Donna smiled conspiratorially at the Doctor as he appeared in the kitchen with the rest of the dirty plates, pleased that he had made the effort to help Sarah Jane with something he had described as ‘domestic’ earlier in the day.
He placed the items on the draining board and announced, “I’ll wash if you’ll dry.” As if to say the matter was settled, he flung his jacket over the back of a chair and proceeded to roll up his shirt sleeves.
She watched the progress of his hairy arms slowly appearing. “Okay,” she immediately agreed to his announcement; somewhat subdued. She went to say something else but Sarah Jane appeared with some items from the dining table to put away in various cupboards. So Donna snatched up a dry cloth.
“Is everything alright?” Sarah Jane asked the pair of them as the Doctor agitated some Fairy Liquid in the bowl in front of him and Donna stood hesitantly by with a tea towel in her hands.
“Fine; we’re both fine,” he answered. “Go and sit down for a while and we’ll bring you through some tea when we’ve finished,” he promised.
“That would be lovely,” she encouraged them, giving them both a friendly smile, and then left the kitchen.
As soon as they were alone and his hands were deep in hot soapy water, Donna went to verbally attack him.
“Why didn’t you tell me the truth instead of letting me carry on thinking Sarah Jane is your mum?” she demanded to know in a low, strained voice.
He contemplated how much damage Donna could wield with the tea towel she was holding. Not as much as the plate she was currently drying up. “I didn’t know you would carry on thinking that. I thought having me laugh at the mention of it would have been a big clue that it wasn’t true,” he bit back.
“Oh, you’re saying that now, but at the time you just…” She didn’t know how to finish that line of thought, because it struck her how illogical it was.
“You wanted to believe she is my mother,” he pondered.
“Well, it fit, didn’t it? She goes on and on about her wonderful son, I come here, you turn up all whatshername and I naturally assumed. I didn’t even know the name of her son before that, how old he is, nothing,” she admitted; and gave another shrug. “I’m just an idiot.”
Her bitter declaration wasn’t lost on him. “Oh Donna, don’t put yourself down like that,” he crooned, and placed a wet hand on her upper arm in consolation.
“But I am!” she protested tearfully. “I’ve made Sarah Jane into a mother and grandmother all in one go, and you a single parent. With all the recent business about the outer space buzz flies I never even thought to ask how you know what you do about aliens.”
“Come here,” he softly ordered, and wrapped his arms around her to give a comforting hug. “It’s impossible to know everything. Well, almost impossible. Highly unlikely at the very least.”
There was a sniffle and a faint giggle in reply against his chest. “Daft Martian,” she murmured.
He used a single finger to lift up her chin so that he could see her face. “I’m not from Mars,” he softly stated.
“Whatever,” she replied, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
Oh he wanted to kiss her in that second! All it would take was a forward movement of a few centimetres; nothing more. Just a press of lips, that’s all he wanted. Okay, perhaps it was a bit more than that; but a tender kiss would be a good start.
He was moving in on her, Donna was well aware of that. She’d been in a similar situation before to know all the signs. Except this bloke wasn’t available; wasn’t even human, if you wanted to drag that fact into it, not that she cared.
“I am every inch a Time Lord,” he muttered.
“Time Lord,” she repeated, testing the name on her tongue. “In that case, is it legal for you to have a human girlfriend?” she then thought to ask as a means to stop him.
He frowned in confusion. “What makes you ask that?”
She threw a cautious glance towards wherever Sarah Jane was in the house. “Because you have a girlfriend,” she replied, stating the obvious. “I think her is name is Rose...?”
It was his turn to splutter that evening. Where had she got her information from? Well, Sarah Jane, presumably. Not that he was pleased that they had been discussing him and his possible love life. He then stiffened momentarily. “She was my friend, not my girlfriend. We travelled together until recently and then I lost her.”
The words and action confirmed all that Donna had assumed about the relationship, so she pushed him away to put herself out of harm’s way. “I’m sorry,” she ambiguously acknowledged his pain. “Perhaps you’ll find her one day. I hope you do.”
What? She was easing herself away from him, away from his embrace and making polite platitudes. What had he said? Had he blown it? Was this it? “Donna,” he started to say, but she was already turning away, switching herself off from his advances, rejecting him.
“I’ll make that tea, shall I?” she brightly asked, ignoring the slight plea in his voice.
Except he knew she didn’t feel bright at all; she certainly hadn’t a few seconds ago but she was bravely pretending that she did. He reached out for her again, wanting to take her within his arms, but they were both startled by the kitchen door being thrown open.
“Mum said to come and help with the tea,” Luke told them as he bound into the room. “We’ve got some biscuits somewhere, if you like, Donna.” He beamed at her expectantly.
“Oh yes, of course,” she readily answered, moving to his side. “And then you must show me what you’ve been doing lately. I’m sure a genius like you has a project on the go.”
“You want to see my stuff? Really?!” Luke stood incredulously before them, glowing with the attention. “I’d love to show you! I’ve got this thing…” And he chatted on for a good ten minutes or so.
“And you thought only you could babble on like this,” Donna whispered to the Doctor at one point whilst Luke paused to draw breath.
The Doctor merely smiled back in what he hoped was a genial way. But he wasn’t feeling genial; far from it. Given half a chance he would have thrown Luke Smith and his interfering science project out the nearest window; but that would have been churlish, and he didn’t do churlish. Well, not normally, only sometimes when he was particularly vexed. Like he was that evening in fact… okay, maybe he was behaving slightly rudely. He was sure it didn’t show, too much.
Or so he thought, until he caught Sarah Jane regarding him with a frown of her own. “Got a problem with my son, Doctor?” she asked as sweetly as she could.
There was a small rub of the back of his neck as he answered, “No, I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure?” she wondered as she leant nearer to him. “Only Luke seemed very keen to monopolise Donna straight after dinner, and she didn’t act as though she was against the idea.”
“She’s just being polite,” he argued. “That’s her all over; she’s a people person, taking an interest in everyone. It’s one of her positive traits.”
Sarah Jane raised an inquisitive eyebrow at him. “You talk as though you know her very well,” she commented.
“Oh, you know,” he bashfully replied. “I’ve seen lots, I mean, got to know her quite well these last two days, spending so much time together.”
“What do you mean ‘seen lots’?” she queried.
But the Doctor was determined not to answer that one. “I’d love to see what you’ve done so far,” he suddenly proclaimed to Luke, and the boy visibly inflated with pride.
“You would? I’ll show you, if you like,” Luke encouraged them, standing up to guide them to his room. “I was hoping you’d want to have a look.”
Sarah Jane couldn’t believe how accommodating the Doctor could be in order to avoid a few questions. Anybody would think he had something to hide; and that ‘anybody’ would assume it had something to do with a certain famous redhead. Strange that.
Donna had just changed into her nightgown when there was a cautious rap on her bedroom door. Half guessing who it was, she partially hid as she opened the door, and smirked when it was the Doctor standing there. “Yes?”
He unapologetically pushed his way in, and then just stood there like a numpty. “I came,” he said.
“So I see,” she commented. “Am I allowed to know why you’ve walked into my bedroom at this time of night?”
He considered that question. “I suppose so.”
“And?” she encouraged him. “Am I going to find out before I freeze to death out here or die of old age?”
“You’re not that old,” he scornfully remarked before logic told him not to.
Donna inevitably hit him on the arm. “Don’t come it! If I had wanted cheap shots from someone I’d have gone to my mother’s.”
The Doctor made a fuss of rubbing his offended arm, scowling at her whilst he did so. “I came to see you.”
“I sort of guessed that,” she pointed out. She sighed in exasperation when he didn’t offer a further answer. “I think we ought to go to bed,” she stated and started to head towards her bed. She immediately stopped in her tracks when she realised that he was following her. “I meant in our own beds, separately, like in ‘not together’,” she carefully said.
“I know you meant that,” he hastily retorted. “But the thing is, Donna, I should really be in here, with you.”
“Not this argument again!” she cried, throwing her hands up. “They won’t...”
A large object thumped against the glass of the window at that precise moment, causing her to almost jump into his arms in fright.
“Okay, they will,” she amended. “Now, what are you going to do about it?”
He beamed at her in delight. “Go and ask some questions, of course!”
“Trust you to enjoy this,” she drily commented when he raced to the window. “What should I do now?”
The Doctor patted the mattress beside him as he sat down. “Now all we do is wait,” he declared, having waved his blue stick thing about for a bit.
“Isn’t that wizard,” she remarked, and sat down next to him as they prepared to wait in silence.
She didn’t remember much after that. There was a vague memory of being held and then laid down, of being surrounded by warmth, but beyond that there wasn’t much to recommend it.
Soft early morning light surrounded Sarah Jane as she appeared at the foot of the bed, clasping a newspaper tightly within her hands.
“What’s up?” Donna asked groggily as she emerged from beneath the covers.
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” Sarah Jane began, “so perhaps it’s best that I get it over and done with, and just show you.”
“Show me what?” Donna sat up and accepted the paper that was being offered to her.
“Page ten,” Sarah Jane helpfully suggested.
So Donna desperately thumbed through until she reached page ten. A loud disbelieving shriek rang out as she viewed the large photograph and the smaller one underneath. “They can’t do this,” she breathily declared.
“They obviously can,” Sarah Jane disagreed. “I’m so sorry, Donna.”
“What’s all the noise for?” the Doctor tetchily demanded as he came up for air. “I was sound-o then.”
Two stunned faces stared back at him before the voice of Donna hit him seconds after her hand did. “What the bloody hell are you doing in my bed?!”