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Last Farewell

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Last farewell

All but Death, can be adjusted
Dynasties repaired –
Systems – settled in their Sockets –
Citadels – dissolved –

Wastes of Lives – resown with Colors
By Succeeding Springs –
Death – unto itself – Exception –
Is exempt from Change –

- Emily Dickinson

It had been a grey morning when Shadow had to face one of the hardest situations in her life so far.

Right now she sat with River in the kitchen of the Ponds and both where nursing cups of tea that had gone cold by now.

It was the day after River had finished the book and sent it to Amy. It was the week after Rory and Amy were going on their last trip with the Doctor. River had been there.

River was very stoic about this. She knew she could never see her parents again and that to her they were dead. The distortions around the time period were just too great to even attempt a jump with a Vortex Manipulator. And usually those could get into anything.

River had not yet reached the stage of grieving that incorporated crying.

To Shadow it seemed as if River was split into two different personalities. The one she showed to the outside, which had seemingly accepted the fact that her parents were dead, and the one on the inside that was still stuck with denial. The one trying to make the situation go away. But ignoring the situation was not going to do that, Shadow knew that from her own experience.

But whatever the case may be, Shadow thought that it was going to be a very strenuous day and night.

Shadow had plans. Plans that included hopping in time.

A quick glance towards River told her that it was probably best to get started. She got up and silently took the cup from River's hands and poured the cold tea into the sink.

"Get your coat. We're going out." Shadow said in a voice that permitted no arguments.

River shortly furrowed her brow and then got up to put her coat on.

Shadow went and put her Vortex Manipulator on and grabbed some flowers that she had gotten very early this morning.

When she returned, River stood by the door expectantly looking at Shadow.

"Care to tell me where we're going?"

Shadow smiled sadly. "On a visit."

River immediately grasped what she had meant. She struggled a moment for words. "Why?"

"Because it's the right thing to do. And I liked them, too." Shadow laid down the flowers by the door to put her long coat on. "And I would like you to accompany me."

River furrowed her brow for a moment and then moved to Shadow's side and put her hand on Shadow's left arm where the Vortex Manipulator was fastened. "Alright."

"Thank you." And they were off.

A graveyard in New York City, 2012

They materialized on the grass and immediately assumed formation. Standing back to back they unblinkingly scanned the perimeter.

You see anything? Shadow asked River telepathically.

No. You? It was amazing how well they played together. They both put aside emotions for a moment to make sure they were safe.

No. But keep your eyes open I'm going to do a scan. Shadow pushed a few buttons on her Vortex Manipulator, nodded and repeated the same thing on her scanner. When she nodded again, she moved away from River and turned towards her. "We're clear. There isn't a single humanoid stone figure in a four mile radius. And if there should be one so much as twitch in a ten mile radius, we'll get notified."

River faced Shadow. "You are amazing." Shadow smiled shortly.

"Yeah. But I'm not here for that. We are not here for that." Shadow drew a deep breath. "Do you remember where it is?"

"Yes." River put her hand on a tombstone to her left. "Right here."

Shadow went in front of the grave, knelt down and put the flowers on it. Standing up, she looked at the stone and read its inscription.



She stood there for a while, unmoving, eyes closed.

A single tear slid from her eye and she bowed her head respectfully.

"River?" Shadow whispered, looking up.


"If it is alright with you, I would like for them to receive the last honor of the Wolf."

River looked at Shadow questioningly.

"To become one with the Universe. To contribute to the balance of the forces." Shadow elaborated.

"It would grant them that?" River was suddenly doubtful.

"It is the right of every Child of Time." Shadow's eyes glowed golden and her voice was different when she spoke.

River gasped. This was the Wolf itself talking to her. She barely could resist the urge to kneel. Instead she respectfully bowed her head in recognition. "As you wish."

"Come here, my dear." It motioned for River to move in front of the grave.

When River had taken her place, it moved forward and kneeled on the grave. Putting a hand on each side of the grave, it spoke "I have seen all you did. And you did me proud. Come and join now with us. Join us and ensure the continued balance of the forces. Come now, Children."

It rose up, stepped back and from the ground swirled two strands of golden mist. They were floating up and around, twisting around each other. Then they coalesced into two clouds which moved towards River.

To River they were comforting although she knew she should be afraid, at least a little. She opened her arms and welcomed the clouds into an embrace. The clouds likewise enveloped River completely.

At around the same time, the Wolf drew itself back into Shadow's mind, leaving her to stare at the events before her eyes.

Be safe, my girl. We will always love and watch over you. The clouds were telepathically broadcasting.

"Yes, Dad. Thank you." River was slowly losing her composure.

And River?

"Yes, mother?" River was definitely biting back tears now. Shadow moved beside her and laid an arm around her.

You don't always have to be the strong girl. There is someone that will always put you before themselves. You can let yourself fall and she will prevent you from breaking. She will protect you when you are vulnerable. Let go, grief. Although we have left this earth we will always be there. Around you and within you.

This was the moment that River's composure completely broke. She let out a sob. Shadow pulled her close. Trying to give as much comfort as she could.

And you… The clouds turned to Shadow. Or so it seemed to her. …you protect her. Do anything you can for her. She needs you. Do not hurt her or we will hunt you down and make you pay.

Shadow thought it only fitting that she should answer telepathically as well. I give you my word. I shall protect her in any way I can. I love her and I will try my utmost to never let her down. I never want to be the cause of her harm. Whatever may come, I will stand beside her.

The mist enveloped them both then.

We must go now. Goodbye. And the mist started to rise up to the skies.

"I'll miss you." River choked out.

Shadow put her arms around River and activated the Vortex Manipulator, bringing them back to the Pond residence.

There she put River in bed and followed suit. Staying close to be the strength that River didn't have but needed.

It was long, very long before River had ceased crying and fell into a fitful sleep. All this time Shadow watched over her.

When Shadow woke up she immediately noticed the absence of River beside her. She was worried that River had done something stupid. But then she noticed the smell of coffee and bacon in the air. With relief flooding her, she got up and made her way towards the kitchen.

In the kitchen, River was busy preparing breakfast. Shadow leaned on the doorframe and watched her. A small smile graced her lips. It was really interesting what people could go through and still make it out stronger than before. It would still be a long while until River would've completely accepted that her parents were dead and not get very sad but for now it was a good sign that she wasn't crying anymore.

River spun around with the pan in hand and spotted Shadow leaning on the frame.

"How long have you been standing there?" River asked surprised.

Shadow pushed off from the frame and made her way around the kitchen island, answering with a soft loving look. "Long enough to know that I am a very lucky woman who loves you very, very much." She snagged a piece of bacon. "And also that you are very gorgeous in the morning light."

River looked down and put the eggs onto plates. Shadow could swear that she saw a hint of a blush on River's cheeks. "Flattery will get you everywhere." River mumbled under her breath.

They sat down at the table eating their breakfast in silence.

Afterwards, Shadow leaned back in her chair, a mug of coffee in her hands, and studied River. River mirrored her and raised an eyebrow.

"Why coffee?" Shadow wondered.

"After yesterday I thought we could do with something a little stronger than tea." Shadow raised her brows in appreciation and took a sip.

After a moment she asked "How are you doing?"

River sighed. "I don't know. There is this vast empty hole that I can't fill and I just…" She broke off, words escaping her.

"I know." Shadow put the mug down on the table. "But it will get better. Well…when I say better I mean that you will learn to cope with it."

"You make it seem so easy." River put her mug down, too, and leaned forward putting her head in her hands.

"Trust me when I say that it is not easy. Every loss I experience is still hard. But over the years I learned to accept death. That does in no way mean that I wouldn't try to save a damned soul, but I accept when there is nothing I can do. I grief and I let go. I remember everyone I have known that died."

"You must have experienced the loss of many. I'm sorry." River grabbed one of Shadow's hands.

"Too many. But it's alright. They live on right here." Shadow tapped her temple with her free hand.

A silence fell between them for a while.

"All but Death, can be adjusted…" Shadow whispered suddenly.

"What?" River looked at her.

"It's a poem by Emily Dickinson. Nice woman. I think she fancied me a bit. Anyway…she wrote this poem about the inevitability of death."

"Really? How does it go?" River wondered.

"All but Death, can be adjusted
Dynasties repaired –
Systems – settled in their Sockets –
Citadels – dissolved –"
Shadow started quietly.

Going on, she squeezed River's hand.
"Wastes of Lives – resown with Colors
By Succeeding Springs –
Death – unto itself – Exception –
Is exempt from Change –"

Shadow exhaled sadly.

"Everything has its time and everything dies." River whispered in return.


And silence enveloped them again.

"Hey, Shad…" River started. "For yesterday…I mean what you did…" She shook her head. "What I actually want to say is thank you. I would never have gone there myself. And I thank the Wolf for what it did, too. That was a very good thing to do."

"It was nothing. I was simply doing what you seemed to need. That's what I'm here for."

"No. You are much, much more than that. You are the one that I love the most. You are so very good to me. How do I deserve you? What did I do that you love me?" River smiled.

"You're you. And the rest will fall into place when it is time."