Characters/Pairing: The Doctor, River. Written with Eleven in mind, but it can be any Doctor after Ten, if you want.
Word Count: 460
Summary: A new haircut, a suit, and half an ending. Written for adina_18 for the spoiler_song ficathon. The prompt was, 'Doctor + River, Angst, after or just before the Singing towers.'
Spoilers up until 'A Good Man Goes to War.'
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC's.
It was waiting for him when he entered; stacked layer on layer, as though folded into place by unseen hands.
Every dark thread fell in line with the rest, and the silver weave fringed round cuffs and edges ran smooth under his fingers, like new.
But the discoloration across the insoles, the soft crackle in the waistcoat’s lining, told another story.
He felt the weight of everything; certain that each piece had been idling between dust-furred coats over many ages, in anticipation of the him that would fit it.
For the first journey that he could remember, his box felt like his prison. The day of sentencing, of judgement and denial, was long over. He’d paid in kind, forever hoping to avoid the final recompense.
Forever neglectful of the simple fact that Time, far more than him, is a ruthless collector on debts.
Empty-handed, he locked his fingers behind his back as he waited, so that they could not dart away. A gift- anything to carry- would have shielded him, might have made the greeting come easier. But old habits and rash impulses held sway. The usual exchanges, of flowers and half-realised compliments, had never fitted them, at any point. They had no use for things cut short.
Keys turned, in succession. The door opened, on a woman he saw die.
The memory flared so near that he had to shut his eyes, to dispatch it- a double-heartbeat, a blink, in which neither of them moved. When he looked on her a second time she had braced an arm in the doorway, half-smiling, half-incredulous. The breath was moving again in her throat; she took one step back, and then advanced, right up to him. “The hair. Just for a moment you looked like- one of the others.” Her hands framed his face, as if to relearn its shape. “But really, sweetie, I thought perhaps you carved it, with a chisel or- something...”
The top buttons were undone along her coat. The evening air brushed her curls against his neck. She was so warm and bright and beautiful that he laughed. It was impossible to do otherwise; impossible even to whisper, in the backwaters of his mind, the alternative.
Her last kiss, like his first, came almost as a surprise. Melody Pond, the child of dear friends, was closer in his memory than the River she would grow to be. He had spun out those early meetings as long as he could, lingering until just before departure became too hard. Hesitancy had grown almost natural, a guard against early revelation or belated regret.
There was nothing to be gained from hesitancy now.
He took her hand and drew her back towards his ship, never once letting go.