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Fair Trade

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The cell door clanged and swung open. The Doctor had been sitting cross-legged on the bunk at the far wall, but scrambled up when a Mentellian sister-soldier scrunched her way into the room.

"Now," he said, searching her blank faceplate until a slight twitch in her stance told him he'd met her eyes, "we can work through this misunderstanding peacefully. I'm sure the Warlady can--"

"Visitor," the woman said through her grainy helmet comm. She stepped aside to reveal a figure in the doorway, still decked to the nines in a flowing green dress, her hair still perfectly in place in an elaborate up-do. Looking oddly small next to the sister-soldier's bulk, she gave a timid smile and waved, relief and annoyance warring on her features.

"Donna!" he cried. "Hello! Things are looking up, I take it."

She stepped past the soldier, glaring up at her faceplate. "Depends," she said. "If you mean they're not planning on executing you for trespassing on sacred women's ground, then, yeah. But it's still no cocktail party, Doctor."

"Told you, we were fashionably late is all."

"Thirty years," she drew out the last word, "and a matriarchal revolution, late."


"The Warlady says you're her property, now."

He frowned, tapping his chin with a finger. "They do lighten up in the next few decades."

"Less talking," the sister-soldier interrupted from the doorway, hefting her weapon. The Doctor took a step back into the room, eyeing her warily before looking back at Donna in slowly growing panic.

"So, ah, how'd you get in to see me, then?"

"Conjugal," Donna said, enunciating very precisely. "Visit."

"Oh no--" the Doctor backed farther to the corner.

"Less talking," the sister-soldier repeated.

"No, no, no, let's think about this--"

Donna looked back. "Better get on with it," she said, reaching up slowly to undo her hair.

The Doctor stared.

"Donna Noble," he said. "I could kiss you right now."

She grinned, and in one slick move tossed him the sonic screwdriver that had been holding her french twist in place, then ducked expertly out of the way. He caught it in stride and aimed a disabling pulse right at the sister-soldier's chest. Sparks crackled out of her helmet and she dropped her weapon, bringing her gloved hands to her ears before collapsing to the ground. He sprang to her side, kicking the weapon out of the way, opening her faceplate and checking her breathing, before leaping up again.

"Did it work?" Donna asked, scrambling up from the corner. The Doctor was already talking a mile a minute.

"Brilliant, you are. Absolutely brilliant, and hang on, Mentellia's under a bartering system, aren't they? You'd have to barter for my company. Anyway, what'd you have to trade? Can't get to the TARDIS, and I know you're not the best at bluffing--no offense, it's a difficult skill--and so I--" he stopped suddenly, staring down at the tip of her nose. "I thought you were taller."

He looked down. Donna waggled her stockinged toes.

"Lucky for you," she said, "I can spot shoe envy a mile away. Even in an alien Warlady."

He met her eyes, hurt. "You traded a pair of shoes for my sexual favors?"

"Oi, show some gratitude!"

"A pair of shoes?" he repeated.

"They were Valentinos!"

A clang and commotion around the corner turned both their heads to the open door.

"Oh, they were right awful for running, anyway," Donna said.

The Doctor gave a maniacal grin, and hand in hand, they bounded for the corridor.