Luck had not been on River’s side for most of her life, especially concerning the Doctor. She was always put in the most inconvenient situations, narrowly escaping death by some backup plan of a backup plan that somehow got her out alive. In regards to the Doctor, her luck usually faltered in not meeting him in the correct order. One of them seemed to always know much more about the other. Their varying degrees of knowledge fluctuate much before Darilium, but after… well, after that, she never met a face of his that did (or even could) know who she was.
It was painful. Each and every time, it was another twist of the knife through her hearts. She wanted to see him more and more, of course she did. She would never deny how selfish she was in that regard. She wanted her husband for as long as she could have him. River knew where she was going as the number of pages in her diary decreased, but that didn't mean she would shy away from helping.
Even though it hurt, she always helped. River couldn't let them go on dying too early. Too many times it was so close of a call, but she got used to it. Saving younger versions of the Doctor under a stupid alias she came up with on the spot.
When she met the Doctor in the Library, it should have been no different. Save his reckless self from dying under a silly pseudonym, give a wink and her famous smile, and go along her merry way just to rinse and repeat at a later date. This time, though, it seemed whatever tiny shred of luck she had was running out.
It wasn't until she was in the data core of the planet that she had figured that out for sure.
Seeing the Doctor here had been more painful than before. Maybe it was something about the far away look in his eyes, or maybe it was how close he was to knowing her and by extension her parents. She wasn't exactly sure what it was. River couldn't pinpoint it. The false hope she had upon first seeing him? She supposed it didn't matter anymore.
Losing members of the crew had been strangely overwhelming as well. In the short span of time they had together, she had grown quite attached to them all. They were good people with good intentions (well, most of them were). The loss of each of them hit her differently. She had lost people on adventures all the time, and she barely found it in her to care, but this time…
Donna Noble’s presence had also left her in a strangely distraught mood. When she met one of the Doctor’s previous faces, they were almost always alone. The significance of Donna didn't pass her by. She knew all about her of course. Too many late nights on Darillium to not slip into discussion of her husband’s former companions.
As she was running through the dim corridors of the Library, her mind drifted back to him even when she didnt want it to. Especially when she didnt want it to. So many good years together, yet nowhere near enough. But she knew everything had to come to its end- even they did. Of course they did. Even having that knowledge didn't make it hurt less in the end.
River found herself drifting towards the Doctor throughout the hours that ticked by. She even reached to grab his hand once or twice on instinct, but she caught herself each time. Silently scolding herself all the while confused as to why she was doing so. She had always restrained herself on previous occasions. It wasn't clear to her what was so different about him this time around.
The usual hautness she felt when she revealed that she had something that he didn't know about escaped her that day. Emotions were too complicated for her to want to deal with on a good day.
There was a defined moment when she realized what she had to do.
River Song knew she was going to die.
Not just in the moments before it either, but hours before. She knew she wasn't going to leave this planet alive. It's not an easy thing to come to terms with if you were wondering. She would die alone. No friends, no family, no husband by her side (not either of the ones she needed). She didn't know if she preferred it that way. In those last few hours she realised just how much she didn't know. There was a lot that she did know as well, but most of that seemed useless to her now.
In one of the lulls of running from place to place, she opened up the well worn diary. The pages were yellowed now, all crinkles and worn down from just how many times they had been read and reread. The tear stained pages flooded a familiar warmth through her fingertips that later extended to the rest of her body. She offered the book a melancholy smile. It had been her only constant companion throughout the years. Pulling out the pen she always kept on her, she put it to one of the last pages in the book.
The sound of the nib scratching against the paper filled her ears until nothing was left to fill her senses but that. She may as well have her last message sound good if she couldn't have any other comforts in her last hours.
Hello again, Old Friend,
If you’re reading this, I am long gone. My whole life has led me to this moment. I have always been coming here, even when I didn't know it for myself.
The Doctor knew, since day one, that he would lose me this way. He’s always had the one up on me, it seems. It's sort of ironic when I think about it. Years of me having so much more knowledge than he could ever know I had, yet he knew. He knew I would die, and he knew how.
That makes things make a bit more sense now. I have suspected this was what he hadn’t told me, but I selfishly hoped otherwise. Nobody wants to die in the end. But I know I must, and I know I can't run from it any longer.
If you’re reading this, and you believe it's too outlandish to have happened, I envy you. My life has been everything but normal. I understand why I would think that.
And, if by some miracle, you are the Doctor, I need you to know just how much I love you. The years that have passed between us were the best of my life. And, I forgive you, my love.
When you run with the Doctor, it feel like it'll never end. But however hard you try, you can't run forever.
The minutes ticked by faster and faster. When she had finally reached the data core with him by her side, she knew. She knew what needed to be done would kill whoever did it. River knew he couldn't regenerate then. It wasn't how time was laid out, and it would change her entire existence. It was too likely that she wouldn't even exist if he died that day.
So she knocked him out, cuffing him to a pole so he couldn't reach her. River’s fingers shook as she carefully laid her diary and screwdriver down a few feet in front of him. She pressed one final lingering kiss to his cool cheek, letting out a soft puff of air as she pulled away.
“Goodbye, sweetie.” her voice had been barely above a whisper.
Hooking herself up to the machine was the easy part. She had always been good with wiring, but even a child could have done this. Watching the timer with a rising anxiety fisting in her chest, she settled in.
She told him what he needed to hear. She gave her goodbye with tears in her eyes. This was cruel, even by the universe’s standards. Having to say goodbye to someone that hadn't even met her yet.
As she pressed the two cords together, it made her go numb at first. After that, it was almost as if she was regenerating. She could feel every cell in her body begin to burn and melt away, but instead of reforming anew, they remained dead. It was like a wildfire was spreading over her body, and then it was nothing. She was nothing.
She came back to her body in minutes- or maybe it was seconds, or possibly even hours. She couldn't pinpoint it. He had managed to save her, the old sop. He couldn't help but give her a happy ending. It was more than she could have hoped for. She let out a soft breath of air as she looked around.
Everybody knows that everybody dies and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever for one moment accepts it. Everybody knows that everybody dies. But not every day. Not today. Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all. 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.
River Song had been saved, and not even death could wrap his icy fingers around her now. Her story was left behind to be read by anyone fortunate enough to stumble upon the well loved leather bound blue book.
“I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying.” -Ada Limon