summary: Rule number one: the Doctor lies

characters: River/Eleven

warnings: au. spoilers all series.

disclaimer: fic•tion [fíksh'n]: literary works of imagination

author's notes: this can be read as a stand-alone, but there are references to say hello to your future, and the episode Forest of the Dead. time line for reference on my profile page. all my titles so far have been taken from Darren Hayes songs, because he wrote an album about time travel :)


that we didn't make the rules;;

"River, how did we meet?" the Doctor asks her one day, quite out of the blue. The words leave him on a whim, somewhere between burying his nose in her thick golden curls and feeling her breath sweep across his skin. He's wanted to ask her before, from the moment she'd looked at him all those years-for-her/months-for-him ago. She'd seen him before.

River lifts her head off his chest and looks at him, propping herself up on one elbow. She considers his question for countless of moments, and she's staring down into his eyes the entire time. Then a smile sweeps across her lips, and she blinks slowly. "Spoilers," she smiles, and bites down on her lip. It's one of the first times he hears the word falling from her lips (so young), but it's starting to sound so right already.

"No, really," he insists, and pushes a defiant curl back behind her ear. "How did we meet?"

"I'm not going to tell you," River says, and sits up in the bed. "They're your rules."

"But how am I supposed to know when to bring you the psychic paper?" the Doctor asks, even though he knows these freak time loops tend to work themselves out eventually. And he really does know it's one of his future selves that she'll meet first. Him, but with a new face. That frightens him immensely.

"How do you know my future self doesn't tell you that on another occasion?" she teases. She's always teasing, the Doctor thinks, but he knows that's something they both learned independently. He's grateful for that.

"Won't matter. If you tell me now time will just rewrite itself." Yes, River knows, wibbly wobbly, or timey wimey, or sometimes even bumpy-wumpy, especially around the year 1482, but if she's completely honest with herself it's nice to have this one thing to herself, because all her other things seem to be his already, and sometimes (rarely, but it's there) she hates him just a little bit for that.

"But do you really wish to tempt fate?" River asks. "Bet your life?"

The Doctor casts down his eyes. He laughs, but mostly to himself, and River notices how one second he's genuinely happy and surprised and then the next he seems to remember something awful. She already knows him well enough to be able to see that. He looks up at her. "Always," he says.

River thinks it through, because something she knows and the Doctor doesn't is quite a novelty around here, and she'd really rather keep it all to herself. She remembers his face, her Doctor's face when they first met. It was so different from this one. "One condition," she says, but only to avoid thinking that one day she might have to watch him die. "You tell me how you met me."

Something changes in the Doctor's eyes immediately, but the corners of his lips curl up ever so slightly. "Now that would truly be tempting fate," he says softly, but doesn't take his eyes off her. He's crazy about her, and he realizes that he might have always been. Maybe it was preordained, maybe it was written in the stars like he once wrote her name between others in another galaxy. Maybe it was always meant to be like this. There's something in both his hearts that bursts, outwards, because he knows it's their out-of-syncness that made him consider them at all. "You first," he says, sitting up in the bed as well.

"Promise me, first."

He takes a breath, but knows he can't deny her. She knows him too well. "I promise," he says.

"You helped me break into a vault when I was sixteen years old."

The Doctor smiles. Of course, he thinks, because anything less wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense. "What were you stealing?" the Doctor asks.

"A black gem from the mines of Slivain."

"And where is it now?" he asks, because a gem like that is one of the rarest compounds in the universe; it probably fetched a fine price on the black market.

"Still in the vault. You got me arrested for sonicing and entering," she accuses him, but has never blamed him. Not then, not now. How could she when all that she saw was this wonderfully clever man that knew all about her? "Your turn."

The Doctor hesitates for just a moment. He already knows he won't tell her the truth, not just because her timeline has already proven he never does, but because he honestly can't get it past his lips. We met when you died. "We met in a library," he says.

"What section?" River asks.


"What book was I reading?"

He looks at her, and remains silent for countless of seconds. "You weren't," he answers eventually, his voice just above a whisper. He drags a hand through her hair and pulls her closer. Her heart makes a giant leap in her chest when his lips meet hers, like it always does, like it always will. She forgives him for breaking his promise wordlessly, just like he'll forgive her many times over for other trespasses. She knows.

It's written down in one of the pages inside a TARDIS-blue book.

Rule number one: the Doctor lies.

if you can, please let me know what you think!