The Astria

He heard her swear in High Gallifreyan as the Tardis lurched, tossing her like a rag doll to the floor. He was used to the jarring and had a hand on one of the columns. She sat up, shook out her mane of curls, and strode back to the console. He blinked, tried to remember what she said. Yes. It had to be High Gallifreyan.


"Busy now, love."

She twisted a few dials and flicked a switch with a hint of bravado, as her red-lacquered nail clicked against it. She does not move as he does, in an erratic dance, but rather with a calm certainty, a knowledge. He knew that she could pilot the Tardis. He suspected he himself taught her later in his timeline. But High Gallifreyan? When would they have had the time? How would he even begin to teach her?

He sat in his seat and pouted a bit, spinning a fez in one hand. She pointedly ignored the hat and finished entering coordinates, hitting the final button with a smug grin. Only once all this was done did she turn her attention to him.

"You just swore."

"Yes dear."

"In High Gallifreyan."

"Yes dear."

"But how could you possibly know High Gallifreyan?"

She flashed him that smile, the one that always came with that frustrating phrase.


Scowling a little, he crossed his arms, put the fez on his head. She smiled at him and strode confidently towards the Tardis doors.

"Come on, then. Want to see where I've taken you?"

His curiosity overcame his desire to sulk and he bounded out after her, fixing his bowtie with one hand. As he dashed out the door, her arm flew out, knocking off the fez.

"River, my fez! I just got that fez! It was a gift actually. Dear friend of mine. Party favor, really. But it was a small party. Fezzes are very in there."

"They're not in here." She turns on one heel of her knee-high boots and begins to lead him through a crowded, dusty market.

"Fezzes are always in, River. Always a good time for a fez. Weddings? Love a fez at weddings. Birthdays? What better hat than a fez? Even for those awkward you-showed-up-uninvited occasions; great time for a fez."

"Maybe I'll let you get one when you're older."

They wandered the market all afternoon. River browsed the pottery, the jewelry, the antiques. She seemed to gain enjoyment from identifying the era they were from, the planet, the culture. The Doctor corrected her several times until she sent him off with a handful of oddly-shaped coins and an order not to eat too many sweets. He spent his time poking at trinkets and chatting up the locals, making friendly conversation. It was as he was getting to the climax of his story that he heard the unmistakable sound of plasma bolts.

"Sorry kids, gotta run. It all turns out very well. There's a bit with dancing at the end. And a cat. A very nice cat. He had a monocle." And with that, he was running through the bazaar towards the gunfire, looking for his trigger-happy archaeologist.

She was crouched behind a booth, returning fire.


"Hello, sweetie."

"What are you doing?"

"Bargaining. Hush now and let the grown-ups talk."

"Bargaining? Over what?"


"Star-gems?" He actually paused in his interrogation, shocked.

"Yes, love. And I saw them first."

"I can get you star gems, River."

"Busy, love. Just sit quietly for a moment."


"Hush, or I'll have to hush you."

She fired three shots and dashed out from behind her booth, snatching a little bag off another booth and tossing a bag of coins onto the counter.

"Keep the change!"

She began to run. Exasperated, the Doctor dashed after her, dodging plasma bolts, calling her name as she snapped her fingers at the Tardis, tossing the doors open so she could run inside. The Doctor dashed in closely behind and slammed the doors shut, panting.

"What did you do?"

"I was bargaining."

"With your gun."

"Works on you all the time." There was that smug smile and as he opened his mouth to ask, she merely winked, brushing past him to go sit down.


He frowned at her as she poured a palm full of silvery gems that glittered rainbows, casting prisms onto the walls. She ran her fingers through the little pile, smiling as the gems cast rainbows onto her face. The Doctor sat down next to her, and the idea that had been building in his head clicked neatly into place. He sat down next to her and picked up an astria, rolling it between his thumb and pointer finger.

"It's beautiful."

He said it in Gallifreyan.

"Sorry, sweetie, you won't get me that easily."

Pouting, he dropped the gem back into her hand, and she slowly tipped them all back into the little leather bag. He put a hand on her shoulder.

"River, please."

"Spoilers." That smile drove him crazy; she had this look about her, like she was ahead of and above him. Smiling, she wrapped her arms around his waist, dropping the bag of gems onto the Tardis console.

"Now, you wouldn't like to have your whole future spoiled, would you, Doctor?"

"Wibbly wobbly…" he began, fully intending to defend his right to know, but suddenly, her face was very close to his and he could smell something sweet.

"Wibbly wobbly?" She asked him, but he put a hand up to her lips.

"Hallucinogenic lipstick?"

She laughed. "I don't know if this is the first time you've asked that, but you're learning."

"That isn't a yes, River." He could feel his heartbeats in his stomach.

"You're right; it isn't."

She kissed him and he didn't know how his hand had been moved and where her lips had come from, but there they were, making his insides burn and his hearts race. She slid her hands over him and he could hardly breathe for the wonder of it all. She had kissed him before but this was different. Then it had been a goodbye. Now, it was something different; something more. Her tongue found its way into his mouth, and it was running over the backs of his teeth, tickling his tongue. As she explored his mouth with her tongue, her hands grasped fistfuls of his shirt and pulled, twisted, kneaded his chest with her nimble fingers. He could hardly feel his head anymore, he was flying so high. All he could feel was her and his mind was outside the Tardis, outside of time. She had done this before; how else could she so efficiently reduce him to putty in her hands?

In a rush, he grasped a handful of the thick curls at the base of her skull with one hand and pressed the over on the small of her back. He too was good with his mouth; he had over nine hundred years to practice. This experience was evident as she pressed herself closer to him, making a quiet little moans. When their mouths parted for oxygen, she muttered something against his lips, barely touching them, sending rushes of fire through his veins.

She whispered the phrase against his lips again, and this time, he understood it. It was High Gallifreyan again, and what she asked for, he was unsure if he was ready to give. Against his lips again, she pleaded, she enticed, she seduced him in his native tongue. She did not kiss him, only let her lips brush tantalizingly against his. And as quickly and suddenly as she had begun, she stepped away, her lips slightly swollen from his kisses, her hair mussed from his hand. She turned and she reached for the bag of astria, and carefully reached in and selected two. They shone in her palm, casting galaxies of color onto her cheeks.

How could he have resisted her for so long? How could anyone resist her when she looked that way, her eyes full of wonder, her lips red, lipstick smeared off the edges of her mouth? She looked at him, holding the astria, and offered him one. Taking it, he looked her right in the eye, and placed it in his mouth, enjoying the look of alarm on her face. After a moment, he spit it back out into his palm, the gem now covered in saliva.

"Do you want to see something amazing?" the Doctor asked her.

"What have you done?"

"I want to show you something." He rummaged through a bin until he located two mirrors, a candle, and a glass of water to which he added three tablespoons of sugar and a drop of lemon juice. River was long since used to his strange antics and contraptions and she waited for him to set a mirror under the glass of water, drop the gem into the glass, place another mirror on top of the glass, and place a candle next to the glass.

"You're going to love this." He lit the candle with a single match, struck against his console. As the flame's light was cast into the glass, it lit up.

Alone and dry, the astia cast rainbows. Here, in the strange set-up the Doctor had constructed, it danced. The colors whirled and soared and soared, tracing the contours of the inside of the Tardis and the faces of its occupants.

"It's beautiful." She said it in English.

"Yes, it is." He said it in Gallifreyan.

They were quiet for a long time.

Farther down his timeline and earlier in hers, they made love for the first time, rainbows dancing across their bodies, cast by an astria in the glass of water. It was then that he learned more about her. Her whispers, her sighs, her moans, were all in his native tongue. It was electrifying, hearing her every word for only his ears. No other man in the universe would hear and understand this. She had done this before, he had not. This was evident in how she managed the affair.

As she pulled off his shirt, began to unfasten the button of his trousers, she asked him in between breathless kisses if he had ever made love to her before. Taking her hand, the one with the ring set with an astria, he said no. And then proceeded to show her why it didn't matter. There was something undeniably seductive about her whispering sweet nothings in Gallifreyan, the language of the Time Lords.

When their nights of passion bore fruit, she began crafting a mobile using the astria and crystal globes on wire. He rubbed her back and shoulders, stroked her swollen belly, watched the rainbows dance over her face as she placed another gem into a globe, carefully sealing it. The wonders never cease and though fatherhood was not a new experience for him, watching her grow, watching his child, product of their love and connection, become more beautiful every day, he still felt an electric pulse in his veins.

She screamed during birth, cried as she gripped his hand so tight that he could feel some of his finger bones weakening. The astria cut into his palm from the ring she wore on her left hand. The rainbows are stained, but they remain. She screamed, she cried, she pushed. He held her hand, her hair. He fed her ice chips from a plastic cup; the baby came in 21st century Earth, and there was no time to move her to a more advanced time. She refused the spinal block and he briefly wondered if it was worth it to do so.

Bringing the squalling little creature back into the Tardis was an interesting experience. He did not know much about handling babies. She was better with handling guns, but took to motherhood with a fierce tenacity, desperate and determined to be a good parent. She taught him to look after their baby. She recorded a holograph of their child taking her first wobbly steps across the console room. The little girl's first baby tooth was lost somewhere in the grating of the floor. She grew up primarily in a wooden box that is bigger on the inside.

She was not their only child, and they have more young ones. Despite the presence of more children, River Song stopped occasionally by the door of her oldest child's room and peered inside. Astria floated in a mobile above a queen-sized bed, still a bit large for their teenager. River paused now and again to sigh…and remember. She whispered to the glittering gems and the swirling rainbows,

"Hello, sweetie."

She says it to him, to the man who taught her the language of the Time Lords, the man who loved her and gave her every emotion from despair to ecstasy so intense it was nearly painful. She says it to her Doctor, her mysterious man, his name written on her heart. She says it to the Astria, to the gems which were said to be the hearts of stars' lovers. She says it to the universe. And she says it in Gallifreyan as he wraps his arms around her waist and kisses her neck.

"Hello, River."