Would you go 'til the end?
"No. No. Double No." Donna turned her back to him.
The Doctor spread his arms, then let them sink down.
Donna glanced over her shoulder. "WHAT? You speechless? No long-winded, spacey scientific techno squabble?"
"Nothing I'd say would change your mind, would it?"
Donna shook her head vigorously.
"If you don't want to do it," he said, burying his hands deep in his pockets, "I'm not gonna make you."
"Good!" Donna's head swung back to the lookout of the observation deck.
"This time it's in your hands. You're the only one who can help."
"Oh." Her shoulders sank down uncertainly.
"Shall we go back to the TARDIS, then?" the Doctor asked softly.
"But we can't just leave them," Donna turned around to him.
He shrugged. "Not much I can do, if you—"
Donna held up her hand. "You don't have to repeat it."
The Doctor strolled over to her. "It won't take long and it wouldn't hurt." He paused, tilted his head. "At least I think it wouldn't."
Donna grimaced. "Reassuring, really reassuring. Thanks."
"You're welcome," the Doctor said with a smile twitching at the corner of his mouth.
Donna rolled her eyes.
"Oh, come on," he nudged his shoulder against hers. "It will be fun!"
"And why should I trust - you?" Donna grimaced over-exaggeratedly.
"Now I'm hurt," the Doctor pulled a hand out of his pocket and laid it on his right heart.
Donna opened her mouth to point out he got the wrong side before remembering he had two and closed her mouth without uttering a word. She eyed the Doctor standing in front of her – eyes sparkling with excitement at the prospect of her being sucked dry. She shuddered and pursed her lips as her thoughts ticked away the PROs and CONs and all the while the Doctor just stood there.
Oh bother, it would be so much easier to face him in a discussion match – these she knew how to handle, there she could stand her ground. Especially with one of his off-world rubbish blubbering speeches – these she could deal with, but this was a new tactic of his. He was bloody just standing there – right in front of her – not saying a word. Not a peep, just nothing. Must kill him, though, she thought with grim satisfaction as she watched him bobbing on his heels. His face remained nonchalant, his hands were buried deep in his trouser pockets again. Didn't his mother tell him how sloppy that looks? An irritating voice, sounding a lot like her mother, rang through her head and Donna broke down laughing.
"All right. All right – I'll do it!"
"Excellent!" The Doctor clapped his hands excitedly.
"One condition, though." Donna lifted her index finger.
The Doctor's hands sank down. "Yes?" he asked cautiously.
"You'll be there with me the whole time."
"Of course," he said sounding almost hurt. "I wouldn't abandon you."
"No gallivanting off – saving who knows what while I am in there," Donna stared into his eyes.
"Um," he rubbed the back of his neck and Donna squeezed her eyes to slits in a staring contest.
A wide smile flashed over his face. "Of course not! On my Timelord honor."
"Glad we're clear on that," she said taking his hand.
"The Humatons will be delighted," the Doctor said pulling her behind him.
"And Gramps," huffed Donna keeping up him.
The Doctor glanced over his shoulder. "What has Wilf to do with this?"
Donna beamed at him. "Think of it – a society built on my genes! A part of me will be in all Humatons."
"Terrifying thought," mumbled the Doctor with a grin and Donna nudged his shoulder as he wiggled out of the way laughing.
"A new race created by Donna Noble! Brilliant!"
She smiled shyly.
"Maybe they should call themselves Donnatons from now on."
"Oh come on," she slapped him gently.
"All you have to do is climb into the tank," the Doctor said pointing at a pool with grayish-green glibber.
Donna shuddered at the thought of waddling into that as she fiddled with the latex-like material of the swimsuit they gave her. "How do I breath in that— um, Jell-O?"
"Oh, it's breathable," the Doctor explained, fascinated. "And your suit is specially designed for absorbing Oxygen while clean-extracting your DNA."
"I'm not getting a helmet?" Donna's voice pitched high. "What if I swallow this glibber?"
"It's completely non-toxic," offered the Humaton Scientist standing with them. He motioned eagerly to Donna to step to the rim of the pool. "It's absolutely harmless."
"Somehow that doesn't reassure me," Donna murmured.
"Well, if you prefer, we can give you protective mask," the Scientist said while his face clearly showed he thought it was utterly unnecessary.
"And it helps with the Adrenalin, too." A female added with a big smile as she handed Donna something that reminded her of an old gas mask. Donna smiled gratefully at her.
"Remember to stay as calm as you can," the female said. "So it doesn't interfere with the DNA transfer."
"Basically, you are telling me not to freak out while being submerged in grey slime?" Donna said, her lips twitching sarcastically.
The Doctor laid his hand on her arm. "You okay?" His brown eyes searched hers and she held his probe for a moment before swallowing hard. "I'll be when it is over."
He smiled. "I'll be right beside you."
"In the tank?" She teased playing with the mask.
"Well, no," he pulled his earlobe, "but on the other side. You can see me the whole time."
"And the mask has a mic and speakers," added the female. "You can talk, if it helps you pass the time."
"Oh, she will," the Doctor nudged Donna cheekily and she threw him a dark look. "Sorry, I didn't even catch your name?"
"Sasarianne." The woman folded her hands in the Humaton greeting.
Awkwardly, Donna imitated the gesture. "Donna. Your living DNA donator."
The woman flinched slightly before motioning Donna towards the tank with a big smile.
"Well, here I go then," Donna sighed dramatically.
"Oh, you'll be fine," the Doctor pushed her on gently.
"While I am in there, you can explain to me how that time thingy converser functions," Donna called over her shoulder.
"The Time Flux Converter. Oh, we won't have THAT much time," shot the Doctor back with a wink.
"See ya later," Donna said putting the mask on as she stepped over the rim and onto the stairs leading down.
"This better work," she mumbled under her breath as she felt the glibber engulfing her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Doctor already leaping down the outside stairs.
"I can hear you loud and clear." The Doctor's voice resonated excitedly over the intercom.
"Just follow the stairs. They will lead you to the middle of the tank," the Scientist advised, eagerly tapping on the flat screens.
Donna nodded fighting the urge to turn around and run up the stairs.
"You are doing great," the Doctor said reassuringly. "You know, just keep your heart rate down. Couple of nice deep breath should do the trick."
"Right," Donna hissed between clenched teeth, feeling her way through the grey mass. The glibber felt astonishingly warm, but it was so thick she could hardly see her feet. Twilight engulfed her and she felt her heart beat speeding up again. Her foot touched the bottom and she shuffled forward.
"Talk to me," she begged, trying not to panic.
"I'm over here," the Doctor said calmly. "Turn to your right – um, no, the other right."
She could nearly hear him grin at her and she swung to the other side.
"Hullo!" the Doctor waved enthusiastically and she smiled before realizing he might not see her face through the mask. "So tell me how this works again?"
"It's a DNA Extrapolator," the Doctor started, but added quickly as he noticed her increased heart rate on the monitor, "but not as painful as with Jenny."
"Good," Donna breathed. "When do we start? Don't feel a thing."
"That's great," the voice of Sasarianne sounded in Donna's ears. "You're not supposed to feel it."
"I like that," Donna said smugly and the Doctor was about to add a 'Told-you-so' but the sentence stuck in this throat as Donna swayed in the thick transmitter liquid.
"Donna?" he tapped the window. "You all right?"
The Doctor pressed his nose against the glass. "Donna!"
She waved her hand vaguely. "I'm a-ght. Ust dizzzzy."
The Doctor pulled back and dug out his horned-rimed glasses. "The setting must be too high." He leant closer to read the screen, but the Scientist quickly adjusted some levels.
"You were extracting too fast!" the Doctor's eyes darkened accusingly.
"My mistake," the Scientist said with a apologetic smile. "The settings were for Humatons, not pure humans."
"Another mistake and I stop the transfer right away," the Doctor stared hard at him.
"It's okay, Doctor." Donna called over the intercom. "I feel fine. Really!"
He looked over to her, not convinced.
"Tell me again how my DNA helps the Humatons?" Donna's voice sounded its usual chirpiness, though a bit off, through the intercom.
The Doctor pulled his glasses off. "In their attempt to breed all illness out of the human race, the Humatons have evolved, but their DNA was so distorted that in the end their bodies couldn't heal themselves any more." The Doctor addressed the Scientist still adjusting dials. "So in the end, they were so dependent on artificial healing that they devoured their resources and now with the new epidemic they face extinction. Unless they obtain pure old human DNA to rebuild their ability to heal individually."
"Is that even possible?" Donna asked her breathing slow, almost deliberate.
"Donna?" The Doctor shot around as she sank to the ground. "Just gonna sit down. So tired."
"What is happening?" the Doctor put his glasses on again. "What settings are you using?"
"The extraction is just tiring the subject." Sasarianne blocked his view of the computer as the Scientist typed frantically.
"Her name is Donna!" The Doctor laid a hand on her shoulder to push her gently out of the way, but she stood her ground. "Your friend will be fine."
"Just a few more minutes and we reach the necessary level," the voice of the Scientist sounded from behind her as he modified the screens.
The Doctor's eyes turned to slits. "What are you not telling me?"
Sasarianne's eyebrows arched with faked innocence. "We told you all we know about the process. This is our first time, too."
"You let me believe you had done it before," the Doctor leant closer. His eyes flashed dangerously from barely contained anger and she pulled back hastily. "Only with animal DNA and NOT with the adjustments YOU made."
"Doctor?" Donna whispered and he looked around. "I don't feel so well."
"But I built in fail switches," the Doctor answered as if to himself. He swung around and nudged Sasarianne aside. "And THEY should have raised alarm flags by NOW!" He shoved the Scientist aside, sending him skidding across the room in his wheeled desk chair.
"Your extraction levels are way too high," said the Doctor fiddling the settings. "AND you disabled my fail switches!"
"We need them at this potency—," Sasarianne started as the alarms went off and the Scientist jumped back to the control screen.
"Get her out of there!" the Doctor shouted grabbing the Scientist by his collar.
"But we need more DNA to produce enough for all Humatons."
"That will kill her," the Doctor's voice skipped with fury.
The Scientist shrugged. "An necessary sacrifice."
"But Donna did not sign up for this," the Doctor glared at him.
"Her life will save all Humatons and ensure the survival of our species."
"This was not the plan," the Doctor let go off him and turned to the staircase. Taking two steps at a time, he reached the top before Sasarianne could stop him. "If you jump in, you ruin the whole batch."
"Oh, I know," the Doctor, shouted back.
"Your DNA is not compatible," Sasarianne wringed her hands. "The transmitter fluid will be contaminated."
The Doctor glanced coldly down at her. "Guess you should have thought about that before—"
"It's too late for your friend anyway," the Scientist said matter-of-factly. "The process extracted too much DNA for her system to sustain." He typed in a sequence and the tank started to empty.
"Oh, you watch me," the Doctor said eyeing the liquid level sink.
"Please," Sasarianne pleaded. "Her sacrifice would be in vain. All extracted material lost."
"Yeah, that's for deciding Donna's fate," the Doctor said jumping in.
With two strokes, he was at her side, grabbed her waist and pulled her towards the stairs. By now the transmitter fluid had fallen to knee-level and he lifted Donna up to break the contact. Her lifeless form slowed him down. "Come on Donna," he whispered through clenched teeth. "Stay with me."
But Donna's eyes remained closed as her head lolled from side to side. He adjusted the crook of his elbow to steady her head against his chest. He could feel her shallow breathing and felt her heart beating, slow but still steady. "You are strong. I know you are," he repeated in a constant mantra as he carried her up the stairs and lowered her gently to the ground.
"What are you mumbling?" Donna's voice came weakly over the intercom and he lifted the mask off her face. Relief washed over him as he hugged her tight to his chest, rocking her gently.
"What I deserve that for?"
"For being alive." He pulled back and grinned down at her. "I was a bit worried for a moment."
"Nah." She tried to sit up and the Doctor wrapped his arm around her back.
"Mmh-um a bit dizzy," she mumbled as she overbalanced and swayed into his chest.
"Whoa, careful," he said with a laugh, nearly losing his balance.
"You're still holding onto me?" came a muffled voice from his chest and he released her.
"A bit snuggly, are we?" Donna said with a weak grin.
"With you," he winked, "any time."
Donna tried to slap him, but had only energy for a friendly pat and his smile widened.
A noise in the background made him look up and his eyes darkened in anger. "You just rest here for a moment," he leant Donna against the railing. "I have an open bill to take care off." He got up, pulled out his screwdriver and deliberately slowly adjusted the settings.
"Doctor?" Donna's anxious voice made him turn. "What are you doing?"
"They went too far," he said between pressed lips. "They haven't changed a bit. Greedily killing the hand that set out to help them. They had a choice." With that he pointed the screwdriver towards the containment tank. Blue light engulfed it.
"Don't. Please," shrieked Sasarianne. "You destroy all the DNA."
"Doctor! What are you DOING?" Donna tried to get up, but her legs refused to carry her weight.
Sasarianne whimpered, trying to get between him and the batch. "Please, not for me but my daughter."
He didn't look at Donna. "They were going to kill you!"
Finally, she managed to get up and bumped into him. Concerned, he wrapped on arm around her waist still pointing the sonic.
Donna fought the nausea as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"I know," she said quietly, gently pulling his hand down. "They were desperate. Just a little DNA was not enough to reproduce it for all."
His eyes were wide with shock. "You knew?"
Donna nodded and closed her eyes quickly as another wave of dizziness hit her. "I figured it out in the tank."
Protectively, the Doctor wrapped her in his arms. "Oh, Donna, why didn't you shout out?"
"There's always a risk involved," Donna murmured into his shoulder. "I wanted to help. Please leave them a bit."
He hugged her close. "If that is what you want?"
She nodded. "They're punished enough by having to decide who gets saved and who doesn't."
The Doctor placed his chin on her head. "So wise for someone so young."
He could feel her grin into his shoulder as she sighed with content.
"Should we head back to the TARDIS?" He asked, not loosing his grip on her.
"Yeah, " Donna said her eyes still closed. "Let's go home."