It's been a very long time since someone has visited.
Donna hovers by a doorway, peering curiously at the man who has entered her home. He is of average height, nice eyes but truly outrageous ears, and buzzed hair.
He holds some weird contraption in his hands, and he's bleeping this way and that as he points it at random objects: the decrepit credenza, a broken chair. Why is he pointing the thingy at a broken chair?
Regardless, this is the most exciting thing that has happened to her in ages, so Donna moves closer to take a look over his shoulder at the strange technology. It looks like it's cobbled together from an eight track, a wire hanger, a sexual toy (a vibrator!) and a space-age doohikey that is projecting a picture of the space immediately before it. She thinks it's rather interesting, so she reaches out to touch it, and is absolutely delighted when the doohikey goes crazy.
The strange man frowns, shakes the thingy, and then swivels to face her. "Hello?" he calls, uncertainly. "Anyone here?"
"Boo?" says Donna dryly, though of course he doesn't hear her. Which is sad, really, because she's witty and no one appreciates it.
She moves closer to the thingy. It is a vibrator he's got on there! Man, she misses those.
The thingy goes crazy again, whirring and, er, vibrating. The man adjusts a dial and suddenly it's a tiny miniature Donna that's being projected on the screen!
"No way!" Donna says, looking down at the display. "Oh gawd, do I really look like that?"
The her that's being projected is very hazy, the color of smoke. Her hair floats around her, an amorphous cloud of colorless strands. Her features are completely blurred, except for raging, glowing eyes that look like pits into the underworld. "Holy hell, I'm scary as fuck!"
The man jumps. Just positively leaps when he sees her projected on his screen. It takes him back several steps, and he stares at the space where she stands. Well, where she was standing two seconds ago, because she's drifting towards him from the left now. "Holy Rassilon's Underpants, you startled me!" he says quickly, and takes a second as though he's choosing his words carefully. "Not that you're horrific looking or anything. Truly, I've seen heaps of things worse."
Donna rolls what she now knows are scary-as-fuck eyes, and floats closer so she can inspect the machine some more. If she stays to his side, she's not projected on the screen. Satisfied, she sticks a hand out and waves it over the machine. The vibrator starts whirring again, and she giggles at it.
The man furrows his brow at his machine. "Ah, so you're still close. Good, because I came to tell you that a lovely family would like to purchase this place but your, er, energy, lets call it, can be a bit off-putting to the common human. You mind moving on? I don't know, move towards the light or some such thing? You really are doing no use here," the man says, keeping a close eye on his machine.
Donna steps back so the distracting vibrator will stop. She furrows her non-existent brow back at him. As interesting as his visit is turning out to be, just who the hell does this bloke think he is, trying to run her out of her own home? She bats at the back of his head in aggravation, but it does nothing other than make him whirl with wide eyes as he feels the rush of displaced air. Donna blinks at his reaction, staring into those big blue eyes. They really are lovely eyes, she thinks, even if they get overshadowed by those ears.
"Don't get in a snit!" the man barks. "You're done here, time to pass on through to another dimension, or wherever else you belong. You're starting to scare the neighborhood kids."
She grimaces. She doesn't mean to scare anyone. It's just that she has nowhere to go. She hadn't wanted to stick around, really, but she had needed to make sure that her mom and dad and gramps got home safely when those crazy plastic thingies that started attacking people (a store mannequin is what killed her), and then before she knew it she had no other option but to stay here.
Since then, several families had tried to settle into the home, after her family left to get away from the sad memories. Donna liked the company, truly. Could you really blame her for trying to taste the cooking and accidentally setting the stove on fire? Or when the husband of the latest family was having an affair, and she tried to be helpful by spelling it on the bathroom mirror when his wife stepped out of the shower?
Look, it wasn't like she had planned on being the star of "Poltergeist: Chiswick."
"So, shoo!" the man was blathering on. "Nice new family wants to move in and they'd appreciate being left in peace."
Like it's her fault she was stuck here! She'd happily leave this place to the nutso's friends if she could! But is this jerk even giving her helpful suggestions on where she could go? No he is't! He's just trying to kick her out!
Donna swats at the machine in the mans' hands in a fit of real anger. Usually she can't move anything, but this time It goes flying out of his hand!
"Um," the man says, carefully stepping forward to pick up his machine and check that it's not broken. "I will take that as a yes and consider the matter dealt with. Don't make me come here again."
Which is just plain dumb, really, because that was obviously a "no, I'm not leaving," not a "yes, okay, I guess I'll leave my home just cuz you say so!" She readies herself to smack the thing out his hands again, but suddenly pauses, her ire deflating as a new idea takes hold. Where does this one live, anyway? Might not be a bad thing to change her surroundings, and at least he doesn't seem afraid of her. He seems to sense her a little bit better than anyone else, and she can apparently do things around him she couldn't do before, like throw stuff around!
But most of all, she's just gotten so bloody bored. This may be her last chance to leave this house, if she hitches a ride with him.
"Okay mate, you have yourself a deal," she tells big ears, and smiles wide when he tilts his head to the side, almost like he heard her.
The Doctor shakes off the heebie-jeebies from being in that house. Whatever was in it hadn't felt evil, necessarily. More like…discontent. A little bit sad. He had the distinct impression the "ghost" didn't mean to cause any harm.
Not that he believes in ghosts, really. More likely a wanderer lost in the 4th dimension, whose mental imprint was caught in a loop. It happened. Rarely, but usually when inexperienced people messed with interdimensional travel. Their body would be caught in the spaces between, their consciousness locked to the last temporal location before the failed jump. It was sad, but there was little help for it. But a trapped traveler could cause little trouble. He's just glad it hadn't been another incidence of the Gelth, which is what he had been expecting when Rose's neighbors had started speaking about the ghost that haunted the Chiswick home they intended to buy.
But well, it's dealt with now. He has more important things to do than play realtor for Rose's neighbors, and the "traveler" is harmless. He shrugs the memory away, packing the anomaly detector in his pocket and making a mental note that next time he should have it go "ding" when there's stuff.
Matter truly dismissed, he moves purposefully towards the TARDIS, which he left parked in a park. Rose should be done visiting her mum, and on her way back by now.
Almost to the TARDIS, however, he stops abruptly and turns around, scanning behind him. He has the eeriest feeling of being watched – of being followed.
But there is nothing strange in this park. Only one odd pigeon looking down at him from a streetlamp, evil intent in its gaze as it eyes the Doctor's pristine leather jacket with calculation.
The Doctor points one determined finger at the pigeon. "Don't even think about it! I've killed for less!"
The pigeon looks away like the thought of pooping on the Doctor never crossed its mind, and the Doctor hums his victory before continuing his trek to the TARDIS.
Donna, meanwhile, is looking around with great interest. It's been almost two years since she died, according to the random abandoned newspaper, but man, has fashion gotten ugly. And urgh, haven't skinny jeans gone away yet?
Some idiot jogger runs right through her like a big rude moron, and she tightens her hold on Big Ears' jacket so she won't float away. She found out too little too late, after her family left home and she was truly left alone, that if she didn't stay anchored to something she would start to float without direction. It's not a nice feeling – like she's being sucked off into space – so she is careful to always make sure she has an anchor. Her home had been her anchor all this time, and for now Big Ears has that honor.
Now he's walking towards a police box. She doesn't recall an old-timey police box being in this park, but whatever. Except, wait, he's going inside...and it's BARMY! And the fact that she, a ghost, finds something "barmy" means that it is ABSOLUTELY FLIPPIN' CRAZY!
"It's bigger on the inside!" she yelps.
The lights in the place glow bright, and she feels a distinct presence around her, so strong that she turns around, wondering if there's another ghost around here and she's trespassing on someone else's territory. But no, there's no one here that she can see. She carefully lets go of the man's jacket and moves her grip to the railing beside her. With relief, she feels a connection snick into place, welcoming her, securing her spirit to this place. Safe now, she floats towards the pretty blue cylinder in the middle of the room. It pulses softly at her; she feels something huge and ancient and kind brush against her non-corporeal edges.
"It's you!" she says in awe to the ship around her. "I'm sorry, am I not supposed to be here?"
The blue column pulses a friendly blue at her, and she gets the impression that it's okay for her to stay. Donna jerks a thumb at the man, standing frozen and confused by the doors, as if sensing that something is off. "Is that big idiot yours, then?"
The column falls and rises in affirmative.
"He doesn't know I followed him here, but I have no place else to go. Can I stay?"
Another affirmative, and Donna beams back at the ship. "You and I are gonna be great friends, I can tell!" she informs the ship.
Then she floats back to the man by the entryway. "Guess what, Big Ears, found myself a new home now and it's right here! You're my new bunk mate. Congratulations! Ha!" she says triumphantly in his face, and does a victory dance around him that he doesn't have the pleasure of seeing.
There's another passenger on board, someone named Rose who turns out to be little more than a teenager wearing too much mascara, and with a toothy grin that proclaims "I TOTALLY HAVE A MASSIVE CRUSH ON YOU, BIG EARS MAN!" to anyone who has the brains to see it. Alas, Big Ears apparently doesn't have the brains to see it.
She learns that Big Ears is called the "Doctor." Apparently the Doctor is an honest-to-goodness alien, and he has a habit of kidnapping people to be his "companion." It's a quaint word, and Donna snoops around a bit to see if it means companion companion. But no, it really is just companion, as much as Donna thinks Rose would like otherwise.
It takes her days upon days to explore the whole of the TARDIS. Time means nothing to her now, really, and so she gets to float from nook to cranny to her heart's content. It only took a few overheard conversations to figure out she was in a proper Space and Time ship, and how wonderful is that?! She, Donna Noble, on a ship that has ... wait, she remembers this bit …Time and Relative Dimension in Space.
And they travel! Donna hovers by the TARDIS doors every time they land. She likes to move her feet over the thresh-hold, though she always keeps a tight hold on the TARDIS. She's afraid of being swept away if she lets go, then she'd be stuck on some strange planet if the TARDIS left without her. So she only gets to watch, with envious melancholy, as Doctor Big Ears swings the doors wide to beautiful, alien vistas, and Rose and he go off on adventures.
But at least she can keep the TARDIS company, as they both wait for the other two to come back.
Donna also gets to watch Doctor Big Ears on his quiet times, when Rose is asleep and he fights to find ways to amuse himself. Donna has the run of the place, truly, and a plethora of empty rooms she could while away her afterlife in if she so chose, but something draws her to Big Ears man in a way she can't explain.
Also, his bedroom is the most welcoming - painted in shades of coral and blue, with pretty curlicue patterns etched into the antique furniture, and a feeling of lived-in-ness. She likes to while away the time there, plucking at his ears with her non-corporeal fingers; it annoys him and makes him bat away what must feel like clinging cobwebs. She watches over his shoulder as he reads or tinkers with new bleepy things. And she hovers close those times when he just stares off into nothing, for hours, lost within himself. He seems ... lonely. And Donna understands loneliness all too well.
She resolves to let him know she's here. After all, everyone should deserve to know they are no longer alone.
to be continued