Author's Note: This is a flashback that didn't make the cut for chapter 12 of And the Rest is Rust and Stardust. But that beast of a story isn't a requirement for this. Anyway, enjoy.
She's a menace. No, she's a minx. She's a menacing minxy distraction and he can't be expected to handle her when she's this young. He can hardly even look at her.
It's unfair and it's reckless and she can't keep doing this. She can't go on pretending that her actions don't have consequences, that what she's doing isn't affecting him. And above all else, for the sake of his sanity and the fate of the universe and everything in it, she simply cannot keep dressing this way.
"River," the way he says her name sounds more like begging than scolding. "You can't wear a nighty on a date." He does his best to look everywhere but her, but in her tiny dorm there isn't much to hold his attention. Her bed takes up the majority of the room, but he really shouldn't be looking at that. Not with River so young and definitely not when she's in an ensemble that takes the phrase 'little black dress' to a whole new level.
"It's not a nighty; and yes, I can." River says dismissively, debating on which type of shoe she wants to wear. Her options range from 'too high to be sensible' and 'could easily kill a man'. If he's honest, either one could quite easily put the nail in his coffin because in addition to all those glorious curves on display, barely hidden beneath a thin layer of silk, her lips are the color of sin and her hair looks as if it's been hit by some kind of sex hurricane.
He's too young to handle this.
He doesn't know where to look, but he can't bring himself to leave. So he's left to watch helplessly as River readies herself for a date he won't be going on. Sure, it's his own fault for showing up on the wrong night, but still, he can't imagine his future self handling this any better than he is right now.
He's seriously considering implementing a TARDIS dress code in which River is only allowed to wear things that are oversized and shapeless. It would certainly save him and his future self the struggle of focusing on something other than a young, scantily clad River Song.
"Don't you have anything less..." He pauses, rethinking his choice of words. "I mean more. Definitely more. I'm sure wherever I'm taking you won't require clothing that tight."
"What makes you think my date tonight is with you?" River says with a smirk, and the Doctor pales a little, suddenly finding the courage to look at her. He honestly hadn't considered that she'd be dressed like this for someone other than him. At his silence, River looks back at him, her smirk slipping. "You knew we weren't exclusive, didn't you?" He wants to answer, really, he does, but words catch in his throat and it makes River's smirk vanish completely. "Oh god, you didn't."
"No, no, of course I knew." He corrects a bit too quickly, fighting the urge to fidget as he runs a hand through his hair. "We never... I just assumed... You know, with you wanting to marry me and all."
River rolls her eyes, going back to her shoes. "You're not still on about that are you? I was just a girl then."
The way she says it leaves no room for argument. She's definitely a woman now, one that looks like trouble. As she slips on a pair of heels, surveying herself in the mirror, he can't help the way his eyes roam over her. How can they not when the curve of her hips spell seduction and the gleam in her eyes says mischief and the smile on her lips is a promise of a night you'll never forget.
The Doctor shakes himself out of it, looking away. He has to remind himself to feel guilty about those thoughts when she's this young. What with spoilers and Rory having a sword and- that's it, "Rory!" He shouts, and River furrows her brow.
"What about him?"
"Shall we see what he thinks? I'll just go and fetch him." The Doctor gestures behind him to the TARDIS and River narrows her eyes at the subtle threat, summing him up.
"Do it." She challenges, stalking toward him. "I dare you."
"I will." He responds, voice wavering only slightly.
"Go on." As River gets progressively closer, the Doctor finds himself backing slowly away until he's flattened against the wall. River continues to invade his space, that semi wild look in her eyes that he loves, and right now, kind of fears. "I'm sure he'd love to hear all about that time on Kepler 22-B when you, being ever the gentlemen, helped me out of those ruined shorts using only your-"
"Alright, alright. Fine! You win." The Doctor huffs and River grins like the cat who ate the canary before she spins back around and leaves him to his sulking. She found out way too young that she can manipulate him. It's lucky for him she becomes less ruthless in her endeavors when she's older. Though, a part of him wonders if it's just maturity or if there's some day lurking in both their futures, some lesson that makes her curb the habit and them both more cautious.
"What is it you don't like about my outfit, anyway?" She asks, looking in the mirror as she straightens the dress, smoothing her hands down the front. From anyone else's lips it would sound like insecurity, but on her it just sounds like banter.
"Nothing." He huffs, finally giving in, looking at her with lingering eyes and a clumsy tongue. "You look... The dress is... Well your hair is certainly... And your shoes..."
River shoots him a knowing smile, "Careful sweetie, you'll sprain something."
To his credit, he flushes only slightly as River goes about getting together the rest of her things. He debates with himself on how desperate he would look if he just waited in her dorm room until she came back. Then again, he's not sure he could take it if she didn't come back alone, or worse, didn't come back at all. But this is all part of her learning who she is, so until then, he'll have to hold his tongue, endure, and be here when she's ready.
River's always done things on her own terms, little Melody escaping the Silence all on her own, Mels breaking every rule known to man just for fun. She's always been defiant. She was a paradox from day one, wanting to marry and murder him all in the same day, fantasizing about playing house with the man she was supposed to kill. She's always been his bad girl, and he can't help wondering what other fantasies lurk just beneath the surface of her psyche.
"Did Mels," He clears his throat. "Er, you, think about me a lot?"
River must know what he's thinking because she turns those devil eyes on him. "You have no idea." She purrs, and the room feels even smaller than it had a moment ago. He swallows hard. Definitely a few fantasies then. Not that he was any better in his youth, lusting after a woman who, for all he knew, had probably killed him in a potential future.
In the here and now, River swings her bag over her shoulder, preparing to leave, and he feels his hearts clench. "It's not too late to get changed." The Doctor offers as a last ditch effort to sway her into running off with him, to steal just a little more time. "We could go to that museum planet in the Red Nebula."
She looks at him and sighs, almost pityingly. "Sorry honey, I have plans. You should have called first."
The Doctor opens his mouth to speak, not quite knowing what to say. Luckily for him, the phone in River's dorm starts to ring. She turns her back to answer it, and he watches her through his fringe, trying his best not to look like a kicked puppy. When she picks up the phone, there's a half a second delay before she spins around, shooting him a surprised look. He wonders why until he hears a distinctly familiar voice murmuring through the phone line. It's him, future him, calling and telling her heaven knows what. But whatever it is, it's brought a smirk to her lips as she watches him from across the room. The mischievous look in her eyes makes him itch and fidget under the scrutiny. River says nothing, just hums and chuckles at the receiver; and whatever his future self says to her must be clever because when she puts down the phone, she turns on him with a fond, knowing smirk.
"Alright," she concedes, and the Doctor instantly brightens. "But on one condition."
The ominous specification makes him wary, but deep down he knows he's already given in, even as he asks, "Which is?"
"I'm driving." She says in a firm voice that doesn't bear arguing with.
"Done." The Doctor relaxes again, an unabashed smile splitting his cheeks.
"Good." River smirks as she sashays her way toward the TARDIS. It doesn't look like she has any intent of changing, but he doesn't dare mention it. She's agreed to come with him, that's what's important. The Doctor is quick to fumble his way to the door, opening it for her and ushering her inside before she can change her mind.
"Not that it matters," He asks, and River stalls in the doorway to look up at him. "But why do you want to fly her?"
River's eyes gleam mischievously, the corner of her lips threatening a coy smirk. "Because, sweetie, I want to be back in time for my date.