the coolness of your smile is stirringofbirds between my arms;

"Sweetie, you've missed the landing." She leans out of the door, glancing down the curving hallway that leads toward her cell – just around the bend.

"And what, the walk will kill you, Dr. Song?" He is right behind her, his chest pressed to her back and his hands at her waist as he presses a soft kiss to the nape of her neck.

"And this is the service I get, on my birthday no less?" She chides him, turning to loop her arms around his neck and smile up at him brightly. He is very nearly linear with her this time, and as always when that happens, she is reluctant to leave.

"Well if you'd tell me how old you are, maybe I'd re-park her." He is teasing now, sliding his lips against her cheek, up to her ear and his tongue flicks out there as she sighs happily. His mouth drags down the line of her jaw and she tilts her head back with a throaty chuckle.


"Always with the spoilers." He murmurs the words against her skin, but then he freezes, pulling back to look down at her seriously. "River,"

His voice is unusually serious, and she sobers, frowning up at him. "What is it, sweetie?"

"Did you have fun today? I wanted it to be special – I wanted it to – it's special." He stresses the word, his eyes dark as he looks at her and she feels a frisson of icy fear slide down her spine. Her birthday is always special. But he is saying this like this one needs to be more special.

"It was special, of course it was – I loved it honey, you know that." She rushes to answer him, her hands grasping his arm as she grins up at him, trying to reassure him, calm this agitation that she can't quite pinpoint.

"I love you." His voice is a whisper, and he cradles her face in his hands. "So, so much – and always, River. You have to remember that."

She feels her hearts seize in her chest. Is he warning her? That this is when it changes, and he starts knowing her less? But – but she's still so young, she feels so young and it's as if no time at all has passed since she kissed him twice in Berlin and changed the entire landscape of her life. "Doctor," her voice is worried and then suddenly, as if it were a cloud passing over the sun, he is smiling again, kissing her and kissing her and kissing her like he is as reluctant to let her leave as she is to go. "I love you too, sweetie." She breathes the words out and he hugs her to him, his arms wrapping around her and holding her against his chest. She wraps her arms around his waist and they sway for a moment, simply feeling the beat of his hearts over hers.

"I'm sorry." He whispers the words into her hair, kissing her temple and she smiles in confusion. "I shouldn't be ruining your birthday."

"Hardly that, Doctor." She teases him warmly and pulls back, kissing him once more. "But if I don't leave now, I never will, and I have a sentence to keep up."

"I wish you didn't." His voice is low and he pushes a palm against her cheek, stroking the skin there. "I wish you didn't have to do that for me, River."

"I chose to, and I'm happy. Besides which – I'll see you in a few hours, sweetie." She rises on tiptoe and kisses him one last time, soft and sweet, his tongue brushing against the inside of her mouth, oh so gently. His hands are soft on her face, and when he pulls away she is smiling dreamily up at him. "I'll see you soon."

"Not if I see you first," his grin is back, and she smiles at him as she picks up her skates and fur muff.

"Cheater." She scolds him and he shrugs.

"Time machine." He points out with a smile, and she walks through the door. "Happy birthday, River."

She turns and blows him a kiss. "Go take me somewhere else fantastic, you daft man. I love you." She hears his chuckle as he closes the doors and she hums under her breath as the TARDIS dematerializes behind her. He's left the brakes on, and the sound triggers the alarms.

She rolls her eyes and waltzes over to the phone on the wall by her cell, picking it up with a grin. "Oh turn it off; I'm breaking in, not out! This is River Song, back in her cell. Oh, and I'll take breakfast at the usual time, thank you." She sing-songs into the phone, before hanging up and continuing to sway down the hall, a smile on her face as she remembers the day. So much to write into her diary shortly, she thinks. She pauses, seeing a shadow in the hall.

"Oh, are you boys dressing up as Romans now? I thought nobody read my memos." She adds cheekily, thinking on the scads of helpful suggestions she's handed into the guards over the years. A girl's got to keep herself amused somehow, after all. The soldier steps forward.

"Dr. Song." He steps into the light and she feels herself holding her breath. How had he gotten here – she always visited them on her birthday – she and the Doctor had stopped in prior to going to London. "It's Rory." He explains, his voice hesitant and her hearts sink. If he felt the need to explain that – and call himself by name – he is early. So early. "Sorry – have – have we met yet? Time streams I'm not quite sure where we are."

Her chest feels like it is being crushed, by more than just the corset she's wearing. This is the first time she's ever encountered him so young – before he knew who she was. Tears sting her eyes and she fights to remain calm.

"Yes, yes we've met." She rushes to reassure him, walking forward. Daddy, she wants to say. It's me. "Hello, Rory." Is what she manages instead, her voice oddly low. She hasn't called him that in years.

He stares at her in confusion, his brow furrows and he studies her in such an achingly familiar manner. It's how he always looks at her when he knows she's keeping something from him – which is almost always. But he always asks. Always. And as if on cue, he speaks. "What's wrong?" She is speechless for a moment. He doesn't know her, but he is still just so very Rory. So very much her father, that it makes her gasp.

"It's my birthday." She covers quickly, and he nods, raising his brows. She needs a moment to deal with this, so she rushes ahead and keeps talking. "The Doctor took me ice skating on the river Thames in 1814. The last of the great Frost Fairs. He got Stevie Wonder to sing for me under London Bridge."

"Stevie Wonder sang in 1814?" Her father frowns in confusion and River nods quickly.

"Yes, he did! But you must never tell him." She puts a finger to her lips and then laughs, but the sound is flat and awkward. Her father nods slightly and rocks back, before swaying forward.

"I've come from the Doctor too." He rushes to speak and he looks at him.

"Yes, but at a different point in time." She explains and he nods along.

"Unless there's two of them."

"Well," she tilts her head teasingly, wondering just how badly he'll yell at her about this later, "that's a whole different birthday." She walks toward her cell, pulling her diary out as she goes.

"He needs you." Rory speaks abruptly behind her, and suddenly it all clicks. Him not knowing her, her Doctor apologizing –

"Demon's Run." She says out loud, and oh she hates him a little bit for not warning her what she was about to have to do. Refuse her own father the help he sought.

"How – how did you know?" Rory asks from behind her, and she forces herself to think of him like that – Rory. Not her father, not yet – this man is no one's father yet. She closes her eyes for a moment, steadying herself before she turns to face him.

"I'm from his future, I always know." She looks at him – she's not done Demon's Run herself yet – well, not that she can recollect - but whenever her Doctor mentions it, his voice is so thick with pain and guilt. She isn't looking forward to it. "Why on Earth are you wearing that?"

"The Doctor's idea." Rory shifts uncomfortably and River smiles.

"Of course, his rules of engagement. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

"Look ridiculous." Rory adds with a sweep of his arms and she turns away.

"Have you considered heels?" She teases, turning her back to him once more as she fights to keep her emotions in check.

"They've taken Amy." He blurts and her face drops and she is so so very glad she's turned away. "And our baby." And oh her hearts when he says that. She wants to shout – to turn and run and tell him that it will be fine, that she is fine, but he doesn't know and she can't – she cannot help him. Not now. Not until the end. The Doctor has told her over and over again. Crossing your own time stream is incredibly dangerous. You have to time it perfectly, River. You'll know. When the time comes. And I'm sorry.

"The Doctor's getting some people together," Rory moves toward her, all creaking leather and she can feel the intensity of his gaze. His Doctor. Not hers. "we're going after her, but he needs you too." Oh, she thinks as her hearts sink. Perhaps he is a little bit still hers – if he looks to her for this.

"I can't," she says finally, her voice thick as she turns to face his confused frown. "Not yet anyway." His face is full of pained confusion and disappointment and it feels like such a stab to her hearts she is almost tempted to check – take her pulse because surely one of them isn't working.

"I'm sorry?" He asks and worse than confusion is his disgust. She remains calm and forces herself to explain, even though she knows. He won't understand.

"This is the battle of Demon's Run. The Doctor's darkest hour. He'll rise higher than ever before, and then fall – so much further. And," she took a breath, longing for him to just listen to her word choices and understand, " I can't be with him until the very end."

"Why not?" He bites the question out, confusion and anger stamped across his face and she shakes her head. He doesn't – he isn't listening.

"Because this is it," she whispers, before turning away from the censure in his face and walking into the welcome respite of her cell. For the first time these walls feel like protection instead of an imprisonment. She looks at him through the bars. "This is the day he finds out who I am."

"And that's what I'm to tell him?" Rory scoffs, and shakes his head. "What you're telling me?"

She shakes her head and turns her back, wrapping her arms around herself as she feels him stare at her incredulously. "That's all the explanation I get? He trusts you – you were the first – the very first person he asked for, do you know that?" Rory scoffs and she fights to remain silent. "Fine then. Thanks for absolutely nothing, I guess. See you at the end." She hears him stalk away in anger, and only when she hears the thud of the wooden TARDIS doors down the hall does she sink to her knees, dropping her skates and fur, and clutching her diary to her chest.

She breathes, in and out, closing her eyes and concentrating on remaining calm. Her fingers trace the geometric pattern of her diary, over and over again. She counts out seconds, feels the weight of each one, and waits and waits for the sound of them leaving.

It doesn't come, and she counts higher and her fingers move higher as she soothes herself with whispers.

"It all turns out. He loves me. He loves me." She says the words over and over again, her diary clutched in her hands and tears streaming down her face.

"No. He doesn't." She freezes at the sound of the Doctor's voice, cold and unlike anything she's ever heard before and of course, he thinks she is talking about him. She isn't, but his words hurt her none the less. She swallows, placing her diary on the floor next to her things before she stands oh so slowly, and rotates to face him.

He watches her impassively, but the lack of expression on his face speaks to how angry he is, she knows. She's never ever seen him like this – not even when she'd killed him, not even when he was dying. He's never looked at her with anything but love, and it steals the breath from her chest as she meets his gaze. "Doctor."

"Did you really think I'd accept that, River?"

"You don't have a choice." She points out and she feels eerily calm, as though she is not here. She is elsewhere – above or below or outside of them, watching the scene unfold.

"Tell me." He strides into the cell, his frame taut with anger, and his eyes spitting at her and she feels like it may actually burn – the weight of his gaze skating over her with clear contempt. "Explain to my how you could tell Rory no. No to rescuing his wife and child, River. A child Amy was just forced to give birth to in captivity. Surely you of all people would know what that means – though perhaps not. After all she was kidnapped and you're here because of what you've done, and between you and me I just can't quite picture you with a maternal bone in your-"

She slaps him so hard her hand aches. A hand that has just spent the better part of a day touching, holding or caressing some part of him and she feels like there is a crack in her chest as she stares at him, tears on her face. His skin is so white the handprint stands out – red and livid. "Quite fond of that, aren't you River? I get punished for things I didn't do, things I haven't even done yet – and through it all I still trust you. Trust that I will understand. One day. The future." He spits the word out like it is acid in his mouth and she trembles in front of him, shocked and appalled that she's hit him in the first place. She can't – she would never- she'd promised herself after Berlin, she would never harm him again. Her hearts race and she feels sick. "But this? Amy, River – how can you expect me to understand this?"

His mask cracks for one moment, and there is nothing but raw pain seething underneath it but she welcomes any expression on his face. This cold demeanour is unnatural. "I don't." She finally answers him in a low tone and he stares at her in disbelief. "I don't expect you to understand, because you can't. And you won't. But you will. One day you will understand and you are going to hate yourself for everything you are doing right now. Please. Please, just go." She whispers the words, stumbling back until her back hits the concrete wall and he watches her, the mask back in place.

And he smiles.

And it is something she'd gladly never see again because his smile is like the winter, deep and cold and untouched, and yet – god damn him because it still makes her hearts flutter in her chest – like a million birds wings beating a rapid tattoo. She still loves him, even now, when he is looking at her like she is a stranger, or worse, an enemy. "Please." She tries once more and he walks up to her, shaking his head and smirking.

"Oh no, come on now River. Don't be like that – I love you, right? Isn't that what you were saying? He loves you." He laughs and the sound is anything but funny, it is deep and twisted and nothing like her Doctor's laugh. "Do I, River? Do I love you? Forgive me if I find that a bit hard to believe. But ah well, time can be rewritten can't it?"

Her hearts twist in her chest and all the birds' wings stop and still and there is no sound except her harsh breathing – how is she still doing that? – and the mocking echo of his words as they reverberate off the concrete around them. She can't argue with him. She has no explanation to offer because he's not meant to know it yet. I love you. So, so much - and always. You have to remember that, River.

Oh the absolute bastard, she thinks, because he knew. He knew. "Yes," she finally speaks, her voice a tiny whisper between them, a fragile sound but she refuses to break in front of him any more than she already has. "It can." Somehow she drags the strength up from somewhere within herself, and meets his gaze head on. The same face that not a half hour ago had looked at her with such love and devotion. "But that's not up to me, and it never has been. It's always been your choice, my love." She calls him that on purpose, because it is a reminder – for both of them. No matter how he is acting now, he loves her. He is hurt, and worried about her mother, and truthfully, River's hearts ache at the thought of it all happening right now too. All of time is of course, always happening. But it seems far more real with her father on her doorstep begging for help and her husband who doesn't even know that's what he is; standing in front of her hurling words like well aimed shuriken. And he calls her his assassin.

"My choice?" He laughs, a hollow sound as he steps closer until there is barely three inches between them. His hand reaches up, and he places a single finger at the hollow of her throat, dragging is slowly down her sternum until her reaches the lapels of her jacket. "I've never had a choice, River. When was I given one? They told me, you know. Not to trust you – you'd killed a good man. I didn't listen, and I suppose that's my own stupid fault. I thought-" His voice broke then, and she could see a film of tears in his eyes as he glared at her. "You lied to me."

Her chin tilts up defiantly at that and she shakes the sling off with an arched brow, because she can't do anything else. If she stops – she will break, right here, right now – in front of him. "I lie. All the time. So do you." Anger flashes across his face for one moment and his hand grips the silk lapel of her jacket, his fingers brushing against the swell of her breast as he does so and her hearts hammer in her chest.

"Not like this! I don't lie and mislead and deliberately let people suffer-"

"Oh please." She scoffs and looks at him expectantly. "Do you think I'm some young thing that's just met you Doctor? Some pretty young Companion who tripped through your TARDIS doors and stood in awe of the great and wonderful Doctor?" He flinches and she leans forward until his knuckles are biting into her skin and her chest pins his hand between them. "I'm not the one that put her in danger." Her hearts ache at the thought of her mother – alone and scared, and so filled with faith that her father and the Doctor will save her. And she knows – they do. But there's a cost, and she's the one who paid it, so she feels like she has a right to be angry. She's never blamed him for this. But in the face of his coldness, her only defence is her anger.

His face contorts and his grip tightens. Suddenly he pulls back, his hand jerking her jacket open and buttons scatter and ping across the cement floor, incredibly loud. She doesn't move to cover herself though, her chest is heaving with anger and her corset is coverage enough. "I tried to protect her!" He shouts the words at her, pressing in closer until she is back against the wall, concrete biting into her back and him pressed against her front and she thinks that he isn't even aware of what he'd just done. "She was stolen." His hands plunge into her hair, twisting it painfully out of the pins and she winces, but refuses to look away. His tears have fallen now, ghosting across his cheeks and her anger leaves her as she breaths out, because she knows this is killing him. "They took her – why would they take her?"

She licks her lips, because of course she knows, and he knows she knows, but she cannot say anything,

"Answer me." His grip tightens and she looks at him steadily, shaking her head. "Say it, River. Say it."

"Spoilers." She finally whispers the word she's only ever heard him say to her, and his whole face contorts with pain, chased by anger.

"Always with the bloody spoilers." He bites the words out right before he kisses her. This is not gentle; it is not the brush of his lips over hers, or even the playful biting they indulged in at times. This is him punishing her for not being able to speak. It is lips pressed against teeth as she struggles for a brief moment – a reactionary moment. What is she doing? She forces her body to relax under his, forces her mouth to open and ease under his onslaught. His hands push through her hair in frustration, scattering pins to the floor, and her hat hits the ground not far behind them.

Her hands are gentle where his are not, and she smoothes them over his chest. I love him. I love him. I love him. He doesn't know. None of this seems to help, so instead she pictures Berlin. She pictures him dying in front of her and trying to rescue her with his last breath. Her arms wrap around him and she opens her mouth fully at that, swallowing his anger and taking it for her own.

She can do this.

She can be this for him – she cannot tell him what he wants but she can soothe this in the only way he will let her. She moans as he bites at her lip, hard, but not hard enough to break the skin – even now, she senses him holding back. He hands disentangle from her hair, and he presses them against the sides of her neck as he pulls his mouth from hers. He is still crying, and his chest is heaving. She looks up at him in a daze and he shakes his head, his hands sliding down to grip her shoulders tightly. "Why, River? Why must you – fight me, dammit. Why won't you hate me?"

"Because I can't." Her own voice is broken and he lets her go suddenly, stepping back and running his hands through his own hair in agitation. "I can't ever."

"Then love me." He whirls suddenly, his eyes pleading with hers. "Love me and help me rescue her. I love her, River – she is my best friend, and she was a little girl and I – you have to help me."

"I can't." She whispers once more, her voice breaking finally as she sank back onto the wall, clinging to its support. "I just can't."

"Why not? What could possibly keep you from helping? What River?" She can only shake her head in response and he pulls at his hair in frustration, stepping back and turning to face the bars of her cell. He grips them tightly in his hands and she can hear his harsh breaths, in and out, in and out, in and out. She times her own with his.

"I'm sorry." She finally offers up the weak words and he turns to her, looking her over with no emotions whatsoever.

"No." He spoke finally, standing straighter. "I thought you knew me – I thought – I thought that you loved me. You're not sorry. But you will be," he steps out of the cell without looking back at her, pulling out his sonic and pointing it at the locking mechanism, causing the bars of her cell to rise and she cries, not because she is trapped, but because of the look on his face as he does it. "You won't see me again." He flinches for a moment and smiles slightly. "Do you think you'll feel it? All those memories erasing?"

She chokes back a sob and presses a shaking hand to her mouth.

"Goodbye, River."

As soon as he is out of sight, she sinks to the floor, her skirts pooling around her as her sobs echo around her. She cries until she has no tears left to weep and she hates him, and oh she loves him because as much as that hurt, she knew. He'd find out who she was. And everything would change.

Every time he's spoken to her of Demon's Run – it has been with guilt, and shame and pain. She always assumed it was because of what happened there. She was stolen. He failed her parents. They all lost her. But now she wonders – if all that guilt and pain – if all of it was for this.

When she can finally breathe properly again, her first thought is that it's a wonder she hasn't passed out, what with this corset on. She yanks the jacket off, and flings it away from her, and she picks up her diary from the floor next to her and crawls over to her bookshelf, grabbing a pencil before she huddles between it and the wall and she starts to write furiously. She is tucked away here, and she is glad for it, because even though she feels wrung out and empty, she still cries as she writes it all out in a shaking hand.

Visiting her parents.


Dancing on ice with her astonishingly clumsy husband.

A singer out of time.

His hands – oh so gentle – pre-emptively apologetic as he strokes and touches her. She is always vague for these parts, because her memory is long, and perfect – and she trusts she will never forget those moments. And they are for her and him alone.

She cries as she writes out the encounter with her father, and she cries harder as she scrawls out the painful words between her and the Doctor afterward.

Even in this, she is charitable, because she writes over and over again in heavy charcoal, one sentence again and again. He doesn't know. And just like he loved her while she killed him, she thinks – she can love him through this too.

But it hurts.

A noise echoes up the hall and she stills, shrinking back into the corner. She wants to disappear. But she can't and she closes her diary as she hears steps approach her cell. "River," his voice is soft, and filled with pain.

She closes her eyes, and debates for one moment – ignoring him. But then she thinks of the first time she saw him – after Berlin. Or any time since then. He'd not once blamed her for killing him – for everything that had happened that day. So instead she sighs, and she stands slowly, edging her way into the light and he gasps, his face clouded with pain and his hands clutching the bars. "Hello, sweetie."

She speaks in a soft voice, without any of the normal flirtatiousness and he flinches, his hands gripping the bars tighter. "Oh god."

"When are we for you?" She asks, making an attempt at being breezy, and he shakes his head, because she knows. Same shirt – same bowtie, and normally none of that is enough to say anything in particular, since he wore the same combinations over and over again, but the guilt and pain and underlying joy beneath it all told her exactly when he is.

"River, I am – oh god – I am so sorry."

"Open the doors sweetie." She speaks calmly and he startles, pulling out his sonic and waving it blindly at the doors, and the security panel on the wall behind him which sparks and hisses, and kills the security lights lining the hall. "Come here." Her voice is eerily calm, and he sidles into the cell, his frame hunched low like a puppy with its tail between its legs. When he is standing in front of her she looks at him, waiting for him to meet her gaze. After a moment, the silence is killing him, and he risks a glance up.

"I'm sorry." He whispers the words like he knows they are a tiny bandage on a gaping wound. She steps into him, sliding her hands along his jaw and tilting his head back.

"Don't you everever," she stresses, tears filling her eyes once again, "ever say goodbye to me again."

He shakes his head quickly. "No I wouldn't – not ever." His whisper is fevered and his hands shake as he places them gently on her shoulders. "I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry. I didn't – there's no – I shouldn't have-"

"Shhh," she soothes him and pulls him into her arms with ease, wrapping hers around his waist and pressing them into his back as she buries her face by his neck.

"I'm so sorry, River." She can feel his whisper in her hair, stirring the curls. She knows he is apologizing for so many things. What happened here earlier. Losing her at that base. Her mother, her father.

"Hush now," she smoothes a palm against his back and sways side to side – just like earlier – twenty hours ago and centuries ahead for him. He is just so damn young, and she doesn't quite know what to do with him.

"I hurt you. Oh god, I hurt you." He sounds horrified and she shakes her head, pulling back to look up at him. She sighs, before taking his hand and tugging him over to her bed, where she sits, emotionally exhausted and yet – and yet she cannot be, because she cannot refuse to help him fix this.

"Doctor," she speaks softly, tugging him down beside her and he sits next to her, brushing a hand over her wild hair, over her shoulders. His fingers ghost along her jaw and his thumb just brushes against her lips. "The words hurt more." She confesses softly and he draws in a breath and holds it. "One day, sooner than you think, you are going to have to face a version of me that – that-"

"Hates me." He finishes for her, and she looks away, uncomfortable. "I deserve it, River. I do."

"No, you don't." She insists in a soft voice. She exhales harshly and looks at him finally. "You didn't know. You had no way of knowing that she was pregnant. That she was in danger. That I was at risk."

"Do I find you? Do I fix this?" He breathes the questions out and she licks her lips, looking at him.

"I can't tell you that." He sighs, but in light of everything that has transpired between them tonight, he nods.

"I know." He agrees, and she laces a hand through his. He turns their palms over until his is underneath and hers is on top, and he traces the bones in her hand gently. "I lied earlier."

"You were hurt." She points out evenly and he nods, but he looks up at her.

"I told you I didn't love you. That was a lie, River. I was angry, so angry – but even then I – I loved you." He frowns and lifts their entwined hands, pressing a soft kiss against hers. "It's no excuse for the things I said-"

"I'm sorry too." She whispers, looking over at him. "I said some-"

"Don't you dare apologize, River Song. You defended yourself. You had every right. I was – I was the very opposite of a good man this night." She pulls on his hand, tugging him back with her until they are lying on her cot, facing each other. She lets go of his hand, to push hers through his hair as she shushes him.

"I'll tell you a secret Doctor." She whispers the words, leaning forward. "I'm not the best person either. And I've seen the very worst of you, and the very, very best. I know you're not a good man." He looks up at that, his eyes startled and open wide. "You're just a man." She edges closer to him, and he wraps his arms around her, pulling her even closer. "But you're the man I chose to love."

Her hand strokes his face and he shakes his head. "I don't deserve-"

"Oh if we all got what we deserved, my love, lord only knows where I'd be. I've done some horrifying things, Doctor."

"I'd forgive you." He whispers the words into her hair, "I'd forgive you anything."

"As I do you, sweetie – so please, stop this apologizing. And start making up for it." She smiles tentatively and he looks down at her in surprise.

When he kisses her this time, he is oh so gentle. His fingers comb through her hair, but they rub and stroke along her scalp as his lips press gently against hers. She opens her mouth under his easily, and strokes her tongue against his lower lip as she hums. His mouth opens and then his tongue slides along hers, his hands still tangled in her hair as she presses herself against him. He kisses her like he is discovering a new form of prayer, and his hands leave her hair finally to slide down over her body in worship.

She whimpers at that, and he pulls back, pressing soft kisses along her throat, down the side of her neck, across her shoulders and clavicle. He shifts his body lower and he presses a kiss to the top of her breasts. "May I?" He whispers with his fingers on the laces at the back of her corset and she moans, rolling into him.

"God, please." She pleads and he makes quick work of the laces, pulling and yanking them out until the corset falls from her body and she gasps in a deep breath of air – the first one in ages. His fingers trace the red lines left along her back by the boning, and she rolls back with a happy sigh.

His hand smoothes up along the toned skin of her stomach, before sliding up over her breast, cupping it in his hand as he looks her over. He leans forward and kisses her softly, right between her two breasts, and then he turns his head and presses an ear to her sternum. She lets him, running her hands through his hair and she lies back fully. "Two hearts." He whispers the words, lifting his head to look up at her in awe. She almost wants to weep at the sight – because that – that is her Doctor's face.

"All yours." She agrees and he shakes his head, pressing a kiss over one and then the other.


"Because not loving you was never an option sweetie. You'll see." She lifts his face to hers and kisses him then, sliding her tongue in so she can lick at the roof of his mouth, tug his lower lip between her teeth and snog him senseless. Her hands tug at his bowtie, shove his jacket from his shoulders and undo his buttons with practised ease. She has to constantly remind herself – he is young, he is young, he is young. But she just needs his skin next to hers, his hearts over hers. She needs that, and he needs to give it to her.

He's not arguing, regardless and they both sigh as his skin brushes against hers and she pulls him in tightly, until they are properly aligned. They rest for a moment then, her hands on his back, still covered in the cotton of his shirt she'd been too impatient to remove. He grips her waist, and presses his face into her neck, his eyes closed. "I'm sorry." He whispers the words one more time and she sighs beneath him.

"Stop it." She scolds, her hands roaming across his back. "We've never done this for you before, yeah?"

"No." He admits, but she feels him press a kiss to the skin of her throat. "I like it though. I've not done anything like this – not with – not in this body."

"It's okay." She soothes, her eyes closing and her palms pressing him closer. She hears the rustle of silk and her eyes pop open to see him inching her skirts and petticoats up, bit by bit. "Doctor."

"Shhh. You can't sleep in these." He points out with a smile, propping himself up on one elbow to look down at her, that same expression of awe returning. "You are amazing." He breathes the words out before shifting downward and unlacing her boots. He eases them off, and reaches under her skirts to roll down her stockings as well. She wiggles her toes when he's done and he laughs at that and she smiles, finally feeling something between them ease, ever so slightly as she giggles.

He kicks his own shoes off eagerly and haphazardly, they fly helter-skelter across her cell as she laughs. "You are such a child."

"You love it." He shoots back and she sits up, taking his hands and looking at him seriously. She strokes a hand along his face and smiles.

"I do."

"Mutual." He breathes the word out and leans up to kiss her, his hands fumbling behind her for the ties of her skirt and petticoat. "Please tell me you don't have pantaloons on." He mumbles against her mouth and she laughs out loud.

"Some things I won't do, even for you sweetie."

"Did I take you somewhere nice?" He asks as his hands tug her skirts down and she nods, lying back and lifting her hips to assist him. His eyes widen once he gets them past her hips. "River! You're not wearing any knickers!"

"Well they weren't period appropriate, darling. And you tend to prefer... ease of access." His eyes darken at that and she smiles, kicking her skirts the rest of the way off, until they land in a heap at the foot of her cot. "Jealous?"

"Of myself? Ridiculous." He scoffs, and leans over her, kissing the tip of one breast, his tongue swirling around the nipple before he tugs it into his mouth, sucking hard enough that she gasps, her hands clenching in his hair. He releases her with another kiss, and he grins up at her. "Mightily looking forward to it though. I'll remember that."

"Come to think of it – you did." She laughs as his hand eases between her thighs, stroking along the warmth and wetness he finds there. He presses kisses across her stomach, his tongue dipping into her belly button as she squirms, and he slides a finger inside of her with ease. "Oh," she breathes out. She could feel his smile, pressed into the skin by her hip.

"Gorgeous," he mumbles against her skin as he eases another finger in, and then out, as his thumb slips through the slick folds in search of her-

"Oh, god!" She shoots up as he reaches his goal, his thumb pressing against her clit as his fingers curl within her, just so. She reaches for him, scrambling away from his ridiculously talented hands – because seriously – his first time and she knows he's been around the block but it feels like he knows her body, and then she stops, mid-way through unbuttoning his trousers and looks up in shock. "You cheat!" She smacks his shoulder and yanks his trousers down until he can kick them off.

"What did I do?" He pulls her up against him, rolling her back underneath him and she can feel the hot length of him nestled into the hollow of her hip as he kisses her before she can answer.

She reaches up, brushing fingers against his temples and slips into his mind with ease as her tongue wraps around his. You know. He gasps in her mouth and pulls back, his eyes wide and dark. "Cheater." She repeats and he grins so widely it almost splits his face.

"So, let's see," He presses a kiss to her neck and his hand slips between them, stroking her gently, light teasing sweeps that end with a flick or a pinch across her clit and she rolls his hips under him. "Two hearts – you can regenerate. No telling how old you are – well, I could cheat, but I won't." He grins and she laughs breathlessly, her hands clutching his shoulders. "Telepathy. And I know you're just as smart as I am, you clever, clever girl." His hand dances across her sensitized flesh and she moans, her head thrown back and her back arched, and he bends his head to lick at the underside of her breast, removing his hand from between them before he bites down gently. "Just how much Timelord is in you, River Song?"

She grins at that – but indulges him his bad pun as she all but purrs, "Oh not nearly enough at the moment, sweetie. Let's fix that, shall we?" And she slides her hips left, wrapping a leg around his waist as she pulls him closer, until he slides within her and they both hiss in satisfaction. "There we are – just the right amount of Timelord, now." She teases him and he chuckles, thrusting his hips forward to propel himself deeper. Her breasts brush against his chest and she fists her hands in the fabric of his shirt, wrapping her other leg around his waist.

"Oh, River," he breathes the words out, dropping a soft kiss to her lips, all open mouths and teeth and tongues. His hand runs along one of her thighs, slipping underneath and hooking her leg over his arm. She moans at the deeper angle and she lets go of his shirt, hitching her leg even higher until it rests over his shoulder. He turns his face, pressing a soft kiss to her knee just as he withdraws and his hips snap forward, even deeper this time.

"More." She pants the word out, and he lifts her other leg until she is simply pinned beneath him, bent in half, and he reaches so deep within her that she gasps in shock at the almost pain of it all.

"Okay?" He breathes the question out on a strained breath, and she nods frantically.

"Keep going, please." She pleads in a short breathy tone and he looks down at her, hair in his face as he thrusts, his pace getting faster and faster. Something within her eases and loosens and suddenly it's not too far or too uncomfortable, but rather like he is filling her up just right and she moans, her hands grasping for his hips ineffectually as he moves faster and faster. "Doctor." She gasps his name on a strangled breath, and it only makes him move quicker and quicker, each stroke building and building and the position is such that she feels like she is just on the crest of orgasm for ages, just waiting for something – anything, dancing along the edge over and over again. His hips pump faster and faster, and finally he grips her hips, driving up with each thrust but also moving his hips forward, grinding against her clit as he forces himself in that much deeper. She comes with a scream that is torn from her throat along with his name, and her nails biting into his sides as he follows right behind her. Her legs slip down as he collapses on top of her, and his face, damp with sweat, presses into her neck as she still trembles from the aftershocks of her orgasm beneath him.

After a few moments, he presses a kiss to her shoulder, easing himself up and to her right, to lie beside her, his face still tucked into the hollow of her neck. She turns her face and kisses him, soft and sweet, her hand weaving through his hair. "I love you." He sighs the words out, snuggling into her and she reaches down to tug the blankets over them. She is exhausted, the emotional turmoil of the day finally taking its toll. "I'm never going to not trust you again." He whispers those words so low and she wants to clutch at him, tell him no – he should not trust her sometimes. Once she's the young one.

But she doesn't say anything at all, because she already knows that it happened the way it was supposed to. If she hadn't killed him, she wouldn't be River. She would still be Melody – his bespoke psychopath. Their lives are like an intricate tapestry, she thinks as she pulls him closer and presses a kiss to his forehead. So complexly woven, but if they pulled just one string in the wrong direction, the entirety could unravel. She isn't about to start pulling strings.

And she'll make sure he never does either.