They were standing at the checkout lane at Tescos. Donna had insisted. "There's only so many ways you can eat one of those food bars before you just have to have real food!" she'd complained.
Finally he'd broken down and landed them back in 2012, in an alley behind a Tescos.
He'd reluctantly followed her in, dragging his sneaker-clad feet. Of all the places in the universe for him to end up. A supermarket. Gaudy, overbright fluorescent lights, tacky displays, and food in little plastic containers with cartoon characters on them.
It was demoralizing
Donna chirped away, pushing her rattly metal cart, studying the list she'd compiled while making snide remarks about the sparsity of his kitchen. "Really, you don't even have any milk!"
"Potatoes, broccoli, carrots..." He made a face behind her back. Strolling along with his hands in his long coat pockets, trying to ignore the "nutritious mother" that had inexplicably come out in his Companion.
Donna tossed bags of vegetables in her cart, then went down the soup aisle and stood there, actually reading the ingredients on the soup cans. He looked over her shoulder and grimaced, if she had half the knowledge he did of what those chemicals actually were, she wouldn't even touch the can.
"Oh quit whining" she said.
"I am not whining," he said, on his dignity, one eyebrow going up superciliously. She grunted at him.
"Here, you push the cart," she shoved the cart at him and his shoulders slumped as he slouched over the handlebar and trolled after her. Really, what was wrong with food bars?
They turned down the frozen food aisle and he perked up. "Ice Cream!" He heard a cart go rattling past the end of the aisle at a breakneck speed, feet pattering in an uncontrolled staccato after it. He ignored it.
He whipped open a frosted door and dumped a gallon drum of white, red, and blue flecked ice cream into the cart. Donna turned at the thud. She raised annoyed eyes at him. "Oh, you would."
"Peppermint!" he exclaimed happily, grinning cheekily.
"I hope you get sick," she said. She turned around and clutched her list. "Corn, I am only looking for corn. Resist. Resist." Her eyes flickered sideways, slowly tracking her way past the rocky road, the fudge ripple, the butter pecan.
He pulled open another door and dumped a gallon of rocky road into the cart. She turned and stared at it. Stared at him. Her eyes narrowed dangerously. "You, are evil."
"You love rocky road," he reminded her, twisting on his heels. Grinning at her.
"I. am. on. a. diet," she explained very slowly, as if to a moron, her knuckles going white around her very nutritious shopping list.
"Okay. I'll eat it." He knew it would irritate her. He had no idea why she thought she needed to lose weight. She was lovely as she was. But she absolutely refused to believe it.
She dumped a jumbo bag of frozen chicken breasts over the ice cream buckets, blocking them from view. They hit like rocks.
"This is why men can't shop," she said sanctimoniously, ostentatiously ticking the chicken off her list. "If it was up to you we'd live off peanut butter."
He gave her a wicked grin. "Better put that on your list, we're almost out."
A harassed and overly loud voice burst out over the squealing intercom, "Cleanup on aisle five... And six." The voice was obviously disgusted. There was the sound of a loud clatter, as if an entire pyramid of cans had suddenly avalanched down. "And aisle seven."
The Doctor heard a high pitched yelping laugh over the shelves and shrugged. At least someone was having fun.
"Juice!" Donna held up her pencil like a general as they turned into the next aisle. "Apple," she dropped a large can into the basket. He nodded. "Grape," two more followed, along with a handy "take it anywhere" six pack of bottles. He nodded. "Carrot."
He stood up ramrod straight and jerked the cart out from under the can. She jerked and stood up, turning back to him, barely catching the can in time. "What are you playing at?" she demanded.
He shook his head, glaring.
"What?" she demanded.
"No carrot juice. Not while I'm alive," he said it with a voice of doom.
She reached to put the can in the cart, he wiggled it away. She plopped her hands on her hips. "What is your problem?"
"I'll tolerate the broccoli, but I will not have carrot juice in the Tardis," he said with finality. As if it was a Dalek.
"It's not for you, earwax, it's for me." She tried to put the can in the cart again and he backed up.
"Your hair's not orange enough?" he asked.
She gaped at him. Then her eyebrows came down, her mouth firmed up, her eyes squinted, and she raised the football sized can as if she was thinking of throwing it at him. This was going to hurt. Some things were worth it. He winced but held firm.
"Fine!" She slammed the can back on the shelf with enough force to rattle the whole aisle. She stalked off. "I'm not the one who needs glasses."
Ooh, he was going to pay for that, he knew.
There was a whoop of hilarity from the other end of the store, and a sound like a dozen cantaloupes rolling across the floor at once.
The intercom squealed to life with an amplified and put upon sigh. "Aisle 12." It droned hopelessly.
Really, the Doctor thought. Someone's kid was going to get in trouble.
They strolled down the next aisle and Donna looked neither left, at the endless array of cookies, nor right at the wall of chips. The Doctor kept his mouth shut, but looked at the cookies longingly. The whole aisle looked as if a tornado had gone through it. Or a ravenous horde of Keebler Elves.
He sighed as he spotted a bag of his favorite wavy shortbread cookies. At least Rose let him have cookies. He surreptitiously reached for a bag.
"Don't even think about it, Spaceman," Donna said, without even turning around.
He sighed. Maybe he could reprogram the food machine to produce some.
His mood got lower and lower, and his slouch got lower and lower as they progressed through the plastic overlit aisles. Milk, orange juice, over-fibered tasteless whole wheat bread. When she tossed in a bag of prunes he shuddered.
He could hear the fast, machine gun rattle of carts rocketing through the store, a high pitched and low pitched laugh, and one time a bag of cinnamon rolls arched over the racks and landed unexpectedly right in the middle of his cart. "Oops. SORRY!" A light baritone voice laughed from the other aisle.
He darted a glance at Donna, and quickly moved the bag of fish sticks to cover the icinged treats. She didn't turn around.
They, finally, made it to the checkout lane. He looked glumly down at all the nutritious food filling their cart, and another one Donna had picked up along the way. She was conscientiously ticking off items on her list, making sure she'd gotten it all. He reached for a package of blueberry gum at the checkout, she actually swatted his hand with her pencil.
He felt all of five years old. He pouted.
Donna turned and saw him, her hand held out for his psychic paper. "Oh, please," she said, as he slapped it in her hand. "I thought you were a Time Lord. Act your age." She turned her back on him and started piling their groceries onto the checkout stand. He stuck his tongue out at her.
There was a commotion in the next aisle, a huge rattle as a veritable train of shopping carts was pushed into the checkout lane. They were fastened together, higgledy-piggledy, front to end to front to end with an overstretched pair of suspenders, a bow tie, an electrical extension cord with the cardboard wrapper still attached, and even by a dangling roll of saran wrap wound round and round the bars.
They were filled to heaping with packages of cookies, chips, cinnamon rolls, pastries, cakes, pies, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars, popsicles, grapes and strawberries and whipped cream and chocolate milk and no less than five full sized watermelons.
And one entire cart filled with every conceivable variety of daiquiri mix.
His mouth watered, his hearts beat sharply with envy, and he heard that joyous, heedless, infectious laugh again. He looked up, over the racks of magazines and saw a tall gangly man with floppy hair, his shirt collar lying open where the bowtie probably should be. Proudly holding the handle of the last cart, dancing lightly in place, his eyes twinkling as the woman between the last two carts expertly maneuvered their makeshift train up the checkout aisle.
His hearts stuttered. The woman laughed, a deep husky sound, her bright eyes twinkling right back at the man. She leaned forward and planted a red lipstick kiss on the man's oversized jaw.
Hair a riotous halo of familiar curls, eyes sparkling with joy, the man was babbling something in obvious delight, the woman was giggling right back at him, and their carts were full of sugar and junk food.
"Come on, Spaceman! Get a shift on!" Donna demanded. He whipped his head back. He checked the angles of displays blocking the lanes. She couldn't see. He stared down at the bags and bags of "nutritious" food she was piling in his arms.
Then over at the bright sparkling couple laughing beyond them. The man suddenly threw his arms wide with some comment he was making, and knocked down a whole endcap of beef jerky, bags of dried cow bits cascaded all over the floor. The man looked mortified, the woman laughed, and kissed him. They bent to start picking up the mess, throwing some of the bags happily into their carts.
The Doctor looked down at the bags full of broccoli and chicken breasts in his hands.
The intercom squealed to life with an exaggerated sigh.
"Cleanup on Aisle 11."
The Doctor grinned and hustled Donna out. He suddenly felt a whole lot better.
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