skye_writer: Cropped screencap of Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959). (Default)
[personal profile] skye_writer
Title: I'll catch you when you fall
Author: Skye_Writer
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairings: Eleventh Doctor, River Song; River x Eleven
Wordcount: 1,300 words approx.
Summary: When River unexpectedly turns up injured and exhausted on the TARDIS's doorstep, the Doctor has to take care of her.
Author’s Notes: Written for the Cotton Candy Bingo on Dreamwidth. Prompt: Exhaustion.

It had been another one of those days or nights—he could hardly keep track anymore, with Amy and Rory gone back to their lives, being married or whatever it was they did when they weren’t here. Kissing, he supposed. He and River did an awful lot of kissing, after all, so it stood to reason…

Anyway, it was one of those times, when he’d parked the TARDIS somewhere but hadn’t stepped out because he simply didn’t feel up to dealing with people at the moment. He had three cups of tea in the kitchen and ate half a package of stale Jammie Dodgers that had been in the pantry. He found a few decks of cards tucked away in the billiards room and spent a couple hours constructing a tower three feet tall, complete with buttresses and archways.

He’d been in the middle of completely rearranging the library books by color when there was a crash, and everything suddenly listed to starboard, as they used to say (not that the TARDIS had a starboard, but it was the thought that counted), knocking half the books he’d been sorting to the floor. The Doctor immediately scrambled to his feet and dashed out the library doors. He could deal with the books later (maybe).

He made it to the console room in short order and was about to flick the appropriate levers to put everything to rights when he saw the front doors were open, and that lying in the opening, slumped against the floor, was the body of River Song.

He panicked, though he would never own to it later. He half fell down the stairs, and before he did anything else, he checked her over: still breathing, though her pulse was much too fast for his liking, even for someone like River, who had two hearts just as he did. He cradled her head in one hand as he pulled her properly inside the TARDIS and just before he closed the doors, he glanced outside.

Nothing. He’d landed in a forest of some sort, but the woods were dark and silent aside from the buzzing of insects and the quiet chatter of birds. He frowned and shut the doors, making sure to lock them. Just in case.

He checked River again, looking her over more closely this time. Her arms were covered with small scratches, from the forest, he presumed. There were a few scratches on her face as well, but her legs had been spared thanks to her boots and trousers. There was an oddly shaped bruise on her left arm that he didn’t like the looks of, and her pulse was still much faster than he might have liked. But she was still breathing, which made him at least comfortable with the idea of leaving her there on the floor while he dashed up to the console to get them into the vortex and more importantly listing the right way up again.

It was strange, taking off with River here, but not here—not correcting him, or making adjustments to his course, or doing any of those little infuriating things she did when he flew his ship. He kept an eye on her as the TARDIS lurched sideways to right itself, and as the engines groaned to life again, he flipped a few switches to set their course to random and hurried back down to where she was.

He felt a bit like a mother hen, worrying over her little injuries as he hoisted her up in his arms and carried her down a flight of stairs that he hoped was near the infirmary. If it wasn’t, he was sure the TARDIS had already taken care of it. He staggered along the corridor for a few meters, and then one of the doors opened to reveal a medical suite that was considerably nicer than the usual infirmary. The Doctor wasn’t about to complain. He laid River on the bed as gently as he could, and then began the long task of checking her over properly and tending to her wounds.

*** *** ***

River woke to a sharp, clammy scent filling her nose and settling in her mouth. Medicine, she thought. Sterility. An infirmary? So she’d made it out of the forest, then, that was a relief. Her legs were sore from all the running she’d done, she was lucky she hadn’t twisted an ankle on a tree root. Her arms were sorer, though, and she was rather glad she was lying down. The spot where that thing—the ghast, the locals had called it, though she’d been a bit more creative in her wording when it had been chasing her—had grabbed her still throbbed, though the pain wasn’t as exceptional as it had been the day before. Was it the day before?

She frowned, thinking, and then she heard someone shuffling something nearby. “River?” the Doctor said softly, and his hand closed around hers. “Are you awake?”

And she remembered—remembered finding the TARDIS in a clearing like a miracle, because she’d been so busy running that she hadn’t had time to leave a distress call for him, but he’d come anyway, and she’d rushed for the doors as the ghast had closed in—and she remembered, and she squeezed his hand and opened her eyes.

“Hello, sweetie,” she said weakly, smiling at him.

He smiled back, but she could tell just by looking into his eyes that he hadn’t slept in a very long while. “Hello.”

“How long was I out?” River asked.

The Doctor kissed the back of her hand gently. “A while,” he replied.

River chuckled. “And how long, exactly, is a while?”

“Long enough,” the Doctor said, and she had to laugh again at his evasiveness.

“I’m trying to get a figure on what day it is, sweetie, if you don’t mind.”

He cleared his throat. “About twenty hours. Give or take, I sort of lost track…”

“Thank you, Doctor,” she said, squeezing his hand again. “For everything.”

“Not at all, dear.” He smiled and bent over to kiss her on the cheek, but she turned her head at the right moment so his lips met hers. He started, but didn’t pull away, and she lifted her head a little to meet him. She raised her hand to touch his chest, finding one of his hearts with a practiced ease. She stroked one of the buttons on his shirt with her thumb, but moved no further than that.

Their kiss ended a few moments later, and River sank back down to her pillows, smiling at him as he leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. She kept her hand over his heart, her palm pressed flat against his chest, straining for the rhythm of his heartbeat. As he drew away from her, he took her hand in both of his, his fingers tangling with hers as he lifted her hand to kiss her knuckles gently.

“You should rest,” he said as he placed her hand back on the blankets.

“I think I’ve got that covered, sweetie,” River replied, still smiling.

He chuckled quietly. “I know. Do you want some tea?”

“That would be lovely.”

He leaned in again and kissed her, his lips soft against hers. She watched him go with a smile, and he returned not long after with a mug of tea for her. He raised the bed for her, and found more pillows in a cabinet so she could sit up and drink it. He didn’t even sit down, instead standing by the bed, asking if she was comfortable, if she wanted something to eat, never mind that he looked as though he hadn’t eaten in days himself.

He took the mug from her when she finished drinking, and asked again if she wanted anything else. “No, love,” she replied, smiling at him. “Only you.”

He smiled at her in return, and took her hand in his. He stood there as River drifted off to sleep again, and he was still there with her when she woke.
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