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If They Knew Sweet Little You

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Two months. It had been just over two months since Donna had woken up on her bed in her clothes to learn the world had gone mad talking about planets in the sky. Well, of course they were in the sky. Where else were they supposed to be? On land?

It had only taken a few days for people to settle down and things to go back to normal. But Donna found she couldn’t settle as easily.

She wasn’t working and didn’t think she had been for a while, so there was nothing to do during the day. Her friends texted her, but it took until Veena mentioned she’d told them all she was busy lately for her to realize they hadn’t been inviting her out, so she had nothing to do at night. That probably explained why her bank account still looked decent despite her having no job.

Yet every time Donna sat down at her laptop to check her email or the temp agency, she found her attention wandering, and she never actually got around to it. The same with when she would try to muster up to energy to call up her friends and schedule something. She didn’t know what it was, but neither of those things seemed to hold the same appeal they once did.

Everything just felt off somehow. She couldn’t put a finger on it or even try to explain it, but it left her feeling not very good. And then sort of queasy. And then that queasiness had her hauling herself out of bed one morning to stick her head in the toilet and empty her stomach.

God, what had she eaten last night? Donna drank a lot of water and nibbled on some crackers, then went on a long walk around the neighborhood to avoid her mum’s dinner. She didn’t want a repeat of that morning, that was for sure.

But it happened again the next morning anyway. Donna crawled back under the covers and pulled them up over her head, trying to ignore the stale taste in her mouth or the slight pain in her throat.

Figured. She could sit in offices year round perfectly healthy while people sneezed and hacked up who knew what germs all around her, but as soon as she took a bit of time for herself that’s when it all caught up. Her mum would probably be on her about her loafing in no time. She’d have to start searching for a new position in earnest now.

That was, once she’d gotten over this flu or whatever it was.

—-

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“I assure you this is no joke, Donna. The test was conclusive. You’re pregnant.”

Donna Noble gaped at old Doctor Simmons. Her family had been seeing him for ages, and a part of her wondered if it was high time he thought about retirement because he was obviously completely senile .

“I’m what?”

“Pregnant. I’d say about two months along.”

Donna had half a mind to ask if he’d been put up to this. “Can I get a second opinion?”

“You can, but they’ll tell you the same thing I just did.”

“Then I’ll get a third or a fourth or however many it takes! Doctor Simmons, you don’t understand,” she said. “Me being pregnant, that’s — well it’s just not possible.”

Doctor Simmons shook his head with a knowing smile. “Now, you don’t need to put up any pretense, Donna. I’m not here to judge the choices my patients make, only to help them be as healthy as possible while making them.”

“No, but I didn’t make this choice.”

“Well, accidents happen,” he remarked with a shrug. “If you’re worried about how the father will take it, I’d be perfectly happy to meet with you both. I’ll even help you with your mother, if you like.”

“No,” said Donna again, more forcefully this time. “You don’t understand. There is no father. I haven’t had sex in — well, long enough to not be pregnant now! I don’t even remember having an ‘accident’!”

The smile slipped from his face. “You don’t?”

Donna shook her head. “No.”

There was a lot Donna didn’t really remember, truthfully, of which she might have explained to Doctor Simmons if he hadn’t blindsided her with this. Like what she’d done for her birthday this year or why Lance had left her and why she’d gone off to Egypt straight after.

She got headaches now, too, just sometimes. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to them; she might be watching bees buzz around the flowers in the garden or children at play in the park or pass a man on the street with really nice brown eyes — and then it hit, and she’d be useless all the rest of the day.

Donna couldn’t remember the last time she’d taken a temp position, either, but rather than nag her about that her mother had found her emptying her stomach into the toilet three mornings ago and suggested she go see the doctor. Well, her specific words had been, “Go and see Simmons. It’s been ages since your last appointment.” Her mum avoided the word doctor like the plague lately, come to think of it.

So she’d gone and done her best to answer all the questions. Yes, she’d been eating properly. No, she didn’t really exercise much — imagine her shock when the nurse had told her she’d dropped half a stone! Yes, she was getting enough sleep. No, she couldn’t recall when her last cycle had started or ended.

Donna had wondered if that was it; her body clock had timed out early, and she’d missed her chance. That’d be just her luck. But here it turned out to be a different story entirely, and one that could only be fantasy!

Doctor Simmons was watching her now and seemed to be considering very carefully what to say next. “If you truly have no recollection of the intercourse that could have led to conception, it might be wise to run some additional tests. For your health.”

“Oh, my God.” Donna pressed both hands to her temples. “This can’t be happening.” What had she done, had a drunken shag in the bathroom of some pub? She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d chatted a stranger up much less slept with one. “What am I gonna do?”

“Alright, let’s not panic. I’m going to send you home with some antenatal vitamins to start taking. You come back in at the end of the week. We’ll run those tests and see what we find, if anything.” He reached out and patted her knee. “Motherhood is an exciting journey, Donna — for some more so than others.”

Motherhood. She was going to be a mum. She really was. And she had no idea how she’d managed it.

Neither did Veena or Susie Mair or even Nerys when she phoned them each in turn. Not that she told them what it was about of course.

“Veena, when’s the last time we’ve been out for drinks? About two months ago?”

“Nah, it’s been way longer,” said her friend on the other end of the line. “You were out sight-seeing or something a couple months back, weren’t you? We’ll have to go out now, you can tell me all about it.”

“Er, yeah, maybe some other time.” Donna got off the phone without making any commitments. Wasn’t like she could go out for drinks any time soon anyway!

No one she talked to could confirm any type of funny business, not even when she went round to all the usual spots. Mostly they just kept saying it was good to see her again.

Oh God, had she gone off somewhere else and been drugged and knocked up?

With nothing to tell Doctor Simmons, she nevertheless needed to make sure it wasn’t just a baby she’d been stuck with.

“Mum, I need the car. Going in to see the doctor — Doctor Simmons, I mean,” she felt the strangest need to clarify.

“What are you going back for so soon?” Her mother asked from the kitchen. “There’s not something wrong, is there?”

“No,” Donna lied. “Just a follow-up.”

As she sat in traffic, she wondered not for the first time what she was going to do. There was only so long she could keep this from her family. Donna cringed just picturing the disappointment on her mother’s face and the ‘I warned you’ speech that was sure to follow. Gramps would be worried, she supposed, but he’d at least be kind about it. At the moment, Donna didn’t have the energy to try and imagine how anyone else would take it. As if she wasn’t already the biggest failure in Chiswick.

A week after the tests, Donna went back in again. “I have some good news,” Doctor Simmons told her. “You’re clean. You haven’t contracted anything.”

“Yeah, except a baby,” Donna remarked.

He didn’t laugh. “Yes, well, Donna...I think it is best that we discuss your options going forward. Being that this pregnancy appears to be the result of a non-consensual sexual encounter —”

“I’m keeping it,” said Donna before he could finish. “I don’t care how it happened — I mean, I care but I- I’ve always wanted to be a mum. And this is probably the best shot I’ve got.”

It wasn’t the worst way it could have happened. At least she hadn’t resorted to a turkey baster like Nerys. Was she upset her child wasn’t going to have a father? Yes. Did she worry how that would affect it growing up? Absolutely. But if she just had a chance to give her baby all the love and support she’d missed out on in life, wouldn’t it be enough? Wouldn’t it make all this worth it?

Doctor Simmons was favoring her with a pitying look, but all he said was, “If that is your choice, then you have my full support.”

“Yeah, speaking of, if you see my mum or Gramps around, would you mind not mentioning this? I haven’t figured out how to tell them yet.”

“Of course. If you need any assistance in that regard, please let me know.”

She left Doctor Simmons’ office with a referral to an OBGYN and a problem to consider: how was she going to break the news to her family?

Briefly, Donna entertained the idea of taking up a new temp job across town, renting out a cheap flat, and avoiding her mother for the rest of her natural life. But that wouldn’t stop her hearing it from someone else. And how would she make it on her own as a single mum with work and a baby? She needed her family, if they’d still have her once they found out.

So it was time to fess up. She couldn’t go on making up excuses for appointments and hiding the antenatal vitamins under her pillow.

If she was lucky, her grandad would be the only one home when she got back, and she could run it by him first. Gauge a reaction.

This would be so much easier if she just knew who’d gotten her this way. It wasn’t likely they’d end up a family together if they’d seemingly only had that one forgotten encounter, but at least she’d have options in case her mum kicked her out of the house tonight!

Wilfred Mott was worried about his granddaughter. But he’d been that way ever since she came home. Was brought home.

He knew it had been the only way to save her life, and for that he’d always be thankful. But Wilf couldn’t help wishing there was something else the Doctor could do for their girl so she’d have her memories back. That wonderful alien was so clever.

Only now he was gone for Donna’s safety, and that was the worst bit. No man had ever treated Donna as well as the Doctor had. She’d practically been glowing the last few times they’d come round the house together, and Wilf didn’t think he could recall her being happier, not even in the run-up to that wedding with that Lance fellow or whichever his name was. He missed watching the two of them run about stopping alien invasions, making each other laugh.

He thought Donna missed the Doctor, too, in her own way. She came up on the hill with him infrequently, staring up at the stars she’d lost and looking so sad. Sometimes she just sat at a window, mind far away with her arms wrapped around her middle as if in a hug.

She’d been practically listless the last couple months. The occasional headache here or there, but they’d gotten a handle for the most part on what triggered them. When Sylvia had found her being sick in the bathroom, however, she’d badgered Donna into a checkup.

“What if she caught some disease out there, dad?” His daughter had fretted.

“Oh, Sylvia, I’m sure it’s alright.” After all, it had been over two months; surely there would have been a sign before now?

Donna had come home from the appointment just as quiet and withdrawn as before but saying that nothing was wrong. Then she went back for a second appointment, and a third.

“She’ll tell us when she’s ready,” he said to an increasingly panicked Sylvia, though he couldn’t help hoping Donna would feel ready soon.

That afternoon, he was doing some of the washing up before dinner to make room in the kitchen for Sylvia. The front door opened and shut, and when no one called out he thought he could guess which of his girls had gotten back first. “Donna? That you, sweetheart?”

“Yeah.” A couple moments later she was shuffling into the room and dropping into a chair at the table. “Where’s mum?”

“Still out. Won’t be back for another hour at least.” Wilf turned off the faucet and reached for a towel to dry his hands. When he turned around, Donna had hers folded on her lap and was biting her lip. “Something the matter?”

She looked up at him. “Gramps, there’s something I’ve got to tell you. And you’re gonna have some questions, but I honestly don’t know the answers to them, so I’m sorry.” She looked away again. “God, you’re gonna be so ashamed of me.”

“Ashamed of you?” He echoed. “Never.” She cracked just the slightest smile at that. He crossed the room and took a seat as well. “I’m sure it can’t be all bad. What is it?”

Donna hesitated. “Well, I — I’m pregnant.”

Wilf nearly fell out of his chair. “Pregnant?”

She shushed him despite them being the only two home. “Yes. Getting closer to three months now.”

“Oh. Oh dear.” He looked her up and down. She wasn’t showing yet, but he supposed she wouldn’t be. Of all the things he’d been worried about! “But- but when? How?”

“That’s the thing. I really don’t know. And it’s not because I can’t decide whose it is.” She shrugged with a tired, “There’s just no one.”

Wilfred didn’t know what to say. “You’re sure?”

Donna groaned and put her head in her hands. “Please, Gramps, this is already embarrassing enough without going over the details of my sexual history with you.”

He supposed she had a point. “What’re you gonna tell your mother?”

“I dunno. I could let her carry on thinking I was just getting fatter for a while, couldn’t I?”

“Oh, Donna.”

Donna looked up, a real fear in her eyes. “She’s gonna kill me for this, Gramps. We both know it.”

“She wouldn’t.” He wished his protest sounded more sincere.

Dinner that night started off an uncomfortable affair. On one side was Sylvia, forcing herself to keep from asking Donna about the latest doctor’s appointment; on the other was Donna, so very reluctant to break the news.

After fifteen minutes of stilted conversation ranging from the topics of the weather to what Suzette had bought at the shops that day, enough was enough. “Sylvia, love, Donna’s got something she wants to say.” He gave his granddaughter an encouraging smile and watched her draw in a deep breath.

“Mum, the reason I’ve been going in for all these appointments — well, I’m not sick, if that’s what you were worried about.” She paused, and Wilf reached across the table to take her hand. He felt Donna squeeze it tightly once before saying, “I’m pregnant.”

Sylvia’s fork dropped onto her plate with a clatter. “Pregnant? Since when? How ?”

“Going on three months, and I don’t know. Look, I only found out myself the beginning of this month.”

“Who’s the father?”

“I don’t know,” Donna repeated.

“Well, how can you not know —”

“Because I don’t remember it happening!” Donna stood with such force her chair was knocked over. “I haven’t been seeing anyone. None of the girls have had anything to tell me, either, so I guess you can call me the bloody Virgin Mary because this baby didn’t get here any other way!”

“You, a virgin? That’s the day I’ll believe in miracles,” Sylvia scoffed.

“Oh, Sylvia, don’t,” Wilf began.

“No, it’s fine,” said Donna. “I knew you being weirdly nice to me lately was just a fluke.” She glared at her mother. “Go ahead, tell me you told me so. Tell me this is all my fault. I know it is, but it’ll make you feel better, won’t it?”

Sylvia looked between them both, eyes wide and face incredibly pale. “Donna, it’s not — you’re important to me, and I just don’t want to see —”

“Yeah, well, if you don’t want to see it, I’ll just pack and be off in the morning.”

Wilfred watched her storm upstairs in dismay, then turned back to Sylvia.

“Well, am I supposed to pretend to be pleased?” His daughter defended before he could even speak. “She’s got no job, no prospects.”

“I know all that. But, love, you can’t blame her for it. She can’t remember .” He stressed the last two words, hoping it conveyed their significance.

Sylvia looked at him sharply. “You think it happened while she was off — out there?”

He shrugged. “It’s the only explanation that makes any sense. Look, she’s been going spare trying to figure it out herself, and she never will. Don’t you think we ought to do all we can to help her instead of making it worse?”

Abruptly, his daughter burst into tears.

Wilf stood and hurried around the table to place his arms around her. “Here now, what’s this?”

“You said she went to other planets and — and met creatures . I mean what if it’s alien, dad?”

“It might not be alien. Could just be someone she met in the future, or the past,” he reasoned.

“Oh, wonderful,” his daughter said. “Good luck for her getting child support, then!”

“She’s got support. She’s got us.”

“She’s got you, you mean.” Sylvia shrugged him off and kept her gaze on the table. “He was right. I don’t say it often enough. Now she doesn’t believe me. My own daughter.” Her eyes squeezed shut. “How did I let that happen?”

Wilfred hung his head. It really wasn’t just her fault. He’d said this or that, tried to intervene, but he could’ve done more; Lord knew Geoffrey had tried, but he just hadn’t had the same authority as his wife. He supposed this day had always been coming, when the damage Sylvia had done finally came home to roost. There was little he could say to deny it was there.

So he placed his hand back on her shoulder. “You just didn’t know how not to be hard on her, that’s all. You knew exactly how you wanted her to grow up, and when she didn’t follow that plan you felt like you’d failed. But you haven’t, Sylvia, you haven’t,” he continued when she choked on a sob. “Why, Donna’s the most important woman in the universe. That’s the daughter you raised. And if she’s gonna be a mum, well, she’s gonna need her own mum now more than ever.”

His daughter had calmed mostly, cries subsiding to sniffles.

“Now, I’ll go and check on her, and you get yourself cleaned up. I’ll put the kettle on for you.” Despite his belief in the best of both his girls, he didn’t think a second conversation between them in one night would go so well with emotions running so high.

Wilf passed through the kitchen to turn on the kettle, then padded up the stairs and down the hall to Donna’s door, which was slightly ajar. Inside, he could hear her crying. He knocked lightly. “Donna?”

The crying cut off with a gasp. A moment later, she called out in a thick voice, “Come in!”

He pushed the door open the rest of the way and walked into the darkened room. She was sitting on the bed, a suitcase half-packed beside her. On her lap was —

“A hat box, I know. Don’t know why I thought I was gonna need one of those.” Her attempt at a smile wavered badly, and she raised a hand to wipe at teary eyes. Wilf stepped forward with his handkerchief held out.

She took it with a soft, “Thanks.”

“That’s alright. Donna, you know your mother doesn’t want you to leave. She just, well, she worries about you, in her own way.”

“I could do with her worrying less, then.” She set the hat box aside with a heavy sigh, then made room for him next to her on the bed. “I’m not going, really. Haven’t anywhere to go.”

Yes, she did, Wilf wanted to say. To the stars. But she couldn’t, and for more reasons than the baby.

“Have you started thinking about names?” He asked instead.

“I’ve only had just about a month,” Donna reminded him. Nevertheless, she humored him. “Let’s see. Wilfred for a boy.”

He chuckled. “Oh no, I know it’s old fashioned.”

“Middle name, then. And for a girl...I don’t know.” Her face took on that faraway look again. “Maybe Jenny. I feel like Jenny would be a good name for a daughter.”

“Jenny Noble,” he said, and he was glad to see Donna come back to herself. She smiled at him, her hand resting over her stomach.

“It’s in the running.”

“You don’t know how proud I am of you,” he told her. Donna scoffed, but he carried right on. “It’s the hardest thing, being a parent, and here you are taking it on on your own.”

“Yeah, I’ve been doing a real bang-up job of it, too.”

“Well, you’ll only get better with time,” he insisted.

Eyes red but dry, she passed him back his handkerchief, which he tucked away.

“Should we get you unpacked?”

“Oh, I’ll just leave it for the morning,” she said. “Exhausted myself earlier with all that.”

“I’ll let you get to bed, then.” He stood and made his way to the door.

“Gramps?” Donna’s call had him pausing, and he turned back around. “Thanks.”

He raised a hand to dismiss it. “No thanks necessary.”

She smiled. “Love you.”

“Love you.” Wilf stepped out into the hall and closed the door. He went back down to the kitchen to find Sylvia must have taken her tea up to bed with her. For the better, really; it was getting late, and he still had one more thing to do. One more person to take care of, since Donna couldn’t anymore.

Wilf pulled on his coat and hiked up the hill. He got out his telescope and set it up, then settled in his chair. Plenty of stars, and even some planets, but no blue box. The same as usual. Wilf wondered if they would ever see it again.

“I hope you’re alright out there. We’re all fine, even if Donna’s been through a bit of a shock. Suppose you wouldn’t know anything about that, though, or you would’ve said.”

It didn’t seem to be affecting her so far as the memories and all that went. She was still safe from burning up, which was the best they could ask for. He wished as ever, of course, that she could simply have her memories back and be fine. It would at least give her less cause for shame over this whole pregnancy.

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing. In a way, the child was something from those wonderful travels she’d had that she could keep, even if she didn’t realize it.

Wilfred kept up his watch for a while longer, then at last put his things away. He straightened up and snapped off a salute to the stars.

“Goodnight, Doctor. Maybe the next one, eh?”

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for word to get out. She’d mind what they were all saying and thinking about her less if she had any proof it wasn’t true.

Donna resigned herself to her fate of being the subject of scandal and gossip for the next several months, and possibly years, by secluding herself even further. She found she didn’t really miss all that chattering with the girls, and it left her more time for things she ordinarily neglected like reading. For no reason at all, she found herself revisiting Agatha Christie more often than not. Her books were just so brilliant. She made sure to balance it out with less murderous material though; wouldn’t do to have that be the sole influence on her baby.

Of course, not even a lack of invitation could deter Nerys for long. She came round one afternoon and made herself comfortable on the couch while Donna made tea.

“You called me desperate, remember? And look where we are now. Is it true you don’t even know who the father is?”

“Isn’t that what people are saying?” Donna carried out two cups and sat on the sofa across. She could feel a headache coming on, though this one at least she knew the source of.

“I thought maybe it was that doctor what’s-his-name of yours. Susie Mair said she saw you hanging about with him again a few months ago.”

“Susie Mair doesn’t know what she’s on about,” said Donna. “I don’t know any doctors aside from Simmons, and he’s a bit old.”

Nerys gave a snort. “Right, that’s why you showed up late to your own wedding with the other one.”

Donna froze, cup halfway to her lips. “What are you talking about?”

“You ran off from the wedding and came back to the reception with him in tow. It’s no wonder Lance left you.” Nerys looked at her more closely. “Don’t you remember?”

“No.” Donna pressed a hand to her temple; her headache was getting worse. “No, I don’t. What was his name again?”

Nerys shrugged. “I don’t think you ever said.”

“Well, what did he look like?”

“Tall, I suppose. Brown hair. Well, I haven’t seen him in nearly two years!” Nerys defended when Donna gave her an unimpressed look. “He wore that suit with the pinstripes.”

“Oh, you mean John!”

“John?”

“Yeah, John Smith. He’s like a friend of my grandad’s or something, I don’t know.” She waved a dismissive hand. “I hardly know him.”

“Sure,” said Nerys, looking anything but convinced.

Donna nearly started laughing. “Seriously? Mr. Skinny Smith? Do you know me at all?”

Well, at least Nerys was still good for a laugh.

She did occasionally venture out, of course. Usually to the shops or other small errands. One morning, she went into town with her mother for some things, parenting books and the like. She even bought a CD that played Mozart, since everyone was always saying that made babies smarter for some reason. If her baby was anything like her, it’d need all the help it could get in the brains department.

Mrs. Wrightly next door was out pruning her garden when they pulled back into the driveway. Her mother glanced at the woman, then muttered, “You better get inside.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “I can still get bags, mum.”

It was as she reached into the boot that she heard their neighbor say, “How embarrassing.”

Donna froze. Mrs. Wrightly wasn’t looking at her, but it was pretty obvious she didn’t consider her garden shears embarrassing. She’d never had a problem with her before. Was that really what everyone thought of her now?

Her mum had stopped as well, and Donna could feel her ears starting to burn. She’d known on some level her totally unexpected pregnancy wouldn’t do her reputation any favors, but couldn’t they leave her family out of it?

“I’ll just get inside—”

“Hold these a minute,” said her mum, passing her the bags she’d already grabbed and marching straight up to the border between their home and Mrs. Wrightly’s.

“Were you saying something, Doris?”

The other woman looked up and plastered a smile on her face. “I’m sorry?”

“I can see you looking at my daughter when her back’s turned,” said her mother point-blank. “Passing judgments.”

“Why, Sylvia, I’d never!”

“Well, I’ve heard your Vanessa’s been sacked again, but you don’t see me standing there lording it over you. At least I’ll actually have a grandchild instead of a son-in-law who behaves like a child.” She raised herself up to her full height, which was at least a good bit taller than Doris Wrightly, and said, “So next time you want to look down your nose at my family, maybe you ought to just mind your own?”

She turned about and came back onto their path before the woman could do more than simply gape at her. Donna wasn’t faring much better.

“What?” Asked her mother as she took back her share of the bags.

Donna’s mouth snapped shut. “Nothing.”

They exchanged a look just as the front door closed behind them. Then the both of them dissolved into giggles.

“Did you see her face?”

“Oh, I should have let that woman have it ages ago.” Her mother calmed, smiling with satisfaction. “Help me put the bags away, and I’ll start on dinner.”

Things were actually pretty good with her mum, which was almost more of a surprise than the baby had been. Donna had felt as though she and Gramps had been tiptoeing around her lately, but she was too relieved they were supportive of her right now to bother about it. It wasn’t as if they knew anything more than she did.

She couldn’t help continuing to puzzle over the identity of her baby’s father, though. What had he been like? Why had she done it? If he wasn’t going to stick around, Donna hoped she could count on whoever he’d been to have passed on some good genes at the least. Some ruggedly handsome type who was no good for her but she could never resist, with broad shoulders and a cleft chin.

That wasn’t what her mind supplied for her at all when she dreamed.

Donna couldn’t recall when they’d started. Maybe a little after she’d discovered she was pregnant. She didn’t think she’d be able to paint a clear picture of him if asked. It all sort of started to slip away from her as soon as she woke up. But instead of long walks on a beach at sunset, they went running through streets or over hills with some unknown danger in hot pursuit — yet Donna’s heart would pound and her cheeks would flush all the same as she grasped his hand tightly in hers.

They would come upon creatures Donna had the strangest impression she ought to know the names of; they would take tea together under a starry sky that looked nothing like the one visible from her grandad’s hill; they would lie together on a couch or on a bed that was comfier than any Donna had found in real life. And, her type or no, in the dreams Donna knew she was absolutely in love with this man.

But he said the weirdest stuff.

“And that is how they do it on Teluria. Approximately. Or so I’ve read,” said Donna’s mad dream man one night, his head rising from between her spread legs as Donna took in great gasping breaths to come down from what she felt could be fairly classed as an earth-shattering orgasm.

“Knew that tongue was...good for something.”

“It’s multifunctional.” As if to demonstrate his point, he kissed and licked a path back up her body that ended at her mouth, and his tongue plunged in without hesitation.

There was something about him that tasted different, and it wasn’t until she was sucking at the underside of his jaw where something wet had trailed down from his lips that she realized it was her . She was tasting herself on him, an utterly new experience; there’d never been a man she was with before who had done that for her, let alone kissed her after, not even when she’d asked.

Donna moaned against his skin and slipped a knee between his legs, her thigh brushing against the prominent bulge in his trousers.

His hips rocked forward as he rubbed against her. “Donna. I need- I need—”

“Yeah, me too, Spaceman.” She reached for his fly to give him a hand, in more ways than one.

“Donna,” he groaned again in her ear. “Oh, Donna, that's — that’s gonna have to stop if you want me to last long at all.”

“What, bit of a hair trigger?”

“No. I don’t know,” he gasped in her ear as she gave him a final stroke, then took her hand away.

“Aw, that’s okay. After what you just did, I haven’t the heart to tease you.”

“You’re too kind,” he huffed, shimmying out of the remainder of his clothes, some suit pants with stripes. Donna licked lips that felt dry all of a sudden; it wasn’t as if she was wholly unfamiliar with his body by now, but here they were finally about to go all the way.

She raised her arms to bury her fingers in brown hair and drag his lips back to hers as he repositioned himself between her legs. He hummed a sort of question to which Donna broke off the kiss in order to nod in answer. For one absurd moment she was struck with the thought so much for not mating and then—

Her alarm cut through the dream more effectively than a slap in the face, and Donna reached blindly for it with a frustrated groan. She didn’t know if it was pregnancy hormones or what, but that had been some of the best sex she’d ever had — and she’d never actually had it!

It had been so long. Well, with one notable exception she couldn’t even remember, she was forced to note as she placed a hand over her stomach. She still wasn’t showing, but she felt firmer there than she was accustomed to.

Lance had said something those two years ago about wanting to do things proper and wait for marriage, and Donna had been too excited to be getting married to disagree. Then before that...yes, it really had been too long. No wonder she’d nearly soaked her panties over a fantasy.

She was due at the OBGYN in two hours, though, so there wasn’t much time to dwell on it. Donna showered and changed and sat for breakfast with her mum and Gramps. By the time she was sitting in morning traffic it was half out of her mind.

The news she received from the OBGYN took care of the rest of it.

“What do you mean there’s something wrong?”

“Not wrong, necessarily. Just different. The baby’s still healthy.”

Oh sure, like that was at all reassuring. “It’s healthy but it’s different than other babies? And how does that work?”

Doctor Kafka clicked her pen a couple times. “I’m not too sure myself. I want to refer your case to a specialist.”

“And they can figure out what’s wrong with me?”Asked Donna. “Or the baby?”

“That would be the idea.”

“Then what are you waiting for?” She demanded. “Call them!”

Doctor Kafka did. And that specialist called in another specialist who called in two more and so on. It felt like Donna was going in every other day to see this or that expert in this or that field. And yet for all their expertise not one of them could tell her one bloody thing! All they kept saying was that her baby was ‘different’, but no one seemed quite able to tell her how or why .

“And they keep saying it’s healthy,” she told her grandad over a cup of tea that was doing little to soothe her nerves. She’d already shredded about five tissues to bits as they talked. “But how can that be when there’s all this fuss?”

“Well, there’s no point hoping it’s worse.”

“I know,” she sighed. “I guess I’m just worried is all. I mean, I already didn’t know anything about the father, and now there’s all these people saying it’s not growing right or the way it’s supposed to at this stage or whatever. Is it something I’m doing wrong?”

“Oh, sweetheart, of course not.” He reached across to pat her hand. “Look, why don’t me or your mum come along with you to the next one, see if we can’t get some answers.”

“Can’t hurt. Thanks, Gramps.” Donna stood with one hand resting over her stomach, which was only just beginning to show now. There was a whole person growing inside her, and she would move mountains just to keep them safe. Unfortunately all there seemed to be to do was get plenty of rest and watch her diet. She felt so useless, not that that was any different than normal.

“Think I’m gonna turn in early,” she told her Gramps and left before he could reply.

Donna dreamed that night she was sitting on the edge of a rooftop overlooking London. She was wearing a wedding dress, the one she’d always liked from Chez Alison, only it was wrinkled and there was dirt or something on the hem, and the veil was missing. In the dream, Donna didn’t seem to care; she was too busy trying not to cry.

Then someone placed a jacket on her shoulders, their hands lingering for just a moment. The suit jacket was brown with pinstripes and still warm. She didn’t know what to say; no one ever did this sort of thing for her. It calmed her somewhat, and things didn’t seem so bad as before.

The person joined her on the ledge and took out a ring. Donna’s stomach did a strange little flip-flop as she looked to her right — and froze.

Everything seemed to shift into sharp focus, and Donna realized she recognized the man she’d been spending all her dreams with.

It was that John Smith.

Wilfred watched Donna trudge up the stairs for bed, then stood himself in order to pace. His granddaughter’s pregnancy was causing some concern amongst all those medical people. They couldn’t make any sense of it. Never seen something like it before.

Could it really be?

Not long after, Sylvia came in through the front door from a night out with the girls. “Well, what have you two been up to? Where’s Donna?”

“Went to bed. Sylvia, love, there’s something I gotta tell you. It’s about the baby.”

She looked at him. “It’s alright, isn’t it?”

“Well they’re telling Donna it’s healthy. But they don’t really understand what’s going on with it, cos it’s not developing like, well…”

“Like a human baby,” Sylvia finished for him. Wilf nodded. “Oh, God ,” moaned his daughter, sitting and placing her face in her hands.

Wilf stood there, unsure of what to do. There wasn’t much he could say in comfort.

“What if it hurts her? What if it doesn’t look human when it’s born, and she remembers ?”

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “I don’t know, but there’s someone who might.”

Sylvia looked back up. “Dad, you can’t mean him . He said it wasn’t safe for Donna!”

“Well that was before we knew about all this, wasn’t it?” Donna being pregnant had to change things, right? The Doctor couldn’t have known about it or he would’ve said. “And we need him. Donna needs him, and so does her baby.”

“How are you even going to find him? He didn’t leave you a number.”

“No,” he agreed. “But Donna found him once. How hard can it be, really?”

First thing the next morning he went down to catch the bus and put his friends on alert. If anyone saw either the blue telephone box or a man in a suit and coat with sticky-uppy hair, they’d give him a call and make sure those things stayed exactly where they were until he got there.

“Now listen, this is important,” he stressed. “We have got to find it, right? So phone around. Phone everybody. Sally, will you get onto the Bridge club? Right. Winston, you try the old boys. Bobby, want you to ring the skiffle band, right? Between us, we've got the city covered.”

“The Silver Cloak!” Minnie said with a grin.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“Who is he, then, this Doctor?” Asked Winston.

“No, I can’t tell you that. I swear.”

“It’s not about Donna, is it?” Minnie continued the questioning. “Everything’s alright with her and the baby?”

“Yeah. Well, that’s why we need him. We need the Doctor now more than ever.”

No matter how much the others pressed, he refused to give any more details. It wouldn’t do getting out that Donna might be having an alien baby.

The best thing to do would be to find the Doctor as soon as possible and then get Donna away from all those specialists. He didn’t want his granddaughter or great-grandchild to become some scientific curiosity. Imagine if they took the baby away; his poor girl would be heartbroken. If anything good had come of this, it was that Donna was much more animated than she’d been those first two months after she’d been home, and he couldn’t bear to see even that little bit taken from her.

She even came up on the hill with him most nights again, like this one.

“You ought to have a chair.” Wilf half-stood, but Donna was already easing herself onto the blanket.

“I’m alright for now. Not like you should be on the ground.”

“I’ll go down to the shops and buy another tomorrow,” he resolved.

She smiled up at him. “Alright.” Donna rested a hand on her stomach. “And then once this one’s born we can get a baby seat. I think it really likes stargazing. I can feel it move when I look through the telescope.”

His eyebrows rose up his forehead. “It’s moving already?”

“Yeah.” She frowned. “That’s what they mean about it growing weird. And to think all the money I’ve spent on pregnancy books, and they’re all useless.”

The back door opened and Sylvia called up to them, “Donna, shouldn’t you come inside? It’s getting colder at night.”

“I’ve got blankets!” Donna hollered back. “Honestly it’s like she’s afraid any minute now something terrible’s gonna happen.”

“Your mother’s a worrier, been that way all her life,” he remarked. “She just wants to see you happy and settled.”

Donna considered that for a long moment, then asked, “Gramps, did I invite John to my wedding?”

He gave a start in his chair, nearly upsetting his thermos. “Who? What wedding?”

“The one that didn’t really happen. Lance,” she reminded him.

“Oh, yes, that fellow. Er, well I don’t remember much about the guest list. Didn’t even get there myself. Which John was that?”

She snorted. “Which John, he’s your friend, isn’t he? John Smith?”

“John- John Smith? That John?” She nodded. Wilf worked to keep his voice steady as he answered, “No, no I don’t think so, sweetheart, why do you ask?”

“I dunno. I feel like I remember — and then Nerys was saying last month...suppose it doesn’t matter. Lance and all that is ancient history.” She shook her head. “What have you got that thing pointed at tonight?”

“Oh, nothing really. Just looking.” He doubted very much the blue box was about to go sailing across the sky, so he motioned her forward.

Donna put her eye to the telescope. “Well, for nothing really, those stars are beautiful. Oh! There it goes. Here.” She reached for his hand and placed it over her belly.

Wilf waited, and then he felt it. Not quite strong enough to be a kick, but something was shifting around in there. “Bless me, it really does like them!”

“Well, it runs in the family. Maybe this Noble will be the one to make it up there, Gramps. How does that sound, baby?” She cooed. “Do you wanna be a spaceman?”

Wilfred’s smile dimmed, and he drew his hand back. “Maybe its mother can go along, too.”

Donna laughed. “What would I do up there? Can you picture me on the International Space Station? Probably just get in the way all the time.” She stood and stretched. “Think I’ll head down before my legs fall asleep. You’ll be fine?”

“Yeah.” He sat in his chair as Donna’s footsteps faded away, and the door opened and shut. Then Wilf stood and began putting his things back; he didn’t feel much like stargazing tonight anymore.

Chapter Text

Donna woke from yet another John Smith Dream, as she’d begun to term them. In this one, they’d been standing in a doorway watching rocks out in space. She had been in the wedding dress again and the ring he’d had was on her finger and there was a doorway that opened out into space.

As if that hadn’t been weird enough, the rocks had crashed into each other and formed a big rock, which then became the Earth. And, in the manner of a dream, Donna had found herself suddenly wearing a pantsuit instead of the dress, and below had been her Gramps on the hill, watching her out in space. She’d waved to him in sheer exhilaration, laughing as he’d whooped and cheered. Donna couldn’t remember being happier while she was awake.

What did it mean? All these things she saw in her sleep that somehow were both fantastical and yet felt so real. And why was it always John Smith in them with her? She hadn’t thought much of him when they’d met; he’d been quiet and withdrawn, and she’d been more caught up in Veena’s mad sounding texts.

Actually, when Donna thought back on it, he hadn’t looked quiet. He’d looked sad and...empty, almost. She didn’t think she’d ever seen someone that bereft.

Abruptly, Donna had an image, a flash of something like out of her dreams. It was him, still in that suit but with a long coat on overtop, and so awfully sad like when they’d met — but that night couldn’t have been when they’d met because Donna was there in his arms, and she could feel the relief and the worry all bubbling up in her, and her head was pounding but all she wanted was to hold him and keep him safe and kiss the pain away —

She came back to herself with a gasp, her hand resting over the small bump in her stomach and tears in her eyes. Her head had stopped hurting, but she barely noticed because her mind was racing.

These couldn’t just be dreams. She didn’t know what they were, but something more was going on here. And she suspected she should have hung up on Veena and stopped John Smith from disappearing out into the rain.

“I let him fly away,” she mumbled, wiping at her cheek as a tear rolled down it. There was something she was missing, only it wasn’t alien hoaxes this time. It was starting to feel like it might just be her life.

But who could she ask? Gramps had acted sort of cagey last night, and one of the few things Donna could clearly recall from their not-first-meeting was the way her mother had glared at John. None of her friends knew anything more about him than she did, except — the wedding.

Nerys had said he’d come to the wedding or the reception or whatever. Gramps had said he hadn’t. Maybe the first place to start would be with who was right.

Donna couldn’t find a single copy of the wedding video in the house, which was ridiculous. She would have hired a videographer. Had she just not kept a copy since Lance left? Why couldn’t she remember simple little things like that?

Refusing to give up, Donna drove into town. She’d found the name and address of the cameraman on an old file still saved to her laptop with invitation stationary samples and lists of catering companies. Maybe she could see if he’d held onto his footage, or at least some photos.

A bell dinged as Donna entered the small shop, and a man with slightly wavy hair that she vaguely recognized looked up.

“Good morning. How can I — hey, it’s you!”

“Me?” Donna asked, stopping in her tracks.

“Sure, the runaway bride,” he chuckled. “Think I would’ve forgotten a trick like that?”

Apparently she had. But it looked like she had an in. “So you remember filming my wedding?”

“Remember it? I don’t know how many times I’ve rewatched it trying to figure out how you did it.”

“Right,” said Donna, still with no clue what he was on about. Lance had left her, not the other way around. “Listen, would you mind letting me see it? I just want a look at the reception. I can pay you.”

He waved a hand to dismiss the offer. “If it’s just a preview you want, that’s fine. You’re not even asking to see the best part. Although that bit with the Christmas trees and that fellow —”

“Which fellow?”

“Can’t remember a name,” he told her as he clicked and typed away on a laptop. “Doctor something. He wanted to see the video, too, of the ceremony. Started going on about a particle, and then the trees went mad.”

Nerys had called John a doctor. And all the rest of that sounded just like the sort of stuff in her dreams. “Yeah, pull it up to the bit where he comes in.”

“When you come in, you mean?”

“Sorry?”

“He came in with you. Only time a bride’s shown up to the reception with a man who’s not the groom I’ve ever seen.” The man grinned, and Donna felt her cheeks heat up.

He turned the laptop around to face her, then reached over to hit play. People were dancing — like Lance with Nerys, she noted — when the music cut off without warning, and the camera panned sharply to her and John.

Donna hit pause. It was true. He’d been there. How had she not remembered that?

“Can I make it bigger?”

“Sure, just hit that button there.”

Donna zoomed in closer to the point where her image began to pixelate, but she could still make out a glint of metal on the fourth finger of her left hand.

She was wearing the ring. The one from her dream.

Donna’s vision swam and she pressed the heels of her hands over her eyes. Her head —

“You alright?”

She felt the baby shift and suddenly she could breathe again. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m alright.”

Truthfully she was the furthest thing from alright, but she wasn’t about to go blabbing to the bloody cameraman.

“Thanks for letting me have a look.”

“Sure. Listen, you ever have another wedding, Miss, you let me know,” he called after her as she made for the door. “I’m sure it’ll be an event.”

“Yeah.” Donna gave a shaky laugh and exited the shop.

Back home, Donna turned her room inside and out, finally locating the ring tucked deep in a desk drawer. It was real; it was all real, somehow.

She held the ring up to the light. It wasn’t much, just a simple gold band. But it was all she had. Donna placed it on just the tip of her finger...but people would notice if she was suddenly wearing a wedding band, wouldn’t they? Probably think she was trying to fool them. She slipped it instead onto the fourth finger of her right hand.

There was something comforting about wearing it, and unbidden she could hear a voice as if down a long tunnel. “Should keep you hidden. With this ring, I thee biodamp.”

She was having a baby and somehow forgotten the father, and it was all turning into something a little more mad than she would have ever thought could happen to her. Yet Donna could only smile to herself; something told her she was finding her way back.

“For better or for worse, whoever you are.”

Martha may have given UNIT her two weeks’ notice, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to make use of her every day up to her leaving. At least, it seemed that way when she received a call to consult on a medical matter early that morning. Apparently word of an unusual case had reached her soon-to-be former employer, and the organization had only just gotten it turned over to their jurisdiction.

A suspected extraterrestrial pregnancy. There were stories, of course, and codes for it on the books, but Martha didn’t think anyone at UNIT had ever experienced such a thing. It’d make for an interesting final assignment, at the least!

Martha stepped through the door of the exam room and looked up from the clipboard she’d been handed mere seconds ago only to stop short. “Donna?”

Donna Noble looked up at her blankly. “Yeah, that’s me.”

She smiled, if a little bemused by the answer, much less the other woman’s appearance here. “Well, of course it is. You’re pregnant?”

“That’s what the file says, lady,” said Donna with a roll of her eyes. “Are you new or something?”

Martha blinked. “But —”

An older man she’d dimly registered sitting in her periphery stood. “Er, Doctor Jones, was it? My name is Wilfred Mott, and Donna’s my granddaughter.”

She shook the hand he offered her. “Oh, well it’s wonderful to meet you. Donna —”

He interrupted her again, though it didn’t seem as though he was trying to be rude. Rather, there was nothing but an earnest look in his eyes. “I was wondering if I might have a quick chat with you outside.”

“Er, alright.”

“Gramps —” Donna began.

“Just a minute, sweetheart. You sit tight.” He patted his granddaughter’s knee and then shuffled out the door after Martha.

“Mr. Mott, is Donna really—?”

“You’re one of his friends, aren’t you? The Doctor’s?” He clarified. Then he pointed at her. “I remember you on that video call with Harriet Jones and all them.”

“Yes, that’s right. I’m a friend of Donna’s, too,” she felt it important to add.

His face fell. “Oh, well, I’m sorry. She won’t remember you.”

“What?”

“Well, you wouldn’t know, would you?” His lips twitched up in a smile that somehow only made him look even sadder. “Donna, she— she saved everyone but it was hurting her, so he had to take it all away. The Doctor, I mean. She can’t remember him or any of the things she did out there, and I suppose that means she can’t remember the people she met either, or it’ll kill her.”

“Oh, my God,” Martha looked through the window at Donna, who was turning a little gold ring on her finger around and around and staring off into space. A far cry from the confident, take-charge woman she’d last seen. “I had no idea. I’m so sorry.”

“Well, we were making do, but then Donna found out she was pregnant.” He hesitated a moment, then added, “She can’t remember who the father is.”

“You mean, it happened while she was traveling?” Martha asked, her eyebrows threatening to disappear into her hairline. Wilfred Mott nodded. “Oh.”

“That’s why I’ve been looking for him, the Doctor. He might have some idea if it’s alien or not, or what to do. But you’re his friend,” he repeated. “Is there any way to get in touch with him?”

“I gave him a mobile.” She fished her own out of her pocket and dialed the number. It went straight to voicemail. “He’s turned it off.” Martha frowned. Had he just decided to cut himself off from the whole lot of them?

“Has he got another phone, you know, in the phone box?” Poor Mr. Mott was wringing his hands together with anxiety.

“I don’t know the number to it,” she answered with regret. “Listen, what I can do is keep trying his mobile, and in the meantime I can have a look at Donna. I promise, anything I find will be treated with the utmost privacy and confidentiality.” It was the least she could do for her friend after everything Donna had done for the universe.

With that in mind, she re-entered the room and assumed an air of professionalism. “Miss Noble, as you know, I’m Doctor Jones.” Martha paused, but there was no spark, no sign of recognition from the other woman. It was worse than a Chameleon Arch. At least then there’d been the knowledge that the person looking at her like a relative stranger would one day be back to normal. “Your grandfather has brought me up to speed on you and your baby’s condition, and I think it’d be best if we start off with an ultrasound.”

Donna had clearly anticipated as much and put up little fuss. Soon enough, Martha had the machine up and running and an image up on the screen. But that image presented something of a problem.

“So can you find what’s wrong?” Donna wanted to know.

“Er, I’m having trouble finding the baby.”

Donna looked at her sharply. “You what ?”

“There must be something wrong with the equipment. It’s like it doesn’t want to focus, almost like a —”

Perception filter nearly fell past her lips before she remembered herself. But that couldn’t be right; how could Donna have a perception filter if she wasn’t even able to remember what a perception filter was?

Martha stood. “Er, I’m going to put a call in to the technician. Mr. Mott, would you mind stepping out with me again?”

“Not at all,” the older man agreed, getting to his feet as quickly as he could.

“Yeah, fine, I’ll just sit here cleaning gel off myself, shall I?” Said Donna. Martha winced but continued back out into the corridor.

“The Doctor didn’t leave anything with Donna, did he? A key on a chain maybe, or something small like that?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Mr. Mott answered. “He wouldn’t have. Said it was too dangerous for Donna to remember him.”

“Alright, well then I’m not sure what exactly is interfering with our equipment and all of a sudden, too. I’ll have to requisition any ultrasounds taken by the previous doctors, but they won’t be as up to date assuming they did any this early in her pregnancy.”

“So they might not tell us what we need to know.”

“Exactly.” Martha blew out a breath, then said, “Tell you what, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to put in my report that it’s all fine, false alarm. My superiors at UNIT — that’s who put me in here — will drop it. In two weeks, my resignation goes through, and I’m starting some freelance work with Mickey; he’s another friend of the Doctor’s. I’ll give you a call so we can set up a follow-up appointment, and that one will be off the books.”

“So she’ll be safe from anyone prying? And the baby?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, thank you,” he said, reaching to shake her hand again. “I knew soon as you walked in we’d be alright, cos you’re his friend and all — course, if we could find him —”

“I’m going to do everything I can, Mr. Mott. For now, you and Donna can go home.”

“I can tell her,” he said, just as she placed a hand back on the doorknob. “You don’t have to come back in. I know it’s hard seeing her like this, and her not knowing you and all. The Doctor, he…”

“I can imagine.” Martha had been witness to the Time Lord’s loneliness and despair before. She could only hope he was handling it better this time, though her hopes weren’t high. Even as a friend she’d seen how much he’d simply adored Donna.

Martha shook her head. “It’ll look odd if I don’t check back in. I’ll be fine, Mr. Mott.” She pushed the door back open and said, “Miss Noble, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to reschedule for after our technician has had a look at things.”

“Figures,” Donna scoffed, then eased herself onto her feet. Martha looked her over, scanning for something small and just slightly out of place.

That gold ring she’d been fiddling with...was that a wedding ring?

“What, have I still got some of it on me?”

Martha blinked. “Er, no. Just admiring your jewelry.”

“Oh.” She looked caught off guard by the compliment and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Well, none of it’s half as nice as yours.”

“Mine?”

“Weren’t you wearing…?” Donna’s eyes darted down to Martha’s bare left hand. “That’s funny. I could’ve sworn you had an engagement ring on before.”

Martha stared, having absolutely no idea what to do. Was Donna remembering? If she was, was that bad? Would it kill her?

Mr. Mott gave a nervous laugh. “I’m sure it won’t be long till there is one. Why don’t we call back and reschedule?”

“That would be fine,” she managed. “Thank you both for coming in, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

“Oh don’t apologize,” said Donna. “Not your fault the thing’s broken.” It was the closest she’d acted to the woman Martha knew, and it pained her to know that little glimpses like this were all anyone would ever see again.

Donna and her grandfather left the room, and Martha did soon after. She had a report to fake and arrangements to make.

As she walked back down the corridor she withdrew her phone again, only this time when her call was sent straight to the voicemail, which he’d never bothered to change and so it was her own voice echoing back at her, Martha left a message.

“Pick up the phone, Mister,” she muttered under her breath. “It’s not for UNIT, and I know you’re gonna hate yourself if you let Donna down.”

Chapter Text

Donna had another dream. This time, she and John Smith — only she never remembered calling him John in the dreams; it just didn’t seem to fit — were making their way down a series of underground passages looking for Doctor Jones, who did have an engagement ring on her finger. There was a girl with them, too; a girl named Jenny, and Donna kept trying to convince him he could be a father. Yet the look on his face remained so impossibly sad, and somehow Donna knew with a heavy heart Jenny was dead.

“Guess that’s why I liked that name so much for you,” she said to the growing bump in her stomach when she woke up that morning. “But maybe we’ll look at names for your own.”

Even more importantly, it was clear now that Doctor Jones was in on it, whatever it was. All those asides with her grandad at hospital yesterday, and now she was having dreams where she knew her already, too. Did they all think she was thick?

Donna took out a notepad. It was clear she was on her own about this, and she needed to get organized. She wrote down everything she could remember from her dreams. The failed wedding, giant insects, the girl named Jenny, a dinner in a meadow filled with sweetly scented candles instead of wildflowers where he’d taken her hand across the table and she’d kissed him for real for the first time — Karass Don Slava , said a voice in her head, one that sounded suspiciously like him.

Once or twice she had to stop and rub at her temples for a moment, but she’d feel the baby move or place her hand over the bump and the pain would fade. Her headaches of late were getting fewer and less intense than before. She hardly noticed them now.

The real question was why it had been hurting her to remember, and how she had forgot what seemed to be the most amazing time of her life in the first place. What had happened to her? On a rainy night in summer she’d been brought back home by him, though he hadn’t seemed at all happy about it. He’d introduced himself as though he’d known she’d forgotten and then just up and left. Had he thought she’d never remember? Had he known about the baby?

Was that why he’d left?

Donna needed to get out of the house. She took the car keys out of her mother’s purse and went for a drive before anyone could ask where she was going. It wasn’t like she had a destination in mind.

But she found herself driving past businesses with new company signs that she swore used to be called HC Clements and Adipose Industries. Then past the reception hall for the wedding that never happened, where all this seemed to have started. At last, Donna parked the car and walked across one of the bridges that went over the Thames. She stopped halfway, leaning slightly over the railing and squinting at what she somehow knew was the flood barrier despite never having had an interest in such a thing in her life.

In her mind’s eye, Donna could picture herself standing on it. It was night, and she was soaked to the skin and freezing, but she was hugging his arm to her and laughing harder than she could ever remember.

And now she was here by herself — not all by herself, she supposed, touching a hand to her stomach briefly. Still, Donna couldn’t help but feel desperately lonely facing all this on her own.

“Miss? Are you alright?”

Donna straightened back up and turned to face the man who had called out to her.

“Why’d you say Miss? And why wouldn’t I be?”

He shuffled back a step. “Sorry. It’s just, you sort of looked like…” His eyes darted to the water below them.

Donna’s eyes widened. “Oh! No, no, it’s not like that. I’d have to be some kind of nutter, trying to do that in broad daylight!”

He managed a brief chuckle and repeated, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say you were. You just, well, you looked sad.”

The smiled she’d forced dimmed. “Yeah. Yeah, I suppose I am. Still, wouldn’t be very fair of me to this one.”

“Oh.” His eyes went to her hand resting on her stomach, and she noticed him falter another half-step back. “Well, there goes my offer to buy you a drink to cheer you up.”

“There it goes,” she agreed with a nod. “Thanks anyway. I should be getting home.”

“Do you need someone to walk you back?” He offered.

Donna shook her head. “No, I’m parked close. I’ll go straight back to my car, promise.”

“Okay. Well, I’m glad you weren’t — you know.” He began to walk away.

“Oi! What’s your name?”

He half-turned back. “Er, Shaun. Shaun Temple.”

“Better luck with the next nutter, Shaun.”

He had a nice smile. A nice everything, Donna realized, watching his broad shouldered back disappearing into the crowd on the other side of the Thames. He was overall just...nice.

Nice would have been more than she would have hoped for once. Donna could envision herself calling him back, introducing herself properly, going for dinner instead of drinks. If they didn’t hate each other she’d probably go ahead and decide they were dating, then rush through all the other steps like she did with Lance.

But that just wasn’t enough for her anymore. She wasn’t willing to settle for nice. Not for her, and certainly not for her baby. There was something else waiting for her out there, if not a someone. Donna twisted the gold ring on her finger, turned her back on Shaun Temple, and made her way back to the car.

Martha had just gotten her drink at the bar and was about to turn around when someone tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hey,” said Mickey with a grin. “Am I the first one here?”

“You are. What are you having?”

“Just a beer, but I can get it.” He began to reach for his wallet, but Martha halted him with a hand on his arm.

“I’ve got a tab going since I asked you all out. Anyway, if you and me are going into business together we’re probably going to be trading off on buying, Mister.”

“Yeah, suppose you’re right. Everything’s going through with UNIT okay? That’s not what this is about?”

“No, but I’ll explain when the others get here. Meet me at that table in the back.” She left him to order his drink and set her purse and jacket down at the booth to secure their spot. Martha was glad Mickey had arrived first; over the last few months she’d gotten to know and like him rather well. Working alongside him rather than for a superior was an experience she looked forward to, even if her mother tutted about her throwing away a steady income.

But steady just hadn’t worked out, with UNIT or with Tom. Maybe Martha was ready for a little adventure again.

Scarcely had Mickey rejoined her before she saw Sarah Jane Smith come through the door. The journalist scanned the room until her eyes alighted on the pair of them, and she made her way straight over.

“Sorry if I’m running late. I just had to make arrangements with K9 to let me know if Luke tries to have Clyde over while I’m out,” she explained as she took a seat at the booth. “Those boys can get into quite the mischief if left unwatched.”

“That’s alright, we’re still waiting for one more,” said Martha.

“Really, who?”

Before she could respond, a familiar voice hailed them. “Martha Jones!”

“Oh bloody hell, here we go,” Mickey muttered into his glass.

Jack made his way across the room to their table, shaking Mickey’s offered hand and kissing hers with a wink. “So, what’s the news that’s so important I needed to make the drive from Cardiff? Unless this is double-date night,” he remarked, sliding into the booth next to Sarah Jane. “Miss Smith, always a pleasure.”

The journalist shook her head with a smile. “I’m afraid this is strictly business, Captain, according to Martha.”

He looked to her now, the leer leaving his face. “Last time we all talked over business we were being invaded by Daleks.”

“It’s nothing like that,” she hastened to reassure them all. “But it, well, you two might want a drink for this one.”

“So it is about the Doc?”

Martha didn’t return his teasing grin. “Not exactly...it’s about Donna.”

“Donna?” Sarah Jane repeated. “Isn’t she still traveling with him?”

“That’s what I thought until she turned up as my patient with her grandfather.” Martha cupped her hands around her glass and spoke more to it than them as she continued. “Human-Time Lord metacrises aren’t meant to happen, apparently, so to keep her alive the Doctor had to take away all her memories of traveling with him. She didn’t even recognize me when I walked in,” she added with a bitter smile.

“But how long was she traveling with him?” Asked Mickey. “I mean how much did she have to forget?”

“A few months to a year, I think. I don’t know what she believes happened instead, but...she was just so different . I don’t know how to describe it.” Martha wondered if she had to; they’d all been indelibly changed as a result of their own experiences traveling with the Time Lord. And no matter what had happened during it, she couldn’t imagine any of them ever giving those times up.

There was a long, heavy silence at the table. Jack finally broke it with a solemn, “Sarah Jane, what are you having?”

Nobody spoke when the Captain left to order his and the journalist’s drinks, nor when he returned. He passed Sarah Jane her glass and then raised his in a toast.

“To the woman who saved the universe.”

Martha met his eyes and nodded, then raised her own. Mickey’s glass clinked against hers to her left and Sarah Jane’s across.

There was still so much more to say, however, so Martha took a long sip and a deep breath. “The thing is, Donna got UNIT’s attention and not because of the metacrisis. She’s pregnant.”

Mickey’s eyes went wide and Sarah Jane coughed a little. “Pregnant? Why would that be UNIT’s concern?”

“Her family thinks it happened while she was traveling, and the early tests indicate…”

“It’s not fully human,” Jack guessed.

“I wasn’t able to determine one way or the other,” she said weakly. Jack’s only reply was to let out a low whistle.

“Wait, but if it’s alien, what if that makes her remember all the stuff she’s not supposed to know anymore?” Mickey asked.

She shrugged. “I promised Mr. Mott, Donna’s grandfather, I’d do everything I could and not involve UNIT. Neither of us thought it’d be a good idea for them to get involved since Donna knew about them. It’s lucky enough she didn’t remember me.” Martha chose not to mention the moment with the engagement ring. She had to hope for Donna’s sake it had been a fluke.

“But you couldn’t figure out what kind of alien?” Jack checked.

Martha shook her head. “The technology just wasn’t cooperating.”

“I don’t suppose we could come up with a good explanation for her to come and have some diagnostics run by Mr. Smith,” said Sarah Jane.

“Pretty sure giant supercomputers are off limits,” Mickey agreed.

Jack drained the last of his glass. “Well how does Donna’s grandfather want to proceed?”

“Honestly, he’s convinced we need to get the Doctor back here.”

“And shock him into another regeneration?” Jack laughed. “I’m pretty sure he likes to pretend us companions don’t get up to that sort of stuff behind his back.”

“Like you didn’t shatter that illusion, Cheesecake,” Mickey snorted.

“Well this Mr. Mott might not be entirely wrong.” Sarah Jane folded her hands on the tabletop. “The Doctor would be better able to identify the species than any of us, and possibly the other party in this relationship as well. He was supposed to be, ah, chaperoning, as it were.”

“Oh, believe me, if Donna had felt he was sticking his nose in unasked, he wouldn’t have one anymore.” Martha sighed. “Anyway, I can’t reach him. He’s turned the mobile off.”

Jack frowned. “Guess he’s taking it pretty hard.”

“Nobody likes feeling forgotten about,” said Sarah Jane. “I can try reaching out discreetly to some contacts of mine, see if they’ve come across him.”

“What do the rest of us do?” Asked Mickey.

“Well, I promised Mr. Mott I’d oversee Donna’s pregnancy once my time at UNIT is up. This’ll be our first job, Mister.”

“Great, and I bet it pays well, too.”

“Come on, Mickey Mouse, we all owe Donna for the rest of our lives,” said Jack. He smirked and added, “So have fun on the nursery run.”

Mickey raised his beer again. “Oh cheers, mate.”

—-

It had been nearly a week since the appointment with Doctor Martha Jones, and her Gramps didn’t seem to be making any move to schedule a follow-up. Donna decided it was best to take the matter into her own hands and phoned the hospital. Only, as with everything else in her life, things only seemed to get weirder.

“What do you mean she’s not on staff?”

“I’m sorry, Miss Noble, but we have no Martha Jones in residence. Did you perhaps see —”

“I know who I saw,” she stated bluntly. She wasn’t about to be told the memories she actually did have were false. “My grandfather and I were just there.”

Her grandad chose that moment to enter through the front door. “Donna, love, who’s on the phone?”

“The hospital. They’re saying they’ve got no Doctor Jones,” she hissed, hand over the receiver. Then she removed it to continue the conversation. “Listen, all I want is to schedule a follow-up. Have you got your bloody equipment fixed yet?”

“I’m afraid I don’t —”

“Oh, Doctor Jones was, er, moving hospitals,” said her Gramps. When she looked back at him again, she noticed his eyes were wide and a bit panicky. “I’ve got the number for it somewhere, Donna, let me handle it.”

She wouldn’t have been surprised if he started reaching for her phone, he seemed so nervous. “Alright, alright.” Donna sighed. “Look, nevermind me, crazy pregnant lady,” she said down the line, then hung up. “How come she didn’t mention she was moving hospitals? What, was the hospital faulty, too?”

“That was my fault. She, uh, she told me, and I forgot to mention it once we’d got home.”

“So she wants us to switch hospitals instead of just referring us to one of her old colleagues.”

“Oh, I said we could move. It’s no trouble, really, Donna. She’s good at what she does, and she seemed like a good fit.”

Donna could have pointed out that they’d yet to see Doctor Jones really do anything, but all she said was, “Alright, Gramps. If you think it’s best.”

She had her own ulterior motive of sticking with the other woman, of course; somehow Martha Jones was mixed up in all this, and she couldn’t very well let her vanish. Donna left her Gramps looking much calmer than he had been once he’d seen her on the phone and climbed the stairs up to her room.

If she was going to prove some kind of link between Doctor Jones and John Smith, she had to have evidence that didn’t come from her dreams. Donna turned on her laptop and began searching for whatever information she could find on the woman.

She wasn’t listed on the staff at the hospital they’d seen her at, nor could she find any current place of employment. There was a bit about her completing some internship at the Royal Hope early. So at least she definitely actually was a medical doctor.

Further down in the results, there was something about the Prime Minister, the one they’d had for a few days before he died. Donna had nearly forgotten all about that. When she clicked the link, it was some kind of archive of a news bulletin that had come out about the very same Martha Jones barely after the election.

Donna stared. Her OBGYN had been on the most wanted list? What the hell was going on?

And then she noticed his picture, labelled as an unidentified man but increasingly familiar to her. John Smith had been on the most wanted list.

“No way .”

Her baby possibly had some kind of convict for a father? Was he on the lam? God, what had she been doing with him?

There was a third man, too, but other than a vague feeling like she’d seen his face before there was little for her to puzzle over him for. At the bottom of the archived page some moderator had left a note that the bulletin had been withdrawn barely twenty-four hours after it had been released and all those involved had an official pardon. Well, what did that mean, then?

She could feel the baby stirring a bit. “Are you enjoying this? You think this is funny? Your mummy is driving herself mad trying to figure out what is with your dad, and you think this is a joke?”

Donna thought she felt an actual kick that time.

“Oh, thanks, you.”

—-

Martha did her best to patiently wait out the remaining days at UNIT. She couldn’t help feeling she should already be devoting her time to Donna’s case, but the best thing for her friend was to not arouse any sort of suspicion. She didn’t know what would end up happening if UNIT’s protocols on an extraterrestrial pregnancy went into effect.

Her caution ended up being well worth it when she found herself summoned to the office of Captain Magambo near the end of the week. Seeing as she hadn’t been given any assignments since the Donna one, she had a feeling she knew what it was about.

Martha knocked on the captain’s door before opening it. “You wanted to see me, ma’am?”

“Yes, Doctor Jones. Please, have a seat.”

Martha did so and waited as the other woman perused a familiar looking file.

“This is your official report on the possible extraterrestrial impregnation of a human.”

“Yes, ma’am. I met with the patient and her grandfather, and we were able to determine that no such incident had occurred.”

“I understand the patient in question was a Donna Noble.”

Martha gave a slow nod. “That is correct.”

The captain flipped open another file that had been sitting in front of her on her desk and scanned it. “And would that be the same Donna Noble included in the Sontaran report from earlier this year? The Doctor’s companion?”

“Former companion,” Martha corrected. Magambo looked up from the file. “She returned home after the planets incident.”

“Because she was pregnant?”

“I believe so, yes,” Martha lied. She didn’t know what interest UNIT might take in Donna’s status as half of a human-Time Lord metacrisis, either.

“It seems to me Miss Noble would have been at greater risk than the average woman for extraterrestrial impregnation. Nevertheless you put in your report that the pregnancy is not extraterrestrial in origin.”

“I did. Donna was unable to identify the father, but the baby appears to be, um, normal.”

The captain pursed her lips, and Martha tried not to feel too guilty for the type of reputation she was giving Donna. “The Doctor has nothing to say on the matter?”

“Ma’am?”

“I assume this isn’t typical of his companions.”

Martha felt her cheeks heat up. “No, ma’am. Uh, I was not able to speak with the Doctor personally. He’s out of contact.”

“Hm.”

“Is there anything unclear in my report, Captain?” She didn’t want to appear nervous or on edge, but she’d rather get to the point if there was one rather than beating around the bush.

“Just trying to be thorough, Doctor Jones.” Magambo looked up from the files again. “You understand, of course, that if Miss Noble were to have become pregnant via an extraterrestrial, it is not a punishable offense. It is simply a situation that requires close monitoring to ensure the safety of everyone involved, mother and child included if possible. If you are merely trying to protect a friend, I want you to understand we wish to do the same.”

“Of course. But there’s really no need for monitoring, ma’am. It’s not the situation.” Martha held the captain’s steady gaze until the other woman glanced away.

“Very well. You’re dismissed, Doctor Jones.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

She stood and returned to her office, doing her best to keep her pace slow and measured. Once she arrived, Martha locked the door and took out her mobile, dialing the familiar number and achieving the same result as usual. Straight to voicemail.

“Mister, come on! UNIT’s breathing down my neck. For all I know, they’ll go over my head and put surveillance on Donna anyway. I don’t know what’ll happen to her if they get too close. Please just answer your phone!”

Martha hung up and dropped into her chair. For now, her soon-to-be former superiors seemed to believe her. But that could change. Then there was the matter of the baby itself. She felt certain there had to be something alien about it going on, and if so what might that mean for the pregnancy? Or when it was born?

On top of that, any one of these things had the potential to trigger Donna’s memories, and they didn’t remotely have a plan to deal with it. Without the Doctor, she wasn’t sure they’d be able to.

“What are we gonna do?”

Chapter Text

Donna had had just about enough of all this secret-keeping going on. Her family, Doctor Jones — it was obvious they were all hiding something, and she had a strong feeling it was about John Smith and why he’d gone. And what good was that when they were supposed to be her family and her OBGYN, and he’d been the one to do a runner?

If he didn’t want to see her any more, then fine, but the least he could have done was left his family medical history. What if it was some kind of condition on his side of things that had had all her doctors in a stir? She wondered if it was a condition that kept him so skinny, or just all the running that went on in her dreams.

Of course, she couldn’t exactly confront her family based off of half-remembered insane sounding dreams. Donna had thought about printing out the old news bulletin but decided her folks would probably just call it some internet conspiracy. She’d have to be a bit more subtle.

“So I’ve started thinking about the invitations for the baby shower,” Donna began one afternoon as her mother bustled about the kitchen. “They won’t go out for another month, of course.”

Her mother gave a hum in acknowledgment.

“Trouble is, I don’t have that many people to invite. I mean nothing like an unexpected pregnancy with no father to show you who your friends are!”

“True.”

“So I was wondering if maybe you and Gramps had anybody you wanted to invite just to bump the numbers up a little. You know, Suzette and the girls, Gramps’ bus friends — oh, but not Minnie.”

“Good heavens, not Minnie,” her mum agreed.

Donna allowed herself a smile, then worked to keep her voice as casual as possible as she continued, “John Smith.”

The pan her mother was washing dropped so suddenly into the sink the suds splashed up and left her spluttering. “John- John Smith?”

“Yeah, you know, that friend of Gramps that came round that time everyone was going mad about planets in the sky —”

“There was no such thing,” her mother quickly denied.

“Right,” Donna agreed to placate her. “But he came round.”

“Well, he hasn’t been round since. Why would you think he should be at the shower?”

Donna affected a shrug. “Seemed like the sort of thing to do. Wasn’t he at my wedding to Lance?”

“No.” Her mother’s voice was growing increasingly panicky. “Of course he wasn’t. You only just met him a few months ago.”

So it was going to be like that, was it?

Donna pretended to think it over a minute. “I guess you’re right. Sorry, Nerys was just saying something about it a while back.”

Her mum relaxed at her seeming acquiescence. “She must have got it wrong then, poor dear. She’s not been quite the same since she had those twins.”

“Yeah, fingers crossed I don’t end up the same way.” She stood up from the table. “Can I borrow the car?”

“Well, I suppose. Where are you going?”

“We’re out of bananas,” Donna lied and took the keys before her mum could reply. She’d been scarfing the bloody things down like mad recently, so they were probably close to out anyway.

They were really going to deny it until she could prove it to them, weren’t they? Well, she’d show them proof.

Donna marched back into the little shop run by the cameraman. There was a young couple already at the counter, but he spotted her and motioned for her to wait with a smile. Donna stood to the side and did her best to be patient as the couple finished scheduling and left.

“Miss Noble, isn’t it? What can I do for you today?”

“Yeah, that video you let me see the other week, I wanted to buy a copy.”

“Couldn’t resist, huh?” He asked with a grin.

Donna managed close enough to a smile in return. Soon enough, she was leaving the shop with a disk of her own tucked into her purse.

Neither her mother nor her grandad looked to be home when she got back. Donna continued up to her room with the disk and eyed the slot for CDs on her laptop.

Well it wouldn’t hurt to watch it over once herself, would it? Who knew, maybe there was something more on there, like how she and John Smith had actually met.

She fast forwarded through to the part of the reception where they came in. The music stopped, the camera turned and there they were.

Donna heard her own voice, which was odd enough. “You had the reception without me.”

Lance came in a bit louder since he was closer to the camera. “Donna, what happened to you?”

Donna apparently hadn’t deigned him with an answer, instead repeating “You had the reception without me.”

John Smith spoke up at her side, but it wasn’t quite distinct. The cameraman had chosen that moment to pick up his tripod and move to a better spot, not to mention the sounds of everyone else hurrying over covering him up. Donna frowned and paused it just as the her on the screen turned to him, then rewound with the volume turned up. Lance and her voices were coming in loud and clear now.

“Donna, what happened to you?”

“You had the reception without me.”

Donna picked up a faint, “Hello, I’m —” but lost the rest again. It didn’t look like he was saying John Smith, though. Something with three syllables maybe. She tried again, the volume up as far as it would go.

“— to you?”

“You had the reception without me.”

“Hello, I’m the Doctor.”

It was so sudden; a barrage of memories overtook her to the point where she no longer felt like she was sitting at her computer but rather flying along through her own mind.

The wedding dress and the doorway to space — the TARDIS.

“I’m the Doctor. You?”

“Donna.”

“Human?”

“Yeah. Is that optional?”

“It is for me.”

A blonde woman in glasses was blocking their path.

“Partners in crime.”

Then there was a whole cacophony of voices.

“The Doctor And Mrs Noble.”

“DoctorDonna, friend.”

“She is...your mate?”

“Come on, young lovers.”

“I can see...a man.”

“The Doctor and Donna Noble, together, to stop the stars from going out.”

“There’s never been a human-Time Lord metacrisis. And you know why.”

The Doctor stood in front of her, blurry through tears, but there was no mistaking the look of pure anguish in his eyes as he raised his hands to her temples.

“Donna. Oh, Donna Noble. I am so sorry. But we had the best of times. The best.”

It was too much, it was all too much and Donna couldn’t stand it. Her head felt like it was about to split open when the images and voices abruptly stopped only to be replaced by a wordless cry she didn’t know the source of. It filled her mind, and all she wanted was to find it and shelter it from whatever had it so scared.

The pain subsided, and she slipped into darkness, into another dream, a memory, only this one she’d had before.

Four months ago

She raised her arms to bury her fingers in brown hair and dragged his lips back to hers as he repositioned himself between her legs. He hummed a sort of question to which Donna broke off the kiss in order to nod in answer. For one absurd moment she was struck with the thought so much for not mating and then —

“Condoms!”

The Doctor nearly fell off the bed. “What?”

“I didn’t pack condoms!” Donna sat up, eyes wide and frantic. She couldn’t believe she’d nearly forgot!

“O...kay?”

“Don’t give me that look, Spaceman. It’s not like I thought I’d be picking up aliens throughout time and space.”

“For not intending to, you’ve been rather effective,” he remarked with a waggle of his eyebrows, and Donna barely refrained from swatting him on the arm.

“Well if you want me to keep it up,” said Donna with a pointed glance down, “you’ll land us somewhere with a Tescos.”

To his credit, he didn’t moan or stomp his feet, just scooted to the end of the bed and reached for his discarded clothes. “There should be something in the medbay. Think I asked the Old Girl to stock up just in case when Jack — well, never mind.” He shifted in some discomfort as she heard him do up the zip on his trousers, and Donna couldn’t help a wince of her own; she’d felt his hardness and couldn’t imagine it was that pleasant to try and stuff back in his pants.

“When you say something, do you mean a condom? It’s not something weird and futuristic?” Donna took the sheet and pulled it up past her hips. “Cos even if needs must, I’d rather not —”

“Well, we don’t exactly need anything.” When Donna raised an eyebrow, he elaborated, “I have a clean bill of health, which the TARDIS can confirm. And I assume you’re not carrying anything, or you wouldn’t have let me perform the Telurian Technique on you.”

Donna rolled her eyes. Figured only the Doctor could make oral sound so clinical. “Right.”

“So that at least eliminates the risk factor,” he said.

“Oi, you’re forgetting a pretty big risk there, unless you want Time Tots running about the place.”

He stared at her, baffled. “Time Tots?”

Donna’s eyes narrowed. “Do you think I’m too old or something? That I’m infertile?”

He seemed to catch on at the last and scrambled back up the mattress to her. “No! No, no, no, no, no, Donna. Of course I don’t — but I can’t get you pregnant.”

“What do you mean, can’t?”

“I can’t impregnate you,” he told her. “We’re not genetically compatible that way. There’s different developmental needs, different, well, a lot of things.” He scrubbed a hand over his cheek as he seemed to get lost in thought over the mechanics momentarily. Donna waited patiently as she could until he gave a shake of the head and came back to himself. “Basically a human wouldn’t be capable of carrying a Time Lord embryo, or Gallifreyan, rather, to term.”

Donna was quiet for a moment. “Oh.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, eyes full of guilt.

“What for?”

That guilt didn’t decrease. “Having a family is important to you, and I should have told you before any of this.”

“Well, that would have been a bit awkward to bring up on the first date,” she replied.

The Doctor didn’t laugh or even crack a smile. “Yes, but it would have been honest.”

“Do you want children?”

He froze.

“I know you’ve had — I’m not trying to ignore that or replace them,” she said, leaning forward and smoothing her hands up and down his arms. “I’m just asking if having a family is important to you, too.”

He didn’t speak for a long time, and Donna wondered if he might not answer her at all. “I hadn’t really considered the idea. There was no point, really. I’m the only Time Lord left, Donna, and there’s no way for me to — well, extenuating circumstances aside.” He shifted away, and Donna knew he was thinking about Jenny.

“But if we could have children, would you want them?” She didn’t know why she kept on about it. If there was no way, there was no way, and she wasn’t in the habit of rubbing salt in his wounds.

But she supposed there was another question underneath all that; perhaps they couldn’t build a family together with a couple of kids. But what were they building, the two of them? What was he seeking out of this? A quick shag, or something more meaningful?

“Donna…” He turned his head slowly to face her again. “In the whole wide universe, you are the only person I could even see myself raising another family with.” One of his hands came up to cup her cheek. “I wish I could give you that.”

Donna smiled, but he didn’t return it. Instead, he looked away and stood from the bed, his hand falling away from her before she could stop him.

“Hang on, where are you going?”

He paused midway to picking his shirt up off the floor, and there was such uncertainty in his eyes when he met her gaze.

“Do you think I brought you in here just to make a baby?” Donna asked.

“Well, no,” he answered, tugging at his ear in discomfort. “Not right away, at least. But —” He cut himself off when she reached for his hands to pull him back towards the bed, which he dutifully climbed back onto.

“I love you, you dumbo. That’s not contingent on kids,” she said.

“But Donna —”

“No buts. Traveling with you is more important to me than anything. For better or for worse.”

His shoulders relaxed at the familiar phrase, and the guilt melted away under his soft smile. “For better or for worse.” He took her face in both hands and kissed her soundly. Her hands ended up back in his hair even as they slowly tilted more and more horizontal until her back rested on the mattress again. A sigh left her lips as his descended down her neck.

“Doctor…”

Her fingers trailed through the short hairs at the base of his neck, then up and down his back. She could feel him tremble under just that soft touch. Little fissures of pleasure seemed to tingle throughout her wherever their bodies met, reawakening her desire tenfold and Donna couldn’t recall why she’d thought interrupting this had been necessary at all, not when she was so close to what she’d been needing for so long now.

He’d never gotten around to redoing his belt so she was able to yank both trousers and pants down to his knees.

“Do you still want me to look in the medbay for some kind of protection?” He panted between kisses even as he kicked them off the rest of the way. The Doctor paused, fingers gripping the sheet but not removing it from her body.

Donna shook her head and stripped it off herself. “Just want you.”

“Okay.” His hands went to her inner thighs, easing them apart with gentle touches as he resettled between them. “Okay, think that can be arranged.”

“I’m counting on it, Spaceman.”

Donna reached down and took one of his hands, lacing their fingers together. The Doctor looked up met her eyes, and the depth of feeling in his gaze made her breath catch. Then she gripped his hand tight as he eased inside of her, joining them together completely.

—-

Wilf was just coming down the steps of the bus when he spotted Sylvia walking towards the house. “Hey, there! What’ve you been up to?”

“Oh, just thought I’d go see Suzette while I was waiting on Donna for the car. I need some things from the store for dinner.”

“What did Donna need the car for?” When he looked, it was parked right in front of the house.

“Bananas, apparently. She’s been going through them like mad.”

“Must be the cravings,” he suggested as he followed his daughter into the house. Donna didn’t appear to be on the ground floor.

“Well, at least that would be normal.”

Wilf went and put the kettle on, then sat at the table to wait while Sylvia stood in the middle of the room. “What’s the matter?”

“She never puts the keys back,” she grumbled, looking about the kitchen. “Donna? Donna, I need the keys!”

There was no response from upstairs.

“Must not have heard you.”

“Well, she’ll hear this.” His daughter marched up the stairs, and Wilfred sighed. His girls were getting along far better than usual, but there were still the occasional skirmishes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.

But instead of shouting, the next thing he heard was a scream. “Dad! Dad, come quick!”

Wilf was up and climbing the stairs as fast as he could. When he reached Donna’s room, he found a horrible sight.

Donna was slumped back in her desk chair and looked to be in serious danger of falling over if Sylvia weren’t holding onto her one arm.

“She won’t wake up,” his daughter said. “She — she looks just like the last time, dad.”

Wilf came forward and touched his granddaughter’s cheek gently. “Donna? Donna, love, it’s your mum and me.”

There was no response.

“What do we do?” Sylvia hissed. “We can’t call an ambulance. They won’t know what’s wrong with her!”

“Get her on the bed,” was his first order. Between the two of them, they managed. “Alright, now there’s someone who might be able to help us. That doctor Donna and I saw the other day, I told you.”

“I thought she said not to call her till two weeks was up.”

Wilf shrugged helplessly. “We haven’t got much of a choice, Sylvia. Now where’d I put the number?”

Digging around in his wallet eventually produced the small slip of paper he needed. Wilfred dialed, hoping Doctor Jones wasn’t busy.

“Hello?” The woman answered after three rings.

“Doctor Jones, this is Wilfred Mott. I know you said not to call till you were done with the other place, but Donna’s collapsed and she won’t wake. Please, we need you to come see her.”

“Oh, God. Of course, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Just keep a close eye on her.” Doctor Jones hung up, not bothering with a goodbye.

Wilfred pushed the desk chair over to the side of the bed for Sylvia and fetched another from her room for himself. Donna merely looked to be sleeping, and he could only wish that she’d wake up as before. If Doctor Jones didn’t know what to do, who would?

“I should’ve tried harder to find him.”

Sylvia looked at him. “What for? It’d only make things worse!”

“Something’s gone wrong with what he did, and he’s the one who’d be able to fix it. She needs him.”

Wilf would never stop believing it, and if he could he’d go up into those stars himself and bring that alien back for her.

“Oh, Doctor, where are you?”

Chapter Text

The Doctor lay on his back under the console, his hands for once limp at his sides. He’d thought a spot of maintenance might do both him and the Old Girl some good, but then of course he’d remembered:

“You know, you could fix that chameleon circuit if you just tried hotbinding the fragment links and superseding the binary binary binary binary—”

But everything reminded him of Donna these days, which perhaps was a suitable punishment since she couldn’t anymore.

No, the Doctor was not doing well. He went here and there, aimless without anyone to show it all to. Tried to help where he could; didn’t seem to manage half as well without her by his side. Moved on to the next one, repeat.

It was never going to be the same without her. It was never the same without any of his companions, but for some reason with Donna it had been different. Somehow he’d let himself believe her when she promised him forever.

That was the sort of thing that happened when one allowed themself to fall in love, he supposed.

He didn’t recall the last time he’d slept. His own room felt cold and unfamiliar after the nights he’d spent in Donna’s, and that was a place he hadn’t the courage to visit ever again. The sheer sensory overload would be sure to overwhelm him.

And the nightmares were another thing to consider; if he could already picture with perfect clarity Donna’s tearful begging or vacant hello whenever he closed his eyes while awake, what horrors would his subconscious have in store for him?

It wasn’t healthy the way he was going about things, he knew. But he couldn’t find it in himself to go on with the same old life the way he had so many times before. He didn’t want to just find a new companion to invite along, not when he’d lost the truest companion he’d ever had. A best mate in every sense.

He just didn’t know what he was doing anymore.

The relative silence was pierced by a sudden cry. It ripped right through his regular mental defenses without warning, yet his immediate response was not fear of it but fear for it.

It was the cry of a child.

The Doctor felt paralyzed for a long, terrible moment. He’d not experienced something like this in lifetimes. Something was very wrong.

The cry quieted, but that hardly relieved him. Instead, he wrenched himself out from under the console and threw himself on the controls. Before he could even think about coordinates, the TARDIS depressed the input bar with a set already entered.

“You’ve got a lock on it?” The TARDIS hummed back in answer, and something like a smile rose to his face. “Oh, clever Old Girl.”

He ringed around the console more times than perhaps necessary, but he couldn’t help it. For the first time since losing Donna he had a purpose, a destination. Maybe...maybe he could relearn how to do this on his own.

They landed, and the Doctor raced out of the doors onto a very familiar street in Chiswick.

“No, no, no, no, no, not here. It can’t be here!”

He turned back to his ship but didn’t even reach the doors before someone was calling out to him. “Boss?”

The Doctor whirled back around. “Mickey? What are you doing here?”

Sure enough, Mickey Smith was standing in the doorway of Donna’s house. And was that Sarah behind him? Despite his better judgment, he hurried up the path towards them.

“Mr. Mott called us in.”

Of course Wilfred had. “Listen to me. Donna can’t see you, and especially not all at once.”

“Yeah, we know all that,” said Mickey. “It doesn’t matter much right now. She won’t wake up.”

“What?”

“Her family found her unconscious and couldn’t get her to respond,” Sarah Jane explained. “Mr. Mott phoned Martha, and she called the rest of us.”

Had something triggered the defense mechanism? But then how did that explain the child he’d heard, or had the TARDIS steered them wrong again?

“Where is she?” He swept past them into the house. There didn’t appear to be anyone else on the first floor, so he made his way for the stairs only to find his path blocked by the two Smiths.

“Doctor, before you go up there, we just think you ought to know —”

“Whatever it is, Sarah, it can wait until I’ve made sure —”

“Donna’s pregnant,” Martha spoke right over him, standing at the top of the stairs.

He felt his mouth drop open, but there was no sound forthcoming. He couldn’t seem to find his voice. He couldn’t seem to find his balance, either, and he swayed on his feet badly enough that Sarah reached out to catch his arm.

“Doctor?”

“That’s impossible,” he managed. Martha couldn’t possibly be right, unless — “How long?”

“About four months. That’s just before everything with the Daleks.”

It was. Which meant it had happened before she’d gone home. It had happened while she was with him.

“Doctor, are you alright?” Sarah asked.

“Always,” he replied automatically. It barely sounded convincing even to his ears. “She’s still unconscious?”

Martha nodded.

Somehow, he got one foot moving in front of the other up the stairs and met her on the landing. Martha led him down the hall, then stepped aside to give him a clear view into Donna’s room.

She was lying on top of the covers fully clothed, just like the last time. Only, as his eyes trailed over her form, there was one clear difference; a small bump in her abdomen that would only continue to grow. A child, four months developed, and that psychic cry so like his own people...how could this have happened?

Dad shock, Donna had said in the underpassages of Messaline. He thought he understood that now.

Wilfred Mott rose from one of the chairs that had been placed at Donna’s bedside and hurried over to shake his hand.

“Oh, Doctor. Thank goodness you’re here, sir.” Wilf was practically wringing his hand between both his own. “She’ll be alright, won’t she? Donna?”

“What do you think might have brought this on?”

“She was asking about you,” said Sylvia. He turned to her in shock. “Well, ‘John Smith’, but it hardly makes a difference, does it? You should never have let her see you. You should have left before she woke up if this is what was going to happen.”

He stiffened. “She barely registered I was a person. Given enough time she should have forgotten me completely.” He had to look away from Donna’s mother; his pride wouldn’t allow her to glimpse the pain saying that caused him. “Someone else must have been talking to her about me.”

“She did say something about Nerys a while back,” Wilf offered.

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Oh, Nerys.”

“Hey Doc,” said Jack, standing across the room. He had a laptop in his hands and flipped it around to show him what the screen was displaying. “She wasn’t just talking about you.”

The Doctor walked over to him. There was an image paused of him and Donna standing side by side. The wedding dress and “Just Married” banner hanging behind them helped him place it at the reception hall. Of course, there’d been video taken of the wedding. The day they’d first met.

He wheeled back around. “Who let her have this? There’s alien activity all over it. I say my name on it!”

“I don’t know!” Sylvia said. “We never even bought a copy since she ran off and Lance disappeared, the poor man.”

“He was poisoning her and planning to have her fed to a whole colony of Racnoss, and the only reason I consider him a poor man is the fact he ended up with that fate instead,” the Doctor stated bluntly. “So, if we can agree that not everything is your daughter’s fault, Sylvia, that would be lovely.”

“If Donna’s remembered you, then how is she still alive?” Martha asked, seeming to sense an intervention was needed before he and the elder Noble could come to blows.

He turned to her. “No idea. I built in a defense mechanism on the chance she might come across something alien. It might have held, even if it wasn’t meant to withstand this much. I need to see what state her mind is in.”

He took Wilf’s vacant chair and hesitantly raised his hands to Donna’s temples. His eyes closed and he leaned slightly over her, listening, searching. But to no avail.

“I can’t find it.” His eyes reopened. “The metacrisis energy. It’s not gone , it’s just...not in her head anymore.” There was a faint echo; he just needed to follow it. The Doctor slowly shifted down the length of her body. It couldn’t be.

“Well, what does that mean?” Sarah asked for them all.

“It means if I’m lucky, if I’m very very lucky, and the universe really is a kind and a beautiful place…”

His forehead rested ever so slightly on the curve of Donna’s stomach, listening. And he heard just what he’d been hoping for.

He sprung back up. “Oh yes!”

A couple of the others gave startled jolts at the exclamation. “Does he have to shout?” Sylvia complained.

“I hate it when he does that,” said Mickey in commiseration.

“Oi!” He scolded without thinking, then paused. “Blimey, now I’m talking like Donna.” He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised at how thoroughly she’d rubbed off on him.

“Okay, but what about Donna, Mister?” Asked Martha. “Is she okay?”

“Yes. Well, probably. Well , it should be almost completely unlikely, but she’s managed that before.”

“Why were you trying to mind read the baby?” Asked Jack. He should’ve realized the immortal would catch that.

“Because that’s where the regeneration energy’s gone. It must have been leaking out of the suppression blocks in Donna’s mind to be absorbed by a different one. Oh, you’re a clever baby, aren’t you? You knew it wasn’t any good for your mum, so you decided to help out.” He took up Donna’s hand in lieu of touching the bump again; he’d not been granted that sort of permission, after all. “Only the energy’s been converted. All the memories and such have been broken down, probably in the transfer back and forth from mother to child. It’s just pure energy now, like food passing through the placenta. Simple, see?”

Mickey shook his head. “Only you would call that simple, Boss.”

“So the child is partially alien?” Asked Sarah Jane. “Martha was having trouble determining that.”

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“The medical equipment wouldn’t display anything,” Martha explained. “You didn’t give Donna a perception filter, did you?”

“No.” The Doctor frowned. There wasn’t a reason the equipment should have acted that way, except — hold on, what was on Donna’s hand?

He looked down. “Oh, the bio damper!”

“What’d she have a bio damper for?” Asked Jack.

“There was a thing a while ago. I forgot to take it back.” He hadn’t even realized she’d kept it, considering he’d never seen her wear it since the wedding. What did it mean that she’d put it on her finger again now?

“But, uh, that’s the source of your trouble, Martha,” he said, attempting to remain focused. “Anything else?”

“I think I’ve followed it nearly. There’s just one thing.” Trust Martha to always have follow up questions. “How was the baby able to safely absorb regeneration energy?”

The Doctor froze.

“Doc?”

Oh. Oh no. Why did he always have to open his mouth and show off?

He was saved, however, as the fingers of the hand he was still holding twitched, and Donna began to stir.

The Doctor held his breath, and it was Wilf who called softly, “Donna?”

Her face scrunched up and she rolled onto her side away from the sound. She’d always loathed waking up in the morning. His hand, however, she dragged with her, and the Doctor quickly had to brace his other palm on the mattress to avoid overbalancing and falling on top of her.

Donna was blinking in confusion at their twined fingers. Her face slowly tilted back and up to meet his eyes. The spark of recognition there alone was enough to undo him, but he tamped down on his emotions. Donna knew who he was, which meant she remembered everything, including what had last happened. What he’d done.

“Er, hello.”

Donna stared up at him for a long time, expression unreadable. “Oh. You’re here. Good.”

The Doctor hardly dared believe he’d heard right. “Good?”

“Yeah.” Donna’s eyes narrowed. “It saves me the trouble of tracking you down across the bloody galaxy and eliminating your ‘risk factor’ permanently!”

“Donna, I’m —”

“So help me if the next word out of your mouth is ‘sorry’,” she warned, sitting up and pushing him away hard enough he fell back into the chair and nearly toppled it. “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through?”

“No,” he answered honestly, eyes on his trainers. “No, I don’t.”

“Two years of my life gone . I start getting the worst headaches ever. Then I find out I’m flipping pregnant , and the fun thing there was I couldn’t actually remember having sex! No idea who the father was, no idea if I’d even wanted to sleep with him. Thought I must have blacked out at a pub or had something put in my drink. Got tested and everything.”

The Doctor looked at her with dismay but couldn’t seem to find his voice. He’d never intended for her to have to go through something like that. She must have been terrified.

Donna wasn’t done, however. “And of course everyone in the neighborhood thinks I’m some sort of tart now. That’s been fun. I start remembering you, only my family keeps telling me I’ve got it wrong. I didn’t know if I was going mad or what! But you know the worst part?”

He didn’t have an answer.

“Something was wrong with my baby. Nobody could figure it out. I don’t know how many specialists I saw. Somebody called Martha in,” she said, throwing an arm out towards the woman in question for emphasis. “She didn’t know either. I’m going spare thinking there’s something wrong with me or that I somehow otherwise screwed up the development of my child, when really it’s just part alien!”

At a less serious time, he might have pointed out that having a human for a mother did not, in fact, make the baby an alien of this planet, but Donna deserved far better than cheek.

“Donna, I — I won’t say I’m sorry. Because you’re right, it won’t do anything. There’s nothing I can do to make up for what you’ve been through. If I’d known —”

“I did try to phone you,” Martha interrupted. “You had the mobile off.”

He squeezed his eyes shut and bowed his head. “I didn’t — I couldn’t see any of you after what happened. I knew you’d ask where Donna was, and I just — I just wasn’t —”

“How long’s it been?” Donna asked, her voice much softer than before.

“Two years, I think. I wasn’t really keeping track. Wasn’t really doing anything. It was just useless.”

“You should’ve found someone.”

“No.” He looked up to see Donna blink in surprise. How did she still not understand? Replacing her wasn’t even an option.

She was frowning again. “I never asked you to go on punishing yourself once I’d gone!”

“You weren’t planning on going!”

“Well, I’m not gonna kid myself. My head’s gonna start burning any minute, isn’t it? Don’t know why it hasn’t already!”

“Er, actually, you’re fine,” said Sarah Jane.

“What?”

“Yeah, the Doc says the baby took care of it somehow,” said Jack, giving him a look that the Doctor pointedly ignored.

Donna looked down and rested her hand on her stomach. “You did that for mummy?”

The Doctor felt the stirrings of something warm inside watching them. Donna and the baby. He’d never even imagined.

Her head raised again. “It’s not hurting the baby now, is it?”

He gave a shake of the head. “No.”

Donna appeared visibly relieved to hear it. She kept looking at him, though. “So how did I end up with a baby if we’re not supposed to be compatible?”

“What’s he got to do with it?” Sylvia demanded sharply, and he and Donna both blanched. “Donna, you’re not saying that — that he’s —”

He stood and turned to face the others. “I am,” the Doctor said, deciding to just get it over with. What did Donna always say? Oh right, this was so shaming.

“Oh, my God,” Martha breathed. Sarah Jane was gaping, and Jack and Mickey were both eyeing him with shock and possibly a bit of amusement. He supposed he deserved that.

“Well — well, that’s wonderful!” Wilfred alone was smiling, practically beaming ear to ear.

“It is not wonderful!” Sylvia was glaring at him. “You got my daughter pregnant and then dumped her on my doorstep.”

“He didn’t know, mum,” Donna interjected wearily. “Humans aren’t supposed to be able to carry Time Lord babies.”

“So how come Donna can?” Mickey asked.

“It’s complicated,” the Doctor said. He was only putting it all together himself, after all, and he’d want to examine both Donna and the baby more closely to be sure.

“No, please, don’t spare the details.” Jack was practically leering now. “How does a Time Lord get a human pregnant?”

Donna had her face in her hands, and Sylvia looked about ready to burst a vein.

“I can just relay it to Martha and Donna’s family if the rest of you can’t behave,” he warned.

“Oh, sure, lump us all in with Cheesecake,” said Mickey. “I didn’t even say anything!”

“Really, we’re not all the Captain,” Sarah Jane agreed.

“Alright, alright! Best behavior, I promise,” said Jack, his hands raised in surrender. “How come Martha gets a free pass?”

“Obstetrician, remember?” Said Martha. “Sort of need to know how this works.”

“Right, well the important thing is that Gallifreyans require certain developmental needs that a human normally can’t provide,” the Doctor said, deciding to just get it over with.

“So conception can be possible, but not gestation?”

“Well, no one ever really tried it before, but yeah. There’s biological components and mental components — a telepathic link between the baby and at least the parent carrying it is required to sustain life. Ordinarily impossible for Donna to achieve, but then the metacrisis happened.”

“Donna became part Time Lord,” Sarah Jane realized.

He nodded. “Right. The sudden influx of regeneration energy must have found a fertilized egg and stimulated growth and development. As long as the conception was recent enough, it’s possible.”

“How recent?”

“Jack!”

“If you try to ask when and where we shagged one more time, I’ll throw you out myself!” Donna snapped.

“Sorry,” said Jack, and he did at least look a little contrite. “If the baby needed a telepathic link with Donna, why didn’t you notice it when you suppressed her memories?”

“It must not have formed yet. Oh! Your headaches!” He spun back around on his heels to face Donna. “That must have been the baby trying to reach out. It’s instinct, couldn’t have known any better. Then once the link was established, the regeneration energy could pass back and forth between you, letting the baby grow and you start to remember.”

“But how did a link get made?” She asked. “I’m not actually telepathic.”

“Well, you might be.”

She stared at him. “I’m still part Time Lord?”

“It’s a little hard to determine when there’s a part Time Lord growing inside you,” he admitted. “But any ill-effects of the metacrisis seem to be gone, at least.”

“At least?” Sylvia echoed. “What have you done to my daughter? You said you fixed it!”

“Well, it was a rubbish fix!” Said Donna. “I’d rather be part Time Lord than an amnesiac!” She turned her frown on him. “You got that? I’m not going back this time.”

The Doctor had to bite back the automatic apology that was on the tip of his tongue. “Okay,” he agreed quietly instead.

But rather than look satisfied, Donna appeared to falter. Her gaze went back to the small bump in her belly.

“I would have killed it. If you’d done what I asked the first time. I would have killed the baby.” Her eyes welled up with tears, and Donna pressed a hand over her mouth. “Oh, God, my own baby!”

“Donna, Donna no,” he said, taking up her other hand. “You didn’t know. You couldn’t have known, alright? We both thought it was impossible.”

She was still crying, and he couldn’t bear it. Before he could reconsider, the Doctor bent forward and did his best to wrap her in a hug. Donna didn’t push him away this time; she pulled him down, so he was half-sitting on her bed and went right into his arms. He could feel tears of his own trying to escape. He’d never thought to hope that he’d be holding her again someday, yet here she was.

The Doctor rubbed her back and pressed his lips to her forehead, choosing to forget they had an audience for the meantime.

“The baby’s fine. Better than fine. And it’s all thanks to you. Without the regeneration energy from you touching the hand, the baby never would’ve been able to develop, to grow. You saved her, and then she saved you.”

Donna stopped sniffling abruptly. “She?”

He met her wide-eyed gaze. “Oh. Well, she seems fairly decided on that. You never know, though, she might change her mind.”

Donna didn’t pay much mind to that. Instead, the tiniest smile came to her face. “We’re having a daughter?”

The Doctor was rendered speechless for a moment. They were having a daughter. Donna still wanted him to be a part of this?

Someone gave a polite cough into their hand; a glance over the shoulder confirmed it to be Sarah.

“Perhaps you’d like a moment alone?”

The Doctor and Donna looked at each other, then nodded. Their friends dutifully filed out of the room. Sylvia, however, proved to be more difficult.

“It’s my house. I don’t have to go anywhere.”

“Mum,” Donna groaned.

Wilfred was trying as well. “Sylvia, love, it’s what Donna wants.”

A loud knock from downstairs looked to settle the matter. Donna’s mother got up with a grumble to go see who it was.

Wilf was now the only one left. “It’s good to have you both back,” he told them. “And a baby! It really is wonderful.”

“Dad, it’s Winston!” Sylvia’s voice called. “He says he’s found your box!”

Wilf gave a start. “Oh, that’ll be — yeah, I had them all on the lookout for you, Doctor. Suppose I better go get that sorted. It’s all fine now.” He left with a last smile in their direction.

A heavy silence settled over the two of them, uncomfortable in how unusual it was. The Doctor eventually moved to get up, only for Donna to grab at his arm.

“You don’t have to move. I don’t want you to move.”

“You’re not angry?” He couldn’t help asking.

Donna shrugged. “What can I really be angry about? If you hadn’t done it then this one wouldn’t be here right now.” They both looked down at her belly again. “I’m alright, the baby’s alright, you haven’t gone off and gotten yourself killed somewhere. Best I can hope for, really.”

He was having to bite down on his tongue to keep from telling her how sorry he was; for what he’d done, both intentionally and not, and for how much better she deserved than all of it.

“Did you want to have a go?”

The Doctor blinked. Donna huffed and gestured to her baby bump.

“Oh. If that’s alright with you.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “Yeah, pretty sure. She is half yours.” She’d taken his hand and now laid it on her stomach with hers resting on top.

The presence he’d felt only twice before reached out the moment contact was made. It was such an old sensation it practically felt brand new. He hadn’t gotten this with Jenny due to her unique circumstances. He hadn’t expected to ever have this again.

“If you want her, I mean,” Donna added softly.

The Doctor looked up. “Want her?”

“Well, I know you said you hadn’t really considered the idea of being a father again.”

“Yeah, and what else did I say?”

Heavy footfalls came up the stairs, and they both looked as Mickey appeared in the doorway. “Boss, it’s UNIT. Pretty sure they figured out Martha was lying.”

He felt Donna’s hand curl around his more tightly. “What have they got to do with it?”

“Well, I suppose they think you’re carrying some alien’s baby — and they’re not wrong.” With regret, he took his hand off her stomach, the little spark of connection going quiet. That was alright; after all the excitement, his daughter probably needed a rest.

“It’ll be alright, though? Once they know it’s yours.”

He grimaced. “I’d rather not test it.” Just as likely, his old employer might merely feel more entitled to stick their noses in. The Doctor stood. “Stay here. Mickey, you too.”

The other man gave a nod. “Right, Boss.”

He didn’t quite make it to the door before Donna got off the bed and caught up. “Spaceman!”

He couldn’t help stopping with a smile at hearing her nickname for him.

“If you think you’re going down there alone, you’ve got another thing coming.”

“Donna, I don’t want to risk it —”

“What, UNIT’s worse than the Daleks now?”

“Yes.”

Donna gave him a look of clear disbelief.

The Doctor placed his hands on her waist, his thumbs framing the slight bump. So small, so fragile. “I’ve got more than the universe to worry about this time. I have my family.”

He kissed her before he could stop himself, but Donna’s hands in his hair and her mouth moving against his seemed to indicate that stopping wasn’t what she wanted from him at all. The Doctor had never really forgotten what this felt like, but memories couldn’t hold up to the real thing. Oh, he could stay here forever if he wasn’t careful.

When stopping did become required for breathing purposes, the Doctor allowed himself to look at her. She’d never been more beautiful, and that was saying something. That wisdom and compassion and tenderness back in her eyes, her cheeks practically glowing, and their child growing safe inside her. For them, he would do anything.

But that wasn’t what Donna wanted. She’d never wanted him to go to extremes for her. And he couldn’t, not because he wouldn’t , but he didn’t want to be that man anymore. He didn’t want to end the day alone on the TARDIS because of something he’d done to push her away.

“I can’t lose you again,” he confessed. “Either of you.”

Donna touched a hand to his cheek and waited for him to look her in the eye. “You’re not going to. But only if we do this together, Spaceman. That’s what a family is.”

Every instinct, everything he’d learned since he’d first run from his home and certainly once war had come to it, said this was not the way to do things. But Donna was right; this wasn’t about just him. He needed to listen to her instincts, too, and considering the fair number of times they’d been right that wasn’t a hardship. These last few years had proved just how much he couldn’t do this without her anymore.

The Doctor drew in a breath and nodded. Then he raised his head to look right at Mickey.

“Anything happens, you get them out of here.”

The other man nodded. “You got it.”

Donna rolled her eyes, but seemed to accept the precaution for the sake of the baby if nothing else. “Probably shouldn’t keep them waiting if we want things to go alright.” She brushed past him out into the hall but waited at the top of the steps for him to join her.

Despite the uncertainty of what awaited them downstairs, the Doctor couldn’t help a smile as her fingers brushed against his.

Whatever happened, she was by his side again.

Chapter Text

It was shaping up to be a hell of a day. Donna had gotten her memories back, which included remembering the baby she was carrying was not fully human, and now the bloody government was at her front door.

If there was any consolation, it was that she really had been right all these months about the identity of her baby’s father, and he was right in this mess next to her. No matter how bad it looked right now, she’d faced worse odds with the Doctor before.

They descended to the first floor hand in hand, Mickey bringing up the rear. There were voices coming from the sitting room. The Doctor and then Donna peeked in and found everyone standing or sitting around, as well as a few UNIT operatives in berets. The woman that looked in charge seemed vaguely familiar, like Donna had seen her before somewhere.

A young soldier standing next to the woman nodded to them in the archway. “Ma’am.”

Well, there went the element of surprise. Donna and the Doctor looked at each other, then shrugged and stepped out into the open.

The officer of the group greeted them with a salute. “Sir.”

“No, no, no, that’s for her,” the Doctor corrected while Donna cleared her throat expectantly.

The other woman blinked but otherwise gave no reaction as she snapped off an equally crisp one. “Miss Noble. I’m pleased to find you’ve returned home.”

“We said you weren’t in,” her mum hissed.

“Mickey, you were supposed to take her out the back,” Jack groaned at the same time.

Mickey shrugged. “She told the Boss she wasn’t going.”

“Yeah, and she’s standing right here,” Donna said, glaring at the both of them. She turned her narrowed gaze back on the soldiers. “So what’s all the fuss, then?”

“It was brought to UNIT’s attention that a possible extraterrestrial pregnancy had occurred. I am here in the capacity of determining whether that is true and what is to be done about it,” the officer was again the one to answer.

“Yes, the baby Donna is carrying is partly non-human. No, UNIT does not need to get involved,” Spaceman stated. “There, that’s everything cleared up. Lovely seeing you.”

The woman pursed her lips at the clear dismissal. “Doctor, this is a matter of global security. UNIT cannot stand down on your say-so.”

The Doctor did not looked pleased one bit, not that Donna blamed him. “What’s a baby gonna do to global security?”

“It will be a brand new type of life form, never before seen on Earth. We have no idea of its capabilities, whether it poses a threat to the life of the mother —”

Donna decided that was about as much as she could tolerate being said about her baby. “Yeah, mum here, remember? Hi.”

Everyone turned in her direction. The soldiers were relatively impassive, their friends and her family seemed worried, but only the Doctor looked slightly amused. Probably had a good idea of what was coming.

“I’m doing fine. About four months along. It’s a girl, apparently, just so you know what to get for the shower — oh wait, you’re not invited.”

“I didn’t even invite them in,” her mother muttered where she sat on the couch frowning at everything.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Noble, but extraterrestrial incidents fall under UNIT’s jurisdiction.”

“And what does that mean?” Her Gramps spoke up. “You’re not planning to put Donna someplace? My granddaughter’s done nothing wrong and neither has her baby. They’re British citizens, and you can’t take them away like that just cos they make you nervous.”

“We are not in the business of locking people up,” said the woman. “Preferably, we would like to work in cooperation with Miss Noble, to ensure the safety of everyone. Protective custody would only be a last resort.”

“How about no resort, cos I’m not budging,” said Donna. “So listen —” She faltered for a moment. Even if this lady seemed familiar somehow, she’d still missed the introductions.

“Captain,” the Doctor quietly supplied.

And then it hit her. “Oh! That was you! Captain Magambo!”

The officer in question blinked.

“I met her in that parallel world,” Donna added.

“What parallel world?” Asked Mickey.

“Oh, it was awful, you wouldn’t want to go.”

“I thought parallel worlds were supposed to be sealed off from each other,” said Sarah Jane.

“Yeah, they usually are, but there was this lady with a Time Beetle, and it formed a whole new one around me.”

“That shouldn’t be possible,” Jack stated bluntly.

“Right, well Donna’s just sort of special like that. And that meeting never actually happened, at least not for this Captain Magambo,” the Doctor interjected. “So why don’t we stick to the matter at hand?”

“I would have to agree,” said Captain Magambo, who, to her credit, hardly appeared fazed at the news of her parallel self. Donna wondered where UNIT found these people. “While I am glad to know you seem unharmed, Miss Noble, this is hardly something we can take for granted. The child you carry is a complete unknown to the entire universe.”

“Aside from some differences in developmental stages, there’s been no indication of any sort of danger or threat to the planet,” said Martha.

“Nevertheless —” The captain began.

Donna rolled her eyes. “Look, I’m not giving birth to a flipping Draconian, alright? Or a giant wasp, either — feel lucky you missed that one.” Maybe they should’ve run off to the 1920s to have the baby; it would’ve avoided this mess at least!

“Doctor Jones told us you were unable to identify the father.” The captain turned to Martha as she spoke. “I believe she was honest at the very least on that account.”

Martha wasn’t backing down. “I take full responsibility for my actions, Captain, but I cannot apologize for them. The nature of Donna’s condition at the time made UNIT intervention inadvisable.”

“And how has that condition now changed?”

Donna exchanged a look with the Doctor.

“Donna absorbed some of my regeneration energy,” the Doctor grudgingly revealed. “She and the baby needed time to allow the energy to convert into a form that wasn’t harmful —”

“Namely so my head didn’t explode,” Donna added helpfully.

“Right.”

Captain Magambo was quiet for several moments. “If I am understanding this correctly, the child...is Time Lord.”

The two soldiers that flanked her and had been relatively impassive till now both went wide-eyed.

The Doctor reached up and tugged on his ear. “Yes. Partially, at least.”

“So there’s hardly a cause for concern, Captain,” said Sarah Jane, reading as well as Donna that he was rather uncomfortable under the scrutiny. “The Time Lords are perfectly rational people, and both parents are present to peacefully acclimate the baby to Earth.”

The captain did not appear to know what to say. Clearly, no one at UNIT had expected this.

The Doctor cleared his throat. “I should say that this wasn’t something that happened on a whim — I mean, under normal circumstances, a baby should have been impossible. But, uh, but the point is I am very much committed to Donna, for however long she’ll have me.”

She knew he’d said it mostly for the sake of his own reputation, but she couldn’t help the fond smile as she looked back at him. “How many times do I have to say forever, Spaceman?”

He gave her one of those daft smiles, the kind she’d never even hoped someone might favor her with. “A fair few more.” Cheek. Gone was the wary, stilted awkwardness from before when she’d first woken up, and maybe she should have left him to sweat it out a bit more, but Donna couldn’t help that seeing him happy made her happy.

Shame they had to be interrupted. “Am I to understand that there will be more?”

He blinked. “More what?”

“Children, Doctor,” said Captain Magambo in a flat tone.

“Oh! Er, well,” he met Donna’s gaze with a considering expression. “Normally even the one should be impossible.”

She thought she could see where his train of thought was heading. “You think I’m different enough now that we’d actually be compatible? I could have another baby?”

She felt the little one they were currently having shift about a bit. Donna wondered if she was wise to the conversation going on and if it was approval or displeasure she was trying to express towards a possible sibling.

“I really don’t know if you are,” he told her, surprising given the number of people present. He rarely liked admitting that sort of thing even to himself. Then he asked, “Would you...want more?”

Donna’s mouth fell open, but she couldn’t find her voice for a moment. Sure, she’d been the one to bring up the kids question in the first place all those months ago, but talk about being put on the spot! “Well, I — I‘d always thought — I hated being an only child. But I’m fine with just the one, really.” She wanted to make that clear before he plunged into some ridiculous grief over being unable to provide her with ten children or something.

“But if we could have more, you would want more?”

“Well, yeah. Yeah, I suppose. That alright with you?”

“I suppose,” he answered after a moment’s thought.

Donna tried to reign in her excitement. “Really?”

A small smile came to her Spaceman’s face. “Yes.” The Doctor took both of her hands and looked her right in the eye. “If it’s possible, I want you to have the family you always hoped for. And I want it, too,” he added quietly.

It was all she could do to keep from jumping his bones at this point. In a forcefully measured tone, she gave a simple, “Okay.”

“Okay,” he agreed.

They both nodded, then turned as one to face Captain Magambo again.

“We’ll have to get back to you on that,” said Spaceman.

“Can I just state for the record that I feel so privileged to have witnessed this conversation?” Jack was grinning broadly, and Donna could feel her cheeks heating up. He really never quit!

Her mother seemed to be ignoring Jack at the least. “How many?” She asked.

“Does it look like we’ve worked that out yet?” Donna decided not to even try reminding her they weren’t sure if they could have more yet. That had clearly gone in one ear and out the other.

“Well, don’t I get to know? These are my grandchildren we’re talking about.”

“Oh, blimey,” muttered the Doctor.

“You can’t really blame her,” said her grandad. “We’re just happy for you. A family!”

Their other friends were all smiling as well, some of them looking like they were trying not to laugh more than others.

“I’m afraid this still doesn’t solve the matter of how UNIT should proceed,” said the captain.

The Doctor frowned. “You’ll proceed as normal. This hasn’t got anything to do with you.”

“Doctor —”

“This is my family, Captain. I may have allowed UNIT biological information regarding myself in the past, but I’ll not have you poking or prodding at Donna and certainly not at our daughter.” He’d stepped slightly in front of her, tensed as if ready to fend off some kind of attack. Donna reached out and placed a hand on his arm. The other rested over her stomach.

“How about a compromise?” Martha took a step forward. “Captain, as you know at the end of next week I will no longer be employed at UNIT.”

“Really?” Asked the Doctor. He looked to her for a moment, but this was just as much news to Donna.

“Yes. Mickey and I have decided to go into business as freelancers.”

“Thought it’d be nice to be our own bosses for a change,” Mickey added.

The Doctor looked back and forth between them. “That’s brilliant! Wait, what are you gonna call yourselves?”

“Probably just our names.” Mickey shrugged. “Smith and Jones.”

Really ?” Spaceman was practically bouncing on the balls of his feet now.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Martha, refusing to look at him. She caught Donna’s eye and shook her head with a grin.

“What was your idea, Martha?” Donna asked, hoping to steer her mad Spaceman back on track.

“Well, I assume I’m still the obstetrician and would be consulting further once the baby is born.” At their nods, Martha continued. “Anything you two and I agree is pertinent information can be passed along to UNIT, but the rest remains private.”

“You’ll be our first clients,” said Mickey.

Captain Magambo was pursing her lips, but she wasn’t giving an outright no either. Donna exchanged a look with the Doctor, then nodded.

“That’s alright with us.”

The captain sighed. “I’ll have to defer to my superiors, but it seems to be the best solution for all involved.”

Donna felt herself relax, and the Doctor finally let her step out from behind him.

Captain Magambo nodded to her soldiers, who started for the door. “Someone will be in touch to set up contact, Doctor Jones.” Then she turned to the Doctor and snapped off a salute before he could protest. “Sir.” She made a small shift and saluted Donna. “Ma’am.”

It wasn’t until she had departed after her soldiers that it felt like the air had properly come back into the room.

“Well —” Sarah Jane began.

She never got to finish, because someone’s high heels came clomping through the front door. “Donna!”

“Nerys! What’re you doing here?”

Her frenemy hurried right into the room, having already let herself in. “Oh, hi Mrs. Noble.”

“Hello, Nerys,” said Donna’s mother. Oh great, make her feel welcome.

“My mum called because Minnie phoned her that Winston told her a bunch of soldiers had showed up at your house,” Nerys finally explained. Then she gestured around at the large group still present. “What’s going on?”

Donna looked back over her shoulder. “Gramps!”

Her grandad wrung his hands. “Well, I — I sent him home. Didn’t mean for him to call everyone.”

Donna might have replied, but then Nerys grabbed her arm.

“Oh, my God. It’s him. It’s you!” She was staring right at the Doctor.

“Er, yes. Hello again.”

Nerys had a triumphant look now. “I knew it. I knew it was him! What was all the pretending you didn’t know him about for anyway?”

Donna was trapped. What was she gonna tell people? She couldn’t very well let them all know she’d had temporary alien amnesia!

“Uh…”

“That was my fault,” said the Doctor. Donna fell silent. By all means, if he wanted to give it a go she wouldn’t get in the way. “Those soldiers are part of the United Intelligence Taskforce. From time to time, they require my assistance, and for the last several months I was on assignment with them. Sensitive matter, you understand. Donna wasn’t allowed to talk about it or me for the duration.”

Was he serious? Nerys’ eyes looked ready to bulge out of her skull, Martha was biting her lip to keep from laughing, and Donna was severely regretting letting him talk.

Then he put an arm around her shoulders. “The baby’s changed everything, of course. My resignation came through, and I’ll be around much more often.”

“Yeah, I should really order that pizza, since we’re celebrating and all,” Jack added with a wink. Sure, trust him to get in on it.

“Oh. My. God . Donna!”

Her day only managed to get more hectic from there. Nerys somehow slipped away for a moment to call Veena and all the girls, and then of course her Gramps’ friends from the bus all came round with Winston. Her mum was complaining they’d soon be out of biscuits what with all the guests. Spaceman had to step out to take a call from some Brigadier or something, which only lended more credence to his mad story and set the girls all atwitter again. At least Minnie the Menace hit it off with Jack; best to keep those two occupied with each other.

She was glad enough to see everyone off and retire to bed despite having taken that involuntary nap earlier in the day. Of course, Donna surprised both her folks and the Doctor by grabbing a set of pajamas and heading out to the TARDIS.

She made it up the ramp and to the corridor before he even caught up. “Donna?”

“I am tired, and I want my proper bed, not the twin-size at my mum’s.” Donna looked back at him and fiddled a bit with the string on her pajama bottoms. “Besides, it doesn’t fit two.”

His eyes went rather wide. “Oh.”

She really did just want to go to bed. But she’d feel better if he stayed with her, at least till she’d nodded off. Donna got ready in the bathroom and came out to find the Doctor leaning back into the pillows on his side, a book open on his lap. Just like so many nights before, like everything on Shan Shen and the Daleks hadn’t happened. So much had changed, though; the slightly stiff way he held himself as if waiting to be shown the door and the small bump in her middle that would only continue to grow were only the most obvious signs.

“They’re never gonna stop talking, you know. Now they think I’m with some secret agent.”

“Oh, Donna, I could’ve never stopped them talking about you. Only now they’re talking about how brilliant you are.”

She sighed. He really knew how lay it on thick. “Suppose it’s better than them thinking I had some drunken one-night stand.” Donna climbed in on her side carefully. “You mind dimming the light a bit?”

Spaceman looked up from his book. “Do you want it off?”

“No, just not so bright. Don’t want you getting bored.”

The Doctor shut the book and set it aside, flicking the lamp off. “Not possible when you’re around.”

She rolled her eyes. “Prawn. You gonna kiss me goodnight?”

It was easy to tell that in private at least he still wasn’t totally assured of his reception and was waiting for her prompting. She appreciated he wasn’t taking his welcome for granted, but she missed the ease which they’d had before. Not that it hadn’t taken them time to develop that in the first place, and so Donna was determined they’d get there again.

The bed dipped as he leaned more towards the middle and pecked her on the lips. “Goodnight.”

She chased after his lips with hers for a second one before he could pull away. “Goodnight.”

Donna had no dreams for what seemed the first time in a long while. It was still dark in her room when she stirred — not that there were any windows, but the TARDIS tended to slowly bring the lights up when she thought it proper for Donna to wake — and she rolled over intent on drifting back to sleep. But then turning to her other side allowed her to properly notice her bedmate.

The Doctor had clearly not been sleeping. For one thing he was still on top of the covers, and for another he had himself propped up on one arm, the other slung low over her hips. That wasn’t entirely unusual, but she couldn’t shake that what she could make out of his expression seemed sad.

“Spaceman? What time is it?” She asked groggily. “Have you even slept?”

“Don’t need to.”

“Those bags under your eyes beg to differ.”

He prodded at one self-consciously. “They’re not so bad. Anyway, I can’t sleep.”

Donna raised her head off her pillow to give him a look. “And why not?”

Rather than answer, he smoothed a hand over the small rise in her belly. “She’s so big already.”

“Oi, watch who you’re calling big with her.”

The Doctor didn’t even crack a smile. “Four months, Donna. I’ve missed out on four months of her already.”

Oh. He hadn’t been avoiding answering. That was the answer.

Donna pushed herself up onto her elbows, then reached out and flicked on the bedside lamp. “Spaceman —”

“I should have been here. From the start. I shouldn’t have just left.”

While she couldn’t deny feeling better for hearing him say it, she also knew it’d be wrong to let him stew in his guilt. Not to mention it made him miserable to be with. “You didn’t know.”

He made a dismissive sound in the back of his throat. Donna poked him in the arm.

“If I’m not responsible for nearly getting her killed cos I didn’t know about her, then you’re not responsible for not being here. You thought it was what was safest, and maybe you weren’t wrong.” She shrugged. “Who knows what would have happened if I’d remembered you before we’d converted the energy. Anyway, I was dreaming about all the places we’d gone, so you’re hardly a stranger. She probably didn’t even realize you weren’t there.”

He smiled ruefully. Donna would have tried a little harder to convince him, but then a thought occurred to her.

“Doctor.”

“Yeah?”

“This whole telepathic link thing, me sending her stuff. When I was dreaming, it wasn’t just the traveling I was remembering. I mean, I suppose it was part of it, but — is she gonna know what sex is the minute she comes out of the womb?”

The Doctor blinked. And then he was laughing. Donna didn’t see what was so funny about this.

“Seriously, have I scarred our baby for life before she even has a life?”

He calmed down eventually. “No.”

“Cause I don’t want her first words being about sex,” Donna added. “I mean what would my mum say?”

“She’s not really thinking in words so much as concepts right now. Impressions, ideas, things like that,” the Doctor told her. “She can’t really process what she’s seeing, much less what sex is, but the emotions that accompany, it, well...I think she’s got the ‘when a mummy and daddy love each other very much’ bit down.” He finished it off with a grin.

Donna shook her head. “And she knows we love her?”

“Of course she does. I can show you how to actively engage with the link, Donna, but you two are connected on such an intimate level that it was probably the first thing she ever knew.”

She found herself smiling at that. Donna didn’t want her baby to feel anything but loved. “I really am glad you came back. You know that, right?”

He nodded. “I do, even if I can’t believe I’m this lucky.”

“Why did you? Since you thought my mind was gonna burn up if I remembered you.”

“Oh, that was all her,” he said, touching just the tips of his fingers to her stomach. “She called out to me when you fell unconscious. Must have been worried about you.”

“Really? And she managed all that way?”

“Yeah. Could be she was familiar with my mind from the metacrisis,” he theorized. His fingers roamed over her bump, and Donna wondered if he was communicating with the baby now or merely helping her sleep. “Or she’s just that powerful. Susan was more adept than me at —” The Doctor stopped talking abruptly and withdrew his hand.

“Susan?” Donna prompted softly.

It took him a minute to respond. “My granddaughter. She, uh, she traveled with me for a while and took on a human name.” His voice was soft and his gaze lowered, but he didn’t look as abjectly sorrowful as when he’d first told her about his family on Messaline.

Donna reached out for his hand. “What are you thinking?”

“What Sarah Jane said. ‘The Time Lords are ’. Not were.” He looked up and met her eyes again. “There’s more than just me now. Even if it’s not like it was.”

Donna smiled gently. “I meant what I said on Messaline. Even if it didn’t turn out like we wanted. We’ll help you.”

There was something so soft and vulnerable in his look. She thought maybe it could be called hope. “I want to believe you.”

Donna didn’t know which of them moved first, but then she was kissing him with all the need and desperation that had built up over four frustrating, lonely months. Her hands were in his hair, then on his shoulders, then at the knot of his tie working feverishly to get it undone. He always wore too much to bed.

She had it off and then the suit jacket pushed down past his elbows before he shook it free the remainder of the way in order to bring his hands to the buttons on her nightshirt. Donna gasped into his mouth as the relatively cool air of the room washed over her. But a heat began to ignite somewhere below her belly when his lips trailed down her neck and then over every newly exposed inch of skin.

Donna couldn’t get at the front of his shirt so she yanked it out of his trousers to let her hands roam all over his back as he continued lower, for once devoting far less attention to her breasts in favor of her stomach. Or rather, the baby.

They hadn’t done this since before they even knew she was possible, and now she was part of it. It held a strange sort of intimacy that took her breath away. Donna clutched at his hair as he knelt between her legs worshipping the tiny life they’d created together.

Just as she thought she might not be able to stand it any longer, the Doctor moved lower again, peeling the covers back from her legs.

“Donna, I need you. Please.”

He pulled down the waistband on her pajamas and pressed open-mouthed kisses over the cotton of her panties that had her shivering with want.

“Seriously?” She couldn’t help asking. “I mean I know I’m not quite at beached whale status here, but I’ve already gained back the half stone I lost running around with you —”

Don’t ,” he growled unexpectedly, and then he’d leveraged himself up the bed and sealed his mouth over hers before she could protest. It was a hard, claiming kiss, one that would leave her lips looking bruised in the morning. “Don’t put yourself down like that, not to me, not in our bed.”

She found she couldn’t speak, so surprised from his forcefulness.

The Doctor seemed to recognize that, for the blazing look left his eyes, and he reached to tuck some of her hair back from her face. “You’ve always been beautiful, and the baby could never change that. You’re carrying an impossible child, Donna. Our child. You’re a miracle! And you’re the most beautiful person in all the universe to me.”

“You’re gonna make me cry,” she warned, her voice shaky but there at least.

“That’s alright.”

Donna kissed him, cradling his face between her hands. There was so much she wanted to say; that she needed him, too, and always would, that there wasn’t a man out there who could compare — but she was no good at expressing these kinds of things in words and so she tried to pour it all into him through the joining of their mouths.

He had one hand at her hip and the other bracing himself slightly above her. Donna slid her hands down his chest in the gap between their bodies and finally had her turn at the buttons. She went for his belt for good measure as well.

“You’re getting proper nightclothes,” Donna vowed between kisses, and could feel his breathy laugh against her lips.

And then her phone started ringing.

“What —” The Doctor began, only for Donna to cut him off with another kiss.

“Nope. They can leave a message.” If he thought he could get her all riled up and then just quit because someone didn’t know how to tell time, he was madder than she’d thought. It was all the way in the bathroom, anyway, and she had no plans to leave this bed for a while.

To his credit, he was proving fairly amenable to her plan of ignoring the call. That probably had something to do with the way she’d yanked his trousers down and started grinding her lower body against his, just two thin layers of cotton between them. They let the phone ring straight through. And then it started up again.

It was really killing the mood. Donna broke off the kiss and stopped undulating her hips with a sigh. The Doctor thrust forward once more with something like a whimper at the loss of contact. She gave him an apologetic look.

“Probably Susie Mair. She’s on holiday, must’ve got the time zones wrong. I’ll get rid of her.” Donna shrugged back into her nightshirt but left it unbuttoned and knelt on the bed with one knee in order to give him a last lingering kiss. “Stay right there.”

“I’m not the one going anywhere.”

She hurried back into the en suite and fished her phone out of her jeans pocket where she’d left them lying on the floor. “Hello?”

“Donna!”

Donna straightened back up. “Mum?”

“Donna, there’s some sort of aliens at the door! They’re absolutely ghastly . Send him out to take care of them!”

She could not believe this.

“Yeah, mum, course. We’ll be right there.”

Donna let her head fall back with a groan before starting to work her jeans back up her legs and hips. It was hard while also trying to ignore the ache at her core she’d been so close to relieving. She really needed to make another trip to the maternity section at the shops soon. And actually, she could do with a trip to the toilet since she was up anyway. “Get dressed,” she called in a voice loud enough to carry into the bedroom.

“What, why?” Poor Spaceman was practically whining. It wasn’t as if this was her idea!

“There’s aliens trying to get into my mum’s.”

That had him scrambling. By the time Donna emerged he was pulling on his jacket. “What’d you do with my tie? I can’t find it.”

“Never mind, you look fine.” Donna grabbed his hand and pulled him out into the corridor. “Aliens. My mum’s.”

But when they walked through the TARDIS and out the doors, it was to a far less threatening sight than they’d been expecting.

“It’s the Ood,” Donna realized.

“So it is. Ood Sigma?”

The one who’d been standing at the door turned, his companions following suit. “DoctorDonna.”

The Doctor grinned. “Yes, that’s us! Hello.”

“Nice to see see you again,” added Donna. She could also see her mum trying to peer through the stained glass pane in the door. Gramps had come round to the front window. “What’s brought you by the neighborhood?”

“We followed the call of the child.”

“The child?” The Doctor echoed. Then he looked at her stomach. “Oh.”

“What ‘oh’?”

“Well,” he began, raising a hand to tug on his ear. “I think she must have called out to more than just me when you lost unconscious.”

“You mean —”

“We have been waiting to convey our gratitude, DoctorDonna,” Ood Sigma interrupted. His head tilted towards her stomach. “And now we must congratulate you on your new song.”

“Song?”

“The baby,” said the Doctor.

“Yeah, I got that.” She looked at him. “Just how many telepathic species are there?”

Well ...we should probably expect a lot of this.”

“Oh, you are kidding .”