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Ripples Through Time

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Every single choice in the universe, in all the universes, affects the timelines. What is, what could be, what must be. Some choices are fixed, the fate of the universe depends on them and every instance before them leads to one person making one choice, the only choice. Others are constantly in flux, like little lightbulbs flickering on and off throughout of all time. Most choices don’t affect a single moment of a single day, the universe simply evolves to accommodate the choice, but some choices break off into parallel universes and history is changed in a blink of an eye. 

Example number one. A small choice of no consequence.

On the morning of her daughter’s wedding, Sylvia Noble wasn’t sure whether to wear her pearl earrings or her mother’s glistening emerald earrings. The heirloom had been passed down for a couple of generations now and Sylvia was cautious of wearing them. Only the grandest of occasions would entice the beautiful studs from Sylvia’s jewellery box. She chose the pearls. Her reasoning would be that she would be able to give Donna the emeralds at the reception as an extra wedding gift. Her daughter would finally be married and such an occasion deserved to be rewarded. If Sylvia Noble had believed her daughter’s wedding was important enough to wear her emerald earrings then absolutely nothing of consequence would have changed. Her husband would have smiled softly at her and kissed her hand like she was Helen of Troy herself. He knew the importance of those earrings in the Mott family. Sylvia would have blushed, and perhaps she would have been kinder to her daughter, but at the end of the day Donna Noble would still have been standing in the street opposite a strange skinny man in a suit and an odd blue police box. 

Which brings us onto example number two. A choice that can change the course of time itself. 

We know the outcome of choice number one. The DoctorDonna. The mind wipe. The Time Lord Victorious. 

“But we had the best of times. The best. Goodbye” 

The sound of two hearts breaking.

“No! No! Please! NO!”

Begging for death over life.

“I don’t want to go!”

The end of an era, of a man who still had more to give. 

A timeline born out of a single word, a single choice. 

That word?


Chapter Text


The word was on the tip of her tongue. This crazy mad martian was offering her all of time and space and all she wanted to do was say no. He was bloody terrifying. Brilliant, yes. Dazzling? Maybe just a tad. But terrifying. That look in his eyes whilst they were watching the Racnoss drown. She’d seen that look before in sharks at the aquarium. He was a hunter, a bringer of death, a ruthless soldier. 

How could she truly trust a man like that?

A man so willing to destroy an entire species for the sake of the Earth. 

And whilst she was on that thought, when did thinking about other alien species become so  second nature to her? Jesus Christ she needed a stiff drink, vodka preferably or maybe there was some champagne left from the reception. The reception they had without her. Thanks Mum. She scowled at the memory. 

“Donna?” The Doctor raised his eyebrow at her and rolled forward onto the balls of his feet. Her eyes flashed up to meet his as she was pulled out of her memories. He’d asked her to come with her and she still hadn’t said no. She blinked the snow out of her eyes and sighed. Why couldn’t she say it? 

“Come with you?” She stalled. 

She thought of her life at home, with her mum and dad and Gramps. Mum with her constant nagging about men and children and money, Nerys who had danced with Donna’s fiancée at her reception when she hadn’t turned up. She huffed. Some best friend that was. The endless cycle of gossip and new offices and new bosses and paperwork and filing and…


He was sick in hospital with the flu. She couldn’t just leave him behind. Could she? She thought of her gramps, how she used to sit up with him on the hill. Just the two of them and his telescope watching the stars. She wasn’t as good  at recognising the different stars and constellations as he was but there had always been something fascinating and beautiful and so alluring about the glimmering specks in the night sky. Now she had she opportunity to be up there among them, what would he say if she said no to that?

“All of time and space. It’s yours. If you want it?" The Doctor replied. 

His big brown eyes were shining with hope. Gone were the storm and the soldier, and in his place was a boy who just wanted to see the stars. He seemed younger now, more vulnerable, more…human. Donna laughed at that. Human. How was this skinny boy in a suit not human? It seemed almost incomprehensible. At least the Racnoss was obviously an alien but this man… this wonderful brilliant man… he just seemed a little eccentric. If she hadn’t have seen the things she had today then she never would have believed him. 

“I bet you say that to all the girls.” She teased and swatted him on the arm. He ran his hands through his hair. It was all soggy now but still hadn’t lost all of its spike, perhaps it was some martian magic?

“Well…” He trailed off. “Only the special ones.”

“Oh pull the other one, you daft Martian. I’m not special. You said it yourself.” Donna snapped back. 

You're not special, you're not powerful, you're not connected, you're not clever, you're not important. 

Words that hadn’t stopped running through her head since he’d said them. It was like those few seconds had been caught on tape and was just looping round and round in her mind. 

You're not special.

It wasn’t fair. Just when she thought she’d found someone different. 

You're not powerful.

Someone that got her. 

You're not connected.

Someone that believed in her.

You're not clever.

Someone that thought she was worth it.

You're not important.

She wanted to scream. 

This Doctor was just the same as the rest. She felt tears prick in her eyes and she stared down at the ground defiantly. She would not let him see her cry over this. She was better than that. She watched the snowflakes slowly begin to cover the ground. Normally it would have melted the second it hit the damp tarmac but apparently snow was something else Time Lords could do better than humans. Stupid aliens. She shivered and hugged her arms tighter to her chest. Bloody wedding dress. It was not designed for the winter. Who on Earth thought getting married in December was a good idea? 

Oh yeah… That was her. Next time she’d decided she’d go for Hawaii instead, maybe Italy, maybe an Italian? 

Come on Donna, just say no! She thought to herself fiercely, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes. The word was almost falling off her lips when the Doctor spoke. 

“I’m sorry.” He said quietly.

“You what?” She stared at him in shock. 

“I’m sorry. I was wrong, and believe me I do not get to say that very often.” He offered her a small half smile. His hair was all ruffled from where his hands at been pulling anxiously at it and he seemed almost half the size as he had done when he was facing the Empress of the Racnoss. “You are special. You’re brilliant, and far cleverer than Lance realised” He paused and took a deep breath. “Cleverer than I realised too” He amended. “And, today you were very important.”

“We saved the world.” Donna pointed out. 

“That we did Donna Noble, and I couldn’t have done it without you!" The Doctor insisted. 

His hair was starting to look completely white as more and more snowflakes settled on his head. He had to blink frequently to keep the snowflakes out of his eyes, and Donna could feel her own eyelashes get heavier with the weight of the icy water. Her nose was beginning to tingle from the cold and her ears were stinging underneath her damp hair. She needed to make a decision. It wasn’t fair to either of them to keep them standing out in the cold. She would send the Doctor on his merry way, back into his wonderful blue box and into the universe. 

“Ok then.” She blurted out. 

“Ok?” He tilted his head.

“I’ll come.” 

Donna gasped as the words fell out of her mouth and clamped her hand over her lips. That was the complete opposite of what she’d been meaning to say. She was going to say no! She was going to tell him it was too dangerous and exciting for her. She was going to tell him to make sure he still managed to find someone else…

But her heart had had other ideas. The idea of more days like today sent a thrill through her body. She knew that life with the Doctor would be absolutely incredible and never boring. She wouldn’t have to keep going from job to job without going anywhere and listening to her mother nagging her day in and day out. It would be a whole new start for Donna and one she had never expected to find so late in life. 

“You’ll…?” He gaped for a second whilst he processed her words.  “Donna!” She was suddenly swept off her feet as he pulled her into a hug and spun her round. 

“Just for the record I was going to say no!” She half screamed as he flung her around in circles. Her arms wrapped tightly around his neck so she didn’t fall and her feet brushed against the edge of the Tardis. For a skinny streak of nothing he was certainly stronger than he looked. 

“Oh, of course.” He played along, grinning as he lowered her back onto the ground. She almost slipped on the icy pavement but luckily his hands were still around her waist…

His hands were still around her waist. 

“Oi!” She yelled and he jumped back in surprise. “Hands!” She gave him a pointed look. 

“Sorry, I just. I thought…” He stammered. “Hands. Right yeah. Sorry.” 

He looked like a teenage boy who had just been told off by the headmistress at school and boy did Donna find that hilarious. She gave him a fond smile and turned back towards her house. 

“Come on then, Spaceman!” She called behind her shoulder. He was still stood stoically by the Tardis, a look of genuine fear in his eyes. “What?”

"The Tardis is this way Donna.” He pointed to the box behind him. She rolled her eyes and grabbed his hand, pulling him back towards her house. 

“I know that, Dumbo!” She grinned at him. He let her pull him to the house, even though she was pretty sure he could have resisted if he wanted to. 

“All of time and space!” He insisted. The Time Lord was starting to sound like her gramps did whenever Mum tried to get the whole extended family together for Boxing Day. Gramps never did like the big social family gatherings. He’d much rather be up on the hill with his telescope and the stars, something that had only gotten more pronounced after her nan had died. 

“Yup.” She agreed. 

“So why are we going that way?” He pleaded but still let himself be pulled along the garden path. 

When they reached the doorstep Donna turned to face him. He seemed genuinely confused. What did he expect to happen? That she would drop everything and run into the time vortex with him on Christmas Eve, in her wedding dress, her ruined wedding dress, without even saying goodbye to her family? She studied his face for moment before she realised that that was exactly what he expected to happen. 

“That friend of yours. What was her name?” She asked. 

“What?” He raised his eyebrow at her, and Donna could see the moment he put his walls back up. “What’s that got to do with this?” Donna sighed and just gave him a pointed look. They stood in silence for a few seconds, neither one wanting to back down before the Doctor nodded and glanced over his shoulder. “Rose.” 

“And Rose’s family. What happened to them when she decided to travel with you? Did they know?” Donna tilted her head as she accessed his reactions. He shuffled awkwardly under her gaze and she knew instantly that she was right. 

“No.” He admitted. 

“Go on.” She kept her eyes on his, determined to stand her ground. 

“I. Well… I made a mistake." The Doctor said quietly. Donna resisted the urge to make a joke about that being twice in one day, but even she could realise now was probably not the best time to interrupt, not if she wanted some answers about the man she was going to travel with.  “I got the time coordinates wrong. Only by one number.” The storm in his eyes was beginning to swirl again. “She was missing for a year.”

“Don’t you see? I have to tell them. Not everything. Not about aliens, and space and time, but…something.” Donna squeezed his hand and prayed to someone that he would understand. “And Lance. I can’t leave his family not knowing Doctor. Help me give them some peace.” 

“I don’t. I can’t. Donna, please, can we just go back to the Tardis? I’ll call UNIT, get them to run clean up. Lance’s family will be spoken to.” He grabbed her by the shoulders, not hard enough to hurt her but hard enough that it was uncomfortable. She’d pushed too hard. She’d blown it. He would runaway, like he always did, without her. 

“Fine. You can call UNIT but I still have to tell Mum and Dad I’m leaving.” He pulled her into a tight hug and whispered a thank you in her ear.  “What do you think? Rich Doctor travels the world helping people who have no one else to turn to? That sounds close enough to the truth right?”

“Oh you are brilliant you are!” He grinned. All traces of the fear and pain from his eyes had vanished. Donna wondered to herself how he was able to flick the switch so quickly. Maybe the energy and the dazzling smiles weren’t all they seemed. 

“Shush.” She batted him on the chest and blushed at the compliment. “Don’t be ridiculous. Now why would a rich doctor want a temp from Chiswick to travel with him?”

“Because you’re brilliant.” He repeated as if it was the most obvious reason in the world. 

Donna rolled her eyes. It seemed like she was going to have to get used to hearing that if she really did want to travel with him. It must have been the third time he’d called her that since they’d returned to Chiswick, but it wasn’t a good enough excuse. Not for Sylvia Noble. Her mother didn’t believe she was good enough for Lance, Head of HR. She would never believe that Donna was good enough for a wealthy Doctor who travels the world saving humanity, not even as a friend. Donna wasn’t sure she believed it either. She’d just gotten lucky. He was probably rebounding from this Rose friend of his. 

“Firstly, you’re starting to sound like a broken record and Secondly, my mother would never believe it.” She smiled weakly, not letting him see how much that cut her up inside. Nothing would ever be good enough for her mother. 

“Why not?” He seemed to genuinely not understand. “It’s true.” 

Donna huffed a disbelieving laugh and pushed him inside the small house. She was starting to get cold, her wedding dress was soaked and thanks to the Doctor it was bloody freezing outside now. It was the perfect recipe for hypothermia.  “Just get inside and dazzle her you prawn. I’m going to pack.”

“Wait what?” He stuttered as he stumbled over the doorstep. His long legs flailing behind him and his coat flapping in the breeze caused from the sudden movement. 

Donna grinned and launched up the stairs towards her bedroom, leaving the Doctor downstairs in the hall. The house was warm and she could hear the sound of Wham playing on the radio, Last Christmas. That thought made Donna shudder. Today had really proved to her that she had to live every single day. No more moping about waiting for life to find her. She was going out and finding her own life, with the Doctor to guide her. Last Christmas, she pondered, for Lance it had been. It had very nearly been Donna’s too, and who knew whether her gramps would get better in time for next year’s. She sighed, nothing like a life threatening event to make you realise how short life could be. 

Her dress clung to her body uncomfortably and it was heavy from the water it had absorbed from under the Thames. What she really needed was a long hot shower and a cup of tea, maybe a nap. It had been a long day after all. She sighed as she shut the door behind her. 

Her room was the same as it always was. The dark purple walls and bedsheets never changed, and yet now everything was different. She never thought she would return to this room. She was supposed to be en route to Morocco with her new husband for their honeymoon and then back to his flat to start their life together, but instead she was back in her childhood bedroom in a destroyed wedding dress, still single and having seen the beginning of the Earth itself. Suddenly her bedroom seemed unbearably small. You couldn’t even fit the Tardis in this room, the outside of course not the inside. She had a feeling that no space would be big enough to fit the inside of the Tardis, certainly not one she could comprehend.

Donna peeled off her wedding dress and wrapped her fluffy dressing gown around her. It was warm and soft against her skin and honestly it felt like heaven after spending all day in a wedding dress. She kicked off her shoes and fell backwards onto her bed. As she stared up at the ceiling she could hear her mother’s shrill voice shouting up the stairs. She groaned and buried her head in her pillow. She couldn’t do this right now.

She dashed into the bathroom and locked the door behind her. She sighed in relief as she turned the shower on and steam slowly began to fill the small bathroom. Donna inhaled deeply as she shrugged out of her dressing gown and pulled her underwear and bra off. The soggy material landed heavily on the floor. She hummed to herself, partly to block out the sound of her mum’s ranting outside, as the hot water fell onto her head, dripping through her long hair. The warm water made her skin tingle as she warmed up too quickly. She wriggled her toes happily and let her muscles relax under the pounding of the hot jets of water. For the first time since that morning she was only and safe. Nobody was bustling around her as they prepared to go to the church, no Huon particles that glowed brightly blurring her vision until she was trapped in a strange time machine, no Doctor running around like a mad alien. Just her.

And her thoughts. 

Which suddenly didn’t seem like a good idea anymore. 

The trials of the day suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. Her legs gave out underneath her and she had to lean against the tiled wall to stop herself from slipping over. She choked back a sob and closed her eyes tightly but it wasn’t enough. Visions of the Empress laughing manically flashed in front of her eyes, Lance’s cutting words as he dropped the axe, the Doctor’s cold dead eyes as he watched the water pour down the pit, Santas marching slowly towards her playing God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Donna gasped and reached out to turn off the tap. That was one Christmas carol she would have to avoid in the future. She’d never liked Santa, the idea of a man breaking into her house and into her bedroom had always spooked her and now she had killer robot Santas to help fuel that nightmare. She breathed deeply trying to slow her heartbeat as the room gradually began to stop spinning. She would have to wash her hair later when she wasn’t having some kind of panic attack. She jumped out the shower and patted herself dry with a warm towel. Her make up stained the soft fabric and she cursed under her breath. Her mum would kill her for that. She pulled her dressing gown back on and threw her wet undergarments in the laundry basket. 

She took a deep breath to tried regain her composure so she could face her parents and that wonder new alien friend of hers. 

“Mrs Noble, please. If you could just let me explain.” She heard the Doctor’s voice from the landing.

“Not another peep out of you Doctor Smith! I don’t trust you. You both turn up late to the reception and then suddenly you’re at my doorstep, soaked to the skin and telling me you’re taking Donna on a trip around the world. The bloody cheek of it.” Donna heard her mum snap. 

“With all due respect Mrs Noble…” 

Donna opened the bathroom door and they both turned to look at her. The Doctor’s eyes glanced down her body and he blushed brightly, he had the decency to take a step back and he seemed to be very determined to keep eye contact with her all of a sudden. She managed a halfhearted laugh at that. Normally she would have found it downright hilarious but it had been a long day and no one could blame her for not being on top form. 

“Mum just shut it will you?” Donna snapped at her mother. 

“How dare you?!” She shrieked. 

“No, Mum. Just… don’t.” She sighed. Normally she would have yelled back but the energy had left her. She wanted to cry, let out all her emotions from the day. She wanted to grieve the man she thought had loved her. She wanted to grieve the life and the future she had lost, and most importantly, she wanted to get away from Chiswick and the reminder of the whole disaster. The man who preferred an alien spider to her, the mother of never believed she was good enough, the friends who taunted her and her job. She pushed past them both and into her bedroom and sank down onto her bed. She hoped that would be hint enough for them to bugger off downstairs but apparently not. They followed her like bloody lemmings into her room. 

“He says you’re leaving?” Sylvia sat down on the bed next to her, in a surprisingly gentle manner. 

“Yeah.” Donna agreed. “I just need to get away Mum.”

“But your job?” Sylvia argued. 

“Pretty sure HC Clements is finished. Boss has disappeared, Lance is… gone.” Donna held back a sob as her voice caught in her throat. “Anyway I’ve got a flight to Morocco right?”

“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry.” Her mum pulled her into a hug and Donna finally let go. 

The tears flooded from her eyes and the sobs tore through her body leaving her breathless. It was like the Thames draining down into the centre of the Earth. She couldn’t stop now that she’d started. At some point she felt the Doctor sit down next to her and his hand rested on her knee. It was a small touch but it meant the world to her. She’d like to say that she cried with grace and beauty, like they did in the movies but she knew that wasn’t true. It was ugly and snotty and her head hurt like a bitch once she was done. The three of them sat on her bed whilst she bawled her eyes out, taking no notice to the snow falling softly outside the window or the sounds the church bell as midnight struck.

Eventually she had cried herself out. She was exhausted and embarrassed and utterly convinced that all chance of time and space had just flown out the window. She untangled herself from her mother’s arms and pushed the Doctor away. 

“Right. Show’s over. Out!” She shoved them both towards the door and wiped her face on the sleeve of her dressing gown. 

“Donna!” Her mum protested. 

“I’m fine, Mum.” She shut the door in her face and waited until she heard footsteps going back down stairs and then she sank to the floor. 

“Donna?" The Doctor’s voice called through the door.

“Go away.” She mumbled. 

“Come on Donna, let’s get your bags into the Tardis and we can get out of here.” He replied softly.

Her heart felt like it stopped in her chest. He still wanted her to go with him. Even with all the ugly crying and the feelings and being completely weak. How could he still want her? She flung the door open and stared at him in shock. His hair was flopping down in front of her face and his suit was all ruffled and wet. It was a miracle her mum had let him upstairs in such a state, stomping wet muddy footprints all over the carpet. 

“What?” She snapped, more viciously than she probably needed to but she was Donna Noble and shouting at the world was what she did best. Maybe one day it would listen.

“Bags? Tardis? All of time and space? Ring any bells?” He teased her gently with a dazzling smile.

“You still… I can still?” Donna asked in disbelief. 

“Unless you’ve changed your mind?” And suddenly that strange vulnerability was back. She laughed at the insanity of it all. “What?” He whined. “You haven’t have you?” 

“Look at the pair of us.” She gasped in between laughs. “Both thinking we don’t deserve each other.” 

“What? No. I never said that.” He protested. 

“Oh but you’re terrified!” She insisted, still holding back laughter. Crazy Time Lord capable of taking down the Empress of the Racnoss without even flinching, defender of the Earth and he was scared of her! Little old Donna Noble, temp from Chiswick.

“I am not.” He pouted and ruffled his hair. 

“You’re scared I’ll change my mind.” She said softly as she pulled him into a hug. “And I’m scared you’ll realise I’m nothing special.” 

“But you’re brilliant.” He murmured into her hair. 

“Broken record, Martian.” She chuckled. He really was quite ridiculous but she found that she was starting to get used to it. It made a change, someone actually thinking she was worth it. She might not believe it but it was still nice to hear. 

“Hit single, Earth Girl, and still not from Mars.” He pulled back and grinned at her. The sparkle was back in his eyes and he had that dopey grin on his face. “Tardis?”

“No.” Donna shook her head softly, holding back a laugh as she saw his face fall. Oh she was going to have so much fun with him. He was just so gullible for someone so smart. Even after all she just said he still thought she was going to change her mind. 

“Oh… I thought. No. That’s fine. I get it, it’s not easy the life I live. But I am soo… hmph” Donna put her finger on his lips cutting him off mid ramble. 

“I’m in my dressing gown you Dumbo. I need to get dressed.” She laughed at him. 

“And then?” He asked, his voice was hopeful and he looked like a kid at Christmas who had just found out that Santa was real. 

Wait… was Santa real? She would have to ask. That would be ridiculous, right?

“And then… all of time and space?” She grinned and he pulled her back into another hug. 

And for the life of her she could not remember why she was ever going to say no in the first place. 

“So… Where to Donna Noble of Chiswick?" The Doctor grinned as he spun round the console excitedly. 

Donna leaned against the coral pillars of the Tardis and watched his manic dance with fond amusement. Just twenty minutes ago he had been by her side as she fell apart in her mother’s arms and now he was like a kid in a candy store all buzz and excitement. As if he hadn’t just saved the world from impending doom, as if this was just another normal day for him. Donna paused mid-thought. It probably was a normal day for him. God, when did her life get so insane. 

Oh yeah, that’s right, 6 months ago when her ex-fiancée had started dosing her with lethal Huon particles so he could feed her to a giant spider. 

She shuddered at the memory. That one was going to take some time to get over. It was even worse than Andrew, her college prom date, cheating on her with her then best friend, Cat, the night before prom. She’d found them both making out in the science block when she’d gone over to surprise him after her English class. Boy did she know how to choose them. She hoped that she had finally made a good decision with the Doctor. He seemed to genuinely think she was something worth fighting for, god knows why. 

“I know you want to jump into new adventures.” Donna said slowly with an apologetic smile. “But I need to make one last stop before we go.”

The Doctor narrowed his eyes at her. “Not Nerys? I think I did alright with your mum but please don’t make me be nice to Nerys!” He pleaded.

Donna was distracted from her train of thought by his question. “What have you got against Nerys?!” She snapped in defence of her friend. Only she was allowed to be a bitch to her friends. 

The Doctor stared at her, aghast. “She was trying to seduce your fiancée at your reception, Donna!” He cried. “I don’t like Nerys.”

Donna was taken back by the ferocity of his remark. “But you barely know her.”

“I saw enough.” He scowled and then his eyes landed back on Donna and softened. “You are worth so much more than Nerys, Donna.”

“Well, for what it’s worth. I have you.” She smiled up at him. “And it wasn’t Nerys I wanted to see. I’ll make her jealous enough one day when we visit.” She laughed. She couldn’t wait to see her friends face when she told her an adapted version of her travels with the Doctor. None her group would believe her. Donna Noble, picking up a rich doctor to travel the world with. 


“My gramps.” Donna said. “He wasn’t at the wedding. He’s sick.”

The Doctor’s eyes twinkled and he gave her a wide toothy grin. “Oh well… It’s a good thing the Doctor is in the house!” 

She felt the Tardis giggle in her mind. Now that had been an unexpected twist. She’d stayed quiet during Donna’s first trip to the beginning of Earth and it had scared the crap out of Donna when she’d returned to the Tardis and felt the buzz of her voice in the back of her head. The Doctor had seemed surprised when Donna mentioned it but he explained that his ship was sentient and highly telepathic. Donna had decided that why the hell not? It wasn’t like this Christmas was going to get any weirder.

Donna gave him the details of the hospital her grandad was staying at and the Doctor began his mad dash around the console. They decided it was best to visit him in relative time in case her mum had managed to ring him at all during the day. The Doctor wittered on about crossing personal timelines and then they were off. Donna could feel the Tardis jolt under her feet and she almost crashed to the floor. She let out a yelp and the Doctor laughed at her misfortune. This would take some getting used to apparently. She glared at her friend as he continued to flap about the console, limbs flying all over the place. It probably would have been easier to catch a cab… then again she wasn’t quite ready to get back in one of those. At least she wouldn’t get mistaken for a drag queen this time. 

The Tardis stilled as the engines slowed to a halt. “Here we are!" The Doctor sang happily and spun the screen round to examine it. “I’ve landed in a storage closet near reception so we just need to work out what room he’s in.” 

When Donna opened the door of the Tardis she was greeted by another door. There was medical equipment all around her and a mop that almost crashed into her head. She cautiously pushed the door open and blinked as her eyes adjusted to the bright fluorescent lights of the corridor. They made their way to reception to find out which room her gramps was staying in. The receptionist was very polite but mistook the Doctor for her husband. She figured Gramps must have mentioned the wedding. 

“Oh no!” Donna corrected the receptionist with a blush and a wave of her hands. “We’re not together.”

“We’re not married." The Doctor said at the same time, his own cheeks were a little pink around the edges. 

“Sorry.” The receptionist, Betty according to her name tag, said. “Just the wedding ring. I assumed. Sorry.”

Donna looked down at her hand. She was still wearing the bio-damp ring. The Doctor noticed too and he suddenly wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Oh golly! We did it again Darling!” He cried. “Sorry,” He said to the receptionist. “Newly weds.” 

Donna stared at her friend in shock. Say what now?! But Donna Noble would not back down from a challenge and she forced a laughed and snuggled into his chest. “Oh my god! This is so embarrassing.” She exclaimed. “You see we had to hide our relationship from his parents. They didn’t approve of him marrying a temp, no money, no stable job. So we had to keep denying it wherever we went. Isn’t that right, Honey Pie?”

“Absolutely, Pumpkin!” He nodded. “It just slipped out! But we don’t have to hide anymore. We got married this morning!”

“Christmas Eve wedding.” Donna agreed. 

“On a rooftop overlooking London!" The Doctor kissed her hair and gave Betty a dazzling smile. 

“Oh, well, that’s all very lovely.” Betty said slowly looking over their shoulder at the queue that was beginning to form. “Room 302. Have a nice day!” 

Donna and the Doctor thanked Betty for her help before Donna pulled the Time Lord down the corridor by his hand. “What was that?!” She hissed at him.

“I don’t know! I panicked!” He whispered back. “How else do you explain a wedding ring?”

“Oh I don’t know! You’re my brother and we’re visiting our grandad together? My husband is at home?!” She jabbed him in the ribs and he yelped. 

“Oh yeah. Right. Yeah. Sorry!” He said. 

They bickered like that all the way to her gramps room. Donna knocked gently on the door before pushing it open. The old man lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw her enter with the Doctor. He was wearing two sets of reindeer antlers on his head. Even though he was in hospital he still hadn’t lost his Christmas spirit.

“Donna!” He cried happily. “Sweetheart! Sylvie didn’t say you were visiting. Oh and who’s this then?” 

“Hello! I’m the Doctor!” The brunet rushed over and introduced himself with an enthusiastic grin. “Nice to meet you!”

Wilf looked a little confused by the excitable alien next to Donna but shook his hand regardless. “Wilfred Mott. Donna’s grandad. Sweetheart, what’s going on?”

“Has mum called you at all today?” Donna asked.

The old man nodded. “Sorry about the wedding, Darling. I always said he didn’t deserve you.”

“Oh good man!" The Doctor cried. “I like him, Donna.”

“Thank you, Sir. I take it you're the man that saved my family from the Christmas trees?” 

“Ah yes, that’s me! Hello." The Doctor gave a little wave. 

“He’s an alien, Gramps.” Donna admitted. She’d asked the Doctor if she could tell her grandad the whole story. He’d always been fascinated with aliens and the stars so she knew it would make his entire life to get a chance to meet with one. The Doctor had surprisingly agreed. He said he had a good feeling about her gramps. 

“No…” Wilf breathed in disbelief and the Doctor nodded. 

“Yup!” He grinned. 

“But you look human!” Her gramps insisted.

“No, you look Time Lord." The Doctor shot back.

Donna had had enough of their bickering and launched into the full story of her wedding, not leaving out any details. The Doctor helped to explain the alien stuff when she stumbled over the words. He was pretty good story teller too. She could see he got lost in the memory of their tale and it was so easy to believe that she was back there again. It was fractionally less terrifying the second time around. At least this time round she knew she would survive. 

Gramps was ecstatic that he had been given the chance to meet a real life alien and promised to keep the truth of her travels a secret from her mum and Dad. He listened in awed silence as the pair of them had told him the story of Donna’s disaster wedding, gasping in the right places and holding her hand tightly as she held back the tears when they got the part about Lance’s betrayal. It had been immensely cathartic to tell some one the truth, and for him to believe her.

“Oh sweetheart! Come here.” Wilf patted on the bed next to him. “Come give your old Gramps a hug.” 

Donna could feel the tears prick in her eyes and she gently wrapped her arms around him. He looked so frail. The flu had taken a lot out of him but the doctors all thought he would get through this. Her Doctor had even given him scan with the sonic and declared he’d be fit as a fiddle in no time, but he did give the old man a couple of tablets to help boost his immune system, just in case. Donna was very grateful. Her grandad always managed to make her feel like a little girl again. Not in the way her mother did, but he saw the world in such a beautiful light she couldn’t help but remember how wondrous the Earth could be. 

“Thanks Gramps.” She sniffled, holding back her tears. She’d cried enough for one day, thank you very much!

“Now go on! The pair of you. Get out of here. Wasting time on an old man like me when you could be out in the stars.” He waved them away. “You look after my little girl, Doctor.” He added with a sharp look in the Time Lord’s direction. “I mean it. If she gets hurt because of you….”

“I swear I will, Wilf." The Doctor nodded sombrely. “Shall we?” He held out his arm to Donna who took it. 

“Lead on, spaceman.” She smiled at her companion. “Bye Gramps! We will visit soon!”

“Good bye Sweetheart!” He waved them off and the headed back to the Tardis to start their grand adventure.

Chapter Text

The blue light from the central column glowed brightly in the centre of the room and Donna could feel the hum of the Tardis in her whole body and mind. It really was amazing, and even more so was how quickly she’d gotten used to the feeling of the Tardis around her. She hadn’t notice how empty her head felt in the hospital with Gramps until she had stepped back over the threshold. A sentient spaceship, who’d have thought? The Doctor must think that humans are so small and insignificant compared to him. 

The man in question was slowly flicking switches on the console as they prepared to dematerialise from the storage cupboard.  “So….” He crossed his arms and watched her from across the console. “Anymore pit stops?” He teased.

“Don’t act like you didn’t love Gramps.” Donna crossed her own arms, mirroring his pose and raised an eyebrow. 

The Doctor laughed. “Well, without Wilf there would be no Donna Noble. The universe would burn without Donna Noble.” 

“Oh you prawn. Leave off.” Donna rolled her eyes. 

“Seriously though. Where to next?” His eyes were sparkling with excitement and he had a dopey smile on his face. Didn’t this crazy alien ever stop? She was exhausted from the day already and he wanted more? But how could she say no? Her first proper time in the Tardis since agreeing to travel with him. She couldn’t just say ‘Nah mate, I’m off to sleep. See you in the morning.’ She wasn’t an idiot. 

“Oh I don’t know!” She cried instead. “All of Time and Space! How do you choose?” She ran over to the console to stand opposite him. 

“Someone famous?” He quirked an eyebrow.

“Nah.” She shook her head. Her first real trip in the Tardis was going to be perfect! There were famous people all the time and she wasn’t interested in that. Not yet at least. Maybe she could convince him to let her meet Brad Pitt? She giggled at the thought. No it was the end of a long day for her and her eyes were probably still red and puffy from crying, Brad Pitt would have to wait for another day.

“Some monumental event from Earth’s past?” He tried again with a mad toothy grin. 

“Nope!” She sang. She’d already done that one. Not bad for a first trip either. 

“Ooh… I know! Alien planet!” He laughed but she shook her head. She was much too tired to deal with another alien. The one she had was quite enough thank you very much! Plus after the Racnoss she wasn’t sure she could cope with another one before a good night’s sleep and copious amounts of caffeine. 

“Wrong again, Time Boy!” She spun round the console as he did so they stayed on opposite sides. 

“So then… To the future?” He winked and pulled down on a lever. Donna screamed as the Tardis jolted and she was almost thrown to the floor. Luckily the Doctor had zipped around the console faster than lightning and caught her. “Hold on tight!”

“Where are we going?!” She yelled over the sound of the engine. The blue light pulsed at the centre of the console. 

“Earth!" The Doctor beamed. 

“When are we going?!”  She laughed excitedly. The adrenaline was coursing through her and all thoughts of a nap fell from her head. Deep down she knew she was exhausted but she couldn’t seem to care. She was travelling the universe with this strange, genius, wonderful man. 

“No idea! I’ve let her choose!” He grinned as they bumped into each other. Donna clung onto the console with all her strength so she wouldn’t be thrown to the floor again and the Doctor flung his body past hers and grasped onto a weird dial on the other side of the console. “Mallet!” He called and thrust his hand out towards her. She rolled her eyes and reached under the console. 

“You could just ask her nicely you know?” She called back. Of course, she had no idea whether that was true or not but it didn’t quite seem right hitting a sentient space ship with a mallet. She felt the Tardis brush her mind gratefully and she brushed her fingers along the edge of the console. “I know, Sweetheart. I won’t let the big bad Time Lord bully you.” 

“Donna!” He whined. “Don’t let the Old Girl lie to you. She never behaves!” 

“Doctor!” She whined back to mock him. “You know us girls stick together right?” She grinned and tossed the hammer behind her. It landed on the metal grates with a loud thud and the Tardis suddenly went quiet. The engine stopped and they were able to stand without being flung about the room. Donna started to panic. She had broken the Tardis!

A tickle in the back of her mind told her to stop being silly and she breathed a sigh of relief. 

They had just landed. 

“We’ve stopped." The Doctor grinned and stuck his tongue between his teeth. He jumped up and grabbed his coat from the nearby coral pillar. It swished behind him as he pulled it on. 

“Yup.” Donna suddenly felt a little bit sick. Neither of them knew what was outside that door. If the Doctor was to be believed then it was Earth but when or where on Earth she had no idea. “Don’t suppose it’s not too late to turn back?”

“Oh Donna Noble. Where’s your sense of adventure?” He reached out his hand to her as they stood facing the doors to the Tardis and the unknown. 

“If I had to guess I would say in Chiswick, or maybe at the bottom of the Thames?” She joked as she took his hand. It had been a long time since she’d had a friend who’d been close enough to hold hands with. Even Lance hadn’t wanted to. She really should have known. But this was nice. Her and the Doctor against the world. 

“Would it help if you changed into a wedding dress?” He teased her as together they pulled the doors open. 

Any protest she might have had fell away as she took in her surroundings. It was… the same.

It wasn’t Chiswick sure. It probably wasn’t even England. It was too hot for that but the people wandering round were wearing normal-ish clothes, if not a little eccentric. The cars were firmly on the ground and the ocean was rumbling softly in the background. The air tasted a little salty but that was probably from the beach that was just the other side of the road. 

She didn’t know what she had been expecting but she was fairly certain she wasn’t it. 

“Well?" The Doctor squeezed her hand and she looked up at him. He had changed into a blue version of his pinstriped suit whilst she was saying her last goodbyes to her gramps, probably to let his brown one dry. She wondered if he had a whole rainbow collection tucked away somewhere. He had mentioned a huge wardrobe hidden away in the depths of the Tardis whilst she had been packing her bags, that had to include rainbow suits right?

“It’s the same.” She replied, a little disappointed. “Where are all the flying cars? Where are all the robots and holograms? When are we?” 

“Robot Santas not enough robots for one day?” He teased her and she glowered back in response. “Not sure. Didn’t check the screens before we came out. Let’s find out shall we?” He pulled her towards the beach where a few couples were strolling with their dogs. The sun was low in the sky, if she had to guess it was probably dusk not dawn but how should she know? She wasn’t the Time Lord out of the two of them. “Excuse me!" The Doctor called to the nearest couple. 

“Go away. We’re not interested.” One of the girls called back and pulled her girlfriend away from the Doctor.

“Not interested?" The Doctor replied thoughtfully. “In what?”

Donna was too busy looking around. She had suddenly noticed all the signs and billboards were in English. The couple had had an English accent, London to be more precise, but this wasn’t London. There was a beach. That was the ocean. She spun around, letting go of the Doctor’s hand. He didn’t complain and walked further onto the beach.

“I’m sorry! Interested in what? I’m the Doctor, this is Donna, is there something wrong? I can help! See? Doctor Smith and Donna Noble, Earth residential satisfaction department” He called again but Donna wasn’t listening. 

“Doctor?” She mumbled meekly as she tried to process what she was seeing behind the little blue box on the edge of the beach. 

“We’re not leaving. My family was born in this city generations ago and I’m bloody well not leaving now. I don’t care how many men in suits tell me otherwise.” The second girl spat back.

“Doctor!” Donna shouted louder this time. He had to see this. It was… unbelievable.

“A little busy Donna!” He called back. “Look, no funny business I promise. Who’s trying to get you to leave? Leave where?” He continued to interrogate the poor couple. 

“Are you daft mate? or did the giant view of the ocean not give you a clue? The city is falling into the sea. I met my wife on this beach back when there was a river and now the whole thing is a beach!” The second girl snapped back at him. 

“Doctor! You Dumbo! Look!” Donna spun round and yelled at her friend. 

“What!?” He yelled back and turned to face her and the Tardis. “Oooh… ok. That’s new.”

He walked slowly back up the beach until they were standing side by side facing away from the sea. 

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, albeit strange modernised versions with holographic windows and a digitalised clock face,  were stood proudly behind the Tardis. She wondered what old Harold Saxon would think if he saw his place of work two billion years in the future. He promised to fight for change and a better world. It seemed he hadn’t done that much to stop global warning after all.

“We’re on a beach.” Donna stated. 

“Yeah." The Doctor agreed.

“By the sea.” She continue quietly.

“Yeah…” He nodded and scratched the back of his neck. 

“In Central London.” She finished. 

“Well…” He paused. “Yeah.”

The Doctor had somehow managed to convince the two girls, Carrie and Bethany, that they weren’t about to force them out of London and they weren’t psychopathic murderers. Donna wondered if everyone was always so trusting of the Doctor after a few minutes. He seemed to be able to make friends wherever he went. Granted it had taken Donna a least an hour before she started to warm up to him, but in her defence it had been a very stressful day. One that still hadn’t ended, she thought as she stifled a yawn.

She’d expected London to be more different in the future. She was almost disappointed. Apart from the obvious difference of the London Eye falling into the sea along with half the city, nothing much had changed. The fashion hadn’t changed that much. The cars were still firmly on the ground and every thing was… normal? No flying spaceships. No aliens hanging around the city. No robot people. She would have sworn robots would have had rights by now. At least gay marriage was a thing. That was cool. She’d felt a little flutter of joy when Carrie had introduced Bethany as her wife. Although judging by the way the two girls had been assessing their reactions, Donna guessed that gay marriage didn’t necessarily mean that homophobia was in the past. She wondered if it ever would be. She’d asked the Doctor if he knew when the law would pass, she’d been pleased to hear it was well within her life time, less than a decade! 2012 apparently, but still no robots. she felt a little cheated. She should have gone for alien planet after all.

Apparently Earth had become super futuristic a few millennia ago but once the resources started running out, humanity and other aliens that called the Earth home, had had to slowly revert backwards. There were restrictions on flying cars now and even normal cars had to be all electric, all homes and companies had to run on solar energy or other sustainable alternatives. All the super duper high tech gadgets require too much energy for Earth and had to be phased out or taken to other planets. The Doctor told her that in another couple of centuries then the planet would be back to the dark ages. No electricity at all as all the funding was sent to the colonies and the governments switched off the power grid all over the world. Internet would become the stuff of legends for the last of the humans who refused to leave. The last space ship would launch off into the stars and the Earth would be forgotten until the day it burned.

It was sort of poetic in a way. All that progress and development but in the end nature won. It always would.

The Doctor was questioning Carrie a little bit ahead of her as they ambled along the beach. 

Carrie had short purple hair and funny green glasses with blue lenses. She was wearing a linen crop top and a strange shimmering purple skirt. Her wife, Bethany was dressed in a similarly shimmering turquoise dress. She had soft pink pastel hair and a long golden chained necklace. The colours should have clashed but some how it seemed to work. Perhaps people in the 21st Century needed to learn to be bolder and brighter. Bethany was the quieter of the two, she’d moved to London from Cornwall when the county had fallen into the sea. No one had expected the sea to reach so far in land but the water kept rising and the UK was turning into Atlantis. Ireland and Wales were both almost completely gone.

“So… Tell me Carrie." The Doctor was saying. “Who are these men in suits eh?” 

“Bit rich coming from you, spaceman!” Donna called at her friend and she plodded along in the sand. 

Her shoes were heavy and full of sand. She’d begun to wish she’d worn her flip flops instead of her trainers, come to think of it she wished she worn her dungaree shorts and pink blouse combo rather than her jeans and purple top. It was boiling under the sun. She probably should have put sun tan lotion on as well. She was going to roast out here. She’d probably already started to burn, and her eyes were starting to hurt from the bright sunlight. She made a mental note to check the weather before leaving the Tardis, or at least insisting she can go and change before adventuring. 

“You alright back there, Donna?” He called back when he’d notice how far behind she’d gotten. 

“Oh yes. Top of the world. You got any sunscreen in that coat of yours? or sunglasses?” She asked hopefully. 

“Right yes. Just a mo.” He gave Carrie an apologetic look and dug around in his pockets. He tossed Donna a small bottle of sunscreen. “Use that sparingly Donna! It’s very powerful. You won’t need much, even with your complexion. I got it from the planet Solasestas. It has four suns!” 

Donna inspected the bottle. It was a pale pink colour with a silver top. The writing on the back was in English just like that signs. 

“If it’s from Solstas”

“Solasestas" The Doctor corrected.

“Then why can I read the instructions?” Donna asked thoughtfully. 

“Oh that’s the Tardis! She translates for you.” Donna mentally thanked the ship as he continued to speak.  “All very clever stuff. Oh I nearly forgot.” He pulled out his glasses and pointed the sonic screwdriver at them. The lenses turned dark and he tossed the over to her. Donna almost fell over as she had the reach forward to catch them. “Catch!” He yelled a little too late. 

“Oi!” She yelled back and the managed to steady herself.

“Suits!" The Doctor cried and turned back to Carrie as Donna pulled on the sunglasses. The lenses weren’t corrective at all and she almost positive he hadn’t changed the prescription of the lenses, just the colour. The cheeky bugger only wore them to look smart. Oh she was gonna give him hell about that later. She squeezed out some of the alien lotion and applied it to her face. It was freezing cold and made her skin feel as soft as a baby’s bottom. It wasn’t at all greasy. Donna would have to grab some of this from the Doctor. It was bloody brilliant. 

“They’ve been evacuating the planet for years. Ever since the cities started to fall.” Carrie told them. “They’ve been driving around offering tons of money to anyone who agrees to go.” 

“They offer money?" The Doctor asked thoughtfully. Donna thought that sounded completely fishy. It was probably a drug front or slave trade or something sinister. 

“Yeah. Compensation for housing and property that has to get left behind. You can only take a small suitcases on the ships. Nothing big. No pets.” Bethany answered this time. “I’d have to leave Benny behind.”

“Benny? Who’s that?” Donna asked. Beth smiled proudly and pulled up a holographic image using her necklace which Donna was very impressed with. That was more like it! Future tech! The hologram was showed a small ginger cats with bright green eyes. It was a 3D image and so realistic that Donna felt that if she were to reach out and touch the cat she would be able to feel its fur. “Oh he’s beautiful.” 

“Yeah. I just can’t leave him and Carrie loves this city too much. It’s home.” Beth frowned and stared out into the ocean. “We’ll eventually have to move further inland but house prices are going up and all the inner cities are running out of space.”

“So they are paying people to leave the planet behind." The Doctor concluded. “Don’t you want to see what it’s like out there?” He asked. Donna imagined that so many humans had begged him for the chance to see the stars and here were two girls that were just a desperate to stay with their feet on the ground. “All of space waiting for you.” Her friend sang in the voice he used to try and persuade people. He was very good at persuading people but Carrie just glared fiercely at him.

“Hold up. I thought you said you weren’t with them?” He poked him sharply in the chest. “You liar!” She accused. “Look here mister.”

“Doctor” He corrected.

“I told you we are not leaving. I don’t care what you and your missus think but this is our home!” Carrie ignored his interruption. “This is our planet and our city. We were born here and no alien piss heads in suits are gonna change our minds!”

“Carrie!” Bethany chided in a surprising show of strength from the quieter girl. 

“Carrie.” Donna said more softly than the girl’s wife. The Doctor had riled her up, and now Donna was left to run damage control, the plonker. She glared at her friend who had the decency to look sheepish. Donna touched the purple haired girl’s arm gently, smiling when she didn’t move away. “Carrie he didn’t mean it like that. Oh and for the record, not his missus. We’re not together.” 

“Whatever.” Carrie grumbled. “That don’t change anything.”

“And you were right, about the Doctor. He’s daft.” Donna glanced up at her friend. The Doctor mouth ‘oi’ at her and she smirked. “We’re travellers. We’ve seen it out there and it is beautiful but that doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. He doesn’t get it. He thinks he can dazzle anyone with the promise of the stars. It’s not a punishment to him, it’s the reward.” 

Carrie laughed at that. “Why would anyone want to leave when it’s so beautiful here on Earth?” 

Donna looked out into the ocean. The sun was sparkling brightly on the water and there wasn’t a cloud in the rich blue sky. The sun was larger than Donna remembered and around the gleaming ball of light the sky was a burnt orange colour. Carrie was right. It was spectacular. She remembered watching David Attenborough documents with her Dad when she was younger. She’d always been fascinated by all the far away places. She’d been desperate to see the orang-utans in Borneo. She would have to persuade the Doctor to take her. It would be a childhood dream fulfilled. 

But then she remembered sitting on the edge of the Tardis watching the fragments of the Earth spiral around in space. It had taken her breath away and being able to share that experience with the Doctor was just amazing, beyond words. He’d promised to show her more wonders just like that and Donna couldn’t wait. The Earth may be beautiful in its own way but it was nothing compared to seeing new planets, meeting brand new civilisations and walking among her own planet’s history and future. 

“Because not everyone feels like this is their home.” Donna admitted.

“What about you?” Beth asked “Where’s home for you?” 

“With him.” Donna blushed as she looked at the Doctor. His face lit up like the sun and Donna knew that she was right. 

Carrie and Bethany had pointed them towards a set of tall towers just past Big Ben. Apparently that was the HQ of the mysterious suited men who were trying to evacuate the planet. The Doctor wanted to have a little chat with whoever was in charge to make sure their schemes were all in good faith and not a front for some kind of human slave-trade out in the cosmos. They’d arranged to meet the two girls back on the beach in an hour. Donna hoped if they could prove that it was all safe then they would agree to find a new home away from the dying planet. 

It was the year two Billion and sixty-three. The Doctor had finally worked that out by scanning Beth’s necklace that had produced the image of her cat. Donna Noble was in the year two Billion and sixty-three. Flipping hell. She still couldn’t quite believe it. 

Donna wiped her fringe out of her eyes. It was beginning to stick to her forehead with the sweat. Earth really was burning up. She wondered if humans even knew what snow was these days, did they still have songs about white Christmas or was that just nonsense to them. She stared up at the tall office block. It was built from a shiny white material, probably some space age concrete or something. The sky was almost orange behind the towers and the sun seemed to be impossibly large in the sky. It would have been beautiful if it wasn’t so bloody hot.

“Blimey. I hope they have air-conditioning.” She wheezed. “Gingers are not designed for hot weather.” 

“Wasn’t your honeymoon supposed to be Morocco?" The Doctor queried.

“Yeah but that’s all pools and air-conditioning. Not hunting down mysterious CEOs.” Donna snapped. “And I would be wearing summer clothes! Not jeans!”

“Ooh Donna Noble in a bikini. You could go and change.” He teased her with a wink and she whacked him around the back of his head.

“Behave, spaceman.” She glared at him.

“I’m joking!” He protested. “Shall we try and find these fancy blokes in suits then?” He pulled out his psychic paper wallet and waved it around with a cheeky grin.

“Noble Enterprises, surprise inspection.” Donna suggested.

“Perfect! Allons-y!” He beeped the paper in front of the security pad on the front door and they slipped inside the building.

It was, thankfully, blissfully cool inside the spacious office. They were a few drones rumbling across the foyer on wheels, carrying folders and coffees in little holders. “Ooh that’s much better!” Donna pointed at them gleefully. “Now that’s more like it!”

“Humans still treating robots as their personal slaves. Nothing ever changes." The Doctor scowled and waved down one of the robots. “Hello! Hi! I’m the Doctor and this is Donna Noble.”

“Hiya.” Donna gave a little wave as the Doctor flashed their false ID. 

“Noble Enterprises. We have an appointment with your boss. Can you point us in the right direction?" The Doctor grinned. 

“We’re looking to move our company abroad, which star system was it, darling?” Donna glanced up at her alien friend. 

“Alpha Centauri, in the star system of Centaurus. Lovely place this time of year." The Doctor wrapped an arm around her waist. “We went last year for our anniversary.”

“Mhmm…” Donna agreed not wanting to say too much more in case she gave the game away and they realised she had no idea what Alpha Centauri was like. “It was stunning. Perfect location for our new HQ. We heard you’re the ones to talk to about that.”

“Follow Me.” The robot chimed and trundled off on its little wheels. Donna began to wonder why they were putting on such a big show for the robot. She couldn’t even blame the Doctor this time. This was all on her. 

“Excellent." The Doctor flashed her a smile and they were off.

The Doctor hummed along to the music in the lift. It wasn’t a song she recognised but seemed to be bog standard lift music. It wasn’t too different to what she was used to back in the 21st Century, a little bit catchy with nonsensical lyrics about love and poorly hidden innuendos. It would have fit quite nicely into the charts of her own time. 

“Isn’t this a bit of a spoiler?” Donna whispered to her companion. “I could go home and write this song two billion years early.”

the Doctor scowled at her. “You could…” He admitted as he scratched the back of his neck. “But that could cause a nasty little paradox, rip a hole in the fabric of time.”

“That bad?” Donna asked. She couldn’t imagine one little song causing so much damage. “Just a song?”

The Doctor stared at her as if he was trying to work something out, looking at something she couldn’t quite see. “Time can be difficult. One song could do absolutely nothing, or it could destroy reality as we know it.” 

“How do you know which is which?” Donna asked curiously. 

The Doctor rubbed his eye. “Er… I can’t explain it. I just do.”

“Very eloquent Time Lord.” She teased. 

“It’s like asking me to describe colours you can’t see!" The Doctor protested. “It’s a Time Lord thing.”

Donna raised an eyebrow at her friend. “You can see extra colours?”

“Yes I can. Ooh look we’re here!” He sang as the lift binged to indicate their stop. 

They followed the little robot down the corridor, towards, hopefully, the CEOs office. Donna had a nose at the office. There were moving photographs in all the frames, a bit like in Harry Potter. The pictures seemed to almost pop out of the frame and into the room. There were pictures of vast deserts and sand dunes, and lush green forests with streams trickling through the rocky pebbles, and great mountain tops that stood proud over looking the little cities below. It was strange to see the mountains without a single flake of snow but overall they were photos that Donna had seen in almost every office she’d been in. Stock office photos. Nothing ever changed. 

She peered through the glass of the doors as the wandered through the corridor. There were funky looking desks but the content was still the same. Desk phone, monitors, albeit weird hologram touch screen versions, and pot plants. An office job will apparently always be an office job. She suddenly realised how mundane her life had become before she met the Doctor. She was just another cog in a machine, nothing important, nothing ground breaking. Little Donna Noble would be very disappointed, but at least the work had led her to the mad man and his box so it wasn’t all bad. 

“Mrs Preston is expecting you.” The robot chimed and came to a stop in front of a large glass door. 

“Thank you!" The Doctor patted the robot on the head and then rummaged through his pockets. He pulled out some funny looking coins. “And these are for you. Sorry it’s not more. I don’t carry money. It’s not Earth coins but you’re a clever robot, you’ll figure something out!" The Doctor dropped the coins into a small storage compartment on the robot.

“Thank you, Doctor Noble.” The robot beeped happily and rolled away.

“Did you just tip the robot?” Donna asked incredulously.

“Of course, Donna! I’m not a monster. I doubt you lot pay him very much if anything." The Doctor stated dryly as if her question was the most ridiculous thing at all. “I don’t think the robotic revolution ever reaches Earth. It should be in full swing out in the colonies by now though. Viva la revolution!” 

“The robotic revolution…” Donna repeated. “Blimey!” 

The Doctor knocked on the door and then peered around the frosted glass. “Mrs Preston?”

“Doctor, Donna Noble. Come in.” A cold voice chimed from inside the office. 

“Ah yes. Hello! I’m the Doctor and this is Donna Noble.” He gestured between them as they entered the room. “From Noble Enterprises.”

“Enchanté.” Donna smiled sweetly at the lady behind the desk. 

She was an older looking lady, probably mid-50s, with short sandy blonde hair. There were a few streaks of turquoise flashing through the blonde, a bold choice for a business woman. She was wearing a dark emerald green suit made of the same shimmering fabric as Carrie and Beth’s clothes, but if Donna had to guess she’d say it was a more expensive version. It really seemed to catch the light. It was like looking into a real emerald. She had piercing lilac eyes that peered out at them through silver glasses. 

“You can drop the act, Time Lord.” Mrs Preston raised an eyebrow. 

The Doctor gaped at her and then looked to Donna. “Time Lord? Never heard of them.”

“Sounds a bit pompous if you ask me.” Donna followed his lead. 

“My job is to evacuate this planet before it burns and falls into the sea. We have contacts all across the universe, Doctor. We ship the human race out into the stars to start new colonies and grow.” Mrs Preston stood up and stalked towards them.

“That’s very impressive." The Doctor nodded. “You even pay for the passengers to travel. How exactly can you afford all of that?” 

“Mhmm… that suit isn’t exactly cheap either.” Donna noted. “You skimming a little something extra off the top?” 

The blonde smiled far too pleasantly at them both. “You have grown too old, Doctor. You have little faith left in humanity.”

“You say that as if I’m not human." The Doctor quipped. “I love humanity me. Earth is my home.”

“Now, Time Lord, save us both the embarrassment and drop the act. Part of my training was to look through old UNIT and Torchwood files. We needed to know everything about the planets we were venturing out to. We had to make sure that we weren’t endangering people’s lives. So I know all about you.” Mrs Preston pressed a button on her watch and a hologram of the Doctor’s face came up on screen. “And don’t worry, I know I can’t reveal anything of your future selves. Now, this face with Miss Noble, or is it Mrs Noble?” 

“Miss.” Donna snapped. “I’m not married. Thanks for rubbing it in.” 

“Ah so marriage is still a sore topic. Early days is it?” Mrs Preston smiled knowingly.

“Doctor, who is she?” Donna looked to her friend. He was scowling with thunderous eyes at Mrs Preston.

“I don’t know.” He said through gritted teeth. “I’ve never met her.”

“My family has a long history with Torchwood and UNIT, as I said before. You don’t trust me. I understand that. Many people have given you more than enough reasons to be cautious but I mean you no harm. I do wonder why you are here though, Doctor. Death follows you like a shadow. Our evacuation is not yet complete so I am begging you to tell me. Is this the end?” Mrs Preston asked sincerely. 

“Why do you care?" The Doctor retorted. “You probably have a private jet waiting to shoot you out into the stars.”

“And you don’t?” She countered but nodded with a sigh. “But yes. I will leave when I need to. I cannot risk my own safety if the rest of the public won’t listen. I care because it is my job to care. This charity was set up millennia ago, before space travel became commercialised. It was created to fund a last resort evacuation plan for when our planet became too damaged to continue living here.”

“A charity?” Donna asked. That didn’t seem right. This was all charity! How on earth had they raised this much money that they were able to offer citizens money to leave their homes? Children in Need had really something to learn from this. 

“That’s right yes. We’ve been fundraising for millennia. People laughed at first. They thought our founders were all paranoid but slowly as global warming showed no sign of slowing down it began to gain traction. We’ve been evacuating for the last couple of centuries. The smaller islands were the first to go. The Caribbean, Hawaii, The Philippines. Then the coastlines began to fall into the sea. New York was a tragedy and now London is falling too.” She said with a sad far-off look in her eyes. 

“No, but this is all charity work?” Donna gaped. “Not some secret drug trade or human trafficking?”

The blonde laughed at her. “Would I tell you if it was?” 

“No.” Donna admitted with a glare. “I suppose not.”

“Still none of this makes sense!" The Doctor insisted. “You what? Do little televisions skits for a few centuries without any pay out. You just store that money for a rainy day and people actually donated?” He scowled. “Humanity is too greedy for that.”

“Oi!” Donna snapped. “Not all of us are like that, Alien Boy!” God he can be a right prat sometimes. 

“Miss Noble is right. There are always those who can see ahead. Early humans, probably from Donna’s time if I’m not mistaken, were fighting for our planet. Back when snow and ice still existed on Earth. I’ve never been to a planet with snow.” Mrs Preston said wistfully. “Is it as beautiful as they say?”

The Doctor took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair like he couldn’t quite believe her. He sighed and rubbed his cheek. “It’s spectacular. When the ice freezes instantly you can get glorious blue waterfalls made of solid ice. Humans invented a wonderful thing called ice sculptures. You can go into underground ice castles that are full of them. It’s just brilliant.” 

“So you really are just trying to help?” Donna asked in disbelief. They had been totally wrong about the whole thing. “No dark secrets.”

“None at all. Or least none that I know of. Not on Earth.” Mrs Preston tilted her head towards the hologram that was still showing the Doctor’s file. “ Go ahead. Have a look.” 

The Doctor raised his chin and looked down at her before pulling out his sonic screwdriver. He aimed the little blue device at the screen and the screen flickered, the writing whizzing past too fast for Donna to keep track. The Doctor’s eyes flickered back and forth as he absorbed the information. After a few minutes he pocketed his screwdriver and nodded. 

“Ok. We’ll be off then. Keep up the good work.” He turned on his heels and stalked out the room. Donna gave Mrs Preston one last look before following her friend. She trotted out of the room after him and chased him down the hall. He was walking quickly down the halls, not even pausing to say good bye to their robot friend. 

She finally caught up with him at the lift. “So she was telling the truth?” 

“Completely. It’s all fine. Nothing nefarious, no aliens trying to take over the world. Just humans helping each other to survive the end of their planet. They are still getting donations in from all across the universe. Family members out in the colonies helping to get their friends and family out into the stars.” He scowled. 

“So what’s wrong?” Donna asked. His eyes were still dark and lost in thought. 

“That means we can’t save them.” He admitted. “If I can’t persuade them to leave, they’ll drown or end up homeless in Manchester or Birmingham or wherever they end up.” 

“We’ll do our best.” Donna looped her arm with his and rested her head on his shoulder whilst they waited for the lift.

The Doctor, Donna Noble and their two new acquaintances were sat on the beach in Central London, or the edge of London as it now was. The Doctor and Donna had manage to squeeze onto his long brown coat that he’d laid out on the sand, it was the first sign Donna had seen that even the Doctor was struggling with the heat. The Doctor grimaced as he spat out the sand he had just licked off the back of his hand and Donna rolled her eyes. Daft alien. 

“Oh yes. Definitely Earth. Tastes… Earthy. Can’t describe it. Definitely not New Earth or New New New Earth or New New New New New…”

“Doctor!” Donna cut him off sharply. She’d changed her mind. She should have insisted they go to sleep before their next adventure. She was exhausted. Perhaps Time Lords didn’t need as much sleep as humans. 

“Sorry. Yes. Well… Point is. Earth. London. You can taste it. Well… I can. Humans wouldn’t be able to tell the difference." The Doctor winked at their new companions. 

“Are you sure we can't we help them Doctor?” Donna asked, she put her hand on his arm gently. This was terrible. Global Warming was a thing. They were all talking about it even in her day, talks of banning plastic bags from supermarkets, solar energy and all that, but Donna could never have predicted this.

“I wish we could.” He sighed as he ran his hands through his hair. There was pain in his eyes, that deep dark pain that she had seen before when he talked about Rose. 

Donna thought about climate change back in the 21st century. Climate change then, in her time, had all been about saving the animals from extinction and stopping the Ozone layer from disappearing. No one had predicted that the water levels would rise to the point that major cities would fall into the sea, or if they had then no one was talking about it. They’d just been worried about the icecaps and the polar bears dying out. 

“The polar bears.” Donna pondered aloud as they stared out into the ocean.

“The what?” Carrie asked her. 

“The polar bears.” Donna repeated. “You have bears?” 

“Like Winnie the Pooh?” Bethany asked with a gentle smile. 

“Umm… sure.” Donna agreed. “But in real life.”

“Winnie the Pooh is real?” Bethany grinned happily. 

“Don’t be daft love, she’s messing with us. It’s just fictional. Made up.” Carrie glared at Donna. “We’re not stupid you know.” 

“I know. I just thought you might have seen them in Zoos or movies or something.” Donna turned to face the Doctor but he was still staring off into the ocean. Didn’t he have a handbook to time travel or something? 

“Zoos?!” Bethany looked shocked. “That’s barbaric!”

Donna cursed under her breath. Or at least she tried to. What she actually said was ‘fork’. She would have to ask the Doctor about that later. 

“No no… umm.. ok. Like Winnie the Pooh but white and he lives in a really icy cold place instead of a forest.”  Donna hastily corrected. 

“You two talk nonsense half the time.” Carrie muttered. 

“Tell me about it.” Donna agreed. “Point is, where we come from. They were only worried about the polar bears. They thought that when the ice melted the polar bears would die. No one said anything about London falling into the sea.” 

Both girls just laughed at her. Donna scowled. This time stuff was harder than she thought. 

“Where you from mate? The dark ages?” Carrie laughed as she threw a pebble into the ocean. It landed in the water with a large plop and the water rippled out. 

Donna imagined that she was sort of like the pebble. The Doctor was throwing her around time and whenever she landed she created ripples through time. She was never meant to meet Carrie and Bethany. What would they have been doing this evening if they had been so rudely interrupted by her skinny alien? Perhaps they would have just had a simple stroll along the beach and then home to watch some tele or whatever future people did to relax. Maybe a book or a digital book. “Something like that.” Donna muttered under her breath and looked up at the Doctor. 

The Time Lord was quietly staring out into the sea with a dark look on his face. Donna’s heart broke just to look at him. He always made such an effort to seem happy, excitable and well… Doctory, but as soon as the running stopped, a dark cloud seemed to come over him. She’d seen it when he spoke of Rose, when he’d spoken of his lost home planet and when the Racnoss had refused his offer to help her. He was constantly fighting demons inside his head. No wonder he never seemed to stop running. 

She put her hand on his arm gently. He looked up at her with a start. His eyes softened when he saw her looking at him and he gave her smile. 

“You alright?” Donna asked.

“Yeah." The Doctor drawled in a tone that made Donna think he was anything but alright.

“Been a long day.” Donna said quietly. 

The Doctor nodded and rubbed his eyes. “You have no idea…” 

Donna wondered when the last time he’d been to sleep was, before she’d arrived in the Tardis, that much was certain. She had caught him off guard in the Tardis. He’d been in the middle of something when she’d arrived out of the blue. He’d seemed sad then. Donna thought he wasn’t very good when he was left on his own and she made a promise to herself to never leave him by himself, not like he had been when she met him. 

She looked over to Carrie and Bethany. They were curled up on the sand next to them. Carrie was gazing fondly down at her wife who had fallen asleep in her lap. It warmed Donna’s heart. Carrie was a lot like her in ways. They both tended to lash out and shout at the world but Donna noticed that when Carrie looked at Bethany, she melted. Bethany softened out the edges of her temper and it seemed that Carrie gave Bethany the strength to fight for what she believed in. It made humanity seem a little less dark even at the end of the Earth. 

“Come on Bethy, let’s go home.” Carrie kissed her wife’s head and shook her gently to wake her. Bethany smiled softly when she saw the purple haired girl watching her and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The two women started off back towards the city. Bethany gave them a small wave as they left which Donna returned sadly and then she was left alone to watch the sunset with the Doctor. It could almost have been romantic if it wasn’t for the feeling of impending doom and the fact he was an alien. 

“Doctor?” She asked quietly as she brushed her fingers along his arm to get his attention.  He looked at her wearily with a soft smile. “Why can’t we help them Doctor? Isn’t that what you do? Help people?”

“Yes. Sometimes. When I can but this isn’t like that." The Doctor sprang to his feet and moved closer to the waves. The tips of his red converses dipped into the water but he didn’t seem to notice. 

“Why not?” Donna asked.

“There’s no monster Donna, no aliens attacking. No big red button to hit.” He answered without turning to face her. 

“But the planet is drowning.” She implored.

“And soon it will be burning.” He muttered darkly. “It always comes down to the burning.” 

“I don’t understand.” She sighed.

“You wouldn’t." The Doctor snapped back. 

“Then help me understand, Spaceman. I may not be a big bad Time Lord but I am human. This is my planet. I deserve to know!” Donna retorted angrily. She wasn’t an idiot, and he was a prat for treating her like one. She was starting to wonder why she’d ever agreed to this in the first place. Maybe she should have gone for a meet and greet with Brad after all. 

The Doctor sighed and turned to face her. His face was almost glowing in the burnt orange light of the sunset and Donna was reminded of just how non-human her companion was. 

“Everything in the universe dies, Donna. The Earth is no exception. It is beginning to die but humans, you clever little lot.”

“Oi!” Donna teased. “Enough of the ‘little’ Time Boy.”

“Humans survive and adapt. Right to the end of the universe. Further than any other species." The Doctor ignored her interruption but she saw his eyes twinkle with amusement. 

“Further than yours? The mighty Time Lords.” Donna laughed but the sound trailed off when she saw his eyes. They were suddenly cold, haunted, dead. “Sorry.” She mumbled quietly as she remembered he had told the Racnoss his planet was gone. Gallifrey he had called it. 

“Further than mine yes.” He agreed through gritted teeth. “Except me.”

“That’s how you knew she was the last.” Donna guessed.

“Takes one to know one." The Doctor turned back away for a second before spinning round with a new burst of energy. “But! Humanity! You’re brilliant! You just keep on going! Beyond the Earth! Those men in suits were trying to bundle off the Earthlings onto space ships and out into the colonies. You’re all over the place by now. I’ll show you someday” He grinned, leaving Donna with emotional whiplash. Apparently personal feelings weren’t a Time Lord’s strong point. 

“I’ll hold you to that, Spaceman.” She grinned back, hoping her fake smile looked half as convincing as his. “So you’re saying we can’t fix this because there’s nothing to fix. It’s just… meant to be?”

“Blimey you’re good. Exactly Donna!" The Doctor lunged back towards his coat and landed back one the sand next to her. “Fixed points. Universe is full of them. The Earth was never meant to survive forever, eventually the sun gets too hot and a few aliens gather to watch the Earth go boom. A very exclusive guest list so naturally, I had a front row seat.” He winked at her.

“Naturally.” She agreed. “Can we save them though?” 

“Who?" The Doctor tilted his head as he looked at her curiously. It reminded Donna of a puppy, she found it all quite endearing. 

“Carrie and Bethany?” She sighed. “They’ll drown.”

“They can leave the city anytime, Donna." The Doctor reminded her. “It’s their choice.”

“What if we took them back?” Donna asked. “It would still be London. Long before they were born so it wouldn’t be too dangerous would it?”

“Oh Donna Noble you are really truly brilliant." The Doctor pulled her into a sideways hug as they watched the sun sneaked closed to the edge of the horizon. 

“So we can?” She asked hopefully, deciding to ignore his lavish compliment this time. It really did seem she had to get used to that one. 

“Well, No.” He admitted and she swatted him over the back of the head. “They might end up being their own ancestors, paradoxes are nasty things. I try to avoid them.”

“But you said I was brilliant, you prawn!” She glowered at him. How dare he play with her emotions like that? Stupid, idiotic martian.

“You are!” He cried and pulled his hands up to defend himself. “Always trying to save everyone. Even complete strangers”

“Or lying cheating bastards that say they love you.” She added under her breath. 

To her surprise, the Doctor brushed his fingers along her cheek. Her heart beat a little faster in her chest and she suddenly found herself lost in those soft hazel eyes of his. “He didn’t deserve you, Donna. If I could go back and save you the pain I would but I can’t. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” 

“It’s ok.” She breathed, not quite trusting herself to say anything else or move an inch. It would be just her luck to do something stupid like try and kiss him. Romantic beach walk at sunset on the evening of her wedding, it was bound to cause some stupid emotions. Luckily his hand dropped back down to his side and he moved back slightly, putting some breathing room between them. She didn’t want to break any intergalactic laws on her first trip to the future thank you very much!

“It’s not ok, Donna. He hurt you. That’s not ok.” The storm was back in his eyes. Donna took his hand and squeezed it gently. Was it really only this morning they had met? So much had happened in that time. She’d been to the beginning of the Earth and now to almost the end of it, she’d failed at getting married and then had a mock wedding over looking London, which reminded her she was still wearing the bio-damp ring. She glanced down at their hands, the golden ring was glittering in the orange sunlight. She couldn’t help but smile. This morning really did feel like a lifetime ago. 

“You saved me Spaceman. That makes it ok.” She insisted, and she was right. Without Lance there would have been no Huon particles and no Doctor. There would be no Carrie and Bethany, not to her any way, no Tardis, no swirling clouds of dust and no jumping from a taxi on the motor way. She could have lived without the robot Santas but beggars can’t be choosers right?

He laughed and squeezed her hand. “Molto Bene.” He sang happily. 

“Molto Bene.” She agreed as the sun finally faded into the ocean. 

It was completely dark by the time they returned to the Tardis. To Donna’s great dismay and embarrassment she had fallen asleep on the Doctor’s shoulder whilst they were sitting on the beach. Apparently, he’d been wittering on about the perks and joys of humanity when he’d noticed she’d gone quiet, and according to him the last time that happened she’d disappeared, having been kidnapped by Santa,  so he’d realised something was wrong. 

Donna had only realised when she had been awoken by his hand gently shaking her shoulder and his voice whispering in her ear. She’d been completely disorientating and almost slapped him into the next millennia but her reactions were slower than usual due to the lack of sleep and he’d managed to dodge the attack. She had had to fight to stop him from carrying her to the Tardis. He had teased her about carrying her bridal style over the threshold on her wedding day which had been enough to wake her up and she raced into the Tardis before he could try. 

They were now wandering slowly towards her bedroom. The Doctor really wasn’t kidding about the size of the Tardis. It was huge. They’d been walking for about 5 minutes already and still hadn’t found it. She had a strange feeling that the Tardis had something to do with the delay. 

“So spaceman…” Donna said wearily. She still hadn’t quite woken up from the beach. 

“Yeah?” He tilted his head and stuff his hands in his pockets. 

“Why can’t I say ‘fork’? I mean… ‘fudge’. Oh for flips sake!” She scowled. “Shirt!” 

The Doctor barked out a laugh as she tried desperately to swear, getting more and more frustrated. “That’s the Tardis. Built in swear filter.” He explained.

“Bloody hell…” Donna sighed. “Oh I can say that one!”

“Yeah. Even I have limits." The Doctor admitted. “I tried to turn it off once It didn’t end well.”

“Oh yeah. What happened?” Donna sniggered at her alien friend.

“She made it so I could only speak Gallifreyan. No matter what language I was speaking. It all came out Gallifreyan." The Doctor scratched the back of his neck. “Not good when you’re the only one left who can understand it.”

Donna stifled a laugh with her her hand. “Not good for you. I can’t imagine you with no voice, or one that can’t be understood.”

“Oh Donna, It was the worst! And it only kicked in when I was trying to get into the court of Raxacoricofallapatorius to help them work out a treaty with the Zygons! One minute I was in full swing and then Bam!” He spun round quickly making Donna jump “Gallifreyan.”

“So you had to fix the swear filter.” Donna sighed. “You’re no fun!” She yelled at the ceiling. 

The Tardis grumbled in the back of her mind.

“She compromised and let me say bloody, and hell. I think bastard too." The Doctor rolled his eyes and sighed. “You’ll have to take it up with her. Maybe you’ll get stuck speaking Spanish?”

Donna sniggered. “Best not. I wouldn’t understand myself.” 

“Nothing new there then.” He teased and blocked her attack.


“Oi!” He yelled back with a smirk and fell back into a comfortable silence for a few minutes. “I’m sorry your first trip wasn’t everything you wanted." The Doctor rubbed his eyes wearily as they made their way through the endless corridors. 

“But it was what I needed.” Donna admitted. “I was exhausted before we even started Spaceman. I think running away from murderous aliens would have killed me… literally. I’ve always liked the beach.” She smiled fondly. It had reminded her of holidays down to Devon when she was a kid. Her dad always bought her a mint choc chip ice cream and a bag of chips covered in vinegar, not necessarily in that order. 

“Yeah? Not too boring for you then, Earth Girl?” She bumped his shoulder against hers and they both laughed. 

“Boring is good sometimes, Time Boy.” She shot back. “I feel like you don’t see boring enough.”

“Boring? me? Nah. Not a fan. Where’s the fun in that?” He grinned. “Oh look. Here we go. I’ll ask the Old Girl to move you next to the kitchen by the time you wake up. If need to change anything just ask her. I’ll be just along the corridor if you need me.”

Donna pushed the door open. It was beautiful. The sheets were the same dark purple as her room at home but the room itself was huge and the bed rose off the floor elegantly. It was like something from a romcom. She felt like royalty. She patted soft cream coloured walls fondly and whispered a quiet thank you to the Tardis. 

“It’s perfect thank you. Good night Spaceman.” She kissed his cheek before she could even realised what she was doing and then retreated into her room, hoping to God that he wouldn’t read too much into it. It was just a fond goodnight kiss on the cheek between friends. Right?

“Night Earth Girl.” She heard as she shut the door behind her. 

Donna Noble was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

Donna gasped as she woke up in her bedroom. Her nightmares were different tonight. Gone were the spiders and evil laugh of The Empress of the Racnoss, and it their place were visions of burning, fire and ash. Donna reached out to her bedside table to grab her glass of water. Her hands were shaking as she sipped the cool water. The lights came up in her bedroom slowly and she leaned back against her headboard. Whenever she closed her eyes she could see the mother of the young boy pulling him away from her and into the ash. There was so much screaming and the smell of sulphur was imprinted into her memory. 

She had killed thousands of people. Side by side with the Doctor they had saved the world but the price was so high. He’d been willing to make the choice by himself but that burden was too much for one person, even him. So they’d pushed the lever together. Together they had doomed thousands for the sake of the human race. 

At least she had managed to convince him to save Caecilius and his family. It wasn’t much, hell it wasn’t even enough but it was someone. One family that wouldn’t rip a hole in the fabric of time and destroy those pesky fixed points. One family that would live another day and spread the warning of volcanoes and the God Vulcan. Even in the worst situation the Doctor could always find time to save someone, she was glad she there to remind him, and for a moment there, she’d actually had fun. The market place was so intriguing and she now had an authentic purple Roman toga stashed in her wardrobe, and to see history up close and personal was brilliant! If they’d taught it in schools like that she might have actually listened properly. It was dull with all the text books and primary and secondary sources. Every history department should have a time machine, and a Time Lord to keep them from messing up the time lines.

“Donna?" The Doctor’s head poked around her doorway. He had changed into his blue suit from his brown one. Donna had been very disappointed to see that his rainbow suit collection was in fact only two suits and he didn’t seem very impressed by her idea of her a whole collection of colours. He’d wrinkled his nose in disgust and muttered something about rainbows not being his thing. “You ok? the Tardis said you felt distressed.”

“Yeah. Fine. Just a nightmare. I’m alright.” She took a sip of her water and pulled her duvet up to her chin. “Did you even sleep at all?”

“On and off.” He dismissed her with a wave of his hand. “Well, seeing as we’re both awake…” He trailed off with a hopeful glint in his eyes. 

Donna sighed. “Fine! Put the kettle on and I’ll go get dressed” She shooed him out of her room and then hoisted herself out of her bed. She glanced at her clock. She’d barely had five hours sleep. Bloody Time Lords. 

By the time she made it into the kitchen the Doctor had a steaming cup of tea ready and a heavily buttered crumpet on a plate ready for her. She took the golden yellow mug from him gratefully and cradled it in her hands. “Thanks.”

“Wait until you see what I’ve got planned for today." The Doctor grinned as he munched on his own crumpet. “A whole new world Donna!” 

“My first alien planet?” Donna beamed back. She’d been wondering when she would get to go to a new world. So far it had been a lot of Earth in different time zones, mostly overheating ones at that. 

“Yup!” He laughed.

“Better make it a good one, Spaceman.” Donna warned as she sipped her tea. “What about Mars, Martian?” 

“Donna!” He whined like a petulant child. “I’m not from Mars!”

“Do Martians even exist?” She queried. She’d be incredibly disappointed if they didn’t. 

The Doctor answered in some strange language she didn’t understand. It sounded almost Germanic but it wasn’t quite the same. He had a mischievous smirk on his face which told Donna he was messing with her. 

“What you on about?” Donna snapped back. 

“I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’, in Ancient North Martian.” He gloated. 

“You Prawn.” She rolled her eyes but secretly she was thrilled! Ancient North Martians. “What happened to the South Martians? And are there modern ones?” 

“No idea! We’ll go someday and find out!” He decided. 

“You’re on spaceman!” She agreed. 

“But I have something else planned for today. I think you’re gonna love it!” He spun round on his heels with a manic smile on his face that was infectious. 

Donna couldn’t wait!

Donna shrieked with giddy laughter as she was jostled around the console, watching the central column pump up and down. The engines of the Tardis roared around her. The Doctor had one foot pressed against a lever and the other one pushed against his stool. He was reaching over to spin one of the dials when he turned to flash her a manic toothy grin. Donna rolled her eyes and gave him a shove. He went sprawling back on the floor of the Tardis looking more than a little confused. Donna let out an excitable laugh before the Tardis jumped unexpectedly and she lost her own footing and landed unceremoniously on top of the Doctor. 

The Tardis chimed a laughter at the pair of them and they both glared up at the ceiling. 

“You did that on purpose!” Donna snapped. 

The Doctor chuckled below her reminding her of their current situation. She jumped up with a start. “Hands!” She yelled. 

“Oi! You landed on me!” The Doctor protested. “I’m the innocent one here.”

She laughed in disbelief. “You? Innocent? Don’t make me laugh Spaceman.”

The Tardis shook again throwing Donna back into the Doctor’s arms as he leapt up from the floor. He gave a dazzling smile as he steadied her. “See? This is all on you.”

Donna blinked up at him. He was stronger than he looked in that stupid blue suit. His hair was all tussled like some stupid leading man out of the movies and his eyes were actually twinkling. Donna had thought that was just some daft metaphor before she met the Doctor, and that stupid dazzling smile with his tongue pressed to the back of his teeth. God she wanted to snog that stupid dumb smile off his face…

But she wouldn’t. 

Because they were friends. Two friends off to see the universe. Just a couple of good mates. 

“You alright, Donna?” He tilted his head like a damn puppy. He was just as cute as one too, not that she would ever admit it. His ego was big enough already. 

She felt her cheeks flare brightly and pushed him back towards the Tardis console. It wasn’t hard but it allowed himself to be moved backwards. “Oi. Aren’t you supposed to be driving this thing?” 

The Doctor’s eyes went wide and he suddenly launched back towards the levers, buttons and keys of the console. “Thanks girl!” He called to the Tardis and his regained control of his ship, well as much control as he ever had. “She was keeping us stable whilst we were…” He trailed off with a sniff.

Donna wondered how that sentence was supposed to end. What had they been doing? Messing about really. Getting distracted. No matter how you said it, it sounded like they’d been up to something. Probably best to leave the sentence unfinished.

“Anyway! I’ve got a good one for you!” He grabbed the screens and spun them round so they could both look. There was a dusty brown looking planet spiralling on the screen. It looked so different from the watery planet she called home. How could anything survive without water?

“Alien planet!” She exclaimed happily. Her stomach was doing all sorts of flips and tricks as the anticipation built. 

“Oh yes!” The Doctor agreed as they landed with a bump. 

The engines stilled with a wheezing sound and the room stopped jostling them about. The Doctor typed furiously into the keyboard below the screens and the picture changed to a load of numbers and data. It was in English but it might as well have been Gallifreyan for all that Donna understood. The Doctor perused over the data for a second and then swept across the room to grab his coat that had been thrown across one of the pillars. Donna trailed her fingers along the pillars as she raced to join him by the doors. He wiggled his toes and raised his eyebrows with a cheeky smile. 

Donna took a deep breath and pulled the doors open. She stepped out onto her first alien planet with a strange sick feeling in her stomach and a thrill of excitement.

The sky was a burnt orange colour that streaked across the horizon. There were no clouds and no visible life forms other than themselves. The ground was yellow underfoot, a sandy greyish yellow rock. They could breathe which was the main thing. The Doctor said that humans had installed a forcefield and fake atmosphere a few centuries ago when they’d decided to transform the exquisite rocky terrain into a tourist hotspot. Bal-rimir, the planet that was home to the singing caves.

This one had been the Doctor’s pick. She’d only agreed because he’d looked so damned excited. All of time and space he’d promised her, and they’d ended up heading towards some dreary caves that might as well have been hidden away in the Brecon Beacons. Not exactly the alien planet she’d been dreaming of but it was still incredible. The gravity felt heavier underfoot and she had to make a conscious effort with every step she made to lift her foot off the ground. The Doctor didn’t seem to notice. He was bounding ahead like a kid a toy store as usual, long coat flapping out behind him. 

Donna grimaced at the dust cloud he was leaving behind him, it was a bit too similar to the ash of Pompeii for her liking. At least this time she wasn’t melting from the heat. For a change the temperature was actually quite cool, comfortably so, although the moisture in the hair was doing some crazy things to her hair. She’d have to ask the Doctor if he’d picked up any anti-humidity hair spray in his travels, which judging by the amount of hair product he used, he must have. That would certainly come in handy here. 

“This way Donna!” The Doctor called behind him with a little wave. 

He was practically shaking with excitement as he pointed towards a small building in the distance. She rolled her eyes and ran to catch up with her friend with smile. She had a strange feeling in her stomach, like excitement and nerves and the distinct need to scream at the top of her lungs. Was she going to feel like this every time they landed somewhere new? At least with Earth it was all familiar. History she’d learned about in books so she at least had an idea of what to expect and the future wasn’t all that different either, but this was alien, literally alien. What if she said something wrong and offended someone? Like when British people went to Japan and had to learn a whole new set of manners and etiquettes. Would it be ok to blink first without permission? What if she accidentally started a mating ritual with some alien species because she waved hello?

She voiced her concerns to the Doctor who just gave her an incredulous look and laughed. “Accidentally start a mating ritual?!” He sputtered between laughs. 

Donna put her hand on her hips and gave him her fiercest glare. “Well I don’t know do I?!” She snapped. “I’m new to this! Time Boy! Give me a break.”

And with that she stalked off towards the small building that now they were closer she realised was a little information hub.

“Ooh look! Little Shop!” The Doctor cried gleefully behind her and began to run again. As he flew past her he grabbed her hand and they ran the last hundred yards together, leaving Donna quite out of breath by the time they walk through the automatic doors. 

She really needed to work on her exercise routine with all this running she now had to do. She’d never been so fit and they’d barely been travelling together for a week. “We’re on an alien planet and you want to go to the gift shop?” Donna teased her friend. “What are you? five?”

“Nine hundred and two.” The Doctor replied with a toothy smile. 

“No!” Donna gaped at him. There was no way he was nine hundred and two. She had a feeling he was older than he looked, there was an ancient look in his eyes that told her that. Those eyes had seen far more than any thirty something man should have seen. She figured Time Lords just aged slower but she’d been thinking maybe late fifties or at most a century or two, but almost a millennium. She couldn’t quite believe it.

“Yup. Looking pretty good for it I think.” He winked at her and she ignored the way it made her heart race a little faster. 

“I’ve seen better.” She smirked at him and laughed when he gave her the most heartbroken expression.

“You don’t know anyone else over nine hundred years!” He protested. 

“Still seen better.”

“That’s a lie.” He glared at her.

“Can’t prove it, Spaceman.” She laughed at the affronted look on his face, he was gaping at her like a fish who was trying to breath on land. 

“But. What?!” He spluttered. 

“Oh come on!” She tugged his arm and pulled him towards the ticket booth. “Little shop.” She reminded him with a gentle smile. “And we’ve got those singing caves to see remember?”

They purchased their tickets from an adorable little robot who was manning the booth. Donna made sure to ask whether they were getting a proper salary which earned her a smile from the Time Lord. The robot beeped happily and confirmed that they were part of a union that protected their rights. It was less than a human would earn by a couple of credits an hour but it was still lightyears ahead of what she’d seen on Earth. They made sure to tip the robot, whose name was Var-ran, an extra couple of credits to make up for the inequality in the wages. Var-ran blessed them and gave them an extra map and a little shiny keyring for their troubles. Donna tried to refuse but Var-ran insisted and after that it was only polite to take it. Perhaps she could give the keyring to her gramps. It looked very much like a keyring you could get at the Natural History Museum, with a little holographic picture of the caves they were about to see. Donna could lie and say they’d visited some exotic caves in Brazil or something. Her mother would never know the difference. 

“The entrance is just straight through those doors.” Var-ran explained. “Please stick to the paths which will be lit at all times. If you require any assistance then you will find emergency buttons behind the blue lamps. The paths are regularly monitored by our highly skilled team of ranger robots but I assure you you will be perfectly safe.” 

The Doctor and Donna shared a look. That was never good, perfectly safe. Now something was bound to go wrong. “Did we need to take out any insurance for this?” Donna hissed at him under her breath. 

“Nooo.” The Doctor hissed back but Donna wasn’t convinced. “You heard old Var-ran here. Perfectly safe.”

“Doctor!” She poked him in the arm. “Just how big are these caves. It’s not like you can magic the Tardis around me anymore. I’m missing the Huon particles. I’m not about to get lost underground in some cave maze.”

“I won’t let anything happen to you I promise. Plus…” He paused and waved the map in her face. “I’ve got a map! We’ll be fine! Come on! Allons-y!”

Donna stared after him for a few seconds as he burst through the doors into the caves. She had a bad feeling about this. Var-ran had essentially said ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ and every movie ever told her you just did not tempt fate like that. Still she trusted her mad man, he’d saved her life enough times already. 

“Allons-y.” She whispered under her breath and pushed open the doors to join her friend. 

Donna was really starting to question her life choices. She could be in Morocco sunning herself and indulging in a little retail therapy. She’d bought a brand new sun dress for the occasion. It was soft, purple and flowed all the way down to her ankles, a bit of cleavage for a husband to appreciate but not too much, Donna Noble was still a classy woman thank you very much! She could have had a cosmopolitan in her hand as she relaxed by the pool, maybe a gin and tonic or three, but no. Not her. Nope. Instead, Donna was trudging in her walking boots behind a very excitable alien in the middle of a giant underground cave network.

“I’ve never been." The Doctor was saying. “I’ve always wanted to come though, I mean singing caves? Rock that sings! Can you imagine it?" The Doctor flashed her a toothy grin. Donna rolled her eyes but smiled back. His excitement was contagious, you couldn’t help but laugh along with him. He paused to let her catch up with him and held out his arm for her to hold which she did happily. 

Ok so maybe Morocco by herself was not as fun as damp alien caves with her new best friend. 

“I can’t hear any singing.” She admitted. Maybe it was a metaphor or some pun about acoustics. She remembered her music teacher always going on about the importance of acoustics in a performance space. She was starting to wish she’d paid more attention. “Just the sound of water.” She added. 

“You can’t?" The Doctor raised his eyebrow and tilted his head as he looked her. He scratched the back of his neck with his free hand. “No… I suppose you can’t.” He continued thoughtfully. The Doctor suddenly pulled away from Donna’s grasp and spun round in the narrow pathway in the cave. His coat flew out behind him as he spun. “Oooh look!” He cried giddily, pointing to something he’d spotted up ahead. 

Donna grinned to herself as he tore off sprinting down the corridor before running after him, wondering to herself whether she’d ever be able to keep up properly. Maybe she should ask the Tardis for a treadmill in her room, or those protein shakes that health nuts were obsessed with, training for this mad lifestyle she’d made her own. 

The Doctor paused as the corridor opened up into a spacious cavern. The tiny electric lights were hung all over the sandy yellow walls, like little fairy lights at Christmas. It was magical. Donna gasped as she caught up with her friend. In the middle of the cavern was a roaring waterfall which fell from a gaping hole in the ceiling. They were deep underground now and they had yet to meet any other tourists visiting the caves or the robot rangers that Var-ran had mentioned, knowing the Doctor he had probably managed to get them a private tour with that psychic paper stuff he liked to flash about. 

“It’s beautiful.” Donna whispered as she looked around. The soft yellow lighting was glittering as it bounced off the rocky walls, Donna could just about make out tiny crystals embedded in the rocks. It must have taken thousands of years to form. She wondered if the caves back on Earth were this beautiful, she couldn’t imagine that they were. They’d never looked this impressive whenever she watched National Geographic with her gramps. 

“Oh yes." The Doctor agreed. “The Singing Caves of Bal-rimir. The most beautiful and largest known cave network in the universe. When you lot arrived about… six centuries ago this was all completely untouched. The only people who would have seen this would have been professional potholers and potentially archaeologists if they had the right gear and training. People told fantastic tales of this. The caves were legendary so humans had to come have a look.”

The Doctor stopped to run his finger along the water trickling down the wall. He sniffed it and grimaced, then to Donna’s disgust, he licked the wall. He wrinkled his nose as he tried to process whatever he’d tasted on the rock. “Urgh!” He groaned.

“Do you always do that?” Donna asked as she wrinkled her own nose. 

“Do what?” He asked with an innocent expression on his face. 

She rolled her eyes and nudged his leg with her foot. “Lick things.”

“No." The Doctor shook his head. “Well, not all the time. You can learn a lot from the earth you know. Funny thing is humans never developed the taste for it.”

“Oh yeah, Spaceman, what have you learned from licking the weird space cave then?” Donna raised her eyebrow at him and smirked. 

“Well…” He tilted his head “Nothing exact. It’s wrong. I don’t know why. It’s just wrong.”

“All that superior martian knowledge and ‘wrong’ is all you’ve got.” She made quote marks with her fingers. He pouted at her before spinning round on his heels and marching to the centre of the cave. “So what’s that got to do with me not hearing any singing?”

“What?” He called back and she rolled her eyes. She was probably being drowned out by the sound of the waterfall. 

“I said, what’s that got to do with me not hearing any singing?” She yelled across at him. 

“Hmm… Oh… That. Just a theory. Nothing important. Come on then! Let’s try and find the Heart of the Caves! I got a map and everything!” He pulled the thin paper map from one of his pockets. It was stamped on the front with the Singing Cave Tours company logo and looked like one of those ordinance survey maps that you could never fold up again once you’d opened it. 

“Since when do you use a map?” Donna laughed.

“Biggest caves in the Universe. I’m not an idiot, Donna.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “In fact, I’m a genius.”

“Jury’s still out on that one, Sunshine.” Donna grinned and took his hand. “So… Heart of the Caves?”

“Heart of the Caves” He grinned. “Allons-y!” 

Donna’s stomach rumbled and her feet were killing her. She longed for her bed on board the Tardis and a pint of hot sweet tea. Maybe the Doctor had a spa room tucked away on the Tardis somewhere. She’d kill for a foot massage right about now. Even the Doctor had stopped talking about an hour ago and they were now plodding along in a comfortable silence, well, except the sound of her stomach going off sporadically. 

“Oi! Spaceman.” She broke the silence sharply. Her voice reverberated in the never-ending passages of the caves and even she winced as her ears adjusted to the sudden noice. 

“Blimey Donna… I’m right here. No need to shout." The Doctor hissed back as he rubbed his ears. 

“Sorry.” She gave him a sheepish smile. “You got any snacks in those trans dimensional pockets of yours?” She asked as her stomach gave another rumble, right on cue. 

“Umm… Yeah. Hold on” He stopped and passed her the map which was now damp, crumpled and barely legible. He stuck his tongue out as he dug around in the pockets of his trench coat. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and shoved it between his teeth then dropped a couple of weird looking coins on the floor, they glittered in the light from the yellow lamps on the walls. “Hmmph” He mumbled through the screwdriver in his mouth as he pulled out a banana.

“A banana…. in your pocket?” She raised an eyebrow at him and stifled a laugh. He gave an exasperated glare and spat the screwdriver into his other hand.

“Really?" The Doctor gave her a pointed look.

“What?” She giggled and tried to give him her best ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ look, a real picture of innocence. 

“You hungry or what?” He waved the banana in front of her face.

“For the banana in your pocket?” Donna couldn’t hold back her hysterics any more. She wrapped her arms around her stomach as it started to ache and tears welled up in her eyes as she laughed and laughed and laughed. Every time she managed to catch her breath she looked up at the Doctor and that just set her off again. He was doing his best to give her a ‘not angry just disappointed’ look but she could see the sparkle in his eyes.

“Just take the damn banana, Earth Girl.” He rolled his eyes but smiled fondly at her. 

“With pleasure, Spaceman.” She winked and grabbed the offending fruit. His eyes went comically wide and he blushed but before she could tease him about it he grabbed the overly large map back and studied it profusely. 

Donna munched on her banana happily. It wasn’t a lot but it did stop her stomach rumbling and give her an extra burst of energy. It tasted different to what she was used to. She wondered whether the Doctor had given her an alien banana. She examined the fruit. It looked like an Earth banana but it definitely tasted sweeter, more fruity. The Doctor was spinning the map round in circles and muttering under his breath.

“Hey Spaceman?” Donna said.

He looked up from the map. His cheeks were still pink from when she had been teasing him which made a smile. “Yeah?”

“Where’s this banana from? It tastes weird.” Donna waved the half eaten banana in his face. To her disgust the Doctor frowned and then took a bite. “Oi!” Donna snapped. 

The Doctor chewed thoughtfully and hummed. “I’d say Earth circa 1940s” 

“The 1940s? Why do you have bananas from the 1940s?” Donna asked in disbelief. 

“They taste better. 21st Century bananas are the worst.” He whined. “All got wiped out in the 50s.”

“So what you keep a stash of old bananas in the Tardis?” Donna raised an eyebrow. 


“You’re mad you are.” Donna laughed at her friend and finished off her snack, trying to ignore the fact the Doctor had just slobbered all over it. 

“You could even say that I’m completely bananas!" The Doctor grinned and shoved the map back into his pocket. It wasn’t folded up properly but it still managed to slip right in as if it were the size of a penny.

“That’s terrible. You’re terrible.” Donna marched away before he could make any more puns. 

“Oh come on Donna!” He called after her. “That was brilliant and you know it! You could even say it was… appealing? Get it? Peeling. Appealing. No?”

“I’m not talking to you, alien boy!” Donna called over her shoulder, he was trotting to keep up with her.

“And yet you are!” 

“Shut up!” She yelled in exasperation. 

The Doctor had his stethoscope pressed against the wall in the middle of the large cavern. He frowned as he muttered to himself and pushed his glasses back up his nose. Donna huffed. Why did he have to look so good in glasses? It just wasn’t fair. She probably looked like a right idiot in them, although that wasn’t much worse than her usual. She sighed as she looked around the giant cavern. It felt familiar. Donna was sure she’d seen the roomy cave before. The waterfall in the middle of the cave roared just like it had in the cavern before. The rock formations looked familiar too but she was sure they hadn’t walked in a long circle. It had felt roughly like a straight line and the path had veered downwards most of the way so they couldn’t possibly be back where they started. 

“So why can’t I hear it?” Donna asked the Doctor. He’d been complaining that the singing was getting louder and she still couldn’t hear it. She was half convinced he was making it up just to show off. 

“Dunno." The Doctor frowned as he listened to the rock.

“Yeah you do.” Donna raised an eyebrow. “What are you not telling me, Time Boy?” 

“Come have a listen!" The Doctor thrust the stethoscope towards her, ignoring her question. 

“Fine. Why do you carry this around with you anyway?” She asked as she put the ear buds in her ears. 

The Doctor pressed the end of the stethoscope to the rock wall and watched her intently. “Always need to be prepared, Donna. Anything?”


“Hmm…” He hummed and she handed the stethoscope back to him. He shoved it into his pocket and walked away from her as he pulled his glasses off and tucked them into his jacket.

Donna glared at her friend and crossed her arms. They were still no closer to the Heart of the Caves and he was hiding some from her. The lights on the walls began to flicker which spooked her a little bit so she ran to catch the Doctor up. He might be being an arse but he was still her ride out of these stupid caves. 

Donna was beginning to think that they’d never escape these damn caves. They’d stopped for a breather, partly because Donna had sat down and refused to move any further. Her feet were covered in blisters and she was tired. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d walked for so long without a break. She wondered if the space humans had thought about adding a campsite to these caves, or maybe a toilet and a restaurant. The Doctor hadn’t been able to find any sign of them on the map before he’d dropped it in a puddle and the whole thing had melted away. They were currently trying to navigate using the sonic screwdriver. The blue light glowed brightly as the lights around them dimmed but so far the device had proved to be a little useless, although whether it was the sonic or its owner was anyone’s guess. Donna was beginning to think it was the Doctor who was to blame.

“I’m just saying, Doctor. I recognised that last waterfall. It had the same stalactite with the weird spiral thing as the first cavern.” Donna moaned as she pulled off her shoes. Her socks were covered in blood from where her feet had rubbed against her shoes. “And every other damn cavern after that. We’re going round in circles!”

“That’s not possible! It’s just… not possible. I can feel the planet moving through space itself. I’d know if it were possible. The directions we’ve been going… we’re miles away." The Doctor winced as he saw the state of Donna’s feet. “Here let me.” He pulled out some bandages from his pocket and a couple of first aid wipes. Donna hissed as the chemicals stung in the wounds but the Doctor was careful and lived up to his name. Her feet were bandaged up in no time at all. He wrapped his long brown coat around her shoulders for extra comfort and sat next to her. “I’m sorry.”

“You owe me a beach, daft martian.” She rested her head on his shoulder. 

“The best in the galaxy.” He agreed. “Only the best for my Donna.” 

“Quite right.” She laughed. “Or we could always use my flights to Morocco?”

The Doctor huffed. “I have a Tardis, Donna, we don’t need plane tickets.”

“Yeah but I paid for them. Booked a lovely little hotel room too, overlooking the ocean. With any luck there won’t be anyone trying to kill us either.” She smiled up at him. He didn’t seem convinced. 

“Now, where’s the fun in that?” He smirked.

“We’re going eventually, time boy. I told Mum we were going, she’ll expect pictures.” Donna insisted. 

The Doctor didn’t respond, he just rubbed his temples and closed his eyes. He had a pained look on his face. Donna frowned and put her hand on his leg. He covered her hand with his own and leant his head back against the wall. 

“You ok?” Donna asked when he let out a long sigh.

“Of course.” He plastered a fake grin on his face but Donna had learnt to recognise his fake smile pretty quickly. She wondered how often it worked on those who didn’t know him, or on those who did. 

“Right. And I’m the Queen of England.” She bumped their shoulders together. “Is it the singing?”

“Just a headache. Nothing I can’t handle.” He assured her. 

“What’s causing it?” She asked as she quirked an eyebrow.

“Oh… you know. This and that.” He ran his hands through his hair and chuckled.

Donna had had enough. He was lying to her and she was so done with men like that in her life. “Doctor! If you can’t be honest with me I am taking the next Tardis back to Chiswick.”

He sighed and shook his head. “It’s a Time Lord thing.”

“So what? You scared I’m gonna run away? Look I don’t care if you’ve secretly got tentacles in your pants or wings hidden away in another dimension.” Donna snapped. 

“What?!" The Doctor looked disturbed by her suggestions. “Tentacles?!” 

“Oh I don’t know do I?!” She shot back. “You won’t tell me anything!”

“I’m a telepath.” He admitted, watching her reaction carefully. 

“What like the Tardis?” Donna asked. “You aren’t digging around in my head are you?” She stared at him in shock and stepped back cautiously. She’d had some…. awkward thoughts about their relationship, especially when they been on the beach, or when she’d landed on top of him in her wedding dress. 

The Doctor put his hands up in defence “No! no no. Not like the Tardis. Well… I’m psychically linked with her. It’s part of how I pilot her but no. I’m not in your head. Time Lords are touch telepaths. We can read minds, memories, dreams but it only works properly if we are touching. Otherwise, we’d have to create mental bonds to be able to communicate properly over distance.” He ran his hands through his hair and watched her take in what he had said.

“Mental bonds? What’s that then?” Donna asked curiously. 

“Something Time Lords do, did. Sort of like a marriage bond, and between parents and children.” He explained with a far-off look in his eyes. “That’s all gone now though. Just me.” 

“I’m sorry.” Donna said quietly and curled into his side as they sat against the wall. He put his arm around her shoulder to allow her to rest her head on his chest. She could hear his heart echoing in his chest. She paused as she listened closer. There was an echo. “You have two hearts?”

“Well… yeah. That too. Big old alien me.” He grinned. 

“But no tentacles?” She teased. 

He chuckled and hugged her tighter. “Nope. No wings either.”

“Anything else I should know? Mister mighty Time Lord?” She asked. She felt a happy kind of warmth in her chest. He was finally starting to open up to her. For someone who talked a lot she realised she still really didn’t know a lot about her travel companion. 

“Eventually but I think that’s enough to dump on you in one day don’t you think?” His chin rested on top of her head. 

“Oh alright, spaceman.” She conceded. It wasn’t perfect but it was a start. 

“It’s this way!” Donna insisted. They taken two right turns in a row and she was not going to take another one. They’d be going round in circles if they did.

“The sonic says it’s this way." The Doctor insisted, glaring at her and waving the infernal whirring blue device in her face. “So it’s this way!”

She batted it away and spun away from him. They’d reached a fork in the road and Donna’s gut was telling her to turn left. Every cell in her body was telling her to turn left and he just wasn’t listening to her! Men and their toys. She huffed and crossed her arms. “I’m going left!” She insisted stubbornly, not looking behind her at the Doctor. 

“Donna, we need to stick together." The Doctor sighed. 

“Excellent idea, alien boy. So we’re going my way.” She started to walk in her chosen direction but the Doctor grabbed her hand and spun her back to face her. 

“The sonic says to turn right.” He said firmly. “So we’re going right.”

“You’re not the one in charge here, mate!” Donna had half a mind to slap him. God he was infuriating! 

“Time Lord, Tardis? Yeah I am.” He tilted his head and glared at her. Oh well now. This was a familiar argument. He hadn’t won the first time and he wouldn’t win this time either.

Donna was furious. “Donna, Human, no!” She yelled back just as she had in Pompeii. “I’m going left!” She wrenched her hand away from his and stomped away from him. 

“Donna!” He called after her but there were no footsteps coming from the Time Lord. He wasn’t following her. 

Donna didn’t answer. She could feel her eyes welling up with tears. “Get a grip!” She hissed under her breath. She always did this, started crying when she got angry. It was the most frustrating thing. She finally heard the Doctor’s feet thudding against the rocky path but to Donna’s amazement his footsteps were getting quieter. 

He had turned right!

And he was obviously expecting her to give in and follow him but Donna was stubborn and she was also convinced that she was going the right way. She sped up and wrapped her arms around her waist. The caves were starting to get a little draughty. She should have worn a thicker coat, something with a hood too. She’d lost count of how many times water had dripped on her head from the ceiling. 

After a few minutes of walking in angry silence she reached a large open room with a waterfall pouring from a hole in the ceiling right in the middle of the room. To the left of it was a strange and familiar rock formation that spiralled down from the ceiling like a string of DNA, but that wasn’t the most incredible thing in the cavernous space. 

On the opposite side of the room, stood the Doctor. They both turned behind them to the passage they had just come from and then back to each other. 

“What?!" The Doctor called in shock but Donna didn’t have time for his befuddlement. 

Donna had a point to prove. “See!” She called back, pointing at the ceiling. “Weird spiral thingy! Come on Doctor, nature doesn’t make copies like that!” 

“But how?!" The Doctor asked again looking dumbstruck as he trotted over to her.

“I don’t know! You tell me! Alien planets are your speciality not mine!” Donna shouted back. 

The Doctor rubbed his temples and groaned. His eyes were squeezed shut and he had a pained look on his face. “You still can’t hear it?”

“Not a whisper. Doctor what’s going on?” Donna reached out and brushed his floppy fringe away from his eyes. 

“It’s so loud.” He hissed through gritted teeth and leant against the wall near Donna’s head. His hand caught on one of the lights and he pulled back with a yelp. A deep red scorch mark had brandished the palm of his hand. 

“How can I help?” Donna asked as she took his hand, inspecting the wound. He shook his head and pulled away. “Oh come on, you bandaged my feet. At least let me see, daft alien.” 

The burn was already beginning to blister and his hand was deep red in colour. It looked painful. Donna had never seen a lightbulb burn quite like it. The lights weren’t even that bright, in fact if she had to guess she would say they were getting dimmer. So why were they so hot? And why wasn’t there some kind of barrier to stop people getting hurt? And now, to top it all off, the Doctor’s headaches were getting worse. At first the singing had been a beautiful song that only he could hear but it was becoming stronger, louder, angrier. Neither of them could work out what it meant. 

He gave her a soft smile as she inspected his hand. She was caught for a moment in his eyes. For a man with such a young face, his eyes always seemed so old. They could be sparkling and childlike, even vulnerable at times but those eyes had seen more death and destruction than any other being in the universe. She returned his smile and blushed. 

“I don’t have any bandages or wipes.” She muttered apologetically. “Or paracetamol for your head. God I’m just useless aren’t I?” 

“Anything but. I feel better already.” He grinned widely. “Best temp nurse in Chiswick.”

She laughed at that and looked around the cavern. The large waterfall was still roaring in the centre of the roomy cave. It was definitely darker than when they first arrived and it was absolutely the same place, regardless how much the Doctor denied it. Donna was starting to wish she’d drawn tally marks on the walls each time they’d passed through. It was starting to get proper creepy in the caves. Less tourist hotspot and more psycho horror film. 

They’d been walking for hours and still hadn’t seen another living soul. She said as much to the Doctor who just stared at her like she was the messiah. 

“Oooh Donna! You are…”

“Don’t say it!” Donna tried to interrupt him.

“Brilliant! No you are! Absolutely brilliant!" The Doctor kissed her on the forehead and ran to the middle of the cave. “Come on then!” He shouted up to the ceiling. 

“Doctor, what are you talking about?” Donna yelled at him but he shushed her with a wave of his hands. 

“Come on!! You got us here! Heart of the Caves. We found on the first go didn’t we?" The Doctor spun round with his arms spread out wide. “But stupid me I didn’t notice. It didn’t match that map we got, ten minutes of walking was far too soon to reach the centre of the biggest cave network in the universe. So we walked away!” 

“You have got to be kidding me…” Donna hissed under her breath as she began to process the Doctor’s words. They’d be walking for what felt like days… and he was saying they’d been in the right place all along!

“So you sang louder! Big old telepathic alien walks in, first time in centuries that a person walked in who was on the right wavelength and we just ignored you! All the other creatures thought the song was a metaphor but not me. I could hear you. You couldn’t just let us… well… me, walk away. You’ve been changing the paths! Manipulating our journey so we aways ended back here, but I was thick! Not like Donna here, I didn’t even notice! Too busy trying to block out the noise in my head! So come on then! What do you want?!”

Donna’s head suddenly exploded with noise. She fell to her knees and grasped her temples in her hands. The sound was devastating.They were hurt. Whatever they were, they were in so much pain. Donna cried out as the emotions overcame her. The singing wouldn’t stop. Was this what the Doctor had been hearing this entire time? How had he ignored it? 

“Donna!" The Doctor almost tripped over his own feet as he scrambled to her side. She felt his heavy coat being draped over her shoulders and his fingers were pressing against her temples. “Shhhh. “ He whispered quietly. “I’ve got you. It’s ok.” The pain that seared at the back of her eyes eased off slightly but she could still hear the music. It was indescribable, perhaps a language so old that even the Tardis couldn’t translate it. “Let her go!" The Doctor ordered the voice. 

“Doctor….” She heard her voice speak. It was shaking and it almost felt like the words weren’t her own. 

Her head was filled with pictures, memories that weren’t her own. The caves were singing joyfully, a completely different song to what was pounding in her head now. It was beautiful. Oh it was so beautiful and there were visitors to the caves. Not very often but when they came the caves would sing to welcome them. They had climbing gear and picnics and once they had explored they would return back to their homes. Oh but the rocket had come. Humans, by the looks of it, Men in suits with drills and electricity. They built a little shop and a restaurant at the surface of the planet and they added a stream of lights along the caves’s passageways. They drilled into the rocks and threaded wires all the way through. The pain tore through Donna’s body and she screamed. It was like they were in her blood, in her soul. She wanted to scratch her skin and pull the pain away. 

“It’s ok Donna.” He kissed her forehead. “I’ll fix it.”

“Shut up spaceman and listen!” Donna snapped. His jaw dropped and he nodded dumbly. Apparently speechless, that was new. “They need help. The lights…” Donna hissed through gritted teeth. 

“The lights? What about the lights?" The Doctor asked. “Why didn’t it tell me this?” He added as an after thought.

“They did, but your superior Time Lord mind didn’t listen! Too many mental walls. You only heard the song, not the meaning.” Donna glared at him. “And you still aren’t listening!” Donna thought hard about the song she was hearing. The Doctor said he was a telepathic alien right? If she could just try and push what she was interpreting from the song to the Doctor… if he could just understand. The pain. They were in so much pain.

Wait. What had he said? Touch telepath? 

His fingers were on her temples still, trying to block the pain she supposed. She mirrored his pose and touched her own fingers to his temples and screamed in her mind. 

“Oooh… The lights!!!" The Doctor sprung up with his sonic screwdriver in his hand and pointed the device up at the ceiling. He whirred louder than she had even heard it before and the lights went out. 

Donna fell to the floor as the noise in her head went quiet. The pain subsided and she noticed her cheeks were damp and her palms were sore from where she had been digging in her nails. 

“Flipping hell…” She hissed as she passed out on the cold damp stone.

“Donna." The Doctor’s voice murmured in her ear. She groaned and tried to roll over. The daft alien better not be in her room again. She’d already told him personal boundaries were meant to be respected but he’d struggled with the idea. She wondered how often he’d just barged into Rose’s room before her, or any of his former companions. She got the feeling that she was only the last in a long line. “Come on sleepy head." The Doctor insisted and she felt his hand squeeze her arm. 

“Go away.” She whined and hid her head in her hair. She blinked her eyes open when she realised that her hair was damp. What the heck? She never went to bed with wet hair. It was a recipe for disaster, frizz that could be seen from space… or from Earth she supposed. 

“Can’t do that, Donna.” He laughed at her. Bloody cheek. She swatted the air with her hands and laughed when she heard him yelp. “Ow! What was that for?” 

“Waking me up. I need my beauty sleep.” Donna tried to sit up in the dark as she struggled to open her eyes. Why did her head hurt so much?

“Nonsense. You look lovely." The Doctor must have shuffled away because his voice seemed further away now. 

“Shut up Spaceman.” Donna paused as she blinked a couple of times. The room stayed dark. “It’s dark.” She said, feeling a tad daft. 

“Oh yeah. Sorry that was me." The Doctor laughed.

“Why?” Donna asked trying to remember what had happened before she decided to take a nap on what felt like a rock. 

A rock. 

The Singing Caves! 

The whole thing came flooding back to her right up to when she’d blacked out… pun intended. 

“The lights were drilled into the rock. Like they were hardwired into the central nervous system of the caves. The caves are alive Donna! It’s brilliant! The whole planet is alive, it is stunning. Simply a work of art! Molto Bene!” He sang happily.

“How’d you work that out then dumbo?” Donna grinned even though she knew that he couldn’t see her. 

“My best friend did all the hard work.” She felt his hand brush against hers and she linked their fingers easily. “No living soul in the caves. That’s what you said right?”

“Right. But I was wrong” She laughed at his ridiculousness although she felt all happy and warm inside when he called her his best friend. They’d only known each other a short time, about a week? It was hard to tell in the vortex, but already he thought of her as his best friend, her, a temp from Chiswick. It was madness. 

“Oh yes. Completely. But it gave me the idea. Connected the dots! There was no one else in the caves but us. So why could I hear the song singing in my head?”

“I don’t know. Why?” She laughed. Sometimes she felt like he needed a companion just so they could ask questions at the right times, or in her experience to yell at him when he was being a space dumbo. 

“Because we weren’t alone. The Singing Caves were just that, caves that could sing! Isn’t that brilliant?!" The Doctor was grinning. She couldn’t see him but she could just picture his face with that stupidly dazzling grin and his freckles and sparkling eyes. 

“They were in pain.” She stated. It was the one thing that was burnt into her memory. The pain. 

“Yeah. Well, humans. You do have a tendency to just barge in and take over, never stopping to think what or who you might hurt." The Doctor’s voice went cold and Donna almost shivered. He could still be terrifying when he got like this. 

“I’m sorry.” Donna whispered quietly. She knew deep down it wasn’t her fault but that didn’t make her feel any better. To her surprise she was pulled into a hug by the Doctor. Her face squished uncomfortably against his boney shoulder, the dark making it difficult to embrace properly. 

“It’s humans like you, Donna Noble, that make it all worth it.” His voice tickled in her ear and she wrapped her arms round what she was ninety-eight percent sure was his waist. 

“So…” She started with a hint of mischief in her voice. “How do we find our way back to the Tardis? I’m hoping we can take the quick route.” She paused as a thought struck her. “How did we keep ending up in the same chamber all over again?” 

“Oh that… The Caves were changing around us, moving the corridors so we always turned up where we were needed." The Doctor explained.

“Like Hogwarts?” Donna asked, thinking about the moving staircases in the fictional castle… well, she assumed it was fictional. She was starting to doubt a lot of things these days. Somehow, Hogwarts and magic didn’t seem so fantastical anymore. 

“Exactly. Oh hang on.” She felt him shuffle away from her and there was the noise of fabric ruffling before the cave lit up in a blue light. The Doctor was holding up the sonic screwdriver and grinning down at her like a kid on Christmas. “Much better. I can see you!”

Donna laughed and pretended to shield her eyes. “Urgh. Turn it off. It was better in the dark!”

“I’ll have you know I’ve been told I’m very handsome! One of my best I think.” He ruffled his hair and ran his tongue over his teeth before giving Donna a dazzling smile. Even in the dim blue light, Donna could make out his handsome features but she would never give him the pleasure of admitting it. 

“I’ll have you know that they must have been blind. You’re all ego and hair gel. Tardis?” She quipped. 

“Oh I don’t know if you deserve it." The Doctor nudged her and flipped the sonic in his hands causing the light to spin around the cave, moving the shadows ominously. 

“Get off.” She teased. “Come on last one back is on tea duty! Allons-y, Spaceman!” She scrambled to her feet and darted off away from the Doctor. The corridor was dark ahead of her but she was relying on the fact that the cave spirit, or whatever they were, would lead them straight to the exit now they’d destroyed the humans’s tourist trade. 

Luckily her hunch was right and she almost slammed straight into the door of the Tardis before the Doctor came barrelling after her. She squeaked in surprised as she felt his body push up against hers. 

“Oi!” She yelped and tried to wriggle away from him. His long arms reached around her, trapping her between his body and the Tardis, and slotted the Tardis key into the lock. 

They tumbled into the Tardis as the doors swung open and Donna face planted the floor, before the Doctor landed heavily on top of her. 

“Hello.” He grinned as she wriggled onto her back, which she quickly realised was a mistake as she found herself less than an inch away from his face. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her cheeks and she struggled to catch her breath. Those eyes were simply captivating. 

“Hands!” She shrieked, her customary defence mechanism, and he rolled off her laughing. She soon joined in and she could even feel the Tardis tittering in the back of her mind. It was good to be home. 

Donna sipped her tea. It was warm and sweet and the ultimate comfort drink. She hummed happily as she felt the warm liquid hit her stomach as she grasped onto her mug. It was one she’d picked out from the cupboards on one of her first mornings in the Tardis. It supposedly changed colour depending on what drink was in it. So far she’d worked out that a golden yellow meant hot tea, but it went a strange moss green if she forgot it and the tea went cold. Water was a crystal blue, Asgardian Mead was a plethora of colours, and ginger beer was, predictably bright orange. It clashed with her hair terribly. 

The Doctor was perched on top of the kitchen counter sipping his own tea. His mug was one of those novelty kinds that said ‘trust me, I’m a Doctor.’ When Donna had asked he’d said that a friend had gotten it for him. She wondered if it had been Rose or someone else but she left it. 

“So how come I could hear the singing at the end there?” Donna asked as she nibbled on a biscuit. They’d had cheesy pasta for dinner but she was still hungry, the amount of walking they’d done around the caves had really taken it out of her. So they were having some tea whilst they waited for the banana bread to finish baking. It was her grandmother’s recipe and miraculously the Doctor had managed to help her without getting flour everywhere. It was a feat that would probably not be repeated anytime soon. 

“Hmm… Dunno. Maybe once I opened my mind to the creature it was able to follow that link back to the Tardis and then onto you?" The Doctor pondered. 

“But why? You’re the brainy one.” Donna looked down at her tea not wanting to meet the Doctor’s eyes. 

“You know why." The Doctor replied in that ominous manner that he had managed to perfect over his nine hundred years of existing. 

“Do I?” She laughed, it was self-deprecating, she knew it was but old habits were hard to break. Even if the Doctor thought she was brilliant, that didn’t make it true. 

“I was being thick. I wasn’t listening, too busy trying to show off, trying to impress you." The Doctor admitted with a blush. 

Donna stared at him. He couldn’t mean that. He probably just meant impress her in the way all blokes like to show off their cars and money and high end jobs, not impress her in that way. Not in the flowers and chocolates kind of way. It was probably the tea making him flush. Right? She felt the Tardis laughing at her so she swatted the kitchen counter lightly and pushed her disapproval back at the ship. 

“You don’t need to impress me, Spaceman. You’re my best friend.” She repeated his words from earlier. 

“Yeah. I guess I am aren’t I?” He grinned as he took another sip of tea. 

Donna was about to shoot back her reply about him not getting too cocky when the oven timer started to beep. 

“Cake!” They shouted in unison and they both scrambled for the oven gloves. The Doctor’s mug skidded across the kitchen counter and Donna almost dropped hers on the floor in her haste to put it on the table. The both reached the oven gloves at the same time and laughter rang out through the Tardis. 

Chapter Text

Alarms were sounding in the console room of the Tardis. It had woken Donna up quite suddenly and she’d walked into both the corner of her bed, which she could feel was already starting to leave a bruise, and her bathroom door whilst she tried to get dressed enough to go find out what on Earth was going on. 

They’d spent a few days, or what felt like days, she wasn’t entirely sure, in the time vortex after the Caves. They’d both needed to recover from all the walking and the mental attacks of their last trip and the Doctor hadn’t been able to guarantee a relaxing trip outside of the Tardis so Donna had put her foot down. It was about time she got to explore the wonders of his mad ship after all. She’d barely seen past her room, the kitchen and the console room before the Caves. 

Donna’s favourite room so far was the library. She wasn’t the greatest reader in the world, she often got distracted before she could fully immerse herself into the book, but the room itself was beautiful. Unlike a lot of the Tardis, there was almost no real indications that she was on a space ship once she was inside. It was warm, with a soft fluffy Tardis blue carpet and dozens of bookshelves each one beautifully carved from a dark wood with intricate circular patterns engraved into the wood. Donna had noticed similar circles dotted around the console on post-it notes. She decided it must be some kind of language. The books themselves were a mess. There was absolutely no system to it all. Donna figured that the Doctor just added to it whenever he found a new book so they were probably newest to oldest going away from the door. In the centre of the library was a lavish reading area with an assortment of what were probably alien plants, and a roaring open fireplace. The fire never seemed to need any wood or attention and the room was never too hot. Donna poked it once with a tong to confirm it wasn’t a hologram and it crackled delightfully.

There was an assortment of old photographs on the mantlepiece of various people stood outside the Tardis. Donna had thought it was most curious. It was almost like a family photograph but there was no sign of the Doctor except in the last photo. The Doctor was stood outside the Tardis on a beautiful bright green lawn with a pretty blonde girl who she assumed was Rose. She was wearing similar clothes to the top she’d found when she first appeared in the console room. Rose was in another photo too, next to three men who Donna didn’t recognise. Rose was holding the arm of a slightly older man in a leather jacket with short hair, and next to him was an attractive brunet who Donna had thought looked very dishy indeed. On the other side of Rose was a younger black man who had his arm around her shoulder possessively, an old boyfriend maybe? The photo looked like it was taken in Cardiff of all places. Donna had supposed the Doctor must have been the one taking the photograph. The only thing that really linked the photos was the Tardis. She had made a mental note to ask the Doctor about it but it had slipped her mind every time she’d seen him. 

The library floor was also currently covered in books. Donna had decided that if she was going to stay with the Doctor forever, like she planned, then she couldn’t live with a library that was not organised. She wasn’t called Super Temp for no reason. The Tardis had helped her section off the bookshelves into different genres, now it was just a case of finding the right books for the right bookshelf. It wasn’t easy when the Doctor wouldn’t let her look at half the future books. Something about timelines and paradoxes, so she’d insisted he help her with those ones. Once she’d got the piles sorted then she could start alphabetising them. It was a slightly tedious job but it made her feel useful and gave her something to do on their days off from running for their lives and being trapped by sentient caves. 

It hadn’t taken long for the Doctor to get bored of mulling around the Tardis though. Soon enough they were back to the adventures. They’d been attacked by weird clone hands in Edinburgh that had apparently been gifted to Benjamin Franklin. The Doctor had teased Donna mercilessly about that one for days after. He kept creeping up on her in dark corridors of the Tardis and crawling his hand up her back, making her scream. He stopped once she managed to get her own back. The Tardis had helped her to sneak about unseen before she jumped out at him  with an armful of weird plastic hands she’d found in a box under the grates in the console room. He’d screamed like one those damsels in distress in a horror film, and then made her promise never to mention it again. 

After that they’d gone off hunting for the last Dodo, and in typical Doctor fashion had ended up in a museum full of almost extinct species. The owner collected the last of every species he could get his hand on, which had not been great for Mister Last of The Time Lords. Donna had tried to pretend she was a Time… Lady? She still hadn’t worked out what female Time Lord’s were called. He’d dodged the answer to that one. Her plan hadn’t worked though, they’d forced her into a chair and listened to her one singular heartbeat. Probably just as well, they might have tried to get them to make Time Babies otherwise. She wondered if the Doctor had ever ended up in a shag or die scenario… he must have… all that travelling and all those planets… 

Still. She was glad they’d avoiding it. It had just ended up with their traditional running for their lives scenario instead.

And talking of running for their lives… Donna’s head was ringing. That damned alarm was still blaring from the console room. Donna padded down the hall wearily as she pulled on her leather jacket. She hadn’t bothered with make up and she’d just thrown her hair up into a ponytail, she figured planet saving danger was probably worse than getting her make up done right. 

What do you need an alarm for in a time machine anyway? She pushed that thought angrily towards the Tardis. Couldn’t you just turn up at exactly the time you’re needed? No need for alarms. The Tardis responded by turning up the alarm and Donna had to cover her ears with her hands.

“Alright missus! Keep your hair on!” She glared up at the ceiling but patted the wall fondly. She hadn’t meant to upset the ship. It had been a genuine question. This whole relative time and space thing wasn’t easy to get her head around. 

“DONNA!!" The Doctor yelled from the console room.

“DOCTOR!!” She yelled back in the same tone and hurried along the corridor.

“HURRY UP WILL YOU?!” He yelled as she entered the room. “Ah there you are! Morning!” He grinned and passed her a steaming cup of tea before whizzing off around the console. 

Donna smiled fondly at him and blew on the steaming liquid before taking a sip. God he made good tea. “Thanks, spaceman. So what’s with all the racket?” 

“It’s my Earth alarm!” He smiled widely as he flipped a switch on the console before reaching up with his foot to push down on a button on the other side. 

“Your Earth alarm?” She raised her eyebrow at him.

“Yup!” He dashed to the left and spun some dial with strange circles on. The alarm turned off and Donna shook her head to try and clear the ringing in her ears. “Getting some strange readings from London. The atmospheric static electricity levels around central London are through the roof! See?” He spun one of the screen round so she could see. There were a series of lines darting across the screen with several obvious spikes but Donna had no clue what it meant. She swatted the screen back to face him and braced herself against the Tardis console as it suddenly gave a jolt. 

“Atmospheric static electricity levels? Oh you know what, never mind. What’s the plan?” She asked as he pulled a lever by her left hand. 

“Well I tried triangulating the spikes of energy and it seems to be converging… here.” He adjusted the screen and pointed to a map of London. “The Royal Hope Hospital and oooh look!” He typed furiously on his keyboard and the screen zoomed in. “Plasma coils! All around the hospital.”

“The Hospital? You think they’re doing some strange alien experiments in a London hospital?” Donna asked incredulously. 

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time…" The Doctor admitted and ran his hands through his hair. 

“Well isn’t that wizard.” Donna replied sarcastically. Her dad had visited the Royal Hope just before her wedding to get some blood tests done. Now the Doctor was telling her there was potentially alien activity in the hospital. Brilliant. Just Brilliant. “So you’re a Doctor. Just flash your thingy and say Doctor things.”

“Flash my thingy?" The Doctor quirked an eyebrow and smirked as he reached over her to pull a lever down slowly. The engine slowed as the Tardis landed. 

Donna blushed and hit his arm. “Shove off. You know what I meant.” 

“That could work.” He laughed but decided to let her off easy “but they might not tell me what’s going on if I do that. New Doctor in the hospital would cause too much fuss. Probably better to go undercover, pose as a patient maybe?” 

“What with your two hearts?” Donna rolled her eyes. For a genius he really could be a dumbass sometimes. “I’ll do it.”

“Well how do I get in?" The Doctor protested. 

“I don’t know! Say you’re my brother or something. Now what’s wrong with me?” Donna asked as she started making a mental list of reasons she could get into the hospital for more than a quick visit. 

“That’s a loaded question." The Doctor teased. Donna swatted his arm and raised an eyebrow at him. She didn’t have time for his nonsense. “Unexplained headaches in your temporal lobe? Maybe a dash of amnesia thrown in?” He suggested. “Doctor’s get scared with chest pains and brain stuff.”

“Brain stuff?” She teased. “Is that the technical term?” 

“Oh yes. Come on Donna! Allons-y!”

Martha Jones had had a strange morning. She’d almost been late for work when her first three sets of alarms didn’t go off properly and she had to scramble around her room like a mad woman to get ready in time. Not to mention having to act as a mediator for her entire family. She was training to be a medical doctor not a psychiatrist for Pete’s sake. Still, family. You can’t live without them. 

And then there had been the tie man. She briefly wondered whether she should call the police. He seemed a little unhinged, could he be a danger to himself? To others? It was just a tie though, it would be alright. She tried to put the incident out of her mind. He had probably just mistaken her for someone else. 

Oh and what was with that strange motorcyclist?

She shook her head. It was probably the weather making people act crazy. The closer she got to work, the darker the clouds got. She could practically feel the static electricity in the air by the time she walked through the doors. 

She knocked back the dregs of her coffee and headed towards her locker. She would probably need another steaming cup of coffee before noon, she’d been up too late the night before trying to study. It wasn’t easy training to be a doctor, not as a young black woman. The blokes in her class kept laughing and suggesting she should be a nurse instead, it didn’t matter that she was top of her class. It was a constant fight for recognition but Martha Jones had been playing doctors since she was a little girl, ever since she had broken her arm after falling off a swing, and she was not going to give up her dream because some arsehole was being a sexist pig. 

She yelped in pain as her fingers brushed the cool metal of her locker. The air lit up with a bright spark of electricity. That was strange. Normally static electricity could only really been seen in the dark. She remembered purposely taking off her big fluffy winter jumpers in the dark when she was younger. She loved to watch the fabric spark with little tiny blue specks of energy. It made her hair frizz up like mad, which always made her feel self conscious, but the excitement she felt, when she saw the sparks crackle into life, made it all worth it. In the hospital the electricity was a bright fork of energy between her fingers and the locker. 

“What the…?” she muttered to herself as she mentally added the incident onto her growing list of strange things to happen to her that morning. 

Salt deficiency. 

Of all the stupid things to mess up. Martha was mentally berating herself as she followed the group towards the next ward. Mr Stoker was still wittering on about the wonders of salt and Hippocrates. Martha wanted to listen to her tutor but God was he making it difficult. She was distracted by the sound of the elevator. When she turned to look she noticed the strange motorcyclist from earlier in the morning… and he had a friend? They were wearing completely matching outfits. Perhaps they had been on the way to some convention or something?

Mr Stoker pulled back the curtain of the bed to introduce their next patient and her husband. Martha stared at the man in shock. It was tie man! Why on Earth was he here? 

“Now then, Mrs Noble, a very good morning to you.” Mr Stoker was saying to the ginger patient lying on the bed but Martha couldn’t take her eyes off the man sat next to her. She narrowed her eyes as she tried to work out why he had run up to her earlier but he took no notice of her. It was like he didn’t even recognise her. 

“Oh you know.” Mrs Noble shrugged her shoulders and wrinkled her nose. “Not so bad. I’d be better if my husband.” She looked pointedly at the man next to her with a glare. “would stop talking my ear off.”  

“I’m just worried about you, Pumpkin.” The handsome brunet took Mrs Noble’s hand and placed a chase kiss on her palm. Martha almost felt like she should look away to give them some space. 

“Worry less, Spaceman.” Mrs Noble shot back grumpily. 

“Donna here was admitted yesterday due to severe headaches, dizzy spells and mild amnesia. Jones why can’t you see what you can find? Amaze me.” Mr Stoker continued his lesson. Martha looked up at the sound of her name. Finally! A second chance to impress him, to make up for her failure earlier, and maybe she could scope out what the deal with Mr Noble was. 

“She’s got you out on the coffee run this morning, Mr Noble?” Martha asked him as she pulled her stethoscope to her ears.

“I’m sorry what?” He raised an eyebrow at her and shared a look with his wife. 

“On Chancellor Street this morning? Came up to me and took your tie off?” Martha reminded him. 

Donna laughed. “Oh I wish. He’s been here all morning! Can’t even get him to leave me for the bog.” 

Martha blinked, but that was impossible. The man she’d seen was a spitting image of the man in front of her. He was wearing blue suit now instead of a brown one but it was definitely him. Even the long brown trench coat was the same. That was just fantastic. Another thing for her list.

“It’s because I just love you so much!” Mr Noble looked at Mrs Noble with complete devotion and a dopey grin on his face.

“Not as much as I love you, Sugar Pie.” Donna cooed back, equally besotted by her husband. Martha rolled her eyes and decided they must be honeymooning still. It was sickening.

“Must have been someone else.” She muttered as she checked Donna’s heart, nothing out of the ordinary but the redhead did wink at her husband. Martha assumed there was probably some weird in joke there. Martha got a small torch out and shone it into Donna’s eyes. She couldn’t see anything unusual, her pupils were dilating as they should. “Have you been eating properly, Mrs Noble?” Martha asked her patient as she remember Mr Stoker’s previous patient. It could explain the dizziness. 

“If you count copious amount of banana bread as properly. Then yes.” Donna smirked at her husband. 

“Love bananas! Full of potassium.” He grinned. “And Donna made shepherd’s pie two nights ago before the headaches started, not that she can remember it. Honestly, Miss Jones, her shepherd’s pie is to die for! Well, regenerate… Well, maybe get a stomach cramp. I’m rather fond of this face.” 

“John, Sugarplum. Shut up!” Donna cut him off sharply.

“Sorry, Pumpkin” He smiled sheepishly and then reached out to bop his wife on the nose affectionately. “Boop!” 

She looked a little startled by the action but soon regained her composure. “Did you just ‘boop’ me?” She narrowed her eyes at her husband but she was still smiling. 

“Yes I did! Boop!” Mr Noble did it again and Martha was starting to wish Mr Stoker had picked on another patient. These two were driving her insane. 

“Boop!” Donna retaliated. 

Martha suppressed a groan. She was dealing with children. If she’d wanted to specialise in paediatrics then she would have done. Luckily for everyone involved, Mr Stoker had had enough of his patient’s antics. 

“Well, Miss Jones? Any ideas?” Mr Stoker asked. Martha wracked her brains for the answer, any answer but she was put off by the Nobles. They were really peculiar. What on Earth was he talking about regeneration and faces for? and what did that have to do with shepherd’s pie? and could they please stop pawing at each other?!

“Umm… headaches?” She said dumbly. She knew it was a mistake as soon as the words left her lips. Headaches? really? Come on, Jones! You’re better than this!

“That is a symptom, not a diagnosis.” Mr Stoker sighed. Donna, however, gave her a comforting smile. She almost looked a little guilty? Martha smiled back. She quite liked this fierce woman. She almost felt like a kindred spirit. Martha got the feeling that Donna had spent just as much time as she had being looked down on and underestimated. “And you rather failed basic techniques by not consulting first with the patient’s charts.” Mr Stoker continued. 

Martha berated herself. Damn it! Was she ever going to get this right? Maybe everyone was right? Maybe she should have dropped out of med school.

“Hey.” Donna touched her arm softly. “It’s alright. You’re still learning.” She said softly and gave her a fond smile. She had a kind soul, Martha decided. Maybe what she could learn from this failed patient encounter was to always be kind. Be kind and check the damn chart!

Mr Stoker picked up the offending chart and dropped it almost immediately. Martha recognised the odd spark of electricity and admitted the same thing had happened to her this morning. The rest of the med students recounted similar experiences whilst Mr and Mrs Noble watched them raptly and before long Mr Noble was rambling on about Benjamin Franklin and how they were friends. He seemed like a bloody know it all, a mad one at that. Martha really should have called the police this morning when she seen him. There was something not quite right there. 

Poor Mrs Noble. He was probably the cause of all her headaches.

Martha Jones was more right that she could have imagined. Donna may not actually be suffering from severe headaches and amnesia but the Doctor was definitely enough to give her a migraine. 



The cheek of it.

She’d told him to tell the nurses they were brother and sister but did he listen to her? Noooo. Of course he didn’t, the idiotic Martian. What was with him and his insistence to tell hospital staff they were married? They were really starting to make a habit of this.

He’d marched right up to the receptionist and introduced them as Doctor Noble and Mrs Noble. She had wanted the ground to open up and swallow her whole but Donna was a survivor and three years of improv classes had prepared her for this. She shuffled closer to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, digging her fingers in between his ribs for good measure. She was delighted when he emitted a squeak at her action. Time Lords are still ticklish apparently. The whole thing had quickly developed into a game between them. The pet names got more and more ridiculous and the Doctor absolutely refused to leave her side. If it wasn’t so embarrassing then it would have been kind of sweet. Of course they had completely bamboozled Miss Jones, the young medical student. No wonder she couldn’t find any cause of the headaches, there weren’t any. Donna hoped that she hadn’t completely ruined the young girl's career. 

“Right. I’m going to have a look around. You coming?" The Doctor asked with a twinkle in his eyes. 

“I’m in my pyjamas!” Donna protested. 

“And you look lovely.” He replied and held out his hand, wriggling his fingers. “It’s getting worse. I can taste it in the air. It takes like…” He stuck his tongue out and tasted the air dramatically. “like fireworks? But less sooty” 

“Electricity tastes like fireworks?” Donna asked in disbelief. 

“That’s what I said now come on!” He grinned. 

Donna rolled her eyes as hauled herself off the bed. “I swear you make half this stuff up but alright, Doctor Noble.” She winked at him and took his head. “Allons-y!” 

They wandered around the corridors of the hospital. The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and scanned the air. He stared at the panel on the small device and scowled, putting the screwdriver in between his teeth and shoving his hands in his pockets. He pulled out a strange contraption that looked like it had been stuck together with duck tape, which it probably had, and stared as a little light flickered on and off. 

“Ooh… that’s not good." The Doctor muttered as he tucked his sonic back into his pocket. 

“Not good as in the world is ending or not good as in the chippy’s run out of vinegar for the chips?” Donna quipped as she watched him work. She always felt a bit useless when he started going on about the science stuff. She’d never managed to get to grips with all that at school. 

“Isn’t that the same thing?” He retorted with a toothy grin. They shared a laugh and then he went back to his space scanning thing. “Do you remember when I made it snow?”

“Basic atmospheric excitation?” She remembered. She may not understand the science but she was good with words. 

“Yeah. This isn’t that.” He shoved the device back in his pockets and shot off down the corridor. 

Donna considered chasing after him but she wasn’t really very useful when he started zapping stuff and talking genius. No. She’d let him get on with that. Donna decided to do her own investigation, super temp style. The Doctor was looking for aliens. Donna was looking for anomalies. She knew offices and this hospital wasn’t any different. If only she’d swiped the psychic paper from his pocket, she’d be able to get in and look at the files. She sighed and fiddled with the sleeves of her pyjamas. She’d just have to improvise. She wandered back in the opposite direction to the Doctor. 

All around her people were screaming, crying and holding each other close. Martha could feel her own heart pounding in her chest but she was a doctor, or least she was going to be, and doctors stayed calm in emergency situations. Someone should really tell that to every other doctor and nurse in the building. It was chaos inside. Everyone had gone mad. All except Doctor Noble. 

There was a certain irony about that. His wife was nowhere to be seen when he’d pulled back the curtain and asked her if she wanted to join him outside. It never even occurred to Martha to say no, and god lord was it beautiful. They were standing side by side on the balcony looking down at the Earth. Martha Jones on the moon. Tish would never believe it. 

Doctor Noble was evermore enigmatic and confusing. Half of what he said made no sense but she found that she trusted him. She liked his wife, and he gave off the vibe that he’d done this sort of thing before. He was probably a Doctor of astrophysics or something. He didn’t seem too concerned about his wife’s disappearance either, which was a little odd considering Donna had mentioned he’d barely left her side since they’d arrived at the hospital. He seemed like a sad man, a lonely man. He had definitely been happier when Donna was by his side. It was like she’d completed him in some way, if you believed in that sort of thing. 

They had oxygen which was the main thing but it was limited and running out. Martha knew it wouldn’t be long before people started to pass out and suffocate to death. Doctor Noble got this look in his eye. It was dark, sad and determined. Like he wanted to crush whoever had caused this suffering. Still, Martha was sure that as long as she survived today she would always be grateful for the view in front of her. It was terrifying but she wouldn’t give it up for the world. Who else could say they had stood on the moon without any spacesuits?

“Why would anyone do that?” Martha asked him as she thought about the amount of people in the hospital who would soon be choking to death. As she spoke the hospital began to shake again and there was a loud roaring that was almost deafening. 

Three huge spaceships flew directly overhead, causing an earthquake, or a moonquake? 

“Heads up! Ask them yourself.” Doctor Noble replied as they held on tight to the railings of the balcony. 

Martha’s mental list of strange things was starting to look more like a novel than a list. She wondered just how much stranger the day would get before a sense of normalcy returned. 

Donna was taking advantage of the chaos. The move to the moon had knocked out most of the security systems, keeping only the essentials online, so Donna was currently digging through medical records for patients at the hospital. It wasn’t the most ethical thing she’d done but then again she was pretty sure data protection laws didn’t exist on the moon so it wasn’t technically illegal right?

What was strange was a spike in blood transfusions in the hospital over the last couple of weeks. Patients that had appeared to be completely healthy had done 180s overnight and been at death’s door by the morning, looking pale and anaemic. There was no link between the patients, different blood types, different illnesses, different genders, races, sexuality. Some were married, some were single. It was old, and young. The only common factor was they had all needed an emergency blood transfusion. Half a dozen patients in the last two weeks. Not only that but there was missing records of blood being logged out of the blood banks. Donna didn’t need to be a doctor to realise that something fishy was going on. What was it? Some kind of alien vampire? Now she just had to try and work out who was causing it but there had been hundreds of thousands of patients that had been admitted since the spike. It would take her forever to work out on her own. She needed help.

The screen sparked and went blank. Something, or someone, had turned off the computers or locked her out.  

“Fudge!” Donna hissed. Now what was she going to do?

She hoped the Doctor was having more luck on his end working out why they had taken a surprise detour to the moon of all places. 

An alien.

Doctor Noble, wait no sorry, the Doctor, was an alien.

A real life alien. 

Martha was starting wonder whether she’d ever really woken up this morning. The Doctor was scanning the computer with what he had called a sonic screwdriver but wasn’t having much luck. He was still talking nonsense, sonic screwdrivers, laser spanners, Emmeline Pankhurst, but this time Martha was inclined to believe him. What a day! 

Suddenly he lashed out and gave the monitor a hard thump. “What is wrong with this computer?!” He yelled in frustration and ran his hands through his hair. The action made his hair stick up all over the place and he looked weirdly adorable. He was certainly very handsome. Donna was a lucky woman. 

“Oh that won’t work.” A new voice said. They both spun round to see Donna Noble leaning on the doorframe. The Doctor smiled brighter than the sun when he saw her and jumped up to give his wife a hug. 

“Donna!!” He picked her up and spun her around. Donna held on tightly to his neck and laughed at his actions. 

“Hey, love.” She kissed his cheek which caused the Doctor to blush. Definitely newly weds, Martha thought to herself. “I leave you on your own for two minutes and you’ve already replaced me with a younger model?” Donna stroked the Doctor’s cheek and winked at Martha, letting her know she wasn’t really mad with her husband.  

“I would never.” He promised with no hint of joking in his voice. Martha crossed her arms as she watched the couple interact. She had been right. They were good together. Already the Doctor seemed less distressed and distracted. “What do you mean that won’t work?”

“Someone’s shut down the computers. We’ve been locked out.” Donna replied with a grin. 

“Ooh you’ve been busy." The Doctor noted with a proud look on his face. “Oh the Judoon!”

“The what?” Donna asked him. 

“Space Rhino police.” Martha added trying to be helpful. “So what are they looking for?”

“Something that looks human but isn’t." The Doctor muttered through gritted teeth. 

“Oh wizard. Just what we need.” Donna hummed sarcastically. 

“Oh are you alien too?” Martha asked the redhead. She’d seemed human enough before but then so had the Doctor.

Donna laughed and shook her head.  “Nah. I leave all that to him. 100% human me. Sorry what was your name?” Donna asked her as she took the Doctor’s hand. 

“Martha. Martha Jones. You’re Donna Noble right?” Martha smiled at the older woman. 

“The one and only.” She turned to face the Doctor. “So, Buttercup, you’ll never guess what I found out.” 

Donna started explaining what she’d found on the computer before it had cut out. An increase in blood transfusions and deaths over the last couple of weeks, and apparently someone had been stealing blood bags from the banks. The Doctor had been thrilled by his wife’s work and started asking Martha if she’d noticed anyone with strange symptoms that had been admitted around that time. Martha couldn’t think of anything but Mr Stoker might know. Wanting to help, Martha suggested that she go and have a look for him whilst the Doctor and Donna tried to fix the computer to see if they could find the records. 

It was a long shot but they were running out of oxygen and Martha had a party to get to tonight. She wasn’t going to let space rhinos ruin it her brother’s birthday. 

The Doctor slammed the door shut and buzzed the sonic at the lock before hurrying Martha and Donna into the control room. Donna gasped as she tried to get her breath, Martha looked just as exhausted. They were both running on adrenaline. 

“When I say ‘now’ press the button!" The Doctor ordered before spinning round to zap the equipment with his sonic screwdriver. Donna looked to Martha expectantly. She was a medical student right? She would know what to do. These machines all looked like rocket ships to Donna. 

“I don’t know which one!” Martha exclaimed and Donna felt panic begin to bubble in her chest. This was not good. 

“Then find out!" The Doctor yelled back. Martha, ever sensible Martha reached for the operation manual and began scrambling through the pages looking for the answer. Donna was looking at the control panel trying to find some similarities between the printers she’d seen in the past and this complex looking x ray thing. There weren’t many. 

The Doctor was rushing around in the other room, crashing about and buzzing the screwdriver like his life depended on it which it probably did. Donna was not going to panic. She’d faced down the Racnoss, she could work out how to make an x ray work.

“Now!" The Doctor yelled. Martha looked at her with a panicked expression. She hadn’t found the right button in the manual. Donna took a deep breath and together they slammed down on the same big yellow button. The machine whirred into life and the Doctor aimed the machine at the leather wearing motorcyclist. Both aliens lit up and the Doctor’s skeleton shone through his body. Donna almost screamed. What on Tardis was he thinking?! She couldn’t lose him. Not now. Not after everything they’d been through. 

But he seemed ok. 

The daft alien was just staring down at the motorcyclist with a thoughtful look on his stupid freckled face. 

“Oi, Pookie” Donna yelled through the glass. He glanced up at them both with a cheeky smile. 

“What did you do?” Martha asked the question they were both thinking. 

“Increased the radiation by 5000%. Killed him dead." The Doctor turned back to the corpse on the floor with a serious expression on his face. His blue suit was ruffled around the collar. Donna imagine it was what it would look like if someone pulled him in by his lapels and snogged the living daylight out of him. Even his hair was looking sufficiently ruffled. Not that she wanted to kiss him, although he was posing as her husband so nobody would judge her if she did. 

“But isn’t that gonna kill you?” Martha sounded worried as she fussed around the room, putting the manual back in its place. 

“Nah. It’s only roentgen radiation.” He scrunched his nose and sniffed. “We used to play with roentgen bricks in the nursery.” He added thoughtfully. Donna was gonna kill him, never mind snogging the living daylights out of him. They’d just seen his skeleton and here he was showing off and reminiscing about the past! “It’s safe for you to come out. I’ve absorbed it all.”

Donna launched through the door faster than you could say roentgen radiation. She slapped him hard on the arm and glared fiercely at him. “Don’t pull tricks like that.” She hissed. 

“It’s perfectly safe for me, Love. Time Lord remember?” He rubbed his arm where she’d hit him. 

“Yeah yeah. You’re not invincible mister. I don’t know what kills you. Radiation might be one of those things!” She glared up at him, suddenly angry that he was so much taller than her. How was she supposed to intimidate him if he kept being so much taller than her. Stupid skinny streak of nothing. 

“Not like this. I just need to expel it before it does any damage.” He began to hop madly around the room. “Concentrate.” He murmured with a slightly pained look on his face. Donna glanced at Martha. She was circling the room staring at them both with a wondrous look her face, like she couldn’t quite believe what was going on. It reminded Donna of her aborted wedding day. She’d felt very much the same when she had first met the Doctor. The Doctor was rambling on about energy and shoes and hopping back and forth from one foot to another. 

It was mad even for him. 

“Itches, Itches Itches!” He cried as he flung his left foot about wildly. Donna wondered if all the Time Lords had been quite so crazy, or whether this behaviour was considered normal on Gallifrey. He pulled his shoe off as he yelped about in pain and flung it in the yellow bin. 

Donna and Martha shared a look of disbelief. Martha raised her eyebrow questioningly at Donna who shook her head. This wasn’t normal even for the Doctor. They both giggled at her spaceman and he wriggled his toes, looking ridiculously proud of himself. 

“You’re completely mad.” Martha said in between laughs. 

“You’re right. I look daft with one shoe." The Doctor agreed and proceeded to dump his other shoe in the bin. 

Donna looked around at the three of them. The Doctor who was now bare foot in his customary blue suit, her in her pyjamas and Martha Jones looking like the only sensible person in her lab coat. Donna got the giggles. Yes the entire hospital might be suffocating but you had to appreciate the small things. The Doctor soon crumbled and joined in in her fit of giggles whilst he tried to explain about the ‘slab’ on the floor, even Martha joined in their revelry.  Until the Doctor caught sight of something over her shoulder. 

“My sonic screwdriver!” He cried and leapt up to pull the thing from the x ray machine. It was completely burnt out and the Doctor was looking at it like it had just told him his parents were getting a divorce. “I love my sonic screwdriver.” He mumbled sadly staring at the ruined device. 

“Doctor?” Martha tried to get his attention but he was too busy mourning the loss of his precious device. “Doctor!” She tried again but it was no use. 

Donna rolled her eyes, cleared her throat and yell. “Oi!” 

His eyes snapped up and looked at them both. “Yes dear?” He quipped cheekily causing Donna’s cheeks to heat up. She’d almost forgotten about their cover story. Donna crossed her arms and gave him a pointed look. The Doctor tossed the broken sonic over his shoulder and apologised. It was time to work out what the hell was going on here. 

Donna tried to push the image of Mr Stoker’s cold lifeless body out of her mind. It had been horrible. His face had been ashen and grey. There was not an ounce of blood left in his body. Apparently Martha had caught one of the patients, Miss Finnegan, sucking out his blood with a straw. Donna suppressed a shudder. They’d been too late to save Mr Stoker, she just hoped that no one else would have to die today.

In the halls of the hospital people were sharing the oxygen tanks as they desperately tried to stay alive. Even Donna was starting to feel a little lightheaded. Apparently, when she’d told the nurses she’d been having dizzy spells she was telling the future, but the adrenaline kept her and Martha going. The Doctor wasn’t even showing signs of lack of oxygen. Stupid Time Lord’s and their stupid superior biology. 

It was a Plasmavore according to the Doctor and apparently an incredibly smart one at that. Just their luck. Running into the Judoon had been an unfortunate mishap, they’d identified the Doctor as non-human and once more they’d had to run for their lives. It was a nice change of pace to have Martha running by their side as well. Donna found she liked the young doctor-in-training’s company and it was good to not be the only person in the room that didn’t know what was going on. 

Screams interrupted the Doctor’s monologue as he tried to work out where the Plasmavore was headed. The Judoon came marching through the corridor which was bad news for the Doctor. 

“Find the non-human!” The Judoon roared. “Execute!” 

Blimey they weren’t a very merciful bunch were they? Donna looked up at her best friend hoping he had a plan. The Doctor scratched the back of his neck thoughtfully and then caught her eye. 

“I need more time…” He mumbled to himself and then spun round to face Donna. “Stay here, darling. I need you to hold them up!” He put his hands on her arms and smiled apologetically. 

“How? I’m not the genius here, Sweet Pea!” Donna retorted. Why was he so close to her? Was this part of their act?

“With this ring." The Doctor winked.

“I thee bio-damp” Donna recited, confused as to where he was going with this but before she could ask his lips were on hers. His tongue swiped across her lower lip and she opened her mouth to deepen the kiss. Holy cow she was right. He was a damn good kisser. Best snog she’d had in years. 

“Stay safe.” He whispered in her ear as he pulled away. 

“You too, Spaceman.” She smiled softly, trying desperately to ignore the way her heart was pounding in her chest. She hoped he hadn’t noticed. She’d blame it on the running if he asked about it later. She stroked his cheek gently and he leaned into the touch. They smiled at each other fondly before he darted off around the corridor. 

Donna watched him go, bare feet and all. Blimey she was going to have to watch her feelings carefully. This was starting to get out of control and neither of them needed that. It was all part of their cover story she told herself. 

“He really loves you.” Martha commented. Donna jumped. She’d forgotten that Martha was even there, she thought that sort of thing only happened in movies. 

“What? Oh… umm.. yeah.” Donna nodded. She had to agree. Martha still thought they were married. “He’s my best friend.” She added so it wasn’t a total lie. 

“Find the non-human!” The Judoon came barrelling through the doors. “Execute!” 

“I think they need a new catch phrase.” Donna muttered under a breath as she straightened her spine and prepared to face down the alien space rhinos. 

“You’re not wrong there.” Martha agreed and glanced behind them at the corridor the Doctor had run off through. “Hope he’s alright.” 

“He’s always alright. He’s got me to make sure of it.” Donna flashed her new friend a smile. It was what the Doctor would do. 

“Find the non-human! Execute!” They repeated again. 

“Hello!” Donna yelled, trying to get their attention. “Oi! Judoon! Over here!” She added with a wave of her hands. 

The Judoon came marching up, strong and merciless in their path. “We know who you’re looking for!” Martha joined in but in was no good. The Judoon were reaching for their scanners. Donna blinked as the blue light blinded her. 

“Human!” The Judoon who had scanned Martha declared. 

“She’s this woman. She calls herself Florence.” Martha continued desperately. 

“Human!” The second Judoon declared who had finished beeping Donna. What was it with aliens trying to beep her with shiny blue lights. At least the Doctor had done it to try and save her life. These Rhino’s were just pissing her off. “Wait! Non-human trace suspected!”

Crap! What the heck had the Doctor done to her? Was it the Tardis travelling? Residue Huon particles?

“Non-human element confirmed!” The Judoon continued. Martha was staring at her with wide eyes. Well wasn’t that just wizard! Now her friend was starting to think she was an alien too. The third Judoon had raised his weapon at her. It didn’t look like the scanners… more like a gun, and Donna had a feeling that he wouldn’t be afraid to use it. 

“Oi! Watch where you point that thing! You’ll have someone’s eye out!” She shouted hoping that she didn’t sound as terrified as she felt. 

“Authorise full scan!” The main Judoon announced and Donna closed her eyes, praying to God that she wasn’t about to die. The Doctor had told her to stay safe. He’d only just lost his friend Rose. Donna wasn’t sure he would cope with losing someone else so soon. Maybe he’d take Martha with him. He needed someone to make sure he was alright, someone to stop him. 

The Judoon pushed her back into wall and Donna felt like she was going to be sick. 

“Leave her alone! She’s not who you’re looking for!” Martha insisted but it was no use. 

“What are you? What are you?” The Judoon asked as he pushed the scanner against her throat. God did his breath stink! Donna wrinkled her nose in disgust and prayed that the Doctor was having a better time than she was.

Compensation her arse! Donna was livid! She basically been assaulted by a space rhino and all she’d gotten was a plastic thingy to make up for it. Oh she would be suing the intergalactic space force for this! The cheek of it!  Martha looked over her shoulder at the strange plastic wallet. 

“They could have at least given you Earth currency.” She muttered. “Come on we’ve got to find your husband before the Judoon turn him into dust!”

“You what?!” Donna shrieked.

“I saw it! The Judoon, they turned this man into dust. It was like he was burning from the inside out.” Martha yelled as they charged down the corridors after the Judoon. 

“Oh you have got to be kidding me!” Donna yelled back. Her lungs were beginning to burn. The oxygen was running out and there was only so long the adrenaline could keep them alive. She just hoped they found the Doctor in time to get back home. 

But they were too late. 

He was dead. The Judoon scanned it and confirm him as deceased. Donna wanted to cry. It wasn’t fair! They’d only just gotten started. They still had so much to see together, to do together. He was too good to die. The Earth needed him. She needed him. She sank to her knees, not able to muster the strength to fight the Judoon to see him. She was going to die on the moon. All of time and space and it was the moon that killed her. 

“Wizard…” She mumbled under her breath as tears rolled down her cheeks. The Doctor’s face was grey, not quite as bad as Mr Stoker’s, they must have interrupted Miss Finnegan’s feast. 

Martha was shouting something at the Judoon and she could see the room light up with familiar blue light but Donna’s head was ringing and black spots were starting to dance in her vision. 

Donna was running out of air and the Doctor was dead.

“All units withdraw!” The Judoon’s voice echoed around the whole hospital and the siren of the MRI was blaring in the background. 

The Doctor was lying pale and lifeless on the floor and for the first time since they’d arrived on the moon, Martha actually believed that she might not survive this. Running around with Doctor and Donna Noble had been incredible. It was dangerous, yes but she’d trusted them both to get the hospital back to Earth but now she was on her own and she didn’t know what to do. Donna was passed out, the grief had been too much for her and she’d succumbed to the lack of oxygen. It was probably a blessing. If she was unconscious her body would need less oxygen to function. She would be ok. 

Martha ignored the way the room was starting to spin and rushed after the platoon of Judoon. “You can’t go!” She cried helplessly. “That things gonna explode, and it’s your fault!” They ignored her and march on. She yelled in frustration and ran back to the Doctor and his wife. He was probably her only hope at stopping this thing and he was dead. 

"Oh come on Martha! You’re a doctor!” She said angrily to herself, she looked between Doctor Noble and Donna. “Sorry Donna, but I need him” She mumbled to the unconscious redhead. 

Martha desperately tried to do CPR on the Doctor but she was running out of breath. She wasn’t even sure it would work on him. He was an alien after all. Did aliens have CPR?



“Two hearts!” Martha exclaimed. Donna had mentioned it when they were running from the Judoon. That’s why she had checked in instead of the Doctor when they noticed something weird about the hospital. She tried the CPR again but she time she alternated between his right and left heart. “Come on, come on, come on! Donna will kill us both if you don’t make it!” 

The Doctor gasped back to life and Martha rolled over. The adrenaline subsided and her vision was beginning to black out. “Scanner!” She gasped, hoping it would be enough, before she fell unconscious. 

“Donna." The Doctor cooed in her ear. She groaned and swatted at the air. “You’re making a habit of this, Kitten.”  He was laughing at her, stupid space dunce.

Wait a second. He was laughing at her. That meant he was alive! Donna opened her eyes with a gasp. “Spaceman!” She was back in a hospital bed, still in her hospital pyjamas. There was a paramedic next to her, with what looked like an oxygen tank. The Doctor was on her other side holding her hand in his. He reached up with his other hand and brushed her fringe out of her eyes. 

“You’ve given Mr Noble quite a fright ma’am.” The paramedic teased gently with a kind smile. 

“Ma’am? How old do you think I am?!” Donna snapped before turning to the Doctor. “You were dead!”

“Yeah… just a temporary set back. Martha saved me.” He tilted his head thoughtfully. “She’s outside in an ambulance. Her sister was waiting for her.” 

“What happened?” Donna asked. Had she missed everything again? Why did she keep missing everything?

“Oh I’ll catch you up when we’re back home.” He glanced over at the paramedic. “It got a bit… complicated at the end there but we’re all safely back on Earth.” 

“I bloody love you!” Donna threw her arms round him and pulled him into a hug. She was emotionally exhausted. Seeing the Doctor’s body on the floor like that had taken more out of her than she realised. It felt good to hold him in her arms, remind herself that he really was here and he really was ok. 

“I should hope so.” He laughed. “You did marry me.” 

“Oh you prawn.” She rolled her eyes and batted him in the arm. “Home?” She asked, looking hopefully at the paramedic, Dan according to his name tag. 

“You’re free to go Mrs Noble. Just take it easy for a couple of days.” He nodded as he scribbled something on his clipboard and moved onto the next bed. 

The Doctor shrugged out of his coat and offered it to her. Donna looked down at her pyjamas and thanked him as she took the heavy garment. It was far too big for her but the weight was comforting. The Doctor held out his hand and Donna linked their fingers with practiced ease. They walked hand in hand back towards where they had parked the Tardis the night before. Golly that seemed liked a long time ago. Donna briefly wondered if she should drop in on her family whilst they were back on the planet but she decided turning up in her nightclothes and the Doctor’s coat would probably give off the wrong signal. She wasn’t ready to deal with her mother’s thoughts on that one. She’d probably think it was scandalous running off with the man she’d met at own wedding. 

To be honest. If Donna didn’t know they truth, she’d probably agree. 

They spotted Martha talking to what Donna assumed was her sister. They gave her a wave both pushing open the doors to their beloved time machine. The Tardis filled Donna’s mind the moment she walked across the threshold. She could feel the ships concern, feel her checking to see if either of them were hurt. Donna realised the ship must have felt it when the Doctor had died. The telepathic connection between the Time Lord and his ship must have been severed. 

“It’s alright, Sweetheart.” Donna murmured as she stroked the nearest coral pillar. “We’re alright." The Doctor was smiling at her as if she was the most important woman in the universe. Donna swallowed and felt her cheeks heat up under the intensity of his gaze. “What?” She asked him sharply. 

“Nothing.” He laughed. “Nothing at all. Right! Time vortex!” He pulled a lever down and the engines began to sing as the Tardis vanished from the Earth.

Donna sat down on one of the stools around the console and watched the Doctor pilot his ship. He muttered under his breath to the Tardis as he got them settled safely in the time vortex. Donna loved watching him drive the Tardis. The way his fingers danced over the various buttons, levers and dials on the console. When they were drifting like this it was always calm. He’d almost stroke each part of the Tardis with such care and devotion. He always looked so peaceful and happy when they were sat like this. It was beautiful to watch and Donna felt honoured that she was allowed to witness them both in moments like this. He looked up at the shining blue pillar at the centre of the console. It was pulsing slowly and the Doctor looked almost mesmerised, even after all this time. Donna smiled fondly at him as he looked across at her. She blushed and pulled his coat tighter around her body like a shield. 

“What?” He asked her. 

“Nothing.” She replied with a smirk, using his own words against him. “Just watching my husband work.” She stuck her tongue out at him. 

“Very funny Donna.” He rolled his eyes at her. 

“Hey, don’t blame me. You chose the story, Time Boy!” Donna shot back. “I suggested brother!”

“Husband was more believable.” He retorted.

“Oh yeah?” She raised her eyebrow at him. “Is that why you kissed me?” She challenged. The Doctor’s eyes went comically wide and he began to splutter. 

“What? No! no no.” He shook his head in protest and both his hands ended up tangled in his hair. “That was a genetic transfer!” 

“Relax, spaceman.” Donna laughed at her friend, ignoring the surge of disappointment. “I’m just teasing you.” 

“It saved thousands of lives!" The Doctor insisted. 

“You’re a good kisser but you’re not that good.” Donna managed to shoot back in between laughs. 

“Donna!" The Doctor protested. 

“Yes Pookie?” She smirked. 

“I hate you.” He grumbled and glared at her, his cheeks were bright red and his hair was a completely mess. 

“Is that why you kissed me?” Donna ducked as he threw a banana at her. 

The Doctor threw his hands up in frustration and the board went flying as the dice had just rolled a double one and the Doctor landed on the long snake again.

“Oi!” Donna cried. “I was winning!” Donna glared at her friend who just offered her a toothy smile. 

“Oh well. Guess we’ll never know for sure.” He shrugged and scrambled off the chair he had been squatting on like a gremlin. Donna rolled her eyes and got up off her own luxury arm chair. They ambled through the Tardis towards the kitchen. There was the delightful smell of lasagne and garlic bread permeating the air.

“Time Lords.” She said in the same tone he often used when he was being petty about humans. She peered into the oven. The lasagne was bubbling away nicely and the garlic bread was beginning to brown nicely. It would be ready soon anyway. 

“Oh that’s not fair.” He whined and nudged her out of the way. “Oooh I got a new sonic!” He stuck his tongue out as he rummaged through his pockets. “See!” He brandished the new device proudly.

It looked pretty much the same to Donna but she’d seen how upset he’d been when his previous one had been destroyed. She put her hand out and he passed her the screwdriver. She pretended to inspect it, like she knew what she was doing and then aimed it at a glass he’d left in the sink and pressed the button. The sonic whirred to life in her hands and the glass exploded. 

“Donna!” He yelled as they both ducked avoid the glass. 

“Yup. It works.” She grinned at him and passed the gadget back to him. He glared at her and pocketed it. 

“You’re cleaning that up!” He mumbled accusingly. 

“Well if you’d done your washing up like you were supposed to then it wouldn’t have happened.” She shot back. She’d been asking him to do the washing up for the last week. 

“I’ll take you home.” He warned but his eyes told her he was teasing. 

“No you won’t. I’m brilliant remember?” She laughed and his face turned all soft and fond. It made her heart do stupid things and there were all sorts of butterflies in her stomach. 

“Yeah you are.” He agreed soppily.  

The oven beeped and the Doctor pulled out their dinner. It was weirdly domestic seeing him using oven gloves to get food out of an oven. He’d done it a few times but normally Donna was left to do the domestic things around the Tardis. She got the feeling this sort of thing was all new for him. “Smells good.” She commented as she pulled some plates out of the cupboard. 

“I got this recipe from Antonio Latini" The Doctor grinned. “His tomato sauce is just out of this world.” 

The ate in silence for a few minutes. The Doctor wasn’t wrong, the tomato sauce was divine. Donna had to stop herself from moaning on her first mouthful. Who knew Time Lords made such good cooks. The garlic bread was pretty amazing too and one of Donna’s favourite food, much better than banana bread. 

“So…” Donna started to say around a mouth of garlic bread. “Martha saved your life today?”

The Doctor looked up at her, his fork halfway to his mouth. Donna had to suppress a giggle. The Time Lord had tomato sauce all round his face. “Yeah.” He agreed. “I suppose she did.” 

“She was pretty good in a crisis.” Donna continued, wondering when he would catch on. 

“I suppose she was." The Doctor raised an eyebrow at her. 

“We could use someone like her around more often.” Donna raised her own eyebrows in response. To her relief the daft alien finally cottoned on. 

“Oh…” He replied. “But I have you?” He asked.

“Well yeah, and it’s great. It really is. You know I love travelling with you.” Donna sighed and put down her fork. “I just she might like a trip in the Tardis. That’s all. I can’t imagine being left behind to just go on with life after the adventure we had to day. She’ll be changed by it, I promise you.” 

“Yeah. I suppose you’re right. My brilliant Bella Donna.” He reached out across the table and squeezed her hand. 

Neither of them had quite noticed that the Tardis had dimmed the lights slightly in the kitchen, making the room feel more like an expensive restaurant, and if Bella Notte played quietly in the background, then who was to blame. 

The Doctor was leaning on the corner of the street with Donna’s hand in his. He’d been doing that more and more since she’d move into the Tardis. At first it had just been when they were running for their lives but now it was really any time she was standing close enough for him to reach out to her. Donna had never had a friend that she’d felt so comfortable with so quickly. Certainly not a male friend. Perhaps it was because he was an alien. 

They watched as Martha’s family yelled and screamed at each other. Martha was desperately trying to keep the peace but it was too late. 

“Our little doctor to be." The Doctor whispered in her ear. “Always trying to mend what’s broken.”

Donna looked up at her friend. He had a sad sort of look on his face, the look he had when he was remembering something from before she’d met him. “A bit like you then.” She replied as she squeezed his hand. 

“Suppose.” He admitted. “Oh she’s seen us. Time to go.” 

Donna looked back to Martha. The Doctor was right. She was staring at the pair of them. Donna was just glad she was finally out of those pyjamas and back in her own clothes, a nice pair of jeans and a blouse with her brown leather coat to top it off. The Doctor had taken his own long coat back and swapped into his brown pinstriped suit. When Donna had questioned it he’d muttered something about maintaining the timelines. 

The Doctor pulled her back around the corner towards the Tardis. The deal was if Martha really wanted to join them on an adventure then she would follow them. If not then they’d head back off to the vortex and turn in for the night. It was Donna’s turn to choose the location and she was thinking something historical. Apart from her brief stint to the beginning of the Earth and Pompeii she hadn’t yet seen much of Earth’s history and she thought there wasn’t a better way to learn than to experience it. 

The Doctor sighed as he leant back on the wooden box and Donna counted down from five under her breath. She had no doubt that Martha would follow them. Donna knew exactly what it was like to be dazzled by the Doctor and she was certain Martha was already under his brilliant alien spell. 

“Is she coming?” Donna hissed as she strained to hear the sound of footstep. 

The Doctor smirked “Patience, Donna.” He teased. 

“Show off.” She muttered back and bumped her shoulder against his. He chuckled quietly and gave her hand a squeeze.

Sure enough Martha came running around the corner with sparkling eyes and a big smile on her face. Donna could barely contain her own smile. She remembered the excitement she felt when she’d stepped back onboard the Tardis after having decided to go with the Doctor. There was nothing quite like it. The beginning of a whole new adventure, fear of the unknown but complete faith in the wonderful man that was stood proudly by her side. 

“I went to the moon today.” Martha called out from a distant. Donna felt the Doctor preen by her side. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. He was such a show off. He’d staged this whole thing just to impress Martha when he could have just asked like a normal bloke. 

“Bit more peaceful than down here.” He remarked sarcastically. 

“Almost as bad as a Noble Christmas party. Less killer robot Santas” Donna added as she remembered her reception. 

“and killer Christmas trees." The Doctor agreed. 

Martha laughed at their antics and stepped closed. “You never even told me who you are?” 

"The Doctor.” He pointed to himself. “And Donna Noble. Not married by the way.”

“So not married.” Donna agreed. “Not even together.”

“Just friends." The Doctor added.

“Friends!” Donna nodded enthusiastically. 

“Ok.” Martha raised her eyebrows at them. “Ok… but what sort of species? It’s not every day I get  to ask that.” Martha looked a little perplexed by her own question. Donna remembered that feeling well. 

“I’m a Time Lord." The Doctor said sombrely. 

“Right…” Martha laughed. “Not pompous at all then?”

“Oh she’s good.” Donna teased her friend which earned her a mock glare from the Time Lord. 

“I just thought." The Doctor replied to Martha and Donna cleared her throat. Bloody cheek if he thought he was taking all the credit. “We just thought.” He amended. “That since you saved my life…”

“Thanks for that by the way.” Donna interrupted with a grin. 

“And I’ve got a brand new sonic screwdriver which needs road testing,” He got the screwdriver out of his jacket and flipped it in his hands to prove his point. This time Donna really did roll her eyes and she snatched the device out of his hands. “You might fancy a trip?” He turned to Donna with an angry look in his eyes. “Would you stop ruining my moment?” 

“In your dreams Time Boy.” She sang back happily and tucked the sonic back into his jacket pocket. “So… What do you think Miss Jones?”

“A trip into space?” She asked looking a little in disbelief that she was being given the chance. 

“Well…" The Doctor started to say but Martha cut him off and shook her head. 

“I can’t, I’ve got exams. I’ve got things to do! I’ve got to go into town first thing and pay the rent. I’ve got my family going mad!” Martha’s went wide when realised quite badly her night had gone. 

“If it helps…" The Doctor paused dramatically. “I can travel in time as well.” 

“Get out of here.” Martha tilted head and closed her eyes. Apparently the hospital on the moon was one thing but time travel was a step too far for the young med student. 

“He can.” Donna tried to reassure her but Martha was having none of it. 

“Come on now. That is going too far.” She stated, her belief not wavering an inch. Donna had to commend her for that. She knew what she believed and she stuck to it. 

“I’ll prove it." The Doctor said as he turn to go back into the Tardis. “Stay here.” He murmured to Donna, quiet enough so Martha wouldn’t be able to hear. “Back in a jiffy.” He reassured her with a squeeze of his hand before he dropped hers and went back inside. Donna wrapped her arms around her waist and went to stand next to Martha. 

“You’ll like this bit.” She whispered into the air as the Tardis started to dematerialise, fading into the time vortex.

It felt weird for Donna to be on the outside but she trusted the Doctor. She had to, and sure enough within seconds the Tardis had reappeared on the street. The wind whipped around Donna’s face and her hair flew into her eyes. God that man did have a flair for the dramatic. Martha gasped next to her and ran forward to the door of the box. She almost ran straight into the Doctor who reappeared in the door way holding his tie in his hands. 

“Told you!” He said smugly as he pulled the tie back around his neck and started to tuck it back into his jacket. The shirt collar was all crooked. Donna felt the urge to move and help it sort it out but she decided to let him have this moment. This was about Martha.

“No but…” Martha stuttered. "That was this morning! But, did you? Oh my god you can travel in time!” She gasped as the reality hit her but Martha was smart. She was instantly curious about why the Doctor hadn’t stopped her going to work that morning and he had to explain about timelines. Even Donna was starting to understand the basics. She realised that she would have been able to explain that even if the Doctor wasn’t there. She smiled to herself. She was getting good at this time travel lark. 

“Time and Relative Dimension in Space” Donna said with a grin after the Doctor introduced the Tardis. The Doctor gave her a proud look. They come a long way from when Donna had refused to believe the Tardis was even a real word. She chuckled at the memory. God she’d been a right cow to him when she’d turned up in his ship, and right when he was grieving Rose. It was a miracle he’d ever offered to let her travel with him. 

“Your spaceship’s made of wood” Martha stated as she touched the dark blue grain of the wooden box. Donna heard the Tardis’s protests in her mind. Apparently the old girl was a little bit sensitive about being compared to something so breakable as wood. “But there’s not much room.  We’d be a bit intimate.” 

Donna giggled at that mental image. The three of them squished into a space the size of an actual police box. Where would you even put the engines never mind the passengers. She shared an amused look with the Doctor and he kicked the door and gently with his converses. He nodded with his head to encourage Martha to go inside. 

“Take a look.” He said. His eyes sparkling as he watched to see her reaction. 

“Show off.” Donna hissed under her breath, hoping that his superior Time Lord hearing would pick up what she said. It did and he winked at her. 

“No no no” Martha cried from inside the Tardis, and the Doctor and Donna followed her inside. Donna had had the opposite reaction to the Tardis. She’d had the unique experience of seeing the inside first so she hadn’t quite believed the outside had been so small. Martha was making circuits around the box, just like Donna had. The Doctor was practically buzzing with energy. He was living for this reaction. Smug alien arsehole. Martha was still trying to get her head around the size of it. 

“Stop it.” Donna mouthed at the Doctor when she saw the smug look on his face as he scratched his neck. 

“What?” He mouthed back still grinning like a lunatic. 

“But it’s bigger on the inside!” She said at the same time as the Doctor mouthed the words. Donna huffed and gave him a disapproving look. 

“Is it?” He replied sarcastically. “I hadn’t noticed. Ow!”

He rubbed his arm from where Donna had slapped him. He was being a prick. Martha was excited and he was acting like an idiot. She raised her eyebrows at him and he responded with a tilt of his head and a smirk. He pulled off his coat and flung it over the coral pillar. Donna had to duck out of the way, ok maybe she’d deserved that one. 

“Right then! Let’s get going!” He replied, at last something they could agree on. It was time to head back to the time vortex and on to the next adventure. 

Chapter Text

Donna shrieked as her legs almost fell from underneath her. She was gripping onto the console as if her life depended on it. She almost hit her chin on the console as her legs slipped but the Doctor was there, hoisting her back upright before any damage could be down. 

“Donna. Press that button.” He pointed to a series of buttons by her left elbow. Her fingers hovered over the yellow one but before she could push it, the Doctor stopped her. “No! Not that one! The blue one!” 

Donna slammed her hand down on the blue one and laughed as she felt the adrenaline spike. Donna Noble, temp from Chiswick, driving a time machine! “Get in there!” 

“Brilliant Donna!” He winked at her and leapt back over to the winch near where Martha was standing. 

“But how do you travel in time?” Martha shouted over the sound of the engines. It was a valid question. One Donna hadn’t even thought of. She knew there were Huon particles in the heart of the Tardis. She’d had a crash course on that one, and she knew the Doctor used some kind of telepathic bond with his ship to help pilot her through space and time. Apparently it was some kind of symbiotic connection? Whatever that meant, but apart from that she had no idea how the Tardis worked. “What makes it go?”

The Doctor scowled at their new friend as he began to wind the winch on the Tardis console. “Oh, let's take the fun and mystery out of everything.” He said sarcastically. “Martha, you don't want to know. It just does.” He propped his foot up against the other side of the console and pushed a lever down with his toes. “Hold on tight!”

The Tardis jolted to a halt and Donna gripped tightly onto the console. She’d gotten pretty good at staying on her feet during landing. If only the Doctor could get better at landing. Martha, unfortunately, was not so lucky. The Doctor’s warning had not come soon enough for the young trainee doctor and she was flung backwards off the console. She landed heavily on her bottom with a yelp. 

Donna chided the Tardis mentally. The time machine hadn’t been particularly welcoming to the new girl in their lives.

Watch it Time Girl! She thought as she glanced up at the ceiling. 

The Tardis protested her innocence with a giggle but Donna wasn’t having it.

“Blimey. Do you have to pass a test to fly this thing?” Martha cried as she picked herself up off of the grating. She dusted down her jeans. The tumble hadn’t seem to have affected her good mood thankfully and her eyes were still twinkling with excitement.

“Yes, and he failed it.” Donna giggled. The Doctor looked wounded at her betrayal. He was still in ‘let’s show off and impress the new girl mode’.

“Oi!” He sniffed the air. “I don’t tell her all your dirty secrets!”

“Like you know them, Time Boy.” Donna quipped and then turned to Martha. “You alright?”

“Never better.” She laughed. “This is insane!”

“Now, make the most of it." The Doctor shouted over them as he ran to get his coat, taking control of the room like he always did. He sped past Donna and Martha towards the door of the Tardis, throwing Martha her jacket as he passed. “You only get one first trip. Outside this door… brave new world.” He was suppressing a grin and Donna could see the Time Lord was visible shaking with energy and excitement.

“Where are we?” Martha asked breathlessly. 

“Take a look.” He pulled the door open without turning round  “After you.”

Martha looked at Donna with a gleam in her eyes and then back towards the Doctor. She took a deep breath and stepped forward out into the world. 

Donna followed with a spring in her step. She loved this bit. It never got old. The tightness in her stomach, the thrill of something new, the creep of fear tingling down her spine and the Doctor’s hand in hers as she left the Tardis. 

Martha stopped dead in her tracks as she took in the scene in front of her. The ground under her feet was soft and squelchy, and all the people were dressed like peasants in a school production of Robin Hood. They had dirty faces and tattered clothes. There was no way that the Doctor and Donna could have faked this. It was too much. Even the air stank of sewage and body odour. 

“Oh, you are kidding me. You are so kidding me. Oh, my God, we did it!” She said gleefully “We travelled in time. Where are we?” She paused and waved her hands at the time travelling couple. “No, sorry. I got to get used to this whole new language. When are we?”

Before she could even finish her sentence the Doctor was pulling her back towards the Tardis doors. His hands wrapped protectively around her shoulders. Donna was right, the man had no sense of personal space!

“Mind out!” He cried and not a moment too soon.

She heard a clatter above her head and looked up. A man was emptying a bucket of nasty brown looking water out of the window. It spilled down right into the space where Martha had just been standing. She wrinkled her nose as the smell of sewage hit her. 

“Oi! Watch it matey!” Donna yelled up at the man with a fierce look in her eyes. 

”Somewhere before the invention of the toilet. Sorry about that." The Doctor scratched his neck and smiled sheepishly as he let her go. 

Martha looked at the ground where the toilet water was beginning to seep into the soil, leaving dark brown patches of faeces on the straw. “I’ve seen worse. I've worked the late night shift A and E.”  She admitted with a laugh. She was not about to be put off time travel by some human waste. She just didn’t want to tread in it if she could help it. Bringing back medieval biology matter to the 21st century was probably not a good idea. “But are we safe? I mean, can we move around and stuff?”  She kept her back pressed against the Tardis just incase the answer was no. Although judging by the way Donna was still arguing with Bucket Man, she was probably alright.

“Of course we can. Why do you ask?" The Doctor looked confused. 

“It's like in the films.” Martha insisted as she remembered The Butterfly Effect. She’d been to see that on a date in her first year in Med School. “You step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race.”

“Tell you what then, don't step on any butterflies." The Doctor raised an eyebrow. “What have butterflies ever done to you?” He asked with an offended frown.

“She’s got a point, spaceman!” Donna agreed as she swatted his arm. Donna was giving the Doctor a disappointed look. They appeared to communicate silently for a few seconds, like she’d seen them do at the hospital and then the Doctor sighed and nodded his head.  “I’ve seen it too. Ashton Kutcher, what a man!” Donna gave her a smile. 

Martha was grateful that she was here with her. She wasn’t sure she’d been able to cope with the Doctor’s funny moods without her friend to help. Donna was good at keeping him in line. “Oh yeah. He’s yummy!” Martha agreed and took Donna’s arm. 

“That’s all just humans messing with things they don’t understand." The Doctor insisted. “Timelines are more complicated than that. You step on a butterfly and there’s just a dead butterfly. The universe would adapt around it. You’re fine. And he’s not that great.” He pouted and sniffed the air, still scowling at the pair of them. If Martha had to guess she would say he was jealous. Now, that was interesting!

“Speak for yourself” Donna giggled. 

“What if, I don't know, what if I kill my grandfather?” Martha asked. That would be a big enough change in the timelines to change the future right?

The Doctor looked aghast at her suggestion. “Are you planning to?”


"Well, then.” He nodded at walked away from the Tardis. 

Martha followed with Donna, carefully avoiding any suspicious looking puddles. “And this is London?” Donna asked.

“I think so.” He said, looking around them at the dimly lit streets. He wrinkled his nose as he sniffed deeply. “Round about 1599”

Martha felt a wave of panic hit her as she realised she could be in very real danger. She dug her heels in and ground to a halt, grasping tightly on Donna’s arm. “Oh, but hold on. Am I all right? I'm not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?”

“Why would they do that?” Donna asked gently.

“Not exactly white, in case you haven't noticed.” She gestured at her face. It was all right for those two. Donna’s hair might be a bit unusual but it’s not like they had a ginger slave trade, and the Doctor just looked like an ordinary white bloke, albeit in a strange looking suit for the 1500s.

“I'm not even human!” He insisted. “Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me.” Martha raised her eyebrows at him, typical white man not understanding the trials that a black woman faced in the world. They were all the same. “Besides, you'd be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time. Look over there. They've got recycling.”

The Doctor pointed behind them to a man shovelling some manure covered straw into a bucket.

“Urgh it stinks.” Donna hissed. 

“Second that.” Martha agreed with a giggle. She felt like they were the naughty kids at the back of the classroom whispering and passing notes whilst the Doctor gave a lecture. Donna squeezed her arm and joined in with her own quiet laugh. They continued down the busy street, passing two  blokes having a chat at a barrel of water.

"Water cooler moment." The Doctor nodded.

Martha laughed. The Doctor did have a point. It seemed like humans never changed. It was sort of comforting to see that human nature was constant regardless of technology or science. The researchers at the psychology ward would have a field day if they could see all of this. 

“And the world will be consumed by flame!” A white man jumped in front of her and Donna, waving a book in their faces. Martha gasped and jumped back. 

“I’ll consume you in a minute buster.” Donna hissed under her breath as they dodged the man and continued to follow the Doctor.

“Oh look Donna, global warming!” He grinned at her friend. 

“Oh whoopee!” Donna retorted sarcastically. Martha looked between the pair, a bit confused.

“Oh, yes, and entertainment. Popular entertainment for the masses. If I'm right, we're just down the river by Southwark, right next to…" The Doctor paused and grabbed her hand, pulling both her and Donna along the rest of the street and around the corner. “Ah, yes, the Globe Theatre!” 

The street opened up giving them a brilliant view of the theatre. Martha stared in awe. She’d seen it in modern times. She’d even been to see Midsummer Night’s Dream with Tish for a birthday a couple of years ago but it was nothing like this. The Globe was almost glowing against the dark night sky, burning lights flickered in the windows and it was surrounded by thatched houses and lanterns. It gave the entire theatre a whole new look. 

“Brand new. Just opened. Through, strictly speaking, it's not a globe, it's a tetra-decagon. Fourteen sides. Containing…" The Doctor paused and faced them both with a childish grin.  "The man himself." The Doctor exclaimed giddily.

“Whoa, you don't mean. Is Shakespeare in there?” Martha was stunned. It was all so surreal! She’d studied Shakespeare at school. They’d taken a trip to Stratford and Anne Hathaway’s house and now the Doctor was saying the Bard was actually in the theatre. 

“No… Way!” Donna squealed. “I love Shakespeare!” 

“Oh yes!" The Doctor flashed them both a smiled and then held out him arms. Miss Noble, Miss Jones, will you accompany me to the theatre?”

“Why Mr Noble. I will” Martha teased her friends. They both blushed and very decidedly looked away from each other.

“Still not married.” Donna muttered but still latched on to his arm whilst Martha took the other.

“When you get home, you can tell everyone you've seen Shakespeare!” He said as the three of them strolled towards the grand building. 

“Then I could get sectioned!” Martha replied sarcastically. 

“Or worse, expelled.” Donna added with a laugh. 

The Doctor was sulking. He’d been rambling on about how great Shakespeare was with words and how the man was an utter genius before the bard had come out onstage and completely shattered that illusion. If Donna didn’t know better she’d say The Time Lord was heartbroken. He seemed completely disillusioned by the entire thing. 

“You see this is why I didn’t want to meet Brad Pitt.” Donna patted the pouting Time Lord’s arm as they shuffled out of the theatre. 

“This is completely different." The Doctor insisted. 

“How so?” Martha asked with genuine curiosity. 

“Well I don’t fancy the pants off Mr Shakespeare, unlike Donna here with Brad Pitt. God knows why. He’s not even that handsome." The Doctor grumbled. 

Donna faked a gasp and did her best ‘I’m so offended’ look. “You take that back!”

“What?!" The Doctor’s voice almost squeaked. “He’s not!”

“What and you are?” Donna shot back. “Look at you! Just a skinny streak of nothing! Brad’s got muscle and that jawline.” She pretended to swoon into the Doctor’s arms. He caught her like she weighed no more than a super model and gave her a wounded look. 

“I’m handsome, ruggedly so.” He insisted. 

“Ooh I prefer Orlando Bloom.” Martha joined the game of let’s tease the Doctor, much to his obvious dismay. 

“Or Johnny Depp!” Donna squealed in delight.

“I could be a pirate if I wanted to. I learnt how to sword fight from Long John Silver himself." The Doctor whined as he tripped down the rackety wooden steps. He yelped as he almost went arse over tits but managed to steady himself against the wall. Donna and Martha doubled over in hysterics as they followed him down the stairs. Once they reached the outside of the theatre, they had just about managed to catch their breaths. The Doctor stood watching them with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face, which only made them giggle even more. 

“Oh don’t be a tart. We’re just teasing you. You’re very pretty.” Donna pinched his cheeks and booped him on the nose. He scrunched his nose but seemed happy enough with the compliment. 

“Oh yes!” He winked and darted off into the streets of Elizabethan London. 

Donna rolled her eyes. He was like a child at times. She followed him at a slower pace with Martha by her side. The younger girl still seemed a little wary about the time travel. She was going to great lengths to avoid knocking into anyone on the crowded streets. She decided she should try and distract her friend. She should be enjoying this not worrying about some twat trying to cart her off to some mansion or whatever. 

“So… Miss Jones.” Donna sang mischievously. “Is there anyone special in your life?”

“What?!” Martha coughed as Donna’s question caught her off guard.

“You heard me!” Donna grinned at her friend. “What’s the gossip about Martha Jones? You’re a med student right?” 

“Umm yeah. I’ve got another year to go. God I should really be studying. I’ve got exams coming up soon.” Martha exclaimed as she buried her face in her hands. 

“Yeah and who else can say they have a time machine to make sure they have enough time to cram.” Donna pointed out. “So come on, what else is there to know?”

“Umm… Got my mum Francine, my sister Tish, and my brother Leo. My dad is around, but… well. You saw the end of that didn’t you?” Martha said.

“Yeah. Family. You gotta love em.” Donna agreed. “Nothing is ever good enough for my mum.” 

“Really?” Martha asked. She seemed a little stunned by that. “But what you and the Doctor do…. it’s incredible.” 

“She doesn’t exactly know the whole truth.” Donna admitted with a sad smile. 

“Right. And no, there’s no one special. I haven’t got the time. I tried dating but it never worked out.” Martha gave Donna a half smile. 

The rounded the corner back to near where the Tardis was. Donna could feel the tickle of the time machines consciousness in the back of her mind. The Doctor was wandering up ahead of them with his hands in his pockets, taking in the scenery and introducing himself to the townsfolk pleasantly. 

“So what’s the deal with you and him?” Martha nodded towards their alien friend. 

“Just mates.” Donna replied automatically with a frown. Everyone did seem to think there was something more, and the Doctor hadn’t helped with his fake married stunt back at the hospital. 

Martha laughed. “Well you had me fooled. The way he was doting on you at the hospital was very convincing.”

Donna blushed and gave a nervous laugh. “Oh God, he wouldn’t leave me alone!” She deflected with humour. “It was downright embarrassing.”

“And that kiss was really something.” Martha teased. 

She wasn’t wrong. Donna had been more than a little dazed after that, and she’d kissed a fair few people in her time. “Genetic transfer.” Donna replied, remembering what the Doctor had said. “He needed to buy time with the Judoon. It was nothing.”

Martha nodded slowly and Donna could tell she couldn’t quite believe what she was saying. “Right.” She said slowly. “What about the wedding ring?”

Donna gaped at her friend and clasped her hands together. The bio-damp ring was still glistening on her ring finger. She’d never quite been able to take it off and the Doctor had never asked for it back. Donna spluttered as she searched for a way to defend the piece of jewellery but luckily she was saved, once again, by the Doctor.

He came bounding up to them, effectively ending their conversation, with an impatient look of his face. He was bouncing from one foot to another with limitless energy. “Are you two coming or what?” He asked. “You can save the chinwag for later! Old Bill is waiting! Come on!” 

The Doctor grabbed her by the hand and pulled her towards a noisy sounding tavern. Donna squeaked in surprise at the sudden change of pace and she heard Martha chuckling behind her. 


Actual real life witches. 

Well, they’d yet to see a witch but the Doctor had definitely said it was witchcraft. The drowning had been a tad gruesome but Donna was quickly learning that death was something that haunted the Doctor like a ghost. She realised that she was almost becoming desensitised to it. She still grieved for those who had lost their lives and she still had to fight the nightmares once the darkness crept in after the day was done, but she was able to cope more in the moment. It didn’t completely immobilise her like it had when she’d watch Lance fall in to the pit. 

But still. Witches! That was bloody fantastic! Donna could not believe it, she thought as she followed the Doctor and the barmaid upstairs to the rooms. 

“Right here you are Doctor and Mrs Noble.” The barmaid said as she pushed a door open. “I’m sorry it’s our only room left. Miss Jones will have to sleep on the floor.” 

Donna Noble saw red. She could see the shocked hurt look on Martha’s face. Not only was yet another person assuming that she was married to the Doctor, they had the cheek to assume Martha would be the one on the floor!

“Oh we’re not…" The Doctor shook his head as he started their customary protests but Donna cut him off. 

“Why do you think Martha’s on the floor?!” Donna snapped at the barmaid. 

“I’m sorry Mrs Noble, it’s just… is that not they way in Freedonia?” The barmaid looked rightfully terrified of Donna’s sudden attack. She took a step back, her eyes wide and her face pale. 

“Donna it’s alright.” Martha touched her arm. “Someone has to sleep on the floor.”

“Right. Donna, love. It’s ok. I’m sure Martha can defend herself." The Doctor wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Not now.” He hissed in her ear. “This is lovely! Thank you!” He flashed the maid a big grin and pulled Donna into the room. Martha scurried in after her and he shut the door, jamming the lock with the sonic screwdriver. 

“The cheek of it!” Donna flailed her arms in the air. “Just because she looks different to us. That means she’s the one that sleeps on the floor!” 

“Donna." The Doctor tried to calm her down but she wasn’t having it.

 Donna was very defensive of her friends and she had been in more than one bar fight in the past in order to stop creepy blokes taking advantage of them. “It isn’t right!”

“No it’s not, but we need to keep a low profile." The Doctor held her arms to her chest to stop her from lashing out and hitting one of them accidentally. Blimey, he was definitely stronger than he looked. 

“And you never know, if she thought you were married. It would make sense for me to take the floor.” Martha added helpfully. 

“That’s bull-”

“A brilliant idea Martha!" The Doctor cut her off and clamped his hand over her mouth. “If there was room they would have given Martha her own room I’m sure.” 

Donna forced her body to relax as she glared at the Doctor. The three of them stood in silence for a moment. None of them believed their excuse but it made it bearable. When the Doctor didn’t immediately free her mouth, Donna decided to give him a taste of his own medicine and she licked him. It was tasted salty but otherwise pretty human. 

He squeaked and pulled his hand back. “Donna!” He grimaced as he looked down at his hand. 

Donna only had a seconds warning, when his eyes began to sparkle mischievously, before he launched himself at her. She tried to run away but it was too late. The Doctor wiped his hand down Donna’s cheek. It was damp and warm. Martha, had grabbed a pillow from the bed without either of them noticing and the Doctor yelped as the pillow landed on the back of his head. 

“Oh it is on!” He cried and scrambled to pick up the second pillow leaving Donna defenceless. 

She stared at them wide-eyed as she assessed the scene. The Doctor swung a pillow at Martha and feathers exploded from the worn out material. Martha screeched at she disappeared in a cloud of grey feathers. Donna saw Martha’s pillow drop out of her hand and she lunged for it. It would be her only chance to defend herself. She rolled as she landed on the floor and swiped up the pillow. The Doctor smirked at her as he prepared to swing again. 

“Hey!” Martha cried as she noticed Donna had stolen her weapon and she jumped up onto the bed, using the blankets as a shield. “Watch out for the candle!” Martha shouted, the voice of reason in the ever-growing chaos. The candle was flickering on the bedside table, a couple of feather had been singed when they’d floated too close but so far they were alright. 

The Doctor glanced over at the danger leaving his chest unguarded and Donna swung. She hit him squarely in the chest and he fell backwards, landing on the bed. “Oomph!” 

Donna giggled as she jumped up onto the bed, to join her friends. Both Martha and the Doctor were covered in feathers. The feathers in particular were sticking to the Doctor’s hair. Donna plopped down in between her friends and picked a feather from the Doctor’s hair. His cheeks were flushed red from the exertion and his eyes were twinkling in the candle light. Despite her earlier protests, Donna thought that he looked very handsome indeed. If not a little silly. 

“You’re a right state you are.” Donna beamed at her alien friend. 

“And you look lovely as ever, Mrs Noble.” He teased with a fond smile. 

“Oh stop it!” Donna swatted his arm and sat back on her ankles. It was a tight squeeze with the three of them on the bed. There definitely wouldn’t enough space for all three of them to lie down and get to sleep. Oh how she longed for her large king sized mattress on board the Tardis. It would definitely be better than this dank small room. 

"So, who's going where?” Martha asked, snapping Donna out of her thoughts. 

“Oh I don’t mind. I don’t sleep much anyway. You two take the bed." The Doctor jumped off the mattress and stood staring out of the window. 

Donna wanted to protest, not at sharing the bed with Martha, that was fine. She’d done it with friends all the time, sleeping that is. No funny business. Well, she didn’t make a habit of it at any rate, but the Doctor still needed sleep. She’d caught him drooling all over the Tardis console at least twice and had had to drag him to his bedroom by his coattails and force him to lie down. She had a theory that he too suffered from nightmares and consequently he tried to put off sleeping as much as possible, but she had yet to confirm it. It had never seemed like the right time to bring it up. 

“Wake me up after a few hours.” Donna insisted. “I’ll swap with you. I can kip on the chair for a bit.”

“Oh that’s not necessary." The Doctor tried to protest.

“Oh but it is. Even Time Lords need sleep, you daft Martian.” Donna crossed her arms and looked at him until he agreed. 

“I’m not from Mars.” He rolled his eyes. “But fine. I’ll swap with you after a few hours." The Doctor plopped into the arm chair and ran his hands through his hair with a sigh. His brain was obviously still trying to solve the puzzle of the witchcraft. 

Martha propped herself up in the bed as they each settled in to their designated sleeping space. “So, magic and stuff?” She said breaking the silence that had settled over the room. “That’s a surprise. It's all a little bit Harry Potter.”

“Wait till you read book seven. Oh, I cried." The Doctor smiled at the memory. Donna laughed, bloody time traveller. She wondered if he would let her sneak a peak at the book if she promised not to tell anyone. It was due to be released later that year anyway. 

“But is it real, though? I mean, witches, black magic and all that, it's real?” Martha asked. 

“Ooh yeah! I’d love to learn a few spells. It would be handy for dealing with the grabby hands down at the pub!” Donna replied gleefully. “Stupefy!” She mimicked casting a spell at the Doctor but he wasn’t very impressed.

He ruffled his hair, pulling at the roots “Course it isn’t!” He seemed offended by the idea.

“Well, how are we supposed to know?” Martha challenged him and Donna nodded. “I've only just started believing in time travel. Give me a break.” 

“Yeah. Don’t be an arse about it, Spaceman. Some of us are only human.” Donna added in defence of her friend. 

“Looks like witchcraft, but it isn’t…" The Doctor continued ignoring them both. Donna shared an exasperated look with Martha, apparently he’d gone into one of his Time Lords are superior moods. Donna was still trying to knock that one out of him. He really could be a prat at times. He pulled the collar of his long trench coat up to his nose as he stared thoughtfully at them both, lost in his own mind. 

“There’s such a thing as psychic energy, but a human couldn't channel it like that. Not without a generator the size of Taunton and I think we'd have spotted that.” He continued as he rubbed his eyes. Donna frowned as she tried to keep her own eyes open, now that they adrenaline was fading she was starting to feel tired but it was captivating watching the Doctor try and work through the puzzle. She didn’t want to miss it. Not this time.  “No, there's something I'm missing. Something really close, staring me right in the face and I can't see it!” 

The Doctor was getting frustrated but his voice was still soft and almost hypnotic. No wonder Donna was starting to drift off. She blinked a couple of times and tried to focus on her friend. Even Martha had sunk back onto the bed whilst he’d been talking. His voice must be having the same effect on her as well. Donna decided she was gonna have to ask him to record the next couple of chapters of the book she was reading, it would do wonders for her nightmares listening to him read just before bed. She could imagine him having far too much fun acting out all the voices…

And before she even realised Donna Noble had fallen asleep. 

The Doctor had continued thinking aloud for a few more minutes before he noticed the change of breathing in his companions. It was probably just as well they’d fallen asleep, he’d started thinking about how Rose would have noticed what he was missing, and that was a rabbit hole that he wasn’t ready to fall down just yet. He quietly padded across the room so he could blow out the little light that was next to Martha. 

Donna’s hair was catching beautifully in the candlelight. It almost looked like her hair was made of fire. She looked peaceful when she was sleeping, the Doctor had noticed that before. He found himself watching the slow rise and fall of her chest. When Donna Noble was asleep she finally stopped shouting at the world, and the Doctor could appreciate her beauty without the fear of getting caught. He brushed her fringe away from her face and kissed her forehead. 

“Goodnight, my Bella Donna.” He whispered quietly before blowing out the candle and returning to his corner of the room. 

Martha was pulled out of her dream about witches chasing rhinos around her local pub whilst her parents were screaming down the place. The Doctor had been jumping around on top of the bar barefoot and Donna had been pulling Martha away towards the door which looked suspiciously like the Tardis, but before they could enter the space ship she was woken up by screaming.

It sounded strangely like the screams her parents had been making in her dream.

The Doctor was already off his chair and charging from the room. Donna gasped awake and almost hit her in the face as she scrambled to get out of the bed. “Bloody Martian!” Donna groaned as she chased after the Doctor. Martha was not about to get left behind so she rolled out the bed, it was good practice for when she passed her doctor exams. She’d have to get used to waking up fast. 

The Doctor went straight to the body on the floor, and Donna crouched down beside him. The redhead let out a small gasp and clasped her hand over her mouth, tears already welling up in her eyes. Martha was more interested in the window. It was flung wide open and she could have sworn she heard a swooshing sound when they entered the room. 

To Martha’s utter surprise, there was a witch flying away. An actual cackling, riding a broomstick, probably had a black cat… witch. It was even a full moon. Martha pinched her arm to check she wasn’t still dreaming but she was definitely awake and that was definitely a witch.

“Doctor!” She called to her new alien friend who was still examining the body on the floor. 

He came rushing up to her, his suit all ruffled and his ties loose around his neck. “What did you see?” He asked.

“A witch.” Martha said with a shudder as she admitted it aloud. 

“Did she kill the barmaid?” Donna asked quietly.

“Dolly.” Shakespeare… The William Shakespeare… corrected. “Her name was Dolly.”

“Did that witch kill Dolly?” Donna asked again. She looked shaken and pale. It wasn’t the first time they’d seen a dead body with the Doctor but it never got any easier, Martha knew that much from her training as a doctor. 

The Doctor nodded sombrely. “Yeah, I think so. We’ll figure this out Donna, I promise. We’ll catch her and we will stop her, whatever her plan is. I will stop it." The Doctor said darkly. Martha couldn’t quite remember ever seeing him so serious. Certainly not when Donna was around. 

“Where did she go?” Martha asked. The witch had flown off into the moonlight. She could be anywhere by now unless the Doctor had some kind of witch finding device, maybe a pin? That’s what they used to use didn’t they?

“I don’t know." The Doctor muttered fiercely. “God why can’t I think?!” He tugged at his hair and spun around. 

“Because you’re running on fumes.” Donna interjected. “Wherever she’s gone, it’s late. We’ll find her tomorrow. We all need to rest. Even you Bill.” Donna added with a look at the playwright who they’d found napping at his desk. “Upstairs! All of you. Chop chop!”

“Donna, I really don’t think…”  The Doctor started to say.

“Now, Doctor!” The redhead snapped. 

“I’ll take the chair.” Martha added helpfully. She was spooked by the witch she’d seen out the window. She didn’t think she would sleep properly now. She was too wired, but Donna was not going to back down so she’d play along. 

“You can take Dolly’s bed.” Shakespeare suggested. “It’s morbid but she won’t be needing it.”

“Fine!" The Doctor agreed reluctantly, rubbing his eyes. “Fine but only until dawn and then we reconvene in here and try and figure out what these witches want. Got it?” 

Everyone nodded wearily and they shuffled off to their respective bedrooms. Martha tried not to think about the dead woman who had slept in her bed just the night before. 

Donna marched upstairs with the Doctor in tow. She was bloody tired, she never did well when her sleep was interrupted so sharply, and she was pretty sure the Doctor hadn’t slept at all yet. He may be Time Lord but he had dark circles around his eyes and his brain functions seemed to have been getting worse and worse ever since they’d arrived. He had probably been awake since the alarms had started blaring in the Tardis… if not before. Donna had at least managed to snooze in the hospital but even that felt like a week ago now. 

When they reached the bedroom Donna suddenly realised that she’d be sharing a bed with him. Her smart idea didn’t seem so smart now. She looked at the Doctor but he’d already pulled off his jacket and thrown it over the chair along with his tie. It was rare to see him looking so unkempt, and it was actually kind of sexy. Not that she’d ever tell him that. Donna decided that if the Doctor could ignore the fact this was definitely new territory for them, and really weird considering some maybe growing unwanted feelings on Donna’s side, then she could too. She pulled off her own jacket and shrugged it over the chair with his suit jacket and laid down on the bed, like she had with Martha before. As much as she tried to tell herself this was no different… it was. 

The Doctor practically fell into bed next to her with a loud flop. 

“You don’t snore do you?” Donna teased, trying to shake some of her nerves. 

“Course not. Time Lord’s don’t snore." The Doctor murmured. He rolled onto his side to face her. Donna couldn’t help but mirror him, it was strangely intimate. She wondered if he even realised. “I’m sorry, Donna.”

She was taken aback by his quiet admission. “What for?” She wanted to reach out to him, to run her fingers along his cheek, but she stayed still, her hands glued to her chest.

“This was supposed to be fun. I thought, William Shakespeare, what could go wrong? Fun adventure for Martha and some down time for us. I know all of our trips have ended badly. I never mean for things to go wrong. They just do." The Doctor’s eyes were pained and he looked genuinely distressed. 

Donna reached out and held his hand, ignoring the flutter in her chest. “They don’t end badly, we save people. We always do in the end, and this is fun. Chasing down witches in Elizabethan England with William Shakespeare… don’t get that in Chiswick.” She smiled gently. “It would be worse if you weren’t here to stop it. Half of London would probably be fried by The Racnoss, Those people in the hospital would most likely all be dead. I’d be spider food.”

“Nah… you’d have yelled her to death and probably swung that axe at her." The Doctor chuckled gently and squeezed her hand. “So not a total disaster then?”

“Oh it’s close.” She teased and booped his nose like he’d done to her in the hospital. His eyes went wide and he scrunched his nose in surprise. “But the best is yet to come.”

“And what’s that then?" The Doctor asked with a grin.

“Oh I don’t know. Probably a lot of running though, maybe some aliens trying to take over Earth, some grand speech about how you can help them find a better place and then a dramatic battle when they refuse followed by us saving the Earth… again.” She grinned back. Her eyes were beginning to ache and her eyelids felt heavy. 

The Doctor chuckled. “One day I’ll get a thank you for that.” 

“You tart…” Donna mumbled sleepily as she began to doze off. 

“Goodnight Donna." The Doctor whispered as he pressed a kissed to her hair. Donna thought that would have to tease him about that in the morning, if she could remember… she was too tired now and it was kind of nice.

“Night, spaceman…” 

Martha was in dire need of a shower. She was still wearing the clothes she had worn to her brother’s party the night before, before the Tardis, and the time travel and Love Labour’s Lost. She hadn’t even managed a proper wash and her teeth were starting to feel weird having not cleaned them. She hadn’t realised she was getting the authentic roleplaying version of time travel. She’d hoped that she’d still be able to have a hot shower, but with all the witches and meeting famous playwrights she just hadn’t had time. 

The Doctor had woken them all up at the crack of dawn. Donna had slowly padded out of their shared room looking as bad as Martha felt. She too was wearing her old clothes and she was tugging at her long red hair with a comb. She looked like she need a cup of coffee stat. 

Will looked as though he hadn’t slept a wink which was probably only slightly less than Martha had slept but it was a new day and at least the Doctor seemed to have perked up. He was their alien expert after all. They needed his brain power more than anyone else’s. 

They had finally worked out that The Globe was the key and after marching everyone to the famed theatre, the Doctor had spent less than five minutes there before deciding they needed to visit the architect instead and so they were off. The Doctor had pushed through the gates of the Globe theatre and back out towards the street with Donna hot on his heels. 

Martha wondered to herself if they were really just friends as they both claimed. They played the married act too well in her opinion. 

“So, tell me of Freedonia,” Will cut off her train of thought as he caught up to her.  “where women can be doctors, writers, actors.”

Martha smiled to herself. His tone was obviously flirty and the man wasn’t too bad on the eyes. William Shakespeare was flirting with her and she’d never be able to tell a soul. Who would believe her? She’d have to discuss it with Donna later, she would enjoy the gossip, but until then Martha Jones was going to make the most of it. You only got to flirt with historical figures once in a blue moon and this was the man that practically invented romance! “This country's ruled by a woman.” She shot back at the playwright with a smile.

“Ah, she's royal. That's God's business.” Shakespeare insisted. It made Martha glad that she’d been born in time for the 21st Century. It wasn’t perfect but it was a damn sight better than this. “Though you are a royal beauty.” Will added with a wink. 

Martha giggled, she couldn’t help it, but she was smart. She’d studied history and literature at school, she wouldn’t be known as Shakespeare’s mistress thank you very much. Flirting was one thing but she had to put some boundaries in place. “Whoa, Nelly. I know for a fact you've got a wife in the country.” 

“But Martha, this is Town.” Shakespeare quipped in a heavily seductive tone.

Neither of them hand noticed the Doctor and Donna had stopped in the street ahead of them. Donna had her hands on her hips and was smirking at the pair of them. The Doctor passed her something which she pocketed before he chastised them with an exasperated look on his face. “Come on. We can all have a good flirt later!” He snapped. 

But William Shakespeare was not done yet. He winked at the Doctor and turned his flirtatious smile onto the Time Lord. “Is that a promise, Doctor?” 

Martha huffed a surprised laugh. There’d been rumours but she’d thought that was just people grasping at straws! She’d never seriously believed that William Shakespeare could be bisexual… not that he probably even thought about it like that. Martha was pretty sure those terms didn’t even exist in Elizabethan England.

The Doctor seemed equally stunned. He looked between the two of them with a stoic look on his face. “Oh, fifty seven academics just punched the air. Now move!”

Martha shared a smile with the playwright and chased after the Doctor. This time Donna let the Doctor get ahead of her. “Nice catch!” She hissed at Martha as they ran through the streets towards Bedlam.

Martha was appalled. The conditions inside of Bedlam went against everything she knew as a medical student. She’d read about Bedlam and about the history of medicine but this was… this was torture. This was no way to cure the mind. There were people screaming in agony and begging to be let out of their cells. There were whips and metal clamps hung up on the walls. The Doctor had been vicious to the man in charge, and rightfully so. Martha could see how he earned his title. It wasn’t just planets he made better, he truly cared about people. 

The Doctor was crouched down in front of the architect. His eyes were cold and he suddenly looked a lot older than his years. It was as if those eyes had seen the creation of time itself… perhaps they had. Martha really didn’t know. Maybe Time Lords didn’t age like humans… they were certainly stronger. The Doctor had absorbed the radiation like it was nothing at all. It would have killed Martha and Donna on the spot. The Time Lord pressed his fingers to Peter’s temples and spoke very softly. 

“Peter, I'm the Doctor.” 

“What’s he doing?” She whispered to Donna, hoping she might know. She’d traveled with the Doctor before. The Doctor’s eyes flashed up to hers and his face looked like thunder. Martha clamped her mouth shut and took a deep breath. 

Donna gave her a small sad smile and mouthed something. It looked like she might have said "Tell you later” but it was hard to tell in the dark room. 

The Doctor refocused onto Peter’s face and continued to talk very softly. Almost like he was trying to hypnotise him.“Go into the past. One year ago. Let your mind go back. Back to when everything was fine and shining.” Martha felt that strange sensation of tiredness come over her that she’d felt last night before Dolly Bailey had been murdered. She blinked and focussed hard on what the Doctor was saying. Beside her Donna and Will had also gone very still and quiet. The only sound in the cell was the dulcet tones of the Doctor’s voice. “Everything that happened in this year since happened to somebody else. It was just a story. A Winter's Tale. Let go.” Streete began to fall backwards but the Doctor kept his hands cupped around Streete’s face.  “That's it. That's it, just let go.”

And gently the architect fell back into his cot, breathing heavily and watching the Doctor as if he was some sort of ghost. Peter Streete himself was a shadow of a human being. It made Martha feel sick inside. He must have been a genius to create the Globe but you would never know it now to look at him. His was ghastly pale, and his eyes were haunted and manic. He almost didn’t look human.

“Tell me the story, Peter. Tell me about the witches." The Doctor asked as he stood back up, towering over the sick man with a dark look on his face. 

“Witches spoke to Peter.” The man said, his hand were twitching and grasping at something in the air that they couldn’t see. Donna grabbed Martha’s hand tight. Martha looked at her friend, she looked distressed. There were tears shining, unfallen, in her eyes. Martha squeezed Donna’s hand and turned back to face the Doctor and Peter. “In the night, they whispered. They whispered. Got Peter to build the Globe to their design. Their design!” He snapped viciously. Martha wanted to look away but she just couldn’t bring herself to. It was like driving past an accident. You know you shouldn’t watch but you just have to know… you have to see.

“The fourteen walls. Always fourteen.” He continued.  Martha shared a look with Donna. It was fourteen again. Just like they’d said at The Globe. Peter giggled manically. It was hard to believe this man had once created one of the most famous theatres in the world. It was a tragedy. If only there was some way to help him. “When the work was done they snapped poor Peter's wits.”

“Where did Peter see the witches? Where in the city?" The Doctor asked but the man didn’t answer. He was too lost in his mind, in his story. The Doctor crouched down again, trying to get Peter’s attention. “Peter, tell me. You've got to tell me where were they?” He hissed frantically. 

“All Hallows Street.” He answer darkly, and for a moment there was clarity in his eyes. 

“Too many words.” A new voice said and the Doctor span around. Martha jumped. There was a witch standing directly behind the Doctor. How had they not seen her before?! There was no way she’d enter though the gates. It was magic!

“What the hell?!” Martha exclaimed in shock.

“How the hell did she get there?” Donna snapped at the same time, as she also jumped, squeezing Martha’s hand too tightly. 

“Just one touch of the heart.” The witch cackled, waving a finger in the air ominously.

“No!" The Doctor yelled but he was too late. 

The witch put her hand on Peter Streete’s chest and he screamed. The witch wailed as he died, like she was absorbing his power or something. Martha winced at the sound of the dying man’s last breaths. 

“Oh you are going to pay for that!” Donna shouted at the witch. She lurched forward but the Doctor flung out his hand and held her back. He shook his head at her and Donna narrowed her eyes at him but took a step back.

“Witch! I'm seeing a witch!” Shakespeare cried and pointed at the old hagged lady. He was handling the whole thing remarkably for an Elizabethan man who had no prior history with aliens or witchcraft. 

“Now, who would be next, hmm? Just one touch.” The witch cackled, it was straight out of every horror film Martha had seen that involved witches. She was starting to feel more than a little terrified. She took a step back towards the steel bars of the cell. She wanted to leave now. She wanted to go home!  “I'll stop your frantic hearts. Poor, fragile mortals.”

“Let us out! Let us out!” Martha turned and pulled at the bars. She prayed to God that someone would hear them. 

“That's not going to work. The whole building's shouting that." The Doctor said coldly. 

“Then do something!” Donna cried as she pulled Martha into a hug. 

Martha felt frozen in fear. All the bravery she’d felt on the moon before stepping out onto the balcony had vanished. She felt no better than a child. If only she could just use ‘Riddikulus’ and turn the witch into funny looking teddy bear or something. 

“Who will die first, hmm?” The witch sang eerily. 

“Well, if you're looking for volunteers." The Doctor stepped forward with his hands in his pockets. 

Martha felt her blood run cold. The Doctor couldn’t die! If he died then they were all dead, and even if she did miraculous survive then she’d be stuck! “No! Don't! She cried as he buried her face into Donna’s shoulder. 

“Don’t you dare!” Donna yelled at their friend. 

“Doctor, can you stop her?” She heard the playwright ask. 

“No mortal has power over me.” The witch hissed. 

“Oh, but there's a power in words." The Doctor shot back. “If I can find the right one. If I can just know you.”

“None on Earth has knowledge of us.” The witch gloated smugly.

“Then it's a good thing I'm here. Now think, think, think. Humanoid female, uses shapes and words to channel energy." The Doctor rambled, it was almost as if he was playing for time whilst he figured out the puzzled. For the first time since the witch appeared, Martha felt her fear start to fall away. The Doctor would get them out. How had she ever doubted him? “Ah! Fourteen!” He suddenly yelled and spun around in triumph. “That’s it! Fourteen! The fourteen stars of the Rexel planetary configuration! Creature, I name you Carrionite!”

Martha had to shield her eyes as the creature, witch, Carrionite, burst into light and disappeared and she screamed. The battle was over, but Martha had a feeling the war had only just begun.

Martha and Shakespeare had split off to go and stop the play, divide and conquer, which left Donna and the Doctor to search the old cottage that the witches called home. It was just like something out of the movies; old, dark and full of occult knick knacks. Donna had to keep reminded herself that she hadn’t stumbled onto the set of Harry Potter. 

What was interesting is the witch, Carrionite, whatever she was, had stopped her attempts to name Donna. She had started to point and weave poetry about her but fell silent before saying her name. She refused to say why but she had seemed very fixated on Donna’s back all of a sudden.

“What are you looking at?!” Donna snapped as she tried to see what the witch was looking at but there was nothing there. 

“The universe has other plans for you, Doctor Donna, and there is something on your back!” The witch hissed and then spun to face the Doctor. “And as for you, Sir Doctor. Fascinating. There is no name.”

“No wait a minute, Sabrina!” Donna cut her off. “What are you talking about ‘something on my back!’ There’s nothing there! and I’m not a Doctor. It’s Martha and this skinny string bean!” She gestured to the Doctor 

“Donna…" The Doctor said quietly and placed his hand on her arm. She glared at him and he shook his head. She snapped her mouth shut and turned her glare onto the Carrionite. She was a pretty thing but that only hid a blackened soul. She assumed this witch was the ring leader, like in that Stardust film, the head witch became younger and beautiful to trick the men into doing her bidding. 

“Why would a man hide his title in such despair?” The Carrionite pointed ominously towards the Doctor as if she were trying to figure him out. “Oh, but look. There's still one word with the power that aches.” 

“The naming won't work on me.” His voice was cold and unfeeling. 

It sent shivers down her spine, it was so unlike the man she’d fallen asleep next to the night before. That man had been open, vulnerable, even scared. Donna knew the Time Lord just wanted to see the wonders of the universe but the universe fought back. It was almost like the Doctor blamed himself for all the tragedy he had faced, but he wasn’t alone anymore. Donna would keep reminding him of that. 

“But your heart grows cold. The north wind blows and carries down the distant -”

“- Oi! That’s enough of that, Bellatrix!” Donna cut her off. “You’re playing with fire! Don’t you know witches get burnt at the stake?”

The Doctor’s eyes flashed towards her and she saw a hint of mirth playing in the stormy depths, there was even the beginnings of a small smile. Even though the Carrionite hadn’t finished her sentence they could both tell where the rhyme was leading and now he was all fire; raging through the room like a hurricane. 

He began to draw out the Carrionite’s plan. Donna wanted to slap the witch in her perfect pretty little face. She had taken advantage of Shakespeare’s grief and drawn power from the madness that could only come from a parent losing a child. Donna couldn’t even imagine what it must be like to lose a child but she had desperately wanted children, probably why she pushed Lance to marry her so quickly. 

“You think you’re clever do you? Playing with people’s emotions like that for your own gain?” Donna snapped. 

“Everyone serves a purpose, Donna Noble, you are no different.” The witch smirked.

“Oh yeah and what’s mine? Temp from Chiswick. Probably just sorting out the filing system at Harrods.” Donna glared at her. 

“You can’t see it can you?” The witch tilted her head and then looked to the Doctor. “Oh but you, you can.”

“See what?!” Donna yelled in exasperation. Stupid, dumb aliens! “See what Doctor?”

“I don’t know." The Doctor said cautiously, but he didn’t linger on the idea. He stared down at the Carrionite with fire burning in his eyes. “How many of you?”

“Just the three.” The witch turned to the window and looked out on the city below. “But the play tonight shall restore the rest. Then the human race will be purged as pestilence. And from this world we will lead the universe back into the old ways of blood and magic.”

“Yeah, that’s not happening, Elphaba!” Donna hissed and crossed her arms. Why did aliens always want to take over the Earth? It wasn’t that great and humans were doing a grand job of destroying it slowly, but at least it was their planet to destroy. Donna wasn’t too fond of the ‘blood and magic’ plan. Harry Potter magic had always fascinated her but not to the point of destroying the Earth. 

“She’s right, first you've got to get past me." The Doctor agreed and stared down at the witch.

“Oh, that should be a pleasure, considering my enemy has such a handsome shape.” The witch didn’t seem intimidated in the slightest. She pushed her beautiful face close to the Doctor’s. Donna’s stomach twisted, it looked like the Carrionite was about to kiss her Time Lord. 

The Doctor was unaffected by the sudden closeness which was curious because Donna had always found it quite easy to get him flustered, an innuendo here, a wink there and a flip of her hair, and he always blushed like a teenager on a first date. “Now, that's one form of magic that's definitely not going to work on me." The Doctor stood his ground as the Carrionite stroked her long fingers behind the nape of his neck and into his spiky brown hair. 

“Oh, we'll see.” She sang with a smirk. 

Donna noticed the tiny scissors in her hands too late. “Oi!” She yelled as the Witch cut a few strands of hair from the Doctor’s head and stepped back away from him quickly. 

The Doctor’s hand flung up to the back of his head. “What was that for? What did you do?”


“Well, give it back!” He yelled and lunged towards her but it was no use. The witch flew backwards out of the window, hovering a distance away in the air. 

“Well, that's just cheating." The Doctor pouted.

“Can the mighty Time Lords do that?” Donna teased him, earning a scowl from her best friend. 

“Behold, Doctor. Men to Carrionites are nothing but puppets.” The witch cackled, at least the movies got that bit right. She began to wind the Doctor’s hair around a tiny little voodoo doll. 

“That doesn’t look good.” Donna pointed out rather unhelpfully as she stared at the ground from the window then back up to the witch. She couldn’t see any wires or anything, and there was no obvious way that the witch was flying. “How’s she doing that? Some kind of air-bending? I thought you said magic wasn’t real? Power of words or something instead of numbers… but she didn’t say any words, Doctor?” Donna asked. 

“Now, you might call that magic" The Doctor pointed to the tiny little voodoo doll. “I'd call that a DNA replication module.” 

“Still doesn’t explain the flying.” Donna muttered. 

“What use is your science now?” The witch smirked and stabbed the doll with a pin.

The Doctor screamed and fell to the floor, grasping at his chest. The witch cackled and flew away as the windows slammed shut.

“Doctor!!” Donna ran to his side, scrapping her knees against the cold wooden floor. It stung but she ignored the pain, her priority was the Doctor. She had flashbacks to the hospital. The Doctor’s pale ashen face still against the tiled floor. The Judoon confirming that he was deceased. “Oh God. What do I do? I’m not a doctor?!” Donna cried in a panic.

“Oh Donna… I didn’t know you cared." The Doctor’s eyes opened and he smirked at her. “Thought I was just a skinny string bean!”

“I am gonna kill you!” Donna shrieked but hugged him as he tried to pull himself up onto his feet. 

“Ah!” He screamed and stumbled just as he managed to get upright. Donna managed to steady him but he was heavier than he looked. “I’ve only got one heart working!” He gasped, looking offended by the idea of it. “How do you people cope?!”

“Oi!” Donna hissed. “Watch it!”

“I've got to get the other one started. Hit me! Hit me on the chest!” He shouted as he clung onto her arm.

“With pleasure, Alien Boy!” Donna laughed and smacked him hard on the chest, it served him right for pretending to be dead.

“Gah!” He yelled in pain “Other side!”

“Oops. Sorry!” Donna shrugged and tried again on his left side. “Could have specified!”

“Now, on the back, on the back.” He fell onto his hands and knees so Donna could reach and Donna thumped him again hard. He bloody owed her for this!  “Left a bit!”

“Blimey. You’re demanding.” She teased and hit him again.

“Ah! Lovely! There we go. Badda boomba! Well, what are you standing there for?” He winked at her.

“Oh you are gonna get it, spaceman! Just you wait until we’re back on the Tardis!” Donna pretended to glare at him, but really she was relieved. She didn’t want a dead Time Lord on her hands.

 “Come on! The Globe!” He sprinted out of the room as if he hadn’t just suffered cardiac arrest, leaving Donna in the dust. Donna chased after him as the adrenaline began to spike in her body. She was starting to think adrenaline might end up being her main source of energy in her travels with the Doctor. 

Martha’s head was spinning. They’d failed at stopping the play. She couldn’t remember what had happened but she’d woken up next to Will off-stage to the Doctor staring furiously down at them both. They’d messed up big time. There were dark clouds over in the sky and bright pink lightning strikes thundering overhead. The screams of the audience tore through the air and Martha was instantly transported back to the moon. It didn’t matter what era of time you were in, the terror in the screams of those who truly believed they were about to die never changed. 

Donna helped her to her feet as the Doctor charged through the curtain and onto the stage. Martha followed as fast as she could, gripping onto Donna’s arm. Witches were swarming up in the sky and cackling loudly above the screams of the audience. 

“Bloody hell…” Donna whispered in awe next to her, her ginger hair was whipping around her face in the stormy winds that were roaring through the theatre. 

Martha shielded her eyes from the wind. The strength of the wind was making her eyes sting and her head was still aching from when she’d been knocked out. The Doctor was yelling at Will to encourage him to improvise a counter-spell. How the famous bard could think over all this noise was a miracle, but her and Donna hadn’t started fading yet so there was still hope. They still had time. 

“Close up this din of hateful, dire decay, decomposition of your witches' plot. You thieve my brains, consider me your toy. My doting Doctor tells me I am not!” Shakespeare shouted up at the swarm of Carrionites above them. 

“Doting Doctor! Ha!” Donna laughed and nudged Martha in the arm, but neither men noticed. The Doctor was looking frantically between Shakespeare and the witches up above them. The magic storm showed no sign of stopping. “Looks like you’ve got competition for old Bill’s heart.”

“Foul Carrionite spectres, cease your show! Between the points…” Shakespeare’s eyes went wide and he stared at the Doctor, floundering for the right words. 

“Seven six one three nine oh!" The Doctor suggested loudly. Martha wondered why those numbers but William didn’t pause. He continued to weave words like magic in the old, well… new, theatre. 

“Seven six one three nine oh! Banished like a tinker's cuss, I say to thee…” He paused again and looked to the Doctor but this time the Time Lord had no answer. 


Cuss… What rhymes with cuss? Martha wracked her brains for something, anything!

“Well how should I know?” Donna shouted at the Doctor when both men turned to her. 

“Well you normally have a lot to say!" The Doctor shouted back. 

Cuss… spells… magic words…

“Oi!” Donna shouted back to the Time Lord.

“Expelliarmus!” Martha blurted. Magic words! A disarming spell, and one that rhymed!

“Expelliarmus!" The Doctor and Donna shouted together with matching wide grins.

“Expelliarmus!” Shakespeare echoed along with his men.

The Carrionites began to scream and wail. That was a good sign right?

“Good old JK!" The Doctor cheered as the Carrionites began to spiral up into a dark cloud and Martha covered her ears as their screams pierced the air. The was a loud bang followed by the rustling of papers, and suddenly they were caught in a hurricane of paper as Love Labour’s Won flew up into the air. 

“Flipping hell!” Donna covered her head with her hands as she got covered in leafs of paper. 

“Love Labour’s Won!" The Doctor announced as he watched the flurry of paper swirl up into the dark void in the sky. “There it goes!

“Well that’s one mystery solved!” Donna laughed as the sky zapped and returned to normal, all traces of magic and plays vanishing into the void.

The Doctor had a few loose ends to tie up with the Carrionites and the timelines. Apparently it was important that Love Labour’s Won stayed lost, some kind of fixed point in time so they’d spent the whole night searching every crevice of the theatre, every row of seats and every dressing room. Martha and Will had spent the entire night doing the same outside of the theatre but they’d had no luck so they were waiting on the stage whilst Donna and the Doctor did their last checks in the prop store. Donna held up a yellow dress to her body and swished the skirt. It was beautiful but clearly not made for someone of her figure. Those acting boys didn’t quite have the chest that she did.

“Oi, spaceman!” She called to her friend who was digging around in some old chest, looking for errant copies of the cursed play. “What do you think?”

“What? Oh… not your colour." The Doctor grinned and ducked when she tossed the dress at him. “Oooh look at this!” He picked up a ruff and put it round his neck. “To be, or not to be?”

“Not to be.” Donna giggled. “Thank god they went out of fashion. The Bard might find some inspiration from it though” She pointed out. “Oh that is creepy!” She ran over to the other side of the small room as she spotted an old skull. 

The Doctor scrunched up his nose when she lifted it up to show him. “Oh that brings back memories.” 

“Alas poor Yorick?” Donna held out the skull dramatically.

“Donna that’s not even human." The Doctor pointed out with a raised eyebrow.

“Neither are you, sunshine.” Donna shot back. “Any luck?” 

“Nah, it’s all gone. Probably for the best.” He smiled softly at her with a twinkle in his eyes. “You were right.”

“About what?” Donna asked. She should start charging him for every time he actually admitted that. It was starting to become a habit. 

“We saved people." The Doctor stepped closer to her. “And about the grand speech.”

“Thought it would be you saying it though.” Donna chuckled and smiled up at her friend. 

The only thing that had been missing was the Doctor offering to find the Carrionites a new home. He’d never had the opportunity, when the words of power had been activated the only choice was to trap the witches in their magic ball thing. Donna wondered what he would have said if they’d managed to get to the playhouse before the end of the play, before the cursed words had been spoken. She wondered whether the Carrionites had already gone too far, killed too many people or whether they still deserved a second chance. It wasn’t their fault they were trap, or banished. Didn’t they deserve a home too? 

Then again, in Donna’s experience, the invaders never took the Doctor’s offer of a new world anyway so nothing would have probably changed.

“Well…” He said. “I had to give someone else a go, and who better than Shakespeare himself?”

“He fancied you a fair bit too” Donna swatted his chest lightly. 

“Ah but Donna, my Bella Donna, I do love nothing in the world so well as you.”  the Doctor beamed down at her. 

Donna felt her cheeks flush red and she pushed him back. “You prawn!” She chastised but the Doctor surprised her by taking her hand and bringing it to his lips with a wink. Her heart was thundering in her chest. He was jesting, he must be. This couldn’t be serious. She pulled her hand back and rolled her eyes dramatically at him. “Careful, I might start believing you if you carry on like that!”

The Doctor chuckled. “Of course I love you, Earth girl. You’re my best friend.” He flashed her a mad grin but Donna thought there was something not quite right. It looked… wrong? Like he was trying to put on a brave face. Stupid alien boys made no sense. Donna needed a brand new dictionary to try and translate his Time Lord nonsense. Maybe her own disappointment was making her read too much into things. She wanted him to be serious. She wanted him to care but if she’d learnt anything from Lance it was that romance was far too much hassle and heartache.

 “Daft Martian. We should go join the others. Make sure dear old Bill isn’t being a total cad with our young ward. Come on! Allons-y, Alien Boy!” She rushed out the room to join their friends in the grounds of the theatre. 

She stifled a giggle when she saw William lean in to try and kiss her friend. Martha rejected his attentions with a cutting remark about his breath but the Bard wasn’t too put out. The Time Lord, as always, had atrocious timing and completely wiped out the moment between Martha and Shakespeare, wittering on about Sycorax and ruffs and plays. 

They started to say their goodbyes when Will surprised them all by announcing they were time travellers which the Doctor was thrilled about. All previous thoughts about not meeting your heroes were thrown out of the window. The Doctor seemed to have completely forgotten his disappointment from when they’d first met the playwright and he was now firmly on Team Shakespeare once again. Donna laughed at her friend. He was like a kid in a joke shop, it was very endearing. 

Shakespeare proceeded to try a serenade Martha with a sonnet. My Dark Lady indeed. Martha Jones, muse of the bard. Donna was happy for her, even if the attention wasn’t exactly welcome, it was probably pretty flattering. At least Shakespeare was serious in his flirtations, unlike whatever the Doctor was playing at. She shared an amused look with the Doctor as the watched Shakespeare’s first performance of his famous sonnet. Martha looked very bemused by all the attention.

They were interrupted by the announcement of the Queen’s arrival. The famous monarch was not as happy to see the Doctor as he was to see her and once again they were running for their lives, leaving Shakespeare laughing behind them in the theatre. The Doctor grabbed Donna’s hand as he swerved through the crowds around the The Globe. 

“Come on!” He shouted at Martha who was a little way behind them.

“Stop in the name of the Queen!” The guards yelled but to no avail. 

“What have you done to upset her?” Martha exclaimed as she almost tripped over a barrel in the street. 

“How should I know? Haven't even met her yet. That's time travel for you. Still, can't wait to find out." The Doctor grinned at them both as he fiddled with the key. 

“Oh give it here!” Donna grabbed the key and slotted it easily into the lock. The doors of the Tardis swung open just in time as Martha and Donna ran into safety. The Tardis welcomed Donna with a delighted cry, Martha didn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. 

The Doctor paused and looked back out to the guards that were chasing him with a beaming smile on his face. “That’s something to look forward to. Ooo!” He ducked inside as an arrow came flying at his head. The door of the Tardis slammed shut just in time as the Doctor raced to the console. 

“Right! Home time!” He grinned and pulled a lever down with a dramatic flair and swish of his coat.

Martha was standing back outside her house in the 21st century. She looked as exhausted as Donna felt. It was dark outside, apparently only ten minutes after she’d first stepped inside the Tardis. Donna had insisted on that. The young med student needed a chance to rest before going on with her life at the hospital.

“You sure you don’t want to come with us?” Donna asked. She was standing in front of the Tardis with the Doctor, the Time Lord leaning casually against the wooden box behind her. 

“Yeah.” Martha nodded. “It was brilliant, mad, thrilling, best adventure I’ll ever have.” 

“All reasons to come with us." The Doctor pointed out.

“And reasons to stay. I don’t know how you do that all the time. Day in, Day out.” Martha huffed a laugh. “It’s exhausting. Plus if I stay too long I’ll forget everything I’ve learnt for my exams. If I want to be a doctor one day I have to focus on reality.”

“You’re going to be an amazing doctor Martha Jones, even better than this idiot.” She pointed to the Doctor. 


“You’re calm under pressure. Don’t let the boys get to you. Doctor Martha Jones. It has a good ring to it.” Donna grinned. 

“It does, doesn’t it? You look after him. He needs you.” Martha nodded to the Time Lord.

“I’m right here!” He protested. 

“And don’t forget about me. You need a hand for something then I’ll be there.” Martha added. “Do you have a number or something?”

Donna looked to the Doctor to answer. She hadn’t even thought about that. She’d not even rung her parents or her gramps since she’d left them on Christmas day. Was it even possible to call someone from the Time Vortex? She couldn’t imagine the signal being very good. 

“Oh yes. Right. Phones! Both of you come here." The Doctor gestured for them both to pass him their phones. Donna raised her eyebrow as she fished her phone out of her jacket and handed it to him, watching as Martha did the same. The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and pointed it first at Donna’s phone then at Martha’s with a concentrated look on his face. “There we go!” He grinned and passed both devices back. 

“What did you do, spaceman?” Donna asked.

“Oh just tweaked the settings a little bit. You’ll never lose signal now, boosted the battery by three hundred percent as well, oh and your internet speed has tripled. You’re welcome!" The Doctor gave them a cheeky grin as he pocketed his screwdriver. 

“You’re kidding!” Martha tossed her phone in her hands and stared in awe at the mobile device. “He’s kidding right?” She asked Donna.

“We’ll soon find out! I’ll call you once we’re in the vortex.” Donna suggested as she unlocked her own phone. It no longer showed her normal service provided. Instead it was some strange circular scribbles in the corner. Not too dissimilar to the writing she’d seen around the Tardis. 

“Right. We’d best be off then. Donna? You coming?" The Doctor held out his hand towards her which she took willingly, blushing as she remembered his words from the prop store, the intensity in his gaze as he kissed her hand. 

“Can’t get rid of me, even if you tried.” She teased. “See ya, Martha!” 

“Bye Doctor, Donna!” Martha gave them both a little wave as she stepped back from the Tardis. “Don’t be strangers!” She reminded them.

“Good luck Doctor Jones!" The Doctor gave her a wink as he herded Donna inside the Tardis.

“And you Doctor Noble.” Donna heard Martha reply.

“Still not married!” She called back but the door were already shut. “We’re never gonna live that down are we?” 

The Doctor laughed. “I don’t believe we will, Mrs Noble. Ooh! I nearly forgot! This…” He pulled out a key on a chain. “Is for you!” 

“Is that?” She asked in wonder as she held the tiny silver key in her hands. It felt warm against her skin and she could feel the Tardis a little louder in the back of her mind as soon as the Doctor dropped it into her hand.

“A key for the Tardis. It’s your home now, you deserve it.” He smiled brightly down at her. Donna grinned and threw her arms around his neck, pulling him into a tight hug.

“Thank you, spaceman.” She kissed his cheek before letting him go. He blushed and ran towards the Tardis console. 

“Oh it’s nothing.” He paused as his hand hovered above one of the dials. “You want to learn how to drive her?”

Donna’s eyes went wide. He wasn’t seriously asking her that? She wasn’t as telepathically connected to the Tardis as he was, so surely she wouldn’t be able to drive her properly, but the Tardis rumbled in disagreement in the back of her mind. The Doctor was still staring at her, frozen whilst he awaited her answer. 

“Oh go on then!” Donna grinned and bounded over to join him by the console.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was watching Donna slowly circle the Tardis console as she tried to remember what each of the spacial controls did. He was leaning on one of the coral pillars, god he loved the coral pillars and the little bumps on the walls, he had no idea what the did but they looked cool and made the Tardis really feel alive. He noticed his companions had taken the news that the Tardis was alive much better with the coral than when she looked more like a traditional spaceship. 

They had just returned from New New York well… New New York for short. It would take far too long to say all the News every single time but two News helped to distinguish the city from the original. He didn’t know why he’d taken Donna there. Perhaps he’d been feeling a little nostalgic, perhaps he just really missed Rose. It had just been one of those days where he woke up deeply feeling the loss of those who had come before, and Rose was the first face these eyes had seen. He was bound to imprint on her more than others. His beautiful sweet Rose. He hoped that Pete’s World was treating her alright. Maybe she’d been able to work with Torchwood there. She had the fiery and tenacity for it and if he was being honest with himself, the recklessness that often accompanied Torchwood agents.

But New New York had been a mistake. Going back so soon felt like he was cheating on his former friend, felt like he was trying to replace her, and it hadn’t been fair to Donna either. She had stormed off in a rage when she realised he had just been reusing locations. He winced as he remember the fury in her eyes. She’d rightly called him out on it and left him in the alley way. Luckily she’d still been close by when she’d been kidnapped and he heard her shouting as she was pulled away. She might have still been in the motorway if he hadn’t have realised, or even worse she might have been dead. He’d have to have told Wilf he’d killed his only granddaughter. 

He shook his head to clear those thoughts and refocused on the redhead in front of him, still very much alive. She stood by his side whilst they watched The Face of Boe take his last breath. She’d comforted him whilst he mourned his friend. Even though he’d only met The Face of Boe a handful of times, he’d always felt a connection to him. They were both old travellers who were growing weary with life. Both doomed to outlive their friends and now he was only in that once more. 

Or was he?

You are not alone.

The Face of Boe’s words haunted him. It was impossible. What did he mean? Was there another Time Lord? He’d know if there was. He’d sense it in his mind, he’d be able to smell it in the air. 

You are not alone.

Donna had tried to lighten the mood by suggesting that meant she really would travel with him forever. He’d smiled at that. If only he were that lucky. Forever with Donna didn’t seem like a bad idea but the universe always had other plans, like whatever that Carrionite had been able to sense when she tried to name Donna. That was still running in the back of his mind, should he be worried about it? Probably. He filed it away for later. That was future him’s problem.

Donna looked up at him from where she was inspecting the different parts of the Tardis console with a fond smile. They were continuing her Tardis driving lessons. It was a good way to make it up to her for his thoughtlessness so he’d agreed, not to mention the fact it gave him an excuse to get closer to her. Donna, his wonderful brilliant Donna, had taken to life on the Tardis better than any of his human companions. The Tardis had welcomed the fiery redhead with open arms and had quickly made a telepathic bond with his new best friend, something she hadn’t done since before the Time War.

He’d been fighting his feelings ever since the rooftop but he was slowly beginning to give in to the inevitable. It wasn’t fair to Rose’s memory and he’d never even managed to tell Rose how he’d felt. He’d never managed to bring himself to say it aloud. Everyone he’d ever loved he’d lost so he’d thought that if he could just keep it to himself, if he could keep it a secret, then she wouldn’t be lost to him.

But that obviously hadn’t worked. 

The Doctor had often teased his young human companions that humans fall in love so fast. He pretended that Time Lords were above that but he’d never quite been able to convince his hearts. He’d loved all his companions in one way or another, every single one of them had broken his hearts when they left. It was the Time Lord’s curse, to outlive everyone he knew. So he had fought with his growing feelings for Donna. He didn’t want them. He was probably rebounding after Rose but this, with Donna, felt different, stronger, more real. 

Rose was young and beautiful. She was smart and resourceful and she never gave up. He loved that about her. Her refusal to leave his side even when it was far too dangerous for her to be there. It have saved him on more than one occasion, but he was also starting to realise that it had put so many others in danger. It had taken some time away from Rose for him to realise that. She had, at times, been reckless beyond compare, and it was curious that the Tardis had never bonded willingly with Rose and yet opened so quickly up to Donna. Maybe the Tardis had sensed that Rose would one day rip the heart from the Tardis and become the Bad Wolf. 

She may have saved him from the Daleks but it had also been his death. He thought about that kiss a lot. It often haunted both his dreams and his nightmares. He had been desperate to recreate that in his new body, and he didn’t count Cassandra, it may have been Rose’s body but it wasn’t Rose. He had been desperate but something had always stopped him. Maybe part of his soul associated kissing the young blonde with destruction. He winced as he remembered the way his body had been torn apart for the ninth time. He would always remember her fondly but, he was starting to see past the rose-tinted glasses he’d been wearing when the blonde had been around… pun intended. 

Donna on the other hand was effortlessly compassionate and kind to everyone she met. She yelled and shouted at the world when she found injustice but she was fiercely loyal and she fought for what she believed in with such a passion and fury. Her eyes so often shone with tears when she mourned those that died despite their best efforts, even if they were alien and different. She’d been the one to open up the Doctor’s mind to the caves, the creature that neither of them could even see. She’d begged him to save Beth and Carrie from their drowning city, to give them a chance in a new world, and then there was Pompeii. The tears shining in her beautiful eyes as she placed her hands over his on the lever. Together they destroyed the ancient city. She’d shared that terrible burden with him, he’d never had that before. He’d never let his companions know what it was like to make that choice. She was truly a brilliant shining star amongst the darkness in his soul. He smiled fondly as he remembered how easily she’d played along when he’d told the hospital staff that she was his wife. 

No. She wasn’t Rose. 

She was Donna and that was brilliant. 

It wasn’t the same affection he felt for Rose. It would be an insult to his former companion to suggest otherwise but it was the beginnings of something deep and something real.

And it scared the living daylights out of him. He’d rather face the Daleks. Well… maybe one Dalek. Well… an injured one, but still a Dalek! With a functioning eyestalk and whisk thingy. 

That was a technical term. Whisk thingy.

“Penny for them?” Donna asked as her hands trailed over the keyboard on the console. 

“Oh it’s nothing." The Doctor shrugged and pushed off the pillar towards the centre of the room. 

Donna raised an eyebrow and typed something into the keyboard. The Tardis lurched and then went deathly still. 

What are you two up to? He asked his ship with a scowl.

She was silent in response but he felt her ever comforting presence so there was no damage done. 

“What did you do?” He asked as he spun the screens round to have a look. They were still in the Time Vortex but they weren’t moving. The engines seemed to have stopped and there was something really strange that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. 

“You’re a Time Lord. Figure it out.” Donna narrowed her eyes at him. He’d done something to upset her apparently. Humans and their emotions. It was hard to work out at times, even for him and he was something of an anomaly when it came to being a Time Lord. 

He focussed on the movement of the ship. There wasn’t any, not through time or space. He looked at Donna closely, trying to see her timelines. He tried not to read the timelines of his companions, it was too close to his own personal timeline and anything the saw on his personal timeline would become the future, no matter how much he may wish to change it. Donna’s timelines weren’t visible. There was nothing there, he couldn’t read them. 

He scowled. He was missing something big. What was he missing. No movement, no time lines, no engines…. 

Oh! God he was an idiot! And a terrible Time Lord.

“You’ve put us in a time lock!” He stared between Donna and the blue glow of the central column. “How did you do that? I only just showed you the spacial controls!” 

“I had some help.” Donna smirked and patted the console. 


“I told you before, you could just ask her nicely.” Donna raised an eyebrow. 

“But why?!" The Doctor asked.

We need to talk later, Old Girl!  He added mentally to his ship, feeling more than a little betrayed. 

“Because, Martian, You are lying to me.” Donna put her hands on her hips. “Whatever you were thinking about was upsetting you. If we’re gonna be best friends…”

“We are best friends!” He insisted with a pout. Donna was the best friend he’d had in a long time, probably since The Academy. 

“Then you cannot lie to me.” Donna continued firmly. “It’s not nothing. If you don’t want to tell me then fine but do not lie about it, Doctor.”

He stopped and watched her for a moment. Her eyes were like glowing nebulas staring back at him. It reminded him of the double suns back on Gallifrey. The searing heat in the midday sun and the glowing orbs of light shining brightly against the burnt orange sky. He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. She was right. Of course she was. He was quickly realising that his newest companion could see past almost every wall and mask that he’d created. He’d been lying for centuries both to his companions and to himself, but suddenly this seemingly unimportant human could see straight into his soul.

“Rose.” He admitted. “I was thinking about Rose.”

Donna nodded as if she’d expected this answer and opened her arms, inviting him into a hug. She was giving him the choice… He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been given the choice. Normally people flung their arms around him or he wrapped them up before they’d even realised he was going for a hug. This body, this mind in particular really liked hugs. Perhaps that had been a consequence of how he was born. He was born out of love, dying in a kiss and reborn to save the friend he adored. Rose. The first face these eyes saw.

Donna’s arms were an invitation, a choice to be vulnerable, to accept her comfort. He swallowed and wrapped her up in his arms, pulling her close and resting his chin on her shoulder. It wasn’t Rose, it would never be Rose again, but this was Donna. The beautiful fiery bride who had stopped him from his own destruction. He remembered how she had glowed with Huon energy, the same energy that fuelled his ship. It was almost like destiny had pulled them together. 

No. Donna was no rebound. She was an open door. A new chapter. A new chance and he was not going to miss this chance. Not this time. 

With the Tardis in a time lock, the Doctor was able to lose track of time. That was a strange sensation. He was always so aware of every second that passed, every millisecond but now he was lost, lost in Donna’s arms and her sweet vanilla scent. He wondered if that was her shampoo or whether Donna just naturally smelled so sweet. Maybe it was a bit of both. He held her tightly and she let him. They stood in silence, embracing in the console room of the Tardis until the Doctor started to feel angsty. The lack of time moving felt unnatural to him. Donna probably couldn’t even notice it. They could be here, in this moment for what might feel like years without ageing or sleep or food, because no time would actually be passing. It was a nifty little Time Lord trick, nothing would or could change inside the time lock no matter how much time passed on the outside. He was still at a loss as to how Donna had managed it, even with the Tardis’s help. She shouldn’t have even realised such a thing could exist. 

With a heavy sigh he dropped his arm and let Donna go. “Thank you, Donna.”

“Anytime, spaceman.” She smiled up at him, gone was the rage from before. Whatever he’d said or done to upset her earlier had been set right, thankfully. An angry Donna Noble was truly a sight to behold. “If you are ever ready to talk about it, about her, then I’m here for you.” She patted his arm. 

“Oh you know me. I’m alright.” He scoffed as he felt his mask fall back into place. Donna narrowed her eyes at him and he knew he hadn’t fooled her but she seemed to let it go. 

“You know, Doctor” She started to say cautiously. “I blame myself for Lance’s death.”

Her arms folded across her body and look away from him towards the floor.  It broke his heart to see her suddenly looking so small, so afraid. 

“Oh Donna.” He said softly, taking her hand in his. “You are the last person I would blame for that.” He gently rubbed his thumb in circles on the back of her hand, hoping that it would be of some comfort.

“Yeah well. It doesn’t change the fact that it was supposed to be me. I relive that moment every night, play it out different ways, things I could have said differently, if I hadn’t of antagonised her like I always do. Maybe she would have shown him mercy.” Donna’s eyes were shining with tears as she spoke.

The Doctor knew why she was telling him this. It was the oldest trick in the book. She thought that by opening up to him, by telling him something that made her vulnerable, he would be compelled to do the same. He guessed that her situation wasn’t too dissimilar to what had happened with Rose. At least he could take comfort in the fact Rose was still alive. Pete had made sure of that. 

“You know that’s not true, Donna." The Doctor said in a low voice. “You did everything you could. We both did.”

“But it wasn’t enough.” Donna’s voice cracked and she hastily wiped away a tear that had begun to run down her cheek. She sniffed. “I wasn’t enough.”

The Doctor couldn’t hold back anymore. He pulled Donna back into his arms, like he’d wanted to do when she’d been crying in her room on Christmas Eve. She didn’t sob with the same abandonment as she had that night but he could still hear her sniffling against his chest. He stroked her hair gently and placed a kiss on top of her head. “You’re more than enough, Donna.”

“Oh God look at me, sobbing all over your jacket. This was supposed to be about you.” Donna pulled back and rubbed her eyes with her hands. “I’m a mess.”

“A hot mess." The Doctor amended with a cheeky grin. This was beginning to feel more familiar. 

“Oi! Don’t be a tart!” Donna swatted him lightly on the arm. “My point was, Spaceman, before I got all snotty over Lance, I get nightmares, I blame myself for things that are not my fault, and I know you do too.”

“It’s not totally impossible.” He shrugged and ran his hands through his hair. “I didn’t have nightmares at the tavern though, you know with Shakespeare and all that jazz.” That had been a pleasant surprise and he was eighty three percent sure it was because of Donna curled up beside him. At some point during the night he had ended up with his arms wrapped around her waist but he’d managed to disentangle himself before she’d woken up, saving them both an awkward conversation in the morning. 

He sat down on the cold metal floor of the Tardis and dangled his legs over the edge of the grates that surrounded the Console. Donna followed his lead and sunk down next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. 

“No, but you were dead on your feet. Too tried for nightmares.” Donna suggested. “I didn’t have any either come to think of it. Guess we were both exhausted.”

“Or…” He paused, taking in her reaction. If he wasn’t careful his next words would destroy their friendship and he was not ready for that. “And this is just a theory…”

“Out with it, Alien Boy!” She rolled her eyes at him. 

He took a deep breath and continued. “Or it was the company that helped keep the nightmares at bay.”

Donna blushed and hit him on the arm hard. “Ouch!” He rubbed his arm, it wasn’t too sore, Time Lords were made of stronger stuff but he knew she needed to feel as if she’d had some effect. “What did you do that for?” 

“You know why.” She scowled. 

“I really don’t.”

“You really do.” She insisted. “That was a one time deal, Alien Boy!” 

“I’m just saying! It is just a hypothesis!” He threw his hands up to defend himself. “It could have been exhaustion though. Just like you said.” 

“A hypothesis?” Donna asked.

“Yup!" The Doctor nodded. “Just a harmless theory. Could be the exhaustion, could be the company. Hard to say. I normally manage to get a couple of hours of sleep before I get that tired but with the hospital then straight into Elizabethan England I just forgot. The adrenaline kept me going I suppose. Almost dying at the hands of a plasmavore and the Judoon in one day does that. Oh and then the Carrionites stopped my heart, but I suppose that was after we slept together…”

“OI!” Donna yelled. “We did what now?!”

“Slept! In the literal sense!” He clarified quickly throwing his hands in front of his face as Donna looked like she was winding up for another slap. “In the same bed. No funny business!”

“I know. I was there, Sunshine!” Donna raised an eyebrow. 

“Not that that would be the worst thing in the world. You are lovely." The Doctor continued. He didn’t want to offend his friend by making her think that sleeping with her would be a hardship… pun not intended. 

“Careful, spaceman.” Donna narrowed her eyes at him.

“But we’re mates! Best mates. Friends…. and I should really stop talking shouldn’t I?” 

Donna nodded slowly. “I think so.” She smirked. “So how do we test this hypothesis of yours?” 

“What?" The Doctor asked.

“Well, I may have ditched science pretty early on but I still remember the basics. Hypothesis and theories, normally you have to test them. Do experiments and stuff right?” Donna quirked an eyebrow. 

The Doctor stared at her. She was grinning with a mischievous glint in her eyes and a slight blush on her cheeks. She couldn’t possibly be suggesting what he thought she was suggesting. “Well… normally you would have a control. So what we sleep like on a normal night. Normal levels of exhaustion after a standard amount of sleep the night before, so about 8 hours for you.”

“And Time Lords?” 

“Umm…” He scratched the back of his neck. “It’s been a while since I got the recommended amount. I think Time Lords were supposed to get around 4-6 hours? I’d have to check the book, spent too much time with you lot.”

“You can’t remember how much sleep yourself supposed to get?” Donna stifled a laugh behind her hand. “You prawn!”

“Oh shut up!” He bumped his shoulder against hers.

“Big old brainy genius and you don’t even know how much sleep you’re supposed to have!” She cackled. 

“In my defence, I’ve been around humans now for longer than I was with my own people!” He protested “Anyway!” He shut her up with a scowl. “Once you have your control data, you start to add in variables. Changes in exercise, diets, sleep patterns…”

“Bed buddies.” Donna suggested.

“Exactly!” He agreed with a wave of his hand. “If the nightmares get better when we’re more tired.”

“Or if we share a bed.” Donna finished and he nodded. 


“Ok then.” Donna said and pulled herself to her feet. 

“Wait what?" The Doctor ask his best friend. What exactly was the redhead agreeing to?

“I said ok.” She looked down on him with a smirk. “You have a hypothesis, let’s test it out, Time Boy.”

“You’re serious?" The Doctor stared up at her in shock.

“Well I’m starting to think it’s a bad idea.” Donna rolled her eyes.

“No!” He scrambled to his feet and grabbed onto her arm to steady himself. “No. It’s good. Good. It’s a great idea.”

Donna laughed and pulled him to a sideways hug. “Daft Martian.”

He grinned and kissed her temple. “Only for you Mrs Noble.”


“Oi!” He shot back with a laugh and headed back towards the Tardis console. 

He took a looked at the beautiful circles of Gallifreyan that spun around the monitor. He traced the letters of his native language with a long finger and sighed. His Tardis was the only place in the universe where the language still existed. The Tardis was still maintaining the Time Lock that Donna had instigated, and for the first time in years the Doctor finally felt a sense of peace. 

He knew that it could only last for a short time. They had no idea what was happening in the outside world. Time could be spinning past them at light speed, the universe could be falling apart without him there to keep on healing the worst of the damage, but inside the Tardis it was just him and Donna. Nothing could get in, no alarms, no messages on the psychic paper, no phone calls. They were completely isolated from the rest of the universe. 

He felt a tickle of the Tardis in the back of his mind. A reassurance that for the time being the universe could look after itself. His wonderful beautiful ship.

They had a respite for now and the Doctor was determined to make the most of it. 

Donna was lazing on the floor of the console room with her head in the Doctor’s lap. He’d taken to running his hands through her hair. He hadn’t meant to but this life was particularly tactile and full of energy. He still felt disorientated from the lack of movement in the time continuum but Donna helped to keep him grounded. She’d offered to help release the Time Lock she’d placed them in but he’d refused. 

“So why don’t I feel hungry?” She asked thoughtfully as he spun a lock of her hair around his finger.

“Our bodies are locked in time.” He answered softly. “All those tiny chemical reactions that keep our bodies constantly moving, burning energy, regenerating cells. None of that is happening. You’re only breathing out of habit.” 

“You’re pulling my leg.” Donna gaped up at him. He shook his head. “No.”

“Yup.” He grinned. “We could go to the pool and test it out if you’d like?”

“The pool?” She raised both eyebrows at him.


“You have a pool?” She asked incredulously.

“Course I do. It’s just passed the library.” He grinned. He knew she’d found the library. He’d once found her asleep among piles of books, apparently she’d decided to reorganise the shelves. He’d been tempted to carry her back to her bedroom but she’d looked so peaceful that he hadn’t wanted to risk waking her up. 

“Oh you are on, spaceman!” She launched out of his lap and out the console room. 

Or at least she tried to run out of the console room. 

In actual fact she ran straight into an invisible force field, the edge of the time lock. She rebounded backwards and landed on the floor. The Doctor tried to catch her but he was too slow. 

“What the fork was that?” Donna hissed.

“At a guess I’d say that was the edge of the time lock.” He cautiously poked the air leading out of the console room. It rippled under his hands and for a brief moment he could feel time shudder around him. He inhaled deeply. It was like taking a deep breath of oxygen after relying on his respiratory bypass for too long. 

“That hurt like a….” 

“You won’t feel it once time restarts.” He interjected. 

“So no pool diving?” She asked with a pout. 

“Not without diving gear for you.” He nodded sadly. He’d been looking forward to sitting at the bottom of the pool with Donna. He always found being underwater very relaxing. It reminded him of Vallarasee. The underwater cities were just stunning. He’d have to take Donna there one day. Hopefully she’d find them more interesting than Bal-rimir.

“What about you? Don’t tell me you don’t need to breathe?” She stared at him in disbelief.

“Ok then.” He smirked at her. 


“I won’t tell you I don’t need to breathe. Well…. Technically I do but not as much as you. I have a respiratory bypass.” He amended partly for his own safety. He’d didn’t want Donna accidentally putting him in danger because he’d been showing off. 

“Oh and what’s that when it’s at home?” She asked. 

“Two hearts. Essentially, I can store extra oxygen in my lungs for emergencies and then…” He began to explain.

“You know what… forget I asked. Time Lords.” She rolled her eyes. “So are we stuck in the console room?”

“It appears so. Until we release the time lock.” He thought through the other possibilities but that one definitely seemed like the most likely. 

“And then we face the universe once more.” She said with slight disappointment. The Doctor felt his hearts flutter as he realised she was enjoying their time alone on the Tardis as much as he was. 

“Yeah. Back into the big bad universe.” He agreed with a sad smile. He’d always treasure this moment of peace with his Donna. 

The Doctor was watching Donna inspect the console. Her tongue was stuck out a little bit as she concentrated hard on the buttons, nobs, levers and dials in front of her. It was adorable. They’d both reached a tacit agreement that they would stay locked in time for now. It was a breather that they both sorely needed. Even the Doctor, who hated staying still, could admit that a little down time was probably not the worst idea. 

Donna pointed to one of the dials carefully. “Temporal Stabilisers” 

“Nope.” He pushed himself off the railing and came to stand next to her. He took her hand gently, he moved it on top of the sliders next to the dial. “Temporal Stabilisers, but only when we’re moving forwards in time.” He moved her hand again to a spinning roller ball that he’d patched the Tardis up with a few years back. “and this is for when we’re going back.”

“Blimey I don’t know how you manage to keep track of everything.” Donna scowled at the console. “Of course it helps when you’re psychically linked to the ship. Doesn’t it sweetheart?” She patted the console fondly and the Doctor felt his hearts swell with pride. It always warmed his old soul when he saw his companions interact with his beloved ship. 

“Should I be concerned at how close you two are? You’re not gonna run off into time and space without me are you?” He teased her. “Show me the thrusters.”

Donna raised her eyebrow and smirk. “You should be so lucky, Alien Boy.”

“What?” Then he blushed as he caught up to what he had said. “Oh you know what I meant! Do you want to learn to drive her or not?”

“Temporal thrusters!” Donna leaned over him and tapped on a lever by his right hand side. “Not to be confused with spacial thrusters” She indicated to dial on the other side of the Tardis. 

“Excellent, Donna! Molto bene!” He grinned. 

“And the hand brake!” She patted a button near the middle of the console. “which appears to be locked on.”

“It is not!” He protested. “I’ve had since the Tardis since the 1960s, longer in relative time. I would know if the hand brake was locked on.” 

“Mhmm… You would think, but the Old Girl tells me otherwise, Pookie.” She booped him on the nose and the Doctor felt his mind go static as he tried to comprehend what she had just said. 

“Pookie?” He muttered under his breath so she wouldn’t hear. "The Tardis is lying to you, Sugar Pie.” He said louder and winced as he felt a stab of pain in the back of his mind as his ship protested. 

Shhh you! I’m the pilot! He thought firmly at his ship.

No, you’re my thief! She sang back in a rare moment of eloquence. She preferred to communicate in feelings and ideas rather than words, even to him, especially when there were others in the Tardis. 

He scowled at the glowing pillar in the centre of control panel. “Shields? Very important to know if the shields are up. Don’t want anything to come crashing into the Tardis, especially not another version of me. That can get messy.”

“Umm… “ Donna leaned over on her toes to reach a switch just passed the Doctor. He stepped back slightly so she could reach over him. “There!” 

“Game over!” He grinned. “That would have activated emergency protocol one!”

“Oh! oh I know this one!” Donna twiddled a lock of hair in her fingers as she thought about it. “That takes me home?” 

“It takes you back to Chiswick, yes" The Doctor amended.

“God forbid! Although I should probably check up on Gramps soon.” Donna chimed a laugh. 

“Whenever you’re ready, love.” He agreed. He liked Wilf. He wouldn’t mind seeing the old soldier again, as long as he could steer clear of Sylvia Noble, he wouldn’t mind. They’d been back to Earth a couple of times since he’d picked Donna up on that fateful Christmas Eve but neither time they’d never quite made it back to Chiswick to see Donna’s family. The Doctor got the feeling that she wasn’t quite ready to face her life back on Earth just yet. 

Donna gave him a puzzled look and then smiled softly at him. “Thanks, Spaceman. Maybe it’s time to release the Tardis.” She said. 

“Yeah?” He pulled the monitor round so he could look at it. He still couldn’t see any anomalies from outside the time lock. As far as his screens were concerned nothing was out there. He wondered how much relative time had passed in the Time Vortex outside of the console room. It would be hard to tell. 

“Yeah. We’ve hidden long enough.” Donna said with a sigh. “And you promise to stop lying to me?”

“Scouts honour.” He saluted at his best friend. 

Donna raised her eyebrow at him. “Do Time Lords have scouts?” 

“Not exactly… but UNIT have me on a payroll so that’s basically the same thing right?” He grinned. 

“I’m serious, Doctor.” Donna said firmly. “If I can’t trust you to be honest with me then how can I trust you to keep me safe?”

“What if lying to you keeps you safe?” He pouted. 

His companions couldn’t always understand why he told them what he did, and why he didn’t always tell them everything. He could be reckless and they would always follow him if they thought he was risking his life, which he did more often than he probably should. He stupidly brave companions always wanted to trade their lives for his and he just couldn’t live with that on his conscience. It would tear him up inside, it had broken him before. The thought of Donna sacrificing everything to save him, it didn’t bear thinking about. He’d almost lost Rose because of it, and in a way she was still lost, to him at least, he would not lose Donna too. 

Donna crossed her arm and shook her head. “Not good enough.”

“But Donna….”

Donna put her finger on his lips and he shut up. “No. I get it. Some things might be too dangerous to tell me, or I won’t understand but that doesn’t mean you have to lie. Just tell me you can’t tell me.” 

“That’s a lot of tell mes…” He mumbled against her finger. 

“Precisely.” She grinned. “Now. Time lock?” She skipped over to the keyboard, her fingers hovered over the keys and she scowled. “I don’t know what I did before.”

“I thought you had help?" The Doctor circled round the Tardis console in the opposite direction that she had taken and rejoined her by the keyboard. 

“Can’t you fix it?” Donna asked. “Isn’t time your thing, Time Lord?”

“Yes… Well… I could fix it. Of course I can.” He muttered looking at the screen.


“But it’s not my time lock.” He admitted. 

“And that means?” She asked cautiously.

“That I don’t exactly know what you did. Time lock in a time machine, not a very safe thing to mess with. I can reverse it but….” He trailed off and ran his hands through his hair. It always helped him to think, helped to stimulate the neurological synapses in his brain. “Without knowing exactly what you did… I could throw the console out of sync with the rest of time and space. We might not get back.”

“Well… fudge!” Donna stared at him in shock.

“Why didn’t you say something sooner?” Donna whined as she bumped her head against the console wearily. “I feel weird. We’ve not eaten anything in ages! or slept in what feels like… days? How am I not tired?” 

“Your body…”

“Oh yes I know!” She snapped. “You already told me that bit.” 

The Doctor was scanning his monitor with the sonic screwdriver, trying to get a lock on whatever Donna had done to the Tardis, but his device was not having much luck. The reading were all over the place and he was struggling to make sense of it. He groaned in frustration and thumped the top of the monitor. “Come on! You stupid thing!” He scowled.

“Why isn’t she telling me how to fix it like she did before?” Donna grumbled.

“The time lock has weakened the psychic link between us and the Tardis. I can still hear her if I focus or if she wants to be heard but I imagine you can barely sense her now?” He glanced up and across at his companion. His sonic screwdriver spluttered and the blue light went out. “No! no no no!” He flicked the device and held it up to his ear. “No!” He tossed it across the room. 

“I’m sorry! This is all my fault” Donna groaned and thumped her head against the console again.

“Oh Donna, My Donna.” He swiftly spun around the console and wrapped his arms around her. “I should have reversed it sooner, I knew the consequences but I got selfish. I just wanted this moment with you. If we had reversed it immediately you probably still would have been connected to the Tardis.

“What if you talk me through it?” Donna suggested. “It might trigger a memory.”

“A memory…" The Doctor pondered aloud. “A Memory!” He yelled as an idea popped into his head. Donna jumped at his sudden change of volume. 

“Oi!” She yelled back instinctively “Care to share with the class, Time Boy?” 

“I can look into your memories!” He spun around on his heels and grinned at her. “If I can just access the exact moment you linked with the Tardis to create the time lock… I should be able to reverse it! Oh Donna you are brilliant!” He kissed her on the head and ran to the keyboard. “Oh yes!” He shot her a grin.

“Like Peter Streete?” She asked warily.

“Exactly but it’ll be easier because your mind isn’t blocking the memories, there’s no magic or trauma involved.” He waved his hand as he tried to explain and then pulled at his hair. Donna was still looking apprehensive at the idea. “I’ve been in your mind before, Donna.” He reminded her. 

“Not in my memories.” She said quietly. “What if something goes wrong? What if I forgot something? What if I forget you?” 

“I would never let that happen.” He promised. His companions had been forced to forget him before. It was almost worse than death. Yes, he could live in the knowledge they were alive and safe but the way they looked straight past him, all the growth and development they had had whilst they travelled with him just whisked away in an instant. He imagined Donna’s eyes looking at him as if he were a stranger. He shuddered at the thought. He couldn’t let that happen. “I promise.”

“And this will work?”

“It’s the best plan I’ve got.” He shrugged. 

“Ok but don’t go rooting around in there. I got up to some really embarrassing stuff in my teenage years.” She joked but he could tell she was still nervous.

“Oh well… now I have to look.” He teased but her face went pale and he instantly regretted it. “I’m joking!” He put his hands up in defence. “Anything you want hidden just imagine a door. Big red locked door. May I?” He reached out to place his fingers on her temples but paused just before he could make contact.

“I suppose so. I’m putting hazard tape across for good measure though. I know how nosy you are.” She took a deep breath as he made contact with her temples and he felt his psychic nerves hot wire into life as he closed his eyes. It was like a fire had been lit in his brain and sparks instantly flew between them. 

The Time Lords were a very telepathic race. He’d been able to sense their presence through all of time and space before the war, not a close enough bond to communicate with, not without touch, but they were there. Now it was just silence, shattering endless silence. Despite the yearning to feel that connection again, he tried to limit his telepathic connection with humans. Partly because they never quite trusted it, and partly because it was almost impossible to pull away now. 

Donna’s mind was brushing up against his, like it had in the caves. This time she wasn’t forcing thoughts into his mind and he could take his time to explore the corridors of her mind as he searched for the answers he needed. “That’s it, Donna.” He murmured as it began to get easier to move around the less she tried to fight him. 

“It tickles.” She grumbled.

He moved slower through her mind, trying to lessen her discomfort. As he turned around he almost walked straight into a big red door covered with hazard tape. “Oh… that’s a door.” He opened his eyes to check she was ok. She was staring up at him with her big beautiful blue eyes. She was so close that he could see the golden rings around her pupils and little flecks of gold in her irises. It reminded him of the circular Gallifreyan that glowed from the monitor beside him. “You ok?”

“I’m allowed some secrets, Spaceman.” She smirked.

He nodded. She was right, he was curious. He knew her mental defences wouldn’t be strong enough to keep him out if he really wanted to know what was behind the mysterious door but she was relying on him. She was trusting him. He closed his eyes again and forced himself away from the door. He kept searching for the more recent memories, he needed the short term memory ideally. “Can you try and remember what you were feeling?” He murmured quietly. “It will help bring the right memory to the surface.”

He felt her nod under his fingers and he inhaled deeply as he was hit by a wave of anguish and hurt and self-loathing. The emotions she had been feeling when she instigated the time lock. He saw his own face through her eyes. He was watching Donna as she inspected the console but he had a far off look in his eyes, even though he was looking right at her he couldn’t see her. Donna knew this. He looked… sad?

This must have been when he’d been thinking about Rose, trying to reconcile his feelings for Donna in comparison to his feelings for Rose. He looked old, not in his body but in his eyes. He was never quite prepared to see how old his eyes looked these days. It was the one thing that stayed the same between regenerations. At least his hair looked good. 

“Penny for them?” Past Donna asked him and he winced as Past him completely shut off. The sadness was hidden by a wall. His face became a blank mask and Donna’s pain seared through him. 

“Oh it’s nothing." The Doctor in Donna’s mind shrugged haphazardly and pushed off the pillar he was leaning on and strolled towards her as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Donna felt worthless, she was bad friend, she wasn’t good enough for him…

“That’s enough, spaceman.” Donna’s hand came up to cup him face and he blinked his eyes open to see her gazing up at him. He was almost overwhelmed by the urge to kiss her but through some miracle he managed to restrain himself. He just hope he hadn’t projected the feeling back into Donna’s mind. She showed no sign of hearing that thought so he hoped that he’d gotten away it. “Just get what you need for the time lock and get out” 

“Sorry.” He mumbled and dove back into the memory. Donna heard the Tardis singing in her head, trying to ease her anguish, and there was an idea planted. An idea to stop him from running away from her, from his own feelings. A chance to pause the tape and face his feelings. 

The time lock. 

He saw Donna’s fingers dancing over the keyboard in front of the monitors, with speed that only a super temp could have, well… for a human at least. His Time Lord mind was able to track the movements easily as Donna’s fingers were guided by the Tardis in her head.

The Tardis lurched and time stopped around them. 

He pulled his fingers away from Donna’s temple, breaking the mental connection as gently as he could. His mind instantly mourned the loss of another mind brushing up so close to his, especially a mind belonging to someone he truly cared about. “Got it!” He grinned and spun to face the monitor. His fingers flew over the keys, just like Donna’s had in his mind. 

Donna laughed and grabbed his arm as she watch him work. “About time!” 

“Allons-y!” He yelled into the air as he slammed the enter key down. The Tardis lurched again and he felt the universe spin around him. Time washed over his senses and he was finally able to count every second pass, and he could feel the rush of the vortex around the Tardis. He breathed it in like a man who had been starved of oxygen. “I did it!” He breathed in relief. “I did it!” He shouted louder and picked Donna up in a flying hug. 

She shrieked and wrapped her hands around his neck. “Doctor!”

“Ooh I wonder how much time has passed in the rest of the Tardis!” He grinned as he put his friend back down. He grabbed her hand and tugged her out of the console room. “Come on!”

“Where are we going?” She panted as they ran through the corridors of the Tardis. 

“I have a clock in my bedroom. It’s modified to not be affected by the time vortex. It counts relative time within the Tardis so my companions can keep track of how long they are with me and birthdays…” He explained in a rush. “So we should be able to see how long the console room was stuck in a time lock.”

“How come we were able to move and stuff inside the time lock?” Donna asked him as they ran through the corridors. He glared up at the ceiling. His room wasn’t always this far away from the console room, the Tardis was obviously angry with him.

“Umm…” He paused as he tried to figure out a way to explain it to a human mind. “Physically we didn’t move at all. Living things aren’t designed to exist out of time, not even the Time Lords.”

“But we were in a different place at the end of the time lock?” She insisted. “We moved!”

“Yeah but you had barely moved by the end, in comparison I was able to move across the room.”  He slowed his run to a walk, the Tardis was playing games with them. There was no point in charging around if she wasn’t going to let him find his room any faster.

“But I remember it all?” Donna wrinkled her nose in confusion as she tried to figure it out. It was adorable. 

“Yeah…” He scratched the back of his neck. Blimey humans were so tiny at times. “It’s more… your brains way of coping and processing the lack of time?”  He tilted his head. That was a very dumb down explanation but it was probably the simplest way to explain.

“So all that was all in our heads?” Donna asked. “Like a dream?”

“Yeah. No. Maybe. Well.. close enough.” He reluctantly agreed.

“A shared dream?” Donna pressed with a raised eyebrow.

“Something like that yeah. I suppose so.” 

“So how come you needed to go all Professor X on me to get us out of the time lock?” Donna prodded him in the chest. “Couldn’t you just see it?”

“No. No no. If it was that simple I would have done it. We were only able to share the present. I needed to look at the past. Different rules.” He rubbed his face. God this was primary school stuff for Time Lords. What did they teach humans these days?

“Oh don’t look at me like that, Martian. I’m not an idiot!” She glared at him. The Doctor looked at his friend wide-eyed. Oh Rassilon he had done it again, insulted his brilliant Bella Donna, but she just laughed at him. “I know. It’s not just me. It’s humans and their tiny brains.”

“Oh but you’re brilliant.” He protested. “Especially you Donna. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d have to make your own tea!” She teased.

“Don’t be so cruel.” He laughed and he grinned as he noticed his door, with his name inscribed in circular Gallifreyan, standing before them. “aha! Here we are!” 

“What’s that say then? Keep Out?” Donna traced her fingers over the letters and he felt a shiver go down his spine. 

“No.” He whispered breathlessly. “That’s my name.”

"The Doctor?” She asked as she continued to trace the letters. He caught her hand to stop the movements. Even though she couldn’t read the alien alphabet it felt far too intimate for her to be so close to part of his soul. 

“No.” He admitted. “Not the Doctor. My real name. There’s no one else alive that knows it now.” He mused thoughtfully. 

The only people that had known it were his parents and his childhood friends from the Academy. Adult Time Lords did not refer to each other by names it was highly inappropriate and considered to be the greatest disrespect. They preferred to use their chosen titles, such as the Doctor or the Corsair or the Master. Only spouses were permitted to use a Time Lord’s true name. Eventually only a Time Lord’s spouse would remember the name. It was a very intimate tradition. A name held power, the Carrionites were right about that and the Time Lord’s respected that power to the utmost degree. Even the Doctor respected that particular aspect of Time Lord etiquette and he wasn’t exactly known to be the most proper of Time Lords, but now his name was all he had left. He would honour his people by following this last tradition in the only way he could. His name would remain hidden until the day he chose a life partner and he had decided a very long time ago that that life really wasn’t for him. His first wife had died not knowing his name, it had been a marriage of convenience to please his parents, and every other alien bride he’d had since had never known the significance. 

“It’s umm… well it’s a Time Lord tradition. Long story.” He ran his hands through his hair.

Donna frowned and linked their fingers together. “Thank you for telling me.” She said quietly. “So magic time clock?” 

“Right. Through here.” He nodded and together they pushed open the door. 

Almost two years had passed in the time vortex whilst they were stuck in the time lock. The Doctor frowned as he adjusted the settings on his sonic screwdriver. He was in his workshop trying to fix his clock so it ignored the last two years of relative time. It would be difficult to keep track of the days if he constantly had to subtract the time they’d spent locked away and he did not want to miss Donna’s birthday. He wanted to take her somewhere spectacular for her birthday. Perhaps Midnight with its beautiful spas and anti-gravity restaurants. He might even be able to convince her to go on the shuttle to see the sapphire waterfalls together. They were supposed to be beautiful. 

Or maybe he could show her the Gallifrey room on the Tardis. It wasn’t the real thing but it was the closest thing to home that he had left. It had a few native plants and insects from his home planet, but mostly it was projections and clever Time Lord tricks that created the illusion of his home planet and the burning orange sky.

He’d never shown a companion that before. 

He sighed and hit the clock in his hands. “Come on!” 

“Didn’t you make that?” Donna asked from the doorway with two steaming mugs of what smelled like tea in her hands. 

“I improved it!” He amended. 

“But you can’t fix it?” Donna smirked.

“I can!” He protested pointing his screwdriver at her.

“Oi! Watch where you pointing that thing! I don’t want tea all over me, Sunshine!” She teased as she passed him his ‘I’m a Doctor’ mug. “If you can fix it…. why is it still saying we’ve been here for two years?” 

“It’s just taking some time. It’s very complicated timey wimey stuff!” He waved her away as he took a sip of his tea. “Blimey that’s good. How do you always make it so much better than me?”

“It needs a human touch.” She winked and sat on his workbench to watch him fiddle with the clock. After a couple more minutes of silence, except the sound of the sonic screwdriver buzzing in his hands. Donna let out a loud sigh and grabbed the clock from his hands. “Oh give it here, Spaceman.” 

The Doctor watched in wonder as Donna examined his special relative time clock. She nodded to herself and then pushed a couple of the buttons in sequence. “Donna, what are you…?”

“Shh!” She waved her hand in his direction and continued to click one of the buttons. “How many days am I subtracting?”

“Umm…” He looked at the clock and did a quick calculation. “703 days, 16 hours, 43 minutes and… 36 seconds.” 

“Right… that should be done. Give or take a few seconds.” Donna passed back the clock. It was two seconds too slow but that didn’t matter. 

He gaped at Donna in shock. “How?”

“Mum can never work out how to adjust the clocks when they go back. I have to sort out the car, the oven, the microwave oh and her mobile. It’s easy really.” Donna sipped her tea with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “You’re just a big dumbo.”

“Oh Donna Noble I bloody love you.” He grinned. “You are brilliant!”

“Oh stop it, Spaceman.”

“No you are!” He insisted. “Molto Bene!” He exclaimed excitedly. 

She rolled her eyes at him “Molto Bene.” She agreed.

Donna was in the library according to the Tardis. The Doctor rubbed his eyes wearily and made his way down the corridor from his bedroom, hoping the Old Girl would be nice and put the room closer to his bedroom. He’d changed into his old flannel pyjamas after they’d eaten dinner. It had almost been a relief when they started to get tired and hungry after so long stuck in the time lock. 

It had been a just over a month since they’d dropped off Martha in front of her house and he hadn’t managed to sleep properly since the few hours he’d caught in the tavern. Every time he closed his eyes since he’d been pulled awake by nightmares. 

He saw the faces of his companions all screaming at him, begging him to help them but they were always just out of reach. Just as he managed to brush the tips of their fingers their faces morphed into Rose. It was always Rose and then she fell into the void. No Pete there to save her in his dreams. His beautiful Rose just fell away into the darkness, screaming, tears streaming down her face. 

He saw the monsters and aliens he’d fought over the years. The choices he gave them. He begged them all to leave him alone so he didn’t have to hurt them but they kept coming, closer and closer, threatening all of those he ever loved. He had no choice. He had to stop them. He had to kill them. They all died cursing his name, his real name. 

He saw Gallifrey. 

It burned brightly and the glass around the citadel cracked as city fell to dust. Civilian Gallifreyans were running for their lives but he couldn’t save them. He couldn’t save them because they were running from him. He was the monster. He caused this. A pane of glass fell down in front of his face and his reflection was a hideous demon, satan himself.

And every night he woke up screaming, gasping for breath. 

Over the years he’d gotten used to the nightmares and developed ways to run from them. Mostly through putting off sleep and constantly running for his life. The adrenaline did wonders for his exhaustion levels. But ever since the tavern with Donna by his side he’d been craving sleep, a proper good night’s sleep. He’d tried every night when Donna had said her good byes for the evening, and every night he’d woken up screaming. He’d tried again tonight. He had thought that the time lock might have been enough to knock him out but alas it hadn’t done a damn thing. 

He was about to give up and get dressed when he remembered their conversation in the time lock, the experiment. Donna had agreed to test his hypothesis that she helped his nightmares. So he’d knocked on her door only to find she wasn’t in her room. The Tardis had helpfully informed him that she was in the library so he was off to find his friend. Hopefully she would agree to start their experiment a little earlier than she might have expected. 

He took a deep breath and ran his hands through his hair as he reached the library door. He knocked gently and then pushed the door open. Donna was lying in front of the fire place, her hair glowing in the firelight. There were books strewed all around her from her attempts to help organise the great library. He smiled softly, watching the slow rise and fall of her chest as she slept on the fluffy rug in front of the fire, and then quietly walked over to her. 

He couldn’t help himself and kissed her forehead before gently shaking her awake. “Donna, love.” She groaned and tried to swat him away but he was used to this by now. He’d woken her up enough times to know her routine. He stepped backwards just in time to avoid her flailing limbs. 

“s’too early.” She slurred sleepily. “piss off alien…”

“Come on, Donna. You can’t sleep here.” He stroked her hair gently trying to coax her awake enough to get her to a bed. Preferably his. For sleeping purposes only of course! He was a gentleman, well… he could be and he knew they were both too tired to really agree to anything more. 

“Watch me.” She grumbled, slightly more alive than before. 

“Donna, your mum’s here.” He teased, knowing she was too tired to realise he was joking. It worked.

Donna bolted upright, her hair a mess with an imprint of the rug on her cheek. “You what?!” She snapped then hit him on the arm. “Don't joke about that, spaceman! She’d have a fit if she saw the Tardis. Christ!”

“Morning, Pumpkin!” He grinned. 

“It’s not bloody morning, Sunshine!” She glared. “You’re having me on?”

He thought about trying to convince her it really was the morning but that really wouldn’t help him with what he wanted to achieve. He shrugged. “Nah. It’s late. I thought you might prefer a bed to the rug.”

“Quite right.” Donna agreed. “My back will thank you for that. Come on then.” She wearily hauled herself off the carpet. He stood up with her and she took his hand. “Lead the way.”

The Doctor looked down at her. Did she mean? Had she read his mind? He quickly tested his mental defences. They were still up. 

Did you tell her? He asked the Tardis, he got a negative response back from his ship. 

“You’re in your pyjamas, you’ve clearly tried to sleep. I remember the time lock just as well as you, you prawn.” She answered his unspoken question. “Your bed is bigger so I vote your room, and no funny business!” She shot him a firm look. 

“Yes, Ma’am.” He grinned and they walked hand in hand towards his bedroom.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was seething. He’d been in a sulk ever since they had left Manhattan. He’d retreated back to his own bedroom and he clearly wasn’t sleeping well at all. He was looking paler everyday, his hair was flopping limply in front of his face and he had dark circles under his eyes. If Donna was being truly honest she’d say he looked like crap. He’d taken the destruction of the Dalek/Human hybrid terribly. He was a broken man.

Those pepper pot creature were apparently the creatures that the Time Lords were fighting in the war that destroy his home, and no matter how hard he tried to destroy them, they kept coming back. Even with all that he’d been distraught to see the new hybrid species wiped out. For a beautiful shining moment Time Lord and Dalek had been working together. 

Donna had tried to help her friend but he’d blocked her out. Just when she’d finally managed to get him to open up to her, the stupid Daleks had ruined everything. They hadn’t been on any adventures since Manhattan and he’d barely said a word to her. She’d made him a cup of tea every morning in his favourite mug but most days it had remained completely untouched and she’d had to pour the cold brown liquid down the sink. 

Even the Tardis sang a melancholy song in the back of her mind.

Donna was going insane. She desperately wanted to help her friend. She’d tried her Nan’s banana bread recipe, she’d tried putting on The Lion King in the big TV room, she’d tried giving him space, retreating back into the library whilst he skulked around his workshop. She’d suggested a trip to a brand new alien planet, one she’d found in an encyclopaedia on the dusty old shelves in the library. Nothing was working. She would normally pull him into a hug but he hadn’t even wanted to hold hands recently so she had restrained herself. 

She tried to understand. She really did. The Daleks had terrified her. She now had a brand new nightmare to add to her growing collection, the blinding flashing light, the way the body turned into a skeleton before collapsing dead on the floor, the voice. She shuddered. It was that voice that really haunted her, and on judging his reaction when he heard it, it was the voice that haunted him too. From what she could tell, it had been the Daleks, and something called the Cybermen, that had been fighting at Canary Wharf. The battle which had claimed Rose as its victim. She wondered if she’d ever not be able to compare herself to his lost friend. She wondered if he would ever stop comparing them too. The girl had this hold over him that seemed impossible to break. It was heartbreaking. She just wanted him to be happy.

Try as she might she couldn’t quite process the grief the Doctor was feeling. It was beyond her comprehension, and, selfishly, she was getting bored. The Tardis was wonderful. It was home but even with all its beautiful rooms, many of which she had now had more time to explore. She hadn’t been outside the blue box for almost a week and she was going a little stir crazy. Of course, that also made her feel incredibly guilty. She should be able to cope with the Doctor taking a moment of downtime to process his grief. It just wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t thrown all his walls back up so harshly. 

She watched the mad alien as he stared into the glowing pillar of the engine. His eyes never quite focussing on the movements of the strange glass column. It was so sad, so haunting. Donna couldn’t handle it anymore. She had to get out. She had to breathe. 

“Doctor.” She called to her friend softly. His sad brown eyes flitted up to meet her gaze but he offered no response. “I was thinking…” She paused to make sure she chose her next words extremely carefully. She didn’t want him to think she was leaving him, or even worse for him to dump her and go flying off never to see her again. “Perhaps I could go visit Gramps.”

“You want to leave?” He asked quietly, his eyes turning dark and stormy in an instant. “Not enough adventure for you. What? Did you get bored?” 

Donna felt every cell of her body try and snap back at the Doctor but she knew he was hurting. Now wasn’t the time to fight back. She let the words wash over her as she took a deep breath. “You’re hurting.” She said softly. “What happened in New York was…” She couldn’t think of the right word. Nothing seemed grand enough to sum up the events of Manhattan. “It was terrible.” She settled.

“Scared you off then? The Daleks have that effect on people.” He muttered bitterly.

“No.” Donna snapped back with her glare, God he was being a complete nob. She was beginning to lose her patience. “Now listen here, Time Lord!” He glared fiercely at her but didn’t interrupt. “I am going to talk, and you are going to listen! Capiche?”

“Yes dear” He mumbled still glaring at her.

“You need time or space or whatever, and maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m bored of staying in the Tardis.” She said firmly, he winced but she ignored him. “I’ve tried to help you but you seemed determined to push away any kind of help or comfort. So you are going to take me home, mister.”

“Fine.” He spat and jumped to his feet to start the journey but Donna pushed him back into his seat. 

“Not forever! I just want to see my family and I can’t watch you self destruct like this. It’s killing me.” She put her hand on his cheek and silently begged him to understand. To her surprise his eyes actually went wide and he leaned into her touch. Her Doctor was finally starting to break through the cold mask he’d been wearing for the last week. “But if you don’t want me to go, I can stay.” She breathed quietly as if she might scare him off if she spoke too loud.

“No. You’re right.” He covered her hand with his own and then pulled it down to his lips. Her breath stilled in her chest as he pressed a kiss to her fingers. “I’ve not been myself. I still need time.”

“I can stay.” She insisted. 

“No, that’s not fair. Go see your family. I’ll pick you up when I’m ready.” He whispered. 

“Don’t do anything stupid whilst I’m gone.” She teased gently.

He laughed sadly. “Would I ever?” 

“Yes!” She chided. “No adventures without me. You promise?” She insisted. If he went off on another adventure like this then it would not end well, she knew him well enough to realise that. 

“Cross my hearts.” He smiled softly and kissed her forehead. Donna sighed in relief. He would be ok. For the first time in days she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a hug. 

“Take me home then, Spaceman.” She said quietly and kissed his cheek as she let go. 

Donna was sat in the tiny kitchen of her mum’s house slowly losing the will to live. Sylvia Noble was doing what she did best and making Donna feel like she was the size of an ant. It was all “Why don’t you have any pictures of your travels?” and “I knew it wouldn’t last!” and “Why can’t you just get a stable job and a proper man?”. It was enough to make Donna want to tear her hair out. Why had she ever thought this was a good idea?

She sipped her peppermint tea and rolled her eyes, smiling at her dad when she caught his eyes. Donna was worried about him. He was losing weight and he had a horrible gaunt look on his face. Something was very wrong but neither of her parents would admit to it. She desperately wished she could call the Doctor but she knew he needed space. It wouldn’t do to ring him before he was ready to come back to her. 

“I’m just saying! It’s extremely rude of that man to drop you off without even saying hello.” Her mum said as she flitted around the kitchen putting the groceries away. “Are you even sure he’s coming back?”

“Yes!” Donna snapped. She didn’t need to start doubting that, of course the thought had crossed her mind a few times but she continued to banish it. She kept hold of her memory of the Doctor’s face just before he’d dropped her off. The constant kisses to her hair and forehead. The feel of his hand in hers. He was her best friend and she had faith he would come back. “Yes.” She repeated more quietly. “I’m sure.”

“He’s been good for you, sweetheart.” He dad said weakly earning himself a glare from her mother. 

“Geoffrey!” She chided. “He swept her up, ruined her wedding and dumped her back on our doorstep. He’s been nothing but trouble. Nothing!” 

“But Sylvie, love. Can’t you see how much brighter she’s shining?” Her dad insisted and Donna flashed him a grateful smile. It was good to know he was on her side. 

“Thanks, Dad.” She mumbled and then stood up, kicking the chair out from behind her. “I’m gonna go see Gramps.” She decided. He’d understand. “I’ll take more photos when I can.” She added to her mum, hopefully that would help shut her up. 

“Too right you will!” Sylvia called after her as he put on her jacket and made her way out the house. 

It was cold outside and the stars were twinkling in the darkness. It felt strange to be looking up at them from Earth. How many of those stars had she seen from the other side of the universe? She plodded slowly up the hill and pulled her coat tighter around her. It was one of the few coats she’d left in her bedroom and was not meant for the cold weather. She thought fondly of the Doctor’s long brown coat and how many times she’d ended up wearing it over the last four and a half months but that was currently half way across the universe with her best friend. She shivered and continued up the hill towards her gramps’s favourite spot. It was far enough away from the house that Sylvia would not bother them, and a little bit away from all the light pollution so on a clear night he could see more stars. 

She grinned and hugged her arms closer to her chest when she spotted him sitting in his little chair, his telescope pointing up at the sky. “Permission to board ship, sir?” She saluted the old man as she drew closer. 

Gramps turned to face her with a laugh. It was their traditional greeting up on the hill and a tradition she took very seriously. “Permission granted.” He saluted back. “She nagging you?”

“Oh, big time.” Donna rolled her eyes. She didn’t know what she would do without her grandad. He was her guiding light. “You see anything?” She asked hopefully. 

He’d promised to keep an eye out for the Doctor in his little blue box. She knew it was pointless, he’d probably just materialise in their back garden or somewhere nearby. It was unlikely he’d fly through space in front of the telescope, the Tardis wasn’t too fond of spacial travel. She preferred to travel in the vortex as Donna had learnt on her very first adventure. The machine had caught fire and she’d been stranded on the rooftop with the Doctor. 

“No. Nothing yet. He’ll be here soon, sweetheart. It’s only been a few days.” Gramps offered her a reassuring smile. She plopped down on the grass next to him and rested her head against his arm.

“I know.” She sighed. “But what if he forgets me?” She asked quietly. She tried not to think about it. She really did but sometimes the thought just wouldn’t leave her alone. Her mum’s taunts really didn’t help the matter either.

“Forget our Donna?” Her gramps laughed loudly. “I don’t think anyone has ever forgotten you, love. You shout too much.” 

“Oi!” She teased him. “I only shout when I need to be heard.”

“I know, sweetheart.” He patted her shoulder. “Tell me about the aliens again!” He laughed. 

Donna rolled her eyes. She had already told him all about her travels with the Doctor. From the charity funded evacuation of humans out into the stars, to Pompeii and The Judoon on the Moon, and Shakespeare and the Carrionites. She’d told him the lighter version of the Daleks, trying to make them less terrifying but she did admit that that was the adventure that had affected her Time Lord so badly. She’d omitted to tell him about the time lock, he didn’t need to know she’d accidentally gotten them stuck in the time vortex for just under two years. Plus, apart from the Doctor, there weren’t any aliens in that one. 

“You’ve already heard it all!” Donna exclaimed. 

“I wanna hear it again!” He insisted like a child at bedtime who just wanted to hear one more story. “My Donna, out in the stars.” He sighed happily. “Well done, sweetheart.”

“Oh stop it. I just got lucky. Lance did me a favour dosing me up with all the Huon particles.” Donna laughed. “I’d have never met the Doctor otherwise. I can’t even remember my life before him. It all seems like a blur. Another life.” 

“He wouldn’t have taken you with him if you weren’t so special, Donna. That’s more than luck!” The old man beamed down at her. It was an argument they’d had before and Wilf always won. No one believed in Donna more than Wilfred Mott, except perhaps a strange mad man in a blue box. 

Donna was about to launch into a story about the Macra in New New York when her phone started to ring. She froze for a second and stared at her gramps before rummaging though her pockets for her mobile. 

The Doctor!

But her heart sank when she read the caller ID. It wasn’t the Time Lord, or even Martha. 

It was bloody Nerys. 

She scowled at the phone, contemplating letting it ring out but she knew Nerys would just keep ringing until she picked up. “Nerys! Hi!” She rolled her eyes and Gramps scowled, gesturing for her to hang up the phone. 

“I can’t.” She mouthed at him. 

“Donna! Your mum told my mum you were back! How come you never said anything?” Nerys trilled in her ear. “Oh never mind! We know now! How have you been? Last thing we heard, you went travelling with that handsome doctor friend of yours! Ooh he was fine. How did you manage it? And on your wedding day of all days!” 

Donna raised an eyebrow and held the phone away from her ear. She wondered briefly how long Nerys could carry on before realising that Donna hadn’t answered any of her questions. Her gramps stifled a laugh behind his hands. 

“You are such a tramp! None of us could believe it. Poor Lance! Did you hear that he died under the Thames? Some funny looking military men came round the house and told his mum. On Christmas day too! So tragic.”

“Hmm…” Donna agreed. “Yeah. I was there.” She admitted. Nerys shrieked in her ear and Donna winced. 

“No! Way! You were there?! Oh Donna! I’m so sorry! Was it awful?!” Nerys cried.

“What do you think?” Donna snapped into the phone. “It’s not just some Thursday night gossip, Nerys! A man died. Have some respect.” 

Donna had come to terms with Lance’s death and with the Doctor’s helped she’d managed to mend her broken heart. The knowledge that he’d never loved her and had been using her the whole time helped. She wasn’t ready to jump into a romantic relationship any time soon, despite the ever growing feelings she had for the Doctor, but she was healing and Lance’s death no longer haunted her the way it had at the beginning. She still felt guilty on some days but she tried to remember the Doctor’s words when she’d told him about it. Still that didn’t mean she wanted to relive the whole thing to satisfy Nerys’s endless need for gossip. 

“I just can’t believe he’s gone.” Nerys sobbed and Donna rolled her eyes. She’d noticed the way the pair of them had been dancing at her reception without her. She wasn’t blind or stupid.

“Geez Nerys. One might think you were engaged to him.” Donna drawled into the phone. She wondered if the other girl would notice if Donna hung up on her. 

“Donna!” She gasped. “I would never! Oh never mind all that. The girls and I were wondering if you wanted to come to the pub tonight?”

“Umm…” Donna scowled at the sudden change of subject. 

“Oh come on Don! Whilst you’re in town. It’s been ages since we all caught up properly!” Nerys insisted. 

“Sure.” Donna sighed. With any luck the Doctor would arrive beforehand and she wouldn’t have to go. “Why not?” 

“Awesome! Usual pub. See you soon girl!” Nerys chimed and hung up. 

Donna stared at her phone and cursed. That was one benefit of being away from the Tardis. She could swear properly again. Praise the lord! “Bloody Martian better hurry up.” She muttered and tossed the phone down on the grass. “Unless… No.”

“What is it, sweetheart?” Her gramps asked.

“It would be very clever… might not work.” Donna murmured under her breath. She picked up the phone and dialled the Tardis’s console phone. He didn’t pick up but that was ok. She wasn’t expecting him to. “Hi Spaceman. It’s me. Donna. You probably already knew that. Pretty sure this phone never rings. I need a favour. I know you’re not ready but if you could do some wonderful timey wimey stuff and pick me up at…” She paused. “What date is it?” She asked Gramps and then repeated it back into the phone. “I’ll explain when you get here.” She was about to hang up when a thought hit her. “Oh and I made banana loaf before you dropped me off. It should still be fresh. Make sure you eat something!” 

She would have said more but the answer phone cut her off. 

“Do you think that’ll work?” Gramps asked her but before Donna could answer she heard the telltale sound of the Tardis materialising and her hair began to whip around her face. Wilf shielded his eyes with his hands and watched as the Tardis faded into view. 

Donna’s heart leapt in her chest and she scrambled to her feet just as the door flung open. “Did someone call for the Doctor?" The Doctor said cheerily. He looked a lot better than he had when she left. The dark circles were still there but at least his suit looked clean and he’d obviously taken some time to style his hair. 

“Spaceman!” Donna cried and ran to hug her friend. He opened his arms and picked her up just as she reached him. 

“Bella Donna!” He murmured into her hair. “Oh I missed you.”

“Is this it?” Wilf said excitedly. "The Tardis?”

“Oh Hello again, Wilf." The Doctor put her back down and smiled sheepishly at her gramps. “Yup. This is her. My ship. Did you want a look?” 

“Oh can I?” Her gramps clasped his hands together and stumbled to his feet. 

“Go on. I won’t tell Sylvia if you won’t." The Doctor winked at the old man and all three of them walked back into the Tardis. The Old Girl welcomed Donna gleefully and Donna trailed her fingers along the railings.

“Hey girl.” She whispered. “I missed you too.” 

“Cor! Blimey!” Gramps cried as he entered the small wooden box. “It’s bigger on the inside! It’s really bigger on the inside! Oh Donna this is… this is… Blimey!” 

The Doctor and Donna laughed at Wilf’s sheer amazement as the Doctor took her hand. She was starting to see why he’d been so amused by Martha’s reaction. It was funny to see people’s reactions to the miracle ship. The Tardis giggled happily and Donna noticed the lights begin to glow brighter. 

“I think she likes you Wilfred Mott." The Doctor beamed. “What is it about your family Donna? You’ve got my old ship completely wrapped around your little finger.”

“It’s the old Mott/Noble charm.” Donna shrugged and squeezed his hand. She’d really missed him. It had only been a couple of days for her but she had a feeling it had been a lot longer for him. 

“Come on then. I guess I should probably say hi before we leave." The Doctor scowled at ran his hand through his hair. “I left pretty quickly before.”

“Do we have to?” Donna whined. 

“Donna’s been invited out with her friends.” Her gramps said and Donna glared at him. The traitor.

“Ooh lovely!" The Doctor grinned. “You invited me back for a party!” 

“You don’t like parties.” Donna raised an eyebrow. The Doctor had never shown any inclination for something so mundane as a human party. “And it’s just drinks with the girls.”

“Brilliant! Let’s go!” He pulled her out of the Tardis and Wilf ran after them pulling the door shut. 

“No no no! This is the exact opposite of why I called you?!” Donna protested. 

The Doctor dug his heels in and they slammed to a stop. “You don’t want to see your friends?” He pouted.

“You’re my best friend, and you hate Nerys.” Donna pointed out. 

“True.” He admitted. “on both counts.”

“So Tardis?” Donna asked hopefully. “We’ve said hi to Gramps. That’s the main thing!” 

“No. You can’t forget your friends, Donna." The Doctor scowled. “If something happens to me.”

“It won’t!” Donna insisted. “I wouldn’t let anything happen.”

“If something happens. You need to have your life back home intact." The Doctor ignored her protests. “Come on. It’ll be fun. I’ll protect you?” He gave her his best puppy eyes and Donna felt her resolve crumble. 

“Ah! Fine! We’ll go.” Donna pouted. “I blame you for this!” Donna pointed at her gramps who was back in his chair on the hill. 

“Have a good time, sweetheart! Look after her Doctor!” He called after them as they marched back towards the house. 

“I always do!" The Doctor called back.

Donna was being petty. She knew she was being petty and she was probably ruining everything. She had missed her friend desperately but here she was refusing to talk to him in the passenger seat of her mum’s car. She’d refused to drive in the hope that he would finally agree to go back to the Tardis but whatever had happened in their time apart had turned him into a right stubborn git, and one that actually wanted to do human things! She wondered what on Earth had gotten into him. At least his car driving skills weren’t as bad as his Tardis driving skills. Maybe he’d actually passed his driving test for this vehicle.

“I really did miss you, you know?" The Doctor broke the tense silence as he pulled into the car park. "The Tardis was so quiet with you gone.”

“She likes me best.” Donna quipped. She knew how precious the Doctor was about his relationship with his ship.

“I think you might be right.” He laughed. “But I didn’t mean like that.”

“I know what you meant.” Donna glared at him as he pulled up the handbrake. “Come on. Let’s get this over with.” She went to pull on the door handle but the Doctor caught her hand.

“We can go if you really don’t want to do this." The Doctor said with a sad look in his eyes. “I don’t want you to be angry with me.”

Donna looked at him, searching for answers in those soft warm hazel eyes of his and sighed. “I’m not angry with you.” She admitted. “I missed you, a lot, and it was only a couple of days.” 

“About a week." The Doctor admitted. “I was being a bit of a prat wasn’t I?”

Donna laughed. “A bit. But I get it. I’m being one now.”

The Doctor joined in with her laughter. “Yeah. Why don’t you want to go?” 

“The last time I saw them was at my disaster of a wedding. They didn’t even care enough to stop the reception.” Donna answered quietly quickly wiping her eyes to get rid of the tears that threatened to fall.  the Doctor didn’t say anything. He just pulled her into an awkward sideways hug. The handbrake dug into her hip but it didn’t matter. He was back. He hadn’t left to run off into the stars without her. “They only invited me to laugh.” Donna sighed.

“Well then let’s show them just how brilliant you are.” He suggested with a cheeky grin. 

Donna pulled back to look at him suspiciously. She narrowed her eyes at him. “What exactly were you thinking?”

This was a stupid idea. Donna had no idea why she had agreed to it. It was better when the Doctor had no plan, which let’s be honest is most of the time. This was worse than volunteering to go down the sewers in Manhattan, it was worse than trying to fight the Pyroville with a water pistol, at least that was semi successful, it was worse than jumping carriage to carriage in a highly toxic death motorway with killer crabs at the bottom. This was honestly the worst plan he’d had in the entire time she known him, and he’d had some truly terrible plans. 

“Donna!” Nerys waved at her frantically. Her friend was completely dolled up and her hair was impossible even blonder than the last time they’d seen each other, although her roots were coming through badly. Donna tried to remember why she always felt so jealous of her friend. She was not half as attractive as she remembered. “Oh and you brought the handsome doctor friend!” 

The Doctor’s hand was in the small of her back. He’d refused to change out of his pinstripe suit but at least he’d agreed to wear the blue one so it wasn’t exactly the same outfit as the wedding. Donna had reluctantly put the bio-damp ring on a gold chain to wear around her neck. The Doctor had pointed out it would probably give off the wrong impression if she kept wearing it on her ring finger and this time they weren’t aiming to give off the married vibe. Tonight he was simply her boyfriend.

Donna was starting to wonder how they always ended up pretending to be in relationships, and come to think of it, how often it was the Doctor’s idea. She’d have to quiz him on that later. It was probably a strange coincidence, he probably hadn’t even realised. She was reading into things too much. Just because your best friend keeps orchestrating a fake dating scenario it doesn’t mean he fancies you, no matter how handsome he is or how much he makes you laugh or how much you wanted it to be real. Donna took a deep breath and tried to stop her thoughts. They were leading down a dangerous path.

“Hey girls!” Donna plastered a fake smile on her face and waved to the group. “Sorry we’re late. You remember the Doctor?” She snuggled closer to his chest and smiled sweetly up at him.

“John Smith, Hi, but that’s boring so most of my friends call me the Doctor." The Doctor explained with a dazzling smile.

“John, darling, you remember Nerys? And that’s Veena and Charlie.” Donna introduced him to the girls and he gave a little wave. “Sorry to invite him last minute. His business arrangement finished earlier than expected but I just couldn’t disappoint you.”

Nerys, Veena and Charlie looked between Donna and the Doctor in shock, clearly trying to work out what the deal was between them. None of them could believe that such a handsome young man would settle for Donna. Donna didn’t blame them either but then again it wasn’t actually real so they weren’t exactly wrong. 

“I thought I’d surprise her but that kind of backfired when she told me she had plans." The Doctor kissed her hair, like he so often did. “I hope you don’t mind me tagging along.”

“Oh no! Not at all.” Nerys simpered and batted her eyelids at the Doctor in a ridiculously obvious attempt to flirt with him. Typical Nerys, always wanting something that didn’t belong to her. “It’ll be great to get to know the infamous doctor better.” The blonde practically purred. “Donna’s been ever so evasive about you.”

“Doctor! Let’s go get the girls a round of drinks! Usual I suppose? Right! good!” Donna pulled him away from the table towards the bar. “This isn’t going to work.” Donna hissed at the Doctor. She hated watching Nerys flirt so openly with her apparent boyfriend and she didn’t want him getting lured in by her charms. The woman was toxic. 

“Why not?" The Doctor whispered in her ear as they made their way to the bar. The crowd parted before him like the Red Sea, it was ridiculous. Donna wondered whether it was a Time Lord thing or whether it was just because he was tall. She normally had to fight her way to the bar. At least having big boobs meant she got served pretty quickly once she got there. 

“Because they are never going to believe you’re with me. Look at you!” Donna gestured in his vague direction.

“I am rather handsome aren’t I?" The Doctor winked. “Does that mean you finally admit it?” 

“No. Yes. Oh shut up!” Donna glared at him. “Missing the point!”

“But you’re beautiful Donna, and smart and funny and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. You’ve saved my life so many times." The Doctor said sincerely, making Donna’s heart do all sorts of acrobatics which just wasn’t fair. 

“You don’t mean that.” She mumbled as she tried to hide her blush behind her hair and waved down a barman. 

“I promised not to lie to you Donna." The Doctor insisted. 

Donna ordered their drinks for the table and pulled out her wallet. She’d forgotten how expensive a round of drinks were in London. It was much cheaper on the colonies in outer space. She almost paid the barman in credits but the Doctor caught her hand before she could hand over her shiny silver space credit card. “I still don’t think it’ll work.” Donna muttered as they waiting for their drinks. “Nerys is already flirting with you.”

“Was she? I didn’t notice.” He replied honestly.

“Oh come off it. She was all fluttery eyelids and come to bed voice. She couldn’t have been more obvious if she started playing Christmas carols and started dedicating her love to you through signs!”

“Oooh I love that movie! The bit with Hugh Grant dancing in Downing Street. I suggested that. Smashing bloke." The Doctor said wistfully. “But honestly I didn’t notice. We could always up the act?” 

“Oh yeah? And how do you plan on doing that?” Donna rolled her eyes. He’d already been glued to her side and kissed her hair and she’d called him darling. She didn’t think they needed to be anymore obvious. Nerys was just a cow. 

The Doctor pulled her closer to him and kissed her cheek. “Trust me?” He breathed in her ear.

Donna nodded, not quite trusting her own voice as her heart began to race in her chest. Stupid Time Lord with his stupid sexy voice and oh! The Doctor was kissing her. His lips were warm and soft against hers and she froze whilst her brain tried to catch up with what he was doing. He pulled back ever so slightly. “Donna?”

Donna felt the butterflies in her stomach and she suddenly felt a little light-headed. She reminded herself it was all a game, an act to impress her friends. Well she would not be out done. She laced her fingers through his hair and pulled him back in, snogging him like her life depended on it until she was gasping for breath. She pulled back with a smug look on her face when she noticed he looked more than a little dazed. 

“Umm… your drinks are ready, miss.” The poor barman said with a mortified look in his eyes. Donna winked at him and swiped up two of the drinks. The Doctor would have to carry the rest, if he ever snapped out of his daze. She still had it then. That was good to know.

The Doctor was playing with a lock of Donna’s hair as she chatted amicably with her friends. Shockingly, he was actually enjoying himself although that probably more to do with the act he got to play with Donna rather than the event itself. He’d been wanting to kiss her again ever since the hospital but none of their fake marriage acts so far had required that much PDA. It was more a game of their company assumed they were married so it was easier to play along than deny it. 

The last few weeks alone in the Tardis had been hell. He’d hated every second. He had missed her desperately and her little attempts to cheer him up. The first morning he’d walked into the kitchen and there hadn’t been a mug of tea waiting for him he’d instantly burst into tears. He’d taken the genocide of the Dalek/human hybrid hard. For the first time since the Time War he’d seen something in the Daleks that he liked. For first time they weren’t obsessed with destruction and death. For the first time he’d seen some humanity in them. His beloved adopted race had taken the universes most lethal killing machines and made them kind. 

Human Dalek Sec had been brilliant. He was bright and shining and new. An utter genius. He had a vision that would bring Daleks into a new era and let them grow in peace amongst the stars. The Doctor had even offered to use the Tardis to help the new race find a home. A Dalek and Time Lord working in harmony and all because of one tiny little human. It was going to be brilliant but the dream was ripped apart and the Doctor watched all scraps of hope be torn to shred by the Daleks. They would rather die a machine than become something worth fighting for. 

Donna hadn’t understood but she’d been there for him whilst he grieved what might have been, a whole time line turned to dust, and he’d just pushed her away. He’d paid the price for that. The first night after she left he’d torn his room apart. He couldn’t face sleep without her. His bed suddenly seemed too big, too cold. He was so alone. He’d heard the phone ring in the console room but couldn’t face her. She was too good to him, even if that sometimes meant yelling at him. By the second week he’d been ready to crawl back to her and beg her to forgive his moods but he’d been a complete mess. He’d even been a coward and lied to her about how long it had been for him.

Not to mention that the Tardis had been a complete state. He hadn’t had the energy to even move old mugs to the sink, let alone the trail of bits and bobs that were scattered around from his tinkering in the workshop. So he’d tidied up the best he could, without the Tardis’s help. All the dishes were done, the books in the library were now almost all sorted just how Donna had wanted, he’d had a shower and done all their laundry. He had a feeling that the Tardis chipped in with that one to make sure nothing got ruined because everything came out perfectly ironed and ready to be put away. He owed her an apology, big time but tidying up was a good start. He had no right to shut her out like he had, not after everything she had sacrificed with him. 

One thing he now knew for certain was that he wasn’t ready to live without Donna Noble and he would do everything in his power to keep her in his life. Even if that meant making sure she didn’t forget her home. That was a mistake he’d made with Rose. She’d become too dependent on him and the things she had done to stay by his side were too much. His own Tardis had almost paid the price. Donna had already shown that she could do the difficult thing and say goodbye. He shuddered as he remembered Calibris, his brilliant best friend had had a time reaver bomb stuck to her back. He’d been the reckless one that time. He couldn’t let her die like that, not a time reaver bomb. Thankfully they had both made it out alive… mostly. The centuries he’d spent in his own mind had been….difficult. 

At least he’d had the delight of seeing Donna all… wenchy. That had been a brilliant outfit, he should probably land in the right timezone for her to wear it again. No. That was a bad idea. She’d notice. Worth a shot though?

“Doctor?” Donna put her hand on his cheek and he blinked back into the present day. “Hi you.” She said fondly.

“Hello.” He smiled back dopily, his brilliant runaway bride. 

“We lost you for a moment there, honey.” Donna looked concerned. He leaned in a kissed her chastely, making the most of their cover for the evening. 

“Sorry, love.” He winked. “Just thinking about New York.” He admitted, hoping she would understand. 

“Oooh!” Nerys giggled. “What happened in New York?” 

Donna laughed easily. “Oh which time? We liked it so much we went back! Didn’t we, sugar?” She squeezed his hand and leant her head against his shoulder. 

“Well we got a bit lost the first time. I forgot how bad the traffic could be and tried to take a diversion. Ended up in a bit of a dodgy part.” He smiled sheepishly. 

“But my wonderful dazzling Doctor, he helped a whole bunch of people get out of a terrible loop. They were either suffering drug addictions or choking from pollution in the street. He helped clean it all up. They are on track for a brighter life because of him.” Donna told them excitably. The Doctor blushed. He wasn’t used to being praised for saving people like he did. He very rarely got a thank you, and his friends just wanted the adventures and the stars. Oh Donna never failed to surprise him. 

“But I couldn’t have done it without Donna, and an old friend turned up to help too." The Doctor added.

“Nonsense!” Donna chided. “He’s always too modest.”

Her friends were completely absorbed with their tales, even without knowing that the New York they were talking about was on a completely different planet. Donna was manipulating the story so easily that even he might have been convinced if he hadn’t have been there. 

“What about the second time?” Veena asked with wonder in her voice. 

“The second time we actually got to see some theatre! We met a wonderful actress called Tallulah and her boyfriend Frank.” Donna smirked at him mischievously. 

“Wow! People are called that in New York?” Charlie looked stunned. “I thought that was just the movies.”

“Her parents were massive geeks about the old movies.” Donna explained.

“And we got to visit the Empire State Building." The Doctor chimed in. “Right to the very top.”

“The view was electrifying.” Donna giggled making the Doctor laugh. 

“Oh yes. That it was.” He placed a kiss on her hair and breathed in her sweet vanilla scent. 

Donna’s friends squealed at his display of affection and both him and Donna blushed and pulled apart slightly, putting some distance between them. He was getting far too caught up in their act and he knew it. If he wasn’t careful he was going to get his hearts broken. They were friends, best friends, nothing more. She probably was still grieving Lance. Even if he was a bastard. 

And the more he thought about it, the more he realised that he was thinking of Rose less and less every day. Donna was helping him mend his broken heart, and even more than that she was helping him to realise that maybe he feelings for Rose were closer to infatuation than romantic love. The more he thought back on his time with his friend, the more he realised just how many times she’d put them both in exponential danger. Sure, she always helped him to find a way out but if she had listened to him more, then they would have had a lot safer travels. The stunt she’d played with her father was a prime example, then running off into the parallel universe when he’d told her to stay put, coming back to him by ripping his poor Tardis apart with a tow truck. As Donna so frequently said, she probably could have just asked nicely. The Tardis would have known how much danger was in, she would have wanted to help. 

And maybe Rose was more than a little infatuated with him too. That hadn’t been fair to her or Mickey. He’d enjoyed the attention at the time but Mickey hadn’t deserved that, Mickey was actually quite clever now he thought about it. Rose had been far too comfortable to flirt with Adam, and then Jack and even Mickey, in front of the Doctor for her to really love him. Yeah, it was probably just infatuation. After all he’d probably seduced her with the stars. 

He sighed. 

It was all much easier when he was able to pretend that he didn’t love his companions. He’d grown a bit lax at that in the last few regenerations. It was too late now. He looked down on the brilliant redhead next to him with her golden blue eyes like galaxies and her flaming hair and her glorious beautiful kind soul. 

It was far too late. 

“Ooh!” Nerys squealed. “We should go dancing!” and the other two girls yelled loudly in agreement. 

“Oh no. No. We can’t. We have to go. Got a thing early tomorrow.” Donna waved her hands in front of her and shook her head but it didn’t look like Nerys was going to back down easily. 

“Oh come on, Don! You never come dancing anymore! You’re too busy with all that travelling!” Veena shrilled and pouted. 

“No. Best not.” Donna insisted. “Right, John, sweetie?” She glared up at him fiercely. It was too tempting. Far too tempting. He hadn’t been to a proper party since Reinette in France and Donna was far too fun to wind up. 

“Oh. I don’t know.” He grinned. “One dance can’t hurt love.” 

Donna gaped up at him with fire in his eyes. “Oh you…” She hissed under her breath. “dumb Martian.” 

He leaned down to whisper in her ear. “I’m not from Mars.”

Donna swatted his arm and rolled her eyes. “Nope! We are leaving. We have an early flight.” 

Donna glared at her friend all the way back in the car and the all the way back to the Tardis. They had waved a quick goodbye to her parents and then walked straight back out the house towards the hill. She just wanted to go back to the Tardis. This act was starting to confuse her heart and she didn’t think she could keep it up much longer. He was being far too convincing, which shouldn’t have surprised her. He was able to talk the pants off all sorts of aliens whilst trying to save the day, of course he could dazzle her friends and convince them all that he was dating her in the same move. Donna prayed that it wouldn’t get back to her mother. She should probably text Gramps just in case, some preemptive damage control. 

How on Earth were they supposed to go back to acting like just friends after tonight? She’d fallen so easily into the routine of girlfriend, and honestly it really wasn’t too much different to how they usually acted. If anything their pet names were less extreme than their usual act, and the only big difference was the kissing. After the big snog for show, the Doctor had taken that as a green light and had kissed her, more gently, more chastely probably half a dozen times over the course of the night. Every single time had made Donna’s heart soar before she reminded herself it was just an act and it came crashing down. Maybe she was more over Lance than she thought. 

Maybe she’d never really loved him at all. She’d just been so desperate to get married. She been so desperate to be a woman that her mother could be proud of, and she had been haunted by the sound of her biological clock. She’d always wanted to be a mother. She supposed that was very unlikely to happen now. She couldn’t start raising children on the Tardis, plus who could she meet? She couldn’t imagine the Doctor would be too happy for her to bring a partner on board. Maybe she could adopt? It still wouldn’t be right to bring a child onto their life on the Tardis. 

“Oh come on Donna.” He pouted. “It wasn’t that bad!” 

“What if Mum finds out that we’re supposedly dating? She’ll think I lied to her!” Donna yelled at the Time Lord.

“Yes. That’s very true… but…” He paused dramatically. “We totally showed Nerys.” He grinned and Donna couldn’t help but laugh.

“Oh God. Did you see her face when we came back from the bar?” She giggled. “I thought she was going to grow horns!”

“Now now Donna, that’s cruel. There are loads of horned alien species that are perfectly lovely." The Doctor teased.

“Hmm.. What about turn into one of those Macra creatures from New Earth?” Donna suggested.

The Doctor thought about it and nodded. “They did try to kill you.” He agreed as he unlocked the Tardis. They were home at last. For Donna it had only been a couple of days, but it felt like a life time without her best friend by her side. Had she really only known him for just over four months?

“They did but you saved me. You always save me.” She gazed up at her wonderful mad man. 

“Of course I do.” He pulled her into a hug. “What would I do without my Bella Donna?”

Donna’s heart was racing in her chest. They were alone now. There was no need to act like a couple and yet it felt like nothing had changed at all. 

Maybe that’s why everyone kept mistaking them for couples…

No. That was stupid. They just looked similar in age and most people couldn’t handle the fact that a man and woman could be just friends. 

“Drown in the Thames for a start.” She teased. “Come on, Time Lord. I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted.” 

She pulled him through the Tardis to his bedroom. She paused outside his room, noting that her door was opposite his in the corridor. That was new. She was normally a couple of minutes down the corridor. She looked up at him questioningly. She didn’t want to just assume, especially after the slightly weird evening they had had but he did look more tired than normal. She thought maybe company may help him sleep. He looked at his door, the familiar Gallifreyan etched into the wood, and then back to her door and scowled. 

“Umm…” He said. “We don’t have to…”

“It’s up to you, spaceman.” Donna insisted. She’d be disappointed if he chose to sleep alone but perhaps it wasn’t a bad idea. They should probably put some normalcy back into their life, into their relationship. She’d never quite had a friendship like it. 

“Right. Well…” He stuttered, uncharacteristically lost for words. Donna rolled her eyes and gave him a soft smile.

“I’m going to my room. You can join me if you want but otherwise then, I’m only across the hall if you need me.” Donna kissed his cheek and pushed her door open and strode into her room without looking behind her. She couldn’t face him. She couldn’t risk him seeing the disappointment in her eyes if he walked away. 

She closed her eyes tightly as she heard the Doctor’s door shut behind her. Her chest ached and tears began to well up in her eyes. 

“Damn it.” She whispered under her bed and turned to shut her own door. 

She got ready for bed quickly and turned out her light before the tears began to fall. The game they were playing was more dangerous than any monsters or aliens they had faced. They playing with matters of the heart and Donna was beginning to realise that it was only ever going to burn her in the end.

Donna woke up feeling almost uncomfortably warm. That was new. The Tardis normally kept her bedroom at a perfect temperature. She went to roll over onto her other side when she realised she was trapped. 

The Doctor’s arms were wrapped tightly around her waist. 

She froze.

They’d shared a bed most nights between the time lock and Manhattan but they’d always managed to keep some space between them, or at least she had assumed they did. The Doctor was always awake and out of the bed before Donna had even begun to wake up in the mornings. They’d always gone to bed on separate sides of the bed and she’d always woken up alone. This cuddling thing was a first and not entirely unwelcome. 

At least it wouldn’t be if she wasn’t melting and desperate to pee. 

She tried to wiggle out of his arms but he just gripped her tighter. Donna huffed. “Well isn’t this wizard…” She mumbled. 

Come to think of it, how had he even ended up in her room. She remembered the pang of disappointment she’d felt when he’d gone into his own room. She remembered decidedly not crying into her pillow. She would whack anyone that suggested otherwise, and yet here he was. All koala bear on her waist. 

“Bella Donna….” He slurred but didn’t let go of her so she assumed he was still asleep. She frowned and tried to turn around in his grip so she was facing him. It wasn’t easy but eventually she managed it. 

And good lord was that a mistake.

He looked so young, so peaceful. His boyish face was peppered with freckles like the stars the travelled past in the sky. His hair fell softly in front of his eyes now all the gel had been washed out and his cheeks were all pink, probably from the heat in the room. He looked so human, and his face was so close to hers. She tried desperately not to think of all those kisses they’d shared the night before. The searing hot snog to really fool their friends and the sweet innocent kisses to keep up the act. 

“Doctor.” She whispered quietly. She really didn’t want to have to wake him, not when he looked so peaceful but her bladder was getting impatient. His eyelids flickered. She reached up to rest her hand on his cheek. “Spaceman…” She said a little louder and gasped as her fingers made contact with his temple.

She was pulled into his mind like dust into a vacuum. Her face, all around her were visions of her. In her wedding dress. In the snow outside of the Tardis. That blinding kiss in the hospital. Fire burning around her in Pompeii. She was laughing. She was smiling. She was crying. All the nicknames flying back and forth. A flutter of his hearts in his chest when he saw her after their time apart. 

She inhaled sharply as the connection was torn apart and she was back in her bedroom. The Doctor’s hand was in hers, holding it away from his face. His soft hazel brown eyes were staring at her in shock, his mouth wide open.

“What was that?!” She shrieked as she tried to reorientate herself back in the room. 

“How did you do that?” He shot back. “You shouldn’t have been able to do that! Unless, no. No? Yes! Oh god I am thick!” He leapt up and out of the bed in an instant. Donna rubbed her eyes and pulled herself up so she could watch him run around her room in a whirlwind. “It’s you!”


“Stupid!” He pulled his hands through his hair roughly. “Too safe. It’s dangerous! My mind. Oh god. Come on!” He tapped his temples with his fingertips. “Got to get it all back up. Recalibrate the defences. Ah!”

He spun round and almost walked straight into her wardrobe. She raised an eyebrow at his mad antics. Was he always this disorientated in the mornings or was he making a special effort just for her? She couldn’t remember him being this bad when they’d been in the tavern but then again he’d woken her up so he might have already managed to settle down before he woke her up. He glared at the wardrobe and then spun round to face her again. He reached out for her hands which she gave him with a confused looked on her face. He pulled her fingers up to his temples, like she had done in the caves.

“Anything?” He asked as he watched her carefully with those gorgeous brown eyes of his. 

Donna wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be looking for so she shook her head. “Spaceman, what’s going on?” 

“Try and see what I’m thinking, Donna. Go on!” He hissed almost manically. 

Donna took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She remembered how she had pushed thoughts onto the Doctor in the caves, and how it had felt when he’d been wondering through her mind, picking up on old memories. She remembered the feeling of being sucked into his mind when she’d accidentally made contact when he was asleep. She focussed on that feeling, trying to replicate it. 

“Oooh. You are good!" The Doctor breathed in awe. “How are you doing that?”

Donna scowled and opened her eyes. She couldn’t hear anything in her mind. His thoughts were silent. “But I’m not doing anything? I can’t hear anything.” She tried to pull her fingers away but the Doctor held her hands in place. 

“Don’t. Careful. You don’t want to pull away too fast.” He whispered. 

“But I’m not doing anything!” She insisted.

“Oh Donna.” He chuckled. “You can’t hear anything because I’ve rebuilt my mental walls. Like the doors remember?”

“I don’t see any doors.”

“Well… no. But that’s because I’ve had more practice. You can’t even see my defences. They’re that good.” He grinned.

“But all those things I saw before…” She said.

“Dreams. They were dreams. My dreams to be exact.” He scowled at some unsaid thought.

“Nightmares more like.” Donna muttered as she remembered how much she had featured in the dreams she had seen. They had flown by so fast she could barely process what she was seeing. Was that how he saw the world? No wonder he never seemed to stop. 

“Dreams.” He insisted. “My nightmares… Well… you don’t want to see those.” He muttered darkly before snapping back to happy with a crazy grin on his face. “But you saw the dreams before because for some reason my defences came down! That never happens, not even in my sleep but you, you, Donna Noble. Oh you are brilliant!” 

“You keep on saying that.” She rolled her eyes and tried to pull away again but he stopped her again.

“Because it’s true. I always knew you were something special, the way the Tardis opened up to you so easily, that was incredible! I’ve never seen anything like it, and then you go and make me let my guards down.” He grinned. “Of course, they are all up now. Can’t have stray telepaths getting inside my head. Oh the Ood would have a field day! So the question is…” He paused dramatically. “How are you still in my mind?” 

“What?!” Donna squeaked. “Rubbish! You’re talking out your arse, Time boy!’ 

Am I?

“What was that!?” Donna yelled. 

“I’m blocking you out, Donna but I can still feel you and that should be impossible. You’re human. Very low level psychic abilities humans. You should only be able to use psychic links if a telepathic species, like me, opens one up but I never did. I was trying to stop you." The Doctor stared. “Sometimes I wonder about you, Donna Noble” 

“But I didn’t do anything.” Donna whispered. 

Come on, Donna! It’s brilliant! The Doctor chimed in the back of her mind. He had a smirk on his face. 

It’s ridiculous. She thought back firmly. “Now let me go, alien boy! I need the toilet!” She swatted his arms away from her temple. The connection between them was severed once more. Donna blinked as she suddenly realised how loud he had been buzzing in her mind. That strange tickling sensation from before. How had she not noticed it? Her head felt strangely empty now without it. That was just wizard! All she needed was to acclimatise to having an alien in her head. Stupid Martian. 

She hopped off the bed and ran to the toilet, locking the door behind her loudly. As she did so she imagined locking the Doctor out of her mind too. It was too much, too intimate, and she couldn’t let him find out. Friends. They were just friends. 

He could never know.

Donna stirred her tea aimlessly. Her mug had turned a murky moss green colour from the time she’d been stirring the brown liquid. Her marmalade toast was long forgotten. She kept replaying this morning in her mind. The dreams she’d seen in the Doctor’s head, all about her, the daft alien. She had felt his heart beats as if they were her own. It hadn’t even seemed unusual to have two heart beats whilst she was reliving his memories, and what was the deal with the telepathy thing? The Doctor had seemed beyond impressed that she had managed to worm her way past his mental walls even though he had invited her to try. All she’d done was try to replicate what she had felt before, she hadn’t meant to do anything special. 

But what did it mean?

Why could she do something that the Doctor claimed was impossible? Was she sick? Was there something wrong with her? Had the Huon particles affected her more than either of them had realised.  Oh God how was she gonna tell Gramps? Or her mum! Sylvia would probably shoot the Doctor dead if she knew the truth. 

“Donna?" The Doctor said gently, shaking her from her thoughts as he put his hand on her shoulder. “You alright?”

Donna plastered a fake smile on her face. She was just being silly. He didn’t need to worry about her. “Yeah! I’m always alright.” Oh God she was starting to sound like him. 

The Doctor raised an eyebrow at her. “Do I need to put us in a time lock or are you gonna tell me the truth?” 


“It works both ways, Donna." The Doctor frowned. “If we’re gonna be best friends, then you cannot lie to me.” 

“How dare you!?” She mocked outrage. “Using my own words against me!”

“Needs must, Donna. So… time lock or truth?” He plopped down in the seat opposite her and snatched up her toast. Donna gaped at him as he took a large bite. That was her breakfast!

“Oi!” She snapped and pulled the plate back to her. 

“What?” He said through a mouthful of toast. 

“Get your own!” Donna glared at him. “There’s yogurt in the fridge. The ones with chocolate covered cornflakes that you like.” 

“Ooh! Donna! You are brilliant you are!” He jumped up to search the fridge. “And still changing the subject! Don’t make me call your mum!” 

“Don’t you dare!” Donna narrowed her eyes at him. 

He smirked back and pulled an old looking mobile from his pocket and waved it threateningly at her. “Look what Wilf gave me! You don’t need to call the Tardis phone anymore.” 


“Yup!” He grinned as he peeled off the label from his yogurt. 

“Urgh! Fine. I’m worried about the stuff this morning.” She glared at him, feeling all sorts of embarrassed. Time Lords probably even didn’t think about telepathy being scary. It was just another day at the office for them. Like breathing or blinking or whatever. “You said it should have been impossible.”

“Yeah. Well. Not impossible, clearly, just a bit unlikely. Like me!” He grinned manically. "The Doctor and Donna. Just a bit Unlikely.”

“What’s that then? The name of our sitcom?” Donna laughed, preferring this topic of conversation, away from feelings and embarrassing body problems.

The Doctor pouted. “Nooo, come on, Donna! Detective thriller at least. Like Mulder and Scully!”

“Isn’t that sci-fi?” Donna raised an eyebrow.

“Detective thriller… with aliens. What could be more perfect?" The Doctor winked at her and then scowled suddenly. “You’re too good at distracting me.”

“Guilty as charged my honour!” Donna smirked, the Doctor continued to glare at her. “Ok ok! Is there something wrong with me?”

“Now why would you think that?" The Doctor asked, taking a big mouthful of banana yogurt with chocolate cornflakes. 

“I’m doing things humans shouldn’t be able to do. The Tardis connects with me better.” She sighed. Thanks Sweetheart! She thought to the ship. “Why? Was it the Huon particles?”

“Oooh!” He waved his arms about, almost spilling goopy yogurt all over the floor. “Good idea! Oh Donna. My Bella Donna!”

“Shut up.” She mumbled blushing. 

“No no no! That’s brilliant.” He dropped his half eaten yogurt in the sink and fumbled in his pockets until he found his sonic. He pointed in at Donna’s head and pushed the button, blinding her with the little blue light. 

“What have I told you about beeping me?” Donna yelled as she shielded her eyes. 

The Doctor smiled sheepishly “Sorry dear.” He stared at his screwdriver intently. “Nothing. I need more data. Come on!” He grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the kitchen. 

“Doctor!” She shrieked as she almost knocked her mug of cold tea flying. “Where are we going?”

“Med bay! I need to scan your brain!” He yelled back as he tugged her into a room she hadn’t seen before. It was like something out of star trek. 

“Woah there, Spock! Who said you can scan my brain?” Donna shouted. He screeched to a stop and turned to face her with full on puppy eyes. “Oh go on then!” She grumbled. “But you’re taking me shopping!” 

“Deal. Just jump up on the bed." The Doctor patted the spacey looking gurney and slid his glasses onto his nose. “Up you pop!”

“Stupid martian.” Donna grumbled as she hauled herself onto the bed. 

He stuck weird probey things on her temples and types furiously at the keyboard that was linked up to some space age monitor. It was all in Gallifreyan so she couldn’t understand a word of it, although it probably wouldn’t have helped if it was in English. The Doctor was wittering away as he tried to analyse whatever signals her brain was giving off, it was all nonsense to her. So she switched off and tried to focus on something nicer than having her brain scanned by an alien on an alien spaceship. She’d thought about what she might buy in an alien supermarket on the shopping trip the Doctor had promised her. Maybe she could get something for Gramps for his birthday, or an anniversary present for her parents. Of course it couldn’t be too alien looking. She would have to be able to convince her parents that it had come from some far off place on Earth. So weird gadgets were out. Maybe some jewellery made from some space rocks, or art work of some far off constellation. Her parents wouldn’t know if it was some constellation not visible from Earth, although Gramps might be more interested in that one. 

She was pulled from her thoughts by a sharp jab in her arm. “Ow!” She shrieked and hit the Doctor hard in the arm. “What was that?!”

“Needed some blood. Sorry. I did warn you. “ He smiled sheepishly. “And…” He reached up and plucked a strand of her hair. “all done!”

“Oi!” She rubbed her head. “Why do you need all that?”

“DNA testing.” He admitted. “Nothing to worry about.”

“DNA testing?” Donna asked incredulously “Why?” She snapped. 

“Nothing to worry about.” He insisted. 

“Doctor!” Donna snapped. “Why?” 

“Just some minor anomalies. Probably from prolonged exposure to the time vortex. Barely noticeable. You’re still one hundred percent human. I promise.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Well, maybe ninety nine point nine nine nine…”

“Doctor!” She snapped. 

“Nine… sorry.” 

“What does it mean?” Donna asked desperately trying not to panic. 

“I’ll find out with more tests. At a guess I’d say slightly accelerated healing, perhaps a minor increase of life expectancy.” He wrinkled his nose and pushed his glasses up. 

“What?!” She yelled. Increased life expectancy? How the hell was she supposed to explain that to her parents?

“Only by a few months or so. Nothing noticeable. Probably happens to all my companions and I’ve never even noticed. Interesting. Why don’t you go relax somewhere whilst I finish up here?” He suggested.

Donna was about to agree. She needed a drink. She didn’t care that it was only just past breakfast time, they were technically in the time vortex so time was all relatively anyway. Somewhere in the universe it was an appropriate time to drink, but instead, her phone rang. 

She stared at the Doctor and then pulled out her mobile. It was Martha Jones. “What do I do?” She hissed. 

“Answer it!” He looked panicked.

“You answer it!” She shot back. 

“Put it on speaker!” He retorted.

So she did. She clicked answer and put the device onto speaker so they could both hear their friend. Donna really didn’t need this now. Not when she was having a potentially non-human existential crisis. 

“Donna? Hi. It’s Martha. I can’t believe this actually connected. He actually did it!” Martha’s voice came out from the tiny mobile device. 

“Of course I did!" The Doctor protested. 

“Oh.. Hi Doctor. Look. I know you only just dropped me off but… I think there’s something you need to see.” Martha said. She sounded worried. 

“We dropped you off three months ago?” Donna questioned.

“No… You dropped me off last night.” Martha insisted. 

“Time Travel, Donna." The Doctor reminded her. 

“Oh yeah.” 

“How can we help, Miss Jones?" The Doctor asked trying to get the conversation back on track. 

“Well, my sister has this new job right? And I turned on the news when I was eating breakfast and there she was on the tv.” Martha said. 

“Blimey. Bet that was a shock” Donna replied. 

“You have no idea.” Martha sounded exasperated. “But her new boss, Doctor, he said he will change what it means to be human!” 

“Oh look it’s catching!” Donna said sarcastically. 

“What?” Martha asked. 

“Nothing!” Both Donna and the Doctor snapped back together.

“You’re right Martha Jones! That is interesting. Text Donna the exact date and we’ll be right there!”  the Doctor continued loudly giving Donna a pointed look. 

She stuck her tongue out at him as she hung up the phone. Not a minute later, her phoned chimed with a text and they were running off towards the console room to meet up with their friend.