Title- Our Journey Goes On
Characters/Pairings- 10 and Donna, shippy if you squint r e a l l y hard, but I mostly intended it as friendship.
Summary- If Russel T. Davies REALLY loved us, the end of Journey's End might've looked a little more like this...
A/N- As far as I'm concerned, we're just saying "screw you" to all that nonsense with the metacrisis-overload in Donna's mind in JE, because I just don't like it. Therefore, I refuse to acknowledge it.
As the TARDIS door closed and the familiar hum of ancient engines filled the air, leaving Pete Tyler's universe behind, Donna bustled around the console, mentally connecting the visual before her with the catalogue of functions she had buzzing in her head. Primary, secondary and tertiary stabilizers, manual-drive thrusters, atmospheric indicators, radiation indicators, gravity locks... The TARDIS' central controls were practically a work of art once you knew what they all did!
"I thought we'd try the planet Felspoon," she said, flipping the auto-pilot function off. "Just 'cause. What a good name- Felspoon! Apparently it's got mountains that sway in the breeze. Mountains that move! Can you imagine?"
"How do you know that?" the Doctor asked grimly.
"Because it's in your head," Donna said, grinning. "And if it's in your head, it's in mine!"
His face became, if possible, even more grave than possible. "And how does that feel?"
"Brilliant! Fantastic! Molto bene! Great big universe, packed into my brain! You know you could fix that chameleon circuit if you just tried hot-wiring the fragment links and superceding the binary control board?"
The Doctor sighed. "I know," he said. "I like the police box, though. It's... unique."
"It is, at that!" Donna said with a smirk. "Alright, so then, Felspoon?"
He nodded. "If you like."
At last, his melancholy expression registered. "Are you alright?" she asked.
"'Course I'm alright!" he said, and though the attitude was convincing, it didn't quite reach his eyes and Donna knew, instinctively, that something was wrong.
"No, you're not," Donna said firmly. "Doctor... what's wrong?" When he didn't answer right away, she took a stab in the dark. "Is it... Rose? It, must've been hard to watch her and you- the other you, I mean..."
The Doctor shook his head, cutting her off. "It's not that," he said. "That's... well, it was easier to say goodbye than I thought it would've been." He leaned against the railing, eyes trained on the fluctuations of the TARDIS central control. "Earth-time, it's only been eighteen... no, nineteen months since the battle at Canary Wharf, when I lost her. But it's actually been longer for me. Couple years, as far as I can tell. And all that time, I was missing her; I'll always miss her. But... she was just Rose. I relied on her so much; she was the first friend I'd had, the first person I'd loved since the Time War, and I built her up in my head to be more than she really was. Seeing her again made me realize that."
"So, then... you're happy with how that turned out?" It was a concept she had a hard time wrapping her mind around; the whole time she'd known the Doctor, he had been in love with Rose Tyler.
He shrugged. "Yes, I suppose I am. Rose will be happy, and that's good enough for me. And the clone... well, I can tell you that he'll be happy with Rose. She'll calm him down, she's good at that. And I may have slipped a cutting of the TARDIS into Rose's pocket. Give it a year and some proper attention and those two will be out striding across the stars again."
"As it should be," Donna said with a smile. Then her expression dropped. "So if it's not Rose, then what's bothering you?"
The Doctor was silent for a long minute, but Donna waited him out. Finally, his head fell and he took to staring pensively at the floor. "Harriet Jones," he said succinctly. "She sacrificed herself to get us through in time."
Donna bit her lip. "That's-" she began, but she trailed away when she couldn't find the right words.
"That's my life, Donna," he took over for her, bitterness lacing every syllable. "Everywhere I go, people die, and it's my fault. No one survives this life long. They get left behind or they're changed irreparably or they die, and I'm so scared that you'll be the next on the list!"
"The metacrisis?" she guessed. "You're worried that I won't survive the transition? If I haven't started presenting symptoms by now, I'm not likely to, Space Boy!"
He let out a small noise that might have been an utterly humourless chuckle.
Another thought occurred to her. "Is it what he- what that Davros bloke said?" She knew she had struck gold because the Doctor's face pinched in on itself.
"The Destroyer of Worlds," he quoted. "It's fitting, don't you think?"
"No, I don't think!" Donna said harshly.
"He's right, though," the Doctor said, voice rough and eyes burning. "I am. I've shattered whole planets, and for what? For the Daleks to keep coming back again and again and again! And that's to say nothing of my friends! You and Rose and Jack and Sarah Jane and Martha and all the rest... so willing to just hurl your lives away in my name. What does that make me? Some kind of monster..."
Donna grabbed his shoulders, shaking him roughly. "Now I won't have you listening to Davros' poison!" she said. "Don't you dare talk like that!" He looked up at her, and she could see the despair in his eyes. She'd noticed it before, that well of sadness tucked away just around the corner, but now here it was, fully-fledged and terrible, staring her in the face.
"Oh," she breathed, as she understood. Davros had not, as he claimed, revealed the Doctor's soul. He had revealed what the Doctor thought of his soul. "Oh Doctor, he was just playing with you. He played on your fears and your faults to mess with your head! Is that really what you think of yourself?"
He said not a word.
Donna let out a hiss of annoyance and flung her arms around him, hugging him as tightly as she possibly could. The Doctor hugged her back, drawing comfort, as he always did, from the unexpected security of her arms.
"Now you listen to me," she murmured in his ear. "I might not say so much, 'cause I don't want to go and inflate your ego, but you're the best man I've ever met. You're a bloody walking miracle, you are, and you've no idea at all. You're wonderful. But in the end, you're just a man. You're a man who keeps being dealt a bad hand and forced to make impossible choices. But you know what? I've never yet seen you make the wrong one. So don't you dare get down on yourself, because you don't deserve that. The universe picks on you too much without you adding to the problem!"
She felt the Doctor nod, and then they just stood there like that for awhile, holding onto each other.
"And you know what?" she said after a long moment. "I reckon that Sarah Jane woman was right- you've got a huge family. We might not be the same species, and we can't replace what you lost, but... well, all of us, Martha and Sarah Jane and Jack and the rest, we love you. You're the glue that holds this weird sort of space family together, and don't you forget it, Alien Boy!"
He chuckled weakly. "So..." he said, stepping back. "Felspoon?"
Donna grinned. "Felspoon."