Disclaimer: I don't own anything in the Who-verse. That honour belongs to RTD (the TW arm at least – Miracle Day, what were you thinking?), Steven Moffat (I am not worthy) and the mighty and glorious BBC.
Author's Note: This came to me in a moment of abstraction and just had to be written down. Thanks to Orion for most excellent beta-ing. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading. Reviews are, as always, appreciated and adored.
Tick tock goes the clock
He cheated death to save her
When he knew he could
In shadows safely hide her
Their entire relationship had been a series of brief encounters, each one unexpected and treasured. He'd turned materialising and whisking her off for nights and days of passion and adventure into an art form. For what seemed the briefest time they'd bickered and laughed and loved. The blue book had gradually filled with memories and spoilers, a written record of their time. A veritable fairy tale. They had done so many impossible things. She should have known this was the next logical step. After all, it wasn't as if he didn't know where to find her. Since the day he'd first laid eyes on her, looking right through her as he would a stranger, breaking her heart, he'd known. He'd hidden it well, never revealing that he knew her fate from the first. Looking back she remembered the moments when he'd looked at her with eyes indefinably sad, pulling her close with an almost abashed half-smile, his arms, ever in motion, stilling about her. She had wondered but never questioned those eyes. Nor had she questioned when he pushed a hand crafted sonic screwdriver into her hands with strict instructions not to ever let it out of her sight. He'd made sure that he could save her, the only way he could. It was what you came to expect, married to the most wondrous being in the Universe.
She shouldn't have been surprised that he turned up on her doorstep. It was, after all, the next logical step. She shouldn't have been, but she was.
She'd just put the children to bed; Charlotte and the constructs she'd created to play with, Amy and Rory, names plucked from River's memories. As she had done every night she had regaled them with stories of him, recounting their adventures, reliving them vicariously through the wide eyes and excited cries of the children. And, as every night, she was assaulted by the overwhelming sadness that those adventures were at an end, that she would never see ancient eyes staring out of the impossibly young face again. Charlotte had recognised those moments of unhappiness and asked her why she was sad. River knew she was worried that the world CAL had created for them couldn't make her happy and had soothed the child's fears as best she could, but she could see her own sadness mirrored in Charlotte's eyes as she kissed her good night. Tomorrow she would put aside the blue book and tell them tales of make-believe princes and princesses, dragons and fairies. Real fairy stories, not true tales of an impossible hero doing impossible things.
Turning off the bedroom light she returned downstairs, acutely aware of how empty her house was. When she had first arrived, her friends waiting to greet her, they had all made the decision to live together in the great house, but as time had passed the inevitable had happened. Proper Dave and Anita had resumed the relationship they had once had, out there in the real world. And then Miss Evangelista, who had insisted they call her Eva, and Other Dave had moved into the same room. By mutual consent they had moved out of the big house and into a row of three houses, the children and their new mother taking the centre house. Her friends were close, they spent their days together, but at night, after the children were in bed...well, lonely darkness and silence filled the house.
The knock at the door startled her, the blue book falling from her lap to the floor as she started. It was foolish. It would be someone from next door, or maybe Dr Moon who occasionally dropped round to check on Charlotte. It might even be one of CAL's constructs, someone created to keep her company, to try and relieve her sadness. CAL had proved adept at creating a world for them, peopled with constructs drawn from the templates of the people she had saved from the Vashta Nerada. Whoever it was she would tell them tonight was not a good time; despite the darkness and silence, she longed to be alone once more with her memories. Swinging her legs down from the couch, she pulled the long flowing white cardigan around her, suddenly chilled, and stood up. Crossing into the hallway, she flipped on the outside light and pulled open the door – it was never locked, where was the need?
There he was; long hair falling across his brow, an outrageously sheepish expression and the obligatory bow tie hung loose around his collar. His feet shuffled on the doormat, his long arms predictably fidgeting by his sides. The embarrassed smile on his lips faded as he saw the colour drain from her face.
"Hi honey, I'm home." It was his traditional greeting and she could see he was waiting for her reply, but her lips wouldn't form the words. Instead she took a step backwards into the hall, shaking her head.
"CAL, please don't do this," she pleaded, raising her eyes skywards. "I can't..."
He stepped through the doorway, his arms outstretched towards her, his eyes now full of concern.
"River." She flinched at the sound of her name, spoken with just the right touch of bewilderment. As a construct he was perfect, the image she carried and treasured, filling her dreams, recreated in every detail. It was devastating. Sinking onto the bottom step, she buried her head in her hands and wept, her sobs loud and fractured, long concealed grief spilling out uncontrollably. Face hidden she waited for CAL to sense her distress and bring the tortuous vision to an end.
The vision coughed and she sensed him kneel before her. She felt his hands brush her hair as though he wasn't quite sure what to do and she knew if she looked up she would see bemused concern on his face. And though she longed to do just that she dared not.
"Please go away." She couldn't say his name, she couldn't give credence to the lie.
"Oh, right. Yes. I understand. I should have thought..." There was hurt in his voice. A little boy lost. He paused. "Which one is it? Dave or Dave?"
She couldn't help it. She looked up. His face was inches from hers, his eyes dark and utterly despondent. The question was matter-of-fact and yet the voice that asked it was laden with a hoarse pain she had never heard in all their adventures together and couldn't have imagined. Something she couldn't have imagined. At the realisation she felt the breath catch at the back of her throat.
"What did you say?" Her voice was a whisper.
"Urmm." He ran his hand back through his hair in his habitual gesture of embarrassment. "Proper Dave or Other Dave? I presume you are living with one of them now. Or Anita? I liked Anita. I don't really think Miss Evangelista is really your type but you were always capable of surprising me so I suppose I shouldn't rule her out." He came to a flustered halt and stood up, backing into the doorway. "Well, I'll be getting along. Winston's challenged me to a game of darts. I told him next week but..."
Her hand clamped about one of the arms he was flailing in her direction, stopping him dead. The eyes that met his were wet with tears but suddenly shining.
"Let me get this right." Her smile was dangerous. "You want to know who exactly I've given up my marriage vows for? The marriage vows I made twice if you recollect."
"Mmmm, yes?" He shrugged, but the hurt in his eyes had been replaced by twinkling mischief.
"What will I do with you?" She asked quietly. shaking her head in mock despair, winding her arms around his neck and feeling the magical sensation of his long fingers settle in the small of her back.
"Hello, Sweetie," she whispered.
It was his lips which sought out hers first, his movements slow and unhurried, the kiss gentle and yet searching. A homecoming. His hands moved up her back, pulling her closer and she leant into him, feeling his warmth leach into her. He did not deepen the kiss, instead pulling away to smile contentedly at her, waiting for her questions.
The first one fell from her lips almost immediately.
"How the hell can you be here? Last time I checked my physical body was dead and my mind was housed in a computer trapped at the core of a planet inhabited by flesh eating Vashta Nerada. I mean, I love the fact that you came to visit, my love, but how is that even possible?"
He grinned. "Ah, it was actually easier than you think. Still incredibly clever, of course, but definitely easier than I imagined it would be. Not that it being difficult would have stopped me. I rather pride myself on being able to do several impossible things before breakfast, but as you say, flesh eating Vashta Nerada and all that..."
He came to a faltering stop as a pair of flashing eyes fixed him with a basilisk stare.
"I installed a back door in CAL's system and linked it to the neural matrix in the TARDIS," he muttered meekly, looking away.
"You planned this from the start?" she asked incredulously. "Right from the day you met me in the Library?"
She watched as he ran his hand round the back of his neck distractedly before answering.
"You knew my name, River," he said softly. "There's only one reason you would know my name. Even though I didn't love you then I knew that one day I would. Why else would I have gone to such lengths to save you? I knew one day I'd be ready to come back so I made sure I could."
"Your powers of deviousness are a constant amazement to me," she said tartly but her eyes were smiling and her hold on his shoulders tightened. "So where are you now? Please don't tell me you're risking the Vashta Nerada to come here."
"When have I ever deliberately put myself in danger?" he scoffed before hurriedly continuing. "Yes, all the time, I realise that. Silly question. Forget I said it. But this time absolutely not. I'm in absolutely no danger, well unless I get too comfortable and my body starves to death before my consciousness is returned to it." He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Not that she'd let that happen. At least I don't think she would, She's very protective of my person generally. It can be quite embarrassing sometimes."
"Who? Is my mother here?"
He looked confused for a moment and then shook his head. "No, she's with your father, or at least she was the last time I looked. No, I mean the TARDIS. I told you I linked CAL up to the neural matrix on the TARDIS. She's parked very nicely on the Doctor moon in orbit above the Library and my body is accessing the neural matrix using the chameleon arch. Not its intended use I grant you, but it does the job. So here I am. Hello." He lifted one hand from her back and held it in front of her face, giving a little wave. She laughed. It was the kind of laugh she'd almost forgotten existed. The carefree laugh of knowing she was alive and with him.
"So, when exactly is this for you?" Her eyes strayed to the living room and the blue book lying open on the floor next to the sofa. "Have we done Darillium yet?" She figured citing their last encounter before her death was a pretty safe move. Her enquiry elicited a look only slightly less blank than his previous incarnation had given her.
"Lake Silencio. I'm lying low." For a moment he looked uncertain. "That's not the reason I came. It's just, well, I'm guessing we never had a honeymoon. Given that you went to prison for my murder almost the same day. How did they catch you anyway?" He looked thoughtfully at her knowing expression. "Or did you give yourself up?"
"You needed to lie low and I needed you to know where to find me. And technically I did kill you, my love." The thought of her actions, how close she had come to destroying the man before her, still lodged like a blade in her chest but she shrugged unconcernedly. "And no, we didn't get a honeymoon in the strictest sense of the world." The knowing smile turned playful. "You know I was never really sure that first ceremony counted, given the fact you were a Tesselector at the time. That and the fact that it was in a whole alternate timeline."
"It counts. We both remember it." He scratched his cheek abstractedly. "I may have been a bit on the small side but I said the words and your parents gave you away. We got married. I kissed the bride!" His eyes flashed with pleasure at the memory. "I take it from your earlier comment we repeat the business?" He looked enquiringly at her for details but she shook her head.
"Spoilers." The knowing smile broadened into a grin. "But you know you tell me your name eventually so take it as a given that we tie the knot again in this reality at some point in your future. You never know, I might have even worn white."
He looked down at the flowing white cardigan draped around her shoulders, the soft material skimming over the luscious curves he knew lay beneath and gave a low cough.
"Something to look forward to then."
"You better believe it," she retorted with a frankly wicked grin. "Now what were you saying about a honeymoon?"
The smile that curved his lips was embarrassed and yet predatory at the same time. He leaned in, cupping her cheek with one hand, his fingers burning a trail across her skin, and covered her mouth with his own. This time there was nothing tentative in his kiss, no awkwardness or uncertainty. His lips were forceful on hers, his tongue demanding entry into her mouth, claiming ownership. That day in the Stormcage when she'd surprised him with a kiss and he'd flusteringly confessed that it had been their first kiss, her heart had almost shattered at the knowledge that for her it had been their last. Now she realised with joy that there was more to come, so much more, and she met his kiss with fervour, greedy for every sensation she had thought lost to her.
His hands buried beneath the draping folds of her cardigan, their heat a brand through the thin silk shift beneath. Her breath released in a whispering sigh of contentment as her own hands tightened convulsively about his back, and he smiled against her mouth at the sound. Lifting his head he transferred his lips to her throat, eagerly tasting the soft skin. She let her head fall back, expanding the expanse of skin open to his touch and tangled her hands in his long hair. Raw silk bunched between his fingers at her touch and she felt her knees start to buckle.
Abruptly he pulled away, panting for breath, his eyes black with desire. She stepped back out of the circle of his arms only to take one of his hands in her own, his long fingers grasped tight between her own.
"Well, well, my love. You are full of surprises. I don't remember you being quite this...accomplished...during our first meetings." She smiled at the frown now wrinkling his brow. "Lots of arm flailing as I recall."
"I remember the kiss at our wedding being rather good," he said defensively. "Barely any flailing at all. And from my perspective that was only a couple of days ago, so I think we can agree my memory is bound to be better than yours!"
"You are so easy to wind up, sweetie," she joked gently. "I never had any complaints." She squeezed his hand and her eyes grew soft. "A minute ago you said you didn't love me when you saved me. I take it that means you do now? The me back in the Stormcage waiting for you to call, I mean. You didn't just marry me in order to save all reality."
With his free hand he scratched his head and shrugged sheepishly.
"You know me, River. I've never been very good with words. Well not those kind of words; other kinds yes, other words I'm brilliant at. And anyway you know what they say about actions and all that. I'm very, very good at actions."
River Song, wife of the last Time Lord in the Universe, the man they called the Oncoming Storm, nodded her head wisely, and led her husband to the bottom of the stairs. She had shared her bed with this man a hundred times but for him this would be their first time. She had marvelled how, her first time with him, he had seemed to know every inch of her skin, had understood exactly how and where to touch her. Now finally, his uncanny knowledge made sense. Apparently she wasn't the only one who had spoilers to keep. The first time he had taught her how to love, a brief moment snatched in the chaos of their lives, this time it would be her turn, and they had all the time in the world.
She cradled his face with one hand, her thumb running along the planes of his cheek in a gentle caress, the face that had haunted her dreams, as real under her fingers as anything else in this world. He caught her hand and kissed her fingers, his smile loving.
"Whilst you're proving exactly which actions speak a thousand words, my love, we'll work on you saying just three." She leaned forward and fondly brushed the hair from his eyes. "Believe me, and I don't think this counts as a spoiler, I think you'll find your efforts will be well rewarded."
Time now the Doctor knows
To hide and be forgotten
Tick tock until the day
To meet his fate he's bidden
Doctor, chose to live
He knew where he could find her
So much more to give
His love, his wife, his River