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A big, complicated word.

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He marked her departure – he couldn’t use the word ‘death’- with a fitting tribute that he knew she would have appreciated.

Sitting in the open doorway of the TARDIS, he watched as his ship sent ribbons of colour bursting through the stars. Bright and startling, loud and bold. Beautiful, just like she had been. The tears did not seem to want to stop coming. And he was fine with that. What had he called it that day when he had visited her parent’s house? That day when she had turned up just after him, looking radiant, happy and so very alive.

(“Humany wumany”.)

He leaned against the door and felt the TARDIS thrum in response. She was mourning too. For the child that she had been a part of. Part time lady, created in the vortex with love and starlight and hope.

He raised her scarf to his face and it's scent invaded his senses. Unique and familiar, and now just a memory. He remembered gently wrapping it around her as he had picked her up for the last time. They had made love under the moonlight, the music of the towers filling the skies. And he had committed every sigh, moan and gasp to memory, whispering endearments into her skin, and wishing with every fibre of his being that they could change who they were tonight. That he could stop what was going to happen, and keep her with him.

(“You watch us run.”)

She had known something was wrong. Her lovely, intelligent eyes filled with worry as he kissed her and left.

And now she was gone.

How was that possible? How could someone with so much life and strength, just not be here anymore?

“Oh, River.” He sighed softly.

The display outside was coming to an end. He had to leave. Move on, travel, visit more worlds, more times. Without her.

He’d done it before. He’d lost so many people that he loved. This felt different. Maybe it was this body, this mind, their connection? Or maybe, it was just because he felt so old. A very long time ago, River had given him back his life. Breathed her essence into this body and sacrificed a part of her future, willingly.

(“Mother, I had to try.”)

She was gone, and it felt like she had taken this body with her. Like his two ancient hearts had no use anymore. This body belonged with her, always. He had known it since that day that she had crashed into the TARDIS. All curves and heels, bossing him around and flying his ship. The instant frisson between them, the way her smile made him feel all wibbly. The way their bodies fit together for all of their nights. This version of him was hers, and she was his.

He felt the TARDIS flutter against his mind and he gasped, jumping up.

“Oh, sexy! I am stupid. Old and stupid. But that's it!”

He jumped up and bounced towards the console, flicking levers.

“Time can’t be rewritten, but I can choose my own fate, just as she did. And I can choose this. Choose her.”

The TARDIS sprung into life, spinning across time and space, for one last time, towards their final destination. A man and his box, off to a new life, and the one adventure he had thought he could never have.

(Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days, when the wind stands fair, and the Doctor comes to call, everybody lives.”)