A/N: So uh. I always kind of wanted to try writing smut just to see if I could. And then I had this idea for this fic, and I started writing, and somewhere along the line it became clear that the theme of this story wasn't going to function quite like I wanted it to without a sex scene. So I decided to try writing smut. (p.s. I'm on AO3 now too! username sunflowerb)
Doctor/River, with some mentions of past Doctor relationships. For the Doctor this takes place sometime fairly soon after Berlin, but before "The God Complex". And if the TARDIS can have an observatory, then it can have a room that has a skylight.
First, Always, Again
She had seduced him so casually, as if she had done it a thousand times before.
It wasn't until a long while later he realized that logically, she had.
(It had been such a long time since he'd done this. Years, lifetimes. Never in this body, certainly. And even longer since he could have called it making love. He tended not even to think about such things until the opportunity presented itself. Sure, there had been flings here and there throughout the years, but even those were few and far between. It wasn't something he was comfortable doing with just anyone.
Since the death of his people he'd very nearly shied away from romance entirely. He was the last of his kind, and Noah didn't let loners on the ark. And so he had resigned himself to the idea that things like love and lasting relationships and happiness would forever be just out of his reach.)
He did not sneak out at night to parties with River Song.
For starters, there was no such thing as night on a time machine, so it was physically impossible for him to sneak out at night when there was no night for him to sneak out in. Secondly, he did not sneak. He just happened to choose to go and find her while her parents were asleep without telling them because he didn't see any pertinent reason for them to know.
And finally, it wasn't even just parties, so there.
So if Amy would kindly stop giving him that knowing look and smug smirk at the breakfast table, he would appreciate it very much, thanks.
He remembers them all, and finds that he loved them differently.
The searing pain of grief has long since faded, but the dulled ache she left in that empty part of his hearts still remains when he thinks of her. He'd been wild, even in those early years, and she'd been comfort and stability to balance his madness. It had been such a slow, familiar sort of love. They were so young, and they grew together and matured together, and then fell in love together. She'd simply always been there, and he found one day that he couldn't quite imagine her not. All the years they spent together and still when she comes to mind he remembers how she looked the first day he met her. Standing there, all five feet of her, giving his would-be bullies the dressing-down of all thirteen of their lives.
He'd walked her to her lecture, and then spent the next three months regularly attending a class he wasn't even registered for, just to spend time with her. It meant missing the first half of his TARDIS Piloting class, but how hard could that be, anyway?
Normally he didn't mind when date night turned into adventure night, but this was the fifth night in a row to get interrupted by alien incursion, and he had really been looking forward to just one night of peace with River dancing at a gala at the Ritz. The romantic evening he had planned was now as ruined as their shoes and the bottom of River's dress as they sprinted through the New York subway, trying to outrun both a vicious alien and an oncoming train.
The crash-landed Ulthian Wraq'ri they might have been able to help, had it not decided to blame them for its nest being run over by the 10 o'clock Brooklyn-bound. The far greater concern at the moment, however, was the 11:35 Brooklyn-bound steadily rumbling closer and closer to them. It didn't help that their only light was the sonic screwdriver as the Doctor frantically tried to revive River's vortex manipulator.
The monster howled, and the Doctor glanced behind them to see the beast gaining on them. Light suddenly flooded the tunnel. He grabbed River's arm and flung her into a shallow alcove in the wall and jumped in after her. He flattened them against the wall, covering her body with his own. He heard River's gasp in his ear and the beast's growl directly behind them before the roar of the train drowned out all else. The Wraq'ri's shriek was cut off as the train collided with it and kept going. The Doctor pressed himself and River into the wall, hands braced against the side walls to keep the suction of the passing train from pulling one or both of them out of the shallow indent. After a moment that felt like hours the train passed and the tunnel fell dark and silent again, save for the sound of their own labored breathing.
The Doctor's arms were trembling when he lowered them. River breathed a sigh of relief in his ear and laughed shakily as she wrapped her arms around him. He echoed her laughter and returned her embrace; resting his head in the crook of her neck and pressing a kiss against her shoulder. Her laughter stopped. The Doctor wondered at her breath, suddenly shallow again. With the darkness all around him his other senses heightened and he became aware of multiple things at once. He still had River's body crushed between his own and the wall behind her, and he could feel every delicious curve pressed into him. Her curls tickled his face and every now and again her lips grazed his ear when she breathed. He could smell her perfume, something heady and floral, filling his nose and lungs and nearly making his head swim. He lifted his head and his lips followed the line of her neck up to her jaw and cheek and around until he found her mouth. He'd barely pressed his lips to hers before her tongue was in his mouth and her hands were gripping his shoulders tighter.
The kiss was slow but deep; her mouth and body wonderfully hot against his own. After a moment he pulled away to rest his forehead against hers.
"We should-we should get out of here," River said, panting. "Before another train comes."
"Right." He stepped back from her and took out the screwdriver and vortex manipulator he'd managed to stuff into his pocket before the train came. The glow from his screwdriver filled the small space and he glanced up at her. For a moment he was worried. Her cheeks and neck were flushed and there were beads of sweat along her hairline. She watched him through half-lidded eyes as he frowned at her.
"Are you alright?" he asked as he turned his attention back to fixing her manipulator.
She nodded, never taking her eyes off his face. "I'm fine," she said, though her voice was trembling. Her vortex manipulator fixed, he reached for her wrist and strapped it back on, noting her racing pulse as he did so. She said nothing, just watched him with that same unreadable expression. He turned away and shone his screwdriver around the tunnel until he spotted the broken and bloody body of the Wraq'ri lying between the tracks. The Doctor sighed.
"Couldn't be helped, I suppose," he muttered. "We can come back in the Tardis later and get her. Least we could do is bring her body back to her people."
When River didn't reply he looked back at her and she nodded. She seemed distracted, unfocused. She shook herself and took a deep breath.
"Right. Tardis." She carefully stepped over the track to him, punching coordinates into her manipulator as she went. The Doctor held out his elbow to her and she wound her arm around his, smiling. She tapped her wrist and in a flash they were back in the warm light of the TARDIS console room. The Doctor let go of her arm and bounded towards the console. He stopped when he heard River clear her throat behind him.
"What?" he asked, frowning at her. She still looked flushed, and she was giving him a most mischievous look, her lips parted in an open mouthed smirk.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" she purred. The Doctor pulled at his suddenly too-hot collar. Her voice did things to him when she spoke like that.
"Like-like what?" he asked, clearing his throat when his voice came out at a much higher pitch than he'd intended. "I'm going to get the Wraq'ri right now."
River laughed, her voice low, and stepped up the stairs to meet him, stopping when she was so close he could feel her breath against his lips. "I wasn't talking about the Wraq'ri," she breathed. The Doctor shuddered. "Wraq'ri travelers have transport chips embedded in their brainstems so their bodies can be teleported back if they die while away from home. She'll have been automatically sent back."
"Then pray tell, Doctor Song," he said with a smirk, "What exactly have I forgotten?"
Her eyes glinted and she stepped closer until her breasts grazed his chest. She tilted her head up and their breath mingled. "I think you know exactly wha-" He cut her off, unable to resist her any longer. Her hands slid under his coat and around his waist and his dove into her hair, and the Wraq'ri was completely forgotten.
"Where are you going?"
She glanced over her shoulder at him.
"I'm going to my suite. They've given me a rather nice one. Aren't you coming with me?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Because I'm returning to E-Space in the morning, and you don't really expect me to spend my last night here alone do you?"
(He sometimes wonders if it would have happened without the War.
He'd always been so fond of her, of course he had, but how much did the emotional turmoil of his people's last stand against their enemies affect the feelings he had for her?
No, he thinks. Surely not. Such a deep friendship, such affection and understanding…it was only a matter of time. The War had simply accelerated things. And well, she was always a bold girl. That cheeky smile meeting his flabbergasted frown. That was the common pattern with these women, he realized. They always knew he wanted them before he did.)
He was used to River kissing him. They would come back to the TARDIS, usually running from something, and when they'd caught their breath they'd lose it all over again snogging. Once the Doctor had reached a point of utter embarrassment, he'd take her back to Stormcage, always wondering why she ended such happy nights looking disappointed.
He was not so used to her walking away just when the kissing was getting so nice. She just broke away, smiling softly at him, a look in her eyes he hadn't seen before and could not quite identify. She spun gracefully around the console, pulling levers and flipping switches with deft ease, before pulling the handbrake and parking them safely in space.
And then she turned around and walked away. She stopped midway up the stairs and looked at him. Raising those impeccably groomed brows she asked, "Well? Aren't you coming?"
Coming? Coming where? But she was already off up the stairs, and confused as he was, something about the way the satin swung about her hips bade him follow.
He remained some distance behind her, brain torn between trying to work out where she was leading him and watching the sway of her hips. Distracted as he was he didn't work it out until they were right in front of the door. She was going into his bedroom, he realized, as she paused to open the ornate blue wood door. He followed her in and the door slid closed behind them.
Or at least, it was supposed to be his bedroom. It certainly looked like his bedroom. It was large and circular, with marbled garnet walls and light gold floors; the only light currently coming from the round skylight in the center of the high ceiling. They were spinning slowly in space, orbiting a large red-gold star that cast the room in soft warm light. The Doctor surveyed the room, confused. There to his right was his bed, with its intricately wrought iron headboard, the burnt orange sheets and blue duvet slipping off its round sides just as they had been when he last left it. To his left stood his desk, the top still the same mechanical clutter he'd been working on earlier. On the floor by the closet his shirt and black jeans were where he'd dropped them earlier when he'd changed clothes. But despite all this the room was most certainly not how he'd left it.
He did not remember seeing a large gilded wood vanity against the far wall, nor did he remember the boxes and perfume bottles arranged neatly on its surface. Those may have been his clothes on the floor by the closet, but the clothes he could see hanging on the racks visible from the door were certainly not.
River had her back turned to him, and he looked at her to ask for explanation just as she slid the satin straps off her shoulders.
Her dress hit the floor and the words died in the Doctor's throat.
"Why are they chasing you?"
"Well, I suppose I said something that offended them. But it was the truth, so that ought to count for something, don't you think?"
"So you deserve it?"
"…Irrelevant. Just stop talking to me, if you please. They'll notice I'm hiding here. Today marks sixteen days without someone breaking my nose, and it seems a shame to break that record now."
"Now look what you've done!"
"What? What do you want? Get out of the way, we're busy here."
"Yes. I understand you wish to break his nose?"
"Yeah, and what does that have to do with you?"
"Well it's just that it would be such a pity. It's a rather nice nose. And I daresay we're all getting a bit old for this sort of senseless violence."
"Hey, what do you even-"
"Hush! Don't you know it's rude to interrupt someone when they're talking? Although maybe you don't since you also seem to think it's okay to chase someone around and beat them up. What's the matter with you? This is the Academy! For Rassilon's sakes, show some decorum! You call yourselves Time Lords…"
He felt as if all the moisture had evaporated out of his mouth. He'd never seen so much of River at once. His eyes trailed down the smooth expanse of her back and down over her bum, which was scarcely covered at all by the lacy thing around her hips masquerading as underwear. His gazed followed the line of her strong legs down to her feet and then back up again to see her looking over her shoulder at him with a devious smirk.
She turned around and he gulped. It was a marvel and a mystery that her bra could do such wondrous things for her cleavage while simultaneously covering so very little. Her stomach was smooth and toned, and the curve of her waist and hips as the concave shifted to the convex did things to his body he was ashamed to admit to.
He stared, slack-jawed, as she stepped out of her ruined heels and walked towards him. "River," he began, but she cut him off with a kiss, sliding her arms around his neck and pressing her body into his. His hands rose to her waist automatically, and he couldn't stifle a moan as she ground her hips into his.
There was a sense of urgency in her kiss absent from the ones in the tunnel and the console room. Her mouth was hot and her tongue forceful as it pushed past his lips and curled and licked viciously at his own.
As entirely ungentlemanly as it was, there was so much skin available to him and he could not keep his hands from roving over it. Her back, her waist, her shoulders, her hips and bum…His hands had explored these areas before but never with so little fabric in the way. He wasn't entirely sure if he should be doing what he was doing, but River was so warm and so soft and she was making noises. Little hums and moans into his mouth that sent a trickle of fire down his spine and into the base of his stomach. He wanted to study her. He wanted to squeeze and caress and stroke until he had cataloged her every reaction and categorized them all by sound and site. He wanted to file the knowledge away until he could play her like an instrument; know exactly where to touch to elicit the moan of his choosing.
She tugged lightly on his hair as he kneaded her arse with one hand while the other tiptoed up her spine, counting and caressing each individual vertebra. He skimmed the side of her ribcage with his fingernails and she shivered; her moan vibrating in his mouth.
Her hands slid out of his hair and under his jacket, and as she pushed it off his shoulders he broke away, his frazzled brain trying to work out what exactly was going on and how exactly he felt about it.
He watched as River tossed his jacket away and then reached behind her back to unhook her bra. The material fell away and he felt the heat pooling in his stomach growl at the sight of all that golden skin. Her breasts were as perfect as he could have imagined. (Not that he spent time imagining River's breasts. But he'd noted that they were rather lovely when covered by fabric, so it stood to reason that they must be also be lovely when not covered by fabric.) He opened his mouth to ask what she was doing, but then she was stepping forward again and he forgot what he was going to say.
It occurred to him then, what she was doing, though only dimly, and besides that far more pressing a concern was enjoying her kisses along the underside of his jaw. His hands again found purchase on her hips and he pulled her closer. So nice were the little nips and kisses on his neck that her removal of his waistcoat and cummerbund didn't register as anything more than brief moments where he was forced to remove his hands from their lovely place on her hips.
When she pulled back to loosen his bowtie he glimpsed the dark glow in her eyes before she grabbed at the placket of his shirt and tore it open, sending buttons flying. For a moment he was speechless; because that hardly seemed necessary and he'd rather liked that shirt, but next she was yanking it off his shoulders and down his arms. He meant to protest then, because really, this was entirely inappropriate, but then her skin was all pressed against his, and there was no way he was protesting that.
He moaned into her mouth as she kissed him, a shiver running down his spine at the feel of her breasts against his bare skin. He stumbled backwards until his back hit the wall, and River used it to her advantage by sliding one leg forward and pressing her hips into the front of his already-too-tight trousers. He gasped, and while River let him pull away, she scraped her teeth along his bottom lip in the process. He leaned in to kiss her again but she turned her head away to bite at his neck and he hissed.
The Doctor felt like he had lost the ability to think in sentences; words were replaced by emotions and touch and sensation, like his brain only functioned in terms of where his skin met River's. Physical contact being the only thing he seemed to be able to process, he hesitantly slid his hands up her ribcage, pausing to press his thumbs gently into the sides of her breasts. Her hands stilled on his back and she gasped quietly against his earlobe. Emboldened by her response and brain temporarily offline he pushed her back just enough to slide his hands between them and cup her breasts. He felt her smile against the skin below his ear, and through part of him screamed that this whole thing had gone entirely too far, he couldn't resist squeezing gently and brushing his thumbs over the apex.
He breathed into her curls as River muffled her soft gasps against the shell of his ear. She was entirely intoxicating. He felt lost in the softness of her skin under his fingertips, the heady scent of her perfume, and her glorious low moans in his ear as his thumbs circled her nipples. She gasped as one thumb covered the tip and pressed in.
River's hands had traveled steadily southward and were now splayed against his stomach. Her fingers dipped below his waistband and she scratched lightly at the hollow of his hipbones. He shuddered and broke away, pulling back to look at River who met his gaze with unfocused eyes. She gave him a brief devious smile before deftly unbuttoning and unzipping his trousers, and for a moment a trill of terror overtook the heat coiling in his groin.
"River," he gasped, "River, this is, I mean, not that I don't, I just, we should—oh god." And then her hands were in his pants and he choked on his words. His head hit the wall as his eyes rolled back in his skull, and for a moment all he could do was stare at the ceiling as River's hands explored parts of his body long-neglected.
This was River.
His eyes met hers again, and as he watched the devilish curl of her lips he asked himself for the first time why exactly he was fighting this.
It wasn't as if he didn't want to. There was no denying that he did; the evidence was rubbing pleasantly against the palm of River's hand.
Perhaps it was because he'd almost always been on auto-pilot in situations like this. He'd turned down more than a few girls over the years; ephemeral human girls with their short lives and fragile hearts. What else could he do? He could never be what they wanted or needed, so there was no point in making it harder on either one of them. When he had indulged in simple, one-time flings, he'd done so with the understanding on both sides that it was just that: a simple, one-time fling. (Well, except in the case of Liz the first. But that had been a case of spectacularly bad judgment on his part and was more the exception that proved the rule than anything else.)
But River wasn't any of those things. She was definitely no simple fling; he was already in too deep for any intimacy with her to be deemed casual.
She was no starry-eyed human girl who could never reconcile him with her ordinary everyday life. If anyone could handle the inherent madness that came with having him in her life, she certainly could. She'd already proved that. And yes, he knew his time with her was still limited; he had still seen her death, but while running from her had once seemed like a way to spare himself misery and pain, now it only seemed like wasting what precious time they had together.
And of course he'd already tried running from her. He'd run and run and fought tooth and nail in an attempt to avoid who she was to him and the inevitable heartbreak that would bring. But all his running had only brought him right here: staring at a woman he adored more than anyone else in the universe as she stood before him in next to no clothing, looking at him with so much love and desire he could have melted into the floor.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt like this about anyone. He couldn't remember the last time he'd wanted anyone like this. Despite his best efforts he had fallen head over heels in love with River Song. She was intelligent, she was witty, she was adventurous, she was kind, she was mischievous, she was as mad as he was and possibly madder. She was also beautiful and alluring and sexy as hell and made him feel things and want things he had not actively wanted in a very long time.
And he'd been trying to turn her down.
"Oh, to hell with it," he muttered, and glimpsed the momentary confusion on River's face before he pulled her close and kissed her just as hungrily as she'd ever kissed him.
"You have no idea," River said between kisses as he helped her divest him of his trousers and pants, "The self-restraint it took me to keep from taking you in that tunnel." The Doctor grinned against her mouth. He didn't doubt that she would, and to his surprise found the notion oddly thrilling.
He stepped back to pull off his trousers and pants and toe off his socks and shoes, not caring how scuffed they got in the process. "Bit of an exhibitionist, Doctor Song?"
River smirked, her eyes glinting as she raked them over his naked form. He'd have thought he'd be embarrassed, but something about her appraising gaze made it difficult to feel anything but smug. "Only for you, honey," she purred.
Oh, and her voice just then seemed to pour through his veins like liquid fire. He wished he'd bothered to flirt with her more just to hear more of that delicious tone. But by now there wasn't enough spare blood for his brain to come up with charming quips, so instead he answered her with a grin and a snog. She grabbed his hips and pulled him closer to her again and he groaned at the friction. She was steering him somewhere—towards the bed, probably, though he'd have been okay with the wall—but it was hard to say as he wasn't paying very much attention to his feet. How could he, when River's curls were wound around his fingers, and he could feel her skin against his, and her hands had an exquisitely frightful grip on his hip bones?
River suddenly broke away, and he glimpsed the wall she'd had him against behind her, and wondered briefly when she'd turned him around, before she was shoving him hard in the chest and he fell back onto the bed behind him. He scrambled backwards, kicking away the lumpy mess of blankets and propped himself up on his elbows. He watched, entranced, as River slid that skimpy lacy thing pretending to be clothing down her legs. Really, what was the point of a garment like that? It hardly covered anything; it didn't look particularly comfortable; surely she'd be better off wearing nothing at all rather than that—
The Doctor's thoughts broke off and all the air was expelled from his lungs because suddenly River was wearing nothing at all. She straightened up and smiled at him as he gaped at her. He wanted to say something. He wanted to tell her that she was beautiful, that she was magnificent, that there was not a single flaw to be found on her whole form. He wanted to tell her that she was the most glorious thing he'd ever known.
But his throat had closed up, and all he managed was an awed, "River."
He wondered if her hearts were pounding as hard as his were as she climbed onto the bed and hovered on her knees above him. Her hands were soft on his shoulders as she pushed him back down and drug her palms down his chest. He felt suddenly self-conscious. He was terribly out of practice at this, surely, and with anyone else it might not have bothered him as much, but this was River, and it had been so long since he'd done this and—
Oh. Oh. It had been far too long since he'd done this.
He threw his head back and his hands rose to grip her hips on instinct as she sank down on him. For a moment all he could do was hold her tightly to him and relish the feel of that wet heat wrapped around him. His eyes opened and found River's; they radiated with such love, and he wondered if she saw half as much love in his. He certainly hoped she did.
Her hands settled over his and he loosened his hold enough that she could begin to move. She felt wonderful, and he lost himself in the hot rush of skin as she rolled her hips over his. His hands roamed up her waist and over her ribs but it wasn't enough. There was so much River and so little of her touching him.
He growled and pushed himself into a sitting position with her in his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight as he bucked his hips into hers. He kept their rhythm slow; it had been so long and he was in no hurry. It was the first time in ages, and the first in this body and the first with River and he wanted to savor every moment.
The Doctor buried his face in the crook of River's neck and breathed in. Beneath the floral perfume he could smell her, and he darted out his tongue to taste. His tongue skittered along her collarbone, and she stretched back, giving him access to kiss his way down her sternum. He could taste the tang of time on her and the musk of the air after a summer storm, mixed with a warm sweetness not unlike honey.
She gasped and yanked on his hair as he took a breast in his mouth. His tongue laved over the stiff red bud until it softened and hardened again. They had spun away from the red star outside, leaving the room dimly lit in the cool blue light of space. In the near darkness it looked as well as felt as if he and River were one. And yet it still wasn't enough. It was frustrating; this body was still so new to him in many ways. He wanted something, needed something, but he wasn't sure what that was beyond River and the need to be as close to her as he possibly could.
"Doctor!" she shrieked, and laughed in his ear as he pulled her down onto the bed and rolled on top of her. Her legs wrapped high around his waist and he groaned into her hair at the angle that allowed him. He pressed her into the bed, her body molding perfectly to his. She fit him; every curve and angle perfectly aligned, like she was made for him or he was made for her or maybe they were both made for each other.
A thought occurred to him and the Doctor pressed his forehead to River's and reached out with his mind. When hers opened to him it was like diving into an ocean of swirling colors and lights, and for a moment he stilled at the beauty of it. Now this, this he hadn't done in centuries. It was far too dangerous with humans, but with River he could open his mind and let it pour and swirl into hers. There were still walls in place; secrets and spoilers locked behind closed doors, but the rest of her was laid bare to him. He could have drowned in her; in her personality, her thoughts, her emotions. She was everywhere and nowhere at once. Their minds melded together like their bodies and he breathed her name in awe.
There was nowhere else in all the universe he'd rather be. All of time and space at his disposal and this was where he knew he most belonged: tangled so completely with River that he couldn't tell where he ended and she began.
He sensed the growing urgency in his movements first through her mind. His strokes were becoming more erratic, more desperate. River shifted her legs higher around his waist and they both moaned as he thrust deeper. Her nails dug into his shoulders and she cried out as her thoughts dissolved into eddies of colors and sounds, at the center of which was his voice, hoarsely calling her name over and over in time with the frantic collision of their bodies. And then she whispered his name in his ear, his true name, and he toppled over the edge of the universe with her.
"It's not really your last night here, is it?"
"Hoping for more like this one?"
"Well, I, that's not-I mean to say-not that I wouldn't like to, you understand-I just meant-"
"Oh come now, you have an easier time getting my full name out of your mouth."
"I just mean that you are coming back, aren't you?"
"Of course. I'm only going back for reinforcements, not forever."
"No, I mean after. After the war, should we all actually survive. When they all go home…are you going with them?"
She was silent for a long while.
"I don't know. Probably. I've been gone so long…I don't know that I've really got anything left in this universe."
"…you've got me."
She smiled at him, and he marveled how this face always looked so young when she smiled, even with the lines that had begun to show around her eyes. "And so I have."
She kissed him again and settled her head on his chest. "I'll think about it. It's a lot to ask of a girl, you know. But I promise I'll let you know when I get back."
(And then she flew away, and the walls between the dimensions snapped shut behind her.)
They had rotated back around to face the burning red star by the time his head cleared and he collapsed beside her. Warm light had started to filter back into the room, and with it, the Doctor's capacity for coherent thought. The first of which was that that had been the best sex he'd had in ages. The second: he'd just had sex with River Song.
He'd just had sex with River Song.
He stared at the ceiling as River reached down to pull the duvet over them before curling herself into his side with a contented sigh and a giggle. "Sweetie, I don't know what has gotten into you, but I have to say I wholeheartedly approve."
Holy Hand of Omega, he'd just had sex with River Song.
"Sweetie?" River propped herself up on her elbow to look at him. He glanced at her, and then back at the ceiling.
River frowned. "Processing?"
He looked at her. "Yes. You, me, this." He waved a hand awkwardly between them and then took to looking at the ceiling again. "This is a thing that we do. This is part of our relationship. Okay."
When River didn't answer he looked back to see her frown had grown. "Doctor," she began, "Have we…have we not…done this before?"
He shook his head. River's eyes widened and he became aware that this was probably not the most reassuring thing to be hearing post-coitus, and he hastened to explain. "Not that, not that, you know, it was an unpleasant experience or anything. I mean that was, that was, that was," he gave up on a word and settled for a high pitched giggle.
River continued to stare at him like he'd grown an extra head. For a moment the Doctor worried that perhaps she feared that this first for him was a last for her, but his future self must have given her some advance reassurance, because to his relief she merely blinked and said, "Well. That explains an awful lot, actually."
The Doctor frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
She smiled and started tracing lazy circles on his chest. "Well, first you seemed really hesitant, and then you were so eager." The Doctor felt a blush creeping into his cheeks. "And so dynamic tonight!" She giggled, watching him turn redder and redder. "I mean, three positions, and your hands all over the place; it's like you just couldn't decide what you wanted to do with me."
He looked away. "Yes. Well." He reached up to straighten his non-existent bowtie in an attempt to salvage what was left of his dignity. "It's…been a while," he muttered.
River caught one fumbling hand in hers and kissed it, laughing. "Must have been. How long's it been? Sometime in the last century, at least?"
The Doctor scoffed and tried to glare at her, but he couldn't resist smiling at her when she was looking at him like that. "Now, I am not that out of practice. Why is it that everyone thinks that just because I'm old, I'm celibate? It's been sometime in the last decade, at least. Five years, give or take. Last body, anyway."
River's eyes lit up. "Last body, really? So I'm the first one to get my hands on this version." She looked so bemused by the idea, and the Doctor couldn't deny he found it a bit thrilling himself. He liked the idea of River being the only one to ever know this body in this way. "So," she drawled, tracing Property of River Song into his chest with her finger, "Who had you last?"
He grimaced. "Don't laugh. It was not one of my finer moments."
"Oh sweetie, you know better than to ask that of me."
He suppressed a smile and looked away from her. "Queen Elizabeth the first."
River laughed. "No wonder you were so eager!" she said, grinning at him. "The last time you bed someone you were deflowering the Virgin Queen!"
"Ah, ah, ah!" The Doctor propped himself up on his elbow, grinning excitedly, and held up a finger. "I did not deflower the Virgin Queen."
"But you just said-"
"I know what I said." River raised an eyebrow at his cheeky grin. "I'm not saying I didn't sleep with her. I'm saying that I did not deflower the Virgin Queen."
"Oooh." He could see the spark of interest in River's eyes. Archeologist. "I knew it. There's so much conflicting historical evidence I always wondered. So who was it, then? Robert Dudley? Don't tell me it was Thomas Seymour. Poor child suffered enough at his hands."
"No, no, no; definitely Dudley. She was all set to marry him after his wife died until I came along." He frowned and settled on his back again. "You know I don't know if I should be insulted that our tryst put her off the idea of sex forever; guilty because my breaking her heart put her off marriage for the rest of her life; or proud, because my breaking her heart contributed to the creation of one of the greatest monarchs in England's history."
River snorted derisively. "What about humble, since you may not actually have factored into the decision at all?"
He looked away. "Well. I suppose there's that too." When he looked back at River she was smiling softly, lying on her stomach with her head propped up on her hands. "I suppose I'll have to be happy with making one of the greatest women in history my wife and mortal enemy in the space of twenty-four hours."
River laughed and pecked him on the lips. "You seem to have a habit of that."
The Doctor's stomach dropped. That wasn't meant to be a spoiler, was it? "What do you mean by that?"
She shrugged, looking unperturbed. "Well, I seem to recall lying on a slab of wall in Hitler's office with someone promising to marry me if I stayed alive." The Doctor relaxed.
"Well," he smiled and bopped her nose. "I seem to recall someone saying they weren't a wedding person and then running off without taking me up on that offer. Probably for the best, seeing as I was dying and your parents would never have approved." The smile dropped off the Doctor's face and he sat bolt upright, his eyes wide. "Your parents," he breathed. He scrambled out of bed and promptly tripped over the sheets on the floor. When he got to his feet again River was curled up and gasping for air. "What are you laughing at?!" he demanded. "River, your parents are gonna kill me!"
River struggled to catch her breath. "Sweetie, calm down. If they haven't killed you yet they either don't suspect or they do and they've accepted it. I'm a big girl capable of making her own decisions, after all." She reached out a hand towards him. "Now stop panicking and come back to bed." When this didn't seem to ease his fears she sighed and rolled her eyes. "Fine, then." She stretched out languorously, and the Doctor gulped. "But you know," she smirked at him, "If they're going to kill you for shagging me anyway, then it's really just a choice between dying for shagging me once, and dying for shagging me more than once." She shrugged and looked away from him in feigned nonchalance. "I mean I know what I'd choose, but you're free to do whatever you-"
He chooses not to let her finish her sentence.
"Does it need saying?"
(Of course it bloody well does, He told himself later, alone in his ship. It always needed saying. And he could never seem to gain the courage to say it until it was far too late. One day, perhaps, he'd learn to stop making that mistake.)
"236, dear god. I think five years of celibacy would do me in."
"Well, it was my first couple of centuries as a widower. It took a long time before I was comfortable with the idea of a new relationship."
He looked away as he said it and River wrapped her arms around him a little tighter and the shadow in his eyes quickly passed. He shot her a smile and she smirked at him.
"A relationship isn't a necessary prerequisite for sex, sweetie."
He rolled his eyes and lazily stroked her bare shoulder. "Maybe not where you come from."
"Not so open-minded on Gallifrey?"
He hummed and ran his free hand over the swirling gold circles on the duvet cover. "Too open-minded, more like." At River's look of confusion he clarified. "You've been with humans as well as with me, you've seen the difference. For Time Lords it's mental as well as physical. Especially on Gallifrey, where the psychic connection was so much stronger, it was practically unavoidable for something like that. Letting someone know your body intimately is nothing compared to letting someone know your mind intimately." River nodded.
"Couldn't you just throw up mental blocks?"
The Doctor shrugged lightly, careful not to jostle her. "Well you could, yes, but that wasn't the only thing. Time Lords don't age any faster than they want to, our biological clocks don't run out, we're hard to kill and can live practically forever, and on top of that we didn't have any natural predators on our home planet and faced few serious threats from anyone outside it." He chuckled. "If we bred as often as humans we'd have a serious overpopulation issue. So," he bopped her nose. "Evolution made us picky about who we engaged in potentially-baby-making acts with."
River snorted. "Potentially-baby-making acts? And here I thought your culture was just terribly romantic about it. Or stodgy."
"Well. That too."
That made her laugh. "So what, casual sex was just completely taboo? It was wedding night or bust?"
The Doctor frowned in thought. "No, I mean, the attitude was less, 'You shouldn't', and more like, 'Why would you want to?'. It just really wasn't something that a lot of people were comfortable treating casually. And there wasn't the expectation to wait for marriage because we put a lot of thought into that, so courtships typically lasted a long time, and even we weren't that patient. But it wasn't something that you'd do outside of a committed, long-term relationship at least."
River had taken to drawing Gallifreyan symbols on his chest again. "Sounds fascinating. Although I think I would have hated it there."
The Doctor laughed and pulled her closer. "You probably would have. But they'd have hated you too." River glared and slapped his shoulder. "Oi, that was a compliment!"
They settled into a comfortable silence after that. River was so warm next to him, and her hair was soft against his cheek. The Doctor actually felt himself growing drowsy. Well that was new; feeling relaxed enough to want to sleep. Usually he just waited until he collapsed from exhaustion. (Although perhaps there was a little of that going on here, too.) He hadn't even realized his eyes had drifted closed until he heard River's voice beside him.
"So, if this is something you only do in a committed, long-term relationship," the Doctor hummed in agreement, eyes closed, "and you did it with me," he hummed again, the corner of his mouth quirking upward, "then what does that say about us?"
"It says that I've utterly abandoned my culture." When he was answered by steely silence the Doctor cracked one eye open. River was glaring at him and he smirked. "Or possibly that I completely adore you."
River slapped his arm, but she did so smiling. "I hate you."
He closed his eye and pulled her closer. "No you don't."
(She told him she wanted him to find love again after she was gone; she told him she didn't want him to ever, ever be alone.
She told him that if it was meant to happen it would; in the blink of an eye your whole life could change, as the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant thing could set your life on a course you could not possibly see in that moment.)
"And what makes you so sure?" River's voice floated out from somewhere below his chin.
He rested his head in her hair and answered, "Because you only say that when you're reminding yourself that you put up with me because you love me so much."
"Wonder I don't say it more often, then."
The Doctor smiled. "I hate you."
River's laughter distracted him from the warm comfortable darkness he was sinking into. "No you don't."
"No," The Doctor said, just before he slipped into sleep. "I really, really don't."
(She told him she was going to Gallifreyanoid Lifeforms 301, where they'd just begun study on a fascinating little planet called Earth, and he was perfectly welcome to come.)
A/N: I was in NYC recently and my first thought on seeing the shallow indents in the walls in the subway was "River and the Doctor would totally make out in that." Robert Dudley was Liz's longtime favorite. Henry VIII's widow Catherine Parr married Thomas Seymour, and when Elizabeth was around 14 he engaged in a lot of inappropriate activity with her; a lot of it bordered sexual harrassment and even assault, though just how far he went with her has never really been determined. If you couldn't tell who the other women I was talking about were, I referenced the Doctor's original Gallifreyan wife, Romana (her role and fate in the Time War is uncertain, but go watch 'The City of Death' and tell me he didn't have a thing for her), and briefly Rose.