Warning: This contains lots of angst, and there is a character death here.
Summary: What really happened to Donna after she was given that ticket? This is set after EoT, and during the beginning and end of S5.
Disclaimer: In a perfect world we'd own everything we want. Sadly we don't.
A/N: This came to me during a migraine and wouldn't let me rest. It is not a happy fic.
Lucy In The Sky
Distant footsteps echoed down the lino-lined hospital corridor, but Donna barely looked up at the sound. It wasn't someone visiting her; that fact she was sure of. No one came to visit her anymore.
She pulled up her good leg and hugged her knees tightly, wishing, hoping and praying for the day's light to fade so that she could gaze up at the distant night sky; like she used to when her Gramps was still alive.
A man padded across to her chair and stood expectantly in front of her. "Donna? Are you hungry, Donna?" he asked softly. She merely blinked at him in reply, completely ignoring the meal on the tray he had placed in front of her.
Another male nurse joined him. "Come on, Donna! Eat something for the doctor!"
She visibly started, and he chuckled. "She does that everytime you mention a doctor. No idea why, but it's the one thing that gets a reaction."
"How long has she been like this? And why does nobody visit her?" the first nurse asked.
"She was brought in on her wedding day. That must have been… what… three, four years ago now? She's been here as long as I have. Apparently she had visitors at first, but would you want to see someone who doesn't know you exist?" the second nurse remarked.
"No, I suppose not," the first nurse replied. "Shame though. She looks as though she was once vibrant," he mused.
"Weren't we all once!" the second nurse quipped. "Don't worry about it, Rory. You'll be training on a different ward soon and you'll forget all about her."
"I hope not," Rory softly answered.
So it had happened on the day of her wedding, had it? That was so long ago. She had been so excited about finally finding someone who was prepared to marry her. She had almost felt herself glow.
Her happiness had lasted right up until Gramps and her mother had given her that last minute gift outside the church. Something had told her it was a life changing gift, but she'd scoffed at the thought, as usual. Who was there to give her such a magnificent thing?
And then she had heard it: that noise. That weird, elephantine, wondrous noise that said 'home' in several languages all at once. It had been on the tip of her tongue – that special name – that was hers and not hers because it was his. Oh how she missed him! Where was he going? Why was he leaving her again? Why was he doing this alone?
She had turned her head to tell Shaun… that was the name of the man who had stood by her side! Yes, she'd gone to tell Shaun when something had fired in her brain and she'd felt parts of her begin to die. She had never made it to the reception.
There followed a blur, full of posh new houses, paid private nurses, and concerned faces. Always concerned faces. Ones that sometimes she recognised; other times not. It would seem that in order to survive she had to totally forget who she was; so she had.
Even her name eluded her. They called her 'Donna' here, but she knew there was a bit missing with that title.
She blinked at the trainee nurse with the name 'Rory' on his name badge. He seemed nice. He'd come back to entice her to eat something, to engage in some conversation. She couldn't remember the last time someone medical had been truly interested in her.
He was sat in front of her frail form, trying to coax her lips apart with a morsel of food on a fork. "So… you were married, Donna? I bet you were beautiful!" he smiled kindly at her.
"Biodamped," she stated in reply.
He frowned at her. What did that mean? But he shoved in the tip of the fork whilst he could into her mouth, and watched happily when she accepted a tiny piece. "Was he nice, your husband?" he asked.
"Which one?" she asked in return.
"Which one?" he echoed in astonishment. "How many did you have?"
Donna gazed back blankly at him as she held up her hand to show him four fingers. "Almost, biodamped, imaginary and lost," she meekly stated.
Rory looked at her in shock. Years of rarely saying anything beyond one word and she said this! "What does 'biodamped' mean, Donna?" he asked gently.
"With this ring I thee biodamp. For better, for worse," she replied, her expression unchanging.
He shoved in another forkful while he had the chance; then he tried asking some more questions but she never said another word that day.
A week later he made his way to her halfway through his night shift. He found her curled up in her usual chair intently looking at the night sky. "Hello, Donna!" he greeted her. "Any particular star you looking at?"
"The Medusa Cascade," she'd immediately answered.
"Who lives out there then? Some sort of spaceman you once read about perhaps?" he'd cheerfully replied, glad to see she was more lucid today.
"No. It's where his name is," she had answered, before withdrawing into herself again.
He had placed her back in her bed after that, but she had continued to stare up at the stars.
He was washing Donna's face and preparing to brush her hair when he'd started to tell her about his girlfriend and soon to be fiancée, Amy. "… And then there's her childhood imaginary friend, the raggedy Doctor…" he was saying, when Donna suddenly interrupted him.
"He's not imaginary," she informed him.
"What?" he asked in confusion.
Donna answered by mouthing something he could not quite make out.
"Pardon?" He asked again, as he wondered what she was mumbling about this time.
Donna managed to turn her uncomfortable stare onto him. "Your Amy was right when she said the Doctor travelled in a blue box; especially if he was wearing a brown pin-striped suit and a brown overcoat," she told him in a whisper.
"How did you know that?" he demanded without meaning to, his voice raising more than it should have. "I never told you that bit!"
"Because you didn't need to," she muttered. "I knew him once."
"Tell me! How did you know him?" he asked bluntly; but Donna had shut herself off again. She had returned to her quiet world of drifting through the stars, waiting for her moment to land.
Rory returned with his list. It had been neatly handwritten by Amy, and the questions on it had a precise order. He fumbled with it, transferring it into his uniform pocket before entering the ward. He only had a few more days here before he was assigned somewhere else, so he was determined to make the most of them.
As soon as he was able to he made his way back to Donna's bedside. As usual she was curled up ignoring the rest of the ward. No sound from there touched her; but he had to try. He had to find out if Amy had been imagining it all these years, or if it was all real.
"Donna?" he softly asked as he approached her. "Donna, I need to ask you…"
"He was real," she announced quietly. "He changed and he was frightened; but he covered it well."
"How do you know what…," Rory began to ask again.
"He never left me," she smiled sweetly at him. "Not really. But he was in pain when I last felt his closeness."
"What was his favourite food?" Rory read from his list, desperate to get a handle on this conversation. "Do you know?"
"Like I know myself," she smiled another wan smile at him. "He's different now, so different."
"Donna, please answer me!" he begged, but she had begun to hum softly to herself some unrecognisable tune with her eyes focused on something in another dimension.
"Well?" Amy greeted him later. "Did you find out anything?"
"I'm not sure," he told her hesitantly. "She knew the name, but she went all weird. She insisted he was real before she drifted away. I'm sorry, Amy."
Amy looked downhearted for a few seconds. "Thanks for trying," she told him, before she walked deflatedly back to her bedroom.
The last time he saw Donna she suddenly came to life for some minutes. He'd been helping her put some slippers on when she'd suddenly clutched at her chest and took in a deep breath.
"What's the matter, Donna?" he'd asked, assuming that it would be in vain as normal.
"He's dying!" she cried out. "He wasn't supposed to die yet; he was the one that was supposed to get a life!"
He tried to steady her as she almost hit the floor in grief. "Who Donna? Who's dying?"
"Earthman!" she wailed. "No! No! I gave my life for you! No!"
He watched as her agitation increased, her cries begging for this 'Earthman', and he reluctantly pressed the buzzer next to her bed as she started to scream. His heart broke as she was restrained on the bed and a sedative was pumped into her, instantly calming her but sending her back to where she had been.
He never got the chance to say 'good bye'.
"Doctor? Those pictures held within the TARDIS data bank… who are they?" Rory asked the Doctor when he got the chance.
"Past companions, Rory. Why do you ask?" the Doctor absently replied.
"It's just that one of them, one of them near the end there, looked awfully familiar. She looked just like a patient I once had," Rory explained. "What was her name? The one with the ginger hair."
"Oh that one!" the Doctor turned so that Rory couldn't see his face directly. "Her name is Donna Noble."
The shocked gasp from Rory did not go unnoticed by him, so he waited for Rory to fill the silence.
"Don't you mean 'was'," Rory pressed gently. "She died long ago."
"Time is relative, Rory," the Doctor replied, his voice aiming for nonchalance. He paused before asking, "How did she die?"
"She said she was giving her life to save someone she called Earthman, again," Rory tried to avert his gaze. "It was all very sudden; one minute she was there and the next she'd gone!"
"Ah! I see!" the Doctor began to walk away. "I'm just going to check on the…"
But Rory knew there was nothing to check on, so he left the Doctor with his grief.
A/N2: Earthman is the dublicate Doctor, if you were wondering.