It had been a rather boring day on board of the Tardis. As boring as they could get anyway, which just meant they hadn't found yet what they would be doing next. With so many places to go and things to see, sometimes it was difficult to choose.
And so, bored as they were, they had started talking. Donna about her father, her grand-father, her time looking for the Doctor after her almost wedding. The Doctor, in exchange, had mentioned what he still believed to be one of his strangest encounter with a human being -and that was saying a lot.
"Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Was five, maybe six at most. All alone in the middle of a shopping center. I think he had escaped his parents. He was just that tiny, serious little child, and I don't know, must have caught his attention because he stared right at me. So I stared back, because kids are just the best at staring contests, they take it just seriously enough to be fun."
"Staring contest, seriously?"
"What? They're fun. And anyway, suddenly, the child starts walking toward me, grabs my wrist, and claims, almost shout, that I have two hearts and I'm an alien!"
"Which is true," Donna reminded with a smile.
"Yeah but people never notice, not until I tell them! They can see all the clues, all the differences, everything that's not human about me, but they never seem to get it. I got used to people being stupid..."
"Oh, come one, I don't mean it in a bad way. You lot are less clever than me. Being very, very clever is part of what I am, that's all. But that kid! Brilliant child! He had a very weird name. Shirley maybe? Anyway. Smart. Terribly smart. I was looking for a stray tyoetfae that had got lost on Earth and as soon as I told him what they were like, he found if right away. And trust me those little devils are good at hiding. I would just have loved to take that kid on the Tardis, but..."
"A bit young for it, wasn't he?"
"What? Oh, yes, I guess there's also that. But the real problem was that by the time I had made sure the tyoetfae was safe, Sheldon was nowhere to be found. Gone back to his parents I guess. Shame. Such a brilliant child."
"Having a crush on a child? Even for you that's weird, spaceman."
"What? It's not! I'm not! He was just so clever! It's always the same with you humans, someone compliments someone, they must be wanting to be getting in their pants. Is it so hard to imagine I can just enjoy seeing people develop their full potential? That's why I like having someone with me when I travel, I like seeing people learn thing and become smarter."
"And You like having someone to impress."
"That too. But I don't think I'd have impressed him much. He didn't strike me as easily impressed. I'd have had to show him the very best I think, everything great in time and space to just get a smile from that one. But I'm always one for a challenge."
"Then why don't you just... track him down and see if you can make him smile?"
"Can't remember his name. Shane? Shaun? Sean? Something starting in 'sh'. And can't remember the place either. Wasn't in a great state of mind at the time, it was too soon after Rose. All I remember about him is... he was a very tiny little thing with all those black curly hair all around his head, and eyes, incredible eyes, and a smile... he smiled when we found the tyoetfae, and you never forget a smile like that."
"That's not much to find someone."
"Nah, it's not. Which is why I haven't tried looking yet. But if I just remember his name... He had a very weird name. Something unique. And I mean really unique. I had never heard it before, or since. Wonder what it was..."
Donna would have made a few suggestions at that point, but the Tardis chose that moment to pick a strange signal, and the conversation dropped. The signal, as it turned out, came from the planet Hat IV, which they both found hilarious. There was, after all, a planet of hats. And it turned out to be populated by creatures with long, sharp teeth, and there was a lot of running and shouting and being clever and laughing, and everything was great.
Some time later, during a new period of calm, Donna wondered if they should maybe go look for the Brilliant Child, as she had privately dubbed him. Finding him could be a nice adventure, and she'd have loved to meet that someone the Doctor thought clever.
But then, the end of her journey came, and Donna forgot the Doctor, the Tardis, and everything that had made her life so worth living for a few months. Her brain, unable to withstand the pressure of fusing with that of a Time Lord, had to shut down entire departments just to allow her to survive.
Her brain went asleep.
But one day, it would wake up. And then, she'd go back to that skinny spaceman and his blue box.
No force on Earth could stop her.