What Child Is This

Chapter 18

The length of him held her captive against the closet door. Neither of them spoke, and each panted heavily against the breaths of the other. The Doctor braced his arms against the surface behind her, the tension in them visible as the veins bulged slightly.

River's eyes shone with triumph and desire, yet he had not fully recovered from his fear that something had happened to her. Regardless of the inane circumstances that raced through his mind, those he loved were always in danger. If River knew him as well as she claimed, certainly she knew how he struggled with the burden of keeping them safe. And yet, she stood by and watched as he had needlessly panicked. For amusement's sake.

River ran her hands up his bare arms until she reached the sleeve of his t-shirt, then she gripped the skin of his back through the fabric and drug her nails slowly down his spine. He reached behind him quickly, grabbing both of her hands, and forced them behind her. His forehead rested on hers as he tried to mentally slow down the blood as it rushed feverishly through his veins.

"That's quite some grip you've got there," she half-grunted, half-whispered as he tightened his hold of her.

His breathing was heavy and forced through gritted teeth. He clenched his jaw as the sensation of her hips rolling into him shot through is body. "Yeah? Well, I'm as angry as I am turned on…"

River smiled wickedly and licked at his mouth, just barely brushing his top lip with her tongue. "And what has the good Doctor worked up into such a bother?" Her voice was a lilt that fondled his ears. Everything about her was throwing his body and mind into a state of chaos.

The Doctor lifted his forehead from hers and hovered his mouth just over her lips. River parted her lips to accept his kiss, but he hesitated, speaking into her open mouth. "You, Dr. Song. Always you. You speak to me in riddles and half-truths. You're playing games. And you're hiding something, River. Something other than that troglodyte everyone is so fond of…"

She leaned in and he pulled away. A guttural laugh escaped from deep within her when she realized that she was simply a player in his show. "He's actually very smart…"

"I don't give a goddamn about Amos," the Doctor interrupted her, pressing harder against her body with his own and gripping her wrists tighter. He leaned in closer and smiled sinfully against her lips. "And I'm sure that neither do you, right now." He captured her bottom lip between his teeth and pulled it through slowly.

"Perhaps you don't know me as well as you like to think you..." The Doctor violently covered her mouth with his own. There was nothing tender or sweet about the kiss. All of the feelings that he had fought over the weeks were expelled – anger, frustration, betrayal, regret, hurt, and fear. And River gave as good as she got, both fighting for control of the other. Teeth clashed and tongues swirled. There was a metallic taste of blood in their mouths, and the brutal passion only created a more urgent desire in them both – a need that went far beyond what could be satisfied with a kiss.

She groaned as he forced a knee between her legs and applied pressure. The Doctor released her wrists and grabbed her hips, lifting her to his waist. River wrapped her legs around him and slid her hands into his hair, tugging with both tightly balled fists. Pulling his head backwards, their kiss was broken and she looked into his eyes. He was unrecognizable. River saw none of the tenderness of his passion that she craved. She no longer felt like playing their flirtatious games.

As much as River wanted…needed…him, not like this. Not spurned from anger and desperation. Every time could be the last time, and this was not how she wanted to remember it.

She tried to wiggle free of him, but he gripped her tighter. She could feel his arousal under her towel, and her body continued to respond, despite the battle that her heart fought against it. The Doctor walked them over to her bed while River twisted in his grasp.

"Doctor, please let me go," she pleaded quietly.

He stopped short of the bed and took his hands from her. River slid down him, and the towel caught between their bodies leaving the back of her exposed. They both stood against each other, and his hot and quick breaths blew through the curls around her face. She reached for the towel as he turned and walked towards her bedroom door.

"Don't go."

The Doctor paused and crossed the floor to stand in front of her. He ran his hands frantically through his hair before shoving them in the front pockets of his jeans. He leaned in and spoke to her in a voice that was struggled to contain the explosion within him. "I cannot do this, River. I cannot feel you under me without wondering what it is that you are hiding. It's not right…this is not right. I don't even like you right now."

She was stunned speechless at the venom of his tone and the truth in his words, and she did nothing to stop him when he turned his back to her and hurried through the door.

The Doctor paced the length of the attic as he tried to calm the rampant beating of his hearts. His body was on fire, and he tossed his shirt onto the floor, kicking it with great force and sending it sailing across the room. He stared down at his bare feet as they carried him with great purpose to nowhere, over and over again. Arms folded over his head, he had never felt so in-command of his body…almost as if his physical inner workings were terrified of the explosive turmoil in his mind.

What was he doing? What was she doing? What in the hell were they doing? Did she actually intend to carry on life as usual as if he hadn't turned up on her doorstep? Was it unreasonable and terribly unfair to expect her to explain this life when he had dropped in unannounced and uninvited? Absolutely – and he didn't care one damn iota. If he was not directly involved in whatever had driven her to this place, there would have been no need for secrecy. The Doctor had already seen for himself the intimacy of her relationship with Amos, and there was no doubt in his mind that it either had been or was still romantic in nature. But her secrets had a depth far beyond Amos.

And he felt sick down to his last and smallest bone. What could be so devastatingly dire? She had tiptoed around his questions and danced around her lies for two weeks. Fourteen days of not looking him in the eyes…of instantaneously drawing back from his touch. It was an unintentional cruelty, and tonight he had been pushed too far.

The Doctor staggered to the oversized chair near his bed and eased into its comfort. He rubbed his temples gently, trying to squeeze the threatening headache into submission. He knew that he had bombarded in on this domesticated life of hers, and he had tried to be patient. But he could see her daily trying to balance what he had no choice but to see and what she attempted to hide with a quiet panic.

He was an intelligent man, but had she not reacted to his arrival like she had, he most likely would never have known to be disturbed. If the TARDIS had not dropped him off outside of context – once again, she could have lived out this part of her life without any interference from him whatsoever.

The Doctor was not a man who scared easily…and it frightened him that her guarded knowledge would shake him to his very core.

He sat in the chair for what seemed like hours, running the events of the last several days in his head. His breathing had returned to normal and his nerves had stopped trying to force their way through his skin. He was able to take a deep breath and exhale slowly without the sensation of suffocation. Suddenly rather sleepy, he dropped his head against the back of the plush chair and shut his eyes for just a moment.

River knocked lightly on the wall leading up the attic. Getting no answer, she climbed the stairs with trepidation. She couldn't close her eyes on the day without giving him the answers he sought. Having tried to explain her life away in surface truths and lies, she had sparked the small fire that had finally engulfed him.

If only he knew the jeopardy in which his truth-seeking could result. As he was barely half-way through their timestream, her confession could cause their entire life together to be nonexistent. But not telling him could drive him away, as well. She had little choice but to tell him.

River carefully peered around the corner as she topped the stairs and saw him draped over the large chair near the window. She stood over him and softly swept his long hair from covering his eyes. After leaning over and placing a tender kiss to his forehead, River stretched out her tired body on his bed, too exhausted to make the trip back to her room, and snuggled in under the heavy covers, quickly slipping into sleep.

Though very comfortable in which to sit and have a think, the chair was not exactly conducive to slumber. After a few hours of sleep, the Doctor rose and took a step towards the bed. His hearts melted at the sight of her tucked underneath the warmth of the linens, and he slipped gently alongside her…cuddling up and wrapping an arm protectively around her waist.

He buried his face in her hair and whispered before giving in to tears and sleep, "I do love you, River."

No sooner had the Doctor closed his eyes than River's secret revealed itself as a blinding glow burst through the window of a downstairs bedroom and lit up the night…a little boy fighting for life while his parents slept in the comfort of each other's arms.

Ten…

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