“Tell me where we’re going,” Donna demanded, gripping a handrail as the TARDIS bobbled strongly to the left, then swirled a quarter-turn anticlockwise. “No, wait. Don’t tell me. Just promise it’ll be lovely.”
The Doctor adjusted his video monitor, then twiddled a few knobs and gave the console a bit of a slap. “Lovely,” he agreed. “Oh, it’ll be lovely indeed.”
Donna shook a finger at him, “Warm, as well. Maybe a green-sand beach by a purple sea. . .y’know, with waves just enough that you can ride them into shore and hardly have to kick your feet. Is there a planet with no UV rays?” She fluttered her fingers delicately next to her cheek. “Fair skin and all. Don’t want to get freckles.”
The Doctor exclaimed, “Ah, to be at the seaside!” He shot Donna a grin, showing the dimples in his cheeks. There was a slight thud and the TARDIS shivered, then settled.
“And here we are,” the Doctor announced.
Donna, already clad in a flower-print sundress and white sandals, picked up a large, straw totebag that had been sliding about on the floor near her feet. She reached inside and withdrew a floppy white hat, which she placed purposefully on her head.
“Is that what you’re wearing?” she asked the Doctor, jutting her chin a bit.
The Doctor mugged surprise at the question, looking down his front. He rocked back on his heels a bit and waggled the toes of his trainers.
“A suit?” Donna asked. “At the seaside, you’re wearing a suit?”
The Doctor gave a slight shrug and moved toward the door of the TARDIS as he replied, “Never know who you might meet.”
Donna practically ran to the door, and together, they flung it open. Before them was a wall of vegetation: slick-looking leaves the size of elephant’s ears, whiplike grass taller than either of them, scads of white blossoms running rampant among all the green. Although the Doctor had set the coordinates for their journey, his face revealed a hint of surprise. Donna took a step outside the TARDIS onto mossy ground. Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply.
“Smells like. . .” she began, then inhaled once more. She squinched up her face a bit as she said, “Smells like laundry softener, really.” She gave a little shrug. “Anyway, it’s warm.” She glanced skyward. “Blue sky. One sun. What is it, then--an alternate-universe Hawaii?”
The Doctor, hands thrust in his pants pockets, strutted about a bit, then vanished down a pathway through the plants. “Not meant to be, no. . .” Donna heard him say. She scurried in the direction he had gone, along a twisting walkway bordered by exotic tropical trees and flowering bushes.
“Ooh, there now,” she called after him, her tone less cheerful, “Smells a bit like diesel exhaust.” She fumbled in her totebag and came up with a giant pair of sunglasses, which she unfolded and slid on. “Doctor?” she called, half-running up the path, turning corners every few yards. “Doctor, where are you?”
Just then, she emerged between two huge topiaries in full, riotous orange blossom, onto a small clearing. Before her were giant wrought-iron gates, beyond which lay a four-lane motorway and then an enormous stretch of white sand and the crashing waves of a blue-green sea.
The Doctor grinned and extended his arm as if offering the entire scene for Donna’s approval. He announced, “Miami Beach!”
It was then Donna noticed a sign hung on the gates proclaiming this to be Miami’s Memorial Botanical Gardens. She looked out at the cars racing along the road, took in a quintessential Miami seaside cityscape: food and t-shirt vendors, people dressed in everything from business suits and briefcases to string bikinis and rollerblades. And the beach! The lovely, lovely beach.
“Oh, you brilliant man,” she gushed, her smile beaming. She gave the Doctor a quick hug; something over his shoulder caught her eye. “I can rent a lounge chair just there,” she said, pointing across the road, “And there’s a newsstand full of trashy gossip mags. Oi,” She rifled through the totebag again and then asked, “Have you got any money?”
The Doctor looked baffled. “Have I got any money?” he echoed.
“Yes, you know. Money. American money.”
The Doctor grumbled, “Whooshing through Time and Space, showing you the splendours of the universe and now I’m your--what--automatic teller machine?”
Donna put a hand on her hip and tipped her head meaningfully to one side, frowning. Her other hand she flung out in front of her, palm up.
The Doctor let out an exasperated groan, but reached for the inside pocket of his jacket and withdrew a handful of wrinkled bills, which he placed in Donna’s upturned palm.
“Thank you,” she said, and if it is possible for a curtsy to be sarcastic, the one she offered certainly qualified. She tucked the money into the halter of her dress and shook her long, ginger hair over her shoulders. “I’ll be on the beach if you need me.” She strode toward the road, and waited at a corner for the WALK signal. She glanced back at the Doctor, who waved and nodded. “What’ll you do?” she called to him.
“Don’t worry about me,” was his reply. “I’ll find something to do.”
“Stay out of trouble,” Donna scolded with a smile. “We’re on vacation.” She extended both arms and waggled her hands dramatically. “Miami!”
The Doctor just grinned and waved her goodbye again. Loosening his necktie, he turned away from where Donna was vanishing into a crowd of tourists, and a newspaper headline caught his eye. He crouched down in front of the newspaper box, where the headline screamed, “Bay Harbor Butcher Strikes Again.” He slid his smarty-pants spectacles up onto the bridge of his nose and scanned the first few paragraphs of the accompanying article. There was a picture of a familiar figure in an anachronistic coat--far too heavy for Florida weather, surely--and the caption beneath it read, “Authorities will not confirm the identity of this man, thought to be a paranormal researcher, who arrived yesterday at the Miami Metro Police Department.”
The Doctor quickly and surreptitiously aimed his sonic screwdriver at the coin slot of the newspaper box, yanked it open and withdrew a Miami Clarion-Reporter. He squinted at the photo, as if he had a doubt of who he saw there.
“Captain Jack,” he said under his breath. “What’s brought you into the investigation of an American serial killer?” Slipping off his eyeglasses, and tucking the newspaper under his arm, he strode up the sidewalk to the next corner, then turned toward downtown. Surely he would find something to do while Donna sunbathed, though he could not guarantee he would stay out of trouble. . .