It was one of those nights.

The nights between their first night and their last. One of the many, really. But he was too aware of that other night, the last night, the night yet to come, when he and River would go to the Singing Towers of Darillium. And the next time he saw her after that night... he will have forgotten her. And she would die, there in the Forest of the Dead. Oh, he'd save her, after a fashion. He remembered doing it. And he hoped that he could somehow go back there and save her properly, download her consciousness - her soul - from the virtual world where she'd been saved, and keep her safe with him. Always and completely with him. He hoped. But he didn't really believe.

All he could do was keep her with him as much as possible in the now. But he felt the wrenching agony of her loss, though he hadn't known her when he lost her. One of those Time Lord abilities. Or curses. She was perceptive, she knew something was wrong. But she wouldn't ask, because as much as she struggled against it, she understood spoilers too. In that way she was as Time Lord as he. And his TARDIS knew it too - probably better than he did because she perceived in all times at once - and she loved River too. And missed her terribly. And brought him to her, there in the Stormcage in the 51st century, because it was where/when he needed to be. There with River Song.

"Hello, Sweetie." She smiled that sultry, wicked little smile. He just sonicked the door of her cell and held out his hand to her. She ran lightly to him and he caught her in his arms and buried his face into the curve between her head and her shoulder; he breathed in the scent of her amazing, wonderful, wild hair. He stood there, holding her tightly, and they swayed slightly as he tried to compose himself. "I've missed you. How long has it been for you?"

He had to clear his throat twice before he could speak, managing a passably conversational tone.. but not moving from the tight embrace. "Just a couple of days. I missed you. How long on your end of things?"

"Nine days, four hours, 27 minutes. I didn't count the seconds. Where are we going tonight?"

"I thought we'd stay in, if that's all right with you."

"Here?" She was incredulous.

"No. My place, of course." Oh, bless, she loved it when she chuckled into her neck under her hair that way. The low rumble and the warm breath... she shivered. He straightened and held his hand out to her again. "Come on, River Song, Melody Pond, my wife, let's stay in." He led her into the tiny kitchen of the TARDIS, caressing her palm with his thumb as he settled her into her chair at the little table in the middle. "How do you feel about fish fingers, then?"

"Well... I prefer vinegar to custard..."

He grinned at her. "Unsurprising." He inspected the hand he held so gently in his, scowling at it slightly. "I never got you a ring. Humans do that, the rings, when they get married. D'you want one?" He turned her hand over, stroking each finger in turn.

"Not really. I'd just have to hide it. Mostly I just want you." She shivered again and closed her eyes as he transferred his attention to her palm, dropping a light kiss into the center of it. It was her turn to clear her throat. She opened her eyes to look directly into his, strangely ancient in his young face. "All of you, always and completely."

"Now?" And suddenly he looked all eager and young and sweet again. River wondered how he did that. From the pictures she'd been shown, all his incarnations looked older than this one, but this one's eyes...

"Now is part of always, my love." She smiled that wicked little smile again and it was his turn to quiver in anticipation. He got up from the table and walked around it, kissing from the palm up her arm until he was standing behind her chair, nibbling lightly on her neck. The naughty smirk faded as her breath came faster. "Staying in works for me, Sweetie. Let's take this - less the fish fingers - somewhere more comfortable than the kitchen."

Hours later, as they lay half-dozing in a tangle of bedsheets and limbs, she sighed in mingled contentment and regret. She knew something was wrong; there was even more than the usual anguish deep in his eyes. She suspected something from the first time they met - the time she hadn't seen yet. But he wouldn't tell her - and she wouldn't ask - because of the spoilers. She sighed again and snuggled her head under his chin.

He felt her relax into sleep, her head against his chest under his chin, and he wept, silently, into her wild mane of hair. He wouldn't tell her - and she wouldn't ask - but he knew that under all the sassy banter and sexy playfulness, she understood. She was nearly as perceptive and aware of the timeline spoilers as he was. It was one of those Time Lord abilities. Or curses.