"Will you marry me?"
"I'm not sure."
"Donna, you see the people surrounding us, the big ones pointing the very sharp sticks at my crotch?"
"Oh, those people, yes."
"If we don't agree to get married then they're going to kill us."
"I'd like you to get down on one knee."
"Lance got down on one knee."
"Lance was using you to chat up the Empress of the Racnoss!"
"I know, and I'm surprised that you don't want to do it better than him."
The Doctor sank down on one knee, the pointy sticks followed him. He gritted his teeth and asked, "Donna Noble, will you marry me?"
The Doctor was not having a good day. Truth be told, he'd had very few good days since committing genocide against his own people. But he'd had plans for his not-good day. He'd planned to mooch round the TARDIS wearing Fitz's leather jacket and feeling sorry for himself, but two interlopers had interrupted his sulking.
One was a skinny hairdo in a stripy suit, the other was a red-haired human.
"Hello, Doctor," the skinny hairdo was pumping his hand. "I'm the Doctor, and this is my comp-" the human woman elbowed the pinstriped hairdo sharply in the ribs, "I mean wife, Donna Noble."
This whole genocide business was obviously going to have more of an effect on him than he'd previously realised if he was going to go around marrying human women.
"The thing is," the hairdo was saying, "Donna and I were recently forced to marry by a tribe of temporally sensitive aliens who were convinced that we were already man and wife. So I need you to marry her so that it doesn't cause a paradox."
The Doctor wasn't entirely certain that wasn't rubbish. Still, saving the universe from destruction by temporal paradox was much more him than hanging round the TARDIS wallowing in self pity.
He offered his arm to Donna. "How'd you feel about marrying a man in leather?"
"Much better than marrying a man in trainers."
Donna really felt that her travels with the Doctor had done her the world of good. Since returning to Earth she'd got a better job, she'd travelled more, and she'd just married a gorgeous bloke. Okay, he had a girly haircut and total amnesia, but nobody was perfect.
Then androids attacked the wedding reception and her new husband was thrown head first into a wall, whereupon he suddenly remembered that he was an alien called the Doctor who travelled through time in a little blue box.
Bugger, thought Donna.
As the chaos raged round her Donna crawled under a nearby table, fished her mobile out of her bag, and called Martian Boy.
From her travels in the TARDIS Donna had come to expect a certain standard from the dungeons she was locked in, and this one certainly did not meet it. It was freezing, and damp, and had no plumbing to speak of. All in all, she was rather glad when the wall was blown off and she was hauled outside by a young woman who called herself Ace.
Ace seemed determined to drag her to the local courtroom, a place Donna was less than keen to go to because last time she'd been there they had sentenced her and the Doctor to life imprisonment in the dungeons.
Outside they met Ace's companions, a fair-haired young chap and a short arse carrying an umbrella.
"Told you I'd find another woman, Professor," said Ace.
Ever since that ritual sacrifice business the other week, Donna had dreaded phrases like that. "Sorry, but what the flipping hell is going on here?"
The short arse doffed his hat to her. "My companions and I have run afoul of the local authorities and in this socially conservative culture they are unwilling to allow us access to our spaceship unless we are married. And as my young friend Ace here is unwilling to marry both Hex and myself, I thought you might do me the honour…"
The umbrella-carrying short arse produced a ring from his coat pocket. It was a really ugly ring made of some dull alien metal, but it was a ring, which was more than the Doctor had been able to manage recently.
"Oh, alright then," Donna agreed. What was the harm in marrying this professor guy if it got them all out of jail? No one ever had to know.
And the upshot of it all was that as a respectable married woman she was able to get the Doctor released from the dungeons.
"Listen, mate," said Donna to her latest unwanted suitor, "I don't care if you've had the Elgin marbles made into a ring. There's no chance that I'm agreeing to marry a bloke who looks like the king of the teletubbies."
"A life depends on it!" The king of the teletubbies threw up his arms in despair. "Tell her, Peri!"
The American girl, who the locals were threatening to kill unless Donna married her multicoloured companion, opened her mouth to speak. Donna didn't trust her, partly because something about the American's accent was a bit off, and partly because on principle Donna didn't trust anyone whose cleavage might be better than her own.
"Right, I'll marry you," Donna conceded. "But only to save her life and only because it doesn't look like Martian Boy's going to turn up to save me this time."
"Neither knowing nor caring who this 'Martian Boy' of yours is, I agree."
"So does this mean they're not going to kill me, Doctor?" said Peri the American.
Oh, bloody hell, thought Donna.
Donna miserably followed the Doctor through the alien rainforest. If she'd been feeling more herself she would have been yelling and screaming, but this Doctor was…nice. He was all flustered and polite and beige. Calling him names would be like being cruel to a puppy, a beige puppy.
Plus, thought Donna as he climbed ahead of her up a muddy slope, he had a nice arse for a bloke wearing an ornamental vegetable. The Doctor reached down to help Donna up, then consulted a small device he'd produced from his coat.
"These are the right coordinates, Donna. I imagine that my future incarnation will be along to collect you presently."
"He'd bloody well better be." Donna sat down on a log to sulk. After a moment or two she became aware of two voices, one male and one female, strident, and very slightly Australian. They were calling the Doctor's name.
"Ah," he stood up and shoved his hands deep into his pockets. "That will be my companions arriving. Perhaps when Tegan and Turlough get here you’d be so kind not to mention…"
"That what we thought was a farewell party the villagers were throwing for us turned out to be a wedding ceremony?"
Tegan and Turlough arrived, and Donna was relived to see that neither of them looked any happier to be in a sweaty alien rainforest than she did. As for the Doctor, he didn't have a stupid floppy blond hair out of place.
"What happened to you two?" Tegan asked.
"We accidentally got married," answered Donna. Tegan looked scandalised, Turlough looked smug, and the Doctor looked both mortified and hurt. Donna refused to feel guilty. However nice this bloke was, he was still the Doctor and if he didn't need taking down a peg or two now he would do soon enough.
"Doctor," said Romana, carefully manoeuvring through the crowded marketplace so as not to touch anyone. "I think you must have materialised us in the wrong place. I'm no longer picking up any trace of the Key to Time."
"Romana-" what was sure to be a long winded denial of his failures as a pilot was interrupted by a red-haired woman colliding with the Doctor.
"Sorry, sorry," the woman allowed the Doctor to steady her. "Have either of you seen a skinny idiot being chased by a crowd wielding pitchforks?"
"No, no, I haven't. Have you seen anyone being chased by a pitchfork wielding mob, Romana?”
"Not since it last happened to you, no."
The redhead brushed herself down and hared off through the market. The Doctor looked curiously after her. "I wonder what a human being is doing all the way out here?"
"Don't you think you should tell her that during the festival of stars any physical contact is considered a marriage contract?"
"Well…er…you know, Romana, I think perhaps you were right about the TARDIS materialising in the wrong place."
The Doctor liked to think of himself as a patient man. He tolerated being stuck on Earth, he put up with the primitive technology, he bore Lethbridge-Stewart's endless errands with remarkable grace. But his laboratory being invaded by a bickering couple was beyond a joke.
The couple, a man with hair that frankly bordered on the ridiculous and a woman with the voice of a banshee, turned to look at him.
"Hello, Doctor!" the man rushed up and shook his hand vigorously. "Lovely to see you again. My friend and I have a little bit of a time travel problem, and you're the only man who can help us."
"I don't know about that…" the Doctor said with false modesty.
"You see my friend Donna and I were recently forced to marry by a temporal paradox, and I had it sorted, all fixed. But you know what women are like. I left her alone for five minutes and she accidentally married five men, typical!"
"Even so, old chap," said the Doctor, "I'm not sure how I can help you?"
The woman strode forward and took his hand. Before the Doctor could object, her be-suited friend had started talking a mile a minute. "By the power vested in me by, well, me, I declare you Time Lord and human, I mean husband and wife. Donna, do your stuff!"
The woman kissed the Doctor firmly on the lips.
"Madam!" he objected.
The woman looked at her friend. "Can I keep this one?"
"No." The male lunatic dragged the female lunatic out of the lab. "Remember to forget this," he called over his shoulder.
Having her prospective groom cower behind a pretty boy in a kilt wasn't doing Donna's self esteem a whole lot of good.
"I don't like this any more than either of you," she said, "but it's for the good of the universe. Apparently."
In response, Jamie glowered and the Doctor cowered. "The Doctor doesn't do anything without me," Jamie insisted.
One more wouldn't do any harm, Donna decided. "Right then, the three of us will get married."
This seemed to mollify Jamie and the Doctor quite a bit. Donna suspected they had secretly been looking for an excuse to get married.
"He's you and old."
"Donna, if you do this it cancels out the temporal paradox and we're all safe."
"If I do this, what do I get?"
"A universe that isn't about to explode?"
"And a shag."
"What? What! What?!"
"Listen, mate, I'll have married you ten times and it's all your fault. I want a nice safe universe, a shag, and a promise that we'll never speak of this again."
"I'll be expecting foreplay."
"Right, fine. Now go and propose marriage to my first incarnation."