Author's Notes: I've written Doctor Who before, just not on here. I've been toying with this idea for awhile, and I finally figured out how to make it work properly. Donna Noble is one of my favorite companions, and I didn't like the way she was written out of the series. So I rewrote the ending of Journey's End. Enjoy.
The Doctor leaned listlessly against one of the coral pillars. He was lost in a daze. This TARDIS had just been bustling with energy. So many people just chattering away excitedly, flying the old girl like the perfect team that they were. And now the huge small ship felt pretty empty.
Jack, Martha and Mickey took off to do whatever they'd do at Torchwood, and Sarah Jane had gone back to that son of hers that she'd somehow acquired. He'd have to ask her about that.
And Rose of course was back with her family in the parallel world where she belonged. He hoped that human him would keep just as much an eye on her as she should on him. He felt a bit bad for doing that to his clone, but as long as he kept Rose from using that Dimension Cannon again, it would hopefully all work out.
But now came the worst bit: saying goodbye to Donna. No getting around it. It was going to hurt. But he really had no choice now.
Donna was working the console single-handed, of course. With that Time Lord brain ticking away like a time bomb, just waiting to burn her to a crisp. He just couldn't let that happen. He couldn't watch his best friend, one of the few humans who truly understood him, get fried on the spot. He couldn't think of anyone who would.
But Donna apparently didn't feel the effects hitting her yet, so maybe there was time. Maybe she'd last longer than he thought. And then he realized she was talking to him.
"I thought we could try the planet Felspoon!" she exclaimed. "Just 'cause… What a good name! Felspoon! Apparently, it's got mountains that sway in the breeze. Mountains that move! Can you imagine?"
The Doctor managed to small grin. "And how'd you know that?"
"Because it's in your head, and if it's in your head, it's in mine!"
She moved around the console, and he began to follow her. "And how does that feel?"
"Brilliant! Fantastic! Molto bene! Great big universe, packed into my brain! D'you know, you could fix that chameleon circuit if you just tried hotbinding the fragment-links and superceding the binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary – I'm fine!"
Ah, there it was.
Now he felt all his hope draining away. If she said she was fine, she clearly wasn't. He did that all the time. She sounded scared now. She knew what this meant.
"Naah, never mind Felspoon, d'you know who I'd like to go meet? Charlie Chaplin! I bet he's great, Charlie Chaplin, shall we do that? Go and see Charlie Chaplin? Shall we? Charlie Chaplin? Charlie Chester? Charlie Brown? No, he's not real, he's fiction, friction, fixing, mixing, Rickston, Brixton – ow!"
And she stopped, and then she was quiet.
"Do you know what's happening?" the Doctor asked at last.
"…yeah," she replied quietly.
"There's never been a Human-Time Lord metacrisis before now. And you know why."
"Because there can't be."
He approached her, but she backed away, afraid of him.
"I want to stay," she said stubbornly.
"Look at me, Donna. Look at me."
And she did, and she was crying already. They stared at each other, both feeling like their entire worlds were collapsing in on each other.
"I was gonna be with you. Forever."
"Rest of my life… Traveling…in the TARDIS… The DoctorDonna. I can't go back. Please don't make me go back."
The Doctor looked incredibly sad as he grasped both her arms gently and gave her a reassuring squeeze. "Donna… Oh, Donna Noble, I'm so sorry," he said, wishing he had more time to pontificate just how incredibly sorry he truly was. "But we had the best of times."
And they just looked at each other.
And he held his hands to her temples.
"No, please, no, no, no!" she wailed, crying her heart out.
And then he was in her mind, and he could see all her pain. He could see a fire raging across her synapses, flashes of light blazing over the medulla oblongata.
And then he considered what he was doing…
And then he remembered the Time Lords, and the way they had treated Jamie and Zoe all those centuries ago. How they had decided they could just go into their minds and wipe away what they saw fit.
And it made him angry. What right did they have to do that to them. What right did he have to do this to her? He didn't have the right. Certainly not. How could he decide something like this?
He did this a lot in this incarnation, didn't he? Making decisions like this on the spot. He remembered his handling of the Family, and couldn't help but shiver at the harsh punishments he'd given them. At the time, he'd felt they deserved it, but couldn't those feelings have stemmed from him still thinking a bit like a human? He'd only been one a few minutes previously. He'd felt human-like anger, and so had reacted as such. If he'd been in a clearer head, he might've shown some leniency. Perhaps this incarnation was too human.
This whole "I'm the Last of the Time Lords, and so you should all do as I say" attitude had gotten worse over the years, but Donna's presence had toned it down, and he'd been the happiest been in a long time. A best friend who understood him and helped him along in ways that others like Rose couldn't, someone who questioned his authority and popped his pompous stance. If it weren't for Donna, he shuddered at what he would've become. A man relying on his own misery.
Surely he could save her. There must be another way to do it. He could recall his last encounter with the Daleks. He recalled a dying Lazlo, looking like a pig and ready for death, and Tallulah with three L's and an H, begging him to save her boyfriend. And he had. He beat the odds and saved the poor man, giving him a chance a somewhat normal life. Surely he could save Donna from this!
And then he felt a new branch office opening in his head with a desk, a clerk and a name on the glass door that said Better Ideas Inc. He ran through various different ideas and weighed all the possible outcomes.
And then he found the one. He didn't really like the outcome, but it would end with Donna alive and well and traveling with him until she was ready to leave herself.
And then he just went ahead and did it.
And Donna collapsed into his arms and fell asleep, and he held her, just listening to her steady breathing. And he smiled; feeling confident he'd made the right decision.
Donna awoke thirty minutes over with a nasty headache. She was in the jump seat, her head tilted back, and so her neck was a bit stiff when she tried to move it. She groaned slightly, blinked heavily and started to observe her surroundings.
The lights were a bit annoyingly bright. She heaved herself off the seat and staggered over to the console. She leaned against it, trying to recall precisely what had happened last.
…She looked at the console in realization. She was still here. She could remember! But what had – ?
She jumped at the voice and saw the Doctor standing there, smiling sadly.
"Good. You're awake. How you feeling?"
"…Fine… I just… Did I dream all of that? Rose coming back and all those people and…and the Daleks? Did it…did it really happen?"
They stood together in silence.
"…I still remember."
"I changed my mind. Made a new plan. I don't do that a lot, but then again, I think you're worth it," he said with a wink.
"Oh, don't be daft…"
"Don't you be daft! You are so worth it! Donna Noble, of the Chiswick Nobles, you are far too brilliant to go back to temping. There are planets, still in the sky and thriving with life, singing the songs of Donna Noble. Even if you did forget, Donna, you would never have been forgotten."
Donna stared at him, feeling her face get very red with embarrassment at the sudden onslaught of praise. He was always kind to her, but never so poetically. "Oh, Doctor…," she said quietly, and then she tried to change the subject. "So go on, then. What did you do? 'Cause I ain't the DoctorDonna anymore. It's quiet in there now."
"I know. I still had to take it from you. It was too much. It was bursting at the seams. Would've been a tad messy."
"So what'd you do with it?"
"I absorbed it back into my mind."
"Yep. I've got two copies of my memories kicking around in my head now."
"And your brain can cope with that?"
"Oh…," she said, not sure what this meant, and then she did know what that meant. "Oh… Oh, Doctor…"
"You shouldn't have… I mean, really, you shouldn't have! You're gonna die now, aren't you?"
"You… But you can't!" She was definitely upset now. "Doctor, you can't! I'd rather it be me than you."
"And I you."
"It's gonna kill you!"
"It would've killed you too. At least I can regenerate!"
And then it twigged. "Oh…," she said again.
"Yeah…," he said, a sad grin on his face.
"But…I thought you didn't want to."
"Not in front of Rose, no. She's not good with regeneration. The question is: can you, Donna Noble, handle a new me?"
"I…," she faltered, not sure how to answer.
"Because it'll still be me. I'll look different, sound different, and act a bit different, but I'll still be the Doctor, and I'll still be your best friend."
Donna looked at him for a moment, tears forming in her eyes, and then she smiled through them. "Good, 'cause those are the important things."
The Doctor smiled, feeling tears of his own forming in his eyes. And then he felt a warmth inside him, and he looked at his right hand, which was giving off that energy again, that golden energy that danced teasingly along his palm and between his fingers. He smiled bitterly at it. It always hurt.
"It's started…," he whispered.
Donna felt her confidence waver, but tried not to show it. "See you on the other side, Spaceman," she said shakily.
But the Doctor still had a moment, so he pulled her into a hug. She didn't hesitate in hugging him back.
"…God, you're burning up," she said after a moment.
The Doctor chuckled and let her go. "Right, here we go," he said, heading towards the opposite side of the TARDIS. "Ready?"
And he unclenched his muscles and felt his face glow brighter. He watched the golden mist swirl around his eyes and into the air. It was taking its time.
"Blimey. I hope I'm ginger."
And then it was pummeling his insides. It was bursting to get out. No holding back. Time to go.
Just one last thing. He took a deep breath and shouted:
And – swoosh!
Donna shielded her eyes and stepped back from the beautiful yet terrifying sight as the Doctor erupted like Pompeii had. Ferocious fire shot from his head and outstretched arms. It was so powerful it seemed to roar, shaking the room.
It felt like it lasted forever.
But then it began to die off, and she could hear a voice coming from within. A new voice was screaming it's new head off.
And then it was gone, like a switch had been thrown.
And there he was, stumbling, blinking, dazed – the Doctor and his new face.
Donna stared at him openly stunned.
The new Doctor was younger-looking, with longer hair, ganglier limbs and a rather strong-looking chin. He looked around cluelessly, yet with a newfound sense of energy. He looked down and uttered his first words.
"Legs! I've still got legs! Good… Arms… Hands… Ooh, fingers! Lot's of fingers… Ears – yes. Eyes – two. Nose… I'm had worse. Chin – Blimey! Hair… I'm a girl… No! No…not a girl… No… Oh, and still not ginger! And something else… Something important! What was it, what was it, what was it…?"
The Doctor turned around and saw a wary-looking Donna. His face lit up. "Donna! Knew it'd come back to me! There we go! That wasn't so bad, was it? Now then, where to next? Where'd you say before? Felspoon? Sounds a treat. But then again, Charlie Chaplin sounds like a nice chap. Haven't met him before, might be nice to visit him. How's Christmas sound? We'll catch him on set while he's filming that film. Which film was it?"
He looked at her expectantly, but Donna was still too startled to form sentences yet.
"…Blimey, I haven't half got a gob, have I?" he asked with a grin. "You okay, Donna?"
And Donna managed a smile as she laughed suddenly. All the tension gone, she could find her way back to normality. "Yeah. Fine. Molto bene."
"Excellent! Off we go into the future! Ready?"
"Then hang onto something, because I'm about to go completely mad!"
And he slammed a lever down, causing the TARDIS to lurch suddenly, throwing poor Donna back onto the jump seat, where she held on for dear life.
And the Doctor was dancing around the console, gleefully pushing buttons and cranking handles and watching the screen.
Both were happier than ever as the Doctor looked to the heavens and shouted his eleventh birth cry: