River’s presence is gentle, experienced, and uncannily kind. Beneath the hardened exterior covered by the facade of a flirty, overconfident professor lay a woman with more love in her hearts than the universe would know what to do with. It’s like her thoughts sing a gentle, comfortable song, almost a lullaby of sorts. And perhaps that’s exactly what it is— her words come to him in his native tongue, she speaks his language for the sake of calming the storm of fear in his mind.
Images briefly shoot through her own mind.
Flashes of light from explosions.
Intense heat from fire and she can hear
the screams of fear from strangers but
perhaps most heartbreakingly his own.
River speaks less with words and more with images of her own. She tries to send him brief pictures of her own memories, countless lives he’d saved. People who care for him and the multitudes of planets and galaxies he’s saved. The song is one perhaps he remembers somewhere in the back of his mind from the many times the two of them danced around the TARDIS to the songs of various time periods on earth.
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound
It’s only simple images of comfort and refuge she gives him, because she doesn’t have words to give him solace from the horrors of war. River always said that action spoke louder than any words someone could tell her. On the outside her body trembled in just the slightest way, she’s clearly not used to psychic links, especially being the one to initiate them.
A child’s scream. The flash of Dalek fire. Everything challenged. Everything changed. A warrior and another child, struggling for control over the other.
As his subconscious learns to trust the archaeologist’s mind, more and more barriers fall away- allowing her calm and gentle thoughts to sooth the traveler’s weary and scarred ones. Not all the barriers fall, though. The Doctor- conscious or not- would always guard certain aspects of himself, certain memories.
The warrior and the child, one and the same. Frightened and brave, yet ruthless. The child pushed aside. Screaming, yet understanding.
Slowly, very slowly, the Doctor’s body starts to relax. Hardened and scared features melt away, his grip on the carpet loosens, his long and thin frame uncurls just a touch. The visions and horrors of the war fade into background noise- still there, but masked by River’s love and care. Frightened. Safe. Peace.The Doctor lets out one last sigh before his breath falls into a regular rhythm.
Even in sleep, he appears exhausted. It’s not a far stretch to say that this is the first snatch of peaceful sleep he’s had in years, if not decades. Even in his attempts to separate himself from the horrors he’d witnessed and seen, he knew he’d never be free of those acts. Never. Even if everything changed, even if he’d never done what he’d done to end the war, the actions he took fighting it would never change, nor the horrors he’d witnessed.
Softly snoring, it’s difficult to tell how long he’ll stay asleep. With how accustomed he is to his nightmares, even their absence might be enough to wake the Time Lord.
"Hey, you alright? You look pale."
"Do I?" Clara put a hand to her cheek as if that would confirm, or deny that fact. "I mean I felt a little off today, but I assumed it was just a bit of my imagination."
"Have you had enough to eat?" he asked, genuinely concerned about Clara. No, he still didn’t know her as well as she did him, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t care for her. "I’ve probably got something in my pockets somewhere…"
*His meditation was interrupted by the faint sounds of the Doctor speaking. It wasn’t in the direction of his room or anywhere he typically heard the Doctor, which motivated him to rise to his feet and seek him out. What he finds is alarming, even to him.*
Doctor? Doctor are you ill? Can you hear me?
[The Doctor doesn’t move, nor makes any indication that he can hear Spock. His shaking breaths are punctuated by what sound to be gasps and winces of fear and pain.]
Stop… stop the burning. The… Got to…