Donna looked around the mausoleum skeptically.
"You know, when you said 'let's go to France', this wasn't what I had in mind."
The Doctor looked around the gloomy interior of the room. The dust showed up clearly in the light of the stained glass window.
"It's quite nice in here," he said casually.
Donna gave him a pointed look.
"It's a tomb," she said.
The Doctor shoved his hands deep into his pockets.
"Well, I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the view from the window really is quite lovely."
Donna rolled her eyes.
"You can't see out the window, it's stained glass," she pointed out.
"I like stained glass," the Doctor said with a shrug. He walked between the rows of tombs, each with a stone figure of the person who eternally resided inside.
"Blimey. It's a bit spooky in here," Donna said. "Wouldn't want to be caught here after dark. What we doing here, Doctor?"
The Doctor didn't answer, but instead kept walking, examining each tomb until he finally stopped in front of one. He brushed the dust away from the inscription.
"Hello again," he said softly.
"Friend of yours?" Donna asked, coming to stand beside him.
"Yeah," the Doctor responded simply.
"Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson," Donna read the inscription. "Who was she?"
The Doctor sighed, a little sadly.
"An old friend. You might know her better by her title," he pointed to the rest of the inscription.
Donna's eyes grew wide.
"La Marquise de Pompadour. Mme de Pompadour? You knew her?"
"Yeah," the Doctor said again. It struck Donna that he looked tired all of the sudden. "I was her imaginary childhood friend. I watched her grow up, albeit in jumps. Reinette. The Little Queen. I saved her from killer robots, but I couldn't save her from time."
"There's something else written here," Donna said, squinting at the writing carved into the stone. " 'On the slow path. Her heart belonged to the King of France, and her Lonely Angel.' What does that mean, lonely angel?"
"Me," the Doctor said, his eyes still fixed on the stone image. "It means me. She once called me her Lonely Angel. She was a remarkable woman. I said I would come back for her, and take her to see the stars. I came back, but it was too late. She was gone."
"I'm sorry," Donna said, laying her hand on his arm. The Doctor smiled appreciatively. He put one hand on the cool stone of the tomb.
"I'm sorry too," he said. "I'm sorry, Reinette. I meant to come back for you. I always mean to come back for them."
He reached into his pocket, and pulled out a long, curved object. A banana. Gently, he placed it onto the tomb.
"Thanks for everything, Reinette," he said softly. "I think your slow path was the better way anyways."
With one last long look, he walked off.
Donna looked at the banana, and then at the retreating back of the Doctor.
"Weren't there any flowers in the TARDIS?" she asked, catching up to him. "I could have helped you find some. You didn't have to give her fruit."
The Doctor smiled.
"Reinette knows what it means."
He offered Donna his hand, and she took it. Together, they strolled out of the mausoleum.
"Doctor?" Donna said when they were out in the wintry sunshine once more.
"Hmmm?" the Doctor answered absently.
"If you ever visit my grave, please bring flowers and not fruit," Donna said.
The Doctor laughed out loud. His whole demeanor changed, and it was like he had shed years from his face.
"What do you have against bananas?" he asked. "They're a top-rate fruit. One of the best in the universe in fact. And great at parties."
Donna frowned at his last remark, but chose not to comment on it. It was probably one of those things she didn't want to know.
"Besides," the Doctor said lightly. "I very much doubt I'll have to visit your grave. Aren't you going to live forever, or something like that?"
"Yeah, something like that," Donna agreed, joining in his laughter.
"It would take more than the ordinary dangers of the universe to fell the indomitable Donna Noble," the Doctor continued.
"You've got that right."
Donna was on her way to work. It was just another temp job at a legal firm, but it was good work, and it paid the bills. And thankfully, she didn't have to life with her mum any more. Granddad she could handle, but her mum was driving her barmy. She wanted better work, but when it came down to it, the only thing she knew how to do was temp.
She walked up to the bus shelter, leaned against the outside of it, and waited. The bus always took forever in the mornings. She had her own car, but with the price of petrol these days, she was better off taking the transit to work.
A tall, skinny man in a brown suit and an impossibly long multi-coloured scarf walked up to the stop. He was holding a huge bouquet of flowers in his arms. The flowers were a riot of colour, quite in contrast to the gray, black, and brown tones of the frosty morning.
"Lucky girl, whoever she is," Donna thought to herself, eyeing the flowers. There were all kinds: big ones and small ones of every colour and shape, like nothing she had ever seen before. She wondered idly where he had got them.
The man smiled at her with a big toothy smile that seemed to spread all over his face, and make it light up. He looked vaguely familiar.
"Donna Noble," he said.
Donna looked up at his face, surprised and a little embarrassed to be caught staring.
"How do you know my name?" she demanded.
"These are for you," he said, handing her the flowers.
"No way, Mister. I don't take flowers from blokes I meet on the street. You could be a stalker, or a drug dealer, or… anything," she shoved the flowers back at him.
A hurt look flitted over the man's face, and Donna couldn't help wondering if perhaps she was wrong, and she did know him after all. But then the look was gone, replaced by that same smile. He was quite a handsome bloke, after all.
"I was told to give them to you. Your name is on the card." He gave them back to her again. He turned, and walked rapidly away, his long brown coat flapping in the wind, and his red converses making footprints in the snow.
"Red converses with a brown suit? Weirdo. Got to be," Donna said to herself. She looked down at her flowers, fully intending to throw them away. But they were so lovely she couldn't bring herself to. And they looked harmless enough. Although, she could hardly identify a flower among them. She fumbled for the card.
"Donna Noble. In fulfillment of a promise," she read.
The flowers were lovely and exotic, she had to admit. And after all, how long had it been since a handsome bloke had given her flowers? How long had it been since anyone had given her flowers?
Donna buried her nose in them and took a deep breath. They smelled heavenly. Something in the midst of the flowers caught her eye. She withdrew, staring at it in total amazement at its being there. There, in the centre of the flowers, hidden from view unless one came quite close and looked hard, was a banana.
Author's Note: This story is in memory of the one, the only, the late, great Donna Noble. I miss her so much! She was so brilliant, and now she can never remember any of it. Donna deserves to be remembered by the Doctor, and by us for the amazing companion she was.
This idea came to me while I was trying to write the Versailles chapter of my story New New Life. I knew that the banana thing wasn't appropriate then, but it would make a nice Donna story.
Many thanks to I am the Lev for not only helping me with the development of the idea, but also being my beta. You are the best!