"Give it to me straight," Donna said. "I'm going to die, aren't I?"
"Of course not," the Doctor said – a bit too quickly, in Donna's opinion, and without even looking up from the control panel he was attacking with his sonic gadget.
"You don't need to hide it, Doctor. I don't know what this alien thingummy I'm strapped into does – and don't think I haven't noticed you not telling me – but it's ticking and there's some kind of countdown, and that's never a good sign." She frowned at the countdown indicator. "It's not even proper numbers, so not only don't I know how I'm going to die, I don't even know how long I have left."
"Over half an hour."
"You didn't even look!"
"No, but I have an excellent memory." The Doctor switched off his gadget and turned to face her. "Donna, you are not going to die. I'm going to get you out of this in the nick of time, and you're going to live. One day, you'll go home, get married, and have a beautiful daughter who'll make you very proud."
"How do you know? Peeked into my future, have you?"
"No, not as such, but I also have excellent pattern recognition skills."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, the first time Rose – you remember I told you about Rose? – the first time I met Rose's mother, she slapped me. And after Rose was Martha, and the first time I met Martha's mother, she slapped me." He rubbed his cheek reflectively. "And in between those two, there was you, and–"
"You've never met my mother. You didn't talk to anybody at the reception, and when I invited you in for dinner, you said you didn't do family dinners. Mind you, if people's mothers keep slapping you, I can see why."
"The point is, the first time I met you, you slapped me."
"And that means... what? that I'm destined to be the mother of one of your travelling companions? That's ridiculous!"
"Oh, probably," said the Doctor, grinning. He switched off his gadget with a flourish (when had he started working on the control panel again?) as all the restraints snapped open. "Kept your mind off dying, though, didn't it?"
"Well," Donna said, as he helped her to her feet, "that's one part of the prediction wrong already."
"You said you'd get me out of there in the nick of–"
The ticking stopped. The countdown, when they turned to look, had also stopped, displaying a row of identical squiggles. Various parts of the alien device began to glow menacingly.
"You said," Donna amended, "there was over half an hour left!"
"Talk later," the Doctor said. "Run now!"