Summary: Just because you see something doesn't mean it isn't there.
Disclaimer: Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away… Oops! Wrong Sci Fi universe! These aren't mine, since you asked.
A/N: Written in response to the Travellers' Tales Prompt #28 – stairs over at doctor_donna.
A/N2: As soon as I saw this prompt I thought of two poems, and went with both. The first one I thought of was Antigonish, by William Hughes Mearns; and the second Halfway Down, by A.A. Milne btw.
Stairway To (Chiswick) Heaven
Sometimes she liked to just sit there, halfway up the stairs, just like her beloved dog used to do before she'd got rid of him to make Lance happy… now there was a blast from the past! Her wonderfully loyal, lying, cheating, conniving ex-fiancé who had a thing for spiders, apparently. Who knew?
Anyway, she was sat there on her mother's stairs wondering where everyone had got to, why she felt so lonely sitting there, and why did this weird view of the world fascinate her so much? She could see the world go by through the lounge windows and if anyone should turn up to the stain-glassed window without anyone being any the wiser if she were there or not. It was a hidden position. It felt naughty, childish and slightly depressive now that she thought about it. She hadn't thought about it in such a long time.
Where were they? Did they not care she was sitting alone at home? All alone on the stairs waiting desperately for them to come home. Back to where she could welcome them, with loving arms… okay, that bit was far-fetched, but she'd certainly be glad to see them. Had they missed her? Did they even think about her?
It was strange to be sitting on that particular stair again. For years she had been convinced the hallway was haunted and the only way to appease the ghost was to sit on that stair; the one that was exactly halfway up. Why she thought that was anybody's guess; but she had, and a small part of her still did. She would image the ghost would glide passed her and go to the bathroom or the kitchen. Perhaps her mother had made the story up to stop her wandering about in the night? It was possible. But the story had made her want to meet the ghost, not run away. She had so many questions she wanted to ask it for a start! Things like: why was it there, what happened when you died, could it see her future, would West Ham ever win the Cup again? You know, things like that. And later she wanted to ask the ghost if she would ever marry, would she have children, would she find the Doctor again? Numerous nights she sat on that very stair waiting for the ghost to appear; and do you know what? He never appeared; not once! All those years of waiting, and all for nothing. Perhaps that made her an idiot for believing in something unexplainable? It had made her suddenly shout one day, "Bugger off!" at the phantom. That'd teach him to disappear on her. Nobody treats Donna Noble like that! And she'd felt surprisingly better after that; mainly because things had begun to happen in her life soon after. Things that no-one would have believed at one time, especially her.
She shook her head at the thought, and felt something thud softly into her chest. Looking down, she noticed her pendant, her beloved pendant shining in the reflected sunlight.
She fiddled with her dangling necklace, and contemplated it. It had caught her eye from the very first moment she'd seen it; the symbol on it was old and ancient, written in a past script that was long dead. "But what does it mean?" she'd asked the Doctor, exasperation oozing out of every pore when he reluctantly tried to answer her.
"It means 'adored', Donna," he replied; and she had felt his words weigh her down.
Had he been thinking of someone else? Of course he'd been doing that! Was she thick or something? But she'd looked longingly at the item, and in his guilt he'd bought it for her, and she'd let him, knowing that was the true reason. She loved it still, this small amulet made from an alien alloy.
What was the matter with her? Why was she letting that moment get her down? He'd bought it for her, and she'd been grateful. Extremely grateful, as she recalled. In fact, the day had got infinitely better because he'd realised what a prawn he was being, going melancholy on her. And he had then looked at her; really looked at her for the first time since they'd met. Her delight in receiving the pendant had broken through his fug and let him see daylight properly; daylight that streamed through her glorious hair, picking out the golden vibrant colours, dazzling him with their liveliness.
That had been the first time he'd kissed her: right there in a crowded market on an alien world, among various stalls of artefacts and the smells of a thousand meals wafting towards them. Through all of that she had concentrated on him; always only him.
There had been no spoken words of declaration, just a slow acceptance that this moment was perfect to meld their lives towards a relationship that could work.
It had been a delicious kiss, full of fire and need. They had traded many more kisses that night; that wonderful night, when she had become the Doctor's and he had become hers. That was a wonderful memory indeed.
Why had sitting on the stairs brought that memory back when there were so many to choose from? Why hadn't she chosen the memory of the Clahtradian Goahfest? That one had been particularly weird, and that was saying something for the life they led!
She looked at her watch. It was about time she shifted her bum and put the kettle on; somebody was bound to turn up at any moment. With that thought came a fumbling at the door lock, and Wilf entered the hallway. "Hello, Sweetheart! What are you doing sitting up there?"
He was closely followed the Doctor and a pink blur that threw itself at her and hugged her tightly. "Mummy!" the pink blur exclaimed in delight. "We had an amazing time with Gramps!"
Donna stood and hugged her daughter close, "Alyssia! Hello, my darling; I thought you might! Now who's up for a cup of tea?"
"Ooh, yes please, love!" the Doctor answered with a grateful nod. "I'm parched!"
Wilf patted him on the back, "Come on then, my boy! You've earnt a decent cup." With that they all happily made their way into the kitchen.
Donna patted the stair as she walked passed it, and sent it a mental salutation. Old friends needed proper goodbyes, she reminded herself, since you never know how much you'll miss them. The ghost of the hallway, in contrast, merely got a nod of acknowledgement. Well, why should she say goodbye to him too? He hadn't spoken to her in all those years after all; and he'd had his second chance.
"Mummy? Who's that man on the stairs?" Alyssia asked her, lifting a quizzical eyebrow.
"Him?" Donna looked down at her daughter and ruffled her auburn locks. "He's Mr Nobody. He'll be gone soon; he never stays long."
"He doesn't look very friendly," Alyssia observed.
Donna glanced back, still seeing nothing. "Yeah, shame that," she added, and she swore she could have heard a faint chuckle as she allowed herself to be led away.
A/N3: The character of Alyssia belongs to bio_damped.