A/N: It would appear this is my first Doctor Who fanfic. Spoilers for Angels Take Manhattan. It also includes the dialogue from the final scene, since this all takes place around that. I own nothing.
No sooner had the door shut behind them than he shoved her away, eyes red-rimmed and angry. She had seen that look before; it was the same one he had given her at Demon's Run, right before she had changed his life forever by finally revealing who she was. The difference now was that, this time, there was no big reveal. There was no magic word, no surprise secret, that could turn the anger and sorrow on his face into joy.
"How could you do this?" he yelled, sobbing. She stared at him stoically, her own words coming back to her like a mantra: never let him see the damage. "How could you just...give her your blessing like that?" he added, arms flailing in that way that she normally found so endearing. "Why did you encourage her?"
She turned away without answering, turned towards the TARDIS controls. River was his wife. She knew, better than anyone else who had ever come before or would ever come after, what he could be like. This was his perhaps his greatest fault; he could be incredibly, incredibly selfish, mostly in his grief. Even though his heart was always in the right place, even though he was the greatest, most noble being she had ever encountered, she knew there were times when he was no more than a selfish child.
"How could you tell her there was no other way?" he asked, sorrow winning out over the anger in his voice.
"Because there was no other way, and you know it," River replied, trying to keep her voice calm, for his sake.
"But we could have saved her, could have gotten her into the TARDIS, kept her-"
"Kept her what? Kept her with us? With you?" River retorted suddenly, whipping around to face him. "Kept her away from the one she loves? Believe me, Doctor, I know what that's like, and I would NEVER have subjected either of them to that. I am PROUD of my mother for what she did."
He seemed to deflate. With a sigh, he sat down heavily on one set of steps, elbows on his knees, halting his fit long enough to process. With only a moment's pause to glance at him, River turned abruptly back towards the controls.
"River," he said, "they were your parents." There was regret in his voice as he added, "Sorry. I didn't even think."
She didn't look at him as she replied, "Doesn't matter." Her expression was masked enough to almost conceal the lump she swallowed.
"'Course it matters."
"What matters is this: Doctor, don't travel alone." Eyes on him, now, her gaze full of urgency; she was too afraid of what would happen if he was alone. She loved him, oh how she loved that man, but if he didn't have someone to travel with...she was so afraid he would get lost, never come back for her again...
"Travel with me then." He had finally put it forward, finally said it outright, and in spite of her grief, her heart fluttered; she had waited a long, long time for him to ask her that. But she knew what her answer must be.
She smiled and replied, every word sincere, "Whenever and wherever you want." She held his gaze, wishing it could be as simple as her staying, but it couldn't. "But not all the time. One psychopath per TARDIS, don't you think?"
He smiled a little sadly at her before breaking her gaze, and she took a breath, steadying herself as she worked the controls. Amy and Rory sprang back into her mind. "Okay, this book I've got to write. Melody Malone. I presume I send it to Amy to get it published?"
Coordinates set, she walked towards the stairs and continued past him, "I'll tell her to write an afterword. For you." She hesitated before turning back to look at his hunched shoulders. "Maybe you'll listen to her."
Halfway down the hall, she suddenly heard him cry out, "The last page!" Before she could get back to the control room, he was pulling levers on the TARDIS controls. She stared at him, bewildered, but before she could ask any questions, he was landing the ship and running out the door.
"Back in a moment!" he yelled over his shoulder.
She stared after him a moment, eyebrows slightly raised; he was impossible. Sighing, she turned back down the hall again, heels clicking softly on the metal floor. The book needed to be written soon, she knew; she had to get everything recorded while it was fresh in her mind. Straightening her shoulders a little in silent resolve, she pushed the door to the Doctor's room open; that's where the typewriter was. She pulled out the case and started to open it up on the desk before thinking better of it. She knew her Doctor, and there was no way he could sleep in a room where she was writing Melody Malone. Her room would do.
Not entirely sure of where they were in their timeline (although it couldn't be too early for him, she knew; Amy and Rory were part of his own personal timeline for far longer than even they knew), she wasn't sure what to find when she pushed open the door to her own room. She didn't keep many personal trinkets, and neither did he, but small changes in the room would tell her where she was. It was devoid of a bed; that had been the first thing to go. Her desk, there, with useless drafts of papers left in the drawers. Useless...except for the dates. She knew she really shouldn't leave her past or future self little clues like this, but the further she went in her journey with the Doctor, the more she was desperate to know how much they might have to look forward to. How much time they have had, and what was left.
She smiled softly as she took out the typewriter and glanced at the papers. They still had some time to go, then, from both their perspectives. She remembered, once upon a time, when it truly seemed like their timelines were directly back-to-front; she had ached at some of those times, times she thought he might never know her again. But, of course, nothing could be that linear with them. There were times she wanted to believe that this would just keep going on forever, even though so much in that man's eyes told her it couldn't be true. There was something dark in his past and her future, something darker for him than anything else they had faced...
He cleared his throat behind her, and she jumped; he was the only man in the universe who had ever really been able to sneak up on her. With a start, she realized there were tears in her eyes, and she blinked them back quickly, not quite turning to face him.
"Do you have to start it now?" he asked quietly, leaning slightly in the door frame, one hand in his pocket while the other fiddled absently with a page of paper. She busied herself by sitting and putting a sheaf of paper into the typewriter.
"Need to get all the details down before they fade away," she replied briskly, all business. She started typing, trying to ignore the soft touch of his hands on her shoulders that came shortly afterward. However, she could not ignore when her hands began trembling, then shaking hard enough to make her red nails rattle against the typewriter keys. That's when she stopped, and he gently squeezed her arms.
"River," he whispered, softly kissing the top of her head before leaning his cheek against her hair. "River, I know you now. Don't hide from me. Just this once, just for right now. Don't hide."
She was crying before he finished speaking, unable to focus any longer on Amy and Rory's well-being, on their love and devotion to one another that gave them a happy ending somewhere in time. No matter how unconventional their family was...they were still family. All the family she'd ever had. The four of them, together, and now they were torn in half. And she knew, no matter how much time she spent with the Doctor, even if she were foolish enough to stay on the TARDIS from now until the end of her days, that someday, her family would split in two again.
Weeping quietly, she let him hold her, let him lead her to their bedroom, let him settle her down gently on the bed, still in her long black dress. He settled himself down behind her to wrap his arms around her waist and burrow his face in her neck, holding her as closely as he could until she felt his tears running down her own skin.
Tomorrow she would get up and be strong again. Tomorrow she would write the damned book, the book that would take her parents away from her. Tomorrow she would dry her eyes and be the wife of the Doctor, the wife he needed her to be to keep him holding on.
But tonight, she was an orphaned Melody Pond, and she would grieve.