Characters and/or pairings: 11/River
Warnings, kinks & contents: None
Word Count: 1170
Spoilers: Not unless you don't know who River is.
Summary: Some days don't make it into the diary. 11/River fluff, with a side order of time-twistedness.
A/N: Title is from borrowed from ee cummings.
River folded her arms and pinned him with the unforgiving look that she reserved for his more patently ridiculous moments. “And where, exactly, do you think you’re going?”
The Doctor’s knuckles were white against the bedframe, but he had energy enough to return the scowl. “Asgard. Picnic. Do you even pay attention when I talk, or do you wander in and out as the mood takes you?”
“I try to stay put, I really do. It’s difficult sometimes. You have that sort of face.”
He sighed, grimacing as his ribs protested the exertion. “I know.”
“Not that it’s ever stopped you - the baby-face, I mean.” She was seated by the headboard now, boots skimming the floor. Though the curls obscured her profile from where he stood, he knew that the Look was still in place, softened by fond remembrance. “There was that one time on Metebelis V – I shouldn’t say too much, this is just the preview…”
If he co-ordinated each movement with an outward breath, the Doctor found that the vertigo receded to manageable proportions. Then another spasm broke his concentration, and the room heaved. Someone’s hands caught him in mid-fall; almost certainly too quick to be River, but his time-sense was distorting along with his vision, and he wasn’t prepared to take either at their word for the moment.
“Okay. Just a small legs-related setback here, nobody panic. Normal service will resume-”
“-tomorrow. Or even the day after.” The hands moved to his shoulders and eased him back against the wall. Definitely River; there was only one person who attended to this body with such familiarity. “Wonderful thing about time travel, my love; you can have all the tomorrows you need.” Her boots creaked as she rose, fingers running lightly through his hair. “Rest. I can manage from here.”
The change, when it came, took him almost unawares. There was a soft hiss, as of air being released from a pressure valve, and suddenly the wall against which he was leaning had ceased to be a wall and become a cliff face, dappled silver in the rays of a phantom moon. He reached out for the floor, and its sand evaporated to his touch.
“What do you think?” River called, from the doorway. “New desktop theme; ripped it from the TARDIS data banks. The sky isn’t quite mauve enough for Asgard, but it’ll do. And- she remembered to leave us the hamper.” A bottle caught the starlight as she held it up, followed by two glasses. “Remember, this bit was your plan, so I take no responsibility for the contents. What have we got?”
“Oh - that. That’s from Henry XII. Little ‘thanks-for-not-destroying-my-battle-fle
After some to-ing and fro-ing they rearranged the hamper’s contents in the brightest corner of their glade, using the bed sheets as a makeshift picnic blanket. Through an ingenuity that reminded him, with painful abruptness, of her parents, River soon fashioned a recliner for him out of the upturned hamper and half a dozen pillows, which proved to be unreasonably comfortable.
“There we are. What’s the chest like?”
“A Gamma Meson blast will do that to you. How bad? On a scale of one to ten.”
The Doctor made a noise that, if transcribed, might well have been rendered as gnargh.
“Not really a number, sweetie. Still, I think we have a rough idea. Hold on.” A moment’s search located the sliding panel to the infirmary medicine cabinet, which opened up as a white gap in the cliff. “The old girl can be really quite helpful when she wants to be. Won’t hurt a bit.”
He braced himself at that, but the only sensation from the injector was one of fleeting cold, like a stray breeze. “…you weren’t lying.”
“Hm, I know. Happens sometimes. Now, wing or drumstick? I think it’s chicken- correct me if I’m wrong.”
By the time the first course was over, the moon had already begun its descent, and the sky was tinged in violet dawn. River’s boots lay discarded on a nearby rock as she let the sand pass through her bare toes; apparently oblivious to him, although the pensive hunch of her shoulders told otherwise.
“What are we going to do about General Muldar’s lot, then? I mean, they did shoot you, which is frankly inexcusable.”
The Doctor pinched the bridge of his nose. “History says they reach an accord with the rebels in two years’ time, ready for the expansion of the second great and bountiful human empire. One of those big old temporal tipping points. They don’t need us tipping it any further.”
River gave him a very cautious shove to the elbow. “So why did you even answer their distress call?”
A blank look of incomprehension. “Because it was a distress call. Someone wants me, I turn up. Sort of how it works.”
“Except for when it doesn’t.” Her right thumb traced out his palm lines, gentle unwavering pressure. “I’m not asking that you stop, my love. You’d be such a nuisance moping about the place, and besides, the universe has its own ideas. But for god’s sake, be reasonable once in a while. That body of yours isn’t as young as it thinks it is. We can’t always be hauling each other out of scrapes.”
The Doctor was vaguely conscious that he was in danger of pouting, though the not-wine and the drugs and the shadows all united against his ability to care. “Hauling? Who needs hauling? I can haul myself, you just watch me.”
“Oh, I do. And current circumstances beg to differ, sweetie.”
Somewhere inside his head was an exceptionally brilliant retort. At present, however, he was damned if he could find it. “…shut up.”
“Fine. Only on compassionate grounds, mind you. The conversation is going to happen, husband. Or maybe it has- sometimes you’re so discreet, it’s maddening.”
They sat there for a while in companionable silence, until the Doctor roused himself with a jolt. The last stages of exhaustion were bearing down on him like a great tidal shift, and unless he thought very hard about the next sentence they were likely to get into all kinds of trouble.
“Leave this one off the record, eh? We need to do Asgard properly. This is, uh -”
“- time off for good behaviour?”
“Yes. No. Oh, never mind. Forget I said anything.”
There were nights, in the transient half-space between waking and dreaming, when the universe would stand so absolutely still that its timelines became a map before his mind's eye, and his own path wove its stitches between the stars.
Tonight, as the darkness began to wane and River’s arms encircled his, he sought out the intractable knot where their days converged; where they exchanged lies, and promises, and ran together from the song of Darillium’s towers.
He was asleep before he reached the end.