A/N: Welcome to...Recuperation! The second story in a series involving my OC the Professor! This story will involve revising Series 3 of Doctor Who to incorporate the Professor into it. This will definitely deal with quite a bit of recuperation for both the Doctor and Professor, one having just lost a dear Companion, the other just managing to start pushing past the fears and limitations her regneration has bestowed on her. Thankfully they will have, not just each other (cough cough wink wink), but the fantastic Martha Jones!

Just 8 little things to note before we get to it:

1. ~8~ is a scene break

2. ~/~\~ is a flashback

4...no, 3. 'italics' is the Doctor/Professor speaking telepathically.

4. If you haven't read Reunion, I'd recommend it. You could probably get by without, but to better understand the Professor, you'd probably need to have read it.

5 (or the little v). Much of this story, the stories with the Professor, are based more on the Doctor or Professor's point of view, so there will be scenes missing (I'm going to assume everyone's seen the episodes and knows what's going on during those missing scenes), however, whenever there is a missing scene that involves other characters talking about the Doctor, just use your imagination and add the Professor to that as well :)

6. A quick basic physical description of the Professor: long light ash-brown hair typically worn clipped back on one side, pale, about the same height as the Doctor, grey eyes, typical outfit is a simple white tank top with black trousers and a long grey waterfall cardigan.

7. I will be continuing to attempt updating EVERY DAY! Woo!

And...8. I managed to reach 60(!) reviews for my previous story, Reunion, THANK YOU SO MUCH to all who reviewed, and even all who didn't but still read the story ^-^ I have to say, this story will have 3 more chapters than that one, so...I'm hoping for 75 reviews by the end...maybe? Pretty please? lol, just keep that in mind when you eye those three little word at the bottom of the page... :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who...no matter how much I wish I did...

~8~

The Runaway Bride

The Doctor looked around as though he'd be able to find some sort of explanation for the ginger woman in her wedding dress standing in his TARDIS, the Professor however, just stared at the woman, bewildered.

"You can't do that," he gaped, "I wasn't...we're in flight! That is…that is physically impossible! How did…"

"Tell me where I am," the woman demanded, "I demand you tell me right now…where am I?"

"Inside the TARDIS," the Doctor stared at her as the Professor shook her head.

"The what…"

"The TARDIS," the Professor blinked a few times, shaking off her shock.

"The what?"

"The TARDIS!" the Doctor shouted, turning to the controls.

"The what?"

"It's called the TARDIS."

"That's not even a proper word! You're just saying things."

"How did you get in here?" the Professor asked softly, frowning at the woman.

"Well, obviously, when you kidnapped me! Who was it? Who's paying you? Is it Nerys? Oh, my God, she's finally got me back. This has got Nerys written all over it."

The Doctor turned as the woman yelled, watching her rant, still eyeing her with utter confusion, "Who the hell is Nerys?"

"Your best friend."

"No, that's me," the Professor stepped back over to him.

"Hold on, wait a minute," the Doctor cut in, "What're you dressed like that for?"

"I'm going ten pin bowling," the woman said sarcastically, before shouting again, "Why do you think, Dumbo? I was halfway up the aisle!"

"Dumbo?" the Professor raised an eyebrow at that.

The Doctor just fiddled with the controls as the woman walked around towards him, ranting, the Professor keeping an eye on her as she followed.

"I've been waiting all my life for this," the woman called, "I was just seconds away! And then you…I dunno, you drugged me or something!"

"We haven't done anything!" the Doctor defended.

"We're having the police on you! Me and my husband, as soon as he is my husband, we're gonna sue the living backside off ya!"

The Doctor had no reply to that, focusing instead on getting the controls set to get the woman back to wherever she came from. The woman looked over and noticed the doors, making a break for them.

"No, wait a minute!" the Professor shouted, having been watching her, "Don't!"

The woman had already thrown open the doors and stopped short at the sight of the supernova just outside. Her mouth fell open slightly as the Doctor and Professor exchanged a look and made their way over to her.

"You're in space," the Doctor explained gently, "Outer Space. This is my...spaceship. It's called the 'TARDIS.'"

"How am I breathing?" she gaped.

"The TARDIS is protecting us."

"Who are you?"

"I'm the Professor," the Professor introduced from the woman's side, before nodding over at the Doctor on her other side, "And that's the Doctor. And you are?"

"Donna."

"Human?" the Doctor asked, eyeing her up and down.

"Yeah. Is that optional?"

"Well, it is for me."

Donna glanced around at him, not any more surprised than she was by everything else, "You're an alien."

"Yeah."

She paused a moment, letting it sink in, before she spoke again, "It's freezing with these doors open."

The Professor reached out and quietly shut the doors as the Doctor dashed back to the console, "But I don't understand it and I understand everything!" the Professor scoffed lightly at that, "This…this can't happen! There is no way a human being can lock itself onto the TARDIS and transport itself inside. It must be..." he turned, grabbed an ophthalmoscope, and spun around to use it to look into Donna's eyes, all the while muttering rapidly, "Impossible. Some sort of subatomic connection? Something in the temporal field? Maybe something pulling you into alignment with the chronon shell. Maybe something macro-mining your DNA within the interior matrix. Maybe a genetic…"

Donna suddenly slapped him.

The Professor burst out laughing.

"What was that for?" he cried indignantly.

"Do you have any idea how fast you were talking?" the Professor giggled, "I've had just about 900 years of experience with it and even I had a hard time keeping up.

"Just get me to the church!" Donna shouted, fuming.

The Doctor dropped his instruments and turned back to the controls, "Right! Fine! I don't want you here anyway!"

The Professor walked over to him, taking his hand to stop him from putting in some sort of control that would inevitably blow up the Universe, and turned to Donna, "Where is this wedding?"

"Saint Mary's," Donna stated as they both started getting to work, putting in the coordinates, "Hayden Road, Chiswick, London, England, Earth, the Solar System…" she stopped suddenly, spotting a purple blouse slung over one of the railings, Rose's, and snatched it up, "I knew it!" she shouted accusingly, "Acting all innocent…" she strode over to them, waving the blouse around, "I'm not the first, am I? How many women have you abducted?"

The Doctor and Professor looked up from the controls, their eyes falling to the garment in Donna's hand. The Professor looked over to see the Doctor's saddened face, "That's my friend's," he said quietly.

"Where is she, then? Popped out for a space walk?"

"She's gone," the Professor stepped to his side, once again taking his hand in her own in comfort.

"Gone where?"

The Doctor swallowed hard, "We lost her."

"Well, you can hurry up and lose me!" she shouted furiously. She turned to watch them quietly work on the console, her angry expression fading as she saw the deep sadness and pain in their eyes, "How do you mean, 'lost?'" she asked, this time more softly.

The Doctor looked up at her and advanced, snatching the blouse away, and walking around the console. He tossed it back onto the railing before turning to the Professor who only gave him a small, sad smile. He nodded, taking a breath before calling out, "Right! Chiswick."

~8~

Donna practically ran out of the TARDIS as soon as it touched down. The Professor glanced outside through the door, right time, right planet…but it didn't look a thing like anywhere near a church.

"I said 'Saint Mary's,'" Donna shouted back at them, "What sort of Martian are you? Where's this?"

"Martian?" the Professor raised an eyebrow again.

The Doctor just stroked the edge of the TARDIS doors with concern, "Something's wrong with her...it's like she's..."

"Recalibrating?" the Professor suggested.

The Doctor's eyes widened as he rushed back in and over to the console, the Professor walking after him, "She's digesting," he agreed, neither of them noticing Donna looking around the outside of the TARDIS.

"What have you eaten?" the Doctor asked as he placed a hand on the rotor, "What's wrong?"

"Donna?" the Professor called over to the woman outside, "You've really gotta think. Is there anything that might've caused this?"

"Anything you might've done?" he nodded, still checking the controls, "Any sort of alien contact? I can't let you go wandering off in case you're dangerous. I mean, have you...have you seen lights in the sky? Or...did you touch something? Something…something different? Something strange? Something made out of a sort of metal or..."

"Who're you getting married to?" the Professor interrupted his ramblings, "Are you sure he's human?"

"He's not a bit overweight with a zip around his forehead, is he?"

Donna made no reply so they looked up to see her staring through the door at them, her hand over her mouth, before turning and running away.

"Donna!" the Professor shouted as they ran after her.

"Donna," the Doctor breathed, as they caught up and fell into step with the ginger.

"Leave me alone," she shot at them, "I just want to get married."

"Come back to the TARDIS," the Professor tried to suggest.

"No way! That box is too...weird."

"It's...bigger on the inside, that's all," the Doctor shrugged.

"Oh! That's all?" she sighed exaggeratedly and checked her watch, blinking back the tears, "Ten past three. I'm gonna miss it."

"You can phone them. Tell them where you are."

"How do I do that?"

"Haven't you got a mobile?" he frowned, it seemed like everyone had one.

Donna stared at him, as though it should be obvious, "I'm in my wedding dress. It doesn't have pockets. Who has pockets? Have you ever seen a bride with pockets? When I went to my fitting, do you think I said, 'Alison, the one thing I forgot to say is give me pockets?'"

The Professor let out a quiet laugh at that, "I like her."

In fact...Donna reminded quite a bit of her first incarnation, her original self. She had always been rather sarcastic, and something of a spitfire if the Doctor was to be believed...

"...this man you're marrying…what's his name?" the Doctor asked.

"Lance," Donna said affectionately.

"Good luck Lance…"

"Oi! No stupid Martian is gonna stop me from getting married. To hell with you!"

She turned and ran off leaving the duo to stand there, "I'm…I'm not...I'm not...I'm not from Mars…" the Doctor mumbled feebly.

The Professor just shook her head, "Come on."

They ran, catching up to her on a busy street trying to call down a taxi, "Taxi!" she shouted as one drove past her, "Why's his light on?"

The Doctor pointed, "There's another one!" he tried to run and catch it.

"Taxi!" Donna called as they stumbled into the road in an effort to catch the driver's attention, but again it just drove on, "Oi!"

"There's one!" he tried to run after it again, waving his arms, but it still drove past.

"Oi!"

"Do you have this effect on everyone?" the Doctor looked down at her, "Why aren't they stopping?"

"They think I'm in fancy dress."

A taxi drove past, hooting his horn, "Stay off the scotch darlin'!"

"They think I'm drunk!"

Two guys in a car yelled out the window, "You're fooling no one, mate!"

"They think I'm in drag!"

The Doctor looked Donna up and down appraisingly.

The Professor just rolled her eyes and stepped past the two of them, putting her fingers in her lips and whistling, long and piercing, actually causing Donna to wince and cover her ears. However, it attracted the attention of a taxi which ground to a halt before them. They all clambered into the backseat, a bit cramped with three people, but managing.

"Saint Mary's in Chiswick, just off Hayden Road," Donna instructed the driver, "It's an emergency, I'm getting married! Just...hurry up!"

"You know it'll cost you, sweetheart?" the driver called back, "Double rates today."

"Oh, my God!" Donna's eyes widened as she turned to the Doctor and the Professor, "Have you got any money?"

"Um...no," the Doctor replied, looking at the Professor who shook her head as well, "And you?"

Donna just gestured to her dress violently, "Pockets!"

~8~

"...and that goes double for your mother!" Donna shouted at the taxi driver who had just forced them to the curb, "I'll have him. I've got his number. I'll have him. Talk about the Christmas spirit."

The Doctor looked around, vaguely confused, "Is it Christmas?"

"Well, duh. Maybe not on Mars, but here it's Christmas Eve."

"I've always wanted to see Earth on Christmas…" the Professor remarked lightly.

"Phone box!" Donna shouted before the Doctor could reply, spotting it a few feet away, and ran for it, "We can reverse the charges!"

"How come you're getting married on Christmas Eve?" the Doctor asked as he and the Professor ran off as well.

"Can't bear it. I hate Christmas. Honeymoon in Morocco. Sunshine, lovely," he held the door open for her to get into the box, "What's the operator? I've not done this in years. What do you dial? 100?"

The Doctor whipped out the sonic and flashed it against the phone, "Just…just call direct."

The dial tone buzzed on the end of the receiver, getting Donna to turn to him, "What did you do?"

"Something…" he muttered, looking around, distracted, "Martian. Now, phone. I'll get money!"

He turned and sprinted to the nearest cash machine where a man was currently using it in front of him. The Professor shook her head and followed after him, taking his hand as he began to hop from foot to foot, impatient at how slow the man was being. He looked down at her, stopping his bobbing, though glancing at the man every few seconds, just waiting for him to move.

Finally, after what seemed like forever to the Doctor, the man moved. He darted forward and cast a furtive look around before using the sonic to retrieve cash from the machine. He grabbed a handful, about to turn back to Donna, when the Professor grabbed his arm tightly.

He looked down at her, seeing her gaze locked firmly on something in the distance. He turned and saw a row of masked Santa's playing trumpets a short distance away, "What is it?" he asked her quietly.

"Their stance is too stiff," she remarked, "They aren't breathing, and, you can just see it through the holes of the mask, metal. They're robots."

He nodded, putting his hand over hers when…

"Taxi!"

They turned to see Donna hailing a cab and getting right in, telling the driver the destination. She turned back, "Thanks for nothing, spaceman!" she shouted.

"Spaceman?" the Professor shook her head, wondering just how many more names this woman could come up with for the Doctor.

"I'll see you both in court!" she added before she turned and shut the door, the taxi heading off, a masked Santa driving.

"Donna!" they shouted, running after her, but they'd already gone. The Doctor looked back over at the Santas playing their instruments. One of them lowered their trumpet ominously, all three of them slowly moving to that position.

The Professor reached out and grabbed the sonic, turning to the cash machine and flicking it on, causing notes to fly everywhere. A mad scramble ensued as people tried to grab the money and stuff it in their pockets. The Doctor and Professor took off, running towards the TARDIS. They bolted inside and over to the controls, getting to work.

The Professor looked up sharply at the sound of a thump to see the Doctor holding a hammer.

"Did you just hit her?" she demanded.

"Worked didn't it?" he shouted as the rotor started to rise and fall.

She shook her head and moved over to the monitor, bringing up a tracker to follow the taxi and Donna's progress, inputting it into the console. It sparked violently, tilting dangerously.

"Behave!" he shouted, hitting the console with the hammer again.

"Stop hitting her!"

The TARDIS fell out of the sky, spinning through the air just above Donna's taxi.

"Have you got this?" he looked at her.

"Of course!" she replied as he nodded and ran towards the doors, "I actually PASSED my exams!"

"Oh yeah, yeah," he rolled his eyes at her, "Bring that up!"

He ran to the door, throwing them open as the Professor brought the TARDIS in line with the taxi, zooming along beside it.

Donna stared at him, her hands pressed against the window.

"Open the door!" he yelled.

"Do you what?" she shook her head.

"Open the door!"

"I can't, it's locked!" she demonstrated, trying to open the door, but unable to. He pulled out the sonic and flashed it at the door, allowing her to push the window open, "Santa's a robot!"

"Donna, open the door."

"What for?"

"You've got to jump!"

The robot driver turned his head at that.

"I'm not bleedin' flipping, jumping, I'm supposed to be getting married!"

The taxi sped off, overtaking the TARDIS. The Professor pulled a lever, speeding it up, causing a large series of explosions from the console. She pulled back with a snap, waving her hand as it had been burned by one of the explosions. She grit her teeth and stepped back to the console, leading it towards the taxi, accidently banging on the tops of the cars as she couldn't quite grip one of the levers as tightly as needed with her hand.

The Doctor struggled to regain his balance from the jolts but managed it, pointing the sonic at the robot, disabling it.

"Listen to me!" he called to Donna, "You've got to jump."

"I'm not jumping on a motorway," she shouted back obstinately.

"Whatever that thing is, it needs you. And whatever it needs you for, it's not good. Now, come on!"

"I'm in my wedding dress!"

"Yes! You look lovely! Come on!"

Breathing heavily with fear, Donna opened the door and positioned herself to jump, the Doctor held out his arms, ready to catch her.

"I can't do it," she shook her head, fearfully.

"Trust me."

"Is that what you said to her? Your friend? The one you lost? Did she trust you?"

"Yes, she did," he nodded, swallowing hard and looking down, catching sight of the Professor out of the corner of his eye, running around the console. He took a breath and turned back to Donna, a small weight lifting in his heart as he recalled…

"And she is not dead. She is so alive. Now, jump!"

So Donna jumped, with a scream, landing on top of the Doctor in a heap on the floor. He smiled at her before standing up and slamming the doors closed, the Professor piloting the TARDIS up into the sky and onto the roof of a nearby building.

As soon as it was down she ran over to Donna who had just picked herself up, "You did it!" she cried, hugging the woman.

Donna looked a bit stunned at the action but hugged the girl back nonetheless, her heart still pounding. Though a moment later the Professor was pulled past Donna towards the Doctor who had taken her hand and was holding it, palm up in his own, his specs on, examining the angry burn.

"What happened?" he asked quietly, concern evident in his voice as he gently touched it.

"Console exploded," she muttered.

He nodded and pulled out a white hanky from his pocket, wrapping it gently around her hand.

"Thanks," she smiled up at him.

He grinned down at her before glancing at the console which was smoking, "We better get out, let her settle," he muttered, pulling the door open and stepping out with Donna and the Professor.

Donna looked down at her watch as the Doctor and Professor looked a the TARDIS, smoke billowing from the doors.

"The funny thing is," the Doctor commented, walking over to Donna with the Professor, "For a spaceship, she doesn't really do that much flying. We'd better give her a couple of hours."

"You alright?" the Professor asked.

Donna shrugged, "Doesn't matter."

"Did we miss it?"

"Yeah."

"Well, you can book another date..." the Doctor tried to cheer her up.

"Course we can."

"Still got the honeymoon..."

"It's just a holiday now."

"Yeah..." he nodded, rubbing the side of his neck, "Yeah...sorry."

"It's not your fault."

"Oh!" he grinned, turning to the Professor, "That's a change."

"Wish we had a time machine," Donna laughed, "Then we could go back and get it right."

"...yeah, yeah," he agreed, glancing back at the TARDIS, "But...even if we did, I couldn't go back on someone's personal timeline. Apparently."

Donna gave the Doctor a suspicious glance before turning to go sit on the edge of the roof. The Doctor and Professor gave each other a glance before walking towards her. The Doctor pulled off his jacket and draped it around Donna's shoulders as he sat beside her.

"God, you're skinny," she commented, trying to tug the jacket closer, "This wouldn't fit a rat."

"Here," the Professor said, plucking it off the woman to put her own sweater around her, "Mine's a few sizes bigger than me."

"Why's that?" Donna looked over at her as she sat down on the other side of the Doctor.

"Dunno. Makes me feel safe when I wrap it around me, secure, cocooned, warm…"

The Doctor smiled softly at her before turning to Donna, "Oh, and you'd better put this on."

Donna looked down at what looked like a wedding ring in his hand, "Oh, do you have to rub it in?"

"Those creatures can trace you," the Professor explained gently, "This is a bio-damper. Should keep you hidden."

The Doctor nodded, slipping it onto Donna's finger, "With this ring, I thee bio-damp."

"For better or for worse," Donna laughed, "So, come on then. Robot Santas…what are they for?"

"Ah, your basic robo-scavenger. The Father Christmas stuff is just a disguise. They're trying to blend in. I met them last Christmas."

"Why, what happened then?"

The Doctor looked at her curiously, "...great big spaceship? Hovering over London? You didn't notice?"

"I had a bit of a hangover."

The Doctor nodded, looking out at the landscape, "I spent Christmas Day just over there," he nodded towards Rose's home, "The Powell Estate. With this...family. My friend, she had this family. Well, they were..." he paused for a moment, lost in thought, "Still...gone now."

"Still got me," the Professor comforted, loping her arm through his and leaning against his shoulder, earning a soft smile from him.

"Your friend..." Donna asked cautiously, sensing it was a touchy subject for them, "Who was she?"

"Question is," the Doctor sighed, ignoring the question, "What do camouflaged robot mercenaries want with you? And how did you get inside the TARDIS? I don't know..." he looked over at Donna, contemplating her as she rolled her eyes. He pulled out the sonic, "What's your job?"

"I'm a secretary," Donna replied.

He nodded, scanning her, "It's weird, I mean…you're not special, you're not powerful, you're not connected, you're not clever, you're not important..."

"I tend to disagree," the Professor cut in, sending the Doctor a disapproving look that he seemed to not notice.

"This friend of yours…" Donna glared at him, "Just before she left, did she punch you in the face?" she whacked the screwdriver aside, "Stop bleeping me!"

"What kind of secretary?" the Doctor asked.

"I'm at H.C. Clements. It's where I met Lance. I was temping," she smiled in thought, "I mean, it was all a bit posh really. I'd spent the last two years at a double glazing firm. Well, I thought…I'm never gonna fit in here. And then he made me a coffee. I mean, that just doesn't happen. Nobody gets the secretaries a coffee. And Lance…he's the head of HR! He don't need to bother with me! But he was nice, he was funny. And it turns out he thought everyone else was really snotty too. So that's how it started, me and him…one cup of coffee. That was it."

The Professor smiled at that, recalling just how she and the Doctor had first met in the Academy. She had been wandering the halls, carrying a small cup with her drink in it, when a boy raced around the corner, not more than 10 years old, and crashed into her. She'd ended up spilling her drink all down the front of his clothes and dropping her cup. She'd stutteringly apologized for it and moved to scoop up the cup only to reach for it with her slowly healing wrist…dropping it with a hiss of pain. The boy, not even concerned with the fact he was soaked with some sort of liquid, just stepped forward and took her wrist in his hands, slowly checking it before taking her to the healers. That same boy had taken it upon himself to walk with her to her classes in the days that followed, carrying her supplies as her one arm was wrapped in a protective casing till it fully healed. She would later tell him that he reminded her very much of the healers she read about on Earth, doctors.

"When was this?" the Doctor asked, snapping her out of her thoughts.

"Six months ago," Donna smiled.

"Bit quick, to get married..."

"Well...he insisted. And he nagged...and he nagged me...and he just...wore me down and then finally, I just gave in."

"What does H.C. Clements do?" the Professor asked.

"Oh, security systems, you know...entry codes, ID cards, that sort of thing. If you ask me, it's a posh name for 'locksmiths.'"

"Keys…" the Doctor nodded slowly, musing.

"Anyway, enough of my CV. Come on, it's time to face the consequences. Oh, this is gonna be so shaming. You can do the explaining, Martian-boy."

"Yeah. I'm not from Mars."

Donna nodded as they stood and reached out to help her up, "Neither am I," the Professor added.

"What?" Donna's eyes widened as she looked at the girl she had just assumed was one of the Doctor's human friends, "You're an alien too?"

"Yeah," the Professor laughed.

"But you look so normal! You look like a human!"

"Technically you look a Time Lord," she commented, "We came first."

"Time Lords?" Donna asked, looking at them, "That's what you're called?" they nodded and she just shook her head, "Nah, still think you're from Mars," they just shook their head at her as her expression fell, "Oh, I had this great big reception all planned. Everyone's gonna be heartbroken…"

~8~

Donna stopped short as she, the Doctor, and the Professor walked into the reception area to see a party in full swing. People were dancing, drinking, eating, laughing, having a merry old time. Donna folded her arms, glaring as her mother finally spotted her, freezing, the rest of the room following suit, till all eyes were on the three of them.

"You had the reception without me?" Donna demanded.

"Donna...what happened to ya?" a black man they could only assume was Lance ran over.

"You had the reception without me?"

There was an awkward pause as the Doctor leaned in and introduced cheerfully, "Hello! I'm the Doctor and this is the Professor."

Donna rounded on him, "They had the reception without me!"

"Yes, I gathered."

"Well, it was all paid for…why not?" a blonde woman stepped up snootily.

"Thank you, Nerys," Donna glared.

"Oh, so that's Nerys," the Professor commented, a bit louder than she thought she had…Nerys turned to gape at Donna, offended.

"Well, what were we supposed to do?" an older blond woman approached, clearly Donna's mum, "I got your silly little message in the end, 'I'm on Earth?' Very funny. What the hell happened? How did you do it? I mean, what's the trick because I'd love to know…"

Suddenly the whole room started talking all at once, some asking concerned questions, others shouting at her, a few chastising her, all causing a horrible cacophony of incomprehensible babble till Donna burst into tears. Instantly the anger melted into pity. Lance stepped forward and hugged her close as she cried on his shoulder. Everyone started to applaud when Donna glanced at the Doctor and Professor, winking at them through her fake tears.

"Oh, she's good," the Professor said quietly to the Doctor who could only smirk and nod.

~8~

The party continued as before, though now Donna had joined in. The Doctor and Professor leaned against the bar watching. The Doctor was smiling slightly before he glanced at the Professor to see her watching just a bit more sadly. His smile faded but then he noticed a man with a mobile phone and gestured to borrow it. The man handed it over. The Professor looked up at him questioningly as he just turned back to her, putting on his glasses and doing a WAP search for H.C. Clements. He cast a quick look around the room before pulling out the sonic and speeding up the process. They both looked on, in mounting dread, as the words 'Sole Proprietor: TORCHWOOD' popped up on screen.

He quickly closed the phone and returned it to the man, falling heavily back against the bar as his memories turned to the dark event that just happened involving the institute.

Suddenly the Professor stood up and walked away, he quickly got up and followed her to where she was quietly conversing with a man who had been videotaping the event.

"I taped the whole thing…" he heard the man say as he joined them, "They've all had a look. They said 'sell it to You've Been Framed.' I said 'more like the News.' Here we are..."

He played the tape, the camera zooming in on Donna's face as she disintegrated into golden particles with a scream.

"Can't be!" the Doctor gaped.

"Play it again?" the Professor asked, wanting confirmation.

"Clever, mind!" the cameraman nodded, "Good trick, I'll give her that. I was clapping."

They watched as once again Donna disappeared.

"But that looks like..." he trailed.

"Huon Particles," the Professor confirmed, concerned.

"What's that?" the cameraman asked.

"That's impossible, that's...ancient!" the Doctor shook his head, "Huon energy doesn't exist anymore, not for billions of years! So old that..."

"...it can't be hidden by a bio-damper!" the Professor shouted before rushing to a window and looking out only to see the Santas approaching. She looked back at the Doctor, nodding, and he shot off towards Donna.

"Donna!" he shouted, "Donna, they've found you."

"But you said I was safe," she gasped.

"The bio-damper doesn't work," the Professor said, joining them, "We've got to get everyone out."

Donna looked around at everyone still partying, "Oh, my God…it's all my family..."

"Out the back door!" he shouted, guiding them to it only to be confronted by two of the Santas.

"Maybe not," the Professor remarked, taking just the smallest of steps backwards in fear.

The Doctor quickly took her hand and they ran back inside. He darted over to another window to see two more Santas.

"We're trapped," Donna breathed.

The Doctor squinted, seeing one of the Santas holding some sort of remote which they raised. He looked back to see the Christmas tree in the middle of the room, "Christmas trees..."

"What about them?"

"They kill."

"Get away from the tree!" the Professor turned, shouting to the people as they ran back to the room.

"Don't touch the trees!" Donna added, trying to shoo some of the children away.

"Get away from the Christmas trees, everyone get away from them!" the Doctor called.

"Out! Lance, tell them!"

"Stay away from the tree!" the Professor yelled.

"Stay away from the tree!" the Doctor repeated.

"Oh, for God's sakes, they're idiots!" Donna's mum rolled her eyes at them, "Why? What's a Christmas tree gonna...oh!"

She trailed off as the baubles on the tree began to float up of their own accord. The Professor and the Doctor watched them mistrustfully as they hovered above everyone's heads.

"Professor?" he asked quietly, leaning a bit towards her.

She blinked, "They're bombs…get down!"

Suddenly the baubles started dive bombing all around the room, causing small explosions everywhere. Everyone started screaming and running for cover. Donna pulled Lance down to hide under a table while the Doctor and Professor ran over to the DJ's stand. The Santas came to a line on the opposite side of the room.

"Oi!" the Doctor popped up, "Santa! Word of advice: if you're attacking a man with a sonic screwdriver..." he grabbed the microphone, "...don't let him near the sound system!"

"Cover your ears!" the Professor shouted to the humans moments before he pressed the sonic into the amplifier, making a horrible, high-pitched, screeching noise. Thankfully everyone covered their ears as the Santas shook violently, falling to pieces.

The Doctor pulled the sonic away as he and the Professor ran over to the robots, looking at them while the rest of the party goers began to get up.

"Alright, Stan...you'll be alright," Donna's father said, "It's all over."

"Michael?" Donna ran to some children, "Connie?"

The Doctor picked up the control the Santa was using while the Professor examined one of their heads.

"Oh Senita, do something useful," Donna shouted.

"But what is it?" Donna's mum pointed at the Santas, "What were they?"

"Just stop wittering, just help 'em!"

"Look at that…remote control for the decorations," the Doctor remarked, holding up the device to Donna.

"But there's a second remote control for the robots," the Professor added, frowning down at one of the heads, "They're not scavengers anymore," she looked up at the Doctor, "I think someone's taken possession."

"Never mind all that, you're a doctor…people have been hurt," Donna cut in.

"Nah, they wanted you alive, look," he tossed a bauble at her, "They're not active now."

"All I'm saying…you could help..."

"There's still a signal!" the Professor called suddenly, her ear pressed to the side of the head. The Doctor stood up quickly, helping her up, the two of them taking off.

Donna caught up with them outside, the Doctor scanning the head with his sonic, trying to get a trace on the signal while the Professor held it, "There's someone behind this, directing the robo-force," he muttered.

"But why is it me?" Donna frowned, "What have I done?"

"If we find the controller, we'll find that out," the Professor reassured her.

"Oh!" the Doctor shouted, raising the sonic into the air, "It's up there. Something in the sky."

A moment later he pulled the sonic back and started banging it on his hand, "Lost the signal?" the Professor asked expectantly.

He nodded, turning to Donna, "We've got to get to your office, H.C. Clements. I think that's where it all started," he looked over to see Lance walking over, "Lance…is it Lance? Can you give us a lift?"

He darted off without waiting for an answer.

"Please?" the Professor asked, trying to make up for his impoliteness. Lance nodded.

~8~

The Doctor, Donna, the Professor, and Lance arrived at H.C. Clements, running into the building and then to Donna's desk, the Doctor heading straight to Donna's computer.

"This might just be a locksmith's," the Professor turned to explain to Donna and Lance, "But H.C. Clements was brought up 23 years ago by the Torchwood Institute."

"Who are they?" Donna frowned.

The Professor glanced at the Doctor a moment, "They were behind the battle of Canary Wharf," Donna just stared, "...Cyberman invasion?"

"Skies over London full of Daleks?" the Doctor tried, looking up at her.

"Oh, I was in Spain," she waved him off.

"They had Cybermen in Spain."

"Scuba diving."

"Oh Donna, you keep on missing it," the Doctor sighed, shaking his head before darting over to another computer, "Torchwood was destroyed, but H.C. Clements stayed in business. I think...someone else came in and took over…" he whacked the monitor, "The operation."

"But what do they want with me?"

"Somehow you've been dosed with Huon energy," the Professor told her as gently as possible, "And that's a problem because Huon energy hasn't existed since the Dark Times. The only place you'd find a Huon particle now is a remnant in the heart of the TARDIS."

"That's what happened," the Doctor spun around, picking up a cup, "Say...that's the TARDIS…and that's you," he picked up a pencil in his other hand, "The particles inside you activated. The two sets of particles magnetized and WHAP!" he tossed the pencil into the mug, "You were pulled inside the TARDIS."

"I'm a pencil inside a mug?" she breathed, weakly.

"Yes, you are," he nodded, while the Professor looked ready to smack him, "4H. Sums you up. Lance? What was H.C. Clements working on? Anything top secret? Special operations? Do not enter?"

"I don't know, I'm in charge of personnel," he said defensively, "I wasn't project manager," the Doctor turned to the computer and flashed the sonic, instantly displaying the page he'd been trying to find, "Why am I even explaining myself? What the hell are we talking about?"

"They make keys, that's the point," the Doctor said, pointing to the 3D plan of the building on the screen, "And look at this..." he looked up at the Professor, expectantly.

She smiled softly, recalling the first time he'd tried this with her, she'd gotten much better, "We're on the third floor."

He nodded and dashed off, the Professor, Lance, and Donna following him to the lift, "Underneath reception, there's a basement, yes?" he asked them. The doors pinged and opened as the Doctor and Professor stepped inside to look at the controls, "Then how come, when you look on the lift, there's a button marked 'lower basement?' There's a whole floor which doesn't exist on the official plans. So what's down there, then?"

"Are you telling me this building's got a secret floor?" Lance raised an eyebrow.

"No, I'm showing you this building's got a secret floor."

"It needs a key," Donna pointed out.

"We don't," the Professor replied, plucking the sonic out of the Doctor's hand and flashing the lock.

"Right then," the Doctor looked up at them, "Thanks you two, we can handle this, see you later."

"No chance, Martian," Donna shook her head, "You're the ones who keep saving my life, I ain't letting you out of my sight."

"Going down," he grinned as Donna got in.

"Lance?" she looked at her fiancé pointedly.

"Maybe I should go to the police…" Lance began.

"Inside."

He meekly joined them in the lift.

"To honor and obey?" the Doctor smirked at him.

"Tell me about it, mate," Lance groaned.

"OI!" Donna glared at them as the lift descended, stopping with a ping on the lower basement. They all stepped out, into a long, dark, dank, corridor that was dimly lit with an eerie green light, "Where are we? Well, what goes on down here?"

"Let's find out..." the Doctor said, looking at the Professor for a moment. She hesitated slightly so he held out his hand. She took it, starting down the hall with him.

"Do you think Mr. Clements knows about this place?" Donna wondered.

"The mysterious H.C. Clements?" the Doctor remarked, "I think he's part of it," he looked over when something caught his eye, "Oh, look…transport!"

~8~

The Doctor, Donna, and Lance trundled down the corridor, each standing on an electric scooter, the Professor standing on the back of the Doctor's. Donna just looked around at them, all taking the slow moving scooters, and burst out laughing. The Doctor joined in, feeling the Professor laughing a bit into his back as well, though Lance just seemed to miss the humor.

They came to a door that said 'Torchwood – Authorized personnel only,' so, naturally, they stepped off their scooters and went to investigate. The Doctor turned the wheel, opening the door to reveal a ladder leading up.

"Wait here," he muttered to Donna and Lance as the Professor started climbing up "Just need to get our bearings. Don't..." he turned to point at them sternly, "...do anything."

He turned and followed her up the ladder.

"You'd better come back!" Donna shouted up at them.

"I couldn't get rid of you if I tried," the Doctor called back.

"I don't think I'd try at all," the Professor's voice sounded distantly, "I rather like you."

Donna beamed at that as they watched them climb up.

"Donna...have you thought about this?" Lance asked her quietly, "Properly? I mean, this is serious! What the hell are we gonna do?"

"Oh, I thought July," she muttered, distracted, before smiling brightly at him and looking back up the ladder, watching as the top of the shaft opened and the two disappeared only to appear moments later, climbing back down.

"Thames flood barrier!" the Doctor called, jumping off the last rung of the ladder and lightly catching the Professor around the waist as she jumped down as well, "Right on top of us. Torchwood snuck in and built this place underneath."

"What, there's like a secret base hidden underneath a major London landmark?" Donna asked.

"I know!" the Doctor said, mock outraged, "Unheard of."

They turned and entered some sort of laboratory at the end of the hall, full of massive test tubes bubbling away, with chemistry equipment set up here and there.

"Oh, look at this!" the Doctor looked around, amazed, "Stunning!"

The Professor stopped short, spotting something a small ways away, "Particle extrusion."

"What does it do?" Donna asked.

"Particle extrusion?" the Doctor glanced over, before darting to the bubbling tubes the Professor had seen before, "Brilliant."

"They've been manufacturing Huon particles," the Professor shook her head, joining him beside the containers.

"In case our people got rid of Huons. They unraveled the atomic structure."

"Your people?" Lance frowned, "Who are they? What company do you represent?"

"Oh, we're freelancers," the Doctor waved him off, still more focused on the liquids, "But this lot are rebuilding them. They've been using the river! Extruding them through a flat hydrogen base so they've got the end result, Huon particles in liquid form."

He reached out and picked up a small test tube of the particles.

"And that's what's inside me?" Donna frowned.

The Professor gently reached out and took the particles from the Doctor, turning to Donna and twisting the knob at the top of it, making it glow gold and Donna along with it.

"Oh, my God!" Donna gasped.

"Because the particles are inert," the Doctor began, taking the container back, "They need something living to catalyze inside and that's you. Saturate the body and then...HA!" Donna jumped out of her skin as the Doctor became mad with enthusiasm once more, "The wedding! Yes, you're getting married, that's it! Best day of your life, walking down the aisle, oh, your body's a battleground! There's a chemical war inside! Adrenaline, acetylcholine, WHAM go the endorphins, oh you're cooking! Yeah, you're like a walking oven! A pressure cooker, a microwave, all churning away, the particles reach boiling point, SHAZAM!"

Donna slapped him.

"What did I do this time?" he demanded, indignant.

"Let's see," the Professor cut in, "In the span of 15 seconds you called her a battle ground, a host for chemical warfare, a walking oven, a pressure cooker, and a microwave. Any woman would have slapped you. I was about to slap you."

"Oh…" he blinked and turned to Donna, "Sorry…"

Donna just glared at him, "Are you enjoying this?" he just looked down. Donna took a breath to calm herself, "Right, just tell me, these particles, are they dangerous? Am I safe?"

"Yes!" he said, unconvincingly.

"Doctor...if your lot got rid of Huon particles...why did they do that?"

"Because they were deadly," the Professor told her gently.

"Oh, my God..."

"We'll sort it out, Donna," the Doctor promised.

"Whatever's been done to you, we'll reverse it," the Professor agreed.

"We're not about to lose someone else."

Suddenly there was a series of crashes and bangs from all around them.

"Oh, she is long since lost," a voice hissed.

One of the walls slid up to reveal a secret chamber with an enormous round hold in the floor, "I have waited so long, hibernating at the edge of the Universe..." Lance's eyes widened in horror as he hurriedly retreated through the door, "...until the secret heart was uncovered and called out to waken!"

The walls of the chamber lined with armed robots all wearing black hoods.

The Doctor, seemingly completely unperturbed, peered down the hole, "Someone's been digging...oh, very Torchwood. Drilled by laser. How far down does it go?"

The Professor frowned, peering down it, shaking her head, "It's too dark for me to make out the bottom. If I can't see that, I can't assess it."

"Down and down, all the way to the center of the Earth!" the voice hissed.

"Really?" the Doctor looked up, "Seriously? What for?"

"Dinosaurs," Donna answered, scuffling forward.

"What?"

"Dinosaurs?"

"What are you on about, dinosaurs?"

"That film, 'Under the Earth,' with dinosaurs. Trying to help!"

"That's not helping."

"Such a sweet couple," the voice hissed. The Doctor and Donna looked at each other before taking a step away.

"Only a madman talks to thin air and trust me, you don't want to make me mad," the Doctor called out.

"Too late," the Professor muttered jokingly.

"Yeah, thanks," he rolled his eyes good naturedly before turning back to the hole, "Where are you?"

"High in the sky, floating so high on Christmas night," the voice hissed.

"We didn't come all this way to talk on the intercom! Come on, let's have a look at you!"

"Who are you with such command?"

"I'm the Doctor."

"Prepare your best medicines, doctor-man, for you will be sick at heart," the voice hissed moments before a large, red spider woman appeared before them. A spider's body, a woman's torso, with a large red head, a number of eyes, snarling, and growling at them.

"The Racnoss..." the Professor breathed, recognizing it, "But that's impossible, you're one of the Racnoss!"

"Empress of the Racnoss," the Empress replied.

"If you're the Empress, where's the rest of the Racnoss?" the Doctor asked, "Or...are you the only one?"

"Such a sharp mind."

"That's it, the last of your kind."

"The Racnoss come from the Dark Times," the Professor explained to Donna, "Billions of years ago, billions. They were carnivores, omnivores, they devoured whole planets."

"Racnoss are born starving, is that our fault?" the Empress hissed.

"They eat people?" Donna gulped.

"H.C. Clements, did he wear those…those er, black and white shoes?" the Doctor asked out of nowhere.

"He did! We used to laugh, we used to call him the fat cat in spats."

The Doctor just nodded and pointed up to a web in the ceiling, a pair of black and white shoes, still attached to the late H.C. Clements, poking out.

"Oh, my God!" she gasped.

"Mm, my Christmas dinner," the Empress cackled.

"You shouldn't even exist!" the Doctor shouted back at the Empress.

"Way back in history," the Professor continued, "The Fledgling Empires went to war against the Racnoss…they were wiped out."

Donna nodded along before something behind the Empress caught her eye. She nearly gasped, seeing Lance appear on the balcony above the Racnoss. He quickly motioned for her to stay silent.

"Except for me," the Empress sneered, having followed the Professor's retelling.

"But that's what I've got inside me," Donna called quickly, trying to distract her from looking over at Lance, "That Huon energy thing. Oi! Look at me, lady, I'm talking. Where do I fit in? How comes I get all stacked up with these Huon particles?" Lance descended from the stairs, an axe in his hand, "Look at me, you! Look me in the eye and tell me."

"The bride is so feisty!" she commented.

"Yes, I am!" Donna nodded as the Doctor and Professor watched Lance approach the spider, "And I don't know what you are, you big...thing. But a spider's just a spider and an axe is an axe! Now, do it!"

Lance swung the axe, the Empress turning around and hissing at him.

And then he stopped.

And the Doctor and Professor looked at each other in concern, realizing what had happened.

Lance glanced around at Donna and started to laugh, the Empress joining in, "That was a good one," he pointed at the Empress, "Your face!"

"Lance is funny," the Empress replied.

"What?" Donna shook her head.

"I'm sorry," the Doctor told her quietly.

"Sorry for what?" she looked at him before turning to Lance, "Lance, don't be so stupid! Get her!"

"God, she's thick," he shook his head, staring at her pityingly, Donna just looked back at him, confused, the Professor taking a step closer and putting her arm around the woman's shoulders, comfortingly, this would not be easy for the woman, "Months I had to put up with her. Months. A woman who can't even point to Germany on a map."

"I don't understand," Donna whispered uncomprehendingly.

"How did you meet him?" the Professor asked her.

"In the office."

"He made you coffee," the Doctor said, trying to get her to realize it without having to actually say it.

"What?"

"Every day, I made you coffee," Lance called, as though he were talking to an idiot.

"You had to be dosed with liquid particles over six months," the Professor explained softly.

"He was poisoning me?" Donna looked at the woman, stunned.

"It was all there in the job title," the Doctor nodded, "The Head of Human Resources."

"This time, it's personnel," Lance smirked as he and the Racnoss laughed.

"But..." Donna shook her head, not wanting to believe it, "We were getting married."

"Well, I couldn't risk you running off," he sneered, "I had to say yes. And then I was stuck with a woman who thinks the height of excitement is a new flavor Pringle. Oh, I had to sit there and listen to all that yap yap yap…'oh, Brad and Angelina, is Posh pregnant?' X Factor, Atkins Diet, Feng Shui, split ends, text me, text me, text me, dear God, the never ending fountain of fat, stupid trivia."

The Professor glared at the man before squeezing the ginger tighter as the woman listened to her fiancé's abuse with increasing hurt and confusion.

"I deserve a medal," Lance finished.

"Oh, is that what she's offered you?" the Doctor shook his head at the man, loathing him as much as the Professor was for what he'd done to Donna, "The Empress of the Racnoss? What are you? Her consort?"

"It's better than a night with her."

"But I love you," Donna whispered.

"That's what made it easy," he replied nastily, The Professor moved to rub the woman's back, "What's the point of it all if the human race is nothing? That's what the Empress can give me. The chance to...go out there. To see it. The size of it all. I think you understand that, don't you, Doctor? Professor?"

"Who is this little physician?" the Empress asked, "And his mate?"

"What she said…Martian."

"Oh, we're sort of...homeless," the Doctor shook himself out of the shock of hearing the spider call the Professor his mate. He glanced over at the girl to see she was far too focused and worried about Donna to have noticed. He turned back to the Racnoss, "But the point is, what's down here? The Racnoss are extinct. What's gonna help you four thousand miles down? That's just the molten core of the Earth, isn't it?"

"I think he wants us to talk," Lance commented to the Racnoss.

"I think so too," she agreed, neither of them noticing the Professor reaching into the Doctor's coat and pulling out the capsule of Huon particles.

"Well, tough! All we need is Donna!"

"Kill this chattering little doctor-man!"

Donna quickly stood in front of the Doctor, "Don't you hurt him!"

"No, no, it's alright," the Doctor tried to calm her.

"No, I won't let them!"

"At arms!" the Empress shouted as the robots aimed their guns at the Doctor.

"Ah, now," the Doctor began, "Except…"

"Take aim!"

"Well, I just want to point out the obvious…"

"They won't hit the bride. They're such very good shots."

"Just…just…just…hold on, just a tick, just a tiny…just a little…tick," the Doctor cut in again, "If you think about it, the particles activated in Donna and drew her inside my spaceship…"

"So, reverse it..." the Professor smiled, holding up the capsule, tweaking the top, "The spaceship comes to her."

The particles started to glow in both the capsule and Donna.

"Fire!" the Empress called.

The robots fired a moment too late, the TARDIS already materializing around them, the trio safe inside.

"Off we go!" the Doctor shouted, racing to the console with the Professor.

"My key!" they could hear the Empress cry from outside as they disappeared, "My key!"

"Oh, you know what I said before about time machines?" the Doctor muttered to Donna as he piloted the TARDIS, "Well, I lied. And now we're gonna use it."

The Professor glanced up, seeing the woman sitting dejectedly on a chair, and quickly moved over to her.

"We need to find out what the Empress of the Racnoss is digging up," he continued, "If something's buried at the planet core, it must've been there since the beginning. That's just brilliant. Molto bene! I've always wanted to see this. Donna…we're going further back than I've ever been before."

He looked up to see the Professor sitting beside Donna, her arm around the woman as her shoulders shook with silent tears.

"Hey," the Professor whispered quietly, "It's alright…"

"No," Donna shook her head miserably, "No, it's not."

"You're right," she agreed, "But…I'll tell you what, I know how you feel."

Donna sniffled, scoffing just a bit, "So you've had your heart ripped out by the man you loved."

"Yes," she nodded, "I have."

Donna looked up at her, startled, as the Doctor's mouth dropped open, his eyes wide at her revelation. The Professor just smiled reassuringly at Donna, rubbing her arms as the woman cried.

~8~

The TARDIS clicked quietly and cooled down, having reached its destination. The Doctor peered around the console as the Professor remained trying to comfort the miserable Donna, just sitting beside the woman, holding her hand tightly.

"We've arrived..." he called quietly, "Want to see?"

"Come on," the Professor nudged the woman lightly, smiling encouragingly.

Donna sighed, "I s'pose."

The Doctor swung the monitor around, as though about to show them, when he frowned, "Oh, that scanner's a bit small. Maybe your way's best," he walked over to the door, "Come on."

The Professor helped Donna to her feet and walked over to the doors with her, "No human's ever seen this," she told the woman, "You'll be the first."

"All I want to see is my bed," she muttered.

"Donna Noble…welcome to the creation of the Earth," the Doctor announced before throwing open the doors, revealing a spectacular sight. Donna's mouth fell open, seeing the Sun shining brightly through a beautiful colored dust and gas cloud, enormous rocks floating all around.

"We've gone back 4.6 billion years," the Professor smiled at the woman's shock, "There's no solar system, not yet. Only dust and rocks and gas."

"That's the Sun over there," the Doctor pointed, "Brand new. Just beginning to burn."

"Where's the Earth?" Donna looked around.

"All around us...in the dust," the Professor replied.

"Puts the wedding in perspective. Lance was right. We're just...tiny."

"No, but that's what you do," the Doctor beamed, "The human race. Making sense out of chaos. Marking it out with weddings and Christmas and calendars. This whole process is beautiful, but only if it's being observed."

"So, I came out of all this?" Donna started to smile.

"Isn't that brilliant?" he laughed as a massive chunk of rock floated lazily past the TARDIS.

"I think that's the Isle of Wight," she remarked, earning a laugh out of everyone.

"Eventually, gravity takes hold," the Professor explained.

"Say, one big rock, heavier than the others, starts to pull other rocks towards it," the Doctor continued.

"All the dust and gas and elements get pulled in. Everything, piling in until you get the..."

"Earth," Donna finished.

"But the question is...what was that first rock?" the Doctor asked.

Just then a star shaped rock emerged through the clouds, "Look," Donna pointed.

"The Racnoss..." the Professor breathed.

The Doctor rushed back to the console and turned the wheel frantically, "Hold on…the Racnoss are hiding from the war! What's it doing?"

The rocks and particles of dust and gas started to zoom past, all towards the Racnoss as though drawn there by a magnetic force.

"Exactly what you said," Donna called back.

"They didn't just bury something at the center of the Earth..." the Professor told him, observing, "They became the center of the Earth. The first rock."

The Doctor looked up, stunned, before the TARDIS violently shuddered, nearly knocking them off their feet. The Professor quickly pulled Donna back in and shut the doors so neither of them would fall out into space.

"What was that?" Donna gasped.

"Trouble," the Doctor called, the Professor immediately running to his side despite the shuddering and tipping of the TARDIS.

"What the hell's it doing?" Donna shouted, trying to make her way over as the shaking got worse.

"Remember the trick with the particles pulling particles," the Professor called over to her, "It works in reverse…they're pulling us back!"

The Doctor and Professor desperately tried to pilot the TARDIS, but it was beyond their control, sending them whirling through the Vortex back towards the Racnoss.

"Well, can't you stop it?" Donna asked, "Hasn't it got a handbrake? Can't you reverse or warp or beam or something?"

"Backseat driver," the Doctor muttered, "Oh! Wait a minute!" he pulled out what looked like a small surfboard from underneath the console, "The extrapolator! Can't stop us, but it should give us a good bump!"

The Professor's eyes widened as she saw the Doctor pull out the mallet, "Oh, please, tell me you aren't going to…"

He whacked the extrapolator, "Now!" he shouted as the TARDIS dematerialized from the pit chamber and back to one of the corridors of the base.

"Oh, I hate you," the Professor shook her head at him.

"No, you don't," he grinned, before dashing off out of the TARDIS, the two women following close behind.

"We're about 200 yards to the right," the Professor explained to Donna.

"Come on!" the Doctor shouted as they ran, stopping a moment outside the doorway leading up to the Thames Flood Barrier.

"But what do we do?" Donna gasped, out of breath and scared.

The Doctor put a stethoscope to the door, listening intently behind it, "I don't know! I make it up as I go along! But trust me, I've got a history."

"And trust me," the Professor added, glancing at Donna as they stood behind him, "You don't want to know his history."

"Oi! I'm not that bad."

"But I still don't understand," Donna shook her head, cutting in, "I'm full of particles…but what for?"

"There's a Racnoss web at the center of the Earth," the Doctor began, speaking quickly, "But our people unraveled their power source. The Huon particles ceased to exist but the Racnoss are stuck," so caught up in his explanation was he that he didn't even notice the robots grabbing both Donna and the Professor from behind, covering their mouths and holding them around the arms so they couldn't scream or fight back as they dragged them off, "They've just been in hibernation for billions of years. Frozen. Dead. Kaput! So you're the new key. Brand new particles, living particles! They need you to open it…and you have never been so quiet."

He turned around to look behind him only to notice that both the Professor and Donna were gone. His eyes widened in terror as his hearts stopped, his mind flashing back to one brief moment in his past when he realized his Kata was gone, before closing his eyes quickly, 'Kata!' he called.

'Oh, now you notice,' she remarked.

He let out an enormous sigh of relief, 'Where are you?'

'Back in the pit chamber,' she replied, sending him a series of images, guiding him back to the chamber from where they'd stopped.

'I'll be there soon,' he promised.

'You better,' she threatened lightly.

He nodded to himself, turning to open the door with the sonic only to come face to face with an armed robot.

~8~

"I hate you," Donna spat at Lance as she and the Professor joined him in the webbing stationed above the pit.

"Yeah, I think we've gone a bit beyond that now, sweetheart," Lance remarked.

The Professor just shut her eyes, trying to breathe, not quite liking the fact she was looming above a near bottomless pit…the length of the fall was not really helping her calm down.

"My golden couple," the Empress smirked up at them, "Together at last…your awful wedded life. Tell me, do you want to be released?"

"Yes!" both Donna and Lance shouted.

"You're supposed to say 'I do.'"

"Ha," Lance sneered, "No chance."

"Say it!"

Lance glanced at Donna, "I do."

"I do," she replied quickly.

"I don't," the Empress cackled, "Activate the particles. Purge every last one!" both Donna and Lance began to glow once again, "And release!" the particles extracted themselves from the couple and zoomed down the hole, "The secret heart unlocks. And they will waken from their sleep of ages."

"Who will?" Donna asked, glancing over at the Professor who had opened her eyes, if only to watch the particles, "What's down there?"

"How thick are you?" Lance grumbled.

"She wasn't talking to you!" the Professor snapped at him, having had it with his treatment of Donna. She threw one more glare at him before looking at Donna, "The eggs."

"My children, the long lost Racnoss," the Empress cheered, "Now will be born to feast on flesh!" the chirping of thousands of spiders and the patters of their feet drifted up the hole, coming at an alarming rate, "The web-star shall come to me," she ordered, "My babies will be hungry. They need sustenance. Perish the web."

"Use her!" Lance struggled as the Empress turned her attention to him, "Not me! Use her!"

"Oh, my funny little Lance! But you are quite impolite to your lady friend. The Empress does not approve," the web around Lance loosened and he tumbled down into the hole.

"Laaaaaance!" Donna shrieked, not having wanted him to die.

"Harvest the humans!" the Empress commanded, "Reduce them to meat," one of the robots ascended the stairs, running up the side of the chamber, "My children are climbing towards me and none shall stop them!" she hissed and turned to the robot, "So you might as well unmask, my clever little doctor-man."

The robot removed his mask and cloak to reveal the Doctor underneath, "Oh well. Nice try. I've got you!" he pointed the sonic up at the web, "Remember the jungles Professor?" he called up to her, smirking.

She smiled, grabbing the webbing as tightly as she could before it snapped around her. She swung through the air, the Doctor reaching out and grabbing her as she neared him, pulling her safely over the railing, "You ok?" he asked her gently. She nodded and he turned his attention back to Donna, "Donna!" he aimed the sonic again, loosening the web.

"I'm gonna fall!" Donna screamed.

"You're gonna swing," the Professor reassured her, "Just like I did!"

And sure enough, Donna swung right over the hole holding onto one of the strands of web and towards the Doctor, "I've got ya!" he cried, his arms outstretched to catch her. Donna screamed and swung…right underneath the Doctor, smashing into the wall with a dull bang, "...oh. Sorry."

They peered over the railing to see Donna sprawled out on her back below them, "Thanks…for nothing," she moaned.

"The doctor-man and his mate amuse me," the Empress remarked.

"Empress of the Racnoss," the Doctor turned to her, "We give you one last chance. I can find you a planet. I can find you a place in the Universe to coexist. Take that offer and end this now."

"This man is so funny."

"Consider this hard," the Professor added, very angry at the spider for how she had manipulated Lance, hurt Donna, "For what you've done to these humans, you should consider yourself very lucky we are even offering this to you.

The Doctor nodded, "What's your answer?"

"Oh…I'm afraid I have to decline," she laughed.

"What happens next is your own doing."

"I'll show you what happens next. At arms!" the robots raised their guns, "Take aim!" they aimed, "And…"

"Relax," the Doctor said quietly, the robots going limp.

"What did you do?" Donna shouted up at him.

"Guess what I've got, Donna?" he smirked down at her, pulling the remote control for the robots from one of his pockets, "Pockets!"

"How did that fit in there?"

"They're bigger on the inside," the Professor smiled at her.

"Robo-forms are not necessary," the Empress dismissed, "My children may feast on Martian flesh."

"Oh, but we're not from Mars," the Professor turned to her, suddenly all serious.

"Then where?"

The Doctor took the Professor's hand, "Our home planet is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on. Gallifrey."

The Empress reared back, screeching, "They murdered the Racnoss!"

"We warned you," the Professor began.

"You did this," the Doctor finished, pulling out a handful of baubles from his pocket.

"No!" the Empress shrieked, now panicked, "No! Don't! No!"

The Doctor threw them into the air, some moving to surround the Empress while others smashed into the walls of the corridor, destroying them, letting in the water from the Thames. Another bauble exploded, causing a fire to spring up at the Empress's feet. She wailed as the water flooded into the chamber and down the hole.

"My children!" she cried, grief stricken. The Professor closed her eyes tightly, recalling the terrible time of the war, the mothers wailing that very same thing.

The Doctor stood, watching in silence, surrounded by fire and water, while the river swirled down the hole like a plughole.

"No!" the Empress continued to cry, in terrible pain, "My children! My children!"

"Doctor!" Donna shouted up at them, "You can stop now!"

But the Doctor made no move to stop, just watching as the Racnoss writhed and wailed in agony, his eyes full of darkness, pain…

"She's right," the Professor whispered at his side.

He looked down at her sharply, having gotten so absorbed in his memories he'd nearly forgotten she was there. He stared at her a moment before nodding and turned down to Donna, "Come on! Time we got you out!"

He took the Professor's hand and ran down the stairs toward Donna who was running up to them.

"Transport me!" the Racnoss cried, disappearing from the room in a blue light.

They paid her no heed as they reached Donna and ran down the corridor back to the barrier door, climbing up the ladder once more, "But what about the Empress?" Donna called to them as they started to climb.

"She's used up all her Huon energy," the Doctor explained, "She's defenseless!"

They reached the top of the ladder and climbed out into the night, cheering in delight when they saw the remains of the spaceship falling to Earth, the Racnoss destroyed.

"Just...there's one problem," Donna said, catching her breath.

"What's that?" the Doctor looked at her.

"We've drained the Thames."

They looked over to see the Thames was completely emptied of water. Unable to help themselves, they all collapsed into laughter once more.

~8~

The TARDIS appeared across the road from Donna's house, the three of them stepping outside.

"There we go," the Doctor smiled, "Told you she'd be alright. She can survive anything," he grinned, shooting a sly glance at the Professor, "Like someone else I know."

The Professor just shook her head at him.

"More than I've done," Donna commented.

The Doctor quickly pulled out the sonic and scanned her, "Nope! All the Huon particles have gone. No damage, you're fine."

"Yeah, but apart from that...I missed my wedding, lost my job, and became a widow on the same day. Sort of."

"We couldn't save him," the Professor remarked sadly. Despite how much she loathed that man, none of them wanted Lance to die.

"He deserved it," Donna remarked, unfeelingly. The Doctor raised an eyebrow and Donna's face softened, "No, he didn't," she looked back at her house, "I'd better get inside. They'll be worried."

"Best Christmas present they could have," the Professor remarked, watching as Donna's mother and father hugged through the window.

"Oh, no, forgot…you hate Christmas," the Doctor cut in.

"Yes, I do," Donna nodded.

The Doctor smirked, "Even if it snows?" he reached in and tweaked a hidden switch in the TARDIS. A ball of light shot up out of the top and exploded like a firework in the sky, shifting into falling snow.

Donna laughed with delight, "I can't believe you did that!"

"I can," the Professor remarked, "Never should have shown him that switch."

The Doctor just put his arm around her causally, shaking her just a bit, getting her to smile, before he turned to Donna, "It's just your basic atmospheric excitation."

"Merry Christmas," Donna offered them with a smile.

"And you," the Professor nodded.

"So...what will you do with yourself now?" the Doctor wondered.

"Not getting married for starters," Donna laughed, "And I'm not gonna temp anymore. I dunno...travel...see a bit more of planet Earth...walk in the dust. Just...go out there and do something."

"Well, you could always..." the Doctor trailed, looking down at the Professor.

"What?" Donna frowned, looking between them.

"...come with us," the Professor finished, agreeing with the Doctor, as she looked at the woman.

Donna smiled lightly, "No."

"Okay," the Doctor nodded, though Donna could tell they were both disappointed.

"I can't..."

"No, that's fine," he waved her off, feigning indifference, and not well.

"No, but really...everything we did today...do you live your lives like that?"

"...not all the time…"

"I think you do. And I couldn't."

"But you've seen it out there," the Professor cut in gently, "It's beautiful."

"And it's terrible," Donna shook her head, "That place was flooding and burning and they were dying and you…" she looked at the Doctor, "Were stood there like...I don't know...a stranger. And you…" she turned to the Professor, "You weren't gonna stop him," the Doctor blinked and looked at the Professor as if just realizing how true that was, how close she had come to burning with him under the Thames, because he knew she wouldn't leave him, "And then you made it snow…I mean, you scare me to death the both of you!"

There was silence.

'Do I scare you?' he asked her silently, almost desperate to know the answer.

'Never ever,' she replied, 'I could never be scared of you. Though…'

'What?' he glanced at her.

'With everything I've done,' she looked down sadly, 'By rights, you should be terrified of me.'

'Never ever.'

"Well then," he swallowed hard.

"Tell you what I will do though…Christmas dinner," Donna tried to smile, "Oh, come on."

"I don't do that sort of thing..."

"You did it last year, you said so."

"She's got you there," the Professor commented.

"And you might as well because Mum always cooks enough for twenty."

The Doctor hesitated, "Oh, alright then. But you go first, better warn them. And...don't say we're Martians!" he nodded back to the TARDIS, "We just have to park her properly..."

"Otherwise she might drift off to the Middle Ages," the Professor gave him a pointed look.

"That only happened once!" he rolled his eyes but with a smile on his face.

The Professor just shook her head and looked at Donna, a small frown now replacing her smile, "See you in a minute."

They turned to head back into the TARDIS, but Donna had caught the small frown and just knew they weren't going to park it. Her suspicious were confirmed when the TARDIS started to dematerialize.

"Doctor!" she shouted, "Professor!"

The engines stopped and the Doctor popped his head out the door with the Professor, "Blimey, you can shout," he muttered.

"Am I ever gonna see you again?"

"If we're lucky," the Professor smiled warmly.

"Just...promise me one thing. Find someone."

"We don't need anyone," the Doctor stressed. And he meant it. He and the Professor, together…what better team could there ever be?

"Yes, you do. Because sometimes, I think you need someone to stop you."

The Doctor blinked, "Yeah," he nodded quietly, pausing a moment, "Thanks then, Donna.

"Good luck," the Professor added.

"And just..." the Doctor trailed, trying to find the right words, "Be…"

"Magnificent," the Professor finished.

Donna smiled and laughed, "I think I will, yeah," they smiled and turned to go back into the TARDIS, "Doctor? Professor?"

The Doctor opened the door with mock exasperation while the Professor giggled quietly behind him, "Oh, what is it now?"

"That friend of yours...what was her name?"

The Doctor smiled sadly, the Professor taking his hand in silent support, "Her name was Rose."

And with that, they closed the door for the last time, but instead of dematerializing, the TARDIS just shot up into the night's sky, Donna watching with a sad smile before walking back home.

~8~

The Professor was sitting in the door of the TARDIS, staring outside at the stars with a sad, thoughtful expression on her face.

"Well, that was some almost-wedding," the Doctor called lightly, plopping down beside her, "Don't you think?"

She nodded absently, "Nothing like on Gallifrey though."

"Nah," he shook his head, "Unions on Gallifrey were so boring and stuffy."

"True. But…that's the Unions. I've always heard Bondings were the things of legends."

The Doctor eyed her for a moment before looking out at the stars. He nudged her slightly, "Remember how we promised to Bond to each other?"

"Yeah," she whispered, her heart in her throat, the almost-wedding had brought up that memory along with painful others.

"That was why we told each other our true names. Only Bonded pairs were meant to do that."

She swallowed hard, "We were stupid children back then."

"Were we?" he asked, hurt twisting in his stomach. Had she regretted it?

She didn't reply.

They sat there, in silence, for what felt like hours, before she spoke again, "I always thought I'd Bond to you," she admitted, so quietly he almost hadn't heard her. His head snapped to look at her, "It's why I never took an interest in anyone at the Academy, not that the school encouraged those relationships."

He blinked just a bit, still reeling from her revelation, "I may have had a hand in that…" he admitted as well. She looked at him curiously, "It may have spread through the boys that you were off limits…already taken…by me…"

She nodded, blinking back tears as she turned to look at the stars again, the most painful memory hitting her, "And then you United with Mayra."

His hearts sped up at the 'in' he'd just been given, a chance to truly come clean to her, tell her what had haunted him for centuries. He had to tell her, he'd lost so much already. Losing Rose, coming so close to having lost the Professor as well, had made him realize he couldn't risk losing her before she finally knew the truth.

"And I hated myself for it."

"I told you Theta," she reached out and took his hand, despite her pain, she would never use it against him, "I could never think les…"

"Not for that," he cut in gently, squeezing her hand, "I hated myself for Uniting with her at all."

"What?" she shook her head, not understanding, "Why?"

"Because I loved you," he looked at her, tears in his eyes.

Her mouth fell open.

"You have no idea how hard those two years were when you were at the Academy and I graduated. Not being able to see you every day and even when I could see you, still not being able to do anything…" he shook his head, "The day you graduated was probably the happiest day of my life…because I thought I'd be able to tell you, finally."

"Why didn't you?" she asked, tears falling from her eyes. Never ever in her wildest dreams had she thought this would happen.

"I wanted to wait to surprise you, tell you at your party. Make it a night you'd never forget. You got cornered by well wishers nearly the whole time and…I spoke with your mum…she was gushing to her friends and family about how you'd been offered a position as an Academic. And Kata, that was your dream! To finally be given the opportunity…" he shook his head, "I couldn't tell you after learning that…because you would either have had to give it up because of the rules or we'd have to wait another 200 years…" he laughed scornfully, "I was a coward. I was too afraid of waiting that long, I mean, 2 years felt like 200, could you imagine what 200…" he swallowed hard, "And then Mayra came over, praising her cousin…and she looked like you…"

He blinked and a tear actually fell from his eyes, but she couldn't move to wipe it away, she was paralyzed.

"But after the first time I spoke with her, I knew she was nothing like you at all. She was vapid, and shallow, and pretentious…and she asked to see me…I thought, she was your cousin, the least I could do was see her ONCE…but then…she changed, she started acting like you, and talking like you, and dressing like you and I thought…" he screwed his eyes shut, "I thought, if I couldn't have you, I could have someone like you. I hated myself for thinking like that…" she tightened her grip on his hand, "And once we United, it was like a flip switched, and she was that same vapid, shallow girl from before…"

He looked over and saw the Professor was silently crying, tears falling down her face, "I'm so sorry, Kata, so incredibly sorry…"

"I wasn't going to say yes," she cut in, "To the Academy. I was going to turn them down…I didn't want to wait either…"

He couldn't help but laugh at how absurd they both had been…he pulled her into his arms, holding her tight as they both just cried for their missed opportunity and thanks at being given another one again.

"You know…" he said after a moment, pulling away to take her head in his hands, "I never, never went through with a Bonding to Mayra. Never. She pushed, but…I just couldn't. We were United and that was it."

"I know," she nodded. He'd never called Mayra by her true name, Mayra meaning 'Beauty' in the language of the Eternals, a name she'd chosen for herself when the time had come, "She complained about it often enough to me."

"And you do realize…" he continued, looking at her intently, "To be Bound, there are five steps…" she nodded, now a bit confused as to why he was bringing it up, "The blessing of the families, exchanging of names, creation of a mental bond, promising before a newly born star, and the sealing of the souls."

"Yes…" she nodded.

He looked at her as though she were missing something quite obvious and just smiled fondly as she stared up at him, "We've done 4 of 5."

She blinked, "We've…what?"

"Both our families thought we'd Bond one day, Kata."

'And don't you remember that trip during the Academy?' he added quietly to her, through their mental bond, before speaking out loud again, "When we went to see that star being born? What we promised each other?"

She let out a breath, "Yes, but…that still leaves the sealing of the souls."

His grin widened as he pulled her forward, kissing her deeply for the first time ever…

A/N: Are you squealing now? I hope so! We have now officially begun Proftor er...Docsor? Doctor/Professor! Or...Kaeta? Hmm...anyone else have any ideas for a name for this couple? If I get a few more by the time I post Evolution of the Daleks, we can have a vote :)

So, Mayra's name and history of it, completely made up :)

And...if you loved the interaction between Donna and the Professor...all I'm going to say is that you're really going to feel for our beloved ginger come Partners in Crime. That's all I'm gonna say about that.

And finally...I talk a little bit more about the Bondings vs. Unions in later chapters, but just to clear it up more. Unions are basically like a human wedding, you make promises, sign a bit of paper, etc. Bondings are a much deeper, more powerful ceremony that connects two Time Lords. In my story-universe, the only people who know the true name of a Time Lord are close family and you're not to EVER tell anyone else what it is unless it's for a ceremony involving the creation of families, like a Bonding, where you are accepted into each other's family. It also symbolizes how deeply you each trust each other (and how much the families trust the both of you) and keeps with the fact that only family knows your true name. All Time Lords share a subtle mental connection (being able to sense each other and so) but a Bonded pair are connected specifically to each other mentally, a bond they CHOOSE to create with each other. It takes phenomenal trust to allow someone full access to your mind and thoughts (though they can block certain things from time to time). The promising before a just-born star implies their love will last as long as the star and beyond and burn just as brightly and powerfully, also implying the immortality of the love as (I remember seeing a special that) some new stars can form from the gasses left behind from a dying star). As for the sealing of the souls...I just REALLY wanted them to kiss already!