Shortly before noon, the Doctor left the cottage. Wilfred was still sleeping, but the Time Lord assured Donna that he would be all right. However, she remained anxious and agitated until he promised her that he would return later to check on her grandfather.
True to his word, the Doctor reappeared just after three o'clock.
"He hasn't woken up yet," she informed him, clearly worried. "I didn't know if I should try to wake him, but you said he didn't have concussion, he was just tired, so I thought it best to let him sleep—'
The Doctor placed a reassuring hand upon her shoulder. "That was good, Donna. Rest is what he needs most right now. I'll go have a look at him. Why don't you prepare some lunch? I'm sure he'll be hungry when he wakes up."
He could see that she wanted to linger outside Wilfred's door while he went in, but he urged her back into the kitchen. Reluctantly she complied. When he was certain that she had gone, he reached into his pocket and removed a syringe. He slid up the old man's sleeve and injected the pale green contents.
Wilfred jerked slightly then opened his eyes. "Doctor? What're you doing?" he asked blearily.
Ignoring the question, he responded, "How are you feeling?"
Two could play at that game. "How's Donna? She all right?"
He pocketed the empty syringe. "She's fine."
"What's that? What have you given me?"
The Doctor sat down on the chair beside the bed. "Donna's lost two years of time with you. I've given them back."
Wilfred's quizzical look prompted additional explanation.
"The tumor's shrinking even as we speak. I can't cure it completely, but I can give you some more time. And in two years, well, who knows what sort of new treatments may be available?"
The elderly man blinked back astonished tears. "Thank you."
The Time Lord smiled. "You're welcome."
A few clinking sounds drew their attention to the kitchen. "That Donna?" asked Wilfred.
"She's making lunch. I told her you'd be hungry."
"You know, I am." He inhaled deeply. "D'you think she still remembers how to make Toad in the Hole?"
"As long as she learned more than two years ago, yes."
"Have you told her about the memories?"
The Doctor nodded. "She's actually doing pretty well with it."
"Does she know what she's missed?"
"I told her what she needs to know."
Wilfred attempted to elicit further information with an enquiring look, but the Doctor only said, "Sometimes we need just enough knowledge to understand what has to be done but keep us from doing any more."
That cryptic statement was all the Time Lord was willing to offer. Wilfred had the strangest feeling that the words were not intended solely for his granddaughter.
Inside the small ship, the creatures' barbels quivered ardently. They had downloaded the information extracted from the one called the Doctor. To their considerable surprise, they had found only briefs bits of memories.
They were relieved to discover that their machine had extracted sufficient knowledge for them to harvest and utilize artron energy. Time travel was now within their grasp. However, the next batch of data had left all four Chondrosians stunned.
They had seen terrible things: bloody battles and screeching, murderous phantasms; countless lives lost; incredible anguish that moved even their stoic hearts. And encompassing all of the carnage, madness, and agony was the shimmer of temporal shifting, the dangerous lure of changing events meant to remain on a constant and irrevocable path.
Their leader finally found the words that all four had struggled to call forth. "We can prevent the disaster and salvage our planet, but we must destroy this knowledge once that is achieved."
His plea met no argument. The Chondrosians understood fully what needed to be done.
Sylvia parked the car, glancing at her father in the passenger seat. He nodded somberly and got out of the car. Both walked into the house with measured steps. Donna had just returned from work. She'd kicked off her shoes and plopped down in front of the telly. She looked up when she heard the door.
"How'd it go?" she asked as soon as they were inside.
Before either could answer, a sharp knock drew their attention to the front door. Donna got up to answer it.
"Oi! What're you doin' here?" she asked, grinning up at the Doctor. She took his arm and pulled him inside. "Mum, this is him, the doctor we met in the Hebrides."
Sylvia nodded curtly. "Doctor."
"Didn't think we'd see you again so soon," Donna said.
The Doctor smiled. "Well, I thought I'd just drop in and see how you're both doing."
"A house call. He makes house calls!" Donna told her mother delightedly.
"I don't make a habit of it, usually. But I happened to be in the area." He walked over to Wilfred and shook the old man's hand. "You're looking well."
"I'm feelin' pretty good, too," Wilfred replied, giving the Time Lord a firm handshake. "Had that MRI today, like you suggested."
The Time Lord nodded. "Right. Wish I'd been able to do one that night, but the machinery was needed elsewhere. How'd it go?"
"Fine. Just like you thought it'd be."
Sylvia reached for the Doctor's hand and grasped it tightly. "Thank you."
"And did you show my scan to the neurologist?" Donna asked, her eyes flicking to the large envelop in her grandfather's hand.
Wilfred cleared his throat. "Yes, sweetheart. He agreed with the Doctor. Damage's been repaired, and there's nothing to worry about, nothing permanent. You're going to be just fine." He passed the empty envelop back to the Time Lord.
"He didn't think I'd need any tests?" she persisted.
"No. He said you'd received excellent treatment, and that it was fortunate the Doctor was there."
"Well," Sylvia said, "I think this calls for a celebration. Dinner at Cappricio's?"
Donna switched off the television; the sounds of opera quickly faded away. "You'll join us, won't you?" she asked the Doctor.
"Yes," Sylvia urged, "won't you? I mean, if you have the time."
"I think I can spare a couple of hours," he replied.
After slipping on her shoes, Donna looped her arm through his. "I'm glad you stopped by. You know you're welcome here any time you're near Chiswick."
"I hope," she continued, "that it'll be fairly often. Seems like you and I could be good mates."
"Yes," the Doctor agreed, "I think we could."
Wilfred did not miss the poignant yet sincere smile that illuminated the Time Lord's face. As he reached for Sylvia's hand, the old man smiled, too.