Title: A Noble Gift (1/1)
Characters: Doctor, Donna,
Word Count: 2900
Summary: The Doctor decides to give Donna a parting gift.
Spoilers: Through Journey's End.
Authors Notes: This idea has been drifting through my brain since I first watched Journey's End a few days ago.
A huge thank you to gioiamia for the unexpected and unsolicited beta. Your comments and suggestions made this SO much better than it would have been otherwise. Also, thank you for just being so incredibly awesome.
Also, a quick thanks to Rumpelsnorcack for the writing sessions, excitement and encouragement.
A Noble Gift
The Doctor watched Wilf Noble salute him before he closed the door to the TARDIS and circled the control centre alone. His hearts were filled with a deep aching sadness. Though leaving Rose in the parallel universe again had torn him to pieces, he found consolation in the fact that she would have happiness with his half-human self. There was no consolation for the way he'd just left Donna, however, and the pain of it was eating away at him.
Without either of them really noticing, Donna had become just what he'd asked for on that night so many months ago – a mate. Someone he could trust, and laugh with and chat with. Someone who could help him make the tough choices and tell him when he was being a daft git. Donna had been all those things and more. She'd blossomed before his eyes, transforming from a frightened, shouting temp who was angry at the world to a confident, intelligent, witty traveler who could marvel at the universe one minute and help him save it in the next.
She had been brilliant on this final adventure and he was so very, very proud of her. He fiddled with the controls on the TARDIS and smiled as he remembered the way she'd taken to being a Time Lord. He'd thought he'd lost her when Davros attacked her and instead it had been her finest hour; the moment when she surprised them all and saved the day. For one fleeting moment he had hoped it could be like that with her forever. But even as the thought first hit him, he knew it couldn't last, knew that her human brain would not be able to handle a time lord consciousness for long.
For once in his long life he had hoped with all his hearts that he would be wrong, but he wasn't at all surprised when she began to slip. He shuddered as he replayed the moment in his head and he again heard her screams of protest. Taking her memories like that had broken his hearts most of all and he wished so badly that it didn't have to be this way. He'd taken away the wonderful person she had become. Wilf's words rang through his head, "But she was better with you!" and the Doctor felt the ache in his chest grow bigger. If only there were another way he could help her to tap into that part of herself without risking her memory returning. The thought of just leaving her here to resume her life as a clueless temp seemed unconscionable to him and he knew that he needed to do something for her. But what?
Suddenly it hit him, the perfect idea. He scrambled to the TARDIS computer and typed in some complicated commands. He frowned for the briefest of seconds, then whooped with joy when the next button he pressed granted him access to the computer from The Library. For a moment he forgot himself, and turned to his left to share a celebratory hug with Donna. He quickly shoved his disappointment aside and began his search of The Library database. His fingers flew across the keyboard as he searched, pausing periodically to mutter to himself when his efforts didn't return the result he was hoping for.
Finally, he had exhausted his options, narrowing it down to four possibilities. "Blimey!" the Doctor grumbled, running his hands through his hair. "So much for a short, quick trip."
He sighed and eyed the list of names and addresses in his hand. Resigned to a long day, he programmed the TARDIS for the home planet of the first name on the list: Matthew Li Cheng.
The TARDIS landed with a thud and the Doctor soon found himself walking down city street crowded with several different races of both humans and aliens. He quickly located Skyline Way and knocked on the door of Matthew's flat.
There was no answer so the Doctor knocked again, more insistently. The third time he knocked he heard feet shuffling toward the door and a sleepy looking young man with long hair and an earing poked his head out.
"Yeah?" he grumbled
"Well, you're friendly," the Doctor said brightly. "You wouldn't happen to be Matthew Li Cheng by any chance?"
The man narrowed his eyes, "Yeah. Who's asking?"
"I'm the Doctor."
Matthew was suddenly alert. "You're a doctor? Why are you here? Oh my God, did something happen to Trudy?" His eyes were wide with panic.
"No, no, no. Nothing like that. Everyone's fine. Weeelll, Donna isn't but --" He trailed off, watching Matthew's face for any sign of recognition at the name.
Matthew merely gaped at him, clearly baffled. "Who are you?"
"I told you, I'm the Doctor." He shrugged. Clearly this was not the person he was looking for. "Anyway, sorry, I think I have the wrong person. Sorry to bother you."
With that, the Doctor spun around and walked away, his long coat flapping at his heels.
The next planet, where Leslie Warner lived, held an underground city. Over 100 levels held dozens of shops, flats and other dwellings. "Magnificent," the Doctor murmured to himself as he descended to level 96. He made a mental note to return to this planet sometime so he could explore it properly.
Leslie Warner's front door was round and set deep into a stone wall. The woman who answered his knock was short and cheerful, with round, bright blue eyes and a mop of curly brown hair. She said her name was Alyanna and she invited him in for a cup of tea while he waited for her husband to return.
The Doctor knew instantly, that once again he had the wrong person, but seeing as how he loved to take tea, he accepted the invitation anyway.
After a lovely chat with Alyanna and Leslie, the Doctor departed, in high spirits despite his lack of success. He took the clear lift back to level one, whistling as he watched the different levels fly by. Donna would love it here, he thought, suddenly sobering and remembering his mission.
With renewed determination, he resumed his post at the TARDIS controls and promptly began the journey to Liam Donovan's home. Liam lived on a space station at the edge of the galaxy and the Doctor couldn't seem to stop himself from exclaiming over the semi-advanced technology that powered it. It was nothing as sophisticated as Time Lord technology, of course, but for a human invention, it wasn't half–bad.
He pulled himself away from the computer he had been examining when he heard someone shouting, "Liam, Liam, come quick!"
The Doctor followed the voice to a cavernous control room. People were dashing about, pressing buttons and pulling levers. Ordinarily, the Doctor would have been fascinated by all this - he loved pressing buttons, but today he zeroed in on a large machine that was set along the back wall. It was making a high-pitched whining sound and there were flashes of mauve light emitting from it. A turquoise creature with eight eyes and five arms was flailing in front of it, clearly trying to make it stop, all while continuing to call out for Liam.
A man suddenly came running over, he entered a sequence of codes and the machine fell silent. "What happened, Salu?" he asked, turning to the creature, who was now in near hysterics.
"I don't know, Liam. One minute I was entering the numbers like you said, and the next minute it was going berserk."
"It's okay, we'll figure out what happened." Liam assured him. He frowned at the machine. "That's very strange..."
"You should check the plumbing. In my experience, the key to answering these kinds of mysteries is often in the plumbing." The Doctor smiled as he approached.
Liam gave the Doctor a questioning look but got to his knees and pulled off the panel that led to the wiring. Sure enough, there was a wire that was completely frayed. "Wow, you were right. You're brilliant."
"I know." The Doctor smiled proudly; he loved it when he was right. Liam stood up and the Doctor gave him a quick once over. He was a tall, handsome man with blue eyes and light hair. "You're ginger," he exclaimed, trying not to feel jealous of the mans fortunate hair colour.
"Pardon me?" Liam eyed the doctor, perplexed.
"Your hair. It's ginger. I always wanted ginger coloured hair. Maybe eleven will be the magic number," he mused, running his hand through his own hair.
"I'm sorry, but what?"
The Doctor shook his head to clear his thoughts and smiled. "Never mind. Let's move on. I'm the Doctor, are you Liam Donovan?"
Liam blinked, startled by the abrupt change in topic. "Uh... yeah. That's me."
"Excellent." The Doctor cut right to the chase. "When you were saved in The Library did you by an chance happen to end up married to a lovely lady named Donna Noble?"
Liam gaped at him as though he were mad. "What? No. Never heard of anyone by that name."
The Doctor sighed. He liked this one, he was smart, but obviously he wasn't Lee. "Oh. Well, I'm sorry to have bothered you."
"No problem, I hope you find whoever it is that you're looking for. And thanks for the tip about the thermobalist regulator."
"You are most welcome. Always check the plumbing first. Remember that." The Doctor chuckled and headed back to the TARDIS with a smile on his face. He only had a single name left on his list and he was confident that Leopold would be the one.
Once the Doctor was back in the TARDIS, he bustled around the console manipulating the controls until he was flying through the time vortex. He programmed his new destination and within moments he was landing on another planet he'd never visited before. He opened the door of the TARDIS and allowed himself a minute to take in his new surroundings. He was in the middle of a city and yet it didn't look at all like any city on Earth. He was staring at dozens of houses made of trees. Not in the way humans on earth build houses using different, processed parts of a tree, but in a more organic way. The trees were still alive and standing and simply had houses built into them.
He grinned. "Brilliant," he exclaimed to no one in particular. "Surprising how much ingenuity humans can have when they want to." He laughed at his own wit before turning back to the task at hand. He locked the TARDIS and after a quick glance at the paper he was holding began to walk down the street.
"Maple Tree Lane," he murmured to himself as he meandered through this strange civilization. He passed several other beings, many of them human, as they hurried past, barely giving the Doctor a second glance.
Finally he located the street he was looking for and approached a house. This one was built into a maple tree and all the doors and windows were designed to reflect the shape of the leaf. The doctor couldn't help but admire the beautiful craftsmanship of the design as he strode up the path and knocked on the door.
An instant later the door opened and a tall man with dark hair answered.
"H-h-h-h-hello?" he stuttered, eyeing the Doctor curiously.
"Hi, Leopold McAvoy, I'm the Doctor, may I come in?" He didn't wait for a response, and instead let himself in to the quaint entryway.
Leopold looked puzzled. "H-how do you know my n-n-n-name? M-most people call me Lee."
Bingo, thought the Doctor. He was overjoyed that he'd finally found the right person. "All right, Lee. Can we sit down? Then I'll explain why I'm here."
Lee shrugged and closed the door. He led the doctor the living room.
Once they were both seated, the Doctor spoke, "You've never met me, but I think you've met a friend of mine. Donna. Donna Noble?"
Lee brightened visibly. "You know Donna? Is she here?" His voice was excited, and miraculously stutter-free.
The Doctor shook his head sadly, "No, she's back on earth. That's kind of the reason I'm here."
Lee blinked at him, perplexed. "Oh." He sounded terribly disappointed and the Doctor took it as a good sign.
The Doctor took a deep breath and launched into an abbreviated, yet long and detailed description of the battle with Davros and Donna's resulting memory loss. "So essentially she remembers nothing of the last year when she traveled with me. She doesn't even know who I am. She doesn't have a clue that she saved the universe and that for a time, she was the most important woman in the cosmos. And she can't ever remember."
"Wh- why are you telling me this?" Lee was visibly upset by what he was hearing.
"Because I can't stand the thought of Donna going back to that angry, frustrated temp that she used to be. She's so much more than that. She deserves so much more than that. And I think you can give it to her."
"She never forgot you, Lee. She was heartbroken when we left here and she thought you didn't exist. But she never forgot you. She talked about going back to the Library one day to try and find you but we ran out of time. She ran out of time. So I'm here to take you to her, if that's what you want."
"But she w-won't know me."
"Yes, but her feelings for you are still there, Lee. I believe that if she meets you again, she'll be drawn to you – she just won't know why."
"So, you'll ju-just leave me there?"
"No, no, no, no, no. That would raise too many questions." The Doctor grimaced before continuing, "I'd set you up with an Earth identity and then we'd arrange to have you meet her coincidentally. From there, it's all up to you."
Lee was silent for several seconds before looking up at the Doctor and smiling brightly. "Okay, I'll do it."
The Doctor stood excitedly. "Brilliant! Let's go." He smiled for the first time since leaving Bad Wolf Bay. He couldn't give Donna her life of adventure but he could give her this - a happy ending, just like he'd given Rose.
Lee quickly gathered a few belongings and shoved them into a bag. He appeared before the doctor, "I'm ready."
"Grrrrrreat." The Doctor opened the door and skipped out into the sunshine, his happiness for Donna temporarily over riding his sorrow and loneliness. "Alons-y, Lee!" He called behind him, grinning as he sped toward the TARDIS.
The Doctor leaned against the TARDIS as he watched the scene unfolding across the street.
Donna was strolling through the park, muttering as she walked home from work. Lee stood up from the bench he'd been sitting on and strolled toward her. He stumbled, managing to catch himself, but not before spilling the entire contents of his bag on the path.
Donna stopped immediately. "Are you okay?"
Lee laughed, "Y-y-y-yes, I'm f-f-f-fine."
Donna eyed him curiously as she bent to help him clean up the mess. "Do I know you?" She squinted her eyes, as though she was trying to place him in her memory but nothing came to her.
"I don't think so." Lee squatted beside her and began shoving things back into the bag.
They both reached for a pink highlighter and their hands brushed against each other. Donna looked at him in surprise, her heart racing from the jolt she'd just experienced. Their eyes met and she felt her breath catch in her as she felt another jolt, this one stronger than the first. She looked away, trying to breathe as she regained her senses and picked up the last of the items on the ground. She handed him the notebook and stood, smiling at him.
Lee smiled back. "Th-thank you for your h-help --|
"Donna, Donna Noble," she supplied.
"It's n-ni-nice to meet you D-Donna Noble. I'm Lee. M-may I buy you a cup of coffee to th-th-thank you?"
Donna shrugged. "Sure, why not. I know this great little place around the corner."
Lee slung his bag onto his shoulder and followed Donna. He paused for a second when she wasn't watching and turned to where the Doctor had parked the TARDIS. He waved and the Doctor winked at him once before turning and disappearing into his not-so-little blue box.
The Doctor hummed softly as he fiddled with the controls and contemplated his next destination as he thought about how pleased he was that things had worked out so smoothly. It wouldn't stop the aching in his chest, and it wouldn't make him miss either of them any less, but knowing that Rose and Donna were both happy now brought him a sense of peace that he desperately needed.