Her use of his name -- title, whatever -- was enough to get his attention. Usually it was "Space Man" or "Time Boy" or "Martian" or "you dumbo". He'd pretty much given up trying to get her to stop calling him any of the above. For one thing, they weren't nearly as bad as some of the names people had for him; and for another, he had come to realize that for her, they were a mark of affection. Probably. He hoped. Maybe all her friends had little insulting Donna-nicknames and thought nothing of them.
"Hvagh?" he mumbled inquiringly, around the sonic screwdriver, which happened to be in his mouth at the moment. He'd put it there because both hands were busy soldering together a new piece of circuitry for the helmic regulator, while nearby Donna was sorting through a box she'd dragged out of one of the storage closets, having gotten a bee in her bonnet recently about what she called "spring cleaning". Just an excuse to snoop, if you asked him, but of course, being the genius he was, he was smart enough not to say so. And really, it wasn't as if he minded, anyway. It kept her busy.
The Doctor glanced over to where she sat on the floor before the box and the piles of stuff she'd already taken out of it. She was holding up...well, something.
"Hih-mee-a-heh-hunh." He focused on the soldering again. Just one more connection...
Done. He carefully placed the soldering iron in its holder, and took the sonic screwdriver out of his mouth. "I said, give me a second. Rather delicate work, this." Forcing himself not to hurry, he sonic'ed a couple of wires together, decided he was at a reasonable stopping point, then reached for the...thing.
She put it in his hand, and he held it up. Where were his glasses? Oh yes, he was wearing them. A little far-sighted, this incarnation. But the taste buds were molto bene, so with that and the hair and the overall devilish good looks, it was a fair trade.
"Well?" Donna was watching him expectantly.
"Well...um...it's...purple." It was. It was also about the size of his palm, sort of egg-shaped, glossy and smooth, without any buttons or bumps or protrusions that he could discern. That was about all he could fathom about it offhand.
She gave him a patented Donna eyeroll. "I can see that, Space Man. What is it, aside from being purple?"
Ah. Back to Space Man, then. He slid the glasses to the end of his nose, and leveled his gaze at her over the frame. "Touching as your faith in me is, Donna, believe it or not, there are still some things in this universe that even I don't know. How to make the perfect chocolate soufflé. Why fools fall in love. Where the Lost Moon of Poosh went..."
"...How to answer a simple question without turning it into a lecture," she finished, taking the...thing...back from him and examining it, turning it over and over in her hands. "Thanks loads, Space Man."
"Glad to be of service," he shrugged, picking up the soldering iron again.
It took a few minutes, but finally, as he'd been sure it would, the memory crossed his oh-so-mighty Time Lord brain, and he nearly burned his hand on the iron as he let out a sudden bark of laughter.
She glared at him suspiciously. "What's so funny?"
"Oh, nothing. I just remembered what that...thing is, that's all."
Donna picked it up again from where she had laid it aside. "Well?"
The Doctor smirked at her. "And I'm not going to tell you."
"What?" Oh, if looks could kill, he'd be into his eleventh body right about now. Possibly past that one and on to the twelfth.
"Well, if I told you, where would the fun be for you?"
"Aagh!" she groaned. "I hate it when you go all Martian on me."
He put the iron back in its holder. "You don't give yourself nearly enough credit, you know. You're an intelligent woman, you can figure it out. Let me know when you do." Then again, she probably wouldn't have to tell him. He'd know. The thought made him suppress a snigger.
Donna pursed her lips at him, but the glint in her eye told him that she accepted the challenge. "Fine. You're on. Wait a minute, it's not going to explode or hypnotize me or hatch out an alien lizard baby or anything, is it?"
What fertile imaginations humans had. "Donna, that...thing has been sitting in that box for at least a century and nothing's happened. I assure you, it's completely harmless."
"Well, at least tell me where you got it, or is that against the rules?"
"No, I can tell you that much. It's from Hyperion Five. Nice little planet, has some of the best curio markets in the Kestra spiral. Tell you what, when you've worked it out, I'll take you there."
Something else occurred to him -- something he'd better do, something that on Earth would be called "covering his arse". "Oh, and Donna, just so you know, it wasn't me who bought it. It was Peri. Someone who used to travel with me."
She'd thought it was pretty. She'd kept it on a high shelf in her room, on a little base, right between a stuffed penguin and a photo of her mum. And the fact that she never had the slightest clue of what it really was had caused the Doctor no end of secret amusement. He'd been thinking of finally telling her, just to see the look on her face (he'd been a bit of a bastard, that incarnation), but then they'd landed on Thoros Beta, and, well...anyway.
A few nights later, as he was doing some more tinkering while Donna was supposedly asleep, he heard a faint sound reverberating through the TARDIS, a sound somewhere between a moan and a scream. She'd figured it out.
He wasn't sure what he should do when he saw her. Give her a thumbs up? A gold star? Laugh his head off and tease her for days? Ask if he could watch next time?
The Doctor snorted as he went to look up the coordinates for Hyperion Five. Though it wasn't as if he'd need to hurry.
He had the feeling Donna wasn't going to be coming out of her room for a pretty good while.