How to Snuggle with Your Time Lady in Five Easy Steps [3/6]
"No, no, no that's all wrong! Red to green, fuchsia to orange, and the fish goes into the swimming pool!"
"It's not a fish."
"It looks like a fish."
"It's a tricorder environmental adaptor, and I'm telling you, if you plug it into the engine feedback loop you're going to blow out the whole second floor - including the actual swimming pool."
"It's not going to "blow out" the swimming pool."
Calmly: "It's going to blow out the swimming pool."
Glowering: "You know, I think after 1200 years I'd know by now how to fix my TARDIS."
"Sweetie, if you knew how to fly your TARDIS, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place."
"Oi! I fly her perfectly! If you hadn't pushed the blue boringers-"
"Boringers," he stresses, "I wouldn't have had to counter-act the tail spin with a third-dimensional compression coil or jettison the cricket strip!"
"You don't even play cricket!"
"Yes, but I know how!"
River rolls her eyes and refocuses her attention on the underside of the console. "And I know twelve ways to kill you with a deck of cards and a post-it note, that doesn't mean I'm going to try it."
The Doctor makes a strangled noise of protest. "Those are not even remotely the same!"
"They're going to be the same if you don't fix the heating system in the next-" She pauses, listening to the groan of the engines.
"Three minutes," he supplies.
She glares. "Three minutes."
Huffing, the Doctor sticks a thin cable in his mouth to peel back the lining with his teeth, then tangles the bare wires with those dangling from the console. Sparks shower and he covers his face with his arms. On the floor next to him, River lets out a yelp and jumps, nearly banging her head on the console.
River glowers, but the attempt is somewhat mitigated by her appearance - her hair in disarray and slightly burned in places, her face nearly covered with soot, save for the skin under her bright pink goggles. He does his best not to laugh.
"I hate you."
"You don't," he says merrily, shifting into a more comfortable position on his back and continuing to rewire and unwire and move things around. Grumbling under her breath, something about making him wear the pink ones next time, River mimics his actions.
Despite the urgency - the steadily rising temperature being the most pressing concern for the moment - they work in companionable silence for a few moments, mending bits and adding bits and anticipating the other's needs before asked. River hands him a rubber wench and the Doctor trades her for a piece of silly string, letting his hand linger over hers a touch longer than they have time for, earning himself a smile.
"All right," he declares finally, wiping his arm across his forehead and pushing his goggles down around his neck. His hair is damp with sweat, his shirt-sleeves rolled up, shoes and socks discarded. "That should do it," he says, wiggling out into the open. He jumps up and checks the scanner. "Did you attach the fish?"
Muffled: "It's not a fish."
Bending at the waist, he glares at her upside down. "River, you have to attach the coupling to the inverted blue outlet that looks like a swimming pool."
"It doesn't look like a swimming pool."
"It doesn't matter what it looks like, just attach it!"
"It doesn't go there."
"Of course it goes there!"
"It connects to the ninth and twelfth thermo-conduits, if you just give me a moment-"
Scrambling back under the console, nearly on top of her, he grabs the cable out of her hands. "It goes in the blue outlet!"
She snatches it back. "It does not!"
She rolls away, taking the wiring with her. The Doctor protests, grabbing at her side and trying to pull her back toward him. He thinks she's laughing at him, but over their scrabbling he can't quite be sure; he bangs his head several times, alternating whining and snapping at her to give it back.
"River, we've only got thirty seconds, just put the fish in the swimming-"
"It doesn't go in the-"
"Oh, for blimey- River!"
Snaking an arm out from underneath him, River snaps the cable into place above their heads, resulting in a few sparks and a jerk from the TARDIS. Then nothing.
"There," she says. "See?" The temperature begins to drop rapidly, and River looks up at him smugly. "I told you it wasn't a fish."
Torn momentarily between the press of her body against most of his, and the unrealised yet imminent consequences of what she's (unwittingly) just done, he freezes. River licks her lips. He tries not to shudder as her hands grip his waist, hot skin on hot skin and he can feel her breath on his face, now, and she really isn't wearing much anymore - a tank top and jeans and even in goggles she's sexy, which really is unfair - and then the TARDIS jolts and flips sideways and they're both rolled out across the floor, still tangled together, crashing against the railing.
River grapples for the handrail, tearing the goggles off her face. "What the hell was that?"
The Doctor grabs her hand, hoisting himself up next to her only to be tossed across the floor again. He grabs hold of the console as the TARDIS shifts dramatically, and the room begins to thrum with a loud, scratching sound.
"Aaah," he mutters, flailing around the floor, flipping levers as he goes. "I told you it goes in the swimming pool!"
Shouting over the steadily rising noise: "That's impossible! Environmental circuits go in nine and twelve - she told me!"
"You're taking her side now?"
"She's the pilot!"
Indignantly: "I'm the pilot!"
The TARDIS jerks and River is thrown across the glass floor, stumbling, thankfully, into the chair. "Not a very good one!"
He groans loudly. "If you had just done what I told you-"
"I'm telling you, it was the wrong-"
Over the now deafening noise, the Doctor waves his hands spastically and finally shouts: "Yes, but I rerouted the sensor cables six years ago from twenty one to thirty six!"
River clings to the scanner, using it to propel her around the console next to him. How she gets her voice to be so loud and so dangerously low at the same time, he has no idea. "You what?"
"There was a ditch and an army and a bit of - of - of straw in the zig-zag plotter and I couldn't well be expected to- to- to-" The TARDIS jerks and he breaks off. "It was an emergency!" he defends himself.
"This is an emergency!"
"Well it wouldn't have been if you hadn't hit the blue boringers!"
River practically growls in frustration, swinging herself around to the other side to type a few commands on the typewriter. "Can we figure out who's to blameafter we get your ship settled down?"
"Oh, so when she misbehaves she's my ship, but when she does what you want-"
"This really isn't the time, sweetie!"
"I can multitask perfectly well, you know!"
River shoots him a meaningfully raised eyebrow. "No, you really can't."
Spluttering: "It's not my fault you're all distracting with- with- with- your hair and your- your face and- and- and other parts!" Pointing a finger at her. "So, really,you started it!"
"You're the one who set me down on the tribophysical waveform macrokinetic extrapolator!"
"And if you hadn't done that- that- thing with your tongue I probably wouldn't have hit the Easter Egg finder!"
"You don't need an Easter Egg finder!"
"My mum's pretty too, I don't see you trying to keep her around!"
"If I had this wouldn't be happening!"
The TARDIS jolts and the Doctor crashes into River, grabbing her around the waist in an attempt to keep her steady. Instead, the room lurches again and the both crash into the railing, then back into the console. River, barely missing a beat, shifts the red lever up and slams her hand down on the stabilisers. With one last jolt the TARDIS stills abruptly, and the horrendous noise stops. Brushing her hair out of her eyes, River turns to him sharply, breathing heavily. The Doctor straightens his shoulders primly and returns her look.
They both burst into laughter.
The Doctor's hair stands straight up, his braces are tangled around his legs, and his goggles are dangling backwards around his neck. River looks equally if not more haphazard, her hair full of static and the occasional piece of silly string, but her smile is bright and her cheeks are red, and she's still laughing when he grabs her waist and kisses her hungrily. Her arms come up around his shoulders instantly as she tugs him closer, and also away from the console.
Trailing kisses down her neck: "We should take this somewhere a bit-" She bites his earlobe and he moans. "-more horizontal. And-" Kiss. "you know-" Kiss. "safer."
"Boring," she breathes, hands wandering down his back.
She chuckles, pulling back enough to kiss his lips again, this time deeper and slower, her hands caressing the skin above his trousers.
He's about to start steering them down the hall - he can think of eight rooms on the first floor with practical, fairly reliable horizontal surfaces - when he hears something. He stops, pressing a finger to her lips briefly, and listens. It's soft, barely audible, but it's growing louder, and if he's not mistaken, the floor is beginning to vibrate.
"Do you hear that?"
She listens, then frowns. "It sounds like..."
They exchange glances.
"It can't be."
Her eyes narrow dangerously. "Please tell me you at least remembered to isolate the sensor cables when you moved them?"
The Doctor scratches his cheek. "Well, not so much isolate, really, as...well. Not isolate."
"Can we land?"
Skidding over to the console, he throws a few levers. "Safety protocol's engaged."
"Open the doors?"
"Without being exposed to the hard vacuum of the Vortex?"
She throws her hands up. "So what do we do?"
The Doctor looks up at the hallway, toward the increasing sound, and shrugs. "Hold on?"
River sighs, exasperated, but grips his hand all the same. "I don't care how much you love the tide simulator," she says, just as the room begins to shake in earnest, "Next time, we're getting rid of the swimming pool."
It's the last thing said before a large hatch in the ceiling bursts opens, and the room is completely flooded.
"You know," the Doctor muses, stroking a hand through her hair, "It was scientifically proven in the 32nd century that sleeping in a water-based environment was better for your health than a foam or spring mattress."
River grunts her disapproval into his chest. "We are not getting a water bed."
Steering their make-shift flotation device away from the wall with one arm, the Doctor pouts. "But look how comfy this is!"
River doesn't even attempt to lift her head; the last time she moved, she wound up with an elbow in her oesophagus.
"We're floating on a jury-rigged sofa cushion in your flooded TARDIS."
The water is draining, thankfully, but slowly; they're about halfway from the ceiling, now, but they've got hours to go. Hours of not moving, which, she has to admit, she is fairly impressed he's managed to refrain from.
Then again, having all her body weight directly on top of him probably helps.
"Your sofa was made for one person, dear."
Grinning, the Doctor wraps both arms around her back, getting her nearly dried shirt wet in the process, and presses a kiss to the crown of her head.
"I think it's the perfect size."