Thanks again to Charlotte Dhark and Methos for beta reading!
Please let me know what you think, reviews make me write faster and I do so want to complete this story!
The console room was disturbingly quiet, but it matched the rest of the ship – at least, it matched the parts that had been reasonably convenient to search; one could hardly be expected to comb the entire ship.
Donna was leaning against the back of the jump seat; her brow creased in a deep frown and her eyes locked on the hallway that was utterly failing to produce her companions. "Three out of four captured by pirates," she said to no one. "That's a bloody new one. Sontarans, Pyroviles, all sorts of creepy aliens with glowy talking balls and tentacle faces, sure, why not, but really, pirates? In the Caribbean
? It's like a bloody awful Disney film."
"Isn't the Caribbean fitting enough for you? Where else would you like a pirate attack?"
She spun around, instinctively reaching for the Doctor's rubber mallet for defense. "Oi, what are you doing in here?"
Groves shook his head, eyes locked on the time rotor. "You stepped into a blue box that could barely hold a single person standing up, and then didn't come back out. I wasn't expecting it to be...well."
"Bigger on the inside?" She smirked. "Takes a bit o' getting used to. You're taking it well though, gotta say."
He smiled a little. "I've met met whose hearts beat from wooden chests, buried on islands while their bodies sailed the sea. I've seen pirates who can't die no matter what's done to them, and a beast that could bring down an entire ship in seconds. I have considerably less difficulty imagining a box that is bigger inside than out."
She laughed a little. "Guess so. All it takes is one weird thing to make all other weird things seem...less weird," she shrugged and sighed. "No Summer though, guess that means she's caught."
"Can you lock the door from the inside?" He suggested hopefully. "This would be a perfect place -"
"If you start on again about me hiding, I'm going to hit you with this mallet," Donna hefted it warningly. "If they're captured, that makes it my job to rescue them. 'S how this works. If it was Rose or Summer that was left out, it'd be their job."
"I wasn't going to say any such thing," he defended, folding his arms and leaning against the rail. "I was going to tell you it would be a good place to gather ourselves, regroup and find a plan without fear of being overheard or discovered."
"Oh," she tilted her head. "Yeah, I can lock the door. You can't really hear anything from outside once the doors are shut." She wiggled a finger over the console. "I do happen to know which button does that!" She pressed one manicured finger down on a smallish purple button that looked like it might have been a soda bottle cap in a past life. The door slammed shut and locked, and Donna grinned smugly. She ceased to grin smugly a moment later, as a familiar whirring filled the console room and the awkward pair fell to the grating.
"Impressive locking!" It didn't exactly sound
sarcastic in tone, but Donna glared at him anyway.
"That wasn't locking, we moved! Which is bad, because I don't know how to unmove us!" She ran to the doors and flung them open – immediately flinging them shut again. "Um. Can you swim?" She smiled sweetly.
His eyes widened a bit. "Did we put a hole in the ship?" He sounded worried, but Donna shook her head.
"It doesn't really work like that, it just sorta...disappears and then appears somewhere else. I don't know why it moved fifty meters to the left, and I don't know why it decided that button didn't lock the doors anymore, but it did," she opened the door again, and he could see for himself...they were bobbing in the ocean, half-way submerged and quickly falling behind the sea-faring vessel that had been carrying them before. "And now we're in the ocean."
He was a bit shaken, but it was understandable - given that the bottom half of the doorway was underwater and yet none was entering the ship. "How is it staying out there?"
"I dunno," Donna narrowed her eyes at him. "Oi, now don't go sticking your hand out or something; never know what might make the water come in."
"I wasn't going to," he knelt, peering through the clear blue water. "Amazing. And you can't control it to put us back?" He confirmed.
"I didn't even control it to put us here
, it's not supposed to move like that!" Donna snapped; she let out a rather loud noise of frustration, and seemed to feel better for it. "Alright, come on."
She stretched a hand toward him and he looked at it in confusion before taking it in his. She felt a little thrill at the contact, and if the slight smile that darted across his face was anything to judge by then she wasn't alone. "To where? You weren't serious about swimming."
"No," she shook her head and pulled him toward the interior hall. "We're going to the library. There's gotta be a user manual in here somewhere."
"There is a library
in this box? Just...exactly how big is it?"
"Impossible to tell," she sounded a bit brighter – knowing more than other people is cheerful business after all. "It moves the rooms around a bit. I've been with the Doctor 'bout six months now, an' all I know is I haven't seen even close to all there is in this ship."
He didn't say anything further, but his grip on her hand tightened, and his face settled into determined lines. His pace quickened to match hers, and soon they were running through the corridors.
The library doors banged open and they raced in. "Alright," Donna announced decisively, eyes roving the cavern of leather-bound tomes. "There's literally no way to figure out where it is, or even if it exists."
"Then...how will we find it?" He managed not to gape at the room too obviously, which she found a bit sweet. He focused instead on her, which she found better than sweet.
"We look, obviously!" Donna shrugged. "The Doctor knows everything about this bloody ship, so it's probably in a corner he never ever goes into. We just pick a row and pick up any book that sounds like it might have instructions. Ship's called a TARDIS by the way, and the Doctor's people were called Time Lords so any titles that say somethin' about that are worth grabbing."
"Time Lords?" He frowned a bit. "What-"
"Oh," Donna nodded. "Sorry. He's an alien, the Doctor I mean, and this is his space ship. Travels through time too, he picked up me an' Rose from the future. I haven't figured out exactly if Time Lord is a job or a species but he's too damn stubborn to talk about it ever
so unless Summer opens up odds are we'll never know."
"Ah," he nodded slowly. "An alien?"
"Yeah," she tilted her head at him. "You alright? It's mad, I know; you don't have to stay calm just now, you can lose it if you want."
He shook his head. "I do think you're all a bit mad," he admitted, and his eyes sought hers. "But that's always been a quality I admired in a person."
Donna grinned. "You admire me?"
He seemed rather stunned by the question. "Well," he began. "Ah, Miss Noble, I -"
She grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him down, pressing her lips to his. She justified it in her mind because they absolutely could not continue to work with this sort of tension between them, and then she gave up on justifying it in favor of simply kissing him. Her fingers wound through his hair, thick and coarse but lovely to feel. "I think you'd better call me Donna," she informed him as she tried to catch her breath.
For a long moment he didn't respond and she started to shift away; she was beginning to feel entirely too awkward, but he didn't remove his hands...which she suddenly noticed were pressed firmly at her waist. She could feel the lovely warmth of them even through her many layers; she felt a blush creeping across her face, and wished, not for the first time in her life, that she was a less bold and brash sort of person. She always got herself into these awkward sort of situations; rushed headlong into things, that's what she did.
"I've never met anyone like you before," he said quietly. "Donna."
Her mental tangent halted instantly, and a smile crept across her face. "That's a good thing, right?"
One of his hands left her waist and moved slowly to her face; his callused thumb caressed her cheek gently, sending shivers up her spine. He dipped his head and brushed a kiss across her lips; it was brief and all too chaste, but it made her heart race. "Yes," he said quietly, and she took several long moments to remember her question.
"Oh, good. We, um," she licked her lips nervously. "We should start lookin' for that manual." She stepped back, tittering a bit to herself, then laced her fingers through his and began dragging him through the stacks. "Gotta get a move on, if the Doctor finds out I did something to his TARDIS we might find ourselves swimming to Florida after all."
!" The Doctor donned his glasses and peered at the shard of crystal in Jack Sparrow's hand. "Oh, that's just brilliant, really. Well, terrible, awful even, big disaster but look at how clever! No wonder so many of the fish have gone, losing the tropical climate's turned them away." He plucked it from the pirate's grasp and held it close to his face, grinning madly.
"What it is, Doctor?" Rose leaned against him, trying to get a close look at the fragment. "I mean, it's a rock, yeah?"
"Oh no, so much more than that. This is technology Rose!" He rocked a bit on the edge of his trainers. "Terraforming! Er, well, Rutaforming! Who knows, in this universe they might be having problems with their world...always seemed a bit chilly for my taste. But that's what they need
, they need it cold
! So what do they do on your boiling ol' planet? They start leaving these little boys behind to get the water cold enough for them!" He was almost bouncing with excitement. "It's just like dropping ice cubes in your coffee when it's too hot, but on a grand
"Alright, you've explained it – now explain your explanation," Rose poked him in the shoulder. "Who is it? Why are they trying to whatever-form the Earth?"
"Rutaform, Rose! The Rutan! Not such bad folk honestly, had a run-in or two go south over the years, but they're usually too busy fighting their own war to worry about humanity and the Earth. An invasion like this isn't like them, at least not our them. Usually they would sneak in, copy a few bodies and scout out the enemies to see if the planet was even worth it...and they hardly ever bother adapting the climate." He frowned suddenly, holding it up to the light and squinting at it. "Where did you say you found it, Captain?"
Sparrow simply looked at him as if he were a bit mad, and it was Mr. Gibbs who answered. "We were on an island, just south of Tegesta, havin' a bit of a...disagreement
with the natives. Seems they believed that Jack was responsible for their poor luck with the fishing nets of late."
"Of course they did," Elizabeth muttered. "Someone's always blaming Jack and getting us in trouble because of it."
"Miss Elizabeth, please," Mr. Gibbs looked rather pleading; she sighed but nodded. "So there we were on the island - with the natives believing that Jack's been sent to bedevil them - and they decide that the only way to appease the heathen gods is to burn the both of us at stake with that piece o' shine that had washed up on shore."
"How'd you get out of that
?" Summer quirked an eyebrow. "I mean, burning at the stake is usually pretty permanent."
"You would be surprised," Jack made a face. "It doesn't seem to take very well. The third or fourth time, that was." A wide grin warmed his expression, and Summer had to firmly remind herself that this was a dirty pirate, and 'belly rumblings' were not allowed. "The last time it happened they thought I was a god turned a bit fleshy. Interesting sort of people really; didn't appreciate their cuisine – long pork not to me taste, especially with a deficit of rum - and though I can't find it in meself argue with them regarding my blessed divinity, their methods of freeing said self left something to be desired."
"I've had people try to eat me a few times," the Doctor paused thoughtfully then shook his head slightly. "Oh! But yes, you stole the crystal and got away?"
Jack tapped the side of his nose and smiled. "Exactly."
"Though not before we'd heard of their plans," Mr. Gibbs continued. Sparrow jerked and glared at him, and the older man winced. "Well, I say 'heard' but we didn't really..."
"Mr. Gibbs," Elizabeth looked sadly at him. "Please, I just want to get this business sorted."
"Nothing of interest exactly," Jack waved a hand lightly. "Just a sort of vague rumblings about nothing in particular. Rumors and conjecture, myths and mystical musings really."
"It's amazing how often those come in handy," the Doctor grinned. "Out with it!"
"Jack," the lady captain placed a hand on his arm. "Please?"
He looked at the hand and eased himself away. "Now, now, Lizzie, none of that. Wouldn't want to soil your matronly virtue." One of the unturned sailors snorted; one of the pirates from her ship threw him overboard. "There may have been the slightest suggestion that these...creatures..."
"Rutan," the Doctor added helpfully.
"Rutan," Sparrow accepted. "Might be looking out for a way of mastering the very deep control of the seas which is currently possessed by one goddess Calypso and the man upon whom she has cursed and blessed immortality."
"They want Will?" Her eyebrows drew together and her eyes narrowed fiercely. "So you thought to give them the chest is that it? Protect yourself by giving up Will?" She was tense and seemed entirely likely to reach for her weapon. "Jack Sparrow, of course, always out for himself. Never mind what we've done for you – still protecting your own hide!"
"No, Miss Elizabeth!" Gibbs grabbed her hand away from the hilt of her sword. "They wouldn't have gone near the Flying Dutchman themselves, too dangerous so -"
"Mr. Gibbs!" Sparrow glared. "Quite enough of fairy tales for a day. Back to your station, we must be off." He strode toward the captain's cabin without a backward glance – never minding that Elizabeth was following him and continuing the argument without much response from him.
The Doctor inserted himself where the captain had stood moments earlier. "Stories don't like being left unfinished," he said, rather a bit more seriously than Summer would have expected. "If you could be so kind, Mr. Gibbs?"
"Well, sir," the portly man seemed a bit flustered. "Cap'n don't want it known common, understand?" The small party nodded, and after a moment he lowered his voice. "Seems they knew, not where the chest were buried, but who it was as had buried it."
"Captain Sparrow?" Rose glanced over her shoulder to the door where he and the lady pirate had disappeared.
"No, Miss," he sighed rather heavily. "It were Miss Elizabeth was in danger. They knew she'd hidden the chest, and they wanted it." He glanced at the sea before them. "There aren't many as can understand the mind of Jack Sparrow, er, Captain that is, and I don't claim to be one of them. But I know that herself and her husband fall on the short list of people Jack might trouble to help without promise of shiny reward."
"So...why isn't she allowed to know this?" Summer frowned at the cabin as a rather loud shout was heard.
"Jack and Miss Elizabeth have a...contentious sort of relationship, particularly as she killed him once. Saved him later, but one does tend to hold a grudge for murder," he looked up to the skies. "I'd best be to my station, storm looks to be blowin' in. Cap'n'll be back soon, mind keep this to yourselves."
Summer nodded seriously, then winked to the others as Gibbs moved away. "I'm gonna go do some recon over there," she tilted her head toward the Captain's quarters. "See if I hear anything useful."
"Or worthy of gossiping over?" Rose pursed her lips, failing just a little to repress her smile.
"That too," the dark-haired girl slunk toward the windows on the other side, leaning by and eventually sitting against the wall just beside them.
"She's going to annoy the pirates into regenerating her, I'm sure of it," the Doctor shook his head sadly. "Maybe the next Summer will be less exhausting."
"Maybe that's her fighting style! I mean, she could go for the old confuse him into submission method," Rose grinned, her tongue peeking out from between her teeth. "But I don't think you'd like the competition."
"Oi!" He shook his head, but grinned back at her. "As if she could compete with me!"
"And there's always the old 'wave the sonic screwdriver and pretend it's a weapon' strategy," she added, tilting her head thoughtfully. "Or better yet, insulting the enemy into a rage, then letting them run off a cliff or somethin' like in an old cartoon."
"Are you suggesting I'm predictable
, Rose Tyler?" He looked a bit offended, and her smile widened in response.
might not be the exact word I'd use but..." she nudged her shoulder against his. "Your techniques do seem to get a bit...oh, repetitious?"
"Big words! Just for that, I'm going to be extra
clever this time," he informed her seriously, his eyes sparkling. "Truly, spectacularly, even momentously clever!"
"Oh yeah? What'll you do then?" She raised her eyebrows, smirking expectantly. "Got a plan in that superior brain o' yours or are you just bluffin' like normal?"
"You should realize by now that is it a very complicated combination of the two," he grinned again and reached for her hand, linking their fingers lightly. "Shouldn't be too hard really; get back in the TARDIS then track the signal it's sending out – it has to be reporting its progress to the mother-ship – and make them leave. Easy peasy lemon squeezy – ooh never saying that again."
"Good decision. And what if they don't want to leave?" She swung their linked arms a bit, tilting her head back to look up at him. "No challenging them to duels, yeah? I can't hold your hand if it gets chopped off."
"Nah, wouldn't do that without the regenerative energy – I've never been maimed long-term and I don't think it would be a good look for me," he wiggled the fingers of his free hand. "And I don't think holding a stump would be fun for anyone either."
Rose wrinkled her nose. "No, hard to grip when we're running for our lives," she replied. "But I am gonna call dibs on the one that's left, just in case."
"Dibs? You sound like you're claiming the front seat of a car," he complained. "Besides, we were talking about my plans – and, no, no duels; maybe I'll just point the way to a nice uninhabited ice planet. You know there are quite a few planets which have the basic surface consistency of a slush puppy? Very Rutan-friendly."
"You know, even though talking to the psychotic aliens never actually works, you always try it," her tongue peeked out behind her grin. "They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
"Oh, I get different results," he grinned back. "Sometimes they try to hang me, sometimes they try to disintegrate me, on one memorable occasion I was almost drawn and quartered. Hardly predictable!"
Rose just shook her head, forcing her expression into a look of sympathetic pity. "Of course it isn't, Doctor." She patted his shoulder with her free hand.
He frowned at her, not quite pouting. "You know, you used to admire me. I had respect, you didn't mock...what happened to that?"
"You spoke," Rose quipped.
"Oi!" He shook his forefinger at her. "All right, I think I'm going to go find the companion that still respects me -"
"What, d'you get a new one?" Rose looked up innocently. "You know, you really should let us know if we have to deal with new people..."
we will track the Rutan," he continued, ignoring her. "Down to the TARDIS, then on to defending the Earth from alien invasion and all that fun stuff." She nodded, and the two of them moved quickly down the stairs toward the hold.
Two minutes later his trainers pounded against the wood as raced for the surface, sonic screwdriver in hand and blue buzzing light emerging before him.
"What?" Summer reached them quickly, but the Doctor's panicked eyes were locked onto the screwdriver as he swung it around the deck. She looked between the two but Rose shook her head silently. "Doctor, what's wrong?
"She's gone," he murmured softly. He moved to the railed, staring into the water while the screwdriver hummed uselessly in his hands. "My TARDIS is gone."