So, I really have no idea why I wrote this. I hate River! What possessed me to write Doctor/River angst and fluff? Well, for those of you who *do* ship those two - enjoy, I guess. :) Takes place just after the series six finale.
"…And then," the Doctor said, leading his new wife through the TARDIS' many rickety staircases and slanted passageways, "I thought, I really need a sonic that can do wood. I mean, what is it about wood that stumps the poor thing? It works on rubber. That comes from trees."
He paused as she laughed, and blew a sigh of relief. At least he was keeping her entertained.
"So, the TARDIS has been cooking a new screwdriver up. I've a feeling it's going to be magnificent. A new sonic - I usually only get that when … I regenerate," - he made a face - "But the old girl's being generous."
He glanced nervously back at River. She was smiling at him, still. So far, so good. Ugh. Far harder than saving the universe was this whole "love" thing. He had to love River because his future self loved her. Self fulfilling timelines are paradoxes, he grumbled in his head, and I hate paradoxes.
He wanted to please River, however, so he had called her in her prison to schedule a date for the next evening. He had then spent weeks worrying about it, fretting over every detail - he had even bothered to show up on time. He didn't want to disappoint her - he was her husband, and it was only right that they should eat friendly dinners with each other. But was it ever hard.
"Here we are," he said, pointing his glowing green screwdriver at the door in front of them. The light from the screwdriver flickered, but the lock clicked, and the door swung open to admit the newlywed couple.
They entered a room somewhere in the depths of the TARDIS. The Doctor had made sure that their dinner would take place in the most romantic room in his ship - vaulted wood ceiling, gorgeous works of art hanging here and there, and in the middle, a candelabra with some elegant candles.
All in all - the Doctor was very pleased with himself, and stood in the doorway, hands in pockets with a smug expression on his face, while he watched River marvel at the beauty of the room.
"Yup, it's pretty good," he said gloatingly, then took his coat off and sat down opposite to River. "Let me get the candles lit."
Of course, the screwdriver chose this moment to fail completely.
"Oh, you're joking," he said. "Really?" He tapped the screwdriver against the table with a little more force than was necessary, but still got no result.
"I'm so sorry," he said, and she laughed at his shy, eager-to-please, but nonetheless slightly annoyed tone. "Let me go up to the console room and get my new one, it'll be done by now," he said.
"All the way up to the console room?"
"Yeah." Take me away. Why am I so embarrassed? Just take me away.
"I bet you can find matches somewhere around here."
"You try and find some cupboard with matches in this maze."
"All right - I will. You go up to the console, and I'll get the matches, and we'll see who wins."
"You're on," he said. Anything to get out of this, if only for a few minutes. This was driving him crazy. Awkward enough, before, but somehow the failure of his screwdriver had just driven it home to him what a failure he himself was - a little thing, tipping him over the edge.
She went down the hallway, he went up the stairs. Once out of hearing range, he started running, and didn't stop until he was in his good old console room, hands on his knees, panting and very glad to be alone.
The TARDIS whirred, and he caught his breath and let it out in yet another sigh. "It's okay, old girl," he told the spaceship, running a finger over the gears and levers on her control panel. "It's only - I don't want to let River down. I'll be all right."
He pulled the monitor screen down, and observed the prison cell outside. His TARDIS was invisible (another thing he owed River was the ability to use the monitor while cloaked), and he could see red lights flashing and guards running frantically around, trying to figure out where River had gone.
"River does this for me," he told his TARDIS, grateful for the chance to talk this all out with somebody trusted. "The imprisonment, everyone hating her, she does it for me! And I don't really know how to feel about her. How wrong is that?"
He scuffed his boots against the ground as he approached the place his sonic screwdriver had popped out, last time. "And we're married," he said. "Married! And I've never even called her 'sweetie', have I? Shouldn't I have returned that at least once? I don't know. I can't be what she wants me to be. I just can't. I don't care enough about her. I wish I did. But I can't make myself - feelings are precious, you know." He stroked the gears and levers of his time machine, letting off steam through his words. "I can't just make them come. But I've talked enough."
He shook his head, and held out his hand for his screwdriver.
That's when his life changed.
River heard familiar footsteps coming down the stairs, and prepared a triumphant smile. "I'm the child of the TARDIS," she called to the Doctor. "You shouldn't have underestimated that. I found a knickknack cupboard in no time fl-"
She stopped when she saw him.
He stood there like a dead man, eyes empty, cheeks wet and shining in the dim light.
"Have you been … crying, sweetie?" She whispered. "What happened?"
"Spoilers," he said, voice breaking, it was so low.
"Are you all right?" She asked, breathlessly.
He was silent, expression unchanging, those dead eyes staring out from below his brow. Still on the bottom step of the staircase, one hand gripping the the low, jutting bit of ceiling above his head.
"Come here," he sighed, after a prolonged quiet.
She did so, face full of concern.
His raised, white-knuckled hand slipped down, and he laid both his hands on her shoulders. "River Song," he said, voice still low.
"I love you."
She never got to finish the sentence, because he cut her off with a kiss. And not just any old kiss. She stumbled when she felt the force of it, and he steadied her by wrapping both his arms around her waist and holding on for dear life, never breaking the contact, only putting more into it and pulling more out of it, eyes tight shut. One hand moving up to her hair and nestling there, tugging slightly, but not enough to be uncomfortable.
She broke the contact and sucked in air, heart battering against her chest.
"Sorry," he whispered. "Too much for one heart and human lungs?"
It wasn't quite a taunt, but she accepted the challenge and kissed him back.
"Mm," he said, when they were finished, "Not quite as good as mine." And he almost smiled.
"What happened to you?" she asked.
"Nothing," he said.
"I lie all the time."
"Not to me, you don't, mister."
"I have to."
"I'm your wife."
"I got a new screwdriver, that's what happened."
"And a screwdriver rewired your awkwardness?"
"Oi! Awkwardness? It wasn't that bad."
"Yes, it was, though. So, what happened?"
He stared into space. "I guess I just needed a bit of a wake up call."
"A screwdriver gave you a wake up call?"
"Honestly, River," he said. "I really can't tell you."
"It made you cry, though? Did you see something? What happened? Something bad? Or is it going to happen? Please tell me."
"Things have to be pretty bad to make me cry," was all he would let on. "I'm a thousand years old. I've seen a few things. Now," he put a finger over her mouth, "I want you to listen. I love you, and -"
"Oh, sweetie." She put her hand to his damp cheek. "I love you, too."
"Good," he said. "I'm not going to let the time we get to spend together go to waste. River Song, I want this to be the best date we've ever had. I want you to tell me where I go wrong, I want you to let me know if there is anything in the world I can do better for you, okay?" He searched her face, smile tugging the corners of his lips, now. "I have something to show you," he said. "Come here."
They went upstairs, holding hands, and, to River's evident puzzlement, to the doors.
The Doctor opened them, and River gasped. It was sunset over some gorgeous planet - red and gold mountains, the sky blazing with a fierce orange glow, stretching over their heads, far as their eyes could see.
"I've never been here before," River said. "Where-"
But she knew, as soon as she saw his face. Because he was crying again.
"I'm the one who put the time lock on," he breathed. "This is its weakest point. Two million years before the Time War, a secluded place. We can't go near civilization. But we can stay out here. In the mountains. Oh, River -" His voice was shaking - "I can't tell you how much I've missed this place. I didn't want to risk going here, before. Never worked up enough courage, I guess."
"What better place to tell you my name," he said, "than on my planet? And it's yours, too. You're part Time Lady, River."
"How did we get here?"
"I didn't even notice we were flying! And it didn't make the noise!"
"What noise?" He said innocently.
"You know - the noise!"
"She's not supposed to make that noise," he said. "I leave the brakes on. And the flight, well, I used the blue stabilizers."
"You taught me to use them."
"Well, teach me someday." He kissed her gently, and, holding tight to each other's hands, stepped out into their future.
Leaving the TARDIS behind, for a while.
And in a nook, slightly hidden but still obvious to the attentive viewer, was a screwdriver.
Stumpy, intricate, with more special features than you could shake a stick at - among them a user recognition ring, dampers, and a built in neural relay device - the TARDIS really had outdone herself.
And she was puzzled as to why her thief had cried so hard when she had given it to him.
Ta da! I'd love it if you left a review. Thank you so much for reading! :D