And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I have completed my first multi-chapter fic, indulged my inner shipper, and failed my exams by writing instead of revising. Hope it was worth it. And thank you to anyone reading and/or reviewing. I don't know why you would review without reading, but...
"Why did you come back?"
Every possible answer ran through his head, from the flippant to the melodramatic. But in the end, he settled for the undiluted truth.
"Because I love you."
She shook her head, laughing slightly. She was laughing at him. Was that good?
"No, I meant why did you come back now?" She waved her arm vaguely, indicating his new form. And that question had him cornered. Why was he back in her life now? Why, upon looking in the mirror to discover the face he had seen as he was removing her memories, did he decide that she would accept him more now than she had before?
"Donna... Last time I saw you, you turned me down. No, just-" He held up a hand to stop her unspoken protest. "Just let me finish. You had to stay behind because you had responsibilities. And I accepted that. But being...Lee," he stumbled over the word, "being Lee, I was with you in the Library and I saw your life. It was, not ordinary but... normal. House with carpets, 2.4 kids... and I wanted that. I wanted to be there, with you, having that."
He couldn't judge her expression. Eyes on his face, narrowed like they usually were when she was thinking hard. "What about the TARDIS?"
Ah. The one sticking point in his plan. Time to try the innocent approach. "What about her?"
She didn't buy it. Of course she didn't. She knew him far too well for that. "Don't play games with me, Spaceman. You can't stay in one place for the rest of your life. You'd go loopy."
He had no answer, except to dimly register that she had for the first time called him Spaceman. And then she said the last thing he'd expected.
"Let me see her."
The TARDIS was just like she remembered. It was unnerving actually, like stepping into your old home so long after vacating it and finding that the new occupants kept your family photos on the mantlepiece. She traced the console lightly, relaxing to the sound that was less of a hoover, more of an absent-minded hum whilst doing the housework. The Doctor's words, not hers.
Speaking of which... she looked furtively at him under the pretence of examining the scanner. The DoctorDonna in her mind rushed forwards to translate the words on screen, but her attention was solely on the man nervously bobbing in the doorway as if waiting for her to announce the results of an inspection.
Memories washed over her. The places and the people, things they'd said or done, but always him at the forefront of everything. Bouncing around, grinning madly, holding her hand...
And her mind was made up.
"We're taking things slowly."
He looked perplexed at her words, but let her continue.
"I know the whole 'marriage and kids' thing has already happened, but that was just a computer getting funny ideas. We're mates, Spaceman, you got that? Before anything else, we're mates."
His eyes widened as he realised what she was implying. "You're coming with me? But you said..."
"I know what I said. And I did have responsibilities - Mum and Grandad. But now..." she let the rest of her sentence hang, allowing him to work out the rest as her vision blurred around the edges.
To his credit, he looked devastated for her. But the hope in his voice was self-evident. "I meant what I said. I lo-"
"I know." she cut him off abruptly, then allowed a small smile to creep across her face as she moved round the console to face him. "And just so you know, Spaceman..."
He was barely breathing now. "Yes, Donna?" he whispered softly as she leaned in.