Woman to Woman


Doctor Who story



"I sometimes just don't understand that man," the voice said sounding through every fiber of the Library's core. All the 'living' images reacted to it, "Perhaps you would explain him to me."

River had been walking in the garden, an exact copy of one that the Doctor had taken her to on one of their so few and oh so precious dates. So many of her memories were here, "Explain who?"

A shimmering image appeared, a woman in a faded and tattered but still flattering Victorian party gown. She was attractive, intelligent, and very much in control of herself. Her brow rose upward, "Don't play games with me my girl."

There was something matriarchal in that tone, something River recognized. "Hello," she said pleasantly, "I was wondering if I'd ever see you…again."

"Then you know who I am," the woman said confidently.

"You're the TARDIS."

"And you're the Doctor's wife, or should I say his other wife." The sweet lips turned into a smirk and the lovely eyes danced with merry mischief.

"Stop," River found herself blushing, something she didn't think possible. "We're not going there."

"Why not?"

"This is like talking to my grandmother about my husband," River quipped. "You're the one who called me the child of the TARDIS, remember?"

"So you see me as your granny?" The image looked a bit amused.

"More or less," River nodded.

"Still, you and I are the only women who really know him," The womanly apparition stated. "And I need someone to talk to. Who better to have a woman to woman heart to heart with than with you, the Doctor's wife."

River contemplated how to address that statement, "You've known him longer," she warned.

The TARDIS in female form snickered, "But you have been more intimate with him." Seeing River's complex reaction she blinked, "Well you have."

"There's intimate and then there's intimate." River argued.

Nodding the TARDIS agreed, "And that is why I came here, because you and I are the only intimates he's really had since I whisked him off all those years ago."

River knew there was no way she could get out of this, the TARDIS had made up her mind and she was not going to be put off. "Well, if we're to have this conversation and it seems we are," she shrugged and motioned toward a sweet little pavilion of white pillars and an ornate dome of white lacey beam-working. It was set upon white stone tiles in a circular form with what appeared to be a spiral pattern inlay. There was a charming picturesque little table set for two, with a lace cloth and white chairs. The table was set with Mimosas and canapés, a most inviting setting. "I say we do so in comfort."

"This is delightful," The TARDIS agreed taking a seat; she raised her glass and saluted River, "To your good health."

River frowned, "That was badly worded don't you think?"

"Not at all," the shimmering image disagreed, "While you are now just an echo, you still have electrical pulses… and I'd like to see them kept intact."

River chuckled, "To your good health," she too sipped the libation.

The woman in the faded gown looked about, "Are you happy here?"

"Happy," River placed her glass back on the table and gazed at the bucolic beauty and serenity she was surrounded by. "No." She shook her head, her wild curls trembled. "No."

"I'm sorry," The TARDIS murmured.

"I am too," River agreed. "But what can you do?"

"I can do a great deal," the other boasted.

River considered following the statement, but changed her mind. "What is it that you don't understand that you felt you needed to discuss?"

"River, don't go defensive on me," The TARDIS cautioned. "I'm not the enemy you know."

"You're not always the friend either," River's voice showed frustration while her features were schooled. "You knew what was going to happen when Rory and Amy 'honeymooned' within your chambers, didn't you?"

The TARDIS offered a wisp of a smile.

River nodded again, this time more to herself, "I thought so…"

"He believed himself to be the last of the Time-lords," the TARDIS lamented. "He was and is wrong… but that is neither here, nor there." The features of the Victorian woman softened, "Perhaps I've seen a bit more than he has, or perhaps I just paid more attention."

"He said he barrowed you," River mused. "And that you barrowed him."

"Nothing of the sort," boasted the other, "I stole him, and that is the long and short of it."

"I don't blame you," River said with soft emotions, "I'd have done the same."

"You did the same," the TARDIS said taking another sip. "You stole his heart, both of them."

"He called me his bad girl," River reminisced.

"He calls me Olde Girl," the TARDIS whispered. "I rather like that."

River lifted her fluted glass and tipped it toward the woman, "To the Doctor?"

The TARDIS echoed the movement and softly clinked the glasses as they touched, "To the Doctor."

"He's an impulsive romantic idiot," River said.

"I'll agree," the TARDIS replied. "But sometimes I do question his choice of companion." She raised a hand, preventing River's protestations. "Not your parents, I completely understood and endorsed them… some of his other choices… I'm still not sure of." She leaned toward River, "Perhaps you could explain them to me?"

River smiled, "Spoilers," she said haughtily.

The Victorian woman turned her gaze elsewhere, "Indeed."

"You are the essence of all time," River suggested. "How is it you still don't comprehend the Doctor and his motives?"

"I am still learning," The TARDIS answered defensively. She lifted one of the canapés smoothly and delicately to her lips.

River frowned, "Grandmother what is it you think I can tell you?"

The TARDIS image smiled, "So you are officially recognizing me as your Grandmother." Her tone registered more than pleasure, there was pride and purpose as well. "Very well then, granddaughter," She folded her arms and stared at the woman the Doctor had married to save the universe and all of time and space. "Tell how to give him peace."

"I cannot," River answered.

"But you know him," The TARDIS snapped.

"Yes," River agreed gently, "I know so much about him, all his faces, all his quirks, all his silly little habits. I know his deepest darkest secrets, and would take them with me to the grave…" She grimaced, "Took them with me to the grave." She corrected herself.

"He should never have buried you here," the TARDIS began tapping her fingers on the table. "He should have brought you home, to me…"

River stared, "Home to you?"

"Your essences' belong to me," the other stood up, her face flushed with frustration and anger and maternal fire. "He should have brought you home."

River shook her head, "He could never live with that."

"Why not?"

"Because for me to be there, but not be there…." River stood up as well, her hands moving to try and explain, "He's not built that way Grandmother, and he's too… human now."

"I wouldn't change that," The TARDIS image acknowledged. "All his travels, all his companions have flushed him out… made him whole again." Her features were soft as she spoke of the man who had 'barrowed' her. "He was a very sad man when he and Susan stole away in me. He thought he'd lost everything, everyone, save for Susan…"

"He even lost her," River lamented.

"Not lost," the other suggested, "More allowed to slip away… to live life on her own terms."

"He said all the Time-Lords are dead," River pointed out.

"What is the first rule?"

River cocked her head to one side and with resignation said, "The Doctor lies."

"You didn't think he was the only mad man with a box did you?" The TARDIS quipped. "My sisters, or at least some of them chose others… men, women, children really, who could benefit from being away from Gallifrey. It's been quite a trick keeping them from bumping into one another."

River chuckled, "I can imagine."

"No," the other said with sadness, "Not even you could do that."

River gave consideration to the conversation, "You knew I was going to be the weapon used against him." The other nodded. "You knew I would go to prison for a crime that didn't actually happen, or at least not as it was reported." Again the Victorian woman accented to agreement. "Why?"

"Fixed points," was the only answer given.

"But Grandmother, couldn't you have warned him?"

"Do you really think he'd have listened?"

River heaved a heavy sigh, and then looked away, "What now? He refuses to come here… he wants to put me away like his other memories."

"Not really possible," the TARDIS proclaimed. "River Song has touched too many of his life streams." She moved closer to the image of River. "You and I are the only constant."

River glanced at the shimmering image. "What are you up to?"

The lovely woman in the faded gown pirouetted slightly, gave the other a knowing smile and said in a satisfied voice just before she vanished, "Spoilers."