"Hello sweetie," River said as she waltzed through the door of the TARDIS.
Lights were flashing, and smoke was coming from somewhere.
"What have you done to her this time?" She asked as she made her way to the console, flicking a switch to activate the fire suppression.
The Doctor stopped and looked around, "What did you do?"
"Oh nothing," she said innocently.
He went back to frantically fussing with the console. "Got caught in a solar flare while I was trying to track a comet, everything's fine though."
Sparks showered down around his head in contradiction to his words.
"I'm sure," she said as she adjusted some more settings on the console. "Wait, was that the solar flare where we ended up crashing into that comet you were so curious about?"
"Possibly, maybe...yes," he said as he flicked some controls, causing the engines to groan.
"And you didn't think to finish the repairs before jumping into the vortex? You beautiful idiot. I don't know how you manage sometimes," she said, shaking her head fondly as she readjusted the settings he had just changed, settling the engines into a more stable pattern as the smoke finally cleared.
The Doctor rushed around the control room with his usual chaotic mannerisms until he was satisfied everything actually was okay, and that River wasn't touching anything. "Right, where was I? Ah yes, hello sweetie. So where to this time, I was thinking we could..."
"It's my turn to choose," River interrupted. "I was thinking the Singing Towers of Darillium. I hear it's ever so romantic, and you keep promising to take me there."
The Doctor grabbed her hands as she reached for the controls to set the coordinates. "No," he said forcefully, some emotion passing over his face that he hid before she could decide what it was. "Not yet...I've got better idea."
River walked into a room, one of many in the twisting corridors of the TARDIS. It was filled with odd bits and pieces the Doctor had collected on his way through the universe. She smiled fondly as she ran her fingers over various pieces, a statue of some eight limbed creature she didn't recognise, a child's toy that lay propped against an Earth renaissance painting that was so old the colours had faded.
He is such a hoarder, she thought to herself, wondering just how many rooms there were, how many nooks and crannies around the TARDIS holding his many memories and secrets.
River walked through a door into another room, and then another, not heading anywhere in particular, just exploring the TARDIS. Each room held an assortment of objects. She picked up some pieces she recognised, and other she didn't, before carefully placing them back. She wondered about the stories behind them all, laughed quietly when she found a few whose stories she did know, odd pieces from places they had visited together.
Her wandering brought her to another small room, one she had never been in before. The artefacts in this room where all neatly arranged, cared for. Her footsteps stilled as she recognised some pieces from Gallifrey, probably all he had left of his home world. River hesitated, unsure if she should be here. The keepsakes and memories in the other rooms hadn't seemed as private as these. She felt like she was intruding on something he kept hidden.
She laughed, spotting a snow globe she had once given to him.
"Sentimental idiot," she said to herself as she picked it up, giving it a good shake and watching as flakes drifted and settled around the Eiffel Tower inside.
Something caught her attention, a small piece of paper poking out from beneath a pile next to where the snow globe had been sitting. She could see her name written on it in the Doctor's hand writing. She pulled the letter from beneath the pile. Her eyes scanned the page, whatever was written on it had been crossed out in dark angry lines.
She rummaged through the pile of papers, finding several versions of the letter. Some crossed out, others torn or crumpled and tossed on the floor, most with only a few lines, as if he couldn't decide on the right words. She thought some of them looked old, and wondered what it was he had been trying to say to her for so long.
River sat down, reading what she could of them, which wasn't much, trying to piece together the Doctor's thoughts, trying to understand what he wanted to say. She was distracted as the TARDIS suddenly lurched.
"River!" She heard him yell out. "If you're not too busy we have a slight problem. Nothing major, just a solar flare, oh, and we're crashing. RIVER!"
She rolled her eyes, though couldn't help smiling. He always managed to get himself into trouble if left alone for even a minute. She ran out the door, heading towards the control room, forgetting the letters she had found.
The Doctor crumpled a piece of paper and shoved it into the pocket of his jacket as River rushed back into the TARDIS. Face flushed, and laughter bubbling as she tried to catch her breath.
"Oh sweetie, you should have stayed, the Marquis is ever such a good dancer, and you know how I love to see you all jealous."
"The Marquis? Was he the one with the..." the Doctor waved his hand, vaguely indicating his nose, almost stabbing himself with the pen he was still holding, making River laugh.
"Yes, he was still kind of dashing though."
River sauntered over to stand next to the Doctor, pulling something from her bag. "I have something for you?"
She held out her hand, a snow globe of the Eiffel Tower resting on her palm. He took it, giving it a shake.
"Now, what is it that has you all so serious?" She asked, trying to reach in his pocket to retrieve the paper he had hidden.
"Nothing, nothing at all. I'm never knowingly serious remember."
He pulled away from River, trying to escape her roaming hands. She laughed, hands no longer searching for the paper as she trapped him against the console. The Doctor squirmed, trying to grab hold of her hands as she leaned in and kissed him. He accidently pushed a lever as he lent back against the console, causing the TARDIS to shudder as it began to phase.
River laughed as she exited the TARDIS. "Until next time sweetie," she called over her shoulder.
Humming to herself as she walked down the path, swinging her hips in time to the tune, she replayed her night with the Doctor, committing it to memory as she did with every one of their encounters. He had finally taken her to the Singing Towers of Darillium. It had been worth the wait.
She pulled on her jacket against the chill of the night air. As she did, something fell from her pocket. She reached down to pick up an envelope. In the dim light she could just make out her name, scrawled across it in the Doctor's handwriting.
She opened it, smiling to herself as she read. The page inside contained just one line...
"I will always love you."