Although our undivided loves are one:
He spins around the console, wondering where she will take him. He told her wherever they needed to go, and she'd set off with purpose. He pushes levers that don't need to be pushed, because this flight seems to be all hers. His old girl. He grins at the time rotor, stroking the console gently.
They'd not been landed more than a minute when the doors open and he turns to them in surprise. His hearts thud heavily in his chest as he stares at her. Of course. Where they needed to go – and hadn't the old girl's last living words been about her? "River."
She smiles up at him softly, her diary in hand as she mounts the stairs, her hair bouncing lightly as she moves up toward him. The movement of her curls distracts him for a moment and he smiles back at her. "Doctor. When are we for you?" Her diary is faded and she leafs through the pages quickly. "Have you done Easter Island?"
"No." He shakes his head and moves toward her, his steps slow and hesitant. He hasn't seen her since Stormcage. Since she... kissed him. He feels the strangest fluttering in his chest as he remembers it. Her hands on his waist and her mouth under his. How she'd tasted. "We just did Utah. 1969."
"Which time?" She asks seriously and he frowns.
"There's more than one?" He tilts his head in question and she laughs softly.
"A lot more happens in 1969 than anyone remembers." Her voice is soft and she fidgets, shutting her diary. "So I'll assume you mean the first time, for you. Where are-" She hesitates, shooting an unreadable glance in his direction, "Amy and Rory?"
"Asleep. I was just doing repairs." He waves to indicate the tool belt sitting on the jump seat and she looks him over, a strange expression on her face. She moves over to the console, pressing her palm flat against the etched glass there and his ship seems to shudder under her touch. "Why am I here, River?"
River smiles, her nose crinkling up in a manner he finds rather adorable, even though he's trying not to. "Why would I know?"
"Because you always know. Everything." He responds promptly and she laughs softly.
"Maybe she thought you could use a hand?" River offers and he nods in consideration.
"Maybe. I do have to reroute the thermo couplings, and it is easier with a spare set of hands. I don't suppose you know how to..." She rolls her eyes and drops her diary into the jump seat before moving past him, her shoulder brushing against his as she goes. He feels his body flush and go cold at the contact, and he inhales sharply. He can smell that clean, fresh scent he always associates with her – like fresh snowfall or spring rain. It is almost biting, but crisp.
She moves down the stairs and he follows as if he has no other choice. If he's honest, he doesn't – something about this woman fascinates and intrigues him. From just how her hair works to the tilt of her smile to the light in her eyes as she says 'spoilers' she has always fascinated him. Even in his last incarnation when he'd still been rubbed raw from loss after loss. When he gets below the glass floor she is pulling wires from the panelling, seemingly at random but he can tell she knows just what she is doing. And how does she know that? How does she know how to fly his ship, and repair it, and sometimes he swears she can communicate with his TARDIS.
He suddenly wishes she had been with them for this adventure. If only so he could see what his old girl would have had to say to her. Clearly something, because she'd asked and asked Rory for her in the end. Though Rory hadn't known that of course – and neither had he until Rory had told him the TARDIS' final words.
The thought is enough to send him collapsing into his swing, observing River as she twists wires and shoots surreptitious glances his way. Whoever she is, she is not only important to him, but the TARDIS as well, and that thought unsettles him. Because never ever has that happened before. Never. The TARDIS has helped his companions from time to time, but never has she connected with someone other than him. He feels a vague sense of jealousy and awe about it all, really.
"The TARDIS almost died today." He finds himself speaking to her, and he's not sure why, but she turns to face him immediately. She doesn't look particularly surprised, and he wonders if she knew about this already. Probably. "She was stolen – just snatched and put into a human body and she died."
"But you saved her." Her voice is soft and he knows that yes, she does know. Did he tell her? Does he – will he? He pushes a foot against the ground and sways in the repair swing as she watches him. Her hands are twisting wires together once more but she doesn't take her eyes from him as she works. He finds himself watching her hands, small and deft and sure.
"She still died." He whispers as his eyes track her hands and then he looks up to her face. "Do you know the last thing she was asking for?"
River's hands still then and she looks down at him, moving closer to the swing. "What?"
"You." And maybe he does allow some of the jealousy to seep through then, because the TARDIS is his ship. "Water. Over and over again she asked for water – but she meant you."
"And that upsets you." River doesn't make it a question, but she sighs and moves in even closer, brushing a hand over his hair and the sensation is nice – he likes it. "It shouldn't, you know."
"Why not?" He is pouting and he hates it but he feels- he feels – he doesn't know what he feels but he thinks he definitely doesn't like it. Except he does, a bit. He leans into her touch and her nails scrape across his scalp, sending shivers shooting down his spine.
"Because she loves no one so well as she loves you, my love. And you know that. She told you. And the last thing she said wasn't asking for me, sweetie. She said hello to you. So you would know that she loves you." His shoulders slump, because she is right – she is so, so right. That was when they talked – and the TARDIS had said hello while he'd said goodbye. He never got to tell her- he sniffs slightly and River hushes him, wrapping arms around his shoulders as he buries his face by her waist. He hugs her around the hips and presses his face into her as she smoothes her hands over his hair and down over his back.
"River," he pulls back slightly his voice thick as he looks up at her. "River, do I ever get to talk to her again? Can you – can you tell me? Please?" Her face falls as she looks down at him, her hand tangled in his hair.
"I can't. You know that, sweetie. I'm so sorry." He huffs in frustration, his hands gripping her hips tightly as he glares up at her, suddenly irritated.
"Why not? It's nothing to do with our personal timeline, River." His sarcasm is heavy and she flinches, looking away from him, over to the heart of the TARDIS beside them. He feels righteous in his anger, right up until the point when he notices the sheen of tears in her eyes and then he feel terrible. None of this is River's fault. But she's the one here. "River-"
She jerks her head in a negative signal and he stops speaking as soon as he started. "You lie. Rule one – you lie to me all the time. All the time, Doctor. Little lies and big lies and you have refused to trust me so many times. Why am-" She stops herself then, and he can almost watch her reigning herself in. The flush leaves her cheeks. Her brow smoothes and her cheeks fall. The thing is, though – he doesn't want a reigned in River Song.
He stands, bringing him so close to her that her chest brushes against his and he is inches from her face. His hand reaches up, wraps around her arm in an oddly gently manner, given the intensity he knows is on his face. "Finish."
She swallows and meets his gaze. "Beginning and end Doctor – I was awarded almost no trust from you while you expected all of mine." He frowns as his gaze is caught by her mouth, forming the words. When he glances up into her eyes, he feels like something has winded him suddenly.
"Why wouldn't I trust you at your beginning? If you're someone I trust over everyone else, one day?"
She clenches her jaw and he can practically read the self-scorn on her face. "Spoilers." She whispers the word and his hand tightens on her arm, pulling her against him. He wants to ask who she is, he wants to demand answers, and he wants his TARDIS back so she can tell him what River will not. Though, he feels the drift of disappointment across the back of his mind – that gentle golden hum that is his TARDIS – and he wonders if she would even tell him?
He wants to do a lot of things, but instead he drops his head until his forehead rests against River's. He doesn't attempt to read her mind, but he can hear the zing and zip of it. It sizzles and hums like a live wire, and he is so tempted to just take a peek. But these are his rules and he's sure he put them in place for a reason. And he's hurt her enough for one visit. He just wants one visit from River where he does nothing but make her smile. He wonders if he'll ever accomplish that.
He lets go of her arms, his hands sliding up over her shoulders and he hesitates, but only for a moment, before he buries his fingers in her hair. Her hair – her glorious hair. He knows it's soft – because in Utah it had tickled the back of his neck as she stood behind him, her back solidly planted against his. He knows because he'd almost worked up the nerve during that first kiss to touch it – he's been dying to ever since the Pandorica – but then her tongue had slipped into his mouth and he'd felt such a startling wave of desire rush through him that he'd forgotten for a moment that he had hands at all.
This time, he reckons, if he kisses her first, he'll start with them in her hair.
It's not a gentle kiss; he can feel her struggle against his grasp for a moment, before sinking into him with a sigh, her mouth opening under his as he kisses her thoroughly. This time, because he's kissed her, he can take the time he wasted being surprised last time, and simply take in the taste touch feel of her under him. Her curves are pressed into his, and she is delightfully soft against him. She tastes unknown, something he's never tasted before and he cannot identify it, but it makes his mouth water and he thinks he may like the flavour of River Song more than even fish fingers and custard. She moans into his mouth and it vibrates where his tongue brushes against hers, and the thrill that rushes through him is startling.
He stumbles back, one hand leaving her hair to slide down over her back and drag her into him as he kisses and kisses her without pause. He doesn't ever want to stop, he thinks. He could happily just kiss River Song until he dies. She pulls her mouth away from his, her breathing heavy and causing her breasts to push more firmly into his chest and he stares down at her. Her cheeks are flushed once more, and her eyes are bright – and if he was enamoured with her face reflecting these traits in anger earlier, he is absolutely in love with it now. Her lips are swollen, and he licks his own as he stares down at her.
"What was that for?"
"Because I wanted to." He responds because he can't think of a better excuse. "You kissed me. Last time, and I wanted to- to – to kiss you."
She is frowning up at him before the oddest look of relief crosses her face. "You lie to me. All the time. Oh you beautiful, beautiful man." She grins unexpectedly and he smiles back, even though he's not sure why. But she is smiling, and it makes him smile. Even as she pushes against his chest until he trips backwards into his repair swing, and then she settles herself into his lap.
She's all pressed against him in ways that he never – and she is smiling down at him in amusement, as if she can read his every thought. "Can you read minds, River? It would explain so very much." His hand pulls through her curls, over and over again as he looks up at her face and she settles herself into his lap, her legs over his and her arm wrapped round his shoulder, while the other hand plays with his bowtie. She looks startled for a moment, before she laughs.
"That would be telling. Would you like it if I could, sweetie?"
He tries to remember the last time he's been able to connect in that way with someone. But he thinks he would love it if he could. "I uh – I can't really-" His tone gets higher in pitch as she squirms around on him before she is leaning above him, her hair falling into his face and he cannot- "What was the question again?"
Her laugh is a soft sound that surrounds him, and a puff of air against his cheek. "Flatterer." She teases him and he swallows, looking up at her as his hand ghosts over the curls hanging between them.
"You're distracting." He points out the obvious and her smile brightens. "What did I lie to you about that made you happy?"
"That's a spoiler, you bad man." She grins and presses a soft kiss to his cheek as he shrugs.
"Worth a shot. But what if I don't know what it is? And then I don't say it?" He frowns, thinking on it while she continues to scatter soft kisses across his face and jaw, eventually moving down his neck. He tilts his head to allow her room, trying to think clearly despite the sensations shooting across his skin right now.
His hands drop to grip her waist, sliding over her back as she hums against his skin. She pulls back, looking down at him, her eyes deepening into a dark shade of blue-green that may just be his second favourite colour in the entire universe. "You've done 1969 once – I told you then."
He frowns, rewinding all their conversations in his head. "Our lives are back to front." He whispers, looking up at her. "Oh but they're not, are they? Not really. As if it could be explained in such a way. You've done Utah too."
"You told me your firsts were my lasts." Her voice is sad and he can feel the vibration of the TARDIS through the soles of his feet.
"It's not exactly a lie. In a very finite way, they are." The corners of her mouth turn down and he leans up, kissing her just there, again and again until her smile returns. "But not kisses."
"Not kisses." She repeats after him, her smile fuller now. His mind dredges up the image of her in the Byzantium, holding Amy. Maybe when you're older. He wonders now, marvels at how she had been so glib then. His hands tighten on her back and she pauses, looking down at him with concern. "What is it my love?"
"I had her for a day, and I lost her. And you and I – we're..." He cannot finish the sentence. Not because of spoilers, but because he literally cannot think on her end. It hurts, an aching sensation that blooms in his chest and swallows him whole.
"You did not lose her, honey." Rivers hands slide to his face, cradling it gently as she looks down at him seriously. "She is – always will be – with you. Until your very end." Her eyes shine with tears and her mouth twists into a quick smile. "I envy her that a bit you know."
"River..." He isn't sure what to say to that and she shakes her head quickly.
"I'm being silly." Her thumb brushes across his cheek and he draws a breath in as her eyes meet his. "You'll understand how silly soon enough. It's so close for you now, you know."
"Isn't that spoilers?" His voice is rough and she smiles, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. He slides his hands up her back, and trails his fingers over that shoulder as he looks at her intently.
"Maybe a little one."
"I'm nervous." He confesses the words into the skin by the hollow of her throat, having leaned forward to press a soft kiss there. Her hands have left his face and slid into his hair instead, and she scratches her nails along his scalp gently as she hums.
"So was I. Remember that, yeah?" He drops his forehead against her chest, but she pulls his head up almost immediately, leaning down to kiss him once more. Her mouth is gentle, but she moves with purpose, wrapping her arms around him tightly as his mouth opens under hers.
She tastes addictive, and he moans a little as she shifts forward, her body dragging along into his until they are pressed together, chest to chest. His hands have gravitated back toward her hair of their own volition, but judging from her delighted moan, he doesn't think she minds. Touching her hair is something he could happily do until he dies, he thinks, as he tangles his fingers through the curls with a smile. Her lips curve against his as she smiles for a moment too, before kissing him once more, softly, and pulling back. "You have so much to look forward to, sweetie. Don't be nervous. Be amazing."
She doesn't let a hint of sadness about the fact that she is surely reaching her end seep through and he thinks of saying goodbye while the TARDIS said hello. He doesn't want that for them, not for her end, not for his. He only wants hello's.
"I don't really need to replace the thermo couplings." He confesses into her ear as he swings them gently under the floor of his ship.
"I know." Her answer is immediate and gently smug, she grins while she is saying it and he looks up at her with fond exasperation.
"You didn't say hello to me properly." He points out in a mocking tone and she smiles wider.