She was tired of merely sitting in her office during her lunch break and wistfully gazing outside of her window. Once upon a time, she would never allow herself to be trapped by the walls around her. She would stroke the vortex manipulator on her wrist and go find herself a battlefield. Sometimes, she would find the action too slow and as a pass time, she would flirt with someone or get married. . She would run in her ridiculously high heeled blood red shoes and she would pull out her gun if anyone irritated her. She'd allow herself to get caught sometimes – just for fun. She could escape from anywhere and anyone. She sometimes enjoyed robbing it in people's faces that she was like quicksilver. Here one minute, and slipping out of your grip the next. She would return to Luna five minutes later into her lunch break and chat with her colleagues.
After she had returned from Manhattan, she had lost the motivation to live a timey wimey life. Indeed, it could be cruel. She had left a Doctor who insisted on using her as an emotional punch bag. Grief had taken its toll and left bitterness and resentments in its place. At first he snarled at her for her lack of emotions. He insisted that she was being stupid hiding all the damage. That he was her husband and that meant he had to be there for her too. It was hard. It really was – she was used to hiding all the damage. Used to having no one to tell... well no one who would really understand and see her properly. The prospect of something different had absolutely frightened her. However, over time she let her guard down and let him in. She told him how empty and broken she felt. How unfair it was that her parents were snatched from her. That she had not even had the chance to be a child to them – the best people in her life were gone. They were gone and there were no loopholes. Initially, he had been accommodating to her grief, but soon it turned toxic. As she continued to complain, she noticed that his smile was tight and despite holding her, the sympathy did not reach his eyes, which were icy in contrast.
Soon after, they had reached the point where he was screaming at her for letting Amy go. For being Melody Malone. For robbing him of his happiness. He was absolutely fuming – angry that she dared to complain and grief when this was all her fault. It was rather cruel. One day he had her under the false pretense that he actually cared about her feelings. One day, he was telling her that it was stupid that she was holding it all in. She had decided that he was right – that they should ease their burden together. Then the next day, he's had the cheek to shout at her for feeling the emotions that he wanted her to share with him. She had left after that. Eyes bright with unshed tears, with black holes where her heart used to be. She left silently. She would not stoop to his level and shout and scream. No. She would hold herself to a higher standard.
At first, she was stung by the indignation – he was being bitter and selfish. She was absolutely fuming. She had been so stupid, to actually strip herself of her defenses and let someone else in. The whole ordeal was brutal. It had left her more stiff and stony than she had ever been. Every time she thought about him, she could not help but let out a bitter laugh. They said that love was supposed to cure you; that people who loved you were supposed to accept you for good and for bad. All love ever did was cripple her.
She tried to use her rational thought to explain away all the pain. He was swallowed by grief and therefore did not mean a word of what he had said. However, rational thought failed her. She was swimming in grief, and she had been able to hold her tongue. She had not allowed bitterness to claw at her. Eventually, with a heavy heart, she had allowed herself to accept that he had mean what he said. He had meant it. He was angry and all the pain was debilitating and for a couple minutes, he was unlike himself. He had put all the charades away and he was unrestrained and... honest.... . She missed her arsehole of a husband. Sentiment was way stronger than anger. He could shout at her all he like, but he was not going to keep her away, for too long anyway.
She decided that she would seek him out. However, he seemed determined to hide away from her. She left messages everywhere. She paid visits to his friends. She tried to trace his footprints. All attempts were futile. After four years, she stopped trying to search him out. Eventually, she went back to Luna. Eventually, all the excitement and perks of a timey wimey life were lost and reality took over. She was all alone. Her husband did not want her and she did not have much to show for herself. All her life had been revolved around him. She did archaeology to find him. She did her thesis on him. He was controlling and manipulating her life and it was time to put an end to it. She crushed her vortex manipulator with her heels and cleared her apartment of all things timey wimey. She took of the wedding ring he had given her on their first night as newlyweds and urged herself to believe that they were not properly married anyway.
From then on, she was a free agent! It was rather boring, she had to admit. She no longer had the taste for adventure and she could not be bothered to flirt. It turned out, that being a free agent just meant throwing herself into work. The only times she relented were lunch times, where she would sit at her desk and stare out of the window.
One day she decided that enough was enough. She would leave her office that lunch time and just …. just … just... get out? And get adventure, perhaps? For the first time in ages, she went out seeking excitement.
Walking down the streets of Luna wasn't really the adventure she craved. The wind was not bashing against her. There were no storms and no sontarans that she could tease for resembling potatoes. However it was good getting out of her office.
From her periphery, she noticed a man. Short silver curly hair. Her was staring at her wistfully. And... she felt something that she could not quite put her finger on.
She entered a cafe and as she anticipated, a few minutes later, the man followed her in. He sat conveniently at the table in front of her, even though all the other tables were empty. River, as always good at feigning obliviousness, did not pay the man any attention. However, she could not control her thoughts as much as she could her expressions and she found herself curious and feeling rather … fuzzy. As she ate her lunch - limp lettuce leaves and thin carrot sticks - she could see that the man was gaping at her. She got that a lot, so she was unfazed.
After she finished her lunch, she got up to pack her plate and furtively stole a proper glance of the man staring at her. He was wearing a blue suit and the inside was laced red. It was rather funny that he was wearing a suit in a cafe - who does that, she thought? She rolled her eyes fondly and smiled involuntarily as she thought of the Doctor. Then she sighed and frowned. Why did he always have to make everything about him? Why did he always have to seep into her mind just when she thought she was doing well by herself? Why was her memory so vivid? Why could she remember how much she loved him and how much it hurt?
To call River Song oblivious would be incredibly insulting. It would be like calling Einstein and Darwin just smart, when indeed, they were revolutionary. It would be like calling a starry night sky a vast stretch of nothingness. It is simply refusing to give credit where it is due. River was the sort to pay meticulous attention to detail even if it was small. She could pick up on a threat hours before it came one. She could notice people furtively trying to steal a glance at her. She would feel if it was going to rain in a weeks time, merely by feeling the density of the air on her shoulders. So obviously, she noticed that there was a man stalking her, when he followed her into the café the second time. Yes, there was such a thing as coincidence, but seeing someone who she had never seen before twice in a role, couldn't be a coincidence.
As she had expected, the weeks to follow are similar. Every day, approximately 200 seconds after she enters the café, he entered too. Always wearing the same suit. Always hushing away the waiter or waitress if they asked him what he wanted to order. She was sure that they found him a nuisance – they all huffed and muttered profanities when he entered. Still, none of the staff had the guts to tell him to leave. His permanently angry eyebrows were like a warning – leave me be. She should not have liked that – kind of did.
She had expected this day to be the exact same. He would stare and she would ignore him and they would go about their lives after leaving the café. She was walking to the toilet, which meant walking past him. Simultaneously, a waitress was walking away from him and he mumbled under his breath "Pudding brains," and before she could get a grip of herself and control her actions, she laughed. She actually laughed and she laughed audibly. She stopped where she was standing, besides his chair and laughed. Instantly, he had turned towards her. A quizzical and amused look on his face. Oh no – she had just invited him into a conversation. That was not how it was supposed to work. She was supposed to ignore his existence until he decided that he had the guts to talk to her. This was all wrong.
"What is so funny?" He asked in a gruff voice. Most people, she thought, would be taken aback by how coarse his voice was. Perhaps they'd think that his question sounded rather interrogating. However, River had the distinct feeling that this was him in a good mood. Still, she could not help herself but ask, "Why are you frowning?"
"Eyebrows are permanently fixed like this." He replied waggling his thick silver eyebrows. An ecstatic grin rose across his face. No doubt he was enjoying getting an opportunity to communicate with her. She laughed involuntarily again. She could not help it. She took a second to properly drink his features in. Quite old – not that she minded. She herself had an augmented life span, so could not really judge based on age. His features were rather sharp, as if carved in stone. However, it suited him. Made him look mature. She noticed his eyes... they were deep blue and beautiful. His eyes indicated that he was way older than he looked. His eyes were weary and she could see that pain, loss and grief were really good friends with him. She could feel herself falter, and whilst she tried to control the sympathy seeping through her bones, she could not. She had seen … she had seen those eyes before... not that face.... but those eyes. She saw those eyes sparkle with unshed tears and those same eyes beam... In the Doctor. She had seen those feelings reflected in her own eyes when she looked in the mirror.
Normally, River Song did not falter. Normally, River Song remained totally unfazed, regardless of how she was feeling. However, this man... there was something about him. Oh, he had already seen too much. He had seen her vulnerability and pain and happiness all in a split second – this was new.
She was at a loss for what to say. That did not happen very often. She could not even flirt at that moment. She was so transfixed at his eyes. She was staring openly at him. Oh, she so wasn't subtly. Normally, she was. Eventually, she threw out the first words that strung themselves into sentences. "Why are you following me?" She asked after a while.
"I am not following you!" The man said with indignation. It was rather funny. He had sounded so against the idea - he had spat it out as if the idea was absolutely and completely ludicrous. For a second, she was even uncertain - maybe she had got it wrong? Maybe it was all a coincidence? Maybe the for the past month, he just happened to be in the cafe at the right time? She shook the thought away. It did not seem possible that this was a coincidence.
"Yes you are! And you gawp. If you wanted to ask me out, all you'd need to do was just ask!" She laughed, taking a seat. "I don't bite - well unless that is what you want." Oh wow. Now, she was flirting with her stalker. And to think she had accused him of stalking, when she was implying that she could bite him, if he wanted. She was the one who seemed creepy; not her stalker.
"I am not gawping... There is nothing to gawp at! I do not want to ask you out! I mean, you are nothing special. Get over yourself." He bit back with his rough Scottish accent.
"Ouch. That really is not how you chat up a girl. I am guessing you do not have much practice. No wonder you are lonely." She said. She should have felt offended - her stalker was telling her that she wasn't special. She knew that that was not what a guy was supposed to do. They were supposed to compliment her or flirt - not insult her. However, she she found his blunt words rather daring...
"Oih! That is mean. I am not lonely." He replied, chuckling.
"What is mean is you telling me I am nothing special." She laughed. "Believe me, I am!" She purred. She took pleasure in his response. His pupils dilated a bit – he was definitely aroused. His breathing rate had increased slightly, and that was with words alone. He fidgeted a bit and would not look her in the eye.
"I am not lonely." He bit back.
"Well not know, you are with me." She said, leaning into the table further.
"Well, I do not want you here!"
"Look, darling. Let me help you out here, because you really aren't smooth when it comes to the asking out a girl thing. If you carry on the way you are, I will probably feel inclined to shoot you." He laughed in response to that - as if she did not threaten him. As if she was flirting. Oh, this man. She should not find him charming - kind of did. "So, are you going to ask me out, or not?."
He stared at her, his mouth opened, but unable to find the words.
"Fine, if I must. But I am only doing this to stop you from stalking me," She conceded. "Next week at Hundley's at 7:00pm." She got up abruptly.
"I didn't ask."
"Not with words, no. But trust me when I say, you asked. In fact, you begged." She stood up abruptly and ran towards the toilet, before leaving without even sparing him another glance. Couldn't have him thinking that she was besotted.
As she rushed back to the university, she had no idea what just happened. She had literally thrown herself on a guy who tried to act as if all he wanted was to be left alone. She was going to go on a date. She had been on dates since the Doctor. However, it had been a long time since she had felt anything that remotely felt like electricity and attraction. It scared her a little – people were supposed to swoon before her. People were supposed to be relentless in their efforts to impress her. It was not supposed to be the other way round for her. It was... it was just something about his him. Something that gripped at her hearts, the minute she got closer to him and had a proper look. She did not know what it was. Was it that he seemed familiar? She could not really put her finger on it.