Author's Notes: Hi. I don't own Doctor Who, the Doctor or Donna. This story is a prequel to my other story Regarding Mrs. Smith and a sequel to Scandal in the Library. You don't need to have read Scandal in the Library to follow this, but you could. I like it. At any rate, all you need to know is that the Doctor and Donna have started a relationship and you're good to go. And there are going to be some spoilers for The Girl In The Fireplace and I don't own the stuff I just borrowed from Moffatt. Thanks for reading and enjoy! I would love to know what you think.
Donna Noble knew spying was wrong.
Well, technically spying was wrong. But clearly those rules were intended for individuals who had not fallen head over heels for a skinny alien with a time machine and never said anything about himself.
It had been a few months since the Doctor had nearly given her a heart attack by explaining how he felt about her and those months had to constitute the best relationship Donna had ever had. Come to think of it, "so not a couple" time included, Donna's relationship with the Doctor was the longest relationship she had ever had with a man. It was brilliant and that brilliance made it alien to her. She had never had a boyfriend who cared what she wanted and what she thought. Well, Lance had pretended to care and that made Donna feel special at the time, but it wasn't real. The Doctor's caring was. And he listened to her. As much as he could yammer on, he was a great listener and that made Donna feel free to talk.
Boy, did Donna talk. The Doctor would ask a seemingly innocuous question and Donna would give an answer in the form of a graduate thesis. And he let her, smiling, nodding, only interrupting if they were about to be slaughtered by cyborgs. Donna talked so much and so freely that she broke the cardinal rule of landing a man.
Do not talk about your failed past relationships, particularly, if your relationship history is as storied as Donna's was. Yet, she had gone there.
First, had been Lance. It had started on a picnic in the Year 6000 with a new flavored Pringle: Venusian Algae and Jalapeno.
"I love Pringles," said Donna.
"I thought you might," said the Doctor.
"What made you think that?"
He looked like he wasn't going to answer.
"Go on, tell me. Is the TARDIS like Amazon and has that thing at the bottom that says 'Items You May Like'?"
"No, uh, Lance said it."
Lance. Donna hadn't thought about Lance since the Doctor said he had fallen for her. That statement had pushed all other men out of her head. Lee had managed to get in there for a little while, but it was fleeting.
"Oh," said Donna, stuffing another Pringle in her mouth.
"I'm sorry, Donna. I didn't want to upset you."
"I'm not upset," scoffed Donna as she took another Pringle.
"He was wrong, you know," said the Doctor.
Donna shrugged. "No, uh, not really. I mean I was a little hooked on X-Factor-"
"You should see it in the year 200,000..."
"I do know a little too much about Posh."
"Wait until you see the clones. Huge war."
"Fat and stupid, I'm not exactly a stick and I'm not exactly the cleverest..."
The Doctor didn't answer. Donna looked over at him. From the expression on his face, she thought there must be another cyborg behind her back.
"Doctor? Is everything alright?"
"I don't want you to talk about yourself like that, I don't want you to even think about yourself like that, why would you say that about yourself?" He seemed upset.
Donna shrugged. "When a woman gets engaged to a man who wants to feed her to a giant spider, she can't exactly call herself a genius, can she?"
"You're brilliant and beautiful."
"What? Is that some sort of Time Lord inner beauty beauty thing?"
"Your inner beauty is extraordinary, but in that instance I was referring to your outer beauty which is just as extraordinary." He paused and took a crisp. "Besides, Venusian Algae and Jalapeno Pringles are exciting."
Donna smiled. Then she started a sentence that would lead into a whole mess of others. "I suppose I was just desperate..."
Then she had gone on. And on. And he let her! She wondered if this was some sort of Gallifreyan mating ritual to let the intended female go on for days about old boyfriends. She hadn't done it all then, just Lance, but it had come out in other conversations. Edmund, her first real boyfriend who had gone to University and found a leggy Italian heiress. Jared, with the motorcycle, who Donna had thought for sure she would marry until he was arrested for burglary. Nerys' boyfriend, that had just been a catastrophe all around. Daniel who Donna dated for a year and then he realized he was gay, but still wanted Donna to be his beard. He'd said she would make a great beard. Not to mention every Tom, Dick and Harry that had come in between. She just couldn't stop herself and that stupid Martian just let her go on! She'd kept him from drowning with the Empress of the Racnoss, the least he could do was tell her to shut up.
But he never said anything about his past and especially not the women in it. Donna wasn't an idiot, any nine hundred year old man who looked like that was going to one flipping thick little black book. That was a given. He had said on Messaline he had children and he didn't strike Donna as a deadbeat dad, so he must have been married. There was Rose, who the Doctor had stopped mentioning altogether, she presumed out of deference to her. There was River, but that was technically the Doctor's future and she couldn't hold that against him. Not yet, anyway.
So, she had done the only sensible thing. She had begun snooping around the TARDIS for evidence of past girlfriends. It wasn't easy, she had to sneak out while the Doctor thought she was sleeping and he would go do things around the TARDIS. She was getting sleep-deprived, only adding to her paranoia as she conducted her search. The first stop was Rose's old room, which the TARDIS tried to hide from her, but facing Donna even a dimensionally transcendental spaceship was forced to relent. There was a bunch of crap Rose seemed to have left behind, mostly clothes and a lot of eye makeup. Fortunately, no bondage toys or empty boxes of condoms or melted candles from the Doctor making it into a shrine. Then Donna had the idea to search the TARDIS wardrobe, which had just confused her more. Did no one ever take their things with them when they left the TARDIS? What was with the leather bikini? She supposed she could let that pass but, why, why, in God's name, was there a girl's school uniform? She desperately hoped it belonged to an actual schoolgirl, the Doctor had mentioned his granddaughter in passing, but it looked to be a tad large.
Donna dismissed these thoughts. There had to be a reasonable explanation. The Doctor hadn't shown himself to be a complete and utter pervert and he certainly had ample opportunity to do so. Yes, there must have been a reason there was a leather bikini and a school uniform in the TARDIS wardrobe. Same as the explanation for that scarf and the cricket uniform with the celery and the jumper with the question marks all over it and the cat pins.
Oh, she really hoped there was a logical explanation for the cat pins. Donna was about to leave the wardrobe when she knocked over a paper bag, spilling its contents all over the floor. Donna knelt down to pick them up. She reckoned from the contents that it must have been the contents of the Doctor's pockets, removed by the TARDIS as he switched suits to be cleaned: Jelly Babies, bits of the Crown Jewels and curiously enough a letter.
Clearly, it was private. So, obviously Donna opened it and read it.
My Dear Doctor,
The path has never seemed more slow and yet I fear I am nearing its end. Reason tells me that you and I are unlikely to meet again, but I think I shall not listen to reason. I have seen the world inside your head and know that all things are possible. Hurry then my love; my days grow shorter now and I am so very weak. Godspeed my lonely angel.
"Reinette," Donna said aloud.
Rose. River. Reinette.
"Why do they always start with the letter 'R'?," she demanded of the TARDIS.
The ship responded with an exasperated hum.