Title: Hello, Goodbye
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and all its characters are owned by the BBC and all those associated with the production of the series. I'm merely using their characters for entertainment and non-monetary purposes.
Characters/Pairings: Ten, Donna, Wilf, Sylvia
Warnings: Character Death, Post JE, so definite spoilers. AU
Summary: The tardis has brought the Doctor to London unexpectedly.
The bark was rough and crumbling beneath his fingers tips, his breath a foggy mist billowing from his lips.
He hadn’t understood why the Tardis had brought him here, and so violently. He’d barely stepped in from Treliaria, when the Tardis had shifted to life, jolting, and shaking, refusing the Doctor’s commands no matter how many times he pulled leavers or banged with hammers. Eventually, she’d ground to a halt, silence echoing eerily throughout her vast bowels.
He’d been surprised to step out into the early twenty first century Earth. Even more surprised to see it was the outskirts of suburban London.
But not now.
And oh, it hurt. Standing there like a stranger, unable to go and comfort her, to give her something instead of the blank dead stare that encompassed her features.
Physical pain he could deal with, emotional pain was something else entirely. Something to be avoided, to be put to the side and ignored until you couldn’t do so any more. What he wouldn’t give to be able to run up to her, grab her hand and drag her into the Tardis, to some strange new world with enough wonders and dangers to distract her from the sorrow radiating from her beautifully expressive eyes.
Donna had lost the one person who ever truly loved her or at least the only person who ever showed her he loved her. And the Doctor had lost the last tenuous link to Donna Noble. His Donna Noble.
Slowly, the people dispersed but she didn’t move. Not a muscle. She stared unseeing at the grave where her grandfather’s body had just been laid to rest.
She always had skin like porcelain, but now she was pale and tired looking, as thin as tissue paper.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
His back stiffened instinctively and he turned, facing chips of blue ice staring back at him from red rimmed eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly, “I came to pay my respects. Your father was a good man.”
“Too good,” her voice choked, and she glanced away before regaining her cold composure. “I don’t want her to see you here.”
Sylvia’s voice was like broken glass, sharp and jagged. “You may have used my father as some sort of anchor Doctor, but I won’t have you anywhere near my daughter.”
Words were not coming easy to him, and those that did were said in a voice soft, as if, if he spoke normally, it would break him, and his plunging emotions would make themselves known to the world.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he slung his hands into his pockets and turned to look at Donna. As if sensing his presence, she looked towards the tree line, but he moved quickly behind the thick trunk before she could see him.
“I won’t let you take my daughter away. I won’t let you hurt her again. There’s nothing left for you here, Doctor,” Sylvia told him, a lancing blow, and one that hit it’s mark truly, and faithfully. “I think it’s time you left.”
“Yeah,” he risked one more glance, but only found himself staring at his best friend’s huddled back.
It hurt; it hurt more than it should have. There was something for him in that graveyard, someone he cared somuch about, someone he wanted to comfort and was helpless to do anything for.
He wandered along the streets of suburban London for a long time, until dusk fell. He could have gone back to Tardis, but for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to go just yet. There was one more place he needed to see.
Wilf had been a good man, a great man. He loved his family, and the Doctor was humbled, proud and delighted to know hewas considered family to Wilfred Mott.
He hadn’t lied that night when the Doctor had returned Donna to her family. He’d kept his word. He spent his nights on top of the hill and watched out for him, waited for him. At first the Doctor had went, just out of curiosity, and there he’d been, telescope set out, woolly hat pulled down over his ears, and wrapped in a thick winter coat.
After that he’d felt obliged to visit whenever he was on Earth around this period of history. He felt like a soldier reporting to his commanding officer every time. And Wilf’s obvious relief at seeing him alive and well after the latest alien invasion on Earth, always pleased him, and made him feel warm inside.
“Where you off to now, then?” Wilf would ask conversationally.
“Well,” the Doctor would reply, swinging on the balls of his feet, his face turned towards the heaven. “I was thinking of Onacron 3,” he’d lift a finger and point to some darkened portion of the sky. Then he’d tell him all about the place, the history, the people, something amazing.
He’d never mention Donna. It was strange, but he could, and would, talk about her to everyone he met. He felt like it was some sort of cosmic duty. Donna Noble had saved the Universe and the Universe needed to know this. But with her grandfather, the only other man who could ever understand how much he loved her, he couldn’t bring himself to even say her name.
So he never did, he’d speak of different worlds, different timelines, and he’d babble on and on and on, but eventually it would happen. There’d be a lull in the conversation.
“She’s doing all right, you know. That’s what she says anyway. ‘Don’t worry about me, gramps, I’m all right.’”
And every time, every time he’d tell himself this time he won’t look at him. This time he won’t turn to an old man and see the half hearted smile on his face or the lie in his brightened eyes that even the darkness can’t hide.
And this time he won’t remember her voice in the library.
Is ‘all right’ special Time Lord code for... really not all right at all"?
“Cos I’m ‘all right’ too.”
And every time he failed.
His breathing became a little erratic as he reached the peak of the hill. Though he didn’t know if it was from the exercise or the myriad emotions scattered through his entire being.
Thankfully, he reached the summit, and closed his eyes in relief, lifting his face to the stars. The only true constant in his life.
Opening his eyes, he was taken aback to find wasn’t the only person to decide to take the night air.
“Oh, oh, sorry, I should…” he gestured back towards the bottom of the hill and turned, panic striking every nerve ending. DonnaDonnaDonna, it ran through his head like a mantra, along with leaveleaveleaveleave.
“Oi, wait a minute!”
And he couldn’t ignore her, he couldn’t. He’s weak enough to turn and look at her, her frowning face as she pushes a stray hair away from her face in annoyance.
“Smith, wasn’t it?”
He blinked owlishly at her, taken by surprise. It’d been at least eighteen months since that night, and he never thought for a moment she’d actually remember him, let alone his name.
“Yes, yes it was…is. John Smith.”
He forced his hand out and she took it, an odd look in her eyes. “I thought you were at the graveyard earlier. What you doing here?”
“I, I used to meet your grandfather here sometimes,” he replied honestly, his hearts beating erratically. Best to stick as close to the truth as possible. “I have a bit of an interest in astronomy, that’s how I knew your grandfather. I’m sorry, by the way.” He stepped forward, until she was forced to look up at him. “I am so sorry, Donna.”
“Isn’t everyone?” she answered glibly, turning away but not before he sees the sheen of moisture in her eyes.
“So,” she continued, moving further away from him, “you’d meet Gramps here? Well, I guess that explains a few things then.”
“How do you mean?” his eyebrows knitted together and for a moment he worried if Wilf may have let anything slip about him, no matter how inadvertently.
She shrugged and turned back towards him. “When I was younger I used to come out with him sometimes; he’d point out different constellations and tell me the stories behind them. How they got their name, what they meant to different people. Then he’d point to some corner of the sky and make up stories of these different planets and worlds, and the people who lived there. Of course that was before….” She trailed off and a tight smile formed on her face, “They told me I got a bit of a knock to the head, forgot nearly a year of my life. Gramps didn’t like me coming out here as much after that. It’s silly really, but whenever I brought it up he’d get this sad look on his face.
So eventually, I stopped asking, but if he was meeting you, I guess he didn’t really want me coming with him. Especially if he was meeting someone like you. Someone who’d really know what he was talking about. Right?”
“Er, yeah. We could talk about constellations for hours!” It was the only thing he could think of to say, and it sounded so insignificant, so irrelevant he wanted to kick himself. He scratched the back of his neck nervously, knowing he had to get out of there. This was torture and oh so risky.
But she was there, standing in front of him, and it was all he could do to keep rooted to the same spot and not throw caution to the wind and rush forward to gather her into his arms and crush her to him. He wanted her so badly she had him driven to distraction.
“So,” she sighed, sitting down on the blanket and leaning back on her elbows, “what do you think, is there any life of Mars?”
“Well,” he rocked gently on his feet, “on Mars specifically, no.”
She snorted. “I take that to mean you believe in aliens then?”
“A bit presumptuous to think humans are the only life form in the entire universe, wouldn’t you agree?”
She looked up at the shining lights above her and he shoved his hands into his pockets.
“Gramps believed. He once claimed to have seen a group of people disappear right in front of him in the middle of the street on Christmas Eve.”
She raised her eyes to him, pinning him with her gaze. “Can you believe that?”
He could feel a sweat breaking out on his forehead, and his mouth opened and closed a few times before he seemed able to find his voice.
“When did he tell you that?”
Narrowing her eyes, she drew herself up to her feet and walked towards him. “I’m surprised you don’t know,” she paused, raising a delicate eyebrow, and crossing her arms. “Especially since you were with me when he said it, Doctor.”
He jumped back, startled, reminding Donna very much of a guppy fish coupled with the proverbial deer in the headlights.
“And even more surprising considering you were one of the people who took part in that little vanishing act.”
“Oh, and by the way, you might want to work on restraining that little psychic mind thingy you do. You were projecting all over the place at the graveyard!”
He stumbled backwards until his back hit the small shed Wilf always kept his radio and hot water in.
“Oh, remember who I am now, do you? Funnily enough, so do I!”
He fidgeted in his pockets, eventually pulling out his glasses and his sonic screwdriver. Immediately, she batted the screwdriver away, but he persisted, drawing it up and down over her.
“Impossible! You should be a burnt carcass by now.”
“Gee thanks, spaceman. I can see why you were so popular with all your other companions.”
“I, Donna….it’s you,” a smile spread wide across his face, his eyes shining brightly down at her, and his toothy grin unable to be contained.
She nodded and before she could say anything else, he enveloped her in a bone crushing hug, the air from her lungs escaping in a rush as he clung to her like a drowning man to a life raft.
“Missed you too, dumbo,” she told him with affection. She pulled back from his grinning face, “oh, which reminds me.”
She slapped him hard and he rubbed his quickly reddening face. “What was that for?!”
“The next time you decide to wipe someone’s mind, how about you do it properly?”
“I did do it properly!”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did,” he replied indignantly.
“Oh really? Any idea what it’s like to have some stranger in the street offer to call ‘someone’ because you’re standing outside Marks & Spenser’s in tears because they have a sale on pin stripe suits?”
He looked abashed at her, pursing his mouth.
“No,” he replied slowly, tugging at his ear. “Can’t say that I do.”
“I didn’t think so.”
He caught her eye, and the smile returned, full force, 100 watts. “I have missed you.”
“Me too,” she grinned back, and he stroked her arm, just to make sure she was really there.
“But, how…I mean, how is this even possible?”
She shrugged, “You’re the doctor you tell me. All I know is I was doing a spot of babysitting for Veena’s niece. We were playing toy hospital, Teddy comes to see ‘Doctor Donna’ and next thing I know, blinding headache, and I mean that literally by the way. Spent three days locked in my room, because of a blinding white light everywhere. Suddenly, I remembered it all.”
“But you’re not Time Lord.”
“Maybe what they say is true. Use it or lose it. I don’t know. All I know is, there’s me and there’s some you in here,” she said tapping the side of her head, “but I can’t see the entire Universe laid out before me, and I don’t really understand all that Time Lord techno babble you keep on using.”
“So, you know some Time Lord stuff?”
“Like,” she huffed, thinking out loud, “I know what a sunrise looks on Gallifrey over the Messepian Lake and I can see the burning the red grass that stretches across the slopes of Mount Perdition. I know how to fly the Tardis, and…oh yeah,” she grinned cheekily at him, “I also know how you managed to get top marks in Interplanetary Population at the Academy.”
Donna winked at him, and the Doctor coloured, clearing his throat awkwardly, “Yes, well, some things we don’t need to talk about again.” He glanced at her casually, trying to gauge her reaction to his next question. “So, you seem to know a lot about my past, does this mean you know my real name?” he asked quietly.
“Do you want me to know your real name, Timeboy?”
He caught her eye and nodded, “Yeah, I do.”
“Well, you’re in luck then.”
“You know I can never tell you what it is.”
“Can’t say I blame you, doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it as Brad Pitt or even Donna Noble, now does it?” She grinned cheekily at him and he stared at her in wonder.
“Donna, I can’t,” he stepped towards hugging her to him again, “I can’t believe it.”
“Well believe it Spaceman, because if you think you’re leaving me behind this time, you’ve got another thing coming. Especially after all that’s happened.”
He pulled back and brushed a stray tear away from her cheek.
“I am so sorry about Wilfred. He was a wonderful man.”
“Yeah,” she stepped away from him and looked away breathing deeply until she managed to gather herself together. “There was nobody like my gramps.”
“Come on,” he took her hand in his gently pulling her behind him down the hillside.
“Where we off to, then?”
“Don’t know,” he grinned manically over his shoulder at her, “but letting the Tardis freewheel through time and space is part of the fun!”
“Oi, not so fast,” she yanked him sharply, making him skid to a halt. “Before we go whizzing through the space time continuum, we have to talk to Mum.”
“Ah,” his face fell, and he pulled on his ear anxiously, “is there any other way?”
She crossed her arms, sending him the glare of immediate submission. “No.”
“No,” he sighed in agreement, “I guess not.”
She reached for his hand again, “she’s just lost her father, her daughter can’t just disappear and all.”
“I know,” he told her sincerely.
“To be honest,” Donna avoided his gaze, “I’m wondering if I can even leave. It would be too hard to just leave her behind.”
His hearts sank and then hammered hard against the walls of his chest. He’d just gotten Donna back and he didn’t think he could leave her so soon.
“But,” he hesitated, and his eyes brightened as a mad but brilliant idea took over his mind.
“What?” Donna questioned warily.
“What if you don’t leave her behind?”
“If I don’t…..oh, you are not saying what I think you are, Spaceman?”
“It wouldn’t be forever, just a quick trip or two. The Tardis is big enough to house your mother… I think.” He rocked on his heels while Donna mulled over the idea.
“She’ll never go for it,” she said eventually, “she hates the whole idea of travelling, and she’s not exactly your number one fan.”
“No, but we could change her mind. Think of it, Donna,” he pulled her against his side, rubbing her arm absently, still needing the reassurance of her warmth beneath his fingertips. He stared up at the stars, his other hand sweeping wildly at the visage. “Think of all the places we could bring her. The medusa cascade, the pink sands of Coroneous VI.”
Donna looked at him, frowning bemusedly. “You really are bonkers aren’t you?”
He grinned maniacally down at her, brushing a brief kiss against her lips. “Oh yes.”
“Oi,” she slapped him playfully and he winked at her in response. She rolled her eyes, a grin teasing at the corner of her lips. “Well come on then. I’ll let you explain it all to Mum.”
“Allonsy!” he roared, grabbing hold of her, racing them both down the hill and towards the future.