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Winking at Strangers

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The Doctor remembers why she tries to limit companion numbers to one at a time; any more and they’re so terribly difficult to keep track off.

“What did I say,” she complains to Yaz as they meander through the busy alien marketplace, “What was the one thing I said not to do - don’t wander off!”

“I know,” replies Yaz, “I heard you the first six times.”

“I mean I expected as much from Ryan but Graham!”

“Look they can’t have gone far. They probably just… got distracted and turned around.”

“Back to the Tardis?”

“No I mean - got turned round. You know. Lost.”

“Well I know they’re lost Yaz. That’s why we’re looking for them. Now think - where did we last see them? Was it by the hats? I think it was by the hats.”

“You just want an excuse to go back to the hat stall,” Yaz says, rolling her eyes a bit. “It took us half an hour to get you away from there the first time.”

“Don’t exaggerate, it wasn’t half an hour. And besides! I don’t have any hats to fit this…”

“Doctor?”

But the Doctor doesn’t reply, having trailed off as her eyes landed on something across the marketplace she’d never expected to lay eyes on again.

“Doctor?” Yaz asks again, and following her line of sight, prompts; “Someone you know?”

The Doctor nods mutely.

Yaz nudges her. “Want to go and say hello?”

Throat dry, she shakes her head. “No,” she says, quietly but firmly. “She doesn’t know me. Not with this face. And she can’t.”

“Can’t?”

“Timelines… it’s complicated,” the Doctor gives a sigh.

Across the market, River Song finishes her bartering with the stall keeper, handing over a handful of coins and accepting a small object in return, which she tucks neatly into her cleavage. A smile tugs at the Doctor’s lips as she fondly rolls her eyes, and she is just about to sadly turn away from the ghost of her past she was never meant to see before River can spot her staring, when all of a sudden the curly-haired woman looks straight across the street and locks eyes with her. The Doctor stops breathing. River’s eyes flicker briefly over her before she looks back into her own and winks , before turning away and slipping off into the crowd.

“Er…” The Doctor hears Yaz stutter from beside her. “It kind of seems like she does know you, Doctor.”

Breathe, right, yes. Gasping a little, both her hearts beating double time due to the brief deprivation of oxygen and quite possibly the mere presence of River, she gives herself a shake. “No, she can’t,” she says firmly, to both Yaz and herself. “She’s just… I mean that’s just her. Winking at strangers. Does it all the time. I think. Probably. Typical River. Yep.”

“River? Is that her name?”

The Doctor swallows, turning away. “Doesn’t matter what her name was. She’s gone. Come on then!” She says, forcefully cheery. “We gonna go and find these two or what? Can’t have wandered far!”

--

Ryan and Graham hadn’t wandered far at all, it turns out, when they bump into them in the next street - right by the hat stall, much to the Doctor’s delight.

“Oh for heaven’s sake what did you bring her back here for?” Graham complains to Yaz. “Took us half an hour to get her away the first time!”

“It’s not my fault, you’re the ones who got lost and wound up back here!”

“Oi! What d’you think?” Says the Doctor, hands out and a ridiculous looking black stetson perched on top of her head, complete with a purple feather.

“I think none of these people have ever seen a John Wayne film in their lives,” says Graham, and the Doctor tuts.

“Not people Graham, they’re aliens. And they got it mostly right. How much is this please?” She turns to the stall keeper.

“Doctor,” it’s Ryan looking across the market place up at one of the buildings.

“Not now Ryan - unless you’ve got any money? Have you?”

“No, Doctor - look!”

She turns just as Yaz gives a gasp from next to her.

“Doctor!” She says. “It’s that woman from earlier!”

The Doctor takes the hat from her head and places it back as she stares up to where the crowds are starting to point, to see none other than River Song, standing on the very top of what appears to be a large clock tower, arms out to the side.

“Oh my god,” says Ryan. “She’s gonna jump!”

The Doctor swallows. “Yep. Yep she is, Ryan.”

Muttering is going round the crowd and the attention of almost the whole market square is now on River- just the way she likes it - thinks the Doctor.

“Doctor!” Says Yaz urgently. “Can’t we do something!?”

“Yeah,” says the Doctor, watching as River turns and lets herself fall backwards off the tower to the screams of the people below. A split second later, long before she can hit the ground, the Tardis materialises briefly in mid air, scooping her neatly up before both vanish again.

“Woah - what!? What just happened!?” Gasps Yaz.

“Was that your Tardis Doc!?” Says a baffled Graham.

“Yeah,” sighs the Doctor again, turning away. “Be right back.”

“Wait - where you going!?”

“To catch her,” she tells Yaz, like it’s obvious. “Obviously.”

--

The Tardis throws out its anti-gravity fields as River nears it, slowing her decent and settling her gracefully on her feet inside the console room.

“Ah,” says River, smoothing down her dress and hair. “Thank you dear.”

“You’re welcome,” Says the Doctor, stepping out cautiously from behind the console.

“I was talking to the Tardis,” Laughs River.

The Doctor swallows. “Still throwing yourself off buildings then?”

“Trusting you to catch me?” Smiles River, and her suspicions are confirmed. “Always.”

“Very dangerous you know,” the Doctor says, because she doesn’t know what else to say.

“Well I had to do something to get your attention sweetie. You didn’t come after me in the marketplace.”

The Doctor shrugs, stepping a bit closer. “You could have just come and said hello,” she says quietly.

“So could you!”

“I didn’t know you knew me!” She exclaims, and River pauses at that, eyes widening a bit.

“You’re new.”

The Doctor swallows again. “How can you know me?” She breathes, and then River straightens, and smiles at her, eyes twinkling with a thousand promises.

“Spoilers.”

The Doctor lets out a laugh that comes out like a sob, and to her horror realises her eyes have quickly filled with water.

River’s face softens.

“Are you crying?”

“No,” she says firmly, sniffing. “I don’t cry. That’s for humans.”

“Sweetie, I’ve watched ‘the Good Dinosaur’ with you.”

“That film is not for children!” The Doctor exclaims, wiping at her cheeks. “That film shouldn’t even be allowed for adults!”

River chuckles as the Doctor sniffs again, getting control of herself. Stupid emotions!

But River is standing just across the console from her, gazing at her with a soft smile on her lips and there’s still spoilers! And she wants to cry all over again. But she’s not about to do that - not now, in front of her wife, whom she hadn’t seen in so long it feels like an eternity, and who she never expected to see again. So she clears her throat and sets about distracting herself; “So River Song. What brings you to this planet. Not much happening here - pretty peaceful time period; not your sort of place at all.”

River laughs. “Oh you know me so well,” she purrs, and the Doctor is glad her wife understands her well enough to go along with the change of conversation direction. “The same thing that’s brought you here though, I imagine.”

The Doctor’s eyebrows shoot up. “And what’s that?”

“Oh,” says River. “You don’t know.” Her eyes twinkle. “Nothing. Forget I said anything.”

“River…”

“Thanks for the catch sweetie but I really should be going.”

“River!” She bounds round the console and into River’s path before she can leave. They are closer now and she looks up into her wife’s face - up! She’d never had to look up before! “Tell me what’s going on.”

“Nothing for you to worry your pretty head over honey,” she says patronisingly. “I’ll catch up with you another time.” She goes to brush past her but the Doctor blocks her path, squaring up to her crossly.

“River Song,” she says sternly, “If you -” But she doesn’t get to finish what she’d been going to say because her wife has seized the sides of her face, pulled her in close and is kissing her.

Kissing River. She’d forgotten what that felt like. Well no, that was a lie, kissing River Song wasn’t the type of thing one ever forgot , but certainly the feeling it gave her had been dulled over time because the ringing in her ears and the way (almost) all the thoughts in her head suddenly went quiet is certainly something she hadn’t explicitly recalled whenever she thought about it. (Which she can’t deny is something she had done very often.)

She doesn’t remember ever having to tilt her head back to kiss her, and as she winds her arms up round her neck she finds herself going up onto her tiptoes to gain better height and that’s certainly something she also doesn’t remember, along with the strange exclamations of “Woah, what!?” She can hear in her head. No, wait - those aren’t in her head. She pushes River back, landing back down on her feet properly and looking around, wide eyed and slightly short of breath, at her three companions who have just entered the Tardis and are now staring at them in shock.

“Oh,” the Doctor says, shoving her hair out of her face (it was always doing that this time around - so annoying) “Hello gang. You found me then. Where did I park?”

“The same place as before - three hours ago,” says Ryan, sounding annoyed.

“Oh - oops. Must be the - time rotors off. Or me. We haven’t been doing that for three hours have we?” She looks at River.

“I’m good but I’m not that good, sweetie,” River rolls her eyes. “Just your driving - as usual.”


“Hey - I resent that.”

“Doctor!” It’s Yaz, looking between them oddly but clearly distracted. “Look - that building your friend,” she nods at River, “jumped off earlier? It was a museum, and it was raided. They said they’ve had their most valuable artifact stolen some… puzzle piece, or something?”

“Shard,” says Graham. “It was a shard belonging to -”

“The pyramid of life!” Gasps the Doctor. “Their most sacred item - the people of this world worship that - and not only that it’s a way for them to look into the past - connect with their ancestors even! And if a shards missing that means…”

“Well this has been lovely but it’s time I was off,” River cuts in and the Doctor whirls to face her with a gasp.

“You didn’t!”

“Girl’s gotta make a living somehow,” she shrugs. “Oh don’t worry - they’ll get it back. Eventually.”


“River! No - wait, don’t you dare - !”

But with a a quick tap on her wrist River vanishes just as the Doctor lunges for her. She gives a cry of frustration as she scrambles off the floor and flies to the console.

“What the - did she just vanish!?” Exclaims Ryan.

“Vortex manipulator. But I can track her signal…” She says, tapping away. “Aha! There! Not far, same place same time, just across town.”


“Doc who was that!?” Asks Graham.

“That? That was my wife. And we’re going after her. Hold on gang!”


“But Doctor - surely she knows you can follow her?” Yells Yaz over the engines of the Tardis as they fire up.

“She doesn’t just know Yaz,” Says the Doctor with a mad grin, “I’m betting she’s counting on it.”

 

Chapter Text

 

“So this pyramid thing,” Says Graham as they sneak through darkened corridors. “It won’t work without that - shard?”

“No, it’s made up of exactly three hundred and eighty five shards and if even one is out of place, let alone missing, the link is lost.”

“And your… wife,” he says the word awkwardly, like he can’t quite get his head round it (she wouldn’t blame him - came as a surprise to her herself that she still had one quite honestly) “Stole it? Why?”

The Doctor shrugs as they duck behind a corner and she quickly scans ahead with her sonic. “To sell to the highest bidder knowing River. Did I not mention,” she turns briefly to face them, “I may or may not have married a criminal. All clear!”

As she carries on out she hears their footsteps hurrying to keep up with her.

“A criminal?” Says Ryan, sounding a bit impressed. “What like - seriously?”

“Well yeah, but not the dangerous kind. Well not really. I mean a bit. Sometimes. Quite a lot actually, but I mean she fixed it all after she killed me. Both times in fact!” She says with a fond smile.

“Sorry, did you say killed you ?” Says Yaz in an urgent hushed voice.

“Well... yeah but only a bit. I got better.”

“How did she kill you?” Quizzes Ryan, sounding more intrigued about that than as to how she was still alive.

“Poisoned me the first time, shot me the second. Or the first, depending on which way you look at it.”

“Hang on a minute I’m not getting this,” Graham cuts in. “You hate people doing wrong - and guns - especially guns - and you married a woman who goes around breaking into museums and stealing precious artifacts - and shooting people!"

“Err,” the Doctor pauses, scratching her face a bit awkwardly. “Yeah. What can I say - sucker for a bad girl.”

“She sounds awesome!” Says Ryan with some amusement, and the Doctor turns to flash him a grin.

“She is. And her hearts are in the right place. Usually,” she adds as an afterthought.

“Hearts, plural?” Presses Yaz as they creep along to the next corner. “She’s like you then? An… alien, I mean?”

“Sort of, yeah.”

“Everything’s only 'sort of' with you, isn’t it Doc?”

She turns to give Graham a grin. “Yeah! Sort of.”

“Does she have a Tardis too then?” Asks Ryan.

“Nope. Although you’d think she owned mine sometimes, the way she goes about swanning in whenever she fancies, stealing it right from under me nose.”

“Borrowing,” says a familiar voice from the doorway they'd just passed by. “And she prefers my driving anyway, poor dear needs a break every now and again.”

“River!” The Doctor growls through her teeth as they all whirl to face her.

“Took you long enough!” Says River.

“Give me the shard,” the Doctor holds out her hand sternly as she steps towards her.

River shrugs innocently. “I don’t have it honey.”

“Don’t lie to me River Song, I know you stole it!”

“I did steal it, yes. But I’m not lying. You can search me if you like,” she purrs, and Ryan coughs from behind them.

“Hang on,” The Doctor says, head tilted. “Why are you dressed like that?” She moves closer as she takes in the white uniform River has on - she’s certain she wasn’t wearing that before and she’s also certain she’s seen something like that here somewhere else.

“Oh,” Says River, glancing up as the Doctor steps closer to her. “You’re about to find out in about three… two…”

Sirens blast out, so loud the Doctor and her companions give a shout of surprise and cover their ears, and as chaos breaks out, thirty or so guards thundering into the hall she’d just stepped into - guards! She knew she’d recognised that white uniform - she just has time to see River blow her a kiss before she flips down the face guard on her helmet and then something presses into the back of her neck and everything goes dark.

--

In hindsight, knowing River probably had expected the Doctor to follow her, she really should have realised that her wife would be likely to use that to her advantage. It had been some time since the Doctor had been outsmarted and quite honestly she was too impressed to be really cross. Not that she was going to let River see that.

“You used me!” She accuses her from behind the bars of the small cell her and her three new friends had been thrown into. It was modest but tidy despite the layer of dust, with a small bed, chair and even tea making facilities. These people really were a peaceful sort of race - she doubted it got much use.

“Only a little,” Shrugs River from the other side, still in the white guard’s uniform but helmet discarded.

“Gonna let us out then?”

“Of course I am.” She dangles the keys in her hand and the Doctor turns to her companions with a relieved sort of ‘see - told you she’d come through’ grin.

“But not yet.”

The grin fades and she whirls to face her again. “Not yet, what do you mean not yet? Why not!?”

“Well because I’ve spent rather a long time setting this up and I’m not about to let you loose so you can rush in and ruin it all right at the very end.”

“Ruin what?” She demands with narrowed eyes and hands round the bars. River just taps her nose. Infuriating woman!

“This was your plan all along wasn’t it? Not only get the shard inside without getting yourself caught but get me locked up out of the way in the process!”

“Ah well you know what they say. Two birds.”

“It’s not gonna work - you won’t get hold of it now - they’d have taken it as soon as it set the alarms off. Probably got it locked up with a thousand security codes somewhere by now.”

River dips a hand inside her coat and pulls out the shard. The Doctor’s mouth falls open and she stutters a bit crossly for a moment before she throws her hands up, defeated. “How did you even get it into my pocket in the first place!? When could you possibly have….” She trails off, thinking back to River’s lips pressed against her own, a hand sliding over her side, fingertips softly brushing the sides of her - well - some of her new parts - and feels her ears go pink. “Oh.”

River laughs. “I could have planted a ticking bomb on you and you wouldn’t have noticed. And I wasn’t even wearing my lipstick. Honestly honey this version of you is the easiest to distract; you should really keep your senses about you a bit better.”

“River,” she tries to look stern. “This isn’t a game to these people - that pyramid means everything to them.”

“Mhmm that’s what will make the reward so large.”

She throws her hands up again. “ River!”

“Don’t pout sweetie, it… well, I was going to say it doesn’t suit you but this time around it really does .”

“Stop that,” she says of her flirting.

“I’ll be back for you later. I promise.” River reaches through the bars to pull the Doctor close, hand on the back of her neck as she leans in for a kiss but the Doctor leaps back.

“Ah!” She says, hand up in front of her, and suspicion in her eyes.

“I was only going to kiss you goodbye.”

“Yeah well you know what they say.” She says a bit sourly. “Once bitten and all.”

“Not this time honey. But the nights still young!”

She laughs as she slips away through the door, and they hear the key turn in the lock after her.

“Well,” says Graham after a moment. “Fat lot of good she was - I thought you said she was gonna come and rescue us!”

The Doctor gives a huff, rubbing the back of her neck where she’d been shocked earlier. “I think she must be fairly young. She grows out of this whole,” she waves her arms, “Intergalactic black market phase eventually. I can’t believe she knows me! All that time, she knew about this face.”

“So… you were a man when you married her?” Says Yaz curiously, and the Doctor nods.

“Yep. I hated that regeneration - could never control my limbs.”

“That’s how I feel most of the time,” snorts Ryan.

“Yes!” Says the Doctor. “I do sympathise with you Ryan. Nearly started a war once because I tripped over a step on the way up to greet the Queen of Azarath. Highly offensive to be clumsy there, apparently.”

“Remind me never to go to Azarath,” quips Ryan.

“And now you’re a woman…” Continues Yaz. “And - River, your wife? She doesn’t care?”

The Doctor blinks at her, a bit baffled. “Why would she care?”

“Well, because,” begins Ryan but Graham elbows him and shakes his head.

“I think that’s beautiful,” smiles Yaz. “She must really love you.”

“Yeah,” she replies, turning away under the pretense of fiddling with her sonic.

“Doc, can I ask you something?” Graham speaks up after a moment.

She whirls back to face him. “Yes, unless it’s ‘what’s the plan’ because that’s still in progress.”

“When we first met you, you said that you didn’t have any family - that they were all long gone… this River - your wife. How can she be here?”

The Doctor swallows. “I thought she was. Gone, for good I mean. She’s a time traveler like me, but… I thought our stories had come to an end quite some time ago…” She trails off a bit sadly.

“You’d already said goodbye,” understands Graham, and the Doctor nods, then after a moment breaks into a delighted grin. “But turns out I was wrong! I love it when that happens. Doesn’t happen very often!”

“Doctor!”

“Yes Ryan?”

“That in progress plan… you might wanna hurry it up a bit.”

She hurries over to where he’s looking out of the small cell window and stares up at the six huge spacecrafts looming overhead, seemingly looking for somewhere to land. All from different planets if the Doctor wasn’t mistaken. And at least four of them were definitely not on speaking terms.

River Song what have you done!?  She thinks furiously.  “Oh she is gonna be in such trouble when I get my hands on her!”

--

The Doctor hadn’t been speaking literally about getting her hands on her wife, but it seemed to have worked out all the same - just not quite the way she’d envisioned.

“Hang on,” she says, pushing River back, panting a bit. “Are you just trying to distract me again so you can do something I won’t approve of?”

River laughs. “Oh I’m sure you’ll approve of what I have in mind this time honey,” she says, sliding a hand over the Doctor’s new curves and setting her stomach fluttering with anticipation.

“Oh yeah?” The Doctor automatically flirts back, and River laughs as she leans back down to kiss her again.

“No, wait - I’m very cross with you!” She remembers, a hand between them again.

“Oh are you,” she purrs.

Yes ,” she says firmly, telling herself she’s immune to the way her wife is batting her eyelashes at her. “This could start a war, River!”

“I know, I know - and as we’ve already established, I may have overlooked a couple of minor political issues when I invited them all here for the auction - I’m only human we all make mistakes!”

“Not quite,” she narrows her eyes at her and River huffs, rolling her own.

“Look, I didn’t mean to do this. I was just going to make a pretty penny, hop ahead in time and get the shard back, hop back here after they’d all left then…”

“Ransom it back to it’s own people to make another pretty penny?” She finishes, eyebrow raised.

She shrugs. “A girl needs a hobby.”

“Take up knitting!” She fumes, elbowing her out the way to squeeze out of the little alcove they’d ducked into when two groups of guards had rushed past.

River grabs her by the arm and hauls her back - just in time too, as another guard rounds the corner and rushes past. She hopes Graham, Yaz and Ryan hadn’t encountered as many where she’d sent them retrieve the shard while her and River headed to turn around the spacecrafts.

“Not really the knitting type,” River whispers as the footsteps go past them and the Doctor rolls her eyes.

“No, I suppose you’re not.”

“And that’s why you love me,” grins River, but there is a slight lift to the end of her sentence, like a little part of her wasn’t certain. Definitely fairly early days then, thinks the Doctor. She’s not sure how to answer that - she’d never been any good with words when they were muddled up with feelings and it seemed this regeneration wasn’t any different. She replies instead by leaning up onto her tiptoes to press her lips to River’s again - it was really   going to take some time to get used to that - and she feels her wife respond ardently, arms sliding around her waist and her mouth opening beneath her own.

River’s back makes a thud as it hits the marble wall behind her, and the Doctor uses the new leverage to slide her hands into her wife’s hair and press her body fully up against her own. Lots of sensations and feelings are thrumming through her, and the Doctor realises with a jolt that this is the first time she’d felt lust in her new body and - well. It was… the same, so far as that she recognised what it was, but different . Good different, she thinks as her thigh slips between River’s own and she pushes down against the pressure of River’s leg against her core. A jolt of pleasure shoots up from between her legs and her mouth falls from River’s to gasp.

River gives a low chuckle and slides a hand round her body and between her legs to press up against the burning ache that’s building there.

“Oh,” she utters quietly, then again a little louder as River presses her fingers up harder against her.

“Hush, sweetie,” she reminds her, then kisses her again to halt the soft sounds leaving her lips as she slowly begins to rub her fingers in steady circles.

The Doctors hands grip tightly in River’s hair as she tries to keep her brain working through all the new sensations fizzing inside her like electricity in her veins. Then she realises her hands could be put to much better use, and she’s tugging at River’s clothes frantically, one hand finding it’s way to her soft stomach, and the other wriggling inside the tight white trousers she has on.

“Wait, wait,” River gasps, pulling back and placing a hand on the Doctor’s chest to put some distance between them. “We should stop.”

“Stop!?" She questions in disbelief. "Why?”

“Because,” River says, grabbing her wrist to halt its decent and panting a bit as the Doctor leans up to run her tongue along her wife’s collarbone, delighting when her breath stutters a bit. “This place is swarming with guards and they could walk by any second.”

The Doctor snorts. “Like that’s ever bothered you, River Song.”

“Not me, no. It’s you I’m concerned about, honey.”

The Doctor thinks for a moment. “Nope,” she concludes, “Don’t think it bothers me either. That’s new!” She grins madly and reaches for River again.

“All the same,” chuckles River, gently dislodging herself from the Doctor’s arms and stepping back. “This is clearly your first time in this lovely new body and believe me when I say; you’re going to want to be lying down.”

The Doctor feels her body flood with heat at River’s words and the sparkling promise in her eyes, and the burning between her legs intensifies. “Oh,” she breathes.

“Yeah,” says River, eyes alight with amusement. “Believe me sweetie; it will be worth the wait.”

She swallows hard as she tries to stop her head spinning with images - memories - and imaginings of what’s to come. She looks up at River, as out of breath as she is and lips swollen and red, eyes dark and she really doesn’t want to wait.

She reaches for her again, hands snaking beneath her clothes. “Well, that doesn’t mean you have to wait too - I could just -”

“Sweetie!” Says River with a delighted laugh as she wriggles out of her hold. “My you’re a handful this time around. It’s usually the other way round.”

The Doctor pouts up at her with dark eyes. “It’s just… been a long time. A really long time. And I didn’t really like it that much as my last self which is funny because right now I can’t think of anything better …”

River wings an eyebrow at her. “You didn’t like it?”

“Well, no,” she hurriedly amends. That’s not what I mean - not with you anyway. Of course I liked it, you know, when we did it, I just… didn’t need it.”

“Careful,” warns River, eyes narrowed.

“I’m not saying I didn’t need you - or that I never enjoyed it because I did , I always do - have you met that me yet? Grumpy, grey-hair - Scottish! That’s probably what it was -”

Spoilers, sweetie! You’re supposed to be the strict one about those!” She scolds. “Anyway the coast is clear, come on.”

“Right, yes, sorry.” She says in a lowered voice as she follows River out of the alcove and the sneak down the corridor. “It’s been a long time. I’ll take that as a no then.”

River narrows her eyes again as she glances back at her. “How long has it been since you’ve seen me?”

“Spoilers,” she hedges quickly. “But anyway the one before that - you know, with the chin - that was different. I mean we… we had some good sex didn’t we?” She licks her lips as she eyes River appreciatively in those white trousers. “Some really good sex. Remember that time on Lexon Five? Or is that spoilers too?” She thinks quickly.

“Not spoilers, just not t he time,” River mutters.

“Or how about the Bone Mountains, when we had to hide from the yeti in that little cave…”

“It wasn’t a Yeti.”

“Well whatever it was you scared it off pretty good with all the screaming you did. Remember when we -”

“Sweetie,” River hisses through gritted teeth from in front of her, “We have a mission to complete and you are really not helping.”

“Right, sorry,” she mutters, and tries to stop thinking about the burning in her lower abdomen.

“I’ve not helped myself either, if that helps,” she admits after a minute.

“It doesn’t.”

“Sorry.”

“You can make it up to me later,” River tells her as she halts them with a hand out to check an open doorway.

They continue on, hurrying down a flight of stairs and out into the open where they quickly dart behind a bush to peer out at the scene that’s taken place.

“They’ve landed,” says River.

“Yep, but no sign of any life yet. Probably waiting for the others to get out first.”

“What’s the plan then?”

“Stop them from fighting, send them back to their planets and save the world?”

“Anything more specific?” River whispers back, rolling her eyes.

“Yep. Give me a mo.” It would be a lot easier to come up with a plan, she muses, if she could damn well think clearly.

“River,” she whispers after a minute.

“What?”

“How much later did you mean?”

River huffs. “Seriously, honey, you’re still thinking about that?”

“Don’t try and tell me you’re not.”

She is silent for a moment. “As soon as we’ve saved the world, we’re going straight back to the Tardis,” she decides finally.  

The Doctor's eyes light up, before she remembers something important. “But what about my gang! I said I’d go and pick them up once they’d given back the shard.”

“Time machine, sweetie,” she says, rolling her eyes again. “We could be gone days and still pick them up in five minutes. Now here’s our chance, come on!”

The Doctor grins and hurries after her. “Did you say days?” She murmurs into River’s ear as they duck behind a parked vehicle.

“Don't know, did I?” River teases, seemingly distracted as she surveys the scene, but a smile tugs at her lips.

“Definitely.”

“Oh yes, I think I did.”

“Well what are we waiting for!” She grins, grabbing River’s hand and rushing out from behind the vehicle. “Let’s hurry up and save the world!”