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DOCTOR WHO: A Matter of Scale

Title: A Matter of Scale
Characters/Pairing: Tenth Doctor and Donna
Wordcount: 877
Rating: Worksafe
Summary: The Doctor decides to test a theory and the limits of what's possible.
Notes: Written for comment_fic . Once again, I fail to grasp the concept that "comment fic should fit in a comment". Any mention of faily science will get a shoe thrown at your head. Canon has living suns. :|
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and all characters belong to the BBC. I am not affiliated with the BBC, and am not making any money from this.

Many things are possible in the TARDIS that would not be anywhere else in the universe. Donna's beginning to think even the Doctor doesn't know the extent of what the TARDIS is capable of, because he's standing at the controls with that "let's give this a try and hope nothing explodes" look on his face, bouncing around frantically, hitting buttons and flipping levers and grinning like a madman.

"Is it working?"

She stops frowning at the tiny screen on the TARDIS console long enough to look up, and shoot a frown in his direction. "I don't even know what I'm looking for!" All she can see on the screen is... space. And it's absolutely beautiful, sure, a dark nebula of gas and dust against a blazing backdrop of stars, but she can't see any spaceships or planets or asteroids or any of the things she'd expect to be looking for. Of course, if the Doctor would ever stop to explain anything... "What're you doing anyway?"

"Just... testing a theory," he answers, sounding a bit distracted as his fingers dance over a series of buttons so quickly she couldn't begin to follow their movement. "Just tell me if anything moves on that screen."

Donna rolls her eyes and stares at it. It's still space. Quiet and still and coldly beautiful, and unchanging. The mechanism in the central column of the TARDIS rises and falls, rises and falls, moving faster and faster as the Doctor works, and the familiar roar of the engines rises to a volume where it's almost impossible to hear anything else over it, where the sound vibrates in her chest, and she feels a little like she's tumbling through the Vortex along with the TARDIS, some complicated rush of excitement and terror filling her up.

And then something moves on the screen, and she jumps a little, leaning in to examine it, one hand on the edge of the screen. It's not just something moving, it's everything, all the stars shifting across the black in slow, elegant patterns, like she's watching the galaxy on fast-forward.

But the dark nebula's moving faster and differently from the rest of the star field. It stretches out one long tendril, almost limb-like. Slowly, ponderously, another follows, as the whole thing moves forward - or backward, or whichever direction is away from the TARDIS - looking for all the world like something... alive.


He releases the lever he'd been fiddling with and swings around to inspect the screen, one hand on her shoulder to steady himself as he comes to an abrupt halt beside her. As his eyes fix on the screen, his expression brightens, a broad grin breaking over his face, and the light in his eyes looks almost as awed as she feels.

"What is it?" She'd drop her voice in some unconscious reverent awe, except that she needs to nearly shout to be heard over the sounds of the TARDIS.

"It's a nebula," he says, sounding like he thinks that should have been obvious, though there's still more than a hint of giddy glee in his voice.

"But it's like it's... alive. Like it's walking..."

"Right through space," the Doctor confirms, eyes fixed on the screen. "It shouldn't be able to, shouldn't even be possible, but there it is! Isn't that brilliant?" He just watches it for a few seconds, just grinning, before he goes on, dropping into that 'explaining' tone of his. "We're skimming over the surface of the Vortex right now. That's why the TARDIS is so loud - it's working to keep us here, just enough outside of the Vortex that we can see... well, that. In here, a minute passes, and out there, hundreds, thousands of years are just whizzing by. It's the only way you'd be able to see it-"

"But it can't be alive," she protests softly, even as she's staring at the thing sauntering out into the universe. "It's just a bunch of dust and gas and... stars..."

The Doctor shrugs. "You and me, we're just a bunch of atoms. All a matter of scale..."

Suddenly, Donna finds herself just a little breathless. Seeing the size of things, the vastness of the universe, time and space and all... sometimes, that's terrifying enough all on its own. But the idea that there are things that massive, that timeless out there, things that make even the Doctor seem tiny and finite... She can't help a little shiver.

Some of that uneasiness must show on her face, because the Doctor glances sideways at her, studies her expression for a moment and then tilts his head to one side, eyebrows raised. "Want to see try and say hello?"

Her heart jumps and flutters as she stares at him for a second, unsure how to answer that. How would something that massive and ancient, something that treads on stars, even notice them? What would they say to it, and what could it possibly have to say to them? But the TARDIS is roaring and singing in her ears and her chest, and even in that thrill of terror there's a curiosity she doesn't even want to try to shake, and finally she grins, her smile matching the Doctor's perfectly. "Yeah, okay. Let's do it."


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
jskdaks OH MY GOD. Words cannot describe how much I LOVED this. It just filled me to the brim with GLEE and made me miss Ten all over again. It just feels like something that could happen in the show. *flailyhands* <333
Feb. 1st, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
Hee! I'm glad, because that is exactly the reaction I was hoping for. Writing it made me miss Ten so much, because there's something about that sense of wonder that's pretty much inextricably linked to him in my mind. ♥
Feb. 2nd, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
I LOVE this! What a wonderful idea. Actually, it's literally that: Wonder full.
Feb. 2nd, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! That was exactly the intention, and I'm glad it came across. ♥
Feb. 2nd, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Um, awesome?
Feb. 2nd, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! ^^
Feb. 2nd, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
That's wonderful! Oh, Donna. I love the idea of a living nebula. Who cares about real science; this is Doctor Who. :)
Feb. 2nd, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! XD "Who cares about real science in DW?" tends to be my philosophy on the matter as well, but I've gotten the occasional comment about sketchy science, so I figured this time I might as well head it off beforehand.
Feb. 3rd, 2010 08:39 am (UTC)
Fabulous, just fabulous. How on earth did you come up with something so creative and beautiful and magical?
Feb. 3rd, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
One of my friends mentioned how the Horsehead Nebula looks less like a horse's head than it does a giant, headless figure walking away. And then I couldn't stop poking the idea until something came of it. I'm glad you enjoyed it! ♥
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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