This… this happened. To be precise, I woke up around 6 in the morning and my brain was like "You are now going to write a human!AU story in which Eleven is River's hairdresser. Questioning is useless. You may begin work, peasant." I was like "Uh", but writing something odd is better than writing nothing, so I went with the flow. And here you are =P Enjoy! Haha.
He is that tall, gangly boy with soft eyes and long, apt fingers, and the queerest sense of style. She is gorgeous and confident, with hair too big to fit in his sink.
She comes to the salon twice a month, for this and that and just because she can. Her heels click imperiously over the pristine tiles of the floor. He always seems to be intently focused on something, gaze lowered as she passes. He only glances up at the last minute, but glance up he does.
Each time she asks for someone different. She hates routine, she confides, the first time she sits there offered with him standing at her back. He just nods, and she could joke that the cat got his tongue, she could. He is usually the life and laughter of the bloody place. Yet he is that, and shy also; he towers and whispers and knocks over a bottle, and she closes her eyes the moment his fingers brush her curls.
Each time a different hairdresser. She loves some variety. She is a woman of fickle whims, a capricious heart, too spoiled and never settled.
It takes three months, but she asks for him twice.
They chat, because a hairdresser and their client always chat. She is the cat, he is the mouse. That is the idea her pride holds on to, for the first five minutes; then his lips loosen as his hands dance, and he is not only quipping back, he is witty and silly and dancing ahead of her. She hears the sound of her own laughter and is not half horrified to find it so loud, so deep, so soon. She is not half partial to her rumbling chuckle usually, its effect nothing innocent. But this, she fears, is just slightly over the top.
He doesn't seem to notice. He does stumble over his own feet. She laughs again, cruelly.
Cat at first, she is a sleepy lion by the time he finishes with her, quicker, his fingers too light over her mane. She feels kitten-like also, mellow and not quite adverse to the idea of purring. She is the one who trips as she stands up, high heels and jelly in her legs—and then his hand is around her arm, quick, steady, anchoring.
He apologizes at once—he apologizes, and she thanks. It's nothing, they both hasten to say.
Two weeks is a sodding long time. She finds a new favourite shop further down the street. Several times a day, he hits the pavement to light up. Nicotine kills, kid, she wants to tell him as she strides by. You are too young, and I am old enough to know better.
Or is she?
Her stomach aches when she calls him "kid" in the privacy of her own head, playful as it might be.
There is a third time. A favourite one of the girls is off on maternity leave, and he so happens to be there and available. No time like the present, she thinks as she sits down, and minutes swirl by in a haze of laughter and sweet scents and background music, and his face in the mirror over her head. He gets even friendlier with familiarity. He gets so very friendly, and his skill is certain; she starts finding excuses, lists of pretexts to stick with him from now on. She does that, usually, at three in the morning or in her coffee breaks or during trafic jams. She hates herself when it happens
She wants no other hands brushing her locks. Why deny herself? It is only a boy, and one hour in her life she gives away, in the grand scheme of things.
She knew his name first thing, and he hers, from the mundane process of appointment-making. None of them ever use it. She enjoys the anonymous edge, as always easily entertained by theatrics. She speaks to him with confidence; he responds with wit, brightness, softness according to the mood. They become intimate, reading each other's faces, discussing the small bothers of life. She plays the coquette, but that is a given. He mentions little of who he is outside the salon, with his long, clever hands empty.
By now, when their time comes to an end, she occasionally arranges the next appointment already. She has regained her confidence, her arrogance; her hair demands him, not her heart and she sees no reason not to comply. On bad days, she wonders if the other employees hide a smirk at her change of habits. Conspicuous, obvious, her mind whispers. She will not look the fool, the middle-aged lady with a crush.
She worries and worries, and makes her plans all the same. One day, he tells her next time will be the last time. Unless she follows him in his brand new salon, he jokes. Something of his own, and his only; she likes to think that she feigns excitement convincingly.
The problem of fidelity was never a problem before. Bugger, bugger, bugger.
She doesn't ask for her friends' advice—a bit too proud or too private, she fears ridicule. She adds a few sleepless nights to the pile, calling herself a silly woman. Silly, sentimental…
She almost cancels that last time. All the way through she is quiet and he hardly dares to chatter. She fights to force it, but laughter and light tones won't come. She once prided herself on being a better actor than that.
When the moment comes to pay, her high heels betray her and she roughly meets the floor, unexpected.
She repeats again and again that she didn't do it on purpose ("I would hope not," he says, shaking his head with his fringe in his eyes) and that the whole uproar is thoroughly unnecessary. A thousand times she reiterates that as he drives her to the ER. With a sprained ankle, she feels like the dumbest thing in the world, a laughing stock. His worry is adorably genuine. His shift happens to be over and he offers her a lift home. She has her refusal ready, all set on her tongue. If only he hadn't said her name, shyly.
For the first time.
She chokes back the words "No, thank you".
Somehow, on the ride up, she had not noticed what an utter mess his car is. She teases now, and he flushes. He helps her walk, ever the gallant thing. He also hovers in her hallway, big caring hands stuck in his pockets, slouching and pink and she could kiss him right there and then. Only the throb in her leg is holding her back, that has to be admitted. A callback to reality, if you will.
"See you around, Professor River Song," he tells her.
"You say that like you're going to come back," she says.
He blushes even harder. He trips over his feet upon leaving.
Once alone, River sighs. She will count the bruises later, on her ego not least of all.
Her hands flutter, glossy red nail varnish and round figures in blue biro. The caress and the claw.
She smiles, slow and wide—she cannot help it, doesn't truly want to, either.
Reality be damned.