Durlinga by OAI
Chapter 1: Never Enough
Chapter 2: A Beautiful Lie
Chapter 3: Shadow
Author's Notes: This is an idea that's been percolating for a while and I've finally managed to get it out of my head; with how blatant Riverâs sexualization is in the show, I imagine her taking Eleven to a brothel isnât much of a stretch. I'm telling the events of a single evening from three different perspectives – Riverâs, Elevenâs, and Roseâs – in that order.
If you're big into Eleven/River, this fic is not for you. I'm not bashing River, but this fic isn't complimentary to her relationship with Eleven. You have been warned.
I have no beta, so any mistakes are mine.
She had, of course, expected some difficulties in the endeavour. He’s always been a difficult man, spiralling steadily downwards since, well, for as long as she’s known him, but the drop has been so much worse since Amy’s exit from his life. She loves him though; for all his faults and stupidity, he’s still the best man she knows.
He needs this, even if he’ll never admit it; she can give him this.
Getting to this point was surprisingly easy though, but then, when you’re into adventurous sex knowing the best places to get a leg over is really just part and parcel of the whole River Song package; probably why he never thought to question her invitation to meet here.
Durlinga on Malaxia is the only place she trusts to handle this sort of request. They’re not exactly hidden from sight, but they are discreet and they’ll make anything you want happen within the confines of their building – provided you can pay for it. Their list of Cyprians is long enough that finding the right woman for the job was simple enough.
Hal’ena - River won’t refer to her by anything else – didn’t even bat an eye during the explanation of what’s needed. The credits changed hands and the facility’s technology did the rest - blue skin changed to pink, raven hair to blond, green eyes to brown, a small mouth widened to accommodate toothsome smile. In the end, the transformation was so complete, had the original girl stood next to her, even he wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference; at least, not until he touched them. But then, that’s why this costs so much - body mods are a pittance compared to memory and personality implants; for a telepath, there’s little point in the outside, if the inside doesn’t match.
See, easy - money really can buy everything.
He of course knows her tastes by now, so asking for a rendezvous here is really no surprise to him. The trading of innuendos in the lift has him so distracted that when they reach the room he doesn’t even notice where he is at first. She knows the moment he realizes - his manic voice dies and he stills like a deer in headlights, eyes fixed on the sleeping girl swathed in a pink-covered bed.
This is for him so she leaves closing him into the fantasy, never realizing how much she would come to regret it. She watches through the observation glass as he startles, whirling to face the door she’s just closed, his fists clenching as the storm builds.
For a moment, she wonders if he’ll thunder out of there, raging at her for this. A part of her wants to break it off, but the careful line he’s drawn between his past and present has already been crossed; it’s much too late to undo this now. All she can do is hope he’ll forgive her.
The girl shifts, waking and he stiffens, breaking his harrowing glare and freeing River from its grip. All it takes is one groggy word from a girl long gone and the veneer River has seen him paint over himself for years - breaks. The girl is on her knees with him in an instant, murmuring concerned words and applying a comforting touch. He just shakes his head and pulls her into his lap, cradling her as he whispers into her hair.
He kisses her then, lips pressed to her crown, brow, cheek, and hands, but not her mouth. His grip gently pulls her up and into an embrace, voice uttering a delighted laugh. A body filled with nervous energy held in check, waiting patiently for her to dress.
He doesn’t look.
A battered book is his excuse to pull her close, squishing them into a reclining chair. He holds her in one arm, taking her hand, bushing a thumb across her face even as she rests it into the crook of his shoulder. He never tries to touch her; hands never wandering to a breast or under her shirt, never grazing a thigh or her backside. He just holds her, smiling - happy.
River can’t help but think this would have been bearable if he’d just strip her down and fucked her. It might have even been enjoyable to watch them. But this - this is agony.
Not once in the years she has known him, has he ever looked at her like that. He’s held her, and danced with her, and fucked her, and run into danger with her, but she realizes - she’s not enough. She has never been enough.
She can’t watch anymore of this.
The next time she sees him she doesn’t mention what happened; neither does he. She does her best to pretend it never happened. Instead, she seeks adventure on her own - to live a life for herself and not for him, even though they keep running into each other and having fun.
Eventually, she doesn’t think about it anymore, but she never does goes back to Durlinga.
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Author's Notes: Finally got around to typing up chapter two. I'll hopefully get around to typing up the last chapter soon too. (Also, changed the title and added a cover)
Durlinga was a place they’d never been before. Oh, they’d certainly been to places like it, trying out new and interesting things; all in the name of science, of course. He was practically itching to find out what’s so different here that she thought to call him; she does know how he loves a fresh take on, well, anything in the universe.
Novelty is an excellent distraction. Who wants to sit and dwell, when something new awaits.
She’s coy about it, of course – no spoilers – as they ride the elevator. Doesn’t stop her from making quips about him being overdressed and, well, he hates losing and she’s very good at the innuendo game, though he’s improved quite a lot in the years he’s known her. He’s so caught up in trading lewd insinuations that he barely notices when they leave the lift and enter a room. It takes barely a moment after they’ve set foot inside for the sheer pinkness of the room to register – that’s not really the colour of debauchery now, is it?
Turning to glean some idea of what’s to come from the surroundings, his voice trails off halfway through asking whether River has even bothered with knickers this time.
She is there, curled up the riotously pink bed – hair rumpled, pillow squished to her half-obscured face. A little noise escapes her and she snuggles deeper into her pillow. The familiarity is so overwhelming he’s lost for a moment. It’s as though a day from long ago has suddenly stepped into the present - when he was a man he didn’t despise, and the light of a sunny little human used to chase away the darkness of the universe.
An out-of-place noise - a door clicking shut - snaps him back to reality; he is no longer that man. With all of time and space at his disposal, for all his knowledge and skills, even he can’t go back. No matter how much he wants to.
This is cruel even for River.
It’s one thing for her to mess about in his timeline, for her to cavort in his ship, and dig into the past of his long life. It’s another matter entirely for her to take what she’s learned and use it like - this. No one does this to him. No one does this to her. He’ll - “Doctor?” He can’t fight the tidal wave of nostalgia and longing that hits at the sound of her voice.
The sudden flurry of fuzzy jimjams, blond bed head, warm hands on his cheeks brushing away moisture, and soft worried words invade the stupor he wasn’t even aware of falling into. He doesn’t much care that he somehow ended up on his knees, it’s very convenient for pulling her into his lap.
Drawing her into his arms had never been difficult, stopping on the other hand had always been the hard part. So finding himself once again with a lap full of pink and yellow human, he can’t help but murmur into her hair that everything is alright, perfect even.
When her arms wind around him, he sinks further into the warmth of the embrace. Oh, how he missed this.
With a soft breath against his neck she asks if he’s certain he’s alright and he whispers assurances, pressing a kiss to her hair. Pulling back, his lips find her brow and cheek, before lifting her, both hands in his, and brushing a kiss across her knuckles.
The look of exasperation tinged with affection and topped off with a raised eyebrow has him bursting out laughing as he pulls her to her feet and into another embrace. She smiles at him then, properly and shaking her head at his antics. Then she’s stripping off and digging into her wardrobe while he’s pointedly looking away and thinking about anything other than the last time he’d seen her naked.
Really, the Denogeans need to come up with a new name for their favourite pastime - inviting off-worlders to come over for vivisection is a rather a bad way to start off a first contact situation; you’ll never catch him introducing an alien species to Milton Bradley’s Operation again – no matter how bored he is. The sheer number of near incidents he’s had to avert over the last while is starting to get ridicu-.
A hand on his shoulder pulls him back from his digression. She’s dressed in a zipper sweater and jeans, wondering where they’re off to today and all the places he wants to take her are crowding his tongue demanding to be the first out of his mouth. Then a rather vehement realization hits him – he can't take her anywhere.
She frowning then, a little wrinkle in her forehead that always tells him something’s wrong, and it dawns on him that his disappointment is showing. So he slips on a smile, pulling out a battered old book from his pocket, and tells her he’d rather stay in.
Even as she snuggles into his side in the wide arm recliner next to her bed, she takes the time to tease about his excuses to cuddle with her. He just hums, tucking her head into the crook of his neck, an arm wrapped around her, and brushing their tangled fingers across her cheek. He does frown a little over needing to use his other hand to hold the book, but needs must. His disappointment vanishes as she snakes her unoccupied hand behind him, idly playing with his waistband and suspenders as he reads.
It’s a while before she falls asleep and he’s barely enough time to notice the measured rhythm of her breathing before the door clicks open and he knows his time is up. He manages in the time it takes to tuck her back into the bed to gather back the pieces of himself that she has shaken free, and places one last kiss to her temple before making his exit.
He tries his damnedest to not look back; he doubts he’d be strong enough to leave, if he did.
Thankfully, River isn’t on the other side of the door. It’s for the best as far he’s concerned, he certainly can’t thank her for this. He knows she likely thought it would be some kind of a release for him, but he could never do that; could never use those memories as a means to an end.
It is an unequivocal truth that he is a liar. He’s lied to protect, to deceive, to save, to hurt, to help, and to destroy. He has lied to friends, to enemies, to family, and to strangers. He’s had millennia to learn the best tricks to hide behind, to tamp down the unpleasant truths of the universe, and wall up the dark depths that have had far too much time to accumulate. So he’s really very good at lying to himself and doesn’t need River to do it for him. No matter how beautiful of a lie she's trying to give him.
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Author's Notes: I think I can up with this as a way of saying goodbye to Rose/dealing with my feelings over her loss from the show. I could finally let her go now that I'm no longer watching Doctor Who - the writing just got so bad I couldn't spend my time on it anymore (Moffat's era was only watchable for me up to season 9, and from what I've read on Chibbnal's era it's only gotten worse). Still love Rose (and Doctor/Rose) as a character and the Davies era, I'm just not as enthusiastic about the fandom anymore.
She wakes to the soft click of her bedroom door closing and blinks hard, trying to shrug off the last visages of her dreams. Still heavy with sleep, she only just manages to push herself up enough to look around.
He’s standing there glaring at the door; she can’t fathom how it could have offended him. “Doctor?” She calls, voice thick. Maybe he’s going to tell her the door is about to eat them, or it’s started talking and made an insulting quip about his bowtie. That’d make for a real exciting morning, wouldn’t it. He doesn’t though - he crumples to the floor.
She’s out of bed so fast her mother would have asked where the fire was; funny how someone you care for being in distress can snap your brain to attention.
He’s crying. Is he hurt? Is he dying? Oh, bugger, he’s not gonna regenerate again is he?
“What’s wrong?” It comes out breathy and demanding and panicked all at the same time. Her hands moving over him, trying to find the source of his pain, but really who is she kidding – her Time Lord first aid is shit! Even if she found the problem she’d have little idea what to do. Though, maybe it’ll be enough to jolt him into coherence. A blurting of direction. Hand signals. Charades. Anything!
What she gets for her worry is a sudden yank forward into his lap.
Held there against his chest, squished as she is between his head and shoulder, it takes her a minute to figure out he’s saying something even as he trembles. Murmuring into her hair that nothing, whatsoever, is wrong.
At a loss for what else to do, she winds her arms around him, holding tight. It seems to calm him the longer though, the longer they sit like this. Perhaps another dream again - the one where he loses her, maybe? A bit more of this and then maybe she can drag it out of him.
As he begins to relax, she pulls away looking at him properly, ready to ask what happened. He kisses her then - eyes, forehead, cheeks, hands, nose, even her chin!
What a nutter.
He barks a laugh then, yanking her up to her feet and into another lingering hug. Whatever terror had gripped him seems to have passed; she won’t get it out of him now. Best she can do is hope to keep him distracted. So she shakes her head and goes to change.
She can’t help but smile a little when he deliberately looks away as she dresses. Honestly, he’s seen her naked plenty of times, it’s not like he needs to worry about it anymore.
It takes three tries to pull him out of his babbling about an alien race obsessed with a bad children’s game - an adventure ought to get his head on straight again. Though, that look on his face says that’s not going to happen. Maybe he’s a lot more out of sorts than she thought. He rallies almost instantly behind a book, claiming he’d rather stay in.
Bloody hell, it is worse than she thought if the only thing he wants to do is have a good cuddle.
Well, if there is one thing she is an expert at it’s cuddling the hell out of the Doctor. And if that’s what he wants, she’s more than happy to give it to him. She’s defiantly going to tease him about it though, especially when the book he’s pulled out is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, of all things.
‘Why, yes, Rose, it was inspired by me. Douglas was lovely; very whimsical. An improbability drive! Oh, oh! What fun!’
She’s pretty sure Douglas Adams depicted the insanity of the Doctor’s life more accurately than any other author so far. But then, most people don't get see just how barmy the universe really is; she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Listening to him read is always hypnotic - the gusto he dives in with always pulls her in too. She defiantly hasn’t had enough sleep though, because he’s barely a quarter of the way along before she just can’t seem to keep her eyes open any longer and drifts off.
She never noticed his face isn’t one she knows. Never wondered why he didn’t kiss her properly. Didn’t think about how she couldn't remember what happened yesterday.
She wasn’t supposed to. Because in the end, she's just the shadow of a woman long gone.
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