Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
A/N: This version of Jenny is a little bit lost.
River stopped; bent forward and clutched her knees, breathing heavily. She'd shaken off her pursuers, finally; surprisingly tenacious lot, they'd been. She kept herself from sprawling on the ground by pulling at some shreds of dignity (she really didn't want to pass out in another alley), and straightened, ignoring a jab of pain in her side. That had been a good run.
The comfortable, far-away-enough sounds of the night were overshadowed by a noise much too close. Clapping. Quite enthusiastic clapping. River spun around, had her gun loaded and aimed in one fluent motion. "This better not be some sort of trap..."
A young woman, very blonde and very smiling, sat on a rubbish bin near the entrance/exit to the alleyway, effectively blocking it. "That was amazing," she said, apparently unfazed by the weapon. "You're very good at running."
"Who are you?"
"I'm not one of those soldiers," said the woman, and dangled her legs. She wore knickerbockers, paired with the most garish blue-on-red swirl-patterned tights. "You confused them. It was funny."
"Funny? Have you been watching me?"
"Yes." The woman stared at her, her eyes not straying to the gun even once. She smiled. Stared some more.
"Right…" River was annoyingly aware that she was covered in sweat; that her hair had fallen out of its restraints and was plastered across her forehead and neck and halfway down her arms; and that no matter how well she could keep the breathlessness out of her voice, her chest was still heaving. "Do you actually wantsomething?"
"You don't have to hurry. They're a long way from here."
Even if that were true, River couldn't waste time chatting in alleys. "I'm off. Take care." She smiled tightly and turned her back on the woman. There was something decidedly uncomfortable about her. Not dangerous-uncomfortable, just… a-bit-odd-uncomfortable. She kept her gun primed anyway.
She walked briskly to get rid of some annoying twinges in her calf muscles. She needed to work out some more before her next run. The alleyway was long and straight, and when she had taken exactly two hundred steps, she glanced over her shoulder – the woman followed her leisurely, at a distance of about fifty steps, carrying a large bag. River frowned, uneasy.
Fifty steps, a corner, and another fifty steps later there was a fence in the way. Who put a twenty feet high wrought-iron fence in the middle of an alley? And locked its gate? Only in the 22nd century… River quickly decided it would be faster to climb the fence than pick the lock – and that she didn't want to while this woman followed her.
She turned her back on the fence, and waited for her admirer to catch up.
The tights and the knickerbockers weren't enough, River realised when the woman was fifteen feet or so away – what had looked like a perfectly normal white shirt when she had been sitting down, was, when she stood, obviously about ten sizes too big for her, and coupled with some sort of martial arts belt.
"Can't get through?" the woman asked, loudly, and with a touch of disappointment.
"Why are you following me?"
"I thought you might run again." That, also, sounded like a disappointed statement rather than a threat.
"Not right now."
"Let me open the gate!" the woman exclaimed, with sudden enthusiasm – and before River could answer, she had reached into her bag and pulled out a very large gun.
River surreptitiously placed a finger on the trigger of her own weapon, just in case (it had somehow locked itself irrevocably in the stun mode during her last trip in the TARDIS, and was thus useless at opening doors.) "It's really overkill to disintegrate half the alley."
The woman gave a small smile, aimed the very large gun at the lock, pressed the trigger – and the mechanism gave a small click and the gate swung open. "It's not a weapon anymore. I discovered I'm good with technology." She stepped through the gateway. "What's your name?"
"That's a pretty name. I like it." She turned and smiled dazzlingly.
River followed her through. "You?"
"Jenny. Jenny Echo." There was a flash of something like pain in her eyes – but it faded almost instantly, and the smile returned.
"You're not from this time. At least, your weapon's not."
"I don't suppose I am. You're not either."
"Obviously. How did you get here?"
"Asked a woman with a time-manipulator on her wrist if I could come."
"You hitched a ride through the vortex? That's incredibly dangerous!" River couldn't quite keep the impressed note out of her voice.
"I can take care of myself. I'm exploring the Universe." She sniffed, stuffed the not-weapon back into the bag and slung that over her shoulder. "Last week I wrestled a swamp monster. It was brilliant."
"You've got a manipulator in your left pocket. Let me come."
River narrowed her eyes. "I don't take passengers, sorry."
Jenny pouted, a little. Looked suddenly a bit forlorn and a bit small and a lot out of place. "I would. I would take as many people with me as I could."
"You can't possibly have liked travelling through the vortex?"
Jenny frowned; thin wrinkles appeared between her brows. At the same time colour rose in her cheeks. "It was wonderful!" She pressed both hands to her chest. "The most wonderful thing I've ever done. And now I've seen this place! I want another!"
River suppressed a sigh. "There's something I have to do before I can even think about leaving. You might be able to help me. Depending on the outcome, we could discuss you coming along when I leave… if I leave."
Jenny nodded, much too bright-eyed. She didn't even ask what they were going to do.