Of all the ways the Doctor expected (. . . hoped) the night would end, a standoff in the console room was not among them.
Jenny's stammered, shocked reaction had transitioned into action with alarming speed while he was still fumbling with his bow tie, fingers making a mess of the hasty attempt to become decent once more. He had his thumbs still caught in the strip of fabric when she stepped over the scattered books, eyes fixed on River. Cautious, wary, and with a simmering undertone of potential violence as she began circling. From somewhere, she'd produced the sonic he'd given her, holding it as she might a weapon, prepared to fight or defend.
River, for her part, stood her ground. Entirely unabashed by the sharp scrutiny, she had a faint quirk to her lips. Lips that were almost startlingly lipstick-free compared to her usual-he was fairly certain he was still wearing more of it than she was. On his collar, no less, and onto his bow tie. It was a lost cause, decency.
"Where are you in your timeline?" He wasn't sure if the question was directed at him or River, considering Jenny wouldn't look away from River. Which also made the pointing back and forth between the two of them an ineffective way to ask, he realized after the fact. River took it upon herself to answer aloud, however.
"Oh, after. Definitely after, dear. For my part, I've been in Stormcage for a few years now." It was a very different take on comparing diaries-in their relationship, their interactions, time was calculated in adventures passed, transcribed to page. Milestones based on positives, on memories they wanted to keep and share and look back on, rather than days scratched on the walls of her prison cell. He felt the frown tug at his lips, gaze drawn back to River as he moved to intercept Jenny. "If you'd be so kind, can you stop pointing the screwdriver at me? We both know that you can't. . ."
Jenny's arm swung left, the sharp whine of the screwdriver cutting through the air as a blinding shower of sparks cascaded toward River from the console, proving just how little there was she couldn't do and making River spin away in recoil. The Doctor's yelp of indignation only intensified as River planted her feet again again, muscles wound tightly as she positioned herself on the ramp between the door and the console, sonic blaster in her grip leveled unwaveringly at Jenny's head.
"Where did you even get that! It wasn't there a minute ago, I checked!"
"Sweetie, next time you decide to pat me down make sure you're not quite so distractible." It was River's turn to circle now as the Doctor flushed from the roots of his hair down to the bow tie, scratching his cheek in an ineffectual attempt to hide his blush. Even putting himself directly between the two of them, they aimed their respective weapons over his shoulder.
If nothing else, it was disconcerting that he was being ignored when it was his death they were squabbling over. He wasn't sure whether he should feel flattered or slighted.
"Not helping, River! Jenny, you've been misinformed. Well, sort of. Anyway, I'm clearly alive." Forestalling her response, the Doctor held up a shushing finger, watching Jenny closely. He was standing bracketed by frankly dangerous women, but River's blaster at his back was making him twitchy-even having come great strides in trusting her, he didn't particularly trust guns. "Not just because she hasn't killed me yet. I lived through Lake Silencio, but it's important the rest of the universe thinks I'm dead."
"Including your own daughter?" It was less of a question than a flat statement, and he winced openly at the accusation. River tutted behind him, and he stretched out a shushing hand towards her as well, standing scissored between them now. That alone was enough to make Jenny tense further, her instinct to put herself between River and the Doctor. As he moved toward Jenny, a hand stretched out to rest on her wrist to gently push the sonic down, he conceded her verbal hit. "I didn't expect the news to reach you. Not yet anyway, I expected to have time to tell you first, without pulling you into the mess."
"Time." Jenny's gaze finally snapped to the Doctor, her tone thick with incredulity. "You didn't have time between dying in the 21st century and where you let me out in the 51st century to drop by? Make a call?" Her screwdriver waivered-gesturing now at the time rotor. "From your timetravelling..." The screwdriver moved again, indicatively, towards another prominent fixture on the console. ". . . phone box."
"She does have a point, sweetie."
"Stillnothelping!" Running the flat of his palm down his face, the Doctor didn't notice the moment Jenny's posture changed-just that he was suddenly and without warning being crushed in a hug that would have done scores of his former companions proud. Before he had time to fully return the embrace it was over, and he was being slapped sharply.
"Ow!" He needed to stop introducing her to companions who hit him when they had perfectly justifiable reasons. Donna. Amy. And Rassilon knew River was just as bad.
"I thought you were dead! And instead I find you floating around in the vortex doing. . . whatever this is you're doing with her. . . " The heavy note of distrust was still there, in her voice not merely the buzz at the edge of his consciousness that was her. Whereas before Jenny hadn't turned her gaze away from River, now she seemed determined not to look at her despite her obvious hyper-awareness of her location, her gun, and her movements.
Of course, he could also sense River's smug, lascivious smirk behind him, but that was less telepathy and more growing familiarity with how her mind worked. He winced before she even opened her mouth to respond. "Technically, that would be our honeymoon. Time travelers, though-so the honeymoon could go on for a long time. Will have gone on quite a while."
". . . and I have to find out through a. . ." He could see the moment what River said actually registered in his daughter's consciousness. Jenny's rant truncated mid-word, jaw shutting with a snap and a muscle twitching in her jaw as she bit back whatever she'd been about to say. "Right, so that's a wedding and a funeral both that I wasn't invited to."
"A word, please." Combat boots unnaturally loud on the glass, Jenny strode past River, stopping just short of clamping a hand around her upper arm and dragging her to the other side of the console. He didn't have to ask if he was invited: the answer was very obvious, and River forestalled his defense of her with an almost imperceptible shake of her head, curls bouncing. With a faint harumph at the rather absurd role reversal of having his daughter likely threatening bodily harm in his defense, the Doctor set about picking up the scattered books on the floor.
And for about thirty seconds he still entertained hopes of eavesdropping, even managing to pick up tones, until his attention was caught by the book in his hands. Settling onto the jump seat, books in his lap, he had time enough to crack one open to a random page and become quite engrossed in reading before River's hand planted down in the middle of the page, pressing it back down into his lap, tongue clicking against her teeth as she tsked at him. "I'd just gotten to a good part! Apparently, there's a revolt on the lunar colony I'm going to have been involved in, though they have the timelines all mucked up. . ."
"You know better than that. Spoilers." Plucking the book out of his hands, River glanced at the title, lips pursing in what he considered a very distracting way as she considered it. "I was looking for this one. Wherever did you find it?" Apparently, Jenny and River were now on speaking terms: he really wished now that he'd listened a bit harder to the conversation to find out how that happened.
"The Library. 51st Century. Just before. . ."
River blinked in shock as the Doctor snatched the book back out of her hand, and chucked it into the bin. And then all of the other books. And then closed the bin with a clang. And then soniced it on three different settings. And then leaned against it and pretended to look as if it was an absolutely normal occurrence.
"Did you just irradiate that bin?"
Lips twisting in displeasure, knowing that the oddity had already registered enough that the clever mind beneath the corkscrew curls was making note, planning a journal entry that would eventually lead her right where he didn't want her to go, he gave her the word she knew was coming, and managed to strip it of almost all of the underlying emotions, striving to make his cover as light as she'd kept hers since the day she'd met him.
Since the day she'd died at the Library.