"Where to next, Doctor?" Donna asked cheerily, leaning back on her heels to look up at the ceiling.
They had just finished an adventure on a mars-like planet in another galaxy, all running for their lives and last minute ideas to save the day. They were tired, but still exhilarated from the successful saving of lives.
"Wherever we want to go, Donna! We could go to the resort planet of Midnight. How about it? I'd say we've earned a break," the Doctor said with a grin.
Donna opened her mouth to reply when the TARDIS started shaking. The grin slid off of the Doctor's face and he leapt to the controls, pulling knobs and pressing buttons as he tried to steady the TARDIS.
"What's going on?" Donna asked from where she had a death grip on an arm rest. It was just enough to keep her from falling to the floor.
"We--I can't believe it, we're going into an alternate universe!"
Donna said nothing as the TARDIS lurched and she ended up on the floor. The TARDIS stopped moving then, and both Donna and the Doctor stayed quiet for a few seconds, waiting to see if the reprieve was only momentary.
"Where are we?" Donna asked as she stood up.
The Doctor looked at the TARDIS' instrumentation, trying to figure that out. "It looks like we've landed on an alternate earth, in 2044."
"Oh, I love 2044," Donna said with a grin. "Do you remember those amazing desserts they had on Risa?"
"The exploding cake!" the Doctor answered with a grin of his own. "That was amazing," he said as he pushed the door open and stepped outside. They were in a forest, but that wasn't what caused the grins to leave both of their faces.
"Evening," said one of the four men with guns trained on them. They both put up their hands and remain quiet. "Where the hell did you two come from?"
The Doctor cast a sidelong, resigned look at Donna. He really hated being held at gunpoint.
"It looks like we're not going to get any of that cake."
"You've got that right," the man said before gesturing at the TARDIS with his head. "Who are you and what is that thing?"
The Doctor looked up at the TARDIS. "I'm the Doctor and this is Donna and that's a police box," he said with feigned nonchalance.
"I can see that," the man said, his patience clearly wearing thin. "But it wasn't there three minutes ago, and then it appeared. Are you working with Jones? She never mentioned you."
The Doctor and Donna exchanged looks again.
"The only Jones I know is Dr. Martha Jones and I haven't worked with her for some time," The Doctor said, knowing they were involved in something they had no idea about. What was going on?
The man just shook his head.
"Wrong Jones. But we'll take you to her, see if she can explain what's going on."
With that, the man gestured to the others and two of the men came around to pull the Doctor and Donna along with them.
"Oi, watch it," Donna said, pulling away from the man next to her, but continuing to follow him. "I can walk by myself."
"So, what time did you come from?" the first man asked, almost conversationally as they marched them...somewhere. "You're clearly involved in some sort of time travel and you don't look like you've been on the run."
"You have time travel now?" the Doctor asked, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "That's brilliant. Well," he continued with a tilt of his head, "terrifying, but brilliant."
"Why would we need to be on the run?" Donna asked.
The man looked at her with his eyes narrowed in confusion. "Because of the plague. It's not easy surviving out here, and you don't look like you've been living in the woods."
"What plague?" Donna and the Doctor asked at the same time.
This caused the man to stop walking, and stare at them incredulously.
"What plague?" he repeated. "How can you not know? If you were from the past, you wouldn't have that kind of tech, and if you came from anytime after you would know."
"Know what? What's going on?" Donna demanded, marching up to the man. The other three raised their guns sharply at her movement, but the first man held his hand out as a means of calming them.
"We'll take you to Jones. She'll be able to explain and to figure out just what the hell is going on."
Their journey was silent after that, but it wasn't too long before they reached a large, concrete building.
They were brought inside where more guns were pointed at them.
"Deacon?" one man asked, addressing the first man. "Who are they?"
"More time travelers, Ramse. I'm taking them to see Jones."
Ramse stared at them for a moment before speaking. "Time travelers? They aren't with Jones?"
"That's what I was saying. Huh," Deacon said before pausing. "I guess we are alike."
Ramse's expression hardened, but he said nothing.
They were then taken to a prison cell.
"This is a long way from Risa," Donna sighed as she sat down on the bed.
"Doctor," Donna said after several beats of silence. "How can they have time travel? And only in 2044? I thought Time Lord's were the only ones who could do it."
"Well, maybe not the only ones who could, but certainly the only ones who had succeeded," The Doctor said, examining the cell. "I'm not sure how humans achieved time travel, but something different on this earth must have led to their discovery.
The Doctor and Donna looked up at the accented voice. A woman walked into the room, looking at them intently.
"Deacon says you can time travel, that you arrived in the woods in a machine."
The Doctor hummed in thought. "Yeah, but that doesn't really prove time travel, does it? Just that I have a very special box."
The woman's eyes narrowed.
"I am Dr. Jones. Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor and this is Donna," he said gesturing to her.
"And I'm not very happy about being locked up in a cell for no reason," Donna said, standing up and going to join the Doctor at the cell door.
Jones ignored Donna and focused her attention on the Doctor.
"The Doctor? Doctor who?"
"Just the Doctor," he said with a wide grin.
Jones frowned, but seemed to let it go.
"You're right that we don't have the proof that you're time travelers, but once we get a look at your machine in the woods, we'll be able to tell just what kind of traveling you've been doing."
"You won't be able to get in," he said with a shake of his head.
Jones shrugged. "Maybe so, but give Deacon and his men some time and they'll be able to break in," she said, seemingly oblivious to the Doctor's deep frown.
"But," she continued, "it doesn't have to be that way."
The Doctor sighed. "All right, I might as well tell you everything. I'm a Time Lord, Donna's human and we are time travelers from an alternate universe."
Jones looked taken aback. "You're an alien?"
"Yep," he said, overenunciating the 'p'.
"But you look so human."
The Doctor shrugged. "You look time lord."
Jones closed her eyes and held up a hand. "That doesn't matter. The real question is: will you help us?"
"We might, but you haven't told us anything about what's wrong."
"Deacon mentioned a plague?" Donna asked, her voice softer than it had been previously.
Jones nodded. "In 2016, a plague was released that killed millions. It caused a total collapse of society and left us with a fraction of the population."
"You're not asking us to go back in time and fix it, are you?" The Doctor asked, sounding weary.
Jones nodded. "That's what we're attempting to do here, but if you've got a machine that can carry at least two people, it would help immensely--"
The Doctor shook his head. "I can't help you," he said, his voice firm. "Some things aren't meant to be fixed."
Jones stared at him, her mouth open. "No?" she repeated, sounding confused. "You could help save millions of people and all you can say is that you won't help?"
"Doctor..." Donna began, sounding torn between knowing that he was right and her desire to help.
He shook his head. "I can't."
"How can you be so selfish?" Jones spat, her eyes hard.
The Doctor's eyes turned even harder. "Selfish?" he said, his voice flat. "My entire planet is gone. Don't you think I want to go back in time and save them? It's all I want, but I can't because some things are unfixable."
"How do you know this is one of those times?" Jones asked.
"Do you even understand the possible ramifications of such an act? So many things could change. So many more people could die in some other tragedy."
Jones didn't say anything for several long moments.
"You refuse to help?"
The Doctor nodded.
Jones sighed, looking old and very, very tired.
She gestured for the guards to unlock the cell. "You can go."
"Just like that?" Donna asked as she and the Doctor stepped out of the cell.
The question came from Deacon, who had stepped into the room only seconds before.
"Because, Mr. Deacon, if they stay, he'll cause more harm than good."
"I can make him do it," Deacon said.
"No you can't." Turning to the Doctor and Donna she said, "please go now, before I change my mind."
They both walked out of the room, out of the facility as quickly as they could. Soon enough, they were back in the TARDIS.
"Doctor?" Donna asked, her voice quiet. "About your planet, did you want to talk about it?"
The Doctor shook his head, but said nothing.
Donna nodded and instead of saying anything, just rested her hand on his.