Word Count: 4,206 (chapter), 19.685 (total)
Characters: Doctor/River, original characters
Notes: This chapter is NSFW. Hide the kiddies, don't read at work, etc.
Summary: Oh, but it all made sense now. River Song was Melody Pond, and Melody Pond was River Song. And River couldn’t tell them that she was Melody because with one single misstep, she could have easily wiped herself out of existence. That, the Doctor knew, would be a very bad thing - a story of the three months between "A Good Man Goes to War" and "Let's Kill Hitler."
Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4
It went remarkably smoothly after that. They landed just inside Tricopa’s throne room, and River handed him the antidote and instructed him on its use.
Tricopa took two swallows without question. Just as fast as he drank the liquid, the disease began to recede from his arm. He extended it, watching as it slowly revealed clear skin then disappeared. “It worked,” he murmured with a bit of disbelief, flexing the limb experimentally. He waited, as if expecting the disease to mock him and make a return appearance. When the skin remained clear and smooth, he allowed himself a shuddering sigh of relief. “Now, for my people. Doctor? Dr. Song? You are about to witness one of the planet’s miracles.” He clasped his hands together and began to murmur in a language that not even the TARDIS wasn’t bothering to translate. It was all part of the planet’s mysteries, one that wouldn’t reveal itself, even to them.
The floor began to quake, just a bit. Enough to where the furniture rattled but nothing toppled over. It wasn’t an earthquake, but the immense power held by Ityicha’s monarchy, the Doctor realized, his gaze riveted on the king. With a great cry, Tricopa dropped to his knees and slammed his hands against the floor. White flashes of light shot across the room and up the walls, cleansing the disease from it. When it faded, the tapestry panels had been restored to their original condition, and at the end, he noticed there was a new one.
The Doctor wandered over to it and was amused to see that it was Tricopa at his throne, a vase of water in his hands, and flanked by two figures that were most likely himself and River. Well, a man and a figure that had a mass of what was suppose to be curly hair, but instead looked like a child took a crayon and scribbled gleefully on the paper.
Behind him, River sighed. “They never get the hair right.”
The Doctor chuckled, tapped her nose and trotted back to Tricopa. “So, going to keep things going smoothly from here on out? What about all that trash?”
“The new waste-processing plant should be done within the month. My bigger concern is that Dr. Song is right. Someone most likely brought this disease on planet. I have to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” Tricopa wandered to the window. He sighed at the remains of the failed stake-burning in the courtyard. “My father treated the people here horribly to prevent such a thing. I don’t want them to suffer. This planet is beautiful. I can’t imagine being happy anywhere but here.”
“I believe I can solve that one for you.” River rolled up her sleeve and pressed a button on her vortex manipulator. “Ennista? We’re ready for you.”
The throne room door opened, just a crack. Ennista winged her eyebrows up as she took in the throne room, a low sound of wonder just under her breath. She caught sight of her king and quickly did a bow. “Sire. Dr. Song. Doctor. I got what you were looking for.” She removed the thin recorder River had given her and handed it over.
River used a thumbnail to activate it. The scratchy voice of the counselor who had protested the Doctor’s intervention in River’s execution came through, admitting to bringing the disease on planet and using a link to contact the Brotherhood. He raged in front of the cleaning staff, because to him they were no one. It never occurred to him that a member of said crew had been planted in there to spy on him.
But, the Doctor and River knew that every person was important.
Now, so did Ennista.
“You think he’s serious?” Ennista asked as she walked to the TARDIS doors with them a few minutes later. Tricopa had gone to have his counselor arrested. “The king, offering to pay for my law school?”
“Very serious,” the Doctor assured her. “You have the makings of a brilliant politician, Ennista. Don’t turn it down because you’re scared. Or, if you want,” he started to offer her a trip on the TARDIS then hesitated, catching River’s eye. She shook her head slightly, and he knew what that meant. They had other business to attend to. “We’ll come watch your first trial.”
“Counting on it, Doctor!” Ennista waved them off.
Once they were back in the TARDIS, River pulled a vial of purple liquid out of her pouch. “I picked this off a Brotherhood monk when we were with Jim. I ran it through some tests after we picked up the water. It’s the bacteria that created the tree-rot.”
“So, they were coming for us.” The Doctor held it up to the light.
“They must have just gotten the transmission from the counselor.” River took it back from him. “I’ll go destroy this.”
There were no new messages from Amy, which was a very good thing. The Doctor took them into the vortex and left the TARDIS drifting there, not quite sure where to go next. He should be taking River to see Amy and Rory, to give them that much comfort. He needed to be investigating Melody’s whereabouts or trying to coax them out of River. Oh, who was he kidding, he’d be more likely to successfully interrogate a Dalek than he would to get that information out of River.
More as a stalling technique than anything, he went in search for a coat to replace his tweed. He still had several tweed coats to wear, but he felt like something new. It took a few minutes of searching before he found a smart, dark green overcoat. He swirled it on and decided it met his approval. With a spring in his step, he headed out of the console room and saw River had changed again. She was back in the dress she’d worn to see Jim the Fish, her hair braided. She was barefoot, and he spotted the red polish on her toenails. He swallowed and pulled the coat around him. Yes. Yes, a longer coat would be a very good thing around River Song.
“How do I look?” He swept his arms open as he paraded down the stairs.
She flashed him a brilliant smile. “Amazing.”
“You better believe it.” They grinned at the repeated exchange. They had a habit of that, he noticed. He liked that. There was something very settled about it. He ran his hand down her arm, brushing by to pull a lever on the console, then looked down into that smile again. On the console, his fingers entwined with hers.
There were grand, epic moments in life. Huge, life-altering decisions made in overwhelming situations. But, the absolute beauty of complex relationships, he knew, was that those same life-altering decisions could be made in the space of a heartbeat. Two in his case. As River smiled at him, with those magnificent eyes filled with devotion and trust in him -- despite knowing he repeatedly wanted to change her very existence … Everything shifted and locked into place, and tears came to his eyes.
“How am I ever going to tell Amy she will never see her baby again?” he asked hoarsely.
“Oh, sweetie.” She took him in her arms and let him finally weep against the crook of her shoulder. Her hands threaded through his hair, rocking them back and forth as she crooned soft words in Gaillifreyan. Amy and Rory. His Ponds. They would hate him for this, for being so, so, so selfish. But not a single line. River had made him swear that a long time ago. Don’t change a single line of their time together. This was what she had meant. Not those early attempts when he thought of walking away and changing everything because he’d been too stubborn, too afraid. No, it was here. Demon’s Run. Here, he had to choose which path to follow, and he wasn’t strong enough to risk losing River. Not after she’d wormed her way into his soul and refused to let go.
For once, he wanted something all his own, something he didn’t need to fear losing because, in a way, he’d already lost her. He’d seen her die in the Library. He’d seen her as a newborn at Demon's Run, insulting his fashion sense from the start. Now they were filling the spaces in-between. He gave himself over to the inevitability that he had fallen in love with this maddening, not-quite-human, very nearly Time Lady who was also very much a Pond. He loved River. He loved Amy and Rory. Somehow, he’d sort it all out.
“Amy and Rory will be OK,” she soothed. “They will be fine, and they will be happy. Just remember that.”
He would remember it. He would carry it like a mantra, repeating it to himself over and over again in the days and weeks to come but. Now, he allowed her to gently wipe the tears away with the pad of her thumb before leaning into kiss her. His hands twitched a bit before settling at her waist, and he was pleased that he wasn’t jerking about like an overexcited mime any longer. It felt he couldn’t get enough breath and his respiratory bypass wasn’t working, giving him a heady rush as they leisurely kissed. This was going to hurt like hell, this thing they had between them. But, he was too far along now to even consider turning back.
They went buffalo racing on the ice floes of Norgalway and had a duel with the Three Musketeers of Gall. They picnicked in Ancient Greece, solved a mystery with Cleopatra (who happened to fancy both of them) and rescued a lost family of Narns from an asteroid that was about to crash into a planet. When a craving for chips hit, the Doctor took them to Calderon Beta and was pleased to see from the look on River’s face that they’d been here before. Many times, she admitted, and fed him a chip before pushing him into an alley so she could properly snog him.
In a lot of ways, it felt like a honeymoon. As the days slipped by, it was more natural to lay a hand at the small of her back as they walked, link hands or be pulled into a darkened corner for a quick snog. He was rather pleased when he happened to be the one initiating those. They both avoided his phone and stayed away from the TARDIS as much as possible in case Amy tried to call again.
They eventually wound back up on Ityicha, landing a year after the tree-rotting disease was eradicated. The planet was thriving, and the waste treatment facilities were doing their job. There were no longer cascading rains of waste puddling at the roots of the immense trees. Instead, everything was piped underground to be turned into fertilizer. It kept the trees strong, Tricopa explained as he personally gave the Doctor and River a tour.
In three days time, Ennista would be taking the bench as an assistant prosecutor in training, working on the trial of the counselor that had poisoned the trees. As promised, the Doctor and River would be there -- especially since Ennista turned up at their room with a subpoena that proclaimed they would be asked to testify as witnesses.
“If you’re not there, we’re sending the guards after you,” she threatened, but grinned at them all the same. “I think they’ve a desire to see you in chains, Dr. Song.”
“There’s so many ways that can be taken, Ennista,” River said with a flirty wink. The Doctor found himself studying the ceiling with a blush. “Don’t worry. We won’t shirk our judicial duty … again,” she murmured under her breath.
“Again?” The Doctor asked after Ennista had left.
“Let’s just say when I was younger, I skipped out on jury service by doing some excellent hacking. I wound up having one of my closest friends being summoned in my stead.” River smiled fondly. “One day, I’ll even tell you who it was. Oh, but it was hilarious. The police showed up looking for him while he was in the shower. His girlfriend was over at the time. It was quite the nasty little escapade that I managed to “fix” a few hours after he was hauled down to the station wearing nothing but a towel and a shower cap.”
She gave a throaty laugh. “They never knew it was me. I think they suspected, though they couldn’t prove it. I did do them a favor. I got all of us wiped off the rolls to be called for jury service.”
“Any particular reason?”
“Detention for public protection.”
“Protecting you from the public, or the public from you?”
“What do you think, sweetie?”
He shook his head. “My bad, bad girl.”
They’d wound up in the same resort suite River had secured the previous year, declining rooms at the palace. It had one of the most spectacular views of the entire planet, and it felt right to be back there. Because they didn’t have the time on their previous visit, River tugged the Doctor out to the balcony to show off the view of the planet from there. It was of a tree branch that had been cut down and reshaped into the balcony. The rails were carved vines, with little flowering branches protruding from them. Native flowers entwined themselves among the rails.
In lieu of a table and chairs, fluffy pillows the size of a small bed were scattered everywhere, with little raised tables between them. Because they easily seated two, they plopped into one together and watched the paper airplanes soar through the sky. Fairy lights looping through other trees winked on as the sun started to set.
They brought books with them and talked. It was here that River told the Doctor about her childhood, as much as she could remember, about living in Florida and Greystark Hall. About being in the suit, being shot at by Amy, and a terrifying trip into the vortex when she was eight years old.
“They forced you to look into the Untempered Schism,” he said quietly.
“Yes. I didn’t know it was called that at the time.” she touched his cheek, shifting so the book she had in her lap nearly fell off. “Don’t look like that. I’m fine.”
He couldn’t stop thinking of the child in the spacesuit, looking lost and begging for help. Knowing now that it was River … the guilt crawled through him. She’d been forced to look into the Untempered Schism, held prisoner inside of a NASA spacesuit, then regenerated alone in New York. It was a horrible experience for anyone, but for a child … for River … “What else did they do to you? What happened after you regenerated?”
“Spoilers.” She ran her thumb over his cheek. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
He suspected the kiss she followed with was to distract him more than anything, and he let himself be distracted. Because he couldn’t let himself think about it anymore. If he did, he would go try to save Melody. And, he promised River that he wouldn’t. The risks were too much to even consider. He didn’t have to study their timelines to know that they would fray, disintegrate into nothing if he even tried. He would never tell River or Amy that a positive search on the location of Melody Pond had come up a few days earlier. He’d promptly deleted it.
So, he lost himself in her, in the exquisite newness of it all. His hands roamed beneath her jumper, tracing circles on the small of her back. She moaned a bit into his mouth, and he smirked. It was one of the many things he’d learned over the past few weeks spent with her -- how she acted like a cat whenever he touched her casually. A back scratch was heavenly, and a random shoulder massage had nearly been as gratifying as sex. His hands inched up her back until they were toying with the clasp of her bra.
She broke the kiss, pressing her forehead to his. “Honey, it doesn’t have to be right now.”
He faltered, his famous gift of gab completely and utterly failing him. “I haven’t … you probably know … not since Rose …”
“Well, I almost did with Queen Liz, but …”
She gave a throaty laugh. “Oh, sweetie. I definitely know you didn’t manage that one.”
The Doctor scowled at her. “Really, that’s quite rude. I’ll have you know I never made it to the glade she was waiting at.”
“Mmm … hmm …” River playfully bit his ear.
Actually, the memory was extremely hazy, and the Doctor was starting to suspect that River had something to do with it. So, he cut off her teasing by promptly tugging her jumper up until she had to raise her arms. Her breasts were lovely and plump, and oh, he’d forgotten how much he enjoyed doing this. He eagerly explored her with his fingertips, brushing up the sides of her breasts and teasing the nipples through the lace cups. He gently kissed her pulse point, feeling the rapid beat beneath his lips as he fumbled with her bra clasp. Then, he gave up, pulled the sonic out of his coat pocket -- an awkward thing since he was busy paying attention to her clavicle -- and used it on the clasp.
It not only popped open, but it disintegrated the bra, causing River to laugh.
“I have lost more lingerie because you can’t figure out how bras work, sweetie,” she said, seating herself firmly on his lap. She circled her hips slowly, the friction through the layers of clothes they still wore both intoxicating and torturous at the same time.
“Really, that’s quite rude. You should wear more front-clasp ones.”
“I’ll take it under consideration.”
“No, you won’t.” He kissed his way down her chest, and she lifted up to give him better access to her breasts. “I think, Dr. Song, you like to drive me mad.”
“Just a little,” she gasped as he took one of her breasts into his mouth. Her hands threaded through his hair, and she pulled just a little too tightly as she rocked back and forth. He pressed a kiss over each heart, then nuzzled her sternum. He could feel her double pulse just there, and it was the most incredible thing in the universe.
He wasn’t sure how much time passed as he languorously explored her, committing each taste, smell and touch to memory. His hand slid into her knickers, pleased when she twisted and jerked like an electric current as his fingers slid over her. Slowly, he turned them so she was pressed into the pillows, all of that glorious hair spread out over the dove grey cushions. It gave him far more room to work with, pressing his body over hers as he gently circled her clit again and again, teasing her mercilessly as he felt her tense and reach … reach … then move his hand away right when he sensed she was about to reach her orgasm.
She swore in six languages at that, and he laughed and nipped at her collarbone. He worked her trousers and knickers off and repeated the maneuver once more. He was about to replace his fingers with his lips, when she reached down and pressed his fingers sharply against her. Her orgasm was as loud as she’d once promised it would be, and she fell against the cushions with a shuddering sigh.
“You cheated,” he scolded.
“I could have shot you for that,” she managed, and they began to laugh. He fell back on his side of the cushion, experimentally licking at his fingers. Slightly musky, a bit salty, and all hers. He filed that memory away as well.
The stars were coming out as she helped him shed the rest of his clothes, pressing his back into the cushions as she explored him herself. He’d had this body for awhile, but oh, there were still new things to learn -- like how her tongue along his ribcage made him gasp, and a light tickle to the back of the knee was as arousing as well … well, anything could be arousing. He wanted so very badly to position her over his hips, but knew this was a learning experience for him. She was teaching him what this body craved, and one day in his future and her past, that he would return the favor.
She stopped short of actually taking him in her mouth -- it would have made the experience embarrassingly short -- but did run her tongue up the flat of her palm before skimming that hand up his shaft. Up, brushed over the tip, back down. He shuddered and fisted the cushions, mentally reciting archaic verb conjugations, every planet in the solar system, and … oh god. His hips twitched, and he found himself chanting her name as he reached for her, not wanting to finish this particular encounter in her clever hand.
Unlike him, she was merciful, scrambling over his hips and lifting hers so he slid easily into her. His expansive vocabulary failed to come up with the exact words to describe the picture she made -- hair in wild disarray, all the love she had for him shining in her eyes, set against a background of stars, soaring paper airplanes, and a magical tree city. As they moved together, as she found her release once more, and he fell after her, he knew this place, this planet, this moment, would be one of the most sacred memories he would ever have.
Too bad they had to run away the next day.
“Really? 115 public decency violations?” The Doctor managed as Ennista presented them with the stack of arrest warrants.
“People riding in the airplanes. We probably gave them quite a show,” River said as she peered at them over the Doctor’s shoulder. “That’s nowhere near our record.”
“You might want to get out of here before the guards get here,” Ennista said, tongue-in-cheek.
“Right! Well, Ennista, good luck with your career! Here, you can clear these up!” The Doctor shoved the folder back at her. They just barely got back to the TARDIS as the guards shouted for them to halt. “Sorry, fellas! Going to have to take a rain check on that arrest! Say goodbye, River.”
“Goodbye, River!” she cheekily replied, tossed a kiss at the guards, gave them a cheerful wave, and they immediately slammed the door and headed into the vortex.
Fifteen minutes later, the Doctor found River in his library, hanging up a framed arrest warrant that she’d apparently nicked on one of the walls. It was the only thing on there. “Baby’s first public indecency warrant,” she said, stood back and admired her handiwork.
“First? How many will there be?”
River hummed a bit under her breath. “Well, it is a big wall.”
“Well, it’s not like we’re going to fill it, are we?”
River winked and sauntered out of the library as the Doctor blushed and sputtered. But, he didn’t take the warrant down.
Fourteen framed arrest warrants later, they stumbled onto the TARDIS to find a newspaper laying on the console. The Doctor scooped it up. “Leadworth’s crop circle?”
“Oh.” River peered over his shoulder, then kissed his cheek. “That’s my cue.”
“To leave.” She brushed his fingers over his hair as his face fell. “Honey, we knew you’d have to go back to Amy and Rory someday. We have so much time ahead of us. But, it’s their turn now. You have to go see them.”
“I don’t know what to tell them,” he admitted.
“You’ll figure it out. Even if it’s Rule 1. Besides, I have it on excellent authority that you all will find out what happened to Melody Pond very, very soon.”
She kissed him, and he pulled her to him, kissing her back. “River, I …”
She pressed a finger to his lips. “Not time yet,” she whispered. “You’ll understand soon enough. Just know that I do as well, with everything that I am.” She flipped two switches on the console, patted the time rotor and kissed him once more. Suddenly, he heard crack and sizzle of time being displaced, the smell of ozone, and then she was gone just as the TARDIS initiated her landing sequence.
The Doctor smiled fondly, adjusted his coat and scooped up the newspaper. He had to go speak with the Ponds about a rather unusual crop circle.