Pairing(s): River Song/The (Eleventh) Doctor
Recced on LiveJournal By: stars_inthe_sky
Spoilers: All seasons of Doctor Who, but particularly the Moffat era
Blurb: I was a quick convert to River Song fandom, having been warned by the friend who put me onto Who in the first place that she was divisive but always awesome. Though her story—both solo and alongside the Doctor—got a lot of uneven handling over the years, particularly in S6, River never stopped being awesome. She's cleverer than just about anyone, quick on the draw, always ready to cover pain with a smile, and unstoppable when someone she loves is in danger...a lot like the Doctor, in any of his incarnations.
That's what I love about this pairing. The Doctor has chemistry with just about everyone, but River (who does, too, frankly) is the one person in NuWho who's his true equal—and, whatever the flaws in the storytelling along the way, the Doctor knows it. And he LOVES that—because he's so often alone, because he's not quite the last of the Time Lords, because he so rarely meets his match, because she's sexy as hell to boot. Shecan do everything he can do, except backwards and in high heels, and there's not another soul in the universe who can say the same. Their story is tragic from the get-go, but somehow their spectacular flirtations, adorable asides, and downright glorious end at Darillium make you understand why they're both so committed to their topsy-turvy and wholly unconventional life together, in spite of, well, basically the rest of the universe and time itself.
The way Ten's face goes slack when she whispers in his ear in the Library, the way Eleven can never contain his excitement to see whatshe does next, the way Twelve watches her so tenderly—there's no one who consistently getsunder every Doctor's skin and makes herself so at home. And the way they all get indignant at the idea of her outsmarting everyone, even as they fall harder for her? I can watch that over and over and over again. She's his bespoke psychopath, he's her husband in every way that matters, and if you don't think that the last fifteen minutes of "The Husbands of River Song" was the perfect sendoff to an incredible ship, then we're watching different shows.
I've recced a ton of Whofics here already, and others have done manifestos for this ship, too. But there's just so much goodness to be had! So here's a bunch of River/Eleven recs, since he's *my* Doctor, and Alex Kingston and Matt Smith have entirely too much chemistry to be contained on a TV screen.
Rec #1: love me like i know you will
Word Count/WIP?: 3,810 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: Onscreen, we see much more evidence for River's comment that the Doctor is "hard work young" than for the reverse, though it's implied. This fic digs into that reverse, with an older Eleven and a River still at university, and with a deep focus on the characters and their connection rather than the smut that such stories often tend toward. (Not that I'm complaining—but it's neat to see a different take!)
Rec #2 take him and cut him out in little starsAuthor: mygalfriday
Word Count/WIP?: 2,581 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: There are a million iterations of how a Library-preserved River might interact with the Doctor, but I love this one, where she gets to continue traveling with him (in a sense) and that actually makes sense of her presence in "The Name of the Doctor."
Rec #3: They Drag Their Nails and Rattle Their Chains
Word Count/WIP?: 1,355
Why This Must Be Read: Taking place immediately post-Manhattan, this is a story as much about River's and the Doctor's relationships with—and grief for—Amy and Rory as it is a shippy thing, but the author embeds their tangle of emotions for each other into their every interaction, for once making Eleven's coping about giving River what she needs as well as taking what she offers.
Rec #4: because now is now, it can never be a long time ago
Word Count/WIP?: 3,642 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: This sweet and episodic fic covers the in-between times with this pair, giving them a reasonable framework for better getting to know each other—no spoilers!—while enjoying texting and scones.
Rec #5: Acres of longing, mountains of tenderness.
Word Count/WIP?: 13,735 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: This is practically the ur-fic for Doctor/River, wonderfully executed: unforgiving post-Manhattan angst, some hijinks with the Paternoster gang, and figuring out what it meant that one of Clara's echoes showed up at the Library.
Rec #6: though the stars walk backward
Word Count/WIP?: 6,282
Why This Must Be Read: A not-quite AU where River and the Doctor meet as university professors and then ditch it for a life of travel and adventure sounds pretty run-of-the-mill, right? Guess again—this fic keeps you guessing and loving it, and the follow-up story is a simple note of delight.
Rec #7: This is thy sheath; there rust and let me die
Rating/Warning(s): Teen, dark themes
Word Count/WIP?: 3,204 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: The warning of dark themes is a serious one. As much as we were warned that the Doctor and River traveling together long-term could be destructive, the idea of a Doctor truly alone is even scarier—and this fic doesn't hold back on its exploration of what he might be driven to do to those who hurt her.
Rec #8: without a word, snapped out, made accidental, isolated, like ghosts, even from our pity
Word Count/WIP?: 1,023 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: "There is no River to kill the Doctor in the world where River kills the Doctor. And Berlin is not the most romantic city of the world." A brief and matter-of-fact exploration of that world and what it results in, this fic will make you long for things to be righted.
Rec #9: rejoiced in the hopeless, we loved under atomic skies
Word Count/WIP?: 5,903
Why This Must Be Read: The author's note reads, "At least in this fandom you don't have to apologise for achronology," and indeed, this fic is a lovely episodic exploration of the Doctor and River's wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey life together, in no particular order but with all the joy and angst and everything else intact.
Rec #10: Though wise men at their end know dark is right
Word Count/WIP?: 3,794 (complete)
Why This Must Be Read: This story isn't quite a Library fix-it, and while it's terrifically told, it may still stomp all over your heart on the way to its end.