“How long can Time Lords go without eating?”
“Sorry?” The Doctor’s head jerks up from the book he hadn’t been actually reading.
“How long?” Donna insists. “Because you promised to take me out to dinner, and that was two bloody days ago. You haven’t come out of this library since.”
“Oh!” he says nodding, a huge grin suddenly replacing the much more sombre expression he’d had until that point. “Sorry, this is just a fabulous book and I hadn’t read it before! Do you know how long it’s been since I found a book I hadn’t previously read?”
“I see...” she says, coming in to seat next to him. He starts to get up, but she takes his arm and pulls him down again. Startled, he seats back down.
“So...” she begins slowly. “Will you tell me about it?”
“Her. Why don’t you tell me about her? It might help.” She takes his hand in hers and starts running her thumb over his skin. It feels rather amazing, he thinks vaguely.
“Who?” he manages to squeak.
“Everything was fine until you came across her book. You said you were going to put it back and you’ve been in here for two days.”
“I told you, it’s a really good book.”
“You were reading it backwards, sunshine. No book is THAT good.”
“Oh. I was?” Self-conscious, he turns the book that is still in his hands around.
“Yeaaaah,” she says dragging the vowels, which makes him shiver a little. “So? Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really, no.”
“Ok.” She nods resolutely. “Are we going to have dinner, at least? I’m starving. And TARDIS food is all well and good, but there’s only so much banana porridge one can have.”
“Hey! What’s wrong with banana porridge? It’s my favourite!”
“I know! And she’s been making it non-stop for the past two days. But I’m the only one eating it and I want proper food!”
“Fair enough. Where do you want to go?”
“You mentioned that one place... at the end of the universe?”
“Oh, Milliways. The food is a bit rubbish, though... Fancy a vegetarian heaven at The Big Bang Burger Bar?”
“The Big Bang?” she asks stunned. He nods grinning. “The Big bang as in...” He nods again, grinning wider. “As in the actual...” she continues and he keeps nodding. “Well yes!” she practically squeals.
“Then what are we sitting around here for?”
He runs to the console and she follows. “Wait!” she shouts after him. “Did you say vegetarian haven? At a Burger Bar?”
“Oh yeah! The owners changed but didn’t bother changing the sign so the name stuck. It’s been that way for billions of years now.”
“Oh my god this tastes delicious! Try it,” she insists, bringing the small colour-changing sphere to his lips.
His tongue darts out to meet it, and quickly his mouth follows, capturing Donna’s fingers in the process and licking them clean.
She’s already popped another one in her mouth, with her free hand.
“Oh god yes,” he echoes. “Oh yes!”
“What are they?” she asks as she digs inside the bowl of sweets they have bought for dessert. They seat at the terrace of the Big Bang Burger Bar, their feet dangling casually over the creation of the universe.
“What?” she says not paying attention, as she pops in a longer colour-changing sweet into her mouth.
“Pharton eyes. From Neu Monia. Tiny little planet. Those are Pharton tongues,” he adds pointing to her mouth.
“What?!” she says spitting out the tongue in revulsion. “Those are eyes and tongues?”
“I am eating someone’s EYES AND TONGUES?!” she squeals.
“From a planet called Pneumonia?!”
“Neu Monia,” he corrects her.
“What’s a Pharton?”
“They’re an aquatic species from the southern hemisphere of New Monia, originally thought to have evolved from Gali Mantis. Which isn’t true at all, of course. Phartons come from Gali Pantis. They live approximately from one to two days, and when they die, they start to decompose due to the intervention of scavenger Dusties, thus giving them this colour-changing texture.”
“Ok, that’s enough,” she says placing a hand over his mouth. “I don’t want to hear another word. They’re too good not to eat them and all this is making me sick.” She brings a sphere tentatively to her mouth but stops to inspect it. Apparently satisfied that it doesn’t have an iris, she brings the thing back to her mouth and practically moans when it reaches her tongue. “God, they’re amazing.”
“Mm-hmm,” he agrees, copying her.
They sit quietly for a while, side to side, just watching the universe happen as they pop sweets into their respective mouths (and occasionally into each other’s mouth). It’s on one of those such occasions, that the Doctor slips-up.
As he licks Donna’s fingertips, his eyes dip to her mouth and for a moment, all he can think of is what it would be like to lick those red lips of hers. He doesn’t know where the thought has come from but he’s not used to filtering his impulses, so he doesn’t. He brings his head closer to her and cupping her face with his hand, he meets her lips with his own, pushing against her mouth.
For one blissful moment, probably too stunned to do otherwise, she lets him, his tongue even darting out to taste the sweetness of her lips.
The next moment, she’s forcefully pushing him away.
“Oi!!! Now just what do you think you’re bloody doing, Mister?”
“Uh... kissing you?” he offers lamely.
“Yes, I well noticed that!” she exclaims. “Just because you miss her, does not give you the right to stick your Martian tongue into my mouth, sunshine. What were you thinking?”
“We had an agreement!”
“I know why you’re doing this,” she says, calming down. “And believe me, I understand. But this is not the way. We’re mates. We’re bloody good mates, I think,” she says, softening her expression into a hint of a smile, which makes his racing heart calm down slightly, even if the bit about Martian tongues still stings. “But don’t jeopardise this because you miss your girlfriend.”
He knows there is a lot of truth in what she’s saying, but he also thinks she has it all wrong. Yet for once in his life, he doesn’t know how to put into words, so he doesn’t.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he says quietly.
She nods at him, quietly, and offers him a sphere. He isn’t hungry anymore, but he takes it from her with his fingers and brings it to his own mouth.
Everything goes downhill from there.
He doesn’t know why but ever since that failed attempt to kiss Donna, all he can think about is doing it again. He even dreams about it (thank god Time Lords don’t sleep much). And in his dreams she doesn’t reject him. Oh, no. She lets him kiss her and he does. He kisses her lips and her neck, he licks her stomach and her breasts as his hands caress her skin. Her naked body writhing beneath him.
He groans half in pleasure half in disgust as he realises he’s doing it again. He’s thinking about her as if she were some kind of... As if he were some kind of...
...human! Oh no, he’s becoming a man!
He groans even louder at the realisation. When did this happen? He’d never felt that way towards any of his other companions before. Sure he had loved them. He’d been desperately in love with Rose, for sure. Had been? When had he stopped?
No, no. He still loves Rose. Of course he still loves Rose! Rose is his one in a five-hundred and twenty-two million billion of trillions nine-hundred thousand and three. Rose would always be the one.
But he can’t deny Donna is his best friend and every bit just as special as Rose was. Is! Damn past tense sneaking up on him like this!
And anyway, he should definitely not be thinking about Donna this way. He is a Time Lord. Taking control of his thoughts is a child’s game for a Time Lord.
As Donna brushes against him to pull a lever on the TARDIS’s console, he whimpers. Why did he think it would be a good idea to teach Donna to pilot her?
“Doctor!!” she says, pulling him out of his reverie. She’s staring at him with concern. “Am I doing that bad?” she asks worriedly when he finally looks at her. “You keep making noises every time I try something. I’m doing my best...” she says apologetically. “Maybe this was a daft idea after all,” she continues, not even letting him open his mouth to reply. “I failed my driver’s licence three times. I’ll end up breaking her and you’ll send me back home for being a hazard to the entire universe.”
“Donna,” he says stopping her diatribe. “You’re not doing it wrong. I’m not sending you back. And you’re no hazard to the universe. Well, no more than I am, anyway. So will you just shut up for a moment?”
“Then why were you...” she begins.
“Yes, but why did you...”
Donna opens her mouth...
...and closes it again, expectantly.
“Now then,” he proceeds. “You were doing just fine. But when you pull the achromatic lever,” he adds, placing a hand on top of hers and brining both their hands to the lever, “you should also press the time-shift button,” he continues, as his other hand finds hers from behind, and brings it to the right button. In this position his nose is merely inches from her hair and it smells delicious. But no, he isn’t thinking about this. Except then someone moans and for once, he realises, it’s not him. She moaned. Donna, who is all pressed up against him, just moaned. When she does it again, the noise goes straight to his groin and he has to pull back immediately, unless he wants Donna to feel more than she bargained for.
He’s a Time Lord, for goodness sake. He can do it. Child’s game.
“Well,” he says coughing his discomfort. “Yes, well. I think that’s enough lessons for today.”
“Yes,” she agrees turning around. She looks just as flushed as he feels. Is she embarrassed? Could she tell what he was thinking?
He shakes the thought away and gestures towards the TARDIS’s door.
“Let’s see where we’ve landed, shall we?”
Donna nods quickly and follows after him.
Pain. Pain, pain, pain, pain.
A lot, a lot of pain. It feels as if he has just been shot in the head by a galactic Tinkerbelle, which in fact, he just has.
Despite their misleading name, galactic Tinkerbelles are large and unfriendly creatures with equally large and unfriendly guns. They’re not too big a thread if you manage to stay off their paths, but Donna and he were never very good at staying off other’s paths.
Where is she?
The pain in his head is so intense, he can’t tell if his eyes are open or not so he calls for her instead.
“Ddddd...” he says. That did not sound at all like ‘Donna’, he realises. So he tries again. “Ddddddduuuh.” He congratulates himself on the slightly better results, but the effort has worn him out and he proceeds to black out completely.
“Hey... Shhhh.... you’re ok... we’re safe...”
He opens his eyes and...
...shuts them immediately as a bright light drills straight through his brain.
“Ggggh,” he groans.
“You’re awake!!” Donna’s unmistakable voice is by his side in an instance.
“Ggggh,” he repeats.
“Oh god, I was so worried,” she says running a hand through his forehead. His bandaged forehead, he notes.
“...m I?” he asks.
“Shhh,” she says, still touching him. “You need to drink. Here.”
He feels something cool touch his lips and he open his mouth, letting the water in. A few moments later, he opens one eye warily.
“Hello,” Donna says smiling widely at him.
“’ello,” he says smiling back. Ouch, that hurts. He makes a mental note not to smile again.
“What...” he begins.
“You’re ok, you’re in the TARDIS. We’re out of danger.”
“You got shot in the head but you had the sense to keep running until you blacked out, only a few feet away from the TARDIS. I brought you here and followed instructions.”
“Uh huh,” she says smiling proudly. “She didn’t speak to me, at least I couldn’t hear her, but I knew exactly what to do.”
He attempts to smile again, and regrets it immediately.
“You should rest now, you still got shot in the head,” she says.
Before she can walk away, he raises his arm as far as it will go in attempt to stop her.
“Donna,” he says, quite clearly. “Could you...” She looks at him confused. “Stay?” he finally says.
“I’m not going anywhere, dumbo. I’ve been sitting here for two days,” she explains, gesturing towards the chair behind her.
A strange sense of relief washing over him, he lets his eye close again and drifts off to sleep.
It’s after the T-Rex bites his head off and he keeps running headless, that he concedes Donna might have been right all along.
This is just a dream.
A bloody horrible dream, at that.
“Shhh...” Donna whispers in his ear. Well she would do if he still had an ear one could whisper to. This is all very confusing.
“It’s just dream,” Donna repeats. Slowly, the reality around him begins to set in. He’s in a bed, and there’s a warm presence surrounding him. Donna, he realises, Donna is in bed with him, her arms wrapped around him and she hasn’t stopped whispering soothing words at him.
“Donna?” he asks, as soon as he gathers enough energy to speak.
“Oh,” she says, pulling back slight, “are you awake?”
He nods but regrets it immediately when the warm presence is suddenly gone.
“You were having a nightmare, I think it may be the drugs,” she explains, and he can feel her sitting up on the bed. “I didn’t know how to calm you down, you seemed in a lot of pain.”
He opens his eyes and turns to look at her. “How are you feeling?” she asks.
“Like a T-Rex just bit my head off,” he grins.
“Is that what you were dreaming?”
“You’ve seen dinosaurs,” she says in awe. “Real ones?”
“Oh yeah. One day I’ll take you swimming with them. They’re absolutely brilliant.”
“ I think I’m alright, thank you. I quite like my head where it is.”
“Aw, what’s life without a little bit of adventure?”
“You’re asking me.”
He laughs and she joins in. And it’s then he notices her appearance. Her hair is all dishevelled and her clothes are still half torn. And yet, somehow, she still looks beautiful.
“Thank you, Donna.”
“What for?” she asks, taken off guard.
“Saving my life, the usual...” he says casually.
“Oh that,” she says nodding. “Don’t mention it.”
He laughs and pulls her down to him. Obviously tired, she lets herself be pulled and lies down on her side, facing him.
“You haven’t slept in two days?” he asks curious.
“I’ve slept,” she says, unconvincingly.
They stay looking at each other in silence for a while, their faces merely inches apart.
“You are beautiful,” he finally says.
“Oh, shut up. Now I KNOW the drugs are still in your...”
Before she has finished her sentence, he can’t help himself as he brings his lips to hers. Perhaps from the exhaustion, this time she doesn’t pull away, so he does it again. Their mouths meet again, his tongue darting out to savour her.
“Doctor...” she whispers.
He pushes his tongue asking for entrance, and again she doesn’t refuse him.
And oh my wow, they’re kissing now. Properly kissing. He brings his hand to cup her face and bring her closer to him, as if somehow the gesture could melt the two of them into a single being. Joined by the tongue. Oh that would be delicious, he thinks. He could stay like this forever. Running his hands over Donna’s hair, tasting her.
‘Forever’ usually ends rather abruptly in the Doctor’s experience and this is no exception. Suddenly, Donna pulls back, pushing him away and sitting up on the bed to distance herself from him.
“Stop,” she says as he attempts to sit up with her. “No. Stop,” she repeats.
“I’m sorry,” he says out of habit, sitting up on the other side of the bed so that Donna doesn’t feel threatened. “I’m sorry.”
Donna doesn’t meet his eyes. “It’s not fair.”
He nods but realises he has no idea what Donna is talking about. “What isn’t fair?” he asks softly.
“This, you,” she clarifies.
He nods again, and shakes his head. No, still not following.
“I know you’re not doing this to hurt me, but it does.” He stops nodding now, and just waits for her to continue. “I’m never going to be her and I know you miss her. But it’s not fair. To me. Do you understand?” she asks pleadingly.
“This is about Rose? You think I’m kissing you because I miss Rose?”
“I don’t blame you,” she continues. “I know how hard it was for you. I’ve seen what losing her has done to you. But I can’t give you what you need.”
“Donna,” he interrupts her. “Donna, my Donna Noble. You. Us. This... has nothing to do with Rose. I do love Rose...” She winces but he continues. “I will always love Rose. And all the others before her. I’m over 900 years old and yet... Every time I lose someone it feels like a part of me is gone forever. And maybe it is. Sometimes it’s unbearable, sometimes I think never again. But I can’t do it alone, you were right. I need someone to stop me. But more than that, I need a friend...”
“I know, but...”
“I’m not finished. I do miss Rose, but you are nothing like her and have never been. You’re no replacement, Donna Noble. What I... feel... I’ve never... I treasure your friendship more than anything in the universe, but I also can’t seem to stop myself from kissing you. You are so...” he cuts himself in time. “I’m simply not used to this but I promise, Donna, I can control it. I’m a Time Lord! Child’s game, really. It just caught me off guard. A bit unexpected, is all.”
Half way through his rant he realises she’s crying. And smiling.
“What?” he asks confused.
She frowns, still smiling.
“What?” he asks again.
“You stupid outer space dumbo, you dunce, you bloody idiot, you...” He would protest, he really would, but Donna’s hands are on his face, bringing his face ever so close to hers. His breathing starts getting heavy and he’s so painfully aware of hers on his skin. “You...” she says again. “You. You... you better mean it,” she finally says and she kisses him.
After what feels like a blissful eternity later, she breaks the kiss to smile at him, her cheeks still wet.
“You?” he asks grinning (possibly like an idiot). She nods. “But this... isn’t exactly what mates do.”
“No it isn’t.”
“Is that ok?”
“That’s more than ok.”
“I can... keep doing it?”
“I rather hoped you would.”
“Why are we still talking?”
And so he shuts up and doesn’t say a word until...
...well, they hardly count as words, but for once, he’s rather glad they don’t have any neighbours on the TARDIS.