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Title: The Trouble With Lipstick
Author: Zeborah
Fandom: Doctor Who
Spoilers: New Who season 5 (but only minor points)
Summary: On a mission, River Song starts questioning her taste in makeup.


The trouble with hallucinogenic lipstick was that a lot more of it got on your lips than on the person you kissed. River had wiped it off as soon as she could, and she was fairly well acclimatised to it by now anyway, but the giddiness lingered as she sprinted through the ancient Erinian cave complex.

It was the kind of giddiness that made her take risks. Risks that seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, like drawing stick figures on a wall or throwing herself out an airlock. Risks that had always paid off brilliantly.

So far.

The edges of her vision were an iridescent kaleidoscope, and she was having trouble remembering the sequence of turns to get to the Erinian treasury. And now the Doctor was running along beside her.

"You're going the wrong way," he said.

"How do you know what way I'm going?" she retorted, proud of managing it in a single breath.

"Well, obviously I'm a hallucination so I know everything you're thinking."

She looked at him despite herself and silently cursed his knowing smirk. "Then why should I listen to you?"

"Because you're headed straight to the Erinian treasury. I told you to stop using that hallucinogenic lipstick."

"That's where I want to go," she pointed out. "And no, you didn't."

"Well, I should have. Because you really--" For a moment she flattered herself that he was pausing for breath, but he spent even more time running than she did and it was only for emphasis after all: "Really, really don't want to go there. Unless you particularly want to find yourself splattered across ten point five square kilometres of cave wall and then crushed under twenty-three point four kilometres of fossilised dragons. You know it's addictive."

"It's not addictive," she said, quite patiently under the circumstances. "The adrenaline is addictive. And you're in no position to lecture me about that. What in sanity's name are you doing here?"

"I'm saving you from a messy death," he said smugly -- "while Amy and Rory blow up the Erinian treasury."

"What?" She stopped and rounded on him, gasping for breath. "I need the accounts ledger!"

"Too late, it's already hatched. Technically they're imploding it."

"What are you talking about?" she demanded.

"Your pupils are dilated."

"We're in the Endless Caves of the Sixth Moon of Erinia. It's dark, and you're not making any sense."

"We're in the Endless Caves of the Sixth Moon of Erinia, and the lights are thriving," he said with relish. "So either you're high..." He leaned forward to whisper, "or I'm hot."

Or both. His pupils were dilated too, and full of iridescent galaxies turning and turning and endlessly turning, and at the edge of her vision was that distracting aura and his oh-so-infuriating smirk.

She was a hairsbreadth from his lips when he jerked aside and put a hand up between them. "Do you hear that?" he asked, his eyes fixed somewhere over her shoulder.

She couldn't even hear the airpipes' soft whistle for the pounding of blood in her ears. "Hear what?"

He pirouetted and pointed back the way she'd come. "Go that way, take the fifth left, next two rights, then up twenty-three point four kilometres. Now run!"

"What about you?"

But he was already sprinting towards the imminently imploding Erinian treasury.

"Ngggh!" she shouted after him, and ran for the surface.

*

"Okay," she gasped as she hauled herself into their getaway ship, "we're going for plan B."

"The Triumvirate's not going to like it."

"So we'd better hurry." She slammed the hatch shut and swung into the seat beside her spiny copilot as he completed liftoff procedures.

"What happened?"

"Act of God," she gritted in disgust, grabbing the stabilisers. "I don't want to talk about it."

They were too busy to talk anyway: this thing was almost as finicky to fly as the TARDIS. It was quarter of an hour later before she remembered the moon below. She brought it up on the nearest screen. The surface was as smooth as the day the lava had flowed, and seismographic readings were nil.

River rested her head briefly on the edge of the console, then stood up.

"What are you doing?"

"Just a minute," she said, tapping buttons on the eject chute.

"We're going to warp in twenty seconds!"

She made it back to her seat in time, strapping herself in as the Sixth Moon of Erinia and her hallucinogenic lipstick fell behind them at seven thousand times the speed of light.

"By the Blessed Ansible--" her copilot muttered in bewilderment.

"What?"

"Just as we entered warp -- I thought I saw the moon... implode." His spines rippled in his version of a shrug. "Trick of the light."

The straps held her too tight to bang her head on the console again. She settled for a quiet and unsatisfying thump against the padded headrest instead. It had been the Doctor after all. Or else a manifestation of her subconscious without which she would now be buried under twenty-three point four kilometres of fossilised dragons.

The trouble with hallucinogenic lipstick was it was only manufactured by one particular enclave of the Order of Lapidary Quietude, they had a strict embargo against trading with outsiders, and this time their sensors would be set to alert several thousand cybersparrows the moment her DNA showed up in their forest.

River Song smiled slowly: this was going to be fun.

END

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