AN ~ I'm evil, and WAY behind on my word count for NaNoWriMo (50 000 words in a month! ARGH!) but this just will not leave me alone and before I am tempted to do weird emotional-rollercoaster things with my NaNo novel, I thought I'd better get them out.

This one pretty much all fluff, but now its angst companion piece/sequel Pillars of Sand can be found here: www . /s/8757699/1/Pillars-of-Sand (without spaces)

Pillars of Stone

"Bed? Why do you want to go to bed?" The Doctor was almost affronted. He had so much to tell her, to show her. River, on the other hand, gripped the console railing tightly and tried to muster some energy for her retort -

"To sleep?"

Not one of her more creative, that was fair, but her whole body was wracked with exhaustion. Not emotional exhaustion, no way – if her back and knees would have it she would be dragging the Doctor by the arm through the streets of Melena Five, or sledding across the Ice Deserts of Saade, or trekking through the mountains of Siluria. Being part Time Lord had helped – she had never needed much sleep - but today, finally, the last four solid days of running around after the Doctor were catching up with her aching, aging bones.

"But River!" He was almost whining. He flung his lanky arms to gesture towards the Tardis doors. "The Universe is waiting! There's no time for sleep!"

She smiled endearingly, because it was either that or pinch her temples and shake her head. He was hard work young, but he was oh so adorable.

"In the morning, Sweetie," she requested. She had been concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, inching towards the passageway leading to their rooms, and so her voice had crackled. Instantly, the Doctor stopped blabbering about all the things he wanted to show her, and took a moment to admire his wonderful wife.

She was fighting to stand straight as her entire frame battled the urge to collapse in on itself. Her hands all but clawed at the railing and her legs shuddered every time she put a foot down, after having slid it only a few inches forward, not even all the way past the other foot. She was wearing boots. The Doctor frowned. When had she abandoned her heels? How long had she been with him this time? He thought back. One day? No...a week? It was quite timey-wimey, in a way that he had never really cared to track, except for the sake of his human companions. They could only manage a day or two before...

"River, I am so sorry."

She chuckled, and the effort nearly knocked her legs out from under her. "Let's save those words, shall we? A little bone-tired exhaustion's not going to stop me – we both have a lot worse to live through. For now, I think I'll just..."

She sighed as she lowered herself into the Captain's chair. Leaning forward over her knees, propping her chin up by resting her elbows on her knees, River closed her eyes. She could feel him staring at her with that face – the face that was trying to work out just how bad he should feel. It was a gentle face; slightly bewildered, but so sensitive. She crooked a smile. Bless. That face was one of her favourites – though, granted, she had quite a few, especially on this Doctor. Her Doctor. Holding it in her mind, she felt the soft, feathery touch of unconsciousness beckoning her away from the throbbing of everywhere.

The Doctor knelt in front of his wife, and tried to see through or around her hair, which looked depressingly deflated after four days – yes, he had it now, four whole days – of TARDIS and running and planets and adventures. She was still smiling, a sparkle of tenacity still standing to wash away the guilt had had on standby. She was just tired. Just physically tired, as in just needed a bed. Good. Good.

"W'll don't just sssssit there, sweetie," River mumbled, lowering her arms so that her hands fell, wrists crossed, in such a way that her finger touched his knee. "Take me to bed. There's a good boy."

She chuckled again, fully aware of everything she would have added to that statement had she been able to open her eyes, let alone stand up. The Doctor frowned, baffled, and looked her up and down. River was rather large, now that he thought about it. Not like that – not large large. In fact she was lean. Lean and muscular and powerful. But she was curvy, and...what was that word she had used? Voluptuous. There had been a flick of the hair, and a smirk, because she was like that, she was absolutely yowzah even though he knew she thought she was getting old. He only wondered how she ever expected this gangly body to carry her without snapping.

Bless. That's what she would say. And then she would kiss him somewhere endearing, like the forehead.

The Doctor propped up his wife's delicate, dangling fingers with one hand, and kissed them. Then he stood up, and scooped her from the chair. Watching carefully, so that he would not hit her head on the door-frame or some perform some other very Doctorly feat of giraffe coordination, he manoeuvred her out of the console room as if the whole process were a game of Operation. (Very tricky, that game; only Rory and River had ever won it, much to Amy and the Doctor's dismay.)

As he carried River down the short hallway, he felt the way she fit in his arms. She was fairly weighty, but that just came with being an adult, and being alive. Her tanned, muscular arms draped around his neck, and he imagined that another time he had carried her down these corridors, she had been choking the life out of him with them and, probably, sucking the oxygen from his lungs with her beautiful lips, which even now were resting open just a few inches below his own.

As he lowered her onto the bed, and caught her head before it flopped all the way onto the pillow, he couldn't help but smile at her utterly relaxed expression. She had worked herself to the point of complete exhaustion for him; she – River Song, raised to be an assassin, always with a kick in her step and a gun at her hip - felt safe enough to be completely, utterly defenceless around him. It was just like in Berlin, when she had given him all her lives and then collapsed, scarcely able to breathe – only this time, she had worked herself to this stage over time, totally willingly and without stakes nearly so high, which meant that they were both at a place in their relationship where she felt she could let her walls down. Maybe that's why she had kept running all these days – drawing this time out into as many times as possible.

The Doctor slid onto the bed beside her, and she groaned softly, rolling onto his chest. He rested one hand on her back, twirling circles – sometimes words, sometimes not – and each finger on the other hand found its own knot in her cloud of sandy-blonde frizz. Their breaths fell into unison, and their three hearts took turns, and soon those were the only sounds except the whirring of the Tardis' sleepy engines.