She was like waking up again. It was as if the suns that had ceased to shine when the last petal fell from his grasp, had suddenly burst back into life. She was the first breath of happiness, of anything close to happiness he had felt in sometime, and she had said no.
The Doctor closed the door slowly behind him, turning to face the console. He ran his hands down his face, slowly sliding down the door. His bones felt thin and wispy, losing all solidity at her final words.
Donna Nobel's world was going to keep on going. She would go inside, and reassure her family that she wasn't as lost as it had seemed. She didn't need him to carry her world along, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't think he needed her.
But his words held no power, and he couldn't make her come along with him. He couldn't stop her from walking away, more than he could stop anything else that tore another bit of him away, from happening.
He longed to cry. To feel that release, but he had jammed so many barriers up that he couldn't seem to tear them all back down.
His hearts beat. He took a breath. This was his life now. Another path he didn't see coming, another moment he couldn't decide if it would have been better to have avoided from the start.
The Doctor slowly climbed to his feet, the door behind him marking the end of something, though he wasn't quite sure what just yet.
He threw a lever, and flipped a switch. Another step, another reminder of just how empty the TARDIS was. And if he ran forever, he'd still never escape the man he had become. The choice he had made hang lower than it had in some time, silence battering his brain, until he felt a scream rip its way from his lips.
He slammed his hands against the console, again and again. His palms ached, and the skin grew red and tender.
"Why!" he screamed out, dropping his hands to his side.
He looked up, seeing past the TARDIS. The universe owed him an answer, but it didn't care to fill him in. Finally, he crumbled. He slipped to the ground, leaning against the console.
There was no point in it all anymore. The universe was going to carry on, even if he wasn't out there. What was the point in trying to repay a debt that was never going leave- when scar tissue was all that you were made up of anymore?
So, he closed his eyes. He dropped his head, and knew what he had to do. He'd walk away, before he touched something else and watched it shatter beneath his shaking hands.
The dress was the first thing she saw, in a white pile of lies, laying where she had shed it in exhaustion.
Donna brushed the hair back from her face, and glanced at the clock. It was too early to be awake, but closing her eyes only brought up the faces of the ones who had looked on her with pity last night.
First, the Doctor. He hadn't told her she should have seen Lance's lies, but she wondered if he had thought it.
Then her parents, after she fed them a lie of her own. He'd left her behind, another woman. Well, it wasn't all a lie.
Her mother had been kind, as kind as she ever was, and the night hadn't gone too badly.
She'd been sent up to bed, right after dinner. Her mother had fussed, and for a moment, she forgot she was an adult. She forgot she should have a house of her own, or a flat. She should be making something of herself, and she was just able to walk up the stairs.
But reality wasn't going to stay at bay, and she pulled herself up. She moved into the bathroom, washing the past off her face, and looking at herself.
Her eyes were swollen, from tears she had only shed in private. And her cheeks were too pale, but she rubbed her hands over them, and walked out to dress.
If Donna knew anything, it was how to pretend to be something you weren't. And she could do that until she felt normal again, until she thought she had really gotten over Lance.
Until she had gotten over the look in the Doctor's face, when he had to pretend he wasn't upset when she had said no.
Donna moved off down the stairs, and into the kitchen. She added water to the coffee pot, and headed outside to gather up the paper.
She looked around the waking neighborhood, and wondered if any of them really understood what had happened yesterday. It felt like a dream, and she knew that she wasn't ever going to wake from it.
She reached down, picking up the paper. Donna was turning back for the house when she saw car in front of the house that had been for sale for at least a year. She shook her head, only stopping again, when two men walked out. They shook hands, one of them started to walk way. Donna squinted, trying to make out a face of the one that stayed on the front step. She was certain that it couldn't be him.
He was in space, he was off doing something dangerous. Maybe at the dawn of another new planet, with another girl at his side. She didn't know what he did with his life, but she was certain it didn't involve the empty house down the street.
"Donna!" Sylvia called out. "Hurry up. I'm starting breakfast."
Donna blinked, and headed for the house. She moved inside, closing the cold outside behind her.
"Looks like someone is moving in down the street," Donna said, looking at her mother.
"It's been empty forever," Sylvia said, taking the paper and heading for the kitchen without another word.
"Perhaps we should make something," Donna said. "Go meet the neighbors. Be polite."
Sylvia raised her eye brows, pouring herself some coffee.
"It's a man, isn't it?" Sylvia asked, sitting down. "Don't you think it's a bit soon to be looking for someone else?"
Donna poured herself a mug, keeping her back to her mother. It seemed whatever pass she had been granted last night, was expired.
"We'll go later," Sylvia said to Donna's back.
Donna glanced back at her mother. Sylvia was already searching the paper. Donna found a smile she didn't think she was capable of and even when Sylvia brought up the thought of looking for a new job, Donna didn't flinch.
Curiosity had gotten the best of her, and she intended to satisfy it. She was tired of just existing, of being used, and now was the time for change.
And if it turned out it wasn't the Doctor-which was likely- then she would have met the new neighbor anyway.
It was a small adventure, but it would satisfy the itch she found in her soul.