secrets stolen from deep inside
She watches him step out of his impossibly blue box, a feeling of lightness bubbling up in her chest until she has no choice but to let it overflow onto her face in the form of a bright smile. "I wasn't expecting you."
He adjusts the lapels of his jacket and grins at her unrepentantly. "Well, it doesn't work like that, does it River? To be fair – you're never expecting me. Unless of course I tell you to expect me – really you can only tell me when to expect you, I don't think I'm the type to warn you. I like surprises. Or unless you call me I suppose. Then you could expect me but what me is the question. I wonder how that works? Who decides which me gets the message? I'd hate to think it's all up to fate or maybe-" He ambles toward her as he speaks and she laughs, shaking her head and holding up a hand.
"Fair enough." She acknowledges him and he laughs very slightly, reaching her side and taking her hand in his. His long fingers curl around hers and she smiles brightly.
"You know most people wouldn't have even understood what I was saying just then." His thumb is stroking the back of her hand and she leans forward with a conspiratorial smile.
"I'm not most people, Doctor."
"And don't I know it, River Song." His hand tightens around hers as he looks down at her with a soft look in his ancient eyes.
"And to what do I owe this surprise?" She smiles up at him, her heart beating a staccato rhythm against her chest in anticipation. No matter what, no matter when, no matter where they were – it was never dull.
"I missed you, is all. Been several weeks since you've left the last time, I found myself rather eager to see you again." His cheeks suffuse with a dull red and she laughs out loud, her hand squeezing his.
"I'm glad. Shall we find out when we are?" She moves to walk over to her cot, where her diary is lying open, but his hand retains her, and pulls her back toward him.
"I've done the Byzantium, the pandorica, New York and Utah. Not important though, because the point is I know you and you know me and I thought today we'd try something more low key." She glances up at him with an amused smile – they never ever accomplish low key no matter how many times he tries to suggest it. She wonders if this is the first attempt for him. It's a lesson he'll have to learn sometime, she supposes. She disentangles her fingers from his and walks over to her cot, picking up her satchel on the way. She shoves her diary in there, as well as her manipulator and her PDA. The last thing she packs is her gun. "I said low key, River!" His voice is right at her shoulder and she jumps.
"It never hurts to be prepared, Doctor." She points out mildly. "Should I change or-"
"I'm sure I have something for you to wear, if you need it." His tone is distracted as he pulls her by the hand toward the tardis.
"If I need it?" She takes the opportunity to tease him and she watches the tips of his ears turn red with a smile. It's actually quite adorable. "Is this a clothing optional low key journey, Doctor?" They're inside the ship by now and he shakes his head.
"No – of course not!" He sounds scandalized. "Well I mean, I'm not ruling it out – never rule out all the possibilities I always say – otherwise nothing fun would ever happen at all."
"Where are we going?" She is leaning against the railing, watching him prance around the console flicking switches and pressing buttons like an overzealous child. She often wonders how one man can be so ancient and youthful, all at once. He is a paradox – self-contradictory, but it's one of the things she loves most dearly about him.
"A picnic. I was thinking – maybe Asgard. Quite pretty there you know, lovely scenery, friendly locals, excellent cuisine. Have you ever been?" Her heart stops at his words, because she has been. With him, as a matter of fact, many years ago. It was one of her favourite memories, and the whole day he'd spent staring out at the vistas around them, talking about nostalgia and how he remember their first time there. She'd pestered and pestered him about it, but he'd only say some things were worth doing twice over, and she'd know what he meant soon enough.
"I don't think so," she lies easily. Because saying her usual phrase of spoilers would be as good as admitting she had.
"Excellent! Do you know they have two suns and three moons on Asgard? Makes for some rather spectacular sunsets and moonrises." She smiles softly, before putting her satchel on the chair by the console.
"I think I will see if I can change – I'm sure she'll have something for me, right?" She smiles across at him and he grins like he knows a secret – but she's got a feeling it's a secret she already knows. When she makes her way into the wardrobe room, there is only one thing hanging there and she walks over with a soft hum, wrapping her hand around the soft dress. "Oh, thank you, dear." She sighs the words and the tardis hums in reply. "Worth doing twice, indeed." She grins before quickly changing her clothes and heading back out to him.
"Oh well that's lovely River." She smiles at the compliment and reaches for his hand. "You haven't got any shoes on though."
"Do I need them? Low key, right?"
"Right. Right. Low key. Although you know, sometimes things don't go quite as I planned and we do have a history of running an awful lot..." He frowns and she reaches up a hand, smoothing his hair back from his face.
"I'm sure it will be fine, sweetie. I can run in bare feet if necessary. You planned this?" She distracts him with the question and he blinks, pulling her arm though his and leading her toward the stairs.
"Yes, I did. As a surprise you know. Well, I mean you don't know – not yet, but you will. I hope it goes well – I mean, that is..." he trails off and stops them by the doorway, looking quite nervous. "I hope I didn't misjudge this or interpret it wrong, but I – oh, this is so terribly difficult. It shouldn't be!"
She shoots him a calm look, and lays a hand over his chest, fingertips spread so that she can feel the beating of his hearts – one under her thumb and one under her pinky. "It won't be." She makes the promise easily and he swallows.
"Well you don't know what it is, so how can you promise that?"
"Because, Doctor, I know you. And I'm sure I'll love whatever you have planned." She makes sure she sounds sure enough to convince him, but not so sure that he has any idea she already knows what is about to happen. He nods, and flings open the door recklessly, and they walk out into the warm sunshine of late afternoon.
There's a blanket spread on the ground a few meters away from the Tardis, and they are situated atop a gentle hill that rolls down onto a beach. The grass is so green it is practically glowing and the water stretched out in front of them is an almost unimaginable shade of blue. The two suns sit low in the sky, swollen and fiery, bleeding reds and oranges across the sky and reflecting across the water like a thousand topazes.
It's not difficult at all to look impressed by the beauty, because she's only been here once before and the memories warm her from the inside out. "It's beautiful." She finally speaks and she can feel the weight of his gaze upon her.
"Very beautiful." He agrees, but he isn't looking out there, and she feels her skin grow a little warm. He'd looked at her the same way all those years ago, but sometimes she found it rather unbelievable that he would now that she was so much older. She thinks it's even more flattering because this is the only version of her he knows, and yet he still seems to find it attractive.
"It's so calm." She whispers, because the locale seems to engender that type of reverence. "And quiet."
"Yes well, no one will be around. It's part of a national park, a preservation site. I know someone who knows someone and anyway – it's all ours for today." He grins, releases her arm and claps his hands in excitement before walking toward the blanket. It's large and soft and as blue as she remembers it to be, and there is a basket sitting on top of it, open. He flops down, all limbs, and starts pulling fruit and cheeses out of the basket, along with custard, three types of candy and a large bottle of juice. She sighs, because it is so very him, but thinks that at least there aren't any fish fingers. Small favours.
"I'd have brought wine but I tried that once when I stayed with a friend – stuck you know, the Tardis took off with Pond in it – anyway horrid, dreadful stuff it is." He grins up at her and she laughs, settling gracefully down next to him while he wrestles his tweed coat off and tosses it behind him. She reaches for a piece of cheese while he dips wine gums in custard and grins like a little boy at her disgusted look. "What? S'good!"
"You are terrible," she laughs, "the appetite of a four year old, honestly." They sit and eat in companionable silence for a bit, until she leans back, stretching her legs in front of her and flexing her toes. "So what is on the agenda?"
"No agenda. God, that sounds boring doesn't it? I just thought, you know," he pushes the food aside and lays out beside her, his hands folded under his head as he stares up at the soft orange sky above them, "catch a sunset, watch a moon rise, get married – usual things." She laughs at how he slips it in there, and she glances down at him. He's attempting to appear nonchalant, and he's genuinely terrible at it. She arches a brow at him and smiles.
"Yeah, you know, the suns, the moons, the stars, weddings – they're all very usual things." He stares up at her and she stares back with a small smile until he physically cannot seem to take it anymore. He sits up, moving closer to her on the blanket, his hands waving purposelessly in front of him. She finally decides to put him out of his misery, and slips closer to him, until she is pressed right into his side.
"Weddings don't seem like a usual thing." She points out – because honestly, he's so much more nervous than the last time. Then it had been her who'd been aflutter and him gently teasing her into a state of serenity.
"Well sure they are. Loads of people get married – all the time! Honestly, if you knew the number of weddings I'd attended-"
"Your own?" She needles him just slightly and he looks at her askance.
"Oh no! God no! Well I mean yes, one or two but those were different. Unless you count my first wedding on Gallifrey – that was sort of the same, but all the ones in between were just – you know, a lark. Not serious at all." He reaches for her hand and she lets him take it in his, pressing her palm against his and she is amused to find that his is somewhat damp.
"So you're talking about the weddings you attend for the dancing." She smiles and he nods.
"I do love to dance."
"But there's nobody here, sweetie." She points out. "What kind of a wedding would that be?"
"The perfect kind! You, me, and the Tardis is all we need River. It's not like she'd ever let anyone else officiate so to speak, anyway. And besides nobody else knows our story. Not really." His face is serious as he looks at her and she smiles, bringing her free hand up to his cheek so she can touch him there, her fingers curling under his jaw.
"There wouldn't be any dancing." She points out, and he blushes and glances down.
"Well there would be. Of a sort." She laughs out loud at that and he grins, looking back up at her. "And technically you've already said yes, you just don't know that you've said it yet."
"Have I?" She murmurs and he nods as she trails her fingers down the line of his throat and he swallows nervously.
"Well, sort of. It was a complicated moment, because I think I was proposing accidentally and you were being wicked because we were already married. You know, River, I don't think I've ever had a more complicated relationship in my life. And that's saying something, given how old I am." She smiled softly and leaned in, pressing her lips to his softly. It's a sweet kiss, not over wrought or over whelming, just beautiful and gentle and calm, like the air all around them. She hums in the back of her throat and his arm wraps around her waist and back, pulling her closer against him. When she pulls back, she nods.
"Okay, let's get married." She grins, because of course she was going to say yes. Again. And again and again if need be – she'd say yes to him a thousand times over. And besides, who gets to marry the man they love twice? It fits them. Her grin is infectious and he laughs, standing quickly and pulling her up with him until she is flush against him. The sky around them is a deep garnet now, as the suns are sinking beyond the horizon.
"Okay!" He pulls her over to stand in front of the Tardis doors, before he opens them and the ship hums contentedly from within. "Now I've thought about this a lot – and really, unless we got married all over the galaxy, I don't think any one type of ceremony would fit, do you? Besides, this is official enough for me, and I assume you'll be okay with it – basically I just think we should make a promise." He takes a deep breath and she smiles, because he is clearly in an excited rush. "Oh!" He slaps himself in the head and looks over at her sheepishly. "I meant to get flowers."
She steps closer to him and takes his hands in her own. "I couldn't do this if I had to hold flowers, Doctor." He glances down at their entwined hands and back up at her again. "Shall I begin?" He nods dumbly, staring across at her in wonder. "Alright then." She smiles warmly and looks up into his face – his kind, beautiful, young yet old face, and she feels her heart slow down, it feels like minutes are spinning out around them between beats.
"I promise that no matter where I am, or when I am – that I will always love you. I promise to do anything to protect you – even if it means letting you protect me sometimes. I promise to always call you sweetie, and never let you get away with anything. I promise to be with you, heart, mind, body and soul, until the day I die." His hands tighten around hers at that and she smiles reassuringly at him through her film of tears. "I promise to never spoil a good ending, or even a bad one. I promise to be here whenever you need me, no matter what. I promise that you'll never be alone. I promise you me." She is crying now, but he is not. He just looks down at her with such an intense look she feels like her next breath is difficult.
"I love you River Song. Always have, always will. You and I are timeless, and we'll never end. I'll always come when you call, I'll never not catch you when you jump out of spaceships or off buildings or anything else you happen to recklessly fling yourself off of. I'll always trust you. More than anyone else in this universe. I'll teach you everything you already know and I'll learn it all again with you just so you can do it over again once we're back at the beginning. No matter where I am, or when I am – or even what I say – I love you." He looks slightly apologetic about that last bit and she nods.
"I'll always forgive you, even if I don't know what for."
"Oh that's a good one – me too." He beams and pulls her closer to him. She leans up and he leans down, pressing a soft kiss to her mouth. His hands let her go so that his arms can come up around her and pull her closer and closer until she is flush against him, her mouth open under his and he tongue tracing his bottom lip while he moans. She feels a warm tingle, and he breaks this kiss, looking astounded at the golden hue all around them as the Tardis blesses them with huron particles. The glow subsides and he smiles down at her softly. "Married."
"Married." She smiles and pulls him in for another kiss, a swift quick one before she presses her lips against his cheek, chine, neck, nose and forehead. She loves every inch of this face. It's always been her favourite – not that she'd ever admit it to him. His hands are in her hair and his forehead is pressed against hers as she whispers his name in his ear. His arms tighten around her and she leans into the embrace. The night is growing dark around them, and the sky above them is absolutely soaked in stars. Millions and millions of them, weaving all around the three moons that are pushing their way up into the sky slowly. He pulls back with a frown, his eyes sad for a moment. "Uh-oh. What?"
"I've just had a thought." His voice is sad and he sighs. "If we're married, that means that this is a pivoting point for us, doesn't it. You knew we were married and I didn't before, but from now on I'll know and you won't." He sounds absolutely heart-broken at the prospect and she wraps her arms around him, squeezing tightly.
"I think you wouldn't mind if I make one tiny exception, sweetie, to the spoiler rule. When I said I'd never been here before, I lied."
"You've been here before?" He frowns at her and she nods with a gentle smile.
"Years ago. You took me here, and everything was just as I remembered it." Understanding dawns in his eyes and he laughs.
"Oh look at how clever I am, River! I avoid it by marrying you twice. Worth it, I'm sure. Well, how many people get to marry each other twice?" He looks extraordinarily pleased with himself and she laughs out loud. "Picnic at Asgard – it could even be code. If we don't know what we're talking about, then we're just not married yet." He looks introspective for a moment, and she can see that touch of weary sadness about him again. It's a familiar look that comes at the oddest of times for him – when he finds her in the Tardis library or when she mentions something random that triggers something within him. But she's never asked him about it, because she knows the answer – spoilers. So instead she does what she always does – her best to distract him.
"A better question is how many people get to honeymoon twice? Let's start now, shall we, Doctor?" She grabs him by the braces and drags his mouth down to hers, closes her eyes so she doesn't have to see that look on his face any longer. It's not there anymore anyway, she knows.
His hands tangle in her hair, and she moans in appreciation and he makes a responding noise. Behind them, the Tardis hums in contentment.