Summary: He needs to tell her; but if only he could summon up the right words...

Disclaimer: These aren't mine; not now, not ever. I tried wishing on the BBC doors but unfortunately it didn't work.

A Squelch In The Night


Donna stood by the open bedroom door, watching him preen himself in front of the mirror. "Come on, Doctor! Get your act together!" he chided himself as he adjusted his tuxedo and his bow tie. He began to rearrange his hair again, "Just walk up to her and say it!"

'Ooh! A woman, eh?' Donna thought as she considered his agitation. 'Probably that Daliar' she pondered. Daliar was a tall, blonde, willowy woman they'd met earlier that day; she had been part of the welcoming and thanking committee for this planet. The Doctor had been talking quite animatedly with her after they'd received the usual planet saving gratitude, and they been given an impromptu meal. This evening was the full works: a ball in their honour. Donna had been quite excited at the thought of dressing up in a posh frock. She'd known which dress to wear too; a long, close-fitting black dress that felt gorgeous. When the Doctor had claimed that he would wear his dinner suit she couldn't wait to get a glimpse of this change of clothing, so she had peeped in when she'd seen his door ajar; but now she felt more than slightly obtrusive. Glad that he still didn't know she was standing there, she reached out a hand and lightly rapped on the door. "Anybody in?" she called out.

"Donna! Come in!" he greeted her; so she stepped hesitantly in.

"What you up to?" she asked lightly.

"Nothing," he replied. "Just talking to myself," he admitted.

She smirked at him, "Got to be careful doing that – first sign of madness. Of course, the second sign is when you answer back, and the third sign is when you disagree!"

He held out a hand to beckon her over to the mirror, "I'll remember that! Do you think you could help me with this tie?"

"I'll give it a go!" she smiled at him as she sauntered over. She tweaked the corners, and flattened out his shirt with satisfaction. "Does that look better?"

"Much!" he readily agreed looking at her.

"You're supposed to check in the mirror, you prawn!" she laughed. "Not look at me!"

"Oh!" he swivelled round to consider his reflection, and gave himself a broad smile. "Yes, that looks fine."

"Good! Shall we get going to this shindig then? I'm starting to feel a bit peckish," she smiled encouragingly at him. "You never know, you might get to dance with the woman of your dreams."

He gave a faint squeak, "Do you think she might… that I might… No! I don't dance."

"You don't?" she eyed him suspiciously. "Then you'll be missing out on a golden opportunity, Spaceman, if you want her to look your way." She patted his sleeve, "Come on! Let's get this show on the road. If you want me to intervene just tip me the wink."

He went to reply, asking what the heck she meant, but Donna had already turned away to leave his room, so he meekly followed her.

They entered the ballroom to an embarrassing round of applause; you'd think they would be used to such gratitude by now, but the point was that they rarely stuck around afterwards to enjoy any of it.

Fortunately they were quickly distracted by the appearance of the local big wigs and they were led away to be introduced to everyone. Donna noted that Daliar spoke to the Doctor first, and he had looked very intent as they conversed. Donna tried hard not to watch them, but the Doctor's behaviour was puzzling her. If he was interested why wasn't he trying harder? And why had he started talking to someone entirely different?

When the music started Donna saw her chance to nudge things along a bit. She politely excused herself from the lovely couple she was talking to for a moment and moved quietly around the Doctor.

"Go on then! Ask her!" Donna almost pushed him from behind. "Daliar, the Doctor wants a quick word," she threw at Daliar and then disappeared before he could stop her.

Blushing profusely, he stammered, "Would you care to…"

"I'd be honoured, Doctor," Daliar wistfully smiled at him, taking his offered hand. As he lightly guided them into a dance, Daliar considered him thoughtfully before asking, "Why are you not dancing with your wife, Doctor?"

"My…? Oh, Donna isn't… we're not married," he spluttered, to her amusement.

"You're not?" she raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Don't you think it's about time you were, Doctor?"

"Ah! Well… you see…," he tried to explain painfully.

"You are reluctant to commit to each other. I don't understand why you are. Surely you cannot move on in your relationship until you do," Daliar said forcefully. "Unless you are keen for Donna to find someone else; is that the case?"

"Oh no!" he exclaimed vehemently. "Donna has promised me forever!"

"So Donna has made a promise to you? What have you promised her in return, Doctor?" Daliar questioned him.

He blushed. "Nothing; I've promised nothing at all," he admitted softly.

"Then don't you think you should?" Daliar asked as the music stopped and the Doctor released her, with a bow. "Thank you, Doctor; that was most entertaining," she stated, curtsied low, and let herself to be led away by another dignitary.

Donna hurried to his side. "Well? How did it go? Did she make any arrangements with you?" she anxiously asked him. "Are you meeting her again later, for drinks or something?"

"No, Donna. She wasn't interested in me like that," he told her.

"She wasn't? I'm so sorry," she tenderly caressed his cheek in consolation. "Perhaps you can have another go at it later?"

He caught her hand in his. "I don't think I'll bother, if it's all the same to you. Now, Ms Noble, may I have this dance?" He twitched an eyebrow at her.

"Are you serious? Really? You want to dance with me?" she asked incredulously.

"Well, if you don't want to…," he began to back away, but she grabbed his arm.

"Oh no you don't, Sunshine! I've waited ages for this opportunity," she replied and started to position herself in a dancing pose.

He held her right hand and placed his right hand on the small of her back, pulling her body towards him, "What else have you been waiting for, Donna?" He swept her onto the dancefloor.

His low, sultry tones made her wonder what he was playing at. "Are you trying to make Daliar jealous? 'Cos I don't think that's the right route to take," she advised him.

"How should I get a woman interested in me then?" he softly demanded.

She adjusted her hand on his shoulder as she pondered this. "There's always the tried and tested method of laughing a woman into bed. Have you tried tickling her funny bone?"

"I haven't tickled any part yet. Do you really think that's wise?" he gave her a shocked look.

"Not literally tickle her, you prawn! Tell her some jokes; but promise me you won't make them crude," she stared intensely at him.

"What? When have I ever told those sort of jokes?" he asked indignantly.

She tenderly rubbed the back of his neck, "I know you haven't, but I don't want you thinking you should! Do what you normally do." Seeing his questioning expression, she added, "Those bad puns of yours; they should go down a storm if she's a bit…"

"A bit what exactly?" he huffed. "Are you implying I'm only interested in the mentally challenged?"

She ignored the image of Rose that flashed through her mind. "Oh no! I'd never say that!" she insisted.

"But you thought it," he suggested.

She made a face as though she were about to say 'yes'. "Of course not! And you'd have to make sure you give her a decent kiss," she mused.

"What?" he spluttered. "Are you now saying that my kisses aren't decent?"

"I'm hardly in a position to judge, am I?" she reasoned. "They might be completely diabolical."

"I'll prove they're no such thing right here, right now!" he forcefully told her, rapidly bringing both hands up to cradle her face.

"Doctor! Not here!" she flashed him a glare-of-death. "People are watching!"

"Well, where then?" he demanded.

Donna cast her eyes about the room. "How about outside that huge window door thing over there?" she suggested.

He followed her gaze, "Okay, but don't keep using all those technical terms around me!"

She softly laughed, and swatted his shoulder. "Trust you to notice me mixing up my words."

He guided her towards the door she'd indicated. "You'd be surprised what I notice about you!" he smiled at her.

"You didn't notice me wearing this dress!" she retorted.

"I did! You look very nice," he replied.

"Thanks for that. Your enthusiasm overwhelms me," she told him sarcastically.

"Okay, I could have worded that a bit better," he conceded.

"A bit!" she huffed. "If you think I look like a bag of spanners just say it, for goodness sake."

"I never said that! Don't put words in my mouth," he pouted, bring them to a halt outside the ballroom. "And I think you are trying to deliberately distract me!"

"Why would I do that?" she glared. "If you promise something, Sunshine, I'll make sure you deliver!"

"Here goes then," he lightly clasped her jaw. "Are you ready for your close-up, Ms Noble?"

Laughing, she replied, "Just get on with it! You're all talk and no action."

"Oh, am I?" he asked gently, bringing his lips closer, ghosting them over hers. Unable to bear the tension she pushed his head closer until they touched. He tenderly kissed her, taking his time to explore the shape of her mouth, it's taste and it's texture.

Breaking apart, she commented, "That should do it."

He frowned at her. "What should?"

"The kiss, you prawn!" she smiled widely. "She should love that one."

"'She'?" he looked even more puzzled. "Who exactly are we talking about here?"

"Daliar of course!" she smirked. "That kiss should work a treat!"

"Why would… Donna? Why do you keep going on about Daliar?" he tried to control his frustration.

"Because you fancy her something chronic, Dumbo!" she rolled her eyes at him. "Don't you know anything?"

"I know you're completely wrong!" he insisted. "The only thing I feel for her is sorry; apart from the erm… usual congratulations about being a diplomat, of course."

"Is that some sort of dig at women supposedly not being able to do a man's job's?" she gazed at him in amazement. "Because I think you'll find you're a bit behind the times, mate. Or did Women's Lib bypass you in the 1970s?"

He gave an indignant sniff. "I was there, Donna, so I remember it all too well!"

"That still sounds like you regretted it," she pointed out.

"Donna! What has this…," he halted his possible tirade to take in the vision in front of him. She looked radiant as she stared at him; her skin was tinged with a healthy tone of pink, her eyes were glistening and her hair was… her hair was mesmerising he realised with the setting sun behind her.

"Why are you looking at me like that? Have I got something on my face?" she asked anxiously. "Have I smudged my lipstick? Only, I can't see any on you so I didn't think I had."

"No, not smudged," he answered distractedly. "You look…"

"I'm guessing bonkers, since you seem to be having trouble describing me," she sighed resignedly. "Come on then, Casanova; let's go get you the girl." She tugged on his sleeve to try and move him in the direction of the ballroom.

"Donna, what if I don't want any girl that is in there?" he gently asked.

She looked at him as if he'd gone out. "Are you Dagenham East?" she asked, clearly perplexed with him.

"Dagenham East?" he echoed in confusion.

"It's a couple of stops on from Barking," she explained. "And I thought you knew the London Underground!"

"I do!" he protested. "I spent several days traipsing through those tunnels looking for Yetis."

"You what? Yetis? You can't be serious!" she laughed. "I could understand gonks, but Yetis… nah!"

"There were some similarities," he giggled. "But Yetis don't come with pink or green fur."

"Who's to say how good a Yeti would look with highlights?" Donna mused, causing him to crease up with laughter.

He hung onto the nearby door. "What were we saying again?" he managed to ask once he got his giggle fit under control. "I keep thinking of Yetis with purple fur now with auburn tinges."

"I knew you'd have to bring ginger hair into this conversation," she grinned at him. "You are obsessed at times!"

"I am not! Just because a Time Lord happens to adore ginger hair doesn't make him…," he pressed nearer to her with each word, "…obsessed; merely an admirer." He lifted a hand to capture one of her curls.

Her eyes followed his action very carefully. "Do you want me to save my hair next time they chop it off at the hairdressers? I'm sure you could make a wig out of it," she offered.

"Why would I do that when I can have the real thing?" he frowned at her.

"Is this your Ted Bundy moment? Or am I thinking of Hannibal Lecter?" she pondered as she watched him toy with her hair.

"Donna!" he spluttered. "Why do you have such awful thoughts? I'm not going to kill you and then do horrible things with your body. I can think of far better things…" His breath ghosted across her skin, leaving goosebumps in its wake.

She felt something within her begin to stir. "What sort of things were you thinking of?" she inevitably asked him. "Are we talking thoughts in general, or me?"

He gulped. This could be his moment; his chance to finally say something meaningful to her. "I meant… I erm… I think you and I should…," he faltered and then stood transfixed.

She waited for him to say something else. "Care to find an end to that sentence, Spaceman, because the rest of your words are getting lonely," she teased.

"I was thinking…perhaps we ought to…," he continued to gaze intensely at her, still twiddling that curl, "…go inside? We never finished our dance."

"No we didn't," she smiled at him, wondering why he looked so relieved. "After that can we get something to eat? I'm starving!"

"Of course we can," he beamed back at her. "Anything for you!"

She patted his cheek, "Aren't you sweet?" As she turned back into the ballroom she remarked, "Do you want to hear something funny? I thought you were going to kiss me then! How daft is that?"

He was so glad she wasn't looking at him as she said that, so he was able to hide his disappointment. "Did you really?" he exclaimed. "What would you have done if I had? You know, just out of interest."

They stood facing each other now, ready to dance again.

"Honestly?" She scrunched up her face in thought. "I've no idea. It's not the sort of thing you think of doing with your best friend, is it?"

He pulled her into his arms and started to guide her in another dance. "No, you're right," he mumbled into her hair. "Not the usual sort of thing at all."

From across the room Daliar watched them move smoothly together on the dance floor and hoped that promise from the Doctor to Donna would come very soon. It looked like it could happen any moment now.