Epilogue:

One Time John Reese Was Glad River Song Showed Up, By Pickwick12

The first time River met John

London, 2016

Something was wrong. Reese could sense it, as if his body had comprehended what his mind hadn't yet assimilated. He looked around the room, from the crystal chandeliers to the flowered carpet and at every face in between. What was it?

Suddenly, his stomach tensed up so much he could hardly breathe. That was it. Around the perimeter of the room, there were three people who didn't belong, three people who were dead. Of course, no one knew they were supposed to be dead except Harold, and through Harold, John. But he'd seen photos of their corpses, and yet here they were.

He wished he'd worn an earpiece like Harold had tried to insist, but for once, he'd foregone it, thinking there was no possible way he'd need Finch's guidance at a routine ceremony without a Number. So much for routine.

John needed help. Big help. He scanned the room again, this time looking for assets and things that would assist him if he needed to fight. That's when he saw the most important one of all. He slipped inconspicuously across the room.

"You look nice this evening." It was true; she did, clad in a bright green sequined dress with mile-high stiletto heels.

It made sense, Reese thought, for her to be here, at a reception where various fortunate individuals would have a chance to meet Queen Elizabeth II. Actually, it made no sense at all, but that was the thing. River Song was always the most likely to be where she was least likely to be.

"Thank you, Soldier," she answered, looking his tuxedo up and down appreciatively, as if she'd never seen him before.

"I take it those three staffmembers are somehow aliens," he said drily, indicating the supposedly-dead figures.

"The man standing next to Her Majesty is, too," River whispered, "the one directing the guests. They're Slitheen, a kind of alien that wears human skin like a suit. They're planning to kill the queen and take over the palace tonight."

"That's a…delightful thought," said Reese.

"But how did you know?" asked River.

"What do you mean, Doctor?" asked Reese playfully. "Don't you think I know you well enough by now to expect aliens whenever I see your face?"

"Hush," she said quickly. "Don't tell me any more."

"You mean—" Realization gradually dawned on Reese.

"Come along, Sir," said a posh female voice, and a young woman laid her hand on his arm and led him toward the queen. He bowed his head, as British men did, not because he was a British subject and therefore obligated to do so, but because she reminded him of his grandmother, and he liked her.

Queen Elizabeth took his hand and gripped it for a moment. "Thank you for your service to the Crown. We are most grateful," He smiled and passed on, the moment over.

"You're a regular James Bond," hissed River, meeting back up with him. She had a large goblet in her hand, he noticed.

"I hope you're not driving home tonight," he said.

"Oh, this is only a Coca-Cola, and it isn't for me," she said. "Want to see who it's for?" Reese followed her out of the reception chamber and down a flight of stairs. There were enough guests in the palace that their presence didn't alarm anyone. "The lavatory is this way," said the doctor, putting her hand in Reese's arm and directing him.

"You're taking me with you to the lavatory? I'm not a woman," said Reese.

"You just wait and see, Soldier," she said.

Finally, Reese found himself waiting on one side of the closed door of a bathroom, with River on the other. He could hear voices inside, and after a while, the four Slitheen came out. There was no one else in that particular hallway, a fact about which Reese was especially glad when River stepped in front of the largest one and said loudly. "Show yourself, Slitheen!"

The man was so startled that he started to unzip himself. Unzip himself. Reese had never had a use for the phrase until that moment. The Slitheen's real body was tall and green and unbelievably ugly. It leered menacingly, and he readied himself to fight it if necessary. The other four unzipped themselves as their leader had done and stood still, waiting for his command

"Stand back," said River, and Reese obeyed. He'd learned not to challenge her on things like that. "Now," she said, fixing the Slitheen with a firm stare. "You either surrender, or you face dissolution."

"I'll kill you, filthy timelord," said the tall, green creature, coming toward her aggressively. "Tonight, we take power."

In a moment, Reese was very glad he'd stood back. River threw her goblet of Coca-Cola onto the Slitheen, and they each exploded like popping balloons, except with a great deal more mess. River had known to jump back, so she had only a few specks of green to brush off her skirt, and Reese found that his tuxedo was unmarred.

"Quick," said Dr. Song, "get out of here before anyone comes."

"Coca-Cola," said Reese. "I'd never thought of using that as a weapon."

"It's the acid," said River. "I wouldn't really recommend trying it on your human enemies."

They went back to the queen's reception, and River had her moment to curtsey to Her Majesty and smile like a kitten, when, as Reese well knew, she was much more like the cat that ate the cream.

At the end of the evening, Reese felt the scratch of a sequin brush his hand, and Dr. River Song glided by. "Oh," she said, "what was your name, Soldier?"

"Reese," he said. "John Reese."