A/N: Part two! For River, this is immediately after Day of the Moon. For the Doctor, it's directly following A Good Man Goes to War.

Time had stopped, for her. River stood exactly where he had left her, hand still resting on the open doorway of her cell as she stared at the spot where the TARDIS had dematerialized. She felt as though the wind had been completely knocked out of her; there was a dull, nameless ache beginning to form in her chest and tears lurking just behind her eyes that wouldn't fall.

No. No, no, no no no.

Her skin had gone clammy, her breath shallow. The logical, brilliant part of her brain, the part that wasn't fully functioning right now, made her dimly away that she was actually experiencing mild physical shock.

As the taste of him slowly faded from her lips, she finally managed to take her hand off the bars and walk the few steps to her bed, sitting down on it with her hands resting limply on her knees as she stared at the opposite wall.


It was too early. It HAD to be too early for this. It HAD to be, because she wasn't sure she could live without the promise of feeling his lips on hers again, his arms wrapped around her waist, and surely she wasn't ready to die yet! She ought to have years left to live. But living without him? That didn't seem even a remote possibility.

She had gone so numb that she almost didn't notice the sound of the TARDIS, brakes on, rematerializing just outside her cell. Her head jerked roughly towards it when the door opened, just in time to see him swaggering out, grinning from ear to ear like the beautiful idiot he was. Except no, he wasn't swaggering this time; he was dancing, positively leaping, and before she had time to process, he was in her cell, right in front of her, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet like an excited child.

"River! River, River, River," he chanted, nearly giggling in his glee, before spinning around on one foot and beginning to walk around the small space; NOW he was swaggering, and talking quickly, all science and facts "You! Tell me everything, tell me how much like me you are. Can you regenerate? How long does a regeneration cycle last for you? Oh, but this is bloody BRILLIANT, River! We could travel for centuries together!" he exclaimed, whirling around again and stopping to face her full-on for the first time. His smile faded as she stared at him, replaced by a puzzled frown. "What's wrong?"

Her lips closed; she hadn't even realized they had been parted in disbelief, and she swallowed slightly. "Where are you?" she asked, her voice coming out hoarse and cracked, and his frown deepened as he crouched down in front of her.

"Just did Demon's Run. River, what's happened?" he asked, sounding very serious. "I must have gotten the coordinates wrong, I thought this was just after Florida for you-"

"It is," she responded, and without even realizing how it happened, she was crying. She lowered her head, curls falling down on either side of her face, partly hiding her as she wept; damn it all, but she hated letting him see her like this. She just couldn't help it right now.

She felt rather than saw his hands as they fluttered awkwardly for a moment before finally resting on top of hers. "River," he said softly, squeezing her fingers, "River, what's wrong?" She took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to steel herself, and raised her eyes to meet his gaze. She couldn't meet it for long, though, and quickly raised her eyes further to look at the ceiling.

"Your firsts are my lasts," she said, and she heard him gift a soft exhale of understanding. Suddenly, he was sitting beside her, gathering her into his arms.

"Oh, River, who told you that?"

"You did," she replied, not even bothering to keep spoilers, and he groaned softly before reaching for her face, cupping her cheek in one hand, the other arm wrapped firmly around her back. He sighed, rubbing the tears away with his thumb, trying to make sense of all of this.

"Did I tell you this when you were very young?" he asked, and she nodded. "And up until now, you've been meeting me almost entirely back to front, yeah?" She nodded again, and he sighed, shaking his head before leaning forward so that their foreheads touched. "River, I am terribly sorry that my future self is going to be so stupid as to tell you that, but I'm sure I'll have a very good reason. And I'm explaining to you right now that nothing is linear. Not even us. We're not all back-to-front, River. We're all...back-to-front-to-back."

Something like hope dawned in her face, and she pulled away enough to look at him. He was smiling at her, that devilish, Doctor-y smile, and without thinking, she pulled away and slapped him.

"Ow! River!"

"Why the HELL would you let me believe that for all these years?" she demanded, standing and pacing to the other side of her cell. "Do you have ANY idea what you've just put me through?" she asked, whipping around, cheeks flushed and still wet from the tears she'd just cried. He stood, as well, and opened his mouth to snap back at her...but her hands were shaking violently, and tears were starting to leak out of her eyes again, and he must have noticed, because he closed the distance between them and covered his lips with hers before either of them could say anything they'd regret, trying to heal the damage he'd done, trying to close the wounds so fresh on her heart.

When they finally broke apart, he gently ran his hand over her hair, and she closed her eyes, leaning wearily against his chest. "The TARDIS is empty," he murmured, resting his cheek against the top of her head. She pulled away to look at him, knowing she should tell him no; she just HAD told him no, not ten minutes ago. But in that ten minutes, her entire universe had been ripped out from under her, then restored again before she could finish falling, and she couldn't bring herself to be without him, not right now.

She smiled a watery smile and nodded, slightly and quickly, before she could change her own mind. He grinned and took her gently by the hand, and she allowed her madman to lead her into his blue box.

"I place my hands over her ears and tip her head back, and kiss her, and try to put my heart into hers, for safekeeping, in case I lose it again." ~The Time Traveler's Wife