"London, 2008, ten twenty-nine AM. Temperature a brisk seventeen degrees and there's a slight easterly wind," the Doctor announced chirpily, flinging open the TARDIS door with a flourish. Donna stood beside him, hands on hips, deeply unimpressed.
"And what, mister, is so bloody exciting about that?"
"Erm…" the Doctor furrowed his brow, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck, "The vibrant fashion?" Two teenagers, dressed in identical tunics, leggings and pumps in various shades of monochrome slouched along on the other side of the street, "The unique shopping experience?" he indicated the vast Primark store a little way down the street, flanked by a WH Smiths and a Café Nero, "The gourmet cuisine?" Behind the TARDIS, a branch of Subway stood, the open door allowing the overpowering fumes of grilled cheese and gherkins to waft into the street.
"And anyway," he continued, starting to jiggle on the spot in his eagerness to get moving, "I need to buy some parts for the TARDIS."
"And you'll find those in PC World?" Donna's voice was thick with sceptism. The Doctor smiled disarmingly.
"Oh, you'd be surprised," he replied jovially, "Well, anyway. Have a wander. Shop, if you want. Sample the delights of the rustic local culture. Even pop in and visit your mum, if you like. Rose was forever dropping in on Jackie…" his voice trailed off and his eyes clouded over. He quickly snapped himself out of it, however.
"Anyway. I'll meet you there," – he jerked his head to indicate the Café Nero – "In about half an hour. Toodle pip."
Donna sighed. Since last she'd met him, the Doctor seemed to have got over his initial shock of losing Rose, and now brought her up at any opportunity that he got, just to taste her name on his lips. It was heartbreaking, really. Apart from that, it was also bleedin' irritating.
She wandered aimlessly around the clothes shops, but everything was too young, too tight, too gaudy for her. Besides, the bright pinks and mustards that were apparently so cutting edge this season would have clashed terribly with her hair. She'd almost murdered the Doctor when he'd voiced his genuine envy of what she considered her greatest curse.
But she couldn't face calling in at home as the Doctor had so breezily suggested, not even to see her grandad. It wasn't like she could just pop in for a cuppa and a chat with her mother, because every conversation the two of them had was laden with guilt trips and reproach, and Donna found them utterly exhausting.
Instead, she stayed in Primark, not even attempting to shop for herself. She watched a young woman perusing the messy racks distractedly. Blonde – not natural. Attractive rather than conventionally pretty, with high, wide cheekbones and full lips. Dark features on a strongly boned face, and she looked oddly familiar.
She smiled casually at Donna when the two of them made fleeting eye contact. Donna smiled back automatically.
Bored within ten minutes, she left the shop and mooched back down the road to the appointed meeting place.
Sitting in a booth in the window, hunched over her cappuccino, she couldn't help but smile at the oddness of such mundanity. Over the past couple of weeks she'd seen more and traveled wider than she'd ever done before in her life, and here she was, in a coffee shop chain, sipping half a pint of frothed milk.
The café was packed, and so after a couple of minutes she was forced to slide her handbag out of the way in order to allow someone to sit down in the seat beside her. She glanced at her casually and noted vaguely that it was the same young woman she'd just seen in Primark. She smiled at her politely, raising her eyebrows in recognition. The woman smiled back.
"Waiting for someone?" the woman asked with a friendly smile, and Donna nodded.
"Sort of." The young woman looked a little far away, an oddly sad smile on her face. Donna shifted uncomfortably, slightly unnerved that her innocuous question had elicited such a sincere response.
"Mine probably got distracted in PC World. Men, eh?" she gabbled quickly, needing something to say now that she'd committed herself to the conversation. The woman seemed to shake herself slightly, and let out a little laugh.
"Boyfriend?" she asked, a little wistfully. Donna snorted.
"He should be so lucky!" she leaned slightly towards the woman, her voice confidential, "Not that he even thinks of me that way. He's one of those ones who never shuts up about his ex."
The woman rolled her eyes.
"God, them. They just don't get that you're not interested. I mean, how perfect could this other woman be anyway?"
"Exactly!" Donna agreed triumphantly. Having had no one but the Doctor for company for the last two weeks, it was good to get a bit of venting time, even if it was to a complete stranger.
"And…" Donna carried on for good measure, "He's got the nerve to assume that just because this girl fancied the pants off of him, I must feel the same!"
The woman rolled her eyes again.
"Unbelievable. The arrogance of some blokes."
Donna was starting to enjoy herself.
"I said to him, I said, 'forget it, sunshine'. I said she might have thought the sun shone from your every bleedin' orifice, but some of us have got bigger fish to fry. Besides," she added, smirking, "He's not my type. Geeky looking, if you get my drift."
The woman giggled.
"Yeah, I get you."
"But he thinks he's God's bloody gift!" he continued, "Never shuts up about mating, like he's a bloody tiger or something! I mean, seriously! "
The woman raised her eyebrows incredulously, stifling another laugh with her hand.
"Sounds like a right weirdo to me. I'd say steer clear!"
"I dunno. I reckon he needs me, to be honest. You know what they're like. Bloody babies."
She sighed melodramatically, then caught sight of the Doctor standing on the other side of the road.
"Oh, there he is," she said, waving and tapping on the glass.
But something was wrong. The Doctor had gone white as a sheet, frozen, staring straight at the two of them, mouth wide open. Donna automatically checked with her fingers that there wasn't something on her face.
So what was that expression for?
Meanwhile, the woman had glanced across the road to where the Doctor stood, and she too had frozen. Donna looked at her in concern.
"Are you all right?"
The woman ignored her, still staring at the Doctor. The Doctor who was now running across the road with no regard for the busy traffic. Cars screeched to a halt all around his, but he barely seemed to register them. He ran straight towards the shop and then…
Thwack. Right into the glass.
The Doctor staggered slightly, not taking his eyes off the woman beside Donna, but managed to dart sideways into the entrance of the shop, nearly knocking someone's pushchair over in the process. He snatched the young woman up in his arms whilst Donna sat there, utterly baffled, whilst he gripped the woman tightly, seeming to want to imprint the mark of her body on his own. Then Donna realised belatedly that he was repeating one word through clenched teeth.
"Rose. Rose. Rose."
Well… blow me down with a feather…
Not knowing what else to do and fully aware that the Doctor and the woman, Rose, wouldn't have noticed if she'd started doing the Macarena, Donna retreated back to her cappuccino, utterly dazed.
"Doctor?" Rose's voice was slightly muffled, as if her jaw was being pressed against the Doctor's collarbone, "What's all this about mating?"
Yesyes, another silly reunion fic through the eyes of a spectator. I can't help it! I adore them!
In fact, I challenge anyone who's reading this who wants something to write to write their own. We need more of these floating around!
And, as ever, do review.