“Hello, Sweetie. Love what you’ve done with the place.”
But, thought the Doctor, but it can’t be...
She stood smiling at him, leaning against the console, and his brain just stopped.
He had half-convinced himself that River wasn’t coming back. That she wouldn’t come back until it was time for their last meeting before she had to go to the Library.
Oh, he knew she’d have to then - so he could give her the screwdriver, tell her his name, take her out on their last date to the Singing Towers of Darillium. And perhaps for her that night had already happened. But he had been sure that would be the last night - and the next night - he saw her, his wife, his beloved River Song. All that was left of his Ponds.
Please no, not yet. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t seen her for ages; he wasn’t ready.
So he stared at her as she smiled that crooked half-smile at him, the one that meant she was confused or hurt, and finally he pulled out his sonic and scanned her. He tore his gaze away and glanced at the sonic, then looked back up at her.
“River.” It was all he could say, and even that took forcing out past the lump in his throat.
“What is it, Sweetie?” she asked, all concern, and he backed away as she came closer. River stopped in her tracks, and the look on her face was back to that smile - the frozen half-smile she had worn so often when he was young. He couldn’t resist her, not when she wore that smile, it wasn’t possible. Not anymore, not since the day in Stormcage when he’d run away from it, all those years ago. So he went to her, and put his arms around her, and just held on, breathing in the scent of her hair, of soap and spice and Time. “Why so sad, my love?” It was a murmur into his throat, and he tightened his arms around her.
“I thought you... I... oh, spoilers. River, I can’t say, I’m...” But she was kissing him, as she used to kiss him so long ago, and she swallowed the apology. “River...” He sighed her name into her mouth and they stood there, swaying slightly and kissing until even the Doctor was short of breath, and he had to break the kiss. He laid his forehead gently on hers. “Can you stay?”
River shook her head. “No. I can’t. And I can’t say why. But I’ll be back soon, my love, very soon this time, a matter of hours rather than weeks. I’m sorry.” She sighed and took his face between her hands. “But I will be back in a few hours.” She touched the vortex manipulator at her wrist and was gone. And he was alone.
Then the phone began to ring.
The Doctor was tired. And he was still angry at the Intelligence and the stupid man who had let it out to play. But while he felt guilty over Clara, there was another part of his mind that was strangely exhilarated.
Clara was something new.
And River had promised she would be back. Soon.
The Doctor spun in place. River would find him, no matter where and when in space and time. Sexy would see to it if River’s little VM unit couldn’t do it on its own. “Did you hear, Sexy Thing?” he crowed, “River’s coming back!” There was a cheerful little whoosh from the console, and he thought that even the old girl was sounding happier.
And then... nothing happened. Right, well, River had said a few hours, and it hadn’t been quite that long yet, why there must be a good hour and a half left before a few would become several. He could wait for an hour and a half.
But did he have to do it linearly? Ugh.
So an hour and a half later, River materialised in front of him, and got a squash racquet to the head. She yelped in surprise and very real pain, even as she realised that by sheer good fortune, the sproingy grid had tangled in her curls. If the rim had caught her scalp, their evening might have ended before it started.
“River!” The Doctor all but shouted, “I’m so sorry, my River, I...”
“Sweetie,” she said patiently, if through gritted teeth, “I appreciate the apology. I even adore your flailing limbs. But please - please - let go of the racquet. Now.”
The Doctor dropped the racquet as though it were a Solosian badger, and the resulting yank on her hair brought tears to River’s eyes. This started another round of apologetic flailing on the Doctor’s part, but River reflected that at least this time he wasn’t actually holding the racquet.
“I’m so sorry, my River,” he said after he’d calmed a bit, “So, so sorry.”
“It’s all right, Sweetie,” she said. “No real damage--” she winced internally as she heard herself use the word, but he didn’t seem to notice “--It’s just a bit painful.”
“Still, best to check,” The Doctor insisted, and took her down the corridor to his room.
After he stopped trying to pull the racquet from her hair by main force, River began to laugh. Oh, it was so him, so very him, and she chuckled as he tsked disapprovingly and gently disentangled her hair, curl by curl. “Think of how bad it could have been, my love,” she chided him gently when he showed no sign of forgiving himself. “What else have you done today that might have gotten me in a far worse mess than tangled hair?”
She had a point, the Doctor conceded, there had been several things that had happened that day - he doubted that Strax would’ve taken kindly to River Song, for instance, what with her record of Sontaran-baiting - and proceeded to tell her exactly what he had done after that day’s adventure. He had begun to tell her of the adventure, but the moment she heard the name Clara, she shook her head and said, “Spoilers,” in the most cheerful tone she could manage. He decided to let it slide rather than spoil the mood, and he worked carefully at a particularly stubborn curl as he spoke.
“Well, first I made some fish custard,” he said, and she pulled a face at him. He pulled one right back at her and started her laughing again. “Right, then I shelved all the books by era - they were shelved by author, would you believe - and made some new dew jackets for several of them. I’ve decided that calling them dust jackets when the pool is back in the library is just silly, so dew jackets it is.” River would have nodded with all due solemnity, but as she still had a squash racquet attached to her head, she just made a noise of agreement. “Then I went to the chemistry laboratory, and I... well... never mind that; it would have been worse though. By that point there were only fifteen minutes until I expected you, that line between a few hours and several hours you know...” He looked at her expectantly, and she nodded at him as the last curl sprang free from the racquet. He leaned away, measured the distance carefully in his mind – no sense in hitting her again – and flung the racquet away as hard as he could. “So I went to the squash court. It’s a new one.”
“Yes,” River said, “I could see that. She’s new all over her inside, aren’t you, darling?” She patted a wall fondly and the lights flickered. “You’re beautiful, dear Old Girl.” She paused to look at her husband, who was staring at her with an expression of... was it nearly awe? River hadn’t seen that look from him in decades, and she was utterly taken aback when she saw his eyes fill with tears. “Oh, Sweetie. Don’t.” She put her right hand out to the Doctor, only half-expecting him to take it.
He did take it, but he used it to haul her closer, enveloping her in a hug so tight that she could hardly breathe. She patted ineffectually at his back, but eventually she realised that he was speaking in a whisper, in Gallifreyan, repeating her name and the words I thought I had lost you over and over again into her hair. He rocked her back and forth as he whispered and when she felt a tear filter through the curls to her scalp, she pulled gently away until he let her go.
“Sweetie, I wouldn’t just leave. You know I never would. Not without telling you, my love, please know that, trust that I never would.” It was her turn to babble, and he finally managed to shut her up by seizing her face in both hands and kissing her hard on the mouth. He swallowed the torrent of words and softened the kiss, tracing her lips with his tongue.
“Oh, my River...” He whispered it into her mouth, and broke the kiss to lay his forehead on hers. “I’ve missed you so much. My River Song, my Melody Pond. The woman who married me.” And he kissed her again, gently, sweetly. Oh, River realised, he’s so sad still. I thought he had recovered from their loss, I would never have left if... I thought... but then the kiss grew deeper and she relaxed into it. Her lips parted under his and she sighed into his mouth as he laid her back onto the bed. She started to speak, to reach for him, but he shook his head. “My turn, River. Let me love you this time, my bad girl...” he murmured, and she subsided.
The Doctor sat back to look at his wife, to drink in the sight of her and to taste her in the air. She lay there in the nest of cushions, the blue of her dress matching that of the sheets, and he felt his mouth go dry. River Song in TARDIS blue, looking at him as she looked at no other, eyes dark with wanting and skin smelling of Time... she was incredible. And all his.
River made an inarticulate, needy noise in the back of her throat, and the Doctor carefully leant over to undo the tiny buttons down the front of her dress. He lingered over each one with uncharacteristic patience, revelling in the sound of River’s breathing speeding up, feeling her tense slightly with each button, knowing how he was affecting her. As he got to the last button at the hem of the dress, she let out a sigh and relaxed fully into the cushions. The Doctor carefully pushed the dress to either side of her and watched as her eyes darkened further and her nipples puckered under the lacy under-things she wore. “So beautiful, my River,” he whispered almost reverently, “And so very dear to me.” And then he bent his head to taste her.
River arched into the touch of his hands on her hips and his mouth on her breast, as he nibbled at the sensitive flesh through the lace that encased it. She reached for him but he arched away. “Naughty girl,” he said, voice rough. “Do I have to restrain you?” At her answering moan he quirked an eyebrow at her. “You like that idea, hmm? Well then...” and he trailed off as he tugged his bow tie off with one hand. “Don’t know where Sexy put the handcuffs,” he said gruffly, “But I’m sure we can make do. Hold out your wrists to me, my bad, bad girl. That’s it,” he continued as she mutely held them out, and he wound the tie around them, finishing it off by tying it to the headboard of the bed. “Check it, my River,” he suggested, and she tugged a bit and nodded. She could get out if she wanted to.
But she didn’t want to.
“Touch me, my love,” River invited in a low and husky voice, and the Doctor’s eyes went almost black. He toed off his shoes and knelt beside her on the bed, leaning over to kiss her, touching only with his lips. He teased at her mouth, rubbing his own against it and nipping at her lower lip with his teeth. Then he pulled away slightly and grinned at her as she moaned and tried to follow. “Now, my love,” she whimpered, “Please. Touch me, now.”
And he did. There was nothing else he could do, not when his River looked at him like that, wanted him like that. His hands began to work at his own buttons and zips as his mouth began moving, nibbling from her lips along her jaw and pausing there to suckle at the soft patch of skin where her neck met her jaw line. Her breathless moans were doing things to him, making him want her with an urgency he’d seldom felt before, and he groaned her name as he shoved trousers and pants together down his legs.
Oh god, thought River, why haven’t I insisted on being on this end of the restraints before? She wasn’t sure she’d ever been more aroused. I’ve never liked the handcuffs, not since Stormcage, but with his bow tie... When her beloved’s lips began to move, down the slope of her throat this time, she moaned again. Only you, my love, she thought, only with you can I be...
“Out of control, my River?” he murmured, and scraped his teeth against her collarbone. “Oh yes, you like that, don’t you?” She was writhing now, arching into his touch, and the moans were nearly constant. “How about this?” His left hand streaked down her body and into her knickers, stroking and rubbing and pinching until she came undone with a sharp cry, and then the touch gentled as she rode out the climax.
River stretched and smiled at her husband, reaching out to stroke his cheek. “Hello, Sweetie,” she said, “And thank you.”
“Any time.” He grinned at her for a moment, then laid his head on her chest, listening to the soothing sound of her double heartbeat. In spite of her touch on his jaw, it wasn’t until he felt her stroke her fingers through his hair that he realised she had freed herself from the restraints. “River, I...”
“Shh. I know.” He didn’t even know, the Doctor reflected, but somehow River did. She always did, ever since Area 52 and the beach at Lake Silencio. She knew just what he needed always, except that once, when she had hit him after he’d healed her wrist. They’d made that fight up in spectacular fashion, he recalled, once he had gotten it through his stupid thick head that he did still have a Pond.
But River was still speaking as she threaded her fingers through his hair, and the Doctor listened to her voice and her hearts and her breath as his hand began to inch downward again. “Your go, my love,” she was saying, but his hand reached its goal and he tugged at the lacy blue knickers.
“Lift your hips, my lovely River Song,” he suggested, and slid down between her thighs as she did so. He pulled the knickers off slowly, nipping at her hip bones with his teeth as he went, and she moaned. “That’s it,” he murmured against the sensitive flesh he revealed, “That’s my sexy bad girl...” And then the Doctor began to use his lips and teeth and tongue, and just as she tipped over the edge, he slid with an aching sort of intensity up her body, and slipped inside her. He held his breath and clenched his jaw to stop himself following River into oblivion. She was moaning and writhing under him, and it was all he could do to control himself, and then finally - at last - she shuddered to a halt and lay still.
Eventually, when her hearts had settled to a normal pace, River let out a long and satisfied sigh, and stroked the Doctor’s back from shoulder to hip. She felt him tense above her, his whole body becoming momentarily as hard as the part of it inside her, and she came to a decision. She clamped her legs tight around his hips, and rolled them both over so that she sat astride him, still intimately connected, and she looked into his face. “I love you.” It was simply said, and hearts-felt, and she felt him tremble beneath her. She knew he wouldn’t say it back. He never did; he preferred to show it, as though the words were an invitation to the kind of disaster that had taken her parents from them. But she didn’t mind, because he did show it, in little ways and big, in everything from bringing her chocolate to taking her to see the birth of a star. That was how he showed love.
And so River was taken aback when he did answer her in words. “And I you, my River Song. Always and completely,” he said, in a broken sort of voice, and she thought she might cry at the sound of it. But now was not the time for tears, she thought, and so she showed him how deeply she felt, in the best way she could under the circumstances.
She began to move.
River twisted her hips and the Doctor groaned her name as he clutched at her hands, using them to pull her down to him. He plunged his hands into her hair as soon as he could reach, and as his fingers touched her temples, the other connection snapped into place.
Ohhh... They both felt it, the mental and emotional connection between two minds and all four hearts, as well as the more physical one between their bodies. And then it was all touch and scent and emotion together, all sensation. Words and concepts and emotions drifted along the link with a languorous ease, even as the physical aspect of their lovemaking went ever faster.
Ohh... there, sweet River Song... Doctor, my Doctor, my love... needwantlove... please, my only love, I... oh! So perfect, tighthotwet, my River Song, my wonderful, impossible Melody Pond... now, my love, please now!
Then the mental link was awash in sensation and emotion - the colour of love and the scent of need and the sound of trust. Their voices melded as their minds and bodies and hearts crashed into culmination, and River slumped against her husband, shuddering and crying and laughing all at once. And then at last their quivering bodies lay together limply on the bed, River draped over the Doctor like a warm blanket.
A few minutes - or maybe eons (the Doctor noted that his time sense had gone all wibbly in that last incredible moment of their loving) - River stirred atop him. “Shh...” He smoothed one hand down her back while dragging the duvet over them both with the other, and then moved both hands back into her hair at her temples.
Always and completely, my River...
I know, my love. Always and completely.
And then they slept.
When the Doctor woke, River was gone.
But she had left a note.
My love, it read.
I told you I would never leave without telling you I was going. I’ll be back soon, Sweetie, within days, but I will have to avoid your Clara; it is not time for us to meet yet. There would be spoilers. Spoilers such as you would not believe.
Always and completely,
Your River Song
The Doctor sighed.
So be it, he thought. She will be here when she can. My River Song, my Melody Pond. The woman who married me. Whenever she can.
He looked forward to it.