Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble, Nerys
Summary: The Doctor investigates one of the most serious time anomalies he's ever encountered, right here on Earth.
Word Count: 1506 (chapter)
Donna screamed his name as his hand slipped out of hers, torn away by the press of the crowd, against which she was making little headway. They’d started side-by-side, but by the sheer force of his presence, he’d parted the stream of people with his body and pushed ahead of her, providing a clear wake for her to follow. As he got further ahead, however, their firmly clasped hands slid to hooked fingers, and with one last jostle by the people pushing past on either side, her hand was suddenly empty and she’d lost him. The path in front of her closed, forcing her almost to a stop.
Straightening her shoulders, she marched forward, determined to swim against the current and break the flow of people around her, but they paid her no heed and she found she had to physically bull her way through. “Shift! Shift! Get outta my way!” she yelled at each person in front of her, using her anger at losing the Doctor to try to forge herself a path. She tried to ignore the fact that she didn’t even know where they’d been going.
As she struggled for every step, she kept scanning the taller people around her for a head of spiky hair and everything else for signs that might tell her where she should be heading, to no avail. After a minute spent working her way against the crowd and no Doctor appearing to fetch her, she began to despair. She could stand off to the side and wait for the rushing people to disperse, but by that time, she’d be too late. All would be lost. The most important moment in the history of the universe was approaching fast; she had to keep going, or it would be lost forever to time.
A hand shot out and grabbed her arm, pulling her into a tunnel off the main path. “There you are!” breathed the Doctor, a bright grin splitting his face. “I thought I lost you.”
Donna squealed with relief and threw her arms around him, then pulled back and socked him on the arm. “You didn’t come back for me!”
“I knew you’d make it.”
“But you didn’t even tell me where it was.”
The Doctor frowned, trying to remember. “Didn’t I?”
“No, you wally, you didn’t. ‘Follow me’, you said. ‘It’s just up there,’ you said. I didn’t even know what you were talking about. Lucky you saw me, then.”
“Yeah. Well, you’re here now.” He turned and gestured further down the tunnel at the loose mob of concertgoers and journalists milling about in front of two security guards flanking a closed door. “That’s the door backstage.”
Clapping her hands to her mouth, Donna squealed again, this time in anticipation, and she bounced on her tiptoes. “Oh, I can’t believe I’m here! Going backstage at the Return tour!” She grabbed the Doctor’s arm. “You got our passes, right?”
Nodding, the Doctor reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. Frowning, he dug deeper into the pocket and came up empty. “Wrong pocket,” he said with a sheepish smile, then began searching his trouser and coat pockets. “It’s here somewhere,” he murmured.
Donna was too excited to care, and she babbled on, unaware that the Doctor was getting increasingly worried about not finding the passes. “The concert was amazing, wasn’t it? I was supposed to go with Susie Mair and Veena but I couldn’t afford it, what with the wedding and all that going on. Nerys offered to buy me a ticket to go with her and Devon, but then I’d’ve been a third wheel. Never be a third wheel with Nerys, that’s a life rule. Oh, but now we’re back in 2008 for it! It’s bloody mad. That’s what a time machine’s for, isn’t it?”
The Doctor knew he needed to keep Donna talking so she wouldn’t notice him searching every possible pocket on his person. “Oh, yes! What’s the point of having a time machine if you can’t catch the iconic concerts. I should take you to Woodstock. You’d love it.”
“Woodstock? Seriously?” Donna rolled her eyes. “Do they call you a Time Lord cos you live so far in the past?” She took a playful swipe at him, then spun to take in the service tunnel. “But never mind! I can’t believe I’m going to meet the Spice Girls!”
“Of course!” he gushed as he dug for the third time in his right jacket pocket. “Just the thing after a good show, meeting the stars backstage.”
“Oh, I just know they’re going to be brilliant. This is the best day of my life, Doctor!”
The Doctor bit his lip, his eyes glimmering just a tad. One might think that vanquishing villains and saving civilisations were the most exciting and satisfying things to him, but nothing compared to seeing that shining smile on his companion’s face. Just then, his fingers brushed a bit of paper tucked deep in the reaches of his dimensional coat pocket. With a flourish, he pulled out the passes and wiggled them right by his silly, toothy grin. “Here they are!” he crooned, then peeled one off and handed it to her.
Donna stared at the pass in her shaking hands like she was holding the Hope Diamond. “I don’t know how you managed to score this! I mean, you got us into the arena with the psychic paper, but this! This is a real backstage pass!”
“Wouldn’t be the same if the pass wasn’t real. But honestly,” he drawled, “that was the easy part. Shilvellian performers love to meet their fans, and if you throw in a bottle of Almorxith brandy, well, they’ll do just about anything.”
Donna’s jaw dropped. “Tell me you’re kidding! The Spice Girls are aliens?”
“Not all of them,” he drawled.
Donna shivered with excitement. The Doctor had this infuriating teasing smirk that Donna could never penetrate to figure out if he was having her on. “You’re not kidding, are you? Oh, let me guess! Is it -”
“Oo!" the Doctor groaned as he stumbled forward a step. Shaking his head like he was trying to clear it, he blinked hard, his eyes unfocused. Donna grabbed him by the shoulders to steady him and peered up into his face.
"Doctor! Are you all right?"
"Yeah. I'm fine." His eyes were still far away. "That was… that was weird."
"What was?" She tried to get a good look at his eyes to ascertain his stability, but they were flicking about, seeing nothing. Or, perhaps, seeing things that humans couldn’t.
"An anomaly. Like time shifted, just a bit.” He pressed the heel of his hand into his temple. “I've never seen anything like it before. Well, not for centuries, anyway. Disorientating, it is."
"What does it mean?"
"I don't know." Wrenching himself back to the present, the Doctor gazed down the corridor and Donna followed his lead, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. They were still standing in the service tunnel, surrounded by people clutching passes just like theirs and reporters with cameras and press credentials hanging from lanyards around their necks, all waiting for the security guards at the door to signal that they were welcome inside.The only oddity here was the Doctor himself, his face scrunched with confusion as he thumped his temple a few more times.
“I don’t see anything weird,” Donna murmured.
Giving up on rattling his own brain, the Doctor shrugged. "Not all anomalies are dangerous. Most are tiny and innocuous." He flashed her a comforting grin. "I wouldn't worry."
"I would. I'm not having you go spare on me, time boy." She tapped him on the arm with a fist, firm but affectionate.
"I wouldn't dare." He offered her his elbow and she latched onto his arm, hugging close.
The crowd around them shifted toward the door and the Doctor, hopping up on the tips of his toes to peer over their heads, grinned and squeezed Donna’s hand. “They’re still not letting people in, but when they start, it’s gonna take a bit. They’ll be only letting a couple people back at a time, and they’ll check all the credentials.” He felt Donna shiver against him, but when she spoke, she was calm and rational, if a little forced.
“No hurry. We’ve got all the time in the world,” she stated philosophically, though her blue eyes danced.
“Exactly. And if we miss, we can go back around and do it - OHHH!"
The Doctor stumbled as the world turned inside out. The timestream in his head jerked and warped, sending him reeling as if the ground had bubbled beneath his feet. He lurched into Donna, who not so much caught him as provided a sturdy post for him to collapse over.
“Oof,” she grunted. “You weigh a tonne! What’s wrong? What’s happening?”
What’s happening, indeed? a tiny part of his mind wondered. The rest of it tumbled and spun, and welcomed the darkness that descended.