A/N: Spoilers for Angels Take Manhattan.

River sighed angrily while she watched the Doctor. She was sitting on the seat beside the console watching while he flew his ship into the vortex. Ever since he read the afterward Amy wrote for the Melody Malone novel, he had been determined to go back to when she was seven and see her one more time. River had tried to talk him out of it, reasoning it would only bring him more heartache but he refused to listen and now he was barely speaking to her. Still, River was extremely stubborn so she tried to get through to him again.

"It won't change things," River said as he walked around the console to his monitor. "You can't change the future by doing this."

"I know that, River," the Doctor growled under his breath. "I'm not trying to change the future. I just want to see her one more time."

"Doctor, you're only making it worse," River said. "You need to let go and move on."

"I CAN'T MOVE ON!" the Doctor roared at her.

He swallowed hard when he saw the stunned expression on his wife's face.

"Not till I see her one more time," he said softly.

"They're alive," River said. "Which is better than the alternative."

"Like throwing themselves off a building?"

"Yes, like that," River said. "They coulda died when they jumped off that roof but the angel that touched them was merciful."

"Merciful? You call that mercy?" the Doctor said, turning to her.

"They're together and alive, so yes, I call that merciful," River said, standing up. "Especially since the angels could have snapped their necks and left them dead at your feet. They have a life, albeit in the past but it's still a life."

"But it's not a life with me," the Doctor said, slumping against the rim of the console.

"But they're not the first to leave you," River said gently.

"I know that but…I told Amy that she was the first face I saw after I regenerated and she seared herself onto my hearts."

"So now you can't let go because of that," River said. "What about Rory? What about me? Because we weren't the first face you saw, we're expendable?"

"I didn't say that," the Doctor said angrily. "I care for each and every one of the people who traveled with me."

"But Amy is special because you saw her first," River said.

The Doctor let out an exasperated sigh and threw his hands up.

"Why am I even discussing this with you?" he said.

"Because I'm your wife and I want to know what you're thinking. Especially since I'm not entirely convinced that you won't go back and try to change the past and save her," River said.

"I won't. I won't!" he repeated when he saw her dubious look. "Just…let me do this, alright? I need to do this, even if you don't understand."

"Oh, I understand all too well, my love, which is why I'm coming with you," River said.

She moved when the Doctor slumped down into the seat and put his head in his hands. River's heart ached when she saw her beloved was shaking softly from the silent tears he was crying. She knelt down beside him and touched his right temple, running it down the side of his face.

"My love, I'm here," she said softly. "You don't have to do this alone."

The Doctor let his hands drop between his legs and stared down at the floor, his eyes wet from unshed tears while River stroked his cheek.

"I'm tired of this, River," he said in a quavering voice. "I'm tired of losing them."

"I know," River said in a hushed voice while she ran her hand down his arm.

"After all these years, you'd think I'd learn not to give my hearts to others because they always break in the end," he said wearily. "Over and over and over until I can't take it anymore."

He looked at River and she cupped his cheeks when she saw the anguish in his eyes.

"Why am I being punished like this?" he said in a mournful voice. "I do so much good and all I get is heartache and pain in return. Why?"

"Because that's the price you pay for fighting the forces of darkness," River said gently while she stroked his cheek.

"And the innocent must suffer because I made a decision to fight evil?" the Doctor said, looking at her with pain in his eyes.

"Those who travel with you are destined to help you fight evil but they aren't committed to it their entire lives," River said. "You made a lifelong vow to stop evil so naturally you outlast everyone who decides to come along."

The Doctor chuckled in spite of himself.

"Never pegged you for a philosopher, River," he said with a sad smile on his face.

"Being intertwined with your timeline and seeing all that I've seen has given me a philosophical view on life, sweetie. I don't believe that you pick people at random to be your companions; I believe the universe brings people into your life that are able to help you. But they can't stay forever, sooner or later they have to leave and that's why you have to be strong and let them go. Even I will leave you someday, even though I'm sure you don't want to hear that."

The Doctor swallowed hard and River knew deep inside that he had already witnessed the end of her sometime in the past. It wasn't a pleasant thought for her either but she wanted him to understand that she and everyone else were an ephemeral part of an ageless god's life. She leaned in and kissed his cheek and the Doctor took her right hand and kissed it gently, running his finger along the top of it while he thought about the broken wrist she had suffered.

"They're alive, Doctor, focus on that," River said while he stroked her hand. "They're lost to you but somewhere in the past they're still living and they'll always be alive in your memories. They together and they're happy and they love you and always will."

The Doctor nodded.

"I know. But I hate goodbyes."

"I know you do," River said. "But there are others who are waiting to travel with you. Others who will become dear to you just like the others. Even if you try to turn off your hearts to others, it won't last forever."

"No, I already tried that," the Doctor said, shaking his head. "It wasn't successful. Eventually, I got tired of being alone and then I found Amy."

"And you loved her and loved Rory and loved me and there are others who you'll love," River said. "Time has to move forward, my love. You must accept that."

"I know," the Doctor said in a hushed voice. "But…I just have to see her one more time, to say goodbye."

River nodded and kissed his cheek. She held his hand and knelt beside him until the TARDIS landed. Then she stood and walked with him out of it. The sun was going down and she and the Doctor stood at the corner of Amelia's house and gazed at seven year old Ameila, bundled up and sitting on her suitcase while she waited for the Doctor to return. River laid her head on his shoulder and held his hand while they watched her gazing up at the sky, waiting patiently for him to return.

"Her future is still ahead of her," River said softly. "She still has you to look forward to."

The Doctor nodded.

"Amy said I need to give her hope so she doesn't give up looking for me," he said softly.

River nodded.

"Perhaps that'll ease the pain if you give her occasional encouragement from her raggedy Doctor," River said. "Go to her and tell her you're coming back for her."

"Not yet, the pain is too fresh," the Doctor said softly. "I need to grieve for her before I can do that so I don't end up changing her future."

"Wise decision," River said.

She kissed his cheek and stood there with him for several minutes. Then the Doctor whispered for her to come with him and she squeezed her hand as they slipped away and left Amelia Pond alone in her garden.


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