Summary: "All I'm saying is: the woman is a trained assassin. She is armed, clearly dangerous, and probably the only person in any universe that knows where you sleep - if you even sleep! Don't you think you should've mentioned you had a wife, for safety's sake alone?"
It's called marriage
Almost as if he had conjured her from his thoughts (it was hardly his fault that weapons fire reminded him of his wife, was it?), River was there. In a blaze of plasma bursts and fire and with the most impossibly distracting slit in her dress. "River?"
River laughed, sliding down next to them (and more than a little on top of the Doctor) for a moment to dig something that looked suspiciously like a grenade out of her much-too-small evening bag. "Hello, sweetie. People shooting at you before the appetizers, again?" She turned confidingly to Clara, eyes twinkling as she sighed theatrically, "I wish I could say it was the first time."
"I - that's not -" The Doctor sputtered, torn between the wall console that was 90% apart and only 25% reassembled to his left, and River suddenly pressed very tightly against him on his other side.
River laughed, standing swiftly and cheekily grabbing the Doctor's arse as she did so, relishing his surprised squeak followed immediately by his River, I'm working, glare. "Now. Off you two pop to the TARDIS. I'll tidy up before desert."
The two stared at each other for a tense moment, and then the Doctor was sonicing one last wire, slamming the control panel back together, grabbing Clara's hand, and tugging her up with him in the opposite direction from the weapons fire.
Clara caught a glimpse over her shoulder of the other woman darting around the corner and into the haze of smoke and plasma bursts. She gasped and tried to tug the Doctor the other way. "Doctor! We can't just leave her there - what happened to we don't just walk away!" Regardless of the fact that she had no idea who this woman was - clearly the Doctor did - and they did not just leave people behind.
But the Doctor did not slow his gait. He drug a reluctant Clara towards the TARDIS at a rapid clip. "Of course we can." He only answered the first part of her question. When she only dug her heels in further, he added, as though it explained everything, "There were only ten of them."
Clara blinked. "And that's not a problem for her, is it? Ten trained assassins, armed to the teeth?"
They were back at the TARDIS now. The Doctor shoved them inside, slammed the doors shut, and moseyed towards the console - clearly in no hurry to take off. He was fiddling with his sonic again, but the look on his face was something that Clara had never seen before. Almost a self-satisfied smirk. He gave the sonic one last adjustment, flipped something on the console, and turned it on. There was an eerie silence from outside the TARDIS doors. Somehow more pronounced than before. The Doctor was still fiddling with the sonic, distracted. "River's always armed to the teeth. And - well - uh - I suppose she's a trained assassin as well." Low, under his breath, "My bespoke psychopath."
Clara was just about to ask him what any of that meant, and if he wouldn't mind repeating that last part, when the TARDIS door opened and shut. River was holstering her gun and shaking some sort of debris out of her curls. "Well, the ultrasonic wavelength was certainly efficient, though I daresay that they deserved something a bit less pleasant after all that hassle."
The Doctor clasped his hands together with what was certainly a giggle. "Oh, they weren't that bad."
"They were shooting at you."
"Only a little."
River just shook her head, leaning against the railing: oh, that man. The Doctor was working his way back around the console to her as he flipped the last lever needed to put them in the vortex - just in case their pursuers happened to wake up any time soon.
Clara cleared her throat. The Doctor jumped and spun to look at her, straightening his bow tie. River just offered her a slow smile. "Oi. Still in the room." Clara crossed quickly to the other woman and extended her hand smartly, "I'm Clara Oswald."
River turned positively sinful smile towards Clara, taking her hand in a surprisingly (or perhaps not, given the last five minutes) firm grasp. She was just opening her mouth to reply when the Doctor swooped in, pushing his way between them and gesturing wildly with his arms once Clara had stepped back to a safe distance. "Right. Clara, River. River, Clara."
River ignored him, leaning around him to offer Clara a wink. "River Song. Nice to finally meet you, Clara."
The Doctor fidgeted, moving back to the console and twisting toggles and buttons, clearly antsy and annoyed that they were talking around him. Clara couldn't deny that she was intrigued. She'd not met anyone else who knew the Doctor. And River Song appeared to be a mystery in her own right.
Clara was just opening her mouth to inquire further when she was drenched in water. She sputtered, blinking water out of her eyes and trying to figure out what had just happened.
River looked torn between laughing and glaring. The Doctor leapt away from the console, "It wasn't me!"
Clara glared at the other two occupants of the console room - both of whom were perfectly dry. "Doctor!"
The Doctor twisted his hands nervously, glancing down and mumbling, "I told you not to leave your umbrella lying about."
"What has my umbrella got to do with-" Clara gasped, pointing at the time rotor with a furious finger, "I - she - did your bloody ship just try to drown me?"
"Technically, it's an internal secretory fluid, not harmful, really - I doubt you could've drowned, Clara."
Clara narrowed her eyes. "Did your ship just wee on me?"
The Doctor stammered and blushed, while River clapped a hand over her mouth and tried not to look half as amused as she was. Clara cut off whatever his explanation was going to be. "That's it. I'm going to shower and change. And then somebody is going in time out!"
She turned and slogged off down the hall, furious.
The Doctor rounded on the time rotor as soon as Clara was out of sight. "That was not very nice. What did you go and do that for?"
"She'll come around, sweetie." River pushed herself off the railing with a soothing pat towards the TARDIS, "Maybe she just wanted to give us some alone time."
The Doctor was still distracted, stroking the TARDIS soothingly and checking levers and paddles and lights. "No, no. She just doesn't like Clara, and I don't understand it. They just refuse to get along. You should've seen what happened when - oh!"
River had slipped behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and tugging him away from the console. The Doctor swallowed, spinning them around until River was the one against the console. "Alone time. Right."
He bent down to give his wife a proper hello - meeting her welcoming lips in what quickly became a heated kiss. He pressed her back against the obligingly flat console panel - he still wasn't convinced that the TARDIS and River hadn't been in cahoots with the new desktop because he hadn't actually figured out what that panel was for yet - and tangled his hands in his wife's hair, glorying in her.
River slid back on the console and the Doctor ran one hand down her body, stopping somewhat abruptly when his hand skimmed across her gun belt. He pulled back. "River."
"Yes, sweetie?" River's voice was low and breathless and distracting.
The Doctor toyed with the slit of her dress, which was actually rising higher than her gun belt, slung low across her hips. The fabric was shiny and slinky and clearly not from this planet or century. He leaned back in, stopping with his lips millimeters from hers, "What were ten trained Dynerian assassins doing at a Zraki-i ascension feast? That's not even the right galaxy."
River tugged him closer, hands moving to undo his waistcoat. "You know how the tenacious the Dynerians are, my love." She smirked, pressing her lips to his for a quick peck, "It's a good thing I was around to rescue you."
"Yes, you were awfully well," his hands caught on her hips, digging in as she tugged him flush against her, "prepared."
"Mmm." River offered the noncommittal noise into his neck before tugging him around for another kiss. "I'm always prepared, sweetie."
Her arms twined around his neck and his hands skittered back up her body, coming around to her impressive cleavage. His fingers traced the edges of her evening gown, dipping under the fabric as River leaned back to give him better access.
"River," The Doctor managed between kisses, more certain than ever that River's presence at the feast was far from an accident and equally certain that River had no intention of enlightening him. As curious as he was, even the Doctor knew this wasn't the moment to pursue the issue. "Clara will be back soon." Despite his protest, his hands kept roaming across River's sides and front and back.
"You'll just have to manage to keep my clothes on then."
The Doctor sputtered, discretely moving his hands away from the zipper at the base of her spine. River just laughed and drew him back for another kiss.
"Oh my god. It really is a snog box!" Clara's voice was a startled exclamation, "At least get a room or something. Aren't there an infinite number to choose from?"
Clara's hair was still wet, a towel draped over her shoulders to protect her new dress, and she was gaping at them. River snorted and the Doctor started, both of them pulling back as River slid off the console and they both turned towards Clara, but not really anywhere near far enough back for her sanity. Right. So perhaps it had been an exceptionally short shower, once she realized that giving the TARDIS more opportunity to dump water on her was probably not the best of ideas. But still.
"Oi. Rude. I'm allowed to snog my wife in the privacy of my ship, thank you very much." He resolutely ignored the fact that nothing was all that private with the TARDIS around.
"Wife?" Her eyes darted back and forth between River and the Doctor. She pinched herself. "I'm sorry. Did you just say: your wife?"
The Doctor bristled, looping an entirely unnecessary arm around River and pulling her closer. She let him because he was adorable when he was obtuse. "Of course I did."
"I'm sorry - it's just - you're married? To her?"
"Of course I'm married. Keep up. And why wouldn't I be?" His forehead crunched up. "What do you mean - to her? Of course it's her. River. Who else?"
"But look at her, and look at you!" Clara made a stilted motion gesturing at the Doctor's chin.
She really could not see it; bless the poor, confused thing. This was why the Doctor needed to give them some proper warning. River could almost see the neurons firing and missing from where she stood.
But it was clearly complementary to River and less so to the Doctor. He sputtered at the implication, while River gave into the laughter that had been brewing since she first stepped foot on the TARDIS.
At her laughter, the Doctor's focus returned, fully and completely, to River. "Yeah. Look at her." He agreed, all his outrage gone as he took her in. He quickly became distracted by the intricate patterns inherent in her hair, as he was wont to do.
It was almost a perfect moment, before: "But you snog everybody!"
The Doctor blushed and pulled away, chastened, "I - what? - I do not!"
River was reduced to laughter again. She patted the Doctor consolingly on the arm and stepped towards the controls. "Oh, but you do, sweetie." She recognized his stubborn expression by the set of his jaw, and arched her eyebrow "You've snogged both my parents."
The Doctor squawked and turned red, mumbling about that not exactly being entirely his fault and really, River! River just laughed and turned towards the bewildered companion. "The man simply cannot keep his lips to himself."
"Oi! This from the woman who has snogged every security guard in who knows how many galaxies!"
He was pointing an accusing finger at her. River sighed. He was forever on about the hallucinogenic lipstick. "I never said otherwise, sweetie."
They were on the same side of the console again, drawing closer.
"Right then. I'm just going to leave before my brain explodes with the flirting and sexual tension. Do me a favor and shag or whatever it is you do - I really don't want to know - before I get back."
Clara took the time to properly dry her hair, styling it in an intricate bun. She painted her toes and fingers. Primer, two coats, top-coat. She fixed her makeup. Three times. As curious as she was about this River Song - and did River really find the Doctor snog-worthy, with that chin? She'd seemed intelligent enough, but Clara supposed there was no accounting for taste - Clara had no desire to walk in again on a scene like before. She wondered what the TARDIS would do to her if she tried to Lysol the console and whether or not it was worth it.
She spent more time than she cared to admit trying to wrap her mind around the idea that the Doctor was married. And to a woman like that. She supposed he'd mentioned a granddaughter, which logically implied children, and probably a wife at some point. But he was a thousand years old. She imagined that all that was long in his past. Presumably at some point when he was less - weird. If such a thing were possible. No. Everything that she knew about the Doctor negated the idea of a wife. What was he doing gallivanting across the universe with a wife like that waiting back at home for him? Clara certainly wouldn't have let someone like River Song get away.
When Clara tentatively reentered the console room, River and the Doctor were still a bit too close for comfort, but there were no interlocked body parts. They were staring at the view-screen, and they both looked up when she entered.
The Doctor bounced forward, "Clara! Good. Where to next? I know I promised you a feast, but perhaps one with a little less... shooting..."
He was rambling - glossing over what was clearly the most important issue. Clara cut him off. "No. Wait. I'm sorry. Wife? I just - I still can't see it."
"Why not? You humans and your tiny little minds." The Doctor actually sounded somewhat offended.
Clara was just trying to decide if she should try a more subtle tactic - and whose mind was he calling tiny? - when River cut in, "I think she's just curious as to why anyone would marry you, Doctor," River gave him a soft look to belie her teasing words.
He tweaked his bow tie. "Well, you're not just anyone."
Clara quickly interrupted the impending flirting before they could forget that she was in the room again, "Actually, I'm really more curious as to why you never said anything about being married before." She eyed River, biting her lip, "If I had a wife like that, I'd never shut up about it."
The Doctor sputtered, clearly horrified at the idea of his companion sizing up his wife, "Clara!"
But Clara had worked up to a proper tirade. She tried to put together the admittedly few bits of information she knew, and gestured to River and the weapons still adorning her evening gown. "All I'm saying is: the woman is a trained assassin. She is armed, clearly dangerous, and probably the only person in any universe that knows where you sleep - if you even sleep! Don't you think you should've mentioned you had a wife, for safety's sake alone?"
The Doctor was too busy staring at the woman in question to properly respond. He really had to stop liking all those bits about River. Right now. But, there were so many bits of her that he liked. Especially in that dress.
The Doctor blinked, spun towards Clara and then back to River. "Oh. River doesn't mind."
River arched one perfect eyebrow as if to say: oh, really?
The Doctor was halfway around the console, already distracted from the conversation when he caught River's look. It was less smirk and more wry. Astonishment laced his words, "No. You're not - jealous - River!" The Doctor whipped back around the console, voice softer, "You know I don't - not on purpose - it just-" He spun back towards the other occupant of the TARDIS, pointing a finger. "Maybe you just don't listen. I talk about River all the time."
"Bless," River sighed, shaking away any lingering and completely ridiculously jealous feelings, faced with the flailings and obliviousness and hasty reassurances of her Doctor, right in front of her. And the fact that Clara was clearly more interested in flirting with River than the Doctor. "The man does love the sound of his own voice. Any chance that you were actually talking to yourself, Doctor?"
The Doctor blushed. "I can't be expected to keep track of when people are in the room or not. Sometimes they just - wander off." He perked up a bit, "And what have I said about wandering off? People are always wandering off."
Clara and River both arched brows at him and it was, honestly, quite a bit terrifying to simultaneously have that look pointed at him from two sources. Clara deadpanned, "I don't wander off. You're the one who wanders off."
The Doctor grumbled, "Well it's hardly my fault if you don't pay attention then." But he also looked slightly sheepish - he still didn't quite know what to do with himself when Clara actually stayed where she was told.
"I do pay attention when it matters. I just prefer to tune you out when you're busy spouting off nonsense."
The Doctor sputtered.
River wisely cut into the brewing argument, though she could hardly resist teasing the Doctor given the circumstances. "Doctor, perhaps you should focus on driving the TARDIS before we end up stuck in a wall again."
"Hang on," Clara cut in, "Again? Does that happen often?"
But the Doctor just eyed River suspiciously, turning his attention back to the console. "I'm driving her perfectly fine. Look. I've even got the blue boringers on!" He sniffed and tried to stop River from adjusting the oscillator.
River smacked his hands away. "Yes. And you've also left the dome light on. No wonder it needs changing so often. Really, sweetie."
"Oi. Stop that. No showing off in front of the companion."
"Honey, that century was recently engulfed by a black hole. If you'd just let me navigate around - or would you prefer to be spun into another dimension?"
"Well, when you put it that way. I suppose you'd just rather we skipped the asteroid belt on the far side of Ulamph Seven, as well."
"Only if you'd like to make it to New New Vegas in one piece."
"Ooh, River, is that where we're going?" He crowded her. "Have you been yet?"
River regarded him with a raised eyebrow, half turning to face him. "Have you?"
The Doctor leaned impossibly closer. "Twice."
River's eyes sparkled. "Twice? Ooh. Spoilers!"
Now that she wasn't busy being all shocked and gawping, Clara took the chance to properly watch them. The bickering that, admittedly, was an awful lot like an old married couple. The way River paused to lean into the Doctor's side when they passed each other as they danced around the console. The way his hands seemed to always be reaching out to touch her - bopping her nose, caressing her hand over a lever, boinging her curls.
"Oh." They both turned at Clara's soft exhalation, concerned. River's hand went to her gun while the Doctor's moved towards his screwdriver pocket and their free hands reached for each other. "It's just - I can see it now."
A/N: Written pre-TNOTD, so obviously it's completely not canon-compliant now.