a/n: written for the Snogging Meme on LJ, and tenacious_err's (misinterpreted) request, "snugli"
like mother, like baby
She's running, of course she's running, again, and leaping off tall and/or gravity-less platforms, and generally causing havoc - "An entire Swami Battalion, River, really? Again?" - and he is very much going to have a talk with her - for real this time, not like last time or the time before that where they were going to have a talk and then he got all distracted by hands and tongues and humany things that may or may not have involved a water bed and an accidental blackout in the TARIDS but that isn't the point; the point is that they are going to sit down and have a real-life, linear, super-serious adulty conversation about this habit of hers and the jumping and the landing on him which really, he's beginning to think she does because she likes it and not out of necessity and she's going to stop doing it because there are more important things to think about now - or will be, he isn't sure where she is yet - and she needs to be careful and one of these days he isn't going to be there and she's going to fall-
But then it's all swinging open doors and holding out his arms as she runs headlong off a rooftop and into the TARDIS, nearly knocking him over. Again. And then he's grinning, which he really shouldn't be doing, but she's all big, sultry smile for him and curly hair and sexy smirk as she waves to the stunned soldiers as the TARDIS disappears, and it is extremely hot when she does that, so really he can't be blamed for -
A little bald head peeks out over River's shoulder, big eyes staring at him almost expectantly. River's speaking, her usual 'thank you, sweetie I'm just going to take over now because I fly better than you don't argue you know it's true' spiel but he isn't quite listening even though he does love this part because as River's dusting off her shirt and pants the little green-grey eyes are watching him attentively, followed by the appearance of a little nose and two little cheeks and a big, toothless grin.
And then it squeals joyfully, its little cap falling down over one eye as it tries to bounce in its carrier, and the Doctor baulks.
"River! River, what - you - but -"
River straightens, minimising his view of the baby settled in the snugli on her back, and frowns. "Sweetie?"
He claps his hands over his mouth.
River stares at him for a few moments, stunned. "Doctor," she says slowly, "You have done Galapagos Seven, yes?"
He glowers at her. "Well of course I've done Galapagos Seven!"
River narrows her eyes and folds her arms across her chest expectantly. He sighs.
"Galapagos Seven - giant turtles and big blue oceans the size of planets and that fire breathing lizard thing - really didn't like him, far too grumpy for the King of All Lava Rock if you ask me - and almost getting eaten by an Ultra-Lion - thank you for that, by the way - and then the St. Darwin of Begalia Hotel and the swimming pool and dance floor and all that other stuff we don't talk about when your parents are around - or at all, really," he grins and straightens his bow-tie, "'cause who wants to talk about it when you can actually do it, eh? In which case you already know what happens if you're referencing it as something important - not that all our adventures aren't important, just this one in particular, had a little side note, not a side note, definitely not a side note, more of a big, giant, neon memo reaching across all of time and space, which means, River, that you have been letting me go on and on in an attempt to distract me from the very obvious fact that that is our daughter you are jaunting around with on your back in the middle of the Swamalioan Third and a Half Empire!"
Grinning, River manoeuvres neatly out of the snugli's straps and sets the carrier on the floor gently. "Exciting, isn't it?"
Before she can say another word, the Doctor dives for the carrier, intending to pull his daughter free as quickly as possible and return to his lecture. Instead, he encounters a force field with enough strength to send him stumbling backwards, shaking his arm wildly as little sparks of electricity zap him. "Ow! Riv- River! Ow!"
Sarah coos and waves her chubby fingers at him while River laughs fondly. Pressing a complicated series of buttons on the side of the snugli, the carrier beeps softly and deactivates, allowing River to lift the child into her arms.
"You really think I'd go anywhere without an obvious means of protecting her?"
"But- it- how-?"
"How do you think?"
The Doctor scans the carrier with his screwdriver and quickly glances at the readings. "Biometric force field, self-regulating heat controller, indefinite supply of oxygen, invisibility cloak - how did you get an invisibility cloak? - soft, fuzzy lining - did the TARDIS make this? Of course she did. Why don't I have one? It's a snugli, made for running, how cool is that!"
River grins - "See?" - and Sarah grabs happily at River's hair, tugging at it with a fist before shoving it experimentally into her mouth.
"But- but- no, that's not right! It's brilliant, of course, but it's, we shouldn't be running and - No, no, Sarah, don't eat that, you can't - that's Mummy's hair, not food!" The Doctor steps in quickly and attempts to uncurl Sarah's fingers. "What? No, it doesn't taste good, it's all hair spray and archaeology dust and thin little particles of-" The baby squeals again and the Doctor rears his head back. He looks from River to Sarah and then back again before leaning in and planting a quick kiss his daughter's head. "Never. Don't tell her I said so, got it?"
River scoffs, about to interrupt, when the Doctor turns back to her abruptly, waggling a finger in her face. "And you! Time travel running jumping dangerous bullets-ness and swords! With a baby!" He waves his hands. "Our baby!"
"Sweetie, she's fine," River soothes. Sarah has returned to River's hair, unsure whether pulling on it or chewing it is the best course of action. She decides to try both. "She likes the running."
" 'She likes the-' River! She's not even ten yet, she doesn't know anything about-about running or-or vortex manipulators or big, giant, swordy things!"
"Which they had! And pointed! At you! And her!"
"Sweetie." River adopts her low, calming voice that he recognises instantly and knows he shouldn't be affected by but is, every time, and that smile, and her hair, and he swears Sarah is giggling at him. Traitor. "We've been over this-"
"Given the infinite number of species that want to kill you and your refusal to learn any sort of self-defence-"
"My head, River, my head is my self defence!"
Glare: "-the safest place for Sarah is with me, and I can't very well keep her with me in the Stormcage - unless you want to explain to the Papal Mainframe how I managed to become pregnant with the child of the man I supposedly killed three hundred years after I supposedly killed him."
"Yes, I know, it's all timey-whimey but-"
"So," River interrupts, shifting Sarah to her other arm, "you take her while I make appearances in prison, I take her while you're off gallivanting and impressing starry-eyed companions with your old-world brilliance, and whenever we can avoid a paradox we meet up in the middle. That was the deal, remember?"
The Doctor grins. "Yes, well, I am quite clever you know and I have quite a bit of experiencing at gallivanting and-hang on, are you mocking me?"
River leans forward and presses a quick kiss to his lips. "Never, dear."
"Right, no, of course not - no, wait, hang on - River!"
He scrambles after her as she wanders toward the console, leaning forward to let Sarah pull on handles and wave at the bright lights.
"But there were swords and gun-like thingies and-and-and jumping-"
A bit too sharply: "You caught us, didn't you?"
"Yes, of course I did, River, but it's not..." He runs a hand through his hair. "What if I'm not? What if something happens and-and I'm not...there , I just..."
He waves off her understanding. "I know, I know, spoilers and I'll always catch you, yadda yadda, I just..." He sighs heavily, bracing himself on the console for a moment before turning and reaching for his daughter. River shifts her into his arms carefully, and he smiles gently down at the half-asleep bundle in his arms.
River leans into him, wrapping one arm around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. She kisses his temple softly. "I know, my love. Believe me, I know."
The Doctor runs a thumb over Sarah's forehead and down her nose. "I just worry," he says honestly, holding out his pinkie for her to take. She bats at it weakly mid-yawn.
"I know you do."
"It has nothing to do with you," he says, just to make sure. "I know you'd never put her in danger."
River smiles sadly. "She's in danger all the time, my love. Nothing we can do about that."
"I suppose not."
"But we can protect her. And we do. We will." She tips his chin to make him look at her. "No repeats, Doctor. I won't allow it. Ever."
The Doctor closes his eyes and presses his forehead to River's. "I know you won't," he murmurs, leaning back against her and pressing a kiss to her neck. "Neither will I. Neither will we."
River smiles and reaches one hand around him, smoothing down Sarah's blanket and adjusting her little cap as she sleeps. "My girls," the Doctor whispers. "My mad, brilliant girls."
Stepping to his side, River lifts Sarah gently from him, and the Doctor watches, awed, as Sarah shifts easily into River's embrace without stirring; head tucked into her mother's shoulder, little fist curled by her cheek, hat crooked once again.
"I'll get her tucked in," River murmurs, moving cautiously up the stairs to the bedroom, murmuring as she goes. "We had quite a day, didn't we, love? Swami soldiers, the Last Emerald of Alinnika, Ronny the Ranticor... best not tell daddy about that one, okay, love? Don't want to get mummy in trouble. All those pretty lights on Mailos..."
The Doctor grins as he listens to her whisper until she's out of earshot, almost unable to control the bubbling happiness he feels in his chest at the thought of his little girl, his little Sarah, his River, his family, all together on the TARDIS, all safe, all home, ready to dive into the next adventure - well, the safe adventures, anyway. The PG adventures. Maybe G. Maybe not even G, maybe more like L adventures for Lazy and B for Boring - though it's never boring with those two around - or P! P for Peaceful. Peaceful Adventures, he likes the sound of that. No running or fighting or big scary monsters - just him and his wife and his little girl and maybe a picnic or a meteor shower, and none of that indestructible snugli business - though, he has to admit, indestructible snuglies are cool - and just a nice, long-
"River." He freezes, then whirls around. "River, did you say Ranitcor? As in big, toothy, slightly-more-armed-than-the-armless-T-Rex Ranticor?" Sliding across the glass floor, he takes off after her up the stairs, her laughter echoing softly down the corridor. "River? River!