"That hurts," River winced as the Doctor gave the bandage a tug.
"Well you shouldn't go rushing off into dangerous situations without any backup then should you?" he responded crossly. Another tug, another wince.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
"Of course I do, I'm the…you do know who I am don't you?" he asked, suddenly suspicious. There hadn't really been a good time to synchronise their timelines yet, what with all the gunfire and River twisting her ankle on the run back.
She rolled her eyes.
"Sweetie, even in my wild early days I didn't make a habit of following mad strangers into spaceships that look exactly like ancient Earth artefacts without at least a snog first, speaking of which, have we done that yet?"
He leant down and gave her a swift kiss whilst simultaneously pulling her to her feet.
"I take it that's a yes then," River perched on the console behind her and tugged the familiar battered blue book from her waistband. The Doctor couldn't help noticing that there appeared to be several bullets embedded in the cover.
"Let's see…have we done Asgard yet?"
In response, he moved closer and gave her a longer, open-mouthed kiss, his hands finding their way into her hair. She tasted like gunpowder. Both were breathing hard when they finally broke apart. River rested her head on his shoulder, hands still grasping the lapels of his jacket.
"Another yes then. Dear me, we appear to be almost chronological for a change,"
The console room shook and they broke apart, the Doctor reaching for the controls and River hobbling off towards the stairs. He watched her go with a frown.
"You shouldn't put too much weight on that,"
"I know honey,"
They were drifting calmly on a solar current when she limped back down and collapsed on the battered sofa. River Song barefoot, sporting wet hair and a dressing gown, was a sight he didn't see very often. She looked almost vulnerable.
"Where are we?"
"The 17th Star Field of the Deltraxi Major Minor. Met their emperor once. Funny looking bloke, only had four eyes. All his wives had to have two of theirs removed so that he didn't look stupid,"
"And to think I complain about not being able to wear heels when I'm out with a Sontaran,"
"You went out with a Sontaran?"
"Yes. Then I knocked him out and stole his baton,"
"Why did you want a…" he stopped, "you're not going to tell me are you?"
River opened her mouth and he held up a hand to silence her reply.
"Don't say it. I think this is one of the longest conversations we've ever had when neither of us has used the 's' word once,"
The expression that crossed her face was uniquely River Song, an odd mixture of amusement and sadness.
"It makes up the vast majority of my dialogue these days,"
It struck the Doctor that-barring any incidents of an irretrievably apocalyptic nature-one day it would be his face, not hers, that was marred by such a strange emotion. One day he would be standing, perhaps on this very same spot, facing a River who was at the same time less and more than the woman she would eventually become. The only thing he knew for certain was that it was really going to hurt.
Which, he reminded himself, gave him all the more reason to make rare occasions like this one, when their knowledge of each other was almost equal, as free of the sadness that now permeated the air as possible.
So the Doctor changed the subject, gesturing at her ankle, stretched out in front of her on the old cushions. He noticed that there was a new bandage wrapped around it now, considerably more neatly than his own clumsy attempt had been.
"So, since we can't go out for dinner…"
"I'm not letting you cook again sweetie. You are a wonderful, mad, brilliant man, but you couldn't make an omelette if the universe depended on it,"
He moved so that his mouth was right next to her ear, close enough to notice the goose bumps raised by his breath on her skin.
"Actually, I was going to say that there are lots of things we could do right here in the TARDIS that wouldn't involve you moving very much at all,"
When he pulled back she was leering at him speculatively. Her tongue flicked out of her mouth and trailed a line of moisture across her lips. Then her smile shifted, becoming mischievous.
"You appear to rather enjoy being my knight in shining armour Doctor, "
He trailed a finger down her arm.
"It does have its advantages, yes,"
"And you haven't even gotten to the best bit yet,"
He returned his eyes to her face, suddenly suspicious.
"And what would that be?"
Her grin widened, and he recognised the look that she usually got right before she did something that caused him tremendous amounts of trouble. Again.
"Now, my dear Doctor, knightly tradition dictates that you carry me away to my boudoir, the route to which involves two miles of corridors followed by six flights of stairs."