Prompt: river x doctor, 1920s expedition to Philae
Well, whatever he'd been expecting, it certainly hadn't been this.
"She's dangerous." The warden warned as they walked down the dank prison hall. "Don't know what you need her for."
"She's cheap. And I need a good gun hand, though it pains me to say it."
"Well she'd rob you blind as soon as look at you. And that's only if she doesn't shoot you first. But hey, your funeral."
Well, now he felt even better about the whole expedition.
"What, a girl's not allowed a good night's rest before her execution?"
"Execution might be stayed. If he pays enough for you that is." The warden sneered and she flew out of bed, toward the bars of her cell.
"I am not for sale you filthy pig, and I would rather die than let you enslave me like chattel-" She spat the words out and the Doctor watched her carefully. He'd known she was a woman. He'd known she was dangerous. He hadn't quite known she would be this gorgeous.
"You don't get much say in it now do you? If you value your life at all, you'll shut your mouth and listen." The warden spat at her and she flinched.
"That's - quite enough, I mean I can handle it from here, thank you." It pained him to even thank the odious little man, but the warden smirked and slid away, backing up to give them privacy.
She looked at him for the first time since he'd arrived and her eyes widened with surprise and then amusement. "You think you can handle me, Professor?" She smiled and his breath caught in his throat.
"What? No. Yes. I mean no! I mean I don't want to handle you. Not like that!"
"Sure about that, sweetie?" She leaned against the bars with a smirk and he flushed.
"I need someone handy with a weapon. And cheap. You're it." Her flirtatious demeanour dropped and she looked at him seriously.
"Excavation work - Philae. Temple of Isis. What do you say?"
"I say how much?" She smiled and he waved a hand at the warden who unlocked her cell after the Doctor handed him a wad of notes. The Doctor smiled and nodded at the money he'd just handed over.
"Just about that much."
"Philae is submerged in the Nile isn't it?" She spoke over the hum of the boat's engine and he nodded.
"Only during the rainy season. It'll disappear eventually if something isn't done about it."
"So what's there?"
"How do you mean?"
"What are we looking for?" She spoke slowly, staring at him as if he were slow-witted. Which he was not. Most definitely was not - he spoke seven languages, could decipher hieroglyphics, was the foremost leading expert in the- "Pretty boy. Are you deaf?"
"No! And don't call me pretty boy. I am not a boy." Her smile turned indulgent and he sighed in frustration. He couldn't have been saddled with a dull-witted prisoner?
It was gorgeous. Dust under his boots and ancient buildings towering above him in the relentless sunshine. He could see Trajen's kiosk off beyond the courtyard and he bounced up the rough hewn steps in excitement. Standing in the central courtyard, he turned around, his eyes on the columns that lined it, all leading up to the doors of Isis' temple. He never got tired of this place and the stillness about it.
"You know, as happy as I am that you seem to think dust and rocks are the best thing since Christmas, would you mind taking my handcuffs off now?" She held out her hands, standing there in the uniform the prison had provided her with.
"I don't know, are you going to shoot me or try to take off?" He asked loftily and she rolled her eyes.
"We just got dropped off on an island in the middle of the Nile. That boat's not coming back for a week, and if you don't take my cuffs off soon, sweetie - well, I'm just going to get all sorts of kinky ideas." She grinned as he stared at her open-mouthed. He muttered to himself before tripping over to her and unlocking her handcuffs with haste. She rubbed her wrists before shrugging off the heavy coat and stripping off her uniform top until she was back in her white tank top. "Hmm, pity. I was almost getting excited there for a moment."
"So you're really just here for rocks?" She knelt before the small fire she'd made, in front of the tent he'd helped her pitch. She was boiling water over it and glancing around the sky that was fast fading into a deep purple.
"Not just rocks. History. Preservation. I'm cataloguing damage done by the Nile's water levels."
"Why?" She asked, as she poured the water into a teapot, and he was surprised to see only frank curiosity in her gaze.
"I want to - to save it all. It'll be a huge project."
"Then why do you need me?"
"It's an unguarded temple and there are thieves who still pillage these types of places, you know. I don't like guns, and I-"
"Clearly couldn't win in a fist fight against a child." She smirked and he rolled his eyes. "You didn't even ask my name."
"I know your name. River Song - the warden told me." He paused, before glancing over at her, her face warmed by the firelight and her hair free once more. "It's a lovely name. You didn't ask my name either."
"You're an archaeologist. Professor or Doctor something or other. Which one?"
"Doctor. Smith, but everyone just calls me Doctor." Her laughter was warm and it seemed to echo round the island itself.
"So come on then. You're dying to give a lecture, I can tell." She was drawing a detailed map - quite good actually - as they walked around the island and he made notes on the damage done since his last visit during last year's dry season.
"I am not."
"Yes you are. Come on then, educate me, Doctor." She teased in a breathy little voice that seemed to shoot right through his chest. She was irritating, he told himself. Not exciting.
Not at all.
"Why were you in prison anyway?" They were exploring the inner temple today, and the shade was a welcome relief.
"Woman travelling alone in Egypt? I received an offer I had to refuse with my fists. Only that wasn't clear enough so I may have shot him."
"You murdered someone?" He stared at her and she laughed.
"Oh please. No! I simply shot him in the leg. Well, near enough to the leg. The important part is he didn't die. And probably won't be forcing himself on other women any time soon, if ever again at all." She smirked over at him and he stared, not sure which was worse. Murder or that.
"Remind me never to piss you off." He muttered and she leaned into his space, her mouth close to his ear.
"Oh I wouldn't shoot at yours, sweetie. Just so you know." She winked and pulled back, leaving him speechless.
"Doctor, what's this?"
"It looks like a crack in the - no a seam in the wall. Is there a door here?"
"No, of course not! Nothing on my diagrams and besides, where would a door-" She wasn't listening, instead running her hands along the walls and peering down at the dusty floor, sweeping dirt aside with her foot. He wanted to say something about her touching the walls - any contact was detrimental after all and he'd told her that, but just then there was a click and the door sprang back. He stopped and stared in shock. She grinned - bright and eager, her whole face lit up.
"Never could resist a lock."
An underground chamber buried in the heart of the island and he felt a thrill go through him as he turned to look at her. Her eyes were lit up and she grinned back with enthusiasm.
"This is amazing." He whispered, looking around in awe before looking back at her. "You're amazing. I never would have found this. No one would have."
She moved closer to him, until her chest brushed against his arm and he swallowed heavily, glancing down at her. "I guess we'll need to be staying longer then yeah?"
"I thought you hated all of this." His throat felt dry and her face glowed in the light from his torch.
"Not all of it," her voice was husky and she reached up, adjusting his bowtie gently, her eyes meeting his. "Maybe I'm developing an affection for history."
"For history?" He raised a brow and his blood sang through his veins as she leaned in closer to him. Just them, alone in a chamber no one had stepped foot in for centuries, the thrill of discovery and her -
"Something like that, yeah." She whispered before her hand slid round his neck, pulling his head down to her hers. Her mouth was soft and he made a sound of surprise in the back of his throat.
Screw what he'd been expecting. The unexpected was far more rewarding.