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You're Just My Cup Of Tea, Or: Domesticity Is Setting In

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"Ah ah ah," the Doctor says, "can't use that one. That one's my favourite."

River stares down at the teacup she's just retrieved from the cabinet. For a spaceship, the TARDIS is very good about never being in short supply of interesting teacups. "This one?"

"Yes, that one! That, for your information, is a very special teacup. The specialest of, really. Lewis Carroll gave me that teacup."

"Ah, Louie! How is he?"

"Still mad at you," the Doctor says shortly. "Wants you to stop calling him Louie. Nicknames from pen names -- it's a slippery slope, you should've seen what Emily Bronte did to me when I tried to call her ElBizzle. Actually, no, you really shouldn't have, bit embarrassing, that, let's just forget I've brought it up. Anyway: it was a very special gift, this cup, and I'm not about to let it be taken prisoner by just anyone who waltzes on into the kitchen."

River considers the teacup. It has little blue flowers painted on it, and it's very nice, but not exactly the stuff to start wars over, as far as teacups go. She decides to bide her time. "All right," she says, and starts looking for another one.

"All right," the Doctor repeats. He is, unmistakably, a bit put out. "Really? You mean we're not going to do the bit where you say 'but I'm not just anyone' and I say 'That's right, isn't it? That's a very good point. Just who are you, River Song? Besides my best mates' spectacular Time-Headed baby (who did a very poor job of inheriting their hair, may I just say; that'll be the Time-Head at work, I bet), because there's still loads you're not telling me, like for instance why, exactly, you feel entitled to the use of my most important teacup' and then you don't tell me because somehow you've come to the conclusion that I like it when you're mysterious, but maybe--" He grins at her, a very close up grin; she suspects that being in her space is still a bit new for him, and he's enjoying himself far too much (not that she's complaining), "--you snog me a bit."

"And be so predictable?" She opens another cabinet, its door swinging open right in between their faces. "Oh, never, my darling."

"Fine," he grumbles, circling around to her other side. "But I quite like that part."

"You're becoming such a creature of habit," she remarks, momentarily distracted by a bright yellow cup with five handles. "I'll have to see what I can do about broadening your horizons."

"Ooh, I like that part too," he says, the grin making its undaunted return. "In advance."

"Yes," she agrees cheerfully, "you will."

He presses a kiss to the side of her head -- and ever-so-predictably murmurs "Hello, Timehair" into her curls.

She rolls her eyes, smiling. "Has anyone ever told you you're ridiculous?"

"Oh, no, never," he says very seriously. "Not even once."

"Shut up, you," she orders, laughing and taking out the five-handled cup. It's the sort of thing that requires further examination.

"That one was from Lady Gaga," the Doctor informs her. "Nice girl; Earth thought so too. Slept in an egg. Wrote a song about me once. Why is it that the weird ones always give me teacups? Have I just got one of those faces?"

"Definitely one of those faces," she confirms gravely.

"Damn," he mumbles.

She puts the five-handled cup back in its place -- best not to mess with some things -- and her eyes find their way down to the first one, the Carroll one, that's sitting forgotten on the counter. "Would you like to know something?"

"Does it involve Lady Gaga's current whereabouts? Because I'd like a word or two with her; I still think I deserve credit for the disco stick. That was all me, you know. Granted, she may have misconstrued its purpose a bit ..."

"You always let me use this teacup," River says, and taps a fingernail against the Carroll cup. It makes a tiny ting! noise that sounds (if you want to get whimsical) a little like Hello, old friend.

The Doctor looks genuinely interested, his Gaga indignation vanishing. "Do I?"

She smiles and presses her palm to his cheek, just briefly. Then she leans back against the counter, picking up the teacup. Its handle isn't chipped; there's an adventure yet to come, then. One of the small-but-happy ones.

"When I was -- well, younger," she says (for surely there's not much harm in one short story. Or maybe she's unwisely in love with how nice it feels to tell him things), "you handed me a cup of tea in this, after ... let's just say a very bad day. 'Lemon zinger that actually zings,' you told me. 'Straight from the planet Zing. Impossible not to feel better after that.' And I thought, for the first time, how glad I was to have you." She smiles slightly. "Not You The Getaway Car or You The Gateway To Time And Space, or even You The One Who Saved Me. Just you. My you. A friend to bring me tea."

She looks back up at him. He's watching her; he looks almost as fond as he does thoughtful.

"That's a nice story," he says softly.

"It's turned into one, hasn't it?" she says. "Over the years."

"Years," he echoes. There's something in his voice -- wonder, maybe -- that reminds her of how she used to feel, back at the start of it all. "Years and years, you and me."

"Years and years." She sets the cup down. Her hands are in the mood for other pursuits. "Excited, my love?"

He smiles, and something tells her they may have to postpone their quiet evening of tea and relaxation. Fine by her; relaxation has always struck her as highly overrated.

"What do you think?" he says, which is invitation enough into his arms.

+

The next morning, she wakes up to a blue-flower-painted cup of Earl Grey on her bedside table, and a note that reads Guess what, I'm excellent at sharing. xxxxxxxxx. ("You started it," he says, when she asks about the overabundance of x's. Something to look forward to, she imagines.) They spend the day on the planet Zing stocking up on tea. For future emergencies.