Donna scanned the celebration hall again, blue eyes sharp over the rim of her fruity drink.
The Doctor watched her cautiously. She’d been in a terrible mood for what seemed like days now, snapping and sniping at him at the slightest provocation. And she kept trying to sneak away, blatantly ignoring the ‘no wandering off’ rule, even back on the TARDIS. She’d only brightened up when he suggested the millennial celebration. And only when he’d pointed out that it was a hotspot for humans. She’d been making a lot of comments about her own kind lately.
…Increasingly frequent comments, if he thought about it. Which he tried not to.
“What are you looking for?” the Doctor asked, pitching his voice as neutrally as possible.
Donna flicked a glance his way and went right back to it. “What do you think?”
“Er…” He glanced around again. The room was filled with humans and humanoids casually sipping beverages and shifting in uncomfortable footwear. “Food?” he guessed. Humans didn’t have terribly complicated needs when it came down to it. She was already holding a drink and had showered recently. Food was the most likely unmet need.
Donna scoffed faintly. “A certain kind of snack would be nice…” She spotted something and the Doctor followed her eye-line to a man with a strong jawline and broad shoulders, looking back across the venue.
“Do you know him?” the Doctor asked, waving cheerily.
Donna smacked his hand down. “Of course I don’t― Oh, that actually worked!” She followed the man’s beckoning, making her way over. “Hello,” she said and offered a downturned hand. “I’m Donna.”
“Gabriel,” the man said, taking her hand and pulling her in for a kiss on both cheeks.
Surprisingly, Donna not only allowed the move, but returned the gesture. “Charmed,” she said, smiling.
“Hello, I’m the Doctor!” the Doctor chimed in, moving to mirror the gesture only to have Donna catch him with a hand on his chest.
“Not now, Spaceman!”
“But you just―!“
“Shhch!” she shushed him, turning a sharp smile back on the man. “Not to be too forward, but… you are human, right? At least a bit?”
“One hundred percent,” Gabriel smiled, showing very symmetrical teeth. “Well. Perhaps some debate on my maternal grandmother’s side, but we try not to bring it up.”
Donna laughed, but it was strange and slightly tinkling. “Well, we all have our secrets,” she said and leaned in to him like she was having trouble balancing.
“Are your fine motor skills impaired?” the Doctor asked.
Donna shot him a glare, but Gabriel turned as well, looking curious. “Are you two…?”
“We’re not married!” Donna said, faster than usual. Which was saying something.
“Not married,” the Doctor echoed, frowning at her.
The man turned back to Donna. “So he’s your…?”
“Mate,” Donna said.
“Best mate,” the Doctor corrected.
“My best mate, who was just going to take a look around,” Donna said, and made a vague shooing gesture.
“I’m what?” the Doctor asked.
“It’s a party,” Donna said. “Don’t you want to mingle? See if you’ve saved anyone’s grandparents from an exploding convoy? Have yourself a little bond over it?”
“I sincerely doubt―“ The Doctor looked around. “Actually, that man does look a bit familiar around the earlobes…”
“Excellent opening line,” Donna said, and made that shooing gesture again.
“Go on,” she gave him a look that was clearly intended to mean something and then stepped closer to the man again, smiling. “Now, what other family secrets might we discuss, hm?”
The Doctor headed off toward the man with the familiar earlobes.
It turned out that the Doctor had not saved anyone’s grandparents from any convoys… but there was a statue of him in one woman’s hometown and she was very keen to describe it to him.
It was a bit strange, considering he was as clear as he was going to get on what he looked like. But she was very enthusiastic and kept touching his sleeve and turning new colors.
Every time he looked around for Donna she seemed to be closer to that strange Gabriel man with the disproportionately broad shoulders. She also seemed to be having more and more trouble standing up on her own, bracing against his arm or chest. When he looked over to find her practically hanging from his neck, the Doctor decided he should probably check back in.
“Donna,” he called as soon as he was close enough. “Are you all right?”
Donna startled and Gabriel pulled a hand back from where it had been resting surprisingly low on her rear.
“Of course I’m all right!” Donna said, but she sounded a bit breathy.
“Are you experiencing difficulty breathing?” the Doctor asked, digging in his pocket for his stethoscope.
“No!” Donna said, and bared her teeth into not-quite-a-smile. “You can run along now!”
“Your balance seems to be impacted,” the Doctor pointed out. “What’s your current blood alcohol level?”
“Seven,” Donna said sarcastically. “Now toddle on off!”
“… Are you two married?” Gabriel asked, looking between them.
“No!” they both answered in unison.
“…But you’re… together? Yes?”
“You mean right now?” the Doctor asked, eying the space between them and trying to work out human definitions of ‘together.’
Donna gave him another look and turned back to Gabriel. “No, he’s not even human!”
The Doctor wasn’t human, but he wasn’t used to her being the one to volunteer that information. And there was something dismissive about the way she said it that left a bitter taste. He found himself taking a step back.
Donna caught the movement and glanced over, looking apologetic and then indignant about it. “Well, you’re not!”
Gabriel blinked. “Donna, that’s a bit speciesist. It’s the 61st century…”
“No, I’m not―! We travel together and we’re best mates, but we’re not―! He doesn’t even―!” Donna flailed a bit and then settled on, “My point is it’s not an issue!”
That seemed to start a little debate, and the Doctor took the cue for once, heading back toward the TARDIS.
“Oi!” Donna caught him at the entryway. “You don’t have to leave! It’s a party! Don’t you want to talk to all these people? You love talking to people!”
The Doctor turned just enough to note Gabriel standing where they’d left him, looking concerned. “I’m feeling a bit tired. Just going to head back. You carry on.” He tugged the wrist caught in her grip, but she didn’t let go.
“You never admit to being tired!” she accused, and then stepped in closer. “I’m sorry, all right? I didn’t mean to― I’m just trying to let off some steam, you know? Oh, look who I’m talking to, of course you don’t know…”
The Doctor’s back stiffened. “I might not be human, but I’m perfectly capable of―“
“I’m sorry about that!” Donna cut him off, and she certainly looked sorry. “I didn’t mean― I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have said anything! Listen, I’m trying to work this out, yeah? Could you just let me have a little time with my human hormones and someone who doesn’t find them a chore?”
The Doctor frowned. “I’ve never―“
“No, I know you’ve never said,” Donna cut him off again. “But― Listen, humans need― I need a little connection every once in a while!”
The Doctor couldn’t quite describe the way that implication registered in his chest. Like a blow, almost. “Right,” he said. “With your own kind.”
“Please don’t look like that,” Donna begged. “It’s nothing―“ She dug the heels of her hands into her own eyes. “Can I not have a few hours alone to just deal with this?!”
The Doctor squinted at her. “Deal with what?”
“Honestly, how many humans have you traveled with?!” Donna looked like she was going to pull out her own hair. “Some of them must have had needs!”
“Course they did,” the Doctor said, wondering why she was bringing it up. “You humans have very predictable needs, actually. Food, water, sleep, a fair amount of hygienic upkeep…”
Donna lost whatever limited cool she’d been holding onto. “Sex, Doctor! I’m talking about sex!”
The Doctor blinked at her. “You want to have sex? Right now?”
Donna made an impatient gesture. “Ideally! Yes!”
He glanced over her shoulder at the broad-shouldered Gabriel, looking around too casually. “…And you’ve selected Gabriel by his secondary sexual characteristics?”
Donna gave a bobbly nod. “The height and the eyes and the chest, yeah.” She paused and added, “He also seems like a nice guy.”
The Doctor straightened a bit, noting that the shoulders didn’t make the list. “I have eyes and a chest. And I’m taller than the average human male.”
Donna rolled her eyes, “Sure, but you don’t have sex.”
“What?” The Doctor blinked at her. “Of course I do!”
“Well, you don’t have sex with humans ,” Donna said.
“What?” he repeated. “I’m not speciesist!”
Donna pinched the bridge of her nose between two fingers. “Well, you don’t want to have sex with me, then! There, is that clear enough for you?!”
The Doctor blinked at her again. “Do you want me to?”
“What?! Don’t just offer―! I don’t make people have sex with me, you know! I get offers!”
The Doctor considered that. “Do you want me to offer?”
“It doesn’t matter what I want! You’ve made it very clear―!”
“Of course it matters!” the Doctor interrupted. “Consent is a key component of all―“
“Don’t lecture me on consent! I’m the one who can tell the difference between a confused alien with boundary issues and a consenting adult!” Donna pointed back toward the bar. “Now, if you could just stay out of trouble for two bloody hours I can scratch this itch and be back in the TARDIS before bedtime! You can pick which spoon you want to be!”
The Doctor turned that over in his mind. “…I could ―what was the phrase you used?― scratch that itch… if you wanted.” Donna opened her mouth and he clarified, “By which I mean have sex. With you. If you wanted.” She clicked her mouth closed again, eyes going very wide. “Only if you wanted!” he added, for clarity.
Donna opened and closed her mouth a few times before actually speaking. “Are you just jealous? Because I’m not going to stay with him! I’m coming right back!”
“No!” he said, and then reconsidered. “Maybe. A bit! But no, I’m offering because I’d… like to…” He could feel his eyes going very wide and tried to get them back to a normal dilation.
Donna gave him a long look and then seemed to just lose any muscle rigidity, slumping in her own frame. She cast a glance back over her shoulder, caught Gabriel-with-the-shoulders’ eyes and shook her head. Gabriel put a hand to his chest, looking regretful even at a distance, but shrugged and turned back to the crowd.
“Right,” Donna said, taking the Doctor’s hand with a resigned sigh. “If it means enough for you to…“ She sighed again. “Let’s just go.”
The Doctor set the TARDIS back to the Vortex and turned to Donna who was suddenly fascinated by something in the ceiling.
“Donna?” He moved closer.
Donna tilted her head just a little further back, closing her eyes. “Don’t suppose I could talk you into at least letting me have an hour alone in the bath without a whole debate, huh?”
The Doctor eyed her. “You want to take a bath? Right now?”
“No, not― Never mind.“ Donna sighed again, closing her eyes, but tilted her head back down. “What do you want to do? Watch a movie?” That sharp tone was back.
“Wouldn’t that be distracting?” the Doctor asked and closed the remaining distance, pulling her into a kiss.
Donna went a bit rigid, and her hands fisted in the front of his jacket, but instead of pushing him off she pulled him in closer, angling her head and kissing him back like he had the only viable gravitational field somewhere down the back of his own throat.
In the next moment, she was wrenching back and to the side. “Oh, God! What are you doing now?! ”
The Doctor pulled his hands off, hovering just shy of contact. “Are you revoking consent?”
Donna gave him a look like he’d sprouted six new limbs. “What?!”
He held very still. “You can revoke at any time, of course, but could you be a bit clearer? I have trouble reading human signals of this kind.” He didn’t like admitting it, and Donna should know better than anyone, but his skin crawled at even the possibility that he might misread this particular scenario.
“Yeah, it’s not my consent that I’m worried about!” Donna snapped.
The Doctor considered that. “Oh. Would you like verbal consent as well? Of course, that makes sense!” He gave her a bright smile. “I’d like to have sex with you now. But only if you’d like that as well!”
Donna’s eyes went very wide again. “Are you serious?”
“Course I am,” he said. “Why would I joke about consent?”
“But you― Is this one of your reciprocal offer things? You aren’t trying to trade sex now for a back rub later, are you?”
Donna appeared to be scanning his face very carefully, so he tried for his highest level of human-legible sincerity. “I wouldn’t object to a back rub later, but no, of course not. I’m familiar with human aversion to trades concerning sexual intercourse. One of your more sensical aversions, really.” He tilted his head back to Donna. “So then. Are we clear? I do need verbal consent.”
Donna gave him an entirely new look, somewhere between baffled, indignant, and accusatory. “Why’s this coming up now? You’ve never― What was all that talk about just wanting a mate?!”
The Doctor blinked at her. “Are mates not permitted to have sex?”
“No!” Donna shouted. “That’s the whole― You’re the one who said ‘ a mate!’ A mate!”
“Well,” he blustered. “Am I not allowed to change my mind? You said it was fine! Made a whole speech about it when you wanted me to retry grapes!”
Donna scoffed. “This is hardly― Where’s this even coming from?”
The Doctor eyed her uncomfortably. “You want me to make a grand speech? Compose some type of poetry? I suppose I could …” He frowned, considering. “What’s your favorite type of frog?”
“What?” Donna snapped. “No, I don’t want some nonsense sonnet― I mean why are you asking me now?! You’ve never― I thought you were asexual!”
“I am,” he said. “From a reproductive perspective.” He gave her a concerned look. “You weren’t― You do know we’d be incompatible for actual breeding purposes, yes? Different species.”
“Yeah, again, that’s not my question!” Donna snapped. “You’ve never shown any interest! At all! I mean― We’ve slept together! You wouldn’t leave the room for me to shower yesterday!”
“I wasn’t watching,” the Doctor said, rolling his eyes. “I was moving our current conversation to the bathroom for your convenience!”
“But you―“ Donna sputtered, losing track of her own objections. “You’ve never shown any interest! At all!”
The Doctor frowned at her. “Do you think I sleep with all of my companions?”
“Well,” Donna blustered. “Yeah!”
He took a step back at that. “Do you? ”
Donna blinked at him far too many times. “Do I what?!”
“Do you sleep with all of your mates?”
“No, of course not!” Donna snapped. “But you― But I―“ She visibly stalled out and then shook her head so violently it looked like it hurt. “Are you serious?! ”
“Course I am,” the Doctor said, starting to get a little put off.
“So if I… kissed you…” Donna’s cheeks went a little pink. “…You’d like that?”
“Very much,” he agreed. She stepped closer and nearly jumped back when he held up a finger to clarify. “I’d need verbal consent to proceed to more intimate contact though.”
Donna made a very strange noise, like she didn’t know whether to scoff or laugh, and she twitched back on her toes before seeming to shove herself forward. “Noted,” she said, and pulled him down into a kiss.
The Doctor bent easily, and her arms went around his shoulders and it was all quite nice. Donna tasted like the fruity drink she’d had earlier, and her breath puffed warm and welcome against his cheek. After a moment, she curled in, pressing her front more snugly to his, and she really was quite soft and lovely to hold. Her one human heart thudded hard enough for him to feel it, and warmth seemed to radiate from every point of contact.
He wrapped his own arms around, licking lightly at her lower lip and she pulled him closer still with a funny little sound as her own tongue slid out to meet his.
After four minutes and twenty-three seconds, she started getting a bit restless, moving her hands and trying to nudge herself closer still. After a few rounds of her moving his hands lower and him moving them right back up, she pulled back with a huffy sigh and said, “Fine! Yes! Here’s your verbal consent! Clear enough?!”
“Yes, thanks!” The Doctor ducked back down, resealing their mouths, and let his hands stroke down, edging over curves that he normally avoided. Donna groaned enthusiastic approval and started tearing her way into his buttons.
They managed to get halfway out of their clothes before the lack of viable surfaces became an issue. Donna had him backed into one of the railings and it was digging into his spine, but he only noticed when she shoved his trousers down and the TARDIS gave him a shock that nearly sent him sprawling.
“Ow!” Donna yelped, snatching her hands back. “Did she just shock me?!”
The TARDIS twittered and the Doctor got a sharp spike of second-hand embarrassment. “Er,” he said. “She only meant to get me.” He fumbled his trousers back up, only far enough to enable walking. “…Perhaps a bedroom would be more comfortable?”
“Yeah, sounds good.” Donna crowded him backward but slipped one hand under the waistband of his pants, making the whole process a bit distracting.
He had his own hands all over the places he wasn’t supposed to touch before and that certainly wasn’t helping, but they still managed to stumble back through a door and the Doctor’s room appeared on the other side.
“There’d better not be anything living in the bed,” Donna said, and herded him toward it.
The Doctor tried to remember where he’d left the moss garden, but Donna was pressing in again and he got a bit distracted.
Donna rolled onto her stomach and didn’t comment on the Doctor rolling right along with her, close enough to feel her lungs expanding and contracting. She certainly seemed to have relaxed her campaign to keep him at arm’s length. It took her a few tries to gasp, “Once you decided to stop the whole asexual masquerade you really went from 0 to 60, didn’t you?”
The Doctor blinked, but she twisted just enough to let him see her lips were curved. Teasing, probably. He smiled back. “Your mood seems to have improved,” he noted.
“Yeah, imagine that,” Donna laughed and pulled his arm under, hugging it to her chest. He kept his fingers flat, but couldn’t quite help pressing his palm in a bit and Donna shivered delightfully. “…How long does it take you between goes?”
“Hm?” he asked, flexing his grip just a little.
Donna sighed, but clarified, “How long until you can get it up again?”
“What?” he felt around more carefully, testing for notable responses. Donna sighed, but he was pretty sure it was in response to the verbal exchange. He ran it back, looking for gaps. “Oh, I don’t have a refractory period.” He concentrated on blood-flow to demonstrate.
Donna’s head bobbed up, turning. “Really?”
“Two hearts,” he reminded her, not quite sure what to make of that tone. “…Is that a problem?”
“Not for me it’s not!” Donna wriggled and he backed off, but she was just angling for a kiss apparently, and he was more than happy to adjust. “Come here, you barmy alien!”
It certainly didn’t sound like an insult that time.