Lovehearts make your mouth go all funny. Especially if you try holding them on your tongue and just letting them melt. It hurts, burns a little bit, but in a funny, fizzy way. Lovehearts are his new favourite. They make a nice change while he's coming out of his Wine Gum phase. His back teeth were starting to hurt. He doesn't know how long he's going to be staying in this body. Long as possible, hopefully. So he has to take care of the teeth he has.
Alright, so he's burning a hole in his tongue, but his molars are recovering.
He's working through a roll when the call comes in to let him know River's been stealing again. This happens, every so often. Like an eclipse, or foxfire, or a geyser, and with the frequency of all three of these combined. And yes, sometimes it proves to be that there's a reason, that her little heists are going to be useful to them. Nine times in ten, though, she's just bored. Or she's seen something shiny and decided she wants it.
This latest escapade is one of the latter. A diamond tiara. It's the last time he takes her to a royal wedding, anyway, that's for certain. She's hopped forward a few centuries to snag it with relative ease from a museum, rather than the palace itself.
Left behind on the velvet display pad is a Loveheart that says, 'Missed Me'.
River just doesn't know what the world's coming to. One minute you're perfectly happy, dancing on a table with a diamond tiara on your head while a band of Hagars play the kanaktan, and the next you're getting rearrested for the millionth time.
She was going to put it back. She tells the Justice Department grunts that, but they're shackling her arms, not listening to her. She continues, nonetheless, about how she was just going to a party and I wanted something a bit, you know, special. How she was rather hoping her husband might follow...
One of the grunts takes unfortunate delight in telling her that the Doctor did follow, and indeed told them where to find her.
Indignant and raging and bloody furious, she stops entirely giving them the easy time of it and kicks and screams the whole way back to Stormcage. If they think she's even staying the night, they've got another thing coming.
They lock her away in her cell, and she only sits down because she's dizzy from railing at them.
Sits down on the edge of her bed and sees, lying like a mint on the pillow, the little round sweet, that bears the message, 'Got U'.
Well, that's just what she gets, isn't it? The Doctor's a busy man. She can't drag him around crime scenes just to invite him to parties like he's got nothing better to do with his time. Has to learn her lesson sometime. And really, it's better he be the one to teach her than any harder heart.
In addition, he never tires of getting one over on her.
Never tires, either, of telling her parents just how helpful and wonderful he is, how much he does to keep their darling daughter out of trouble.
Pond seems to think that keeping her in prison and keeping her out of trouble are two different things. Poor, deluded woman...
But River is not in prison. River was here this morning, for her weekly coffee-and-Loose-Women session, a mother-daughter tradition.
Pond takes a small white envelope, sealed with a lipstick kiss, from her pocket. Even just watching it swing, he knows what's in it.
This one says 'Come and Play'.
She leads him a merry dance through eight Chinese dynasties, alternately stealing away and 'discovering' a relic of untold power left behind by a Centari scouting party while human beings still had fins. River dictates the rises and falls of ancient Asia, blessing and cursing what leaders she chooses, and waits for him to realize.
She is about to offer this greatest benediction to yet another emperor. She carries the long crystal shard in both hands and approaches with the customary deference, eyes down, small steps, crouching so as never to be taller than the emperor. He is waiting, peering out at her through eyebrows as long as his hair, lower face obscured by his fine white beard and moustache.
River gracefully mounts the steps to his embroidered silk throne. Kneels and offers out the power source.
The 'emperor' takes it from her. His thank you is not spoken in any Chinese dialect River has ever known, and his voice is very familiar.
River opens her deferent eyes, but doesn't look up. There on the step right in front of her, a dot of pink sherbert; 'You're Mine'.
And, well, a game's a game, isn't it? He won, and it was over, and off he went to settle a feudal dispute that would have destroyed a small solar system. That's a really important job, by the way. Saving whole solar systems. What he was saying before, about being a busy man, this is a prime example of that.
It's just that, when he disappeared, and they found the real emperor, River wasn't really able to vanish the way that he did.
Twelve days in a Chinese prison, it would seem, is 'Too Much'. He finds that message on the console when he gets back from, just to remind you, saving an entire solar system.
After fifteen days, River still occasionally finds herself shaking with anger. Abandoning her. In ancient China, of all places. They were going to execute her. He might still have two goes left, but he forgets sometimes she gave hers up, and for him, no less!
So River does the sensible thing and goes shopping.
Proper shopping. The whole point is to hand over vast, inexcusable sums of money for exquisitely pointless things. She goes shopping, in Paris, 1898. Fin de siècle indulgence, art for art's sake, great shows of wealth wherever she might go.
She takes dinner in a small, private corner of Maxim's.
Afterward, a tall, fluted absinthe glass arrives at her table. Fizzing gently at the bottom of the glass, a few awful words she can only just make out – 'Kiss and make up'.
He waits for her at the foot of the Eifel Tower.
Something hits him on the head, too small to do damage, but dropped from a very great height. His hair stops it falling and breaking, so he can fish it down and read, 'Dream on.'
It's a silly game anyway. It all started out good fun, best intentions. But he took it too far, the way he always does, and River's not playing anymore. She's determined.
She's running from the JD in the farther reaches of the fourth system. For an hour or more she hides with a pretty street urchin who knows all the best little crevices, before she notices that the girl is wearing a bracelet made of 'Be Kind's.
But she's not joining in again. Not a hope. Not a mission.
When she's bored, and sets a great number of hats up on various stands for target practice, a felt beret opens out in a shower of 'Miss U'.
Well, that's fine. He can miss her. She hopes he does, in fact, and hopes he suffers, because if the Emperor's guards had lopped off her head that's exactly what he would be doing right now is Missing Her.
Actually, secretly, she has one of the bloody things kept aside that says 'Just Right', and that would be the right tone and the right thing to say, but she's not going to do it. She's not giving him the satisfaction of drawing her in again. She doesn't even want to see him to sneak it to him. Besides, he doesn't deserve to know she even thinks of him. No, River tips her chin up proudly, righteous and elegant and above all this.
Then she scoops the Miss Us into a heap and fires at it until it's a smear of crackling foam on the floor.
They get her back in her cell, eventually. When she can't be bothered with the standoff anymore and doesn't care whether he comes or not.
But that first night, he appears. Alarms go off around them, stunners are charged, guards are shouting. Neither of them takes any notice at all.
He pulls her desk around from beneath the barred window. He sits behind it, and she sits on the edge of the bed, facing each other as if for a game of chess. The Doctor takes a small cloth bag from his pocket. Opens it and shakes out little Lovehearts like runes. And yes, she still has the ones she was keeping, just in case, in a box beneath the pillow.
Red lights sweep back and forth across them as he considers his opening gambit.
He chooses, in the end, 'Please'.
River studies it, unimpressed. In retort, she pushes 'Bad Boy' across the table.
'Just Say No.'
'Can We Do A Proper Kiss?'
In dismay, River stares down into her box. She's run out of negatives. All she has left is 'Love You', 'I Surrender', 'Forever Together'. Damn! Nothing to counter him with!
He sees her weak and abandons the system of taking-turns. He's willing to compromise, though; his next message asks no more than 'Little Kiss'.
River's hand lingers longing over 'I Surrender'.
Sensing victory, he gives her his last, his coup de gras. 'My All'.