"Even when you're high, you can get low. Even with your friends you love, you're still alone. We always find the darkest place to go. God forgive our minds, we were born to roam. Wherever is your heart, I call home." -Brandi Carlile
River isn't like most women. She treats the laws of physics like suggestions and her prison cell like a bed and breakfast. She treats him like her own personal chauffeur. She huffs and rolls her eyes and looks at him like he's more hindering than helping. But most days, she treats him like he treats his companions. She comes and she goes, only popping in when she needs something or to show off and be clever. She torments and she teases, a smirk, a kiss, a wink then zap; she's gone.
River never travels with him. She makes her own way through the universe, leaving a mark on history all on her own. She rolls her eyes at his genius, because he should have done that five minutes ago and don't touch that sweetie. Honesty, what is it with you and big red buttons?
Who does she think she is, swanning in and being thoroughly unimpressed with him? What right does she have to be unfazed by his improbable schemes that shouldn't really work, but always do.
He tries not to let her get under his skin. He doesn't need her. He has his Ponds. Except there are times, quite often, when they're not around at all.We're going to sleep. Please can you get rid of the bunk beds? and Yes we are going for a shower. No, I'm not explaining why.
We. We. We.
Them and him.
It makes him lonely. He has other friends, sure. People he knows or used to know or could meet. There's Churchill and Brigadier and he's always wondered what Aristotle was like. He could go anywhere, but he always comes back to her.
He finds himself at Stormcage because she's probably bored and who wants to sit in a prison cell? And he never could resist a mystery. It's only a little bit because he wants to make her look at him like the rest of them do. He wants to impress her. He wants to make her gaze at him in wide eyed wonder, to take her breath away, and bring tears to her eyes for reasons other than his incompetence. He wants her breath to catch on words other than we haven't? and hush now, spoilers.
More than anything he wants to know her, and not just who she is or why she's in prison. He wants to know what makes her smile. What makes her blush? What makes her scared? And why? And where does it live so he can go fight it or destroy it or throw it in a supernova.
They flirt and they bicker and she makes him forget that he's alone. Even in their constant state of see you around and until the next time, he finds he's very much complete when she's around. He'd quite forgotten what it was to be whole.
And somewhere along the way and entirely without his permission, parting from her became less of a fond farewell and more like the loss of a limb. He's grown quite accustomed to the way she flips her hair and licks her lips and looks at him like he's sugar dipped in chocolate, wrapped in something sweet, and she wants to swallow him whole. It's not the same when she's not around, telling him how to drive his TARDIS or holding his hand when it's time to run. Something's missing if she's not sitting next to him when he takes the Ponds to dinner. It's too quiet without her heels clicking across the console floor. He misses kissing her in secret, long after her parents have gone to bed.
He makes a habit out of needing her, and she makes a home deep inside his chest. Whenever darkness finds him, she's there like a blinding light. Whenever old scars open or new ones cut too deep, she's there to make him whole. Whenever he sinks too low, she's always there to pull him out, saving his life more times then he can count.
Everything about them is improbable. It should get in the way, the secrets, the foreknowledge, the I can'ts and not yets and somedays. But, like everything else, she made it look easy. Rivers always been better than him: following through when he falters, silencing his shouts with whispers. Even at her death, she smiles where he flinches. She made it so easy to love her, to dive in head first with nothing but blind hope that you'd be caught. She made it so easy for him to cut out his hearts and throw himself at her mercy. What use has he for muscles and organs and flesh and blood when all they do is beat out her name? They skip when she's near and ache when she's gone. They belong to her as they always have, and she takes them with her wherever she goes.
And she always goes, always says goodbye. Only a phone call away with one foot already out the door.
Oh, but when she stays, the beautiful, rare moments when they can just be still, he's never felt more at peace, more at home. When their hands entwine and side by side they run and dance and laugh, it all feels worthwhile. When he lets out a heavy breath and smiles, it's because looking at her feels like flying and kissing her feels like falling and the beating of their hearts sound like forever.
And when he says, "Hi honey, I'm home," it's because he means it.
Wherever she is, feels like home.