A Hole in the Ocean
A Hole in the Ocean
AN: Thanks to Charlotte Dhark for beta-ing!
Donna was pleased. Oh, she hadn't been quite so happy when they first arrived, she was the first to admit that – but upon realizing that sailing on an eighteenth century ship meant being surrounded by eighteenth century sailors, she had become quite a bit more amenable to the idea.
Eighteenth century sailors, she had come to note, tended to do quite a number of athletic feats around a ship, and frequently without shirts on. They weren't the cleanest, but she had adjusted quickly, the smells hardly even registered anymore - at least, not in the face of well muscled young men in various states of half-dress.
She leaned over the front of the ship, watching the waves lapping against her hull as they glided through the sea. They were, according to the Doctor, heading toward the New World – Miami, Florida specifically. Donna wouldn't have minded seeing Miami, though she thought it might be a bit nicer to visit at some point after they had invented the fruity cocktail drink. Regardless, the journey had thus far been pleasant. They had already learned that they could easily sneak into the TARDIS when they wanted to use appropriately comfortable hygiene facilities, with or without the Doctor frowning at them – though they noticed that he also remained comfortably clean, despite their accommodations.
Donna grinned a bit to herself and leaned back against the rail, observing her traveling companions from the corner of her eye. Summer had thus far remained largely below deck, claiming seasickness and hiding in the library of the TARDIS with large tomes – though Donna had a sneaking suspicion that her illness had more to do with a desire to research her newly rediscovered culture than it did any nausea she may or may not have possessed. At any rate she was researching something - the books she had seen when she popped in there didn't look like romance novels, to say the least.
The Doctor himself however, was eagerly discussing the calculations required to captain a ship of this size with the man who, Donna was sure, was now regretting allowing them to join the journey. Rose was leaning over the other side of the ship, occasionally jumping excitedly – which Donna had figured out very quickly meant that there were dolphins in the water, and more often than not she would also run to the edge to see them.
She snickered a bit as Rose leaned over to look at something and the Doctor tensed, despite being on the other side of the ship and seemingly paying no attention to her. She wondered idly if it was a Rose specific talent, or if he had the same reaction when she did things that might be dangerous. She wasn't jealous – well, not very anyway. Not when she remembered how shattered he had been when she first met him...how the only emotion he'd shown in that horrible adventure had been rage. She was glad to see him smiling over silly things like old-fashioned equations, and she found that she rather liked Rose as well. It at least made her feel better about her standing with the Doctor – after meeting Martha she'd had a bit of an inferiority complex about it all, thinking that maybe he'd gone slumming when he picked her up. It was nice to know that his Rose had started out a bit low as well.
A loud thud distracted her from her thoughts, and she jumped when she realized there was someone standing near her at the front of the ship. There was a man tying something or other – she didn't pretend to understand the workings of the various ropes around the deck – and studiously not looking at her.
"Sorry, Miss," he said quietly. "Didn't mean to disturb you."
Donna shook her head and smiled. "Normally I'd be mad because you snuck up on me, but I'll forgive it this once."
"I didn't mean to do that either," he glanced up through long, though quite well-kept, hair. "I'll be out of your way soon."
"No, no, I'm the one in the way right? Can I help?" She looked at the ropes in his hands dubiously. "Probably not eh?"
"Wouldn't be proper, Miss," he continued to look at her curiously, his eyebrows drawn together slightly.
She stiffened a bit, narrowing her eyes. "What? Have I got something on my face?"
"No, Miss," he brushed the shaggy locks out of his eyes. "Just observing, your party is a bit odd for these parts. Not many come out of Tortuga who are keen on respectability, or cleanliness."
Donna looked down at the worn but spotless cotton dress that had been dug out of the wardrobe and felt color rising to her cheeks. "I hadn't noticed," she lied. "We're not so different, where I'm from."
"Where's that?" He was still watching her, a slight crease in his forehead where his brows had drawn together. "If you don't my asking."
"No, it's fine, I like conversation. I'm from London," she added after a moment. "So is Rose," she nodded at the honey-haired girl who had summoned their resident Time Lord to look at something that was in the water. "The Doctor's just sort of...a traveler. From all over. And Summer, the girl in her cabin that is, she's from America."
"Taking her home then?"
Donna started and smiled, imagining the girl's reaction if they dropped her in Sunnydale, California – circa 1700 and something. "Not exactly, not now anyway. The Doctor doesn't really believe in destinations, it's just the journey that's interesting."
"Is he kin?" He leaned against the rail, glancing toward her friends who were now equally enthusiastically pointing at the waves.
"Eh? To me? Oh lord no. Just sort of a friend. Nothing funny," she said quickly, crossing her arms over her chest. "He just likes having someone to talk to, so he brings people like us with him."
"He's lucky that you go," the man was looking at her again, but his expression was less wary. "Most women wouldn't travel so bravely."
"Oh, it always turns out in the end," Donna tried to smile dismissively, but failed. "But...well. We can't not, you know? When you're offered the chance to see the world, in the company of someone brilliant – which he is, though don't tell him I said it – you just have to go." She straightened suddenly. "Sorry, so rude, I've been talking all this time without saying my name. I'm Donna Noble."
"Tobias Groves," he replied with a nod of his head. "Can't say I blame you, for the traveling."
She nodded thoughtfully then gave him a quick side glance. "How did you come to be here, Mr. Groves? You sound like you're from London yourself. A bit posh for this, eh?"
"I came here with the military," he replied, no longer meeting her eyes. "I stayed because there's nothing to return to."
"Oh," her reply is soft, hardly even a word. "I'm sorry," she says after a moment. "I shouldn't have pressed."
"Things here aren't like London," he said suddenly, his eyes on her again. "You should be very careful, Miss Noble. It isn't safe on these waters. Things are stirring; there was talk back in town."
Donna felt an odd sort of itching on the back of her neck, and the hairs there rose of their own volition. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," he said softly. "If your Doctor thinks traveling through some of the most dangerous seas in the world with three beautiful women is a good idea, then he's a fool."
She felt heat rising to her face and wasn't entirely sure why. "Listen, if you think you're going to frighten me with threats -"
"Warnings, Miss," he interrupted her. "There's not much to be done now, but if I were you, I'd stay below deck as much as possible. The other ladies too. Pirates are after much more than gold in these parts, and they have good eyes."
She blanched. "Never quite thought of that," she murmured. "I don't suppose that's a problem the Doctor is used to. He usually just stands around being intimidating if people look at one of his friends the wrong way. They don't tend to mess with us after that."
A slight smile flits across his face as he glances at the Doctor and raises a brow. "I can see that," he says after a moment, as the Doctor and Rose jump up and down a few times and then lean over the side. "A mad beast, obviously."
"Oi, you don't know him," her hands planted firmly on her hips. "Who're you to talk anyway? He'd know if that were a problem, he'd tell us. Your captain hasn't said anything neither. Why should I believe you?"
"Miss, please don't take offense, but your Doctor has no idea what is on this sea. And the Captain prefers to ignore it, because he hasn't seen it." He frowned a little. "It will be dangerous."
"We can handle ourselves," Donna wanted to be angry but wasn't quite managing it. "The three of us, and the Doctor too. I'm not afraid of pirates."
He smiled again, and she thought there might be a note of admiration in his expression. "Of course. Miss Noble," he nodded sharply to her, an oddly anachronistic movement in their surroundings - a throwback to his military training perhaps
"Mr. Groves," she nodded back, and then frowned at the vaguely uncomfortable manner of address. It seemed wrong, but she wasn't sure how to correct it. Before she could think of something else to say, he had crossed purposefully to another sailor, looking around brusquely as if whatever they were discussing was of the utmost importance to the ship's survival.
She supposed it might have been, given how little she knew about the sea-faring life.