Spoilers and Handcuffs: An Unconventional Love Story
Disclaimer: Me? Owning Doctor Who? Have you been inhaling River's hallucinogenic lipstick?
Disclaimer Take Two: I don't own Thank You, Stars either, it belongs to Katie Melua.
Warning: Some mild, blink-and-you'll-miss-it SPOILERS for The Big Bang and pretty much every other episode with River in...If you don't want to be SPOILERED, look away now. You. Have. Been. Warned. (Please feel free to take a cookie before you leave...)
Rating: T for mild sexy times.
A/N: I've had a hankering to write ElevenRiver for a while now and the Series 5 finale ending just had me squeeing like the fangirl that I quite clearly am so I had to write something...weeeeellll, that and I needed a distraction from politics revision...Anywho (oh the wit!), this is set a little while after The Big Bang and it's basically my take on the first time River meets the Doctor, written from Eleven's POV. So, um, enjoy, I guess...
A/N Take Two: Please remember that all reviews are greatly appreciated so once you've finished reading, have a go at pressing the purdy li'l button at the bottom of the page...Pretty please with an even prettier Time Lord on top?
To some it's the strength to be apart,
To some it's a feeling in the heart,
And when you're out there on your own, it's the way back home.
Thank You, Stars – Katie Melua
Humans think that everything changes over time. It's true, but at the same time, it's so far from reality that it makes him want to laugh. The 51st Century isn't too different from the 21st, the 21st isn't far cry from the 11th; technology and fashion may change but people never do. There are people like Amy Pond and Rory Williams throughout history; waiting for the adventure, believing the fairytale, falling in love, getting married. It's been the same with all of his companions; all his friends, acquaintances, lovers; all so human, all so predictable and completely unpredictable at the same time and he'd be lying if he said he didn't love it, but sometimes change is a welcome thing. Sometimes he wonders if that's why Agatha Christie only fooled him once.
Mysteries are hard to come by after nearly a thousand years of life; he sometimes finds small surprises in people, like Donna, who started out as a temporary secretary, but became the most important and impossible woman in the Universe. But real, bona-fide mysteries? They were rare. River Song is a definite mystery; so many spoilers, so little time. It's something he isn't used to; not having enough Time. He's the only remaining Lord of it, so he often wonders why it always seems to run out around her. She promised that he would know soon, that he would understand what they are to each other, who she is, and that everything would change when that happened. But it seems that he has become impatient in his old age, and waiting is something that he's not prepared to do anymore.
He drops Rory and Amy off in the inner city; a honeymoon in Central Londonia in 5072 is a wedding present money can't buy, but a TARDIS can certainly provide. The TARDIS seems to sense where he needs to be and he finds the coordinates already set. He opens the doors with some trepidation, stepping out into a dank alleyway, plastered with torn posters and scrunched litter. The street it opens out onto glistens in the dull orange light of the phosphorous street lamps, which reflects onto the puddles of muddy water at his feet. Shouts and the sounds of pounding feet bounce off the titanium walls surrounding him and he suddenly knows why the TARDIS has brought him here.
She looks younger than he has ever seen her, her tight golden curls bouncing out behind her as she runs. Her skin is smooth, devoid of any of the lines of wisdom that past experience has taught him to expect of her. He wonders if she gave her youth to him. And he finds that he loves her, just a little bit, as much as he can let himself; except, unlike Rose when he fell in love with her potential for sheer brilliance, he loves her for what she is, all that she is; sheer brilliance included in the deluxe package. Her eyes are alight with the excitement and mischief of escaping from her pursuers. In his haste to examine and catalogue every inch of this new, unfamiliar River, he almost manages to forget that he has come here to find her, to start their lives on the path that her book of spoilers and handcuffs says that it must always take, but at the last minute, he grabs her arm and pulls her into the alleyway after him and into the TARDIS. He is almost surprised by her lack of reaction to the transdimensional size of his Time Machine. Almost.
What panics him the most is how incredibly comfortable he feels in her presence, even though he knows that this is the first time she meets him. There is none of the nerves that he knows they should have; he doesn't feel the need to straighten his bow tie or smooth out his tweed jacket, and she doesn't primp her hair or fix her lipstick. They fall into a routine so easily; the effortless simplicity of domestic life, even though her personal timeline dictates that he should take the role of a stranger in the impossible blue box.
"Hello sweetie," she says, and he notes how the words don't slip off her tongue quite as easily as he is used to; she is a little unsure of herself still, and yet the words are her traditional form of greeting. The voice itself is lighter, none of the richly seductive velvet that he is accustomed to; instead, it is higher and more girlish, and it makes him wonder just how old she really is.
"You know, those were the first words you ever said to me. It's nice to see you again, River," he says, smiling that smile he reserves only for her; the half-smirk, with the questioning eyebrow.
She blinks up at him from where she has perched herself on the edge of the jump seat. "Have we met before?" she asks, puzzled.
"Oh, I think you'd remember," he replies, a little smugly. Her diary doesn't exist yet and all her gushing about Asgard and the Singing Towers of Darillium is a dot on the horizon of both their timelines.
There is silence for a little while and he watches her, studying her every movement intently, as if trying to understand how this girl became the River he knows. "So, this box of yours…" she begins, her legs swinging down from the jump seat in such an un-River-ish way that he has to check himself before answering.
"Oh, yes of course, it's called the TARDIS; Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. It's bigger on the inside," he says, anticipating her question.
"Then you just answered my question," she says, chuckling softly.
He is taken aback, not expecting this response, and he wonders if maybe he was wrong in his original assessment of her. "What question would that be?"
"Is it supposed to be impressive?" she replies, smirking slightly.
"Um…yes. Yes, I suppose it is…is it?"
"What? Impressive?" she asks.
"Well, I've never heard 'It's bigger on the inside' used as a chat-up line before so that's a thumbs up for originality, I suppose," she teases. He relaxes again, falling easily into their practiced pattern of banter.
"Who said anything about a chat-up line?"
"Well," she says, getting up from the seat and slinking over to him. He studies the floor intently, shuffling his feet and fiddling with his bow tie, and notices that her passion for shoes is as prominent as ever. "I don't know, a strange man grabs my arm and pulls me into an alley before taking me to see his time machine…doesn't that sound just a little like someone's trying to get lucky?"
"Hey, I may have just sort of maybe proposed to you so I don't think I need to try and get lucky, do you?" he exclaims, for once not thinking properly about timelines and spoilers.
"Did you? I must have blinked and missed that," she inches closer to him until there is no such thing as personal space. "Do it again." It's an order; whispered, but an order nonetheless. He gulps visibly and it's then that he notices the gun holster strapped to her left thigh and the Vortex Manipulator on her right wrist.
"Who are you, River Song?" he asks, not sure that he really wants to know the answer.
"You tell me. You seem to be holding all the cards right now. I don't even know your name."
"I'm the Doctor," he replies, thoroughly enjoying the absurdity of introducing himself to River Song; the only human who knows his real name, the hidden name that he doesn't even dare to utter to himself in the darkness of his own room.
"Just the Doctor?" she enquires, the small quirk of one eyebrow making him feel for the first time like his moniker is just a little silly.
"Yeah. Problem, is it?"
"No, it's just a little odd. Mind you, no more odd than 'River Song', is it? We're even, then."
"Not really…" he says, returning to his study of her.
"How so?" she asks.
"You know me a lot better where I come from and as far as I'm concerned, I've only just met you. I don't even know if I can trust you…"
"Well, can I trust you?"
"If you like…but where's the fun in that?" he replies, laughing as he remembers her response to the same question outside the wreck of the Byzantium.
She seems to consider his response and laughs along with him. "I suppose there isn't any. I've never been one to do anything without a little bit of risk, anyway."
"Now that I know!" he says, still laughing.
"So…who exactly am I to you?"
"I'm not sure yet," he admits. "You're a bit of a mystery to me."
"Well that's good," she muses. "I always like a good mystery. Agatha Christie only fooled me once, though…" She seems put out by this and he is a little shocked by this confession.
"Well, there's something we have in common, then!" she says happily, touching his arm lightly and sending a crackle of electricity through his veins. She really is a beautiful specimen of humanity in all its complicated glory.
"What do you do, River?" he asks before he can stop himself.
"Me? Well I've always wanted to be an archaeologist, but for now I'm working at the Time Agency. Nice bit of experience for me, I suppose."
"Ah. That would explain the gun and Vortex Manipulator, then?"
"Yeah. Why? Did you think I'd stolen them? Is that what I am where you're from? Am I a thief? How exciting!"
"Ah. Now," he says with all the authority he can muster. "That's rule number one while we're together: no talking about the future, no…spoilers, ok?"
"Ok, I guess."
"And absolutely no handcuffs!"
"Handcuffs?" she questions, looking amused. "Why on earth would handcuffs come into it?"
"I have no idea, and quite frankly, I really don't want to find out."
He fiddles with his bow tie again and she notices it this time. She closes the gap that he put between them just moments before when he moved around the console. Her fingers close around the edges of his bow tie and begin to unravel it. "Are you sure about that?" she asks, although it's not really a question and they both know it. He gulps again, a hand jumping to his hair and ruffling it nervously in a gesture so like his previous self that he checks himself momentarily before he remembers that she hasn't met that incarnation of him yet, and that she won't live to tell the tale when she does.
"Can I kiss you, Doctor?" she asks.
"I didn't think you were the sort to ask, River," he replies, taken aback by her question.
She seems to consider this. "Hmm…normally I'm not, but you don't know me, remember…" She inches closer.
"No, but I know your lipstick…"
"Really?" She seems genuinely curious. "Have you kissed me before, then?"
"No. I've just seen you kiss other people…"
"Does that make you jealous?" The gap closes a little more.
"Yes," he breathes. "Every time. And you know it."
He's surprised to realise that it's his lips that find hers first, although not as surprised as she is, it seems, because she pulls back and crashes them together again. The rest of the night passes in flashes of warm skin, peroxide curls, gasping whispers of praise and expletives, and, of course, the silver glint of handcuffs…
"Do you dream of important people?" she asks, twirling his mop of hair between her slim fingers.
"I don't dream," he admonishes. "You know that."
She looks pointedly at him, reminding him that she's not stupid and she doesn't need telling twice. "No, but if you did, would you dream of the important ones?"
"Everyone's important, River," he sighs; rolling out the same practiced responses. Yet even when he thinks he's got the measure of her, she still manages to surprise him.
"I'm not." It's one of those confessions only given post-coital. It's the vulnerable point of humanity, when you've been physically naked and it's time to remove the clothes from emotions.
"What makes you think that? Humans, you never believe your own worth!"
"How can I be? I've never done anything special or life-changing, have I?" She enquires as if she's not quite sure and she's looking to him for confirmation, but he knows he can't give it.
"There's me. I'm pretty special and life-changing…"
"Smug bastard," she mutters, although she is smiling.
"Well I'm right, aren't I?" he teases.
"Suppose…" There is silence for a while, filled only by the quiet sounds of their shallow breathing and the stroke of his fingers across the glistening perspiration of her stomach. Suddenly, she asks, "What am I like? In the future, I mean…"
"Spoilers-" he begins, but she cuts him off.
"-And handcuffs, yes, I know, but am I very different? Am I married? Am I still blonde or did I finally plump for the more adventurous hair colour? Why aren't you with me now?"
"Ah, River Song, so many questions, so little time. I am with you now. The only you that actually matters right at this moment. Can't you just be happy with that?" There is a note of pleading in his voice and she hears it, but mercy has never been her strong point.
"No. Could you?"
"No, I couldn't," he admits, a little more willingly than he means to. "Maybe that's why we work so well."
She laughs. "Do we? And after only one go around! I must be good!"
He chuckles along with her. "Do you know, I once said that I could kiss you and you said 'Maybe when you're older…' I suppose I understand that now…"
She tuts at him and punches him lightly on the arm. "Oi! Spoilers!" They laugh together again; the perfect domestic bliss. Sleep follows soon afterwards.
He wakes up alone, finding a note stuck to the pillow next to him.
I went for a wander around your machine earlier and found the library. There was an empty blue book with my name on it on one of the shelves. It promised me that time travel never happens in the right order, so I've kept it. It looks a lot like your box. I'll look forward to our next meeting if it's anything like our first. I hope I accepted that proposal.
You promised to come when I call. I'm going to hold you to that, sweetie.
P.S. Next time, I'll provide the handcuffs… '
He slips the torn paper into the inside pocket of the jacket she tugged off his back the night before and smiles. He wanders back into the console room and sets the coordinates for Central Londonia; time to pick Rory and Amy up again; time for the next big adventure. He finds that he's still smiling as he pumps the Vortex Loop and fiddles with the Zig-Zag Plotter; unlike every other companion he has ever had, she left by choice, but that doesn't mean that she won't be coming back.
Humans never change, but sometimes they can still surprise him.