but comforts we despise

Fool! Don't you see now that I could have poisoned you a

hundred times had I been able to live without you.


Staring at the maps in front of him he realizes that the distance is too far to go on foot, not considering the time-frame they are working with. Not that there was a ticking clock at the moment, they were in 102 A.D. which was nowhere near June 26th, 2010, but this message had been urgent enough for the TARDIS to contact River when he couldn't be reached. That speaks for itself, even if it raises questions he'd rather not ask at the moment.

The TARDIS exists everywhere, all at once in space and time. And his ship wasn't just a ship; she was a sentient, intelligent ship. And she'd rerouted that call to River. He'd had his doubts about trusting River Song the last time he'd encountered her, but this – this was a sign he can't ignore. The TARDIS trusts her. So should I. The implication is clear and he pushes up from the table, clearing his throat. "Well, we'll need transport of some kind." Amy snorts next to him and he glares at her, feeling mildly insulted.

"Of some kind? It's 102 A.D. Doctor! Only transport we're gonna get is on the back of a horse. Unless of course, River's convinced these Romans to carry her around. That wouldn't be a bad transport, on the backs of Roman, eh?" Amy winks at River and he waves his hands in front of her face.

"No, no, no, no, no! No riding Romans, Amy! You can't possibly-" He pauses, because she's looking at him with an arched brow and an excited grin, knowing that she's yet again gotten the best of him. Letting out the air in his lungs in a huff, he waves his hands about him. "Stop it. We'll need horses. Will the Romans spare them?" He looks back at the maps, studying them intently.

"Well, anything for their queen." River is the one to answer him and he waves a hand over his shoulder, mapping the path they need to take as best he can on the ancient maps.

"Well then make yourself useful and get us some." He is distracted, but not so distracted he can't feel the weight of her glare on his back.

"Make myself useful? Pardon me, Doctor but who gathered all the information and got you here in the first place? Get your own damn horses!" He can hear the irritation in her voice and he lifts his head, ready to respond when Amy places a hand on the back of his head and shoves it down.

"I'll go get the horses. No need to have a domestic about it you two. I'm sure I can convince these Romans to give me a horse or three somehow." She laughs lightly and he glances over his shoulder to see her standing by the tent door. She grins over at him and he sighs softly. "Love a Roman." She claps and looks from him to River and back again. "You two best have made up by the time I get back, you hear? I'll walk slow." With a wink she ducks under the tent flap and he stares after her, his mouth open. Honestly.

"Honestly." River's voice echoes his own thoughts so quickly he snaps his head back to look at her suspiciously. Her arms are crossed and she looks back at him evenly, one eyebrow arched. He stands awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders half-apologetically, though what exactly he's apologizing for, he's not sure. She sighs and reaches up, pulling her wig off and her hair tumbles out in such a riotous fashion, and he wonders how she had possibly contained it in the first place. "I'll need to change I suppose." She gestures as she speaks, and he glances down at her dress, noticing it for the first time since entering the tent.

He swallows heavily, how had he not noticed her dress? It was a lovely thing, cream and gold netting with an elaborate neckpiece and the lowest cut neckline he'd seen on her. She leans over his maps, placing her wig on the table and his eyes follow her movements avidly. When she pulls back, she notices and her laughter is a warm, merry sound – like music. Like a song, and he loves how appropriate that is. She crosses her arms again, leaning against the table and the movement presses her breasts up even higher, causing him to shift uncomfortably. "Doctor?"

He starts, jumping back slightly and dragging his gaze up to her face, surrounded by her usual golden curls. A smirk is curling the corners of her mouth, and the random thought of kissing it away pops into his head. It's such a surprising and unexpected thought that he shakes his head in an attempt to dislodge it, but it is stubborn and refuses to leave. In fact it leads to other shocking thoughts, following behind it in rapid succession. Images of his mouth against hers, his hands in all that lovely hair, questions of how her skin would taste, how it would feel pressed against his. Thoughts he hasn't entertained in years start twirling through his brain, faster and faster. Was her hair as soft as it looked? How would it feel brushing against his skin? His chest? Hips? Thighs? And then he imagines just how close she'd have to be for that, how close to certain... areas and he can feel a blush crawl across his skin.

"Doctor?" Her voice is an amused melody and he jumps again, because he's been staring. Again.

"What?" He practically shouts the word and her smirk blossoms into a grin. "I mean, sorry – didn't mean to shout. I just, ah – was thinking of something else." Her brows go up sceptically and he waves at the maps beside him, misjudging the distance and shoving them off the table to fall at her feet instead. "I mean, yes, maps. Those maps there. And distance and calculating how long it should take us to ride there and where is Amy with those horses? Horses. Great creatures, horses. You know I helped domesticate them a long, long time ago-" Her hand on his face stops his words mid-sentence and he stares at her in shock.

"That's all very nice sweetie, but we both know you figured all that out about fifteen minutes ago. But if it makes you more comfortable, we can pretend, honey. I need to get changed." She is speaking slowly, and he finds himself fascinated by the shapes her mouth is making as she draws the words out. He sways forward slightly and sighs softly.

"Did you know River, that Cleopatra wasn't the renowned beauty everyone said she was? Oh she was adequately lovely enough – but not the stunner everyone claimed she was. Plutarch – lovely chap by the way – said that what made her beautiful wasn't her face, but the sweetness in the tones of her voice." He has a point, but he's not sure she understands him because she is frowning up at him with a bemused expression. "What I mean is-"

"That you think my voice is the same. It's a lovely compliment, Doctor but you are missing the point. I need to get changed. In here. Right now. You're welcome to stay if you like, but Amy won't take forever about getting those horses, even if she is being deliberately slow to give us time to make up from our domestic, as she calls it." Her smile was infectious and he grins back, inordinately pleased that she's caught on to his meaning. He shouldn't feel surprised, really – this is the third time they've met in his timeline, and each and every time she shows him in one way or another that she is fully able to keep up with him, mentally speaking.

She stands and walks over to the corner of the room, pulling pants, boots, a shirt and jacket out of a bag by her bed. After some muttering and digging she finally pulls out a vest and her gun holster as well. The sight shouldn't make his insides quiver, but it does. She is bent over, hands in her bag and her cleavage is practically spilling out of that gown and he is struck by the simple beauty of her. She's gorgeous in a truly classical way, all curves and soft skin, bright eyes and lush curls. He should be leaving, but he is somehow rooted to the spot, quite unable to move.

She arches a brow at him, but shows no shame as she simply nods, reaching behind her to untie the neck adornment she is wearing. His hand brushes her curls aside and he is momentarily startled. He does not remember walking over to her, but she turns to allow him access and his fingers are taking over from hers, untangling the knot at the back of her neck swiftly. He drops the neckpiece to the bed and realizes it is unnaturally quiet in the tent. The sound of the soldiers outside is muffled, and could be non-existent for all he cares. He can hear her breathing, rapid and shallow and no matter how unaffected she is acting, it is clearly just that – an act. He looks down over her shoulder, admiring the view as his hands thread through her hair, pulling it back into place. The curls are soft against his hands – and he suddenly regrets touching them, because he knows now that he'll never stop. He never wants to.

"Doctor." Her voice is low and rough and just the sound of it sends a shiver crawling down his spine, tickling him in all the right ways. "How early is this for you?"

He doesn't want to tell her the truth, doesn't want her to stop him, so instead her moves her hair aside again, this time lowering his mouth to press a soft kiss on the nape of her neck. He feels an intense need to know her –as much and as well as he can at this point, so his tongue darts out, tasting her skin. She tastes like nothing he's ever tasted before. More than human, like electricity and time and possibility. She tastes like a mystery – one he may never figure out, and he thinks it is appropriate. Just right. She tastes perfect. She draws in a quick breath and her chest rises as he continues kissing around her neck, up to just below her ear and her curls tickle against his cheek as he flicks his tongue just behind her earlobe. His hands are at her hips now, pulling her back until she is flush against him, a sweet pressure in all the right areas. She gasps again, one hand lifting up to bury itself in his hair as she pulls him against her more securely.

He slides his hands across her stomach, moving them up slowly until they brush against her breasts and she hums in satisfaction, a smile crossing her face. He traces the edge of her décolletage with a finger, caressing the swell of her breasts as his other hand slides under her chin and tilts her face up and toward his. Her eyes are bright, burning with an emotion he does not want to name just yet, but enjoys basking in none the less. It makes him feel tingly – all warm and wobbly on the inside, and his hearts are beating a rapid tattoo against his ribcage. Her fingers in his hair tighten and she pulls his head down until her mouth meets his and oh. Her lips are soft, and her mouth is open beneath his, warm and wet and she tastes even better this way. He is grateful his hands are currently occupied, one still cupping her jaw and the other caressing her breast more firmly than before, because he is sure that the swirl of her tongue against his would cause him to lose control of them were they not already occupied.

She moans, a tiny whimper at the back of her throat and the sound shoots straight through him, his hips pressing forward as his body mindlessly seeks relief. When she pulls away he is astonished to hear a bereft noise come from him at the loss of contact. She turns in his arms, pulling him by the shoulders until they are pressed together again and his arms wrap around her almost of their own volition. He presses small kisses across her face, her eyebrows and eyelids, her nose – and she smiles broadly at that one so he does it again, three more times. He trails kisses across her cheeks and into her hair and she pushes him backwards until he falls on the bed and she crawls on top of him quickly, settling with a knee on either side of his hips. She lifts her skirt until it pools around them and he can feel the heat of her through his trousers and he groans when she slides along him slowly. "River."

Her name is whispered – like a prayer, like she really is a goddess above him, burning bright. She smiles and laces her fingers through his, supporting her upper body weight on his arms as she moves again, slow and delicious, friction shoots through his whole body until he feels like every inch of his skin is crackling with electricity. She leans over him, the ends of her hair brushing against his face and he stares up at her as if seeing her for the first time. And he is, in a way, seeing her for the first time without prejudice or fear or suspicion. Her face is alight, like she is burning from the inside out and he can see the love there and he feels his hearts pound harder in response. He wants that – he wants it all for himself. All of that intensity, all of that emotion – it is his. All for him and it makes him feel things he shouldn't feel for her just yet – not with so little knowledge at his disposal. But the TARDIS trusted her implicitly, and that counts for more than he'd care to admit.

She speaks his language and flies his spaceship and communicates with him on levels that he cannot even fathom, she is gorgeous and loyal and burns so brightly for him and he would be a terrible liar if he didn't admit that he was more than half in love with her already. In his last body he'd resented her imposition and her spoilers and her voice whispering his name in his ear, but in this body his hearts felt lighter – further away from the Time War and all it had entailed, all those scars and wounds finally healing. He thinks that maybe him now, this face, this body – he is her Doctor, the one she'd missed at the Library. "You're thinking too much." Her voice is a whisper against his ear and she presses her mouth against his, untangling their fingers so she could run her hands across his chest, pushing his coat open and sliding them under his braces teasingly.

When she pulls away he is breathless, and he sits up, pulling her against him while she giggles in a breathy voice. He decides that it is perhaps the best noise he has ever heard, and he lowers his head, pressing small kisses across the swell of her breasts while she pushes his tweed coat off of his shoulders, tossing it aside. His tongue is tracing the swell of one breast while her hands are unknotting his bowtie and throwing it behind her before she pulls down his braces and begins unbuttoning his shirt. When her hands are stroking the skin above both his hearts, he slides his own hands under the hem of her dress, stroking along her smooth thighs, up and over her hips and dragging her dress with them. She laughs and pulls back enough to lift her arms above her head with a mischievous smile and an encouraging nod.

He pauses for a moment, feeling like he isn't being truthful with her, as guilt burns within him. "River," he speaks in a low whisper and she meets his gaze with a soft smile.

"Yes, my love?" His hearts hitch at the endearment, unheard before this and as he presses his forehead against her sternum, he can hear the heavy thud of her heart and he kisses her there gently.

"We've never done this before." His voice is gentle, and she freezes in his arms, looking down at him with the saddest expression on her face. His hands tighten on her ribs and he lifts his head and kisses her fiercely. He thinks maybe he can make that expression disappear – erase it from time – with his lips and tongue alone. She moans softly, her mouth opening willingly under his, kissing him back with just as much passion until they are both out of breath and pressed against each other.

"We don't have to-" Her words sound reluctant, like she is pulling them forcefully from within herself and he shakes his head, his hands sliding up every so slowly until he pulls the dress over her head and it lands with a soft thump on the floor behind her.

"I want to. I just felt like I should tell you that." She is even more gorgeous now, completely nude and sitting astride him proudly. Her breasts are irresistible and he lifts his hands, cupping them gently, weighing each one in turn, his fingers stroking the skin softly, marvelling at the curve and lines of them, the softness at odds with the dark nipples that he rolls under his fingers. She makes inarticulate noises in the back of her throat, her head thrown back and her hair spilling down over her shoulders. He traces his hands along her sides, the indent of her waist and the flare of her hips. She is gorgeous.

She loops her arms over his shoulders, smiling down at him genuinely, and all the previous sadness is erased from her face. "Well I suppose I'll have to be gentle then won't I?" She teases in her throaty voice and he shivers in the cool air of the tent, releasing her just long enough to pull his own shirt off as she slides back and unbuttons his pants swiftly, dragging them down his hips and thighs as he kicks off his shoes. She pulls his pants off completely and then begins working her way back up his body on her hands and knees. Her back is arched and she presses kisses along his shins, his knees and his thighs, her arse wiggling delightfully with each movement. His eyes trace the line of her back, and he somehow completely misses where her mouth is until she takes him in hand and licks him from root to tip. He shoots up with a gasp, grasping her shoulders and dragging her up until he can kiss her. His fingers tangle in her hair and this kiss is more than passion, it is desperation, lips and teeth and tongue. He can't tell her moans and sighs from his anymore but her hips are dragging along his and he can feel the wetness and warmth of her above him.

He wants this to last forever. He wants it to be a careful study where he can lay her down and study the rise and fall of her body until her knows her skin like it is his own. He wants to trace her until he could draw her from memory, pencil sketches in his mind to keep with him for the rest of his days. But her mouth is desperate over his, and his hands are alternating between stroking down the strong muscles of her back and tangling in her hair while she rolls her hips over his, and her hands grip his shoulders for leverage. She is so warm, so warm it feels like she is burning above him and he is being lit on fire too. He wants all of everything, all at once – but they are in a tent surrounded by hundreds of Romans with a mystery to solve and his best friend outside waiting for them, thinking that they are doing goodness knows what in here. Maybe what they are doing.

Her skin is sticky against his and her hair is brushing his face and neck and she tastes like everything he's ever wanted and never wanted and always wanted all in one. He cannot control his body and his thighs tense as she rolls up, and his hips lift and suddenly without meaning to, he is sheathed within her and she is gasping against his mouth, and he doesn't regret a thing. "Save gentle for next time?" Her voice is breathless as she sits up, settling herself more firmly over him and seating him deeper within her and his hands clench around her hips so tightly he worries he'll leave a mark. He is beyond denying that the thought doesn't excite him more.

"Next time." He gasps the words out, and she braces her palms against his chest over his hearts and he stares down at them for a moment, marvelling at how small they seem right now. But he knows they are strong, capable hands – right now they are keeping his very hearts in his chest as she raises and lowers her hips over him, and he cannot think about anything anymore except the warm, wet feel of her all around him. He wants to bury himself within her so far that he is lost, so far that he finds every secret within her and cradles it within his hands. Her face is a contrast of bliss and concentration and with every roll of her hips he lifts his own, seeking to go further, go deeper with every stroke.

Her eyes meet his and he can feel his vision darken as his whole body tightens in anticipation. He thinks he can see entire galaxies being born behind her eyes, and his hands release her hips and rise to pull her close enough to him that the breath from her lungs passes into his. He kisses her softly then, slowly and it is out of sync with the frantic coupling of their lower bodies, but he feels like he is inside her in almost every way possible. And then she tilts her head forward just so and he can feel her mind too and it is – oh it is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. It is crystallized greys that sparkle with millions and millions of colours, it is so bright and so dark and so vast. It all wraps around him with one thought, one over ruling emotion and for a moment he sees himself within her – one perfect moment that seems to last forever, hanging in the air around them, making it heavy with the knowledge that time happens everywhere all at once, and this moment is literally endless in that sense – before everything shatters and he hears her name being ripped from his throat even as she whispers his name into his mouth, like a secret being passed from her to him.

When he becomes aware of himself again, she is laying across his chest, her hair tickling his shoulder as she presses small kisses into his throat. He can feel the chill of the air suddenly on his damp skin, but he is warm where she is covering him and he can feel her damp skin sticking to his as their hearts race in tandem. He feels alive in a way he hasn't in forever, colours seem brighter and his senses seem sharper. He laughs and the sound breaks around them, obscenely loud in the stillness. But she laughs with him, out of breath giggles as she lifts her head and presses a soft kiss to his forehead, pushing his hair back. His arms tighten around her, and she looks down at him with a soft expression. "What is it, sweetie?"

"I just – we don't need to get up right now, do we?" She laughs, pressing another kiss to his lips and he returns it eagerly.

"Well we do have some horses and a Pandorica to find, my love. Just think – if it's there, we'll be the first to discover it in centuries. Maybe even thousands of years." Her voice is warm and excited, spilling over him until he feels the anticipation creep into his hearts too. The thrill of the chase, the excitement of the mystery, the elation of the unknown. He loves this bit, and so does she clearly. He pushes his hands into her hair, watching the curls wrap around his fingers as he studies her face, her smile, her eyes glowing with purpose. And he knows then – it doesn't matter who or what she is, or even who she killed. Because she is all of those things, a chase, a mystery, the unknown – and he loves that. He loves her. And he is so infinitely glad for this moment, this one perfect endless moment that he can live and relive, over and over again. Time is endless. Time is his domain, and he will rule it, bend it to his will, just to keep her with him.

"Well then, I think it's been waiting long enough, don't you?" His grin is only matched in intensity by hers and he feels the truth of his emotion in his hearts. This was a love he could not repress, could not and would not wish away. She was a love story, written backwards, a twisted fairytale that their lives would be and had been built around. He wouldn't have it any other way.

They were endless.