Donna's enjoying feeling "connected" again, no longer worrying about being pulled into the ether, and quite curious to get a good close-up look at the Doctor.

Rose and her mum step out and close the bedroom door behind them, completely unaware of the new house-guest Rose has brought along. Donna hears voices outside the bedroom, ignores them, ignores everything but the interesting face in front of her, relaxed in sleep. She'd been close up when he'd changed, but the shock at the entire process had kept her from appreciating the new face. After, she'd been too wary and upset to get close, but now…

He's got freckles! So many freckles. She used to have freckles. Oh, she misses freckles!

She shifts her hold on him, finally noticing his clothes. "You weren't wearing that before," she muses, touching the sleeve of his stripey pajamas. "Who changed you into them? Oh ho ho - was it Roooooose?" she teases. "Oooh, that's gonna be trouble."

Even with the crooked nose, he's handsome. In a different way than his other face. Younger, less stress lines around the forehead.

It's nice, being alone with him for a little while. She's gotten so used to sharing the quiet times with him, the old him at least. When he would talk to her about everything and explain what he was tinkering with. It was very rare that he would sleep, though. So rare that she's proud of herself for braving the loss of the safety of the TARDIS to come watch over him. Pleased at herself, Donna takes a moment to fancy herself a guardian angel, all selfless and magical instead of dead and invisible. Maybe this is why she isn't able to pass on? Maybe this is her purpose.

She resolves to keep watch seriously from now on. No more teasing and wise-cracking, just supportive and kind like a proper angel would act.

With new determination, she takes a firmer hold of his arm, hovering protectively.

She waits. Stares a little at his face. His eyelashes are long, but the very tips are pale. Some mascara and eyeliner would probably look great on him, she muses. Surely guardian angels are supposed to give makeup tips? She could have the TARDIS drop off all of Rose's stolen mascara bottles in the Doctor's bathroom, as a helpful hint.

She waits some more. Sets her hands on his chest to measure the odd disjointed beats. Tries to gather enough energy to style all that new hair appropriately and judges her success. He looks more like a scared rooster now instead of an electrocution victim, so she considers that a win.

He sleeps.

She counts the freckles on his nose.

He keeps sleeping.

Donna huffs and bats around at dust motes.

Why didn't anyone mention that being a guardian angel is boring as fuck?

The screaming and thundering of feet outside the bedroom door breaks up the monotony just as she was pondering changing his crazed-rooster hair into a mohawk.

Donna scampers (unnecessarily, in fact, but it's no fun to feel people trample through her) to the Doctor's other side as Rose and her mum and a boy all pile inside the small bedroom. They slam the door shut on what appears to be a rampaging… surely it's not…No! Is it?!

"That is a Christmas tree," Donna informs everyone and no one, just in case Rose and her mum and that nice young chap she's never seen before - all screaming in fear as the wayward bit of Christmas cheer tries to cut through the bedroom door - haven't noticed.

"That. Is. A. Flippin'. Christmas. Tree." Donna reiterates.

Rose stumbles to the Doctor's bedside, begging gently for him to wake up. She grabs the sonic, sticks it in the Doctor's lax hand.

"You're doing it all wrong," Donna tells Rose, and slaps her hands sharply on the Doctor's cheeks. "OI," she hollers, "THERE IS A FLIPPIN' CHRISTMAS TREE ON THE ATTACK!"

The Doctor's brow furrows, and he murmurs unintelligibly. Rose redoubles her efforts to wake him. She leans in close and whispers sweetly, "Help me."

But Donna looms closer, snags his hair, and shouts. "WAKE THE FUCK UP OR EVERYONE'S GOING TO DIE."

She's just about to qualify that statement with a quick "except for me," when he bolts upright in bed, wide awake, staring at nothing. "But I don't know if I'm ginger yet," he warbles, his hand going up to tentatively touch where Donna is "gripping" his hair.

Thankfully, he focuses on the homicidal tree, points the sonic, and easy peasy it falls silent. Just a sad, wilting piece of Christmas frippery once more.

"Why don't you just teach your 'companions' how to use that?" whines Donna, hooked to the Doctor's sleeve. "You'd save on so many theatrics.".

"There's 6401 settings and 3290 subsettings. They'd never know which to use." The Doctor swings into motion again, kicking off the covers and racing down the hall, so startingly quick that Donna imagines little cartoon "yoink!" noises being made as she's dragged along behind him.

They pile onto the walkway overlooking the street and a trio of Santas.

Creepy Santas are creepy. "Yikes! What the fuck are those?" Donna asks. "See, this is why I don't like Christmas."

"Pilotfish," hisses the Doctor, raising his sonic imperiously as the Santas back away and then - to Donna's delight - disappear in a proper alien-like beam. The Doctor starts rambling about something or other. Donna has a bad habit of tuning out during the exposition, but can you blame her? She's outside! Seeing new stuff like disappearing aliens, with no threat of floating away, the Doctor serving as her nice stable anchor.

As the Doctor complains and says he was woken too early, Donna gets a good look at Rose's young male friend. Oh, isn't he a cutie! So much better suited for Rose, too, in Donna's opinion. Not that anyone's had the good sense to ask her.

Donna's attention is dragged away when the Doctor vomits up more gold sparkles, and faints dead away again. " Seriously?" complains Donna. "Are you wearing a corset or somethin' under those pjs? You're worse than a maiden aunt in a romance novel."

And that's the end of her getting to explore outside, since the Doctor is hauled up by his motley crew and taken back to the TARDIS.

She and the Doctor are back in the TARDIS. There's probably super interesting alien events going on outside but no, she's stuck in here while the Doctor lays about like a bloody sleeping beauty. Rose's mum dropped off a thermos of tea and everyone marched off to save the world while she, ghostly Donna, is left behind to stare some more at a sleeping Doctor.

"I renounce being your guardian angel," proclaims Donna to an unconscious Doctor. "It's not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be."

The TARDIS makes a chiding little creak at her and Donna's lips turn down in a guilty frown.

"I know. I know it's not his fault. It's just, I feel so useless!" she despairs, and kicks out at the thermos on the floor.

It tips over, fragrant tea spilling out and through the grated floor.

"Oops." Donna grimaces and casts a quick look at the TARDIS console, embarrassed at making a mess. That's gonna suck to clean up. Did the TARDIS notice? If they get ants, Donna's gonna be in so much trouble!

She's huddled down to peer into the grating, watching the tea drip onto what looks like pretty important wires, when the Doctor suddenly sits up with a great gasping breath.

"AAACK!" screams Donna, startled, and flies back.

The Doctor takes another deep breath, looks around wildly until he spots the thermos, and then chugs what's left in the container. Finished, he runs out of the TARDIS with nary a bye-your-leave..

Quiet reigns for a moment.

"Er…yeah, that was my plan all along," Donna informs the TARDIS.

Presumably, the Doctor and Rose do something heroic, judging by the Doctor's swagger as they re-enter the TARDIS much later. The Doctor is waving a rapier about, making grand gestures and looking smug.

"And what time do you call this, then?" nags Donna, channeling her mother's frostiest tones. She's been worrying for ages!

Of course, she's ignored. The Doctor and Rose begin to have a somewhat serious discussion about this new face of his, and how he can't change back even if she wanted him to. Donna's seen the way Rose has eyed this Doctor's arse, so she can't imagine Rose wants him to change back that badly. Overall, Donna's getting rather bored by the pretense of it all, so she floats to Doctor and snags his (depressingly normal) ear. "She's not that upset; stop humoring her."

"The change can be difficult for some to adjust to," the Doctor explains.

"She likes your tight bum and your new fancy hair. Don't worry so much about it," Donna advises.

"Really, Donna, you can't simplify a change as complicated as a regeneration into a 'tight bum and fancy hair'," he chides.

"You can if you're a 19-year old, horn-" Donna freezes, her brain processing what he just said. Did he just…?!

"You can hear me!" she shrieks.

The Doctor jumps, grimacing. "Of course I can, you're shouting right in my ear!"

"No, Doctor…YOU CAN HEAR me!"

"I just said I cou-" that mobile face contorts in shock, before a wide smile flashes across it. "I can! I can hear you perfectly. I've been hearing you. ROSE, I can hear Donna!"

"I was kind of figuring that out," says Rose.

"Can you hear her?" he turns to Rose, excited.

"No. Not a thing,"

The Doctor frowns, until he registers the cold sensation on his ear, and an idea forms. "Maybe it's tactile. Donna, go touch Rose."

"Uh, I don't really like being touched by ghosts - no offense - so I'd rather…Oh, okay, here we go, then," shivers Rose as Donna grabs Rose's cheek despite her protests, and the familiar cobwebby feeling settles over Rose.

"You really only need two coats of mascara, and you should always wash your face before bed," intones Donna.

Rose stares off at the Doctor, bemused and silent.

"Anything?" queries the Doctor.

"Nope. Just…cobwebs and cold and I…I really don't like it, please let go now Donna."

Donna does so, crestfallen.

"Hmmmm. I didn't hear anything either. Which at least answers my question about proximity and-"

"But you can hear me, right!?" demands Donna, latched back onto the Doctor's arm. He recoils at the volume of it.

"There you are! Yes, I can hear you."

Donna grasps desperately tighter. "Loud and clear, right?"

"As a whistle."

"You can hear me?" whispers Donna once more, this time soft and tremulous.

"Yes Donna," the Doctor replies slowly. Understanding, deep and caring, settles in the Doctor's eyes as he gazes at where he thinks she stands. "You are heard."

She doesn't stop talking. Sentences string together with no rhyme or reason. She moves from his collar to his arm to his shoulder, a flurry of words following in the Doctor's wake as he moves within the dressing room.

And Donna doesn't plan to stop talking. She tells him about her family, about how she was a temp, about how her death interrupted a budding romance with a man named Lance. She rattles on about her favorite rooms in the TARDIS, insults how he takes his tea, recommends he wear eyeliner, and in general goes on …and on…and on.

She figures the Doctor tuned her out ages ago. She would have tuned him out after the first 5 minutes. But she hasn't had a person listen to her in ages, and she can't seem to shut her gob.

"And then the TARDIS said-"

The Doctor pauses in the midst of wrapping a huge scarf around himself. "The TARDIS talks to you?"

Donna pauses at the realization that he has, in fact, been listening. Something a bit warm and embarrassing blooms in her heart at that. She counters it with a brash, "What, doesn't she talk to you? Maybe if you didn't hit her with a mallet she wouldn't give you the silent treatment."

The Doctor grins at his reflection. "Oh, she talks to me. I just never knew she could talk to anyone else. What does she sound like to you?"

Donna swirls away to peek at a nearby stack of shoes. "I dunno, like - like bells and whispers and creaks that somehow make sense."

The Doctor frowns around him. "Did you let go? You can't let go, Donna."

Donna rolls her eyes at herself. It's easy to forget. She comes back and latches on to his shoulder. "This is going to be awkward when you go to the loo," she declares.

He whirls, forgetting he can't actually see her. "You are still not allowed to follow me into the loo! No showers!"

In direct contradiction to his "no showers" rule, he seems to have no qualms about standing in font of her in just his pants, turning this way and that in front of a grand mirror as he admires his new form. "Now at least make yourself useful and help me pick something out."

She's happy to help. And based on what he's tried on so far, he needs it! She zooms in and out of clothing racks, taking pleasure in watching the clothing flutter in her wake.

The Doctor slides on an orange jumpsuit that looks distressingly like he may have escaped prison. He glances at a swaying rack of clothing from the corner of his eye, while buckling a sparkly belt around his slim waist. "What do you think?"

She returns so she can thump him upside the head. They both watch his hair ruffle slightly. "There's your answer," she says, inordinately proud of her enhanced "powers." If you can call ruffling hair and disturbing clothing a power, anyway.

The Doctor grabs a truly awful coat from a rack, and proceeds to slip his arms through it. "Oooh, I like this one! Old favorite," he preens.

"No," says Donna unequivocally, and starts to pull at his collar.

A kind of awkward tug of war ensues, with the Doctor trying to smooth the collar flat, and it immediately rumpling out of shape as invisible hands try to pluck it away. With a sigh, he gives up and discards it.

"Happy now?"


"Then what do you suggest, since you seem to consider yourself an expert," he grouches at her, sounding so much like his old self that Donna smiles.

"Pretty much anything but that horrible coat," she says, and zooms to a rack she recently disturbed. She finds the item she likes, concentrates, and pushes all her energy at the garment. It swings widely, out of line with the rest of the clothing.

"Pinstripes?" queries the Doctor, surprised. "All right, I'll try it. Mind, I'm just humoring you."

Of course, a minute later he's back to preening, pleased with the slim lines of the tailored suit. He smooths his hair back, unused to having quite so much of it after his last self. He strikes a pose. He does look…quite dapper, doesn't he?

"Nope," disagrees Donna, as though she can sense when he's feeling too pleased with himself. She concentrates and then pulls his hair all at once, so it stands on end like a ruffled chicken once more.

"Donna!" the Doctor pats it back down but Donna likes these new skills she has somehow picked up - she likes them very, very much. So she grins evilly and pulls his hair up again.

"You look like an evil lawyer when you wear it back," she complains, keeping a firm hold on his hair.

"I do not! I look distinguished."

"Do too. In fact, you're one tie-pin away from resembling aHarry Potter villain. Trust me, you want your hair to stick up. All the kids are doing it."

"Well, when you put it that way. I am on the young side this time, aren't I? At my prime!" He primps a bit more.

"Oh, gawd. You turned up vain. Vainer. Just what we all needed," mutters Donna.

The Doctor harrumphs at Donna, and makes a few final adjustments. Content, he saunters out, new clothes and new hair and new attitude.

Donna watches him go with a fond smile, before looking around at the mess he's left behind. So many interesting outfits in this huge space. She itches to try them on, to actually feel the fabric beneath her hands, not just the dulled down impression she experiences. Even if she's able to move more things now, it still feels like she's touching everything through glass.

She doesn't want to miss Rose's reaction to the newly-suited Doctor, but she does take one last moment to peer into the large mirror the Doctor was using before. There's nothing there, of course. She still doesn't cast a reflection. And she's starting to forget what she looks like. Is that a bad sign?

Her good mood lags for a moment, but then she reminds herself of all she has gained: a true voice and a bit more control over her environment. And it's so much more than she had just a day ago. And maybe the Doctor did see her, for a little bit, those two times. Perhaps one day he'll be able to see her again.

Maybe one day she'll be able to see herself.

to be continued