Warning: contains a character death, a hinted at miscarriage; and it assumes you already know the story of Human Nature/Family of Blood.

A/N: You might find this a bit angsty; but then you hopefully knew this would end sadly.

Part 9


One of the girls joined the head boy to ask, "Is it me or is Mr Wilkins acting weird, James?"

"Funnily enough I was thinking that," he replied. "Like a character out of Shaun Of The Dead."

"In that case you'd better have a weapon to hand for when he bites you," she playfully remarked.

He smiled back at her. "Fortunately I know where a cricket bat is hidden I can use to knock his block off. They don't call me the head boy for nothing."

She groaned. "Lame, that can hardly crawl," she chastised him. "Although I think Mrs Smith is more likely to get bitten tonight," she observed.

"If I was Mr Smith I'd bite her too," James commented, and got hit on the arm for his cheek.

"Are you glad you came?" John asked Donna as they continued to cover their embrace by pretending they were dancing.

After giving it some thought, she replied, "Yes, it's not been as bad as I expected; and you haven't been taken away from me so I'm winning so far."

"Sorry the kids are still calling you Mrs Smith," he apologised.

"No, don't be," she insisted. "It's like having a secret life for a while. Talking of possible secrets, I ought to tell you that I'm thinking of having your dad's pocket watch repaired for you."

He momentarily scowled. "I told you that it was a waste of time."

"Apart from that being groan-worthy, the man in the jeweller's said it was a rare piece that should be looked at," she said conversationally.

"Donna, I said to ignore it!" he said fretfully. "Don't bother!"

"Sh sh sh," she consoled him, caressing his face lovingly. "I wanted to try and give you a little bit of your dad back, that's all, but I'll leave it if the thought upsets you so much."

"Sorry," he replied, lightly kissing her apologetically. "I just can't bear..."

"I know, John," she soothed him, and kissed him back briefly.

The briefness was caused by the fact that Donna was wrenched abruptly from his clasp. John found himself regarding Mr Wilkins the PE teacher holding Donna menacingly around the throat.

"What is this? The latest mess we've got ourselves into? Are you going to tell me that Donna is now being considered as your wife?" he tried to playfully say, wondering what this latest development was and hoping it was a Halloween jape.

"Get your mitts off me!" yelled Donna. "I've no idea what your game is, but I'm not part of the equipment, Sunshine."

"You'd better do as she says, Wilkins, as she has a powerful slap. I learnt that one after I nicked some of her Pringles once," John added.

"I don't want her, I want you, Doctor; but I know you two come as a package," Mr Wilkins said when he finally spoke.

"Doctor? Is this some book publicising exercise?" queried Donna.

"Nothing to do with me," John assured her. "Stop playing silly buggers, Wilkins, and let her go!"

"Not until you agree to come with me, Doctor," Wilkins stated.

Martha rushed over and reached them at this point. "Wilkins and the caretaker have already attacked three people outside, Doctor. You have to deal with this," she warned him.

"What? Are you as mad as he is? I'm not the Doctor; he's just a character," John protested.

Martha countered, "Then why are you frightened to open the pocket watch, Doctor? I've seen you fiddle with it and wonder what it means."

John's shock was added to when the caretaker appeared armed with a gun. Everybody else fled screaming, no longer convinced this was a hoax as John was left to stare him down. "Is this some sort of robbery?" he asked.

"We asked nicely, Doctor; but now we insist you and your wife come with us." The caretaker then pointed the gun at Donna. "What is your answer?"

"What kind of monster comes into a school and threatens innocent children?" Donna asked scornfully.

Mr Wilkins merely sniffed at her. "We are the Family of Blood."

Something within John found that title awfully familiar, and a chill raced down his spine.

"Doctor, do something," Martha beseeched him.

"I'm not the Doctor and I don't know why they want me," John repeated.

Martha threw Donna a pleading look to convince him to act. "He'll do as you ask if you leave the children be and let him take his tablet," Donna lied. "I've got the box in my bag." To her relief they let her retrieve the pocket watch from her handbag and pass it over to John.

The item called out to him as it had never done so before. "Let her go and I'll come willingly; but give me two minutes to say goodbye, please!"

As Wilkins released his hold on her and stepped back, Donna protested, "No John! I'm staying with you no matter what."

John could feel his Time Lord essence trickling out, showing him the possible life he could have had with Donna, full of love, marriage and children; and all of it slipping away as his Time Lord self threatened to take it away if the Family of Blood didn't kill him first. "I need to know you are safe before I decide what to do. You'll never know how much I want to stay in our perfect little world," he said quietly so that only she could hear.

"But you're the Doctor, aren't you," she sadly stated. "Other people are more important. I should have known you wouldn't be able to stay with me. It was all too good to be true. Go and do what's right, for everyone."

"I love you, Donna; please never forget that," he whispered.

"I love you too, John. I'll miss you." She then allowed them to push her away, knowing in her heart that the Doctor would find a way to solve this but not believing for one second it would include a place for her in his life when it was achieved.

It was done. He had opened the fob watch before they had reached the Family's spaceship, letting them think he was still vulnerable. Using the accident-prone persona he had perfected over the last few weeks, he had 'fallen' on some levers and accidentally on purpose overloaded the engines, causing the spaceship to blow up. He was not so kind to the ex-Mr Wilkins and the caretaker, letting their punishment encase them permanently within a sports hall wall and the toilet cisterns, respectively.

Martha waited for his return to the TARDIS, looking very anxious as he appeared. "What about Donna?" she wondered.

"I'm about to go and find her; I'll be back soon," he said calmly.

"Before you go, I'm sorry Doctor. I tried to stop it happening." She stood hesitantly waiting for his answer.

"I know, Martha Jones. Thank you," he stated simply. The hug he gave her was a huge relief for Martha.

The Doctor found Donna sitting forlornly on the steps outside the school with her coat loosely wrapped around her shoulders. She'd done all she could to help with anyone affected by the events of the evening, with acts of comfort, phone calls to parents and explanations where appropriate. There had been lots of questions about why the men had taken John away with them; and all she could answer was the fact that John was special enough to be picked and to cope. Where that left her at the end of it all was open to guess work.

She'd seen the Doctor approaching her cautiously, and it was evident from her first glance that this was no longer the man she knew and loved. Everything about him was different, from his stance, his gait and the expression in his eyes. Only his features were the same. It was easy to believe this was the man who featured so prominently in John's book. Martha had told her all about the Doctor and his evident love for no one except Rose; something she had suspected from reading about him. With those thoughts in mind, she steeled herself to meet the Doctor.

"Hello, Donna Noble," he greeted her, and sat down beside her on the steps, keeping a respectful distance.

"Hello, Doctor. It's nice to finally meet you properly," she replied. "Did you blow them all up or kill them in a different way?"

He looked momentarily worried before he admitted, "Neither... although there was a bit of an explosion when their ship blew up."

She smiled in understanding, remembering the adventures she had read. "What happened to them? Will they come back?"

"No. I've imprisoned them, so you're safe now," he answered.

She looked down at her fingers toying with the material of the skirt of her costume. "I suppose safe is good for the time being." She risked a quick glance at him. "This is the part where you ride off into the sunset with Martha to right a wrong somewhere else, isn't it?"

"It doesn't have to be like that. You could come too," he gently offered.

She tried to surreptitiously sniff back a tear, glad that he had been thoughtful to the very end. "You know I can't do that, what with the way Dad is and you not being John anymore."

He reached over and took her hand. "John Smith is still here inside me."

She opened her mouth to protest. "But I can't be in your heart in the same way; I get that, I really do. One day I'll be able to live with that, and I'll need your friendship when Dad..."

He gave her hand a consoling squeeze. "Until one day, Donna Noble," he said, and stood up to leave.

"Say goodbye to Martha for me," she requested as he turned to go. "Goodbye, Doctor."

When he was far enough away not to hear her, Donna added, "I'll always love you, John. God, how will I live without you?"

She would never know that he had heard every word.

Donna staggered in exhaustedly through the front door of her mother's home, feeling anxious beyond words. "Mum? Mum! Where are you? Is it Dad?" she called out and almost fainted with fright when a paramedic appeared at the top of the stairs.

She had returned home numb with shock only to find an ambulance sitting outside her home. That only meant one thing in her mind: the worse was happening.

"I'm up here!" called back Sylvia just before she emerged from her bedroom door. "Your dad had a really bad turn so I called for an ambulance."

Several fretful hours followed sitting in a hospital corridor, holding her mother's hand in support as the spiral progressed further down.

It was only much later that Sylvia even thought to ask, "Why were you home early? What's happened to John? You've not mentioned him once, and you usually go on as if he's the best thing since sliced bread."

"I erm... I didn't want to tell you yet, Mum. That there were these blokes who turned up to the dance with guns," she admitted reluctantly.

"Oh my God! Was anyone hurt?" Sylvia cried out in shock.

All Donna could momentarily do was nod her head. There was no way to avoid this painful subject since it would be in every single newspaper the following morning. "I lost him. John died, Mum!" she wailed. "They took him away from me; and I lost him!"

For one of the few times Donna could remember in her adult life she was hugged by her mother, and they shared their grief as they both lost the man they loved in life.

It was some weeks later that Donna knew for certain that she had to escape her lonely life. Things had become impossible with her mother; so much bitterness wasn't good for their relationship. Donna knew she hadn't been there as much as she could have been at the end of her dad's life, but it didn't make her mother's recriminations any easier to deal with. She had hoped that her possible growing secret would have given her a new focus for all her love; but those hopes were dashed within a short time when it was clear she would not be allowed to keep her small piece of John, so she eventually resolved to seek out the Doctor. This time, if she found him, she wouldn't mess it up. She knew the score now, and she knew the rules of the game; she had read them in John's journal. If she was lucky she could become his friend; she'd decided it was worth the risk.

The End... (but I am planning a sequel called Welcome Mrs Smith)