Another adventure for River and the Doctor – once again set in 40s New York, I think I'm obsessed with this time period! Lana belongs to me, unfortunately the rest do not. I don't see Lara as the new companion (who I've remained completely spoiler free about) but a few after her.
Title from 'The River is Wild' by The Killers.The idea for the photograph came from pin-up girl drawing by Alberto Vargas which can be found on facebook here: . ?fbid=238359752934016&set=a.238359242934067.32709.123241651112494&type=3&theater Please R+R.
Because this River is wild, God speed you boy
"Lana?!" The doctor bellowed as he swirled around the console room. "Lana this is really impressive and you're missing it!" He sighed dramatically. "I know you're new at all of this but it really is rather easy. Just stand and look awe struck... you know: mouth gaping, unable to form words kind of awe struck..." Still no reply. "Lana?!"
He found her in the closet which was strange because he'd never seen her in there before and thought she didn't even know of its existence. She was still pretty hung up on the whole swimming in the library thing. Well that and the police box that travels through time and space thing.
"There you are. Come on, what you are wearing is fine. We will soon be arriving at Adamora – 37th Century, first human colonies are due to arrive in less than an hour and you can share their amazement at this beautiful planet. I don't want to ruin the surprise but just imagine, well you don't have to 'cause you'll see it soon enough but anyway for now just a imagine a whole planet powered by..."
"Whose stuff is all this?"
She cut off his near-on incomprehensible babblings and looked at him for the first time since he entered the room. She hadn't heard a single word he had said. Surely the excitement hadn't worn off already, not with something this impressive – it was a 37th century planet powered by...
"It can't all be yours surely."
"Erm no, no of course not, have you seen the stuff in here! It is things from everyone that has ever travelled me or yet to travel with me, anything anyone could need she produces it."
"So who does this belong to?"
Lana held up the item of clothing that had been resting in her lap. It was the smallest pair of black, lycra shorts the Doctor had ever seen. They were high-wasted and a small silver buckle was placed at the top of both invisible seams. The Doctor's throat went instantly dry, of all of things she could have picked up. At least those memories were yet to come because the image of River in that was making him blush fiercely so god knows what would happen if he possessed an actually memory of his wife in said garment. It had to hers. Besides the fact that a good 50% of all of the things in here were River's, this in particular was so completely her that there was no doubt in his mind.
"I don't know." The Doctor tried to sound carefree but it didn't work. He had almost completely forgotten about Adamora now and all he wanted to do was lock Lana in her room and go and find River, the River that was going to wear those shorts. "It's obviously an adventure yet to be had."
Lana looked away again. She tried to hide it but the Doctor could see – she was disappointed. Not disappointed that the Doctor owned such a garment, far from it, she was disappointed he hadn't told her who it belonged to.
"It sounds stupid but they look just like the ones in a photograph I used to have when I was a little girl. I found it when we were clearing out my grandfather's house after he had died. It was a picture of a woman on VJ-day in New York City. My grandfather was in New York at the time, he must have taken the photograph. She'd fallen over and was on the floor but she was laughing, head thrown-back, proper gutsy sort of laugh. And she was wearing shorts so similar to this. I stole the picture." She gave a little nostalgic laugh. "Hid it in my bedside table for years."
"Why?" She frowned slightly. "Why did you take it I mean?"
"I don't know. I ... She was the most beautiful, the most glamorous woman I'd ever seen. She looked so happy, so carefree. I was just a little girl, not even ten. I guess I hoped that one day I would transform into her, become a swan."
The Doctor smiled. She had become a swan, a beautiful, thoughtful and kind swan. But she didn't see it though and that was even more endearing. Lana was different from the other companions he had had. She was quieter, shy even. But he'd soon learnt that it wasn't because she had no reaction to what he was showing her. Everything was bubbling away under the surface, always at danger of boiling over and occasionally it did. But most of the time the lid may wobble and hiss but the water was kept from spilling.
"And this woman, she wearing that exact piece of clothing?"
"Not the exact obviously but completely identical from what I can remember and I spent a lot of time looking at that picture."
He grinned once more. She couldn't, she wouldn't. Oh who was he kidding, it was River, she definitely could and most probably had.
"Do you still have the photograph?"
"Yeah probably, in my flat somewhere."
"Can I see it?"
Lana rummaged through the various little boxes and draws in her room, throwing bits of paper and objects on the floor without a second thought. The Doctor remained in the corner of the room leaning against the TARDIS that was parked there.
"Why do you want to see it anyway?" Lana enquired whilst still searching through seemingly endless amounts of tat. "It's just some woman in a photograph. I mean she can't actually be wearing the same shorts from the TARDIS can she. ... Can she?" Lana swung round to stare the Doctor down. He just smiled and replied:
"I would like to see it that's all. It obviously made an impact on you."
"Ah, got it!" She smiled triumphantly as she presented him with the photo. "She's gorgeous isn't she?"
The Doctor looked down at the picture. Lana had described it perfectly. The woman knelt on the floor, one hand on the ground to steady herself and the other holding a small flag. The shorts were very short indeed and revealed long, shapely legs. She wore a white t-shirt and military hat she had obviously just pinched from one of her solider admirers. Her eyes were almost closed and her painted red lips hung wide open in her laughter. Her hair was a darker, dirtier shade of blonde than the Doctor remembered seeing before. But it was her. It was unmistakeably her and Lana was right once more: she looked bloody gorgeous.
Lana misunderstood the Doctor's silence and continued quickly:
"I mean you don't really do that do you? Think someone is gorgeous. That's a human thing right?"
After another moment of silence:
"You're right. She's absolutely gorgeous."
Lana stared at him, wide-eyed. It was the most ... human he had ever sounded.
"My grandfather wrote the date and the place on the back – that's how I know it's VJ-day. Look..." She turned the picture over in the Doctor's hand. "14/08/45. Stella's Diner, Times Square, NYC. Can you imagine what the atmosphere must have been like that day? It would have been electric."
"Not really one for imagining me. Rather see it with my own eyes. You fancy it?"
"Are you kidding?"
"Did I mention I've got a time machine?" The Doctor smirked.
"Oh my god, yes, I mean of course but ... why? Doctor who is she?"
"You can ask her yourself or better still ask your grandfather."
She ran down the street laughing and dancing wildly in the moonlight. Not that she was out of place; everybody was completely giddy with celebration. They staggered down the streets singing and laughing and embracing anyone they came across. Victory had united an entire city, an entire country.
"Oh my god, oh my god! This is incredible." Lana turned around and grinned excitedly at the Doctor. "It's Times bloody Square. It's 1945! It's VJ-day!" She yelled throwing her head back.
The Doctor chuckled to himself, perhaps she wasn't as quiet and shy as he first supposed. Although the numerous drinks that had been given to her thus far were probably helping.
"Come on, let's find Stella's."
They found the Diner fairly quickly. Every establishment that they had passed had been open and overflowing with customers despite the fact in was almost three in the morning and Stella's diner was no exception. Loud music was blasting onto the street from inside and the Doctor couldn't see any walls or tables for the people crammed inside, all celebrating much like the others he had already seen.
"So how are we going to find her in this lot exactly?" Lana asked as sailor held open the door for her.
"Mam." He spoke in the twang of his Yankee accent. Lana giggled and hurried through.
"Don't worry, something tells me she won't be that difficult to spot."
They tried to make their way through the raucous crowd to the bar but soon came across a large group of around 30 men all crowded round, eagerly watching something. Some were in uniform but most were not, some were cheering, others clapping, most drinking and almost all smoking. The room was so thick with it, it was almost impossible to see straight ahead of you. But as they struggled to the front Lana saw clearly enough what or more precisely who was holding all of their attention: the woman from the photograph in the exact skimpy little outfit. She was, what could only be described as baton twirling with a small flag. She flung it high into the air and lunged forward to grab the hat from a solider standing nearby. She placed it on her head with a wink to its owner and stepped forward to catch the flag but it was too far out and fell to the floor. There was a collective moan but the men immediately started to clap enthusiastically. The performer indulged her audience with a little curtsy.
She bent over to collect the flag, but like everybody else, had had a little too much Victory wine and stumbled to the floor. She burst out laughing and the men joined in. Lana stole a glance at the Doctor stood behind her; he was smiling too, watching the woman intensely with an unreadable expression on his face.
The woman picked up the flag, still laughing and had to use her other hand to steady herself on the ground otherwise she'd surely stumble again. Suddenly there was a bright flash of white light. Lana searched for its source. Standing just a few feet away was the photographer, her grandfather.
"Doctor it's him!" Lana whispered. "That's my grandfather. That's the picture."
He was already disappearing in the dispersing group of men, Lana made to follow him but didn't very far as the woman brushed past her and threw her arms around the Doctor's neck as she would have done to any other new person joining the party.
"It's Victory day, hooray!" She spoke in a surprising British accent.
The Doctor responded almost instantly and wrapped his arms around her tiny waist. Lana grinned to herself; he really did have a soft spot for this woman. He turned her head toward her and ... did he just smell her hair?!
The mystery woman seemed equally shocked by his reaction and pulled away with a million questions burning in her irises.
"Nice show." The Doctor smiled.
"Did you like it? It was my debut."
"And your retiring performance." The Doctor's tone of voice was another new for Lana – it was lower, it almost came out as a growl.
"Oh I love it when you get all jealous and possessive." That tone was definitely not to be misunderstood. She was flirting with the Doctor. And he was letting her. In fact he was grinning from ear to ear.
"I got your message."
"So I see." For the first time the woman dragged her eyes away from the Doctor's and looked over at Lana, smiling. "Aren't you going to introduce us?"
Yet another look that Lana did not understand passed between the two before the Doctor said:
"River this Lana, Lana this is Doctor River Song."
"Professor please, you know that." River offered her hand to Lana and she shook it.
"Nice to meet you."
The Doctor stood dumbfounded as both women turned back to him with an eerily similar inquisitive look.
"Professor. You're a Professor now, you're out of Stormcage?" River nodded. "When was the last time you saw me?"
"The Crash of the Byzantium." River suddenly looked very sad. "Almost two years ago."
Lana's mind was racing, so it was someone the Doctor knew. She smiled triumphant, she knew it. What she didn't know was who exactly this woman was. River might have looked sad but the Doctor was anything but, he was physically having to stop himself from jumping up and down with excitement.
"You've done Byzantium?" River asked.
"Oh yeah. And Utah and Demon's Run."
"So you know ..."
Once again they were talking in their own language with their eyes and Lana was getting more and more lost by the second. Pandorica, Demon's Run, Byzantium. Clearly they had a history.
"And Berlin ... and Utah again." River gasped as her own hand covered her mouth. "And oooh, I don't know, about 1,000 or so nights."
And then they were just staring at each other as if they were just seeing each other for the first time. And River's smile was almost as big as the Doctor's and Lana still hadn't a clue what was going on. A tear escaped the corner of River's eye and the Doctor reached out instinctively to brush it away. Half turning his head he realised Lana's gaze was still fixed up on him and so he took his hand away at the speed of light as though her tears had burnt his fingertips.
"Hello." River whispered.
Lana frowned. Hadn't they already done hello? You know the leaping embrace and hair smelling kind of hello.
"Hello." The Doctor replied.
"I wasn't expecting ..."
"Hell me either." A third voice suddenly interrupted the moment that had someone how managed to be rather quiet in the surrounding chaos.
They turned to see three tall men all wearing a long, beige trench coat and holding a riffle. The one in the middle, the one that had spoken pointed his gun toward the ceiling and fired four quick, consecutive shots into the air. The place erupted in screams of shock and fear and everybody crouched to the floor covering their heads with their hands. The music cut out and the place became creepily and instantaneously quiet. The echoes from the undisturbed parties all around filtered into the silence.
"Don't worry. I have no business with any of you." The man addressed the cowering bodies on the floor. "So piss off now and I won't put a bullet in your brain."
It was amazing how quickly the packed room filtered out until just River, the Doctor, Lana and the three men remained. Everybody else was like rats scurrying from a sinking ship and who could blame them? This was not on the agenda for tonight.
As the last few people scuttled out of the room the main man began strolling toward River. Her gaze did not falter as she stared at him hard in the eye.
"Professor Song I presume?" She didn't answer. "I believe you have something that belongs to me."
She didn't have the chance to respond. Nobody had the chance to do anything. He raised his arm and swung his gun until the butt of the rifle collided with River's face creating a sickening crunch. She fell to the ground without another sound.
"And I want it back."