Chapter 14

It was the day after their trip to the Ponds'. Rain and Jet stood near the console, while River and the Doctor argued about how to fly the TARDIS. Nothing new there. However, River won, as always.

"So where exactly are we going, again?" asked Rain.

"Well, if the Doctor hasn't flown us too far off course, we were planning on going to that planet that is completely covered in mountains. The views are amazing," River answered with a slight shake of her head.

The Doctor pouted. "I didn't fly us off course. After a thousand years, I think I know how to fly my own TARDIS."

All of a sudden, the TARDIS jerked sharply as the engines began to fail. The Doctor ran over to the monitor, only to find that its vision was blurred over in lines of black and white. He slapped the side of it, just in case that happened to work for a change. As always, though, it didn't.

"Someone want to explain what's happening?" yelled Jet.

The Doctor grabbed onto the railing, yelling over the blaring warning sirens. "Nobody panic, but I think we might be crashing. Just grab onto the railing, and you should be fine."

They all did as he said, bracing for impact. In a matter of seconds, there was a huge jolt that threw them over the railing. After this, though, the TARDIS was still. They had landed. The Doctor shooed everyone out so the TARDIS could repair herself.

"This is why you should have let me drive!" yelled the Doctor.

"Oh, please. The only reason we crashed is because you flew us off course."

The blame game continued back and forth for several minutes before either of them realized that this was definitely not the mountain planet.

They were surrounded by tall trees that looked vaguely similar to pine trees on earth. These shot up from the ground for as far as they could see, and there were no other living creatures around. This wouldn't seem very unusual, except for the fact that a three-foot-thick sheet of fog covered the entire forest floor, creating an ominous atmosphere. Not only that, but the trees were so close together that hardly any light was able to pass through.

Rain spoke up first. "Where exactly are we?"

All heads turned to the Doctor. "Um . . . I, I'm not entirely sure. But in a place like this there have to be some intelligent life forms. We can find them easier if we split up. River and I will go that way," he said, pointing behind them, "and you two can go that way." At this, he pointed straight ahead.

Rain nodded and began to start walking, but Jet stopped. "Wait, Doctor, how will we contact you if we do find life?"

The Doctor smiled. "Nice catch. Here, take this." He handed him something that looked like a walkie-talkie. "If you find anyone, just give me a call. Good luck." With that, each couple headed off in their respective directions.

For several minutes the Doctor and River walked in silence. Then the Doctor stopped. "Are you still mad at me for the whole 'crashing the TARDIS' thing?"

River shook her head. "No, I'm just thinking."

The Doctor let out a relieved sigh. "Oh. Thinking about what?"

She looked away, not meeting his eyes. "Nothing . . . or everything, whichever you prefer."

This wasn't good. He could always tell how upset she was by the vagueness of her replies, so something was definitely wrong. "I know that's not true." His tone was soft. He reached out to move her chin so that he could see her eyes.

Now he could see why she had turned away: her eyes were wet with tears that hadn't fallen. She didn't answer him. She simply threw her arms around his neck. He didn't push the subject. River always told him what was on her mind eventually. She would answer when she felt the time was right.

He wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his head on her shoulder. Then she pulled back and kissed him. This was the first time she'd kissed him like this since she'd discovered she was pregnant. For the Doctor, it was a welcome surprise that he willingly accepted.

But River pulled away. She looked at him with an expression of pain. "This is what's wrong."

The Doctor was taken aback. His features showed fear, as though he was afraid that a day would come when River Song could no longer put up with him. "What?"

She read his features and quickly responded. "No, no. Sweetie, how could you ever think I meant that? No, I mean we can't do this anymore. I can't be pregnant again. All that will do is risk our lives and the lives of everyone around us."

The Doctor was relieved, as this was much better than what he had expected. "Oh. Whew. Actually, I'd already thought about this. When you think about it, it really doesn't matter that much as long as you're still here."

She obviously wasn't expecting this answer. "I am still here. And I don't plan on leaving as long as you can still deal with me."

He pulled her into a hug, laughing as he did so. "I'll try."

Suddenly, a light turned on in the distance. "River, look at that."

She turned around. "What? I don't see anything."

The Doctor looked at her like she was insane. "How do you not see it? It's clear as day! Not only that, it looks fairly close. Come on, let's have a look."

River, who still had no idea what he was talking about, shrugged and followed him for about half a mile. They found themselves standing in front of an old log cabin. "Aha! See, I told you there was life here! And someone must be home, because the light is on."

Now it was River's turn to look at him like he was insane. "Sweetie, this house looks like no one's lived in it in years. The windows are all pitch black."

He looked over at her. She didn't look like she was lying. Maybe she legitimately couldn't see the light. "Well, I'm not quite sure why you can't see it, but I'm going to go have a look." He walked up to the door and knocked. After waiting for an answer that never came, he let himself in, as the door was unlocked.

River listened closely. Because the house was so old, the floor creaked with every step he took. Then suddenly the creaking stopped. She waited for several minutes, but the creaking never started up again, so she called inside. "Doctor, have you found anything?"

No answer. She called again. "Doctor?" Once again, there was silence.

River didn't panic. After all, he had probably just found a basement or something. Then she jumped back, startled by the light that suddenly shone from one of the black windows. Now she could see what the Doctor meant.

After waiting a little longer for him to come out, she just decided to come in after him. She opened the door, walking slowly. After inspecting the entire floor, she came to the conclusion that not only was the Doctor gone, but there was no basement.

The only light in the house came from the one room she had seen from the outside. Trying to walk as silently as possible, she made her way there.

Once she was inside the room, River could see that the light came from a TV. Its screen, however, showed the same fuzzy black and white lines that had been on the TARDIS monitor earlier. The beam of light that shone from it looked almost tangible in the darkness.

River reached her hand into the beam, wondering if it was in fact tangible. As she did so, her hand began to tingle. Startled, she pulled it out. She needed to inspect the TV itself. This, however, meant stepping fully into the beam.

She counted to three in her head, then stepped in quickly. A light flashed, and the room went dark. River, however, was no longer there.

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