River relaxed back into the conformable chair. Soft music wafted from the speakers, a tiny fountain tinkled in the corner. The chair soothed her muscles with subtle vibrations as the attendant finished painting her nails.

Suddenly the door slammed open and the Doctor rushed in. He whirled and soniced the door locked, leaning back against it, looking harried.

"Hello, Sweetie," River said calmly, taking a drink of her daiquiri. She set it slowly back down. "I wasn't expecting to see you here."

"No," he said, panting. "Surprise!" he waved his hands vaguely in the air as sounds of crashing and screams came from outside. "No time right now, need your help," he gulped out.

"I'm having a manicure, Sweetie," River pointed out patiently.

"Yes, sorry. Slytheen," he pointed behind him. There was the sound of a crash and a vehicle alarm went off. He abruptly stopped and gave her skinny manicurist a suspicious once over.

River sighed and shook her hand, drying her nails. "You'd better go out the back," she instructed the young panicky woman as more sounds of destruction came from the front of the salon. The girl fled.

River stood up and blew on her nails. Fortunately it was her left hand, her gun hand was still clean. She strapped on her holster that was draped across the table by the chair, buckling the buckle, careful to keep her freshly painted nails clear.

"Am I to assume this hullabaloo is your fault, Sweetie?" she asked as she fluffed her hair back and settled her vest.

"What? No!" He glared at her. "It was your spa day! I was just coming to surprise you. I didn't... I just..." The door bounced behind him as something karoomed off of it. "Nevermind. I need you to distract them until I can find a fusebox."

"Certainly, Sweetie." She checked the charge in her gun and walked up and laid a hand on the trembling door. She gave him a quick smooch. "On three?" she said sweetly.

He nodded. "Three!"

They ripped the door open, both burst outside. They looked at the deserted corridor, then ran in opposite directions, the Doctor ran deeper into the complex, while River ran toward the sounds of crashing cars, alarms and chaos.

She emerged into the parking lot to find mayhem. People were running and screaming, cars were being thrown and a general lack of decorum was being observed.

They were adolescent Slytheen.

There was nothing like a group of tall, gangly, hormonally irritated, gray-green monsters, to totally ruin a day out.

Sighing and shaking her head she raised her gun, flicked a control with an unpainted nail and melted the glass out of the mini commuter cab being raised over one rabble-rouser's head.

"Drop it!"

With a squeal at burning glass droplets it did.

River kicked aside the crumpled skinsuit that lay on the pavement, fortunately, this one looked like the more humane plastic type used by tourists.

The rest of the Slytheen had turned at their classmate's yell. They were converging on her.

"Come along, children. Time to play!" she whirled and ran back into the complex as they roared and thundered after her.

She led them a merry chase past potted plants and pastel lounges. She tricked two into a sauna, one fell into the therapeutic mud bath (too bad, she'd had plans for that), and three more stopped to raid the pastry bar on the way through the cafeteria.

One, however was apparently on the track team. He reached forward and actually snagged her hair in his long claws.

She felt the tug and pull and sting of hair ripping loose. Irritated. She stopped, pivoted, grabbed the offending arm, whipped it up behind him and flipped all three hundred greasy pounds of him on his back.

She stared down into his rather dusky gray, stunned face. "Really! You fight like a girl." She huffed in disgust. She shook her head, turned, shot a potted philodendron into so much confetti, bits rained down on the three frosting-smeared Slytheen in the cafeteria.

She waggled her gun at them. "This way boys and girls!"

They roared and ran after her. She sprinted away, light on her feet, and wondered, "Really, what do they teach kids these days?"

"Ready River!" the Doctor's voice echoed faintly through the now deserted spa corridors. River altered her course toward it, ignoring the huffing and puffing of the Slytheen chasing her.

She led them through the twists and turns, picking up one muddy teen-Slytheen who had apparently managed to pull himself out of the mudbath.

There was some rather vindictive sounding gabbling going on behind her, but she didn't bother to translate it. She saw a doorway up ahead, with a silver chain-link belt draped below the lintel. She grinned, she'd meant to get one of those before she left. She had the perfect dress for it.

She ran forward, ducked under the hanging belt and sprinted past the Doctor who stood ready at the switch.

The tall muddy Slytheen ran right into the noose, pulling it off the doorway so it dropped neatly around his neck like a lasso, right against its compression field manipulator.

The Doctor pulled the switch. Electricity arched down the extension chord he'd snabbled from somewhere and arched all around the silver belt at the end.

All four Slytheen lit up with blue sparks as the charge was transmitted throughout the network. They jerked and shook and then fell in an unconscious heap as the Doctor turned off the juice.

"I'd hoped they hadn't fixed that yet," he said triumphantly, grinning at River. She tilted an eyebrow at him and holstered her gun.

"So now what are we going to do with them?" she asked. "I don't fancy spending all day hauling Slytheen into the Tardis."

"The best thing about these collars," he said, "Is they all come with built in transponders for teleportation purposes." He whipped out the sonic screwdriver. "I'll just reverse the last setting."

With a buzz, all the Slytheen disappeared.

"And how exactly does that solve the problem?" River asked, staring at the splatters of mud the first Slytheen had left sprayed all over the walls and floor. "They'll just wake up and come back."

"Oh, I don't think so," he said with an insufferably smug air, pocketing his sonic screwdriver and bouncing on his toes. "I'll just drop a call to the Raxacoricofallapatorian School systems and let them know where they can find a stolen ship full of joyriding truants.

"They're very strict about that sort of thing you know."

River looked at his serious face and patted his cheek. Both of them had too much experience with truant officers to be sanctimonious.

"Well, you have rather ruined my spa day," she remarked. She looked down at her gun hand, examining the unpainted nails. "And I was going to get a pedicure too."

He grimaced and gave her a shamed puppy-dog look. "I could paint them for you," he offered.

River looked up and her face melted into a truly devilish smile.

"Only if I get to paint yours."

For more stories by this author click on "betawho" at the top of the page.

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