A magician never reveals his secrets, and she supposes that’s fair. Still, the archeologist in her wants his knowledge passed down, wants blueprints for the TARDIS and that manual he flung into the heart of a star. He’s losing his Gallifreyan, and it worries her that her spelling is now better than his.
When he cracks his head on the underside of the console and they nearly careen over the event horizon of a black hole, she doesn’t bat an eye.
“Amy,” she roars, “We’re going to fly this thing.”
(Later she’ll hold over him the fact that she found the stabilizers while he had his scalp stitched up.)
Like all conmen, he is a perfect gentleman, which has been the problem all along. She has an intimate understanding of classical conditioning. Her ribcage grows tight and her mouth waters at the sound of his ship materializing. Like any good subject, she responds even when she knows she will not be rewarded.
Intentional misdirection is the name of the game, and River is ever compliant. She loses track of the number of lies she’s told him until they start becoming true. He’s always been her favorite charlatan.
The hallmark of a good magician is hands that can think for themselves. The first time she meets him, he’s come too early and she doesn’t know him yet. She shoots, he falls. She panics. Tries to stanch the blood.
He laughs once, a low huff over the punctured lung. His hand trembles but it finds one of hers and grasps it tight. “River,” he whispers (and how can he know her name?). “I should have known it’d end like this.”
She watches him be reborn.