“Not exactly subtle, are you, Spaceman?”
Donna looks up to see a hurt look cross the Doctor’s face.
She has to admit that, at this moment, he isn’t being particularly unsubtle. He’s merely sitting at the kitchen table, sipping on a glass of ginger beer and trying to fix a broken coupling shaft.
Except for the moment when he gets distracted by Donna’s remark and accidentally tries to drink the coupling shaft and fix his glass of ginger beer, neither of which goes down particularly well.
“Oh, is that all?” she demands, disappointed, as she crosses her arms over her chest. “I was expecting at least some hysterical wailing and claims that you’d been poisoned!”
“Donna, I just drank engine oil,” the Doctor points out, fishing a handkerchief from his pocket so that he can wipe the black smears off his mouth. “Oh, that’s horrible!”
“Where are you running off to now?” she demands as he leaps to his feet.
“I am going to clean my teeth,” he says with an attempt at dignity that is rather ruined by his black-tinged mouth.
He comes back several minutes later smelling strongly of peppermint, and Donna rolls her eyes when she sees that he’s also taken time out to rearrange his hair.
“You’re worse than me,” she points out.
“What do you mean by that?” he demands suspiciously as he drops down in front of the table to resume working on the broken coupler.
“You’re more girly than I am,” she says scornfully. “I mean, look at you!”
He looks down at himself in obvious confusion, straightening his jacket. “What’s wrong with how I look?”
“Doctor, you styled your hair,” she points out acidly. “Who, exactly, are you hoping to impress here on the TARDIS?”
“We might go somewhere,” he argues somewhat weakly.
“Not on your life!” She points a finger at him accusingly. “You promised me a quiet night in. You also promised me a foot massage, so don’t think you’re getting out of it with the whole ‘wonders of time and space’ palaver you’ve got going on, Time Boy.”
“I thought you liked the wonders of time and space,” he says in sulky tones.
“Not at the end of a very long day when I’ve been abducted by some of Gulliver’s residents of Lilliput and I had to free myself at the cost of an all-too-realistic acupuncture session because someone was too busy to come to my rescue.”
“I can’t help it if I got distracted!”
“They set one of yours hairs on fire with one of their tiny burning arrows,” she snaps. “What were you expecting — a conflagration? Mate, there’s so much product in your hair, I’m more likely to be able to snap pieces of it off than burn it to your scalp.”
“Actually, it’s really soft,” he tells her, running his fingers through it as he leans towards her. “Want to feel?”
“Oh, get off!” She shoves him away. “But the way you carried on about that hair, you’d think they were burning the ones on your chest instead!”
“When have you ever seen my chest hair?” he demands, blinking at her in evident astonishment. “Have you been sneaking in to watch me have a bath or something? Donna,” his tone becomes disapproving, even as heightened colour tints his cheeks pink, “we agreed, ‘just mates,’ remember?”
“You changed your shirt in the console room of the TARDIS — in full view! — after our little confrontation with the Racnoss. Remember?”
“Ah.” He rubs his chin uncomfortably. “That. Right. Yes. I had forgotten actually. I mean, it was a while ago!”
“In what possible other ways could I be worse than you?” he demands, apparently eager to leave the point about his chest hair at rest.
She raises her eyebrows at him. “Mouse,” she says simply.
“It wasn’t a mouse,” he says with exaggerated patience. “I’ve already told you — it was a…”
“It had a long tail, little round ears, squeaked and ate cheese,” she interrupts. “That’s a mouse in my book!”
“It. Wasn’t. A. Mouse.” His words are slow and deliberate, as if he’s talking to an idiot. “It was a very dangerous creature whose hair and saliva could be deadly to Time Lords.”
Her voice almost visibly drips with sarcasm in response. “Which is, of course, why, half an hour later, you were playing with it and building a home for it and giving it a name and feeding it cheese.”
“By that time, I’d realised it was a mouse.”
“Sorry, didn’t I say that before?” she enquires with false politeness.
He shrugs awkwardly. “Maybe.”
“And that doesn’t explain why you leapt on the chair and screamed like a girl when I pointed out the mouse-that-wasn’t-a-mouse-but-actually-was.”
“Donna, does this argument of yours have a point?” he demands, evidently frustrated by the fact that she keeps besting him.
“Yes,” she tells him. “You’re a ham.”
“A what?” he asks in tones of profound hurt.
“A drama queen.” She rolls her eyes. “You’re so full of theatrics, you should be on the stage in the West End, chum. The least thing has you leaping into the air and shrieking like a girl. A pathetic, hysterical girl, in fact.”
“I do not!” he exclaims in tone at least two octaves above his normal pitch.
“There isn’t a thing you do that’s not overdone,” she retorts.
“Oh, that's your defence, is it?” she mocks. “A come-back a three-year-old would be ashamed of?”
“Name one thing,” he says, clearly wounded by her accusations, “that I’ve done lately — apart from the mouse, oh, and drinking the engine oil — where I’ve overacted.”
“You really want me to?”
“Right then.” She settles back in her chair. “Let’s cast our minds back only a scant few days. I would like you to recall, if you can, a certain scene in a kitchen in a house in England in the 1920s.”
She arches an eyebrow at him. “How is that cheating?”
He glares back at her. “Donna, I’d just drunk poison, for Rassilon’s sake!”
“It hurt!” He pouts. “A lot!”
“You were carrying on as if you were dying!” she says scornfully.
“I was dying,” he points out with some asperity. “Did you miss the bit where Agatha said cyanide was fatal? ‘Cos I didn’t!”
“I heard you say it wasn’t to you,” she shoots back. “Then you danced around a lot and acted like you were at the theatre in an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical or something with all of your miming and rubbish!”
“And then you kissed me,” he finishes as he waggles his eyebrows at her, the sort of look once more in his eye than she had seen there when he said he had to do ‘that’ more often.
“Oi,” she says warningly, pointing a finger at him. “Don’t look at me like that, mate! We are so not going there!”
“I’m just trying to make a point,” he explains in tones of exaggerated patience. “You say I’m always hysterical and I disagree. I mean, I didn’t carry on after that whole — kiss — thing, did I?”
“Only because you knew that, if you ever even considered mentioning it in front of all those people, you’d have the mark of my hand on your cheek for the rest of your life.”
“Which, if I’m being honest,” the Doctor points out, “suggests that you’re just as inclined to fits of extreme behaviour as I am.”
“It’s my defence mechanism,” she retorts. “Just like shrieking like a girl and leaping about in an unattractively effeminate manner is yours.”
“I just don’t believe,” she goes on calmly, ignoring his interruption and the fact that the hair is standing upright on his head, as if it’s as indignant as he is, “that you can do ‘understated.’ That’s all. Nothing to be ashamed of, I suppose. Particularly not if you enjoy being the centre of attention, which you clearly do.”
He studies her for a moment, his brow furrowed, clearly deep in thought.
“What, exactly,” he begins, “do you want me to do, Donna?”
“Well,” she tries to find a way to phrase this that won’t come out the wrong way, “have you ever been, oh, I don’t know,” Donna’s still struggling to find the right word when something that is miles from what she intended shoots out instead, “romantic?”
“Romantic?” The Doctor’s eyebrows shoot upwards. “With you? Who are you?” he demands suddenly. “And what have you done with Donna Noble?”
“Okay, romantic was the wrong word,” she says hurriedly. “But, I don’t know, can you do quiet?”
“Of course I can!” he exclaims in obvious indignation, although she can’t help being amused at the increased volume of his words, which tend to prove her point.
Clearly he understands the reason her lips have twitched because the tension in his frame slackens and he grins understandingly.
“Fair enough,” he tells her, even though she hasn’t said anything. “But yes, I can do quiet.”
“Prove it,” she shoots back.
“All right.” He nods, rolling up onto his knees, before he meets her gaze. “Anything?”
“Anything,” she agrees. “Just to prove to me that you can do something quietly.”
“You’re on.” There’s a tiny smile pulling at the corners of his mouth and his eyes are twinkling darkly. “But you have to do whatever I tell you.”
“Fair enough.” She nods, and then, as he studies her for a moment, “Well, get on with it, Spaceman. Standing still doesn’t count as ‘something’!”
“Close your eyes,” he orders.
She does as she’s told and then strains her ears to try and work out exactly what he’s doing. His hands come down on her shoulders, and she realises that he’s in front of her. She frowns a little, wondering exactly what he’s planning, and wishing she’d been a little less vague in her challenge to him.
And then his lips brush hers.
Donna gives a muffled shriek, and would have pulled away except for the hands that are still firmly resting on her shoulders, holding her in place.
She can’t help cursing inwardly at the realisation that she’s actually enjoying the kiss, and even more so when she realises she’s responding, that her hands are in his hair, which is as soft as he’d said it was.
There’s also the fact that she’s letting him far, far too close.
She’ll push him away in a second.
Just as soon as he gets his tongue out of her mouth and stops doing — that.
He chuckles softly as she can’t quite keep in a stifled moan and then he pulls away so that she can catch her breath.
“Well?” he asks softly as he pulls back only a few inches, his dark eyes staring into hers, a mischievous sparkle lurking. “How ‘untheatrical’ was that?”
She meets his gaze steadily, seeing the smug expression that is slowly creeping over his face as he thinks he’s silenced her.
“Meh.” She shrugs a little, her expression becoming one of distaste that causes the satisfaction to vanish from his face. “Tastes like engine oil.”
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