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These Are the Days We Live Now

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Through this world,
I am wandering, wandering,
A soft breeze blowing,
I am wandering now,
Through this world,
I am wandering, wandering,
These are the days I live now.

~Kate Rusby, “Planets”

They’re somewhere deep in space, the first time Donna feels the true force of Idris’ presence, her awareness, her attention, her delight.

The tidal rush and pull of desire, of love.

They’ve been traveling for -- multiple cycles of sleep and wakefulness. More days than she cares to keep track of. The Doctor’s traveled so far and so long that distance and chronology fade in and out of focus in his consciousness. She’s learned that questions of time and place -- “where are we going?” and “when will we get there?” and “how long has it been since --?” and “when will we --?” -- elicit multiple, conflicting answers. And since the where and when and how long of where they are bears no relation to the where and when at the other end of her mobile (Cheswick, England, 2008) she’s let the habit of temporal concern unfurl within her and drift away.

So they’ve been traveling. Drifting. In Darkness and quiet. The Doctor’s been tinkering on something, a project he’s tried to explain, but it’s all a string of words put together in an order that fails to make sense: quantum and frisson and random wavelength generator and cryptozoology and cosmos. The ideas seem to make him happy, and the syllables sound like poetry to her, so she lets him talk and tinker and lose his spectacles and find them again and eventually she leaves him humming happily over a bit of equipment that’s sparking and popping and seems to be humming back and takes herself off to be alone for a while.

The corridors are dim, though never dark. Warm, never stuffy. It had taken her -- months? -- to realize that regardless of how many layers she wore, or didn’t wear, the air around her modulated to a comfortable level. In bed at night -- the cozy lower level of those ridiculous bunk beds the Doctor had shown her with such pride -- she lay against her pillows and felt the faint vibrations of interstellar travel, then the faint breeze of clean, cool, air settling around her to offset the warmth of her duvet.

(“Sponge Bob?” she’d asked him, “Where on earth --” and then, when he started on a story involving a toddler, a missing house cat, and three chickens, “no! Forget that I asked. I don’t want to know.”)

There are moments, just as she’s drifting off to sleep, that Donna dreams of warm breath on her temple, and skillful hands soothing through her hair.

The TARDIS likes to play games with her, she’s realized. Re-arranging corridors, leading her on wild goose chases to the library or the swimming pool, the greenhouse or the galley. In the evenings, she’ll go to the kitchens for a warm milk and dash of brandy, only to find herself back in her cabin, a mug steaming hot on the bedside table.

She hadn’t fully comprehended, at first, what it meant for the TARDIS to be alive, a living thing, a being with a mind of her own.

All right, yes, the Doctor had tried to explain. Or rather, he’d talked around the concept in that tangle of incomplete sentences that always came out of his mouth when he got excited about physics and maths and the fabric of the universe.

But having the Doctor say “Brilliant! The TARDIS likes you!” and experiencing the kindness and thoughtfulness of a -- thing? being? -- she had no -- no picture of in her mind, were two separate things.

Warm milk and cooling breezes. A safe harbour in an intergalactic storm.

Harbour. Home? She tries the word out in her mind, rolling it around, until it comes to a stop against other places she’s lived. She examines them side by side: Where and when has she ever felt quite like --

-- and this is where her mind stutters. Donna Noble, best temp in Cheswick, no longer certain in which language she’s speaking, thinking, dreaming. By what filaments of matter she’s bound to the here and now.

In a corridor below the control room, Donna lays a hand on the wall, trails her fingers along the smooth almost organic surface. She’s picked up the habit from the Doctor: he’s tactile with his starship, hands everywhere, always moving. Sometimes, she imagines, the walls ripple beneath her fingertips like the physical equivalent of a purr, or the metaphysical equivalent of a cat stretching under the stroke of a hand.

There’s a room down on this level, mostly for storage, things acquired and half-forgotten, quiet and dim. She’s been making her way here more often in recent days, to the quiet and stillness. A counterpoint to the manic energy of the Doctor’s science fair projects and near-constant patter.

Here, in the near-dark, she finds herself stilling, becoming aware of the rhythm of her breathing. It’s like the state between waking and sleeping, except she’s not sleepy, not drowsy. She’s alert, aware, attentive, alive.

Today, she lays down on the floor (deck?) -- a smooth, cream surface that despite its utilitarian nature has some give to it, seems to cradle her. Like sand. She remembers once, as a child, being taken on holiday to Oban. Falling asleep on her beach blanket after lunch, while her mother read a Catherine Cookson, the scent of SPF 45, the sound of the tide washing in, a rhythmic sound. Ever since that holiday she’s associated the sound of waves with satiation, torpor, the timeless hereandnowness of childhood.

She draws in a breath, feels her diaphragm expand, lets it out again. Spreads her arms and legs wide, as if making a snow angel. Turns her palms down, spreads her fingers. Feels the faint, ever-present vibrations of flight through the sensitive skin of her palms.

She kicks off her sandals, plants the bare soles of her feet against the surface upon which she’s laying. It’s rapidly warming to skin temperature, or just a hair warmer, she realizes, as if she’s dozed off on a patch of sun-warmed earth.

She takes another breath. Closes her eyes. Lets it out. Imagines her skin thinning, her particles slowly drifting apart. She thinks about it, sometimes, when they’re hurtling through time and space. Is it just an illusion, that she remains whole? How is it possible that the atoms and quarks and subparticles the Doctor babbles on about -- the matter out of which her flesh, her consciousness, is constructed -- can possibly hold together?

She’s drifting now. Breathe in, breathe out. Her palms and the soles of her feet are tingling, faintly, warmth seeping upward through the permeable barrier of her skin.


It’s a word-not word. A feeling of … recognition. Donna opens unseeing eyes in the dim of this place, vision turned inward. The word passing through her mind. Wanderer. Not wholly her own yet not wholly other either.

My wanderer. Here, at the heart -- you’re here. I’m here. Where are we?

“Here,” whispers Donna. The word scarcely more than a movement of lips. She hasn’t acknowledged to herself in so many words what -- who -- this is, but her body reacts instinctively, pressing down into the warmth, hips canting down, wanting closer.

She’s not yet thinking why or how. This isn’t a place for thinking. That’s not why the TARDIS --


-- Idris. That’s not why Idris has brought her here, welcomed her in.

“Idris.” She tries the mouthfeel of the name on her tongue. Enjoys the sharp corners of “Id” and the soft caress of “ris.” A lilting sound, the sort of sound that might spill off your lips in the midst of lovemaking.

Donna whimpers.

Something -- something passes through her. Over her. Around her. A caress. An embrace.

Not gentle. Greedy. Grasping. It rolls over her like surf, pulling her down, pulling her in.

She arches her head back, heaves a breath in, almost a gasp, feels warmth pushing outward now, from deep within the center of herself. Her own desire pushing out to meet external want. She feels the prickle along her skin, hot, almost uncomfortable, pushy. Restless.

Another whimper, a grunt of frustration. Somehow she’s already reached the point where fears concerns of self-presentation are pushed aside, where the internal monologue of what will he think of the stretch marks across my hip? if I kneel just so will she see how my belly fat jiggles? maybe if I put my mouth to her nipple, guide his fingers inside, I won’t be embarrassed when stops and sensation takes over.

When had this become lovemaking?

Here. We’re here. Where we are, this is -- I’ve been waiting -- you’ve been here -- you’ve been missing -- I’ve been searching -- are you lost? -- will you be lost? I’ll find you -- you’re mine. Have always been mine. My wanderer. My thief and my wanderer, one to steal, the other to find, find and lose and find again. My thief will take you, but I’ll get you back -- find you. Always. Across time. Across space. He can’t hide you from me.

It’s always been lovemaking, she realizes in a moment of lucidity. They’ve been wending their up to this since the TARDIS welcomed her in, got under, got in, inside her skin, inside her head, her mind, her fast-beating heart.

My red-haired wanderer. Daughter of the stars. The most important woman in the universe. Mine.

“Yours?” It’s a gasp, a groan, twisted out of her body, pulled from skin stretched taut, too tight, she needs out, can’t escape, wants in, but there’s nothing to -- she makes it a question, though she doesn’t want it to be. Something frighteningly certain is growing up through the core of her being, something that threads together in a linear-non-linear way crystalline moments of time: jolts of right and home and alignment.

And then Idris is there -- she’s not sure how -- impressions in the retina -- her eyes have either stopped working, or just begin working properly, the way they’ve always been meant to work. She’s not sure which. Time sliding against time, space fracturing, skin splitting.

God oh my god--” Because metaphysics have suddenly become real, become tactile, and Idris is there-not-there beneath her hands and mouth and fuck she needs this newly-born body, this skin to mould herself sink herself into, nimble fingers sliding up underneath her jumper, sweeping down her trembling thighs to push skirts out of the way and all she can think is closer and more and never stop.

She’d thought, at first, it was the Doctor. All his kinetic energy and motion, feet running, hands waving, ebullient joy and piercing sorrow. The force of his larger-than-life presence cutting through the sameness, the fog, the cotton-wool claustrophobia of her daily existence. He’d woken her up, she’d thought, and then dashed off in his plimsoles -- other planets to see! other galaxies to save! -- leaving her, dazed and yearning.

Even when he’d come back, she’d continued to think: Him. It’s about him. The adrenaline of the chase, excitement and near-death and guns and aliens and rescuing the world. The giddy, childish thrill of giving her mother the finger, of tossing her keys in the rubbish bin and flying away -- still she hadn’t known.

Hadn’t understood it would be like this.

Hadn’t understood what he’d meant, the Doctor, when he’d said: “Oh, yes, the TARDIS likes you.”

She wasn’t sure he’d understood either.

Or perhaps they did things differently on Gallifrey. What with one thing and another, it hadn’t come up.

But this isn’t about the Doctor, has never been about the Doctor. They’d established that right at the beginning, even when she’d thought it was he and not her who’d found her again, even when she’d thought it was him she’d been looking for.

How could it have been, when they were both orbiting around the same star?


“I--” She’s shivering, shuddering, falling to pieces and not in an entirely pleasant way. It’s never felt quite like this before. Like her skin might split and her inside self bloom outward, formless, lost, bleeding.

Not that she’s had -- well, okay, she’s had more lovers than she might care to admit to her mother. Then again, her mother had always implied that Donna was too tall, too brazen, too fat, for anyone to desire without ulterior motives. And a slut for wanting any in the first place. So you couldn’t win for trying. So she’d given up, really, by the time she’d reached sixth form. There’d been Roberta (though only ever experimental snogging), and Evelyn (of the lovely breasts), and Bobby (when she’d discovered packaging didn’t really matter) and Ibrahim (though mostly, she’s ashamed to say, because she knew making out with a kid from Pakistan would drive her mother apeshit), and Francine, who’d run off with a cellist to Turin, and then Lance. Who’d been eaten. And then -- not. And now -- Idris.

Because -- god -- that’s what’s happening here.

Hands -- somehow solid, real -- smoothing down her arms, firm on her hips, pushing up along her ribcage. The weight of another body against, over, hers. Cradling, protecting, moving in -- fuck -- the unmistakable, and apparently cosmic, language of desire.

“I can’t --” She hears herself pant. She wants to touch, she wants to see. Her vision is still playing tricks with her, but Idris is in her hands now, flesh and bone, with a warmth, a feverish heat, skin that on any human would signal illness but for Indris simply means alive.

“Are you -- please -- I --” She strains upward, into the arching curve of body above her, a form made of heat and weight and the soft-hardness of sentient being, breath and pulse of hearts beating, scents the musk of sweat and smoke, like bonfires.

You already know. You already are.


The planets are aligning for me,
But I cannot read them,
For the future's gone,
And all behind me.

I dare not breathe for then
The clouds will come and then deny me.

~Kate Rusby, “Planets”


Idris stretches herself thin, across time, across space, threads of consciousness. Searching.

Donna. DoctorDonna. Donna.

Her thief has taken -- will take? -- is at this moment stealing? -- her red-haired beloved. Her wanderer. She’s not here. That much Idris knows. Not here to touch, to taste. No heartbeats to listen to. No pleasure to test the boundaries of, to push beyond.

Her thief thinks Donna is broken -- will break? is breaking? -- but Idris knows better. If only her thief will listen. But Idris has had all of time and space to realize that her mad man rarely listens.

They need Donna.

The child -- Child of the Tardis -- sunfire bright, Idris can feel her, fierce and glowing, burning a path through the sky toward them. Her thief believes he’s searching for Melody; Melody Song River Pond.

Melody River is searching for them.

And Idris is searching for Donna.

Doctor. Donna. DoctorDonna.

She wants them. Needs them. All of them. Her thief, her thief-wife, her pretty one, her thief-wife-mother. She can hear them, feel them, warmth and belonging and companionship, so lonely, so long so lonely.

But her thief stole something -- sent something -- has, will, never was sent her Wanderer away, her Donna, her once-and-future lover, self, other, both together, never parted.

Donna, who wandered deep, then wandered far, then forgot to come back home.

Will forget. Keeps on forgetting.

Idris will help her remember.

Idris feels the human under her touch, marvels at the way Donna’s presence curls into the pulse of the TARDIS. This being so densely-woven of the matter of the universe, who holds her shape so consistently through time and space, yet never feels stopped.

A bright, shining energy, like song and starlight forged as one by force of will.

Donna. Is Donna here? Or has she gone again?

Time is a tricksy thing.

There was Donna, Idris knows, and then no more. And then the universe died and was reborn, remade, and all the while Idris has been searching. Her wanderer like a beacon across the emptiness of space, and yet –

– was it not just a blink of an eye ago that Donna was here? Idris feels her, like a bubble of laughter twined 'round her heart.

Perhaps she's been looking in the wrong places for too long. She draws herself back in, reaches down reaches in reaches back and forward.

Following the light.


I dare not breathe for then
The clouds will come and then deny me.

~Kate Rusby, “Planets”

At night, Donna dreams of the ocean.

At least -- she thinks, afterwards, that it must be the ocean.

Of floating, suspended, in the depths. Of not able to breathe, but then again not needing to.

In fact, her lungs have forgotten how; air is no longer necessary.

Waking up next to Shaun, she gasps for breath, heart pounding in her ears and still, strangely, frighteningly, feeling as if it’s not enough to keep her alive, to keep her blood circulating, pushing oxygen through her veins.

She lays in the dark, staring out the window at the streetlight winking through the bare branches of the trees. The wind shushes against the window in a rhythm that reminds her -- reminds her -- her memory stutters, that feeling so familiar now it doesn’t even sting her eyes with tears like it used to -- reminds her of a holiday she once took with her mother, to Oban, of days spent playing on the beach, chasing the line of the tide out to sea before collapsing, spent, on a towel to sleep while her mother turned page after page of her latest Joanna Trollope.

She blinks. That’s not -- it’s not how this memory used to go. There’s a piece missing. Waves. The churn and wash of the ocean. The expanse, the weightlessness. There’s -- it’s right there on the edge consciousness.

Shaun mutters in his sleep, rolls over, wrapping an arm and a leg across her, pinning her to the bed with what should be a reassuring tenderness, even in sleep.

It’s not.

There is no solace to be found.

He’s good and patient and kind and somehow that makes it all worse but she can’t explain why.

Her skin feels too tight, too thin, feverish all over, as if something inside her is twisting, burning its way to the surface, something invited yet forgotten.

She’s crying. Tears rolling down her temples, into her hair, into her ears. She can feel the pressure building in her sinuses, pain in the back of her throat from the effort not to rage and scream and rend her clothing, shave her head and draw the point of a knife, keen and sharp and pure across the tender flesh of her breast.

Three years ago, they moved to Aberdeen. Shaun has a good job with one of the oil companies, he’s gone six weeks out of every eight, on a platform five miles out to sea, back for two. She works at the University library, a desk job managing inter-library loan requests. Data entry, customer service. She’s good at her work, and it’s something to fill the days though with Shaun’s union wages there’s really no need for her to work.

Sometimes, she walks out to the esplanade and stands, looking out at the North Sea, watching the oil tankers creeping silently along on the horizon. No matter the season, there’s always a cold wind off the ocean. She wraps her long sweaters or wool coats around her ill-fitting body and stands numbly at the iron rail, watching surfers and dog-walkers and joggers on the hard-packed sand.

She’s in stasis, she realizes. She’s waiting. Suspended, as if she’s floating underwater.

Sometimes, on the salt-sea wind, she imagines she can taste the edge of what it is she’s waiting for.

At night, she dreams of fire.

At least -- she thinks afterwards it must be fire, because she wakes up bathed sweat, feels the bright blindness of light seared into her retinas.

Her doctor thinks it might be early menopause, hot flashes. She wakes up some nights, even in the dead of winter now, and the heat is rolling off her skin as if her body’s made of hot coals.

She’s kicked the duvet to the floor, migrated from her customary side of the bed to the side Shaun usually occupies, when he’s not offshore, in her attempt to get away from the sweat-soaked sheets and the pounding heat inside her own skin.

She’s too restless, on nights like this, to remain in bed, instead pushing off the clinging damp of sweat-soaked sheets and padding down the hall to their tiny bathroom, where she fumbles on the shower and steps into the icy stream with a gasp of relief.

She sinks to the floor of the tub, forehead pressed against her knees, watching the water run between her thighs and passed her toes, swirling down the pipes, into the earth, into the ocean, back into the sky.

The cool water against the curve of her back feels like hands, soothing fingers tracing strong and sure from the nape of her neck to her tailbone, trickling into the crease of her ass.

She slides a hand from the knob of her left knee up the inside of her thigh, to her groin where her skin -- she recognizes distantly -- should feel dangerously hot to the touch, but seems to be registering as another kind of heat entirely.

Her fingers brush auburn curls, damp with sweat and water and slickness, and she bites back a gasp.

Her blood is thrumming, she can feel it against the roof of her mouth, the soles of her feet. She wants and wants and she knows what she wants isn’t Shaun, has known for some time, they both know without actually talking about it. He’s spending more and more time on the North Sea, and when he comes home they talk about his mates on the rig, about the news, the weather, about what to have for dinner. He watches her move haunted through the house with a silent resignation, and she knows it’s only a matter of time before he puts into words what she’s too tangled inside her own uncertain memories to say: this isn’t working, love and you aren’t happy and I’m not what you need, I don’t know what you need.

She doesn’t know herself.

Except in white-hot moments of pure awareness -- there, then lost again -- in the midst of her dreams.

She knows.

No, she remembers.

Then wakes with only the space, empty inside her, where knowing once resided.

Shaun can’t help her get it back.

She closes her eyes, concentrates on the water rolling down her spine, down between her breasts, opens her hand and slides her fingers down between her legs, across the pouch of her belly, feeling the rough curls of pubic hair against the soft center of her palm, almost painfully rough. Her body aches with exhaustion, with heat, with need. She pushes her fingers into her fur, feels the shocking fullness of her groin, pulse strong underneath her fingers, restless.

She bites her right forearm, hard, where it’s braced across her knees, tasting the salt of sweat and the chemical aftertaste of their city water.

She bites hard, until she knows the flesh will bruise. The pain clears the fog of heat in her mind, mingles with the building urgency deep in her belly, deep in the center of her being.

The part of her that hasn’t fully woken, even with the bruising crescent of teeth marks on her forearm, stirs a the edges of memory, pushing against the boundaries of forgetfulness.


Donna folds into herself, around the voice, then stretches outward, reaching, yearning --

Here. I’m here.

A flicker.

They aren’t memories she could describe to anyone, much less knowledge anyone she knows would take seriously.

I have been held at the center of the universe, at the beginning and the end of time. She thinks. She curled around me in the heart of a star, hands on my breasts, lips tasting of the ocean, as I rocked into her, three fingers, four.

This must be what going crazy feels like.

This must be what dying feels like.

At night she dreams of being cradled in her lover’s arms.

Donna. My Donna.

The voice threads through her dreams, warm and wanting, reaching and pulling, working its way into her skin, like a burning web of desire tempered by a certainty of belonging and possession as deep as the North Sea.


Donna pushes into wakefulness against the dawn of the day, reaching for -- she doesn’t yet remember.

Yet, but will. Soon.

The walls of memory are thinning, shadows moving, the heat of fire and the pull of the ocean tide eating, eroding, licking at the edges, and it’s only a matter of time before the walls wash away, and she finds her way back to the place she’s forgotten.

Been made to forget.

Made to forget, but not forgotten.

Wanderer. The one with the hands, so gentle, the one with a voice like the night sky and the taste of the salt sea on her skin. Donna knows the shape and the taste of her, now, wakes from dreams with the weight of the other pressed into her skin, across her belly, the solid thereness of a thigh between her legs, pressed in close against her folds.

She can feel it now, in wakefulness as well as sleep, carries the touch beneath her clothes day and night, as she moves from the flat to work and back again. On the bus. In Seaton Park. At the Auld Toon Cafe on High St. for a curry pie. Drinking a double latte at Books & Beans.

She feels caressed, held, kept safe, kept track of, known.

She’s moved from unbearable stasis to watchful waiting.

“Where are you?” She whispers, into the half-light of dawn. Her fingers are tracing long, sweeping paths across the fine hairs on her belly, the sheets tangled from a restless night of sleep.

The bed is hers now. Two months ago, Shaun left for a rig off the Alaskan coast, a two-year contract. He emails almost daily, and they Skype every-other weekend. They still haven’t said in so many words what they’re both adult enough to realize: they’re good friends, but the marriage had been one of sympathy on his side and bereavement on hers, and both of them were worth more than that.

He was giving them both space to come to terms with the fact that their marriage has already come to an end.

Donna rests her hand on the curve of her belly, feeling the skin beneath her palm warm from the heat of the duvet, the weight of her hand on the rising curve of her pubic bone. “Did you leave? Or did I go – and why can't I remember?” She begs – a whisper into the attending dawn.


She closes her eyes, feeling echoes of not-quite memory, and draws her other hand across her breasts, nipples rising in the early-morning chill.

She reaches – drawing on a part of herself only available in these moments of half-waking, half-sleeping – feels the dizzying vertigo of falling through space, feeling time collapse in on itself. She's falling toward light laughter love toward the voice of the one who's been searching for her.

Idris. The syllables form on her tongue. Foreign and familiar.


Why has she been wandering for so long? There was a reason, something – heat light pain light skin too tight and bones start breaking then – nothing.

Come home.


On nights like these,
I could fly up to the sky above me,
Like superman,
I would change the course
Of earth below me.

~Kate Rusby, “Planets”

“But you aren't human – you aren't even a Time Lord!” Donna is running her fingers through Idris' curls, rich chocolate shot through with iridescent flecks of light. “How --”

It's a conversation they've had many times before, lying pressed together in the aftermath of sticky, sweaty, breathless, kissing biting licking tasting touching fucking -- sensations that seem all-too-human for a being with no corporal form.

“We're pure energy, my love,” Idris curls over Donna in the nest they have made for themselves. She's straddled Donna's belly, knees resting against Donna's ribs in a firm embrace. They're languorous, playful, humming with sleepy, post-coital happiness – though the details of their obviously-recent lovemaking are fuzzy around the edges of Donna's memory.

She should be concerned about this, she thinks, but her memory has been so fallible since -- since she remembers beginning to forget -- that she can't work up the energy to be concerned.

That, and Idris is here, they’re together, so it must be alright.

She feels back, in alignment, whole.

Wherever they are, it's a place of warmth and quiet, free of pain and fear – of which they have had too much of late – again the details feel – muddled. But she's sure there has been pain, and fear. Death, or near-death, the wrenching impossibility of loss. She stretches beneath Idris's warmth and feels the echo of forgotten aches in her joints, injuries healed, a body re-knit, trauma that will never completely be erased.

Someday, she will remember where the aches have come from.

Someday, but not now.

They're naked in this place, and the surface beneath her back feels forgiving, almost – embracing. Organic. They've been here – forever? A space both intimate and infinite, sacred silence and the constant rhythm of the cosmos, part sensation, part sound, pulsing through them.

Pulling them together, closer, and closer again.

Donna remembers, suddenly, the sensation of Idris' hand deep within her, the way her own body pulled her tight and hot and close as they'd rocked together, sweat gathering between her breasts, her nipples pressed against Idris' collarbone, Idris' teeth against her neck, where she imagines a trail of bruises are forming.

In human form, Idris is fond of biting.

Idris is, in fact, nibbling against her skin now, rocking against the pleasant ache in Donna's belly, licking, breathing trails across Donna's forehead, temples, neck, and shoulders.

Idris leans in, soft and low, and whispers across her skin: “We create and recreate ourselves every instant. I can be the shape I wish to be, and I wish to be with you.”

She nips the rise of Donna's breast, dances her tongue against already-sensitive nipples. “My thief, he isn't the only one with a fondness for the human race.”

Donna arches into the touch, tries to keep hold of the thread of discussion. “But you can't just – become human!”

“And you can't just become Time Lord.” Idris pushes back up onto her knees, trails a hand down between Donna's breasts, across her belly, back up along her hip, waist, ribcage, out along her shoulder, elbow, arm, wrist, hand. It's a rocking motion, alive the deep tidal pull of the ocean, Donna thinks muzzily.

“Or TARDIS.” Idris whispers into her ear.

Donna can feel the smile pressed like a kiss against the curl of her earlobe. She slides her hands down from where they've been resting, buried in Idris' curls, along the smooth planes of her back to the curve of her hips, where they're cradled against the slopes of Donna's thighs.

She traces her fingers down Idris' spine, slides a palm down the curve of Idris' pale, pale arse until her fingertips rest against the folds that droop wet and full, dusted across with fur that shimmers in the soft light pushing its way outward from the bulkheads.

“I'm not--” she begins, but then Idris presses her palms against Donna's breastbone, hard

-- and for a moment Donna can't breathe, the weight is crushing, consuming, burning through her in an instant of total recall --

memories beyond words, beyond pictures even, seared into the energy that holds her form together, keeps her body stable, and everything is suddenly white hot heat pain light –

“But, my love, you are.” Idris says.

Donna wakes, and remembers.


Through this world,
I am wandering, wandering,
These are the days I live now.

~Kate Rusby, “Planets”


Idris opens her eyes, and there on the edge of the ocean her beloved stands: Wrapped against the cold, cheeks and nose red, lips chapped, tears streaming down her face.


Around them, humans walk wrapped in layers of cloth, huddled against the cold. Idris can feel the concrete pavement stretching out to either side, the city a buzzing, distant backdrop behind her lover’s corporeal form. Water stretches out for many miles behind her, she can taste the salt-sea air, feel the wind plucking strands of her wild star-singed hair.


Donna is speaking, mouthing words: I thought -- I can't -- I'm sorry, so sorry --

Her foolish one; Donna should know they no longer have need for words.

My love.

Idris takes her beloved's hand and turns away from Earth to take them home.