"A Fact Universally Acknowledged"

Genre: Humor, Friendship
Rating: PG
Time Frame: Season Four, AU now

Characters: Donna Noble, The Doctor (Ten), Rose Tyler

Summary: She wondered if this was a purely alien thing, or a glitch in the male psyche all across the board.

Notes: I was cleaning up my hard drive, and I found this little thing. It was written before the advent of "Journey's End", (back while I was still foolishly in anticipation of the inevitable 'reunion') so it is no longer canon compliant, but I do really adore it . . . I'm not quite sure why I forgot about it. Originally, this was a Donna vig for a friend . . . but it turned mushy. I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Now put your phaser away before I cream a cyber-pie at your face! Sheesh . . . you know who you are. ;)

Disclaimer: These things are just plain depressing after a while . . . Nothin' belongs to me.


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"A Fact Universally Acknowledged"
by Mira_Jade

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She had been watching the two for the last few minutes or so . . . and for quite a few days before that.

It was all the same thing, after the same thing; and yet, some part of her still expected something to go different . . . Something had to give, to change, to flow down the path everyone with a working pair of eyes knew it was going down.

"Pathetic . . . completely pathetic," she mumbled as she peaked around the booth at them.

Her glower turned with just a bit of disgust.

And well, could you blame her?

With a sigh, she peaked over the booth's edge again. Just a few paces away there was the Doctor, fluttering about the alien market's stalls with all of the energy of a child presented with with a store full of candy. He was picking up this, and commenting on that - all the while fluttering awkwardly around the petite blonde girl with the scuffed trainers and the blue leather jacket that clashed awfully with his even more awful blue suit.

Rose was watching the Doctor fumble about her with faintly bemused eyes.

Donna, though, was not amused. In fact, she was quite filled with righteous indignation on behalf of her fellow companion.

. . . more indignation than righteous, but still!

Something had to be done.

It had been one month, three weeks, and four days since the the small blonde woman had finished her trek across the dimensions to once again join their time traveling crew. And by this point, Donna had been expecting some sparks, at least. And yet, so far, nothing!

After all of the stories from Martha about the man's devotion to the girl's memory, and even her own observations from traveling with the man, she could admit that she had been expecting something far different. If she were completely honest with herself, part of her (the same part who ate chocolates and read Jane Austen when no one was looking) would have said that she expected the two to run together over the very clichéd field of daises and then melt together. They would have then gone on to have very geeky kids that Donna would have been stuck babysitting, and would have lived happily ever after.

Eer, something like that, anyway.

And yet, while she could admit that her romantic sensibilities were pushing it, she did expect more than . . . well, nothing really. True, the pair were all goofy smiles, and bad puns, and run-on sentences all melting together; but there was a hesitance about it. The two were learning old things anew at this point, and the brittle band of tension that continued on unacknowledged between them was starting to drive her mental.

It was annoying, frankly.

Downright frustrating.

. . . And she wasn't quite sure what to do about it. She may be Donna Noble, Super-temp, but there were times when even she wasn't quite sure how to proceed.

With a sigh, she stepped away from the booth's concealing shadow, and made her way back to the pair, her attempt of giving them some time alone together having failed . . . again.

A few minutes later, while Rose was busy haggling with a Bagorian trader, the Doctor looked over at Donna with a stupid grin on his face.

He was happy lately, she knew, happier than she'd ever seen him. Part of her knew that she should take what she could get with that. And yet . . .

Whatever warm feelings she was starting to have disappeared completely when the man picked up a necklace with heavy wooden beads. The . . . trinket, while clearly tasteful to the four armed alien who had designed it, was reminiscent of an overgrown child's macaroni necklace back on earth.

She wondered what he was thinking, when he asked, "Do you think Rose would like this?"

She counted to ten – twice, taking in slow breaths through her nose and letting them out through her mouth as incredulity rushed through her. The part of her that wasn't mentally smacking her head wondered if this was purely an alien thing, or a glitch in the male psyche all across the board.

The Doctor took in her bewildered eyes and gaping mouth with a confused expression. "What, you don't think that it's nice?"

She made an unintelligent sound.

His stare turned a bit mulish. "You only had to say so," he said a bit childishly.

She fought the urge to smack her head.

"That's it!" she exclaimed. Very determinedly, with a surprising show of strength she tugged on the Doctor's arm, and dragged him around to the backside of the vendor's booth.

"Okay, I'm only going to say this once, so please, for once just listen very closely."

The Doctor look downright bewildered. "You know," he said slowly, as if speaking to a particularly daft child, "you only had to say that you didn't like it. It wasn't for you, anyway."

"Precisely!" Donna snapped. "You're really telling me that you think she would have enjoyed that?"

He scratched the back of his head, rolling the weight back and forth on the balls of his feet. "Um . . ." he tapered off, his voice as unsure as she'd ever heard it.

Her ire melted a little bit. "Do you want my help?" she asked him.

He looked guardedly at her. "Seeing as how your fiancée was bait for a spider-queen, and that serving-boy you liked had a 'significant other' whom you could never compete with . . . can I ask how you are supposed to help me?"

She tried counting again.

"Sorry," he whispered, running a hand through his nut brown hair, musing it more than it usually was. "That was uncalled for, I just . . . I . . ."

She crossed her arms, waiting for him. When the end of the statement was none forthcoming, she supplied, "Have the romantic sensibilities of a walnut?"

"Oi, below the belt there with that one," he mumbled at her, a bit of that sullen tone sneaking in again.

She didn't apologize. "Am I wrong?" she asked, propping a hand on her hip, and leaning forward.

He sighed, and fidgeted. But he would not answer.

"I'll take that as a yes," she crooned, poking his arm. He brushed the offended site with his other hand, glaring at her.

"So, what would you do?" he asked, a bit of a challenge in his tone.

"First thing's first," she said, jabbing a finger in the direction of the booth they had just came from. "Don't ever give her anything like that. Ever."

He looked perplexed. "I thought that humans like jewelry."

She snorted, "Rocks, Doctor. Really big rocks."

He frowned, "What's the difference between rocks and wood?"

"Rocks that sparkle," she emphasized.

"Ahh."

Donna smiled at him - just a little, mind you. "You don't have to start out that high though, I doubt she expects the whole down on one knee, and the flourish of the ring you spent hours agonizing over . . ."

The Doctor frowned at her, raising a brow in question.

She blinked at him. "You've spent how long around humans, you say?" When no answer was forthcoming, she sighed, and massaged her temples gently. "Well, seeing as how that's a long way off, why don't you try something simple – like flowers. Chocolates even?"

"You know, I've taken her to Tavoria Prime – that's a world that specializes solely in the chocolate business," he looked pleased with himself at the memory, and she frowned at him.

"You've also taken me to Tavoria Prime - Martha too. And how many others? Yes. My point exactly. Now - and please don't take this the wrong way . . . Who have you actually bought chocolates specially for?"

He grimaced, as if the thought of the gaudy red boxes and sparkling ribbons was something on par with a galaxy wide Dalek invasion.

"Okay," she said slowly, "since that one didn't strike your fancy, why not something a bit easier – the flowers for instance."

"I will never see how dead, inedible plants will serve as tokens of affection . . . and yet there was a perfectly fine Bajorian necklace that you scorned earlier."

She wondered if he was trying on purpose to aggravate her.

"Your opinion doesn't count here," she informed him haughtily.

"It's my relationship, so why ever not?"

"It's your lack of a relationship that's in question – and since you were the one who decided that a hug and a pat on the back were both perfectly appropriate ways of welcoming back a long lost love, it'll be my opinion we trust." She refrained from stomping her foot to emphasize her point, but just barely.

"And what was wrong with the hug?" his voice was bordering on an almost desperate whine. "I really was happy to see her - really, really happy. Hugs always worked great before – nothing messy about them, you see – not like flowers and chocolates and all of your other silly clichés."

"Oi, they're not silly!"

"Yes, they are," the Doctor insisted. "Frivolous sentimentalities, the lot of them." His look became a little less forceful, the small line of humor in his voice disappearing all together as he gazed at her oddly. He looked as if he were weighing a heavy pro and con war in his mind, and she would have none of it.

"I'm already fully invested in this," she informed him. "You may as well have out with it."

One more considering glance – the kind he only turned on the most vexing of temporal conundrums in times past, and then he let lose a defeated sigh. His voice was small, child-like almost as he whispered, "Besides," he told her, "it's not like we were anything more than good friends before she . . . well, before we were separated. Nothing was said . . . nothing was expected . . . and I would hate to chain her to any ideas that a few good years of nothing but memories may have provided her with."

She looked at him long and slow, weighing the open emotion in his eyes to the simple line of perfectly ordered and drilled ideas in her mind – conventional tokens of affection, the lot of them, and yet, not one of them seemed accurate to surmise the honest emotion she saw before her.

There were a million reasons for him to brush this aside and away, and continue on with the girl as nothing more than good friends. Things like times, and mortality, and too many goodbyes, and too many other depressing things to count.

She took a deep breath against the lot of them.

"You'd be completely hopeless if I didn't know how crazy that daft girl is about you," she informed him, trying to raise the humor in her tone until it drowned out the compassion.

She wasn't entirely successful.

Walking around the booth again, she pressed the wooden necklace into his hands with a small smile. "If you think she'll like it, that's more than my opinion will ever mean," she smirked at him, "Although the Cori gemstones the next stall over would be my bet, just saying . . ."

He smiled at her, taking the necklace with a thoughtful, small grin.

"Just . . ." she added, "don't keep her waiting too long. If I'm going mental waiting, then that poor girl's bound to go stark raving bonkers after much longer."

"I'll keep that in mind." That same light humor. Just as she had come to be accustomed to.

"See that you do," she said crisply with a small shake of her head, sending her hair fluttering around her shoulders in a self-assured manner.

She watched him as he turned to walk off, a small smile lighting her face at the added bounce in his step, and the goofy expression on his face as he wrapped his hands tightly around the Bajorian trinket.

One more thought, and softly she called out after him. "And Doctor?"

He did an abrupt about face, and smiled at her. "What's that?"

"If all else fails," she told him softly, "you can just tell her that you love her."

Two spots of color appeared high on his cheeks, but he nodded, that same stupid grin spreading over his mouth again.

. . . When this was all said and done, she was going to have soooo much to tease him about.

FIN

~MJ