The Doctor wasn't entirely certain what was worse. The TARDIS crashing, where it crashed, or the people they met once they got out.
Of course, the TARDIS crashing wasn't the Doctor's fault. He just…well, occasionally things broke! It's how an older TARDIS worked. And after a bit of minor turbulence that may or may not have sent him and Donna tumbling across the room, he discovered that they'd have to go out into the world they'd landed on to get supplies.
The whole world was practically in Technicolor, with smiling animals and perfectly shaped trees and grass (Grass! Donna had exclaimed, How the bloody hell do they make grass shaped this perfectly? This place is weird!). And, of course, no mercury in sight to help repair the damaged fluid link in the TARDIS.
And the people. Oh, the people. They burst into song. Song! Well, Donna wasn't having any of that nonsense. Animals singing? Music coming from nowhere? That was clearly abnormal and the Doctor was clearly at fault.
Oh, well, he was getting used to this sort of thing.
All the same, the King of this planet or region or state or state of mind or whatever it was apparently had a store of chemicals in his "wizard's" hold. Which probably meant mercury or something the Doctor could use to make a suitable substitute. Of course, one couldn't simply walk up to the King; he had to be introduced at the ball. Which meant dressing up. So, again:
"You have got to be kidding me."
The room was huge, full of guests and dancers each in a dress or suit more elaborate than the next. It made the Doctor in his blue suit and Donna in the pink ball gown she found look…well, a bit underdressed. Not that Donna acted as though she was underdressed. It was as if the corset and heavy skirts were the bane of her existence the way she complained about them. Mind you, the Doctor had never worn skirts like that, but he imagined they couldn't be quite that difficult to handle.
"And the way it digs into my hips---"
"Can't you try to enjoy yourself, Donna? We're at a fancy party! You should have some nibbles; try to mingle with the people."
"Couldn't get a nibble to fit in my stomach in this thing," Donna grumbled. She sighed and turned, looking around the ballroom. The room was ridiculously luxurious, with heavy tapestries and a shiny marble floor that reflected every person who walked atop it. No expense was spared for the food or the entertainment, either. Even the jester, who looked like he'd had a few too many to drink, was clad in the finest.
"You see her, over there?" Donna said, motioning to a woman in a silver ball gown. "She looks just like Cinderella, you know that?"
"You've met Cinderella?"
"From the movie! It was my favorite when I was a little girl."
The Doctor tried to remember all those silly movies that Susan watched as a child. The silver dress, the upswept hair, the baubles on the ears… "You know, she does a bit!"
"Have we landed in a world of Disney or something?"
"Don't be absurd, Donna. Disney World is in America, I'd never take us there."
A ginger woman in an extravagant aqua dress bounded up to them excitedly. Her grin took up a majority of her pretty face.
"Hello, and welcome!" she said. "I'm Ariel. It's so lovely to have you both here."
"I'm Donna," Donna announced. She stuck a thumb in the Doctor's direction. "This is the Doctor."
Ariel nodded. "He's your prince?"
Donna and the Doctor shook their heads. "We're not together." They said in unison.
Ariel's smile wavered a little, but she nodded anyway. "I hope you both find great happiness. I'm looking for my prince. His name is Eric and if you find him can you tell him I'm looking for him?"
"Sure," Donna nodded. "No probs."
Ariel bounded off to talk to a woman in a blue dress. They both looked very concerned about the missing prince.
"You know, a blonde woman in a pink dress came up to me a little bit ago, saying she lost her Phillip or something," Donna said. She nodded to the woman talking with Ariel. "That's her there."
"Her dress is blue, Donna."
"Yeah, but it was pink a minute ago."
"Dresses don't just change color."
"Look! Look! It's pink again!"
"No, it's blue."
"You didn't look fast enough! It was pink!"
"Excuse me." Another woman this time. Arabian, if the Doctor wasn't mistaken, and in a blue two-piece outfit that just verged on scandalous. "I don't mean to interrupt your matrimonial discussions---"
"We are so not married." Donna interjected.
"I'm looking for a man named Aladdin, have you seen him?"
"Nope." The Doctor was beginning to get very nervous by the lack of prince-ness around. Where had they all gone?
"Maybe they all hopped out for a quick fag or something? The girls in there are all nitwits, they probably just needed a break," Donna suggested as they slipped away from the ball to do some investigating. "Is it really any of our business? We're supposed to be finding the stuff for that link thing of yours."
"Fluid link," the Doctor snapped irritably, pulling out his stethoscope and listening behind the nearest door. "These rooms are all off-limits. I wonder why."
"Stuff for the king, I think," Donna said. She picked up her skirts and tried to listen up against the door but still wound up a foot away from it. She swore a few times under her breath; it was very unladylike.
"Someone's talking in here," the Doctor's voice dropped to a whisper.
"What're they doing in there?" Donna asked, trying again to listen as well.
"It's several male voices…they're saying that…" He straightened. "Someone's at the door."
As if on cue, the door before them opened up to reveal six naked men standing around in a room with a very naked, very pleased looking Jack Harkness sitting in a chair in the center of them. Oh, and snogging some dark haired bloke. He broke away and grinned.
"Just a second, Edward, looks like we've got a few guests."
"You know…I really should start expecting to find you hanging around naked by now," the Doctor said, scratching his head.
Donna looked positively scandalized. "Are you all the missing princes? Just…in here! With him!" She turned to the Doctor and pointed her finger. "How do you know him? Is this one of those asexual things I know you're lying about?"
"If he told you he was asexual he was definitely lying," Jack said, leaning back with his hands behind his head.
"You kidnapped all the princes?" the Doctor said. "All of them?"
"Only the interesting ones," Jack replied. "What can I say? I'm the King, I tell them to come and they just do! It's great."
"You're King?" Donna's pointer finger was now directed at the naked Jack before them.
"And you're positively radiant," Jack grinned madly. "I love the corset. You just keep going for better looking every time around, Doc."
Donna preened. The Doctor shuffled his feet.
"Right, so! Being King and all, can you get us some mercury to fix up the TARDIS?"
"Fluid link trouble again?"
"I really do need to start keeping a store of it."
Jack nodded. "Yeah, third door on the right is the stores, take whatever you need."
"All right," the Doctor nodded. "I'll leave you to your…uh…prince-ing. Is that like poaching, are you sure it's legal?"
"Just don't tell their Princesses," Jack said with a wink. "And if the two of you think the rest of the ball is boring…"
The Doctor looked at Donna, who looked back at the room. "I think we should probably get going."
"Yeah. Thanks though, for the offer." Donna gave Jack a little wave as they shut the door and started down the hallway.
"Takes a whole new spin on Happily Ever after, doesn't it?" Donna hissed.
"Tell me about it."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,356