Donna furrowed her brow. It took her a few moments to register that it was the Doctor's voice she heard. As she sat up in her bed, the door was slowly opening for her.
She cocked her head to the side. The Doctor's voice sounded metallic, as if it was the TARDIS transmitting the sound to her from across the ship. Cheeky thing…wanted her to check up on him. Well, his sleep wasn't her—
Donna gritted her teeth. "TARDIS, could you turn off the sound please?"
She knew she'd receive no reply, and she didn't know why she even bothered; the ship didn't listen, at any rate.
"Rose, Rose…lost, lost, lost!"
Donna kicked off her covers, stretching her arms above her head tiredly. His sounds were starting to worry her. Glancing at her clock of relative Greenwich Mean Time, she sighed.
"Well, then…suppose I only really needed three hours of sleep."
Stumbling from her bed, she slid on a pair of slippers and made her way through the ship, following the sounds of the Doctor's voice that became less mechanical and more real, until finally she stood outside his door. It creaked as it opened, and within she could hear the Doctor's sleep-talk.
"No, Rose…no…lost! I tried, I tried, I tried—lost, lost, lost! No, Rose! Rose, lost Rose, why lost? Because I failed…"
Donna felt herself flush; after all this time, all the places they'd been and all the smiles he'd worn, he was still just a broken man weeping for the love he'd lost.
She swallowed, daring herself to enter. She'd never been in his room before, but looked around wide-eyed as she saw it this first time.
The walls were covered in pictures, hundreds of them. Hundreds of faces peering out at her, eyes that she guessed, as the Doctor spoke wildly in his sleep, had been closed for some time now. She found a light switch and flicked it on, getting a better view of the room; she felt it was something of spying, yet she was entranced. Beside each picture, there was a sticky note with something written in Time Lord writing. She mentally promised herself to learn to read that language someday.
As she approached a desk in the far corner of the room, she found a shirt lying on his chair; the same shirt that had scared her the day they'd first met. Rose's shirt.
Then, on the desk, she just noticed a crumbled golden star. What was it—
She suddenly realized that the Doctor had been silent for several moments now. Turning slowly, she saw him watching her closely, like a fawn would watch a person who'd come a bit too close for comfort.
"Heard you talking," she said slowly. "In—in your sleep."
He blinked. "I'm fine," he finally said, pushing a hand through his hair. "Go back to bed; it was just a nightmare."
"Just a nightmare?" Donna asked dubiously. "Doctor, you didn't hear yourself. You kept crying out, that Rose was lost and you'd failed. Are you sure you're all right?"
He looked like he was going to lie at first. He closed his eyes, began to nod—then stopped.
"You can see right through me, can't you, Donna?" he asked lowly, sitting up further. With one hand he invited her forward; with the other, he turned himself so his legs hung from the bed and he faced the desk. She moved forwards, sitting beside him. Reaching forwards, he snatched up the shirt and ran his thumbs across the fabric.
"I come so close," he said quietly. "I reach the brink of everything I ever need, and then fall into a tailspin. So—close."
His voice cracked, and Donna inhaled quickly, laying one arm over his bare shoulders and taking his hand in hers.
"Come on," she whispered, squeezing his hand a little.
"It wasn't just Rose," he said, his voice raw. "I have let down so many people, from the very beginning. All my life, it's all been loss and pain, and I can just get up and leave but there are people I leave behind who will never be the same again."
"But you save so many more lives," Donna breathed. "No one can be everybody's Superman, can they?"
"I should be," The Doctor replied quickly. "I'm a Time Lord. I shouldn't need people laying down their lives before me."
"Even heroes need to be saved sometimes," Donna whispered. "Even you, you great useless Time Lord."
That earned her a smile, which made her fire burn just that much brighter. "Hey? See, you can be happy. Now…tell me, have you got any illicit pictures of me up here I should be aware of?"
The Doctor actually laughed; Donna didn't know it, but she was the only person in the universe who could bring him back so quickly.
"No, no. I keep the illicit ones under my bed—kidding!" he added as she looked down suspiciously. "I do have you, though, right over there."
Donna peered across the room, and finally saw a clipping bearing her fiery hair. Walking over, she snatched up the pictures they'd taken in a photo booth on Midnight.
"And…this?" she asked, gesturing at the purple sticky note dangling off the end.
"Your name," he smiled. "Your name in Gallifreyan." He stood, meeting her and taking the Post It. "You know, since Donna means 'Woman' and Noble means…well, noble…your name is basically 'Noblewoman,' or 'Lady,' which made it quite easy for the translator-me." He grinned. "Like?"
"Yeah," Donna nodded absently. "You, time boy, are gonna teach me that stuff."
Before he could protest, she was out the door. He stared after her, mouth agape. He'd have to teach it to her now, he knew it.
Only Donna Noble would be so stubborn.