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thedoctorwho wrote in milliways_bar
Here's a face that's been absent of late.

When the Doctor walks into Milliways today, though, there are two notably strange things about it. First is that he comes in through the front door instead of the back door as usual. And second, he seems completely confused and baffled by what he's seeing.

Milliways, John Smith. John Smith, Milliways.

[ooc: This is the Doctor circa "Human Nature", so he will read as completely human to anyone who's looking.]

[tags: Professor River Song]

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The look on her face flickers through a whole range of emotion. Happiness, trepidation, anticipation, realisation, hurt and anger.

Some days, she wishes she'd never heard of time travel.

"I'd say you should. I still know you, even after a hundred years. Has it been longer than that for you this time? Or have we even met yet?"

John involuntarily takes a step back.

"Now, see here. There's no cause for such exaggerations. I believe you simply have me mistaken for someone else. I'm quite certain that I have not met you, madam."

Her brow furrows. "Oh it's simply a case of mistaken identity, is that it?"

Her fists are clenched by her sides and she is trembling.

"I'm afraid so. I'm sorry, but I really don't know who you are."

She closes the distance between them, getting right up in his face. He doesn't seem to be lying, but then he was always a consummate fabricator of half truths and wholly fabricated lies.

When she speaks, her voice is low and fierce. "You really are a bastard, you know that?"

She half turns, as if to leave, and then rounds on him. Her fist is small but it finds the peak of his jaw with unerring accuracy.

To an objective observer, it might appear that she'd done this before. At least once.

John crumples from the unexpected blow, dropping straight to the floor. When he wipes at his mouth, his hand comes away bloody.

"What the hell was the point of that? I say, if you weren't a woman, I would have half a mind to give you a right thrashing! As it stands, I'm not entirely certain I shouldn't just summon a constable right here and now!"

River shakes her hand, cursing softly in some ancient language before cradling it against her chest. There were very few people in the universe who could make her mad enough to lose her temper so completely, and he was always top of that list.

"Let's just say that at some point in the future? You earned that."

"And when you do finally know who I am, and you remember what you did, you'll realise you got off easy."

"The future?! Madam, I do believe you are quite out of your mind! Who do you think I am? I am just a history teacher!"

"A what? A history teacher? Oh that's rich."

River's laugh is loud and full.

"And to think, you will scoff at me for being a professor of archaeology!"

"Well, there at least you're correct. Whoever heard of a woman as a professor!"

John finally gets back on his feet and dusts himself off. He's convinced the woman has taken complete leave of her senses, so he calms down and tries something else.

"Look, I have no quarrel with you suffragettes. I think it's only a matter of time before women are given rights in accordance with their standing. But to claim yourself a professor is doing your cause no good at all."

She clenches her fist and winces in pain, watching as he rises. It's him. It really is him. A hundred years and not one thing has changed about him, save for this ludicrous little charade he's clinging to.

"You, sir, are damned lucky I'm shite with a left hook. I'll have you know, in the 52nd century, women can hold doctorates if they so choose, and men can bear children, if they so choose."

"And really, Doctor, I grow weary of this game. Have you hit your head or something?"

"Oh, I think it's you who've hit your head. The 52nd century?! What an insane notion. Believe me, though, if this is the way you make your arguments, it will certainly be the 52nd century before anyone will take you seriously!"

He wipes at his mouth again.

"And I am not a doctor of any sort! My name is John Smith, and I am a history professor at Farringham School for Boys. As I have told you, I am not who you think I am!"

She looks again. Maybe he isn't lying. Her left hand holds her mangled fingers. They're starting to throb.

"John Smith. Professor. School For Boys."

She watches the trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth.

"That can't be."

He frowns, his anger dissipating along with hers.

"I assure you it is. Come on. Let's get you some ice for your hand."

She backs up from him now, looking for all the world as if he was the one who had struck her.

"No, don't. I'm fine."

Her eyes search his face. Nothing. No recognition at all.

"I'm fine."

"No, really, I insist, madam. It was, after all, my face that caused the injury."

It was a feeble attempt at a joke, but even anger would have been preferable to the sadness in the woman's face now.

She can't help but laugh, even if it is feeble and fleeting. "Damn it all, I said I'm fine. You -- never listened to me. You're still not listening."

It's a lie, of course. He listened, he always listened. Just in the end, he had other priorities.

As he draws close, looking at her hand, her voice comes out in a whisper. "What's happened to you, @? Why don't you remember who you are?"

[ooc: @ refers to his name, something only the two of them would know.]

The name stings his ears. It's something he feels he should recognize, but the moment passes too quickly.

"I'm who I've always been," he re-asserts softly. "I'm just a teacher."

His dreams say otherwise, but who listens to dreams?

"I almost wish I were this man you think I am. It's clear you care for him very much."

Her voice is still the barest whisper. "I did. I do. That's what I wanted to tell you. I -- it's complicated. Suffice it to say, I'm with someone else. I belong to him now."

Her resolve holds somehow. Later she'll have a little meltdown, she knows, but after a hundred years of wondering how this conversation would go, it's actually a lot easier than she imagined it would be.

"But you don't know me, don't know yourself, so I'm not sure it even matters."

Edited at 2009-05-10 07:12 pm (UTC)

She's hurting, that much is clear. And John doesn't have the heart to reiterate that he's not this doctor she thinks he is.

He takes her hand -- the uninjured one -- gently in both of his. "I'm sure he'd understand."

Another weak laugh and she's scrubbing at her eyes with the back of her damaged hand. She grips his hand fiercely.

"He'd be infuriatingly gracious about it, I'm sure. Just like you are now."

And then, in a heartbeat, it's too much for her to bear, looking at him, feeling his hand in hers. In the past, her first instinct would have been to stay, to help him find out just what precisely had gone sideways this time. But he's the Doctor. No doubt whoever his current companion is will come trundling along behind to clean up this mess. Either that or he'll unravel it himself. He has a gift for getting himself into and out of these tight spots.

The last thing he needs is her help. She bites her lip, taking her hand back.

"I'm sorry, so so sorry. About the chin. About everything. So sorry. Professor Smith. Please forgive me."

"Yes, yes, of course," he says, waving a hand nonchalantly. "Think nothing of it." Whoever this doctor fellow is, he's certainly got a lot to answer for.

She gives him one last, long look, slowly stepping back.

They promised they would never say goodbye.

"Until next time, pretty boy. Keep yourself safe."

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