River opened the door to the Doctor, which was always a pleasant surprise.
“Can I come in?” he asked, pushing past her into the house.
“No, I'm auditioning for my harem and things are getting sweaty.”
“You don't have a harem,” he said.
“How would you know?” she asked, following him into the sitting-room.
“Is this new?” he asked, picking up a vase.
“It's four hundred years old.”
He replaced the vase and pointed towards the window. “These curtains, are they new?”
“Right,” he said, “that's us exhausted small talk.” He seemed relieved. “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course you can.”
He nodded and sat down on the sofa. River took an armchair as he took a moment to compose his thoughts.
“Am I... cold?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied without hesitation.
“Was I supposed to lie?”
He shook his head. “No, no don't lie. But you do like me?”
“I love you,” she corrected.
“But you like me as well?”
River considered her response. “I like you most of the time.”
The Doctor stood. “Let's go somewhere.”
They sat in space, in the doorway of the TARDIS, watching the Earth burn.
“Is this your idea of a date?” asked River.
“Hey, this a great date, it has excellent reviews!”
“Done it before have you?”
He pointed out at the scene below them. “Your home planet is being eaten by its own sun. How does that make you feel?”
She nodded. “It was a nice planet.”
“But you're not going to cry?”
River shrugged. “There are plenty of other planets, it's not like there's a shortage. Suns explode, planets die... why would I cry?”
He took her hand and pulled her back inside the ship. “We'll go somewhere else.”
“Do I have to watch this?”
“Yes, you do.” They were parked in the Atlantic Ocean, just below the surface.
“I need to see how it makes you feel.”
“Doctor, it's a shark eating a baby seal, there are only so many emotions that suggest themselves.”
“Ah! So you're sad.” He looked a bit pleased with himself.
She turned from the bloody scene. “Things eat other things. It's called life. I can't stop it even if I wanted to.”
“Sweetie, I used to be a psychopath, I don't always react the way other people would.” She closed the exterior doors. “You should ask someone with a more normal childhood.”
“But I want to ask you.”
“Why?” she asked.
“Because you're River! You're clever and you're mostly human and you don't hate me.”
“People keep saying I'm cold. Can't you.. warm me up a bit?”
River stepped into his personal space and pressed her hands to his chest. “Now we're getting somewhere,” she said, and kissed him.
“That's not what I meant,” he said when they parted.
“But you didn't tell me to stop,” she countered.
“A purely selfish impulse — I like kissing you.”
“You've never left me wanting,” she said.
“Who doesn't want to think they're great in bed?” He pulled a lever and the TARDIS tilted to one side. “Right, what else upsets people?”
River shook her head. “I'm not spending all day looking at traumatic events so that you can feel... whatever it is you want to feel. I have better things to do with my life.”
“What do you want from your life? I've never asked that, I should have asked.”
“The usual. An exciting career, a passionate husband, and a well-stocked library.”
“Do you want children?” he asked.
“Are you offering?”
“Are you asking?” He looked only mildly terrified.
River shook her head. “No. I'm not especially fond of children.”
“Humans love children,” he protested. “They like making little copies of themselves, so that they can dress them up and pretend that their love for them is selfless.”
“I see you have it all worked out.”
He nodded. “And I have a well-stocked library.”
“Can I go home now?” she asked. “I'm not really qualified to help with this problem.”
“Why can't humans be more like Time Lords? Why can't humans be more like you?”
She kissed his cheek. “I'm one of a kind.” She turned to the console and started setting the coordinates for home. “Ask someone else. Better yet, see a therapist.”
“I don't need therapy!” he protested.
River looked at him. “Oh, Doctor, that's the most ridiculous thing you've ever said.”
“Well, I don't.”
The TARDIS landed with its usual wheezing cacophony. “I'll be off then,” said River. “Next time you can take me to dinner, if you like.”
“But I don't feel any better about myself. You're supposed to tell me how great I am and make me feel good about my worth as a person.”
“Sorry, Sweetie, I don't think it's me you need to talk to.” She walked out into her kitchen and waited, just in case he was going to argue. He didn't, and when the TARDIS dematerialised she poured herself a drink.