A/N: For the prompt: 'River/Doctor or River + Doctor, rolled up shirtsleeves and dangling braces.'


When the TARDIS appeared on a lawn strewn with golden leaves six months later than it was supposed to, River was, to put it delicately, not pleased.

"What sort of time do you call this?" she said, through clenched teeth, after tearing the door open and placing herself squarely in front of the console, her hands on her hips. She had hurried from her cheap supposed-to-be-for-six-weeks flat and across the wet grass in only pyjama trousers, a sleeveless shirt, and slippers, and was now cold and damp-footed in addition to tired and so very sick of waiting.

The Doctor peeked up from behind the console, looking a bit affronted. His hair stood in all directions. "It's only six months."

"Six whole, long, boring months!" Her back muscles tightened in revulsion at the mere thought of the mind-numbingly dull lengths she'd had to go to in order to delay the Event for half a year.

"I did my best!" He stepped out into more space and light. The hair wasn't the only thing askew. In fact, he looked properly rumpled all over.

River raised a brow. She couldn't decide whether he was in the middle of undressing or halfway through putting on his clothes. The shirt was crinkled and the odd button was open or halfway there. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and one of the cuffs had come undone somewhere along the way, and was now no more than a bit of fabric flapping uselessly by his inner forearm. The bowtie was a little bent and not so much at his throat as at his left collarbone. The braces hung limply to mid-thigh, their drooping oddly mirrored in the slump of his shoulders.

"You know how little difference there is between six months and six weeks," he said, stubbornly, glaring in the direction of the time and space control.

River rubbed her bare arms and tried not to say exactly what she thought of that excuse. It would be stupid to argue (much) with him when they would need to work together very soon. His jacket was slung over the hat stand, and she snatched it and slipped it on. It was weirdly tightly cut and quite heavy, but it was warm.

The Doctor watched her, and then he sighed. One of his sleeves (the one with its cuff intact) slipped halfway down his arm and he pushed it up slowly, demurely. "I'm sorry."

He did look genuinely sorry. And tired. And he had obviously been busy with something, though stars knew if she could even hazard a guess at what it might have been.

She softened a little, something she hadn't planned on doing so quickly. Why did the man have to seem so irresistibly charming every time he popped back into her life after a bit of a while?

The console pinged softly and the Doctor raced around it a couple of times, pulling levers and pushing buttons. The braces snagged on practically everything he passed; he batted, lifted or tugged them loose distractedly, flicking himself every other time.

River watched him, trying not to acknowledge how much she'd missed him, and, well, missed him. Oh, warring emotions. She'd had a respite from those.

"Right. Shall we head out and fix this, then?" the Doctor asked over a shoulder, all but climbing onto the console. One of the braces clips was coming off of his trousers. "Could you hand me my jacket?"

She decided to repress her anger momentarily and let the more insistent emotions win.

Something pinged again and the Doctor did a few more laps around the console. River took a step forward, lazily caught a dangling brace loop as he whirled by and then just… reeled him in, by wrapping the tough strap of fabric around her hand.

The Doctor seemed a bit confused and a lot flustered by their sudden proximity. Some, if not all of that confusion was definitely fake; he had facilitated her braces-pulling to the point of walking toward her. "My jacket?" he asked, and pointed awkwardly to her tweed-clad shoulder.

The Event had waited patiently this long. It could wait a bit longer. She reached past his raised finger, grabbed the rolled up sleeve with the ridiculous loose flap of cuff, tugged him even closer, and smiled in a way she hadn't had reason to in six months. "Not just yet."


the end.