Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: PG-13 (rating will increase)
Word Count: ~1500
Characters and pairings: River/Doctor, River/Octavian, Amy/Rory, various canon characters and originals
Series Warnings: timey-wimeyness, paradoxes, adult themes, young children
Spoilers: alternate universe after season six
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is the intellectual property of the BBC. No infringement on that right is meant by this fan work.
Summary: River can no more escape her future than the Doctor can escape his past. And everyone has spoilers.
"Are you sure you have everything you'll need?" Octavian leaned against the wall beside her in all black, casually inspecting her while she fussed with her hair. No matter what century you lived in, curling irons were a chore; it took three power adaptors just to plug hers in. And the mirror in his hotel room had a crack running through it. She never turned her back to it, if she could help it.
The dress was very nice, a gift which must have cost him dearly on his cleric's salary. The Louis Vuitton's were from the Doctor, sort of. Paradox shoes. He said she had left them in the TARDIS once, though he wouldn't say when.
"Hallucinogenic lipstick, running shoes, cigarettes, 'cigarette lighter'," she briefly demonstrated the blowtorch setting on the toy sized gun, "perfume," she neatly slipped the decanter into a handbag which should be too small, "negligee, condoms--"
"Very funny, River," Octavian growled, snatching the bag from her fingers. He turned it all angles in the light, then opened it up and plunged his hand inside, to the elbow. "Bigger on the inside."
"Like your wardrobe in Stormcage?"
"Like Mary Poppins' magic bag?"
"Ye-- how do you even know that film?" Disney had been pretty much outlawed after the corporation came out as an evil empire in the twenty-third century and tried to pepper the quadrant with Disneylands by force, though there were still bootleg copies of the Lion King floating around on black markets. She had two originals, just in case, since the player on the TARDIS ate blu rays.
"My father, a justicair, spent a five year assignment in twentieth century Terra for the Time Agency, looking for a rogue who went by the name of... Harker? Harken? Harkness. We kids were pretty young for my mother to raise by herself, so the whole family uprooted and moved to nineteen sixty-one Scotland. I suppose the dossier said it was a stable time zone--"
"It wasn't." River pushed down slivers of fragments of memories of Melody running, always running until death. "Converging and diverging time lines in that decade, Kennedy's death, aliens trying to get involved in the music scene... Did you know that a fan from the fortieth century accidentally introduced the Beatles to their future manager? A Vinvocci wearing a shimmer popped in to North End Music Store and asked Brian Epstein for their first record."
"Really?" he said on cue. Polite but disinterested.
River laughed softly. "I don't know for sure, but I've heard rumours from the D-- from the day. Raymond Jones might be just a legend, but he was certainly never seen again." She wrapped her arms around his waist. "I'm sorry for interrupting. Continue."
He pressed his face to hers, speaking directly into her right ear. "I don't remember much of it, but from what Veronica -- my elder sister -- said, father received intelligence of something about to happen in '65 and we fled; even left supper on the table."
An averted invasion, River thought, but did not say. "I've met Captain Jack; he's a dangerous man."
"Even more so than you, Doctor Song?"
"In some ways. He tends to leave a trail of bodies in his wake."
"That's a small comfort. In any case, Father was court-martialled for abandoning his post, went to prison, and I didn't see him again until I was a teenager. By that time, my brother and I had enlisted in the Church, and didn't want anything to do with him."
So many boys and girls had done the same, promised the stars and glory and the chance to escape conflicts on their homeworlds. She'd had the chance to meet many of them, and many out of those were dead now. "You're lucky you weren't assigned to the Stormcage."
"You would have made mincemeat out of me; you've ruined the careers of many a young cleric. The pretty spider in her web."
"Father, I can't help it when people fall in love with me." Her green eyes were lying, reflected and split in the damaged mirror.
Octavian gripped her shoulders, firm enough to leave red finger marks against her freckled skin. "Belladonna," he hissed into her cheek, "black widow." Her nose creased when her nostrils flared. "Murderess." The he kissed her hard on the mouth; she kissed back, his body stiff against her softness, not yielding to her. They only had these moments; he refused to let her bed him, as long as they weren't married, and the both knew she'd never marry him, no matter how many times she accepted his proposals.
The dead man in the time machine was no longer her husband, timelines back to front, but his face still made her hearts stop. It was killing her in measures, but she couldn't stop loving him.
She gave the gentlest of pushes, and was released immediately. It took a moment to catch her breath. "Be grateful I didn't have my lipstick on yet."
River looked into his eyes, still so young, on a worn face. Handsome and haggard. When had he started to get old? It only seemed like a few years ago when he had his first mission with her; he'd been just another soldier, transferred off assignment in the Space Vatican and into field duty with the Anglicans. But maybe she hadn't done things in the right order, for now he had the face of a man exhausted from loving her, and she wasn't sure how that had come to be. Humans were so very fragile and linear.
"I like you better without all the powders and perfumes."
"I've got a role to play, darling." She fluffed her tortured curls. "Just another wealthy socialite enjoying a cruise."
"The Byzantium won't make planetfall for another three years, so if anything goes wrong--"
"--and it inevitably will--"
"--I hope your escape plan is foolproof."
"I've got something like an army at my disposal."
"Do you? I'd like to see that."
"I'll bring it to meet you."
"River..." sighed Octavian. "The transporter is locked. You've only got the one trip aboard, though we've got your alias on the manifest, which should hold up to basic inspection. Alistair knows your methods, but not your face. Try not to compromise yourself by doing anything showy." He added something sotto voce. "...like you usually do..."
"It doesn't seem very fair." She pouted her lips while applying her lipstick.
"I think someone wants you dead, before you can earn your pardon."
"I thought of that. Tracking a stolen weeping angel, we must be stupid or brave."
"Me and mine will be in hyperspace, tracking your com unit. Twenty good men have volunteered to help secure the angel. Please... please signal when you need me -- us. We'll get there, and pick up your ejected pod. If things get messy, we can try to transmat you out."
"You'll never be able to lock on to me at a distance through the hull shields. And if you get too close to the starliner, you'll be identified, and Alistair will realise I've been working in cooperation with the Church, compromising everything we've worked months for. That can't happen."
He considered it, but had to agree with her. "This plan has a lot of holes. It seemed more solid when we went over the blueprints last week."
"That was over dinner and two bottles of wine." He was a very dedicated cook, and everything tasted good after hundreds of years of prison food. "Maybe someone on high wants the both of us dead. You haven't insulted Her Holiness the Papal Mainframe lately?"
"Well I put it 'round that I'm expecting to be appointed a Bishop First Class after all of this is said and done."
"I suspect you'll get it, too. I've been fielding a few freelance offers, myself." She stepped into her high heels and put on her sunglasses. "We do this, and I think I'll have that pardon."
"River Song, out of her cage for good... I'm not sure the universe can handle it."
"Probably not." He escorted her to the door, placing the transporter in her upturned palm. "Bring me a set of fatigues and boots in my size, if you would, dear." In her diary, someone had made the notation that she would most certainly need them, as well as a few pertinent suggestions about how to lie about the events around the Pandorica. You will meet some very young faces, some version of herself warned.
"Don't get killed," Octavian said bluntly, before watching her vanish in a crackle of blue sparks and smoke.
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