“Doctor… I’m sorry,” Donna called out as she clung to the TARDIS console and wished it would stop pitching and rolling like a ship in a hurricane. Not that she had ever been in a ship in a hurricane, but she had seen A Perfect Storm a few dozen times and it felt pretty much like how she thought it would feel.

The Doctor had slid to the floor three times but he was on his feet now, using a mini fire extinguisher on the mini blaze on the communications panel before darting around to the all important drive control as the TARDIS went into freefall.

“I’m really sorry,” Donna said again. “I didn’t mean to spill coffee over the console. Doctor… please… please say you forgive me. Doctor… please say something. Anything.”

“You’re forgiven,” The Doctor answered in a surprisingly calm voice. “Just… keep holding on for now. And if I need you to do anything, do it quickly. We’re badly off course. I can’t rectify it while we’re in motion. I need to do an emergency landing and then sort it out.”

“Do that, then.”

“We could land anywhere, any time. It could be a real frying pan into the fire situation.”

“Just do it. I want to put my feet down on solid ground. I don’t care where it is.”

The Doctor hit the emergency materialisation switch. The TARDIS began to land.

“Well, that’s not so bad. Earth, 1833. Somewhere in…. the Micronesian Islands. Or what will be called the Micronesian Islands when they’ve been plotted on a map.”

“Why are the islands moving?” Donna asked as the TARDIS continued to pitch and roll.

“They’re not. We’re AMONG the islands. Not on one of them. We must be on a ship. Come on. I need to get a co-ordinate outside. The TARDIS navigation is out of whack. The only way to get back on track is to take a manual measurement out there in the real world.”

“Can’t I just stay inside where it’s warm?”

“I need you to hold things for me,” he answered as he pulled up a floor panel and rummaged for a while before picking up what looked like a portable gas meter with straps for carrying it on his back. The Doctor slipped it on over his jacket. Then he took it off and put his long coat on first and put it back on. He passed Donna her long winter coat from the coatstand.

They stepped outside and Donna thought of A Perfect Storm again. Then she remembered that she always turned off the DVD before the end because George Clooney and all the other cute people she watched it for drowned and it ended with their memorial service. If she drowned in 1833, she wouldn’t even get a memorial service.

“Doctor!” she shouted above the howling wind and driving rain. “We should get back to the TARDIS.”

“Two minutes,” he answered, fiddling with the machine on his back. “I just need to make this reading.”

“We don’t have two minutes, Doctor,” she told him. “Doctor, look at this ship.”

She pointed to the rigging. She didn’t know what they were called, technically, but it was one of those sailing boats with three big masts. Two of them were broken in two and the sails on the third were rags, ripped by the wind.

There didn’t seem to be anyone around.

“Doctor, this ship has already been abandoned. It’s sinking.”

The Doctor looked around and came to the same conclusion.

“You’re right. We should get back to the TARDIS.” He reached out for her hand and turned towards the stern. The TARDIS was only a few yards away. They needed to take a half a dozen steps to safety.

They had taken two when the ship listed so badly that it felt as if the world had turned upside down. The Doctor yelled in horror as the TARDIS slid sideways, smashing through the wooden railings and plunging into the raging waves. Donna’s scream was a counterpoint to his own.

“Doctor!” she yelled as he made as if to jump into the water after the TARDIS. “Doctor…”

A moment later they both landed in the water anyway. Donna was too shocked to scream. She was aware of The Doctor still clinging to her hand as she struggled against the waves. She felt him get a stronger grip and then he was holding her in the rescue position and swimming on his back, using his feet only, pushing through the water, away from the ship. She saw the last mast collapse and the hull begin to break up like a model made of matches and balsa wood. She knew The Doctor was pulling her away from the dangerous wreckage and that he had probably saved her life. But right now, between the shock, the coldness of the water, the roar of the wind and the waves around her, she couldn’t completely express her gratitude.

The shock, above all, was what caused her to pass out.

She must have been unconscious for a long time. When she woke, she was aware first of all that there was no storm. Then she realised she wasn’t wearing her coat. She wasn’t wearing anything much apart from underwear and the petticoat from under her dress.

And she was lying on sand with something under her head.

She sat up and looked around. She saw sand, sea, some kind of greenery beyond the beach.

She saw The Doctor sitting beside a fire baking a pair of crabs.

“What… what… wha….” she burbled.

“Oh, you’re awake, good,” The Doctor said very calmly. “Breakfast is nearly ready. You do like seafood?”

“Wha…” She managed again. Then she focussed on one point to begin with. There were others she was going to bring up in a minute.

“WHY am I in my underwear?” she demanded. “Did you undress me?”

“Your clothes are over there,” he said, pointing to a makeshift clothes line made of two wobbly looking tree branches and some kind of rope fixed between them. “I rinsed your dress and coat in fresh water. There is nothing nastier than clothes saturated in salt water once it dries. Believe me, you’ll appreciate it later.”

She looked at him. He was wearing his brown suit trousers and a shirt with no tie. His coat and jacket were hanging from another couple of tree branches pushed into the sand. When she looked again she noticed that the tie was actually half of the clothes line that her dress was on, tied together with the belt from his coat.

The brown suit always looked crumpled. It didn’t look very much worse now. His face looked a little bit red and his hair was all over the place, but he didn’t look, apart from that, like somebody who had been shipwrecked. He seemed surprisingly calm about it. He pulled the crabs off the fire and onto two large, glossy leaves that he seemed to think would do as plates before passing one of them to her. She looked at it and wondered what she was supposed to do next. She WAS hungry, but was she hungry enough for this?

“You’re right, it needs to cool down a bit,” he said. “Have some coconut milk, meanwhile.” He picked something up from beside him and passed it to her. It was, she realised, a fresh coconut with the top sliced off by what she suspected was a laser. She looked inside. It was almost full of clear juice. She was used to dry husks of coconut with only a bit of milk inside. She drank this and it was cool and delicious and soothed her burning throat.

“We have coconuts?”

We have coconuts, we have fish in the sea. We have a fresh water stream just up there beyond that tree. What we don’t have is the TARDIS, and anywhere to sleep tonight. So once we’ve had breakfast, objective number one is hut building.”

“Doctor….” Donna clung to her coconut and looked at him steadily. “We’re on a desert island, right? We’re shipwrecked. Seriously, really, shipwrecked. Marooned. Just the two of us?”


“Then… is it all right if I just… scream and panic and cry for a little while? Because that is… is….”

She panicked. She screamed. She cried. The Doctor let her get on with it. He cracked a crab claw and ate the meat. When she had finished crying he used his sonic screwdriver to laser open another coconut and gave it to her. She drank, then tried a bit of crab. She didn’t really like the taste. But it was food, and she was actually really hungry. She ate most of it eventually.

“So…” She began again. “We’re shipwrecked. The TARDIS is missing. We’re in the year… what was it? 1833. So we can’t expect an aeroplane to fly over looking for us. Even if we had a radio, there’s nobody to receive an SOS. We’re….”

“We’re shipwrecked. But it could be worse.”


“We could be shipwrecked on an island with cannibals.”

“Ok, that would be worse. Do you mind if I see if my dress is dry? I feel… I mean, I know you’re an alien and not into that sort of thing, and stuff, but I would feel better if I had my dress on.”

The dress was dry. It was badly crumpled, but it was dry. The Doctor was right about it feeling better than if it was dried with the salt water. She felt Human. She felt less vulnerable. But even so, they did seem to be in trouble.

“We could be here forever. Just me and you.”

The Doctor looked at her and smiled.

“I couldn’t have picked a better companion to be shipwrecked with.”

It was a nice thing to say. She wasn’t sure it was true, and it skirted around the ‘we could be here forever’ bit. But it cheered her up a little bit.

“We should explore our island,” The Doctor said after a while. See what other resources we can make use of.”

“OUR island?” Donna questioned.

“By right of conquest,” The Doctor answered. He looked around at the tree line. “I’m not going to attempt to negotiate that without protective clothing and shoes. But we can walk around the sand and find out how big the island is at least.

“Shoes?” Donna looked down at her own feet. She was shoeless. She had been wearing sandals. They probably came off in the sea. The Doctor was still wearing his tightly laced up trainers, though they looked a bit worse for the wear.

“The sand will be hot for walking,” he said. Then he took his overcoat and looked at it wistfully. “Janis Joplin gave me this coat,” he said. “It’s a shame…” Then he made as if to rip the sleeve off. Donna stopped him.

“Don’t… if it’s so special to you. Later…if we’re really bored, you can tell me why Janis Joplin thought you needed a coat, and how come she was in charge of the coats, anyway. But… whatever you need it for, use mine. It came from TK Max and I can get another one… if we ever see a TK Max again.”

She wasn’t even sure what he wanted a coat sleeve for. She watched as he ripped one off her coat, though, and then cut it in two with the sonic screwdriver. She was amazed as he fashioned the two bits into a crude pair of beach sandals and tied them to her feet.

“Good enough for sand walking, anyway,” he told her. Then he ripped the lining from the coat and tore that in two. He made a pair of simple sunhats in the Blackpool beach knotted hanky style. When he put one on his own head Donna laughed. He looked ridiculous. He smiled as she tried on the other. They both must have looked silly. But he was perfectly right. Despite the storm last night, this morning the sun was burning in a cloudless blue sky and they needed to protect their heads against sunstroke.

“1833. There’s still an ozone layer on this planet,” she considered. “We won’t get skin cancer if we tan?”

“That’s the spirit,” The Doctor said to her. “Positive attitude. Always look on the bright side of life.”

“Yeah, as long as you don’t sing it!” Donna replied. The Doctor nodded. That was the spirit that made her such a great companion even when they weren’t shipwrecked. She would be all right.

“Come on then, let’s explore,” he said. He held out his hand to her. She took it. He turned west, for no reason other than having the sun behind them rather in their eyes for hours on end and walked to the end of the curving bay where they climbed the rocky outcrop that formed the demarcation between this and the next part of the coastline.

Not rock, of course, but hard, dead coral left high and dry as the land was pushed up by tectonic activity underneath the ocean.

“This is a…what do they call it… coral island… atoll?” Donna asked as they found themselves on a narrow length of beach with palm trees right down to the edge.

“Yep,” The Doctor confirmed. “In your time the likes of Madonna and the Beckhams and the Aga Khan and Prince Whatisname of Monaco would be clamouring to rent this little bit of paradise for a paparazzi free holiday in the sun.”

“At least they’d have the right shoes,” Donna commented. “And factor fifty million sunblock and sunglasses. Not that I’m complaining. The home made shoes are great. How did you learn to do stuff like that?”

“Survival training,” he answered. “Teenage Time Lords all do it. They dump us on a planet with minimum rations and tell us we’ll be picked up sometime! Mind you, we’re a bit better prepared to begin with. We’re short of a few of the essentials in the Time Lord survibal handbook. No suitable clothing, no shelter, no emergency rations, no first aid kit. There’s only one box we manage to tick.”

“What’s that?”

“A good positive attitude.”

“Yeah, I noticed that. How come? I mean… you lost the TARDIS. It’s your home… and more. Aren’t you upset?”

“Devastated,” he answered. “But crying won’t help.”

He didn’t tell her he had done his crying when they first washed up on the island. He had pulled Donna up onto the dry sand and then collapsed, exhausted, beside her. He had looked up at the stars that were coming out as the storm dissipated and the clouds cleared away. He had seen the constellation of Sagittarius, where his home used to be, orbiting the planet in the middle of the bowstring. He had felt more lost and alone than he had ever felt in his life. And he had cried.

Then he had dried his tears and kicked away the large crustacean that had taken an interest in his feet and sat watching the sun come up in an azure sky that was reflected in a sea of sapphire. Then he got practical, investigating the edge of the trees for firewood and coconuts. He found the fresh water and washed his clothes and put them to dry, and he had told himself firmly that he was going to have that positive attitude no matter what else happened.

The island was about four miles around. They walked it in the course of the day. It was a bountiful island, it had to be said. At regular intervals they investigated the trees and they yielded fruits of various kinds. More coconuts, mangos, and a strange kind of ball shaped fruit that Donna didn’t recognise.

“Breadfruit,” The Doctor said as he climbed up the trunk and passed a half a dozen of them down to her before producing a string bag from his trouser pocket that opened up big enough to contain everything he picked. “Highly nutritious. Baked or boiled it tastes a bit like potato and has the smell of new baked bread. Hence the name.”

“Oh, yeah, like in Mutiny on the Bounty. They were carrying loads of them to feed to slaves.”

“Exactly like that. It’s not as nutritious as the cúl nuts that grow on my planet, but as long as we’ve got breadfruit we’ll do ok.”

He looked at the bark of another tree and then peeled away several large pieces.

“What’s that?” Donna asked.

“Ticking another of the boxes,” he said. “We’ve got food now. And also basic medicine. This is quinine bark. Used to treat malaria for centuries. Boiled in water it will be good for fevers and headaches. Tastes foul, I’m afraid, but it could be a life saver.”

“Well, you’re the doctor, Doctor,” Donna told him as they continued walking.

It was a beautiful island. If they had chosen to come here, with Madonna or the Beckhams, with a fridge full of nice cold drinks in the luxury yacht anchored in the bay, it would have been delightful. Stranded there, it was less enchanting. But they both did their best with that positive attitude. Donna’s feet got hot even with the protection. She cooled them in the sea every so often and didn’t complain. She didn’t feel she had a right to. The Doctor hadn’t said anything, but she knew it was her fault. She was the one who caused the TARDIS to be out of control. He had done everything right. He had brought them safely to this island. He had organised everything. He was fantastic.

They came, eventually, back to the bay they had started in. The tide was higher by now, but The Doctor had made their camp up above the high water mark and his jacket and coat and the remains of hers were perfectly safe.

“Oh! Look!” Donna pointed to something floating on the water. It was a barrel of some sort. “Is that…”

“It’s from the ship,” The Doctor said. “The hold must have broken open when it hit the ocean bottom and the tide has carried stuff in.” He kicked off his shoes and shrugged off his shirt and waded out to reach it. As he did so, Donna shouted and pointed. Two more barrels were bobbing near him. He brought the first ashore then waded out again. And again, several times more, adding to the collection of assorted barrels, chests and an actual trunk that he was able to bring ashore, as well as a large piece of sailcloth and some ropes and spars that he knew they could use to make the shelter they needed.

“Ticking those boxes nicely, now,” he said as he examined the sailcloth. “This is nearly a tent.” Donna, meanwhile, was opening the first of the barrels and reported that it contained some sort of meat. The Doctor confirmed that it was salt pork, the staple diet of sailors at sea. Another barrel contained ships biscuits, ‘hard tack’ The Doctor said it was called and warned against trying to eat them without softening in a bit of coconut milk. They were a long way from a dentist. The last two barrels turned out to contain rum and dark brown cane sugar. While The Doctor was investigating those, Donna opened a small rectangular chest and was pleased to find it was metal lined and contained tea. She was thrilled to think that they could actually have tea with sugar, even if milk was impossible.

“What about the chest?” Donna asked. The Doctor was just getting to that. It was locked with a key, but the sonic screwdriver made short work of that.

“This was the captain’s chest,” The Doctor said as he examined it carefully. The inside of the lead-lined lid was stamped with the name of the ship. SS Stella Maris – Star of the Sea. Registered in Calais. A French merchant ship. The Doctor thought briefly of the TARDIS database and how he could so easily find out the fate of the crew. Then he pushed the thought away. He didn’t want to think of his own lost ship just now.

He pulled out a large woollen coat, the sort the captain might wear in bad weather. Though why he wasn’t wearing it last night, nobody would ever know. There was plenty of other men’s clothing, too. Shirts and trousers that suggested the captain was a large, burly man. Also a pair of good leather boots. The Doctor examined them. They were at least a size 12 by modern measurements. He took a ten. Donna was a seven in ladies shoewear. He took off his own trainers and put on the boots. They were too big on him. His trainers would be too big on Donna, but she could lace them tight and at least they both had proper shoes now.

Just one more box to tick in that survival manual.

“Ok, Girl Friday,” he said to Donna when she returned from behind a tree wearing one of the captain’s shirts tied at the waist with a leather belt. It made a passable dress and a change from the clothes she had been in all day. “We’ve got salt pork for supper tonight. After we’ve rigged up a shelter. Once the sun goes down it will be cold.”

Again, Donna thought, the way he organised the shelter was amazing. By rights, somebody from outer space, who lived in a machine that was one huge computer, should be lost without his technology. But apart from using the sonic screwdriver as a multipurpose knife that saved them from having to hack at lumps of wood with a sharpened crab shell, he was getting on fine. She did her best to be helpful as he made tent posts out of four bits of ships’ mast and then suspended the sailcloth over it before lashing it down with pieces of rope. When that was done, he made a fire and first boiled water and broke some of that quinine bark into it. He made her take a mouthful once it was cool. It really was disgusting, but he said it would help prevent fevers, since he had no way of making even the most basic mosquito net and she might be susceptible. He gave her a tot of rum to take away the taste. She said she preferred the quinine taste on balance. She usually drank rum mixed with coke.

Then he cooked their supper. The breadfruits really did smell like bread as they baked in the fire and soon there was the aroma of fresh tea infused in a coconut shell teapot and the crackle of pork fat dripping from the makeshift spit he constructed. A couple of big, waxy leaves made plates and they ate with their fingers as the sun set rather gloriously to the West, behind the coral headland. With food to eat and tea to drink, Donna actually managed the positive attitude without a struggle for a while.

“This is better,” Donna said as she ate salt pork and warm breadfruit together. “I mean… I know a pig died somewhere to fill that barrel. But I still feel better eating this than the crab earlier. Things that look at me while I’m eating them…”

The Doctor didn’t think she was being silly.

“I never ate real meat at all when I was growing up on Gallifrey. Only outlanders did. Civilised Gallifreyans ate food synthesised from those cúl nuts I mentioned earlier. It looked like real meat. You probably wouldn’t know the difference. But it was totally cruelty free.”

“But you’re eating that. And I’ve seen you eat hamburgers and steaks.”

“A case of ‘when in Rome’. Those of us who choose to travel expect to have to adapt to local customs. As for this… food is necessary for survival. We can’t afford to be choosy. If we’re here long enough for the salt pork to run out, we’re back to things that look at us while we eat them.”

“Crabs, fish…”

“There’s always breadfruit.”


“We can survive.”


There was a long pause.

“Doctor…” Donna began. “You know how the barrels got washed up. Do you think… the TARDIS… maybe…”

“It’s a bit bigger than a barrel of salt pork. Heavier, too.”

“So it couldn’t…”

“We can’t bank on it,” The Doctor admitted. “It’s a possibility. We should look around after the tides. But the longer we’re here, the less likely…”

He stopped talking. This wasn’t something he wanted to say or she wanted to hear. The positive attitude became a bit more of an effort again for them both. He turned his attention to sugaring a hot coconut shell of tea and gave it to Donna. He poured a large measure of rum for himself. He wouldn’t get drunk from it. Time Lords didn’t get drunk unless they wanted to. And he didn’t want to. But the sensation of it travelling down his throat was soothing.

Donna looked up at the stars that now peppered the dark sky and noted that they were in a different position to where they were when she star-gazed with her granddad up on his allotment. The Doctor didn’t look at them. He didn’t need to be reminded of the TARDIS and the freedom he had lost when he lost her. He closed his eyes and banished the tears that threatened to let him down.

Maybe the rum was affecting a bit, after all.

“We should sleep,” he said once he had his emotions under control. “Or you should, anyway. I will put myself into a deep, meditative trance that refreshes the mind and body.”

“Yeah, sleep, good idea,” Donna said. She watched as he stretched more of the sailcloth for a groundsheet and put his own coat, the one Janis Joplin gave him, down as a mattress. He rolled up a pair of the captain’s trousers and a thick woollen jerkin for a pillow. Donna kicked off his trainers and laid herself down. He put the captain’s big coat over her.

“Sleep well, Donna,” he told her. He sat by the lingering fire and tried to clear his mind and reach that level of meditation he needed to recover from a traumatic day.

Fifteen minutes later he opened his eyes and looked around. Donna was still awake, watching him quietly.

“Are you all right?” he asked her. “I know it’s not the best bed you’ve ever slept in, but do try to sleep.”

“I’m a bit cold,” she admitted.

“Ah. Hang on.” He took off his boots and moved over to the makeshift bed. He slid under the overcoat beside her. “Sharing body heat. Classic survival technique. Extra points for us both.”

His Time Lord body temperature was usually several degrees cooler than Human. But he could control it at will. He deliberately made himself hotter as Donna moved closer, putting her head against his chest.

“Your heart sounds funny,” she commented.

“I have two of them,” he answered.

“Get off!” she responded. “Nobody could….” She put her hand inside his shirt and felt his chest carefully. “You have… two hearts. Doesn’t that feel strange?”

“Feels normal for me. A couple of times when I’ve had accidents and only one worked, that felt wrong.”

“I’m all alone, in 1833, on a deserted coral island, cuddled up under a probably dead ship’s captain’s coat, with an alien who has two hearts.” Donna summed up the situation. “I should be scared. Mostly of you. You’re an alien. You’re the weirdest thing about this whole weirdness. But… because of you… I feel… safe.”

She cuddled closer. He put his arm around her and held her tight. It was survival, pure and simple. Keeping each other warm, keeping each other company, too. Because they both needed to feel there was somebody there to reach out to. His plan to put himself into a meditative trance was all very well. It was the proper survival technique according to the Time Lord handbook. But this was the Human way, and he preferred it on the whole.

When he woke from what had been half trance and half ordinary sleep, it was a sunny, tropical morning. Donna was up already. He turned and saw her outside the tent. She was boiling water on the fire. The Doctor was impressed. She had rekindled the embers from last night and got it going again. He wondered if that was something her granddad might have taught her. It certainly didn’t come from her mum. She had already made tea and he watched as she mashed up hard tack and sugar with boiled coconut milk and pieces of mango to make a breakfast meal. He was proud of her effort. He got up and went out to her. She looked up at him and smiled.

“I was going to do breakfast in bed for you,” she said.

“Best not,” he answered. “The last time anyone did that for me, it turned out to be a marriage ritual and I had become her husband overnight.”

“Ah!” Donna laughed and gave him the food. He ate it appreciatively. She contemplated asking him to expand on that interesting titbit of his past life and decided to leave it for later. It went with the Janis Joplin story for another time.

After breakfast, The Doctor decided they needed to make their tent a bit stronger and more durable. Donna didn’t ask why. He would have to have replied that he thought they were going to need it for a lot more nights. And she didn’t want him to say that out loud, even if they both knew it was true.

In any case, it probably had a lot to do with keeping busy and not getting despondent. Yet again, his resourcefulness fascinated Donna. She watched as he used the sonic screwdriver to cut the sailcloth into sections and then sew them together using pieces of the thick rope that she unravelled as he worked. When they were done, they both had sore, stiff hands, but they had a tent that would protect them from anything but another of the storms that landed them there in the first place.

The Doctor’s hands mended by themselves. One of those alien things about him. He looked at Donna’s blistered, bleeding hands and the nails that had broken. He quietly went to the trees and returned with a handful of plants. Soaked in hot water, they gave off a pleasant smell and turned out to be a soothing astringent that cleansed both her hands and her face, stripping away the caked on sea salt that burned and stung.

“When this is over,” The Doctor said. “I’m going to take you for a day in the finest beauty parlour in the galaxy. Facials, manicures, the lot.”

“So… if we get away from here, you’re not going to dump me home?”

“Why would I do that?” he asked.

“Because it’s my fault,” she answered. “Come on. You haven’t said it, but you know it is. And we might as well get it said. I spilt coffee all over the console. I sent the TARDIS off course. That’s why we landed on the ship. It’s why we ended up shipwrecked. You haven’t blamed me. You haven’t said anything.”

“I asked you to come with me. It’s my fault you were there to spill coffee. If I hadn’t taken you away from your life, you’d be safe.”

“Or I could have been run over by a number 9 bus. Or I’d have died of boredom in another temp job. This… isn’t great. But… we’re on a tropical island that the Beckhams would kill for. Can’t be bad, can it?”

Positive attitude again. They both tried hard to maintain it through an afternoon in which the TARDIS failed to wash up on the tide. Neither did anything else. The poor, stricken SS Stella Maris had yielded its bounty.

The day turned to evening, and they ate another meal of breadfruit and salt pork washed down with rum mixed with coconut milk and mango juice, not quite a pina colada, but tasty enough. Things could be worse, Donna thought as she drank a second cocktail and watched the sun go down. She turned and looked at The Doctor in the firelight and wondered if now was the time to ask for one of those colourful stories about his past.

“So… this woman you accidentally married…”

The Doctor hesitated before he answered. As if he wasn’t sure if he was ready to bare his soul that much.

“Dominique,” he said eventually. “She literally swept me off my feet. She made me forget I was a Time Lord, and reminded me I was also a man.”

“I bet! But… you’re not with her now. Did you dump her?”

“Certainly not. I have never dumped anyone in my life. I… stayed with her. Thirty five years. I loved her until she died in my arms at the end of a good, long life – for a Human. I mourned for her with our children and grandchildren. Then… I said goodbye to them and went on my way.”

“Thirty-five years. You were married to her for thirty-five years.” She looked at his face. He didn’t look much older than that, though she knew he was.

“If… if we were here that long…”

“I stayed with Dominique because I wanted to. It was an easy choice to make. This is different. We neither of us had a choice.”

“But if….”

The Doctor reached out his arm around her shoulders. She leaned her head against his chest, listening to that double heartbeat that seemed to be in rhythm with the wash of the tide on the beach. If she’d had a couple more pina coladas and he was a different sort of man, something could have happened between them.

It didn’t.

“I’ll look after you, Donna,” he promised. “I’ll always look after you.”

And that was good enough. When he covered the fire and they went to bed, she didn’t even think about the fact that he, again, settled down next to her, under the big overcoat. She felt safe like that. He was safe.

Yes, he thought. If they were stranded here, if they could never get off this island, he could look after her, protect her for as long as she lived. He could comfort her in her old age. He would bury her when she was dead.

Then what? Live on alone, for another thousand years?

That was a lonely prospect that almost undid the positive attitude.

“No,” he told himself as he listened to Donna’s soft breathing and forced his mind to clear and relax. “No, we won’t be here forever. Something will turn up.”

But for three weeks, nearly four, nothing did. The days followed each other with a certain kind of routine. They made meals, they walked on the beach. They looked out every day with the same hope that the TARDIS might actually be washed up on the shore. The Doctor told her the story of how Janis Joplin came to give him a coat and several other anecdotes from his past. He talked about that family he had on another planet where he had once lived a happy, contented life and almost forgot for a while that he was a Time Lord. He talked, sometimes, about Gallifrey, home. But not often, because it always hurt to think of it, and the more so here, when he felt doubly exiled from all that he loved.

They both managed not to become depressed. They made the best of it. They supported each other when the blues might have overwhelmed them.

They managed.


Donna was sitting by the tent one evening when the sun was starting to get lower in the sky. She was watching breadfruit baking and a stew of the last of the salt pork and a handful of wild herbs cooking in a pot fashioned out of the metal lining of the tea chest. She was actually sewing with a needle made from a fishbone and thread made from unpicking the rope to its very thinnest fibres. She was making a skirt out of the captain’s trousers. To go with the top she had already made out of his undershirt. It wouldn’t win any prizes for haute couture. But it would do.

She heard The Doctor yell and dropped everything as she ran towards him. He was stumbling away from the trees where he had been gathering breadfruits. He slid down on the sand and didn’t seem to be able to pick himself up again. When Donna reached him she was shocked to see him shaking and sweating.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Bitten,” he answered. “By a snake. It… I didn’t see it.”

The fact that the undergrowth contained plenty of things that could bite or sting had been one reason why they had left it alone except for gathering food. Donna mostly let The Doctor do the ‘shopping’ because he was better at spotting what might turn out to be deadly. But his luck had run out. Donna helped him to his feet and supported him as he hobbled back to the camp. She let him sit by the fire and looked at his ankle where something venomous had got its fangs right through his sock.

“Do you know what kind it was?” she asked.

“Something… that… paralyses its prey,” he answered. “Donna… the quinine… muscle relaxant… I need… all we have…”

She ran and got it for him. He drank a whole coconut shell of the horrible tasting brew without even tasting it. Donna watched anxiously to see if it was working. His ankle looked horribly swollen and the bite looked yellow from the venom inside.

“Don’t even think about what I know you’re thinking about,” he managed to say. “You… are NOT going to suck the poison out.”

“I wouldn’t know how to start. But what else can I do? You’re still… Oh, Doctor, don’t die on me, please.”

“I’ll try not to. The quinine is holding off the paralysis, but the poison is still in my system. And I can’t… can’t expel it automatically. Need a catalyst.”

“What?” Donna asked, trying not to panic. “What do you need, Doctor? Tell me.”

“Salt water,” he answered. “Donna… get me a cup of seawater.”

“You’re sure? That sounds… horrible…”

“It’s what I need. Please… quickly.”

She grabbed the empty coconut shell and ran to the sea. She scooped up the water and ran back. He drank it down and asked for more. She ran back again. She was half sure she was poisoning him. But he insisted it was doing him good.”

“What now?” she asked as he finished the third coconut shell of seawater. “Doctor, what can I do?”

Just… help me… turn over… recovery position. Don’t want to… swallow my tongue or something. This… will look scary.”

It did. He looked as if he was having a fit. His body stiffened and then shuddered violently. It was obviously hurting him a lot. Through gritted teeth he let out a howl of agony. Donna wondered if she ought to try to hold him, or if it was better to stay back. Either way it was terrible to look at him. If this wasn’t dying, she didn’t know what it was.

Then his face and hands, his chest beneath the shirt, glistened with strange, yellowy beads of perspiration that dried out into a dull chalk before disappearing. He gasped and turned over onto his back. He looked up at her.

“I’m… ok now. Just…” He tried to stand up but he wobbled dizzily.

“Ok, you’ve got rid of the poison. I get that. But you’re worn out. You need to rest. You need some food and sleep.”

“Yes,” he managed to say. Donna took hold of him and put him to bed in the tent. She brought food. He managed to eat it, but he really was exhausted. She wasn’t at all surprised when he fell asleep. She made the fire safe and came to bed beside him.

His body was hot. Hotter than usual. After all, she thought, it had been through a lot. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tight. He hardly seemed aware of her. At least, he wasn’t aware that it was her, Donna, who was holding him. She heard several other names whispered. A lot of his dreams seemed to involve that lady called Dominique who he had loved for a while. Good dreams that seemed to be doing him some good. His hearts were steadier and he breathed more easily. There were other names mentioned, too, in that same fond way. One of them was Rose. One really puzzled her. It sounded like somebody called Jack? There was a story she was going to have to get out of him some time. If this Jack was as close to him as Rose and Dominique, then there was something else about Time Lords she didn’t know.

Anyway, he had good dreams. And that was something after all he had gone through. Donna closed her eyes and let herself drift to sleep, knowing she could wake if he moved, if he needed her.

She woke with the sky starting to lighten a little outside, though it wasn’t quite dawn yet. She noticed that The Doctor was awake. He was staring up at the canvas roof above them. Donna looked up, half expecting to see something there.

“What is it?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he said. “I think… I’m sure… the TARDIS. I felt her. She’s close.”

“Don’t,” Donna told him. “Don’t torture yourself. It was just another dream. You’ve had a lot of them tonight. The TARDIS is no closer than any of those people you were thinking of.”

“What… people…”

“You talk in your sleep when you’re sick. And I really want to hear about this Jack, some time. But the TARDIS… it is just a dream. Don’t build up your hopes.”

“It’s not. I can still feel it. I’m awake now. And I can… I can feel her. She was lost. But she’s been trying to reach me… using the tides… to slowly move nearer. I’m… there’s a thing, between Time Lords and their TARDISes, a symbiosis. She knew where to find me. She just couldn’t do it quickly.”

“Doctor…” He seemed convinced. Donna didn’t want to believe it. She didn’t want to believe in case it turned out to be a disappointment. They had managed to keep their spirits up all this time. They had made the best of things. But if she allowed herself to hope, only to find out it was just a dream, she wasn’t sure she could cope.

“She’s near,” The Doctor insisted.

He sat up and scrambled to his feet before running out of the tent. Donna followed and found him standing on the edge of the water, staring out to sea in the dim light. There was nothing to be seen there.

She put her hand on his shoulder gently.

“I’m sorry,” she told him. “I really am. It would have been wonderful to have the TARDIS back. But you were ill last night. You had some very intense dreams while you were still running a temperature. That’s all it was.”

“No, Donna, no. I can feel her even now. I can feel the TARDIS. My TARDIS. She never let’s me down. She…”

Donna thought her heart was going to break. The Doctor was losing it, imagining things. Last night had been too much for him. Now he was losing his mind. And if he couldn’t cope, what about her? He was the one keeping her going.

The sun came up as they stood there. It shone its light over the clear blue ocean and the paler blue of the lagoon where it was shallower. Then Donna saw something that made her gasp out loud. The Doctor saw it, too.

She could see a glass lamp shape sticking up from the water. A light on top of a blue roof that was just visible below the waterline, a blue darker than the lagoon itself. Below that, distorted by the rippling waves, were the words ‘Police Public Call Box.’

“Doctor… you were right,” she whispered. “I’m sorry I doubted you – or the TARDIS. But… it’s under water. Can it….”

The Doctor didn’t say anything. He stepped forward into the water. Donna saw him swimming towards the TARDIS, cutting through the water with fast, furious strokes. She saw him grasp the TARDIS roof and pull himself up on it. She couldn’t imagine what he was going to do next, though. It was still under water. How could he even open the door?”

He didn’t. She saw him lie right across the roof, holding onto the lamp. He pressed his head against the wood as if he was communicating with the TARDIS. Slowly, it rose up out of the water like a submarine conning tower until it was bobbing on the surface in a way that something so unseaworthy had no business doing.

Then it started to move forward, towards the shore. It touched down softly in the dry sand and The Doctor dropped down nimbly. He patted the door frame before he reached for his key in his trouser pocket. All this time, Donna thought, he had kept the key, hoping he would find his TARDIS again.

Donna ran to the door. The Doctor was at the console. The lights were on. It looked bright and dry and so familiar.

“She’s fine,” The Doctor said before she could even ask the question. “Just fine.”

“We can get away from here?”

“Yes, we can.”

Donna ran up the gangway and hugged him around the neck. She put her head against his chest and cried with relief. The Doctor held her and tried not to cry himself as the same emotions flooded over him. For her, the TARDIS was a way off the island. For him, it was… everything.


A day or two later in their personal time line and a hundred and seventy-seven years later in the history of the Micronesian islands, The Doctor and Donna walked on a tropical beach. The TARDIS was parked by the steps that cut through what remained of the thick trees and up to a luxury hotel where the super-rich enjoyed getting away from it all.

The island had been changed a lot, to suit the guests and their whims. But even so, they recognised the beach they had called home for so many weeks as they walked along it. The Doctor had made only a few small concessions to the tropical sunshine. He was wearing a straw cricketing hat that he found in the wardrobe and a pair of sunglasses and had left off his jacket and tie. Donna was in a beach dress over a swimming costume and sandals with a wide brimmed hat with sunglasses and a layer of sunblock.

“I found out about the SS Stella Maris,” The Doctor said. “The crew took to their lifeboat and were picked up by another ship a few days later. No hands lost.”

“That’s good,” Donna said. She looked around at the island and the beach that she had come to know so well. “I think I liked it better the way it was,” she added.

“I agree,” The Doctor answered. “Shall we go back in time a bit? The TARDIS had plenty of cold drinks in the fridge. We wouldn’t have to rough it this time.”

“No. I think I’ve had enough of the tropics. How about we go somewhere crisp and autumnal and kick up fallen leaves?”

The Doctor smiled. “I know the very place.”