His memory is perfect. And maybe that's the problem.
He remembers everything from the crinkling around her eyes when she smiles to the cadence of her footsteps.
Heels click with purpose as she makes her way through the empty halls, the sound of it humming around him like a crisp summer breeze. "Sweetie?" A familiar voice calls, and he knows by the way the word leaves her lips that she'shis River. The mere presence of her is a wave of comfort, and somehow, the cause of his stuttering pulse. He's tinkering under the console, but as she approaches he can see the shapely curve of her calves and ruby red shoes, with a dangerously high heel. He knows those shoes. Those are her 'battle' heels.
"Are we going out then?" He grins, mind racing through all the places they've been, all the places he would like to take her, and everywhere he never can.
"I was rather hoping we'd stay in." He can practically hear the smirk no doubt gracing her features, like she knows something he doesn't. Truth be told, she probably does, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Staying in is rubbish." He declares. "I stayed in once. Took up gardening. It was going well until the chrysanthemums turned against me and tried to use me as fertilizer. You'd expect that kind of thing from a Venus Fly Trap or maybe even a cactus. They have a bad reputation, cactus. But they're actually excellent joke tellers."
"Well if you're sure…" There's a flirty edge to her voice, but he takes no notice of it. Instead, he blunders on like a dog with a bone. "Excellent! There's a place on Valebat VII that has a three month long festival to celebrate the rising of their third sun. It can get pretty wild, mind you. Any century will do except the eighth. I suspect the middle sun will be due for a hypernova about then. And then there's the last time I went. A previous regeneration got invited home by some very promiscuous Zygons. I politely declined, of course. But you know what they say, let Zygons be Zygons. Is that what they say? I can never remem-"
His eyes fall on her as he rolls out from under the console, all thoughts suddenly vanishing. She's standing there like some kind of Demi god, wearing heels, a smirk, and nothing else. Festivals and hypernovas now seem infinitely dull compared to the vision before him. She's all bouncy golden hair and smooth curves and- "You were saying?" She asks, drawing his eyes to her lips, the corners of which are tugging upward in amusement. They're as red as her shoes and infinitely more dangerous. Those lips can smirk and smile and kiss and speak words that must never be spoken. And just behind them are her teeth and tongue and wait, she'd asked him a question. Zygons and Valebat VII! Why was he talking about them again?
"Doctor, dear." She purrs, and oh yes! That's him. He has a name. Names are cool. "You're gawking."
Remembering himself, he snaps his jaw shut. He clears his throat to speak because he also has a mouth, one he used to be rather good at working until she came into the picture. "Let's stay in." He says, trying to keep his voice level and failing. "In is good."
She was always surprising him. Diving off buildings, careening out of space crafts, and sashaying into his life like it was hers to disrupt whenever she pleased. He thought he knew everything until she swaggered in with her guns, lipstick, and spoilers. "Sweetie, what are you doing?" She asks, watching him wiggle into a white jumpsuit.
"Beekeeping." He looks up at her eagerly only to be met with a dubious expression. "I'm allowed to have hobbies." He scoffs.
"The last time you took up a hobby poor Amelia Earhart ended up in Hawaii."
"I didn't hear her complaining."
An accusatory eyebrow arches at him. "In 3039."
He dismisses her words with a wave of the hand. "In the grand scheme of things 2000 years is right next door. Besides, that century suited her much better anyway."
Her eyes fall to his feet. "So if you're beekeeping, why the tap shoes?"
He sighs, eying her like she's naïve and precious for asking. "Because," she fights the urge to roll her eyes at his condescending tone. "Bees communicate by dance. How else will I teach them to make honey?"
"That's not how it-" She pauses, biting back a grin as an idea occurs to her. "Actually, I think I read somewhere they respond much better to ballet. Have you considered getting tights?"
But nothing sticks in his memory quite like that first time: an explosion and smoke, a halo of white light silhouetting her form, carnivorous shadows and swaying hips, and "Hello sweetie."
Her presence was as warm as the sun and just as blinding. But she's gone as quickly as she came, leaving the air around him dark and cold in her wake. Now she's just an apparition he conjured to help endure his eternal loneliness. Or perhaps she's something the TARDIS interface created to fill the vast emptiness surrounding him. Either way, she's nothing more than a phantom, taunting him with days that never were. But he thinks she should have faded by now, this ghost that both haunts and keeps him sane. She is an echo. She is the evanescent ripples in a pool of water. She isn't real.
And yet, she is.
Everything about her is just so River it's cruel. It burns his hearts and stings somewhere deep inside him he forgot existed.
"You can't stay cooped up here forever." The ghost of his lover breathes. It's both a reprimand and a plea. Oh yes I can, he thinks childishly as he tinkers endlessly beneath the console. It's not really broken but he needs a distraction. He needs to not think about her, but it seems the universe has other plans. Bathed in the light of the console and dressed all in white, she's never looked so beautiful, so ethereal, so unattainable. He never answers when she speaks; acknowledging her would be too painful. Instead, he steals glances out of the corner of his eye and drinks in the soothing sound of her voice. He is lost and alone, a vagabond wandering the desert. No River, no Ponds, only this mirage to keep him company.
"You'll find someone else, you know." She says so suddenly he almost drops his vector wrench right on his face. His tormentor sighs, a tender, nostalgic sound. "Why does she put up with you? I'd never let you touch half the places you did if you were that clumsy with me." She teases just like the real River would and it aches and it soothes at the same time. Her voice sobers before she speaks again. "You will find someone one day. A companion, I mean, not a..." She doesn't finish her sentence and he's so so glad because he doesn't think he could take it if she did. "Maybe branch out this time, yeah? Donna… Amy… you're always befriending gingers." She chuckles at his expense, the sound of it carving fresh wounds into his battered hearts.
The deep, throaty rumble of her laugh is seared into his memory. He hears it in the rustling of leaves and the crunching of snow. "The last of the great frost fairs." She tells him.
"Why does it have to be the last?" He asks with the flip of a switch, already obliging to her request.
"Because we're always in the wrong order." She slides up next to him to straighten his bow tie. "Let's share a last together."
His arms snake around the curve of her waist, fingers slipping under the hem of her prison shirt just because he can. With her this close, it would be a crime not to. In fact, he's sure on some planet somewhere it probably is. Her skin is soft and warm, and oh, he knows this terrain so very well. There's a scar, almost invisible to the naked eye, in the small of her back. He fancies himself the only one who knows it exists, that he alone has been allowed to worship her body so thoroughly he could draw it with his eyes closed. Not that he would ever dare to rely on simple ink and graphite to reconstruct the perfection that is River song. Such fickle things as parchment and paper could never contain her image. Instead, he decides he'll paint her monument with spiral galaxies and supernovas, using all of time and space as his canvas.
"Why not the first?" He gives into the urge to run his fingers over the dip at her side, just to make her shiver. She does, smiling up at him as she answers, "To prove to you endings don't have to be sad."
She was wrong.
He knows because he's reached the end. He's mapped out her timeline from Berlin to the Library, filling any spare second he can. He hoards her days like precious stones, crossing his own timeline on more than one occasion. "You really shouldn't be here." River chastises him, but her eyes are the picture of surprise and delight.
"Couldn't resist." He grins back, stepping closer to her so he can peer through the window. Inside he can see Amy, dressed all in white, and Rory, staring at his bride like she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. He thought he'd never see them again, his Ponds. The sight of them, so young and in love, without a care in the world, makes his hearts ache. But River's looking up at him now, scrutinizing his face to determine his age. He borrows joy from the festive scene around them to smile brightly down at her and ask, "Care for a dance, Doctor Song?" She melts into his arms like she's finally come home after a long day. "I thought you'd never ask."
He makes a nasty habit of orbiting Stormcage, feet dangling from the TARDIS as he stares blankly down at the grey-blue planet swirling with angry storms. Once or twice he lands, only to find an empty cell. All her nights are taken up by younger versions of him, and her days she spends earning her pardon or having adventures of her own. From the start, their days were numbered. In the end, he used up hers the same way he used up everyone he's ever known.
He gives in to the loneliness one night and goes to her home, their home, or the closest thing to. The bigger on the inside cabin she bought after she was finally released from Stormcage. "But why here?" He asks the first time he sees it, leaning out over the cliffs edge to study the angry ocean below. "This planet is notorious for having daily hurricanes."
She answers plainly, "I don't like still water."
He doesn't need to ask why.
This time when he lands, it's just in time to catch a glimpse of a past TARDIS fading away. Inside, the house still smells like her. There's a cup of warm, forgotten tea sitting on the counter, and a half finished game of scrabble waiting on the table tells him exactly which night this is. He remembers watching her as she steps out of the TARDIS, green eyes alight with wonder. Hundreds of years together and he can still surprise her. He loves seeing that look on her face, even more so when he's the one who put it there.
"Dancing on clouds? You've out done yourself, sweetie." She spins to face him, disturbing the air around her as she does so. Wisps of fluffy white float by and her eyes chase them as they float up, up, and away into the star speckled sky.
"It's not actually a cloud." He corrects, stepping away from the TARDIS. "Hardened ice crystals interacting with trace amounts of nitro-" A delicate finger on his lips silences him. "Husband, shut up." She says sweetly. There's moonlight bouncing off her hair and starlight kissing the apples of her cheeks, and she's the most breathtaking sight he's ever laid eyes on. Her smile must have its own gravitational pull because he finds himself swaying towards her. Lips brush softly over lips and they dance until twin suns begin to rise, casting streaks of pink and orange across the eastern skyline.
She throws her head back and laughs as he trips over thin air on his way back to the ship. It's the sound of sheer bliss resonating through the airwaves and coating his insides like warm liquid on a cool day. He should be cross, but all he can manage is a halfhearted pout. If it makes her smile, he would do it again a thousand times over. In fact, there's nothing he wouldn't do to make that sound leave her lips.
Then there are nights he wishes he could forget. Wretched nights when he would yell and she would stand there like unmovable stone. In anger or desperation, he would hurl words at her like shurikens, because he couldn't help himself or because he needed to. But mostly because she could take it. People that aren't people and Amy's missing and Rory's counting on him and it's never been more prevalent that he is wildfire and his path through the universe is scar tissue and doesn't she know he'll burn her too. He's already seen it happen.
He shouldn't have come here, shouldn't be putting this on her, but he has nowhere else to go. "Where is she?" He demands, quiet rage bristling just under the surface. She's hesitant and that's good because even he doesn't know what he's capable of right now. "Who?" There's a slight tremor in her voice that says she does. River knows all too well the depths he can sink.
'Now, my Doctor, I've seen whole armies turn and run away.' Yes, he thinks. That's what they'll do if they're smart. That's what I can be if that's what it takes to find her.
"You know who." His words are threatening and they hang in the air like a noose. "I can't tell you where she is." River admits, genuine anguish on her face, but he blows right past it, baiting her with impossible questions. "Can't or won't?"
She stiffens. "That's not fair."
"Fair?!" He's up and across her cell in the blink of an eye, the cold detachment in his voice giving way to desperation. "Amy was taken,River." He spits her name like its acid in his mouth and she flinches. "Did you really think I would just accept that you 'can't'? Do you think Rory will?"
She lets out a long sigh before she speaks. "You're going to have to."
This is hurting her, too. He can tell, but right not he just doesn'tcare. "I know you know." He crowds her space, looming over her, voice low and dangerous. "You always know. Now tell me where she is."
"It's not that simple, my love." The endearment rolls of her tongue all too easily. It must be a lie, he thinks, because if she loves him why won't she help him? "I wish it were, but it-"
An angry fist slams into the wall, silencing her. "Don't you dare 'spoilers' me. Not about this." His gaze falls heavy on her frame, but if the weight of it is crushing her, she doesn't show it. Instead, she takes a deep breath, gathering strength like the coming words are for her as well as him. "I'm not the one you're angry with."
"You sure about that?" He grinds his jaw, examining her. Of course, she's right. It's not her fault, but anger is seeping out of his pores, eager to blame any and everyone he can. "You could have at least warned me."
"What good would that have done?"
"What good could possibly come of this?" He counters, venom hot on his tongue. She doesn't answer. Her eyes say enough, green orbs pleading with him to understand.
His tone softens. "River,please." He draws the word out, desperate eyes searching hers. He is a sinking ship and she's his only lifeline. And yet, she remains a fortress, secrets locked up tight behind steely resolve.
Her silence is deafening and he can feel the swirling storm inside of him, rage rising like the tide. He takes a step back, flashing a smile that's anything but comforting. "I shouldn't have come here." He offers easily, but there's a chill in his tone that sets her on edge. "After all, why do you care what happens to Amy? Good people die around you all the time, don't they Doctor Son-" Her palm collides with his cheek, the sharp sound of flesh on flesh echoing through the empty corridor.
"You want answers, Doctor?" She asks, jaw tight. "There's your TARDIS. Go find them." He opens his mouth to protest but she's quicker. "Amy's trusting you to find her." There's fire in her eyes and wisdom in her words. "And every second you waste asking me questions you know I can't answer, you're letting her down. She believes in you, Doctor. Rory believes in you." Closing the gap between them, her voice softens. "I believe in you. But if this is how you're going to act," she pauses, letting a long breath out through her nose. "You don't deserve any of it."
It feels like she's slapped him again, only worse. Her words pierce straight through his armor of anger, finding the deepest parts of him and exposing him for all he is. He deflates,collapsing into her petite frame, bringing all his burdens and his guilt with him. Her arms fold around him, all the shelter he needs and far more than he deserves. Whispered 'sweetie's and' my love's calm him until the beat of his hearts is one with her voice. She smells like vanilla and time, and the warmth of her body against his shatters something inside him. "What if I fail?" He sobs into her chest, pouring his misery and pain into her with abandon. "You won't." She whispers, her lips brushing the shell of his ear.
"But Rory's counting on-"
"Shhh." She soothes, smothering his grief with unconditional forgiveness. They don't need to speak. The sound of her breathing is enough to shieldhim from demons that don't take physical form and monsters that can't be beaten with screw drivers and eloquent speeches. Fingers swirl Gallifreyan symbols for 'safe' and 'love' into his skin. Her tenderness coats him like a warm blanket, seeping down into his wounds until the poison in his veins is replaced by endless unfailing love.
No one understood him like River. She knew him better than he knew himself. She shared in every shinning victory. She stood by with unflinching acceptance as he recounted every black day. And she was there for every lazy Sunday in between. He remembers them all, every excruciating, blissful second. Even the days when he had a different face. He can tell by the look in her eyes that he's younger than she wants him to be. Again. He wonders if he'll ever stop disappointing her. "There had better be a Cybership in that picnic basket."
She smirks up at him as she begins to unpack. "Something far worse, I'm afraid. Fish Fingers and custard." She pats the ground next to her and he obliges.
"What exactly is fish fingers and custard?" He pokes at the offending food like it might bite him.
"Your favorite. Or they will be." There's a small smile playing at her lips, but she wipes it away as soon as she notices him staring. "Let's see then. What is it this you likes? Jelly babies? No wait, that's the one with the scarf." Her eyes wash over him. "Hmm, trench coat means…" Realization dawns and she begins rifling through her basket once again.
"How did you fit all this in there anyway?" He asks, popping a grape into his mouth.
She pauses in her search to wink at him. "Bigger on the inside."
He snorts, taking his eyes off her to survey the scene around him. He can't fault her choice of location. Asgard really is beautiful this time of year.
"Here we are." She announces, passing him a plate of hotdogs. "I'll tell you something, sweetie. Your taste in food is dreadful in every regeneration."
He knows things that could topple civilizations and bring gods to their knees. He has secrets that must never be spoken and memories he must keep hidden, even from himself. He's seen monumental moments capable of rewriting history balance on the eye of a needle, just waiting on a gust of wind to sway it in one direction or the other. But he has small moments, too. It's the little things he holds most dear, like how she takes her tea, and that her eyes aren't just green, but speckled with flecks of amber. He knows every swirl, every sparkling color. The shapes and patterns he finds there are more perfect than any galaxy. She's impossibly young, not even married yet from her perspective. But he knows every last thing about her.
"How many times must I tell you? I don't do weddings."
"Now, Miss Song," The way he says her name makes her eyes darken, and he relishes that his voice can do that to her even at such a young age. "I have it on very good authority that you do."
She quirks an eyebrow. "Are those the kind of things you keep in that dusty old diary of yours, Doctor?"
"No, no, no. That's reserved for really important things like shoe preference."
"Shoe preference?" She parrots incredulously, but the smile in her eyes gives her away.
"I keep a spotters guide." He posts against the console, finger waggling at her." I can always tell by the height of the heel if you're cross."
She laughs, shoulders lifting and head falling back in one smooth motion. "You can't be serious."
"Cross my hearts." He answers honestly.
Shaking her head fondly, she gives a happy sigh and admits, "I don't know if I'll ever get used to someone knowing so much about me. How did you handle it?"
"Oh, just dreadful. You're doing a much better job of it. Then again, you've always been more graceful than me." He flips various levers as he twirls around the console, stopping right in front of her. "How do I know that?" He bops her nose. "I'm glad you asked because that brings us back to my original point. You love weddings, especially the dancing." Grinning, he holds his hand out to her.
To his surprise, he's met with a shyness that wasn't there before. "Doctor, in the future, are we…?" She trails off, trying to find the right words. "Do you…?" He brushes a stray curl behind her ear, thumb grazing against her cheek. "Now, River." He begins, voice soft and adoring. "I would have thought that was rather obvious." Her eyes flicker downward, unable to hold his intense gaze. "You said time could be rewritten. What if I don't end up like her?"
He can't suppress the smile that's tugging at his lips. She's River and she's vulnerable, and for once she isn't trying to hide it from him. If it's possible, he thinks he loves her even more. "No matter what you choose," his knuckle slides under her chin, tilting her head up until their eyes meet. "You will be, are, and always have been amazing." There's nothing but love in his eyes as he smiles down at her. "You're a force of nature in every reality, River Song."
She's as feared as he is, if not more, his vixen, his wife, his assassin and savior. He revels in things history will never know, the parts of her she only lets him see. He is privy to things no one else is. He reads her body like braille, knowing where she's ticklish and exactly where to touch to make her toes curl. He knows just what to whisper to make her eyes grow dark and breath catch in her chest.
"What am I doing?" She breathes into the darkness as he guides her backwards so she's flat on her back. He laces his bow tie around her wrists until she's secured to the headboard and answers, "As you're told."
Of course there's music in the way she laughs, rhythm in her heartbeat, and harmony in the way she says his name. But when she's like this, oh, he could compose symphonies dedicated to her sinful noises. He could write epic poems about those curves: the sharp line of her jaw, the bend in her elbow and the sensitive skin of her wrist. Though, he'll have to invent a few words to describe the way their bodies fit together. The dimples on the small of her back are just the right size for the pads of his thumbs. The way she burrows into his chest, leaving his chin to rest perfectly on her curls. Her hand fits flawlessly in his, fingers entwined like pieces of a puzzle, as they're running, running, running. She's mad, utterly mad, if she thinks this is going to work. "Are you insane?" He shouts over the cacophony of noise. "Yes!" She looks over her shoulder at him, a mad grin splitting her cheeks. "What's your excuse?"
He grins back as they chase down new and impossible dangers.
She is his greatest strength and most terrible weakness. With her by his side he could conquer anything, and in her absence nothing seems worth saving.
He wasted so long running from her. Now he tries in vain to run with her, only to end up stumbling after, chasing moments that can't be caught. He's come full circle, finding himself back at the beginning, pretending she's not right there in front of him patiently waiting. He has to be stronger this time, though, because if he gives in for even one moment and his fingers pass through her as easily as air passes through his lungs... It may just break him. Or worse, he fears she will be solid beneath his palm, flesh and blood, honey and silk, velvet and gunpowder. Then he really will be just a lonely madman in a big blue box.
He's lying on the bed they used to share, unable to sleep. It's like she never left, really. The scent of her still lingers in the air. Dresses and heels mingle with jackets and top hats. Tools from her latest dig are scattered across the dresser. The book she never finished is waiting on the bedside table, and there are traces of vanilla on his pillow, and he hates their stupid timelines because he never got to say goodbye. But how do you say goodbye to something you don't want to end? Maybe that's why he's imagining her now. As long as she's haunting him, he doesn't have to let her go. Though, if he's honest, it feels more like a punishment than a reprieve. She's so close, and yet, he cannot touch her.
She's perched on the corner of the bed, chatting incessantly. "For someone who claims he doesn't sleep, you sure do spend an awful lot of time in here." He curls farther under the covers to escape her, but it's no use. He needs sound proof covers. Yes, he thinks, I'll invent some of those in the morning. "Although," she says cheekily. "I suppose we didn't exactly spend most of it sleeping." A soft chuckle leaves her lips. "Wouldn't trade it for the world, though."
Suddenly there's a hand reaching out to brush against the tips of his hair, and his whole body stiffens at the imagined contact. She's so real next to him. It would be too easy to indulge the fantasy, to smirk and say 'Hi honey, I'm home.' Then she would feign annoyance and ask, "And what sort of time do you call this?" Static from the vortex still crackles over her skin, and he can feel the time energy as he runs his hands over her shoulders and down her arms. Her skin is honey, golden and sweet, beneath his fingers. She is silk and fire and all things he holds dear. Their lips meet and the taste of her, time and trouble, bursts across his tongue like fireworks. A kiss so powerful it robs his lungs of oxygen. The scent of her is spice and gunpowder, washing over him like a tidal wave. If this is drowning, he's never been more willing.
He buries his face into the pillow, willing his mind to think of something else, anything else.
There's silence for along moment and he thinks, maybe, just maybe his punishment is over. But the thought is gone as quickly as it came. She sighs, causing a rush of air to ghost across his face. His eyes fly wide to find her lying mere inches from him. He slams his eyes shut, pulling the covers over his face for good measure. He needs the physical barrier between them because he clearly can't trust his eyes not to imagine her. She's an echo, he schools himself, and echoes don't have warm breath, sweet smelling hair, and impossibly green eyes.
"You're over a thousand years old." She fusses. "Stop sleeping like a twelve year old afraid of the boogieman."
Apparently he can't trust his ears either. He shuts his eyes even tighter, stars bursting behind his lids. It's so tempting to fall back into old habits. Right about now he'd say something like, 'I'll have you know the boogieman is afraid of me. But that's quite understandable given he's actually six inches tall and mostly feeds on lost dryer socks.' So tempting he bites his tongue, too, just for good measure.
"This isn't the way to mourn me." She says quietly. "It isn't what Amy would have wanted either." He bites down on his tongue so hard something metallic spills into his mouth. "What's the point in all this brooding anyway? What are you trying to prove?" That's just it, he thinks. He doesn't want to prove anything. He doesn't want to save anybody, or show anyone anything. It's all pointless. People die and he can't stop it or fight it. And hasn't he done enough already? Hasn't he suffered enough?
River gave another exasperated sigh. "I wish you would say something. My Doctor never runs out of things to say." He can hear the smile threatening to creep up her lips, the one she reserves just for him. "Even when he should, and I have to kiss him just to shut him up." His lip twitches in spite of himself. Sometimes he would ramble on purpose so she would do just that. "Not that I mind." She admits, a fond chuckle filling the space between them. He delights in the comforting sound, his body almost relaxing until she says, "I wish you were him."
It's barely audible, but he reacts on instinct, shooting out from underneath the sheets like the bed was suddenly made of hot coals. He is her Doctor, even if she is fictitious, and the thought of being anything but just won't do. He falters in his haste, nearly tripping over his own feet. "Ah, that's right." He exclaims. "Moved it to the left."
"Moved what?" She asks, following him across the room.
"The wardrobe!" He declares triumphantly, flinging the doors open and gazing at the contents. Without further ado, he begins tossing clothing about the room. There's more enthusiasm in his movements than he actually feels, but she's smiling, and damn his perfect memory because it's just as beautiful as the real thing.
"Try the purple one." She offers, every bit as excited as he's pretending to be. "I've always liked that color."
His hand digs deep into the pile and pulls out a long, Victorian style coat. It slides onto his lean frame easily, and she hums in approval. "Very sexy." Her eyes are sparkling with something a little different now, and he has to clap his hands to keep his mind from wondering. "Now for a hat."
She rolls her eyes. "Anything but a fez, sweetie, please." When he produces a top hat and places it on his head, her lips purse. "Huh." She appraises him. "Headwear I don't want to shoot."
"And last but not least." He says, opening an aged wooden box to pull out a bowtie. It goes on with familiar ease and he wishes more than anything she could be the one to straighten it. He doesn't look at her directly, but she's beside him in the reflection, now, and he can see enough to know she's giving him that look of complete love and adoration.
Just like that he's back at the beginning. It's Demons Run and she's Melody and she's River and she's part Time Lord and she's his in every way imaginable. "How do I look?" He asks, grinning like an idiot.
"Amazing." His hallucination answers in unison with his memory. With one last secret glance at her, he bounds for the door. He's not actually ready to leave the TARDIS or find a new companion. Not yet, maybe not ever.
But for her, he can pretend. For her, he could do anything.