Majenta Pryce does not sleep.
It's part of her species' genetic makeup (or so he figures), so she never feels tired, not beyond her usual self-indulgent laziness. It's actually quite fun, for the most part. There's no need to stop in the middle of a series of adventures for eight hours of companion-rest time and there's no worry about making camp in the middle of an alien forest. She's even gone so far as to pull her bed out of her bedroom on the TARDIS and replace it with a lounger for when she sits up to watch the late-night soaps on ITV (The Intergalactic Television Viewer).
The only time it bothers the Doctor is when he needs to rest. The few hours he needs a week used to seem like nothing, but now that he's the only TARDIS traveler who needs sleep, he finds that time before he falls into trance more worrying than anything. What is Majenta up to while he sleeps? Is she behaving herself? Is she toying with the console? Sometimes, he stays up as long as he thinks he can, before collapsing wherever he was out of exhaustion for a few hours.
It's not that he doesn't trust her---well, no. The term "as far as he could throw her" might apply to the Doctor and Majenta if the Doctor wasn't absolutely certain Majenta would knock him out cold before he managed to even try to throw her anywhere. Majenta's not a willing companion, and she's not even a companion he's certain he wants around most days. And while he's sleeping…she could be up to anything.
And, after she kicked down her bedroom door when he tried to lock her in that first time, he's learned that he has no choice but to trust her while she's on board.
It's early. He blinks and finds he's fallen asleep at the edge of his bed in a somewhat awkward position that's left his neck a little sore. He straightens, rubs the back of his neck, and tries to remember where he was when he went out.
Working on the console? No, no, talking to Majenta. Her instructing him where they'd go next while he insisted that her ordering the TARDIS about would do no good. He then said something along the lines of "I'm tired," to which she replied, "Then get to your bedroom, because I'm just leaving you on the floor if you fall asleep on it again. Lazy Time Lords."
And, apparently he made it to his bedroom and she went off to do whatever it was she did while he slept. This must be what it's like for his human companions, he thinks. They're never certain what the Doctor's up to while they sleep.
He starts towards the console room because, really, wherever she's ended up she'll go back there. The TARDIS is deep, but there's only one way out.
"---no regretting stuff, all right? I chose this---"
The Doctor can hear the recording playing in the console room and the slow walk turns into a run. Of all the bloody things that ridiculous woman could've gotten into…
When he makes it into the console room, there is his green-skinned companion at the console, looking rather startled at what she's triggered by mucking about with controls she doesn't really understand.
On the other side of the console is a triggered projection recording of a woman. Tall, human, her ginger hair fuzzed into the green of the rest of the projection. The Doctor's chest tightens at the sight of her.
"Like I said that Christmas--" The projection continues to speak despite the interruption. "Find someone. Because travelling's not half the fun---"
"I can't leave you alone for an hour---" The Doctor starts towards the console, but Majenta keeps her hand on the control she triggered.
"Three. You're lazy." Her words don't have their usual bite, as her eyes are on the projection recording. She nods in the direction. "You keep a strange video collection, Scrummy. I was hoping for some Naughty Nubile Time Lords, but I found this. Who is she?"
"I was wrong, what I said back then. You don't need someone to stop you---"
The Doctor scratches his sideburns and takes a step back. "Donna," he says. "Her name was Donna."
"Donna." Majenta says the name as though it's strange and alien. To her, it probably is. "She used to travel with you?"
"Yep." He pops the 'p' loudly and sets his jaw. He likes to keep the memory of Donna tucked deep in his mind where he doesn't have to remember. This projection brings it out quickly, sharply, like a reopened wound. "A long time ago."
"That's all I wanted to say. Thanks---"
Majenta looks back at him, raising a delicately arched eyebrow at his reaction. "Bit fat around the sides, though, isn't she? Didn't figure her for your type."
"Oi!" the Doctor reaches over and slams Majenta's hand down, turning off the projection. Donna's smiling face fizzles out with a slight pop, like a quickly shut-off amp. "Number one, Donna was not fat, Madge, your species is just impossibly thin."
"You're one to talk, Scrawn Lord."
"And number two, Donna and I were never---" He gestures between himself and where the projection was.
Majenta nods, a little patronizing smile on her face. "You know, Scrummy, I'm not stupid. I see the way she's lookin' in that video at you, and you look at it the same way."
The Doctor sighs and steps back, crossing his arms. Gone for years, and still people mistake them as a couple. "Donna was my best friend."
Her expression softens, as much as the harsh lines of her face allow a softer look. "Was. So she---" She looks as though she's searching for a gentler word, then gives up. "Died?"
"No." He looks back at the spot where the projection was. "She forgot me."
"Forgot you?" Majenta takes a little step away from the console and tilts her head in consideration. "Like I did?"
The Doctor thinks that this conversation feels awkward. It's the first time he's discussed his other companions with Majenta, it's the first time she's ever shown interest in him as more than her taxi-driver. Maybe they're taking steps towards becoming friends. The thought of them as friends is actually somewhat disturbing.
He shakes his head. "No, not the same thing. Your memories were restorable, Donna's can never be."
"They just can't."
"Remember when I said I wasn't stupid? Things aren't a 'just can't', there's always a reason. What's this one?" She mimics his stance, crossing her arms and raising one eyebrow. Is that what he looks like when he does that? It's almost comical.
He drops his arms and sighs. "She had to forget me, Majenta. Or else she'd die."
Majenta takes another step back, this time from him. "Memories of you kill people?"
"No, the memory of what happened to her would kill her. So I wiped all of her memories of what happened. Of the TARDIS, of me. It was the only way to save her." He nods. "And she's alive and well. Working as a secretary. Living life day after day. Happy. Just no memories of me or the TARDIS or the years in between."
"So…you killed your best friend?" Majenta gapes. "To save her?"
"I had to."
"And then you found this?" she gestured to where the projection stood.
"That's horrible." The words are harsh, but Majenta says them with a surprising amount of sympathy.
"It was nice," he admits. "Seeing her again. The way she was."
Majenta nods, and then steps forward and presses the projection again. Donna reappears on the other end of the console room, leaning over the console. She looks the way she did when he first re-met her. Hair down, business suit, big smile. Ready to see the universe. She looks a little flustered and a little irritated, but she grins brightly as something works. She takes two steps back.
"Bet you didn't expect to see me again!" the recording says. "Right, I think it's recording this time---third time lucky! Thought I'd leave you a message, just in case I didn't get to say good-bye properly. Y'know, through being eaten by a swamp monster or something!"
The Doctor's tried on numerous occasions to figure out when she recorded this. He thinks it must've been not long after Messaline, swamps on the mind and all that. But her hair is still curly, and she went back to straightening it after Messaline. Something about fall fashion, the Doctor's never understood that. It's one of those mysteries the Doctor's learned to accept. He'll never know when this was made. Only that it was.
And now, it's all of Donna he has left, except his memories.
"I just want to say that whatever's happened, Doctor, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I've had the time of my life. So no regretting stuff. I chose this. I chose you."
He feels Majenta's scaled hand slip into his. He's surprised to find her at his side, watching his reaction to the recording with something like pity or understanding.
"Like I said that Christmas…find someone. Because travelling's not half as much fun on your own. You need someone to show off to!"
The Doctor smiles.
"I was wrong, what I said back then. You don't need someone to stop you. You need someone to keep you going."
The projection of Donna smiles broadly, then looks a little embarrassed. "That's all I wanted to say. Thanks, basically. And good---"
The projection cuts off short. Majenta jumps a little at the sudden static, but the Doctor's watched it cut off too many times to count.
It's a strange sort of moment. The Doctor and Majenta, standing there, holding hands, watching his old companion say good-bye when she never really had a chance to. It's a moment where something is shared and something is maybe even passed on. Donna's gone, Majenta's here.
He looks over to her, and she looks back at him with her strange black-and-yellow eyes. Two aliens on the run together. He wonders what Donna would've thought of it. Of this, of this life he's living.
After a moment, Majenta extracts her hand from his awkwardly. The moment ends and another begins.
"Right, Scrummy, you need a shower."
He lifts his sleeve and sniffs it. "I only slept an hour."
"Three! I can't tell you how bored I was! And now you stink. So go off, take a shower, and get back out here so you can take me somewhere good."
The Doctor raises an eyebrow. "Somewhere good?"
Majenta grins. "You've got a universe to show off, haven't you?"
He grins back. "Yeah, yeah, I do."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,734 not including dialogue from Comic #399 "Time of My Life"