The Doctor peers through the atomoscope, tongue pressed against his upper front teeth as he concentrates on the subatomic particles he is trying to gather into the perfect formation. He adds an oxygen molecule here and there, making sure the entire structure remains in balance. One slip, one hiccup, even a strong breath and the painstaking work of hours will collapse in front of him.
Finally, however, he is happy with his work. He can push away from the bench and straighten his aching back. Then he has to carry the dish containing his careful collection of atoms out of the TARDIS without destroying his work, take it over to the indentation in the ground, and then dash back to the TARDIS with only seconds to spare before the ground around him is churned up by an earthquake, burying his creation.
He skips his trusty blue box forward a little over a billion years and steps out into a landscape so vastly different from when he was here only a moment ago in his personal timeline that, if not for his ship, he would think himself on a different world.
The volcano jettisons the rough stone into his waiting hands. Thankfully the thickness of his gloves means that he doesn’t burn his hands.
He hurries back into the TARDIS and heads for the workshop where he has the equipment to cut and shape the stone, as well as to fix it into the gold band. The work is time-consuming and fiddly, and he frequently has to flex his cramping, sore fingers, but his enthusiasm doesn’t diminish.
And when he sees the joyful tears sparkling in Donna Noble’s eyes as he opens the ring box and asks her to marry him, there’s no doubt that it was worth every single moment.
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