A/N- Just a thought that came out of all my excess energy and sparked thoughts of River after A Good Man Goes to War. There aren't any spoilers, just a little drabble mainly from River's point of view on what it's like to live in reverse of the man she loves. A one-shot and probably a ridiculous one, but I hope it goes well. Sorry in advance if anything gets too OOC or weird!
River stared at the ceiling of her small cell. It was the same boring, grey stone as every other cell in Storm Cage and she'd given up in asking to paint it a more pleasant color.
"This color is so dreary, with something springy I could really warm up to this place. Maybe stay a while!" She'd shouted, smirking, whenever someone was in earshot. True it was a prison, but she barely saw it as one. The term 'imprisonment' was taken lightly in her case. The Doctor came and went, taking her with him on trips to far off galaxies and dangerous wars in the middle of space. They ran and fought and laughed side by side, pleased by just being together. Prison was more like a hotel or rented room than a punishment with him around to make things more interesting.
Though she loved these spur of the moment adventures with the Doctor, they had started to bring something else with them. Or rather, they lost something. Every new trip in the TARDIS seemed to be lacking. The Doctor was always missing a different memory or blanking out on the tender moments she held so dearly. Each day his knowledge of her faded ever so slightly and she had to force herself not to scream out in agony when he asked her about anything he should have known.
And it was agony. He was her best friend and her only lover. She could flirt endlessly and tease everyone, but she was his and she knew it. The thought of him forgetting her was what kept her up at night. Every failed memory of his felt like a shot to the heart and his confused expressions were as painful as if he were holding her close and sliding a knife through her ribs. It made her sick to the point where some days she would just sit in the corner of her cell, curled into a ball, dreading his arrival for the fear of what moments he had lost. He was her one true weakness, because she loved him beyond belief and it was already killing her.
Sighing, she whispered to herself in the darkness. "You kill a good man and he kills you a thousand times worse." She groaned. "What's fair in that?" Her bitterness started to come out after a few sleepless nights and it had been more than a few by now.
She twisted around on her uncomfortable bed and tugged at the thick sheet that served as her only blanket. The sound of a slow drip from the faucet blocked out her thoughts, reducing them to a dull crackling in the back of her mind. She had slipped into semi-consciousness at last when a loud whirring, scratching, one-of-a-kind noise broke through the silence of the prison, followed by a blaring alarm with flashing lights to match. Even the guards recognized that noise by now and she smiled despite her lost sleep and every thought she'd been having before.
The sheet flew off of her with amazing speed and she grabbed her diary from under the mattress. She was already bouncing anxiously behind the bars when he finally pushed open the TARDIS doors with his sonic screwdriver in hand. Her heart plummeted down in her stomach when she saw him. He'd explained everything, he had specifically warned her about this, but still she froze in disbelief. He wasn't the same Doctor.
He'd been a (quite handsome) ginger the last time she'd seen him, with shining blue eyes and an ever present smile on his freckled face. This Doctor had messy, black hair swinging in his eyes and he looked much too young and thin to be anywhere near the same man as before. Even his dress sense was out of whack with suspenders and a red bowtie beneath his tweed suit. He had surely seen her shock, but she tried to play it off. It still wasn't every day that she saw the man she loved, even a younger incarnation, and she couldn't let him know what would obviously become of him soon.
"Hello, sweetie! What took you so long this time? It is dreadfully boring here." He looked up and grinned at her. His foreign face lit up with familiar adoration.
"Sorry, love, I got caught up in some… stuff." She raised an eyebrow. "You know, universe-saving, time-repairing- the fun stuff!" He stayed smiling for a while until River cleared her throat expectantly. "Oh! Right!" He flailed his arms around comically before finally pointing the sonic at the cell's lock and disarming it with a chorus of buzzing and clicks. The sound of footsteps was echoing down the hall and she pushed past him quickly and into the TARDIS. She heard the door shut behind her, but she was busy trying not to pay attention to how different and crowded the control room seemed.
There were stairs for one. There hadn't been serious flights of stairs like this in her Doctor's console room. And then there were all the extra buttons. The console was absolutely jam-packed with buttons and screens, even a little extendable mirror dangled haphazardly on the edge. From the look of it, many of them were absolutely useless.
The arrangement must have reflected this Doctor's personality because out of the corner of her eye she watched him toss his jacket into a pile of period outfits from all different places in time. He was definitely the disorganized type. She pushed one of the random buttons and mariachi music started blasting through the speakers. He ran around and shut it off before the sound completely deafened her.
"Oops. You weren't supposed to know about that one." He blushed and slid around to the other side of the console. "So, are you ready for a romantic evening?" His voice echoed around as he began pulling levers and twisting knobs. She wasn't ready, but he was looking at her with a smile on his face and she couldn't help but nod. The noise coming from under the console didn't sound entirely right and she followed his path in the circle, quietly fixing his mistakes as she found them. He stopped moving, but she kept going and accidentally walked into his back. The Doctor smiled at her. "I love it when you do that." She stepped away a bit and narrowed her eyes at him.
"Do what? Walk into things or tell you you're wrong?" The sarcasm she used was doing a good job of hiding the turmoil he was causing within her. If she could pull off pretending things were normal, she should seriously get nominated for an award.
"When you let me act like I'm right." This cocky bit of him had carried over to her Doctor and she let herself smile for real.
"Well in that case I'll stop. Torturing you is what I live for!" He turned and stepped close to her and she felt how badly he wanted to kiss her. Normally she would eagerly accept, but today wasn't exactly normal. His lips were mere centimeters away when she spun suddenly and darted around to find the display screens. "So where are we going?" Something like sadness caught briefly in his expression before he switched back to cheerful and came to her side. He clicked off the screen before she could get a good look.
"That is a surprise." She groaned and made a face at him.
"You know I'm no good with surprises!"
"Aha! The first sign of weakness in Dr. Song? Scared of surprises?"
"I never said scared I just said 'No good'." She felt his hands find her waist and he whispered into her hair.
"No good, eh? Believe me, this'll be good." A shudder ran up her spine. By now she couldn't tell if it was anxiety or anticipation. The chemistry between them felt as good as ever and she wouldn't deny that she sort of liked this version of him. He must have looked so sweet to anyone else, but there was a layer of passion underneath just for her.
Someday soon it will be gone.
That thought broke through the spell of his breath on her neck and she twisted away again. She knew he would start to get suspicious soon and this teasing routine would get old for him quickly. River was at a disadvantage seeing as she had no idea how eager she'd be with him in the future. Perhaps by now she'd already be locked onto his lips, trying to tear his clothes off right here. That had happened on more than one occasion with the other Doctor and she wouldn't expect any less of herself when she grew to love this one. Hopefully he would understand.
His face fell again and this time a hint of his despair remained. She felt sympathetic knowing that she would be distraught if her Doctor had ever denied her like this. Then again she supposed he was her Doctor now and that meant that she was his River. These timelines were cruel.
The TARDIS jolted as they landed.
"We're here!" He tried to get himself back into his good mood, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. She hated doing that to him. She wished she hadn't refused him that kiss.
He held out his hand and looked into her eyes. They were begging, pleading for her to accept. Her head tilted to the side and she gave him a small smile, then she gave him her hand. The warmth and softness of it was distracting and she had to focus so as not to trip over anything as he dragged her down the stairs towards the door.
He paused with one hand hovering over the handle to create suspense.
"Are you ready to see where we are, River?" His eyes twinkled with mischief and she sighed loudly.
"No, sorry it seems I have to get back to my cell and fill my thumb-twiddling quota for the week." He shrugged and turned away.
"Alrighty then, let's get you back." She slapped his arm with her free hand.
"Of course I'm ready!" He smirked and poked her nose, a gesture that her other Doctor was quite fond of. It set her at ease in a strange way.
"Well you should've said!" He put his hand on the handle and pushed the door open.
Their destination was definitely Earth, but it was beautiful.
He'd taken her to a clearing in the middle of a huge forest somewhere. Trees towered to make a canopy over their heads and a bright full moon illuminated them in silver-blue light from a space up above. The sound of owls and other creatures of the night filled the space around them, making the whole thing seem wild and exciting all over again.
"Surprised?" He asked. She was speechless. She finally managed an awed smile and relpied.
"Surprisingly." Her hand was still locked in his and she was starting to feel the comfort from his touch. She could feel herself starting to accept him, bonding through the contact between their clasped hands. It was almost unreal how quickly her heart had moved on from the man she knew to the man she was with now. His shoulder nudged hers. He pointed farther into the clearing and she actually laughed.
"A picnic? You've really outdone yourself this time." Sure enough, there was a blanket rolled out across the grass. He reached back through the door and held up a basket.
"I made the food myself. Well it's really just sandwiches. I tried to make something more fitting, but I sort of… Set the kitchen on fire… Twice." This set her off, laughing hysterically, and when she finally caught her breath, he was staring into her eyes again. He was waiting for her to initiate a kiss, he wanted it desperately. Instead, she broke their stare and looked towards the blanket then back at him, grinning.
"Race you!" She shouted and started off running before he could process what she said.
"Not fair!" He called after her, jogging rather than trying to keep up with her. "I've got the basket to carry, you can't do that!"
"Since when am I fair?"
"Good point!" She fell onto the blanket and breathed in the cool air. She was glad she'd been wearing a sweater to bed, though it was still a bit embarrassing to meet this new Doctor for the first time in her pajamas. If he took notice or cared that she was still wearing olive-colored, prison-issue sweatpants, he didn't show it. He caught up and stood over her, half out of breath and still fake pouting. "You never were very fair."
"So I don't ever start? Good to know." He lowered himself down and sat beside her, digging through the basket. Finally, he pulled out a sandwich wrapped in plastic and handed it over.
"And for the main event, I made the best Earth-picnic-sandwich I could think of! It's got peanut butter and that marshmallow stuff some people like so much… and then I may have put something else in there too."
"What do you mean 'something else'? What else could you possibly have put with that?"
"Just try it. You'll like it, believe me." She shook her head and handed it back.
"I don't trust it." He gave her a look of horror.
"You don't trust me? But, River-"
"No! Not it's not you, I do trust you! I just… Don't have faith in your culinary skills." He looked relieved and then he unwrapped the sandwich.
"Technically I didn't 'cook' it and if you do trust me, then you'd let me feed it to you."
"Doctor I'm not-"
"Just let me feed the sandwich to you! That's romantic, right? Come on, River at least one bite. I tried some earlier and it's good, I swear!" This Doctor had an amazing pleading face and she cursed him for it silently.
"Fine, but if I get sick or end up with some weird stomach mutation I'm fully blaming you." He held up his hands and nodded.
"That's perfectly fair. Now, close your eyes."
"Close my eyes? Are you mental?"
"Shh. Don't argue, just close your eyes or I won't be able to do it with you all… looking at me." Of course. This one was definitely strange.
"Looking at you? Well that's a bit of a strange fear." His face stayed serious.
River closed her eyes reluctantly and waited. She could hear the crinkling of the sandwich bag and the Doctor swallowed nervously in the silence.
"Open." She did as she was told and stayed that way until she started giggling. "Hey! Stop that!"
"Sorry it's just a bit of a compromising position if you think about it. Wouldn't be the first time though."
"River! That's… Well actually sort of ho- No! Can't you just be quiet and let me feed you?" She was still stifling her laughter. The Doctor was amusing like this, all flustered and boyish, no doubt trying to stop fantasizing about her in his head.
"Yes, yes. Sorry. I'll be good… Unless you preferred me to be bad." He slapped her leg and she tried her hardest to calm down.
"Good. Now let's try this again. I'll be quick and DON'T YOU DARE SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THAT IT WAS JUST POOR PHRASING!" She nodded and opened her mouth again. This time he actually was quick, he set a chunk of the sandwich on her tongue and pulled back like she might bite him.
It did taste just like a regular sandwich. At first. Then the taste changed completely and it tasted like something gourmet, something delicious and exquisitely prepared. But it was also something completely new.
"Oh my god, what is that?" She opened her eyes and stared at him in awe. He smiled.
"Told you you'd like it." He handed the rest of the sandwich over to her and she savored it slowly. "It's a substance called Corsenth from a lost planet out in the Vexitraine galaxy." Her face must have been ridiculous, but she looked up at him like a child who'd just been told that Santa Claus wasn't real.
"Lost? But it's so good! Do you have more of it somewhere?" He bit his lip to stop from laughing at how funny she sounded with her mouth full of food.
"Of course you don't, that was stupid of me. If you did I'd have eaten it before. Sorry. The whole reverse timeline thing can get really confusing with stuff like this… Or I guess it's all the time really. You just learn to wait it out after a while." When she stopped talking there was an awkward void between them.
The Doctor was thinking hard on something, like he always was. She watched him from under her blonde curls as she ate the rest of the Corsenth, marshmallow and peanut butter sandwich. His face went through several stages of confusion and mental argument before he opened his mouth to speak.
"River," He started quietly. "You've never met me like this have you?"
"Not before today, no. But I can't say any more than that." He nodded. "I wasn't sure what to make of you earlier. I guess it's different but it still works."
"You do get used to me eventually. It's not always so awkward." She chuckled.
"I thought not. You looked at me earlier like you expected more from me. Sorry to be so distant."
"It's alright, for a while though you couldn't keep your hands off me." His cocky grin returned. He was relieved to know what was wrong, but she knew he was still waiting for something. When her sandwich was gone, River laid down on the blanket and curled onto her side, keeping her eyes trained on him while he wandered off in his head. This never changed at least, he was always everywhere and nowhere all at once. He looked so troubled.
"What are you thinking about?" Age flooded into his face and his eyes held pure grief and exhaustion. He stared at her sadly.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. "You're in pain because of me. I can feel it, that's how strong it is. God, River, I've been hurting you for so long haven't I?" This sudden revelation of his made her feel exposed and small. She curled tighter and shifted her gaze to the sky.
"It's alright. I probably deserve as much. Plus it's still amazing being with you. You can't have one part without the rest." The emotion inside her was being carefully sealed away. She was bracing for him to say anything that might hurt.
"Nobody deserves this. Especially not you." She sat upright and her gaze on him was intense.
"How do you know? How do you know what I deserve or what I've done?" It was building before she could stop it. "You barely know me. Every day it's less and less. You'll have no idea who I am someday and I'll still be stuck loving you. Do you have any idea what that's like? To have the only person you've ever loved forget bits and pieces of you? I've only just met this part of you and you love me so much, but there's so much missing! What's my favorite film?"
"I… I don't-"
"You did once. You've known everything about me and forgotten it just as fast. But I've always known everything about you. The first time I met you I learned your whole life, every dark secret, every beautiful, shining moment. You explained all of time and existence to me and I fell in love with you! You gave me the story of your life!" She pulled the diary from her sweater pocket and threw it at him. "I can't ever forget you and you can't even remember me!" Her screaming stopped suddenly and she sat breathing heavily on the other side of the blanket.
The Doctor had nothing to say. He came closer and put his arms around her shoulders, pulling her tightly into his chest. She pushed him and punched him, tearing herself away to slap him in the face. He put his hands on either side of her face and forced her to look into his eyes. She tried not to give in, she liked her anger and sarcasm better than the complete and utter heartbreak she was falling into. But his eyes bored deep into her, dousing the fire she'd been trying to feed. She broke down and pulled herself back into his arms. He rubbed her back, rocking her gently as she clung to him and began to sob onto his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, River. I'm so sorry. I trusted you with my life and you might not ever be able to forgive me, but I know I wouldn't ever for you to get hurt."
"But you could have stopped all this. It happens in your future. Why can't you just change it?" He sighed and kissed the top of her head.
"You know it's more complicated than that." River buried her face against his neck and breathed deeply. He smelled like warmth and time, if you could really identify the smell of time. The scent cleared her mind and soothed her raging thoughts. She frowned and adjusted her arms around his waist.
"It's not that complicated. You just don't want to."
"True. I could never change what happens if it might mean I would lose you." She made a noise of annoyance to cover up the flush of pride and affection she felt towards him.
"Well I was also concerned for the paradox I could create and the potential side effects of completely skewing two different time streams, but other than that, yeah." He smiled and she reached up to push a strand of stray hair out of his face.
"You know I think I really could get used to you."
"Oh don't worry." He took her hand in his and kissed it softly. "You will."
"Oooh you're a smooth one then aren't you?" He just shrugged and pulled her down onto the blanket with him. They stayed together under the moonlight, talking and teasing each other until River was so exhausted she could barely keep her eyes open.
"Doctor." She whispered, her head was on his shoulder and her eyes were closed, "We probably shouldn't stay here, it's even colder than before."
"It isn't that bad. I can hardly feel it at all."
"Show-off." It was more a breath than a word and he knew she would be fast asleep soon if he didn't bring her back to Storm Cage.
"Come one then, let's go." He pushed her up off his chest and held her while she tried to wake herself up. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather stay?"
"Nice try, but I've got to get back before they start to think I've busted out for good. They'd shoot me on sight if I ever really escaped."
"Not if I was around to save you. Like always." She smiled sleepily.
"Either way I can't stay."
"You do know that the TARDIS is a time machine, right?"
"And when was the last time she was ever actually on time?" He opened his mouth to argue and then thought better of it and said nothing. "Exactly. Take me home, Doctor." She held out her hands and he pulled her up from the blanket. She laced her fingers through his and they walked back to the TARDIS in comfortable silence. "What about the blanket and the rest of your picnicking equipment?"
"I'll be back for it later, I just want you to be back safe and sleeping first."
"Aw, that's very considerate of you. For once." River yawned while he opened up the doors and ushered her inside. "Oh she's kept it nice and warm in here."
"Yes well she approves of you. And who wouldn't?" The Doctor tried to make her sit down, but she followed the same routine as before, switching off certain buttons as he dashed around to turn them on. He smiled at this habit she was developing, one of the things that had always amused him in this past and her future. The trip was over all too quickly and he stood with her in front of her cell to say goodbye.
"Well this evening has been quite… interesting." Her smirk returned as she said it.
"Breakdowns can sometimes do you good." She shook her head slowly.
"I hope I never have to have another one." The look on his face wasn't very reassuring. "When will I see you again?"
"Time isn't something I ever monitored from your side. It's soon though. Definitely soon."
"And this won't have happened to you yet." He frowned apologetically.
"That's alright I guess, I'll just have to be sure to tease you extra hard to make up for it."
"Oh wow. Well a whole day of my life just made a lot more sense now." She laughed. His face was no longer foreign and she felt completely comfortable with him. It felt right.
"They'll be noticing I'm back soon so you'd better go. I wouldn't want them to hear you talking and lock you in the psych ward down there."
"I'm glad you assume I'd sound crazy!"
"Sweetie I don't assume, I know."
"In that case, thank you for the lovely evening and I think I'll be avoiding you from now on. I wouldn't want you to be associating with the lunatic." He turned to leave.
"Excuse me? Aren't you forgetting something?" She closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to his. His hands found their way to her lower back and she made no objection. He was holding back for her, keeping it short and sweet so he wouldn't scare her off, but it was absolutely perfect in her opinion. He tasted different, sweeter and his lips were soft. Reluctantly, the Doctor pulled back as an alarm started again through the cell block. River just sighed. "They never do learn the difference between breaking out and breaking in. Goodnight, Doctor."
"Goodnight, River." He slipped into the TARDIS and disappeared. She walked across from her cell and picked up the phone, holding down the speed dial number to the guard office.
"Hello there, this is Dr. Song… Yes. I was just wondering; Could you shut off that ridiculous alarm? Honestly, some of us here are trying to sleep. Thanks, love."
She went back to her cell and slid the bars shut. Her bed seemed more inviting now that her mind was at ease. With reassurances and the love of the Doctor washing through her, she curled under her sheet. And for the first time in ages, River Song slept soundly.