The Doctor sat uneasily in the television studio, the chair groaning as he tried to swivel in it. Why was he sitting there again? Oh yes. It was all thanks to some ginger woman who apparently had the answer to every known problem in the world if not the universe! Good grief! He hated such ‘know it all’s. And to think she was paid to spout about it too.
He sighed in irritation and changed position again. Did the universe have to keep rubbing it in his face? All his life he had wanted to be ginger haired, and he found himself landed with another ginger companion when he’d been promised a blonde one. It wasn’t fair! Why were some obnoxious people blessed with ginger hair? With a great deal of effort, he fought off a jealous pout.
It was all Sarah Jane Smith’s fault, he decided; forcing him to land back on Earth and take care of this one particular problem personally. She had got wind of a plot to kidnap the ginger woman by the H’rae. Why they would want Donna Noble, queen of the afternoon chat show that gave chavs the chance to air their dirty washing in public, was a different matter entirely.
At that thought, Donna appeared on the peripheries of his vision. “Oi you! Swivel boy! Get your act together, pronto!” she yelled at him from across the studio.
How would he describe Donna Noble to anyone that hadn’t heard of her? ‘Mouthy’, sprang to mind. ‘Popular’, Sarah Jane had insisted on telling him. Hmm, he supposed the tall leggy woman with the figure of a Ruben’s model could be considered as attractive as she stood in an outfit that emphasised every single curve; but he was immune to all that. Of course he was; especially when she ranted at him. He rolled his eyes in exasperation as he stood up to greet her ire. “Yes, alright!” he shouted back.
“And don’t think I have no idea what you are thinking right now, because I do!” she shot at him as she strode towards him at an alarming rate. “You may get away with cruising on your looks, but around here you are just another lackey.”
“Oi! You take that back!” he demanded testily, ignoring the backhanded compliment for the time being. Instead he adjusted his jacket sleeves. “I am not ‘just’ anything. As for you… well, the jury is out.”
A pointed, manicured index finger thrust itself into his face, followed by a menacing voice. “Don’t take that tone with me, Sunshine! Or you and me are going to fall out, with plenty of bloodshed. I may have taken you on as an employee but I’m doing this as a favour for your mum.”
“My mum?” he mouthed in wonder at her.
She immediately launched into an explanation, “Yes! D’uh! Sarah Jane had very specifically told me her son was a Professor Brainstorm sort of person, with a weird sense of dress.” Well, wearing Converses with a suit certainly passed for weird in her world. As did the whole name thing. Who seriously called themselves ‘The Doctor’, for goodness sake? And there was no way she would satisfy his ego by keeping to ‘John’. Oh no; she was not going to pander to John Smith in the slightest.
“You think…?” He couldn’t hold in his peal of laughter for any longer. It ripped through his body and left him momentarily weak as he fought to remain upright. As he wiped away the tears from his eyes, he pondered aloud, “I wonder what ‘Dad’ would have thought of you?”
She regarded him caustically. Flipping cheek! “I’ve seen the photos of him, mate; and I can see you’ve inherited the same dress sense, except you don’t go in for all the velvet.”
That sobered him for a moment as he wondered what photos Sarah Jane possessed from her travels with him and thought back to his third self. “I thought the velvet looked quite dashing,” he remarked defensively with a sniff.
Oh dear! It didn’t pay to diss someone’s dad, too much anyway, especially if he was probably dead. She patronisingly patted the Doctor on the arm. “I’m sure it did at the time; back in the Dark Ages. And your Old Man wasn’t all that bad looking.” She then eyed his hair thoughtfully. “Are you likely to go grey early too?”
“What?!” He anxiously touched his hair, as if it needed a consoling hand all on its own.
That had clearly unsettled him. Donna wanted to crow with victory over this arrogant, sanctimonious but oddly likeable boffin. She merely smirked at him knowingly, and dabbed him on the tip of his nose playfully, wanting to tease him a little bit more. “I can tell you’re one of the lucky ones. You won’t wither and die; instead you’ll become more distinguished. Blokes are often lucky like that. Now me,” she said, pointing to herself. “I never was pretty, so I’ve got nothing to lose in that department; but I will miss these when they drop.” She then emphasised her words by clutching her well-endowed bosom.
Inevitably his eyes followed her actions, watching her hands move up and down; and he found himself contemplating her ample assets when he really should have been looking elsewhere. “They don’t look as though they’re about to sag for the wrong reasons,” he said as he kept his attention there.
She deliberately pushed her breasts together, and laughed loudly when his eyes practically went boss-eyed with the effort of controlling his reaction to the swell of her flesh. “Thought so!” she trilled triumphantly, and then walked away, leaving him floundering like a landed fish. What was the point of staying around when she had scored all the points she possibly could?
It took a few seconds for him to realise she was leaving him standing there on his own. “Donna! Wait for me!” he called out after her, and gave chase. Not that it took him very long to catch up with her, since she wasn’t walking very fast and he was a pretty good runner at the best of times. “So…,” he mused as he meandered next to her. “What’s next on the agenda?”
She stopped to turn and answer him. “I was thinking some sort of leather fetish followed by a little light spanking.”
“I beg your pardon!” he spluttered.
“For a doctor you’re not particularly with it at times, John Smith,” she chastised him. “The show!” She twirled her finger around in emphasis to denote where they stood. “You know, the whole reason we are standing here among all these cameras and microphones in a television studio. I have to help sort some people out with their problems, and today’s topic is finding out your partner’s darkest secrets. I’m sure you have plenty of your own.”
“What are you implying?” he asked, crossing his arms in self-defence. There might have been a hint of a pout, but he’d never own up to it.
There was a swift glance up his body as Donna sought out another way to goad him. “At a guess, I’d say you have sock odour problems that could kill at twenty paces, and… let me see…” She then circled him as she continued to try and see into his soul. “Hmm… closet gay perhaps although you are more likely to be bi, food issues, and probably commitment phobic. You certainly have a problem with authority and strong women. You’re a walking cliché.”
“Now look here…!” he started to protest.
“Acting all superior don’t win you no friends either; but I’m sure your mum spoilt you rotten like that. It’s a common mistake,” she carried on saying, completely ignoring his outburst. “Can I just say, for future reference: I’ve noticed you. Now, you can stop the act and we can get on with whatever you’ve been sent to do.” An extremely sweet smile was then aimed in his direction.
“Can we have you back in makeup, Miss Noble?” someone wearing a headset stepped up to ask, and Donna was taken away from his slowly forming retort.
He would not get the chance to bring it back into the conversation, much to his annoyance. Instead he made do with glaring at her retreating back. The Doctor reminded himself that he was a man of honour, and having promised Sarah Jane that he would protect Donna Noble he would carry out that promise.
At that moment Donna was sitting innocently in the makeup chair. “Who’s the new squeezy geezer following you around?” the girl asked Donna.
“You’ve got the wrong end of the stick, Rebecca,” she answered. “His name is Dr John Smith, and I’m employing him to look after me as a favour to his mum.”
Rebecca wafted a brush over Donna’s face. “His mum, you say? It’s rare for a man to get a job through his mum. Is he married and why do you need a doctor with you all the time to look after you?”
“He’s not married or with anyone, according to his mum,” Donna started to say when she spotted him approaching them in the mirror. She called out to him, “Come and meet Rebecca, John. She wants to know why you’re bothering to hang about with me.”
The Doctor cordially greeted Rebecca, and seated himself where he could easily see them. “I’m making sure Donna stays safe from possible threats.”
Rebecca busied herself applying some lip gloss. “SO… John, how long have you been looking after Donna here?”
Donna glared at Rebecca for asking a question when she couldn’t reply.
The Doctor noted her discomfort, and answered, “We met last night. I’ve stayed close by her side ever since.”
Rebecca’s eyes widened in surprise. “Right by her side? As in… all night…?”
Donna swatted her arm. “That’s enough of your cheek! It’s none of your business where he slept; but if you must know, he was in another bedroom.”
Rebecca pulled a disbelieving face. “I’m sure he guarded you all night long.”
What did that mean? The Doctor found himself to be completely confused by this conversation between Donna and the makeup girl. He opened his mouth to ask a question, but Donna immediately interrupted him.
“Before you ask, yes she is saying that, and no I don’t think that way,” she told him sternly. “As for you,” she continued, aiming these words at Rebecca “put the wooden spoon away. You’ve done enough stirring for today.”
Rebecca merely smirked back at her playfully; she knew she’d have a good laugh about this later with her, especially as John was looking none the wiser. Poor bloke. Did he know what he was letting himself in for with Donna? She certainly didn’t suffer fools gladly, but she was a riot to spend any decent time with.
Donna pulled herself up out of the makeup chair, and resisted clicking her fingers at the Doctor. “Come on, Fido. We have a show to go and put on. I might need you to stop a fight or two,” she commanded, and winked slyly at Rebecca before leaving the room.
“I’m not called Fido,” he grumbled as she swished passed him.
Donna watched the Doctor nervously fidget whilst her microphone was put in place close to her cleavage. His eyes bore into the soundman. Anybody would think he was being possessive by the way he was behaving. It was sweet though, she decided, even if he was being paid to look after her. Not that she remembered negotiated that part of the deal now that she came to think about it.
Her memory had become more than a bit hazy in the last few months, since those strange lights had appeared; closely followed by Sarah Jane Smith bursting into her life.
When exactly had it begun? Donna strove to work it out.
It had all started with the weirdo kite that had flown right by her head one night as she put the rubbish out in the dustbin. There hadn’t been any sound to accompany it; just these two bright lights that swept passed her like an annoying blue bottle. She hated flies at the best of times, so she had swatted at it, hoping to kill the bloody thing, only to see it fly rapidly in the direction of next door. She’d get the blighter later, when it made another attack. Except it didn’t. Instead it zoomed off into the sky like a reversed homing pigeon.
The following day Sarah Jane Smith had arrived in Donna’s office full of questions about the phenomenon. How fast was it? How big? Did it have eyes? Did it try to speak? Did it pick up Sky or BBC1? Okay, Donna had made that last question up, but Sarah Jane might as well have asked it for all the sense it made.
But Donna liked Sarah Jane; she liked her very much, and had formed a tentative friendship with her on that first day. In many ways Sarah Jane was extremely secretive. For instance, it was only yesterday that she found out where she lived. There had been several mentions of her son, and how clever he was; but beyond that, Donna didn’t know his name, what he did for a living or what he looked like. It had been a relief and a wonder to finally find out. Donna had started to think that Sarah Jane might have made him up in order to fill some sort of gap in her life. Well, women were known to have phantom pregnancies, so why not follow that through with a phantom child? Stranger things had cropped up on her daytime show.
Something amusing caught her eye, and Donna found herself regarding the Doctor again.
He was trying desperately to stand still next to the floor manager, Donna noted. Any moment now Dave, the floor manager, was going to tell John to bugger off! She was sure of that. There was such a lot of energy around the man as though his feet wanted to run alongside his rampant thoughts. You could almost see them whirling around in his head. He was the sort of bloke you could record using SP on an old VHS machine, play back at LP and still be able to understand him perfectly if not better than normal. Either that or she was being exceptionally thick again. She knew she tended to be more than a bit thick around blokes that she fancied. Not that she fancied Dr John Smith. Oh no. How could she go after a long streak of nothing like him? Nope, it wasn’t going to happen. Plus Sarah Jane had told her that he had a thing for some blonde she’d seen him with a while back. Donna Noble did not step on anyone’s toes. Never ever.
Still… he had nice eyes, she conceded. Deep brown eyes that held the world in their depths; not that she had looked that closely, mind you. And a smile that lit up the room when he was amused.
Oh bugger! She was in danger of making a complete fool of herself if she wasn’t careful. In the moments that he did his wounded duck act she wanted to hug him to within an inch of his life. That was a very bad reaction. Men absolutely hated that sort of thing. No, it was better that she carried on as she was, reminding herself that he was off limits.
With a defiant shrug, Donna squared her shoulders and picked up her script to memorise.
The Doctor instantly noticed the action, and worried what had caused it. Had something or someone affected her? Was it the start of a personal attack? All his senses went on standby.
Now that she was quiet and reading, he could examine her without interruption. Boy had she came as a shock into his life! He wasn’t sure if he should thank or blame Sarah Jane for bringing them together. Donna hadn’t come across as pleased to see him when he had met her yesterday.
“You want me to what?” she had cried out when Sarah Jane had suggested that John stay with her in order to make sure she stayed safe. “Look, I know you mean well, and those bloody little things that come without batteries included keep buzzing me like demented Harrier Jump Jets, but I am capable of looking after myself!”
Sarah Jane sighed in exasperation. “Donna, you are in danger. I don’t know what sort of danger yet, but you have been targeted for some reason and need constant monitoring.”
Donna had carefully put her tea cup down on the kitchen table in Sarah Jane’s house before going into a full rant. “Monitoring?! What am I now, some sort of silly girl who falls over and twists her ankle while she’s waiting for Prince Charming to appear on the scene?”
“No, Donna. I never said you were as feeble as that,” Sarah Jane tried to counter. “But I’m worried about you. That’s why I brought you home to meet my son and Mr Smith; so that I can work this all out.”
Mr Smith, Donna wondered. Was her husband still alive somewhere in the house?
It was at this point that the Doctor appeared in the doorway, watching them with great interest. “Hello! You wanted to see me about something?” he asked, pointing his question towards Sarah Jane.
“You made it!” she exclaimed, greeting him with obvious delight and relief. “This is Donna, the one I told you about. She keeps being pestered by creatures that are obviously alien, and we have no idea why they are so interested in her.” Sarah Jane then thought to turn to Donna to introduce them properly. “Donna, this is... erm…”
“John Smith,” he said, stepping forward in order to take her hand. “But you can call me the Doctor.”
Donna automatically returned his handshake. “The Doctor? That’s a bit formal, isn’t it? Or is it a nickname?”
“A bit of both, but I am a doctor,” he admitted.
“The sort that deals with bunions and hip joints, or the sort that deals with science stuff like rockets?” she wondered.
He chuckled. “The latter. Well, sort of the latter. There’s a lot of science involved with what I do but I rarely get to play with rockets.”
“And does that involve taking DNA samples and fingerprints?” she then asked.
“Not on a regular basis. Why?” He frowned in confusion.
“In that case, can I have my hand back, please?” she answered, tilting her head to indicate the fact that he still had a tight hold of her hand.
“Oh! Sorry!” he blurted out and instantly dropped her hand from his grasp.
“Ta very much,” she replied, and turned to dismiss him from her embarrassed mind.
“I’m making tea,” Sarah Jane deliberately interrupted the awkward moment between them. “Perhaps you’d like a cup while you explain things to Donna.”
“Explain? What sort of things?” Donna demanded as she fixed her beady eye on the pair of them.
“We may have to spend the night together.” The Doctor knew those were the wrong words as soon as he had uttered them, but the expression on Donna’s face clarified that for him.
“What?!” she shrieked. “I don’t know what you were expecting, Bunsen boy, but there is no way on God’s earth that I will spend the night with you!”
“Earth is only one option,” he muttered to himself. He stepped forward and Donna immediately stepped back in self-defence. “No no no no! I didn’t mean like…” His sincerity was underlined by the blush that suddenly appeared on his pale cheeks, and he took a steadying deep breath before continuing, “I propose that we stay within the same house or space whilst I work out what these things are and what exactly they want with you.”
“He really is good at this sort of thing,” added Sarah Jane. “In fact he’s been investigating alien activity for years.”
“He has?” Donna regarded her uncertainly. She then found her hands being intensely grabbed.
“Please, Donna; for me,” Sarah Jane begged. She really didn’t want her newly formed friend to suffer any unnecessary harm, and she knew the Doctor would soon have it all figured out once he had time to think things through.
There was a sigh in answer. “Oh, alright!” Donna reluctantly agreed. “You’re hired,” she told the Doctor, “but don’t expect any special treatment from me.”
“As if I would,” he retorted.
“In that case, I’d better show you where you will be sleeping,” Sarah Jane interrupted another possible misunderstanding. “Follow me, Donna.”
Dutifully following Sarah Jane, Donna found herself going up two flights of stairs and into a small bedroom. As they entered the room, Donna noticed a framed photograph on the side. She peered closely at the badly lit picture. “Is that you, Sarah Jane?” she asked, since the young woman resembled her.
Sarah Jane peered too. “Oh yes! That when I used to travel quite a lot. If you really look closely you can just about see the Doctor.”
Donna resumed looking, and could make out an old man looking over Sarah Jane’s shoulder in the background, but where was the Doctor? Then she thought to look at Sarah Jane’s stomach. Ah! That’s what she must have meant! The Doctor was the wee bump. “Oh yes,” she replied. “Is that Mr Smith?” she asked, pointing to the man.
“That’s him,” Sarah Jane confirmed with a chuckle. “You don’t have to be so formal.”
You what? When had she been formal? Donna just put it down to the odd things people say at times. She decided to go for a compliment instead. “You look very happy together. And I’m amazed that you haven’t changed much since the early 70s.”
“How did you guess that?” Sarah Jane queried before she caught the compliment and smiled. “Yes, we had good times together.” She then reached round to pluck up another photo that displayed them much more clearly, showing them standing with a uniformed man. “Here we are with our old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.”
Aw, ain’t that sweet, Donna thought. It was nice to know that her friend had some really good memories of her husband. Not everybody fared so well. “You must miss him,” she sympathised.
Sarah Jane nodded her agreement. “Yes, but at least I have my son now for company.”
Donna found herself wondering for how long.
What if their first meeting had gone slightly differently? The Doctor has to stick around to protect Donna Noble from an alien threat. Or is he the alien under threat? He’ll soon find out.
Donna walked over to her studio chair and sat down contentedly. Why did she find riling John Smith so much fun? Because you're not allowed to do anything else to him, an inner voice pointed out.
She snorted. Yeah, that was true. Anything beyond verbal interaction was off limits. So why did her thoughts keep straying to him and how he had acted the night before; poor bloke!
She’d completely dismissed him as an alien hunter when she climbed into bed the night before. There had been much whispering outside her bedroom as Donna tried to get to sleep; Sarah Jane was obviously arguing with John about something.
There was a, “No! You can’t do that!” from Sarah Jane, closely followed by the bedroom door handle being rattle as it turned, and John thrust his way into the room.
“I’m sorry, Donna, but I can’t let this go on,” he cried.
“What? You’re turfing me out?” Donna queried, fearing midnight eviction and holding the edge of the bed covers up to hide her modesty. Not that she had any to hide, mind you; it was merely a knee jerk reaction to the intrusion.
“Why would I throw you out?” he asked in return. “I’m here to protect you, not neglect you. And that’s my point; I need to be in here.”
She pulled the covers further up. “I don’t think you do, Sunshine. There are late night channels and special 098 phone services that cover that sort of thing,” she argued.
“Late night...?” His puzzled face made her want to laugh out loud, which was a relief given their circumstances.
Fortunately she held in most of her laughter. “Are you going to tell me why you burst into my room unannounced or what, Bunsen boy? Cos I feel like slapping you from here to next week at the moment for disturbing my beauty sleep.”
“You don’t need any more,” he instantly answered and then gave a cough. “I’m here to keep an eye on you, Donna, in case those things come back.”
There was a principle at stake here, so she bristled. “I think we can practically guarantee they’ll come back because they seem to have voted me their unofficial queen bee. But that’s not the point, Igor. You are not staying in here to keep an eye on me or put anything else on me!”
“Blimey, you’re suspicious!” he blurted out angrily. “I’m trying to help you.”
“Then you can help me by buggering off with your perverted ideas and let me get some sleep. It’s bad enough being woken in the night by those things,” she huffed.
“That is my point entirely,” he declared, throwing his hands up in despair. “They will come back, and I want to be here when they do.”
“And you will be,” she said, smiling as sweetly as she could at that moment. “You’ll be here, in your bed, in your bedroom with the door safely shut.”
“No no no no, Donna! That wouldn’t do. I need to be here with you.” He held up his finger to stop her firing back the retort he was expecting. “I have to see what they look like and how they move.”
“That’s all you’re going to see,” she said defensibly.
“Why, what were you offering, I mean, what is the problem?” he wondered, sweeping his eyes over her as she hid under the covers. “Have you got any weapons of mass destruction under there that you’re hiding for a friend?” he joked.
“No, but I’ve got my right hook, that I’ve been told is quite deadly when applied with force to a bloke’s jaw,” she threatened.
“In that case you’d better leave him alone for a while,” he retorted whimsically. “Now where should I watch you from?” He stood considering the possibilities as Donna spread herself across the bed in case he got that fancy idea in his head. “This chair should do,” he commented as he touched a rocking chair in the corner of the room
“I’ll tell you what would be even better; if it was outside the door,” she said pointedly.
Oh. She didn't trust him! That was unusual. Normally people complied without too many explanations. Hmm. Donna was obviously going to be a tricky case to deal with. “Fine! I’ll move it to outside the door,” he huffed at her testily. Anyone would think he was Jack the Ripper with the way she was carrying on.
“Good! And don’t forget to shut the door behind you,” she warned as she watched him struggle through the door with the chair.
He shot her a withering look, grabbed the handle and slammed the door. He really shouldn’t have let her get to him like that, but that woman would make Mother Theresa spit.
“See! I told you!” Sarah Jane hissed at him out on the landing.
So he shot her a withering look too and tried to sit gracefully on the rocking chair with a massive pout on his face. He couldn’t understand why she was giggling as she took herself off to bed.
What?! He must have fallen asleep, because he was suddenly startled by a tapping sound. Without consciously thinking, he was up out of the chair, opening the bedroom door and bursting in to see where the noise had come from. To his surprise Donna was standing by the window and was in the process of opening it wide.
Worried that she might be sleep walking, he crept up to her. No, she wasn’t asleep, she was hypnotised by something. Usually that would be pure guesswork, but a bright light switched on to illuminate her from somewhere outside the window and from above.
He bobbed his head outside and could easily see two lights beaming down, but the outline or the structure of the vessel were harder to make out in the glare. The only thing that was conclusive was that this was no object made on earth.
“Donna? Can you hear me?” he softly asked.
Robotic eyes turned and looked at him. “We seek the One then all will be blessed,” she said in a monotone voice that clearly wasn’t her own.
“Let me help you. Who is the One? You don’t have to use Donna to do this. I can help you in a lot more ways,” he insisted.
“She is not ready,” the voice merely said; and the light shut off, throwing them into darkness.
“Where are you going?” he yelled out. “Come back!”
But it was evident that they weren’t going to stay for tea and toast, so he raced out of the room, down the stairs and into the garden. Looking up he could make out some sort of being that hovered above the trees, heading slowly away from the house. If only he could get a closer look...
He rammed a hand into his pocket to bring out his sonic screwdriver, and only then discovered that he didn’t have any pockets. Well, not the ones he needed anyhow. The fact was he didn’t have his suit on either, and was stood outside in a pair of pyjamas Sarah Jane had lent him. Oh yes, he’d woken up with a blanket thrown over him. He didn’t remember that happening either. Looking down, he saw he was also barefooted and about to step on a slug! Stepping back to avoid it, his calf hit the edge of a large earthenware garden tub, and he toppled backwards with a yelp. Falling hadn’t been so bad, but landing and then moving had been painful. He’d landed right in a holly bush!
A hand shot out and grabbed him, pulling him clear of most of the prickles. A few leaves embedded themselves in his pyjamas as he tried to rid himself of the pain and assess the damage.
“I can’t leave you alone for two minutes, can I,” his rescuer mocked him.
“Thanks, Donna. I almost got a good look at them but I forgot my sonic screwdriver. Sorry,” he apologised,
‘Blimey, he looked like a wet week after a thunderstorm standing there in the garden,’ she thought. And goodness knows how a screwdriver would help you look for aliens. Perhaps he’d dreamt it? “Let’s get inside and discuss it,” she offered. “I’ll even make you some tea.” I mean, what sort of bloke rushes out into the garden in the middle of the night to chase aliens wearing next to nothing? Dr John Smith, obviously. He was turning out to be one in a million. “About earlier,” she started to say, “I didn’t mean to be all in your face, but you scared me when you forced your way into the bedroom; and I’ve had a few close shaves with blokes trying it on.” She sighed, and risked placing a tender hand on his arm. “What I’m trying to say is: I’m sorry. I know now that you genuinely were worried about the Eyes in the Sky bots.”
“That’s okay, Donna,” he replied, giving her smile in the low lighting of the kitchen. “I’m sorry for scaring you. I have this habit of acting first and thinking later.”
“Strangely enough I had sort of guessed that. Here, let me help you,” she said, and picked off the last remaining leaves and noted the scratches on his skin. “That’s going to hurt for a while. Just for the record, I’m not taking the blame, so don’t boast otherwise to your mates.”
“Why would I boast?” he asked in confusion. She tended to ask a lot of questions that confused him, he’d noticed.
But she ignored the question as she stirred sugar into his tea. “Here you go,” she said, turning around to hand him his tea and sitting at the kitchen table. “We’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“We have?” he queried. A smile broke out across his face as he sipped his tea and let out a rapturous sigh. “Good tea!” he remarked, still grinning.
“Yes, we’re off to work in the studio. I have a television programme to record,” she clarified.
“What sort of programme do you do?” he asked, hoping it would be something connected with science.
She eyed him in disbelief. “Do you ever watch daytime television?” she asked return.
“Oh!” he replied, disappointment written all over his face. She did that type of programme, eh? Never mind, he was sure that he’d find something to amuse him as he kept vigil. “Should be interesting,” he mused.
Donna stood up decisively as she said, “I hope so; otherwise I’ll soon be out of a job. On that note I’d better get back to bed, and I’ll leave you to wash off all that muck.”
‘What muck?’ he wondered before looking down and seeing the grime on his feet and the prickly evidence bleeding on his hands. Of course he instantly wondered how bad his hairstyle was, since that was a major matter. And then he caught Donna smirking at him and he automatically smirked back. Maybe guarding her wouldn’t be so bad after all?
“Good night, John,” she threw at him, having resisted the urge to kiss his cheek goodnight. He may want to be her knight in shining armour but it didn’t mean that she was going to push things.
“Good night, Donna,” he pleasantly responded. And then sat back to finish his tea. Perhaps spending a day with Donna in a recording studio wouldn’t be so bad after all?
“Are you ready to start, Donna?” Dave stepped forward to ask her. There was then a cautious glance across the television studio. “And what shall we do with your John fella?”
“Oh him?” She lifted her head and threw a brief glance in the Doctor’s direction. “If he gets too bad I’ll drag him on here as a special guest. I’m sure we can dream up some sort of fetish for him. Leave it with me,” she said, and gave Dave a conspiratol wink.
The Doctor went to protest, and then he realised that Donna had no idea that he had superior hearing compared to her. Should he inform her? Although thinking about it, most of his companions had become rather tetchy when he had pointed such things out. Others had been blazing mad. He wondered which one Donna would become. His money was on the blazing if not ballistic one. Still, he couldn’t help being superior; he thought with a small sniff; it sort of came with the territory.
“Oi, John!” Donna shouted out to him. “Bunsen boy! Come here!”
Trying to hide his scowl of disgust at the moniker and the order, he deliberately sauntered over as slowly as he could. “Did you call me?” he innocently asked. Well, he aimed for innocence.
“Yes, I think I might have,” she replied, ignoring his play acting. “How do you fancy having some strange sexual yearnings? You can even have your own handcuffs if you like.”
“Uhm…” How the heck was he supposed to answer that one? “I’m not sure what you are getting at.”
She consulted her notes, leaning forward as she did so. “We’ve got a leather fetishist, a rubberist, a dominatrix and a man-baby; hmm, so I’d like you to…” Donna then looked up and clicked her fingers loudly at him, catching him right between the eyes. “Up here, Boob boy! The speaking part is up here!” Her fingers directed his gaze towards her face.
He jumped, startled by her action. “I know that,” he muttered defensively. Not that he’d been looking down the front of her outfit and caught sight of her very pleasing assets, mind you. It was only his nose that had been pointed in that direction.
“As I was saying,” she huffed, narked that he had tried it on with her, the lying toad. It was at this point that she changed her mind about the type of guest she wanted him to be, and a tiny part of her evil side peeked out. “I need some of your obvious expertise; for sex, specifically. I want you to come and sit down right by my side here, and I’d like you to be a sex therapist for me.”
He quickly adjusted his tie to cover his stunned reaction. “Shouldn’t we be talking about your sex life and sexual fantasies elsewhere? Somewhere a little more private,” he carefully enunciated, clicking his teeth shut.
That didn’t go down well. “Not me, you dimnoid! I’m talking about my guests!” she hastily clarified. “As if I’d tell you my sexual fantasies.” There was a slight pause before she murmured, “Not that I’ve got any to talk about.” Nor a sex life, but she wasn’t going to blurt that piece of information out in the middle of a television recording studio either.
“Aw, Donna; you can tell me anything you like,” he cheekily quipped. He added in a wink for good measure, just in case it worked in his favour. It usually did.
“I’ll be telling you your fortune, if you aren’t careful!” she threatened. Oops! He wouldn’t comply if she did that. “Will you do this for me? I need you to do some sex talk. Please?” she asked, changing her tone to pleading.
There was no way out of this as far as he could see, to his dismay. “I have to talk about sex?!” he squeaked. “I’m not sure I can do that.”
“Well, you are a doctor,” she pointed out unhelpfully. It was almost sarcastic. Okay, it was sarcastic.
“Of science; not medicine!” he exclaimed through gritted teeth. She couldn’t do this to him, surely she couldn’t? Why would he want to stand up and talk about sex, for goodness sake! Or sit down. Not that he was ignorant or anything; not by a long chalk. He knew all the scientific facts. More than that Dr Ruth woman…
“They aren’t to know that,” she reasoned, and he could tell he had lost the fight.
He sighed. “Alright,” he whined. “But don’t make me speak with a German accent.”
She quirked an amused eyebrow at him. “Nah! An Austrian one would do.” And then she laughed as he spluttered. “We’d better get you ready.”
Dave shouted out, “Can we have someone to mike him up, please?” An apprehensive man shot out with a tiny personal mike, and approached the Doctor. “We’ll have you sitting here,” Dave continued, talking to the Doctor and ignoring the soundman fussing about, whilst pointing to the seat next to Donna. “Another chair, please!” he shouted out, to god knows who, and then stepped back to stand beside a camera.
The Doctor tried to sit calmly in his appointed seat. It was surreal to have silent people pointing cameras at him. It was better than having guns or pointy sticks, he conceded. “I’ve not done this sort of thing before,” he confessed to Donna, whispering directly into her ear. “I’ve appeared on television, but not because I wanted to... More of a case of being wanted.”
He was willing to do this, for her? Really? Donna’s opinion of him grew in that moment. “Don’t worry,” she consoled him, placing a friendly hand on his knee. “I’ll be here to nudge you in the right direction and make sure things don’t get too bad.”
His eyes suddenly widened as a thought occurred to him. “They’re not going to fight, or start flashing their chests, are they? Like on Jerry Springer.” These people may have fetishes but he didn’t want to see them up close and personally.
“This is Britain, John; their stiff upper lips would probably get in the way. They may seem like weirdoes but they don’t do that. Not on my show they won’t,” she promised; and he started to relax a bit more.
“In five…,” Dave called out, and they both froze into a smile for the cameras.
When he counted down to one, Donna burst into her introductory speech, “Hello, I’m Donna Noble and welcome to the show. Today we will be talking about some of our darkest secrets. And yes, I’m talking about the bedroom and not some serial killing desire! Strangely enough I couldn’t find any major celebrity to come in and discuss this with me, so I’m none the wiser about what games Victoria and David Beckham play. Could be table tennis for all we know. But never mind; instead I have Dr John Smith, a renowned sex therapist that you may have seen on other programmes, to help discuss things and give his view. So without further ado, let’s bring on our first guests, Ryan and Nicky Patterson!”
The show didn’t go too badly, although at one point Donna had to hand her notes to the Doctor to use so that he could hide his embarrassed face behind them. There was just something about a woman wielding a whip that affected him.
“Do you prefer talcum powder or cream?” Donna asked the man-baby at one point; and the lurid explanation made the Doctor cringe for a few seconds. He liked to think of cream and lubricants in other, very different situations, thank you very much. “What do you make of all this, Doctor?” she suddenly asked him, and he fought desperately for a decent answer.
“Well…Vernon here obviously has a deep-seated need for nurturing,” he began; and didn’t really look back after that. In fact he had fun digging through his psychoanalytical memories. Although, in hindsight, he should have expected Donna’s very last question.
“And what about you, Doctor? Would you say your own personal fetish can stand up to our friend here in the rubber suit?” she questioned him.
Ooh, the minx! As if he would reveal what his fetish was. I mean, if he had a fetish. He certainly didn’t have any fetish to reveal: yes, that answer would do.
He sucked in air through his teeth very slowly, as he gazed out into the middle distance. “I don’t think so, Donna. I can look at all the ginger hair I like without gaining disapproval, but poor Philip can’t find a decent pair of handcuffs anywhere. I’m sure he gets a lot of negative reactions when he tries to buy some; although I tend to be given them,” he said, smiling as sweetly as he could. “It’s a peril of the job.”
Donna giggled appropriately and then swivelled in her chair towards camera. “I’m sure your patients hand over all sorts of things to you,” she remarked. “Thank you, Doctor. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a revelation having you here.” She then stood up to do the closing spiel before the end credits were rolled. “I’ve afraid that’s all we’ve got time for today, so I’d like to thank all my guests for allowing us into their lives and my good friend Dr John Smith for being so insightful. Next time I hope to be talking to Harrison Ford about his new film with Ben Stiller, and meeting a few other people along the way. Until then, bye everybody!”
Dave gave her the thumbs up from behind the camera.
She sat back down next to the Doctor before the credits ended, and whispered the query, “Ginger hair?”
“What about ginger hair?” he whispered back in confusion.
“You said your fetish was ginger hair,” she answered.
“Did I?” He feigned ignorance as he gazed back at her.
“Yes you did. Are you denying it now?” she asked him, fixing her beady eye on him.
He gulped nervously. “No, but I only said it because it was the first thing that came into my mind. I don’t have a fetish,” he explained.
“Of course you don’t,” she sarkily agreed. “Pull the other one, mate; it’s got bells on!”
He looked down at her legs, examining them thoroughly as he did so. It had to be said, she did have remarkable legs. For a brief moment he wondered how good she was at running. “You’ve got bells on? You’d never know.”
Inevitably she swatted his shoulder. “Stop being such a tart! You know what I mean.”
He smirked. “Ah, Donna. What you say and what you mean are two different things entirely. When you examine the semantics of…”
He didn’t finish because she swatted him again. “Get to the point, Beaker.”
Beaker! Beaker? She couldn’t be seriously calling him Beaker. Okay, he had a science lab, and his hair may stick up weirdly when he had a bad hair day (the horror); but he looked nothing like Beaker! “Erm…,” he squeaked. “It’s not a fetish, but I do like ginger hair; quite a lot,” he inadvertently admitted before his brain kicked in to stop him.
Dave saved his bacon at that moment by stepping forward to tell them the show had gone well. Donna talked over a few technical points with him, papers were shuffled about, and then they were directed towards hospitality.
It was just as Donna picked up a sandwich and was about to offer one to the Doctor when Bunty, the director, appeared practically fizzing with excitement.
“Darling!” she greeted Donna, and did those stupidly theatrical air kisses that hovering over the hair covering your ears. You know the ones. “You were divine! And you,” she continued, turning her enthusiastic attention onto the now munching Doctor, “you gorgeous man; you were superb.”
“Thank you,” he mumbled through a mouthful of ham and tomato sandwich.
Bunty then worried them both by throwing an arm around their shoulders, and tugged them closer into her embrace. “I was thinking; we need to get some promotional shots of the two of you together. Are you both up for that?”
“We’ve already posed for some, Bunty, before the recording,” Donna supplied the information. “Or were you thinking of something else?”
“Funny you should say that,” Bunty said with a sly grin. “We’ve decided to utilise a little of the programme.”
The Doctor managed to clear his throat and ask, “What part of the programme, if I may be so bold?”
Bunty flicked her eyes between the pair of them as she considered how best to word this. “The sex therapy aspect.”
Donna narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “I am not spanking his bare backside whilst he holds only a notepad and pen, before you ask.”
“I suppose I could hold the notepad though,” he offered without thinking.
Bunty patted his shoulder with glee. “That’s my boy,” she muttered.
“No, Bunty,” Donna protested. “You are not going to take advantage of his good nature.”
“What’s the matter, Donna? Frightened he is more willing than you think?” Bunty queried; a wicked gleam in her eye.
“Leave him alone! He’s new to all this and was only doing this for me,” Donna pointed out.
“If he isn’t here to help promote the programme, then why is he here?” Bunty tried to cajole her.
“I’m here to protect Donna,” the Doctor interrupted. “And I want to hear what the idea is first.”
A few minutes later, he cried out, “I am not doing that!”
“John…may I call you ‘John’, Dr Smith; we are all here to help Donna get the viewing figures she justly deserves after we have produced the perfect programme,” Bunty argued, focusing solely on him. “As I said, you were superb earlier. And now I need to ask a tiny little favour from you. All you have to do is hold a pencil. Honest, it isn’t much more than that.”
“Just a pencil?” he tried to confirm.
“Mmm hmm.” Bunty nodded. “Whereas Donna here will uphold her contractual duties.”
“You what?!” Donna stood dumbstruck. “I’m phoning my agent!” She then raced off to hold a private conversation with her agent for a couple of minutes in the corner of the room, only to reappear in front of them looking very miffed. “It would seem, Bunty, that I have to comply with all promotional photo shoots and trailers. I’m really sorry about this, John.” She threw him an apologetic smile and tried to look cute.
What was she playing at? “But this only affects Donna, right?”
“I thought you were staying right by her side,” Bunty pondered impishly.
It wasn’t too long before Donna joined the Doctor back on the studio floor, wearing a dressing gown. “What have you talked me into this time?” he growled at her in a low voice. “They’ve taken the shirt off my back, and pushed me into this thing!” ‘This thing’ being a long white coat.
Donna grimaced back at him. “Just be thankful that’s all they’ve done. There was talk of skimpy leather shorts for a while back there.” She was pleased to note him slightly blanching at the thought. “At least you’ve escaped this get up, so don’t start with the whining,” she threatened.
The photographer Bunty had hired, Martin, positioned himself in front of them having flashed the light meter about, next to their faces. “Ready to take it off, Donna?”
“Yeah,” she huffed , trying to be professional about all this. “And no looking, you,” she hissed to the Doctor as she grabbed hold of the ties at her waist and tugged off the gown decisively.
“Donna!” he gasped, but she was actively ignoring him as he was led to his marker; not that he was surprised in the circumstances in the slightest.
Donna stared into the video camera, in close up, and said sternly, “Got a little personal secret that needs airing?” She snapped a whip dramatically. “Join us in my next programme in order to find out how to reveal all.”
The camera pulled out to show Donna wearing a tight black corset, black stockings and extremely high heeled shoes. In her right hand she held a whip, and on her left hand was a black fingerless glove; her fist held against her hip. Around her throat was a black choker that doubled as a collar, attached to a long leather lead. On the other end of the lead was the Doctor, holding it possessively.
For his part, he was wearing a lab coat with a pencil tucked in the top pocket and, it would be truthful to say, it didn’t look as though he was wearing much else beyond trousers as he sat in a large chair, also black leather.
“It will be just what the doctor ordered,” she finished saying, in her best sexy voice; and the director arrived on the studio floor, clapping her hands in glee.
“Excellent, but I’d like you both to try a different position,” Bunty told them; having fun with their reactions to each other. This was going to look so good on screen! All their sexual tension was going to work wonders for their viewing figures.
Martin rearranged them, so that the Doctor was standing directly behind Donna with one hand on her right hip and the other hand holding a notepad.
Bunty indicated that they should start, so Donna went through the whole of the whipping script as before; but this time she had to look directly at the Doctor as she did the sexy voice.
“Nope, not embarrassing at all,” she sarcastically commented to only him when she had finished.
Bunty looked very pleased though. “Brilliant, Donna and John! Thank you so much!” she congratulated them. “We’ll be showing that during the break tomorrow night at Grosvenor House.”
The Doctor warily murmured to Donna, “What’s happening at Grosvenor House tomorrow?”
“It’s the awards ceremony,” she whispered back. “I’m up for the Best Daytime Programme award.”
“Do we have to go?” he asked, hoping the answer was ‘no’.
“Yes! There’s no way I can get out of it. Everyone will be there. It’ll be a black tie do,” she explained.
He felt his spirits sink even lower. To think he had thought he would be able to do this job completely undercover. At this rate he might as well rent out a billboard and paint himself with sparkly paint and still be less noticeable!
Seeing his mood fall, she joked, “At least we will be able to wear more clothing. You can be all Bond-like and I can stop getting a draught around my unmentionables.”
“Your unmentionables?” he queried, quirking an eyebrow.
“Shush! I said not to mention them,” she jested, and was delighted when he dissolved into laughter. After waiting for him to stop, she then impulsively kissed his cheek whilst saying, “Thank you for doing this; I know it’s above and beyond the call of duty, but I want you to know that I am extremely grateful you’ve made yourself look an idiot for me.”
The hand he placed around her waist was purely there to steady her attempts to stand on those atrociously dangerous high heels, he told himself. “That’s okay, Donna. I don’t normally get to have this sort of fun when investigating alien activity, so thank you for the erm…” He made the mistake of looking down at that point. “…The distraction.”
Donna pinked up and released her tentative hold on his shoulder. “Yes, well, I’d better go and get some clothes on… normal clothes, and we can go home, back to Sarah Jane’s. Or can I go home to my own place yet?”
“I don’t think we can consider risking that tonight,” he told her confidently. “In light of last night, we need to keep together as much as possible. And why are you looking at me so strangely?”
“Hands,” she revealed. “You’ve still not let go of me, again!”
“Oh! Yes! Of course,” he blustered, and removed his hold on her waist. “I’ll be waiting for you as erm… you change.” He really didn’t want to think about what that changing process involved, especially where the corset was involved. Heavily involved, he assumed; what with all those hooks and eyes, the ribbons and the whalebone confining her body so that every breath caused her flesh to rise in swells above the black lace. Not that he had noticed anything. Nor had he noticed her pale flesh that marked where the corset ended and the black stockings began. And he had definitely not noticed how those high heels caused the muscle in her calf to tense and throw such a delectable silhouette. No he hadn’t. Goodness only knew what had happened to his attention today. It had probably gone away with those foraging alien lights.
“I won’t be long,” she trilled. “And don’t forget to get your shirt back. Somebody will steal it as a souvenir otherwise, if you take your eyes off it.” She then deliberately teased him by gliding a finger along the part of his naked collar bone that wasn’t properly covered. “We can’t have you driving women wild, can we?” Throwing him a small smirk, she slipped on her dressing gown and almost skipped away in triumph. That’d teach him to publically paw her when he had a girlfriend, she thought.
He stood for several seconds watching her go, wondering what had just hit him as the warmth from her finger stayed fresh upon his skin. After that he realised what a berk he was being, and hastily followed to guard her door. Well, he was supposed to be protecting her, wasn’t he, and not standing around like an extra from Madam Tussauds.
Cautiously the door to Donna’s dressing room opened, and she peeked out. She sighed when she spotted him standing there like a Christmas tree ornament in October. “John, I know you are conscious of doing a wonderful job, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but…”
“You want me to walk away and leave you alone,” he wisely guessed; and was rewarded with an eager nod. “I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“Why ever not? Look!” She stood aside to widened the width the door was open in demonstration, emphasising her words. “No killer aliens, no tell-tale blood stains, no threatening letters from the outer space equivalent of Professor Moriarty held together with paperclips; not even a sniffle.”
“You’re also not wearing many clothes,” he pointed out as he politely averted his gaze. “Unless that attire counts as fashionable?”
“No, it counts as suitable for a promo, you doughnut! I haven’t got out of it yet,” she admitted. Lord give her strength! “You were itching to take it off a minute ago.”
“I was merely considering the structural engineering of it, and nothing more,” he defended himself.
A disbelieving glare was shot back at him. “Structural engineering? Fine! I’ll buy that. You’d better come in and help me with my escape plan,” she announced; and he found himself entering the room.
Donna stood with her arms firmly crossed in front of her chest, legs astride, looking very dominant, he noted to himself. It was certainly a very powerful image; and almost made his eyes water.
“Well?” she demanded expectantly. “You obviously had a plan when you walked in here.”
Momentarily distracted by her movement slightly towards him, he found himself staring into her accusing eyes. “I always have a plan, eventually. I just don’t always have it to hand, so I’d breast be getting on with it.”
“Breast?!” she queried, her nostrils flaring. In a quite delicious manner, he also added to his mental notes.
“Pardon?” He stood clearly puzzled before her.
“You used the word ‘breast’,” she pointed out when he remained unusually silent for him. Good grief, the man could enter the Talking Olympics when he found a decent theory to explain!
“Did I? I think you are mistaken. Now,” he announced and clapped his hands. “Let’s get to work on those hooks and eyes, shall we.”
She obediently turned and presented her back to him. Perhaps that was a mistake, because those long fingers of his fluttered across her skin in delicate sweeps without quite tickling but certainly sensitising her nerve endings. And the feel of his cool breath was doing things to her that she’d rather not mention in their current circumstances. In an attempt to bring her body into line, she jiggled her hips and retained her stance.
For the Doctor it was having equal and resonating responses. As each clasp came undone he found himself unable to stop himself from gently caressing her soft freckled skin. How many freckles did she have exactly? What sort of patterns did they make? And what would they taste like if he applied his tongue where his fingertips were? No, it wouldn’t do to have those sorts of thoughts near her; after all, she had a whip close by and knew how to use it.
And then she moved her hips, causing her bottom to lightly brush his body. His fingers slightly stumbled when he found another reaction that made the licking thought seem tame in comparison. Using an ancient Gallifreyan chant, he hummed to gain self-control.
The musical notes made her want to ask if this was some weird type of serenading. Donna was brought out of her own unwanted thoughts to wonder, “Are you sure you know what you are doing? I can’t say that I’ve seen hooks and eyes turn up in the science fiction films I’ve seen.”
“Who’s to say aliens don’t have a number of methods to fasten items together, Donna? You’re being very Earth centric in your thinking,” he commented.
“And you’re being very loquacious, but I wasn’t going to point it out,” she responded tartly.
“Found a dictionary, have we?” he teased; and was instantly swatted on the leg for his cheek. “Hey! I’m doing you a favour here,” he griped.
She sighed in exasperation. “Get on with it then! I’ll be giving you a black eye in a minute if you don’t button it.”
He was about to contradict her by saying buttons were not involved when they were interrupted.
The dressing room door opened at that moment, a young woman holding a clothing item in a long plastic wrapper stepped in backwards and breezily proclaimed, “Here I am, Donna. Won’t be a minute then I’ll have you out of…” She had turned and spotted the Doctor almost holding the two halves of the corset around a very bare Donna. Two more hooks and eyes and the garment would have been off. “Oh! You’ve got company,” she stated, staggering with an embarrassed air as she took in the scene before her. “Sorry! I’ll come back for your things later.”
She stood totally flummoxed as the Doctor didn’t risk moving a muscle; although he did allow his thumbs to continue to stroke Donna’s back very lightly. “Hello, I’m the Doctor,” he introduced himself as brightly as possible.
“I’m Tina; nice to meet you. You must be the John Smith I’ve heard of; but you’re not what I expected. I’ll erm… leave you two to it then,” she stated, and began to slowly retreat from the room.
“Tina, it isn’t like that,” Donna tried to argue, but Tina was quickly disappearing out of the room. In next to no time the door shut and they were back to being alone together. Donna blew out a breath. “That was awkward. Tell me, John; do you always have that effect on women?”
“You mean the whole blushing and stammering routine? I can’t say I do. But then again, I’m not normally standing holding a corset,” he mused. Not that he was having fun standing there deliberately holding her close far longer than was necessary.
“Yeah, that might have something to do with it,” she agreed, smiling with amusement. “Talking of which, have you finished yet?”
He did his best vague expression. “Finished what?”
“Undoing me, you prawn!” Oh blimey! That had a double meaning; one that needed drastically hiding.
“Oh that!” He flashed her his winning smile. “Yes, I’ve finished that, but I was waiting for further instructions”
“Like what? Rinse well and then spin?” She briefly glared at him over her shoulder. “Idiot!”
“Well, I don’t know!” he cried and immediately released his hold of the garment.
There was a shriek of surprise, and then Donna was suddenly clasping her hands over her bare chest. “What the hell are you playing at?! You could have warned me!”
“I thought I had, since I had stated that I had finished!” He glared back at her reflection in the mirror in front of them. There was no way in hell he was going to admit at this point in time what exactly he had seen in the milliseconds after he had let go; that was for later consumption. “I didn’t know I had to provide further clues.”
“You…. You… Get out!” she shouted.
“So you don’t want me to pass you your bra?” he wondered, flicking his gaze to where a neat stack of clothing sat.
She almost raised an angry hand to point to the door, but she caught the action just in time to save herself even more embarrassment. In a rage now, she yelled, “OUT!”
Fortunately he had the good sense to get out of range, and hurled himself through the door; once he had opened it, of course. There was then a sharp click as Donna obviously locked the door behind him.
Standing there, catching his breath, he tried to logically think about what had just happened. What was the matter with him? What was he playing at? Since when did he try to lay his hands on scantily clad women? Since when did he succeed? This wasn’t him at all! Perhaps he ought to get the TARDIS to run a scan on himself? There could be a parasite involved, contorting his behaviour. Who’s to say that he hadn’t picked up something when he had ran into Sarah Jane’s garden the night before. Or it could have come from the tea Donna had made him after those aliens had hypnotised her.
As he stood checking and assessing his body, even more outlandish thoughts occurred to him. What if Jack had somehow placed a parasite into his body? Nah! He’d have felt the effect during his time with Rose, and he certainly hadn’t. Although it would explain the whole affair with Reinette…
“You’d better not be standing there!” roared through the door in his direction. Deciding to cut his losses, he went in search of his shirt; and not because Donna had ordered him away. That had nothing to do with it. He was purely fed up with wearing the lab coat. With a comforting sniff, he sauntered off to find his missing shirt.
Sarah Jane was sipping her tea an hour or so later when the first trailer appeared during the Paul O’Grady programme commercial break. Although it quickly stopped being sipping and rampantly became spitting as she tried not to choke to death.
Heavy footsteps came from outside and then Luke rushed in to ask, “Are you alright, Mum?”
“I think so,” she replied, still coughing. “Rewind that, please. I think I saw the Doctor on TV.”
“Really?” Luke obediently picked up the TV remote and rewound the scene back a minute or two. He then pressed the play button.
The TV boomed out, “Hello! Why not join me and my special guests this week and hear about a few of our secrets? That’s me, Donna, at 8 o’clock on Thursday night; repeated Friday afternoon on ITV 2.” The camera held on Donna for a second and then the camera panned out to show some people sitting on chairs.
“There he is!” yelled Sarah Jane as she pointed at the screen, and the pause button was pressed.
“What’s he doing on there?” Luke asked her eagerly as he got nearer to the screen to peer at it closely.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I thought he had only gone with her to the studio. We’ll have to ask him when they get in.”
Luke grinned at her, suddenly excited. “I still can’t believe that Donna Noble has been staying in our house! Why didn’t you phone and tell me? I’d have come home earlier if you had said.”
“And let you miss out on some fun with Clive for a change? I don’t think so. Also, I didn’t want to risk anyone knowing she was here, just in case the press got in the way,” Sarah Jane explained. “It could be dangerous for all of us.”
“That’s true,” he conceded. “So what are we cooking for the famous Donna Noble tonight? Can I sit next to her?”
“We are doing pizza and salad; and yes, you can sit next to her. I’m sure the Doctor won’t mind.” Sarah Jane then thought to add, “She isn’t any different to you and me, you know.”
“I know,” Luke replied breezily. “But it’s not every day you get to sit down and eat with the Doctor and Donna Noble!”
Sarah Jane giggled. “Be careful how you say that. It almost sounds like they are married,” she jested. “He hates anything remotely domestic.”
Luke peeped around the door as he went to leave. “Are you sure about that? There isn’t much that isn’t more domestic than sitting eating dinner with us,” he pondered.
“Oh, there is,” she said to herself, since Luke had disappeared, heading back towards his bedroom. Not much, mind you. Who’d have thought the Doctor would allow himself to stay with one person like this.
A few minutes later the front door bell rang. “I’ll get it!” Luke shouted out, and raced to open the door; full of excitement. He threw the door wide in greeting when he saw who was standing there.
“Hello, you made it safely home then,” the Doctor greeted him, and offered a hand. He indicated towards the woman standing next to him. “Donna, this is Luke.” With a courteous wave, he waited for Donna to enter first.
She stepped forward and took Luke’s hand too. “Hello, Luke. Lovely to meet you,” she said, and entered the hallway. Despite her curiosity as to who Luke was, she kept politely quiet. Instead she waited for the Doctor to say more about who she assumed was his son; although it puzzled her that he hadn’t said a word about him before they had entered the house. It also made her realise that he hadn’t mentioned the mother...
The lad stood awkwardly watching them, obviously not knowing what to do next, so the Doctor reached up to help Donna out of her coat. “Here, let me help you with that.”
Biting back a comment on ‘helpful’ he was feeling today, she gratefully allowed him to do so. “Where is Sarah Jane?” she asked when no information was offered.
Luke jumped back to life. “Oh! She’s in the living room. Come through.” He ushered them into the warmth of the house.
What if their first meeting had gone slightly differently? The Doctor has to stick around to protect Donna Noble from an alien threat. Or is he the alien under threat? He’ll soon find out.
Sarah Jane immediately stood up to greet them, and there were hugs all round. “How did it go today?” she asked.
“Not bad,” Donna answered.
At the same time the Doctor replied, “It was interesting.” He then picked up a newspaper off a seat and sat himself down with a weary sigh.
Noticing this, Sarah Jane requested, “Luke, go and make us some tea, please.” And then she turned her attention back to her guests. “I hope you don’t mind pizza and salad for dinner.”
“No, that’s fine,” Donna reassured her. “I’ll come and help,” she offered, standing from her own seat.
“No, you’re a guest. Just sit yourself down and Luke will help me,” Sarah Jane answered. She then took off towards the kitchen.
Gazing around the otherwise empty room, Donna frowned at the Doctor. “Oi, Beaker! John, why aren’t you helping?” she hissed across to him as he sat reading a newspaper in the armchair.
He lowered the paper to peer imperiously at her over the top. “Because I don’t do domestic,” he replied.
Her hand shot out, landing on the top edge of the newspaper, and she had to use all of her control to not shred it to pieces. “You don’t do domestic?! How wizard for you! It’s a good job food comes ready prepared in little blue capsules…Oh no! It doesn’t! Some poor sod has to prepare it all and cook it. Someone like Sarah Jane.”
He merely glared back at her, determined not to rise to the bait. “If you can call it cooking,” he scoffed. “I’ve tasted her offerings plenty of times in the past and I’d rather take the blue capsules, thank you very much.”
Donna drew in a gasp of shock. How could he say that about his mother’s cooking? Throwing a cautious glance towards the kitchen, she started an angry tirade. “I can’t believe you just said that!”
He completely lowered the newspaper this time. “Why? Why would I lie about something as serious as food?” he asked incredulously.
“I’m beginning to wonder a lot of things about you,” she reluctantly admitted. “Like why Sarah Jane didn’t suffocate you at birth.”
What? Why was she going on and on about Sarah Jane and her cooking? Good grief, he had suffered weeks of her attempts when they were both younger and travelled together before they had mutually agreed she would never bother creating a meal from scratch for them ever again. Unless this attack from Donna was some sort of deluded action that came from a sense of strong friendship and loyalty? Yes, that would explain it. “It’s okay, she knows how I feel about her efforts,” he tried to appease her.
Righteous indignation rose up within her. “Ain’t you charming,” Donna sarcastically commented. “Remind me to never cook for you.”
“Okay, if you want me to,” he replied; and spent the next ten minutes silently wondering why she was so annoyed with him. Did that mean he was never going to get a decent meal around there? And he’d heard such good things about Donna’s cooking as well.
Luke practically pounced on Donna as they entered Sarah Jane’s dining room, gleefully showing her to a possible seat at the table. The Doctor felt a bit narked that he hadn’t been greeted with the same enthusiasm; he had done the other night before Donna turned up.
“Come and sit next to me, Donna,” Luke invited her, and then proceeded to usher her into the seat in the corner, pulling out the chair in an exaggerated declaration of politeness.
Donna wanted to giggle at his inexpert action, but held it in. It wouldn’t do to quash such potential gentlemanliness. “Thank you, Luke.” She graced him with a beaming smile.
She noted that the Doctor was grinning with amusement as he deliberately sat himself opposite her, and smiled back until she felt his leg wedge itself against hers. The nerve! Wasn’t there enough room under the table for his Bambi-like limbs? She shoved his foot and then turned her attention onto the exuberant Luke.
“What’s it like having your own TV show?” he asked; although there were obviously lots of questions swirling around in his mind.
“Pretty good, most of the time; the rest of the time it’s brilliant,” she pleasantly answered, struggling to ignore the power struggle underneath the table. She’d be damned if she moved her foot away and let him intimidate her. “I’ve had ordinary jobs and this one is by far the best I’ve ever had.”
Excitement came off Luke in waves. “Who would you say has been your best guest so far, and who is the most famous person you have interviewed?” he asked eagerly.
“Oh, that would be telling,” Donna teased. “But everyone I’ve met has been lovely, although a certain Daniel Craig was outstanding.”
“You didn’t?!” Sarah Jane gasped out as she sat down with them. Her face then took on a dreamy expression.
“Who?” the Doctor demanded to know.
“James Bond, you prawn!” Donna answered his query. “Don’t pretend you don’t know who I mean.” She then continued talking to Sarah Jane. “He’s such a gorgeous bloke. If he weren’t taken I’d have thrown my cap at him.”
The Doctor regarded her head. “I thought only old men or schoolboys wore caps.”
“Where have you been living?” she mocked him. “Lots of people wear caps these days; although lots of celebrities wear them in order to hide behind,” she added the last part to Luke. “They work almost as well as Batman’s mask.”
“Have you got a cap then, Donna?” Luke wondered. “It would be a shame to hide your hair.”
Donna playfully caressed his arm. “Aw, ain’t you sweet saying that!” She then caught the Doctor glaring at her hand as it rested on Luke’s arm, and quickly released her hold on him. You don’t want a parent suspecting your motives after all. “I haven’t got a cap as such; instead I’ve got this hat I wear at times,” she added.
“I’ve seen photos of you like that, in the paper,” Luke offered, and then self-consciously blushed. “Mum sometimes points them out to me.”
Ah, here was her chance to find out more information. Donna quickly asked, “Does your mum like me much?”
Luke glanced briefly towards Sarah Jane. “Yes, quite a lot. We love your show.”
“Thank you,” Donna said with deep sincerity. “I’m not sure if you should watch today’s recording or not, but it’s lovely to know that you both enjoy the show.”
“Can I come with you and see one day? I’ve never been in a studio,” he pleaded.
“Luke, leave Donna alone to eat her meal,” Sarah Jane intercepted. “She’s hardly had a chance to eat anything.”
“That’s okay,” Donna commented, smiling reassuringly at Sarah Jane. “It’s always nice to meet a fan.” She then turned her attention back to Luke, having noted the Doctor had already finished his meal. Where did the man put it all? “I don’t see why you can’t come along to a recording, as long as your mum says it’s okay,” she hedged her bets. “I have another recording to do the day after tomorrow.”
Luke threw an expectant plea in Sarah Jane’s direction. She sighed in exasperation. “Have you finished all your homework?”
“Of course,” he answered smugly. “All of this term’s pre-set stuff, and everything else has been organised into my schedule.”
“Do you mind if he comes with us, Butter fingers?” Donna suddenly asked the Doctor across the table. She felt it best that Luke’s father rather his grandmother made the decision.
“Butter fingers?” Luke immediately queried.
She giggled. “He has this habit of dropping things,” she explained offhandly. “Well? Is he allowed to come?”
The Doctor considered this question carefully. “I think it best that he doesn’t until we work out why you have been targeted. And for the record, I don’t drop things, I release them. There is a difference.”
There was a snort of disagreement. “Depends what side of that ‘release’ you are, Sunshine. But we won’t talk about that here.”
“Did something happen today?” Sarah Jane asked, spotting a good story when it was hinted at.
Donna waved her knife about vaguely as she continued to chew. “Yes, but nothing extra-terrestrial.”
The Doctor almost voiced his protest that he was extra-terrestrial, but held it in. “All I did was stay by Donna’s side and do as she asked,” he said with a pout.
“You got told off then,” Sarah Jane remarked, knowingly.
“I did not!” he disagreed. “I was… sort of… yes, I got told off.”
Luke giggled, clamping his hand over his mouth to hold in his mirth; whilst Donna smirked and carried on eating. When Sarah Jane stood to start collecting the plates, Donna insisted, “Leave them, Sarah Jane. John and I will do the washing up.”
“Will we?” He stared at her impudence.
“Yes we will, Bunsen boy. You get off too lightly around here,” Donna told him. “You can’t leave your mum and son to do everything.”
“Whoa! What’s this about ‘mum and son’?” he quizzed her as Sarah Jane and Luke sat stunned.
Donna rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Your mother…” She pointed to Sarah Jane. “..And your son.” She then pointed to Luke. Spotting the incredulous look on their faces, she then amended it to, “That’s right, isn’t it? Or have I misread something?” Obviously someone was on the brink of losing it. Was it her or them?
“He is not my son! Luke is!” Sarah Jane exploded.
The Doctor started laughing softly to her side. “You’re going to love this, Sarah Jane. Donna seems to think that I’m your son. And not only that, but my third self is my father!” His laughter then turned more throaty.
“You thought he’s my son?!” Sarah Jane queried; gobsmacked that Donna should think such a thing. “My son!”
“It was an honest mistake,” Donna tried to defend herself. “You said… and…”
“You think he’s my dad?” Luke managed to ask. “Wow!”
“I thought…,” Donna stuttered out lamely. “Since you are…”
“My son!” Sarah Jane said yet again. “Why did you think the Doctor was my son?!”
Donna shrugged, in the self-conscious way that teenagers often do. “He’s got the same colouring as you, he looked a bit like the old bloke in your photo upstairs, and you said you had a clever son.”
“I was talking about Luke. He is my exceptionally clever son! And the man you refer to as ‘old bloke’ is the Doctor,” Sarah Jane replied huffily.
“How…?” Donna swept her gaze between the two of them.
The Doctor reached across and took hold of her hand in his, now no longer just amused but also concerned. “I’m sorry, Donna, but I thought you knew that I travelled with Sarah Jane as my companion many years ago. I don’t just investigate aliens and help humans.”
The phrasing made her brain whirl. “What? You help humans… You’re saying you’re an alien too?” When he nodded, she added, “What sort of alien?”
“I’m a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey,” he supplied.
“So it’s not your lot that have been tormenting me?” she wondered.
“No, nothing to do with me,” he answered.
“Oh,” she merely said, deep in shock and thought. “I’ve put my foot in it good and proper, haven’t I? I’m sorry Sarah Jane. Sorry, Luke. I put two and two together and made five.”
“I suppose I can understand how you got this all wrong,” admitted Sarah Jane, somewhat reluctantly.
“I think it’s cool you think the Doctor is my dad,” added Luke. The compliment was all too evident in his expression. “But it’s just Mum and me.”
“Then who…?” Donna started to ask.
“Luke has no parents, so I adopted him,” Sarah Jane explained.
“I’m so sorry. I erm… I think I’d better start on the washing up,” Donna announced, and stood up to hide her embarrassment.
“I’ll help you,” the Doctor stated, much to Sarah Jane’s surprise; and he collected plates and dishes to carry to the kitchen.
What if their first meeting had gone slightly differently? The Doctor has to stick around to protect Donna Noble from an alien threat. Or is he the alien under threat? He’ll soon find out.
Donna smiled conspiratorially at the Doctor as he appeared in the kitchen with the rest of the dirty plates, pleased that he had made the effort to help Sarah Jane with something he had described as ‘domestic’ earlier in the day.
He placed the items on the draining board and announced, “I’ll wash if you’ll dry.” As if to say the matter was settled, he flung his jacket over the back of a chair and proceeded to roll up his shirt sleeves.
She watched the progress of his hairy arms slowly appearing. “Okay,” she immediately agreed to his announcement; somewhat subdued. She went to say something else but Sarah Jane appeared with some items from the dining table to put away in various cupboards. So Donna snatched up a dry cloth.
“Is everything alright?” Sarah Jane asked the pair of them as the Doctor agitated some Fairy Liquid in the bowl in front of him and Donna stood hesitantly by with a tea towel in her hands.
“Fine; we’re both fine,” he answered. “Go and sit down for a while and we’ll bring you through some tea when we’ve finished,” he promised.
“That would be lovely,” she encouraged them, giving them both a friendly smile, and then left the kitchen.
As soon as they were alone and his hands were deep in hot soapy water, Donna went to verbally attack him.
“Why didn’t you tell me the truth instead of letting me carry on thinking Sarah Jane is your mum?” she demanded to know in a low, strained voice.
He contemplated how much damage Donna could wield with the tea towel she was holding. Not as much as the plate she was currently drying up. “I didn’t know you would carry on thinking that. I thought having me laugh at the mention of it would have been a big clue that it wasn’t true,” he bit back.
“Oh, you’re saying that now, but at the time you just…” She didn’t know how to finish that line of thought, because it struck her how illogical it was.
“You wanted to believe she is my mother,” he pondered.
“Well, it fit, didn’t it? She goes on and on about her wonderful son, I come here, you turn up all whatshername and I naturally assumed. I didn’t even know the name of her son before that, how old he is, nothing,” she admitted; and gave another shrug. “I’m just an idiot.”
Her bitter declaration wasn’t lost on him. “Oh Donna, don’t put yourself down like that,” he crooned, and placed a wet hand on her upper arm in consolation.
“But I am!” she protested tearfully. “I’ve made Sarah Jane into a mother and grandmother all in one go, and you a single parent. With all the recent business about the outer space buzz flies I never even thought to ask how you know what you do about aliens.”
“Come here,” he softly ordered, and wrapped his arms around her to give a comforting hug. “It’s impossible to know everything. Well, almost impossible. Highly unlikely at the very least.”
There was a sniffle and a faint giggle in reply against his chest. “Daft Martian,” she murmured.
He used a single finger to lift up her chin so that he could see her face. “I’m not from Mars,” he softly stated.
“Whatever,” she replied, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
Oh he wanted to kiss her in that second! All it would take was a forward movement of a few centimetres; nothing more. Just a press of lips, that’s all he wanted. Okay, perhaps it was a bit more than that; but a tender kiss would be a good start.
He was moving in on her, Donna was well aware of that. She’d been in a similar situation before to know all the signs. Except this bloke wasn’t available; wasn’t even human, if you wanted to drag that fact into it, not that she cared.
“I am every inch a Time Lord,” he muttered.
“Time Lord,” she repeated, testing the name on her tongue. “In that case, is it legal for you to have a human girlfriend?” she then thought to ask as a means to stop him.
He frowned in confusion. “What makes you ask that?”
She threw a cautious glance towards wherever Sarah Jane was in the house. “Because you have a girlfriend,” she replied, stating the obvious. “I think her is name is Rose...?”
It was his turn to splutter that evening. Where had she got her information from? Well, Sarah Jane, presumably. Not that he was pleased that they had been discussing him and his possible love life. He then stiffened momentarily. “She was my friend, not my girlfriend. We travelled together until recently and then I lost her.”
The words and action confirmed all that Donna had assumed about the relationship, so she pushed him away to put herself out of harm’s way. “I’m sorry,” she ambiguously acknowledged his pain. “Perhaps you’ll find her one day. I hope you do.”
What? She was easing herself away from him, away from his embrace and making polite platitudes. What had he said? Had he blown it? Was this it? “Donna,” he started to say, but she was already turning away, switching herself off from his advances, rejecting him.
“I’ll make that tea, shall I?” she brightly asked, ignoring the slight plea in his voice.
Except he knew she didn’t feel bright at all; she certainly hadn’t a few seconds ago but she was bravely pretending that she did. He reached out for her again, wanting to take her within his arms, but they were both startled by the kitchen door being thrown open.
“Mum said to come and help with the tea,” Luke told them as he bound into the room. “We’ve got some biscuits somewhere, if you like, Donna.” He beamed at her expectantly.
“Oh yes, of course,” she readily answered, moving to his side. “And then you must show me what you’ve been doing lately. I’m sure a genius like you has a project on the go.”
“You want to see my stuff? Really?!” Luke stood incredulously before them, glowing with the attention. “I’d love to show you! I’ve got this thing…” And he chatted on for a good ten minutes or so.
“And you thought only you could babble on like this,” Donna whispered to the Doctor at one point whilst Luke paused to draw breath.
The Doctor merely smiled back in what he hoped was a genial way. But he wasn’t feeling genial; far from it. Given half a chance he would have thrown Luke Smith and his interfering science project out the nearest window; but that would have been churlish, and he didn’t do churlish. Well, not normally, only sometimes when he was particularly vexed. Like he was that evening in fact… okay, maybe he was behaving slightly rudely. He was sure it didn’t show, too much.
Or so he thought, until he caught Sarah Jane regarding him with a frown of her own. “Got a problem with my son, Doctor?” she asked as sweetly as she could.
There was a small rub of the back of his neck as he answered, “No, I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure?” she wondered as she leant nearer to him. “Only Luke seemed very keen to monopolise Donna straight after dinner, and she didn’t act as though she was against the idea.”
“She’s just being polite,” he argued. “That’s her all over; she’s a people person, taking an interest in everyone. It’s one of her positive traits.”
Sarah Jane raised an inquisitive eyebrow at him. “You talk as though you know her very well,” she commented.
“Oh, you know,” he bashfully replied. “I’ve seen lots, I mean, got to know her quite well these last two days, spending so much time together.”
“What do you mean ‘seen lots’?” she queried.
But the Doctor was determined not to answer that one. “I’d love to see what you’ve done so far,” he suddenly proclaimed to Luke, and the boy visibly inflated with pride.
“You would? I’ll show you, if you like,” Luke encouraged them, standing up to guide them to his room. “I was hoping you’d want to have a look.”
Sarah Jane couldn’t believe how accommodating the Doctor could be in order to avoid a few questions. Anybody would think he had something to hide; and that ‘anybody’ would assume it had something to do with a certain famous redhead. Strange that.
Donna had just changed into her nightgown when there was a cautious rap on her bedroom door. Half guessing who it was, she partially hid as she opened the door, and smirked when it was the Doctor standing there. “Yes?”
He unapologetically pushed his way in, and then just stood there like a numpty. “I came,” he said.
“So I see,” she commented. “Am I allowed to know why you’ve walked into my bedroom at this time of night?”
He considered that question. “I suppose so.”
“And?” she encouraged him. “Am I going to find out before I freeze to death out here or die of old age?”
“You’re not that old,” he scornfully remarked before logic told him not to.
Donna inevitably hit him on the arm. “Don’t come it! If I had wanted cheap shots from someone I’d have gone to my mother’s.”
The Doctor made a fuss of rubbing his offended arm, scowling at her whilst he did so. “I came to see you.”
“I sort of guessed that,” she pointed out. She sighed in exasperation when he didn’t offer a further answer. “I think we ought to go to bed,” she stated and started to head towards her bed. She immediately stopped in her tracks when she realised that he was following her. “I meant in our own beds, separately, like in ‘not together’,” she carefully said.
“I know you meant that,” he hastily retorted. “But the thing is, Donna, I should really be in here, with you.”
“Not this argument again!” she cried, throwing her hands up. “They won’t...”
A large object thumped against the glass of the window at that precise moment, causing her to almost jump into his arms in fright.
“Okay, they will,” she amended. “Now, what are you going to do about it?”
He beamed at her in delight. “Go and ask some questions, of course!”
“Trust you to enjoy this,” she drily commented when he raced to the window. “What should I do now?”
The Doctor patted the mattress beside him as he sat down. “Now all we do is wait,” he declared, having waved his blue stick thing about for a bit.
“Isn’t that wizard,” she remarked, and sat down next to him as they prepared to wait in silence.
She didn’t remember much after that. There was a vague memory of being held and then laid down, of being surrounded by warmth, but beyond that there wasn’t much to recommend it.
Soft early morning light surrounded Sarah Jane as she appeared at the foot of the bed, clasping a newspaper tightly within her hands.
“What’s up?” Donna asked groggily as she emerged from beneath the covers.
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” Sarah Jane began, “so perhaps it’s best that I get it over and done with, and just show you.”
“Show me what?” Donna sat up and accepted the paper that was being offered to her.
“Page ten,” Sarah Jane helpfully suggested.
So Donna desperately thumbed through until she reached page ten. A loud disbelieving shriek rang out as she viewed the large photograph and the smaller one underneath. “They can’t do this,” she breathily declared.
“They obviously can,” Sarah Jane disagreed. “I’m so sorry, Donna.”
“What’s all the noise for?” the Doctor tetchily demanded as he came up for air. “I was sound-o then.”
Two stunned faces stared back at him before the voice of Donna hit him seconds after her hand did. “What the bloody hell are you doing in my bed?!”
“What do you think I’m doing? I’m sleeping, of course,” he answered nonchalantly. “That’s what beds are made for.”
Donna was not amused! “I’m talking about you being in my bed, you bloody idiot!”
“So it’s true,” Sarah Jane stated, deep in thought. “And I thought you never would lower yourself.”
“What are you both talking about?! I haven’t done anything wrong apart from fall asleep before I could get to my own bed,” he told them sternly. “Tell her, Donna, how we sat and waited for the aliens to come back last night. What is all the fuss about?”
Donna shrugged in agreement. “Well, we did sort of sit here and wait; that’s true. But I never let him sleep in here.” She then thumped him again. Hard. “This really isn’t on, Martian.”
“Are you saying you don’t remember how we got here either?” he asked Donna.
“That’s right; focus on the least important aspect of this scenario,” she scoffed sarcastically. “Oh no, this isn’t embarrassing in the slightest, finding yourself in bed with a strange man.”
“I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve… Ouch! That really hurts!” He rubbed his arm again, scowling at her as he did so. “Do you have to keeping hitting me?!”
“I dunno. Do you have to keep being such a tart?” she retorted.
“Surely the point is why you both fell asleep like you did,” Luke sauntered in to mention, munching on a piece of toast as he entered the room. “Those aliens obviously knocked you out or hypnotised you both. Now why would they bother doing that?”
“Ooh, well done!” the Doctor encouraged Luke’s thinking enthusiastically. “Now where did I put my sonic screwdriver…?” He swept his hands underneath the bed covers over the mattress beside him, until he squeaked loudly and shot off the bed.
Donna gritted her teeth as she told him, “Wherever it is, I don’t think you’ll find it there, Martian!”
“Where did he touch you, Donna?” Luke immediately asked, creeping closer.
“Never you mind,” Donna huffed indignantly, wondering how she could get him back for touching up her bum, and pulled the covers tightly around her body. “If you could all leave so that I can get dressed, please,” she questioned the room in a strained voice.
“Oh! Of course!” Sarah Jane cried out, and instantly ushered Luke back out of the room. “I’ll have breakfast ready for you in a couple of minutes. I’ll see you then.” With a bright smile she was gone.
Donna sighed in relief. Good! One problem dealt with. And then she noticed the Doctor peering at her over the edge of the bed, looking like a drunk hamster. “You still here?!”
“Apparently,” he replied, and climbed up onto the mattress. “There is one thing you didn’t explain,” he commented.
“Didn’t I? Which thing is that?” she wondered, eyeing him warily as he positioned himself on the duvet.
“Today’s newspaper,” he supplied. “Why did it upset you so?”
“Oh that!” She had clean forgotten about that piece of tosh. The mere thought made her go a rather fetching bright pink, the Doctor decided. “I got snapped by the paparazzi.”
“Really? Can I see?” he asked, reaching out for the newspaper that still sat on top of the bed.
Her hand shot out and landed on his as it eased the newspaper nearer. “I’d better warn you… it isn’t just me. They also photographed me with someone else. Someone who is you.”
“Me?!” His eyebrows almost disappeared up in his hairline in a bid to display his surprise. “Why did they include me?”
“You’d better look,” she said resignedly. She took the newspaper from his grasp and opened it up to the relevant page.
There, in one large picture, was the two of them leaving the studio, and the caption “Mystery new lover seen with daytime queen Donna Noble” In the smaller picture he was helping her into a car. Within the article text, a person ‘close to the couple’ stated that they were ‘acting over friendly’, were ‘extremely in love’ and had ‘spent every available second together’ recently.
“What does this mean?” he enquired as he gazed at her in confusion. “What close person? Where did they get all this from?”
“It would seem, Dr John Smith, that you and I are now an established item, according to this paper’s sources; and I suspect a certain TV director is responsible for that snippet of misdirection,” she answered honestly. “Isn’t that wizard?!”
“Utterly fantastic,” he agreed sarcastically. “Unless you fancy making it slightly true?” he risked asking with a playful waggle of his eyebrows.
Inevitably she thumped him.
“How will all this affect you, Donna,” Sarah Jane wondered later as all three adults sat drinking their breakfast tea in the kitchen.
“I’ve yet to find out. Normally the newspapers couldn’t care less about me and chase after younger women.” Donna sighed. “But then again I’m not normally with a bloke. I suppose I’ll have loads of unwanted attention tonight when we go to the awards ceremony. Oh great. Just what I need when I lose to Cash In The Attic.”
“Can’t you use it to your advantage,” suggested the Doctor. “I’m sure you can think of a way.”
Donna considered that option. “It seems I’ll have to, seeing as the new adult trailer will be shown during the commercial break, Dr Sex Therapist.”
Sarah Jane spluttered into her mug, resulting in Donna having to pat her on the back. “He’s a what?!”
“Sex therapist,” Donna repeated self-contentedly. “I got him to talk nonstop about sex.”
If he were human she could imagine him talking nonstop during sex. “What does he know… about making a TV programme?” Sarah Jane successfully recovered her question. When he glared at her, she added, “Since you don’t deal with that sort of thing.”
“I am not completely ignorant of human ways and practices,” he defended himself. “And Bunty told me I coped ably.”
“Bunty is the director,” Donna supplied when Sarah Jane looked puzzled. “John really did well during yesterday’s recording, and spouted all sorts of psychoanalytical terminology when necessary,” she continued. “He was a star!”
The Doctor sat trying not to look self-satisfied, and failing dismally. “I’d say stellar,” he joked.
Sarah Jane kept the comment of ‘I’d say smug’ completely to herself. It was safer that way.
“Can somebody come and do me up?!” Donna yelled out in desperation from her bedroom. No matter how she twisted and turned she could not get the long zip on her dress done up.
Within seconds Luke ran to the door. “I’ll help, Donna,” he gleefully offered; and went to enter the room but he was quickly shooed out of the way.
“I’ll deal with this,” the Doctor ordered, pushing Luke aside.
Donna grumbled, “I don’t care who does the honours, just get this bloody thing done up before I change into a pair of jeans.”
“That would be something to see as a magic trick,” the Doctor commented as his fingers took hold of her zip. Half a second later the dress was safely dealt with. “Do you want help with your necklace too?” he asked, surreptitiously taking in the aroma of her skin.
“Yes, please,” Donna answered; closing her eyes against the enticing waft of his aftershave. Boy he looked good in his evening suit! But she was immune to all that; she had to be.
He efficiently lifted up the necklace and placed his fingers on her neck. Their eyes met in that instant as want raced through them. “You look lovely,” he complimented her, and saw the blush up close as it crept across her skin, enchanting him.
“Thanks! You don’t scrub up so bad yourself,” she risked saying. “I know this will sound daft, but are you really an alien. I mean, from outer space and everything?”
He frowned. “Yes. I thought you knew that.”
“I do,” she confirmed. “But it isn’t every day you meet a genuine Martian called John Smith.”
How many Martians did she tend to meet? “Ah, about the John Smith part,” he began to confess. “It’s an alias.”
She quirked an interested eyebrow at him. “Then what is it really?”
“The Doctor,” he inevitably replied.
“No, really; what is your name,” she tried again.
“As I said, it’s the Doctor. Why does nobody ever believe it?” he asked, clearly peeved.
“Because it sounds stupid as a name,” she answered. “It’s perfectly fine as a job title.”
He sniffed his disagreement, and covered his anger by adjusting his tie.
“You’ve gone and made it go all wonky now,” she chastised him, reaching up to grab the silk material. “Come here and let me deal with it.”
He watched intently as she fiddled with the tie, then his collar, and then finally ran her hands down his chest. Not that he enjoyed it in the slightest, he told himself; apart from the pampering, and the fondness in her voice. Oh, and the look in her eyes as she concentrated on her task; he liked that one too. But aside from all that, it didn’t do anything for him once you took into account that she was pressed up tight to his body. No, nobody would be convinced by that at all.
Whilst she was still standing far too close to him then she felt was appropriate, she asked, “What would you like me to call you tonight; or any time come to think of it?”
“Dar... Doctor will do fine,” he stammered as he answered. Oops! He almost said ‘darling’ then. Good job he caught himself in time.
“But that sounds as though I’m walking around with my shrink,” she breathily protested.
“Well, we will be telling everyone I’m a therapist,” he reasoned, lifting a hand to sweep back a stray hair from her face.
“It sounds a bit wrong to have a sex therapist on tap like that; as if we were going to run into a cupboard every so often and have mad passionate sex,” she blurted out before its implications hit her sensitivities, and she blushed a deeper red. “Not that I’m saying we’d disappear into…,” she mumbled. “And I’ll shut up now.”
My, how he wanted to smudge her lipstick in that moment! And not necessarily using his thumb… Instead he chuckled. “You can call me anything you feel comfortable with. I’m here to protect you, first and foremost, but we can have fun with this.”
Donna held her breath as he eased forward, bringing those tempting lips closer and closer. “What sort of fun?” she deliberately flirted.
“How about…?” He was so close there was no doubt in her mind what he was going to try next.
“Car’s here!” yelled out Luke, causing them to break apart. He appeared at the bedroom door almost out of breath. “There’s a huge limo just turned up outside!” he announced, grinning with elation. “Wow! You look great! I wish I was going with you.”
“Maybe I can rustle you up a ticket if I ever get nominated again,” Donna said, patting his arm as she walked passed him. She then stood trying to calm herself down on the landing. “Well, I’m ready. Are you?” she asked the Doctor as she accepted her evening bag from him.
“After you,” he replied, ushering her to the stairs; and they made their way down as gracefully as they could.
After words of good luck and confirmation that they looked okay, Donna and the Doctor climbed into the limo. Feeling very grand as they were driven along, she shot him an anxious smile, and was heartened when he took her hand. “Just enjoy the evening,” he whispered. “You look fabulous, I’m here, and if any life form tries to upset you, I’ll deal with it.”
She grinned at him in relief. “Do you know what? Sometimes I really like having you here.” She then squeezed his hand mischievously. “Now all we have to get through is you being my sex toy. Piece of cake, really,” she remarked sarcastically.
His face was an absolute picture! She’d got her revenge for that morning.
The limousine swished up to the impressive main doors of Grosvenor House and a flunky leapt forward to open the door to assist Donna out. As soon as she placed a foot on the red carpet there were several camera flashes from the gathered press photographers. There were shouts to look their way, which became a frenzy when the Doctor joined her to offer his arm.
It was a very weird experience for him, standing there like a spare wheel, as the person by his side was snapped to within an inch of her life. Fortunately someone gestured for them to walk forward and enter the hotel, and he could escape the unwanted attention. He’d done his very best to smile politely in all the photos, for Donna’s sake. She was required to please the press, after all. But the TV reporters accosting her with microphones was a whole new experience on its own.
“Donna!” one coiffured women greeted them as they stepped into the lobby. “Congratulations on your nomination. Is this the new man in your life?”
The Doctor suddenly found the spotlight on him, but Donna took over. “Thanks, Penny. This is indeed my new friend. You’ll see him featured in the trailer for my show later tonight; so keep an eye out for that.”
Penny smiled pleasantly, and then spotted another celebrity she wanted to interview; thus releasing Donna.
“Come on, Spaceman,” Donna muttered to him. “Just a few more interviews to glide through before we’re allowed to sit down.”
To his amazement each interviewer said practically the same thing, and Donna answered them all precisely in the same way with a great deal of charm. He thought so, anyway. Not that he was used to having a large microphone thrust in his face, whilst he practised his interested and compassionate face, with the merest hint of a smile.
“How am I doing?” he whispered after the third time they were stopped.
“Not bad,” she hissed back. “Try widening the smile a teensy bit.”
It didn’t go too badly, although Donna tried not to be put out by the extremely young interviewer from T4 who was dressed in an outlandish outfit and a thick layer of makeup. “Donna Noble! Who’d have thought you’d ever be at something like this?”
“Yeah, I know,” Donna replied modestly. “It was a shock to me.”
“Are you and your husband having a good time tonight?” she was then asked.
Wanting to laugh at the question, Donna turned to the Doctor to ask him the same thing. “I’m having a whale of a time with all this attention so far. What about you, John? How do you feel about it?”
He grinned back at her, wondering how mysterious should he act. “It’s different,” he noted, and nodded.
“Most of our viewers will want to know which music programme you like the most,” the interviewer said, shoving the microphone right into Donna’s face.
She lifted up a hand to ease it away from her nose. “Hmm, let me think. A nice bit of Michael Bublé or Take That, you know. Something I can bop to in my wheelchair while my Zimmer frame is in the car wash.”
Clearly the interviewer didn’t know how to take that joke, so Donna and the Doctor smiled sweetly and moved on. Once out of earshot they burst into giggles, sharing the joke with delight.
“You are wicked,” he told her in low tones. “He had no idea if you really have a Zimmer frame or not! That was a ‘he’, wasn’t it?” he queried uncertainly.
“Was it? I thought they were a girl,” Donna admitted; and they shared another giggling fit at their stupidity. “I shall make a point of finding out later. You never know, they might want to come onto my show.”
“What for? Advice on how to get dressed in the dark?” he joked.
“No, to talk about ageism in the media, obviously,” she countered, hardly containing her smile.
“What’s this about you two being married?” Bunty suddenly swept up to them to ask.
“You’ve spoken to whathisface from T4, haven’t you?” Donna replied. “That’s the trouble with youngsters; they always assume things about your relationship.”
“And what is your relationship status?” Bunty wondered with far too much interest.
“We’re appearing in the tabloids together,” the Doctor pointedly said. “Not what you would call a holiday.”
“But great for our ratings!” Bunty enthused. “Just you wait after tonight!” She grinned manically at them and bound away to spread her weirdness over someone else.
They watched her go. “That answers that question,” Donna commented.
“The everyday life of a mystery man,” the Doctor dryly remarked.
Donna flicked off an invisible piece of lint from his shoulder. “Does being a mystery man stop you eating?” she idly pondered.
“Certainly doesn’t!” he scoffed. “I’m starving!”
“Good! Me too,” she stated, and dragged him to where their seats were; much to his relief.
It was all well and good standing about posing whilst answering insipid questions, but a Time Lord needs his dinner. Especially when said Time Lord might have to chase after some alien being at the drop of a hat… or a body. You never know what the trigger will be.
Dinner was very pleasant and tasty. Their table companions were people Donna knew or had heard of, so she could inform the Doctor about the things they were discussing; aiding the conversation.
Suddenly a sandy haired man sat himself down next to Donna on the other side to the Doctor. “Hello Donna,” he breezily greeted her. “What’s all this in today’s paper?”
“Hello Lester,” she cautiously answered him. “There were a lot of things in today’s paper. What were you referring to?”
He leaned in closer to her. “Who is the mystery lover, Donna? It’s not like you to have a man.”
Donna bristled. “Oi! Just cos you weren’t interested, don’t mean I have to crawl away and die.”
Unable to contain himself any longer, the Doctor deliberately crossed her personal space to make the necessary introductions. “Hello, I’m Dr John Smith,” he said, offering his hand.
Lester reluctantly took it for a few seconds. “Lester Billington. Nice to meet you. Don’t I know you from somewhere? Ah! I know… you were the man in the photo this morning.” He then remarked to Donna, “I bet your mother loves the fact he’s a doctor.”
Oh crikey! Donna blanched as she realised that her mother had no idea the Doctor existed, let alone that she was having a mock relationship with him. Although the trailer due to be shown that night would probably result in an angry phone call later, now that she thought about it. “Oh, you know Mum,” she vaguely answered, and then placed her hands on the Doctor’s shoulder. “John has a knack for worming his way in to your affections.”
“How deep have I wormed my way into your heart?” the Doctor couldn’t resist asking her cheekily.
“Ooh, pretty far,” she breathily enthused, letting him place his arm around her waist. “Almost out the other side,” she added; her voice slightly strained as he pulled her close.
He deliberately ran his nose along hers, practically daring her to tell him off. “You say the sweetest things,” he purred next to her skin.
“I’ll erm… I’ll leave you two lovebirds to it then,” Lester said with a cough, and stood up to walk away.
“Yeah, bye,” Donna replied distractedly, waving him away without looking in his direction. “Has he gone yet?” she whispered tersely.
“Yes, you’re safe,” the Doctor told her once he had double checked that Lester had completely gone away.
“Phew!” She let out a pent up breath and sat back. “Thanks for doing that. The sh…slimeball seems to think I’ll race back to him at the drop of a hat.”
“Your ex, I take it.” He gave a dismissive sniff. Picking up his drink to take a sip, he muttered to himself, “Crushed him like a bug!” When he caught Donna eyeing him suspiciously, he demanded, “What? I only said you need a hug.”
Oh really? Didn’t sound like that to her! But her senses went on alert when he wrapped his arms around her. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m giving you a hug. What do you think I’m doing?” he snapped back without releasing her.
“Yes… well… that’s all fairly obvious, Sunshine, but you can stop now,” she wheezed out. “It sort of helps to breathe every once in a while. Or is this your surreptitious way to get your hands on my chest?” Oh dear! She shouldn’t have said that.
His gaze immediately dropped down to her chest, and right down the front of her dress, no doubt. “No, I don’t need to do that,” he mumbled.
“Oi! Eyes up here,” she hissed. In any other location she would have thumped or slapped him, but one does not behave in such a common manner when one is within Grosvenor House. It had almost become her internal mantra. Plus there were cameras everywhere you looked, so she would only end up making a right show of herself. Not the sort of thing to do before the awards are given out; hardly excusable afterwards either. The tabloids would absolutely love it if she did. Up until now her reputation was squeaky clean, and she intended to keep it that way; a certain ‘mystery lover’ aside.
Bunty tapped her on the shoulder at that moment, nearly giving Donna a heart attack. “Good luck, darling,” she stage whispered. “They’ll be showing the trailer in fifteen minutes.” Bunty then staggered away to sit at the table next to them.
What Donna hadn’t realised was that they weren’t just going to show the trailer on network television that evening, they also planned to show it in the room where they sat. So for it appear on the screen behind the awards host was more than shocking; it was mortifying!
As soon as it started to play, Donna threw herself on the Doctor and hid her face in his neck. “Please let Cash In The Attic win,” she begged. “I can’t go up on stage after this.”
There was a gasp of shock, laughter and then a round of applause from the audience. Then to round things off nicely, a spotlight was focused on them looking as though they were canoodling; causing a roar of surprise.
“Where’s a bloody alien invasion when you need one?” she quietly griped when she attempted to lift her head.
Fortunately there were other things for the audience to be amused by soon after, but Donna sat there mortified. Several jokes were made throughout the evening about her being a dominatrix and that she would whip any heckler into shape. Each time Donna silently died.
“It wasn’t so bad,” the Doctor tried to console her by saying.
“Really? They had me trussed up like a chicken and spilling out the top of that corset. Why didn’t you tell me at the time?” she whined petulantly.
Er… how could he admit that he wouldn’t have made her change for all the tea in China? “Now you’re just being paranoid. You looked positively lovely in that outfit, even when you cracked the whip.” Or especially when she did so.
“Do give over,” she grumbled; and spoiled the effect by blushing. She then winced as the spotlight fell on her again. “What are they playing at? I can hardly see!”
“Donna, that isn’t a normal spotlight,” he warned.
“What do you mean?” She then managed to look upwards and saw what he was getting at. “Be careful what you wish for… ET managed to phone home.”
Ignoring the stunned reactions of the guests all around them, the Doctor tried to grab hold of Donna’s hands or any other part of her, without success. “Donna!” he cried. “No no no no! This wasn’t supposed to happen!”
As Donna tried to form the words for her next question, the light seemed to intensify, making her surroundings shimmer. “Doctor!” she screamed; and that was it.
She disappeared from the room.
Every nerve in her body seemed to be under attack. Donna couldn’t work out which way was up as she fought for breath. Then that maddening spotlight switched off, and she was left standing, or sitting, or perhaps floating, in the dark.
“Where am I?” she shouted. “You’d better tell me right now or so help me I’ll break every bone in your body. That’s if you’ve got bones. If not, I shall stamp all over you until I’ve squished you into a pulp!”
There was no answer, and no sound.
“Can you hear me?! I want answers and I want them now!” she demanded loudly. “You’ve been pestering me for weeks, so you’d better have a bloody good reason why!”
Still no answer. Then a distinctive aroma wafted up.
“Is that toast? Are you actually making toast? Don’t tell me I’ve been avoiding outer space toasters! That really is a turn up for the books!” she mocked them. “I bet you don’t even have marmalade.”
Her surroundings were slowly revealed as the ‘house lights’ were gradually lifted. She was seated in a large square hammock, which weirdly didn’t swing, set within a room that could have escaped from any number of science fiction films. All around her were small pieces of machinery, painted in camouflage colours, as was the rest of the space. Not exactly what you’d call exciting.
“You could have tried harder with the décor,” she complained as her gaze explored the room, disclosing hardly anything worthy of note. “All of this is old hat. Don’t you know that? Or don’t they have a decent Ikea where you come from?” She wrinkled up her nose in disgust. “Not even a Captain Jean-Luc Picard to meet. What rubbish aliens.”
There was movement behind her, but she couldn’t turn her head or body around to see.
“It’s no good hiding back there!” she yelled. “You won’t get anything from me if I can’t see you.”
Almost immediately something small slid into view. If Donna had been feeling generous she would have said it looked like a version of Tinkerbelle; but she was pissed off now, and merely thought it looked like a mouse in a dress.
“Come on then, tell me what you want with me and why you’ve bothered to do all this; using your best Bond villain voice, of course,” she goaded the creature.
“You are Donna Noble,” the tiny thing stated in an ethereal voice.
“Guilty as charged. And?”
“We need you, Donna Noble,” it continued.
“Well I’d sort of worked that one out for myself,” Donna retorted sarcastically. “Are you likely to tell me why?”
“You are the most important woman in all creation.”
“Now you’ve lost me,” Donna admitted. “Did you really say most important woman in creation? ‘Cos that ain’t true. I’m not even the most important woman in our house, let alone our street.”
That seemed to rile the little being, and it glided nearer to emphasise its words. “You are she of the prophecy.”
“Not me, love. You’ve got the wrong person,” Donna insisted. “This is clearly a case of mistaken identity, so we’ll say no more about it if you let me go home now.” She tried to stand, but found she was incapable of any movement whatsoever. “Here, what’s going on?” she huffed.
“We need you to unlock the key,” the fairy mouse told her sternly.
“And I keep telling you that I don’t know what you are on about!” Donna asserted. “Either you tell me how I’m supposed to be this person you keep going on about or let me go!”
The creature flitted about agitatedly. “The prophecy says you will use your magic amulet.”
Donna frowned in confusion. “The only thing I’ve got that is remotely like that is my necklace. It was left to me in the box where I found Dad’s old army bits.”
Fairy Mouse seemed pleased about that. “We have chosen the correct day! You wear the magic amulet.”
How could they not see it hanging around her neck? Donna tilted her head down as if she’d be able to see her necklace by doing so. “I always wear it when I want some luck. If I use it to do whatever it is you want me to do, what happens after that? Are you holding me to ransom, or am I likely to get dumped in the middle of a field in the back of beyond, ending up sounding like some lunatic? Because I am warning you… I’ll hunt you down and have your guts for garters!”
The fairy mouse fluttered about, trying to calm her down. “We need help with saving our planet,” it admitted sadly.
“You do?” Donna immediately felt sorry for it.
“It requires a great sacrifice, but we have waited patiently for you to be whole,” it explained.
Rage swept through her. “I’m not exactly in pieces here, mate! What are you on about? Who has to make the sacrifice?”
The answer chilled Donna to the bone.
“You have to.”
Suddenly she hoped the only thing she would sacrifice would be not getting a slice of that toast she could smell.
Donna also desperately hoped that the Doctor was what he said he was, and manage to rescue her. Little did she know that he was frantically trying to do just that.
Everyone around him was screaming blue murder, or rushing about with microphones to interview people. He ignored all that in order to thrash about with his sonic screwdriver, trying desperately to get a decent reading of the frequency that had teleported Donna out of the room. After a sudden brainwave he pointed it at the seat where Donna had been sitting, and finally got a useable readout.
“Ah hah!” he cried out triumphantly. “Now I’ve got you! I’ve just got to tweak the tertiary quantum setting, activate the flow and I should…”
There were several loud screams again as his senses were swamped with copious sources of input, the room fizzled around him, and he promptly disappeared from sight in a flicker of sparkly lights.
“Fantastic, darling!” Bunty applauded, and set about making the most of this strange phenomenon. She could easily imagine Donna getting sponsorship, the nightmare of the threat of cancellation taken away, and her programme taken up by numerous foreign television channels after this.
Trying not to pant heavily, the Doctor found himself in a darkened room as he came to. His inner senses told him he had blacked out momentarily and that worried him. Why had he lost consciousness? Nothing within the transportation beam should have done that.
Clicking his tongue to the roof of his mouth he could taste an atmospheric disturbance that made his body tingle. One way to describe it would be to liken it to a wine glass vibrating when an audio speaker hits the right frequency. Something there had tuned into his personal frequency almost perfectly. The question wasn’t only how, but why? Allowing his brain to work quietly in the background on that one, he returned his attention to his current location.
It was obviously an enclosed room of some sort because there was no movement of air to indicate he was out in the wilderness; and the temperature was way above absolute zero, so he wasn’t merely floating in space. Plus, of course, a form of gravity was acting upon his body, but there wasn’t any indication he was on a planet. Whatever the mechanism was that had moved his body it had placed him gently down; and for that he was eternally grateful. Most of the flooring in spaceships was flipping hard! You’d think someone somewhere would have invented space carpets by now. At least rubber matting did exist, and it provided ample enough comfort.
Holding himself very still, he tuned into his senses and gradually became more aware of his surroundings. It was one of those really boring places that smelt of little of interest… apart from the faint whiff of toast, he realised. It was a good job he had already eaten. ‘Right, ignore the toast, Doctor,’ he told himself. There was another fainter smell that he knew very well.
It was Donna’s perfume. Now that brought a smile to his face as he thought about that moment in her bedroom. She’d been so close to kissing him; he knew that. Well he thought he knew that, thinking about it. Her pheromones had clearly said so; and weren’t they delicious. Of course Luke Smith had had to disturb them at that moment! The little… Still, he could deal with all that disruption. He didn’t have natural charm for nothing, he thought with a sniff.
And talking of Donna, he had to find out where she was and discover why she had been taken in such a dramatic way. It was strange how she had been taken from a live television broadcast; it was as though these aliens wanted maximum publicity. Was it an intergalactic version of Fathers For Justice? It could be. Except they hadn’t chosen to dress up as superheroes; instead they had chosen a woman who had just appeared in front of millions of viewers wearing a black leather corset, stockings, wickedly high heels, a choker with a lead, and him. Not that anyone could accuse him of looking. Except he didn’t necessarily need to run that list through his head, since that image had popped up within his working memory on several occasions, but he enjoyed it revisiting him nonetheless. At that point he was aware of the effect gravity was having on his blood stream for entirely different reasons, and he forced his mind to concentrate on the problem in hand rather than in thoughts.
Tuning into his gundog senses, as someone had once described them, the Doctor found himself creeping along an extremely narrow corridor. One that was no doubt full of miles of cables and venting ducts, if the usual space craft pattern had been followed. You’d think space architects would have a greater imagination about these things. Or at least add some lights once in a while.
Having internally grumbled to himself for several yards, he eventually found the end of the corridor, a light source, and the possible origin of the scents he had detected.
Okay, make that a definite; because he could clearly see before him, suspended like a bag of Satsumas, was Donna spread out most delightfully on a hammock of some sort. He could almost imagine her soaking up the sun as solar rays kissed her freckled skin whilst… A sudden sound made that daydream crash out of his head and forced him to concentrate on the display in front of him.
He heard an almost disembodied voice say, “We need your sacrifice, Donna Noble of Earth.”
“Why? What’s so special about me?!” Donna demanded to know.
It took a lot of effort on his part to wrench his attention away from the fact she was shackled by some means to the hammock. Jack would have had a field day with the possibilities!
“You hold within you great power,” the voice continued.
The Doctor was surprised to notice that it belonged to such a small and cute being. But he wanted to know what sort of power they sought and how Donna would help with that.
“All I’m holding in at the moment is the urge to thump you one if you don’t hurry up and tell me exactly what you expect me to do!” Donna cried out in frustration.
The fairy mouse twirled upward, dancing a demented dance as a star chart burst into life on some sort of monitor on the way. “This is your home,” Fairy Mouse told her. “And this is the key.”
“I don’t think it is,” Donna insisted. “That looks nothing like the Milky Way.”
Ah, this was his cue. The Doctor stepped into the room to declare, “Donna is right. That isn’t her home. You seem to have got your wires crossed somewhere.”
“Who are you and why do you think such a thing?” Fairy Mouse queried.
“I’m the Doctor,” he proclaimed. “And that is Kasterborous; the constellation where I came from.”
Fairy Mouse managed somehow to look shocked. “You are called the Doctor?” it warily asked.
“Hello,” he said, and gave a small wave. “I see you’ve met Donna.”
Strangely enough, Fairy Mouse seemed to find this information highly amusing; and it danced about in ecstasy. “It is so! It is so!” the fairy mouse cried out in delight.
“Don’t ask me,” Donna responded when the Doctor shared a puzzled look with her. “They’ve hardly told me anything yet.”
The Doctor took a deep breath. “Tell me what the H’rae want with Donna here. I promise that I’ll be able to help you gain a suitable situation.”
“Got some happy pills on you, by any chance?” Donna remarked.
“Why? Feeling a little bit down, Donna?” he wondered.
“Me? Tied down, more like it. I’m hunky dory in my giant sling, thanks,” came the sarcastic answer.
“Good to know, in both cases,” he sniffed, and addressed the fairy mouse again. “You’ve obviously brought Donna here for a special reason. I managed to activate your transmat system. I’m clever like that; so I can provide other technical skills.”
“And he’s so modest too,” Donna mumbled to amuse herself. “And sexy!” she quickly added when he glared at her.
Inevitably his smug grin briefly appeared at that.
“The one you call Donna will sacrifice a life to save our planet,” trilled Fairy Mouse, “and you shall assist her.”
“Okay, I choose your life,” Donna grouched.
“No, not my life,” Fairy Mouse protested. “You misunderstand. You will give us one of your lives and then… freedom. All in golden light.”
That caught the Doctor’s attention. “What does this golden light look like exactly?”
“While you two are discussing colour charts, can you get me off this thing?!” Donna yelled from her hammock cage.
“Oh yes,” the Doctor muttered nonchalantly. “May I?” he asked Fairy Mouse and drew out his sonic screwdriver.
Within seconds Donna was released and she moved warily about to test her mobility. “I could kiss you for that!” she gratefully beamed at him. “But I won’t.”
“Why aren’t you kissing me now?” he cheekily asked.
“Cos you’re busy saving me,” she pointed out, feeling pleased when he looked crestfallen. “Later,” she promised.
The Doctor gleefully adjusted his tie and then turned his attention back to Fairy Mouse. “Since we’ve gone to all this bother of dressing up, why don’t you start the next stage of this planet saving?”
Fairy Mouse whooshed up to Donna and fluttered hesitantly about. “We the H’rae will all die unless you shed your golden light and save us all. We have waited many giddens for this to happen. Please show us mercy!”
“Is this connected to all that key unlocking and prophecy malarkey? Only I still think you’ve got the wrong person, but I’ll give it ago,” Donna told him/her/it. “Where do I start?”
Fairy Mouse clapped its little paws together. “Doctor, if you would assist, please.”
“Oh, I’m allowed to now, eh?” He wandered back to Donna’s side from where he had been examining the console panels. “It’s quite simple, Donna,” he explained. “Just open the tiny locket around your neck.”
She immediately frowned. “It don’t open, cos it ain’t a locket.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, reaching forward to hold the pendant around her neck to view it more closely. The viewing right down her cleavage was purely an added bonus. After some moments, he commented, “You’re right; it doesn’t.”
Fairy Mouse became agitated. “You said you had the amulet!”
“See! I wasn’t lying,” Donna huffed, holding her necklace aloft for the tiny creature to view. “If it helps, I’ve got another one very similar at home.”
“You do?!” the Doctor queried.
“Yeah, but I don’t carry it about; obviously. It stays in my bedroom, under the bed.” She placed the necklace back where it belonged, and he didn’t follow its progress at all; not even when it bounced on the swell of her bosom.
He risked asking, “Can anyone come in there?”
“Play your cards right, sunshine.” She winked at him.
He took her hand, and suggested to the fairy mouse, “We’ll just pop back to Donna’s home and pick up the vital piece. If you would do the honours?”
Fairy Mouse seemed to sigh. “Follow me.”
It did not take long for the fairy mouse to fire up the engines and deposit them both at Donna’s home. As a taxi service it was a bit rubbish, and a great deal more dramatic. On the other hand, it hadn’t cost her a penny so far; so cheapness and value for money was on its side.
Within a short time the Doctor found himself in Donna’s bedroom; and she instantly dropped to her knees, creating a whole load of fantasies in his mind.
“Do you… er… need a hand?” he asked as she disappeared underneath the bedframe, leaving only her bum sticking out.
She came back out looking very flushed from her efforts, tightly clasping a dark green tin box with pride; and slid it into the light.
Donna lifted up her dad’s old army box onto the bed, feeling the unusual weight of it in her hands. Strange how she had never worried about opening it before.
Agitated, she cried, “It won’t open! Does you blue light stick work on this?”
“Let’s give it a go,” he offered, and pointed it briefly at the lock.
Taking a deep breath for courage, she brought her hand to the locking device, pushed it in, and lifted.
With ease the lid popped open; and the musty smell of old memories hit her. A gentle smile spread across her face as she peeped inside. It was exactly as she remembered. Gradually she took out each item: his medical card, his ration book, his training report card; and the most precious item of all, his old watch. She held it within her hands as if it were a tiny bird with a broken wing and offered it to the Doctor. “See! I told you there wasn’t much in here. This was Dad’s watch; he used to let me play with it when I was small.”
The Doctor tried to hide his gasp of surprise. “When you say you played with it, what did you see, Donna?” he softly asked.
“How did you…? I never told anyone about the secret games I played in my head as I held it in my hands” she admitted. Seeing his expression of encouragement, she felt able to carry on by saying, “I used to imagine I was special. Not in a princess sort of way like everyone else seemed to. No, I didn’t want any of that! Instead I was special like Superman, sent to Earth from a faraway planet. Isn’t that daft?”
“I don’t think that’s daft at all,” he confessed. “In fact I think it’s rather brilliant!”
“You do?” she wondered, heartened by his enthusiasm. “Even if I tell you that my original planet was full of people in weird formal getups, long robes of orange or red, and these stupid hats and collars? I don’t know why I chose that because in films aliens always wear silver jumpsuits.”
“Can you remember the name of the planet you saw?” he chanced asking when she stopped speaking.
“Yeah,” she said wistfully. “It was called Gallifrey.” She then spotted the way his breathing had changed, as if a heart attack was imminent. “Are you okay? You don’t look at all well. If you like, you can stay here and lie down on my bed while I go back to the H’rae.”
He’d much rather lie on the bed with her, just like he had at Sarah Jane’s. Anyway… enough of that for the time being; that could be explored later. “No, no, I’m fine,” he insisted; adding in a sniff for good measure. “When you say you were sent here, what happened to your parents?”
A frown crossed over her face. “How weird. Do you know that I have no idea! I never even thought to wonder. Why? What’s the problem?”
He handed the watch immediately back to her. “I think you need to hold this for a while, and let it talk to you.”
As soon as he placed it on her palm images began to enter her mind. “I can see all the old stories I used to make up. How did you get it to do that? I can see myself as a young child entering a space pod, them crying, and then I see… I see you!” Her voice was full of awe. “How did you become part of this? We… Oh, I don’t think I should mention that. Have you put porn into my dad’s watch, Martian?!”
“I’ve done nothing of the sort,” he defended himself. “You are seeing echoes; of what was, what is, and what can be.” He then paused for a beat. “I’m in there, am I?” His trademark smug grin appeared in full force.
“Yes,” she reluctantly agreed, and swatted at his arm. “Don’t take it as an invite.”
“I won’t,” he promised with as much conviction as a political candidate.
“Good!” She set her beady eye on him. “What’s next in this charade?”
“We take the watch with us back to the H’rae craft and find out how they plan to utilise it,” he suggested. “Other than that, I’ve got a plan or two.”
“I bet you have!” she countered.
“Honest I have,” he insisted. “I’ve got previous.”
Having been summoned back to the H’rae craft, Donna stood expectantly before them with the precious watch and a possible new identity. “What do you want me to do now?” she asked Fairy Mouse.
“Release the new you,” it decreed.
So, after glancing at the Doctor for support, she brought the pocket watch in her hand up, so that it touched her necklace and the star shape of it enabled her to flick it open. The whole thing sort of buzzed in her hand for a bit, and strange tendrils of light came out of the casing.
As the Doctor had expected, the light crept up her body, she threw her head back slightly and then… nothing. Absolutely nothing happened!
“Is that it?!” he cried out.
At the same moment Donna remarked, “Well that was a waste of time. I don’t feel any different.”
“You don’t?” he questioned, and eased forward. “You smell different,” he noted. “Ow! There was no need to thump me! I only said!!”
“Thanks for that. I feel so comforted by your words,” she sarkily retorted.
“No, you don’t understand,” he tried to amend. “You would smell different, because you are no longer merely human... Ouch! That hurt!”
“It was intended to. I liked being human,” she grumbled loudly. “Now I’m all thingy.”
He scowled back at her. “You are just like me.”
“I don’t think I am. The voice is one clue I ain’t overlooking.”
He sighed. “I’m talking about being Gallifreyan, not male.”
“Is that what you are?” she cheekily wondered.
A waggle of his eyebrows accompanied his answer of, “I can prove it to you, if you like?”
Now she liked a nice flirt as much as the next woman, but when they heard loud sobs they both stopped their friendly game and took pity on the fairy mouse. “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” she asked when she approached it.
“You have not fulfilled the prophecy,” Fairy Mouse sobbed. “And now my planet will wither and die without the energy you needed to provide.” It then threw its little paws over its equally tiny eyes, opened its mouth and drew in numerous noisy sniffles as it wept.
The devastated creature almost broke her heart, or should that now be hearts, with its crying. Donna used a single finger to stroke the fur on its teeny head and wipe away some of the tears. “Can you help them, Doctor?” she appealed to him.
“I don’t know, Donna. I’d have to find out the root of the problem…,” he started to reason out. “And what the hell is that?!” he cried when something zapped into the room.
Before them all stood a silent hooded humanoid figure that seemed to be hunched over. Gradually it stood up and stretched to its full height. Stunned, the Doctor reached out to push Donna protectively behind him, but he wasn’t quite quick enough. The cloak fell back to reveal the identity of the person and the gun they carried.
“Donna Noble, queen of daytime television and bane of my life with your high morals, opinions and esteem. But no more, Ms Noble; because today you die and my career skyrockets!” the figure uttered as it did its best Bond villain impression.
“Bunty, you don’t have to do this,” the Doctor calmly stated. “We can all come to an affable agreement, since Donna won’t be returning to Earth in the same way as before.”
“Won’t I?” Donna asked.
“Oh no,” he supplied. “You’ll be coming with me.”
“I will? Any particular reason why, that you’d care to enlighten me with,” she queried.
“Well…,” he answered cautiously, rubbing nervously at the back of his neck. “We are the last two of our kind…”
“Like the giant pandas or white rhinos. How quaint,” she mocked.
“Can we discuss the details later?” he begged, nodding his head towards where Bunty stood.
“Oh, right!” Donna suddenly realised. “I’m new to all this. Sorry!”
Bunty sneered at them both. “How touching! I’ve been watching the pair of you together, and it’s been sickening.”
“To think you were the one that insisted we appeared side by side on screen. You could have looked the other way. There’s always an OFF button,” Donna argued.
“And that precisely illustrates the point I’ve been making.” Bunty brought her gun up to aim at Donna. “Always so high and mighty.”
“That’s genuinely a trait of our race,” the Doctor tried to distract her attention. “It rankles an awful lot of species. But we can be lovable.”
“You can also be shut up, once and for all. Goodbye,” Bunty calmly said, and fired. Strangely enough she then toppled forward like a sack of wet teddy bears. Behind her floated Fairy Mouse holding a blunt instrument and looking very pleased with itself.
“Would you look at that,” he remarked to Donna as he saw Bunty fade away. “Just like Yoda. I said… Donna? NO! Donna!”
Donna lay crumpled on the floor, clutching her throat. It was soon evident that she was trying to halt the flow of blood from a deep wound. She tried to voice an answer, offer him some sort of consoling remark, but her ability to stay awake and alive was fading fast.
“No, Donna, you can’t leave me! Not like this,” he insisted. “You’re dying but that doesn’t have to mean the end of you and me. Just regenerate; it’s how we fight death. You can do it.”
She was trying to say something, so he knelt down and brought his ear up against her mouth. “I don’t know how to do it!” she tearfully admitted in her own way.
He gently took her head between his hands and brought them nose to nose. “Don’t worry, I’ll guide you,” he murmured. “Just follow my lead.”
Inching nearer, he seemed to make a sudden decision - well, it was a sudden decision; one where he risked life over possible limbs later on – and pressed close until, finally, his breath brushed over her lips.
“Stay with me, Donna,” he pleaded. “Concentrate with me, and I’ll take it from there.”
Her eyes grew larger with wonder as cool tendrils of golden light crept and oozed out from her skin to engulf her. The light seemed to pulse, and then… BAM! She was encased in a blinding light that shot out from her limbs.
“Now,” she heard him say as she felt herself slip away; and then his mouth was on hers, drawing out life, fears, impressions, and her very essence.
There was no time to scream, to complain about the violation, to protest her indignation; because her attention was solely on him as they became one. And then just as quickly as the sensation had happened, it stopped.
She found herself looking deeply into his eyes. “What were you saying?” she mumbled. Donna sat blinking at him desperately. “What just happened?”
He stared back at her. “I think you might have… sort of… and don’t take this the wrong way, please… but you probably regenerated for the first time.”
“I did what?!” She shot a stricken look in his direction.
“She is he, and he is she!” Fairy Mouse sung out as it danced about. “Thank you for saving us all!”
“They seem pleased,” the Doctor noted. “The ship syphoned off most of the regenerative energy for use later by the H’rae.”
“And what happened to the rest of it?” Donna wondered.
The Doctor smiled in delight. “It healed you. Who would want to change how you look any way? You’re already perfect.”
She swatted at his arm, but not enough to make him drop her. “Give over! Anyone would think you like me.”
“That anyone would be correct.” He thoughtfully considered the fairy mouse. “It’s time we were making for home.”
Donna asked, “Whose home? Yours or mine?”
Allowing himself a moment of happiness, he suggested, “Let’s make them both the same.”
Fairy Mouse reluctantly said its goodbyes to them, and returned them to the surface of the planet known as Earth; right where Donna’s current home was. But they had ambitious plans, and they weren’t to do with her television career.
It was decided between the pair of them that they would visit Donna’s family, Sarah Jane and Luke to explain what had happened; but first they would celebrate by having a much needed refreshing cup of tea.
“Do all Gallifreyans have this need for tea?” Donna quizzed the Doctor.
“No, I’d say it’s more of an acquired taste after spending time on Earth,” he replied. “Have you remembered much about your former self yet?”
“Not really, if I’m honest,” she confessed. “I can only guess that I was very young; or they’d completely wiped my mind.”
“I’d say that being exceptionally young was the more likely answer, otherwise bits would seep through,” the Doctor reasoned. “They did that to me once,” he offered in explanation.
“I’m sorry,” she immediately sympathised, and tenderly caressed his cheek. “You’ve suffered a great deal in your time, and far too much of it being so lonely.”
“I won’t have to anymore now that I’ve found you,” he sincerely told her.
Oh dear! Things were getting serious again, and needed lightening up. Donna threw herself down onto the sofa, groaning out loud as she did so. “Got any special foot rubs in that pocket of yours?”
He pretended to search; dipping his hand into each pocket as she giggled at his antics. “No, sorry. You’ll have to make do with a free range one.”
“What’s a free range one?” she asked him as he plonked himself down next to her.
“Ah, it means,” he began to explain as he lifted her foot into his lap, “that it is allowed to roam as much as it likes.”
There was a loud squawk of laughter as his fingers trailed up her calf and assaulted her knee. “Geroff!” she shrieked, and tried to wrench her foot away. “You’re a menace!”
“No; I’m a masseuse,” he insisted.
Hah! She didn’t believe him for one second; but he did look adorable in that moment. “Whatever you are, you deserve a kiss of thanks.”
“Only the one?” he wondered cheekily, bringing his face close to hers.
“We’ll see,” she half promised, tipping her head in order to line up properly. “After this one.”
Meeting part of the way, the Doctor eagerly pressed his lips to hers, moving with subtle sweeps to gradually build the kiss until they were exchanging large, open mouthed kisses. On and on, sharing kiss after kiss, letting tongues meet, glide and caress.
The need to contact Sarah Jane, family or anyone else was forgotten as they lost themselves in their passionate embrace. And as they kissed, their minds sang together in their mutual joy, enhancing the experience beyond measure.
Eventually the Doctor gasped out, “Stay with me, Donna. Join me among the stars.”
“Just try stopping me, Martian,” she retorted.
“I’m not from Mars, Earthgirl,” he corrected.
“And I don’t care, Spaceman,” Donna answered, and then resumed kissing him to within an inch of his life.
Eventually they were disturbed by the sound of someone calling out, banging on the door and then by that same someone letting themselves in using a personal key.
“Is anyone there?” floated into them; closely followed by the appearance of Wilf in the room having returned home from his jaunt out with his friends. “Donna?! Is that you?” he exclaimed when he saw them entangled on the settee. “I’ve been so worried! One minute you were on the telly and the next you weren’t.”
“Hello Gramps!” she stammered out, having let go of the Doctor and attempted to sit away from him. She waved a hand towards her settee companion. “This is my friend, the Doctor. Doctor, this is Wilf Mott, my grandfather. ”
The Doctor instantly offered a handshake as he stood politely in greeting. “Good to meet you, Wilf.”
“Nice to meet you too,” Wilf enthused as he shook the Doctor’s hand. “I’ve seen you on the telly with our girl.”
“Oh, you saw that then?” Donna considered with embarrassment. “I was hoping you hadn’t.”
“Of course we did!” Wilf scoffed. “We always watch your shows.”
“Who are you, Wilf?” the Doctor suddenly asked.
“Who me? I’m nobody, me,” Wilf modestly answered.
The Doctor moved around him sniffing. “No, you’re certainly not ‘nobody’. Not judging by what Donna did.”
Wilf tried to shrug nonchalantly, and then he visibly sagged. “I just look after Donna. That’s all. It’s my job.”
“There’s something more than that,” the Doctor encouraged him to talk. “Wilf, does the name Gallifrey mean anything to you?”
It certainly did, because Wilf reacted with a startled twitch. He then anxiously looked at Donna as he spoke. “Yes, I was born there long ago. My mother might have been familiar to you. Her name was Leela.”
It was the Doctor’s turn to be startled by this revelation. “You escaped?!” he spluttered out. “How many did?”
“Just me… and Donna, of course. You’ve got to understand, Doctor. I was given the special job of looking after her. She was destined for something big, they told me; she had to be outside the coming time lock to fulfil her purpose.”
“And you as a partial human was given permission to leave,” the Doctor concluded. “What did you do to her?”
“I didn’t do anything! They used a Chameleon Arch on her, not me! All I did was smuggle her out with me under my robes,” Wilf insisted defensively.
“Then I’m not your real granddaughter?” Donna asked when she finally found her voice again.
“No, sweetheart; but you became one,” Wilf tearfully admitted. “I wouldn’t have exchanged our time together for the world.”
“Oh Gramps!” she cried, and flew into his warm embrace to hug him closely. “Then who are the people I call my parents?”
“They were a nice young couple I found who wanted children but couldn’t have them. They were both orphaned in the war. All it took was a bit of jiggery pokery to get them to think we were both related to them. I never harmed them. Am I forgiven?”
“Of course, Gramps!” Donna declared, and hugged him enthusiastically.
Wilf hugged back and eventually released her. “You go with the Doctor, as you should. You belong there,” he insisted. “Go and find out who you really are, my girl. Make my sacrifice worthwhile.”
The Doctor reached out and took her hand. “We will,” he promised. “The universe is waiting to educate her.”
“Cheek! And what about you?” she asked.
“I’m waiting for you to educate me in return!” he answered and waited for the laugh he longed for.