OK, one more. While I accept that River had to do some "pretending to be surprised" on the shore of Lake Silencio and in Florida, I think that most of her emotions during The Impossible Astronaut were genuine. Especially that SLAP! in the diner...
OK, I thought I was done, but I wasn't - Chapter 5 just added!
Spoilers for all of season 6. I don't own these delicious characters and I would have to be a little less confused if I did.
Once they arrived at the diner, River whipped out her diary and got down to business, "Right then, where are we? Have we done Easter Island yet?"
"Yes! I've got Easter Island!" he confirmed. She raved about the statues and his popularity while she waited for his next move. It was always a bit of a dance; to figure out exactly where they were in the grand scheme of their relationship, especially as they moved closer to the middle. Who was going to venture the next supposition, how much would they disclose, and how would the other respond?
"Jim the Fish?" he asked seductively (honestly, she thought, why did men insist on giving the most obvious pet names to their body parts...) Still, she was relieved he brought it up first, "Oh, Jim the Fish!" she said excitedly, "How is he?"
"Still building his dam..." confirmed the Doctor. River suppressed a delicious smile – they were on solid ground, that much was certain. She briefly fought an involuntary image of the dam releasing. Unfortunately, there would probably be no time for that kind of diversion on this trip.
She knew why they were there – what the date and the location meant. This day had been coming for a long time, and she had the advantage of knowing how it would unfold. The Doctor didn't yet – even though he thought he had a plan. River was curious to see how much of that plan he would be willing to share. She couldn't tell him about the whole "stopping time" thing, since it hadn't happened for him yet, but he should be able to tell the older her about the Tesselecta. Especially since he needed her help to convince the others and to dispose of the "body."
The Doctor's description of his journey thus far really pained her. "I've been running, faster than I've ever run. And I've been running my whole life. Now it's time for me to stop." He looked directly at her even though he was answering Amy's question. He seemed so tired; so defeated. She panicked momentarily, thinking that he may have given up for real; that he may not have actually implemented the Tesselecta plan.
She was relieved when the Doctor sent Amy and Rory off to get picnic supplies. "Here's some money," he said, "It should be enough, but it's hard to tell. American dollars. All the same size and color. They even smell the same too. Very strange, but they assure me they are real."
River reached for his hands as soon as her parents left the diner. "So, tell me, what do you need me to do?"
"You know what today is then," he responded.
"Of course, my love. It's the day I help you fake your death, and then go to prison for the rest of my life as your murderer." River fought to keep her tone neutral. This was the deal she entered in to: knowingly, willingly, and lovingly.
"What do you mean, fake my death?" the Doctor asked cautiously.
River raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean 'What do you mean?'" They proceeded to stare at each other, each one daring the other to back down first.
River broke the tension by standing up and leaning halfway across the table. "Come here, my love," she said seductively. As if her words were magnetic, the Doctor stood up and leaned forward until their faces were a mere impulse apart. "Now, open up," she commanded. He willingly parted his lips and unconsciously licked the lower one.
"Nice" she smiled, "but I meant open the iris!"
"Wait a second" he sighed, knowing that he had been bested, "I don't have that feature on neural control." There was a momentary delay, and then River saw a young uniformed Tesselecta operator sheepishly waving at her from the left iris. "Say hello to Lieutenant Gradner; he's on observation duty today."
"So how did you know about the Tesselecta? " the Doctor asked, despite suspecting he would get the usual answer.
"Pillow Talk, sweetie," River responded with a seductive smile. The Doctor grinned and thought about how much better that sounded than "Spoilers!" He'll have to figure out how to work that in from time to time.
River got back to business,"So, basically you need me to convince the others that the body is you, and then somehow get rid of it."
"The 'somehow' part will become obvious. Just go with the flow; you'll know what to do," the Doctor reassured her.
"Speaking of 'going with the flow' my love, I need you to give the younger me some latitude this evening." River pleaded, "She is so young, and so strongly idealistic. She was conditioned to see the universe as black-and-white, but then reality turned out to be a rainbow of colors." River paused to see if her words were having any impact, "She's still discovering who she is and learning what she needs, so her actions may seem rash to you."
"River, I already know that she can't control what she's doing, I know that she is a victim in this situation," the Doctor reassured her. "And you know that you are forgiven. Always and completely forgiven."
"I hope so, my love. I hope you still have it in you to continue to forgive me." River ended the discussion by scooting over to his side of the table and making good on her earlier tease. Granted, she knew she was kissing the Tesselecta under the Doctor's neural control, not the Doctor himself. But based on her memories from the top of the pyramid, it was well worth it. Too bad there wasn't enough time to explore the rest of the robot's capabilities...
After a moment of enjoyment, River broke off the kiss with the Tesselecta. She pulled back and looked into "his" eyes. With the iris closed again, she only saw her own reflection.
"Doctor, I need to discuss something privately with you. Can you miniaturize me and meet me in the TARDIS?" she asked.
"River, we don't have time – Amy and Rory will be back any minute." the Doctor was reluctant to risk any of his elaborate planning.
"Really, my love, you asked them to get a corkscrew to open your bottle of wine. This is Utah, 2011. We have the time." River replied.
The Doctor grabbed River around the waist as she materialized in the TARDIS. "OK love, but we really have to hurry," he mumbled as he nuzzled into her neck.
"No, that's not what this is about. I want to rewrite time." Once the words were out of her mouth, there was no going back.
The nuzzling stopped.
To be continued in Chapter 2