Much Ado About Nothing

By Marisha

"So, where to now?" The Doctor's fingers wiggled over the dials. "The Tumbling Blocks of Asphera III, the starmines of the Goloith Galaxy, the Mountains of—"

"Mmmh," Donna twisted a strand of her hair around her finger.

The Doctor sank against the console realizing this might take a while.

"Somewhere in the past. Human past – that is."

"Oh-kay." The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "You have something specific in mind? We've done Romans."

"Yah, not that far back," she clarified quickly. "Something British."

"Henry VIII – You'll like him!" The Doctor grinned excitedly, but as Donna cocked an eyebrow he hastened,"or something more Welsh like King Arthur or, or, or Scottish – Mary Stuart, maybe?"

"Mmmh."

The Doctor tapped his foot.

Donna's face brightened. "Shakespeare!"

The Doctor cringed. "I thought you found him daft."

"I do, but I like A Midsummer Night's Dream." Donna walked over to the console. "That donkey thing was hilarious."

"Right, then," the Doctor spun around. "How about the premiere at the Globe Theatre?"

"Perfect," breathed Donna as she leant into the console, watching him as he flipped the switch.

Just like Martha, Donna gasped open-mouthed at the Globe Theatre. "This is amazing."

He grinned widely as he extended his arm to her. "M'lady's off to the theatre today?"

Donna hinted a curtsy and took his arm, beaming. "Off we go then, my knight in – ah- um- blue armor." She giggled as he shook his head and led her around the puddles, hoping they wouldn't run into Shakespeare himself again. He didn't feel like long explanations as to why Martha wasn't traveling with him anymore. Humans always wanted such detailed explanations. Not that he minded their inquisitiveness, but in this case...

The Doctor nodded absentmindedly to Donna's exclamations.

"— and your coat turned pink."

"Yeah, that's right," he mumbled a few paces down. "What?" he stopped dead and looked down at himself.

"Your coat is just fine," Donna commented, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

"Then why did you say it was pink?" he demanded, turning to continue their path, but Donna didn't move. "What?" he asked over his shoulder.

"You tell me." She held onto his arm.

"We'll be late for the premiere," he said as he tugged her arm, but Donna didn't budge.

"Ever since I suggested Shakespeare you've acted weird. You know, more than normal weird." She batted her eyelashes innocently.

"Nah," he scratched the back of his head. "It's nothing."

Donna creased her eyes. "Nothing has you pretty distracted."

He flashed her a weak smile. "That obvious?"

"Ah, ja – to somebody traveling with you long enough, it is," she nudged him and they continued on.

"Well, I have been here with Martha, a couple of years ago," he admitted, staring at the theatre entrance.

"Didn't go well?"

"In the end it all worked out, but she and Shakespeare really hit it off."

Donna grinned. "Jealous?"

"Who me?" he shook his head indignantly. "No, but just before we left, Queen Elisabeth I caught up and ordered my head to be cut off."

"Ouch," Donna nodded understandingly. "What had you done to upset her?"

He shrugged. "Thing is, I don't know. Hasn't happened to me yet."

"And you're worried now is the time?" Donna raised an eyebrow.

"A bit. Didn't want to get you into trouble," he grinned sheepishly, "-knowingly."

Donna laughed. "Then it's just business as usual."

He wiggled on the spot and Donna nudged him. "Oh, don't worry. A little danger hasn't stopped us yet."

He flashed her a grin. "Never has."

"Off we go then," Donna tucked his arm. "Do you got quids for the tickets or whatever they use now?"

The Doctor shook his head. "Nah, never, but we've got the psychic paper."

A moment later they took their seats in the balcony. Donna peered down eagerly at the "groundlings" standing in the yard below. "Man, am I glad we are not wedged in down there. It's packed. A Midsummer Night's Dream was even more popular then."

"Shakespeare is always popular," the Doctor said as he scanned the Royal balcony and let out a relieved breath when he saw that it was empty.

"Oh, relax, she's not here," said Donna, following his gaze.

"Well, it's not your head she wants," he whispered, tugging his collar as the nobleman beside Donna turned around and eyed them with interest.

"I bet it was just a misunderstanding." Donna leant back and eyed the nobleman openly. He faked a cough and turned to look back at his wife.

"Wonder how they do the donkey," Donna twisted back towards the stage.

"Oh, it's just people," the Doctor relaxed back into the bench. "No fancy stage props like in your time."

"Oh," Donna sounded disappointed.

The Doctor looked at her surprised. "What did you expect? A real one?"

Donna blushed. "Well, how should I know?"

"Didn't you study his works in school?"

Donna rolled her eyes. "Yeah, major boring and I had that mate Roxanna. We skived off English most of the time to watch the boys practice."

"Doesn't surprise me," the Doctor said with a smirk.

"What?" Donna said with an indignant tone. "Did you never skive off? Or were you never that young?"

"Of course, I went to the Academy," the Doctor puffed his chest out. "All Gallifreyans have to – no skiving."

"Oh, don't show off!" Donna punched him and he rubbed his arm under protest. "I bet you just forgot since it was soooooooooooo long ago."

"No, honestly," he peered strictly at her. "You try to skip school when all time is monitored."

Donna's face fell. "How daft."

"You can say that," the Doctor nodded seriously.

"If you two wouldn't mind, but Much Ado just started," the noble man turned to Donna.

"Oh, yea. Sorry, mate." Donna sent him an apologetically smile. "With much ado." She mimicked a bow and the noble man nodded politely. She nestled into the back of the bench, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Doctor wriggling.

"Stop," she whispered loudly, "fidgeting! You'll disturb everybody."

The Doctor paid no attention, for he had his screwdriver out and was scanning the theater while trying to hide the instrument in his hand at the same time.

"Something is off," he mumbled adjusting a setting and re-scanning the area. "Just don't know what yet."

"We'll find out sooner or later," Donna studied the stage. "You know, these characters look way different from what I remember."

"Really?" the Doctor looked up intrigued.

"You think somebody changed Shakespeare's play?"

He sat up straighter. "Wouldn't be the first time."

A couple of scenes later, Donna's frown deepened. "Where's that stupid donkey?"

The Doctor leant forward, his elbows resting on his knees. "The whole story line has changed. That's a major time incident."

Donna glanced at him. "But who would do that?"

"More interesting: why?" The Doctor tilted his head. "I think we've got a mystery on our hands."

Donna rubbed her hands excitedly. "Anything is better than this bickering. It's like watching bloody EastEnders with Mum."

"If you don't mind—," the noble man cleared his throat and his wife sent them a nasty look.

"Ya, sorry," Donna glanced only haphazardly. "You'd like to watch the show, I know."

"Exactly," the noble man fiddled with his collar. "And there is no donkey in Much Ado."

Donna nodded. "With much ado for you, too."

His head snapped back. "I would prefer if you didn't repeat everything I say. Much Ado About Nothing has no donkey."

Donna held up her hands. "Okay, okay – nothing has nothing ado about a donkey," she turned back to the Doctor and rolled her eyes, but at his frown her eyes widened and she swung around tucking the noble man's sleeve violently.

"So sorry to bother you again, but what did you just say?"

He sighed and wiped his brow with his handkerchief. "This play, Much Ado About Nothing, has no donkey."

"You hear that?" Donna shot back at the Doctor.

"That would explain the different story plot," he tapped his lips with the sonic."

"We're in the fricking wrong play!" Donna burst out indignantly, but turned around quickly at the noble man's cough. "Sorry, mate. We'll be quiet now."

He nodded stiffly and Donna leant into the Doctor. "When were you gonna tell me?" she whispered roughly.

"Ah, well," the Doctor wrinkled his nose. "I didn't know."

"Yeah, right," Donna slumped back. "Probably having a right laugh at good old Donna for not noticing."

"I wouldn't do that," he looked hurt. "Both plays were published in 1600, but Much Ado About Nothing was written in 1598."

"You're about two years too late for A Midsummer Night's Dream," the noble man said in snobbish tone. "Where were you for not having noticed the turmoil it created?"

Donna opened her mouth, but the Doctor answered quickly. "Away – long sea trip."

"Ah," the other turned back to the play.

"So, what's this one about?" Donna asked and the Doctor looked suddenly very uneasy and studied his hands. "The usual – love and marriage."

He peeked at Donna.

"Very sensitive of you," she hissed, crossing her arms over her chest.

Guilt-ridden, he stared at her with big round eyes.

Donna nudged him with her shoulder. "It's okay. Not your fault my fiancée fancied a giant red spider."

He took her hand and squeezed it gently as Donna tried to smile.

"You know, you two bickering as such, you must be married for a long time," the lady's voice floated over as she looked pointedly to their hands.

Quickly, the Doctor withdrew his hand.

"Oh, no! We're SO not married," Donna said, waving her hand dismissively.

"Well, maybe you should watch the play more closely," the wife said sagely. "You might learn something."

"Why's that?" the Doctor asked intrigued.

The lady smiled sweetly. "You two remind me a lot of Beatrice and Benedict."

Terrified, the Doctor and Donna looked at each other.

"Better go now—"

"Oh, no, we're fine," Donna winked at the noble man, "just mates, you know."

"Oh!" the noble man and his wife leant away from them and pushed into the other side of the bench.

"Not in that sense," the Doctor added quickly.

Donna turned back to him. "What sense?"

He squirmed on the bench pulling at his earlobe. "You know that—," he wiggled his eyebrows, "sense."

Donna's mouth formed a perfect 'O' before swinging around to the couple. "Of course not in THAT sense! How could you?"

"Ah, Donna," the Doctor tugged her sleeve, but she went on.

"How dare you even assume—"

"Donna," he grabbed her hand.

Still not paying attention, she continued her tirade. "That is disgusting. You should be ashamed! To think something like THAT."

The Doctor leant into her and whispered urgently, "Queen."

"What?" Donna's head shot around and he pointed to the royal balcony.

"Queen."

"Doctor!" Queen Elisabeth I stared across the theatre, her face a mask of red anger as she pointed at them.

He wiggled his fingers in a wave and gave her a weak grin as he pulled Donna off the bench.

"Off with his head!" the Queen's voice screeched over the play and everyone froze in their spots.

The Doctor looked at Donna. "Run!"

She grinned. "I wasn't into the play anyway."

The End