There is a strange door onboard his TARDIS.
And behind it, presumably, is a strange new room, though he hasn't got that far yet. He's too busy trying to glare the passageway back to its original shape, in between efforts to quell the vertiginous sense of dislocation around his midriff. It's not even a very offensive door, as doors go; sleekly white, broad, and with a well-thumbed brass handle fastened on the right.
But it's real, and also wrong, and seeing as how he's currently missing one passenger-
River Song's bedroom, like her life, strikes him in entirely the wrong order.
At a first glance it seems far too small; at a second, too long. Books slide from every wall, cliffs and overhangs of them, crooked pathways forging cracks through each bank. At an unexpected bend the tributaries converge; the space widens out, and where the glade runs cool she is waiting for him.
The dust-brown overalls she arrived with have gone. In their place is an ankle-length dress, silk twill the colour of midnight that spills from her shoulders like water.
"Sorry. I thought I'd tidy myself up. Archaeological digs, plumbing isn't exactly the top priority." Her reflection glances sidelong at him, gauging his response. "It was just me, four men and a standpipe. Don't worry, we took turns."
His power of speech, together with his gaze, is lost amidst the lines of that dress. It is a while before either recover.
"How can you have a room? You've never been this far back before, we haven't even-"
"Haven't we? Dear, dear. This is a bit premature, then." She lays one hand flat on the wall by the mirror, and he's almost sure he can hear Time sigh beneath her touch. "Poor old thing. It can't be easy for her, you know. All our- coming and going, all those calls across the vortex, no wonder she gets confused." Something in the open jewellery box catches her eye; she plucks it out, rolls it around her palm in a flash of silver. "Like this. I definitely shouldn't have this yet." Before he can move towards her the palm becomes a fist, and the precious gleam vanishes once more. "Oh, no. You have to choose it for me first."
Her arm returns to the box and selects a pair of Arcadian diamond earrings, thin hooks baited with stones big as a thumb, fierce as stars.
"Right then. Evening on the TARDIS, but you're saying it's still early days, so where is- she? Them?"
Look too far past her words, all solid ground drops away. He shuts his eyes.
"Them. Amy and Rory. They're doing- married things."
"Ah. Speaking of which..." With breath-taking surety she closes three fingers over his left brace, and reels him in. Her hair- shorter than the last time he saw her, but still almost waist-length when free- smells of soap-fresh lavender, and promises, and the Universe on the days when nobody dies. "...can I drive tomorrow? There's someone I need to see."
He sags a little against her shoulder. "Your note said 'urgent'. In capital letters. Psychic paper's always serious when it uses capital letters."
"And this is. Few friends of mine, out in the Bone Meadows, seem to have found themselves a missing civilisation. They want me to write a background study. Thought I could get a look at the background for myself."
" Time-travelling historiography? Isn't that-"
"Cheating? I know. I'm getting worse than you."
This last, so bright and so familiar, sends too-vivid echoes of recollection ghosting across his tongue, beneath his scalp. He resolves them into a disapproving frown. Which collapses just a moment later, when, barefoot, she gets up on tiptoes to whisper by his ear, "Still, 'urgent' can wait a while, don't you think?"
The two of them stand pinned between her present and his future, and tonight is outside of time.
Here and now the fingers at his chest walk their way upwards, beckon towards his mouth.
One last, gentle tug, and he falls.