Ok guys, this is it. It's been gruesome, it's been bittersweet, but you guys have stuck through it all. Thanks so much for all the reviews, follows, and favorites everyone, that's what keeps me writing. Without further ado, the final chapter!
Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock
"Donna, what on Earth are you doing?" Amy heard the Doctor question over her shoulder as they had been in the middle of a hug goodbye. It was time for the Time Lord to depart in his blue box, and while she was saddened as always to see him go, she couldn't be happier to see him fully restored to his mad, traveling self.
Pulling out of his embrace for the moment, Amy turned to see Donna Noble struggling out of the TARDIS with a very bulky suitcase.
The temp appeared to give up her task in favor of answering and so dropped the thing with a thud, straightening up and blowing her bangs out of her face. "As you so kindly pointed out last night, Martian, my things are still on your ship. So I figured I'd get them out before you forget and whisk them off to who-knows-where." She grabbed at the handle of her luggage again, but something had caught on the threshold and it didn't budge. "How does Gramps manage it?"
"Um, you want some help with that?" Jack offered. He, Martha, and Mickey had come back this afternoon in order to bid their own farewells.
As the Captain stepped forward, however, the Doctor, absolutely perplexed, said, "But I thought the whole point of your things being on board was so that I could 'whisk them off to who-knows-where'. With you."
Donna gaped at him. "What? Are you bloody joking?"
He got an affronted look on his face. "I am not. That was the plan, wasn't it? You take some time off, get your life in order, then the universe! Unless you need more time or something. I mean, I just assumed," the alien began to backpedal at her continued incredulous expression.
"What about you getting your life back in order?"
"You have a wife—and a daughter!" Her fellow redhead gestured at the two in question, who had been talking to Rory, Martha, and Mickey.
"I hadn't realized our presence made the TARDIS a no-friend zone," River commented, a slight amused quirk to her lips.
Jenny, on the other hand, looked worried. "Why would we change anything? Don't you want to travel with us?"
"Of course I do, but—"
"Then we'd be happy to have you," River stated, walking over and patting the other woman on the arm.
"I don't want to intrude," Donna protested weakly.
"Well, glad that's settled," the Doctor said brightly, as if the temp hadn't spoken. "Now then," he continued striding over to the police box doors and hefting her suitcase into his arms. "Blimey, I forgot how much you pack! I'll just move this back to your room. It is just the one, isn't it, Donna?"
The woman's gaze shifted away from his hopeful expression as she informed him, "The rest of it's in the console room."
"Donna!" He groaned.
"Oi! Don't get whiny with me, Spaceman, you're the one making me come!" The red-haired woman argued as she followed the alien into the spaceship.
"Do you need any help, dad?" Jenny called after them.
"No!" The Time Lord shouted back.
Amy joined her husband and the others, and looked at her granddaughter. "Now you know when you're running for your lives and your father says he doesn't need help, it really means—"
"I should definitely help him," the blonde replied dutifully, and Amy felt a sense of pride.
"Good girl," she praised before wrapping her arms around the shorter one. Oh, she was going to miss this girl so much. True, the last thing Amy Pond would have asked for before this whole ordeal was a granddaughter, but now that Jenny was real and flesh and blood hugging her back she just felt so incredibly lucky. It wasn't perfect, but it was another chance.
"Don't worry, mum. We'll take good care of each other," her daughter promised, and Amy turned to embrace her next.
"You'll have Christmas dinner at our house, and he also likes to show up unannounced sometimes," Rory was telling Jenny.
"Can we help it we're spontaneous psychopaths?" River shrugged after letting go of her.
"Point," her husband acknowledged.
The sound of a horn honking broke the relative peace, but everyone smiled upon seeing the green car that the noise had originated from.
"Sarah Jane, you made it!" Mickey greeted as the journalist pulled up to the curb and shut the engine off. She and a young boy, looking to be in his late teens, got out and met them.
"Oh thank goodness, we didn't miss it. Hello, everyone. This is Luke, my son," the brunette introduced.
"Come to see our loveable alien off?" Jack inquired with a grin.
"I'm here to see my friend off," Sarah Jane agreed with an amused shake of her head.
"Thanks for coming," Jenny moved forward to hug the older woman, and then shook her son's hand. "And nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you to," Luke replied politely. "Mum says that your whole birth-situation was kind of weird, too."
"Funny you should mention that," the girl started, clearly delighted to have an audience. As the two youngest-looking began to converse, River addressed the rest of them.
"I'm going to make sure to tell Donna this as well when I get the chance, but I just want to thank you all." As everyone opened their mouths to protest, she held up a hand. "I know you all feel like you did what you had to, but really, that's so much more than anyone could expect."
"It's what we expected of ourselves," Martha stated, and Amy found herself agreeing with the dark-haired woman's words. The whole time they'd been searching for the Doctor she'd never even had a thought that she should be doing something else.
"And don't forget to include yourself in that thank-you," the human doctor's husband added.
"I'm not so modest as to say I don't mean anything to him," the professor conceded, "but he's doing this for you. You all are what keeps him moving. I know it's hard to understand just how much he needs that—"
"River, we get it," Rory interrupted gently, placing his hand on her shoulder.
"And we'll be there for as long as he needs it," she vowed.
The archeologist smiled at them all, and there was a slight wetness to her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered.
Jack was glancing over towards the TARDIS doors. "Uh-oh, serious discussion time over. I think I hear the Bicker Buddies approaching."
"…not even sure why you need all those things anyway. You know, there is a Wardrobe Room, Donna."
"Like I'm trusting your fashion advice," the redhead scoffed as she stepped out of the ship's doors. The Doctor followed after, looking rather insulted.
"What's wrong with my fashion? If it's about the bowtie, for the last time bowties are—Sarah Jane!"
"What?" The temp looked at him, baffled, before following his gaze to the investigative journalist. "Oh!" She recovered quickly. "Glad you could make it."
"We're glad to be here," the older woman replied as she accepted the Time Lord's hug. "Donna, this is my son, Luke. You've already met him, Doctor."
"Yes, although I don't think he's met me," the alien grinned, shaking the teenager's hand. "Or rather this me. Hello, Luke, been looking both ways before crossing the street?"
Luke Smith, for his part, was eyeing the other in wonder. "Wow, you really do change your face."
"You are correct," the Doctor replied, taking great enjoyment as always from the awe of humans. "Your mother tells me you've been doing well at university."
"He helps me take care of K-9, too, when he's home," Sarah Jane informed him with pride. Her friend clapped the shorter male on the shoulder.
"Oh, dad, can we visit sometime? I really want to meet K-9," Jenny piped up, and Amy had to marvel at the interest and fondness reserved for a metal dog.
"Of course," the girl's father promised. "But for now, we've got a whole universe to explore."
"Wait, wait!" Out of the Chiswick house came Wilfred Mott and Sylvia Noble, running up to the group. "Have to wish our Donna good luck, after all," the old man clarified.
"Do try your best to be careful," Sylvia was advising her daughter even as they hugged. "Heaven knows he won't."
"I will, mum," the temp assured, rolling her eyes good-naturedly. She then hugged her grandfather tightly. "Bye, Gramps. I'll call as often as I can."
"Oh, thank you sweetheart, but we'll be fine. Go on out there and see those stars, eh?" The soldier pulled back and straightened his posture, snapping the Doctor a salute.
"Thank you, Wilf," the Doctor acknowledged, smiling genuinely as opposed to his usual disdain for military procedure. He faced the group at large, shaking his head as he remarked, "You all didn't have to come to see us off."
"Of course we did," Jack replied stubbornly.
It seemed their friend saw the lost cause that was convincing them otherwise, so he simply said, "Thank you. I truly hope the next time I see you lot all together, it's for a much happier occasion." They knew how much he hated worrying them, even as he knew he couldn't stop them from doing so.
"Well, why don't we just set up a day in the summer?" Rory suggested, and they all turned in interest to the man. "You know, just meet up and talk, have a meal. It's a bit domestic—"
"Why are you so unbelievably smart?" Amy asked rhetorically, reassuring him before he even had time to begin doubting himself with a kiss to his cheek.
"How would you lot feel about the 15th of July?" Mickey offered, adding, "It's Mandy's birthday, so Martha and I will both be calling off anyway."
"That sounds wonderful," Sarah Jane agreed with a smile.
"Barring any work incidents, I'm in," Jack gave his answer.
"I think that's a great idea. You know, Mandy is such a sweet kid," Donna told the proud parents.
"We're up for anything," Amy answered for the Ponds.
"July 15th it is, then!" The Doctor summed up, clapping his hands together and positively beaming, like just stopping by to see them all would be the adventure of the century for him.
"Speaking of Mandy," Martha mentioned, retrieving something from the bag that was slung over her shoulder, "she drew this and asked me to give it to you." It turned out to be a crayon drawing of the very blue box they were all standing before at the moment. A very vibrant blue with a bright yellow bulb on top and even the words 'Police Public Call Box' scrawled in a child's messy hand.
Slowly, almost reverently, the Time Lord reached a hand out, fingers halting just short of brushing it. His eyes flickered up to the human doctor's face as if asking permission, and at the tiny encouraging nod he received, he carefully plucked the drawing out of her hands and held it up to study intently. His face obscured now by the paper, it was the slight quivering of his shoulders that let Amy know just what he was trying to hide.
Jenny placed a gentle hand on her father's arm, and said to Martha, "Thank you. It really—"
"It- it's beautiful," the Doctor interrupted, his daughter's show of support seeming to allow him to open up just that little bit more. He'd lowered the paper enough so that she could see the slight wetness just leaking out of the corners of his eyes. By her daughter's warm smile, Amy could tell that River shared the same fondness and admiration for the drawing. "I mean, this ought to be in the Louvre!" His shaking voice betrayed the sincerity behind his attempt at humor, but they all chuckled anyway. The Smith-Jones pair was ready for the hug he pulled them into, not before making sure to hand the painting off to Jenny for safekeeping. "Thank you, Mickey Smith and Martha Jones, and your beautiful, kind family."
Upon pulling back, the alien wiped quickly at his eyes, likely trying to cover up his display of 'humany-wumany' emotions. Though some, like Sarah Jane, averted their gaze respectfully, others, like Jack, just grinned in delight at the sight. The Doctor glanced once at the Captain, giving in with a sigh and opening his arms.
"Any chance we can go easy on the hug?" He asked with just a hint of hopefulness.
"Not a chance, Doc," Jack replied, already wrapping the other man in one of his infamous bear-hugs, though Amy thought the American was perhaps being just a bit more careful than usual. They were all still anxious about his physical recovery, after all.
"Keep up the good work with the Torchwood team, Captain, and pass along my thanks."
"They'll be glad to hear it," Jack informed him. "They keep pestering me to introduce you to them, you know?" Amy found herself curious to meet the immortal man's coworkers, especially now that they'd helped them so much, particularly with the capture of Richard Butler.
"Some other time, then," the Doctor promised, and Jack released him. He turned next to the one out of all of them he'd known the longest. "My Sarah Jane Smith."
She leaned into his embrace and held him tightly. "I'm so glad we found you," she confessed, face turned to the side so he could hear, and he smiled into her hair.
"I am, too. I truly am." His eyes jumped up to the young boy standing close by. "You look after your mother for me, Luke Smith. She's too much of a treasure to do otherwise."
The journalist stepped back in order to duck her head in modest embarrassment. "Oh, really," she muttered, a pleased smile still turning up the corners of her mouth.
"I will," the teenager promised.
The Doctor nodded once, satisfied, before his eyes landed on her and Rory. "Ah, Ponds. I suppose I should apologize for the constant surprises." Jenny grinned a bit sheepishly along with him, but Amy shook her head.
"Nothing to apologize for. We like surprises."
"Especially good ones," her husband added, smiling warmly at the girl.
The Time Lord seemed glad to hear it, yet continued, "Still, you didn't have to- I mean, I'm incredibly grateful that you did, but—"
"You don't have to thank us," she chided him. "We don't care if it's by blood or not, Jenny's our granddaughter. And we're just grateful both you and her are safe, yeah?"
"Yes, well, I will be bringing her and your daughter back to visit often, don't you worry about that."
"We'll look forward to it, then," she informed him.
"And Doctor, I realize the adventuring is really fun," Rory conceded, "but just try and take it easy every once in a while. I mean, all of time and space? Have a day off every hundred years or so."
"We'll make sure he's not pushing it, dad, I promise," their daughter assured, placing a hand on the alien's arm when he tried to open his own mouth in answer. He pouted a bit until she smiled sweetly up at him, and then gave a long-suffering sigh.
"Oh, alright, if you insist. It can't hurt me." Rory appeared to be resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the other's grudging acceptance, but returned the hug their friend gave him. Assuming permission for once, the Doctor then wrapped her in a final hug. "We'll all miss you, Ponds," he murmured into her ear. "You sure you don't want to try another anniversary trip?"
It honestly had been such a long time since they'd flown in the TARDIS on an adventure with the mad man. And with a good part of their family now permanent passengers, it was an even more tempting offer. "Maybe," she muttered back under her breath. "I'll have to convince Rory, though. He's not too keen on those after the Starliner."
"Hm, good point. I will do my best to find something not doomed to crash and or blow up."
"Don't try too hard; that's half the fun." He pulled back laughing and she grinned. "Gotcha," she said smugly.
"Oh, you all…if we don't get going, I don't think I'm going to be able to leave," he shook his head, seeming half-irritated at them for proving so hard to depart from and half-irritated at himself for not having the strength to simply depart. "Now then, Donna, are you ready?"
"Well sure, I mean, I really don't have to—"
"You're not intruding, and I promised you last time that I'd take you to see the universe," he dismissed her concerns with a wave of his hand, turning more serious as he placed his hands on her shoulders. "I want you to come."
Donna's resolve seemed to break at last as she threw her arms around him. "Oh thank God! I mean, I can't lie- I really want to. Oh, I've been waiting for this all year!"
When she let him go he grinned and took her hand. "Brilliant! Cause you know, there's loads more out there waiting for you."
"Yeah, plus someone's got to keep me company when these two want to be alone," Jenny remarked, gesturing to her parents. River smirked while her husband spluttered and turned rather red.
"Well that's- we—young lady, that is not—"
The blonde merely giggled, grabbing Donna's hand in one of hers and her father's hand's hand with her other one, who in turn grabbed hold of River's even as he was still blushing, and the group made their way into the TARDIS. Recovering from his discomfiture by completely changing the subject, he addressed the temp. "You know, I think maybe you'd like to just pop in real quick at the Ood Sphere—you won't recognize the place!" River and Jenny turned back quickly to wave a last goodbye before shutting the doors.
"Do I even want to know what an Ood Sphere is?" Sylvia Noble asked aloud before turning and heading back for the house. Wilf just grinned as he followed.
"Whatever it is, I'll bet it's got some aliens!"
Luke began to head back to the little car, but Amy was frowning in puzzlement. Usually the blue box would have vanished by now. Perhaps they were having trouble deciding on a pilot.
But then one of the doors banged open again and the Doctor poked his head out. "Wait!" They all jumped, wondering just what the holdup was now. "We said July 15th—what year?"
She and several others rolled their eyes, Rory raised an eyebrow, and Jack even slapped a hand to his forehead at the completely genuine question.
"Only the Boss," Mickey sighed, shaking his head.
Fortunately River appeared in the doorway next to him, tugging gently on his arm. "We've got it all worked out, Sweetie, I promise."
"Are you sure, cause I'd hate to get it wrong," he replied, though another thought seemed to occur to him. "What sort of thing might Mandy like for her birthday, Martha? Any particular time period or planet I should get it from?"
Martha laughed as she said, "Mandy tends to like normal, Earth things, Doctor. She's not even five!"
"I'm sure we'll think of something," River added, and he turned to her again.
"Yes, I suppose you're right—" But something he'd spotted as his eyes had darted back inside the ship had them widening in alarm. "No, Jenny, not the green switch!" He sprinted back up the stairs to the console. "Donna, assume the position!"
"What position?" They heard the redhead holler back. River sighed before snapping the door shut, likely so she could race to the controls to fix whatever accidental damage had been done. But the TARDIS took off, quite literally as it soared upward some fifty or sixty feet in the air and spinning five times. As they all shielded their eyes to watch in some amazement and fear, the familiar wheezing was heard at last and the box faded from sight.
"I'm not sure I want to know what'll happen with those four crammed in there," Mickey spoke up after a moment of silence, and they all laughed. Because just the idea of the three Time Lords and Donna Noble traveling the universe together sounded like an adventure, and possibly a headache.
But Amy couldn't wait to hear all about it.
So there it is, the story. I'm hoping the end has made up for all the drama and feels I put you guys through during this. Once more, I want to thank everyone for reading, reviewing, favoriting, following, adding it to your C2s, and whatever else. Your feedback and support keeps me coming back to write more! Now before anybody starts demanding a sequel, I will state that if I choose to, I have one final idea that I might want to use this established AU to write about. But I'd likely wait a couple weeks, perhaps a month to start on it. Of course if nobody wants a sequel, that's cool too. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the fic, thank you so much for reading, and please review!