Et dès que je l'aperçois
She leaned against the railing with a sigh, glancing along the length of the Seine and watching the night lights reflect off the water stretched out before her. It was fast becoming a familiar sight – far more familiar than she was used to, but then he'd never ever been quite this late before.
Three weeks ago she'd received an invitation, thick blue stationary, with a date, coordinates and his scrawled initial at the bottom, trailed by a tiny x. She'd smiled at the sight of it – as fun as breaking out to leave him outrageous messages was, she did enjoy the nights when he sought her out, because they were always special.
The Doctor wasn't the most romantic of creatures, but somehow he'd turned him sending her invitations into a tradition – his own ineffectual clumsy way of asking her on a date. It was always the same stationary, the same TARDIS blue, carefully printed. She kept them all. Scads of blue envelopes with nonsensical silver Gallifreyan words inked on the outside. At first she'd thought they were just random words, but one night in her cell she'd been bored and had assembled them in his order, more or less, fitting them together like a puzzle. And she'd been oh so wrong – not nonsensical at all; they were a love letter, crossing hundreds of years.
How typical of him.
Now she would fit each envelope into its place according to his timeline, and it felt a bit like she was reliving it through his eyes. This envelope, she thought was more toward his middle. Almost linear, she mused with a smile. She still didn't have the very first – presuming of course, the Doctor would be so common as to start a love letter with her name. The Gallifreyan on the outside of this envelope spoke of happiness and joy. She slipped a hand into her coat pocket and let her fingers brush against the paper there.
A date. A map reference. And of course she'd escaped and shown up. Paris in the 22nd century, in late Spring. The weather was gorgeous, the atmosphere was gorgeous, and she'd waited for him to arrive.
Three weeks later and she was still waiting. Her Doctor had a ridiculous sense of time, considering he was a Timelord, and of course she could have sought him out. But who knows which him she'd find? And she could go back – but she knew her Doctor and he would arrive eventually, all bluster and tripping limbs and his ship with its brakes left on, and she didn't want him to find she'd been and gone.
Besides, she'd kept herself busy. Wandering the Louvre, visiting some of her favourite monuments to pass the time – she'd even gotten a job at a small antiquities shop to make some money while she was there. After all, staying and waiting involved things like rent and food, and she'd had to provide both for herself. Mostly though, she loved to watch the people. Tourists and Parisians alike, she loved the atmosphere of the entire city, which never seemed to change, be it the 19th, 21st or 35th century.
None of which meant, of course, that he wouldn't be getting a good telling off once he finally arrived.
"I said February on the invitation River, and do you know how difficult it is to track you down when things like that happen? I mean, why on Earth would I have invited you to Paris on April 14th?" She grinned at the sound of his voice, before dropping the smile and spinning around to glare at him affectionately. He was in his top hat and tails – her favourite – and he was clutching a handful of flowers as he looked at her in exasperation.
"Hello to you too, sweetie."She arched a brow at him and pulled the envelope out of her pocket. "I honestly don't know – I thought maybe it had to do with the 22nd and you were just planning ahead, but you wrote April, honey. See for yourself." She handed him the invitation, keeping the envelope in her hand and he frowned down at the item in his hand before he shook his head. "You're three weeks late, Doctor."
"I swear I wrote in February." He muttered and River stepped in closer, plucking the invitation from his hands and looking up at him. "But if it said April why are you here now? It's May, River." He frowned and she laughed and rolled her eyes, shaking her head and pocketing the invitation.
"Because you daft man, I waited. Now is yelling at me any proper way to greet your wife who has been waiting three weeks on you to show up?" She wrapped her arms around him and he grinned down at her.
"Sorry, dear. But you know – you haven't even asked when I am yet, and calling yourself my wife is rather a big spoiler, which is rather careless, even for you-"
"Oh, shut up." She started and his eyes lit up as he leaned down and kissed her. His free hand gripped her waist, pulling her in closer while his other arm wrapped around her waist, still clutching the flowers. His tongue ran along her bottom lip and she opened her mouth under his, moaning at the taste of him. He hummed into her mouth, his tongue brushing against hers teasingly, entering and withdrawing, drawing hers into his own mouth as he pressed tiny kisses against her lips. Her fingers played with the hair brushing his collar and when he finally drew back she was breathless. "Mmmm, better. Still angry at you though, mind. You'll have to make it up to me."
He laughed, smiling apologetically and she smiled back at him, her nose wrinkling in delight. So utterly ridiculous, but she loved him so very much that at moments like these, her hearts felt like they couldn't possibly contain all of her joyous emotion. "Well, maybe I will."
"Oh really, how?"
"Well, even though it took me a while to track you down, my plans are as easy here as in February – maybe a bit easier. First, River, dinner."
She smiled and pressed a soft kiss to the corner of his jaw, which he leaned into with a happy sigh. "And as for me being careless with spoilers, I would never. I know when you are because of the envelope."
He blushed at that, looking down at her with a gleam in his eyes. "Noticed that did you?"
"Eventually." She nodded and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "It's very sweet. I can't wait to have them all." His smile wobbled at that and he shook his head in disagreement.
"I hope it never ends. I hope it's the longest letter I've ever written, River." Her hearts constricted and she reached up, kissing him again, hard and fast, her hands in his hair and she knocked his hat to the ground, but he didn't seem to care as her hips pressed forward into his. She backed him against the railing, hands roaming under his suit as she rolled her body over his. Sometimes he said things – the sweetest things that made her feel alternately incredibly touched and like she wanted to press herself into him everywhere at once, and pull him so deep inside her she couldn't tell her endings from his beginnings. "River!" He gasped her name out, both of his hands clutching at her waist now, fingers digging in and she supposed her flowers had hit the ground too, but she didn't much care. "There are people around."
She laughed, her face pressed into his neck, where she pressed soft kisses against his throat – one, two, three, four, in time with her heartbeats. "Oh, sweetie, you are adorable. There are people around. And what are they doing?" He glanced around them and flushed, looking back at her quickly.
"Why is everyone doing that?" He paused, glancing up and down the bridge, his eyes narrowed. "Oh. This is the Pont des Arts! Why are you here, alone?"
"It's the best view in Paris, Doctor. Well, I happen to love it best anyway." She amended and he grinned at her.
"I'm sorry I'm late." He apologized before shrugging. "Though technically, not my fault. The TARDIS must have printed it wrong. I was planning a surprise for Valentine's day."
"She got it perfectly right, my love – she knows I love Paris in the Spring more than any other time. Besides, Valentine's Day is a human holiday, and why would we celebrate it?" Her hands were inching under his coat, around to his back as she scratched her nails lightly against the fabric there.
"Because – because – because it's a celebration of – it's, you know - River! I wanted to plan it and make it special and have it be – you know - special. I wanted to show you-"
"Oh sweetie, you already do. Every time we meet, every time we have an adventure, every time we hold hands and run, or you look at me, or we fly the TARDIS together. The places you show me, or the way you are when we're alone. When you catch me, every single time I jump from stupidly dangerous places." She smiled up at him fondly, kissing him softly. "It doesn't need a special day. It's every day."
He swallowed, looking down at her with an expression of awe. "It needs saying sometimes River. Sometimes, in all the running, we forget, and I don't want that. I don't ever want to forget." He buried his hands in her hair and she smiled happily.
"I never ever forget, Doctor. Not one second." She kissed him again, and this kiss lasted a bit longer, her body melting into his for a brief moment. "I love that you wanted to do this though. Where's dinner?"
"Wherever you want." He smirked and she laughed. "Flowers, danci- oh the flowers!" He slid away from her, picking up the now rather battered flowers and his top hat and frowning. "Oh they're all bruised, poor things."
"They're flowers Doctor." He grinned and nodded.
"Not just any flowers though, River Song." He tapped her nose lightly and took her hand. "Come on, I'll show you." He led her to the end of the bridge, stepping up the stairs and back onto the street. Once up there he ducked into an alcove by some stairs, glancing around. "Perception filter. I know tiger lilies are your favourite-"
"Yes. Alive. In a garden, dear."
"Hush! But I got these at a trading post on Nexus V. They're 51st century Tiger Lilies. Well, not really tiger lilies. But Tiger-ish. They were cross bred with a rather aggressive lily breed from Alfava Metraxis. And because I got them in the 51st century – they won't die for weeks." He grinned proudly and waved his sonic over the flowers in his hands. The regular lilies faded away to reveal... River wasn't sure what exactly. They looked like lilies – a bit more of a burnt orange than their earth ancestors and they were... moving.
"Are they- do they-" She reached a hand out and the Doctor danced back.
"Oh no, no no – best not to touch. I don't quite... remember when I last fed them." He frowned down at the flowers in his arms, and she stared at him in disbelief.
"And what exactly do these... tiger lilies eat?"
"Oh you know, water, nutrients, flies, spiders – they're great for that! Sometimes small mammals, but you know, like rodents. But they live for a really long time and-"
"And you got me carnivorous flowers?" She arched a brow and he flushed.
"I thought you'd like them." His voice was quiet and she felt an odd sort of ache in her chest. She stepped closer to him, pushing his arm that held the flowers a side before pulling his head down to hers and kissing him softly.
"I do love them. Let's go see if they're hungry enough to bite the waiter." She grinned up at him and he laughed. "My favourite restaurant happens to have the most obnoxious maitre d'."
He grinned, reactivating the perception filter and handing her the now docile flowers, before taking her hand and pulling her out onto the pavement with a twirl. They walked to the restaurant, where he promptly waved his psychic paper, and they were suddenly being called by title and shown to a VIP table. He grinned across at her and she smothered a laugh, laying her flowers on the table next to them.
She was genuinely enjoying herself, and she had long since forgiven him his lateness – it was incredibly difficult to ever stay mad with him, which was extremely fortunate for him. They were halfway through their third course when there was a commotion at the front of the restaurant, and loud voices. "Is that..."
"I do believe the Viscount has arrived and may be a bit miffed his table is taken." The Doctor leaned back as he observed the maitre d' storming toward them.
"Monsieur! You are most decidedly not the Viscount d'-" He stood close enough to the table now that his hands brushed against her flowers and suddenly he gasped and drew back, the flowers clinging to his hand. "Mon dieu!"
"Oh goodness, so sorry – they were hungry, my fault." The Doctor leapt up and River glanced longingly at her entree before putting her napkin down just as the Doctor was struggling comically with the man, losing his hat in the scuffle because the maitre d' was resisting his attempt to help. They flailed together and the Doctor just managed to extract the flowers when the maitre d' tumbled into the table with a terrific crash, overturning the candles and setting the tablecloth alight. "Oh so sorry – wait – I have an app for that!" The Doctor dropped her flowers and fiddled with his screwdriver for a moment, before sonicing the flames out and pocketing his screwdriver, turning to beam at River. "Simple oxygen extraction and-"
"Sweetie, I love you, but I think we should be running now."
"I love you too – what? Oh yes, quite right. Off we pop then." She laughed out loud as he grabbed her hand and they dashed through the restaurant, knocking over a waiter on their way out and bypassing the livid Viscount and his wife. They ran out into the street where it had begun to rain heavily, and she laughed with delight, dodging puddles and running until they were breathless.
When they finally slid to a halt they were soaked through by the warm Spring rain and laughing themselves silly. "Oh you impossible man!" She leaned against his side and he shook his head, his hair plastered to his head.
"I meant for us to go dancing afterward! Stop laughing River, the whole thing is ruined. I was late and your flowers tried to eat someone, and we started a minor fire, and we – we just dined and dashed." He waved a hand and she smiled at him, moving in closer to put her arms around his neck, her body pressing into his. "And I lost your flowers. And my hat!"
"So dance with me."
"There's no music, River." He looked down at her, heat in his gaze, but despite his words his arms wrapped around her waist and he pulled her closer. One of his hands reached for hers and he began to sway with her, twirling them in the rain as she tilted her head back and laughed brightly.
"See? Perfectly romantic, sweetie." She breathed the words out by his ear and he held her closer, turning his face into her wet curls.
"I'm sorry I ruined everything on our not Valentine's date." He spoke in a low tone and they continued to sway down the street, by passing Parisians, staring at them in amazement as they waltzed to no music, through the crowd of people clutching brollies.
"I've loved it, Doctor. All of it. Well, perhaps you could have been on time, but then it wouldn't be you would it? My Doctor. I don't need you to try so hard, sweetie. Just you and I – that's all I've ever wanted. Ever since I met you." She smiled up at him and he shook his head with a laugh.
"Liar. You wanted to kill me when you first met me."
"Well, yes, but always with a kiss, sweetie." She saw the TARDIS over his shoulder and he twirled her one last time, before pulling her into him, his arms tight around her and his face inches from hers.
"I do love you River. I hope I say it often enough that you never forget."
"Oh, honey." She stretched up, kissing him thoroughly, her mouth opening under his as her hands slid into his wet hair. He tasted like rain, and time and she hummed into his mouth, her hips pressing forward as they stumbled against the closed TARDIS doors. Her hands searched under his jacket, running over his chest and sides, behind him and up along his back. When they broke apart his hands were squeezing her arse and she grinned up at his shocked face. "I've always known. And you will too."
"Even when I'm young and I've forgotten, River. Promise." His words were fierce and she smiled up at him.
"Always, sweetie. To my last breath." His eyes darkened at her words and he kissed her once more, his tongue dipping into her mouth to taste her as his fingers bit into her skin – one hand sliding up to grip her waist and the other still remaining in place, hauling her into him. He pushed her back, standing them upright and his hand at her waist loosing so he could snap, opening the doors behind him. He pulled his mouth from hers and pressed a soft kiss to the tip of her nose.
"To mine too." He whispered as the glow of the console room surrounded them. "I promise."