A/N: Sorry about the way this ends, but you might need a tissue. I know I did.
The good thing about being a Time Lord, Jenny found as the days wore on, was that your appearance didn't alter all that much over time. It meant that she could pop in and out of her parents' lives in no particular order without confusing them too much. Not that their minds were easily confused now that their joint problem had been dealt with.
Over the years they had lived in this universe, on this planet, they had had several dalliances with other people, but it always seemed to be that whenever the person found out about the existence of Jenny and their relationship, they faded out of the scene. In short, neither parent had ended up married, or even in a long term relationship; which was an enormous shame, Jenny felt. Both of them were such loving, caring people, who deserved to be the centre of someone's world.
Still, it was a complete surprise to find out that they were living together as a non-couple fifty odd Earth years later! "Who cares?" Donna had stridently asked her when Jenny had thought to voice her surprise. "Everyone assumes we are brother and sister, or husband and wife anyway, so why disappoint them? I certainly don't care. I do get asked about you though."
"You do?" Jenny queried, her interest piqued.
"Of yes! Nosey load of so-and-sos," was the reply.
"Don't be mean," Half Ten immediately put in. "You'd be heartbroken if no one asked after us, let alone wondered about our Jenny here."
"True," Donna agreed. "If they didn't mention her I'd soon bring Jenny into the conversation, don't you worry."
"I didn't say I was worried," he teased.
"I should think you wouldn't be, considering you've got nothing to worry about as you get waited on hand, foot and finger," Donna remarked.
"I do not!" he protested, causing her to laugh. "I look after you just as much."
"That you do," she agreed, and patted his hand. "I wouldn't be without you now."
"A bit hard to. We seem to be welded to each other," he pretended to gripe.
"I know. It's the handcuffs, isn't it? It always comes back to the handcuffs." She then shot him a cheeky look.
"What handcuffs?" Jenny wanted to know as she placed a fresh cup of tea in front of them both and they acknowledged their gratitude.
"Oh, you know. Anyway, moving on…" Half Ten vaguely answered. "Been anywhere interesting lately?"
"Ah," Jenny sighed. "That's partly why I've come to see you both."
"Aw gawd, this sounds bad," Donna remarked.
"Give the girl a chance to tell us," Half Ten chided her. "It might be good news. You never know, we might finally be grandparents."
Jenny found herself facing two expectant expressions. She gulped nervously. "Well, I have met someone."
A wide grin broke out. "See! I told you!"
"Dad, I don't quite mean in that way," Jenny cautiously retorted. "Okay, there is a man that was very pleasant, and we chatted for quite a long time."
"Did you ask him to become your companion? Because you know how we feel about that sort of thing," Donna reminded her. "We worry about you being on your own."
"I'm sure you do, Mum, but I'm a big girl now and I can look after myself," Jenny replied, somewhat defensively. "No, that wasn't the reason I brought him up. He…" She paused for breath, unsure how to broach the subject. "He said he might know where Dad is."
Donna reached over and carefully took Half Ten's hand between her own. "And?"
"I've got a positive lead. Do you think I should follow it?" Jenny tried to show deep concern whilst hiding her excitement at her news. "Mum, Dad, should I?"
They both nodded back at her. "Of course you should," Half Ten said far too quietly. "He's your real father, after all."
"You are my real father," Jenny insisted, throwing herself down onto her knees in front of them in order to grasp his spare hand. "You've always been there for me, and isn't that what matters at the end of the day?"
She hated seeing him upset, and this subject tended to bring up all sorts of insecurities for both her parents. How could she fail to see them as anything else after all they had done for her? They had accelerated the growth of a TARDIS and handed it over to her to travel through time and space when they could have used it purely for themselves. They had also promised to always wait for her to return, although she knew they were fast approaching the day when they wouldn't be able to keep hold of that promise.
"Jenny, we already know," he stated, giving her hand a squeeze. "We get one more visit and then that's it for us."
"But…" She swept her gaze between them, taking in their resigned acceptance. "How do you know?"
"Because you told us, love," Donna answered when Half Ten teared up. "We know what's coming and we've made our decision. In fact we made it years ago; nothing has changed."
"I don't understand," Jenny admitted, somewhat puzzled.
"You go and find your real dad. He needs you and we're not much use to you anymore"
"That's not true," she denied.
"I think it is," Donna disagreed. "He is so lonely, whereas we've got each other, have done since the metacrisis. You go, love, be a proper Time Lord and see all those stars for us. We've held you back for too long."
As Jenny opened and closed her mouth, Half Ten added his own plea, "Go make us even prouder of you. You'll know what to do."
Jenny threw her arms around them in a grateful hug. "You are the best parents in the whole universe!" she declared.
"That's only because we have the best daughter."
Tears shone in her eyes as she drew back from them. Jenny didn't know, nor care, which one had complimented her; she knew they both meant it. With renewed determination, she told them all about her latest travels, and they laughed together; something they had always been able to do.
Laughter had had been their medicine through all the trials of their life, all the disappointments and the heartbreaks. Jenny encouraged them to remember how naïve she had once been as they had tried to explain what adult love was; her wonder when she first saw a baby being born, even though it had been on the telly, and her dad had been mortified to be asked how it had got there in the first place. She recalled how she had lain in bed listening to their conversations, and boy had they been revealing! Who would have thought sex talk could be so informative and entertaining?
Through all the teasing and questions about failed relationships, Jenny had known her parents loved each other in their own special way. Her friends had thought they were mad to care so deeply and remain friends in the way that they had, but Jenny had known why and understood. No one knew the true nature of how they had come to be together. Most had assumed it had been a shotgun wedding of some sort. From what her friends had said, Jenny also knew that they had been a good role model for her to follow because other people's parents simply stopped liking one another. If she could have half the relationship they had when she eventually chose a romantic mate, then she would be happy.
The weird thing was that it had been extremely easy to tell the lie that her parents had once been married and together in order to explain why they were her parents. That fact had puzzled Jenny, so whenever it was assumed, she had asked the person why they believed it. Without fail, everyone had pointed to the fond insults they used, the tender touches of comfort, the way they smiled, how they deferred to one another, and how they behaved towards Jenny herself as if she was the shining light in their lives. No wonder any possible spouses had almost run for the hills, for how can you possibly compete with that?
In light of that, it was strange how she came to notice the lonely man watching her mother late that afternoon as she pottered about in the garden.
Donna spied the man standing by the fence as she pruned a beautiful but overgrown rose bush. She smiled at him in greeting, and was relieved when he smiled back. "Are you here for a visit?" she asked him as she straightened up.
"Yes," he answered softly, and adjusted his tie. "I heard that my daughter might be staying near here."
Hmm. That's how he was playing it, was it? "What's she like? Perhaps I know her," she offered.
"Well…" He awkwardly fiddled with his jacket sleeve. "Her name is Jenny, and last time I saw her she had blonde hair."
"Our daughter is called Jenny," Donna stated casually. "And she is blonde. Would you like to meet her?"
"I'm sure she isn't old enough…," he started to say when he spotted Half Ten being escorted from the shed into the garden by Jenny.
Donna tried not to be worried by how ashen Half Ten looked. His ticker wasn't so good anymore and was close to the end of its limited life.
"Mum, I'm just taking Dad in. He's not feeling well. Where's the spare set of shears?" Jenny called out.
"Where they always are!" Donna yelled back, and then she turned to her visitor. "Kids, eh? I'm supposed to be the one with the appalling memory."
He stammered a bit before indicating towards Half Ten, and asked, "Your husband; is he nice?"
There was a merry twinkle in her eye as she replied, "There's a certain something about him. He was a long streak of nothing when we first met, but he proved to be okay." Donna then turned to call to Jenny before he could make a sound. "Jenny, come and meet someone!" She then murmured to him, "Yes I do, and yes she is."
Jenny bound up and shyly said, "Hello."
Donna patted Jenny's arm and told her, "We'll be in the kitchen if you need us." And then she left Jenny to stand there whilst she guided Half Ten inside instead.
Jenny watched them go, needing and fearing this moment. "I'm Jenny Noble," she announced to the stranger. "Am I right in thinking you're…?"
"I'm the Doctor," he stated, slightly stunned. "Did you say Noble?"
"Yes," she eagerly confirmed. "Those are my parents, John and Donna Noble, but they aren't married. They're more like brother and sister; but you already know that, don't you, Dad."
He reluctantly nodded. Then his mouth opened to try and ask a question. "Why do…?"
"Don't I get a hug? I'm sure you could do with one too," Jenny offered.
A broad smile lit up the Doctor's face as he held his arms out and welcomed her body in to his embrace.
From inside the kitchen, both Donna and Half Ten watched the reunion pensively as they held on to each other. "That went well. Our girl has found a new home," Donna stated.
"And just in time," Half Ten agreed. "Ready for our last big adventure together?"
"Yeah," she replied. "It's been good though, ain't it?"
"Definitely! It's been the best. I could never have done this without you," he said, tenderly cupping her cheek.
She clasped her hand over his. "Same here. Onwards, forever."
He returned her fond smile. "Onwards and forever."
When Jenny eventually returned to her parents' home, having had a few adventures with her father, she found the place rather quiet. There was no television on, no sound of a kettle boiling, no tea cups being rattled, not even the sound of laughter; which was the norm.
"Mum? Dad?" she called out as she walked through the rooms, but there was no answer.
Panic gripped her when she spotted the Radio Times spread out on the arm of a chair, carefully opened on the page two days beforehand. They were always so scrupulous about being up to date with any paperwork, no matter how menial it was. She yelled for them as she rushed up the stairs, not knowing which bedroom to go to first. As it was, the choice was made for her, because when she reached the top of the stairs her mother's bedroom door was wide open; almost in invitation. Stepping forward, she could plainly see both her parents lying on the double bed, holding hands to the very end.
"Let me see," the Doctor said as he appeared by her side. Using his sonic screwdriver, he efficiently scanned them and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Jenny. They died within moments of each other."
Jenny staggered against the door frame. It doesn't matter how much you expect something, it still comes as a shock. "They couldn't live without each other. They'd often said that in jest, and it was true." She wiped at her eyes, trying to vainly smile. "They tried; you don't know how often they tried. But they always came back together. Even the alternate universe wasn't enough to keep them apart."
In silent grief, the Doctor wrapped her in his arms and held her tight. Nothing else was needed.
"You have nothing to regret," Jenny would later say to the Doctor. "They both knew you wouldn't come back for them; it just isn't your style."
"And what is my style, Jenny Noble?" he had asked, in his usual distracting way.
"You go on and you live," she had quoted. "Did you ever call someone your best friend again?"
"No," he solemnly answered. "I never could. I got close once, but no one could replace your mother."
"She told me to find you and end your loneliness; in fact they both insisted."
He wryly smiled. "And that's why she was the most important woman in all creation," he commented. "She gave me back you."
They both shared a moment of gratitude.