Prompt: picture from dd_plotbunnies - you'll now find it on my livejournal page.

Summary: Set in the very early part of the twentieth century, the Doctor and Donna have to get a little boy home.

Disclaimer: I don't own much here at all unfortunately.


When It's About The Boy

Part 1

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Two figures raced through the gloom until they stood over the sleeping form they had sought. One gestured to the other that they had found the person they needed, and carefully drew back the blanket.

There was a muffled yelp, and then their captive was lifted from their bed, and the two figures raced to the outside world. As they emerged from the railway tunnel they'd used another figure stood before them and halted their progress.

"Hand him over," the new figure ordered and switched on a blue light. The evening darkness was illuminated to show two creatures holding the body of a young boy; though not for long. They dropped him in shock as a strange emission caused them to clasp their heads in pain. "Quick, Donna! Check to see if he's okay," the figure demanded as he held up his sonic screwdriver using it to frighten off the creatures.

"He's alright, Spaceman! They've tied something around him to shut him up, but there's no sign of anything else," was his answer. There was a grunt of effort, and then, "Done it! Can you speak, sweetheart? Did they harm you?"

"No," a hoarse little voice answered. "Who are you?"

"I'm Donna and that's the Doctor," she introduced them as she helped him stand up. "You've had a lucky escape young man. We got here just in time."

"Excuse me Miss, but why did they want me?" he asked pathetically.

"Because you're special," the Doctor answered. "It's better that you don't know why yet; but we're here to protect you and get you home."

"Home? Where's that?" he asked suspiciously.

"We're not kidnapping you, you numpty! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard about you. I'll make sure things are okay," Donna chided him.

"Donna!" the Doctor growled at her in warning.

"I know! But I can't say nothing, can I?" she reasoned.

"Obviously not," he agreed sarcastically. There was the sound of a soft thump, and an, "Ow!"

"Serves you right! We are going to have words when we get home," Donna griped.

"You didn't have to hit me!" the Doctor moaned.

"And you didn't have to say it like that," she moaned back.

"Where is your home?" asked the boy.

"Oh… erm... It's back there, somewhere," the Doctor answered vaguely. "It looks like we won't be able to use our usual transport, Donna; so we'd better rustle up Shank's pony."

"You have a pony?" the boy exclaimed with excitement.

"Sorry mate, but that means we're walking," explained Donna. "He never organises any decent transport."

"I beg to differ!" the Doctor blustered. "Didn't I arrange for us to ride with that Bedrun fellow?"

"How could I forget?" Donna replied pithily. "It was so lovely to ride with all those farm animals in the back I was determined to eat pork chops at the next available stop!"

The boy jumped when he realised the Doctor was now standing next to him. "You know you don't mean that! You even turned your nose up at bacon for a few days," the Doctor told her, reaching out to grasp her hand.

"Yeah, alright; I admit it. But it was still a crap ride," she conceded.

"In more ways than one," he grinned at her. The boy was amazed to note that she readily grinned back.

She batted at the Doctor's chest. "Geroff! So which direction do we head?"

The Doctor considered the night sky and then announced, "This way!" And began to stride off.

"Typical!" Donna remarked to the boy. "He has to do his blood hound impression every time! If he starts barking at cats I'm dumping him."

The boy's giggles were the only answer she wanted as he took her hand.

~o~

It had to happen to them eventually, Donna supposed. Everybody in the whole universe seemed to think they were a couple, so the addition of a child was not exactly unexpected.

Donna looked down at him nestled against her left side as she sat on some grass beneath the shade of an enormous tree. A little boy with dark fluffy brown hair, big blue eyes, small pointy chin and cherubic pouty lips; who at that moment was sound asleep. His expression had been so soulful, so deeply depressive, that Donna's heart had gone out to him immediately. The Doctor had gone off to look for something to eat as the child was almost emaciated, poor thing! Donna gave him a little hug, and he whimpered a bit before snuggling further into her embrace.

She wanted to keep him so desperately, but she knew the Doctor would never allow it; it would be too domestic, too reminiscent, and probably too whatever it was he had been running away from. Donna stroked the child's hair. When they'd found him earlier in the sewer outlet area, the boy had told them he didn't know if he had a name, that is, a birth name, but the other children he associated with called him Splodge. Splodge! She couldn't call him that! He needed a proper name, not a sound effect! As she sat waiting, she mused over what name they could possibly call him. More importantly, he needed some food, comfort and love. Would she be allowed to show that to him? Her heart almost broke at the thought of being denied this. Donna hugged him to her again.

The Doctor had found a small dwelling about 2 miles away from where he'd left Donna and the boy, and had bartered with a yo-yo and a large ball of string he had found in his retro-fitted pockets to gain some bread and cheese. He wasn't entirely amazed to see the boy fast asleep on Donna; she had formed an instant bond with the boy. What did amaze him was his reaction to seeing the pair of them nestled together underneath the tree. He could see Donna so clearly as a mother to the child; a child that looked like both of them, and that led to dangerous thoughts of fatherhood, domesticity and… he shook his head to clear it of these thoughts before they took permanent root.

"What are you saying 'no' to, Spaceman?" Donna asked as she saw him approaching her.

He knelt down beside her, "Nothing really. Just thinking about…," she looked at him questioningly, "…what we should do with him." He looked down at the boy.

Splodge began to stir, having heard voices and smelt food. His eyes fluttered open and he muttered, "I'm hungry." He woke to find the Doctor and Donna smiling indulgently at him. "What? What did I do that was stupid?" he asked them as he sat up, moving away from the warmth that had made him feel so comfortable.

"You haven't done anything wrong," the Doctor assured Splodge. "Would you like some bread and cheese? Help yourself." The Doctor pointed to the food he had brought back. Splodge didn't need a second invite, and dove into the food with abandon. The Doctor and Donna shared a secretive smile.

"What else did you find?" Donna asked the Doctor as she kept a careful eye on Splodge. The Doctor could tell she was resisting the urge to caress the boy.

"Nothing much. There's a farm 2 miles in that direction, the rest of it seems to be all fields." He regarded her, "No shops, not many people, just us…"

She glanced quickly at the boy before asking, "Is there any chance that…?"

"No, I don't think so. We're safe for the time being," he touched her hand and brought it within his grasp. "I'll make sure it's okay, don't worry."

Donna blinked back tears, and then hugged him. "I hope so," she whispered.

The Doctor held her tight and rubbed her back with comforting swirls, and spoke low into her ear, "It will be. Promise."

"Why don't you just kiss her?" came from the side of them. Splodge looked up at them, with his mouth full of bread and cheese, as they stared at him in astonishment, "What? You seriously saying that you haven't thought of it?"

Donna laughed when she saw the Doctor's shocked expression as they separated, "You've got it all wrong, sweetheart. It's not like that between us two. We're just friends, best friends."

Splodge shook his head at them, "Keep telling yourself that, 'cos I don't believe it. Nobody believes it!"

"Anyway," the Doctor began, "have you left us anything to eat there?" Seeing the boy's guilty expression, he added, "Don't worry, we'll eat later."

"Thank you, mister," the boy said, smiling at them.

"Just Doctor will be fine," the Doctor reminded him.

"Okay, just Doctor!" the boy replied cheekily. "Where do you and Donna live then?" He looked at Donna as if to assess whether or not he was allowed to use her name too.

Donna jumped in with an answer when it was clear that the Doctor couldn't decide what to tell him exactly, "I come from a place called London. Have you heard of it?"

"London," the boy repeated, "think I have. Isn't that where the king lives?"

"Yes, in a large palace," Donna told him.

"Do you live with the king then? In his palace I mean?" the boy asked.

"Oh no!" Donna laughed, "I don't think the king would want me to live with him, although the palace is certainly big enough for a lot of people to live in."

Splodge looked puzzled, "But you live together, right? So where do you live?"

The Doctor sat back and let Donna deal with this on her own. "We live in our own house, sort of near the king, but not actually with him," Donna tried to explain. It was difficult to describe living the way her family did.

"And you live with him?" Splodge's glance swept between her and the Doctor, "but you're not married?" He looked extremely vexed. "Why aren't you married? Is there something wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong," the Doctor chuckled. He was going to use the analogy of housemates but realised that it would be completely lost on the boy. "We're like cousins," he chose instead.

"But cousins can marry," insisted Splodge.

The Doctor was beginning to get irked by this conversation, and Donna was amused by his irritation. "Okay, we're more like brother and sister," he tried.

"You don't act like brother and sister," Splodge was adamant, "I thought you were married."

"Well, you were wrong!" the Doctor huffed. Donna silently laughed at him, and he threw her an angry glare.

After a few moments, Splodge changed his tack. "If you were married, you could… perhaps… I dunno… maybe adopt me or something," Splodge gave the Doctor his most appealing look.

Donna gasped, and held her hand over her mouth, as if she expected some unwelcome words to spill out. She gave the Doctor an expectant look that immediately made him feel worse than he already did. "I'm not sure…," he started to say, desperate for the correct words to come to him.

Splodge hung his head, his posture desolate. "It's okay, Doctor, I understand," he wiped his eyes with one hand, hiding the action from the Doctor. "You don't want a kid messing up your plans."

Donna bit her lip as she tried to control her emotions, and as she gave the Doctor a watery smile. "Shall we start looking…?" She squeezed his hand to show that she understood.

He squeezed her hand back, then stood up and pulled her with him. "Come on! We don't have too much time before it gets dark," he spoke to them both.

Splodge got up and followed them meekly, or rather, followed Donna since he was keeping a distance between him and the Doctor that the Doctor pretended not to notice.

~o~