Oh, but he's amazing, that Doctor of hers.
He burns through the universe like one of the stars themselves; there are glorious trails of fire left in his wake, so beautiful, so deadly.
There are days, long days and weeks and months, where she doesn't see him. She travels across the breadth of time and space under her own steam, whether it's on exploratory missions with fellow archaeologists or whether she's running through the blackness of space, her heart pounding wildly in her chest.
When night falls, she takes her blue book and flicks through it, devouring the memories. She remembers the Doctor's face and the strength of his wisdom and the burning of his anger: she remembers it all and she smiles.
Memories don't compare to the real thing.
Her fingers tingle and her smile grows right before he turns up - always does. That TARDIS of his knows how to make an entrance. It fades into existence, the sound of it churning up the air around them. Royal blue contrasts with the lush green of the jungle, and River places her hands on her hips as she waits for him to pop out of his box, wondering just what is going to await her this time: who is he going to be, where in their tangled time-lines is he coming from?
He swings out of the door, his hair a wonderful mess and his dreadful bow-tie terribly askew: the very sight of him brings a tight smirk to her lips. She feels alive again in a way she hasn't since the last time they ran at one another's side.
"You're late," she scolds.
His eyes widen and he steps out of the TARDIS, allowing the door to close in his wake. "I am?" he asks.
No companions with him this time, not even her mother or father. It's just her and the Doctor - and as much as she loves his friends, this is the way he likes it best.
"Very late," she confirms.
"For what?" he asks suspiciously. He spins on his heel as he takes in their surroundings, with the volcano puffing menacingly far in the background, belching purple smoke towards the sky.
River's smirk broadens into a grin. "I haven't the faintest idea," she says. She holds out her hand. "Let's go find out."
His hand grasps hold of hers, firm and warm as only he can be. The touch of his palm tingles through her, bringing back every instinctive memory of danger and lust and longing.
Yes, every cell in her body screams as they begin to explore side-by-side.
She doesn't let go of his hand, not once. At her side, the Doctor is a skittish presence, his free hand gesturing emphatically with every word, in between repeated scans with his sonic screwdriver.
"I've missed you," he says, while pointing it at a rapidly growing pink bush.
It takes her a moment to realise that he's talking to her, not to the bush. Just as well. She might've had to get jealous.
"It's been a while," he admits, "for me, anyway."
"I saw you last week," she says. "Feels like longer."
Always does. Locked away in that prison cell, sometimes she can feel every second dragging by like its claws are digging into her flesh. The Doctor squeezes her hand, just a momentary twitch. She squeezes back, twice as hard, and wonders if it would be so bad to stay with him forever - always at his side, always like this, always together.
The Doctor hums thoughtfully to himself as he examines the screwdriver, and mumbles something that sounds worryingly like "That's not good."
Twenty minutes later, River is running for her life while genetically cloned dinosaurs try to make her into a snack.
Heart racing, hair flying, legs aching, she has the Doctor laughing manically at her side. She wouldn't miss this for the world.