A beach day for Donna
"Are you coming?" The Doctor poked his head back through the TARDIS door.
"Ja, ja – what's the big hurry?" Donna grabbed a thicker coat. Since the Ood Planet she had been prepared, who knew where the Doctor had landed this time.
She stepped into sunlight. Of course, she thought, shredding her coat as the Doctor tapped his feet excitedly, a big grin plastered on his face.
"What do you think?" He bobbed to the right. "What do you think?" He bobbed to the left.
Donna raised her eyebrows, enjoying every second of his boyish anticipation.
"Well—," she decided to let him dangle just a tiny bit longer. "Let me have a look first—"
But he had already grabbed her elbow and pulled her to the edge. A sandy white beach stretched out under two suns, a gentle breeze rattled the silver bushes creating a chorus in harmony with the waves crashing against the cliffs. Donna couldn't help it, but sucked in a deep breath.
"It's marvelous!" She exhaled as she turned to him with a big smile.
"Told ya," The Doctor whipped back and forth on his heels in delight. "You demanded, um— well," he pulled his earlobe at Donna's raised eyebrows, "earned a beach stay."
"I did," Donna said smugly and nudged him gently.
He dug his hands deep into his pockets and beamed at her.
Donna turned to him and laughed. "You act like you created this."
"Well, I did," he puffed his chest out, but deflated immediately at her mocking smile. "Well, sort of. Bit of an accident, to be true."
"This was an accident?" Donna stared at him.
The Doctor leant to one side, scratching his head. "Yeah, well. I've been here before."
"Wouldn't have guessed," Donna said innocently, looking back at the waves rolling onto the beach below her.
The Doctor frowned and observed her closely. "You're pulling my leg?"
Donna gasped her hands to her chest. "Moi? Never dared to. Your skinny legs might break off, if I pull too hard."
His face clouded over in a deeper frown, but he broke into a smile as Donna poked his chest.
"Of course, I am, Space Dumbo!"
"Humans." The Doctor shook his head.
"Oi!" Donna creased her eyebrows before joining his laughter. "So enlighten me - what happened when you were here last time?"
The Doctor beamed, but before he could even utter a syllable, Donna interrupted him. "In English, though. No alien-techno babble."
He snapped his mouth shut. Donna crossed her arms leaning slightly back in her 'Yeah-I-am-listening' pose.
"Like on that underground war planet? With Martha and your daughter?" Donna blurted out before she could stop herself.
The Doctor's jawline tightened, all his boyishness gone as he twisted his body to look out at the sea. His lips pressed to a thin line, he looked suddenly old and very tired to Donna as she tried to read his thoughts.
She sighed and laid a hand on his arm. "I'm sorry."
"Me too," he said tonelessly as he stared ahead. Donna kept her hand on his arm until he shuddered out of his memory and looked at her.
"Terra-forming on this planet wasn't planned, not really."
"But you came along?" Donna picked up lightly on his mood change.
The Doctor gave her a crooked grin. "Ah, well, I kind of tripped over it."
Donna's face contorted as she bit her lip.
"—totally an accident," he added quickly as she burst out laughing.
"You stumbled over the device?" she managed to say between a couple of belly deep laughs.
The Doctor stood besides her rocking on the spot, hands deep in his pockets. "It was supposed to go to the neighboring moon. Tell you, though, the expedition leader was not pleased – not at all," he added carelessly.
"Got sacked? Donna asked with compassion.
"The Third Emperor of the 6th Tolarian Empire was outraged. This moon—," the Doctor pointed above to a milky-green moon, "was supposed to be his oldest daughter's wedding present."
"Oops," Donna breathed. The Doctor shrugged.
"Well, in the end it all turned out great. She hated her future husband and eloped with the butler."
"And you had nothing to do with that?" A smile twisted her lips.
"Um, no—," the Doctor tilted his head to the right and then smacked it back to the left in a quick succession as if to clear a kink.
"Well—," he slowly twisted his head back as Donna followed his movements, fascinated, secretly wondering if he could actually pop off that head of his, given his flexibility. Wouldn't surprise her any more, being alien and all.
"Kind of yes, I guess."
"I knew it!" Donna slapped her hands on her tights and the Doctor leant in closer.
"All I said was to follow her heart."
"Of course you would," Donna said with a grin. "So what happened?"
The Doctor shrugged. "You know, the usual. Politics. Disgraced the court, banned from the empire, war with the offended now-never-to-be-husband and so on—."
"But you sorted it all out?" Donna asked, fearfully hanging on every word.
He tilted his head. "Of course I did!"
With relief, Donna let out the breath she was holding and motioned him to go on.
The Doctor wiggled his shoulders. "Turned out the future husband was just after the Empire and had plans in action to 'accidentally' kill his wife."
"Nooo," Donna breathed, enthralled.
He nodded dramatically, enjoying her undivided attention. "So in the end the emperor was so grateful, he engaged me to his daughter."
Donna formed a perfect 'O' of surprise and the Doctor's gaze trailed off to the ground.
"No good, was it?"
The Doctor shook his head pitifully.
"Was she pretty?" Donna asked with an expectant smile playing her lips.
The Doctor looked at her, surprised. "What's that to do with anything?"
Donna nudged him. "Oh, come on now. Was she a looker? Did you fancy her?"
The Doctor stared at her open-mouthed.
"Not even a tiny," Donna made a little gap between her index finger and thumb, "weenie little?"
A big grin smirked out of the corner of his mouth. "She was stunning."
Donna joined his smile in silence before getting serious again. "But she loved another."
The Doctor nodded solemnly. "But—," he screamed slapping his hands together making Donna jump out of her skin.
"Don't do that!" She punched his biceps.
"Oi," he yelped, rubbing his arm, still grinning. "Do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?"
"Of course I do," Donna put her hands on her hips.
"The great thing about the 6th Tolarian Empire is their courting rules," the Doctor said, his grin even getting a bit wider. "The engaged male party, I know," he held up his hands and Donna swallowed her protest. "Not fair, but that's how it was. Anyhow, I had the right to hand her over." He tilted his head with a smug grin, extremely pleased at his word choice and Donna rolled her eyes.
"I gave her over to the butler and they lived happily ever after." He rubbed his right eye. "At least, I think they did."
"Oh, that's nice," Donna, whispered dreamily. "Just like a fairy tale."
"And they got this beautiful planet as a wedding gift instead," the Doctor pointed out proudly.
"They are still here?" Donna looked around surprised.
"Yep, just over those hills," the Doctor pointed to the east. "Would you like to visit them?'
"Love to, but we won't create a time incident or so, will we?" Donna wondered aloud.
"No." The Doctor held out his arm. "I doubt they'll recognize me. That was ages ago."
Donna took his arm. "Let's go, then."
"Allons-y," the Doctor shouted, leading her back to the TARDIS.