there's nothing can sever such a well-made endeavour

"So, Doctor, saved any universes recently?"

Amy Pond grinned at her imaginary friend across the table. Rory sat next to her, the ever-goofy smile present on his face whenever he was in his wife's company.

"I like a quiet life, Pond, you know me." The Doctor grinned back at her, as next to him, a woman with corkscrew hair snorted with laughter.

"Of course, sweetie. We all know that secretly all you ever do is eat cookies and read The Daily Prophet," River Song laughed as she spoke, adding an edge to her voice.

"You forgot lawn bowls. Big fan of lawn bowls, I am."

The other three other table guests rolled their eyes at each other, half exasperated, half amused.

"Oh god, next you'll be telling us you've got a collection of stamps," laughed Amy. The Doctor, catching Amy's eye, looked sheepish. "Oh, no! Please, no! Tell me you don't have a stamp collection!"

"He does! I've seen it!" River chimed in, laughing. "Goes across four books. You'd think intergalactic postage would get boring, but apparently not," River rolled her eyes again, looking at her Doctor with exasperation. But her eyes were crinkled and laughing.

The Doctor gasped. "How could intergalactic postage ever be boring?" It seemed he found such a concept unfathomable. The Doctor blinked innocently at River, his eyes expressing equal amounts of joy.

"Well dear, I rather think there are other things to lick," River winked and the Doctor blushed until the tips of his ears could've caught fire. Rory spluttered, inhaling his drink, and Amy thumped him on the back, grinning.

"Anyway," the Roman wheezed. The Doctor fiercely glared at River, wishing she would take into account her father's sword. She grinned impudently back, winking. The Doctor gulped then sighed with relief; Rory hadn't seen. He was too busy nattering on about getting lost in the TARDIS last week, probably in an effort to put what River had just said as far away from his mind as possible. Amy and River were laughing loudly, imagining Rory bumbling around corridors. River said something quietly in Amy's ear and the redhead shrieked with mirth. The Doctor found himself joining in, glad that River had left her flirtatious remarks alone. He didn't mind them, not at all, but not while her parents were here.

Particularly Rory and his all-too-sharp sword.

Nonetheless, the Doctor grinned and relaxed back into his chair, taking a bite of his meal as he listened to Amy incessantly tease her husband. River laughed again, the sound tinkling across the table. She too, looked completely at ease, watching her parents argue playfully with each other.

Suddenly, the Doctor felt something brush up against his leg. It was too lingering and purposeful to be by accident, trailing slowly up his leg to his knee. The Doctor jumped violently, bumping his other leg on the table, just as what he knew to be River's foot receded from his leg. Amy and Rory stared at him; he mumbled something about a nerve twitching and they resumed their conversation. The Doctor glared at River, irritated to find her staring into her glass, idly fishing out an ice cube. She casually joined in with whatever Amy and Rory were talking about, diligently avoiding his gaze. Then, as she was talking, her wandering foot returned to his leg. This time, she had no shoes on, and her toes scraped slowly up his lower leg, around his calf muscle and down again. The Doctor shivered, unnoticed by Amy and Rory. Thank goodness. River caught his eye and winked again. He blushed and attempted to adjust his bowtie. That, however, did not go unnoticed.

Amy sighed through her nose. "I wish you'd just take that thing off." She grinned across at him, expecting the usual retort. But the Doctor was occupied; River's wandering foot had returned again, and was now drawing small, lazy circles on his leg. Amy's porcelain brow creased; it wasn't like him to allow shameless insulting of such a 'cool' thing. The Doctor saw her expression and snapped to attention, abruptly jolting his leg. River's foot slid off quickly, owner surprised by the abrupt action. He pasted a grin on his face and turned to Amy.

"Why would I do that? It's nifty."

Amy's nose wrinkled in a smile of shock. Beside him, River snorted.

"Doctor, is something wrong?" Amy asked.

"No … why do you ask? Everything is okay. Super okay. It's fine. Extremely and completely acceptable. Peachy, even." Yet even as he spoke, River's foot returned a fourth time, causing him to twitch.

"Doctor, you're all jumpy, you ignored me when I insulted your bowtie, then you said it was nifty. Nothing's 'nifty.' What happened to 'it's cool'?"

"Ah … it got old. Needed a new phrase. Nifty's a great word, isn't it? Absolutely fantastic. Come to think of it, that's another great word too. Used to have a real penchant for that word, I did …" The Doctor lifted his own foot, dragged it to River's wandering one, and shoved down. If that didn't send her a clear enough message, nothing would. Her foot stopped its roving, and not a moment too soon. He'd felt those odd, human-y feelings – ones that River seemed to carry with her in an aura - creeping up on him. River was smirking at him, but Amy still looked concerned.

"Oh, Amy, dear, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure he's just fine. Fantastic, even." River snorted again. The Doctor watched her, mulling over how she could make such an unflattering gesture so incredibly alluring. He mentally jumped, realizing that was exactly what River wanted. Bad girl. He attempted to return to the conversation; River and Rory were now talking at length about the minutia of Roman War Camps. River was relating a particularly boisterous story involving a centurion, a donkey, and a rather small tunic. The Doctor turned instead to Amy, who began to chat about the brand-new room she'd found in the TARDIS last week (the very reason Rory got lost). All went on as normal for another ten minutes.

Then, as they were eating dessert, the Doctor caught River's gaze. There was a devilish twinkle gleaming brightly in her eyes, which meant only one thing: trouble.

The hand sitting in her lap crept across to his leg, causing the biggest jump yet. She began to trace patterns on his thigh. Her fingers were slow and deliberate, and the Doctor felt those odd, human-y feelings begin again. Only when he realised River was tracing Gallifreyan did he remember how to breathe. However, that ability soon deserted him altogether as he realised exactly what she was writing. And the exact topic – oh, she was a bad girl! Those human-y feelings manifested themselves very quickly after that.

He slapped her hand away before Amy and Rory could notice anything. He had no desire for them – chiefly Rory - to have any idea of what had just occurred.

"Doctor Song, you're going to pay for that," he muttered quietly.

"Whatever do you mean, Doctor?" she blinked up at him, laughing through her feigned innocence. The Doctor laughed too, but in anticipation. His hand crept towards her leg. She was wearing a knee-length full skirt, and it billowed out around her chair. As soon as the Doctor touched her leg, she stopped laughing and gasped quietly. Even through the fabric, his touch gave her electric shocks. He traced words and promises back at her and from them River surmised that this was not a young Doctor. Not at all. River forced herself to pay attention to Rory and Amy, the latter of whom had obviously had a bit too much wine. Amy, arms flailing in some high-energy retelling, could not have been more oblivious. Meanwhile, the Doctor was getting ever-more impertinent. River tried very hard to act as if everything was normal, even adding quips to Amy and Rory's conversation, but all the sensations were becoming a bit much for even her. When the Doctor wrote something he really shouldn't have, she stood up abruptly. His hand dropped back to his side.

"I'm not feeling well. I think I'm going to get some air. I'll be back in five minutes."

"Are you alright, River?" said Amy, concerned, but River was already walking away. Amy looked expectantly at the Doctor.


"Go after her! She's your wife; you're supposed to take care of her!"

The Doctor feigned reluctance, but practically rushed out of the door, following River.

Outside, she was nowhere to be seen.

Wondering where she could have gone, he walked around the building, close to where he'd parked the TARDIS.

"Doctor Song? Come out, come out, wherever you are," he sang, chuckling.

"You do realise that makes you sound like a dirty old man, don't you?" River's voice issued from the shadows to his left, teasing.

"River! No need to be rude!" the Doctor grinned into the darkness, where he knew she was hiding.

"Rude? My love, I was being honest. Or would you deny what you just wrote?" River quipped, her voice suddenly coming from his right. Whipping his head around, he searched the darkness for her.

"I don't quite recall what you're talking about," he quipped back, smiling cheekily. His eyes were raking the darkness in front of him - surely she couldn't hide that easily. Not with all that hair.

"Oh, you don't remember? Allow me to … refresh your memory," River's voice issued from right behind him. He could feel her hair tickling his neck. She twisted her head up and bit his ear playfully. The Doctor spun around and grabbed her before she could dart away again. In the light, he could see her eyes glittering with mirth.

"Do you remember now?" she asked, melodiously.

"It's faint … what exactly happened?" he grinned down at her, eyes bright with repartee. In response, River brought her mouth millimetres away from his. Her breath was hot and sweet on his face.

"Still not remembering?"

"Ah, it's slowly coming back," said the Doctor, even as his arms wound around her waist.

"Then it is time you lived up to those mischievous promises," River said, and then closed the gap between them. She kissed him passionately, and he kissed her back. One of his hands ran up her back, while the other tangled in her hair. Opening her mouth to his, she pulled him in by the jacket, so they were as close as possible. She wound her arms around his neck, one hand cupping his face. Suddenly, she was up against the TARDIS doors, his mouth still warm and light on hers. Deciding he really should pay for what he did, she bit down. her teeth scraping his lower lip. However, he wasn't having any of that. He took her lower lip into his own mouth and she moaned quietly, hands now tangled in his hair.

"Sweetie, if that's your idea of payment for touching your leg, I'm going to do it every day," River gasped as they broke apart. Her voice was breathy and the Doctor smiled as he kissed down her throat. "Mind you, there's a lot more I'd like to do first –" she said, gasping quietly.

"River Song, you bad girl!" muttered the Doctor from against her collarbone.

"Ooh, you like it."

"Wrong. I'm a time-travelling man who devotes his life to saving others. I love a bad girl."

"Come here, then," and she kissed him again, more heated than the last time. She pressed her hips into his as he pushed her against the blue doors. They both moaned, lost in the feel of each other.

"Oi! You two! Break it up!" The Doctor jumped as a bossy all-too-Scottish voice issued from behind them. Amy was standing behind them, grinning as if she'd caught them both red-handed. Which, thought the Doctor, she had. Beside her, Rory stood with his hands clapped over his eyes.

"Is it safe now? Can I look? Daughter well away from best friend?" he asked, irritated and a more than a bit mortified.

"Yes, Rory, it's safe. Stupid," Amy said affectionately. Rory removed his hand as the Doctor sprang away from River like he'd been electrocuted. He looked at his feet, sheepishly avoiding the Roman's gaze. River grinned at the Doctor, even as his cheeks flushed a deeper red than she'd ever seen.

"We were just coming back in …" he mumbled. Amy looked at him, eyes dancing.

"Oh were you? As far as I saw, you looked pretty busy," the redhead grinned, eyes twinkling. She wasn't letting him get away without serious teasing. The Doctor supposed it could have been worse. But not by much. Amy turned to her daughter. "I'm glad you're feeling better, River, dear."

"A little, thank you, mother. But I still feel like there's … unfinished business," River said unflinchingly. The Doctor swatted her across the shoulder, face turning redder still. He couldn't believe his luck; both the Pond women conspiring against him. Amy raised an eyebrow at them, while Rory groaned with embarrassment.

"Rory and I were worried about you! We thought you might've gotten into trouble. It's a good thing we came when we did! Goodness only knows what could have happened," Amy said, voice dripping with sarcasm and uncontained amusement.

"We were fine, thank you Ponds. In fact, look at the time! We really should be off! People to see, planets to save-"

"Business to finish," muttered River, none too quietly. Rory groaned again.

"Come along, you lot!" said the Doctor, not breaking stride. He shoved the Ponds inside the TARDIS and glared at River, who swept in after them, shooting him a wink. He followed her in and raced up the console.

"Right! Where to next? How about Ganymede? 49th century? Not a bad moon, although the colonists are a little hormonal. Or the constellation Orion? Come to think of it, I haven't seen Betelgeuse in quite some time! Crazy fellow, that one."

"Actually, Doctor, I'm tired. I think we'll turn in. Come on, Rory," Amy yawned. Rory agreed with his wife, and lost no time in heading up the stairs.

"Oh. Oh, fine! Go and be all human, then! Take a nap, the universe will wait!" exclaimed the Doctor, spinning around the console. River rolled her eyes.

"Time machine," grinned Amy, following her husband.

"Good night, Ponds."

"Night, Mum. Night, Dad," called River. Amy looked at them both, a teasing glint in her eye again.

"You two have fun, now." Rory seized his wife's hand before she could say any more, and hauled her down the corridor. "Don't make too much noise, will you? I'm a light sleeper!" shouted Amy, as she disappeared through the door. They could hear Rory scolding her, and River chuckled deeply.

"I thought they'd never leave," she grinned, stalking back over to her husband, his face still bright red. Upon seeing her, he quickly recovered and pulled her to him, seizing her waist. "Down, boy!" she chastised him, twisting out of his grip. "Goodness, someone's a little over-excited."

"It's your fault," the Doctor said, indignantly, chasing after her. "If you weren't so alluring, I wouldn't have this problem."

"Problem? I'm a problem?" she said, dancing out of his reach. "Watch your mouth, pretty boy."

"Well, I can think of a better use for it." He made a grab for her, but she twirled away.

"Hmm, now what would that be?" she retorted, spinning out of reach again.

"Come here and I'll show you."

"You'll have to catch me, sweetie."

He ran after her, reaching out as she danced around the console. She managed to dodge and elude him twice, but on the third try he successfully caught her arm and pulled her in close. His breath tickled her nose as she smiled up at him.

"Consider yourself caught then, Doctor Song."

"Ooh, wipe that smug smile off your face!"

"Make me!"

"If that's what you want, honey."

"I'd like to see you try."

"Okay. Just remember - you asked for it."

"You are a bad girl."

With that, she kissed him deeply again, loving and blissful. He responded in earnest, hands roving up her back. She broke away, smiling happily at him.

"Now, Doctor Song, what do you say to an adventure?"