Donna knew the Doctor was just as complex and contradictory as any being. Still, there were four persistent facets about him that she both loved and hated. One, he was the bravest man, well, spaceman she'd ever met anywhere in the universe. Two, he could be as bonkers as he was courageous. Three, he was more curious than a naughty two year old, particularly messing with things that most people wouldn't dream of touching. Four, he compulsively stuck his nose and tongue into everything and anywhere. Put together that meant the Doctor was a naughty, overly curious, fearless, and barmy licker.
The Doctor would lick anything, and she meant anything. His tongue had led them into as much trouble as his supposed genius. Of course, after his latest attempt at licking, Donna was having doubts about his certifications as a genius.
Only a few hours ago, they arrived on the planet Kars, and promptly met a group of researchers. They were studying the planet's indigenous flora and fauna. For once, there appeared to be no trouble looming ahead, just a chance to explore a completely untouched world and meet a friendly group of humans.
Then, while exploring, the Doctor found a strange, alien box that hummed in the key of 'A' major, according to him. Donna thought she should have known what he was planning then, but her thoughts were elsewhere. She was enjoying the company of Mitch, who was a rather attractive and burly male zoologist.
For barely five minutes, she had her back turned away from the Doctor. She and Mitch had been discussing the mating rituals of wild rodents. Well, he'd been discussing and she'd been flirting. The next second, there came a very loud yelp of pain. She turned to see the Doctor backing away on his hands and rear from a very large, angry-looking porcupine with the bristly face of an anteater. A slight trickle of blood streamed down the Doctor's chin as one of his hands moved to cover his mouth.
Donna had felt helpless to defend the Doctor. However, Mitch bravely managed to drive the alien creature away with no further incident. Still, the too curious spaceman was already injured and complaining loudly, while Donna tried to press a cloth over his "actual" bloody mouth.
Lucky for the Doctor, Mitch was familiar with the species. With the help of Doctor Ellis, the head medical doctor of the research team, they were able to remove a very large barbed quill from the centre of the Doctor's tongue. After the short operation, Doctor Ellis applied a very special numbing antiseptic. That meant not only did the Doctor need to keep his mouth closed for his tongue to heal properly, but also technically, his mouth and tongue were incapacitated. He was completely unable to speak. That amused Donna to no end.
The first few hours were completely peaceful and quiet. There wasn't any rambling on about everything, or ranting about her or humans in general. Best of all, he couldn't talk back when she'd chewed him out for being daft enough to get himself into this situation.
After her anger ebbed away, Donna finally relented and retrieved a small notebook and pen from his coat pocket, so he could communicate on paper. That proved good enough for a short time. Soon, he grew frustrated with his lack of ability to rattle on endlessly, and resided to roll on his side, facing away from her, and mope.
"Oh, you are truly impossible, Doctor," sighed Donna with a sympathetic grin. She took a seat beside his hospital bunk after returning for yet another visit. "You'll be right as rain in a couple more hours, so quit this pointless moping."
The Doctor glanced at her over his shoulder. His brow was deeply furrowed and his eyes sternly staring at her as if he was daring her to go on. She did, despite him.
"Can't you just enjoy this time? Maybe use it to, I don't know, reflect… mediate… whatever it is you Time Lords do," she told him. "I mean, when's the last time you just enjoyed some peace and quiet? No talking, just listening and thinking."
The Doctor reached for his notebook. At a feverish pace, he wrote something down, and then, handed it over to her. In very clear writing:
Easy for you to say, Donna. At least you have the option to speak, to make some noise if you want. I can't! I'm worse than tongue-tied!
"Well, you would be able to speak now, if you'd gain some restraint, Doctor," she informed him, handing him back the notebook. She chuckled, enjoying the humour of the situation for a moment. "I mean, blimey, only a naughty child goes and sticks his tongue anywhere and everywhere. Is there anything you won't lick?" She leaned on the edge of the Doctor's hospital bunk, resting her smirking face in her hands.
From his reclined, blanketed position on the bunk, the Doctor glared at her with tightly drawn lips. His eyes sizzled with several rude comments, but he couldn't say any of them.
Reaching towards the Doctor, she mockingly patted the top of his head as she would the naughty child. "There, there," she said contemptuously, still smirking. "Just think of this as a learning experience for the future, Spaceman. If something has long, spiky quills, you don't lick it."
The Doctor's eyes immediately widened. He pushed himself up a bit, forgetting the notebook for the moment in his lap. Still, with tightly draw lips, he started to make explanatory murmuring and grunting noises, while wildly gesturing. Donna sighed, rolling her eyes. She already knew what he was trying to explain.
"Yes, yes! Even if the thing you intended to lick wasn't the creature with the spiky quills," she replied, giving him a shrewd stare. "You need to be watchful. I mean, didn't you see the creature's burrow right beside the strange, humming box?"
The Doctor simply shook his head, giving her an expression of innocence and a shrug.
"Right," Donna said, shaking her head. "You know, Doctor, you really can be short-sighted."
The Doctor shook his head, and once more, began to murmur with a tightly closed mouth. This time he gestured towards his thick-rimmed specs on the bedside table, and then, at his soft brown eyes.
"Oi! You know what I meant, Spaceman!" Donna exclaimed, giving him a less than subtle but still playful push back on to the bed. "You get something in your head… and sometimes that all you can see. Blind and deaf, you are."
The Doctor vigorously shook his head in disagreement, starting to already write something down on another page in his small notebook. Once again, he handed it over, and Donna started to read it but stopped short when she saw rude comments made about her mixed amongst his defence for his supposedly brilliant self. She wasn't having any of that. If he wanted his ego stroked, she wasn't going to be the one, particularly with him insulting her in the process.
Donna puffed out a cynical chuckle, shifting her gaze to the Doctor. "Blimey! You're even ruder on paper!" she told him, pushing the notebook back into his chest without reading the rest.
The Doctor promptly picked up the notebook and waved it in front of her, but Donna pushed it out of her face and stood up. "No, I'm not going to read anymore of your prattle. I get enough abuse from you when you can speak. What makes you think I want it on paper instead?" She poked the notebook in his hand a few times, glaring at him. "If you think I'm going to stick around and keep you company after..."
Cutting Donna off, the Doctor quickly reached out and grasped her arm. The strength of his grip surprised her. Meeting his gaze, she saw an earnest, apologetic look in his brown eyes. With his lips still tightly shut, he murmured in a way that might have been a very sincere "Sorry."
Donna sighed, still feeling tossed on whether to go or stay by his side. Obviously, he wasn't completely in a social or polite mood. She thought about perhaps leaving him to fume and pout, while confined to bed in silence. It might do him some good knowing what it's like to be without voice and company.
Then again, she recalled how he was the day they first met. Perhaps, the Doctor already knew what it was like to be isolated and alone with no one around for him. She might be mad at him, but Donna didn't know if she was cold-hearted enough to place him in that melancholy mood once again. Besides, she couldn't help but feel sympathy for his condition.
After a brief moment more chewing it over, she decided she couldn't say no to him when he looked as pathetic as he did now. "Oh, all right," she said only a bit reluctantly. Then she pointed at him accusingly. "But keep in mind I'm only doing this for you, if you're nice. Got that, Spaceman?"
The Doctor nodded enthusiastically. Slowly, his hand slid down from her arm to her hand, grasping it more gently but securely. There was a clinginess suddenly to his manner. The feeling that she was talking to a naughty, bed-ridden child flashed through her mind again. Even the very appreciative smile on his face and in his soft brown eyes reminded her of that.
She half smiled at him, while she took her seat again. "And a piece of advice for the future, Doctor," she said, drawing her face once more into a serious expression. "Best not to piss off the person who's actually willing to put up with you and your barmy behaviour."
The Doctor enthusiastically nodded in agreement again.
She sighed. "Enough with the head nods already, or you'll might make yourself sick again," she told him. "Just lie back and be good." She sighed. "You know you'd be hopeless without me."
Suddenly, his eyes widened a bit, before scribbling something else down in his notebook. In one movement, he turned the notebook to face her and held it up in front of his face. Clearly, on the page, there was a simple, stick-figure sad face with dipping eyes and deep frown, and underneath it were two words:
Donna's mouth fell open. She stared at the image, feeling stunned for a moment. "Doctor?"
Slowly, the notebook lowered and the Doctor wore the same sad expression. The meaning of the image sunk into place. Donna couldn't help the small smile that graced her face. "Sometimes, Doctor," she said, trying squash the grin on her face. "Just sometimes, I think I could kiss you."
That seemed to catch the Doctor's full attention. He snapped completely upright in the bunk. The notebook tumbled from his hands. His eyes widened fully, and his eyebrows snapped all the way up his brow. He murmured an almost unmistakable, "Oh, yes!"
Donna couldn't help but laugh, because for a moment, she almost did lean forward to kiss him. Then she remembered the numbing antiseptic covering his tongue and mouth. "Oh, very clever, Spaceman! Looking to silence both of us, huh?"
The Doctor just winked back at her suggestively, tapping the side of his cheek.
Donna briefly rolled her eyes, and then she relented. She leaned forward and kissed the indicted cheek very softly. Much to her surprise, before she could pull away completely, the Doctor wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. Once more, she heard the sound of his murmurs. This time she was sure it sounded like "Thank you."
Thus, Donna wrapped her arms around him. "You're welcome, Doctor," she said. "But promise me no more kissing... I mean licking everything and anywhere in the future... at least not without asking my permission first."
The Doctor's response was the unmistakable vibration of his laugh.