Once in flight, the Doctor set the TARDIS to drift through deep space. Yes, she had to get River back to wherever she had been taken from, but this was probably the last time she would see River for a long, long time, and she wanted to spend as much time as she could with her. She turned, seeing River standing patiently below the platform, leaning against one of the hexagonal walls, smiling softly.
“Looks like it’s just me and you now, sweetie.”
“Yes, I suppose it is,” the Doctor said, walking slowly towards River. River waited, unmoving, for the Doctor to come to her. The Doctor halted at the edge of the platform, standing almost directly over River. River pushed herself up and took the few steps it took to reach the platform, looking up at the Doctor with a smirk.
“This is because you’re shorter than me now, isn’t it?” she teased. The Doctor shrugged innocently, though her eyes told a different story, one that aligned with River’s accusation.
River laughed, lifting her hands to rest on the Doctor’s hips. The Doctor cupped River’s face, smiling softly down at her.
“You’re so beautiful.”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
The Doctor didn’t hesitate, crashing her lips into Rivers’. The kiss was deep, and passionate, and went on for a while, and the Doctor almost laughed at one point, remembering how her 11th face had always been difficult when Amy and Rory kissed like this. She’d have to send something back in time as an apology for being so grouchy about it. Now she understood why they did it - it was bloody brilliant .
As the kiss went on, River pulled her down off the platform and spun her around, pushing her against the wall she had been leaning against, prior to the kiss The Doctor let out a breath with impact and broke the kiss to catch her breath, though their lips remained only millimetres apart.
“How did you do that?” the Doctor asked breathlessly, enjoying the proximity to her wife, and well, kissing her. “Kissing takes so much focus, how did you do two things at-”
She was cut off with another kiss. For once in her many lifetimes, the Doctor was more than happy to shut up. Her hands found their way into River’s hair, notably soft. She briefly wondered if River had had a shower while she was dropping off her other friends. She didn’t get a lot of time to think the thought, though, because in the next moment, River caught her bottom lip between her teeth, biting down gently.
The Doctor’s breath caught in her throat, a sigh slipping past her lips when she remembered to breathe again. Her fingers curled around River’s curls as River swiped her tongue along the lip just bitten, and she moaned softly, feeling River smile against her.
“Bedroom?” River whispered, drawing back like the Doctor had done before. The Doctor captured River’s lips in yet another kiss.
“Mmhmm,” she hummed, and together, she and River stumbled to her bedroom, never breaking the kiss.
Much later, the Doctor laid snuggled in River’s arms, absentmindedly playing with River’s hair.
“That was fun,” the Doctor murmured, still out of breath. River huffed a laugh, breath tickling the Doctor’s face, sending a shiver down her spine.
“Yes, it was. I’m down for another round, if you are.”
The Doctor shook her head, no. “That’s enough for me, thanks. Just wish I didn’t have to say goodbye to you.”
River lightly kissed her nose, giggling as the Doctor scrunched up her face. “It’s not the last time we’ll ever say goodbye, sweetie.”
“I know,” the Doctor sighed, propping herself up on one elbow. “I just really hate saying goodbye, and especially to you! Because it’s always ages before I see you again.”
River sighed, reaching up to tuck the Doctor’s hair behind her ear. “I know. Me too. But we both know nothing would get done if we stayed by each other’s side forever.”
“I know.” The Doctor pouted. “Still don’t like it.”
River giggled again, leaning up to give the Doctor a kiss on the lips. “You’re adorable when you’re pouty.”
The Doctor tried, but failed, to scowl at River. She could never not smile at being called ‘adorable’ by her wife. She flopped back onto her back.
“Guess we should get up, and let you get back to your heist, then,” the Doctor said.
“Yes, that would be wonderful,” River agreed, sitting upright. The Doctor followed her motion, although much quicker than River had, thinking of something.
“What exactly were you stealing, River?”
“Why do you ask?” River wondered, putting her clothes back on. The Doctor narrowed her eyes.
“Are you stealing something you know I wouldn’t approve of you stealing?”
“Sweetie, you don’t approve of me stealing anything,” River reminded her. The Doctor raised her eyebrows at River.
“River,” she warned. River rolled her eyes, pausing to drop a kiss to the top of the Doctor’s head.
“I promise, it’s nothing exceptionally bad. The person who owns it won’t even miss it.”
The Doctor nodded, satisfied.
“Okay.” She looked up and pointed her finger at River. “But if I have to bail you out, I am going to be disappointed in you, with a capital ‘d’.”
“So you would bail me out?” River teased. The Doctor rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop her smile. She got up and slid back into her clothes.
“Don’t push it, River.”
“Never, my love.” River flashed a cheeky grin at the Doctor. “Well, unless it’s…”
Her eyes wandered down to the bed. The Doctor threw back her head and laughed.
Dropping River off wasn’t easy. There was loads more kissing, as well as some tears, but eventually, River got out the door to continue her heist. The Doctor left as quickly as she arrived, knowing that if she spend too long there, she’d end up following River in, and getting both of them in trouble.
The Doctor set the coordinates to drift through deep space once again, and once she felt the TARDIS slow to drift, she sighed, leaning against the console, palms flat against it.
Now that she was alone, she finally had time to think, and to feel everything she’d been trying to avoid thinking about. That’s why she liked to keep moving, to keep busy. If she kept her mind and body active, she didn’t have to think about things, but when she was alone, and not running, she had no choice but to think .
She had to think. She had to think about the Paradox Universe, and the Chancellor, and what happened to her friends, and what she’d done, and the Dalek, and the child she’d failed to save, and how Yaz, Graham, and Ryan had left her, and how she’d had to say goodbye to everyone all over again, and about all of the past pain that never really left her. Thinking about it all made her hearts ache, and, all alone in the TARDIS, she finally allowed herself to grieve, once more.
She bowed her head and let the tears flow freely, sobs coming out in short hiccups, shaking her body. She fell to her knees, unable to keep herself upright, and then down onto her side, unable to even sit upright. She cried for a long time, she cried until her eyes were dried, and then she cried more, without tears.
She didn’t feel that much better after crying. In fact, she felt empty, like the tears had washed away stuff she’d used to fill holes in her hearts. She sighed, having no desire to get back up. Sure, there was a universe out there that still needed saving, but she just didn’t have the will to do so.
Around her, the TARDIS hummed gently, filling her mind with a warm, comforting feeling, like a hug. The Doctor sighed again, letting her hand fall limply by her side and stretch out across the ground.
“Thank you,” she murmured. She and the TARDIS stayed like that a little while, simply enjoying each other’s presence; the TARDIS comforting the Doctor, and the Doctor quietly thanking the TARDIS every once in a while, whether by thought, word, or a simple, soft patting of the ground.
Eventually, the Doctor spoke again.
“I don’t know what to do,” she murmured. “I’ve lost my newest friends, and I know I can’t go after them; they need time, and I just don’t know what to do.”
The Doctor turned her eyes upwards, to the console. “I’m alone, and Amy said I shouldn’t ever be alone. Please, help me.”
The TARDIS was silent a moment, before pulling herself from the ‘hug’ she’d been giving the Doctor. The Doctor squeezed her eyes shut, dreading that she’d said the wrong thing, but a second later, she heard a soft thunk beside her. She opened her eyes, and saw the TARDIS had deposited her painting before her - the one she’d done in the Paradox Universe.
“You are the building blocks of my heart, encoded in my DNA; you’re my light, my joy, my purpose, my life, until the end of time,” the Doctor recited softly, letting her hand run across the surface. She sighed to herself, and then spoke to the TARDIS. “It’s nice, but I don’t see how it’s meant to help. My friends aren’t here anymore. It’s just me.”
The TARDIS said nothing. The Doctor sighed, finally pushing herself up into a sitting position.
“Oh, great, thanks,” she mumbled. “Real helpful.”
Grumpily, the Doctor picked up the painting, intending to fling it across the room, when a piece of writing on the back caught her attention. There’d been no writing on the back of the canvas when she’d started the painting. She stopped, turning it over in her hands to read it.
Chanina Abramowitz - the Williams Ponds xoxo
The Doctor’s mouth formed the shape of an ‘o’ as her brain pieced together what the TARDIS was getting at. The Ponds must have made something or written something for her in the past, that they intended to get to her through Chanina. She smiled, feeling a renewed sense of purpose.
“Oh, brilliant Amy and Rory,” she said, standing up. She dropped the painting on the floor, and typed in some generic directions, trusting the TARDIS would get her there - after all, the TARDIS always took her where she needed to go, and right now, she needed to go to a Maccabeats concert.
She whooped as she pushed the lever, and the TARDIS flung herself into the vortex. The trip didn’t take too long, and she found herself nearly thrown off her feet as the TARDIS landed, Fortunately, she was able to catch herself before that happened. Recovering from the near-fall, she leaned in and checked the screen.
14th December, 2018
Below it was a set of Earth coordinates, and the Doctor grinned, lifting her gaze to the middle crystal. The TARDIS hummed, and swung her doors open. The Doctor gave the console a few affection pats.
“Thanks, Old Girl. I’ll be back in a little while.”
She didn’t need to say the last bit, but she wanted to. She’d just lost everyone she cared about all over again, and promising her beloved ship she’d never wander too far from her brought her comfort. The TARDIS bleeped an “I know, now go ”, and the Doctor did as she was told.
Stepping out of the doors, the Doctor found herself inside a community centre of some description. She frowned. That couldn’t be right. Concerts didn’t happen in community halls, right? But, before she could go back into the TARDIS and double check where she was, the TARDIS closed her doors.
“Alright, alright,” the Doctor muttered. “I’m going.”
She looked around. She appeared to be in some sort of storage area. She sighed. Of course the TARDIS had to land in the storage cupboard, and not outside like a normal ship . She’d have a word with the TARDIS later.
She picked her way through the stuff scattered throughout, and reached the door after some rigorous effort, and tumbled out of the cupboard. Fortunately, she didn’t fall into anyone. She looked left and right, and saw a bunch of people making their way into what appeared to be the main hall. She followed, curious to know where she was.
When she stepped inside, it became clear she was at a wedding. She found a seat, trusting the TARDIS had brought her to the right place. She didn’t start any conversations with anyone, still not quite in the mood to do her whole new-adventure-lots-of-questions thing she always did. She just waited, sitting much stiller than she usually would.
Right before the wedding started, the Doctor spotted a person up on the stage who looked kind of like Rory. She wanted to call out, but realised in time he didn’t look enough like Rory to be Rory. Then it clicked: he must be Chanina Abramowitz, great grandson to the Ponds. She smiled to herself, sending another quick thank you to her TARDIS. She was about to get up and go talk to him, when the wedding started, much to her annoyance. Still, she didn’t want to cause a scene, so she sat through the wedding quietly.
To keep herself occupied, she mostly thought about non-wedding things as people were talking, and listened to the Maccabeats when they performed their songs, enjoying the music. She’d have to download some of their music to her TARDIS music library. After the wedding, the Doctor stopped by the snack table, to have a couple of biscuits, to get her energy back up. She felt much better after that wedding, and she knew she only needed a bit of sugar in her blood, and perhaps a nap, before she went on another adventure.
She was in the middle of stuffing a whole muffin into her mouth when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She whirled around, her cheeks ballooned out like a chipmunk’s, coming face to face with Chanina. She chewed vigorously, wanting to swallow as soon as possible.
“I’m sorry, but are you the Doctor?” he asked. The Doctor nodded, finally able to swallow enough of her food to speak.
He blinked in surprise. “Yeah, how did you…?”
“Travelled with your great grandparents,” she explained. “They left me a message, saying I should come see you.”
“But... how ? I don’t…”
“Understand, yeah, I know. It’s complicated, timey wimey stuff. Don’t really have time to explain it to you. Do you have something for me?”
Chanina nodded, reaching into his pocket, and pulling out a blue envelope. The blue was similar to the blue of the TARDIS, but a couple of shades darker. She didn’t mind, though; TARDIS blue was incredibly difficult to find. She took it from him, grinning.
“Thanks...hang on,” she stopped, narrowing her eyes at him. “How did you know to be on the lookout for me? And how did you know what I looked like?”
“Uh, my great grandparents, they passed down a bunch of photos, saying you would look like one of the photos, and told my mum and dad to make me memorise the faces and stuff.”
The Doctor grinned. “Oh, they are brilliant. Thanks, Chanina. Oh, also, great music, fantastic job.”
“Thanks,” he muttered, before making a hasty retreat. The Doctor tilted her head. Perhaps she had been a bit weird. She did have a habit of being weird. Maybe she should work on changing that? Nah, weird was fun, she decided with a shake of her head. So were letters. Letters were awesome. She wondered what the Ponds had written in this one.
Shrugging off the interaction, the Doctor looked around for a place to sit down and read. Spotting a chair against the wall of the hall, she plonked herself down in it, tore the envelope open, and pulled the letter out. The letter was a single page, and the Doctor couldn’t help but be just the tiniest bit disappointed. She had hoped Amy and Rory would write something longer. The longer it was, the longer she could put off saying goodbye completely.
Plus, why would anyone go to all the effort of passing a letter down through generations, only to make it just one page long? Such typical Ponds, with their short goodbyes.
Rolling her eyes, the Doctor shoved the envelope into her pocket and carefully unfolded the letter. Then, she leaned forward, and began to read.