Author's Note: Here's the first in the next couple of short stories in this series. Hope you enjoy!
Summary: Rose and Donna have a short talk after Rose and her son move onto the TARDIS.
Timeframe: 14th in the 'Incompatible' Series, takes place directly after 'Words of the Mind'.
Donna Noble is a living contradiction in Rose's mind.
There they are, their second night together, all four of the TARDIS's inhabitants lounging about in the ship's equivalent of a living room. On the small sofa, her son is leaning heavily against his father, laughing at the telly and occasionally looking up at the Doctor's random comments. On the right, Rose is reclining back on the chair she silently claimed as her own all those years ago, her feet crossed on the coffee table. On the left, in the ragged old leather chair is Donna, her feet tucked under her bum, her own smile directed at Jon for a moment.
From the little she's seen of this woman so far, she has exactly what Rose expects the Doctor to like in a companion- intelligence, spunk, curiosity, innocence, and so much else that Rose remembers having in such an abundance so long ago. But then there are bits about her that seem all wrong- she doesn't worship him, in fact she'd be ready to yell at him the moment he steps just a centimeter over the line and she can speak, almost as well as him but most certainly louder. Neither of which is bad, she rather likes Donna so far, even if she's a bit unexpected.
And then there's this other side of her. She seems so comfortable here, so used to the insanity of life in the TARDIS, so used to the Doctor's words and uniqueness. She curls into her chair like she's lived a life in it, watches the movie and ignores the Doctor's comments of disbelieve and annoyance without batting an eye. She's just as comfortable in the TARDIS as Rose once was, and that makes her wonder just how long Donna has been here for.
But, despite how comfortable she looks, she seems equally as uncomfortable. It seems natural for her to look at the Doctor and either laugh at something entertaining he said or glare at him his annoying rambling, but suddenly that natural impulse is spoiled when Donna glances over at her, almost guiltily. Rose recognizes the awkwardness of the situation, the one when your home is suddenly taken over another person that you don't fundamentally dislike, just one that makes you wonder how your life is about to be changed.
A commercial comes on, displaying three aliens that make Jon laugh. They're watching cable from a nearby alien planet, because the idea intrigues Jon.
Donna stands suddenly and Rose hopes that she's not trying to run away from the group. "I'm gonna make some tea. Would anyone care for some?"
"Yes, please," her two boys say almost simultaneously and she smiles at them before standing.
"I'll give you a hand."
It's quiet as they walk a short way down the hall and into the kitchen, and it doesn't stop even as Donna searches for the kettle and finds it in a different cabinet than Rose is used to. The water dripping from the faucet and the flame on the stove and the cabinet squeaking open are the only noises as the water starts to boil and Rose pulls out four mugs.
"So…?" That was all she could think of to say that could possibly break the awkward silence that had descended upon the kitchen around herself and the Doctor's lovely new travelling companion.
The red-head looks up at her from the kettle she's using to fill four mugs. "So…?"
Rose just sighs and shrugs, a soft, awkward smile playing over her face. "Dunno. You're being very quiet."
"Sorry. Don't mean to be, it's just…"
It's something about the way Donna's voice trails off and her head dips back down to watch the hot water pouring out that makes Rose still in her search for some snacks in the cupboard. "Just what?"
"Well…" Donna sighs and puts the kettle down. "You're… well you."
"Last time I checked."
"He talks about you so much… well, not exactly. Recently he has, but before… you had to read a bit through the lines. He just… he's so in love with you that it was heartbreaking to watch him. He speaks so warmly and so wonderfully about you. He's already in love with this kid of his. They're so perfect together- alien thing, maybe. But, em… see the thing is, I know that he might enjoy my company and we're mates and all, but I'm just on this ride to keep a lonely old man company. Which sounds creepier than I meant it to be, but you know what I mean."
"Hey, I'm the one who's sleeping with him."
She laughs, finally some of the tension fading from her face. But then her lips purse and her jaw clenches. "Yeah, that's sort of it. He just got you back. I don't know how long he's been without you, but it's hurt him. And now he's got you plus one, a whole family to get used to. He's not going to want me around."
"What?! He's not going to boot you out of the TARDIS just because I'm back. Personally, I'm not going to allow it."
"You should be on your own. You don't want me hanging around. It's been grand. I've enjoyed every moment… but I was deluding myself when I thought that I could spend the rest of my life on this ship."
Those last words strike a chord so deep inside of Rose that she can't believe she managed to hold back tears. She could see it then, the love and admiration shining in Donna's eyes that she knows she once carried around in hers. "Donna," her hand falls naturally on Donna's upper arm as she says, "You can stay here for as long as you would like. The Doctor and all of this, it's not just for me and Jon."
"Thanks. I appreciate that."
"Of course. Come on, let's get this tea out to our boys. They'll start complaining soon."
"I doubt it. If there's one thing I've learned about Time Lords, it's that they have no sense of time." Rose laughs just as the sharp words leave Donna's lips. She laughs with Rose for a moment before sobering and stopping them just before they leave the kitchen. "Just want to let you know that I don't fancy him or anything. I mean, ew. No offence. But… he's just like… a paper cut, you know? He's just a good mate. Brotherly, but don't ever tell him that."
"Promise to keep that between us. And I wasn't worried about that."
"Just… wanted to make sure."
"But, honestly… he's just a pale, gangly twig of a thing. How do you sleep with that?"