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13 August 2011 @ 06:09 pm
[doctor who fic] (it's the season of grace) coming out of the void (1/3), r  
(it’s the season of grace) coming out of the void (1/3)
- doctor who
- river song; river/doctor (eleven)
- 5900 this section
- r
- a/n: spoilers up through a good man goes to war, but not for the second half of series six. warning for mentions of child abuse, but nothing graphic.
- endless thanks to tenacious_err for the beta/suggestions, and to bigdamnxenafan and leanstein for the support and prodding.
- title from the atheist christmas carol by vienna teng




Breaches and bones; treble and bass.

Madame Kovarian makes one mistake, but she never learns what it was; what it will be.

There are no questions at the end, like she'd always imagined there would be; she isn't naive. She knew one day it would change, it would all come back around, the universe evening out the score. She always imagined a moment, a confrontation, and she has prepared her answers since the start.

But there are no questions, not at the end.

Not even a whisper.

--

The Gamma Forests are awash in blue and green and silver; sun and sky and earth, curling around the Doctor as he runs, looking for a pond that doesn't exist and a melody that can't be sung. There are no rivers here, Lorna tells him, not in these parts.

No water for miles and miles.

--

They start out as fairy tales:

Once upon a time, through all of space, there lived an evil man. An evil man with an evil box, destroyer of worlds; of Practice; of hope. A man so feared, the greatest warriors of history, past and future, bowed their necks and laid down their swords, their spears, their battleships. They cowered at his name and fled at the sound of the box; her keepers play the sound, the thrum of breaks and engines and she wants to cover her ears, but they never let her. "Listen," says the woman with the silver eye, "listen closely. Listen."

The box settles. The door swings open. Footsteps rise and fall. A high-pitched whirring sound. The click of a lock. Another door.

And then silence.

--

"Fear is always the first conditional," she'd said once, on a planet controlled by lights and ruled over by flames; the sick always died and the living always suffered and the Doctor tried to free them all with nothing more powerful than his own voice.

It was so off-handed, then, as he concentrated on everything all at once, but now it makes him pause. He watches as she stares out the open door of the TARDIS, watching the stars float by like ships.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she says, and he shouldn't be surprised that she knows; she always knows.

The Doctor shakes his head fondly - "She's always beautiful" - and crosses to the controls, fiddling with a few buttons and keys. "You can go outside."

River nods - "I know." - but doesn't move.

--

The TARDIS lands not far from the commotion. The sonic whirs and alarms blare, and it takes him a moment to realise they aren't for him. He finds bodies, unconscious, not so much a trail as a labyrinth, and he tracks the intruder to a lab deep beneath the complex. Footsteps pound the grating above them, and he knows by their pace and direction that time is limited.

He skitters to a halt in the doorway, surprised and confused when he spots a familiar figure hunched over a set of controls.

"River?"

She whirls, gun raised and lowered in the same second. Her eyes flash with anger and something else, but it's gone too quickly and she's already refocused.

"What are you doing here? You're supposed to be with the Ponds--"

"Wrong me," she says, but not spoilers. He studies her for a moment, the curve of her back, her profile as he moves closer. There are lines around her eyes he doesn't recognise, echoes in her thoughts he's never heard before. They're out of time, again, but off; jagged.

"What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you. Not this you, obviously – little you; Pond you!” He almost giggles at that. “Though this is--"

"Melody isn't here," she interrupts, and her use of the third person throws him.

"But you said--"

"You're too late."

He blanches, stricken, and she throws him a sympathetic glance. "I'm sorry."

He nods, watching her quietly for a moment. "When are we?" he asks finally.

"Out of order, as usual," she remarks absently. He can tell by the air around her, the set of her shoulders and the arch of her neck that she’s older, much older. She’s crossing their timeline, further ahead than he is behind; closer to the Library than the Byzantium, and the realisation cinches a string between his hearts.

The monitor she's working at sparks and rattles, breaking his concentration, and she curses in what must be at least six different languages. He's at her side in a moment, scanning the now dark machine.

"Couplings blew," he comments. She glowers at him and moves to another console. "What are you doing?"

"Virus," she snaps, "Wiping the drives." She punches a few more keys, and a red warning flashes across the screen. "They've locked me out," she huffs. "Again."

The Doctor fumbles with the switches on his screwdriver and tries again while River relocates, typing furiously and pulling wires from one monitor to next.

He's about to demand more information when she cuts him off abruptly. "You should get back to the TARDIS - they'll be here soon and it isn't going to be pretty."

“Breaking and entering rarely is."

She ignores him, eyes glued to her work. He peers over her shoulder, much closer than necessary, and points the sonic at an icon in the corner. "88-alpha burst routed through the primary breaker should give you access."

"Doctor," she warns.

"I'm helping!" he protests.

The screen turns green and demands access codes; she types them in without hesitation, then turns to him gravely. "Trust me, Doctor, you don't want to be a part of this."

"Why not?"

She doesn't answer. The computer blinks, the firewall collapsed, and she slides a disc from her pocket to insert into the core; he grabs her wrist before she manages.

"Why not?" he repeats, slow and firm.

"I don't have time to explain. We've got about thirty seconds before this place is flooded with soldiers and I, for one, would like to get out of here alive."

He doesn't move. His eyes hold hers and he searches her face, her thoughts, trying to break in; it's a steal trap, deadlocked, and he fails.

"Doctor."

He refocuses, looking for something - anything - in her expression that will help him decide.

"Let go of my hand," she says lowly. He has no doubt she could get away if she wanted to; he's stronger, but she's a fighter, and he knows he wouldn't stand a chance.

He also knows she isn't trying.

Slowly, reluctantly, he releases her, and she slams the disc into the machine. Another set of alarms blare, footsteps redirect themselves, and she grabs his hand. "Run."

They run, dodging sentries and robots at every turn. River's blaster is set to stun, much to his relief, but he still winces as the bodies hit the ground. He makes a sharp turn, the TARDIS in sight before realizing she isn't behind him. He calls her name, doubling back and tracing her signal, finding her again in another lab, the central science lab, wiring a small, black box to the main console.

"What are you doing?"

"Shutting it down."

"They're right behind us."

"You should go."

He huffs indignantly. "I'm not leaving you."

"I've got a vortex manipulator, I'll be fine."

"That's not what I meant."

He grabs her suddenly, stopping her frantic motions.

"Doctor, we don't have time--"

"I know. The virus was to get you control here. You're setting up the mainframe to encounter a firewall that’ll send residual power surges through the entire complex, effectively wiping every file and reading ever stored, but you haven't got enough power. The back-up circuits will override and save as much information as they can to the secondary source, which, judging by the fancy-schmancy of this operation, is probably off planet and probably even more guarded than this one."

"I know. That's why I'm changing the adapters to interact with and spread another virus when it reaches the back-up drives."

"A virus within a virus," he muses. "Clever. But you still haven't got time."

"If you'd stop talking and let me work--"

"Let me help."

She freezes momentarily, hands stilling over the wires. "I can't."

"Why not?"

She shakes her head and reconnects the circuit, denying him an answer.

"So I'm just supposed to stand here?" he demands angrily.

"You're supposed to get back to the TARDIS and get out of--"

"I'm not leaving you--"

"Doctor--"

She's scared. He missed it before, somehow, but the tone of her voice is begging, pleading with him to go, not to intervene. Whether it's for her own safety or his he doesn't know, though he can guess; but he's never been very good at either and before she can protest he's disconnecting cables and replicating her actions on the other side of the machine. She tries to argue, but the shouting is closer and the lights are brighter and they've barely connected the last wire when the room is stormed.

They shoot first and she dives, pushing the Doctor out of the way and under cover.

"Stay down!" she orders, turning and firing shots over the desk.

The Doctor sonics the floor panels, trying to find a way out and River keeps up a steady stream of cover fire, never letting more than two guards fully enter the room at a time.

There's a lucky shot, a spark, and she cries out suddenly, dropping back behind the console. The Doctor looks up; her hand is covered in blood and her blaster is smoking. "River, are you--"

"Keep working!"

She pulls a pistol from the holster at her back. The four soldiers who entered the room fall quickly; she aims for hands and arms and legs and feet, trying to keep her shots steady with her injured hand. Blood smears and the bodies fall and the Doctor feels sick, the smell so close and harsh.

"Aha!" he cries suddenly, scrambling for a panel near the corner. "I think I've got--"

"Doctor!"

He's on the floor suddenly, his screwdriver rolling away under the desk several meters away. He looks up just in time to see River standing where he was, where he should have been, red spreading out from a point on her shirt. He looks up just in time to see her fire, no hesitation, no mercy, at the man who shot at him. He's human, or looks human, wearing a lab coat and a badge, and he doesn't have time to cry out; the bullet hits the man squarely between the eyes, and he falls. River drops just as quickly, snatching the screwdriver and throwing it back to him as she keeps firing. The metal is covered in blood, her blood. He's about to ask if she's all right when her gun clicks, empty, and he quickly sonics open the panel. She shoves him down into the hatch and they hit the floor in a tumble, the long drop straining their knees.

She grabs his hand a second later and they're running, sonicing their way though doors and windows and hatches. She disarms more than a few men, human and not, so fast and so deadly, and she's a lot more graceful than he'd expected, fighting. It's all turns and tosses and everything is so precise, so perfect; they never lay a hand on her.

They dive into the TARDIS just as another unit rounds the corner, and he scrambles for the controls. The box shakes as the blast hits the door, but they dematerialise quickly enough, calming their spiral once inside the Vortex.

The silence is deafening.

He breathes in deeply, stroking his hands over the controls to calm himself.

River's breathing heavily, leaning against the wall near the door, her hair framing her face. He approaches her slowly, tentatively.

"You're hurt."

She tries to straighten up, to reassure him, but her good hand flies to her side and she winces. "I'll be fine," she tries, but it's through gritted teeth and closed eyes, and the Doctor smirks fondly.

Slowly, gently, he places a hand on her elbow and urges her to lean on him, wrapping his arm around her shoulder; the questions can wait for now.

--

They run from the Silence. From the footsteps of the Anglican Guard, marching surely behind them. He grabs her hand - tear-stained and dirty - and pulls her through the underbrush, away from the camp and away from the barriers; away from the nightless sky she's used to. They run, and Lorna barely feels her feet against the ground, never feels a branch break or a leaf crackle, as the Doctor holds her hand tight enough to bruise.

They run, and run, and run, and run, and run…

--

Her lessons are all the same: a wicked man with a wicked box, hurdling through space and time. All powerful and all knowing, everywhere and nowhere all at once. There are pictures on her walls, menacing faces that haunt her nightmares and paralyse her dreams. He doesn't have a name, just a title. A word. A feared word she grows to hate. Pictures of dead bodies and ashen planets. "He killed your race," they all say, "every last one. He tried to kill you. Out of fear. He fears you, as others will grow to fear you, anyone who sides with him."

She studies the texts and stares at the pictures and only cries when she's positive no one is watching. "You must defeat him. You will save us," the woman says, wrapping little fingers around heavy metal. "You will destroy him."

"I don't understand," the child says, and the woman with the silver eye purses her lips in anger.

"In time," she says, and leaves the girl to a room of white, barren walls, the sound of engines echoing through the night.

--

She always imagined it would be him.

Standing crooked and tall, staring down at her from his pedestal, eyes bright with past weeping and sorrow, she always assumed he would bring the rain down and the flood; all those tales of fire and ice, a hero in the body of a criminal. It sank into her, like it sank into all God's soldiers, until she saw no other way for it to end.

When it does end - a sharp crack in time, a seam, a powder keg - it isn't how Kovarian projected.

It's so, so much worse.

--

The Silence fall, and she remembers.

One at a time, each clearer than the last - memories, each like their own little brand, searing her skin. Metal boxes and grey faces; silver lights echoing off white-washed walls; the sound of engines; pin pricks and dust and her reflection in the concave glass.

River doesn't ask for them, sometimes doesn't even want them, but the Silence grow weaker and she grows stronger and slowly they merge, each image and thought and feeling, fusing together to complete the picture. She always knew there were gaps - objects in the corner of her eye, reactions that never made sense, photographs so familiar and yet so misunderstood.

It takes years for everything to fall into place, years of research, years of questions, years of dead-ends and confusion and a cold, empty anger that she can't explain. It curls in her chest, hearts strangled and lungs filled and the Doctor tries to quell her guilt, but he can't - he can't do anything, not this time. He can't save her, she knows.

Not from this.


--

There were too many guns.

Too much anger for his taste, too much singed skin and ash. He cleans her wounds calmly, too calmly, and she scrutinises his every movement. She's waiting for him to ask, but he doesn't; not yet. Her hand is wrecked, shards of debris lodged in the skin around the hole in her palm.

"I hate firecrackers," she mutters, hissing as he numbs the area with a cool gel.

He helps her pull her shirt off, wincing at the sight of the tear in her side. It isn't too serious, he knows, but the weapons are brutal, exploding shells, and even a flesh wound can be dangerous.

He bickers with her amiably, cleaning the cut on her side while she tends to her hand, picking out the scraps of metal carefully before bandaging the area. He's focused, too concerned about torn skin and the sight of bone to be distracted; fair skin and sleek muscles and she's beautiful, part of him registers. Even dishevelled and dirty and scarred, she's beautiful.

River lets him run his scans and ask his questions and poke her with a myriad of strange instruments, and he wonders if her patience is an inborn virtue or a developed one. Either way she stays, forgiving him his nervous habits, before slipping away once he's thoroughly satisfied and sufficiently distracted.

It isn't until later when he's finally stopped, finally allowed the day to sink in and create a space for itself in his mind that he remembers just how much gunfire there was, just how many bodies. Not by his hand, not directly, but the guilt clings to him like sand to slick skin, and he sighs.

Even the slightest hesitation he could have taken comfort in, but there was none. Every shot, every step, everything precise and purposeful; despite her injuries, she barely broke a sweat. Everything was mechanical -- except when she moved, so fast and so light he didn't register her motion until he hit the ground, rolling with her away from the fire. She caught his eye then, just for a second, just long enough to know that he was safe, and all he saw was fear. Fear, then relief, then nothing; she turned around and killed the man who shot at him; that would have hit him if she hadn't intervened.

The Doctor shakes his head, the memories dislodging and floating away into the recesses of his mind, at least for now. They'll need to talk about it, he knows; he'll need to convince her she was wrong and she'll need him to understand all the ways she wasn't. He hates it, but he's learning; he just hopes he'll learn enough in time.

--

Lorna leads the Doctor to the very edges of the Forest, crowded in purple leaves and gold grass and a distant, distant hum. The suns never rise here, she tells him, looking down over the shadowy canyon.

"Doctor," she asks, her voice as small and young as she is, hidden in the branches of a lame tree. "What are you looking for?"

He doesn't answer, but he holds her gaze and gives her a brilliant smile.

Below, the voices of the Marines echo up along the vines and the rocks and the water.

--

There is always doubt.

Small and neglected in the back of her heart, there's a confusion and a hope that can never be explained away. So wicked and so wise, but so, so alone. Doesn't that matter? she wants to ask, but they only hit her or forget her when she does.

"He stole you from your family," says the woman with the silver eye. "He tried to control you. But we saved you, and now you will save us."

She curls her fingers around the handle and nods, unsure but angry, filled with screams and terror and hatred. Her mother's face, shadowed in red, be brave, very brave. We'll find you.

"They can't find you," the Colonel says flatly, without remorse, the language of the Forests unnatural on his tongue. "They're dead. The Warrior killed them all."

--

She doesn't tell him, but he knows.

Not the man she meets in the laboratory, not the one who visits America. Not these versions, not these Times; but the Doctor, her Doctor, the one who lied and lies and will lie -- he knows.

What she's done. What she will do.

It won't matter when she's through; when it finally comes to a head. When the last shot is fired, it could all be undone, she knows. But even if it does, they're smart. They'll remember. And they'll know she won; their little warrior child. All grown up.

They'll
know.

--

He tries to cover the start, the brief shaking of his muscles and bones as his body registers her presence. He tries to mask it with a grim smile, but she knows - she always knows - and she tilts her head, her fingers drumming against the soft arm of the chair.

"Melody Pond," he acknowledges, clearing his throat. He reaches for his gun, but finds his holster empty. "I wasn't expecting you."

She smiles - the nerves in his feet begin to tremble - and shrugs her shoulders lightly. "Where would be the fun in that?"

He scowls, and her eyes dance in amusement. His gaze sweeps over her, trained and precise: the curve of her back, the swell of her chest, the shadow she casts to the floor. Her position is twofold, he knows - to show she's calm, controlled, and entirely confident; and also unarmed. He looks for signs, for clues of what's to come.

"You won't find anything," she says, an almost sing-song lilt to her tone. "After all, I was trained by the very best. Wasn't I, Colonel?"

"And it still wasn't enough," he says bitterly, blame rich on his tongue.

She merely shrugs. "You get points for effort."

His eyes flicker to the security camera hidden in the wall.

"What do you want?"

"So, so many things. None of which are actually attainable thanks to you; though you did plan everything so perfectly."

She rises, circling him. The Colonel stands as proudly as she remembers - hands folded behind his back, spine straight, legs shoulder-width apart. He doesn't flinch when she leans in, her breath hot against his ear.

"I have been wondering, however."

He stares straight at the wall ahead. "Wondering what?"

There's a long, empty pause. The silence itches, and he resists the urge to turn, to shake out his limbs, to keep her in his sights. She's behind him now, somewhere, but he doesn't know how far and he knows he can't move fast enough; he never could. When she speaks finally she's so close, nearly pressed against him, and he can't tell if her question is a continuation or a non-sequitur.

"Did they pay you?" she asks lightly, tracing a finger over the lapels of his coat, medals dangling there like spiders. "Did they give you this palace?"

She steps away, gesturing to the ornate furniture, the high ceilings and long floors and endless, endless luxury. "Or did they offer you something else?" she asks, turning her back to him completely and pouring two drinks into tall glasses from the bar. "Rank?" She adds one of the many spices arranged on the counter to both glasses, fingers pinching the substance into the dark liquid. "Honour?" The drink glows a soft yellow at the top, blending down into crimson and black as she stirs, first one, then the other. Satisfied, she turns and offers him a glass. "Or was it simply pride?"

He stares, unmoving. Her lips curve into a smirk as she takes a delicate sip. He still refuses and she shrugs, setting the drink on the nearest table. She returns to her seat, legs crossed, leaning back into the cushions casually. She takes another sip, eyebrows raised in question.

"Well?"

"My consolations are none of your concern."

"No," she agrees, then drops her voice to a sly whisper, "But they do make excellent table conversation, don't they?"

"Is that why you're here?" he asks dryly. "Conversation?"

"Have we something to discuss?"

It's a dare. Bold and bright and a bit inspiring, if he were willing to admit it. She knows he knows; her ease assured him of that instantly. But her look, so smooth and deceiving, haunts his muscles painfully and there's a voice in the back of his head, buried low and covered with years of training, a little voice that he tries desperately to quell: run, it says. For God's sake, run.

As if echoing his thoughts, her voice breaks the pause. "Colonel Runaway," she muses. "Pity that never caught on, I rather like it. It suits you."

He raises his arms, letting them fall easily to his sides. "Am I running now?" he questions.

She smiles, a little secret curving the edges of her lips. "Not yet."

His jaw twitches. "So. To what do I owe this…unexpected pleasure?" His words are tight and scornful, but if anything they only amuse her further.

"Can't a girl just drop in on her old Master now and then?"

The title echoes back at him bitterly, but her words are so light, her smile so fixed, that he hesitates.

"You were a Warrior, Melody. The best Warrior. You still are."

She recognises the offering, the extended palm, and ignores it. "But not the warrior you expected, am I?"

"You were corrupted."

She laughs. He flinches, hard, and it only makes her smile brighter. "Oh, Colonel. You have no idea."

"You can't run forever," he warns.

She arches an eyebrow - "Can't I?" - and sets her drink down on the table adjacent to the chair, folding her hands primly in her lap. "Tell me, Colonel - do you still train Recruits?"

He frowns, trying to guess ahead. "I assume you know the answer to that."

She nods vaguely. "Four-hundred twenty-five Anglican Marines at your command. That's quite an impressive cavalry for a man of your age."

"They're good men," he says firmly.

Her smile fades into something he can't place, something haunting, akin to sadness. "Aren't they all?"

"Why are you here?" he demands harshly, growing impatient.

"Isn't it obvious?" she asks sweetly; the sound burns his ears. There's a gun in the table drawer behind him, a meter to his left. She's five from it; he knows he'd never make it.

"And what does your Doctor think of this?"

She smiles tightly. "You seem to be implying the Doctor would care." She blinks at him in false innocence. "I thought he was a brutal warrior. Why would he mourn a life such as your own?"

"You had the best education. The best training. We gave you--"

"What you gave me," she interrupts, "amounts to very little in light of what you took."

"We made you what you are," he argues. "A strong woman. A Warrior."

"Doctor," she corrects, eyes gleaming at his confusion. "I'm accredited now. Aren't you proud."

She's mocking him, each inflexion, each motion of her hands, every blink - they're all intentional, all signals. She lets the pause fester, watching every twitch and every flicker of his gaze. He's waiting for the guards that aren't there, the security that will never come. He's waiting, just like he always has, because he can't run.

"Do you know what the Church still executes for, Colonel?" she asks suddenly, casually; like it's nothing more than a line in a play. "Thousands of years later, they've abandoned almost every stigma that plagued them up through the 31st century. There's only one, True Sin now. Punishable by death." She tilts her head curiously. "Do you know what it is?"

"I'm a bishop," he snaps. "I know all God's laws."

"Then tell me, bishop," she drawls, leaning forward, arms draped over her legs. "What is the greatest Sin?"

He freezes. River waits, still and patient, her half-empty glass dangling precariously from her slim fingers. The Colonel shifts, the slightest motion betraying his distress. Finally he dodges, a question of his own buried in a quotation:

" 'For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.' "

She nods slowly, relaxing again into the cushions. "Romans, 5:18-19."

"Chapter and Verse." He tilts his head in intrigued approval. "I'm surprised you remember."

Her smirk disappears instantly, tone dangerous and cold. "I remember everything."

He shakes his head, finally moving, lowering himself stiffly into the chair across from her and taking the drink perched on the table.

"The Doctor is far more guilty of Sin than we ever were," he reasons.

The amused curve of her lips returns, and she arches an eyebrow at him evenly. "The Church is judging by degrees, now?"

"You know it's true," he ignores her. "We never lied to you." He tilts his head curiously, taking a careful drink and watching her reaction; she doesn't blink; he swallows. "Everything he's done…how can you trust him?"

" 'For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man,' " she parrots. He stares. Drawing the last taste of her drink, she stands, passing him slowly and leaning down to whisper in his ear. "You're on the wrong side, Colonel Manton. You always have been."

He waits, timing his question until she's near the door; her footsteps tell him she's already stopped, ahead of him, awaiting his card. He grimaces, but covers it with a cool, breezy tone: "Do you really think you're just going to walk out of here?"

Her smile is brutal. "Do you?"

He falters - just a fraction of a second, barely at all, but she catches it; she knows.

"The greatest Sin," she says, just as he feels the first flush of heat under his skin, "isn't death. It isn't vengeance. It isn't even a war."

His hands shake just slightly; he stares at the glass in his hand, the edge of fear crawling along his skin. "What have you done?" he demands.

"It's believing you can become like God. Isn't that right, Colonel?"

He buckles suddenly, his chest tight, eyes hot, a thousand needles everywhere. He gasps, collapsing to the floor. Her shadow falls over him as she kneels, fingers once again tracing his medals, his honours, his rewards.

"You took my childhood. You made me your Prodigal." She leans in close, lips to his ear. "How many of your 'good men' were children, Colonel? Or was I special?"

"R-River," he mouths; his body shakes and his throat is tight, but he manages to ask, just one more time.

" 'I am not a Fool,' " she echoes quietly, the faintest hint of remorse flashing in her eyes. " 'I am a Mercenary of the Lord. I am Ordained in the Light of the Spirit to cast Judgment upon those who Trespass.' "

She watches as his body spasms then stills, mid-gasp or mid-word she doesn't know; she never let him beg, a small, unnecessary gift. His eyes are wide, pupils blown, and she rises slowly, leaving him untouched.

" 'I am not a Fool. I am a Mercenary of the Lord,' " she murmurs to the empty room. " 'I will uphold The Law.' "

--

She finds the box in Madame Kovarian's vacant office, eighty years into the future, buried in a pocket underneath the sleek, white floor. Covered in dust and sin and fear, she pulls the box from its hiding place and opens it: a wooden doll, a paperclip, and photographs. Three little girls, all in different places and different times. They're all holding the doll, tattered and worn. They aren't the same, but they are.

Three little girls.

One photograph: a shed, a suitcase, a house with an overgrown lawn.

It's too familiar, too perfect. She remembers that doll - its smell, the texture of its hair, its smooth, wooden face. She didn't before, but she does now; a movie reel come to life in her mind.

The photographs are numbered: 1 2 3

Small, bigger, biggest.

She remembers a suit; grey faces and long arms. Kovarian's steely grin. Silver and white. Concave glass. And then: the house with the overgrown lawn; the soft hum of engines; the teenage girl.

The photographs fall to the floor.


--

The Doctor kisses Lorna on the forehead and gives her a gift and sends her on her way. Back to her family. Back to the Forests, away from the chanting and the marching and the big, silver box that shadows the canyon.

He sends her away, knowing that what he's done now will kill her then, and he worries at how this guilt bleeds so effortlessly into all the rest. But there isn't time, there's never time, and he makes his way slowly toward the compound without a backwards glance.

--

She is still a child when the Silence come for her. She isn't afraid: not of the dark, not of the writing on the walls, not of the strange colours outside her white-washed room. She isn't even afraid of the engines, ever-present, always haunting. She isn't afraid of anything, until they push her into a white suit with a glass window and she can't move, can barely breathe. Everything is stiff and full of pain and she begs them to let her out, to let her go.

"You escaped," he says, gentle but firm. "You fought back."

"I was supposed to," she snaps, pulling away from him angrily. He doesn't know yet. Doesn't understand. She called for him and he came, but not at the right time; never at the right time. "I did everything - everything - they wanted. I played right into their hands."

The Doctor follows her relentlessly. "You were a little girl, River. A terrified, unloved little girl--"

"I should have known."

He smiles at her sadly. "How could you? How could you possibly?" He brushes his hand across her cheek and it terrifies and bewilders him, the ease with which she leans into his touch. She catches herself not a moment later, pulling away and putting a distance between them he never thought he'd grow to hate; to resent. His boundaries, his rules, crushing even further the broken heart of a woman he isn't supposed to love.

He hesitates; then steps forward with as much confidence as he can muster and gently - so, so gently - cups her face in his hands, fingers soft against her neck and jaw, thumbs just barely caressing her cheeks. She tenses, wide-eyed and confused, until he leans in and brushes a kiss against her forehead. She shudders - a small, involuntary motion that forces him to let go, only to wrap his arms around her as tight as he can and hold on for all he's worth.

--

She tightens her fingers around the gun, and a shot echoes through the white.

"See?" Kovarian says, "That wasn't so bad. Now." Fingers around hers, adjusting her own grip on the gun. "Try again."

--

It isn't as calculated as she would have preferred.

Her motions are deliberate and her aim is precise, but it lacks closure; it isn't defined or poignant like the others. His eyes widen with recognition, and she knows he knows - in those last seconds between her finger releasing the trigger and the blast impacting, their eyes meet.

It's slow, somehow; Time has always given her a strange sort of grace. He mouths her name, the bullet still in its trajectory. It's a crass form of death, she knows, but he'll still be recognisable - a 21st century piece of metal lodged between the creases of his brow.

No words, no last reminders. She doesn't get the opportunity to stand over him, powdered residue on her hands and clothes. Instead she shouts, and pushes the Doctor behind a large crate as the air crackles with plasma and electricity.

She doesn't get that final moment, but it'll do.




part two
 
 
 
gidget_zb on August 14th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
HGASHASAJHSAJKSHAJKHJAKSJKAS.

THE REST. NAOW.


HOMGGGGGGGGGG.
☮ + ♡ + ☺: doctor who - r/d; picture it backwardshihoplastic on August 14th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
\o/!! I APPROVE OF YOUR KEYMASH.

Next part should be up sometime next week! Need to run it through another beta. :)
Trialiatrialia on August 14th, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
Before I start to read: GAH at you for giving me an earworm! I sang this for my chapel congregation last year...
Trialia: who] river - pure calmtrialia on August 14th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
And: ouch. *gives you a low, sweeping bow and waits for part two, as ze does not judge a fic until it's whole.*
☮ + ♡ + ☺hihoplastic on August 14th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
I'll take the ouch! :D Next part should be up next week. Thank you so much for reading!

And lol, sorry about the earworm. Though it could be worse! If you're gonna have something stuck in your head, it might as well be Vienna. ;)
Lady Mercury: Riverladymercury_10 on August 14th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
This is amazing and lyrical and I can't wait to read the rest. Plus, I love Vienna Teng, and I have coincidentally been listening to that song on repeat for the past week.
☮ + ♡ + ☺: music - lc; everybody knowshihoplastic on August 14th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you're enjoying it. Should have the next part up by next week. :)

Vienna Teng is amazing. There's no other like her.
Alytenacious_err on August 14th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Still the best thing evvvvvvvvvvvvver! ♥

(And by best thing, I mean most soul crushing, ofc.)
☮ + ♡ + ☺: doctor who - r; dog days are overhihoplastic on August 14th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
HEEEEEEE I'm so happy you like it! :D

(Well. It wouldn't be me if I didn't try to stomp on your soul a bit. :P)
Noordarklight90 on August 17th, 2011 07:59 am (UTC)
It's amazing how you weave all those significant bits of River's life - past, present, and future - into this tapestry of a piece. The darker side of the child Melody, the abuse she suffers and how it hardens, really leaves a mark on me. Her meeting with the Colonel? Scary, but all levels of awesome.

And then, I like that there's still time (pun intended) for the Doctor in that she thinks of him, loves him, fears him and feels nothing for him throughout those points in her life. I'm delighted to see that there are two more chapters coming up. This first one seems like an excellent prelude for what follows.
☮ + ♡ + ☺hihoplastic on August 17th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. Thank you so much for the beautiful comments! I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far. I personally can't wait to find out more about River/Melody's past; I doubt it'll be anything like this (Moffat's way smarter than I am, lol) but this was fun to invent nonetheless.

One of the things I find so wonderful and special about River in terms of her relationship with the Doctor is that, unlike everyone else, he's always been a part of her life, from the moment she was born, for better or worse. They're completely intertwined.

Thank you again so much for the comments! Next part should be up in a few days :)
Vicky: [DW] Rivervickysg1 on August 17th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
*LOVES* *LOVES* *LOVES*

You have to post the rest soon! It's so great!!!!!
☮ + ♡ + ☺: doctor who - r/d; picture it backwardshihoplastic on August 17th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
YAY! Thank you so much, sweetie! The next part should be up in a couple days; just gotta go through another round of beta'ing. :)
icarusicarus_abides on August 18th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
OK, SO I TOTES HAVEN'T READ ANY OF THIS. Partly because ASAFAOSIHFKJLHDFJKSAH YOU WRITED SOME WHO!FIC.

Also, I'm hoping that you post up the 3rd section of this before I start reading because I already know that its going to be amaaaazing and if I have to wait for the final part I'm going to be ever so cross.

And, AND, I have been to two zoos in the last month and have OKAPIIIIII pictures!! But have no Internet connection with those pics right now so can't post them. Not baby okapi but they're adoooorable nonetheless.
☮ + ♡ + ☺: doctor who - r/d; picture it backwardshihoplastic on August 18th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
LMAO! ILU. I did wrote Who fic!! I AM SO INTO WHO RIGHT NOW IT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY. DID I KNOW YOU WERE INTO WHO? I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT. WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT. AT LENGTH. I also wroted another Who fic that is only one part that you can read without waiting for the next installment. /selfpimp

OKAAPIIIII!! That is awesomeeeee I am so ridiculously jealous of your life right now. I can't even. I'm gonna go stalk your journal now and get updated. *nods*

I'll let you know when I put the final part up so you can read in one go! Hee. ;)
icarus: River Songicarus_abides on August 18th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
I think I had seen here or there that you were into Teh Who and it made me all squirmy-wormy with happy. But then LJ decided to be a dick, and RL got in the way of things and you know how it goes. But yes! I believe that Doctor Who is actually the only show that I'm watching on a regular basis. Bonus that it has such an amaaaaazing ship. Timelords. Their timelines hurt mah brain.

I JUST READ IT THOUGH. HOLY CHRIST ON A CRACKER THIS IS GOING TO REQUIRE ANOTHER READ THROUGH!!

I was actually at the zoo going "Omg, I can't wait to post these up and be all 'hihoplastic, these are for you!'" My dork knows no bounds.

My life is weird. Not as stressful anymore since I've finally hit some goals. Too many animals and too much traveling, not enough money.
☮ + ♡ + ☺: sga - je; we gotta stop thathihoplastic on August 18th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
Yesssssss. SO INTO IT, lol. Mostly for River, ngl. Though I love Eleven and Rory and the TARDIS and and and. RIVER/ELEVEN. LIKE BURNING.

Hehee!! I just posted the second part, if you're interested. Have some more wibbly wobbly timey whimey-ness! ;)

HEHEEEE THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I CANNAH WAIITTTTT. OKAAPIIIIIIII.

That sounds perfect, ngl. DO WANT. Go you! :D