''What was that, Doctor? You always do?"

Donna started to speak again - he didn't know which one of them - but he cut her off with a 'shhht' noise and a long finger against his pursed lips. It had gone silent outside, and there were now no longer the sounds of gunfire, splintering wood and ricocheting shells. The Doctor tiptoed to the door - unnecessarily, as his rubber-soled Converse made no sound against the floor anyway, but he was all about dramatics - and pressed his ear to the wood of the door, squashing the left side of his hair. He screwed up his face to emphasise the depth of his concentration, and Donna had no choice but to watch him wearing an exasperated expression that she was sure was mirrored on the faces of her clones. 

"All's quiet on the... er... outside there," the Doctor announced with an air of stating the obvious as he leaped back up to the console. "Can't hear a dickybird."

Donna smiled at his quaint phrase. "Doesn't mean that whoever was shooting the TARDIS has gone." The smile slipped off her face. "Doesn't mean we're safe yet."

The Doctor laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder, then spoiled the moment by patting her fiery-haired head in an infuriatingly patronizing way. 

"Don't worry, Donna, I'll get us out of here," he said seriously, but the corner of his mouth had quirked up. "I always do."

Donna opened her mouth, remembering a few close shaves, then shut it again, knowing it was futile to argue with the pinstripe-suited man in front of her. Well, alien. 

"For now, though," he frowned, "we need a way of distinguishing between you three. Wouldn't want to get mixed up."

"Right," Donna agreed, following as the Doctor ran through the door that led to the warren of rooms and corridors that made up the rest of the TARDIS. Donna had conveniently chosen the one closest to the door as her living quarters; close to the control room, so she wouldn't get lost. The Doctor had darted inside here, and reappeared a second later with two of Donna's shirts of different colours. He handed a black one to one clone, and a pink one to the other, who smiled shyly as she took it, meaning she was the 'sweet' one. From the way the other clone rested her hand just a fraction of a second too long over the Doctor's, making the real Donna's insides shrivel, she was the ‘bold’ one.

“Molto bene,” the Doctor declared when the clones emerged from the other rooms down the hall they had gone into to change. He led the procession of Donnas into the control room, where they spread out around the console.

“What now, Doctor?” Donna asked anxiously darting a glance to the doors. There was still no sound from beyond them, but she wasn’t naïve enough to believe that there was nothing there now.

“Now,” he grunted as he braced his feet against the console to aid his effort in pulling down a rather large and thick lever, that once down caused a grinding noise to echo through the TARDIS before it melded into the grating, whirring hum that Donna was now so familiar with. She swore she could have recognised it in her sleep.

“Now, we get out of here and go somewhere else safer so we can go out there and assess the damage.” He brushed his hands off on his jacket and straightened his skewed tie. “Not that there’ll be much, she’s a resilient old thing, aren’t you - “

“Right,” Donna cut across the Doctor’s cooing. “So, why aren’t we going anywhere?”

It was true, the whirring sound that accompanied the TARDIS’ disappearing had faded into a quiet hum, then silence.

“What?”

The Doctor leaped over to a little screen set in the console, frantically reading the data displayed that looked like so much alien jargon to Donna.

“What?” he repeated in a higher pitch, forehead creasing in a frown, reminding Donna of the first time they had met when she had been sucked into the TARDIS via huon particles.

“What?” Donna asked insistently, and to her annoyance she was echoed by the clones, a chorus of ‘’What?’’s echoing round the console room.

“This planet is on lockdown,” he stated in a surprised tone. “They have a time barrier. It’s not letting us leave.”

“What do you mean?” Donna said urgently, her brain clouding with worry. The worry turned into full scale panic when a thudding blow resounded on the doors of the TARDIS.

“Come out of there, unarmed!”

The Doctor and Donna exchanged looks, his wary, hers afraid.

What do we do?

She mouthed fearfully. If that was a knock, she did not want to know what was big enough to make such noise. The Doctor chewed his lip thoughtfully, glancing at the clones who stood there silently.

 

The End

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