a ghost in my mouth

She couldn't fail.

He was attached to her she knew. Had seen it, felt it. The way he'd held her after the burning of death that was not death had stopped, she'd felt his arms around her. She'd watched the look in his eyes morph from amazement to wonder and finally settle on love.

He loved her.

It would make everything so much easier. Shakiness from the regeneration had meant that her aim had been off when she'd reached for the gun. The shock on his face would almost be comical, if she found such things amusing.

She found nothing about him amusing though. He was a criminal. A menace. Destroyer of Worlds, including her own and she knew that she had to kill him. Fulfill her purpose in life. She was born for this. She would put an end to his reign of terror.

She was confused though – it always varied from body to body, how long it took to re-adjust. She'd not even seen her own new face properly yet, but there was all this hair and she felt curvier, more soft and less hard and she wasn't sure if she liked it or not. He'd brought her into the TARDIS – like he trusted her in there, even though he kept a close eye on her.

"Everything clearing up yet? It takes a while sometimes. Took me forever my last go round, felt like." He was standing by her and she shook her head, tamping down the anger that swelled within her at the sound of his voice.

"I need a – can I see – mirror?" She bit the words out and he grinned, nodding and pulling her down the stairs to an alcove just off the main room. Control room. The proper title popped into her head and she shook it, her hands in her hair as she fought to remain calm. There were so many thoughts this time. Hers and she could hear a bitter twisted voice chanting over and over you must kill him. Kill him. End this bitter war. Be our hope. It wasn't her own voice, but it was her voice. Warped and unrecognizable. At the same time some other voice that was nowhere near her own was also streaming through her head, a constant jumble of words. Trust. Love. Not alone. Water. Water. River. Your name is River. Be River. Like him. Not alone. Love. Trust. Love. It was a constant loop of words that made no sense.

"Riv-" He stopped himself and she looked up at him warily. "No, that's not your name yet is it?"

"River." She repeated the word he'd aborted and she shook her head again. "I can't think. It's too much."

"Too much what?" He questioned and she glanced around, spying the mirror tilted against the side wall and moving toward it.

"Too much noise. They won't shut up." She ground the words out and he pulled her back by the arm, ignoring the tension in her body.

"I can help. With that I mean, if you'd like." He reached up, his fingers stretching toward her temples and she stared at him, confused. Touch telepathy. She jerked back in fear, and it must have shown because he smiled sadly. "Never thought I'd have to convince you to trust me this soon." He stepped back and paced for a bit. "This is too soon. You shouldn't be meeting me for the first time this soon. Everything feels wrong about this. Back to front you said. Hah!"

"Maybe I lied. I do that you know. Lie." She spoke bluntly, moving toward the mirror.

"So do I. Rule one. I lie. If you lie and I lie well things are going to be far more complicated than I thought." She nodded at his words as she finally reached the mirror and peered at her new face intently. Ugh what was with that nose?

"Hair's worse than I thought." She muttered under her breath, running a hand through the mass of unruly curls. "Just won't let me have straight hair, will you?"

"Hey!" He'd moved to appear in the mirror behind her, a finger pointed at her reflection. "Lay off the hair, it's magnificent hair, I love that hair."

She rolled her eyes at him and he stared for a moment before sighing and resuming his pacing and talking. "Alright so obviously you lied about us being back to front. But why? And why wouldn't you warn me if you knew I'd be meeting this you so soon? At Demon's Run you said – no. No. Spoilers. You can't know that yet."

She was smoothing the dress she'd been wearing over her hips, trying to ascertain if it made it through alright, or if she needed to find a change of clothes. "What's a spoiler?" She asked, only paying half-attention as she felt the bump of something in the pocket and she pulled out her lipstick with a smile. He loved her. This would be so easy. No! Yes! The voices in her head argued hotly and she swallowed, trying to shut them out as she leaned forward and applied the lipstick with a hand that trembled violently. She noticed his shocked face in the reflection as she capped the lipstick and turned to him.

"What's a spoiler? It's – it's a – oh this is just bloody perfect isn't it. Trapped in the middle of Germany right before a world war is about to break out and I get stuck with a River Song who doesn't even know what spoilers are." He was ranting, waving his hands in the air madly and she walked closer to him.

"River Song? Is that my name?" She stared up at him and smiled. "Is that a spoiler?" She was catching up now, her mind less foggy but those voices only seemed to increase in cacophony.

"Some things that have happened for me won't happen for you for a long long time, River. Sometimes things happen for you that haven't happened for me. We mustn't tell each other those things." He spoke seriously and she looked up at him intently.

"Why not?" She asked in a whisper and her hands reached up to stroke the silky material of his bowtie. He swallowed visibly and seemed to watch her with a more nervous energy.

"Well it spoils it! There's no surprise. And who's to say it would happen like it did if you know it would. Things could change. Time can be rewritten. For example you seem to have an incredible urge to kill me right now, that's new." He waved his arms as he spoke and his palms brushed the sides of her arms.

"I don't have an incredible urge to kill you in the future?" She was quite close to him now and he shook his head in a jerking negative.

"Well, maybe you do. Maybe you just control it better then but I can never seem to tell if you want to kill me or kiss-" She cut his words off, her hands tugged him forward with a sharp jerk and she kissed him. And it was easy, pathetically easy how quickly his mouth softened to hers, how willing he was to trust her with this, even when she'd tried to shoot him moments ago. She kissed him clinically, but his hands gripped her shoulders and slid over her back just as his tongue slid into her mouth and suddenly everything was not quite so detached for her.

She could feel her hearts pounding but more than that – she could feel his too, pressed against her chest and thundering an echoing beat to hers. He had two hearts. Just like you. That voice was sadder now while the other one snapped. You knew that. He killed your kind. All of them. She pushed both of them to the back of her mind as his taste bloomed across her tongue. Her hands migrated up into his hair as she pressed herself against him and he pulled her closer into him even though they couldn't get any closer than they were. She could feel his mind brushing against hers and she faltered – just for a half a second. It was enough.

His mind burst across hers, bright whites and greys and icy blues. And she could see his sadness and his loneliness and all of the love in his hearts. She could feel his love for her. And it wasn't something to be mocked or taken advantage of. Rather is was breath-taking and burning in its intensity. She saw his gratitude to his companions for creating her – for creating her? Human parents? She wasn't even-

Her mind warred with itself and his wrapped around hers the whole time, showing her emotions that stole her breath and made a complete and utter lie out of her entire life. He was alone.

But for her.

But for her.

She pulled back with a shocked gasp, tears on her face and she scrubbed at her mouth with hands that shook. She felt ill. She felt – oh God what had she done? "Doctor!" She gasped the words and tears flowed freely and she pushed against him, her hands scrubbing at his mouth too, but it was far too late.

"Killed with a kiss? That one's new." He chuckled, and she shook her head, her whole body shaking. "Shh. River. Shh."

"No, no. We have to – I have to – we have to find something. Save you." She bit out and he pulled her against him. "An antidote. Surely the med bay has something."

"Do you know what's in the lipstick?" He spoke softly and she shook her head, pulling it out of her pocket and breaking away from him, running up the stairs to the console and jamming the tube in before jerking the monitor over to her and typing quickly. "You already know how to work her?" He staggered up the stairs after her drunkenly. "But how? I taught you. Taught by the best, you said. Oh. Spoilers!" He clapped his hands over his mouth and giggled. "This is difficult, how'd you do it?"

"I don't know!" She snapped, watching the screen intently. The analysis popped up finally, listing the poison in question.

"No need to be grouchy. I'm the one who's dying. But it's okay. Because I won't. Can't. I know when I die and it isn't here." He waves from behind her, groping the console next to her. "Sexy won't let me die, will you girl?"

"Do we have the antidote?" She asked the ship and it hummed in response before indicating a vial number and room location. "Thirty minutes. We've got thirty minutes."

She grabbed his hand and dragged him up the stairs behind her. "Hey you talk to her just like I do! No one else does that. Poor girl. You know she's not just a ship right?" She pulled him down the hall, turning and twisting and groaning in frustration.

"Doctor, where is the med bay?"

"Well it moves around quite a bit. Pops here and pops there. You never know really where-" She grabbed his shoulders and shook him, hard.

"Doctor. Thirty minutes to live. Where is it?" He laughed and she felt the urge to absolutely slap him crawl over her skin.

"Thirty minutes. Pah! That's forever. I have a time machine you know." He whispered the last bit to her and she rolled her eyes.

"Yes. And that would be lovely dear, if only it were working." She stressed and he giggled again, reaching up and bopping her on the nose.

"You always doubt River. Nothing's impossible. Except well, everything is impossible but the impossible is actually quite probable when you think about it." She stared at him for a full minute. He was drugged and clearly a bit insane anyway, but maybe she was too because that last bit made sense. She shoved him aside and moved over to the wall, laying her hands on it.

"We need the med bay. Now. Please." She whispered pleadingly to the ship all around them and the wall seemed to shudder under her touch. When she looked up there was a doorway. She sighed in relief and dragged him along with her into the clean, white sparkling room. She shoved him on the bed and he flopped back, laughing more.

"It's funny right? Isn't it funny? Half hour ago you were trying to shoot me dead and now you're trying to save my life. Isn't that hilarious? So much changed. Just thirty minutes."

"Shut up." She muttered, as she yanked open cabinet doors and pulled vials out one by one, scanning the label before tossing them aside.

"You're cleaning this up, just so you know. Least you could do for poisoning me. And I have to save you. From the weird light robot thingy. And your parents. Wait! Spoilers. Do you even know that yet?" He sat up waving his arms and she glared over at him.

"No I didn't know that. Yes I know that now – it was – in your mind earlier." She spoke without looking at him and kept shuffling through vial after vial.

"In my mind? Do you have latent telepathic abilities too? I was – just trying to see you and you shouldn't have been able to – to see me. Is that what made you change-" She grasped the correct bottle finally, muttering a prayer of thanks to the ship she stood in, and yanked open a drawer, digging for a needle. "What're you- oh no. No needles. No needles River!"

She filled the syringe and ignored him, deftly flicking it twice to remove any air before turning back to him. He'd scrambled up onto the bed and was pressing his back to the wall. "Don't be such a baby." She instructed and he shook his head.

"I hate needles. And you'll probably take some sadistic pleasure in injecting me-" She yanked his arm forward with her free hand, unbuttoning his cuff one handed and shoving the sleeve up as high as it could go before she plunged the needle in and depressed the plunger. "Ow!" She removed the needle and he jerked his arm back, his hand over the injection point. "That hurt!"

"I couldn't wait for you to hold still!" She argued back, dropping the needle beside him with hands that shook. She licked her lips once more, and wiped her palm across her mouth, looking in the mirror across from them to see all traces of the lipstick gone.

"I wouldn't have had to hold still if you hadn't poisoned me!" He snapped back, leaning into her space as he glared at her.

"I was kidnapped and brainwashed. I think that gives me a bit of an excuse." She pointed out in a heated tone.

"Well I-" He paused then, his finger hovering in her face as he searched for something else to say while she stared up at him. "Right. Fair point. You're fine now then?"

"Well I don't want to kill you. Much. You are a bit annoying though." She pointed out and he stared down at her incredulously.

"I'm a bit annoying? There's a mirror right there you know. Might want to take a look at yourself. With all your spoilers this and has to be lived that!"

"Well you know more than me for once. Isn't it a happy day?" She bit out and he looked at her in surprise.

"No." He whispered. "I want you back. The you that knows me. My River." His hand shook as he reached up to touch her face gently. "This is what it was like. This is what – oh River I am so sorry."

"For what?" She whispered, unaccustomed to the delicate touch, the gentleness of his fingers circling against the skin of her jaw. He smiled sadly, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to her mouth gently. She pulled back in fear. "No, it could be-" He cut her off with his mouth again, kissing her more thoroughly this time. His tongue slid against hers and her hands clenched over his thighs as she pressed herself in closer to his body. She wanted her chest against his again. Wanted those double heartbeats aligned over hers, but she couldn't get close enough because he was seated on the bed and she was standing before him. So instead she slid her hands up over his hips and ribs, up, up, up until she could rest her fingertips over his carotid pulse. It drummed against her fingers and she sighed into his mouth.

He pulled back, that sad smile still in place and she searched his face for the source. "What are you sorry for Doctor?" He sighed, his hands running through her hair gently and his smile warmed up a bit at the feel of it. She decided that maybe she actually loved this hair. He looked down at her and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead.