One Time John Reese Wished River Song Hadn't Shown Up, By Haiza Tyri

The last time River met John

Srebrenica, 2004

A hand fell on his arm. It had red fingernails. He stared at it.

"Darling, I asked you to wait for me." A beautiful face with a mischievous smile looked up at him.

The man someday to be called John Reese sighed inwardly. "I'm sorry, darling. I thought you were just coming." He gave his (false) name to the man at the door and led River Song into the private benefit banquet and auction. "What are you doing here?" he hissed at her as soon as he had a moment.

"Well, you invited me, didn't you?"

"No, I didn't!"

"I could have sworn you did. Oh, well."

"Are you here to steal something?"

She looked wounded. "What ideas you have of me, John."

"Well, you are supposedly in prison."

"Not anymore," she said with quiet dignity. "The man I killed turned out never to have existed."

"So you were framed."

"Oh, no. I killed him alright. Well, sort of. Not actually, in fact."

"Talking to you is like talking to someone from Alice In Wonderland."

"Wait until you meet my husband."

"Why don't you go back to him, then, and leave me alone?"

"Well, I didn't come here for you, John. I came here for the auction."

"Now, listen, River Song. I don't want you shooting anyone. This is a solemn occasion, and it would be a travesty for you to disrupt it. It would dishonor the dead."

"The dead? Who died?"

"River! This is Srebrenica! It's the nine-year anniversary of the massacre. The worst massacre in Europe since WWII?"

River's merry face went serious. "Oh. I didn't know."

"How can you not know? Where have you been?"

"Oh, you know, prison, outer space. Places."

John sighed. "Why are you here?"

"I'm here to find a man. Why else is any woman ever anywhere? Why are you here?"

"You know I can't tell you that. Just don't disrupt anything, please?"

"Disrupt anything? Me?"

Of course she did.

She bid on items she didn't want, always when one particular person, a large, singularly grey man, was bidding on them, staring at him with a particularly hard took and only letting him win the bidding when the price had gone absurdly high. The man kept going greyer and greyer, but he kept bidding. At least there would be plenty of money for rebuilding the school for the children of war survivors the benefit was for, but she was making a spectacle of herself, and of John, too.

And then at last she embroiled him in a mad chase across Srebrenica for the grey man, and shot him, which he didn't take kindly to, though the wound was very slight, and made John lose his own man and get raked over the coals by his superior. At least River found herself a man, he said sarcastically later, when he found she and the grey man had completely disappeared.

Eight years later he learned his own man had been small fish compared to River's man, who was wanted in eight sectors of the galaxy and had come to Bosnia in pursuit of alien artifacts (In Bosnia? he asked) which he intended to use in little massacre of his own. So all in all, John considered, with the wisdom of eight years' hindsight, River had honored the dead fairly well, all things considered. In Srebrenica, however, he slightly hoped he would never see her again. He didn't know that was the last time she would ever see him, though not the last time he would ever see her.