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The Flutterby Effect

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The butterfly effect, as it relates to chaos theory and time travel, is so named in reference to Ray Bradbury’s short story, The Sound of Thunder, in which a time traveling character unintentionally alters the future in a major way merely because they stepped on a butterfly. When Martha Jones had asked the Doctor about this in Shakespearean England, he had advised her not to step on any butterflies and that had been the end of that discussion. It wasn’t that the butterfly effect didn’t have any truth to it, it was just that the Time Lords had a strict policy of non-interference and the Doctor himself was spectacularly bad at not interfering, despite his protests to the contrary. Half-intentional interference was basically 75% of what the Doctor did because face it, what fun was it going back in time if you couldn’t shake things up just a little bit? This was one of the few perks of being the last of the Time Lords; deciding which traditions of his long dead people were worth keeping and which were worth discarding into a black hole like a TARDIS manual he didn’t particularly agree with. For the most part, the Doctor was pretty good at knowing just how far to toe the line. When he failed, he created the Mandela Effect. The next time you have to argue with someone about what the last name of that family of beloved bears from childhood was or whether or not a specific comedian ever played a genie, you know who to blame for those debates.

That said, it was spectacularly ironic that the day the Doctor and Donna had their future irrevocably changed by a well-meaning meddler was the first day of the Dhodeallean flutterby festival. What was supposed to just be a friendly nudge turned into a full blown tumble and thrust. And yes, in exactly the way your filthy brain was probably already imagining it. Because while 75% of the Doctor’s own meddling was somewhat intentional, an almost equal portion of that meddling arose merely because the Doctor had all the navigational sense of your baby boomer great uncle trying to use the maps function on the smart phone he got for Christmas for the first time and just as much confidence that he knew exactly how to use it properly and just where he was going and he was a Time Lord and he didn’t need to read the manual because his people wrote it, thank you very much.

When the Doctor decided to take Donna to the Dhodeallean flutterby festival, he had done so after seeing a flyer for it posted in a rest stop at the end of the universe. In typical Doctor fashion, he had glimpsed the colorful flyer out of the corner of his eye and filed the information away without bothering to read the fine print. Had he looked a little closer, he would have seen the bit of the flyer that explained that the flutterby festival was just one part of an even larger and more elaborate mating ritual and fertility rite. So in this sense one could say the flutterby effect is what happens when the Doctor unknowingly and unintentionally stumbles headlong into living fanfic tropes while leading his naive companion alongside as unwitting bait.

* * * * *

Universal roaming was a gift and a curse. A gift, in that Donna could stay connected to Wilf no matter where she was. And a curse, in that right now she was looking at her phone instead of enjoying the festival because she was so self-conscious of saying or doing something stupid in the Doctor’s absence that she had taken it out to check her messages instead of mingling with the locals. Her mother had texted her pictures from her cousin’s baby shower, along with some passive-aggressive comments about how happy Nadine seemed now that she’d had the sense to settle down and start a family and Donna was trying very hard not to take the bait. She wouldn’t trade her life of traveling with the Doctor, not for anything.

Of course that meant sacrificing any dreams she’d had before of a family and a white picket fence, but she was okay with that because it was worth it to see the universe and things no human being ever had or ever would. She knew her mother would never be able to understand that choice because she hadn’t seen a fraction of what Donna had traveling with the Doctor. The experiences they’d had together had opened her mind to the possibility of being something other than a wife and a mother, and while there was nothing wrong with that, it was the only experience Donna’s mother had ever had and the one experience Donna never had and at this rate, probably never would. It was no wonder they were always at odds-Donna’s refusal to marry and procreate probably felt like a silent judgment to the narcissistic Sylvia Noble. Donna wouldn’t trade traveling with the Doctor for a husband and a baby, but it still stung to read her mother’s text: what’s the use of all this traveling if you’ll have no kids or grandkids to tell those stories too?

Donna read that text over and over again, her fist clenching and unclenching. No one knew how to get under her skin like her mother, and she was ashamed that she was letting it bother her. She had made her choice, but it hadn’t been an easy one and it felt like her mother tried to rub it in her face at every opportunity. She knew she would never be a mother herself, but it didn’t mean she didn’t still think about it, imagine it, or want it, even if it was only in the most fleeting of moments. It was hard to feel like she was missing out-who else on Earth could say they had seen the sun set over the mountains of Ko’Re Si’Pal, won a drag race against James Dean, or helped save the Kwahrck from being overtaken by a fascist government? But it didn’t matter because her whole life she had been told her worth as a person was dependent on her ability to be a good wife and mother and her mother liked to imply that her refusal to fill either role was somehow a failure on her part. For one wistful moment, Donna allowed herself to feel sad that she would never recount her amazing travels with the Doctor as a bedtime story. She was an only child, so there would be no nieces or nephews. It ended with her, and for just a moment she felt slightly melancholy about that.

“Why so sad, pretty girl?”

Donna looked up into the kindly face of the elderly Dhodeallean woman asking the question and tried to feign a smile. “Oh, just feeling a little wistful. I love traveling with my friend, but my mother just pointed out to me yet again that traveling with him means I’ll never have a baby.”

“Why don’t you ask your friend to give you a baby?”

Donna stifled her laughter, being used to it at this point whenever people mistook her relationship with the Doctor as something other than what it actually was. “He’s not that sort of a friend. We’re mates, not mates. And who said I even wanted a baby anyway, let alone with that skinny glass of nothing? No, I just hate that no matter what other amazing things I do, my mother will never be satisfied unless I settle down, get married, pop out a few babies, and learn my place. My mother hates the Doctor because she thinks he’s just a distraction from the ultimate goal of finding a man who will take care of me. As if I can’t take care of myself.”

The well-meaning meddler, who had been watching the Doctor and Donna skirt their obvious feelings for each other all day, smiled sympathetically, patted Donna’s hand, and said something the TARDIS roughly translated as, “Whatever you tell yourself to sleep at night, love.” The meddler, whose name might as well have been her culture’s equivalent of nosey mother-in-law, decided she would help things along by having a matronly chat with the Doctor, who had positioned himself as close to the nibbles as he could possibly be without sitting in the bread basket next to the cheese.

“Your girlfriend is sad you haven’t given her a baby yet,” she told the Doctor, who choked on the flutterby-shaped pastry he was eating.

“I’m sorry, my what now?” he asked following the elder woman’s gaze to where Donna stood across the way, arms wrapped uncomfortably around her midsection. “Ah. Right. She’s not...she’s not my girlfriend. Did she tell you she was sad? Because I haven’t given her a baby? Because that would be...odd.”

“She did not tell me, no. But I’ve been village matchmaker for a long time, I can just tell when two people belong together,” the woman said, an indulgent smile on her face. “And you two? Meant to be. That’s why you bring her to the flutterby mating festival, yes? So romantic. Lots of families started here, many babies conceived with the flutterby’s blessings.”

“Right…” the Doctor said, his mouth suddenly going dry. “Anyway, speaking of my companion, I should probably get back to her, would be rude to leave her over there all on her own where someone might mistake her for a single female interested in breeding. Nice chatting, great pastries, ta!”

A few minutes later, the meddler sent the Doctor and Donna two steaming hot cups of the traditional aphrodisiac tea served at the festival with an extra special infusion of fecund jaspberry leaf, happily (and correctly) thinking she had done the oblivious couple-to-be a favor. It was the Flutterby fertility festival, after all. One wouldn’t go to the fertility festival if they didn’t want to participate in the festivities, right?

* * * * *

The Doctor loosened the knot in his tie and cursed under his breath, himself first for once again failling to read the travel guide, then his stupid body for ultimately betraying him, and then that bloody matchmaker for interfering. He unbuttoned his collar and used the tail of his tie to wipe the sweat off his brow and looked everywhere but at his companion’s bitten lips and glistening cleavage. Whatever herbs had been in the tea they’d drank earlier had rather effectively disabled his usual ability to dampen his hormonal responses and the heady scent of the flutterby bushes mixed with the tang of arousal was nearly enough to drive him spare. It didn’t help that his companion was right there, existing and being lovely while she did it in a summery yellow sundress that left a tantalizing amount of her skin bare.

“Are you alright? You’re acting weird even for you and your palm is all sweaty,” Donna complained, dropping his hand and wiping her palms on her dress. Of course she had to do this by running her hands over her hips in an manner that was unnecessarily lascivious.

“Oh, I’m fine,” he lied. “Just a little warm after drinking that hot tea, that’s all. Love tea me, but it’s not exactly the optimal summer time beverage and it most definitely is summer on this planet right now.”

Donna tilted her head. “Hmm. I’m a bit warm myself, now that you mention it. Wonderful tea, though. I wonder what’s in it? Maybe we could buy some to bring back with us on the TARDIS.”

“Yeah, yeah, brilliant idea, molto bene,” he replied quickly. If he didn’t look at her, it would be fine. If he couldn’t see the way the sweat beaded up on her decolletage and trickled into the valley between her breasts, everything would be alright. If he wasn’t watching the way her hips swayed under her skirt, it would all be okay. If he didn’t do all those things, maybe he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the desire to throw her down in the grass and pin and mount her like a flutterby. Everything would be okay, he just...couldn’t...look at her.

Naturally, it was Donna who took the elephant in the room (or in this case, the elephant in the flutterby bushes) head on. “Listen, I don’t know about you, but I’m so horny I’d just about shag a cucumber right now. I think that tea we drank was dosed.”

“I think that’s a fair assumption to make,” the Doctor hissed through clenched teeth, trying to will away the beginnings of a throbbing erection that was becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore as the seconds ticked by. “I should’ve known that old woman was up to something, asking all those questions…curse my easy distractibility and love for snacks!”

“Well there’s got to be an antidote, yeah?” Donna said, her voice thin and reedy.

“An antidote would probably take some time to produce, given I’m not sure exactly what substance exactly was used to create this uh...effect. A cure sure, same as for most of these sorts of potions. But I don’t know that you’re going to be thrilled when I tell you what it is...” the Doctor said, his voice trailing off as he mimicked the solution to their problem crudely with his hands.

“We’re at a fertility festival again, aren’t we?” Donna asked, unamused.

“Starting to seem that way, yeah,” he said, swallowing thickly. “Apparently, flutterby mating season has a symbolic significance that I was not previously aware of. It’s amazing how often this seems to happen. Like the third fertility or romance festival in the last month or so. Starting to feel like the universe is trying to tell me something…”

“Would it kill you to maybe read about the places you take us before you go plowing right into scenarios just like this one?” she chastised, hands on her hips. “We only just nearly avoided the forced marriage ritual last time on Phidatera 7 and I’m starting to feel like our luck has run out.”

He shrugged, and the apologetic grin he offered her was, for some reason, much more charming and endearing than usual. “I’m sorry. But could you not put your hands on your hips like that right now? I’m never going to be able to figure out an antidote if i can’t focus and you’re not helping, standing there...all womanly and smelling good and what not.”

“Well...I don’t know that I can wait for you to figure out the antidote anyway. The urge for relief is well...urgent,” she said meaningfully, a deep blush overtaking her. “And anyway, I can’t help it if these hips don’t lie, I was born with them.”

“Right….” he said, glancing around them. Couples in various stages of fornication and undress were disappearing into the flutterby bushes, giggling like school children. In retrospect, the nature of the festival probably should have become obvious to him much sooner, but it was too late for all that now. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed Donna by the waist and pulled her against him, into an unoccupied bush.

“When in Dhodeall?” she asked breathlessly as he cupped her breast.

“Something like that,” he answered, kissing her like both their lives depended on it.

The inside of the flutterby bush was surprisingly roomy, the petals of the flowering plants blanketing the ground, soft as silk. In their desperation the Doctor and Donna only half undressed, his clever hands sliding her knickers over her hips as her fingers worked to free his erection from his pants. Together, they tumbled down on top of the bed of petals, lips pressing and searching hungrily. The Doctor ran his hand up Donna’s leg, eliciting a shiver from her when he pressed a finger against the damp cleft between her thighs and slowly began to stroke.

Grabbing him by the wrist, she guided his hand back to her breast. “I like to be teased first,” she whispered, shrugging the straps of the dress off her pale, freckled shoulders. The Doctor pulled the straps down the rest of the way, exposing her bare breasts.

“Why am I not surprised? The tease likes to be teased,” he murmured, tracing her areola with his thumb before taking her nipple into his mouth, grazing it lightly with his teeth until the sensitive flesh pulled into a tight little peak.

“Shut up,” she moaned without conviction, digging her nails into his shoulders. “Prove that mouth is good for something other than getting us into trouble.”

The Doctor couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows at the challenge and smirk. “I didn’t get this overinflated sense of ego from nowhere, you know.”

Donna hushed him, pressing her finger to his lips. “Don’t ruin it. Less Time Boy, more Time Lord, okay?”

He considered this, and offered his rebuttal between her legs. Gauging by her panting sighs and startled gasps, they finally seemed to be in agreement about something. The Doctor did his best to read her body rather than her mind and tried to respond accordingly, but it was difficult not to pick up on the stray thought here or there when they were so intimately entangled. A dark cloud loomed; they would have to talk at some point about what this all meant. Donna came with a muted cry, her fingers tangled in his hair and tugging unmercifully. He crawled from between her thighs and laid next to her, holding her while she shuddered through the aftershocks. He wanted to ask her if she was convinced yet of his usefulness, but thought better of it and settled instead for kissing her.

Clumsily, their hands explored the places they had only previously dared to eye from a distance, daydreamed fantasy finally becoming a reality in sweat slicked skin and breathless cries. The Doctor bit the inside of his cheek when Donna reached between them and grabbed him by the base of his cock, as forward as she had ever been. She teased him, straddling his lap and grinding against him while managing to keep him just out of reach. Lust coursed through his bloodstream and he bucked beneath her, making his desire known. She had told him not to talk, but he couldn’t help himself. He cradled her cheek in his palm and strained beneath her. “Are you going to make me beg?”

Donna paused and pushed her hair back behind her ears before she continued grinding against him. “I just want to hear you say it out loud.”

“Say what?”

“Don’t play coy. You know.”

Grabbing her firmly by the hips, the Doctor inhaled deeply. “I want...I want you, Donna Noble. I want to shag you and be inside of you and have it feel familiar and like home. I want to know you inside and out, like the back of my own hand. I...I love you.”

Donna went still, her shoulders tensing. “I just meant for you to talk dirty to me. I didn’t mean..I mean I didn’t didn’t need to say all that. This is just sex, right?”

“Right,” he said, chagrinned. “Sorry...did you want to stop?”

“Not really,” she answered, rocking back and forth unsteadily, refusing to meet his gaze.

“Alright then.”

“Alright then,” she agreed, finally sheathing him in her velvet warmth. “ could split diamonds with this thing. Oh my wonder you’re so arrogant!”

His eyes squeezed shut and he ground out a strained gasp-it had been awhile, and he’d forgotten just how hot human females ran, and how blissfully slippery they were, in more ways than one. “’re wet as the ocean and tight as a Vegas slot machine.”

Donna bounced up and down on him, frowning. “I changed my mind...please don’t talk dirty to me. In fact, maybe just don’t talk at all for a little bit.”

“Yeah...probably for the best,” he agreed. Eventually, they got the hang of it, their bodies moving together as smooth and fluid as dancers performing a practiced routine. The Doctor wasn’t used to surrendering control, but there was a quiet sort of relief in letting Donna take charge and guide both of them toward pleasure. He would be lying if he said he would never think back on how she looked perched on top of him, breasts bouncing, eyes closed while she bit her bottom lip, softly moaning in ecstasy.

When he came it was like quitting a long-hated job and telling the boss off in a moment of passion-sometime later, when the high wore off, there would probably be consequences, but in that particular moment it was everything and he felt bloody amazing and alive. He came out of his own haze just in time to see Donna’s eyelids flutter close as she came a second time, growing tense around him and shaking in the throes of her orgasm before she collapsed against his chest, panting like she’d just finished running a marathon. For several blissful moments they laid like that, and he tentatively lifted his arms up and wrapped them around her in a loose embrace. They were both still sweating, but the tension that had been pooling in the pit of his stomach before had evaporated when he’d spent himself inside of her. There was something lovely and comforting about laying there with her in his arms, pillowed by petals and her pillow-soft breasts. It felt...well, natural. So natural, in fact, that he could just about forget the embarrassing gaffe he’d made spilling his feelings and telling her he loved her earlier.

She laid against his chest, her hair an auburn waterfall cascading around them, tracing between his freckles with her the tips of her fingers. “That was…brilliant,” she laughed.

He chuckled back. “ was.”

And then just as abruptly as it had begun, the moment was over. Donna cleared her throat awkwardly and began rearranging her dress, pulling the bodice up and the straps back over her shoulders. “Have you seen my knickers?”

He fished the lingerie out from underneath a sheaf of petals and handed them to her, as silent and shy as a school boy. And he definitely didn’t sneak a handful of those same petals back in his pocket and press them in between the pages of his journal as a souvenir because of course the Doctor would never do something so humanly sentimental.

It would be weeks before they would talk about it again, and only because the universe forced them to acknowledge it had even happened in the first place.

* * * * *

Several weeks? later…

“Do you think I’d be a good mother?”

“Hmm?” the Doctor asked, sliding out from underneath the console to look at Donna. He took the screws he was holding in between his teeth out of his mouth and put them in his empty water glass. “What was that?”

She repeated her question. “Do you think I’d be a good mother? Because..I don’t know. I don’t have a good relationship with my mum, you know? And it’s not like she’s a bad person or anything, but she’s certainly not a great mum and I just always wondered if I could do better at it than her.”

The Doctor laid the sonic down beside him and regarded Donna curiously. “I think you’d be a brilliant mum. The absolute best. You protect the ones you love fiercely, but you’re so open minded and compassionate and willing to learn. All those qualities, you’d be bound to make a great mother. But why are you asking me? And why now?”

She wrung her hands and looked down at her shoes. “No reason. Just can’t help thinking about it, I guess. One of the reasons I travel with you is because it gives me an excuse to run from her and her judgment. Figured that was maybe worth examining, might help me learn some things about myself. Self-reflection, all that good jazz..”

The Doctor smiled and returned to his tinkering. “Doctor Donna, budding psychologist. The University of Mars offers an online program, if you’re interested in learning more about nature versus nurture. Or I could take you down to the TARDIS library, I’m sure I’ve got loads of books on psychology and biology.”

Donna scoffed. “I’m not smart enough to be a doctor and I’m betting any books you have are probably way above my level. I was just asking cuz I was curious, that’s all.”

“Bite your tongue!” the Doctor scolded. “Give yourself some credit, Donna. I choose my companions carefully and I don’t suffer fools. You know I think you’re brilliant. Mother, psychologist, rocket scientists, whatever you want to be, if you’re committed to it I know you’ll knock it out of the park.”

“If you say so,” she said doubtfully, crossing her arms over her chest. Her face remained pensive though; it was obvious something was on her mind.

“Alright, out with it. What’s wrong?” he asked, not knowing exactly what was bothering his companion but knowing well enough to realize that something was eating at her.

“Nothing,” she insisted, twisting a lock of hair around her finger. The gesture made her seem much younger than her thirty-seven years. “It’s just...I was wondering. Are Time Lords compatible with humans? Biologically, I mean. Because you’re always saying how you’re the last and I was wondering...well, do you have to be? The last of the Time Lords. Do you have to be the last, or couldn’t you…would you want know?”

The Doctor wiped his hands on the rag he kept handy for just that purpose while doing repairs and brushed the hair that had flopped over his forehead back. “No, I don’t know Donna. So won’t you just tell me what’s really on your mind right now?”

“Do you think you were a good father?” she blurted out.

He pursed his lips and picked the sonic back up. It was an inevitability, really, the humans he travelled with becoming curious and asking about his past, but he still felt no more equipped to field those questions now than he had a hundred years ago. “Not really, no. I was young and stupid and I took my family for granted, and now they’re gone. I lived, I fought, and they died. If I could do it all over again there’s a thousand and one things I’d do differently, but to answer your No, I don’t think I was a good father. Not when it mattered. I tried, but I fell short in a lot of different ways. No one ever sets out to be a bad parent, Donna. Most of us just try to do our best, but sometimes we learn from people who had no business ever being parents themselves and you don’t realize you’ve done the bad, traumatic thing to your own child until it’s already too late. Hindsight’s twenty-twenty. That’s the curse of the Time Lords...we can see the future, but not our children’s, not our own. Not enough of it to make a difference, anyway.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, tears trickling from the corners of her eyes.

“It’s not your fault,” he said with a shrug as he pulled himself up off the floor. “Why are you apologizing?”

Her arms wrapped tighter around her midsection and she stumbled over the words. “Because...because I’m pregnant.”

“Oh,” he said numbly, hearing the words but not quite comprehending them. His memory flashed back to them in the flutterby bushes on Dhodeall. “Oh.

She smiled ruefully. “Yeah.”

“It’s okay,” he insisted, wrapping his arms around her, wondering if the universe outside the TARDIS was imploding like it was in the pit of his stomach. “It’ll be okay, I promise.”

She pressed her face against his chest and sniffled. “Doctor...what are we gonna do?”

It terrified him to say it out loud, but he did it anyway. “I don’t know.”

Her voice was tiny, the smallest he’d ever heard it. “What you said, back there, on Dhodeall? I hope you meant it. Cuz I love you too.”

He hugged her tighter, and pressed a gentle kiss against her lips. “I know.”

* * * * *

Sixish Months Later…

“Hand me that, would you?”

The Doctor was perched on a ladder, sleeves rolled up, paint smeared all over his fingers and face. Donna handed him the tiny detail brush and settled back down into the rocking chair, folding her hands protectively over her abdomen. “I’ll admit I’m impressed, I had no idea you were so artistic. The nursery’s gonna be beautiful.”

He dotted tiny yellow stars onto the background of the night sky and swirled the brush with a flourish. “Yeah. Always been more for drawing than painting, but I couldn’t resist doing this. I want everything to be perfect for them. They’ll be here before we know it.”

Donna groaned softly. “Easy for you to say. I’m already roughly the size of a planet, and there’s still another six months to go! If my boobs get any bigger they’re gonna need their own NI number. Wish you’d thought to mention how much lengthier the gestation period is for Time Lords before you went and seduced me in that bush.”

He glanced over his shoulder at her. “In all fairness, when we were in that bush you told me not to talk so much. And as far as your breasts go, they look like they’re doing just fine to me.”

“Shut up!” she laughed, pegging him with a stuffed Slitheen.

“I’m serious,” he said, setting his brush and palette on a nearby shelf and climbing down from the ladder. He pressed a gentle kiss against the crown of her head and rested his open palm on the swell of her belly. “Your breasts look spectacular, your baby bump is adorable, and you’re positively glowing. Even your mother had nothing but nice things to say the last time we stopped by. Pregnancy suits you, Donna.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “I don’t know about all that. She’s certainly been more pro-Doctor though ever since she found out you were the one who put a bun in the oven. Suppose she’d rather a grandbaby out of wedlock than no grandbaby at all.”

“Indeed. Though I think Wilf half expects it’ll come out with four eyes and tentacles,” the Doctor chuckled.

“Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” Donna asked, cradling her abdomen.

He sat down on the floor next to the rocker and rested his cheek against her swollen belly. “For both of our sakes, I sorta hope it’s a girl. I don’t know if the universe could handle a second me running around.”

They lapsed into silence, though it was much more comfortable between them now than it had ever been. The Doctor couldn’t remember the last time he had felt as close to whole as he did with his ear pressed against her growing belly, listening to the stirring sounds of the life forming within her womb. He was starting to suspect multiples, based on the fact that Donna was ‘roughly the size of a planet’ already. But she wanted it to be a surprise and so he respected her wishes, running only the tests to confirm the health of the baby (babies?) and nothing else. It was killing him though, not knowing, and he had to resist the urge to probe deeper with his mind when he felt the tiny tendrils of something Gallifreyan and new, reaching out for him.

“You wanna shag?” she asked, idly pulling her fingers through his hair.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he replied, already unbuttoning his shirt.

* * * * *

He made lists, mostly of girl’s names that had some sort of association with butterflies. Cressida, Phaedra, Lucida, Thisbe, Vanessa, Pontia, Micandra, Zera. None of them quite fit. He’d keep trying, though. One of them would just ring true. Aporia, Cynthia, Delphia, Una, Megara, Pomona, Juno, Selene.

He’d already decided if it ended up being a boy instead that he might just call him Trouble. Reverse psychology and all that. Donna was fond of the name David, but he’d die before he’d allow their extraordinary child to have so mundane of a name. It’d be like naming a cat Kevin. Funny, maybe, but not quite right.

Messalina, Zina, Tullia, Aristor, Elada, Keila, Indra, Hermione.

Eventually, something would stick.

* * * * *

Donna was asleep, as she often was anymore. Gestating a tiny human was draining enough, but gestating a tiny half-human, half-Time Lord hybrid? Utterly exhausting, apparently. So he let her sleep, and sometimes he went on mini-adventures by himself, usually to the Babies R’ Us, sometimes out to get pierogies, which were just one of many random pregnancy cravings that had started cropping up. When he did get the urge to forge out somewhere on his own, he at least peeked at the travel reviews online first. There was so much more at stake now, even he had to be careful. He didn’t ignore the distress signals when they came in, but he wasn’t exactly looking for them anymore, either.

He went back to Dhodeall while she napped one day, to thank the meddling matchmaker. It seemed fitting to ask her for her name, since the baby (babies?) still didn’t have one and she’d been an integral part in getting the Doctor and Donna together in the first place. Were it not for her meddling and intervention, they’d probably still be tap dancing around their sexual tension and feelings for each other. When the matchmaker finally revealed her moniker, the Doctor was both completely shocked and not remotely surprised at all to hear that she’d been named after a humanitarian from Traken, a woman who had founded a hospital on the defunct space station Terminus. Even the Doctor had a hard time believing that to be a coincidence.

When he proposed the name Nyssa, from the Greek for ‘new beginning’, Donna agreed that it had the perfect ring to it.