Summary: River has a certain habit she maintains around her husband. What happens when this time, her husband isn't the only one affected? Includes Amy, Rory, Martha, Donna, Jack, Canton, Mickey, and Rose. Rated T for the premise itself, as well as insinuations. One- shot, though universe may grow.
A/N- I don't know why this idea amused me so, nor why I chose these particular characters to participate, but it did and I did so that's that. Warning in advance- this borders on downright saucy. As always, reviews (especially about character work) appreciated. No context for this story, just assume it's in roughly the same universe as "Not so Strange Bedfellows." Thank you to the wonderful morganfm for the beta and for helping me clarify any confusion from the original post! Have fun...
Once River had learned how it was done, she did it often enough to always keep things interesting between them.
And at the most arbitrary times. Dinner amongst dignitaries from far and wide. Christmas with her family. Great and powerful speeches warding away entire armies of invading enemies. Whenever she felt bored. When they were lounging around in the TARDIS, tending to those basic needs even Time Lords had: food, the occasional sleep, the feeling of home. In fact, it was one of her favourite past times in front of her parents- she did so love his reactions. She couldn't decide which she loved more- when he was young and awkward and sputtered outwardly, bumbling with his hands or tripping over his own feet, or when he was older and expecting it and would find her eyes from the across the room and give her that smile. The one that made her knees weak and her mind begin to rethink her position on weddings, just so she could remarry him a thousand times over again.
It had become habit for her, really. A way to properly share with him when they got the times right. A nice little reassurance that they both had each other, even if they were the only two in the universe who could ever understand their bond.
This morning was just like any other morning in the TARDIS. Well, any other morning there are three versions of your husband present and several of his past companions and your parents are on board through a recent mishap- no, she decided- miracle. They were all in the common room, her bowtie- wearing idiot playing chess simultaneously with Mickey and Canton, being very good not to win each game too quickly. Donna and Amy were engaged in a lively and quite loud discussion with the youngest, and pithiest version of her husband on board, probably jointly mocking his adorable ears again. She had to admit, she did love that leather jacket. Rory, Martha, and the other Doctor, who had gone with the blue pin stripes today, were all discussing recent (and future) developments in the medical field, arguing ethics and the viability of certain technologies. River herself was in the corner playing a rousing game of Monopoly with Jack and Rose who was, despite all appearances, rather ruthless in the business world.
Her husband, the Doctor she actually married, was a mere table away. His youngest counterpart had gotten up, probably making another attempt at figuring out this odd paradoxical problem that continued to grow each time a new Doctor or companion appeared on board. Or he had simply tired of being mocked by two equally opinionated gingers. And the middle Doctor had pulled away from her father and Martha, ever so slightly, sitting back in his chair as they carried on the conversation.
She could rarely remember feeling happier with her life than at this moment. She smiled her Cheshire cat smile, rolling the dice and swiftly passing Go. After all, she decided, some habits needed proper upkeep.
She glanced up to see a grin tugging at her husband's face, his eyes closed as he tried to maintain his composure. Well, then. Time to step things up a notch. She didn't notice the leather- clad Doctor shake his head suddenly, as though to clear it. She didn't see the skinniest Doctor, now reading a book, glance up and look around the room. She was too busy concentrating, collecting money from Jack as she focused completely on the man she'd married once again.
He coughed suddenly, dropping the knight he was holding, prompting Mickey to look up at him in concern. Canton's eyes narrowed, his gaze sweeping the room swiftly before returning to their game, on guard. The youngest Doctor dropped his screwdriver. The middle one glared over his book.
She feigned complete interest in Rose's next move, her smile widening as she made her chess- playing Time Lord lurch forward in his seat, suddenly very intent on the games before him, his focus seemingly so intense he could see nothing else in the room. His large- eared regeneration finally zoned in on her mischievous smile, and he took the seat beside her, stealing half of Jack's properties as he wormed his way into their game, his eyes never leaving her face. This, of course, raised Jack's suspicions, who immediately began trying to piece together whatever it was that had brought his first Doctor to his table. So focused was River on her husband's reactions that she barely noticed the younger man's sly concentrated study of her own features.
She gave him an innocent grin, offering a third of her current possessions to the newcomer that, despite his youth and incarnation, she still distantly considered her husband. She didn't know this version of him well enough to realize the smile he returned to her was nothing more than a defiant mask he wore as he worked things out.
She returned her eyes to the board, licking her lips subtly before pulling the bottom one in between her teeth, concentrating once again.
"River…" her floppy haired husband finally spoke: a low, warning sound she quite enjoyed actually. At the sound of her name, her parents and their conversational partners looked up at her seemingly innocent face, which currently seemed entirely focused on the board in front of her. She lifted her eyebrows as though he was pulling her attention away from the exciting game before her, turning her head but not her eyes toward him.
"Yes, Sweetie? Did you want something?" she asked in her most harmless tone.
"Stop it." Ooh, did she ever love that growl. She looked through her properties, face now a mask of concentration, missing the amused and growing smile of the Doctor next to her and the very determined efforts of the now bespectacled, and squirming, Doctor to read his book.
"Oh, she owns Boardwalk, Doctor. Practically won the game already," she affected an air of ignorance, feigning concern at Rose's game skills. Like she would cheat! Hardly ever.
"River Song…" that delicious warning tone was back, along with the confused faces of all non- Doctors in the room, who were trying to determine the source of the Doctors' seeming discontent.
"Did you need something, Dear?" she finally spared him a glance, looking up as though she'd been terribly engrossed in her game. The leather wearing man next to her was grinning widely with his arms crossed now, in on the joke and enjoying himself terribly. Oh, he couldn't wait to go constantly head to head against her someday.
"Your parents are in the room. And many of my friends."
She sighed, as though he were burdening her with old news.
"Yes, Sweetie. I see them," she responded patiently, angelically.
Her floppy haired, bowtie- wearing husband gave her a warning look, amused eyes lingering on her bright ones despite her tolerant façade, before he shook his head with a small smile and turned back to his game.
Amy and Rory knew their daughter well enough to not be fooled by her tone and light- hearted manner. Since when did River Song do anything angelically? They returned to their conversations, sneaking glances as often as was polite, knowing the odds of catching on to whatever game River was playing with her husband were incredibly low, yet curious nonetheless.
After a few minutes, everyone was settled back into what they were doing before the random interruption. Rory and Martha had abandoned the now- brooding Doctor to go join up with Donna and Amy, missing it as River's brows furrowed once more, ever so slightly. Jack, who hadn't yet given up on uncovering the mysterious behaviours of River or any of the Doctors in the room, saw the ears of the man in front of him turn nearly crimson as River licked her lip once more, while the other Doctor knocked over several chess pieces, and the glasses- wearing Doctor yelled forcefully, "River!"
His sudden outburst at a woman who was across the room from him turned nearly all heads his direction. All but Jack, who looked between the four people who seemed to be in on this private joke, and, piecing together the blush on his first Doctor's face, the clumsy fumbling of the oldest Doctor, the outburst from the other Time Lord, and the personality of River Song, he began to laugh. Loudly.
He threw his head back and hooted, looking at River in appreciation, slapping her lightly on the shoulder before wiping the tears from his eyes, getting up to refill his cup and calm down.
River, meanwhile, realized the other Doctors were being affected as much as the one she was most used to, and every particle of her being seemed to hum in delight. When she met her husband's eyes, he shook his head slightly, begging her not to do whatever it was that look meant she was about to do.
She turned to look at the man next to her, his chin resting on his hand, blush gone as he grinned and waved his fingers at her cheekily.
She folded her hands together in front of her face, hiding the unmistakable wide grin threatening to break apart her face, and turned her head smugly back to the board. By now, Donna, Martha, Amy, and Rory had all given up the charade of even carrying on a conversation, immensely curious as to how whatever this was would play out. Rose looked toward the Doctor whose face she had watched change, scolding him for picking on sweet, innocent River.
"Innocent?!" he burst at her.
"She's all the way over here- you expect us to believe she's doing anythin' to bother you?! Leave her alone, Doctor. Go back to you book." She made a dismissing motion with her hands, making him mutter as he buried himself down in his seat, book high in front of his face, hiding from the other people in the room.
Both Doctors who had known River prior to this whole impossible mess chose to continue casually with their chess games and book, respectively. Mickey, Canton, and Rose attempted to continue in their games as well, sporadically glancing up at all the Doctors and River, wondering what had caused the fuss. Martha, Amy, Rory, and Donna gave up any extra activity in favour of attempting to observe the show, each trying to inspect River from afar to see what she could be holding or using to so fluster the Doctor and spying nothing. Jack wouldn't divulge the secret to whatever was happening, and the Doctor between River and Rose was busy sitting back in his chair, arms crossed as he stared with a slight smirk on his face both curiously and suspiciously watching River, who was currently paying Rose rent, acting as though nothing had happened.
The oldest, married, Doctor was still on edge, glancing warily at his wife from the corner of his eye. The thinnest Doctor had both his glasses and his book pressed tightly against his nose, trying very, very hard to occupy himself in a way that would distract from certain… things. Everyone was so busy paying attention to River, in fact, they missed the furtive look from her husband as he once more glanced at her from the corner of his eye, this time with a sly gleam and a smirk on his face, before River suddenly dropped her token, recovering it quickly before continuing to count out her advance on the board. The youngest Doctor next to her put his hands to his ears, closing his eyes and shaking his head in an effort to block something out. The one reading on the seat swiped one hand behind his neck nervously, the other hand coming up to frantically sweep over his face as though to wipe his mind clear. It didn't help.
"Do you two need a room?" asked Jack with a large smile on his face, bringing his cup up to his lips as he looked between River and her Doctor.
"No worries, Captain, we already have one," she replied breezily, beaming sweetly at him.
"Maybe this," complained the Time Lord in the chair as he pointed an accusing finger between the two apparent conspirators, of what no one could figure out, "would be better continued there, then."
"Oh, this way is much more entertaining, Honey." River shrugged, smiling flirtatiously at him. He adjusted his glasses, clearing his throat as he turned back to his book.
Rose looked to the Doctor sitting next to her, casually leaning back in his seat, hoping he would give her some clue as to whatever was going on. He merely lifted his eyebrows playfully at her, turning his attention back to the two people on whom nearly the entire room was focused.
River, organizing her properties and counting her money, slowly, calculatingly, licked her lips before pulling her bottom lip into her mouth, her gaze never leaving the cards before her, just as three things happened simultaneously.
The Doctor next to her fell back abruptly in his chair, landing haphazardly on the floor in shock. Her husband's hand fell as he was about to make a move, knocking down both chess boards completely, pieces flying everywhere as his eyes went wide, mouth gaped open, and he blatantly stared at his wife. And, finally fully aggravated, the pinstripe- wearing, book- reading Doctor leaped up, his book soaring across the room as he scratched his head frantically and paced back and forth a couple of times, before he turned to face River, who looked up at him with doe- eyed innocence.
"For all that is sane and good, River Song, please- please, could you keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself?! Especially seeing as we're currently surrounded by other people!" his chest heaved with annoyance and righteous indignation, his countenance reprimanding and pleading as he swept out an arm to demonstrate said people. And as he looked at her with earnest, yet very bright eyes, he swallowed the lump in his throat slowly, carefully, embarrassment evident in every feature. River didn't think she'd seen such a beautiful sight in a very long time.
"Would you prefer I wait until we're alone then, Sweetie?" she challenged him in mock sympathy. He swallowed hard one more time, staring at her, then he walked out- eyes and mouth shut tightly against whatever thoughts she had been not keeping to herself.
She brushed a single curl behind her ear as she watched him leave, her husband's eyes following her every movement, before he abruptly stood and reached out, pulling her up from the chair with extraordinary fervour.
"I believe you mentioned we had a room? Lovely place, don't see it often enough, really. River, come, let's go explore it together."
With that they swiftly made their way out of the common room, River winking playfully at a sniggering Amy and Canton.
Jack and Mickey, once they'd stopped laughing long enough to catch their breath, reached down and picked up the last Doctor, whose blush was back in full force, despite his seeming control throughout the game his future wife had just won. Upon seeing the roomful of people now staring at him, he looked toward the door through which the couple had just disappeared, before picking up his screwdriver again, and with all the dignity he could muster, stuck it securely back into his pocket before looking to Rose for sympathy. Her body shook as she looked at him with all the understanding she could muster, before her face contorted too much and she snorted loudly in laughter, doubling over in amusement.
"Well," she said, as her first Doctor turned his back on her betrayal, walking to lean against the wall of his faithful TARDIS, the only non- traitor in the group, "I guess innocent wasn't exactly the right word to describe her, was it?"
"No, Rose," said Jack, wiping the tears from his eyes as he swung an arm around her shoulders, taking in the various faces around the room now attempting and failing spectacularly to look contrite at the Doctor's very serious 'I'm the Doctor, and I'm not to be mocked' face, "innocent would most definitely not describe River Song."
Seeing Donna on the floor in hysterics, Rory politely trying to hide his laughter into his own shoulder, and Martha propping herself up on the wall for support as her body shook was apparently too much for the proud Time Lord, who couldn't appear to be amused by this. Well, he shouldn't be. Probably.
So he gave a good dramatic huff as he walked out of the room to join his next regeneration, most likely to discuss this odd situation once more. Although, he mused as he slowed his steps, perhaps maintaining the paradox a little longer wouldn't be such a terrible idea. Not a terrible idea at all.