OK, something radical here... Young River. I've been quite nervous about writing her, and I don't think I got her at all (particularly because we don't even know what she's like yet). However, I had to start writing her young sometime, so this is as good a chapter as any to start. I imagine her being mid-20's here. Tenses are difficult aren't they? So I'm in a different one for this one. Hope you don't mind. It's a week until Let's Kill Hitler! Are you excited? I'm excited.

3. Birthday

"Doctor, seriously – what are you doing in there?" River knocked impatiently on the kitchen door.

"Nothing!" His voice was accompanied by the clatter of at least a dozen pots and pans hitting the floor.

"Are you alright? Should I come in?" She sounded concerned, but he hastily replied

"No! Don't come in! I'm fine..." She was about to turn away and occupy herself somewhere else in The TARDIS when she heard the unmistakable slam of wood hitting The Doctor's face as he walked into a cupboard door.

"Ow!" She heard him yell. He couldn't be trusted to be left to his own devices – in what situation was it reasonable for a 23 year old to be more mature and sensible than a 900-and-something year old?

"Doctor, seriously! If you don't come out here right now I'm coming in!" It may have sounded bossy and controlling, but without River to supervise his messing around and all the madcap schemes that he came up with, he was a danger to himself and society. Once she had left him in the bathroom at her apartment for ten minutes and he'd managed to combine several different shampoos and bubble baths until they ate through the bathtub, flooding the room. He simply couldn't be trusted – especially when he attempted domestics.

"No, River! Don't come in!" He protested, panic-stricken.

"Sorry Doctor, too late!" She pushed open the door and walked into the kitchen. "What the hell did you do?" She asked, bemusedly. She didn't know whether to be shocked or amused. Every visible surface was covered in some sort of doughy paste, the floor was coated in a fine layer of flour and The Doctor lay slumped against a corner cupboard, clutching his forehead. River carefully stepped around the kitchenware until she was standing next to The Doctor. Kneeling down next to him, she prised his hands away from his face and tried to get a better look at the wound. It wasn't that bad, but it had broken the skin and there was already a nasty bruise decorating the swelling.

"This is why you should never try and cook..." She tried not to laugh. "What were you doing anyway?"

"If you must know, I was trying to make you a cake." He huffed.

"A cake?" Don't laugh. Don't laugh.

"Yes." He pointed to a mushy lump on the other side of the room. Walking across to get a better look, she saw what was probably intended to be a cake of some sorts, haphazardly decorated with runny blue icing. Messily piped across the top in black were the words 'Happy Birthday River'.

"It's... a cake." Don't laugh. Don't laugh.

"Yes, it's a cake – what else does it look like?" He looked thoroughly crossed, and she couldn't help but smile at his childish demeanour.

"Well, to be perfectly honest – it looks like someone ate something their stomach didn't agree with." He folded his arms crossly at that.

"Well then, you're not having any." She nearly laughed out loud at that – he was suggesting that not getting to eat any of what he called cake was a punishment of sorts.

"If you're going to be difficult, I won't make you a cake on your birthday!" She crossed back over the maze of pots and pans until she was standing next to him again.

"Well actually, I don't have a birthday, so hah!" He stuck his tongue out at her. Her smile disappeared.

"You don't have a birthday? That's horrible! You don't get presents, or cake! How did you survive all these years?" Her face was horror-struck.

"I'm a timelord. We manage perfectly well without birthdays, thank you very much." He replied adamantly.

"That's ridiculous. You have to have a birthday." She knelt down next to him. "I know! You can have yours today!"

"But River, today's your birthday! We can't have our birthdays on the same day..." His eyes were wide and he seemed tragically sad.

"We can today... It's unlikely they're going to overlap again." The Doctor remained unconvinced. "C'mon, it's just a birthday!" She tried to reason.

"What would we do for birthdays?" He asked cautiously. He didn't want to agree to anything without first knowing what the terms were.

"Well... I'd be the one making cake, for starters. We could give each other presents... And other things..." She dropped her voice and smirked at him slightly.

"I think I'd like a birthday..." He grinned sheepishly. "But, could we possibly leave the real cake and presents until tomorrow? We could always do the other things now..." He suggested, raising his eyebrows.

"That sounds like an excellent birthday..." She grinned, about to stand up, but before she could she felt the floor disappear beneath her feet as he picked her up and carried her out of the kitchen, being careful not to trip up on any of the kitchenware that still littered the floor. He carried her down the corridor as she giggled, her torso dangling over his shoulder and down his back, legs swinging against his chest. When they reached the bedroom, he kicked the door open, growling as he set her down gently on the bed, pressing his legs hungrily to hers and wrestling the tweed from his shoulders.

"Happy Birthday, River." He whispered against her mouth, trailing down her jaw to press quick, warm kisses to her neck.

"Happy Birthday, Doctor." She managed to get out between gasps.

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