"I can't." Donna shook her head. "I really can't."
"You have to," the Doctor hissed between clenched teeth.
Wide-eyed, she looked at him. His face was a mask of polite restraint. He looked over and smiled weakly before he nodded for her to continue. Donna looked at her slightly shaking hands. How the heck did they end up in this mess again? She squeezed her eyes shut hoping to make it all go away, but the Doctor nudged her, looking pointedly at her over his glasses before turning his attention to the aliens observing them.
All Donna wanted was a bit of a shopping trip. Well, actually, she had enjoyed the Spalife on Midnight quite a bit, but understandably the Doctor hadn't been too keen on it. So she suggested a fancy alien shopping centre and he offered the universe's one and only shopping planet. A whole planet to shop – that was a dream come true and Donna couldn't wait to step out of the TARDIS.
Only to step right into the raised weapons of these unflinching aliens. Stoic-faced they didn't even blink at her most disarming smile and even the Doctor's exuberance at meeting these – oh, what ever their name was - couldn't tickle a reaction. Wordless, but with pretty clear gestures, they took them prisoner. The Doctor called it "accompanied guests", but that's not what it felt to Donna.
And shopping planet? Yeah, well. Instead of fancy steel and glass arcades with automated shopping carts following her, there had been a slight miscalculation on the Doctor's side. This was the un-catalogued planet X32Elusive instead of the XC2Elusive – the shopping planet. Minor – no big deal, were the last words of the Doctor as he followed her out of the TARDIS.
Now they were sitting here in this rough felt tent surrounded by stone-faced aliens with no way of escaping and those things in front of them.
"Donna," the Doctor urged, still grinning widely at the aliens. He picked something grayish-sluggish of the platter in front of them. "Think of it as your Earth Sushi."
"Sushi?" Donna hissed. "This has NO resemblance to Sushi."
"Never mind! Pick it up!" the Doctor ordered his grin, forcibly kept on his face.
"Can't you think of something?" Donna pleaded grabbing his arm, so that he nearly lost the glibber. The aliens grumbled and Donna let go of his arm quickly.
"It's obviously their tradition to feed strangers," the Doctor whispered rapidly. "It would be very rude to disrespect that and could mean–" He nodded towards the pile of humanoid bones on the side of the tent. Donna's stomach turned somersaults at the sight. "Our Life vs. their next dinner."
Donna sighed. "All right, you got a point there."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow.
"All right, all right," Donna hissed, her hand hovering over the grey mass.
"Just pick it up and close your eyes," the Doctor whispered. "Before swallowing." He looked at his glibber trying to slide off his hand and popped it into his mouth closing his eyes to savor the taste.
Donna couldn't believe her eyes. Neither could the aliens, they hooted and laughed. Pointing at the Doctor who opened his eyes surprised. The females were giggling, pushing the children back trying to sneak a peak. The elders nodded at each other approvingly and the men laughed.
"What did I do?" he asked Donna.
"Beats me," she dropped her gibber discreetly back on the plate. "But they seem to like it." She grinned back as a very impressive muscle-packed alien winked at her.
"I don't understand." the Doctor cranked his head to look around the hoopla.
The aliens were having a riot – not able to contain their laughter until an elder thrust his solid cane down – three times. Slowly, the laugher and chatter subsided and the elder addressed the Doctor.
"You done honor and bravery to your kind."
"I did?" the Doctor grinned and Donna nudged him in the side – hard. Hurt he looked at her, his head snapped back at the leader. "I did!"
"You did – for you ate the Balrus of Bor."
Donna leant over and whispered. "The what?"
The Doctor smirked. "Not a clue."
"Must have been a good thing." Donna elbowed him again.
"Ouch – I would greatly appreciate it if you would refrain from doing that!"
Donna threw her hands back in surrender. "Sorry, mimosa."
"None of the strangers were brave enough to eat the Balrus," the elder continued and the Doctor's grin widened.
"It was my honor."
A new wave of laughter rifled through the crowd. The elder smacked his cane down again before he spoke. "Not even we eat it!"
"Oh," the Doctor's smile faltered.
"Its taste is said to be–"
"Gross?" Donna offered and the Doctor shot her a dark look, but the elder smiled. "Good choice of words."
Triumphantly, she smirked at the Doctor who just raised his eyebrows.
"Now that you have proven your validity," the elder paused for effect and the Doctor looked at him expectantly. "Let the feast begin!"