Disclaimer - I don't own. No moneys for me. Please, don't sue.


Out in the black, time doesn't matter. It exists, but without planetary rotation there is nothing to distinguish night from day or one day from another. This doesn't stop those living in the vastness of space from trying to bend time to their will.

It is currently Serenity's night shift. Some might call it early and others, late. River calls it neither. For her, who hasn't the desire or need for sleep, it is merely time to be awake.

She sits at the helm, knees tucked beneath her chin, hair loose and wild, as she bathes in Wash's mellow golden-green. She knows she is being selfish soaking in the dead man's aura. It should be reserved for his widow, but Zoƫ almost never comes up here anymore and River can't stand the thought of Mal's earthy brown overpowering any of the traces that the ship's court jester left behind.

No one is awake except her and they won't rise for several hours yet. The crew dreams quietly and she is as alone in her own mind as she ever is. She closes her wide doe eyes and savors the near mental quiet.

'Time is Theseus' ball of endless yarn; knotted and twisted upon itself.'

River's brow furrows. These are not her thoughts.

'The fourth dimension; ever moving change.'

River opens her mind to the crew. These are not their thoughts either.

'We see it all. Pasts that never came to pass. Futures that are yet to be decided.'

The 'voice' is feminine; calm and soft and melodic.

'We can see your tributaries, your rocky rapids. We even see your delta, River.'

River opens her mind further, trying to track down the source of thought.

'I am the immovable object. He is the irresistible force.'

Nothing.

'You must be prepared.'

For the first time since the doctors cut open her skull, River can't find the source of a thought.

'I can give you the words that you require, but you must decide their meaning for yourself.'

"I neither understand nor comprehend." River whimpers, unable to tell if this is reality or a psychotic break any longer.

'Truth told is not always the same as truth learned. Comprehension will not be long delayed. Understanding will follow after.'

Two words, one, six words, three; they flood into her. Individually she knows them, but together they make little sense.


"NO! Not a doctor, The Doctor. THE! Cross reference with 'blue box'." The rest of the crew can hear her long before she actually walks into the mess with Simon's little encyclopedia in her hands.

"No results found." comes the mechanical female voice.

"Look up 'Tardis'." River commands.

"No results found." the machine tells her a moment before River flings it across the room. She immediately stomps out and makes her way towards the bridge.

"Anyone feel like enlightening me about what our little Albatross is doin'?" Mal asks from around his mouthful of protein as Simon looks after his sister and Kaylee bends to pick up the abused encyclopedia.

Author's Note - No idea where to go from here. I just liked the thought of the TARDIS talking to River in preparation of The Doctor's arrival.