the star to every wandering bark

"Well it took you long enough." His voice is an impatient exclamation that she hears before the smoke has even cleared her vision, and she's fairly certain the static electricity is still arcing in the air around her, a pleasant hum on her skin. She sighs, because he has no patience whatsoever, and also – time travel. He hasn't even had to wait.

"I had to explain things to Amy and Rory – awkward, by the way. And I'm fairly certain she is incredibly angry with you right now, just so you know. Took Vastra and Jenny back to their time, which gave Amy and Rory some time to cool off and absorb everything, went back and take them back to Leadworth. There was tea and uncomfortable silences, Doctor." She runs a hand through her hair in exasperation before dropping it to her hip as she turns her glare on to the man before her, casually leaning against the wooden doors of his impossible blue box with a grin still plastered across his face. "They asked all sorts of questions I couldn't, or didn't want to answer. I was in Leadworth for almost four hours. Do you know how tedious that was?"

"That village is dull, I know. Try being stuck there sometime. Nothing but old people who want to eat you and even then you welcome that – because at least it's something to do. Not that any of that was strictly real of course – but it was my dream and I'm sure it's just as dull as I imagined it to be." His voice is excited, his face still alight from when she last saw him hours ago. She is sure it has in fact been only minutes for him. "What did you tell them? Amy and Rory? Your parents. Ha! Your parents!" He giggles a bit at that and she walks over to him slowly, shaking her head in amusement.

"The truth. Who I was. That you'd take care of me." She sighs at that and looks to the left, remembering. When she looks up again, he is standing in front of her, looking down at her like he's never seen anything like her before in his life. Which, she supposes – he hasn't. His hands lift and hover in the space around her awkwardly.

"Do I? Take care of you?" His question is soft and she smiles softly up at him, stepping closer until she is inches from him. She's known about this moment for a long time now, whispered stories in her ear as he lay beside her younger self. He'd told her fairy tales of the hows and whys of their relationship, pressed kisses to her skin and whispered secrets of the future. Non-interference. She laughs under her breath, because she knows he has and will break almost every rule about time when it came to she and him. He'd begun doing it before he'd even known he was doing it for her.

"Eventually." She finally responds to his question and his eyes darken, so she lifts a hand and smoothes his bowtie gently. She smiles at the action, and glances back into his eyes. "Some things can't be changed."

"I wish..." his voice trails off as he looks down at her, his face wistful and delighted all at once.

"Sometimes I do too. But not at the expense of my entire past, Doctor. It would change everything. If you found me now." His hands twitch again, as if he wants to touch her but stops himself. So as usual, she takes care of it herself, taking his hand in both of her own as she watches his face closely. The elation will wear off eventually, she knows. The utter joy of who and what she is will settle in to his soul, and he will begin to realize what exactly it means.

"I have to tell them – how will I ever explain that River? That they can't have Melody back? Won't ever get her back?" He stares down at their hands, sudden pain flashing across his face. It's subtle and buried deep, but she can see it plain as day. She swallows and presses his hand more tightly between her own.

"I don't know. That's your choice to make, my love." He looks up at her sharply, his inhale of breath sharp and jagged as his eyes search her face. It is his choice and he has to see that for himself, much as she made her own choice all those forevers ago. She's never regretted a moment of her life, not even the very bad, very terrible ones. There have been moments in her long life when she was sure she was better off any other way than the way she was, but every moment meant something. And every scar and wound, real or imagined, helped build her. It was who she was. And she could not live in regret about those facts.

"Not my choice – don't make it my choice, River. You have to tell me-" His hand leaves hers and he moves with purpose now, both of his hands framing around curls as he pulls her close enough that her chest brushes against his. She can feel his breath on her face and his eyes plead with her. "Tell me what you want."

She swallows and her hands rise between them to rest at his waist lightly. "I can't. I can't even tell you what was for me, because you and I both know that means nothing. There a thousand different ways you could re-write all of that right now. The question is – will you?"

He drops his head slightly, resting his forehead against hers and she can feel him then – bright and burning blue against her mind. She doesn't try to see – not really and even if she did, he'd shield what she shouldn't see just like she's always done to him. But she can feel him there, cold and bright, a gentle brush that is more intimate than any physical moment they could ever share. She's quite fond of the physical too though – a combination of the two was always best. After all why include the touch part of touch telepathy if they weren't meant to touch in every way possible while doing it?

His mind is like a fresh snow fall. Beautiful and wonderful, simple and unendingly complex. It can be deadly, or it can be something to admire. Sometimes it is both. She lets him feel her own mind, dark and warm and rushing with constant thought and movement. She feels his breathing change, rapid shallow bursts across her face as his hands tighten. "Oh River..." he breathes her name out like it is part of the air that was in his lungs, something that sustains him. His fists unclench and she is left with a tingling in her scalp and his fingers combing through her hair as he lifts his head and looks down at her in awe. Guilt burns just behind that emotion and she sees it, and lifts her own hands to brush against his face gently so she can feel it. "I'm sorry." Moisture gathers in his eyes as he stares at her and she smiles brightly – bright enough for the both of them.

"I'm not." She whispers the confession to him, but she lets him feel all of it far more sharply with her touch and he nods in acknowledgement, the awe edging out the guilt once again. He returns her smile and pulls her face closer until his mouth meets hers and then she is kissing him, and it is tongues and teeth and she can sense the repressed tension and desperation and pure and utter joy within him. She wonders what he can feel within her – devotion? Contentment? Loyalty or faith or love? She can sense his emotions but she often wishes she could sense how he perceives her. Telepathy has its uses, and she employs them liberally of course, but sometimes even this is never close enough. She wants to crawl inside his mind, and see what he sees. Feel what he feels, not just what he is feeling. There is a difference that is tricky to explain.

When he pulls back he looks at her with a smile that is sadder than any other that has preceded it. His hand slips from her hair to brush against her face gently and he pulls her closer until she is pressed against him, hip to toe. "I'm a bastard, a selfish bastard and they are going to hate me for this."

His eyes close and his choice is made, and her hearts soar in her chest as her smile spreads. She can't feel sad or guilty about it, even though she loves Amy and Rory dearly. She loves them in a different way, different to the way that she loves the man in front of her, and she cannot bring herself to regret that fact. Her life is what it is. But she hates the thought of him hurting, so she presses her hands to his face, stroking gently and reaching out to him in a way only they can fully understand. His breathing hitches and he opens his eyes to stare down at her. "You – that's you, isn't it? I can feel you – River. How – how much like me are you? What can you do?" She smiles enigmatically, pulling her hands away and reaching up to remove her earrings and drop them into her utility belt. Bio-dampeners, worn at his insistence and as soon as she removes them he inhales sharply, staring down at her in shock.

"You tell me." Her voice is low and rough and he is pressing his face into her neck, inhaling deeply like she is more vital than oxygen. She feels his tongue against her skin, warm and wet and she shivers in response as he lays it over her pulse point, which is jumping in a rapid rhythm. His hands slide down to rest above her breasts and he lifts his head.

"You're perfect." He breathes the words out, and she smiles indulgently, shaking her head.

"Not even nearly, my love." His hands run up and over her shoulders and he pulls her in, hugging her tightly to him, his arms like a vice around her. Inescapable – as if she ever would want to attempt escape. He holds her like he fears that she might, but she simply wraps her arms around his back and smoothes her palms flat over the rough tweed of his jacket. He lifts her and spins, and she laughs at his returned giddiness. When she slides to the floor again he kisses her on the way down, his mouth warm and insistent over hers as he walks her backwards until she hits the warm wooden doors of the TARDIS, who vibrates gently in recognition. She can feel his hands behind her waist, fumbling for the door and she pulls back with a laugh. "Just snap," she mutters in between pressing kisses down the long column of his neck, licking the underside of his jaw – oh how she loves his jaw – as he lifts a hand and snaps and the doors fall open behind her.

She almost falls backwards, but his hands are at her waist even as she is stepping into the TARDIS, pushing his coat onto the floor in a heap as he kicks the doors shut behind them, muttering apologies to the old girl. His mouth returns to hers immediately and his hands shift restlessly from her hair to shoulders to waist and back again. She laughs, her own hands sliding under his braces with purpose as he emits a surprised squeak that gets caught up in her mouth. They've barely moved into the console room, really, he's just backed her into the wall next to the door, but she doesn't mind, and she can feel the ship sing underneath her back as his hands finally settle in one spot, one on the side of her neck and one tangled in her hair. He is breathless when he pulls back, but still grinning as he looks down at her.

She grins in response, and when he leans in to kiss her this time, it is slower. His lips and tongue move against her own with deliberation, and she feels a warmth unspool within her as she pulls the tails of his shirt out of his pants and slides her hands up the soft skin of his back. She wraps her tongue around his, and embraces his mind with hers at the same time. He moans and the sound is low and guttural and it swirls through her, tingling and pulsing the whole way.

She can feel his wonder and awe, and she knows that he can feel her own mind, filled to bursting with him and time and space and love. He gasps and pulls back, his hands lowering to trace along the lines of her body as he stares at her. "River," he whispers her name, and she loves that – always has, always will. The way he rolls the vowels and stretches them out, he's said it the same in every incarnation. Like he's trawling her very name for the essence of her soul and he can find it just by dragging his way through the vowels and consonants. "River, River, oh River." His mouth drags across her cheek and he presses light kisses across her jaw and down her neck while her hands slip from under his shirt so she can unbutton it quickly before stripping that from his shoulders too.

He lifts his head with a frown, before his hands move to her belt, unclipping it and letting it fall to the floor behind her. He smoothes his hands up her sides experimentally, thumbs brushing over the swell of her breasts and she smiles. She brushes her own hands across his chest, leaning forward to press a kiss to his shoulder, dragging her teeth across his clavicle as he hisses softly in her ear and his fumbling fingers finally latch on to the zip on the front of her dress. He slides it down, excruciatingly slow and she licks against his throat, touching her mind to his once again and letting him feel her impatience.

He chuckles softly, turning his head to press a kiss to her hair as his hands inch down, pulling the fabric of her dress up and bunching it in his fists until he has it around her waist. She leans back, lifting her arm as he pushes it up her body slowly, pausing to look at her ever few moments, so he can study the skin that's being revealed intently.

He's learning as he goes, she realizes, filing it all away, mapping every square inch of her skin and memorizing the way the warm glow of the TARDIS lights hit her. "Doctor." Her voice is an impatient warning, and he grins, pulling the dress off in one smooth move before dropping it beside them. His hands cover her quickly, large palms soft against the smooth skin of her stomach, and she can feel her muscles quiver under his touch. She leans back until she can feel the warm metal of the wall behind her, humming constantly against her skin. When his large hands slide over her ribs, fingers counting each bone until he cups the weight of her breasts in each hand, she moans and presses her own hands into the wall behind her.

"River Song," his voice is an awed whisper and his thumbs brush over her nipples, causing her hips to surge forward, seeking some source of friction against the unfulfilled places within her. "born of the vortex and the TARDIS herself. Miraculous." He breaths the words out, his head lowering to press kisses along her shoulders as he rolls his fingers over her skin, testing her for reactions.

"I'm not a miracle." She points this out in a voice that is low and raw, and he lifts his head once more, his gaze dragging down over her body before he looks back up at her.

"I beg to differ. Time runs through you, River, I can feel it. Your mind, your hearts – I sense it all, just with one touch. It's heady. It's addicting." His hands begin to run over her again and she lifts her hands from the wall and reaches for the button on his trousers. She toes her boots off, kicking them aside even as she lowers the zip and slides eager hands inside the front of his pants and his hips buck under her touch. "River. How do I ever keep my hands off of you?" Her name is gasped out, his own hands divesting her of her tights and knickers quickly, shoving them down far enough for her to kick off. She slides her palm against the length of him, shoving his trousers down as far as she can before wrapping her hand around him and revelling in the feel of him there, pulsing and heavy in her palm but silky and oh so sensitive to her touch as she brushes a thumb over the head.

He hisses and she laughs, sliding her other hand around and up his back until she can bury her fingers in his hair – his ridiculous, wonderful hair and drags his face down to hers. "You don't, sweetie. We touch whenever we can, always. It's more than just skin with us, you know that." She breathes the words across his lips, and then he surges forward, kissing her. She slides her hand along him until she feels the soft skin of his belly below her knuckles. His hands are gripping her hips tightly, pushing her into the wall, as if pinning her down like that will still her movements. She reaches for him with her mind, and he meets her with his own, light and dark bleeding into one another until she is joined with him far more intimately than any physical movement could accomplish.

He pulls his mouth away from hers to breathe and she releases him as his forearms tense and he pushes her up against the wall with ease. He is pressed against her, and she delights in the feel of her skin sliding against his as he lifts her. Her breasts brush his chest and her legs lift to wrap around his narrow waist, and she can feel him beneath her. He freezes, his hands shifting, one to slide underneath her and support her weight while the other slips between them to brush against her gently while she gasps.

All this time she feels his mind, his warm giddy delight and cool analytical thoughts as he slides two long fingers within her and curls them just enough that her hips soar toward him, her lower back pressing into the metal wall behind her for leverage. His grin is smug, and she wants to slap it off of him so she braces one hand against his shoulder and buries the other in his hair, lifting her chest and tugging his head down.

He's always been an excellent multi-tasker when the situation called for it, and he swirls his tongue over and under her breast without stopping the twirl of his fingers inside her, in and out and out and in. His thumb presses against her clit and she presses as much of her skin against his as she can, before opening the floodgates of her mind and letting him feel everything – every heart beat, every thrilling tingle, every buzzing arc, every molecule of her vibrating from his touch, his mouth, his everything. It is like a building storm, electric and swelling within her and his breathing speeds up in time with hers. He pulls a nipple into his mouth, his tongue sweeping across the tip as his fingers reach further within her and his thumb presses down harder, sliding over the slippery folds and grinding against the nerve endings there. She can't even think coherently, it is more like bursts of colour across their shared mind, and she pushes her hips forward when he begins to show her; how she tastes - the sweetness of her skin and the salt of her sweat, how she feels – warm and hot and hot and so very wet around his fingertips. It is a feedback loop between them because she gives as good as she gets, pulling him by his hair until she can kiss him savagely, her teeth scraping across his lower lip until she tastes the metallic tang of blood. She shows him how he feels inside of her, delicious and cool and electric; and she shows him how she still aches, unfulfilled in spite of him inside her in almost every way possible. He moans into her mouth, sliding his fingers out of her as she whimpers and lifts her hips, aligning their bodies.

She slides down over him with practised ease, and his hips surge forward, pinning her to the wall even as he adjusts the arm under her arse to lift her higher. His other hand has moved up to settle on the side of her neck as he pull his hips back before surging forward once more. She tears her mouth from his, turning her head so she can breathe, and he presses his forehead against her temple, his hand creeping up into her hair as his hips surge and recede below. She loves the feel of him within her; it's something almost indescribable – how full and complete she feels. She shows him that, shows him the way all of these sensations are peaking within her even as he is wrapping himself up within her, body and mind.

His movements start to become erratic, his hips snapping jerkily against hers as her fingers dig into his shoulder and he presses open mouthed kisses to her ear and jaw, their hands clenched in each other's hair. They are the epitome of mutual orgasm, she thinks fuzzily, because as soon as she comes, she lets it wash over their mutual mind, and he feels what she feels and she feels the tightening and release of his own orgasm and it is a mixture that is almost a religious experience. She comes undone and he condenses to impossible levels until they both explode, bursts of light and stars and universes underneath their skin.

When she comes back to herself, to her own mind and their surroundings, she opens her eyes with a laugh, seeing that they are a tangled heap of sweat and skin on the floor, still just next to the TARDIS doors. He is slower to recover, but then she's had loads more practise though it's just as mind shattering every damn time. "Oh, my God." Her voice feels rusty, like she hasn't used it in ages, but her throat is raw from overuse. She gets so lost in his mind; she never registers her own pants, moans and screams during the act.

He laughs, rolling over until he lands flat on his back, pulling her on top of him as he does it. "I was not expecting that." His voice is rough as well and she giggles, pressing her face into his shoulder. His hands slide down her back, and she shivers at the sensation on her overly sensitized skin.

"Did I surprise you my love?" She grins smugly, tilting her head to look up at him.

"Always. Constantly, River. I quite like that you know." She arches a brow at him in reproach.

"Like it? Is that all?" She demands in a playful tone, pulling herself up on her elbows so she can glare down at him.

"Well I did say quite." He manages to protest before she slaps his shoulder and he laughs, his arms wrapping around her and pulling her closer. "Quite a bit, River."

"You are impossible." She huffs and he laughs, his voice warm and full of joy.

"You love it." He points out smugly and she huffs slightly, before laughing along with him.

"I hate you." She teases, and he lifts his head to press a quick kiss against her mouth.

"I love you, you mad, brilliant impossible woman." Her hearts ache at his words and she leans down, kissing him more thoroughly.

"So many firsts today," she murmurs the words against his skin like a secret and his arms tighten around her.

"No lasts – you're staying here, no arguments. No promises, no goodbyes. Not for a long, long while." He glares at her sternly and she laughs, because she is fairly certain he might pout at any given moment if she dare argue with him.

"Not for a long, long while." She promises him solemnly, and his smile returns at her words, brighter than ever before. She has no desire to rush along to what will inevitably be her lasts. He won't know who she is the next time she sees him, and though she knows there is still more to come, everything will change. She doesn't dwell on the thought though, because for right now, they can steal time for themselves, and be selfish about it, just once.

She thinks that they deserve this. And even if they don't –

She would take it regardless.