When it was all said and done, when the madness regarding the version of himself he refused to acknowledge had passed, and they all were restored to their rightful places, he went to the other place he vowed to never go. The place that held as much pain as Trenzalore, though at first it hadn’t. As the years slipped by, as his life and hearts had become as ensnared with hers as the magnificent matrix of his time lines, it became the second place he dread the most – the Library.
“Is it safe?” Clara asked as he stood in the doorway of the TARDIS, staring into the shadowed halls.
“For now,” the Doctor said, and he clasped Clara by the upper arms. “Clara, if I’m not back by the sun sets, the TARDIS is set to take you back home. Don’t come after me. That’s an order.”
“These things though, the Vashta Nerada. I saw them when I entered your time stream. I saw you with them. They live in the shadows.”
“And, where I’m going, there’s not shadows. It’s been 500 years since they infested the planet, but I’m not taking any chances with you.” He kissed her forehead. “I have to do this, Clara.”
Clara opened her mouth as if to protest, then nodded firmly. “Tell Professor Song I said hello.”
He flashed a quick grin and disappeared into the Library.
He hadn’t landed where he and Donna had years earlier, but he was closer to the data core than originally. Close, but far enough away that even if Clara disobeyed and wandered from the TARDIS, he would be able to hear her.
There was a terminal set up next to the data core, and he seated himself at it. He lifted his hands to type in the words, and they hovered over the keyboard. He swallowed, blinked away the tears that were already forming, and passed a hand over his eyes. He couldn’t do this. No, he just couldn’t. It was too hard already. He spun around, intending on getting up and stalking back to the TARDIS.
No, he owed her this.
He gazed warily at the computer over his shoulder, then spun back to it. The chair wobbled as he spun it around and separated from the base. With a yelp, the Doctor crashed to the ground and smacked his head on the tiled floor.
“I suppose that was one way to access my data.”
He cracked open one eye and saw white sandals and perfectly manicured toes. Slowly, his gaze traveled up, taking in the silk pants, elaborate belt with a bow tie (clever touch), matching top, the billowing jacket. She looked just like how she’d appeared to him on Trenzalore, which was far better than some of the other visions he’d had of her. He lifted a hand to his head and found the tender spot from where he hit the floor. “I didn’t mean to access you this way. I wanted to do it through the computer. Properly do it.”
River dropped to her knees and ran a hand down his arm. “This is a way to properly do it. All those times, all those other conversations, they were just as genuine as the one you and I are having now.” Her voice caught. “I never thought I would see you again.”
“Rule 1,” he murmured and sat up.
“Isn’t it always?”
“You were the one who gave me that hope, Professor.” He reached a trembling hand for her, expecting it to pass through this time. But he felt her knee beneath the cloth, and he closed his eyes and began to weep.
Her arms came around him, and he turned into her as he tried to gain control over his emotions. Oh, but he was far too old, far too wise, to excuse his tears. He’d been without her for so many years, even though he could see and hear her. Her ghost haunted him in his dreams, his nightmares, every waking moment. She whispered words into his thoughts, gentle admonishments, and solid advice. He couldn’t sleep in a bed, because he would always turn to his right and not see her there with him. He couldn’t take baths, because he remembered how much she had hated them until he taught her not to fear being submerged in water.
He felt her fingers running through his hair, soft words of Gallifreyan in his ears, and he couldn’t help himself. He tilted his face up and pressed his lips to hers. He could taste her tears, along with his own, and he opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. She responded to him the way she always had, from the very first time she’d tugged him to her for a kiss in Stormcage to standing in front of their friends on Trenzalore. Her fingers tightened, and he pressed himself into her, rising to his knees so he had better access. His hands skimmed down her arms, over all that lovely silk, and beneath the jacket so he could push it off. The shell beneath was sleeveless, showing her lovely, toned arms.
He trailed kisses down the side of her neck and reacquainted himself with the area in the crook of her neck that always made her moan and- ah, there it was. Lips curving into a smile, he worked his own coat off and tossed it aside. He went to undo his waistcoast, but she stilled him, fingers nimbly undoing the buttons of that and his shirt. She traced a fingertip around his bow tie and smiled through her tears. “Our wedding,” she murmured as she gently tugged it loose.
“Always,” he breathed.
“But when …”
“After. I … Your house. It’s still there. I took it, because I knew you left it behind. I just needed …” He pulled it off and wrapped it around her hand. He needed that tangible link to her, in the dark days when it hurt to even breathe. When he had landed on Vastra’s doorstep and the only thing he’d been able to choke out was, “She’s gone.” He pressed a kiss to the palm of her hand. Flesh that wasn’t quite human, made entirely for him. His bespoke wife. He was going to worship her.
He grasped the hem of the shell and tugged it from the wide sash. He skimmed his fingertips over the swell of her breasts and she smiled, unclasping it in the back and letting it fall as he shucked his shirt and waistcoat. He tugged off the sash before she could, and he quickly caught her hands in his.
“Trust me,” he murmured as he wrapped the layers of silk around them, pressing another kiss to her lips.
“Always,” she breathed into his mouth.
He gently guided her to lay down and raised her arms above her head. He wrapped the ends of the sash around the leg of the desk and tied it in a perfect knot, then dragged his fingertips down her arm, skimming over the armpit and making her laugh. The throaty sound spurred him on, and he pressed hot, open-mouthed kisses to one breast as he caught the nipple of the other between his index finger and thumb and pinched it lightly. He lay his head on her breast and watched as his hand rolled that nipple until it was hard, and her hips undulated beneath him.
He could have spent hours just on that one nipple, but he pressed a kiss to it, then the other, then made his way down her belly. He reached the waist of the loose, flowing trousers and made quick work of them, drawing them and her knickers off in one, smooth motion.
“Do you remember,” River said, “the first time we did this?”
“From your perspective or mine?”
“Mine. I was in university, and you insisted we try it on that hideously narrow bed in my dormitory.”
“Hush.” He nipped at her hipbone and caused her to jerk beneath him.
“You had ever such a hard time getting my clothes off then. It’s like you couldn’t remember how zippers work.”
He growled and gave her another nip.
“And somehow you got the arms of my jumper twisted ‘round to the point that we fell off the bed.”
He moved down and parted her legs, his breath stirring the curls at the apex of her thighs. “I did it on purpose.”
“Oh?” She laughed, a smoky, husky sound that drove him now.
“So I could do this.” He pressed a kiss to her sex, and her breath caught on that laugh as it turned to a strangled moan. He parted her with two fingers, flicking his tongue over her clit as he slid those fingers into her. The flavor of her, salt and musk and time, burst over his tongue. Umami. That was what the Japanese called the flavor. Pleasant and addictive, and oh how he loved doing this to her. He felt her tugging at her bonds, and smirked.
He kept his thrusts slow and steady, drawing out her pleasure as she struggled to move faster. “Always so impatient,” he murmured against her.
“It has been centuries,” she gasped. “Really, that’s prolonged for a dry spell, even for you.”
“Haven’t kept busy in there?”
“Oh, plenty busy. Shall I describe what I’ve been doing?”
And she did, telling him how she touched herself, what she had drawn from books to experiment with, who she had seduced, who she allowed to seduce her. She told him of the times she sneaked into their stories that were kept there, had relived their passion again and again. Her voice rose higher and higher, closer and closer to the edge as she told him of the thousands of times she had re-lived the pages of the diary that was still there.
And then she told him of visiting him, of how she kept him company in the dark, when he was so alone and driven to give himself relief when his thoughts were too full of her.
That broke him.
She hovered on the edge, but he couldn’t wait any longer. He surged up, tugging his trousers open and giving blessed relief to his aching erection. He just managed to tug the sash loose before he shoved his clothes off and slid into her. Her arms immediately clasped his back as his breathing grew harsh. The sound of flesh slapping against flesh echoed through the open corridors of the hallway, and he couldn’t stop. But, she was right, it had been countless years and he wanted her so much. Just when he thought he was going to come first, she arched beneath him and came with a scream that sent him over. He shuddered in her arms and wondered if anything in the universe could remotely compare to this bliss.
The shadows were lengthening, and they lay together on the tile floor, him wrapped around her as they watch them grow larger.
“You have to wake up soon,” River murmured.
“I don’t want to wake up,” the Doctor muttered petulantly.
“You’ve got to. It’s getting dark, and the monsters will emerge soon. You won’t leave Clara alone.”
Because she was right, he reluctantly pulled away from her and remembered the entire reason he had come to the Library to begin with. “It still hurts,” he acknowledged. “I kept waiting for it to stop hurting so much. You were there all the time, and I thought I could live with it. Like I lived with the ghosts of so many in my hearts. But, I can’t.”
“You hate endings. You hated it with my parents, and you hate it even more now.” She sat up, gathering her clothes together. “Doctor, we’re time travelers. Do you really think our time really ever ends?”
“It does. Everything ends, and everything dies, River.”
“Not love,” she reminded him. “Not always. We’re proof of that. Oh, sweetie, do you remember your first time here, and I spoiled you of our time together? How I told you that you weren’t my Doctor and reminded you of that from time to time?”
“I can’t forget,” he muttered.
She cupped his cheek. “Here you are. My Doctor. And this isn’t the last page. Just think of it as the end of the first part of our story. There’s still more to come. You heard me talking to Clara. I slipped her enough clues.” She pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth, then whispered, “Now, you clever boy, remember.”
His eyes lit up as his jaw dropped. He swallowed, then smiled. "Well, then. See you around, Professor River Song."
She traced her fingers down his cheek. "'Til the next time, Doctor."
Clara paced in front of the console, trying her best not to look at the monitors. She’d save him again. Of course, she would save him. Hadn’t she always? She shook her head and tugged the monitor down. Her eyes widened as she scanned the planet, and she remembered.
“Clara!” The Doctor burst into the console room. “When you were in my time stream –”
“Yes, I remember! I remember being here! I saved – ” She cut off as she got a good look at him, then raised her eyebrows.
The Doctor frowned. “What?”
“Been busy with the wife, haven’t you?”
“What makes you say –” He cut off as she gave his trousers a pointed look, and he glanced down to see that he was in a bit of a mess. He immediately went scarlet. “River,” he yelled and swore he could hear her throaty laugh at his predicament. “Right. Clean trousers, then we’re going on a search.”
He paused halfway down the stairs and grinned. “For my wife!”