Not-for-profit fanfic. The BBC owns Doctor Who. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: The title is taken from a song by The Dears. This story was a birthday pressie for BritMel and is posted with her consent. Happy Birthday, Sweetie!
You and I Are a Gang of Losers
She was standing beside a river.
How appropriate, he thought.
She knelt down and leaned over slightly, her light brown curls brushing against the sides of her face. As he was behind her, he couldn't see her expression, but he could imagine it. Fascinated, reflective… and sad.
Well. Two of those things were good. Truth be told, even the last one had its place. It took sadness to fully understand happiness, didn't it? Good and evil, light and dark and all that jazz. Still, the thought of sadness on her face made an odd little lump form in his throat. How long had it been? Did the people here have any concept of time? He imagined not, then tried to imagine the imagining. His head began to throb. To exist without time. How glorious and terrifying. It almost made him want to run away screaming.
Except, well, he couldn't.
This was your choice, he reminded himself.
It wasn't that he regretted it. He was just afraid. Afraid of how he'd adjust, or if he fully could. But he had a reason, a very good reason, for wanting to try.
That reason suddenly gave a tiny sob as she knelt by the water, and with that sound all his fears faded away, replaced by something else.
He walked forward, slowly and quietly, until he was just a few meters behind her. He'd been thinking for the past… hour, maybe? On what his first words to her should be. Something witty? Dramatic? He was the Doctor: things were expected of him. But seeing her there, enveloped by shadows from the trees, made him change his mind. No, this called for something simple. With feeling. Yeah, that was it.
"Excuse me," he said.
She jumped up and whirled around so quickly and with such force she almost lost her footing. She stared at him in utter shock.
"I'm looking for someone to dance with," he said softly. "I hope your card isn't full."
She continued staring at him, mouth open, eyes wide. "Do stop that: you're going to catch a bug," he said with a smile.
She blinked hard a few times, closed her mouth. She moved forward a meter, then stopped, staring as though trying to decide if he was real.
"Are you real?" she asked, voice laced with disbelief and something he couldn't identify.
She moved closer still, enough to fully study his face but not quite enough to touch. "Why are you here?" she asked.
"I told you. I'm looking for someone to dance with."
"No, why are you really here?"
"Oh, River," he sighed, amused, voice tinged with weary affection. "Haven't you figured that one out yet?"
Her face, which a moment ago had blazed with joy, darkened and fell. "But that means…"
"I'm afraid it does," he replied, chuckling softly as he remembered how they'd used those exact same words, in reverse, lifetimes ago.
She looked as though there were a thousand things she wanted to say, and was struggling to get her mind and tongue to work together to say them. She licked her lips and found her voice again.
"How did it happen?"
"Oh, you know, the usual," he drawled. "The right place at the right time."
She exhaled in a laugh. "Only you would put it that way."
She took a step towards him, then another. "Did you regenerate?"
He nodded again.
Her brows knitted together. "Then how are you here?"
"Are you doubting me?" he asked indignantly.
"I never doubt you."
"Well, it sounded as if you were."
"It just doesn't seem possible!" she burst out.
Now it was him that took a step towards her. "What doesn't?" he asked softly.
"You. Here. If you regenerated. Even if you didn't. But especially if you did. How did you do it?"
"Well, it took a bit of doing," he admitted. "It was definitely wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey First Class."
"Did you know it would work?"
Another step forward and a shake of the head. "Not for certain, no."
"But you risked it."
"I risked it." He took her hands in his. "You are my wife, after all."
"Mother and father… Amy and Rory?"
"They're fine. Still dealing with the shock of it all, I imagine, but, uh, yeah. They'll be fine. They said to tell you they love you. Now and always."
Her eyes glimmered with unshed tears. "You did all this… for me?"
He smiled. "No." He closed the small gap that remained between them and moved his hands to her face. "I did it for us."
Her eyes glanced down, then flicked back to his. "It's different here, you know."
"You might not be happy," she said, nervous now that the full weight of what he'd done had settled in her heart.
He raised his eyebrows. "Aren't you here?"
She drew an unsteady breath. "Yes."
"Then I'm happy," he said quietly.
"Oh, do hush," he whispered, and leaned down to kiss her.
She put her arms around him, overwhelmed with the pure ecstasy of having him there, in her arms, his lips on hers, kissing her with a lifetime's worth of love. Finally he drew back slightly, kissing her nose, then resting his forehead against hers.
She moved away a bit and smiled at him, taking his hands in hers. "So, someone to dance with, you said?"
"Yes. I seem to be a bit rusty. Haven't danced for a while, you see."
"Well, maybe I can make some room in my schedule for that, if you like."
"I'd like that very much."
"So would I." She grinned at him. "But before we go any further, dancing or otherwise, there's something I need to tell you. Something important."
He looked suitably intrigued. "Oh? What?"
She slid her hands up and took his face in them. The light in her eyes from earlier had returned, dazzling him. Her smile melted his hearts. She moved to kiss him, her warm, melodic voice reaching his ears just before her mouth reached his.