Title: Life Lessons
Author: Lilac Summers
Rating: PG

Author's notes: I keep finding myself writing in Amy's POV. Dunno, maybe it makes me like her a smidge (tiny smidge, that is) more? Also, I think it would be fascinating to watch Donna and Eleven in action. Anywho - this is the story of Donna returning to the TARDIS, mid season 5. General freakouts occur all around. Prequel to His Universe.

Amy's growing up.

She realizes this when she has the epiphany that not everything is about her.

Wow, shocker.

It starts with Amy standing in the TARDIS control room, quiet and out of the way, watching the Doctor and Rory fawn over somebody else. Well, not "fawn" so much as "try to make sure she doesn't die some strange horrible death."

Still, from where Amy is standing, it looks suspiciously like fawning.

The Doctor has the sonic screwdriver out; it's been over ten minutes and he still hasn't stopped scanning the new passenger sitting on the jump seat, even amongst the loud demands to "quit!"

Rory is doing his nurse!Rory routine, taking the woman's pulse, shining a light in her eyes. The redhead is just barely keeping herself from verbally abusing him same as she's doing the Doctor; Amy figures that's because she's barely met Rory and is trying to be polite. But her voice is raising in volume and she's throwing out shrill cease and desist orders as though she expects to be obeyed, and speedily.

And that's the thing, ain't it? She, Amy Pond, is the resident bossy redhead. That position is filled, thank you very much; the TARDIS doesn't need another mouthy ginger trying to edge in. And those are her boys, her poncho boys! (even if the ponchos are absent right at the moment) - she does not recall giving them permission to fawn quite so enthusiastically over anyone else.

After several months of being the center of attention, Amy is not used to being summarily ignored. So why, she asks herself, the hell am I standing all the way over here and not in the thick of things?

The answer: because the new redhead's name is Donna and when the Doctor saw her it was as if a mask fell away and Amy was seeing the Doctor's face for the very first time.

Which finds Amy Pond on the outskirts, looking on. Waiting for her boys to remember she's there.

Finally, Donna reaches the end of her (limited) patience. Amy is a fellow redhead; she knows these things. Rory, originally understandably concerned when the Doctor mentioned something about "exploding brains," declares that Donna doesn't seem to be oozing grey matter from her ears. He, not being a redhead but having those ingrained instincts that nurses everywhere seem to have (the ones that save them from projectile vomiting or angrily-thrown bedpans) backs away slowly until he's beside Amy once more.

Ha! thinks Amy, one poncho boy down.

The Doctor - also not a redhead and sadly lacking the nurse survival instinct - continues to scan an increasingly violent Donna until she manages to successfully smack the sonic away and roars, "STOP BLEEPING ME, SPACEMAN!"

"DONNA NOBLE," he roars right back, all Oncoming Storm-y. "You will let me scan you until I'm sure your brain isn't exploding, and if that takes all day you will sit there like a good little girl and BLOODY LIKE IT!"

Stunned silence fills the console room. Even the TARDIS' constant hum goes on mute. Amy has never seen the Doctor actually lose his temper enough to curse and/or shout at anyone. Apparently, Donna's not used to it either because her mouth is opening and closing like a brightly-colored landed fish.

"Did you...did you just shout at me? And...and call me a little girl?" she asks in disbelief.

The Doctor sets his jaw and determinedly goes back to sonicking.

Donna's lips purse into a stubborn pout but she doesn't try to smack the Doctor's screwdriver away again, smart woman. "Least I'm not the one who regenerated into a teenager," she mutters, needing the last word. Pause. "And your hair is still stupid."

If the Doctor clenches his jaw any harder, he's going to chip a tooth, Amy muses. That would just be a shame; he has lovely teeth.

Then Amy is back to watching another boring 5 minutes of yawn-inducing scanning, but at least Rory is beside her now to share in the boredom.

Blessedly, the 'whir whir whir' of the sonic finally stops, the Doctor finishing kneeling at Donna's feet. Marvelous, now we know Donna's feet won't explode either. Color her ecstatic.

Donna must be having similar thoughts. "Satisfied then?"

The Doctor looks up at Donna, Donna looks down at him, when suddenly all that scary determined purpose seems to drain out of the Doctor and his shoulders sag limply and he's burying his head in Donna's lap and wrapping his long arms around her hips so tightly that Donna is edged forward on the jump seat and oh my god Amy thinks he might be crying.

It takes a beat, but then Donna is fisting her hand in his 'stupid' hair and folding over him as if she might shield him from the universe.

They're having a friggin' honest-to-god, straight-from-the-films moment. Amy blindly reaches for Rory's hand, blinking and swallowing back foolish sentimental tears.

This is when the epiphany strikes. She gets it: she's down to just one poncho boy 'coz sometimes other people are so much more important than just her, and that's okay. The Doctor was Donna's Spaceman long, long before he was Amy's Raggedy Doctor, and he never really stopped.