"Doctor, put it down!"

"But River," the Doctor said, examining the object minutely, "have you ever seen such intricate..."

"Doctor," she said in an iron-hard voice, "Put it down, slowly."

"Oh, very well, if it will make you feel better." He snapped it closed and tossed it on the Tardis chair. River jumped as it bounced.

"Really, I don't know what you're so jumpy about, it's just a watch."

River gave him a dirty look and stalked over and prodded it with her gun. It was a gold pocket watch enameled with a black and white yin/yang symbol. She poked it again with the barrel of her gun. It giggled.

She jumped back, she had a two handed grip on the barrel of her gun, the Doctor's eyebrows climbed with avid curiosity.

"Come out of there, right now!" River barked. The Doctor looked at her sideways, a bit disturbed by how unsettled she sounded.

The watch gurgled and flowed and dripped down onto the glass Tardis floor. It grew, building up a black and white mass.

"Hey, hold it, doll! Easy with the hardware!" a three foot tall penguin raised his flippers in the air.

"Frobisher!" the Doctor said excitedly, a huge grin on his face.

"Hi, Doc. Mind calling off your bodyguard?" the penguin replied in his Brooklyn accent, flippers still raised.

"You two-timing little slug! I told you I never wanted to see you again!" River said, poking her gun aggressively in the penguin's round white belly. He sucked it in. "Whoa, doll, take it easy! It's not my fault he's a pickpocket. I was trying to avoid you!"

The Doctor looked back and forth from an enraged River, her hair bristling with aggression, and the insolent, but faintly trembling penguin.

"I take it you two know each other?" he asked.

Frobisher somehow grimaced with a beak. "Our first date didn't go so well..."

To read more stories by this author, click on "betawho" at the top of the page.