Nearly five hours had passed, and Donna was beginning to get worried. She and Jack had taken up vigil on the upper floor overlooking the med bay. The Doctor hadn't moved or spoken yet, but there hadn't been any dangerous readings on the monitors. Owen had laid some cold compresses on Della at one point, but nothing else had needed to be done.
"How you holding up?"
Donna glanced over at Jack, expecting to see a smirk planted on his face. Surprisingly, Jack seemed sincere in his questioning.
She blew out a small breath, "I'm fine. I'm not the one doing the medical stuff."
Jack chuckled slightly, resting his arms on the railing, "True. But I asked how you were holding up."
Donna rolled her eyes, "And I said I was fine. Are you going deaf, Jack?"
She pressed her lips tightly together and returned to her silent, but concentrated observation of the med bay.
"Don't forget to breathe, Donna," Jack murmured and she glanced at him sharply, ready to scold him for fussing over her again, but he was studiously avoiding her eyes. She turned back to watch the Doctor as he trembled with the effort of fixing the young girl's mind. Her grip on the handrail turned her knuckles white and when she felt Jack put his hand very gently on her shoulder she didn't say a word.
Jack leaned in close to her, "Donna, I know you hold your feelings nearly as tightly as the Doctor does. Fortunately for me, you're much more reasonable than he is. So I ask you again: How are you holding up?"
Donna thought for a moment, and could tell from his silence that Jack expected her to avoid the subject. Any other time and they would be skipping to a different topic, but something in Jack's voice made her pause. As much as the Doctor complained about Jack's actions, Donna knew that he trusted Jack wholeheartedly to keep her safe, even if that meant becoming a confidante. Comforted slightly by this knowledge, she took a deep breath and angled toward Jack slightly.
"I'm mostly okay," she tentatively admitted, glancing nervously down at the med bay, "I'm just a little overwhelmed by it all. Between the seizures and the timeline displacement, this whole thing doesn't feel right to me. It's like I can feel the temporal shift around Della, like I can almost see the pucker in the timeline."
She looked up at Jack, "But I shouldn't be able to. I lost the DoctorDonna when the Doctor saved me."
Jack grinned, "Maybe. But if that kid growing in you is anything like their parents, something tells me that finding a way to bring that back without harm is well within it's capabilities."
Donna chuckled lightly, "Maybe. I think I'm just worried about this procedure. The Doctor didn't really go into detail about what he would be doing. And he said nothing about it taking five hours!"
Jack squeezed her shoulder gently, "He'll be fine. If anyone can pull this off, it's the Doctor. And as I'm sure you know, he doesn't always do a very good job of explaining his plans to anyone."
Donna nodded absently, suddenly interested in the med bay. She felt Jack move to look over her shoulder, but ignored him to watch the Doctor. The slight shaking that had characterized this whole procedure was gone, replaced by a sudden stillness. Something wasn't right, and she could feel it. She closed her eyes for a moment, on a whim trying to see if there was something she could hear or sense telepathically, but she found nothing. Suddenly Owen and Martha were muttering to each other, clanging instruments around. Her eyes snapped open and she focused on the med bay, only to see the Doctor no longer still but in a full body tremor. Instinct propelled Donna towards the stairs, intent on getting to the Doctor. Her body jerked back as Jack wrapped his hands around her shoulders, drawing her away from the stairs.
"Jack," she cried, surprised at his restraint. He simply held her in place.
This time Donna laced the plea with an undertone of a threat, one she knew Jack would hear. When he didn't move to let her go, she gave up all pretense and tried to struggle her way out of his grasp.
"Jack! Let me go! He needs me!"
Jack shook his head and tightened his grip to keep a hold on her, "You need to let him finish, Donna."
Below them the Doctor's audible cry reached their ears, pinning Donna to the spot. She glanced between Jack and the med bay, torn between what she knew the Doctor needed and what she so desperately wanted to do. Another cry, louder than the first, floated up and for a moment Donna gave up fighting and let Jack take her in his arms. He held her carefully as she rested her head on his chest, drawing strength. Determined to not lose it right then and there, she straightened and turned from him with a quick toss of her hair over her shoulder as if her moment of weakness had never happened.
"There's the Donna I know," she head him murmur, pride lacing his words.
She didn't respond, her attention back on the med bay. Jack moved to stand next to her at the rail, both of them watching as Martha and Owen continued checking the monitors, Martha pressing her earbud in to check for any communication from the TARDIS. The Doctor continued to tremble, but the monitors mysteriously showed no change in heart rate. Suddenly he was pulling away from Della, panting for breath, falling into the arms of Martha and Owen.
Jack smiled and turned to Donna to give her a nudge to head down, but instead got a flash of red as she ran down to the med bay. As he watched her throw her arms around the Doctor, pulling him into a tight hug, Jack decided to let them be for a while. Grinning widely, he headed to his office, hoping to catch Ianto on the way there.
"Air, Donna! Air!"
"Shut up you prawn. Respiratory bypass."
The Doctor smiled as he pressed his face into Donna's hair. Rassilon, but he was knackered.
"How long was I out?" he whispered, stroking her hair lightly.
"Nearly five hours," she murmured, not even trying to hide the blatant nuzzling of his neck. She froze and pulled back.
"Don't. You. Ever. Do. That. Again!" she hissed, punctuating each word with a slight tug to the Doctor's arm. He tried to laugh at the statement, but the sight of Donna's trembling lower lip brought him up short.
He didn't know what to say, lost to reassure her of his safety.
"I wouldn't have taken so long if Della hadn't caught me on the way out," he stated softly, stroking her cheek reverently. She leaned into the touch, reaching out to pull him back to her. The Doctor held her, letting his presence soothe her jangled nerves.
"Donna," he whispered after a moment, "How about we call it a night? Everything can wait until tomorrow."
She nodded mutely, and the Doctor tightened his grip around her waist, leading her towards the Hub doors. He locked eyes with Jack briefly, nodding at him. Jack nodded back and herded the Torchwood team back to their stations. Once they made it through the Hub doors, the walk to the TARDIS was rather silent, permeated only by the sounds of Cardiff at night. The Doctor kept his arm around Donna, guiding them slowly back to the TARDIS. Donna in turn clung to the Doctor as they walked, trying to stay as close as possible. After the last five hours, she didn't want to have him leave her sight. It was at the TARDIS door, when he fumbled with the key, having to hold it with both hands to steady it, that Donna noticed how truly exhausted the Doctor was. When they had made it inside, before he could get caught up in tinkering at the console, she led them down the corridor and into his room. Although, she thought as she opened the door and entered, it was their room now, wasn't it?
The Doctor's voice seemed to echo in the relative silence of the TARDIS as she turned to find him in the doorway, leaning on the frame for support. She reached out a hand to him, sinking to sit on the edge of the bed. He regarded her for a moment before crossing the room slowly, his strides belying his lack of energy. Kneeling before her, he took both her hands in his. Sliding her eyes shut as she gripped his hands, Donna leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together.
"Five hours and you never moved."
The Doctor stayed silent, knowing Donna needed to get everything out before she convinced herself otherwise.
"Five hours with nothing to do but think."
Donna locked eyes with him, "Five hours of me worrying for the both of you."
She reached out and laid a hand on his cheek, "Five hours of not knowing if things were ok, not knowing if everything was working."
Her hand dropped back into her lap, searching before grasping his hand tightly once more.
"Five hours I don't ever want to go through again."
The Doctor raised their intertwined hands to rest over his hearts. Breaking off his grip, he tenderly cradled Donna's face, thumbs smoothing circles over her cheekbones.
"It'll take a lot more than that to keep me from coming back to you, Donna."
He rose up on his knees and pulled her down gently into a kiss, feeling her hands fist the material at his chest. He tangled his fingers in her hair, pulling her more tightly to him. Donna slid her hands from his chest to his face, mirroring his former gesture. After a moment they pulled away slowly, still clinging to each other.
"I don't know why I'm so scared," whispered Donna, eyes wide in the dim light, "We've faced worse before. It's just with everything coming back so quickly, and Della, and all of it I'm just feeling…"
Donna nodded shyly, blushing at her little outburst, "I'm being daft, aren't I? Mental ole' Donna, getting all emotional over nothing."
The Doctor shook his head quickly, "You're not being daft, Donna! You're being human, being normal. More importantly, you're still adjusting to being pregnant."
He stood and sat next to her on the bed, taking her hands in his once again.
"I'm sorry for pushing you so hard to come to Torchwood in the first place. I'd forgotten how suddenly everything has happened. It's not fair to expect you to just plough on when you haven't even really had a week to get used to all of this. You have every right to feel a little emotional Donna, no one's going to judge you for it."
Donna opened her mouth to argue, only to have her words cut off by a yawn.
When she was finished, the Doctor smiled and tugged at her hands, "Let's go to bed. There isn't anything that can't wait 'til tomorrow."
She nodded, knowing that at this point she didn't have the strength to argue with him.
"Let me grab a nightgown," she murmured, standing and heading towards the door.
As she approached the doorway, the door slowly snapped shut. She paused, confused and a little frightened as to what closed the door. A small, self-satisfied hum in her mind tipped her off to the identity of the unseen doorman. Sending a questioning look up towards the TARDIS, she reached out, turned the knob, and tentatively pulled the door open. As she peered through the doorway, the Doctor came up and wrapped his arms around her.
"I hope you don't mind," he said with some amusement, "But I asked the TARDIS to keep your closet in whatever bedroom you're in. Just thought it would be easier than running to two different rooms."
Donna laughed as she looked over the space that should have been the hallway, but was indeed her closet. Grabbing an old, oversized shirt, she quickly turned in the Doctor's embrace and gave him a light kiss.
"Just need to change," she said, motioning to the bathroom as she slipped from his arms.
The Doctor nodded and closed the "closet" door before heading over to pick up his pajama bottoms from the floor. Stripping, he slipped them on before searching for the matching top. He was elbow deep in a pile of clothing in the corner when he heard Donna come in from the bathroom.
"Have you seen my pajama top?" he called, digging deeper into the mountain of clothing he hadn't worn in years.
"The blue striped one?" Donna answered lightly, "No. I wonder where it is."
The Doctor straightened and scratched his head, "I wore it last night; I don't know where it could have gone."
He turned in Donna's direction, scanning the floor as he went, "I thought I tossed it here this morning but it's not…"
"Hmmm?" he asked as he checked under the bed covers, flipping the layers of sheets back one by one.
"I think I might have found it."
The Doctor popped his head up quickly, "Really? Brilliant! Where was it? I checked… places… you… guh…"
Donna smirked as he gaped at her, drawing a finger lightly over the collar of the formerly missing top she was now wearing.
"Yes Doctor?" she purred, leaning against the doorframe.
As the Doctor slowly stood upright, she pushed off from the doorway and sashayed over to the bed. Pausing next to her side of the mattress, she smiled cheekily at him, fingers brushing the hem of the top that barely hit mid-thigh. She had to stifle giggles as the Doctor scrambled to crawl over the bed to kneel in front of her on the mattress, eyes wide with unabashed adoration. Her laughter trailed off as the Doctor continued to stare, so intent on just looking at her that Donna thought she would surely burn under his gaze.
Reaching out a hand to lightly trail over her hair and face, the Doctor sighed at the soft textures and breathed out, "Vrayda'Eupaet."
Donna didn't understand the word, though she assumed it was Gallifreyan, but she still shivered at the reverence with which the Doctor spoke.
"What does that mean?" she asked softly, reaching up to cover the hand that had moved to cradle her face.
"A lady of beauty," the Doctor whispered with a smile, "It was very high praise in the common language. And certainly an appropriate description for you."
Donna blushed bright red and turned away shyly, only daring to glance at the Doctor through lowered lashes with a small smile.
"High praise in the common language, eh?" she teased lightly, still blushing, "What about the uncommon language? Hmmm?"
The Doctor beamed, dropping his hands to frame her hips, "Oh that could take a while to say. High Gallifreyan was a long and drawn out affair to speak. Most people just used Lower or Middle in day to day conversations."
Donna ran a hand gently through his hair as she mused. The Doctor's eyes fluttered as he sighed at the sensation of Donna's fingers running designs over his scalp.
"Tell me about Gallifrey," she whispered suddenly, "Please."
She watched as the Doctor's eyes opened and dulled for a moment, his focus sliding in and out as he painfully remembered his home and his people. Realizing the anguish she had brought up to the surface, she opened her mouth to apologize and retract her request when he spoke.
"It was beautiful," he started softly, staring at her intently, "With trees that had silver leaves and grass as red as blood. There… there were two suns that created the most fantastic sunrises and sunsets…."
He paused, clearly struggling to find the words to speak of his long-lost planet. He looked up to Donna, finding a soft smile on her face that was meant to reassure. Noticing the deep circles around her eyes and realizing how long they had both been on their feet during the day, he scooted back to rest against the headboard and gestured for her to join him. She crawled up, snuggling under his arm, draping her own over his stomach.
Once she was comfortable, he continued, stumbling at places, "We lived in a ravine – well, more of a valley… The city was underneath two mountains – Solace and Solitude… Um, the family… The family house was outside the city, on a hill overlooking a river… My father taught me how to swim in that river…"
Donna continued to listen as he spoke longingly of the city and its towering spires, of the years of growing up in the countryside, and of his experiences at the Academy. She let his voice wash over her and allowed herself to drift off, imagining silver leaves, young boys running across red fields, and a mighty, sparkling city surrounded by glass. It took a while for her to notice that the Doctor had stopped talking. She looked up to find him staring at her once again.
"Have I got something on my face? Must be, there ain't much to look at otherwise," she joked with a smile, wondering what was causing him to stare at her so.
She squawked and flailed as the Doctor suddenly crushed their lips together, tipping her over to lie underneath him. He broke off suddenly, his eyes dark and shining as he panted above her.
"I don't know who ever said you were anything but beautiful," he whispered harshly, clutching her hands possessively, "But they were wrong, so wrong. You are Vrayda'Eupaet and so much more. Don't you dare think otherwise."
Donna lay there, slightly shocked at the sudden declaration and possessiveness coming from the man above her. She had never had a man so utterly protective of her before. It was kind of wonderful.
While she marveled, the Doctor pressed their lips together again, twining his fingers in her hair to pull her closer. Luxuriating in the passion of his kiss, she looped her arms around his neck, her nails raking lightly across his scalp. Breaking off when her need for air overshadowed their need for anything else, Donna smiled contently as the Doctor nuzzled her neck, nudging the collar of his shirt over to reveal more skin for him to explore.
She pulled him up to face her, grinning impishly as she asked, "So Doctor, do you like my new nightgown?"
The Doctor gave her a roguish grin in return, the predatory look in his eyes sending a shiver down her spine.
"Oh yes," he replied roughly, reaching down to smooth a hand just under the hem of the nightshirt.
Donna slipped her eyes shut and had to stifle a moan as his hand continued upward, caressing the side of her thigh and hip.
He leaned down, his lips ghosting over her ear, "Would you like me to show you how much?"
Donna opened her eyes and answered breathlessly, "I thought you'd never ask."
He growled deep in his chest and she giggled as he pulled her up and over to straddle him. As he kissed her again, she thought that perhaps she should steal and wear his clothes more often if this was the response she got. But once he started unbuttoning the pajama top, she didn't think of much else for the rest of the night.