A/N: Two questions nag at me every time I watch SitL and FotD: who unhandcuffs the Doctor, and why is there no body in the chair River died in when we see it again? This is my answer to both (although I secretly hope that because we saw no body, it means she somehow survived, buuuuut that really doesn't seem likely).
He wasn't sure how long he sat there, hand dangling limply from the handcuffs. The blinding light that had accompanied the download had long since faded, and he could do nothing but stare at the limp body of the woman who had sacrificed herself for so many others. For him. Her head was slumped over onto her chest, and the twisted metal crown was grotesque and heavy. He hated it, hated himself, hated her. Couldn't hate her, because he knew, he knew that someday, he would love her. And he had just watched her die.
After a few minutes, he became aware that there was someone behind him; there was another set of hands unlocking the handcuffs. He knew without looking who the hands belonged to, but he glanced sideways at them anyway: they were longer and thinner than his own, and yet he knew they were his own. Would be his own. He wondered idly what it would be like, in his future, to be reliving this moment from both perspectives instead of just one. He wondered how much more painful it would be then, because it was already hell.
Strong arms boosted him up from behind, and he turned to face himself with silent sorrow. The man that stood in front of him now was thin, young, gangly looking, but the look on his face showed a depth of grief and anger and loss that could only belong to someone who had suffered and celebrated and loved and lost for centuries. They regarded each other silently for a moment before his future self spoke, and the words were a low, measured command:
"You take care of her."
Silence passed between them again, a long, tense moment of it, before he nodded, once. His older self made no motion to leave, just jerked his head towards the neat pile of items River had left on the floor, so he quickly and quietly gathered them up and stowed them in his pockets. He walked away without another word to himself, but just before he was out of sight, he stopped to glance back one last time at the scene.
The older Doctor was crouched at the ground by River's feet, looking up at her with unspeakable grief. He carefully freed her hands from where they still gripped the connector cable, even in death. Trembling, he held them, kissed each of them in turn, then buried his face against them, sobbing quietly. His younger self suddenly felt indecent, like he was intruding on a very private moment (even though it was his own privacy he was invading). Swallowing hard, he turned and quickly walked away.