A/N: I feel a bit bad for uploading an entirely different story when I'm completely stuck on Namesake, but...oh well, not THAT bad. Just a little piece of fluff that was inspired by listening to Carousel this morning.
If I Loved You
"Where are we going?" River asked almost as soon as she was in the doors of the TARDIS, eyes sparkling. It was usually one of the first questions she put to him; even with a time machine, he didn't like to waste time, so the sooner she found out their intended destination, the more time she'd have to get appropriately dressed.
He grinned at her, already sporting his top hat and tails. "The Majestic Theatre. April 19th, 1945."
River's face lit up hopefully. "You're taking me to see a show, then?" she asked, keeping her voice light; she adored the theatre, had adored it even as Mels, and in her timeline, he hadn't yet taken her to see a play. Best not to get her hopes up too far, though; for all she knew, he could be taking her to investigate a mysterious presence of –
"Carousel," he responded, interrupting her thoughts. "Opening night. One of Rodgers and Hammerstein's greatest successes. Do you know it?" She shook her head in response, and his grin widened. "Actually, neither do I, not more than factually. Haven't seen it yet."
Her grin widened, as well; he was always trying to find outings for them that were a first for both, bless. She ran lightly up the steps, paused briefly to kiss his cheek, then disappeared quickly to find the wardrobe.
The TARDIS was parked when she emerged ten minutes later, dressed in an elegant, strapless, deep blue dress, fitted in the bodice and flowing in the skirt, with white opera gloves and a matching white wrap. Her hair was piled artfully atop her head, diamonds glittered around her neck and on her ears, and the Doctor couldn't help but be a little impressed at how skillful she was at putting herself together at a moment's notice. Putting on what he hoped was a debonair smile, he held his arm out to her, and they stepped out into the city – first into a dingy back alley that River had seen far too many like in her childhood days, and then a few turns later, the marquee for the Majestic shone in front of them.
"Oooh, can we go for supper afterwards?" River asked, clinging to his arm with one hand while the other pointed a white-gloved finger towards Sardi's across the street.
"Hmm, maybe. If you behave yourself," he replied cheekily, and she gave him her sultriest grin.
"Now, where's the fun in that?"
A few lines of playful banter later, and they were seated in the orchestra, four rows back and directly center. The Doctor was chattering away at her as they waited for the curtain to go up: "Oh, look, there's Stephen Sondheim – just a teenager at the moment – look, he's sitting with Jamie Hammerstein, - oh, and Mary Rodgers, Richard's daughter, she's a few rows over -" He would have kept on talking into the overture, but their neighbors were starting to give them dirty looks, so River hushed her husband.
It was so terribly hard for him to sit still, especially when he was excited, and for the earliest songs, he kept trying to (loudly) whisper facts he'd read about the show in River's ear. Eventually, she gritted her teeth and muttered, "If you don't be quiet, sweetie, we're leaving." He had pouted, but shut up, and actually managed to still himself enough to start getting a bit engrossed in the story.
Things were absolutely fine until halfway through Julie's part of "If I Loved You". The Doctor had been paying attention, of course, but he had just thought of a very interesting tidbit about Agnes de Mille's choreography that he wanted to share with River, and really, he HAD been quiet for a very long time. He turned his head toward her, and the words died on his lips, mouth falling slightly open in surprise; River Song was crying. She was being perfectly silent about the whole thing; green eyes transfixed on the stage, honey skin barely illuminated in the darkness of the house, but he could definitely see tears shimmering on her cheeks. The Doctor turned his face back to the stage and went very still, all except the hand farthest from River, which began tapping his knee very, very quickly as he thought: wife was crying, wife crying didn't happen often, wife was usually all sorts of flirty and sexy and not...not weepy. Of course, he knew, deep down he knew that she cried when he didn't see her; they'd been married long enough for him to figure that out. But now she was crying right here, and he didn't know why, and – oh, the play, must be something in the play, perhaps he should listen to the song and see if that held any clues. Clamping his fidgety hand firmly to his knee, he listened.
There's a hell of a lotta stars in the sky,
And the sky's so big the sea looks small,
And two little people, you and I
We don't count at all.
He smiled at that; it was a sentiment that he and River understood far, far more than any normal humans could. Then again, that couldn't be what made her cry, could it? But maybe – he realized he was thinking again instead of listening, and there was dialogue happening that he wasn't quite paying attention to, so he stilled his mind once more to try and just listen just as Billy began to sing again, and the Doctor immediately recognized it was a repeat of Julie's verse, the one that had apparently made River cry:
If I loved you,
Time and again I would try to say
All I'd want you to know.
If I loved you,
Words wouldn't come in an easy way
Round in circles I'd go!
Longin' to tell you,
But afraid and shy
I'd let my golden chances pass me by!
Soon you'd leave me,
Off you would go in the mist of day,
Never, never to know
How I loved you
If I loved you.
He stole a sideways glance at her; her face was immovable, set, even as tears continued to slowly fall. Of course. Because they didn't say it, not nearly enough, not hardly at all. It was unspoken between them, all hidden behind sexy banter and clever quips and danger and aliens and running as fast as they could.
Suddenly, the Doctor felt something wet on his own cheek, and reached his hand up in surprise; it appeared that he was crying a bit, too. How silly of both of them, sitting right beside one another and crying over the depth of love that they just couldn't find words for. Smiling a little, the Doctor reached over and covered River's gloved hand with his own, squeezing gently. She looked over at him, startled, and just stared for a moment. Then, slowly, she returned his watery smile and adjusted her hand so that it was clasping his in return.
And, for a few brief hours on a brisk Manhattan night in 1945, sitting in the warmth of a theatre that buzzed and crackled with the excitement of a grand opening night, they were allowed to sit and be so much more than two lonely travelers trying to find one another in opposite directions across the universe. They were a man and his wife, so deep in love that words just couldn't be adequate, and just for that moment, neither one was alone.