or years in this skewed reality, but in reality, only days since she had been captured again, forced into that spacesuit. Forced to confront that face again, that voice that he knew haunted her dreams.

"I made you what you are."


He would not allow it. He would not stand by and watch as River woke, screaming from dreams of being caught, caged, molded to that insane will. Helpless. Alone. Not again.

Yet, there she stood, monsters raging below, telling him how she'd built a distress beacon, sent out a message, called for help.

For him.

His insides churned, making him angry, sharp, denying her efforts, pushing her to anger. He just needed to collapse this timeline. No one could help. It was them, just the two of them. Only they could do it.

"You embarrass me." He didn't mean it. He didn't mean it! he cried out silently. She was standing there, being so magnificent. So vulnerable and brave. His heart ached, his mind raged.

She stood there, with tears in her eyes, and told him how he was loved. And that no one loved him more than her.

Ripped, torn, manipulated, molded, and mindwiped, stretched and twisted and tortured all her life. She'd never had a defender. Never had any escape. Yet she stood there and worked from love.

So proud. So alone.

He felt his heart rip open.

Not any more.

"Amy, uncuff me."

He bound his hand to River's. There under the eyes of her parents. At the apex of the chaos that was her life.

He'd been wrong all this time. It wasn't him and her. It wasn't him against her. It was them. He didn't need to fight her. He needed to fight alongside her. She'd never been anything but his staunchest ally.


His hearts beat together in a hard pulse that rocked him.

He wished he wasn't in this robot suit. He wished he could be there in the flesh. He danced, giddy, when she saw him in the eye. But then, he always danced at weddings.

Mine! Not alone. Together. That's the way they make the world right. That's the way they stop the monsters. That had always been the way. He'd been a fool to take this long to see it.

She wasn't the child twisted into an assassin. She wasn't the lonely little girl surrounded by monsters. She wasn't the avenging angel of a warped church. She wasn't the outsider, abandoned, or alone.

Not River. His River.

She would have a defender, an ally, a family, a home.

"River Song, Melody Pond, you're the woman who married me."

She belonged. She belonged with him. He belonged with her. They belonged together.

Now all they had to do was finish this whole, "saving the world" thing. And he could start proving it to her.

They had worlds to explore, innocents to save, dances to dance, hats to kill, and flailing to flail.

This would be fun.


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