my dignity's become undone
He hates the whispers.
He can hear them, just below his feet. Tangled words spoken low and strained. He can't make out what they are saying, of course, but he knows they are whispering. And judging by Amy's stricken look, they are whispering about him.
He hates this.
It's not a feeling he normally indulges, but he is the Doctor and he is never the least informed man in the room. But this time he is, and it eats away at him, like acid bubbling between his hearts and he wants it to just go away.
They climb the stairs, but Amy's footfalls are heavy and River's are cautious, and why does he even know that about her – when he still doesn't know the most basic of things about her? He swallows that burning feeling down, and stares up at the monitor, waiting for the full audience to begin his performance. Life is a stage, but if they think he's about to play his part when he doesn't even know his lines, none of them know him at all.
And these three people are supposed to be the ones who know him best.
Once they are all gathered around the console, he jumps back with a fixed smile and begins. "Time isn't a straight line. It's all... bumpy wumpy." He moves past Rory and throws levers to give his hands something to do. Anything to stop the shaking rage that is sitting just beside his left heart. "There's loads of boring stuff. Like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons." He steps back with flare, throwing his arms as he continues moving toward River. "But now and then there are Saturdays. Big temporal tipping points when anything is possible." He is drawn to her despite his banked anger. Rory and Amy are looking at him like they are crushed by whatever it is that they're all keeping from him. But River – oh River is more than accustomed to keeping secrets. She is an expert and it shows because she can look at him without that shadow lining her eyes. She can look at him with – he doesn't like to name it because if he names it, it begins to all mean things. Things like the fact that she can keep soul-crushing secrets from him, and still look at him like she is right this second. The look on her face shoots through him as he continues on about the TARDIS being drawn to Saturdays. "Like a moth to a flame."
She is smiling up at him, her eyes bright and his hand raises almost of its own volition to stroke along the bridge of her nose – just there. He tells himself it's to smooth the crinkle from her nose, because he can't seem to stomach the fact that she can smile at him like that and make his insides twitch and wobble, even while Amy and Rory are behind them, looking sick with the weight of their secret. "So I give her 1969, NASA - cause that's space in the sixties – and Canton Everett Delaware the third," He forces himself away from River, because he can't look at her joy when his own hearts are twisted with rage. Everything about it feels wrong. Right. But wrong. He types, before straightening and flicking the monitor on once more – like he hadn't already inputted all of this while they were all discussing him below deck. But the showman in him wouldn't allow for any less, "and this is where she's pointing."
They follow him over – of course they do, he's planned on them doing it. Amy frowns at the screen. "Washington, D.C. April the 8th, 1969." She reads the words dutifully off the screen and looks at him. "So why haven't we landed?"
"Cause that's not where we're going." He shrugs and turns to her in time to see hers and Rory's perplexed faces.
"Oh. Where are we going?" Rory asks hesitantly and the Doctor smiles. Ah Rory. So dependable, even in moments like this.
"Home. Well, you two are. Off you pop and make babies. And you, Doctor Song," he swings toward River and strokes a hand along her jaw, even while he curses his own temptation to touch her. Twice he's given in now, despite his anger and irritation. It unsettles him that his body reacts so freely without his consent. "back to prison. And me," he flicks levers as anger finally finally bleeds into his voice, "I'm late for a bi-plane lesson. Or it could be knitting. Knitting or bi-planes, one or the other." He throws himself into the jump seat with a flair that even Heathcliff would envy and presses his hand against his forehead.
He can hear their tentative steps around the console, and he looks up with a sigh. "What? A mysterious summons and you think I'm just going to go? Who sent those messages?" He stares at each of them, anger burning through him, hot in his chest. His jaw sets and he focuses on Amy and Rory. The weak links. "I know you know. I can see it in your faces." Rory swallows, his face the picture of guilt and something else the Doctor cannot quite define. Amy avoids his gaze, but the Doctor stands, moving in front of her, his face impassive. "Don't play games with me. Don't ever, ever think you're capable of that." His tone is low and Amy chokes back a sob, before turning and running up the stairs and down the hall. Rory stares at him for a moment, censure in his gaze, before he follows his wife. The Doctor ignores their hasty retreats, and swings around to look at River who is standing there, her face impassive and her eyes like stone.
All of that warmth that had been there earlier is gone now, and he feels the echo of it – hollow in his chest, like something has been ripped out. Irrationally, it makes him even angrier. She meets his gaze head on, licking her lips and dragging her teeth over the bottom one before she speaks. "You're going to have to trust us."
He laughs at that, because trusting her when she never ever tells him anything is a ridiculous notion. Some small part of the back of his brain is protesting, but he cannot seem to pay attention to it properly in the face of her calm expression and dead eyes. "Trust you? Sure. Only, tell me Doctor Song." He moves closer to her – moth to a flame and he is no different than his ship really. She is an irresistible force, and he wants to shake that expressionless mask off of her face. "Who are you?" He breathes the question out, inching in closer and closer to her until there is less than three inches between his body and hers. She simply looks up at him, her face unchanged, and oddly his anger rises. Somehow it's not even about what they're keeping from them anymore. It's like this is a personal challenge, and he knows he can make her react. "You're someone from my future – getting that." He glances down over her figure as he speaks, and when he looks up again, he catches the slightest dilation of her pupils. He smiles faintly, the corner of his mouth tilting upward. "But who?"
Her face still doesn't change though, and she stares at him, unflinching. She has to know he can see the arousal in her eyes, but she doesn't back down an inch. Something close to excitement is crawling under his skin now, and he feels it race along his veins alongside that fiery anger.
"Okay. Why are you in prison?" There – the slightest tightening of the skin around her eyes – oh she is good. So very very good. Of course she is – she has to be. "Who did you kill, hm?" He inches closer, and the lapels of her jacket are brushing against his chest, sending a shiver shooting through him. This is new. She swallows, and he smiles, knowing he is winning. "Now I love a bad girl, me, but trust you? Seriously?" He scoffs and she stares at him, her eyes burning intensely. She is so close to breaking he can taste it – and he needs her to break. He's not sure why, but he wants it – wants to see it, wants to watch it. Nothing else will satisfy his anger, and he knows it makes no sense, but he can't seem to untangle his feelings at the moment.
"And why should I tell you, Doctor?" She says his name like nothing he's ever heard before. Like it isn't even his name and he feels his hearts stumble as she goes on the offensive. Oh he's made her react alright, but he's suddenly unsure. This is not what he'd been expecting. "Because I should trust you? You're the Doctor? You know something happened, and you know it was something terrible because you saw Amy's face. But whatever it was – you weren't there. We had to handle that on our own, and why should we tell you anything?"
"It's my business, River." His voice is soft and deadly, but she tosses her hair and smiles up at him, uncaring or blatantly ignoring all the warning signs. "I know it's to do with me."
"And you can think of no reason – not one single valid reason in that great, impressive, brain of yours - that we couldn't tell you the truth? The Doctor. Please. Not my Doctor." He can read her rising anger, and her words incense him without reason. No. With reason. He is her Doctor – he knows it – he can feel it in every beat of his hearts, feel it in the way his body naturally reacts to her, even when he has no clue who she is or if he can trust her.
"I am your Doctor." He breathes the words out in frustration – the memory of her face in that Library. Yeah. Someday. It had angered him so much then, but he had thought – had assumed, with this new face. He was hers. Had to be.
"Not yet, you're not." She scoffs, disbelief lining her face and he reaches for her, his hands curling around her shoulders and gripping her tightly.
"It has to be me – this me. This face." He insists and she smiles enigmatically, as if she knows something he doesn't – and of course, she does. The heat under his skin rises at her smug expression.
"You know better than anyone a face means nothing. What's behind it? That's what matters, and you are not my Doctor. Do you know why?" Her voice is soft, whispering through the air as she leans forward and stares at him, unwilling to release him from her gaze.
"Why?" He parrots her question and she smiles.
"My Doctor wouldn't do this. He would never use his best weapon – words – to deliberately and cruelly attack the people he cares about most. He would never have frightened Amy Pond – his Amelia – and he would never ever have used everything he knows about me to hurt me, just for the sake of goading me into a response." Her words are barely more than whispers, but they slice into him with deadly accuracy and he stares down at her, unable to move. He feels a rising wave of anger – that she is capable of this at all. Turning this around as if it's somehow his fault. "You are not nearly him."
"I am him." He grinds the words out, his fingers uncurling from her shoulders before sliding up and tangling in her hair. He pulls a bit harder than he has to, but she doesn't even flinch, she simply arches a brow as if to say is that all? "I am." He insists again and his anger swirling around inside of him now. He doesn't know if he even wants the truth about what happened anymore, or if he just wants to wipe the smug look from her face, or if he just wants to win this battle, or if he somehow feels the need to prove to her that he is the Doctor. Her Doctor. He is not too young, or too naive, or the wrong face. Maybe when you're older. He's older, he thinks. He's older.
Maybe it's a little bit of everything that makes him pull her toward him none too gently, and kiss the smirk from her mouth.
He realizes several things at once. If he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame, he has somehow forgotten – blinded by his own emotions – that she will burn him. She tastes amazing. The press of her lips under his, the bite of his teeth across her lower lip as he fights for dominance in a battle she refuses to yield – it's all addictive, and only fuelling the fire within him. His hands pull through her hair; slide down her throat and under her jacket as he pushes her back against the console.
She doesn't back down, but she lets him push her into the solid object as her own hands grip his shoulders, biting against his lip as she slides her hands under his coat and drags her nails across his back. The sensation – even over his shirt - sends flames shooting down his spine, and this feeling, this unquenchable insatiable feeling licks along his skin and burrows under muscle until it curls along his bones. He wonders if she's leaving scorch marks – he thinks that she must be.
His tongue invades her mouth – there's no softness or politeness about it. No soft licks against her lips, no asking for an invitation – he simply thrusts in, feeling the vibration of her moan as he fights her for control of the kiss. His hands shove at her jacket, all but ripping it from her body, and she wraps her arms around him as soon as they are free.
He smiles against her mouth at her compliance and she bites his lip so hard he can taste blood in retaliation. He gasps and pulls back, and the sight of her is nearly his undoing. Her lids are heavy and her eyes dark and so green – he's never seen them this colour before, even though they change almost constantly. The heat within them shoots straight through him and he likes it. He can't tell anymore if it's from anger or arousal or both; he doesn't think he even cares, because he can barely discern between those emotions within himself. Her skin is flushed and her lips are swollen and he's never seen her look so amazing. He's always looked at her in contemplation and thought – future him has excellent taste. But no, he looks at her now and realizes he has excellent taste. Even now, at the end of her timeline, she is gorgeous. So very lush and mature, and it is a refreshing change for him. She is panting, and he is shocked to realize that so is he.
"Shut up." She mutters the words even though he hasn't even spoken, bites them out as she shoves his tweed off, her hands sliding over his chest, nails scraping. "You just never shut up."
He doesn't respond, opting to prove his silence instead of arguing it. His mouth covers hers once more and it is again just this side of angry, but she moans, one leg hitching up over his hip as her pelvis grinds against his, and he chokes on the air in his lungs. He moves his mouth from hers, sliding it down along her jaw, kissing and scraping and biting – he wants to mark her, to leave teeth shaped bites and finger shaped bruises all over her, so she has to look at herself and know.
She is his.
His hands curl around her hips as his face nudges the collar of her blouse aside, and his grip tightens and tightens as he drags his mouth along her clavicle. Her hands are gripping his hair as she makes tiny whimpering sounds, but somehow she manages to not make it sound like she is giving in. More like she is asking for more. His grips the bottom hem of her blouse and tugs viciously – buttons fly and scatter, pinging along the glass floor and he is happy knowing that he will be finding them for weeks after this.
And every time he will pick one up and remember the flush of her skin, and the heaving of her chest and the push of her glorious breasts against the fabric of her bra. She is stunning, but he doesn't want to stop to think about that right now, because the fire urges him on. He pulls the remnants of her blouse away from her skin, dropping it behind him. He lowers his head and bites the top of her left breast, hearing her oddly loud heartbeat against his ear as she gasps in shock, jumping until her hips are on top of the console. Her hands scramble, pulling hard on his hair as she all but drags his mouth to hers once more.
He pushes his hips into hers even as she yanks his bowtie undone, flinging it behind her, uncaring, before sliding her hands under his braces and pulling those down until they dangle at his hips. His hands are pressed against the etched glass below her and he can feel the words of his people burning into his palms. Can she feel those words too? Against the skin of her back, against the curve of her waist? Can she read them like that? She tugs his shirt out of his pants and yanks it open in the same fashion he did hers. More buttons rain along the glass floor, rolling away to secret locations.
He kisses her, pressing her back against the console – there are things on there that must be uncomfortable, he knows. He can't seem to care as his fingers lick along her sides greedily, he foregoes fumbling with the clasp of her bra and instead simply dips his hand inside, pulling one breast free, his fingers pinching and twisting the nipple until it brushes stiffly against his palm. Her hands roam under his shirt, nails scratching rougher than they should, but he delights in the sensation. Pleasure and pain are so closely tangled together; they are almost living effigies of them both. He is pain, and she is pleasure – rubbing herself all over him. Her breast brushes against his chest as she arches beneath him and he lifts his mouth from hers, to bend down further between them. He has to taste her – everywhere, he thinks. He licks along her breast and pulls the stiff nipple into his mouth, biting down without care, and she cries out at that. He stills at the sound, the fire within him dousing and dimming as his mind clears. What is he doing? He pulls back suddenly, looking down at her, spread across the console and he swallows heavily, shame crawling up from his chest and lodging in his throat. He chokes and her eyes glitter as she sits up, her hands moving behind her and divesting herself of her bra. "No." He chokes the word out and she leans forward, her breasts pushing against his chest as she latches onto his neck, biting down so hard he shouts out, his hands moving to her waist and gripping her tightly there.
"Don't you dare." Her whisper is hot and livid against his ear as she lifts her head. "Don't you dare back away from me now. After what you did-"
"I didn't do anything." He bites the words out and she glares at him and he can almost feel the sting of her earlier slap, rising to his cheek. Oh he hadn't done anything. Yet. "How typical of you to punish me for things I haven't even done yet."
"Why not?" She tosses back at him swiftly. "You do the same to me all the time." And she is right, he knows – he has been punishing her, for mocking him with her spoilers, for dropping into his life without warning, for having the nerve to love him enough to die when he never even asked her to do that. And it angers him, so so much. There is an edge of pain in her eyes, disappointment and that warm, dare he admit it – loving look has not returned. Even now, even as she is half naked in front of him, she looks at him from behind a wall and he wants to pull at it – claw and dig until his fingers bleed from the effort but he wants it gone. Instead his hands move to her waist, pulling open her denims and peeling them down her legs with purpose. She kicks her own boots off and he rises, leaning forward and kissing her once more. The bite is still there, the frustration and visceral pain that always comes with him and her. It feels cleansing somehow though, like he can expel all of his anger against her skin, and she can do the same to him, and they will be even then.
She lays back again, her hands twisting in his hair as his head moves lower, pausing oh so briefly to brush against the rosy tips of her breasts, because he has better places available to him now. He bites at her ribs, scraped his teeth across her soft belly as she writhes and moans underneath him, her back is arching off the console and his palm slides up along her stomach as he watches her undulate above him. She is glorious, and even as he thinks it he sucks the skin over her hipbone, and she shouts, her hands releasing his hair and flying off to her sides, grabbing levers tightly as her hips tilt up toward his face.
His hand pushes her back down, his mouth dragging across the hem of her knickers to the other hip, where he repeated his actions, licking and sucking against the skin until blood rushed to the surface, leaving her marked. His other hand trails along her thigh, down to her knee and back up along her inner thigh. When he reaches the apex, he feels the dampness of the material there and he smiles against the soft skin of her stomach, his tongue dipping into her belly button as his fingers pull the fabric aside roughly to plunge into her wet folds. "Oh you bad girl." He growls the words against her skin as she rolls her hips against his hand and gasps, her hands still gripping the instruments she can reach. "Does this turn you on River? Being taken like this? Without care or love?" She stiffens under him at that, but his fingers are curling up within her and she lets out a sound that is somewhere between a moan and a sob.
It echoes through his chest, reverberating within him like he is hollow, and he thinks maybe he is. A hollow, shell of a man. He buries his face against her knickers, and tears sting his eyes as his hand moves furiously within her. She was right earlier, he thinks as he presses his thumb against her clit, pushing across it as his fingers map her inside out. Words are his weapons, but they are double edged and he cuts himself open as much as anyone else. She tightens around him, more and more and more and more and he pushes on and on until she is shattering around him, coming with a shout that bounces off the walls around them.
He pulls his hand out from within her and licks his suddenly dry lips. He can taste salt, and he tells himself it's her sweat. She reaches down suddenly, grasping at his neck and head until he allows himself to be pulled up, but he avoids her gaze. She kisses him then, her mouth hungry over his as her hands drift across his skin, fingers digging and nails biting. It stings, but he moans in response, because yes – it is something he deserves, and he is happy to let her have this. She yanks the front of his trousers open, pushing them down over his hips until she can grip him, hard and heavy in her palm. She pumps her fist once, twice, and presses her face against his, panting against his cheek. "You don't deserve me." She groans the words out and his hands reach up into her hair, gripping tightly as he nods. He doesn't – he doesn't deserve her. He doesn't deserve anyone. "Do you want to know a secret, Doctor?" It's the first time she's said his name since this started and he almost sobs in relief at the sound of it on her lips, even as her hand tugs and pulls at him, so tight and almost painful but oh – he loves it.
"What?" He begs her – because he cannot call this asking, his voice is shaking and she presses a soft kiss against his temple. He shudders against her – somehow that simple, small kiss is affecting him more than her fingers wrapped around his length or her other hand, squeezing against his back, nails biting the skin there.
"I don't deserve you either." Her voice is soft and heavy with pain and loathing and oh god – it's never occurred to him until this very moment just how alike they are. He turns his face then, and kisses her desperately. His hands burrow between them, shoving her own hands aside and pressing her thighs open until she is spread before him. His fingers hook the side of her knickers, jerking them aside just before he plunges within her and they both groan at that. She feels amazing around him, warm and like liquid silk, and his tongue wraps around hers even as he pulls back and pushes back in slowly.
River seems dissatisfied with this pace though, and her hands crawl under his shirt, sliding along his back roughly until she can dig her fingers into his buttocks and yank him forward with a snap. She pulls her mouth from his, tilting her head back and staring at the time rotor above her as she whimpers. "Harder."
He complies, frankly he's fairly certain she could ask him to step in front of a bullet at this moment and he would happily obey. "Oh, River." His words are muffled against her throat, as he nudges her hair aside with his face and bites the muscles straining along her neck. She shouts, her grip tightening and he begins thrusting even harder now. He has to be hurting her, has to be driving her into painful items scattered across his ship's console – oh his ship. He starts, looking above them at the time rotor, and she is moving in time, and for the first time he notices the lights have dimmed and the hallway doors have shut – and oh bless his old girl. He drops his forehead against River's, his movements becoming jerky and erratic as she wraps around him, squeezing with her thighs and her hands and her everything. She is moaning beneath him, and he hears his name – his name over and over again. The syllables all rush together, his name is rushing through her like a river, and the image of that makes him come with a shout, pressing his face into her throat, tighter and tighter until he feels like he cannot even draw breath. He sobs against her skin and she lets go, her body relaxing as they both slide off the glass and land in a heap on the floor. He can feel tears in his eyes as he presses small kisses against her hair. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
She settles into his lap, wrapping her arms around him and she smoothes her hands against his back. "Shhh. We needed that. Don't apologise for necessity, my love." He chokes back a sob at her words, but presses his face into her hair and lets her stroke him gently as he comes down from the intensity of it all – tears drip from his face to her skin, and he thinks he can feel her shoulders shaking underneath his hands, but she is steady and calm in his arms. "You know why we can't tell you." She finally speaks after a long period of silence, and he nods into the crook of her neck.
"My future." His hands trace along the bare skin of her back, writing apologies into her skin. He has so much to apologise for, he knows. He has hurt her. He's hurt Amy and Rory too, but she's taken the brunt of it.
"Trust Amy, Doctor." River whispers finally, and her voice is so thick that he pulls back to see the tears swimming in her eyes. His hearts twist in his chest – and it hurts more than anything else he's felt in the last hour. "She wouldn't ask this if it wasn't important."
"No," He shakes his head and swallows roughly, pulling her closer until his nose brushes against hers and he can press a soft kiss to her cheek, tasting the salt of her tears there. "I'll trust you, River. I will – I do. And I – I lied before." He admits in a low voice, and she smiles against his skin, her hands brushing through his hair.
"I know. Rule one."
He can see she does – she understands and she knows and he is so grateful to not have to explain anything that he laughs hollowly, and pulls her mouth to his. This kiss is different than every kiss before it. It is soft, and exploring and begging for permission he's already taken. But she smiles against his lips, and opens herself to him regardless and he can't quite believe she does that without hesitation. When he pulls away with one last soft kiss, he shakes his head in wonder. "I don't deserve you." He affirms and she laughs, warmth seeping back into her eyes and something loosens within him at the sight. He lets go of the anger and a warm affection rushes in to replace it.
"As if you had any say in the matter, sweetie." She grins and he laughs, because he can almost picture it – her young and brash and never taking no for an answer. He doubts the word would ever pass his lips by that point anyway.
"So, 1969?" He asks and she laughs, tilting her head back and smiling back at him.
"Well maybe some clothes first. And letting Amy and Rory back in." She honest to goodness blushes at that and he grins in delight. River Song. Blushing. Would wonders never cease? "And then 1969."
"It's a good year, you know." He smiles and she nods.
"Oh sweetie, you have no idea."