RRAU Prequel
'Void Math'

- 4 -

A/N: This part is set between 'Midnight' and 'Turn Left'. While this is Donna, there's a flashback that has Martha in it as well.

Coming to awareness, Donna rolled over in her bed and slowly sat up with a completely bleary look on her face. Wincing, she rubbed at the left side of her nose, then pulled gently at her hair. When the stubbornly locked sinus cavity relaxed, she snatched a tissue from the bedside table and cleared her nose.

Smacking her lips, she stood and made her way to the loo. After taking care of the obvious use for the room, she opened her mouth to stare at her tongue in the mirror. Making a face at what she saw, she shed her bedclothes; snatched her toothbrush and paste from the sink; then entered the shower stall.

Becoming more awake as she did her teeth under the spray of water, she remembered the look on the Doctor's face from when they saw each other again at the resort and frowned. He wouldn't talk about it, but she could tell that it spooked him... A lot. Even went on to say he needed a holiday from their holiday, not that she blamed him.

That was a couple of days ago, and he'd been mysteriously absent since. Drying herself off with her humongous fluffy towel, she thought back to what Martha told her while making herself presentable for the day.

Messaline left in the future, the trio of Time Travellers were in the kitchen to douse the hurt with Dushanbe Tea: a native blend from Oolong IV, much to the girls' amusement. From the tragedy, Martha and Donna tried to be as consoling as possible. The Doctor lasted all of three minutes before he excused himself – his tea left untouched on the table.

Martha sat back in her chair and sighed, watching the Doctor leave in a purposeful wandering meander. "It's amazing that he still does that, the git." Grumbling, she retrieved the kettle to refill her cup.

"Does wha'?" Donna asked as she held her cup out for a refill of her own. "Abruptly leave the room when anyone tries to psychoanalyse him? Personally, I think any shrink worth their salt would end up in the loony bin after half a session with the man."

A snorting giggle bubbled out of Martha. "Yeah. I just wish he'd actually open up and let it all out. I mean, I know he's still devastated. Who wouldn't be? But, I don't think keeping everything locked inside will be good for whomever's around when it explodes."

Donna started rotating her cup on the table with her thumbs, not saying anything for a bit. Sighing, she tilted her head and took a sip. "He kinda did."

Looking up in confusion, Martha prodded her for more information. "How so?"

"D'you remember when the Thames was drained?" she asked, still staring at her cup.

Martha blinked. "That was you two? Why am I not surprised?" she smirked.

"Yeah," Donna sighed. "That was when I first met him, before he took you round the trolley. Flippin' big red spider lady, wanting to hatch her children and eat damned near everything. He gave her a chance to stop, then drowned the lot when she 'respectfully declined'." She shuddered. "Terrified me. That's why I said no the first time. If I hadn't told him to stop, I think he would've gone in the drink with them."

Staring at her own cup, Martha was reminded of when he stood up to the Daleks and demanded they kill him. "Yeah. He's got some real issues."

"Haven't we all," Donna stated rather than asked.

Grinning slightly, Martha looked up at her. "Word of warning: Don't let him get obsessed with arithmetic."

Donna blinked at her. "Do wha'?"

Sighing, Martha took another sip. "We had a bad bout with some parasitic aliens for three months. When it was over, he hid himself away and started obsessing over some sort of equation for a bit over a week. Didn't eat, didn't sleep... it was awful."

"Sounds like him," Donna said with pursed lips.

Dried, dressed, and drooling for breakfast, Donna didn't bother looking for the Doctor. She had a somewhat light meal in the kitchen, then went to the monitor on the wall – lightly tapping it with an acrylic fingernail. "Oi. Where's Himself got to?"

The Doctor told her when she first came aboard for good that the TARDIS was alive. With how the ship did things for them all the time, it made her think of the 'old girl' as an invisible maid or something. Not that she treated her as such, mind you. The TARDIS deserved a hell of a lot more respect than that. With the way the Doctor and the ship treated each other, Donna looked at the ship more like a surrogate mother for the Doctor. She wasn't that far off in that assessment either.

Then there was the hysterical time when she got the TARDIS to do something for her. That wasn't all that surprising, but the Doctor had been floored when a wall monitor appeared and they had an actual conversation with each other over how to decorate her room: Her talking, and the ship with text responses.

The monitor popped static, then showed the word 'Research'.

"He feeding himself?" she asked. The response was a shimmer on the table. Looking over, she saw a tray of toast with a mug of tea, and a pair of bananas. "Take that as a no, then. Go on, lead me to 'im. Not gonna spend the day searchin'."

After following the overhead lighting for a bit, she came into a rather large room. Looking up, she could see two other levels of the place. Everywhere she looked, she saw all sorts of blackboards. The place impressed her, and she let out a whistle of admiration.

"Donna? That you?" she heard the Doctor call out.

Rolling her eyes, she spoke up. "Who else would it be, spaceman? The TARDIS said you hadn't eaten, so I brought you something." That seemed to motivate the man, and she laughed at the sight of his head popping over one of the overhead railings to look down at her with big eyes. "Thought that'd get yer attention."

"Brilliant!" he shouted. "Stay there. There's a table we can sit at in the middle."

She frowned when he disappeared again, and looked around. Much to her amusement, several of the blackboards rolled out of the way on their own – revealing a path to the table in question. "Thanks, sweetie," she said with a grin. The TARDIS chimed a giggle at her in response.

They met in the middle, and the Doctor snatched a piece of toast before she had the chance to set the tray down. "Oi! Manners, much?" she complained, placing it on the table.

"Sorry," he mumbled around his mouthful. Sitting in an over large chair, he propped his feet up on a footstool and snatched the cup of tea that was calling him. "Ooh, brilliant. Didn't realize how hungry I was."

"So what's all this?" Donna asked, flicking her hand around the room. "Reminds me of 'Blackadder's' answer to 'Campus'."

Sputtering in his tea, the Doctor sat back and laughed. "It is rather twisted looking, isn't it?" Frowning, he sat back. "Mind you, I do feel a little like Baldrick, but I am so close Donna. I can feel it. Just... keep... missing something," he said, completely frustrated.

"Wha's it about?" she asked. "S'not a new tea recipe. Tha' much's obvious." She looked over at him. "So what's with this obsession? New power source? Perpetual emotion? Trying to find out the secret ingredient in that gel you obsess with in your hair? What?"

A half grin went over his face as he looked away. "Rose," he said so quietly that Donna almost thought she imagined it.

Blinking, she looked about the room then at him. "You're still trying to get to her," she said quietly. There was a moments pause, then she saw his head slightly nod. "You love her," she stated.

The Doctor's head shot up with wide eyes at her. "It's not... I..." His hand went to the back of his neck and scrubbed madly while his lips pinched shut.

"I'm not trying to embarrass you, Doctor. Just stating a fact." She watched his eyes dart about, and was completely amused at how his gob tripped over the whole thing. Still though, seeing his look of pain at that pulled at her heart.

Even throughout her bluster over everything, she cared for the crazy alien like he was her brother. Standing up, she took two steps to stand in front of him. "Oh, c'mere you." She pulled him out of the chair and gave him a hug. "You are so rubbish at this! Not gonna kill you to admit it." She heard him mumble something into her shoulder, and pulled back from the hug. "How's that?"

"I'm not..." he started, staring down and to the right. "She didn't..." Sighing, he fell into the chair with a huff. "Oh, Hell. Yes, dammit. Are you happy now?" he asked rather petulantly.

She looked at him in sympathy, then sat down in the chair next to him. "Was that so hard?" she gently asked.

"You have no idea," he blurted. "Don't get involved with companions!" he then shouted. "I even chiselled it in stone about four hundred and fifty some odd years ago! Happened once, and it ripped me apart when she had to leave! Didn't make it any easier when I saw her again later." Huffing, he sat further back in his chair. "It... I..." he stuttered. "Fuck," he finally mumbled.

Donna blinked. "Did you just swear?" Seeing the look he gave her stilled her flippant retort. "Tell you what, Doctor. Why don't we just sit here a bit. Eat your breaky. I'll have the TARDIS get me some tea..." a shimmer interrupted them as a mug of her favourite appeared on the table. "Thanks," she grinned, then turned back to him. "Time ship; all the time in the world; and I want to know about the woman that stole your hearts."

He looked up at her in alarm, but she stilled him with a hand on his. "Stop being so stubborn about this. If you keep it in and don't talk about it, you're going to miss something Earth shatteringly important. People will die, and it'll be your fault because your busy obsessing," she chastised.

Scowling at her because he knew she was right, the Doctor leaned forward and snatched a banana off the tray. They didn't say anything for a while, and it was after both bananas and half the plate of toast was empty before he spoke up again. "Met her in the basement of Henrik's in London," he said quietly. "It was her workplace, and these shop dummies started coming to life..."

Donna bit her lip and kept her mouth shut. She'd actually succeeded in getting him to open up, and was completely floored about it. Leaning on the arm rest of her chair, she perched her tea on her knee and settled in to just be there for her best friend. They were there for hours, while he talked non-stop.

Not once did she interrupt him.