He hears the voice on the periphery of his attention and has no time to give it the attention he suspects it probably deserves. Grunting a non-committal reply — it’s difficult to speak with a cable clenched between his teeth — he keeps his eyes fixed on the monitor showing the results of the tests he’s running.
“What’s the matter?” the voice persists, and he finally deigns to look up.
Donna is standing on the threshold of the console room, her hands on her hips, regarding him with a curious look.
“What’s the matter?” he echoes in disbelief.
Unfortunately he has forgotten to remove the cable from his mouth and so his indignant statement is a mumble that Donna greets with an arched eyebrow. As he rather sheepishly takes the cable out from between his teeth, she crosses the console room to stop beside him and reaches out a hand to stroke the softly glowing core.
“There now, sweetheart,” she says gently, and it takes him a moment longer than it really should to realise that she’s talking to the TARDIS and not him. “What’s that nasty man done to you?”
“What have I...” he squawks indignantly. “I haven’t done anything! She did it all herself!”
“Then why haven’t you fixed it?” she demands, glaring at him so that he actually takes a step backwards before remembering that this is his TARDIS and he shouldn’t be allowing himself to be cowed in such a way.
“Because,” he says from between gritted teeth with all the patience he can muster, “she won’t tell me what the problem is.”
“Frankly, considering how liberal you are with the mallets, I don’t blame her!” she retorts.
“Only when she’s not behaving,” he complains, wondering just when he had to start justifying the way he treats his own time-machine.
To avoid any further argument, he ducks down beneath the console again, checking the wires to make sure they’re fixed in properly. Spark plugs are fine. Switches are working properly. No stray unplugged cables. Nothing, in short, wrong at all.
Even more perplexed than ever, he pulls himself out from beneath the console and frowns at the core, one hand scratching his head and the other resting on his hip.
He is, therefore, absolutely and definitely not touching any part of the TARDIS console when the lights on the entire thing flicker and die in unison.
The yell that cuts through the air would have scared Donna if she hadn’t been expecting it. As it is, she simply smirks and presses a button.
Even as the Doctor is lunging towards her, he is stopped in his tracks as the lights around the console flicker on again. The TARDIS even gives a satisfied hum. What’s more, the dull click that had first attracted his attention is also gone. The scanner flares into life. Everything back to normal.
Brought up short, he stares at his companion, mouth agape. “Wh-what,” he stutters, “did you do?”
Donna looks undeniably smug as she slides her hands into the pockets of her pants and leans against the console. “I did what you always get told to do when you call the IT department for help at work,” she tells him.
“And what’s that?” he demands, trying to think how it’s possible to parallel primitive Earth technology with that from Gallifrey, which is so many millennia ahead.
“It’s obvious.” Donna points out a button that the Doctor is certain he has never seen before. “Turn it off,” she says calmly, “and turn it back on again.”
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