Now If All My Golden Moments
He opens the door to the TARDIS and exits with his usual abruptness, and she fights back a giddy laugh.
"Hello, sweetie," she says as he stops in front of her.
"Hello," he says with a smile, and leans down to kiss her gently on the cheek. He takes a step back to survey her and then, teasingly, adds "I take it we've both known each other for a while, then?"
Her smile immediately disappears. "Oh, I hate you sometimes," she snaps. His eyes crinkle as his smile widens.
"You know I think you're lovely," he says, as he reaches out to take her hand and lead her into the TARDIS. She follows willingly, though she gives the sensitive Time Lord nerve between his thumb and index finger a nasty pinch to let him know she didn't appreciate his remark. He leads her up the stairs and releases her hand to fiddle with the controls of the TARDIS.
"Where are we?" she asks, leaning back against the rail. From his greeting, she knows that he's lived their story, too.
"I've only just done the Alsax Venture. Well, I say just. I went off to Paradise Planet for a weekend, got rid of a bit of a nasty rabbit infestation for them. And this lady in Charles the Second's court painted me, lovely girl, had to hide under her skirts—" River lifts an eyebrow, "—but really it was all right in the end. Well, and I also—" She sighs and stops him with a finger against his lips.
"Alsax Venture, I've been. What about the Ybarran Heist?" He nods, face lighting up. He did love that one. "Jim the Fish? Jane?" As he nods each time, her heart grows lighter until she's sure her joy is spilling out across her face. He's been everywhere she's been.
"Anywhere else?" he asks, casually tilting his head.
She wraps him in her arms as an answer, burying her face in his shoulder. It's been so, so long since she last saw the Doctor, her Doctor, who loves her as much as she loves him. She can feel his smile as he returns her embrace, tangling one of his hands in her hair.
"That's good then," he whispers, and his arms tighten for a moment. "Where to, River Song?"
She doesn't answer immediately, just holds him, and finally she admits, "I just wanted to see you."
They stand there for a time, a rare glimpse of peace, simply together in the way they so rarely are. Eventually, it comes to an end, as perfect moments always must; the TARDIS appears to be bored with their stillness, and lurches rather violently to remind them that she's still there.
"Sorry, old girl!" the Doctor laughs, his eyes lingering on River as he turns to face the console. "Would you like to see Paris Cleopatra on Virginia? The planet, not the state, the state's boring! I'm told it's lovely, I was just thinking of going, there's supposed to be this marvelous—"
She moves to stand beside him, and they instantly fall into their roles, her dancing quickly around the left half of the console, him around the right. "It sounds lovely," she says, and he pauses for a moment to beam at her.
"I imagine there's some sort of alien menace that shows up about the time you're planning to land us," she adds as the TARDIS falls into the vortex.
Days later, they are curled up in her bed in the TARDIS, his fingers gently tracing Gallifreyan poems across her back.
"Do you ever wish we'd met in the right order?" she asks. His hand stills, and he doesn't answer. She rolls over to face him, brow furrowing ever so slightly.
"Do you, Doctor? I wish… I wish it could be like this, all of the time." His answering smile is small, and doesn't quite reach his eyes as he gently taps her on the nose.
"What would you do without your spoilers?" he asks, mischief creeping into his eyes. She swats him lightly on the arm.
"You were just as bad, I'll have you know. The amount of hair I must have lost because of you…" He chuckles, a deep, enthralling sound, and reaches out to toy with one of her curls.
"I'd hate to be the cause of your hair loss," he mumbles as he leans forward to press a gentle kiss to her lips. Her eyes flutter closed and she pulls herself closer to him. His hands trace down her ribs and come to rest on her hips, and he nudges her until she finds herself sitting in his lap, his arms wrapped around her. He nuzzles her neck and she hums with pleasure.
"Run away with me, River," he whispers into her ear.
"Already done, sweetie," she laughs, craning her neck to get a better view of him.
"No, but really, run away with me. Stay in the TARDIS with me. All of time and space… what more do you want?"
"You know why I can't," she sighs. "You explained it to me yourself, all about time and destiny and fixed points."
"Well, I've changed my mind," he says, and he sounds so sulky and so very five years old that she laughs aloud.
"You're not allowed to do that," she says, turning to face him with a broad smile. "Anyway, I've got the most fantastic trip planned. Some rich man from the fifty-first century, wants to explore the Library. You know—"
She can almost see the light vanish from his eyes, and it freezes her in her tracks.
"Sweetie? Doctor? Doctor, what's wrong?" He remains completely still, staring at her with those blank, horrible eyes. A terrible thought hits her.
"Is it the Library? Doctor, what—" She is interrupted as he pulls her into the fiercest, tightest embrace she's ever received.
"Oh, River," he breathes, and there is something so terribly broken in his voice, and it is so terribly frightening.
"Tell me not to go, and I'll stay with you. Here, in the TARDIS," she says, completely unable to mask the fear and desperation in her voice, "We'll be together, with all the universe at our doorstep."
He doesn't answer.
"No," he says, and his voice is almost unbearably rough, "No…"
She knows when to trust him, and she knows when it is too much to ask him to hide his share of their spoilers. She crawls out of the bed and stands at his side.
"Oh, my Doctor," she says, brushing a hand across his cheek. He can't meet her eyes. She slowly gathers her clothes and prepares to leave. As she moves towards the door, he reaches out and his hand gently closes around her wrist.
"River," he says, in a voice that is hauntingly foreign to her, "I love you. So, so much."
Her answering smile is sad and small. "I know, my love," she answers, and he releases her.
She doesn't look back when she walks away.