So…I caved. Are you happy? This is the sequel to my previous story, It Can Come Back. After so many people asked for one, I realized there were still places I could go with it and the characters. Plus, nearly all the multi-chapter stories I write seem to include multiple companions, and it'll be nice not to have to reintroduce them all over again for once. I was originally going to write this story as a stand-alone fic, but figured it was simpler to tie it in with my previous story.
A LOT of the inspiration for this idea, however, came from Starling-Night's brilliant oneshot "Let Her Under Your Skin, Into Your Heart". You should totally read it by using this link:
www. /s/8565559/1/ Let-Her-Under-Your-Skin-Into-Your-Heart
Remove the spaces, copy and paste it into a new tab, and read it. It's awesome. Seriously, go do it. Right now.
At any rate, this fic picks up not directly after the end of It Can Come Back, but sometime after it (because, frankly, I could not describe with written words the awesomeness of that field trip). Hope you enjoy the sequel!
Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock
"River, run!" Her ragged breath was puffing out in visible clouds before her as the icy air seemed to stab into her lungs. Still, she kept on, knowing slowing wasn't really an option at the moment. If anything, she needed more speed.
Up ahead, his long legs were working to their advantage for once as he covered more and more ground over a shorter period of time. That was perhaps a good thing, because then maybe he wouldn't notice if she just turned back and shot off a warning round or two—
He'd skidded to a halt in the snow, slipped and slid his way back to her, and snatched up her hand. "I said run, not shoot, dear!" Their pursuers were catching up now, and so even as they started sprinting once again, she fired off two shots into the cavern's icy ceiling, causing snow, ice, and rock to fall down into the path behind them, blocking the way.
"I know, honey, but running doesn't work so well when they have sledges!" She retorted. They kept their frantic pace because neither knew if one of the more daring sledge drivers might try to jump her makeshift barricade.
But at the snap of his fingers, a staccato sound that echoed through the whole cave, she knew there was nothing to worry about. They were safe, they were home. The TARDIS, parked just where he'd left it, waited with open doors to welcome her beloved pilots. Ever the gentleman, he ushered her in first and then slammed the door shut behind them.
River Song stood with her hands braced on her knees a moment, needing time to gain her breath. She lost it all again the moment she looked at him.
The Doctor's back was plastered to the door, arms flung out wide, and chest heaving as though he'd never had air before in his life, eyes popped open to a comical degree as he met hers. And River promptly burst into laughter, she just couldn't help it.
"River. River, that was not funny!" He scolded, still not moving from the doors. Like if the TARDIS couldn't keep them safe, he could. Silly man.
"I'm sorry, my love," she managed, straightening and schooling her features into an apologetic smile. "But you really can't blame them for overreacting to someone with an above-average body temperature in an ice-world."
"Their queen wanted to use me as a space-heater. A space-heater!" The Doctor repeated indignantly, relaxing his body a bit as their seemed to be no imminent threat, but still keeping his arms held out.
River chuckled a bit as she stepped toward him. "I think the term you're looking for, Sweetie, is bed warmer." She trailed one cool finger down his chest, which felt like the outside of an oven while something was cooking inside. "And you're rather good at it," she added, taking delight in the way his cheeks, already a rosy pink from their time out in the cold, flushed a deep red. Tilting her head to the side, as though considering, she eventually shook it with a smirk, "And I'm not willing to share."
"Well- that's—I mean, we're- you and I—" He stammered quite adorably, and oh it was just too easy. As he spoke, River wound her arms around his neck, gently pulled his head down to meet hers, and pressed their lips together. The Doctor's arms hung limply in the air a moment, completely caught off guard, before wrapping around her lower back.
It was tender and almost chaste, and feeling warmed completely from head to toe, she pulled back to see the frown gone from his face. Instead, he smiled at her gently as one hand rubbed up and down her back, leaving a trail of heat in its wake. She could still do with some warming up then.
River nuzzled him with her cheek, tucking her head under his chin and drawing as close as possible. She was beginning to suspect he was doing it on purpose, ramping up his own temperature to get hers back to normal. "Thank you, Sweetie."
Her husband said nothing, and she was sure if she looked he would have his face buried in her curls, eyes shut and a contented smile on his face. This was her time, her way of showing him that it was ok, the danger had passed, no one needed saving, and that he could stop running for just a moment. That was one of the many, many reasons the Doctor needed company, or he'd run himself ragged, Raggedy Man.
But she enjoyed the running just as much. With a sigh, he pulled back and grinned. "Right, so this trip wasn't the best," he skipped up the steps to the console. The Old Girl hummed as he began pulling levers and pushing buttons, taking off. "Where do you want to go next, Professor Song?"
River smiled and walked up the stairs to join him, even as she shook her head. It seemed he had forgotten, or chosen to forget, again. As his fingers hovered over the keys to input coordinates, she raised one of her own in a chastising way. "Ah, ah, ah. Doctor, it is my turn to drive," she reminded, watching him literally deflate.
"But, River," he protested, such a child, but she refused to back down. This was their agreement, as it was the only way to compromise. They took turns picking destinations and piloting the TARDIS, and while she was sure he knew far more places to go then she, her perspective as an archeologist was just as valuable in finding good ones.
"No buts, Doctor," she told him firmly, guiding him over to the pilot's chair and pushing on his shoulders until he sat down. The Time Lord pouted as moved about the console, looking away any time she glanced at him, which probably explained his surprise at suddenly finding himself with a lapful of his wife.
"R-River!" He squeaked, but didn't protest when she kissed him again. He was just too endearing to resist, the daft old man. His hands were cupping her face when she leaned back.
"We don't have to leave right away," she pointed out. She would be perfectly content to just float in the vortex with her husband and their ship. The only other thing she could ever ask for were her parents. But, it was for the best they weren't here in this exact moment.
The Doctor, meanwhile, looked at her with concern. "Are you tired, River? Sorry- I forget sometimes, you're part-human, too." But she shook her head to placate his worries.
"No, I'm not tired," she told him, before her lips curled up in a wicked smirk. "Not yet."
His brow furrowed in confusion. "Not yet?" he repeated, "What do you—" She cut him off once again, but he didn't really seem to mind, burying his hands in her hair as she made quick work of his bowtie. She probably would have kept going if the Doctor had frozen beneath her, broken away, and leaned his head to the side to look over her shoulder at the console, dazed.
"The phone…" he said incredulously.
"Yes, dear. It's a phone, it rings." But he was still looking at it, and his hands slowly fell away from her hair. "You never answer your phone," she accused, aware it sounded just a little immature. At last he looked at her, and his eyes were completely serious.
"That's not just any phone." She found herself lifted into the air, spun about, and unceremoniously plopped into the pilot's chair before she could blink. He was rooting about the console for something as the ringing continued. "Aha!" He exclaimed triumphantly, grabbing up a cell phone and flipping it open. "Martha?"
He asked it with a smile on his face, but inside the Doctor felt rather anxious. Because while he was incredibly happy to receive a call from Martha Jones, it usually meant that something bad was about to happen. Still, he owed it to her to do whatever she asked, interruptions of time with his wife aside.
"Sorry, this isn't Martha," an unfamiliar female voice replied, sounding quite tense. "This- this is Dr. Charlene Griffiths, UNIT's medical department. I've worked with Dr. Jones."
"Oh," he said, feeling more than a little disappointed and glancing sheepishly at River who had her arms crossed over her chest. "Well, what can I do for you, doctor?"
"I'm stationed at Moorfields Eye Hospital, sir, and—"
"Oh, none of that 'sir' nonsense, Charlene," he couldn't help but interject. Honestly, you would think for an organization that supposedly worshipped the ground he walked on, its members would listen when he told them not to do something.
"Yes," she chuckled shyly, "well, I was put in charge of some biomedical research and- the readings are just- I can't really account for them, but they're alarming."
"Alarming?" He repeated, "How so?" River rose from the chair in mild interest.
"Well, uh," she seemed to be floundering, so he decided somewhat impatiently to cut to the chase.
"Alright, well if it's so bad you had to call me, I better hop to it, then. What day is it?"
"The twentieth of March, 2:30 pm" she informed him before seeming to hold her breath. "You're really coming?"
"Of course I am," he replied, hoping to give her some measure of relief through the phone. Poor girl sounded on the verge of some kind of nervous breakdown. "Be there in just a minute." He snapped the phone shut and placed it down, twirling over the typewriter.
"And just what 'of course' are we doing?" River asked, following him around the console.
"UNIT's having some trouble with readings. They've probably found something they shouldn't have and poked it with a stick, good old UNIT," he grinned at her, but she didn't seem to be warming up to the idea. "I do sort of owe them a favor," he tried, "and it'll be fun!" She continued to frown at him and he scratched at his cheek a bit before entering in the new coordinates. "The third moon of Styraxi will be there any other day- good choice, though."
It was the wrong thing to say, for she gave an angry huff accompanied with a stamp of her foot. And people said he was the immature one. "You think you're so impressive when you do that. You're impossible!"
"I can't help it, Styraxi has unique coordinates, I just noticed!" He defended as she stormed off to the wardrobe, presumably to change out of the thick parka she'd worn for their last trip. "River!"
"And you can say hello to that Colonel Mace for me!" She called down the corridor, and he heard a door slam. That confounding woman, could he help it if he'd thought Martha was in danger and was now obligated to see to some interesting if not potentially dangerous thing? He sighed, looking forlornly up at the time rotor.
"Oh, what do I do, Sexy?" She gave a tiny, short hum in response, both scolding and encouraging. "Apologize? I don't even know what I did! And why are you on her side?" He demanded, but the TARDIS gave a violent shake, throwing him headfirst into the pilot's chair, his ship's way of telling him that they'd landed, but he better do as she said.
Defeated, the Doctor cast a glance over his shoulder at the front door, almost tempted to simply run out there into the next adventure. But that wouldn't be fair to his wife.
"River?" He called tentatively, reaching the wardrobe door. It was locked, and he pulled out the sonic- but no, best not, that'd just make her even madder at him. Two psychopaths stuck in a little blue box, they were bound to have spats every once in a while. "I'm sorry. I know I don't often answer my phone, but I did, so now I have to see it through. Maybe it's good we're back on Earth." He leaned his back against the door and kept talking, like she was just behind him listening and not keeping him out.
"We could stop in and see your parents, do something fun together. And Donna- I'll bet you'd love to travel some with Donna, River. You two could make fun of me all the time, along with Pond…not sure who's side Rory'd be on. It's probably not that big a deal, this UNIT thing, won't take that long." Still nothing. He pushed off the door, licked his lips, and tried not to let the hurt enter his tone. "So I'll just be…going now…if you don't want to come…River?"
Oh, what was he doing? For all he knew, it really was something dangerous and Dr. Griffiths was dead because he was too busy trying to get back into his wife's good graces. With the tiny comfort of at least he'd tried to accompany him, the Doctor spun on his heel and exited the TARDIS.
"Oh my- oh my God, it's you. It's you!" A fairly young man, early thirties at the latest, with spiked hair and wire-rimmed glasses stood gaping at both him and the TARDIS. It seemed he had landed outside the hospital.
"Ehm, yes," he said, unnecessarily patting the closed door of the police box. The man's eyes followed that movement, and it took him a moment to refocus on the Doctor's face. "Listen, uh—"
"Butler, sir," the man said quickly. Hm, he didn't know UNIT had butlers.
"Right. I was sort of expecting a Dr. Griffiths."
"Charlene's waiting for you in the lab," the butler informed him helpfully. They stood there for another minute or so.
"Could you show me where that is?" The human gave a start at his question.
"Of course!" He replied, beginning to lead him away. The butler would stop every few steps, however, to gaze longingly at his ship, and seemed quite reluctant to leave it. The Doctor followed him around to a side door, propped open by a little brick, and down a flight of stairs. The man knocked three times, paused a beat, then two more times and he heard the sound of someone frantically undoing locks on the other side.
"Rich, is it—" A woman with dirty-blonde hair pulled into a low bun at the base of her neck poked her head out and stared at him. "It's you…it's really you." Her wide, hazel eyes started at his boots and slowly swept up his whole body, seeming to drink in the image.
"Charlene, I presume?" He held out his hand, which she eagerly took, but instead of shaking it she examined it, turning it over to study every line of his palm. These two…
"Oh, yes- that's me. Come in, come in!" She yanked the heavy metal door open. Inside, the area was practically Spartan. A desk with a chair on either side, a laptop, and a lab bench with barely any equipment. "So, the uh, readings," Charlene rushed over to the laptop and pulled something up on the screen. "I was cataloguing recent data from the med labs into UNIT's collective database, so that all the records are properly coordinated," she explained in one breath, and he nodded to indicate she should continue. "But there was one entry that was an anomaly."
"An anomaly?" He repeated, going around the desk and crouching down to look at the data himself. It was a standard medical log, with statistics and data aplenty. He frowned at the screen, before looking at her and slowly rising back up to his full height. "Me," he said simply, and her eyes widened as she took a step back, defensive.
"How did you—"
"Oh, come on, Charlene, you think I wouldn't recognize my own file? Of course I'm an anomaly, I'm one of the few alien creatures your organization has done an examination of that wasn't an autopsy." She didn't even flinch at the slight, and his frown turned to more of a scowl. "What exactly was so alarming about my file, anyway? If you have some sort of question, you can ask—"
"Oh, I do have questions, Doctor," and the nervousness was gone from her voice, though she still held herself very tense. "But no one can answer them. Not even UNIT, not even you. They have to be tested." He didn't like the sound of that.
"So you're not even working for UNIT, then?" He asked, mostly rhetorical. "Figures, who has a setup in a basement? Oh I really am getting stupid in my old age, the butler should have been a dead giveaway."
"I'm not a butler, my name is Butler!" The man piped up from quite close behind, and he whirled about on his heel to see the man holding a white cloth out as though he'd been about to reach around and—
"Rich!" Dr. Griffiths snapped, furious at her assistant for giving away his position. Richard Butler had the grace to look ashamed for his blunder.
"That wouldn't be chloroform, would it?" He couldn't help the apprehension from coloring his tone. With the right dosage, the compound wouldn't merely knock him out for hours; it would render him unconscious for days. He backed up a bit, though aware that he was stuck between these two humans.
"Look, I'm just an engineer. I'm just in it for the ship," the man excused himself. As Butler took another step toward him, the Doctor retrieved the sonic from his pocket and brandished it, but didn't activate it. Butler stopped, eyes locked on the device pointed right at him.
"You won't use it, Doctor," the human doctor spoke, quite calm, but when he risked a glance back her he saw she appeared quite on edge.
"Says who?" He challenged, hoping that such a bluff might be enough for them to give it up, let him go.
"I- I've been studying up on you," she replied, putting a great deal of effort into keeping her voice steady and her gaze firm. "It's not even a weapon."
Holding his breath, he rested one finger on the button, watching Richard's fearful expression and begging the other man to crack. But he wouldn't be allowed.
"If you don't wish to participate, that's fine," Charlene spoke, and he turned to her in shock. What did she mean, they were just going to let him leave after they took all that trouble to—
Oh. She'd pulled up something else on the laptop screen. Live security camera footage of the hospital, they must have hacked into the system. River was at the main desk, probably asking about him.
"From what the files say, she'd do just as well," and her voice really shook as she said it, making him wonder if perhaps he still could get control of this situation. But he just couldn't risk it. There had been a desperate gleam in Dr. Griffith's eyes from the moment she had seen him—the way someone would stare at some remarkable piece of technology or creature with fascination. That was the kind of manic gleam that could just maybe surpass anything, any reason or logic, to realize its goal.
The Doctor stared for a long time at the screen, and when his shoulders slumped in defeat, the engineer took that as his cue. The sweet smelling chloroform invaded his nostrils and he immediately began to feel his vision cloud over. A pair of arms steadied him as he heard someone else run from the room. What were they after?...in it for the TARDIS.
Keep her safe, Old Girl, was his last coherent thought, Get her—and you—far away. Please.
She heard his footsteps shuffle away dejectedly after his attempt at reconciliation and nearly flung the door open to call him back. But honestly, she was in the middle of changing and he could stand to learn—oh, who was she kidding?
River Song hurriedly threw on a lightweight jumper—his favorite, because he said it complimented her eyes—and strapped on a pair of heels, walking briskly down the corridor. Not too fast, because she didn't want her husband to think he could always be so easily forgiven, but still hoping to catch up with him in the console room. No such luck.
Stepping out into the almost-spring afternoon, the archeologist turned her head this way and that, searching for the Doctor's easily distinguishable form, but still did not spot him. She supposed he would have headed straight into the hospital, after all, they had come here to meet with some former coworker of Martha Jones.
She entered through the automatic doors and had to wait somewhat impatiently in a line. When she finally reached the front of the queue, a bored-looking secretary didn't even spare her a glance. "How can I help you?"
"Good afternoon," she said as politely as she could manage to the young woman. "I was wondering if I could talk to—" she stopped, and realized she had absolutely no idea who they were supposed to be seeing here. He'd mentioned a Charlene. "Actually, could I see a list of your personnel?" That got the secretary to pay her more attention, but in the disbelieving and wanting to hurt her sense.
"Sure," the human said, taking quite a long while to type and click her way to a personnel list. River tapped her fingers idly on the countertop and tried not to look frustrated at how slow this was going. "Here." The computer screen was turned so she could see, and River quickly scanned the list of names. No Charlenes, not a one. So where did that leave them?
"You didn't happen to see a strange sort of man pass through, did you?" She inquired, not very hopeful but having no other options. "Fairly tall, with a bowtie and—" the sound of the cloister bell cut her off and she blinked.
That had been much shorter than she'd been expecting. "Never mind," she told the girl who'd hardly been listening. If he was using the cloister bell to call her back, that meant he was likely grumpy from his incredibly brief encounter with the organization. It sounded again as she reached the box, and she had to chuckle a bit as she reentered. "Was it really that dull, dear?" River asked.
But no reply came. Curious as to whether he might be sulking behind the time rotor, the curly-haired woman ascended the stairs again and walked around the console. He was nowhere in sight, and as she made a complete circuit of the control panel, the front doors locked.
"What are you doing?" She asked aloud of the ship, hurrying back down and trying the doors to no avail. Was it her imagination or was someone on the other side trying the door handle as well?
"Damnit," a male voice she had never heard before hissed, "he didn't lock it, I know he didn't lock it."
River was about to demand through the door just who knew the Doctor hadn't locked the police box doors, when suddenly the engines groaned and that signature vroop vroop filled the air.
"No, wait!" The unknown man shouted in despair. "It can't just leave, that's not fair!"
She was shouting, too. "What are you doing?" She repeated, racing back to the console and working the controls, attempting to override the dematerialization. But the TARDIS had locked itself up and was already on the way for takeoff, nothing she did having an effect. "He's still out there!" The ship gave a long, pained hum that let her know full well she knew her stolen pilot was not on board. "Where are you taking me?"
River threw every switch, pounded every button, and wrenched every lever in a panicked struggle against the ship she thought of as another parent. The TARDIS shook violently, so much so that she was clinging to the monitor to keep upright. "You can't do this!" She cried, appealing to the ship's love for her. "We've got to help him, we can't just go—" She gave one last tug on the wibbly lever. "Take us where we need to be, Old Girl."
With one last tremor, the TARDIS stopped and fell silent. Afraid of what she might find- for who knew where the ship had finally landed –River consulted the monitor.
They were somewhere safe. They were somewhere far too far away for her liking. And they were somewhere where they could most certainly get help.
The twenty-fifth of March, 11:00 am, Chiswick, London.
So, bit of a crazy opening, I know. The ensuing chapters will hopefully clear things up, but if you have any questions, leave them in a review or private message me. I can't promise updates as fast as my previous story, but I'll try to make them as regular as I can. At any rate, thanks very much for reading this first chapter, and please review!