Donna smirks as she wakes up to hear the unmistakable sound of rustling. Stretching, she luxuriously opens her eyes — only to start at the realisation that the TARDIS isn’t just sharing the sound with her from the library or the study or one of the other numerous locations he’s been looking for the past few weeks. Instead, a rear end clad in brown pinstripes is actually poking out of her cupboard!
Managing to choke down a squeak of shock a bare instant before it escapes, she manages to close her eyes just as the rustling stops and she can picture him quite clearly in her mind, peering warily over his shoulder as he looks to see if she’s awake.
After a moment, the sounds resume, but more softly than before. Donna waits for a moment longer before cautiously prising her eyelids apart to peer through her lashes.
The Doctor has resumed his search of her cupboard, presumably having finished checking every single one of her shoes before she disturbed him, and now she watches as he checks carefully between each layer of clothing on her shelves, as well as patting the pockets of her dresses, coats and pants.
Smiling, Donna silently slides her arm up beneath her pillow, resting her head on it and taking the opportunity to brush her fingers against the small wrapped parcel under her head.
She’s taken it to hiding it inside her pillow case after she realized that the mere thought of not knowing what, if anything, she’d brought him for a Christmas present was torture for the Doctor.
And the longer it went on, and the more frustrated he got, the more she enjoyed it.
The Doctor moves up from the section containing her clothes to the area where she stores her hatbox and other bits and pieces. She can see him becoming more frantic, perhaps because he assumes she’s going to wake up any moment and catch him, but for now, she’s happy enough watching him make a fool of himself.
The fingers of one hand are clinging desperately to the shelf as he feels back in the far corners of the cupboard, and his foot is pressed against the doorframe to give himself those few inches more reach. In fact, Donna can't help thinking that he looks similar to the way he did when he was pressed against the frame of the TARDIS doors, waiting for her to leap into his arms.
She would never have believed that the skinny alien she reluctantly trusted on that day would turn out to be the best mate she’s ever had.
There’s a sudden squeak as the rubber of his converse gives a little on the painted timber and then his fingers scrabble desperately on the wood for a handhold before she sees him lose his grip with a loud yelp that would certainly have woken her up if she wasn’t already awake.
Before she can do more than gasp, the bed suddenly shifts beneath her, shooting across the room just in time for the Doctor to drop onto the mattress, looking not unlike a startled mouse, albeit a very large one.
He lies there for a moment, gaping for breath, staring at the ceiling, his fingers still opening and closing reflexively, as if trying to regain the hold he has already lost.
Then his eyes swivel in her direction, and she can see him making a concerted effort to act as if being found draped across the end of her bed, which is on the other side of the room from its normal position, is completely normal.
“Hello,” he says with a somewhat awkward smile. “I thought I’d, you know, come in and see if you were awake yet.”
“Are you all right?” she asks, concerned that he might have hurt himself with all of his efforts.
“Fine,” he replies rather too quickly. “Absolutely fine. Positively fine. Perfect, in fact. Never better. Nothing wrong with me. Never. Not at all.”
Donna pulls herself into a sitting position, hearing a faint ‘flump’ as the pillow beneath her head drops onto the floor. The bed, meanwhile, has begun to creep across the floor to its usual place in the room.
“You wouldn’t lie to me, would you, Doctor?” she demands, her voice stern. “’Cos I’d be very unhappy if you did that!”
“I never lie!” he exclaims indignantly. “I might, you know, occasionally be a little too liberal with the truth, or perhaps expand on things rather more than I ought to, but lying!” He glares at her. “What a terrible slight on my spotless character!”
Chuckling, Donna pulls over one of the other pillows and curls onto her side, tucking the pillow under her head as the bed ever so gently bumps against the wall in between the two bedside tables.
“Of course you wouldn’t,” she agrees, tapping the bed beside her. “Want to be more comfortable than lying on your back with your legs in the air?”
He arches an eyebrow. “Donna Noble, if I didn’t know better,” he tells her, a tone of incredulity in his voice, although his eyes are dancing, “I’d suggest that you were making some kind of improper remark.”
“Yeah, dream on, Spaceman,” she says derisively. “Stay there if you like then. I don’t care.”
In response, he wriggles up the bed until he’s beside her, tugging on the pillow until she relaxes her hold on it so that he can pull it towards him and rest his head on it too.
“Cheeky!” she admonishes him.
“I could have fallen to my death back there!” he protests. “I was only saved by my incredible reflexes and… and…”
“Considerate ship,” she tells him smartly. “I suppose nine hundred years together will create something of a bond between you. I notice you’re not denying the fact that you were going through my things though.”
“Er, what?” he splutters, his eyes widening, clearly caught by surprise. “Why would you… I mean… that — that’s a terrible thing to think!”
“So what were you doing then?” she asks meaningfully. “Oh, come on,” she adds when he remains silent, clearly struggling for an answer, “I’ve heard you spout reams of rubbish when we’re faced with alien threats! Why can’t you come up with any sort of lame excuse now?”
“I… well… because…” His expression suddenly falls, his eyes widening and a look of misery all over his features. “I don’t want you to be angry with me,” he says pitifully.
For a moment, Donna simply gazes at him, waiting in silence. She watches the downward turn of his lips relaxes, his wide eyes reverting to their usual size, and the sadness gradually disappearing as he waits to see what her reaction will be.
Then she laughs.
The Doctor flips onto his back, his arms folded across his chest, with a loud snort. His bottom lip protrudes in a very definite pout and he kicks his feet against the mattress.
“You know,” he proclaims impressively, “some people believe me when I say things.”
“Yeah, because they don’t realize that you talk rubbish half the time,” she reminds him with an affectionate prod of his shoulder.
“I suppose I should be happy you only said ‘half’,” he complains, rolling back onto his side to look at her.
“We-ell, I’m more generous at this time of year,” she teases. “What can I say?”
For a moment, he considers this, before his eyes suddenly dance with what Donna knows is a mischievous light. “It’s funny you should say that,” he begins slowly, “because this is a time machine, as you know, and, if I wasn’t such a nice person — if I had a terrible mean streak in me…”
“Hold it right there,” she interrupts, placing her hand firmly over his mouth. “I think I know exactly what you’re going to say and we are not going to make it be Christmas every day just because you think it will make me be nice to you and agree with you when you talk rubbish! And don’t go all pouty like that, chum, or you won’t get the present you came in here to look for in the first place!”
Instantly the Doctor no longer looks like a sad little boy, but rather one who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says unconvincingly.
“Right,” she says slowly and mockingly. “You just decided to enter my room through the cupboard. Were you looking for the secret entrance to Narnia or something?”
“Could have been a secret passage,” he mumbles.
“Except we both know it wasn’t.” She rolls her eyes. “When are you going to admit that it drives you crazy that you don’t know what I might have bought you for Christmas?”
“If I admit that you’re right, will you tell me what it is?” he asks hopefully.
She smiles at the light of hope she can see in his eyes before it vanishes as she shakes her head.
“That would kind of defeat the purpose of a surprise,” she reminds him. “And you’re assuming I’ve actually got you anything.”
Suddenly, Donna reaches forward to brush a kiss again the Doctor’s frownlines on his forehead, feeling as they vanish beneath the touch of her lips as his eyebrows shoot upwards.
“What was that for?” he demands breathlessly as she pulls away again.
“It took your mind off it,” she teases. “And besides, since we are going to celebrate Christmas, you can’t possibly be in a bad mood for the whole time. I don’t know if the Time Lords had Santa, but I was always told that I wouldn’t get anything from him if I was a sulky, naughty girl.”
“You would have been so adorable when you were sulking,” the Doctor says brightly, his previous grumpiness forgotten. “All big eyes and pouty lips and red curls. And,” he goes on teasingly, “I bet you had your family wrapped around your little finger, didn’t you? Your grandfather in any case.”
“Maybe just a bit,” she agrees. “Now,” she says more briskly, “since I clearly have no chance of any more sleep, how about you let me get up and have a quick shower and then we can be off?”
“Any particular destination in mind?” the Doctor asks as he stands up so that she can throw off the covers and get out of bed.
“I’ve got some more shopping to do,” she reminds him. “I really do think it’s time I got something for Gramps. And I should probably buy a couple of things for Mum, just so that she doesn’t feel left out.”
“And if you happen to see anything you think I might like,” he’s beginning hopefully, “I wouldn’t stop you buying it.”
“As long as you promise not to go through my room again, I’ll think about it,” she tells him.
He smiles and moves around the bed in a few short strides to stop in front of her, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders.
“I promise,” he says seriously. “But you have to let me repay what you just did before.”
“And what was that?” she demands.
Her eyes widen at the realisation that he’s leaning towards her, and she catches her breath as his lips brush her forehead. Then, as he pulls back, he smiles understandingly at her before glancing at the bed.
“Want me to rescue your pillow?”
It takes a second or so before she remembers why she doesn’t want the Doctor anywhere near the pillow currently caught beneath her bed and she steps forward to stop him.
“No!” she says sharply, and he glances at her over his shoulder, an amused grin on his face. “No, really,” she goes on, “it’s fine. I can manage.”
“Well, all right,” he says slowly, stepping away from the bed and towards the door, “as long as you’re sure.”
“I am,” she promises.
“Oh, and Donna,” his voice from the doorway stops her and she looks around to find him peering around the half-closed door, a cheeky grin on his face, “good hiding place.”
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