Well, I began writing this back when it actually was Halloween, but it sort of got away from me and I've only just finished it. I think I've set this in some sort of time either before River 'kills' the Doctor, or after she gets out of prison, maybe when she's at university, I'm not entirely sure... It starts off a little glum, but gets a lot brighter, I promise! I hope you like it, and please review! Comments, whether praise or constructive criticism, always make my day. :D
Disclaimer – I don't own Doctor Who. I mean, do I *look* genius enough?
The Witching Hour
Reaching up to inch the thermostat dial slightly to one side, River pulled her long cardigan closer around her and sighed. She stared at the thermostat, the tiny black numbers on off-white plastic, and realised with a jolt of discontent how domestic that one small action was. Turning the heating up. Since when did River Song, trained assassin and rebellious heroine, do something as simple and mundane as turning the heating up? She glanced around her ground-floor flat, and almost felt the urge to laugh at herself. Because if she didn't laugh, she'd cry. And if there was one thing River knew for sure, it was that if she started crying now, she wouldn't stop.
It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the flat, or anything wrong with her life now, per se. At least, from the perspective of any other ordinary human being. But that was the thing. She wasn't just any other ordinary human being. She'd travelled the universe, watched stars explode, danced on faraway planets and slept whilst travelling through the time vortex. She had experienced a million lifetimes, felt a million emotions, seen a million galaxies and planets and stars. She had breathed different air, walked on different ground, looked up at foreign skies. And this... This wasn't any of that. This was just life: boring and mundane and just about as exciting as a slime-rock on the planet Clom.
Letting out another long sigh, River dropped her gaze from the thermostat and wandered towards the front window. She was yet to close the curtains, and the small lamp sitting on a table at the far end of the room didn't throw enough light to create a reflection in the glass that would prevent her from seeing the night outside. She crossed her arms over her chest and leant sideways against the frame, her breath misting up the glass slightly as she looked out into the night.
She was never sure how she felt about this time of the year. Halloween was a night of stories and legends; a night of dressing up as monsters, of eating sweets and chocolate and bobbing for apples. The way so many people participated in so many quaint traditions on just this one night brought a small smile to her face, but the smile was pensive and restrained too. Because when you were somebody who had lived those stories and legends, and fought real monsters, it was hard to find any joy in recreating them.
The glow of the city and fragmented cloud-cover overhead meant that not many stars were visible, but the moon was clear for River to see – a huge, smiling white orb against a blanket of velvet blackness. An array of pumpkins lined the doorsteps of the street, some glowering, some winking, and some smiling eerily at no visible enemy. It was too late now for there to be any children or teenagers trawling the streets, candy bags and broomsticks in hand. She turned slightly to look at the clock on the wall, its steady tick-tick-tick the only sound preventing total silence, to see the hands approaching midnight. The witching hour.
River sighed again, something she seemed to be doing a lot of late, and crossed over the room into the kitchen. As she opened the fridge, a warm light flooded across the tiled floor and she bent down to retrieve the half-empty bottle of wine from the middle shelf. Pulling a glass towards her, she unscrewed the top and watched as the red liquid sloshed into the glass, filling it up nearly to the rim.
So this was her life now. Late nights reading and drinking wine, wondering when she was going to hear the familiar vworp-vworp of the TARDIS again. The last time she had seen the Doctor had been exactly sixty-three days, four hours and twenty-two minutes ago, and it always surprised her how missing him never ceased to be like an almost physical ache, right in the core of her bones. Last time, he had turned up and whisked her away for an evening on Micandeo – the home-planet of a proud race who built everythingfrom diamonds, so that every building and pavement for miles and miles glittered and dazzled, in the sun during the day, and in the moonlight at night-time. She smiled at the memory.
It was then that a knock at the door almost made her drop the bottle in her hand. Jumping slightly, River placed it back in the fridge and made her way to the front door, leaving the glass of wine on the kitchen countertop.
She undid the catch and pulled the door open halfway, one hand on the door, the other on the frame. As soon as she saw who was currently occupying her doorstep, the small smile turned into a cruel smirk and her eyes got that look into them that made it hard for whoever she was talking to to determine whether she was joking or not.
"You know this isn't the sort of hour one goes trick-or-treating, my love," she said, her voice its usual charming, teasing drawl. "What are you meant to be dressed as, anyway?"
The Doctor frowned, glancing down at himself. He was in his usual attire, or at least, he had thought he was. Boots, check. Trousers, check. Shirt, check. Braces, check. Bowtie (cool), check. Tweed jacket, check. He looked back up at her, smiling, but slightly confused.
"I'm the Doctor."
Frowning in return, River suppressed the urge to allow her smirk to turn into a smile and kept her hands where they were, blocking his way in. Feigning confusion herself, she asked: "Doctor who?"
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Very funny, River. Now are you going to let me in?" He rocked back on his heels a little. "This is no way to treat a night-time visitor."
That suggestive quirk of the lips would be the death of him, he was sure. Stepping closer to her, so that his face was inches from hers, he shrugged and murmured: "It's not how you treated me last time."
Now, River allowed the smirk to curve upwards into a soft, alluring smile as she moved backwards to let him in, brushing a stray curl back from her face. "Last time," she said, standing with her hands on her hips once he had shut the door behind them, "You weren't late."
The Doctor's expression changed into one of slight apprehension as she narrowed her eyes at him, and his lips fell to form a comical 'o' shape. "Ah, right, yes..." He scratched his cheek, stance suddenly awkward as he rocked on his heels again, hands clasped in front of him. "So... how long has it been? I only saw you two days ago."
She could have told him it had been exactly sixty-three days, four hours and thirty minutes now since she had last seen him, but to say that would be to admit she had been counting. So instead River relented her glare a little and told him: "Two months, give or take a few days. Being a Timelord, don't you think it's time you got a watch?"
Looking typically and childishly affronted, the Doctor pouted a little. He had known her long enough now to know that she wasn't truly angry at him, not really, but they always engaged in this disagreement of him being late or in some cases, early, anyway; it had become part of their ritual. Almost as though it was a more casual way for them to work out where in each other's timelines they were exactly, without asking directly. Because this way, they didn't have to acknowledge directly the strange, and ultimately tragic, nature of their relationship.
"A watch? What do I want a watch for? Watches are boring. Watches are really very not-cool."
"And so is sitting here for sixty-three days, with absolutely nothing interesting to do!"
A look of sheer delight at having caught her out came onto the Doctor's face, and he looked at her, wearing the most self-satisfied of grins. He drew closer to her, eyes wide and sparkling with smug glee. "A-ha," he said softly as she resumed glaring at him, trying to retain dignity. "I thought you might have been counting. You really aren't happy unless you're getting yourself into danger with me, are you?"
Cocking her head to one side, River raised an eyebrow, challenging the boyish delight in his eyes. She was usually the one making him look like a fool; he thought he had this one over her. "I was brought up to be a psychopath, my love. Your bespoke psychopath, to be precise. How could I be happy doing anything else?"
He inclined his head slightly to acknowledge the fact, his smile now wry as he looked at her. There was a childlike disappointment tingeing his eyes with an edge of sadness. "You still haven't said it yet. Anyone would think you weren't happy to see me."
River smiled knowingly as the Doctor continued to pout slightly. "Said what?"
"What you always say when you see me. I'd gotten rather used to it."
A kind of put-on realisation dawned on her face, as though she hadn't known what he was talking about all along. They were close now, warm breaths mingling in the few enticing inches between their faces. The low light from the lamp on the table cast shadows across the Doctor's face and tangled itself in River's curls.
The look on her face let him know that this part of their night was over; no more small talk and teasing about who was late or early. Her eyes were alight with warm affection. Smiling a soft, alluring smile that was all too familiar to him, she leant forward and brought a hand up to rest gently against his shoulder. Her lips lingered close to his ear, breath brushing across his pulse point.
"Hello, Sweetie," she murmured, the smile audible in her voice as an almost besotted sort of grin pulled on the Doctor's lips.
He lifted his hands to rest hesitantly at her waist. His movements during these sorts of moments between them were always a little awkward and reserved. River always thought of him as a man with the actions of a teenager, and the emotions of an old man, forever in love. She pulled back, just swaying so that her face lingered in front of his again, both of them sharing a smile.
"Hello, River. Happy Halloween."
"Mmm..." Letting out a quiet moan of pleasure as her smile widened a little, River touched her lips to his in the sweetest of brief kisses. "You could have at least dressed up, my love. I would have quite enjoyed that."
The Doctor raised his eyebrows a little way. "I'm sure you would have," he said gravely. "But you didn't put a pumpkin out."
"Oh I'm no good with knives and carving, Sweetie. You know that," she murmured, happily aware that they were falling into the pattern of their usual slow dance. Their bodies would mirror each other, moving closer in sync, eyes sparkling, smiles glowing, soft words of seduction whispered to each other in the few moments before they came together. It was this flirtatious dance that River revelled in, the way the Doctor's awkward movements would somehow compliment her own fluid ones, until they came together. Because as she had once said to her mother (much to Amy's embarrassment), awkward the Doctor may be, but inexperienced he was not.
She tilted her head slightly, watching as his gaze dipped down to her lips for a split second, and then back up to look in her eyes – molten pools of hazel. "I'm much better with a gun."
"Oh I know you are." In one of his more confident moves, he pulled her slightly closer to him by the waist, a coy smile on his boyish face. "Like I've said, I shouldn't like that..."
"But you kind of do a little," River finished for him, quirking an eyebrow suggestively. "I have to say, Doctor, you're being very flirty tonight. What have I done to deserve this?"
Dropping his head, the Doctor ghosted his lips along her collarbone, partly exposed where the cardigan had slipped down slightly. "No reason," he said, returning to their dance as their lips hovered just millimetres from each other. "Can't I drop by on the woman I love?"
"At the witching hour? On Halloween? It's not a traditional romantic sentiment, Sweetie, but I suppose it's not such odd behaviour for you, unless of course you're here to save me from the monsters." She smiled seductively at him.
"I'm not here to save you from monsters... Not this time, anyway."
She let out a quiet chuckle. "Good, because I can handle myself. Anything in particular you wanted?"
They were murmuring now, the words falling from between their lips and carrying on their shared breaths as little more than whispers. The Doctor was wearing something halfway between a smile and a sexy smirk as River briefly closed the gap between them again.
"After all," she continued, "I am your bespoke psychopath. At your service." Her smile grew wider. "But the love is a new one. You've never told me you love me before. Not like this, anyway."
"Haven't I?" The brief flicker of a frown crossed his face before he smiled again, but the slight awkwardness lingered for a few moments afterwards still. "Oh. Well. I do. So there... Yes."
River just smiled at him. For such a clever man, the Doctor could be awfully sparse with his words. "Well I love you too, Sweetie."
"Right, well, ah… Now that's over with…"
She chuckled, smirking and shaking her head at him. "Such a predictable man at heart, aren't you, Sweetie?"
The Doctor's eyes widened a little, like a child caught in the act of thinking about doing something wrong and he floundered a little. "I-I don't know what you mean, River, I- I just…"
The warm chuckle came from between her lips again and she drew him closer, eyes sparkling. "Oh shut up." Her lips teased his gently for a few seconds before she moved back and took his hand, gently pulling him towards the stairs. "Timelord or no Timelord, I know exactly what it is you're looking for."
"Well, I – that's what we usually… do… isn't it?"
She laughed under her breath now as he followed her up the stairs, his footsteps just a little too eager behind her to disguise the lie in his protests. Turning as they reached the bedroom, she draped her arms around him and they kissed again, her fingers moving to make light work of his bowtie.
"Yes, Sweetie. When we're not… You know… Chasing monsters and saving my darling parents from imminent danger and certain death." She paused, the familiar half-smirk, half-smile coming to her face. "Just to check, there are definitely no monsters around that you want to get rid of first?"
"No aliens?" She undid the first few buttons of his shirt and slid her hands across to his shoulders to slip his tweed jacket off onto the floor. The room was pleasantly warm with heat from the radiator, the dark night trapped outside the window.
Her smile widened as the Doctor's hands came to rest at her waist, holding her to him. "Good," she said, and then the bedroom door closed and not many words were needed after that.
Well I really haven't written a *lot* of 11/River before, so I hope this was okay! Thank you for reading, and please drop me a review to let me know what you think. :)