1. this almost fatal radiance by Trialia
Melody Pond's gaze scares him, somehow, in a way River Song's never has — well, only once, and never since that first time he met her, when she knew all about him and obviously loved what she knew and confused him so, so much.
But Melody... She's River, but she's not River yet. If he has anything to say about it she will be – but how can she become his River from this...person?
He doesn't really know Melody, despite having met her — albeit so very briefly and not really at all, when you think about it — as a baby, but she calls herself a psychopath, and that worries him: that she can say that so casually, and appear to believe it. It more than worries him that she behaves to match: it kills him.
He doesn't know how to save her, not really, and that is the one thing he never expected not to know, and the worst thing, because it matters, right there and then: figuring out how to save her may be all he can do to save himself.
He's not sure he deserves to be saved, but he surely doesn't deserve to die, does he? But he wonders about that, too, because what they did to her was his fault for not saving her in time, and maybe he does deserve to die, but not here, not yet, there's just too much to do!
It hits him, and he struggles against the growing paralysis of his dying body (regeneration blocked, and how did she do that, or even know how to do that?) to set in motion the chain of events that might, just might, fix this. A little bit. Fix her more than a little bit. He can't bear to see her like that. He can see his River in the way she moves, sometimes, but the way she talks and behaves is a River he doesn't know — a Melody.
He gasps through the whole twenty minutes it takes him to go elsewhere, return, reclaim, return, keep dying in front of the woman he will love who doesn't love him and keep trying to save the Ponds — all three of them, damn it. Getting Amy and Rory safe doesn't mean River is, not yet.
He whispers something to Melody that may help him, may help her, may work if what he did had any effect on this timeline. He can only hope it will work, and if they're his last words, at least he knows he broke rule one in telling her (he's not lying, this time).
He can't whisper any more than that, can't give her any more knowledge than what he's given her — his face has now gone numb, and his body is quickly following. But what he's given her is everything he can, everything he has left.
He almost doesn't care if he dies, so long as he can save her, save and redeem Melody for Rory and Amy and herself, even if she's never his River, if this works it won't matter that he dies here and...
He loses the words in his head next — then he starts to lose what's left of whatever hasn't gone yet.
He can't feel anything in his body through the cold numbness of the Judas tree's encroaching paralysis; he can't see a thing through the black... His frozen lungs can no longer gasp for air, but his hearing is the last thing to go, darkness coming down around his ears like a velvet shroud.
. . .
. . .
It's the first thing to come back, her whispering and the golden hue of her mind against his, the warmth, she's doing... what is she doing?... he whispers River's name in disbelief, knowing what she's doing, as his face regains feeling, his mind a vague grasp on the world... and her lips bring the life back to his, as he swallows the air she's breathing into his mouth and feels gold everywhere.
The numbness becomes pain but oh, the good kind (if there's ever a good kind of pain), and suddenly he knows her again, he knows who the woman kneeling over him is, and it's really River there above him, and the look in her eyes says that what he did to fix things worked, but what she's done, he never expected this, but somehow... and now he knows, he knows that she'd never have survived the Library anyway because of this... and he can't tell her that—
Her body goes limp against him, her eyes falling shut.
She's lighter than he'd expected, even as a dead weight, though he doesn't like thinking that phrase. He can feel her breathing, so he doesn't worry about her being dead – and after what she's done, it's no wonder she's passed out; he wasn't sure that could happen, but she has — his mouth won't form words the way he wants yet, so he uses the feeling he's regained to wrap his arms around her waist, tip his head over to press against hers, and hope she knows, in her unconscious state, that he's grateful she's there. That what he's done in the little time he had worked enough.
Oh, River. Melody. River. Who will you be now? I can't wait to find out.