Disclaimer: the usual
Hello again! Update update update, here's a long one with characters who aren't just the Doctor and River. PLEASE tell me what you think, your opinion matters to me!
As always, thanks for the undeserved loyalty and please continue to read, review, and enjoy!
How to Disappear Completely-Radiohead
In a little while I'll be gone,
The moment's already passed.
Yeah it's gone and I'm not here.
This isn't happening;
I'm not here;
I'm not here.
A woman stood before them, a little shorter than River, with thick brown hair and big brown eyes you could drown in. Beside her was, the Doctor assumed, her boyfriend. He had a height of a good five or six inches above hers, with broad shoulders and a kind smile. Nothing marked them as extraordinarily remarkable, but if the Doctor had learned anything in his thousand or so years, it was that any and every person in the universe was extraordinary.
Sophie smiled. "And this is my boyfriend, John." She stuck out her arm and shook River's hand enthusiastically. "You two are amazing. I mean that. With the door-blasting and the gun-wielding and the bad guy-ass-kicking. Honestly, amazing."
River laughed and spun her alpha meson blaster in a circle before shoving it back into her utility belt. "Well, thank you. I'm River, and this-"
"-is the Doctor, yes, hello." He grinned, clapping his hands together. "I hate to be rude, but we're terribly busy, what with the whole mutiny and everything. So if you two lovely kids could just move along with the rest of the crowd to the nearest beam-me-up station, you'll be safe back home in no time. On you go!"
He reached forwards to pull the brunette in the direction of the exiting crowd, but she slapped his hand away with a sharp smack. Her boyfriend laughed, and clapped the Doctor on his back. "Sorry mate, you're not going to reason with her. The woman's impossible."
Sophie rolled her eyes, but not without affection.
River flashed the other woman a smile, motioning towards the Doctor. "Oh don't worry, darling, he knows all about impossible women."
A grin. "Is there anything we can do to help?"
The Doctor sighed, glanced at a smirking River, then turned his attention back to the couple. "What do you two know about spaceship schematics?"
"A lot, actually," John piped up. The Doctor gave him a curious stare, and watched as the man blushed a faint shade of red. "What? I'm a ship mechanic, I fix and fiddle with engines. Nothing like a good bit of hands-on tinkering."
The bow-tie wearer laughed. "I think I like you."
After a short exchange of basic communicators and plans, the group split up. The two women were to find the ship's mainframe control area while the men discovered the engine room and set about re-wiring the communications array. Once the Doctor had full control of the electrics, River and Sophie had the task of calming down the feuding crew members and higher-ups.
The Doctor and John found the engine room without much difficulty, and they both discovered they enjoyed the other's company. Often traveling with women, the Doctor forgot how much he delighted in another man now and then, and John was anything but difficult to get along with. The man, though still relatively young in his years, could strike up a conversation about anything with the knowledge of an expert. The Doctor wasn't far from wondering if he should ask River if she would mind the couple's company for a few trips.
River and Sophie met their task with a few more obstacles; the panicking passengers did little to calm the pair's anxiety, though the dazed masses did allow for easier access to the primary flight deck. When the women reached the door, River slid out her gun and aimed it at the doorknob. With a wry smile at her companion, she fired one shot and burst in through the smoking lock.
"How the hell did you get in-" One particularly burly-looking crew member stared straight at the two women, then the gun, then the broken lock. "And what are you two girls doing in here?"
Sophie glanced around the room, hiding her fear with a feigned yawn. Oh, River liked her. "Oh, is this the flight deck? Sorry, thought it was the ladies room. You know how us girls are, we get ever so confused."
River cocked her hip to the side, and flashed the room the grandest smile she could muster. "Well boys, as much as I love the whole display of masculinity, I really do, I think we ought to talk this little spat out before it turns into something really nasty."
The man barked a gruff laugh, pointing behind at one of his men to move towards the women. "Listen ladies, I don't know who you think you are, but this is my turf. The flight deck's no place for a woman neither, no matter how pretty her little lips are." He grinned. "Who knows, though, might be I have a better place for you two birds to hang out in. Namely, my quarters. Boys, restrain them."
Four men came towards them, wielding guns and balled-up fists. Sophie let out a small squeak before ducking to the ground, allowing for River to stretch and take them on with a flirtatious smile. "Come and get me, boys," she called out.
Sophie rolled herself into a ball to take up as little space as possible as River whirled around, dodging and punching and rolling from move to move with expert ease. She blocked a punch, hooked one of the men square in the jaw, and spun a kick that sent two of the four sprawled back and far away from their weapons.
One spit out a bloody tooth and lunged at her, fists primed and ready. But River was more than ready, and she dodged his lunge with a quick kick and well-placed punch that knocked the man unconscious. She had just enough time to switch her gun's settings to stun before another one barreled towards her, and River only had to point and shoot to have that one writhing on the ground, then sober and still to a temporary state of paralysis.
The other two exchanged a look and surrounded her, but before River could retaliate they spun towards her, guns about to set off rounds. Sophie bit her lip and flexed her legs forward, tripping one of the men so that his shots missed River and hit his cohort. Sophie stood up quickly and picked up the singed doorknob from the ground, holding it out in front of her as if it were a knife.
The man laughed, and pointed to his wounded men. "Let's talk, you say. Let's not have this escalate, you say. Well I say no more."
"Nice move there, Sophie," River smiled, completely ignoring the raging man standing mere meters away. "Never underestimate a girl in heels."
Sophie grinned shyly, and nodded towards the man. "So, what's got you so worked up, anyways?"
"People like you," he growled. "People who march into someone else's world and stake claims to things that don't belong to them."
River rolled her eyes. "Listen, I'd love to hear you ramble on about trifles for who knows how long, but I already have a man in my life who does that better than well. In fact, he is, at the moment, disarming your communications system and taking charge of the PA speakers to instruct the rest of the people aboard this ship the easiest, safest way home. So, all that's left to deal with here is you."
"Women," he snarled. "Think they know everything."
Something clicked in her mind and Sophie lowered her makeshift weapon, offering him a sad smile. "Have you ever been in love?"
Something flashed through his eyes then, a flicker of either light or darkness, before the ship's floor gave a sharp jolt that sent them sprawling on all fours. Feedback bristled the speakers before a young, determined voice came on the systems.
"Hello? Hello? It's the Doctor speaking, yes hello everyone, and mind you that's the Doctor. And no, there's no name to go along with that, if it's the same to you. But that's beside the point; I hear there's a mutiny on board. Now listen old chums, I'm all for rising up and empowerment, but it's different when somebody gets hurt. There are hundreds of people on board this ship, and I'm not leaving until every single person is safe at home drinking tea with their loved ones. And-" he paused, took a breath. "So, if you all could proceed to move towards the loading docks, I've got rescue ships dispatched to come take you all home in a few minutes."
River smiled to herself, raising herself from the ground and dusting off her clothes. Sophie gaped, awed by the sheer resolve that dripped from the Doctor's every word.
"Two of the most brilliant women ever known to have existed are currently, I'm sure, working out a few peace talks to make sure this doesn't happen again any time soon. Brilliant, lovely, nice hair - the very epitome of femme fatale-"
"Oh I hate you," River said, staring up at the ceiling.
A smile pervaded the voice. "-you don't, and so if you could all just walk calmly and quickly to the nearest exit, you'll be fine. River, Sophie: John and I will be with you in a few moments. River, keep that gun on stun. I won't be having any casualties today."
And then the voice was gone, and Sophie was coughing, hitting her chest with one fist. River tied her hair back into a ponytail and glanced over at the man from earlier, struggling to get to his feet. A small trail of blood leaked from one side of his stomach and River rushed forward, one hand on her gun, to offer her shoulder for him to lean on.
He grimaced, pushing her away, before almost falling back to the floor. River caught him before he could hit the ground and, despite his protests, helped him to a chair.
Sophie took off her jacket and walked over to help, wrapping it around the bleeding injury. He faintly pushed her hands away but she ignored him, bandaging the wound until it was no longer pulsing blood. River walked over to the shocked crew members, whispered something in each of their ears, and chuckled as they each turned bright red and fled the deck.
Sophie brushed the man's hair off his forehead, wiping away the forming sweat. "Don't worry," she said softly. "It's going to be okay."
"Get away," he growled, less fierce than before. "I don't want your help."
"But you need it," River said, coldly. "Now," she began, softer. "Let's talk about how we got here in the first place."
He frowned. "What's it to you?"
"Because people have died, that's why," came the booming answer from the entranceway. The Doctor stood, hands on hips, tall and proud and heroic. River ignored the girlish, excited flutter that spiked in her stomach and stood up straight, beckoning the men forwards.
"The Doctor, I assume," the man mused. "Why, you're nothing but a kid."
The Doctor shook his head, took a few steps into the room. "I'm really not, you know."
"Sophie," John breathed out, and made to come closer but Sophie shook her head, something unreadable passing through her eyes. "You're all right?"
"I'm fine, John," Sophie nodded. "But he's not."
River walked over to the Doctor and lay a gentle hand on his sleeve. He searched her eyes for something, brought his hand to her cheek, and smiled apologetically. "It's not the best of dates, I'll give you that."
River laughed. "You can make it up to me later."
He reddened, straightened his bow-tie, and walked over to Sophie and the wounded man. "Nice to see you again, Sophie."
The man coughed, a little blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. "Are you done with your courtesies, or should I wait to die from old age?"
The Doctor frowned and moved to stand in front of him. "Why?"
"You killed the captain. Why?"
He coughed again, and Sophie rushed to wipe up the blood, eyes brimming with tears. "He was a bastard."
"So you killed him?" Tone dry, unforgiving.
"I killed the son of a bitch because he stole my woman."
River rolled her eyes, her fingers flexing over her gun. "Because us ladies are just so passive, and we don't have any say in who we love or-"
The Doctor sent her a look that quieted her immediately, but not without a huff of exasperation. Sophie glanced over at John before looking back down at the man in her arms, stroking his hair. The man noticed and meant to say something before looking into her eyes and shoving her violently away.
"She was trying to help you," the Doctor said, cooly. "Which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for myself at the moment."
"I don't need a woman's help." He spat out the word like a curse, an insult, and Sophie flinched as if he had struck her.
John gave her an inquisitive look. "Sophie, what's wrong?"
She walked over to her lover, wrapping her arms around his waist. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and sighed. He placed his hand on the small of her back and drew gentle circles.
River swallowed down her discomfort from the intimacy of the moment and turned back to the Doctor. "What are we going to do?"
The Doctor shifted his attention to her, away from the hurting man on the chair, and Sophie let out a small gasp at the sheer love the Doctor's gaze held. He looked at River with an infinite amount of tenderness, and his aged, timeless eyes spoke volumes to the curly-haired woman standing before him. John noticed too, and kissed the top of Sophie's forehead.
The man grunted, calling all of their attention back to him. "This is your fault, you know."
The Doctor furrowed his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"
"My stomach, the blood loss..." he trailed off. "Peace, you say. I say, give me a few minutes."
And just like that Sophie was at his side once more, fixing the bandage. Her fingers wound and unwound the fabric as quickly as they could before he hit her hands away again, spitting in her face. "I don't want help from whores like you," he growled.
John rushed to the chair, fists up. "What did you call her?"
The Doctor held his hands up carefully, trying to diffuse the tension with a strained, pained voice. "Come now, party's over. He's dying, let him have his peace."
John ignored him. "What did you call her?"
Sophie put her hand on his arm in an attempt to calm him down. "Darling, please."
The man laughed cruelly.
River shot at the ceiling, causing silence to settle throughout the room. All eyes focused on her, but River was only looking at the man in the chair. "What's your name?" she asked.
His eyes widened, and he set his jaw. "What's in a name?" he mused, dryly.
Sophie placed her hand on his shoulder, trying again to reach some deeply-hidden kindness, but he swatted her arm away, harder this time. The blow sent her reeling, and she hit the ground with an alarmingly hard smack.
"How dare you touch her!" John cried out, punching him in the stomach.
"John!" The Doctor shouted, watching as River rushed to the other woman's side, checking for injury. River shook her head, waving away the Doctor's worry. "John, step away from him."
John wound up, punching him again.
The man spit out blood, laughing. "Fool. She'll only leave you."
John made to hit him again but this time he was ready, and wrenched the hidden gun up from his side and shot once, twice, flat in John's chest.
He stumbled back, clutching his torso, as River snapped into action and kicked the gun away, only to look down and see the man draw his last breath. She stepped away in disgust as the Doctor stepped forward, checking for signs of life. "No no no," he whispered. "Not today, not anymore."
River turned to check on John and bit her cheek when she saw him paling, saw the angle at which the bullets had entered. She glanced at Sophie and shook her head sadly.
Sophie crawled over to John, fighting her bruises. "You're hurt," she whispered, stroking his cheek.
He winced. "You are too."
She shook her head and kept on stroking his face. "I'll live."
He laughed, despite the blood seeping out of his chest. "I don't think I will."
Sophie kissed his forehead, ignoring the tears that stung her eyes like a prick to the finger. She smoothed small circles on his skin, tracing letters of love over a thin film of sweat. "Don't say things like that. Not to me."
River reached for the Doctor's hand, and squeezed.
Sophie took John's face in her hands, looking him squarely in the eye. "You're going to get through this. I'm not ready to let you go."
John managed a crooked smile. "Never can bear to lose a battle, can you?"
"I don't want you to," she croaked, fighting back a sob. "Win. Win for me, John. Beat death. If anyone can do it, it's you. I know you, and you aren't giving up."
He lifted a hand to her shoulder, not without effort. "Giving in isn't the same as giving up."
A tear splattered onto his chest. "It is for me."
River held back a gasp and looked over to the dead man, to distract herself from the pain before her. She had witnessed enough death and calamity to last her a lifetime. She took off the man's shirt and covered his face, her own stoic and impassive.
The Doctor wavered, unsure of what to do, and looked to River for help. She smiled sadly and motioned for him to move farther away from the couple.
"Sophie, I need you to know, before I go-"
"-don't talk like that, John, don't give in."
He grimaced. "I'm sorry, I haven't yet learned how to command my body to fix lethal wounds."
"Lethal," she choked, kissing his hair.
"Sophie," he mumbled, reaching up to fix her gaze with his. "I love you. And I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. And I guess I will have."
Tears wet her cheek and spilled onto his chest, mixing with cotton. "John," she whispered. "Please."
"Promise me you'll find someone else."
River closed her eyes, curling her body into the Doctor's side, and waited for the tide to pass. The Doctor, in a rare moment of possessiveness, placed one hand on the small of her back and shifted his arms around her, tucking his chin on top of her bed of curls. It took River a moment to realize the tears on her cheek were not her own.
Sophie choked back another sob. "John, don't ask me to do that."
He managed a cheeky grin. "I won't have you turn yourself into a crazy old cat lady. Not on my watch."
She let out a strangled, pained laugh.
"I love you, Sophie," he said weakly, weaker than before. "And don't keep yourself from loving someone else." He nodded towards the Doctor and River, smiling painfully. "Take good care of her, Doctor. And don't wait until your deathbed to let her know how much you love her. Besides, she already knows."
River snorted into his chest, smiling into the cotton of his shirt.
Sophie stroked his cheek again, crying. "I love you, John. I always will."
He smiled, and with his last stroke of effort, brushed his fingertips against her cheek. "Don't forget me."
"Never," she whispered, but he was already gone.
She collapsed on top of him, cradling him in her arms. The Doctor tightened his hold on River, nearly choking her, and she hugged him back just as tightly.
The next couple of hours went by in a daze. Sophie, all cried out, watched with a face of stone as crew members took John away on a stretcher. River and the Doctor offered her a ride home but she denied them, opting instead to take a private shuttle. They said their goodbyes uncomfortably, neither knowing what exactly to say to Sophie. She didn't seem to hear what they were saying anyways, though, and so the couple trudged back to the TARDIS, hand-in-hand, with a weight on their hearts.
When the doors shut safely behind them and the old girl was sent hurtling through the vortex, River and the Doctor rushed to each other, ripping off clothing and kissing each other fiercely. They barely made it to his bed before collapsing onto each other, pulling and pushing and stroking and weeping.
Tears greeted their kisses and ran down their skin, blending with the joining of their bodies and speaking the truths neither could bear to say.
They held each other that night without ever saying a word