Warning: there is talk of mutually consented adult sex here; and the odd mild swear word.

Summary: the Doctor catches Donna reading a magazine article about 'friends with benefits' and wonders what it means.

Disclaimer: I swear I don't even own such a magazine she is reading here! My mother forces me to look at the covers when we are in Tesco, but I refuse to read them. Oh, and the usual not mine blah BBC blah regarding the characters.

A/N: this was written as a birthday fic for tkel-paris to replace the one that ground to a halt. Sorry for the delay.

A/N2: this is probably set between The Library and Midnight; but does it really matter? Unfortunately it never happened.


The Benefits System

Part One

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Donna was reading one of her trashy magazines; one of the ones her mother had saved for her and they had picked up on their last visit home. The visit hadn't gone too badly, considering it was Sylvia that was involved and she didn't seem to have too high an opinion of the Doctor. As if it was his fault the wedding had gone wrong!

No, he refused to take responsibility for Lance's cruel manipulation of Donna. Her compassion for the dying Racnoss' children had brought him out of his self-destruct sequence and had soothed his soul. The consequential refusal to travel with him still hurt, but she had all but obliterated that as well in the meantime.

It was as he remembered this that he noticed the faint blush that suddenly appeared on her cheeks, and curiosity reared its head. Looking up from his book, one of those ever interesting temporal physics books that he loved to dip in and out of, he asked his question. "What are you reading about, Donna?"

Her eyebrows shot up into her hairline for a second, and then she tried desperately to school her face into an unfazed expression. "It's merely about friends that are a bit more special; what they call nowadays 'friends with benefits'," she explained.

"Don't all friends come with benefits?" he innocently queried, putting his reading matter to the side. There was obviously more to this then what the title suggested.

"Oh yes," she hastily agreed. "Friends are always good things, but these friends…" She gave a nod towards the magazine that was held within her grasp. "…they erm… do things for each other."

Her body posture was telling him this was an embarrassing topic, and one he could have fun teasing her about. So he pounced, metaphorically speaking. "Things? Things like cut your lawn, post a letter, sign a form? Or are we referring to a different level of favours?"

That blush reappeared on her cheeks. "Well I'm not talking having your kids for a whole weekend, Sunshine! I mean that the friends are also sexual partners when need be."

That statement definitely dropped an emotional bombshell into the conversation, and his jaw dropped down in shock. "You mean they…? Whenever they want…?" he wondered in his bemusement.

"Yes," she answered, stringing out the single syllable into three. "D'uh!"

"I didn't know that sort of thing happened," he confessed.

"You do now," she replied, trying to cover her embarrassment at having told him.

He stared at her for a few seconds. Friends with benefits… yes, he could understand that happening, if their friendship was that good and the friend in question was attractive enough to spark sexual interest. Not that he thought of Donna in that way, since they were very good friends. In fact he would readily class her as his best friend.

Realising that he was still staring, he gave a cough and suggested they had something to eat or at least a cup of tea. Strangely enough she agreed without hesitation. Perhaps she was hungry too?

Donna instantly wondered why she had admitted what she was reading about. She could have just as easily mentioned the previous article about some women who reckoned she was having the baby of her late husband's ghost. That would have still been about sex, but not have been about anything remotely personal. But oh no! She had to be totally honest and mention the tantalising article about friends with benefits. Made all the more tantalising by the fact she had not been anywhere near a man for absolutely months.

Not that she saw him as being even faintly sexy, what with his long skinny legs, ultra-thin body, flat waist, freckle-laden pale skin that peeped out from under his shirt at times, and those long slender fingers that sometimes dipped into the jam when he thought she wasn't looking. He thought she hadn't seen him suck the jam off his fingers either; but she had. That mouth enjoying that much pleasure was very watchable at times. So she had fantasies… so what? Didn't everyone? All she knew was that she would never act on them, so it was all safe. There was nothing to write home about concerning that side of her life. Which was quite a shame when you thought about it, but that was how it was between them.

Ten minutes later they were sat in the kitchen in front of corn beef salad sandwiches and freshly brewed tea. Some of the salad filling had escaped from Donna's sandwich onto her plate, and she was picking pieces up daintily and placing them in her mouth. The Doctor watched in fascination as each piece disappeared between her teeth and onto her tongue; and with it came a startling revelation. He realised that he would have to be the one to broach the subject. Yes, him.

Cautiously he cleared his throat, and then began. "About this 'friends with benefits' idea, how exactly does it work?" When Donna gazed at him with incredulity, he surged on. "I mean, how does one start such a relationship? It's not as if you can suddenly greet a friend with the words 'come to bed with me'."

"Doctor! Trust you to want to know the ins and outs of a cat's behind. I don't know how you start such a thing. I can easily imagine how you'd ask a male friend to be a sperm donor, so perhaps you'd say it in the same way," she suggested.

He frowned. "You've asked someone for their sperm?"

"No! I said I could imagine it, you prawn. They often have it happen in modern romantic comedies," she explained. "I haven't actually done that…"

"Where you going to say 'yet'?" he asked knowingly. "Donna Noble, I cannot believe you were considering asking that." He smiled teasingly at her, and was gratified by her blush.

She smiled wryly back. "Shut up! I didn't do it, okay; I only thought about it."

"So…" He edged nearer across the table towards her. "How would you ask a friend for extra benefits considering how you'd possible ask for their sperm?" he insisted on asking.

He was a bit close now, she thought. Right in her face, in fact. Anyone would think he was eager to know… well, this was the Doctor; he was keen to learn everything. Except she would never have contemplated him wanting to know this. She nervously licked her bottom lip as she decided where to begin explaining. "I would probably start by saying how much I need …," she started to say; and then dipped her head and quietly added, "…sex." She then slightly paused to gauge his reaction which was interested rather than dismissive. "And then I would point out that we are two grown adults with needs that could be mutually satisfied without being emotionally tied to each other."

"By 'emotionally tied' you mean what exactly?" he tried to clarify.

She allowed her hand to lightly touch his arm for an instant. "I mean a boyfriend/girlfriend situation or aiming towards marriage. We'd be as free as a bird." Her expression was soft, open, and inviting.

"That's all well and good having sex without emotional attachment like that, but what if you fall pregnant. What then?" he wondered.

She shrugged dismissively. "Then I'd end up as a mother, just as I wanted, but without a husband. I'd hope that I had a very supportive friend and father for my child should it ever happen." She gazed expectantly at him.

"Oh yes, definitely. It would be extremely disrespectful to walk away from you if we… er… you had a child. I can't imagine why someone would want to abandon you in such a situation," he concurred, and reached out take one of her hands to hold between his. He thoughtfully rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand. "I can see where the benefits come into it."

She chuckled. "Doctor, the benefits are supposed to be the sex sessions, not the unlikely fatherhood," she pointed out.

"I knew that!" he brightly insisted, but she guessed accurately that he wasn't focusing on that aspect. "Although I don't like the label 'sex sessions'. Makes it sound like a dodgy photo shoot, or bookings with a call girl," he said with more than a hint of disgust in his voice.

"What would you call it then, since 'lovemaking' sort of implies there is an emotional attachment?" Donna queried.

The Doctor shook his head. "Friends do love each other, there is an emotional attachment, so I shall stick to the 'lovemaking' label if it's okay with you."

"Yeah, that's fine," she agreed. "Lovemaking it is." There was a loaded pause while she looked down at his hands still desperately grasping one of hers. "Have I got this wrong or did we just agree to be friends with benefits?"

A broad grin lit up his face. "I think we did! Wow. I hadn't expected that."

"Me neither! So what do we do next….? Don't give me that look! Yes, that one, that wonders if I'm dafter than a brush. I'm trying to be practical here," she huffed indignantly.

His tongue dipped out and smoothed its way across his top lip. "I suppose we could try something out, if you like."

The frown was back. "Like what?"

"Kissing," he said in a weirdly squeaky voice.

Donna just about managed to hold in a laugh. It wouldn't do to upset him when he was being so vulnerable. "Okay. Kissing sounds like a good start. Do we need to go brush our teeth or anything first?" she asked nervously. Blimey! This was monumental!

He considered what they had just consumed. "You've just had onion in that sandwich, so perhaps we should, just in case. We don't want to ruin our first proper try, so we?"

"We certainly can't class that kiss in 1926 as a proper try, or even a nice one can we," she said as the flavour of that kiss lingered horribly in her memory. "At least you didn't have anchovies this time."

They shared a smile of remembrance.

"It was still good enough to save my life," he added, and tried not to squirm as he thought of his embarrassed reaction that time. Oh yes, he had wanted to do it again! "Let's go brush our teeth then. We could also shower if you like?" Donna glared at him in disbelief. "Not necessarily together," he hastily blurted out. "Unless you…? No, separate and nothing remotely saucy yet. Just kissing. Lovely kissing to see if we want to go further."

Did he ever stop babbling? Donna drew in a deep breath and placed her spare hand over his mouth to shut him up before moving it to rest on his jawline. "Right, this is the plan: we will go brush our teeth, shower and generally ponce about to get ready." This gained a nod of approval. "After that, do you want us to get dressed or to stay naked beneath our bathrobes?"

A dark, lustful gaze tore back at her for a second from his chocolate brown eyes. "How about a compromise?" he suggested. "We keep our underwear on."

He classed that as a compromise, did he? The cheeky so-and-so! "Okay, Spaceman. Where shall we meet?"

"I'll come and find you," he replied, his voice thick with promise.

She felt a thrill deep within her as he spoke; and she blessed the fact this was happening. If it was a dream, it was a bloody good dream and she didn't want to wake up yet!

"I'll meet you there," she said as breathily as she could, and tenderly caressed his cheek.