"No attorneys to plead my case. No opiates to send me into outta space. And my fingers are bejeweled with diamonds and gold. But that ain't gonna help me now. I'm trouble. Yeah, trouble now, I'm trouble, ya'll disturb, my town I'm trouble. ~
"Trouble is a friend. But trouble is a foe. Oh, oh. And no matter what I feed him. He always seems to grow. Oh, oh…You're fine for a while. But you start to lose control. He's there in the dark .He's there in my heart. He waits in the wings. He's gotta play a part. Trouble is a friend. Yeah. Trouble is a friend of mine." Lenka (Trouble Is a Friend)
Disclaimer: I did not own Doctor Who or characters - BBC
Note: This takes place right after Day Of The Doctor and before Time Of The Doctor – Spoilers through the end of Time Of the Doctor.
*Based on a cut line from Name of The Doctor written by Steven Moffat
The 51st Century
"I can't go any further. This is where I end," River's voice dripped with great strength and sorrow.
They had been running together, towards the white light, away from the desktop burning around them. The Doctor hadn't even noticed he had taken her hand out of habit. In fact, it wasn't until The Doctor felt his arm jerk and River let go, that it had even dawned on him that he had taken her hand at all. The Doctor's eyes said it all – he knew what this meant - that this was good-bye.
"Doctor!" yelled Clara as she turned back to see just how far ahead of The Doctor she was - he had trailed four steps behind her. "We don't have much time."
"She's right," River spoke with a hard resolve. "You have to go." The Doctor didn't move and River turned her head to see the ground behind her burning away. "Now!"
CAL was burning and their time was growing short.
"River!?" he demanded. "That room -" he said firmly, as If the idea had been inside of him their entire time in the computer, inside the database, and was just now bubbling to the surface. He was about to confront her when the madness started and they were forced to flee.
"Just go Doctor. There's no time," River urged him.
Clara agreed, "Doctor, the light... it's getting smaller…." referring to their only escape plan - a circle of white light that reached outside the computer - to real life.
Clara put her hand out and grabbed hold of him, but The Doctor balked, almost getting angry, but not at Clara, at River. He shook Clara's hand from his forearm and stepped closer to River. The wind from the light scooped around The Doctor and Clara, as he shouted to his wife to be heard.
"River, in your house, there was a room, an extra child's room. Clara found it."
River went on like a broken record. "You have to go now. The entire library is burning; do you want to be next?"
"Everything in that house is by design from your head, River."
"For once in your life let something be!"
"- All created from your subconscious – the program is only a base to work from, every house had some small anomalies, which means youcreated that room, River -"
"Are you mad? Go! run! You're running out of time."
"I am not leaving until you tell me!" His face contorted the way it did when he was rabid with distress.
"Doctor!" Clara cried out over the growing noise of the blaze around them, which was now seething behind River's back like a volcano. "It's closing."
"Clara, go!" The Doctor shouted, yet with just a glance of his eye toward Clara, as his focus was laser sharp on his wife. "Tell me, River! I won't leave until you tell me!"
"Do you understand that if you stay you will die – the system will burn with you in it – your flesh, Clara's flesh WILL burn. "
"Yes, River, it will, and you can't let that happen, can you? Because you know that doesn't happen, don't you? To me. To Clara. I see it in your eyes. You've researched me way beyond your own time stream. And don't say Spoilers - you know - you know that if I stay here and die, if Clara and I let CAL burn us with you, all of our futures never happen. Paradox's up the... wazu. New word there. Nice to use it. I like it. Glides well off the tongue. Glad I found a way to use it in conversation. I have over 1200 odd years of unused words, maybe I start using them all NOW!"
"Stop it. Go, you damn fool! Be sensible!"
"So, that means you must tell me, River. Tell me or I cause a paradox the size of a quadruple billion universes! Do you want to be responsible for that? Again."
"You wouldn't dare!?'
The hole and the light behind the Doctor and Clara was getting smaller – their literal door was now barely becoming a window.
"Doctor!" Clara bellowed, as the smoke and fire of CAL burned inched closer to them, she could feel the heat.
"Try me!" The Doctor, answered River, his eyes were cold and serious and he could feel himself being pulled backwards by Clara. "Tell me, River!" He put his hand out. "Am I right? Tell me! Am I right!?" he demanded.
"Yes!" River finally shouted out of desperation and The Doctor felt himself being pulled through the "escape hatch" and back into the library floor.
"RIVER!" The Doctor's hand was out stretched to her, but River was no longer there. Again, she was gone. His eyes were moist, but he did not let the tears fall, he was good at that.
"Come on!" Clara pulled The Doctor literally out of his stupor.
The Doctor looked around and knew he had to act. They ran to the Tardis and the doors shut behind them
"Hold on," he shouted and within a moment they were taken from the airspace of the Library to watching it like a spec from above, out the Tardis door, as the entire planet exploded. Clara could see the hurt on The Doctor's face as if he had lost his wife a second time.
"Oi!" Clara shouted after what seemed like a lifetime of calling his name. A half hour had passed and Clara stood deep inside the control room watching The Doctor who had yet to move from his spot staring out the open Tardis door.
"Yes, sorry…" The Doctor turned from the Tardis door and it closed behind him. Without another word he made a quick pace to the console and busied himself with the Tardis controls.
Clara looked at The Doctor oddly, for his response was not the answer or action she had been expecting. "I called you about five times, over there."
"I'll have you home in two shakes of… well… I can't think of what at the moment, but take your pick." He flipped a large switch.
"What was all that back there?"
"A planet – it exploded – it happens."
"No, between you and Professor Song?" She knew not to call River his wife, or by her first name around The Doctor, it was too painful, so she played into his conceit. "About the room? I don't like my life played with to get info from your dead… " She stopped herself. "From a data ghost - about some… computer generated room."
"It was important, " he stated to Clara and she waited for a more detailed answer. "And private."
"Well, I think if it was worth my life I deserve to know about it," she said, but in an uneasy way, like she wasn't sure her boldness was the right course of action in such a delicate moment, but by hell she would try. Clara folded her arms like it was a period on her sentence.
"The room…" he said, as if answering his own question, knowing she was right, that she deserved an answer, or maybe he wanted someone to talk to. The Doctor began to fiddle with the controls of the Tardis. "Yes, well, I guess you deserve an… explanation don't you? Seemed foolish didn't it? Didn't at the time; does now. Most of my decisions seem that way. " He was silent for a moment. "The room, well… Yes, the room. You see, everyone in that library, all the ghosts and the real people we just saved… again…they all had the same program, you saw - two kids, the perfect house – the human ideal."
"Yeah, I saw. I got that bit."
"Everything they wanted in real life, but never had. Yes, the basic framework all looked the same. But still each unique to the person – the subconscious bleeding in. River's house -"
"The pictures of you and her family…"
"Yes, even her diary. It was all there – transplants from her real life. Even her job at The University. The computer upgrading itself."
"I still don't get it. What does this have to do about the room I found?"
"That room means, counting the library, counting the real world – at the time of her death – that room you found in River's house – it means..." It was like he didn't want to say the words out loud.
"A child's room, yeah? It could just be another part of the program."
"An empty child's room." He looked at Clara. "And not part of the program, no." He focused back on the console controls.
"You're saying – sorry - are you saying that room -"
He looked up and then at Clara. "Out there somewhere River Song… has a child. A real one."
"Yours?" She leaned in with her head when she asked.
"I don't know." He looked away from her, he wouldn't take her gaze. He scratched his fingers under his left eye like it was a tick.
"But a good chance, yeah?" She took a step closer to him and her eyes widen with inquisitive glee.
There was an awkward pause while the Doctor got uncomfortable and mashed on his lower lip and held in his chin. He glared at Clara. "Yes. Good chance. Yes." He looked away and turned a knob on the Tardis console.
"Where is this child?"
"I don't know."
"When?" she asked, as if the first time she had asked the wrong question.
"I don't know." He kept his attention on a screen and a few console buttons.
"What are you doing?"
"Scanning the universe for my DNA."
"Great, then we'll have an answer. Soon, right?"
"It is the universe, Clara. The entire universe - it is going to take some time!"
"Sorry." She could see he was uneasy.
"The scan? Just a few hundred years, a few billion maybe," he said harshly, knowing he didn't want to wait that long.
"So, long then?" she asked as a joke, but The Doctor didn't laugh. "Her diary! You said she wrote down everything you ever did or done together. Read that."
"I can't," he said in a dower tone.
"But you said it yourself; you've both synced up your diaries, no more spoilers, right? That's the word she used, spoilers…. yeah, that's it - no danger. Read the book, find the child. Problem solved."
"I burned it."
"Why would you - I mean…" Clara didn't understand and felt incredibly sad, as her mother's ring and leaf meant so much to her, as mementos, from those in her past she had lost.
"I can't look in that book. I can never look in that book. Clara, River was an archaeologist. She didn't just write down our adventures together, she wrote down all of MY future adventures – everything she could find. Everything I haven't done or even thought to do yet. Her past, my future. It was too dangerous, to me, to my enemies to have that book around. It would put in danger anyone I ever cared about or will care about. And once I read it; it's fixed, I can't change it. You wanted to know why when you do conference calls - why Madame Vastra invites River's data ghost and not the real River from some other point in time. Why? Why not call on the biggest encyclopedia on me in the universe when you're trying to help The Doctor."
"And now that's burned too," she got serious.
"Yes." He took a breath. "So, you see my dilemma." He leaned against one of the guard rails and looked down.
"Well, maybe the child… isn't yours… I mean, think about it. She never told you about it before this, maybe she was trying to keep it a secret from you. A love child." She got all giddy. "Seems rather exciting, don't you think?" She was trying to cheer him up, she smiled and her eyes beamed.
"Noo, noo. Noo. That just confirms it. The fact that she didn't tell me – that's clue number one. " He looked at her. "A Time Lord child, let alone the child of two Time Lords – that would be the most precious find in the whole universe – any child like that wouldn't be safe. Especially mine. River of all people knew that: secrets are the greatest protection of all."
"Wait? River was a Time Lord? I thought both her parents were human?"
"Long story. Let's just say the Tardis gave her Time Lord DNA. Human plus..."
The Doctor got an odd look on his face and whispered, "Before."
"Before?" Clara took a breath and then her eyes widen. "OHH!" She got it.
"Any child like that wouldn't be safe, and believe you me I've seen it. River's seen it. That's why…that's why the room was empty. Because this child was never in her life. The room isn't an actual room. It represents -"
"-The empty room in her heart…" This really seemed to affect Clara.
"Well, I wasn't looking to frame it so poetically, but... yes."
There was a moment where Clara caught his eyes; they had a deep sadness to them.
"But, no matter." He slapped his hands together. "My child or not, child of the Tardis - of earth – it doesn't matter one bit. If there is a child of River's out there – Amy and Rory's grandchild, that child is in trouble – which means we will find that child and we will protect it. The way…. " He lowered his head and went back the Tardis console. "The way I never got to do with her - to Melody. My broken promise." He said River's real name softly, but Clara heard.
"Wait? Who's Melody?"
"Even longer story, complicated - remind me one day not to tell it to you." He hit a lever and they seem to fly off. "But, let's just say I'm getting a very bad case of deja-vu."
"You're a time-traveler, isn't that basically what you've in a constant state of?"
"You've been paying attention." He was impressed.
"I learn from the best." She smirked. "So where do we look first – for this trouble," she said in her most cheeky tone.
"Looking for trouble? Seems like our cup of tea. But one stop first."
"Where are we going?"
"First. I'm taking you home."
"Hold on, no, I'm going with you," she stated firmly. "I'm helping out – you won't shake me on this one."
"One day, Clara, yes, but not today." He looked at her and smiled "Soon, I promise. I promise." He leaned in, kissed Clara on the forehead and then swooped back to the Tardis controls.
"Well, once I do start helping, where do we start? Hunting for clues?"
"I have no idea."
"Really?" She smiled at him with a great deal of sass.
"Yes, but there lies the fun."
"I know that face. I'm not going home, am I?" She raised her eyebrows at him.
"You're not going home," he said. They smiled at each other for a moment and connected in a way The Doctor hadn't connected with anyone in a while. The main reason he had waited over a 100 years after his last Pond had left him to once again travel with a human. "You win." The Doctor hit a different switch on the console.
"Wait!" Clara stopped and put her finger up.
"Excuse me? Wait?" The Doctor almost spun back in her direction; he wasn't happy.
"River's diary - that was that blue thing, looks like the Tardis - kinda raggedy?
"Yesss…." He was wondering where she was going with this.
"I've seen it before..."
"Yes, back in the computer program."
"No, I mean in real life."
"Real life? How? Where?"
Clara seemed to come up with it in the moment and her eyes narrowed. "In the Black archive. At Unit."
"Unit? No, no on, why would, no - they couldn't - I mean I burned it. I saw it burn, with my own two eyes. " The Doctor paced away from Clara. "There's no way. Not possible."
"And I remember something else…" She racked her brain. "They were under a pair of red high heels. I don't understand how a pair of high heels could be considered a dangerous weapon?"
The Doctor turned to Clara, gestured with his hands, and muttered, "You have no idea." He walked toward the console and seemed to change their destination again.
"Are we going to read the book?" Clara seemed excited about what appeared to be a change in plans.
"No. Still can't do that."
"I could read it for you, why not?" she stated with exhilaration and curiosity.
"Because it could have your future in it too." He pushed down a lever. "But that also means Unit shouldn't be reading it either."
"Then where are we going? We can't go to the Black Archive, its Tardis proof."
"Yes, maybe so, but haven't you learned anything by now…" He lifted another lever and they started to move faster through the time vortex. "Nothing is Doctor proof."
Clara smiled. There was a pause while they both looked up at the center of the console slowing moving up and down.
"There's another reason you want that book, isn't it?" Clara questioned.
"I told you Clara, I can't read River's Diary - Spoilers, against the rules. It could rip a hole in the fabric of time. Plus... once we read it, there's no changing it. The good. The bad. It becomes fixed."
"You said River studied your future. Do you think… do you think Professor Song found it?
"Found what?" He pretended not to know.
The Doctor took a deep breath and waited a moment before speaking. "Perhaps." He paused. "If anyone could find it other than me, it would be River."
"But you can't read the diary and I can't read the diary, so where are we going?"
"Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. You are in serious trouble." The Doctor said in the direction of a monitor.