1996


River immersed herself in the warm bath gladly, letting out a sigh of relief as her muscles relaxed instantly. She pulled her hair up, off her face, securing it with an industrial hair tie as she sank yet further into the bubbles. After a long, difficult day involving marking, yelling at her students and a rather large setback involving one clumsy idiot who got a bit too close to the artifacts, it was lovely to just lie back and relax. She could feel the stresses of the day falling away with each wave of the water around her body and she hummed contentedly.

Closing her eyes, she rested her head on the edge of the bath, wondering idly when John would get home from his lab. It was quite likely he would be late, given his recent 'breakthrough' with that sonic thing he was working on. She smiled a little at that, remembering him telling her excitedly over dinner yesterday about the current developments and how he was so close to a new discovery he could hardly sit still. That winded up being an entirely accurate assessment, as he'd promptly spilt noodles everywhere with his next mindless flail. Idiot.

Smiling contentedly, she reached for her favourite soap on the shelf. It was primarily scented with lemon, but somehow it smelt lightly of cinnamon too, which she adored. Languorously, she washed herself down, carefully scrubbing at the dirt that had come with her trip to the restoration department that evening. Really it was obscene how dirty she was – she grinned wryly at that description, filing it away for later use – but she supposed that it was no small wonder, given that dolt Ian had knocked over the priceless ancient Egyptian vase and had then sprayed dust and dirt everywhere. She clenched her jaw, rolling her eyes again before turning her attention back to relaxing.
Relaxing.
Breathing slowly in and slowly out again, closing her eyes and letting her mind wander.

It was marvelous, actually, to just lie in the bubbly water without a worry in the world. She must remember to do it more often. In fact, she should order John to try it too – it'd do him some good. She'd probably persuade him on the condition that they do it together. She smirked at that, eyes still closed, imagining his face.

An unknown amount of time later, just when she'd had to reheat the water a little, the rattle of keys at the door let her know John was home. She heard the door creak open and then bang loudly into the hall wall – god, how many times must she tell him he doesn't need to force the thing – as he clumped inside noisily. The timing was surprising; she wasn't expecting him for at least another hour, well after the sun had gone down. But, as it were, the sun was still streaming though the high bathroom window, falling warmly across her face.

From the hallway, she heard him call out. "Hi honey, I'm home."

Smiling at the phrase, she called back "Hello, sweetie."

There was another loud bang from the corridor, followed by a worrying 'bother!' River squeezed her eyes shut and hoped her Venetian glass had escaped unscathed.

"River! Where are you?"

She grinned at his yell, hearing him wander about the house, searching cluelessly.

"In the bathroom, honey," she called back.

She heard his footsteps echoing on the hardwood floor as he walked up the hall towards her voice. It was amazing, really, how much she could tell from just his gait; he was tired, but still characteristically energetic (as always). He bounded into the room, whipping his head around as he looked for her – of course, he was facing completely the wrong way.

"Down here, darling," she said, amused. He started, turning away from the washing-machine and clapping a hand over his eyes when he spotted her.

"River!" he exclaimed, momentarily shocked. "You're - you're in the bath!"

She giggled, a low chuckle deep in her throat. "Yes, sweetie. Naked too – fancy that."

He removed his hand slowly, peeking between his fingers at her. She rolled her eyes at him, smiling fondly – honestly, there were still bubbles all over the water; he couldn't even see a thing. "Is there a problem with that," she asked innocently, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

"No. I – no. There's not. Not in the slightest. Just gave me a bit of a shock, that's all," he stuttered, removing his hand and letting it flop by his side. She rolled her eyes again.

"You'd think you were a school-boy, the way you're acting. Not a married man who so regularly proves his virility in the bedroom," she teased, drawing out the last sentence intentionally and watching his reaction.

It was exactly as she'd expected. He lost the slightly shocked, pink-cheeked expression and drew himself up, tugging on the lapels of the ridiculous tweed jacket he insisted on wearing every day, smiling smugly. "Well, Doctor Song, what did you expect?" His ears were still slightly red, she noted with glee – honestly, she enjoyed teasing him far too much than was probably fair.

But they'd never played fair anyway. Where was the fun in that?

"What I expected and what I received were two very different things," she said, raising one leg out of the bath absent-mindedly, letting the warm water cascade off her smooth skin. He glared at her, crease between his eyebrows deepening as he processed her words. She chuckled again, before taking pity on him. "In a good way, sweetie. Trust me."

He chortled smugly again, and River returned her attention to relaxing against the side of the bath.

"Did you have a good day, dear?" he nonchalantly asked her, taking a step forward.

"Hmmm, yes and no. One of the idiot students broke a priceless vase this morning -" John sighed sympathetically. "- and I marked some truly abysmal papers. But I've a feeling my day might just get better now." Her voice dropped an octave and she opened one eye a crack to wink at him. "You?"

"I broke a vial at the lab. A month's work. Martha was furious," he admitted sheepishly. River tutted, unsurprised but compassionate.

"How's the sonic going?" she asked, reaching forward to scrub lightly between her toes, careful to ensure he could only see her back, grinning naughtily when her face was out of sight.

"Good, good," he said, sounding momentarily distracted. She heard him take another step forward. "I'm bloody exhausted, though. Could do with some relaxation."

She smirked at his suggestion. "Well, you ought to have a bath. Terribly calming things, they are, I assure you." Swiveling her head, she smiled suggestively at him, wiggling her eyebrows as she surveyed him top to toe.

He nodded, mock-sage expression playing across his face. "That sounds like a good plan."

"A very good plan," she agreed. He waited and she almost rolled her eyes again. "Come on." Her hand patted the thick bubbles atop the bubbly water, sending little ripples out across the tub. "Get a towel and jump in. Mind you, I'm not sure how … relaxing it'll be."

She laughed as his jacket hit the floor in record time, followed hastily by his shirt and trousers. He carelessly threw one of their deep blue towels on the stool where her own sat, motioning for her to move over. She did so, smiling at him as he disposed of the last vestiges of his clothing. He sighed at the warm temperature of the water, sliding into the bubbly bath contentedly, folding his long limbs and wrapping one arm around River's shoulder as she leaned into him.

"Mmm," she breathed, resting her head on his shoulder and shuffling into him, sliding her smooth skin across his.

"This is nice," he said after a long pause. "I should have a bath more often, I think. Baths are cool. Although only when they're filled with bubbles like this. And maybe a rubber duck – I always wanted one of those-"

"Sweetie?"

"Yes?"

"Either shut up and relax or get out."

"Yes dear."

They lay there happily for a while, River's eyes shut once more and John shuffling every few moments – insufferable fidgeter that he was – trying to bend his long legs into the most comfortable position.

"Are you going to lie still?" hissed River after he sloshed a particularly large wave of water out of the bath and all over the floor.

"You know I have trouble being still. And, to be fair, the way you said relaxing didn't imply a lot of relaxing in the first place," he protested and she smirked in spite of herself.

"Oh, if that's what you want, you should've said."

With that, she leaned over and kissed him hungrily, turning her body until it was pressed into his side and her chest slid across his. He moaned delightedly, running his tongue along her lips, which parted instantly against his. One of his hands ghosted lightly up her back, trailing little white bubbles across her muscles as he pulled her closer and she sighed into him.

Eventually, they broke apart, and he kissed lightly along her jaw while she relaxed back and he leant over her. His lips brushed her ear and she gasped lightly. "Shut your eyes," he whispered quietly, voice low enough to make her shudder. He pulled back and she frowned at him, closed eyes cross at the loss of contact.

Suddenly, a huge glob of bubbles flew unceremoniously into her face. She spluttered loudly, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand only to see John grinning audaciously at her, his hand filled with a dollop of the offending foam. "Oh, I hate you!" she yelled, smacking his arm.

"No you don't!" he replied cheekily, shutting his eyes and bringing his arms up to shield his face instantly as he waited for a torrent of bubbly water to suddenly dump on his head.
None came.

Instead, River quickly slid away from him, standing up rapidly and letting the water cascade down over her body as she stepped elegantly out of the bath, toes curling into the soft mat. She didn't turn around, knowing he was probably appreciating the view perfectly well on his own. Picking up the towel from the stool, she draped it around her body – deliberately slowly. She heard him make a noise somewhere between satisfaction and irritation, and she knew she had his undivided attention.
He would so pay for those bubbles.

Slowly and lazily, she began to towel herself dry, rubbing her shoulders lightly and moaning just to frustrate him. She let the towel drop to a tantalising level before yanking it back up again, much to his obvious chagrin. She smirked again, out of his sight as she caught the last droplets of water on her shoulder.

Finally, wrapping herself up and knotting the towel at her chest, she turned to face him. "Something wrong?" she asked innocently, wide eyes laughing at him.

"No. In fact, I was just thinking I'm quite done and relaxed now – ready for something else, perhaps."

Her eyebrows rose at him. "Oh really?"

"Yes, really," he said, pulling the plug and standing up hurriedly.

She eyed him up and down, mouth twisting into an amused line. He stepped towards her, reaching for the towel lying on the stool, but before he could reach it, she twisted around and grabbed it, flicking it out of his arms' width.

"River! That's my towel!" he said indignantly, making a wild grab for it as she darted out of his reach and over to the door.

"Well then, you'd better come and get it, sweetie," she taunted, sing-song voice laughing. He made another lunge towards her, but she was already off and running, out the bathroom door, down the hall and into their bedroom, fast and graceful as ever. She could hear his wet feet slapping on the floor behind her, and she made a dive for the bed, shrieking madly with mirth. He jumped on top of her, pinning her down. She made a last-ditch effort to beat him, throwing the towel across the room, where it landed messily on the dressing-chair.

"Eurgh! You're all wet! Get off me!" she demanded, laughing.

"Never!" he declared, seizing her waist and turning her over so she looked up at him. She was panting heavily from all the laughter, smiling up at him breathlessly. His hair was standing half on-end, but still flopping ridiculously into his eyes.

"I'm still mad at you," she insisted, attempting to look stern. "No funny business until you apologise."

"I'm sorry," he said, blatantly not.

"Liar."

"You love it."

"I do not!"

But then his hands were at the towel's knot and she forgot all about everything as he worked.

"Do," he insisted, mouth brushing at her ear once more.

"Maybe a little," she breathed. "Now shut up."

He complied, tossing her towel carelessly across the room.

"Now, Doctor Song, what were you saying about relaxing?"