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Travelling

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“Do stop making that face,” said the TARDIS, and pressed a lace-covered fingertip to the right corner of his mouth. “Your face will freeze like that. Be calm.”

The Doctor batted her hand away. He would not replay and he would definitely not analyse the particular intonation she gave the ‘will’. “I should never have left you two alone.”

“You don’t have a leg to stand on. That is an odd expression. From Earth, yes?” She cocked her head and studied her new gloves. Intently.

He still wasn’t sure if she had folded herself into a facsimile of the flesh body she had occupied, or if the chameleon circuit had something to do with this perfect image of Idris. He didn’t ask very many questions; time-travelling by hand-holding was rather nice. With great and commendable effort, he rearranged his features into a very nice smile.

The TARDIS frowned. “That’s even worse. Make the first one again.”

“It’s my face!”

“Calm.”

“When has being calm ever helped me?”

“When have you ever been calm? She will not need our help.”

She definitely stressed the ‘will’ this time. It was winter here; ice and frost and an air so crisp every breath hurt. The stars above were brilliantly blue. The only thing missing was the fish.

He took a breath; huffed it out again, but not with enough force to make it visible. “What exactly are they going to do to her?”

Think they’re going to do. They keep changing their minds. She keeps changing her story.”

“What’s the current punishment?”

“That is irrelevant.”

He’d only come here because he had a new coat. It was long and cool and looked good when he twirled. If some people hadn’t made a sport out of being arrested… “If you can see how it’ll end, why don’t you just tell me?”

“Too much knowledge makes you irresponsible.”

“No, it doesn’t!”

“Yes, it does. You are being far too serious. Just like she said this morning.” The TARDIS took a quick step forward and pecked him on the lips. Wetly.

The Doctor spluttered and flailed a little. “Not now!”

She drew back, frowned again. “Let’s have dinner.”

“Let’s find River.”

“There’s no need to. They won’t be able to agree on the method of incineration. When I breathe out, the breath becomes a cloud. I want that to happen all the time.”

“This was a bad idea.”

“What was a bad idea?”

He scratched his head. “Having someone who can see all that ever was and all that ever will be near your back to front marriage.”

The TARDIS put her hands on her hips. “Just because you do, I will not speak before I think.”

“But you see it.”

“It?” She even had frost in her hair; the gaslights gave her a shimmering halo.

“It. All of it. Germany and Utah and the Byzantium and the fields of Tranzalore. The Library.”

She raised her chin and looked at something he couldn’t see. “'This means you’ve always known'.”

“Stop that.”

She blinked, stared at him. “So very, very sad. And so very, very…”

“So very a-word-you-don’t-know?”

“Oh, it’s a good word! It’s a wonderful word!”

“Tell me when you find it.” He passed a hand over his face. “How can you arrest someone for theft if someone else is wearing the evidence?”

“By the laws of–”

“Oh, I know!”

“They were rubbish anyway,” said River.

The Doctor spun around.

River smiled; her nose was red and there was quite a lot of snow clinging to her jodhpurs, but she looked well. “Really, it was hardly worth the trouble.”

“Should I say thank you?” asked the TARDIS. “These are — will be — wonderful gloves.”

“Enjoy them.” River placed a naked, and utterly cold, hand on the Doctor’s cheek. “Why are you making that face? Do you want me to steal you a nice hat?”

“Stop stealing, both of you! River, you’re cold, you can have my coat.”

She snorted, but straightened his lapels. “No, thank you. I’ll manage.”

“I could get some gloves for you!” called the TARDIS, boot in a heap of something that could be either ice or glass.

River waved the offer away. She got up on her tiptoes and pecked the Doctor on the lips. “Let’s have dinner. I’m famished.”

“Dinner?” The Doctor tried to catch the TARDIS’s eye, but she was utterly engrossed by what she was doing.

River brushed her jodhpurs off. “What about that place on Lork? Sexy?”

The TARDIS looked up, considered it. “The waiter will be rude to us and my lentils will be underseasoned.”

“What about The Restaurant?”

“They don’t offer whipped cream with their hot juice.”

“That chip shop in Colchester I liked?” suggested the Doctor.

“Greasy, but warm,” said the TARDIS, leaving the heap and approaching the others. “Sufficient quantity.”

“Then that’s where we’re going,” said River, offering the Doctor one arm, and the TARDIS the other.