I still feel way too many things.
How long will I be putting out these oneshots? I don't know.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or anything associated with it. All rights to Doctor Who and affiliated products belong to the BBC and the other proper entities.
Summary: She likes that word.
She likes that word.
It's like a promise, the way he says it. That there's more to come. She never knows which part of the Doctor's timestream comes to her every few days, but she's learning to distinguish—if only by the number of times he says the word.
She likes to push, likes to try to make him spill the beans, even though she knows that he wont (and is perfectly okay with it)—it's kind of like a game they play. She likes getting older versions of the Doctor best because—even though she doesn't have nearly as much experience with him as he does with her, he uses that word a lot. A promise of things to come, of a future with him. A future where she doesn't rot in prison all the time, where she gets to experience the Universe. With him.
"So, tell me." River is draped across the Captain's Seat in the TARDIS, practically glowing despite the dark denim she's dressed in. He'd just taken her to see her favourite film—on opening night. "Do I ever get to fly her again?"
"Spoilers." The Doctor laughs, which River takes to mean 'yes'. A promise. One day she will fly the TARDIS.
She climbs to her feet and rests her hands on the edge of the console, peering at him around the equipment. "Then you'd better teach me." She grins. "She can only show me so much."
The Doctor laughs and points out one of the panels. "You see this lot here?" She comes around to stand at his side. "This lever is the brakes. And these buttons? This blue one? That's the stabilizers."
She sees older Doctors less and less. She starts meeting even younger versions—versions that don't know her identity, versions that don't completely trust her. She starts saying the word more, herself. She's okay with that. She knew it was coming. The Doctor—her Doctor—had hinted that it was coming. She knows exactly when he finds out who she is and knows that he wont fully trust her before then.
She watches him grit his teeth every time she says it. At first it was fun. She was getting versions of the Doctor that—at least—liked her. But, as time goes on and the Doctor gets younger and younger, she can see him progress from learning to accept it with gleeful anticipation to coming to loathe and despise the word.
Of course, she knows the reverse is true. She knows that she's just building the foundation of his later acceptance and excitement over the word (as well as her own). But… it still feels like he's getting less and less accepting of it. Of her.
When he appears with a new (old) face, she knows she's in uncharted territory.
The first three times she meets him with that face, he knows her name. That's it. Just her name. And there's pain in his eyes every time he looks at her. He tries not to speak to her if he can avoid it.
She suspects. Something is wrong.
When her Doctor takes her to Darillium, and she sees that same pain in his eyes—different and yet the same—she begins to worry. What is going on? What is she heading for?
And then he appears for a fourth time—and doesn't know who she is. And she thinks that she maybe understands.
"What's in the book?" He asks, glaring at it suspiciously.
"Spoilers." She says flatly.
He raises his eyes to her. "Who are you?" He asks again.
"Professor River Song, University of—"
"To me." He presses. "Who are you to me?"
"Again," she sighs, "spoilers."
Of course, it never was just that she was headed for their first meeting in his timeline. As she cuffs the Doctor and fiddles with the wiring, she realises she should have known. His firsts with her always caused her pain. She had told her father that she thought their first meeting was going to kill her. She'd just never realised that it was going to be in the literal sense.
Her Doctor had tried to pretend that they would be forever. And maybe they are, in some kind of paradoxical way. This younger Doctor will go on to meet her younger self, and the cycle will begin again. He will become the Doctor that saw her to her doorstep a few days ago, who cried as they made love and who had—uncharacteristically—insisted that he stay the night. Who had left her in the morning with one of his rare "I love you"s and a lingering kiss.
Even knowing this, knowing that he's known all along, she wouldn't sacrifice their time together for the entire Universe.
"River, you know my name. You whispered my name in my ear." The Doctor's voice was edged with desperation, his dark eyes filled with indescribable fear. "There's only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There's only one time I could."
"Hush, now." She breathes, trying to hang onto the face of her Doctor in her mind's eye. Trying to hang onto the expression on his face when he picked her up for their honeymoon, the bright smile, the obvious appreciation. The Doctor that took her to Darillium that last night, so sad and yet pleased to have one more night with her before it was all over. His silly tweed jacket. His ridiculous bow ties. This Doctor will become that, but he's not yet. And he has to become that. Has to."Spoilers…"
She hates that word.
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