Holding On

Rule 1 The Doctor Lies

Rule 1: the Doctor lies.

He might have told them that he was dead but, just as the teenager had suspected, the Doctor sitting in the Pandorica wasn't; quite.

They four of them had sprinted the length of the room to the box and the three younger time travellers stood back, watching as River spoke urgently to the Doctor. Evie's legs felt like jelly as she glanced up and saw that the sky was blazing above them. Time was running out.

"Doctor? Can you hear me? What were you doing?" River whispered. He didn't answer and, hearing the sound that was making her daughter feel ill, the woman came out of the Pandorica to investigate.

"What's happening?" Rory asked, gazing upwards.

"Reality's collapsing." River explained, breathing heavily. "It's speeding up… Look at this room." They did as she said and realised that all the displays were empty. Everything in them had vanished.

"Where'd everything go?" Amy asked.

"History's being erased… time's running out." The older woman admitted. "Doctor… what were you doing, tell us. Doctor?"

Three words escaped from the Doctor's lips. His strength was gradually returning to him, but not quickly enough. As he said the words, Evie copied them; at exactly the same time.

"Big Bang Two." Amy and Rory looked at her, but she ignored them, staring at her mother who was on the same wavelength. The Doctor had already told them what he was going to do. He was going to reboot the universe.

"Oh!" The woman said, leaning out of the Pandorica with a look of hope on her face. "The TARDIS is still burning. It's exploding at every point in history. If you threw the Pandorica into the explosion, right into the heart of the fire…"

"Then what?" Amy demanded.

"Then let there be light. The light from the Pandorica would explode everywhere at once." The plan was coming into her mind as River spoke, realisation plain on her face. "Just like he said."

"And that would work? That would bring everything back?"

"A restoration field powered by an exploding TARDIS, happening at every moment in history… oh, that's brilliant. It might even work!" She took the sonic screwdriver and scanned the Doctor's arm. "He's wired the Vortex Manipulator to the rest of the box."

"Why?" Amy asked simply. Evie suddenly realised what that meant; what the consequences would be. The colour drained from her face instantly. She seemed to be one step ahead of her mother, however because one look at her face told Evie that River hadn't got as far as thinking about the consequences yet.

"So he can take it with him." And then Evie saw the penny drop. River had just realised what was going to happen. She had gone very pale and was staring at the Doctor as though looking at his ghost. "He's going to fly the Pandorica into the heart of the explosion."

Slowly she turned her head to look at Evie, tears in her eyes. The teenager was making no attempt to stop her own tears falling down her cheeks. But she kept her face emotionless apart from them and nodded sharply, indicating to her mother that she understood what she was saying.

Taking the nod as confirmation, River turned back to the Doctor finishing the job that he had started. All the while she worked, tears fell from her eyes; tears for the Doctor and tears for her daughter. If, no when, the Doctor did this he would be erased from history. Most of River's life would never have happened. She would have never met the Doctor at all. Everything would have been so different. And all that meant that Evie would never have been born. While the Doctor was saving the universe she, River Song, was going to lose her daughter.

"River…" The Doctor said softly, struggling to raise his fingers to her cheek, stroking it gently. She closed her eyes at his touch, memories surging through her mind. The woman decided she may as well make the most of them if they were going to be taken away from her. "Don't cry for me."

Her eyes snapped open. Even at the end he was so bloody full of himself. "I'm not." She snarled, standing up and stepping backwards. Maybe if she told him who Evie was… did the rules he'd set out about spoilers really matter at the end of the universe?

He laughed weakly as though he didn't believe her, breaking through her thoughts. "Can you send Amy over?"

"Just Amy?" The woman asked meaningfully. The Doctor nodded. Glaring at him she turned. It wasn't the red-head's fault that the Doctor had just caused her heart to shatter, so River composed herself before speaking to her.

"Amy, he wants to talk to you." River said, fiddling with her Alpha Meson gun in its holster and walking over to the girl.

"So what happens here? Big Bang two… what happens to us?" Amy asked. She and Rory broke apart as River stood in front of them. Evie, who'd been standing on her own a little way off staring at the fire outside the window, moved close to her mother.

"We all wake up where we ought to be. None of this ever happens and we don't remember it." The woman told her quickly. Evie slipped her hand into her mother's and River held on tightly, not caring if Amy or Rory or the Doctor saw. Who cared about spoilers now?

"River…" Amy murmured. "Tell me he comes back too."

The older woman blinked, holding her emotions together. "The Doctor will be the heart of the explosion."

"So?"

There was a pause as River took a deep breath. "So all the cracks in time will close… but he'll be on the wrong side, trapped in the netherspace; the void between the worlds. All memory of him will be purged from the universe. He will never have been born." Unable to stand it anymore, Evie threw her arms around her mother's waist, burying her head in her shoulder. River's voice cracked as she spoke again. "Now please, he wants to talk to you before he goes."

"Not to you?"

"He doesn't really know me yet." She said, her voice barely more than a whisper. Evie sobbed into her shoulder and River wrapped her arms around her daughter protectively, resting her cheek on the teenager's head. "Now he never will."

Amy walked past them slowly, heading for the Pandorica. From somewhere River managed to find an extra little bit of strength. She prised Evie's hands from round her waist and looked into her eyes.

"Come on, Sweetie." She murmured quietly. "If this is the end then we're going to go out fighting, alright. Be brave, my Evie Song."

Taking a deep breath, Evie rubbed at her tear-stained cheeks and nodded. River had never called her Evie Song before and it sent a wave of determination flooding through the teenager's veins. "If I'm going to… not exist anymore… then I just wanted to tell you that you were the best mother ever. And I'm sorry."

"Hey!" River said smiling. She wondered what in particular the teenager was apologising for; not that it mattered. She had far more to apologise to Evie for over the past nineteen years. "There's no need to get all soppy on me, not just because the universe is ending!"

"Can I just ask… what…?" Rory gave them a blank look, pointing between them. He hadn't heard the words, but he'd caught the meaning. They both smirked at his confusion.

"We've been through a lot together, me and River. I've got so much to thank her for." Evie told him distantly as River walked away, scanning in the direction of the burning sky. "But if it hadn't been for the Doctor…"

"You wouldn't have met?" He guessed, finishing her sentence.

"Sort of." The teenager agreed, nodding. She glanced up at the window. The ball of fire seemed to be right up against it now. Evie shuddered.

"Doctor!" River cried as the room began to shake with the intensity of what was going on around it; the universe ending. "It's speeding up!"

They watched as the Pandorica closed, shaking and rattling. River pulled her daughter across the room, tackling Amy to the ground so she wouldn't be hurt as the box hurtled into the sky, taking the Doctor with it.

"Hold on." Evie told herself, gripping River's hand tightly as she faced the end. "Just hold on."

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