River Song first met her son when he was thirty two. She had just recovered under the watchful eyes of the Sisters of the Infinite Schism and had been looking for the Doctor ever since. Rumour and careful re-reading of 21st Century history, her mother and father’s time period, lead her to The Battle of Canary Wharf. She was too late. The Battle was over, and she watched in quiet desperation as the TARDIS faded out of this time and space into another, far from her. Tears damped her cheeks and she wiped them away feeling foolish. There was no way of knowing if this had been the right Doctor, for all she knew it could have been one of his earlier incarnations before he had met her and that was no use, no use at all. She longed to understand the bond between them, to discover why her parents were so loyal and taken with him, to comprehend how she could ever love the man she had been raised to kill. More than all of that, she wanted to bathe in his mere presence, feel special once more like the fate of the world and all the worlds in the universe hung on her kiss. But she was left with nothing. Just a burning ache in her gut that worsened with each passing year. No longer was she immortal, this body would one day die now that she no longer had any more regenerations left, and her impatience grew with each day that she did not see the Doctor. The life they would live together had to start soon or she’d not live to know it, and she couldn’t bare that happening!
“Please,” a voice croaked, and River turned around guiltily to find a man before her, broken and blood stained as if he had been injured but was now healed if exhausted. He was good looking with bright blue eyes that currently shone with tears and a lean build framed by a tailored suit that was now torn and dirty from his exertion. “Please, help me,” he said.
“I... I’m not sure I can...” she said, at a loss. The way he was looking at her... only one other person had given her that look before, and it had been the Doctor begging River Song to save his life before she had even known that she was River Song. He was looking at her like she was his salvation. It made her intensely uncomfortable and it also made her feel like she was incredibly powerful. She could save him, and only her.
“You’re looking for Him, aren’t you?” The man said, coughing into his handkerchief even as he maintained eye contact
“Have you seen him? Will he be coming back?” River asked eagerly.
The man shook his head and her heart swelled with disappointment. “No, I’m sorry. It’s for the best. You’ve come too soon, River Song, he hasn’t met you yet and wouldn’t be in the frame of mind to trust you. He just saw his world get torn apart,” he said, his voice breaking on the last sentence and River had a feeling he wasn’t just talking about the Doctor when he said that.
River drew an energy pistol and pointed it at the man. He didn’t flinch once, perhaps the violence of the battle had numbed him. “How do you know all this? How do you even know who I am, let alone who I was here for?” She asked, suspicious now even as something tugged at her insides, screaming out that she could trust him, that she needed to help him.
Blue eyes stared at her steadily but she could tell that he was trying to concoct a believable lie. “I’m from Archives. I know a lot of things,” he said. “Please, please help me.”
Damn it if there wasn’t something about him that she just couldn’t deny. She put away the pistol and went to his side, placing his lanky arm over her shoulders and supporting him as they walked away. “How?”
“My girlfriend, Lisa. I need to save her. Help me,” he said, and she did.
When she saw that the girl was partially converted she almost shot the poor woman there and then to put her out of her misery. The man stepped in front of her gun and begged her with blue eyes. In the end she advised him on how to keep the girl alive in the mean time and warned him that she couldn’t be trusted. As she was leaving, having helped him get her to a relatively safe location, she realised why she had felt compelled to help him. While he did not closely resemble any of her previous incarnations, he reminded her of Rory, of her father. Not overly, just something about him. She realised that she had most likely helped her son, and felt only deep sadness that she had not shot the cyberwoman and saved the boy some of the pain he would later experience.
The second time River met her son was also the first time he met her.
“He’s beautiful,” Rory assured her teary eyed as she lay exhausted against the pillows of her mother’s guest bedroom. She smiled and held her arms out so that she might hold her newborn son and gaze upon his form for the first time.
“What are you going to call him?” Amy asked, sitting on the bed next to her and wrapping her arms around her adult daughter. The year was two thousand and sixteen from Amy and Rory’s perspective and River had only been dropping by for a visit. Last week she had earned her PhD in archaeology at the Lunar University, since the Doctor didn’t think that it was a good idea for her to be travelling with him while she was pregnant. Next thing she knew she was in agonising pain and Rory was telling her to remember her breathing the way he never got the chance to when Amy had been in labour with River. At least now he’ll have had this experience for when her little brother was born in a year or so.
“William John Pond, of course,” River said.
“Not John Williams then?” Rory asked, sighing.
“Of course not. We’re the Ponds, not the Williamses,” River and Amy gave him twin smiles and he gave in gracefully, since there was never any chance of him getting his way, not with Amy and certainly not with her daughter.
“Then I’m honoured,” Rory said, and River beamed at him before turning her attention back to her son.
“Hello, William John Pond,” she whispered, and the child blinked up at her with beautiful blue eyes.
Of course that wasn’t the end of her story, not by a long shot. She decided to stay in that time period for a while, until the Doctor picked them up and swept her off he feet all over again with his darling ability to bond with babies. For a few months they lived in the TARDIS with their son, enjoying all the luxury that they had earned. That was until the world was in danger again and the Doctor found himself called away, ironically by a younger version of herself, and he dropped her off in Wales. In 1974. By accident, of course. River decided to stay, after all no one knew who she was in this time period and it would be refreshing to be left in relative peace to raise her son. The Doctor dropped by a few times, although not every version of himself knew who William was as some versions had not experienced his conception yet. During one such visit he came to drop of Rhiannon, a daughter born years in the future who for some reason she was unable to raise at that time so had sent her back to a period when she knew she would be safe and cared for. River never loved Rhiannon any less for this, although it drove a wedge between mother and daughter when they realised that unlike her brother Rhiannon had not inherited her parent’s ability to regenerate. River theorised it was because the version of the Doctor who sired her had no more regenerations left himself, either that or he was not the father however she could not imagine this being true. The Doctor, of course, refused to answer any questions, replying only with the word ‘spoilers’ when she queried Rhiannon’s lack of ability to regenerate after she had almost died in a car accident when she was seven. River loved neither of her children less for the ability or inability to regenerate. This, however, did not stop her from being dragged away by the Doctor on a mission of most importance shortly after William’s fourteenth and Rhiannon’s sixteenth birthdays. She was unable to return, and when she did Rhiannon was less than welcoming insisting that she had a normal life now, with a husband and a tiny baby who looked so much like William had that it made River ache for the years lost. John, as he had been calling himself since she disappeared, had left by this point, ‘gone to live in London, where all the action happens’, she was told by Rhiannon. She failed to mention that he had changed his name to Ianto Jones and was working for Torchwood in a misguided attempt to be close to the Doctor. Ianto didn’t have access to time travel, so Torchwood was his only link to the Doctor, to his father. Once again River was saddened, but luckily for her Ianto held no grudges and allowed her back into his life, tentatively.
It wasn’t until after her younger self had helped him save Lisa that he began to communicate with her once again. At first it was just emails, some she would get and others would be lost in the ether but he would understand if she took her time replying or failed to do so. Then, one day, he called her.
“Mum. I need you.”
And she was there the next day.