Pairing: The Doctor/River Song
Blurb: Once upon a time The Doctor walked into a library with too many shadows and met a woman who knew his name, his real and proper name. This woman was River Song, a brilliant archeologist/professor/potential thief (I’m not entirely sure on that point yet, hush now, spoilers), who was (and is) irrevocably tangled up in The Doctor’s timeline.
The only thing I know for sure is that the minute these two characters first saw each other, I fell madly in love. As a ship it’s tragic in all the right ways. The first time he meets her is the day she dies. He doesn’t know her, but she knows him, even has their history written inside of a journal that just so happens to look like the TARDIS. What’s astonishing is how deftly the show establishes this relationship in a mere two episodes.
There’s plenty of banter and teasing, but also an overwhelming sense of pathos in their scenes. The Doctor is supposed to be the lonely god, but here is evidence not only of a companion, but of an equal. Of---dare we say it---a wife.
I could ramble on forever about those first two episodes, in truth Ten will always be The Doctor I picture our River with in my head, but the real meat of the relationship is found in season five. Here we have Eleven, a young, mad bowtie wearing version of The Doctor, who has already met River and is now a bit wary of her, of the parts of his story that only she knows (for now, anyway.)
In season five their relationship is very much that of a bickering, charming old married couple. River calls The Doctor to her using her intimate knowledge of his boundless curiosity and frustrates him by disguising her trademark greeting, Hello, sweetie, across time and space. This is where we get our first inkling that River is not as innocent as we once thought she was. There are even hints that the first time she met The Doctor she did something very, very bad to him.
If you like. But where's the fun in that?
Their relationship is this beautiful, messy, confusing puzzle. Its ever-changing and evolving and with each of River’s appearances we get closer to understanding the true nature of the connection that exists between them. But somehow, seeing the whole picture seems to be beside the point. What’s important is that the connection does exist and that it’s palpable. I believe that River Song loves The Doctor and more so I believe he will love her, that he’s already falling, and watching that unfold, watching the supposed oncoming storm blushing and stammering and falling for the confusing, impossible River Song is more fun than it has any right to be.
I’m very much looking forward to the running.
Fic Rec #1: will you stay with me, will you be my love
Rating/Warning(s): R, sex and mild violence
Why This Must Be Read: "Nothing lasts forever, Doctor. Not even us, not even you."
"We'll last long enough," said the Doctor, firmly. "A long, long time, and long enough."
This fic is delightful and stunningly written. It’s a humorous, touching portrait of a marriage between two people who can’t seem to bring themselves to stand still.
Fic Rec #2 Tapestry
Why This Must Be Read: River saw, as she died, (as it began, he’d barely met her, after all) the finished map, perfectly inked on yellowed parchment. She understood the entirety of the labyrinth finally and completely and only for an instant, as it was laid out for her inspection.
This is quite possibly my all-time favorite Doctor/River fic. It takes us through every phase of their relationship: before, during, and most importantly after the library.
Fic Rec #3: Mistitled
Why This Must Be Read: These aren’t ordinary lives, but two winding roads exploring vast and forgotten lands, entwining occasionally and parting before one of them does something irrevocably foolish. It frightens him, when they meet again, how the vibrant reality of her shows how pale his memories are.
One of my favorite aspects of their story is the part where she knows his name. This fic tells us why she does.
Fic Rec #4: Compromising
Why This Must Be Read: “I know you’re alone.”
“Well, I’m not!”
“No companion at the moment. Have you started talking to yourself yet?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “Besides, I haven’t travelled with this you.”
This piece is just pure, undiluted fun. It’s The Doctor’s first solo trip with River and things go as well as can be expected. The banter here is amazing.
Fic Rec #5: I Could Write Essays On Your Back
Rating/Warning(s): PG (non-explicit sex)
Why This Must Be Read: He chuckles against her shoulder and he’s most honestly amused, he being the one with the ship to the stars was not the one that could take them to Neverland.
A quiet, haunting little encounter between a young River and The Doctor. The imagery in this fic gives me goose bumps.
Fic Rec #6: How They Begin
Rating/Warning(s): Hard R (Sex, role playing, dark themes)
Why This Must Be Read: She’d known this would happen; of course, she’d known. She’d read it ages ago, read it before she really understood it -- played it over and over in her mind when all she’d had to preoccupy her were the four walls of her cell, masochist that she was.
There’s a darkness in this fic that I find endlessly appealing. It’s easy to forget about The Doctor’s connection to Rose when faced with the time-hopping enormity of The Doctor’s relationship with River, but this author faces it head on here. This fic makes me ache for River.
Fic Rec #7: So Long, Lonesome
Why This Must Be Read: For a split second she thought she was only hearing what she wanted to hear, because why would the Doctor ask for her? Why would he waste his last breath on her? He didn't even know her, not really. She was just the woman with big hair who called him "sweetie" and said "spoilers" whenever he got remotely close to the truth.
Set during the season five finale, this fic examines River’s thoughts as she watches the man she loves ask for someone else before he flies into the sun.
Fic Rec #8: Messages
Why This Must Be Read: Once upon a time a girl met a boy. She hated him until she loved him. She traveled to the ends of universes with him, for him, to find him.
He made her laugh. She made him cry. They ran together, like a force of nature.
They didn't live happily ever after, or: he lived and she remained, neither happily but both ever after.
This fic. This fic. I don’t even know what to say. It’s River, trapped in the library and it’s absolutely brilliant.
Fic Rec #9: Detour
Rating/Warning(s): R (sex)
Why This Must Be Read: He sees her three more times.
(Only two of them by accident.)
Ten pays River three visits before he heads off to face his fate.
Fic Rec #10: minor temporal paradoxes
Why This Must Be Read: “Can I see them?” he asks.
River gives him a look that’s somewhere between suspicion and an invitation. “Can you see what?”
“The pictures, the ones of me. In your diary.”
This piece is deceptively light-hearted, but don’t be surprised when it punches you in the stomach in the end.
Fic Rec #11: Echoes
Why This Must Be Read: The universe holds so many distractions, but River is an especially enticing one. The Doctor visits her whenever he feels like overriding the randomiser, which happens more frequently as he grows bolder, time carrying him farther away from a snowy street on 21st century Earth.
Written before season five, this fic features Ten on the run from the inevitable. Funny how he keeps running towards River. This fic is a stunner.