Author's Note: So, the idea for this fic just popped into my head this morning. It's shorter than a lot of my others, and takes place after TATM for the Doctor and River. There's a bit of angst, a bit of fluff...and it starts off with one of their adventures. Hope you enjoy it.
Biting her lip, the curly- haired woman narrowed in on her target.
Her long, elegant red dress fluttered as she removed the holster from her belt, pressing a finger to the trigger.
Clutching the man by his necktie, River brought the barrel to his temple.
Even then, the idiot still shuffled, trying vainly to escape the woman's grasp.
"The struggling will do you no good. I am a trained assassin, you know. Do yourself a favor and cooperate, and I might just spare you the wrath of my husband," River spoke through gritted teeth.
It was a lie, of course, but somehow the man's eyes told River he would take her seriously, at least for now.
"You and your organization are responsible for the slaughter of an entire species. Your reign of terror has gone on far enough. Do you have anything to say for yourself? Or should I just kill you on the spot?"
She bided her time, hurling threats, while silently cursing her husband for taking so bloody long. He should've been here by now; how hard was it to muster up an entire force of Judoon?
"You won't kill me," the man spat back, jolting River out of her thoughts.
"Oh, really, sure about that are you?"
Come on, you idiot. Get over here already. Come on, Doctor.
A smirk drifted across the criminal's face, sending a chill through River.
His soulless, grey eyes stared at something far in the distance.
Before River could process what was happening, a loud, boisterous shot penetrated the air, causing River's hands to go straight to her ears.
She half-expected a bullet to plummet through her body, but when she didn't feel anything, River breathed a sigh of relief.
Must've been a bad shot, then.
Her head tilted as she scanned the area, heart galloping at the sight of her husband.
Behind the Doctor, rows and rows of the Rhinoceros intergalactic police grunted; guns aimed near River (or presumably, the man she'd captured).
"River, we need to get out of here," her husband's gruff voice beckoned.
Grabbing her hand, the Doctor tugged her toward the blue box, giving River only a moment to glimpse the crumpled form that lay between the Judoon and where she'd just been standing. A gun tumbled out of the corpse's hand—probably the very one that had nearly killed her.
"Everything under control, then?" she asked her husband, who was currently pulling levers and pressing buttons around the console.
"Yeah. Judoon arrived just in time. They should be taking care of things," the man in the bowtie huffed, apparently out of breath.
Alarm pulsed through River as she met her husband's eyes.
Giving him a quick look-over, the curly- haired woman watched the way his hand clutched his shoulder.
"Sweetie, your shoulder—"
"I'm fine." He tried to wave it off as nothing.
"Doctor, please, let me—"
Ignoring his protests, River Song grasped his hand, noting the thick blood lining his fingers.
"You've been shot…" her voice shook; a sea of dread flooded her heart.
"It's nothing, really, just a minor wound…" But he knew he couldn't fool her.
Looping her arm around his waist, River quickly led him out of the console room.
"Wh-where…?" the Doctor mumbled, vaguely aware of River's heavy breathing.
"Just lay down, Sweetie." River's delicate fingers guided him, letting his body rest upon something soft. Blankets? A cot? A bed? He didn't know.
"Owwww…" his arm throbbed, a jolt of pain racing through his shoulder.
"I know, I know," River comforted as she removed his bowtie, suit jacket and flannel shirt. Her hands wrapped a black strip of cloth around the wound, applying pressure. It stung, but the Doctor suppressed a whimper, not wanting to upset his wife. "Talk to me, Honey."
"River…" he sounded pitiful. His hearts churned at the sight of her green, tear-filled eyes. "River…I…I forgot to tell you…"
"Tell me what, Sweetie?"
"You look so beautiful today." The Doctor reached up to stroke her face, but his body failed him.
A single tear trickled down River's cheek; she sniffled softly.
"River…I…had to…that man…he was aiming for you…I couldn't…" struggling to speak, the Doctor forced the words out, trying to reassure his wife as the darkness teemed around him, alluring, powerful, corrosive, drowning him in its biting grip until he had nothing left no guard, no defenses, no choice but to submit.
His mind whirred; his eyes blinked open and closed, everything was hazy; a blinding, bright light filled his vision.
Images floated around him, spinning, spinning, blurring his eyes.
Out of habit, the Doctor tried to straighten himself, only to feel the sting of his left shoulder.
His head sank back on the stacked pillows; his face convulsing in pain.
"River—" the weak gasp was foreign even to his own ears.
He felt her familiar fingers intertwine with his.
Her thumb stoked the palm of his hand soothingly.
The Doctor's hearts pounded; his poor wife looked exhausted, her tussled curls sprawled in her face, dark circles looming under her eyes.
"How are you feeling?" she whispered tenderly, allowing him time to process her words. "Are you hungry?" River held a plate of his favorite biscuits in her lap.
"Y-you got me Jammie Dodgers?"
Nodding, his wife managed a small smile.
"Would you like one, Sweetie?"
"Okay." He muttered, taking a Jammie Dodger and nibbling at it. "Thank you."
The Doctor squeezed her hand, a gesture of appreciation.
"Hey…River…are you okay?"
She couldn't look him in the eye. Her face was forlorn and sad and distraught. All because of him.
"I'm fine, Doctor." Her words sounded empty, hollow.
"I'm fine. You're the one who bloody got shot, for goodness sake!"
"Don't you give me that, Professor Song!" his tone grew serious.
"Fine. Fine. Of course, you're probably delirious. I'd better give you some space. Fancy watching some telly? Or a film?" she flicked a button on the nearby remote and sauntered out of the room.
"River—I didn't—I just want…" sighing, the Doctor leant back, his blood boiling.
For a moment he considered running after her, but after one attempt to move his body, he decided that probably wasn't a good idea.
In front of him, the holographic TV screen flickered, and he groaned.
I don't want to watch a stupid film! I want to speak to my wife…
Confined to the bed, he had no choice but to watch some children's film with early 21st-century animation. Wall-e, it was called. His mind raced as he critiqued literally every statement this film tried to make about the future of earth.
An hour later, he'd forgotten all about his initial qualms, too engrossed in the storyline and the characters. His hearts danced at the scene where Wall-e and Eve held hands for the first time, and he subconsciously reached out to grasp River's hand only to find nothing but open air.
The ice pack on his shoulder had numbed the wound a bit, but every so often the stinging became so intense that he had to stifle a whimper.
A sense of longing filled him; he missed his wife's gentle touch.
As the credits rolled, his vision faltered and without another thought, he fell into a deep sleep, dreaming of space and robots and guns and River.
Slumped in a chair beside her husband, River Song battled a headache. Fear and guilt and anger rippled through every crevice in her body.
She shouldn't have left him alone. She'd known that from the moment she'd done it. But his face plagued her mind—those ancient eyes staring up at her in agony—agony she'd invoked.
River could hardly bear it.
Looking vacantly at the white walls of the room, River held her knees to her chest, rocking back and forth.
"River—"his husky whisper sent a shiver through her. "You came back."
Of course I came back, you idiot.
"Does it still hurt?" her finger pointed to his bandaged arm.
"Honey, I'm a Time Lord, do you really think my body would take forever to heal a gunshot wound? That's nothing. I can hardly feel anything now. Almost good as new, thanks to you."
Her face twitched.
"River, are you cross with me?" he asked softly.
When she stayed silent, the Doctor felt his chest heave.
"Then why don't you come to bed with me?" he patted the place next to him
"Really, Doctor, now is not the time for—"
"Not like that. I just want to be closer to you."
"River—" exasperated, her husband lurched for her wrist, his grip tight, despite his lack of strength the night before.
"Don't you d—"
"Try and stop me." With that, he grabbed her waist and pulled her beside him, ignoring her squeak of protest.
"Why did you do that?" she spat, angry tears threatening to spill down her cheeks.
"Take the bullet for me!" the truth spilled out faster than she'd anticipated.
"Oh, that's what this is about? Hmm?" He watched her expression falter.
"I…you…you shouldn't have done that."
"And why not?"
"Because you could've lost your life. Or sent yourself into an early regeneration. And…"
"I don't need you trying to protect me. That's my job. To protect you."
There it was—the ultimate blow to the Doctor's hearts.
'Hey, hey, that's my job!'
'Oh, and I'm not allowed to have a career, I suppose.'
And then he pictured her face, his beautiful, precious River, closing her eyes for the last time as she connected the plug.
A flood of light ushered him back into reality.
"That was never your job. Do you hear me, River Song? Never." His bottom lip trembled.
"Well, it certainly wasn't worth risking your life!"
His expression softened then, and he cradled her right hand—the very one he'd healed months before. Bringing her hand to his lips, he kissed it sweetly.
"I see. You still don't think you're worth it." His warm breath tinged her skin, drawing sensations she'd been fighting for some time. "River, look at me…"
Her gaze drifted down; she was afraid to meet his eyes.
"River…my River…" the Doctor cupped her face, his thumbs circling her cheeks. "You, Mrs. Doctor, are so worth it. All of it. Everything. The pain. The fear. I would get shot over and over again if it meant you were safe in my arms, unscathed. My friends are gone now, River. You, my wife, are all I have left. You mean everything to me. And I could never live with myself if I…if I…" he couldn't finish, knowing that he had already caused her death. It was a burden that weighed on him eternally, growing stronger by the day.
Bending down, he swept her into a tender, heartfelt kiss, his lips lingering on hers for a moment as his fingers danced through her hair. Their tears mingled together, and he withdrew slowly, pressing her head into his shoulder—the shoulder that had been healed by her touch.
He held her for a while after that, savoring the feel of her familiar form. His wife.
"I-I'm sorry, my love."
"Oh, River, you have nothing to be sorry for. Thank you. For everything." His hands stroked her wild curls, and he kissed her forehead.
And there she lay, River Song, his murderer, his wife, caught up in the Doctor's loving embrace—her husband, the man who clung to her like a lifeline, knowing this very moment was precious and that she would always be worth it. Even when his hearts gave way, even when he'd lost his friends, his companions, even when it cost him everything, even when the future looked so dim, here she was, the woman he loved, safe in his unwavering arms.
Note: Yeah, hope it was somewhat enjoyable. Not really what I'd typically write, but it's something, I guess.
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