Written from a prompt: "Ten/Rose reunion in the Roaring Twenties, mid-s4, with or without Donna."
This takes place right after The Unicorn and the Wasp and Rose has not been using the dimension cannon, so whichever blond Donna talked to in Partners in Crime, it's not Rose. Also, this speakeasy is made up. Any similarities to a real one is coincidental.
Donna shuffled into the galley, dressing gown wrapped around her body and fuzzy slippers on her feet to protect her from the cold floors of the time ship. She couldn't for the life of her understand how the TARDIS managed to have swimming pools, gardens, a perfect replica of the diner inBack to the Future 2–Cafe '80s, the Doctor had called it–and god knows what else, but still wasn't able to keep bloody floors warm!
Feeling far from awake and alert, she squinted at the light as she headed straight for the coffee pot. Yesterday, after they came back to the TARDIS from Lady Eddison's manor, the Doctor had realised that, whilst Donna had seen many of the films and series adapted from Christie's work, she'd only ever read And Then There Were None. He'd insisted on them visiting a posh bookstore in the future and buy her the whole collection, but the TARDIS had landed them in Paris 1928 instead, and they'd spent the evening chasing beret wearing sewer rats from outer space, or something of the sort. They'd returned to the TARDIS hours later, dirty and smelly, and Donna hadn't gotten to bed until five am. At least that's what her alarm clock said; who knew what time it really was?
Rising on tip toes, she took out her favorite cup–a big, purple thing made of some fancy alien porcelain that sweetened the contents without adding any calories whatsoever– and poured herself some coffee with a dash of milk. She slumped down on a chair, stirring her beverage and staring out through a fake window at the simulated view of a nebula. According to the Doctor it was called Caldwell 49 but, if you asked her, it was a very boring name for such a pretty thing, all ruby red and shaped like a flower.
"Blimey!" She turned around and saw the Doctor shutting the door to one of the cupboards, holding a packet of biscuits in his hand.
"Not that it's morning anymore." He scrunched up his face, looking up. "Not that there's ever mornings on the TARDIS but, if there were, it wouldn't be now since I know your alarm clock says one in the afternoon."
She shook her head to clear it from confusion. "Where the hell did you come from?"
"Me? Been standing here all along. Well, that's not true. I've been standing here for three minutes and thirty two seconds, but from your perspective, since you've been in here for, well, two minutes and four seconds when I started talking, it was 'all along' for you!"
She rolled her eyes at him. "Shut it, spaceman. Not even had my morning coffee yet!"
"Right." He smiled and sat down opposite her. "Biscuit?"
"If you're so skinny I didn't even see you, you should probably eat that whole thing by yourself."
"Very well." He propped one into his mouth and continued to speak, apparently not caring that he was spilling crumbs all over the place as though he were an overgrown toddler. "I was thinking we should go to this little place–"
He pouted. "You've not even heard my plan yet."
"The only reason why I'm even up is because Martha rang to tell me she broke it off with Tom."
"Yeah." Donna waited several seconds for him to comment, but he kept munching on his biscuits, unbothered. "Suppose you're not interested in why?"
"Not really, no."
"Yeah, that's what I thought." She flipped around the packet, peered into the opening and nicked a biscuit.
"Oi! Thought you said–"
She shut him up with a challenging stare, nibbling on her treat. "Told her we'd pick her up and have a girls' night out."
"I don't-I don't, I don't need to come, do I?"
"What, are you a girl?"
"Would be like having your dad come with you! Why would we want you to join us?"
"Dad? Dad?! Brother!"
"Oh, please. You're a thousand years old."
He adjusted his tie and sniffed. "Maybe so, but I don't look a day over thirty."
Donna snorted. "Not a day over forty, more like it."
She made a half-hearted noise, tilting her head to the side and taking another biscuit. "Thirty-eight."
"Okay, thirty-five. But that's-that's pushing it."
Sipping on her coffee, she gave him a once-over. "Forty-two."
"What? That's not how it works. You can't just go up again!"
"No? I just did! And d'you know why? 'Cause you, you have wrinkles, mister!" She gestured around his eyes. "A whole lot of 'em."
He squeaked and looked as though she'd just snatched the last banana right out of his hand. "They're laugh lines."
"And how did you get them, then, you big ol' space emo?"
He scrunched up his face. "Emu? What's an emu gotta do with anything?"
She chuckled. "God, you're thick. But you do look a bit like an emu, come to think of it."
"Yeah, there's something about the nose… Sort of like a beak, innit?"
"What?!" He stared at it, cross-eyed. "That's a prime example of a nose, that."
She sighed. "Blimey, you're a vain one. And, no, you don't have to come. Unless Martha wants you to. Then you're coming–and you're bloody well gonna act like you enjoy it."
He smiled. "Fair enough."
"Told her we'd show up in her flat after six and have a few drinks here before we headed out."
"Oh, you did, did you? And did you decide where we're going, as well?"
"Nah, reckon that's up to her." She drank the last of her coffee and put the cup in the sink. "I'm just gonna shower and get ready." Leaning over the table, she eyed the packet of biscuits and took a couple for the road. He looked at her, lips twitching with a smile; she narrowed her eyes, pointing at him. "Not. A. Word."
"...and I just gave him back the ring, I did," Martha said, hands wrapped around her beer bottle. "But, feels good. It does. Feels right. It wasn't working. Still love him, in a way, but not the right way. You know what I mean?"
Donna poured herself some more wine, nodding. "Yeah."
"Wasn't fair on him. He deserved better. But I needed to get away for a bit, let him pack up his things and sort everything since it's my flat. So, yeah, thanks for picking me up."
"Anytime, Martha. We're here for you," Donna said, eyes gliding over to the Doctor, who looked deep in thought. She kicked him under the table. "Right, Doctor?"
"Hm? What?" He blinked at them. "Ah, yes. Anytime, anytime."
"Were you even listening to a word she said?"
Donna put down her wine glass and folded her arms over her chest. "Really."
"Oh, all right. I was wondering why I didn't ask Agatha Christie to sign my first edition of The Man in a Brown Suit, you know since…" He grinned, stroking his lapels.
"Oh, you met Agatha Christie? When I travelled with him we met Shakespeare." Martha's face split into a wide smile. "Wrote me a sonnet, he did."
"Of course he did." Donna rolled her eyes, shaking her head. "You had Shakespeare writing you sonnets. That one," she said, nodding at the Doctor, "met his big idol Dickens on Christmas–with ghosts! And what about me? I almost got stung to death by a giant wasp!"
"No, you're joking. Dickens, Christmas, ghosts?" said Martha.
"Yep. We were going to Naples for Christmas, landed in Cardiff, of all places. And, as always, Ro–" The Doctor ducked his head, mouth shut in a thin line, corners turned down. He took a deep breath and looked up again, smiling at Donna. "You had fun, though, didn't you? Not everyone gets to solve a murder mystery case with Agatha Christie."
"Well, yeah. But then I did look fabulous in that flapper outfit. Oh! You should've seen me. I had the most gorgeous shoes, and he helped me with this posh updo with, uhm, beads and–
"With your hair?" Martha raised her eyebrows, blinking at her. "The Doctor did your hair."
"Are you really surprised? So he didn't take hours getting ready in the mornings when you were with him? You should hear him! 'Oh, Donna how does this look? I'm testing this new gel I got in New New York. Does this look effortless or like I'm trying too hard?'"
"Donna, that's not-that's not… I don't do that. I, ehm, well, I used to, whenever we needed to dress up, I used to help…" He cleared his throat. "I'm good with my hands. Wires, hair. Same difference. It's just about knowing what goes where and having the dexterity to make it happen."
Donna glanced at him through the corner of her eye; he sat still, staring at the bowl of crisps on the table, expressionless mask in place. When they'd first met, he'd allowed her to see him vulnerable–eyes glossy and full of raw emotion; voice breaking as he shared the name of his lost friend–but since she started travelling with him, this was his usual reaction whenever something reminded him of Rose. Although Donna wanted to scoop him up and give him a comforting hug, his body language very rarely invited her to do anything but move the conversation in another direction.
She turned to Martha and asked, "What did you get to wear? Did you have to pull on a corset? And one of those collars?"
"Me? Nah, not me. Jeans and a leather jacket, that's what I wore."
"Really? Why? Half the fun in going back in time is dressing up!"
"Is it? I wouldn't exactly know." Martha pursed her lips. "Only time I ever wore period wear was when I was working as his maid."
"Yeah, for months, stuck in 1913, scrubbing floors and emptying chamber pots."
Donna turned to the Doctor, frowning. "She what? You made her what?"
"Wasn't me! It's not like I chose it. It was the TAR–"
"Oh, so you're blaming your ship? That's rich! You're telling me Martha travelled with you for two years and she didn't get to dress up once? Instead you made her wait on your skinny bum?"
"No, she did! Tell her, Martha. You know, that time with the-the, ehm, that party, with your sister."
"Yeah, exactly. With my sister. You were my plus one. I'd gone to that party either way. And it's not like it was period wear or anything."
"But what about when we lived in the sixties!"
"When I had to work in a shop to support you?"
"That's it," Donna said. "Turn this ship around, we're scrapping all of our plans for tonight–"
"That's not actually how it–"
"We're going to the wardrobe room and finding her something gorgeous to wear and when we get up again you're taking us to wherever that dress fits in. And," Donna said, boring her eyes into him. "Has to be somewhere she gets treated like a person."
"What? You just walk around like you own the place. That always works for me."
"And it never dawned on you it's 'cause you're a white man, you dumbo?"
She shook her head at him and turned to Martha. "What do you want?"
"I…" Martha smiled and shrugged. "Actually, I wouldn't mind that whole flapper thing. Like a jazz club or something. That would be wicked. But, you just went, so I–"
Donna dismissed her with a wave of her hand. "If you think I'd turn down a chance to look fabulous in clothes you can actually eat something in, you're mistaken."
"No, but that's no fun. Regency, maybe? How about that? A proper ball with handsome gentlemen, and we can still eat in those empire waist dresses," Martha said with a smile.
Donna chuckled. "Oh, I like the way you think, Martha. Is there a place like that you can take us, Doctor?"
"Hm… Yes! I know just the place."
"Good! C'mon, Martha. Let's find us something spectacular to wear."
"How is he?" Martha asked, running her fingers over the rack of dresses.
"Oh, you know… Still hung up on Rose. Still refusing to talk about it much. Well, all right. Now and then he says something, but not nearly as much as he should. He's never going to feel better when he keeps bottling it all up!"
"He talked about her all the time when I travelled with him. Or, no, that's not… I mean, he mentioned her, but he never really told me anything about her, what she was like, what she meant to him, what they did together. Just…" Martha shrugged and held out a dress with a discreet floral print, silk ribbons, and a lace hem in front of her. "I like this one. What do you think?"
"It's very pretty." She considered Martha for a moment. "Are you still…?"
"Oh, you mean…?"
"No. Not like that. I think, if you fall for the Doctor, you'll always feel...something. He's not the kind of man you forget, is he? But I don't want him anymore. It's like with Tom, in a way, I reckon. I know he's not the one for me, even though I still care for him. We just don't fit."
"That's good, though. I used to think that getting married was the most important thing in life. If I found a bloke that wanted to marry me, I'd stick to him." Donna shook her head. "And that attitude literally would've gotten me killed–"
"Are you decent?" the Doctor called down the spiral staircase.
He ran down the steps and shoved his hands into his pockets, looking at Donna and Martha, hair a mess, glasses askew, toothy grin plastered on his face. "Change of plans!"
"The TARDIS landed somewhere else. Chicago 1927, to be precise. Or, well, that's not very precise, is it? It's actually a lovely Tuesday evening–"
"Doctor, why did we land somewhere else?" Donna asked.
"Eeer…" He tugged a bit at his ear. "Yeah, no idea. But it's the third time the TARDIS has landed us in the 1920s. Yesterday it was first December 1926, then January 1928, and today it's July 1927."
"That's odd," said Martha. "Any theories?"
"Not yet. I'll need to run diagnostics and check a few things. Good news, though! We've materialised right outside The Sheik and the Sheba–one of the most popular speakeasies of the time. Well, right now it's just this small little place. Just opened. But they have a fantastic jazz band and in a few months time, word will hit the street. You two can down some giggle water and get spifflicated," he said, waggling his eyebrows, "and still, er, be treated like...people. 'Cause it's that kind of a joint. The patrons are from all walks of life."
"You're not coming?"
"Of course I am! Not even a pack of Slitheen could keep my away. Always wanted to hear that band play. But I need to make sure the TARDIS is all right first. You two go on ahead, though, and I'll meet you inside in an hour, maybe less. You've been doing this for long enough, I reckon. Can always give me a ring on your superphones if trouble's afoot." His eyes flitted to Donna and he took a few steps toward Martha, leaning in closer. "Keep an eye on Donna, will you?"
"Oi! I'm a grown woman. No need keeping an eye on me!"
He held up his hands. "All right, all right. It's just… Martha's a trained professional and you're-you're..." He gestured vaguely in the air in front of her.
Donna put her hands on her hips. "I'm what, exactly?"
He shot her a wide smile. "Brilliant! Resourceful. Ehm… Brilliant? And very, very good. Eeer, did I mention brilliant?" He backed up toward the staircase. "Ehm, I'll just leave you to it, then. You know, to get ready and all, and… Well, just go out there. It's a small barbershop on the corner. Go inside, ask for the john, tell them you know Frank."
"The john as in...the loo?"
"Exactly. They'll lead you downstairs to the juice joint." He winked. "Anyway, I need to take care of my ship. See you later."
Donna and Martha sat down at the bar, waiting for the bartender to catch their eye. Although the room wasn't very crowded, there was a big group of blokes placing orders and the poor man scurried back and forth, mixing drinks and giving them to the right person. The band wasn't playing yet; they were setting up, tuning their instruments and chatting with a few of the patrons whilst a pianist filled up the silence. Two waitresses in short black dresses and heels circled the floor, smiling with perfectly painted, dark red lips. Only a few of the tables were seated by modestly dressed men and women; Donna and Martha were by far the most posh-looking people at the joint, dressed to the nines in the frocks the TARDIS had provided for them.
"D'you need help?"
Donna turned around and met the eye of a young woman leaning with one arm against the bar, smiling at them. Unlike the waitresses in the joint, she wore a golden flapper dress and flats, and her hair was tied in an elegant bun at the nape of her neck.
"You work here?"
The woman grinned. "Ah, noticed my posh frock, then? Yeah, it's my night off, but that's all right."
"You're at work. On your night off."
"In my posh frock!" She smiled, but shrugged. "S'not like I had anything better to do. Just got bored sitting alone in the flat."
"Oh, you're from London!"
"Uhm, yeah. You, too, huh?"
"Yeah, we're in town...visiting...relatives."
The woman's eyes flitted between Martha and Donna. "Okay…" She smiled again. "So… What are you having?"
"No, no. It's your day off! You should be out there having fun."
"Nah, don't worry about it. My boss would demand for my head on a platter if he knew I'd let you two ladies wait. And sorry about him," she said, nodding at the bartender. "He's not usually behind the bar. Got promoted last week when our usual bartender left town."
"Oh, we don't mind. Must be hard for him. Looks really stressful," said Martha.
"Yeah, they're usually two. Dunno where the other bloke is. Always late, that one, though. So, ladies, what's your poison?"
"Any recommendations?" asked Martha.
"I'm a Mint Julep gal myself, but I reckon you'd like a Bee's Knees, and you," she said, looking at Donna, " you look like you'd fancy a Sidecar."
Donna gasped. "No, get out! I do fancy a Sidecar. How did you know?"
The woman winked. "Pick up a thing or two doing this. Coming right up, then."
She slipped behind the bar and begun picking out bottles from the shelves behind her, swaying a bit in time with the piano tune. Like the bartender, she took her time with the drinks, pouring with great care, tongue poking out in concentration. She'd just served them their drinks when the bartender moved to her side, grinning at her, arms folded over his chest.
"So, you're behind the bar, eh?"
"Don't be hard on her," Donna said. "She predicted my favorite drink. I was really impressed!" She took a sip and smiled. "And it's good, as well!"
"Oh, that." The bartender chuckled. "Bee's Knees and Sidecar? She says that to everyone. Gotta be right sometimes, don't you, babe?"
The woman gave him a playful push. "Oi, shut up. You're ruining my reputation."
"Oh, what a small world. You're both from London!" Donna said.
"Yep! Born and raised."
"We actually grew up together," the woman said. "And we… We'll, we've stuck together."
"Yeah... Nice to meet you, but… Sorry. Duty calls." He leaned closer to the woman "And you should probably get back before someone notices."
He moved to the other end of the bar to help a few customers; the woman quickly poured herself a tumbler of whiskey and sat down on the empty stool beside Donna.
"Is it okay if I…"
"Thanks." She smiled. "Good to talk to someone from home. I mean, I've got Mickey, but… Dunno. Suppose I'm homesick."
"He seems like a nice bloke. Are you two…?"
The woman chuckled. "No. Once, though, but no. We're better off as mates. You know what I mean?"
Donna nodded at Martha. "She knows exactly what you mean."
"Yeah, I just ended it with my fiancé," Martha said, wiggling the empty fingers of her left hand.
"Nah, was for the best. I want to focus on my career anyway, and he didn't… No, I mean, he wanted me to have a career–"
"He did?" the woman said. "That's forward thinking, for you."
"Uhm, yeah. He's a...progressive bloke." Martha exchanged looks with Donna, letting out a few quiet chuckles. "But my job is, well, it's hard for an outsider to understand. It's complicated and time consuming, and..." Martha shook her head. "Anyway, what are you doing in Chicago, then?"
"We're… Dunno. Trying to make a life. We left home five months ago. Just him and me now. Share a flat, work together, best mates. We're saving up some money. Gonna travel. We… Well, we used to travel all over, yeah, but the last four years we..." She shrugged. "Anyway, we're back in the world now."
"Really? I travel all around the world with my best mate. Martha used to as well."
"Oh, that sounds lovely. I really miss it." She smiled wistfully. "God, where are my manners?" She held out her hand. "I'm–"
"Hey, doll," a blond, tall, broad shouldered bloke said, gliding up behind the bar, white apron tied around his hips. "Did you hold down the fort while I was gone?"
"Yeah, I did actually."
"And who are your friends?" His face broke out in a disarming smile, all dimples, white teeth and baby blue, sparkling eyes. "Name's Matt."
"Now, go on. Do your job. Mickey's been swamped 'cause you don't know how to tell the bloody time. Leave these ladies alone. And don't call me doll."
He winked at her, wide smile on his lips as he backed up to the other end of the bar. "Okay, baby. And you two ladies?" He pointed at Martha and Donna. "Anything you need–anything at all–just ask for Matt. Mickey couldn't mix a drink if his life depended on it." He turned around and directed his attention to the waiting customers.
"God, I detest that wanker. Just 'cause he's fit, yeah, he thinks every woman wants him. If he tries to pull you, do yourself a favour and run the other way, all right? He's been with, like, every waitress in here and probably half the town. I don't even wanna know what kind of diseases he carries."
Donna sighed. "He looks just like David Beckham. What a waste."
Martha nodded. "Yeah, he does!"
The woman drew in a sharp breath. "What did you say?"
"Uhm, David Beckham. He's a...friend of ours."
Donna laughed. "Yeah, we're good friends with Becks."
"Oh. So… Ever been to one of his games?" the woman asked.
"Nah, don't much fancy football," Donna said and the woman nearly spilled her drink.
"Wait." Martha narrowed her eyes. "You know David Beckham?"
She stared at them, eyes wide open and mouth hanging open. "I'm sorry about this. I don't mean it, but I'm gonna shove all the planets in the universe up your arse."
Donna gasped. "Beg your pardon?"
"Oh, my god! You understood me!"
"Of course I understood you, you rude muppet! You're speaking English!"
The woman shook her head. "No, I wasn't. I wasn't even speaking a human language." She regarded them for a moment, picking at her nails with trembling fingers. "Is he-is he here? Is he coming here?"
Martha grabbed Donna's hand and pulled her closer to herself. "Is who here."
"The Doc–" The woman swallowed and licked her lips. "The Doctor."
"I'm a doctor. D'you need help?"
The woman held up her hands in a non-threatening way. "Look, I understand that you're wary, but I'm a friend. I just want to see him. I just–"
She was interrupted by the singer of the jazz band taking the mic and introducing the band, loud voice booming throughout the joint. Most eyes in the room turned to the stage, but Donna kept hers on the woman. She was gesturing at the bartender, waving at him to come to their end of the bar.
"Oooh, perfect! They just started!" the Doctor said, showing up behind them.
The woman stiffened, lips parted and eyes wide open, staring at her tumbler.
Donna spun around. "Doctor–"
"I still don't know why the TARDIS insisted on landing here, but she's all better now. Ready to go whenever you are. Which is not too soon, I hope! I want–" He furrowed his brow. "Donna, what is it? You're staring at me."
"Yeah, I think I have a theory as to why the TARDIS refused to leave," she said. "Doctor, there's someone–"
"'Lo boss," Mickey said, grinning.
The Doctor's jaw dropped and he shook his head, staring at the man behind the bar. "Mickey? What-how-what? What?"
The woman drew in a shuddering breath and stood up, turning to the Doctor. "Hello."
"Rose, look!" he said, taking the her hand and tugging her closer to him. "Mickey's back! How did Mickey come back? How did–"
He shut his mouth with a click, Adam's apple bobbing. Bringing their joined hands in front of him, he stared down at their entwined fingers. Donna held her breath, unable to tear her eyes away from them as Rose moved to stand in front of him. He gaped at her, expression frozen in shock, eyes flitting between her eyes and smiling mouth.
"What? I came all this way and I'm not even getting a hug? She grinned with her tongue poking out between her teeth.
He exhaled in a breathy laugh and wrapped his arms around her, humming as he squeezed her tight. Donna could only see the Doctor's profile, but he was beaming, eyes closed and surrounded by crinkles. He pulled back, but his hands stayed splayed over her back and hers rested over his hearts.
"Rose Tyler," he said, shaking his head, smiling.
"Didn't think you could get rid of me that easily, did you?"
His smile faded and he went in for another hug, nose pressed into her hair. They swayed together for a moment and Donna turned her eyes from them, looking straight ahead instead to give them some privacy. Mickey removed his apron, tucked a bottle of champagne under his arm and grabbed five glasses.
"Take this from my salary, mate," he called to Matt. He walked to the others and nodded at the floor. "C'mon, then. Reckon it's time to celebrate. Can one of you ladies make sure those two follow?"