Title: Living Legend

by Musedepandora

Disclaimer:Doctor Who belongs to various persons and corporations that are not me or associated with me. This piece of fanfiction is written with the admiration and respect for the original work. I claim no ownership of Doctor Who's creations. No profit is made from this material, now or in the future.

Rating: NC17, adult (for explicit sexual content)

Word Count:
11,816 (because the Doctor is a wordy fuck)

Characters: Eleven/River Song

Warnings: Don't read this if you're a minor, and your parents would get angry with me. This contains spoilers up to and including 06x07 so don't read if you'dget angry with me.

Summary: Really, he should have expected this. Not the sex - Well, yes, that too- but the fact that the Shah of the Seven Sands was River Song.

Notes: This was written for the Guns and Curls Ficathon over on the spoiler_song community. This was actually a response to two prompts, though I feel that I might technically have only fulfilled the spirit of one since this is River/Doctor, not just River + the Doctor. Oh well. The two prompts I worked off of were: (1.) "River/Doctor (any), pulling River's hair, NC-17 welcome... " set by trialia and (2.) "River + the Doctor, Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning." by ms_rubiks. Also, I've had to split this story into two posts because of the size but it's not meant to be split into two, so I'm splitting it right before it starts earning its rating. But please, take the piece as if it were not broken like that.

Special thanks: To my beta, r34dinglight , for making fun and encouraging me in the correct doses. To several of my friends that had discussions with me about what exactly Eleven would call his penis while having sex with River (suggestions included: TARDIS since it has a time and relative dimension in space, his special companion, his original sonic, and Jim the Fish). Thanks also to those online that have given me encouragement when I said I was considering writing adult material. Also, thanks to leiascully who made this really fantastic post (Smut: You're Doing It Wrong (Or How to Do It Right)) over on her lj that really helped me concentrate my own thoughts and prompt me to try my hand at this.

Really, he should have expected this. Not the sex - Well, yes, that too- but the fact that the Shah of the Seven Sands was River Song. The Doctor knew the stories. A warrior woman who led an army of thieves, mercenaries, and the disenfranchised against the bloody rule of an inept and apathetic king. A freedom fighter that inspired a people to topple the thousand year oppression of a foreign dynasty. A fae enchantress sent by the gods to sow discord and chaos amongst the giants, throwing a million bodies down in her wake; reducing a great empire to ashes, from which a new age of peace and prosperity could spring. A mortal myth. A living legend in her own time. Honestly, the Doctor had always wanted to meet her. He wasn't terribly surprised to realize he already had.

Of course, it all starts with him as her prisoner.

It might seem like a bit of a cliché, but the Doctor has a knack for clichés, tropes, and tawdry quirks. He likes to believe he brings a sort of intrepid style and frankly unparalleled genius to the table that more than makes up for it. From the smirk on River Song's face as he's led into her yurt in chains, the Doctor is sure she agrees. He can't help but smile in return, giving her a cheeky little finger-wave with his bound hands when his two guards turn their backs.

"Was he alone?" she asks, her eyes laughing with the Doctor at their own private joke. They both know how likely that is.

"No, my lord," one of his guards replies. "We found three others sneaking around the perimeter of the camp: a woman with red hair, a man in strange armour, and a boy-child, no more than ten years old."

"Royal spies," a large man with a ridiculously big sword to River's side hisses. "We should send their heads back to the king in a box."

"Is this how you treat all your visitors?" The Doctor knows it'd be wiser to keep quiet and let River sort this out. But that's also exactly why he doesn't. "Knock them unconscious. Chain them up. Threaten their heads with boxes of all things. And who sends a head in a box? I mean, really. I see why you didn't show very well in the travel guide. The least you could do is offer me tea." The nearest guard grabs a hold of him and no doubt he would have received quite a wallop but River laughs and that causes all her men to pause. Even the Doctor, who is still a little ashamed by the involuntary twist in his chest and jump of his stomach at the sound of it. He consoles himself that after nearly a thousand years, his poker face is so good he's sure no one else noticed. Except maybe River herself, but that's always been the problem.

"You think I shouldn't execute you?"

"Yes," the Doctor replies. "No," he corrects and then shakes his head. "I mean, yes. Did you really have to word the question like that? I hate when I answer right and it still sounds wrong."

"Well, if you prefer, I could just execute you and not ask at all." River is good. So good, in fact, that if he didn't know better and was just going off the tone of her voice, he'd think execution actually was a possibility and she was only entertaining the alternative for her own amusement. That's certainly what the other people in the room are supposed to think. But the Doctor does know better. This might be the Shah of the Seven Sands, the Destroyer of Kingdoms, the Plague of the Petty People -he just made that one up himself-, but she was also River Song and though that might be just as bad to some, to the Doctor that will always be a good thing.

"No tea?" he snarks back. The room stills and waits for her reaction.

With a couple words, she could have him killed on the spot. He's chained up by the wrists and ankles. They already took his sonic screwdriver. He's unarmed, unable to run, and there are at least three men in this room ready to kill for her. That shouldn't turn him on, but it still does a bit. River raises a slender eyebrow and draws out the moment, as if to say, 'I know'.

"I'd like the key to his chains," River Song remarks to the room and a guard nearly trips on the edge of one of the carpets piled on the ground in his rush to hand it over to her.

"So would I," the Doctor mumbles.

River holds the iron key up so that it glints in the candlelight as if to mock him. Knowing her, that's entirely possible; he certainly couldn't see any other reason for her to do that. There's nothing special about the thing. It's just a normal, old-fashioned metal key. It's actually a little insulting that the Doctor could be held by something so primitive. Or so he's thinking before she slips it into her decolletage. The Doctor clears his throat, though he's not sure exactly why. Well, he knows -he is a genius after all- but he'd never admit it. That's part of his charm.

"I'd like to interrogate the prisoner." The way her eyes trail slowly over his body and then linger for a moment too long on one area in particular, it's scandalous. The Doctor positions his bound hands to cover himself, though he's still fully dressed. "Personally," she purrs.

He appreciates how she poses her orders like each one is an opportunity for her followers to please her. If you're going to be a dictator, might as well be a polite one. Normally, he objects to orders on principle, but even he might be tempted to follow through on a couple of hers if given the opportunity (and only feel a little resentful about it later).

Especially when she does that with her voice.

"My lord?" The Doctor's worked out that the man with the indecent sword is probably her general. It seems like it'd be the only reason he'd get away with questioning her like that. Still, the way River's eyes go cold and cut to the man . . . The Doctor fidgets in his chains to cover the excited shiver that runs down his spine.

"That means, 'Get out,'" she says and they are alone before most people could say, 'Raxacoricofallapatorius'.

"Impressive," he remarks once it's just the two of them inside her rather luxurious surroundings. "Is that a fountain?" He ignores the way the chains clank against his bony wrists and ankles to shuffle across the room and investigate. "It is! You have a fountain. In a yurt."

"Why not?"

"Running water in a pre-modern desert, for one." The Doctor pops a couple grape-like fruit in his mouth from a bowl, then starts fiddling with various, suspiciously anachronistic trinkets on the table.

"You have a swimming pool in a police box."

He smiles at that but can't help asking, precisely because he knows the answer, "And if I jumped off a bridge, would you?"


"So you're the Shah of the Seven Sands." He chooses to let a little bit of pride sneak into his voice. She grins. It obviously pleases her to hear it.

"You can still call me River." She sneaks up behind him and takes the neutron capacitor out of his hands before he can pocket it. "What are you doing here?"

"What? I'm only allowed to visit with an invitation?"

"The war can't be helped. I tried. It didn't work."

"Relax." He reaches out and runs a knuckle down her cheek. It's a bit awkward with the chains, but he also hopes she might take that as a hint and release him. Her eyes flutter closed and the look on her face for a moment is so vulnerable, so trusting, and yet so powerful. His mouth goes dry. He swallows and then mentally shakes himself. Must not get distracted. What was he saying? Oh! "I'm not here to stop you."

"Then . . ." He can practically hear the ellipsis in her voice.

"We meant to visit the Dancing Markets of Delptor Two in the year 91,811," he answers the implied question, leaning back against the table. River crowds his space in a unfortunately pleasant way. From this angle, he can see down the neckline of her dress. Not that he looks.

"And instead, what? Ended up here?"

He scratches his nose, making sure to jingle the chains especially loud. River crosses her arms and he knows she recognizes the hints he's dropping but is refusing to release him just because. He huffs. "Instead, we ended up in the Daraxi Parthenon during the Bloody Riots of 918."

"Oooh." River makes a sympathetic face. "But that was days ago. Why are you still here?" Before he can reply, she answers her own question. "The little boy."

"Amy found him. He was separated from his father in the confusion. We hoped your men might have taken him captive."

River nods. "His name?"

"Djaq Kawapti Sashawn."

She walks to the center of the room, calls for a guard and when he enters, orders a search for a prisoner by that name.

"Thank you," the Doctor whispers over her shoulder, near her ear, when the guard leaves. The way she shivers at the sound of his voice, suddenly so close, makes him smug. He tells himself that's because he moved so silently in chains -not an easy feat.

"The king took more prisoners than we did," River says. "And if this boy's father was one of them . . ."

The Doctor knows how sadly that sentence ends and so changes the subject. "Not to sound rude, but when are you going to unlock my chains?"

River turns with a theatrical gasp. "Release a spy in my own chambers?"


"Without guards too. I'd be helpless."

"You?" He scoffs. "You, River Song, are never helpless."

"I can be helpless if I want to be. Now, hush, sweetie, and play along."

"I'm also not a spy."

"Oh dear," River places a hand over her mouth, to cover her exaggerated shock. "That is unfortunate."

"Why?" the Doctor asks with suspicion. She's obviously playing a game. Usually, the Doctor has ended up liking her games recently but that doesn't mean he always agrees with her rules.

"Because you're going to be executed for espionage in the morning."

The Doctor blinks several times at that. "No, I'm not."

"Yes, I'm afraid, you are."

"No. I'm not."

"Yes. You are."



"River!" The Doctor takes a moment for a deep breath and River bites her lip in a way that makes him think she's just barely keeping herself from giggling. He shakes a finger at her and makes wordless sounds of frustration to buy time as he tries to figure out how to reply. She rolls her eyes and saunters across the room to artfully arrange herself on a settee, reminding him of Madame Recamier when she posed for him and Jacques-Louis in 19th century France. But -oh!- compared to River, Madame Recamier was a novice.

She raises one foot to perch on the opposite armrest and through the fall of her dress exposes a rather impressively curved length of leg. The Doctor's head fills with the golden ratio, the pyramids, Cleopatra, River as Cleopatra, even as his hand goes to readjust his bowtie, before he remembers to play it cool. It's rather frustrating, how obvious this regeneration's tells are. Still, at least he doesn't squeak anymore.

"Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?" he asks, though he knows that's not exactly the quote and the film-enthusiast in him dies a little. He couldn't help himself. The opportunity was too perfect. He also knows that it'll infuriate her. And he loves it when River gets annoyed. Sure enough, River frowns and tosses her hair over a shoulder. She pulls her diary out from behind a silk pillow, then throws the pillow at his head. Her aim really is quite spectacular. He'll remember to duck faster next time.

"Where are we then?" she asks, glancing at his face before skipping halfway through her diary. "Have we done the Culling Shores?"

He sees what looks like Gallifreyan symbols and tries to get a closer look. She claps the diary to her chest. The Doctor frowns and decides not to answer her just to be difficult. Also, it might have something to do with the fact that he has no clue about the Culling Shores and she obviously does, but he doesn't like to think he's that petty. He is. But he doesn't like to think about it. "You're not serious about the execution, are you?" He knows she's not. Nevertheless, he'd like to hear her say it.

"Do you know who I am, yet?" Which is probably why she's refusing.

Obviously, they'll get nowhere if they keep answering each other with questions, so he decides to be the bigger person. Also, he hopes she might release him from the chains if he plays along. "Your parents are going to be very cross with you if you execute us."

River smiles. "Oh, don't be silly. Why would I execute them?" She skips at least a dozen pages. "We've done Demon's Run, then. Good. I don't look forward to when we get much earlier than that. How about Las Vegas? My hunk'a, hunk'a burnin' love."

The Doctor is torn between being insulted and tickled pink. He doubts it's a good look for him. "I can quite honestly say, I have never been called that in my entire life. I think, I actually prefer 'sweetie'."

"That's a no, then," River replies and snaps the diary shut. "I think I know about where we are."

"Are we at the part where you unlock the chains?"


He pouts. River places the diary on a nearby table and lounges back against the arm of the settee. She sighs and mimics his pout. "If you really want to take those off, you know where the key is."

"But it's in your," he gestures to his own chest but he really doesn't have the right bits, "top."

"Yes, Doctor." She smiles. "Is that a problem?"

"A bit. How am I supposed to get it?" he asks. She raises an eyebrow. He gasps. "River Song! I'd never."

"You wanna bet?"

The Doctor pretends to be scandalized for another few seconds, but it's not nearly as fun when everyone in the room knows it's mostly an act. Instead, he takes a few hesitant steps toward her, eyeing her breasts while trying not to look like it.

"They don't bite," she teases.

He tugs on the lapels of his jacket. "I know that." Though, it delays him for a second or two while his brain is distracted with the thought.

However, when he sees that almost sad smile on her face, the one that says she's about to give up on him and offer him a way out, that he's still too young, that he's still not quite enough her Doctor, he's spurred into action. He moves forward and is quite certain he's about to stick his hand down River Song's bosom. At the last second, when his finger catches on the very edge of her neckline, she rolls off the other side of the settee onto her feet and laughs, dancing a few steps away. He reaches out for her and she laughs even more, keeping just beyond his reach.

"Are you physically incapable of playing fair?" He tries to cross his arms but is thwarted by the cuffs and ends up just looking like an idiot instead. The Doctor makes sure River hears him huff and throws himself down on the settee with enough flair to make Cathy Earnshaw jealous. He scowls, though not at River; he thinks he might hate that book this regeneration. He doesn't think he's much for wuthering. His eighth self loved it. Well, not much accounting for taste. Except for jelly babies. He needs to get himself some more of those. "Mmm, jelly babies," he murmurs before realizing he's gotten quite distracted.

Luckily, River seems used to him doing that.

"You're just grumpy that I'm winning." She takes a small step forward, while he shakes the creases out of his trousers. He catches the movement in the corner of his eye and enjoys a sort of chemical cocktail of lingering adrenaline, rising endorphins, and various hormones, both the Human and Time Lord variety. He feels it buzzing beneath his skin, bursting little bubbles of excitement and anticipation that go straight to his brain, leaving him a tiny bit light-headed (like that one time with Jack and the hypervodka . . . or every time he saves the world and runs for his life). The Doctor hears her advance another step behind him and it takes all of his -admittedly, somewhat pathetic- stores of self-control to stay relaxed, body open and closed, biding his time.

"You're not winning," the Doctor corrects her. "You're just awful at losing. I wasn't going to point it out, but if you're going to be all smug about it." He tries to cross his legs but is thwarted in that too. Suddenly, he's overcome by a wave of claustrophobia and starts yanking on the metal cuffs. The Doctor twists his body to slip a foot over the chains between his hands and pulls, nearly dislocating a thumb and kneeing himself in the eye in the process.

"Ohhh, poor baby," River has the gall to coo at him. She runs her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck and the Doctor briefly closes his eyes at the feel of it, that shock of contact and electricity, like the static thrum one gets in the fingertips and toes when dragging sock-clad feet over electrically-charged carpet after a storm. In that moment between thought and action, when he is almost too pleased with himself for words, he runs the pads of one thumb and forefinger together, cataloging the similarities of sensation; he's half-tempted to press his fingertips to his tongue, wondering if they'd taste like ozone, rain, and River.

They will soon.

He smirks.

It takes concentration and an impressive amount of coordination, but the Doctor's been planning this since the moment he splayed himself dejectedly on the settee -since several seconds before, actually- and has only been waiting. He's not usually much for planning or patience, but River is slowly reteaching him the value in both. The Doctor twists in his seat, looping his chained arms over River's head, down her body, to hook around the small of her back and tugs. She doesn't just give in; River struggles (like he hoped and knew she would), even while her own arms lock around his neck and clasp at his back in an embrace. Of course they over-balance. It'd be too much to ask that he get the angles and timing right and still be graceful about the whole thing too.

The Doctor literally falls head-over-heels, dragging River along for the ride. She doesn't seem to mind. Not that he ever expected her to; somehow, she has a way of making it feel like it was still all her idea, even when he's certain it was his in the first place. Good thing, she also has a way of making him not mind as much as he really should.

"Ooof," River remarks, even though he's the one who just hit the ground with a full-grown woman on his chest. She breathes heavy-hot in his ear, pressing her grin into the dip of his jaw, and it gives him ideas.

"Oh, look at that," he says. "Suddenly, a ceiling."

"Really? I was more surprised by the ground."

"Yes, I'd noticed that too."

"Not that I'm complaining."

"No. No! Not at all. It's a very lovely ceiling. And as grounds go, I've had worse."

"That'd be the 16th century Latorxian rugs. Made from the very best honey-worm silk."

"Ooh!" The Doctor wiggles on the ground to better get a feel for the rugs. Or at least that is what he'd tell people. Of course, it causes River to bounce and slide on top of him, which is more than a little distracting, in the very best and worst ways.

"You like?" she whispers, voice gone low and husky.

"I do," he replies and realizes that his voice has decided to do the exact same thing.

"I've always wondered what it'd feel like on naked skin."

He gulps. "I would've thought that'd be the first thing you tried."

"Been a bit busy." River rubs down and then a little up and for a few seconds, the Doctor's seriously concerned he might go cross-eyed. "Planning a revolution. Overthrowing an evil king. Kissing history and taking names. You know how it goes."

"River, you bad, bad girl."

And suddenly they're kissing. He has no idea how that happened. Except maybe he's the one who started it. Hopefully, River won't tell.

There's nothing sweet and subtle about this kiss. It's all wet lips and hot tongues and just a little bit of teeth. They're both already breathing hard and the Doctor squeezes his eyes shut, overcome with tastesmelltouch. He can identify half the chemicals on River's skin with his mouth but chooses not to; deciding to just feel and enjoy and live in this space of time. But he can't help but sense the timelines like a door caught from the corner of his eye and being around River has always been like being blindfolded and spun in place. The Doctor is never quite sure where to turn with her, where those timelines lead, and there are so many more than anyone might expect from their strange, back-to-front, three-legged race of a romance. Even now, she moans into his mouth and he knows, in one timeline,

this is too soon, he pushes her away, she understands, and they both can't quite look at each other, at least until next time/last time.

He runs his chained hands along the curve of her spine, pushing down on her lower back, encouraging her to buck into him, and he sees another timeline, where

River feels him hesitate and she pulls back, believes she knows what's best for him, decides he's not ready, and sends him away.

In the now, he nips her lip for that one and decides not to look at the others. They don't matter. He's made his choice. He's not pulling back. He's not hesitating. He's kissing River Song on the floor of a yurt in the middle of an army on an alien planet at the crossroads of history because the TARDIS took a wrong turn - or maybe he entered the coordinates funny- and it's brilliant and mad and exhilarating and terrifying and if he doesn't get these chains off right now, he's going to scream.

"Keykeykey," he chants while running his lips down her chin and under her jaw. She laughs and he groans, "River."

"This better not be you trying to trick me, Doctor."

"No trick." He kisses down her neck and chases a pulse point. Her heart is beating fast, fast for a human. That is fast for a human, isn't it? He can't quite remember because he can't concentrate because River is on top of him and he's wondering whether or not he should go after the key with his teeth but his chin is quite big this time, as is his nose, and he's pretty sure he'll just end up mouthing her chest -which, now that he's thinking about it, isn't exactly a bad thing. "But if you release these bloody chains, I'm sure I can come up with a trick or two that'll impress even you, River Song."

"Ooh, Doctor," River's voice is a smile and he can feel it like a hitch in his chest. It reminds him of running and running and running and then when he thinks he's going to collapse, running even more. "Swearing already? How exciting!"

"River," he growls in the back of his throat, but she kisses his temple and smooths a hand up his chest. He looks down in time to see her slip one pale, elegant hand between her breasts -beautiful! - and pull out the key.

She runs her hands down to their sides and forces his arms up. For a minute, he has no choice but to let go and River starts pulling away.

He hates that key!

The next second, River straddles his hips, tossing her hair back from her face, and holds his hands by the chains. She is quick and with two clicks and a twist of her pelvis - "Oooh!"- his hands are finally free.

He loves that key!

River catches his eyes and raises one of his hands up to her poppy red lips, kisses his pulse point. There's something intimate in that, a soft feeling that causes him to hold his breath. He doesn't examine the feeling, afraid it might hurt to touch. When she pulls back, he sees the faintest outline from her lipstick still on his skin.

"I hope that's not hallucinogenic," he remarks, retrieving his hand like he doesn't mean it. His fingertips cling on every knuckle of her fingers until suddenly, they've let go and that feels a little bit like falling.

"If so, what a time to think to ask." River grins. "I'd never do that to you, sweetie. Well, that one time, but you asked so pretty. No, believe me, Doctor, I prefer to blow your mind the old fashioned way." She bends back down and kisses him; their hands get tangled together as they both reach to hold her hair away from their faces. He's just getting to the good part when she pulls back. The Doctor is ready to complain but then River twists around, turning her back on him and -hello, River's bum!- crawling down the front of his body toward his feet. For a second or two, his massive brain honestly has no clue what she's doing and doesn't even really care. Then he hears two clicks and his ankles are suddenly lighter. She smiles over her shoulder at him and wiggles her bottom like a challenge.

He is going to steal that key, have it gold plated, and hang it in the library so he can stammer and blush when future companions ask about it. He doesn't need to read timelines to know that. It's just a fact.

And speaking of facts, when has the Doctor ever been able to resist a challenge?

He lunges up, wrapping his arms around River's waist and pulls her back against his chest. She shrieks, throwing back her head onto his shoulder, before dissolving into laughter.

"Shhh!" he warns, pressing fingers to her lips. She kisses them. "Your guards. I'd really rather not be found in such a . . . uh, delicate position."

"Don't worry, dear. They know better than to interrupt my fun. After all, someone had to give them the idea that boxes are meant for heads."

"Ah. I forgot," he lies. "You scream when having fun, do you?"

"Only the very best." Her hand reaches up to clutch at the back of his neck and the feel of her nails teasing the skin at his hairline makes him sigh.

"You'd say I'm the very best then?" He remembers that long ago conversation in the TARDIS and, like many of their memories, wonders if he is just now getting one of her jokes.

"None better, my love," she answers both of his questions.

The Doctor laughs, pushing his nose into her curls just behind her ear. He breathes mint and senses just the barest bit of lye on the back of his throat. It's a smell he's come to associate with River, that cool tingle and taste on the air alongside the bitter nip of what is essentially a useful poison. Regulation, fifty-first century prison shampoo, he realizes. Even here, River smells like the Stormcage. The Doctor breathes deeper until his head is too full and his thoughts are not so very, very loud.

She helps him with that by sitting back on his lap and slowly circling her hips.

"Guh!" He clutches at her hip with his free hand, even as River begins to suck on the fingertips he had pressed to her lips. The Doctor can't help the little, jerky motion of his hips at that. "Why," he begins a thought but then gets distracted by the need to lick and nip on River's ear lobe since it was far too close to his mouth for him to consider doing anything else first; in fact, having waited this long was unbearably rude of him and could have been grounds for divorce on several planets. He's still not sure whether or not he marries River, but better safe than sorry.

"Sorry, what was that?" River's hand trails down from the side of his neck, over his arm, to cover the hand he has clenched on her hip. She moves his hand forward, under her dress, and if this is her way of trying to keep him coherent, she fails spectacularly.

"What?" His fingers trace the line of where her thigh meets pelvis and is shocked -perhaps for the first time this evening- by the fact that River Song apparently does wear knickers. Several of his favourite fantasies are simultaneously and brutally murdered. Not that he'd ever admit to those fantasies. After all, he is the Doctor and has an image to maintain. Still. Knickers! At a time like this.

"What possible use does River Song have for knickers?" His voice is completely indignant, even as his hand slips inside her treacherous knickers to run his fingers through the damp curls there.

"The same-," River pauses and breathes hot and wet against the fingers of his hand she has been holding against her mouth. He takes that hand away, moving it to her breast, to push up and squeeze ever so gently. The Doctor grins at the hitch in her breathing and eases a finger lower, just slipping into her slick folds, before pulling back. "-As other people, I imagine," she finishes, no doubt just to prove she could.

He tsks in her ear, running a thumb over her nipple with one hand, even while slipping two fingers into her with the other, searching for . . . and at her cry, he knows he found it. The sound she makes as he circles her clit goes straight to his gut and he sucks hard against the side of her neck until he's sure there will be a mark. Some part of him wonders, the next time they meet, will he see it? Maybe not next time, but sometime in his future? A hundred years from now, will he see this River with that bruise and recognize her? Almost certainly not, but he still hopes he might. River takes notes in her diary; the Doctor would very much like to leave clues on her body. And like that, he knows that he's going to develop a fetish for marking River, leaving some proof that they touched, some part of him that travels with her forward in time, even when they never meet in the right order. He wants to grab her a little too hard, use his teeth, kiss until it bruises. He wants her to sink in her fingernails and push him into tables and mark him just as clearly as he marks her. He wants it to hurt a little because loving River and knowing where this is going, where he has already been, hurts a lot.

The Doctor wants to strip her naked and touch bone to bone.

"Then why are we still wearing so many clothes?" River asks and he only just realizes he's been rambling aloud. It's difficult to say which pieces she heard, but he can only hope that it didn't give away too many spoilers. Especially the loving her part, though he suspects she knows that one already. But it's still a bit new to him and he'd like to keep it for himself a little while longer, like a child's Christmas toy, too special to share.

He rubs his fingers slowly, counterclockwise, and she jerks back against him, causing him to moan. With her in his lap, it's not all pleasure but in fact is starting to verge on the edge of pain, since the Doctor has noticed his trousers are actually getting smaller somehow, and unbearably hot. If he doesn't get out of them soon, he's afraid there might be permanent damage to . . . parts.

"We must get naked," the Doctor says. "The world might depend on it." River snorts. "Okay, my world, the world that encompasses myself and my sanity. Ohhh, River!" he groans when she rubs her back on his chest and lap like a cat in heat. "Get off! No! Not like that! I mean, well, not yet. But stop that. You're causing a situation."

"You started it," she accuses, digging her nails into his wrists and bringing his attention back to the fact that he is still kneading her breast and rubbing her clit. Oh. In that case, he can hardly blame her for sliding around on his lap like he's a new ride about to take off. Still, something has to be done about it. With a supreme force of will, he lets go of her breast -only running a knuckle over her stiff nipple once in goodbye- and pulls his other hand out of her knickers.

River leans forward, onto her hands and knees, and pants. With her out of his lap, he takes advantage of the moment to catch his own breath. The sudden feel of cool air on his groin through the sweat-slick fabric of his trousers causes him to close his eyes and hiss between his teeth. River's looking over her shoulder again when he opens his eyes.

"Race you," she says with a hearts-twisting grin.

He swats her on the behind with the back of his hand as an answer.

She's up on her feet before he can think to move. River turns and stands at the end of his legs. She begins to push at the shoulders of her gown, pulling on ties that loosen the bodice, and it takes little more than a shake and a shimmy before she's wearing nothing more than twenty-first century, cobalt-blue bra and knickers. When he only stares, she raises one eyebrow.

"Right," the Doctor replies, about to set his hands on the ground to help lever himself to his feet, but reconsiders at the last moment. He raises the hand that had recently been inside River's knickers and sucks the first two fingers in his mouth, moaning at the taste and the heady, chemical rush. She makes a small, strangled sound and her own hand pets the slope of her stomach down to slip her fingertips beneath the band of her underwear. He pulls his fingers out of his mouth with a wet pop and shakes one at her. "That's cheating."

"Then hurry up and get out of that ridiculous bow-tie before I finish without you." River reaches behind her back, unsnaps her bra, and tosses it at him. He catches it against his chest and looks up in time to see her roll her knickers down her thighs to land around her ankles. In his defense, he's distracted, watching her step out of her underwear and wondering whether or not she'd actually follow through on her threat (and whether he should just watch), so it takes him several seconds to realize his cue.

"Bow-ties are cool!" He climbs to his feet with indignation, pulling off his braces and letting them fall to his sides with angry snaps. River perches on the armrest of the settee to watch him undress. The Doctor's too caught up by her apparent insult to his quirk of choice to remember to be embarrassed. He undoes his bow-tie with one hand while pointing at her with the other. "I'll have you know all the best people wear them."

River nods her head indulgently. He shrugs out of his jacket, dropping it to the floor.

"Honoré de Balzac himself once said that bow-ties distinguish a man of genius!" Okay, so that wasn't exactly the entirety of the quote, but he's betting River doesn't know that. She crosses her arms over her breasts -oooh! - and must suspect something, so he hurries on, unbuttoning his shirt with practiced twists of his fingers and flick of the wrists. "Winston Churchill wears bow-ties! With little polka-dots on them." He giggles at the memory, pulling his shirt down his arms before remembering he's forgotten to undo the wrists. He struggles to unbutton them now but doesn't miss how River rolls her eyes. "Hey! You defend Nixon but dismiss Churchill? Sometimes, I think you're not really British at all."

"Technically, sweetie-"

"Aha!" he cries, triumphant, when he escapes his sleeves. He throws his shirt at her as payback for the bra (not that he minded). She tosses it over her shoulder. "Then there's Bill Nye."

"The science guy?"

"He's cool!" He unbuttons and unzips his trousers before remembering his boots. Shrugging to himself, he pulls the front open to give himself breathing room, so to speak, and then hesitates between taking off his undershirt first or his boots.

"Boots," River suggests. So, naturally, the Doctor starts with the undershirt. He grabs the hem and yanks it over his head, feeling how it fills his hair with electricity before he tosses it behind him. He hears something break. River stands up and moves toward him. He realizes, this is the first time he's ever seen her walking toward him naked, and now he wonders if he'll have inconvenient flashes of memory of this at inopportune times - like when she's helping him fly the TARDIS or holding an enemy threat at gunpoint or when they're just walking down the street with Amy and Rory. He hopes so. Well, maybe not the Amy and Rory bit because that's a little bit weird. But - Oh!

"Amy and Rory!" the Doctor exclaims just as River is standing naked in front of him with her hands on his bare chest.

Her face goes blank and she blinks several times in quick succession. "Doctor, please don't exclaim my parents' names while I'm naked."

"Sorry!" He blushes and covers her hands with his own, rubbing the insides of her wrists with his thumbs. "Sorry. I wasn't thinking of them. Oh, that lie's rubbish; I was. But not like that! I just remembered! They're still back in your jail -Or at least the yurt you're using as a jail. What do you call that? A yail? - tied up and gagged. Well, Amy's gagged (long story). How could I possibly have sex with our imprisoner while my companions are left in the dark, wondering about our fate?"

River smirks and takes a hold of his shoulders, turning them around. "Like you've never done that before."

"I haven't!"

She gives him a look, while slowly backing him up toward the settee. Probably the way her breasts jiggle as she walks breaks him faster than anything else.

"Okay, once!"

River's silence is accusation enough.


She pushes him back and his knees hit something, causing him to sit down on the settee in what he likes to think of as an elegant tumble. River puts her hands on her hips.

"The Master doesn't count," he pouts.

She leans over and kisses him chastely on the mouth. He marvels and imagines only River Song could do that, strike that breathtaking balance between sexy and innocent, dominant and submissive, hard and soft, all in the exact same moment, a personified paradox in a singular space of time. Sometimes, when he's not prepared for the thought, the Doctor thinks she might be perfect, down to her imperfections. That scares him half to death.

"Do you know what I think, Doctor?" she asks, lowering herself to her knees in front of him. His eyes follow the hands she is running up and down his thighs to his lap and the open panels of his trousers. These last couple minutes of conversation and distance to undress have given him time for the urgency to pass and he's sure he's not going to imminently embarrass himself anymore. But his body is still intensely interested in where this is going and becoming more so the closer River's hands get.

"I know what I hope you're thinking," he replies with a cheeky smirk.

She tucks her chin and her eyes flirt with him like promises, even as her hands wander farther away. River's fingers run over the fabric of his trousers, around his knees, across the bones of his shins, before she takes one of his feet in her hands.

"I think," River begins to untie his left boot, "you are far more concerned with what people might think this means about you than what it really does."

"You have to admit," he says, "people have a point."

"I know they usually think they do." She yanks his boot and he pulls to help. Once it's off, River sets the boot aside and rolls off his sock. He wonders, why do feet have to be so ugly? What kind of evolutionary adaption is that? Of course, not everyone's feet are ugly. River, for example, has perfectly lovely feet. Why he chooses to think about his feet when one is next to River's -frankly, glorious- naked breasts is absolutely beyond him. Probably just because the alternative is so expected. Sometimes, even he gets sick of his obnoxious side.

She picks up his right foot and begins to untie the boot. There's something about seeing her at his feet that makes him both uneasy and painfully excited. It's hard to tell the feelings apart, they intermingle and build onto each other with level after level of adrenaline and serotonin until his ears begin to buzz with the rush of blood. He's uneasy because it makes him so excited. He's so excited because there are things about this that should make him uneasy. And he knows how wrong this probably is.

For example: "I ruined your childhood, River."

She pulls on his boot but he isn't helping her this time and it's more difficult. "No. The Church did that." She doesn't look up at him, focusing on loosening his shoestrings instead, and that's a statement in itself. When River can't meet his eyes, the Doctor knows he's found a truth.

"For fear of me," he replies. "For me."

She twists his boot off, rolls down his sock, and calmly sets both aside. With this done, River raises her face and looks him straight in the eyes.

"What are you trying to say, Doctor?" The way she crosses her arms, it's no longer a sign of frustration or impatience, though that's what she wants him to think. She's covering her breasts. For the first time since taking off her clothes, she acts naked. He can see her bones. The Doctor wonders if this is really what he wanted. The scary part is that it probably is.

He presses his lips together and considers not answering. That'd be the easiest thing for him to do. The coward's way, and the Doctor is in his hearts such a coward but River is so very brave -'They're always brave,' he remembers- and sometimes, he wants to be like her, even when he's afraid that she's too much like him.

"Since before you were born," he finally says. "Your life. You entire life, River. It's been . . . manipulated according to who I am. And then when you were born! Amy told me, she said the first stories you ever heard were about me. Then Kovarian, whispering in your ear lies and -worse, yet!- truths about me. You grew. Out of me."

"So now you're wondering," River places her hands on his knees, causing him to shiver in a goodbad way that he doesn't like himself for enjoying, "does River Song want to make love to you or does Melody Pond want to fuck the Doctor?"

He pauses, before nodding. "Do you?"


His blood goes cold and hot.

"Do you want to know a spoiler, sweetie?" she asks.

"I always want to know. Doesn't mean I should."

"This one shouldn't hurt. It's just a little one." River smiles, running her hands up his thighs. Her thumbnails catch on his inseam and he reflexively spreads his legs another inch apart. "When I was a little girl, do you know what I wanted more than anything? It was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep and the first thing I thought about when I woke up. Some days, it was all I could think about. It's one of my very earliest memories. Can you guess what it is?"

"No." The Doctor is too afraid to guess. "What did you want, River Song?"

"A pony."

He is actually speechless. She bites her lip, reaching out to play with the buttonhole on his trousers. "I'm afraid it says a lot about me," she confesses.

"A . . . pony," he repeats.

"Yes." She grins, walking her fingers over his lap to rest the heel of her palm against where he is still more than half-hard and trapped inside his pants. "So growing up, everyone might have been telling me all about you, but I was really far more interested in that pony. Sorry, sweetie."

The Doctor stares at where her hand still rests in his lap and how she runs a finger through the hair trailing from his belly-button into his pants. He licks his bottom lip and meets her eyes. She's laughing at him without even making a sound. Some tension in his shoulders that he hadn't been aware of until now disappears and he laughs, low and lazy.

"Then, I suppose you'd like it if I took you riding." As well as cliches, tropes, and tawdry quirks, he also has a weakness for bad puns and ancient euphemisms. When accused of bad taste, he says it's a Time Lord thing . . . which is actually true now that he's the only one.

"I've had lessons." Thank goodness, River's just as bad.

"Is that an offer to show me?"

"Seeing as I'm already dressed . . . " She leans forward and her breasts rest on the top of his trouser-clad knees.

He reaches out and bops her on the nose with a finger. "Oh, Freud would love you."

River slowly pushes the heel of her hand down on where he's grown hotter and harder and he swallows past a dry throat. "Who says we haven't met?" she asks. He grins and can't help his excited fidgeting or that sound he makes as the friction travels from his groin up and down his spine to the tip of his toes, fingers, and then somehow ending up in the center of his hindbrain which is a place he usually reserves for things like remembering to breathe. The Doctor just adores when River gets anachronistic in all her timey-whimey, bumpy-wumpy glory.

It gets even better when she twists her hand around, smoothing her fingers across his lower stomach all the way down, and reaches into his pants, pulling him out into the open air. His arms give out and his body collapses into the embrace of the settee. There is a silk pillow uncomfortably wedged into the small of his back but in that moment, he honestly couldn't care less. His hands clench on the cushions to his sides.

River begins a gentle, almost lazy tugging motion beginning at his base, pausing to sweep at the tip, and using her thumb to play with the ridge of his foreskin on the way back down. If the Doctor weren't so overwhelmed by the sheer sensory overload centering deep in his gut and behind his eyes, he might have actually been disturbed by the fact that River knows exactly how this body wants to be touched. Instead, he is mostly just very, very thankful.

She clenches a hand over his hip and digs in her nails just enough to make him hiss and buck into her hand and the candle-scented air.

"I wonder," she says and it takes him a moment to realize those sounds are words and have meaning. The pleasure is like a drug-induced haze; he is aware there's more to life, in the abstract sense, but in that moment -and then the next and the next- all he cares about is this, now, more. She could continue that sentence or leave it hanging forever and in that second, he wouldn't really care. There is a tiny part of him, still sensible and insightful enough to realize that that might be her entire point for speaking like this at all.

"Do you want to know what this means to me?" she asks, before pausing to lick along one vein running his entire length from bottom to just below the top. River sucks the head of his cock like an obscene lollipop and he very nearly forgets the question altogether. He drops his head back, making a strangled sound in the back of his throat.

That appears to be answer enough for her.

"You are the Doctor," River says, speeding up her strokes to match his heavy breathes and staccato heartsbeat. "Your name is carved across the universe in starlight. Entire civilizations live only because you smile on them. There is not a moment in time you do not touch, and yet you let me touch you. I have seen you be a god and thought nothing of it, but when you let me see you like this, as a man who could break any moment at my hands-" She pauses again and her touch stills. He raises his head to see her.

River is staring at him, swollen and exposed, in her grasp. She looks up and holds his eyes as she leans down to place a closed kiss on the left side of his cock just above her hand.

"-I see you," she murmurs, lifting her head, letting him slide against the soft skin of her cheek, before taking him in her mouth and nearly swallowing him down. His eyes slam shut and the pleasure is so intense, it hurts too. He can feel himself hit the back of her throat, remembers all those times she looked at him in the past/future and how she already knew the taste of him. River Song could make him feel so out of control, though never so much as at this very moment. He always imagined that she must have felt so powerful and yes, there is some part of him that delights that he has put her on her knees, but it's so much more than that. The Doctor is stripped bare, beyond flesh, to instinct and intimacy and River Song holds and kisses him, willingly takes him into her mouth and offers him her body. This is about trust. They are both powerful and they are both vulnerable. But that's okay because he's the Doctor and she's River Song and that's how it's supposed to be.

Her head bobs in his lap, the slick and flushed skin of his cock thrusting in and out between her lips, but in that moment, the idea that he had ever not trusted her is the truly indecent thought.

It is almost too much.

He stops her before it is.

The Doctor tangles a hand in her hair and pulls her away. She seems reluctant to let go but after a small hesitation, withdraws and covers her raw and wet lips with the back of her hand. His eyes notice the high blush in her cheeks, the slight sheen of excited sweat on her forehead, the way her nipples have puckered from the occasional draft underneath the walls or maybe just from touching him like this, how the candle light ripples in the curls of her hair and casts shadows under her cheekbones, beneath her breasts, between her legs. He can smell their sex in the air.

He forgets entire swaths of history to make room for this memory, because he never wants to lose it.

"You wonder?" he asks and she seems surprised that he remembers. To be honest, so does he, considering what she was doing to him when she said it, but he knew it was important and when River says something important, the Doctor hears.

River's hands fall back to rest on his knees and she licks her red, red lips. "I wonder," she says, "what this means to you." His hearts stumble inside his chest at the sound of her voice. She asks without a question mark and the Doctor understands he's not the only one that has to go long-stretches without answers in this relationship.

He reaches out, lifts her chin with two fingers, and just looks into her face.

"Who are you, River Song?" he asks.

Several emotions flit across her face in quick succession: confusion, annoyance, and concern. "You already know that."

"You're more than Demon's Run," the Doctor replies. "That's not where I found you."

He leans over, wincing at the scratch of fabric on sensitive flesh, but endures it because he knows he needs to do this. The Doctor kisses River gently, sweetly, before whispering in her ear, "Lay back." He sits up and can still see that she doesn't understand. Nevertheless, she trusts him -that's the entire point- and so she moves to lay on her back, stretched out in front of him on the silk carpets.

The Doctor stands up and pushes his trousers and pants down his legs, kicking them under the settee and out of their way. He steps over River's legs and sits down, straddling her knees. He places his hands on her hips and gazes at how, if he stretches his fingers, he can almost cradle her pelvis in his grasp. River places her hands on his shoulders, neither pulling nor pushing, only touching, and he glances up to give her a smile. She smiles back.

He rubs his thumbs across her hip-bones and watches as goose-flesh spreads across her stomach and up her ribs.

"You told me, River. What this means to you." He stretches out an arm beside her hair for support and lowers his body until her nipples graze his chest with her every breath and his cock rests between them in the crease of her thighs. "You said, it's about who I am." He kisses her collar bone and brushes his knuckles up and down the curve of her waist with his free hand. "You said, it's because I am the Doctor."

"Yes," she sighs and it could be an answer or just an exhalation of pleasure as he scraps his teeth down her chest and takes a nipple into his mouth. He teases it with the tip of his tongue before pulling back and resting his chin on the pillow of her breast to speak.

"Then, can't my answer be the same?" he asks. She glances down at him with continued confusion and frustration and the Doctor thinks he can forgive her difficulty following his train of thought for once, considering they have been teasing and tempting each other for far too long now and they both know he is about to shag her senseless. Even he's having some difficulty thinking, given the circumstances. "Maybe this means the same thing to me. It's about who you are. And you're River Song."

He feels her go stiff beneath him. Her chest doesn't move; she's holding her breath.

The Doctor looks into River's face, searching her eyes, and sees mirrors in her expression. It's hard to imagine River Song with insecurities or self-doubt. She's always so forward and brazen and confident. Of course, so is the Doctor and he knows how much he questions and even hates himself. Perhaps they really are too much alike for their own good.

He moves up her body, cupping her cheeks in his palms, and rests his forehead against hers. "Oh, River." Closing his eyes tight, he gathers the courage for honesty and wraps himself in it so as not to feel so very, very naked. The Doctor pulls back only so far that their noses are still almost touching and opens his eyes. She opens hers. "You know who I am. What makes you think you're anything less amazing?"

River's arms wrap around his neck and she stretches up to kiss him. He presses his body down against the entire long, lean line of hers, feeling all the places where she is soft and giving and all the angles that are sharp and won't be moved. The Doctor wants it all.

He nudges between her thighs, her course pubic hair teasing the tip of his cock, until he has to pull his mouth away from hers to pant against her cheek.

River gives a wordless, little cry of frustration, her legs shifting restlessly where they are trapped between his own. He moves his weight, rolling them onto their sides, and she wastes no time before throwing a knee over his hip and running the nails of one hand down his spine, causing him to arch against her.

"Know what would be really amazing?" she asks, kissing and then grinning against the underside of his chin.

He squeezes a hand down between them, rubbing three fingers against her cunt, and he groans. "Oh, you're so wet, River," he says like a secret.

"For you, sweetie, always" she replies, squeezing his bum in one of her hands while the other clutches at the back of his neck from where it is trapped supporting her on the floor.

The Doctor sinks two fingers into her and is so hard, he rubs himself against the inside of her thigh and clenches his jaw as he feels her squeeze around him. River presses her face into his shoulder and whimpers. He positions his thumb against her clit, circling in the steady counter-clockwise motion he already knows she likes, even as he begins to pump his fingers in and out of her with long strokes, a rhythm of slow withdraw and then forceful return. Her breath hitches, holds, and then doubles. He can feel the pounding of her heart through the wall of her chest and into his own, growing with the speed and strength of his fingers inside and against her until they both seem to shudder with the force of it.

River's body is growing hot and their sweat is making them stick and slide against each other as they fight against the limits of skin to skin to get even closer. She writhes against him, her nipples pebbled and insistent against his own chest. One of his arms is busy supporting himself above their heads, only available to periodical push River's hair out of her face so that he can kiss her, even as the other is busy knuckles deep inside her body, working her toward what he desperately hopes will be a screaming orgasm. He doesn't have another arm to see to her breasts and so instead rubs his chest against her own, hoping that his sparse hair there and the rougher texture of his skin will be enough.

She's panting and giving these small little cries in his ear that drive him mad. The Doctor glances down and watches the way his hand works itself between their bodies, the way the muscles in River's thigh and bottom clench with his every move. He can smell how wet she is and he tastes the salt of her skin as he licks the edge of her collarbone up to the round of her shoulder. All of these sensations combine and fill his head until he forgets nearly everything else. He feels so much, which only brings the hungry feeling in his groin, that lack of connection or at least enough friction with his cock, into sharper focus.

The Doctor bites into River's shoulder and she keens, "Oh god, now!"

He doesn't need to be told twice and pulls his hand out of her quivering cunt, takes a hold of his cock, positions himself with a shaky grip, and slams into her with more force than is probably polite. She gives a small grunt as the air leaves her chest, but otherwise offers no complaint; instead, hitches her knee higher up his hip and wraps her arm tighter around his back. He begins to thrust and River digs her nails into his shoulder blade and the back of his neck, causing him to hiss with the pleasurepain.

The Doctor pushes into her and thinks of New New York and what it would be like to die from bliss. He pulls out and imagines nothing could make him stop now. He really wouldn't give a damn if anyone walked through that door, whether it be Amy or Rory or even the Master or Rose. He pushes back in and believes the world could be ending, people could be dying, everything could be falling apart and he'd just keep on fucking River Song.

"My love," she gasps against his collarbone and for the first time, he doesn't just allow the presumption, but revels in the title. As the Doctor kisses her with open, panting lips and pounds into her body, he thinks he can't remember the last time he opened himself to something so dangerous. Perhaps not since Mars and that's exactly what this feels like, the Time Lord Victorious.

"Good girl," he exhales against her temple when he feels her begin to lose rhythm and cry out with his every lunge. He grabs her knee and lifts it until he can hold it in place against his ribs with an elbow and clutch at her arse with his hand, even as he grinds his pubic bone up with his every thrust, causing her to shudder and clutch as the action rubs against her swollen clit. "That's my girl. You're so close. Ohhh, I can feel it. Come for me, River."

"Doctor," she sobs into his shoulder, panting into his skin and sending shocks of hot/cold shooting up his spine.

"River. Song. You gorgeous. Gorgeous." His own thrusts are beginning to lose structure and his hips are jerking about beyond his control. He knows his fingers are digging so hard into her hip and arse that there will be bruises almost as soon as he lets go. But he can't even think of letting go, too wound up tight -like being blind-folded and spun in place, he remembers- and spinning, spinning, and spinning until he's more a thing than a person and he is going to snap if it doesn't stop soon. He doesn't want it to end but it has to and he can't wait and he's afraid and River is crying out, begging and demanding for just. a. little. more.

She breaks first and is as loud as he hoped she'd be. That sound grabs at something deep in his chest and twists.

He rolls her onto her back, pressing as much skin as he can cover against his own, tangling his fingers deep into her hair and pulling until she lifts her neck and he can slip his hands farther to cradle the back of her head from the ground. They are rubbing cheek to cheek, his nose is deep in the curls at her temple and around her ear. He will never forget the scent and flavor of her at this moment, the smell of orgasm will always be associated with the fall of her hair and the memory-taste of their sex sweat with every flash of her skin. He is rewritting the very way he sees her.

River hitches both her legs over the small of his back, wrapping her arms around his chest, and scratches down his spine, as the Doctor drives into her two, three, four more times, shouts and shudders. For an infinite moment, his mind goes utterly quiet as all the sensations collect and rush through him and he is sinking, drowning, overcome.

Time stops.

Somewhere out there the universe is being born. Somewhere out there the universe is dying. Everything, every action taken, every choice overlooked, will happen, is happening, and happened. In the center of that limbo, the Doctor feels the entropy of it all in the grasp of River Song's arms.

But even that has to end.

"Sweetie," River murmurs into his ear.


"You're pulling my hair."

"Oh." He untangles his fingers, kisses her ear in apology, and rolls off to the side. She doesn't follow him and cuddle beneath his arm or rest her head on his chest. They lay side by side, letting the air cool and dry the sweat from their bodies. He reaches out for her hand and finds hers already reaching for him. The Doctor weaves their fingers together and thinks about fixed events.

He can hear the fountain in the corner. He sees their clothes and his chains strewn around them on the floor. The Latorxian rugs are really quite nice on naked skin, but no doubt he'd enjoy them more if the key -the one he is going to gold plate and hang in his library- were not digging into his shoulder-blade. He remembers Amy and Rory are still somewhere tied up and gagged (and only feels a little bit guilty).

The Doctor wonders if River's men have found the little boy's father in her camp.

"River," he whispers and she hums at him a question mark. "You're not really going to execute me."

"Hmm," she replies.

He turns his head to see her profile. Her eyes are still closed, one hand clasped in his own, the other resting, palm up, beneath her own breast. The Doctor watches the rise and fall of her chest . . .not just to admire the curve and peak of her nipples and breasts, but also to determine her respiration rate. She's relaxed but definitely not asleep. The way the corner of her mouth ticks up says she's playing with him.


"River," he says with a little less after-glow and a little more anxiety. "I'd feel better if I heard you say it." Now she really is smiling. He huffs. "You're enjoying this. You, River Song, do not play nice."

"I don't know. I thought what we just did was very nice." Her thumb caresses the knuckle of his thumb and he wonders if they will ever touch again without it feeling intimate. It's like he's lost a layer of skin and is left raw. Except it doesn't hurt now; the Doctor expects that part will come later.

"Nice?" he blusters and distracts because he's not ready to think yet. No doubt he'll be thinking about this for weeks, months, years. He might never stop thinking about this again once he starts. Better to put it off. "I make you scream and you call it 'nice'? Doctor Song, you are impossible to please."

"Oh no," River replies. "I am very pleased."

"So pleased that you're going to cancel my execution?"

"I don't know about that."

"You're not serious." He knows she's not and he trusts her -he really does- but considering this planet only has a six hour night, he'd like to know that this isn't some game of hers where he's actually led to the butcher's block. River loves grand entrances and exits almost as much as the Doctor and so he wouldn't put it past her to leave his escape to the very last moment. Still, he thinks he deserves a little forewarning. In his experience, sex with his captors comes with advantages like that.

"Sleep well, my love," she replies. "I'll most likely kill you in the morning."

In her defense, that really is both an answer (not serious) and a warning (expect theatrics). It surprises a chuckle out of him. The Doctor turns on his side and River Song opens one eye to watch him.

"The Princess Bride," he says. "What are you, the Dread Pirate Roberts now? Warning: they don't actually say, 'Yo ho ho'. Learned that the hard way."

She lifts her free hand and pats him on the cheek. "I can be whoever I want to be."

He flops back down on his back and sighs, "As you wish."

Her grin is a physical touch. She leans over his arm and plants a warm kiss on the curve of his shoulder. "Now you're learning."

Together, the Doctor and River Song laugh and revel in their own ridiculousness.

There is a story about the Shah of the Seven Sands.

While fleeing the king's guard across the Great Desert, she attracted the attention of a genie who admired her bloodlust and sense of honor but noticed that her men had begun to doubt and tire under the sharp setting sun and impossible odds. He disguised himself as a mortal man and allowed himself to be captured by her personal guards. The Shah was so wise that she recognized something magical about him on first sight. She knew he was not as he seemed but he would not tell her his name. Suspecting a being of immense power, she devised a plan to make him reveal his true form. At first light, she ordered her men to chop off his head, but at the sight of his death, he raised a hand and the sands shook at her army's feet but the Shah did not cower. The air screamed in the ears of her men but the Shah did not flinch. The genie was revealed for who he truly was and he spoke with words that inspired her soldiers with awe and lifted their hearts by his support for their cause and in reward for her cleverness and for love of her, he selected for the Shah a champion.

The humble but fire-hearted Djaq was revealed unto her and she took him as her right hand and was rewarded when he became the greatest general the sands had ever known. The people were led to victory and a thousand years peace. The Shah became a legend. Djaq became a hero.

At some point in history, the people forget about the genie.

The Doctor has always liked that story.


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