never but with you adjacent
The first time was quite by accident.
He likes to visit with River, in the nights when the Ponds sleep and he potters around his console, waiting for them to wake. One night, not long after America, he had decided that waiting for River to send for him was rather silly. He was after all, the Lord of Time and if he wanted to see her, he could.
So he had.
He'd picked her up while the Ponds slept, and they ran through the forests of Andlegva, trying to catch a pack of rogue Wisnals not native to the planet – or solar system really, and accidentally starting a small revolution while they were there. Andlegva housed tribes separated by gender that joined only for mating seasons – the males ran the capitol while the rather Amazonian females owned the woods. River had, sufficed to say, left quite an impression. He'd scolded her all the way back to the TARDIS, but she'd only laughed, letting him drop her off and kissing him goodbye by the TARDIS doors.
He'd been happy his hands had stayed in one place this time.
She'd seemed happy that place happened to be located on her bum.
Amy and Rory had woken shortly thereafter and they had all gone on an adventure. With pirates. He had quite liked the hats. But he also quite liked the kissing, so he just kept visiting with River, every night the Ponds slept on the TARDIS.
He likes her, really. She is mad and clever and has all that hair. He likes her smile and that she never gives any spoilers away, even if those spoilers frustrate the hell out of him. She laughs, and her eyes brighten and he appreciates that. He also rather adores how well she can run, sprinting behind him; how very little he ever needs to explain to her and how tightly she grips his hand. He admires her thirst for the adventure, her spirited independence. He never has to take care of her (and if he's honest – which he never is – she's taken care of him on rather a few adventures) and he is fond of that too.
And he really quite likes the kissing.
Tonight they are tracking wyvern, somewhere in Wales in 1741. They didn't expect to quite literally stumble across one – or her litter of babies – but the wyvern doesn't seem to care to listen to his explanations and summarily not long after that he is holding River's hand and running for his life.
There is a village ahead, and typically, a scad of screaming villagers scurrying about madly, all somehow managing to just get in the way. "If I have cover, I can load the tranqs," River pants out behind him and he nods, his eyes scanning the area. There is a small house ahead of them, and they have a good length on the wyvern, so he grips her hand tighter and runs toward it. A broom is jammed in the doorway, low down but he ignores it, leaping over it and pulling River behind him. She slams against the wall of the house, loads her gun and ducks back around the doorway, neatly tranqing the wyvern, which falls to the ground by the edge of the woods with a thunderous noise.
The broom's not even been jostled and the Doctor grins smugly, feeling so full of awe that he leans into the doorway too and kisses her. She drops her gun immediately, both of her hands pushing through his hair as she hums, her mouth opening under his. He'd only meant to kiss her once – though really this all did count as once, it's hardly his fault she is pressing her body against his and really once River Song's tongue is wrapped around your own only a complete idiot would close his mouth. He is not a complete idiot. And she always tastes amazing and makes those little noises that he likes so much – they hum through him and make him feel things. Things like tingles and wibbles and wobbles, a shiver that trips down his spine and makes him wonder if those noises get any better given a more private location and a few free hours.
The applause is what causes them to finally break apart, and villagers pull the broom down and draw them out of the house, exchanging introductions and thanking them profusely.
"You and your wife are most welcome to stay with us as long as needed, Doctor." The elder smiles and the Doctor frowns.
"Oh no, no – she's not my wife." River smirks at that and he swallows. Well. Not that he knows of at any rate.
"Of course she is."
"No, no, it's kind of you – but you see in our culture women and men can often travel together without supervision, and yet still not be married. She's rather lovely, but I think I'd remember marrying her-" Another giggle from River and he frowns, because it tickles at the back of his mind, like a memory he can't quite grasp, "which I haven't. Yet." He sees her smile in the corner of his eye at that, and he turns his head to look, because knows it will be breath taking and it really is. He smiles back and the elder shakes his head.
"But Doctor, you have just married. You took her hand and leapt the broom. You are wed. And such a felicitous marriage it shall be – the broom remained in place – it is a good omen, sir." The elder beams and the Doctor splutters.
"But we – I – that's not even our house."
"The dwelling beyond matters not, it is only the home in our hearts that counts Doctor, and we carry that with use wherever we traverse. Come, come, we must celebrate your wedding night!" The Doctor opens his mouth, but the Elder turns away, gathering villagers for a feast. River slips away with a kiss to his cheek, explaining that she is going to go retrieve the babies and the TARDIS, and take the wyvern back to where it belongs, and she is back at his side in less than five minutes. Time machine.
"That is not getting married." He mutters to her as they drink and eat the food continuously being placed in front of them while the children of the village perform acts and songs. "Honestly, jumping over a broom, who invented that?"
"West African slaves. Though there's some debate about that since the first recorded broom jumping isn't until the 1900s there, and unlike the Welsh and Romani gypsies they jump over the broom after the wedding ceremony, whereas here it is the ceremony. If the broom falls actually, the wedding is cancelled and the couple isn't even considered married." River licks at her fingers as she responds to his rhetorical question, she has the answer for everything it seems, and he pulls a face at her. "Careful my love, you'll leave these poor people thinking we're getting divorced the minute we leave, and what kind of end to a heroic tale is that?"
"But that's not how we get married!" He insists hotly, leaning closer and she turns to him with a smile.
"Oh? How do we get married then?"
He chokes on air, and searches her face while he thinks of a reply. The firelight casts shadows across her face and she looks lovely in the warm light. She looks lovely in any light really, it's rather distracting. "I don't know. But not by accident, I'd like to think I at least ask you or- or –"
"We're out of synch, sweetie. You'd ask one time and not remember it the next." Her eyes are sad and he reaches out, taking her hands in his.
"No matter what River, I've always known you are important. One of the most important parts of my life." Her eyes fill with tears and his hearts drop as she smiles wistfully.
"I know that, I do. I just... these early meetings for you are just- they-" She moves her hand from under his and presses it to her chest and he shakes his head, pulling her into his arms. He's never hugged her before – that's new. Not outside of kissing at any rate. But she fits in his arms like she was made for just such a purpose and he holds her tightly as she buries her face by his bowtie. He presses kisses to the top of her head while his hands sweep along her back.
"Shhh, it's alright. I'm sorry, I am being terrible about everything. I don't care how or when or where, River. I've known for a while now – suspected really. My wife." He breathes the last words out and she pulls back to blink up at him, her eyes dark in the firelight. The Doctor can still hear the children singing, and villagers are clapping, but he pays them no heed because he is kissing her, holding her tightly against him and kissing her like this kiss alone can make up for what he'd said earlier. She hums and his hands slide up into her hair – another favourite place for his hands to occupy themselves he's found – tangling in the loose curls.
She is breathless when they part, her hands curled around his lapels as she smiles up at him brightly. Applause breaks out, reminding them they are decidedly not alone and he flushes, feeling his face warm. He runs a hand through his hair and looks at River who is still smiling softly. He laces his fingers through hers and stands, tilting his head back to the woods where she'd left the TARDIS. "Shall we?"
The elder stands with them, shaking their hands repeatedly and thanking them, and wishing them a 'long and fruitful marriage' which the Doctor giggles at nervously. Once they are free to go, they wander back toward the woods, still hand-in-hand. River bumps her shoulder into his arm, placing her chin on his shoulder and grinning. "It doesn't have to count you know." She sighs, laying her head down until her hair tickles at his neck and he frowns down at her.
"Marriages don't just not count because you say they don't." He points out and she looks up with an arched brow.
"Oh, of course. So which number wife am I then? Since all those 'not weddings' count now?" He stammers and shakes his head, before huffing.
"Well those don't count, and besides technically I'm a widower in that case, because depending on your point of view – they're all dead, River."
"Should I be concerned for my health then?" She gasps playfully and his smile falters for a moment before he chuckles.
"Course not; you're no ordinary wife, River Song." He wraps an arm around her and she laughs, her smile bright.
"Oh you've honestly no idea sweetie."
"Care to give me a hint, River?" he teases as he unlocks the TARDIS doors and they enter, his hand reaching for hers as he pulls her against him.
"No sneak previews, my love," she grins and he kisses her once more, pressing her back against the TARDIS doors. Her hands slip over his shoulders and into his hair and she kisses him back passionately, her mouth opening under his and her tongue sliding in as he moans, his hands gripping her waist. He unbuckles her utility belt and drops it beside them as she pulls at his hair. He feels warm all over and almost out of control. His hearts are beating rapidly, and his hands roam over her body, as if he cannot decide where to touch her. His hips push into hers and she lets out a surprised laugh as she turns her mouth from his, pressing soft kisses against his chin, and jaw and neck.
She licks there and his hands jump up, brushing against the soft fullness of her breasts and he squeaks in shock as she muffles her laughter against the side of his neck. "Oh sweetie, it's alright you know." She stills in his arms and leans back to meet his gaze. "We can just go."
"Go where?" he asks in genuine confusion – does she want to relocate out of the console room? Which probably isn't a bad idea, come to think of it – he wasn't sure how long Amy and Rory would be sleeping... "You're right, actually, we should go." He kisses the tip of her nose and spins on the spot, flying over the stairs and completely missing her reaction. He sets the ship off into the Vortex, and sets the auto pilot before moving back over to the stairs quickly and looking down at her impatiently, holding out a hand. "Well come on."
"Come on?" She frowns and walks up the stairs slowly until he grabs her hand and all but drags her into the halls, "Doctor, I thought..." he reaches his own door, flinging it open and pulling her inside, shutting and locking it behind them.
"Thought what?" he frowns at her and she smiles, shaking her head.
"I thought you'd want to take me back," she points out softly and he looks down at her in surprise.
"On our wedding night? Rude." He scoffs and she laughs, shaking her head.
"Doctor, you don't have to... you don't even know who I am yet." She finishes softly and he slides his hands over her shoulders, moving her hair aside as he moves to stand behind her and presses a soft kiss against her neck. Her breath catches and he smiles against her skin.
"You're my wife." He whispers the words into her skin as he lifts shaking hands to the zipper of her dress, dragging it down slowly. "River Song. And I rather like every inch of your mystery." She is holding her breath and he realizes he is too. His fingers brush against her spine as he pulls the zip down and she finally exhales when he reaches the end.
"Doctor," her voice is a choked whisper and he thinks of everything he was thinking earlier. He lets out a shaky breath and licks his lips, pressing a kiss to the nape of her neck as he pushes the dress from her shoulders. Her breathing is shallower now and the dress pools at their feet with a whisper. He looks over her shoulder, captivated by the view of her breasts, pushed up in a cream bra with little decoration. He reaches around her waist, bringing a hand up so his fingers can trace across the swell of her breasts. She gasps, her chest hitching up and he presses kisses to her shoulders. "Doctor, we don't-"
"Shhh," he murmurs into her skin, moving around her and pulling her against him as he presses a soft kiss to her mouth. "I like you River. My mad, clever River – all that hair and everything is an adventure – or seems like it. Even this, River. Right now – this feels like an adventure, and it's one I want to have with you. My wife," he swallows and she pushes against him then, kissing him fiercely as he stumbles back, arms wind milling.
"I love you so much – and I know you don't – not yet – but I do. I love you enough for both of us right now." She whispers the words against his mouth, shoving his tweed from his shoulders and tugging at his bowtie as she kicks her boots off and shucks her tights next. She kisses him again, pulling his braces down and his shirt is unbuttoned and has disappeared before he can even comprehend that her hands are moving. It is a blur of limbs and skin, and oh my that's nice, and the next thing he realises they are spread across his four poster bed (which he swore had been a waterbed yesterday) and she is all naked skin pressed against him and he isn't sure where to start first.
His hands hover over her, flitting in the air above her as he licks his lips and ponders where to start. Her ankles are rather lovely, but so is the lush curve of her outer thigh. Her waist is impossibly tiny, it nips in and fits his hands perfectly – he knows that much from kissing her. Her ribs beg to be counted and tickled, and her hip bones are shadowed hollows he longs to learn the topography of. The curve of her breasts, the stiff brush of her nipple, her collar bones, her belly button, those three freckles at the top of her left thigh. "Oh god, you idiot, you get to touch it all, but bloody start somewhere before I climb you like a tree and take over," she drops her head with a sigh and he laughs, long and warm and genuine. He kisses her then, still smiling, and her small hands smooth along his back and ribs before stopping above his hearts – just where they are. Most humans get it wrong – they assume it's in the same location as theirs but doubled, but she stops her hands further apart. His chest aches and he knows.
Whoever she is – who ever she ends up being – he cannot run from falling in love with her anymore. It is far, far too late for that. He pulls back, his hands on her face as he smiles. "You don't need to, you know."
"Don't need to what?" She frowns up at him, her brow crinkling delightfully and he thinks there isn't one bit about her he would change. He smiles and kisses her, soft and slow.
"Love me enough for both of us. I don't – I'm rubbish at this River but I don't need you to – I'm not not there. I mean, I'm probably not precisely where you are – you have time on your side, but I want you to know that I do – I mean to say you make me feel – I want to say-"
Her eyes fill and she positively beams up at him. "I love you too. And you are rubbish at it, sweetie."
"But you know," he gazes at her intently and she nods with a soft smile.
"I do know. I've always known." She kisses him then, and he sinks against her, skin to skin, hip to hip, knee to knee. The time for talking is past. Now there's just completing the leap.
It's the happiest accident he's ever had.