The Doctor, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz were in a pub in Sheffield. Wasn’t the first choice of the majority of them, but Graham had made a special request. And after taking Yaz to see her grandma, with all the risks that implied, the Doctor could hardly refuse. They were sitting around a table eating, talking, and making jokes. Yaz and Ryan did most of the talking and joke making, and the Doctor was trying to figure out what her new mouth approved of.
“It’s so weird,” Graham whispered, not really aiming it at anyone. He downed what was left of his drink. The Doctor stopped licking her chips and the four of them fell quiet until Graham spoke again. “This the day I first met her. Not here of course, up at the hospital.” Ryan reached over to grab his hand, knowing Graham would appreciate it, but the Doctor was the first one to try and comfort him.
“It’s awful, isn’t it? Hurts so much, and there’s not a thing you can do about it,” the Doctor’s voice nearly cracked, but even so it had a softness to it. “Remembering hurts, and ignoring hurts even more.”
“Yeah.” Graham agreed, taken aback by how gentle and collected the Doctor acted. Usually she barely had time to finish a sentence before starting the next one. “And you tell yourself that tomorrow you’re gonna be more alright, but then tomorrow comes and-”
“And it still hurts just the same.” The Doctor nodded. “So you just hope that the next day will be better, or the the day after that.”
“That in a year, you won’t hurt quite as much.” Tears threatened to spill out of Graham’s eyes, an entire year without Grace felt inconceivable. “Tell me Doc, would a thousand years make a difference?”
“Honestly Graham, sometimes a thousand years only strengthens it.” She chuckled somewhat. “Though that is probably the exception, not the rule.”
The team had already been at the pub for quite a while more when the Doctor noticed the woman sat close to one of the the corners. Her face was turned away, but she found her fascinating nonetheless. Dressed in all black, with more than a few glasses (and bottles) in front of her. The shadows crept around her, but her gigantic curly blonde hair seemed to glow anyway. The Doctor had only ever known one woman with hair like that. A woman she had lost and could never see again. A woman who wouldn’t ever be right here, right now. Sighing, she stared down at the table, hearts aching. But she couldn’t keep her eyes away from the woman for long once she’d spotted her. She tried not looking, she really did, but she just ended up glancing over again and again. It took some time for her friends for notice, but when they did, it was impossible to ignore. Graham shook his head over her, Ryan rolled his eyes, and Yaz elbowed her, a little too hard.
“C’mon Doc, just go up to her.” Graham was the first to say anything, when they were all in the clear on what was happening.
“Who? Me? Who’s me?” The Doctor stared at him, trying to give off her best “hey, look at me, I’m innocent!”-face. “Going up to who?” She might have fooled them if her voice hadn’t been a bit too high.
“That woman, duh,” Ryan said, “The one you got a crush on.” The Doctor opened her mouth to protest, but it took her a minute to form a sentence.
“Ryan! I do not.” She scrunched her face up, muttering. “Humans, always thinking ‘bout romance.” Then she glanced over to the woman again, her cheeks going all pink.
“You sure?” Yaz giggled at her friend, although the smile on her face hinted of sadness. The Doctor was without a doubt the best person she’d ever met, and Yaz might have the tiniest crush on her. Seeing her fall for a stranger in a bar instead of Yaz… Well, it hurt.
“Yes,” the Doctor affirmed. The woman in the shadows raised a glass to her lips, and the Doctor let out a breath she didn’t know she’d held. Her friends looked at each other, full of disbelief. The Doctor couldn’t possibly be oblivious to this.
“Kay, maybe not.” She sighed again. “But it’s nothing. We should probably just leave…” The team only had to have a quick look at each other to decide they weren’t going anywhere.
“No way, mate.”
“You’re going up to her!”
“Wha-“ the Doctor shook her head at her new friends, “You lot are so stubborn, you know that!”
“We do,” Yaz grinned.
“Ugh.” She scrunched her nose. “Right. Wish me luck fam. Or whatever you humans do.”
The Doctor left most of her half-finished meals and drinks on the table, only holding on to her orange juice. She made her way across the room and it wasn’t until she was a few metres from the woman that she truly looked at her. In the same moment, the woman looked up. The Doctor stopped, her chin dropped to the floor. River . It felt as though someone had ripped out her hearts and were continuously stomping on them.
“You’re not very smooth, are you?” River eyed her up and down, and at the sound of her voice the Doctor to lost control over her hand, letting her glass fall to the floor with a loud crash. River snorted out a laugh and pulled out the chair next to her. “Why don’t you sit down.”
The team was watching, curious to see what their friend would do. The Doctor had almost reached the woman, when she stopped. Ryan groaned.
“You’re not very smooth, are you?” They were all on the brink of sighing, but the way the woman looked at the Doctor stopped them. Then she dropped her glass and they collectively face palmed.
“She is such a disaster!” Yaz whispered, “It’s a wonder she got this far, really.” Graham frowned and lightly hit her arm.
“No, look, she’s sitting down now,” he sounded like he didn’t believe his eyes.
“How’d she manage that?” Ryan stared, “She just dropped her drink for no reason, most people don’t like that.”
If she didn’t figure out she was the Doctor, it couldn’t be too dangerous, right? River offered her one of her drinks, and the Doctor accepted.
“What is it?”
“Why don’t you find out?” River smirked at her, filling the Doctor’s stomach with something warm and fuzzy, and her throat with something akin to razors. How she wished she could tell River who she was. They could run away with her Tardis, exploring all of time and space. But that could never work. To keep her tears from coming out, she lifted her new glass and sipped on the drink. Her first reaction was to scrunch up her face, she recognised this taste.
“Wine?”, she said. River smiled and nodded at her.
“You’re not a fan?” The Doctor knew she usually wasn’t, but this time was different and she took another sip.
“No, I like it. It’s excellent.” She smiled at River, remembering every detail of her face when she saw them in front of her again. The way her lips curled when she laughed, that sparkle in her eyes that no one could ever resist, the exact shape of her cheek and how it felt pressed up to hers, how her hair was all over the place all the time, yet still managed to look incredible.
“So, what brings you here?” River asked while she ordered another drink, prompting the Doctor to lie up a story about how she was visiting her friends, who were actually from here. Well that part wasn’t really a lie. The rest of it might have been a bit of an intense answer though. A little unbelievable, but not too much, right? Not enough to give her away?
Yaz couldn’t keep from watching the two women, even as Graham mentioned they should give them some space. There was something different about the way the Doctor behaved, and she didn’t think it was just because of a crush. Normally, she couldn’t be still for more than five minutes, but now she’d sat next to this woman for a couple of hours. The side of her Yaz saw now was calmer than before, more serious. The pair were laughing and talking, but Yaz sensed the Doctor’s changed behaviour and attitude.
“Yaz, you okay?” Ryan seemed to be worried about her.
“Yeah, no. I’m fine.” But then she glimpsed the woman tucking the Doctor’s hair behind her ear, and on her finger she saw something she wasn’t expecting. “Ryan,” she whispered, “Please tell me the Doctor’s crush isn’t wearing a wedding ring.” Both Ryan and Graham turned their heads towards the Doctor and the woman, shock flashing in their eyes.
“No,” Graham said, “That’s a wedding ring, if I’m not mistaken.” They all looked at each other, not sure what to do.
“Should we say something?” Yaz was panicking. She didn’t want the Doctor to fall in love with a stranger, much less a married stranger. That was just plain wrong, what if something happened!
The wine must have been getting to her head, because she couldn’t stop looking at River’s lips.
“How do you do it?” She asked, leaving River blankly staring at her. “Keep the lipstick so perfect, I mean. When I tried it out I couldn’t do anything without smudging it.” She was pretty sure this was a tangent, this body seemed to like them, but River only chuckled.
“Magic.” The Doctor squinted a second, considering.
“That’s not an answer.” She pouted. “An answer might’ve been: I always bring it with me, you know, as a precaution . But I haven’t seen you putting it on, so that can’t be it…” Her voice died off. River smirked at her, making her hearts jump up and down and bump into each other like bouncing balls on a hillside.
“Why are you so interested in my lipstick.” River leaned in, her mouth close to the Doctor’s ear. The Doctor was pretty sure she was blushing now, but what can you do when your drop dead gorgeous wife is flirting with you?
“Don’t know.” She swallowed, “Any ideas?” Her question and tone were innocent (she hoped), but River raised her eyebrows and looked down in her drink, ever so slightly turning away from the Doctor. She straightened her back and caught the Doctor’s eyes.
“Oh, I can think of more than a few reasons,” she said with a low growl, winking . Saying the Doctor didn’t enjoy it would be a lie, but a part of her was jealous. A new feeling for this body. One she wasn’t particularly fond of. Of course she didn’t mind River being with other people, it just hurt when those other people were herself, disguised as a stranger. Was River really this easily charmed by other people? The Doctor really had to up her game when being around her… Not that she’d get a chance to, her times with River were over. But she might as well take advantage of this time. Before she got a chance to answer, River looked over her shoulder and chuckled.
“You’re friends aren’t particularly smooth either.” Confused, the Doctor looked back at them. They were all different shades of alarmed. Graham looked as though he wanted to send her a message with his eyes, probably something close to “This is really a horrible idea Doc. We should go”, Ryan was gesticulating something that seemed to have the same meaning behind it, and Yaz was just staring at her. No, River. She was staring at River. The Doctor sighed, she couldn’t let them near River, but they obviously wanted something. She would have to go check on them.
“Would you excuse me for a minute?”
“But of course, dear.”
“Hi, fam. What’s the matter?” The Doctor tried really hard to sound as upbeat as possible. Yaz looked over to River, and then stared straight at the Doctor.
“We think she’s married!”, she whispered. Married? Well, they weren’t exactly wrong.
“Nah, it’s probably fine.” She smiled at them without meeting their eyes. “I’m sure she would’ve told me.” Her friends didn’t have to know everything about what was going on, not this time. Besides, it was hardly like she could tell them, not when River was so close by.
“Right, I’m gonna go back there, don’t call for me. You know where to go if you need anything. And if you really, really need to talk to me,” the Doctor lowered her voice, “Please call me John Smith, okay?” She turned around and left them in the middle of their protests, waving her hand without looking back.
“Sorry, they’re a bit rude today. Really should know better. Yaz is even a police officer, did I tell you?” She smiled, locking eyes with River again.
“A police officer? Really?” River smirked. “Bet you love it, huh?”
“It has its perks.”
“The handcuffs, I’m imagining.” As every time River mentioned handcuffs, the Doctor started blushing, and she was just about to answer when River changed the topic, but she didn’t lose her flirtatious tone. The Doctor was at a point where she was doubting if River ever could lose it.
“Your friends are genuinely worried. You don’t often go out just to talk to strangers?”
“I’m making an exception.”
“Lucky me.” River took a sip of her drink, eyeing the Doctor again, like she couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing.
“Right, I’m gonna go back there, don’t call for me. You know where to go if you need anything.” She left them with only a half-hearted wave as goodbye.
“Can you believe her?” Yaz whispered, eyes wide and mouth open. But that shock was nothing in comparison with the one when they a second later were CLEARLY flirting. “I can’t believe her. We get her one date, who’s actually probably married, and she thinks she can do whatever she wants! John Smith? Yeah right…”
It must be time to leave soon, and no matter how much she wanted to spend more time with River, she couldn’t.
“You said he lost his wife?” River’s question interrupted her thoughts.
“Yeah. First time I met them.”
“What was her name?” River’s hand touched hers, a comforting warmth spread from where they joined together.
“Grace.” Even though they were talking about Grace, it were thoughts about River that clouded the Doctor’s head. None of them said anything, but they sat comfortably in the silence. The Doctor didn’t know what had gotten into her, but she felt a need to ask.
“Have you ever been married?” She could hear River smile.
“Well, I am wearing a wedding ring, aren’t I,” she held up her hand, showing the Doctor the ring she had on her finger. The Doctor knew exactly what it looked like, but she studied it once again. It was a very beautiful green, with intricate patterns.
“It’s…” She gulped, “It’s really pretty.”
“My husband picked it out for me. Normally he has a despicable taste, but this isn’t all so bad.”
“I’m sure it wasn- isn’t that bad.” The logical part of her brain knew she shouldn’t be defending her previous fashion choices to River, but really, they weren’t that bad.
“Trust me. It is,” she snickered. No doubt at old memories, with a big certainty ones involving a fez. “And what about you?”
“What about me, what?” The Doctor asked, desperately grasping for few more seconds to make up her mind. The responsible thing would be telling her no, but the Doctor was pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to be that responsible.
“Yeah. Long time ago.” River raised her eyebrows.
“You know that you couldn’t possibly be more than thirty-six, love.” Right, she wasn’t a white-haired Scotsman anymore.
“Erm, feels like forever. And you know what they say: time’s a construct anyways.”
“They say that?” As she talked, River leaned in so their faces were no more than a few inches apart. The Doctor had to fight the urge of closing the gap and kissing her. As if River knew what she was thinking, she winked, smiling fondly. It was impossible to see that smile and not smile yourself. And she didn’t just say that because it was her wife.
“Er, I say that. Not so sure about other people to be honest-”
“Your smile really is sweet.” River’s words warmed her face. “Sickly sweet.” She shivered. “But what can you expect.” River leaned even closer and her lips brushed the Doctor's cheek. “Sweetie.”
That one word threw the Doctor back on her seat. She stared at River’s face, her eyes were shimmering and she smirked smugly.
“You, you called me…” If a truck had crashed into her chest, this was how she’d imagine it to feel. River leaned back, smiling knowingly.
“Hello Sweetie.” The Doctor couldn’t do anything but gawk for a good ten seconds.
“River Song, you didn’t!” Her mouth was still open, “How long have you known?”
“Since you walked in here.”
“But, but, we can’t,” she gestured, pointing between them. The Doctor didn’t want to protest, but couldn’t help doing so anyway. “I’m not supposed to see you, I don’t even know where you are.”
“Sweetie, calm down.” River grasped the Doctors hand. “Time hasn’t ruptured yet, and we’ve been here for hours.” That actually helped, and the Doctor fell silent and instead beamed at River.
“You’re right. Sorry.” She took River’s hands in hers. “How you doing?”
“Oh you know, right now we’re sleeping. Darillium sure is an exhausting place.” Her eyes glittered.
“River Song, you are brilliant!”
“I’m not sure the Scottish one would agree if he knew of my little trips.”
“Oh, don’t mind him, I won’t tell if you don’t.” She raised her hand to feel River’s hair and gazed into her wife’s eyes. They were still for two seconds, breathing and holding onto each other. Then they crashed together. The Doctor’s lips on River’s. River’s arms thrown around the Doctor’s waist, the Doctor’s hands gone inside River’s hair. Time standing still, the whole world forgotten. After some time, their kiss morphed into something different, a heartfelt embrace, no thoughts of ever letting go.
“Darling.” At the sound of River’s voice the Doctor opened her eyes, looking up at her wife’s. “You should probably introduce me to your new friends, they’re looking a bit confused.”
“Just a mo’.” The Doctor stood on her tiptoes and planted a kiss on River’s nose. “There. Now come on.” She dragged her wife towards her friends.
“Look, she’s showing the Doctor her ring now. We told her she was married!” Yaz wanted to roll her eyes, but she was to obsessed with watching the scene in front of her unfold. Graham and Ryan were also looking at the couple, Graham’s worry wrinkle clearly present.
“What are they doing now?” Ryan said.
“They can’t lean in like that! Is this allowed?” Yaz protested, “It’s like they’re going to kiss.” But before anyone else had time to react the Doctor jumped back.
“Oh, finally she’s getting some sense-“
“Hello Sweetie.” They could hear the woman’s voice all the way from where they were sitting. They were expecting a reaction, but the Doctor couldn’t have moved less if she tried. And they would know, they had seen her trying.
“Now I’m proper confused,” Ryan said, frowning at Yaz, but she was busy observing the Doctor, who had started waving her hands around. “What the hell is she doing,” he said as the woman grabbed on to the Doctor’s hand.
“Oh no, this is bad.” Graham hid his face in his hands.
“Graham, look, now the Doctor’s holding her hands,” Yaz said, but when she looked at him, he kept his eyes away from them, clearly distraught.
“The Doctor’s got game, Yaz.” Ryan’s words lead to her quickly turning her head back to the Doctor and the woman. Now the Doctor had her hand in the other woman’s hair. God, what on earth and every other planet in the universe was she doing? Okay, it hadn’t actually been that bad Yaz decided, when the two of them suddenly turned into a mess of tangled limbs and oh my god they were most definitely kissing.
“Graham, you probably don’t wanna hear this.” Her voice was surprisingly steady. “But now they’re kissing.” That caused Graham to sigh and shake his head and all of them just sat there in silence and disbelief. Yaz didn’t want to look at the Doctor and the Doctor’s crush. Or in other words: the married woman who had kissed Yaz’s crush, but she couldn’t avoid seeing the Doctor kissing the nose of the woman, in a way that looked way too domestic for a complete stranger. A second later and the Doctor was on her way to them, pulling the woman behind her.
“Hiya, team,” the Doctor said and River sneered lovingly, “Er, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” Yaz squinted at River.
“Right, and could that someone be the woman you’ve been flirting with for the past two hours?” The Doctor pressed her lips together, while still smiling. She thought it was this expression that Ryan once had described as a polite-cat-face.
“Actually, yes, but it’s not like you think…”
“Ah, well that’s good-” Graham said, and before he could finish, Ryan interrupted him.
“So she’s not married then?” The question was followed by a chuckle from River, but she quickly silenced herself in favour of answering.
“You figured out that I’m married?” She smirked at the Doctor. “They’re good, dear.”
“They’re brilliant!” The Doctor beamed at River, for a moment forgetting what she was supposed to tell her friends,
“So, you are married?” Yaz said, while squinting ever so slightly, not letting River out of her sight for even a second. Yaz was smart, (and lovely, beautiful, and a great singer) and the Doctor was pretty sure she was suspecting that something more was going on. “And yet you’re here, kissing the Doctor.”
“Yaz,” the Doctor smiled, “It’s fine.” She was still holding River’s hand, and now she dragged her even closer, so they were practically leaning on each other. She glanced over at all her friends, preparing for her next sentence.
“This is professor River Song.” She took a breath and squeezed River’s hand. “My wife.”
Her wife ? The Doctor had never mentioned being married. Yaz would’ve trusted herself to know if she had. So why had this River just turned up out of nowhere, destroying every last chance of Yaz ever getting together with the Doctor? Her first reaction, after the initial shock and the “oh dear god I think my heart punched a hole in my chest and is now trying to escape”, was suspicion. Entirely professional suspicion, of course. Completely based on the fact that she was a police officer and trained to spot incongruences, and not at all related to her personal feelings for the Doctor. This woman could be an alien, who had somehow convinced the Doctor that they were married. And her motive? Stealing the Tardis, or just breaking into the home that she’d supposed the Doctor owned? All these thoughts raced through Yaz’s head at a million miles per hour. But something with them didn’t sit right with her. It might be because River looked at the Doctor as though she was the centre of the universe. A look Yaz recognised, because it was one she too wore. And just like there was no way for her to ignore how deeply she felt it, there was no way to ignore how genuinely River meant it.
“Uhh,” Ryan started, “You’re… you’re married? I thought you’d lost all your family?”
The Doctor had suspected that revealing River to be her wife would lead to a hundred and five questions, and she wasn’t wrong. Well, she was a bit wrong, because she hadn’t expected Yaz to look so… utterly shaken.
“If you’re married, why didn’t you recognise each other?” Ryan’s brows furrowed as he continued asking questions. “Or are you like, very into roleplay or something?”
“Ryan!” Graham stage whispered, eyes wide with shock, but River only chuckled beside her.
“It’d be a lie to say no, but I’m afraid it’s not what happened.” Her hands found their way to the Doctors waist. “Although I’m certainly not opposed to letting it happen…” She pulled her so close they were basically one. The Doctor’s cheeks flushed and she quietly groaned over River’s never ending stream of innuendos. Not that she actually bothered, especially not when River’s body was pressed so close to hers and her hair tickling the Doctor’s neck.
“River, behave,” she tried to sound stern, but her voice betrayed her.
“Not a chance in hell.”
“I’m still not following,” Graham said, shaking his head, “If you’re the Doc’s wife, then why didn’t you just come up to us?”
“It’s sort of complicated,” the Doctor answered, “I usually show people a flowchart to illustrate it…”
“Uh, right. Well, you two better sit down then.”
“You actually have a flowchart?” River quietly asked her, “I thought you just say that to people so you don’t have to explain.”
“Course I do!”, the Doctor whispered, “You have your diary, I have my flowchart. That’s how it works.”
“Then why am I always the one who brings mine?”
“Because the flowchart is made for explaining.” She scrunched her nose up. “I can’t have it explaining your future to you. That’s my job!”
“Sweetie, that’s literally the opposite of what you’re supposed to do.”
The Doctor scrunched her nose, and shrugged a little.