Chapter 12 Watch The Skies For Me
Feeling tears well in her eyes, Donna blinked them away resolutely. She had no right to expect the Doctor to ask her to travel with him again, after she'd so rudely turned him down last time he asked. She'd even hurried out of the TARDIS this morning in order to avoid any potentially awkward moments, where he felt he had to invite her even though he didn't want to do so.
As she was turning away to go to Jack's office, the TARDIS wheezed back into existence and she whirled to face it in surprise. The door opened and the Doctor stood there, his expression equal measures of panic and pleading. She held out her arms and he ran into them, burying his face in her neck whispering, "Please?"
Donna knew from that one word that he wanted her to come with him. Needed her to come with him. Holding the trembling Time Lord in her arms, she knew that she needed to be with him just as much. Stroking the back of his neck, she told him, "I need to pack and say goodbye to everyone. Then we can go, okay Spaceman?"
His only response was to tighten his hold, as though he'd never let her go.
They stood like that for at least 15 minutes, before Donna called a halt to it. The too rapid beat of his hearts against her chest had slowed enough now and he'd stopped shivering. "Come on, Time Boy, this isn't getting me packed. Can you squeeze the TARDIS into Ianto's flat? It will make it easier to pack things in. Then we'll come back here for lunch with the others and afterwards, I'm all yours. How does that sound?"
Grinning like a Cheshire cat, the Doctor offered her his arm, "Sounds like an excellent plan, shall we?"
Taking it, she grinned back and replied, "We shall!"
It didn't take long for Donna to pack up her belongings – mostly clothes – and tidy up the flat after herself. All the time she was gathering her stuff, the Doctor lounged on the sofa and chatted to her. She did some quick calculations in her head and then pulled out the corresponding amount from her wallet, leaving it on the kitchen cabinet for Ianto to use when the outstanding bills came in. She didn't take all her possessions, not wanting it to seem like she had never been there. Leaving a couple of her framed photos, one of her favourite cds and a fluffy novelty cushion that Ianto had loudly declared he hated, but secretly cuddled when watching dvds, made it seem like she'd be back someday and wasn't abandoning him forever. Donna fully intended to stay in touch with Ianto and Jack. To that end, she turned to the Doctor and interrupted his (no doubt) fascinating story about the time he'd gotten drunk with a couple of sentient mushrooms.
"Yeah, yeah, Doctor, I'm sure they were fun guys, but I've got a serious question. Can you do something with my phone, so I can call Ianto and my Gramps from anywhere you're taking me?"
"Yup. Give it here a minute." He pulled his sonic screwdriver from his jacket and bleeped her phone before handing it back with a flourish. "There you go, universal roaming."
"Wizard! Now, shall we go to Tesco and stock up the TARDIS, before we head back to the Hub?"
"Your chariot awaits, my lady" The Doctor leapt to the door of his ship, eager to be moving again.
Shopping with the Doctor proved to be an exercise in patience. He made loud comments about his fellow shoppers drawing many an angry look, packed the trolley with bananas, tea, jelly babies, biscuits, marmalade and hair gel, and whined when she stopped too long in front of anything he wasn't interested in. It was like shopping with an adult sized, hyperactive 5 year old with a precocious vocabulary. But they finally completed their transaction, paying for it with one of the Doctors unlimited credit cards, and wheeled the very full trolley towards the TARDIS. Taking the trolley and all inside, Donna unloaded everything in the kitchen, then returned the trolley to the car park.
Heading back inside the ship, she went to the kitchen and found the Doctor sticking his finger in a jar of marmalade and then unashamedly licking it clean before redipping it.
"Right, well, that's your jar of marmalade then. Now that you've been double dipping and filling it with Time Boy cooties and all," Donna shuddered theatrically, as he turned his gaze to her and luxuriously sucked on his finger.
The Doctor moved forward, dipping his finger in the jar again and then holding it out to her. "Come on, Donna, it's sooo good."
She shrieked as he grinned wickedly and swiped his sticky finger down her cheek. Wiping her face vigorously, she ordered, "Urk! Give. Me. That!" Slapping his arm, she then confiscated the jar and pointed at the door. "Go. Take us back the Hub, you grubby little alien."
Shaking her head, she packed the groceries away in cupboards and the fridge/freezer. At least now, she knew they'd have decent food to eat on their adventures. Feeling a jolt, staggering slightly and grabbing at the counter top, she assumed they'd landed so moved back to the console room.
The door was yanked open and Jack raced in, followed by an equally anxious Ianto. "You left without saying goodbye!" Jack accused angrily, frowning and advancing on the Doctor, "You said you wouldn't do that anymore."
Donna stepped in front of the Doctor, protectively. Slapping Jack's arm, she protested, "He didn't leave for good. He took me to my flat so I could pack, then we went to Tesco, then back here for a goodbye lunch. So leave him be!" She huffed, picking up the bags of groceries from near the front door and thrusting them into Ianto and Jack's hands. "Here. Make yourselves useful and take these to the Hub kitchen." Then she strode out the door.
The three men looked at each other, smirking in fond appreciation of their feisty, flame-haired friend, before hastily exiting the TARDIS as she bellowed, "WHEN YOU'RE READY THEN!"
Under Donna's directions, a feast was soon spread out on the boardroom table and everyone was having a great time. Laughter pealed out and teasing was rife, as everyone relaxed and enjoyed being all together. After lunch, Gwen and Tosh offered to clean up, pressganging Owen into service too. Donna hugged each of them, promising to come back to visit and making them all promise to take care of each other as well as Jack and Ianto. Then the Doctor, Jack, Ianto and Donna walked slowly down towards the TARDIS. Donna and Ianto holding hands tightly as they followed the other two.
"Well, Jack, I'm saying goodbye this time," the Doctor said with false chirpiness.
Jack engulfed him in a hug, too choked up to say anything. The Doctor spluttered a little bit, before smiling indulgently and returning the hug. When they broke apart, Jack leaned in and kissed the Doctor resoundedly before turning to Donna. His breath hitched as he opened his arms to her.
"Take care of him and take care of yourself." Jack muttered into her hair. "I love you, Donna Noble. Don't be a stranger."
Donna smiled as she rubbed his back, before squeezing him tightly. "Of course I'll take care of him. You just make sure you take care of my boy, there." Leaning in and whispering in his ear, "And let him take care of you, sweetheart, tell him about the Valiant. He's stronger than he looks."
Jack buried his face in her neck, a sob escaping him before he regained control. He straightened and let Donna wipe the tear from his cheek. Then he leaned in and kissed her gently, letting his hands wander down her back. She stepped back, smacking his face lightly, crying, "Oi, hands!", making him chuckle wickedly.
Then it was just Donna and Ianto, as Jack and the Doctor moved away discreetly. Walking towards Ianto, Donna took his hand and held the other to his cheek, caressing his cheekbone softly.
He spoke so softly, she almost missed it. "I don't want you to go."
"Cariad, look at me," Donna tilted his face so he was forced to look at her, "I love you and I will always love you no matter where I am in the universe. I have to go, everything changes, nothing stays the same. You and Jack have to take care of each other now."
Tears slid silently down Ianto's face, as he forced himself to overcome his naturally shy nature, knowing he had to say this in case he never got another chance, "I love you too, Donna. Thank you for noticing me, when no-one else did. Thank you for being my friend when no-one else would."
"Oh Yan," her voice cracked and they grabbed each other in a deperate hug, clinging tightly to each other and sobbing. When they calmed down, Donna huffed a laugh. "Look at us, anyone would think one of us was dying. You can ring me anytime you want, since the Doctor bleeped my phone and gave me universal roaming. I'll be sure to come back to visit too."
She gave him a final squeeze, kissed him on the forehead, then ran to the TARDIS where the Doctor was waiting. Looking back from the doorway, she saw Jack was standing beside Ianto and their arms were around each other. Smiling brightly at them, she waved and shouted, "Bye, Jack. Bye, Ianto. Love you both. Watch for me in the skies!"