Hello everyone! I am a regular to but this is my first Doctor Who story. So, please review and please, no terrible flames. I tried to stay within established timelines the best that I could. I do not own Doctor Who but if I did, the things I would do to No.10. Hope you enjoy.
Donna Noble watched the Doctor move around the console and randomly flipped switches or turn dials. His attention was focused on the console and the display screens. One hand was thrust deep into his pocket and the other was dancing across the controls. The TARDIS wobbled and groaned as she took off. Donna steadied herself on the railing and continued to watch the Doctor. She didn't have to ask; something was bothering him. It must be about that woman at the Library; the one that saved all of them. The one with the fiery temper that kept calling him sweetie even when she was being sarcastic.
After the Doctor had run off in a frenzy, she didn't see him again until she spotted him leaning against the wall. She had no luck finding Lee among the hundreds. No one recognized the description she gave; she wasn't even sure if it was even his real name. The Doctor looked almost like how she felt. They were both all right; all right meaning barely hanging in there.
"So, where to now, my dear Donna Noble? How about Cloptania? Planet is inhabited by a large, subspecies of goats. They have a fascinating social hierarchy."
"How about a relaxing planet? Is there such a thing? A planet where nothing exciting happens? How about a planet that is a spa?" Donna asked and slowly walked around the console.
"Why would you want relaxing? Relaxing is boring. Boring is tedious. And life is not boring or tedious. Life is…life is precious. Life is vital."
Donna watched as the energy seemed to leech out of the Doctor. The brown, pin stripe suit and trench coat hung off him as he braced his arms on the console. His head hung low and a shudder raced through his body.
When he looked up, Donna was saddened by what she saw. Somehow, he looked so old and so young at the same time. His face and body looked lost in the suit and lost in his world. Adrift and floating, looking for somewhere he could toss a tether to. His eyes, however, were ancient. Ancient and exhausted. Ancient and pained. At that moment, Donna, saw how old the Doctor was and how much he had seen. So many people that he tried to save and ultimately realizing that he couldn't. He couldn't save the most important ones. The ones he had to watch die. The amount of death and destruction he had seen; a lot of it at his own hands. He looked broken.
"Just reminded of some old memories. Memories I really wish would stay buried," he answered softly and pushed away from the console to run both hands through his wild hair.
"Our memories make us who we are, space man. Memories are important. Memories are powerful," Donna muttered as the Doctor shrugged out of his trench coat.
In less than a second, the Doctor went from quiet to raging. He balled up the trench coat and flung it angrily across the room. Fury marred his face and his eyes blazed dangerously. His eyes darted around the console room and his hands clenched and unclenched.
"Memories are a curse to me, Donna! I have nine hundred years of memories. All of them bad; of the nine hundred, maybe one hundred of good memories. I don't like those odds. And you humans have such short life spans. I blink and one of you die. Another blink and another dead," he fumed, pacing back and forth in front of Donna.
He would have continued ranting if Donna hadn't stepped into his path and slapped him hard across the cheek. The blow knocked him sideways and he staggered against the console. The TARDIS was silent as the Doctor straightened to look at Donna. He still had his hand to his cheek where Donna struck him. His skin turned a bright pink in the shape of her hand. He lowered his hand to look at it to confirm no blood. Donna's eyebrows were raised, daring him to comment.
"Right, thanks for that. Now, what-"
A knock sounded at the door and both of them turned to look.
"Did we land somewhere?" Donna asked as the Doctor pulled over the suspended screen.
"What?" the Doctor questioned again while staring at the screen.
Donna moved to stand behind the Doctor and look over his shoulder. The knocking was becoming insistent.
"We're floating in the vortex. We haven't landed anywhere yet," he said in confusion while skimming the screen.
"So, who's knocking then?" Donna questioned while pointing to the door.
The Doctor and Donna stared at each other before looking down the ramp towards the door.
"We shouldn't keep them waiting," he said and jogged down the ramp to the door.
He flung the door open with a flourish and promptly had to duck as something flew towards his head. Donna yelped and dove under the console as the something ricocheted off the wall and then struck one of the coral ribs. The Doctor slammed the door shut and ran back to the console. The something buzzed by his head again but danced out his reach. The Doctor crouched and eyed the object as he rocked side to side, ready to move. The object darted towards his left and the Doctor made a wild dive to catch the something before he hit the grating floor.
"Well, hello there," the Doctor said with a smile while lying on his back and inspecting the something.
"Doctor, what is that?" Donna gasped and slowly stood from her crouched position.
"It's a mail cube; a travelers' way of sending mail. But they are unreliable. Take the usual British postal system. Things can get lost for years. It's been traveling for a while though," he mused as he sat up and rotated it in his hands.
The white cube emitted a pale glow and the edges were scuffed and marked. One corner was scraped harshly and almost rounded off. It was smoking slightly in the Doctor's hands.
Donna stood back as the Doctor jumped to his feet, his earlier foul mood forgotten. "So, who sent you mail?"
The Doctor shrugged. "I dunno. Let's find out."
He held the cube on his open palm and tapped the top panel with his other hand. A light shot out from the opposite side and a form started to take shape. The light flickered before growing in strength and the shape solidified to become a young woman. She was dressed in a white toga with inch wide shoulder straps. Her body was slim and toned by the way the toga fell. A rich blue colored belt wrapped around her waist a few times before tying off and dangling down her left side to her knee. Falling down behind her was a square piece of cloth of the same rich blue color. The lower corner went down to just behind her knees. The left and right corners went down to her hands and somehow connected to her fingers. Her hands were loosely clasped in front of her and the blue cloth billowed behind her. She had elbow length, pale brunette hair with sun streaks. It fell in waves over her right shoulder and brushed past her eye. Her eyes were a bright blue and her lips were an average red color. She was pale but that seemed to be her natural skin tone.
"Hello, Doctor," she said with a strong but warm voice.
The Doctor dropped the cube as if it burned him and it bounced off Donna's foot.
"Ow! Doctor, why did you drop it?" she asked and bent to pick up the cube.
Donna turned to look at her friend and was shocked into silence. The Doctor was already pale, but any color he had in his face had drained away. His eyes stared at the cube in Donna's hands but he was trying to get away from it. His long legs got tangled and he started to crumble into a heap. Donna's arms shot out and she caught the Doctor midway down. Tossing the cube onto the console, she man-handled the Doctor into the nearby chair. Standing in front of him, she positioned herself between the Doctor and the cube and forced him to look at her.
"Doctor, what's wrong?"
His mouth opened and closed a few times as his hands rubbed his head. He was actually at a loss for words. Or at least couldn't figure out how to put it into words.
"That was my wife," he muttered in shock.
Donna backed up until she bumped into the console and leaned against it.
"Your wife? You're married?"
The Doctor grimaced before sighing. "I am, or more exactly, I was. A long time ago. She died though."
Donna moved to sit next to him and hesitated before gripping his hand closest to her. He immediately returned the grip and gave her a weak smile.
He paused for a moment before answering. "She died in the Great Time War. I was too late to save them."
Donna was silent as she looked between the Doctor and the cube. She knew there was more to the story; could feel it. But the Doctor looked like he could shatter at any moment if she poked in the wrong place. She had to be delicate; if such a thing was possible.
"Don't you think if she worked so hard to get this to you then you should listen?"
He stared at the cube and Donna saw him struggling with himself. She squeezed his hand and received a weak smile in return. He reached out and picked up the cube again. Holding it out in his open palm, Donna reached out and tapped the top.
The woman reappeared in front of them again and Donna felt a faint tremble race through the Doctor.
"Hello, Doctor. I don't know when you'll be getting this, but I imagine I will be long dead by the time you do receive it. I've adjusted the tracking option to take the long way around to find you. So this could have been banging around the universe for a while; I'm not sure. You were the better one at tinkering with things than me," she said and chuckled softly as her gaze dropped to the ground.
She took a deep breath and raised her eyes up to look straight ahead again.
"You've just left to go back to the front lines, and I know when you come back, I won't recognize my own husband. You've changed so much because of this war," she choked and the hologram showed a tear trickle down her cheek.
"I begged you to run away. We would take the children and just run and never look back. But you knew what the daleks were capable of and that they must be stopped. You've seen so many horrible things, done by the daleks and by our own kind. It took you a while to know what you had to do but you realized it after everything. I know you did, because you are so brilliant. I hope this helps you remember. Remember why it had to be done. And I never blamed you for any of it. I would have gone anywhere with you, my love. Anywhere and at any time, I will always love you, Doctor."