/ doc/ "Why is it you always take me to markets, but you complain the whole time?" River asked.
The Doctor made a face.
"Wouldn't this time be better spent saving the universe and not shopping?" he said.
"Not if we don't have any food. This human needs to eat occasionally, remember?" River replied.
"We have food," the Doctor scowled. River fought the urge to trace his frown lines with her fingers, smooth them away.
"Ramen noodles and crackers are not food, Doctor. And don't make a face or it'll get stuck like that."
The Doctor pulled another face at her, complete with crossed eyes and stuck out tongue. River laughed.
"You're such a child."
"I'm almost 950," the Doctor grumbled.
"And when are you going to start acting like it?" River retorted.
"You love me anyways."
Yes, that she certainly did. And she knew him, too. She knew him well enough to see that the simple domestic chore of grocery shopping was making him edgy.
"Why don't we split up?" River suggested, trying to spare him. "I'll get some groceries, and you can go sulk in the TARDIS if you want."
The Doctor opened his mouth to protest, but River covered it with her hand.
"You're only going to follow me around and sulk. Let me shop, and you can chase monsters or something. Just promise me you won't get hurt while I'm not there."
"You have no faith in me," sighed the Doctor.
"I know you," River corrected. Standing on tiptoe, River kissed the Doctor's cheek, fondly. Of its own accord, the Doctor's hand crept up to the small of her back, steadying her.
"See you later, Sweetie," said River. She swung her shopping back into her shoulder, and walked into the crowed, leaving the Doctor behind.
The Doctor was an amazing man, it was true. He was as brilliant and dazzling as an exploding star, and twice as dangerous to his enemies. But put him in a bazaar full of shops, and he was just like every other man. River chuckled to herself. The Doctor could pretend he could handle anything, but she knew domestic still overwhelmed him.
After selecting enough food so that they didn't have to stop again anytime soon, River allowed herself a little time to peruse the other wares the market offered. It wasn't often that the Doctor let her loose on an alien bazaar. Everything was so exotic here. It wasn't anything like Earth, with its climate-controlled steel and concrete buildings. This was earthy, full of people and noise and smells. River thought she preferred it to the sterile environment she had grown up with.
She wandered in and out of the maze of stalls, enjoying herself. She stopped and looked at pretty things that caught her eye, but didn't buy anything. If there was one thing the TARDIS didn't need, it was more stuff.
There was one stall, though, that stopped her. Of course it was full of books. She was such a bookworm. It came from being so fascinated by ancient civilizations when she was a child. She would spend hours poring over maps of the San Diego Wasteland and the ruins of Ancient Paris. There was something about mysteries that made her itch to solve them. Which was exactly why she made the Doctor such a good companion; they both had the same drive to discover the secrets of the universe.
River let her fingers run across the spines of the books, examining each one. The TARDIS sure made it easier to buy books, seeing as she wasn't limited to the ones written in her native language. She ran her eyes over several stacks of books, before they settled on something blue.
Speaking of the TARDIS.
The book, when she pulled it out from its place wedged between two large legal volumes, was a royal blue. The pages were rough-cut and uneven. River flipped through them: they were all blank. Its leather cover was soft to the touch, with six embossed squares, three sets of two. It might have just been a coincidence that the book looked exactly like the TARDIS doors, but travelling in time and space had made River very skeptical of coincidences.
River traced the soft leather of the cover with her finger. She wasn't sure if it was a good sign or a bad one, to buy a book that looked so like the alien ship that she travelled in with the man she loved. She knew the universe was practically built on irony, but perhaps this would be pushing her luck?
Familiar arms slipped around her, a familiar double heartbeat tapping out a staccato rhythm on her back. The Doctor leaned his chin on her shoulder, his hair tickling her ear.
"I think you should buy it," he said.
River turned the book over in her hands, still unsure.
"Why? I've never been much of a journal writer."
River craned her neck around, so that she could see the Doctor's face where it hovered close to hers.
His expression was a little sad, his smile bittersweet.
"Spoilers," was all he said.
Author's Note: When this River storyline is all played out, I'd love to see the timeline from her point of view. So far we've only met an experienced and mysterious River, but she has to have started out the other way, with the Doctor being the one talking about spoilers. The more I see of River, the more I like her. I hope we'll see lots more of her in the future.
Many thanks to I am the Lev for help with the title.