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I’m here Doctor.

Still.

You thought you’d left me behind, didn’t you? Thought you’d buried me at Arcadia? Cast me into the heart of the Nightmare Child? Left me behind like one of your Companions?

You didn’t.

I’m still here, Time Lord.

And I’ve been waiting for you.

Wake up!
 

octor? Doctor?’

Donna Noble stood before him in the Tardis main control room, wrapped in a fuzzy, emerald-green dressing gown, her red hair twirled up in a matching towel. Wet footprints led back down the steps and into one of the Time Ship’s long corridors. She had… painted her toenails pink and green.

‘Oi! What are you lookin’ at, Mister?’ she snapped at him.

‘What? Nothing…’ he protested, unsure why she was angry. What had he done now? Had he actually nodded off whilst piloting the ship? And where had that voice…

gone? Nowhere. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll never leave you. Not like them.

…gone? Oh, this was not good. He swallowed deeply.

Not good? Not good? Are you telling me you haven’t missed me? Haven’t missed every wild idea I’ve ever put into your head? You mean you’d rather have… Donna?

The Doctor raised his gaze slowly to look into the face of his friend, Donna. Wisps of red hair spun out of the towel and clung to her glistening forehead. In all the long years he had travelled with companions across Time and Space, no one had ever made themselves quite as much at home in his ship as Donna Noble. He had to tell her…

but you won’t. You won’t tell her. You wouldn’t dare tell her.

‘Well?’ Donna prompted, arms crossed, right hip jutting to one side. The foot tap would be next. ‘I’m waiting, Spaceman.’

‘I was just, um, admiring your, um, nail art.’ He considered how impressed the Fustani would be, having as many toes as they did. He looked closer. ‘Are those watermelons?’

‘What of it?’ Donna asked sharply. ‘And you could have fooled me.’

That wouldn’t be difficult. Doctor, you really are losing your touch. Are those watermelons? Watermelons? You’re looking at Donna Noble’s TOES!

‘Doctor, stop it!’

‘What? Donna,’ he drawled, offering her an apologetic smile. He ran a hand through his hair, tugging at one ear self-consciously. ‘I’m not… I mean I wasn’t… I mean I wouldn‘t. Donna. You know I wouldn‘t. Why would I?’

Why indeed! You blathering idiot. You always have talked too much. Too fast. She knows you don’t fancy her anyway. Why would you? Fancy Donna Noble? She’s here because she makes you laugh, doesn’t she? Because, she’s safe? Isn’t she? But she isn’t. Not with you. None of them will ever be safe with you.

‘Yeah, well, don‘t you forget it,’ Donna told him.

‘Donna, no, I didn’t mean it that way,’ the Doctor told her, squeezing his eyes closed, concentrating.

Oh, yes. Close your eyes. That always works. After so many years are you really such a fool? What next? Hop on one foot, hope I spill out into your shoe so you can toss me away? Think again.

‘You know what I think,’ Donna said, strolling around the Tardis central control console, flipping switches as she rubbed her hair dry. ‘I think you need a holiday.’

Oh, yes! A holiday. Let’s go on holiday, shall we Doctor? Where shall you take me? Let’s take a trip through Time, just you and…

‘Everyone needs to get away from...’

me.

The Doctor readjusted controls as he followed her. ‘It’s just. You know. I don’t think that‘s such a good idea right...’

Now! Nownownownownow!

‘Oh come on, Skinny Boy, live a little. Life isn’t all about running around and alien invasions and things exploding and… running around. Well, maybe it is with you. I was just telling my granddad…’

She talks too much. She always talks too much. More than you, even, and that’s a trick. You have more important things to do than listen to Donna Noble. Blah blah blah. You have places to go. Worlds to visit. History to make. You have places to take me. And I have places to take you. Dark places, Doctor. Dark, cold places

‘…and I don’t mean another place like Midnight. You...’ she gave him an appraising stare. ‘Is that still bothering you?’

Yes.

‘No.’

Liar.

 

artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
 
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