Wow, this ended up a lot longer than I thought it would.
I hope you enjoy reading it... I certainly enjoyed writing it.
"Mail's here!" Donna Noble shouted over her shoulder, stooping to pick up the envelopes that had just landed on the hall carpet. "Finally," she added.
Donna's mother, Sylvia, appeared in the kitchen doorway. "Finally indeed," she agreed. "That postman strike went on long enough."
Donna stood up and flicked through the envelopes, her eyes narrowed in concentration. She relaxed. "They're all yours, mum." She passed them to her mother before grabbing a scarf hanging near the door and wrapping it around her neck.
"Not going out again?" her mother asked with a raised eyebrow.
Donna grinned, opening the door. "Going to get the paper, have a look at the jobs available… you know the drill."
Sylvia nodded. "Can you pick up some washing powder while you're there - I think we're running low."
"Sure thing, mum," Donna replied, closing the door behind her as she stepped out into the chilly air.
Sylvia slowly walked back into the kitchen, grasping the envelopes tightly as she sat down.
"Okay," she muttered to herself. She began glancing through the mail. "Bill, bill… oh, a letter from Harriet, how nice…" she stopped as she glanced at the last envelope. Her hand shook slightly. "No," she whispered. "He wouldn't…" She silently opened it.
Inside the envelope there was one letter, and another smaller, bulging envelope. Sylvia picked up the small envelope and read aloud what was written on the front "To be given to Donna Noble when she is on her deathbed."
She dropped the envelope like it was a poisonous snake and grabbed the letter. She read it quickly, her eyes narrowed as they moved through the paragraph.
"Oh," she whispered. "Oh…"
Donna lay in her hospital bed, her eyes half-closed. For a ninety-eight year old, she seemed much younger then her years; her thick hair still containing vibrant red streaks among the grey.
"You've lived to a remarkable age," one of the nurses commented to her.
Donna's eyes snapped fully open. "But I haven't even reached a hundred," she sighed, the rough edge of her voice still distinguishable. "I haven't had my letter from the Queen yet." She let out a soft chuckle. "Imagine, a girl from Chiswick like me getting a letter from Her Majesty."
The same nurse checked her pulse while smiling sadly. Donna Noble's heart was beginning to fail, and death would surely claim her soon.
Donna tried to sit up. "I haven't got long to live, have I?"
The nurse hesitated, then shook her head. "I'm sorry."
Donna sank back onto her pillow. "Could I… could I have my letter now?"
"I suppose it couldn't hurt," the nurse murmured. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small brown envelope. The paper crackled slightly as Donna took it. She stared at those words again, the words that had aroused her curiosity so long ago, when her mother had passed it onto her. To be given to Donna Noble when she is on her deathbed.
Slowly, Donna opened the envelope with trembling hands and gently pulled out the letter within. Several thick pages of slanted handwriting stared up at her as she began to read.
I hope you lived a long and happy life - unless, of course, you couldn't resist temptation and read this before your time was up.
Donna smiled slightly to herself. She'd thought the letter was from her mother, but this wasn't her handwriting at all. This was from a stranger.
I'm the Doctor. You wouldn't remember me, but I sure remember you.
Donna, long ago, you almost married a man called Lance Bennett. Unfortunately for you, he turned out to be working for the Emperess of the Racnoss - he'd been secretly been feeding you Huon particles, and planning to use you as a food source for newly-hatched Racnoss children. But on your wedding day, you were overcome with such emotion that you ended up in my TARDIS.
"What the bloody hell is a TARDIS?" Donna wondered, causing the nurse's eyes to widen in surprise. Donna read on…
The TARDIS is my spaceship; my spaceship in the shape of a police box. It could transport you through both time and space. Ah, you and I, we had so many memories made in the TARDIS…
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I managed to save you from your fate and I drowned the Racnoss children with water from the Thames. I would have drowned too, but you brought me back to reality and we survived.
You refused to travel with me then, and I spent the year travelling with Martha Jones instead. She left me to look after her family, and the next year I met you again.
Adipose industries, Donna. Do you remember? You almost fell off that building! And you managed to help me save millions of people from all over the world being turned into blobs of walking fat.
Blobs of walking fat? Maybe the person who wrote this was crazy…
It was after that adventure when you agreed to come with me. I took you to Pompeii (before the volcano erupted) as our first trip. Instead of a relaxing visit, we ended up watching people turn to stone and stopped an alien invasion of Earth - we had to kill the people of Pompeii in order to save the world. I would have just left then, but you persuaded me to save a family you'd befriended.
For our next adventure, we arrived on the home planet of the Ood. Once again, you became personally involved with those concerned - in this case, the Ood. You were horrified to learn that such peaceful aliens were being turned into slaves for the human race, but we stopped them, didn't we, Donna? The Ood became free to sing in peace.
Whispers of a song long forgotten entered Donna's head like a gentle breeze…
And then we were called back to Earth. My former companion, Martha Jones, required our assistance to defeat the invading Sontaran army. We may remember the ATMOS system - that was a Sontaran invention, leaking out a gas fatal to all living creatures on Earth, including humans. Your grandfather almost died due to ATMOS, and it was only the quick thinking of your mother that saved him. With help from you and Martha, we was able to defeat the Sontarans.
The words 'Potato-head' sprang into Donna's mind for some reason. She scanned the paragraph - nothing was written about potatoes.
And then, as we were saying goodbye to Martha, the TARDIS took us by force to another time, another planet. There, my DNA was used to create a new person - my daughter, who you named Jenny. I distanced myself from Jenny at first, but you formed a friendship with her and taught me to embrace her as my daughter. Together, we stopped a war between humans and the Hath, although Jenny was lost in the process - she jumped in front of a bullet and saved my life. Thank you, Donna, for persuading me to love her before her death. She was an amazing girl.
A pretty blonde girl, a gunshot…
At our next stop, in the 1920s, we met someone famous. Can you remember, Donna? You actually met Agatha Christie! Not only that, but we soon became involved in a Cluedo-style mystery, and you saved my life after I was poisoned by giving me a pretty large shock. Agatha, you and I solved the mystery, and afterwards I showed you a copy of one of Agatha's books that was printed in the far future.
That startled Donna. She had a great fondness for Agatha Christie's work, a secret that she kept quiet about - how would this person know that?
Our next journey concerned books as well - remember the Library? A whole planet, filled with nothing but books from all periods of history. There we had perhaps our most spectacular escapade so far, as we escaped the Vasta Nerada ('shadow creatures'). We met a group of future archaeologists, including River Song. I tried to get you to safety by teleporting you to the TARDIS, but my plan went wrong and you ended up saved to the Library computer's hard drive. There you lived a seemingly normal life - you married a stutterer called Lee, and had two beautiful children. Alas, that life was fake, but you remembered it fully when River Song sacrificed herself in order to bring back the thousands of people who had been also saved to the hard drive. Your children had never existed, but we weren't sure whether or not Lee had.
Donna felt her blood grow cold. Lee. Her husband had been called Lee, and he'd had a small stutter. She also had two children, who'd grown up now and had children of their own.
Our next trip was the holiday I'd promised you - we had a relaxing time of the beaches of the planet Midnight (relaxing for you, at least…)
And then, while visiting another time, another place, you met a fortune-teller who managed to change your whole life. A parallel world grew up around you when, instead of taking a job at HC Clements, where you met Lance (your previous fiancée), you took a job with your mother's friend. You managed to throw off the parallel world and return to this one by turning left, towards HC Clements. Regrettably, as soon as you came back to this world you'd forgotten most of the details of your parallel world and so couldn't tell me much. But you did remember one thing - a blonde women whispering the words 'Bad Wolf' into your ear.
For a second, it seemed like the words 'Bad Wolf' were repeated over and over in the letter - but when she looked carefully, it was completely normal.
You're getting too involved in this, Donna thought to herself before continuing to read.
The blonde woman I could identify as Rose Tyler.
Rose? Rose was her daughter's name!
She was my companion before I met you, Donna, and I was… I was… very attached to her. But she had become stuck in a parallel world, and her whispered words told me what I needed to know - the end of the Universe had come.
Hastily, we travelled back to Earth, where a milkman revealed that all was fine - and that it was a Saturday (do you remember, I like Saturdays). He was wrong, however. We entered the TARDIS, the ground shook underneath us, and when we opened the TARDIS door for the second time we found ourselves in deep space. The whole planet was gone, and we couldn't find it, so I took you to the Shadow Proclamation, where we discovered that 24 planets had disappeared, including Earth.
That spooked Donna. She could remember, long ago, when she'd received tons of messages from friends informing her of the sky being filled with planets after a massive earthquake. But her family had told her it was a fake - wasn't it?
But it was you, Donna Noble, who realised that the planets hadn't just gone missing from space, but from time. The Adipose breeding planet, Pyrovillia…Both disappeared long ago, as you discovered on our journeys. I remembered a lost planet myself (well, technically a moon, but still a planet in the sense).
So that made 27 missing planets.
And then you mentioned that the bees had disappeared from Earth. I thought it was nothing at first, but then I realised - the bees had returned to their home planet! Using movement waves through space, we were able to track the missing planets to the Medusa Cascade, where the trail suddenly stopped.
I was willing to give up then, but then the mobile phone that Martha Jones had given me rang. I was able to trace the signal, and we had a rocky ride one second into the future. Then, we found the missing planets, tucked away in a little corner of time. We were able to connect to several of my old companions - including Martha, Sarah Jane Smith and Captain Jack Harkness. I remember you mentioned it as being like a space Facebook.
Donna starred at the name Captain Jack Harkness. Her son was called Jack… A laughing voice swam through her mind; an award winning smile and a great body…
Then, our signal was interrupted and someone else talked to us - Davros, the creator of the Daleks. He'd been taken from the Time War, to my shock, and was the one who'd stolen all the planets.
Donna shivered as one word entered her thoughts - one word, repeated over and over…
Well, I ended our little chat with Davros there and then, and we landed in a deserted Earth street. There, I came face-to-face with Rose Tyler, but just as we were about to be reunited, a Dalek shot me. Luckily, Captain Jack arrived and blew the Dalek up, but I had to be dragged into the TARDIS.
Now I must tell you the part I've avoided. There's a reason you nicknamed me 'Spaceman'.
Spaceman. The word came naturally to Donna as she murmured it. Though what spacemen have to do with pinstriped suits and screwdrivers, she didn't know…
I may look like a typical human, but I have two hearts. I have alien DNA.
I am the last remaining member of a noble alien species - the Time Lords.
Something stirred in the back of Donna's head, a whispering voice - "I'm part Time Lord, part…" The next paragraph caught her eye.
I'm sure there's something stirring at the back of your mind now, Donna. Resist it for now - please. I'll explain the reason later.
Resist it? Why? As she poured over the letter, her eyes picking out every detail, every word, she found herself believing what was written. She found herself automatically trusting the writer of this letter.
Being a Time Lord, I have the power to regenerate - to heal myself after death and live again. But in order to do that, I have to change my appearance.
Luckily for me, though, I was able to heal myself and then, before changing, channel the regeneration energy into the hand that I keep near the TARDIS console. That hand used to belong to me, but it was cut off soon after my last regeneration, and I was able to grow a new one (resist the memories, Donna…).
The feeling at the back of her mind was getting stronger, but once again Donna ignored it, concentrating on the words.
So, this time I could stay in my current body - I love this body, it just feels me. But then the TARDIS was transported to the Dalek ship, with you, me, Rose and Jack inside. We were ordered to exit the TARDIS, and Rose, Jack and I obliged. But you - you were trapped when the door swung shut on you, Donna, and the TARDIS fell through a trapdoor, with you still inside, and began to burn at the core of the Crucible. I tried to save you, I begged the Daleks to put me in your place… but they did nothing, and I was forced to watch as you and the TARDIS were destroyed.
I honestly thought you were dead, and the Daleks took Rose and I as prisoners. Jack tried to shoot one and was killed - but Jack is immortal (long story) and was able to find help.
I don't know what happened to you after the TARDIS disappeared - but Rose and I were taken to Davros, and after threatening Davros, all my companions were transported to the same deck as us. Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Captain Jack Harness, Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith all ended up imprisoned as well.
All these names… they were like the characters of a childhood book - loved dearly, but long forgotten.
And then the TARDIS materialised in front of us and out rushed - me! I realised then what had happened, that you must have touched the hand next to the console and caused a spontaneous biological metacrisis, creating another me from that hand. I didn't yet realise the full consequences of your actions.
Usually, this would have confused Donna completely. But as she read the paragraph, she found that she understood it… she could picture it, too…
Anyway, the second me tried to stop the Daleks, but Davros stopped him. You ran out and, having no idea what to do, Davros stopped you too, throwing you back against the console.
Keep the memories of this adventure back, Donna - soon you can let them out. But not yet.
So Davros forced you back. And it was then - then that you fully realised what had happened when you touched that hand. A bit of you went into the other Doctor, giving him one heart instead of two - but a bit of me went into you, too. You had the best part of me - my mind. The whole universe opened up to you, the controls in front of you suddenly made sense. You were able to turn Davros' power back on him, control the movement of all the Daleks, and save us all. You didn't did me to explain to you how you could do it, you just knew. That night there were three Doctors - me, the second Doctor created from my hand, and you. You had become part Time Lord, part human.
Part Time Lord, part human… the words gave Donna a thrill as she read them.
The other Doctor had been created with less mercy than me. He arranged the controls and destroyed the Crucible. I tried to save Davros, but he rejected me and we escaped without him.
Then we had the problem of getting the Earth back home. By using Torchwood, Sarah Jane's computer (Mr Smith) and her robot dog K9, we were able to use the TARDIS to drag the world back to its original place in the solar system.
We then said goodbye to Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha and Mickey, dropping them off in London before heading for Bad Wolf Bay in Norway so that Jackie and Rose could cross to their parallel world. I made them take the second me with them - it wasn't too hard to convince Rose, once she'd realised that both of us were one and the same and that the second me was physically human. It was hard on me saying goodbye to her, but I knew that she would be happy.
And then, it was just you and me. Doctor and Donna, off on another adventure. You suggested several places we could go to - with my mind, you knew the universe back-to-front. Oh, how I would have loved to keep travelling with you.
"And I with you," Donna whispered. She was almost utterly convinced that what she was reading was the truth… it felt right, somehow. "But what made you leave me?"
But we couldn't. You were human, with the combined minds of Doctor and Donna. Your human body made you too frail to carry such a mind, and you began to burn up. You were going to die, Donna - you realised it before I did.
But I wouldn't let that happen.
Despite your protests, I placed one hand on either side of your head - and I took away all your memories of me. You collapsed, and I took you back to your family. I explained everything to your mother and grandfather that night. They knew that no one could ever mention anything to do with me or our adventures, or your Time Lord mind would come back and destroy you. When you woke, you had no memories of me - you have no idea how much it hurt when you simply dismissed me, believing me to be simple John Smith.
So her family knew all about this? But they'd never mentioned it… but maybe this was the reason why…
And John Smith? She remembered the name, but she couldn't remember him personally. Wasn't he a friend of her mother's?
Everything I've written above happened, Donna. I remember it all, but this is why you remember none. I did what I had to do, and I hope you had a long, happy life without me.
Your friend forever,
Donna stared at the signature in wonder. That constant stirring kept on at the back of her mind grew, but as the letter said, she ignored it. All that… it couldn't have happened. It wasn't possible.
"It did happen," a voice said softly from the side of her bed. Two hands touched her head, one on either side of her forehead. "This is my gift to you, Donna Noble. I want you to remember."
Donna gasped as memories flooded her head. Memories of spaceships, aliens, different times and places throughout space… and most of all, that of a tall man with spiky brown hair, dressed in a pinstripe suit and a brown coat, who she trusted with all her life.
"Doctor," Donna breathed, her voice cracking with emotion. "Doctor, you… you came back."
The same voice answered her. "I would never forgive myself if I left you in the dark forever."
The hands gently lifted from her head as the Doctor moved to sit on the edge of the hospital bed. Now it wasn't just memories flooding through Donna's head… there was something else, that constant nagging feeling growing stronger. "Doctor?"
"Yes, Donna?" the Doctor reached out and laid his hand on Donna's. "What is it?"
"Before… before I die…" Donna sighed deeply. "I'd like to see the TARDIS one last time."
The Doctor nodded. He stood up, and offered her his hand. "I'd be ashamed if you didn't want to see it again," he grinned.
Donna grasped his hand and stood up, leaning heavily on him. The Doctor placed an arm around her, steadying her as they slowly walked out of the ward. The Doctor led Donna down the corridor and then into a closet.
There it was, just as she remembered it; her breath caught in her throat as she recognised the police box-shaped TARDIS. The Doctor smiled and pushed open the door.
Donna took a step forwards, smiling to herself as she ambled into the TARDIS for the first time in many, many years. It was just the same as she remembered it.
"Bigger on the inside," she murmured to herself as she neared the console. She reached out a hand and gently brushed it against the controls.
Donna gasped as the memories she'd been holding back flooded her mind. Another mind appeared, working alongside hers, informing her which lever did what on the TARDIS, how the Chameleon Circuit could be fixed, how many minutes a Bohug from the planet Casez could stay underwater for…
Donna felt a hand grasp hers. She stared up into the Doctor's face, tears streaming down her own - tears of happiness, but also of pain. Her time was nearly up.
The Doctor seemed to know this too. He reached out and hugged her. "Donna," he whispered, smiling gently as he pulled back. Tears glistened in his wise, brown eyes. "I just want you to know - we made an amazing team. You were brilliant. You are brilliant."
Donna smiled back. She could feel her mind on the verge of exploding, and her heart slowing. "Watch it, Spaceman," she whispered, blinking back a fresh stream of tears. "You were brilliant too."
Slowly, for the last time…
Donna Noble closed her eyes.