"I can't really explain it, River, it's just lovely, it's the closest thing a human language - it's Greek, you know - has to describe the way Time Lords see the universe. All 'transcendent' and 'higher' and 'beyond' and oh, just lovely." River smiled at the Doctor indulgently; he got so excited over the silliest things, and she loved him for it. "It's... it's so meta," he continued, oblivious to her amusement. Oblivious to everything, really, thought River affectionately. He was even more scattered than usual, but since he had finally come with her to a dig, and he wasn't making fun of her or even of archaeology in general, she figured she could put up with it. And as the dig was on Earth itself, here in Greece, she supposed his evident love for the prefix meta- was at least tangentially connected to the task at hand.

Most of the archaeology students at Luna University considered Earth herself to be a bit passé, and that not in the strictly historical sense. But then they were usually from 52nd century Earth, and River understood the tendency to view Earth as digging in one's own garden. But she didn't feel it, not as she was, born at Demon's Run, brought up (if one could call it that) all over space and time. She viewed Earth's ancient ruins as enormously fascinating, especially since her primary field of study was the man who stood fidgeting before her, and the people of Earth were his favourites so he had been here - and left his mark - fairly often. So for her final project of her first year at university she'd done deep scans of the old sites, the ones everyone else assumed had no secrets left, and here in Sparta she'd found something. She wasn't sure what it was yet, but there was something down here, lower than where the previous excavations had ended. 'Down here' was a big space too, but not big enough for the TARDIS. Besides, she reflected, taking the TARDIS down here would've seemed like cheating. She didn't mind cheating in some things, in fact she quite enjoyed it, but not in her chosen profession.

And so she let him babble about the wonders of Greek prefixes, without so much as a oh hush, Sweetie, while she puttered in the dirt with the sonic extractor, gently unearthing this something from under a ledge. She didn't seem to hear when he stopped talking, which he did just so he could look at her, because she was focused on the - was it a tablet? - and was humming under her breath as she worked. He watched her fondly. Fondly, he thought, another good word, and who'd have ever thought I'd think of her fondly? But he did, and with a fondness that was different from that he felt for his other friends. This fondness he felt in his hearts, and low in his abdomen, as well as with his brain, and he wished they could stay like this forever, even with the silly archaeology (because she loved it so much), just so he could be with her... and even his thoughts trailed off as she looked up and smiled that brilliant smile at him and his knees went wibbly for a moment. Fondly, indeed. Rather more than 'fondly', Time Lord...

He cleared his throat. "What've you got there, Miss Song?" It was the only reasonable thing he could think of to say, when he really wanted to do was witter on about how sort of adorable the streak of dirt along one of her cheekbones was, or how much he wanted to tug gently on that errant corkscrewing curl over her forehead, the one she kept pursing her lips to blow out of her face before it flopped back down again. He crouched down next to her (once his knees' wibbliness had abated somewhat) and looked more closely at the... yes, it was a stone tablet, half extracted from the wall in which it had been embedded. But those characters on it weren't Greek, they weren't Sanskrit, what were they? His eyes widened as he realised... they were ancient Silurian. "Um... River? These are not from a human civilisation..." he started, reaching to grasp the tablet, but as he did so, it slid smoothly out of the wall and the slot where it had been began to glow an unhealthy reddish-orange color, and then the light began to pulse. He only had time to shout, "River, duck!" and throw himself over her, half under the little ledge, before the stone shards spit out of the ceiling down upon them both.

The Doctor lay protectively half over River until the shaking stopped, when he cautiously sat up, then hissed at the terrible pain in one leg and lay down again, half on top of River, who... River! Oh, no no no no no no... not your time! Are you alright? "River?" He turned onto one hip, gritting his teeth and avoiding looking at his injured leg. He really didn't want to know. He talked himself through checking River over, muttering, "Okay, pulse is good, breathing, that's good, ooooh... nasty knock on the head that one is... River, wake up, please. River?" He leaned over her, ignoring the shooting pains in his leg and the wibbly-wobbly weakness he felt behind his eyes, and very gently kissed the purply-black bruise on her forehead. He nearly sobbed aloud with relief when she stirred; he'd been terrified that she wouldn't wake up and he needed... he was going to... the world went grey and indistinct for a moment and he gritted his teeth again, saying faintly, "River?" He tried one more time. "River, I need your help."

And then he slumped, unconscious, across her body.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

"Madame," said the young woman, "Madame, I need your help."

Madame Vastra didn't look up from the astrolabe and the map where she was making notations in her precise lettering. "Yes, Jenny? Is there a problem?"

"Well..." said Jenny doubtfully, "It's here. The box, I mean. It's in the back garden. And the door is shut and locked. And he... he hasn't come out of it."

Madame Vastra finally looked up and sighed. "I suppose we'd best go see what he wants then, hadn't we?" she said resignedly, and rose from her chair. "Although we don't owe him anything any longer... not after Demon's Run." And she led the way into the back garden, noting with disapproval that the TARDIS hadn't landed on a path, but instead in the middle of a flowerbed. Mammals! she thought, always so hapless... The door opened as she approached, and she looked in. There was nobody there, not the Doctor nor any of his mammalian companions. She walked over to the central console and looked up at the screen, which showed the Human city called Sparta, which she knew was on the surface above the Silurian ruins of SclesSsserelsSerais. But not the Doctor himself, she mused, interesting. There was no help for it. She sighed and called for Jenny. Clearly a rescue was in order, and the TARDIS had come to her for help. She rather liked the TARDIS, so she would do as it asked. This time.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

"You love her." River heard the words dimly, as if they were being filtered through water, but she couldn't be bothered to strain for clarity; her head hurt badly and she felt so heavy. "I mean," continued the voice, "it's more than the constant heat you mammals feel for each other; she is your life mate, even as the TARDIS is."

"Vastra," said the Doctor's voice, very seriously, and he sounded so tired, "I speak over five billion languages, and I have yet to find one that contains the words to describe how I feel about River Song. Not in any human language, nor Silurian, nor Gallifreyan. She's... indescribable." There was a pause, and River was able to feel a touch on her hand and wrist as the heaviness abated somewhat (though the headache was still pounding). The touch was cool, cooler than the Doctor's, and vaguely rough-textured. "What is it?" she heard the Doctor say, "Is she alright?" The touch was replaced by his more familiar one, and he said, "Oh! I see, yes, she's coming around. You'd be a spoiler, wouldn't you, after... well... where we've been and she hasn't yet." He sighed. "Thank you, Vastra, for everything. My turn to owe you one, eh?" River heard a chuckle and the sound of the TARDIS' outside door slamming shut, and she opened her eyes to find him staring intently at her.

"Hello, Sweetie."

"Hello, my marvelous River Song."

"I thought..." she yawned, "I was indescribable. I rather like 'marvelous' though." She struggled to sit up in spite of the splitting headache, and she noted that he looked as tired as his voice had sounded. "Oh!" she exclaimed, dismayed, "Oh, my poor love... what happened to your leg?"

"Hmph," he harrumphed grumpily, "Archaeology. That's what happened to it. It's fine now, River, don't fret. Just a little blood loss, nothing serious, not like your-" he broke off, suddenly choked up at the thought he hadn't let himself think for the past day while she'd been unconscious. "Oh, River," he whispered, and pressed his lips gently against the bruise on her forehead, "I thought... and it wasn't your..." he took a deep breath and pulled back to look at her. "I'm sorry. Spoilers." He tried to smile at her and failed miserably as his lower lip trembled. She reached up and placed one forefinger against his mouth, stilling the tremor, and then - never taking her eyes off his - she slid her hand around the back of his neck and pulled his face down to hers.

The kiss was sweet to begin with, hesitant and gently exploring, but it swiftly grew more intense. When River whimpered, moaning into the Doctor's mouth, he shuddered and wrapped his arms tightly around her, breaking the kiss and whispering into her hair, "I wish I had the words, River, the words to tell you..." but he quieted as she renewed the kiss, wrapping her limbs around him as though to trap him there.

"Show me," she murmured against his lips, stroking his body with her own.

"River, it's not about that..."

"I know," she said, still moving against him, driving him mad with wanting her, "but sometimes it aids in communication. Show me."

And she arched up against him, pulling him down with her, into that space of minds and hearts and bodies together... and they showed each other without words.